Fish-Snacks, Burning-Stones and Deadly Fruit: Another Wondrous Wednesday

Here is the second half of the Paradoxographus Palatinus: Admiranda. This collection is extremely difficult to date and may hail from Byzantine Greece. As with some of the other paradoxographoi these are new translations, so corrections or questions are welcome.

11 “Artemidoros says that among the Liparitanoi fish are found by digging and that the people there use the dug fish unsparingly for snacking.”

᾿Αρτεμίδωρός φησιν ἐν Λιπαριτανοῖς ἰχθύας ὀρυκτοὺς εὑρίσκεσθαι, καὶ τῷ ὀρυκτῷ ἰχθύι ἀφθόνως τοὺς ἐκεῖ ὡς ἐπὶ τραγήματα χρῆσθαι.

12 “Andronikos says that in Hispania in some place pebbles are found strewn about with many angles, grown on their own—some are white and others are wax-colored; they give birth to pebbles like them.

I also used to have one of these for testing which was produced at my home which showed that the story was not a lie. He also says that there is a certain spring in Hispania which has water which is sweet and potable. If someone puts his hands in the water and holds them their for a short time he will find white salt embedded around his hands.”

᾿Ανδρόνικός φησιν ἐν ᾿Ισπανίᾳ ἔν τινι τόπῳ λιθάρια εὑρίσκεσθαι περιερριμμένα πολύγωνα αὐτοφυῆ, ἃ μὲν λευκά, ἃ δὲ κηροειδῆ, ἃ καὶ κύει ὅμοια ἑαυτοῖς λιθάρια· τούτων δὴ καὶ ἐγὼ ἒν πείρας ἕνεκα ἔσχον, ὃ δὴ ἔτεκε παρ’ ἐμοί, ὥστε τὸ ῥῆμα μὴ εἶναι ψεῦδος. εἶναι δὲ καὶ πηγήν τινα ἐν ῾Ισπανίᾳ, ἣν γλυκὺ ἔχειν ὕδωρ καὶ πότιμον· εἰ δέ τις ἐμβάλοι εἰς τὸ ὕδωρ τὰς χεῖρας καὶ μικρὸν χρόνον ἐάσειε, ἅλας εὑρίσκειν λευκὸν περιπεπηγὸς ταῖς χερσί.

13 “Timaios says that the Krathis river in Italy lightens the hair of those who bathe in it.”

Τίμαιός φησι τὸν κατὰ τὴν ᾿Ιταλίαν ποταμὸν τὸν Κρᾶθιν τῶν ἐν αὐτῷ λουομένων ξανθίζειν τὰς τρίχας.

14 “In Selasphoros an herb is found which when people use it in the spring there they rid themselves of yellow bile, but in the spring black bile, and phlegm if they use it in the winter. It leads out the portion of those which is unmixed of every other. [?]”

᾿Εν Σελασφόρῳ βοτάνη εὑρίσκεται, ᾗ χρώμενοι οἱ ἐκεῖ ἔαρος μὲν κένωσιν ξανθῆς χολῆς ποιοῦνται, φθινοπώρου δὲ μελαίνης χολῆς, ἐν δὲ χειμῶνι φλέγματος· ἐξάγει δὲ τὸ καθὲν τούτων ἀμιγὲς παντὸς ἑτέρου.

15 “Kallimachus says that in Thrace there are two rivers named Keron and Neleus. He adds that flocks who are there for grazing turn white from the Neleus, but those who take from both waters become multi-colored.”

Καλλίμαχός φησιν ἐν Θρᾴκῃ δύο ποταμοὺς εἶναι Κέρωνα καὶ Νηλέα ὀνομαζομένους· τῶν δὲ προβάτων περὶ τὸ συλλαμβάνειν ὄντων τὰ μὲν ἀπὸ τοῦ Νηλέως λευκούς, τὰ δὲ ἀπ’ ἀμφοτέρων τῶν ὑδάτων ποικίλους.

16 “Polykleitos says that there is a river Liparis among the Soloi which oils up those who bathe in it so that they don’t need anointing.”

Πολύκλειτός φησιν ἐν Σόλοις ποταμὸν Λίπαριν εἶναι, ὃν δὴ λιπαίνειν τοὺς λουομένους, ὥστε χρίσματος μὴ δεῖσθαι.

17 “The same author claims that the river Mouabis in Pamphylia turns a bush that dips into it to stone.”

῾Ο αὐτός φησι τὸν ἐν Παμφυλίᾳ ποταμὸν Μούαβιν ἀπολιθοῦν τὴν ἐμβληθεῖσαν στοιβήν.

18 “Athenaios says that there is a tree among the Persians which bears some kind of deadly fruit, which the Persians, when Kambyses led his army against Egypt, took to Egypt and planted in many places so that the Egyptians died when they encountered the fruit. The tree transforms the earth to endure the fruit unharmed and they call it Persaia because it was planted by the Persians”

᾿Αθήναιός φησιν ἐν Πέρσαις εἶναι δένδρον τι θανάσιμον τὸν καρπὸν φέρον, ὃ τοὺς πέρσας, ὅτε Καμβύσης ἐπ’ Αἴγυπτον ἐστράτευσε, κομίσαι εἰς Αἴγυπτον καὶ ἐν πολλοῖς φυτεῦσαι τόποις, ὅπως οἱ Αἰγύπτιοι τὸν καρπὸν προσφερόμενοι διαφθαρῶσι· τὸ δὲ δένδρον μεταβαλὸν τὴν γῆν ἀπαθῆ τὸν καρπὸν ἐξενεγκεῖν, καὶ περσαίαν τ’ ὀνομάζεσθαι διὰ τὸ ὑπὸ Περσῶν φυτευθῆναι.

