Serious People Don’t Get Drunk

Diogenes Laertius, Zeno 7.1. 118-119

“Serious people are truly dedicated and on guard to make themselves better by preparing both to keep corrupting things away from them and trying to ensure that good things are near at hand. But they are also unaffected: they have peeled away adornments from their voice and their face.

They also have no concern for business since they abstain from doing anything which transgresses their duty. They do drink, but they do not get drunk. Indeed, they will also not go mad—even though the sometimes the same fantasies will still occur to them because of depression or delirium, but because of the logic of what they have selected but against nature.

And a wise person will never grieve because they understand that grief is an illogical closure of the soul, as Apollodorus says in his Ethics. These people are also godlike because they have some divine aspect in them; the scoundrel is godless.”

Ἀκιβδήλους τοὺς σπουδαίους φυλακτικούς τ᾿ εἶναι τοῦ ἐπὶ τὸ βέλτιον αὑτοὺς παριστάναι, διὰ παρασκευῆς τῆς τὰ φαῦλα μὲν ἀποκρυπτούσης, τὰ δ᾿ ὑπάρχοντα ἀγαθὰ φαίνεσθαι ποιούσης. ἀπλάστους τε· περιῃρηκέναι γὰρ ἐν τῇ φωνῇ τὸ πλάσμα καὶ τῷ εἴδει. ἀπράγμονάς τ᾿ εἶναι· ἐκκλίνειν γὰρ τὸ πράττειν τι παρὰ τὸ καθῆκον. καὶ οἰνωθήσεσθαι μέν, οὐ μεθυσθήσεσθαι δέ. ἔτι δ᾿ οὐδὲ μανήσεσθαι· προσπεσεῖσθαι μέντοι ποτὲ αὐτῷ φαντασίας ἀλλοκότους διὰ μελαγχολίαν ἢ λήρησιν, οὐ κατὰ τὸν τῶν αἱρετῶν λόγον, ἀλλὰ παρὰ φύσιν. οὐδὲ μὴν λυπηθήσεσθαι τὸν σοφόν, διὰ τὸ τὴν λύπην ἄλογον εἶναι συστολὴν τῆς ψυχῆς, ὡς Ἀπολλόδωρός φησιν ἐν τῇ Ἠθικῇ.

Θείους τ᾿ εἶναι· ἔχειν γὰρ ἐν ἑαυτοῖς οἱονεὶ θεόν. τὸν δ᾿ φαῦλον ἄθεον.

 

Stobaeus, 2.7.11.41

“It is not possible to think when you’re drunk. For drunkenness is extremely prone to error and people are really talkative over wine…”

Οὐχ οἷον δὲ μεθυσθήσεσθαι τὸν νοῦν ἔχοντα· τὴν γὰρ μέθην ἁμαρτητικὸν περιέχειν, λήρησιν εἶναι <γὰρ> παρὰ τὸν οἶνον,

Attic Lamb’s head Rhyton, MET

Half-Assing It: A Love Story

Aristokles, BNJ 831 F 3b (=Stobaios, Florides 4.20 b74)

“In the second book of his Wonders, Aristokles has this: A young man named Aristonymos, an Ephesian of a noble family, was Demostratos’ son, but in reality he was Ares’ son.

In the middle of the night, because he hated all women, he went to his father’s herd and had sex with a female donkey. She got pregnant and gave birth to the most beautiful girl, named Onoskelia, a nickname borrowed from the way she was born.”

᾽Αριστοκλέους ἐν β̄ Παραδόξων. <᾽Αριστώνυμος> ᾽Εφέσιος τῶι γένει, νεανίας τῶν ἐπισήμων, υἱὸς Δημοστράτου, ταῖς δ᾽ ἀληθείαις ῎Αρεως. οὗτος τὸ θῆλυ μισῶν γένος νυκτὸς βαθείας εἰς τοὺς πατρώιας ἔτρεχεν ἀγέλας, καὶ ὄνωι συνεγένετο θηλείαι· ἡ δὲ ἔγκυος γενομένη ἔτεκε κόρην εὐειδεστάτην ᾽Ονοσκελίαν τοὐνομα, τὴν προσηγορίαν λαβοῦσαν ἀπὸ τοῦ συμπτώματος.

Bodleian Library, MS. Bodley 764, Folio 44r

Where Do Snakes Come From? A Spine-Tingling Explanation

Past mid-October, it is about time things start to get a bit creepy…

Aelian, On the Nature of Animals 1.51

“People say that the spine of a human corpse turns into a snake as the marrow decomposes. As the beast slips out, so the most savage creature is born from the mildest. In this way the remains of men who were once fine and noble rest and they have peace as their prize just as the soul too does of these kinds of men according to what is sung and hymned by the wise.

