Tell Me Ancient Sages: Should I Take a Nap?

Democritus D183 [(B212) Stob. 3.6.27]

“Sleeping in the day is a sign of trouble in the body or else anxiety, laziness or ignorance of the soul”

ἡμερήσιοι ὕπνοι σώματος ὄχλησιν ἢ ψυχῆς ἀδημοσύνην ἢ ἀργίην ἢ ἀπαιδευσίην σημαίνουσι.

 

But Cicero did it!

Cicero, De Divinatione 2. 142

“With the exception of that dream about Marius, I don’t remember any one clearly. How many of the nights during my long life have been useless! Now too, thanks to a break in my political work, I have stopped studying at night and I have added daytime napping—which I never used to do at all. But I am neither bothered by any dream in so much sleep—and certainly not concerning these great affairs, and nor do I ever think more to myself that must be dreaming when I actually see the magistrates in the forum and the senators in the senate.”

Mihi quidem praeter hoc Marianum nihil sane, quod meminerim. Frustra igitur consumptae tot noctes tam longa in aetate! Nunc quidem propter intermissionem forensis operae et lucubrationes detraxi et meridiationes addidi, quibus uti antea non solebam, nec tam multum dormiens ullo somnio sum admonitus, tantis praesertim de rebus, nec mihi magis umquam videor, quam cum aut in foro magistratus aut in curia senatum video, somniare.

Theocritus, Epigram 19

“Be bold and sit down—if you want, take a nap”

θαρσέων καθίζευ, κἢν θέλῃς ἀπόβριξον

Philostratus, Heroicus 16

“For he happened to be sleeping there at midday…”

ὁ μὲν γὰρ ἔτυχε καθεύδων μεσημβρίας ἐνταῦθα

 

Warning…

Apuleius, Metamorphoses 4.27

“To start with, only false dreams accompany naps during the day and, in addition, even nighttime dreams often prophesy the opposite facts. For example, crying, being beaten or even sometimes having your throat slit in dreams actually predicts profitable or prosperous futures. Laughing or scarfing down honey-sweet treats or having sex, on the contrary, will foretell someone being troubled by depression, physical exhaustion and other kinds of curses.”

Nam praeter quod diurnae quietis imagines falsae perhibentur, tunc etiam nocturnae visiones contrarios eventus nonnumquam pronuntiant. Denique flere et vapulare et nonnumquam iugulari lucrosum prosperumque proventum nuntiant; contra ridere et mellitis dulciolis ventrem saginare vel in voluptatem Veneriam convenire tristitie animi, languore corporis, damnisque ceteris vexatum iri praedicabunt.

 

Martial, Epigram 3.44.16

“Exhausted, I am trying to sleep—you keep waking me when I lie down.”

lassus dormio: suscitas iacentem.

Lucian, A True Story 2. 26

“I was not there for I happened to be taking a nap at the dinner party”

ἐγὼ μὲν οὐ παρῆν· ἐτύγχανον γὰρ ἐν τῷ συμποσίῳ κοιμώμενος

 

Varro did it too!

Varro, On Agriculture 2.6

“I would not be able to live here, where the night and day return and depart in equal turn, if I did not split the difference with my customary midday nap.”

Ego hic, ubi nox et dies modice redit et abit, tamen aestivo die, si non diffinderem meo insiticio somno meridie, vivere non possum. Illic in semenstri die aut nocte quem ad modum quicquam seri aut alescere aut meti possit?

 

Give me a verdict, Horace….

Horace, Epistle 2.31-36

“Come now, what disturbs the sound of our shared song?
One who once wore finely made and beautiful hair
One you know was pleasing to thirsty Cinara,
And who would drink bright Falernian in the middle of the day,
Now a small meal pleases him followed by a nap in the soft plants by a river–
It is not shameful to have been a fool, but only not to stop being one.”

Nunc age, quid nostrum concentum dividat audi.
quem tenues decuere togae nitidique capilli,
quem scis immunem Cinarae placuisse rapaci,
quem bibulum liquidi media de luce Falerni,
cena brevis iuvat et prope rivum somnus in herba;
nec lusisse pudet, sed non incidere ludum.

