Wondrous Wednesday: How Sicily Became an Island and Shooting Arrows at the Gods

Paradoxographus Vaticanus, 39-46

39 “Akulios the Roman Historian says that before a cataclysm Sicily was not an island as it is today but it was part of the mainland connected to what later became Italy. It was cut off from the Apennines from a deluge of floods at their roots, and the land was broken at Skullaion and the island was made. This is why that side of Italy is called Rhêgion.”

᾿Ακύλιος ὁ ῾Ρωμαῖος ἱστορικός φησι τὴν Σικελίαν πρὸ τοῦ κατακλυσμοῦ μὴ νῆσον εἶναι ὡς σήμερον, ἀλλ’ ἤπειρον γενέσθαι συνημμένην τῇ ὕστερον ᾿Ιταλίᾳ· ἐκ δὲ τῆς ἐπικλύσεως τῶν ῥευμάτων τῶν ῥιζῶν ἀποσπασθεῖσαν τοῦ ᾿Απεννίνου, κατὰ τὸ Σκύλλαιον ῥαγείσης τῆς ἠπείρου, νῆσον ἀποκαταστῆναι καὶ διὰ τοῦτο ῾Ρήγιον ἀποκληθῆναι τὸ πλευρὸν τῆς ᾿Ιταλίας ἐκεῖνο.

40 “The Persians punish those who bring harm to a pyre or piss in a river wash clean in it with death.”

Πέρσαι τοὺς προσφέροντας τῷ πυρὶ βλάβος ἢ ποταμῷ ἐνουροῦντας ἢ ἐναπονιζομένους θανάτῳ ζημιοῦσιν.

41 “They say that the Getai play drums along with Zeus’ thunder and shoot arrows into the sky to threaten the god.”

Γέτας φασὶ ταῖς τοῦ Διὸς βρονταῖς ἐπιτυμπανίζειν καὶ τοξεύοντας εἰς τὸν ἀέρα ἀπειλεῖν τῷ θεῷ.

42 “Among the Padaioi, an Indian tribe, the wisest of those who are present begin the sacrifices. And he asks from the gods for noting other than a sense of justice.”

᾿Εν Παδαίοις, ᾿Ινδικῷ ἔθνει, ὁ συνετώτατος τῶν παρόντων κατάρχεται τῶν ἱερῶν· αἰτεῖται δὲ παρὰ τῶν θεῶν οὐδὲν ἄλλο πλὴν δικαιοσύνης.

“Alexander the son of Philip ruled the Macedonians for 14 years. He conquered the Persians at the Granicus in his [24th year]. For this reason he used to honor that day especially and sacrified to the gods because it seem that the greatest things were accomplished in that fourth. And if he ever wanted to do something he waited for the fourth.”

43᾿Αλέξανδρος ὁ Φιλίππου τὴν τῶν Μακεδόνων ἀρχὴν <ἦρξεν> τεσσαρεσκαιδέκατος. ἐνίκησε δὲ Πέρσας ἐπὶ Γρανικῷ κδ’· διὸ καὶ τὴν ἡμέραν σφόδρα ἐτίμα καὶ θεοῖς ἔθυεν, ὅτι ἐν ταύτῃ τῇ τετάρτῃ δηλονότι τὰ μέγιστα κατεπράχθη. καὶ εἴ ποτέ τι δρᾶν ἐβούλετο, περιέμενε τὴν τετράδα.

44 Among the Galataians, whoever flees after committing injustice in the worst ways, resolved it if he gave a horse or a trumpet.”

Παρὰ Γαλάταις ἐάν, <ὅσ>τις τὰ μέγιστα ἀδικήσας κατέφυγεν, ἐπι<δῷ> ἵππον ἢ σάλπιγγα, ἀπελύετο.

45 “These same people, when they are making plans about war, communicate with women and whatever the women decide wins the day. If they are defeated while they battle, they cut off the heads of the women who gave them advice about conducting the war, and they throw them from the land.”

