Little Sparks of Virtue

Cicero, De Finibus 5. 43

“There is certainly seems to be natural power for humans for attaining every kind of virtue and for these reasons small children are motivated by the attraction of virtues whose seeds they possess without teaching. These are surely the fundamental aspects of human nature which increase and grow as if planted. This is because we are made in such a way at birth that we already possess the basic impulses of doing something, of loving some people, and with qualities of liberality, and giving things. We also receive spirits which reach toward knowledge, wisdom, and bravery, already disinclined toward the opposites.

It is not without reason that we see those things I have mentioned in children like little sparks of virtue from which the philosopher’s reason must be kindled—the child must find their way to nature’s end by following their divine guide. As I have often said in the early period when our minds are still weak, we see nature’s power as if through fog. But once the mind progresses and gets stronger, it recognizes the power of its nature, that it may still proceed further and has become only half-finished on its own.”

 Est enim natura sic generata vis hominis ut ad omnem virtutem percipiendam facta videatur, ob eamque causam parvi virtutum simulacris quarum in se habent semina sine doctrina moventur; sunt enim prima elementa naturae, quibus auctis virtutis quasi germen efficitur. Nam cum ita nati factique simus ut et agendi aliquid et diligendi aliquos et liberalitatis et referendae gratiae principia in nobis contineremus atque ad scientiam, prudentiam, fortitudinem aptos animos haberemus a contrariisque rebus alienos, non sine causa eas quas dixi in pueris virtutum quasi scintillas videmus, e quibus accendi philosophi ratio debet, ut eam quasi deum ducem subsequens ad naturae perveniat extremum. Nam ut saepe iam dixi in infirma aetate imbecillaque mente vis naturae quasi per caliginem cernitur; cum autem progrediens confirmatur animus, agnoscit ille quidem naturae vim, sed ita ut progredi possit longius, per se sit tantum inchoata.

 

Sarcophagus, Roma, Musei Vaticani, Museo Chiaramont

A Beggar King

Plutarch, Stoics Talk More Paradoxically than Poets 6

“And then, while the Ithakan King begs for money because he wants to hide his identity and he is attempting to make himself as much as possible “like a pathetic beggar,”  this guy shouts from the Stoa, screaming out, “I alone am king, I alone am wealthy” and is often seen crying at other people’s doors, “Give Hipponax a cloak. I am cold and my teeth are chattering.”

Καὶ ὁ μὲν Ἰθακησίων βασιλεὺς προσαιτεῖ λανθάνειν ὅς ἐστι βουλόμενος καὶ ποιῶν ἑαυτὸν ὡς μάλιστα “πτωχῷ λευγαλέῳ ἐναλίγκιον,” ὁ δ᾿ ἐκ τῆς Στοᾶς βοῶν μέγα καὶ κεκραγὼς “ἐγὼ μόνος εἰμὶ βασιλεύς, ἐγὼ μόνος εἰμὶ πλούσιος” ὁρᾶται πολλάκις ἐπ᾿ ἀλλοτρίαις θύραις λέγων

δὸς χλαῖναν Ἱππώνακτι· κάρτα γὰρ ῥιγῶκαὶ βαμβακύζω.

Image result for ancient greek beggar king
Odysseus from the Vatican Museum

 

The Five Categories of the Soul

Here’s a recent piece on Greek concepts of the truth from The Conversation. It is part of a series developed with WBUR’s On Point, called “In Search of Truth” (here’s the first episode)

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1139b

“Let’s discuss about these matters, starting from a deeper point. Let it stand that the soul has five categories in which to establish or deny the truth: these are skill, knowledge, prudence, wisdom, and intelligence. The mind is likely to deceive itself through supposition or opinion.”

