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

Infinity Games in the Mind

Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 4.973-983

“And whenever people give uninterrupted attention
To games many days in a row, we often see
That when they have stopped training their senses on this,
There are still certain pathways left open in the mind
Where the impressions of these things still may enter.

For many days later then, they see these same images
Before their eyes so that even when they are alert
They think they see dancers moving their soft limbs,
And their ears catch bits of the lyre’s liquid song or ringing chords
And along with it the marvelous props of the stage shine on”

Et quicumque dies multos ex ordine ludis
adsiduas dederunt operas, plerumque videmus,
cum iam destiterunt ea sensibus usurpare,
relicuas tamen esse vias in mente patentis,
qua possint eadem rerum simulacra venire.
per multos itaque illa dies eadem obversantur
ante oculos, etiam vigilantes ut videantur
cernere saltantis et mollia membra moventis,
et citharae liquidum carmen chordasque loquentis
auribus accipere, et consessum cernere eundem
scenaique simul varios splendere decores.

Image result for super mario bros 1

Spectators, a Warning: Stay Hydrated

Diogenes Laertius, Thales 39

“[Thales] the wise died while watching a sporting contest because of heat, thirst, weakness, and old age. This is inscribed on his tomb:

While Thales lies in this small tomb on the ground
The fame of his wisdom spans the sky without bound

And I can also add this epigram of my own from my Epigrams of Various Meters:

As wise Thales watched the athletic games
The sun came to the stadium to tack him away
That you took him Zeus I praise
For he could not see the stars from earth because of age.

Ὁ δ᾿ οὖν σοφὸς ἐτελεύτησεν ἀγῶνα θεώμενος γυμνικὸν ὑπό τε καύματος καὶ δίψους καὶ ἀσθενείας, ἤδη γηραιός. καὶ αὐτοῦ ἐπιγέγραπται τῷ μνήματι·

ἦ ὀλίγον τόδε σᾶμα—τὸ δὲ κλέος οὐρανόμακες
—τῶ πολυφροντίστω τοῦτο Θάλητος ὅρη.

ἔστι καὶ παρ᾿ ἡμῖν ἐς αὐτὸν ἐν τῷ πρώτῳ τῶν Ἐπιγραμμάτων ἢ Παμμέτρῳ τόδε τὸ ἐπίγραμμα·

γυμνικὸν αὖ ποτ᾿ ἀγῶνα θεώμενον, ἠέλιε Ζεῦ,
τὸν σοφὸν ἄνδρα Θαλῆν ἥρπασας ἐκ σταδίου.
αἰνέω ὅττι μιν ἐγγὺς ἀπήγαγες· ἦ γὰρ ὁ πρέσβυς
οὐκέθ᾿ ὁρᾶν ἀπὸ γῆς ἀστέρας ἠδύνατο.

Irony strikes

Thales, Fr. 22

“Water is the beginning and the end of everything.”

[οὕτος ἔφη] ἀρχὴν τοῦ παντὸς εἶναι καὶ τέλος τὸ ὕδωρ

From wikimedia commons

Avoiding Viruses and Playing Games in Rome

Ammianus Marcellinus, Constantius and Gallus 23-25

And since, as is natural in the world capital, the harsh diseases overpower so intensely that the profession of healing fails at treating them, the plan for safely is that no one will go to see a friend who suffers some disease like this. And some more cautious people add another salubrious remedy to this: slaves who have been sent to ask about the health of someone related to people who have this sickness are not allowed to enter the home before they have cleansed their body with a bath. This is how much they fear a sickness seen by other people.

But even when these practices are rather consistently performed, there are some people who, if they are invited to a wedding where gold might be offered to their open right hands, will run all the way to the Spoletium struggling, even though the strength of their limbs is weak from sickness.

But the mass of the poorest and lowest born people: some of them spend their entire nights in bars while some others haunt the shadows of the theater-awnings which Catullus during his aedileship was the first of all to have suspended as he emulated that Campanian corruption. Some of them play dice violently, sounding out foully when they draw air rapidly into their quivering nostrils; or, that thing they like most of all: they stand with their mouths agape from dawn to dusk in rain or shine analyzing the details of charioteers and the strengths and weaknesses of their horses.

And it is completely a surprise to see an uncountable crowd of plebians with a burning passion in their minds, hanging on what happens in the chariot races. These things and those like them allow nothing serious to happen at Rome.”

