Snakehead and Boys in the Street: Plato the Comic on Politics (Two Fragments)

This is from Plato the Attic Comedian, not the Attic Philosopher. Who knew there were at least 30 men with the same name?

Plato, Fr. 202 (Stobaeus, 2.3.3)

“If one wicked person
perishes, then two politicians grow in his place.
For there is no Iolaus* in the city
Who might cauterize the politicians’ heads.
If you’ve been bent over, then you’ll be a politician.”

῍Ην γὰρ ἀποθάνῃ
εἷς τις πονηρός, δύ’ ἀνέφυσαν ῥήτορες•
οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἡμῖν ᾿Ιόλεως ἐν τῇ πόλει,
ὅστις ἐπικαύσει τὰς κεφαλὰς τῶν ῥητόρων.
κεκολλόπευκας• τοιγαροῦν ῥήτωρ ἔσει.

*Iolaus is Herakles’ nephew who helped the hero kill the Hydra by cauterizing its necks to prevent new heads from growing.

Platôn, Alliance (fr. 168)

“They are like those boys who each time they draw a line
in the street to divide themselves into two groups
stand with some of them on one side of the line and some on the other.
One who stands in the middle of the two hurls a pot sherd–
If the white side faces up, one group must flee right away
And the others must chase them.”

Εἴξασιν γὰρ τοῖς παιδαρίοις τούτοις, οἳ ἑκάστοτε γραμμήν
ἐν ταῖσιν ὁδοῖς διαγράψαντες διανειμάμενοι δίχ’ ἑαυτούς
ἑστᾶσ’, αὐτῶν οἱ μὲν ἐκεῖθεν τῆς γράμμης οἱ δ’ αὖ ἐκεῖθεν•
εἷς δ’ ἀμφοτέρων ὄστρακον αὐτοῖς εἰς μέσον ἑστὼς ἀνίησιν,
κἂν μὲν πίπτῃσι τὰ λεύκ’ ἐπάνω, φεύγειν ταχὺ τοὺς ἑτέρους δεῖ,
τοὺς δὲ διώκειν.

Herakles and Iolaus Mosaic

Tawdry Tuesday: A Wedding Recipe

Aristophanes, Peace 868-870

“The child is bathed and her ass-situation is fine.
The cake is baking and the sesame buns are shaped—
Everything else is complete—but we need a penis.”

ἡ παῖς λέλουται καὶ τὰ τῆς πυγῆς καλά·
ὁ πλακοῦς πέπεπται, σησαμῆ ξυμπλάττεται,
870καὶ τἄλλ᾿ ἁπαξάπαντα· τοῦ πέους δὲ δεῖ.

According to a scholion, sesame cakes are made for weddings to ensure an abundance of offspring (vet σησαμὴ R: πλακοῦς γαμικὸς ἀπὸ σησάμων πεποιημένος διὰ τὸ πολύγονον, ὥς φησι Μένανδρος. RV)

Later, a Slave remarks on the girl’s rear end:“Master, she’s got a five-year ass” ὦ δέσποτα, ὅσην ἔχει τὴν πρωκτοπεντετηρίδα. (876).

Image result for ancient greek comedy wedding

A scholion relates this to the frequency of the completion of the Dionysia. Another adds that at this point they are grabbing the girl and showing her genitals to the audience. (Schol V. ad Aristop. Pax 867b ἁπτόμενος γὰρ αὐτῆς τῆς πυγῆς <φησι> καὶ θαυμάζων καὶ τοῖς θεαταῖς ἐπιδεικνύμενος τὸ αἰδοῖον. V Although, here we should probably imagine a male actor with female genital apparatus).

From Henderson’s Maculate Muse:

Peos

Tawdry Tuesday: A Wedding Recipe

Aristophanes, Peace 868-870

“The child is bathed and her ass-situation is fine.
The cake is baking and the sesame buns are shaped—
Everything else is complete—but we need a penis.”

ἡ παῖς λέλουται καὶ τὰ τῆς πυγῆς καλά·
ὁ πλακοῦς πέπεπται, σησαμῆ ξυμπλάττεται,
870καὶ τἄλλ᾿ ἁπαξάπαντα· τοῦ πέους δὲ δεῖ.

