Ritual Sacrifice and Lycanthropy: Pausanias for Werewolf Week

In the second century CE, Pausanias composed ten books on the sights and wonders of ancient Greece. His text provides some of the only accounts of architecture, art and culture that have been lost in intervening centuries.  In his eighth book, he turns to Arcadia and starts by discussing the rituals performed in honor of Lykian Zeus.

The story, mentioned by Plato too, is one of those ‘original sin’ tales from Greek myth–like the story of Tantalos and Pelops, it hearkens back to a golden age when gods and men hung out together. Its details about werewolves are similar to those offered by Pliny (especially the 9-10 year period as a wolf).

It turns out that recent archaeological studies may support human sacrifice at the site!

Hendrik Goltzius' 1589 engraving of Lycaon

Pausanias, 8.2.3-7

“Cecrops was the first to declare Zeus the Highest god and he thought it wrong to sacrifice anything that breathed, so he burned on the altar the local cakes which the Athenians call pelanoi even today. But Lykaon brought a human infant to the altar of Lykaian Zeus, sacrificed it, spread its blood on the altar, and then, according to the tale, turned immediately from a man into a wolf.

This tale convinces me for the following reasons: it has circulated among the Arcadians since antiquity and it also seems probable. For in those days men were guests and tablemates of the gods because of their just behavior and reverence. Those who were good received honor openly from the gods; divine rage fell upon the unjust—then, truly, gods were created from men, gods who have rites even today such as Aristaios, Britomartis the Cretan, Herakles the son of Alkmene, Amphiaros the son of Oicles and, finally, Kastor and Polydeukes.

For this reason we should entertain that Lykaon was turned into a beast and that Niobe became a stone. In our time, when wickedness has swelled to its greatest size and looms over every land and city, no god can come from men, except in the blandishment offered to rulers. Today, divine rage lies in wait for the wicked when they leave for the lower world.

In every age many ancient events—and even those that are current—end up disbelieved because of those who create lies by using the truth. Men report that since the time of Lykaon a man always transforms from a human into a wolf at the sacrifice of Lykaian Zeus, but that he doesn’t remain a wolf his whole life.  Whenever someone turns into a wolf, if he refrains from human flesh, people say he can become a man again ten years later. But if he does taste it, he will always remain a beast.”

ὁ μὲν γὰρ Δία τε ὠνόμασεν ῞Υπατον πρῶτος, καὶ ὁπόσα ἔχει ψυχήν, τούτων μὲν ἠξίωσεν οὐδὲν θῦσαι, πέμματα δὲ ἐπιχώρια ἐπὶ τοῦ βωμοῦ καθήγισεν, ἃ πελάνους καλοῦσιν ἔτι καὶ ἐς  ἡμᾶς ᾿Αθηναῖοι· Λυκάων δὲ ἐπὶ τὸν βωμὸν τοῦ Λυκαίου Διὸς βρέφος ἤνεγκεν ἀνθρώπου καὶ ἔθυσε τὸ βρέφος καὶ ἔσπεισεν ἐπὶ τοῦ βωμοῦ τὸ αἷμα, καὶ αὐτὸν αὐτίκα ἐπὶ τῇ θυσίᾳ γενέσθαι λύκον φασὶν ἀντὶ ἀνθρώπου.

καὶ ἐμέ γε ὁ λόγος οὗτος πείθει, λέγεται δὲ ὑπὸ ᾿Αρκάδων ἐκ παλαιοῦ, καὶ τὸ εἰκὸς αὐτῷ πρόσεστιν. οἱ γὰρ δὴ τότε ἄνθρωποι ξένοι καὶ ὁμοτράπεζοι θεοῖς ἦσαν ὑπὸ δικαιοσύνης καὶ εὐσεβείας, καί σφισιν ἐναργῶς ἀπήντα παρὰ τῶν θεῶν τιμή τε οὖσιν ἀγαθοῖς καὶ ἀδικήσασιν ὡσαύτως ἡ ὀργή, ἐπεί τοι καὶ θεοὶ τότε ἐγίνοντο ἐξ ἀνθρώπων, οἳ γέρα καὶ ἐς τόδε ἔτι ἔχουσιν ὡς ᾿Αρισταῖος καὶ Βριτόμαρτις ἡ Κρητικὴ καὶ ῾Ηρακλῆς ὁ ᾿Αλκμήνης καὶ ᾿Αμφιάραος ὁ ᾿Οικλέους, ἐπὶ δὲ αὐτοῖς Πολυδεύκης τε καὶ Κάστωρ.

οὕτω πείθοιτο ἄν τις καὶ Λυκάονα θηρίον καὶ τὴν Ταντάλου Νιόβην γενέσθαι λίθον. ἐπ’ ἐμοῦ δὲ—κακία γὰρ δὴ ἐπὶ πλεῖστον ηὔξετο καὶ γῆν τε ἐπενέμετο πᾶσαν καὶ πόλεις πάσας—οὔτε θεὸς ἐγίνετο οὐδεὶς ἔτι ἐξ ἀνθρώπου, πλὴν ὅσον λόγῳ καὶ κολακείᾳ πρὸς τὸ ὑπερέχον, καὶ ἀδίκοις τὸ μήνιμα τὸ ἐκ τῶν θεῶν ὀψέ τε καὶ ἀπελθοῦσιν ἐνθένδε ἀπόκειται. ἐν δὲ τῷ παντὶ αἰῶνι πολλὰ μὲν πάλαι συμβάντα, <τὰ> δὲ καὶ ἔτι γινόμενα ἄπιστα εἶναι πεποιήκασιν ἐς τοὺς πολλοὺς οἱ τοῖς ἀληθέσιν ἐποικοδομοῦντες ἐψευσμένα. λέγουσι γὰρ δὴ ὡς Λυκάονος ὕστερον ἀεί τις ἐξ ἀνθρώπου λύκος γίνοιτο ἐπὶ τῇ θυσίᾳ τοῦ Λυκαίου Διός, γίνοιτο δὲ οὐκ ἐς ἅπαντα τὸν βίον· ὁπότε δὲ εἴη λύκος, εἰ μὲν κρεῶν ἀπόσχοιτο ἀνθρωπίνων, ὕστερον ἔτει δεκάτῳ  φασὶν αὐτὸν αὖθις ἄνθρωπον ἐκ λύκου γίνεσθαι, γευσάμενον δὲ ἐς ἀεὶ μένειν θηρίον.

Ritual Sacrifice and Lycanthropy: Pausanias for Werewolf Week

In the second century CE, Pausanias composed ten books on the sights and wonders of ancient Greece. His text provides some of the only accounts of architecture, art and culture that have been lost in intervening centuries.  In his eighth book, he turns to Arcadia and starts by discussing the rituals performed in honor of Lykian Zeus.

The story, mentioned by Plato too, is one of those ‘original sin’ tales from Greek myth–like the story of Tantalos and Pelops, it hearkens back to a golden age when gods and men hung out together. Its details about werewolves are similar to those offered by Pliny (especially the 9-10 year period as a wolf).

