A Drowning and Illiterate Husband

Eunapius, Lives of the Philosophers 477

“All people, then, rushed through Asia to Maximus—both those who were then in power or had been removed from office, and also the strongest representatives of the senates. The people also closed off the entrances to Maximus’ home, leaping with shouts which is what the common people do whenever they might attract someone’s attention.

At the same time the women were pouring into the side-door to his wife and they were amazed at her luck and were asking that she remember them. She demonstrated such a knowledge of philosophy that Maximus seemed unable to swim and ignorant of the alphabet by comparison.”

πάντες οὖν ἄνθρωποι παρὰ τὸν Μάξιμον ἤδη συνετρόχαζον κατὰ τὴν Ἀσίαν, ὅσοι τε ἦσαν ἐν ἀρχαῖς καὶ ὅσοι τούτων ἀπελέλυντο, τό τε κρεῖττον τῶν βουλευτηρίων. καὶ δῆμος ἐστενοχώρει τὰς προόδους τῷ Μαξίμῳ μετὰ βοῆς πηδῶντες, ἣν δῆμος, ὅταν τινὰ θεραπεύῃ, ἐκ πολλοῦ μεμελέτηκεν· αἵ τε γυναῖκες παρὰ τὴν γυναῖκα τῇ πλαγίᾳ θύρᾳ παρεισεχέοντο, τὴν εὐδαιμονίαν θαυμάζουσαι καὶ μεμνῆσθαι σφῶν ἀξιοῦσαι· ἡ δὲ φιλοσοφίας ἕνεκεν Μάξιμον οὔτε νεῖν οὔτε γράμματα εἰδότα ἀπέφαινεν.

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From the Medieval Manuscripts Blog

Why Weep Without Reason? All Mortals Die

IMT Kyz Kapu Dağ 1694  [= Greek Anthology 7.334] (Cyzicos, 2/3 Century CE)

“Pitiless god, why did you show me the light
Only for a brief number of few years?
Is it because you wanted to afflict my poor mother
With tears and laments through my short life?

She bore me and raised me and paid much more
Mind to my education than my father.
For he left me as a small orphan in this home
While she endured every kind of labor for me.

It would have been dear for me to have had success
Before our respected leaders with speeches in the law courts.
But the adolescent bloom of lovely youth did not
Reach my face. There was no marriage, no torches.

She did not sing the famous marriage song for me,
And the ill-fated woman never saw a child, a remnant
Of our much-lamented family. And it hurts me even when dead
My mother Polittê’s still growing grief
In her mourning thoughts over Phronto, the child she bore
Swift-fated, the empty pride of a dear country.

B. “Pôlittê, endure your grief, rein in your tears.
Many mothers have seen dead sons.
But they were not like him in their ways and life,
They were not so reverent toward their mother’s sweet face.
But why mourn so uselessly? Why weep without purpose?
All mortals will go to Hades in common.”

A.1 νηλεὲς ὦ δαῖμων, τί δέ μοι καὶ φέγγος ἔδειξας
εἰς ὀλίγων ἐτέων μέτρα μινυνθάδια;
ἦ ἵνα λυπήσῃς δι’ ἐμὴν βιότοιο τελευτήν
μητέρα δειλαίην δάκρυσι καὶ στοναχαῖς,
5 ἥ μ’ ἔτεχ’, ἥ μ’ ἀτίτηλε καὶ ἣ πολὺ μείζονα πατρός
φροντίδα παιδείης ἤνυσεν ἡμετέρης;
ὃς μὲν γὰρ τυτθόν τε καὶ ὀρφανὸν ἐν μεγάροισι
κάλλιπεν, ἣ δ’ ἐπ’ ἐμοὶ πάντας ἔτλη καμάτους·
ἦ μὲν ἐμοὶ φίλον ἦεν ἐφ’ ἁγνῶν ἡγεμονήων
10  ἐμπρεπέμεν μύθοις ἀμφὶ δικασπολίαις·
ἀλλά μοι οὐ γενύων ὑπεδέξατο κούριμον ἄνθος
ἡλικίης ἐρατῆς, οὐ γάμον, οὐ δαΐδας·
οὐχ ὑμέναιον ἄεισε περικλυτόν, οὐ τέκος εἶδε
δύσποτμος, ἐκ γενεῆς λείψανον ἡμετέρης
15 τῆς πολυθρηνήτου· λυπεῖ δέ με καὶ τεθνεῶτα
μητρὸς Πωλίττης πένθος ἀεξόμενον
Φρόντωνος γοεραῖς ἐπὶ φροντίσιν, ἣ τέκε παῖδα
ὠκύμορον, κενεὸν χάρμα φίλης πατρίδος.

