The Magi, Herod, and A Flight to Egypt

This is a continuation of the Christmas Story in the apocryphal Gospel of James [also sometimes called the “Infancy” Gospel” or the Protoevangelium of James].

The Gospel According to James 21–22.

22. “And, look, Joseph was prepared to leave to Judea and there was trouble in Bethlehem. For the Magi had come from the East in Persia, saying, “Where is the child born King of the Jews? For we saw his start in the East and we have come to bow before him. When Herod heard this, he was upset and he sent attendants to the Magi and he also summoned the high priests and asked them, “Where has this “Christ” been born?” and they answered, “In Bethlehem of Judea—for it was written thus.” And he let them go. Then he questioned the Magi, saying to them, “What sign did you see for a king who was born?” And the magi said to him, we say the greatest start blazing among the these stars and making them seem dull. We knew from this that a king had been born for Israel. For this reason we came to bow before him.” And Herod responded, “Go and seek out the child carefully. And when he is found, send me news of it so that I can go and bow to him too.

And so the Magi left and, look, the star which they saw in the east led them on until they came to that place where the cave protected the child’s head. And when they saw him with his mother Mary, they bowed and took from their strongboxes the gifts they brought: gold, frankincense and myrrh. Because they had been warned by a sacred angel not to enter Judea near Herod, they took another route to return to their country.

22 But once Herod figured out that he had been evaded by the Magi, he was enraged and he sent assassins whom he ordered to kill all infants under two years. Once Mary heard that the infants were being killed, she took her child in fear and left to Egypt with Joseph, just as was predicated to them. But when Elisabeth took John and went into the hills and looked around for a place to hide him, there was no safe sanctuary. Then, she said as she cried, “Mountain, mountain—take a mother with her child. For she was not able to leave. And then suddenly, the mountain split into two and welcomed her. The mountain itself was alight for them and there was an angel of the lord looking over them.”

21.1 Καὶ ἰδοὺ Ἰωσὴφ ἡτοιμάσθη ἐξελθεῖν εἰς τὴν Ἰουδαίαν, καὶ θόρυβος ἐγένετο ἐν Βηθλεέμ. ἦλθαν γὰρ μάγοι ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν (ἐκ Περσίδος) λέγοντες: ποῦ ἐστιν ὁ τεχθεὶς βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων; εἴδομεν γὰρ αὐτοῦ τὸν ἀστέρα ἐν τῇ ἀνατολῇ καὶ ἤλθομεν προσκυνῆσαι αὐτόν. 2 καὶ ἀκούσας Ἡρώδης ἐταράχθη καὶ ἔπεμψεν ὑπηρέτας πρὸ(ς) τοὺς μάγους, καὶ ἀπέστειλεν πρὸς τοὺς ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ ἀνέκρινεν αὐτοὺς λέγων: ποῦ ὁ χριστὸς γεννᾶται; οἱ δὲ εἶπον: ἐν Βηθλεὲμ τῆς Ἰουδαίας: οὕτως γὰρ γέγραπται. καὶ ἀπέλυσεν αὐτοὺς καὶ ἀνέκρινε τοὺς μάγους λέγων αὐτοῖς: τί εἴδετε σημεῖον ἐπὶ τὸν γεννηθέντα βασιλέα; καὶ εἶπον οἱ μάγοι: εἴδομεν ἀστέρα παμμεγέθη λάμψαντα ἐν τοῖς ἄστροις τούτοις καὶ ἀμβλύνοντα αὐτοὺς τοῦ (μὴ) φαίνειν καὶ ἔγνωμεν, ὅτι βασιλεὺς ἐγεννήθη τῷ Ἰσραήλ: καὶ διὰ τοῦτο ἤλθομεν προσκυνῆσαι αὐτόν. καὶ εἶπεν Ἡρώδης: πορευθέντες ἀκριβῶς ἐκζητήσατε περὶ τοῦ παιδίου: καὶ ἐπὰν εὕρηται, ἀπαγγείλατέ μοι, ὅπως κἀγὼ ἐλθὼν προσκυνήσω αὐτόν. 3 καὶ ἐξῆλθον οἱ μάγοι, καὶ ἰδοὺ ὁ ἀστήρ, ὅν εἶδον ἐν τῇ ἀνατολῇ, προῆγεν αὐτῶν, ἕως οὗ ἐλθὼν ἔστη εἰς τὸ σπήλαιον ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς τοῦ παιδίου. καὶ ἰδόντες αὐτὸ οἱ μάγοι μετὰ τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ Μαρίας προσεκύνησαν αὐτὸ καὶ ἀνοίξαντες τοὺς θησαυροὺς αὐτῶν προσήνεγκαν αὐτῶν δῶρα, χρυσὸν καὶ λίβανον καὶ σμύρναν. καὶ χρηματισθέντες ὑπὸ ἁγίου ἀγγέλου (μὴ εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν Ἰουδαίαν πρὸς Ἡρώδην) δι’ ἄλλης ὁδοῦ ἐπορεύθησαν εἰς τὴν χώραν αὐτῶν.

22.1 Γνοὺς δὲ ὁ Ἡρώδης, ὅτι ἐνεπαίχθη ὑπὸ τῶν μάγων, ὀργισθεὶς ἔπεμψεν τοὺς φονευτὰς κελεύσας αὐτοῖς ἀνελεῖν τὰ βρέφη ἀπὸ διετοῦς καὶ κατωτέρω. 2 ἀκούσασα δὲ Μαριάμ, ὅτι τὰ βρέφη ἀναιροῦνται, φοβηθεῖσα ἔλαβεν τὸ παιδίον μετὰ Ἰωσὴφ καὶ ἀπεδήμησεν εἰς Αἴγυπτον, καθὼς ἐχρηματίσθη αὐτοῖς. 3 ἡ δὲ Ἐλισάβετ λαβοῦσα τὸν Ἰωάννην ἀνέβη εἰς τὴν ὀρεινὴν καὶ περιεβλέπετο, ποῦ αὐτὸν ἀποκρύψει: καὶ οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος ἀποκρυβῆς. τότε στενάξασα λέγει: ὄρος, ὄρος, δέξαι μητέρα μετὰ τέκνου . οὐ γὰρ ἠδύνατο πορεύεσθαι. καὶ παραχρῆμα ἐδιχάσθη τὸ ὄρος καὶ ἐδέξατο αὐτήν. καὶ ἦν τὸ ὄρος ἐκεῖνο διαφαῖνον αὐτοῖς καὶ ἄγγελος κυρίου ὁδηγῶν αὐτούς.

Image result for ancient herod

Virgin Birth in the Wilderness: The Apocryphal Gospel of James for Christmas Eve

This is a continuation of the Christmas Story in the apocryphal Gospel of James [also sometimes called the “Infancy” Gospel” or the Protoevangelium of James].

The Gospel According to James 19–20

19. And then I saw a woman walking from the hills and she said to me, “Man, where are you going? And I said to her, “I am looking for a midwife.” And she answered, “From Israel?” and I said to her, “Yes, mistress.” And She said to me, “Who is the woman who is giving birth in the cave?” and I said, “She is my betrothed.” And she responded, “She is not your wife?” and I said to her, “She is Mary and I drew her as my lot to be a wife, but she was raised in the Holiest of Holies. And she is not my wife, but she has become pregnant from the holy spirit. And she said, “Tell me the truth,” and I told her, “Come and see.” And she left with him.”

They stood were the cave was and there was a cloud shading over it. The midwife said, “My soul is ennobled this day because I recognize a new sight and a miracle—since a savior is born for Israel.” Then, immediately, the cloud withdrew from the cave and a great light appeared in it which our eyes could not bear. Soon, that light too receded until the infant appeared and took the breast of its mother Mary.

Then the midwife shouted out, “Today is a great day because I have seen a new wonder.” And then the midwife left the cave and met Salôme and said to her, “Salôme, Salôme, I have a new wonder to explain to you. A virgin gave birth, a thing which human nature does not allow.” And Salôme said, “As the Lord God lives, if I do not see this—if I do not put my hand into her—I will not believe that a virgin gave birth.”