Ἀρξάμενοι οὖν ἄνωθεν περὶ αὐτῶν πάλιν λέγωμεν. ἔστω δὴ οἷς ἀληθεύει ἡ ψυχὴ τῷ καταφάναι ἢ ἀποφάναι πέντε τὸν ἀριθμόν· ταῦτα δ᾿ ἐστὶ τέχνη, ἐπιστήμη, φρόνησις, σοφία, νοῦς· ὑπολήψει γὰρ καὶ δόξῃ ἐνδέχεται διαψεύδεσθαι.

Aristotle, On the Soul 404a

“Thus Anaxagoras also said that the soul makes movement—along with the rest who argued that the soul moved everything—but not exactly the same way as Democritus. For Democritus simply said that the soul and mind are the same and that truth is as things appear [subjective]. For this reason, he thinks that Homer described well when he has “Hektor lying there thinking differently”. He does not use the word “mind” [noos] as the power for discerning the truth, but he says that the soul and the mind are the same.”

Ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ Ἀναξαγόρας ψυχὴν εἶναι λέγει τὴν κινοῦσαν, καὶ εἴ τις ἄλλος εἴρηκεν ὡς τὸ πᾶν ἐκίνησε νοῦς, οὐ μὴν παντελῶς γ᾿ ὥσπερ Δημόκριτος. ἐκεῖνος μὲν γὰρ ἁπλῶς ταὐτὸν ψυχὴν καὶ νοῦν· τὸ γὰρ ἀληθὲς εἶναι τὸ φαινόμενον· διὸ καλῶς ποιῆσαι τὸν Ὅμηρον ὡς “Ἕκτωρ κεῖτ᾿ ἀλλοφρονέων.” οὐ δὴ χρῆται τῷ νῷ ὡς δυνάμει τινὶ περὶ τὴν ἀλήθειαν, ἀλλὰ ταὐτὸ λέγει ψυχὴν καὶ νοῦν.

“Aristotle” by Justus van Gent (1476)

Aristotle on the Nature of Slavery

CW: Slavery, Nonsense

Aristole, Politics 1254a

“What is the nature and the ability of the slave becomes clear from these things. For a person who by nature is not his own but another’s is naturally a slave. A person is another’s if he is a possession even though a person. A possession is a tool which has a use and can be traded.

Whether anyone is this kind of person by nature or not and whether it is better and just for anyone to be a slave or not or whether instead all slavery is contrary to nature are questions which should be investigated second. It is not difficult to figure this out by theorizing logically or from empirical evidence. For ruling or submitting to rule are not only necessary realities but they are also advantageous.

Some things are well-suited straight from birth to be ruled and others are suited to ruling. There are also many types of rulers and subordinates. The rule of better subjects is always better, for example being master of a person is better being master of a beast since the work which is expected from higher order creatures is greater. So, when one rules and the other is ruled, there is some labor from them together.

However so many things are put together from multiple parts and are united in one common whole, whether from continuous or separate pieces, the ruling and the ruled are clear in all. And this trait is present in living things as a result of nature…”

