Tawdry Tuesday: What Did the Greeks Eat and Screw for 10 Years at Troy?


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Students often complain about the lack of verisimilitude in the heroic diet–even though the Odyssey  mentions that Odysseus’ companions fish and hunt birds before they kill the cattle in Thrinacia, students find something odd about a diet of meat, bread and wine.

Apparently ancient comic poets did too–and they were concerned about the reality of heroic sexual habits as well. Obviously, as the beginning of book 1 of the Iliad makes clear, eligible ladies were not in excess supply.

[Warning: this next passage is a little, well, explicit]
Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 1.46

“Sarpedon makes it clear that they ate fish when he says that being captured is similar to hunting with a fishing net. In the comic charm, Eubolos also says jokingly:

Where dies Homer say that any of the Achaeans
Ate fish? They only ever roast meat—he never has
Anyone of them boil it at all!
And not a one of them sees a single prostitute—
They were stroking themselves for ten years!
They knew a bitter expedition, those men who
After taking a single city went back home
With assholes much wider than the city they captured.

The heroes also didn’t allow freedom to the birds in the air, but they set snares and nets for thrushes and doves. They practices for bird hunting when they tied the dove to the mast of the ship and shot arrows at it, as is clear from the Funeral Games. But Homer leaves out their consumption of vegetables, fish and birds because of gluttony and because cooking is inappropriate, he judged it inferior to heroic and godly deeds.”


The Achaeans did not have this option…

ὅτι δὲ καὶ ἰχθῦς ἤσθιον Σαρπηδὼν δῆλον ποιεῖ (Ε 487), ὁμοιῶν τὴν ἅλωσιν πανάγρου δικτύου θήρᾳ. καίτοι Εὔβουλος κατὰ τὴν κωμικὴν χάριν φησὶ παίζων (II 207 K)·
ἰχθὺν δ’ ῞Ομηρος ἐσθίοντ’ εἴρηκε ποῦ
τίνα τῶν ᾿Αχαιῶν; κρέα δὲ μόνον ὤπτων, ἐπεὶ
ἕψοντά γ’ οὐ πεποίηκεν αὐτῶν οὐδένα.
ἀλλ’ οὐδὲ μίαν ἀλλ’ ἑταίραν εἶδέ τις
αὐτῶν, ἑαυτοὺς δ’ ἔδεφον ἐνιαυτοὺς δέκα.
πικρὰν στρατείαν δ’ εἶδον, οἵτινες πόλιν
μίαν λαβόντες εὐρυπρωκτότεροι πολὺ
τῆς πόλεος ἀπεχώρησαν ἧς εἷλον τότε.


οὐδὲ τὸν ἀέρα δ’ <οἱ> ἥρωες τοῖς ὄρνισιν εἴων ἐλεύθερον, παγίδας καὶ νεφέλας ἐπὶ ταῖς κίχλαις καὶ πελειάσιν ἱστάντες. ἐγυμνάζοντο δὲ πρὸς ὀρνεοθηρευτικὴν [καὶ] τὴν πελειάδα τῇ μηρίνθῳ κρεμάντες ἀπὸ νηὸς ἱστοῦ καὶ τοξεύοντες ἑκηβόλως εἰς αὐτήν, ὡς ἐν τῷ ἐπιταφίῳ δηλοῦται (Ψ 852). παρέλιπε δὲ τὴν χρῆσιν τῶν λαχάνων καὶ ἰχθύων καὶ τῶν ὀρνίθων διά τε τὴν λιχνείαν καὶ προσέτι τὴν ἐν ταῖς σκευασίαι ἀπρέπειαν, ἐλάττω κεκρικὼς ἡρωικῶν καὶ θείων ἔργων.


Note: My small LSJ defines δέφω as “to soften by working by the hand, to make supple, to tan hides.”

The Suda is not in accord with this. It has “dephein: touching the genitals. So, “rubbing” (Dephomenos) instead of “flogging your genitals.”

