Beautiful Mirrors of Beautiful Things

Plutarch, Moralia Dialogue on Love 765 a-b

“When we are sent back there, love does not come near our soul through its own devising but through the body. Just so, teachers of geometry, when their students are not yet capable of comprehending thoughts of the incorporeal or the concepts of immutable essence, they make shapes, manipulable and visible representations of spheres, cubes, and dodecahedrons to give them. In this way, heavenly love creates beautiful mirrors of the beautiful things, mortal versions of the divine, changeable manifestations of the unchanging, and merely sensible representations of pure thought.

By creating these things in the shape and color and image of the beautiful people in their youth, Love moves our memory carefully, and it is kindled first by these things.”

Ἐνταῦθα δὲ πάλιν πεμπομένων αὐτῇ μὲν οὐ πλησιάζει ψυχῇ καθ᾿ ἑαυτήν, ἀλλὰ διὰ σώματος. ὡς δὲ γεωμέτραι παισὶν οὔπω δυναμένοις ἐφ᾿ ἑαυτῶν τὰ νοητὰ μυηθῆναι τῆς ἀσωμάτου καὶ ἀπαθοῦς οὐσίας εἴδη πλάττοντες ἁπτὰ καὶ ὁρατὰ μιμήματα σφαιρῶν καὶ κύβων καὶ δωδεκαέδρων προτείνουσιν· οὕτως ἡμῖν ὁ οὐράνιος Ἔρως ἔσοπτρα καλῶν καλά, θνητὰ μέντοι θείων καὶ ἀπαθῶν παθητὰ καὶ νοητῶν αἰσθητὰ μηχανώμενος ἔν τε σχήμασι καὶ χρώμασι καὶ εἴδεσι νέων ὥρᾳ στίλβοντα δείκνυσι καὶ κινεῖ τὴν μνήμην ἀτρέμα διὰ τούτων ἀναφλεγομένην τὸ πρῶτον.

an Etruscan Mirror and the Dallas Museum of Art

How to Unfriend with Lysias

Lysias, Accusation of Calumny 180

“These were the excuses you clearly made up about me and my relationship with Thrasymachos. And now that these excuses have escaped you, you stop at nothing to abuse me rather freely. I should have known then that it was my luck to endure these things, when you were shit-talking me to your associates. And then I have told you everything about Polykles, a man you are helping. Why didn’t I guard my words more carefully? I was a bit simple-minded, I guess. I believed that since I was your friend I wouldn’t be maligned by you because you were slandering everyone else to me! I thought I had some kind of contract from you in your terrible insults about each other.

Well, I am happily quitting your friendship, since, by the gods, I can’t see how I’ll suffer by not associating with you when I won nothing by being your friend.”

τοιαύτας προφάσεις προφασιζόμενοι τότε μὲν ἐκ τῆς ἐμῆς καὶ Θρασυμάχου συνουσίας ἐστὲ φανεροί, νῦν δὲ ἐπειδὴ ἐκλελοίπασιν ὑμᾶς αἱ προφάσεις, ἐλευθεριώτερόν με κακῶσαι λείπετε ἤδη οὐδέν. χρῆν μὲν οὖν τότε με γιγνώσκειν ὀφειλόμενόν μοι ταῦτα παθεῖν, ὅτε καὶ πρὸς ἐμὲ περὶ ὑμῶν αὐτῶν ἐλέγετε κακῶς· ἔπειτα καὶ περὶ Πολυκλέους, ᾧ νυνὶ βοηθεῖτε, πάντ᾿ εἴρηκα πρὸς ὑμᾶς. κατὰ τί δὴ ταῦτα <οὐκ> ἐφυλαττόμην; εὔηθές τι ἔπαθον. ᾤμην γὰρ ἀπόθετος ὑμῖν εἶναι φίλος τοῦ μηδὲν ἀκοῦσαι κακὸν δι᾿ αὐτὸ τοῦτο, διότι πρὸς ἐμὲ τοὺς ἄλλους ἐλέγετε κακῶς, παρακαταθήκην ἔχων ὑμῶν παρ᾿ ἑκάστου λόγους πονηροὺς περὶ ἀλλήλων.

Ἐγὼ τοίνυν ἑκὼν ὑμῖν ἐξίσταμαι τῆς φιλίας, ἐπεί τοι μὰ τοὺς θεοὺς οὐκ οἶδ᾿ ὅ τι ζημιωθήσομαι μὴ ξυνὼν ὑμῖν·

Unfriend (2)

Human Sacrifice is Supposed to END Plagues

Clement, First Letter to the Corinthians 55

“Let’s offer some examples from other peoples as well. Many kings and people in charge, have given themselves to death after listening to an oracle, so that they might save their citizens with their own blood. And many private citizens have exiled themselves in order to decrease civil strife.”

Ἵνα δὲ καὶ ὑποδείγματα ἐθνῶν ἐνέγκωμεν· πολλοὶ βασιλεῖς καὶ ἡγούμενοι, λοιμικοῦ τινος ἐνστάντος καιροῦ χρησμοδοτηθέντες παρέδωκαν ἑαυτοὺς εἰς θάνατον, ἵνα ῥύσωνται διὰ τοῦ ἑαυτῶν αἵματος τοὺς πολίτας· πολλοὶ ἐξεχώρησαν ἰδίων πόλεων, ἵνα μὴ στασιάζωσιν ἐπὶ πλεῖον.