Image result for medieval monk napping
British Library Royal 10 E IV f. 221

A Healthy Mind in A Healthy Body, but Greek

Xenophon, Memorabilia 3.12

“For all of the uses of the body it makes a big difference to keep it in as good a condition as possible. Even for thinking, in which the use of the body seems least important, who does not know that many things fail in its practice because the body is not healthy? Forgetfulness, depression, ill temper and madness often strike the mind so badly because of bodily afflictions that it drives out understanding.

There is great stability for those who have strong bodies and there is, at least, no danger from suffering something like this because of physical affliction. No, it is likely that the useful help will develop as the opposite to those things that happen from affliction. And, indeed, what wouldn’t someone who has some sense try to forestall the opposite to those things I have mentioned?”

πάσαις δὲ ταῖς τοῦ σώματος χρείαις πολὺ διαφέρει ὡς βέλτιστα τὸ σῶμα ἔχειν· 6ἐπεὶ καὶ ἐν ᾧ δοκεῖς ἐλαχίστην σώματος χρείαν εἶναι, ἐν τῷ διανοεῖσθαι, τίς οὐκ οἶδεν, ὅτι καὶ ἐν τούτῳ πολλοὶ μεγάλα σφάλλονται διὰ τὸ μὴ ὑγιαίνειν τὸ σῶμα; καὶ λήθη δὲ καὶ ἀθυμία καὶ δυσκολία καὶ μανία πολλάκις πολλοῖς διὰ τὴν τοῦ σώματος καχεξίαν εἰς τὴν διάνοιαν ἐμπίπτουσιν οὕτως, ὥστε καὶ τὰς ἐπιστήμας ἐκβάλλειν. 7τοῖς δὲ τὰ σώματα εὖ ἔχουσι πολλὴ ἀσφάλεια καὶ οὐδεὶς κίνδυνος διά γε τὴν τοῦ σώματος καχεξίαν τοιοῦτόν τι παθεῖν, εἰκὸς δὲ μᾶλλον πρὸς τὰ ἐναντία τῶν διὰ τὴν καχεξίαν γιγνομένων τὴν εὐεξίαν χρήσιμον εἶναι. καίτοι τῶν γε τοῖς εἰρημένοις ἐναντίων ἕνεκα τί οὐκ ἄν τις νοῦν ἔχων ὑπομείνειεν;

 

Xenophon elaborates on some of this earlier

Xenophon, Memorabilia 3.5

“Certainly it is necessary—since the city does not provide public expenses for war—not to overlook it privately, nor otherwise to care for yourself less. Know well that you be no worse off in any other struggle or action because you have put your body in better shape. For the body is useful in everything people do. In all functions of the body it makes a big difference that the body is as healthy as possible. Even in something you might think the body is of little use—thinking—who doesn’t know that great errors come from having a sick body?

Forgetfulness, loss of spirit, ill-temper and madness often impinge upon perception because of the weakness of the body so badly that all knowledge is expelled. But for those who are healthy in body it is a great protection and they suffer no suffer no such risk of suffering this kind of thing because of the weakness of their body. It is probably that for those who have a healthy condition they will have the opposite experience. And, certainly, won’t anyone with some sense endure anything for the opposite of these things that have been mentioned?”

Anyway, is it not shameful to grow old because of carelessness before seeing how beautiful and strong a person you might be thanks to your body? It is not possible to witness this for someone who doesn’t make an effort. For it is not willing to develop on its own.”

