Publius’ Severed Head Speaks! The Third Act of a Fantastic Friday

In two earlier posts, we have the story of a victorious Roman army beset by tragic prophecies provided by a zombie opponent, the oracle at Delphi, and a suddenly mad general. Here, the general prophesies, dies, and speaks again. Oh, there’s a red wolf involved too.

Phlegon of Tralles, On Marvels 3 (Part 3)

“After he said these things, he spoke in verse again:

When the shining gold-bedecked Nêsaian horses
Trod on the shining earth, after they leave behind their seat
The horses Daidalian Êetion once made in the city
Of the very wealthy Syracusans, building up a longed-for friendship.
He put a fire on the bronze and laid golden knots
On their halters and he fit all this too on the son of
Hyperion who shines with rays and light.
On that day, Roman, harsh griefs will occur for you.
A broad army will come and it will destroy your whole land,
It will desolate your marketplaces, and it will make your cities burned ash.
It will fill the rivers with blood; it will fill Hades,
And it will cast pitiful, hateful, terrible slavery upon you.
No wife will welcome her husband come from war
But darkly-dressed Hades who lives below will hold them
among the rotting places where he has stolen children from their mothers,
as this foreign Ares will craft his day of enslavement.

He was silent and then, after he left the camp, he climbed up a certain tree. Because the crowd followed him, he addressed them again and said: “Roman men and remaining soldiers, it is fated for me to be eaten by a red wolf after I die on the same day. But you must take to heart that everything which I have said will turn out well for you. Take the coming appearance of this beast and my death as a clear sign that I have spoken truly, inspired from a god.”

After he said these things, he ordered them to hold back and that no one should stop the beast from approaching, warning that it would not help them if they turned it away. When the mob did what was ordered, a wolf arrived before too long. When Publius say it, he came down from the tree and fell to his back. The wolf tore him apart and dined on him while everyone was walking. Once it had eaten up his body except for his head, he turned to the mountain. When the mob approached and was considering collecting what was left and burying him, the head spoke as it sat upon the earth and uttered these lines.

Don’t touch my head! For it is not right
For those upon whose thoughts Athena has set a savage rage
To touch a godly head. No, stop!
Heed the true prophecy which I will tell you.
For a great a powerful Ares will approach this land—
He will send a host in arms down to Hades’ gloom.
It will break the stone fortifications and long walls
And after that, once it has taken our wealth and wives and children
Will lead it all to Asia by crossing the waves.
Phoibos Apollo has uttered these truths to you
The Pythian one who sent me as his strong servant
And has led me now to the homes of Persephone and the blessed.

Once they heard these voices, they were extremely upset. Once they built a shrine to Lykian Apollo along which an altar in the very place where the head say, they embarked on their ships and everyone sailed to their own country. Everything promised by Publius happened in time.”

ταῦτα δὲ εἰπὼν ἔλεξεν αὖθις ἐν ἔπεσι τάδε·

ἡνίκα Νησαῖοι χρυσάμπυκες ἀργέται ἵπποι
βῶσιν ἐπὶ χθόνα δῖαν, ἑὴν προλιπόντες ἐφέδρην
—οὕς ποτ’ ἐν ἄστει τεῦξε Συρηκοσίων πολυόλβων
δαίδαλος ᾿Ηετίων, φιλίην πολυήρατον αὔξων,
δαῖτ’ ἐπὶ χαλκείῃ, δεσμοῖς δ’ ἐπὶ δεσμὸν ἴαλλεν
χρύσεον, ἐν δ’ αὐτὸν πᾶσιν ῾Υπερίονος υἱὸν
ἥρμοσεν ἀκτίνεσσι καὶ ὄμμασι μαρμαίροντα—
καὶ τότε σοί, ῾Ρώμη, χαλέπ’ ἄλγεα πάντα τελεῖται.
ἥξει γὰρ στρατὸς εὐρύς, ὅ σου χθόνα πᾶσαν ὀλέσσει,
χηρώσει δ’ ἀγοράς, ἄστη δέ τε πυρπόλα θήσει,
αἵματι δὲ πλήσει ποταμούς, πλήσει δὲ καὶ ῞Αιδην,
δουλοσύνην τ’ οἰκτρήν, στυγερήν, ἀτέκμαρτον ἐφήσει.
οὐδὲ γυνὴ πόσιν ὅν γ’ ὑποδέξεται ἐκ πολέμοιο
νοστήσαντ’, ᾿Αΐδης δὲ καταχθόνιος, μελανείμων
ἕξει ἐνὶ φθιμένοισιν ὁμοῦ τέκνα μητρὸς ἀπούρας,
῎Αρης δ’ ἀλλοδαπὸς περιθήσει δούλιον ἦμαρ.

