Writing about the Cause of Madness

Pseudo-Hippocrates. Epist. 17 9.352, 354, 356 

“When I [Hippocrates] was near [Democritus], he happened to be writing something eagerly and forcefully when I arrived. So I said. “First, tell me what you are writing about.” And, after he paused for a bit, said “madness.”

So I said, “But what are you writing about madness?” He responded, “What would I write except what it may be, how it afflicts human beings, and in what way it may be treated. This is why,” he continued, “I cut up all these animals you are looking at. It is not because I hate god’s works, but because I am researching the nature and the function of the bile.

For you know that the bile is the cause of madness in humans most of the time, since it appears naturally in most people, even though some have less of it and others have more. Illnesses emerge from an unbalanced amount, implying that the material is sometimes helpful and sometimes harmful.”

I added, “By Zeus, Democritus, you are speaking truthfully and prudently and this is why I think you are blessed for having achieving such a sense of peace. This has certainly not been allotted to me.”

Then he asked, “Why, Hippocrates, has it not?” I responded, “Because fields, my home, children, debts, illnesses, deaths, servants, marriages and all these kinds of things cut off any chance for it.”

At this, that man fell into his customary behavior—he laughed deeply and mocked me and then was silent for the rest of the time.”

ἐπεὶ δὲ ἐπλησίαζον, ἔτυχεν ὅτε ἐπῆλθον αὐτέῳ, τι1 δή ποτε γράφων ἐνθουσιωδῶς καὶ μεθ’ ὁρμῆς. [. . .]

[ΙΠ.] “καὶ πρῶτόν γε τί τοῦτο τυγχάνεις γράφων φράζε.” [. . .]

ὁ δ᾽ ἐπισχὼν ὀλίγον, “περὶ μανίης,” ἔφη. [. . .]

[ΙΠ.] “ἀλλὰ τί περὶ μανίης γράφεις;”

“τί γάρ,” εἶπεν, “ἄλλο, πλὴν ἥτις τε εἴη, καὶ ὅκως ἀνθρώποισιν ἐγγίνεται, καὶ τίνα τρόπον ἀπολωφέοιτο· τά τε γὰρ ζῷα ταῦτα ὁκόσα, ἔφη, ὁρῇς, τουτέου μέντοι γε ἀνατέμνω εἵνεκα, οὐ μισέων θεοῦ ἔργα, χολῆς δὲ διζήμενος φύσιν καὶ θέσιν· οἶσθα γὰρ ἀνθρώπων παρακοπῆς ὡς αἰτίη ἐπιτοπολὺ αὕτη πλεονάσασα, ἐπεὶ πᾶσι μὲν φύσει ἐνυπάρχει, ἀλλὰ παρ’ οἷς μὲν ἔλαττον, παρ’ οἷς δέ τι πλέον· ἡ δ’ ἀμετρίη αὐτέης νοῦσοι τυγχάνουσιν, ὡς ὕλης ὅτε μὲν ἀγαθῆς, ὁτὲ δὲ φαύλης ὑποκειμένης.”

κἀγὼ, “νὴ Δία,” ἔφην, “ὦ Δημόκριτε, ἀληθέως γε καὶ φρονίμως λέγεις, ὅθεν εὐδαίμονά σε κρίνω τοσαύτης ἀπολαύοντα ἡσυχίης· ἡμῖν δὲ μετέχειν ταύτης οὐκ ἐπιτέτραπται.”

ἐρεομένου δὲ “διὰ τί, ὦ Ἱππόκρατες, οὐκ ἐπιτέτραπται;” “ὅτι,” ἔφην, “ἢ ἀγροὶ ἢ οἰκίη ἢ τέκνα ἢ δάνεια ἢ νοῦσοι ἢ θάνατοι ἢ δμῶες ἢ γάμοι ἢ τοιαῦτά τινα τὴν εὐκαιρίην ὑποτάμνεται.” ἐνταῦθα δὴ ὁ ἀνὴρ εἰς τὸ εἰωθὸς πάθος κατηνέχθη, καὶ μάλα ἀθρόον τι ἀνεκάγχασε, καὶ ἐπετώθασε, καὶ τὸ λοιπὸν ἡσυχίην ἦγεν.

Dosso Dossi, 1540

How Many Angels on the Head of a Pin? How Many Oarsmen on Achilles’ Ships?

Scholia T ad Homer Iliad 16.170

“Achilles, dear to Zeus, had fifty ships which he led to Troy. In each of the ships there were fifty companions at the benches.” How, people ask, is it that the Poet who typically augments Achilles elsewhere, diminishes him in this passage? Is it because there is no excellence in numbers?