19 “Theopompos says that in the land of the Agrioi of Thrace there is a river called Pontos which carries burning stones. When these are lit they do not burn as they are turned under the rapids but when they appear from under the water they reignite. Nothing that moves can endure the smell of these stones.”

Θεόπομπός φησιν ἐν τῇ τῶν ᾿Αγριέων Θρᾳκῶν χώρᾳ ποταμὸν εἶναι ὀνομαζόμενον Πόντον, ὃν καταφέρειν λίθους ἀνθρακώδεις· τούτους δὲ ἀναφθέντας ὑπὸ μὲν τῶν ῥιπιδίων ῥιπιζομένους <οὐ> καίεσθαι, ὑπὸ δὲ ὕδατος ῥαινομένους ἀνα-λάμπειν. οὐδὲν δὲ ἑρπετὸν τὴν ὀσμὴν αὐτῶν ὑπομένειν.

20 “Antigonos says [of sheep intestines] that those of rams are voiceless, but those from females can sing. This fact has not escaped the poet, for he says “He stretching the seven strings from female sheep.”

Επὶ τῶν <ἐντέρων τῶν> προβάτων φησὶν ᾿Αντίγονος τὰ μὲν τῶν κριῶν ἄφωνα εἶναι, τὰ δὲ τῶν θηλέων ἔμφωνα· οὐ λεληθέναι δὲ τοῦτο τὸν ποιητήν. φησὶ γάρ·
ἑπτὰ δὲ θηλυτέρων οἴων ἐτανύσσατο χορδάς.

This last line is a variant for the Homeric Hymn to Hermes 51

“He stretched out seven symphonious sheep-gut strings”
ἑπτὰ δὲ συμφώνους ὀΐων ἐτανύσσατο χορδάς.

21 “Katôn says that Ktisis, there are white birds in the Alpeioi, mice 12-liters in size, boars with single-lips, hairy dogs, and hornless bulls.”

Κάτων φησίν, ἐν ταῖς Κτίσεσιν, ἐπὶ τῶν ῎Αλπεων λευκοὺς μὲν λαγωοὺς γίνεσθαι, μῦς δ’ ἐνδεκαλίτρους, ὗς δὲ μονοχήλους καὶ κύνας δασεῖς καὶ βόας ἀκεράτους.

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Koninklijke Bibliotheek, KB, KA 16, Folio 45v (From the Medieval Bestiary)

Fantastic Friday: Rivers of Wine and Prophetic Crows

Here is the first half of the Paradoxographus Palatinus: Admiranda. This collection is extremely difficult to date and may hail from Byzantine Greece. As with some of the other paradoxographoi these are new translations, so corrections or questions are welcome.

1 “After an eagle got sick he ate a tortoise and was healed. Then he drank the blood.”

Νοσήσας ἀετὸς χελώνην ἐσθίει καὶ ἰᾶται· αἷμα δὲ πίνει.

2 “Owls, because they wish to keep ants from their young, put the heart of a bat in a temple noticed that the ants would leave the young too if someone set out the heart of a bat for them”

Αἱ γλαῦκες τῶν ἰδίων νεοττῶν τοὺς μύρμηκας κωλύειν βουλόμεναι ἐν τῇ καλιᾷ καρδίαν νυκτερίδος τιθέασιν, ὡς τῶν μυρμήκων καὶ τοὺς φωλεοὺς ἀπολιπεῖν βουλομένων εἰ νυκτερίδος καρδίαν ἐπ’ αὐτοῖς τις θείη.

3 “One animal is named jaundice because of its skin. Which, if someone predisposed to this ailment sees this he reverts straightaway to the diseas.e”

῎Ικτερος ζῷον λέγεται ἀπὸ τῆς χροιᾶς· ὃν εἰ τῷ πάθει τούτῳ τις ἐνεχόμενος ἴδοι, φευξεῖται εὐθὺς τὴν νόσον. [the translation for this one is not good]

4 “Crows don’t have sex with the females of their species before they sing some song to them just like at weddings. And the lady crows, persuaded in this way, sleep with them”

Οὐ μίγνυνται οἱ κόρακες ταῖς θηλείαις πρίν τινα ᾠδὴν αὐταῖς παρακρώξαιεν ὥσπερ γαμήλια· αἱ δὲ πεισθεῖσαι οὕτω συνουσιάζουσι.

5“There is a spring in Kleitori which if someone drinks from he will reject and hate drinking wine.”

Τῆς ἐν Κλείτορι κρήνης ἄν τις πίῃ τοῦ ὕδατος, ἀποστρέφεται καὶ μισεῖ τὴν τοῦ οἴνου πόσιν.

6 “Among the Kannini pitchers are distributed with wet pitch. In the hot season, the morning dew is like pitch.”

᾿Εν Καννίνοις πίττης ὑγρᾶς κρατῆρες ἀναδίδονται· ἐν δὲ θερείᾳ ὥρᾳ ἡ ἑωθινὴ δρόσος πίσσῃ παρείκασται.