But the spines of evil men bring forth these kinds of things after life too. Well, the truth is that the story is either completely a myth or if these things prove trustworthy, then it seems to me that the evil man’s corpse has earned this reward of becoming the serpent’s father.”

Ῥάχις ἀνθρώπου νεκροῦ φασιν ὑποσηπόμενον τὸν μυελὸν ἤδη τρέπει ἐς ὄφιν· καὶ ἐκπίπτει τὸ θηρίον, καὶ ἕρπει τὸἀγριώτατον ἐκ τοῦ ἡμερωτάτου· καὶ τῶν μὲν καλῶν καὶ ἀγαθῶν τὰ λείψανα ἀναπαύεται, καὶ ἔχει ἆθλον ἡσυχίαν, ὥσπερ οὖν καὶ ἡ ψυχὴ τῶν τοιούτων τὰ ᾀδόμενά τε καὶ ὑμνούμενα ἐκ τῶν σοφῶν· πονηρῶν δὲ ἀνθρώπων ῥάχεις τοιαῦτα τίκτουσι καὶ μετὰ τὸν βίον. ἢ τοίνυν τὸ πᾶν μῦθός ἐστιν, ἤ, εἰ ταῦτα οὑτωσὶπεπίστευται, πονηροῦ νεκρός, ὡς κρίνειν ἐμέ, ὄφεως γενέσθαι πατὴρ τοῦ τρόπου μισθὸν ἠνέγκατο.

Kongelige Bibliotek, Gl. kgl. S. 1633 4º, Folio 57r

 

“My Soul Tried to Cross Our Lips”: Platonic Love

Two love poems attributed to Plato

Diogenes Laertius Vita Phil 1.3 [Plato 31] and Athenaeus 589e

“I have a lover from Kolophôn named Arkheanassa—
Potent lust rests even on her wrinkles
Poor wretches who met her during the first sailing
Of her youth—what a conflagration you passed through!”

Ἀρχεάνασσαν ἔχω τὴν ἐκ Κολοφῶνος ἑταίραν,
ἧς καὶ ἐπὶ ῥυτίδων ἕζετο δριμὺς ἔρως.
ἆ δειλοὶ νεότητος ἀπαντήσαντες ἐκείνης
πρωτοπλόου, δι᾿ ὅσης ἤλθετε πυρκαϊῆς.

The Greek Anth. 7.217 attributes a slightly different version to Asclepiades

“I have Arkheanassa, a lover from Kolophôn—
Sweet lust rests even on her wrinkles
Oh lovers who harvested the fruit of her youth
At first bloom—what a conflagration you passed through!”

Ἀρχεάνασσαν ἔχω, τὰν ἐκ Κολοφῶνος ἑταίραν,
ἇς καὶ ἐπὶ ῥυτίδων ὁ γλυκὺς ἕζετ᾿ Ἔρως.
ἆ νέον ἥβης ἄνθος ἀποδρέψαντες ἐρασταὶ
πρωτοβόλου, δι᾿ ὅσης ἤλθετε πυρκαϊῆς.

D. L = Gr. Anth. 7.78

“When kissing Agathon I felt my soul at my lips.
The wretch—for she was trying to cross between us.”

τὴν ψυχὴν Ἀγάθωνα φιλῶν ἐπὶ χείλεσιν εἶχον·
ἦλθε γὰρ ἡ τλήμων ὡς διαβησομένη.

According to Aelian, Plato’s career as a poet was cut short (Varia Historia 2.30); but note, though there is mention of epic and tragedy, the anecdote makes no claims for lyric and elegy:

“Plato, the son of Ariston, at first pursued poetry and used to write heroic verse. But he soon burned it all because he despised it, since he reckoned that his poetry was far inferior when compared to Homer’s. He then tried tragedy and even completed a tetralogy, and he was about to enter the competition, even to the point of giving the verses to actors. But right before the Dionysia, he went and heard Socrates; and once he was seized by that Siren, he not only withdrew from the competition, but he also gave up the writing of tragedy for good to immerse himself in philosophy.”

