A Natural Fix for the Public Housing Crisis

Strabo 16

“The Khelônophagoi live underneath turtle shells that are big enough to sail in too. Some of them, because a lot of seaweed is cast onto the shore and makes piles as high as hills, dig into them and live inside. They dispose of corpses as food for fish by allowing them to be drawn away in the high tides.

Three islands are situated in a row: they are named Turtle Island, Seal Island, and Hawk Island. The whole shoreline has palm-trees, olive trees, and laurels and this is not just in the straits but on the outside too. There is a certain Philip’s island, facing which, above the coastline, is a hunting preserve for elephants which is called Pythangelos’ Hunting Ground.

Next to this is Arsinoê which has a city and harbor and beyond these, to Deirê above which is another hunting preserve for elephants. The land right above Deirê is rich in aromatics: the first part part produces myrrh—and it is the land of the Fish-Eaters and Meat-Eaters—and it also produces persea and the Egyptian sykamin. Beyond this land is Likha, another hunting ground for elephants. Frequently there are pools of rain water in the region and when these dry, the elephants dig with their tusks and teeth and uncover water.

On that coast, there are two enormous lakes extending up as far as the Pytholaian headland. One of them has salt water and they call it a sea; the other is fresh and contains both hippopotamuses and crocodiles. It also has papyrus on its shores. People also find the Ibis around this lake. Starting near the Pytholaus, the people who live there have unblemished bodies….”

  1. Οἱ δὲ Χελωνοφάγοι τοῖς ὀστράκοις αὐτῶν σκεπάζονται μεγάλοις οὖσιν, ὥστε καὶ πλεῖσθαι ἐν αὐτοῖς· ἔνιοι δὲ τοῦ φύκους ἀποβεβλημένου πολλοῦ καὶ θῖνας ὑψηλὰς καὶ λοφώδεις ποιοῦντος, ὑπορύττοντες ταύτας ὑποικοῦσι. τοὺς δὲ νεκροὺς ῥίπτουσι τροφὴν τοῖς ἰχθύσιν, ἀναλαμβανομένους ὑπὸ τῶν πλημμυρίδων. τῶν δὲ νήσων τινὲς τρεῖς ἐφεξῆς κεῖνται, ἡ μὲν Χελωνῶν, ἡ δὲ Φωκῶν, ἡ δ᾿ Ἱεράκων λεγομένη· πᾶσα δ᾿ ἡ παραλία φοίνικάς τε ἔχει καὶ ἐλαιῶνας καὶ δαφνῶνας, οὐχ ἡ ἐντὸς τῶν στενῶν μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ τῆς ἐκτὸς πολλή. ἔστι δέ τις καὶ Φιλίππου νῆσος, καθ᾿ ἣν ὑπέρκειται τὸ Πυθαγγέλου καλούμενον τῶν ἐλεφάντων κυνήγιον· εἶτ᾿ Ἀρσινόη πόλις καὶ λιμήν, καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα ἡ Δειρή· καὶ τούτων ὑπέρκειται θήρα τῶν ἐλεφάντων. ἀπὸ δὲ τῆς Δειρῆς ἡ ἐφεξῆς ἐστιν ἀρωματοφόρος, πρώτη μὲν ἡ τὴν σμύρναν φέρουσα (καὶ αὕτη μὲν Ἰχθυοφάγων καὶ Κρεοφάγων), φύει δὲ καὶ περσέαν καὶ συκάμινον Αἰγύπτιον· ὑπέρκειται δὲ ἡ Λίχα θήρα τῶν ἐλεφάντων· πολλαχοῦ δ᾿ εἰσὶ συστάδες τῶν ὀμβρίων ὑδάτων, ὧν ἀναξηρανθεισῶν οἱ ἐλέφαντες ταῖς προβοσκίσι καὶ τοῖς ὀδοῦσι φρεωρυχοῦσι καὶ ἀνευρίσκουσιν ὕδωρ. ἐν δὲ τῇ παραλίᾳ ταύτῃ μέχρι τοῦ Πυθολάου ἀκρωτηρίου δύο λίμναι εἰσὶν εὐμεγέθεις· ἡ μὲν ἁλμυροῦ ὕδατος, ἣν καλοῦσι θάλατταν, ἡ δὲ γλυκέος, ἣ τρέφει καὶ ἵππους ποταμίους καὶ κροκοδείλους, περὶ τὰ χείλη δὲ πάπυρον· ὁρῶνται δὲ καὶ ἴβεις περὶ τὸν τόπον. ἤδη δὲ καὶ οἱ πλησίον τῆς ἄκρας τῆς Πυθολάουτὰ σώματα ὁλόκληροί
Related image
Silver Turtle Stater from Aigina

Diverting Strength to Arms: The Man-killing Women of the Sauromatae

Hippocrates of Cos, Airs, Waters, Places  17

“This is how things are for the people in Asia. In Europe, there’s a Skythian people which lives around the Maeotian lake and is different from other nations. They are called Sauromatae. While the women are still virgins, they ride, shoot bows, throw the javelin from horseback, and fight in battle against their enemies. They do not give up their virginity until they kill three of their enemies. Nor do they marry before they complete the traditional rites.

Once a woman accepts a husband, she stops riding unless a general expedition forces her. They do not have right breasts because, when they are still infants, their mothers heat a bronze instrument created for this purpose and use it to cauterize the right breast so that it cannot grow and all of its strength and size are given to the right shoulder and arm.”

