The Origin of the Term “Swan Song”

Aelian, History of Animals 2.32

“The Swan, which the poets and many prose authors make an attendant to Apollo, has some other relationship to music and song I do not understand. But it was believed by those before us that the swan died after he sang what was called its “swan-song”. Nature truly honors it more than noble and good men and for good reason: for while others praise and morn people, the swans take care of themselves, if you will.”

Κύκνος δέ, ὅνπερ οὖν καὶ θεράποντα Ἀπόλλωνι ἔδοσαν ποιηταὶ καὶ λόγοι μέτρων ἀφειμένοι πολλοί, τὰ μὲν ἄλλα ὅπως μούσης τε καὶ ᾠδῆς ἔχει εἰπεῖν οὐκ οἶδα· πεπίστευται δὲ ὑπὸ τῶν ἄνω τοῦ χρόνου ὅτι τὸ κύκνειον οὕτω καλούμενον ᾄσας εἶτα ἀποθνήσκει. τιμᾷ δὲ ἄρα αὐτὸν ἡ φύσις καὶ τῶν καλῶν καὶ ἀγαθῶν ἀνθρώπων μᾶλλον, καὶ εἰκότως· εἴ γε τούτους μὲν καὶ ἐπαινοῦσι καὶ θρηνοῦσιν ἄλλοι, ἐκεῖνοι δὲ εἴτε τοῦτο ἐθέλοις εἴτε ἐκεῖνο, ἑαυτοῖς νέμουσιν.

Michael Apostolios, Proverbs 10.18

“Singing the swan song”: [this proverb] is applied to those who are near death. For swans sing as they die and they know then the end of life is coming upon them and so, in this way, they face that arrival bravely. But human beings fear what they do not know and think that it is the greatest evil. But swans sing out at death the kind of song sung at a funeral…”

     Κύκνειον ᾆσμα: ἐπὶ τῶν ἐγγὺς θανάτου ὄντων. οἱ γὰρ κύκνοι θνήσκοντες ᾄδουσι Καὶ ἴσασιν ὁπότε τοῦ βίου τὸ τέρμα ἀφικνεῖται αὐτοῖς, καὶ μέντοι καὶ εὐθύμως φέρουσιν αὐτὸ προσιόν. ἄνθρωποι δὲ ὑπὲρ οὗ οὐκ ἴσασι δεδοίκασι καὶ ἡγοῦνται μέγιστον εἶναι κακὸν αὐτό. ἀναγηρύονται δὲ ἐπὶ τῇ τελευτῇ οἷον ἐπικήδειόν τι μέλος…

Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 14 (616b)

“Chrysippos was writing about something like this again in the same work. When someone who loved to make fun of people was about to be killed by the executioner, he said that he wanted one thing, to die after singing his ‘swan-song’. After the executioner agreed, the man made fun of him.”

περὶ δὲ τοιούτου τινὸς πάλιν ὁ Χρύσιππος ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ γράφει· φιλοσκώπτης τις μέλλων ὑπὸ τοῦ δημίου σφάττεσθαι ἔτι ἕν τι ἔφη θέλειν ὥσπερ τὸ κύκνειον ᾄσας ἀποθανεῖν. ἐπιτρέψαντος δ᾿ ἐκείνου ἔσκωψεν

Even Heroes Dabble in the Black Arts: Odysseus, Necromancer

A student paper on the Elpenor Pelike at the MFA in Boston drew my attention to the following passage.

Servius ad Aen. 6.107

“For this reason the place is named without joy since, as people claim, it would not have been there but for necromancy or spell-craft. For, Aeneas completed these sacred rites when Misenus was killed and Ulysses did it with the death of Elpenor.

This very scene Homer himself presented falsely from the detail of its location which he specifies along with the length of time of the journey. For he claims that Ulysses sailed for one night and came to the place where he completed these sacrifices. For this reason it is abundantly clear that he doesn’t mean the ocean but Campania.”

sine gaudio autem ideo ille dicitur locus, quod necromantia vel sciomantia, ut dicunt, non nisi ibi poterat fieri: quae sine hominis occisione non fiebant; nam et Aeneas illic occiso Miseno sacra ista conplevit et Vlixes occiso Elpenore. quamquam fingatur in extrema Oceani parte Vlixes fuisse: quod et ipse Homerus falsum esse ostendit ex qualitate locorum, quae commemorat, et ex tempore navigationis; dicit enim eum a Circe unam noctem navigasse et ad locum venisse, in quo haec sacra perfecit: quod de Oceano non procedit, de Campania manifestissimum est.

The relevant passages from the Odyssey don’t give any hint that Elpenor was intentionally killed for black magic. When Odysseus actually does summon the dead, now that gets a little dark.

