Drugs of Death and Madness; Also, How Boars Get High

Galen, De Simpl. Med. 11.752.3

“For this reason, mandrake, hemlock, henbane and poppies, those types of substances I was just mentioning, if someone uses them moderately, then they become rather concentrated in their faculties. But if they take more, they are not only compressed but already a bit numb. If they take the maximum sample, they are no longer numb, but already necrotic.”

διὸ καὶ μανδραγόρας καὶ κώνειον, ὑοσκύαμός τε καὶ μήκων, αὐτὰς δὲ λέγω νῦν τὰς πόας, εἰ μὲν μετρίως τις χρήσαιτο, πυκνωτικαὶ ταῖς δυνάμεσιν ὑπάρχουσιν· εἰ δ’ ἐπὶ πλέον, οὐ πυκνωτικαὶ μόνον, ἀλλ’ ἤδη καὶ ναρκωτικαί· εἰ δ’ ἐπὶ πλεῖστον, οὐκέτι ναρκωτικαὶ μόνον, ἀλλ’ ἤδη καὶ νεκρωτικαί.

 

Plutarch, Table Talk III 649B

“The condition [ivy mixed with wine] induces in those who drink it is not drunkenness but a disruption and madness, just many other substances of this sort like henbane make the mind move manically.”

ὃ γὰρ ἐμποιεῖ τοῖς πιοῦσι πάθος οὐ μέθην ἄν τις εἴποι, ταραχὴν δὲ καὶ παραφροσύνην, οἷον ὑοσκύαμος  ἐμποιεῖ καὶ πολλὰ τοιαῦτα κινοῦντα μανικῶς τὴν διάνοιαν.

 

Aelian, Varia Historia 1.7

“There are boars in the wild who are also not uninformed about the art of medicine. These animals, as it seems, whenever they forget themselves and eat henbane, they drag themselves backwards in their weakness. Even though they are experiencing spasms, they still make it to the water and there they grab crabs and eat them eagerly. These creatures are the antidote for their suffering and they make themselves healthy again.”

Ἦσαν ἄρα οἱ σῦς οἱ ἄγριοι καὶ θεραπείας ἅμα καὶ ἰατρικῆς οὐκ ἀπαίδευτοι. οὗτοι γοῦν ὅταν αὑτοὺς λαθόντες ὑοσκυάμου φάγωσι, τὰ ἐξόπισθεν ἐφέλκουσι, παρειμένως ἔχοντες [οὕτως] αὐτῶν. εἶτα σπώμενοι ὅμως ἐπὶ τὰ ὕδατα παραγίνονται, καὶ ἐνταῦθα τῶν καρκίνων ἀναλέγουσι καὶ ἐσθίουσι προθυμότατα. γίνονται δὲ αὐτοῖς οὗτοι τοῦ πάθους φάρμακον καὶ ἐργάζονται ὑγιεῖς αὐτοὺς αὖθις.

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The Wild Boar of Erymanthus by Tomislav Tomi´c

 

 

Scamming on Skammonia

I have a graduate student working on spices in the ancient world. Expect random posts this semester.

Hesychius

“Skilla: skammônia, it brings death to mice.”

σκίλλα· σκαμμωνία, θανατηφόρος μυῶν

Suda

“Skammônia: a type of plant.”

Σκαμμωνία: εἶδος βοτάνης.

Convolvulvus Scammonia

Galen De Theriaca ad Pisonem 14.223

“just as scammony appears to treat yellow bile”

ὥσπερ ἡ σκαμμωνία ξανθὴν χολὴν ἕλκουσα φαίνεται.

Aetius, Med. 3.25.2

“Scammony: Scammony especially treats yellow bile. But it causes cardiac distress,  a bad smell, melancholy, and it makes people really thirsty,”

῀Σκαμμωνία. ῾Η δὲ ϲκαμμωνία ἄγει μάλιϲτα χολὴν ξανθήν· καρδιαλγὴϲ δέ ἐϲτι καὶ δύϲοϲμοϲ καὶ ἀτερπὴϲ καὶ ἄγαν διψώδηϲ.

 

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More on the Pharmacology of Language

Following up on Greek references to conversations with friends as a type of medicine

Gorgias, Defense of Helen 13-14

“The persuasion intrinsic to speech also shapes the mind as it pleases. We must first consider the narratives of astronomers who, by undermining one idea and developing another one, alter beliefs and make the incredible and invisible manifest to the eyes of belief. In turn, consider the necessary struggles in which one argument delights and persuades a great crowd when it has been written skillfully, even if it is spoken falsely. Finally, consider the rivalrous claims of philosophers which feature as well the speed of opinion that engenders volatility in the fidelity of a belief.”