Οὔτοι χρὴ ὅτι ἡ πόλις οὐκ ἀσκεῖ δημοσίᾳ τὰ πρὸς τὸν πόλεμον, διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἰδίᾳ ἀμελεῖν, ἀλλὰ μηδὲν ἧττον ἐπιμελεῖσθαι. εὖ γὰρ ἴσθι, ὅτι οὐδὲ ἐν ἄλλῳ οὐδενὶ ἀγῶνι οὐδὲ ἐν πράξει οὐδεμιᾷ μεῖον ἕξεις διὰ τὸ βέλτιον τὸ σῶμα παρεσκευάσθαι· πρὸς πάντα γάρ, ὅσα πράττουσιν ἄνθρωποι, χρήσιμον τὸ σῶμά ἐστιν· ἐν πάσαις δὲ ταῖς τοῦ σώματος χρείαις πολὺ διαφέρει ὡς βέλτιστα τὸ σῶμα ἔχειν· ἐπεὶ καὶ ἐν ᾧ δοκεῖς ἐλαχίστην σώματος χρείαν εἶναι, ἐν τῷ διανοεῖσθαι, τίς οὐκ οἶδεν, ὅτι καὶ ἐν τούτῳ πολλοὶ μεγάλα σφάλλονται διὰ τὸ μὴ ὑγιαίνειν τὸ σῶμα; καὶ λήθη δὲ καὶ ἀθυμία καὶ δυσκολία καὶ μανία πολλάκις πολλοῖς διὰ τὴν τοῦ σώματος καχεξίαν εἰς τὴν διάνοιαν ἐμπίπτουσιν οὕτως, ὥστε καὶ τὰς ἐπιστήμας ἐκβάλλειν. τοῖς δὲ τὰ σώματα εὖ ἔχουσι πολλὴ ἀσφάλεια καὶ οὐδεὶς κίνδυνος διά γε τὴν τοῦ σώματος καχεξίαν τοιοῦτόν τι παθεῖν, εἰκὸς δὲ μᾶλλον πρὸς τὰ ἐναντία τῶν διὰ τὴν καχεξίαν γιγνομένων τὴν εὐεξίαν χρήσιμον εἶναι. καίτοι τῶν γε τοῖς εἰρημένοις ἐναντίων ἕνεκα τί οὐκ ἄν τις νοῦν ἔχων ὑπομείνειεν;

Αἰσχρὸν δὲ καὶ τὸ διὰ τὴν ἀμέλειαν γηρᾶναι, πρὶν ἰδεῖν ἑαυτὸν ποῖος ἂν κάλλιστος καὶ κράτιστος τῷ σώματι γένοιτο. ταῦτα δὲ οὐκ ἔστιν ἰδεῖν ἀμελοῦντα· οὐ γὰρ ἐθέλει αὐτόματα γίγνεσθαι.

Diogenes Laertius, 1.37.2

“When someone asked who is lucky, [Thales said] “whoever has a healthy body, a sophisticated mind, and teachable nature.”

τίς εὐδαίμων, “ὁ τὸ μὲν σῶμα ὑγιής, τὴν δὲ ψυχὴν εὔπορος, τὴν δὲ φύσιν εὐπαίδευτος.”

Juvenal, Satire 10.356

“We must beg for a healthy mind in a healthy body”

orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano

Zuordnung der Tierkreiszeichen zu den Körperteilen; Homo signorum, Heinrich von Laufenberg, Regimen, ca. 1450/60

Politics is Horrifying: Plato on Lykanthropy

Werewolf week continues

From Plato’s Republic, Book 8 (565d)

“What is the beginning of the change from guardian to tyrant? Isn’t clear when the guardian begins to do that very thing which myth says happened at the shrine of Lykaion Zeus in Arcadia?

Which is? He said.

That once someone tastes a bit of human innards mixed up with the other sacrifices he becomes a wolf by necessity? Haven’t you heard this tale?

I have.

Is it not something the same with a protector of the people? Once he controls a mob that obeys him, he cannot restrain himself from tribal blood, but he prosecutes unjustly, the sorts of things men love to do, and brings a man into court for murder, eliminating the life of a man—and with tongue and unholy mouth that have tasted the murder of his kind, he exiles, kills, and promises the cutting of debts and the redistribution of land. Is it not by necessity that such a man is fated either to be killed by his enemies or to become a tyrant, to turn into a wolf from a man?”

werewolf-1

Τίς ἀρχὴ οὖν μεταβολῆς ἐκ προστάτου ἐπὶ τύραννον; ἢ δῆλον ὅτι ἐπειδὰν ταὐτὸν ἄρξηται δρᾶν ὁ προστάτης τῷ ἐν τῷ μύθῳ ὃς περὶ τὸ ἐν ᾿Αρκαδίᾳ τὸ τοῦ Διὸς τοῦ Λυκαίου ἱερὸν λέγεται;

Τίς; ἔφη.