7 “In Naxos Aglaosthenês says that wine bubbles up on its own for the earth and when it goes into rivers it does not mix with water. The person who tastes it goes crazy”

Εν Νάξῳ φησὶν ᾿Αγλαοσθένης οἶνον ἐκ τῆς γῆς ἀναβλύζειν αὐτόματον καὶ διὰ ποταμοῦ φερόμενον μὴ συμμίσγεσθαι ὕδατι. τὸν δὲ γευσάμενον αὐτοῦ παραφρονεῖν.

8 “In Pernikos rocks are found when the earth is dug up which, when the sun warms them until they are like burning coals, cook meat and anything else which is placed on top of them.”

᾿Εν †Περνίκῳ† λίθοι εὑρίσκονται ὀρυσσομένης τῆς γῆς, οὓς ἐπειδὰν διαθερμάνῃ ὁ ἥλιος ἐξανθρακοῦνται, ὥσ<τε> καὶ κρέα ἕψειν καὶ ἄλλ’ ἅττα τοὺς ἐκεῖ χύτρας ἐπιτιθέντας.

9 “In the city Selasphoros a spring flows cold and clear, it has an olive oil-like appearance, but it makes bodies and hair smooth and stops headaches. If someone touches it with burning wax, the water catches on fire from it and throws off sparks until it nears different water. And it is also free of every scent of other waters.”

᾿Εν τῇ πόλει τῇ Σελασφόρῳ πηγὴ ἀναδίδοται ψυχρὰ καὶ διειδής, ἐλαιώδη τὴν ἐπιφάνειαν ἔχουσα, λεῖα τὰ σώματα καὶ τὰς τρίχας ποιοῦσα καὶ κεφαλῆς ἀλγηδόνα παύουσα. ταύτῃ εἰ προσαγάγοι τις κηρὸν ἡμμένον, ὑφάπτεται τὸ ὕδωρ ἐκ τούτου καὶ σπινθῆρας ἀφίησι, ἄχρις ἂν πελάσῃ ἑτέρῳ ὕδατι. ἔστι δὲ τῶν ἄλλων ὑδάτων διειδέστερον τὸ ὕδωρ ἐκεῖνο
ὀδμῆς τε πάσης ἐλεύθερον.

10 “Aristotle says that in Keltikê two crows always appear which prophesy to the people there in this way. When the people are differing about some meaning they come to a preordained place and after making bread they place it on perches. The crows break up the bread of the wrong-doing person with their feet and they eat the bread of the one who acts justly.”

᾿Αριστοτέλης φησὶν ἐν τῇ Κελτικῇ δύο κόρακας ἀεὶ φαίνεσθαι, οὓς δὴ καὶ τοῖς ἀνθρώποις μαντεύεσθαι τόνδε <τὸν> τρόπον· τοὺς διαφερομένους περί τινος συμβολαίου ἔρχεσθαι ἐπὶ τὸν εἰρημένον τόπον καὶ μάζας ποιήσαντας ἐπί τινων πεταύρων τιθέναι· τοὺς δὲ κόρακας τὴν μὲν τοῦ ἀδικοπραγοῦντος μάζαν τοῖς ποσὶ συντρίβειν, τὴν δὲ τοῦ δικαιοπραγοῦντας ἐσθίειν.

Bartholomaeus Anglicus  Livre des proprietes des choses (Le)  1447  Corbeaux nourrissant ses petits

Bartholomaeus Anglicus Livre des proprietes des choses (Le) 1447 Corbeaux nourrissant ses petits

Wednesday’s Wondrous Water, 4: Islands That Swim!

This is the third (and final) installment of the Paradoxographus Florentinus’  Mirabilia de Aquis. Go here for number 3, number 2 and number 1

36 “Around Tarrakina in Italy, Isigonos says that there is a lake called Amuklaia and that there is a deserted city alongside it. The inhabitants there were deprived of the city because of the volume of the water.”

Περὶ δὲ Ταρρακίναν τῆς ᾿Ιταλίας φησὶν ᾿Ισίγονος λίμνην εἶναι ᾿Αμυκλαίαν καλουμένην καὶ παρ’ αὐτῇ πόλιν ἔρημον, ἧς τοὺς ἐνοικοῦντας στερηθῆναι τῆς πόλεως διὰ τὸ πλῆθος τῶν ὕδρων.

37 “In a lake in Italy which is called the Bakanos—and it is 500 stades in length—there is an island covered with mild plants. The Island swims and moves in the direction of the winds. This same phenomenon happens in another lake in Italy which is called Koutilia.”

᾿Επὶ τῆς ἐν ᾿Ιταλίᾳ λίμνης καλουμένης μὲν Βηνάκου, οὔσης δὲ τὸ περίμετρον σταδίων φ’, νῆσός ἐστιν οἰκουμένη κατάφυτος δένδρεσιν ἡμέροις ἐπινηχομένη καὶ μεταβαίνουσα πρὸς τὰς τῶν πνευμάτων φοράς. τὸ δ’ αὐτὸ τοῦτο καὶ ἐν ἑτέρᾳ λίμνῃ τῆς ᾿Ιταλίας Κουτιλίᾳ καλουμένῃ γίνεται.

38 “There is a lake called Ouadimônos in Italy which is not big but it similarly has many islands which are moved around by every wind.”

῎Εστι δὲ καὶ λάκκος Οὐαδίμωνος καλουμένη λίμνη οὐ μεγάλη ἐν ᾿Ιταλίᾳ, ὁμοίως ἔχουσα νησία πλείονα πάσῃ πνοῇ μετακινούμενα.