According to a scholion, sesame cakes are made for weddings to ensure an abundance of offspring (vet σησαμὴ R: πλακοῦς γαμικὸς ἀπὸ σησάμων πεποιημένος διὰ τὸ πολύγονον, ὥς φησι Μένανδρος. RV)

Later, a Slave remarks on the girl’s rear end:“Master, she’s got a five-year ass” ὦ δέσποτα, ὅσην ἔχει τὴν πρωκτοπεντετηρίδα. (876).

Image result for ancient greek comedy wedding

A scholion relates this to the frequency of the completion of the Dionysia. Another adds that at this point they are grabbing the girl and showing her genitals to the audience. (Schol V. ad Aristop. Pax 867b ἁπτόμενος γὰρ αὐτῆς τῆς πυγῆς <φησι> καὶ θαυμάζων καὶ τοῖς θεαταῖς ἐπιδεικνύμενος τὸ αἰδοῖον. V Although, here we should probably imagine a male actor with female genital apparatus).

From Henderson’s Maculate Muse:

Peos

The ‘Good’ is An Attribute of Pleasure: Comics Mocking Epicurus

Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 7.9-10

“And the same Bato, in his play called The Murderer, also mocks one of the upstanding philosophers before he continues:

When is possible to lie down with a beautiful woman
And have two small carafes of Lesbian wine—
And this is the ‘prudent man’; this is the ‘good man’?
Epicurus once said the things I am saying now.
If everyone would live the life that I live,
No one would be out of place or an adulterer

And Hegesippos adds in The Comrade-Lovers

When wise Epicurus was asked by someone
To tell him what that “good” is, which
They are always seeking, he said it was pleasure.
Well done, the man replied, best and wisest man!
There is no greater good anywhere than chewing.
And the ‘good’ is an attribute of pleasure.”

Epicurus_bust2

καὶ ἐν τῷ ᾿Ανδροφόνῳ δὲ ἐπιγραφομένῳ ὁ αὐτὸς Βάτων διαπαίξας τινὰ τῶν ἐπιεικῶν φιλοσόφων ἐπιφέρει (IV 500 M)·

ἐξὸν γυναῖκ’ ἔχοντα κατακεῖσθαι καλὴν
καὶ Λεσβίου χυτρῖδε λαμβάνειν δύο·
ὁ φρόνιμος <οὗτός> ἐστι, τοῦτο τἀγαθόν.
᾿Επίκουρος ἔλεγε ταῦθ’ ἃ νῦν ἐγὼ λέγω.
εἰ τοῦτον ἔζων πάντες ὃν ἐγὼ ζῶ βίον,
οὔτ’ ἄτοπος ἦν ἂν οὔτε μοιχὸς οὐδὲ εἷς.

῾Ηγήσιππος δ’ ἐν Φιλεταίροις (IV 481 M)·

᾿Επίκουρος ὁ σοφὸς ἀξιώσαντός τινος
εἰπεῖν πρὸς αὐτὸν ὅτι ποτ’ ἐστὶ τἀγαθόν,
ὃ διὰ τέλους ζητοῦσιν, εἶπεν ἡδονήν.
Β. εὖ γ’, ὦ κράτιστ’ ἄνθρωπε καὶ σοφώτατε·
τοῦ γὰρ μασᾶσθαι κρεῖττον οὐκ ἔστ’ οὐδὲ ἓν
ἀγαθόν· Α. πρόσεστιν ἡδονῇ γὰρ τἀγαθόν.

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.

Fragmentary Friday: Why Are You Sober if You Have Money?

Baton, the Comic Poet (fr. 3.1-11, preserved in Athenaeus Deipn. 4.163b)

“I am calling the prudent philosophers here,
Those who never allow themselves anything good,
Those who seek a thoughtful man in every walk
And in their discussions as if he were a fugitive slave.
Wretched man, why are you sober if you have money?
Why do you dishonor the gods this much?
Why do you think money is worth more than you are?
Does it have some intrinsic worth?
If you drink water, you’re useless to the city.
You hurt the farmer and the trader at the same time.
But I make them wealthier by getting drunk.”

