Dying to Kill a Tyrant

Cod. Paris. Suppl. gr., Gnomologium Parisinum , 134f. 266v

“Phalaris, after Peristhenes sent him the wives of Euboulos and Aristophantes who had conspired against them so they might die, asked the women if they had known about the conspiracy their husbands planned. They said that not only did they know about it, but that they had begged them to kill the tyrant. And when he asked in turn what evil this was for, they responded, “It is nothing personal, but for a communal injustice. For it is a communal crime when a free state is enslaved.”

He followed up with another question, “What fate did you meet? For you would certainly pay a deserved penalty for your hatred…” and they interrupted, “if we died.” This stalled his anger because he was amazed by the extreme nobility of these answers and judged that women who were prepared to die with such uprightness should live instead of dying.”

Φάλαρις, Περισθένους τὴν Εὐβούλου καὶ τὴν ᾽Αριστοφάντου γυναῖκα τῶν ἐπιβουλευσάντων αὐτῶι πέμψαντος ὡς ἀπολουμένας, ἐπεὶ ἤιρετο, εἰ συνήιδεσαν τὴν ἐπιβουλὴν τοῖς ἀνδράσιν, αἱ δὲ ἔφασαν οὐ τοῦτο μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ παροτρῦναι τυραννοκτονῆσαι. καὶ αὖθις ἐρομένου τοῦ Φαλάριδος ἀνθ᾽ ὅτου κακοῦ, αἱ δὲ εἶπον· ‘οὐδενὸς μὲν ἰδίου, τῆς δὲ κοινῆς ἀδικίας· κοινὴ γὰρ τὸ καταδουλοῦσθαι πόλιν ἐλευθέραν’. εἶθ᾽ αὖθις ἐπανερομένου ‘ὑμεῖς δὲ τί πεπόνθατε; τοιγαροῦν δίκην ἀποτίσαιτ’ ἄν μοι τοῦ μίσους τὴν κατ᾽ ἀξίαν᾽, αἱ δὲ προσέθησαν ‘ἀποθανοῦσαι’, ὑφήιρηκε τῆς ὀργῆς, ἀγασθεὶς τὸ ὑπερβάλλον τῆς εὐγενείας ἐν ταῖς ἀποκρίσεσι, καὶ ζῆν μᾶλλον ἢ τεθνάναι κρίνας τὰς μετὰ τοιαύτης ἀρετῆς ἀποθνήσκειν προηιρημένας.

Phalaris condemning the sculptor Perillus to the Bronze Bull, after Baldassare Peruzzi by Pierre Woeiriot

A Tyrant and A Plague

N.B This is a different Pythagoras from the one with the theorem.

Suda, s.v. Pythagoras of Ephesos

“Pythagoras of Ephesos. Once he overthrew the government called the reign of the Basilidai, Pythagoras became the harshest tyrant. He seemed and sometimes was very kind to the people and the masses, increasing their hopes, but under-delivering on their profits. Because he despoiled those in high esteem and power and liquidated their property, he was not at all tolerable.

He did not hesitate to impose the harshest punishments or to mercilessly kill those who had done no wrong—for he had gotten just this crazy. His lust for money was endless. He was also quickest to anger in response to any insults to those near to him. On their own, these things would have been enough reason for people to kill him in the worst way, but he also was contemptuous of the divine. Indeed, many of his previously mentioned victims he actually killed in temples.

When the daughters of one man took refuge in a temple, he did not dare to extract them forcefully, but he waited them out so long that the girls resolved their hunger with a rope. A plague then afflicted the people along with a famine and Pythagoras, who was worried for himself, sent representatives to Delphi, requesting relief from these sufferings. She said that he needed to build temples and take care of the dead. He lived before Cyrus of Persia, according to Batôn.”

Πυθαγόρας ᾽Εφέσιος· καταλύσας δι᾽ ἐπιβουλῆς τὴν τῶν Βασιλιδῶν καλουμένην ἀρχήν, ἀνεφάνη τε τύραννος πικρότατος. καὶ τῶι μὲν δήμωι καὶ τῆι πληθύι ἦν τε καὶ ἐδόκει κεχαρισμένος, ἅμα τὰ μὲν αὐτοὺς ἐπελπίζων ὑποσχέσεσιν, τὰ δὲ ὑποσπείρων αὐτοῖς ὀλίγα κέρδη· τούς γε μὴν ἐν ἀξιώσει τε καὶ δυνάμει περισυλῶν καὶ δημεύων φορητὸς οὐδαμὰ οὐδαμῆ ἦν. καὶ κολάσαι δὲ πικρότατα οὐκ ἂν ὤκνησε, καὶ ἀφειδέστατα ἀποκτεῖναι οὐδὲν ἀδικοῦντας (ἐξελύττησε γὰρ εἰς ταῦτα)· ἔρως τε χρημάτων ἄμετρος· καὶ διαβολαῖς ταῖς ἐς τοὺς πλησίους ἐκριπισθῆναι κουφότατος ἦν. ἀπέχρησε μὲν οὖν καὶ ταῦτα ἂν κάκιστα ἀνθρώπων ἀπολέσαι αὐτόν, ἤδη δὲ καὶ τοῦ θείου κατεφρόνει· τῶν γοῦν προειρημένων οἷς ἐπέθετο παμπόλλους ἐν τοῖς ναοῖς ἀπέκτεινεν, ἑνὸς δὲ τὰς θυγατέρας καταφυγούσας εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν ἀναστῆσαι μὲν βιαίως οὐκ ἐτόλμησε, συνεχῆ δὲ φυλακὴν ἐπιστήσας ἐξετρύχωσεν ἄρα ἐς τοσοῦτον, ὡς βρόχωι τὰς κόρας τὸν λιμὸν ἀποδρᾶναι. οὐκοῦν ἠκολούθησε δημοσίαι νόσος καὶ τροφῶν ἀπορία· καὶ σαλεύων ὑπὲρ ἑαυτοῦ ὁ Πυθαγόρας εἰς Δελφοὺς ἀπέστειλε καὶ ἤιτει λύσιν τῶν κακῶν. ἡ δὲ ἕφη νεὼν ἀναστῆσαι καὶ κηδεῦσαι τοὺς νεκρούς. ἦν δὲ πρὸ Κύρου τοῦ Πέρσου, ὥς φησι Βάτων.

Ancient Theater at Ephesus

A Solid Gold Colossus: Why Tyrants Spend Other Peoples’ Money

Suda,  Κυψελιδῶν ἀνάθημα

At Olympia. Plato claims in the Phaedrus that a metal Colossos was set up next to the dedication of the Kypselids at Olympia. But they claim that this from Kypselos himself and not the Kypselids. Agaklutos speaks about this in his On Olympia. “An ancient temple of Hera, dedicated by the Skillians. Those people are Eleians. Inside the temple is a gold colossus, a dedication from Kypselos of Korinth. For people say that Kypselos promised that if he should become tyrant of the Korinthians, then he would make everyone’s property sacred for ten years. Once he collected the taxes from this sacred assessment, he had the metal colossus created.”

Didymos, however, reports that Periander, his son, had the colossus made to restrain the luxury and audacity of the Korinthians. Theophrastus also reports in the second book of his Magic Moments, “while others spend funds on more masculine affairs, like raising an army and conquering enemies, as Dionysius the tyrant did. For he believed that it was necessary not only to waste others’ money but also his own in order to make sure that there would be no funds for plots against him. The pyramids of Egypt and the colossus of the Kypselids and all those kinds of things have similar or identical designs.

It is also reported that there was an an epigram on the colossus: “If I am not a colossus made of gold / then may the race of the Kypselids be wiped away.”

Apellas of Pontos, however, claims that he inscription was, “If I am not a solid-cold Colossus, may the race of Kypselids be completely destroyed”

ἐν ᾽Ολυμπίαι. Πλάτων ἐν Φαίδρωι (236 B)· παρὰ τὸ Κυψελιδῶν ἀνάθημα σφυρήλατος ἐν ᾽Ολυμπίαι ἐστάθη κολοσσός. ἀλλ᾽ οὐ τῶν Κυψελιδῶν, Κυψέλου δέ φασι τὸ ἀνάθημα, ὡς ᾽Αγάκλυτος ἐν τῶι Περὶ ᾽Ολυμπίας φησὶν οὕτως· «ναὸς τῆς ῞Ηρας παλαιός, ἀνάθημα Σκιλλουντίων· οὗτοι δέ εἰσιν ᾽Ηλείων. ἔνεστι δὲ ἐν αὐτῶι χρυσοῦς κολοσσός, ἀνάθημα Κυψέλου τοῦ Κορινθίου· φασὶ γὰρ τὸν Κύψελον εὐξάμενον, εἰ Κορινθίων τυραννεύσειε, τὰς οὐσίας πάντων εἰς δέκατον ἔτος ἀνιερώσειν, τὰς δεκάτας τῶν τιμημάτων εἰσπραξάμενον, κατασκευάσαι τὸν σφυρήλατον κολοσσόν».

Δίδυμος δὲ κατασκευάσαι τὸν κολοσσόν φησι Περίανδρον ὑπὲρ τοῦ τῆς τρυφῆς καὶ τοῦ θράσους ἐπισχεῖν τοὺς Κορινθίους· καὶ γὰρ Θεόφραστος ἐν τῶι Περὶ καιρῶν β̄ λέγει οὕτω· «ἕτεροι δὲ εἰς ἀνδρωδέστερα καταδαπανῶντες, οἷον στρατείας ἐξάγοντες καὶ πολέμους ἐπαναιρούμενοι, καθάπερ καὶ Διονύσιος ὁ τύραννος· ἐκεῖνος γὰρ οὐ μόνον ὤιετο δεῖν τὰ τῶν ἄλλων καταναλίσκειν ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰ αὑτοῦ πρὸς τὸ μὴ ὑπάρχειν ἐφόδια τοῖς ἐπιβουλεύουσιν· ἐοίκασι δὲ καὶ αἱ πυραμίδες ἐν Αἰγύπτωι καὶ ὁ τῶν Κυψελιδῶν κολοσσὸς καὶ πάντα τὰ τοιαῦτα τὴν αὐτὴν καὶ παραπλησίαν ἔχειν διάνοιαν».

φέρεται δέ τι καὶ ἐπίγραμμα τοῦ κολοσσοῦ· «εἰ μὴ ἐγὼ χρυσοῦς σφυρήλατός εἰμι κολοσσός, / ἐξώλης εἴη Κυψελιδῶν γενεά», ὅπερ ᾽Απελλᾶς ὁ Ποντικὸς οὕτω προφέρεται· «εἰ μὴ ἐγὼ ναξὸς παγχρύσεός εἰμι κολοσσός, / ἐξώλης εἴη Κυψελιδῶν γενεά».

Publication1

From Martial, 1.37

“Bassus, you unload your bowels into a golden bowl and feel no shame, but you drink from glass: so you’re paying more to shit.”

Ventris onus misero, nec te pudet, excipis auro,
Basse, bibis vitro: carius ergo cacas.

Tyrants: The Power to Do Everything in a Rage

Dio Chrysostom, On Kingship and Tyranny (Discourse 62) (Full text on Lacus Curtius)

“Really, if someone is incapable of governing a single person and that person is also really close to them, even there all the time, and, if they cannot keep a single mind on the straight and narrow (and by that I mean their own) how could they possibly rule over countless thousands of people like you, people who are spread all over the earth, most of whom you have’t seen and could never see and whose language you can’t understand?

It’s almost as if saying that someone whose vision is so impaired they cannot see their feet and they need someone to lead them by the hand can somehow see objects really far away, as when people see mountains or islands from afar on the sea.  Or, it is as if someone who cannot speak loudly enough to be heard by those right nearby can raise a voice to whole cities and armies!

Truly, intelligence is something like vision: for, when sight begins to diminish it cannot see the closest things even if it could touch the stars and heaven when healthy. Just so, a wise person’s mind can has the power to guide all people while the fool’s can’t keep even his own body or a single home safe”

Καὶ μὴν εἴ τις ἑνὸς ἀνδρὸς οὐχ οἷός τε ἄρχειν ἐστί, καὶ τούτου σφόδρα ἐγγὺς ὄντος, ᾧ δὴ ξύνεστιν, οὐδὲ αὖ μίαν ψυχὴν κατευθύνειν τὴν αὑτοῦ, πῶς ἂν δύναιτο βασιλεύειν μυριάδων ἀναριθμήτων πανταχοῦ διεσπαρμένων, ὥσπερ σύ, καὶ πολλῶν γε οἰκούντων ἐπὶ πέρασι γῆς, ὧν οὐδὲ ἑώρακε τοὺς πλείστους οὐδ᾿ ἂν ἴδοι ποτὲ οὐδὲ τῆς φωνῆς ξυνήσει; ὅμοιον γὰρ ὥσπερ εἴ τις λέγοι τὸν οὕτως ἀδύνατον τὴν ὄψιν ὡς μηδὲ τὰ ἐν ποσὶν ὁρᾶν, ἀλλὰ προσδεόμενον χειραγωγοῦ, τοῦτον ἐφικνεῖσθαι βλέποντα μέχρι τῶν πλεῖστον ἀπεχόντων, ὥσπερ οἱ πόρρωθεν ὁρῶντες ἐκ τοῦ πελάγους τά τε ὄρη καὶ τὰς νήσους, ἢ τὸν οὐ δυνάμενον φθέγγεσθαι τοῖς παρεστῶσιν ἱκανὸν ὅλοις δήμοις καὶ στρατοπέδοις εἰς ἐπήκοον φθέγγεσθαι. καὶ γὰρ οὖν ἔχει τι παραπλήσιον ὁ νοῦς τῇ ὄψει· ὡς ἐκείνη διεφθαρμένη μὲν οὐδὲν οὐδὲ τῶν πλησιαίτατα ὁρᾷ, ὑγιὴς δὲ οὖσα μέχρις οὐρανοῦ τε καὶ ἀστέρων ἐξικνεῖται· ταὐτὸ δὴ τοῦτο ἡ μὲν τοῦ φρονίμου διάνοια καὶ πάντας ἀνθρώπους ἱκανὴ γίγνεται διοικεῖν, ἡ δὲ τοῦ ἄφρονος οὐδὲ ἓν σῶμα τὸ ἐκείνου δύναται φυλάττειν οὐδὲ ἕνα οἶκον.

Continuing….

“Many people in dynastic power, to explain further, because they can grab everything, desire to have everything. Because they determine justice, they become unjust. Because they do not fear the laws, they do not believe they exist. Because they are not forced to work, they never stop their conspicuous consumption.

Because no one stands up to them when they harm them, they never stop doing the same things; because there is no end to their pleasure, they never actually find their fill of it. Because no one criticizes them directly, they never miss a chance to slander someone else. Because no one wants to upset them, they find reason to be harsh to everyone. And because they have the power to do anything when enraged, they are forever in a state of anger.”

Οἱ μὲν γὰρ πολλοὶ τῶν ἐν ταῖς δυναστείαις, ὅτι μὲν ἔξεστιν αὐτοῖς πάντα λαμβάνειν, πάντων ἐπιθυμοῦσιν· ὅτι δὲ ἐπ᾿ αὐτοῖς ἐστι τὸ δίκαιον, διὰ τοῦτό εἰσιν ἄδικοι· ὅτι δὲ οὐ φοβοῦνται τοὺς νόμους, οὐδὲ εἶναι νομίζουσιν· ὅτι δὲ οὐκ ἀναγκάζονται πονεῖν, οὐδέποτε παύονται τρυφῶντες· ὅτι δὲ οὐδεὶς ἀμύνεται κακῶς πάσχων, οὐδέποτε παύονται ποιοῦντες· ὅτι δὲ οὐδεμιᾶς σπανίζουσιν ἡδονῆς, οὐδέποτε ἐμπίμπλανται ἡδόμενοι· ὅτι δὲ οὐδεὶς ψέγει ἐκ τοῦ φανεροῦ, οὐδὲν ἀπολείπουσι τῶν οὐ δικαίως λεγομένων· ὅτι δὲ οὐδεὶς αὐτοὺς βούλεται λυπεῖν, διὰ τοῦτο πᾶσι χαλεπαίνουσιν· ὅτι δὲ ὀργισθεῖσιν ἔξεστι πάντα ποιεῖν, διὰ τοῦτο συνεχῶς ὀργίζονται.

Cruel, Bad, but Loved by the Bodyguards

Historia Augusta, Antoninus Caracella  9

“His way of life was bad and he was more cruel than his father. He was a glutton who was addicted to wine and hated by his own household and despised by every division except for the praetorian guard. There was nothing similar between him and his brother.”

Fuit male moratus et patre duro crudelior. avidus cibi, vini etiam adpetens, suis odiosus et praeter milites praetorianos omnibus castris exosus. prorsus nihil inter fratres simile.

White bust

Distracted from Justice by Profit

Plutarch, Life of Brutus 29

“Faith in his sense of principle provided was the foundation of his great good will and fame. For Pompey the Great was not expected—should he overcome Caesar—to put down his power in deference to the laws, but people thought he would keep his political control, smooth-talking the people with the name of consulship or dictator or some other more palatable office.

Now it was imagined that Cassius, an eager and emotional man often distracted from justice by profit, was pursuing war and adventure to create some dynasty for himself rather than freedom for his fellow citizens. For in an earlier time than that, people like Cinna, Marius, and Carbo, even though they made their own country their victory prize and source for spoils, they warred by their own confession for tyranny alone.”

καὶ μέγιστον ὑπῆρχεν αὐτῷ πρὸς εὔνοιαν καὶ δόξαν ἡ τῆς προαιρέσεως πίστις, οὔτε γὰρ ἐκεῖνος ὁ μέγας Πομπήϊος, εἰ Καίσαρα καθεῖλεν, ἠλπίζετο βεβαίως προήσεσθαι τοῖς νόμοις τὴν δύναμιν, ἀλλ᾿ ἀεὶ τὰ πράγματα καθέξειν, ὑπατείας ὀνόματι καὶ δικτατορίας ἤ τινος ἄλλης μαλακωτέρας ἀρχῆς παραμυθούμενος τὸν 5δῆμον· Κάσσιον δὲ τοῦτον, σφοδρὸν ἄνδρα καὶ θυμοειδῆ καὶ πολλαχοῦ πρὸς τὸ κερδαλέον ἐκφερόμενον τοῦ δικαίου, παντὸς μᾶλλον ᾤοντο πολεμεῖν καὶ πλανᾶσθαι καὶ κινδυνεύειν αὑτῷ τινα δυναστείαν κατασκευαζόμενον, οὐκ ἐλευθερίαν 6τοῖς πολίταις. τὰ μὲν γὰρ ἔτι τούτων πρεσβύτερα, Κίνναι καὶ Μάριοι καὶ Κάρβωνες, ἆθλον ἐν μέσῳ καὶ λείαν προθέμενοι τὴν πατρίδα, μονονουχὶ ῥητῶς ὑπὲρ τυραννίδος ἐπολέμησαν.

 

File:Crassus Kopenhagen.jpg

“A Little Bit, But Not Too Long”: One of Homer’s Most Chilling Passages

In her introduction to the Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood notes that two lingering questions from the Odyssey inspired her– (1) the ancient question of what Penelope was up to (during Odysseus’ absence and in the Odyssey itself where many have seen her toying with the suitors, recognizing Odysseus ahead of time, etc. and (2) the brutal savagery of the slaughter of the handmaids who allegedly gave comfort to the suitors. The epic implies, I think, that Odysseus is tyrannical with his mutilation of Melanthios, but its presentation of the hanging of the maids is far more ambiguous and challenging to explain/defend/contextualize for students (or for myself). In preparation for a lecture on the Odyssey and the Penelopiad, I revisit this passage.

Homer Odyssey, 22.446-73

“So he spoke and all the women came in close together,
Wailing terribly, shedding growing tears.
First, they were carrying out the corpses of the dead men,
and they put them out under the portico of the walled courtyard
stacking them against one another. Odysseus himself commanded
as he oversaw them—they carried out the bodies under force too.
Then, they cleaned off the chairs and the preciously beautiful trays
With water and much-worn sponges.

Meanwhile Telemachus, the cowherd and the swineherd
were scraping up the close-fit floors of the home
with hoes—the maids were carrying the remnants to the ground outside.
Then, when they had restored the whole house to order,
They led the women out of the well-roofed hall,
Halfway between the roof and the courtyard’s perfect wall,
Closing them in a narrow space were there was no escape.
Among them, learned Telemachus began to speak.

“May I not rip the life away from these women with a clean death,
These women who poured insults on my head and my mother
These women who were stretching out next to the suitors”

So he spoke. After attaching a ship’s cable to a pillar he bound it around
The dome of the house and stretched it up high
so that no one could be able to touch the ground with feet.
Just as when either thin-winged thrushes or doves
step into a snare which has been set in a thicket,
as they look for a resting plate, a hateful bed receives them—
Just so the women held their heads in a line, and nooses
fell around every neck so that they would die most pitiably.
They were gasping, struggling with their feet a little bit, but not for very long.”

ὣς ἔφαθ’, αἱ δὲ γυναῖκες ἀολλέες ἦλθον ἅπασαι,
αἴν’ ὀλοφυρόμεναι, θαλερὸν κατὰ δάκρυ χέουσαι.
πρῶτα μὲν οὖν νέκυας φόρεον κατατεθνηῶτας,
κὰδ δ’ ἄρ’ ὑπ’ αἰθούσῃ τίθεσαν εὐερκέος αὐλῆς,
ἀλλήλοισιν ἐρείδουσαι· σήμαινε δ’ ᾿Οδυσσεὺς
αὐτὸς ἐπισπέρχων· ταὶ δ’ ἐκφόρεον καὶ ἀνάγκῃ.
αὐτὰρ ἔπειτα θρόνους περικαλλέας ἠδὲ τραπέζας
ὕδατι καὶ σπόγγοισι πολυτρήτοισι κάθαιρον.
αὐτὰρ Τηλέμαχος καὶ βουκόλος ἠδὲ συβώτης
λίστροισιν δάπεδον πύκα ποιητοῖο δόμοιο
ξῦον· ταὶ δ’ ἐφόρεον δμῳαί, τίθεσαν δὲ θύραζε.
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ δὴ πᾶν μέγαρον διεκοσμήσαντο,
δμῳὰς ἐξαγαγόντες ἐϋσταθέος μεγάροιο,
μεσσηγύς τε θόλου καὶ ἀμύμονος ἕρκεος αὐλῆς,
εἴλεον ἐν στείνει, ὅθεν οὔ πως ἦεν ἀλύξαι.
τοῖσι δὲ Τηλέμαχος πεπνυμένος ἦρχ’ ἀγορεύειν·
“μὴ μὲν δὴ καθαρῷ θανάτῳ ἀπὸ θυμὸν ἑλοίμην
τάων, αἳ δὴ ἐμῇ κεφαλῇ κατ’ ὀνείδεα χεῦαν
μητέρι θ’ ἡμετέρῃ, παρά τε μνηστῆρσιν ἴαυον.”
ὣς ἄρ’ ἔφη, καὶ πεῖσμα νεὸς κυανοπρῴροιο
κίονος ἐξάψας μεγάλης περίβαλλε θόλοιο,
ὑψόσ’ ἐπεντανύσας, μή τις ποσὶν οὖδας ἵκοιτο.
ὡς δ’ ὅτ’ ἂν ἢ κίχλαι τανυσίπτεροι ἠὲ πέλειαι
ἕρκει ἐνιπλήξωσι, τό θ’ ἑστήκῃ ἐνὶ θάμνῳ,
αὖλιν ἐσιέμεναι, στυγερὸς δ’ ὑπεδέξατο κοῖτος,
ὣς αἵ γ’ ἑξείης κεφαλὰς ἔχον, ἀμφὶ δὲ πάσαις
δειρῇσι βρόχοι ἦσαν, ὅπως οἴκτιστα θάνοιεν.
ἤσπαιρον δὲ πόδεσσι μίνυνθά περ, οὔ τι μάλα δήν.

Eustathius, Comm. Ad Od. II 290

“It is clear from the words uttered that the father ordered one thing but the son ordered another. For since it seems that a clean death is from a sword, and an unclean one is hanging, as is clear from the Nekyia, he thought it was right that unclean women should not have a clean death, since they were not clean themselves nor did they leave their masters clean of insults.”

δῆλον δ’ ἐκ τῶν ῥηθέντων ὅτι ἄλλο μὲν ἐκέλευσεν ὁ πατὴρ, ἄλλο δὲ πεποίηκεν ὁ υἱός. ἐπεὶ γὰρ καθαρὸς μὲν ὁ διὰ ξίφους ἐδόκει θάνατος, μιαρὸς δὲ ὁ ἀγχονιμαῖος, ὡς ἐν τῇ νεκύᾳ προδεδήλωται, ἔκρινε μὴ χρῆναι καθαρῷ θανάτῳ τὰς ἀκαθάρτους πεσεῖν, αἳ οὔτε αὐταὶ καθαραὶ ἦσαν οὔτε τοὺς δεσπότας καθαροὺς εἴων ὕβρεων.

Terracotta stamnos (jar)
Women at a banquet, Metropolitan Museum of Art, acc. # 06.1021.178

A Tyrant and A Plague

N.B This is a different Pythagoras from the one with the theorem.

Suda, s.v. Pythagoras of Ephesos

“Pythagoras of Ephesos. Once he overthrew the government called the reign of the Basilidai, Pythagoras became the harshest tyrant. He seemed and sometimes was very kind to the people and the masses, increasing their hopes, but under-delivering on their profits. Because he despoiled those in high esteem and power and liquidated their property, he was not at all tolerable.

He did not hesitate to impose the harshest punishments or to mercilessly kill those who had done no wrong—for he had gotten just this crazy. His lust for money was endless. He was also quickest to anger in response to any insults to those near to him. On their own, these things would have been enough reason for people to kill him in the worst way, but he also was contemptuous of the divine. Indeed, many of his previously mentioned victims he actually killed in temples.

When the daughters of one man took refuge in a temple, he did not dare to extract them forcefully, but he waited them out so long that the girls resolved their hunger with a rope. A plague then afflicted the people along with a famine and Pythagoras, who was worried for himself, sent representatives to Delphi, requesting relief from these sufferings. She said that he needed to build temples and take care of the dead. He lived before Cyrus of Persia, according to Batôn.”

Πυθαγόρας ᾽Εφέσιος· καταλύσας δι᾽ ἐπιβουλῆς τὴν τῶν Βασιλιδῶν καλουμένην ἀρχήν, ἀνεφάνη τε τύραννος πικρότατος. καὶ τῶι μὲν δήμωι καὶ τῆι πληθύι ἦν τε καὶ ἐδόκει κεχαρισμένος, ἅμα τὰ μὲν αὐτοὺς ἐπελπίζων ὑποσχέσεσιν, τὰ δὲ ὑποσπείρων αὐτοῖς ὀλίγα κέρδη· τούς γε μὴν ἐν ἀξιώσει τε καὶ δυνάμει περισυλῶν καὶ δημεύων φορητὸς οὐδαμὰ οὐδαμῆ ἦν. καὶ κολάσαι δὲ πικρότατα οὐκ ἂν ὤκνησε, καὶ ἀφειδέστατα ἀποκτεῖναι οὐδὲν ἀδικοῦντας (ἐξελύττησε γὰρ εἰς ταῦτα)· ἔρως τε χρημάτων ἄμετρος· καὶ διαβολαῖς ταῖς ἐς τοὺς πλησίους ἐκριπισθῆναι κουφότατος ἦν. ἀπέχρησε μὲν οὖν καὶ ταῦτα ἂν κάκιστα ἀνθρώπων ἀπολέσαι αὐτόν, ἤδη δὲ καὶ τοῦ θείου κατεφρόνει· τῶν γοῦν προειρημένων οἷς ἐπέθετο παμπόλλους ἐν τοῖς ναοῖς ἀπέκτεινεν, ἑνὸς δὲ τὰς θυγατέρας καταφυγούσας εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν ἀναστῆσαι μὲν βιαίως οὐκ ἐτόλμησε, συνεχῆ δὲ φυλακὴν ἐπιστήσας ἐξετρύχωσεν ἄρα ἐς τοσοῦτον, ὡς βρόχωι τὰς κόρας τὸν λιμὸν ἀποδρᾶναι. οὐκοῦν ἠκολούθησε δημοσίαι νόσος καὶ τροφῶν ἀπορία· καὶ σαλεύων ὑπὲρ ἑαυτοῦ ὁ Πυθαγόρας εἰς Δελφοὺς ἀπέστειλε καὶ ἤιτει λύσιν τῶν κακῶν. ἡ δὲ ἕφη νεὼν ἀναστῆσαι καὶ κηδεῦσαι τοὺς νεκρούς. ἦν δὲ πρὸ Κύρου τοῦ Πέρσου, ὥς φησι Βάτων.

Ancient Theater at Ephesus

Sharing the Struggle For Freedom

Thucydides 6.56

“When Harmodios defeated his lawsuit, as he intended, [Hipparkhos] insulted him. After they invited his sister to come out to carry a basket in a certain procession, they rejected her, claiming they had not invited her at all because she was not good enough. Even as Harmodios took this badly, Aristogeitôn was a great deal angrier. Then all of the arrangements were made for the deed with those who were sympathetic to them but they were waiting for the great Panathenaia festival, because on that day there would be no suspicion at all if the citizens who were going to be part of the procession would be armed.

They had to begin the act, but the others were supposed to take care of the bodyguard immediately. The conspirators were few for safety’s sake, since they hoped that  even those who did not know beforehand would be willing to share the struggle for their own freedom necessarily if they had arms in their hands and saw so few acting boldly.”

LVI. Τὸν δ᾿ οὖν Ἁρμόδιον ἀπαρνηθέντα τὴν πείρασιν, ὥσπερ διενοεῖτο, προυπηλάκισεν· ἀδελφὴν γὰρ αὐτοῦ κόρην ἐπαγγείλαντες ἥκειν κανοῦν οἴσουσαν ἐν πομπῇ τινι, ἀπήλασαν λέγοντες οὐδὲ ἐπαγγεῖλαι τὴν ἀρχὴν διὰ τὸ μὴ ἀξίαν εἶναι. χαλεπῶς δὲ ἐνεγκόντος τοῦ Ἁρμοδίου πολλῷ δὴ μᾶλλον δι᾿ ἐκεῖνον καὶ ὁ Ἀριστογείτων παρωξύνετο. καὶ αὐτοῖς τὰ μὲν ἄλλα πρὸς τοὺς ξυνεπιθησομένους τῷ ἔργῳ ἐπέπρακτο, περιέμενον δὲ Παναθήναια τὰ μεγάλα, ἐν ᾗ μόνον ἡμέρᾳ οὐχ ὕποπτον ἐγίγνετο ἐν ὅπλοις τῶν πολιτῶν τοὺς τὴν πομπὴν πέμψοντας ἁθρόους γενέσθαι· καὶ ἔδει ἄρξαι μὲν αὐτούς, ξυνεπαμύνειν δὲ εὐθὺς τὰ πρὸς τοὺς δορυφόρους ἐκείνους. ἦσαν δὲ οὐ πολλοὶ οἱ ξυνομωμοκότες ἀσφαλείας ἕνεκα· ἤλπιζον γὰρ καὶ τοὺς μὴ προειδότας, εἰ καὶ ὁποσοιοῦν τολμήσειαν, ἐκ τοῦ παραχρῆμα, ἔχοντάς γε ὅπλα, ἐθελήσειν σφᾶς αὐτοὺς ξυνελευθεροῦν.