It turns out that recent archaeological studies may support human sacrifice at the site!

Hendrik Goltzius' 1589 engraving of Lycaon

Pausanias, 8.2.3-7

“Cecrops was the first to declare Zeus the Highest god and he thought it wrong to sacrifice anything that breathed, so he burned on the altar the local cakes which the Athenians call pelanoi even today. But Lykaon brought a human infant to the altar of Lykaian Zeus, sacrificed it, spread its blood on the altar, and then, according to the tale, turned immediately from a man into a wolf.

This tale convinces me for the following reasons: it has circulated among the Arcadians since antiquity and it also seems probable. For in those days men were guests and tablemates of the gods because of their just behavior and reverence. Those who were good received honor openly from the gods; divine rage fell upon the unjust—then, truly, gods were created from men, gods who have rites even today such as Aristaios, Britomartis the Cretan, Herakles the son of Alkmene, Amphiaros the son of Oicles and, finally, Kastor and Polydeukes.

For this reason we should entertain that Lykaon was turned into a beast and that Niobe became a stone. In our time, when wickedness has swelled to its greatest size and looms over every land and city, no god can come from men, except in the blandishment offered to rulers. Today, divine rage lies in wait for the wicked when they leave for the lower world.

In every age many ancient events—and even those that are current—end up disbelieved because of those who create lies by using the truth. Men report that since the time of Lykaon a man always transforms from a human into a wolf at the sacrifice of Lykaian Zeus, but that he doesn’t remain a wolf his whole life.  Whenever someone turns into a wolf, if he refrains from human flesh, people say he can become a man again ten years later. But if he does taste it, he will always remain a beast.”

ὁ μὲν γὰρ Δία τε ὠνόμασεν ῞Υπατον πρῶτος, καὶ ὁπόσα ἔχει ψυχήν, τούτων μὲν ἠξίωσεν οὐδὲν θῦσαι, πέμματα δὲ ἐπιχώρια ἐπὶ τοῦ βωμοῦ καθήγισεν, ἃ πελάνους καλοῦσιν ἔτι καὶ ἐς  ἡμᾶς ᾿Αθηναῖοι· Λυκάων δὲ ἐπὶ τὸν βωμὸν τοῦ Λυκαίου Διὸς βρέφος ἤνεγκεν ἀνθρώπου καὶ ἔθυσε τὸ βρέφος καὶ ἔσπεισεν ἐπὶ τοῦ βωμοῦ τὸ αἷμα, καὶ αὐτὸν αὐτίκα ἐπὶ τῇ θυσίᾳ γενέσθαι λύκον φασὶν ἀντὶ ἀνθρώπου.

καὶ ἐμέ γε ὁ λόγος οὗτος πείθει, λέγεται δὲ ὑπὸ ᾿Αρκάδων ἐκ παλαιοῦ, καὶ τὸ εἰκὸς αὐτῷ πρόσεστιν. οἱ γὰρ δὴ τότε ἄνθρωποι ξένοι καὶ ὁμοτράπεζοι θεοῖς ἦσαν ὑπὸ δικαιοσύνης καὶ εὐσεβείας, καί σφισιν ἐναργῶς ἀπήντα παρὰ τῶν θεῶν τιμή τε οὖσιν ἀγαθοῖς καὶ ἀδικήσασιν ὡσαύτως ἡ ὀργή, ἐπεί τοι καὶ θεοὶ τότε ἐγίνοντο ἐξ ἀνθρώπων, οἳ γέρα καὶ ἐς τόδε ἔτι ἔχουσιν ὡς ᾿Αρισταῖος καὶ Βριτόμαρτις ἡ Κρητικὴ καὶ ῾Ηρακλῆς ὁ ᾿Αλκμήνης καὶ ᾿Αμφιάραος ὁ ᾿Οικλέους, ἐπὶ δὲ αὐτοῖς Πολυδεύκης τε καὶ Κάστωρ.

οὕτω πείθοιτο ἄν τις καὶ Λυκάονα θηρίον καὶ τὴν Ταντάλου Νιόβην γενέσθαι λίθον. ἐπ’ ἐμοῦ δὲ—κακία γὰρ δὴ ἐπὶ πλεῖστον ηὔξετο καὶ γῆν τε ἐπενέμετο πᾶσαν καὶ πόλεις πάσας—οὔτε θεὸς ἐγίνετο οὐδεὶς ἔτι ἐξ ἀνθρώπου, πλὴν ὅσον λόγῳ καὶ κολακείᾳ πρὸς τὸ ὑπερέχον, καὶ ἀδίκοις τὸ μήνιμα τὸ ἐκ τῶν θεῶν ὀψέ τε καὶ ἀπελθοῦσιν ἐνθένδε ἀπόκειται. ἐν δὲ τῷ παντὶ αἰῶνι πολλὰ μὲν πάλαι συμβάντα, <τὰ> δὲ καὶ ἔτι γινόμενα ἄπιστα εἶναι πεποιήκασιν ἐς τοὺς πολλοὺς οἱ τοῖς ἀληθέσιν ἐποικοδομοῦντες ἐψευσμένα. λέγουσι γὰρ δὴ ὡς Λυκάονος ὕστερον ἀεί τις ἐξ ἀνθρώπου λύκος γίνοιτο ἐπὶ τῇ θυσίᾳ τοῦ Λυκαίου Διός, γίνοιτο δὲ οὐκ ἐς ἅπαντα τὸν βίον· ὁπότε δὲ εἴη λύκος, εἰ μὲν κρεῶν ἀπόσχοιτο ἀνθρωπίνων, ὕστερον ἔτει δεκάτῳ  φασὶν αὐτὸν αὖθις ἄνθρωπον ἐκ λύκου γίνεσθαι, γευσάμενον δὲ ἐς ἀεὶ μένειν θηρίον.

Ritual Sacrifice and Lycanthropy: Pausanias for Werewolf Week

In the second century CE, Pausanias composed ten books on the sights and wonders of ancient Greece. His text provides some of the only accounts of architecture, art and culture that have been lost in intervening centuries.  In his eighth book, he turns to Arcadia and starts by discussing the rituals performed in honor of Lykian Zeus.

The story, mentioned by Plato too, is one of those ‘original sin’ tales from Greek myth–like the story of Tantalos and Pelops, it hearkens back to a golden age when gods and men hung out together. Its details about werewolves are similar to those offered by Pliny (especially the 9-10 year period as a wolf).

It turns out that recent archaeological studies may support human sacrifice at the site!

Hendrik Goltzius' 1589 engraving of Lycaon

Pausanias, 8.2.3-7

“Cecrops was the first to declare Zeus the Highest god and he thought it wrong to sacrifice anything that breathed, so he burned on the altar the local cakes which the Athenians call pelanoi even today. But Lykaon brought a human infant to the altar of Lykaian Zeus, sacrificed it, spread its blood on the altar, and then, according to the tale, turned immediately from a man into a wolf.

