Writing about the Cause of Madness

Pseudo-Hippocrates. Epist. 17 9.352, 354, 356 

“When I [Hippocrates] was near [Democritus], he happened to be writing something eagerly and forcefully when I arrived. So I said. “First, tell me what you are writing about.” And, after he paused for a bit, said “madness.”

So I said, “But what are you writing about madness?” He responded, “What would I write except what it may be, how it afflicts human beings, and in what way it may be treated. This is why,” he continued, “I cut up all these animals you are looking at. It is not because I hate god’s works, but because I am researching the nature and the function of the bile.

For you know that the bile is the cause of madness in humans most of the time, since it appears naturally in most people, even though some have less of it and others have more. Illnesses emerge from an unbalanced amount, implying that the material is sometimes helpful and sometimes harmful.”

I added, “By Zeus, Democritus, you are speaking truthfully and prudently and this is why I think you are blessed for having achieving such a sense of peace. This has certainly not been allotted to me.”

Then he asked, “Why, Hippocrates, has it not?” I responded, “Because fields, my home, children, debts, illnesses, deaths, servants, marriages and all these kinds of things cut off any chance for it.”

At this, that man fell into his customary behavior—he laughed deeply and mocked me and then was silent for the rest of the time.”

ἐπεὶ δὲ ἐπλησίαζον, ἔτυχεν ὅτε ἐπῆλθον αὐτέῳ, τι1 δή ποτε γράφων ἐνθουσιωδῶς καὶ μεθ’ ὁρμῆς. [. . .]

[ΙΠ.] “καὶ πρῶτόν γε τί τοῦτο τυγχάνεις γράφων φράζε.” [. . .]

ὁ δ᾽ ἐπισχὼν ὀλίγον, “περὶ μανίης,” ἔφη. [. . .]

[ΙΠ.] “ἀλλὰ τί περὶ μανίης γράφεις;”

“τί γάρ,” εἶπεν, “ἄλλο, πλὴν ἥτις τε εἴη, καὶ ὅκως ἀνθρώποισιν ἐγγίνεται, καὶ τίνα τρόπον ἀπολωφέοιτο· τά τε γὰρ ζῷα ταῦτα ὁκόσα, ἔφη, ὁρῇς, τουτέου μέντοι γε ἀνατέμνω εἵνεκα, οὐ μισέων θεοῦ ἔργα, χολῆς δὲ διζήμενος φύσιν καὶ θέσιν· οἶσθα γὰρ ἀνθρώπων παρακοπῆς ὡς αἰτίη ἐπιτοπολὺ αὕτη πλεονάσασα, ἐπεὶ πᾶσι μὲν φύσει ἐνυπάρχει, ἀλλὰ παρ’ οἷς μὲν ἔλαττον, παρ’ οἷς δέ τι πλέον· ἡ δ’ ἀμετρίη αὐτέης νοῦσοι τυγχάνουσιν, ὡς ὕλης ὅτε μὲν ἀγαθῆς, ὁτὲ δὲ φαύλης ὑποκειμένης.”

κἀγὼ, “νὴ Δία,” ἔφην, “ὦ Δημόκριτε, ἀληθέως γε καὶ φρονίμως λέγεις, ὅθεν εὐδαίμονά σε κρίνω τοσαύτης ἀπολαύοντα ἡσυχίης· ἡμῖν δὲ μετέχειν ταύτης οὐκ ἐπιτέτραπται.”

ἐρεομένου δὲ “διὰ τί, ὦ Ἱππόκρατες, οὐκ ἐπιτέτραπται;” “ὅτι,” ἔφην, “ἢ ἀγροὶ ἢ οἰκίη ἢ τέκνα ἢ δάνεια ἢ νοῦσοι ἢ θάνατοι ἢ δμῶες ἢ γάμοι ἢ τοιαῦτά τινα τὴν εὐκαιρίην ὑποτάμνεται.” ἐνταῦθα δὴ ὁ ἀνὴρ εἰς τὸ εἰωθὸς πάθος κατηνέχθη, καὶ μάλα ἀθρόον τι ἀνεκάγχασε, καὶ ἐπετώθασε, καὶ τὸ λοιπὸν ἡσυχίην ἦγεν.

