The Restoration of Peace

Seneca. Hercules. 362-369.

If mortals continually nurse never-ending hate,
And anger once ignited never leaves their hearts,
But instead, the winning side maintains its arms
While the losing side readies its own,
Then wars will leave nothing standing.

The land will be neglected, the fields ravaged.
When the torch has been put to houses,
Deep ash will cover the inhabitants buried within.

It’s advantageous for the victor to wish
For the restoration of peace,
But for the defeated it’s a necessity.

si aeterna semper odia mortales gerant,
nec coeptus umquam cedat ex animis furor,
sed arma felix teneat infelix paret,
nihil relinquent bella; tum vastis ager
squalebit arvis, subdita tectis face
altus sepultas obruet gentes cinis.
pacem reduci velle victori expedit,
victo necesse est.

Yemen has been at war since 2014.
More than 370,000 have died.
Photo credit: Thomas Glass/ICRC.

Larry Benn has a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard College, an M.Phil in English Literature from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Making amends for a working life misspent in finance, he’s now a hobbyist in ancient languages and blogs at featsofgreek.blogspot.com.

When War Overtakes Us

Kallinos, fr. 5

“Now the army of the violent Kimmerians is advancing…”

νῦν δ᾿ ἐπὶ Κιμμερίων στρατὸς ἔρχεται
Ὀβριμοεργῶν,

Kallinos, fr. 1

How long will you wait? When will you embrace your brave heart,
Young men? Aren’t you ashamed to wait so long in front
Of your neighbors? You think that you are sitting back in peace
But war is overtaking the whole land.

[….]
Let each person take their last shot even as they die–
There’s real honor for someone to fight against enemies
For their land and their children and their wedded spouses.
Death will come whenever the fates decide it.

But let each one of us go forward, raising our spear high
And keeping a brave spirit behind our shield, now that war is whirling.
There’s no way for anyone to avoid death, at least
When its fated, not even if they’re offspring of the immortal gods.
Often, someone flees the strife and clash of spears
Only to have death’s fate overcome them at home.

That one isn’t forever loved or missed by the people.
But the small and great alike mourn the other, when something happens.
The whole people long for a strong-minded person
when they’re gone, someone the worth of living heroes.
The people look upon them like a mighty tower—
For they do the work of many, even when standing alone.

μέχρις τέο κατάκεισθε; κότ᾿ ἄλκιμον ἕξετε θυμόν,
ὦ νέοι; οὐδ᾿ αἰδεῖσθ᾿ ἀμφιπερικτίονας
ὧδε λίην μεθιέντες; ἐν εἰρήνῃ δὲ δοκεῖτε
ἧσθαι, ἀτὰρ πόλεμος γαῖαν ἅπασαν ἔχει
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
καί τις ἀποθνήσκων ὕστατ᾿ ἀκοντισάτω.
τιμῆέν τε γάρ ἐστι καὶ ἀγλαὸν ἀνδρὶ μάχεσθαι
γῆς πέρι καὶ παίδων κουριδίης τ᾿ ἀλόχου
δυσμενέσιν· θάνατος δὲ τότ᾿ ἔσσεται, ὁππότε κεν δὴ
Μοῖραι ἐπικλώσωσ᾿. ἀλλά τις ἰθὺς ἴτω

ἔγχος ἀνασχόμενος καὶ ὑπ᾿ἀσπίδος ἄλκιμον ἦτορ
ἔλσας, τὸ πρῶτον μειγνυμένου πολέμου.
οὐ γάρ κως θάνατόν γε φυγεῖν εἱμαρμένον ἐστὶν
ἄνδρ᾿, οὐδ᾿ εἰ προγόνων ᾖ γένος ἀθανάτων.
πολλάκι δηϊοτῆτα φυγὼν καὶ δοῦπον ἀκόντων
ἔρχεται, ἐν δ᾿ οἴκῳ μοῖρα κίχεν θανάτου.