39 “Near Sardis there is a lake which is called Koloê. It produces a multitude of every kind of delicacy, but it also has islands settled deceptively. For they float around and move position with a gust of wind. This supports so great a number of aquatic birds that they sometimes starve.”

῾Η κατὰ Σάρδεις λίμνη, καλουμένη δὲ Κολόη, πλῆθος μὲν ὄψου πάμπολυ τρέφει· ἔχει δὲ καὶ αὐτὴ νήσους οἰκουμένας πρὸς ἀπάτην· ἐπινήχονται γὰρ καὶ τῇ τῶν ἀνέμων πνοῇ συμμετοικοῦσι· πτηνῶν δὲ τῶν ἐνύδρων τοσοῦτο τρέφει πλῆθος, ὥστε καὶ ταριχεύεσθαι.

40 “They say that it is the water around Sousiana which was processed for Medea’s poisonous medicines. It flows from some spring but is protected by the nearby inhabitants. The animals or equipment who are rubbed with it or moistened with it are kindled when fire comes near to them and they immediately are on fire. This is called naphtha. When it is separated from this land it loses its power, As Isigonos records.”

Τὸ δὲ κατὰ τὴν Σουσιανὴν ὕδωρ φασὶν εἶναι Μηδείας καὶ πεφαρμάχθαι καυστικοῖς φαρμάκοις, ὃ ῥεῖ μὲν ἐκ πηγῆς τινος, φυλάσσεται δὲ ὑπὸ τῶν ἐπιχωρίων. ἔχει δὲ δύναμιν τοιαύτην· τὰ γὰρ χρισθέντα ἢ βραχέντα ἐξ αὐτοῦ ζῷα ἢ σκεύη δειχθέντος μακρόθεν πυρὸς πρὸς αὑτὰ ἐπισπᾶται καὶ παραχρῆμα καίεται. καλεῖται δὲ νάφθα. ἐξενεχθέντα μέντοι τῆς χώρας ἀπόλλυσι τὴν δύναμιν, ὡς ἱστορεῖ ᾿Ισίγονος.

41 “In Italy there is a lake called Sabatos from which, whenever the water is clear, many foundations and temples and plenty of statues show through in the depth. The people who live nearby say that the city which once was there disappeared.

The same thing is said of lake Kiminos in Italy, that there was a city there and it disappeared suddenly.”

᾿Εν ᾿Ιταλίᾳ λίμνη Σάβατος καλουμένη, ἧς ὅταν τὸ ὕδωρ διαυγὲς γένηται, καταφαίνονται ἐν τῷ βυθῷ θεμέλιοι πολλοὶ καὶ ναοὶ καὶ πλῆθος ἀνδριάντων· φασὶ δὲ οἱ ἐπιχώριοι πόλιν ποτὲ οὖσαν καταποθῆναι. τὸ δ’ αὐτὸ λέγεται καὶ περὶ τοῦ Κιμίνου λάκκου ἐν ᾿Ιταλίᾳ, ὡς πόλεως πρότερον οὔσης καὶ αἰφνιδίως καταποθείσης.

42 “There is a lake in Macedonia which is called Luxnîtis and people sail across it for the purpose of investigation. For as they look down into the deep they see enormous benches and endless masses of silver work wondrous for its size and golden tablets and chalices and all the accompaniments of a feast in a wealthy palace.”

῾Η ἐν Μακεδονίᾳ λίμνη καλεῖται μὲν Λυχνῖτις, διαπλέουσι δὲ αὐτὴν ἱστορίας ἕνεκεν· ἐγκύπτοντες γὰρ εἰς τὸν βυθὸν ὁρῶσι τρικλίνους πολυτελεῖς, καὶ ἀργυρωμάτων ἄφθονον πλῆθος τῷ μεγέθει θαυμασίων, καὶ χρυσέων πινάκων τε καὶ ἐκπωμάτων, καὶ πάντων τῶν ἐν βασιλικῷ πλούτῳ πρὸς τρυφὴν  κατασκευασμάτων.

43 “In Lydia there is a lake called Tala which is sacred to nymphs and bears a multitude of reeds and one in the middle which the locals call the king. They propitiate it by making sacrifices and holding annual feasts. While they do these things, then the sound of their voices is on the shore, all the reeds dance and the king appears to dance with them toward the shore. The locals ring the king with sand and send him off, praying that in the future he is present for them as a guardian in a true sign [?] as Isigonos records in his second book of Unbelievable Things.

᾿Εν Λυδίᾳ ἔστι λίμνη †Τάλα† μὲν καλουμένη, ἱερὰ δὲ οὖσα νυμφῶν, ἣ φέρει καλάμων πλῆθος καὶ μέσον αὐτῶν  ἕνα, ὃν βασιλέα προσαγορεύουσιν οἱ ἐπιχώριοι. θυσίας δὲ καὶ ἑορτὰς ἐπιτελοῦντες ἐνιαυσίους ἐξιλάσκονται· τούτων δὲ ἐπιτελουμένων, ἐπειδὰν ἐπὶ τῆς ἠιόνος κτύπος συμφωνίας γένηται, πάντες οἱ κάλαμοι χορεύουσι καὶ ὁ βασιλεὺς σὺν αὐτοῖς χορεύων παραγίνεται ἐπὶ τὴν ἠιόνα· οἱ δὲ ἐπιχώριοι ταινίαις αὐτὸν καταστέψαντες ἀποπέμπουσιν, εὐχόμενοι καὶ εἰς τὸ ἐπιὸν αὐτόν τε καὶ ἑαυτοὺς παραγενέσθαι ὡς εὐετηρίας ὄντι σημείῳ, ὡς ἱστορεῖ ᾿Ισίγονος ἐν δευτέρῳ ἀπίστων.