Stobaios, Florilegium  3.7.69

“When a plague was afflicting the Spartans because of the murder of the heralds sent by Xerxes—because he demanded earth and water as signs of servitude—they received an oracle that they would be saved if some Spartans would be selected to be killed by the king. Then Boulis and Sperkhis came forward to the king because they believed they were worthy to be sacrificed. Because he was impressed by their bravery he ordered them to go home.”

Τοῦ αὐτοῦ. λοιμοῦ κατασχόντος τὴν Λακεδαίμονα διὰ τὴν ἀναίρεσιν τῶν κηρύκων τῶν ἀπεσταλέντων παρὰ Ξέρξου αἰτοῦντος γῆν καὶ ὕδωρ ὥσπερ ἀπαρχὰς δουλείας, χρησμὸς ἐδόθη ἐπαλλαγήσεσθαι αὐτούς, εἴ γέ τινες ἕλοιντο Λακεδαιμονίων παρὰ τοῦ βασιλέως ἀναιρεθῆναι. τότε Βοῦλις καὶ Σπέρχις ἀφικόμενοι πρὸς βασιλέα ἠξίουν ἀναιρεθῆναι· ὁ δὲ θαυμάσας αὐτῶν τὴν ἀρετὴν ἐπανιέναι προσέταξεν.

Diogenes Laertius, Vitae philosophorum 1.110 [Epimenides]

“Epimenides was known among the Greeks and was thought to be extremely beloved to the gods. For this reason, when the Athenians were once afflicted by a plague and the Pythian oracle prophesied that they should cleanse their city, they sent a ship along with Nikias the son of Nikêratos, summoning Epimenides.

He made it to Athens at the time of the 46th Olympiad [c. 596 BCE] and cleansed the city. He stopped it in the following manner. After obtaining white and black sheep, he led them to the Areopagos and then allowed them to go wherever they wanted there. He ordered the people following them to sacrifice the sheep to whichever god was proper to the place where each sheep laid down.

This is how the plague stopped. For this reason it is still even today possible to find altars without names in certain Athenian neighborhoods as a commemoration of that ancient cleansing. Some people report that Epimenides indicated the pollution from the Kylon scandal as the cause of the plague along with a resolution for it. For this reason, they killed two youths, Kratinos and Ktêsibios and the suffering was relieved.”

(110) γνωσθεὶς δὲ παρὰ τοῖς ῞Ελλησι θεοφιλέστατος εἶναι ὑπελήφθη. ὅθεν καὶ Ἀθηναίοις ποτὲ λοιμῶι κατεχομένοις ἔχρησεν ἡ Πυθία καθῆραι τὴν πόλιν, οἱ δὲ πέμπουσι ναῦν τε καὶ Νικίαν τὸν Νικηράτου εἰς Κρήτην, καλοῦντες τὸν Ἐπιμενίδην. καὶ ὃς ἐλθὼν ὀλυμπιάδι τεσσαρακοστῆι ἕκτηι ἐκάθηρεν αὐτῶν τὴν πόλιν, καὶ ἔπαυσε τὸν λοιμὸν τοῦτον τὸν τρόπον· λαβὼν πρόβατα μέλανά τε καὶ λευκά, ἤγαγεν πρὸς τὸν ῎Αρειον πάγον, κἀκεῖθεν εἴασεν ἰέναι οἷ βούλοιντο, προστάξας τοῖς ἀκολούθοις, ἔνθα ἂν κατακλινῆι αὐτῶν ἕκαστον, θύειν τῶι προσήκοντι θεῶι· καὶ οὕτω λῆξαι τὸ κακόν· ὅθεν ἔτι καὶ νῦν ἔστιν εὺρεῖν κατὰ τοὺς δήμους τῶν Ἀθηναίων βωμοὺς ἀνωνύμους, ὑπόμνημα τῆς τότε γενομενης ἐξιλάσεως. οἱ δὲ τὴν αἰτίαν εἰπεῖν τοῦ λοιμοῦ τὸ Κυλώνειον ἄγος σημαίνειν τε τὴν ἀπαλλαγήν· καὶ διὰ τοῦτο ἀποθανεῖν δύο νεανίας Κρατῖνον καὶ Κτησίβιον, καὶ λυθῆναι τὴν συμφοράν

Ps.-Plutarch, Parallela minora 19A, 310B-C

“Kuanippos, a Syracusan by birth, did not sacrifice to Dionysus alone. In rage over this, the god caused him to become drunk and then he raped his daughter Kuanê in some shadowy place. She took his ring and gave it to her nurse as to be proof of what had happened in the future.

When they were later struck by a plague and Pythian Apollo said that they had to sacrifice the impious person to the Gods-who-Protect, everyone else was uncertain about the oracle. Kuanê understood it. She grabbed her father by the hair and sacrificed herself over him once she’d butchered him on the altar.

That’s the story Dositheos tells in the third book of his Sicilian Tales.

