It Is Their Fault They Suffer: Libanius with Some Malicious Stupidity

At the news that thousands of children are still separated (and being separated) from their families at the border, some Americans lay the blame on their parents, claiming that if they all just stayed home, we wouldn’t have to put them in concentration camps. This is a rather ancient rhetorical strategy.

Libanius, Oration 23.1-2

“We are all hearing the reports that everywhere is filled with corpses—the fields, the roads, the hills, crests, caves, peaks, groves, and trenches—and that some of the corpses are feasts for birds and beasts while the rivers carry others to the sea.

I am sometimes surprised by this news but at other times I blame those who suffer it and I say that they have suffered what is right, that they have earned this for going into exile. You might even say that they invited upon themselves the swords of their murderers.

They would not have suffered these things if they stayed at home. They have met these events because they are wandering and are offering themselves as a feast to these men who have been criminals for a long time. Think of it like this: they have made others into bandits by making the inducement greater! Who could pity people who ruin themselves willingly?”

Τὰ μὲν ἀγγελλόμενα πάντες ἀκούομεν, ἅπαντα εἶναι μεστὰ νεκρῶν, τάς τε ἀρούρας τάς τε ὁδοὺς τά τε ὄρη τούς τε λόφους τά τε σπήλαια καὶ τὰς κορυφὰς τῶν ὀρῶν καὶ τὰ ἄλση καὶ τὰς φάραγγας, τῶν τε νεκρῶν τοὺς μὲν ἑστιᾶν ὄρνιθας καὶ θηρία, τοὺς δὲ ὑπὸ τοῦ ποταμοῦ πρὸς θάλατταν φέρεσθαι.

πρὸς τοίνυν τὰς ἀγγελίας ποτὲ μὲν πλήττομαι, ποτὲ δὲ τοῖς παθοῦσιν ἐγκαλῶ καί φημι δίκαια πεπονθέναι τοὺς τῆς φυγῆς ταῦτα ἀπολαύσαντας. οὓς φαίη τις ἂν αὐτοὺς ἐπισπάσασθαι τὰ τῶν κακούργων ξίφη. ἃ γὰρ οὐκ ἂν ἐπεπόνθεσαν οἴκοι μένοντες, τούτοις περιέπεσον πλανώμενοι θοίνην μὲν αὑτοὺς προθέντες τοῖς πάλαι λῃστεύουσι, ποιήσαντες | δὲ λῃστὰς ἑτέρους τῷ ποιῆσαι πολὺ τὸ πεισόμενον. ἑκόντας οὖν ἀπολωλότας τίς ἂν ἐλεήσειε;

Related image
York Psalter, c. 1170 CE: Adam and Eve Expelled from Eden

It Is Their Fault They Suffer: Libanius with Some Malicious Stupidity

At the news that thousands of children are still separated (and being separated) from their families at the border, some Americans lay the blame on their parents, claiming that if they all just stayed home, we wouldn’t have to put them in concentration camps. This is a rather ancient rhetorical strategy.

Libanius, Oration 23.1-2

“We are all hearing the reports that everywhere is filled with corpses—the fields, the roads, the hills, crests, caves, peaks, groves, and trenches—and that some of the corpses are feasts for birds and beasts while the rivers carry others to the sea.

I am sometimes surprised by this news but at other times I blame those who suffer it and I say that they have suffered what is right, that they have earned this for going into exile. You might even say that they invited upon themselves the swords of their murderers.

They would not have suffered these things if they stayed at home. They have met these events because they are wandering and are offering themselves as a feast to these men who have been criminals for a long time. Think of it like this: they have made others into bandits by making the inducement greater! Who could pity people who ruin themselves willingly?”

Τὰ μὲν ἀγγελλόμενα πάντες ἀκούομεν, ἅπαντα εἶναι μεστὰ νεκρῶν, τάς τε ἀρούρας τάς τε ὁδοὺς τά τε ὄρη τούς τε λόφους τά τε σπήλαια καὶ τὰς κορυφὰς τῶν ὀρῶν καὶ τὰ ἄλση καὶ τὰς φάραγγας, τῶν τε νεκρῶν τοὺς μὲν ἑστιᾶν ὄρνιθας καὶ θηρία, τοὺς δὲ ὑπὸ τοῦ ποταμοῦ πρὸς θάλατταν φέρεσθαι.

