“What [Xenophanes] says about Pythagoras goes like this:
People say that one day, when he was passing by as a puppy was being beaten, he pitied him and uttered this line: ‘Stop, don’t beat him, in truth, his is a soul of a dear friend of mine, one I recognized when I heard him cry.”
“Enjoying something, certainly, requires a desire first and then comes the pleasure. The poet Sophocles, as a matter of fact, was one of those people who enjoy life, in order that he might not criticize old age, blamed his inability to get pleasure from sex on wisdom, pretending that he had happily been freed from those desires as if from some cruel master.
But I insist that the “Judgment of Paris was depicted by the more ancient poets as a contest between virtue and pleasure. When Aphrodite was selected—and she represented pleasure—everything went to shit. It also seems likely to me that Xenophon made up his story about Herakles and virtue for the same reason.”
I love this story. It fills me with hope and envy.
Aristotle, On Amazing Things Heard 832b
“The story goes that in Abydos there was a man who was afflicted with madness. He went into the theater and watched for many days as if there were actually people acting and applauded. When he had a respite from his affliction, he said that this was the most enjoyable time of his life.”
“Thrasyllos from the deme Aiksône endured an incredible and novel madness. For he left the city and went to the Peiraia and stayed there. He believed that all the ships that sailed in were his and he wrote down their names, checked the list when they left and rejoiced when they returned safely to the harbor again. He spent many years living with this sickness.
When his brother returned from Sicily, he took him to a doctor for treatment and he freed him from that sickness. But he often remembered the avocation of his sickness and used to say that he was never as happy as when he took pleasure at the sight of ships that weren’t his returning safely.”
“And then again in his details about Pyrrhus he says that the Romans still recall the memory of the destruction at Troy when they shoot a warhorse on a certain day in front of the city in the Campus Martius because the sacking of troy happened because of a wooden horse—a fact which is the most childish thing of all. For, he would need to say that all the barbarians are the descendants of Trojans, since almost all of them when they are about to start a war or are taking a risk toward great danger, sacrifice and slaughter a horse, interpreting what is going to happen from the fall of the animal.
Timaios does not only show is inexperience in this bit of stupidity about the horse, but also it seems to be a great bit of pedantry when he supposes so naively that they go through the practice of sacrificing a horse because Troy was taken by one!”
Valerius Maximus, Memorable Words and Deeds 9.3. Praef.
“Anger, also, or hatred may inspire great waves of emotion in human hearts. The onset of the first is faster, but the second is more lasting in the desire to cause harm. Either feeling is full of turbulence and is never violent without some self-torture because it suffers pain when it wants to cause it, anxious from its bitter obsession that it might not win vengeance.
But there are the most clear examples of the particular property of these emotions which the gods themselves have desired be evident in famous individuals through something said or done rather rashly. Think of how great Hamilcar’s hate for the Roman people was! When he was gazing at his four sons when they were boys, he used to say that he was raising lion cubs of that number for the ruin of our empire! Instead, they converted their upbringing to the destruction of their own country, as it turned out.
That is how great the hate was in a boy’s heart, but it was equally fierce in a woman’s too. For the Queen of the Assyrians, Semiramis, when it was announced to her that Babylon was in rebellion as she was having her hair done, went out right away to put down the revolt with part of her hair still undone and she did not put her hair back in order before she regained power over the city. This is why there is a statue of her in Babylon where she is shown reaching for vengeance in wild haste.”
Ira quoque aut odium in pectoribus humanis magnos fluctus excitant, procursu celerior illa, nocendi cupidine hoc pertinacius, uterque consternationis plenus adfectus ac numquam sine tormento sui violentus, quia dolorem, cum inferre vult, patitur, amara sollicitudine ne non contingat ultio anxius. sed proprietatis eorum certissimae sunt imagines, quas <di> ipsi in claris personis aut dicto aliquo aut facto vehementiore conspici voluerunt.
Quam vehemens deinde adversus populum Romanum Hamilcaris odium! quattuor enim puerilis aetatis filios intuens, eiusdem numeri catulos leoninos in perniciem imperii nostri alere se praedicabat. digna nutrimenta quae in exitium patriae suae, ut evenit, <se> converterent!
ext. In puerili pectore tantum vis odii potuit, sed in muliebri quoque aeque multum valuit: namque Samiramis, Assyriorum regina, cum ei circa cultum capitis sui occupatae nuntiatum esset Babylona defecisse, altera parte crinium adhuc soluta protinus ad eam expugnandam cucurrit, nec prius decorem capillorum in ordinem quam urbem in potestatem suam redegit. quocirca statua eius Babylone posita est, illo habitu quo ad ultionem exigendam celeritate praecipiti tetendit.
“This is what Leotychidas said to Philip, the master of the Orphic mysteries who was extremely poor but was claiming that those initiated into the mysteries by him would be blessed after the end of life: “Fool, why don’t you die as quickly as possible so you can stop whining about your bad luck and poverty?”
“When someone was asking why they did not dedicated the weapons of their enemies to the gods, he said that it would neither be right to show the youth or to dedicate to the gods weapons which were taken thanks to the cowardice of their owners.”
“The false quantities made by scholars would furnish a curious list. When Joshua Barnes desired his wife to devote her fortune to the publication of his edition of Homer, and at last persuaded her to do so by assuring her that the Iliad was written by Solomon, in the joy of his heart he composed some Greek hexameters. One of these he began with εὐπρᾰγίης which Bentley said was ‘ enough to make a man spew.’ (Ribbeck lately complained that Madvig’s emendations of the Latin dramatists had the like effect on him, nauseam adferunt.)”