Et quoniam apud eos, ut in capite mundi, morborum acerbitates celsius dominantur, ad quos vel sedandos omnis professio medendi torpescit, excogitatum est adminiculum sospitale, nequi amicum perferentem similia videat, additumque est cautioribus paucis remedium aliud satis validum, ut famulos percontatum missos quem ad modum valeant noti hac aegritudine colligati, non ante recipiant domum, quam lavacro purgaverint corpus. Ita etiam alienis oculis visa metuitur Iabes.

Sed tamen haec cum ita tutius observentur, quidam vigore artuum imminuto, rogati ad nuptias, ubi aurum dextris manibus cavatis offertur, impigre vel usque Spoletium pergunt. Haec nobilium sunt instituta.

Ex turba vero imae sortis et paupertinae, in tabernis aliqui pernoctant vinariis, non nulli sub velabris umbraculorum theatralium latent, quae, Campanam imitatus lasciviam, Catulus in aedilitate sua suspendit omnium primus; aut pugnaciter aleis certant, turpi sono fragosis naribus introrsum reducto spiritu concrepantes; aut quod est studiorum omnium maximum ab ortu lucis ad vesperam sole fatiscunt vel pluviis, per minutias aurigarum equorumque praecipua vel delicta scrutantes.

Et est admodum mirum videre plebem innumeram, mentibus ardore quodam infuso, e dimicationum curulium eventu pendentem. Haec similiaque memorabile nihil vel serium agi Romae permittunt. Ergo redeundum ad textum.

Image taken from this blog

Looking For A Good Game for Your Holiday Get-Togethers? Try Plutarch’s Questions

Plutarch’s “Table-talk” stands alongside Athenaeus’ Deipnosophists and Petronius Satyricon as presenting a wide variety of fragments and subjects discussed within a somewhat fragile narrative frame. When compared to the other works, Plutarch’s seems to offer even less of an effort to unite the various topics as “Table-talk”. Over nine books, Plutarch presents 90 topics for discussion by a rotating case of characters (often including himself).

Below I have excerpted all of the questions without any of the answers. For a dinner party or get-together with classical or philosophical themes, or just any gathering you might fear will lack good cheer and exciting conversation, I suggest putting each question on a card and distributing them randomly for hilarity.

[PS: if you do this, take notes or record it and share it with the world]

Plutarch Table Talk, [Moralia]

1.1 [612] “Is it right to practice philosophy while drinking?
Εἰ δεῖ φιλοσοφεῖν παρὰ πότον

1.2 [615] “Should the host assign seats to his guests or should they arrange themselves?”
Πότερον αὐτὸν δεῖ κατακλίνειν τοὺς ἑστιωμένους τὸν ὑποδεχόμενον ἢ ἐπ᾿ αὐτοῖς ἐκείνοις ποιεῖσθαι;

1.3 [619] “Why the position called the ‘consul’s’ gained honor?”
Διὰ τί τῶν τόπων ὁ καλούμενος ὑπατικὸς ἔσχε τιμήν

1.4 [620] “What sort of person should be in charge of drinking?”
Ποῖόν τινα δεῖ τὸν συμποσίαρχον εἶναι;

1.5 [622] “Why do people say that “Love teaches the poet”?
Πῶς εἴρηται τὸ “ποιητὴν δ᾿ ἄρα Ἔρως διδάσκει”;

1.6 [623] “On Alexander the Great’s excessive drinking”
Περὶ τῆς Ἀλεξάνδρου πολυποσίας;

1.7 [625] “On why old men like strong drinks”
Διὰ τί μᾶλλον ἀκράτῳ χαίρουσιν οἱ γέροντες;

1.8 [625] “Why do the elderly have to read words from farther away?”
Διὰ τί τὰ γράμματα πόρρωθεν οἱ πρεσβύτεροι μᾶλλον ἀναγιγνώσκουσιν

1.9 [626] “Why are clothes washed with fresh water instead of salt water?”
Διὰ τί τῷ ποτίμῳ μᾶλλον ἢ τῷ θαλαττίῳ πλύνεται τὰ ἱμάτια

1.10 [628] “Why is any representative of the trivbe of Ajas never judged last in Athens?”
Διὰ τί τῆς Αἰαντίδος φυλῆς Ἀθήνησιν οὐδέποτε τὸν χορὸν ἔκρινον ὕστατον;

