The Life and Sayings of Anacharsis the Skythian

Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 10.50

“Anacharsis the Skythian, when a they had a drinking contest at Periander’s house, asked for the first prize because he was the first of the drinkers to get drunk, believing that the  goal of a drinking contest was the same as running: being first.”

᾿Ανάχαρσις δ’ ὁ Σκύθης παρὰ Περιάνδρῳ τεθέντος ἄθλου περὶ τοῦ πίνειν ᾔτησε τὸ νικητήριον πρῶτος μεθυσθεὶς τῶν συμπαρόντων, ὡς ὄντος τέλους τούτου καὶ τῆς ἐν τῷ πότῳ νίκης ὥσπερ καὶ τῆς ἐν τῷ τρέχειν.

10.64

“Anacharsis has shown that getting drunk keeps our eyes from seeing clearly—that opinions of the drunk tend to be wrong. For when a fellow drinker saw his wife at a party, he said “Anacharsis, you have married an ugly woman.” And he responded, “That’s quite clear to me. But pour me a stronger drink, child, and I’ll make her pretty!”

ὅτι δὲ τὸ μεθύειν καὶ τὰς ὄψεις ἡμῶν πλανᾷ σαφῶς ἔδειξεν ᾿Ανάχαρσις δι’ ὧνεἴρηκε, δηλώσας ὅτι ψευδεῖς δόξαι τοῖς μεθύουσι γίγνονται. συμπότης γάρ τις ἰδὼν αὐτοῦ τὴν γυναῖκα ἐν τῷ συμποσίῳ ἔφη· ‘ὦ ᾿Ανάχαρσι, γυναῖκα γεγάμηκας αἰσχράν.’ καὶ ὃς ἔφη· ‘πάνυ γε κἀμοὶ δοκεῖ· ἀλλά μοι ἔγχεον, ὦ παῖ, ποτήριον ἀκρατέστερον, ὅπως αὐτὴν καλὴν ποιήσω.’

14.2

“I also know that Anacharsis the Skythian, when comedians were performing at a dinner party, sat there without laughing. But when a monkey came in, he laughed and said “This is funny by nature; but the man has to practice.”

καίτοι γε οἶδα καὶ ᾿Ανάχαρσιν τὸν Σκύθην ἐν συμποσίῳ γελωτοποιῶν εἰσαχθέντων ἀγέλαστον διαμείναντα, πιθήκου δ’ ἐπεισαχθέντος γελάσαντα φάναι, ὡς οὗτος μὲν φύσει γελοῖός ἐστιν, ὁ δ’ ἄνθρωπος ἐπιτηδεύσει.

Anacharsis.png

Suda

s.v. Angkura: Note that Anakharsis, a Skythian philosopher, invented the anchor and the potter’s wheel. He lived around the time of Kroisos.

Ἄγκυραν: ὅτι Ἀνάχαρσις Σκύθης φιλόσοφος εὗρεν ἄγκυραν καὶ τὸν κεραμεικὸν τροχόν. ἦν δὲ ἐπὶ Κροίσου.

“s.v. Anacharsis, the son of Gnuros, and a Greek woman. A Skythian, philosopher, and brother of the king of the Skythians, Kadouias. He wrote Laws of the Scythians in epic verse, On the Simplicity of the Affairs of Human Life, adding up to around eight hundred lines. He invented the anchor and the potter’s wheel. He died while performing Greek rites because his brother was conspiring against him. According to others, he died in deep old age, nearly 100 years old.”

᾿Ανάχαρσις, Γνύρου, μητρὸς δὲ ῾Ελληνίδος, Σκύθης, φιλόσοφος, ἀδελφὸς Καδουΐα τοῦ Σκυθῶν βασιλέως. ἔγραψε Νόμιμα Σκυθικὰ δι’ ἐπῶν, Περὶ εὐτελείας τῶν εἰς τὸν ἀνθρώπινον βίον ἔπη πάντα ω′. εὗρε δὲ οὗτος ἄγκυραν καὶ τὸν κεραμεικὸν τροχόν. ἦν δὲ ἐπὶ Κροίσου. καὶ τετελεύτηκεν ῾Ελληνικὰς τελετὰς ἐπιτελῶν ἐν Σκύθαις, ἐπιβουλεύσαντος αὐτῷ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ· κατὰ δέ τινας ἐν γήρᾳ βαθεῖκαὶ μέχρις ἐτῶν ρ′.

 

Anacharsis the Scythian, Diogenes Laertius 1.8 103-105

“He said that the vine bears three grapes: pleasure, inebriation, and disgust. He said that he was surprised how among the Greeks experts competed and amateurs judged them. When he asked how someone could avoid being a drunk, he said “if you keep the shame of drunks before you.” He also used to say that he was surprised how the Greeks make laws against arrogance when they honor athletes for hitting each other. When he learned that a ship’s side was four-fingers thick, he said that the sailors were only that far from death.