Πλάτων ὁ ᾿Αρίστωνος τὰ πρῶτα ἐπὶ ποιητικὴν ὥρμησε, καὶ ἡρωϊκὰ ἔγραφε μέτρα• εἶτα αὐτὰ κατέπρησεν ὑπεριδὼν αὐτῶν, ἐπεὶ τοῖς ῾Ομήρου αὐτὰ ἀντικρίνων ἑώρα κατὰ πολὺ ἡττώμενα. ἐπέθετο οὖν τραγῳδίᾳ, καὶ δὴ καὶ τετραλογίαν εἰργάσατο, καὶ ἔμελλεν ἀγωνιεῖσθαι, δοὺς ἤδη τοῖς ὑποκριταῖς τὰ ποιήματα. πρὸ τῶν Διονυσίων δὲ παρελθὼν ἤκουσε Σωκράτους, καὶ ἅπαξ αἱρεθεὶς ὑπὸ τῆς ἐκείνου σειρῆνος, τοῦ ἀγωνίσματος οὐ μόνον ἀπέστη τότε, ἀλλὰ καὶ τελέως τὸ γράφειν τραγῳδίαν ἀπέρριψε, καὶ ἀπεδύσατο ἐπὶ φιλοσοφίαν.

Image result for ancient greek kissing vase
Louvre G 278 Attributed to Briseis Painter

From the Restroom: He Thunders Beneath the Earth

Suetonius, Life of Lucan

“When he was at the beginning of adolescence and learned that his father lived in the country because of a terrible marriage…Although when he was recalled from Athens by Nero he was included among his group of friends and even honored with a quaestorship, he still did not remain in his good graces.

Because he took it badly when Nero suddenly left while he was giving a reading for the sake of holding a senate meeting but for no other real reason accept for chilling the reading, he did not later on restrain himself from either words or deeds against the prince, some of which are well-known.

For instance, once when he was in the public restrooms, he followed a rather clear and loud fart to empty his bowels with a half-line written by Nero as the great crowd of those around him fled: “you could believe that it thundered beneath the earth.”

Hic initio adolescentiae, cum ob infestum matrimonium patrem suum ruri agere longissime cognovisset*** Revocatus Athenis a Nerone cohortique amicorum additus atque etiam quaestura honoratus, non tamen permansit in gratia. Siquidem aegre ferens, recitante se subito ac nulla nisi refrigerandi sui causa indicto senatu recessisse, neque verbis adversus principem neque factis exstantibus post haec temperavit, adeo ut quondam in latrinis publicis clariore cum strepitu ventris emissi hemistichium Neronis magna consessorum fuga pronuntiarit: Sub terris tonuisse putes.

Defecatory thunder may or may not have been a trope in the ancient world. If you are interested in this kind of content, you may want to consider the Panfarticon.

Nero 1.JPG
An Epoch defining neck-beard

Unicorns: Where they Come From, What They’re Good For

Aelian, On The Nature of Animals 3.41

“India gives birth to single-horned horses, people say, and the same land feeds single-horned asses too. They get drinking cups from these horns. And if anyone puts fatal poison inside of them, when someone drinks from them, the conspiracy won’t hurt him at all. It seems that the horn of both the horse and the ass is a ward against evil.”

Ἵππους μονόκερως γῆ Ἰνδικὴ τίκτει, φασί, καὶ ὄνους μονόκερως ἡ αὐτὴ τρέφει, καὶ γίνεταί γε ἐκ τῶν κεράτων τῶνδε ἐκπώματα. καὶ εἴ τις ἐς αὐτὰ ἐμβάλοι φάρμακον θανατηφόρον, ὁ πιών, οὐδὲν ἡ ἐπιβουλὴ λυπήσει αὐτόν· ἔοικε γὰρ ἀμυντήριον τοῦ κακοῦ τὸ κέρας καὶ τοῦ ἵππου καὶ τοῦ ὄνου εἶναι.

Bodleian Library, MS. Douce 132, Folio 70r

The Gift of the Briefest of Lives

Aelian, On the Nature of Animals 2.4

“Some animals are called Ephemera and they take their name from the length of their life. For they are born in wine and when the container is opened they fly out, they see the light, and they die. Therefore, nature has granted that they come into life but it has also rescued them from the evils in life, since they neither experience any suffering of their own and they know nothing of others’ misfortunes.”

Ζῷα ἐφήμερα οὕτω κέκληται, λαβόντα τὸ ὄνομα ἐκ τοῦ μέτρου τοῦ κατὰ τὸν βίον· τίκτεται γὰρ5ἐν τῷ οἴνῳ, καὶ ἀνοιχθέντος τοῦ σκεύους τὰ δὲ ἐξέπτη καὶ εἶδε τὸ φῶς καὶ τέθνηκεν. οὐκοῦν παρελθεῖν μὲν αὐτοῖς ἐς τὸν βίον ἔδωκεν ἡ φύσις, τῶν δὲ ἐν αὐτῷ κακῶν ἐρρύσατο τὴν ταχίστην, μήτε τι τῶν ἰδίων συμφορῶν ᾐσθημένοις μήτε μήν τινος τῶν ἀλλοτρίων μάρτυσι γεγενημένοις.

Cricket in a cage