…Simon Knows Me: A Proverb for Our Times

From Michael Apostolios, Paroemiographer

“I know Simôn and Simôn knows me.” There were two leaders, Nikôn and Simôn. Simone overpowered him because he was a man of the worst ways and it is said that he erased all memory of Nikôn. This proverb is used for people who recognize the evil in one another.”

Οἶδα Σίμωνα καὶ Σίμων ἐμέ: δύο ἐγένοντο ἡγεμόνες, Νίκων καὶ Σίμων. ὑπερίσχυσε δὲ ὁ Σίμων κακοτροπώτατος ὢν, ὥστε καὶ τὴν ἐπὶ Νίκωνα φήμην ἀπαλεῖψαι. λεχθείη δ’ ἂν ἡ παροιμία ἐπὶ τῶν ἀλλήλους ἐπὶ κακίᾳ γινωσκόντων.

From the Suda,  tau 293

“Telkhines: evil gods. Or jealous and harmful humans. There were two Telkhines, Simôn and Nikôn. Nikôn overpowered to erase the memory of Simôn. So, there is the proverb, “I know Simon and Simon knows me. This is used for those who recognize evil in one another.”

Τελχῖνες: πονηροὶ δαίμονες. ἢ ἄνθρωποι φθονεροὶ καὶ βάσκανοι. δύο ἐγένοντο Τελχῖνες, Σίμων καὶ Νίκων. ὑπερίσχυσε δὲ ὁ Νίκων τὴν ἐπὶ Σίμωνι φήμην ἀπαλεῖψαι. καὶ παροιμία· οἶδα Σίμωνα καὶ Σίμων ἐμέ. ἐπὶ τῶν ἀλλήλους ἐπὶ κακίᾳ γινωσκόντων.

Zenobius explains it all

“I know Simôn and Simôn knows me”: There were two leaders who were evil Telkhinians by birth—for they were making the land infertile by spraying it with water from the Styx. They were Simôn and Nikôn. Simon overpowered because he was the most evil in his ways with the result that he erased any memory of Nikôn. For this reason in the proverb they only name Simôn. The proverb is applied to those who recognize the evil in one another.”

Οἶδα Σίμωνα καὶ Σίμων ἐμέ: Τελχίνων φύσει βασκάνων ὄντων, (καὶ γὰρ τῷ τῆς Στυγὸς ὕδατι τὴν  γῆν καταῤῥαίνοντες ἄγονον ἐποίουν,) δύο ἐγένοντο ἡγεμόνες, Σίμων καὶ Νίκων. ῾Υπερίσχυε δὲ ὁ Σίμων κακοτροπώτατος ὢν, ὥστε τὴν ἐπὶ Νίκωνι φήμην ἀπαλεῖψαι. Διόπερ οἱ παροιμιαζόμενοι μόνον τὸν Σίμωνα ὀνομάζουσι. Λεχθείη δ’ ἂν ἡ παροιμία ἐπὶ τῶν ἀλλήλους ἐπὶ κακίᾳ γινωσκόντων.

Sigma 447 [A completely different Simon]

“Simôn, Simonos: a proper name and also a proverb: “No one is more thieving that Simôn.” And Aristophanes adds that whenever [people] see Simôn, they immediately turn into wolves. He was a Sophist who took public property for his own. Simôn and Theoros and Kleonymos are perjurers. Aristophanes has, “if a thunderbolt hits perjurers, how did it not burn Simôn, or Kleônumos or Theôros?”

Σίμων, Σίμωνος: ὄνομα κύριον. καὶ παροιμία· Σίμωνος ἁρπακτικώτερος. ᾿Αριστοφάνης· ὅταν ἴδωσι Σίμωνα, λύκοι ἐξαίφνης γίνονται. σοφιστὴς δὲ ἦν, ὃς τῶν δημοσίων ἐνοσφίζετο. Σίμων καὶ Θέωρος καὶ Κλεώνυμος, οὗτοι ἐπίορκοι. ᾿Αριστοφάνης· εἴπερ βάλλει τοὺς ἐπιόρκους ὁ κεραυνός, πῶς δῆτ’ οὐχὶ Σίμων’ ἐνέπρησεν οὐδὲ Κλεώνυμον οὐδὲ Θέωρον; καί τοι σφόδρα γ’ εἰσὶν ἐπίορκοι.

