The Most Musical and Bellicose Men

Pindar, Fragments from Uncertain Places, 199

“Where the plans of the old
And the spears of young men are the best,
Along with the choruses and the Mouse and Aglaia…”

ἔνθα βουλαὶ γερόντων
καὶ νέων ἀνδρῶν ἀριστεύοισιν αἰχμαί,
καὶ χοροὶ καὶ Μοῖσα καὶ ᾿Αγλαΐα

This is quoted by Plutarchin the Life of Lycurgus (21.3) where he says

“For he has composed this about the Spartans, “where the spear of the young flourishes along with the clear-voiced Muse, and wide-wayed justice”

Pindar also says, “where the councils of the old and the spears of the young are the best along with the choruses and the Muse and Aglaia…”

For these lines demonstrate that they are the most musical and the most bellicose people at the same time.”

ὁ μὲν γὰρ οὕτως πεποίηκε περὶ τῶν Λακεδαιμονίων·

῎Ενθ’ αἰχμά τε νέων θάλλει καὶ μοῦσα λίγεια
καὶ δίκα εὐρυάγυια— —

Πίνδαρος δέ φησιν·

῎Ενθα βουλαὶ γερόντων
καὶ νέων ἀνδρῶν ἀριστεύοντι αἰχμαὶ
καὶ χοροὶ καὶ Μοῦσα καὶ ἀγλαΐα.

Μουσικωτάτους γὰρ ἅμα καὶ πολεμικωτάτους ἀποφαίνουσιν αὐτούς

JordanImage from:

Jordan, Borimir. “The Honors for Themistocles after Salamis.” The American Journal of Philology, vol. 109, no. 4, 1988, pp. 547–571. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/295081.

 

Who knows what Pindar poem this may have come from or what the context was–chances are it cannot be taken too seriously considering the on-again-off-again relationship between Sparta and Thebes and the fact that everything Pindar composed has to be understood from the perspective of the goal of the overall poem, to praise someone in particular by praising their country, their family, and their patron gods. (See Elroy Bundy’s Studia Pindarica for the clearest explanation of this.)

Human Sacrifice is Supposed to END Plagues

So, I think we did this wrong…

Clement, First Letter to the Corinthians 55

“Let’s offer some examples from other peoples as well. Many kings and people in charge, have given themselves to death after listening to an oracle, so that they might save their citizens with their own blood. And many private citizens have exiled themselves in order to decrease civil strife.”

Ἵνα δὲ καὶ ὑποδείγματα ἐθνῶν ἐνέγκωμεν· πολλοὶ βασιλεῖς καὶ ἡγούμενοι, λοιμικοῦ τινος ἐνστάντος καιροῦ χρησμοδοτηθέντες παρέδωκαν ἑαυτοὺς εἰς θάνατον, ἵνα ῥύσωνται διὰ τοῦ ἑαυτῶν αἵματος τοὺς πολίτας· πολλοὶ ἐξεχώρησαν ἰδίων πόλεων, ἵνα μὴ στασιάζωσιν ἐπὶ πλεῖον.

Stobaios, Florilegium  3.7.69

“When a plague was afflicting the Spartans because of the murder of the heralds sent by Xerxes—because he demanded earth and water as signs of servitude—they received an oracle that they would be saved if some Spartans would be selected to be killed by the king. Then Boulis and Sperkhis came forward to the king because they believed they were worthy to be sacrificed. Because he was impressed by their bravery he ordered them to go home.”

Τοῦ αὐτοῦ. λοιμοῦ κατασχόντος τὴν Λακεδαίμονα διὰ τὴν ἀναίρεσιν τῶν κηρύκων τῶν ἀπεσταλέντων παρὰ Ξέρξου αἰτοῦντος γῆν καὶ ὕδωρ ὥσπερ ἀπαρχὰς δουλείας, χρησμὸς ἐδόθη ἐπαλλαγήσεσθαι αὐτούς, εἴ γέ τινες ἕλοιντο Λακεδαιμονίων παρὰ τοῦ βασιλέως ἀναιρεθῆναι. τότε Βοῦλις καὶ Σπέρχις ἀφικόμενοι πρὸς βασιλέα ἠξίουν ἀναιρεθῆναι· ὁ δὲ θαυμάσας αὐτῶν τὴν ἀρετὴν ἐπανιέναι προσέταξεν.

Diogenes Laertius, Vitae philosophorum 1.110 [Epimenides]

“Epimenides was known among the Greeks and was thought to be extremely beloved to the gods. For this reason, when the Athenians were once afflicted by a plague and the Pythian oracle prophesied that they should cleanse their city, they sent a ship along with Nikias the son of Nikêratos, summoning Epimenides.

He made it to Athens at the time of the 46th Olympiad [c. 596 BCE] and cleansed the city. He stopped it in the following manner. After obtaining white and black sheep, he led them to the Areopagos and then allowed them to go wherever they wanted there. He ordered the people following them to sacrifice the sheep to whichever god was proper to the place where each sheep laid down.

This is how the plague stopped. For this reason it is still even today possible to find altars without names in certain Athenian neighborhoods as a commemoration of that ancient cleansing. Some people report that Epimenides indicated the pollution from the Kylon scandal as the cause of the plague along with a resolution for it. For this reason, they killed two youths, Kratinos and Ktêsibios and the suffering was relieved.”