οὗτοι περὶ πολέμου βουλευόμενοι ταῖς γυναιξὶν ἀνακοινοῦνται, καὶ ὅ τι ἂν γνῶσιν αἱ γυναῖκες, τοῦτο κρατεῖ· ἐὰν δὲ ἡττηθῶσι πολεμοῦντες, τῶν γυναικῶν, αἳ συνεβουλεύσαντο πόλεμον ἄρασθαι, τὰς κεφαλὰς ἀποτεμόντες ἔξω ῥίπτουσι
τῆς γῆς.

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Book of Hours, MS M.1004 fol. 43v -The Morgan Library & Museum

Fantastic Friday 3: Final Adventures in Ethnography

 

Paradoxographus Vaticanus. 56-62 

56 “Among the Carthaginians it is impossible for those who have not served in the army to receive gold tribute. They receive as many payments in perpetuity as expeditions they served on.”

Παρὰ Καρχηδονίοις οὐκ ἔξεστι τοῖς ἀστρατεύτοις φορεῖν ἐνώτιον χρυσοῦν· ὅσας δ’ ἂν στρατεύσωνται στρατείας, τοσαῦτα ἀεὶ φοροῦσιν ἐνώτια.

57 “The Spartans shame/disfigure their elderly men no less than their fathers. And virgins have the same nude training as men do. It is not allowed for foreigners to live in Sparta nor for Spartans to offer them hospitality. These order women to get pregnant by the most well-formed men, both citizens and foreigners.”

Λακεδαιμόνιοι τοὺς γέροντας αἰσχύνονται οὐδὲν ἧττον ἢ πατέρας. γυμνάσια δ’ ὥσπερ ἀνδρῶν ἐστιν, οὕτω καὶ παρθένων. ξένοις δ’ ἐμβιοῦν οὐκ ἔξεστιν ἐν Σπάρτῃ
οὔτε Σπαρτιάταις ξενιτεύειν. οὗτοι ταῖς γυναιξὶν παρακελεύονται ἐκ τῶν εὐειδεστάτων κύειν καὶ ἀστῶν καὶ ξένων.

58 “First of the Greeks, the Cretans were possessing the laws which Minos set down. Minos claimed to have learned them from Zeus after he wandered for nine years over a certain month which is called the “cave of Zeus”. The children of the Cretans are raised in common and brought up hardy with on another. They learn the arts of war, and hunts, and they also practice uphill runs without shoes and they work hard on the pyrrhic dance which Purrikhos invented first.”

Κρῆτες πρῶτοι ῾Ελλήνων νόμους ἔσχον Μίνωος θεμένου· προσεποιεῖτο δὲ Μίνως παρὰ τοῦ Διὸς αὐτοὺς μεμαθηκέναι ἐννέα ἔτη εἴς τι ὄρος φοιτήσας, ὃ Διὸς ἄντρον ἐλέγετο. Οἱ Κρητῶν παῖδες ἀγελάζονται κοινῇ μετ’ ἀλλήλων σκληραγωγούμενοι καὶ τὰ πολέμια διδασκόμενοι καὶ θήρας δρόμους τε ἀνάντεις ἀνυπόδετοι ἀνύοντες καὶ τὴν ἐνόπλιον πυρρίχην ἐκπονοῦντες, ἥντινα πρῶτος εὗρε Πύρριχος.

59 “The Ligues hurl their parents from a cliff when they are no longer useful because of old age.”

Λίγυες τοὺς γονεῖς, ὅταν μηκέτι ὦσι διὰ γῆρας χρήσιμοι, κατακρημνίζουσιν.

60 “The Tauroi, a Skythian tribe, bury the kindest of the friends to the kings along with them. And the king, when a friend dies, cuts a little bit from his ear and takes away more when someone closer dies. When it is one of the closest companions of all, he takes the whole thing.”

