Biting Tax-men, Barking Philosophers

Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists 511

“Even though he was held in high esteem in Smyrna, which would shout almost anything in praise of him as a wondrous man and orator, Nicetes did not mix much with the people. He gave the following explanation of his fear to the crowd: “I fear the people more when they praise me than when they mock me.” Once when a tax-man acted offensively to him in the court room and said “Stop barking at me”, Nicetes responded cleverly, “By Zeus, I will when you stop biting me!”

Μεγάλων δ’ ἀξιούμενος τῆς Σμύρνης τί οὐκ ἐπ’ αὐτῷ βοώσης ὡς ἐπ’ ἀνδρὶ θαυμασίῳ καὶ ῥήτορι, οὐκ ἐθάμιζεν ἐς τὸν δῆμον, ἀλλ’ αἰτίαν παρὰ τοῖς πολλοῖς ἔχων φόβου „φοβοῦμαι” ἔφη „δῆμον ἐπαίροντα μᾶλλον ἢ λοιδορούμενον.” τελώνου δὲ θρασυναμένου ποτὲ πρὸς αὐτὸν ἐν δικαστηρίῳ καὶ εἰπόντος „παῦσαι ὑλακτῶν με” μάλα ἀστείως ὁ Νικήτης „νὴ Δία”, εἶπεν „ἢν καὶ σὺ παύσῃ δάκνων με.”

Nicetes lived around the time of the Emperor Nero.

Image result for Medieval manuscript tax collector
House Books of the Nuremberg Twelve Brothers Foundation, Nuremberg 1388. Occupation and dress.

The Difference between Being Tipsy and Being Drunk, A Critical Holiday Debate

N.B. ὁ νήφων, “sober”

ὁ ἀκροθώραξ, “tipsy”

ὁ μεθύων, “drunk”

ὁ δὲ παντάπασι μεθύων, “shit-faced”

Plutarch, Moralia 653: Table-Talk Book 3, Question 8

Why are those who are actually drunk, less messed up than those we call tipsy?

“Since we have hassled Aristotle,” my father said, “Shouldn’t we also try to say something particular about those who are called “tipsy”. For even though he was the sharpest in these kinds of explorations, he seems to me to have insufficiently examined the cause of this. For he says, I think, that it is possible for a sober man to make a judgment well and in line with reality while one who is pretty drunk is too wrecked to have control over his perception even as one who is only tipsy remains strong in imagination but has compromised logic. For this reason, he makes judgments and does it badly because he following imaginary things. What do you think about these things?” He said.

“When I was reading this,” I said, “the argument was fine regarding the cause. But if you want me to work up some contribution of my own, look first at whether we should credit the difference you have mentioned to the body. For, the tipsy mind alone is messed up, the body is still capable of serving impulses because it is not yet completely permeated. But when the body is overcome and soaked, it betrays its movements and ignores them and it does not move on to actual deeds. Those who have a body that still responds to them are reproved not by their lack of logical thought but by their greater strength.”

Then I said, “And, if we were to consider it from another principle, nothing stops the strength of wine from being variable and from changing alongside its amount. In the same way, fire, if it is measured, gives strength and hardness to pottery; but if it strikes it too much, it melts it and makes it liquid. In another way, spring revives and increases fevers as it begins while the heat of summer settles them and makes them desist.

Therefore, what prevents the mind, once it is moved by wine naturally, when it has been disturbed and excited, from calming and settling down as drinking increases? Hellebore has at its onset of purging pain for the body. But if less then the right amount is given, it disturbs but does not cleanse. And some people are made a little manic when they have a smaller does of sleeping medicine, but sleep once they take more.”

Image result for Ancient Greek drinking vessels

Διὰ τί τῶν ἀκροθωράκων λεγομένων οἱ σφόδρα μεθύοντες ἧττον παρακινητικοί εἰσιν

 “Οὐκοῦν,” εἶπεν ὁ πατήρ, “ἐπεὶ παρακεκινήκαμεν τὸν Ἀριστοτέλη, καὶ περὶ τῶν ἀκροθωράκων τι καλουμένων ἴδιον ἐπιχειρήσομεν εἰπεῖν; οὐ γὰρ ἱκανῶς μοι δοκεῖ, καίπερ ὀξύτατος ὢν ἐν τοῖς τοιούτοις ζητήμασι, διηκριβωκέναι τὴν αἰτίαν. φησὶ γὰρ οἶμαι τοῦ μὲν νήφοντος εὖ καὶ κατὰ τὰ ὄντα κρίνειν τὸν λογισμόν, τοῦ δ᾿ ἄγαν μεθύοντος ἐκλελυμένην κατέχεσθαι τὴν αἴσθησιν, τοῦ δ᾿ ἀκροθώρακος ἔτι μὲν ἰσχύειν τὸ φανταστικὸν ἤδη δὲ τεταράχθαι τὸ λογιστικόν· διὸ καὶ κρίνειν καὶ κακῶς κρίνειν ἐπακολουθοῦντα7 ταῖς φαντασίαις. ἀλλὰ πῶς,” εἶπεν, “ὑμῖν δοκεῖ περὶ τούτων;”

