Peril Shows A Person’s True Nature

Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 3.41-58

“For men often claim that disease and a life
of a bad reputation should be feared more than Tartaros.
And they claim they know that the nature of the soul is like blood
Or even air, if that fits their current desire.

And they claim that they do not need our arguments.
But what follows will make you see these things as a matter of boasting
rather than because the matter itself has been proved.

The same men, out of their homeland and in a long exile
From the sight of others, charged with some foul crime,
live as they do, even afflicted with all possible troubles.
But, still, wherever they go the outcasts minister to their ancestors
and slaughter dark cattle and make their offerings
to the departed ghosts and when things get worse
they focus more sharply on religion.

For this reason it is better to examine a man in doubt or danger:
Adverse circumstances make it easier to know who a man is,
for then true words finally rise from his deepest heart;
when the mask is removed, the thing itself remains.”

nam quod saepe homines morbos magis esse timendos
infamemque ferunt vitam quam Tartara leti
et se scire animi naturam sanguinis esse,
aut etiam venti, si fert ita forte voluntas,
nec prosum quicquam nostrae rationis egere,
hinc licet advertas animum magis omnia laudis
iactari causa quam quod res ipsa probetur.
extorres idem patria longeque fugati
conspectu ex hominum, foedati crimine turpi,
omnibus aerumnis adfecti denique vivunt,
et quo cumque tamen miseri venere parentant
et nigras mactant pecudes et manibus divis
inferias mittunt multoque in rebus acerbis
acrius advertunt animos ad religionem.
quo magis in dubiis hominem spectare periclis
convenit adversisque in rebus noscere qui sit;
nam verae voces tum demum pectore ab imo
eliciuntur [et] eripitur persona manet res.


Related image
Demons From The Livre de la vigne nostre Seigneur, 1450 – 70

Strange Cures for Strange Ailments

Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy 2.6.2

“Philodotus, the physician, cured a melancholy king, that thought his head was off, by putting a leaden cap thereon; the weight made him perceive it, and freed him of his fond imagination. A woman, in the said Alexander, swallowed a serpent as she thought; he gave her a vomit, and conveyed a serpent, such as she conceived, into the basin; upon the sight of it she was amended. The pleasantest dotage that ever I read, saith Laurentius, was of a gentleman at Senes in Italy, who was afraid to piss, lest all the town should be drowned; the physicians caused the bells to be rung backward, and told him the town was on fire, whereupon he made water, and was immediately cured. Another supposed his nose so big that he should dash it against the wall if he stirred; his physician took a great piece of flesh, and holding it in his hand, pinched him by the nose, making him believe that flesh was cut from it. Forestus, obs. lib. 1. had a melancholy patient, who thought he was dead, he put a fellow in a chest, like a dead man, by his bedside, and made him rear himself a little, and eat: the melancholy man asked the counterfeit, whether dead men use to eat meat? He told him yea; whereupon he did eat likewise and was cured. Lemnius, lib. 2. cap. 6. de 4. complex, hath many such instances, and Jovianus Pontanus, lib. 4. cap. 2. of Wisd. of the like; but amongst the rest I find one most memorable, registered in the French chronicles of an advocate of Paris before mentioned, who believed verily he was dead, &c. I read a multitude of examples of melancholy men cured by such artificial inventions.”


Flush for Friday!

Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy 2.2.2:

“I have declared in the causes what harm costiveness hath done in procuring this disease; if it be so noxious, the opposite must needs be good, or mean at least, as indeed it is, and to this cure necessarily required; maxime conducit, saith Montaltus, cap. 27. it very much avails. Altomarus, cap. 7, commends walking in a morning, into some fair green pleasant fields, but by all means first, by art or nature, he will have these ordinary excrements evacuated. Piso calls it, Beneficium ventris, the benefit, help or pleasure of the belly, for it doth much ease it. Laurentius, cap. 8, Crato, consil. 21. l. 2. prescribes it once a day at least: where nature is defective, art must supply, by those lenitive electuaries, suppositories, condite prunes, turpentine, clysters, as shall be shown. Prosper Calenus, lib. de atra bile, commends clysters in hypochondriacal melancholy, still to be used as occasion serves; Peter Cnemander in a consultation of his pro hypocondriaco, will have his patient continually loose, and to that end sets down there many forms of potions and clysters. Mercurialis, consil. 88. if this benefit come not of its own accord, prescribes clysters in the first place: so doth Montanus, consil. 24. consil. 31 et 229. he commends turpentine to that purpose: the same he ingeminates, consil. 230. for an Italian abbot. ‘Tis very good to wash his hands and face often, to shift his clothes, to have fair linen about him, to be decently and comely attired, for sordes vitiant, nastiness defiles and dejects any man that is so voluntarily, or compelled by want, it dulleth the spirits.”

