Wondrous Wednesday: How Sicily Became an Island and Shooting Arrows at the Gods

Paradoxographus Vaticanus, 39-46

39 “Akulios the Roman Historian says that before a cataclysm Sicily was not an island as it is today but it was part of the mainland connected to what later became Italy. It was cut off from the Apennines from a deluge of floods at their roots, and the land was broken at Skullaion and the island was made. This is why that side of Italy is called Rhêgion.”

᾿Ακύλιος ὁ ῾Ρωμαῖος ἱστορικός φησι τὴν Σικελίαν πρὸ τοῦ κατακλυσμοῦ μὴ νῆσον εἶναι ὡς σήμερον, ἀλλ’ ἤπειρον γενέσθαι συνημμένην τῇ ὕστερον ᾿Ιταλίᾳ· ἐκ δὲ τῆς ἐπικλύσεως τῶν ῥευμάτων τῶν ῥιζῶν ἀποσπασθεῖσαν τοῦ ᾿Απεννίνου, κατὰ τὸ Σκύλλαιον ῥαγείσης τῆς ἠπείρου, νῆσον ἀποκαταστῆναι καὶ διὰ τοῦτο ῾Ρήγιον ἀποκληθῆναι τὸ πλευρὸν τῆς ᾿Ιταλίας ἐκεῖνο.

40 “The Persians punish those who bring harm to a pyre or piss in a river wash clean in it with death.”

Πέρσαι τοὺς προσφέροντας τῷ πυρὶ βλάβος ἢ ποταμῷ ἐνουροῦντας ἢ ἐναπονιζομένους θανάτῳ ζημιοῦσιν.

41 “They say that the Getai play drums along with Zeus’ thunder and shoot arrows into the sky to threaten the god.”

Γέτας φασὶ ταῖς τοῦ Διὸς βρονταῖς ἐπιτυμπανίζειν καὶ τοξεύοντας εἰς τὸν ἀέρα ἀπειλεῖν τῷ θεῷ.

42 “Among the Padaioi, an Indian tribe, the wisest of those who are present begin the sacrifices. And he asks from the gods for noting other than a sense of justice.”

᾿Εν Παδαίοις, ᾿Ινδικῷ ἔθνει, ὁ συνετώτατος τῶν παρόντων κατάρχεται τῶν ἱερῶν· αἰτεῖται δὲ παρὰ τῶν θεῶν οὐδὲν ἄλλο πλὴν δικαιοσύνης.

“Alexander the son of Philip ruled the Macedonians for 14 years. He conquered the Persians at the Granicus in his [24th year]. For this reason he used to honor that day especially and sacrified to the gods because it seem that the greatest things were accomplished in that fourth. And if he ever wanted to do something he waited for the fourth.”

43᾿Αλέξανδρος ὁ Φιλίππου τὴν τῶν Μακεδόνων ἀρχὴν <ἦρξεν> τεσσαρεσκαιδέκατος. ἐνίκησε δὲ Πέρσας ἐπὶ Γρανικῷ κδ’· διὸ καὶ τὴν ἡμέραν σφόδρα ἐτίμα καὶ θεοῖς ἔθυεν, ὅτι ἐν ταύτῃ τῇ τετάρτῃ δηλονότι τὰ μέγιστα κατεπράχθη. καὶ εἴ ποτέ τι δρᾶν ἐβούλετο, περιέμενε τὴν τετράδα.

44 Among the Galataians, whoever flees after committing injustice in the worst ways, resolved it if he gave a horse or a trumpet.”

Παρὰ Γαλάταις ἐάν, <ὅσ>τις τὰ μέγιστα ἀδικήσας κατέφυγεν, ἐπι<δῷ> ἵππον ἢ σάλπιγγα, ἀπελύετο.

45 “These same people, when they are making plans about war, communicate with women and whatever the women decide wins the day. If they are defeated while they battle, they cut off the heads of the women who gave them advice about conducting the war, and they throw them from the land.”

οὗτοι περὶ πολέμου βουλευόμενοι ταῖς γυναιξὶν ἀνακοινοῦνται, καὶ ὅ τι ἂν γνῶσιν αἱ γυναῖκες, τοῦτο κρατεῖ· ἐὰν δὲ ἡττηθῶσι πολεμοῦντες, τῶν γυναικῶν, αἳ συνεβουλεύσαντο πόλεμον ἄρασθαι, τὰς κεφαλὰς ἀποτεμόντες ἔξω ῥίπτουσι
τῆς γῆς.

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Book of Hours, MS M.1004 fol. 43v -The Morgan Library & Museum

Fantastic Friday 3: Final Adventures in Ethnography

 

Paradoxographus Vaticanus. 56-62 

56 “Among the Carthaginians it is impossible for those who have not served in the army to receive gold tribute. They receive as many payments in perpetuity as expeditions they served on.”