And Salôme entered the cave and said, “Maria, prepare yourself, for no small test of you is at hand.” Then she examined her. And Salôme yelled out and cried, saying, “Oh, my lawlessness and lack of faith, that I tested the living God. And look, my hand is burning and falling away. Then Salôme bent her knees and said toward her Lord, “the God of our fathers, remember me, that I am the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jakob—do not make an example of me before the sons of Israel, but return my poverty to me. And, look, an angel of the Lord appeared saying to Salôme, “Salôme, Salôme, the Lord God heard your prayer. Come near the child and lift him up and he will be your safety.”

Then Salôme went to the child and lifted him up and said, “Truly, a great king has been born to Israel.” Then she was suddenly healed and she left the cave filled with justice. And, look, a voice sounded out and said, “Salôme, Salôme, do not spread the news of the miracles you have witness around until the child enters Jerusalem.”

19.1 Καὶ εἶδον γυναῖκα καταβαίνουσαν ἀπὸ τῆς ὀρεινῆς καὶ εἶπέν μοι: ἄνθρωπε, ποῦ πορεύῃ; καὶ εἶπον αὐτῇ: μαῖαν ζητῶ. καὶ ἀποκριθεῖσά μοι εἶπεν: ἐξ Ἰσραήλ; καὶ εἶπον αὐτῇ: ναί, κυρία. καὶ εἶπέν μοι: τίς ἐστιν ἡ γεννήσασα ἐν τῇ σπηλαίῳ; καὶ εἶπον ἐγώ: ἡ μεμνηστευμένη μοι. καὶ εἶπέν μοι: οὐκ ἔστι σου γυνή; καὶ εἶπον αὐτῇ: Μαριάμ ἐστιν καὶ ἐκληρωσάμην αὐτὴν εἰς γυναῖκα, ἥτις ἀνετράφη εἰς τὰ ἅγια τῶν ἁγίων: καὶ οὐκ ἔστι μου γυνή, ἀλλὰ σύλληψιν ἔχει ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου. καὶ εἶπεν: εἰπέ μοι τὸ ἀληθές. καὶ εἶπον αὐτῇ: ἐλθὲ καὶ ἴδε. καὶ ἀπῆλθεν μετ’ αὐτοῦ. 2 καὶ ἔστη ἐν τῷ τόπῳ τοῦ σπηλαίου, καὶ ἦν νεφέλη ἐπισκιάζουσα ἐπὶ τὸ σπήλαιον: καὶ εἶπεν ἡ μαῖα: ἐμεγαλύνθη ἡ ψυχή μου τῇ σήμερον ἡμέρᾳ, ὅτι εἶδον καινὸν θέαμα καὶ παράδοξον: ὅτι σωτηρίον τῷ Ἰσραὴλ ἐγενήθη. καὶ παραχρῆμα ἡ νεφέλη ὑπεστέλλετο ἐκ τοῦ σπηλαίου, καὶ ἐφάνη φῶς μέγα ἐν τῷ σπηλαίῳ, ὥστε τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ἡμῶν μὴ φέρειν. καὶ πρὸς ὀλίγον τὸ φῶς ἐκεῖνο ὑπεστέλλετο, ἕως ἐφάνη τὸ βρέφος (καὶ ἦλθεν) καὶ ἔλαβεν μασθὸν ἐκ τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ Μαρίας. (καὶ ἀνεβόησεν ἡ μαῖα: ὡς μεγάλη ἡ σήμερον ἡμέρα, ὅτι εἶδον τὸ καινὸν θέαμα τοῦτο.) 3 καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἐκ τοῦ σπηλαίου ἡ μαῖα καὶ ἀπήντησεν Σαλώμην, καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ: Σαλώμη, Σαλώμη, καινόν σοι ἔχω διηγήσασθαι θέαμα: παρθένος ἐγέννησεν, ὅ οὐ χωρεῖ φύσις ἀνθρωπίνη. καὶ εἶπεν Σαλώμη: ζῇ κύριος ὁ θεός, ἐὰν μὴ κατανοήσω (ἐὰν μὴ βάλω τὴν χεῖρά μου εἰς αὐτήν), οὐ μὴ πιστεύσω, ὅτι παρθένος ἐγέννησεν.

20.1 Καὶ εἰσῆλθεν Σαλώμη καὶ εἶπεν: Μαρία, σχημάτισον σεαυτήν: οὐ γὰρ μικρὸς ἀγὼν περίκειται περὶ σοῦ. καὶ κατενόησεν αὐτήν. καὶ ἠλάλαξεν Σαλώμη καὶ ἐκραύγασε λέγουσα: οὐαὶ τῇ ἀνομίᾳ μου καὶ οὐαὶ τῇ ἀπιστίᾳ μου, ὅτι ἐξεπείρασα θεὸν ζῶντα: καὶ ἰδοὺ ἡ χείρ μου ἐν πυρὶ φλέγεται (ἀποπίπτει). 2 καὶ ἔκλινεν τὰ γόνατα αὐτῆς Σαλώμη πρὸς τὸν δεσπότην λέγουσα: ὁ θεὸς τῶν πατέρων μου, μνήσθητί μου, ὅτι σπέρμα εἰμὶ Ἀβραὰμ καὶ Ἰσαὰκ καὶ Ἰακώβ: μὴ παραδειγματίσῃς με τοῖς υἱοῖς Ἰσραήλ, ἀλλὰ ἀπόδος μοι ἐμὴν ὁλοκληρίαν. 3 καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος κυρίου ἔστη πρὸς Σαλώμην λέγων: Σαλώμη, Σαλώμη, ἐπήκουσε κύριος ὁ θεὸς τῆς δεήσεός σου: ἔγγισον πρὸς τὸ παιδίον καὶ βάστασον αὐτό, καὶ ἔσται σοι σωτηρία μεγάλη. 4 καὶ προσῆλθεν Σαλώμη καὶ ἐβάστασεν αὐτό, καὶ εἶπεν: ὄντως βασιλεὺς μέγας ἐγεννήθη τῷ Ἰσραήλ. καὶ εὐθέως ἰάθη Σαλώμη καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἐκ τοῦ σπηλαίου δεδικαιωμένη, καὶ ἰδοὺ φωνὴ λέγουσα αὐτῇ: Σαλώμη, Σαλώμη, μὴ ἀναγγείλῃς, ὅσα εἶδες παράδοξα (ἕως ἔλθῃ εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ).

Image result for nativity scene cave

Travel Plans for the Holidays: On to Bethlehem with the Protoevangelium of James

This is a continuation of the Christmas Story in the apocryphal Gospel of James [also sometimes called the “Infancy” Gospel” or the Protoevangelium of James].

The Gospel According to James 17–18

17. “Then there was a summons from Herod the King [or Augustus] to record how many people there were in Bethlehem of Judea. And Joseph was compelled to return from Nazareth to Bethlehem. So Joseph said, “I will record my sons, but what should I do about the girl? How will I record her? As my wife? I am ashamed to do that. But as my daughter? The sons of Israel know that she is not my daughter. This day of the Lord will accomplish as it wishes.

And he prepared a donkey and put the girl on it and his son led it as [Samuel and] he followed after. Once they came about three miles from the city, Joseph turned and say her looking despondent and said to himself, “Perhaps what is in her is causing her pain.” And then Joseph turned back again and say her laughing and said, “Mary, what is this that I see your face now in laughter and then suddenly in pain?” And she said, “Joseph, I see two people with my eyes, one weeping and mourning and one rejoicing and feeling glory.”

Then they arrived near the middle of the journey, and Mary said to him: “take me down from the donkey, for that which is within me is pressing me to come out.” And he took her down and said to her, “Where will I take you and hide your impropriety, since this place is empty?”

18. Then he found nearby a cave and took her into it and stationed his sons near her as he left to seek a Hebrew midwife in the area near Bethlehem. “Now I, Joseph, was walking and I was not walking. I looked up into the curve of heaven and I saw it stop still. And I looked into the sky and I saw it still, all the birds of the sky had deserted it. And I looked toward the earth and I saw a dish lying there and workmen were placing it there. Their hands were in the vessel. Those who were chewing were not showing and those who were lifting food were not lifting it and those who were pressing something to their mouth were not pressing it. But everyone had their faces looking upward. I saw flocks which were being driven, but the sheep stood still. And The shepherd raised his hand to strike them, but his hand did not come down again. And I looked at the flowing of the river and I saw kids there and even though they had their mouths right next to the water, they did not drink. And then, all of a sudden, everything returned to its normal course.