This tale convinces me for the following reasons: it has circulated among the Arcadians since antiquity and it also seems probable. For in those days men were guests and tablemates of the gods because of their just behavior and reverence. Those who were good received honor openly from the gods; divine rage fell upon the unjust—then, truly, gods were created from men, gods who have rites even today such as Aristaios, Britomartis the Cretan, Herakles the son of Alkmene, Amphiaros the son of Oicles and, finally, Kastor and Polydeukes.

For this reason we should entertain that Lykaon was turned into a beast and that Niobe became a stone. In our time, when wickedness has swelled to its greatest size and looms over every land and city, no god can come from men, except in the blandishment offered to rulers. Today, divine rage lies in wait for the wicked when they leave for the lower world.

In every age many ancient events—and even those that are current—end up disbelieved because of those who create lies by using the truth. Men report that since the time of Lykaon a man always transforms from a human into a wolf at the sacrifice of Lykaian Zeus, but that he doesn’t remain a wolf his whole life.  Whenever someone turns into a wolf, if he refrains from human flesh, people say he can become a man again ten years later. But if he does taste it, he will always remain a beast.”

ὁ μὲν γὰρ Δία τε ὠνόμασεν ῞Υπατον πρῶτος, καὶ ὁπόσα ἔχει ψυχήν, τούτων μὲν ἠξίωσεν οὐδὲν θῦσαι, πέμματα δὲ ἐπιχώρια ἐπὶ τοῦ βωμοῦ καθήγισεν, ἃ πελάνους καλοῦσιν ἔτι καὶ ἐς  ἡμᾶς ᾿Αθηναῖοι· Λυκάων δὲ ἐπὶ τὸν βωμὸν τοῦ Λυκαίου Διὸς βρέφος ἤνεγκεν ἀνθρώπου καὶ ἔθυσε τὸ βρέφος καὶ ἔσπεισεν ἐπὶ τοῦ βωμοῦ τὸ αἷμα, καὶ αὐτὸν αὐτίκα ἐπὶ τῇ θυσίᾳ γενέσθαι λύκον φασὶν ἀντὶ ἀνθρώπου.

καὶ ἐμέ γε ὁ λόγος οὗτος πείθει, λέγεται δὲ ὑπὸ ᾿Αρκάδων ἐκ παλαιοῦ, καὶ τὸ εἰκὸς αὐτῷ πρόσεστιν. οἱ γὰρ δὴ τότε ἄνθρωποι ξένοι καὶ ὁμοτράπεζοι θεοῖς ἦσαν ὑπὸ δικαιοσύνης καὶ εὐσεβείας, καί σφισιν ἐναργῶς ἀπήντα παρὰ τῶν θεῶν τιμή τε οὖσιν ἀγαθοῖς καὶ ἀδικήσασιν ὡσαύτως ἡ ὀργή, ἐπεί τοι καὶ θεοὶ τότε ἐγίνοντο ἐξ ἀνθρώπων, οἳ γέρα καὶ ἐς τόδε ἔτι ἔχουσιν ὡς ᾿Αρισταῖος καὶ Βριτόμαρτις ἡ Κρητικὴ καὶ ῾Ηρακλῆς ὁ ᾿Αλκμήνης καὶ ᾿Αμφιάραος ὁ ᾿Οικλέους, ἐπὶ δὲ αὐτοῖς Πολυδεύκης τε καὶ Κάστωρ.

οὕτω πείθοιτο ἄν τις καὶ Λυκάονα θηρίον καὶ τὴν Ταντάλου Νιόβην γενέσθαι λίθον. ἐπ’ ἐμοῦ δὲ—κακία γὰρ δὴ ἐπὶ πλεῖστον ηὔξετο καὶ γῆν τε ἐπενέμετο πᾶσαν καὶ πόλεις πάσας—οὔτε θεὸς ἐγίνετο οὐδεὶς ἔτι ἐξ ἀνθρώπου, πλὴν ὅσον λόγῳ καὶ κολακείᾳ πρὸς τὸ ὑπερέχον, καὶ ἀδίκοις τὸ μήνιμα τὸ ἐκ τῶν θεῶν ὀψέ τε καὶ ἀπελθοῦσιν ἐνθένδε ἀπόκειται. ἐν δὲ τῷ παντὶ αἰῶνι πολλὰ μὲν πάλαι συμβάντα, <τὰ> δὲ καὶ ἔτι γινόμενα ἄπιστα εἶναι πεποιήκασιν ἐς τοὺς πολλοὺς οἱ τοῖς ἀληθέσιν ἐποικοδομοῦντες ἐψευσμένα. λέγουσι γὰρ δὴ ὡς Λυκάονος ὕστερον ἀεί τις ἐξ ἀνθρώπου λύκος γίνοιτο ἐπὶ τῇ θυσίᾳ τοῦ Λυκαίου Διός, γίνοιτο δὲ οὐκ ἐς ἅπαντα τὸν βίον· ὁπότε δὲ εἴη λύκος, εἰ μὲν κρεῶν ἀπόσχοιτο ἀνθρωπίνων, ὕστερον ἔτει δεκάτῳ  φασὶν αὐτὸν αὖθις ἄνθρωπον ἐκ λύκου γίνεσθαι, γευσάμενον δὲ ἐς ἀεὶ μένειν θηρίον.

Ritual Sacrifice and Lycanthropy: Pausanias for Werewolf Week

In the second century CE, Pausanias composed ten books on the sights and wonders of ancient Greece. His text provides some of the only accounts of architecture, art and culture that have been lost in intervening centuries.  In his eighth book, he turns to Arcadia and starts by discussing the rituals performed in honor of Lykian Zeus.

The story, mentioned by Plato too, is one of those ‘original sin’ tales from Greek myth–like the story of Tantalos and Pelops, it hearkens back to a golden age when gods and men hung out together. Its details about werewolves are similar to those offered by Pliny (especially the 9-10 year period as a wolf).

It turns out that recent archaeological studies may support human sacrifice at the site!

Hendrik Goltzius' 1589 engraving of Lycaon

Pausanias, 8.2.3-7

“Cecrops was the first to declare Zeus the Highest god and he thought it wrong to sacrifice anything that breathed, so he burned on the altar the local cakes which the Athenians call pelanoi even today. But Lykaon brought a human infant to the altar of Lykaian Zeus, sacrificed it, spread its blood on the altar, and then, according to the tale, turned immediately from a man into a wolf.

This tale convinces me for the following reasons: it has circulated among the Arcadians since antiquity and it also seems probable. For in those days men were guests and tablemates of the gods because of their just behavior and reverence. Those who were good received honor openly from the gods; divine rage fell upon the unjust—then, truly, gods were created from men, gods who have rites even today such as Aristaios, Britomartis the Cretan, Herakles the son of Alkmene, Amphiaros the son of Oicles and, finally, Kastor and Polydeukes.

