Destroying the People

Homer, Iliad 2.115 (Agamemnon Speaking)

“But now Zeus has given me evil deception as counsel, and orders me
To return home to Argos infamous, since I ruined a great people.”

νῦν δὲ κακὴν ἀπάτην βουλεύσατο, καί με κελεύει
δυσκλέα ῎Αργος ἱκέσθαι, ἐπεὶ πολὺν ὤλεσα λαόν.

Iliad 22.104–107 (Hektor speaking)

“But I now, since I ruined our people because of my own recklessness,
I am ashamed to face the Trojans and Trojan-women with their trailing robes,
That some other person who is worse than me will say
Hektor ruined the people because he believed too much in his own strength.”

νῦν δ’ ἐπεὶ ὤλεσα λαὸν ἀτασθαλίῃσιν ἐμῇσιν,
αἰδέομαι Τρῶας καὶ Τρῳάδας ἑλκεσιπέπλους,
μή ποτέ τις εἴπῃσι κακώτερος ἄλλος ἐμεῖο·
῞Εκτωρ ἧφι βίηφι πιθήσας ὤλεσε λαόν.

Hom. Il. 1.231

“You are a people-eating king who rules over nobodies”
δημοβόρος βασιλεὺς ἐπεὶ οὐτιδανοῖσιν ἀνάσσεις·

Apollonius Sophista

“People-eater: one who eats the people’s common goods”
δημοβόρος ὁ τὰ τοῦ δήμου κοινὰ κατεσθίων.


“People Eater: one who eats the common goods”
Δημοβόρος· ὁ τὰ δημόσια ἐσθίων.

Schol. ad Il. bT ad. Il. 1.231ex

“This [comment] disturbs the masses. For the most serious accusation is making the common goods your own…”

ex. δημοβόρος: κινητικὰ ταῦτα τοῦ πλήθους· μεγίστη γὰρ κατηγορία τὸ σφετερίζεσθαι τὰ κοινά.

Eustathius, Commentary on the Iliad 1.143.27

“The insult “people-devouring king” is aimed especially at moving the people and provoking Agamemnon to Anger. Just as the term “gift-devourer” emphasizes the evil of taking bribes, just so here the term dêmoboros highlights the injustice which is more subtly announced in the phrase “deprive one of gifts”. Note as well that Agamemnon is maligned not just for drinking [being “wine-heavy”] but also for eating.”

σφόδρα δὲ κινητικὸν τοῦ δήμου τὸ δημοβόρος βασιλεύς καὶ ἐρεθιστικὸν εἰς θυμόν. ὥσπερ δὲ παρ’ ῾Ησιόδῳ τὸ δωροφάγοι ἐπιτείνει τὸ κακὸν τοῦ δωροληπτεῖν, οὕτω κἀνταῦθα τὴν ἀδικίαν τὸ δημοβόρον, ὃ ἠρέμα ὑπελαλήθη καὶ ἐν τῷ «δῶρ’ ἀποαιρεῖσθαι». ὅρα δὲ καὶ ὅτι οὐ μόνον οἰνοβαρὴς ὁ ᾿Αγαμέμνων σκώπτεται ἀλλὰ καὶ βορός.

Eustathius, Commentary to the Iliad 4.448.7

“For the allies of the Trojans eat the public goods of the people and the leaders of the Argives drink the public goods. It has already been shown that, when a division of spoils was made, some portion was granted from the common shares to the king and for the symposia of the best men—the misuse of this makes the king a “people-eater”—by which this means a “consumer of the people’s things. For to claim that dêmoboros is the same as cannibalism [anthropo-phagy], that he eats the people, is both bitter to the thought and harmful to the sense. For it is clear that this is not what is being criticized, because it is not the people [demos] rather than the things of the people, the public goods, as is clear from other compounds like demiopratôn, which Kômikos brings up, or also from the Homeric dêmioergôn.”

