Escape Politics and Have Lunch on Your Own Time

Plutarch, On Exile 604d

“There’s that quote of Diogenes when he said, “Aristotle has lunch on Philip’s schedule, but Diogenes does when he wants to,” since there’s no political affair or officer, or leader to trouble the daily habits of his life.

For this reason, you will discover that few of the wisest and most thoughtful people have been buried in their own countries–and that most of them did this by choice, raising an anchor on their own and finding a new safe harbor for their lives, either leaving Athens or retreating there.”

τὸ τοῦ Διογένους “Ἀριστοτέλης ἀριστᾷ ὅταν δοκῇ Φιλίππῳ, Διογένης, ὅταν Διογένει,” μήτε πραγματείας, μήτε ἄρχοντος, μήτε ἡγεμόνος τὴν συνήθη δίαιταν περισπῶντος.

Διὰ τοῦτο τῶν φρονιμωτάτων καὶ σοφωτάτων ὀλίγους ἂν εὕροις ἐν ταῖς ἑαυτῶν πατρίσι κεκηδευμένους, οἱ δὲ πλεῖστοι, μηδενὸς ἀναγκάζοντος, αὐτοὶ τὸ ἀγκύριον5 ἀράμενοι, μεθωρμίσαντο τοὺς βίους καὶ μετέστησαν οἱ μὲν εἰς Ἀθήνας, οἱ δὲ ἐξ Ἀθηνῶν.

Bonaventura Peeters the Elder, “Dutch Ferry Boats in a Fresh Breeze”

Exile and Fortune’s End

Euripides, Heracleidae 1-6

“This has been my belief for a long time now:
One man is born and is just to those near him
While another’s heart lusts after profit
And he is useless to the city, a heavy burden to bear,
The ‘best’ to himself…”

Πάλαι ποτ᾿ ἐστὶ τοῦτ᾿ ἐμοὶ δεδογμένον·
ὁ μὲν δίκαιος τοῖς πέλας πέφυκ᾿ ἀνήρ,
ὁ δ᾿ ἐς τὸ κέρδος λῆμ᾿ ἔχων ἀνειμένον
πόλει τ᾿ ἄχρηστος· καὶ συναλλάσσειν βαρύς,
αὑτῷ δ᾿ ἄριστος·…

Euripides, Heracleidae26-27

“I share my exile with these children who are in exile,
And I share in their sufferings as they suffer too.”

ἐγὼ δὲ σὺν φεύγουσι συμφεύγω τέκνοις
καὶ σὺν κακῶς πράσσουσι συμπράσσω κακῶς,

Euripides, Heracleidae 427-430

“Children, we are like sailors who have fled
A savage storm’s blows to touch the land
With their hand only to be pounded back
From the shore to the sea by the winds again.”

ὦ τέκν᾿, ἔοιγμεν ναυτίλοισιν οἵτινες
χειμῶνος ἐκφυγόντες ἄγριον μένος
ἐς χεῖρα γῇ συνῆψαν, εἶτα χερσόθεν
πνοαῖσιν ἠλάθησαν ἐς πόντον πάλιν.

Euripides, Heracleidae 863-866

“…with his current fortune
He announces for all mortals a clear thing to learn,
Do not envy someone who seems to be lucky
Before you see them die. For each day is its own fortune.”

…τῇ δὲ νῦν τύχῃ
βροτοῖς ἅπασι λαμπρὰ κηρύσσει μαθεῖν,
τὸν εὐτυχεῖν δοκοῦντα μὴ ζηλοῦν πρὶν ἂν
θανόντ᾿ ἴδῃ τις· ὡς ἐφήμεροι τύχαι.

Felix-Joseph Barrias, “Les Exilés de Tibère”. Musée d’Orsay

The Furious Memory Of The Evils You’ve Done

Cicero, Paradoxa Stoicorum 17-18

“Terrify this person, if you find anyone like this, with threats of death or exile. Whatever happens to me in so ungrateful a state will happen without any protest from me, not just without fighting back. For what have I accomplished or what I done or to what end have my anxieties and thoughts kept me awake all night if I have actually pursued nothing at all which puts me in a place that cannot be weakened by lapses in fortune or harm from my enemies?

