From the Restroom: He Thunders Beneath the Earth

Suetonius, Life of Lucan

“When he was at the beginning of adolescence and learned that his father lived in the country because of a terrible marriage…Although when he was recalled from Athens by Nero he was included among his group of friends and even honored with a quaestorship, he still did not remain in his good graces.

Because he took it badly when Nero suddenly left while he was giving a reading for the sake of holding a senate meeting but for no other real reason accept for chilling the reading, he did not later on restrain himself from either words or deeds against the prince, some of which are well-known.

For instance, once when he was in the public restrooms, he followed a rather clear and loud fart to empty his bowels with a half-line written by Nero as the great crowd of those around him fled: “you could believe that it thundered beneath the earth.”

Hic initio adolescentiae, cum ob infestum matrimonium patrem suum ruri agere longissime cognovisset*** Revocatus Athenis a Nerone cohortique amicorum additus atque etiam quaestura honoratus, non tamen permansit in gratia. Siquidem aegre ferens, recitante se subito ac nulla nisi refrigerandi sui causa indicto senatu recessisse, neque verbis adversus principem neque factis exstantibus post haec temperavit, adeo ut quondam in latrinis publicis clariore cum strepitu ventris emissi hemistichium Neronis magna consessorum fuga pronuntiarit: Sub terris tonuisse putes.

Defecatory thunder may or may not have been a trope in the ancient world. If you are interested in this kind of content, you may want to consider the Panfarticon.

Nero 1.JPG
An Epoch defining neck-beard

Keeping Annals and Founding Rome

Servius Danielis, Aeneid, 1, 373

“The Annals were gathered in this way: the pontifex had a whitened tablet for each year on which he kept written the names of the consul and the rest of the magistrates and below which he typically kept notes of anything worthy of remembering which happened at home or abroad and at sea or on land on a daily basis. Ancient authorities edited the annual records kept with this care and they named them after the pontifices who assembled them, the Annales Maximi.”

ita autem annales conficiebantur: tabulam dealbatam quotannis pontifex maximus habuit, in qua praescriptis consulum nominibus et aliorum magistratuum digna memoratu notare consueverat domi militiaeque terra marique gesta per singulos dies. cuius diligentiae annuos commentarios in octoginta libros veteres rettulerunt eosque a pontificibus maximis, a quibus fiebant, Annales Maximos appellarunt.

Festus, Sextus Pompeius, On the Meaning of Words, p. 266 M. (= p. 326, 35 L.)

“Alcimus says that Romulus was the son born to Tyrrhenia and Aeneas and that Alba was Aeneas’ granddaughter from her, whose son, named Rhodius, founded the city of Rome.”

Alcimus ait, Tyrrhenia Aeneae natum filium Romulum fuisse, atque eo ortam Albam Aeneae neptem, cuius filius nomine Rhodius condiderit urbem Romam.

Peter Paul Rubens - Aeneas in the Underworld.jpg
Peter Paul Reubens “Aeneas in the Underworld”

Tawdry Tuesday: Priapic Ponds and Neuter Roots

The following two passages are from the Mirabilia of Apollonius the Paradoxographer (usually dated to the 2nd Century BCE, making him one of the earliest extant paradoxographers).

This plant makes you bigger [=BNJ 81 F17]

“Phularkhos writes in the eighth book of his Histories that near the Arabian Gulf there is a spring of water from which if anyone ever anoints their feet what transpires miraculously is that their penis becomes enormously erect.  For some it never contracts completely, while others are put back in shape with great suffering and medical attention.”

14 Φύλαρχος ἐν τῇ η′ τῶν ἱστοριῶν [καὶ] κατὰ τὸν ᾿Αράβιόν φησι κόλπον πηγὴν εἶναι ὕδατος, ἐξ οὗ εἴ τις τοὺς πόδας χρίσειεν, συμβαίνειν εὐθέως ἐντείνεσθαι ἐπὶ πολὺ τὸ αἰδοῖον, καί τινων μὲν μηδ’ ὅλως συστέλλεσθαι, τινῶν δὲ μετὰ μεγάλης κακοπαθείας καὶ θεραπείας ἀποκαθίστασθαι.

