Destroying Pentheus Only Once

Lucian, The Ignorant Book Collector 19

“When Demetrius the Cynic observed an uneducated person reading the most beautiful book in Korinth—and I think it was Euripides’ Bacchae near the spot where the messenger is narrating what happened to Pentheus and what Agave did—he grabbed the book and tore it up, saying, “It is better for me to shred Pentheus just once than for you to do it over and over again.”

Δημήτριος δὲ ὁ Κυνικὸς ἰδὼν ἐν Κορίνθῳ ἀπαίδευτόν τινα βιβλίον κάλλιστον ἀναγιγνώσκοντα —τὰς Βάκχας οἶμαι τοῦ Εὐριπίδου, κατὰ τὸν ἄγγελον δὲ ἦν τὸν διηγούμενον τὰ τοῦ Πενθέως πάθη καὶ τὸ τῆς Ἀγαύης ἔργον—ἁρπάσας διέσπασεν αὐτὸ εἰπών, “Ἄμεινόν ἐστι τῷ Πενθεῖ ἅπαξ σπαραχθῆναι ὑπ᾿ ἐμοῦ ἢ ὑπὸ σοῦ πολλάκις.”

Pompeii - Casa dei Vettii - Pentheus.jpg
Roman Fresco: Pentheus Dies Each Time You Look At It

One thought on “Destroying Pentheus Only Once

  1. You could probably create an entire Introductory Greek text around Lucian, given the abundance of material and the range of expression. It would be a hell of a lot more fun than the ones on the market today.

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