Suetonius, Divus Tiberius 75 “The people were so happy about his death that some people went around shouting after its announcement, “Tiberius into the Tiber!” while others prayed to the Earth and the divine Shades to give him no place in death except with the damned. Others still were threatened his body with a hook … Continue reading Rejoicing at the Death of a Tyrant
Plutarch, Consolatio ad Apollonium 108-109: “Pindar says of Agamedes and Trophonius that they built a temple of Apollo and asked the god for a reward. He responded that he would give it to them on the seventh day, and told them to enjoy themselves during that time. They did as instructed, and on the seventh day, they … Continue reading What Is Best? Impending Death!
Pind. Pyth. 11.17-37 “The nurse Arsinoe took [Orestes] from his father murdered by the strong hands of Klytemnestra by the grievous trick when she sent the Dardanian girl, Kassandra, with Agamemnon’s soul by means of grey bronze to the dusty banks of Acheron, the pitiless woman. Was it Iphigenia, slaughtered far away from her home … Continue reading A Lyric Take on the Death of Agamemnon
Pliny, Letters 8.19 “I have so much joy and comfort in literature that there’s nothing that can’t be made happier because of it and there’s nothing sad enough to detract from its effect. I am so troubled by the sickness of my wife and the danger to my household, even the threat of death, that … Continue reading Comfort in Literature in the Face of Disease and Death
Joel sings “love is a battlefield” at every department holiday party, and yet no general ever says at muster, “troops, war is loving.” We don’t, that is, ordinarily reverse the terms of a metaphor. In practice, one term stands still and the other term does the work of elucidating it. But what if metaphor flowed … Continue reading Did You Say Love or Death?
The sacrifice of Iphigenia is a pivotal moment in the tale of the House of Atreus—it motivates Agamemnon’s murder and in turn the matricide of Orestes—and the Trojan War, functioning as it does as a strange sacrifice of a virgin daughter of Klytemnestra in exchange for passage for a fleet to regain the adulteress Helen, … Continue reading The Names of Agamemnon’s Daughters and the Death of Iphigenia
Hippocrates, Epidemics 5.101 “A woman in Abdera developed cancer on her chest, and bloody plasma leaked out through her nipple. Once the flowing stopped, she died.” Γυναικί, ἐν Ἀβδήροισι καρκίνωμα ἐγένετο περὶ στῆθος, διὰ τῆς θηλῆς ἔρρει ἰχὼρ ὕφαιμος· ἐπιληφθείσης δὲ τῆς ῥύσιος ἔθανεν. There is an earlier account of breast cancer in Herodotus: Herodotus, … Continue reading A Physician’s Notes on the Lives and Deaths of Women
These sayings come from the Gnomologium Vaticanum 128 “When Aesop was asked what the greatest trouble might be for people he responded “If the dead return and ask for their stuff back.” ῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτώμενος ὑπό τινος πῶς ἂν μεγίστη ταραχὴ γένοιτο ἐν ἀνθρώποις ἔφη· „εἰ οἱ τετελευτηκότες ἀναστάντες ἀπαιτοῖεν τὰ ἴδια.” 160 “Biôn … Continue reading Sleep, Death, and Dying: Some Anecdotes for a Monday
Ovid, Amores 2.11.21-36: Let savage Amor break up my lazy hours of sleep, and let me not be the only burden upon my bed! Let my girlfriend wreck me with no one there to stop it. One may be enough, but if she isn’t, then two! I can handle it. My limbs are slender but … Continue reading Venereal Disease? Try Venereal Death!
SEG 54:788 Kos, 2nd/1st Century BCE Funerary epigram for Stibos. White marble stele with upper molding. “Stibos, before when you were still among the living You took pleasure delighting in many valleys in glorious hunts. But now that you’re dead the dark earth covers over you, Hades brought death at only eighteen years old. But … Continue reading Death at Eighteen Years Old