Δέφειν: τὸ τοῦ αἰδοίου τινὰ ἅπτεσθαι. καὶ Δεφόμενος, ἀντὶ τοῦ ἀποδέρων τὸ αἰδοῖον.

A Plague Like No Other:The Seven-Day Tragic Fever


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Lucian, How to Write History 1


“Dear Philo—people say that during the time of King Lysimachus a plague afflicted the people of Abdera. At first, everyone had a fever that was immediately intense and burned fiercely until around the seventh day the fever subsided—for some when a great deal of blood flowed from their nose, for others when their sweat broke out. But their minds remained in an absurd state of suffering: everyone was crazy for tragedy and they were screaming out iambics and shouting loudly. They were especially singing solos from Euripides’ Andromeda and they adapted Perseus’ speech to song too. The city was full of these pale, thin, seventh-day tragedians singing:

“Lust, you tyrant of gods and men!”

And shouting the rest of these lines at the top of their lungs endlessly until the winter and the great cold stopped their wailing. I suspect that the actor Archelaos created the cause of this affliction. He was very popular then and he had performed the Andromeda for them when it was the middle of the summer, during the hottest part of the year. I think that they contracted the fever in the theater and later reverted into tragedy when they rose from their beds, since the Andromeda was lurking in their memory and Perseus was flitting around everyone’s thoughts with Medousa’s head in his hands.”


᾿Αβδηρίταις φασὶ Λυσιμάχου ἤδη βασιλεύοντος ἐμπεσεῖν τι νόσημα, ὦ καλὲ Φίλων, τοιοῦτο· πυρέττειν μὲν γὰρ τὰ πρῶτα πανδημεὶ ἅπαντας ἀπὸ τῆς πρώτης εὐθὺς ἐρρωμένως καὶ λιπαρεῖ τῷ πυρετῷ, περὶ δὲ τὴν ἑβδόμην τοῖς μὲν αἷμα πολὺ ἐκ ῥινῶν ῥυέν, τοῖς δ’ ἱδρὼς ἐπιγενόμενος, πολὺς καὶ οὗτος, ἔλυσεν τὸν πυρετόν. ἐς γελοῖον δέ τι πάθος περιίστα τὰς γνώμας αὐτῶν· ἅπαντες γὰρ ἐς τραγῳδίαν παρεκίνουν καὶ ἰαμβεῖα ἐφθέγγοντο καὶ μέγα ἐβόων· μάλιστα δὲ τὴν Εὐριπίδου᾿Ανδρομέδαν ἐμονῴδουν καὶ τὴν τοῦ Περσέως ῥῆσιν ἐν μέλει διεξῄεσαν, καὶ μεστὴ ἦν ἡ πόλις ὠχρῶν ἁπάντων καὶ λεπτῶν τῶν ἑβδομαίων ἐκείνων τραγῳδῶν,

σὺ δ’ ὦ θεῶν τύραννε κἀνθρώπων ῎Ερως,

καὶ τὰ ἄλλα μεγάλῃ τῇ φωνῇ ἀναβοώντων καὶ τοῦτο ἐπὶ πολύ, ἄχρι δὴ χειμὼν καὶ κρύος δὲ μέγα γενόμενον ἔπαυσε ληροῦντας αὐτούς. αἰτίαν δέ μοι δοκεῖ τοῦ τοιούτου παρασχεῖν ᾿Αρχέλαος ὁ τραγῳδός, εὐδοκιμῶν τότε, μεσοῦντος θέρους ἐν

πολλῷ τῷ φλογμῷ τραγῳδήσας αὐτοῖς τὴν ᾿Ανδρομέδαν, ὡς πυρέξαι τε ἀπὸ τοῦ θεάτρου τοὺς πολλοὺς καὶ ἀναστάντας ὕστερον ἐς τὴν τραγῳδίαν παρολισθαίνειν, ἐπὶ πολὺ ἐμφιλοχωρούσης τῆς ᾿Ανδρομέδας τῇ μνήμῃ αὐτῶν καὶ τοῦ Περσέως ἔτι σὺν τῇ Μεδούσῃ τὴν ἑκάστου γνώμην περιπετομένου.


