Fragmentary Friday: Achilles Never Could Abide Delays (Euripides, 727c)


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Euripides, Telephos fr. 727c (=Frag. Pap. 149)

In the larger Trojan War narrative, the Greeks arrive in Asia Minor and attack, only to discover they have attacked the Mysians led by Herakles’ son Telephos. Achilles wounds Telephos and the fleet eventually withdraws. (In some traditions, Achilles has to heal Telephos to continue with the expedition).

Achilles: Have you just now arrived from your sea-bound land
Odysseus? Where is the assembly of your companions?
Why are you waiting? You should not stay here at rest!

Odysseus: It seems time to start the expedition and these things
Are a concern to those in charge. You’ve arrived on time, son of Peleus.

Achilles: But our army is not at oar on the shore
Nor is the infantry presently drawn up!

Odysseus: Soon. It is necessary to hurry at the right time.

Achilles: You all are always lazy and postponing—
Each of you sits here making countless speeches
But nothing is every accomplished!
But I, as you see, I have come ready to act
And my army of Myrmidons too! I will sail
Not waiting on the delays of Atreus’ sons.”

᾿Αχιλλε(ύς) μῶν καὶ σὺ καινὸς ποντίας ἀπὸ χθονὸς
ἥκεις, ᾿Οδυσσεῦ; ποῦ ‘στι σύλλογος φ[ί]λων;
τί μέλλετ’; οὐ χρῆν ἥσυχον κεῖσθαι π[ό]δα.

᾿Οδ(υσσεύς) δοκεῖ στρατεύειν καὶ μέλει τοῖς ἐν τέλει
τάδ’· ἐν δέοντι δ’ ἦλθες, ὦ παῖ Πηλέως.

᾿Αχιλλ(εύς) οὐ μὴν ἐπ’ ἀκταῖς γ’ ἐστὶ κωπήρης στρατός,
οὔτ’ οὖν ὁπλίτης ἐξετάζεται παρών.

᾿Οδ(υσσεύς) ἀλλ’ αὐτίκα· σπεύδειν γὰρ ἐν καιρῶι χρεών.

᾿Αχιλλε(ύς) αἰεί ποτ’ ἐστὲ νωχελεῖς καὶ μέλλετε,
ῥήσεις θ’ ἕκαστος μυρίας καθήμενος
λέγει, τὸ δ’ ἔργον [ο]ὐ̣δαμοῦ περαίνεται.
κἀ̣[γ]ὼ μέν, ὡς ὁρᾶ[τ]ε, δρᾶν ἕτοιμος ὢν
ἥκ̣ω, στρατός τε Μ̣[υρ]μιδών, καὶ πλεύσ[ομαι
τὰ [τ]ῶν ᾿Ατρειδ̣[ῶν οὐ μένων] μελλήμ[ατα.

Vaginal Shipwreck: A Filthy Renaissance Poem NSFW

CAVE LECTOR: Some readers may find this poem a bit offensive. I softened the language somewhat in translating into English some of the more controversial language, but it’s still pretty lascivious!

Antonio Beccadelli, Hermaphroditus 2.7

“My learned friend, is there any way to prevent Ursae’s vagina from taking in my balls? Is it at all possible to prevent this leech from sucking me in thigh-deep, or even sucking me in all the way to my stomach? Aurispa, either find some remedy to pull it tighter, or I’ll be shipwrecked in that vagina for sure.”


Ecquis erit, vir gnare, modus ne vulva voracis

Ursae testiculos sorbeat ampla meos?

Ecquis erit, totum femur haec ne suggat hyrudo,

ne prorsus ventrem suggat ad usque meum?

Aut illam stringas quavis, Aurispa, medela,

aut equidem cunno naufragor ipse suo.

