Wondrous Wednesday: How Sicily Became an Island and Shooting Arrows at the Gods

Paradoxographus Vaticanus, 39-46

39 “Akulios the Roman Historian says that before a cataclysm Sicily was not an island as it is today but it was part of the mainland connected to what later became Italy. It was cut off from the Apennines from a deluge of floods at their roots, and the land was broken at Skullaion and the island was made. This is why that side of Italy is called Rhêgion.”

᾿Ακύλιος ὁ ῾Ρωμαῖος ἱστορικός φησι τὴν Σικελίαν πρὸ τοῦ κατακλυσμοῦ μὴ νῆσον εἶναι ὡς σήμερον, ἀλλ’ ἤπειρον γενέσθαι συνημμένην τῇ ὕστερον ᾿Ιταλίᾳ· ἐκ δὲ τῆς ἐπικλύσεως τῶν ῥευμάτων τῶν ῥιζῶν ἀποσπασθεῖσαν τοῦ ᾿Απεννίνου, κατὰ τὸ Σκύλλαιον ῥαγείσης τῆς ἠπείρου, νῆσον ἀποκαταστῆναι καὶ διὰ τοῦτο ῾Ρήγιον ἀποκληθῆναι τὸ πλευρὸν τῆς ᾿Ιταλίας ἐκεῖνο.

40 “The Persians punish those who bring harm to a pyre or piss in a river wash clean in it with death.”

Πέρσαι τοὺς προσφέροντας τῷ πυρὶ βλάβος ἢ ποταμῷ ἐνουροῦντας ἢ ἐναπονιζομένους θανάτῳ ζημιοῦσιν.

41 “They say that the Getai play drums along with Zeus’ thunder and shoot arrows into the sky to threaten the god.”

Γέτας φασὶ ταῖς τοῦ Διὸς βρονταῖς ἐπιτυμπανίζειν καὶ τοξεύοντας εἰς τὸν ἀέρα ἀπειλεῖν τῷ θεῷ.

42 “Among the Padaioi, an Indian tribe, the wisest of those who are present begin the sacrifices. And he asks from the gods for noting other than a sense of justice.”

᾿Εν Παδαίοις, ᾿Ινδικῷ ἔθνει, ὁ συνετώτατος τῶν παρόντων κατάρχεται τῶν ἱερῶν· αἰτεῖται δὲ παρὰ τῶν θεῶν οὐδὲν ἄλλο πλὴν δικαιοσύνης.

“Alexander the son of Philip ruled the Macedonians for 14 years. He conquered the Persians at the Granicus in his [24th year]. For this reason he used to honor that day especially and sacrified to the gods because it seem that the greatest things were accomplished in that fourth. And if he ever wanted to do something he waited for the fourth.”

43᾿Αλέξανδρος ὁ Φιλίππου τὴν τῶν Μακεδόνων ἀρχὴν <ἦρξεν> τεσσαρεσκαιδέκατος. ἐνίκησε δὲ Πέρσας ἐπὶ Γρανικῷ κδ’· διὸ καὶ τὴν ἡμέραν σφόδρα ἐτίμα καὶ θεοῖς ἔθυεν, ὅτι ἐν ταύτῃ τῇ τετάρτῃ δηλονότι τὰ μέγιστα κατεπράχθη. καὶ εἴ ποτέ τι δρᾶν ἐβούλετο, περιέμενε τὴν τετράδα.

44 Among the Galataians, whoever flees after committing injustice in the worst ways, resolved it if he gave a horse or a trumpet.”

Παρὰ Γαλάταις ἐάν, <ὅσ>τις τὰ μέγιστα ἀδικήσας κατέφυγεν, ἐπι<δῷ> ἵππον ἢ σάλπιγγα, ἀπελύετο.

45 “These same people, when they are making plans about war, communicate with women and whatever the women decide wins the day. If they are defeated while they battle, they cut off the heads of the women who gave them advice about conducting the war, and they throw them from the land.”