Κυάνιππος γένει Συρακούσιος μόνωι Διονύσωι οὐκ ἔθυεν· ὁ δὲ θεὸς ὀργισθεὶς μέθην ἐνέσκηψε, καὶ ἐν τόπωι σκοτεινῶι τὴν θυγατέρα ἐβιάσατο Κυάνην· ἡ δὲ τὸν δακτύλιον περιελομένη ἔδωκε τῆι τροφῶι ἐσόμενον ἀναγνώρισμα. λοιμωξάντων δὲ, καὶ τοῦ Πυθίου εἰπόντος μὲν δεῖν τὸν ἀσεβῆ <᾽Απο>τροπαίοις θεοῖς σφαγιάσαι, τῶν δ᾽ ἄλλων ἀγνοούντων τὸν χρησμόν, γνοῦσα ἡ Κυάνη καὶ ἐπιλαβομένη τῶν τριχῶν εἷλκε, καὶ αὐτὴ κατασφάξασα τὸν πατέρα ἑαυτὴν ἐπέσφαξε, καθάπερ Δοσίθεος ἐν τῶι τρίτωι Σικελικῶν.

Plague of Athens - Wikipedia
The Plague of Athens, Michiel Sweerts, c. 1652–1654

Hesiod, Works and Days 240-247

“The whole state often suffers because of a wicked man
Who transgresses the gods and devises reckless deeds.
Kronos’ son rains down great pain on them from heaven:
Famine and plague and the people start to perish.
[Women don’t give birth and households waste away
Thanks to the vengeance of Olympian Zeus.] And at other times
Kronos’ son ruins their great army or their wall
Or he destroys their ships on the the sea.”

πολλάκι καὶ ξύμπασα πόλις κακοῦ ἀνδρὸς ἀπηύρα,
ὅστις ἀλιτραίνῃ καὶ ἀτάσθαλα μηχανάαται.
τοῖσιν δ’ οὐρανόθεν μέγ’ ἐπήγαγε πῆμα Κρονίων,
λιμὸν ὁμοῦ καὶ λοιμόν, ἀποφθινύθουσι δὲ λαοί·
[οὐδὲ γυναῖκες τίκτουσιν, μινύθουσι δὲ οἶκοι
Ζηνὸς φραδμοσύνῃσιν ᾿Ολυμπίου· ἄλλοτε δ’ αὖτε]
ἢ τῶν γε στρατὸν εὐρὺν ἀπώλεσεν ἢ ὅ γε τεῖχος
ἢ νέας ἐν πόντῳ Κρονίδης ἀποτείνυται αὐτῶν.

 

Some other cures:

Diogenes Laertius, Empedocles 8.70

“When a plague struck the Selinuntians thanks to the pollution from a nearby river causing people to die and the women to miscarry, Empedocles recognized the problem and turned two local rivers at his own expense. They sweetened the streams by mixing in with them.

Once the plague was stopped in this way, Empedocles appeared while the Selinuntines were having a feast next to the river. They rose and bowed before him, praying to him as if he were a god. He threw himself into a fire because he wanted to test the truth of his divinity.”

τοῖς Σελινουντίοις ἐμπεσόντος λοιμοῦ διὰ τὰς ἀπὸ τοῦ παρακειμένου ποταμοῦ δυσωδίας, ὥστε καὶ αὐτοὺς φθείρεσθαι καὶ τὰς γυναῖκας δυστοκεῖν, ἐπινοῆσαι τὸν Ἐμπεδοκλέα καὶ δύο τινὰς ποταμοὺς τῶν σύνεγγυς ἐπαγαγεῖν ἰδίαις δαπάναις· καὶ καταμίξαντα γλυκῆναι τὰ ῥεύματα. οὕτω δὴ λήξαντος τοῦ λοιμοῦ καὶ τῶν Σελινουντίων εὐωχουμένων ποτὲ παρὰ τῷ ποταμῷ, ἐπιφανῆναι τὸν Ἐμπεδοκλέα· τοὺς δ’ ἐξαναστάντας προσκυνεῖν καὶ προσεύχεσθαι καθαπερεὶ θεῷ. ταύτην οὖν θέλοντα βεβαιῶσαι τὴν διάληψιν εἰς τὸ πῦρ ἐναλέσθαι.

Historia Augusta, Elagabalus 4, 5

“He had banquet and bedroom furniture made from silver. He often ate camel-heels and cock’s combs removed from birds who were still alive to imitate Apicius, as well as the tongues of peacocks and nightingales because it was said that whoever ate them was safe from the plague.

He also gave the the Palace visitors enormous serving dishes piled with the innards of mullets, flamingo-brains, partridge eggs, the brains of thrushes, and the whole heads of parrots, pheasants, and peacocks.”

Hic solido argento factos habuit lectos et tricliniares et cubiculares. comedit saepius ad imitationem Apicii calcanea camelorum et cristas vivis gallinaceis demptas, linguas pavonum et lusciniarum, quod qui ederet a pestilentia tutus diceretur. exhibuit et Palatinis lances ingentes extis mullorum refertas et cerebellis phoenicopterum et perdicum ovis et cerebellis turdorum et capitibus psittacorum et phasianorum et pavonum.

