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.

Herakles and Iolaus Mosaic

Untroubled as Day Passes to Night?

Euripides, Herakles Mainomenos 502-507

“I guess it is necessary that we die.
Old men—the matters of life are brief,
So complete this course as sweetly as you can,
Going untroubled as the days pass to night.

Time has no idea how to keep hope alive;
No, it hurries on for itself and flits away.

Just look at me: I was once something special to look at,
Famous for my deeds, but luck stole me away
In a single day, just like a feather on the wind.”

θανεῖν γάρ, ὡς ἔοικ’, ἀναγκαίως ἔχει.
ἀλλ’, ὦ γέροντες, σμικρὰ μὲν τὰ τοῦ βίου,
τοῦτον δ’ ὅπως ἥδιστα διαπεράσατε
ἐξ ἡμέρας ἐς νύκτα μὴ λυπούμενοι.
ὡς ἐλπίδας μὲν ὁ χρόνος οὐκ ἐπίσταται
σώιζειν, τὸ δ’ αὑτοῦ σπουδάσας διέπτατο.
ὁρᾶτ’ ἔμ’ ὅσπερ ἦ περίβλεπτος βροτοῖς
ὀνομαστὰ πράσσων, καί μ’ ἀφείλεθ’ ἡ τύχη
ὥσπερ πτερὸν πρὸς αἰθέρ’ ἡμέραι μιᾶι.

Hercules and the Hesperides, by G. A. Pellegrini

He Killed Her Father, then Married Her: A Love Story

Hes. fr. 195.1-23 (= Hes. Aspis 1-23)

“Or, as she did, when she left her home and paternal land
And came to Thebes to warlike Amphitryon,
Alkmênê, the daughter of host-rallying Êlektruôn.
She, really, surpassed the whole race of women
In appearance and stature. And no one could rival her mind
Of the women who were born from mortal women who slept with mortal men.
From her head and dark eyebrows [it shone]
Just like from the sight of golden Aphrodite.
And in her heart she honored her husband as
None of the female women had ever honored before.
But he killed her noble father after overcoming him in force,
After he was enraged over some cattle. He left his paternal land
And came to supplicate the shield-shaking Kadmeans.
He lived in a home there with his revered wife
But he did not have sex with her, he could not climb
Into the bed of Êlektruôn’s fine-ankled daughter, until he
Atoned for the murder of her great-hearted brothers
And burned down the villages of the heroes
The Taphians and Têleboans with fire.
For this is how it was decided, and the gods were witnesses.
He feared their rage, and pushed as fast as possible
To complete the great task Zeus had set for him.”

Image result for alcmene and amphitryon

… ῍Η οἵη προλιποῦσα δόμους καὶ πατρίδα γαῖαν
ἤλυθεν ἐς Θήβας μετ’ ἀρήιον ᾿Αμφιτρύωνα
᾿Αλκμήνη, θυγάτηρ λαοσσόου ᾿Ηλεκτρύωνος·
ἥ ῥα γυναικῶν φῦλον ἐκαίνυτο θηλυτεράων
εἴδεΐ τε μεγέθει τε· νόον γε μὲν οὔ τις ἔριζε
τάων ἃς θνηταὶ θνητοῖς τέκον εὐνηθεῖσαι.
τῆς καὶ ἀπὸ κρῆθεν βλεφάρων τ’ ἄπο κυανεάων
τοῖον ἄηθ’ οἷόν τε πολυχρύσου ᾿Αφροδίτης.
ἣ δὲ καὶ ὣς κατὰ θυμὸν ἑὸν τίεσκεν ἀκοίτην,
ὡς οὔ πώ τις ἔτισε γυναικῶν θηλυτεράων·
ἦ μέν οἱ πατέρ’ ἐσθλὸν ἀπέκτανε ἶφι δαμάσσας,
χωσάμενος περὶ βουσί· λιπὼν δ’ ὅ γε πατρίδα γαῖαν
ἐς Θήβας ἱκέτευσε φερεσσακέας Καδμείους.
ἔνθ’ ὅ γε δώματ’ ἔναιε σὺν αἰδοίῃ παρακοίτι
νόσφιν ἄτερ φιλότητος ἐφιμέρου, οὐδέ οἱ ἦεν
πρὶν λεχέων ἐπιβῆναι ἐυσφύρου ᾿Ηλεκτρυώνης
πρίν γε φόνον τείσαιτο κασιγνήτων μεγαθύμων
ἧς ἀλόχου, μαλερῷ δὲ καταφλέξαι πυρὶ κώμας
ἀνδρῶν ἡρώων Ταφίων ἰδὲ Τηλεβοάων.
τὼς γάρ οἱ διέκειτο, θεοὶ δ’ ἐπὶ μάρτυροι ἦσαν·
τῶν ὅ γ’ ὀπίζετο μῆνιν, ἐπείγετο δ’ ὅττι τάχιστα
ἐκτελέσαι μέγα ἔργον, ὅ οἱ Διόθεν θέμις ἦεν.