οὗτοι περὶ πολέμου βουλευόμενοι ταῖς γυναιξὶν ἀνακοινοῦνται, καὶ ὅ τι ἂν γνῶσιν αἱ γυναῖκες, τοῦτο κρατεῖ· ἐὰν δὲ ἡττηθῶσι πολεμοῦντες, τῶν γυναικῶν, αἳ συνεβουλεύσαντο πόλεμον ἄρασθαι, τὰς κεφαλὰς ἀποτεμόντες ἔξω ῥίπτουσι
τῆς γῆς.

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Book of Hours, MS M.1004 fol. 43v -The Morgan Library & Museum

Some Less Famous Sayings of Famous Men

From the Gnomologicum Vaticanum

272

“When Euripides was asked why he hated both wicked and noble men he said “I hate the wicked men because of their corruption and the good men because they don’t hate the evil.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς διὰ τί [αὐτὸς] τούς τε πονηροὺς καὶ ἀγαθοὺς μισεῖ ἔφη· „τοὺς μὲν πονηροὺς διὰ τὴν μοχθηρίαν, τοὺς δὲ ἀγαθοὺς ὅτι τοὺς κακοὺς οὐ μισοῦσιν”.

420

“When Oinopides saw a youth who had many books he said “don’t put them in a chest but in your heart.”

Οἰνοπίδης ὁρῶν μειράκιον πολλὰ βιβλία κτώμενον ἔφη· „μὴ τῇ κιβωτῷ, ἀλλὰ τῷ στήθει.”

426

“Plato used to say “It is not fine for an educated man to converse with the uneducated, just as it is for a sober man to talk with the drunk”

Πλάτων ἔφη· „οὐ καλὸν πεπαιδευμένον ἐν ἀπαιδεύτοις διαλέγεσθαι, ὥσπερ οὐδὲ νήφοντα ἐν μεθύουσιν.”

 

309

“Herodotus the historiographer when asked by someone how people can be of good spirit, said “if they don’t do [too] many things.”

῾Ηρόδοτος ὁ ἱστοριογράφος ἐρωτηθεὶς ὑπό τινος πῶς ἂν δύναιντο <οἱ> ἄνθρωποι εὐθυμεῖν εἶπεν· „ἐὰν μὴ πολλὰ πρήσσωσιν.”

 

53

“When [Aristotle] was asked what man has equal to god he said “to do good deeds” ‘

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς ὑπό τινος, τί ἄνθρωπος ἶσον ἔχει θεῷ, εἶπε· „τὸ εὐεργετεῖν”.

 

539

“When Philip was asked who blinded his eye, he said “Love for Greece.”

Φίλιππος ἐρωτηθεὶς τίς αὐτῷ τὸν ὀφθαλμὸν ἐξέκοψεν, εἶπεν· „ὁ τῆς ῾Ελλάδος ἔρως.”

 

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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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Plotinus Sounds Like a Cult Leader

Eunapius, 456 Life of Porphyry

“Longinus at that time was like a breathing library, a walking museum. And if anyone at all judged ancient poets and criticized one of them, his evaluation did not gain strength unless Longinus’ judgment prevailed first. After [Porphyry] pursued his education in this way and he was admired by all, because he desired to see Rome that greatest city so that he might master the city with his wisdom, then he went there quickly and entered the group with the greatest Plotinus. He completely forgot everyone else and went about dedicating himself to him.

He dedicated himself to his studies hungrily and his original words and inspired teachings, and it was satisfying for that time to be his student, as he himself says. And then because he was overcome by the majesty of his words he hated his body and that he was human.

After he sailed to Sicily to the strait and Charybdis where Odysseus is also said to have sailed, and he could not bear to see any city or to hear the voice of people, and in this way tried to keep the experience of pleasure and pain away from himself. He went across to Lilybaeum which is one of the three promonitories of Sicily, the one that looks out and stretches toward Libya.