(110) γνωσθεὶς δὲ παρὰ τοῖς ῞Ελλησι θεοφιλέστατος εἶναι ὑπελήφθη. ὅθεν καὶ Ἀθηναίοις ποτὲ λοιμῶι κατεχομένοις ἔχρησεν ἡ Πυθία καθῆραι τὴν πόλιν, οἱ δὲ πέμπουσι ναῦν τε καὶ Νικίαν τὸν Νικηράτου εἰς Κρήτην, καλοῦντες τὸν Ἐπιμενίδην. καὶ ὃς ἐλθὼν ὀλυμπιάδι τεσσαρακοστῆι ἕκτηι ἐκάθηρεν αὐτῶν τὴν πόλιν, καὶ ἔπαυσε τὸν λοιμὸν τοῦτον τὸν τρόπον· λαβὼν πρόβατα μέλανά τε καὶ λευκά, ἤγαγεν πρὸς τὸν ῎Αρειον πάγον, κἀκεῖθεν εἴασεν ἰέναι οἷ βούλοιντο, προστάξας τοῖς ἀκολούθοις, ἔνθα ἂν κατακλινῆι αὐτῶν ἕκαστον, θύειν τῶι προσήκοντι θεῶι· καὶ οὕτω λῆξαι τὸ κακόν· ὅθεν ἔτι καὶ νῦν ἔστιν εὺρεῖν κατὰ τοὺς δήμους τῶν Ἀθηναίων βωμοὺς ἀνωνύμους, ὑπόμνημα τῆς τότε γενομενης ἐξιλάσεως. οἱ δὲ τὴν αἰτίαν εἰπεῖν τοῦ λοιμοῦ τὸ Κυλώνειον ἄγος σημαίνειν τε τὴν ἀπαλλαγήν· καὶ διὰ τοῦτο ἀποθανεῖν δύο νεανίας Κρατῖνον καὶ Κτησίβιον, καὶ λυθῆναι τὴν συμφοράν

Ps.-Plutarch, Parallela minora 19A, 310B-C

“Kuanippos, a Syracusan by birth, did not sacrifice to Dionysus alone. In rage over this, the god caused him to become drunk and then he raped his daughter Kuanê in some shadowy place. She took his ring and gave it to her nurse as to be proof of what had happened in the future.

When they were later struck by a plague and Pythian Apollo said that they had to sacrifice the impious person to the Gods-who-Protect, everyone else was uncertain about the oracle. Kuanê understood it. She grabbed her father by the hair and sacrificed herself over him once she’d butchered him on the altar.

That’s the story Dositheos tells in the third book of his Sicilian Tales.

Κυάνιππος γένει Συρακούσιος μόνωι Διονύσωι οὐκ ἔθυεν· ὁ δὲ θεὸς ὀργισθεὶς μέθην ἐνέσκηψε, καὶ ἐν τόπωι σκοτεινῶι τὴν θυγατέρα ἐβιάσατο Κυάνην· ἡ δὲ τὸν δακτύλιον περιελομένη ἔδωκε τῆι τροφῶι ἐσόμενον ἀναγνώρισμα. λοιμωξάντων δὲ, καὶ τοῦ Πυθίου εἰπόντος μὲν δεῖν τὸν ἀσεβῆ <᾽Απο>τροπαίοις θεοῖς σφαγιάσαι, τῶν δ᾽ ἄλλων ἀγνοούντων τὸν χρησμόν, γνοῦσα ἡ Κυάνη καὶ ἐπιλαβομένη τῶν τριχῶν εἷλκε, καὶ αὐτὴ κατασφάξασα τὸν πατέρα ἑαυτὴν ἐπέσφαξε, καθάπερ Δοσίθεος ἐν τῶι τρίτωι Σικελικῶν.

Plague of Athens - Wikipedia
The Plague of Athens, Michiel Sweerts, c. 1652–1654

Hesiod, Works and Days 240-247

“The whole state often suffers because of a wicked man
Who transgresses the gods and devises reckless deeds.
Kronos’ son rains down great pain on them from heaven:
Famine and plague and the people start to perish.
[Women don’t give birth and households waste away
Thanks to the vengeance of Olympian Zeus.] And at other times
Kronos’ son ruins their great army or their wall
Or he destroys their ships on the the sea.”

πολλάκι καὶ ξύμπασα πόλις κακοῦ ἀνδρὸς ἀπηύρα,
ὅστις ἀλιτραίνῃ καὶ ἀτάσθαλα μηχανάαται.
τοῖσιν δ’ οὐρανόθεν μέγ’ ἐπήγαγε πῆμα Κρονίων,
λιμὸν ὁμοῦ καὶ λοιμόν, ἀποφθινύθουσι δὲ λαοί·
[οὐδὲ γυναῖκες τίκτουσιν, μινύθουσι δὲ οἶκοι
Ζηνὸς φραδμοσύνῃσιν ᾿Ολυμπίου· ἄλλοτε δ’ αὖτε]
ἢ τῶν γε στρατὸν εὐρὺν ἀπώλεσεν ἢ ὅ γε τεῖχος
ἢ νέας ἐν πόντῳ Κρονίδης ἀποτείνυται αὐτῶν.

 

Some other cures:

Diogenes Laertius, Empedocles 8.70

“When a plague struck the Selinuntians thanks to the pollution from a nearby river causing people to die and the women to miscarry, Empedocles recognized the problem and turned two local rivers at his own expense. They sweetened the streams by mixing in with them.

Once the plague was stopped in this way, Empedocles appeared while the Selinuntines were having a feast next to the river. They rose and bowed before him, praying to him as if he were a god. He threw himself into a fire because he wanted to test the truth of his divinity.”

