In Homer, Helen and Menelaos have a single child, Hermione and there is a reference to Menelaos’ son Megapenthes. But there are no mentions of Helen having children with anyone else. The mythographical tradition fixes this.
Jacoby BNJ 758 F 6 = Scholia on Euripides, Andromache 898
“Lysimachus and some others report that Nikostratos was also born from Helen. But the one who gathered the Cypriot tales says that it was Pleisthenes who came to Cyprus with Aganos and that he was the child born to Alexander from Helen.”
“Menelaos fathered Hermione from Helen and according to some others Nikostraos; Akousilaos claims that [Menelaos] fathered Megapenthes with a servant girl who was Aitolian in race (she was named Pieres, or, it was Tereis who was Pierian; according to Eumelos he gave birth to a son named Xenodamos from a nymph named Knossia.”
“Aristarchus believed it best to make sense of those things that were presented more fantastically by Homer according to the poet’s authority, that we not be overwhelmed by anything outside of the things presented by Homer.”
Since often in our conversations with one another about Homeric questions, when I try to show you that Homer interprets himself for the most part, and we consider from every angle in most instances based on our training more than [simply] knowing what he says, you have considered it right that I write up the things we have said rather than allow them to fall aside and disappear because we’ve forgotten them.
Aesop: The Monkey and the Fisherman: ΑΛΙΕΥΣ ΚΑΙ ΠΙΘΗΞ
“Some fisherman was setting is net for fish along the seashore. A monkey was watching him and wanted to copy what he was doing. When the man went into some cave to take a nap and left his net on the beach, the monkey came down, and was trying to fish in the same way. Ignorant of the skill, he was using the net poorly and just wrapped it all around himself. He immediately fell into the sea and drowned. When the fisherman found him already drowning, he said, “fool, your ignorance and bad planning ruined you.”
The moral of the story is that people who try to imitate acts beyond their ability bring disaster upon themselves.”
“The people of the west have their own alcohol made from soaked grain in many different ways in Gaul and Spain with many different names but with the same idea. The people of Spain have already taught us that these kinds of beverages will last even a long amount of time.
Egypt, too, has worked out a similar drink made from grain and in no corner of the world does intoxication ever take a break. They even drink this type of beverage without diluting them as one does with wine. But, by Hercules, that land used to seem to offer grains alone. Alas, the miraculous inventiveness of vice! A way has also been found to make water intoxicating!”
. Est et occidentis populis sua ebrietas e fruge madida, pluribus modis per Gallias Hispaniasque, nominibus aliis sed ratione eadem. Hispaniae iam et vetustatem ferre ea genera docuerunt. Aegyptus quoque e fruge sibi potus similis excogitavit, nullaque in parte mundi cessat ebrietas; meros quippe hauriunt tales sucos nec diluendo ut vina mitigant; at, Hercules, illic tellus fruges parare videbatur. heu, mira vitiorum sollertia! inventum est quemadmodum aquae quoque inebriarent.
Julian the Apostate, Epigrams 1
“Who are you and where are you from Dionysus? By the Bakhos true
I know only the son of Zeus and I do not know you.
He smells like nektar, but you smell like goat.
Did the Celts make you from grain because of their lack of grapes?
Ah, we should call you not Dionysus, but Demetrios instead.
And Bromos*** not Bromios since you are born of wheat**.”
The note from the Loeb attributes an understanding of this fragment to Hermann who compares it to Nonnos, Dionysiaca, 20.149–153, 166–181
Nonnos, Dion. 20.149-153
“The was a certain murderous man living there, of Ares’s line
Who was a mimic of his father’s wretched customs.
The criminal would drag faultless strangers to their doom,
That dread maniac Lykourgos, and then when he cut off
Their mortal heads with steel he hung them in his doorway…”
“The degree to which the best governed states have dedicated themselves to fine music finds ample testimony, especially in the case of Terpander who brought an end to the civil strife that was ruining the Spartans.
There’s also Thaletas of Crete who people say listened to the Delphic oracle and went Sparta and returned people to health with music, saving Sparta from the Pandemic that was gripping the land, as Pratinas claims.
Homer too says that the Greeks stopped a plague with music, for he says that “sons of the Achaeans propitiated the god with song and dance all day long / singing the noble paean and praising the / far-shooter who took pleasure in hearing the song.”
I’ll leave those verses as the final words in my argument about music, good teacher, since you started this discussion by quoting them to us. In truth, music’s first and finest labor is to give thanks back to the gods, and after that comes a cleansing of the soul, sure tone, and sustained harmony.”