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This was too easy…

A Person’s God

From the Suda:

“A person is a person’s god.” This proverb is for when people are unexpectedly saved by human being and become famous because of this. There are also the proverbs “A person [like] Euripos”; “Chance [like] Euripos”, “An opinion [like the] Euripos”—these proverbs are for people who change easily and are not stable.”

Ἄνθρωπος ἀνθρώπου δαιμόνιον: παροιμία ἐπὶ τῶν ἀπροσδοκήτως ὑπὸ ἀνθρώπου σῳζομένων καὶ δι’ αὐτῶν εὐδοκιμούντων. καὶ Ἄνθρωπος Εὔριπος, Τύχη Εὔριπος, Διάνοια Εὔριπος. ἐπὶ τῶν ῥᾷστα μεταβαλλομένων καὶ ἀσταθμήτων ἀνθρώπων.

Explained elsewhere:

“Euripos: A sea strait, or a water body between two [bodies] of land. This one is between Boiôtia and Attica. The water there changes direction seven times a day.”

Εὔριπος: πέλαγος στενόν, ἢ τόπος ὑδατώδης μεταξὺ δύο γαιῶν. τουτέστι Βοιωτίας καὶ ᾿Αττικῆς. ἑπτάκις δὲ τῆς ἡμέρας τὸ ἐκεῖσε ὕδωρ τρέπεται.

Thunderous-Mouth-Milling and Petty-Bragging: Some Words for a Thursday

The Suda has the following anecdote which seems to be taken and altered from Diogenes Laertius or something similar.

“thunderous-mouth-milling”: Eubulides says this “the eristic, asking his horn questions and discombobulating the orators with his falsely-intellectual arguments, taking with him the “thunderous-mouth-milling” of Demosthenes.

Ῥομβοστωμυλήθρα: Εὐβουλίδης φησίν: οὑριστικὸς κερατίνας ἐρωτῶν καὶ ψευδαλαζόσιν λόγοις τοὺς ῥήτορας κυλίων ἀπῆλθ’, ἔχων Δημοσθένους τὴν ῥομβοστωμυλήθραν.

ῥομβοστωμυλήθρη (lit. “thunderous-mouth-milling” (?) seems to be a misunderstanding or humorous take on ῥωποπερπερήθρη, usually translated as “braggadocio” but is more like “cheap/petty bragging”
From Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Eminent Philosophers 2.10

“The eristic Euboulides, asking questions about horns
And discombobulating the speakers with his falsely-intellectual arguments
Has gone off, taking the petty self regard of Demosthenes with him

For it seems that Demosthenes was a student of Eubulides and was able to stop his problems with the letter ‘r’ because of it. Eubulides was also in conflict with Aristotle and undermined him a lot.

οὑριστικὸς δ᾿ Εὐβουλίδης κερατίνας ἐρωτῶν
καὶ ψευδαλαζόσιν λόγοις τοὺς ῥήτορας κυλίων
ἀπῆλθ᾿ ἔχων Δημοσθένους τὴν ῥωποπερπερήθραν.

ἐῴκει γὰρ αὐτοῦ καὶ Δημοσθένης ἀκηκοέναι καὶ ῥωβικώτερος ὢν παύσασθαι. ὁ δ᾿ Εὐβουλίδης καὶ πρὸς Ἀριστοτέλην διεφέρετο, καὶ πολλὰ αὐτὸν διαβέβληκε.

Eubulides is now known for some interesting paradoxes.

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Demosthenes, no longer thunderous-mouth-milling.

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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Lol-lianos: He’s In It For the Words.

Suda, lambda 670

Lollianos: From Ephesus. A sophist. A student of Isaios the Assyrian. He was born during the time of the emperor Hadrian. He wrote many things.

Λολλιανός, ᾿Εφέσιος, σοφιστής, μαθητὴς ᾿Ισαίου τοῦ ᾿Ασσυρίουγεγονὼς ἐπὶ ᾿Αδριανοῦ τοῦ Καίσαρος. ἔγραψε πολλά.

Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists, 526

“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.”