τοῖς Σελινουντίοις ἐμπεσόντος λοιμοῦ διὰ τὰς ἀπὸ τοῦ παρακειμένου ποταμοῦ δυσωδίας, ὥστε καὶ αὐτοὺς φθείρεσθαι καὶ τὰς γυναῖκας δυστοκεῖν, ἐπινοῆσαι τὸν Ἐμπεδοκλέα καὶ δύο τινὰς ποταμοὺς τῶν σύνεγγυς ἐπαγαγεῖν ἰδίαις δαπάναις· καὶ καταμίξαντα γλυκῆναι τὰ ῥεύματα. οὕτω δὴ λήξαντος τοῦ λοιμοῦ καὶ τῶν Σελινουντίων εὐωχουμένων ποτὲ παρὰ τῷ ποταμῷ, ἐπιφανῆναι τὸν Ἐμπεδοκλέα· τοὺς δ’ ἐξαναστάντας προσκυνεῖν καὶ προσεύχεσθαι καθαπερεὶ θεῷ. ταύτην οὖν θέλοντα βεβαιῶσαι τὴν διάληψιν εἰς τὸ πῦρ ἐναλέσθαι.

Historia Augusta, Elagabalus 4, 5

“He had banquet and bedroom furniture made from silver. He often ate camel-heels and cock’s combs removed from birds who were still alive to imitate Apicius, as well as the tongues of peacocks and nightingales because it was said that whoever ate them was safe from the plague.

He also gave the the Palace visitors enormous serving dishes piled with the innards of mullets, flamingo-brains, partridge eggs, the brains of thrushes, and the whole heads of parrots, pheasants, and peacocks.”

Hic solido argento factos habuit lectos et tricliniares et cubiculares. comedit saepius ad imitationem Apicii calcanea camelorum et cristas vivis gallinaceis demptas, linguas pavonum et lusciniarum, quod qui ederet a pestilentia tutus diceretur. exhibuit et Palatinis lances ingentes extis mullorum refertas et cerebellis phoenicopterum et perdicum ovis et cerebellis turdorum et capitibus psittacorum et phasianorum et pavonum.

Beautiful Mirrors of Beautiful Things

Plutarch, Moralia Dialogue on Love 765 a-b

“When we are sent back there, love does not come near our soul through its own devising but through the body. Just so, teachers of geometry, when their students are not yet capable of comprehending thoughts of the incorporeal or the concepts of immutable essence, they make shapes, manipulable and visible representations of spheres, cubes, and dodecahedrons to give them. In this way, heavenly love creates beautiful mirrors of the beautiful things, mortal versions of the divine, changeable manifestations of the unchanging, and merely sensible representations of pure thought.

By creating these things in the shape and color and image of the beautiful people in their youth, Love moves our memory carefully, and it is kindled first by these things.”

Ἐνταῦθα δὲ πάλιν πεμπομένων αὐτῇ μὲν οὐ πλησιάζει ψυχῇ καθ᾿ ἑαυτήν, ἀλλὰ διὰ σώματος. ὡς δὲ γεωμέτραι παισὶν οὔπω δυναμένοις ἐφ᾿ ἑαυτῶν τὰ νοητὰ μυηθῆναι τῆς ἀσωμάτου καὶ ἀπαθοῦς οὐσίας εἴδη πλάττοντες ἁπτὰ καὶ ὁρατὰ μιμήματα σφαιρῶν καὶ κύβων καὶ δωδεκαέδρων προτείνουσιν· οὕτως ἡμῖν ὁ οὐράνιος Ἔρως ἔσοπτρα καλῶν καλά, θνητὰ μέντοι θείων καὶ ἀπαθῶν παθητὰ καὶ νοητῶν αἰσθητὰ μηχανώμενος ἔν τε σχήμασι καὶ χρώμασι καὶ εἴδεσι νέων ὥρᾳ στίλβοντα δείκνυσι καὶ κινεῖ τὴν μνήμην ἀτρέμα διὰ τούτων ἀναφλεγομένην τὸ πρῶτον.

an Etruscan Mirror and the Dallas Museum of Art

Our Ghosts Are Mirrors of What We Were

From Porphyry’s on Styx [Fragments preserved in Stobaeus 1.49.50]

“The notion explored is that the souls [of the dead] are like images which appear in mirrors or those on the surface of water which appear to resemble us completely and imitate our movements but have no solid matter for grasping or touching. This is why he calls them “images of exhausted men” (11.476).”

῾Υποτίθεται γὰρ τὰς ψυχὰς τοῖς εἰδώλοις τοῖς ἐν τοῖς κατόπτροις φαινομένοις ὁμοίας καὶ τοῖς διὰ τῶν ὑδάτων συνισταμένοις, ἃ καθάπαξ ἡμῖν ἐξείκασται καὶ τὰς κινήσεις μιμεῖται, στερεμνιώδη δ’ ὑπόστασιν οὐδεμίαν ἔχει εἰς ἀντίληψιν καὶ ἁφήν· ὅθεν αὐτὰς ‘βροτῶν εἴδωλα καμόντων’ (λ 476) λέγει.”

From Porphyry’s comments on Kirkê and the transformation of the soul (Stobaeus, 1.49.60.48):

“These things are no longer myth and poetry, but the truth and an account of nature.”

Καὶ οὐκέτι ταῦτα μῦθος οὐδὲ ποίησις, ἀλλὰ ἀλήθεια καὶ φυσικὸς λόγος.

This makes me think of stories as ghosts of deeds:

Euripides, fr. 532

“Do good while people are alive; when each man dies
He is earth and shadow. What is nothing changes nothing.”

τοὺς ζῶντας εὖ δρᾶν· κατθανὼν δὲ πᾶς ἀνὴρ
γῆ καὶ σκιά· τὸ μηδὲν εἰς οὐδὲν ῥέπει.

fr. 509

“What else? An old man is voice and shadow.”

τί δ’ ἄλλο; φωνὴ καὶ σκιὰ γέρων ἀνήρ.