ἀλλ᾿ ὁ μὲν οὐκ ἔμπης δήμῳ φίλος οὐδὲ ποθεινός,
τὸν δ᾿ ὀλίγος στενάχει καὶ μέγας, ἤν τι πάθῃ·
λαῷ γὰρ σύμπαντι πόθος κρατερόφρονος ἀνδρὸς
θνήσκοντος, ζώων δ᾿ ἄξιος ἡμιθέων·
ὥσπερ γάρ μιν πύργον ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖσιν ὁρῶσιν·
ἔρδει γὰρ πολλῶν ἄξια μοῦνος ἐών.

“Seated Warriors” by Marcus Grønvold (1870)

War, Some Proverbs

Arsenius 7.16n

“In war, iron is stronger for safety than gold;
But for living, reason is better than wealth.”

᾿Εν μὲν πολέμῳ πρὸς ἀσφάλειαν σίδηρος χρυσοῦ κρείττων,
ἐν δὲ τῷ ζῆν ὁ λόγος τοῦ πλούτου [Socrates]

“You can’t fuck-up twice in a war
Οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν πολέμῳ δὶς ἁμαρτάνειν

Zenobius

“War is tear-free” A proverb applied to those who succeed easily through every danger and beyond expectations.”

῎Αδακρυς πόλεμος: ἐπὶ τῶν ἔξω κινδύνου παντὸς ῥᾷστα δὲ καὶ παρ’ ἐλπίδα τὰ πράγματα κατορθούντων.

Michael Apostolios

“Beginning of wars”: A proverb applied to those who try to do wrong
᾿Αρχὴ πολέμων: ἐπὶ τῶν ἀδικεῖν ἐπιχειρούντων.

“Endless War is Sweet”: A proverb applied to those who throw themselves into dangers because of inexperience

Γλυκὺς ἀπείρων πόλεμος: ἐπὶ τῶν ὑπ’ ἀπειρίας ἑαυτοὺς καθιέντων εἰς κινδύνους.

Gregorius

“War is sweet for someone with no experience of it”

Γλυκὺς ἀπείρῳ πόλεμος

[A variation on the line above]

Heraclitus, D64

“war is father of everything; war is king of everything.”

πόλεμος πάντων μὲν πατήρ ἐστι, πάντων δὲ βασιλεύς

 

Heraclitus, R53

“Heraclitus claims that Zeus and war are the same thing.”

καὶ | τὸν π̣όλεμο̣[ν] καὶ | τὸν Δ[ί]α τὸν αὐ̣τὸν | εἶν[αι, κα]θάπερ καὶ | τὸν [Ἡ]ράκλειτον λέ|γειν

Xenophon, Hiero 2

“If war is a terrible evil, then tyrants receive its greatest portion.”

εἰ δὲ πόλεμος μέγα κακόν, τούτου πλεῖστον μέρος οἱ τύραννοι μετέχουσιν.

 

Diogenes Laertius [Demetrius 82]

“Speech can win in politics however much iron can gain in War.”

ὅσον ἐν πολέμῳ δύνασθαι σίδηρον, τοσοῦτον ἐν πολιτείᾳ ἰσχύειν λόγον

Diogenes Laertius [Diogenes 50]

“Alliances come after war.”

μετὰ τὸν πόλεμον ἡ συμμαχία

Qajar-era Iranian court painter Mirza Baba’s depiction of Fath Ali Shah’s victory over the Russians at Yerevan (Siege of Erivan), part of the Russo-Persian War of 1804–1813. The painting is kept at the National Museum of Iran in Tehran.

The Rumble of War

Homer, Iliad 4.440-456

Ares whipped up the Trojans, Athena the Achaeans,
and with her were Terror, Rout, and ravenous Strife,
the sister-comrade of man-murdering Ares.
Strife is small when she first lifts her head. But then
her head towers into heaven, and she roams the earth.
And now she’s tossed the same warring spirit into two armies,
and she moves through the crush of men, multiplying their woes.

When the Trojans and Achaeans came together,
Shields and spears and bronze-armored men collided.
Bossed shields clanged against bossed shields.
There men cried and men exulted.
Men killed and men were killed.
And the earth flowed with blood.