17.1 Κέλευσις δὲ ἐγένετο ἀπὸ (τοῦ Ἀόστου) Ἡρώδου τοῦ βασιλέως ἀπογράψασθαι, ὅσοι εἰσὶν ἐν Βηθλεὲμ τῆς Ἰουδαίας. (ἠναγκάζετο δὲ Ἰωσὴφ ἀπελθεῖν ἐκ Ναζαρὲτ εἰς τὴν Βηθλεὲμ καὶ εἶπεν) καὶ εἶπεν Ἰωσήφ: ἐγὼ ἀπογράψομαι τοὺς υἱούς μου. ταύτην δὲ τὴν παῖδα τί ποιήσω; πῶς αὐτὴν ἀπογράψομαι; γυναῖκα ἐμήν; ἐπαισχύνομαι. ἀλλὰ θυγατέρα; οἶδαν οἱ υἱοὶ Ἰσραήλ, ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν θυγάτηρ μου. αὐτὴ ἡ ἡμέρα Κυρίου ποιήσει, ὡς βούλεται. 2 καὶ ἔστρωσεν τὸν ὄνον, καὶ ἐκάθισεν αὐτὴν καὶ ἧλκεν ὁ υἱὸς αὐτοῦ καὶ ἠκολούθησεν Σαμουήλ (αὐτός). καὶ ἤγγισαν ἐπὶ μίλιον τρίτον, καὶ ἐστράφη Ἰωσὴφ καὶ εἶδεν αὐτὴν στυγνὴν καὶ ἔλεγεν: ἴσως τὸ ἐν αὐτῇ χειμάζει αὐτήν. καὶ πάλιν ἐστράφη Ἰωσὴφ καὶ εἶδεν αὐτὴν γελοῦσαν καὶ εἶπεν: Μαριάμμη, τί ἐστίν σοι τοῦτο, ὅτι τὸ πρόσωπόν σου βλέπω ποτὲ μὲν γελοῦντα ποτὲ δὲ στυγνάζον; καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ: Ἰωσήφ, ὅτι δύο λαοὺς βλέπω ἐν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς μου, ἔνα κλαίοντα καὶ κοπτόμενον καὶ ἔνα χαίροντα καὶ ἀγαλλιῶντα. 3 καὶ ἤλθωσεν ἀνὰ μέσον τῆς ὁδοῦ, καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Μαριάμμη: κατάγαγέ με ἀπὸ τοῦ ὄνου, ὅτι (τ)ὸ ἐν ἐμοὶ ἐπείγει με προελθεῖν. καὶ κατήγαγεν αὐτὴν ἐκεῖ καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ: ποῦ σε ἀπάξω καὶ σκεπάσω σου τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην, ὅτι ὁ τόπος ἔρημός ἐστιν;

181 Καὶ εὗρεν ἐκεῖ σπήλαιον καὶ εἰσήγαγεν αὐτὴν καὶ παρέστησεν αὐτῇ τοὺς υἱοὺς αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ζητῆσαι μαῖαν ( Ἑβραίαν) ἐν χώρᾳ Βηθλεέμ. 2 ἐγὼ δὲ Ἰωσὴφ περιεπάτουν καὶ οὐ περιεπάτουν. καὶ ἀνέβλεψα εἰς τὸν πόλον τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ εἶδον αὐτὸν ἑστῶτα, καὶ εἰς τὸν ἀέρα καὶ εἶδον αὐτὸν ἔκθαμβον, καὶ τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἠρεμοῦντα. καὶ ἐπέβλεψα ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν καὶ εἶδον σκάφην κειμένην καὶ ἐργάτας ἀνακειμένους, καὶ ἦσαν αἱ χεῖρες αὐτῶν ἐν τῇ σκάφῃ. καὶ οἱ μασόμενοι οὐκ ἐμασῶντο, καὶ οἱ αἴροντες οὐκ ἀνέφερον, καὶ οἱ προσφέροντες τῷ στόματι αὐτῶν οὐ προσέφερον. ἀλλὰ πάντων ἦν τὰ πρόσωπα ἄνω βλέποντα. 3 καὶ εἶδον ἐλαυνόμενα πρόβατα, καὶ τὰ πρόβατα ἑστήκει: καὶ ἐπῆρεν ὁ ποιμὴν τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ τοῦ πατάξαι αὐτά, καὶ ἡ χεὶρ αὐτοῦ ἔστη ἄνω. καὶ ἀνέβλεψα ἐπὶ τὸν χείμαρρον τοῦ ποταμοῦ καὶ εἶδον ἐρίφους καὶ τὰ στόματα αὐτῶν ἐπικείμενα τῷ ὕδατι καὶ μὴ πίνοντα. καὶ πάντα ὑπὸ θῆξιν (θήζει, θίζει, θρίζιν, ἔκπληξιν) τῷ δρόμῳ ἀπηλαύνοντο.

Image result for joseph and midwife in bethlehem

The Trial of an Unexpected Pregnancy: The Protoevangelium of James

This is a continuation of the Christmas Story in the apocryphal Gospel of James [also sometimes called the “Infancy” Gospel” or the Protoevangelium of James].

The Gospel According to James 15-16.

“Then the Scribe Annas came to him and said to him, “Why didn’t you appear at our assembly?” And Joseph said to him, “Because I was completely worn out from my travel and I had rested only a day.” Then Annas turned and saw the pregnant virgin. Then he left the house quickly and told the top-priest, “Joseph, whom you will witness, has broken the law severely.” And the Priest said, “What is this?” and Annas responded, “The virgin whom he took from the temple of the Lord, he has defiled her. And the priest said to him in response, “Joseph, Joseph did this?” And Annas said, “Send your attendents and you will discover a pregnant virgin.

So the attendants left and they found her, just as he said, and they led her with Joseph to judgment. The priest said, “Mary, why did you do this and lay low your soul and forget the Lord, your God, when you were raised up in the Holiest of Holies and took food from an angel’s hand—you even heard their hymn and you danced among them? Why did you do this?” She wept bitterly, saying, “As the Lord God lives, I am clean before him and I have known no man.”

So then the priest said, “Joseph, why did you do this?” And Joseph responded, “As the Lord, my God lives, I am innocent concerning her.” Then the priest said, “Do not bear false witness, but speak the truth. You hid your marriage and you did not declare it openly to the sons of Israel, and you did not bow your head under the powerful hand so that your seed would be blessed.” Then Joseph was silent.

Then the priest spoke, “Give the virgin whom you took from the temple of the Lord back. And, as he cried, Joseph stood still. Then the Priest said, “I will make you drink the Lord’s water of testing and it will make your sins clear in your eyes.” Then the priest had Joseph drink the water and sent him to the hills. And he came back, whole. He also made the virgin drink and sent her into the hills. She came back too. The whole people wondered at this, that there was no sin revealed among them. And the priest said, “If the Lord God does not make their sin manifest, then I do not judge them and he has freed them.” Then Joseph took Mary and returned to his own home, feeling joy and glorying the god of Israel.”