Herakles and Indian Marriage Practices

Note: This may be the worst story I have ever read about Herakles

Arrian, Historia Indica, 9

“In this land, where Herakles’ daughter ruled, women come to the age of marriage when they are six years old, while the men live to be forty years at the most. There is also a story circulated about this among the Indians. They say that Herakles, who had this daughter when he was late in years, learned that his own death was near. Because he could not find any man near he considered worthy to marry his daughter, he had sex with her himself when she was seven so that he would leave a race of Indian kings descended through her. And he made this the age of marriage for those descended from her. And from that time Pandaia ruled over this whole race, which took this right from her through Herakles.

It seems to me that since Herakles did many amazing things he would have been able to make himself lover-lived so that he might have sex with his child at a more appropriate time. But if these details about the age of marriage for women there are true, then it seems that they accord in some way with the age of men who die at the oldest in their forties. For old age comes more quickly to them and death follows old age. Therefore, I guess, the peak of life blooms more rapidly, by this logic.  So, a month them, men of thirty would, I guess, be like old men; twenty-somethings would be like men in their prime, and the peak of youth would come around age 15. By this logic, the age of marriage for women would appropriately come around age 7—since Megasthenes says that in this land fruit ripens more quickly than in other places and turns rotten quickly as well.”

 

ἐν δὲ τῇ χώρῃ ταύτῃ, ἵνα ἐβασίλευσεν ἡ θυγάτηρ τοῦ ῾Ηρακλέος, τὰς μὲν γυναῖκας ἑπταέτεις ἐούσας ἐς ὥρην γάμου ἰέναι, τοὺς δὲ ἄνδρας τεσσαράκοντα ἔτεα τὰ πλεῖστα βιώσκεσθαι. καὶ ὑπὲρ τούτου λεγόμενον λόγον εἶναι παρὰ ᾿Ινδοῖσιν. ῾Ηρακλέα, ὀψιγόνου οἱ γενομένης τῆς παιδός, ἐπεί τε δὴ ἐγγὺς ἔμαθεν ἑαυτῷ ἐοῦσαν τὴν τελευτήν, οὐκ ἔχοντα ὅτῳ ἀνδρὶ ἐκδῷ τὴν παῖδα ἑωυτοῦ ἐπαξίῳ, αὐτὸν μιγῆναι τῇ παιδὶ ἑπταέτεϊ ἐούσῃ, ὡς γένος ἐξ οὗ τε κἀκείνης ὑπολείπεσθαι ᾿Ινδῶν βασιλέας. ποιῆσαι ὦν αὐτὴν ῾Ηρακλέα ὡραίην γάμου· καὶ ἐκ τοῦδε ἅπαν τὸ γένος τοῦτο ὅτου ἡ Πανδαίη ἐπῆρξε, ταὐτὸν τοῦτο γέρας ἔχειν παρὰ ῾Ηρακλέος. ἐμοὶ δὲ δοκεῖ, εἴπερ ὦν τὰ ἐς τοσόνδε ἄτοπα ῾Ηρακλέης οἷός τε ἦν ἐξεργάζεσθαι, κἂν αὑτὸν ἀποφῆναι μακροβιώτερον, ὡς ὡραίῃ μιγῆναι τῇ παιδί. ἀλλὰ γὰρ εἰ ταῦτα ὑπὲρ τῆς ὥρης τῶν ταύτῃ παίδων ἀτρεκέα ἐστίν, ἐς ταὐτὸν φέρειν δοκεῖ ἔμοιγε ἐς ὅ τι περ καὶ <τὰ> ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀνδρῶν τῆς ἡλικίης ὅτι τεσσαρακοντούτεες ἀποθνήσκουσιν οἱ πρεσβύτατοι αὐτῶν. οἷς γὰρ τό τε γῆρας τοσῷδε ταχύτερον

