Talking With Homer in the Underworld

While Lucian is surely messing with us here, I think there are many tomes of Homeric scholarship set aright through this one paragraph.

Lucian, True History 2.20

“Two or three days had not yet passed when I approached the poet Homer at a moment when we both had free time and I was investigated the rest of the matters about him, especially where he was from. For this is still examined by us to this day. He said that he was not ignorant that some people say he his from Khios and others say Smyrna while a majority claims he is Kolophonian. But he was saying that he is in fact Babylonian and was not called Homer among his people but Tigranes. Later on, after he was a hostage [homêreusas] among the Greeks he changed his nickname.

When I asked him about the lines which were considered spurious and whether they had been written by him, he was claiming they were all his. For this reason I started to believe that the grammarians Zenodotus and Aristarchus were guilty of the most close-minded logic. Since he had responded sufficiently on these matters, I was asking him next why he made his poem start with the “rage of Achilles”. He said that it just leapt into his head that way without any prior thought. Then I was eager to know that thing, whether he wrote the Odyssey before the Iliad as many claim. He denied this.”

Οὔπω δὲ δύο ἢ τρεῖς ἡμέραι διεληλύθεσαν, καὶ προσελθὼν ἐγὼ Ὁμήρῳ τῷ ποιητῇ, σχολῆς οὔσης ἀμφοῖν, τά τε ἄλλα ἐπυνθανόμην καὶ ὅθεν εἴη. τοῦτο γὰρ μάλιστα παρ᾿ ἡμῖν εἰσέτι νῦν ζητεῖσθαι. ὁ δὲ οὐδ᾿ αὐτὸς μὲν ἀγνοεῖν ἔφασκεν ὡς οἱ μὲν Χῖον, οἱ δὲ Σμυρναῖον, πολλοὶ δὲ Κολοφώνιον αὐτὸν νομίζουσιν· εἶναι μέντοι γε ἔλεγεν Βαβυλώνιος, καὶ παρά γε τοῖς πολίταις οὐχ Ὅμηρος, ἀλλὰ Τιγράνης καλεῖσθαι· ὕστερον δὲ ὁμηρεύσας παρὰ τοῖς Ἕλλησιν ἀλλάξαι τὴν προσηγορίαν. ἔτι δὲ καὶ περὶ τῶν ἀθετουμένων στίχων ἐπηρώτων, εἰ ὑπ᾿ ἐκείνου εἶεν γεγραμμένοι. καὶ ὃς ἔφασκε πάντας αὑτοῦ εἶναι. κατεγίνωσκον οὖν τῶν ἀμφὶ τὸν Ζηνόδοτον καὶ Ἀρίσταρχον γραμματικῶν πολλὴν τὴν ψυχρολογίαν. ἐπεὶ δὲ ταῦτα ἱκανῶς ἀπεκέκριτο, πάλιν αὐτὸν ἠρώτων τί δή ποτε ἀπὸ τῆς μήνιδος τὴν ἀρχὴν ἐποιήσατο· καὶ ὃς εἶπεν οὕτως ἐπελθεῖν αὐτῷ μηδὲν ἐπιτηδεύσαντι. καὶ μὴν κἀκεῖνο ἐπεθύμουν εἰδέναι, εἰ προτέραν ἔγραψεν τὴν Ὀδύσσειαν τῆς Ἰλιάδος, ὡς οἱ πολλοί φασιν· ὁ δὲ ἠρνεῖτο.

Image result for medieval manuscript homer
Ambrosian Iliad

Lol-lianos: He’s In It For the Words.

Suda, lambda 670

Lollianos: From Ephesus. A sophist. A student of Isaios the Assyrian. He was born during the time of the emperor Hadrian. He wrote many things.

Λολλιανός, ᾿Εφέσιος, σοφιστής, μαθητὴς ᾿Ισαίου τοῦ ᾿Ασσυρίουγεγονὼς ἐπὶ ᾿Αδριανοῦ τοῦ Καίσαρος. ἔγραψε πολλά.

Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists, 526

“Lollianos the Ephesian was the first Chair of Rhetoric at Athens and he also stood as governor of the Athenian people as the general of the hoplites. This office in early years was meant for the gathering of supplies and preparations for war; but in those days it was concerned with provisions and the food in the market. When there was a serious protest in the bread-sellers district, and the Athenians were on the verge of stoning Lollianos, Pankrates the Cynic, who in later years studied Philosophy at the Isthmus, stepped forward and said: “Lollianos isn’t a bread-seller, he’s a purveyor of words!” He distracted the Athenians enough that they put down the rocks that were in their hands.

Another time when the grain shipment came from Thessaly and there were no public funds, Lollianos assigned the payment to his students and a heap of money was collected. This seems to be the mark of a clever man and one wise at politics, but his next move shows him just and wise: for he refunded all those who contributed money the amount he charged for his lectures.”

κγ′. Λολλιανὸς δὲ ὁ ᾿Εφέσιος προὔστη μὲν τοῦ ᾿Αθήνησι θρόνου πρῶτος, προὔστη δὲ καὶ τοῦ ᾿Αθηναίων δήμου στρατηγήσας αὐτοῖς τὴν ἐπὶ τῶν ὅπλων, ἡ δὲ ἀρχὴ αὕτη πάλαι μὲν κατέλεγέ τε καὶ ἐξῆγεν ἐς τὰ πολέμια, νυνὶ δὲ τροφῶν ἐπιμελεῖται καὶ σίτου ἀγορᾶς. θορύβου δὲ καθεστηκότος παρὰ τὰ ἀρτοπώλια καὶ τῶν ᾿Αθηναίων βάλλειν αὐτὸν ὡρμηκότων Παγκράτης ὁ κύων ὁ μετὰ ταῦτα ἐν ᾿Ισθμῷ φιλοσοφήσας παρελθὼν ἐς τοὺς ᾿Αθηναίους καὶ εἰπὼν „Λολλιανὸς οὐκ ἔστιν ἀρτοπώλης, ἀλλὰ λογοπώλης” διέχεεν οὕτω τοὺς ᾿Αθηναίους, ὡς μεθεῖναι τοὺς λίθους διὰ χειρὸς αὐτοῖς ὄντας. σίτου δὲ ἐκ Θετταλίας ἐσπεπλευκότος καὶ χρημάτων δημοσίᾳ οὐκ ὄντων ἐπέτρεψεν ὁ Λολλιανὸς ἔρανον τοῖς αὐτοῦ γνωρίμοις, καὶ χρήματα συχνὰ ἠθροίσθη. καὶ τοῦτο μὲν ἀνδρὸς εὐμηχάνου δόξει καὶ σοφοῦ τὰ πολιτικά, ἐκεῖνο δὲ δικαίου τε καὶ εὐγνώμονος· τὰ γὰρ χρήματα ταῦτα τοῖς ξυμβαλομένοις ἀπέδωκεν ἐπανεὶς τὸν μισθὸν τῆς ἀκροάσεως.

Lovely Lollianos? Also known as Publius Hordeonius Lollianus, a rhetorician during the time of Hadrian.

 

Image result for Ancient Greek Bread

Up Before Dawn, Two Baths and a Nap: The Daily Routine of Emperor Severus

Dio Cassius 27.17

“This is the daily routine Severus used when there was peace. He was always doing something before dawn and after that he  used to take a walk while talking and listening about the matters of the empire. Then he would have a judicial court, except when there was some festival or another. And he used to do this best of all—for he provided ample time for those who were arguing the case and he provided those of us who were advising him lots of time too.

He used to make judgments until midday and then he would ride his horse as much as he was able. Then he would take a bath after engaging in some kind of exercise. Following this, he would have no meager lunch either on his own or with his children.

After lunch, he usually napped for a bit. When he rose, he turned to the rest of his affairs and then used to spend time engaged in both Greek and Latin debates while walking again. Near dusk, he would bathe again and then dine with those who were attending him—for he did not frequently have a guest for dinner and he would only sponsor expensive banquets on days when it was necessary. He lived for sixty-five years, plus eight months and twenty-five days. Even at the end, he demonstrated his eagerness for activity: as he was dying he said: “come here, give me whatever there is to do.”