151 Ἠλθεν δὲ Ἄννας ὁ γραμματεὺς πρὸς αὐτὸν καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ: διὰ τί οὐκ ἐφάνης ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ (συνόδῳ) ἡμῶν; καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ἰωσήφ: ὅτι κεκμηκὼς ἤμην ἐκ τῆς ὁδοῦ καὶ ἀνεπαυσάμην ἡμέραν μίαν . καὶ ἐστράφη Ἄννας καὶ εἶδεν τὴν παρθένον ὀγκωμένην. 2 καὶ ἀπελθὼν δρομαίως πρὸς τὸν (ἀρχ-)ἱερέα εἶπεν αὐτῷ: Ἰωσήφ, ὅν σὺ μαρτυρεῖς, ἠνόμησε σφόδρα. καὶ εἶπεν ὁ ἱερεύς: τί τοῦτο; καὶ εἶπεν Ἄννας: τὴν παρθένον, ἥν παρέλαβεν ἐκ ναοῦ κυρίου, ἐμίανεν αὐτήν. καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ ἱερεὺς εἶπεν αὐτῷ: Ἰωσὴφ; Ἰωσὴφ τοῦτο ἐποίησεν; καὶ εἶπεν Ἄννας: ἀπόστειλον ὑπηρέτας καὶ εὑρέσεις τὴν παρθένον ὀγκωμένην. καὶ ἀπῆλθον οἱ ὑπηρέται καὶ εὗρον αὐτήν, καθὼς εἶπεν, καὶ ἀπήγαγον ἅμα τῷ Ἰωσὴφ εἰς τὸ κριτήριον. 3 καὶ εἶπεν ὁ ἱερεύς: Μαριάμ, τί τοῦτο ἐποίησας καὶ ἐταπείνωσας τὴν ψυχήν σου καὶ ἐπελάθου κυρίου τοῦ θεοῦ σου, ἡ ἀνατραφεῖσα εἰς τὰ ἅγια τῶν ἁγίων καὶ λαβοῦσα τροφὴν ἐκ χειρὸς ἀγγέλων, σὺ ἡ ἀκούσασα τὸν ὕμνον αὐτῶν καὶ χορεύσασα ἐνώπιον αὐτῶν; τί τοῦτο ἐποίησας; ἡ δὲ ἔκλαυσε πικρῶς λέγουσα: ζῇ κύριος ὁ θεός, ὅτι καθαρά εἰμι ἐγὼ ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ καὶ ἄνδρα οὐ γινώσκω. 4 καὶ εἶπεν ὁ ἀρχιερεύς: Ἰωσήφ, τί τοῦτο ἐποίησας; καὶ εἶπεν Ἰωσήφ: ζῇ κύριος ὁ θεός μου, ὅτι καθαρός εἰμι ἐξ αὐτῆς. καὶ εἶπεν ὁ ἀρχιερεύς: μὴ ψευδομαρτύρει, ἀλλὰ λέγε τὸ ἀληθές: ἔκλεψας τοὺς γάμους καὶ οὐκ ἐφανέρωσας τοῖς υἱοῖς Ἰσραήλ, καὶ οὐκ ἔκλινας τὴν κεφαλήν σου ὑπὸ τὴν κραταιὰν χεῖρα, ὅπως εὐλογηθῇ τὸ σπέρμα σου. καὶ Ἰωσὴφ ἐσίγησεν.

16.1 Καὶ εἶπεν ὁ ἱερεύς: ἀπόδος τὴν παρθένον, ἥν παρέλαβες ἐκ ναοῦ κυρίου. καὶ περίδακρυς γενόμενος ὁ Ἰωσὴφ ἔστη. καὶ εἶπεν ὁ ἱερεύς: ποτιῶ ὑμᾶς τὸ ὕδωρ τῆς ἐλέγξεως κυρίου καὶ φανερώσει τὰ ἁμαρτήματα ὑμῶν ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖς ὑμῶν. 2 καὶ λαβὼν ὁ ἱερεὺς ἐπότισε τὸν Ἰωσὴφ καὶ ἔπεμψεν αὐτὸν εἰς τὴν ὀρεινήν: καὶ ἦλθεν ὁλόκληρος. ἐπότισεν δὲ καὶ τὴν παρθένον καὶ ἔπεμψεν καὶ αὐτὴν εἰς τὴν ὀρεινήν: καὶ ἦλθεν ὁλόκληρος, καὶ ἐθαύμασε πᾶς ὁ λαός, ὅτι ἁμαρτία οὐχ εὑρέθη ἐν αὐτοῖς. 3 καὶ εἶπεν ὁ ἱερεύς: εἰ κύριος ὁ θεὸς οὐκ ἐφανέρωσεν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ὑμῶν, οὐδὲ ἐγὼ κρίνω ὑμᾶς καὶ ἀπέλυσεν αὐτούς. καὶ παρέλαβεν Ἰωσὴφ τὴν Μαριὰμ καὶ ἀπίει εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ χαίρων καὶ δοξάζων τὸν θεὸν τοῦ Ἰσραήλ.

Image result for pregnant mary and joseph ancient

Mary’s Pregnancy and Joseph’s Dream: the Protoevangelium of James Continues

This is a continuation of the Christmas Story in the apocryphal Gospel of James [also sometimes called the “Infancy” Gospel” or the Protoevangelium of James].

The Gospel According to James 12-14

12.1 “So Mary spun the purple and red cloth and returned them to the temple. The priest praised her and said, “Mary, the Lord God is glorifying your name among every race on the earth, and you will be praised by the Lord.” Mary found some joy in this and went to her relative Elisabeth and knocked on her door. When Elisabeth heard, she threw up her hands and rant to open the door and greet her, saying, “From where is it that this comes to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me! Look, the child which is in me has jumped and blessed you.” Mary had forgotten the mysteries which Gabriel had mentioned to her, and she looked up to heaven, saying, “Who am I that all the women are blessing me?”

She spent three months with Elisabeth and then returned to her on home. As each day went by, her stomach grew larger and she was hiding herself from the sons of Israel. She was then fifteen years old, when these mysteries were happening.”

13.1. In the sixth month, Joseph came from his building and returned to his home and found Mary, who was growing. He struck his forehead and threw himself to the ground and wept, saying, “With what kind of face can I look to the Lord, my God? What shall I say about this girl, who I took from the temple of the Lord as a virgin and did not keep her safe? Who set a snare for me? Who did this terrible thing in my home and defiled the virgin? Hasn’t Adam’s story been repeated in me? For just as Adam  was in the hour of his thanksgiving, a snake came, found Eve alone, and deceived her. That has happened to me too.

And then Joseph rose up from his his sackcloth and called Mary and said to her, “beloved to god, why did you do this? Why did you lay your soul low? Have you forgotten the Lord, your God? Your soul was raised up in the Holiest of Holies and took food from the hands of an angel and danced among them.” She wept, bitterly, saying, “As the Lord God lives, I am clean and I have not known a man.” Joseph said to her, “Where this this thing in your stomach come from?” And she said, “As the Lord God Lives, I do not know where this thing in my stomach came from.”

14“And Joseph, because he was terribly afraid, departed from her and was debating what he should do about her. He said to himself, “If I should hide her error, I will be found to be fighting the law of the Lord. And if I make this clear to the sons of Israel, I fear that, should what is inside her be angelic seed, I will be found to betray innocent blood to a punishment of death. What should I do about her? I will let her leave me in secret.” As he considered these things, night overtook him.

And, look, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not feel fear about this child. For this offspring has been sewn in her from divine breath. You will give him the name Jesus. For he will save his people from their sins.” Then Joseph woke from his dream and believed that the God of Israel had given to him this blessing—so he guarded the girl.”

12. Καὶ ἐποίησεν τὴν πορφύραν καὶ τὸ κόκκινον καὶ ἀπήνεγκεν αὐτὰ τῷ ἱερεῖ, καὶ εὐλόγησεν αὐτὴν ὁ ἱερεὺς καὶ εἶπεν: Μαριάμ, ἐμεγάλυνε κύριος ὁ θεὸς τὸ ὄνομά σου ἐν πάσαις ταῖς γενεαῖς τῆς γῆς καὶ ἔσῃ εὐλογημένη ὑπὸ κυρίου. 2 χαρὰν δὲ λαβοῦσα Μαριὰμ ἀπῆλθε πρὸς τὴν συγγενίδα αὐτῆς Ἐλισάβετ καὶ ἔκρουσε πρὸς τῇ θύρᾳ. καὶ ἀκούσασα Ἐλισάβετ ἔρριψε τὸ ἐν χερσὶν, καὶ δραμοῦσα ἤνοιξεν αὐτῇ καὶ εὐλόγησεν αὐτὴν καὶ εἶπεν: πόθεν μοι τοῦτο, ἵνα ἡ μήτηρ τοῦ κυρίου μου ἔλθῃ πρὸς ἐμέ; ἰδοὺ γὰρ τὸ ἐν ἐμοὶ βρέφος ἐσκίρτησε καὶ εὐλόγησέν σε. Μαριὰμ δὲ ἐπελάθετο τῶν μυστηρίων, ὧν εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτὴν Γαβριήλ, καὶ ἀτενίσασα εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν εἶπεν: τίς εἰμι ἐγώ, ὅτι πᾶσαι αἱ γυναῖκες μακαριοῦσί με; 3 ἐποίησε δὲ τρεῖς μῆνας πρὸς τὴν Ἐλισάβετ καὶ ἀπῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτῆς. ἡμέρᾳ δὲ ἀφ’ ἡμέρας ἡ γαστὴρ αὐτῆς ὀγκοῦτο, καὶ ἔκρυβεν ἑαυτὴν ἀπὸ τῶν υἱῶν Ἰσραήλ. ἦν δὲ ἐτῶν πεντεκαίδεκα, ὅτε τὰ μυστήρια ταῦτα ἐγένοντο.