Tragic Adesp. Fr. 95

“I want to advise all mortals
To live our brief life sweetly. For after you die,
You are nothing more than a shadow over the earth.”

πᾶσιν δὲ θνητοῖς βούλομαι παραινέσαι
τοὐφήμερον ζῆν ἡδέως· ὁ γὰρ θανὼν
τὸ μηδέν ἐστι καὶ σκιὰ κατὰ χθονός·

This connects to a repeated idea from classical Greek poetry:

Aeschylus, fr. 399.1-2

“Humanity thinks only about temporary seeds,
Its pledge is nothing more than the shadow of smoke”

τὸ γὰρ βρότειον σπέρμ’ ἐφήμερα φρονεῖ,
καὶ πιστὸν οὐδὲν μᾶλλον ἢ καπνοῦ σκιά

Sophocles, fr. 13.

“A person is only breath and shadow.”

ἄνθρωπός ἐστι πνεῦμα καὶ σκιὰ μόνον

Pindar, Pythian 8.95

“Alive for a day: What is a person? What is not a person? Man is a dream of a shadow”

ἐπάμεροι· τί δέ τις; τί δ’ οὔ τις; σκιᾶς ὄναρ

 

Democritus, fr. B145

“A story is the shadow of the deed”

λόγος ἔργου σκιή

 

Arsenius, 6.33a

“The shadow of Doiduks”: A proverb applied to nothing.”

Δοίδυκος σκιά: ἐπὶ τοῦ μηδενός.

 

Michael Apostolios, 5.74

“Shadow instead of a body”: A Proverb applied to those who seem strong but have no power.”

Σκιὰ ἀντὶ τοῦ σώματος: ἐπὶ τῶν δοκούντων κρα-
τεῖν τι, οὐδὲν δ’ ὅμως κρατούντων.

Image result for Ancient Greek burial sites

 

A Solid Gold Colossus: Why Tyrants Spend Other Peoples’ Money

Suda,  Κυψελιδῶν ἀνάθημα

At Olympia. Plato claims in the Phaedrus that a metal Colossos was set up next to the dedication of the Kypselids at Olympia. But they claim that this from Kypselos himself and not the Kypselids. Agaklutos speaks about this in his On Olympia. “An ancient temple of Hera, dedicated by the Skillians. Those people are Eleians. Inside the temple is a gold colossus, a dedication from Kypselos of Korinth. For people say that Kypselos promised that if he should become tyrant of the Korinthians, then he would make everyone’s property sacred for ten years. Once he collected the taxes from this sacred assessment, he had the metal colossus created.”

Didymos, however, reports that Periander, his son, had the colossus made to restrain the luxury and audacity of the Korinthians. Theophrastus also reports in the second book of his Magic Moments, “while others spend funds on more masculine affairs, like raising an army and conquering enemies, as Dionysius the tyrant did. For he believed that it was necessary not only to waste others’ money but also his own in order to make sure that there would be no funds for plots against him. The pyramids of Egypt and the colossus of the Kypselids and all those kinds of things have similar or identical designs.

It is also reported that there was an an epigram on the colossus: “If I am not a colossus made of gold / then may the race of the Kypselids be wiped away.”

Apellas of Pontos, however, claims that he inscription was, “If I am not a solid-cold Colossus, may the race of Kypselids be completely destroyed”

ἐν ᾽Ολυμπίαι. Πλάτων ἐν Φαίδρωι (236 B)· παρὰ τὸ Κυψελιδῶν ἀνάθημα σφυρήλατος ἐν ᾽Ολυμπίαι ἐστάθη κολοσσός. ἀλλ᾽ οὐ τῶν Κυψελιδῶν, Κυψέλου δέ φασι τὸ ἀνάθημα, ὡς ᾽Αγάκλυτος ἐν τῶι Περὶ ᾽Ολυμπίας φησὶν οὕτως· «ναὸς τῆς ῞Ηρας παλαιός, ἀνάθημα Σκιλλουντίων· οὗτοι δέ εἰσιν ᾽Ηλείων. ἔνεστι δὲ ἐν αὐτῶι χρυσοῦς κολοσσός, ἀνάθημα Κυψέλου τοῦ Κορινθίου· φασὶ γὰρ τὸν Κύψελον εὐξάμενον, εἰ Κορινθίων τυραννεύσειε, τὰς οὐσίας πάντων εἰς δέκατον ἔτος ἀνιερώσειν, τὰς δεκάτας τῶν τιμημάτων εἰσπραξάμενον, κατασκευάσαι τὸν σφυρήλατον κολοσσόν».

Δίδυμος δὲ κατασκευάσαι τὸν κολοσσόν φησι Περίανδρον ὑπὲρ τοῦ τῆς τρυφῆς καὶ τοῦ θράσους ἐπισχεῖν τοὺς Κορινθίους· καὶ γὰρ Θεόφραστος ἐν τῶι Περὶ καιρῶν β̄ λέγει οὕτω· «ἕτεροι δὲ εἰς ἀνδρωδέστερα καταδαπανῶντες, οἷον στρατείας ἐξάγοντες καὶ πολέμους ἐπαναιρούμενοι, καθάπερ καὶ Διονύσιος ὁ τύραννος· ἐκεῖνος γὰρ οὐ μόνον ὤιετο δεῖν τὰ τῶν ἄλλων καταναλίσκειν ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰ αὑτοῦ πρὸς τὸ μὴ ὑπάρχειν ἐφόδια τοῖς ἐπιβουλεύουσιν· ἐοίκασι δὲ καὶ αἱ πυραμίδες ἐν Αἰγύπτωι καὶ ὁ τῶν Κυψελιδῶν κολοσσὸς καὶ πάντα τὰ τοιαῦτα τὴν αὐτὴν καὶ παραπλησίαν ἔχειν διάνοιαν».