 

…ἐχρῆτο δὲ ὁ Σεουῆρος καταστάσει τοῦ βίου εἰρήνης οὔσης τοιᾷδε. ἔπραττέ τι πάντως νυκτὸς ὑπὸ τὸν ὄρθρον, καὶ μετὰ τοῦτ᾿ ἐβάδιζε καὶ λέγων καὶ ἀκούων τὰ τῇ ἀρχῇ πρόσφορα· εἶτ᾿ ἐδίκαζε, χωρὶς εἰ μή τις ἑορτὴ μεγάλη εἴη. καὶ μέντοι καὶ ἄριστα αὐτὸ ἔπραττε· καὶ γὰρ τοῖς δικαζομένοις ὕδωρ ἱκανὸν ἐνέχει, καὶ ἡμῖν τοῖς συνδικάζουσιν αὐτῷ παρρησίαν πολλὴν ἐδίδου. 2ἔκρινε δὲ μέχρι μεσημβρίας, καὶ μετὰ τοῦθ᾿ ἵππευεν ἐφ᾿ ὅσον ἂν ἐδυνήθη· εἶτ᾿ ἐλοῦτο, γυμνασάμενός τινα τρόπον. ἠρίστα δὲ ἢ καθ᾿ ἑαυτὸν ἢ μετὰ τῶν παίδων, οὐκ ἐνδεῶς. εἶτ᾿ ἐκάθευδεν ὡς πλήθει· ἔπειτ᾿ ἐξαρθεὶς τά τε λοιπὰ προσδιῴκει καὶ λόγοις καὶ Ἑλληνικοῖς καὶ Λατίνοις συνεγίνετο ἐν περιπάτῳ. εἶθ᾿ οὕτω πρὸς ἑσπέραν ἐλοῦτο αὖθις, καὶ ἐδείπνει μετὰ τῶν ἀμφ᾿ αὑτόν· ἥκιστά τε γὰρ ἄλλον τινὰ συνέστιον ἐποιεῖτο, καὶ ἐν μόναις ταῖς πάνυ ἀναγκαίαις ἡμέραις τὰ πολυτελῆ δεῖπνα συνεκρότει. ἐβίω δὲ ἔτη ἑξήκοντα πέντε καὶ μῆνας ἐννέα καὶ ἡμέρας πέντε καὶ εἴκοσι2 (τῇ γὰρ ἑνδεκάτῃ τοῦ Ἀπριλίου ἐγεγέννητο), ἀφ᾿ ὧν ἦρξεν ἔτη ἑπτακαίδεκα καὶ μῆνας ὀκτὼ καὶ ἡμέρας τρεῖς. τό τε σύμπαν οὕτως ἐνεργὸς ἐγένετο ὥστε καὶ ἀποψύχων ἀναφθέγξασθαι· “ἄγετε, δότε, εἴ τι πρᾶξαι ἔχομεν.

 

Image result for septimius severus

This compares favorably, I think, to the recently shared schedule of Mark Wahlberg.

Image result for mark wahlberg daily routine

“Cancel-Culture” is Unfair to Philosophy!

Lucian, The Dead Come to Life, 32

“Hey Philosophy, this was especially striking to me: if people saw someone doing something wicked or improper, or just gross, there wasn’t anyone who didn’t blame Philosophy herself and then Chrysippos or Plato or Pythagoras or whatever name you gave to that person who started all the mistakes and whose arguments were being imitated.

People make terribly unfair judgments about you who have been dead for so long thanks to this guy living his life so badly! He can’t be compared to you because you’re not alive. But you were not there and they all saw him clearly pursuing terrible and unholy habits with the result that you were caught in the open with him and got wrapped up in the same slander!”