ἐπέρχεται καὶ ὁ θάνατος ὁμοῦ τῷ γήρᾳ, πάντως που καὶ ἡ ἀκμὴ πρὸς λόγον τοῦ τέλεος ταχυτέρη ἐπανθέει. ὥστε τριακοντούτεες μὲν ὠμογέροντες ἄν που εἶεν αὐτοῖσιν οἱ ἄνδρες, εἴκοσι δὲ ἔτεα γεγονότες οἱ ἔξω ἥβης νεηνίσκοι, ἡ δὲ ἀκροτάτη ἥβη ἀμφὶ τὰ πεντεκαίδεκα ἔτεα· καὶ τῇσι γυναιξὶν ὥρη τοῦ γάμου κατὰ λόγον ἂν οὕτω ἐς τὰ ἑπτὰ ἔτεα συμβαίνοι. καὶ γὰρ τοὺς καρποὺς ἐν ταύτῃ τῇ χώρῃ πεπαίνεσθαί τε ταχύτερον [μὲν] τῆς ἄλλης αὐτὸς οὗτος Μεγασθένης ἀνέγραψεν καὶ φθίνειν ταχύτερον.

Herakles in India: Discovering and Hoarding Pearls

More on India from a Roman Greek:

Arrian, Historia Indica 8

“When Dionysus was leaving India because he had put everything in good order, he set up Spatembas as king of the land, one of his companions who was the most Bacchic. When he died, he left the kingdom to his son Bouduas—the first ruled the Indians for 52 years, the second for 20. His son Kraduas inherited the kingship. For the most part thereafter the rule passed from father to son. If a blood-heir was absent, the Indians selected kings according to who was best. Then Herakles—as the story goes he came to India and the Indians claim he was born from the earth. This Heracles is especially worshiped by the Sourasênians, an Indian people who have two great cities, Methora and Kleisobora. The passable river Iômanês flows through their land. Megasthenes claims that this Herakles wore a similar apparel to the Theban Herakles, as the Indian themselves claim. This Herakles had many male children born to him in India (for he took many wives, this Herakles) but he only had one daughter. This child’s name was Pandaia and the land in which she was born and over which Herakles gave her authority was named after her. From her father she received five hundred elephants, 4000 cavalry, and 132,000 infantrymen.

A rather select group of Indians tell this story about Herakles, that once he had crossed the whole earth and the sea destroying whatever was evil, he uncovered in the sea a new kind of female jewelry, the type which even today those merchants who come here buying and selling goods acquire eagerly, which Romans and Greeks who were very wealthy bought with even greater excitement, which they call the ocean pearl in the Indian tongue. Herakles, because he thought it was a great possession, gathered pearls from every sea and brought them to India to be jewelry for his own daughter.