φέρεται δέ τι καὶ ἐπίγραμμα τοῦ κολοσσοῦ· «εἰ μὴ ἐγὼ χρυσοῦς σφυρήλατός εἰμι κολοσσός, / ἐξώλης εἴη Κυψελιδῶν γενεά», ὅπερ ᾽Απελλᾶς ὁ Ποντικὸς οὕτω προφέρεται· «εἰ μὴ ἐγὼ ναξὸς παγχρύσεός εἰμι κολοσσός, / ἐξώλης εἴη Κυψελιδῶν γενεά».

Publication1

From Martial, 1.37

“Bassus, you unload your bowels into a golden bowl and feel no shame, but you drink from glass: so you’re paying more to shit.”

Ventris onus misero, nec te pudet, excipis auro,
Basse, bibis vitro: carius ergo cacas.

Only Zeus is Free: Reading Aeschylus’ “Prometheus Bound” Online

 

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 609-612 (Full text on Scaife Viewer)

“I will tell you everything clearly that you need to learn,
Without interweaving riddles, in a direct speech,
The right way to open one’s mouth to friends.
You see Prometheus, the one who gave mortals fire.”

λέξω τορῶς σοι πᾶν ὅπερ χρήζεις μαθεῖν,
οὐκ ἐμπλέκων αἰνίγματ᾿, ἀλλ᾿ ἁπλῷ λόγῳ,
ὥσπερ δίκαιον πρὸς φίλους οἴγειν στόμα.
πυρὸς βροτοῖς δοτῆρ᾿ ὁρᾷς Προμηθέα.

RGTO.Prometheus.poster-01-1

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 144-151

“I see you, Prometheus. Fear falls like a mist
Over my eyes full of tears
As I witness you bound to this rock
By these unbreakable offensive chains.
There are new leaders ruling Olympos,
Zeus rules without sense over new-cut laws.
He renders unknown what stood out before.”

λεύσσω, Προμηθεῦ· φοβερὰ δ᾿ ἐμοῖσιν ὄσσοις
ὀμίχλα προσῇξε πλήρης
δακρύων σὸν δέμας εἰσιδούσᾳ
πέτρᾳ προσαυαινόμενον
ταῖσδ᾿ ἀδαμαντοδέτοισι λύμαις.
νέοι γὰρ οἰακονόμοι κρατοῦσ᾿ Ὀλύμπου,
νεοχμοῖς δὲ δὴ νόμοις Ζεὺς ἀθέτως κρατύνει·
τὰ πρὶν δὲ πελώρια νῦν ἀϊστοῖ.

The Center for Hellenic Studies , the Kosmos Society and Out of Chaos Theatre has been presenting scenes from Greek tragedy on the ‘small screen’ with discussion and interpretation during our time of isolation and social distancing. As Paul O’Mahony, whose idea this whole thing was said in an earlier blog post, Since we are “unable to explore the outside world, we have no option but to explore further the inner one.

Each week we select scenes from a play, actors and experts from around the world, and put them all together for 90 minutes or so to see what will happen. This process is therapeutic for us; and it helps us think about how tragedy may have had similar functions in the ancient world as well.

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 178-187

“…you are bold and bowing
To nothing despite these terrible pains—
And you are too free with your mouth!
A sharp fear pricks at my thoughts
And I worry over your fate,
Where will you ever go to find and end to these toils?
For Kronos’ son has unchangeable ways
And a heart never to be persuaded.”

σὺ μὲν θρασύς τε καὶ πικραῖς
δύαισιν οὐδὲν ἐπιχαλᾷς,
ἄγαν δ᾿ ἐλευθεροστομεῖς.
ἐμᾶς δὲ φρένας ἠρέθισε διάτορος φόβος,
δέδια δ᾿ ἀμφὶ σαῖς τύχαις,
ποῖ ποτε τῶνδε πόνων χρή σε τέρμα κέλσαντ᾿
ἐσιδεῖν· ἀκίχητα γὰρ ἤθεα καὶ κέαρ
ἀπαράμυθον ἔχει Κρόνου παῖς.

This week we turn to Aeschylus Prometheus Bound, a play said to have been part of a trilogy which included the now lost Prometheus Unbound and Prometheus Fire-Bearer. The play as been long attributed to Aeschylus as either late or early in his life based on its style, while for the past two centuries there have been questions based on the content (is this play too hard on Zeus?) and the form (based on uses of meter and language). The play has been attributed to Aeschylus’ son Euphorion and has been dated as early as the 480s and as late as 430.

The play’s use of myth and its exploration of justice and rather problematic Zeus makes it difficult to contextualize in Athens whether it is by Aeschylus or another. The Zeus of Prometheus is a tyrant and its eponymous character his apostate: the play’s tension comes from the interplay between his knowledge and the audience’s and the way his motivations are revealed through his conversations with characters like Okeanos, Io, and Hermes. Indeed, there is so much unclear about this play, that any given performance can radically change what we think about it. And this play hinges on our changing responses to Prometheus and his cherished knowledge.

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 263-267

“It is simple when someone is out of trouble’s way
To advise and criticize someone who is doing badly.
I knew all of these things. All of them.
I willingly, willfully, made my mistake—I will not deny it.
By helping people I created troubles for myself.”

λαφρόν, ὅστις πημάτων ἔξω πόδα
ἔχει, παραινεῖν νουθετεῖν τε τὸν κακῶς
πράσσοντ᾿. ἐγὼ δὲ ταῦθ᾿ ἅπαντ᾿ ἠπιστάμην.
ἑκὼν ἑκὼν ἥμαρτον, οὐκ ἀρνήσομαι·
θνητοῖς ἀρήγων αὐτὸς ηὑρόμην πόνους.

