Three Fragment Friday: Why Do We Work So Hard at Living Badly?

Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 7.12-13


“Philetairos in the Huntress writes:

What ought one who is mortal do, I beg,
Other than live life pleasurably day by day
If he has any way to do it? But we should examine
This very thing when looking into human matters
Rather than fretting over what tomorrow will bring.
It is altogether bizarre to hoard money
For the next day at home.

And the same poet says in Winedrinker:

Mortals who live poorly when they have plentiful wealth,
Well, I say that they are wretches.
When you’re dead, truly, you won’t be eating eel.
No wedding cakes are baked among the dead.

And Apollodorus the Carystian writes in his Tabletmakers:

Humans, all of you—why do you dismiss living happily
And work so hard at living badly
By waging war against each other? Dear gods!
Has some savage type of Fortune taken control
Of our lives, who knows nothing of education at all,
and is completely ignorant of anything
good or evil and just jerks us around
in whatever direction chance governs?
I think so. For how could a Fortune that was truly Greek
Prefer to watch them torn apart by themselves
And falling down among the corpses,
When it were possible for them to be happy, playing,
Getting drunk and listening to music. Tell me, sweetest one—
Rebuke our Fortune as the savage she is!”

Φιλέταιρος Κυναγίδι (II 232 K).
τί δεῖ γὰρ ὄντα θνητόν, ἱκετεύω, ποιεῖν
πλὴν ἡδέως ζῆν τὸν βίον καθ’ ἡμέραν,
ἐὰν ἔχῃ τις ὁπόθεν; ἀλλὰ δεῖ σκοπεῖν
τοῦτ’ αὐτὸ τἀνθρώπει’ ὁρῶντα πράγματα,
εἰς αὔριον δὲ <μηδὲ> φροντίζειν ὅτι
ἔσται· περίεργόν ἐστιν ἀποκεῖσθαι πάνυ
ἕωλον ἔνδον τἀργύριον.
καὶ ἐν Οἰνοπίωνι δὲ ὁ αὐτός φησιν (II 234 K)·
θνητῶν δ’ ὅσοι
ζῶσιν κακῶς ἔχοντες ἄφθονον βίον,
ἐγὼ μὲν αὐτοὺς ἀθλίους εἶναι λέγω.
οὐ γὰρ θανών γε δήπουθεν ἔγχελυν φάγοις
οὐδ’ ἐν νεκροῖσι πέττεται γαμήλιος.

᾿Απολλόδωρος δ’ ὁ Καρύστιος ἐν Γραμματει-
διοποιῷ (IV 441 M)·
ὦ πάντες ἄνθρωποι, τί τὸ ζῆν ἡδέως
παρέντες ἐπιμελεῖσθε τοῦ κακῶς ποιεῖν
πολεμοῦντες ἀλλήλους; πότερα πρὸς τῶν θεῶν
ἐπιστατεῖ τις τοῦ βίου νυνὶ τύχη
ἄγροικος ἡμῶν οὔτε παιδείαν ὅλως
εἰδυῖα, τί τὸ κακόν ποτ’ ἢ τί τἀγαθὸν
ἔστ’ ἀγνοοῦσα παντελῶς, εἰκῆ τέ πως
ἡμᾶς κυλίνδουσ’ ὅντιν’ ἂν τύχῃ τρόπον;
οἶμαί γε. τίς γὰρ μᾶλλον ἂν προείλετο
῞Ελλην ἀληθῶς οὖσα λεπομένους ὁρᾶν
αὐτοὺς ὑφ’ αὑτῶν καὶ καταπίπτοντας νεκρούς,
ἐξὸν ἱλαρούς, παίζοντας, ὑποπεπωκότας,
αὐλουμένους. ωδει λέγ’ αὐτή, γλυκυτάτη,
ἔλεγχ’ ἄγροικον οὖσαν ἡμῶν τὴν τύχην.

Socrates at the Table: Moderation in Condiments

Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 5.186d



“When Socrates observed that someone was using a condiment excessively, he said “Guests, who is using relish like bread and bread like a relish?”


Σωκράτης δ’ ἰδών τινα ἀμέτρως τῇ ἐποψήσει χρώμενον ‘ὦ παρόντες, ἔφη, τίς ὑμῶν τῷ μὲν ἄρτῳ ὡς ὄψῳ χρῆται, τῷ δ’ ὄψῳ ὡς ἄρτῳ.’

Fragmentary Friday: Verses on Scholars

From Athenaeus’ Deipnosophists, Book 5 222a-b

“And, you, my grammarians who do not inquire into these sorts of things, I quote from Herodicus the Babylonian:

Flee, Aristarcheans, over the wide back of the sea
Flee Greece, men more frightened than the brown deer,
Corner-buzzers, monosyllabists, men who care about
Sphin and sphoin and whether its min or nin*.
This is what I would have for you storm-drowned men:
But may Greece and God-born Babylon always wait for Herodicus.

And, to add another, the words of the comic poet Anaxandrides:

…It brings pleasure
Whenever someone discovers some new notion,
To share it with everyone. But those who at first
Keep it to themselves have no judge for their skill
And are later despised. For it is right to offer the mob
Everything anyone might think is brand-new.

The majority of them departed at these words and slowly the party disbanded.”

