Seeking One Who Explains; Or, The Difference Between Grammar and Philosophy

Epictetus Encheiridion, 49

“Whenever someone is haughty because he understands and can explain the books of Chrysippus, say to him: “If Chrysippus hadn’t written so obscurely, you’d have nothing to be haughty about.”

But what do I desire? To understand nature and follow it. Therefore, I seek one who explains it. And because I have heard that Chrysippus does this, I go to him. But I do not understand what he has written. Therefore, I seek out someone who explains him. And within these steps there is nothing worthy of pride. Whenever I find the right interpreter, it is still up to me to practice his precepts. This alone is worthy of pride.

But if I am amazed at this act of explanation, have I done anything but transform into a grammarian instead of a philosopher? (Except, I interpret Chryippos instead of Homer.) Hence, whenever anyone says to me “Read me Chrysippus,” I turn red when I am incapable of demonstrating actions equal to and harmonious with his words

Ὅταν τις ἐπὶ τῷ νοεῖν καὶ ἐξηγεῖσθαι δύνασθαι τὰ Χρυσίππου βιβλία σεμνύνηται, λέγε αὐτὸς πρὸς ἑαυτὸν ὅτι “εἰ μὴ Χρύσιππος ἀσαφῶς ἐγεγράφει, οὐδὲν ἂν εἶχεν οὗτος, ἐφ᾿ ᾧ ἐσεμνύνετο.

 Ἐγὼ δὲ τί βούλομαι; καταμαθεῖν τὴν φύσιν καὶ ταύτῃ ἕπεσθαι. ζητῶ οὖν, τίς ἐστὶν ὁ ἐξηγούμενος· καὶ ἀκούσας, ὅτι Χρύσιππος, ἔρχομαι πρὸς αὐτόν. ἀλλ᾿ οὐ νοῶ τὰ γεγραμμένα· ζητῶ οὖν τὸν ἐξηγούμενον. καὶ μέχρι τούτων οὔπω σεμνὸν οὐδέν. ὅταν δὲ εὕρω τὸν ἐξηγούμενον, ἀπολείπεται χρῆσθαι τοῖς παρηγγελμένοις· τοῦτο αὐτὸ μόνον σεμνόν ἐστιν. ἂν δὲ αὐτὸ τοῦτο τὸ ἐξηγεῖσθαι θαυμάσω, τί ἄλλο ἢ γραμματικὸς ἀπετελέσθην ἀντὶ φιλοσόφου; πλήν γε δὴ ὅτι ἀντὶ Ὁμήρου Χρύσιππον ἐξηγούμενος. μᾶλλον οὖν, ὅταν τις εἴπῃ μοι “ἐπανάγνωθί μοι Χρύσιππον,” ἐρυθριῶ, ὅταν μὴ δύνωμαι ὅμοια τὰ ἔργα καὶ σύμφωνα ἐπιδεικνύειν τοῖς λόγοις.

Image result for medieval manuscript chrysippus
Chrysippus

All Words Are Ambiguous; Or No Words Are

Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights, 11.12

  1. On the fact that the philosopher Chrysippus claimsthat every word was ambiguous and unclear and that Diorous thinks on the contrary that no word is ambiguous.

Chrysippus says that every word is ambiguous by nature since two or more things can be understood from the same thing. Diodorus, however, the one who had the name Cronus, says: “No word is ambiguous nor may anyone say or understand a word in an ambiguous sense; and it ought not to seem to be anything other than what the person who says it believes he is saying.  But when I,” he continues, “mean something different from what you interpret, it may seem that the word has been spoken unclearly rather than ambiguously: for the nature of an ambiguous word ought to be that the person who speaks it has two or more meanings. No one, however, says two or more things when he has meant only one.”

Seven
What Would Diodorus Make of This Classic?

 

XII. Quod Chrysippus philosophus omne verbum ambiguum dubiumque esse dicit, Diodorus contra nullum verbum ambiguum esse putat.

Chrysippus ait omne verbum ambiguum natura esse, quoniam ex eodem duo vel plura accipi possunt. II. Diodorus autem, cui Crono cognomentum fuit: “nullum” inquit “verbum est ambiguum, nec quisquam ambiguum dicit aut sentit, nec aliud dici videri debet, quam quod se dicere sentit is, qui dicit. III. At cum ego” inquit “aliud sensi, tu aliud accepisti, obscure magis dictum videri potest quam ambigue; ambigui enim verbi natura illa esse debuit, ut, qui id diceret, duo vel plura diceret. Nemo autem duo vel plura dicit, qui se sensit unum dicere”.

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.

Feast-Week: Get the Best of Every Thanksgiving Dish With this One Simple Trick!

 

The training regimen of Philoxenus of Leucus (Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 1.9.1-19)

“Certain flat-cakes were eventually named ‘Philoxenian’ from a man named Philoxenus. Chrysippus says of him: ‘I know of a certain foodie who fell so far from worrying about what people thought of his actions that he publicly tried to get used to heat in the public baths by plunging his hands in the hot water or gargling with it so that he couldn’t be moved from the hot plates! People claimed that he was pressuring the cooks to serve the food as hot as possible so that he could swallow it alone, since no one else would be able to keep up with him.’

The same accounts are given of Philoxenus the Cytherean, Archytas and many others—one of them says the following in a comedy by Crobylus (fr. 8):

A. ‘For this dish that is beyond hot

I have Idaean finger tips
And it is sweet to steam my throat with fish steaks!

B. He’s a kiln not a man!’

Cooking1
Make it hotter!

ἀπὸ τούτου τοῦ Φιλοξένου καὶ Φιλοξένειοί τινες πλακοῦντες ὠνομάσθησαν. περὶ τούτου Χρύσιππός φησιν· ‘ἐγὼ κατέχω τινὰ ὀψοφάγον ἐπὶ τοσοῦτον ἐκπεπτωκότα τοῦ μὴ ἐντρέπεσθαι τοὺς πλησίον ἐπὶ τοῖς γινομένοις ὥστε φανερῶς ἐν τοῖς βαλανείοις τήν τε χεῖρα συνεθίζειν πρὸς τὰ θερμὰ καθιέντα εἰς ὕδωρ θερμὸν καὶ τὸ στόμα ἀναγαργαριζόμενον θερμῷ, ὅπως δηλονότι ἐν τοῖς θερμοῖς δυσκίνητος ᾖ. ἔφασαν γὰρ αὐτὸν καὶ τοὺς ὀψοποιοῦντας ὑποποιεῖσθαι, ἵνα θερμότατα παρατιθῶσι καὶ μόνος καταναλίσκῃ αὐτὸς τῶν λοιπῶν συνακολουθεῖν μὴ δυναμένων.’ τὰ δ’ αὐτὰ καὶ περὶ τοῦ Κυθηρίου Φιλοξένου ἱστοροῦσι καὶ ᾿Αρχύτου καὶ ἄλλων πλειόνων, ὧν τις παρὰ Κρωβύλῳ τῷ κωμικῷ φησιν (IV 568 M)·

ἐγὼ δὲ πρὸς τὰ θερμὰ ταῦθ’ ὑπερβολῇ
τοὺς δακτύλους δήπουθεν ᾿Ιδαίους ἔχω
καὶ τὸν λάρυγγ’ ἥδιστα πυριῶ τεμαχίοις.

Β. κάμινος, οὐκ ἄνθρωπος.