Snakehead and Boys in the Street: Plato the Comic on Politics (Two Fragments)

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This is from Plato the Attic Comedian, not the Attic Philosopher. Who knew there were at least 30 men with the same name?

Plato, Fr. 202 (Stobaeus, 2.3.3)

“If one wicked person
perishes, then two politicians grow in his place.
For there is no Iolaus* in the city
Who might cauterize the politicians’ heads.
If you’ve been bent over, then you’ll be a politician.”

῍Ην γὰρ ἀποθάνῃ
εἷς τις πονηρός, δύ’ ἀνέφυσαν ῥήτορες•
οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἡμῖν ᾿Ιόλεως ἐν τῇ πόλει,
ὅστις ἐπικαύσει τὰς κεφαλὰς τῶν ῥητόρων.
κεκολλόπευκας• τοιγαροῦν ῥήτωρ ἔσει.

*Iolaus is Herakles’ nephew who helped the hero kill the Hydra by cauterizing its necks to prevent new heads from growing.

Platôn, Alliance (fr. 168)

“They are like those boys who each time they draw a line
in the street to divide themselves into two groups
stand with some of them on one side of the line and some on the other.
One who stands in the middle of the two hurls a pot sherd–
If the white side faces up, on group must flee right away
And the others must chase them.”

Εἴξασιν γὰρ τοῖς παιδαρίοις τούτοις, οἳ ἑκάστοτε γραμμήν
ἐν ταῖσιν ὁδοῖς διαγράψαντες διανειμάμενοι δίχ’ ἑαυτούς
ἑστᾶσ’, αὐτῶν οἱ μὲν ἐκεῖθεν τῆς γράμμης οἱ δ’ αὖ ἐκεῖθεν•
εἷς δ’ ἀμφοτέρων ὄστρακον αὐτοῖς εἰς μέσον ἑστὼς ἀνίησιν,
κἂν μὲν πίπτῃσι τὰ λεύκ’ ἐπάνω, φεύγειν ταχὺ τοὺς ἑτέρους δεῖ,
τοὺς δὲ διώκειν.

What Did the Greeks Call “Tongue Twisters?” Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria 1.1.37

“It would not be out of place to demand from children of this age, in order to exercise the mouth and make speech more expressive, that they rapidly pronounce certain names and verses of a rather contrived difficulty, owing to the concatenation of many syllables which clash together and produce a sort of rocky sound. The Greeks called these χαλινοί (bridles).

Non alienum fuerit exigere ab his aetatibus, quo sit absolutius os et expressior sermo, ut nomina quaedam versusque adfectatae difficultatis ex pluribus et asperrime coeuntibus inter se syllabis catenatos et veluti confragosos quam citatissime volvant (χαλινοί Graece vocantur)

“No One is Pain-Free”: Four Sophoklean Fragments on Life and Pain

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Fr. 356 (Creusa)

“The most noble thing is to be just.
The best thing is to live without sickness; the sweetest is when
A man has the ability to get what he wants each day.”

κάλλιστόν ἐστι τοὔνδικον πεφυκέναι,
λῷστον δὲ τὸ ζῆν ἄνοσον, ἥδιστον δ’ ὅτῳ
πάρεστι λῆψις ὧν ἐρᾷ καθ’ ἡμέραν

Fr. 375 (Laocoon)

“There is no account of pain that has gone by”

μόχθου γὰρ οὐδεὶς τοῦ παρελθόντος λόγος

Fr. 410 (The Mysians)

“No one is pain-free: the man who has the least
is the luckiest.”

ἄμοχθος γὰρ οὐδείς• ὁ δ’ ἥκιστ’ ἔχων
μακάρτατος

Fr. 434 (Nauplius)

“A single night seems like ten thousand for a man
Who suffers, but even daybreak surprises a man doing well.”