13.1 Ἐγένετο δὲ ἕκτος μὴν καὶ ἦλθεν Ἰωσὴφ ἀπὸ τῶν οἰκοδομῶν αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰσῆλθεν ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ αὐτοῦ καὶ εὗρε τὴν Μαριὰμ ὀγκωμένην. καὶ ἔτυψε τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ καὶ ἔρριψεν ἑαυτὸν χαμαὶ καὶ ἔκλαυσε λέγων: ποίῳ προσόπῳ ἀτενίσω πρὸς κύριον τὸν θεόν μου; τί δὴ εἴπω περὶ τῆς κόρης ταύτης, ὅτι παρθένον αὐτὴν παρέλαβον ἐκ ναοῦ κυρίου καὶ οὐκ ἐφύλαξα αὐτήν; τίς ὁ θηρεύσας με; τίς τὸ πονηρὸν τοῦτο ἐποίησεν ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ μου καὶ ἐμίανεν τὴν παρθένον; μήτι εἰς ἐμὲ ἀνεκεφαλαιόθη ἡ ἱστορία Ἀδάμ; ὥσπερ γὰρ Ἀδὰμ ἦν ἐν τῇ ὥρᾳ τῆς δοξολογίας αὐτοῦ καὶ ἦλθεν ὁ ὄφις καὶ εὗρεν τὴν Εὔαν μόνην καὶ ἐξηπάτησεν αὐτήν, οὕτως κἀμοί συνέβη. 2 καὶ ἀνέστη Ἰωσὴφ ἀπὸ τοῦ σάκκου καὶ ἐκάλεσε τὴν Μαριὰμ καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ: μεμελημένη τῷ θεῷ, τί τοῦτο ἐποίησας; τί ἐταπείνωσας τὴν ψυχήν σου; ἐπελάθου κυρίου τοῦ θεοῦ σου, ἡ ἀνατραφεῖσα εἰς τὰ ἅγια τῶν ἁγίων καὶ λαβοῦσα τροφὴν ἐκ χειρὸς ἀγγέλου καὶ χορεύσασα ἐν αὐτοῖς; 3 ἡ δὲ ἔκλαυσε πικρῶς λέγουσα: ζῇ κύριος ὁ θεός, καθότι καθαρά εἰμι ἐγὼ καὶ ἄνδρα οὐ γινώσκω. εἶπε δὲ αὐτῇ Ἰωσήφ: πόθεν οὖν ἐστι τοῦτο ἐν τῇ γαστρί σου; εἶπε δὲ αὐτῷ: ζῇ κύριος ὁ θεός μου, καθότι οὐ γινώσκω, πόθεν ἐστὶ τοῦτο τὸ ἐν τῇ γαστρί μου.

14.1 Καὶ ἐφοβήθη Ἰωσὴφ σφόδρα καὶ ἠρέμησεν ἐξ αὐτῆς καὶ διελογίζετο, τί αὐτὴν ποιήσει, εἶπε δὲ ἐν ἑαυτῷ: ἐὰν αὐτῆς κρύψω τὸ ἁμάρτημα, εὑρεθήσομαι μαχόμενος τῷ νόμῳ κυρίου: καὶ ἐὰν αὐτὴν φανερὰν ποιήσω τοῖς υἱοῖς Ἰσραήλ, φοβοῦμαι, μήπως ἀγγελικόν ἐστι τὸ ἐν αὐτῇ καὶ εὑρεθήσομαι παραδιδοὺς αἷμα ἀθῷον εἰς κρίμα θανάτου. τί οὖν αὐτὴν ποιήσω; λάθρᾳ αὐτὴν ἀπολύσω ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ. καὶ ταῦτα αὐτοῦ ἐνθυμουμένου κατέλαβεν αὐτὸν ἡ νύξ. 2 καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος κυρίου φαίνεται αὐτῷ κατ’ ὄναρ λέγων: Ἰωσήφ (υἱὸς Δαυίδ), μὴ φοβηθῇς τὴν παῖδα ταύτην. τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν ἐκ πνεύματός ἐστιν ἁγίου, καὶ καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν: αὐτὸς γὰρ σώσει τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν. καὶ ἀνέστη Ἰωσὴφ ἀπὸ τοῦ ὕπνου καὶ ἐδόξασε τὸν θεὸν Ἰσραὴλ τὸν δόντα αὐτῷ τὴν χάριν ταύτην, καὶ ἐφύλασσε τὴν παῖδα.

“Will I Conceive Like Other Women?” Mary and Gabriel in the Protoevangelium of James

This is a continuation of the Christmas Story in the apocryphal Gospel of James [also sometimes called the “Infancy” Gospel” or the Protoevangelium of James].

The Gospel According to James, 10–11

10.“There was another council of the priests where they were saying, “Let’s make a veil for the temple of the Lord.” Then a priest said, “Call to me her seven unsullied maidens from the tribe of David.” So his assistants went out and looked for seven and found six. Then the priest remembered that Mary was from the tribe of David and was unsullied. So his assistants went and brought her back.

The priest led the virgins into the temple of the Lord and said, “Draw lots for me here as to who will weave the gold and unsullied cloth and the silk and linen and hyacinth and the red and the undiluted purple. The red and purple lot fell to Mary. She took it and went to her home. In that season, Zakharias went silent. Mary took the red and was weaving it.

11. Later, she went out with a pitcher to fill it with water, and , look, there was a voice speaking, “Greetings, most gracious one, the Lord is with you and you are blessed among women.” Then Mary was looking left and right for where the voice came from. Filled with a tremble, she returned to her house where she put the pitcher down, took up the purple again, sat down on a seat and was working it. Then, look, an angel of the Lord appeared and said to hear, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found grace from the Lord openly and you will conceive from his word.”

Once Mary heard this, she responded, asking, “Will I conceive, as every woman bears children?” and the messenger responded to her, “Not, in that way, Mary. For the power of God will cast a shadow over you and from that a sacred child will be born from you who will be called the Son of the Highest. And you will give him the name Jesus. For he will save his people from their sins.” And Mary said, “Look, I am the slave of the Lord. May it happen according to your word.”

10.1 Ἐγένετο δὲ συμβούλιον τῶν ἱερέων λεγόντων: ποιήσωμεν καταπέτασμα τῷ ναῷ κυρίου. καὶ εἶπεν ὁ ἱερεύς: καλέσατέ μοι ὧδε ἑπτὰ παρθένους ἀμιάντους ἐκ φυλῆς Δαυίδ. καὶ ἀπῆλθον οἱ ὑπηρέται καὶ εὕρησαν ἑπτά (εὗρον ἕξ). καὶ ἐμνήσθη ὁ ἱερεύς, ὅτι Μαρία ἐκ φυλῆς Δαυίδ ἐστι καὶ ἀμίαντός ἐστιν. καὶ ἀπῆλθαν οἱ ὑπηρέται καὶ ἤγαγον αὐτήν. καὶ εἰσήγαγεν αὐτὰς ὁ ἱερεὺς ἐν τῷ ναῷ κυρίου καὶ εἶπεν: λάχετέ μοι ὧδε, τίς νήσει τὸ χρυσίον καὶ τὸ ἀμίαντον καὶ τὸ βύσσινον καὶ τὸ σηρικοῦν καὶ τὸ ὑάκινθον καὶ τὸ κόκκινον καὶ τὴν ἀληθινὴν πορφύραν. καὶ ἔλαχεν τὴν Μαριὰμ τὸ κόκκινον καὶ ἡ ἀληθινὴ πορφύρα. καὶ λαβοῦσα ἀπῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτῆς. τῷ δὲ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ Ζαχαρίας ἐσίγησεν. Μαριὰμ δὲ λαβοῦσα τὸ κόκκινον ἔκλωσεν.