ἀποφθεγξάμενος δὲ ταῦτα ἐσιώπησεν καὶ πορευθεὶς ἔξω τοῦ στρατοπέδου ἀνέβη ἐπί τινα δρῦν. ἐπακολουθήσαντος δὲ τοῦ ὄχλου προσεκαλέσατο αὐτοὺς καὶ εἶπε τάδε· «ἐμοὶ μέν, ὦ ἄνδρες ῾Ρωμαῖοι καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ στρατιῶται, καθήκει τελευτή-
σαντι ὑπὸ λύκου πυρροῦ εὐμεγέθους καταβρωθῆναι ἐν τῇ σήμερον ἡμέρᾳ, ὑμεῖς δὲ τὰ ῥηθέντα ὑπ’ ἐμοῦ γινώσκετε συμβησόμενα ὑμῖν πάντα, τεκμηρίοις χρώμενοι τῇ νῦν ἐσομένῃ ἐπιφανείᾳ τοῦ θηρίου τε καὶ τῇ ἐμῇ ἀναιρέσει, ὅτι ἀληθῆ εἴρηκα ἔκ τινος θείας ὑποδείξεως.» τοσαῦτα δὲ εἰπὼν ἐκέλευσεν αὐτοὺς ἀποστῆναι καὶ μηδένα κωλύσαι τὸ θηρίον προσελθεῖν φάσκων, ἐὰν ἀποστρέψωσιν, οὐ συνοίσειν αὐτοῖς.

ποιήσαντος δὲ τοῦ πλήθους τὸ προσταχθὲν οὐκ εἰς μακρὰν παραγίνεται ὁ λύκος. ἰδὼν δὲ αὐτὸν ὁ Πόπλιος κατέβη ἀπὸ τῆς δρυὸς καὶ ἔπεσεν ὕπτιος, ὁ δὲ λύκος ἀνασχίσας αὐτὸν κατεδαίνυτο πάντων ὁρώντων. ἀναλώσας δὲ τὸ σῶμα αὐτοῦ πλὴν τῆς κεφαλῆς ἐτράπετο εἰς τὸ ὄρος. προσελθόντος δὲ τοῦ ὄχλου καὶ βουλομένου ἀνελέσθαι τὰ ἀπολελειμμένα κτερίσαι τε αὐτὸν νομίμως, ἡ κεφαλὴ κειμένη ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἀνεῖπε τοὺς στίχους τοιούτους·

μὴ ψαῦ’ ἡμετέρης κεφαλῆς· οὐ γὰρ θέμις ἐστίν,
οἷσιν ᾿Αθηναίη χόλον ἄγριον ἐν φρεσὶ θῆκεν,
ἅπτεσθαι θείοιο καρήατος· ἀλλὰ πέπαυσο
μαντοσύνην τ’ ἐπάκουσον, ἀληθέα ᾗπερ ἐρῶ σοι.
ἥξει γὰρ χθόνα τήνδε πολὺς καὶ καρτερὸς ῎Αρης,
ὃς λαὸν μὲν ἔνοπλον ὑπὸ σκότον ᾿Αΐδι πέμψει,
ῥήξει δ’ αὖ λιθίνους πύργους καὶ τείχεα μακρά,
ὄλβον δ’ ἡμέτερον καὶ νήπια τέκν’ ἀλόχους τε
μάρψας εἰς ᾿Ασίην ἄξει διὰ κῦμα περήσας.
ταῦτά σοι εἴρηκεν νημερτέα Φοῖβος ᾿Απόλλων
Πύθιος, ὅς μοι ἑὸν κρατερὸν θεράποντ’ ἐπιπέμψας
ἤγαγεν εἰς μακάρων τε δόμους καὶ Περσεφονείης.

