Zoilus: Trolling Before the Internet

Aelian, Varia Historia 11.10:

Zoilos of Amphipolis, who wrote against Homer, Plato, and others, was once a disciple of Polycrates. This Polycrates is the one who wrote a pamphlet against Socrates. Zoilos was called the Rhetorical Hound. This is what he looked like. His beard fell down from his face, but the hair on his head was cropped close to his skin, and he had a cloak that lay above his knees. He loved to deliver malicious speeches, and he enjoyed being hated by many. His evil spirit was pretty keen on censuring other people. Some other well-educated fellow once asked him why it was that he talked so much trash about everyone, and he responded, ‘As much as I mean to work them ill, I can’t actually harm them.’

Ζωίλος ὁ ᾿Αμφιπολίτης ὁ καὶ ἐς ῞Ομηρον γράψας καὶ ἐς Πλάτωνα καὶ ἐς ἄλλους, Πολυκράτους μὲν ἀκουστὴς ἐγένετο· οὗτος δὲ ὁ Πολυκράτης καὶ τὴν κατηγορίαν ἔγραψε τὴν κατὰ Σωκράτους. ἐκαλεῖτο δ’ ὁ Ζωίλος οὗτος Κύων ῥητορικός. ἦν δὲ τοιοῦτος. τὸ μὲν γένειον αὐτῷ καθεῖτο, κέκαρτο δὲ ἐν χρῷ τὴν κεφαλήν, καὶ θοιμάτιον ὑπὲρ τὸ γόνυ ἦν. ἤρα δὲ ἀγορεύειν κακῶς, καὶ ἀπεχθάνεσθαι πολλοῖς σχολὴν εἶχε, καὶ ψογερὸς ἦν ὁ κακοδαίμων. ἤρετο οὖν αὐτόν τις τῶν πεπαιδευμένων διὰ τί κακῶς λέγει πάντας· ὃ δὲ ‘ποιῆσαι γὰρ κακῶς βουλόμενος οὐ δύναμαι.’

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