11.1 Καὶ λαβοῦσα κάλπιν ἐξῆλθεν γεμίσαι ὕδωρ, καὶ ἰδοὺ φωνὴ λέγουσα: χαῖρε κεχαριτωμένη, ὁ κύριος μετὰ σοῦ, εὐλογημένη σὺ ἐν γυναιξί. καὶ περιεβλέπετο δεξιὰ καὶ ἀριστερά, πόθεν αὕτη ἡ φωνὴ ὑπάρχει, καὶ ἔντρομος γενομένη ἀπῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτῆς. καὶ ἀναπαύσασα τὴν κάλπην ἔλαβε πάλιν τὴν πορφύραν καὶ ἐκάθισεν ἐπὶ τὸν θρόνον καὶ εἷλκεν αὐτήν. 2 καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος κυρίου ἐπέστη λέγων αὐτῇ: μὴ φοβοῦ, Μαριάμ, εὗρες γὰρ χάριν ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ συλλήψῃ ἐκ λόγου αὐτοῦ. ἀκούσασα δὲ Μαριὰμ διεκρίθη ἐν ἑαυτῇ λέγουσα: ἐγὼ συλλήψομαι, ὡς πᾶσα γυνὴ γεννᾷ; 3 καὶ λέγει πρὸς αὐτὴν ὁ ἄγγελος: οὐχ οὕτως, Μαριάμ: δύναμις γὰρ θεοῦ ἐπισκιάσει σοι, διὸ καὶ τὸ γεννόμενον (ἐκ σοῦ) ἅγιον κληθήσεται υἱὸς ὑψίστου, καὶ καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν: αὐτὸς γὰρ σώσει τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν. καὶ εἶπεν Μαριάμ: ἰδοὺ ἡ δούλη κυρίου: γένοιτό μοι κατὰ τὸ ῥῆμά σου.

The Annunciation (detail) by Philippe de Champaigne

Deep (Adult) Thoughts with Aristotle: On Drinking and Sex, and Combinations Thereof

From Aristotle’s Problems:

872b

“Why can’t drunk people have sex?”

Διὰ τί οἱ μεθύοντες ἀφροδισιάζειν ἀδύνατοί εἰσιν;

874b

“Why are the drunk more prone to tears?”

Διὰ τί οἱ μεθύοντες ἀριδάκρυοι μᾶλλον;

 

“Why is it hard to sleep when you’re drunk?”

Διὰ τί τοῖς μεθύουσιν οὐκ ἐγγίνεται ὕπνος

 

“Why does someone who is buzzed act more inebriated than either the drunk or the sober?”

Διὰ τί ὁ ἀκροθώραξ μᾶλλον παροινεῖ τοῦ μᾶλλον μεθύοντος καὶ τοῦ νήφοντος;

876b

“Why does a drinker’s tongue stumble?”

Διὰ τί τῶν μεθυόντων ἡ γλῶττα πταίει;

 

877a

“Why is being barefoot not an advantage for sex?”

Διὰ τί ἡ ἀνυποδησία οὐ συμφέρει πρὸς ἀφροδισιασμούς;

 

“Why does sex wear humans out more than other animals?”

Διὰ τί ἐκλύεται μάλιστα τῶν ζῴων ἀφροδισιάσας ἄνθρωπος;

 

877b

“Why do people fasting have sex so quickly?”

Διὰ τί νήστεις θᾶττον ἀφροδισιάζουσιν;

878a

“Why is it harder for people for have sex in water?”

Διὰ τί ἐν τῷ ὕδατι ἧττον δύνανται ἀφροδισιάζειν οἱ ἄνθρωποι;

 

880b

“Why does a person’s eyes weaken if they have sex?”

Διὰ τί, ἐὰν ἀφροδισιάζῃ ὁ ἄνθρωπος, οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ ἀσθενοῦσι μάλιστα;

 

Image result for Ancient GReek Aristotle

A series of responses by poet and reader Eric Sigler:

No automatic alt text available.

Running, Sitting, Feeling Cold: Deep Thoughts with Aristotle

Aristotle, Problems

882b

“Why do people fall more while running than walking?”

Διὰ τί μᾶλλον θέοντες ἢ βαδίζοντες πίπτουσιν;

883b

“Why does the road seem longer when we don’t know how far we are walking than when we do, even if everything else is the same?”

Διὰ τί πλείων δοκεῖ ἡ ὁδὸς εἶναι, ὅταν μὴ εἰδότες βαδίζωμεν πόση τις, ἢ ὅταν εἰδότες, ἐὰν τἆλλα ὁμοίως | ἔχοντες τύχωμεν;

883b

“Why is running harder than walking?”

Διὰ τί χαλεπώτερον θεῖν ἢ βαδίζειν;

884a

“Why do short walks wear us out?”

Διὰ τί κοπώδεις οἱ βραχεῖς τῶν περιπάτων;

 

885b

“Why does sitting make some people fat while it makes others thin?”

Διὰ τί ἡ καθέδρα τοὺς μὲν παχύνει τῶν ἀνθρώπων, τοὺς δὲ ἰσχναίνει

886a

“Why do people yawn when they see others yawn? Is it because they desire something if they are reminded of it, especially with things that are easily encouraged, like urination?”

Διὰ τί τοῖς χασμωμένοις ἀντιχασμῶνται ὡς ἐπὶ τὸ | πολύ; ἢ διότι, ἐὰν ἀναμνησθῶσιν ὀργῶντες, ἐνεργοῦσιν, μάλιστα δὲ τὰ εὐκίνητα, οἷον οὐροῦσιν;

[…]

“is it because every voice and sound is actually breath?”

ἢ διότι φωνὴ μὲν πᾶσα καὶ ψόφος πνεῦμά ἐστιν;

887a

“Why when we see someone being cut or burned or harmed or suffering any other terror do we feel grief in our minds?”

Διὰ τί, ἐπειδὰν τεμνόμενόν τινα ἴδωμεν ἢ καιόμενον ἢ στρεβλούμενον ἢ ἄλλο τι τῶν δεινῶν πάσχοντα, συναλγοῦμεν τῇ διανοίᾳ;

888b

“Why do we shiver after we’ve finished peeing?”

Διὰ τί ἐν τῇ τελευταίᾳ προέσει τοῦ οὔρου φρίττομεν;

889a

“Why don’t angry people feel the cold?”

Διὰ τί οἱ ὀργιζόμενοι οὐ ῥιγῶσιν;

Image result for Aristotle

Marathon Myths: A Single Herald or a Collective Dash?

This re-post is in honor of our friends running today in Boston. Sorry we couldn’t arrange for warmer and drier weather!

According to many accounts online, our modern marathon is somehow related to Pheidippides’ run to Athens after the battle against the Persians in 490 BCE. As the story goes, When he arrived before the assembled citizens, Pheidippides announced “we have conquered” (nenikêkamen) and then then expired.

The problem is that this story is total hogwash. There was no Pheidippides (except in Aristophanes’ Clouds, and he was obsessed with horses). No one is ever recorded saying in ancient Greek “we have conquered” after the battle. I know where some of this comes from (Plutarch and Lucian, see below) but I don’t know where the rest does. Although some authors do have a messenger announcing the victory, the present form of nikâo is used. And the name changes.

Furthermore, the message of the story changes radically from its different context. In the first account of running and Marathon, Herodotus tells of an Athenian Philippides who ran 140 miles to Sparta and back to try to get help:

Herodotus, 6.105-6

“First, the generals who were still in the city sent the herald Philippidês[1] to Sparta, an Athenian man, a long-distance runner [hêmerodromên[2]] who made a career of it. Pan appeared to him—as Philippidês claimed and reported to the Athenians—around the Parthenian mountain past Tegea. He claimed that Pan shouted out the name of Philippidês and ordered him to ask the Athenians why they were paying him no attention even though he was well-disposed toward them and was often helpful to them and would be again in the future. And because they believed these things to be true, since their affairs were going well, they established a temple to Pan on the akropolis and they honor him for that message with annual sacrifices and a race by torchlight.