2.1 [629] What are the matters about which Xenophon says that people are pleased to be questioned and mocked about while drinking?”
Τίν᾿ ἐστὶν ἃ Ξενοφῶν παρὰ πότον ἥδιον ἐρωτᾶσθαί φησι καὶ σκώπτεσθαι ἢ μή;

2.2 [635] “Why do people get hungrier in the fall?”
Διὰ τί βρωτικώτεροι γίγνονται περὶ τὸ μετόπωρον;

2.3 [635] “Which came first, the hen or the egg?”
Πότερον ἡ ὄρνις πρότερον1 ἢ τὸ ᾠὸν ἐγένετο;

2.4 [638] “Is wrestling really the oldest sport?”
Εἰ πρεσβύτατον ἡ πάλη τῶν ἀγωνισμάτων;

2.5 [639] “Why does Homer always put the boxing first, following by wrestling and ending with racing in the athletic contests?”
Διὰ τί τῶν ἀθλημάτων Ὅμηρος πρῶτον ἀεὶ τάττει τὴν πυγμὴν εἶτα τὴν πάλην καὶ τελευταῖον τὸν δρόμον;

2.6 [640] “Why are pine and firm and similar plants not grafted?”
Διὰ τί πεύκη καὶ πίτυς καὶ τὰ ὅμοια τούτοις οὐκ ἐνοφθαλμίζεται;

2.7 [641] “Concerning the sucking-fish?”
Περὶ τῆς ἐχενηίδος

2.8 [641] “Why people say that horses who are bitten by wolves are temperamental”
Διὰ τί τοὺς λυκοσπάδας ἵππους θυμοειδεῖς εἶναι λέγουσιν

2.9 [642] “Why do sheep which are wolf-bitten have meat which is sweeter but wool which is covered in lice?”
Διὰ τί τὰ λυκόβρωτα τῶν προβάτων τὸ κρέας μὲν γλυκύτερον τὸ δ᾿ ἔριον φθειροποιὸν ἴσχει;

2.10 [642] “Did people in ancient days do better with their individual portions than people of today who dine from a shared plate?”
Πότερον οἱ παλαιοὶ βέλτιον ἐποίουν πρὸς μερίδας ἢ οἱ νῦν ἐκ κοινοῦ δειπνοῦντες;

3.1 [646A] “Should flower-garlands be used at Drinking parties?
Εἰ χρηστέον ἀνθίνοις στεφάνοις παρὰ πότον;

3.2 [648] Is the nature of ivy hot or cold?”
Περὶ τοῦ κιττοῦ πότερον τῇ φύσει θερμὸς ἢ ψυχρός ἐστιν

3.3 [650] “Why women are hardest to get drunk but old men easiest?”
Διὰ τί γυναῖκες ἥκιστα μεθύσκονται τάχιστα δ᾿ οἱ γέροντες

3.4 [650]“Are women colder in their mettle than men or hotter?”
Πότερον ψυχρότεραι τῇ κράσει τῶν ἀνδρῶν ἢ θερμότεραί εἰσιν αἱ γυναῖκες

3.5 [651] “Is wine more cold in is strength?”
Εἰ ψυχρότερος τῇ δυνάμει ὁ οἶνος

3.6 [653] “When is the right time for sex?”
Περὶ καιροῦ συνουσίας

3.7 [655] “Why does sweet wine intoxicate the least?”
Διὰ τί τὸ γλεῦκος ἥκιστα μεθύσκει

3.8 [653] “Why are very drunk less crazy than the merely tipsy?”
Διὰ τί τῶν ἀκροθωράκων λεγομένων οἱ σφόδρα μεθύοντες ἧττον παρακινητικοί εἰσιν;

3.9 [657] “On the proposal to “drink five or three not four”
Περὶ τοῦ “ἢ πέντε πίνειν ἢ τρί᾿ μὴ τέσσαρα”

3.10 “Why does meat rot more under the moon than the sun?”
Διὰ τί τὰ κρέα σήπεται μᾶλλον ὑπὸ τὴν σελήνην ἢ τὸν ἥλιον;

4.1 [660] “Is a variety of food easier to digest than simple fare?”
Εἰ ἡ ποικίλη τροφὴ τῆς ἁπλῆς εὐπεπτοτέρα;