ἀκούσαντες δὲ τῶν ἐπῶν τούτων οὐ μετρίως ἐταράχθησαν, ἱδρυσάμενοί τε ναὸν ᾿Απόλλωνος Λυκίου καὶ βωμόν, οὗπερ ἔκειτο ἡ κεφαλή, ἐνέβησαν εἰς τὰς ναῦς καὶ ἀπέπλεον ἕκαστος ἐπὶ τὰς ἑαυτῶν πατρίδας. καὶ συνέβη ἅπαντα τὰ ὑπὸ τοῦ Ποπλίου ῥηθέντα γενέσθαι.

Politicians and Philosophers! On the Education of Perikles

Plutarch on Perikles

“Perikles was a student of Zeno the Eleatic too, the one who concerned himself with nature in the manner of Parmenides. and who practiced a type of refutational logic which would trap his interlocutor.  He was, as Timon of Phlias quipped, “a man whose tongue worked both ways, with irresistible fury, Zeno, a universal prosecutor”.

But the one who spent the most time with Pericles and who chiefly endowed him with a stature and outlook more impressive than any demagogue’s and who totally raised up and praised the worth of his character was Anaxagoras of Klazomene. He was a man people of that time called the Mind because either they were amazed by his understanding which appeared so great and nuanced regarding nature or because he was the first who didn’t make chance or necessity the ruling force of the universe but instead Mind in its pure and simple form…”

διήκουσε δὲ Περικλῆς καὶ Ζήνωνος τοῦ Ἐλεάτου πραγματευομένου περὶ φύσιν, ὡς Παρμενίδης, ἐλεγκτικὴν δέ τινα καὶ δι᾿ ἀντιλογίας κατακλείουσαν εἰς ἀπορίαν ἐξασκήσαντος ἕξιν, ὥσπερ καὶ Τίμων ὁ Φλιάσιος εἴρηκε διὰ τούτων·

Ἀμφοτερογλώσσου τε μέγα σθένος οὐκ ἀλαπαδνὸν /Ζήνωνος, πάντων ἐπιλήπτορος.

Ὁ δὲ πλεῖστα Περικλεῖ συγγενόμενος καὶ μάλιστα περιθεὶς ὄγκον αὐτῷ καὶ φρόνημα δημαγωγίας ἐμβριθέστερον, ὅλως τε μετεωρίσας καὶ συνεξάρας τὸ ἀξίωμα τοῦ ἤθους, Ἀναξαγόρας ἦν ὁ Κλαζομένιος, ὃν οἱ τότ᾿ ἄνθρωποι Νοῦν προσηγόρευον, εἴτε τὴν σύνεσιν αὐτοῦ μεγάλην εἰς φυσιολογίαν καὶ περιττὴν διαφανεῖσαν θαυμάσαντες, εἴθ᾿ ὅτι τοῖς ὅλοις πρῶτος οὐ τύχην οὐδ᾿ ἀνάγκην διακοσμήσεως ἀρχήν, ἀλλὰ νοῦν ἐπέστησε καθαρὸν καὶ ἄκρατον…

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Prophetic Zombie Enemies: Another Fantastic Friday

Phlegon of Tralles, On Marvels 3

“Antisthenes, the peripatetic philosopher, also records that the consul Acilius Glabrio with the ambassadors Porcius Cato and Lucius Valerius Flaccus was stationed in war against Antiochus at Thermopylae and, after fighting well, compelled those on Antiochus’ side to throw down their weapons and the man himself to flee to Elataia with five hundred hypastists. From there, they compelled him to turn again to Thessaly. Acilius then sent Cato to Rome so he might announce the victory while he led the army himself against the Aitolians in Herakleia, which he took with ease.

In the action against Antiochus at Thermopylae, the Romans witnessed some shocking signs. After Antiochus turned and fled, on the next day the Romans turned to the gathering of those who died on the battle and a selection of weapons, war-spoils, and prisoners.

