A Comic’s Lament: Tragedy is So Easy

From Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 6.222c-e

“Since, friend Timocrates, you are always asking about the things said among the learned dinnermates, because you think that I am making up crazy things, let me remind you of what Antiphanes says in his play Poetry, in this way:

Tragedy is the luckiest art form
of all. First, the stories
Are already known by the audience
Before anyone even speaks—the poet only needs
To remind: “Oedipus I say…”
And they know the rest: father Laios,
mother Iocasta, some daughters, some sons,
what he will suffer, and what he has. And, again,
If someone says “Alkmaeon”, he’s just as good
as mentioned all his kids and that
he went crazy and killed his mother, and that
Adrastus will get angry and return.
Then when they can’t say anything else
And they have fallen down in exhaustion
they raise up their crane like little finger
and they have a happy audience!
But it isn’t like that for us, we a have to make up
everything, new names and….
then the events that happened
previously, currently, and at the end,
As well as an introduction!
If some Chremes or Pheidon
Misses even one of these things
They boo and hiss him off the stage.
But you can get away with this with Peleus and Teucer.”

᾿Επειδὴ ἀπαιτεῖς συνεχῶς ἀπαντῶν, ἑταῖρε Τιμόκρατες, τὰ παρὰ τοῖς δειπνοσοφισταῖς λεγόμενα, καινά τινα νομίζων ἡμᾶς εὑρίσκειν, ὑπομνήσομέν σε τὰ παρὰ ᾿Αντιφάνει λεγόμενα ἐν Ποιήσει (II 90 K) τόνδε τὸν τρόπον·

μακάριόν ἐστιν ἡ τραγῳδία
ποίημα κατὰ πάντ’, εἴ γε πρῶτον οἱ λόγοι
ὑπὸ τῶν θεατῶν εἰσιν ἐγνωρισμένοι,
πρὶν καί τιν’ εἰπεῖν· ὥσθ’ ὑπομνῆσαι μόνον
δεῖ τὸν ποιητήν. Οἰδίπουν γὰρ φῶ ……
τὰ δ’ ἄλλα πάντ’ ἴσασιν· ὁ πατὴρ Λάιος,
μήτηρ ᾿Ιοκάστη, θυγατέρες, παῖδες τίνες,
τί πείσεθ’ οὗτος, τί πεποίηκεν. ἂν πάλιν
εἴπῃ τις ᾿Αλκμέωνα, καὶ τὰ παιδία
πάντ’ εὐθὺς εἴρηχ’, ὅτι μανεὶς ἀπέκτονε
τὴν μητέρ’, ἀγανακτῶν δ’ ῎Αδραστος εὐθέως
ἥξει πάλιν τ’ ἄπεισι …………..
ἔπειθ’ ὅταν μηθὲν δύνωντ’ εἰπεῖν ἔτι,
κομιδῇ δ’ ἀπειρήκωσιν ἐν τοῖς δράμασιν,
αἴρουσιν ὥσπερ δάκτυλον τὴν μηχανήν,
καὶ τοῖς θεωμένοισιν ἀποχρώντως ἔχει.
ἡμῖν δὲ ταῦτ’ οὐκ ἔστιν, ἀλλὰ πάντα δεῖ
εὑρεῖν, ὀνόματα καινά, …………
………… κἄπειτα τὰ διῳκημένα
πρότερον, τὰ νῦν παρόντα, τὴν καταστροφήν,
τὴν εἰσβολήν. ἂν ἕν τι τούτων παραλίπῃ
Χρέμης τις ἢ Φείδων τις, ἐκσυρίττεται·
Πηλεῖ δὲ ταῦτ’ ἔξεστι καὶ Τεύκρῳ ποιεῖν.