The Roman Ninety-nine percent

You may well ask about them. Everyone who was not a member of the socio-economic elite. The overwhelming majority of people in the Roman empire. In the traditional “best” authors if they are lucky enough to appear at all, it is as  the object of olympic-class snark. Here is an example, again from Ammianus Marcellinus:

“And since I think it may be some readers by way careful examination may see and bring it against me as a negative that this, and not that, happened first, or that those things which they themselves saw are omitted… thus I must satisfy them this far, that not everything which has taken place among persons of the lowest class is worth describing; and if this were necessary to be done, even the mass of facts to be had from public records would not do, and this at a time when there was such a general plague of evils, and a new, reckless insanity was mingling the highest with the lowest; for it was clearly evident that it was not a judicial trial which was to be feared, but a suspension of legal proceedings.”
Ammianus Marcellinus 28.1.15

Et quoniam existimo, forsitan aliquos haec lecturos, exquisite scrutando notare, strepentes id actum esse prius, non illud, aut ea, quae viderint praetermissa: hactenus faciendum est satis quod non omnia narratu sunt digna, quae per squalidas transiere personas, nec si fieri fuisset necesse, instructiones vel ex ipsis tabulariis suppeterent publicis, tot calentibus malis et novo furore sine retinaculis imis summa miscente, cum iustitium esse, quod timebatur, non iudicium aperte constaret

I have colored the major sententia antiqua which, incidentally, appeared in the nifty title of review-article I wrote on same. [I do not claim the article to be nifty because niftiness of article, like love, is in the eye of the beholder.]

And here is what he has to say about a whole pack of the Ninety-nine Percent. The scene is a riot gone very far south in the fourth century:

“A few days later the populace again became excited to its usual hot temper….”
Ammianus Marcellinus 15.7.3

Diebusque paucis secutis cum itidem plebs excita calore quo consuevit….

Leontius, prefect of Rome didn’t get no respect. [Prefect of the City of Rome in the traditional senatorial career list was one of the proconsular posts (proconsular = for former consuls); traditionally those posts were reserved for consulars with distinguished consulships based on military achievements or civilian achievements. Military achievements got one a governorship of one of the major Roman provinces (Syria especially, also,among others, Britain and Africa); civilian achievements got on Curator of the Tiber or Prefect of the City of Rome. In the fourth century they had become a pale shadow of their former glory, since Gallienus in the third century had either forbidden, or made it very hard (the source texts are ambiguous) for senators to hold military commands. One result: senators opted out of the system and retired to their villas to sulk, hating learning like poison as we saw here. Still, they did hold the posts on occasion:

“Therefore, sitting in a carriage, with every appearance of confidence, he looked with fierce eyes at the countenance of the close packed mobs of rioters thronging towards him from all quarters, and agitating themselves like serpents.”
Ammianus Marcellinus 15.7.4

“Insidens itaque vehiculo cum speciosa fiducia contuebatur acribus oculis tumultuantium undique cuneorum veluti serpentium vultus.”

The rioters are graphically compared to snakes, and cuneorum, from cuneus means a military wedge formation; Ammianus is being very snide since the rioters are the exact opposite of the military.

One person does emerge from the mob, Peter Valvomeres, who comes to a rather unpleasant end. This passage gets a wonderful discussion in Erich Auerbach’s Mimesis, a true classic of interpreation of literary texts from Homer to the twentieth century. Written during World War Two in Istanbul, when Auerbach had access to only texts and no scholarship, it is widely read and discussed even today. The third chapter discusses this passage and much more besides; seriously worth your consideration.

Is Ammianus being cranky? Of course. One of the many memorable things I learned as and undergrad from a wonderful Yale Latinist, Tom Cole, was that “to be a Roman historian you had to have a chip on your shoulder. But this is not Ammianus being true to that form in the fourth century AD, although it teemed with objects of crank…snark, even. Let’s wind it way back to the late Roman republic with Sallust:

It behooves all men who wish to excel the other animals to strive mightily and not to pass through life unknown, like the beasts, which Nature has fashioned grubbing he ground and enslaved to the belly. 2All our power, on the contrary, lies in  mind and body; we employ the mind to rule, the body rather to serve; the one we have in common with the Gods, the other with the brutes. 3 Therefore I find it becoming, in seeking good repute, that we should employ the resources of the intellect rather than those of brute strength, with the aim that, since the span of life which we enjoy is short, we may make the memory of our lives as permanent as possible. 4 For the renown which riches or beauty confer is fleeting and frail; mental excellence is a splendid and lasting possession.
Sallust, Catiline, 1.1-4

