“What can I say about the health of animals that are never healthy? There’s only this: the masters of the flock have special written instructions on what treatments to use for some of their diseases and for bodily wounds which they often suffer, since they are often fighting one another with horns and since they graze in thorny areas.
All that remains is the topic of numbers. This is smaller for herds of goats than for flocks of sheep, since goats are horny and spread themselves out but sheep gather together and crowd in a single space. In the Gallic territory, people keep greater numbers of flocks instead of bigger ones because an epidemic develops quickly in large ones, which will bring an owner to ruin. They believe that a flock of fifty people is big enough.”
Quid dicam de earum sanitate, quae numquam sunt sanae? Nisi tamen illud unum: quaedam scripta habere magistros pecoris, quibus remediis utantur ad morbos quosdam earum ac vulneratum corpus, quod usu venit iis saepe, quod inter se cornibus pugnant atque in spinosis locis pascuntur. Relinquitur de numero, qui in gregibus est minor caprino quam in ovillo, quod caprae lascivae et quae dispargant se; contra oves quae se congregent ac condensent in locum unum. Itaque in agro Gallico greges plures potius faciunt quam magnos, quod in magnis cito existat pestilentia, quae ad perniciem eum perducat. Satis magnum gregem putant esse circiter quinquagenas.
“[Protagoras] was also the first to say that there are two arguments in opposition to each other concerning every matter. He argued with these and was the first to do this. He also began his work in this way: “A person is the measure of all things, that they are what they are and that they are not what they are not.”
And he used to say that the soul was nothing besides the senses, as Plato claims in the Theaetetus and that everything is true. Elsewhere, he began in this way: “Concerning the gods, I am not able to know that they exist or that they don’t exist. For many things impede knowledge—including both a lack of clarity and the brevity of human life.” Protagoras was expelled by the Athenians because of this introduction. They then burned his books in the marketplace once they had sent a herald around to collect them from those who owned them.”
“A weasel was caught by a man and to avoid
Coming death, was begging him “Spare me, please
Since I rid your home of pestilent mice”
And he responded, “if you did this for me
I would be grateful and do for you something nice.
But since you do these favors to enjoy the remains
Which the mice leave behind when you eat them too
Don’t ask me to do anything kind for you!”
He said this and sentenced the wicked weasel to die.
There are those who should know this tale is about them:
Their private business safeguards their own affairs
And they brag about accomplishments that are not there.”
Mustela ab homine prensa, cum instantem necem
effugere vellet, “Parce, quaeso”, inquit “mihi,
quae tibi molestis muribus purgo domum”.
Respondit ille “Faceres si causa mea,
gratum esset et dedissem veniam supplici.
Nunc quia laboras ut fruaris reliquiis,
quas sunt rosuri, simul et ipsos devores,
noli imputare vanum beneficium mihi”.
Atque ita locutus improbam leto dedit.
Hoc in se dictum debent illi agnoscere,
quorum privata servit utilitas sibi,
et meritum inane iactant imprudentibus.
“Philagros was shorter than average, his brow was harsh, and his eye watchful. He was quick to get fall into a rage, but he wasn’t ignorant of his own character. When one of his friends asked him why he didn’t enjoy raising children, he said “Because I don’t even enjoy myself.” Some say he died on the sea; others report that he reached the first part of old age in Italy.”
This Vita seems a bit strange in its characterization. Here’s the introductory segment (578):
“Philagros of Cilicia, a student of Lollianos, was the most volatile and irascible of the sophists. There’s a story that when a member of his audience dozed off, he struck him with an open hand. He made a start on fame when he was young and did not let off even as he grew old—he achieved enough that he was considered a model of a teacher. After living among many different nations and becoming famous for his management of arguments, he could not control his own anger well in Athens where he fell into a fight with Herodes as if he had come there for that reason.”
He should have listened to Plutarch On Controlling Anger 455c
“It is best, as one might gather, to be in control and either to depart and conceal ourselves, anchoring oneself into some quiet place, just as if we perceive that a seizure is beginning, that we might not fall—or rather, that we might not fall on someone else. We most often turn on our friends; for we neither love everyone, nor envy everyone, nor fear everyone to the extent that there is anything that is untouched or untried by anger. We grow angry with enemies, children, parents the gods, by Zeus, with wild animals and even with lifeless tools…”
“Gradually, then, by granting citizenship to those who had not carried arms or had put them down rather late, the population was rebuilt as Pompeius, Sulla and Marius restored the flagging and sputtering power of the Roman people.”
Paulatim deinde recipiendo in civitatem, qui arma aut non ceperant aut deposuerant maturius, vires refectae sunt, Pompeio Sullaque et Mano fluentem procumbentemque rem populi Romani restituentibus.
Any student of Roman history understands that Rome’s expansion and strength relied in part on its ability to absorb and assimilate hostile populations. Today we often forget that the Italian peninsula was far from a uniform culture. (And a tour through modern Italy will confirm the persistence of many differences). The process, of course, was not without pain and hard compromises, as Vergil echoes in Aeneid 6 during Anchises’ prophecy to Aeneas (851-3):
tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento
(hae tibi erunt artes), pacique imponere morem,
parcere subiectis et debellare superbos.
“Roman, remember that your arts are to rule
The nations with your empire, to enforce the custom of peace,
To spare the conquered and to subjugate the proud.”
