Year-End Advice for Teachers: How to Leave a Party

Suetonius, Lives of Illustrious Men (On Rhetoricians)

28 Marcus Epidius, famous for blackmailing people, started a school of elocution and among others he taught Marcus Antonius and Augustus. When these two were once mocking Tiverous Cannutius because he aligned himself with the powerful faction of the the ex-consul Isauricus, Cannutius responded that he would prefer to be a student of Isaurius instead of a slanderer like Epidius.

This Epidius maintained that he was descended from Gaius Epidius from Nucerina. People claim that he jumped into the headwaters of the Sarnus river and came out soon after with golden horns on his head. Immediately he vanished and was counted in the number of the gods.”

Epidius, calumnia notatus, ludum dicendi aperuit docuitque inter ceteros M. Antonium et Augustum; quibus quondam Ti. Cannutius, obicientibus sibi quod in re p. administranda potissimum consularis Isaurici sectam sequeretur, malle respondit Isaurici esse discipulum quam Epidi calumniatoris. Hic Epidius ortum se a C. Epidio Nucerino praedicabat, quem ferunt olim praecipitatum in fontem fluminis Sarni, paulo post cum cornibus aureis exstitisse, ac statim non comparuisse in numeroque deorum habitum.

Tawdry Tuesday, Sacred Object Edition (NSFW?)

Pliny the Elder, Natural History 36.4 (21)

“Later, Nicomedes the king wanted to buy the statue from the Knidians, promising to unburden the state of its public debt, which was immense. They preferred to live with this and not without good reason—for Praxiteles ennobled Knidos with this sculpture. Its temple is open all around so that it is possible to see the goddess’ image from every direction. The goddess favors this herself, as the story goes. There is no less sense of wonder from any direction. They report that a certain man was taken with love for it and, once he had hidden himself for the night, he let himself loose upon the image, and there is a stain to show his desire.”

voluit eam a Cnidiis postea mercari rex Nicomedes, totum aes alienum, quod erat ingens, civitatis dissoluturum se promittens. omnia perpeti maluere, nec inmerito; illo enim signo Praxiteles nobilitavit Cnidum. aedicula eius tot aperitur, ut conspici possit undique effigies deae, favente ipsa, ut creditur, facta. nec minor ex quacumque parte admiratio est. ferunt amore captum quendam, cum delituisset noctu, simulacro cohaesisse, eiusque cupiditatis esse indicem maculam.

Valerius Maximus, Memorable Deeds and Sayings 8.2 ext 3

“Praxiteles centered the wife of Vulcan in marble in the Knidians’ temple as if she were breathing—and she was barely safe from a lustful embrace because of the beauty of the work. In this, a mistake is rather excusable for a horse who, when he sees the picture of a mare is compelled to utter a neigh; or when a dog is excited by the sight of a painted dog to bark; or the bull in Syracuse who was compelled to lust after and mount a bronze cow that was just too close to real. Why, then, should we be amazed that animals who lack reason are deceived by art, when we see a man’s sacrilegious desire elicited by the shape of silent stone?”

Cuius coniugem Praxiteles in marmore quasi spirantem in templo Cnidiorum collocavit, propter pulchritudinem operis a libidinoso cuiusdam complexu parum tutam. quo excusabilior est error equi, qui visa pictura equae hinnitum edere coactus est, et canum latratus aspectu picti canis incitatus, taurusque ad amorem et concubitum aeneae vaccae Syracusis nimiae similitudinis irritamento compulsus: quid enim vacua rationis animalia arte decepta miremur, cum hominis sacrilegam cupiditatem muti lapidis liniamentis excitatam videamus?

Image result for knidian venus

What is ValMax’s tone here–is he completely sanguine about this anecdote? How might our current, pornographically advanced society strike him? How would he feel about the ethics of sex with robots and its threat against the future of humanity?  Feel like hearing more about masturbation in Ancient Greek? Yeah, we’ve got that. More than once.

yes, there is a Greek Epigram on this (Plato, Epigram XXV Page):

“Paphian Aphrodite once came across the sea to Knidos, hoping to see a statue of herself. After gazing at it in a spot seen from all sides , she said, ‘When did Praxiteles see me naked?’ Praxiteles never saw what it was not right to see – his tool carved out an Aphrodite that Ares would like.”