 

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British Library: Royal_ms_15_d_ii_f156r

Fantastic Friday: Why Crows Are Banned from The Acropolis

We have posted about the strange story of Erikhthonios before, but this account not only contains an aetiological myth for the absence of crows but also has some strange details, like Athena trying to bring a mountain to Athens. Antigonus of Carystus allegedly compiled his collections of wonders in the 3rd Century BCE.

Antigonus Paradoxographus, Historiae Mirabiles 12

 “Amelêsagoras the Athenian, author of the Atthis, claims that the crow does not fly to the Akropolis and that no one can say he has seen it happen. He provides the cause of this as a myth.

For he says that when Athena was given to Hephaestos that she disappeared right after she laid down with him and Hephaistos ejaculated his seed on the ground. The earth later produced for Hephaestos Erikhthonios whom Athena cared for but then closed in a basket and handed over to the daughters of Kekrops, Agraulos, Pandrosos, and Hersê.  She told them not to open the basket until she returned.

When she left for Pellênê to bring back a mountain in order to make a defensive barrier before the city, two of Kekrops’ daughters—Agraulos and Pandrosos—opened the basket and saw two snakes around Erikhthonios.

[Amelêsagoras] claims that a crow went to Athena as she was carrying the mountain which is now called Lykabettos and told her that Erikhthonios was in the open. When she heard this, she threw the mountain to where it is now, said tat it would no longer right for the crow to go to the Akropolis because of his evil message.”

᾿Αμελησαγόρας δὲ ὁ ᾿Αθηναῖος, ὁ τὴν ᾿Ατθίδα συγγεγραφώς, οὔ φησι κορώνην προσίπτασθαι πρὸς τὴν ἀκρόπολιν, οὐδ’ ἔχοι ἂν εἰπεῖν ἑωρακὼς οὐδείς.  ἀποδίδωσιν δὲ τὴναἰτίαν μυθικῶς. φησὶν γάρ, ῾Ηφαίστῳ δοθείσης τῆς ᾿Αθηνᾶς, συγκατακλιθεῖσαν αὐτὴν ἀφανισθῆναι, τὸν δὲ ῞Ηφαιστον εἰς γῆν πεσόντα προΐεσθαι τὸ σπέρμα, τὴν δὲ γῆν ὕστερον αὐτῷ ἀναδοῦναι ᾿Εριχθόνιον, ὃν τρέφειν τὴν ᾿Αθηνᾶν καὶ εἰς κίστην καθεῖρξαι καὶ παραθέσθαι ταῖς Κέκροπος παισίν, ᾿Αγραύλῳ καὶ Πανδρόσῳ καὶ ῞Ερσῃ, καὶ ἐπιτάξαι μὴ ἀνοίγειν τὴν κίστην, ἕως ἂν αὐτὴ ἔλθῃ. ἀφικομένην δὲ εἰς Πελλήνην φέρειν ὄρος, ἵνα ἔρυμα πρὸ τῆς ἀκροπόλεως ποιήσῃ, τὰς δὲ Κέκροπος θυγατέρας τὰς δύο, ῎Αγραυλον καὶ Πάνδροσον, τὴν κίστην ἀνοῖξαι καὶ ἰδεῖν δράκοντας δύο περὶ τὸν ᾿Εριχθόνιον· τῇδὲ ᾿Αθηνᾷ φερούσῃ τὸ ὄρος, ὃ νῦν καλεῖται Λυκαβηττός, κορώνην φησὶν ἀπαντῆσαι καὶ εἰπεῖν ὅτι ᾿Εριχθόνιος ἐν φανερῷ, τὴν δὲ ἀκούσασαν ῥίψαι τὸ ὄρος ὅπου νῦν ἐστιν, τῇ δὲ κορώνῃ διὰ τὴν κακαγγελίαν εἰπεῖν ὡς εἰς ἀκρόπολιν οὐ θέμις αὐτῇ ἔσται ἀφικέσθαι.

Biting the Snake that Bites You: Pythagoras as Prophet

Apollonios Paradoxographer, Wonder 6

“Pythagoras the son of Mnêsarkhos was present among these men, and first he was toiling over learning and arithmetic and later he did not condemn the omen reading of Pherecydes.

For also in Metapontios when a ship was approaching carrying a cargo and there were people nearby praying for it to arrive safe because of its cargo, he stood and said this, “this ship will appear to you, like a corpse carrying a body”

And again in Kaulônia, as Aristotle says when he is writing about this, he says many other things, and in Turrênia, he says he bit the deadly snake who was biting him and killed him. He also foretold the strife that occurred among the Pythagoreans. For this reason he went to Metapontios and was seen by no one.

And after crossing the river near Kosa with others he heard a great voice beyond human ability: “Hello, Pythagoras.” And those present became very frightened. He also once appeared both in Kroton and Metapontios in the same day and hour.

While he was seated once in the theater, he stretched out and showed to those who were seated that his own thigh was gold. There are other impossible stories about him too. But we should stop the account about him because we don’t want to write only about him.”