There was some man from the Syrian cavalry, named Bouplagos, who was honored by Antiochus but fell in battle even as he fought nobly. While the Romans were gathering up all the arms at midday, Bouplagos rose from the corpses even though he had twelve wounds. As he appeared to the army, he spoke the following verses in a soft voice:

Stop gathering booty from an army which has marched to Hades’ land—
For Kronos’ Son Zeus already feels anger as he watches your deeds.
He is raging at the murder of the army and your acts,
And he will send a bold-hearted race into your country
Who will end your empire and make you pay for what you’ve done.

Because they were troubled by these verses, the generals swiftly gathered the army in assembly and discussed the meaning of the omen. They thought it best to cremate and bury Bouplagos who had died right after he uttered these words. Then they performed a cleansing of the camp, made sacrifices to Zeus Apotropaios and sent a group to Delphi to ask the god what they should do.”

῾Ιστορεῖ δὲ καὶ ᾿Αντισθένης, ὁ περιπατητικὸς φιλόσοφος, ᾿Ακείλιον Γλαβρίωνα τὸν ὕπατον μετὰ πρεσβευτῶν Πορκίου Κάτωνος καὶ Λουκίου Οὐαλερίου Φλάκκου παραταξάμενον ᾿Αντιόχῳ ἐν Θερμοπύλαις γενναίως τε ἀγωνισάμενον βιάσασθαι ῥίψαι μὲν τὰ ὅπλα τοὺς μετ’ ᾿Αντιόχου, αὐτὸν δὲ τὰ μὲν πρῶτα εἰς ᾿Ελάτειαν μετὰ πεντακοσίων ὑπασπιστῶν φυγεῖν, ἐκεῖθεν δὲ πάλιν εἰς ῎Εφεσον ἀναγκάσαι ὑπεξελθεῖν. ὁ δὲ ᾿Ακείλιος Κάτωνα μὲν εἰς ῾Ρώμην ἀπέστειλεν ἀπαγγελοῦντα τὴν νίκην, αὐτὸς δὲ ἐπ’ Αἰτωλοὺς καθ’ ῾Ηράκλειαν ἐστράτευσεν, ἣν ἐξ εὐμαροῦς ἔλαβεν.

ἐν δὲ τῇ παρατάξει τῇ γενομένῃ πρὸς ᾿Αντίοχον ἐν Θερμοπύλαις ἐπιφανέστατα σημεῖα ἐγένετο ῾Ρωμαίοις. ἀποσφαλέντος γὰρ ᾿Αντιόχου καὶ φυγόντος τῇ ἐπιούσῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἐγίνοντο οἱ ῾Ρωμαῖοι περὶ ἀναίρεσιν τῶν ἐκ τῆς σφετέρας δυνάμεως πεπτωκότων καὶ περὶ συλλογὴν λαφύρων τε καὶ σκύλων καὶ αἰχμαλώτων.

Βούπλαγος δέ τις, τῶν ἀπὸ Συρίας ἱππάρχης, τιμώμενος παρὰ τῷ βασιλεῖ ᾿Αντιόχῳ, ἔπεσε καὶ αὐτὸς γενναίως ἀγωνισάμενος. ἀναιρουμένων δὲ τῶν ῾Ρωμαίων πάντα τὰ σκῦλα καὶ μεσούσης τῆς ἡμέρας ἀνέστη ὁ Βούπλαγος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, ἔχων τραύματα δέκα δύο, καὶ παραγενόμενος εἰς τὸ στρατόπεδον αὐτῶν ἀνεῖπε λεπτῇ τῇ φωνῇ τούσδε τοὺς στίχους·

παῦσαι σκυλεύων στρατὸν ῎Αιδος εἰς χθόνα βάντα·
ἤδη γὰρ Κρονίδης νεμεσᾷ Ζεὺς μέρμερα λεύσσων,
μηνίει δὲ φόνῳ στρατιᾶς καὶ σοῖσιν ἐπ’ ἔργοις,
καὶ πέμψει φῦλον θρασυκάρδιον εἰς χθόνα τὴν σήν,
οἵ σ’ ἀρχῆς παύσουσιν, ἀμείψῃ δ’ οἷά γ’ ἔρεξας.