 (13) ὅτι δ’ ἡ πειθὼ προσιοῦσα τῶι λόγωι καὶ τὴν ψυχὴν ἐτυπώσατο ὅπως ἐβούλετο, χρὴ μαθεῖν πρῶτον μὲν τοὺς τῶν μετεωρολόγων λόγους, οἵτινες δόξαν ἀντὶ δόξης τὴν μὲν ἀφελόμενοι τὴν δ’ ἐνεργασάμενοι τὰ ἄπιστα καὶ ἄδηλα φαίνεσθαι τοῖς τῆς δόξης ὄμμασιν ἐποίησαν· δεύτερον δὲ τοὺς ἀναγκαίους διὰ λόγων ἀγῶνας, ἐν οἷς εἷς λόγος πολὺν ὄχλον ἔτερψε καὶ ἔπεισε τέχνηι γραφείς, οὐκ ἀληθείαι λεχθείς· τρίτον <δὲ> φιλοσόφων λόγων ἁμίλλας, ἐν αἷς δείκνυται καὶ γνώμης τάχος ὡς εὐμετάβολον ποιοῦν τὴν τῆς δόξης πίστιν.

“The power of speech has the same logic regarding the disposition of the soul as that of the application of drugs to the natural function of bodies. For, just as certain drugs dispel certain afflictions from the body, and some end disease while others end life, so too are there stories that create grief and others that cause pleasure; some send us running, others make their audiences bold. Others still intoxicate and deceive the soul though some evil persuasion.”

 (14) τὸν αὐτὸν δὲ λόγον ἔχει ἥ τε τοῦ λόγου δύναμις πρὸς τὴν τῆς ψυχῆς τάξιν ἥ τε τῶν φαρμάκων τάξις πρὸς τὴν τῶν σωμάτων φύσιν. ὥσπερ γὰρ τῶν φαρμάκων ἄλλους ἄλλα χυμοὺς ἐκ τοῦ σώματος ἐξάγει, καὶ τὰ μὲν νόσου τὰ δὲ βίου παύει, οὕτω καὶ τῶν  λόγων οἱ μὲν ἐλύπησαν, οἱ δὲ ἔτερψαν, οἱ δὲ ἐφόβησαν, οἱ δὲ εἰς θάρσος κατέστησαν τοὺς ἀκούοντας, οἱ δὲ πειθοῖ τινι κακῆι τὴν ψυχὴν ἐφαρμάκευσαν καὶ ἐξεγοήτευσαν.

 

rhyme

 

Medicine for the Soul: Conversations with Friends

The other day I was a little surprised to find the following definitions and etymologies of  pharmakon (“medicine”).

From the Suda

“Pharmakon [medicine]: conversation, consoling, it comes from pherein [bringing] akos [relief/cure]. But it is also said to come from flowers.

Φάρμακον: παραμυθία, ὁμιλία, εἴρηται δὲ ἀπὸ τοῦ φέρειν τὴν ἄκεσιν: εἴρηται δὲ ἀπὸ τῶν ἀνθέων

Etym. Magn.

“Medicine: consolation, conversation. This is from pherein [to bear] and akos [relief], something close to pherakon

Φάρμακον: Παραμυθία, ὁμιλία· παρὰ τὸ φέρειν τὸ ἄκος, φέρακόν τι ὄν·

Chaintrain s.v. pharmakon, after surveying various approaches to its etymology (mostly reflexes of pherô and PIE *bher-) concludes “la question de l’origine de pharmakon est insoluble en l’ état present de nos connaissances.”

But it seems that the medicinal/therapeutic power of conversation was a popular trope in several contexts.

Some Proverbs from Arsenius, Paroemiographer

“Only words [reason] is medicine for grief”

Λόγος μέν ἐστι φάρμακον λύπης μόνος.

“Conversation [ or ‘reason’] is the doctor for suffering in the soul”

Λόγος ἰατρὸς τοῦ κατὰ ψυχὴν πάθους.

The palliative and or curative effect of stories and speech appears with some frequency in Euripides (and then appears in other authors as well)

Euripides, fr. 1065

“Many words of the ancients still ring true:
Their fine stories are medicine for mortal fear.”

καὶ τῶν παλαιῶν πόλλ’ ἔπη καλῶς ἔχει·
λόγοι γὰρ ἐσθλοὶ φάρμακον φόβου βροτοῖς.

 

Euripides, fr. 1079

“Mortals have no other medicine for pain
Like the advice of a good man, a friend
Who has experience with this sickness.
A man who troubles then calms his thoughts with drinking,
Finds immediate pleasure, but laments twice as much later on.”

Οὐκ ἔστι λύπης ἄλλο φάρμακον βροτοῖς
ὡς ἀνδρὸς ἐσθλοῦ καὶ φίλου παραίνεσις.
ὅστις δὲ ταύτῃ τῇ νόσῳ ξυνὼν ἀνὴρ
μέθῃ ταράσσει καὶ γαληνίζει φρένα,
παραυτίχ’ ἡσθεὶς ὕστερον στένει διπλᾶ.

 

Eur. Fr. 962

“There are different medicines for different diseases.
A kind story [muthos] from friends for a man in grief;
Advice for someone playing the fool to excess”

. . . ἄλλ᾿ ἐπ᾿ ἄλλῃ φάρμακον κεῖται νόσῳ·
λυπουμένῳ μὲν μῦθος εὐμενὴς φίλων,
ἄγαν δὲ μωραίνοντι νουθετήματα.