Odyssey, 10.552–560

“I could not even lead my companions unharmed from there.
The youngest of my companions was a certain Elpênor,
He was neither especially brave in battle or composed in his thoughts.
He separated himself from the companions in Kirkê’s holy home
Because he needed some air; then he fell asleep because he was drunk.
When he heard the noise and trouble of our companions moving out,
He got up immediately and it completely escaped his thoughts
To climb down again by the long ladder—
So he fell straight from the roof and his neck
Shattered along his spine; then his spirit flew down to Hades.”

οὐδὲ μὲν οὐδ’ ἔνθεν περ ἀπήμονας ἦγον ἑταίρους.
᾿Ελπήνωρ δέ τις ἔσκε νεώτατος, οὔτε τι λίην
ἄλκιμος ἐν πολέμῳ οὔτε φρεσὶν ᾗσιν ἀρηρώς,
ὅς μοι ἄνευθ’ ἑτάρων ἱεροῖσ’ ἐν δώμασι Κίρκης,
ψύχεος ἱμείρων, κατελέξατο οἰνοβαρείων·
κινυμένων δ’ ἑτάρων ὅμαδον καὶ δοῦπον ἀκούσας
ἐξαπίνης ἀνόρουσε καὶ ἐκλάθετο φρεσὶν ᾗσιν
ἄψορρον καταβῆναι ἰὼν ἐς κλίμακα μακρήν,
ἀλλὰ καταντικρὺ τέγεος πέσεν· ἐκ δέ οἱ αὐχὴν
ἀστραγάλων ἐάγη, ψυχὴ δ’ ῎Αϊδόσδε κατῆλθεν.

Elpênor appears twice more in the epic: 11.51–80 (Odysseus meets Elpênor’s ghost when he summons the dead); 12.9-15 (Odysseus buries Elpênor).

MFA Boston, Accession Number 34.79; Caskey-Beazley, Attic Vase Paintings (MFA), no. 111; Highlights: Classical Art (MFA), p. 070-071.

Nekuomanteia, glossed by Hesychius as nekromanteia (i.e. “necromancy”) is an alternate name for the Nekyuia, the parade of the dead in book 11 of the Odyssey. From the Greek Anthology: ᾿Εν τῷ Η ἡ τοῦ ᾿Οδυσσέως νεκυομαντεία· (3.8); Scholia to the Odyssey, Hypotheses: Λ. Νεκυομαντεία, ἢ, Νεκυία. Cf. Eustathius, Comm. Ad Od. 1.396.10

PSA: Naps Can Kill You

Valerius Maximus, Memorable Sayings and Deeds, 1.8.12

“Another spectacle for our state was the pyre of Acilius Aviola. Doctors and his servants believed that he was dead since he had stretched out still in his house for some time. When he was taken out for burial, once the fire overtook his body, he yelled that he was alive and asked for help from his teacher—for he had remained there alone. But, because he was already surrounded by flames, he could not be saved from his death.”

1.8.12a Aliquid admirationis civitati nostrae Acilii etiam Aviolae rogus attulit, qui et a medicis et a domesticis mortuus creditus, cum aliquamdiu domi iacuisset, elatus, postquam corpus eius ignis corripuit, vivere se proclamavit auxiliumque paedagogi sui—nam is solus ibi remanserat—invocavit, sed iam flammis circumdatus fato subtrahi non potuit.

Pliny the Elder presents a shortened version of this  (Natural History, 1.173)

“Aviola the consul revived on the funeral pyre and since it was not possible to help him because the fire was too strong, he was cremated alive.”

 Aviola consularis in rogo revixit et, quoniam subveniri non potuerat praevalente flamma, vivus crematus est

Image result for Ancient Roman Funeral pyre

Oracles, Politics, and Poor Hesiod’s Dusty Bones

We recently posted two different accounts of Hesiod’s death. Here is more about what happened to his body in later years.

Pausanias 4.38

“In Orkhomenos there is a [sanctuary] for Dionysus, but the most ancient shrine if for the graces. They honor the stones most especially and they say that they fell for Eteokles from the sky. In my time there were cult images dedicated, which are also made of stone. Near them, there is a fountain worthy of visiting. People go down to eat to bring back water.

And you will also find the treasure-house of Minyas, which is a wonder beneath no others in Greece. It has been fashioned in the following way. It was built up from stone; it has a circular shape but it directs upward to a peak that is not very sharp. They claim that the stone at the very top is the keystone for the entire construction.

And there are the tombs of Minyas and Hesiod. People say that the bones of Hesiod were regained in this way. When a wasting plague was afflicting men and animals they sent messengers to the gods. They reported that the Pythia answered to them that they must bring the bones of Hesiod back from Naupactus to Orknomenos, and that there was no other cure for them. When they asked in turn where they might find these bones in Naupactus, then again the Pythia told them that a crow would inform them. So, they say that as the representatives were disembarking in Naupactus a stone close to the road and a bird on the stone appeared to them. There they discovered Hesiod’s bones in a fold in the rock. And these elegiac lines were written on the marker:

Although wheat-wealthy Ascra was his home, when he died
The land of the horse-whipping Minyans holds Hesiod’s bones.
His glory will rise to be the greatest in Greece
When men are judged by the standard of wisdom.

