Two ‘Comic’ Fragments on Politics

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, one 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.

Image result for Ancient greek voting vase

2 thoughts on “Two ‘Comic’ Fragments on Politics

  1. In the second example here, of the boys playing the game with their marked out line and ostrakon, are we able to identify the game? Might it possibly still be played? It sounds like the games still played in India between two groups of boys or girls across a line called in the north ‘kabbadi’ and in Maharashtra ‘hututu’.

    In the middle ages the details of the game were flexible. The field (approx 12.5 x 10 m) was divided by a line, usually of stones, Players divided into equal teams and lined up on either side of the line, twenty to thirty feet inside their own zone. Team A sent a ‘raider’ into the opposing zone. The raider took a deep breath and ran through the zone chanting “kabbadi kabbadi” (to show that s/he was not breathing in) and tagging as many players as she could before returning to her own zone. She could not draw another breath until safely over the line. If she got any part of her body across the line, all tagged players on the other team were out. Team B meanwhile concentrating on trapping and capturing the raider to prevent her forcibly from getting back to her own zone. If she could not get a hand or foot acrpss the line, she was out. Team B then sent a raider into Team A’s territory. This continued back and forth until one team ran out of players. (Info from ‘Sports and Games of Medieval Cultures’.)

    Kabbadi is actually played in Greece these days:

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