Large Leo Loves Life

From the Suda

“Leôn, the son of Leôn. He was a Peripatetic philosopher and sophist, a student of Plato or, as some claim, of Aristotle. He wrote about the time of Philip and Byzantium in 7 books, Teuthrantikos, On Bêsaios, On The Sacred War, Concerning Disagreements, and A History of Alexander.

He was very fat. And when he was on a delegation to Athens he both prompted laughter and secured the embassy’s mission, all while he appeared drinking wine with an enormous belly. When he wasn’t at all troubled by the laughter, he said “Why are you laughing Athenians, because I am this fat? My wife is even fatter! And our bed is large enough when we are in agreement—but when we argue, the house is not.” The Athenians came together, united by Leôn who had acted so wisely at the right time.

Philip slandered Leôn when he was trying to keep him from Byzantium in a letter that went like this: “If I gave as much money to Leôn as he asked for, I could have taken Byzantium at the start!” When the people heard these things, they prepared to Attack Leôn’s home. Because he was afraid that they would stone him, he choked himself to death, a wretch who gained nothing from his wisdom and his words.”

Λέων, Λέοντος, Βυζάντιος, φιλόσοφος Περιπατητικὸς καὶ σοφιστής, μαθητὴς Πλάτωνος ἢ ὥς τινες Ἀριστοτέλους. ἔγραψε τὰ κατὰ Φίλιππον καὶ τὸ Βυζάντιον βιβλίοις ζ#, Τευθραντικόν, Περὶ Βησαίου, Τὸν ἱερὸν πόλεμον, Περὶ στάσεων, Τὰ κατ’ Ἀλέξανδρον. οὗτος ἦν σφόδρα παχύς. καὶ πρεσβεύσας πρὸς Ἀθηναίους γέλωτά τε ἐκίνησε καὶ τῆς πρεσβείας ἐκράτησεν, ἐπειδὴ πίων ἐφαίνετο καὶ περιττὸς τὴν γαστέρα. ταραχθεὶς δὲ οὐδὲν ἀπὸ τοῦ γέλωτος, τί, ἔφη, ὦ Ἀθηναῖοι γελᾶτε; ἢ ὅτι παχὺς ἐγὼ καὶ τοσοῦτος; ἔστι μοι καὶ γυνὴ πολλῷ παχυτέρα, καὶ ὁμονοοῦντας μὲν ἡμᾶς χωρεῖ ἡ κλίνη, διαφερομένους δὲ οὐδὲ ἡ οἰκία. καὶ εἰς ἓν ἦλθεν ὁ τῶν Ἀθηναίων δῆμος, ἁρμοσθεὶς ὑπὸ τοῦ Λέοντος, σαφῶς ἐπισχεδιάσαντος τῷ καιρῷ. οὗτος ὁ Λέων ἀποκρουόμενος τὸν Φίλιππον ἀπὸ τοῦ Βυζαντίου διεβλήθη παρὰ Φιλίππου πρὸς τοὺς Βυζαντίους δι’ ἐπιστολῆς, ἐχούσης οὕτως: εἰ τοσαῦτα χρήματα παρεῖχον Λέοντι, ὁπόσα με ᾐτεῖτο, ἐκ πρώτης ἂν ἔλαβον τὸ Βυζάντιον. ταῦτα ἀκούσαντος τοῦ δήμου καὶ ἐπισυστάντος τῇ οἰκίᾳ τοῦ Λέοντος, φοβηθεὶς μή πως λιθόλευστος παρ’ αὐτῶν γένηται, ἑαυτὸν ἦγξε, μηδὲν ἀπὸ τῆς σοφίας καὶ τῶν λόγων κερδάνας ὁ δείλαιος.

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A Strange Wish: The Scholia on Alkinoos’ Marriage Offer

Yesterday I collected some of the scholia’s comments on the strangeness of the Iliad There are fewer such comments in the scholia to the Odyssey, but where they do occur they seem to be rather substantial.

Odyssey 7.311-316

“I pray to father Zeus, Athena and Apollo that you,
since you are this kind of a man, understanding the things I understand too,
Might have my daughter and be called my son-in-law,
and stay here. I would give you my home and possessions,
If you wanted to stay. But none of the Phaeacians would hold you
Unwilling. This would not be dear to father Zeus.”

αἲ γάρ, Ζεῦ τε πάτερ καὶ ᾿Αθηναίη καὶ ῎Απολλον,
τοῖος ἐών, οἷός ἐσσι, τά τε φρονέων ἅ τ’ ἐγώ περ,
παῖδά τ’ ἐμὴν ἐχέμεν καὶ ἐμὸς γαμβρὸς καλέεσθαι,
αὖθι μένων· οἶκον δέ κ’ ἐγὼ καὶ κτήματα δοίην,
εἴ κ’ ἐθέλων γε μένοις· ἀέκοντα δέ σ’ οὔ τις ἐρύξει
Φαιήκων· μὴ τοῦτο φίλον Διὶ πατρὶ γένοιτο.