When Philipiddes was sent by the generals, that time when he said that Pan appeared to him, he arrived in Sparta on the next day.[3] He went straight to the officials and said “Spartans, the Athenians need you to help them and not tolerate that one of the oldest cities among the Greeks fall into slavery at the hands of Barbarian. Eretria has already been enslaved and Greece has become weaker by the loss of a significant city.” He announced what he had been ordered to announce and it was to their taste to help the Athenians but they were incapable of doing so immediately because they did not want to violate the custom: for it was the ninth day of the current month, and they said that on that day they could not leave until the moon was full.”

Καὶ πρῶτα μὲν ἐόντες ἔτι ἐν τῷ ἄστεϊ οἱ στρατηγοὶ ἀποπέμπουσι ἐς Σπάρτην κήρυκα Φιλιππίδην, ᾿Αθηναῖον μὲν ἄνδρα, ἄλλως δὲ ἡμεροδρόμην τε καὶ τοῦτο μελετῶντα. Τῷ δή, ὡς αὐτός τε ἔλεγε Φιλιππίδης καὶ ᾿Αθηναίοισι ἀπήγγελλε, περὶ τὸ Παρθένιον ὄρος τὸ ὑπὲρ Τεγέης ὁ Πὰν περιπίπτει· βώσαντα δὲ τὸ οὔνομα τοῦ Φιλιππίδεω τὸν Πᾶνα ᾿Αθηναίοισι κελεῦσαι ἀπαγγεῖλαι δι’ ὅ τι ἑωυτοῦ οὐδεμίαν ἐπιμελείην ποιεῦνται, ἐόντος εὐνόου ᾿Αθηναίοισι καὶ πολλαχῇ γενομένου σφι ἤδη χρησίμου, τὰ δ’ ἔτι καὶ ἐσομένου. Καὶ ταῦτα μὲν ᾿Αθηναῖοι, καταστάντων σφι εὖ ἤδη τῶν πρηγμάτων, πιστεύσαντες εἶναι ἀληθέα ἱδρύσαντο ὑπὸ τῇ ᾿Ακροπόλι Πανὸς ἱρόν, καὶ αὐτὸν ἀπὸ ταύτης τῆς ἀγγελίης θυσίῃσί τε ἐπετείοισι καὶ λαμπάδι ἱλάσκονται. Τότε δὲ πεμφθεὶς ὑπὸ τῶν στρατηγῶν ὁ Φιλιππίδης οὗτος, ὅτε πέρ οἱ ἔφη καὶ τὸν Πᾶνα φανῆναι, δευτεραῖος ἐκ τοῦ ᾿Αθηναίων ἄστεος ἦν ἐν Σπάρτῃ, ἀπικόμενος δὲ ἐπὶ τοὺς ἄρχοντας ἔλεγε· «῏Ω Λακεδαιμόνιοι, ᾿Αθηναῖοι ὑμέων δέονται σφίσι βοηθῆσαι καὶ μὴ περιιδεῖν πόλιν ἀρχαιοτάτην ἐν τοῖσι ῞Ελλησι δουλοσύνῃ περιπεσοῦσαν πρὸς ἀνδρῶν βαρβάρων· καὶ γὰρ νῦν ᾿Ερέτριά τε ἠνδραπόδισται καὶ πόλι λογίμῳ ἡ ῾Ελλὰς γέγονε ἀσθενεστέρη.» ῾Ο μὲν δή σφι τὰ ἐντεταλμένα ἀπήγγελλε, τοῖσι δὲ ἕαδε μὲν βοηθέειν ᾿Αθηναίοισι, ἀδύνατα δέ σφι ἦν τὸ παραυτίκα ποιέειν ταῦτα οὐ βουλομένοισι λύειν τὸν νόμον· ἦν γὰρ ἱσταμένου τοῦ μηνὸς εἰνάτη, εἰνάτῃ δὲ οὐκ ἐξελεύσεσθαι ἔφασαν μὴ οὐ πλήρεος ἐόντος τοῦ κύκλου.

This story is all about the Spartan failure to help the Greeks and the origin of a certain shrine to Pan. (In fact, in most authors who even mention this tale, it is the later aspect that draws attention: cf. Demosthenes 14.33; Pausanius 1.28 Libanius 11.1.9).

Schol. A. ad. Ael. Aristides 125.3.14 (cf. Schol ad. Clem Alex. 310.28)

“For they say that when the Persians were attacking the Athenians sent Philippides the day-runner to the Spartans. When Pan encountered him in the Parthenian mountain he said “I will be present in the battle, tell the Athenians to honor me.” The Spartans did not come because of the full-moon festival, and the Athenians defended alone with many fewer Plataians.”

φασὶ γὰρ, ἐπιόντων τῶν Περσῶν πέμψαι τοὺς ᾿Αθηναίους πρὸς Λακεδαιμονίους Φιλιππίδην τὸν ἡμερόδρομον, ἐν ᾿Αρκαδίᾳ δὲ ἐν τῷ Παρθενίῳ ὄρει συναντήσας αὐτῷ ὁ Πὰν εἶπεν ὅτι τῇ μάχῃ παρέσομαι· εἰπὲ δὲ ᾿Αθηναίοις τιμᾶν με. Λακεδαιμόνιοι μὲν οὖν οὐκ ἦλθον διὰ τὴν πανσέληνον, μόνοι δὲ ᾿Αθηναῖοι μετὰ πάνυ ὀλίγων Πλαταιέων συνέβαλλον. A.

There is running from Marathon to Athens. But in Herodotus’ story, the entire Athenian army goes on a fast-march from the battle to defend the city against the Persian fleet:

Herodotus, 116

“The Persians sailed around Cape Sounion, but the Athenians went to help the city as fast as their feet were able; they arrived before the barbarians did and made their camp as soon as they appeared in the temple of Herakles, the one in Kynosarges. The barbarians, who had been at anchor near the Athenian port at that time, Phaleron, retreated and sailed their ships back toward Asia.”

Οὗτοι μὲν δὴ περιέπλεον Σούνιον· ᾿Αθηναῖοι δὲ ὡς ποδῶν εἶχον τάχιστα ἐβοήθεον ἐς τὸ ἄστυ, καὶ ἔφθησάν τε ἀπικόμενοι πρὶν ἢ τοὺς βαρβάρους ἥκειν, καὶ ἐστρατοπεδεύσαντο ἀπιγμένοι ἐξ ῾Ηρακλείου τοῦ ἐν Μαραθῶνι ἐν ἄλλῳ ῾Ηρακλείῳ τῷ ἐν Κυνοσάργεϊ. Οἱ δὲ βάρβαροι τῇσι νηυσὶ ὑπεραιωρηθέντες Φαλήρου (τοῦτο γὰρ ἦν ἐπίνειον τότε τῶν ᾿Αθηναίων), ὑπὲρ τούτου ἀνακωχεύσαντες τὰς νέας ἀπέπλεον ὀπίσω ἐς τὴν ᾿Ασίην.

This tale is actually more impressive and meaningful than the apocryphal one. The entire army ran the distance of 26 or so miles as a group to defend their homes. This isn’t about individual sacrifice or excellence, but rather about the collective will and glory of a city ruled by the people and for the people (to wax poetic a bit). This is, I think, a much more interesting and inspiring tale if it is taken seriously.

But sometime between the Peloponnesian War (421-404 BCE) and the Early Roman Empire (1st Century CE), the story changes. It takes on some of the elements of the false tale circulated widely. The two most well-known accounts are from Plutarch and Lucian. Plutarch, in typical style, distances himself from the tale by saying that one guy alleges that another guy says that…:

Plutarch, On the Glory of Athens, 347c (2nd Century CE)

“Heracleidês of Pontikos writes that Thersippos the Erkhian reported back about the battle of Marathon; but most say that it was Eukles who ran hot from battle in his arms and who, just after entering the gates could say only “Greetings” and “we are rejoicing” and then die.”