A Comic’s Lament: Tragedy is So Easy

From Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 6.222c-e

“Since, friend Timocrates, you are always asking about the things said among the learned dinnermates, because you think that I am making up crazy things, let me remind you of what Antiphanes says in his play Poetry, in this way:

Tragedy is the luckiest art form
of all. First, the stories
Are already known by the audience
Before anyone even speaks—the poet only needs
To remind: “Oedipus I say…”
And they know the rest: father Laios,
mother Iocasta, some daughters, some sons,
what he will suffer, and what he has. And, again,
If someone says “Alkmaeon”, he’s just as good
as mentioned all his kids and that
he went crazy and killed his mother, and that
Adrastus will get angry and return.
Then when they can’t say anything else
And they have fallen down in exhaustion
they raise up their crane like little finger
and they have a happy audience!
But it isn’t like that for us, we a have to make up
everything, new names and….
then the events that happened
previously, currently, and at the end,
As well as an introduction!
If some Chremes or Pheidon
Misses even one of these things
They boo and hiss him off the stage.
But you can get away with this with Peleus and Teucer.”

᾿Επειδὴ ἀπαιτεῖς συνεχῶς ἀπαντῶν, ἑταῖρε Τιμόκρατες, τὰ παρὰ τοῖς δειπνοσοφισταῖς λεγόμενα, καινά τινα νομίζων ἡμᾶς εὑρίσκειν, ὑπομνήσομέν σε τὰ παρὰ ᾿Αντιφάνει λεγόμενα ἐν Ποιήσει (II 90 K) τόνδε τὸν τρόπον·

μακάριόν ἐστιν ἡ τραγῳδία
ποίημα κατὰ πάντ’, εἴ γε πρῶτον οἱ λόγοι
ὑπὸ τῶν θεατῶν εἰσιν ἐγνωρισμένοι,
πρὶν καί τιν’ εἰπεῖν· ὥσθ’ ὑπομνῆσαι μόνον
δεῖ τὸν ποιητήν. Οἰδίπουν γὰρ φῶ ……
τὰ δ’ ἄλλα πάντ’ ἴσασιν· ὁ πατὴρ Λάιος,
μήτηρ ᾿Ιοκάστη, θυγατέρες, παῖδες τίνες,
τί πείσεθ’ οὗτος, τί πεποίηκεν. ἂν πάλιν
εἴπῃ τις ᾿Αλκμέωνα, καὶ τὰ παιδία
πάντ’ εὐθὺς εἴρηχ’, ὅτι μανεὶς ἀπέκτονε
τὴν μητέρ’, ἀγανακτῶν δ’ ῎Αδραστος εὐθέως
ἥξει πάλιν τ’ ἄπεισι …………..
ἔπειθ’ ὅταν μηθὲν δύνωντ’ εἰπεῖν ἔτι,
κομιδῇ δ’ ἀπειρήκωσιν ἐν τοῖς δράμασιν,
αἴρουσιν ὥσπερ δάκτυλον τὴν μηχανήν,
καὶ τοῖς θεωμένοισιν ἀποχρώντως ἔχει.
ἡμῖν δὲ ταῦτ’ οὐκ ἔστιν, ἀλλὰ πάντα δεῖ
εὑρεῖν, ὀνόματα καινά, …………
………… κἄπειτα τὰ διῳκημένα
πρότερον, τὰ νῦν παρόντα, τὴν καταστροφήν,
τὴν εἰσβολήν. ἂν ἕν τι τούτων παραλίπῃ
Χρέμης τις ἢ Φείδων τις, ἐκσυρίττεται·
Πηλεῖ δὲ ταῦτ’ ἔξεστι καὶ Τεύκρῳ ποιεῖν.

Thinking of Getting Drunk? Some Pros and Cons from the Ancients  

Alcaeus, fragment 335

“Bucchus, the best of all medicine for those who have wine is getting drunk”

ὦ Βύκχι, φαρμάκων δ’ ἄριστον
οἶνον ἐνεικαμένοις μεθύσθην

The past few weeks have been dark, and I am not talking about the weather.  It does not seem altogether insane to suggest that a few drinks might be a good coping mechanism. Alcaeus certainly would have agreed.

