Aeneas Tacticus, Fragments LI: on the Sending of Messages”
“People who plan to work with traitors need to know how to send messages. Send them like this. Have a man be sent openly carrying some note about other matters. Have a different letter be secretly placed under the sole of the sandals of the person carrying the first message. Sew it between the layers and have it inscribed on tin to be safeguarded against mud and water.
Once the messenger has arrived to his destination and he has rested for the night, let the intended recipient remove the stitches from the sandals, take the message out, write a response secretly, and send the messenger back once he has written some public message to carry openly. In this way, not even the messenger will know what he carries.”
“Remember that Socrates’ body was thought to be orderly and in control of wisdom for this reason too. When the Athenians were suffering a pandemic and some were dying and others were near death, Socrates was the only one who was not sick. What mind do we think shared space with such a body?”
“Do these practices merely make a refinement of the senses or establish power over the greatest and most amazing forces? You need to see what I mean from different things, not the least of which were done during that epidemic in Ephesus.
When the disease was in the shape of an old beggar, I saw it and once I saw it I tackled it. I did not stop the disease but instead I destroyed it. The one I prayed to is clear as day in the temple which I built in thanks. It was for Herakles the Defender, the one I chose as a helper—because he is wise and brave, he once cleansed Elis of a plague and wiped away the waves of filth which the earth released when Augeas was tyrant.”
“The stoics say that once the planets return into the same sign and location where each one was at the beginning when the universe first arose, in that appointed circuit of time there is a burning and purging of existence and everything returns necessarily to the same order. Each of the stars that travels again ends up indistinguishable from how they were in the previous cycle.
They say that Socrates will be there again along with Plato and each of the people with them and their friends, and their fellow citizens. They will experience the same things, do the same things, and try their hand at the same things; and every city, village, and field will be the same. This re-creation of everything happens not once but often
In the boundless space, the things turn out the same without this completion. The gods, because they do not submit to that destruction and have become away from just one cycle, know everything that is going to happen in subsequent eras from a single turn. There’s nothing different in what happens from before but everything is indistinguishable down to the smallest detail.”
“Is there truly some power of the cold, Favorinus, a principle and substantial thing, just as fire is the principle power of heat, by the presence of and through sharing of which each thing becomes cold? Or is coldness the subtraction of warmth just as people say that darkness is bereavement of life and stillness the absence of movement? Cold does seem to be still while warm has movement while the cooling of higher temperatures occurs by no presence of a force but instead thanks to the separation of heat. For heat appears to leave at the very same time that the rest of a substance cools. And steam, which water emits as it boils, escapes with the passing of the warmth. For this reason the larger amount loses mass when it cools as it loses the heat and nothing else replaces it.
As a starting point, shouldn’t someone be suspicious of this argument that it denies many types of forces by defining them not as characteristics or aspects but instead as the opposite of aspects and characteristics—for example, weight is the negation of lightness, hardness the absence of softness, black the opposite of whiteness, bitter of sweet, and of these rest of matters each develops an opposite force rather than mere negation….”
“Just as masks seem frightening and awful to children because of their inexperience, so too do we suffer something similar to current events—it is not different from how children respond to bogeymen. For what is childish? Ignorance. What else is childish? Lack of learning. When a child has learned something, they are no worse off than we are.
What is death? A bogeyman. Turn it around, get personal with it. Look! How can it bite? This little body needs to be separated from the spirit just as it was once before, either now or some time later. Why is it troubling if it happens now? If it doesn’t, it will later. Why? So that the cycle of the universe doesn’t stop. It requires everything that exists now, all things that will happen, and all those that happened before.
What is pain? It’s a bogeyman. Turn it around and get comfortable with it…”
“Let that be enough said concerning the topic of the mixture of humors in contemporary exercise, since the ancient practice had no concept of the mixture but worked on strength alone. Ancient authors mean any type of exercise at all when they use the term ‘gymnastic’. Some people used to exercise by carrying weights which were not easy to carry; others attempted to match the speed of horses and hares; others still used to straighten and bend thick pieces of worked iron. Others yoked themselves alongside strong, wagon-pulling oxen and others used to try to strangle bulls or even lions.
These things were the training regimen of the Polymêstors, the Glaukoi, the Alesiai, and Poulydamas of Skotussa. The hands of the boxer Tisander used to obtain their exercise by carrying him as he swam around the head of the island and deep into the sea. Rivers and springs cleansed the men of old and they were in the practice of sleeping on the ground, some making their beds from skins and others fashioning them from the meadows. Their food were barley cakes or bread which was unsifted and unleavened. They ate the meat of cows, bulls, and goats, and they oiled themselves from wild olives.
This is how they avoided sickness and grew old only late in life. Some of them even competed for eight or nine Olympiads and they were also good warriors. They fought defending their city walls and did not fall there, but were considered worthy of recognition and trophies, since they used warfare as training for sports and sports to train for war.
When the state of affairs changed and they become inexperienced of fighting, lazy rather than vigorous, and soft instead of hard, then Sicilian delicacy overpowered their diet. This is when the athletic fields were weakened and, then even more, when flattery was made part of exercise.”