Ὃ δὲ μάλιστά μοι δεινόν, ὦ Φιλοσοφία, κατεφαίνετο, τοῦτο ἦν· οἱ γὰρ ἄνθρωποι εἴ τινα τούτων ἑώρων πονηρὸν ἢ ἄσχημον ἢ ἀσελγές τι ἐπιτηδεύοντα, οὐκ ἔστιν ὅστις οὐ Φιλοσοφίαν αὐτὴν ᾐτιᾶτο καὶ τὸν Χρύσιππον εὐθὺς ἢ Πλάτωνα ἢ Πυθαγόραν ἢ ὅτου ἐπώνυμον αὑτὸν ὁ διαμαρτάνων ἐκεῖνος ἐποιεῖτο καὶ οὗ τοὺς λόγους ἐμιμεῖτο· καὶ ἀπὸ τοῦ κακῶς βιοῦντος πονηρὰ περὶ ὑμῶν εἴκαζον τῶν πρὸ πολλοῦ τεθνηκότων· οὐ γὰρ παρὰ ζῶντας ὑμᾶς ἡ ἐξέτασις αὐτοῦ ἐγίγνετο, ἀλλ᾿ ὑμεῖς μὲν ἐκποδών, ἐκεῖνον δὲ ἑώρων σαφῶς ἅπαντες δεινὰ καὶ ἄσεμνα ἐπιτηδεύοντα, ὥστε ἐρήμην ἡλίσκεσθε μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐπὶ τὴν ὁμοίαν διαβολὴν συγκατεσπᾶσθε.’’

“Hell” by a follower of Hieronymus Bosch

Fire Increases Life: Plutarch, Against Water

Plutarch, On Whether Fire or Water is Better, 958

“Since we have come to this point in the argument: what is more profitable to life than art? Fire exposed every art and preserves them. This is the reason poets have made Hephaistos the first craftsman. Since humans have been given only a little bit of life and—as Ariston puts it—sleep claims half of life like a tax-collector, I would say that darkness is important: even if it were possible to stay awake through the night, this vigil would be useless if fire did not provide the advantages of day to us and strip away the difference between day and night.

If there is nothing more important to people than life and fire increases life considerably, how could fire not be the most beneficial thing of all?”

Ἐπεὶ δὲ κατὰ τοῦτο τοῦ λόγου γεγόναμεν, τί τέχνης τῷ βίῳ λυσιτελέστερον; τέχνας δὲ πάσας καὶ ἀνεῦρε τὸ πῦρ καὶ σῴζει· διὸ καὶ τὸν Ἥφαιστον ἀρχηγὸν αὐτῶν ποιοῦσι. καὶ μὴν ὀλίγου χρόνου καὶ βίου τοῖς ἀνθρώποις δεδομένου, ὁ μὲν Ἀρίστων φησὶν ὅτι ὁ ὕπνος οἷον τελώνης τὸ ἥμισυ ἀφαιρεῖ τούτου· ἐγὼ δ᾿ ἂν εἴποιμ᾿ ὅτι σκότος· ἐγρηγορέναι ἂν εἴη διὰ νυκτός, ἀλλ᾿ οὐδὲν ἦν ὄφελος τῆς ἐγρηγόρσεως, εἰ μὴ τὸ πῦρ τὰ τῆς ἡμέρας ἡμῖν παρεῖχεν ἀγαθά, καὶ τὴν ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτὸς ἐξῄρει διαφοράν. εἰ τοίνυν τοῦ ζῆν οὐδὲν ἀνθρώποις λυσιτελέστερον καὶ τοῦτο πολλαπλασιάζει τὸ πῦρ, πῶς οὐκ ἂν εἴη πάντων ὠφελιμώτατον;

Image result for Ancient Greek fire

Magic Words and Quack Cures: An ‘Epic’ Fail During a Plague

Lucian, Alexander the False Prophet 36

“There was one oracle, also an autophone, which he had sent to all peoples during the plague. It was a single line of verse, “Phoebus, with uncut hair, keeps off the cloud of plague.”

This line was to be seen everywhere, written on doorposts as a spell against the plague. In most cases it produced the opposite result. For, through some fortune, those homes on which the line was written were those which were especially impacted. Don’t imagine that I am saying that they were destroyed because of the line, but that it happened this way in some fashion. Perhaps the people who were encouraged by the words acted negligently or took everything too easily and did nothing to help the oracle against the disease because they believed they had these syllables to fight for them and “long-haired” Apollo to shoot down the plague with his bow.”

ἕνα δέ τινα χρησμόν, αὐτόφωνον καὶ αὐτόν, εἰς ἅπαντα τὰ ἔθνη ἐν τῷ λοιμῷ διεπέμψατο· ἦν δὲ τὸ ἔπος ἕν·

Φοῖβος ἀκειρεκόμης λοιμοῦ νεφέλην ἀπερύκει.