Megasthenes also says that the mussel-shell is caught in nets, that they often find many shells together in the sea in the same place, just like bees. And that pearl-mussels have a king or queen just like bees. Whoever is lucky enough to catch the king, gathers together the rest of the swarm easily. If the king gets away, then it is not possible to catch the rest. Fishermen allow the flesh of the mussel to rot, but they use the shells for decoration. Among the Indians, the pearl is worth three times its weight in gold, which is also mined in India.”

Heracles Bahram
Bahram as Herakles, 2nd Century BCE, Iran

ἀπιόντα δὲ ἐκ τῆς ᾿Ινδῶν γῆς, ὥς οἱ ταῦτα κεκοσμέατο, καταστῆσαι βασιλέα τῆς χώρης Σπατέμβαν, τῶν ἑταίρων ἕνα τὸν βακχωδέστατον· τελευτήσαντος δὲ Σπατέμβα τὴν βασιληίην ἐκδέξασθαι Βουδύαν τὸν τούτου παῖδα. καὶ τὸν μὲν πεντήκοντα καὶ δύο ἔτεα βασιλεῦσαι ᾿Ινδῶν, τὸν πατέρα, τὸν δὲ παῖδα εἴκοσιν ἔτεα. καὶ τούτου παῖδα ἐκδέξασθαι τὴν βασιληίην Κραδεύαν, καὶ τὸ ἀπὸ τοῦδε τὸ πολὺ μὲν κατὰ γένος ἀμείβειν τὴν βασιληίην, παῖδα παρὰ πατρὸς ἐκδεχόμενον· εἰ δὲ ἐκλείποι τὸ γένος, οὕτω δὴ ἀριστίνδην καθίστασθαι ᾿Ινδοῖσι βασιλέας. ῾Ηρακλέα δέ, ὅντινα ἐς ᾿Ινδοὺς ἀφικέσθαι λόγος κατέχει, παρ’ αὐτοῖσιν ᾿Ινδοῖσι γηγενέα λέγεσθαι. τοῦτον τὸν ῾Ηρακλέα μάλιστα πρὸς Σουρασηνῶν γεραίρεσθαι, ᾿Ινδικοῦ ἔθνεος, ἵνα δύο πόληες μεγάλαι, Μέθορά τε καὶ Κλεισόβορα· καὶ ποταμὸς ᾿Ιωμάνης πλωτὸς διαρρεῖ τὴν  χώρην αὐτῶν· τὴν σκευὴν δὲ οὗτος ὁ ῾Ηρακλέης ἥντινα ἐφόρεε Μεγασθένης λέγει ὅτι ὁμοίην τῷ Θηβαίῳ ῾Ηρακλεῖ, ὡς αὐτοὶ ᾿Ινδοὶ ἀπηγέονται. καὶ τούτῳ ἄρσενας μὲν παῖδας πολλοὺς κάρτα γενέσθαι ἐν τῇ ᾿Ινδῶν γῇ—πολλῇσι γὰρ δὴ γυναιξὶν ἐς γάμον ἐλθεῖν καὶ τοῦτον τὸν ῾Ηρακλέα—, θυγατέρα δὲ μουνογενέην. οὔνομα δὲ εἶναι τῇ παιδὶ Πανδαίην, καὶ τὴν χώρην,ἵνα τε ἐγένετο καὶ ἧστινος ἐπέτρεψεν αὐτῇ ἄρχειν ῾Ηρακλέης, Πανδαίην <καλεῖσθαι> τῆς παιδὸς ἐπώνυμον. καὶ ταύτῃ ἐλέφαντας μὲν γενέσθαι ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς ἐς πεντακοσίους, ἵππον δὲ ἐς τετρακισχιλίην, πεζῶν δὲ ἐς τὰς τρεῖς καὶ δέκα μυριάδας. καὶ τάδε μετεξέτεροι ᾿Ινδῶν περὶ ῾Ηρακλέους λέγουσιν, ἐπελθόντα αὐτὸν πᾶσαν γῆν καὶ θάλασσαν καὶ καθήραντα ὅ τι περ κακόν, καινὸν εἶδος ἐξευρεῖν ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ κόσμου γυναικηίου, ὅντινα καὶ εἰς τοῦτο ἔτι οἵ τε ἐξ ᾿Ινδῶν τῆς χώρης τὰ ἀγώγιμα παρ’ ἡμέας ἀγινέοντες σπουδῇ ὠνεόμενοι ἐκκομίζουσι, καὶ ῾Ελλήνων δὲ πάλαι καὶ ῾Ρωμαίων νῦν ὅσοι πολυκτέανοι καὶ εὐδαίμονες μέζονι ἔτι σπουδῆ ὠνέονται, τὸν μαργαρίτην δὴ τὸν θαλάσσιον οὕτω τῇ ᾿Ινδῶν γλώσσῃ καλεόμενον. τὸν γὰρ ῾Ηρακλέα, ὡς καλόν οἱ ἐφάνη τὸ φόρημα, ἐκ πάσης τῆς θαλάσσης ἐς τὴν ᾿Ινδῶν γῆν συναγινέειν τὸν μαργαρίτην δὴ τοῦτον, τῇ θυγατρὶ τῇ ἑωυτοῦ εἶναι κόσμον.