Dosso Dossi, 1540

The Gods Don’t Hate Those Who Suffer…

Macrobius, Saturnalia, 1. 45-46

“You can understand from the two popular lines which Epictetus wrote about himself that the gods do not completely hate those who suffer because of a range of miseries in this life, but that there are some secret causes which the curiosity of a few may be able to sense:

“I, Epictetus, was born a slave with a crippled body
both an Irus in poverty and dear to the gods.

You have, I believe, sufficient argument why the name “servant” should not be despised or taboo, since concern for a slave affected Jupiter and because it turns out that many of them are faithful, intelligent, brave, and even philosophers!”

45. cuius etiam de se scripti duo versus feruntur, ex quibus illud latenter intellegas, non omni modo dis exosos esse qui in hac vita cum aerumnarum varietate luctantur, sed esse arcanas causas ad quas paucorum potuit pervenire curiositas:

δοῦλος Ἐπίκτητος γενόμην καὶ σῶμ᾿ ἀνάπηρος,
καὶ πενίην Ἶρος καὶ φίλος ἀθανάτοις.

46. habes, ut opinor, adsertum non esse fastidio despiciendum servile nomen, cum et Iovem tetigerit cura de servo et multos ex his fideles providos fortes, philosophos etiam extitisse constiterit.

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Paris and Menelaos Go to an Oracle (Together)

Schol bT Ad Il. 5.64 ex

“Since he had learned none of the prophecies from the gods. For they report that the Spartans were hard-pressed by a famine and asked the god for the reason. The oracle responded that they should propitiate the gods of the Teucrians, Khimaireus and Lukos. So, then Menelaos left for Troy to complete the tasks he was assigned and after he spent some time with Alexandros he went with him for the purpose of asking the gods about the creation of children.

Alexandros also asked about how he might kidnap Helen. The oracle responded to them: ‘Why do two kings, one Trojan and one Greek / why do you come to my temple with completely different intentions. / One of you seeks to discover the birth of a horse / but the other…..; What are you devising now, Zeus?’ When they failed to understand these things, they returned. This is why the poet says “he did not understand the prophecies of the gods.”

ἐπεὶ οὔτι θεῶν ἐκ θέσφατα ᾔδη: Λακεδαιμονίους φασὶ λιμῷ πιεζομένους τὸ αἴτιον ἀνακρίνειν τὸν θεόν. τὸν δὲ εἰπεῖν ἐξιλάσκεσθαι τοὺς Τεύκρων δαίμονας, Χιμαιρέα τε καὶ Λύκον. τὸν δὲ Μενέλαον ἀπελθόντα εἰς ῎Ιλιον ἐπιτελεῖν τὰ προσταχθέντα καὶ συμμίξαντα ᾿Αλεξάνδρῳ ἅμα αὐτῷ ἀπιέναι εἰς †θεοὺς† ἐρησόμενον περὶ παίδων γονῆς· ἐρωτᾶν δὲ καὶ ᾿Αλέξανδρον, ὅπως ἂν ἁρπάσοι τὴν ῾Ελένην. τὸν δὲ θεὸν εἰπεῖν  „Τίπτε δύω βασιλῆες,

ὁ μὲν Τρώων, ὁ δ’ ᾿Αχαιῶν, / οὐκέθ’ ὁμὰ φρονέοντες ἐμὸν ποτὶ νηὸν ἔβητε, / ἤτοι ὁ μὲν γενεὴν ἵππου διζήμενος εὑρεῖν, / αὐτὰρ ὁ [……….]; τί νυ μήσεαι, ὦ μάκαρ ὦ Ζεῦ;”

τοὺς δὲ μὴ νοήσαντας ὑποστρέψαι. τοῦτο οὖν λέγει ὁ ποιητὴς ἐπεὶ οὔτι θεῶν ἐκ θέσφατα ᾔδη.