XVII. Καὶ περὶ μὲν τῶν ἐν τῇ Ἀσίῃ οὕτως ἔχει. ἐν δὲ τῇ Εὐρώπῃ ἔστιν ἔθνος Σκυθικόν, ὃ περὶ τὴν λίμνην οἰκεῖ τὴν Μαιῶτιν διαφέρον τῶν ἐθνέων τῶν ἄλλων. Σαυρομάται καλεῦνται. τούτων αἱ γυναῖκες ἱππάζονταί τε καὶ τοξεύουσι καὶ ἀκοντίζουσιν ἀπὸ τῶν ἵππων καὶ μάχονται τοῖς πολεμίοις, ἕως ἂν παρθένοι ἔωσιν. οὐκ ἀποπαρθενεύονται δέ, μέχρι ἂν τῶν πολεμίων τρεῖς ἀποκτείνωσι, καὶ οὐ πρότερον συνοικέουσιν ἤπερ τὰ ἱερὰ θύσωσιν τὰ ἔννομα.

ἣ δ᾿ ἂν ἄνδρα ἑωυτῇ ἄρηται, παύεται ἱππαζομένη, ἕως ἂν μὴ ἀνάγκη καταλάβῃ παγκοίνου στρατείης. τὸν δεξιὸν δὲ μαζὸν οὐκ ἔχουσι. παιδίοις γὰρ ἐοῦσιν ἔτι νηπίοις αἱ μητέρες χαλκίον τετεχνημένον ἐπ᾿ αὐτῷ τούτῳ ιάπυρον ποιέουσαι πρὸς τὸν μαζὸν τιθέασι τὸν δεξιὸν καὶ ἐπικαίεται, ὥστε τὴν αὔξησιν φθείρεσθαι, ἐς δὲ τὸν δεξιὸν ὦμον καὶ βραχίονα πᾶσαν τὴν ἰσχὺν καὶ τὸ πλῆθος ἐκδιδόναι.


Fantastic Friday 3: Final Adventures in Ethnography


Paradoxographus Vaticanus. 56-62 

56 “Among the Carthaginians it is impossible for those who have not served in the army to receive gold tribute. They receive as many payments in perpetuity as expeditions they served on.”

Παρὰ Καρχηδονίοις οὐκ ἔξεστι τοῖς ἀστρατεύτοις φορεῖν ἐνώτιον χρυσοῦν· ὅσας δ’ ἂν στρατεύσωνται στρατείας, τοσαῦτα ἀεὶ φοροῦσιν ἐνώτια.

57 “The Spartans shame/disfigure their elderly men no less than their fathers. And virgins have the same nude training as men do. It is not allowed for foreigners to live in Sparta nor for Spartans to offer them hospitality. These order women to get pregnant by the most well-formed men, both citizens and foreigners.”

Λακεδαιμόνιοι τοὺς γέροντας αἰσχύνονται οὐδὲν ἧττον ἢ πατέρας. γυμνάσια δ’ ὥσπερ ἀνδρῶν ἐστιν, οὕτω καὶ παρθένων. ξένοις δ’ ἐμβιοῦν οὐκ ἔξεστιν ἐν Σπάρτῃ
οὔτε Σπαρτιάταις ξενιτεύειν. οὗτοι ταῖς γυναιξὶν παρακελεύονται ἐκ τῶν εὐειδεστάτων κύειν καὶ ἀστῶν καὶ ξένων.

58 “First of the Greeks, the Cretans were possessing the laws which Minos set down. Minos claimed to have learned them from Zeus after he wandered for nine years over a certain month which is called the “cave of Zeus”. The children of the Cretans are raised in common and brought up hardy with on another. They learn the arts of war, and hunts, and they also practice uphill runs without shoes and they work hard on the pyrrhic dance which Purrikhos invented first.”

Κρῆτες πρῶτοι ῾Ελλήνων νόμους ἔσχον Μίνωος θεμένου· προσεποιεῖτο δὲ Μίνως παρὰ τοῦ Διὸς αὐτοὺς μεμαθηκέναι ἐννέα ἔτη εἴς τι ὄρος φοιτήσας, ὃ Διὸς ἄντρον ἐλέγετο. Οἱ Κρητῶν παῖδες ἀγελάζονται κοινῇ μετ’ ἀλλήλων σκληραγωγούμενοι καὶ τὰ πολέμια διδασκόμενοι καὶ θήρας δρόμους τε ἀνάντεις ἀνυπόδετοι ἀνύοντες καὶ τὴν ἐνόπλιον πυρρίχην ἐκπονοῦντες, ἥντινα πρῶτος εὗρε Πύρριχος.

59 “The Ligues hurl their parents from a cliff when they are no longer useful because of old age.”

Λίγυες τοὺς γονεῖς, ὅταν μηκέτι ὦσι διὰ γῆρας χρήσιμοι, κατακρημνίζουσιν.

60 “The Tauroi, a Skythian tribe, bury the kindest of the friends to the kings along with them. And the king, when a friend dies, cuts a little bit from his ear and takes away more when someone closer dies. When it is one of the closest companions of all, he takes the whole thing.”