Just as when swollen rivers rush down a mountain,
their mighty waters, torrents from huge springs,
hurl themselves together where they meet,
and some shepherd in the mountain hears the distant rumble–
just so, when the armies met in battle,
came the shouts and exertions of men.

ὄρσε δὲ τοὺς μὲν Ἄρης, τοὺς δὲ γλαυκῶπις Ἀθήνη
Δεῖμός τʼ ἠδὲ Φόβος καὶ Ἔρις ἄμοτον μεμαυῖα,
Ἄρεος ἀνδροφόνοιο κασιγνήτη ἑτάρη τε,
ἥ τʼ ὀλίγη μὲν πρῶτα κορύσσεται, αὐτὰρ ἔπειτα
οὐρανῷ ἐστήριξε κάρη καὶ ἐπὶ χθονὶ βαίνει·
ἥ σφιν καὶ τότε νεῖκος ὁμοίϊον ἔμβαλε μέσσῳ
ἐρχομένη καθʼ ὅμιλον ὀφέλλουσα στόνον ἀνδρῶν.

οἳ δʼ ὅτε δή ῥʼ ἐς χῶρον ἕνα ξυνιόντες ἵκοντο,
σύν ῥʼ ἔβαλον ῥινούς, σὺν δʼ ἔγχεα καὶ μένεʼ ἀνδρῶν
χαλκεοθωρήκων· ἀτὰρ ἀσπίδες ὀμφαλόεσσαι
ἔπληντʼ ἀλλήλῃσι, πολὺς δʼ ὀρυμαγδὸς ὀρώρει.
ἔνθα δʼ ἅμʼ οἰμωγή τε καὶ εὐχωλὴ πέλεν ἀνδρῶν
ὀλλύντων τε καὶ ὀλλυμένων, ῥέε δʼ αἵματι γαῖα.

ὡς δʼ ὅτε χείμαρροι ποταμοὶ κατʼ ὄρεσφι ῥέοντες
ἐς μισγάγκειαν συμβάλλετον ὄβριμον ὕδωρ
κρουνῶν ἐκ μεγάλων κοίλης ἔντοσθε χαράδρης,
τῶν δέ τε τηλόσε δοῦπον ἐν οὔρεσιν ἔκλυε ποιμήν·
ὣς τῶν μισγομένων γένετο ἰαχή τε πόνος τε.

Russian war games

Larry Benn has a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard College, an M.Phil in English Literature from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Making amends for a working life misspent in finance, he’s now a hobbyist in ancient languages and blogs at featsofgreek.blogspot.com.

The Fight You Can’t Win

Archilochus told us, long before Pat Benatar in 1983 AD, that love is a battlefield.

His martial metaphor for love–or rather, for the lover struck down by Eros–is possibly the earliest such which survives. He sketched, for posterity as it were, the battlefield consequences of losing to Eros: inability to stand, lifelessness, wound, and pain:

Archilochus Fragment (193 West)

I lie here wretched with longing,
And lifeless,
Pierced through my bones
With bitter pains.
The gods’ doings, this.

δύστηνος ἔγκειμαι πόθῳ
ἄψυχος, χαλεπῇσι θεῶν ὀδύνῃσιν ἕκητι
πεπαρμένος δι᾽ ὀστέων.

By the Hellenstic period, what might have been fresh in Archilochus’ hand was now a well-worn trope.

Here is Rufinus employing the martial metaphor. In his light and clever epigram the lover contemplates resisting Eros, but with defeat a foregone conclusion (and Archilochus having articulated what defeat entails) he simply surrenders:

Rufinus (Greek Anthology 5.93)

I’ve strapped reason around my chest,
Armor against Eros.
He won’t defeat me: it’s one against one,
Mortal engaging immortal.
But, if he’s got Bacchus as his helpmate,
What can I, a man alone, do against two?