Plutarch, On the Fortune of Alexander (Moralia 328d-f)
“When Alexander the great was taming Asia, Homer was being read and the children of the Persians, Susianans, and Gedrosians learned to sing the tragedies of Euripides and Sophocles. Shoot, even though Socrates, when he was prosecuted for bringing a foreign god to the Athenains, lost his case to those Athenian sycophants, Baktria and the Caucasus learned to kneel before Greek gods.
While Plato wrote a book about a single constitution, he persuaded no one to use it because of its severity; but Alexander created more than seventy cities among barbarian tribes and plated Greek institutions all over Asia and conquered their harsh and uncivilized ways. Few of us have even read Plato’s Laws, but countless thousands have followed Alexander’s and still used them.
Really, those who were conquered by Alexander are luckier than those who resisted him—they had no one who could help them change their pathetic lives; but the champion taught those conquered how to be happy.”
What is amazing about this passage is the quick but clear elision between culture as a marker of value and brute force to impose cultural supremacy. Similar themes are common in European treatises from Plutarch to today.
I mean, if Homer is so great, why does he need Alexander to take him to Asia?
“The Lydians and Ionans [report] that letters came from Phoinix the son of Agênor who invented them. But the Cretans report differently that they were developed from writing on the leaves of palm trees [phoinikes].
Skamôn, in the second book of his Inventions, says that they were named for Aktaion’s daughter Phoinikê. The story goes that he had no male children, but that he had daughters Aglauros, Ersê, and Pandrosos. Phoinikê died still a virgin. For this reason, Aktaion named the letters “Phoenician” for her, because he wished to give some honor to his daughter.”
“Letters: Know that Phoenicians were the first to invent letters. For this reason, letters are also called Phoinikeia. People also say that Kadmos first brought them to Greece. And Apis, the Egyptian, brought medicine. Asklepios improved the art itself. Look also in the entry on Phoenician Letters.” [reference is the same as reported in Photios’ Lexicon.]
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”
“Amyntas in his work which he named Stages writes that in the Caspian land there are many herds of cattle and horses almost beyond counting. He adds this as well, that in some seasons an unconquerable plague of rats blights the land. He continues with evidence, saying that even though the rivers flow at that of year with a huge surge, the rats swim fearlessly and they even hold on to each other’s tales, biting down on one another, to form a bridge and they they cross the strait in this way.
After swimming into the farmland, he says, they grind down the roots of crops and swarm over trees and once they use their fruits for their meals they sever the branches too just because they are not able to eat them. For this reason, the Caspians—in order to ward off this invasion of rats and the ruin they bring—do not kill the predatory birds which come in turn, flying down from the clouds, and fulfill their nature by freeing the Caspians of this plague.
Caspian foxes are so numerous that they frequent both the sheepfolds in the country and they also appear in cities. By Zeus, a fox will show up in a house not to steal something or ruin it, but like some kind of pet. The Caspian foxes wag their tails just like pet dogs in our land.
The rats of the terrible plague afflicting the Caspians are almost the same in size when you look a them as the ikhneumenos of Egypt, but they are wild, and terrible, and they have teeth strong enough to cut and even eat metal. The rats in Teridon, Babylonia are like this too—and traders bring their skins to sell among the Persians. Indeed, these skins are soft and can be sewn together as a tunic to warm people. And they call them kandutanes, because it is dear to them.
Here is something amazing about these rats: if a pregnant female is caught and her fetus is removed, when the female fetus is dissected and examined, it also has a baby.”
“What is life? What enjoyment is there without golden Aphrodite?
May I die when these things no longer interest me:
Secret sex and its moving gifts in bed,
Those blossoms of youth that tug
At men and women alike.
…But then painful old age
Presses down and makes a man ugly and embarrassing.
Cruel thoughts are always wearing down his mind
And he takes no pleasure seeing the sunrise.
No, he’s disgusting to boys and a joke to women too.
That the hard old age god makes for us.”
“I was once with Sophocles when someone asked him, ‘O Sophocles, how do things stand with you in the old love-making line? Can you still lie with a woman?’ Sophocles responded, ‘Ah man, you should sing a song of triumph for me – for indeed, I have most gladly fled from love as though I had gotten away from a cruel and raving master.’
It seemed to me at the time that he had spoken well on the subject, and I think so no less even today. Indeed, we are granted a certain peace and freedom from such concerns in old age. When our desires relent and finally cease to draw us out, then indeed does Sophocles’ saying come true, and we are entirely freed from many a raving master.
But respecting these things, and our relationships with our friends, my dear Socrates, there is one cause to consider – not old age, but rather the person’s character. If they have their lives well-ordered and are easily contented, then old age is a moderate burden. But to a man of the opposite character, both old age and youth happen to be burdensome affairs.