<Ταῦροι, Σκυθικὸν ἔθνος, τοῖς βασιλεῦσι τοὺς εὐνουστάτους τῶν φίλων συγκαταθάπτουσιν>. ὁ δὲ βασιλεὺς ἀποθανόντος φίλου μικρόν τι τοῦ ὠτίου ἀποτέμνει, ἀναγκαιοτέρου δὲ τελευτήσαντος πλεῖον ἀφαιρεῖ· ὅταν δὲ ὁ πάντων
εὐνούστατος ἀποθάνῃ, <τὸ ὅλον>.

61 “Some of the Skythians, after they butcher and salt one who has died, leave him out to dry in the sun. After that, they string the meat on a cord and tie it to their own neck. Then, whenever they meet one of their friends, they take out a little dagger,  cut some of the meat and give it to them. They do this until they consume it all.”

Σκυθῶν τινες τὸν τελευτήσαντα κρεονομήσαντες καὶ ἁλίσαντες ξηραίνουσιν ἐν ἡλίῳ· μετὰ ταῦτα δὲ ἐνείραντες ἁρπεδόνι τὰ κρέα ἐξάπτουσι τῷ ἑαυτῶν τραχήλῳ, καὶ μαχαίριον λαβόντες, ᾧ ἂν ἐντύχωσι τῶν φίλων, τεμόντες κρέα διδόασι. καὶ τοῦτο ποιοῦσι μέχρις ἂν πάντα δαπανήσωσιν.

62 “The Athenians when they are completing these [rites] to the grave and they bring all the grain, a sign of the discovery of by them of fruits of all kinds”

᾿Αθηναῖοι τοὺς τελευτήσαντες ἐπὶ τὸν τάφον ἄγοντες καὶ πᾶν ὄσπριον ἐπέφερον, σύμβολον τῆς παρ’ αὐτῶν εὑρέσεως τῶν καρπῶν τῶν ἁπάντων.

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BNF Latin 9187 Coutumes de Toulouse, F34v

Fantastic Friday: Adventures in Ethnography

Paradoxographus Palatinus 46-50

46 “The Dardanians, an Illyrian tribe, bathe themselves three times in their lives, when they are born and when they die. When they send an embassy to their enemies, they take a lamb and a branch of a tree. If their enemies accept their treaties, they leave what they brought. If they don’t, they take it back again.”

Δαρδανεῖς, ᾿Ιλλυρικὸν ἔθνος, τρὶς ἐν τῷ βίῳ λούονται, ὅταν γεννῶνται καὶ ὅταν τελευτῶσιν. ὅταν δὲ ἐπικηρυκεύωνται τοῖς πολεμίοις, ἄρνα κομίζουσι καὶ κλάδον δένδρου· καὶ ἐὰν μὲν δέχωνται οἱ πολέμιοι τὰς σπονδάς, καταλείπουσιν ἃ ἐκόμισαν, εἰ δὲ μή, πάλιν αὐτὰ ἀποφέρουσιν.

47 “Some of the Skythians are called man-eaters because they drink from human skulls. They also make handtowels by working the skin of the heads of their enemies. Then they flay the rest of the body with claws and put them on their horses.”

Σκυθῶν οἱ ἀνδροφάγοι λεγόμενοι ἐκ μὲν κρανίων πίνουσιν ἀνθρωπίνων, τὸ δὲ δέρμα τῆς κεφαλῆς τῶν πο-λεμίων ἐργαζόμενοι ποιοῦσι χειρόμακτρον, τὸ δὲ λοιπὸν σῶμα ἐκδείραντες σὺν τοῖς ὄνυξιν ἐπιβάλλουσιν ἐπὶ τοὺς ἵππους.

48 “The Sauromatai dine for three days until they are full. They obey women in everything and themselves wear female vestments. If any of their enemies flee to the fire of their hearth and darken their forehead with ashes, they no longer harm them, as if they were a household slave. They do not allow a virgin to settle down with a man before she kills an enemy.”