 “Ἐμοὶ μέν,” ἔφην, “ἐπισκοποῦντι κατ᾿ ἐμαυτὸν ἀποχρῶν οὗτος ἦν πρὸς τὴν αἰτίαν ὁ λόγος· εἰ δὲ κελεύεις ἴδιόν τι κινεῖν, ὅρα πρῶτον εἰ τὴν εἰρημένην διαφορὰν ἐπὶ τὸ σῶμα μετοιστέον ἐστίν. τῶν γὰρ ἀκροθωράκων ἡ διάνοια μόνον τετάρακται, τὸ δὲ σῶμα ταῖς ὁρμαῖς ἐξυπηρετεῖν δύναται, μήπω βεβαπτισμένον· ὅταν δὲ κατασεισθῇ καὶ πιεσθῇ, προδίδωσι τὰς ὁρμὰς καὶ παρεῖται, μέχρι γὰρ ἔργων οὐ πρόεισιν· ἐκεῖνοι δὲ τὸ σῶμα συνεξαμαρτάνον ἔχοντες οὐ τῷ μᾶλλον ἀλογιστεῖν ἀλλὰ τῷ μᾶλλον ἰσχύειν ἐλέγχονται. ἀπ᾿ ἄλλης δ᾿,” εἶπον, “ἀρχῆς σκοποῦντι τοῦ οἴνου τὴν δύναμιν οὐδὲν κωλύει ποικίλην εἶναι καὶ τῇ ποσότητι συμμεταβάλλουσαν· ὥσπερ τὸ πῦρ τὸν κέραμον, ἂν μὲν ᾖ μέτριον, συγκρατύνει καὶ πήγνυσιν, ἂν δ᾿ ὑπερβολῇ πλήξῃ, συνέτηξε καὶ ῥεῖν ἐποίησεν· ἀνάπαλιν δ᾿ ἡ ὥρα τοὺς πυρετοὺς ἀρχομένη μὲν ἀνακινεῖ καὶ ἐκκαίει, προϊούσης δὲ μᾶλλον καθίστανται καὶ ἀπολήγουσιν. τί οὖν κωλύει καὶ τὴν διάνοιαν ὑπὸ τοῦ οἴνου φυσικῶς κινουμένην, ὅταν ταραχθῇ καὶ παροξυνθῇ, πάλιν ἀνίεσθαι καὶ καθίστασθαι πλεονάζοντος; ὁ γοῦν ἑλλέβορος ἀρχὴν τοῦ καθαίρειν ἔχει τὸ ταράττειν τὸν ὄγκον· ἂν οὖν ἐλάτων τοῦ μετρίου δοθῇ, ταράττει μὲν οὐδὲν δὲ καθαίρει. καὶ τῶν ὑπνωτικῶν ἔνιοι λαβόντες ἐνδοτέρω τοῦ μετρίου θορυβωδέστερον διατίθενται, πλέον δὲ λαβόντες καθεύδουσιν.

Silver For Gold: Strategic Gift Exchange for the Holiday Season

Julian, Letter 63 (To Hecebolus)

“…but the story is from ancient men. If, then, I were to give to you silver as swap of equal worth when you sent me gold, do not value the favor less nor, as Glaukos did, believe that the exchange is harmful, since not even Diomedes would switch silver armor for gold since the former is much more practical than the latter in the way of lead that is shaped for the ends of spears.

I am joking with you! I have assumed a certain freedom of speech based on the example you have written yourself. But, if in truth you want to send me gifts worth more than gold, write and don’t ever stop writing to me! For even a brief note from you is more dear to me than anything someone else might consider good.”

ἀλλὰ παλαιῶν ἀνδρῶν ὁ λόγος ἐστίν. εἰ δέ σοι τοῦ πεμφθέντος ὑπὸ σοῦ χρυσοῦ νομίσματος εἰς τὸ ἴσον τῆς τιμῆς ἕτερον ἀργύρεον ἀντιδίδομεν, μὴ κρίνῃς ἥττω τὴν χάριν, μηδὲ ὥσπερ τῷ Γλαύκῳ πρὸς τὸ ἔλαττον οἰηθῇς εἶναι τὴν ἀντίδοσιν, ἐπεὶ μηδὲ ὁ Διομήδης ἴσως ἀργυρᾶ χρυσῶν ἀντέδωκεν ἄν,1 ἅτε δὴ πολλῷ τῶν ἑτέρων ὄντα χρησιμώτερα καὶ τὰς αἰχμὰς οἱονεὶ μολίβδου δίκην ἐκτρέπειν εἰδότα. ταῦτά σοι προσπαίζομεν, ἀφ᾿ ὧν αὐτὸς γράφεις τὸ ἐνδόσιμον εἰς σὲ τῆς παρρησίας λαμβάνοντες. σὺ δὲ εἰ τῷ ὄντι χρυσοῦ τιμιώτερα ἡμῖν δῶρα ἐθέλεις ἐκπέμπειν, γράφε, καὶ μὴ λῆγε συνεχῶς τοῦτο πράττων· ἐμοὶ γὰρ καὶ γράμμα παρὰ σοῦ μικρὸν ὅτου περ ἂν εἴπῃ τις ἀγαθοῦ κάλλιον εἶναι κρίνεται.

Who knew that the popular Christmas song was inspired by Julian the Apostate?

Julian is referring to the famous scene of exchange between Diomedes and Glaukos in the Iliad (6.230-236)

“Let’s exchange armor with one another so that even these people
May know that we claim to be guest-friends from our fathers’ lines.”

So they spoke and leapt down from their horses,
Took one another’s hands and made their pledge.
Then Kronos’s son Zeus stole away Glaukos’ wits,
For he traded to Diomedes golden arms in exchange for bronze,
weapons worth one hundred oxen traded for those worth nine.”

τεύχεα δ’ ἀλλήλοις ἐπαμείψομεν, ὄφρα καὶ οἷδε
γνῶσιν ὅτι ξεῖνοι πατρώϊοι εὐχόμεθ’ εἶναι.
῝Ως ἄρα φωνήσαντε καθ’ ἵππων ἀΐξαντε
χεῖράς τ’ ἀλλήλων λαβέτην καὶ πιστώσαντο·
ἔνθ’ αὖτε Γλαύκῳ Κρονίδης φρένας ἐξέλετο Ζεύς,
ὃς πρὸς Τυδεΐδην Διομήδεα τεύχε’ ἄμειβε
χρύσεα χαλκείων, ἑκατόμβοι’ ἐννεαβοίων.