B.19 Πωλίττα, τλῆθι πένθος, εὔνασον δάκρυ·
20 πολλαὶ θανόντας εἶδον υἱεῖς μητέρες· ——
ἀλλ’ οὐ τοιούτους τὸν τρόπον καὶ τὸν βίον,
οὐ μητέρων σέβοντας ἡδίστην θέαν· ——
τί περισσὰ θρηνεῖς, τί δὲ μάτην ὀδύρεαι;
εἰς κοινὸν Ἅιδην πάντες ἥξουσι βροτοί.

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Ruins at Cyzicos

Evil Words Lead to Evil Deeds

Basil the Great, to Young Men 5

“For growing comfortable with wicked words is a kind of path towards wicked deeds. For this reason, we must defend the soul with all care, just in case we overlook something of the worse nature in accepting pleasure from words, as those who receive poisons with honey.

Therefore, we will not praise the poets when they slander, mock, or show people lusting or drunk, or when they characterize happiness with a full table or corrupting songs. And we shall pay the least attention to their words about he gods, especially when they describe them as being many in number and in discord with each other. For in their poems, brothers war with brothers, parents fight with children, and the children have war without truce against their parents. We will leave to the stage performers those adulterous acts of the gods, their lusts and sex out in the open, and especially those of the highest and best of all, Zeus, how they tell it, those stories someone would blush even if they were telling them about animals!”

ἡ γὰρ πρὸς τοὺς φαύλους τῶν λόγων συνήθεια, ὁδός τίς ἐστιν ἐπὶ τὰ πράγματα. διὸ δὴ πάσῃ φυλακῇ τὴν ψυχὴν τηρητέον, μὴ διὰ τῆς τῶν λόγων ἡδονῆς παραδεξάμενοί τι λάθωμεν τῶν χειρόνων, ὥσπερ οἱ τὰ δηλητήρια μετὰ τοῦ μέλιτος προσιέμενοι, οὐ τοίνυν ἐπαινεσόμεθα τοὺς ποιητὰς οὐ λοιδορουμένους, οὐ σκώπτοντας, οὐκ ἐρῶντας ἢ μεθύοντας μιμουμένους, οὐχ ὅταν τραπέζῃ πληθούσῃ καὶ ᾠδαῖς ἀνειμέναις τὴν εὐδαιμονίαν ὁρίζωνται.πάντων δὲ ἥκιστα περὶ θεῶν τι διαλεγομένοις προσέξομεν, καὶ μάλισθ᾿ ὅταν ὡς περὶ πολλῶν τε αὐτῶν διεξίωσι καὶ τούτων οὐδὲ ὁμονοούντων. ἀδελφὸς γὰρ δὴ παρ᾿ ἐκείνοις διαστασιάζει πρὸς ἀδελφὸν καὶ γονεὺς πρὸς παῖδας καὶ τούτοις αὖθις πρὸς τοὺς τεκόντας πόλεμός ἐστιν ἀκήρυκτος. μοιχείας δὲ θεῶν καὶ ἔρωτας καὶ μίξεις ἀναφανδόν, καὶ ταῦτάς γε μάλιστα τοῦ κορυφαίου πάντων καὶ ὑπάτου Διός, ὡς αὐτοὶ λέγουσιν, ἃ κἂν περὶ βοσκημάτων τις λέγων ἐρυθριάσειε, τοῖς ἐπὶ σκηνῆς καταλείψομεν.

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Select Only What You Like from The Ancients

St. Basil may have set some patterns that persist to this day.

Basil the Great, To Young Men 4

“Don’t be surprised if I have discovered something pretty profitable for those of you who go each day to teachers and the sayings of ancient men in the works they have left behind them. This is the very thing I have come for the purpose of telling you, that it is not necessary that you give up to these men for good the rudders of your understanding, the way you would a ship, to follow them wherever they lead. No, accept from them only as much as is useful and recognize what should be overlooked.”