6 Τούτοις δὲ ἐπιγενόμενος Πυθαγόρας, Μνησάρχου υἱός, τὸ μὲν πρῶτον διεπονεῖτο περὶ τὰ μαθήματα καὶ τοὺς ἀριθμούς, ὕστερον δέ ποτε καὶ τῆς Φερεκύδου τερατοποιίας οὐκ ἀπέστη.

 καὶ γὰρ ἐν Μεταποντίῳ πλοίου εἰσερχομένου φορτίον ἔχοντος καὶ τῶν παρατυχόντων εὐχομένων σωστὸν ἐκεῖνο κατελθεῖν διὰ τὸν φόρτον, ἑστῶτα τοῦτον εἰπεῖν «νεκρὸν τοίνυν φανήσεται ὑμῖν σῶμα ἄγον τὸ πλοῖον τοῦτο.»

πάλιν δ’ ἐν Καυλωνίᾳ, ὥς φησιν ᾿Αριστοτέλης <…..> γράφων περὶ αὐτοῦ πολλὰ μὲν καὶ ἄλλα λέγει, καὶ τὸν ἐν Τυρρηνίᾳ, φησίν, δάκνοντα θανάσιμον ὄφιν αὐτὸς δάκνων ἀπέκτεινεν. καὶ τὴν γινομένην δὲ στάσιν τοῖς Πυθαγορείοις προειπεῖν. διὸ καὶ εἰς Μεταπόντιον ἀπῇρεν ὑπὸ μηδενὸς θεωρηθείς.

καὶ ὑπὸ τοῦ κατὰ Κόσαν ποταμοῦ διαβαίνων σὺν ἄλλοις ἤκουσε φωνὴν μεγάλην ὑπὲρ ἄνθρωπον «Πυθαγόρα, χαῖρε.» τοὺς δὲ παρόντας περιδεεῖς γενέσθαι.  ἐφάνη δέ ποτε καὶ ἐν Κρότωνι καὶ ἐν Μεταποντίῳ τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ καὶ ὥρᾳ.

ἐν θεάτρῳ δὲ καθήμενός ποτε ἐξανίστατο, ὥς φησιν ᾿Αριστοτέλης, καὶ τὸν ἴδιον μηρὸν παρέφηνε τοῖς καθημένοις ὡς χρυσοῦν. λέγεται δὲ περὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἄλλα τινὰ παράδοξα. ἡμεῖς δὲ μὴ βουλόμενοι μεταγραφέων ἔργον ποιεῖν αὐτοῦ τὸν λόγον καταπαύσομεν.

 

Image result for ancient greek pythagoras and snake

 

Wednesday’s Wondrous Water 3

This is the third installment of the Paradoxagraphus Florentinus, a text which provides a list of miraculous waters from the ancient world. Here’s the first, and the second.

 27 “In Alliphanos in Italy there is a deep reservoir from which water is seen but if someone lets a line down into it, he does not touch the water but is hindered by some divine force, as Isigonos records.”

᾿Εν δὲ ᾿Αλλιφάνῳ τῆς ᾿Ιταλίας φρεάτιόν ἐστι βαθύ, οὗ τὸ μὲν ὕδωρ βλέπεται, ἡλίκον δὲ ἄν τις χαλάσῃ σχοινίον, οὐκ ἐφάπτεται τοῦ ὕδατος, ἀλλ’ ὑπό τινος θείου κωλύεται, ὥς φησιν ᾿Ισίγονος.

28 There is a pond in Italy near Cumae and when the leaves or fruit from the trees that are nearby fall they immediately become invisible while they shrink.”

῎Αουερνός ἐστι λίμνη ἐν ᾿Ιταλίᾳ περὶ Κούμας, εἰς ἣν τὰ ἐκ τῆς περικειμένης ὕλης ἐμπίπτοντα φύλλα ἢ κάρφη ἀφανῆ γίνεται βυθιζόμενα παραχρῆμα.

29 “Aristotle records that in Carthage there is a spring gentler than olive oil. They hide it so that no one may secretly approach it.”

᾿Αριστοτέλης ἱστορεῖ κατὰ Καρχηδόνα κρήνην εἶναι ἐλαίου προσηνεστέραν· ἂν δὲ μή τις ἁγνὸς προσίῃ, ἐκλείπειν αὐτήν.

30 “Near Gela in Sicily there is a lake called Silla, extremely small, which hurls those who bathe in it onto dry land as if from an instrument, as Aristotle says.”

Περὶ Γέλαν τῆς Σικελίας ἔστι λίμνη Σίλλα καλουμένη, ἐλαχίστη τὸ μέγεθος, ἥτις τοὺς ἐν αὐτῇ λουομένους εἰς τὸ ξηρὸν ἐκρίπτει ὡς ἀπ’ ὀργάνου τινός, ὥς φησιν ᾿Αριστοτέλης.

31 “Along the Eridanos river there is a pond around the Elektryan islands which has warm water but has a heavy smell and no animal will taste from it.”

Παρὰ τὸν ᾿Ηριδανὸν ποταμὸν ἔστι λίμνη κατὰ τὰς ᾿Ηλεκτρίδας νήσους, ὕδωρ ἔχουσα θερμόν, ὀσμὴν δὲ βαρεῖαν, ἀφ’ ἧς οὐδὲν ζῷον γεύεται.