Do you threaten death so I will leave the presence of people or exile so I must depart from wicked men? Death is frightening for people who lose everything along with life but not for those whose glory cannot perish. Exile is frightening to those whose homes are prescribed by a border line, not for those who believe that the whole world is just one city.

No, every bit of sorrow and misfortune oppresses you because you think you are happy and wealthy. Your desires torture you; you are in pain day and night because what you have is not enough and you worry that even this bit will not last. Your memory of wicked deeds works away at you; fear of judges and laws make your heart race. Wherever you look, the harms you have inflicted on others assail you like Furies who will not even let you breathe.”

tum tu hominem terreto, si quem eris nactus, istis mortis aut exilii minis; mihi vero quidquid acciderit in tam ingrata civitate ne recusanti quidem evenerit, non modo non repugnanti, Quid enim ego laboravi aut quid egi aut in quo evigilaverunt curae et cogitationes meae, si quidem nihil peperi tale nihil consecutus sum ut in eo statu essem quem neque fortunae temeritas neque inimicorum labefactaret iniuria? Mortemne mihi minitaris ut omnino ab hominibus, an exilium ut ab improbis demigrandum sit? Mors terribilis est eis quorum cum vita omnia exstinguuntur, non eis quorum laus emori non potest, exilium autem illis quibus quasi circumscriptus est habitandi locus, non eis qui omnem orbem terrarum unam urbem esse ducunt. Te miseriae te aerumnae premunt omnes, qui te beatum qui florentem putas; tuae libidines te torquent, tu dies noctesque cruciaris, cui nec sat est quod est et id ipsum ne non sit diuturnum times; te conscientiae stimulant maleficiorum tuorum, te metus exanimant iudiciorum atque legum; quocumque aspexisti, ut furiae sic tuae tibi occurrunt iniuriae quae te respirare non sinunt.

Lutróforo con escena del rapto de Perséfone por Hades. Pintor de Baltimore - M.A.N. 03.jpg
Red Figure Vase

What Use is a Good Reputation?

Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 141

“He is terrible to look at and terrible to hear”

δεινὸς μὲν ὁρᾶν, δεινὸς δὲ κλύειν

Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 258-259

“What use is a good reputation? What good is
Fame flowing off to no end?”

τί δῆτα δόξης, ἢ τί κληδόνος καλῆς
μάτην ῥεούσης ὠφέλημα γίγνεται

Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 852-855

“I know it and you will recognize it in time
That are are neither act rightly now
Nor did you before, because in your love of your strength
You gave first place to your anger, the very thing that always ruins you.”

χρόνῳ γάρ, οἶδ᾿ ἐγώ, γνώσῃ τάδε,
ὁθούνεκ᾿ αὐτὸς αὐτὸν οὔτε νῦν καλὰ
δρᾷς οὔτε πρόσθεν εἰργάσω, βίᾳ φίλων
ὀργῇ χάριν δούς, ἥ σ᾿ ἀεὶ λυμαίνεται.

Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 954-55

“Old age has nothing of rage except for dying
And no pain touches the dead.”

θυμοῦ γὰρ οὐδὲν γῆράς ἐστιν ἄλλο πλὴν
θανεῖν· θανόντων δ᾿ οὐδὲν ἄλγος ἅπτεται.

Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 1335-1339

“We are beggars and strangers, but you are a stranger.
You and I both live thanks to the good will of others
Since we have met the same fate.
A tyrant is in our home—it is terrible—
And he laughs as he mocks us in common.”

πτωχοὶ μὲν ἡμεῖς καὶ ξένοι, ξένος δὲ σύ·
ἄλλους δὲ θωπεύοντες οἰκοῦμεν σύ τε
κἀγώ, τὸν αὐτὸν δαίμον᾿ ἐξειληχότες.
ὁ δ᾿ ἐν δόμοις τύραννος, ὢ τάλας ἐγώ,
κοινῇ καθ᾿ ἡμῶν ἐγγελῶν ἁβρύνεται·

Oedipus at Colonus, Jean-Antoine-Théodore Giroust, 1788, Dallas Museum of Art

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, “Bad Reputation”

I don’t give a damn ’bout my reputation
You’re living in the past, it’s a new generation
A girl can do what she wants to do and that’s what I’m gonna do

Wounds Healed Just in Time

Ovid, Ex Ponto 1.3 83-94

“While I should tell all the tales, in no age
Has anyone been sent to a more horrible place so far from their home.
For this reason, let your wisdom overlook someone in sorrow
Who does not do so much of what you ask in your words.