Surprise! Wolf Slaughters Lamb on Slight Pretext

Phaedrus, Fabula 1.1


“A wolf and lamb arrived at the same stream
Compelled by thirst. The wolf was standing above it,
And the lamb far below. Then with wicked jaw agape
For a bark the wolf began to argue his case:

“Why”, he asked, “did you dirty up the water that
I am drinking?” The little lamb responded in fear:

“Please, how can I have done what you have accused, wolf?
The water runs from you to my jaws.”

Rebuffed by the strength of truth, he said,
“Six months ago you maligned my name.”

The lamb responded, “But I was not yet born!”
The wolf said, “By god, then your father did me wrong.”
And he then he killed the lamb by tearing him to pieces.

This fable has been written against those men
Who oppress the innocent for trumped-up reasons.”



Ad rivum eundem lupus et agnus venerant,
siti compulsi. Superior stabat lupus,
longeque inferior agnus. Tunc fauce improba
latro incitatus iurgii causam intulit;
‘Cur’ inquit ‘turbulentam fecisti mihi
aquam bibenti?’ Laniger contra timens
‘Qui possum, quaeso, facere quod quereris, lupe?
A te decurrit ad meos haustus liquor’.
Repulsus ille veritatis viribus
‘Ante hos sex menses male’ ait ‘dixisti mihi’.
Respondit agnus ‘Equidem natus non eram’.
‘Pater hercle tuus’ ille inquit ‘male dixit mihi’;
atque ita correptum lacerat iniusta nece.
Haec propter illos scripta est homines fabula
qui fictis causis innocentes opprimunt.

For more, go to mythfolklore

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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.”

A Strange, Instructive Proverb

The following is inspired by current events and by enthusiasm for an earlier post about Greek excrement


“Shitting in the Pythian temple”: Peisistratos built the temple to Pythian Apollo. But when some Athenians were present and they hated him and had nothing else to do, some pissed on the enclosure and shat near the building, effectively annoying the people who were working on it…”

ἐν Πυθίῳ χέσαι· Πεισίστρατος ᾠκοδόμει τὸν ἐν Πυθίῳ ναόν·τῶν δὲ ᾿Αθηναίων παριόντων <καὶ> μισούντων αὐτὸν …, οὐδὲν ἐχόντων ποιεῖν, ἐνίους προσουρεῖν τῷ περιφράγματικαὶ πλησίον ἀφοδεύειν τῆς οἰκοδομῆς, ὥστε διοχλεῖσθαι τοὺς ἐργαζομένους

Michael Apostolios, 7.17

“Shitting in the Pythian Temple”: this means to risk danger. For the tyrant Peisistratos, when he was building the temple, discovered some resident alien shitting there, and drove him off. For he posted that no one could shit there.”

᾿Εν Πυθίου χέσαι: οἷον κινδυνεῦσαι. Πεισίστρατος γὰρ ὁ τύραννος ποιῶν νεὼν, εὑρών τινα ἀποπατοῦντα μέτοικον, ἀπήγαγε· προσέγραψε γὰρ μηδένα ἀποπατῆσαι.

Aristophanes, Ecclesiazuae 832

“By Poseidon, I hope she doesn’t piss on me”

νὴ τὸν Ποσειδῶ, μὴ κατουρήσωσί μου.