This plant makes you smaller [=BNJ 81 F35a]

“Phularkhos in book 20 of the Histories says that there is a white root imported from India which when [people] cut it and smear it over their feet with water, those who are smeared with it experience forgetfulness of sex and become similar to eunuchs. For this reason still some apply it before they are fully adults and are not aroused for the rest of their life.”

18 Φύλαρχος ἐν <τῇ> κ′ τῶν ἱστοριῶν ἐκ τῆς ᾿Ινδικῆς φησιν ἐνεχθῆναι λευκὴν ῥίζαν, ἣν κόπτοντας μεθ’ ὕδατος καταπλάττειν τοὺς πόδας, τοὺς δὲ καταπλασθέντας ἄνδρας τῆς συνουσίας λήθην ἴσχειν καὶ γίγνεσθαι ὁμοίους εὐνούχοις. διὸ καὶ ἔτι ἀνήβων ὄντων καταχρίουσι καὶ μέχρι θανάτου οὐκ ἐπαίρουσιν.

This anecdote has a later parallel from Athenaeus

Athenaeus, Deipn. 1.32 [=BNJ8135b]

“Phularkhos says that Sandrokottos, the king of the Indians, sent along with other gifts to Seleukos some drugs with erectile powers, the kind of which, when they are applied beneath feet of those who are going to have sex, give the urge like birds, while some people lose their ability [for sex].”

Φύλαρχος δὲ Σανδρόκοττόν φησι τὸν ᾽Ινδῶν βασιλέα Σελεύκωι μεθ᾽ ὧν ἔπεμψε δώρων ἀποστεῖλαί τινας δυνάμεις στυτικὰς τοιαύτας ὡς ὑπὸ τοὺς πόδας τιθεμένας τῶν συνουσιαζόντων οἷς μὲν ὁρμὰς ἐμποιεῖν ὀρνίθων δίκην, οὓς δὲ καταπαύειν.

Phularkhos (Phylarchus) is an Athenian historian from the 3rd century BCE known for his love of anecdote and miraculous detail

Here is an ancient spell for erectile dysfunction (go here for translation note):

Magical Papyri, 7.185

“To be able to fuck a lot: mix fifty [pine nuts] with two measures of honey and seeds of pepper and drink it. To have an erection whenever you want: mix pepper with honey and rub it on your thing.”

Πολλὰ βι[ν]εῖν δύνασθαι· στροβίλια πεντήκοντα μετὰ δύο κυά[θ]ων γλυκέος καὶ κόκκους πεπέρεως τρίψας πίε. Στ[ύ]ειν, ὅτε θέλεις· πέπερι μετὰ μέλιτος τρίψας χρῖέ σου τὸ πρᾶ̣γ̣μ̣α.

Kyrie initial, Jean Courtois, Missa Domine quis habitabit, Bruges 1542 (Cambrai, BM, ms. 125B fol. 110r)
Kyrie initial, Jean Courtois, Missa Domine quis habitabit, Bruges 1542 (Cambrai, BM, ms. 125B fol. 110r)

Bring Home Hektor’s Bones

The Iliad ends with the burial of Hektor, but the mythographical tradition would not let him lie in peace. There is a tradition for the exhumation and the reburial of his remains.

Aristodemos BNJ383 F7 [“Brill’s New Jacoby”=Schol. AB ad Il. 13.1]

“the Trojans and Hektor”: He has separated Hektor in particular from the rest of the Trojans. Following the sack of Troy, Hektor the son of Priam obtained honor from the gods after death. For the Thebans in Boiotia were beset by evils and solicited a prophecy about their deliverance. The oracle told them that they would stop the troubles if they would transfer the bones of Hektor from Ophrunion in the Troad to a place in their land called the “birthplace of Zeus”. They, once they did this and were freed from the evils, maintained the honors for Hektor and during hard times they used to call for his manifestation. This is the account in Aristodemos.