<Ταῦροι, Σκυθικὸν ἔθνος, τοῖς βασιλεῦσι τοὺς εὐνουστάτους τῶν φίλων συγκαταθάπτουσιν>. ὁ δὲ βασιλεὺς ἀποθανόντος φίλου μικρόν τι τοῦ ὠτίου ἀποτέμνει, ἀναγκαιοτέρου δὲ τελευτήσαντος πλεῖον ἀφαιρεῖ· ὅταν δὲ ὁ πάντων
εὐνούστατος ἀποθάνῃ, <τὸ ὅλον>.

61 “Some of the Skythians, after they butcher and salt one who has died, leave him out to dry in the sun. After that, they string the meat on a cord and tie it to their own neck. Then, whenever they meet one of their friends, they take out a little dagger,  cut some of the meat and give it to them. They do this until they consume it all.”

Σκυθῶν τινες τὸν τελευτήσαντα κρεονομήσαντες καὶ ἁλίσαντες ξηραίνουσιν ἐν ἡλίῳ· μετὰ ταῦτα δὲ ἐνείραντες ἁρπεδόνι τὰ κρέα ἐξάπτουσι τῷ ἑαυτῶν τραχήλῳ, καὶ μαχαίριον λαβόντες, ᾧ ἂν ἐντύχωσι τῶν φίλων, τεμόντες κρέα διδόασι. καὶ τοῦτο ποιοῦσι μέχρις ἂν πάντα δαπανήσωσιν.

62 “The Athenians when they are completing these [rites] to the grave and they bring all the grain, a sign of the discovery of by them of fruits of all kinds”

᾿Αθηναῖοι τοὺς τελευτήσαντες ἐπὶ τὸν τάφον ἄγοντες καὶ πᾶν ὄσπριον ἐπέφερον, σύμβολον τῆς παρ’ αὐτῶν εὑρέσεως τῶν καρπῶν τῶν ἁπάντων.

Miniature object
BNF Latin 9187 Coutumes de Toulouse, F34v

Fantastic Friday: Adventures in Ethnography

Paradoxographus Palatinus 46-50

46 “The Dardanians, an Illyrian tribe, bathe themselves three times in their lives, when they are born and when they die. When they send an embassy to their enemies, they take a lamb and a branch of a tree. If their enemies accept their treaties, they leave what they brought. If they don’t, they take it back again.”

Δαρδανεῖς, ᾿Ιλλυρικὸν ἔθνος, τρὶς ἐν τῷ βίῳ λούονται, ὅταν γεννῶνται καὶ ὅταν τελευτῶσιν. ὅταν δὲ ἐπικηρυκεύωνται τοῖς πολεμίοις, ἄρνα κομίζουσι καὶ κλάδον δένδρου· καὶ ἐὰν μὲν δέχωνται οἱ πολέμιοι τὰς σπονδάς, καταλείπουσιν ἃ ἐκόμισαν, εἰ δὲ μή, πάλιν αὐτὰ ἀποφέρουσιν.

47 “Some of the Skythians are called man-eaters because they drink from human skulls. They also make handtowels by working the skin of the heads of their enemies. Then they flay the rest of the body with claws and put them on their horses.”

Σκυθῶν οἱ ἀνδροφάγοι λεγόμενοι ἐκ μὲν κρανίων πίνουσιν ἀνθρωπίνων, τὸ δὲ δέρμα τῆς κεφαλῆς τῶν πο-λεμίων ἐργαζόμενοι ποιοῦσι χειρόμακτρον, τὸ δὲ λοιπὸν σῶμα ἐκδείραντες σὺν τοῖς ὄνυξιν ἐπιβάλλουσιν ἐπὶ τοὺς ἵππους.

48 “The Sauromatai dine for three days until they are full. They obey women in everything and themselves wear female vestments. If any of their enemies flee to the fire of their hearth and darken their forehead with ashes, they no longer harm them, as if they were a household slave. They do not allow a virgin to settle down with a man before she kills an enemy.”

Σαυρομάται διὰ τριῶν ἡμερῶν σιτοῦνται εἰς πλήρωσιν. ταῖς γυναιξὶ δὲ πάντα πείθονται, καὶ αὐτοὶ δὲ φοροῦσι γυναικεῖαν ἐσθῆτα. ἐὰν δέ τις τῶν πολεμίων
καταφύγῃ πρὸς τῷ ἐπὶ τῆς ἑστίας πυρὶ καὶ τοῖς ἄνθραξι τὸ πρόσωπον μολύνῃ, οὐκέτι αὐτόν, ὡς οἰκέτην, ἀδικοῦσιν. παρθένον δὲ οὐ πρότερον συνοικίζουσιν εἰς ἄνδρα, πρὶν ἂν πολέμιον κτάνῃ.

49 “Among the Phrygians, if someone kills a farming ox or steals some of the equipment for farming, he is punished with death.”

Παρὰ Φρυξίν, ἐάν τις γεωργὸν βοῦν ἀποκτείνῃ ἢ σκεῦος τῶν περὶ τὴν γεωργίαν κλέψῃ, θανάτῳ ζημιοῦται.

50 “The Lykioi honor women more than men and are named from the mother not the father. They leave their inheritance to daughters not to sons. If anyone who is free is caught stealing, he becomes a slave. They do not provide witnesses in trials immediately, but after a month.”