Scholia ad. Od. 7.311

“If Zeus father…” The prayer, they claim, is strange. For, who would pray to make someone part of their life and a son-in-law when he had no experience of him, unless he really knew him? It was in part an ancient custom to select out the best of the guests and grant them their daughters on account of their virtue. This is what happened with Bellerophon, Tydeus, and Polyneikos. For many don’t stand part in respect to wealth, but thanks to an excellence implied by their appearance.”

αἲ γὰρ, Ζεῦ τε πάτερ] ἄτοπος, φασὶν, ἡ εὐχή· μὴ γὰρ ἐπιστάμενος ὅστις ἐστὶ μηδὲ πειραθεὶς εὔχεται σύμβιον αὐτὸν λαβεῖν καὶ γαμβρὸν ποιήσασθαι. ἦν μὲν παλαιὸν ἔθος τὸ προκρίνειν τοὺς ἀρί-στους τῶν ξένων καὶ δι’ ἀρετὴν ἐκδιδόναι τὰς θυγατέρας, ὡς καὶ ἐπὶ Βελλεροφόντου, Τυδέως, Πολυνείκους. οὐ γὰρ εἰς τὸν πλοῦτον ἀφεώρων οἱ πολλοὶ, ἀλλ’ εἰς τὴν ἀρετὴν τὴν ἀπὸ τῆς ὄψεως·

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What a son-in-law!

Atopia: Strangeness in the Scholia to the Iliad

Atopia: “Strangeness,” from a-topos, “out of place”

*ἄτοπα· πονηρά, αἰσχρά: “wretched, shameful”
*ἀτοπία· αἰσχρότης. πονηρία: “shamefulness, wretchedness”

Etymologicum Genuinum
“Atopon: atopon is used in place of something that is amazing or illogical”
῎Ατοπον· τὸ ἄτοπον ἀντὶ τοῦ θαυμαστοῦ ἢ ἀλόγου τάττεται

E.g. Pherekratês fr. 91

“It is strange for [her] to be [his] mother and wife”

„ὡς ἄτοπόν ἐστι μητέρ’ εἶναι καὶ γυνήν”.

In the scholia vetera (the “old scholia”) to the Iliad, commentators declare something in the poem strange or specifically “not strange” over 100 times. below are some of my favorites.


Schol. T ad. Il. 6.168

“It would be strange for those who had discovered every kind of art to be illiterate.”
ἄτοπον γὰρ τοὺς πᾶσαν τέχνην εὑρόντας οὐκ εἰδέναι γράμματα

Schol. T. ad 6.222-223

“These two lines are strange, for “I do not remember Tydeus” nevertheless means “I remember the deed.”

ἄτοποι οἱ δύο στίχοι. | τὸ δὲ Τυδέα δ’ οὐ μέμνημαι (222) ὡς „μέμνημαι τόδε ἔργον” (Ι 527). T

Schol. aBT. ad 7.466

“Ox-slaughtering”: “cow-slaughtering is not sacrificing to the gods—for it would be strange to call a sacrifice a murder—but it is to slaughter oxen in preparation for dinner.”

ex. βουφόνεον: βουφονεῖν ἐστιν οὐ τὸ θύειν θεοῖς (ἄτοπον γὰρ ἐπὶ θυσίας φόνον λέγειν), ἀλλὰ τὸ φονεύειν βοῦς εἰς δείπνου κατασκευήν. A b (BCE3E4)T

Schol. T. ad 11.407–410 ex

“It would be strange to burn the ships of the men who were present.”

ἄτοπον γὰρ ἦν παρόντων καίεσθαι τὰς ναῦς. b(BCE3E4)

Schol. T. Il. 12.295-7 ex.

“For it is strange for gold to be outside.”

(296)· ἄτοπον γὰρ τὸν χρυσὸν ἔσωθεν εἶναι. T

Schol. bT ad Il. 15.95

“For among men many things are strange due to drinking”

παρὰ γὰρ ἀνθρώποις πολλὰ διὰ μέθην ἄτοπα γίνεται. b(BCE3E4)T

Schol. T ad. Il. 16.7 ex

“It is strange that [Achilles]  was weeping over a girl, but now he is calling Patroklos a little girl because he is crying over these terrible things.”

ἄτοπός ἐστιν αὐτὸς μὲν ἕνεκα παλλακίδος κλάων (cf. Α 348—57), τὸν δὲ Πάτροκλον κόρην καλῶν ἐπὶ τοιούτοις δεινοῖς δακρύοντα.

Schol. bT ad Il. 18.207b

“For [Aristarchus] claims it is strange to compare fire to smoke.”

καὶ γὰρ ἄτοπόν φησι πῦρ εἰκάζεσθαι καπνῷ.

Schol. T. ad Il. 20.40c

“He wrote “daughter of Zeus” instead of smile-loving [philomeidês]. For it would be strange to call a warring goddess smile-loving.”

φιλομειδής: γράφεται „Διὸς θυγάτηρ”· ἄτοπον γὰρ τὸ φιλομειδής ἐπὶ τῆς πολεμούσης. T

Schol. bT ad Il. 22.168

“For it is strange to mention Hektor but not Achilles.”

ἄτοπον γὰρ μεμνῆσθαι μὲν ῞Εκτορος, μή γε μὴν ᾿Αχιλλέως. b(BCE3)T

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