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Duel of Menelaos and Paris Vase

“Don’t Sail Away from Me”

For other views of the Sirens’ origin, the Homeric Scholia are interesting (see also below)

Philodemos, On Piety (ed. Gompertz), 92, 24; p. 43

“Epimenides also says that the Sirens were born from Okeanos and Gê. He adds that Proteus once prophesied to them that if anyone was not enchanted by them, then it would be their death. When Odysseus sailed past them, they threw themselves from a cliff and died.”

ἔ[τι δ᾽ Ἐπι
μενίδη[ς ἐξ Ὠκεα
νοῦ καὶ Γ[ῆς γεννή
τ᾽ εἶναι, Ï[ρωτέα δὲ λό
γιον αὐ[ταῖς ποτε
δοῦ]ναί φ[ησιν, ἐάν
τις ὑπ᾽ [αὐτῶν μὴ
θελχ[θῇ, τελευτή
σειν αὐτά[ς. ἐπεὶ δ᾽
Ὀδυσσεὺ[ς παρέ
πλευσεν [κατακρη
μνισθῆν[αι κἀποθα
νεῖν καθ[

 

Image result for odysseus and the sirens vase
Odysseus and Sirens, British Museum (480-470 BCE)
Attic Black Figure, Altes Museum Berlin, c. 525 BCE (Carole Raddato on Flickr)
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Corinthian Aryballos, MFA Boston, C. 525 BCE (Dan Diffendale on Flikr)
Image result for Odysseus & Sirens | Paestan red figure vase painting
Odysseus and Sirens, Antikensammlung Berlin c. 340 BCE

From the Suda, s.v. Seirênas

“The Sirens were some Greek women with beautiful voices in ancient Greek myth who sat on some island and so delighted passers-by with their euphony that they stayed there until death.  From the chest up they had the shape of sparrows but their lower halves were woman.

The mythographers claim that they were small birds with female faces who deceived passers-by, beguiling the ears of those who heard them with pornographic songs. And the song of pleasure has no end that is good, only death.

But the true story is this: there are certain places in the sea, narrowed between hills, which release a high song when the water is compressed into them. When people who sail by hear them they entrust their souls to the water’s swell and they die along with their ships.

The creatures who are called Sirens and Donkey-centaurs in Isaiah are some kind of demons who are foretold for abandoned cities which fall under divine wrath. The Syrians say they are swans. For after swans bathe, they fly from the water and sing a sweet melody in the air. This is why Job says, “I have become the Sirens’ brother, the companion of ostriches. This means that I sing my sufferings just like the ostriches.”

He calls the Sirens strouthoi, but he means what we call ostriches [strouthokamêmlos: “sparrow-camel”]. This is a bird which has the feet and neck of a donkey. There is a saying in the Epigrams “that chatter is sweeter than the Sirens’”. The Sirens were named Thelksiepeia, Peisinoê, and Ligeia. The Island they inhabited was called Anthemousa.”

Σειρῆνας: γυναῖκάς τινας εὐφώνους γεγενῆσθαι μῦθος πρὶν ῾Ελληνικός, αἵ τινες ἐν νησίῳ καθεζόμεναι οὕτως ἔτερπον τοὺς παραπλέοντας διὰ τῆς εὐφωνίας, ὥστε κατέχειν ἐκεῖ μέχρι θανάτου. εἶχον δὲ ἀπὸ μὲν τοῦ θώρακος καὶ ἄνω εἶδος στρουθῶν, τὰ δὲ κάτω γυναικῶν.