Skylla and Charybdis? An Easy Choice

Last year I ran the following poll. The results surprised me.

This year, people did a bit better

 

I had imagined that Simonides made things clear:

Simonides, fr. 356

“Everything comes to a single, dreadful Charybdis—
The great virtues and wealth the same.”

πάντα γὰρ μίαν ἱκνεῖται δασπλῆτα Χάρυβδιν,
αἱ μεγάλαι τ’ ἀρεταὶ καὶ ὁ πλοῦτος.

No? Ok. Here’s a proverb and an explanation

Michael Apostolios, Collectio Paroemiarum 16.49

“Avoid Kharybdis and come close to Skyla.” This is similar to the saying, “I avoided it by finding a better evil”

They say about Skyla that she was a Tyrrhenian woman, something if a beast, who was a woman down to the navel but she grew dog heads beneath that point. The rest of her body was a serpent. This kind of a cerature is very silly to imagine. But here is the truth. There were the islands of the Tyrrenians, which used to raid the coasts of Sicily and the Ionian bay. There was a trirereme which had the named Skyla. That trireme used to overtake other ships often and use their food and there was many a story about it. Odysseus fled that ship. trusting a strong and favorable wind and he told this story in Corcyra to Alkinoos, how he was pursued and how he fled and what the shape of the ship was. From these stories, the myth was formed.”

Τὴν Χάρυβδιν ἐκφυγὼν, τῇ Σκύλῃ περιέπεσον:
ὁμοία τῇ· ῎Εφυγον κακὸν εὗρον ἄμεινον

Λέγουσι περὶ Σκύλης ὡς ἦν Τυῤῥηνία, θηρίον τι, γυνὴ  μὲν μέχρι τοῦ ὀμφαλοῦ, κυνῶν δὲ ἐντεῦθεν αὐτῇ προσπεφύκασι κεφαλαί· τὸ δ’ ἄλλο σῶμα ὄφεως. τοιαύτην δὲ φύσιν ἐννοεῖν πολὺ εὔηθες· ἡ δὲ ἀλήθεια αὕτη· Τυῤῥηνίων νῆσοι ἦσαν, αἳ ἐληΐζοντο τὰ περίχωρα τῆς Σικελίας καὶ τὸν ᾿Ιόνιον κόλπον· ἦν δὲ ναῦς τριήρης ταχεῖα τό τε ὄνομα Σκύλα· αὕτη ἡ τριήρης τὰ λοιπὰ τῶν πλοίων συλλαμβάνουσα πολλάκις εἰργάζετο βρῶμα, καὶ λόγος ἦν περὶ αὐτῆς πολύς· ταύτην τὴν ναῦν ᾿Οδυσσεὺς σφοδρῷ καὶ λαύρῳ πνεύματι χρησάμενος διέφυγε, διηγήσατο δὲ ἐν Κερκύρᾳ τῷ ᾿Αλκινόῳ, πῶς ἐδιώχθη καὶ πῶς ἐξέφυγε, καὶ τὴν ἰδέαν τοῦ πλοίου· ἀφ’ ὧν προσανεπλάσθη ὁ μῦθος.

Ok. Maybe that wasn’t clear.

Heraclitus, Homeric Problems 70

“Charybdis is an obvious name for luxury and endless drinking. Homer has allegorized manifold shamelessness in Skylla, which is why she would logically have a belt of dogs, guardians for her rapacity, daring, and pugnacity. “

Καὶ Χάρυβδις μὲν ἡ δάπανος ἀσωτία καὶ περὶ πότους ἄπληστος  εὐλόγως ὠνόμασται·  Σκύλλαν δὲ τὴν πολύμορφον ἀναίδειαν ἠλληγόρησε, διὸ δὴ κύνας οὐκ ἀλόγως ὑπέζωσται προτομαῖς ἁρπαγῇ, τόλμῃ καὶ πλεονεξίᾳ πεφραγμέναις·

Yeah, that doesn’t help matters. How about this?

Philo, On Dreams, 70

“But you, go away from “the smoke and the wave” and depart the ridiculous concerns of mortal life as from that fearsome Charybdis without touching it at all, don’t even, as the people say, brush it with your littlest toe.”

ἀλλὰ σύ γε τοῦ μὲν “καπνοῦ καὶ κύματος ἐκτὸς” βαῖνε καὶ τὰς καταγελάστους τοῦ θνητοῦ βίου σπουδὰς ὡς τὴν φοβερὰν ἐκείνην χάρυβδιν ἀποδίδρασκε καὶ μηδὲ ἄκρῳ, τὸ τοῦ λόγου τοῦτο, ποδὸς δακτύλῳ ψαύσῃς.

Plutarch, with an assist

Plutarch, Fr. 178, Stobaeus 4.52 from his On the Soul [Plutarch uses the same image elsewhere]

“For satiety seems to be becoming worn out in pleasures from the soul suffering in some way with the body, since the soul does not shirk from its pleasures. But when it is interwoven, as it is said, with the body, it suffers the same things as Odysseus, just as he was held, clinging to the fig tree, not because he desired it or delighted in it, but because he feared Charybdis lurking below him. The soul clings to the body and embraces it in this way not because of goodwill or gratitude but because it fears the uncertainty of death.