καὶ τοῦτο ἦν ἰδεῖν τὸ ἔπος πανταχοῦ ἐπὶ τῶν πυλώνων γεγραμμένον ὡς τοῦ λοιμοῦ ἀλεξιφάρμακον. τὸ δ᾿ εἰς τοὐναντίον τοῖς πλείστοις προὐχώρει· κατὰ γάρ τινα τύχην αὗται μάλιστα αἱ οἰκίαι ἐκενώθησαν αἷς τὸ ἔπος ἐπεγέγραπτο. καὶ μή με νομίσῃς τοῦτο λέγειν, ὅτι διὰ τὸ ἔπος ἀπώλλυντο· ἀλλὰ τύχῃ τινὶ οὕτως ἐγένετο. τάχα δὲ καὶ οἱ πολλοὶ θαρροῦντες τῷ στίχῳ ἠμέλουν καὶ ῥᾳθυμότερον διῃτῶντο, οὐδὲν τῷ χρησμῷ πρὸς τὴν νόσον συντελοῦντες, ὡς ἂν ἔχοντες προμαχομένας αὑτῶν τὰς συλλαβὰς καὶ τὸν ἀκειρεκόμην Φοῖβον ἀποτοξεύοντα τὸν λοιμόν.

Herakles tripod Louvre F341.jpg
Apollo and Herakles fight over tripod, Taleides painter

An Immortal Soul and a Pious Poet: Another Poem by Julia Balbilla

Julia Balbilla, Epigram 991 [from Kaibel 1878 with supplements from Rosenmeyer 2008]

In Memnonis crure sinistro. C. I. 4730 coll. Add. III p. 1202 sq.

“When I was near Memnon with August Sabina:

Child of Dawn and noble Tithonos,
Seated before Zeus’s city of Thebes
Or, Amenoth, Egyptian King, as the priests name you
The ones who know the ancient stories

Greet us and speak out to show your welcome, Memnon,
To the revered wife of Lord Hadrian.
A barbarian man lopped off your tongue and ears
That atheist Kambyses, but he paid the price
With a painful death under the same pitiful blade
He used to kill divine Apis.

But I do not believe that this statue of yours could ever be destroyed
And I cherish in my thoughts a soul immortal for all time.
This is because my parents and grandparents were reverent,
Wise Balbillus and the king Antiochus.
Balbillus was my Queen mother’s father
And King Antiochus was my father’s father.

I too have been allotted noble blood from their people—
And these are the words from reverent me, Balbilla.”

῞Οτε σὺν τῆι Σεβαστῆι Σαβείνηι ἐγενόμην παρὰ τῶι Μέμνονι.

Αὔως καὶ γεράρω, Μέμνον, πάι Τιθώνοιο,
Θηβάας θάσσων ἄντα Δίος πόλιος,
ἢ ᾿Αμένωθ, βασίλευ Αἰγύπτιε, τὼς ἐνέποισιν
ἴρηες μύθων τῶν παλάων ἴδριες.

Χαῖρε καὶ αὐδάσαις πρόφρων ἔμε [δέχνυσο, Μέμνον,
τὰν σέµναν ἄλοχον κοιράνω ῾¬Αδριάνω.
γλῶσσαν μέν τοι τ[μ]ᾶξ[ε (καὶ ὤατα βάρβαρος ἄνηρ
Καμβύσαις ἄθεος–τῶ λύγρῳ θανάτῳ
δῶκέν τοι ποίναν τῶ σῶ οἰκτ[ίρματος ἠδ’ ἇς
τῷ νήλας ῏Απιν κάκτανε τὸν θέιον.

ἄλλ’ ἔγω οὐ δοκίμωμι σέθεν τό [γε θῆον ὄλεσθαι,
ψύχαν δ’ ἀθανάταν, ἄ[φθιτε], σῶ[σδες ἄι.
εὐσέβεες γὰρ ἔμοι γένεται σέ[πτας ἀπὸ ῥίσδας
Βάλβιλλός τε σόφος κἀντίοχος [προπάτωρ·

Βάλβιλλος γένετ’ ἐκ μᾶτρος βασιλήιδος ῎Ακ[μας,
τῶ πάτερος δὲ πάτηρ ᾿Αντίοχος βασίλευς·
κήνων ἐκ γενέας κἄγω λόχον αἶμα τὸ κᾶλον,
Βαλβίλλας δ’ ἔμεθεν γρόπτα τόδ’ εὐσέβ[εος.