4.2 [664] “Why do truffles seem to be created by thunder and why do people think that lightning never strikes sleeping people?”
Διὰ τί τὰ ὕδνα δοκεῖ τῇ βροντῇ γίνεσθαι, καὶ διὰ τί τοὺς καθεύδοντας οἴονται μὴ κεραυνοῦσθαι;

4.2 [666] “Why do people invite as many as possible to wedding meals?”
Διὰ τί πλείστους ἐν γάμοις ἐπὶ δεῖπνον καλοῦσιν;

4.4 [667] “Is the sea more full of delicacies than the land?”
Εἰ ἡ θάλασσα τῆς γῆς εὐοψοτέρα;

4.5 [669] “Do Jews avoid the meat because they revere or despise pork?”
Πότερον οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι σεβόμενοι τὴν ὗν ἢ δυσχεραίνοντες ἀπέχονται τῶν κρεῶν;

4.6 [671] “Who is the Jews’ god?”
Τίς ὁ παρ᾿ Ἰουδαίοις θεός;

4.7 [672] “Why are days named for the planets arranged in an order different from the planets’ order? And, on the position of the sun?”
Διὰ τί τὰς ὁμωνύμους τοῖς πλάνησιν ἡμέρας οὐ κατὰ τὴν ἐκείνων τάξιν ἀλλ᾿ ἐνηλλαγμένως ἀριθμοῦσιν· ἐν ᾧ καὶ περὶ ἡλίου τάξεως

4.8 “Why do people carry seal rings on the finger next to the middle finger?”
Διὰ τί τῶν δακτύλων μάλιστα τῷ παραμέσῳ σφραγῖδας φοροῦσιν

4.9 “Is it more appropriate to wear images of gods or wise men on seal rings?”
Εἰ δεῖ θεῶν εἰκόνας ἐν ταῖς σφραγῖσιν ἢ σοφῶν ἀνδρῶν φορεῖν

4.10 “Why don’t women eat lettuce hearts?”
Διὰ τί τὸ μέσον τῆς θρίδακος αἱ γυναῖκες οὐ τρώγουσιν

5.1 [673] “Why do we feel pleasure hearing people act like they are angry and sad but displeasure when people are actually feeling these things?”
Διὰ τί τῶν μιμουμένων τοὺς ὀργιζομένους καὶ λυπουμένους ἡδέως ἀκούομεν, αὐτῶν δὲ τῶν ἐν τοῖς πάθεσιν ὄντων ἀηδῶς;

5.2 [674] “Was the poetic competition truly ancient?”
Ὅτι παλαιὸν ἦν ἀγώνισμα τὸ τῆς ποιητικῆς;

5.3 “For what reason was the pine considered sacred to Poseidon and Dionysus?
Τίς αἰτία δι᾿ ἣν ἡ πίτυς ἱερὰ Ποσειδῶνος ἐνομίσθη καὶ Διονύσου;

5.4 [677] “What do we think about the Homeric phrase “mix the wine stronger?”
Περὶ τοῦ “ζωρότερον δὲ κέραιε”;

5.5 [678]“What do we think of those who invite many to dinner?”
Περὶ τῶν πολλοὺς ἐπὶ δεῖπνον καλούντων;

5.6 [679] “What’s the reason there is not enough space for diners at the beginning of a meal but plenty later?”
Τίς αἰτία τῆς ἐν ἀρχῇ στενοχωρίας τῶν δειπνούντων εἶθ᾿ ὕστερον εὐρυχωρίας;

5.7 [680] “What do we think of those who cast a spell and have an evil eye?”
Περὶ τῶν καταβασκαίνειν λεγομένων καὶ βάσκανον ἔχειν ὀφθαλμὸν

5.8 [683] “Why does Homer call an apple tree “splendid in fruit while Empedocles calls apples hyperphloia?”
Διὰ τί τὴν μηλέαν “ἀγλαόκαρπον” ὁ ποιητὴς εἶπεν, Ἐμπεδοκλῆς δ᾿ “ὑπέρφλοια” τὰ μῆλα;

5.9 [684] “What’s the reason that the fig tree produces the sweetest fruit even though it is the most bitter tree?”
Τίς ἡ αἰτία, δι᾿ ἣν ἡ συκῆ δριμύτατον οὖσα δένδρον γλυκύτατον παρέχει τὸν καρπόν