Παρὰ Καρχηδονίοις οὐκ ἔξεστι τοῖς ἀστρατεύτοις φορεῖν ἐνώτιον χρυσοῦν· ὅσας δ’ ἂν στρατεύσωνται στρατείας, τοσαῦτα ἀεὶ φοροῦσιν ἐνώτια.

57 “The Spartans shame/disfigure their elderly men no less than their fathers. And virgins have the same nude training as men do. It is not allowed for foreigners to live in Sparta nor for Spartans to offer them hospitality. These order women to get pregnant by the most well-formed men, both citizens and foreigners.”

Λακεδαιμόνιοι τοὺς γέροντας αἰσχύνονται οὐδὲν ἧττον ἢ πατέρας. γυμνάσια δ’ ὥσπερ ἀνδρῶν ἐστιν, οὕτω καὶ παρθένων. ξένοις δ’ ἐμβιοῦν οὐκ ἔξεστιν ἐν Σπάρτῃ
οὔτε Σπαρτιάταις ξενιτεύειν. οὗτοι ταῖς γυναιξὶν παρακελεύονται ἐκ τῶν εὐειδεστάτων κύειν καὶ ἀστῶν καὶ ξένων.

58 “First of the Greeks, the Cretans were possessing the laws which Minos set down. Minos claimed to have learned them from Zeus after he wandered for nine years over a certain month which is called the “cave of Zeus”. The children of the Cretans are raised in common and brought up hardy with on another. They learn the arts of war, and hunts, and they also practice uphill runs without shoes and they work hard on the pyrrhic dance which Purrikhos invented first.”

Κρῆτες πρῶτοι ῾Ελλήνων νόμους ἔσχον Μίνωος θεμένου· προσεποιεῖτο δὲ Μίνως παρὰ τοῦ Διὸς αὐτοὺς μεμαθηκέναι ἐννέα ἔτη εἴς τι ὄρος φοιτήσας, ὃ Διὸς ἄντρον ἐλέγετο. Οἱ Κρητῶν παῖδες ἀγελάζονται κοινῇ μετ’ ἀλλήλων σκληραγωγούμενοι καὶ τὰ πολέμια διδασκόμενοι καὶ θήρας δρόμους τε ἀνάντεις ἀνυπόδετοι ἀνύοντες καὶ τὴν ἐνόπλιον πυρρίχην ἐκπονοῦντες, ἥντινα πρῶτος εὗρε Πύρριχος.

59 “The Ligues hurl their parents from a cliff when they are no longer useful because of old age.”

Λίγυες τοὺς γονεῖς, ὅταν μηκέτι ὦσι διὰ γῆρας χρήσιμοι, κατακρημνίζουσιν.

60 “The Tauroi, a Skythian tribe, bury the kindest of the friends to the kings along with them. And the king, when a friend dies, cuts a little bit from his ear and takes away more when someone closer dies. When it is one of the closest companions of all, he takes the whole thing.”

<Ταῦροι, Σκυθικὸν ἔθνος, τοῖς βασιλεῦσι τοὺς εὐνουστάτους τῶν φίλων συγκαταθάπτουσιν>. ὁ δὲ βασιλεὺς ἀποθανόντος φίλου μικρόν τι τοῦ ὠτίου ἀποτέμνει, ἀναγκαιοτέρου δὲ τελευτήσαντος πλεῖον ἀφαιρεῖ· ὅταν δὲ ὁ πάντων
εὐνούστατος ἀποθάνῃ, <τὸ ὅλον>.

61 “Some of the Skythians, after they butcher and salt one who has died, leave him out to dry in the sun. After that, they string the meat on a cord and tie it to their own neck. Then, whenever they meet one of their friends, they take out a little dagger,  cut some of the meat and give it to them. They do this until they consume it all.”

Σκυθῶν τινες τὸν τελευτήσαντα κρεονομήσαντες καὶ ἁλίσαντες ξηραίνουσιν ἐν ἡλίῳ· μετὰ ταῦτα δὲ ἐνείραντες ἁρπεδόνι τὰ κρέα ἐξάπτουσι τῷ ἑαυτῶν τραχήλῳ, καὶ μαχαίριον λαβόντες, ᾧ ἂν ἐντύχωσι τῶν φίλων, τεμόντες κρέα διδόασι. καὶ τοῦτο ποιοῦσι μέχρις ἂν πάντα δαπανήσωσιν.

62 “The Athenians when they are completing these [rites] to the grave and they bring all the grain, a sign of the discovery of by them of fruits of all kinds”

᾿Αθηναῖοι τοὺς τελευτήσαντες ἐπὶ τὸν τάφον ἄγοντες καὶ πᾶν ὄσπριον ἐπέφερον, σύμβολον τῆς παρ’ αὐτῶν εὑρέσεως τῶν καρπῶν τῶν ἁπάντων.