They got married in a fever.  Strange plagues indeed….

Arranged Marriages, Solemn Promises: Etymologies of Spondere


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From De Lingua Latina, 6. 69-70

Spondere is to say spondeo,”I promise”, related to sponte, something done willingly—this has the same force as a voluntate, “with personal inclination”. This is why Lucilius writes about the woman from Crete that she came to his bedroom willingly, that she tossed off her clothes of her own desire. Terence intends the same willingness when he says that it is better: “to do something right because of your own correct desire rather than fear of another.”

From the same sponte on which spondere is based, are derived the words despondet  (“he pledges”) and respondet  (“he promises in return, answers”), desponsor  (“promiser”), and sponsa (“promised bride”), and many others that are similar. For one spondet (“solemnly swears”) when he says sponte (“willingly”) spondeo (“I pledge”).  He who has promised (spondidit) is thus a sponsor. He who is by “formal promise” (sponsus) bound to keep a pledge to another person is called a cosponsus.

This is what Naevius is thinking when he says consponsi. If money or a daughter “were promised” (spondebatur) as part of a marriage arrangement, both the money and the girl who was promised (desponsa) would be called sponsa (“pledged”). The money which had been agreed upon under the engagement agreement (sponsu) was called a sponsio (“guarantee”); the man to whom the things were promised would be called a sponsus (“betrothed”) and the day of the agreement would be called “betrothal day” (sponsalis).


Spondere est dicere spondeo, a sponte: nam id idem valet et a voluntate. Itaque Lucilius scribit de Cretaea, cum ad se cubitum venerit sua voluntate, sponte ipsam suapte adductam, ut tunicam et cetera reiceret. Eandem uoluntatem Terentius significat, cum ait satius esse

Sua sponte recte facere quam alieno metu.

Ab eadem sponte, a qua dictum spondere, declinatum despondet et respondet et desponsor et sponsa, item sic alia. Spondet enim qui dicit a sua sponte “spondeo”; qui spopondit, est sponsor; qui idem ut faciat obligatur sponsu, consponsus.

Hoc Naevius significat cum ait “consponsi.” Si spondebatur pecunia aut filia nuptiarum causa, appellabatur et pecunia et quae desponsa erat sponsa; quae pecunia inter se contra sponsu rogata erat, dicta sponsio; cui desponsa quae erat, sponsus; quo die sponsum erat, sponsalis.



Thinking of Getting Drunk? Some Pros and Cons from the Ancients  


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Alcaeus, fragment 335

“Bucchus, the best of all medicine for those who have wine is getting drunk”

ὦ Βύκχι, φαρμάκων δ’ ἄριστον
οἶνον ἐνεικαμένοις μεθύσθην

The past few weeks have been dark, and I am not talking about the weather.  It does not seem altogether insane to suggest that a few drinks might be a good coping mechanism. Alcaeus certainly would have agreed.

Athenaeus didn’t cite this first bit (or many others we’ve mentioned before), but he does give you a lot to drink about, I mean, think about (Deipnosophists Book 2.11):

“Boasting, invective, and mocking laughter don’t come from any kind of happiness or fullness, but from a different kind of thrill, one that inclines your opinion towards falsehood, something that comes from being drunk.

This is why Bacchylides says:

“A sweet need
Heats the heart from hurried cups.
Cypris’ hope rushes through thoughts
Mixed with the gifts of Dionysus.
This pulls men’s thoughts from lofty plains;
It suddenly loosens a city’s veils
And every men thinks he can be king.
Homes shine with gold and ivory.
Ships heavy with grain bear great wealth
Across the glistening sea from Egypt.
This is how the heart of the drinking man leaps”

Sophocles adds: “being drunk relieves pain.” And other poets mention the “happy wine, fruit of the field.” Even the king of the poets presents Odysseus saying :

“Whenever a men takes his full of wine and food
…and fights all day long,
His heart remains bold.”