Aristarchus, however, says that there are fifty rowers [only] because of the phrase “on the benches”, meaning sailors as support crew. Dionysus, still, claims that the greatest number of rowers possible was 120 and that most ships had between these two numbers, so that the average amount was 86 men.”

πεντήκοντ᾽ ἦσαν νῆες θοαί, ἧισιν ᾽Αχιλλεὺς ἐς Τροίην ἡγεῖτο διίφιλος· ἐν δὲ ἑκάστηι πεντήκοντ᾽ ἔσαν ἄνδρες ἐπὶ κληῖσιν ἑταῖροι] πῶς, φασίν, ἐν ἅπασιν αὔξων ᾽Αχιλλέα τούτωι μειοῖ; τινὲς μὲν οὖν, ὅτι οὐκ ἐν πλήθει ἡ ἀρετή … ᾽Αρίσταρχος δέ φησιν ν̄ ἐρέτας εἶναι διὰ τὸ ῾ἐπὶ κληῖσιν᾽ ἢ ναύτας πρὸς ὑπηρεσίαν. Διονύσιος δὲ τὸν μέγιστον ἀριθμὸν ρ̄κ̄ τιμᾶι, τὸ δὲ λοιπὸν ἐν τῶι μεταξὺ τούτων ἄγεσθαι, ὡς φθάνειν πάσας ἀπὸ π̄ε̄ ἀνδρῶν.

Ah, another case study of that “morbus Graecorum”

Seneca, De Brevitate Vitae 13

“It would be annoying to list all the people who spent their lives pursuing board games, ball games, or sunbathing. Men whose pleasures are so busy are not at leisure. For example, no one will be surprised that those occupied by useless literary studies work strenuously—and there is great band of these in Rome now too.

This sickness used to just afflict the Greeks, to discover the number of oarsmen Odysseus possessed, whether the Iliad was written before the Odyssey, whether the poems belong to the same author, and other matters like this which, if you keep them to yourself, cannot please your private mind; but if you publish them, you seem less learned than annoying.”

Persequi singulos longum est, quorum aut latrunculi aut pila aut excoquendi in sole corporis cura consumpsere vitam. Non sunt otiosi, quorum voluptates multum negotii habent. Nam de illis nemo dubitabit, quin operose nihil agant, qui litterarum inutilium studiis detinentur, quae iam apud Romanos quoque magna manus est. Graecorum iste morbus fuit quaerere, quem numerum Ulixes remigum habuisset, prior scripta esset Ilias an Odyssia, praeterea an eiusdem essent auctoris, alia deinceps huius notae, quae sive contineas, nihil tacitam conscientiam iuvant sive proferas, non doctior videaris sed molestior.

Lenormant Relief, c. 410 BCE

This Unforgetting Stone (Another Epitaph)

Iscr. di Cos (Fun.) EF 518  From Kos, 2nd/1st Century BCE

“Previously Homeric grooves [arrows] were sounding out
The master-loving habit of Eumaios on golden tablets,
But now this stone, repeating the unforgetting word,
Will sing your wise wit even into Hades, Inakhos.

Philoskos, who reveres your home, will always increase
The fine gifts and honor you both among the living and the dead—
Along with your wife who honors your son who is weeping,
A young child who draws deep from the spring of her breasts.

O, inescapable Hades, why do you hoard this kind of blessing,
Taking away the famous son of Kleumakhis?”

1 π̣ρὶν μ̣ὲν Ὁμήρειο[ι γλυφί]δες φιλ[οδέσποτ]ο̣ν̣ ἦ̣θ̣[ο]ς
Εὐμαίου χρ̣υσέαις̣ ἔ̣κλαγον ἐν σ̣ε̣λίσ̣ι̣ν̣·
σεῦ δὲ καὶ εἰν Ἀΐδαο σαόφρονα μῆτιν ἀείσει
Ἴν̣αχ̣’ ἀείμνηστον γ̣ρ̣άμ̣μ̣α λαλεῦσ̣α̣ πέ̣τρ̣η·
5 καί σε πρὸς εὐσεβέ̣ων δ̣όμ̣ον ἄξ̣ε̣ται ἐσθλὰ Φ̣ιλίσκος̣
δῶρα καὶ ἐν ζῳοῖς κἂμ φθιμένοισι τίνων·
σήν τ̣’ ἄλοχ̣ον κλείουντ’ αὐτόν σοι παῖδα τίο̣υσαν
π̣ηγῆς ἧς μασ̣τ̣ῶν ε̣ἴ̣λ̣κυ̣σ̣ε νηπίαχο̣ς̣.
[ὦ] δυσάλικτ’ Ἀΐδα, τὶ τὸ τηλίκον ἔσχ̣ες ὄνειαρ̣,
10 κλεινὸν Κλευμαχίδο̣ς̣ κοῦρον ἀειρ̣ά̣μενο̣ς̣;

Image result for ancient greek arrows

Further Lyric Inducements to Drink

PMG 900

“Ah, but I wish I were a large bit of gold
And a beautiful lady would wear me with a pure mind.”