῾Ως ἄρα ὁ γευσάμενος τοῦ ἀνθρωπίνου σπλάγχνου, ἐν ἄλλοις ἄλλων ἱερείων ἑνὸς ἐγκατατετμημένου, ἀνάγκη δὴ τούτῳ λύκῳ γενέσθαι. ἢ οὐκ ἀκήκοας τὸν λόγον;

῎Εγωγε.

῏Αρ’ οὖν οὕτω καὶ ὃς ἂν δήμου προεστώς, λαβὼν σφόδρα πειθόμενον ὄχλον, μὴ ἀπόσχηται ἐμφυλίου αἵματος, ἀλλ’ ἀδίκως ἐπαιτιώμενος, οἷα δὴ φιλοῦσιν, εἰς δικαστήρια ἄγων μιαιφονῇ, βίον ἀνδρὸς ἀφανίζων, γλώττῃ τε καὶ στόματι ἀνοσίῳ γευόμενος φόνου συγγενοῦς, καὶ ἀνδρηλατῇ καὶ ἀποκτεινύῃ καὶ ὑποσημαίνῃ χρεῶν τε ἀποκοπὰς καὶ γῆς ἀναδασμόν, ἆρα τῷ τοιούτῳ ἀνάγκη δὴ τὸ μετὰ τοῦτο καὶ εἵμαρται ἢ ἀπολωλέναι ὑπὸ τῶν ἐχθρῶν ἢ τυραννεῖν καὶ λύκῳ ἐξ ἀνθρώπου γενέσθαι;

In ancient Greek myth, Lykaon (Lycaon, related to lúkos, “wolf”) was a king of Arcadia. According to Pausanias (8.31-5) , Lykaon sacrificed a newborn child to Zeus. In other sources he offers the infant mixed up with other food to test Zeus’ divinity (although some attribute the deed to his sons, see Apollodorus, 3.8.1). Zeus killed the sons with lightning; Lykaon was transformed into a wolf. Stay tuned for more of this in coming days.

There may actually be physical evidence of human sacrifice in Arcadia now.

Serious People Don’t Get Drunk

Diogenes Laertius, Zeno 7.1. 118-119

“Serious people are truly dedicated and on guard to make themselves better by preparing both to keep corrupting things away from them and trying to ensure that good things are near at hand. But they are also unaffected: they have peeled away adornments from their voice and their face.

They also have no concern for business since they abstain from doing anything which transgresses their duty. They do drink, but they do not get drunk. Indeed, they will also not go mad—even though the sometimes the same fantasies will still occur to them because of depression or delirium, but because of the logic of what they have selected but against nature.

And a wise person will never grieve because they understand that grief is an illogical closure of the soul, as Apollodorus says in his Ethics. These people are also godlike because they have some divine aspect in them; the scoundrel is godless.”

Ἀκιβδήλους τοὺς σπουδαίους φυλακτικούς τ᾿ εἶναι τοῦ ἐπὶ τὸ βέλτιον αὑτοὺς παριστάναι, διὰ παρασκευῆς τῆς τὰ φαῦλα μὲν ἀποκρυπτούσης, τὰ δ᾿ ὑπάρχοντα ἀγαθὰ φαίνεσθαι ποιούσης. ἀπλάστους τε· περιῃρηκέναι γὰρ ἐν τῇ φωνῇ τὸ πλάσμα καὶ τῷ εἴδει. ἀπράγμονάς τ᾿ εἶναι· ἐκκλίνειν γὰρ τὸ πράττειν τι παρὰ τὸ καθῆκον. καὶ οἰνωθήσεσθαι μέν, οὐ μεθυσθήσεσθαι δέ. ἔτι δ᾿ οὐδὲ μανήσεσθαι· προσπεσεῖσθαι μέντοι ποτὲ αὐτῷ φαντασίας ἀλλοκότους διὰ μελαγχολίαν ἢ λήρησιν, οὐ κατὰ τὸν τῶν αἱρετῶν λόγον, ἀλλὰ παρὰ φύσιν. οὐδὲ μὴν λυπηθήσεσθαι τὸν σοφόν, διὰ τὸ τὴν λύπην ἄλογον εἶναι συστολὴν τῆς ψυχῆς, ὡς Ἀπολλόδωρός φησιν ἐν τῇ Ἠθικῇ.