κγ′. Λολλιανὸς δὲ ὁ ᾿Εφέσιος προὔστη μὲν τοῦ ᾿Αθήνησι θρόνου πρῶτος, προὔστη δὲ καὶ τοῦ ᾿Αθηναίων δήμου στρατηγήσας αὐτοῖς τὴν ἐπὶ τῶν ὅπλων, ἡ δὲ ἀρχὴ αὕτη πάλαι μὲν κατέλεγέ τε καὶ ἐξῆγεν ἐς τὰ πολέμια, νυνὶ δὲ τροφῶν ἐπιμελεῖται καὶ σίτου ἀγορᾶς. θορύβου δὲ καθεστηκότος παρὰ τὰ ἀρτοπώλια καὶ τῶν ᾿Αθηναίων βάλλειν αὐτὸν ὡρμηκότων Παγκράτης ὁ κύων ὁ μετὰ ταῦτα ἐν ᾿Ισθμῷ φιλοσοφήσας παρελθὼν ἐς τοὺς ᾿Αθηναίους καὶ εἰπὼν „Λολλιανὸς οὐκ ἔστιν ἀρτοπώλης, ἀλλὰ λογοπώλης” διέχεεν οὕτω τοὺς ᾿Αθηναίους, ὡς μεθεῖναι τοὺς λίθους διὰ χειρὸς αὐτοῖς ὄντας. σίτου δὲ ἐκ Θετταλίας ἐσπεπλευκότος καὶ χρημάτων δημοσίᾳ οὐκ ὄντων ἐπέτρεψεν ὁ Λολλιανὸς ἔρανον τοῖς αὐτοῦ γνωρίμοις, καὶ χρήματα συχνὰ ἠθροίσθη. καὶ τοῦτο μὲν ἀνδρὸς εὐμηχάνου δόξει καὶ σοφοῦ τὰ πολιτικά, ἐκεῖνο δὲ δικαίου τε καὶ εὐγνώμονος· τὰ γὰρ χρήματα ταῦτα τοῖς ξυμβαλομένοις ἀπέδωκεν ἐπανεὶς τὸν μισθὸν τῆς ἀκροάσεως.

Lovely Lollianos? Also known as Publius Hordeonius Lollianus, a rhetorician during the time of Hadrian.

 

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Helen’s Serving Girl Wrote the First Greek Sex Manual

 

I received the first passage this morning as a gift from one of my students. I am so very proud.

From the Suda

Astuanassa: A handmaid of Helen, Menelaos’ wife. She first discovered positions for intercourse and wrote On Sexual Positions. Philainis and Elephantinê rivaled her in this later—they were women who danced out these sorts of wanton acts.

Ἀστυάνασσα, Ἑλένης τῆς Μενελάου θεράπαινα: ἥτις πρώτη τὰς ἐν τῇ συνουσίᾳ κατακλίσεις εὗρε καὶ ἔγραψε περὶ σχημάτων συνουσιαστικῶν: ἣν ὕστερον παρεζήλωσαν Φιλαινὶς καὶ Ἐλεφαντίνη, αἱ τὰ τοιαῦτα ἐξορχησάμεναι ἀσελγήματα.

Photius Bibl. 190.149a 27-30

We have learned about this embroidered girdle, that Hera took it from Aphrodite and gave it to Helen. Her handmaid Astuanassa stole it but Aphrodite took it back from her again.

Περὶ τοῦ κεστοῦ ἱμάντος ὡς λάβοιμὲν αὐτὸν ῞Ηρα παρὰ ᾿Αφροδίτης, δοίη δ’ ῾Ελένῃ, κλέψοι δ’ αὐτὸν ἡ ῾Ελένης θεράπαινα ᾿Αστυάνασσα, ἀφέλοι δ’ αὐτὸν ἐξ αὐτῆς πάλιν ᾿Αφροδίτη.

Hesychius, sv. Astuanassa

Astuanassa: A handmaiden of Helen and the first to discover Aphrodite and her licentious positions.

᾿Αστυάνασσα· ῾Ελένης θεράπαινα ἥτις πρώτη ἐξεῦρεν ᾿Αφροδίτην καὶ ἀκόλαστα σχήματα

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As is largely unsurprising from the perspective of Greek misogyny, excessive interest in sexual behavior is projected a female quality. Expertise beyond interest is made the province of female ‘professionals’ (slaves) who may act as scapegoats and marginal figures for the corruption of both men and women. There is a combination of such interest with an excessive emphasis on eating (and eating really well) in Athenaeus where the pleasures of the body are combined.

Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 8.335c

“Dear men, even though I have great admiration for Chrysippus as the leader of the Stoa, I praise him even more because he ranks Arkhestratos, well-known for his Science of Cooking along with Philainis who is credited with a licentious screed about sexual matters—even though the iambic poet of Samos, Aiskhriôn, claims that Polycrates the sophist started this slander of her when she was really quite chaste. The lines go like this:

“I, Philainis, circulated among men
Lie here thanks to great old age.
Don’t laugh, foolish sailor, as your trace the cape
Nor make me a target of mockery or insult
For, by Zeus and his sons in Hell
I was never a slut with men nor a public whore.
Polykrates, Athenian by birth,
A bit clever with words and with a nasty tongue,
Wrote what he wrote. I don’t know anything about it.”

But the most amazing Chrysippus combines in the fifth book of his On Goodness and Pleasure that both “the books of Philianis and the Gastronomiai of Arkhestratos and forces of erotic and sexual nature, and in the same way slave-girls who are expert at these kinds of movements and positions and who are engaged in their practice.” He adds that they learn this type of material completely and then thoroughly possess what has been written on these topics by Philainis and Arkhestratos and those who have written on similar topics. Similarly, in his seventh book, he says ‘As you cannot wholly learn the works of Philianis and Arkhestratos’ Gastronomia because they do have something to offer for living better.’ “

Χρύσιππον δ᾿, ἄνδρες φίλοι, τὸν τῆς στοᾶς ἡγεμόνα κατὰ πολλὰ θαυμάζων ἔτι μᾶλλον ἐπαινῶ τὸν πολυθρύλητον ἐπὶ τῇ Ὀψολογίᾳ Ἀρχέστρατον αἰεί ποτε μετὰ Φιλαινίδος κατατάττοντα, εἰς ἣν ἀναφέρεται τὸ περὶ ἀφροδισίων ἀκόλαστον cσύγγραμμα, ὅπερ φησὶ | ποιῆσαι Αἰσχρίων ὁ Σάμιος ἰαμβοποιὸς Πολυκράτη τὸν σοφιστὴν ἐπὶ διαβολῇ τῆς ἀνθρώπου σωφρονεστάτης γενομένης. ἔχει δὲ οὕτως τὰ ἰαμβεῖα·

ἐγὼ Φιλαινὶς ἡ ᾿πίβωτος ἀνθρώποις
ἐνταῦθα γήρᾳ τῷ μακρῷ κεκοίμημαι.
μή μ᾿, ὦ μάταιε ναῦτα, τὴν ἄκραν κάμπτων
χλεύην τε ποιεῦ καὶ γέλωτα καὶ λάσθην.
ὐ γὰρ μὰ τὸν Ζῆν᾿, οὐ μὰ τοὺς κάτω κούρους, |
dοὐκ ἦν ἐς ἄνδρας μάχλος οὐδὲ δημώδης.
Πολυκράτης δὲ τὴν γενὴν Ἀθηναῖος,
λόγων τι παιπάλημα καὶ κακὴ γλῶσσα,
ἔγραψεν οἷ᾿ ἔγραψ᾿· ἐγὼ γὰρ οὐκ οἶδα.

ἀλλ᾿ οὖν ὅ γε θαυμασιώτατος Χρύσιππος ἐν τῷ πέμπτῳ Περὶ τοῦ Καλοῦ καὶ τῆς Ἡδονῆς φησι· καὶ βιβλία τά τε Φιλαινίδος καὶ τὴν τοῦ Ἀρχεστράτου Γαστρονομίαν καὶ δυνάμεις ἐρωτικὰς καὶ συνουσιαστικάς, ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ τὰς θεραπαίνας ἐμπείρους τοιῶνδε κινήσεών τε καὶ σχημάτων καὶ περὶ τὴν eτούτων μελέτην γινομένας. καὶ πάλιν· ἐκμανθάνειν | τ᾿ αὐτοὺς τὰ τοιαῦτα καὶ κτᾶσθαι τὰ περὶ τούτων γεγραμμένα Φιλαινίδι καὶ Ἀρχεστράτῳ καὶ τοῖς τὰ ὅμοια γράψασιν. κἀν τῷ ἑβδόμῳ δέ φησι· καθάπερ γὰρ οὐκ ἐκμανθάνειν τὰ Φιλαινίδος καὶ τὴν Ἀρχεστράτου Γαστρονομίαν ἔστιν ὡς φέροντά τι πρὸς τὸ ζῆν ἄμεινον.