εἴθ᾿ ἄπυρον καλὸν γενοίμην μέγα χρυσίον |
dκαί με καλὴ γυνὴ φοροίη καθαρὸν θεμένη νόον

PMG 901

“Drink with me. Be Young with me. Love with Me. Wear crowns with me.”
σύν μοι πῖνε, συνήβα, συνέρα, συστεφανηφόρει

PMG 902

“Be crazy with me when I’m crazy
Be sensible when I have sense.”

σύν μοι μαινομένῳ μαίνεο, σὺν σώφρονι
σωφρόνει.

Greek Anthology, 7.415 [=Callimachus 37]

“You are walking over the grave of a man who knew how to sing,
Callimachus, who also could laugh at the right time with a drink.”

Βαττιάδεω παρὰ σῆμα φέρεις πόδας, εὖ μὲν ἀοιδὴν
εἰδότος, εὖ δ᾿ οἴνῳ καίρια συγγελάσαι.

Alcaeus, Fr. 38A (P. Oxy. 1233 fr. 1)

“Drink and get drunk with me, Melanippos.
Why would you say that once you cross the great eddying
River of Acheron you will see the pure light of the sun again?

πῶνε [καὶ μέθυ᾿ ὦ] Μελάνιππ᾿ ἄμ᾿ ἔμοι· τί [φαῖς †
ὄταμε[. . . .]διννάεντ᾿ † Ἀχέροντα μέγ[αν πόρον
ζάβαι[ς ἀ]ελίω κόθαρον φάος [ἄψερον

Anacreon, fr. 412

“I’m drunk, won’t you let me go home?”

οὐ δηὖτέ μ᾿ ἐάσεις μεθύοντ᾿ οἴκαδ᾿ ἀπελθεῖν;

From medievalists.net

Come and Drink! A Blessing Equal to Fire

Panyasis is an epic poet from the 5th century BCE. We have a few long fragments of his Heraklea.

Panyasis fr. 19 [also cited at Athenaeus 37a 12–13; Stob. 3.18.21]

“Friend, come and drink! For this itself is also a virtue,
Whenever someone drinks the most wine at the feast
Using the best techniques, and also encourages his friends.

Yes, the man who is fast at the feast is equal to one in war,
Working through the grievous battles, where few people
Are actually brave and withstand the rushing war.

I think that his glory is equal when someone delights in
Being there at the feast and encourages the rest of the band too.
For a mortal does not seem to me to live or to have the life
Of a mortal who knows pain, if he sits there
Restraining his heart from wine—no, he’s an idiot.

For wine is a blessing for mortals equal to fire,
A fine armor against evil and companion for song.
It has its own share of the feast and of reward,
It has the power of dance, of bewitching love,
And is a shelter from worry and sadness.

So, you need to drink to the dedication at the feast
With a happy spirit—don’t sit with a full stomach,
Sated like a vulture who has forgotten happiness.”

“ξεῖν᾿, ἄγε δὴ καὶ πῖν᾿· ἀρετή νύ τίς ἐστι καὶαὕτη,
ὅς κ᾿ ἀνδρῶν πολὺ πλεῖστον ἐν εἰλαπίνηι μέθυ πίνηι
εὖ καὶ ἐπισταμένως,ἅμα τ᾿ ἄλλον φῶτα κελεύηι.
ἶσον δ᾿ ὅς τ᾿ ἐν δαιτὶ καὶ ἐν πολέμωι θοὸς ἀνήρ,
ὑσμίνας διέπων ταλαπενθέας, ἔνθά τε παῦροι
θαρσαλέοι τελέθουσι μένουσί τε θοῦρον ἄρηα.
τοῦ κεν ἐγὼ θείμην ἶσον κλέος, ὅς τ᾿ ἐνὶ δαιτί
τέρπηται παρεὼν ἅμα τ᾿ ἄλλον λαὸν ἀνώγηι.
οὐ γάρ μοι ζώειν γε δοκεῖ βροτὸς οὐδὲ βιῶναι
ἀνθρώποιο βίον ταλασίφρονος, ὅστις ἀπ᾿ οἴνου
θυμὸν ἐρητύσας μείνηι πότον, ἀλλ᾿ ἐνεόφρων.
οἶνος γὰρ πυρὶ ἶσον ἐπιχθονίοισιν ὄνειαρ,
ἐσθλὸν ἀλεξίκακον, πάσης συνοπηδὸν ἀοιδῆς.
ἐν μὲν γὰρ θαλίης ἐρατὸν μέρος ἀγλαΐης τε,
ἐν δὲ χοροιτυπίης, ἐν δ᾿ ἱμερτῆς φιλότητος,
ἐν δέ τε μενθήρης καὶ δυσφροσύνης ἀλεωρή.
τώ σε χρὴ παρὰ δαιτὶ δεδεγμένον εὔφρονι θυμῶι
πίνειν, μηδὲ βορῆς κεκορημένον ἠΰτε γῦπα
ἧσθαι πλημύροντα, λελασμένον εὐφροσυνάων.”

