“In India, if an adult elephant is caught it is difficult to tame—it gets murderous from longing for freedom. If you bind it in chains too, it gets even more agitated and will not tolerate its master. But Indians try to pacify it with food and to soften it with a variety of pleasing items, making an effort to fill its stomach and delight its heart. But it remains angry with them and ignores them. What then do they devise and do? They encourage it with their native music and sing to a certain instrument they use. It is called a skindapsos. The instrument strikes the ears and enchants the animal—his anger softens and his spirit yields and bit by bit it pays attention to its food. At this point it is released from its chains and it waits, enthralled by the music, and it eats eagerly, like a guest in love with a banquet. The elephant will no longer leave because of his love of music.”
“The persuasion intrinsic to speech also shapes the mind as it pleases. We must first consider the narratives of astronomers who, by undermining one idea and developing another one, alter beliefs and make the incredible and invisible manifest to the eyes of belief. In turn, consider the necessary struggles in which one argument delights and persuades a great crowd when it has been written skillfully, even if it is spoken falsely. Finally, consider the rivalrous claims of philosophers which feature as well the speed of opinion that engenders volatility in the fidelity of a belief.”
“The power of speech has the same logic regarding the disposition of the soul as that of the application of drugs to the natural function of bodies. For, just as certain drugs dispel certain afflictions from the body, and some end disease while others end life, so too are there stories that create grief and others that cause pleasure; some send us running, others make their audiences bold. Others still intoxicate and deceive the soul though some evil persuasion.”
“Pythagoras the son of Mnêsarkhos was present among these men, and first he was toiling over learning and arithmetic and later he did not condemn the omen reading of Pherecydes.
For also in Metapontios when a ship was approaching carrying a cargo and there were people nearby praying for it to arrive safe because of its cargo, he stood and said this, “this ship will appear to you, like a corpse carrying a body”
And again in Kaulônia, as Aristotle says when he is writing about this, he says many other things, and in Turrênia, he says he bit the deadly snake who was biting him and killed him. He also foretold the strife that occurred among the Pythagoreans. For this reason he went to Metapontios and was seen by no one.
And after crossing the river near Kosa with others he heard a great voice beyond human ability: “Hello, Pythagoras.” And those present became very frightened. He also once appeared both in Kroton and Metapontios in the same day and hour.
While he was seated once in the theater, he stretched out and showed to those who were seated that his own thigh was gold. There are other impossible stories about him too. But we should stop the account about him because we don’t want to write only about him.”
But look at the way that his child—whom he thought better to have assigned to the daughter of Epilykos—was born and how he [Kallias] fathered him. For this is really worth hearing, men. First, he married the daughter of Isomakhos. After living with her for not even a year, he took her mother as a lover and this most wicked of all men lived with mother and daughter—he was priest for both mother and daughter and he had them both in his home.
And this man was not ashamed enough to fear the god. But Isomakhos’ daughter, when she understood what was happening, decided to die rather than live. She was rescued in the middle of hanging herself and when she survived, she left, kicked out of his house: the mother drove out the daughter! But when he had his fill of her, he drove the mother out too! But she claimed she was pregnant by him. And he swore that the child did not come from him.”
“Next, let’s consider the way we learn, since learning happens wither through experience or through speech. But of these two approaches, experience comes from this which are demonstrable, the demonstrable is clear, and the clear—because it is obvious—is available to all in common. Such perception which is available to all in common is unteachable. Hence, anything apprehended through experience is not teachable.
Speech either corresponds to some meaning or it does not. If it corresponds to no meaning at all, then it teaches nothing. When it does correspond to some meaning it does it either by intrinsic nature or by established convention. It cannot, in truth correspond to meaning by intrinsic nature since not all people understand the same meaning when they hear it (as when the Greeks listen to barbarians or the barbarians listen to Greeks).
If speech signals meaning by convention, it is clear that people who have absorbed before the meanings to which these words correspond will also comprehend them now, and not because they have learned from them something which was not known—it is more like they are resuscitating what they knew before, while those who lack learning of what they don’t know will not do the same.”
“Some people who know a lot about fishing claim that the stomach of a sea-horse—if someone dissolves it in wine after boiling it and gives it to someone to drink—is an extraordinary potion combined with wine, when compared to other medicines. For, at first, the most severe retching overcomes anyone who drinks it and then a dry coughing fit takes over even though he vomits nothing at all, and then: the upper part of his stomach grows and swells; warm spells roll over his head; and, finally, snot pours from his nose and releases a fishy smell. Then his eyes turn blood-red and heated while his eye-lids swell up.
They claim that a desire to vomit overwhelms him but that he can bring nothing up. If nature wins, then he evades death and slips away into forgetfulness and insanity. But if the wine permeates his lower stomach, there is nothing to be done, and the individual dies eventually. Those who do survive, once they have wandered into insanity, are gripped by a great desire for water: they thirst to sea water and hear it splashing. And this, at least, soothes them and makes them sleep. Then they like to spend their time either by endlessly flowing rivers or near seashores or next to streams or some lakes. And even though they don’t want to drink, they love to swim, to put their feet in the water, and to wash their hands.”
“Free your cities of these kinds of troubles and send us a smart person eager for work, someone who will act more than they prattle, who will persuade more than force, and who will help the poor and not wear them down, someone who will understand what is possible and what is not along with the right time for abuse and the right time for threats.
Altogether, someone nothing like the plague here.”
“At that time, it seems likely that bears, lions, panthers and those animals in India—elephants and tigers—and however many other creates have unconquerable valor and strength will shift from loneliness and isolation to a shared life. From imitating herd animals they will slowly become tame in the presence of human beings.
After this, they will no longer coil in anger as before, but some will be flabbergasted and behave humbly as if before a leader or natural master and others will get happily excited, showing domesticated affection and love just like those little dogs who signal their giddiness with wagging tails. Then, too, the races of scorpions and snakes and the other creepy critters will leave their venom unused.”
Phlegon of Trailes, On Amazing Things: Multiple Births 28-32
“Antigonos also records that in Alexandria one woman gave birth to twenty children in four labors and that she raised most of them
Another woman in the same city produced five children in a single birth; three were male and two were female. The emperor Trajan ordered for them to be raised on his own funds.
Another woman gave birth to three different children in one year.
Hippostratos says in his work On Minos, that Aiguptos fathered fifty sons from Eururroê, the daughter of the Nile.
Similarly, Danaus had fifty daughters from one wife, Eurôpê, the daughter of the Nile.
Krateros, the brother of Antigonos that king, says that he knew of a certain person who in a seven year period was a child, an adolescent, a man and an old man and that he died after getting married and having children.
Megasthenes claims that the women who live in Padaia give birth when they are seven years old.”
7 “Along a road in Syracuse there is a stream which is neither large nor carries a lot of water; but when a great mob comes to the place and there is a great sound it provides endless water, as Aristotle says.”
8 “In Paliakoi there is a spring which hurls water up six cubits high, making an impression that it is about to wash over the bordering places. But on the whole it doesn’t splash over anything. The people who live there swear their greatest oaths on this spring, as Isigonos records in the second book of his On Unbelievable Things.”
9 “Around the Skotoussa in Thessaly there is a little thing of a spring which heals all the wounds of unthinking animals. If someone breaks wood a little and throws it in after splitting it, it will be repaired. Thus the water is like glue, as Isigonos claims.”