Schol. ad. Il. 6.234b ex.

“Kronos’ son Zeus took Glaukos’ wits away”. Because he was adorning him among his allies with more conspicuous weapons. Or, because they were made by Hephaistos. Or, as Pios claims, so that [the poet?] might amplify the Greek since they do not make an equal exchange—a thing which would be sweet to the audience.

Or, perhaps he credits him more, that he was adorned with conspicuous arms among his own and his allies. For, wherever these arms are, it is a likely place for an enemy attack.”

ex. ἔνθ’ αὖτε Γλαύκῳ <Κρονίδης> φρένας ἐξέλετο: ὅτι κατὰ τῶν συμμάχων ἐκόσμει λαμπροτέροις αὐτὸν ὅπλοις. ἢ ὡς ῾Ηφαιστότευκτα. ἢ, ὡς Πῖος (fr. 2 H.), ἵνα κἀν τούτῳ αὐξήσῃ τὸν ῞Ελληνα μὴ ἐξ ἴσου ἀπηλ<λ>αγμένον, ὅπερ ἡδὺ τοῖς ἀκούουσιν. T
ἢ μᾶλλον αἰτιᾶται αὐτόν, ὅτι λαμπροῖς ὅπλοις ἐκοσμεῖτο κατὰ ἑαυτοῦ καὶ τῶν συμμάχων· ὅπου γὰρ ταῦτα, εὔκαιρος ἡ τῶν πολεμίων ὁρμή. b(BE3E4)

I always thought that Glaukos got a raw deal from interpreters here. Prior to the stories Diomedes and Glaukos tell each other, Diomedes was just murdering everyone in his path. Glaukos—who already knew who Diomedes was before he addressed him—tells a great tale, gives Diomedes his golden weapons, and actually lives to the end of the poem. I think this is far from a witless move. And, if the armor is especially conspicuous, maybe the plan-within-a-plan is to put a golden target on Diomedes’ back.

Image result for silver and gold still

Looking For A Good Game for Your Holiday Get-Togethers? Try Plutarch’s Questions

Plutarch’s “Table-talk” stands alongside Athenaeus’ Deipnosophists and Petronius Satyricon as presenting a wide variety of fragments and subjects discussed within a somewhat fragile narrative frame. When compared to the other works, Plutarch’s seems to offer even less of an effort to unite the various topics as “Table-talk”. Over nine books, Plutarch presents 90 topics for discussion by a rotating case of characters (often including himself).

Below I have excerpted all of the questions without any of the answers. For a dinner party or get-together with classical or philosophical themes, or just any gathering you might fear will lack good cheer and exciting conversation, I suggest putting each question on a card and distributing them randomly for hilarity.

[PS: if you do this, take notes or record it and share it with the world]

Plutarch Table Talk, [Moralia]

1.1 [612] “Is it right to practice philosophy while drinking?
Εἰ δεῖ φιλοσοφεῖν παρὰ πότον

1.2 [615] “Should the host assign seats to his guests or should they arrange themselves?”
Πότερον αὐτὸν δεῖ κατακλίνειν τοὺς ἑστιωμένους τὸν ὑποδεχόμενον ἢ ἐπ᾿ αὐτοῖς ἐκείνοις ποιεῖσθαι;

1.3 [619] “Why the position called the ‘consul’s’ gained honor?”
Διὰ τί τῶν τόπων ὁ καλούμενος ὑπατικὸς ἔσχε τιμήν

1.4 [620] “What sort of person should be in charge of drinking?”
Ποῖόν τινα δεῖ τὸν συμποσίαρχον εἶναι;

1.5 [622] “Why do people say that “Love teaches the poet”?
Πῶς εἴρηται τὸ “ποιητὴν δ᾿ ἄρα Ἔρως διδάσκει”;

1.6 [623] “On Alexander the Great’s excessive drinking”
Περὶ τῆς Ἀλεξάνδρου πολυποσίας;

1.7 [625] “On why old men like strong drinks”
Διὰ τί μᾶλλον ἀκράτῳ χαίρουσιν οἱ γέροντες;

1.8 [625] “Why do the elderly have to read words from farther away?”
Διὰ τί τὰ γράμματα πόρρωθεν οἱ πρεσβύτεροι μᾶλλον ἀναγιγνώσκουσιν

1.9 [626] “Why are clothes washed with fresh water instead of salt water?”
Διὰ τί τῷ ποτίμῳ μᾶλλον ἢ τῷ θαλαττίῳ πλύνεται τὰ ἱμάτια

1.10 [628] “Why is any representative of the trivbe of Ajas never judged last in Athens?”
Διὰ τί τῆς Αἰαντίδος φυλῆς Ἀθήνησιν οὐδέποτε τὸν χορὸν ἔκρινον ὕστατον;

2.1 [629] What are the matters about which Xenophon says that people are pleased to be questioned and mocked about while drinking?”
Τίν᾿ ἐστὶν ἃ Ξενοφῶν παρὰ πότον ἥδιον ἐρωτᾶσθαί φησι καὶ σκώπτεσθαι ἢ μή;

2.2 [635] “Why do people get hungrier in the fall?”
Διὰ τί βρωτικώτεροι γίγνονται περὶ τὸ μετόπωρον;

2.3 [635] “Which came first, the hen or the egg?”
Πότερον ἡ ὄρνις πρότερον1 ἢ τὸ ᾠὸν ἐγένετο;

2.4 [638] “Is wrestling really the oldest sport?”
Εἰ πρεσβύτατον ἡ πάλη τῶν ἀγωνισμάτων;

2.5 [639] “Why does Homer always put the boxing first, following by wrestling and ending with racing in the athletic contests?”
Διὰ τί τῶν ἀθλημάτων Ὅμηρος πρῶτον ἀεὶ τάττει τὴν πυγμὴν εἶτα τὴν πάλην καὶ τελευταῖον τὸν δρόμον;