ὥπλισμαι πρὸς ἔρωτα περὶ στέρνοισι λογισμόν,
οὐδέ με νικήσει, μοῦνος ἐὼν πρὸς ἕνα:
θνατὸς δ᾽ ἀθανάτῳ συστήσομαι. ἢν δὲ βοηθὸν
Βάκχον ἔχῃ, τί μόνος πρὸς δύ᾽ ἐγὼ δύναμαι;

Image from Geoff Winningham’s Friday Night in the Coliseum.
Outclassed, alarmed, defeated…like a man who takes on Eros.

Larry Benn has a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard College, an M.Phil in English Literature from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Making amends for a working life misspent in finance, he’s now a hobbyist in ancient languages and blogs at featsofgreek.blogspot.com.

Biological Warfare in Ancient Greece

Suda, sigma 777

Solon: They [the Amphiktyones] selected this man to be their adviser for war against the Kirrhaians. When they were consulting the oracle about victory, the Pythia said: “you will not capture and raze the tower of this city before the wave of dark-eyed Amphitritê washes onto my precinct as it echoes over the wine-faced sea.”

Solon persuaded them to make Kirrhaia sacred to the god so that the sea would become a neighbor to Apollo’s precinct. And another strategy was devised by Solon against the Kirrhaians. For he turned a river’s water which used to flow in its channel into the city elsewhere.

The Kirrhaians withstood the besiegers by drinking water from wells and from rain. But [Solon] filled the river with hellebore roots and when he believed the water had enough of the drug, he returned it to its course. Then the Kirrhaians took a full portion of this water. And when they went AWOL because of diarrhea, the Amphiktyones who were stationed near the wall took it and then the city.”

Σόλων: τοῦτον εἵλοντο οἱ Κιρραίοις πολεμεῖν ᾑρημένοι σύμβουλον. χρωμένοις δὲ σφίσι περὶ νίκης ἀνεῖπεν ἡ Πυθώ: οὐ πρὶν τῆσδε πόληος ἐρείψετε πύργον ἑλόντες, πρίν κεν ἐμῷ τεμένει κυανώπιδος Ἀμφιτρίτης κῦμα ποτικλύζοι, κελαδοῦν ἐπὶ οἴνοπα πόντον. ἔπεισεν οὖν ὁ Σόλων καθιερῶσαι τῷ θεῷ τὴν Κίρραιαν, ἵνα δὴ τῷ τεμένει τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος γένηται γείτων ἡ θάλαττα. εὑρέθη δὲ καὶ ἕτερον τῷ Σόλωνι σόφισμα ἐς τοὺς Κιρραίους: τοῦ γὰρ ποταμοῦ τὸ ὕδωρ ῥέον δι’ ὀχετοῦ ἐς τὴν πόλιν ἀπέστρεψεν ἀλλαχόσε. καὶ οἱ μὲν πρὸς τοὺς πολιορκοῦντας ἔτι ἀντεῖχον ἔκ τε φρεάτων καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ τὸ ἐκ θεοῦ πίνοντες. ὁ δὲ τοῦ ἑλλεβόρου τὰς ῥίζας ἐμβαλὼν ἐς τὸν ποταμόν, ἐπειδὴ ἱκανῶς τοῦ φαρμάκου τὸ ὕδωρ ᾔσθετο ἔχον, ἀντέστρεψεν αὖθις ἐς τὸν ὀχετόν, καὶ ἐνεφορήσαντο ἀνέδην οἱ Κιρραῖοι τοῦ ὕδατος. καὶ οἱ μὲν ὑπὸ τῆς διαρροίας ἐξέλιπον, οἱ δὲ ἐπὶ τοῦ τείχους τῆς φρουρᾶς Ἀμφικτύονες εἷλον τὴν φρουρὰν καὶ τὴν πόλιν.

Image result for medieval manuscript diarrhea
Roman d’Alexandre, Tournai 1338-1344.

From Apollonios Paradoxographus

“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 draughts 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.

Who Cares about Bird-Signs?