Menander (fr. 591 K.).

“The man who is sick in the body needs a doctor;
someone who is sick in the mind needs a friend
For a well-meaning friend knows how to treat grief.”

Τῷ μὲν τὸ σῶμα † διατεθειμένῳ κακῶς
χρεία ‘στ’ ἰατροῦ, τῷ δὲ τὴν ψυχὴν φίλου·
λύπην γὰρ εὔνους οἶδε θεραπεύειν φίλος.

Attributed to Socrates (in Stobaeus)

“The sick need doctors; the unlucky need encouragement from friends.”

Τοῖς μὲν νοσοῦσιν ἰατρούς, τοῖς δ’ ἀτυχοῦσι φίλους δεῖ παραινεῖν.

 

Euripides, Alcestis, 962—966

I have leapt through the Muses
And soared high but
Even though I have tried most words
I have found nothing stronger than Necessity
Not any medicine at all.

᾿Εγὼ καὶ διὰ Μούσας
καὶ μετάρσιος ᾖξα καὶ
πλείστων ἁψάμενος λόγων
κρεῖσσον οὐδὲν ᾿Ανάγκας
εὗρον, οὐδέ τι φάρμακον.

Sotion, About Rage

“Consolation is the greatest medicine for anger,
It counters grief, anger, and brings forgetfulness from all evils.”

῞Οτι ἡ παραμυθία φάρμακον ἀνίας ἐστὶ μέγιστον,
νηπενθές τ’ ἄχολόν τε, κακῶν ἐπίληθον ἁπάντων.

Biôn (c. XIV Herm., XVIII Ahr.).

“Love should summon the Muses; the Muses should carry love.
The Muses—I hope—give song to me always when I need it,
Sweet song, no medicine is more pleasing!”

Μοίσας ῎Ερως καλέοι, Μοῖσαι τὸν ῎Ερωτα φέροιεν·
μολπὰν ταὶ Μοῖσαί μοι ἀεὶ ποθέοντι διδοῖεν,
τὰν γλυκερὰν μολπάν, τᾶς φάρμακον ἅδιον οὐδέν.

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All of these quotes make me rethink the following from the Odyssey (14.399-400):

“Let us take pleasure from recalling one another’s grievous pains”

κήδεσιν ἀλλήλων τερπώμεθα λευγαλέοισι / μνωομένω

Addictive Reading: Etymologies for Kirke and Pharmakon in the Suda

Yesterday a review I wrote of the Suda On Line was published on the SCS website. A longer version of the review (which was edited) included a bit of a paean to the wonder and strangeness of the Byzantine Encyclopedia. Here are some tidbits I found searching the word “drugs”.

 

“Walled off”: This means “blocking”. As in the [unknown author’s line] “Because I have walled off my stomach, I am no longer susceptible to any drug.”

Ἀποτειχίζων: ἀποφράσσων. ἀποτειχίσας δὲ τὴν γαστέρα οὐδενὶ τῶν φαρμάκων ἔτι εἰμὶ ἁλώσιμος

 

Kirkê: This comes from “the woman who mixes [kirnôsa] the drugs. Or it is from kerkis [shuttle] from the verb kerkô. We call women who are especially subtle Kirkes.

Κίρκη: ἡ κιρνῶσα τὰ φάρμακα. ἢ παρὰ τὴν κερκίδα: κερκὶς δὲ παρὰ τὸ κρέκω. τὰς δὲ παιπαλώσεις γυναῖκας Κίρκας φαμέν.

 

“The oblivion of dogs”: [This is a proverb] for drugs that bring forgetfulness

Λήθην κυνῶν: λήθην ἐμποιούντων φαρμάκων.

 

Drug [Pharmakon]: this can mean persuasion, conversation: the etymology is said to be from bearing [pherein] the cure [akos]. Others claim that it comes from flowers.

Φάρμακον: παραμυθία, ὁμιλία, εἴρηται δὲ ἀπὸ τοῦ φέρειν τὴν ἄκεσιν: εἴρηται δὲ ἀπὸ τῶν ἀνθέων.

 

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A Hydrophilic High: Aelian on the Effects of Medicinal Seahorse

Aelian, De Natura Animalium 14.20

“Some people who know a lot about fishing claim that the stomach of a sea-horse—if someone dissolves it in wine after boiling it and gives it to someone to drink—is an extraordinary potion combined with wine, when compared to other medicines. For, at first, the most severe retching overcomes anyone who drinks it and then a dry coughing fit takes over even though he vomits nothing at all, and then: the upper part of his stomach grows and swells; warm spells roll over his head; and, finally, snot pours from his nose and releases a fishy smell. Then his eyes turn blood-red and heated while his eye-lids swell up.

They claim that a desire to vomit overwhelms him but that he can bring nothing up. If nature wins, then he evades death and slips away into forgetfulness and insanity. But if the wine permeates his lower stomach, there is nothing to be done, and the individual dies eventually. Those who do survive, once they have wandered into insanity, are gripped by a great desire for water: they thirst to sea water and hear it splashing. And this, at least, soothes them and makes them sleep. Then they like to spend their time either by endlessly flowing rivers or near seashores or next to streams or some lakes. And even though they don’t want to drink, they love to swim, to put their feet in the water, and to wash their hands.”

