“Zeus! Why have you settled women, a curse for mortals
To live among us in the light of the sun?
If you wanted to sow the mortal race
You didn’t need to procure it from women!
But mortals could have placed purchase weights
Of bronze or gold or iron in your temples
To purchase the seed of children, each price
Equal to the worth of the man, and then we
Could live free of women in our homes!”
“Lollianos the Ephesian was the first Chair of Rhetoric at Athens and he also stood as governor of the Athenian people as the general of the hoplites. This office in early years was meant for the gathering of supplies and preparations for war; but in those days it was concerned with provisions and the food in the market. When there was a serious protest in the bread-sellers district, and the Athenians were on the verge of stoning Lollianos, Pankrates the Cynic, who in later years studied Philosophy at the Isthmus, stepped forward and said: “Lollianos isn’t a bread-seller, he’s a purveyor of words!” He distracted the Athenians enough that they put down the rocks that were in their hands.
Another time when the grain shipment came from Thessaly and there were no public funds, Lollianos assigned the payment to his students and a heap of money was collected. This seems to be the mark of a clever man and one wise at politics, but his next move shows him just and wise: for he refunded all those who contributed money the amount he charged for his lectures.”
About seven years ago, soon after the birth of our first child, I put most of Ancient Greek grammar on powerpoint slides in order to (1) tighten up and improve my Greek courses (I made narrated presentations that I shared with students); (2) create a portfolio of Greek teaching materials that I would use for the foreseeable future; and (3) studiously avoid not writing a book by doing very important work. The sleeplessness of the first few months of my daughter’s life coupled with a special type of cabin-fever (it was 100+ degrees for over 60 days straight) might have warped my judgment a bit. Inspired by Plato’s Euthydemos I wrote the following examples for Greek conditional statements:
In this passage Socrates argues against the sophists’ practice of taking money to teach about wisdom. In modern terms, Socrates might be seen as arguing against the commodification of our everyday relationships and exchanges. One can only imagine his responses to the notion of the ‘sharing economy’.
“Socrates responded to these things, “Antiphon, we share the belief that there is both a noble and a shameful way to share beauty and wisdom. For if someone offers beauty to anyone who wants it for money, people call him a prostitute. But if someone makes someone he knows who is a good and noble lover into a friend, we consider it prudent. It is the same way with wisdom: people call men who sell it to anyone who wishes for money a sophist [just like prostitutes] but whoever makes a friend of anyone he knows as capable and teaches him whatever good he can, we think that he has accomplished the duties of a good and noble citizen.
This, then, is how I proceed myself, Antiphon, just as some might get excited about a good horse, or a dog or a bird, I am so much more eager for good friends. And, if I know anything good, I teach it and I suggest others to them from whom I think they might gain some benefit concerning virtue. I also work through the treasures left by the wise men of old—those they have left in writing their books—opening them with my friends and picking out whatever good we discover. We consider this a great profit, if we become mutual friends* in this way.”
From the Lives of the Sophists (Aristocles of Pergamum)
“Aristocles of Pergamum was famous among sophists—I will relate as much as I have heard about him from older men. This man came from a consular rank; although from the time of childhood through adolescence he studied the work of the Peripatetic school, he moved on to the sophists and frequented Herodes’ lectures on extemporaneous speech in Rome. As a student of philosophy, he was coarse and heedless in appearance, and his clothing was squalid; but as a sophist, he took delicate care—he reformed his squalid ways and introduced into his house the pleasures of the lyre, pipes, and voices as if he had heard them knocking at his door. Although in earlier days he had been rather restrained, now he frequently went to the theater and its great noise.
When he was becoming well-known in Pergamum and all of Greece nearby was fixated with him, Herodes traveled to Pergamum and sent his own students to him—he raised up Aristocles as a vote from Athena would. His fashion of speech was clear and Attic, but it was readier for set-debate than forensic use—for his speech had no anger or sudden breaks; and his Atticism, if it were to be weighed against Herodes’ speech, would seem rather slight and to lack in weight and sound. Aristocles died when his hair was half-grey, when he was just starting to get old.”
“Consider it immaterial whether Dionysius of Miletus was, as some claim, born from famous forebears or whether, as others maintain, he was a child of freedmen, since he became well-known through his own efforts. For emphasis on one’s ancestors is a trait of those with no chance of praise earned on their own.