Omnis homines qui sese student praestare ceteris animalibus summa ope niti decet ne vitam silentio transeant veluti pecora, quae natura prona atque ventri oboedientia finxit. 2 Sed nostra omnis vis in animo et corpore sita est; animi imperio, corporis servitio magis utimur; alterum nobis cum dis, alterum cum beluis commune est. 3 Quo mihi rectius videtur ingeni quam virium opibus gloriam quaerere et, quoniam vita ipsa qua fruimur brevis est, memoriam nostri quam maxume longam efficere; 4 nam divitiarum et formae gloria fluxa atque fragilis est, virtus clara aeternaque habetur.

7 Success in agriculture, navigation, and architecture depends invariably upon mental excellence. 8 Yet many men, being slaves to appetite and sleep, have passed through life untaught and untrained, like mere wayfarers in these men we see, contrary to Nature’s intent, the body a source of pleasure, the soul a burden. For my own part, I consider the lives and deaths of such men as about alike, since no record is made of either.
Sallust, Catiline, 2.7-8

7 Quae homines arant, navigant, aedificant, virtuti omnia parent. 8 Sed multi mortales dediti ventri atque somno indocti incultique vitam sicuti peregrinantes transiere;1 quibus profecto contra naturam corpus voluptati, anima oneri fuit. Eorum ego vitam mortemque iuxta aestumo, quoniam de utraque siletur. 

And it’s not just these two cranky historians. Here’s a page from Zvi Yavetz, Plebs and Princeps (1969)

Yavetz Plebs

By now it is rather obvious; the One Percent had little time for the Ninety-nine Percent except to sneer. There were some exceptions, albeit not many. And the usual Latin word for the Ninety-nine Percent, plebs, did not always mean that, but something way different. There was a time when plebs meant someone who was also in the One Percent. But that is for another post, several actually.

Did anyone say “class warfare”?


The review article mentioned at the start of this piece is my:
Quae Per Squalidas Transiere Personas: Ste. Croix’s Historical Revolution, Helios 11 (1984), 47-82


Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 4.1-25: The Merits of a Spoonful of Sugar


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This passage was famous long before Mary Poppins stole its theme….


“I cross the roadless places of the Pierides
where no earlier step has fallen. I am pleased to find untouched springs
and to drink deep, and to pick new flowers
to fashion into a well-marked crown for my head
from fields where the Muses have covered no man’s temple.
First, this is because I teach about weighty matters
and I try to free the mind from the tight knots of religion;
And then because I elicit lucidity from dark affairs
as I adorn my whole song with the Muses’ charm.
This too does not seem to be separate from reason:
For just as doctors when they try to administer
bitter medicine to children will first spread around
the top of the cup the pleasing touch of sweet honey
so that the unsuspecting youth is deceived
Right to the lips, until they finish drinking down
medicine’s bitter bite, merely tricked but not betrayed;
then he returns to health because of this secret.
So now I, because this lesson often seems to be
rather harsh to those who are unacquainted with it—
the very reason the crowd recoils in response—
I have decided to set out this argument in the sweet-speech
of Pierian song and just in the same way to touch it with the Muses’ honey
if there is any way I am able to hold a mind to this thought
with my verses until you can perceive
the whole nature of the universe and what it is for.”


Avia Pieridum peragro loca nullius ante
trita solo. iuvat integros accedere fontis
atque haurire, iuvatque novos decerpere flores
insignemque meo capiti petere inde coronam,
unde prius nulli velarint tempora musae;
primum quod magnis doceo de rebus et artis
religionum animum nodis exsolvere pergo,
deinde quod obscura de re tam lucida pango
carmina musaeo contingens cuncta lepore.
id quoque enim non ab nulla ratione videtur;
nam vel uti pueris absinthia taetra medentes
cum dare conantur, prius oras pocula circum
contingunt mellis dulci flavoque liquore,
ut puerorum aetas inprovida ludificetur
labrorum tenus, interea perpotet amarum
absinthi laticem deceptaque non capiatur,
sed potius tali facto recreata valescat,
sic ego nunc, quoniam haec ratio plerumque videtur
tristior esse quibus non est tractata, retroque
volgus abhorret ab hac, volui tibi suaviloquenti
carmine Pierio rationem exponere nostram
et quasi musaeo dulci contingere melle;
si tibi forte animum tali ratione tenere
versibus in nostris possem, dum percipis omnem
naturam rerum ac persentis utilitatem.