As wise Hesiod says, “the gods keep life concealed from human beings.” They have not tied the soul to the body with fleshly bonds, but they have devised and bound around the mind one cell and one guard, our uncertainty and distrust about our end. If a soul had faith in these things—“however so many await men when they die”, to quote Heraclitus—nothing would restrain it at all.”

 καὶ γὰρ ὁ κόρος κόπος ἐν ἡδοναῖς ἔοικεν εἶναι τῷ μετὰ σώματός τι τὴν ψυχὴν πάσχειν, ἐπεὶ πρός γε τὰς αὑτῆς ἡδονὰς οὐκ ἀπαγορεύει. συμπεπλεγμένη δέ, ὥσπερ εἴρηται, τῷ σώματι ταὐτὰ τῷ Ὀδυσσεῖ πέπονθεν· ὡς γὰρ ἐκεῖνος τῷ ἐρινεῷ προσφὺς εἴχετο καὶ περιέπτυσσεν οὐ ποθῶν οὐδ᾿ ἀγαπῶν ἐκεῖνον, ἀλλὰ δεδιὼς ὑποκειμένην τὴν Χάρυβδιν, οὕτως ἔοικεν ἡ ψυχὴ τοῦ σώματος ἔχεσθαι καὶ περιπεπλέχθαι δι᾿ εὔνοιαν οὐδεμίαν αὐτοῦ καὶ χάριν, ἀλλ᾿ ὀρρωδοῦσα τοῦ θανάτου τὴν ἀδηλότητα.

κρύψαντες γὰρ ἔχουσι θεοὶ βίον ἀνθρώποισι

κατὰ τὸν σοφὸν Ἡσίοδον, οὐ σαρκίνοις τισὶ δεσμοῖς πρὸς τὸ σῶμα τὴν ψυχὴν κατατείναντες, ἀλλ᾿ ἕνα δεσμὸν αὐτῇ καὶ μίαν φυλακὴν μηχανησάμενοι καὶ περιβαλόντες, τὴν ἀδηλότητα καὶ ἀπιστίαν τῶν μετὰ τὴν τελευτήν· ἐπεὶ τήν γε πεισθεῖσαν, ὅσα ἀνθρώπους περιμένει τελευτήσαντας καθ᾿ Ἡράκλειτον, οὐδὲν ἂν κατάσχοι.”

So, to be clear:  Charybdis=death. 

 

Britannia between Scylla & Charybdis. or— The Vessel of the Constitution steered clear of the Rock of Democracy, and the Whirlpool of Arbitrary-Power. James Gilray, 1793

 

A War of Deliberation

Montesquieu, Dissertation on Politics in Roman Religion (Part 14)

The Romans had this advantage, that they had as a legislator the most sage prince that profane history has ever spoken of. This great man sought nothing in his entire reign but that justice and equity should flourish, and he made it so that his moderation was felt no less by his neighbors than by his subjects. He established the Fetials, who were priests without whose ministry the Romans could make neither peace nor war. In the peace which Rome concluded with Alba Longa, a Fetial says in Livy, ‘If the Roman people be the first to depart from this treaty, whether from the public counsel or an evil trick, it prays that Jupiter will strike it just as it will strike the pig which it holds in its hands.’ And the priest straightaway slaughtered the pig with the strike of a stone.

Before beginning a war, the Romans sent one of these Fetials to make their complaints to the people who had inflicted some injury on the Republic. He gave them some time for consultation and for looking for the means of reestablishing good terms; but if they neglected this accommodation, the Fetial turned around and departed from this unjust people after having invoked against them both the celestial and the infernal gods. At that time, the senate ordained that which it believed just and pious. Thus, wars were never undertaken in haste, and they could not occur except as a sequel to a long and mature deliberation.

Les Romains avaient cet avantage, qu’ils avaient pour législateur le plus sage prince dont l’histoire profane ait jamais parlé: ce grand homme ne chercha pendant tout son règne qu’à faire fleurir la justice et l’équité, et il ne fit pas moins sentir sa modération à ses voisins qu’à ses sujets. Il établit les fécialiens, qui étaient des prêtres sans le ministère desquels on ne pouvait faire ni la paix ni la guerre. Nous avons encore des formulaires de serments faits par ces fécialiens quand on concluait la paix avec quelque peuple. Dans celle que Rome conclut avec Albe, un fécialien dit dans Tite-Live: « Si le peuple romain est le premier à s’en départir, publico consilio dolove malo, qu’il prie Jupiter de le frapper comme il va frapper le cochon qu’il tenait dans ses mains ; » et aussitôt il l’abattit d’un coup de caillou.

Avant de commencer la guerre, on envoyait un de ces fécialiens faire ses plaintes au peuple qui avait porté quelque dommage à la république. Il lui donnait un certain temps pour se consulter, et pour chercher les moyens de rétablir la bonne intelligence ; mais, si on négligeait de faire l’accommodement, le fécialien s’en retournait et sortait des terres de ce peuple injuste, après avoir invoqué contre lui les dieux célestes et ceux des enfers : pour lors le sénat ordonnait ce qu’il croyait juste et pieux. Ainsi les guerres ne s’entreprenaient jamais à la hâte, et elles ne pouvaient être qu’une suite d’une longue et mûre délibération.