32 “The lake near Abdêra which is called Kusteiros is one which they claim that Xerxes’ army drank dry.”

Τὴν κατὰ ῎Αβδηρα λίμνην Κύστειρον καλουμένην φασὶ τὸ Χέρξου στράτευμα πῖνον ἀναξηρᾶναι.

33 “Hieronymos records that in the land of the Nabataians of Arabia there is a bitter lake in which there are no fish and no other of the animals who live under water. Bricks of asphalt are taken from it by the people who live nearby.”

῾Ιερώνυμος ἱστόρησεν ἐν τῇ Ναβαταίων χώρᾳ τῶν ᾿Αράβων εἶναι λίμνην πικράν, ἐν ᾗ οὔτε ἰχθῦς οὔτε ἄλλο τι τῶν ἐνύδρων ζῴων γίνεσθαι· ἀσφάλτου δὲ πλίνθους ἐξ αὐτῆς αἴρεσθαι ὑπὸ τῶν ἐπιχωρίων.

34 “Puthermos claims, if someone hurls a cup into the eddies of the Strumôn river, then he will find it in the lake near Apollonia

Πύθερμός φησιν, ἐάν τις σκύφον εἰς τὰς τοῦ Στρυμόνος ποταμοῦ δίνας ἐμβάλῃ, τοῦτον εὑρήσειν ἐν τῇ περὶ ᾿Απολλωνίαν λίμνῃ.

35 “Phaethôn says that there is a river on the Bosporos that is so cold that none of the animals are able to abide its chill.”

†Φαέθων† φησὶ τὸν ἐν Βοσπόρῳ ποταμὸν οὕτως εἶναι ψυχρόν, ὥστε μηδὲν τῶν ζῴων ὑπομένειν αὐτοῦ τὴν ψυχρότητα.

A Wish To be Invulnerable: The Rape and Sex-Change of Kaineus

When I presented a selection of intersex stories from Phlegon of Tralles earlier this week, I left out what I find to be the most disturbing story, a rape followed by a sex-change. Ovid tells a version of this tale.

Phlegon, On Amazing Things 5

5 “Others tell the story that in the land of the Lapiths the king Elatos had a daughter whose name was Kainis. After Poseidon had sex with her he promised to make her into whatever she wanted. She said she wanted to be changed into a man who was invulnerable. When Poseidon did this—as was right—he changed her name to Kaineus.”

Οἱ αὐτοὶ ἱστοροῦσιν κατὰ τὴν Λαπίθων χώραν γενέσθαι ᾿Ελάτῳ τῷ βασιλεῖ θυγατέρα ὀνομαζομένην Καινίδα.

ταύτῃ δὲ Ποσειδῶνα μιγέντα ἐπαγγείλασθαι ποιήσειν αὐτῇ ὃ ἂν ἐθέλῃ, τὴν δὲ ἀξιῶσαι μεταλλάξαι αὐτὴν εἰς ἄνδρα ποιῆσαί τε ἄτρωτον. τοῦ δὲ Ποσειδῶνος κατὰ τὸ ἀξιωθὲν ποιήσαντος μετονομασθῆναι Καινέα.

This story is older than Ovid and Phlegon. It is detailed in the fragments of Akousilaus, perhaps alluded to in Homer, definitely indicated by Apollonius Rhodes, and present even in Plato. While the sex-change narrative remains an important element, the main feature of Kaineus’ tale is his hubris–because of his invulnerability he asks to be made into a god.

Akousilaus FGrH 2 fr. 22 [=P.Oxy. 13, 1611, fr. 1, col. 2, 38-96]

“Poseidon has sex with Kainê of Elatos. Then—for it was not right for him [sic] to have children with him nor anyone else—Poseidon turned him into an invulnerable man, who had the greatest strength of the men at that time. Whenever anyone tried to strike him with iron or bronze, [the attacker] was completely defeated.

Then [Kaineus] became king of the Lapiths and was warring with the Centaurs. After he set up his javelin in the agora he was asking to be included in the number of the gods. This was not pleasing to the gods. And when Zeus saw him doing this, he threatened him and raised the Centaurs against him. They struck him straight down into the earth and placed a stone above as assign. Then he died.”

«Καινῆιδὲ τῆι ᾽Ελάτου μίσγεται ΙΙοσειδῶν. ἔπειτα – οὐ γὰρ ἦν αὐτῶι ἱερὸν παῖδας τεκέν οὐτ᾽ ἐξ ἐκείνου οὐτ᾽ ἐξ ἄλλου οὐδενός – ποιεῖ αὐτὸν Ποσειδέων ἄνδρα ἄτρωτον, ἰσχὺν ἔχοντα μεγίστην τῶν ἀνθρώπων τῶν τότε, καὶ ὅτε τις αὐτὸν κεντοίη σιδήρωι ἢ χαλκῶι, ἡλίσκετο μάλιστα χρημάτων. καὶ γίγνεται βασιλεὺς οὗτος Λαπιθέων καὶ τοῖς Κενταύροις πολεμέεσκε. ἔπειτα στήσας ἀκόν[τιον ἐν ἀγορᾶι θεὸν ἐκέλευεν ἀριθμεῖν. θεοῖ]σι δ᾽ οὐκ ἦεν [ἀρεστόν, καὶ] Ζεὺς ἰδὼν αὐτὸν ταῦτα ποιοῦντα ἀπειλεῖ καὶ ἐφορμᾶι τοὺς Κενταύρους, κἀκεῖνοι αὐτὸν κατακόπτουσιν ὄρθιον κατὰ γῆς καὶ ἄνωθεν πέτρην ἐπιτιθεῖσιν σῆμα, καὶ ἀποθνήσκει.»