  1. Λέγουσι δὲ ἄνδρες ἁλιείας ἐπιστήμονες, τὴν τοῦ ἱπποκάμπου γαστέρα εἴ τις ἐν οἴνῳ κατατήξειενἕψων καὶ τοῦτον δοίη τινὶ πιεῖν, φάρμακον εἶναι τὸν οἶνον ἄηθες ὡς πρὸς τὰ ἄλλα φάρμακα ἀντικρινόμενον· τὸν γάρ τοι πιόντα αὐτοῦ πρῶτον μὲν καταλαμβάνεσθαι λυγγὶ σφοδροτάτῃ, εἶτα βήττειν ξηρὰν βῆχα, καὶ στρεβλοῦσθαι μέν, ἀναπλεῖν δὲ αὐτῷ οὐδὲ ἕν, διογκοῦσθαι δὲ καὶ διοιδάνειν τὴν ἄνω γαστέρα, θερμά τε τῇ κεφαλῇ ἐπιπολάζειν ῥεύματα, καὶ διὰ τῆς ῥινὸς κατιέναι φλέγμα καὶ ἰχθυηρᾶς ὀσμῆς προσβάλλειν· τοὺς δὲ ὀφθαλμοὺς ὑφαίμους αὐτῷ γίνεσθαι καὶ πυρώδεις, τὰ βλέφαρα δὲ διογκοῦσθαι. ἐμέτων δὲ ἐπιθυμίαι ἐξάπτονταί φασιν, ἀναπλεῖ δὲ οὐδὲ ἕν. εἰ δὲ ἐκνικήσειεν ἡ φύσις, τὸν μὲν <τὸ> ἐς θάνατον σφαλερὸν παριέναι, ἐς λήθην δὲ ὑπολισθαίνειν καὶ παράνοιαν. ἐὰν δὲ ἐς τὴν κάτω γαστέρα διολίσθῃ, μηδὲν ἔτι εἶναι, πάντως δὲ ἀποθνήσκειν τὸν ἑαλωκότα. οἱ δὲ περιγενόμενοι ἐς παράνοια ἐξοκείλαντες ὕδατος ἱμέρῳ πολλῷ καταλαμβάνονται, καὶ ὁρᾶν διψῶσιν ὕδωρ καὶ ἀκούειν λειβομένου· καὶ τοῦτό γε αὐτοὺς καταβαυκαλᾷ καὶ κατευνάζει. καὶ διατρίβειν φιλοῦσιν ἢ παρὰ τοῖς ἀενάοις ποταμοῖς ἢ αἰγιαλῶν πλησίον ἢ παρὰ κρήναις ἢ λίμναις τισί, καὶ πιεῖν μὲν οὐ πάνυ <τι>7 γλίχονται, ἐρῶσι δὲ νήχεσθαι καὶ τέγγειν τὼ πόδε ἢ ἀπονίπτειν τὼ χεῖρε.

 

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This is not a suggestion for experimentation over the long weekend. Drugs, as the Odyssey warns, might make you forget your homecoming

Addiction and Self-Restraint: Are The Scholia Wrong About Drugs?

In Odysseus’ tale of his wanderings he recounts how he saved his men from the temptations of the land of the Lotus-Eaters

Odyssey 9.82-97

“From there for nine days I was carried by ruinous winds
over the fish-bearing sea. On the tenth we came to the land
of the Lotus-Eaters where they eat the florid food.
There we disembarked to the shore and we drew water;
soon my companions made dinner around the swift ships.
But after we had shared the food and drink
I sent out companions to go and discover
whatever men there were who ate the fruit of the earth.
I chose two men and sent a herald as a third.
They went and met the Lotus-eating men.
The Lotus-Eaters didn’t bring any harm to my companions,
but they gave them their lotus to share.
Whoever ate the honey-sweet fruit of the lotus
no longer wished to report back or return home,
but just longed to stay there among the Lotus-eating men
to wait and pluck the lotus, forgetting his homecoming.”

ἔνθεν δ’ ἐννῆμαρ φερόμην ὀλοοῖσ’ ἀνέμοισι
πόντον ἐπ’ ἰχθυόεντα• ἀτὰρ δεκάτῃ ἐπέβημεν
γαίης Λωτοφάγων, οἵ τ’ ἄνθινον εἶδαρ ἔδουσιν.
ἔνθα δ’ ἐπ’ ἠπείρου βῆμεν καὶ ἀφυσσάμεθ’ ὕδωρ,
αἶψα δὲ δεῖπνον ἕλοντο θοῇς παρὰ νηυσὶν ἑταῖροι.
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ σίτοιό τ’ ἐπασσάμεθ’ ἠδὲ ποτῆτος,
δὴ τότ’ ἐγὼν ἑτάρους προΐην πεύθεσθαι ἰόντας,
οἵ τινες ἀνέρες εἶεν ἐπὶ χθονὶ σῖτον ἔδοντες,
ἄνδρε δύω κρίνας, τρίτατον κήρυχ’ ἅμ’ ὀπάσσας.
οἱ δ’ αἶψ’ οἰχόμενοι μίγεν ἀνδράσι Λωτοφάγοισιν•
οὐδ’ ἄρα Λωτοφάγοι μήδονθ’ ἑτάροισιν ὄλεθρον
ἡμετέροισ’, ἀλλά σφι δόσαν λωτοῖο πάσασθαι.
τῶν δ’ ὅς τις λωτοῖο φάγοι μελιηδέα καρπόν,
οὐκέτ’ ἀπαγγεῖλαι πάλιν ἤθελεν οὐδὲ νέεσθαι,
ἀλλ’ αὐτοῦ βούλοντο μετ’ ἀνδράσι Λωτοφάγοισι
λωτὸν ἐρεπτόμενοι μενέμεν νόστου τε λαθέσθαι.