Scenes (from the Elizabeth Barrett Browning translation)

Scene 1 – Strength and Hephaestus
Scene 2 – Io, Chorus, Prometheus
Scene 3 – Prometheus, Hermes, Chorus

 

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 447-450

“At first, though they looked, they saw nothing,
While they listened, they did not hear, but they lived
Mixing everything up, like people in dreams…”

οἳ πρῶτα μὲν βλέποντες ἔβλεπον μάτην,
κλύοντες οὐκ ἤκουον, ἀλλ᾿ ὀνειράτων
ἀλίγκιοι μορφαῖσι τὸν μακρὸν βίον
ἔφυρον εἰκῇ πάντα…

Actors

Kareem Badr
Sarah-Marie Curry
Tim Delap
Ronan Melomo
Evelyn Miller
Paul O’Mahony

Special Guest: Joshua Billings

Dramaturgical assistance: Emma Pauly

Direction: Paul O’Mahony

Posters: John Koelle

Technical, Moral, Administrative Support: Lanah Koelle, Allie Mabry, Janet Ozsolak, Helene Emeriaud, Sarah Scott, Keith DeStone

Upcoming Readings (Go here for the project page)

Euripides, Andromache, July 8

Aristophanes, Clouds, July 15

Euripides, Alcestis, July 22

472-475

“Because you have suffered incurable pain, you’re
Going out of your mind, like a poor doctor fallen ill
you are depressed and you have no way to uncover
Any kind of medicine to use as a cure.”

ᾀκὲς πεπονθὼς πῆμ᾿ ἀποσφαλεὶς φρενῶν
πλανᾷ· κακὸς δ᾿ ἰατρὸς ὥς τις εἰς νόσον
πεσὼν ἀθυμεῖς καὶ σεαυτὸν οὐκ ἔχεις
εὑρεῖν ὁποίοις φαρμάκοις ἰάσιμος.

 

Videos of Earlier Sessions (Go here for the project page)
Euripides’ Helen, March 25th
Sophocles’ Philoktetes, April 1st
Euripides’ Herakles, April 8th
Euripides’ Bacchae, April 15th
Euripides’ Iphigenia , April 22nd
Sophocles, Trachinian Women, April 29th
Euripides, Orestes May 6th
Aeschylus, Persians, May 13th
Euripides, Trojan Women May 20th
Sophocles’ Ajax, May 27th
Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannos, June 10th

 

Euripides, Ion,  June 17th

Euripides, Hecuba June 24th

391

“Prometheus, your sufferings are my teacher”

ἡ σή, Προμηθεῦ, ξυμφορὰ διδάσκαλος.

Milking the He-Goat: The Only Proverb You Need Today

Polybius, Book 33 16a fragmenta incertae sedis (Full text on the Scaife viewer)

“20. As soon as the masses are compelled to love or hate people excessively, every excuse is sufficient for them to complete their plans.

21 But I worry that I might overlook the fact that the oft-cited saying applies to me: “who is the greater fool, the one who milks a male-goat or the one who holds the bucket* to catch it?”

For, I also seem, in reporting what is agreed upon as a lie and in dragging out the process to do something very similar. For this reason, it is pointless to talk about these things, unless someone also wants to write down dreams and examine the fantasies of someone who is awake.”

*koskinos here actually means “sieve”, which makes the whole process even more futile. I simplified to “bucket” to make it easier to understand…

20. Ὅτι ὅταν ἅπαξ οἱ πολλοὶ σχῶσιν ὁρμὴν πρὸς τὸ φιλεῖν ἢ μισεῖν τινας ὑπερβαλλόντως, πᾶσα πρόφασις ἱκανὴ γίνεται πρὸς τὸ συντελεῖν τὰς αὑτῶν προθέσεις.

21. Ἀλλὰ γὰρ ὀκνῶ μή ποτ᾿ εἰς τὸ περιφερόμενον ἐμπεσὼν λάθω, πότερον ὁ τὸν τράγον ἀμέλγων ἀφρονέστερος ἢ ὁ τὸ κόσκινον ὑπέχων· δοκῶ γὰρ δὴ κἀγὼ πρὸς ὁμολογουμένην ψευδολογίαν ἀκριβολογούμενος καὶ τὸν ἐπιμετροῦντα λόγον εἰσφέρων παραπλήσιόν τι ποιεῖν. διὸ καὶ μάτην τελέως περὶ τούτων λέγειν, εἰ μή τις καὶ γράφειν ἐνύπνια βούλεται καὶ θεωρεῖν ἐγρηγορότος ἐνύπνια.

Diogenianus writes on this proverb (Centuria 95.3; Cf. Mantissa Proverb., 2.68)

“Who is the greater fool, the one who milks a male-goat or the one who holds the bucket to catch it? You should say the [one who milks] the male-goat”

Πότερον ὁ τὸν τράγον ἀμέλγων ἀφρονέστερος, ἢ ὁ τὸ κόσκινον ὑποτιθείς; εἴποις, ὁ τὸν τράγον:

Arsenius, Centuria 17 41a7

“To milk a he-goat”: this is applied to those who do something incongruous and ignorant. From this we also get the saying from Diogenianus: “Who is the greater fool, the one who milks a male-goat or the one who holds the bucket to catch it?”