5.10 [684] “Who are ‘salt and bean’ friends and, in connection, why does Homer call salt holy?”
Τίνες οἱ περὶ ἄλα καὶ κύαμον· ἐν ᾧ καὶ διὰ τί τὸν ἅλα “θεῖον” ὁ ποιητὴς εἶπεν;

6.1 [686] “What is the reason those who are fast are thirstier than they are hungry?”
Τίς ἡ αἰτία, δι᾿ ἣν οἱ νηστεύοντες διψῶσι μᾶλλον ἢ πεινῶσιν;

6.2 [687] “Are hunger and thirst caused by something missing or by a transformation of passages?”
Πότερον ἔνδεια ποιεῖ τὸ πεινῆν καὶ διψῆν ἢ πόρων μετασχηματισμός;

6.3 [689] “Why people stop being hungry if they drink but they get thirstier when they eat?”
Διὰ τί πεινῶντες μέν, ἐὰν πίωσι, παύονται, διψῶντες δ᾿, ἐὰν φάγωσιν, ἐπιτείνονται;

6.4 [689] “What is the reason that water which is drawn from awell gets cooler if remains in the air of the well over night?”
Διὰ τίν᾿ αἰτίαν τὸ φρεατιαῖον ὕδωρ ἀρυσθέν, ἐὰν ἐν αὐτῷ τῷ τοῦ φρέατος ἀέρι νυκτερεύσῃ, ψυχρότερον γίνεται

6.5 [690] “What is the reason that pebbles and bits of led thrown into water make it colder?”
Διὰ τίν᾿ αἰτίαν οἱ χάλικες καὶ αἱ μολιβδίδες ἐμβαλλόμεναι ψυχρότερον τὸ ὕδωρ ποιοῦσιν;

6.6 [691] “Why do people preserve snow with a covering of straw and cloths?”
Διὰ τίν᾿ αἰτίαν ἀχύροις καὶ ἱματίοις τὴν χιόνα διαφυλάττουσι;

6.7 [692] “Is it necessary to strain wine or not?”
Εἰ δεῖ τὸν οἶνον ἐνδιηθεῖν;

6.8 [693] “What is the cause of bulimia?”
Τίς αἰτία βουλίμου;

6.9 [694] “Why does Homer use particular epithets for other liquids while he only calls olive oil liquid?”
Διὰ τί ὁ ποιητὴς ἐπὶ μὲν τῶν ἄλλων ὑγρῶν τοῖς ἰδίοις ἐπιθέτοις χρῆται, μόνον δὲ τὸ ἔλαιον ὑγρὸν καλεῖ;

6.10 [696] “what is the reason that sacrificial meat becomes more tender when it is suspended on a fig tree?”
Τίς αἰτία, δι᾿ ἣν ψαθυρὰ γίνεται ταχὺ τὰ ἐκ συκῆς κρεμαννύμενα τῶν ἱερείων;

7.1 [698] “Against those who attack Plato because he says that drink goes through the lungs?”
Πρὸς τοὺς ἐγκαλοῦντας Πλάτωνι τὸ ποτὸν εἰπόντι διὰ τοῦ πλεύμονος ἐξιέναι;

7.2 [700] “Who is the “hornstruck” man according to Plato and why are seeds that fall on the horns of cattle harder?”
Τίς ὁ παρὰ τῷ Πλάτωνι κερασβόλος, καὶ διὰ τί τῶν σπερμάτων ἀτεράμονα γίγνεται τὰ προσπίπτοντα τοῖς κέρασι τῶν βοῶν;

7.3 [701] “What is the reason that the middle of wine is best, while olive oil is better at the top and honey is better near the bottom?”
Διὰ τί τοῦ μὲν οἴνου τὸ μέσον, τοῦ δ᾿ ἐλαίου τὸ ἐπάνω, τοῦ δὲ μέλιτος τὸ κάτω γίνεται βέλτιον;

7.4 [702] “Why did ancient Romans forbid that an empty table be removed or that a lamp be extinguished?”
Διὰ τί τοῖς πάλαι Ῥωμαίοις ἔθος ἦν μήτε τράπεζαν αἰρομένην περιορᾶν κενὴν μήτε λύχνον σβεννύμενον;

7.5 [703] “Is it the case that it is necessary to guard against the pleasures of degenerate music and how one must do it?”
Ὅτι δεῖ μάλιστα τὰς διὰ τῆς κακομουσίας ἡδονὰς φυλάττεσθαι, καὶ πῶς φυλακτέον;