XXXVIII. Ὀρχομενίοις δὲ πεποίηται καὶ Διονύσου, τὸ δὲ ἀρχαιότατον Χαρίτων ἐστὶν ἱερόν. τὰς μὲν δὴ πέτρας σέβουσί τε μάλιστα καὶ τῷ Ἐτεοκλεῖ αὐτὰς πεσεῖν ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ φασιν· τὰ δὲ ἀγάλματα τὰ σὺν κόσμῳ πεποιημένα ἀνετέθη μὲν ἐπ᾿ ἐμοῦ, λίθου δέ ἐστι καὶ ταῦτα. ἔστι δέ σφισι καὶ κρήνη θέας ἀξία· καταβαίνουσι δὲ ἐς αὐτὴν ὕδωρ οἴσοντες. θησαυρὸς δὲ ὁ Μινύου, θαῦμα ὂν τῶν ἐν Ἑλλάδι αὐτῇ καὶ τῶν ἑτέρωθι οὐδενὸς ὕστερον, πεποίηται τρόπον τοιόνδε· λίθου μὲν εἴργασται, σχῆμα δὲ περιφερές ἐστιν αὐτῷ, κορυφὴ δὲ οὐκ ἐς ἄγαν ὀξὺ ἀνηγμένη· τὸν δὲ ἀνωτάτω τῶν λίθων φασὶν ἁρμονίαν παντὶ εἶναι τῷ οἰκοδομήματι. τάφοι δὲ Μινύου τε καὶ Ἡσιόδου· καταδέξασθαι δέ φασιν οὕτω τοῦ Ἡσιόδου τὰ ὀστᾶ. νόσου καταλαμβανούσης λοιμώδους καὶ ἀνθρώπους καὶ τὰ βοσκήματα ἀποστέλλουσι θεωροὺς παρὰ τὸν θεόν· τούτοις δὲ ἀποκρίνασθαι λέγουσι τὴν Πυθίαν, Ἡσιόδου τὰ ὀστᾶ ἐκ τῆς Ναυπακτίας ἀγαγοῦσιν ἐς τὴν Ὀρχομενίαν, ἄλλο δὲ εἶναί σφισιν οὐδὲν ἴαμα. τότε δὲ ἐπερέσθαι δεύτερα, ὅπου τῆς Ναυπακτίας αὐτὰ ἐξευρήσουσι· καὶ αὖθις τὴν Πυθίαν εἰπεῖν ὡς μηνύσοι κορώνη σφίσιν. οὕτω τοῖς θεοπρόποις ἀποβᾶσιν ἐς τὴν γῆν πέτραν τε οὐ πόρρω τῆς ὁδοῦ καὶ τὴν ὄρνιθα ἐπὶ τῇ πέτρᾳ φασὶν ὀφθῆναι· καὶ τοῦ Ἡσιόδου δὲ τὰ ὀστᾶ εὗρον ἐν χηραμῷ τῆς πέτρας. καὶ ἐλεγεῖα ἐπὶ τῷ μνήματι ἐπεγέγραπτο·

Ἄσκρη μὲν πατρὶς πολυλήιος, ἀλλὰ θανόντος
ὀστέα πληξίππων γῆ Μινυῶν κατέχει
Ἡσιόδου, τοῦ πλεῖστον ἐν Ἑλλάδι κῦδος ὀρεῖται
ἀνδρῶν κρινομένων ἐν βασάνῳ σοφίης.

Suda, tau 732

“Hesiodic old age”: A proverb for people who are really old. Pindar’s epigram also conveys something like this: “Goodbye, Hesiod, you were twice young and twice you found a grave—you who provided for mankind a measure for wisdom”

Τὸ ῾Ησιόδειον γῆρας: ἐπὶ τῶν ὑπεργήρων· φέρεται γὰρ καὶ ἐπίγραμμα Πινδάρου τοιοῦτον· χαῖρε δὶς ἡβήσας καὶ δὶς τάφων ἀντιβολήσας, ῾Ησίοδ’, ἀνθρώποις μέτρον ἔχων σοφίης.