τῶν φιλοσόφων τοὺς σώφρονας ἐνταυθοῖ καλῶ,
τοὺς ἀγαθὸν αὑτοῖς οὐ διδόντας οὐδὲ ἕν,
τοὺς τὸν φρόνιμον ζητοῦντας ἐν τοῖς περιπάτοις
καὶ ταῖς διατριβαῖς ὥσπερ ἀποδεδρακότα.
ἄνθρωπ’ ἀλάστωρ, διὰ τί συμβολὰς ἔχων
νήφεις; τί τηλικοῦτον ἀδικεῖς τοὺς θεούς;
τί τἀργύριον, ἄνθρωπε, τιμιώτερον
σαυτοῦ τέθεικας ἢ πέφυκε τῇ φύσει;
ἀλυσιτελὴς εἶ τῇ πόλει πίνων ὕδωρ·
τὸν γὰρ γεωργὸν καὶ τὸν ἔμπορον κακοῖς.
ἐγὼ δὲ τὰς προσόδους μεθύων καλὰς ποιῶ.

 

Another fragmentary author with no Wikipedia page.  All the Suda says about him is: Βάτων, κωμικός· δράματα αὐτοῦ Συνεξαπατῶν, ᾿Ανδροφόνος, Εὐεργέται. (“A Comic Poet whose plays were the Conspirators, the Murder and the Goodworkers.”) Athenaeus’ Deipnosophists is the main source for his fragments. This Batôn should not be confused with the historian and orator Batôn (also mentioned in Athenaeus).

Funny Fragments from Philyllius and Phrynichus (Old Comedy)

Philyllius, fr. 20 (from “The Snail”)

“My grandfather was a dappled dogfish”

ὁ πάππος ἦν μοι γαλεὸς ἀστερίας

Philyllius, fr. 20 (from “The Snail”)

“I am neither a cicada nor a snail, woman!”

ΚΟΧΛΙΑΣ. Φιλύλλιος (I 787 K)·
οὔκ εἰμι τέττιξ οὐδὲ κοχλίας, ὦ γύναι.

Phrynichus, fr. 3 (Athenaeus 165b)

“The hardest of all modern labors is to protect ourselves from them [the youth].
For they have some kind of a goad in their fingers, this man-hating bloom of youth.
They talk sweetly enough as they circum-ambulate the marketplace with another—
But when they take their seats, they mock the men they addressed sweetly
Scratching deep furrows into them once they’ve found themselves in a group”

ἐστὶν δ’ αὐτούς γε φυλάττεσθαι τῶν νῦν χαλεπώτατον ἔργον.
ἔχουσι γάρ τι κέντρον ἐν τοῖς δακτύλοις, μισάνθρωπον ἄνθος ἥβης·
εἶθ’ ἡδυλογοῦσιν ἅπασιν ἀεὶ κατὰ τὴν ἀγορὰν περιόντες.
ἐπὶ τοῖς βάθροις ὅταν ὦσιν, ἐκεῖ τούτοις οἷς ἡδυλογοῦσι
μεγάλας ἀμυχὰς καταμύξαντες καὶ συγκύψαντες ἅπαντας γελῶσι.

Slandering Socrates: Ameipsias, Fr. 7 (Diogenes Laertius, 2.27-28) and Eupolis

 

“Socrates, the best of men when there are few and the most foolish among the many:

You have come to see us too? You are brave. Where would you get a cloak?

Your appearance is an embarrassment to cobblers everywhere.”

 

Σώκρατες ἀνδρῶν βέλτιστ᾿ ὀλίγων, πολλῶν δὲ ματαιοταθ᾿, ἥκεις

καὶ σὺ πρὸς ἡμᾶς; καρτερικὸς γ᾿ εἶ. πόθεν ἄν σοι χλαῖνα γένοιτο;

τουτὶ τὸ κακὸν τῶν σκυτότομων κατ᾿ ἐπήρειαν γεγένηται

 

Pretty sure that the “you have crappy shoes” insult wouldn’t have bothered ol’ Socrates. But Ameipsias, though not a household name, was no slacker: he bested Aristophanes twice! And mocking Socrates seems like a good habit from Old Comedy. Apart from Aristophanes, Eupolis was in on the action too:

 

“I hate Socrates too,

that prattling panhandler

who figured out everything

except where he can get something to eat.”

 

μισῶ δὲ καὶ Σωκράτην

τὸν πτωχὸν ἀδολέσχην,

ὃς τἆλλα μὲν πεφρόντικεν,

ὁπόθεν δὲ καταφαγεῖν ἔχοι

τούτου κατημέληκεν

 

Eupolis? I guess he lost the battle with Socrates.

Snakehead and Boys in the Street: Plato the Comic on Politics (Two Fragments)

This is from Plato the Attic Comedian, not the Attic Philosopher. Who knew there were at least 30 men with the same name?