Τίς μὲν οὖν ἡ φύσις τοῦ δούλου καὶ τίς ἡ δύναμις, ἐκ τούτων δῆλον· ὁ γὰρ μὴ αὑτοῦ φύσει ἀλλ᾿ ἄλλου ἄνθρωπος ὤν, οὗτος φύσει δοῦλός ἐστιν, ἄλλου δ᾿ ἐστὶν ἄνθρωπος ὃς ἂν κτῆμα ᾖ ἄνθρωπος ὤν, κτῆμα δὲ ὄργανον πρακτικὸν καὶ χωριστόν. πότερον δ᾿ ἐστί τις φύσει τοιοῦτος ἢ οὔ, καὶ πότερον βέλτιον καὶ δίκαιόν τινι δουλεύειν ἢ οὔ, ἀλλὰ πᾶσα δουλεία παρὰ φύσιν ἐστί, μετὰ ταῦτα σκεπτέον. οὐ χαλεπὸν δὲ καὶ τῷ λόγῳ θεωρῆσαι καὶ ἐκ τῶν γινομένων καταμαθεῖν. τὸ γὰρ ἄρχειν καὶ ἄρχεσθαι οὐ μόνον τῶν ἀναγκαίων ἀλλὰ καὶ τῶν συμφερόντων ἐστί, καὶ εὐθὺς ἐκ γενετῆς ἔνια διέστηκε τὰ μὲν ἐπὶ τὸ ἄρχεσθαι τὰ δ᾿ ἐπὶ τὸ ἄρχειν. καὶ εἴδη πολλὰ καὶ ἀρχόντων καὶ ἀρχομένων ἐστίν (καὶ ἀεὶ βελτίων ἡ ἀρχὴ ἡ τῶν βελτιόνων ἀρχομένων, οἷον ἀνθρώπου ἢ θηρίου, τὸ γὰρ ἀποτελούμενον ἀπὸ τῶν βελτιόνων βέλτιον ἔργον, ὅπου δὲ τὸ μὲν ἄρχει τὸ δ᾿ ἄρχεται, ἐστί τι τούτων ἔργον)· ὅσα γὰρ ἐκ πλειόνων συνέστηκε καὶ γίνεται ἕν τι κοινόν, εἴτε ἐκ συνεχῶν εἴτ᾿ ἐκ διῃρημένων, ἐν ἅπασιν ἐμφαίνεται τὸ ἄρχον καὶ τὸ ἀρχόμενον, καὶ τοῦτο ἐκ τῆς ἁπάσης φύσεως ἐνυπάρχει τοῖς ἐμψύχοις· καὶ γὰρ ἐν τοῖς μὴ μετέχουσι ζωῆς ἐστί

Antikensammlung F 871, Potters Extracting clay. H/T to @CM_Whiting for correcting errors

The Illegal, Murderous Rapist: Herodotus Subtweets a Tyrant

Herodotus 3.80

“Otanês was first urging the Persians to entrust governing to the people, saying these things: “it seems right to me that we no longer have a monarchy. For it is neither pleasing nor good. For you all know about the arrogance of Kambyses and you were a party to the insanity of the Magus. How could monarchy be a fitting thing when it permits an unaccountable person to do whatever he pleases? Even if you put the best of all men into this position he might go outside of customary thoughts. For hubris is nurtured by the fine things present around him, and envy is native to a person from the beginning.

The one who has these two qualities possesses every kind of malice. For one who is overfilled does many reckless things, some because of arrogance and some because of envy. Certainly, it would be right for a man who is a tyrant at least to have no envy at all, since he has all the good things. Yet he becomes the opposite of this towards his citizens: for he envies those who are best around him and live, and he takes pleasure in the worst of the citizens—he is the best at encouraging slanders.

He becomes the most disharmonious of all people—for if you admire him only moderately, then he is upset because you do not support him ardently. But if someone supports him excessively, he is angry at him for being a toady. The worst things are still to be said: he overturns traditional laws, he rapes women, and kills people without reason.”