Aristotle, fragments of the Constitution of the Orkhomenians

“Hesiodic Old Age: Aristotle says in his Constitution of the Athenians that Hesiod was buried twice and received the following epigram: “Goodbye, Hesiod, you were twice young and twice you found a grave—you who provided for mankind a measure for wisdom”

᾿Ορχομενίων.
Coll. proverb. cod. Vat. et Bodl. (App. 4, 92 ed. Gott. I p. 456) s. τὸ ῾Ησιόδειον γῆρας: ᾿Αριστοτέλης ἐν ᾿Ορχομενίων πολιτείᾳ δὶς τεθάφθαι φησὶ τὸν ῾Ησίοδον καὶ ἐπι-γράμματος τοῦδε τυχεῖν· χαῖρε δὶς ἡβήσας καὶ δὶς τάφου ἀντιβολήσας,
῾Ησίοδ’, ἀνθρώποις μέτρον ἔχων σοφίης. παρόσον τό τε γῆρας ὑπερέβη καὶ δὶς ἐτάφη.

From the Same Text, a Surprising Relation

Aristotle the philosopher, I think rather than the one who gathered together the Robes, says in his Constitution of the Athenians that Stesichorus the lyric poet was the son of Hesiod who was born from Klymenê, the daughter of Amphiphanes and the sister of Ganuktôr, a daughter of Phêgeus (Cf. Schol in Hes. Op. 268: Philokhoros says that Stesichorus was a son of Klumenê and Hesiod). Pindar also has this inscription….
Io. Tzetzes (cf. A. P. p. 505 sqq.) prolegg. comm. in

Hesiodi opp. p. 15 Gf. ᾿Αριστοτέλης γὰρ ὁ φιλόσοφος, μᾶλλον δ’ οἶμαι ὁ τοὺς Πέπλους συντάξας, ἐν τῇ ᾿Ορχομενίων πολιτείᾳ Στησίχορον τὸν μελοποιὸν εἶναί φησι υἱὸν ῾Ησιόδου ἐκ τῆς Κλυμένης αὐτῷ γεννηθέντα τῆς ᾿Αμφιφάνους καὶ Γανύκτορος ἀδελφῆς, θυγατρὸς δὲ Φηγέως (cf. Schol. in Hes. opp. 268 Φιλόχορος δὲ Στησίχορόν φησι τὸν ἀπὸ Κλυμένης sc. υἱὸν εἶναι ῾Ησιόδου). —p. 17: ἐπέγραψε δὲ
καὶ Πίνδαρος· χαῖρε κ. τ. λ.

“Plutarch says that this happened at that time when the Thespiens were driving out the inhabitants and the Orkhomenians had asked that they be saved. This is why the god tasked the Orkomenians with returning Hesiod’s remains and interring them among them. Aristotle says the same thing when he writes about the Constitution of the Orkhomenians.”

Schol. (Procl.) in Hesiodi opp. 631 (p. 298 Gaisf.):
ἀοίκητον δὲ αὐτὸ (τὸ πολίχνιον τὴν ῎Ασκραν) ὁ Πλούταρχος ἱστορεῖ καὶ τότε εἶναι, Θεσπιέων ἀνελόντων τοὺς οἰκοῦντας, ᾿Ορχομενίων δὲ τοὺς σωθέντας δεξαμένων. ὅθεν καὶ τὸν θεὸν ᾿Ορχομενίοις προστάξαι τὰ ῾Ησιόδου λείψανα λαβεῖν καὶ θάψαι παρ’ αὐτοῖς, ὡς καὶ ᾿Αριστοτέλης φησὶ γράφων τὴν ᾿Ορχομενίων πολιτείαν.

Image result for Ancient Greek Orchomenus

Ruins at Orkhomenos

Two Guys Named Hesiod. Two Places Called Nemea: Another Tale of a Poet’s Death

Certamen of Homer and Hesiod

Earlier we posted the story of the death of Hesiod according to Plutarch. This version shares some of the details, but not others.  Hesiod defeats Homer in a poetic competition. Things only go downhill from there…

“After the contest [with Homer] was over, Hesiod went to Delphi to get an oracle and to make a thanks-offering for the victory to the god. When he arrived at the shrine, people claim that the prophetess was inspired and said:

“This lucky man who travels to my home
Is Hesiod, honored by the divine Muses.
His fame will spread as far as the sun shines.
But guard against the gorgeous grove of Nemeian Zeus.
It is there where your fated death will come.”

Hesiod, after he heard this oracle, went retreating from the Peloponnese because he believed  that the god meant the oracle there. He went to Oinoê in Lokris and rested with Amphiphanes and Ganuktôr, the children of Phêgeus,  and he really did not understand the oracle. For this place was called the shrine of Zeus Nemeios. After he spent a period of time with the Oineans, the youths, because they suspected that Hesiod fornicated with their sister, killed him and through hem into the sea between Euboia and Lokris.

When the abandoned corpse was carried by dolphins to land, there was some local festival happening and everyone ran to the shore. Once they recognized who this was, they grieved and buried him—and then they began to seek his murderers. The brothers, because they feared the rage of the citizens, made off with a fishing skiff and sailed toward Krêtê. Zeus struck that vessel in the middle with lightening and submerged them in the sea, as Alkidamas says in the Mouseion.

