Worlds Plundered, Libraries Founded

Isidore of Seville, Etymologiae 6.5-6

V. On the one who first brought books to Rome:

Aemilius Paulus was the first to bring a supply of books to Rome, following the defeat of Perseus king of Macedon. Then, Lucullus brought some from his Pontic plundering. Later than these guys, Caesar gave to Marcus Varro the task of building the biggest possible library. Pollio, however, was the first to make public libraries in Rome (both Greek and Latin ones), and he added busts of the authors in the atrium, which he had made rather magnificent with some of the money he had obtained by spoil.

VI. Those who founded libraries among us:

Among us, Pamphilus the Martyr, whose life was written by Eusebius of Caesarea, strove to equal Pisistratus in his zeal for a sacred library. For he had almost three hundred thousand books in his library. Jerome, too, and Gennadius, searching the whole world for ecclesiastical authors, followed them in order, and comprehended their studies in one little index of a volume.

St. Isidore of Seville: Patron Saint of …. The Internet ...

V. DE EO QVI PRIMVM ROMAM LIBROS ADVEXIT. [1] Romae primus librorum copiam advexit Aemilius Paulus, Perse Macedonum rege devicto; deinde Lucullus e Pontica praeda. Post hos Caesar dedit Marco Varroni negotium quam maximae bibliothecae construendae. [2] Primum autem Romae bibliothecas publicavit Pollio, Graecas simul atque Latinas, additis auctorum imaginibus in atrio, quod de manubiis magnificentissimum instruxerat.

VI. QVI APVD NOS BIBLIOTHECAS INSTITVERVNT. [1] Apud nos quoque Pamphilus martyr, cuius vitam Eusebius Caesariensis conscripsit, Pisistratum in sacrae bibliothecae studio primus adaequare contendit. Hic enim in bibliotheca sua prope triginta voluminum milia habuit. [2] Hieronymus quoque atque Gennadius ecclesiasticos scriptores toto orbe quaerentes ordine persecuti sunt, eorumque studia in uno voluminis indiculo conprehenderunt.

What Hephaestus Really Wanted from Thetis

Schol. to Pin. Nemian Odes, 4.81

“Phylarkhos claims that Thetis went to Hephaistos on Olympos so that he might create weapons for Achilles and that he did it. But, because Hephaistos was lusting after Thetis, he said he would not give them to her unless she had sex with him. She promised him that she would, but that she only wanted to try on the weapons first, so she could see if the gear he had made was fit for Achilles. She was actually the same size as him.

Once Hephaistos agreed on this, Thetis armed herself and fled. Because he was incapable of grabbing her, he took a hammer and hit Thetis in the ankle. Injured in this way, she went to Thessaly and healed in the city that is called Thetideion after her.”

Φύλαρχός φησι Θέτιν πρὸς ῞Ηφαιστον ἐλθεῖν εἰς τὸν ῎Ολυμπον, ὅπως ᾽Αχιλλεῖ ὅπλα κατασκευάσηι, τὸν δὲ ποιῆσαι. ἐρωτικῶς δὲ ἔχοντα τὸν ῞Ηφαιστον τῆς Θέτιδος, οὐ φάναι ἂν δώσειν αὐτῆι, εἰ μὴ αὐτῶι προσομιλήσαι. τὴν δὲ αὐτῶι ὑποσχέσθαι, θέλειν μέντοι ὁπλίζεσθαι, ὅπως ἴδηι εἰ ἁρμόζει ἃ ἐπεποιήκει ὅπλα τῶι ᾽Αχιλλεῖ· ἴσην γὰρ αὐτὴν ἐκείνωι εἶναι. τοῦ δὲ παραχωρήσαντος ὁπλισαμένην τὴν Θέτιν φυγεῖν, τὸν δὲ οὐ δυνάμενον καταλαβεῖν σφύραν λαβεῖν καὶ πατάξαι εἰς τὸ σφυρὸν τὴν Θέτιν· τὴν δὲ κακῶς διατεθεῖσαν ἐλθεῖν εἰς Θετταλίαν καὶ ἰαθῆναι ἐν τῆι πόλει ταύτηι τῆι ἀπ᾽ αὐτῆς Θετιδείωι καλουμένηι.