Σαυρομάται διὰ τριῶν ἡμερῶν σιτοῦνται εἰς πλήρωσιν. ταῖς γυναιξὶ δὲ πάντα πείθονται, καὶ αὐτοὶ δὲ φοροῦσι γυναικεῖαν ἐσθῆτα. ἐὰν δέ τις τῶν πολεμίων
καταφύγῃ πρὸς τῷ ἐπὶ τῆς ἑστίας πυρὶ καὶ τοῖς ἄνθραξι τὸ πρόσωπον μολύνῃ, οὐκέτι αὐτόν, ὡς οἰκέτην, ἀδικοῦσιν. παρθένον δὲ οὐ πρότερον συνοικίζουσιν εἰς ἄνδρα, πρὶν ἂν πολέμιον κτάνῃ.

49 “Among the Phrygians, if someone kills a farming ox or steals some of the equipment for farming, he is punished with death.”

Παρὰ Φρυξίν, ἐάν τις γεωργὸν βοῦν ἀποκτείνῃ ἢ σκεῦος τῶν περὶ τὴν γεωργίαν κλέψῃ, θανάτῳ ζημιοῦται.

50 “The Lykioi honor women more than men and are named from the mother not the father. They leave their inheritance to daughters not to sons. If anyone who is free is caught stealing, he becomes a slave. They do not provide witnesses in trials immediately, but after a month.”

Λύκιοι τὰς γυναῖκας μᾶλλον ἢ τοὺς ἄνδρας τιμῶσι καὶ καλοῦνται μητρόθεν, οὐ πατρόθεν· τὰς δὲ κληρονομίας ταῖς θυγατράσιν ἀπολείπουσιν, οὐ τοῖς υἱοῖς. ὃς δ’ ἂν ἐλεύθερος ἁλῷ κλέπτων, δοῦλος γίνεται. τὰς δὲ μαρτυρίας ἐν ταῖς δίκαις οὐκ εὐθὺς παρέχονται, ἀλλὰ μετὰ μῆνα.

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KBR Ms.9961-62 Peterborough Psalter Folio 091v

Fantastic Friday 2: Further Adventures in Ethnography

Paradoxographus Vaticanus, 51-55

51 “The Assyrians sell their daughters in the marketplace to whoever wants to settle down with them. First the most well-born and most beautiful and then the rest in order. Whenever they get to the least attractive, they announce how much someone is willing to take to live with them and they add this consolation price from the fee charged for the desirable girls to these [last ones].”

᾿Ασσύριοι τὰς παρθένους ἐν ἀγορᾷ πωλοῦσι τοῖς θέλουσι συνοικεῖν, πρῶτον μὲν τὰς εὐγενεστάτας καὶ καλλίστας, εἶτα τὰς λοιπὰς ἐφεξῆς· ὅταν δὲ ἔλθωσι ἐπὶ τὰς φαυλοτάτας, κηρύττουσι πόσον τις θέλει προσλαβὼν ταύταις συνοικεῖν, καὶ τὸ συναχθὲν ἐκ τῆς τῶν εὐπρεπῶν τιμῆς ταύταις προστίθενται [ταῖς παρθένοις].

52 “If it is impossible to do something, the Persians do not mention it. Among the Persians, whoever considers a new pleasure, obtains heaps of it. [Among the Persians] whoever is discovered by the king grieves throughout his life and drinks a stone draft. Whenever the king dies, all of his claims are released and people take what they want and act lawlessly for three days until, once they arrive at the royal doors, they seek a new king who will resolve the lawlessness. [Among the Persians] if the king designates someone to whip, he is thankful as if he received something good.”