Μὴ θαυμάζετε δὲ εἰ καὶ καθ᾿ ἑκάστην ἡμέραν εἰς διδασκάλους φοιτῶσι, καὶ τοῖς ἐλλογίμοις τῶν παλαιῶν ἀνδρῶν, δι᾿ ὧν καταλελοίπασι λόγων, συγγινομένοις ὑμῖν αὐτός τι παρ᾿ ἐμαυτοῦ λυσιτελέστερον ἐξευρηκέναι φημί. τοῦτο μὲν οὖν αὐτὸ καὶ ξυμβουλεύσων ἥκω, τὸ μὴ δεῖν εἰς ἅπαξ τοῖς ἀνδράσι τούτοις, ὥσπερ πλοίου, τὰ πηδάλια τῆς διανοίας ὑμῶν παραδόντας, ᾗπερ ἂν ἄγωσι, ταύτῃ συνέπεσθαι· ἀλλ᾿ ὅσον ἐστὶ χρήσιμον αὐτῶν δεχομένους, εἰδέναι τί χρὴ καὶ παριδεῖν.

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A Husband Writes Home with a Packing List

P.Mich. 3 214

“Paniskos [writes] to my spouse, Ploutogenia, mother of my daughter, many greetings.

Above all, I pray for your good fortune every day from the paternal gods. I want you to know, sister, that we have been staying in Koptos near your sister and her children, so do not feel any annoyance at coming to Koptos, since your relatives are here. And just as you wholly desire to embrace her much and you pray to the gods each day, so too does she long to embrace you with your mother.

As soon as you receive this letter, make ready so that you may come immediately if I send for you. And, when you come, bring with you: ten skins of wool, six jars of olives, four of honey, my shield—only the unused one—and my helmet. Oh, bring my lances too. Bring also all the parts for the tent. If you find the occasion, come here with good people. Have Nonnos come too. Bring all of our clothing when you come. Also bring your golden jewelry when you come, but don’t wear those things openly on the boat.

Greetings to my lady and my daughter Heliodôra. Hermias says hello.

On the other side: “Give this to my wife and my daughter. From their father Paniskos.”

Πανίσκο[ς] τῇ σοιμβ[ί]ῳ μου Πλουτογενίᾳ μητρὶ τῆς θυγατρός μου πλῖστα χαίρειν. πρὸ μὲν <πάντων> εὔχομέ σοι τὴν ὁλοκληρία[ν] καθ᾿ ἑκάστην ἡμέραν παρὰ τοῖς θεοῖς πᾶ⟦τρ⟧σι. γινώσκειν σε οὖν θέλω, ἀδελφή, ὅτι ἐν Κόπτωι αἰ⟦ε⟧μίναμεν ἐνγὺς τῆς ἀδελφῆς ⟦μου⟧ σου καὶ τῶν τέκνων αὐτῆς, ὅπως μὴ λυπηθῇς ἐρχομένη ἐν τῇ Κόπτῳ· εἰσὶ γὰρ ἐνθάδε οἱ ἀδελφοί σου. ὅπερ καὶ σὺ πάντως βούλῃ αὐτὴν ἀσπάσαστε {αὐτὴν} πολλά, τοῖς θεοῖς εὔχετ[ε] καθ᾿ ἡμέραν βουλομένη σε ἀσπάζε[σ]θαι μετὰ τῆς μητρός σου. δ[ε]ξαμ[έ]νη οὖν μου τὰ γράμ <μα>-τα ταῦτα ποίησόν σου τὰ <κατὰ> χέρα, ὅπως, ἐὰν πέμψω ἐπὶ σέν, ταχέως ἔλθῃς. καὶ ἔνεγκον ἐρχομένη ποκάρια ἐριδίων δέκα, ἐλεῶν κεράμια ἕξ, στά⟦υ⟧γματος κεράμια τέσσερα, καὶ τὸ ὅπλον μου τὸ κενὸν μόνον, τὸ κασίδιόν μου. φέρε καὶ τὰ λογχία μου. φέρε καὶ τὰ τοῦ παπυλίωνος σκεύη. ἐὰν εὕρητε εὐκερίαν, μετὰ ἀνθρώπων καλῶν δεῦτε. ἐρχέστω μεθ᾿ ἡμῶν Νόννος. ἔνεγκον ἡμῶν πάντα τὰ ἡμάτια ἐρχομένη. ἔνεγκον ἐρχομένη σου τὰ χρυσία, ἀλλὰ μὴ αὐτὰ φορέσῃς ἐν τῷ πλο[ί]ῳ. ἀσπάζεμε τὴν κυρίαν μου θυγατέραν Ἡλιοδώραν. ἀσπάζετε ὑμᾶς Ἑρμίας.