Λύκιοι τὰς γυναῖκας μᾶλλον ἢ τοὺς ἄνδρας τιμῶσι καὶ καλοῦνται μητρόθεν, οὐ πατρόθεν· τὰς δὲ κληρονομίας ταῖς θυγατράσιν ἀπολείπουσιν, οὐ τοῖς υἱοῖς. ὃς δ’ ἂν ἐλεύθερος ἁλῷ κλέπτων, δοῦλος γίνεται. τὰς δὲ μαρτυρίας ἐν ταῖς δίκαις οὐκ εὐθὺς παρέχονται, ἀλλὰ μετὰ μῆνα.

Image result for medieval manuscript phrygians
KBR Ms.9961-62 Peterborough Psalter Folio 091v

Ancient Peoples Liked Beer

Pliny the Elder, Natural History 14.29

“The people of the west have their own alcohol made from soaked grain in many different ways in Gaul and Spain with many different names but with the same idea. The people of Spain have already taught us that these kinds of beverages will last even a long amount of time.

Egypt, too, has worked out a similar drink made from grain and in no corner of the world does intoxication ever take a break. They even drink this type of beverage without diluting them as one does with wine. But, by Hercules, that land used to seem to offer grains alone. Alas, the miraculous inventiveness of vice! A way has also been found to make water intoxicating!”

. Est et occidentis populis sua ebrietas e fruge madida, pluribus modis per Gallias Hispaniasque, nominibus aliis sed ratione eadem. Hispaniae iam et vetustatem ferre ea genera docuerunt. Aegyptus quoque e fruge sibi potus similis excogitavit, nullaque in parte mundi cessat ebrietas; meros quippe hauriunt tales sucos nec diluendo ut vina mitigant; at, Hercules, illic tellus fruges parare videbatur. heu, mira vitiorum sollertia! inventum est quemadmodum aquae quoque inebriarent.


Julian the Apostate, Epigrams 1

“Who are you and where are you from Dionysus? By the Bakhos true
I know only the son of Zeus and I do not know you.
He smells like nektar, but you smell like goat.
Did the Celts make you from grain because of their lack of grapes?
Ah, we should call you not Dionysus, but Demetrios instead.
And Bromos*** not Bromios since you are born of wheat**.”

Τίς πόθεν εἶς Διόνυσε; μὰ γὰρ τὸν ἀληθέα Βάκχον,
οὔ σ᾿ ἐπιγιγνώσκω· τὸν Διὸς οἶδα μόνον.
κεῖνος νέκταρ ὄδωδε· σὺ δὲ τράγου. ἦ ῥά σε Κελτοὶ
τῇ πενίῃ βοτρύων τεῦξαν ἀπ᾿ ἀσταχύων.
τῷ σε χρὴ καλέειν Δημήτριον, οὐ Διόνυσον,
πυρογενῆ μᾶλλον καὶ Βρόμον, οὐ Βρόμιον.


Aeschylus fr. 124 from Lykourgos (from Athenaeus 10.447c)

“He used to drink beer from these [heads] once he dried them
And then boast proudly about it in his man-cave.”

κἀκ τῶνδ᾿ ἔπινε βρῦτον ἰσχναίνων χρόνῳ
κἀσεμνοκόμπει τοῦτ᾿ ἐν ἀνδρείᾳ στέγῃ

The note from the Loeb attributes an understanding of this fragment to Hermann who compares it to Nonnos, Dionysiaca, 20.149–153, 166–181

Nonnos, Dion. 20.149-153

“The was a certain murderous man living there, of Ares’s line
Who was a mimic of his father’s wretched customs.
The criminal would drag faultless strangers to their doom,
That dread maniac Lykourgos, and then when he cut off
Their mortal heads with steel he hung them in his doorway…”

ἔνθα τις, ῎Αρεος αἷμα, μιαιφόνος ᾤκεεν ἀνήρ,
ἤθεσι ῥιγεδανοῖσιν ἔχων μίμημα τοκῆος,
ὀθνείους ἀθέμιστος ἀμεμφέας εἰς μόρον ἕλκων,
αἰνομανὴς Λυκόοργος· ἀποκταμένων δὲ σιδήρῳ
ἔστεφεν ἀνδρομέοισιν ἑὸν πυλεῶνα καρήνοις

Abb. 8: Jorg Prewmaister, Mendel Band I (1437), Seite 60 

Taming the Elephant’s Heart

Aelian, N. A. 12.44 (= Megasthenes fr. 37)

“In India, if an adult elephant is caught it is difficult to tame—it gets murderous from longing for freedom. If you bind it in chains too, it gets even more agitated and will not tolerate its master. But Indians try to pacify it with food and to soften it with a variety of pleasing items, making an effort to fill its stomach and delight its heart. But it remains angry with them and ignores them. What then do they devise and do? They encourage it with their native music and sing to a certain instrument they use. It is called a skindapsos. The instrument strikes the ears and enchants the animal—his anger softens and his spirit yields and bit by bit it pays attention to its food. At this point it is released from its chains and it waits, enthralled by the music, and it eats eagerly, like a guest in love with a banquet. The elephant will no longer leave because of his love of music.”