Τρῶάς τε καὶ ῞Εκτορα] κεχώρικε τῶν λοιπῶν Τρώων τὸν ῞Εκτορα κατ᾽ ἐξοχήν. μετὰ δὲ τὴν ᾽Ιλίου πόρθησιν ῞Εκτωρ ὁ Πριάμου καὶ μετὰ τὸν θάνατον τὴν ἀπὸ θεῶν εὐτύχησε τιμήν· οἱ γὰρ ἐν Βοιωτίαι Θηβαῖοι πιεζόμενοι κακοῖς ἐμαντεύοντο περὶ ἀπαλλαγῆς· χρησμὸς δὲ αὐτοῖς ἐδόθη παύσεσθαι τὰ δεινά, ἐὰν ἐξ ᾽Οφρυνίου τῆς Τρωάδος τὰ ῞Εκτορος ὀστᾶ διακομισθῶσιν εἰς τὸν παρ᾽ αὐτοῖς καλούμενον τόπον Διὸς γονάς. οἱ δὲ τοῦτο ποιήσαντες καὶ τῶν κακῶν ἀπαλλαγέντες διὰ τιμῆς ἔσχον ῞Εκτορα, κατά τε τοὺς ἐπείγοντας καιροὺς ἐπικαλοῦνται τὴν ἐπιφάνειαν αὐτοῦ. ἡ ἱστορία παρὰ ᾽Αριστοδήμωι.

Pausanias, 9.18.5

“At Thebes there is also the grave of Hektor, Priam’s son. It is next to a spring called the Oedipus Spring. The Thebans say that they brought the bones from Troy to this place because of the following oracle:

Thebans living in the in the city of Kadmos,
If you want to live in a country with blameless wealth
Bring the bones of Hektor, Priam’s son, home
From Asia to be honored as a hero in accordance with Zeus

The spring was named after Oedipus because it was the same place where Oedipus washed off the blood from his father’s murder

Ἔστι δὲ καὶ Ἕκτορος Θηβαίοις τάφος τοῦ Πριάμου πρὸς Οἰδιποδίᾳ καλουμένῃ κρήνῃ, κομίσαι δὲ αὐτοῦ τὰ ὀστᾶ ἐξ Ἰλίου φασὶν ἐπὶ τοιῷδε μαντεύματι·
Θηβαῖοι Κάδμοιο πόλιν καταναιετάοντες,
αἴ κ᾿ ἐθέλητε πάτραν οἰκεῖν σὺν ἀμύμονι πλούτῳ,
Ἕκτορος ὀστέα Πριαμίδου κομίσαντες ἐς οἴκους
ἐξ Ἀσίης Διὸς ἐννεσίῃσ᾿ ἥρωα σέβεσθαι.

Lykophron in his Alexandra alludes to a strange tale of the transfer of Hektor’s remains from Troy to Thebes.  Since Lykophron is virtually unreadable, here is the account from scholia (Schol. In Lykrophon 1194):

“They say that when there was a famine in Greece Apollo decreed that they should transfer the bones of Hektor, which were at the place called Ophrunos, from Troy to some city in Greece which did not take part in the expedition against Troy.* When the Greeks realized that Thebes in Boiotia had not fought against Troy, they retrieved the remains of the hero and installed them there.”

φασὶν ὅτι λοιμοῦ κατασχόντος τὴν ῾Ελλάδα ἔχρησεν ὁ ᾿Απόλλων τὰ τοῦ ῞Εκτορος ὀστᾶ κείμενα ἐν ᾿Οφρυνῷ τόπῳ Τροίας μετενεγκεῖν ἐπί τινα πόλιν ῾Ελληνίδα ἐν τιμῇ <οὖσαν> μὴ μετασχοῦσαν τῆς ἐπὶ ῎Ιλιον στρατείας. οἱ δὲ ῞Ελληνες εὑρόντες τὰς ἐν Βοιωτίᾳ Θήβας μὴ στρατευσαμένας ἐπὶ ῎Ιλιον ἐνεγκόντες τὰ τοῦ ἥρωος λείψανα ἔθηκαν αὐτὰ ἐκεῖσε.