Θείους τ᾿ εἶναι· ἔχειν γὰρ ἐν ἑαυτοῖς οἱονεὶ θεόν. τὸν δ᾿ φαῦλον ἄθεον.

 

Stobaeus, 2.7.11.41

“It is not possible to think when you’re drunk. For drunkenness is extremely prone to error and people are really talkative over wine…”

Οὐχ οἷον δὲ μεθυσθήσεσθαι τὸν νοῦν ἔχοντα· τὴν γὰρ μέθην ἁμαρτητικὸν περιέχειν, λήρησιν εἶναι <γὰρ> παρὰ τὸν οἶνον,

Attic Lamb’s head Rhyton, MET

The Fruitless Toil of Worry: Two Passages on Happiness

Horace, Odes 2.16 25-32

“The spirit which is happy for a single day
Has learned not to worry about what remains
And tempers bitter tastes with a gentle smile—
Nothing is blessed through and through.

A swift death stole famed Achilles away;
Drawn-out old age wore Tithonos down.
Perhaps some hour will hand to me
Whatever it has refused to you.”

laetus in praesens animus quod ultra est
oderit curare et amara lento
temperet risu; nihil est ab omni
parte beatum.

abstulit clarum cita mors Achillem,
longa Tithonum minuit senectus,
et mihi forsan, tibi quod negarit,
porriget hora.

Bacchylides, Processionals fr. 11-12

“There is one border, a single path to happiness for mortals—
When a person is able to keep a heart free of grief
Until the end of life. Whoever keeps a ten thousand
Affairs in their thoughts
Whoever tortures their heart
Night and day over what may come,
Has toil which brings no profit.”

εἷς ὅρος, μία βροτοῖσίν ἐστιν εὐτυχίας ὁδός,
θυμὸν εἴ τις ἔχων ἀπενθῆ δύναται
διατελεῖν βίον· ὃς δὲ μυρία
μὲν ἀμφιπολεῖ φρενί,
τὸ δὲ παρ᾿ ἆμάρ τε <καὶ> νύκτα μελλόντων
χάριν αἰὲν ἰάπτεται
κέαρ, ἄκαρπον ἔχει πόνον.

Image result for medieval manuscript happiness
BLMedieval Sloane MS 278, 1280-1300

Oxen, Horses, and Priam Are Not Happy

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1100a

“We would not rightly say that an ox or a horse or any other animal is happy. For it is not possible for any of these to have a common share of ennobling work. This is the reason a child is not happy—they are not yet capable of ennobling actions because of their age. When children are called this, they are being blessed because of their hope for future nobility. There is a need yet, as we said, for complete excellence and a full lifetime.

There are certainly many changes and fortunes of every sort throughout life. It is possible for someone who is extremely fortunate to meet great troubles in old age, just as the story is told about Priam in the heroic epics. No one considers someone who faces these kinds of misfortunes and then dies terribly happy.

But if we then believe that no human being should be considered happy while they live, according to that Solonic saying, “look to the end”—if indeed it must mean this—is it really the case that a person is happy when they’re dead? Well, that would be really strange, right, for us to say others size that this is a kind of obvious happiness? Unless we mean that that dead person is happy, not in the way that Solon wants, but that someone can only say that someone is happy safely when he is out of the way of evils and misfortune.