Aelianus N. A. XII, 44: ᾿Εν ᾿Ινδοῖς ἂν ἁλῷ τέλειος ἐλέφας, ἡμερωθῆναι χαλεπός ἐστι, καὶ τὴν ἐλευθερίαν ποθῶν φονᾷ· ἐὰν δὲ αὐτὸν καὶ δεσμοῖς διαλάβῃς, ἔτι καὶ μᾶλλον ἐς τὸν θυμὸν ἐξάπτεται, καὶ δεσπότην οὐχ ὑπονέμει. ᾿Αλλ’ οἱ ᾿Ινδοὶ καὶ ταῖς τροφαῖς κολακεύουσιν αὐτὸν, καὶ ποικίλοις καὶ ἐφολκοῖς δελέασι πραΰνειν πειρῶνται, παρατιθέντες, ὡς πληροῦν τὴν γαστέρα καὶ θέλγειν τὸν θυμόν· ὁ δὲ ἄχθεται αὐτοῖς, καὶ ὑπερορᾷ· Τί οὖν ἐκεῖνοι κατασοφίζονται καὶ δρῶσι; Μοῦσαν αὐτοῖς προσάγουσιν ἐπιχώριον, καὶ κατᾴδουσιν αὐτοὺς ὀργάνῳ τινὶ καὶ τούτῳ συνήθει· καλεῖται δὲ σκινδαψὸς τὸ ὄργανον· ὁ δὲ ὑπέχει τὰ ὦτα καὶ θέλγεται, καὶ ἡ μὲν ὀργὴ πραΰνεται, ὁ δὲ θυμὸς ὑποστέλλεταί τε καὶ θόρνυται, κατὰ μικρὰ δὲ καὶ ἐς τὴν τροφὴν ὁρᾷ· εἶτα ἀφεῖται μὲν τῶν δεσμῶν, μένει δὲ τῇ μούσῃ δεδεμένος, καὶ δειπνεῖ προθύμως ἁβρὸς δαιτυμὼν καταδεδεμένος· πόθῳ γὰρ τοῦ μέλους οὐκ ἂν ἔτι ἀποσταίη.

Wednesday’s Wondrous Water

The Paradoxagraphus Florentinus: Mirabilia de aquis is a text of “amazing stories” about bodies of water. [Here’s a site that seems to have stalled out but whose aim was to translate the remaining paradoxes]. Little is known about its authorship or audience. There are 43 sections. Here are the first 11. Some of the language is odd and I made no effort to look up the place names. So, if you have any corrections or suggestions, please share them.

1 “There is a spring in Potnia near Thebes and when horses drink from it they go insane, as Isigonos claims in the second book of his On Unbelievable Things

Κρήνη ἐν Ποτνίαις περὶ Θήβας, ἐξ ἧς οἱ ἵπποι πίνοντες μαίνονται, ὡς ἱστορεῖ ᾿Ισίγονος ἐν δευτέρῳ ἀπίστων.

2 “In Clazomenae, as that aforementioned Isigonos records, there is a spring which changes the color of the hair of all the animals who drink of it.”

Κρήνη ἐν Κλαζομεναῖς, ἀφ’ ἧς τὰ θρέμματα πίνοντα τὴν ἐρέαν χρωματίνην ποιεῖ, ὡς ἱστορεῖ ὁ προειρημένος ᾿Ισίγονος.

3 “There is a spring in India which spits up anyone who swims into it onto the land as if from a machine, according to the historian Ktêsias.”

Κρήνη ἐν ᾿Ινδοῖς, ἣ τοὺς κολυμβῶντας ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν ἐκβάλλει ὡς ἀπ’ ὀργάνου, ὡς ἱστορεῖ Κτησίας.

4 “In Krete there is a channel for water and when people cross it even though it is raining they make it through without getting wet for the entire distance which the channel extends.”

᾿Εν Κρήτῃ ὀχετὸς ὕδατός ἐστιν, ὃν οἱ διαβαίνοντες ὕοντος τοῦ Διὸς ἄβροχοι διαβαίνουσιν, ἐφ’ ὅσον ἐν τῷ ὀχετῷ εἰσιν.

5 “Among the Persians they claim that a spring filled with olive oil appeared suddenly to Alexander.”

᾿Εν Πέρσαις φασὶν ᾿Αλεξάνδρῳ φανῆναι κρήνην ἐλαίου πληρουμένην αὐτομάτως.

6 “Near Kilikia there is a certain pooling of water in which birds and unthinking animals who are soaked in it and drowned come back to life again.”

Παρὰ Κιλικίᾳ φασὶν ὕδατος εἶναι σύστημά τι ἐν ᾧ τὰ πεπνιγμένα τῶν ὀρνέων καὶ τῶν ἀλόγων ζῴων ἐμβραχέντα ἀναζῆν.

7 “Along a road in Syracuse there is a stream which is neither large nor carries a lot of water; but when a great mob comes to the place and there is a great sound it provides endless water, as Aristotle says.”

᾿Εν τῇ ἐπὶ Συρακουσῶν ὁδῷ κρήνη ἐστὶν οὐ μεγάλη οὐδὲ ὕδωρ πολὺ ἔχουσα· ὄχλου δὲ ἐπελθόντος εἰς τὸν τόπον καὶ ψόφου γινομένου παρέχει ὕδωρ ἄφθονον, ὥς φησιν ᾿Αριστοτέλης.

8 “In Paliakoi there is a spring which hurls water up six cubits high, making an impression that it is about to wash over the bordering places. But on the whole it doesn’t splash over anything. The people who live there swear their greatest oaths on this spring, as Isigonos records in the second book of his On Unbelievable Things.”