He lied down there groaning and self-harming, refusing to take any food and avoiding the travel of humans. But great Plotinus was no poor guard for these things, he followed him by foot….or he was asking some youth who fled from him and found him lying there. He furnished words to him which revived his soul as it was about to fly from his body. And he also strengthened his body enough to meet the return of his soul.”

 

Λογγῖνος δὲ κατὰ τὸν χρόνον ἐκεῖνον βιβλιοθήκη τις ἦν ἔμψυχος καὶ περιπατοῦν μουσεῖον, καὶ κρίνειν γε τοὺς παλαιοὺς καὶ εἴ τις κατέγνω τινὸς τῶν παλαιῶν, οὐ τὸ δοξασθὲν ἐκράτει πρότερον, ἀλλ᾿ ἡ Λογγίνου πάντως ἐκράτει κρίσις. οὕτω δὲ ἀχθεὶς τὴν πρώτην παιδείαν καὶ ὑπὸ πάντων ἀποβλεπόμενος, τὴν μεγίστην Ῥώμην ἰδεῖν ἐπιθυμήσας, ἵνα κατάσχῃ διὰ σοφίας τὴν πόλιν, ἐπειδὴ τάχιστα εἰς αὐτὴν ἀφίκετο καὶ τῷ μεγίστῳ Πλωτίνῳ συνῆλθεν εἰς ὁμιλίαν, πάντων ἐπελάθετο τῶν ἄλλων, καὶ προσέθετο φέρων ἑαυτὸ ἐκείνῳ. ἀκορέστως δὲ τῆς παιδείας ἐμφορούμενος καὶ τῶν πηγαίων ἐκείνων καὶ τεθειασμένων λόγων, χρόνον μέν τινα εἰς τὴν ἀκρόασιν ἤρκεσεν, ὡς αὐτός φησιν, εἶτα ὑπὸ τοῦ μεγέθους τῶν λόγων νικώμενος, τό τε σῶμα καὶ τὸ ἄνθρωπος εἶναι ἐμίσησε, καὶ διαπλεύσας εἰς Σικελίαν τὸν πορθμὸν καὶ τὴν Χάρυβδιν, ᾗπερ Ὀδυσσεὺς ἀναπλεῦσαι λέγεται, πόλιν μὲν οὔτε ἰδεῖν ὑπέμεινεν, οὔτε ἀνθρώπων ἀκοῦσαι φωνῆς (οὕτω τὸ λυπούμενον αὑτῷ1 καὶ ἡδόμενον ἀπέθετο), συντείνας δὲ ἐπὶ Λιλύβαιον ἑαυτὸν (τὸ δέ ἐστι τῶν τριῶν ἀκρωτηρίων τῆς Σικελίας τὸ πρὸς Λιβύην ἀνατεῖνον καὶ ὁρῶν), ἔκειτο καταστένων καὶ ἀποκαρτερῶν, τροφήν τε οὐ προσιέμενος, καὶ ἀνθρώπων ἀλεείνων πάτον. οὐδ᾿ ἀλαοσκοπιὴν ὁ μέγας εἶχε Πλωτῖνος ἐπὶ τούτοις, ἀλλὰ κατὰ πόδας ἑπόμενος,2 . . . . . . . . . . . . ἢ τὸν ἀποπεφευγότα νεανίσκον ἀναζητῶν, ἐπιτυγχάνει κειμένῳ, καὶ λόγων τε πρὸς αὐτὸν ηὐπόρησε τὴν ψυχὴν ἀνακαλουμένων ἄρτι ἐξίπτασθαι3 τοῦ σώματος μέλλουσαν, καὶ τὸ σῶμα ἔρρωσεν ἐς κατοχὴν τῆς ψυχῆς.

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Porphyry and Plotinus, Getting Serious

Fantastic Friday: Adventures in Ethnography

Paradoxographus Palatinus 46-50

46 “The Dardanians, an Illyrian tribe, bathe themselves three times in their lives, when they are born and when they die. When they send an embassy to their enemies, they take a lamb and a branch of a tree. If their enemies accept their treaties, they leave what they brought. If they don’t, they take it back again.”