τῷ γὰρ κακῶς πράσσοντι μυρία μία
νύξ ἐστιν, εὖ παθόντα δ’ ἡμέρα φθάνει

The Peripatetics on Where Dreams Come From: Aelian, Varia Historia 3.1

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“The Peripatetics say that at day the soul is a slave encased by the body and it is not able to see the truth clearly. At night, it is freed from its service and, after takes the shape of a sphere in the area around the chest, it becomes somewhat prophetic: this is where dreams come from.”

Οἱ περιπατητικοί φασι μεθ’ ἡμέραν θητεύουσαν τὴν ψυχὴν τῷ σώματι περιπλέκεσθαι καὶ μὴ δύνασθαι καθαρῶς τὴν ἀλήθειαν θεωρεῖν• νύκτωρ δὲ διαλυθεῖσαν τῆς περὶ τοῦτο λειτουργίας καὶ σφαιρωθεῖσαν ἐν τῷ περὶ τὸν θώρακα τόπῳ μαντικωτέραν γίνεσθαι, ἐξ ὧν τὰ ἐνύπνια.

Start With Greek: Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria 1.1.12

“I prefer that a child start by learning Greek because the student will readily absorb Latin, which is in common use, whether we will it or not. At the same time, a student should be brought up in Greek learning, because that is the source of our culture, too.”

A sermone Graeco puerum incipere malo, quia Latinum, qui pluribus in usu est, vel nobis nolentibus perbibet, simul quia disciplinis quoque Graecis prius instituendus est, unde et nostrae fluxerunt.

If Any People Can Claim to Be Descended from Gods…(Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, Praefatio 7-9)

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“What conditions existed before the founding of the city or when it was being built are passed down as the fanciful tales of poets rather than the tested truths of history; and it is not my plan to confirm or refute them. It is the license of the ancient past to make the city more prominent by mixing human origins with the divine. And if it is permitted for any people to claim their own origins as sacred and to make their founders gods, then the glory of the Roman people in war is so great that, when they claim that most powerful Mars is the father of their own founder, surely the races of man can endure it as easily as they do Roman empire.”

Quae ante conditam condendamve urbem poeticis magis decora fabulis quam incorruptis rerum gestarum monumentis traduntur, ea nec adfirmare nec refellere in animo est. Datur haec venia antiquitati ut miscendo humana divinis primordia urbium augustiora faciat; et si cui populo licere oportet consecrare origines suas et ad deos referre auctores, ea belli gloria est populo Romano ut cum suum conditorisque sui parentem Martem potissimum ferat, tam et hoc gentes humanae patiantur aequo animo quam imperium patiuntur

Fragmentary Friday III: The Sons Came Second, the Epigonoi

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As early as Herodotus (4.32) it was doubted that the epic that told the story of the sons of the Seven Against Thebes was by Homer. Instead, it was attributed later to a man named Antimachus from Teios. We have two lines most people agree on, and a handful of uncertain lines.

Fr. 1 (From the Contest of Homer and Hesiod)

“Now, Muses, let us sing in turn of the younger men”
Νῦν αὖθ’ ὁπλοτέρων ἀνδρῶν ἀρχώμεθα, Μοῦσαι

Fr. 4 (From Clement of Alexandria)

“Many evils come to men from gifts”

ἐκ γὰρ δώρων πολλὰ κάκ’ ἀνθρώποισι πέλονται.

Fr. 6 (Dub. from the Contest of Homer and Hesiod)

“So then they divided the meat of bulls and wiped clean
The sweat-covered necks of horses, since they had their fill of war.”

ὣς οἱ μὲν δαίνυντο βοῶν κρέα, καὐχένας ἵππων
ἔκλυον ἱδρώοντας, ἐπεὶ πολέμοιο κορέσθην.

Fr. 7 (Dub. From Scholia to Aristophanes’ Peace)

“They girded themselves for war once they stopped….
And they poured out of the towers as an invincible cry arose.”

θωρήσσοντ’ ἄρ’ ἔπειτα πεπαυμένοι
πύργων δ’ ἐξεχέοντο, βοὴ δ’ ἄσβεστος ὀρώρει.

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