Κρήνη ἐν Παλικοῖς, ἥτις εἰς ὕψος ἀναρρίπτει τὸ ὕδωρ πηχέων ἕξ, ἔμφασιν ποιοῦσα μέλλειν κατακλύζειν τοὺς ὑποκειμένους τόπους· καθόλου δὲ οὐχ ὑπερεκχεῖται οὐδέν. ἐπὶ ταύτης οἱ ἐπιχώριοι τοὺς ὑπὲρ τῶν μεγίστων ὅρκους ποιοῦνται, ὡς ἱστορεῖ ᾿Ισίγονος ἐν δευτέρῳ ἀπίστων.

9 “Around the Skotoussa in Thessaly there is a little thing of a spring which heals all the wounds of unthinking animals. If someone breaks wood a little and throws it in after splitting it, it will be repaired. Thus the water is like glue, as Isigonos claims.”

Περὶ Σκοτοῦσσαν τῆς Θεσσαλίας κρηνίδιόν ἐστι μικρόν, ὃ τὰ ἕλκη πάντα θεραπεύει καὶ τῶν ἀλόγων ζῴων· εἰς ὃ ἐάν τις ξύλον μὴ λίαν συντρίψας, ἀλλὰ σχίσας ἐμβάλῃ, ἀποκαθίσταται· οὕτως κολλῶδες ἔχει τὸ ὕδωρ, ὥς φησιν ᾿Ισίγονος.

10 “Among the Lousoi in Arkadia Aristotle says that there is a certain spring in which mice are indigenous and they make their life there by swimming in it.”

᾿Εν Λούσοις τῆς ᾿Αρκαδίας φησὶν ᾿Αριστοτέλης κρήνην τινὰ εἶναι, ἐν ᾗ μῦς χερσαίους γίνεσθαι, καὶ τούτους κολυμβᾶν ἐν ἐκείνῃ τὴν δίαιταν ποιουμένους.

11 “Isigonos claims that there is a spring in Athamia from which the water is cold but on its top is so hot that if someone were to pour it over kindling it would immediately catch on fire”

Φησὶν ᾿Ισίγονος ἐν ᾿Αθαμᾶσι κρήνην εἶναι, ἧς τὸ μὲν ὕδωρ ψυχρὸν ὑπάρχειν, τὸ δ’ ὑπὲρ αὐτὸ οὕτως θερμὸν ὑπάρχειν, ὥστε, ἄν τις ὑπερθῇ φρύγανα, παραχρῆμα ἐξάπτεσθαι.

Yates Thompson MS 10, f. 11r (detail), France (Paris), 1370-1390

Hold Olympics, End a Plague? Make Herakles Your Friend Too

Pausanias, Description of Greece, 5.4.5-6

“After Oksulos, Laias, his son, held power, but I have learned that his descendants did not rule as kings. I am going to pass over them even though I know who they are, since I do not want my story to descend to talking about private citizens.

Later on, Iphitos, who was a descendant of Oksulos and around the same age as Lukourgos who wrong the laws for the Spartans, he organized the contests at Olympia and re-organized the Olympic festival and the truce from the beginning, since the games had been neglected for some amount of time. I explain this in the parts of my record which discuss the region of Olympia.

It was Iphitos’ responsibility to ask the god in Delphi for a relief from suffering since Greece was at that time especially suffering destruction from civil strife and epidemic disease. The story is that the Pythia commanded that Iphitos himself had to renew the Olympic Games along with the Eleians. Iphitos persuaded the Eleians to sacrifice to Herakles too, even though that had previously believed that Herakles was their enemy.

The inscription at Olympia claims that Iphitos was the child of Haimon. But most Greeks say that he was the son of Praksônides, not Haimôn. But the Eleians’ ancient writings attribute Iphitos to a father of the same name.”

μετὰ δὲ ῎Οξυλον Λαίας ἔσχεν ὁ ᾽Οξύλου τὴν ἀρχήν, οὐ μὴν τούς γε ἀπογόνους αὐτοῦ βασιλεύοντας εὕρισκον, καὶ σφᾶς ἐπιστάμενος ὅμως παρίημι· οὐ γάρ τί μοι καταβῆναι τὸν λόγον ἠθέλησα ἐς ἄνδρας ἰδιώτας. χρόνωι δὲ ὕστερον ῎Ιφιτος, γένος μὲν ὢν ἀπὸ ᾽Οξύλου, ἡλικίαν δὲ κατὰ Λυκοῦργον τὸν γράψαντα Λακεδαιμονίοις τοὺς νόμους, τὸν ἀγῶνα διέθηκεν ἐν ᾽Ολυμπίαι πανήγυρίν τε Ολυμπικὴν αὖθις ἐξ ἀρχῆς καὶ ἐκεχειρίαν κατεστήσατο, ἐκλιπόντα ἐπὶ χρόνον ὁπόσος δὴ οὗτος ἦν. αἰτίαν δέ, δι᾽ ἥντινα ἐξέλιπε τὰ ᾽Ολύμπια, ἐν τοῖς ἔχουσιν ἐς ᾽Ολυμπίαν τοῦ λόγου δηλώσω. (6) τῶι δὲ ᾽Ιφίτωι, φθειρομένης τότε δὴ μάλιστα τῆς ῾Ελλάδος ὑπὸ ἐμφυλίων στάσεων καὶ ὑπὸ νόσου λοιμώδους, ἐπῆλθεν αἰτῆσαι τὸν ἐν Δελφοῖς θεὸν λύσιν τῶν κακῶν· καί οἱ προσταχθῆναί φασιν ὑπὸ τῆς Πυθίας ὡς αὐτόν τε ῎Ιφιτον δέοι καὶ ᾽Ηλείους τὸν ᾽Ολυμπικὸν ἀγῶνα ἀνανεώσασθαι. ἔπεισε δὲ ᾽Ηλείους ῎Ιφιτος καὶ ῾Ηρακλεῖ θύειν, τὸ πρὸ τούτου πολέμιόν σφισιν ῾Ηρακλέα εἶναι νομίζοντας. τὸν δὲ ῎Ιφιτον τὸ ἐπίγραμμα τὸ ἐν ᾽Ολυμπίαι φησὶν Αἵμονος παῖδα εἶναι· ῾Ελλήνων δὲ οἱ πολλοὶ Πραξωνίδου καὶ οὐχ Αἵμονος εἶναί φασι· τὰ δὲ ᾽Ηλείων γράμματα ἀρχαῖα ἐς πατέρα ὁμώνυμον ἀνῆγε τὸν ῎Ιφιτον.