7.6 [706] “A question about so-called “shadows” and if it is right to go to one person’s dinner at the invitation of others and when this is right and what kinds of hosts it is right for.”
Περὶ τῶν λεγομένων σκιῶν, καὶ εἰ δεῖ βαδίζειν καλούμενον πρὸς ἑτέρους ὑφ᾿ ἑτέρων ἐπὶ δεῖπνον, καὶ πότε, καὶ παρὰ τίνας;
7.7 [710] “is the music of flute girls right while drinking?
Εἰ δεῖ παρὰ πότον αὐλητρίσι χρῆσθαι;

7.8 [712] “What is the best entertainment at dinner?”
Τίσι μάλιστα χρηστέον ἀκροάμασι παρὰ δεῖπνον;

7.9 [714] “is it true that taking council on public affairs while drinking is no less Greek than Persian?”
Ὄτι βουλεύεσθαι παρὰ πότον οὐχ ἧττον ἦν Ἑλληνικὸν ἢ Περσικόν

7.10 [714] “Do those who deliberate while drinking do it well?”
Εἰ καλῶς ἐποίουν βουλευόμενοι παρὰ πότον;

8.1 [717] “About the days on which famous people were born and, in addition on births alleged from divine parents”
Περὶ ἡμερῶν ἐν αἷς γεγόνασί τινες τῶν ἐπιφανῶν· ἐν ᾧ καὶ περὶ τῆς λεγομένης ἐκ θεῶν γενέσεως

8.2 [718] “How did Plato mean that god was always doing geometry.”
Πῶς Πλάτων ἔλεγε τὸν θεὸν ἀεὶ γεωμετρεῖν;

8.3 [720] “Why is night more echoic than the day.”
Διὰ τί τῆς ἡμέρας ἠχωδεστέρα ἡ νύξ;

8.4 [724] “What’s the reason that different athletic competitions have different wreaths but all if them have the palm-frond. Also, why do people call large dates Nicolauses”
Διὰ τί τῶν ἱερῶν ἀγώνων ἄλλος ἄλλον ἔχει στέφανον, τὸν δὲ φοίνικα πάντες· ἐν ᾧ καὶ διὰ τί τὰς μεγάλας φοινικοβαλάνους Νικολάους καλοῦσιν;

8.5 [725] “Why do those who sail take water from the Nile before day?”
Διὰ τί πρὸ ἡμέρας ἐκ τοῦ Νείλου οἱ πλέοντες ὑδρεύονται;

8.6 [725] “Concerning people who come late to dinner. In addition, where the term akratisma [“breakfast”] and ariston [“lunch/breakfast”] and deipnon [“dinner”]
Περὶ τῶν ὀψὲ παραγινομένων ἐπὶ τὸ δεῖπνον· ἐν ᾧ καὶ πόθεν ἀκράτισμα καὶ ἄριστον καὶ δεῖπον ὠνομάσθη;

8.7 [727] “Concerning the Pythagorean injunction against inviting a swallow into the home and not to shake out the bedclothes right after rising.”
Περὶ συμβόλων Πυθαγορικῶν, ἐν οἷς παρεκελεύοντο χελιδόνα οἰκίᾳ. μὴ δέχεσθαι καὶ τὰ στρώματα συνταράττειν εὐθὺς ἀναστάντας

8.8 [728] “What’s the reason that Pythagoreans resist eating fish more than any other creature.”
Διὰ τί μάλιστα οἱ Πυθαγορικοὶ ἐμψύχων τοὺς ἰχθῦς παρῃτοῦντο;

8.9 [731] “Is it possible for new diseases to develop and what are their causes?”
Εἰ δυνατόν ἐστι συστῆναι νοσήματα καινὰ καὶ δι᾿ ἃς αἰτίας;

8.10 [734] “Why do we believe our dreams least in the autumn?”
Διὰ τί τοῖς φθινοπωρινοῖς ἐνυπνίοις ἥκιστα πιστεύομεν;

9.1 [736] “On timely and untimely quotations”
Περὶ στίχων εὐκαίρως ἀναπεφωνημένων καὶ ἀκαίρως;

9.2 [737] “Why is it that alpha is the first letter in the alphabet?”
Τίς αἰτία, δι᾿ ἣν τὸ ἄλφα προτέτακται τῶν στοιχείων;