“Three books were composed by Pythagoras: Education, Politics, and Nature. But the one which is circulated as by him is really by Lysis of Tarentum, a Pythagorean, who was an exile in Thebes and a tutor to Epaminondas. Herakleides, the son of Sarapiôn, reports in his Epitome of Sotion that Pythagoras also wrote On Everything in epic verse, and, in addition, The Sacred Word which begins: “Young men, hold all these things in reverence with silence.”
Heracleides adds to this list third On the Soul, fourth, On Poetry, fifth, Helothales the Father of Epicharmus of Cos, sixth, Croton, and other works too. He also says that the Mystical Word was written by Hippasos to slander Pythagoras and that many works written by Aston of Kroton were misascribed to Pythagoras. Aristoxenos says that Pythagoras received most of his ethical beliefs from Themistokleia at Delphi.”
“A life without parties is a long journey without inns.”
βίος ἀνεόρταστος μακρὴ ὁδὸς ἀπανδόκευτος.
Plato, Laws 653d
“Great. Now, since many of these kinds of education—which accustom us to correctly manage pleasures and pains—lose their effectiveness during life, the gods took pity on the human race because it is born to toil and assigned to us as well parties as vacations from our toil. In addition, they have also given us the Muses, Apollo the master of music, and Dionysus as party-guests so that people can straighten out their habits because they are present at the festival with the gods.”
“Certainly we have furnished our mind with the greatest reliefs from our labors, maintaining games and feasts throughout the year in public and in private living with care and finery, all those things which provide pleasure to expel our grief. Because of the greatness of our city, everything comes to us from the earth and we are lucky enough to harvest all of the goods from our own land with no less familiar pleasure than those we gather from other peoples.”
22. “And, look, Joseph was prepared to leave to Judea and there was trouble in Bethlehem. For the Magi had come from the East in Persia, saying, “Where is the child born King of the Jews? For we saw his star in the East and we have come to bow before him. When Herod heard this, he was upset and he sent attendants to the Magi and he also summoned the high priests and asked them, “Where has this “Christ” been born?” and they answered, “In Bethlehem of Judea—for it was written thus.” And he let them go. Then he questioned the Magi, saying to them, “What sign did you see for a king who was born?” And the magi said to him, we say the greatest start blazing among the these stars and making them seem dull. We knew from this that a king had been born for Israel. For this reason we came to bow before him.” And Herod responded, “Go and seek out the child carefully. And when he is found, send me news of it so that I can go and bow to him too.
And so the Magi left and, look, the star which they saw in the east led them on until they came to that place where the cave protected the child’s head. And when they saw him with his mother Mary, they bowed and took from their strongboxes the gifts they brought: gold, frankincense and myrrh. Because they had been warned by a sacred angel not to enter Judea near Herod, they took another route to return to their country.
22 But once Herod figured out that he had been evaded by the Magi, he was enraged and he sent assassins whom he ordered to kill all infants under two years. Once Mary heard that the infants were being killed, she took her child in fear and left to Egypt with Joseph, just as was predicated to them. But when Elisabeth took John and went into the hills and looked around for a place to hide him, there was no safe sanctuary. Then, she said as she cried, “Mountain, mountain—take a mother with her child. For she was not able to leave. And then suddenly, the mountain split into two and welcomed her. The mountain itself was alight for them and there was an angel of the lord looking over them.”
19. And then I saw a woman walking from the hills and she said to me, “Man, where are you going? And I said to her, “I am looking for a midwife.” And she answered, “From Israel?” and I said to her, “Yes, mistress.” And She said to me, “Who is the woman who is giving birth in the cave?” and I said, “She is my betrothed.” And she responded, “She is not your wife?” and I said to her, “She is Mary and I drew her as my lot to be a wife, but she was raised in the Holiest of Holies. And she is not my wife, but she has become pregnant from the holy spirit. And she said, “Tell me the truth,” and I told her, “Come and see.” And she left with him.”
They stood were the cave was and there was a cloud shading over it. The midwife said, “My soul is ennobled this day because I recognize a new sight and a miracle—since a savior is born for Israel.” Then, immediately, the cloud withdrew from the cave and a great light appeared in it which our eyes could not bear. Soon, that light too receded until the infant appeared and took the breast of its mother Mary.
Then the midwife shouted out, “Today is a great day because I have seen a new wonder.” And then the midwife left the cave and met Salôme and said to her, “Salôme, Salôme, I have a new wonder to explain to you. A virgin gave birth, a thing which human nature does not allow.” And Salôme said, “As the Lord God lives, if I do not see this—if I do not put my hand into her—I will not believe that a virgin gave birth.”
And Salôme entered the cave and said, “Maria, prepare yourself, for no small test of you is at hand.” Then she examined her. And Salôme yelled out and cried, saying, “Oh, my lawlessness and lack of faith, that I tested the living God. And look, my hand is burning and falling away. Then Salôme bent her knees and said toward her Lord, “the God of our fathers, remember me, that I am the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jakob—do not make an example of me before the sons of Israel, but return my poverty to me. And, look, an angel of the Lord appeared saying to Salôme, “Salôme, Salôme, the Lord God heard your prayer. Come near the child and lift him up and he will be your safety.”
Then Salôme went to the child and lifted him up and said, “Truly, a great king has been born to Israel.” Then she was suddenly healed and she left the cave filled with justice. And, look, a voice sounded out and said, “Salôme, Salôme, do not spread the news of the miracles you have witness around until the child enters Jerusalem.”