File:A competitor in the long jump, Black-figured Tyrrhenian amphora showing athletes and a combat scene, Greek, but made for the Etruscan market, 540 BC, found near Rome, Winning at the ancient Games, British Museum (7675649600).jpg
Jump Your Way to Health! Black Figure Vase, British Museum

Telesilla: Argive Woman, Warrior Poet

From Pausanias,  2.20.8-10

“Beyond the theater is the shrine of Aphrodite. In front of the foundation is a stele on which Telesilla, a poet of lyric, is depicted. Her books are tossed near her feet while she looks at the helmet she holds in her hand as she is about to put it on her head. Telesilla was famous among women and especially honored for her poetry.

But a greater story about her comes from when the Argives were bested by Kleomenes the son of Alexandrides and the Lakedaimonians. Some Argives died during the battle itself and however many fled to the grove of Ares died there too—at first they left the grove under an armistice but they realized they were deceived and were burned with the rest in the grove. As a result, Kleomenes led the Spartans to an Argos bereft of men.

But Telesilla stationed on the wall of the city all the slaves who were unable to bear arms because of youth or old age and, after collecting however many weapons had been left in homes or in the shrines, she armed all the women at the strongest age and once she had armed herself they took up posts were the army was going to attack.

When the Spartans came near and the women were not awestruck by their battle-cry but waited and were fighting bravely, then the Spartans, because they reasoned that if they killed the women the victory would be ill-rumored even as their own defeat would come with great insult, yielded to the women.

The Pythian priestess had predicted this contest earlier in the prophecy relayed by Herodotus who may or may not have understood it (6.77):

But when the female conquers the male
And drives him away and wins glory for the Argives,
It will make many Argive women tear their cheeks.

These are the words of the oracle on the women’s accomplishment.”

ὑπὲρ δὲ τὸ θέατρον ᾿Αφροδίτης ἐστὶν ἱερόν, ἔμπροσθεν δὲ τοῦ ἕδους Τελέσιλλα ἡ ποιήσασα τὰ ᾄσματα ἐπείργασται στήλῃ· καὶ βιβλία μὲν ἐκεῖνα ἔρριπταί οἱ πρὸς τοῖς ποσίν, αὐτὴ δὲ ἐς κράνος ὁρᾷ κατέχουσα τῇ χειρὶ καὶ ἐπιτίθεσθαι τῇ κεφαλῇ μέλλουσα. ἦν δὲ ἡ Τελέσιλλα καὶ ἄλλως ἐν ταῖς γυναιξὶν εὐδόκιμος καὶ μᾶλλον ἐτιμᾶτο ἔτι ἐπὶ τῇ ποιήσει. συμβάντος δὲ ᾿Αργείοις ἀτυχῆσαι λόγου μειζόνως πρὸς Κλεομένην τὸν ᾿Αναξανδρίδου καὶ Λακεδαιμονίους, καὶ τῶν μὲν ἐν αὐτῇ πεπτωκότων τῇ μάχῃ, ὅσοι δὲ ἐς τὸ ἄλσος τοῦ ῎Αργου κατέφευγον διαφθαρέντων καὶ τούτων, τὰ μὲν πρῶτα ἐξιόντων κατὰ ὁμολογίαν, ὡς δὲ ἔγνωσαν ἀπατώμενοι συγκατακαυθέντων τῷ ἄλσει τῶν λοιπῶν, οὕτω τοὺς Λακεδαιμονίους Κλεομένης ἦγεν ἐπὶ ἔρημον ἀνδρῶν τὸ ῎Αργος. Τελέσιλλα δὲ οἰκέτας μὲν καὶ ὅσοι διὰ νεότητα ἢ γῆρας ὅπλα ἀδύνατοι φέρειν ἦσαν, τούτους μὲν πάντας ἀνεβίβασεν ἐπὶ τὸ τεῖχος, αὐτὴ δὲ ὁπόσα ἐν ταῖς οἰκίαις ὑπελείπετο καὶ τὰ ἐκ τῶν ἱερῶν ὅπλα ἀθροίσασα τὰς ἀκμαζούσας ἡλικίᾳ τῶν γυναικῶν ὥπλιζεν, ὁπλίσασα δὲ ἔτασσε κατὰ τοῦτο ᾗ τοὺς πολεμίους προσιόντας ἠπίστατο. ὡς δὲ <ἐγγὺς> ἐγίνοντο οἱ Λακεδαιμόνιοι καὶ αἱ γυναῖκες οὔτε τῷ ἀλαλαγμῷ  κατεπλάγησαν δεξάμεναί τε ἐμάχοντο ἐρρωμένως, ἐνταῦθα οἱ Λακεδαιμόνιοι, φρονήσαντες ὡς καὶ διαφθείρασί σφισι τὰς γυναῖκας ἐπιφθόνως τὸ κατόρθωμα ἕξει καὶ σφαλεῖσι μετὰ ὀνειδῶν γενήσοιτο ἡ συμφορά, ὑπείκουσι ταῖς γυναιξί. πρότερον δὲ ἔτι τὸν ἀγῶνα τοῦτον προεσήμηνεν ἡ Πυθία, καὶ τὸ λόγιον εἴτε ἄλλως εἴτε καὶ ὡς συνεὶς ἐδήλωσεν ῾Ηρόδοτος·