He used to say that olive oil was a drug of madness since Athletes went crazy at each other when they rubbed it on themselves. He used to ask how we outlaw lies, but lie openly in commerce. And he used to wonder at how the Greeks drink from small cups at the beginning of the feast, but big ones when they are full.  This is inscribed on his statues: Master your tongue, your stomach, and your genitals.” When asked if there were pipes in Skythia, he said “No, nor grapevines.” When asked what kind of boats were safest, he said “those on shore.” And he said that the most amazing thing he saw among the Greeks was that they leave the smoke on the mountains and take the wood into the cities.

When asked whether there were more men living or dead he asked, “Where would you count the men on the sea?” When he was reproached by some Attic man for being Skythian, he said, “my country is a reproach to me; but you are a reproach to your country.” When asked what is good and what is bad for men, he said “the tongue.” He used to say that it was better to have one friend worth much than many worth little. He called the market a place designated for deceiving and depriving one another. When he was insulted over wine by a young man he said, “boy, if you can’t handle wine when you’re young, you’ll be carrying water when you’re old.”

scy

Οὗτος τὴν ἄμπελον εἶπε τρεῖς φέρειν βότρυς: τὸν πρῶτον ἡδονῆς: τὸν δεύτερον μέθης: τὸν τρίτον ἀνδίας. θαυμάζειν δὲ ἔφη πῶς παρὰ τοῖς Ἕλλησιν ἀγωνίζονται μὲν οἱ τεχνῖται, κρίνουσι δὲ οἱ μὴ τεχνῖται. ἐρωτηθεὶς πῶς οὐκ ἂν γένοιτό τις φιλοπότης, “εἰ πρὸ ὀφθαλμῶν,” εἶπεν, “ἔχοι τὰς τῶν μεθυόντων ἀσχημοσύνας.” θαυμάζειν τε ἔλεγε πῶς οἱ Ἕλληνες νομοθετοῦντες κατὰ τῶν ὑβριζόντων, τοὺς ἀθλητὰς τιμῶσιν ἐπὶ τῷ τύπτεινἀλλήλους. μαθὼν τέτταρας δακτύλους εἶναι τὸ πάχος τῆς νεώς, τοσοῦτον ἔφη τοῦ θανάτου τοὺς πλέοντας ἀπέχειν.

4 [104] Τὸ ἔλαιον μανίας φάρμακον ἔλεγε διὰ τὸ ἀλειφομένους τοὺς ἀθλητὰς ἐπιμαίνεσθαι ἀλλήλοις. πῶς, ἔλεγεν, ἀπαγορεύοντες τὸ ψεύδεσθαι ἐν ταῖς καπηλείαις φανερῶς ψεύδονται; καὶ θαυμάζειν φησὶ τῶς Ἕλληνες ἀρχόμενοι μὲν ἐν μικροῖς πίνουσι, πλησθέντες δὲ ἐν μεγάλοις. ἐπιγράφεται δὲ αὐτοῦ ταῖς εἰκόσι: “γλώσσης, γαστρός, αἰδοίων κρατεῖν.” ἐρωτηθεὶς εἰ εἰσὶν ἐν Σκύθαις αὐλοί, εἶπεν, “ἀλλ᾽ οὐδὲ ἄμπελοι.” ἐρωτηθεὶς τίνα τῶν πλοίων εἰσὶν ἀσφαλέστερα, ἔφη, “τὰ νενεωλκημένα.” καὶ τοῦτο ἔφη θαυμασιώτατον ἑωρακέναι παρὰ τοῖς Ἕλλησιν, ὅτι τὸν μὲν καπνὸν ἐν τοῖς ὄρεσι καταλείπουσι, τὰ δὲ ξύλα εἰς τὴν πόλιν κομίζουσιν. ἐρωτηθεὶς πότεροι πλείους εἰσίν, οἱ ζῶντες ἢ οἱ νεκροί, ἔφη, “τοὺς οὖν πλέοντας ποῦ τίθης;” ὀνειδιζόμενος ὑπὸ Ἀττικοῦ ὅτι Σκύθης ἐστίν, ἔφη, “ἀλλ᾽ ἐμοῦ μὲν ὄνειδος ἡ πατρίς, σὺ δὲ τῆς πατρίδος.” 5 [105] ἐρωτηθεὶς τί ἐστιν ἐν ἀνθρώποις ἀγαθόν τε καὶ φαῦλον, ἔφη, “γλῶσσα.” κρεῖττον ἔλεγεν ἕνα φίλον ἔχειν πολλοῦ ἄξιον ἢ πολλοὺς μηδενὸς ἀξίους. τὴν ἀγορὰν ὡρισμένον ἔφη τόπον εἰς τὸ ἀλλήλους ἀπατᾶν καὶ πλεονεκτεῖν. ὑπὸ μειρακίου παρὰ πότον ὑβρισθεὶς ἔφη, “μειράκιον, ἐὰν νέος ὢν τὸν οἶνον οὐ φέρῃς, γέρων γενόμενος ὕδωρ οἴσεις.”

2 thoughts on “The Life and Sayings of Anacharsis the Skythian

  1. Pingback: The Secrets That You Keep | SENTENTIAE ANTIQUAE

  2. Pingback: Envy and Pity: Proverbial Wisdom? | SENTENTIAE ANTIQUAE

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