2.6 [640] “Why are pine and firm and similar plants not grafted?”
Διὰ τί πεύκη καὶ πίτυς καὶ τὰ ὅμοια τούτοις οὐκ ἐνοφθαλμίζεται;

2.7 [641] “Concerning the sucking-fish?”
Περὶ τῆς ἐχενηίδος

2.8 [641] “Why people say that horses who are bitten by wolves are temperamental”
Διὰ τί τοὺς λυκοσπάδας ἵππους θυμοειδεῖς εἶναι λέγουσιν

2.9 [642] “Why do sheep which are wolf-bitten have meat which is sweeter but wool which is covered in lice?”
Διὰ τί τὰ λυκόβρωτα τῶν προβάτων τὸ κρέας μὲν γλυκύτερον τὸ δ᾿ ἔριον φθειροποιὸν ἴσχει;

2.10 [642] “Did people in ancient days do better with their individual portions than people of today who dine from a shared plate?”
Πότερον οἱ παλαιοὶ βέλτιον ἐποίουν πρὸς μερίδας ἢ οἱ νῦν ἐκ κοινοῦ δειπνοῦντες;

3.1 [646A] “Should flower-garlands be used at Drinking parties?
Εἰ χρηστέον ἀνθίνοις στεφάνοις παρὰ πότον;

3.2 [648] Is the nature of ivy hot or cold?”
Περὶ τοῦ κιττοῦ πότερον τῇ φύσει θερμὸς ἢ ψυχρός ἐστιν

3.3 [650] “Why women are hardest to get drunk but old men easiest?”
Διὰ τί γυναῖκες ἥκιστα μεθύσκονται τάχιστα δ᾿ οἱ γέροντες

3.4 [650]“Are women colder in their mettle than men or hotter?”
Πότερον ψυχρότεραι τῇ κράσει τῶν ἀνδρῶν ἢ θερμότεραί εἰσιν αἱ γυναῖκες

3.5 [651] “Is wine more cold in is strength?”
Εἰ ψυχρότερος τῇ δυνάμει ὁ οἶνος

3.6 [653] “When is the right time for sex?”
Περὶ καιροῦ συνουσίας

3.7 [655] “Why does sweet wine intoxicate the least?”
Διὰ τί τὸ γλεῦκος ἥκιστα μεθύσκει

3.8 [653] “Why are very drunk less crazy than the merely tipsy?”
Διὰ τί τῶν ἀκροθωράκων λεγομένων οἱ σφόδρα μεθύοντες ἧττον παρακινητικοί εἰσιν;

3.9 [657] “On the proposal to “drink five or three not four”
Περὶ τοῦ “ἢ πέντε πίνειν ἢ τρί᾿ μὴ τέσσαρα”

3.10 “Why does meat rot more under the moon than the sun?”
Διὰ τί τὰ κρέα σήπεται μᾶλλον ὑπὸ τὴν σελήνην ἢ τὸν ἥλιον;

4.1 [660] “Is a variety of food easier to digest than simple fare?”
Εἰ ἡ ποικίλη τροφὴ τῆς ἁπλῆς εὐπεπτοτέρα;

4.2 [664] “Why do truffles seem to be created by thunder and why do people think that lightning never strikes sleeping people?”
Διὰ τί τὰ ὕδνα δοκεῖ τῇ βροντῇ γίνεσθαι, καὶ διὰ τί τοὺς καθεύδοντας οἴονται μὴ κεραυνοῦσθαι;

4.2 [666] “Why do people invite as many as possible to wedding meals?”
Διὰ τί πλείστους ἐν γάμοις ἐπὶ δεῖπνον καλοῦσιν;

4.4 [667] “Is the sea more full of delicacies than the land?”
Εἰ ἡ θάλασσα τῆς γῆς εὐοψοτέρα;

4.5 [669] “Do Jews avoid the meat because they revere or despise pork?”
Πότερον οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι σεβόμενοι τὴν ὗν ἢ δυσχεραίνοντες ἀπέχονται τῶν κρεῶν;

4.6 [671] “Who is the Jews’ god?”
Τίς ὁ παρ᾿ Ἰουδαίοις θεός;

4.7 [672] “Why are days named for the planets arranged in an order different from the planets’ order? And, on the position of the sun?”
Διὰ τί τὰς ὁμωνύμους τοῖς πλάνησιν ἡμέρας οὐ κατὰ τὴν ἐκείνων τάξιν ἀλλ᾿ ἐνηλλαγμένως ἀριθμοῦσιν· ἐν ᾧ καὶ περὶ ἡλίου τάξεως

4.8 “Why do people carry seal rings on the finger next to the middle finger?”
Διὰ τί τῶν δακτύλων μάλιστα τῷ παραμέσῳ σφραγῖδας φοροῦσιν

4.9 “Is it more appropriate to wear images of gods or wise men on seal rings?”
Εἰ δεῖ θεῶν εἰκόνας ἐν ταῖς σφραγῖσιν ἢ σοφῶν ἀνδρῶν φορεῖν

4.10 “Why don’t women eat lettuce hearts?”
Διὰ τί τὸ μέσον τῆς θρίδακος αἱ γυναῖκες οὐ τρώγουσιν

5.1 [673] “Why do we feel pleasure hearing people act like they are angry and sad but displeasure when people are actually feeling these things?”
Διὰ τί τῶν μιμουμένων τοὺς ὀργιζομένους καὶ λυπουμένους ἡδέως ἀκούομεν, αὐτῶν δὲ τῶν ἐν τοῖς πάθεσιν ὄντων ἀηδῶς;

5.2 [674] “Was the poetic competition truly ancient?”
Ὅτι παλαιὸν ἦν ἀγώνισμα τὸ τῆς ποιητικῆς;