ἀλλ’ ὅταν ἡ θήλεια τὸν ἄρρενα νικήσασα
ἐξελάσῃ καὶ κῦδος ἐν ᾿Αργείοισιν ἄρηται,
πολλὰς ᾿Αργείων ἀμφιδρυφέας τότε θήσει.

τὰ μὲν ἐς τὸ ἔργον τῶν γυναικῶν ἔχοντα τοῦ χρησμοῦ ταῦτα ἦν·


Plutarch, On the Virtues of Women 245d-f6 reports a version of this tale; the Suda (s.v. Telesilla) likely takes its account from Pausanias.

“Telesilla, a poetess. On a stele her books are tossed around and she has placed a helmet on her head. And When the Lakedaimonians slaughtered the Argives who had fled to a shrine and were heading to the city to sack it, then Telesilla armed the women of the right age and set them against where they were marching. When the Lakedaimonians saw this, they turned back because they believed it shameful to fight against women whom it would be inglorious to conquer but a great reproached to be defeated by….” [the oracle is listed next”

Τελέσιλλα, ποιήτρια. ἐπὶ στήλης τὰ μὲν βιβλία ἀπέρριπτε, κράνος δὲ τῇ κεφαλῇ περιέθηκε. καὶ γὰρ ὅτε Λακεδαιμόνιοι τοὺς ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ τοῦ ῎Αργους καταφυγόντας διέφθειρον καὶ πρὸς τὴν πόλιν ᾔεσαν ὡς αἱρήσοντες, τότε Τελέσιλλα τὰς ἐν ἡλικίᾳ γυναῖκας ὁπλίσασα ὑπήντησεν οἷ προσῄεσαν. ὅπερ ἰδόντες οἱ Λακεδαιμόνιοι ἐς τοὐπίσω ὑπέστρεψαν, αἰσχρὸν νομίσαντες γυναιξὶ πολεμεῖν, ἃς καὶ τὸ νικᾶν ἄδοξον καὶ ἡττᾶσθαι μέγα ὄνειδος. ἐς τοῦτο καὶ ὁ χρησμὸς πεπλήρωτο, ᾿Αργείοις λέγων· ἀλλ’ ὅταν ἡ θήλεια τὸν ἄρρενα νικήσασα ἐξελάσῃ καὶ κῦδος ᾿Αργείοισιν ἄρηται, πολλὰς ᾿Αργείων ἀμφιδρυφέας τότε θήσει.

The extant fragments of Telesilla are not much to work with (each line is a separate fragment:

ἁ δ’ ῎Αρτεμις, ὦ κόραι,

φεύγοισα τὸν ᾿Αλφεόν







Tacitus on Germanic Standards for Women and Child-Rearing

Some of the rhetoric here seems a bit familiar…

Tacitus, Germania 19-20

In that country, no one finds vice amusing; nor is seducing or being seduced celebrated as a sign of the times. Even better are those communities where only virgins marry and a promise is made with the hope and vow of a wife. And so, they have only one husband just as each has one body and one life so that there may be no additional thought of it, no lingering desire, that they may not love the man so much as they love the marriage. It is considered a sin to limit the number of children or to eliminate the later born. There good customs are stronger than good laws.

There are children there naked and dirty in every house growing into the size of limbs and body at which we wonder. Each mother nourishes each child with her own breasts; they are not passed around to maids and nurses.”

nemo enim illic vitia ridet, nec corrumpere et corrumpi saeculum vocatur. melius quidem adhuc eae civitates, in quibus tantum virgines nubunt et cum spe votoque uxoris semel transigitur. sic unum accipiunt maritum quo modo unum corpus unamque vitam, ne ulla cogitatio ultra, ne longior cupiditas, ne tamquam maritum, sed tamquam matrimonium ament. numerum liberorum finire aut quemquam ex agnatis necare flagitium habetur, plusque ibi boni mores valent quam alibi bonae leges.In omni domo nudi ac sordidi in hos artus, in haec corpora, quae miramur, excrescunt. sua quemque mater uberibus alit, nec ancillis aut nutricibus delegantur.

Image result for medieval manuscript Tacitus germania