Πέρσαι, ὃ μὴ ποιεῖν ἔξεστιν, οὐδὲ λέγουσιν. παρὰ Πέρσαις, ὃς ἂν ἡδονὴν καινὴν ἐπινοήσῃ, σῶρα λαμβάνει. [Παρὰ Πέρσαις] ὃς ἂν καταγνωσθῇ παρὰ
βασιλέως, πενθεῖ διὰ βίον καὶ ποτηρίῳ πίνει πετρίνῳ. ὅταν δὲ ὁ βασιλεὺς ἀποθάνῃ, ἀφίενται τῶν ἐγκλημάτων πάντες καὶ ἁρπάζουσιν ἂ θέλουσι καὶ παρανομοῦσιν ἐπὶ
τρεῖς ἡμέρας, ἕως ἂν ἐπὶ τὰς βασιλείους θύρας ἐλθόντες αἰτήσωνται βασιλέα, ὅστις αὐτοὺς ἀπαλλάξει τῆς ἀνομίας. [Παρὰ Πέρσαις] ἐάν τινα προστάξῃ βασιλεὺς μαστιγῶσαι, εὐχαριστεῖ ὡς ἀγαθοῦ τυχών.

53 “Among the Indians, if anyone ruins the hand or eye of an artisan he is punished with death.”

Παρὰ τοῖς ᾿Ινδοῖς ὁ τεχνίτου πηρώσας χεῖρα ἢ ὀφθαλμὸν θανάτῳ ζημιοῦται.

54 “Among the Egyptians it is not allowed for the illiterate to provide testimony.”

Παρ’ Αἰγυπτίοις μαρτυρεῖν ἀγραμμάτῳ οὐκ ἔξεστιν.

55 “the Libyan Atarantes judge the best of their daughters to be the ones who remained virgins for the longest time.”

᾿Ατάραντες Λίβυες τῶν θυγατέρων ἀρίστας κρίνουσι τὰς πλεῖστον χρόνον μεμενηκυίας παρθένους.

 

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The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. 5, fol. 36v

Fantastic Friday: Truffles in Thunder and Other Things Worth Knowing

Apollonios the Paradoxographer is credited with a text of 51 anecdotes usually dated to the 3rd or 2nd century BCE.  Some of these translations are pretty rough, so suggestions and corrections are welcome.

46 “In the fifth book of his Natural Causes, Theophrastos says that the covering of beans when they are placed near the roots of trees dry out the things that are growing. He also adds that native birds who eat these things constantly become barren. Therefore, for this reason and eventually because of many others the Pythagoreans prohibited the use of the bean. For it makes someone flatulent, and dyspeptic, and brings us bad dreams.

46 Θεόφραστος ἐν τῇ ε′ τῶν φυτικῶν αἰτιῶν φησιν τὰ κελύφια τῶν κυάμων περὶ τὰς ῥίζας τῶν δένδρων περιτιθέμενα ξηραίνειν τὰ φυόμενα. καὶ αἱ κατοικίδιαι δὲ ὄρνιθες συνεχῶς ταῦτα ἐσθίουσαι ἄτοκοι γίγνονται. ὅθεν καὶ διὰ ταύτην τὴν αἰτίαν, τάχα δὲ καὶ δι’ ἄλλας οἱ Πυθαγόρειοι ἀπηγορεύκασιν τῷ κυάμῳ χρῆσθαι· καὶ γὰρ πνευματοποιὸν καὶ δύσπεπτον, καὶ τοὺς ὀνείρους τεταραγμένους ἡμῖν ἐμποιεῖ.

47 “Truffles become harder when there is continuous thunder, just as Theophrastos says in his work On Plants.”

47 Τὰ ὕδνα βροντῶν συνεχῶν γιγνομένων σκληρότερα γίγνεται, καθάπερ Θεόφραστος ἐν τῷ περὶ φυτῶν εἴρηκεν.

48“Theophrastos says in his work On Plants that when the frankincense plant is wrapped with cloths it hinders moths from implanting.”

48 Θεόφραστος ἐν τῷ περὶ φυτῶν φησιν· ἡ λιβανωτὶς βοτάνη συντιθεμένη μετὰ ἱματίων κωλύει σῆτας ἐγγίγνεσθαι.