5.3 “For what reason was the pine considered sacred to Poseidon and Dionysus?
Τίς αἰτία δι᾿ ἣν ἡ πίτυς ἱερὰ Ποσειδῶνος ἐνομίσθη καὶ Διονύσου;

5.4 [677] “What do we think about the Homeric phrase “mix the wine stronger?”
Περὶ τοῦ “ζωρότερον δὲ κέραιε”;

5.5 [678]“What do we think of those who invite many to dinner?”
Περὶ τῶν πολλοὺς ἐπὶ δεῖπνον καλούντων;

5.6 [679] “What’s the reason there is not enough space for diners at the beginning of a meal but plenty later?”
Τίς αἰτία τῆς ἐν ἀρχῇ στενοχωρίας τῶν δειπνούντων εἶθ᾿ ὕστερον εὐρυχωρίας;

5.7 [680] “What do we think of those who cast a spell and have an evil eye?”
Περὶ τῶν καταβασκαίνειν λεγομένων καὶ βάσκανον ἔχειν ὀφθαλμὸν

5.8 [683] “Why does Homer call an apple tree “splendid in fruit while Empedocles calls apples hyperphloia?”
Διὰ τί τὴν μηλέαν “ἀγλαόκαρπον” ὁ ποιητὴς εἶπεν, Ἐμπεδοκλῆς δ᾿ “ὑπέρφλοια” τὰ μῆλα;

5.9 [684] “What’s the reason that the fig tree produces the sweetest fruit even though it is the most bitter tree?”
Τίς ἡ αἰτία, δι᾿ ἣν ἡ συκῆ δριμύτατον οὖσα δένδρον γλυκύτατον παρέχει τὸν καρπόν

5.10 [684] “Who are ‘salt and bean’ friends and, in connection, why does Homer call salt holy?”
Τίνες οἱ περὶ ἄλα καὶ κύαμον· ἐν ᾧ καὶ διὰ τί τὸν ἅλα “θεῖον” ὁ ποιητὴς εἶπεν;

6.1 [686] “What is the reason those who are fast are thirstier than they are hungry?”
Τίς ἡ αἰτία, δι᾿ ἣν οἱ νηστεύοντες διψῶσι μᾶλλον ἢ πεινῶσιν;

6.2 [687] “Are hunger and thirst caused by something missing or by a transformation of passages?”
Πότερον ἔνδεια ποιεῖ τὸ πεινῆν καὶ διψῆν ἢ πόρων μετασχηματισμός;

6.3 [689] “Why people stop being hungry if they drink but they get thirstier when they eat?”
Διὰ τί πεινῶντες μέν, ἐὰν πίωσι, παύονται, διψῶντες δ᾿, ἐὰν φάγωσιν, ἐπιτείνονται;

6.4 [689] “What is the reason that water which is drawn from awell gets cooler if remains in the air of the well over night?”
Διὰ τίν᾿ αἰτίαν τὸ φρεατιαῖον ὕδωρ ἀρυσθέν, ἐὰν ἐν αὐτῷ τῷ τοῦ φρέατος ἀέρι νυκτερεύσῃ, ψυχρότερον γίνεται

6.5 [690] “What is the reason that pebbles and bits of led thrown into water make it colder?”
Διὰ τίν᾿ αἰτίαν οἱ χάλικες καὶ αἱ μολιβδίδες ἐμβαλλόμεναι ψυχρότερον τὸ ὕδωρ ποιοῦσιν;

6.6 [691] “Why do people preserve snow with a covering of straw and cloths?”
Διὰ τίν᾿ αἰτίαν ἀχύροις καὶ ἱματίοις τὴν χιόνα διαφυλάττουσι;

6.7 [692] “Is it necessary to strain wine or not?”
Εἰ δεῖ τὸν οἶνον ἐνδιηθεῖν;

6.8 [693] “What is the cause of bulimia?”
Τίς αἰτία βουλίμου;

6.9 [694] “Why does Homer use particular epithets for other liquids while he only calls olive oil liquid?”
Διὰ τί ὁ ποιητὴς ἐπὶ μὲν τῶν ἄλλων ὑγρῶν τοῖς ἰδίοις ἐπιθέτοις χρῆται, μόνον δὲ τὸ ἔλαιον ὑγρὸν καλεῖ;

6.10 [696] “what is the reason that sacrificial meat becomes more tender when it is suspended on a fig tree?”
Τίς αἰτία, δι᾿ ἣν ψαθυρὰ γίνεται ταχὺ τὰ ἐκ συκῆς κρεμαννύμενα τῶν ἱερείων;

7.1 [698] “Against those who attack Plato because he says that drink goes through the lungs?”
Πρὸς τοὺς ἐγκαλοῦντας Πλάτωνι τὸ ποτὸν εἰπόντι διὰ τοῦ πλεύμονος ἐξιέναι;

7.2 [700] “Who is the “hornstruck” man according to Plato and why are seeds that fall on the horns of cattle harder?”
Τίς ὁ παρὰ τῷ Πλάτωνι κερασβόλος, καὶ διὰ τί τῶν σπερμάτων ἀτεράμονα γίγνεται τὰ προσπίπτοντα τοῖς κέρασι τῶν βοῶν;

7.3 [701] “What is the reason that the middle of wine is best, while olive oil is better at the top and honey is better near the bottom?”
Διὰ τί τοῦ μὲν οἴνου τὸ μέσον, τοῦ δ᾿ ἐλαίου τὸ ἐπάνω, τοῦ δὲ μέλιτος τὸ κάτω γίνεται βέλτιον;

7.4 [702] “Why did ancient Romans forbid that an empty table be removed or that a lamp be extinguished?”
Διὰ τί τοῖς πάλαι Ῥωμαίοις ἔθος ἦν μήτε τράπεζαν αἰρομένην περιορᾶν κενὴν μήτε λύχνον σβεννύμενον;