᾿Οτάνης μὲν ἐκέλευε ἐς μέσον Πέρσῃσι καταθεῖναι τὰ πρήγματα, λέγων τάδε· «᾿Εμοὶ δοκέει ἕνα μὲν ἡμέων μούναρχον μηκέτι γενέσθαι· οὔτε γὰρ ἡδὺ οὔτε ἀγαθόν. Εἴδετε μὲν γὰρ τὴν Καμβύσεω ὕβριν ἐπ’ ὅσον ἐπεξῆλθε, μετεσχήκατε δὲ καὶ τῆς τοῦ μάγου ὕβριος. Κῶς δ’ ἂν εἴη χρῆμα κατηρτημένον μουναρχίη, τῇ ἔξεστι ἀνευθύνῳ ποιέειν τὰ βούλεται; Καὶ γὰρ ἂν τὸν ἄριστον ἀνδρῶν πάντων στάντα ἐς ταύτην τὴν ἀρχὴν ἐκτὸς τῶν ἐωθότων νοημάτων στήσειε. ᾿Εγγίνεται μὲν γάρ οἱ ὕβρις ὑπὸ τῶν παρεόντων ἀγαθῶν, φθόνος δὲ ἀρχῆθεν ἐμφύεται ἀνθρώπῳ. Δύο δ’ ἔχων ταῦτα ἔχει πᾶσαν κακότητα· τὰ μὲν γὰρ ὕβρι κεκορημένος ἔρδει πολλὰ καὶ ἀτάσθαλα, τὰ δὲ φθόνῳ. Καίτοι ἄνδρα γε τύραννον ἄφθονον ἔδει εἶναι, ἔχοντά γε πάντα τὰ ἀγαθά· τὸ δὲ ὑπεναντίον τούτου ἐς τοὺς πολιήτας πέφυκε· φθονέει γὰρ τοῖσι ἀρίστοισι περιεοῦσί τε καὶ ζώουσι, χαίρει δὲ τοῖσι κακίστοισι τῶν ἀστῶν, διαβολὰς δὲ ἄριστος ἐνδέκεσθαι.

᾿Αναρμοστότατον δὲ πάντων· ἤν τε γὰρ αὐτὸν μετρίως θωμάζῃς, ἄχθεται ὅτι οὐ κάρτα θεραπεύεται, ἤν τε θεραπεύῃ τις κάρτα, ἄχθεται ἅτε θωπί. Τὰ δὲ δὴ μέγιστα ἔρχομαι ἐρέων· νόμαιά τε κινέει πάτρια καὶ βιᾶται γυναῖκας κτείνει τε ἀκρίτους.

 

Image result for medieval manuscript manuscript
Image from here

Slander and Salt

Demetrius, On Style 301.

“Because he wanted to slander his enemies, [Hipponax] broke his meter and made it stumble instead of straight: he made the rhythm irregular. This is appropriate for surprise and attack. For rhythmic and smooth composition is more appropriate for praise than for blame. This is all I have to say about hiatus.”

 (301) καὶ ὥσπερ τὸ διαλελυμένον σχῆμα δεινότητα ποιεῖ, ὡς προλέλεκται, οὕτω ποιήσει ἡ διαλελυμένη ὅλως σύνθεσις. σημεῖον δὲ καὶ τὸ Ἱππώνακτος· λοιδορῆσαι γὰρ βουλόμενος τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ἔθραυσεν τὸ μέτρον, καὶ ἐποίησεν χωλὸν ἀντὶ εὐθέος καὶ ἄρυθμον, τουτέστι δεινότητι πρέπον καὶ λοιδορίᾳ· τὸ γὰρ ἔρρυθμον καὶ εὐήκοον ἐγκωμίοις ἂν πρέποι μᾶλλον ἢ ψόγοις. τοσαῦτα καὶ περὶ συγκρούσεως.

Com. Adesp. 842 Σ Aristophanes Birds 281

“Philokles was a tragic poet, the son of Philopeithes and Aeschylus’ sister. Whoever calls him “Salt’s son” does it because he was bitter and salt is bitter.”

ἔστι δὲ ὁ Φιλοκλῆς τραγῳδίας ποιητὴς, καὶ Φιλοπείθους υἱὸς ἐξ Αἰσχύλου ἀδελφῆς. ὅσοι δὲ Ἁλμίωνος αὐτόν φασιν, ἐπιθετικῶς λέγουσι διὰ τὸ πικρὸν εἶναι. ἅλμη γὰρ ἡ πικρία.

File:Hipponax of Ephesus.jpg

Sharing the Struggle For Freedom

Thucydides 6.56

“When Harmodios defeated his lawsuit, as he intended, [Hipparkhos] insulted him. After they invited his sister to come out to carry a basket in a certain procession, they rejected her, claiming they had not invited her at all because she was not good enough. Even as Harmodios took this badly, Aristogeitôn was a great deal angrier. Then all of the arrangements were made for the deed with those who were sympathetic to them but they were waiting for the great Panathenaia festival, because on that day there would be no suspicion at all if the citizens who were going to be part of the procession would be armed.