Eratosthenes says in his epode that Ktimenos and Antiphon, the sons of Ganuktôr, were arrested for the aforementioned reason and sacrificed to the gods of hospitality by Eurukles the prophet. According to the same author, The virgin sister of these men hanged herself after she was raped—and Eratosthenes says she was raped by some stranger on the road who was named Hesiod, the son of Dêmades. He was also killed by the same men. Later, the Orkhomenians, in accordance with an oracle, transferred Hesiod and buried them in their land….”

Cert. Hom. et Hes. v. 214 West. (unde eadem Tzetzes

 τοῦ δὲ ἀγῶνος διαλυθέντος διέπλευσεν ὁ ῾Ησίοδος εἰς Δελφοὺς χρησόμενος καὶ τῆς νίκης ἀπαρχὰς τῷ θεῷ ἀναθήσων. προσερχομένου δὲ αὐτοῦ τῷ ναῷ ἔνθεον γενομένην τὴν προφῆτίν φασιν εἰπεῖν

ὄλβιος οὗτος ἀνήρ, ὃς ἐμὸν δόμον ἀμφιπολεύει,

῾Ησίοδος Μούσῃσι τετιμένος ἀθανάτῃσι·

τοῦ δή τοι κλέος ἔσται ὅσην τ’ ἐπικίδναται ἠώς.

ἀλλὰ Διὸς πεφύλαξο Νεμείου κάλλιμον ἄλσος·

κεῖθι δέ τοι θανάτοιο τέλος πεπρωμένον ἐστίν.

ὁ δὲ ῾Ησίοδος ἀκούσας τοῦ χρησμοῦ τῆς Πελοποννήσου μὲν ἀνεχώρει νομίσας τὴν ἐκεῖ Νεμέαν τὸν θεὸν λέγειν, εἰς δὲ  Οἰνόην τῆς Λοκρίδος ἐλθὼν καταλύει παρὰ ᾿Αμφιφάνει καὶ Γανύκτορι, τοῖς Φηγέως παισίν, ἀγνοήσας τὸ μαντεῖον· ὁ γὰρ τόπος οὗτος ἐκαλεῖτο Διὸς Νεμείου ἱερόν. διατριβῆς δ’ αὐτῷ πλείονος γενομένης ἐν τοῖς Οἰνεῶσιν, ὑπονοήσαντες οἱ νεανίσκοι τὴν ἀδελφὴν αὐτῶν μοιχεύειν τὸν ῾Ησίοδον, ἀποκτείναντες εἰς τὸ μεταξὺ τῆς Εὐβοίας καὶ τῆς Λοκρίδος πέλαγος κατεπόντισαν.

τοῦ δὲ νεκροῦ τριταίου πρὸς τὴν γῆν ὑπὸ δελφίνων προσενεχθέντος, ἑορτῆς τινὸς ἐπιχωρίου παρ’ αὐτοῖς οὔσης ἀριαδνείας πάντες ἐπὶ τὸν αἰγιαλὸν ἔδραμον καὶ τὸ σῶμα γνωρίσαντες ἐκεῖνο μὲν πενθήσαντες ἔθαψαν, τοὺς δὲ φονεῖς ἀνεζήτουν. οἱ δὲ φοβηθέντες τὴν τῶν πολιτῶν ὀργήν, κατασπάσαντες ἁλιευτικὸν σκάφος διέπλευσαν εἰς Κρήτην. οὓς κατὰ μέσον τὸν πλοῦν ὁ Ζεὺς κεραυνωθεὶς κατεπόντωσεν, ὥς φησιν ᾿Αλκιδάμας ἐν μουσείῳ φησιν ᾿Αλκιδάμας ἐν Μουσείῳ.

᾿Ερατοσθένης δέ φησιν ἐν † ἐνηπόδω † Κτίμενον καὶ ῎Αντιφον τοὺς Γανύκτορος ἐπὶ τῇ προειρημένῃ αἰτίᾳ ἀνελόντας σφαγιασθῆναι θεοῖς τοῖς  ξενίοις ὑπ’ Εὐρυκλέους τοῦ μάντεως. τὴν μέντοι παρθένον τὴν ἀδελφὴν τῶν προειρημένων μετὰ τὴν φθορὰν ἑαυτὴν ἀναρτῆσαι, φθαρῆναι δὲ ὑπό τινος ξένου συνόδου τοῦ ῾Ησιόδου Δημώδους ὄνομα· ὃν καὶ αὐτὸν ἀναιρεθῆναι ὑπὸ τῶν αὐτῶν φησιν. ὕστερον δὲ ᾿Ορχομένιοι κατὰ χρησμὸν μετενέγκαντες αὐτὸν παρ’ αὑτοῖς ἔθαψαν καὶ ἐπέγραψαν ἐπὶ τῷ τάφῳ·

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The Sad Death of Hesiod and His Body’s Afterlife

According to the following account, Hesiod died for another man’s crimes. His corpse was moved by dolphins. Then he was the star of CSI: Lokris.