7.5 [703] “Is it the case that it is necessary to guard against the pleasures of degenerate music and how one must do it?”
Ὅτι δεῖ μάλιστα τὰς διὰ τῆς κακομουσίας ἡδονὰς φυλάττεσθαι, καὶ πῶς φυλακτέον;

7.6 [706] “A question about so-called “shadows” and if it is right to go to one person’s dinner at the invitation of others and when this is right and what kinds of hosts it is right for.”
Περὶ τῶν λεγομένων σκιῶν, καὶ εἰ δεῖ βαδίζειν καλούμενον πρὸς ἑτέρους ὑφ᾿ ἑτέρων ἐπὶ δεῖπνον, καὶ πότε, καὶ παρὰ τίνας;
7.7 [710] “is the music of flute girls right while drinking?
Εἰ δεῖ παρὰ πότον αὐλητρίσι χρῆσθαι;

7.8 [712] “What is the best entertainment at dinner?”
Τίσι μάλιστα χρηστέον ἀκροάμασι παρὰ δεῖπνον;

7.9 [714] “is it true that taking council on public affairs while drinking is no less Greek than Persian?”
Ὄτι βουλεύεσθαι παρὰ πότον οὐχ ἧττον ἦν Ἑλληνικὸν ἢ Περσικόν

7.10 [714] “Do those who deliberate while drinking do it well?”
Εἰ καλῶς ἐποίουν βουλευόμενοι παρὰ πότον;

8.1 [717] “About the days on which famous people were born and, in addition on births alleged from divine parents”
Περὶ ἡμερῶν ἐν αἷς γεγόνασί τινες τῶν ἐπιφανῶν· ἐν ᾧ καὶ περὶ τῆς λεγομένης ἐκ θεῶν γενέσεως

8.2 [718] “How did Plato mean that god was always doing geometry.”
Πῶς Πλάτων ἔλεγε τὸν θεὸν ἀεὶ γεωμετρεῖν;

8.3 [720] “Why is night more echoic than the day.”
Διὰ τί τῆς ἡμέρας ἠχωδεστέρα ἡ νύξ;

8.4 [724] “What’s the reason that different athletic competitions have different wreaths but all if them have the palm-frond. Also, why do people call large dates Nicolauses”
Διὰ τί τῶν ἱερῶν ἀγώνων ἄλλος ἄλλον ἔχει στέφανον, τὸν δὲ φοίνικα πάντες· ἐν ᾧ καὶ διὰ τί τὰς μεγάλας φοινικοβαλάνους Νικολάους καλοῦσιν;

8.5 [725] “Why do those who sail take water from the Nile before day?”
Διὰ τί πρὸ ἡμέρας ἐκ τοῦ Νείλου οἱ πλέοντες ὑδρεύονται;

8.6 [725] “Concerning people who come late to dinner. In addition, where the term akratisma [“breakfast”] and ariston [“lunch/breakfast”] and deipnon [“dinner”]
Περὶ τῶν ὀψὲ παραγινομένων ἐπὶ τὸ δεῖπνον· ἐν ᾧ καὶ πόθεν ἀκράτισμα καὶ ἄριστον καὶ δεῖπον ὠνομάσθη;

8.7 [727] “Concerning the Pythagorean injunction against inviting a swallow into the home and not to shake out the bedclothes right after rising.”
Περὶ συμβόλων Πυθαγορικῶν, ἐν οἷς παρεκελεύοντο χελιδόνα οἰκίᾳ. μὴ δέχεσθαι καὶ τὰ στρώματα συνταράττειν εὐθὺς ἀναστάντας

8.8 [728] “What’s the reason that Pythagoreans resist eating fish more than any other creature.”
Διὰ τί μάλιστα οἱ Πυθαγορικοὶ ἐμψύχων τοὺς ἰχθῦς παρῃτοῦντο;

8.9 [731] “Is it possible for new diseases to develop and what are their causes?”
Εἰ δυνατόν ἐστι συστῆναι νοσήματα καινὰ καὶ δι᾿ ἃς αἰτίας;

8.10 [734] “Why do we believe our dreams least in the autumn?”
Διὰ τί τοῖς φθινοπωρινοῖς ἐνυπνίοις ἥκιστα πιστεύομεν;

9.1 [736] “On timely and untimely quotations”
Περὶ στίχων εὐκαίρως ἀναπεφωνημένων καὶ ἀκαίρως;

9.2 [737] “Why is it that alpha is the first letter in the alphabet?”
Τίς αἰτία, δι᾿ ἣν τὸ ἄλφα προτέτακται τῶν στοιχείων;

9.3 [738] “What is the numerical relationship between vowels and semi-vowels?”
Κατὰ ποίαν ἀναλογίαν ὁ τῶν φωνηέντων καὶ ἡμιφώνων ἀριθμὸς συντέτακται;

9.4 [739] “Which of Aphrodite’s hands did Diomedes wound?”
Ποτέραν χεῖρα τῆς Ἀφροδίτης ἔτρωσεν ὁ Διομήδης;

9.5 “Why did Plato claim that Ajax’s soul was the twentieth to come to the drawing of lots?”
Διὰ τί Πλάτων εἰκοστὴν ἔφη τὴν Αἴαντος ψυχὴν ἐπὶ τὸν κλῆρον ἐκθεῖν;

9.6 [740] “What secret meaning does the tale of Poseidon’s defeat have? Also, why did the Athenians skip the second day of the month of Boedromion?”
Τί αἰνίττεται ὁ περὶ τῆς ἥττης τοῦ Ποσειδῶνος μῦθος; ἐν ᾧ καὶ διὰ τί τὴν δευτέραν Ἀθηναῖοι τοῦ Βοηδρομιῶνος ἐξαιροῦσιν;