“When it comes to my family, I will do what you report seems right to our friends. Concerning where I am currently, the epidemic is certainly already over and, even though it lasted a while, it didn’t touch me. Plancius, the most dutiful man, longs to keep me with him and detains me here.
I was hoping to stay in some deserted place in Epirus where Piso and his soldiers would never come, but Plancius holds me here. He posts that it will turn out to be possible for him to leave for Italy with me. Should I see that day and return to your embrace and my families and get you and myself back again, I will judge that a great profit of your commitment and mine.”
De familia, quo modo placuisse scribis amicis faciemus. de loco, nunc quidem iam abiit pestilentia, sed quam diu fuit me non attigit. Plancius, homo officiosissimus, me cupit esse secum et adhuc retinet. ego volebam loco magis deserto esse in Epiro, quo neque Piso veniret nec milites, sed adhuc Plancius me retinet; sperat posse fieri ut mecum in Italiam decedat. quem ego diem si videro et si in vestrum complexum venero ac si et vos et me ipsum reciperaro, satis magnum mihi fructum videbor percepisse et vestrae pietatis et meae.
“Someone wouldn’t be wrong in saying that ignorance is a third cause of f*ck-ups. But a law-maker would be better in splitting this cause into two, understanding the simple one as a cause of minor mistakes. The doubled ignorance—when someone who is screwing up is held not only by ignorance but by the belief of wisdom too as if they perfectly understand all the things they know nothing about—is the cause of serious and harmful mistakes when it has power and strength.
But when present in people who are weak, doubled ignorance produces the errors of children and old people. A law-maker will consider these mere mistakes and will make laws accordingly, which will be the most lenient and full of pardon of all.”
“Tyrannos: The poets before the Trojan War used to name kings (basileis) tyrants, but later during the time of Archilochus, this word was transferred to the Greeks in general, just as the sophist Hippias records. Homer, at least, calls the most lawless man of all, Ekhetos, a king, not a tyrant. Tyrant is a a name that derives from the Tyrrenians because these men were quite severe pirates.* None of the other poets uses the name tyrant in any of their works. But Aristotle in the Constitution of the Cumaeans says that tyrants were once called aisumnêtai, because this name is a bit of a euphemism.”
*According to Louise Hitchcock and Aren Maeir (“Yo-ho, Yo-ho: A Seren’s Life For me.” World Archaeology 46:4, 624-640) the Philistines used the word seren to mean leader; this word may have been related to Hittite tarwanis and was possibly circulated by the ‘sea peoples’. Greek tyrannos may have developed from this.
Hesychius: anangkomonarkhos “monarch-by-force”: a tyrant
ἀναγκομόναρχος· ὁ τύραννος
“This is likely formed from Tursennians*. Or it derives from Gyges who was from a Turran city in Lykia, and he was the first one who was a tyrant. Others claim it is from truô [“to distress, wear out, afflict”], that it was truanos and that the rho and nu switched places through pleonasm. Ancients used to use the word Turannos for kings. There was a time when they used a call the tyrant ‘king’.
Chaintraine notes that the etymology of turannos is unclear but that it may be related to Etruscan turan or Hittite tarwana.
“If this one defeats you and proves stronger,
I will send you to the shore, throw you in a black ship,
And ship you off to king Ekhetos, the most wicked man of all.
He will cut off your nose and ears with pitiless bronze
And after severing your balls, he will feed them raw to his dogs.”
Cf. 22.474-477 where Odysseus and Telemachus have this done to the cow-herd, Melanthios:
“They took Melanthios out through the hall and into the courtyard.
They cut off his nose and ears with pitiless bronze.
Then they cut off his balls and fed them raw to the dogs;
And they cut off his hands and feet with an enraged heart.”
This week brings us back to Thebes, one of the central locations for Ancient Greek myth, and likely the second most famous tale of a besieged city from the ancient world. The tale of Seven Against Thebes is part of the Oedipus story, following on from his departure from the city and his cursing of his sons. We have records of a famous epic which told this tale, the lost Thebais, but Aeschylus’ version is our earliest full text dedicated to the struggle between Eteocles and Polyneices. Sophocles and Euripides will provide their own versions of this story, focusing in part on different aspects.
Aeschylus’ account takes us from the anticipation before the battle right up through the conflict over burying the brothers (more well-known from Sophocles’ Antigone). This play was produced in 467 BCE as part of a trilogy dedicated to the family of Oedipus, apparently with a play dedicated to each generation: Laios, Oedipus, and the warring sons. The bulk of this play is the run up to the action, the description of where each of the famous seven fights, and the aftermath.
Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes 287-295
“I care about this, but my heart cannot sleep in fear. Anxiety lives next door To my heart, growing fear About the enemies around my wall Just as a dove shakes all over Afraid of the snakes with evil plans For the children sleeping in their beds.”
Artistic Director: Paul O’Mahony (Out of Chaos Theatre) Associate Director: Liz Fisher Director of Outreach: Amy Pistone (Gonzaga University) Dramaturg: Emma Pauly Executive Producer: Lanah Koelle (Center for Hellenic Studies) Producers: Keith DeStone (Center for Hellenic Studies), Hélène Emeriaud, Janet Ozsolak, and Sarah Scott (Kosmos Society) Poster Artist: John Koelle Poster Designer: Allie Marbry (Center for Hellenic Studies)
“It is just as if the sea is driving on
Waves of troubles. One recedes but another rises
Three times as strong. And it crashes around
The city’s prow.
In between all we have
Is this thin breadth of a wall.”