I still confess that if my wounds could heal
Then they could heal only with your orders.
But I fear that you pointlessly labor to help me
And that your aid will not heal my sick ruin.

I do not claim these things because I have special wisdom,
But I am more familiar with myself than a doctor.
Despite all this, your willing kindness has come to me
Just when I needed something good.”

persequar ut cunctos, nulli datus omnibus aevis
tam procul a patria est horridiorve locus.
quo magis ignoscat sapientia vestra dolenti
qui facit ex dictis, non ita multa, tuis.
nec tamen infitior, si possint nostra coire
vulnera, praeceptis posse coire tuis.
sed vereor ne me frustra servare labores
nec iuver admota perditus aeger ope.
nec loquor haec, quia sit maior prudentia nobis,
sed sum quam medico notior ipse mihi.
ut tamen hoc ita sit, munus tua grande voluntas
ad me pervenit consuliturque boni.

More from Hieronymus Bosch

What Use is a Good Reputation?

Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 141

“He is terrible to look at and terrible to hear”

δεινὸς μὲν ὁρᾶν, δεινὸς δὲ κλύειν

258-259

“What use is a good reputation? What good is
Fame flowing off to no end?”

τί δῆτα δόξης, ἢ τί κληδόνος καλῆς
μάτην ῥεούσης ὠφέλημα γίγνεται

852-855

“I know it and you will recognize it in time
That are are neither actly rightly now
Nor did you before, because in your love of your strength
You gave first place to your anger, the very thing that always ruins you.”

χρόνῳ γάρ, οἶδ᾿ ἐγώ, γνώσῃ τάδε,
ὁθούνεκ᾿ αὐτὸς αὐτὸν οὔτε νῦν καλὰ
δρᾷς οὔτε πρόσθεν εἰργάσω, βίᾳ φίλων
ὀργῇ χάριν δούς, ἥ σ᾿ ἀεὶ λυμαίνεται.

954-55

“Old age has nothing of rage except for dying
And no pain touches the dead.”

θυμοῦ γὰρ οὐδὲν γῆράς ἐστιν ἄλλο πλὴν
θανεῖν· θανόντων δ᾿ οὐδὲν ἄλγος ἅπτεται.

 1335-1339

“We are beggars and strangers, but you are a stranger.
You and I both live thanks to the good will of others
Since we have met the same fate.
A tyrant is in our home—it is terrible—
And he laughs as he mocks us in common.”

πτωχοὶ μὲν ἡμεῖς καὶ ξένοι, ξένος δὲ σύ·
ἄλλους δὲ θωπεύοντες οἰκοῦμεν σύ τε
κἀγώ, τὸν αὐτὸν δαίμον᾿ ἐξειληχότες.
ὁ δ᾿ ἐν δόμοις τύραννος, ὢ τάλας ἐγώ,
κοινῇ καθ᾿ ἡμῶν ἐγγελῶν ἁβρύνεται·

By Fulchran-Jean Harriet, “Oedipus at Colonus” 1798. Now in the Cleveland Museum of Art

counterpoint

The Furious Memory Of The Evils You’ve Done

Cicero, Paradoxa Stoicorum 17-18

“Terrify this person, if you find anyone like this, with threats of death or exile. Whatever happens to me in so ungrateful a state will happen without any protest from me, not just without fighting back. For what have I accomplished or what I done or to what end have my anxieties and thoughts kept me awake all night if I have actually pursued nothing at all which puts me in a place that cannot be weakened by lapses in fortune or harm from my enemies?

Do you threaten death so I will leave the presence of people or exile so I must depart from wicked men? Death is frightening for people who lose everything along with life but not for those whose glory cannot perish. Exile is frightening to those whose homes are prescribed by a border line, not for those who believe that the whole world is just one city.