Image result for Thetis Berlin F2294
Hephaistos Thetis Kylix by the Foundry Painter Antikensammlung Berlin F2294

Cruel, Bad, but Loved by the Bodyguards

Historia Augusta, Antoninus Caracella  9

“His way of life was bad and he was more cruel than his father. He was a glutton who was addicted to wine and hated by his own household and despised by every division except for the praetorian guard. There was nothing similar between him and his brother.”

Fuit male moratus et patre duro crudelior. avidus cibi, vini etiam adpetens, suis odiosus et praeter milites praetorianos omnibus castris exosus. prorsus nihil inter fratres simile.

White bust

Surprise! Wolf Slaughters Lamb on Slight Pretext

Phaedrus, Fabula 1.1 (Go to the Scaife Viewer for the Full Latin text) 


“A wolf and lamb arrived at the same stream
Compelled by thirst. The wolf was standing above it,
And the lamb far below. Then with wicked jaw agape
For a bark the wolf began to argue his case:

“Why”, he asked, “did you dirty up the water that
I am drinking?” The little lamb responded in fear:

“Please, how can I have done what you have accused, wolf?
The water runs from you to my jaws.”

Rebuffed by the strength of truth, he said,
“Six months ago you maligned my name.”

The lamb responded, “But I was not yet born!”
The wolf said, “By god, then your father did me wrong.”
And he then he killed the lamb by tearing him to pieces.

This fable has been written against those men
Who oppress the innocent for trumped-up reasons.”



Ad rivum eundem lupus et agnus venerant,
siti compulsi. Superior stabat lupus,
longeque inferior agnus. Tunc fauce improba
latro incitatus iurgii causam intulit;
‘Cur’ inquit ‘turbulentam fecisti mihi
aquam bibenti?’ Laniger contra timens
‘Qui possum, quaeso, facere quod quereris, lupe?
A te decurrit ad meos haustus liquor’.
Repulsus ille veritatis viribus
‘Ante hos sex menses male’ ait ‘dixisti mihi’.
Respondit agnus ‘Equidem natus non eram’.
‘Pater hercle tuus’ ille inquit ‘male dixit mihi’;
atque ita correptum lacerat iniusta nece.
Haec propter illos scripta est homines fabula
qui fictis causis innocentes opprimunt.

For more, go to mythfolklore

Continue reading “Surprise! Wolf Slaughters Lamb on Slight Pretext”

A Lie To Kill A Tyrant

Elias, Commentary on Aristotle’s Categories 109.12–15

“When [Diogenes] was asked by the tyrant one day who the people were who were conspiring against his power the most, he pointed to his bodyguards. The tyrant believed him and was assassinated after he killed them. [Diogenes] believed it was good to tell a lie for the killing of a tyrant.”

ἐρωτηθεὶς γὰρ οὗτός ποτε ὑπό του τυράννου τίνες εἰσὶν οἱ μάλιστα ἐπιβουλεύοντες τῇ τυραννίδι αὐτοῦ, τοὺς δορυφόρους ἔδειξεν· ὁ δὲ πεισθεὶς καὶ ἀνελὼν αὐτοὺς διεφθάρη· ἀγαθὸν γὰρ ἐνόμισε τὸ ψεύσασθαι διὰ τὴν τοῦ τυράννου ἀναίρεσιν.



No Love for Aristotle

Mark Pattison, Memoirs

My father never professed any understanding of Aristotle, and had a very faint idea of Logic, as I discovered when he tried to read Aldrich with me. His favourite book was Aristophanes. He was one night caught by Hodson on the back of Cain and Abel, and being asked what he did there, replied, ‘ἀεροβατῶ καὶ περιφρονῶ τὸν ἥλιον.’* ‘Oh!’ cried Hodson, ‘it’s only Aristophanic Pattison!’