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BNF Latin 9187 Coutumes de Toulouse, F34v

Fantastic Friday: Adventures in Ethnography

Paradoxographus Palatinus 46-50

46 “The Dardanians, an Illyrian tribe, bathe themselves three times in their lives, when they are born and when they die. When they send an embassy to their enemies, they take a lamb and a branch of a tree. If their enemies accept their treaties, they leave what they brought. If they don’t, they take it back again.”

Δαρδανεῖς, ᾿Ιλλυρικὸν ἔθνος, τρὶς ἐν τῷ βίῳ λούονται, ὅταν γεννῶνται καὶ ὅταν τελευτῶσιν. ὅταν δὲ ἐπικηρυκεύωνται τοῖς πολεμίοις, ἄρνα κομίζουσι καὶ κλάδον δένδρου· καὶ ἐὰν μὲν δέχωνται οἱ πολέμιοι τὰς σπονδάς, καταλείπουσιν ἃ ἐκόμισαν, εἰ δὲ μή, πάλιν αὐτὰ ἀποφέρουσιν.

47 “Some of the Skythians are called man-eaters because they drink from human skulls. They also make handtowels by working the skin of the heads of their enemies. Then they flay the rest of the body with claws and put them on their horses.”

Σκυθῶν οἱ ἀνδροφάγοι λεγόμενοι ἐκ μὲν κρανίων πίνουσιν ἀνθρωπίνων, τὸ δὲ δέρμα τῆς κεφαλῆς τῶν πο-λεμίων ἐργαζόμενοι ποιοῦσι χειρόμακτρον, τὸ δὲ λοιπὸν σῶμα ἐκδείραντες σὺν τοῖς ὄνυξιν ἐπιβάλλουσιν ἐπὶ τοὺς ἵππους.

48 “The Sauromatai dine for three days until they are full. They obey women in everything and themselves wear female vestments. If any of their enemies flee to the fire of their hearth and darken their forehead with ashes, they no longer harm them, as if they were a household slave. They do not allow a virgin to settle down with a man before she kills an enemy.”

Σαυρομάται διὰ τριῶν ἡμερῶν σιτοῦνται εἰς πλήρωσιν. ταῖς γυναιξὶ δὲ πάντα πείθονται, καὶ αὐτοὶ δὲ φοροῦσι γυναικεῖαν ἐσθῆτα. ἐὰν δέ τις τῶν πολεμίων
καταφύγῃ πρὸς τῷ ἐπὶ τῆς ἑστίας πυρὶ καὶ τοῖς ἄνθραξι τὸ πρόσωπον μολύνῃ, οὐκέτι αὐτόν, ὡς οἰκέτην, ἀδικοῦσιν. παρθένον δὲ οὐ πρότερον συνοικίζουσιν εἰς ἄνδρα, πρὶν ἂν πολέμιον κτάνῃ.

49 “Among the Phrygians, if someone kills a farming ox or steals some of the equipment for farming, he is punished with death.”

Παρὰ Φρυξίν, ἐάν τις γεωργὸν βοῦν ἀποκτείνῃ ἢ σκεῦος τῶν περὶ τὴν γεωργίαν κλέψῃ, θανάτῳ ζημιοῦται.

50 “The Lykioi honor women more than men and are named from the mother not the father. They leave their inheritance to daughters not to sons. If anyone who is free is caught stealing, he becomes a slave. They do not provide witnesses in trials immediately, but after a month.”

Λύκιοι τὰς γυναῖκας μᾶλλον ἢ τοὺς ἄνδρας τιμῶσι καὶ καλοῦνται μητρόθεν, οὐ πατρόθεν· τὰς δὲ κληρονομίας ταῖς θυγατράσιν ἀπολείπουσιν, οὐ τοῖς υἱοῖς. ὃς δ’ ἂν ἐλεύθερος ἁλῷ κλέπτων, δοῦλος γίνεται. τὰς δὲ μαρτυρίας ἐν ταῖς δίκαις οὐκ εὐθὺς παρέχονται, ἀλλὰ μετὰ μῆνα.

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KBR Ms.9961-62 Peterborough Psalter Folio 091v

Wandering Souls and Empty Bodies

These tales are popular among the paradoxographers. Apollonios also tells of Epimenides and Aristeas, and Hermotimus.

 Pliny the Elder 7. 174-5 

“This is the mortal condition—we are born to face these chance occurrences and others like them so that we ought not even trust death when it comes to a human. We find, among other examples, so soul of Hermotimos the Clazomenian which was in the habit of wandering with his body left behind and after a long journey to announce what they could not know unless they were present. Meanwhile, the body remained half-alive until it was cremated by some enemies called the Cantharidae who, ultimately, stole from the returning body as if taking away a sheath.

We also know of Aristeas of Procennesus whose soul was seen alighting from his mouth in the image of a crow—along with the excessive fiction that accompanies this tale. I also approach the story of Epimenides of Knossos in a similar way: when he was a boy and tired out by heat and a journey he went to sleep in a cave and slumbered for 57 years. Upon waking, he wondering and the shape of things and the change as if it were just the next day. Even though old age overcame him in the same number of days as years slept, he still lived to 157 years old.