῾Η Παφίη Κυθέρεια δι’ οἴδματος ἐς Κνίδον ἦλθε
βουλομένη κατιδεῖν εἰκόνα τὴν ἰδίην.
πάντῃ δ’ ἀθρήσασα περισκέπτῳ ἐνὶ χώρῳ
φθέγξατο· „Ποῦ γυμνὴν εἶδέ με Πραξιτέλης;”
Πραξιτέλης οὐκ εἶδεν, ἃ μὴ θέμις, ἀλλ’ ὁ σίδηρος
ἔξεσεν, οἷά γ’ ῎Αρης ἤθελε, τὴν Παφίην.

A Terrible Post for Mother’s Day: Phlegon of Trailes on Multiple Births

Antiquity has bequeathed to us a collection of works on ‘wonders’: some are mere lists of amazing things; others are rationalizing explanations of myths (for which the Hellenistic Palaephaetus is most famous). Here is on list from the mysterious Phlegon of Trailes

Phlegon of Trailes, On Amazing Things:  Multiple Births 28-32 

“Antigonos also records that in Alexandria one woman gave birth to twenty children in four labors and that she raised most of them

Another woman in the same city produced five children in a single birth; three were male and two were female. The emperor Trajan ordered for them to be raised on his own funds.

Another woman gave birth to three different children in one year.

Hippostratos says in his work On Minos, that Aiguptos fathered fifty sons from Eururroê, the daughter of the Nile.

Similarly, Danaus had fifty daughters from one wife, Eurôpê, the daughter of the Nile.

Krateros, the brother of Antigonos that king, says that he knew of a certain person who in a seven year period was a child, an adolescent, a man and an old man and that he died after getting married and having children.

Megasthenes claims that the women who live in Padaia give birth when they are seven years old.”

Καὶ ᾿Αντίγονος δὲ ἱστορεῖ ἐν ᾿Αλεξανδρείᾳ μίαν γυναῖκα ἐν τέτρασιν τοκετοῖς εἴκοσι τεκεῖν καὶ τὰ πλεῖστα τούτων ἐκτραφῆναι.

Καὶ ἑτέρα τις γυνὴ κατὰ τὴν αὐτὴν πόλιν πέντε ἐν ἑνὶ τοκετῷ ἀπεκύησεν παῖδας, τρεῖς μὲν ἄρρενας, δύο δὲ θηλείας, οὓς αὐτοκράτωρ Τραιανὸς ἐκέλευσεν ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων χρημάτων τρέφεσθαι.

 πάλιν δὲ μετ’ ἐνιαυτὸν ἄλλα τρία ἡ αὐτὴ γυνὴ ἔτεκεν.

 ῾Ιππόστρατος δέ φησιν, ἐν τῷ περὶ Μίνω, Αἴγυπτον ἐκ μιᾶς γυναικὸς Εὐρυρρόης τῆς Νείλου πεντήκοντα υἱοὺς γεννῆσαι.

Δαναός τε ὁμοίως ἐκ μιᾶς γυναικὸς τῆς Νείλου Εὐρώπης πεντήκοντα θυγατέρας ἕσχεν.

Κρατερὸς δέ φησιν, ὁ ᾿Αντιγόνου τοῦ βασιλέως ἀδελφός, γινώσκειν τινὰ ἄνθρωπον, ὃν ἐν ἑπτὰ ἔτεσιν παῖδα γενέσθαι καὶ μειράκιον καὶ ἄνδρα καὶ γέροντα καὶ γήμαντα καὶ παιδοποιησάμενον ἀποθανεῖν.

Μεγασθένης δέ φησιν τὰς ἐν Παδαίᾳ κατοικούσας γυναῖκας ἑξαετεῖς γενομένας τίκτειν.

Scene of childbirth in relief on an ivory plaque attached to one end of a papyrus winder (a roller for holding the papyrus while reading). The pregnant woman sits on a birthing chair. Behind her, a standing woman holds her steady as she lifts her left arm backwards to grasp the attendant. The midwife kneels in front of the mother with a sponge in her right hand. Behind her stands a veiled woman who extends her hands toward the mother. Roman. From Pompeii, Region I, Insula 2, first century…

Ivory Carving from Pompeii (Vroma.org)

Every Academic’s Dream: A Wealthy Patron Puts You on the Map

Suetonius, Lives of Illustrious Men: Rhetoricians 29

Sextus Clodius, from Sicily, was a teacher of both Latin and Greek oratory. He had bad eyesight and a mean tongue and used to claim that he wore out his eyes in friendship with Marcus Antonius the Triumvir. He also said that Antony’s wife Fulvia, who had one cheek rather swollen, “directs the point of his pen”. For this he was more not less pleasing to Antony!

After Antony became consul, Clodius got a great gift from him, as Cicero objects in his Philippics: “You hire on a school teacher for the sake of his jokes, raised up an orator with you and your drinking-buddies’ jokes, and you have let him say whatever he wants about you, this thoroughly witty man.