The Cyclops Had Three Eyes and They Were His Brothers

John Malalas, Chronographia, V

“The wise Euripides put in his poetic drama about the Cyclops that he had three eyes, indicating by this that he had three brothers and that they cared for one another and kept a watchful eye on one another’s places in the island, fought together, and avenged one another.

And he also adds that he made the Cyclops drunk and unable to flee, because Odysseus made that very Cyclops “drunk” with a ton of money and gifts so he would not “eat those with him up”, which is not actually to consume them with slaughter.

He also says that Odysseus blinded his one eye with torch fire, really meaning that he stole away the only daughter of Polyphemos’ brother, a maiden named Elpê, with “fire”, which means he seized her on fire with burning lust. This is what it means that he burned Polyphemos in one of his eyes, he really deprived him of his daughter. The very wise Pheidias of Corinth provided this interpretation saying that Euripides explained this poetically because he did not agree with what the wisest Homer said about the wandering of Odysseus.”

ὁ γὰρ σοφὸς Εὐριπίδης <ποιητικῶς> δρᾶμα ἐξέθετο περὶ τοῦ Κύκλωπος, ὅτι τρεῖς ἔσχεν ὀφθαλμούς, σημαίνων τοὺς τρεῖς ἀδελφοὺς (50 F 2) ὡς συμπαθοῦντας ἀλλήλοις καὶ διαβλεπομένους τοὺς ἀλλήλων τόπους τῆς νήσου καὶ συμμαχοῦντας καὶ ἐκδικοῦντας ἀλλήλους. (2) καὶ ὅτι οἴνωι μεθύσας τὸν Κύκλωπα ἐκφυγεῖν ἠδυνήθη, διότι χρήμασι πολλοῖς καὶ δώροις ἐμέθυσε τὸν αὐτὸν Κύκλωπα ὁ ᾽Οδυσσεὺς πρὸς τὸ μὴ κατεσθίειν τοὺς μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ, <τουτέστι μὴ καταναλίσκειν σφαγαῖς>. (3) καὶ ὅτι λαβὼν ᾽Οδυσσεὺς λαμπάδα πυρὸς ἐτύφλωσε τὸν ὀφθαλμὸν αὐτοῦ τὸν ἕνα, διὁτι τὴν θυγατέρα τὴν μονογενῆ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ Πολυφήμου ῎Ελπην, παρθένον οὖσαν, λαμπάδι, πυρὸς ἐρωτικοῦ καυθεῖσαν ἥρπασε, τουτέστιν ἕνα τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν τοῦ Κύκλωπος ἐφλόγισε τὸν Πολύφημον τὴν αὐτοῦ θυγατέρα ἀφελόμενος. (4) ἥντινα ἑρμηνείαν ὁ σοφώτατος Φειδίας(?) ὁ Κορίνθιος ἐξέθετο, εἰρηκὼς ὅτι ὁ σοφὸς Εὐριπίδης ποιητικῶς πάντα μετέφρασε, μὴ συμφωνήσας τῶι σοφωτάτωι ῾Ομήρωι ἐκθεμένωι τὴν ᾽Οδυσσέως πλάνην.

Ok, this story might be totally nuts, but there was a scholiastic debate about how many eyes Polyphemos had.

Grumpy and Irritable: An Encyclopedia Entry on Euripides

Suda, s.v. Euripides, Εὐριπίδης, Epsilon 3695

“Euripides was the son of Mnêsarkhos or Mnêsarkhidês and Kleitô, who settled in Boiotia as exiles and then in Attica. It is not true that his mother was a vegetable vendor. For she was actually of real highborn lineage as Philokhoros demonstrates.

His mother became pregnant when Xerxes was crossing the Hellespont and gave birth the day the Greeks routed the Persians. At first, he was a painter and then a student of Prodikos among the orators and Socrates for ethics and philosophy. He also learned from Anaxagoras the Klazomenian. But he tried his hand at tragedy after he observed the dangers Anaxagoras faced because of the beliefs he introduced.

Euripides had a grumpy character and was irritable and avoided people. For this reason, he was also believed to be a misogynist. Still, first he married Mnêsilokhos’ daughter Khoirine. With her he fathered Mnesilokhos and Mnesikhardê as well as little Euripidês. He divorced her and remarried another woman whom he also discovered to be unfaithful

He left Athens and when to the court of Arkhelaos, king of the Macedonians, where he lived enjoying the highest honors. But he died thanks to the plot of Arribaios the Macedonian and Krateuas of Thessaly, two poets who were jealous of him and who used 10 minai to convince one of the king’s servants, Lysimakhos, to set the king’s dogs—animals he had trained himself—on Euripides.

But some people record that he was torn apart at night by women instead of dogs when he was sneaking out for a late night meeting with Krateros, Archelaus’ lover [since he was enamored with him too and had a lot of these kinds of lovers]. But there are those who say he was on his way to meet the wife of Nikodikos of Arethousa.