The gender of women seems to be especially susceptible to this ill because of the disruption of the womb—which, if corrected can restore proper breathing. That work famous among the Greeks of Heraclides pertains to this subject as well—he tells the story of a woman returned to life after being dead for seven days.”

haec est conditio mortalium: ad has et eiusmodi occasiones fortunae gignimur, ut de homine ne morti quidem debeat credi. reperimus inter exempla Hermotimi Clazomenii animam relicto corpore errare solitam vagamque e longinquo multa adnuntiare quae nisi a praesente nosci non possent, corpore interim semianimi, donec cremato eo inimici qui Cantharidae vocabantur remeanti animae veluti vaginam ademerint; Aristeae etiam visam evolantem ex ore in Proconneso corvi effigie, cum magna quae sequitur hanc fabulositate. quam equidem et in Gnosio Epimenide simili modo accipio, puerum aestu et itinere fessum in specu septem et quinquaginta dormisse annis, rerum faciem mutationemque mirantem velut postero die experrectum, hinc pari numero dierum senio ingruente, ut tamen in septimum et quinquagesimum atque centesimum vitae duraret annum. feminarum sexus huic malo videtur maxime opportunus conversione volvae, quae si corrigatur, spiritus restituitur. huc pertinet nobile illud apud Graecos volumen Hexaclidis septem diebus feminae exanimis ad vitam revocatae.

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Yates_thompson_ms_14_f070v_detail

Fantastic Friday 2: Further Adventures in Ethnography

Paradoxographus Vaticanus, 51-55

51 “The Assyrians sell their daughters in the marketplace to whoever wants to settle down with them. First the most well-born and most beautiful and then the rest in order. Whenever they get to the least attractive, they announce how much someone is willing to take to live with them and they add this consolation price from the fee charged for the desirable girls to these [last ones].”

᾿Ασσύριοι τὰς παρθένους ἐν ἀγορᾷ πωλοῦσι τοῖς θέλουσι συνοικεῖν, πρῶτον μὲν τὰς εὐγενεστάτας καὶ καλλίστας, εἶτα τὰς λοιπὰς ἐφεξῆς· ὅταν δὲ ἔλθωσι ἐπὶ τὰς φαυλοτάτας, κηρύττουσι πόσον τις θέλει προσλαβὼν ταύταις συνοικεῖν, καὶ τὸ συναχθὲν ἐκ τῆς τῶν εὐπρεπῶν τιμῆς ταύταις προστίθενται [ταῖς παρθένοις].

52 “If it is impossible to do something, the Persians do not mention it. Among the Persians, whoever considers a new pleasure, obtains heaps of it. [Among the Persians] whoever is discovered by the king grieves throughout his life and drinks a stone draft. Whenever the king dies, all of his claims are released and people take what they want and act lawlessly for three days until, once they arrive at the royal doors, they seek a new king who will resolve the lawlessness. [Among the Persians] if the king designates someone to whip, he is thankful as if he received something good.”

Πέρσαι, ὃ μὴ ποιεῖν ἔξεστιν, οὐδὲ λέγουσιν. παρὰ Πέρσαις, ὃς ἂν ἡδονὴν καινὴν ἐπινοήσῃ, σῶρα λαμβάνει. [Παρὰ Πέρσαις] ὃς ἂν καταγνωσθῇ παρὰ
βασιλέως, πενθεῖ διὰ βίον καὶ ποτηρίῳ πίνει πετρίνῳ. ὅταν δὲ ὁ βασιλεὺς ἀποθάνῃ, ἀφίενται τῶν ἐγκλημάτων πάντες καὶ ἁρπάζουσιν ἂ θέλουσι καὶ παρανομοῦσιν ἐπὶ
τρεῖς ἡμέρας, ἕως ἂν ἐπὶ τὰς βασιλείους θύρας ἐλθόντες αἰτήσωνται βασιλέα, ὅστις αὐτοὺς ἀπαλλάξει τῆς ἀνομίας. [Παρὰ Πέρσαις] ἐάν τινα προστάξῃ βασιλεὺς μαστιγῶσαι, εὐχαριστεῖ ὡς ἀγαθοῦ τυχών.

53 “Among the Indians, if anyone ruins the hand or eye of an artisan he is punished with death.”

Παρὰ τοῖς ᾿Ινδοῖς ὁ τεχνίτου πηρώσας χεῖρα ἢ ὀφθαλμὸν θανάτῳ ζημιοῦται.

54 “Among the Egyptians it is not allowed for the illiterate to provide testimony.”

Παρ’ Αἰγυπτίοις μαρτυρεῖν ἀγραμμάτῳ οὐκ ἔξεστιν.

55 “the Libyan Atarantes judge the best of their daughters to be the ones who remained virgins for the longest time.”