9.3 [738] “What is the numerical relationship between vowels and semi-vowels?”
Κατὰ ποίαν ἀναλογίαν ὁ τῶν φωνηέντων καὶ ἡμιφώνων ἀριθμὸς συντέτακται;

9.4 [739] “Which of Aphrodite’s hands did Diomedes wound?”
Ποτέραν χεῖρα τῆς Ἀφροδίτης ἔτρωσεν ὁ Διομήδης;

9.5 “Why did Plato claim that Ajax’s soul was the twentieth to come to the drawing of lots?”
Διὰ τί Πλάτων εἰκοστὴν ἔφη τὴν Αἴαντος ψυχὴν ἐπὶ τὸν κλῆρον ἐκθεῖν;

9.6 [740] “What secret meaning does the tale of Poseidon’s defeat have? Also, why did the Athenians skip the second day of the month of Boedromion?”
Τί αἰνίττεται ὁ περὶ τῆς ἥττης τοῦ Ποσειδῶνος μῦθος; ἐν ᾧ καὶ διὰ τί τὴν δευτέραν Ἀθηναῖοι τοῦ Βοηδρομιῶνος ἐξαιροῦσιν;

9.7 [741] “What’s the cause for the division of melodies into a triad?”
Τίς αἰτία τῆς εἰς τριάδα διαιρέσεως τῶν μελῶν;

9.8 [741] “What difference is there between consonant and melodic intervals?”
Τίνι διαφέρει τὰ ἐμμελῆ διαστήματα τῶν συμφώνων;

9.9 [741] “What causes consonance? Also, why, when consonant notes are sounded, does the melody follow the one with lower pitch?”
Τίς αἰτία συμφωνήσεως; ἐν ᾧ καὶ διὰ τί, τῶν συμφώνων ὁμοῦκρουομένων, τοῦ βαρυτέρου γίνεται τὸ μέλος;

9.10 “What’s the reason that, when the sun and moon have equal ecliptic periods, the moon seems to enter into eclipse more often than the sun?”
Διὰ τί, τῶν ἐκλειπτικῶν περιόδων ἡλίου καὶ σελήνης ἰσαρίθμων οὐσῶν,3 ἡ σελήνη φαίνεται πλεονάκις ἐκλείπουσα τοῦ ἡλίου;

I swear, this idea could make me a million dollars.

Breaks and Games in Education

Quintilian  1.3

“Everyone still needs some kind of break, not only because there is no material which can endure endless labor—and even those things which lack perception or life must be guarded in turns of rest in order to protect their strength—but also because studying requires a desire to learn which cannot be compelled.

Once renewed and made fresh, students who often bristle at what is compulsory bring a greater intensity and a sharper mind to learning. Games do not bother me in young students—for this is also a sign of an excited mind—and I do not hope that a sad and always downcast child will come to studies with a sharp mind when the natural energy customary to that age is missing.

But, still, there should be a reasonable balance to breaks so students might not hate their studies when breaks are denied nor get too accustomed to leisure. There are even some games which are helpful for sharpening the wits of students—such as when they compete by asking each other little questions of any kind. Characters also unveil themselves more simply during games. But, no age seems to be so infirm that it cannot learn immediately what is right and wrong and the age especially good for shaping a character is before children know how to dissimulate and still yield to their teachers most easily. For it is faster to break things that have hardened into evil than it is to correct them.”

Danda est tamen omnibus aliqua remissio, non solum quia nulla res est quae perferre possit continuum laborem, atque ea quoque quae sensu et anima carent ut servare vim suam possint velut quiete alterna retenduntur, sed quod studium discendi voluntate, quae cogi non potest, constat. Itaque et virium plus adferunt ad discendum renovati ac recentes et acriorem animum, qui fere necessitatibus repugnat. Nec me offenderit lusus in pueris (est et hoc signum alacritatis), neque illum tristem semperque demissum sperare possim erectae circa studia mentis fore, cum in hoc quoque maxime naturali aetatibus illis impetu iaceat. Modus tamen sit remissionibus, ne aut odium studiorum faciant negatae aut otii consuetudinem nimiae. Sunt etiam nonnulli acuendis puerorum ingeniis non inutiles lusus, cum positis invicem cuiusque generis quaestiunculis aemulantur. Mores quoque se inter ludendum simplicius detegunt: modo nulla videatur aetas tam infirma quae non protinus quid rectum pravumque sit discat, tum vel maxime formanda cum simulandi nescia est et praecipientibus facillime cedit; frangas enim citius quam corrigas quae in pravum induruerunt.