And you knew this was coming:

Sidonius Needs a Whipping

“In the poetical works of Sidonius, which he afterwards condemned, (l. ix. epist. 16, p. 285,) the fabulous deities are the principal actors. If Jerome was scourged by the angels for only reading Virgil, the bishop of Clermont, for such a vile imitation, deserved an additional whipping from the Muses.”

-Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 3 Chp. 36 Note 79

Homer’s Name and Blindness: Hostage-Taking and Helen’s Rage (Life of Homer 6, Part 2)


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(This is the second half of the so-called Roman Life of Homer)

“Concerning the dates for Homer’s life, the following is reported. Heraclides argues that he is older than Hesiod; Pyrander and Hypsicrates of Amisos claim he was the same age. Krates of Mallos says that he was full-grown sixty years after the end of the Trojan War; but Eratosthenes says it was a hundred years after the Ionian migration; Apollodorus makes it eighty years.

From birth Homer was called Melesigenes or Melesagoras. Later he was called Homer in the Lesbian dialect because of the harm that came to his eyes–the Lesbians call the blind Homeroi. Another account is that the name came because he entrusted to the king as a hostage (Homeros can mean a guarantee).

They say that he was blinded in the following way. When he came to the tomb of Achilles he prayed that he might see the hero as he was when he went into battle arrayed with his second set of arms. When Achilles appeared to him, Homer was blinded by the weapons’ gleam. Because Thetis and the Muses took pity on him, they endowed him with the poetic art.

Others say that he suffered this thanks to to the rage of Helen who was angry at him because he claimed that she abandoned her first husband to follow Alexander. For this reason, the ghost of Helen appeared to him at night and advised him to burn his poems to make himself safe. He could not make himself do this.

People say that he died on the island of Ios when he found himself undone because he could not solve the riddle of the fishing boys. The riddle was: “We left whatever we caught and carry whatever we didn’t”. On his tomb the following epigram is inscribed:

“Here the earth covers the sacred head
of divine Homer, the artist of heroic men”

[For the answer to the Riddle, see below]

περὶ δὲ τῶν χρόνων καθ’ οὓς ἤκουεν ὧδε λέγεται. ῾Ηρακλείδης μὲν οὖν αὐτὸν ἀποδείκνυσι πρεσβύτερον ῾Ησιόδου, Πύρανδρος δὲ καὶ ῾Υψικράτης ὁ ᾿Αμισηνὸς ἡλικιώτην. Κράτης δ’ ὁ Μαλλώτης μεθ’ ἑξήκοντα ἔτη τοῦ ᾿Ιλιακοῦ πολέμου φησὶν ἀκμάσαι, ᾿Ερατοσθένης δὲ μεθ’ ἑκατὸν τῆς ᾿Ιώνων ἀποικίας, ᾿Απολλόδωρος δὲ μετ’ ὀγδοήκοντα.

ἐκαλεῖτο δ’ ἐκ γενετῆς Μελησιγένης ἢ Μελησαγόρας, αὖθις δ’ ῞Ομηρος ἐλέχθη κατὰ τὴν Λεσβίων διάλεκτον, ἕνεκεν τῆς περὶ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς συμφορᾶς, οὗτοι γὰρ τοὺς τυφλοὺς ὁμήρους λέγουσιν, ἢ διότι παῖς ὢν ὅμηρον ἐδόθη βασιλεῖ, ὅ ἐστιν ἐνέχυρον.