Δαρδανεῖς, ᾿Ιλλυρικὸν ἔθνος, τρὶς ἐν τῷ βίῳ λούονται, ὅταν γεννῶνται καὶ ὅταν τελευτῶσιν. ὅταν δὲ ἐπικηρυκεύωνται τοῖς πολεμίοις, ἄρνα κομίζουσι καὶ κλάδον δένδρου· καὶ ἐὰν μὲν δέχωνται οἱ πολέμιοι τὰς σπονδάς, καταλείπουσιν ἃ ἐκόμισαν, εἰ δὲ μή, πάλιν αὐτὰ ἀποφέρουσιν.

47 “Some of the Skythians are called man-eaters because they drink from human skulls. They also make handtowels by working the skin of the heads of their enemies. Then they flay the rest of the body with claws and put them on their horses.”

Σκυθῶν οἱ ἀνδροφάγοι λεγόμενοι ἐκ μὲν κρανίων πίνουσιν ἀνθρωπίνων, τὸ δὲ δέρμα τῆς κεφαλῆς τῶν πο-λεμίων ἐργαζόμενοι ποιοῦσι χειρόμακτρον, τὸ δὲ λοιπὸν σῶμα ἐκδείραντες σὺν τοῖς ὄνυξιν ἐπιβάλλουσιν ἐπὶ τοὺς ἵππους.

48 “The Sauromatai dine for three days until they are full. They obey women in everything and themselves wear female vestments. If any of their enemies flee to the fire of their hearth and darken their forehead with ashes, they no longer harm them, as if they were a household slave. They do not allow a virgin to settle down with a man before she kills an enemy.”

Σαυρομάται διὰ τριῶν ἡμερῶν σιτοῦνται εἰς πλήρωσιν. ταῖς γυναιξὶ δὲ πάντα πείθονται, καὶ αὐτοὶ δὲ φοροῦσι γυναικεῖαν ἐσθῆτα. ἐὰν δέ τις τῶν πολεμίων
καταφύγῃ πρὸς τῷ ἐπὶ τῆς ἑστίας πυρὶ καὶ τοῖς ἄνθραξι τὸ πρόσωπον μολύνῃ, οὐκέτι αὐτόν, ὡς οἰκέτην, ἀδικοῦσιν. παρθένον δὲ οὐ πρότερον συνοικίζουσιν εἰς ἄνδρα, πρὶν ἂν πολέμιον κτάνῃ.

49 “Among the Phrygians, if someone kills a farming ox or steals some of the equipment for farming, he is punished with death.”

Παρὰ Φρυξίν, ἐάν τις γεωργὸν βοῦν ἀποκτείνῃ ἢ σκεῦος τῶν περὶ τὴν γεωργίαν κλέψῃ, θανάτῳ ζημιοῦται.

50 “The Lykioi honor women more than men and are named from the mother not the father. They leave their inheritance to daughters not to sons. If anyone who is free is caught stealing, he becomes a slave. They do not provide witnesses in trials immediately, but after a month.”

Λύκιοι τὰς γυναῖκας μᾶλλον ἢ τοὺς ἄνδρας τιμῶσι καὶ καλοῦνται μητρόθεν, οὐ πατρόθεν· τὰς δὲ κληρονομίας ταῖς θυγατράσιν ἀπολείπουσιν, οὐ τοῖς υἱοῖς. ὃς δ’ ἂν ἐλεύθερος ἁλῷ κλέπτων, δοῦλος γίνεται. τὰς δὲ μαρτυρίας ἐν ταῖς δίκαις οὐκ εὐθὺς παρέχονται, ἀλλὰ μετὰ μῆνα.

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KBR Ms.9961-62 Peterborough Psalter Folio 091v

Wandering Souls and Empty Bodies

These tales are popular among the paradoxographers. Apollonios also tells of Epimenides and Aristeas, and Hermotimus.