9.7 [741] “What’s the cause for the division of melodies into a triad?”
Τίς αἰτία τῆς εἰς τριάδα διαιρέσεως τῶν μελῶν;

9.8 [741] “What difference is there between consonant and melodic intervals?”
Τίνι διαφέρει τὰ ἐμμελῆ διαστήματα τῶν συμφώνων;

9.9 [741] “What causes consonance? Also, why, when consonant notes are sounded, does the melody follow the one with lower pitch?”
Τίς αἰτία συμφωνήσεως; ἐν ᾧ καὶ διὰ τί, τῶν συμφώνων ὁμοῦκρουομένων, τοῦ βαρυτέρου γίνεται τὸ μέλος;

9.10 “What’s the reason that, when the sun and moon have equal ecliptic periods, the moon seems to enter into eclipse more often than the sun?”
Διὰ τί, τῶν ἐκλειπτικῶν περιόδων ἡλίου καὶ σελήνης ἰσαρίθμων οὐσῶν,3 ἡ σελήνη φαίνεται πλεονάκις ἐκλείπουσα τοῦ ἡλίου;

I swear, this idea could make me a million dollars.

How Gift-Giving is Like Getting Drunk: Fronto with Seasonal Advice

Cornelius Fronto, To Appian from Fronto 7

“The person who sends rather weighty gifts causes no less grief than the one who throws the ball too hard to his teammate or offers a big cup to his fellow drinker in toast. For the latter seems to toast not for pleasure but for getting drunk. Just as in wise drinking parties we see that the wine is mixed with a little pure alcohol and a lot of water, so too are gifts mixed best with a lot of thought and a little expenditure.

For who should we say gets the benefit from expensive gifts? Is it the poor? They are not capable of giving them. The rich? They don’t need to get them. In addition, it is not possible to constantly give expensive gifts—there will be a failure of resources if someone should often send out immense gifts. It is possible, however, to give small gifts endlessly and without regret—since someone owes only small thanks to the one who gave a small gift.”

  1. Ὁ δὲ τὰ βαρύτερα δῶρα πέμπων οὐχ ἧττον λυπεῖ τοῦ βαρεῖαν πέμποντος ἐπὶ τὸν συσφαιρίζοντα ἢ μεγάλην κύλην προπίνοντος τῷ συμπότῃ・ εἰς γὰρ μέθην οὐκ εἰς ἡδονὴν προπίνειν ἔοικεν. ὥσπερ δὲ τὸν οἶνον ἐν τοῖς σώφροσιν συμποσίοις ὁρῶμεν κιρνάμενον ἀκράτῳ μὲν πάνυ ὀλίγῳ, πλείστῳ δὲ τῷ ὕδατι, οὕτω δὴ καὶ τὰ δῶρα κιρνάναι προσῆκεν πολλῇ μὲν φιλοφροσύνῃ, ἐλαχίστῳ δὲ ἀναλώματι. τίσιν γὰp ἂν Φαίημεν ἁρμόττειν τὰ πολυτελῆ δῶρα; ἆρά γε τοῖς πένησιν; ἀλλὰ πέμπειν οὐ δύνανται・ ἢ τοῖς πλουσίοις; ἀλλά λαμβάνειν οὐ δέονται. τοῖς μὲν οὖν μεγάλοις δώροις τὸ συνεχὲς οὐ πρόσεστιν, ἢ ἐκπεσεῖν ἀναγκὴ τῶν ὑπαρχόντων, εἴ τις μεγάλα τε πέμποι καὶ πολλάκις. τοῖς δὲ μικροῖς δώροις τό τε συνεχὲς πρόσεστιν καί τὸ ἀμεταγνωστόν, εἰ <καὶ μικρὰ δεῖ τε>λέσαι μικρὰ πέμψαντι.†

 

Image result for Fronto medieval manuscript
Hermit at work on a manuscript, from the Estoire del Saint Graal, France

Tis the Season to Drink With Reason: Put a Philosopher in Charge!

In Plutarch’s “Table-Talk” we find three books of ten ‘conversation prompts’ followed by an imagined conversation based on them. Below is just the beginning of the discussion about what kind of a man should be named the symposiarch–a office tasked with setting the conversation, number of drinks, and strength of the wine during the symposium.

Table-Talk: Moralia 620: What kind of man should be in charge of drinking?

My brother-in-law Kratôn and my friend Theôn were at a drinking party when everyone was beginning to get tipsy but then calmed down and they began to speak about the symposiarch, because they were of the opinion that I should take up the duty and not allow an ancient custom to be abandoned by everyone. No, they thought I should renew it and reestablish the position’s authority over drinking parties and their rules. This seemed right to the other guests as well to the extent that they raised a shout and called on me to do the job.

Then I said, “Since this is agreed upon by all of you, I select myself as the symposiarch and I order the rest of you to drink as you would want to for the present, but Kratôn and Theôn—the men who introduced this idea and carried it, they must elaborate in brief outline what kind of many should be selected as symposiarch, and what goal he will make the priority of his office, and how he will apply the customs of the symposium. I entrust to them to choose their order of speaking.

They tried a little to deny what they were asked, but when everyone was insisting that they obey the leader and do what he asked. Kratôn first said that it is necessary that the chief of the guards be the most guardianly among them, as Plato says, and therefore the chief symposiast must be the most sympotic. And he explained “He is this kind of a man should he be neither easily overcome by drunkenness nor disinclined to drink, as Kuros used to say when he wrote to the Lakedaimonians that he was more kingly than his brother and could handle a lot of unmixed wine well. For a drunk is arrogant and rude but someone who doesn’t drink at all is a buzzkill and better suited to watching the children than running a drinking party.”