Plutarch, Dinner of the Seven Wise Men 19 (= Moralia 162d-e)

“Hesiod’s misfortune was rather human and like our own—you have probably heard the story”

‘No, I have not’, I said.

‘Well, it is really worth hearing. It seems that Hesiod was sharing hospitality and a place with a man from Miletus when they were in Lokris. When the other guy was secretly having sex with their host’s daughter and was caught, he had suspicion that Hesiod knew from the beginning and conspired to hide the offense—even though he was responsible for nothing, he wrongly encountered untimely rage and slander. For the brothers of the girl killed him after they ambushed him near the Nemeion in Lokris, and they killed his servant, named Troilos, too.

After the bodies were pushed out into the river Daphnos, Troilos’ was carried to a boulder washed by water, positioned a little bit out into the sea. And to this day the boulder is called Troilos. A pod of dolphins took Hesiod’s body right away and conveyed it first to Rhion and Molykria. It just happened that the Lokrian sacrifice at Rhion and their assembly, which they hold occasionally even to our time in that place, was in progress at that time. When the body showed up, carried as it was, they were amazed at the chance and they ran down and, when they recognized the corpse since it was still rather fresh, they considered everything secondary to investigating the murder, all because of Hesiod’s fame

They accomplished this quickly by discovering the murderers [a dog went barking and hunting the murderers with a shout]. They put them still alive in the sea and destroyed their homes. Hesiod was then buried near Nemeia. Many people foreign to the region do not know where the grave is. It is hidden because, as they claim, it was sought by the people of Orkhomenos who wanted to transfer the remains to their vicinity in accordance with an oracle.”

Image result for Ancient Greek dolphin vase

.

Plutarchi sept. sap. conv. 19 (Hercher): ἀνθρώπινον δὲ καὶ πρὸς ἡμᾶς τὸ τοῦ ῾Ησιόδου πάθος· ἀκήκοας γὰρ ἴσως τὸν λόγον. Οὐκ ἔγωγε, εἶπον. ᾿Αλλὰ μὴν ἄξιον πυθέσθαι.

Μιλησίου γὰρ ὡς ἔοικεν ἀνδρός, ᾧ ξενίας ἐκοινώνει ὁ ῾Ησίοδος καὶ διαίτης ἐν Λοκροῖς, τῇ τοῦ ξένου θυγατρὶ κρύφα συγγενομένου καὶ φωραθέντος, ὑποψίαν ἔσχεν ὡς γνοὺς ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς καὶ συνεπικρύψας τὸ ἀδίκημα, μηδενὸς ὢν αἴτιος ὀργῇ δ’ ἀκαίρῳ καὶ διαβολῇ περιπεσὼν ἀδίκως. ἀπέκτειναν γὰρ αὐτὸν οἱ τῆς παιδίσκης ἀδελφοὶ περὶ τὸ Λοκρικὸν Νέμειον ἐνεδρεύσαντες καὶ μετ’ αὐτοῦ τὸν ἀκόλουθον ᾧ Τρωίλος ἦν ὄνομα. τῶν δὲ σωμάτων εἰς τὸν Δάφνον ποταμὸν ὠσθέντων τὸ μὲν τοῦ Τρωίλου εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν ἔξω φορούμενον ἐπεσχέθη περικλύστῳ χοιράδι  μικρὸν ὑπὲρ τὴν θάλασσαν ἀνεχούσῃ· καὶ μέχρι νῦν Τρωίλος ἡ χοιρὰς καλεῖται. τοῦ δ’ ῾Ησιόδου τὸν νεκρὸν εὐθὺς ἀπὸ γῆς ὑπολαβοῦσα δελφίνων ἀγέλη πρὸς τὸ ῾Ρίον ἐκόμιζε καὶ τὴν Μολυκρίαν. ἐτύγχανε δὲ Λοκροῖς ἡ τῶν ῾Ρίων καθεστῶσα θυσία καὶ πανήγυρις, ἣν ἄγουσιν ἔτι νῦν περιφανῶς περὶ τὸν τόπον ἐκεῖνον. ὡς δ’ ὤφθη προσφερόμενον τὸ σῶμα, θαυμάσαντες ὡς εἰκὸς ἐπὶ τὴν ἀκτὴν κατέδραμον καὶ γνωρίσαντες ἔτι πρόσφατον τὸν νεκρόν, ἅπαντα δεύτερα τοῦ ζητεῖν τὸν φόνον ἐποιοῦντο διὰ τὴν δόξαν τοῦ ῾Ησιόδου. καὶ τοῦτο μὲν ταχέως ἔπραξαν εὑρόντες τοὺς φονέας (add. Plut. de soll. an. 36: τοῦ κυνὸς ὑλακτοῦντος καὶ μετὰ βοῆς ἐπιφερομένου τοῖς φονεῦσιν)· αὐτούς τε γὰρ κατεπόντισαν ζῶντας καὶ τὴν οἰκίαν κατέσκαψαν. ἐτάφη δ’ ὁ ῾Ησίοδος πρὸς τῷ Νεμείῳ· τὸν δὲ τάφον οἱ πολλοὶ τῶν ξένων οὐκ ἴσασιν, ἀλλ’ ἀποκέκρυπται, ζητούμενος ὑπ’ ᾿Ορχομενίων, ὥς φασι, βουλομένων κατὰ χρησμὸν ἀνελέσθαι τὰ λείψανα καὶ θάψαι παρ’ αὑτοῖς.