In this account, Poseidon seems to be changing Kaineus because of his inability to have children. This makes it rather clear what women are good for from this cultural perspective. In addition, it is interesting that Kaineus as an intersex figure is involved in the war between the Lapiths and Centaurs, a conflict which has its origins in a rapes at a wedding and is often seen as a reflection of the civilized Lapiths struggling against the primitive and violent urges of the Centaurs.

But, as can be seen from the relief below which dates to the early Archaic period, the punishment of Kaineus is a primary motif of the story tradition. In a way, if the sex-change and rape were equally ancient, this is a tale about a women who is raped ultimately being punished for surviving and thriving and exacting retribution for her suffering.

D Scholia ad Il. 264

“Kaineus was a son of Elatos and king of the Lapiths. He was a very beautiful virgin girl before. But after Poseidon had sex with her, she asked to be changed from a young woman into a man. And he became invulnerable, and the most excellent of those alive at the time. And after he stuck his javelin into the middle of the agora, he demanded to be entered into the number of the gods for this reason.

Zeus was annoyed by this request and he arranged the following type of payback from him for impiety. For, even though he was invincible, he made him less while he was fighting the Centaurs. For they were hurling and striking him with pines and oak trees and they drove him into the ground. Apollonius recalls this in the Argonautica saying this, “For the singers used to report the fame that Kaineus was killed by Centaurs, when he alone from the rest of the best drove them, they surged back. They were not strong enough to repel him nor to kill him, but he went under the earth, unbroken, unbent, pummeled by the striking force of powerful pines.”

Καινέα τε. Καὶ τὸν Καινέα. ὁ δὲ Και-
νεὺς ᾿Ελάτου μὲν παῖς, Λαπίθων δὲ βα-
σιλεὺς, πρότερον ἦν παρθένος εὐπρεπής.
μιγέντος δὲ αὐτῇ Ποσειδῶνος, αἰτησα-
μένη μεταβαλεῖν εἰς ἄνδρα ἡ νεᾶνις, ἄ-
τρωτος γίγνεται, γενναιότατος τῶν καθ’
αὑτὸν ὑπάρξας· καὶ δή ποτε πήξας ἀ-
κόντιον ἐν τῷ μεσαιτάτῳ τῆς ἀγορὰς,
θεοῖς τοῦτο προσέταξεν ἀριθμεῖν. δι’ ἣν
αἰτίαν ἀγανακτήσας ὁ Ζεὺς, τιμωρίαν
τῆς ἀσεβείας παρ’ αὐτοῦ εἰσεπράξατο.
μαχόμενον γὰρ αὐτὸν τοῖς Κενταύροις
καὶ ἄτρωτον ὄντα ὑποχείριον ἐποίησε.
βάλλοντες γὰρ αὐτὸν οἱ προειρημένοι δρυ-
σί τε καὶ ἐλάταις, ἤρεισαν εἰς γῆν.
μέμνηται δὲ αὐτοῦ καὶ ᾿Απολλώνιος ἐν
τοῖς ᾿Αργοναυτικοῖς λέγων οὕτως· Καινέα
γὰρ τὸν πρόσθεν ἐπικλείουσιν ἀοιδοὶ Κεν-
ταύροισιν ὀλέσθαι, ὅτε σφέας οἶος ἀπ’
ἄλλων ῎Ηλασ’ ἀριστήων· οἱ δ’ ἔμπαλιν
ὁρμηθέντες, Οὔτε μιν ἀγκλῖναι προτέρω
σθένον, οὔτε δαΐξαι· ᾿Αλλ’ ἄῤῥηκτος,
ἄκαμπτος ἐδύσσατο νειόθι γαίης, Θεινό-
μενος στιβαρῆσι καταΐγδην ἐλάτῃσιν.

This story is held up as a wistful impossibility by Plato in the laws. This passage is, well, upsetting.

Plato’s Laws 944d-c

“What then would be the right punishment for someone who has thrown away this kind of a power of a defensive weapon for the opposite? For it is not possible for a person to do the opposite of what they say the god did when he changed the Thessalian Kaineus from a women into a man. For one who throws away his shield, the opposite of this transformation, changing from a man into a women, in some way would be the best of all punishments for this.”

ζημία δὴ τῷ τὴν τοιαύτην ἀμυντηρίων ὅπλων εἰς τοὐναντίον ἀφέντι δύναμιν τίς ἄρα γίγνοιτ᾿ ἂν πρόσφορος; οὐ γὰρ δυνατὸν ἀνθρώπῳ δρᾷν τοὐναντίον <ἢ> ὥς2 ποτε θεόν φασι δρᾶσαι, Καινέα τὸν Θετταλὸν ἐκ γυναικὸς μεταβαλόντα εἰς ἀνδρὸς φύσιν ἦν γὰρ ἂν ἀνδρὶ ῥιψάσπιδι τρόπον τινὰ πρέπουσα πασῶν Εμάλιστα ἡ ᾿κείνῃ τῇ γενέσει ἐναντία γένεσις, εἰς γυναῖκα ἐξ ἀνδρὸς μεταβαλοῦσα, τιμωρία τούτῳ γενομένη.

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