‘ὑμεῖς οὖν, ὦ γραμματικοί, κατὰ τὸν Βαβυλώνιον ῾Ηρόδικον, μηδὲν τῶν τοιού-
των ἱστοροῦντες,

φεύγετ’, ᾿Αριστάρχειοι, ἐπ’ εὐρέα νῶτα θαλάττης
῾Ελλάδα, τῆς ξουθῆς δειλότεροι κεμάδος,
γωνιοβόμβυκες, μονοσύλλαβοι, οἷσι μέμηλε
τὸ σφὶν καὶ σφῶιν καὶ τὸ μὶν ἠδὲ τὸ νίν.
τοῦθ’ ὑμῖν εἴη δυσπέμφελον· ῾Ηροδίκῳ δὲ
῾Ελλὰς ἀεὶ μίμνοι καὶ θεόπαις Βαβυλών.’
κατὰ γὰρ τὸν κωμῳδιοποιὸν ᾿Αναξανδρίδην (II 159 K)·

ἡδονὴν ἔχει,
ὅταν τις εὕρῃ καινὸν ἐνθύμημά τι,
δηλοῦν ἅπασιν· οἱ δ’ ἑαυτοῖσιν σοφοὶ
πρῶτον μὲν οὐκ ἔχουσι τῆς τέχνης κριτήν,
εἶτα φθονοῦνται. χρὴ γὰρ εἰς ὄχλον φέρειν
ἅπανθ’ ὅσ’ ἄν τις καινότητ’ ἔχειν δοκῇ.

ἐπὶ τούτοις τοῖς λόγοις ἀναχωροῦντες οἱ πολλοὶ λεληθότως διέλυσαν τὴν συνουσίαν.

*Alternative pronoun forms found in manuscripts.

Tawdry Tuesday, Gigolo Edition: The Same Joke Three Times

(from Athenaeus’ Deipnosophists, book 6.48)

“Pausimachus used to remark about the parasite who was supported by an old woman that their intercourse produced an opposite effect: he was always getting something in his stomach. Makhon writes something similar about this:

People say that when Moschion the water-drinker
Saw with friends a parasite in the Lyceium
Who was fed well by a wealthy old lady, he said
“You terror, you are accomplishing the impossible,
Since this hag is always filling up your stomach!”

When the same man heard that a young man was being fed by an old lady and having sex with her every day, he said: “These days, anything can happen. She never gets pregnant, and he fills his gut every day!”

τὸν ὑπὸ τῆς γραὸς τρεφόμενον παράσιτον Παυσίμαχος ἔλεγεν τοὐναντίον πάσχειν τῇ γραίᾳ συνόντα· αὐτὸν γὰρ ἐν γαστρὶ λαμβάνειν ἀεί. περὶ τούτου καὶ

Μάχων γράφει οὕτως·
τὸν ὑδροπότην … Μοσχίωνα λεγόμενον
ἰδόντα φασὶν ἐν Λυκείῳ μετά τινων
παράσιτον ὑπὸ γραὸς τρεφόμενον πλουσίας
‘ὁ δεῖνα, παράδοξόν γε ποιεῖς πρᾶγμ’, ὅτι
ἡ γραῦς ποιεῖ σ’ ἐν γαστρὶ λαμβάνειν ἀεί.’
ὁ δὲ αὐτὸς παράσιτον ἀκούσας ὑπὸ γραίας τρεφόμενονσυγγινόμενόν τε αὐτῇ ἑκάστης ἡμέρας· νῦν πάντα, φασί, γίνεθ’· ἡ μὲν οὐ κύει, ἐν γαστρὶ δ’ οὗτος λαμβάνει καθ’ ἡμέραν.

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).

Fragmentary Friday: The Truth about Pythagoreans


Aristophon, fr.9 (The Pythagorean, from Athenaeus, 4.161f)


“Dear Gods! Do we believe that the ancient Pythagoreans,
–the real Pythagoreans, I mean–were willingly filthy,
that they happily wore rough robes?
I don’t think that any of this is true.
Instead, because they had nothing, by necessity
they discovered a noble pretext for their poverty
and established rules suitable for poor men.
But if you offer them fish or meat
And they don’t nearly eat their fingers too,
I’ll let you hang me ten times.”

πρὸς τῶν θεῶν, οἰόμεθα τοὺς πάλαι ποτὲ
τοὺς Πυθαγοριστὰς γινομένους ὄντως ῥυπᾶν
ἑκόντας ἢ φορεῖν τρίβωνας ἡδέως;
οὐκ ἔστι τούτων οὐδέν, ὡς ἐμοὶ δοκεῖ·
ἀλλ’ ἐξ ἀνάγκης, οὐκ ἔχοντες οὐδὲ ἕν,
τῆς εὐτελείας πρόφασιν εὑρόντες καλὴν
ὅρους ἔπηξαν τοῖς πένησι χρησίμους.
ἐπεὶ παράθες αὐτοῖσιν ἰχθῦς ἢ κρέας,
κἂν μὴ κατεσθίωσι καὶ τοὺς δακτύλους,
ἐθέλω κρέμασθαι δεκάκις.

Aristophon the Comic poet (late 4th BCE), not to be confused with the earlier Attic orator from Azenia or the painter from Thasos.