For this reason we should entertain that Lykaon was turned into a beast and that Niobe became a stone. In our time, when wickedness has swelled to its greatest size and looms over every land and city, no god can come from men, except in the blandishment offered to rulers. Today, divine rage lies in wait for the wicked when they leave for the lower world.

In every age many ancient events—and even those that are current—end up disbelieved because of those who create lies by using the truth. Men report that since the time of Lykaon a man always transforms from a human into a wolf at the sacrifice of Lykaian Zeus, but that he doesn’t remain a wolf his whole life.  Whenever someone turns into a wolf, if he refrains from human flesh, people say he can become a man again ten years later. But if he does taste it, he will always remain a beast.”

ὁ μὲν γὰρ Δία τε ὠνόμασεν ῞Υπατον πρῶτος, καὶ ὁπόσα ἔχει ψυχήν, τούτων μὲν ἠξίωσεν οὐδὲν θῦσαι, πέμματα δὲ ἐπιχώρια ἐπὶ τοῦ βωμοῦ καθήγισεν, ἃ πελάνους καλοῦσιν ἔτι καὶ ἐς  ἡμᾶς ᾿Αθηναῖοι· Λυκάων δὲ ἐπὶ τὸν βωμὸν τοῦ Λυκαίου Διὸς βρέφος ἤνεγκεν ἀνθρώπου καὶ ἔθυσε τὸ βρέφος καὶ ἔσπεισεν ἐπὶ τοῦ βωμοῦ τὸ αἷμα, καὶ αὐτὸν αὐτίκα ἐπὶ τῇ θυσίᾳ γενέσθαι λύκον φασὶν ἀντὶ ἀνθρώπου.

καὶ ἐμέ γε ὁ λόγος οὗτος πείθει, λέγεται δὲ ὑπὸ ᾿Αρκάδων ἐκ παλαιοῦ, καὶ τὸ εἰκὸς αὐτῷ πρόσεστιν. οἱ γὰρ δὴ τότε ἄνθρωποι ξένοι καὶ ὁμοτράπεζοι θεοῖς ἦσαν ὑπὸ δικαιοσύνης καὶ εὐσεβείας, καί σφισιν ἐναργῶς ἀπήντα παρὰ τῶν θεῶν τιμή τε οὖσιν ἀγαθοῖς καὶ ἀδικήσασιν ὡσαύτως ἡ ὀργή, ἐπεί τοι καὶ θεοὶ τότε ἐγίνοντο ἐξ ἀνθρώπων, οἳ γέρα καὶ ἐς τόδε ἔτι ἔχουσιν ὡς ᾿Αρισταῖος καὶ Βριτόμαρτις ἡ Κρητικὴ καὶ ῾Ηρακλῆς ὁ ᾿Αλκμήνης καὶ ᾿Αμφιάραος ὁ ᾿Οικλέους, ἐπὶ δὲ αὐτοῖς Πολυδεύκης τε καὶ Κάστωρ.

οὕτω πείθοιτο ἄν τις καὶ Λυκάονα θηρίον καὶ τὴν Ταντάλου Νιόβην γενέσθαι λίθον. ἐπ’ ἐμοῦ δὲ—κακία γὰρ δὴ ἐπὶ πλεῖστον ηὔξετο καὶ γῆν τε ἐπενέμετο πᾶσαν καὶ πόλεις πάσας—οὔτε θεὸς ἐγίνετο οὐδεὶς ἔτι ἐξ ἀνθρώπου, πλὴν ὅσον λόγῳ καὶ κολακείᾳ πρὸς τὸ ὑπερέχον, καὶ ἀδίκοις τὸ μήνιμα τὸ ἐκ τῶν θεῶν ὀψέ τε καὶ ἀπελθοῦσιν ἐνθένδε ἀπόκειται. ἐν δὲ τῷ παντὶ αἰῶνι πολλὰ μὲν πάλαι συμβάντα, <τὰ> δὲ καὶ ἔτι γινόμενα ἄπιστα εἶναι πεποιήκασιν ἐς τοὺς πολλοὺς οἱ τοῖς ἀληθέσιν ἐποικοδομοῦντες ἐψευσμένα. λέγουσι γὰρ δὴ ὡς Λυκάονος ὕστερον ἀεί τις ἐξ ἀνθρώπου λύκος γίνοιτο ἐπὶ τῇ θυσίᾳ τοῦ Λυκαίου Διός, γίνοιτο δὲ οὐκ ἐς ἅπαντα τὸν βίον· ὁπότε δὲ εἴη λύκος, εἰ μὲν κρεῶν ἀπόσχοιτο ἀνθρωπίνων, ὕστερον ἔτει δεκάτῳ  φασὶν αὐτὸν αὖθις ἄνθρωπον ἐκ λύκου γίνεσθαι, γευσάμενον δὲ ἐς ἀεὶ μένειν θηρίον.

The Fantastic Dog-headed People of India

There are remnants of three Indika (‘History of India’) from ancient Greece. The oldest is attributed to a Kteisias of Knidos (Ctesias of Cnidus) who is said to have traveled with the failed rebellion of Cyrus (the same trip as Xenophon). He gathered his account from stories the Persians told.  The following is taken from the summary made by the Byzantine scholar Photius in his Bibliotheca.

(There is a translation available free here. It leaves out anything about menstruation and sex.)

 

Ctesias, Indica (fragments From Photius’ Bibliotheca, Codex 72 47b-48b)

Appearance, Language, and Population

“On these mountains he says there are men who have a dog’s head. They wear clothing from wild animals. They do not speak with a voice, but they bark like dogs and thus understand one another. They have larger teeth than a dog and have claws similar to them but they are larger and rounder as well. They live in the mountains near the river Indus. They are dark-skinned and are completely just, just like the rest of the Indians they encounter. They know the language of the other Indians but they cannot speak it—instead they just make signs by barking or with their hands and digits like the deaf. They are called Kalustrioi by the Indians, which equates to Kunokephaloi among the Greeks [“Dog-heads”]. There tribe is almost 120,000 strong.”