* In the Iliad, though the Boiotians (2.494-510) are named prominently in the catalogue of ships alongside the prominent city of Orchomenos (511-516), only Hypothebes is mentioned alongside recognizable topographical features of Thebes (οἵ θ’ ῾Υποθήβας εἶχον ἐϋκτίμενον πτολίεθρον, 505). One explanation for this is that “The place below Thebes” is the settlement surviving after the Epigonoi sacked the city. Diomedes, prominent in the Iliad, was instrumental in that expedition. In mythical time, then, Thebes was a ruined city for the advent of the expedition against Thebes.

The transfer of heroic remains is reported frequently in ancient texts. For Theseus’ bones see: Plut. Vit. Cim. 8.57; Vit. Thes. 36.1–4; Paus. 1.17.6, 3.3.7.  Cf. Hdt. 167-68; Paus 3.3.6 for Orestes’ bones. McCauley (1999) identifies 13 different instances of the transfer of remains in ancient Greece, with 9 of them being clearly political in motivation.

Simon Hornblower accepts that the cult of Hektor at Thebes was historical. One suggestion for this (Schachter 1981-94: 1.233-4) is that when Kassandros re-founded Thebes in 316 BCE he consciously affiliated with Hektor in response to Alexander’s earlier association with Achilles (Kassandros had a great enmity for Alexander). Hornblower (427) also posits the bone tale as an instance of rivalry between Thebes and Athens as part of Thebes establishing a connection in the Hellespont to challenge Athenian commercial interests in the region. The first suggestion places the bone transfer tale after 316 BCE; the second dates it back to 365. Hornblower suggests that there were two stages involved with an oracle being reported c. 465 BCE (428) and the bones being retrieved near the end of the century.

Image result for Hector ancient greek vase

A. Schachter, Cults of Boeotia1–4 (London, 1981-1994).

Hornblower, Simon 203. Lykophron: Alexandra. Oxford.

McCauley, B. 1999. “Heroes and Power: The Politics of Bone Transferal.” In R. Hägg (ed.) Ancient Greek Hero Cult. Stockholm, 1999:85-98

Phillips, D. D. 2003. “The Bones of Orestes and Spartan Foreign Policy.” In Gestures: Essays in Ancient History, Literature, and Philosophy Presented to Alan L. Boegehold, edited by G. W. Bakewell and J. P. Sickinger, 301–16. Oxford.

The Rise and Fall of Republican Rome as Stages in a Life

Seneca the Elder, Historical Fragments, 1 [=Lactant. Inst. Div. 7.15.14]

“Seneca outlined the periods of Roman history in “life-stages”. The first was her infancy under the king Romulus, who parented Rome and educated her. Then there followed a childhood under various kings thanks to whom the city grew and was shaped by many practices and institutions. Then, while Tarquin was king and Rome began to become more adult, it could not endure servitude and, once the yoke of arrogant rule was thrown off, preferred to heed laws instead of kings.

Once the Roman adolescence ended with the close of the Punic war,  it began to show the full strength of adulthood. For, when Carthage was subdued, that city which was an ancient rival for power, Rome extended her hands over the whole earth, both land and sea until every king and nation had bent to her power.

But, since there was no reason left for wars, Rome began to use her strengths poorly and wore herself out. This was the first step of old age: when Rome was wounded by civil wars and suffering from internal evil, she returned again to the practice of individual rule, as if she had devolved into a second infancy. Thus she lost the freedom which she defended when Brutus was its agent and champion and grew weak in old age, as if she had not the strength to support herself unless she could use the ‘cane’ of kings.”

Seneca Romanae urbis tempora distribuit in aetates; primam enim dixit infantiam sub rege Romulo fuisse, a quo et genita et quasi educata sit Roma, deinde pueritiam sub ceteris regibus, a quibus et aucta sit et disciplinis pluribus institutisque formata. At vero Tarquinio regnante, cum iam quasi adulta esse coepisset, servitium non tulisse, et reiecto superbae dominationis iugo maluisse legibus obtemperare quam regibus, cumque esset adulescentia eius fine Punici belli terminata, tum denique confirmatis viribus coepisse iuvenescere. Sublata enim Carthagine, quae diu aemula imperii fuit, manus suas in totum orbem terra marique porrexit, donec regibus cunctis et nationibus imperio subiugatis, cum iam bellorum materia deficeret, viribus suis male uteretur, quibus se ipsa confecit. Haec fuit prima eius senectus, cum bellis lacerata civilibus atque intestino malo pressa rursus ad regimen singularis imperii recidit quasi ad alteram infantiam revoluta. Amissa enim libertate, quam Bruto duce et auctore defenderat, ita consenuit tamquam sustentare se ipsa non valeret nisi adminiculo regentium uteretur.