Homer continues in this vein. Simonides grants the same beginning to wine and music. The invention of comedy and tragedy also issued from drunkenness in Icaria in Attica around the time of the grape-harvest. This is the reason that comedy was first called “trugôdia”.

“He gave mortals the pain-pausing vine.
When there is no wine, Cypris is absent,
And human beings have no other pleasure…”
Euripides writes this in the Bacchae. Astydamas says:
“He showed mortals the grapevine,
Mother of wine and cure-all for grief.”

“When someone fills himself with wine to no end, he becomes careless.
If he drinks only a bit, a man becomes pensive.”

This last part is what Antiphanes says.  Alexis adds:

“I’m not too drunk to think, but just enough that it is hard
To form any letters with my mouth”




οὐ γὰρ ἀπὸ πάσης εὐθυμίας καὶ πληρώσεως τὸ καυχᾶσθαι καὶ σκώπτειν καὶ γελοιάζειν, ἀπὸ δὲ τῆς ἀλλοιούσης τὴν γνώμην καὶ πρὸς τὸ ψευδὲς τρεπούσης, ἣ γίνεται κατὰ τὴν μέθην.  διὸ Βακχυλίδης φησί

(fr. 27)·

γλυκεῖ’ ἀνάγκα
σευομένα κυλίκων θάλπησι θυμόν·
Κύπριδος δ’ ἐλπὶς διαιθύσσει φρένας
ἀμμιγνυμένα Διονυσίοισι δώροις.
ἀνδράσι δ’ ὑψοτάτω πέμπει μερίμνας·
αὐτίκα μὲν πόλεων κρήδεμνα λύει,
πᾶσι δ’ ἀνθρώποις μοναρχήσειν δοκεῖ.
χρυσῷ δ’ ἐλέφαντί τε μαρμαίρουσιν οἶκοι·
πυροφόροι δὲ κατ’ αἰγλήεντα . . .
νῆες ἄγουσιν ἀπ’ Αἰγύπτου μέγιστον
πλοῦτον· ὣς πίνοντος ὁρμαίνει κέαρ.
Σοφοκλῆς δέ φησι (fr. 687 N)·
… τὸ μεθύειν πημονῆς λυτήριον.

οἱ δ’ ἄλλοι ποιηταί φασι τὸν ‘οἶνον ἐύφρονα καρπὸν ἀρούρης (Γ 246).’ καὶ ὁ τῶν ποιητῶν δὲ βασιλεὺς τὸν ᾿Οδυσσέα παράγει λέγοντα (Τ 167)· ‘ὃς δέ κ’ ἀνὴρ οἴνοιο κορεσσάμενος καὶ ἐδωδῆς πανημέριος πολεμίζῃ, θαρσαλέον νύ οἱ ἦτορ’ καὶ τὰ ἑξῆς.

ὅτι Σιμωνίδης (fr. 221) τὴν αὐτὴν ἀρχὴν τίθησιν οἴνου καὶ μουσικῆς. ἀπὸ μέθης καὶ ἡ τῆς κωμῳδίας καὶ ἡ τῆς τραγῳδίας εὕρεσις ἐν ᾿Ικαρίῳ τῆς ᾿Αττικῆς εὑρέθη, καὶ κατ’ αὐτὸν τὸν τῆς τρύγης και-ρόν· ἀφ’ οὗ δὴ καὶ τρυγῳδία τὸ πρῶτον ἐκλήθη ἡ κωμῳδία.