Image result for medieval manuscript student and teachers
From the British Library

Philosophers, Spectators at the Game of Life?

Diogenes Laertius, Pythagoras 8.3

“Sôsikrates, in his Successions, says that when Pythagoras was asked by Leon, the tyrant of the Phliasians, who he was, he said, “a philosopher,” and that he said life was like the Great Games. Some people go there to compete, others go to make money, and the best people go to watch. For in life, some people have a slavish nature and they hunt for glory or profit, while philosophers search for the truth.”

Σωσικράτης δ᾿ ἐν Διαδοχαῖς φησιν αὐτὸν ἐρωτηθέντα ὑπὸ Λέοντος τοῦ Φλιασίων τυράννου τίς εἴη, φιλόσοφος, εἰπεῖν. καὶ τὸν βίον ἐοικέναι πανηγύρει· ὡς οὖν εἰς ταύτην οἱ μὲν ἀγωνιούμενοι, οἱ δὲ κατ᾿ ἐμπορίαν, οἱ δέ γε βέλτιστοι ἔρχονται θεαταί, οὕτως ἐν τῷ βίῳ οἱ μὲν ἀνδραποδώδεις, ἔφη, φύονται δόξης καὶ πλεονεξίας θηραταί, οἱ δὲ φιλόσοφοι τῆς ἀληθείας.

Plato compares life to a game too, just a different one….

Plutarch, De Tranquilitate Animi 467b

“Plato likened life to a dice-game in which we need both to throw what is advantageous and to use the dice well after we’ve thrown them. And when we are subject to chance, if we take good advice, this is our task: though we cannot control the toss, we can accept the outcome luck gives us properly and allot to each event a place in which what is good for us helps the most and what was unplanned aggrieves the least.”

Κυβείᾳ γὰρ ὁ Πλάτων (Resp. 604c) τὸν βίον ἀπείκασεν, ἐν ᾧ καὶ βάλλειν δεῖ τὰ πρόσφορα, καὶ βαλόντα χρῆσθαι καλῶς τοῖς πεσοῦσι. τούτων δὲ τὸ μὲν βάλλειν οὐκ ἐφ’ ἡμῖν, τὸ δὲ προσηκόντως δέχεσθαι τὰ γινόμενα παρὰ τῆς τύχης καὶ νέμειν ἑκάστῳ τόπον, ἐν ᾧ καὶ τὸ οἰκεῖον ὠφελήσει μάλιστα καὶ τὸ ἀβούλητον ἥκιστα λυπήσει τοὺς ἐπιτυγχάνοντας, ἡμέτερον ἔργον ἐστίν, ἂν εὖ φρονῶμεν.

And here is the passage Plutarch is drawing on from the tenth book of the Republic (Plato, Republic 604c-d)

“The best way to deliberate about what has happened is just as we might in the fall of dice: to order our affairs in reference to how the dice have fallen where reason dictates the best place would be, and not to stumble forward like children shocked at the outcome wasting time with crying. Instead, we should always prepare our mind towards addressing what has happened as quickly as possible and to redress what has fallen and what ails, erasing lament [lit. threnody] with treatment*.”

Τῷ βουλεύεσθαι, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ, περὶ τὸ γεγονὸς καὶ ὥσπερ ἐν πτώσει κύβων πρὸς τὰ πεπτωκότα τίθεσθαι τὰ αὑτοῦ πράγματα, ὅπῃ ὁ λόγος αἱρεῖ βέλτιστ’ ἂν ἔχειν, ἀλλὰ μὴ προσπταίσαντας καθάπερ παῖδας ἐχομένους τοῦ πληγέντος ἐν τῷ βοᾶν διατρίβειν, ἀλλ’ ἀεὶ ἐθίζειν τὴν ψυχὴν ὅτι τάχιστα γίγνεσθαι πρὸς τὸ ἰᾶσθαί τε καὶ ἐπανορθοῦν τὸ πεσόν τε καὶ νοσῆσαν, ἰατρικῇ θρηνῳδίαν ἀφανίζοντα.

*ἰατρικῇ: lit. “art of medicine”; some translations use “therapy”.

Image from Wikipedia