Colossi of Memnon

Rosenmeyer, P. (2008). Greek Verse Inscriptions in Roman Egypt: Julia Balbilla’s Sapphic Voice. Classical Antiquity, 27(2), 334-358.

Brennan, T. (1998). “The Poets Julia Balbilla and Damo at the Colossus of Memnon”. Classical World, 91(4), 215.

Plant, I., & Plant, Ian Michael. (2004). Women writers of ancient Greece and Rome : An anthology (University of Oklahoma Press ed.). Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Memnon’s Speaking Stone: Two Poems by Julia Balbilla

Julia Balbilla is a Roman poet from the time of Hadrian. She composed Greek verse. For more of her poems see Rosenmeyer 2008 below and Brennan 1998 for additional historical context

Julia Balbilla, Two Poems

In Memnonis pede sinistro. C. I. 4727 coll. Add. III p. 1202.

“I, Balbilla, heard from the stone when it spoke
Either the divine voice of Memnon or Phamenoth.
I came here alongside my beautiful queen Sabina,
as the sun kept its course in the first hour.
In the fifteenth year of Hadrian’s reign
When Hathyr had made its twenty-fourth day,
It was on the twenty-fifth day of the month of Hathyr.

῎Εκλυον αὐδάσαντος ἐγὼ ‘πὺ λίθω Βάλβιλλα
φώνας τᾶς θείας Μέμνονος ἢ Φαμένωθ·
ἦνθον ὔμοι δ’ ἐράται βασιλήιδι τυῖδε Σαβίνναι,
ὤρας δὲ πρώτας ἄλιος ἦχε δρόμος,

κοιράνω ᾿Αδριάνω πέμπτωι δεκότωι δ’ ἐνιαύτωι,
φῶτ]α δ’ ἔχεσκεν ῎Αθυρ εἴκοσι καὶ πέσυρα·
εἰκόστωι πέμπτωι δ’ ἄματι μῆνος ῎Αθυρ.

In Memnonis crure sinistro. C. I. 4725 coll. Add. III p. 1201 sq.

“Julia Balbilla [wrote this]
When August Hadrian heard Memnon

I’ve learned that the Egyptian Memnon, bronzed by
The bright sun, sounds out from a Theban stone.
When he gazed upon Hadrian, the kingliest king
He addressed him as much as he could before the light of the sun.

But as Titan was driving through the sky on white horses
Holding the second part of the day in shadow,
Memnon’s voice rang out again like struck bronze,
High-pitched: and he let loose a third sound greeting.

And then Lord Hadrian hailed Memnon in return
And left on this column for future generations to see
Inscribed verses telling of everything he saw and heard.
And it was clear to everyone how much the gods love him.

᾿Ιουλίας Βαλβίλλης, ὅτε ἤκουσε τοῦ Μέμνονος ὁ σεβαστὸς
᾿Αδριανός.

Μέμνονα πυνθανόμαν Αἰγύπτιον, ἀλίω αὔγαι
αἰθόμενον, φώνην Θηβαίκω ‘πὺ λίθω·
᾿Αδρίανον δ’ ἐςίδων, τὸν παμβασίληα πρὶν αὐγὰς
ἀελίω χαίρην εἶπέ [v]οι ὠς δύνοτον·

Τίταν δ’ ὄττ’ ἐλάων λεύκοισι δι’ αἴθερος ἴπποις
ἐ]ν σκίαι ὠράων δεύτερον ἦχε μέτρον,
ὠς χάλκοιο τυπέντος ἴη Μέμνων πάλιν αὔδαν
ὀξύτονον· χαίρων καὶ τρίτον ἆχον ἴη.

κοίρανος ᾿Αδρίανος χ[ήρ]αις δ’ ἀσπάσσατο καὖτος
Μέμνονα. κἀ[πιθέμαν] καλλ[ιλό]γοισι πόνοις
γρόππατα σαμαίνο[ν]τά τ’ ὄσ’ εὔιδε κὤσσ’ ἐςάκουσε·
δᾶλον παῖσι δ’ ἔγε[ν]τ’ ὤς [v]ε φίλ[ε]ισι θέοι.