Even this interpretation has some controversy. For then evil and good seem to be possible for the dead, even as it is for the living even when they do not perceive it, as in the case of honors, and dishonors or the noble or ignoble deeds of children and all of their descendants.

These things are a problem too. For it is possible that someone has lived a rather blessed life up to old age and died in the same way, he could still experience many troubles because of his descendants—some of whom are good and received a life worthy of this, and others who were opposite. It is clear that it is possible for them to be different in every way from their forebears. It would be strange if the dead man would change along with them and become wretched when he was blessed before. But it would also be strange if the affairs of descendants had no impact on their ancestors at all.”

ἰκότως οὖν οὔτε βοῦν οὔτε ἵππον οὔτε ἄλλο τῶν ζῴων οὐδὲν εὔδαιμον λέγομεν· οὐδὲν γὰρ αὐτῶν οἷόν τε κοινωνῆσαι νωνῆσαι τοιαύτης ἐνεργείας. διὰ ταύτην δὲ τὴν αἰτίαν οὐδὲ παῖς εὐδαίμων ἐστίν· οὔπω γὰρ πρακτικὸς τῶν τοιούτων διὰ τὴν ἡλικίαν· οἱ δὲ λεγόμενοι διὰ τὴν ἐλπίδα μακαρίζονται. δεῖ γάρ, ὥσπερ εἴπομεν, καὶ ἀρετῆς τελείας καὶ βίου τελείου. πολλαὶ γὰρ μεταβολαὶ γίνονται καὶ παντοῖαι τύχαι κατὰ τὸν βίον, καὶ ἐνδέχεται τὸν μάλιστ᾿ εὐθενοῦντα μεγάλαις συμφοραῖς περιπεσεῖν ἐπὶ γήρως, καθάπερ ἐν τοῖς ἡρωϊκοῖς περὶ Πριάμου μυθεύεται· τὸν δὲ τοιαύταις χρησάμενον τύχαις καὶ τελευτήσαντα ἀθλίως οὐδεὶς εὐδαιμονίζει.

Πότερον οὖν οὐδ᾿ ἄλλον οὐδένα ἀνθρώπων εὐδαιμονιστέον ἕως ἂν ζῇ, κατὰ Σόλωνα δὲ χρεὼν “τέλος ὁρᾶν”; εἰ δὲ δὴ καὶ θετέον οὕτως, ἆρά γε καὶ ἔστιν εὐδαίμων τότε ἐπειδὰν ἀποθάνῃ; ἢ τοῦτό γε παντελῶς ἄτοπον, ἄλλως τε καὶ τοῖς λέγουσιν ἡμῖν ἐνέργειάν τινα τὴν εὐδαιμονίαν; εἰ δὲ μὴ λέγομεν τὸν τεθνεῶτα εὐδαίμονα, μηδὲ Σόλων τοῦτο βούλεται, ἀλλ᾿ ὅτι τηνικαῦτα ἄν τις ἀσφαλῶς μακαρίσειεν ἄνθρωπον ὡς ἐκτὸς ἤδη τῶν κακῶν ὄντα καὶ τῶν δυστυχημάτων, ἔχει μὲν καὶ τοῦτ᾿ ἀμφισβήτησίν τινα· δοκεῖ γὰρ εἶναί τι τῷ τεθνεῶτι καὶ κακὸν καὶ ἀγαθόν, εἴπερ καὶ τῷ ζῶντι <μὲν> μὴ αἰσθανομένῳ δέ, οἷον τιμαὶ καὶ ἀτιμίαι καὶ τέκνων καὶ ὅλως ἀπογόνων εὐπραξίαι τε καὶ δυστυχίαι. ἀπορίαν δὲ καὶ ταῦτα παρέχει· τῷ γὰρ μακαρίως βεβιωκότι μέχρι γήρως καὶ τελευτήσαντι κατὰ λόγον ἐνδέχεται πολλὰς μεταβολὰς συμβαίνειν περὶ τοὺς ἐκγόνους, καὶ τοὺς μὲν αὐτῶν ἀγαθοὺς εἶναι καὶ τυχεῖν βίου τοῦ κατ᾿ ἀξίαν, τοὺς δ᾿ ἐξ ἐναντίας· δῆλον δ᾿ ὅτι καὶ τοῖς ἀποστήμασι πρὸς τοὺς γονεῖς παντοδαπῶς ἔχειν αὐτοὺς ἐνδέχεται. ἄτοπον δὴ γίνοιτ᾿ ἂν εἰ συμμεταβάλλοι καὶ ὁ τεθνεὼς καὶ γίνοιτο ὁτὲ μὲν εὐδαίμων πάλιν δ᾿ ἄθλιος· ἄτοπον δὲ καὶ τὸ μηδὲν μηδ᾿ ἐπί τινα χρόνον συνικνεῖσθαι τὰ τῶν ἐκγόνων τοῖς γονεῦσιν.