Add MS 27695 f. 14r K057778
British Library, from a treatise on the Seven Vices, Add MS 27695, f. 14r

Themistocles Says ‘F**k School!’

Plutarch, Themistocles (2):

“It is agreed that even when he was a boy he was full of energy, naturally intelligent, bold in his purpose, and political. When he found himself with some free time or leisure from his studies, he did not play or trifle around like the other children, but he was found developing and putting together certain speeches to himself. The speeches were either accusations or defenses of the other children. For this reason, his teacher used to say to him, ‘You will not be small – definitely, you will be either a great good or a great evil.’ When he came to learn those subjects which are directed to develop character, or afford pleasure, or instill a liberal grave, he learned them reluctantly and with little enthusiasm, but he was clearly keen on those speeches which had to do with intelligence or action at an exceptionally early age, as though he believed in his own natural ability.”

Themistocles and Aristides; Themistocles sitting at centre with three councillors on each side; Aristides standing at r, seen from behind; illustration to Cicero, 'Officia', Augsburg: Steiner, 1531.  Woodcut
From The British Museum

῎Ετι δὲ παῖς ὢν ὁμολογεῖται φορᾶς μεστὸς εἶναι, καὶ τῇ μὲν φύσει συνετός, τῇ δὲ προαιρέσει μεγαλοπράγμων καὶ πολιτικός. ἐν γὰρ ταῖς ἀνέσεσι καὶ σχολαῖς ἀπὸ τῶν μαθημάτων γιγνόμενος, οὐκ ἔπαιζεν οὐδ’ ἐρρᾳθύμει καθάπερ οἱ πολλοὶ παῖδες, ἀλλ’ εὑρίσκετο λόγους τινὰς μελετῶν καὶ συνταττόμενος πρὸς ἑαυτόν. ἦσαν δ’ οἱ λόγοι κατηγορία τινὸς ἢ συνηγορία τῶν παίδων. ὅθεν εἰώθει λέγειν πρὸς αὐτὸν ὁ διδάσκαλος ὡς ‘οὐδὲν ἔσει, παῖ, σὺ μικρόν, ἀλλὰ μέγα πάντως ἀγαθὸν ἢ κακόν’. ἐπεὶ καὶ τῶν παιδεύσεων τὰς μὲν ἠθοποιοὺς ἢ πρὸς ἡδονήν τινα καὶ χάριν ἐλευθέριον σπουδαζομένας ὀκνηρῶς καὶ ἀπροθύμως ἐξεμάνθανε, τῶν δ’ εἰς σύνεσιν ἢ πρᾶξιν † λεγομένων δῆλος ἦν ὑπερερῶν παρ’ ἡλικίαν ὡς τῇ φύσει πιστεύων.

Don’t Conceive While Drunk!

Plutarch, de liberis educandis, 2a:

“Those who go to bed with their wives for the sake of making children should do so while sober or at least only moderately intoxicated. For those whose fathers happened to be drunk at the moment of first sowing their seed tend to be wine-loving and prone to drunkenness. For this reason, when Diogenes saw a man raving and quite out of his mind, said, ‘Young man, your father must have begotten you when he was drunk!'”

τοὺς ἕνεκα παιδοποιίας πλησιάζοντας ταῖς γυναιξὶν ἤτοι τὸ παράπαν ἀοίνους ἢ μετρίως γοῦν οἰνωμένους ποιεῖσθαι προσήκει τὸν συνουσιασμόν. φίλοινοι γὰρ καὶ μεθυστικοὶ γίγνεσθαι φιλοῦσιν ὧν ἂν τὴν ἀρχὴν τῆς σπορᾶς οἱ πατέρες ἐν μέθῃ  ποιησάμενοι τύχωσιν. ᾗ καὶ Διογένης μειράκιον ἐκστατικὸν ἰδὼν καὶ παραφρονοῦν “νεανίσκε” ἔφησεν, “ὁ πατήρ σε μεθύων ἔσπειρε.”