᾿Εν τοῖσδε τοῖς ὄρεσί φασιν ἀνθρώπους βιοτεύειν κυνὸς ἔχοντας κεφαλήν· ἐσθῆτας δὲ φοροῦσιν ἐκ τῶν ἀγρίων θηρίων, φωνὴν δὲ διαλέγονται οὐδεμίαν, ἀλλ’ὠρύονται, ὥσπερ κύνες, καὶ οὕτω συνιᾶσιν αὑτῶν τὴν φωνήν. ᾿Οδόντας δὲ μείζους ἔχουσι κυνός, καὶ τοὺς ὄνυχας ὁμοίους κυνός, μακροτέρους δὲ καὶ στρογγυλωτέρους. Οἰκοῦσι δὲ ἐν τοῖς ὄρεσι μέχρι τοῦ ᾿Ινδοῦ ποταμοῦ, μέλανες δέ εἰσι καὶ δίκαιοι πάνυ, ὥσπερ καὶ οἱ ἄλλοι  ᾿Ινδοί, οἷς καὶ ἐπιμίγνυνται καὶ συνιᾶσι μὲν τὰ παρ’ ἐκείνων λεγόμενα, αὐτοὶ δὲ οὐ δύνανται διαλέγεσθαι, ἀλλὰ τῇ ὠρυγῇ καὶ ταῖς χερσὶ καὶ τοῖς δακτύλοις σημαίνουσιν, ὥσπερ οἱ κωφοί· καλοῦνται δὲ ὑπὸ τῶν᾿Ινδῶν Καλύστριοι, ὅπερ ἑλληνιστὶ Κυνοκέφαλοι· τὸ δὲ ἔθνος ἐστὶν ἕως δώδεκα μυριάδων.

doghead

Economics (Codex, 48b)

[Ctesias] says that the Kunokephalai who live in the mountains do not work the land but instead live by hunting. When they kill their prey, they cook it in the sun. They do tend many sheep, goats, and donkeys. They drink milk and milk-whey from sheep, and they eat the fruit of the Siptakhora which yields sweet amber. They dry this as well and store it in baskets in the way the Greeks store raisins. The Kunokephaloi build rafts, load them and send them as tribute which includes the amber, prepared purple flowers with 260 talents of amber annually and as much purple die and they send 1000 more talents as annual tribute for the king. The rest of the amber they sell to Indians for bread, grain, cotton. They also buy swords which they use in hunting for their quarry along with bows and javelins. For they are extremely talented at throwing javelins and shooting arrows. They are invincible in war because they inhabit mountains that are unreachable and high. The king gives them gifts every five years: 300,000 bows, the same number of spears, 120,000 shields, and 50,000 swords.”

῞Οτι οἱ Κυνοκέφαλοι οἰκοῦντες ἐν τοῖς ὄρεσιν οὐκ ἐργάζονται, ἀπὸ θήρας δὲ ζῶσιν· ὅταν δ’ ἀποκτείνωσιν αὐτά, ὀπτῶσι πρὸς τὸν ἥλιον. Τρέφουσι δὲ καὶπρόβατα πολλὰ καὶ αἶγας καὶ ὄνους. Πίνουσι δὲ γάλα καὶ ὀξύγαλα τῶν προβάτων, ἐσθίουσι δὲ καὶ τὸν καρπὸν τοῦ σιπταχόρου, ἀφ’ οὗ τὸ ἤλεκτρον (γλυκὺς γάρ), καὶ ξηραίνοντες αὐτούς, σπυρίδας συσσάσσουσιν ὥσπερ ἐν τοῖς ῞Ελλησι τὴν ἀσταφίδα. Οἱ δὲ Κυνοκέφαλοι, σχεδίαν ποιησάμενοι καὶ ἐπιθέντες, ἀπάγουσι  φόρτον τούτου, καὶ τῆς πορφύρας τὸ ἄνθος καθαρὸν ποιήσαντες, καὶ τοῦ ἠλέκτρου ξ′ καὶ ς′ τάλαντα τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ, καὶ ὅτῳ τὸ φοινίκιον βάπτεται τοῦ φαρμάκου ἕτερα τοσαῦτα, καὶ ἠλέκτρου χίλια τάλαντα, ἀπάγουσι κατ’ ἐνιαυτὸν τῷ ᾿Ινδῶν βασιλεῖ. Καὶ ἕτερα δὲ κατάγοντες πωλοῦσι τοῖς ᾿Ινδοῖς πρὸς ἄρτους καὶ ἄλφιτα καὶ ξύλινα ἱμάτια· πωλοῦσι δὲ καὶ ξίφη οἷς χρῶνται πρὸς τὴν τῶν θηρίων ἄγραν, καὶ τόξα καὶἀκόντια· πάνυ γὰρ καὶ δεινοί εἰσιν ἀκοντίζειν καὶ τοξεύειν· ἀπολέμητοι δ’ εἰσὶ διὰ τὸ οἰκεῖν αὐτοὺς ὄρεα ἄβατα καὶ ὑψηλά. Δίδωσι δὲ αὐτοῖς διὰ πέμπτου ἔτους δῶρα ὁ βασιλεὺς λ′ μὲν μυριάδας τόξων, καὶ ἀκοντίων τοσαύτας, πελτῶν δὲ δώδεκα, καὶ ξίφη δὲ πεντακισμύρια.

 

Living Arrangements, Wealth, and Sexual Mores

“The Kunokephaloi do not live in houses but inhabit caves. They hunt wild animals with bows, javelins and they overcome some by running. For they run quickly. The women wash themselves once a month whenever they have their periods, but not otherwise. The men do not wash themselves but they do wash their hands. They anoint themselves with oil made from milk and they wipe themselves with skins. They do not have hairy raiment, but the women and the men wear skins that are well-tanned. The wealthiest wear linen, but there are very few. They do not have beds, but they made piles of straw. The man who has the most sheep is considered the wealthiest. The case is similar with their other possessions. All of them have tails which sit above their hips like dogs, but they are longer and harrier. The have sex with the females on four-feet, just like dogs. It is considered shameful to have sex in any other way. They are just and they are the most long-lived of all men: they live 170 and even 200 years.”

Τούτοις τοῖς κυνοκεφάλοις οὐκ εἴσιν οἰκίαι, ἀλλ’ ἐν σπηλαίοις διαιτῶνται. Θηρεύουσι δὲ τὰ θηρία τοξεύοντες, ἀκοντίζοντες, καὶ διώκοντες καταλαμβάνουσι· ταχὺ γὰρ τρέχουσι.Λούονται δὲ αἱ γυναῖκες αὐτῶν ἅπαξ τοῦ μηνός, ὅταν τὰ καταμήνια αὐταῖς ἔλθῃ, ἄλλοτε δ’ οὔ· οἱ δὲ ἄνδρες οὐ λούονται μέν, τὰς δὲ χεῖρας ἀπονίζονται, ἐλαίῳ δὲ χρίονται τρὶς τοῦ μηνὸς τῷ ἀπὸ τοῦ γάλακτος γινομένῳ, καὶ ἐκτρίβονται δέρμασι. Τὴν δὲ ἐσθῆτα ἔχουσιν οὐ δασείαν, ἀλλὰ ψιλῶν τῶν μασθλημάτων ὡς λεπτοτάτων καὶ αὐτοὶ καὶ αἱ γυναῖκες αὐτῶν· οἱ δὲ πλουσιώτατοι αὐτῶν λίνα φοροῦσιν. Οὗτοι δ’ εἰσὶν ὀλίγοι. Κλῖναι δὲ αὐτοῖς οὐκ εἴσιν, ἀλλὰ στιβάδας ποιοῦνται. Οὗτος δ’ αὐτῶν πλουσιώτατος νομίζεται εἶναι ᾧ ἂν πλεῖστα πρόβατα ᾖ· ἡ δὲ ἄλλη οὐσία παραπλησία. Οὐρὰν δὲ ἔχουσι πάντες καὶ ἄνδρες καὶ γυναῖκες ὑπὲρ τῶν ἰσχίων οἵανπερ κύων, μείζονα δὲ καὶ δασυτέραν· καὶ μίσγονται ταῖς γυναιξὶ τετραποδιστί, ὥσπερ οἱ κύνες· ἄλλως δὲ μιγῆναι αὐτοῖς ἐστιν αἰσχρόν. Δίκαιοι δέ εἰσι καὶ μακροβιώτατοι πάντων ἀνθρώπων· ζῶσι γὰρ ἔτη ρ′ καὶ ο′, ἔνιοι δὲ αὐτῶν καὶ διακόσια.