The scholia present reactions to this passage that are not altogether alien from some arguments in the debate about drug enforcement and addiction.

One scholiast quotes Heraclitus the Paradoxographer with approval, noting that this scene is about how the wise man can resist pleasure.

Schol ad. Od. 9 89

“From Herakleitos. If someone wishes to examine Odysseus’ wanderings precisely, he will find an allegorical tale. For he has set up Odysseus as something of a vehicle of every kind of virtue through which has philosophized: and then he resists the vices that corrupt human life: the land of the Lotus-eaters represents pleasure, a land of foreign corruption which Odysseus masterfully passes by, and then he settles the wild heart of each man with either chastisement or persuasion.”

ἐκ τοῦ ῾Ηρακλείτου. καθόλου δὲ τὴν ᾿Οδυσσέως πλάνην εἴ τις ἀκριβῶς ἐθέλει σκοπεῖν, ἠλληγορημένην εὑρήσει. πάσης γὰρ ἀρετῆς καθάπερ ὄργανόν τι τὸν ᾿Οδυσσέα παραστησάμενος ἑαυτῷ διὰ τοῦτο πεφιλοσόφηκεν, ἐπειδήπερ τὰς ἐκνεμομένας τὸν ἀνθρώπινον βίον ἤχθηρε κακίας, ἡδονὴν μέν γε τὸ Λωτοφάγων χωρίον, ξένης γεωργὸν ἀπολαύσεως, ἣν ᾿Οδυσσεὺς ἐγκρατῶς παρέπλευσε, τὸν δ’ ἄγριον ἑκάστου θυμὸν ὡσπερεὶ καυτηρίῳ τῇ παραινέσει τῶν λόγων ἐπήρωσε.

Another commentator actually speaks of the Lotus-eaters as just men. This author implies that Odysseus’ men choose to take the drugs. Therefore, the blame is on them.

Schol. ad Od. 9.92

“Because they are righteous men, the [Lotus-eaters] do not restrain anyone by force, but by persuasion. For in the word “they were devising” it is clear that the ruin which attends these men does not happen without their consent. For, because the Lotus-eaters are righteous men, they were detaining no one by force but they were bewitching them with words alone.”

οὐδ’ ἄρα Λωτοφάγοι] δίκαιοι ὄντες ἄνδρες βίᾳ τινι οὐ κατεῖχον, ἀλλὰ πειθοῖ. τὸ δὲ “μήδοντο” δηλοῖ ὅτι οὐχ ἑκούσιος ἦν ἐκείνων ὁ γενόμενος ὄλεθρος. καὶ γὰρ οἱ Λωτοφάγοι δίκαιοι ὄντες βίᾳ οὐδένα κατεῖχον, ἀλλὰ τῷ λόγῳ μόνῳ ἔθελγον. Q.

And another comment explains that the men who partake of the lotus don’t actually forget their homecoming, but they merely stop worrying about it. Because, you know, it is their fault.

Schol. ad Od. 9.97

“They forgot their homecoming” This follows from their nature, as it happens with the irrational animals, that the Lotus brings them forgetfulness and because of pleasure they spurn their homecoming. The sentiment is similar to the Iliad’s “they forgot their rushing valor”—they did not really forget it, but they stopped fostering it.”

νόστου τε λαθέσθαι] ἀκολούθως τῇ φύσει, ὡς ἐπὶ ἀλόγων ζῴων, οὐχ ὡς μέντοι τοῦ λωτοῦ λήθην ἐμποιοῦντος, ἀλλὰ διὰ τὴν ἡδονὴν καταφρονούντων τοῦ νόστου. ὅμοιον δέ ἐστι τῷ “λάθοντο δὲ θούριδος ἀλκῆς” (Il. ο, 322.). οὐ γὰρ ἐπελάθοντο, ἀλλὰ κατημέλησαν. H.Q.

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This is from tripline.com

In these three cases, drug addiction is treated as an individual responsibility and not as either a biological challenge [e.g. addiction as a disease] or a social problem [an act of oblivion in a society with no collective meaning or sense of belonging].

(Maybe they were all on drugs anyway)

Ancient Greek may not have had a word for the concept of addiction.