50 “In his work On Plants, in the last part of the material, Theophrastos says that Eunomos, the Khian and purveyor of drugs, did not [cleanse himself/die] while drinking many doses of hellebore. Once, even, when together with his fellow craftsmen he took over 22 drinks in one day as he sat in the agora and he did not return from his implements. Then he left to wash and eat, as he was accustomed, and did not vomit. He accomplished this after being in this custom for a long time, because he started from small amounts until he got to so many large ones. The powers of all drugs are less severe for those used to them and for some they are even useless.”

50 Θεόφραστος ἐν τῷ περὶ φυτῶν, ἐν τῇ ἐσχάτῃ τῆς πραγματείας· Εὔνομος, φησίν, ὁ Χῖος, ὁ φαρμακοπώλης, ἐλλεβόρου πίνων πλείονας πόσεις οὐκ ἐκαθαίρετο. καὶ ποτέ, ἔφη, ἐν μιᾷ ἡμέρᾳ συνθέμενος τοῖς ὁμοτέχνοις περὶ δύο καὶ εἴκοσι πόσεις ἔλαβεν ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾷ καθήμενος καὶ οὐκ ἐξανέστη ἀπὸ τῶν σκευῶν <μέχρι δείλης>. τότε δ’ ἀπῆλθεν λούσασθαι καὶ δειπνῆσαι, ὥσπερ εἰώθει, καὶ οὐκ ἐξήμεσεν.

 τοῦτο δὲ ἔπραξεν ἐν πολυχρονίῳ συνηθείᾳ γεγονώς, ἀρξάμενος ἀπὸ ὀλίγων ἕως τοσούτων πόσεων.πάντων δὲ τῶν φαρμάκων αἱ δυνάμεις ἀσθενέστεραι τοῖς συνειθισμένοις, ἐνίοις δὲ καὶ ἄπρακτοί εἰσιν.

51 “This is a matter worth knowing which Aristotle mentions in his Natural Problems. He says that a person who has eaten and drunk weighs the same as when he is fasting. He tries to provide a reason for this occurrence.”

51῎Αξιον δὲ ἐπιστῆσαι πρᾶγμα <ὃ> ᾿Αριστοτέλης, ἐν τοῖς φυσικοῖς προβλήμασιν, εἴρηκεν· τὸν ἄνθρωπόν φησιν βεβρωκότα καὶ πεπωκότα τὸν αὐτὸν σταθμὸν ἄγειν καὶ ὅτε νήστης ὑπῆρχεν. πειρᾶται δὲ καὶ τὴν αἰτίαν τοῦ γιγνομένου ἀποδιδόναι.

 

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Tacuinum Sanitatis, 14th century

Flammable Bones and Renewable Eyes: Some Amazing Animal Facts

Paradoxographus Vaticanus, 4-8

4 “Aristotle says in his work On Animals that all land animals have respiration—as many as have lungs—except for the wasp and bee which do not breathe. However many animals have a bladder also have bowels. But not all animals who have bowels also have a bladder.”

᾿Αριστοτέλης φησὶν ἐν τοῖς περὶ ζῴων τὰ χερσαῖα πάντα ἀναπνεῖν, ὅσα πνεύμονας ἔχει, σφῆκαν δὲ καὶ μέλισσαν οὐκ ἀναπνεῖν. ὅσα τε κύστιν ἔχει, πάντα καὶ κοιλίαν· οὐχ ὅσα δὲ κοιλίαν καὶ κύστιν.

5 “Many of the animals are bloodless, and and, in general they are animals who have more than four feet.”

῎Αναιμα πολλὰ τῶν ζῴων, καθόλου δὲ ὅσα πλείους πόδας ἔχουσι τῶν τεσσάρων.

6 “Fish do not have a throat[?]. For this reason, if a smaller fish is pursued by a bigger one, it pushes the stomach under the mouth [?]”

Οἱ ἰχθύες οὐκ ἔχουσι στόμαχον· διό, ἐὰν διώκηται ὁ ἐλάττων ὑπὸ μείζονος, ἄγει τὴν κοιλίαν ὑπὸ τὸ στόμα.

7 “Snakes have thirty ribs, and their eyes, if anyone strikes them, grow back again. The swallow’s qualities are similar.”