Education and Easy Burials: Two Socratic Anecdotes

Both of these anecdotes appear in Stobaeus where they are attributed to Aelian

Stob. 4.55.10

When Socrates was about to drink the hemlock, and those accompanying Crito asked him how he wished to be buried, he answered “however is easiest for you.”

ὁ Σωκράτης ἐπεὶ τὸ κώνειον ἔμελλε πίεσθαι, τῶν ἀμφὶ τὸν Κρίτωνα ἐρομένων αὐτὸν τίνα τρόπον ταφῆναι θέλει, “ὅπως ἂν ὑμῖν” ἀπεκρίνατο “ᾖ ῥᾷστον.”

Stob. 2.31.38

“Noble Socrates reproached fathers who did not teach their sons and then, when they were destitute, took their sons to court and sued them as ungrateful because they did not support their parents. He said that the fathers were expecting something impossible: those who have not learned just actions are incapable of performing them”

Σωκράτης ὁ γενναῖος ᾐτιᾶτο τῶν πατέρων ἐκείνους, ὅσοι <μὴ> παιδεύσαντες αὑτῶν τοὺς υἱεῖς, εἶτα ἀπορούμενοι ἦγον ἐπὶ τὰς ἀρχὰς τοὺς νεανίσκους καὶ ἔκρινον αὐτοὺς ἀχαριστίας, ὅτι οὐ τρέφονται ὑπ᾿ αὐτῶν. εἶπε γὰρ ἀδύνατον ἀξιοῦν τοὺς πατέρας· μὴ γὰρ οἵους τε εἶναι τοὺς μὴ μαθόντας τὰ δίκαια ποιεῖν αὐτά.

 

Image result for Ancient Greek Socrates

Naps Can Be Deadly: Acilius Aviola’s Flame Out

Valerius Maximus, Memorable Sayings and Deeds, 1.8.12

“Another spectacle for our state was the pyre of Acilius Aviola. Doctors and his servants believed that he was dead since he had stretched out still in his house for some time. When he was taken out for burial, once the fire overtook his body, he yelled that he was alive and asked for help from his teacher—for he had remained there alone. But, because he was already surrounded by flames, he could not be saved from his death.”

1.8.12a Aliquid admirationis civitati nostrae Acilii etiam Aviolae rogus attulit, qui et a medicis et a domesticis mortuus creditus, cum aliquamdiu domi iacuisset, elatus, postquam corpus eius ignis corripuit, vivere se proclamavit auxiliumque paedagogi sui—nam is solus ibi remanserat—invocavit, sed iam flammis circumdatus fato subtrahi non potuit.

Pliny the Elder presents a shortened version of this  (Natural History, 1.173)

“Aviola the consul revived on the funeral pyre and since it was not possible to help him because the fire was too strong, he was cremated alive.”

 Aviola consularis in rogo revixit et, quoniam subveniri non potuerat praevalente flamma, vivus crematus est

Image result for Ancient Roman Funeral pyre

Odysseus, Necromancer

A student paper on the Elpenor Pelike at the MFA in Boston drew my attention to the following passage.

Servius ad Aen. 6.107

“For this reason the place is named without joy since, as people claim, it would not have been there but for necromancy or spellcraft. For, Aeneas completed these sacred rites when Misenus was killed and Ulysses did it with the death of Elpenor. This very scene Homer himself presented falsely from the detail of its location which he specifies along with the length of time of the journey. For he claims that Ulysses sailed for one night and came to the place where he completed these sacrifices. For this reason it is abundantly clear that he doesn’t mean the ocean but Campania.”

sine gaudio autem ideo ille dicitur locus, quod necromantia vel sciomantia, ut dicunt, non nisi ibi poterat fieri: quae sine hominis occisione non fiebant; nam et Aeneas illic occiso Miseno sacra ista conplevit et Vlixes occiso Elpenore. quamquam fingatur in extrema Oceani parte Vlixes fuisse: quod et ipse Homerus falsum esse ostendit ex qualitate locorum, quae commemorat, et ex tempore navigationis; dicit enim eum a Circe unam noctem navigasse et ad locum venisse, in quo haec sacra perfecit: quod de Oceano non procedit, de Campania manifestissimum est.