They had to begin the act, but the others were supposed to take care of the bodyguard immediately. The conspirators were few for safety’s sake, since they hoped that  even those who did not know beforehand would be willing to share the struggle for their own freedom necessarily if they had arms in their hands and saw so few acting boldly.”

LVI. Τὸν δ᾿ οὖν Ἁρμόδιον ἀπαρνηθέντα τὴν πείρασιν, ὥσπερ διενοεῖτο, προυπηλάκισεν· ἀδελφὴν γὰρ αὐτοῦ κόρην ἐπαγγείλαντες ἥκειν κανοῦν οἴσουσαν ἐν πομπῇ τινι, ἀπήλασαν λέγοντες οὐδὲ ἐπαγγεῖλαι τὴν ἀρχὴν διὰ τὸ μὴ ἀξίαν εἶναι. χαλεπῶς δὲ ἐνεγκόντος τοῦ Ἁρμοδίου πολλῷ δὴ μᾶλλον δι᾿ ἐκεῖνον καὶ ὁ Ἀριστογείτων παρωξύνετο. καὶ αὐτοῖς τὰ μὲν ἄλλα πρὸς τοὺς ξυνεπιθησομένους τῷ ἔργῳ ἐπέπρακτο, περιέμενον δὲ Παναθήναια τὰ μεγάλα, ἐν ᾗ μόνον ἡμέρᾳ οὐχ ὕποπτον ἐγίγνετο ἐν ὅπλοις τῶν πολιτῶν τοὺς τὴν πομπὴν πέμψοντας ἁθρόους γενέσθαι· καὶ ἔδει ἄρξαι μὲν αὐτούς, ξυνεπαμύνειν δὲ εὐθὺς τὰ πρὸς τοὺς δορυφόρους ἐκείνους. ἦσαν δὲ οὐ πολλοὶ οἱ ξυνομωμοκότες ἀσφαλείας ἕνεκα· ἤλπιζον γὰρ καὶ τοὺς μὴ προειδότας, εἰ καὶ ὁποσοιοῦν τολμήσειαν, ἐκ τοῦ παραχρῆμα, ἔχοντάς γε ὅπλα, ἐθελήσειν σφᾶς αὐτοὺς ξυνελευθεροῦν.

Plato, Hipparchus 229b

“But his death is said to have occurred by the more polished people not in the way most believe, because his sister was not allowed to be a basket-bearer in the procession. That’s pretty simplistic. Instead, they say Harmodius was Aristogeitôn’s brother and had been educated by him. For this reason, Aristogeitôn also took pride in educating people and considered Hipparkhos his rival. At the same time, it seems, Harmodios was in love with one of the fine and well-born young men of the day. People use his name but I don’t remember it. This young man was enamored with both Harmodios and Aristogeitôn for a while because they were wise. But when he started hanging out with Hipparkhos, he despised them and they were so pissed off by this slight that they killed Hipparkhos.”