ταραχθέντες δὲ οἱ στρατηγοὶ ἐπὶ τοῖς ῥηθεῖσιν διὰ ταχέων συνήγαγον τὸ πλῆθος εἰς ἐκκλησίαν καὶ ἐβουλεύοντο περὶ τοῦ γεγονότος φάσματος. ἔδοξεν οὖν τὸν μὲν Βούπλαγον παραχρῆμα μετὰ τὰ λεχθέντα ἔπη ἀποπνεύσαντα κατακαύ-σαντας θάψαι, καθαρμὸν δὲ ποιήσαντας τοῦ στρατοπέδου θῦσαι Διὶ ᾿Αποτροπαίῳ καὶ πέμψαι εἰς Δελφοὺς ἐρωτήσοντας τὸν θεόν τί χρὴ ποιεῖν.

Sweetest in Life: Exploring the Unknown

Sayings Attributed to Socrates in the Gnomologium Vaticanum.


“Socrates, when asked what is sweetest in life, said “education, virtue, and the investigation of the unknown”

Σωκράτης ὁ φιλόσοφος ἐρωτηθεὶς τί ἥδιστον ἐν τῷ βίῳ εἶπε· „παιδεία καὶ ἀρετὴ καὶ ἱστορία τῶν ἀγνοουμένων”.


“Socrates, when asked what possession is the most advantageous, said “a steadfast friend.”

Σωκράτης ἐρωτηθεὶς τί κτῆμα συμφορώτατον εἶπε· „φίλος βέβαιος.”


After he had been condemned to die by the Athenians and when his wife Xanthippe was weeping and saying “Socrates, you are dying unjustly”, Socrates the Athenian said to her “would you want me to die justly?”

Σωκράτης ᾿Αθηναῖος καταδικασθεὶς ὑπὸ ᾿Αθηναίων κατακρημνισθῆναι τῆς γυναικὸς Ξανθίππης κλαιούσης καὶ λεγούσης· „ὦ Σώκρατες, ἀδίκως ἀποθνήσκεις” εἶπε πρὸς αὐτήν· „σὺ οὖν ἐβούλου με δικαίως ἀποθνήσκειν;”


“When Socrates saw an uneducated wealthy man he said “Look, a golden sheep!”

<Σ>ωκράτης ἰδὼν πλούσιον ἀπαίδευτον „ἰδού,” φησί, „τὸ χρυσοῦν πρόβατον.”


“Socrates used to say that jealousy is a wound from the truth.”

Σωκράτης ἔλεγε τὸν φθόνον ἕλκος εἶναι τῆς ἀληθείας.


“When Socrates was asked if the world is spherical he said “I haven’t examined it from every side.”

Ὁ αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς εἰ σφαιροειδής ἐστιν ὁ κόσμος ἔφη· ” οὐχ ὑπερέκυψα.”


“When he was asked why he was not writing any treatises, Socrates said “because I see the unwritten selling for more than the written.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς διὰ τί συντάγματα οὐ γράφει ἔφη· „ὅτι τὰ ἄγραφα τῶν γεγραμμένων ὁρῶ πλείονος πωλούμενα.”

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Or, there’s this:


Sleep, Death, and Dying: Some Anecdotes for a Monday

These sayings come from the Gnomologium Vaticanum

128 “When Aesop was asked by someone how the greatest trouble might occur among 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 used to say that [we have] two teachers for death: the time before we were born and sleep.”

Βίων ἔλεγε δύο διδασκαλίας θανάτου εἶναι, τόν τε πρὸ τοῦ γενέσθαι χρόνον καὶ τὸν ὕπνον.

446 “Plato said that sleep was a short-lived death but death was a long-lived sleep.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἔφησε τὸν μὲν ὕπνον ὀλιγοχρόνιον θάνατον, τὸν δὲ θάνατον πολυχρόνιον ὕπνον.

64 “Anaxarkhos, the natural philosopher, when king Alexander said to him “I will hang you” responded: “Threaten others. It is no difference to me whether I rot above or below the earth.”