Euripides lived until he was 75 years old and the king had his bones interred at Pella. He wrote 75 plays—although some claim 92—but there are 77 attributed to him. He was victorious 5 times, 4 while alive and once after his death when his nephew, also named Euripides, staged his play. He staged plays for 22 years in a row and performed his last in the 93rd Olympiad.”

Εὐριπίδης, Μνησάρχου ἢ Μνησαρχίδου καὶ Κλειτοῦς, οἳ φεύγοντες εἰς Βοιωτίαν μετῴκησαν, εἶτα ἐν τῇ Ἀττικῇ. οὐκ ἀληθὲς δέ, ὡς λαχανόπωλις ἦν ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ: καὶ γὰρ τῶν σφόδρα εὐγενῶν ἐτύγχανεν, ὡς ἀποδείκνυσι Φιλόχορος.

ἐν δὲ τῇ διαβάσει Ξέρξου ἐκυοφορεῖτο ὑπὸ τῆς μητρὸς καὶ ἐτέχθη καθ’ ἣν ἡμέραν Ἕλληνες ἐτρέψαντο τοὺς Πέρσας. γέγονε δὲ τὰ πρῶτα ζωγράφος, εἶτα μαθητὴς Προδίκου μὲν ἐν τοῖς ῥητορικοῖς, Σωκράτους δὲ ἐν τοῖς ἠθικοῖς καὶ φιλοσόφοις. διήκουσε δὲ καὶ Ἀναξαγόρου τοῦ Κλαζομενίου.

ἐπὶ τραγῳδίαν δὲ ἐτράπη τὸν Ἀναξαγόραν ἰδὼν ὑποστάντα κινδύνους δι’ ἅπερ εἰσῆξε δόγματα. σκυθρωπὸς δὲ ἦν τὸ ἦθος καὶ ἀμειδὴς καὶ φεύγων τὰς συνουσίας: ὅθεν καὶ μισογύνης ἐδοξάσθη. ἔγημε δὲ ὅμως πρώτην μὲν Χοιρίνην, θυγατέρα Μνησιλόχου: ἐξ ἧς ἔσχε Μνησίλοχον καὶ Μνησαρχίδην καὶ Εὐριπίδην. ἀπωσάμενος δὲ ταύτην ἔσχε καὶ δευτέραν, καὶ ταύτης ὁμοίως ἀκολάστου πειραθείς. ἀπάρας δὲ ἀπ’ Ἀθηνῶν ἦλθε πρὸς Ἀρχέλαον τὸν βασιλέα τῶν Μακεδόνων, παρ’ ᾧ διῆγε τῆς ἄκρας ἀπολαύων τιμῆς.

ἐτελεύτησε δὲ ὑπὸ ἐπιβουλῆς Ἀρριβαίου τοῦ Μακεδόνος καὶ Κρατεύα τοῦ Θετταλοῦ, ποιητῶν ὄντων καὶ φθονησάντων αὐτῷ πεισάντων τε τὸν βασιλέως οἰκέτην τοὔνομα Λυσίμαχον, δέκα μνῶν ἀγορασθέντα, τοὺς βασιλέως, οὓς αὐτὸς ἔτρεφε, κύνας ἐπαφεῖναι αὐτῷ. οἱ δὲ ἱστόρησαν οὐχ ὑπὸ κυνῶν, ἀλλ’ ὑπὸ γυναικῶν νύκτωρ διασπασθῆναι, πορευόμενον ἀωρὶ πρὸς Κρατερὸν τὸν ἐρώμενον Ἀρχελάου [καὶ γὰρ σχεῖν αὐτὸν καὶ περὶ τοὺς τοιούτους ἔρωτας], οἱ δέ, πρὸς τὴν γαμετὴν Νικοδίκου τοῦ Ἀρεθουσίου. ἔτη δὲ βιῶναι αὐτὸν οε#, καὶ τὰ ὀστᾶ αὐτοῦ ἐν Πέλλῃ μετακομίσαι τὸν βασιλέα. δράματα δὲ αὐτοῦ κατὰ μέν τινας οε#, κατὰ δὲ ἄλλους #4β#: σῴζονται δὲ οζ#. νίκας δὲ ἀνείλετο ε#, τὰς μὲν δ# περιών, τὴν δὲ μίαν μετὰ τὴν τελευτήν, ἐπιδειξαμένου τὸ δρᾶμα τοῦ ἀδελφιδοῦ αὐτοῦ Εὐριπίδου. ἐπεδείξατο δὲ ὅλους ἐνιαυτοὺς κβ#, καὶ τελευτᾷ ἐπὶ τῆς #4γ# Ὀλυμπιάδος.

File:Euripides Statue.jpg

How Many Pieces Has a Soul?

Epicurus, Letter to Herodotus [=Diogenes Laertius 10.65]

“For this reason, because the soul is embodied, it never loses perception even if some part of it is removed. So, even if parts of the soul perish along with the container when it is destroyed completely or partially, should the soul in fact persist it retains perception. But the rest of the body that remains either whole or in parts does not have perception when this thing has been removed, that number of atoms requisite for the nature of the soul.

So, really, when the whole mass is destroyed, the soul scatters and no longer has the same abilities and can no longer move, just as if it never even obtained perception.”