᾿Ατάραντες Λίβυες τῶν θυγατέρων ἀρίστας κρίνουσι τὰς πλεῖστον χρόνον μεμενηκυίας παρθένους.

 

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The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. 5, fol. 36v

A Plague of Caspian Rats

Aelian, On the Nature of Animals 17.17

“Amyntas in his work which he named Stages writes that in the Caspian land there are many herds of cattle and horses almost beyond counting. He adds this as well, that in some seasons an unconquerable plague of rats blights the land. He continues with evidence, saying that even though the rivers flow at that of year with a huge surge, the rats swim fearlessly and they even hold on to each other’s tales, biting down on one another, to form a bridge and they they cross the strait in this way.

After swimming into the farmland, he says, they grind down the roots of crops and swarm over trees and once they use their fruits for their meals they sever the branches too just because they are not able to eat them. For this reason, the Caspians—in order to ward off this invasion of rats and the ruin they bring—do not kill the predatory birds which come in turn, flying down from the clouds, and fulfill their nature by freeing the Caspians of this plague.

Caspian foxes are so numerous that they frequent both the sheepfolds in the country and they also appear in cities. By Zeus, a fox will show up in a house not to steal something or ruin it, but like some kind of pet. The Caspian foxes wag their tails just like pet dogs in our land.

The rats of the terrible plague afflicting the Caspians are almost the same in size when you look a them as the ikhneumenos of Egypt, but they are wild, and terrible, and they have teeth strong enough to cut and even eat metal. The rats in Teridon, Babylonia are like this too—and traders bring their skins to sell among the Persians. Indeed, these skins are soft and can be sewn together as a tunic to warm people. And they call them kandutanes, because it is dear to them.

Here is something amazing about these rats: if a pregnant female is caught and her fetus is removed, when the female fetus is dissected and examined, it also has a baby.”

᾽Αμύντας ἐν τοῖς ἐπιγραφομένοις οὕτως ὑπ᾽ αὐτοῦ Σταθμοῖς κατὰ τὴν γῆν τὴν Κασπίαν καὶ βοῶν ἀγέλας λέγει πολλὰς καὶ κρείττονας ἀριθμοῦ εἶναι καὶ ἵππων. ἐπιλέγει δὲ ἄρα καὶ ἐκεῖνο, ἐν ὡρῶν τισι περιτροπαῖς μυῶν ἐπιδημίας γίνεσθαι πλῆθος ἄμαχον· καὶ τὸ μαρτύριον ἐπάγει λέγων, τῶν ποταμῶν τῶν ἀεννάων σὺν πολλῶι τῶι ῥοίζωι φερομένων, τοὺς δὲ καὶ μάλα ἀτρέπτως ἐπινήχεσθαί τε αὐτοῖς καὶ τὰς οὐρὰς ἀλλήλων ἐνδακόντας ἕρμα τοῦτο ἴσχειν, καὶ τοῦ διαβάλλειν τὸν πόρον σύνδεσμόν σφισιν ἰσχυρότατον ἀποφαίνει τόνδε.

ἐς τὰς ἀρούρας δὲ ἀπονηξάμενοι, φησί, καὶ τὰ λήια ὑποκείρουσι καὶ διὰ τῶν δένδρων ἀνέρπουσι καὶ τὰ ὡραῖα δεῖπνον ἔχουσι καὶ τοὺς κλάδους δὲ διακόπτουσιν, οὐδὲ ἐκείνους κατατραγεῖν ἀδυνατοῦντες. οὐκοῦν ἀμυνόμενοι οἱ Κάσπιοι τὴν ἐκ τῶν μυῶν ἐπιδρομήν τε ἅμα καὶ λύμην φείδονται τῶν γαμψωνύχων, οἵπερ οὖν καὶ αὐτοὶ κατὰ νέφη πετόμενοι εἶτα αὐτοὺς ἀνασπῶσιν, καὶ ἰδίαι τινὶ φύσει τοῖς Κασπίοις ἀναστέλλουσι τὸν λιμόν. ἀλώπηκες δὲ αἱ Κάσπιαι, τὸ πλῆθος αὐτῶν τοσοῦτόν ἐστιν ὡς καὶ ἐπιφοιτᾶν οὐ μόνον τοῖς αὐλίοις τοῖς κατὰ τοὺς ἀγρούς, ἤδη γε μὴν καὶ ἐς τὰς πόλεις παριέναι. καὶ ἐν οἰκίαι ἀλώπηξ φανεῖται οὐ μὰ Δία ἐπὶ λύμηι οὐδὲ ἁρπαγῆι, ἀλλὰ οἷα τιθασός· καὶ ὑποσαίνουσί τε αἱ Κάσπιοι καὶ ὑπαικάλλουσι τῶν παρ᾽ ἡμῖν κυνιδίων <δίκην>.