Bust of an elderly Roman man, marble 40BC, Albertinum, Dresden

These Are The Insults I know

Phrynichus 74 Athen. 2. 44d (i 103 Kaibel)

“Lampros the musician was a water-drinker. Phrynichus says of him: sea-weed lamented for Lampros, a water-drinker who died in it, whiny uber-sophist, a Muse mortician, the Nightingale’s nightmare, and a hymn to Hades”

ὑδροπότης δ᾿ ἦν καὶ Λάμπρος ὁ μουσικός, περὶ οὗ Φρύνιχός φησι (fr. 74 K.-A.)·
λάρους θρηνεῖν, ἐν οἷσι Λάμπρος ἐναπέθνῃσκεν ἄνθρωπος <ὢν> ὑδατοπότης, μινυρὸς ὑπερσοφιστής, Μουσῶν σκελετός, ἀηδόνων ἠπίαλος, ὕμνος Ἅιδου.

File:Terracotta hydria (water jar) MET 180966.jpg
A  water jar from the MET, C. 560 BCE

#MondayMotivation: Where Does Happiness Come From?

The following essay by Dio Chrysostom is fragmentary. I can imagine where it goes from where it starts, but I might be wrong. One of the seductive things about fragments is their lure to be ‘completed’ or ‘restored’. Here’s one about happiness–a topic perhaps profitably left unfinished for each of us to write our own endings.

Dio Chrysostom, 24 Discourse on Happiness

“The majority of people have generally given no thought regarding what kind of people they should be nor what at all is best for a person, nor what it is right to do in all other things. Instead, they have spent their lives in private pursuits—some dedicate themselves to horses; others to military leadership; others to athletic competition. Some are devoted to music; while others look to farming; and others to being able to speak well. But they neither know nor try to figure out what use each of these pursuits has for them or what profit might come from it.

As a result, while some people do become good horsemen—the kinds of people who love to work at it and care about it completely—and while others are better than some at wrestling and boxing, and running, and the rest of the athletic games, or in not screwing up planting, or sailing without ruining a ship, and some know the matters of the art of better than others—it is not possible to find among them a good and prudent man who also knows what makes a good and intelligent person.

Start first with the example of oratory—there are many people altogether of noble families who also seem to be ambitious who are dedicated to it so much that they compete in public courts, even speaking to the people and because of this have gained more than others and can do what they want while others [endeavor] so that they might be considered clever on account of the fame of their field.

But there are some people who say that they want what they get from experience, and some of these are speakers some are only writers, people whom someone of former times said were on the border of philosophy and politics. Whatever advantage their work brings them or what use their reputation is or what the profit of their experience might be, they do not examine.

But I claim that all the rest is worthless without this kind of care and examination  For the person who has considered and understood this, it is clear that the advantage of public speaking or military leadership or any other thing we do comes when it it directed towards good.

For being praised by ignorant people in itself—for most people are like that—or having power among them or living pleasurably will not bring any more happiness than being rebuked by these people, having no power among them, or living a hard life.”