οἱ μυθολόγοι Σειρῆνας φασὶ θηλυπρόσωπά τινα ὀρνίθια εἶναι, ἀπατῶντα τοὺς παραπλέοντας, ᾄσμασί τισι πορνικοῖς κηλοῦντα τὰς ἀκοὰς τῶν ἀκροωμένων. καὶ τέλος ἔχει τῆς ἡδονῆς ἡ ᾠδὴ ἕτερον μὲν οὐδὲν χρηστόν, θάνατον δὲ μόνον. ὁ δὲ ἀληθὴς λόγος τοῦτο βούλεται, εἶναι τόπους τινὰς θαλαττίους, ὄρεσί τισιν ἐστενω-μένους, ἐν οἷς θλιβόμενον τὸ ῥεῖθρον λιγυράν τινα φωνὴν ἀποδίδωσιν· ἧς ἐπακούοντες οἱ παραπλέοντες ἐμπιστεύουσι τὰς ἑαυτῶν ψυχὰς τῷ ῥεύματι καὶ αὔτανδροι σὺν ταῖς ναυσὶν ἀπόλλυνται.

αἱ δὲ παρὰ τῷ ᾿Ησαΐᾳ εἰρημέναι Σειρῆνες καὶ ᾿Ονοκένταυροι δαίμονές τινές εἰσιν, οὕτω χρηματιζόμενοι ἐπ’ ἐρημίᾳ πόλεως, ἥτις χόλῳ θεοῦ γίνεται. οἱ δὲ Σύροι τοὺς κύκνους φασὶν εἶναι. καὶ γὰρ οὗτοι λουσάμενοι καὶ ἀναπτάντες ἐκ τοῦ ὕδατος καὶ τοῦ ἀέρος ἡδύ τι μέλος ᾄδουσιν. ὁ  οὖν ᾿Ιὼβ λέγει, ἀδελφὸς γέγονα Σειρήνων, ἑταῖρος δὲ στρουθῶν. τουτέστιν ᾄδω τὰς ἐμαυτοῦ συμφοράς, ὥσπερ Σειρῆνες.

στρουθοὺς δὲ λέγει, ὃν ἡμεῖς στρουθοκάμηλον λέγομεν, ὄρνεον μὲν ὄντα, πόδας δὲ καὶ τράχηλον ὄνου κεκτημένον. καὶ ἐν ᾿Επιγράμμασι· καὶ τὸ λάλημα κεῖνο τὸ Σειρήνων γλυκύτερον. ὀνόματα Σειρήνων· Θελξιέπεια, Πεισινόη, Λιγεία· ἡ δὲ νῆσος ἣν κατῴκουν ᾿Ανθεμοῦσα.

Schol. B ad. Od. 12.39

“The Sirens were either loud-voiced birds on the shore or bewitching and deceptive women; or this is flattery. For they bewitched, deceived, and drove many to death.”

αἱ Σειρῆνες ἢ ὄρνιθες κέλαδοι ἦσαν ἐν λειμῶνι, ἢ γυναῖκες θελκτικαὶ καὶ ἀπατητικαὶ, ἢ αὐτὴ ἡ κολακεία. πολλοὺς γὰρ θέλγει καὶ ἀπατᾷ καὶ ὡσανεὶ θανατοῖ. B.

Norbanus, Caesar, Oedipus: Candidates for Impeachment?

Cicero, De Oratore II. 167

This is a kind of argument deduced from connected notions: “If the highest praise must be given to piety, then you should be moved when you see Quintus Metellus grieving so dutifully”. And, as for a deduction from generalities, “if magistrates owe their power to the Roman people, then why impeach Norbanus when he depends on the will of the citizenry?”

Ex coniunctis sic argumenta ducuntur: ‘si pietati summa tribuenda laus est, debetis moveri, cum Q. Metellum tam pie lugere videatis.’ Ex genere autem: ‘si magistratus in populi Romani potestate esse debent, quid Norbanum accusas, cuius tribunatus voluntati paruit civitatis?’