καὶ λέγει Μεγασθένης, θηρεύεσθαι τὴν κόγχην αὐτοῦ δικτύοισι, νέμεσθαι δ’ ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ κατὰ ταὐτὸ πολλὰς κόγχας, κατάπερ τὰς μελίσσας. καὶ εἶναι γὰρ καὶ τοῖσι μαργαρίτῃσι βασιλέα ἢ βασίλισσαν, ὡς τῇσι μελίσσῃσι. καὶ ὅστις μὲν ἐκεῖνον κατ’ ἐπιτυχίην συλλάβοι, τοῦτον δὲ εὐπετέως περιβάλλειν καὶ τὸ ἄλλο σμῆνος τῶν μαργαριτῶν· εἰ δὲ διαφύγοι σφᾶς ὁ βασιλεύς, τούτῳ δὲ οὐκέτι θηρατοὺς εἶναι τοὺς ἄλλους. τοὺς ἑλόντας δὲ περιορᾶν κατασαπῆναί σφισι τὴν σάρκα, τῷ δὲ ὀστέῳ ἐς κόσμον χρῆσθαι. καὶ εἶναι γὰρ καὶ παρ’ ᾿Ινδοῖσι τὸν μαργαρίτην τριστάσιον κατὰ τιμὴν πρὸς χρυσίον τὸ ἄπεφθον, καὶ τοῦτο ἐν τῇ ᾿Ινδῶν γῇ ὀρυσσόμενον.

 

 

Advice on Picking a Spouse from Ovid

Ovid, Heroides, 9.26-34

Deianeira addresses Herakles

“But I am considered well-married, because I am called Hercules’ wife
And because my father-in-law is the one who sounds deeply with swift steeds.
Yet, this is how the unequal colts arrive unhappily at the plow,
The way that a lesser bride matches to a great husband.
This isn’t an honor but merely the appearance of it which pains who carries it more;
If you want to be married happily, marry your equal.
My husband is always absent—he’s more famous as my guest than husband
As he pursues is terrible monsters and beasts.”

At bene nupta feror, quia nominer Herculis uxor,
sitque socer, rapidis qui tonat altus equis.
quam male inaequales veniunt ad aratra iuvenci,
tam premitur magno coniuge nupta minor.
non honor est sed onus species laesura ferentes:
siqua voles apte nubere, nube pari.
vir mihi semper abest, et coniuge notior hospes
monstraque terribiles persequiturque feras.