τυφλωθῆναι δ’ αὐτὸν οὕτω πως λέγουσιν• ἐλθόντα γὰρ ἐπὶ τὸν ᾿Αχιλλέως τάφον εὔξασθαι θεάσασθαι τὸν ἥρωα τοιοῦτον ὁποῖος προῆλθεν ἐπὶ τὴν μάχην τοῖς δευτέροις ὅπλοις κεκοσμημένος• ὀφθέντος δ’ αὐτῷ τοῦ ᾿Αχιλλέως τυφλωθῆναι τὸν ῞Ομηρον ὑπὸ τῆς τῶν ὅπλων αὐγῆς, ἐλεηθέντα δ’ ὑπὸ Θέτιδος καὶ Μουσῶν τιμηθῆναι πρὸς αὐτῶν τῇ ποιητικῇ.

ἄλλοι δέ φασι τοῦτο αὐτὸν πεπονθέναι διὰ μῆνιν τῆς ῾Ελένης ὀργισθείσης αὐτῷ διότι εἶπεν αὐτὴν καταλελοιπέναι μὲν τὸν πρότερον ἄνδρα, ἠκολου-θηκέναι δ’ ᾿Αλεξάνδρῳ• οὕτως γοῦν ὅτι καὶ παρέστη αὐτῷ φασὶν νυκτὸς ἡ ψυχὴ τῆς ἡρωίνης παραινοῦσα καῦσαι τὰς ποιήσεις αὐτοῦ … εἰ τοῦτο ποιήσοι πρόσχοι. τὸν δὲ μὴ ἀνασχέσθαι ποιῆσαι τοῦτο.

ἀποθανεῖν δ’ αὐτὸν λέγουσιν ἐν ῎Ιῳ τῇ νήσῳ ἀμηχανίᾳ περιπεσόντα ἐπειδήπερ τῶν παίδων τῶν ἁλιέων οὐχ οἷός τ’ ἐγένετο αἴνιγμα λῦσαι• ἔστι δὲ τοῦτο•
ἅσσ’ ἔλομεν λιπόμεσθ’ ἅσσ’ οὐχ ἕλομεν φερόμεσθα.
καὶ αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τῷ τάφῳ ἐπιγέγραπται ἐπίγραμμα τοῦτο•
ἐνθάδε τὴν ἱερὴν κεφαλὴν κατὰ γαῖα καλύπτει
ἀνδρῶν ἡρώων κοσμήτορα θεῖον ῞Ομηρον.

In case any readers are overwhelmed by the riddle and may suffer faint-hearted Homer’s fate, other Homeric Lives provide an interpretation of the riddle. In the Pseudo-Plutarchean Vita (71) we get the following explanation:

“They were obscuring in riddle the fact they actually had discarded whichever of the lice they had caught and killed; but they would still be carrying the lice they did not catch in their clothing. Because he was not able to interpret this, Homer died because of despair.”

αἰνισσόμενοι ὡς ἄρα οὓς μὲν ἔλαβον τῶν φθειρῶν ἀποκτεί-ναντες κατέλιπον· οὓς δ’ οὐκ ἔλαβον ἐν τῇ ἐσθῆτι φέροιεν. ὅπερ οὐ δυνηθεὶς συμβαλεῖν ῞Ομηρος διὰ τὴν ἀθυμίαν ἐτελεύτησε.

The Vita Herodotea contains a similar explanation but contests the cause of Homer’s death:

“When those who were present were not able to interpret what had been said, the boys explained that they were able to catch nothing while fishing but that they were attacked while sitting on land. And they left behind however many of the lice they caught but were carrying home all those they couldn’t. Homer, when he heard these things, spoke these verses:

You are born from the blood of the kinds of fathers
Who are neither wealthy nor tend numerous flocks.

Then it happened that Homer died because of a sickness on Ios, not because he couldn’t interpret what the children said, as some believe, but because of weakness.”