Athenaeus didn’t cite this first bit (or many others we’ve mentioned before), but he does give you a lot to drink about, I mean, think about (Deipnosophists Book 2.11):

“Boasting, invective, and mocking laughter don’t come from any kind of happiness or fullness, but from a different kind of thrill, one that inclines your opinion towards falsehood, something that comes from being drunk.

This is why Bacchylides says:

“A sweet need
Heats the heart from hurried cups.
Cypris’ hope rushes through thoughts
Mixed with the gifts of Dionysus.
This pulls men’s thoughts from lofty plains;
It suddenly loosens a city’s veils
And every men thinks he can be king.
Homes shine with gold and ivory.
Ships heavy with grain bear great wealth
Across the glistening sea from Egypt.
This is how the heart of the drinking man leaps”

Sophocles adds: “being drunk relieves pain.” And other poets mention the “happy wine, fruit of the field.” Even the king of the poets presents Odysseus saying :

“Whenever a men takes his full of wine and food
…and fights all day long,
His heart remains bold.”

Homer continues in this vein. Simonides grants the same beginning to wine and music. The invention of comedy and tragedy also issued from drunkenness in Icaria in Attica around the time of the grape-harvest. This is the reason that comedy was first called “trugôdia”.

“He gave mortals the pain-pausing vine.
When there is no wine, Cypris is absent,
And human beings have no other pleasure…”
Euripides writes this in the Bacchae. Astydamas says:
“He showed mortals the grapevine,
Mother of wine and cure-all for grief.”

“When someone fills himself with wine to no end, he becomes careless.
If he drinks only a bit, a man becomes pensive.”

This last part is what Antiphanes says.  Alexis adds:

“I’m not too drunk to think, but just enough that it is hard
To form any letters with my mouth”

wine_cup_250

 

 

οὐ γὰρ ἀπὸ πάσης εὐθυμίας καὶ πληρώσεως τὸ καυχᾶσθαι καὶ σκώπτειν καὶ γελοιάζειν, ἀπὸ δὲ τῆς ἀλλοιούσης τὴν γνώμην καὶ πρὸς τὸ ψευδὲς τρεπούσης, ἣ γίνεται κατὰ τὴν μέθην.  διὸ Βακχυλίδης φησί

(fr. 27)·

γλυκεῖ’ ἀνάγκα
σευομένα κυλίκων θάλπησι θυμόν·
Κύπριδος δ’ ἐλπὶς διαιθύσσει φρένας
ἀμμιγνυμένα Διονυσίοισι δώροις.
ἀνδράσι δ’ ὑψοτάτω πέμπει μερίμνας·
αὐτίκα μὲν πόλεων κρήδεμνα λύει,
πᾶσι δ’ ἀνθρώποις μοναρχήσειν δοκεῖ.
χρυσῷ δ’ ἐλέφαντί τε μαρμαίρουσιν οἶκοι·
πυροφόροι δὲ κατ’ αἰγλήεντα . . .
νῆες ἄγουσιν ἀπ’ Αἰγύπτου μέγιστον
πλοῦτον· ὣς πίνοντος ὁρμαίνει κέαρ.
Σοφοκλῆς δέ φησι (fr. 687 N)·
… τὸ μεθύειν πημονῆς λυτήριον.

οἱ δ’ ἄλλοι ποιηταί φασι τὸν ‘οἶνον ἐύφρονα καρπὸν ἀρούρης (Γ 246).’ καὶ ὁ τῶν ποιητῶν δὲ βασιλεὺς τὸν ᾿Οδυσσέα παράγει λέγοντα (Τ 167)· ‘ὃς δέ κ’ ἀνὴρ οἴνοιο κορεσσάμενος καὶ ἐδωδῆς πανημέριος πολεμίζῃ, θαρσαλέον νύ οἱ ἦτορ’ καὶ τὰ ἑξῆς.