οἵ τε γὰρ τῶν Τρώων ἐπίκουροι δήμια ἤσθιον τὰ τῶν λαῶν ἔδοντες, καὶ οἱ τῶν ᾿Αργείων ἡγήτορες δήμια ἔπινον. δεδήλωται γὰρ ἤδη ὅτι δασμοῦ γινομένου μερὶς ἐδίδοτό τις τῷ βασιλεῖ ἐκ τῶν κοινῶν καὶ εἰς τὰ τῶν ἀριστέων συμπόσια, ὧν ἡ παράχρησις δημοβόρον τὸν βασιλέα ποιεῖ, ταὐτὸν δ’ εἰπεῖν δημιοβόρον. [Φάναι γὰρ δημοβόρον τὸν δίκην ἀνθρωποφάγου αὐτὸν τὸν δῆμον ἐσθίοντα δριμὺ μὲν τῇ ἐννοίᾳ, πάνυ δὲ ἀτηρὸν τῇ τροπῇ. Σημείωσαι δὲ καὶ ὅτι ἔκπαλαι μὲν οὐ ψεκτὸν ἦν, ὥσπερ οὐδὲ ὁ δῆμος, οὕτως οὐδὲ ὁ δήμιος οὐδὲ τὸ δήμιον, ὡς δῆλον ἔκ τε τῶν δημιοπράτων, ὧν μέμνηται καὶ ὁ Κωμικός, καὶ ἐκ τῶν ῾Ομηρικῶν δημιοεργῶν.

Theognis 1179-1182

“Kyrnus, revere and fear the gods. For this restrains a man
From doing or saying anything sinful.
Put a people-eating tyrant to rest however you want—
No criticism will come from the gods for that.”

Κύρνε, θεοὺς αἰδοῦ καὶ δείδιθι· τοῦτο γὰρ ἄνδρα
εἴργει μήθ’ ἕρδειν μήτε λέγειν ἀσεβῆ.
δημοφάγον δὲ τύραννον ὅπως ἐθέλεις κατακλῖναι
οὐ νέμεσις πρὸς θεῶν γίνεται οὐδεμία.

Hes. Works and Days 219-223

“Oath runs immediately from crooked judgments.
And a roar rises from wounded Justice where men strike,
Bribe-eating men who apply the law with crooked judgments.

αὐτίκα γὰρ τρέχει ῞Ορκος ἅμα σκολιῇσι δίκῃσιν·
τῆς δὲ Δίκης ῥόθος ἑλκομένης ᾗ κ’ ἄνδρες ἄγωσι
δωροφάγοι, σκολιῇς δὲ δίκῃς κρίνωσι θέμιστας·


“Guard against these things, kings, and straighten your stories,
Bribe-eaters, forget about your crooked rulings completely.
Who fashions evil for another man brings it on himself.
The vilest end comes for the man who has made evil plans.”

ταῦτα φυλασσόμενοι, βασιλῆς, ἰθύνετε μύθους,
δωροφάγοι, σκολιέων δὲ δικέων ἐπὶ πάγχυ λάθεσθε.
οἷ αὐτῷ κακὰ τεύχει ἀνὴρ ἄλλῳ κακὰ τεύχων,
ἡ δὲ κακὴ βουλὴ τῷ βουλεύσαντι κακίστη.

Schol ad Hes. Prolg. 125

“He says this educationally, answering to the kings who should make a great effort to make people prosperous even though some of them take bribes. Not only this, he says clearly that if the kingly right is bestowed by the gods to do good, then it is right that kingly men be givers of wealth, and to expunge wrong doing, including a desire for money, for which they should be leaders for others according to the will of the gods.”

ΠΛΟΥΤΟΔΟΤΑΙ. Τοῦτο παιδευτικῶς εἶπεν, ἀποκρινόμενος πρὸς τοὺς βασιλεῖς, οἳ πολλοῦ δέουσιν εὐπόρους ποιεῖν τοὺς ἀνθρώπους δωροφάγοι τινὲς ὄντες. Μονονουχὶ λέγει σαφῶς, εἰ γέρας ἐστὶ βασιλικὸν προτεινόμενον ὑπὸ τῶν θεῶν τὸ ἀγαθοποιεῖν, καὶ πλουτοδότας εἶναι δεῖ τοὺς βασιλικοὺς ἄνδρας, καθαρεύειν τε πάσης κακουργίας, καὶ τῆς τῶν χρημάτων ἐπιθυμίας, ὧν εἰσιν ἄλλοις χορηγοὶ κατὰβούλησιν τῶν θεῶν.

Neoptolemus kills Priam

Homer, Odyssey 1.32-4

“Wretches! Mortals are always blaming the gods,

claiming that evil comes from us even though

They have pain beyond their due thanks to their own stupidity.”


ὢ πόποι, οἷον δή νυ θεοὺς βροτοὶ αἰτιόωνται:

ἐξ ἡμέων γάρ φασι κάκ᾽ ἔμμεναι, οἱ δὲ καὶ αὐτοὶ

σφῇσιν ἀτασθαλίῃσιν ὑπὲρ μόρον ἄλγε᾽ ἔχουσιν