“Διὸ δὴ καὶ ἐνυπάρχουσα ἡ ψυχὴ οὐδέποτε ἄλλου τινὸς μέρους ἀπηλλαγμένου ἀναισθητεῖ· ἀλλ᾿ ἃ ἂν καὶ ταύτης ξυναπόληται τοῦ στεγάζοντος λυθέντος εἴθ᾿ ὅλου εἴτε καὶ μέρους τινός, ἐάν περ διαμένῃ, ἕξει τὴν αἴσθησιν. τὸ δὲ λοιπὸν ἄθροισμα διαμένον καὶ ὅλον καὶ κατὰ μέρος οὐκ ἔχει τὴν αἴσθησιν κείνου ἀπηλλαγμένου, ὅσον ποτέ ἐστι τὸ συντεῖνον τῶν ἀτόμων πλῆθος εἰς τὴν τῆς ψυχῆς φύσιν. καὶ μὴν καὶ λυομένου τοῦ ὅλου ἀθροίσματος ἡ ψυχὴ διασπείρεται καὶ οὐκέτι ἔχει τὰς αὐτὰς δυνάμεις οὐδὲ κινεῖται, ὥσπερ οὐδ᾿ αἴσθησιν κέκτηται.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail | Return to the 80s

Roman Royal Remnants

Montesquieu, Dissertation on Politics in Roman Religion (Part 13)

The duumvirs had the direction of sacred affairs: the quindecemvirs had the care of the religious ceremonies and preserved the Sibylline Books, which the decemvirs and the duumvirs did before them. The consulted the oracles when the senate ordered it, and they made reports on them, adding their opinions. They were also commissioned to perform what was prescribed in the Sibylline Books, and to make sure that the Secular Games were celebrated, so that all religious ceremonies passed through the hands of the magistrates.

The kings of Rome had a sort of priesthood: there were certain ceremonies which could not be performed except by them. When the Tarquins were expelled, it was feared that the people might perceive some change in the religion. So there was established a magistrate called the rex sacrorum, who performed the functions of the ancient kings in sacrifices, and whose wife was called the regina sacrorum. This was the only vestige of royalty which the Romans preserved among them.

Botticelli, The Story of Lucretia

Les duumvirs avaient la direction des choses sacrées ; les quindécemvirs avaient soin des cérémonies de la religion, gardaient les livres des sibylles ; ce que faisaient auparavant les décemvirs et les duumvirs. Ils consultaient les oracles lorsque le sénat l’avait ordonné, et en faisaient le rapport, y ajoutant leur avis ; ils étaient aussi commis pour exécuter tout ce qui était prescrit dans les livres des sibylles, et pour faire célébrer les jeux séculaires : de manière que toutes les cérémonies religieuses passaient par les mains des magistrats.

Les rois de Rome avaient une espèce de sacerdoce : il y avait de certaines cérémonies qui ne pouvaient être faites que par eux. Lorsque les Tarquins furent chassés, on craignait que le peuple ne s’aperçût de quelque changement dans la religion ; cela fit établir un magistrat appelé rex sacrorum, qui, dans les sacrifices, faisait les fonctions des anciens rois, et dont la femme était appelée regina sacrorum. Ce fut le seul vestige de royauté que les Romains conservèrent parmi eux.

Insults Cannot Hurt the Wise

Seneca, De Constantia 5

“Serenus, if it seems apt to you, we need to distinguish injury from insult. The first is more serious by its nature and the other is lighter and an issue only for the overly sensitive because people are not wounded but offended. Some spirits are nevertheless so fragile and vain that they believe nothing is more bitter. For this reason you will find an enslaved person who would prefer lashes to fists and believes death and beatings more tolerable than insulting words.

The situation has gone to such a point of ridiculousness that we are harmed not just by pain but by opinion about pain like children whom dark shadows and the appearance of masks or changed appearances terrify! We are people moved to tears by somewhat painful words touching our ears, by rude signs with fingers, and other things which the ignorant rush from in panicked error.

Injury means to do someone evil; but wisdom allows no space for evil because the only evil it recognizes is debasement, which is incapable of entering anywhere virtue and truth already live.”

Dividamus, si tibi videtur, Serene, iniuriam a contumelia. Prior illa natura gravior est, haec levior et tantum delicatis gravis, qua non laeduntur homines sed offenduntur. Tanta est tamen animorum dissolutio et vanitas, ut quidam nihil acerbius putent. Sic invenies servum qui flagellis quam colaphis caedi malit et qui mortem ac verbera tolerabiliora credat quam contumeliosa verba. Ad tantas ineptias perventum est, ut non dolore tantum sed doloris opinione vexemur more puerorum, quibus metum incutit umbra et personarum deformitas et depravata facies, lacrimas vero evocant nomina parum grata auribus et digitorum motus et alia quae impetu quodam erroris improvidi refugiunt. Iniuria propositum hoc habet aliquem malo adficere; malo autem sapientia non relinquit locum, unum enim illi malum est turpitudo, quae intrare eo ubi iam virtus honestumque est non potest.

File:Bust of Seneca, Italian c.1700, Albertinum, Dresden.jpg
Bust of Seneca, Italian c.1700, Albertinum, Dresden