 Pliny the Elder 7. 174-5 

“This is the mortal condition—we are born to face these chance occurrences and others like them so that we ought not even trust death when it comes to a human. We find, among other examples, so soul of Hermotimos the Clazomenian which was in the habit of wandering with his body left behind and after a long journey to announce what they could not know unless they were present. Meanwhile, the body remained half-alive until it was cremated by some enemies called the Cantharidae who, ultimately, stole from the returning body as if taking away a sheath.

We also know of Aristeas of Procennesus whose soul was seen alighting from his mouth in the image of a crow—along with the excessive fiction that accompanies this tale. I also approach the story of Epimenides of Knossos in a similar way: when he was a boy and tired out by heat and a journey he went to sleep in a cave and slumbered for 57 years. Upon waking, he wondering and the shape of things and the change as if it were just the next day. Even though old age overcame him in the same number of days as years slept, he still lived to 157 years old.

The gender of women seems to be especially susceptible to this ill because of the disruption of the womb—which, if corrected can restore proper breathing. That work famous among the Greeks of Heraclides pertains to this subject as well—he tells the story of a woman returned to life after being dead for seven days.”

haec est conditio mortalium: ad has et eiusmodi occasiones fortunae gignimur, ut de homine ne morti quidem debeat credi. reperimus inter exempla Hermotimi Clazomenii animam relicto corpore errare solitam vagamque e longinquo multa adnuntiare quae nisi a praesente nosci non possent, corpore interim semianimi, donec cremato eo inimici qui Cantharidae vocabantur remeanti animae veluti vaginam ademerint; Aristeae etiam visam evolantem ex ore in Proconneso corvi effigie, cum magna quae sequitur hanc fabulositate. quam equidem et in Gnosio Epimenide simili modo accipio, puerum aestu et itinere fessum in specu septem et quinquaginta dormisse annis, rerum faciem mutationemque mirantem velut postero die experrectum, hinc pari numero dierum senio ingruente, ut tamen in septimum et quinquagesimum atque centesimum vitae duraret annum. feminarum sexus huic malo videtur maxime opportunus conversione volvae, quae si corrigatur, spiritus restituitur. huc pertinet nobile illud apud Graecos volumen Hexaclidis septem diebus feminae exanimis ad vitam revocatae.

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Yates_thompson_ms_14_f070v_detail

Betrayed by Men; Saved By Dolphins–The Story of Arion

Herodotus 1.35

“Periander was ruling Korinth as a tyrant. For the Korinthians claim (and the Lesbians agree with them) that the most wonderful thing happened in his life: Arion of Methymna was carried to Tainaron on a dolphin. He was a kithara player second to none at that time and the first man we know of who composed, named and taught the dithyramb at Corinth.

They say that this Arion spent much time at Periander’s palace but desired to sail to Italy and Sicily. After he made a lot of money there, he wanted to return to Korinth again. He left from Tarentum and hired a ship of Korinthian men because he trusted no one more than Korinthians. But once on the sea, they conspired to throw Arion out to keep his money. After he learned this, he was begging, offering money to them, trying to bargain for his life. But he was not able to persuade him—the sailors commanded him either to do himself in, so that he might have a burial on ground, or to leap into the sea as soon as possible.

When Arion realized he was at the end, he asked, since it might seem right to them, that he appear in full dress standing on the benches singing. And he promised to kill himself after singing. This came as a delight to them if they could hear the best mortal singer at work. They retreated to the middle of the ship from the stern and he donned all his equipment and took up the kithara. While standing on the benches he sang the entire Orthian nome. When he was done with it, he threw himself into the sea in full costume.

They sailed back to Korinth but people claim a dolphin picked him up and took him to Tainaros. Once he got to land, he went to Koronth with all his stuff and when he got there told the whole story. Since Periander distrusted him, he held Arion under guard, separated from everyone. He waited for the sailors. When they were present, they were asked if they could say anything about Arion. When they were claiming that they left him safe somewhere in Italy and he was doing well in Tarentum, he appeared to them looking just like he did when he leaped out of the boat. The sailors were shocked and were not able to deny it since they had been completely refuted. The Korinthians and Lesbians say these things. And there is a bronze dedication of Arion in Tarentum, not very large: a man riding a dolphin.”