Aristotle Was a Drug-Dealer First: Epicurus’ Lost Letter

I have mentioned before the Classics parlor game of trading a lost work for an equivalent extant text.  I have a new favorite answer.  I would trade an entire book of Cicero’s Letters for this one letter by Epicurus. I fear, however, that Athenaeus might be making this up (Deipn. 8.50):

“Even though I have a lot more to say about the foolish things the drug-dealer [Aristotle] said, and although I know that Epicurus, who was the most faithful to the truth, said these things about him in his Letter on Lifestyles, that after he consumed his inheritance he first went on a military expedition and when that went badly he moved on to selling drugs. When Plato opened his school, Epicurus says, [Aristotle] traveled there and attended the lectures. Because he was not a moron, bit by bit he pursued a more reflective path.

I know that Epicurus alone said these things against Aristotle: neither Eubulides nor Kêphisodôros dares to say this kind of thing against the Stageirite, even though they published many condemnations of him. In that same letter, Epicurus also claims that Protagaoras the sophist, was a porter and wood-deliverer before he became Democritus’ scribe. According to Epicurus, Democritus was impressed by the particular way Protagoras piled wood—then he took him, taught him how to read and write in some village after which he rose to become a Sophist. Just so, my dinner guests, I am moving from these words now to fill my belly.”

Aristotle_Altemps_Inv8575.jpg
Would you buy drugs from this man?

πολλὰ δὲ ἔχων ἔτι λέγειν περὶ ὧν ἐλήρησεν ὁ φαρμακοπώλης παύομαι, καίτοι εἰδὼς καὶ ᾿Επκουρον τὸν φιλαληθέστατον ταῦτ’ εἰπόντα περὶ αὐτοῦἐν τῇ περὶ ἐπιτηδευμάτων ἐπιστολῇ, ὅτι καταφαγὼν τὰ πατρῷα ἐπὶ στρατείαν ὥρμησε καὶ ὅτι ἐν ταύτῃ κακῶς πράττων ἐπὶ τὸ φαρμακοπωλεῖν ἦλθεν· εἶτα ἀναπεπταμένου τοῦ Πλάτωνος περιπάτου, φησί, παραβαλὼν ἑαυτὸν προσεκάθισε τοῖς λόγοις, οὐκ ὢν ἀφυής, καὶ κατὰ μικρὸν εἰς τὴν θεωρουμένην ἐξῆλθεν. οἶδα δὲ ὅτι ταῦτα μόνος ᾿Επίκουρος εἴρηκεν κατ’ αὐτοῦ, οὔτε δ’ Εὐβουλίδης, ἀλλ’ οὐδὲ Κηφισόδωρος τοιοῦτόν τι ἐτόλμησεν εἰπεῖν κατὰ τοῦ Σταγειρίτου, καίτοι καὶ συγγράμματα ἐκδόντες κατὰ τἀνδρός. ἐν δὲ τῇ αὐτῇ ἐπιστολῇ ὁ᾿Επίκουρος καὶ Πρωταγόραν φησὶ τὸν σοφιστὴν ἐκ φορμοφόρου καὶ ξυλοφόρου πρῶτον μὲν γενέσθαι γραφέα Δημοκρίτου· θαυμασθέντα δ’ ὑπ’ ἐκείνου ἐπὶ ξύλων τινὶ ἰδίᾳ συνθέσει ἀπὸ ταύτης τῆς ἀρχῆς ἀναληφθῆναι ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ καὶ διδάσκειν ἐν κώμῃ τινὶ γράμματα, ἀφ’ ὧν ἐπὶ τὸ σοφιστεύειν ὁρμῆσαι. κἀγὼ δέ, ἄνδρες συνδαιταλῆς, ἀπὸ τῶν πολλῶν τούτων λόγων τὴν ὁρμὴν ἔχω ἐπὶ τὸ ἤδη γαστρίζεσθαι.’

 

The first Suda entry for Aristotle is something like a soap-opera infused, poorly edited Wikipedia hit piece. And it does not mention the drug dealing:

“Aristotle, the son of Nikomakhos and Phastias. Nikomakhos was a doctor from the tradition of the sons of Asclepias, from Nikomakhos the son of Makhaon. He was from Stageira, a city in Thrace. He was also a philosopher, a student of Plato who had a stuttering voice. His siblings were Arimnestos and Arimnestê. He had a daughter with Pythias the daughter of Hermeias, the eunuch who fathered her even though he was castrated. Aristotle’s daughter married three times and died before her father after labor. He had a son named Nikhomakhos from a concubine named Herpyllis whom he took alongside Pythias, the eunuch’s daughter. (He was the ruler of Atarneus which is near the Troad. Hermeias was a slave of Euboulos of Bithynia and received Atarneus from him.) Aristotle was also a love of Hermeios. For 13 years, he led his [school of ] philosophy which was named peripatetic because he taught in a garden after leaving the Academia where Plato taught. He was born in the 99th Olympiad and died after drinking aconite in Chalkis because he was summoned for punishment after he wrote a Paean for the eunuch Hermeias. There are those who say he died after a disease when he was 70.”