Words, Friends, and the Future: Solace and Distraction for the Pain

Of late, the number of events that send us reeling and looking for comfort, solace, and, too often, just distraction seem to be increasing and intensifying. I will leave it for future generations to debate whether or not this is objectively true-the feeling of being under siege is enough to require some type of response.

I was in my first semester of graduate school in lower Manhattan on September 11th, 2001. I am uncomfortable claiming any sort of trauma as my own since many others lost loved ones and many more saw their worlds overturned. Nevertheless, the first weeks after were surreal. I can say without a doubt that when I decided to stop reading for my classes and just read-the Iliad from opening to close in GreekI found some solace and comfort in a ragged world.

I still turn to Classical texts for context and understanding. The comfort they bring, however, is not a warm one. A twitter friend today asked for some classical topoi on solace in a time of suffering and I am embarrassed at the poverty of my offerings when I can rattle off words for excrement and flatulence with no effort. Here are some meager words for a mean world. I will happily post better ones when they are offered.

From the Suda

“Pharmakon [medicine]: conversation, consoling, it comes from pherein [bringing] akos [relief/cure]. But it is also said to come from flowers.”

Φάρμακον: παραμυθία, ὁμιλία, εἴρηται δὲ ἀπὸ τοῦ φέρειν τὴν ἄκεσιν: εἴρηται δὲ ἀπὸ τῶν ἀνθέων

 

Euripides, Helen 698-699

“if you find good luck in the time that is left
Perhaps it will be solace for the things in the past”

εἰ καὶ τὰ λοιπὰ τῆς τύχης εὐδαίμονος
τύχοιτε, πρὸς τὰ πρόσθεν ἀρκέσειεν ἄν.

Basil, Letter 131

“Since we both need consolation, may we be solace to one another.”

ἐπεὶ οὖν ἀμφότεροι χρῄζομεν παρακλήσεως, ἀλλήλοις γενώμεθα παραμυθία

Letter 302

“Since he has left you a memory of his particular virtue, believe that this is a sufficient solace for your pain.”

Ἐπεὶ οὖν κατέλιπέ σοι τὴν μνήμην τῆς οἰκείας αὐτοῦ4ἀρετῆς, ἀρκοῦσαν νόμιζε ἔχειν παραμυθίαν τοῦ πάθους.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 9

“If you want a private passage at hand to soothe your heart, the knowledge of the world around you will give you some solace at death, the world you leave and the kind of people your soul will no longer be associated with…..”

Εἰ δὲ καὶ ἰδιωτικὸν παράπηγμα ἁψικάρδιον ἐθέλεις, μάλιστά σε εὔκολον πρὸς τὸν θάνατον ποιήσει ἡ ἐπίστασις ἡ ἐπὶ τὰ ὑποκείμενα, ὧν μέλλεις ἀφίστασθαι, καὶ μεθ᾿ οἵων ἠθῶν οὐκέτι ἔσται ἡ <σὴ ψυχὴ> συμπεφυρμένη…

Thucydides, book 5

“Hope is indeed a comfort in danger: it may harm people who use it from abundance it does not destroy them. But for those who risk everything on one chance—since hope is expensive by nature—they will only know her nature when they suffer…”

Ἐλπὶς δέ, κινδύνῳ παραμύθιον οὖσα, τοὺς μὲν ἀπὸ περιουσίας χρωμένους αὐτῇ, κἂν βλάψῃ, οὐ καθεῖλε, τοῖς δὲ ἐς ἅπαν τὸ ὑπάρχον ἀναρριπτοῦσι (δάπανος γὰρ φύσει) ἅμα τε γιγνώσκεται σφαλέντων…

Plutarch, Dion, 53

“…for whom daily feasts and distractions provide are a consolation for their labors and risks.”