οὐ δυναμένων δὲ τῶν παρεόντων γνῶναι τὰ ῥηθέντα, διηγήσαντο οἱ παῖδες ὅτι ἁλιεύοντες οὐδὲν ἐδύναντο ἑλεῖν, καθήμενοι δὲ ἐν γῇ ἐφθειρίζοντο, καὶ ὅσους μὲν ἔλαβον τῶν  φθειρῶν κατέλιπον· ὅσους δὲ μὴ ἐδύναντο ἐς οἴκους ἀπεφέροντο. ὁ δὲ ῞Ομηρος ἀκούσας ταῦτα ἔλεξε τὰ ἔπεα τάδε·

τοίων γὰρ πατέρων ἐξ αἵματος ἐκγεγάασθε,
οὔτε βαθυκλήρων οὔτ’ ἄσπετα μῆλα νεμόντων.

᾿Εκ δὲ τῆς ἀσθενείας ταύτης συνέβη τὸν ῞Ομηρον τελευτῆσαι ἐν ῎Ιῳ, οὐ παρὰ τὸ μὴ γνῶναι τὸ παρὰ τῶν παίδων ῥηθέν, ὡς οἴονταί τινες, ἀλλὰ τῇ μαλακίῃ.

(There are other versions as well, but all variations on the same idea.)

Homer Might Have Been Roman or Egyptian (Life of Homer, 6; Part 1)


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(from the so-called “Roman Life of Homer”)

Asserting directly and precisely that Homer’s place of birth or city was a specific city or place instead of another is difficult–actually, I think it is impossible. It is necessary instead to list the cities that claim his origin and then to explain his contested genealogy.

Anaximenes, Damastes, and the lyric-poet Pindar declare Homer a Chian–and Theocritus claims the same in his Epigrams. Damastes says that he is a descendent of Mousaios (ten generations later). Hippias, however, and Ephoros locate him in Cymae; But Ephorus makes his forebear Khariphemos who settled Cyme. Timomachus and Aristotle think he is from Ios; according to Antimachus he is from Colophon; according to Stesimbrotus the Thasian he is from Smyrna; according to Philokhoros, he is Argive; and Kallikles says he is from Salamis.

Aristodemos of Nysa claims Homer is Roman based on certain characteristics that occur only among the Romans, such as the game of pessoi and the practice of lesser men willingly rising from their seats for betters. Such customs are practiced by the Romans to this day. Other scholars say that Homer is Egyptian because he has his heroes kiss one another with the mouth, a thing that is customary for Egyptians to do.

According to Stesimbrotus, Homer’s father was Maion the son of Apellis and his mother was Hyrnetho or Cretheis. Deinarchos says his father is Crethon; according to Democrines, he was Alemon. Most sources say Homer is the son of the river Meles near Smyrna, which flows well for a short bit until it issues into the nearby sea. Aristotle records the claim that Homer was born from a daimon who danced with the Muses.

Βίος ῾Ομήρου

Τὸ μὲν ἄντικρυς εἰπεῖν διισχυρισάμενον τήνδε τινὰ σαφῶς εἶναι τὴν ῾Ομήρου γένεσιν ἢ πόλιν χαλεπόν, μᾶλλον δὲ ἀδύνατον εἶναι νομίζω• ἀναγκαῖον δὲ καταριθμῆσαι τὰς ἀντιποιουμένας τῆς γενέσεως αὐτοῦ πόλεις, τό τε γένος
ἐξειπεῖν τὸ ἀμφισβητήσιμον τοῦ ποιητοῦ.

᾿Αναξιμένης μὲν οὖν καὶ Δαμάστης καὶ Πίνδαρος ὁ μελοποιὸς Χῖον αὐτὸν ἀποφαίνονται καὶ Θεόκριτος ἐν τοῖς ἐπιγράμμασιν. ὁ δὲ Δαμάστης καὶ δέκατον αὐτὸν ἀπὸ Μουσαίου φησὶ γεγονέναι• ῾Ιππίας δ’ αὖ καὶ ῎Εφορος Κυμαῖον• ὁ δ’ ῎Εφορος καὶ εἰς Χαρίφημον ἀνάγει τὸ γένος αὐτοῦ, ὁ δὲ Χαρίφημος οὗτος Κύμην ᾤκησε• Τιμόμαχος δὲ καὶ ᾿Αριστοτέλης ἐξ ῎Ιου τῆς νήσου. κατὰ δ’ ᾿Αντίμαχον Κολοφώνιος, κατὰ δὲ Στησίμβροτον τὸν Θάσιον Σμυρναῖος, κατὰ Φιλόχορον δ’ ᾿Αργεῖος, κατὰ Καλλικλέα δὲ τῆς ἐν Κύπρῳ Σαλαμῖνος.