᾿Αριστοτέλης, υἱὸς Νικομάχου καὶ Φαιστιάδος· ὁ δὲ Νικόμαχος ἰατρὸς ἦν τοῦ τῶν ᾿Ασκληπιαδῶν γένους, ἀπὸ Νικομάχου τοῦ Μαχάονος. ἐκ Σταγείρων, πόλεως τῆς Θρᾴκης, φιλόσοφος, μαθητὴς Πλάτωνος, τραυλὸς τὴν φωνήν. καὶ ἀδελφοὺς μὲν ἔσχεν ᾿Αρίμνηστον καὶ ᾿Αριμνήστην, θυγατέρα δὲ ἀπὸ Πυθιάδος, τῆς θυγατρὸς ῾Ερμείου τοῦ εὐνούχου· ὃς καὶ θλαδίας ὢν αὐτὴν ἔσπειρε. γημαμένη δὲ τρισὶν ἡ ᾿Αριστοτέλους θυγάτηρ τεκνώσασα προετελεύτησεν ᾿Αριστοτέλους τοῦ πατρός. ἔσχε δὲ καὶ υἱὸν Νικόμαχον ἐξ ῾Ερπυλλίδος παλλακῆς, ἣν ἠγάγετο μετὰ Πυθιάδα παρ’ ῾Ερμείου τοῦ εὐνούχου· ὅστις ἦν ἄρχων ᾿Αταρνέως, χώρα δὲ αὕτη Τρῳάδος, Εὐβούλου δὲ τοῦ Βιθυνοῦ δοῦλος γεγονὼς ἔλαβε· καὶ αὐτοῦ ῾Ερμείου παιδικὰ γενομένου ᾿Αριστοτέλους. ἦρξε δὲ ἔτη ιγ′ τῆς Περιπατητικῆς κληθείσης φιλοσοφίας διὰ τὸ ἐν περιπάτῳ ἤτοι κήπῳ διδάξαι ἀναχωρήσαντα τῆς ᾿Ακαδημίας, ἐν ᾗ Πλάτων ἐδίδαξεν. ἐγεννήθη δὲ ἐν τῇ Ϛθ′ ᾿Ολυμπιάδι καὶ ἀπέθανεν ἀκόνιτον πιὼν ἐν Χαλκίδι, διότι ἐκαλεῖτο πρὸς εὐθύνας, ἐπειδὴ ἔγραψε παιᾶνα εἰς ῾Ερμείαν τὸν εὐνοῦχον· οἱ δέ φασι νόσῳ αὐτὸν τελευτῆσαι βιώσαντα ἔτη ο′.

For 4/20, Homer’s Original Stoners

Odyssey 9.82-97

“From there for nine days I was carried by ruinous winds
over the fish-bearing sea. On the tenth we came to the land
of the Lotus-Eaters where they eat the florid food.
There we disembarked to the shore and we drew water;
soon my companions made dinner around the swift ships.
But after we had shared the food and drink
I sent out companions to go and discover
whatever men there were who ate the fruit of the earth.
I chose two men and sent a herald as a third.
They went and met the Lotus-eating men.
The Lotus-Eaters didn’t bring any harm to my companions,
but they gave them their lotus to share.
Whoever ate the honey-sweet fruit of the lotus
no longer wished to report back or return home,
but just longed to stay there among the Lotus-eating men
to wait and pluck the lotus, forgetting his homecoming.”

ἔνθεν δ’ ἐννῆμαρ φερόμην ὀλοοῖσ’ ἀνέμοισι
πόντον ἐπ’ ἰχθυόεντα• ἀτὰρ δεκάτῃ ἐπέβημεν
γαίης Λωτοφάγων, οἵ τ’ ἄνθινον εἶδαρ ἔδουσιν.
ἔνθα δ’ ἐπ’ ἠπείρου βῆμεν καὶ ἀφυσσάμεθ’ ὕδωρ,
αἶψα δὲ δεῖπνον ἕλοντο θοῇς παρὰ νηυσὶν ἑταῖροι.
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ σίτοιό τ’ ἐπασσάμεθ’ ἠδὲ ποτῆτος,
δὴ τότ’ ἐγὼν ἑτάρους προΐην πεύθεσθαι ἰόντας,
οἵ τινες ἀνέρες εἶεν ἐπὶ χθονὶ σῖτον ἔδοντες,
ἄνδρε δύω κρίνας, τρίτατον κήρυχ’ ἅμ’ ὀπάσσας.
οἱ δ’ αἶψ’ οἰχόμενοι μίγεν ἀνδράσι Λωτοφάγοισιν•
οὐδ’ ἄρα Λωτοφάγοι μήδονθ’ ἑτάροισιν ὄλεθρον
ἡμετέροισ’, ἀλλά σφι δόσαν λωτοῖο πάσασθαι.
τῶν δ’ ὅς τις λωτοῖο φάγοι μελιηδέα καρπόν,
οὐκέτ’ ἀπαγγεῖλαι πάλιν ἤθελεν οὐδὲ νέεσθαι,
ἀλλ’ αὐτοῦ βούλοντο μετ’ ἀνδράσι Λωτοφάγοισι
λωτὸν ἐρεπτόμενοι μενέμεν νόστου τε λαθέσθαι.