Ah, but it is pretty easy to say things against you and yours. Look at how much this orator was paid. Listen to this senators; observe the wound to your nation. You gave to this orator Sextus Clodius two thousand Leontine acres which are untaxable—such a great price to learn nothing!”

V (29). Sextus Clodius, e Sicilia, Latinae simul Graecaeque eloquentiae professor, male oculatus et dicax, par oculorum in amicitia M. Antonii triumviri extrisse se aiebat; eiusdem uxorem Fulviam, cui altera bucca inflatior erat, acumen stili tentare dixit, nec eo minus, immo vel magis ob hoc Antonio gratus. A quo mox consule ingens etiam congiarium accepit, ut ei in “Philippicis” Cicero obicit: “Adhibes18 ioci causa magistrum, suffragio tuo et compotorum tuorum rhetorem, cui concessisti ut in te quae vellet diceret, salsum omnino hominem, sed materia facilis in te1 et in tuos dicta dicere. At quanta merces rhetori est data! Audite, audite, P. C., et cognoscite rei p. vulnera. Duo milia iugerum campi Leontini Sex. Clodio rhetori assignasti et quidem immunia, ut tanta mercede nihil sapere disceres.”

Image result for Ancient Roman Marcus antonius

“I buy my teachers right….”

Freed By Literature, Teaching Children for Free

Suetonius, Lives of Illustrious Men: On Grammarians 13

“Staberius Eros, who was bought with his own money at a public auction and was then freed because of his dedication to literature, taught Brutus and Cassius, among others.

There are those who report that he was so noble that during the Sullan period he accepted the children of proscribed men into his school free and without any additional payment.”

XIII. Staberius Eros, suomet aere emptus de catasta et propter litterarum studium manumissus, docuit inter ceteros Brutum et Cassium. Sunt qui tradant tanta eum honestate praeditum, ut temporibus Sullanis proscriptorum liberos gratis et sine mercede ulla in disciplinam receperit.

 

  1.  He taught the republican assassins.
  2. He taught children of political assassinations for free.
  3. Staberius Eros sounds like a good man.

Philosophy, Drinking, and Poetry

On Timon, Diogenes Laertius 9.12

“Antigonos says that Timon was fond of drinking; and, whenever he had free time from philosophizing, he wrote poems”

Ἦν δέ, φησὶν ὁ Ἀντίγονος, καὶ φιλοπότης καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν φιλοσόφων εἰ σχολάζοι ποιήματα συνέγραφε

9.112

“Follow me now, you busybodies and sophists!”

ἔσπετε νῦν μοι ὅσοι πολυπράγμονές ἐστε σοφισταί.

9.113

“He died near the age of ninety, according to Antigonos and Sôtiôn in his eleventh volume. I heard that he also had one eye and he used to call himself Cyclops. There was also another Timôn, the Misanthrope”

Ἐτελεύτησε δ᾽ ἐγγὺς ἐτῶν ἐνενήκοντα, ὥς φησιν ὁ Ἀντίγονος καὶ Σωτίων ἐν τῷ ἑνδεκάτῳ. τοῦτον ἐγὼ καὶ ἑτερόφθαλμον ἤκουσα, ἐπεὶ καὶ αὐτὸς αὑτὸν Κύκλωπα ἐκάλει. γέγονε καὶ ἕτερος Τίμων ὁ μισάνθρωπος.

Cratinus fr. 199

“Wine is like a swift horse for a charming poet; you won’t produce anything clever if you’re drinking water.”

οἶνός τοι χαρίεντι πέλει ταχὺς ἵππος ἀοιδῷ,
ὕδωρ δὲ πίνων οὐδὲν ἂν τέκοι σοφόν.

Image result for Timon the philosopher

A Reminder: One Way A President is Like Alcibiades

What does President Trump have in common with a ‘great’ figure from Greek history? They both punched their teachers.

Seriously, according to The Art of the Deal, Master Trump assaulted a music teacher who did not know enough about music.

Thanks to a twitter friend for the revelation:

Plutarch, Alcibiades 7.1

“As Alcibiades passed from childhood he visited a teacher and asked for a book of Homer. When that teacher said that he didn’t have any Homer, Alcibiades set upon him with his fist and left. When another teacher said that he had a copy of Homer which he had corrected himself, Alcibiades said, “Why do you teach the alphabet when you’re good enough to correct Homer,–why don’t you teach young men?”