ὅτι Σιμωνίδης (fr. 221) τὴν αὐτὴν ἀρχὴν τίθησιν οἴνου καὶ μουσικῆς. ἀπὸ μέθης καὶ ἡ τῆς κωμῳδίας καὶ ἡ τῆς τραγῳδίας εὕρεσις ἐν ᾿Ικαρίῳ τῆς ᾿Αττικῆς εὑρέθη, καὶ κατ’ αὐτὸν τὸν τῆς τρύγης και-ρόν· ἀφ’ οὗ δὴ καὶ τρυγῳδία τὸ πρῶτον ἐκλήθη ἡ κωμῳδία.

τὴν παυσίλυπον ἄμπελον δοῦναι βροτοῖς.
οἴνου δὲ μηκέτ’ ὄντος οὐκ ἔστιν Κύπρις
οὐδ’ ἄλλο τερπνὸν οὐδὲν ἀνθρώποις ἔτι,

Εὐριπίδης ἐν Βάκχαις φησί (771). καὶ ᾿Αστυδάμας δέ φησι (p. 605 N)·
θνητοῖσι τὴν ἀκεσφόρον
λύπης ἔφηνεν οἰνομήτορ’ ἄμπελον. —
συνεχῶς μὲν γὰρ ἐμπιπλάμενος ἀμελὴς γίνεται
ἄνθρωπος, ὑποπίνων δὲ πάνυ φροντιστικός,

᾿Αντιφάνης φησίν (II 123 K).

οὐ μεθύω τὴν φρόνησιν, ἀλλὰ τὸ τοιοῦτον μόνον,
τὸ διορίζεσθαι βεβαίως τῷ στόματι τὰ γράμματα.

“Honor Dionysus as a Doctor”: Living and Drinking

From Athenaeus’ Deipnosophists (1.41.16-36)

“Mnestheus of Athens also insists that the Pythia commanded the Athenians to honor Dionysus as a doctor. So Alcaeus the Mitylenaean poet says:

Wet your lungs with wine, for the dog-star is rising.
The season is rough: everything thirsts in this heat.

And elsewhere he says: “Let’s drink, for the dog star is rising.” Eupolis says that Callias is compelled to drink by Pythagoras so that “he may cleanse his lung before the dog star’s rise.” And it is not only the lung that gets dry, but the heart runs the same risk. That’s why Antiphanes says:

Tell me, why do we live?
I say that it is to drink.
See how many trees alongside rushing streams
Drink constantly throughout the day and night
And how big and beautiful they grow.
Those that abstain
Wilt from the root up.

drinking

καὶ Μνησίθεος δ’ ὁ ᾿Αθηναῖος Διόνυσον ἰατρόν φησι τὴν Πυθίαν χρῆσαι τιμᾶν ᾿Αθηναίοις. φησὶ δὲ καὶ ᾿Αλκαῖος ὁ Μιτυληναῖος ποιητής (fr. 39 B4)·

τέγγε πνεύμονα οἴνῳ· τὸ γὰρ ἄστρον περιτέλλεται·

ἡ δ’ ὥρη χαλεπή· πάντα δὲ δίψαισ’ ὑπὸ καύματος.

καὶ ἀλλαχοῦ (fr. 40)·

πίνωμεν, τὸ γὰρ ἄστρον περιτέλλεται.

Εὔπολίς τε τὸν Καλλίαν φησὶν ἀναγκάζεσθαι ὑπὸ Πρωταγόρου πίνειν, ἵνα (I 297 K)·

πρὸ τοῦ κυνὸς τὸν πνεύμον’ ἔκλυτον φορῇ. ἡμῖν δ’ οὐ μόνον ὁ πνεύμων ἀπεξήρανται, κινδυνεύει δὲ καὶ ἡ καρδία. καίτοι ᾿Αντιφάνης λέγει (II 112 K)·

 

τὸ δὲ ζῆν, εἰπέ μοι,

τί ἐστι; τὸ πίνειν φήμ’ ἐγώ.