“The Wise Men Live Their Lives Naked” –A Greek History of India

Arrian on Indian castes, Part 1:

Arrian, Historia Indica 11

‘All Indians are split into seven separate kinds [castes]. One among them is the class of the wise men, fewer in count than the others, but most revered by reputation and in honor. For they are not compelled to do physical labor nor to offer anything from the work they do to the common good. Nor, in fact, is there a need for the wise men to do anything but sacrifice to the gods for the common good of India. Whenever someone sacrifices for private matters, one of the wise men assists in the sacrifice because men cannot make satisfactory sacrifices to the gods otherwise. In addition, these men are the only Indians skilled in prophecy—it is not permitted for anyone to prophesy unless he is of the sophistic class. They perform divination for each part of the seasons of a year and if any calamity threatens the public good. They do not concern themselves with divination for private matters, either because they are not moved to prophesy for minor affairs or because these kinds of things are not worthy of their labor. Whoever makes a mistaken prophecy three times receives no other evil than the fact that he is forced to be silent for the rest of his life. There is no one who can compel this man to speak once he has been assigned silence. The wise men live their lives naked, under the sun during the winter but during the summer, when the sun oppresses, they move to the meadows and the shade under great trees whose shape Nearchus claims extends in a circle 500 feet wide which could accommodate 10,000 men with shade. They eat seasonal fruit and the bark of trees which is no less nourishing and satisfying than dates.”

Triumph of Dionysos in India

 

νενέμηνται δὲ οἱ πάντες ᾿Ινδοὶ ἐς ἑπτὰ μάλιστα γένεα. ἓν μὲν αὐτοῖσιν οἱ σοφισταί εἰσι, πλήθει μὲν μείους τῶν ἄλλων, δόξῃ δὲ καὶ τιμῇ γεραρώτατοι· οὔτε γάρ τι τῷ σώματι ἐργάζεσθαι ἀναγκαίη σφιν προσκέαται οὔτε τι  ἀποφέρειν ἀφ’ ὅτων πονέουσιν ἐς τὸ κοινόν. οὐδέ τι ἄλλο ἀνάγκης ἁπλῶς ἐπεῖναι τοῖς σοφιστῇσιν, ὅτι μὴ θύειν τὰς θυσίας τοῖσι θεοῖσιν ὑπὲρ τοῦ κοινοῦ <τῶν> ᾿Ινδῶν· καὶ ὅστις δὲ ἰδίᾳ θύει, ἐξηγητὴς αὐτῷ τῆς θυσίης τῶν τις σοφιστῶν τούτων γίνεται, ὡς οὐκ ἂν ἄλλως κεχαρισμένα τοῖς θεοῖς θύσαντας. εἰσὶ δὲ καὶ μαντικῆς οὗτοι μοῦνοι ᾿Ινδῶν δαήμονες, οὐδὲ ἐφεῖται ἄλλῳ μαντεύεσθαι ὅτι μὴ σοφιστῇ ἀνδρί. μαντεύονται δὲ ὅσα ὑπὲρ τῶν ὡρέων τοῦ ἔτεος καὶ εἴ τις ἐς τὸ κοινὸν συμφορὴ καταλαμβάνει· τὰ ἴδια <δὲ> ἑκάστοισιν οὔ σφιν μέλει μαντεύεσθαι, ὡς οὐκ ἐξικνεομένης τῆς μαντικῆς ἐς τὰ μικρότερα ἢ ὡς οὐκ ἄξιον <ὂν> ἐπὶ τούτοισι πονέεσθαι. ὅστις δὲ ἁμάρτοι ἐς τρὶς μαντευσάμενος, τούτῳ δὲ ἄλλο μὲν κακὸν γίνεσθαι οὐδέν, σιωπᾶν δὲ εἶναι ἐπάναγκες τοῦ λοιποῦ· καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ὅστις ἐξαναγκάσει τὸν ἄνδρα τοῦτον φωνῆσαι, ὅτου ἡ σιωπὴ κατακέκριται. οὗτοι γυμνοὶ διαιτῶνται οἱ σοφισταί, τοῦ μὲν χειμῶνος ὑπαίθριοι ἐν τῷ ἡλίῳ, τοῦ δὲ θέρεος, ἐπὴν ὁ ἥλιος κατέχῃ, ἐν τοῖς λειμῶσι καὶ τοῖσιν ἕλεσιν ὑπὸ δένδρεσι μεγάλοισιν, ὧν τὴν σκιὴν Νέαρχος λέγει ἐς πέντε πλέθρα ἐν κύκλῳ ἐξικνέεσθαι, καὶ ἂν καὶ μυρίους ἀνθρώπους ὑπὸ ἑνὶ δένδρεϊ σκιάζεσθαι· τηλικαῦτα εἶναι ταῦτα τὰ δένδρεα. σιτέονται δὲ <τὰ> ὡραῖα καὶ τὸν φλοιὸν τῶν δένδρων, γλυκύν τε ὄντα τὸν φλοιὸν καὶ τρόφιμον οὐ μεῖον ἤπερ αἱ βάλανοι τῶν φοινίκων.

A Nice Story About Zeus and Hera?

Pausanias (2.17.4) describes a statue in a temple to Hera outside of Corinth:

 

“The statue of Hera—extraordinarily huge—sits on a throne made of gold and ivory, a work of Polykleitos. She has a crown embossed with Graces and the Seasons and carries in one hand a pomegranate fruit and in the other a scepter. I must pass over the reason for the pomegranate, since the tale is protected by sacred rite. But people say that the cuckoo bird sitting on the scepter is Zeus: because he was in love with Hera when she was a maiden and turned himself into this bird which she hunted to have as a pet. I record this story as much as the others of the gods which I offer incredulously—but I record them still.”