οἱ δὲ μύες οἱ τοῖς Κασπίοις ἐπίδημον ὄντες κακόν, μέγεθος αὐτῶν ὅσον κατά γε τοὺς Αἰγυπτίων ἰχνεύμονας ὁρᾶσθαι, ἄγριοι δὲ καὶ δεινοὶ καὶ καρτεροὶ τοὺς ὀδόντας, καὶ διακόψαι τε καὶ διατραγεῖν οἷοί τε εἰσὶ καὶ σίδηρον. τοιοῦτοι δὲ ἄρα καὶ οἱ μύες οἱ ἐν τῆι Τερηδόνι τῆς Βαβυλωνίας (F 7) εἰσίν, ὧνπερ οὖν καὶ τὰς δορὰς οἱ τούτων κάπηλοι ἐς Πέρσας ἄγουσι φόρτον. εἰσὶ δὲ ἁπαλαί, καὶ συνερραμέναι χιτῶνές τε ἅμα γίνονται καὶ ἀλεαίνουσιν αὐτούς. καλοῦνται δὲ ἄρα οὗτοι κανδυτᾶνες, ὡς ἐκείνοις φίλον.

θαυμάσαι δὲ τῶν μυῶν τῶνδε ἄξιον ἄρα καὶ τοῦτο· ἐὰν ἁλῶι μῦς κύουσα, κἆιτα ἐξαιρεθῆι τὸ ἔμβρυον, αὐτῆς δὲ διατμηθείσης ἐκείνης εἶτα μέντοι καὶ αὐτὸ διανοιχθῆι, καὶ ἐκεῖνο ἔχει βρέφος.

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Ste-Genevieve, MS 143 (Taken from Pinterest)

There are not  independent words for rat mouse in Ancient Greek.

μυόβρωτος: “mouse-eaten”

μυοδόχος: “containing mice”

μυοθήρας: “mouse-catcher”

μυοκτόνος: “mouse-killer”

μυομαχία: “a battle of mice”

μυοπάρων: “a small pirate boat”

μυόχοδον: “mouse dung”

A Happy Side of Madness

Aristotle, On Amazing Things Heard 832b

“The story goes that in Abydos there was a man who was afflicted with madness. He went into the theater and watched for many days as if there were actually people acting and applauded. When he had a respite from his affliction, he said that this was the most enjoyable time of his life.”

Λέγεται δέ τινα ἐν Ἀβύδῳ παρακόψαντα τῇ διανοίᾳ καὶ εἰς τὸ θέατρον ἐρχόμενον ἐπὶ πολλὰς ἡμέρας θεωρεῖν, ὡς ὑποκρινομένων τινῶν, καὶ ἐπισημαίνεσθαι· καὶ ὡς κατέστη τῆς παρακοπῆς, ἔφησεν ἐκεῖνον αὑτῷ τὸν χρόνον ἥδιστα βεβιῶσθαι.

This made me think of Thrasyllos again.

Aelian, 4.25

“Thrasyllos from the deme Aiksône endured an incredible and novel madness. For he left the city and went to the Peiraia and stayed there. He believed that all the ships that sailed in were his and he wrote down their names, checked the list when they left and rejoiced when they returned safely to the harbor again. He spent many years living with this sickness.

When his brother returned from Sicily, he took him to a doctor for treatment and he freed him from that sickness. But he often remembered the avocation of his sickness and used to say that he was never as happy as when he took pleasure at the sight of ships that weren’t his returning safely.”

Θράσυλλος ὁ Αἰξωνεὺς παράδοξον καὶ καινὴν ἐνόσησε μανίαν. ἀπολιπὼν γὰρ τὸ ἄστυ καὶ κατελθὼν ἐς τὸν Πειραιᾶ καὶ ἐνταῦθα οἰκῶν τὰ πλοῖα τὰ καταίροντα ἐν αὐτῷ πάντα ἑαυτοῦ ἐνόμιζεν εἶναι, καὶ ἀπεγράφετο αὐτὰ καὶ αὖ πάλιν ἐξέπεμπε καὶ τοῖς περισωζομένοις καὶ ἐσιοῦσιν ἐς τὸν λιμένα ὑπερέχαιρε· χρόνους δὲ διετέλεσε πολλοὺς συνοικῶν τῷ ἀρρωστήματι τούτῳ. ἐκ Σικελίας δὲ ἀναχθεὶς ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ παρέδωκεν αὐτὸν ἰατρῷ ἰάσασθαι, καὶ ἔπαυσεν αὐτὸν τῆς νόσου οὗτος. ἐμέμνητο δὲ πολλάκις τῆς ἐν μανίᾳ διατριβῆς, καὶ ἔλεγε μηδέποτε ἡσθῆναι τοσοῦτον, ὅσον τότε ἥδετο ἐπὶ ταῖς μηδὲν αὐτῷ προσηκούσαις ναυσὶν

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Bodleian 264

Fantastic Friday: Truffles in Thunder and Other Things Worth Knowing

Apollonios the Paradoxographer is credited with a text of 51 anecdotes usually dated to the 3rd or 2nd century BCE.  Some of these translations are pretty rough, so suggestions and corrections are welcome.