τὴν παυσίλυπον ἄμπελον δοῦναι βροτοῖς.
οἴνου δὲ μηκέτ’ ὄντος οὐκ ἔστιν Κύπρις
οὐδ’ ἄλλο τερπνὸν οὐδὲν ἀνθρώποις ἔτι,

Εὐριπίδης ἐν Βάκχαις φησί (771). καὶ ᾿Αστυδάμας δέ φησι (p. 605 N)·
θνητοῖσι τὴν ἀκεσφόρον
λύπης ἔφηνεν οἰνομήτορ’ ἄμπελον. —
συνεχῶς μὲν γὰρ ἐμπιπλάμενος ἀμελὴς γίνεται
ἄνθρωπος, ὑποπίνων δὲ πάνυ φροντιστικός,

᾿Αντιφάνης φησίν (II 123 K).

οὐ μεθύω τὴν φρόνησιν, ἀλλὰ τὸ τοιοῦτον μόνον,
τὸ διορίζεσθαι βεβαίως τῷ στόματι τὰ γράμματα.

Hesiod on Justice and the Corruption of Power (Works and Days, 256-273)


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“Justice is a maiden who was born from Zeus.
The gods who live on Olympus honor her
and whenever someone wrongs her by bearing false witness
she sits straightaway at the feet of Zeus, Kronos’ son
and tells him the plans of unjust men so that the people
will pay the price of the wickedness of kings who make murderous plans
and twist her truth by proclaiming false judgments.
Keep these things in mind, bribe-swallowing kings:
whoever wrongs another also wrongs himself;
an evil plan is most evil for the one who makes it.
The eye of Zeus sees everything and knows everything
and even now, if he wishes, will look on us and not miss
what kind of justice the walls of our city protects.
Today, I wouldn’t wish myself to be a just man among men
nor my son, since it bad to be a just man
If anyone who is more unjust has greater rights.
But I hope that Zeus, the counselor, will not let this happen.”


ἡ δέ τε παρθένος ἐστὶ Δίκη, Διὸς ἐκγεγαυῖα,
κυδρή τ’ αἰδοίη τε θεοῖς οἳ ῎Ολυμπον ἔχουσιν,
καί ῥ’ ὁπότ’ ἄν τίς μιν βλάπτῃ σκολιῶς ὀνοτάζων,
αὐτίκα πὰρ Διὶ πατρὶ καθεζομένη Κρονίωνι
γηρύετ’ ἀνθρώπων ἀδίκων νόον, ὄφρ’ ἀποτείσῃ
δῆμος ἀτασθαλίας βασιλέων οἳ λυγρὰ νοεῦντες
ἄλλῃ παρκλίνωσι δίκας σκολιῶς ἐνέποντες.
ταῦτα φυλασσόμενοι, βασιλῆς, ἰθύνετε μύθους,
δωροφάγοι, σκολιέων δὲ δικέων ἐπὶ πάγχυ λάθεσθε.
οἷ αὐτῷ κακὰ τεύχει ἀνὴρ ἄλλῳ κακὰ τεύχων,
ἡ δὲ κακὴ βουλὴ τῷ βουλεύσαντι κακίστη.
πάντα ἰδὼν Διὸς ὀφθαλμὸς καὶ πάντα νοήσας
καί νυ τάδ’, αἴ κ’ ἐθέλῃσ’, ἐπιδέρκεται, οὐδέ ἑ λήθει
οἵην δὴ καὶ τήνδε δίκην πόλις ἐντὸς ἐέργει.
νῦν δὴ ἐγὼ μήτ’ αὐτὸς ἐν ἀνθρώποισι δίκαιος
εἴην μήτ’ ἐμὸς υἱός, ἐπεὶ κακὸν ἄνδρα δίκαιον
ἔμμεναι, εἰ μείζω γε δίκην ἀδικώτερος ἕξει.
ἀλλὰ τά γ’ οὔπω ἔολπα τελεῖν Δία μητιόεντα.


Although he holds out the promise of a world governed by just and wise rulers in the Theogony, Hesiod laments the failure of those in power to uphold justice and judge those beneath them fairly in the Works and Days. Those in power or favored by power structures, it seems, have always had their own interests in mind.