Antonio Beato, Colosses de Memnon

Rosenmeyer, P. (2008). Greek Verse Inscriptions in Roman Egypt: Julia Balbilla’s Sapphic Voice. Classical Antiquity, 27(2), 334-358.

Brennan, T. (1998). “The Poets Julia Balbilla and Damo at the Colossus of Memnon”. Classical World, 91(4), 215.

Plant, I., & Plant, Ian Michael. (2004). Women writers of ancient Greece and Rome : An anthology (University of Oklahoma Press ed.). Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

 

An Awkward Letter about Not Getting Letters

In this day and age, this might instead be a text message or a tweet to someone in a position of authority. But this letter is from Libanius to Julian the Apostate, Roman Emperor and our personal (anti-?)hero:

Ep. 86

“Even if you don’t send me letters, I still dine on your words. For whenever someone else gets one, we hear about it and immediately read it, either by persuading or overpowering the unwilling recipient. So, my profit is no less than theirs even though it is only their right to be honored. I would also ask for honor, for some love-token from you. For, clearly, if you would honor me in any way, you wouldn’t do it without love.”

Ἀλλ᾿ εἰ καὶ μὴ πρὸς ἡμᾶς ἐπιστέλλεις, ἡμεῖς γε τοῖς σοῖς ἑστιώμεθα γράμμασιν. ὅταν γὰρ ὅτι τις ἔλαβε μάθωμεν, εὐθὺς ἡμεῖς πλησίον καὶ ἢ πείσαντες ἢ κρατήσαντες ἀκόντων ἀνέγνωμεν.τὸ μὲν οὖν κέρδος οὐχ ἧττον ἡμῶν ἢ ᾿κείνων, τὸ τετιμῆσθαι δὲ παρ᾿ ἐκείνοις μόνοις. ἐρῶμεν δὲ καὶ αὐτοὶ τιμῆς, ἐπειδὴ καὶ φίλτρου τοῦ παρὰ σοί. δῆλον γὰρ ὡς, εἴ τι τιμήσεις, οὐκ ἄνευ γε τοῦ φιλεῖν τοῦτο ποιήσεις.

Image result for Julian the Apostate

Quipping At Death and Disease: The End of Polemon the Sophist

Here’s a post from Philostratus on the impoliteness of Polemon the Sophist.  Today, his death (Lives of the Sophists, 543-4)

“When the doctors administered to him often because his joints were hardening, he used to advise them to “dig and cut Polemon’s quarries”. When he wrote a letter to Herodes about his sickness, he described it thus: “I must eat, but I haven’t hands. I must walk, but I am missing feet. I must feel pain, and then I find my hands and feet.”

He died around his fifty-sixth year. This time of life which is the beginning of old age for other professions, is still youth for a sophist—this discipline increases in wisdom as it ages.”

᾿Ιατροῖς δὲ θαμὰ ὑποκείμενος λιθιώντων αὐτῷ τῶν ἄρθρων παρεκελεύετο αὐτοῖς ὀρύττειν καὶ τέμνειν τὰς Πολέμωνος λιθοτομίας. ῾Ηρώδῃ δὲ ἐπιστέλλων ὑπὲρ τῆς νόσου ταύτης ὧδε ἐπέστειλεν· „δεῖ ἐσθίειν, χεῖρας οὐκ ἔχω· δεῖ βαδίζειν, πόδες οὐκ εἰσί μοι· δεῖ ἀλγεῖν, τότε καὶ πόδες εἰσί μοι καὶ χεῖρες.”

᾿Ετελεύτα μὲν περὶ τὰ ἓξ καὶ πεντήκοντα ἔτη, τὸ δὲ μέτρον τῆς ἡλικίας τοῦτο ταῖς μὲν ἄλλαις  ἐπιστήμαις γήρως ἀρχή, σοφιστῇ δὲ νεότης ἔτι, γηράσκουσα γὰρ ἥδε ἡ ἐπιστήμη σοφίαν ἀρτύνει.

Right hand (bronze) from a statue of Dionysos. Greek, Hellenistic Period,  150–50 B.C. | Sculpture, Greek statues, Hellenistic period