Suda, s.v. Pythagoras

“Do not urinate when turned to the sun”

πρὸς ἥλιον τετραμμένον μὴ ὀμιχεῖν

“Do not urinate or stand on clipped nails or cut hair”

ἀπονυχίσμασι καὶ κουραῖς μὴ ἐπουρεῖν μηδὲ ἐφίστασθαι

Image result for The temple of the Pythian Apollo

Seneca and Epictetus: We Need Sick Days for Mental Health

Seneca, Moral Epistle 53. 9-10

“If you were sick, you would break from personal affairs and neglect your work responsibilities—you would not care enough for an client to work on his case during a brief respite from illness. No, you would work with all your mind to free yourself from sickness as soon as possible.

What then? Won’t you do the same thing now? Dismiss all obstacles and dedicate yourself to a healthy mind. No one who is distracted can achieve this. Philosophy rules her own realm: she makes the time and does not accept appointments. She is not a random assignment but a regular obligation. She is master: she is here and commands.

Alexander, to a certain state who promised him half of their possessions and lands, said “I came into Asia not with the plan of me taking what you offered but for you to have whatever I left behind.” In the same way, philosophy says to all other affairs: “I am not going to accept the time you don’t need, but you may have the time I don’t take.”


Si aeger esses, curam intermisisses rei familiaris et forensia tibi negotia excidissent nec quemquam tanti putares cui advocatus in remissione descenderes; toto animo id ageres ut quam primum morbo liberareris. Quid ergo? non et nunc idem facies? omnia impedimenta dimitte et vaca bonae menti: nemo ad illam pervenit occupatus. Exercet philosophia regnum suum; dat tempus, non accipit; non est res subsiciva; ordinaria est, domina est, adest et iubet. [10] Alexander cuidam civitati partem agrorum et dimidium rerum omnium promittenti ‘eo’ inquit ‘proposito in Asiam veni, ut non id acciperem quod dedissetis, sed ut id haberetis quod reliquissem’. Idem philosophia rebus omnibus: ‘non sum hoc tempus acceptura quod vobis superfuerit, sed id vos habebitis quod ipsa reiecero’.

This reminds me of a passage from Epictetus:

Epictetus, Treatises Collected by Arrian, 2.15: To those who cling to any judgments they have made tenaciously

“Whenever some people hear these words—that it is right to be consistent, that the moral person is free by nature and never compelled, while everything else may be hindered, forced, enslaved, subjected to others—they imagine that it is right that they maintain every judgment they have made without compromising at all.

But the first issue is that the judgment should be a good one. For, if I wish to maintain the state of my body, it should be when it is healthy, well-exercised. If you show me that you have the tone of a crazy person and brag about it, I will say ‘Dude, look for a therapist. This is not health, but sickness.’ “

ιε′. Πρὸς τοὺς σκληρῶς τισιν ὧν ἔκριναν ἐμμένοντας.

῞Οταν ἀκούσωσί τινες τούτων τῶν λόγων, ὅτι βέβαιον εἶναι δεῖ καὶ ἡ μὲν προαίρεσις ἐλεύθερον φύσει καὶ ἀνανάγκαστον, τὰ δ’ ἄλλα κωλυτά, ἀναγκαστά, δοῦλα, ἀλλότρια, φαντάζονται ὅτι δεῖ παντὶ τῷ κριθέντι ὑπ’ αὐτῶν ἀπαραβάτως ἐμμένειν. ἀλλὰ πρῶτον ὑγιὲς εἶναι δεῖ τὸ κεκριμένον. θέλω γὰρ εἶναι τόνους ἐν σώματι, ἀλλ’ ὡς ὑγιαίνοντι, ὡς ἀθλοῦντι· ἂν δέ μοι φρενιτικοῦ τόνους ἔχων ἐνδεικνύῃ[ς] καὶ ἀλαζονεύῃ ἐπ’ αὐτοῖς, ἐρῶ σοι ὅτι ‘ἄνθρωπε, ζήτει τὸν θεραπεύσοντα. τοῦτο οὐκ εἰσὶ τόνοι, ἀλλ’ ἀτονία’.