τὴν τοίνυν ἐν Μαραθῶνι μάχην ἀπήγγειλεν, ὡς μὲν ῾Ηρακλείδης ὁ Ποντικὸς (fr. 81) ἱστορεῖ, Θέρσιππος ὁ ᾿Ερχιεύς· οἱ δὲ πλεῖστοι λέγουσιν Εὐκλέα δραμόντα σὺν τοῖς ὅπλοις θερμὸν ἀπὸ τῆς μάχης καὶ ταῖς θύραις ἐμπεσόντα τῶν πρώτων τοσοῦτον μόνον εἰπεῖν ‘χαίρετε’ καὶ ‘χαίρομεν,’ εἶτ’ εὐθὺς ἐκπνεῦσαι.

In Plutarch’s tale, the name of the runner is Eukles and he says χαίρομεν instead of anything about victory before dying. The full kernel of our modern canard can be found in the work of Lucian, a well-known fabulist.

Lucian, On Mistakes in Greetings (2nd Century CE)

“First, Philippidês the day-runner is said to have run from Marathon reporting the victory to the archons who were seated and awaiting news about the end of the battle, saying “Rejoice, we are victorious” and after saying that he died with the news, expiring with his greeting.”

Πρῶτος δ’ αὐτὸ Φιλιππίδης ὁ ἡμεροδρομήσας λέγεται ἀπὸ Μαραθῶνος ἀγγέλλων τὴν νίκην εἰπεῖν πρὸς τοὺς ἄρχοντας καθημένους καὶ πεφροντικότας ὑπὲρ τοῦ τέλους τῆς μάχης, Χαίρετε, νικῶμεν, καὶ τοῦτο εἰπὼν συναποθανεῖν τῇ ἀγγελίᾳ καὶ τῷ χαίρειν συνεκπνεῦσαι.

What are we to make of this story? The Byzantine Suda has no patience for either Plutarch or Lucian. This encyclopedia, whose authors certainly knew of both, provides an account drawn entirely from Herodotus:

Suda (Byzantine Encyclopedia)

“Philippidês, an Athenian; day-runner: he ran 15 thousand stades in a single night and day (140 miles) as he traveled to Sparta. But the law did not allow them to go to war before the full-moon.”

Φιλιππίδης, ᾿Αθηναῖος, ἡμεροδρόμος· ὃς χίλια πεντακόσια στάδια ἤνυσε διὰ μιᾶς νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας, πρὸς Λακεδαιμονίους ἀφικόμενος. ὁ δὲ νόμος οὐκ εἴα στρατεύειν αὐτοὺς πρὸ πανσελήνου.

What does it say about our culture and that of the second sophistic (the period of Plutarch and Lucian) that the individual tale is so much more attractive or that the Herodotean account is so quickly discounted?

The founding legends of modern sporting events often have little to do with truth, but I wonder about the individualistic and extreme versions popularized to the detriment of other possible stories. By Herodotus’ account, Philippides was a professional runner who could cover 140 miles in two days. Isn’t that impressive enough?

By Herodotus’ account as well, we should memorialize the extraordinary battle of Marathon as a collective act to safeguard democratic Athens. The story we choose to tell about Marathon in part reflects the story we tell about ourselves (and our past). Is it the story of one amazing ultra-marathoner or is it the tale of an army of citizens who suffered and triumphed together?

As a native of New England and a current resident of Boston, I find even more meaning in Herodotus’ account of the defense of the city since the Marathon bombing. Not all of us can be a Philippides–only one person can be first, after all. But we can stand (or, better, run) together as a group like those Athenian hoplites to defend and honor our home.

 

Image result for ancient greek runners MFA

In the spirit of the day, a vase at Boston’s MFA: CVA Boston 1, pl. 55.


Some Notes:

[1] How and Wells’s commentary on 6.105.1 “Φιλιππίδης, though only found in the second family of MSS., is supported by the other authorities (Paus. i. 28. 4, viii. 54-6; Plut. Herod. Malign. 26, &c.), and almost certainly right. It is a common Athenian name (C. I. A.), whereas Pheidippides is a witticism of Aristophanes (Nub. 67), which he would hardly have dared to make had the name been consecrated in the tale of Marathon.”

[2] Literally: “day-runner”

[3] How and Wells: “According to Isocrates the distance traversed was 150 miles.”

The Crowns of the City

Most people who think of the “Contest of Homer and Hesiod” remember the fact that Homer and Hesiod competed and that there was a mixed verdict (with Hesiod taking the prize).  The account, however, also details legendary travels of Homer. Wherever he goes, he composes poems, almost pathologically.

Here is an excerpt (Certamen, 15-16):

“When the sons of king Midas, Xanthos and Gorgos, heard Homer’s poetry they commissioned him to compose an epigram for their father’s tomb which was marked by a bronze maiden mourning Midas’ death. Homer made this:

“I am a bronze girl, and I sit on the grave of Midas.
As long as water flows and trees grow long,
While the rivers fill and the sea resounds,
As long as the sun rises to shine and the bright moon too,
I will remain here on this much-wept mound
A sign to those who pass by that Midas here is buried.”

He received from them a silver cup, which he inscribed and dedicated at Delphi to Apollo:

“Lord Phoibos, I Homer give you this fine gift
in exchange for your wisdom. May you always grant me fame.”

Then he composed the Odyssey (which is 12,000 lines) when he had already finished the Iliad (15,500 lines). They say that he left there and was entertained in Athens at the house of the king of the Athenians, Medon. In the council chamber, when it was cold and there was a fire burning, the story is that he improvised these lines:

“A man’s crown is his children; the city has its towers;
Horses decorate a plain and ships are the jewels of the sea.
The people who sit in the agora are an adornment to be seen;
But when a fire burns it makes a house a prouder sight
On a winter’s day when Kronos’ son sends snow.”

ἀκούσαντες δὲ τῶν ἐπῶν οἱ Μίδου τοῦ βασιλέως παῖδες Ξάνθος καὶ Γόργος παρακαλοῦσιν αὐτὸν ἐπίγραμμα ποιῆσαι ἐπὶ τοῦ τάφου τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτῶν, ἐφ’ οὗ ἦν παρθένος χαλκῆ τὸν Μίδου θάνατον οἰκτιζομένη. καὶ ποιεῖ οὕτως•

χαλκῆ παρθένος εἰμί, Μίδου δ’ ἐπὶ σήματος ἧμαι.
ἔς τ’ ἂν ὕδωρ τε νάῃ καὶ δένδρεα μακρὰ τεθήλῃ
καὶ ποταμοὶ πλήθωσι, περικλύζῃ δὲ θάλασσα,
ἠέλιος δ’ ἀνιὼν φαίνῃ λαμπρά τε σελήνη,
αὐτοῦ τῇδε μένουσα πολυκλαύτῳ ἐπὶ τύμβῳ
σημανέω παριοῦσι Μίδης ὅτι τῇδε τέθαπται.

λαβὼν δὲ παρ’ αὐτῶν φιάλην ἀργυρᾶν ἀνατίθησιν ἐν Δελφοῖς τῷ ᾿Απόλλωνι, ἐπιγράψας

Φοῖβε ἄναξ δῶρόν τοι ῞Ομηρος καλὸν ἔδωκα
σῇσιν ἐπιφροσύναις• σὺ δέ μοι κλέος αἰὲν ὀπάζοις.

μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα ποιεῖ τὴν ᾿Οδύσσειαν ἔπη μβ′, πεποιηκὼς ἤδη τὴν ᾿Ιλιάδα ἐπῶν μεφ′. παραγενόμενον δὲ ἐκεῖθεν εἰς ᾿Αθήνας αὐτὸν ξενισθῆναί φασι παρὰ Μέδοντι τῷ βασιλεῖ τῶν ᾿Αθηναίων. ἐν δὲ τῷ βουλευτηρίῳ ψύχους ὄντος καὶ πυρὸς καιομένου σχεδιάσαι λέγεται τούσδε τοὺς στίχους•

ἀνδρὸς μὲν στέφανοι παῖδες, πύργοι δὲ πόληος,
ἵπποι δ’ αὖ πεδίου κόσμος, νῆες δὲ θαλάσσης,
λαὸς δ’ εἰν ἀγορῇσι καθήμενος εἰσοράασθαι.
αἰθομένου δὲ πυρὸς γεραρώτερος οἶκος ἰδέσθαι
ἤματι χειμερίῳ ὁπότ’ ἂν νείφῃσι Κρονίων.

Image result for medieval manuscript contest of homer and hesiod

%d bloggers like this: