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.

“An Equal Amount 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.

“An Equal Amount 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. ἀλλὰ καὶ Κροίσου διδόντος χρήματα οὐκ ἐδέξατο, εἰπὼν ἔχειν ὧν ἐβούλετο διπλάσια: ἄπαιδος γὰρ τἀδελφοῦ τελευτήσαντος κεκληρονομηκέναι.

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