᾿Αριστόδημος δ’ ὁ Νυσαεὺς ῾Ρωμαῖον αὐτὸν ἀποδείκνυσιν ἔκ τινων ἐθῶν παρὰ ῾Ρωμαίοις μόνον γινομένων, τοῦτο μὲν ἐκ τῆς τῶν πεσσῶν παιδιᾶς, τοῦτο δὲ ἐκ τοῦ ἐπανίστασθαι τῶν θάκων τοὺς ἥσσονας τῶν βελτί-στων ἑκόντας, ἃ καὶ νῦν ἔτι φυλάσσεται παρὰ ῾Ρωμαίοις ἔθη.

ἄλλοι δ’ Αἰγύπτιον αὐτὸν εἶπον διὰ τὸ † ἠ † παράγειν τοὺς ἥρωας ἐκ στόματος ἀλλήλους φιλοῦντας, ὅπερ ἐστὶν ἔθος τοῖς Αἰγυπτίοις ποιεῖν. πατρὸς δὲ κατὰ μὲν Στησίμβροτόν ἐστι Μαίονος τοῦ ᾿Απέλλιδος καὶ μητρὸς ῾Υρνηθοῦς ἢ Κρηθηίδος, κατὰ δὲ Δείναρχον Κρήθωνος, κατὰ δὲ Δημοκρίνην ᾿Αλήμονος, κατὰ δὲ τοὺς πλείστους Μέλητος τοῦ κατὰ Σμύρναν ποταμοῦ, ὃς ἐπ’ ὀλίγον ῥέων εὐθέως εἰς τὴν παρακειμένην θάλασσαν ἐκδίδωσιν. ᾿Αριστοτέλης δὲ ἱστορεῖν φησιν † λητὰς ἔκ τινος δαίμονος γεγενῆσθαι τὸν ῞Ομηρον ταῖς Μούσαις συγχορεύσαντος.

“No Help For the Man Who Grieves over What he Cannot Change” Bacchylides, Processions 1


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“Men have one milestone, a single path for fortune:
To make it to life’s end with an unaggrieved heart.
And whoever harbors countless concerns in his thoughts
and wears down his spirit night and day over what’s to come
has a toil that bears no fruit.
What help is there for a man who drowns his heart
By grieving over the things he cannot change?”


Εἷς ὅρος, μία βροτοῖσίν ἐστιν εὐτυχίας ὁδός,
θυμὸν εἴ τις ἔχων ἀπενθῆ δύναται
διατελεῖν βίον· ὃς δὲ μυ-
ρία μὲν ἀμφιπολεῖ φρενί,
τὸ δὲ παρ’ ἆμάρ τε <καὶ> νύκτα μελλόντων
χάριν αἰὲν ἰάπτεται
κέαρ, ἄκαρπον ἔχει πόνον
τί γὰρ ἐλαφρὸν ἔτ’ ἐστὶν ἄ-
πρακτ’ ὀδυρόμενον δονεῖν

Homer In India, Performance, and Sparta: Three Passages from Aelian


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Aelian’s Varia Historia


“[Men say] that the Indians have translated the words of Homer into their own native language and they sing them; and they aren’t the only ones: the Persian kings do too, if we can trust those who write about these things.”

῞Οτι ᾿Ινδοὶ τῇ παρά σφισιν ἐπιχωρίῳ φωνῇ τὰ ῾Ομήρου μεταγράψαντες ᾄδουσιν οὐ μόνοι ἀλλὰ καὶ οἱ Περσῶν βασιλεῖς, εἴ τι χρὴ πιστεύειν τοῖς ὑπὲρ τούτων ἱστοροῦσιν.