᾿Ανάξαρχος, ὁ φυσικὸς φιλόσοφος, ᾿Αλεξάνδρου τοῦ βασιλέως εἰπόντος αὐτῷ· „κρεμῶ σε”, „ἄλλοις”, ἔφη, „ἀπείλει· ἐμοὶ δὲ οὐδὲν διαφέρει ὑπὲρ γῆς ἢ κατὰ γῆς σήπεσθαι.”

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Sleep and Death on the Euphronios Krater

From God-Fearing to Atheist

Two Stories about the god-hating Diagoras

Sext. Emp. Against the Scientists 9. 53

“People say that Diagoras the Melian poet of Dithyramb was early on as god-fearing as any other person, since he began his own poem in this way: “everything happens thanks to god and chance.” But when he was harmed by someone who made a false oath and his assailant suffered nothing because of this, he began to say that “there is no god”.

Schol. in Ael. Arist. Rhet= ii 80 Dindorf

“The Diagoras in question was a philosopher. Once, when he was invited to a dinner-party by another philosopher, while his host was boiling lentil and was outside for some reason, the lentils could not be completely boiled because there was no fuel for the fire underneath them. So, Diagoras searched around and, once he found a statue of Herakles nearby, he broke it and tossed it in the fire, intoning “in addition to his twelve labors, divine Herakles now completes this thirteenth.”

Sext. Emp. Against the Scientists 9. 53

Διαγόρας δὲ ὁ Μήλιος διθυραμβοποιὸς ὥς φασι τὸ πρῶτον γενόμενος ὡς εἴ τις καὶ ἄλλος δεισιδαίμων, ὅς γε καὶ τῆς ποιήσεως ἑαυτοῦ κατήρξατο τὸν τρόπον τοῦτον· κατὰ δαίμονα καὶ τύχην πάντα τελεῖται· ἀδικηθεὶς δὲ ὑπό τινος ἐπιορκήσαντος καὶ μηδὲν ἕνεκα τούτου παθόντος μεθηρμόσατο εἰς τὸ λέγειν μὴ εἶναι θεόν.

Schol. in Ael. Arist. Rhet= ii 80 Dindorf

Διαγόρας οὗτος φιλόσοφος ἦν. κληθεὶς δέ ποτε εἰς ἑστιάσιν ὑφ᾿ ἑτέρου φιλοσόφου, ἕψοντος ἐκείνου φακῆν καὶ κατά τινα χρείαν ἔξω 〚ἐκείνου〛 χωρήσαντος, τῆς φακῆς μὴ τελέως ἑψηθῆναι δυναμένης διὰ τὸ μὴ ὑπέκκαυμα ἔχειν τὸ ὑποκείμενον πῦρ, αὐτός τε περιστραφεὶς ὧδε κἀκεῖσε καὶ τὸ τοῦ Ἡρακλέους ἄγαλμα προχείρως εὑρὼν καὶ συντρίψας ἐνίησι τῷ πυρὶ ἐπειπὼν ἐπ᾿ αὐτό· δώδεκα τοῖσιν ἄθλοις τρισκαιδέκατον τόνδ᾿ ἐτέλεσεν Ἡρακλῆς δῖος.

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Death Scenes for Your Favorite Tragedians

Valerius Maximus, Memorable Words and Deeds 9.12

“Aeschylus did not meet a willing death, but it is worth mentioning because of its novelty. As he was leaving the walls where he was staying in Italy, he stopped in a sunny spot. An eagle who was flying above him carrying a tortoise was tricked by his shining skull—for he had no hair—and it dropped it on him as if he were a stone so that it might eat the flesh from the broken shell. By that strike, the origin and font of a better type of tragedy was extinct.”


“But Euripides’ death was a bit more savage. As he was returning from dinner with Archelaus to the place where he was staying in Macedonia, he died, lacerated by the bites of dogs. Such a genius did not merit this cruel fate.”


“When Sophocles was extremely old, and he had entered a tragedy competition, he was agitated for too long over the uncertain outcome of the vote, but when he was the winner by a single vote, his joy was the cause of his death.”