ἐτυράννευε δὲ ὁ Περίανδρος Κορίνθου· τῷ δὴ λέγουσι Κορίνθιοι (ὁμολογέουσι δέ σφι Λέσβιοι) ἐν τῷ βίῳ θῶμα μέγιστον παραστῆναι, Ἀρίονα τὸν Μηθυμναῖον ἐπὶ δελφῖνος ἐξενειχθέντα ἐπὶ Ταίναρον, ἐόντα κιθαρῳδὸν τῶν τότε ἐόντων οὐδενὸς δεύτερον, καὶ διθύραμβον πρῶτον ἀνθρώπων τῶν ἡμεῖς ἴδμεν ποιήσαντά τε καὶ ὀνομάσαντα καὶ διδάξαντα ἐν Κορίνθῳ. τοῦτον τὸν Ἀρίονα λέγουσι, τὸν πολλὸν τοῦ χρόνου διατρίβοντα παρὰ Περιάνδρῳ, ἐπιθυμῆσαι πλῶσαι ἐς Ἰταλίην τε καὶ Σικελίην, ἐργασάμενον δὲ χρήματα μεγάλα θελῆσαι ὀπίσω ἐς Κόρινθον ἀπικέσθαι. ὁρμᾶσθαι μέν νυν ἐκ Τάραντος, πιστεύοντα δὲ οὐδαμοῖσι μᾶλλον ἢ Κορινθίοισι μισθώσασθαι πλοῖον ἀνδρῶν Κορινθίων· τοὺς δὲ ἐν τῷ πελάγει ἐπιβουλεύειν τὸν Ἀρίονα ἐκβαλόντας ἔχειν τὰ χρήματα· τὸν δὲ συνέντα τοῦτο λίσσεσθαι, χρήματα μέν σφι προϊέντα, ψυχὴν δὲ παραιτεόμενον. οὐκ ὦν δὴ πείθειν αὐτὸν τούτοισι, ἀλλὰ κελεύειν τοὺς πορθμέας ἢ αὐτὸν διαχρᾶσθαί μιν, ὡς ἂν ταφῆς ἐν γῇ τύχῃ, ἢ ἐκπηδᾶν ἐς τὴν θάλασσαν τὴν ταχίστην. ἀπειληθέντα δὲ τὸν Ἀρίονα ἐς ἀπορίην παραιτήσασθαι, ἐπειδή σφι οὕτω δοκέοι, περιιδεῖν αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ σκευῇ πάσῃ στάντα ἐν τοῖσι ἑδωλίοισι ἀεῖσαι· ἀείσας δὲ ὑπεδέκετο ἑωυτὸν κατεργάσεσθαι. καὶ τοῖσι ἐσελθεῖν γὰρ ἡδονὴν εἰ μέλλοιεν ἀκούσεσθαι τοῦ ἀρίστου ἀνθρώπων ἀοιδοῦ, ἀναχωρῆσαι ἐκ τῆς πρύμνης ἐς μέσην νέα. τὸν δὲ ἐνδύντα τε πᾶσαν τὴν σκευὴν καὶ λαβόντα τὴν κιθάρην, στάντα ἐν τοῖσι ἑδωλίοισι διεξελθεῖν νόμον τὸν ὄρθιον, τελευτῶντος δὲ τοῦ νόμου ῥῖψαί μιν ἐς τὴν θάλασσαν ἑωυτὸν ὡς εἶχε σὺν τῇ σκευῇ πάσῃ. καὶ τοὺς μὲν ἀποπλέειν ἐς Κόρινθον, τὸν δὲ δελφῖνα λέγουσι ὑπολαβόντα ἐξενεῖκαι ἐπὶ Ταίναρον. ἀποβάντα δὲ αὐτὸν χωρέειν ἐς Κόρινθον σὺν τῇ σκευῇ καὶ ἀπικόμενον ἀπηγέεσθαι πᾶν τὸ γεγονός. Περίανδρον δὲ ὑπὸ ἀπιστίης Ἀρίονα μὲν ἐν φυλακῇ ἔχειν οὐδαμῇ μετιέντα, ἀνακῶς δὲ ἔχειν τῶν πορθμέων· ὡς δὲ ἄρα παρεῖναι αὐτούς, κληθέντας ἱστορέεσθαι εἴ τι λέγοιεν περὶ Ἀρίονος. φαμένων δὲ ἐκείνων ὡς εἴη τε σῶς περὶ Ἰταλίην καί μιν εὖ πρήσσοντα λίποιεν ἐν Τάραντι, ἐπιφανῆναί σφι τὸν Ἀρίονα ὥσπερ ἔχων ἐξεπήδησε· καὶ τοὺς ἐκπλαγέντας οὐκ ἔχειν ἔτι ἐλεγχομένους ἀρνέεσθαι. ταῦτα μέν νυν Κορίνθιοί τε καὶ Λέσβιοι λέγουσι, καὶ Ἀρίονος ἔστι ἀνάθημα χάλκεον οὐ μέγα ἐπὶ Ταινάρῳ, ἐπὶ δελφῖνος ἐπεὼν ἄνθρωπος.