“Τράγον ἀμέλγειν: ἐπὶ τῶν ἀνάρμοστόν τι ποιούντων καὶ ἀνόητον. ὅθεν καὶ Διογενιανός· πότερον ὁ τὸν τράγον ἀμέλγων ἢ ὁ τὸ κόσκινον ὑποτιθεὶς ἀφρονέστερος;

From Medieval Bestiary: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, lat. 6838B, Folio 15r

Only Bad Dudes Want Statues in the First Place

Plutarch, Precepts of Statecraft  820b (Full text on the Scaife viewer)

“Cato, since Rome was then already getting full of statues, would not allow one of himself. He said, “I would rather have people ask why there isn’t a statue of me rather than why there is one.” Indeed, these kinds of things do create envy and many believe that they owe gratitude to people who have not received them but that those who have taken them have oppressed them, as when people ask for payment for something they have done.

So, just as a person who has sailed passed the Syrtis and overturned his ship right near the channel has done nothing great nor worthy of awe, so to the man who has served in the treasury and guarded the public coffers but has done a poor job in other offices finds himself wrecked on a cliff near the sea. No, the best person is one who doesn’t want any of these kinds of things, avoiding and refusing them when needed.”

ὁ δὲ Κάτων, ἤδη τότε τῆς Ῥώμης καταπιμπλαμένης ἀνδριάντων, οὐκ ἐῶν αὑτοῦ γενέσθαι “μᾶλλον,”ἔφη, “βούλομαι πυνθάνεσθαί τινας, διὰ τί μου ἀνδριὰς οὐ κεῖται ἢ διὰ τί κεῖται.” καὶ γὰρ φθόνον ἔχει τὰ τοιαῦτα καὶ νομίζουσιν οἱ πολλοὶ τοῖς μὴ λαβοῦσιν αὐτοὶ χάριν ὀφείλειν, τοὺς δὲ λαβόντας αὑτοῖς καὶ βαρεῖς εἶναι, οἷον ἐπὶ μισθῷ τὰς χρείας ἀπαιτοῦντας. ὥσπερ οὖν ὁ παραπλεύσας τὴν Σύρτιν εἶτ᾿ ἀνατραπεὶς περὶ τὸν πορθμὸν οὐδὲν μέγα πεποίηκεν οὐδὲ σεμνόν, οὕτως ὁ τὸ ταμιεῖον φυλαξάμενος καὶ τὸ δημοσιώνιον ἁλοὺς δὲ περὶ τὴν προεδρίαν ἢ τὸ πρυτανεῖον, ὑψηλῷ μὲν προσέπταικεν ἀκρωτηρίῳ βαπτίζεται δ᾿ ὁμοίως. ἄριστος μὲν οὖν ὁ μηδενὸς δεόμενος τῶν τοιούτων ἀλλὰ φεύγων καὶ παραιτούμενος·

Marcus Porcius Cato

Gratitude for a Recovery

Greek Anthology 6.300, Leonidas [Lathria = Aphrodite]

“Lathrian, please take this from the wanderer, the pauper,
The man of little flour, Leonidas, as thanks:
Moist cakes of barely and well-stored olive oil,
Along with this green fig straight from the tree.
Lady, take these five grapes from a cluster good for wine
And this final libation from the bottom of the cup.
And if you save me from hateful poverty as you saved me
From sickness, expect a young goat too.”

Λαθρίη, ἐκ πλανίου ταύτην χάριν ἔκ τε πενέστεω
κἠξ ὀλιγησιπύου δέξο Λεωνίδεω,
ψαιστά τε πιήεντα καὶ εὐθήσαυρον ἐλαίην,
καὶ τοῦτο χλωρὸν σῦκον ἀποκράδιον,
κεὐοίνου σταφυλῆς ἔχ᾿ ἀποσπάδα πεντάρραγον,
πότνια, καὶ σπονδὴν τήνδ᾿ ὑποπυθμίδιον.
ἢν δέ μέ γ᾿, ὡς ἐκ νούσου ἀνειρύσω, ὧδε καὶ ἐχθρῆς
ἐκ πενίης ῥύσῃ, δέξο χιμαιροθύτην.

File:Greek - Oinochoe in the Camirus, or "Wild Goat" Style - Walters 482108 - Detail.jpg
“Wild Goat Style”

Cometas Scholasticus, Greek Anthology 9.597

“I was struck immobile from my hips to the bottom of my feet
Completely denied my life’s work for so long,
Halfway between life and death, Hades’ neighbor,
Merely breathing, but a corpse in every other way.
But wise Philippos, whom you view in the picture,
Brought me back to life by healing the dread disease.
And Antoninus walks on the earth again as before!
I tread on it with my feet and I feel whole.”

Νωθρὸς ἐγὼ τελέθεσκον ἀπ᾿ ἰξύος ἐς πόδας ἄκρους
τῆς πρὶν ἐνεργείης δηρὸν ἀτεμβόμενος,
ζωῆς καὶ θανάτοιο μεταίχμιον, Ἄϊδι γείτων,
μοῦνον ἀναπνείων, τἄλλα δὲ πάντα νέκυς.
ἀλλὰ σοφός με Φίλιππος, ὃν ἐν γραφίδεσσι δοκεύεις,
ζώγρησεν, κρυερὴν νοῦσον ἀκεσσάμενος·
αὖθις δ᾿ Ἀντωνῖνος, ἅπερ πάρος, ἐν χθονὶ βαίνω:
καὶ ποσὶ πεζεύω, καὶ ὅλος αἰσθάνομαι.

Spit it Out: Expectoration for Your Special Occasion

Remember last year when someone spitting at people was major news?

 

Demosthenes, De Corona 200

“Who wouldn’t have spat in your face?”