A Serious Saturday: Epictetus on the Beginning of Philosophy


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From Dissertationes ab Arriano Digestae, 2.11

What is the Beginning of Philosophy

The beginning of philosophy for those who approach it in the right way—by the front gate—is the acknowledgement of mankind’s weakness and inability to affect the most important things. We arrive in life possessing no inborn understanding of a right-angled triangle or a half-tone musical note, but we are taught these things through a specific technical approach; for this reason, those who do not know them do not think that they do. But, in contrast, who has arrived without some pre-implanted notion of right and wrong, noble and shameful, appropriate and inappropriate, what is fitting or chanced and what it is right to do or right not to do? This is why we all use this terms and try to harmonize our preconceptions with reality at each moment? “He has done well, as is right, or as not right. He has been unlucky, or lucky. He is unjust or just.” Who of us avoids these types of judgments? Who of us postpones their use until he has learned what they mean, as those who are ignorant of letters or syllables?….

….This is the beginning of philosophy—the acknowledgment of the struggle among men and the search for its origin and a condemnation and distrust of mere belief—a search of kinds whether a belief is kept correctly with the establishment of some kind of standard, as we have made for the balancing o weights or for figuring out whether a board is straight or crooked.”



ια′. Τίς ἀρχὴ φιλοσοφίας.

᾿Αρχὴ φιλοσοφίας παρά γε τοῖς ὡς δεῖ καὶ κατὰ θύραν ἁπτομένοις αὐτῆς συναίσθησις τῆς αὑτοῦ ἀσθενείας καὶ ἀδυναμίας περὶ τὰ ἀναγκαῖα. ὀρθογωνίου μὲν γὰρ τριγώνου ἢ διέσεως ἡμιτονίου οὐδεμίαν φύσει ἔννοιαν ἥκομεν ἔχοντες, ἀλλ’ ἔκ τινος τεχνικῆς παραλήψεως διδασκόμεθα ἕκαστον αὐτῶν καὶ διὰ τοῦτο οἱ μὴ εἰδότες αὐτὰ οὐδ’ οἴονται εἰδέναι. ἀγαθοῦ δὲ καὶ κακοῦ καὶ καλοῦ καὶ αἰσχροῦ καὶ πρέποντος καὶ ἀπρεποῦς καὶ εὐδαιμονίας καὶ προσήκοντος καὶ ἐπιβάλλοντος καὶ ὅ τι δεῖ ποιῆσαι καὶ ὅ τι οὐ δεῖ ποιῆσαι τίς  οὐκ ἔχων ἔμφυτον ἔννοιαν ἐλήλυθεν; διὰ τοῦτο πάντες χρώμεθα τοῖς ὀνόμασιν καὶ ἐφαρμόζειν πειρώμεθα τὰς προλήψεις ταῖς ἐπὶ μέρους οὐσίαις. καλῶς ἐποίησεν, δεόντως, οὐ δεόντως· ἠτύχησεν, εὐτύχησεν· ἄδικός ἐστιν, δίκαιός ἐστιν. τίς ἡμῶν φείδεται τούτων τῶν ὀνομάτων; τίς ἡμῶν ἀναβάλλεται τὴν χρῆσιν αὐτῶν μέχρι μάθῃ καθάπερ τῶν περὶ τὰς γραμμὰς ἢ τοὺς φθόγγους οἱ οὐκ εἰδότες;


῎Ιδ’ ἀρχὴ φιλοσοφίας· αἴσθησις μάχης τῆς πρὸς ἀλλήλους τῶν ἀνθρώπων καὶ ζήτησις τοῦ παρ’ ὃ γίνεται ἡ μάχη καὶ κατάγνωσις καὶ ἀπιστία πρὸς τὸ ψιλῶς δοκοῦν, ἔρευνα δέ τις περὶ τὸ δοκοῦν εἰ ὀρθῶς δοκεῖ καὶ εὕρεσις κανόνος τινός, οἷον ἐπὶ βαρῶν τὸν ζυγὸν εὕρομεν, οἷον ἐπὶ εὐθέων καὶ στρεβλῶν τὴν στάθμην.