Homer, Iliad 12.230–257

“Glaring at him, shining-helmed Hektor answered:
Poulydamas, you never announce things dear to me in public.
You know how to make a different, better speech than this one.
If you are really arguing this out loud earnestly,
Well then the gods have ruined your thoughts themselves,
You who order me to forget the counsels of loud-thundering Zeus,
What he himself promised and assented to for me.
Now you ask me to listen to some tender-winged bird?
I don’t notice or care at all about these birds,
Whether they go to the right to dawn and the sun
Or whether they go to the left to the dusky gloom.
We are obeying the plan of great Zeus.
He rules over all the mortals and the immortal too.
One bird omen is best: defend your fatherland.
Why do you fear the war and strife so much?
If all the rest of us are really killed around
The Argive ships, there’s no fear for you in dying.
Your heart is not brave nor battle-worthy.
But if you keep back from the fight, or if you turn
Any other away from the war by plying him with words,
Well you’ll die straight away then, struck down by my spear.”

So he spoke and led on, and they followed him
With a divine echo. Zeus who delights in thunder
Drove a gust of wind down from the Idaian slopes,
Which carried dust straight over the ships. It froze the minds
Of the Achaeans and gave hope to the Trojans and Hektor.
Trusting in these signs and their own strength,
They were trying to break through the great wall of the Achaeans.”

Τὸν δ’ ἄρ’ ὑπόδρα ἰδὼν προσέφη κορυθαίολος ῞Εκτωρ·
Πουλυδάμα, σὺ μὲν οὐκ ἔτ’ ἐμοὶ φίλα ταῦτ’ ἀγορεύεις·
οἶσθα καὶ ἄλλον μῦθον ἀμείνονα τοῦδε νοῆσαι.
εἰ δ’ ἐτεὸν δὴ τοῦτον ἀπὸ σπουδῆς ἀγορεύεις,
ἐξ ἄρα δή τοι ἔπειτα θεοὶ φρένας ὤλεσαν αὐτοί,
ὃς κέλεαι Ζηνὸς μὲν ἐριγδούποιο λαθέσθαι
βουλέων, ἅς τέ μοι αὐτὸς ὑπέσχετο καὶ κατένευσε·
τύνη δ’ οἰωνοῖσι τανυπτερύγεσσι κελεύεις
πείθεσθαι, τῶν οὔ τι μετατρέπομ’ οὐδ’ ἀλεγίζω
εἴτ’ ἐπὶ δεξί’ ἴωσι πρὸς ἠῶ τ’ ἠέλιόν τε,
εἴτ’ ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ τοί γε ποτὶ ζόφον ἠερόεντα.
ἡμεῖς δὲ μεγάλοιο Διὸς πειθώμεθα βουλῇ,
ὃς πᾶσι θνητοῖσι καὶ ἀθανάτοισιν ἀνάσσει.
εἷς οἰωνὸς ἄριστος ἀμύνεσθαι περὶ πάτρης.
τίπτε σὺ δείδοικας πόλεμον καὶ δηϊοτῆτα;
εἴ περ γάρ τ’ ἄλλοι γε περὶ κτεινώμεθα πάντες
νηυσὶν ἐπ’ ᾿Αργείων, σοὶ δ’ οὐ δέος ἔστ’ ἀπολέσθαι·
οὐ γάρ τοι κραδίη μενεδήϊος οὐδὲ μαχήμων.
εἰ δὲ σὺ δηϊοτῆτος ἀφέξεαι, ἠέ τιν’ ἄλλον
παρφάμενος ἐπέεσσιν ἀποτρέψεις πολέμοιο,
αὐτίκ’ ἐμῷ ὑπὸ δουρὶ τυπεὶς ἀπὸ θυμὸν ὀλέσσεις.
῝Ως ἄρα φωνήσας ἡγήσατο, τοὶ δ’ ἅμ’ ἕποντο
ἠχῇ θεσπεσίῃ· ἐπὶ δὲ Ζεὺς τερπικέραυνος
ὦρσεν ἀπ’ ᾿Ιδαίων ὀρέων ἀνέμοιο θύελλαν,
ἥ ῥ’ ἰθὺς νηῶν κονίην φέρεν· αὐτὰρ ᾿Αχαιῶν
θέλγε νόον, Τρωσὶν δὲ καὶ ῞Εκτορι κῦδος ὄπαζε.
τοῦ περ δὴ τεράεσσι πεποιθότες ἠδὲ βίηφι
ῥήγνυσθαι μέγα τεῖχος ᾿Αχαιῶν πειρήτιζον.