No, every bit of sorrow and misfortune oppresses you because you think you are happy and wealthy. Your desires torture you; you are in pain day and night because what you have is not enough and you worry that even this bit will not last. Your memory of wicked deeds works away at you; fear of judges and laws make your heart race. Wherever you look, the harms you have inflicted on others assail you like Furies who will not even let you breathe.”

tum tu hominem terreto, si quem eris nactus, istis mortis aut exilii minis; mihi vero quidquid acciderit in tam ingrata civitate ne recusanti quidem evenerit, non modo non repugnanti, Quid enim ego laboravi aut quid egi aut in quo evigilaverunt curae et cogitationes meae, si quidem nihil peperi tale nihil consecutus sum ut in eo statu essem quem neque fortunae temeritas neque inimicorum labefactaret iniuria? Mortemne mihi minitaris ut omnino ab hominibus, an exilium ut ab improbis demigrandum sit? Mors terribilis est eis quorum cum vita omnia exstinguuntur, non eis quorum laus emori non potest, exilium autem illis quibus quasi circumscriptus est habitandi locus, non eis qui omnem orbem terrarum unam urbem esse ducunt. Te miseriae te aerumnae premunt omnes, qui te beatum qui florentem putas; tuae libidines te torquent, tu dies noctesque cruciaris, cui nec sat est quod est et id ipsum ne non sit diuturnum times; te conscientiae stimulant maleficiorum tuorum, te metus exanimant iudiciorum atque legum; quocumque aspexisti, ut furiae sic tuae tibi occurrunt iniuriae quae te respirare non sinunt.

Lutróforo con escena del rapto de Perséfone por Hades. Pintor de Baltimore - M.A.N. 03.jpg
Red Figure Vase

Wounds Healed Just in Time

Ovid, Ex Ponto 1.3 83-94

“While I should tell all the tales, in no age
Has anyone been sent to a more horrible place so far from their home.
For this reason, let your wisdom overlook someone in sorrow
Who does not do so much of what you ask in your words.

I still confess that if my wounds could heal
Then they could heal only with your orders.
But I fear that you pointlessly labor to help me
And that your aid will not heal my sick ruin.

I do not claim these things because I have special wisdom,
But I am more familiar with myself than a doctor.
Despite all this, your willing kindness has come to me
Just when I needed something good.”

persequar ut cunctos, nulli datus omnibus aevis
tam procul a patria est horridiorve locus.
quo magis ignoscat sapientia vestra dolenti
qui facit ex dictis, non ita multa, tuis.
nec tamen infitior, si possint nostra coire
vulnera, praeceptis posse coire tuis.
sed vereor ne me frustra servare labores
nec iuver admota perditus aeger ope.
nec loquor haec, quia sit maior prudentia nobis,
sed sum quam medico notior ipse mihi.
ut tamen hoc ita sit, munus tua grande voluntas
ad me pervenit consuliturque boni.

More from Hieronymus Bosch

Plague Refugees: Kadmos, Danaus and Moses

This passage is interesting for the motif that famous founders of Greece were from Egypt (present in mythographical texts like Apollodorus’ LibraryIt also integrates Jewish origins into the same narrative.

Photios, Bibliotheca, 3801-381b [=Diodorus Siculus Histories 40.3]

“Since we are about to go over the Jewish War, I think this is a good time to go through the origins of the people from the beginning along with their customs.

When a deadly plague happened in ancient Egypt, many laid blame on the divine for their suffering. For there were many foreigners from every place living there, practicing diverse customs concerning religion and sacrifices, and the traditional religious rites were being destroyed. For these reasons, the indigenous people supposed that if they did not get rid of the foreign peoples then there would be no end to their suffering.

The different ethnic groups were expelled immediately. Some who were the most famous and eager for action gathered to leave together, as some claim, to Greece and other places, since they had leaders worthy of repute, among whom the most famous were Kadmos and Danaos. A great number of people fled to the land now called Judea, which is not far from Egypt and was completely deserted at the time. The leader of those refugees was named Moses, distinct from all by his intelligence and bravery.”