*”I am walking in the air and considering the sun!”

File:The clouds. A comedy. Translated from the Greek of Aristophanes. By Mr. Theobald. Fleuron T133837-3.png


Scoundrels, Fools, and Failing States

Antisthenes, fr. 103 [=Diogenes Laertius 6.11]

“He used to say that states fail when they cannot distinguish fools from serious men.”

τότ’ ἔφη τὰς πόλεις ἀπόλλυσθαι, ὅταν μὴ δύνωνται τοὺς φαύλους ἀπὸ τῶν σπουδαίων διακρίνειν.


“He used to say that it is strange that we sift out the chaff from the wheat and those useless for war, but we do not forbid scoundrels in politics.”

ἄτοπον ἔφη τοῦ μὲν σίτου τὰς αἴρας ἐκλέγειν καὶ ἐν τῷ πολέμῳ τοὺς ἀχρείους, ἐν δὲ πολιτείᾳ τοὺς πονηροὺς μὴ παραιτεῖσθαι.


“Phaulos: evil, tricky, mean; simple, dumb. Ridiculous”

φαῦλος· κακός, δόλιος, χαλεπός. εὐτελής, ἁπλοῦς. καταγέλαστος

Phaulos lsj

Apostolius Paroemiographus, 9.18.12

“Fish start to stink at the top”: [this is a proverb] applied to people who have scoundrels for leaders.”

᾿Ιχθὺς ἐκ τῆς κεφαλῆς ὄζειν ἄρχεται: ἐπὶ τῶν ἐπιστάτας φαύλους ἐχόντων.

Stobaeus, 2.3.4

“When Plato saw that someone was doing evil things, but claiming that he was carrying out justice for other people, he said. “This man carries his mind on his tongue.”

᾿Ιδών τινα Πλάτων φαῦλα μὲν πράττοντα, δίκας δὲ ὑπὲρ ἑτέρων λέγοντα, εἶπεν, Οὗτος νοῦν „ἐπὶ γλώσσῃ φέρει”.

2.14.3 Mousonius

“[He said] that associating with wise people is worth a lot, but that you should avoid scoundrels and the uneducated.”

῞Οτι χρὴ περὶ πολλοῦ ποιεῖσθαι τὰς τῶν σοφῶν συνουσίας, ἐκκλίνειν δὲ τοὺς φαύλους καὶ ἀπαιδεύτους

Menander fr. 274

“It is much better to have learned one thing well,
Than to cast about for many deeds foolishly.”

Πολὺ κρεῖττόν ἐστιν ἓν καλῶς μεμαθηκέναι,
ἢ πολλὰ φαύλως περιβεβλῆσθαι πράγματα.

From Beekes 2010

phaulos Beekes 1Phaulos beekes 2

Democritus fr. 234

“Associating with scoundrels frequently increases the possession of wickedness.”

Φαύλων ὁμιλίη ξυνεχὴς ἕξιν κακίης συναέξει.

Socrates, Stobaeus 2.45.3

“It is the same thing to attach your boat to a weak anchor and your hopes to foolish judgment.”

Ταὐτὸν ἐξ ἀσθενοῦς ἀγκυρίου σκάφος ὁρμίζειν καὶ ἐκ φαύλης γνώμης ἐλπίδα.


Eusebius, fr. 7 [=Stobaeus 3.4.104]

“Foolish people honor and wonder at those who have a lot of money and are scoundrels, and hold serious people in contempt when they see that they are poor.”

Οἱ μάταιοι τῶν ἀνθρώπων τοὺς μὲν μεγάλα χρήματα ἔχοντας καὶ φαύλους ἐόντας τιμῶσί τε καὶ τεθωυμάκασι· τῶν δὲ σπουδαίων, ἐπειδὰν ἀχρηματίην καταγνῶσιν, ὑπερφρονέουσιν.

Image result for dirty rotten scoundrels