On Poets and Fishmongers

Xenarchus’ Porphyra fr. 7 (preserved in Athenaeus’ Deipnosophists, 6. 224-225)

“Poets are ridiculous. They never invent
anything new—each one of them simply
remixes the same things again and again.
But there is no race more creative or profane
than the fishsellers!
Since it is no longer permitted to them to dampen
Their fish, a practice forbidden by the law,
When some man completely hateful to the gods
Saw that his fish were drying, well,
He started a brawl among them quite intentionally
There were punches; he acted as if he were hit hard,
Fell to the ground pretending to pass out lying
Among his fish. Someone shouted “water, water”!
And a different guy grabbed a pitcher and poured it out—
A little on the man, but the rest on the fish!
You would have claimed they’d just been caught!”

Fish Vase

Google “Ancient Greek Fish Vase”

οἱ μὲν ποιηταὶ (φησὶ) λῆρός εἰσιν· οὐδὲ ἓν
καινὸν γὰρ εὑρίσκουσιν, ἀλλὰ μεταφέρει
ἕκαστος αὐτῶν ταὔτ’ ἄνω τε καὶ κάτω.
τῶν δ’ ἰχθυοπωλῶν φιλοσοφώτερον γένος
οὐκ ἔστιν οὐδὲν οὐδὲ μᾶλλον ἀνόσιον.
ἐπεὶ γὰρ αὐτοῖς οὐκέτ’ ἔστ’ ἐξουσία
ῥαίνειν, ἀπείρηται δὲ τοῦτο τῷ νόμῳ,
εἷς τις θεοῖσιν ἐχθρὸς ἄνθρωπος πάνυ
ξηραινομένους ὡς εἶδε τοὺς ἰχθῦς, μάχην
ἐποίησ’ ἐν αὐτοῖς ἐξεπίτηδες εὖ πάνυ.
ἦσαν δὲ πληγαί, καιρίαν δ’ εἰληφέναι
δόξας καταπίπτει καὶ λιποψυχεῖν δοκῶν
ἔκειτο μετὰ τῶν ἰχθύων. βοᾷ δέ τις
‘ὕδωρ <ὕδωρ.>’ ὃ δ’ εὐθὺς ἐξάρας πρόχουν
τῶν ὁμοτέχνων τις τοῦ μὲν ἀκαρῆ παντελῶς
κατέχει, κατὰ δὲ τῶν ἰχθύων ἁπαξάπαν.
εἴποις γ’ ἂν αὐτοὺς ἀρτίως ἡλωκέναι.

Snakehead and Boys in the Street: Plato the Comic on Politics (Two Fragments)

This is from Plato the Attic Comedian, not the Attic Philosopher. Who knew there were at least 30 men with the same name?

Plato, Fr. 202 (Stobaeus, 2.3.3)

“If one wicked person
perishes, then two politicians grow in his place.
For there is no Iolaus* in the city
Who might cauterize the politicians’ heads.
If you’ve been bent over, then you’ll be a politician.”

῍Ην γὰρ ἀποθάνῃ
εἷς τις πονηρός, δύ’ ἀνέφυσαν ῥήτορες•
οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἡμῖν ᾿Ιόλεως ἐν τῇ πόλει,
ὅστις ἐπικαύσει τὰς κεφαλὰς τῶν ῥητόρων.
κεκολλόπευκας• τοιγαροῦν ῥήτωρ ἔσει.

*Iolaus is Herakles’ nephew who helped the hero kill the Hydra by cauterizing its necks to prevent new heads from growing.

Platôn, Alliance (fr. 168)

“They are like those boys who each time they draw a line
in the street to divide themselves into two groups
stand with some of them on one side of the line and some on the other.
One who stands in the middle of the two hurls a pot sherd–
If the white side faces up, one group must flee right away
And the others must chase them.”

Εἴξασιν γὰρ τοῖς παιδαρίοις τούτοις, οἳ ἑκάστοτε γραμμήν
ἐν ταῖσιν ὁδοῖς διαγράψαντες διανειμάμενοι δίχ’ ἑαυτούς
ἑστᾶσ’, αὐτῶν οἱ μὲν ἐκεῖθεν τῆς γράμμης οἱ δ’ αὖ ἐκεῖθεν•
εἷς δ’ ἀμφοτέρων ὄστρακον αὐτοῖς εἰς μέσον ἑστὼς ἀνίησιν,
κἂν μὲν πίπτῃσι τὰ λεύκ’ ἐπάνω, φεύγειν ταχὺ τοὺς ἑτέρους δεῖ,
τοὺς δὲ διώκειν.

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