 

3rd Century Mosaic from Tunisia, Getty

What It Takes to Understand Vergil

Macrobius, Saturnalia 5.14-15

“Has it been proved to you that Vergil cannot be understood by someone who is ignorant of the sound of Latin and is equally distant to one who has not drunk Greek learning deep with the fullest thirst?

If I did not fear making you antsy, I could fill huge volumes with the material he translated from the most obscure Greek teachings. But these assertions are enough to support the thesis I have proposed.”

probatumne vobis est Vergilium, ut ab eo intellegi non potest qui sonum Latinae vocis ignorat, ita nec ab eo posse qui Graecam non hauserit extrema satietate doctrinam?

nam si fastidium facere non timerem, ingentia poteram volumina de his quae a penitissima Graecorum doctrina transtulisset implere: sed ad fidem rei propositae relata sufficient.’

 

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Drinking with Roman Usurpers

Firmus was, according to the Historia Augusta, a usurper. The historical record is less clear.

Historia Augusta 29.IV

“Firmus was nevertheless of huge stature with prominent eyes, curly hair, a scarred forehead, a darker complexion on his face while most of his body was white, although it was tough and hairy, so that many used to call him a Cyclops. He used to eat a lot of meat and allegedly ate an ostrich in a day. He drank some wine and a lot of water. He was extremely strong in mind, most robust in nerves to the extent that he overcame Tritannus, whom Varro mentions. For he endured an anvil placed on his chest and struck constantly while he seemed to be rising up rather than lying down because he was face up supporting himself on his hands.

Yet, [Firmus] had a drinking competition with Aurelian’s generals when they wanted to test him. For, when a certain Burburus, one of the standard-bearers and a notable drinker, challenged him to a drinking context, he sucked down two pails of wine but was still sober after the banquet. When Burburus asked him, “Why didn’t you drink the dregs?” he responded “Fool, the earth is not drunk.” We are pursuing lighter notes here, we must speak of more important ones.”

Fuit tamen Firmus statura ingenti, oculis foris eminentibus, capillo crispo, fronte vulnerata, vultu nigriore, reliqua parte corporis candidus sed pilosus atque hispidus, ita ut eum plerique Cyclopem vocarent. 2carne multa vescebatur, struthionem ad diem comedisse fertur. vini non multum bibit, aquae plurimum. mente firmissimus, nervis robustissimus, ita ut Tritannum vinceret, cuius Varro meminit. 3nam et incudem superpositam pectori constanter aliis tundentibus pertulit, cum ipse reclinis ac resupinus et curvatus in manus penderet potius quam iaceret.  fuit tamen ei contentio cum Aureliani ducibus ad bibendum, si quando eum temptare voluissent. nam quidam Burburus nomine de numero vexillariorum, notissimus potator, cum ad bibendum eundem provocasset, situlas duas plenas mero duxit et toto postea convivio sobrius fuit; et cum ei Burburus diceret, “Quare non faeces bibisti?” respondit ille, “Stulte, terra non bibitur.” levia persequimur, cum maiora dicenda sint.