Plato, Fr. 202 (Stobaeus, 2.3.3)

“If one wicked person
perishes, then two politicians grow in his place.
For there is no Iolaus* in the city
Who might cauterize the politicians’ heads.
If you’ve been bent over, then you’ll be a politician.”

῍Ην γὰρ ἀποθάνῃ
εἷς τις πονηρός, δύ’ ἀνέφυσαν ῥήτορες•
οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἡμῖν ᾿Ιόλεως ἐν τῇ πόλει,
ὅστις ἐπικαύσει τὰς κεφαλὰς τῶν ῥητόρων.
κεκολλόπευκας• τοιγαροῦν ῥήτωρ ἔσει.

*Iolaus is Herakles’ nephew who helped the hero kill the Hydra by cauterizing its necks to prevent new heads from growing.

Platôn, Alliance (fr. 168)

“They are like those boys who each time they draw a line
in the street to divide themselves into two groups
stand with some of them on one side of the line and some on the other.
One who stands in the middle of the two hurls a pot sherd–
If the white side faces up, one group must flee right away
And the others must chase them.”

Εἴξασιν γὰρ τοῖς παιδαρίοις τούτοις, οἳ ἑκάστοτε γραμμήν
ἐν ταῖσιν ὁδοῖς διαγράψαντες διανειμάμενοι δίχ’ ἑαυτούς
ἑστᾶσ’, αὐτῶν οἱ μὲν ἐκεῖθεν τῆς γράμμης οἱ δ’ αὖ ἐκεῖθεν•
εἷς δ’ ἀμφοτέρων ὄστρακον αὐτοῖς εἰς μέσον ἑστὼς ἀνίησιν,
κἂν μὲν πίπτῃσι τὰ λεύκ’ ἐπάνω, φεύγειν ταχὺ τοὺς ἑτέρους δεῖ,
τοὺς δὲ διώκειν.

A Different Plato Was Funny on Purpose: Platon the Comic Poet, Some Fragments

The philosopher we know as Plato the son of Ariston–whom Diogenes claims was actually named Aristocles–was not the only Plato. No, there was another one, a little older, who was a comic poet in Athens. Our philosopher Plato wanted to be a poet too,

Here are some of the comic poet’s fragments:

Fragment 22

“Our laws are just like
Those fine spider webs
that the creature weaves upon the walls”

εἴξασιν ἡμῖν οἱ νόμοι
τούτοισι τοῖς λεπτοῖσιν ἀραχνίοισιν, ἃ
ἐν τοῖσι τοίχοις ἡ φάλαγξ ὑφαίνεται.

ἡ φάλαγξ: while this means “battle-order” or simply, phalanx in most of Greek, it can also mean spider. And not just any spider, a venomous spider.

Fragment 37

“So large they say that Mt Aetna is that the story is that the beetles who are born there are no smaller than men!”

ὡς μέγα μέντοι πάνυ τὴν Αἴτνην ὄρος εἶναί φασι τεκμαίρου,
ἔνθα τρέφεσθαι τὰς κανθαρίδας τῶν ἀνθρώπων λόγος ἐστὶν
οὐδὲν ἐλάττους.

Fragment 38

But some man scooped up the brains and gulped it down

ὁ δὲ τὸν ἐγκέφαλόν τις ἐξαύσας καταπίνει.

Fragment 77 (Storey)

“Why don’t you hang yourself and become a hero at Thebes?
Τί οὐκ ἀπήγξω, ἵνα Θήβησιν ἥρως γένῃ

Zenobius explains this one in his Common Proverbs (6.17): “Plato uses this line in his Menelaus. And the reason is that they say that in Thebes men who kill themselves receive no kind of honor. Aristotle says the same thing about Thebes, namely that they do not honor suicides there. Hence “so you may become a hero” is added ironically.”

ταύτης Πλάτων ἐν Μενέλεῳ μέμνηται. Φασὶ δὲ, ὅτι ἐν Θήβαις οἱ ἑαυτοὺς ἀναιροῦντες οὐδεμιᾶς τιμῆς μετεῖχον. Καὶ ᾿Αριστοτέλης δέ φησι περὶ Θηβαίων τὸ αὐτὸ τοῦτο, ὅτι τοὺς αὐτόχειρας ἑαυτῶν γινομένους οὐκ ἐτίμων. Τὸ οὖν, ῞Ινα ἥρως γένῃ, κατ’ εὐφημισμὸν εἴρηται.