λέγεται δὲ ὑπὸ τῶν χαριεστέρων ἀνθρώπων καὶ ὁ θάνατος αὐτοῦ γενέσθαι οὐ δι᾿ ἃ οἱ πολλοὶ ᾠήθησαν, διὰ τὴν τῆς ἀδελφῆς ἀτιμίαν τῆς κανηφορίας, ἐπεὶ τοῦτό γε εὔηθες, ἀλλὰ τὸν μὲν Ἁρμόδιον γεγονέναι παιδικὰ τοῦ Ἀριστογείτονος καὶ πεπαιδεῦσθαι ὑπ᾿ ἐκείνου. μέγα δ᾿ ἐφρόνει ἄρα καὶ ὁ Ἀριστογείτων ἐπὶ τῷ παιδεῦσαι ἄνθρωπον, καὶ ἀνταγωνιστὴν ἡγεῖτο εἶναι τὸν Ἵππαρχον. ἐν ἐκείνῳ δὲ τῷ χρόνῳ αὐτὸν τὸν Ἁρμόδιον τυγχάνειν ἐρῶντά τινος τῶν νέων τε καὶ καλῶν καὶ γενναίων τῶν τότε· καὶ λέγουσι τοὔνομα αὐτοῦ, ἐγὼ δὲ οὐ μέμνημαι· τὸν οὖν νεανίσκον τοῦτον τέως μὲν θαυμάζειν τόν τε Ἁρμόδιον καὶ τὸν Ἀριστογείτονα ὡς σοφούς, ἔπειτα συγγενόμενον τῷ Ἱππάρχῳ καταφρονῆσαι ἐκείνων, καὶ τοὺς περιαλγήσαντας ταύτῃ τῇ ἀτιμίᾳ οὕτως ἀποκτεῖναι τὸν Ἵππαρχον.

 

Drinking Songs for Harmodios and Aristogeton

PMG 893-897

“I will wrap my sword in a crown of myrtle
As Harmodius and Aristogeiton did
When they killed the tyrant
And made the Athenians equal under the law.”

ἐν μύρτου κλαδὶ τὸ ξίφος φορήσω
ὥσπερ ῾Αρμόδιος καὶ ᾿Αριστογείτων
ὅτε τὸν τύραννον κτανέτην
ἰσονόμους τ’ ᾿Αθήνας ἐποιησάτην.

“Dearest Harmodius, you have never died,
But they say you live in the isles of the blest
Where swift-footed Achilles
And Tydeus’ fine son Diomedes are”

φίλταθ’ ῾Αρμόδι’, οὔ τί πω τέθνηκας,
νήσοις δ’ ἐν μακάρων σέ φασιν εἶναι,
ἵνα περ ποδώκης ᾿Αχιλεὺς
Τυδεΐδην τέ †φασι τὸν ἐσθλὸν† Διομήδεα.

“I will wrap my sword with a branch of myrtle,
Just as Harmodius and Aristogeiton did
When at the Athenian sacrifices
They killed the tyrant, a man named Hipparchus”

ἐν μύρτου κλαδὶ τὸ ξίφος φορήσω
ὥσπερ ῾Αρμόδιος καὶ ᾿Αριστογείτων
ὅτ’ ᾿Αθηναίης ἐν θυσίαις
ἄνδρα τύραννον ῞Ιππαρχον ἐκαινέτην.

“Fame will always be yours in this land,
Dearest Harmodios and Aristogeiton,
Because you killed the tyrant
And made the Athenians equal under the law.”

αἰεὶ σφῶιν κλέος ἔσσεται κατ’ αἶαν,
φίλταθ’ ῾Αρμόδιε καὶ ᾿Αριστόγειτον,
ὅτι τὸν τύραννον κτανέτην
ἰσονόμους τ’ ᾿Αθήνας ἐποιησάτην.

An Epigram

Hephaestion, Handbook on Meter

 “Every line of verse ends with a complete word. For this reason, lines like Simonides’ Epigram should be criticized:

“A great light arose for the Athenians when Aristo-
geitôn and Harmodios killed Hipparkhos

[…]

They restored equality to their land.”

πᾶν μέτρον εἰς τελείαν περατοῦται λέξιν· ὅθεν ἐπίληπτά ἐστι τὰ τοιαῦτα Σιμωνίδου ἐκ τῶν ἐπιγραμμάτων·

ἦ μέγ᾿ Ἀθηναίοισι φόως γένεθ᾿, ἡνίκ᾿ Ἀριστο-
γείτων Ἵππαρχον κτεῖνε καὶ Ἁρμόδιος·
[ ]
[ ἰσόνομον πα]τρίδα γῆν ἐθέτην.

Naples National Archaeological Museum