46 “In the fifth book of his Natural Causes, Theophrastos says that the covering of beans when they are placed near the roots of trees dry out the things that are growing. He also adds that native birds who eat these things constantly become barren. Therefore, for this reason and eventually because of many others the Pythagoreans prohibited the use of the bean. For it makes someone flatulent, and dyspeptic, and brings us bad dreams.

46 Θεόφραστος ἐν τῇ ε′ τῶν φυτικῶν αἰτιῶν φησιν τὰ κελύφια τῶν κυάμων περὶ τὰς ῥίζας τῶν δένδρων περιτιθέμενα ξηραίνειν τὰ φυόμενα. καὶ αἱ κατοικίδιαι δὲ ὄρνιθες συνεχῶς ταῦτα ἐσθίουσαι ἄτοκοι γίγνονται. ὅθεν καὶ διὰ ταύτην τὴν αἰτίαν, τάχα δὲ καὶ δι’ ἄλλας οἱ Πυθαγόρειοι ἀπηγορεύκασιν τῷ κυάμῳ χρῆσθαι· καὶ γὰρ πνευματοποιὸν καὶ δύσπεπτον, καὶ τοὺς ὀνείρους τεταραγμένους ἡμῖν ἐμποιεῖ.

47 “Truffles become harder when there is continuous thunder, just as Theophrastos says in his work On Plants.”

47 Τὰ ὕδνα βροντῶν συνεχῶν γιγνομένων σκληρότερα γίγνεται, καθάπερ Θεόφραστος ἐν τῷ περὶ φυτῶν εἴρηκεν.

48“Theophrastos says in his work On Plants that when the frankincense plant is wrapped with cloths it hinders moths from implanting.”

48 Θεόφραστος ἐν τῷ περὶ φυτῶν φησιν· ἡ λιβανωτὶς βοτάνη συντιθεμένη μετὰ ἱματίων κωλύει σῆτας ἐγγίγνεσθαι.

50 “In his work On Plants, in the last part of the material, Theophrastos says that Eunomos, the Khian and purveyor of drugs, did not [cleanse himself/die] while drinking many doses of hellebore. Once, even, when together with his fellow craftsmen he took over 22 drinks in one day as he sat in the agora and he did not return from his implements. Then he left to wash and eat, as he was accustomed, and did not vomit. He accomplished this after being in this custom for a long time, because he started from small amounts until he got to so many large ones. The powers of all drugs are less severe for those used to them and for some they are even useless.”

50 Θεόφραστος ἐν τῷ περὶ φυτῶν, ἐν τῇ ἐσχάτῃ τῆς πραγματείας· Εὔνομος, φησίν, ὁ Χῖος, ὁ φαρμακοπώλης, ἐλλεβόρου πίνων πλείονας πόσεις οὐκ ἐκαθαίρετο. καὶ ποτέ, ἔφη, ἐν μιᾷ ἡμέρᾳ συνθέμενος τοῖς ὁμοτέχνοις περὶ δύο καὶ εἴκοσι πόσεις ἔλαβεν ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾷ καθήμενος καὶ οὐκ ἐξανέστη ἀπὸ τῶν σκευῶν <μέχρι δείλης>. τότε δ’ ἀπῆλθεν λούσασθαι καὶ δειπνῆσαι, ὥσπερ εἰώθει, καὶ οὐκ ἐξήμεσεν.

 τοῦτο δὲ ἔπραξεν ἐν πολυχρονίῳ συνηθείᾳ γεγονώς, ἀρξάμενος ἀπὸ ὀλίγων ἕως τοσούτων πόσεων.πάντων δὲ τῶν φαρμάκων αἱ δυνάμεις ἀσθενέστεραι τοῖς συνειθισμένοις, ἐνίοις δὲ καὶ ἄπρακτοί εἰσιν.

51 “This is a matter worth knowing which Aristotle mentions in his Natural Problems. He says that a person who has eaten and drunk weighs the same as when he is fasting. He tries to provide a reason for this occurrence.”

51῎Αξιον δὲ ἐπιστῆσαι πρᾶγμα <ὃ> ᾿Αριστοτέλης, ἐν τοῖς φυσικοῖς προβλήμασιν, εἴρηκεν· τὸν ἄνθρωπόν φησιν βεβρωκότα καὶ πεπωκότα τὸν αὐτὸν σταθμὸν ἄγειν καὶ ὅτε νήστης ὑπῆρχεν. πειρᾶται δὲ καὶ τὴν αἰτίαν τοῦ γιγνομένου ἀποδιδόναι.

 

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Tacuinum Sanitatis, 14th century

Flammable Bones and Renewable Eyes: Some Amazing Animal Facts

Paradoxographus Vaticanus, 4-8

4 “Aristotle says in his work On Animals that all land animals have respiration—as many as have lungs—except for the wasp and bee which do not breathe. However many animals have a bladder also have bowels. But not all animals who have bowels also have a bladder.”