Τὴν δὲ παιδικὴν ἡλικίαν παραλλάσσων ἐπέστη γραμματοδιδασκαλείῳ καὶ βιβλίον ᾔτησεν ῾Ομηρικόν. εἰπόντος δὲ τοῦ διδασκάλου μηδὲν ἔχειν ῾Ομήρου, κονδύλῳ καθικόμενος αὐτοῦ παρῆλθεν. ἑτέρου δὲ φήσαντος ἔχειν ῞Ομηρον ὑφ’ ἑαυτοῦ διωρθωμένον, „εἶτα” ἔφη „γράμματα διδάσκεις ῞Ομηρον ἐπανορθοῦν ἱκανὸς ὤν, οὐχὶ τοὺς νέους παιδεύεις;”

In Plutarch, these anecdotes serve to characterize the brash character of Alcibiades, one that combines daring and intelligence in a way that anticipates his later deeds. (Because, as we know, Plutarch thinks anecdotes are more telling than great deeds).

In Plato’s spurious Alcibiades 1, Socrates asks his younger interlocutor if he has heard about justice and injustice from Homer (112b2) and in Alcibiades 2 he focuses on the riddle of Homer in the Margites:

Alcibiades II 147 D

“For surely you don’t seem to be ignorant that Homer, the most divine and wisest poet, is not able to know badly—for he says in the Margites that he knows many things but he knows them all badly—but instead I think that he riddles by using the adverb badly instead of the noun “base”, and using “he knew” instead of “knowing”….

οὐ γὰρ δήπου ῞Ομηρόν γε τὸν θειότατόν τε καὶ σοφώτατον ποιητὴν ἀγνοεῖν δοκεῖς ὡς οὐχ οἷόν τε ἦν ἐπίστασθαι κακῶς—ἐκεῖνος γάρ ἐστιν ὁ λέγων τὸν Μαργίτην πολλὰ μὲν ἐπίστασθαι, κακῶς δέ, φησί, πάντα ἠπίστατο—ἀλλ’ αἰνίττεται οἶμαι παράγων τὸ κακῶς μὲν ἀντὶ τοῦ κακοῦ, τὸ δὲ ἠπίστατο ἀντὶ τοῦ ἐπίστασθαι·

So it may be that Alcibiades was expecting a philosopher and just got a school teacher.  But what do I know? I teach γράμματα, but sometimes τοὺς νέους.

alcibiades

According to Aelian (Varia Historia, 3.28), Socrates attempted to deal with Alcibiades’ ego by invoking geography:

“When Socrates noticed that Alkibiades was all puffed up because of his wealth and proud thanks to his property especially because of his lands, he led him to some part of the city where a tablet stood marked with an outline of the earth. He requested for Alkibiades to find Attica. When he found it, he asked him to find his own properties. When he responded “but they are not marked on here,” Socrates said “You think so highly of these things which don’t even amount to a fragment of the earth?”

῾Ορῶν ὁ Σωκράτης τὸν ᾿Αλκιβιάδην τετυφωμένον ἐπὶ τῷ πλούτῳ καὶ μέγα φρονοῦντα ἐπὶ τῇ περιουσίᾳ καὶ ἔτι πλέον ἐπὶ τοῖς ἀγροῖς, ἤγαγεν αὐτὸν ἔς τινα τῆς πόλεως τόπον ἔνθα ἀνέκειτο πινάκιον ἔχον γῆς περίοδον, καὶ προσέταξε τῷ ᾿Αλκιβιάδῃ τὴν ᾿Αττικὴν ἐνταῦθ’ ἀναζητεῖν. ὡς δ’ εὗρε, προσέταξεν αὐτῷ τοὺς ἀγροὺς τοὺς ἰδίους διαθρῆσαι. τοῦ δὲ εἰπόντος ‘ἀλλ’ οὐδαμοῦ γεγραμμένοι εἰσίν’ ‘ἐπὶ τούτοις οὖν’ εἶπε ‘μέγα φρονεῖς, οἵπερ οὐδὲν μέρος τῆς γῆς εἰσιν;’

Others in Athens were less constructive in remonstrating with the dashing young man. We have a line mocking him from the comedian Pherecrates (fr. 164):

“Even though Alcibiades isn’t a man, as it seems, he’s already husband to all the ladies.”
οὐκ ὤν ἀνὴρ γὰρ Ἀλκιβιάδης, ὡς δοκεῖ,
ἀνὴρ ἁπασῶν τῶν γυναικῶν ἐστι νῦν…

This plays on the dual connotations of ἀνὴρ as sexually mature man and husband. In the modern world, such a line might not be considered insulting. But in certain circles in Athens, manly men were mainly interested in men.

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