Image result for ancient greek symposium

 

Ποῖόν τινα δεῖ τὸν συμποσίαρχον εἶναι;

Κράτων ὁ γαμβρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ Θέων ὁ ἑταῖρος ἔν τινι πότῳ παροινίας ἀρχὴν λαβούσης εἶτα παυσαμένης λόγον ἐποιήσαντο περὶ τῆς συμποσιαρχίας, οἰόμενοί με δεῖν στεφανηφοροῦντα μὴ περιιδεῖν παλαιὸν ἔθος ἐκλειφθὲν παντάπασιν, ἀλλ᾿ ἀνακαλεῖν καὶ καταστῆσαι πάλιν τῆς ἀρχῆς τὴν νενομισμένην ἐπιστασίαν περὶ τὰ συμπόσια καὶ διακόσμησιν. ἐδόκει δὲ ταῦτα καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις, ὥστε θόρυβον ἐκ πάντων καὶ παράκλησιν γενέσθαι.

“Ἐπεὶ τοίνυν,” ἔφην ἐγώ, “δοκεῖ ταῦτα πᾶσιν, ἐμαυτὸν αἱροῦμαι συμποσίαρχον ὑμῶν καὶ κελεύω τοὺς μὲν ἄλλους ὡς βούλονται πίνειν ἐν τῷ παρόντι, Κράτωνα δὲ καὶ Θέωνα, τοὺς εἰσηγητὰς καὶ νομοθέτας τοῦ δόγματος, ἔν τινι τύπῳ βραχέως διελθεῖν, ὁποῖον ὄντα δεῖ τὸν συμποσίαρχον αἱρεῖσθαι καὶ τί ποιούμενος τέλος ὁ αἱρεθεὶς ἄρξει καὶ πῶς χρήσεται τοῖς κατὰ τὸ συμπόσιον· διελέσθαι δὲ τὸν λόγον ἐφεξῆς αὐτοῖς ἐπιτρέπω.”. Μικρὰ μὲν οὖν ἠκκίσαντο παραιτούμενοι· κελευόντων δὲ πάντων πείθεσθαι τῷ ἄρχοντι καὶ ποιεῖν τὸ προσταττόμενον, ἔφη πρότερος ὁ Κράτων ὅτι δεῖ τὸν μὲν φυλάκων ἄρχοντα φυλακικώτατον, ὥς φησιν ὁ Πλάτων, εἶναι, τὸν δὲ συμποτῶν συμποτικώτατον. “ἔστι δὲ τοιοῦτος ἂν μήτε τῷ μεθύειν εὐάλωτος ᾖ μήτε πρὸς τὸ πίνειν ἀπρόθυμος, ἀλλ᾿ ὡς ὁ Κῦρος ἔλεγεν πρὸς Λακεδαιμονίους γράφων ὅτι τά τ᾿ ἄλλα τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ βασιλικώτερος εἴη καὶ φέροι καλῶς πολὺν ἄκρατον· ὅ τε γὰρ παροινῶν ὑβριστὴς καὶ ἀσχήμων, ὅ τ᾿ αὖ παντάπασι νήφων ἀηδὴς καὶ παιδαγωγεῖν μᾶλλον ἢ συμποσιαρχεῖν ἐπιτήδειος.

Get the Best of Every Thanksgiving Dish With this One Simple Trick!

The training regimen of Philoxenus of Leucus (Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 1.9.1-19)

“Certain flat-cakes were eventually named ‘Philoxenian’ from a man named Philoxenus. Chrysippus says of him: ‘I know of a certain foodie who fell so far from worrying about what people thought of his actions that he publicly tried to get used to heat in the public baths by plunging his hands in the hot water or gargling with it so that he couldn’t be moved from the hot plates! People claimed that he was pressuring the cooks to serve the food as hot as possible so that he could swallow it alone, since no one else would be able to keep up with him.’

The same accounts are given of Philoxenus the Cytherean, Archytas and many others—one of them says the following in a comedy by Crobylus (fr. 8):

A. ‘For this dish that is beyond hot

I have Idaean finger tips
And it is sweet to steam my throat with fish steaks!

B. He’s a kiln not a man!’

Cooking1
Make it hotter!

ἀπὸ τούτου τοῦ Φιλοξένου καὶ Φιλοξένειοί τινες πλακοῦντες ὠνομάσθησαν. περὶ τούτου Χρύσιππός φησιν· ‘ἐγὼ κατέχω τινὰ ὀψοφάγον ἐπὶ τοσοῦτον ἐκπεπτωκότα τοῦ μὴ ἐντρέπεσθαι τοὺς πλησίον ἐπὶ τοῖς γινομένοις ὥστε φανερῶς ἐν τοῖς βαλανείοις τήν τε χεῖρα συνεθίζειν πρὸς τὰ θερμὰ καθιέντα εἰς ὕδωρ θερμὸν καὶ τὸ στόμα ἀναγαργαριζόμενον θερμῷ, ὅπως δηλονότι ἐν τοῖς θερμοῖς δυσκίνητος ᾖ. ἔφασαν γὰρ αὐτὸν καὶ τοὺς ὀψοποιοῦντας ὑποποιεῖσθαι, ἵνα θερμότατα παρατιθῶσι καὶ μόνος καταναλίσκῃ αὐτὸς τῶν λοιπῶν συνακολουθεῖν μὴ δυναμένων.’ τὰ δ’ αὐτὰ καὶ περὶ τοῦ Κυθηρίου Φιλοξένου ἱστοροῦσι καὶ ᾿Αρχύτου καὶ ἄλλων πλειόνων, ὧν τις παρὰ Κρωβύλῳ τῷ κωμικῷ φησιν (IV 568 M)·

ἐγὼ δὲ πρὸς τὰ θερμὰ ταῦθ’ ὑπερβολῇ
τοὺς δακτύλους δήπουθεν ᾿Ιδαίους ἔχω
καὶ τὸν λάρυγγ’ ἥδιστα πυριῶ τεμαχίοις.

Β. κάμινος, οὐκ ἄνθρωπος.