 

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Fantastic Friday 2: Further Adventures in Ethnography

Paradoxographus Vaticanus, 51-55

51 “The Assyrians sell their daughters in the marketplace to whoever wants to settle down with them. First the most well-born and most beautiful and then the rest in order. Whenever they get to the least attractive, they announce how much someone is willing to take to live with them and they add this consolation price from the fee charged for the desirable girls to these [last ones].”

᾿Ασσύριοι τὰς παρθένους ἐν ἀγορᾷ πωλοῦσι τοῖς θέλουσι συνοικεῖν, πρῶτον μὲν τὰς εὐγενεστάτας καὶ καλλίστας, εἶτα τὰς λοιπὰς ἐφεξῆς· ὅταν δὲ ἔλθωσι ἐπὶ τὰς φαυλοτάτας, κηρύττουσι πόσον τις θέλει προσλαβὼν ταύταις συνοικεῖν, καὶ τὸ συναχθὲν ἐκ τῆς τῶν εὐπρεπῶν τιμῆς ταύταις προστίθενται [ταῖς παρθένοις].

52 “If it is impossible to do something, the Persians do not mention it. Among the Persians, whoever considers a new pleasure, obtains heaps of it. [Among the Persians] whoever is discovered by the king grieves throughout his life and drinks a stone draft. Whenever the king dies, all of his claims are released and people take what they want and act lawlessly for three days until, once they arrive at the royal doors, they seek a new king who will resolve the lawlessness. [Among the Persians] if the king designates someone to whip, he is thankful as if he received something good.”

Πέρσαι, ὃ μὴ ποιεῖν ἔξεστιν, οὐδὲ λέγουσιν. παρὰ Πέρσαις, ὃς ἂν ἡδονὴν καινὴν ἐπινοήσῃ, σῶρα λαμβάνει. [Παρὰ Πέρσαις] ὃς ἂν καταγνωσθῇ παρὰ
βασιλέως, πενθεῖ διὰ βίον καὶ ποτηρίῳ πίνει πετρίνῳ. ὅταν δὲ ὁ βασιλεὺς ἀποθάνῃ, ἀφίενται τῶν ἐγκλημάτων πάντες καὶ ἁρπάζουσιν ἂ θέλουσι καὶ παρανομοῦσιν ἐπὶ
τρεῖς ἡμέρας, ἕως ἂν ἐπὶ τὰς βασιλείους θύρας ἐλθόντες αἰτήσωνται βασιλέα, ὅστις αὐτοὺς ἀπαλλάξει τῆς ἀνομίας. [Παρὰ Πέρσαις] ἐάν τινα προστάξῃ βασιλεὺς μαστιγῶσαι, εὐχαριστεῖ ὡς ἀγαθοῦ τυχών.

53 “Among the Indians, if anyone ruins the hand or eye of an artisan he is punished with death.”

Παρὰ τοῖς ᾿Ινδοῖς ὁ τεχνίτου πηρώσας χεῖρα ἢ ὀφθαλμὸν θανάτῳ ζημιοῦται.

54 “Among the Egyptians it is not allowed for the illiterate to provide testimony.”

Παρ’ Αἰγυπτίοις μαρτυρεῖν ἀγραμμάτῳ οὐκ ἔξεστιν.

55 “the Libyan Atarantes judge the best of their daughters to be the ones who remained virgins for the longest time.”

᾿Ατάραντες Λίβυες τῶν θυγατέρων ἀρίστας κρίνουσι τὰς πλεῖστον χρόνον μεμενηκυίας παρθένους.

 

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The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. 5, fol. 36v