These foregoing details provide a general sense of Dionysius, and how it was his custom to consider the matter of his speeches as long as [his teacher] Isaios would. Concerning the story circulating about Dionysius, that he trained his students in mnemonic practice using the Chaldean arts*, I will attempt to show its origins. There are no special arts of memory, nor could there be. For, since memory teaches us the arts, it is unteachable itself; there is no method of gaining it since it is a present from nature or a portion of the immortal soul. For, it shouldn’t be credited that human beings are mortal, nor could any of the things we have learned be taught unless memory itself lived alongside men. Whether it is right to call her the mother of time or her child, I will not quibble with the poets—let it be whatever they want.
In addition to this, who canonized among the wise would be so heedless of his own reputation as to slander what has actually been taught correctly by using witchcraft with his students? Where, then, does the mnemonic skill of his followers come from? The speeches of Dionysius provided such pleasure to them that they compelled him to repeat them often, and he would—since he could sense their delight in hearing them. The students who learned more easily used to imprint them on their thoughts and they used to recite them to others once they had fully retained them by practice rather than memory. This is why the used to be called “memory-men” and made this technique their art. In addition, this is why some criticize the speeches of Dionysius as bits collected from here and there, since they claim that where Dionysius was brief, others have added much.”
“There was no telling of tales nor yet did anyone sing things that had not happened before Priam and Troy. The art of poetry concerned prophecy and Alkmene’s son Herakles and had just been established, not yet in its bloom since Homer had not yet sung, some say until right after the sack of Troy or within a few years, but others say that he made it a poem as many as eight generations later.”
“Lollianus the Ephesian was the first Chair of Rhetoric at Athens and he also stood as governor of the Athenian people as the general of the hoplites. This office in early years was meant for the gathering of supplies and preparations for war; but in those days it was concerned with provisions and the food in the market. When there was a serious protest in the bread-sellers district, and the Athenians were on the verge of stoning Lollianus, Pankrates the Cynic, who in later years studied Philosophy at the Isthmus, stepped forward and said: “Lollianus isn’t a bread-seller, he’s a purveyor of words!” He distracted the Athenians enough that they put down the rocks that were in their hands.”
“On the fact that it is necessary that a man who has much requires much and a brief, elegant saying on the subject from the philosopher Favorinus.
Absolutely true is the fact which wise men have recited from both observation and experience, namely that a man who has much has great needs and that these needs come not from an overwhelming poverty but from great abundance—many things are required to maintain the many things you have. Whoever, then, has much and wishes to be on guard or to plan that he may not lose or lack anything, must not acquire more, but must instead possess less so that he may lose less. I remember this line from Favorinus, obscured among a great applause and expressed in these fewest words:
“It is impossible for someone who has fifteen thousand cloaks not to want more. Should I desire more in addition to what I have, once I have lost some of it, I will be satisfied with what I retain.” [Favorinus fr. 104]
Necessum esse, qui multa habeat, multis indigere; deque ea re Favorini philosophi cum brevitate eleganti sententia.
1 Verum est profecto, quod observato rerum usu sapientes viri dixere, multis egere, qui multa habeat, magnamque indigentiam nasci non ex inopia magna, sed ex magna copia: multa enim desiderari ad multa, quae habeas, tuenda. 2 Quisquis igitur multa habens cavere atque prospicere velit, ne quid egeat neve quid desit, iactura opus esse, non quaestu, et minus habendum esse, ut minus desit. 3 Hanc sententiam memini a Favorino inter ingentes omnium clamores detornatam inclusamque verbis his paucissimis: τὸν γὰρ μυρίων καὶ πεντακισχιλίων χλαμύδων δεόμενον οὐκ ἔστι μὴ πλειόνων δεῖσθαι· οἷς γὰρ ἔχω προσδεόμενος, ἀφελὼν ὧν ἔχω, ἀρκοῦμαι οἷς ἔχω.
The sentiment is not identical, but it is not altogether that different either:
In discussing the life and death of Critias (relative of Plato, one of the Thirty Tyrants of Athens), Philostratus writes.
“I claim that no man can die nobly if he does so for the wrong beliefs. This seems to me to be the reason that [Critias’] wisdom and thoughts are less well esteemed by the Greeks. For, if our words are not in accord with our character, we seem to speak with a foreign tongue, like flutes.”