ὁρᾷς παρὰ ῥείθροισι χειμάρροις ὅσα

δένδρων ἀεὶ τὴν νύκτα καὶ τὴν ἡμέραν

βρέχεται, μέγεθος καὶ κάλλος οἷα γίνεται,

τὰ δ’ ἀντιτείνοντ’ [οἱονεὶ δίψαν τινὰ

ἢ ξηρασίαν ἔχοντ’] αὐτόπρεμν’ ἀπόλλυται.

οὕτω τούτοις, φησί, κυνολογήσασιν ἐδόθη πιεῖν. εἴρηται δὲ τὸ βρέχειν καὶ ἐπὶ τοῦ πίνειν. ᾿Αντιφάνης

(II 126 K)·

δεῖ γὰρ φαγόντας δαψιλῶς βρέχειν.

 

 

 

 

Feast-Week: Don’t Come Late for A Free Meal, Don’t Dine Alone (Athenaeus)

In his Deipnosophists Athenaeus pretty much talks about everything (e.g., the masturbation habits of the Achaeans during their nine years at Troy). Early on, he expands on good manners when coming to dinner at someone else’s expense (don’t go late) and the general creepiness of a man who dines alone (1.14.30-50):

“The comic poet Amphis says:

If someone comes late to a free diner,
Believe that he’d rush to leave the battle line too!

And Chrysippus adds:

Don’t make light of the free drinking party
A free drinking party shouldn’t be treated lightly, but pursued!

Antiphanes also says:

The life of the gods is this: whenever you can
Eat someone else’s food and think nothing of the bill.

And elsewhere:

This is the blessed life when I must always seek
Some new trick to find a nibble for my lips.

I came from home to this drinking parting bringing these lines, making sure as well that I arrived carrying my rent money too, since “we singers always sacrifice without smoke”.

The word monophagein [“to eat alone”]is used [negatively] among ancient writers. For instance, Antiphanes says: “You’re eating alone already and causing me harm!” Amphis, too, says, “To hell with you, you solitary diner, you thief!”

banquet

ἀσυμβόλου δείπνου γὰρ ὅστις ὑστερεῖ,
τοῦτον ταχέως νόμιζε κἂν τάξιν λιπεῖν,

῎Αμφις φησὶν ὁ κωμικός (II 248 K). Χρύσιππος δέ φησιν·

ἀσύμβολον κώθωνα μὴ παραλίμπανε.
κώθων δ’ οὐ παραλειπτὸς ἀσύμβολος, ἀλλὰ διωκτός.

᾿Αντιφάνης δέ φησι (II 117 K)·

βίος θεῶν γάρ ἐστιν, ὅταν ἔχῃς ποθὲν
τἀλλότρια δειπνεῖν, μὴ προσέχων λογίσμασι.

καὶ πάλιν·

μακάριος ὁ βίος, ᾧ δεῖ μ’ ἀεὶ καινὸν πόρον
εὑρίσκειν, ὡς μάσημα ταῖς γνάθοις ἔχω.

ταῦτα οἴκοθεν ἔχων εἰς τὸ συμπόσιον ἦλθον καὶ προμελετήσας, ἵνα κἀγὼ τὸ στεγανόμιον κομίζων παραγένωμαι.

ἄκαπνα γὰρ αἰὲν ἀοιδοὶ θύομεν.
ὅτι τὸ μονοφαγεῖν ἐστιν ἐν χρήσει τοῖς παλαιοῖς.

᾿Αντιφάνης (II 128 K)·
.. μονοφαγεῖς, ἤδη τι καὶ βλάπτεις ἐμέ.

᾿Αμειψίας (I 677 K)·
ἔρρ’ ἐς κόρακας, μονοφάγε καὶ τοιχωρύχε.