τίς οὐχὶ κατέπτυσεν ἂν σοῦ;

 

Tertullian, Apologeticus 8-9

“The Attic sex-worker, once the torturer was finally worn out, chewed threw her own tongue and spat it out at the face of the angry tyrant—that is, she spat out her voice too so that she would not be able to expose her conspirators if she was overcome…”

Attica meretrix carnifice iam fatigato postremo linguam suam comesam in faciem tyranni saevientis exspuit, ut exspueret et vocem, ne coniuratos confiteri posset, si etiam victa voluisset.

 

Plutarch, Moralia 1088b

“Metrodoros says ‘I have often spat on the pleasures of the flesh.’ ”

Μητρόδωρος μὲν λέγων ὅτι ‘πολλάκις προσεπτύσαμεν ταῖς τοῦ σώματος ἡδοναῖς,’

 

Nossis, Greek Anthology 5.170

“Nothing is sweeter than sex. All blessings are second to this.
I spat even honey from my mouth.”

Ἅδιον οὐδὲν ἔρωτος· ἃ δ᾽ ὄλβια, δεύτερα πάντα
ἐστίν· ἀπὸ στόματος δ᾽ ἔπτυσα καὶ τὸ μέλι.

LSJ 1902

Spit LSJ

Pseudo-Lucian, Lucius or the Ass

“But when she saw that I was wholly human, she spat at me, saying “Won’t you fuck off from me and my house and only sleep somewhere far away?”

ἡ δὲ ἐπειδὴ εἶδέ με πάντα ἀνθρώπινα ἔχοντα, προσπτύσασά μοι, Οὐ φθερῇ ἀπ᾿ ἐμοῦ, ἔφη, καὶ τῆς ἐμῆς οἰκίας καὶ μακράν ποι ἀπελθὼν κοιμήσῃ;

 

Plutarch, Phocion 36

“One of them came right up to him and spat at him.”

εἷς δὲ καὶ προσέπτυσεν ἐξεναντίας προσελθών.

Beekes 2010

SPIT Beekes

Select Papyri, P Gurob. 2

“Woman, you were at that place with Kallipos…and you were insulting me, claiming that I had said to certain people that…When I was insulting you in turn, you spat on me….and took my collar…so I am suing you for assault for 200 drachmae.”

, παρα]γενομένη εἰς τὸν τόπον τοῦτον μετὰ Καλλίππου τοῦ . . . . . . . . . αν . . . . . ου ἐλοιδόρησας φαμένη με εἰρηκέναι πρός τινας δι[ότι – – -] γυναῖκα, ἐμοῦ δέ σε ἀντιλοιδοροῦντος οὕτως ἔπτυσας [- – -] καὶ λαβομέ[νη μ]ου τῆς ἀναβολῆς τοῦ ἱματίου – – – διὸ δικάζομαί σοι κατα-27[. . . . . . . . . . . . ὕ]βριν (δραχμῶν) σ. τίμημα τῆς δίκης (δραχμαὶ) [.

Diogenes Laertius, Aristippos 2.8

“When someone was criticizing him for spending too much on meals, he said “Wouldn’t you have purchased the same for three obols?” When the man said he would, Aristippos said, “Ok, I am not a hedonist; you are a money-grubber.”

At a different time, Simos, who was Dionysius’ steward, a Phrygian and a nasty fellow too, was showing him expensive houses with fine tile work. When Aristippos coughed and spat in his face and he resented it, the man replied, “I didn’t have any more appropriate a place.”

τὸν ὀνειδίσαντα αὐτῷ πολυτελῆ ὀψωνίαν ἔφη, “σὺ δ᾿ οὐκ ἂν τριωβόλου ταῦτ᾿ ἐπρίω;” ὁμολογήσαντος δέ, “οὐκέτι τοίνυν,” ἔφη, “φιλήδονος ἐγώ, ἀλλὰ σὺ φιλάργυρος.” Σίμου ποτὲ τοῦ Διονυσίου ταμίου πολυτελεῖς οἴκους αὐτῷ καὶ λιθοστρώτους δεικνύντος—ἦν δὲ Φρὺξ καὶ ὄλεθρος—ἀναχρεμψάμενος προσέπτυσε τῇ ὄψει· τοῦ δ᾿ ἀγανακτήσαντος, “οὐκ εἶχον,” εἶπε, “τόπον ἐπιτηδειότερον.

Diogenes Laertius, Anaxarchus 9.10

“He never forgot the slight. After the king’s death when Anaxarchus was sailing and was forced to land on Cyprus, Nicocreon had him arrested and placed him on a mortar, ordering that he be pounded to death with iron pestles.

But he, not giving a shit about the punishment, uttered that famous saying, “You pound the bag of Anaxarchus but you do not pound Anaxarchus.” When Nicocreon ordered his tongue to be cut off, the story is that he bit it off and spat it at him.”

ὁ δὲ μνησικακήσας μετὰ τὴν τελευτὴν τοῦ βασιλέως ὅτε πλέων ἀκουσίως προσηνέχθη τῇ Κύπρῳ ὁ Ἀνάξαρχος, συλλαβὼν αὐτὸν καὶ εἰς ὅλμον βαλὼν ἐκέλευσε τύπτεσθαι σιδηροῖς ὑπέροις. τὸν δ᾿ οὐ φροντίσαντα τῆς τιμωρίας εἰπεῖν ἐκεῖνο δὴ τὸ περιφερόμενον, “πτίσσε τὸν Ἀναξάρχου θύλακον, Ἀνάξαρχον δὲ οὐ πτίσσεις.” κελεύσαντος δὲ τοῦ Νικοκρέοντος καὶ τὴν γλῶτταν αὐτοῦ ἐκτμηθῆναι, λόγος ἀποτραγόντα προσπτύσαι αὐτῷ.