 

τὸ δὲ ἄγαλμα τῆς ῞Ηρας ἐπὶ θρόνου κάθηται μεγέθει μέγα, χρυσοῦ μὲν καὶ ἐλέφαντος, Πολυκλείτου δὲ ἔργον· ἔπεστι δέ οἱ στέφανος Χάριτας ἔχων καὶ ῞Ωρας ἐπειργασμένας, καὶ τῶν χειρῶν τῇ μὲν καρπὸν φέρει ῥοιᾶς, τῇ δὲ σκῆπτρον. τὰ μὲν οὖν ἐς τὴν ῥοιὰν—ἀπορρητότερος γάρ ἐστιν ὁ λόγος—ἀφείσθω μοι· κόκκυγα δὲ ἐπὶ τῷ σκήπτρῳ καθῆσθαί φασι λέγοντες τὸν Δία, ὅτε ἤρα παρθένου τῆς ῞Ηρας, ἐς τοῦτον τὸν ὄρνιθα ἀλλαγῆναι, τὴν δὲ ἅτε παίγνιον θηρᾶσαι. τοῦτον τὸν λόγον καὶ ὅσα ἐοικότα εἴρηται περὶ θεῶν οὐκ ἀποδεχόμενος γράφω, γράφω δὲ οὐδὲν ἧσσον.

There is likely etymological play here with the pomegranate and the cuckoo bird.  Greek for pomegranate seed is κόκκων, κόκκωνος  whereas the cuckoo bird is κόκκυξ, κόκκυγος.

Both words have some antiquity. “Cuckoo” appears in Hes. Works and Days, 486: “when the cuckoo cuckoos on the oak tree’s leaves…” (ἦμος κόκκυξ κοκκύζει δρυὸς ἐν πετάλοισι). For pomegranate seeds we also have the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, where Persephone relays the fact that Hades gave her “a pomegranate seed, a honey-sweet  food…” (ἔμβαλέ μοι ῥοιῆς κόκκον, μελιηδέ’ ἐδωδήν, 412). And, although the passage is in doubt, pomegranate seeds appear in Solon fr. 40 (†κόκκωνας δὲ† ἄλλος, †ἕτερος δὲ σήσαμα). The line is problematic, but Hesychius reads it as “pomegranate seeds”: κόκκωνες: The seeds of the pomegranate. And also from this the misseltoe.” [κόκκωνες· οἱ κόκκοι τῆς ῥοιᾶς. καὶ ὅθεν ἰξός (Solo fr. 40 B.)]

Hera cotta
Hera With Fruit, but no Bird.

Gold-Digging Ants! Herodotus on India, Part 2

(Herodotus’ account of India starts a bit earlier)

Herodotus, 3. 102-105

“Other Indians live near the city Kaspatyrus and the Paktyic country, north of the rest of Indian, and these Indians live most like the Bactrians and are most bellicose. These are the Indians sent for gold in the area made desolate by the sands.

In that desert there are ants who are not quite as large as dogs but are larger than foxes. There are even some of these who have been caught and taken to the Persian king. These ants make their home underground, digging sand the way ants do in Greece—and they are similar in shape—but the sand they carry up is mostly gold.

Indians are sent into the desert for this sand. They yoke three camels together each, tying a female in between two males—the rider sits atop her, and she was harnessed as soon as possible after giving birth. Their camels are no less speedy than horses, but they are better at carrying burdens. I won’t describe what a camel looks like, because the Greeks know these things; but they don’t know this: the rear-legs of a camel have four thighbones and four knees; their genitals are turned back near the tail between their rear-legs.

The Indians use these camel teams and drive toward collecting the gold when the weather is hottest, because this is when the ants are out of sight under the ground. In this part of India, the sun is hottest in the morning and near noon like other places, but right from sunrise until dusk. During this time it burns hotter than in Greece at noon,  so the story is that men drip water on themselves during this time. At noon, the sun’s heat is almost the same for the Indians as it is for other people. After noon, the sun has the power it has in the morning in other lands. It cools as it sets, making it very cold at sunset.

When the Indians come to this land with their sacks, they fill them with sand as fast as possible and drive back again. For as soon as the ants smell them, as the Persians report, they chase them. They claim that there is nothing equal to their speed with the result that if the Indians do not start well ahead, none of them will escape. They cut the male camels out because they are slower once they begin to hold back. The females never get tired, because they remember the offspring they have let behind. This is the story. The Persians claim that the Indians gather most of their gold this way. The do get some from their own lands, but rather less.”

Them
Herodotus’ Ants Make B-Movie Gold (from Them!, 1954)

. ῎Αλλοι δὲ τῶν ᾿Ινδῶν Κασπατύρῳ τε πόλι καὶ τῇ Πακτυϊκῇ χώρῃ εἰσὶ πρόσοικοι, πρὸς ἄρκτου τε καὶ βορέω ἀνέμου κατοικημένοι τῶν ἄλλων ᾿Ινδῶν, οἳ Βακτρίοισι παραπλησίην ἔχουσι δίαιταν. Οὗτοι καὶ μαχιμώτατοί εἰσι ᾿Ινδῶν καὶ οἱ ἐπὶ τὸν χρυσὸν στελλόμενοί εἰσι οὗτοι· κατὰ γὰρ τοῦτό ἐστιἐρημίη διὰ τὴν ψάμμον.