Οἱ ὄφεις πλευρὰς ἔχουσι τριάκοντα. καὶ τὰ ὄμματα αὐτῶν, ἐάν τις ἐκκεντήσῃ, πάλιν γίνονται, καθὰ καὶ τὰ τῶν χελιδόνων.

8 “The bones of a lion are so stiff that when they are struck often they burst into fire.”

Τοῦ λέοντος τὰ ὀστᾶ οὕτως εἰσὶ στερεά, ὥστε πολλάκις κοπτόμενα πῦρ ἐκλάμπειν.

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British Library, Royal MS 12 C. xix, Folio 6r. Lion

Some Miraculous Misogyny From the Ancient World

The following passages are from the Paradoxographus Vaticanus (Admiranda), one of a selection of ancient paradoxographical collections which are not widely available in translation. I have been working on completing full rough translations of the paradoxa this summer. The Florentinus  and Palatinus manuscripts are now translated as are the Historiae Mirabiles of Apollonios Paradoxographus.

Of the collections, the Vaticanus is the most interesting and strange. Here are a few sections that jumped out while I translated them today.

15 “In a certain part of the region before Olympos there are trees similar to a tender-leafed willow which people say were once virgins. They changed into these trees when they were fleeing Boreas who was lusting after them. Even to this day, if someone touches the leaves, people claim that the wind gets enraged and immediately blows with a fury and barely stops before the third day”

῎Εν τινι τῶν κατὰ τὸν ῎Ολυμπον δένδρα ἐστὶν ἰτέᾳ λεπτοφύλλῳ ἐοικότα, ἃ παρθένους γεγενῆσθαι ἱστοροῦσι· εἰς <δὲ> δένδρα ταύτας ἀμειφθῆναι τὸν Βορρᾶν φευγούσας ἐρῶντα. Καὶ νῦν ἔτι, εἴ τις θίγοι τῶν φυλλῶν, χολοῦσθαι τὸν ἄνεμον λέγουσι καὶ σφοδρὸν αὐτίκα πνεῖν καὶ μόλις διὰ τρίτης παύεσθαι.

16 “In the middle of Thrace there is a river which reveals women who have been corrupted through adultery. When their husbands have them drink from the water they also say ‘If you were not corrupted by that water, may you have a son; but if you were, have a daughter’ “

Μέστος ποταμὸς ἐν Θρᾴκῃ τὰς μοιχευομένας ἐξελέγχει, τῶν ἀνδρῶν ποτιζόντων αὐτὰς ἀπὸ τοῦ ὕδατος τούτου καὶ λεγόντων· «εἰ μὲν οὐκ ἐμοιχεύθης, ἄρρεν τέκοις, εἰ δ’ οὖν, θῆλυ.»

17 “And among the Germanoi, the Rhênos tests this: for if a child is immersed in it, if it was the product of adultery, it dies, if not, it lives.”

 Καὶ παρὰ Γερμανοῖς ὁ ῾Ρῆνος ἐλέγχει· ἐμβληθὲν γὰρ τὸ παιδίον εἰ μὲν μοιχευθείσης ἐστί, θνῄσκει, εἰ δ’ οὐ, ζῇ.

24 “The Keltoi, whenever there is scarcity or a famine, punish their women as if they are to blame for the evils.”

Οἱ Κελτοί, ὅταν ἢ ἀφορία ἢ λοιμὸς γένηται, τὰς γυναῖκας αὐτῶν κολάζουσιν ὡς αἰτίας τῶν κακῶν.

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Splendor Solis “(Germany, 1582), British Library, London.

Or

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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.

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Apollo with Crow (or Raven), 5th Century BCE

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)

Tawdry Tuesday, Medicinal Edition: Priapic Ponds and Neuter Roots

The following two passages are from the Mirabilia of Apollonius the Paradoxographer (usually dated to the 2nd Century BCE, making him one of the earliest extant paradoxographers).

