Always in Fear: The Justice (?) of Servants

Homer, Odyssey 14. 55-72

“Then you answered him in address, swineherd Eumaios

“It is not right for me, not even if someone worse than you should come,
To dishonor a guest. For all guests and beggars come
From Zeus and our gift to them is small and dear.
This is the justice of servants
Of those who are always afraid, when their masters rule over them,
Young men. For the gods have kept him from his homeland
The one who would have cared for me rightly and given me possessions,
A house, some land, and a much-wooed wife—
The kinds of things a good-spirited master gives to his servant
Who works hard for him and then a god increases his labor.
So for me my labor—to which I attend—always produces.
This is why my lord would have repaid me if he grew old here.
But he died. I wish the entire race of Helen had perished
Since it brought many men to their knees.
For he too went for the sake of Agamemnon’s honor
To well-horsed Troy so that he might fight the Trojans”

τὸν δ’ ἀπαμειβόμενος προσέφης, Εὔμαιε συβῶτα·
“ξεῖν’, οὔ μοι θέμις ἔστ’, οὐδ’ εἰ κακίων σέθεν ἔλθοι,
ξεῖνον ἀτιμῆσαι· πρὸς γὰρ Διός εἰσιν ἅπαντες
ξεῖνοί τε πτωχοί τε. δόσις δ’ ὀλίγη τε φίλη τε
γίνεται ἡμετέρη· ἡ γὰρ δμώων δίκη ἐστίν,
αἰεὶ δειδιότων, ὅτ’ ἐπικρατέωσιν ἄνακτες
οἱ νέοι. ἦ γὰρ τοῦ γε θεοὶ κατὰ νόστον ἔδησαν,
ὅς κεν ἔμ’ ἐνδυκέως ἐφίλει καὶ κτῆσιν ὄπασσεν,
οἷά τε ᾧ οἰκῆϊ ἄναξ εὔθυμος ἔδωκεν,
οἶκόν τε κλῆρόν τε πολυμνήστην τε γυναῖκα,
ὅς οἱ πολλὰ κάμῃσι, θεὸς δ’ ἐπὶ ἔργον ἀέξῃ,
ὡς καὶ ἐμοὶ τόδε ἔργον ἀέξεται, ᾧ ἐπιμίμνω.
τῶ κέ με πόλλ’ ὤνησεν ἄναξ, εἰ αὐτόθ’ ἐγήρα·
ἀλλ’ ὄλεθ’. ὡς ὤφελλ’ ῾Ελένης ἀπὸ φῦλον ὀλέσθαι
πρόχνυ, ἐπεὶ πολλῶν ἀνδρῶν ὑπὸ γούνατ’ ἔλυσε·
καὶ γὰρ κεῖνος ἔβη ᾿Αγαμέμνονος εἵνεκα τιμῆς
῎Ιλιον εἰς εὔπωλον, ἵνα Τρώεσσι μάχοιτο.”
ὣς εἰπὼν ζωστῆρι θοῶς συνέεργε χιτῶνα,

Schol. HQ ad Od. 14.68

“How would the father of Penelope, Ikarios, the Laconian be in race? Or what would it mean that Penelope is a cousin of Helen? For master-loving Eumaios would not curse Telemachus and Penelope in wishing that the race of Helen be destroyed…”

πῶς ἂν ὁ Πηνελόπης πατὴρ ᾿Ικάριος Λάκων εἴη τὸ γένος; ἢ πῶς ἂν ἡ Πηνελόπη τῆς ῾Ελένης ὑπάρχοι ἀνεψιά; οὐ γὰρ ἂν ὁ φιλοδεσπότης Εὔμαιος Τηλεμάχῳ καὶ Πηνελόπῃ κατηρᾶτο βουλόμενος διεφθάρθαι τὸ τῆς ῾Ελένης γένος. H.Q.

For Ikarios and Tyndareus as brothers, see these details.


On Kindness, Some Roman Words

Seneca, De Beata Vita 3

“Nature commands me to bring help to all people. What difference is it whether they are slaves, born free or freed, whether laws made then free or friends did? Wherever there is a human being, there is a place for kindness.”

Hominibus prodesse natura me iubet. Servi liberine sint hi, ingenui an libertini, iustae libertatis an inter amicos datae, quid refert? Ubicumque homo est, ibi benefici locus est.

Cicero, Laws 1.18

“Where shall we find a kind man if no one acts kindly for anyone else? Where is the grateful man, if those who return a good turn are not actually thankful to those whom they thank? Where is that sacred thing friendship if the friend himself is not loved with the whole heart for his own sake, as the saying going? Why then should a friend be abandoned an rejected when there is no longer an expectation from benefits and profits? What could be more monstrous than this?”

Ubi enim beneficus, si nemo alterius causa benigne facit? ubi gratus, si non eum ipsi cernunt grati, cui referunt gratiam? ubi illa sancta amicitia, si non ipse amicus per se amatur toto pectore, ut dicitur? qui etiam deserendus et abiciendus est desperatis emolumentis et fructibus; quo quid potest dici immanius?

Dicta Catonis 15

“Remember to tell the tale of another’s kindness many times
But whatever kind deed you do for others, keep quiet.”

Officium alterius multis narrare memento;
at quaecumque aliis benefeceris ipse, sileto.

Image result for ancient roman friendship wall painting

Some Roman Morals for a Season of Gifts

Cicero, De Officiis 3.118

“For goodness, generosity and kindness cannot exist any more than friendship if they are not pursued for themselves but are nurtured for the sake of pleasure or advantage.”

Neque enim bonitas nec liberalitas nec comitas esse potest, non plus quam amicitia, si haec non per se expetantur, sed ad voluptatem utilitatemve referantur.

Publilius Syrus, 78

“Generosity even devises an excuse for giving”

Benignus etiam causam dandi cogitat.

Seneca, De Beneficiis 4

“All generosity hurries—it is characteristic of one who does something willingly to do it quickly. If someone comes to help slowly or drags it out day by day, he does not do it sincerely. And he has thus lost the two most important things: time and a sign of his willing friendship. To be slowly willing is a sign of being unwilling.”

Omnis benignitas properat, et proprium est libenter facientis cito facere; qui tarde et diem de die extrahens profuit, non ex animo fecit. Ita duas res maximas perdidit, et tempus et argumentum amicae voluntatis; tarde velle nolentis est.


Image result for Ancient Roman friendship frieze

Aeneas Panel from the Ara Pacis

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