πρὸς τοίνυν τὰς ἀγγελίας ποτὲ μὲν πλήττομαι, ποτὲ δὲ τοῖς παθοῦσιν ἐγκαλῶ καί φημι δίκαια πεπονθέναι τοὺς τῆς φυγῆς ταῦτα ἀπολαύσαντας. οὓς φαίη τις ἂν αὐτοὺς ἐπισπάσασθαι τὰ τῶν κακούργων ξίφη. ἃ γὰρ οὐκ ἂν ἐπεπόνθεσαν οἴκοι μένοντες, τούτοις περιέπεσον πλανώμενοι θοίνην μὲν αὑτοὺς προθέντες τοῖς πάλαι λῃστεύουσι, ποιήσαντες | δὲ λῃστὰς ἑτέρους τῷ ποιῆσαι πολὺ τὸ πεισόμενον. ἑκόντας οὖν ἀπολωλότας τίς ἂν ἐλεήσειε;

Related image
York Psalter, c. 1170 CE: Adam and Eve Expelled from Eden

Phaedo, Diogenes and Epictetus Were Slaves, Then Philosophers

Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights 2.18

“On the fact that the Socratic Phaedo was a slave and that others also served as the same

Phaedo of Elis, a member of Socrates’s and Plato’s circle and very close to both of them, was a slave. (Plato used his name for that divine dialogue concerning the immortality of the soul.) This Phaedo, though a slave, was by birth free and noble and, as some have written, was forced as a boy into prostitution. Cebes, also of the Socratic circle, is reported to have purchased him at Socrates’ urging and to have exposed him to philosophical training. Later he became a famous philosopher and his fine writings on Socrates are still read.

There are many other slaves who later became famous philosophers including that Menippus whose books Marcus Varro imitated with the satires some call “Cynic” but he called “Menippean”. In addition to these two men, Pompylus, the slave of the Peripatetic Theophrastus, and Zeno the Stoic’s slave who was named Persaeus, and Epicurus’ slave, Mys, all lived as famous philosophers.

Diogenes the Cynic also lived as a slave—but he was sold into servitude from freedom. When Xeniades of Corinth wanted to purchase him and inquired what his skills were, Diogenes answered, “I know how to rule free men.” Then Xeniades, because he admired the answer, purchased him and entrusted him with his children, saying “Take my children to rule”.

The fact that Epictetus, the noble philosopher, was also a slave is too recent a memory to record as if it had been forgotten.”

Image result for epictetus

XVIII. Quod Phaedon Socraticus servus fuit; quodque item alii complusculi servitutem servierunt. 1 Phaedon Elidensis ex cohorte illa Socratica fuit Socratique et Platoni per fuit familiaris. 2Eius nomini Plato librum illum divinum de immortalitate animae dedit. 3 Is Phaedon servus fuit forma atque ingenio liberali et, ut quidam scripserunt, a lenone domino puer ad merendum coactus. 4 Eum Cebes Socraticus hortante Socrate emisse dicitur habuisseque in philosophiae disciplinis. 5 Atque is postea philosophus inlustris fuit, sermonesque eius de Socrate admodum elegantes leguntur. 6 Alii quoque non pauci servi fuerunt, qui post philosophi clari exstiterunt. 7 Ex quibus ille Menippus fuit, cuius libros M. Varro in saturis aemulatus est, quas alii “cynicas”, ipse appellat “Menippeas”. 8 Sed et Theophrasti Peripatetici servus Pompylus et Zenonis Stoici servus, qui Persaeus vocatus est, et Epicuri, cui Mys nomen fuit, philosophi non incelebres vixerunt. 9 Diogenes etiam Cynicus servitutem servivit. Sed is ex libertate in servitutem venum ierat. Quem cum emere vellet Xeniades Korinthios, ecquid artificii novisset, percontatus “novi” inquit Diogenes “hominibus liberis imperare”. 10 Tum Xeniades responsum eius demiratus emit et manu emisit filiosque suos ei tradens: “accipe” inquit “liberos meos, quibus imperes”. De Epicteto autem philosopho nobili, quod is quoque servus fuit, recentior est memoria, quam ut scribi quasi oblitteratum debuerit.

No Man Should be An Exile — Plutarch on World Citizenship

While looking up some random phrases about the healing power of literature, I found myself reading Plutarch this morning.  His words on citizenship and exile our powerful and pertinent in our transatlantic crisis of Politics (xenophobia and racism from the right) and Wars (the refugee crises and responses in Europe and Asia). Though his words are of course influenced by his experience of the Roman Empire, there is an essential humanity to them and a belief in common good and shared existence that is too often lost in modern discourse.

But don’t take my word for it, you can always read the whole essay.

Plutarch, De Exilio 600e7-601b5

“This is the character of your current exile from your customary country. For we have no country by nature, just as we have neither home, nor field, nor blacksmith’s, nor doctor’s office, as Aristôn said. But each of these things develops or, rather, is named and called so by the man inhabiting or using it. For a human being, as Plato says, “is not earthly born and immovable but comes from heaven” just as if the head raises the body up straight from its root stretching towards the sky. So Herakles said well “Am I Argive or Theban? I do not claim / one—every citadel in Greece is my homeland”. But Socrates put it better saying “I am neither Athenian nor Greek, but a citizen of the world,” as someone might claim to be Rhodian or Korinthian, because he did not lock himself within Sounion, Tainaros, or the Keraunian mountains.