ἡμεῖς δὲ μέλλοντες ἀναγράφειν τὸν πρὸς ᾽Ιουδαίους πόλεμον, οἰκεῖον εἶναι διαλαμβάνομεν προδιελθεῖν ἐν κεφαλαίοις τήν τε τοῦ ἔθνους τούτου ἐξ ἀρχῆς κτίσιν καὶ τὰ παρ᾽ αὐτοῖς νόμιμα.  κατὰ τὴν Αἴγυπτον τὸ παλαιὸν λοιμικῆς περιστάσεως γενομένης, ἀνέπεμπον οἱ πολλοὶ τὴν αἰτίαν τῶν κακῶν ἐπὶ τὸ δαιμόνιον· πολλῶν γὰρ καὶ παντοδαπῶν κατοικούντων ξένων καὶ διηλλαγμένοις ἔθεσι χρωμένων περὶ τὸ ἱερὸν καὶ τὰς θυσίας, καταλελύσθαι συνέβαινε παρ᾽ αὐτοῖς τὰς πατρίους τῶν θεῶν τιμάς· ὅπερ οἱ τῆς χώρας ἐγγενεῖς ὑπέλαβον, ἐὰν μὴ τοὺς ἀλλοφύλους μεταστήσωνται, κρίσιν οὐκ ἔσεσθαι τῶν κακῶν.

εὐθὺς οὖν ξενηλατουμένων τῶν ἀλλοεθνῶν, οἱ μὲν ἐπιφανέστατοι καὶ δραστικώτατοι συστραφέντες ἐξερρίφησαν, ὥς τινές φασιν εἰς τὴν ῾Ελλάδα καί τινας ἑτέρους τόπους, ἔχοντες ἀξιολόγους ἡγεμόνας(?), ὧν ἡγοῦντο Δαναὸς καὶ Κάδμος τῶν ἄλλων ἐπιφανέστατοι· ὁ δὲ πολὺς λεὼς ἐξέπεσεν εἰς τὴν νῦν καλουμένην ᾽Ιουδαίαν, οὐ πόρρω μὲν κειμένην τῆς ᾽Αἰγύπτου, παντελῶς δὲ ἔρημον οὖσαν κατ᾽ ἐκείνους τοὺς χρόνους. ἡγεῖτο δὲ τῆς ἀποικίας ὁ προσαγορευόμενος Μωσῆς, φρονήσει τε καὶ ἀνδρείαι πολὺ διαφέρων.

Print, Cadmus Building Thebes, MET

The Furious Memory Of The Evils You’ve Done

Cicero, Paradoxa Stoicorum 17-18

“Terrify this person, if you find anyone like this, with threats of death or exile. Whatever happens to me in so ungrateful a state will happen without any protest from me, not just without fighting back. For what have I accomplished or what I done or to what end have my anxieties and thoughts kept me awake all night if I have actually pursued nothing at all which puts me in a place that cannot be weakened by lapses in fortune or harm from my enemies?

Do you threaten death so I will leave the presence of people or exile so I must depart from wicked men? Death is frightening for people who lose everything along with life but not for those whose glory cannot perish. Exile is frightening to those whose homes are prescribed by a border line, not for those who believe that the whole world is just one city.

No, every bit of sorrow and misfortune oppresses you because you think you are happy and wealthy. Your desires torture you; you are in pain day and night because what you have is not enough and you worry that even this bit will not last. Your memory of wicked deeds works away at you; fear of judges and laws make your heart race. Wherever you look, the harms you have inflicted on others assail you like Furies who will not even let you breathe.”

tum tu hominem terreto, si quem eris nactus, istis mortis aut exilii minis; mihi vero quidquid acciderit in tam ingrata civitate ne recusanti quidem evenerit, non modo non repugnanti, Quid enim ego laboravi aut quid egi aut in quo evigilaverunt curae et cogitationes meae, si quidem nihil peperi tale nihil consecutus sum ut in eo statu essem quem neque fortunae temeritas neque inimicorum labefactaret iniuria? Mortemne mihi minitaris ut omnino ab hominibus, an exilium ut ab improbis demigrandum sit? Mors terribilis est eis quorum cum vita omnia exstinguuntur, non eis quorum laus emori non potest, exilium autem illis quibus quasi circumscriptus est habitandi locus, non eis qui omnem orbem terrarum unam urbem esse ducunt. Te miseriae te aerumnae premunt omnes, qui te beatum qui florentem putas; tuae libidines te torquent, tu dies noctesque cruciaris, cui nec sat est quod est et id ipsum ne non sit diuturnum times; te conscientiae stimulant maleficiorum tuorum, te metus exanimant iudiciorum atque legum; quocumque aspexisti, ut furiae sic tuae tibi occurrunt iniuriae quae te respirare non sinunt.

Lutróforo con escena del rapto de Perséfone por Hades. Pintor de Baltimore - M.A.N. 03.jpg
Red Figure Vase