pap
From APIS

The Implements We Worship

Anonymous, Epistle to Diognetus 2

“Again, couldn’t those things which you worship be reshaped by humans into implements similar to the rest? Aren’t they all deaf? Aren’t they all blind? Aren’t they soulless and without perception? Aren’t they incapable of motion? Aren’t they rotting? Aren’t they decaying?

And you call these things gods. You are slaves to these things. You worship them. In the end, you will be like them.”

οὐ ταῦτα πάλιν, τὰ νῦν ὑφ᾿ ὑμῶν προσκυνούμενα, δύναιτ᾿ ἂν ὑπὸ ἀνθρώπων σκεύη ὅμοια γενέσθαι τοῖς λοιποῖς; οὐ κωφὰ πάντα; οὐ τυφλά; οὐκ ἄψυχα; οὐκ ἀναίσθητα; οὐκ ἀκίνητα; οὐ πάντα σηπόμενα; οὐ πάντα φθειρόμενα;

ταῦτα θεοὺς καλεῖτε, τούτοις δουλεύετε, τούτοις προσκυνεῖτε, τέλεον δ᾿ αὐτοῖς ἐξομοιοῦσθε.

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A Book Replaced By No Other

Libanius, Autobiography 148-149

“Another detail, small, yet not small, is worth adding to these things. For, I will perhaps seem to be pedantic to some of you, but I, bitten deep, know that I feel this way because of a serious matter.

See, I had a copy of Thucydides, with charming and small writing. The whole thing was easy enough to lift that I used to carry it myself with a slave following me and the burden was a delight. I learned enough of the war of the Spartan and Athenians in it to feel what, perhaps, others have felt too. I would never even come near to the same pleasure from another copy of the book.

Because I used to praise this possession too much to too many people and was delighting it more than Polykrates did his ring, I attracted thieves to it, some of whom I caught. But the last one of them started a fire to avoid being caught and so I stopped searching but I could not let go of grief. In fact, every profit I had from Thucydides began to shrink once I found him in different writing with displeasure.”

  1. Τούτοις ἄξιον ἐκεῖνο προσθεῖναι σμικρόν τε καὶ οὐ σμικρόν· ὑμῶν μὲν γὰρ ἴσως τῳ μικρολογεῖσθαι δόξω, δηχθεὶς δὲ αὐτὸς τὴν ψυχὴν οἶδα καὶ ἐπὶ μεγάλῳ τοῦτο παθών. ἦν μοι ἡ Θουκυδίδου συγγραφή, γράμματα μὲν ἐν μικρότητι χαρίεντα, τὸ δὲ σύμπαν οὕτω ῥᾴδιον φέρειν ὥστ᾿ αὐτὸς ἔφερον παιδὸς ἀκολουθοῦντος καὶ τὸ φορτίον τέρψις ἦν. ἐν τούτῳ τὸν πόλεμον τῶν Πελοποννησίων καὶ Ἀθηναίων μαθὼν ἐπεπόνθειν ὅπερ ἴσως ἤδη τις καὶ ἕτερος· οὐ γὰρ ἂν ἐξ ἑτέρας βίβλου ταῦτ᾿ ἂν αὖθις ἐπῆλθον πρὸς ἡδονήν.
  2. ἐπαινῶν δὴ πολλὰ καὶ πρὸς πολλοὺς τὸ κτῆμα καὶ εὐφραινόμενος μᾶλλον ἢ Πολυκράτης τῷ δακτυλίῳ κλέπτας αὐτῷ τοῖς ἐπαίνοις ἐπῆγον, ὧν τοὺς μὲν ἄλλους εὐθὺς ᾕρουν, ὁ δέ γε τελευταῖος πῦρ1ἀνῆψε τοῦ μὴ ἁλῶναι, καὶ οὕτω δὴ τοῦ ζητεῖν μὲν ἐπεπαύμην, τὸ μὴ λυπεῖσθαι δὲ οὐκ εἶχον. ἀλλὰ καὶ τὸ κέρδος μοι τὸ παρὰ τοῦ Θουκυδίδου μέγα ἂν γενόμενον μεῖον ἤρχετο διὰ τὸ σὺν ἀηδίᾳ γράμμασιν ἑτέροις ὁμιλεῖν.