As [Euripides] puts it: “Do you see the boundless light above / and the earth opening below with damp embrace?” These are the boundaries of our countries and no man is an exile, foreigner or stranger where there is fire, water, air; where we find the same rulers, overseers, and presidents: the same sun, moon, and star at day’s break; where the same laws exist for all under one order and single government: the summer and winter solstices, the Pleiades and Arcturus, the seasons of planting and harvesting that rise and set for us all; and where there is one king and ruler, god, who knows the beginning, middle and end of everything; who travels through all, guiding it with a straight force. Justice is his attendant as an avenger for those who transgress divine law. We all by nature follow this law in treating all people as our fellow citizens.”

 

Οἷόν ἐστιν ἡ νῦν σοι παροῦσα μετάστασις ἐκ τῆς νομιζομένης πατρίδος. φύσει γὰρ οὐκ ἔστι πατρίς, ὥσπερ οὐδ’ οἶκος οὐδ’ ἀγρὸς οὐδὲ χαλκεῖον, ὡς ᾿Αρίστων (St. V.

Fr. I 371) ἔλεγεν, οὐδ’ ἰατρεῖον· ἀλλὰ γίνεται μᾶλλον δ’ ὀνομάζεται καὶ καλεῖται τούτων ἕκαστον ἀεὶ πρὸς τὸν οἰκοῦντα καὶ χρώμενον. ὁ γὰρ ἄνθρωπος, ᾗ φησιν ὁ

Πλάτων (Tim. 90a), ‘φυτὸν οὐκ ἔγγειον’ οὐδ’ ἀκίνητον  ‘ἀλλ’ οὐράνιόν’ ἐστιν, ὥσπερ ἐκ ῥίζης τὸ σῶμα τῆς κεφαλῆς ὀρθὸν ἱστάσης πρὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν ἀνεστραμμένον. ὅθεν εὖ μὲν ὁ ῾Ηρακλῆς εἶπεν (Trag. adesp. 392)

‘᾿Αργεῖος ἢ Θηβαῖος· οὐ γὰρ εὔχομαι
μιᾶς· ἅπας μοι πύργος ῾Ελλήνων πατρίς.’

ὁ δὲ Σωκράτης βέλτιον, οὐκ ᾿Αθηναῖος οὐδ’ ῞Ελλην ἀλλὰ κόσμιος εἶναι φήσας, ὡς ἄν τις ῾Ρόδιος εἶπεν ἢ Κορίν-θιος, | ὅτι μηδὲ Σουνίῳ μηδὲ Ταινάρῳ μηδὲ τοῖς Κεραυνίοις ἐνέκλεισεν ἑαυτόν.

‘ὁρᾷς τὸν ὑψοῦ τόνδ’ ἄπειρον αἰθέρα,
καὶ γῆν πέριξ ἔχονθ’ ὑγραῖς <ἐν> ἀγκάλαις;’ (Eur. fr. 941, 1. 2)

οὗτοι τῆς πατρίδος ἡμῶν ὅροι [εἰσί], καὶ οὐδεὶς οὔτε φυγὰς ἐν τούτοις οὔτε ξένος οὔτ’ ἀλλοδαπός, ὅπου τὸ αὐτὸ πῦρ ὕδωρ ἀήρ, ἄρχοντες οἱ αὐτοὶ καὶ διοικηταὶ καὶπρυτάνεις ἥλιος σελήνη φωσφόρος· οἱ αὐτοὶ νόμοι πᾶσι, ὑφ’ ἑνὸς προστάγματος καὶ μιᾶς ἡγεμονίας τροπαὶ βόρειοι τροπαὶ νότιοι ἰσημερίαι Πλειὰς ᾿Αρκτοῦρος ὧραι σπόρων ὧραι φυτειῶν· εἷς δὲ βασιλεὺς καὶ ἄρχων· ‘θεὸς ἀρχήν τε καὶ μέσα καὶ τελευτὴν ἔχων τοῦ παντὸς εὐθείᾳ περαίνει κατὰ φύσιν περιπορευόμενος· τῷ δ’ ἕπεται Δίκη τῶν ἀπολειπομένων τοῦ θείου νόμου τιμωρός’ (Plat. Legg. 716a),ᾗ χρώμεθα πάντες ἄνθρωποι φύσει πρὸς πάντας ἀνθρώπους ὥσπερ πολίτας.

 

Aeneas
Aeneas was a refugee..

But Plutarch’s sentiments may be alive and well in Canada…