Don’t we look happy? From Bestiary.ca

Tyrant, Lend Me Your Ear….

Diodorus Siculus 10.18.2–6

“Because his country was a tyranny was ruled harshly under Nearchus, he set up a conspiracy against the tyrant. But when he was discovered and was compelled by Nearchus under torture to divulge who was aiding him, he said, “if only I were as in control of my body as I were my tongue.” The tyrant attacked him even more with torture for this, but Zeno withstood it for some time.

After this exchange, because he wanted to be freed from the torture and also to pay back Nearchus, he made the following plan. When the pain of the torture was at its greatest peak, he pretend that he was about to die because of the pain and yelled out, “Stop, I will tell you everything.” Once they stopped, he asked him to come close to hear what he said alone since many of the things which were about to be said he would prefer to keep secret.

When the tyrant approached happily and brought his ear near Zeno’s mouth, Zeno grabbed the tyrant’s ear with his teeth and clamped down. Even though his attendants rushed up and were serving up everything kind of pain to the tortured man to loosen the bite, he sank his teeth in further. Finally, when they could not conquer the man’s bravery, they stabbed him until he released his teeth. By this plan he found freedom from his pains and obtained what payback their was from the tyrant.”

[2] ὅτι τυραννουμένης τῆς πατρίδος ὑπὸ Νεάρχου σκληρῶς, ἐπιβουλὴν κατὰ τοῦ τυράννου συνεστήσατο. καταφανὴς δὲ γενόμενος, καὶ κατὰ τὰς ἐν ταῖς βασάνοις ἀνάγκας διερωτώμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ Νεάρχου τίνες ἦσαν οἱ συνειδότες, ὤφελον γάρ, ἔφησεν, ὥσπερ τῆς γλώττης εἰμὶ κύριος, οὕτως ὑπῆρχον καὶ τοῦ σώματος. [3] τοῦ δὲ τυράννου πολὺ μᾶλλον ταῖς βασάνοις προσεπιτείναντος, ὁ Ζήνων μέχρι μέν τινος διεκαρτέρει· μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα σπεύδων ἀπολυθῆναί ποτε τῆς ἀνάγκης καὶ ἅμα τιμωρήσασθαι τὸν Νέαρχον, ἐπενοήσατό τι τοιοῦτον. [4] κατὰ τὴν ἐπιτονωτάτην ἐπίτασιν τῆς βασάνου προσποιηθεὶς ἐνδιδόναι τὴν ψυχὴν ταῖς ἀλγηδόσιν ἀνέκραγεν, ἄνετε, ἐρῶ γὰρ πᾶσαν ἀλήθειαν. ὡς δ’ ἀνῆκαν, ἠξίωσεν αὐτὸν ἀκοῦσαι κατ’ ἰδίαν προσελθόντα· πολλὰ γὰρ εἶναι τῶν λέγεσθαι μελλόντων ἃ συνοίσει τηρεῖν ἐν ἀπορρήτῳ. [5] τοῦ δὲ τυράννου προσελθόντος ἀσμένως καὶ τὴν ἀκοὴν τῷ στόματι παραβαλόντος, ὁ Ζήνων τοῦ δυνάστου περιχανὼν τὸ οὖς ἐνέπρισε τοῖς ὀδοῦσι. τῶν δὲ ὑπηρετῶν ταχὺ προσδραμόντων, καὶ πᾶσαν τῷ βασανιζομένῳ προσφερόντων τιμωρίαν εἰς τὸ χαλάσαι τὸ δῆγμα, πολὺ μᾶλλον προσενεφύετο. [6] τέλος δ’ οὐ δυνάμενοι τἀνδρὸς νικῆσαι τὴν εὐψυχίαν, παρεκέντησαν αὐτὸν ἵνα διίῃ τοὺς ὀδόντας. καὶ τοιούτῳ τεχνήματι τῶν ἀλγηδόνων ἀπελύθη καὶ παρὰ τοῦ τυράννου τὴν ἐνδεχομένην ἔλαβε τιμωρίαν.