Suetonius, Julius Caesar 1.30

“Others claim that he feared being compelled to provide a defense for the things he had done in his first consulate against auspices, laws, and legislative actions. For Marcus Cato often announced with an oath that he would impeach Caesar by name, as soon as he dismissed his army.”

Alii timuisse dicunt, ne eorum, quae primo consulatu adversus auspicia legesque et intercessiones gessisset, rationem reddere cogeretur; cum M. Cato identidem nec sine iure iurando denuntiaret delaturum se nomen eius, simul ac primum exercitum dimisisset

Accius, Fr. 598 (From Oedipus)

TEIRESIAS

“They impeach him voluntarily and they separate him
From his good fortune and all his wealth,
A man isolated, bereft, depressed and tortured”

Incusant ultro, a fortuna opibusque omnibus
desertum abiectum adflictum exanimum expectorant.

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Truth and Happiness, An Inverse Relationship?

From Athenaeus’ Deipnosophists (5.211 e-f)

“Posidonios of Apamea records the story of [Athenion] which I am going to lay out even though it is rather long, so that we may examine carefully all men who claim to be philosophers, and not merely trust in their shabby robes and unkempt beards. For, as Agathon says (fr. 12):

If I tell the truth, I won’t make you happy.
But if I am to make you happy, I will say nothing true.

Since the truth, they say, is dear to us, I will tell the whole story about this man.”

περὶ οὗ καθ’ ἕκαστα ἱστορεῖ Ποσειδώνιος ὁ ᾿Απαμεύς, ἅπερ εἰ καὶ μακρότερά ἐστιν ἐκθήσομαι, ἵν’ ἐπιμελῶς πάντας ἐξετάζωμεν τοὺς φάσκοντας εἶναι φιλοσόφους καὶ μὴ τοῖς τριβωνίοις καὶ τοῖς ἀκάρτοις πώγωσι πιστεύωμεν. κατὰ γὰρ τὸν ᾿Αγάθωνα
(fr. 12 N)

εἰ μὲν φράσω τἀληθές, οὐχί σ’ εὐφρανῶ·
εἰ δ’ εὐφρανῶ τί σ’, οὐχὶ τἀληθὲς φράσω.

ἀλλὰ φίλη <γάρ>, φασίν, ἡ ἀλήθεια, ἐκθήσομαι τὰ περὶ τὸν ἄνδρα ὡς ἐγένετο (FHG III 266).

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Moon-People Or People Before the Moon?

I am still not quite sure what to make of this fragment. So, here it is.

Theodoros of Samothrace, fr. 2 (BNJ 62 f2) = Schol. ad Ap. Rhodes 4.264

“The Arcadians who are supposed to have lived before even the moon…”

᾽Αρκάδες οἳ καὶ πρόσθε σεληναίης ὑδέονται ζώειν]

“The Arcadians seem to have been born before the moon was, as Eudoxos also claims in his Global Tour. Theodôros reports in his 22nd book that the moon came into view before Herakles’ war with the giants. Aristias the Khian in his Foundations and Dionysian the Khalkidean in the first book of his Foundations report that the Selêntians [moon-people] are Arkadian ethnically.”

οἱ ᾽Αρκάδες δοκοῦσι πρὸ τῆς σελήνης γεγονέναι, ὡς καὶ Εὐδοξος ἐν Γῆς Περιόδωι. Θεόδωρος δὲ ἐν κ̄β̄ ὀλίγωι πρότερόν φησι τοῦ πρὸς τοὺς Γίγαντας πολέμου Ηρακλέους τὴν σελήνην φανῆναι. καὶ ᾽Αριστίας ὁ Χῖος ἐν ταῖς Κτίσεσι καὶ Διονύσιος ὁ Χαλκιδεὺς ἐν ᾱ Κτίσεων καὶ ἔθνος φασὶν ᾽Αρκαδίας Σεληνίτας εἶναι.

 

Image | Attic red figure vase painting
Selene, the Moon