The Conjunction of Medicine and Punishment in the Military: Gellius 10.8


“It was an ancient military punishment to order a soldier, because he had disgraced himself, to open his veins and let out blood. The reason for this does not survive in the ancient books, or at any rate in the ones which I could find. But I imagine that this was originally reserved for soldiers of an unsound mind, so that it seemed less a punishment than a medical treatment. Afterward, however, I think that it was used in the case of many other offences through force of habit, as if all who lapsed from discipline must be of unsound mind.”

Fuit haec quoque antiquitus militaris animadversio iubere ignominiae causa militi venam solvi et sanguinem dimitti. II. Cuius rei ratio in litteris veteribus, quas equidem invenire potui, non exstat; sed opinor factum hoc primitus in militibus stupentis animi et a naturali habitu declinatis, ut non tam poena quam medicina videretur. III. Postea tamen ob pleraque alia delicta idem factitatum esse credo per consuetudinem, quasi minus sani viderentur omnes, qui delinquerent.

Wealth or Wisdom? You Can Lose Possessions…(More Seasonal Advice)


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From the fragments of Theognetus, another poet so forgotten that he has no home on Wikipedia. But Athenaeus preserves a fragment (3.63)

“Theognetus is responding to these kinds of people when he writes in the Phantom or the Money-Lover:

‘Man, you’re killing me! You are packed full of little speeches
From the Stoa Poikile and you’re sick.
“Wealth is not any man’s possession, it is frost.
Wisdom is truly yours, it is ice, No one ever
Lost wisdom once he found it.” Fuck me!
What kind of a philosopher has god housed me with?
You learned your letters in reverse, wretch.
Your books have turned your life upside down.
You have philosophized nonsense to heaven and earth.
They don’t give a shit about your words.’

πρὸς οὓς καὶ Θεόγνητος ἐν Φάσματι ἢ Φιλαργύρῳ φησὶν ἐκ τούτων (IV 549 M)·

ἄνθρωπ’, ἀπολεῖς με. τῶν γὰρ ἐκ τῆς ποικίλης
στοᾶς λογαρίων ἀναπεπλησμένος νοσεῖς·
‘ἀλλότριόν ἐσθ’ ὁ πλοῦτος ἀνθρώπῳ, πάχνη·
σοφία δ’ ἴδιον, κρύσταλλος. οὐθεὶς πώποτε
ταύτην λαβὼν ἀπώλεσ’.’ ὦ τάλας ἐγώ,
οἵῳ μ’ ὁ δαίμων φιλοσόφῳ συνῴκισεν.
ἐπαρίστερ’ ἔμαθες, ὦ πόνηρε, γράμματα·
ἀντέστροφέν σου τὸν βίον τὰ βιβλία·
πεφιλοσόφηκας γῇ τε κοὐρανῷ λαλῶν,
οἷς οὐθέν ἐστιν ἐπιμελὲς τῶν λόγων.’

Before You Shop for Christmas, Read Some More Lucretius


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Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 5.1430-1439

“The race of man, then, labors uselessly and in vain
as we always consume our time in empty concerns
because we don’t understand that there’s a limit to having—
and there’s an end to how far true pleasure can grow.
This has dragged life bit by bit into the deep sea
and has stirred at its bottom great blasts of war.
But the guardian of the earth turns around the great sky
and teaches men truly that the year’s seasons come full circle
and that all must be endured with a sure reason and order.”

Ergo hominum genus in cassum frustraque laborat
semper et [in] curis consumit inanibus aevom,
ni mirum quia non cognovit quae sit habendi
finis et omnino quoad crescat vera voluptas;
idque minutatim vitam provexit in altum
et belli magnos commovit funditus aestus.
at vigiles mundi magnum versatile templum
sol et luna suo lustrantes lumine circum
perdocuere homines annorum tempora verti
et certa ratione geri rem atque ordine certo.


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