Aeschyli vero poetae excessus quem ad modum non voluntarius sic propter novitatem casus referendus. in Sicilia moenibus urbis, in qua morabatur, egressus aprico in loco resedit. super quem aquila testudinem ferens elusa splendore capitis—erat enim capillis vacuum—perinde atque lapidi eam illisit, ut fractae carne vesceretur, eoque ictu origo et principium <per>fectioris tragoediae exstinctum est.

Sed atrocius aliquanto Euripides finitus est: ab Archelai enim regis cena in Macedonia domum hospitalem repetens, canum morsibus laniatus obiit: crudelitas fati tanto ingenio non debita.

Sophocles ultimae iam senectutis, cum in certamen tragoediam demisisset, ancipiti sententiarum eventu diu sollicitus, aliquando tamen una sententia victor causam mortis gaudium habuit.

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Athens: Sometimes You Want to Go Where Nobody Knows Your Name

Valerius Maximus, 8 ext 5: Democritus Unknown in Athens

“Democritus could have been esteemed for his wealth which was so immense that his father was able to provide a feast to all of Xerxes’ army with ease. In order that he might focus a free mind on the study of literature, he donated his wealth to his country keeping only a very small part for himself.

Even though he stayed in Athens for many years and dedicated himself to gathering and using knowledge, he lived unknown in the city, which he attests too in a certain book. My mind is awestruck with admiration of such a work ethic. And now it moves to something else.”

Democritus, cum divitiis censeri posset, quae tantae fuerunt ut pater eius Xerxis exercitui epulum dare ex facili potuerit, quo magis vacuo animo studiis litterarum esset operatus, parva admodum summa retenta patrimonium suum patriae donavit. Athenis autem compluribus annis moratus, omnia temporum momenta ad percipiendam et exercendam doctrinam conferens, ignotus illi urbi vixit, quod ipse quodam volumine testatur. stupet mens admiratione tantae industriae et iam transit alio.

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Master of Pleasure and Master of Pain: Three Anecdotes about Sophokles and Euripides

These are from the Gnomologium Vaticanum


“When Menander was asked what the difference was between Sophokles and Euripides he said that Sophokles makes people feel pleasure while Euripides makes his audience feel anger.”

Μένανδρος ἐρωτηθεὶς τί διαφέρουσιν ἀλλήλων Σοφοκλῆς καὶ Εὐριπίδης εἶπεν ὅτι Σοφοκλῆς μὲν τέρπεσθαι ποιεῖ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους, Εὐριπίδης δὲ σκυθρωπάζειν τοὺς ἀκροατάς.



“Sophokles the tragic poet, after he heard that Euripides died in Macedonia, said “The whetstone of my poems is gone.”

Σοφοκλῆς, ὁ τῶν τραγῳδιῶν ποιητής, ἀκούσας Εὐριπίδην ἐν Μακεδονίᾳ τεθνηκέναι εἶπεν· „ἀπώλετο ἡ τῶν ἐμῶν ποιημάτων ἀκόνη.”



“When he was asked why he made people with noble characters and Euripides made those of base ones, Sophokles answered “Because I make people how they should be and he makes people as they are.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς διὰ τί αὐτὸς μὲν ποιεῖ τὰ ἤθη τῶν ἀνθρώπων χρηστά, Εὐριπίδης δὲ φαῦλα „ὅτι” ἔφη „ἐγὼ μέν, οἵους ἔδει εἶναι, τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ποιῶ, ἐκεῖνος δέ, ὁποῖοί εἰσιν.”

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Wondrous Wednesday: Partridges, Sheep-gut, And Lands Free of Snakes and Boars

Antigonus Paradoxographus, Hist. Mirab. 6-11

6 “This genre of list-making might touch upon those partridges which are described in Attica and Boiotia. Some of them are melodious, while some of them are agreed to be completely weak-voiced.”

Πίπτοι δ’ ἂν τὸ γένος τῆς ἐκλογῆς εἰς τοὺς λεγομένους ἐν τῇ ᾿Αττικῇ καὶ Βοιωτίᾳ πέρδικας, ὧν τοὺς μὲν εὐφώνους, τοὺς δὲ τελείως ἰσχνοφώνους ὁμολογεῖται γίγνεσθαι.