Lotus-eaters
18th Century Engraving (French)

“…One could imagine the poet deciding that drugs, too, are a part of experience, and maybe one could learn even from them. And, that being granted, given the poem’s frequent points of contact with a drug culture of some kind, it is not altogether implausible that in book 11 the poet conducts his hero on a hallucinogenic trip to the Underworld precisely when and where it will do him the most good. But only then, and for very special reasons, does it earn something like his grudging respect”

-Douglas J. Stewart. The Disguised Guest. 1976, 212.

Stewart makes this conclusion after analyzing drug use in the Odyssey:nepenthe in Sparta (administered to wine by Helen; compared by some to opiates); Lotus (book nine, he calls it “cannabis-like”); Circe’s drug (like LSD, according to Stewart) and Hermes’ antidote moly (book 10); dangerous wine (Polyphemos and Elpenor are undone); The Underworld “trip” (which Stewart suggests might be viewed as a grand hallucination which “shows signs of having been a drug experience,” 208).

4.219-232

“Then in turn Zeus’ daughter Helen made different plans.
Straightaway she tossed a drug into the wine they were drinking,
A drug which dispels pain, calms anger, and makes men forgetful of troubles.
Whoever drinks this one it has been mixed in the bowl
Would feel a tear down his cheek for a whole day,
Not even if his mother or father were to die
Or even if someone should cut down his brother or dear son
With an ax as he looked on with his own eyes.
Zeus’ daughter had such cunning drugs
Good ones, which Thôn’s wife Polydamna gave her
In Egypt where the fertile earth produces the most drugs—
Many a good once mixed, many are harmful
And each man there is a healer beyond all other men,
Since they descend from the race of Paiêon.”

ἔνθ’ αὖτ’ ἄλλ’ ἐνόησ’ ῾Ελένη Διὸς ἐκγεγαυῖα·
αὐτίκ’ ἄρ’ εἰς οἶνον βάλε φάρμακον, ἔνθεν ἔπινον,
νηπενθές τ’ ἄχολόν τε, κακῶν ἐπίληθον ἁπάντων.
ὃς τὸ καταβρόξειεν, ἐπὴν κρητῆρι μιγείη,
οὔ κεν ἐφημέριός γε βάλοι κατὰ δάκρυ παρειῶν,
οὐδ’ εἴ οἱ κατατεθναίη μήτηρ τε πατήρ τε,
οὐδ’ εἴ οἱ προπάροιθεν ἀδελφεὸν ἢ φίλον υἱὸν
χαλκῷ δηϊόῳεν, ὁ δ’ ὀφθαλμοῖσιν ὁρῷτο.
τοῖα Διὸς θυγάτηρ ἔχε φάρμακα μητιόεντα,
ἐσθλά, τά οἱ Πολύδαμνα πόρεν, Θῶνος παράκοιτις,
Αἰγυπτίη, τῇ πλεῖστα φέρει ζείδωρος ἄρουρα
φάρμακα, πολλὰ μὲν ἐσθλὰ μεμιγμένα, πολλὰ δὲ λυγρά,
ἰητρὸς δὲ ἕκαστος ἐπιστάμενος περὶ πάντων
ἀνθρώπων· ἦ γὰρ Παιήονός εἰσι γενέθλης.

But, lest Helen’s oblivion or the Lotus-Eaters’ lives seem attractive, remember that those who partake never make it home.  A modern morality tale caps the Homeric lesson:

 

 

 

 

Chewing Laurel Might Make You A Prophet…

(Warning: One is not advised to try this at home…)

 

Scholia to Hesiod’s Theogony, 30.7-13

“It might be the case that laurel makes those who eat it divinely inspired. Sophocles writes in his play Kasandra “Close your mouth after chewing laurel with your teeth.” (fr. 811)

And Lykophron writes “she loosed her voice in prophecy from her laurel-eating throat” (Alexandra, 6)

And these poems were uttered with divine inspiration.  Really, since laurel is always green, their words are always blooming.”

 

ἢ παρόσον ἡ δάφνη ἐνεργεῖ πρὸς τοὺς ἐνθουσιασμούς. R2WLZT
Σοφοκλῆς (frg. 811 N2) ἐν Κασάνδρᾳ εἴρηκε·

δάφνην φαγὼν ὀδόντι πρῖε τὸ στόμα.

καὶ R2WT Λυκόφρων (Alex. v. 6)·

δαφνηφάγων φοίβαζεν ἐκ λαιμῶν ὄπα.

τὰ δὲ ποιήματα μετὰ θεοῦ ἐμπνεύσεως εἴρηται. ἢ ἐπειδὴ ἡ δάφνη
ἀειθαλής ἐστιν, καὶ οἱ λόγοι ἀεὶ θάλλουσιν. R2VLZT

Laurel

Witchipedia (yes, this is a real thing) asserts that besides being fragrant laurel (bay) can increase your psychic power. Laurel may also have analgesic properties.