οἷς αἱ καθ᾿ ἑκάστην ἡμέραν πλησμοναὶ καὶ ἀπολαύσεις παραμυθία τῶν πόνων καὶ τῶν κινδύνων εἰσίν

This last bit reminds me of Thetis’ words to Achilles (24.128-132)

“My child, how long will you consume your heart
Grieving and mourning, thinking little of food
Or of sleep? It is good too to join a woman in love—
For you will not live with me long, but already
Death and strong fate loom around you.”

τέκνον ἐμὸν τέο μέχρις ὀδυρόμενος καὶ ἀχεύων
σὴν ἔδεαι κραδίην μεμνημένος οὔτέ τι σίτου
οὔτ’ εὐνῆς; ἀγαθὸν δὲ γυναικί περ ἐν φιλότητι
μίσγεσθ’· οὐ γάρ μοι δηρὸν βέῃ, ἀλλά τοι ἤδη
ἄγχι παρέστηκεν θάνατος καὶ μοῖρα κραταιή.

Whether we accomplish a little or a lot–as Achilles complains in book 9–we still will die. The modern horror of mass killings is especially disorienting and terrifying because it seems to strip us of agency over what happens between birth and death. And though it may be hard to remember it, the words Athenaeus attributes to the epitaph of Ashurbanipal are still not untrue:

“Know well that you are mortal: fill your heart
By delighting in the feasts: nothing is useful to you when you’re dead.
I am ash, though I ruled great Ninevah as king.
I keep whatever I ate, the insults I made, and the joy
I took from sex. My wealth and many blessings are gone.
[This is wise advice for life: I will never forget it.
Let anyone who wants to accumulate limitless gold.]

εὖ εἰδὼς ὅτι θνητὸς ἔφυς σὸν θυμὸν ἄεξε,
τερπόμενος θαλίῃσι· θανόντι σοι οὔτις ὄνησις.
καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ σποδός εἰμι, Νίνου μεγάλης βασιλεύσας·
κεῖν’ ἔχω ὅσσ’ ἔφαγον καὶ ἐφύβρισα καὶ σὺν ἔρωτι
τέρπν’ ἔπαθον· τὰ δὲ πολλὰ καὶ ὄλβια πάντα λέλυνται.
[ἥδε σοφὴ βιότοιο παραίνεσις, οὐδέ ποτ’ αὐτῆς
λήσομαι· ἐκτήσθω δ’ ὁ θέλων τὸν ἀπείρονα χρυσόν.]

Image result for Greek mourning vase

Terracotta Funeral Plague, Metropolitan Museum of Art

From an Earlier post:

Some Proverbs from Arsenius, Paroemiographer

“Only words [reason] is medicine for grief”

Λόγος μέν ἐστι φάρμακον λύπης μόνος.

“Conversation [ or ‘reason’] is the doctor for suffering in the soul”

Λόγος ἰατρὸς τοῦ κατὰ ψυχὴν πάθους.

Euripides, fr. 1079

“Mortals have no other medicine for pain
Like the advice of a good man, a friend
Who has experience with this sickness.
A man who troubles then calms his thoughts with drinking,
Finds immediate pleasure, but laments twice as much later on.”

Οὐκ ἔστι λύπης ἄλλο φάρμακον βροτοῖς
ὡς ἀνδρὸς ἐσθλοῦ καὶ φίλου παραίνεσις.
ὅστις δὲ ταύτῃ τῇ νόσῳ ξυνὼν ἀνὴρ
μέθῃ ταράσσει καὶ γαληνίζει φρένα,
παραυτίχ’ ἡσθεὶς ὕστερον στένει διπλᾶ.

Menander (fr. 591 K.).

“The man who is sick in the body needs a doctor;
someone who is sick in the mind needs a friend
For a well-meaning friend knows how to treat grief.”

Τῷ μὲν τὸ σῶμα † διατεθειμένῳ κακῶς
χρεία ‘στ’ ἰατροῦ, τῷ δὲ τὴν ψυχὴν φίλου·
λύπην γὰρ εὔνους οἶδε θεραπεύειν φίλος.

Attributed to Socrates (in Stobaeus)

“The sick need doctors; the unlucky need encouragement from friends.”

Τοῖς μὲν νοσοῦσιν ἰατρούς, τοῖς δ’ ἀτυχοῦσι φίλους δεῖ παραινεῖν.

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