 

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Alas, not Libanius’ text:

This tale reminds me of the box-Iliad:

Plutarch, Life of Alexander 26.4

“When a small box was brought to him—which seem more valuable than the rest of the possessions and baggage they had taken from Dareios, [Alexander] asked his friends what thing seem especially worthy of being put in it. Although many of them made many suggestions, Alexander said that he would keep the Iliad safe by placing it inside. Not a few of the most credible sources claim this.

If, as the Alexandrians say is true—since they believe Herakleides—Homer was no lazy or unprofitable travel companion…”

Κιβωτίου δέ τινος αὐτῷ προσενεχθέντος, οὗ πολυτελέστερον οὐδὲν ἐφάνη τοῖς τὰ Δαρείου χρήματα καὶ τὰς ἀποσκευὰς παραλαμβάνουσιν, ἠρώτα τοὺς φίλους, ὅ τι δοκοίη μάλιστα τῶν ἀξίων σπουδῆς εἰς αὐτὸ καταθέσθαι. πολλὰ δὲ πολλῶν λεγόντων, αὐτὸς ἔφη τὴν ᾿Ιλιάδα φρουρήσειν ἐνταῦθα καταθέμενος· καὶ ταῦτα μὲνοὐκ ὀλίγοι τῶν ἀξιοπίστων μεμαρτυρήκασιν. εἰ δ’, ὅπερ ᾿Αλεξανδρεῖς λέγουσιν ῾Ηρακλείδῃ (fr. 140 W.) πιστεύοντες, ἀληθές ἐστιν, οὔκουν [οὐκ] ἀργὸς οὐδ’ ἀσύμβολος αὐτῷ συστρατεύειν ἔοικεν ῞Ομηρος.

This passage refers to an earlier moment in the Life. Coincidentally, I also sleep the same way…

8.4

“[Alexander] was also naturally a lover of language, a lover of learning, and a lover of reading. Because he believed that the Iliad was a guidebook for military excellence—and called it that too—he took a copy of it which had been edited by Aristotle which they used to refer to as “Iliad-in-a-Box”. He always kept it with his dagger beneath his pillow—as Onêsikritos tells us.

When there were no other books in -and, he sent to Harpalos for some more. Then Harpalus sent him Philistos’ books along with some tragedies of Euripides, Sophokles and Aeschylus and the dithyrambs of Telestes and Philoxenos.”

ἦν δὲ καὶ φύσει φιλόλογος καὶ φιλομαθὴς καὶ φιλαναγνώστης, καὶ τὴν μὲν  ᾿Ιλιάδα τῆς πολεμικῆς ἀρετῆς ἐφόδιον καὶ νομίζων καὶ ὀνομάζων, ἔλαβε μὲν ᾿Αριστοτέλους διορθώσαντος ἣν ἐκ τοῦ νάρθηκος καλοῦσιν, εἶχε δ’ ἀεὶ μετὰ τοῦ ἐγχειριδίου κειμένην ὑπὸ τὸ προσκεφάλαιον, ὡς ᾿Ονησίκριτος ἱστόρηκε (FGrH 134 F 38)· τῶν δ’ ἄλλων βιβλίων οὐκ εὐπορῶν ἐν τοῖς ἄνω τόποις, ῞Αρπαλον ἐκέλευσε πέμψαι, κἀκεῖνος ἔπεμψεν αὐτῷ τάς τε Φιλίστου βίβλους καὶ τῶν Εὐριπίδου καὶ Σοφοκλέους καὶ Αἰσχύλου τραγῳδιῶν συχνάς, καὶ Τελέστου καὶ Φιλοξένου διθυράμβους.