᾿Εν δὴ ὦν τῇ ἐρημίῃ ταύτῃ καὶ τῇ ψάμμῳ γίνονται μύρμηκες μεγάθεα ἔχοντες κυνῶν μὲν ἐλάσσω, ἀλωπέκων δὲ μέζω· εἰσὶ γὰρ αὐτῶν καὶ παρὰ βασιλέϊ τῷ Περσέων ἐνθεῦτεν θηρευθέντες. Οὗτοι ὦν οἱ μύρμηκες ποιεύμενοι οἴκησιν ὑπὸ γῆν ἀναφέρουσι [τὴν] ψάμμον κατά περ οἱ ἐν τοῖσι ῞Ελλησι μύρμηκες κατὰ τὸν αὐτὸν τρόπον, εἰσὶ δὲ καὶ τὸ εἶδος ὁμοιότατοι· ἡ δὲ ψάμμος ἡ ἀναφερομένη ἐστὶ χρυσῖτις. ᾿Επὶ δὴ ταύτην τὴν ψάμμον στέλλονται ἐς τὴν ἔρημον οἱ ᾿Ινδοί, ζευξάμενος ἕκαστος καμήλους τρεῖς, σειρηφόρον μὲν ἑκατέρωθεν ἔρσενα παρέλκειν, θήλεαν δὲ ἐς μέσον· ἐπὶ ταύτην δὴ αὐτὸς ἀναβαίνει, ἐπιτηδεύσας ὅκως ἀπὸ τέκνων ὡς νεωτάτων ἀποσπάσας ζεύξει· αἱ γάρ σφι κάμηλοι ἵππων οὐκ ἥσσονες ἐς ταχυτῆτά εἰσι· χωρὶς δὲ ἄχθεα δυνατώτεραι πολλὸν φέρειν. Τὸ μὲν δὴ εἶδος ὁκοῖόν τι ἔχει ἡ κάμηλος, ἐπισταμένοισι τοῖσι ῞Ελλησι οὐ συγγράφω· τὸ δὲ μὴ ἐπιστέαται αὐτῆς, τοῦτο φράσω· κάμηλος ἐν τοῖσι ὀπισθίοισι σκέλεσι ἔχει τέσσερας μηροὺς καὶ γού-νατα τέσσερα, τά τε αἰδοῖα διὰ τῶν ὀπισθίων σκελέων πρὸς τὴν οὐρὴν τετραμμένα. Οἱ δὲ δὴ ᾿Ινδοὶ τρόπῳ τοιούτῳ καὶ ζεύξι τοιαύτῃ χρεώμενοι ἐλαύνουσι ἐπὶ τὸν χρυσὸν λελογισμένως ὅκως [ἂν] καυμάτων τῶν θερμοτάτων ἐόντων ἔσον-ται ἐν τῇ ἁρπαγῇ· ὑπὸ γὰρ τοῦ καύματος οἱ μύρμηκες ἀφανέες γίνονται ὑπὸ γῆν. Θερμότατος δέ ἐστι ὁ ἥλιος τούτοισι τοῖσι ἀνθρώποισι τὸ ἑωθινόν, οὐ κατά περ τοῖσι ἄλλοισι μεσαμβρίης, ἀλλ’ ὑπερτείλας μέχρις οὗ ἀγορῆς δια-λύσιος· τοῦτον δὲ τὸν χρόνον καίει πολλῷ μᾶλλον ἢ τῇ μεσαμβρίῃ τὴν ῾Ελλάδα, οὕτω ὥστε ἐν ὕδατι λόγος αὐτούς ἐστι βρέχεσθαι τηνικαῦτα· μεσοῦσα δὲ ἡ ἡμέρη σχεδὸν παραπλησίως καίει τούς <τε> ἄλλους ἀνθρώπους καὶ τοὺς ᾿Ινδούς· ἀποκλινομένης δὲ τῆς μεσαμβρίης γίνεταί σφι ὁ  ἥλιος κατά περ τοῖσι ἄλλοισι ὁ ἑωθινός· καὶ τὸ ἀπὸ τούτου ἀπιὼν ἐπὶ μᾶλλον ψύχει, ἐς ὃ ἐπὶ δυσμῇσι ἐὼν καὶ τὸ κάρτα ψύχει. ᾿Επεὰν δὲ ἔλθωσι ἐς τὸν χῶρον οἱ ᾿Ινδοὶ ἔχοντες θυλάκια, ἐμπλήσαντες ταῦτα τῆς ψάμμου τὴν ταχίστην ἐλαύνουσι ὀπίσω· αὐτίκα γὰρ οἱ μύρμηκες ὀδμῇ, ὡς δὴ λέγεται ὑπὸ Περσέων, μαθόντες διώκουσι. Εἶναι δὲ ταχυτῆτα οὐδενὶ ἑτέρῳ ὅμοιον, οὕτω ὥστε, εἰ μὴ προλαμβάνειν τοὺς ᾿Ινδοὺς τῆς ὁδοῦ ἐν ᾧ τοὺς μύρμηκας συλλέγεσθαι, οὐδένα ἄν σφεων ἀποσῴζεσθαι. Τοὺς μέν νυν ἔρσενας τῶν καμήλων, εἶναι γὰρ ἥσσονας θέειν τῶν θηλέων, παρα-λύεσθαι ἐπελκομένους, οὐκ ὁμοῦ ἀμφοτέρους· τὰς δὲ θηλέας ἀναμιμνησκομένας τῶν ἔλιπον τέκνων ἐνδιδόναι μαλακὸν οὐδέν. Τὸν μὲν δὴ πλέω τοῦ χρυσοῦ οὕτω οἱ ᾿Ινδοὶ κτῶνται, ὡς Πέρσαι φασί· ἄλλος δὲ σπανιώτερός ἐστι ἐν τῇ χώρῃ ὀρυσσόμενος.

People Believe (And Repeat) What They Hear: Pausanias on Theseus

Pausanias, 1.3.3

 

“On the opposite wall are painted Theseus, Democracy and the People. Clearly, this painting shows Theseus as the founder of political equality for the Athenians. In other accounts the story has been popularized that Theseus handed the powers of the state over to the people and that the Athenians lived in a democracy from his time until Peisistratus rebelled and became a tyrant. The majority of people repeat many things which are not true, since they know nothing of history and they believe whatever they have heard since childhood in choruses and tragedy. This is how it is with Theseus who actually was king himself and whose descendants continued ruling for four generations until Menestheus died.”

ἐπὶ δὲ τῷ τοίχῳ τῷ πέραν Θησεύς ἐστι γεγραμμένος καὶ Δημοκρατία τε καὶ Δῆμος. δηλοῖ δὲ ἡ γραφὴ Θησέα εἶναι τὸν καταστήσαντα ᾿Αθηναίοις ἐξ ἴσου πολιτεύεσθαι· κεχώρηκε δὲ φήμη καὶ ἄλλως ἐς τοὺς πολλούς, ὡς Θησεὺς παραδοίη τὰ πράγματα τῷ δήμῳ καὶ ὡς ἐξ ἐκείνου δημοκρατούμενοι διαμείναιεν, πρὶν ἢ Πεισίστρατος ἐτυράννησεν ἐπαναστάς. λέγεται μὲν δὴ καὶ ἄλλα οὐκ ἀληθῆ παρὰ τοῖς πολλοῖς οἷα ἱστορίας ἀνηκόοις οὖσι καὶ ὁπόσα ἤκουον εὐθὺς ἐκ παίδων ἔν τε χοροῖς καὶ τραγῳδίαις πιστὰ ἡγουμένοις, λέγεται δὲ καὶ ἐς τὸν Θησέα, ὃς αὐτός τε ἐβασίλευσε καὶ ὕστερον Μενεσθέως τελευτήσαντος καὶ ἐς τετάρτην  οἱ Θησεῖδαι γενεὰν διέμειναν ἄρχοντες.

An early twitter respondent noted that the main thrust of this section sounds a bit Thucydidean:

 

 

Here’s the Greek (Thuc. 1.20.3)

οὕτως ἀταλαίπωρος τοῖς πολλοῖς ἡ ζήτησις τῆς ἀληθείας, καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ ἑτοῖμα μᾶλλον τρέπονται.

“For most people the examination of the truth is so careless that they accept whatever is prepared for them.”

Later Karl brought us some Tertullian

Here’s the Latin: et ignorare illos, dum oderunt, et iniuste odisse, dum ignorant

Later Karl brought us some Tertullian

Here’s the Latin: et ignorare illos, dum oderunt, et iniuste odisse, dum ignorant

Here’s the translation Karl shared from Robert Sider’s book Christian and Pagan in the Roman Empire:

I am fairly certain there is some Platonic antecedent for these ideas…