Οἱ πολλοὶ ἄνθρωποι καθόλου μὲν οὐδὲν πεφροντίκασιν ὁποίους χρὴ εἶναι οὐδὲ ὅ τι βέλτιστον ἀνθρώπῳ ἐστίν, οὗ ἕνεκα χρὴ πάντα τἄλλα πράττειν, ἰδίᾳ δὲ ἐσπουδάκασιν οἱ μὲν ἱππεύειν, οἱ δὲ στρατηγεῖν, οἱ δὲ περὶ ἀγωνίαν, οἱ δὲ περὶ μουσικήν, ἄλλοι περὶ γεωργίαν, ἄλλοι δύνασθαι λέγειν. ἥντινα δὲ χρείαν αὐτοῖς ἔχει τούτων ἕκαστον ἢ τί τὸ ὄφελος ἐξ αὐτοῦ γίγνοιτ᾿ ἄν, οὐκ ἴσασιν οὐδὲ ζητοῦσιν. τοιγαροῦν ἱππεῖς μὲν ἀγαθοὶ γίγνονταί τινες, οἳ ἂν φιλοπονῶσιν αὐτὸ καὶ ἐκμελετῶσι, καὶ παλαῖσαι ἄλλοι ἄλλων ἱκανώτεροι καὶ πυκτεῦσαι καὶ δραμεῖν καὶ τἄλλα ἀγωνίσασθαι, καὶ τοῦ σπόρου μὴ διαμαρτεῖν, καὶ πλέοντες μὴ διαφθεῖραι τὴν ναῦν, καὶ τὰ κατὰ μουσικήν τινες ἐπίστανται βέλτιον ἑτέρων· ἀγαθὸν δὲ ἄνδρα καὶ φρόνιμον, καὶ αὐτὸ τοῦτο εἰδότα ὅστις ἐστὶν ὁ χρηστὸς ἀνὴρ καὶ νοῦν ἔχων, οὐδένα τούτων ἔστιν εὑρεῖν.

Αὐτίκα περὶ τὸ λέγειν πάντως ἐσπουδάκασι πολλοὶ τῶν ἐλευθέρων, καὶ φιλοτίμων εἶναι δοκούντων, οἱ μὲν ὥστε ἐν δικαστηρίοις ἀγωνίζεσθαι, καὶ πρὸς δῆμον λέγοντες, διὰ δὲ τοῦτο ἰσχύειν πλέον τῶν ἄλλων καὶ πράττειν ὅ τι ἂν αὐτοὶ θέλωσιν, οἱ δὲ τῆς δόξης ἕνεκα τῆς ἀπὸ τοῦ πράγματος, ὅπως δεινοὶ νομίζωνται. τινὲς δὲ αὐτῆς φασι τῆς ἐμπειρίας ἐπιθυμεῖν, καὶ τούτων οἱ μὲν λέγοντες, οἱ δὲ συγγράφοντες μόνον, οὓς ἔφη τις τῶν πρότερον μεθόρια εἶναι τῶν φιλοσόφων καὶ τῶν πολιτικῶν. ὅτι δὲ συμφέρει πράττουσιν ἢ πρὸς ὅ τι ἡ δόξα αὐτοῖς ὠφέλιμος ἢ τί τῆς ἐμπειρίας ταύτης ὄφελος, οὐ σκοποῦσιν.

Ἐγὼ δέ φημι πάντα τἄλλα δίχα τῆς τοιαύτης ἐπιμελείας καὶ ζητήσεως ὀλίγου ἄξια εἶναι, τῷ δὲ ἐκεῖνο ἐννοήσαντι καὶ ξυνέντι, τούτῳ καὶ τὸ λέγειν καὶ τὸ στρατηγεῖν καὶ ὅ τι ἂν ἄλλο ποιῇ, ξυμφέρον τε εἶναι καὶ ἐπ᾿ ἀγαθῷ γίγνεσθαι. ἐπεὶ τό γε ἐπαινεῖσθαι καθ᾿ ἑαυτὸ ὑπὸ ἀνθρώπων ἀνοήτων, οἷοίπερ εἰσὶν οἱ πολλοί, ἢ τὸ δύνασθαι ἐν τοῖς τοιούτοις ἢ τὸ ἡδέως ζῆν οὐδὲν ἂν διαφέροι πρὸς εὐδαιμονίαν τοῦ ψέγεσθαι καὶ μηδὲν ἰσχύειν καὶ ἐπιπόνως ζῆν.

Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, Cod. Bodmer 174, detail of f. 3r (Isis gathering Osiris’ body parts). Boccaccio, Des cas des nobles hommes et femmes. 15th century
Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, Cod. Bodmer 174, detail of f. 3r (Isis gathering Osiris’ body parts)