“The tradition is that the ancients used to sing Homeric epics in separate parts. For example, they sang the “Battle By the Ships”, the “Doloneia”, the “Aristeia of Agamemnon”, the “Catalogue of Ships,” the “Patrokleia” and the “Ransoming” or the “Contest for Patroklos” and the “Breaking of the Oaths”. These were from the Iliad. From the other poem they sang “Events at Pylos” and “Events at Sparta” “Calpyso’s Cave,” “The Raft Story”, “The Tales of Alkinoos” and “The Kyklopeia” and the “Nekyuia” or “Events with Kike”, “the Washing”, “The Murder of the Suitors,” “The Events in the Country”, “Laertes’ Tale”.

Rather late, Lyrkourgos the Spartan was the first to bring the poetry of Homer together into Greece; He brought them back with him from Ionia when he was living abroad. Later, Peisistratos collected them and had the Iliad and the Odyssey performed.”

῞Οτι τὰ ῾Ομήρου ἔπη πρότερον διῃρημένα ᾖδον οἱ παλαιοί. οἷον ἔλεγον Τὴν ἐπὶ ναυσὶ μάχην καὶ Δολώνειάν τινα καὶ ᾿Αριστείαν ᾿Αγαμέμνονος καὶ Νεῶν κατάλογον καὶ Πατρόκλειαν καὶ Λύτρα καὶ ᾿Επὶ Πατρόκλῳ ἆθλα καὶ ῾Ορκίων ἀφάνισιν. ταῦτα ὑπὲρ τῆς ᾿Ιλιάδος. ὑπὲρ δὲ τῆς ἑτέρας Τὰ ἐν Πύλῳ καὶ Τὰ ἐν Λακεδαίμονι καὶ Καλυψοῦς ἄντρον καὶ Τὰ περὶ τὴν σχεδίαν καὶ ᾿Αλκίνου ἀπολόγους καὶ Κυκλώπειαν καὶ Νέκυιαν καὶ Τὰ τῆς Κίρκης καὶ Νίπτρα καὶ Μνηστήρων φόνον καὶ Τὰ ἐν ἀγρῷ καὶ Τὰ ἐν Λαέρτου. ὀψὲ δὲ Λυκοῦργος ὁ Λακεδαιμόνιος ἀθρόαν πρῶτος ἐς τὴν ῾Ελλάδα ἐκόμισε τὴν ῾Ομήρου ποίησιν· τὸ δὲ ἀγώγιμον τοῦτο ἐξ ᾿Ιωνίας, ἡνίκα ἀπεδήμησεν, ἤγαγεν. ὕστερον δὲ Πεισίστρατος συναγαγὼν ἀπέφηνε τὴν ᾿Ιλιάδα καὶ ᾿Οδύσσειαν.


“Cleomenes the Laconian asserted—in the manner of Spartans—that Homer was a Spartan poet because he spoke about the right way to go to war and that Hesiod was the Helot’s poet, since he talks about how best to farm.”

῎Ελεγεν ὁ Κλεομένης Λακωνικῶς κατὰ τὸν ἐπιχώριον τρόπον τὸν ῞Ομηρον Λακεδαιμονίων εἶναι ποιητήν, ὡς χρὴ πολεμεῖν λέγοντα· τὸν δὲ ῾Ησίοδον τῶν Εἱλώτων, λέγοντα ὡς χρὴ γεωργεῖν.

A Little Knowledge is a Bad Thing, Quintilian, 1.1.8

“What is more, would that pedagogues either were manifestly educated (which is what I would wish in the first place), or would that they at least knew that they were uneducated. Nothing is worse than those who, having moved a little beyond learning the alphabet, pride themselves on a false impression of their own knowledge.”

De paedagogis hoc amplius, ut aut sint eruditi plane, quam primam esse curam velim, aut se non esse eruditos sciant. Nihil est peius iis qui paulum aliquid ultra primas litteras progressi falsam sibi scientiae persuasionem induerunt.


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