Plato, Hipparchus 229b

“But his death is said to have occurred by the more polished people not in the way most believe, because his sister was not allowed to be a basket-bearer in the procession. That’s pretty simplistic. Instead, they say Harmodius was Aristogeitôn’s brother and had been educated by him. For this reason, Aristogeitôn also took pride in educating people and considered Hipparkhos his rival. At the same time, it seems, Harmodios was in love with one of the fine and well-born young men of the day. People use his name but I don’t remember it. This young man was enamored with both Harmodios and Aristogeitôn for a while because they were wise. But when he started hanging out with Hipparkhos, he despised them and they were so pissed off by this slight that they killed Hipparkhos.”

λέγεται δὲ ὑπὸ τῶν χαριεστέρων ἀνθρώπων καὶ ὁ θάνατος αὐτοῦ γενέσθαι οὐ δι᾿ ἃ οἱ πολλοὶ ᾠήθησαν, διὰ τὴν τῆς ἀδελφῆς ἀτιμίαν τῆς κανηφορίας, ἐπεὶ τοῦτό γε εὔηθες, ἀλλὰ τὸν μὲν Ἁρμόδιον γεγονέναι παιδικὰ τοῦ Ἀριστογείτονος καὶ πεπαιδεῦσθαι ὑπ᾿ ἐκείνου. μέγα δ᾿ ἐφρόνει ἄρα καὶ ὁ Ἀριστογείτων ἐπὶ τῷ παιδεῦσαι ἄνθρωπον, καὶ ἀνταγωνιστὴν ἡγεῖτο εἶναι τὸν Ἵππαρχον. ἐν ἐκείνῳ δὲ τῷ χρόνῳ αὐτὸν τὸν Ἁρμόδιον τυγχάνειν ἐρῶντά τινος τῶν νέων τε καὶ καλῶν καὶ γενναίων τῶν τότε· καὶ λέγουσι τοὔνομα αὐτοῦ, ἐγὼ δὲ οὐ μέμνημαι· τὸν οὖν νεανίσκον τοῦτον τέως μὲν θαυμάζειν τόν τε Ἁρμόδιον καὶ τὸν Ἀριστογείτονα ὡς σοφούς, ἔπειτα συγγενόμενον τῷ Ἱππάρχῳ καταφρονῆσαι ἐκείνων, καὶ τοὺς περιαλγήσαντας ταύτῃ τῇ ἀτιμίᾳ οὕτως ἀποκτεῖναι τὸν Ἵππαρχον.

 

Drinking Songs for Harmodios and Aristogeton

PMG 893-897

“I will wrap my sword in a crown of myrtle
As Harmodius and Aristogeiton did
When they killed the tyrant
And made the Athenians equal under the law.”

ἐν μύρτου κλαδὶ τὸ ξίφος φορήσω
ὥσπερ ῾Αρμόδιος καὶ ᾿Αριστογείτων
ὅτε τὸν τύραννον κτανέτην
ἰσονόμους τ’ ᾿Αθήνας ἐποιησάτην.

“Dearest Harmodius, you have never died,
But they say you live in the isles of the blest
Where swift-footed Achilles
And Tydeus’ fine son Diomedes are”

φίλταθ’ ῾Αρμόδι’, οὔ τί πω τέθνηκας,
νήσοις δ’ ἐν μακάρων σέ φασιν εἶναι,
ἵνα περ ποδώκης ᾿Αχιλεὺς
Τυδεΐδην τέ †φασι τὸν ἐσθλὸν† Διομήδεα.

“I will wrap my sword with a branch of myrtle,
Just as Harmodius and Aristogeiton did
When at the Athenian sacrifices
They killed the tyrant, a man named Hipparchus”

ἐν μύρτου κλαδὶ τὸ ξίφος φορήσω
ὥσπερ ῾Αρμόδιος καὶ ᾿Αριστογείτων
ὅτ’ ᾿Αθηναίης ἐν θυσίαις
ἄνδρα τύραννον ῞Ιππαρχον ἐκαινέτην.

“Fame will always be yours in this land,
Dearest Harmodios and Aristogeiton,
Because you killed the tyrant
And made the Athenians equal under the law.”

αἰεὶ σφῶιν κλέος ἔσσεται κατ’ αἶαν,
φίλταθ’ ῾Αρμόδιε καὶ ᾿Αριστόγειτον,
ὅτι τὸν τύραννον κτανέτην
ἰσονόμους τ’ ᾿Αθήνας ἐποιησάτην.

An Epigram

Hephaestion, Handbook on Meter

 “Every line of verse ends with a complete word. For this reason, lines like Simonides’ Epigram should be criticized:

“A great light arose for the Athenians when Aristo-
geitôn and Harmodios killed Hipparkhos

[…]

They restored equality to their land.”

πᾶν μέτρον εἰς τελείαν περατοῦται λέξιν· ὅθεν ἐπίληπτά ἐστι τὰ τοιαῦτα Σιμωνίδου ἐκ τῶν ἐπιγραμμάτων·

ἦ μέγ᾿ Ἀθηναίοισι φόως γένεθ᾿, ἡνίκ᾿ Ἀριστο-
γείτων Ἵππαρχον κτεῖνε καὶ Ἁρμόδιος·
[ ]
[ ἰσόνομον πα]τρίδα γῆν ἐθέτην.

Naples National Archaeological Museum

Plutocrats, Listen Up: Equal is Better Than More

Diodorus Siculus, History 9.12

“There is also the story that when the people of Mitylene allowed Pittacus to have half the land over which he fought in single combat, he would not take it. Instead, he assigned an equal portion to each man, saying that an “equal amount is greater than more”. For, since he took the measure of what was greater by fairness not by profit, he judged wisely. He believed that fame and safety would follow equality while gossip and fear followed greed, and they would have quickly reclaimed his gift.”

12. Ὅτι τῶν Μιτυληναίων διδόντων τῷ Πιττακῷ τῆς χώρας ὑπὲρ ἧς ἐμονομάχησε τὴν ἡμίσειαν οὐκ ἐδέξατο, συνέταξε δὲ ἑκάστῳ κληρῶσαι τὸ ἴσον, ἐπιφθεγξάμενος ὡς τὸ ἴσον ἐστὶ τοῦ πλείονος πλεῖον. μετρῶν γὰρ ἐπιεικείᾳ τὸ πλεῖον, οὐ κέρδει, σοφῶς ἐγίνωσκεν· τῇ μὲν γὰρ ἰσότητι δόξαν καὶ ἀσφάλειαν ἀκολουθήσειν, τῇ δὲ πλεονεξίᾳ βλασφημίαν καὶ φόβον, δι᾿ ὧν ταχέως ἂν αὐτοῦ τὴν δωρεὰν ἀφείλαντο.

Cf. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers 1.75

“Then, the Mityleneans honored Pittakos powerfully and gave the rule of the state to him alone. During the ten years he held power, he also corrected the constitution and then surrendered power even though he lived ten years more. The Mityleneans gave him some land, but he donated it as sacred. The plot is called after his name even today. Sôsicrates says that he cut off a little bit for himself, saying that “half is greater than the whole.”

[75] Τότε δ᾽ οὖν τὸν Πιττακὸν ἰσχυρῶς ἐτίμησαν οἱ Μυτιληναῖοι, καὶ τὴν ἀρχὴν ἐνεχείρισαν αὐτῷ. ὁ δὲ δέκα ἔτη κατασχὼν καὶ εἰς τάξιν ἀγαγὼν τὸ πολίτευμα, κατέθετο τὴν ἀρχήν, καὶ δέκα ἐπεβίω ἄλλα. καὶ χώραν αὐτῷ ἀπένειμαν οἱ Μυτιληναῖοι: ὁ δὲ ἱερὰν ἀνῆκεν, ἥτις νῦν Πιττάκειος καλεῖται. Σωσικράτης δέ φησιν ὅτι ὀλίγον ἀποτεμόμενος ἔφη τὸ ἥμισυ τοῦ παντὸς πλεῖον εἶναι.

The idea of “half being greater than the whole” is likely proverbial, showing up as well in Hesiod’s Works and Days where the narrator uses it when he complains about how the judges act unfairly in their evaluation of cases (by taking bribes): “the fools don’t know how much greater the half is than the whole” νήπιοι, οὐδὲ ἴσασιν ὅσῳ πλέον ἥμισυ παντὸς.

Diodorus Siculus’ statement that “an equal part is greater than more” is probably a clever departure from the Hesiodic statement. Hesiod’s statement seems to be about greed (wanting more than your due), as glossed by Michael Apostolius:

13.77

“They don’t know how much greater the half is than the whole”: [this is a proverb used] for those who desire more and lose what they have.

Οὐδ’ ἴσασιν ὅσῳ πλέον ἥμισυ παντός: ὅτι οἱ τῶν πλειόνων ἐπιθυμοῦντες καὶ ἃ ἔχουσιν ἀποβάλλουσιν.

A unifying theme between the two versions is that in early Greek culture that which is isos is not fair in terms of being equal but it possesses equity in terms of being proper to the recipient’s social status. So, Diodorus’ isos share can map out onto Hesiod’s “half” share.

Image result for pittacus

Another proverbial moment for Pittakos:

Diodorus Siculus, History 9.12.3

“When Pittacus finally caught up with the poet Alcaeus, a man especially hateful to him who had mocked him savagely in his poems, he released him, remarking that forgiveness is a better choice than vengeance.”

ὅτι καὶ τὸν ποιητὴν Ἀλκαῖον, ἐχθρότατον αὐτοῦ γεγενημένον καὶ διὰ τῶν ποιημάτων πικρότατα λελοιδορηκότα, λαβὼν ὑποχείριον ἀφῆκεν, ἐπιφθεγξάμενος ὡς συγγνώμη τιμωρίας αἱρετωτέρα.