The relevant passages from the Odyssey don’t give any hint that Elpenor was intentionally killed for black magic. When Odysseus actually does summon the dead, now that gets a little dark.

Odyssey, 10.552–560

“I could not even lead my companions unharmed from there.
The youngest of my companions was a certain Elpênor,
He was neither especially brave in battle or composed in his thoughts.
He separated himself from the companions in Kirkê’s holy home
Because he needed some air; then he fell asleep because he was drunk.
When he heard the noise and trouble of our companions moving out,
He got up immediately and it completely escaped his thoughts
To climb down again by the long ladder—
So he fell straight from the roof and his neck
Shattered along his spine; then his spirit flew down to Hades.”

οὐδὲ μὲν οὐδ’ ἔνθεν περ ἀπήμονας ἦγον ἑταίρους.
᾿Ελπήνωρ δέ τις ἔσκε νεώτατος, οὔτε τι λίην
ἄλκιμος ἐν πολέμῳ οὔτε φρεσὶν ᾗσιν ἀρηρώς,
ὅς μοι ἄνευθ’ ἑτάρων ἱεροῖσ’ ἐν δώμασι Κίρκης,
ψύχεος ἱμείρων, κατελέξατο οἰνοβαρείων·
κινυμένων δ’ ἑτάρων ὅμαδον καὶ δοῦπον ἀκούσας
ἐξαπίνης ἀνόρουσε καὶ ἐκλάθετο φρεσὶν ᾗσιν
ἄψορρον καταβῆναι ἰὼν ἐς κλίμακα μακρήν,
ἀλλὰ καταντικρὺ τέγεος πέσεν· ἐκ δέ οἱ αὐχὴν
ἀστραγάλων ἐάγη, ψυχὴ δ’ ῎Αϊδόσδε κατῆλθεν.

Elpênor appears twice more in the epic: 11.51–80 (Odysseus meets Elpênor’s ghost when he summons the dead); 12.9-15 (Odysseus buries Elpênor).

MFA Boston, Accession Number 34.79; Caskey-Beazley, Attic Vase Paintings (MFA), no. 111; Highlights: Classical Art (MFA), p. 070-071.

Nekuomanteia, glossed by Hesychius as nekromanteia (i.e. “necromancy”) is an alternate name for the Nekyuia, the parade of the dead in book 11 of the Odyssey. From the Greek Anthology: ᾿Εν τῷ Η ἡ τοῦ ᾿Οδυσσέως νεκυομαντεία· (3.8); Scholia to the Odyssey, Hypotheses: Λ. Νεκυομαντεία, ἢ, Νεκυία. Cf. Eustathius, Comm. Ad Od. 1.396.10

Dog-Food and Autodidacticism: A Philosopher’s Death Scene

Diogenes Laertius on the Death and Early Childhood of Heraclitus 9.4-5

“Hermippos reports that he asked the doctors if anyone could dry his condition by emptying out his intestines. When they said they could not, he went out in the sun and ordered his servants to cover him with cow dung. He died the next day, stretched out in this way, and was buried in the market. Neanthes from Cyzicos claims that when he was incapable of peeling off the dung he stayed in place and, because he was unrecognizable in this shape, became dog-food.

Heraclitus was a wonder from a young age. As a youth he used to claim that he knew nothing, but when he was older he claimed he knew everything. He was the student of no one but used to claim “I inquired and learned everything from myself.”

heraclitus

῞Ερμιππος δέ φησι (FHG iii. 42) λέγειν αὐτὸν τοῖς ἰατροῖς εἴ τις δύναται ἔντερα κεινώσας ὑγρὸν ἐξερᾶσαι· ἀπειπόντων δέ, θεῖναι αὑτὸν εἰς τὸν ἥλιον καὶ κελεύειν τοὺς παῖδας βολίτοις καταπλάττειν· οὕτω δὴ κατατεινόμενον δευτεραῖον τελευτῆσαι  καὶ θαφθῆναι ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾷ. Νεάνθης δ’ ὁ Κυζικηνός φησι (FGrH

84 F 25) μὴ δυνηθέντα αὐτὸν ἀποσπάσαι τὰ βόλιτα μεῖναι καὶ διὰ τὴν μεταβολὴν ἀγνοηθέντα κυνόβρωτον γενέσθαι.

Γέγονε δὲ θαυμάσιος ἐκ παίδων, ὅτε καὶ νέος ὢν ἔφασκε μηδὲν εἰδέναι, τέλειος μέντοι γενόμενος πάντα ἐγνωκέναι· ἤκουσέ τ’ οὐδενός, ἀλλ’ αὑτὸν ἔφη (DK 22 B 101) διζήσασθαι καὶ μαθεῖν πάντα παρ’ ἑαυτοῦ.

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