In the other version of this story, Zeno of Elea bites off his own tongue

From the Suda

“Zeno, the son of Teleutagoros, Elean, one of the philosophers who lived in the same time as Pythagoras and Democritus during the 78th Olympiad. He was a student of Xenophanes or Parmenides. He wrote Disagreements, and Explanation of Empedokles and Against the Philosophers on Nature. They say that he invented dialectic, and that Empedokles invented rhetoric. Some say that he was caught trying to kill the tyrant Nearkhos—although some say it was Diomedon. When he was being questioned by him, he bit down on his own tongue, cut it off, and spat it at the Tyrant. Then he was thrown into a mortar and ground down into a mush.”

Ζήνων, Τελευταγόρου, Ἐλεάτης, φιλόσοφος τῶν ἐγγιζόντων Πυθαγόρᾳ καὶ Δημοκρίτῳ κατὰ τοὺς χρόνους, ἦν γὰρ ἐπὶ τῆς οη# Ὀλυμπιάδος, μαθητὴς Ξενοφάνους ἢ Παρμενίδου. ἔγραψεν Ἔριδας, Ἐξήγησιν τῶν Ἐμπεδοκλέους, Πρὸς τοὺς φιλοσόφους περὶ φύσεως. τοῦτόν φασιν εὑρετὴν εἶναι τῆς διαλεκτικῆς, ὡς Ἐμπεδοκλέα τῆς ῥητορικῆς. καθελεῖν δὲ θελήσας Νέαρχον, οἱ δὲ Διομέδοντα, τὸν Ἐλέας τύραννον, ἑάλω. καὶ ἐρωτώμενος ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ τὴν γλῶτταν αὑτοῦ ἐνδακὼν καὶ ἀποτεμὼν προσέπτυσε τῷ τυράννῳ. καὶ ἐν ὅλμῳ βληθεὶς συνετρίβη πτισσόμενος.

Diogenes Laertius tells the same story as Diodorus:

Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers 9.26

“When he was interrogated about his conspirators and the arms he was bringing to Liparas, he informed on all the friends of the tyrant because he wished to isolate that man. Then, telling him that he could tell him something about these things to his ear only, he bit down on [Nearchus’] ear and would not let go until he was stabbed to death, suffering the same fate as the tyrannocide Aristogeiton.”

ὅτε καὶ ἐξεταζόμενος τοὺς συνειδότας καὶ περὶ τῶν ὅπλων ὧν ἦγεν εἰς Λιπάραν, πάντας ἐμήνυσεν αὐτοῦ τοὺς φίλους, βουλόμενος αὐτὸν ἔρημον καταστῆσαι· εἶτα περί τινων εἰπεῖν ἔχειν  τινα <ἔφη> αὐτῷ πρὸς τὸ οὖς καὶ δακὼν οὐκ ἀνῆκεν ἕως ἀπεκεντήθη, ταὐτὸν ᾿Αριστογείτονι τῷ τυραννοκτόνῳ παθών.

This is not the same Zeno as Zeno of Citium, who is credited with founding stoicism. Zeno from Elea is known for paradoxes!

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If you bite off half your tongue and then the other half…