7 “There is a particular thing about sheep intestines—those of rams are silent, but those of females are euphonious. Some suppose this is why that poet—who is a busybody and way too specific—wrote “he stretched the seven strings of female sheep.”

῎Ιδιον δὲ καὶ τὸ περὶ τὰ ἔντερα τῶν προβάτων· τὰ μὲν γὰρ τῶν κριῶν ἐστιν ἄφωνα, τὰ δὲ τῶν θηλέων εὔφωνα. ὅθεν καὶ τὸν ποιητὴν ὑπολάβοι τις εἰρηκέναι, πολυπράγμονα πανταχοῦ καὶ περιττὸν ὄντα, ἑπτὰ δὲ θηλυτέρων ὀΐων ἐτανύσσατο χορδάς.

8 “No less amazing than this but a little more well known concerns the thorn in Sicily which is called kaktos. Whenever a deer stumbles onto it and is wounded, its bones become soundless and useless for flutes. This is how Philêtas also has explained it when he said “The fawn could sing once it loses its life / if it has guarded against the strike of the sharp kaktos.”

8 Οὐχ ἧττον δὲ τούτου θαυμαστόν, καθωμιλημένον δὲ μᾶλλον τὸ περὶ τὴν ἐν τῇ Σικελίᾳ ἄκανθαν τὴν καλουμένην κάκτον· εἰς ἣν ὅταν ἔλαφος ἐμβῇ καὶ τραυματισθῇ, τὰ ὀστᾶ ἄφωνα καὶ ἄχρηστα πρὸς αὐλοὺς ἴσχει.  ὅθεν καὶ ὁ Φιλητᾶς  ἐξηγήσατο περὶ αὐτῆς εἴπας·

          γηρύσαιτο δὲ νεβρὸς ἀπὸ ζωὴν ὀλέσασα, / ὀξείης κάκτου τύμμα φυλαξαμένη.

9 “In the Islands of the Lemnians, which are called the Neai, there are no partridges and if anyone brings some, they die. Some report a situation more ominous than this—that [they die] when they see the land.”

9᾿Εν δὲ ταῖς τῶν Λημνίων νήσοις ταῖς καλουμέναις Νέαις πέρδικες οὐ γίνονται, ἀλλὰ κἂν κομίσῃ τις ἀπόλλυνται. ἔνιοι δὲ τούτου τερατωδέστερον ἱστοροῦσιν, ὅτι κἂν ἴδωσιν τὴν χώραν.

10“Even though Boiotia possesses a multitude of molerats, this animal is absent only in Korôneia and it dies if it is brought in. It is the same way with wolves and owls in Crete, a place where they say the land will not abide any deadly animals.”

10 Τῆς δὲ Βοιωτίας ἐχούσης πλήθει πολλοὺς ἀσπάλακας, ἐν τῇ Κορωνικῇ μόνῃ οὐ γίνεσθαι τοῦτο τὸ ζῷον, ἀλλὰ κἂν εἰσαχθῇ τελευτᾶν. καθάπερ οἱ <λύκοι καὶ αἱ> γλαῦκες ἐν Κρήτῃ, ἐν ᾗ λέγουσιν οὐδὲ ζῷον θανάσιμον οὐδὲν τὴν χώραν φέρειν.

11 “In Astupalaia there are no snakes, nor hares in Ithaka, nor a wild boar in Libya nor deer, nor is there a weasel in Rheneia near Delos, nor is there a guinea-fowl to be seen anywhere on Leros.”

 ᾿Εν ᾿Αστυπαλαίᾳ δὲ ὄφεις οὐ γίνονται, οὐδὲ ἐν ᾿Ιθάκῃ λαγῶς, οὐδὲ ἐν Λιβύῃ ὗς ἀγρία οὐδὲ ἔλαφοι, οὐδ’ ἐν ῾Ρηνείᾳ τῇ πρὸς Δήλῳ γαλῆ, οὐδὲ μελεαγρὶς οὐδαμοῦ ἄλλῃ <ἢ ἐν Λέρῳ> ὁρᾶται.

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