Mythography Madness: Oedipus Had Three Wives (!) and the Heroic Life of Erginos

The following fragment of Pherecydes, the fifth century mythographer, is from a Scholion to Euripides’ Phoenissae 53. Fowler (Early Greek Mythography, 2001) prints this as Pherecydes fr. 95):

“Pherecydes says these things about the children and the marriages of Oedipus: “Kreon,” he says, “gave the kingdom and Laios’ wife, his own mother Iokasta to Oedipus, and from here were born Phrastôr and Laonutos, who died thanks to the Minyans and Erginos. Then a year had passed, Oedipus married Euryganeia, the daughter of Periphas, and from her were born Antigone and Ismene, the girl Tydeus took at the stream and for that reason the stream is called Ismene. The sons Eteokles and Polyneices were also born to Oedipus from here. When Euryganeia died, Oedipus married Astymedea, the daughter of Stenelos. And some people add that Euryganeia was the sister of Oedipus’ mother Iokaste.”

γαμεῖ δὲ τὴν τεκοῦσαν: Φερεκύδης τὰ κατὰ τοὺς Οἰδίποδος παῖδας καὶ τὰς γημαμένας οὕτως ἱστορεῖ· ‘Οἰδίποδι, φησὶ, Κρέων δίδωσι τὴν βασιλείαν καὶ τὴν γυναῖκα Λαΐου, μητέρα δ’ αὐτοῦ ᾿Ιοκάστην, ἐξ ἧς γίνονται αὐτῷ Φράστωρ καὶ Λαόνυτος, οἳ θνῄσκουσιν ὑπὸ Μινυῶν καὶ ᾿Εργίνου. ἐπεὶ δὲ ἐνιαυτὸς παρῆλθε, γαμεῖ ὁ Οἰδίπους Εὐρυγάνειαν τὴν Περίφαντος, ἐξ ἧς γίνονται αὐτῷ ᾿Αντιγόνη καὶ ᾿Ισμήνη, ἣν ἀναιρεῖ Τυδεὺς ἐπὶ κρήνης καὶ ἀπ’ αὐτῆς ἡ κρήνη ᾿Ισμήνη καλεῖται. υἱοὶ δὲ αὐτῷ ἐξ αὐτῆς ᾿Ετεοκλῆς καὶ Πολυνείκης. ἐπεὶ δὲ Εὐρυγάνεια ἐτελεύτησε, γαμεῖ ὁ Οἰδίπους ᾿Αστυμέδουσαν τὴν Σθενέλου.’ τινὲς δὲ Εὐρυγάνειαν ἀδελφὴν λέγουσιν εἶναι ᾿Ιοκάστης τῆς μητρὸς Οἰδίποδος: —

Continue reading “Mythography Madness: Oedipus Had Three Wives (!) and the Heroic Life of Erginos”

Vases In Arezzo: Why is Telamon Fighting Amazons with Herakles?

During my travels with students in Italy, we recently visited the Tuscan city of Arezzo where we were introduced to the Amphitheater by Alessandro Barchiesi, a classicist of some repute.

Alessandro gazes upon the Amphitheater

Continue reading “Vases In Arezzo: Why is Telamon Fighting Amazons with Herakles?”

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.

Ovid, Heroides IX,26-34: Deianeira to Herakles: Pick an Equal Spouse

“But I am considered well-married, because I am called Hercules’ wife
And because my father-in-law is the one who sounds deeply with swift steeds.
Yet, this is how the unequal colts arrive unhappily at the plow,
The way that a lesser bride matches to a great husband.
This isn’t an honor but merely the appearance of it which pains who carries it more;
If you want to be married happily, marry your equal.
My husband is always absent—he’s more famous as my guest than husband
As he pursues is terrible monsters and beasts.”

At bene nupta feror, quia nominer Herculis uxor,
sitque socer, rapidis qui tonat altus equis.
quam male inaequales veniunt ad aratra iuvenci,
tam premitur magno coniuge nupta minor.
non honor est sed onus species laesura ferentes:
siqua voles apte nubere, nube pari.
vir mihi semper abest, et coniuge notior hospes
monstraque terribiles persequiturque feras.