᾿Αριστοτέλης φησὶν ἐν τοῖς περὶ ζῴων τὰ χερσαῖα πάντα ἀναπνεῖν, ὅσα πνεύμονας ἔχει, σφῆκαν δὲ καὶ μέλισσαν οὐκ ἀναπνεῖν. ὅσα τε κύστιν ἔχει, πάντα καὶ κοιλίαν· οὐχ ὅσα δὲ κοιλίαν καὶ κύστιν.

5 “Many of the animals are bloodless, and and, in general they are animals who have more than four feet.”

῎Αναιμα πολλὰ τῶν ζῴων, καθόλου δὲ ὅσα πλείους πόδας ἔχουσι τῶν τεσσάρων.

6 “Fish do not have a throat[?]. For this reason, if a smaller fish is pursued by a bigger one, it pushes the stomach under the mouth [?]”

Οἱ ἰχθύες οὐκ ἔχουσι στόμαχον· διό, ἐὰν διώκηται ὁ ἐλάττων ὑπὸ μείζονος, ἄγει τὴν κοιλίαν ὑπὸ τὸ στόμα.

7 “Snakes have thirty ribs, and their eyes, if anyone strikes them, grow back again. The swallow’s qualities are similar.”

Οἱ ὄφεις πλευρὰς ἔχουσι τριάκοντα. καὶ τὰ ὄμματα αὐτῶν, ἐάν τις ἐκκεντήσῃ, πάλιν γίνονται, καθὰ καὶ τὰ τῶν χελιδόνων.

8 “The bones of a lion are so stiff that when they are struck often they burst into fire.”

Τοῦ λέοντος τὰ ὀστᾶ οὕτως εἰσὶ στερεά, ὥστε πολλάκις κοπτόμενα πῦρ ἐκλάμπειν.

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British Library, Royal MS 12 C. xix, Folio 6r. Lion

Some Miraculous Misogyny From the Ancient World

The following passages are from the Paradoxographus Vaticanus (Admiranda), one of a selection of ancient paradoxographical collections which are not widely available in translation. I have been working on completing full rough translations of the paradoxa this summer. The Florentinus  and Palatinus manuscripts are now translated as are the Historiae Mirabiles of Apollonios Paradoxographus.

Of the collections, the Vaticanus is the most interesting and strange. Here are a few sections that jumped out while I translated them today.

15 “In a certain part of the region before Olympos there are trees similar to a tender-leafed willow which people say were once virgins. They changed into these trees when they were fleeing Boreas who was lusting after them. Even to this day, if someone touches the leaves, people claim that the wind gets enraged and immediately blows with a fury and barely stops before the third day”

῎Εν τινι τῶν κατὰ τὸν ῎Ολυμπον δένδρα ἐστὶν ἰτέᾳ λεπτοφύλλῳ ἐοικότα, ἃ παρθένους γεγενῆσθαι ἱστοροῦσι· εἰς <δὲ> δένδρα ταύτας ἀμειφθῆναι τὸν Βορρᾶν φευγούσας ἐρῶντα. Καὶ νῦν ἔτι, εἴ τις θίγοι τῶν φυλλῶν, χολοῦσθαι τὸν ἄνεμον λέγουσι καὶ σφοδρὸν αὐτίκα πνεῖν καὶ μόλις διὰ τρίτης παύεσθαι.

16 “In the middle of Thrace there is a river which reveals women who have been corrupted through adultery. When their husbands have them drink from the water they also say ‘If you were not corrupted by that water, may you have a son; but if you were, have a daughter’ “

Μέστος ποταμὸς ἐν Θρᾴκῃ τὰς μοιχευομένας ἐξελέγχει, τῶν ἀνδρῶν ποτιζόντων αὐτὰς ἀπὸ τοῦ ὕδατος τούτου καὶ λεγόντων· «εἰ μὲν οὐκ ἐμοιχεύθης, ἄρρεν τέκοις, εἰ δ’ οὖν, θῆλυ.»

17 “And among the Germanoi, the Rhênos tests this: for if a child is immersed in it, if it was the product of adultery, it dies, if not, it lives.”

 Καὶ παρὰ Γερμανοῖς ὁ ῾Ρῆνος ἐλέγχει· ἐμβληθὲν γὰρ τὸ παιδίον εἰ μὲν μοιχευθείσης ἐστί, θνῄσκει, εἰ δ’ οὐ, ζῇ.

24 “The Keltoi, whenever there is scarcity or a famine, punish their women as if they are to blame for the evils.”

Οἱ Κελτοί, ὅταν ἢ ἀφορία ἢ λοιμὸς γένηται, τὰς γυναῖκας αὐτῶν κολάζουσιν ὡς αἰτίας τῶν κακῶν.

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Splendor Solis “(Germany, 1582), British Library, London.

Or

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