This plant makes you bigger [=BNJ 81 F17]

“Phularkhos writes in the eighth book of his Histories that near the Arabian Gulf there is a spring of water from which if anyone ever anoints their feet what transpires miraculously is that their penis becomes enormously erect.  For some it never contracts completely, while others are put back in shape with great suffering and medical attention.”

14 Φύλαρχος ἐν τῇ η′ τῶν ἱστοριῶν [καὶ] κατὰ τὸν ᾿Αράβιόν φησι κόλπον πηγὴν εἶναι ὕδατος, ἐξ οὗ εἴ τις τοὺς πόδας χρίσειεν, συμβαίνειν εὐθέως ἐντείνεσθαι ἐπὶ πολὺ τὸ αἰδοῖον, καί τινων μὲν μηδ’ ὅλως συστέλλεσθαι, τινῶν δὲ μετὰ μεγάλης κακοπαθείας καὶ θεραπείας ἀποκαθίστασθαι.

This plant makes you smaller [=BNJ 81 F35a]

“Phularkhos in book 20 of the Histories says that there is a white root imported from India which when [people] cut it and smear it over their feet with water, those who are smeared with it experience forgetfulness of sex and become similar to Eunuchs. For this reason still some apply it before they are fully adults and are not aroused for the rest of their life.”

18 Φύλαρχος ἐν <τῇ> κ′ τῶν ἱστοριῶν ἐκ τῆς ᾿Ινδικῆς φησιν ἐνεχθῆναι λευκὴν ῥίζαν, ἣν κόπτοντας μεθ’ ὕδατος καταπλάττειν τοὺς πόδας, τοὺς δὲ καταπλασθέντας ἄνδρας τῆς συνουσίας λήθην ἴσχειν καὶ γίγνεσθαι ὁμοίους εὐνούχοις. διὸ καὶ ἔτι ἀνήβων ὄντων καταχρίουσι καὶ μέχρι θανάτου οὐκ ἐπαίρουσιν.

This anecdote has a later parallel from Athenaeus

Athenaeus, Deipn. 1.32 [=BNJ8135b]

“Phularkhos says that Sandrokottos, the king of the Indians, sent along with other gifts to Seleukos some drugs with erectile powers, the kind of which, when they are applied beneath feet of those who are going to have sex, give the the urge like birds, while some people lose their ability [for sex].”

Φύλαρχος δὲ Σανδρόκοττόν φησι τὸν ᾽Ινδῶν βασιλέα Σελεύκωι μεθ᾽ ὧν ἔπεμψε δώρων ἀποστεῖλαί τινας δυνάμεις στυτικὰς τοιαύτας ὡς ὑπὸ τοὺς πόδας τιθεμένας τῶν συνουσιαζόντων οἷς μὲν ὁρμὰς ἐμποιεῖν ὀρνίθων δίκην, οὓς δὲ καταπαύειν.

Phularkhos (Phylarchus) is an Athenian historian from the 3rd century BCE known for his love of anecdote and miraculous detail

Here is an ancient spell for erectile dysfunction (go here for translation note):

Magical Papyri, 7.185

“To be able to fuck a lot: mix fifty [pine nuts] with two measures of honey and seeds of pepper and drink it. To have an erection whenever you want: mix pepper with honey and rub it on your thing.”

Πολλὰ βι[ν]εῖν δύνασθαι· στροβίλια πεντήκοντα μετὰ δύο κυά[θ]ων γλυκέος καὶ κόκκους πεπέρεως τρίψας πίε. Στ[ύ]ειν, ὅτε θέλεις· πέπερι μετὰ μέλιτος τρίψας χρῖέ σου τὸ πρᾶ̣γ̣μ̣α.

Kyrie initial, Jean Courtois, Missa Domine quis habitabit, Bruges 1542 (Cambrai, BM, ms. 125B fol. 110r)
Kyrie initial, Jean Courtois, Missa Domine quis habitabit, Bruges 1542 (Cambrai, BM, ms. 125B fol. 110r)