Schol. T ad Il. 12.238–238

“you order me to obey bird signs: the prudent person will both honor the gods and obey birdsigns, like Odysseus does. This is obeying instead of believing.

τύνη δ’ οἰωνοῖσι<—κελεύεις / πείθεσθαι>: ὁ φρόνιμος καὶ θεοὺς τιμήσει καὶ οἰωνοῖς πείσεται, ὡς ὁ ᾿Οδυσσεύς (cf. Κ 274—82). τὸ δὲ πείθεσθαι (238) ἀντὶ τοῦ πιστεύειν.

Schol b. ad Il. 12.238

“The prudent person both knows to honor god and to obey bird signs, a thing which Hektor does not understand”

ὁ φρόνιμος καὶ θεὸν τιμᾶν οἶδε καὶ οἰωνοῖς πείθεσθαι, ὅπερ ῞Εκτωρ οὐ συνίησιν.

Black Figure Amphora, Walters Art Museum Baltimore

Three Options in War

The many Greek epigrams on martial themes could lead to the belief that the only reaction to grim war was to fight valiantly and kill, kill, kill. That was of course the celebrated option:

Simonides 6.2 (Greek Anthology)

This bow, now retired from tear-filled battle,
Rests under the roof of Athena’s temple.
Often the cause of groans
In the chaos of men’s wars,
It’s been cleansed in the blood of Persian horsemen.

But as Timocreon, a contemporary of Simonides, demonstrated, one might also defect to the enemy, and cheer the exposure of other turncoats:

Timocreon Fr.729

It was not Timocreon alone
Who swore an oath to the Medes.
There were other rogues;
Mine is not the only clipped tail.
There are other foxes.

Archilochus showed yet another alternative to fighting: take the life-preserving coward’s path of dropping your weapons and running away:

Archilochus Fr.5

Some Saion is strutting with my shield,
Pristine gear I dropped by a shrub.
Thoughtless.
But, I did save myself!
What’s that shield to me?
Screw it!
The new one I get will be no worse.

Simonides 6.2 (Greek Anthology)

τόξα τάδε πτολέμοιο πεπαυμένα δακρυόεντος
νηῷ Ἀθηναίης κεῖται ὑπορρόφια,
πολλάκι δὴ στονόεντα κατὰ κλόνον ἐν δαῒ φωτῶν
Περσῶν ἱππομάχων αἵματι λουσάμενα.

Timocreon Fr.729

οὐκ ἄρα Τιμοκρέων μόνος
Μήδοισιν ὁρκιατομεῖ,
ἀλλ᾽ ἐντὶ κἆλλοι δὴ πονη-
ροί κοὐκ ἐγὼ μόνα κόλου-
ρις· ἐντὶ κἄλλαι ᾽λώπεκες.

Archilocus Fr.5

ἀσπίδι μὲν Σαΐων τις ἀγάλλεται, ἣν παρὰ θάμνῳ
ἔντος ἀμώμητον κάλλιπον οὐκ ἐθέλων:
αὐτὸν δ᾽ ἔκ μ᾽ ἐσάωσα: τί μοι μέλει ἀσπὶς ἐκεινη;
ἐρρέτω: ἐξαῦτις κτήσομαι οὐ κακίω.

Corinthian helmet. c.700-480 BC.
Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Larry Benn has a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard College, an M.Phil in English Literature from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Making amends for a working life misspent in finance, he’s now a hobbyist in ancient languages and blogs at featsofgreek.blogspot.com.

Ancient Biological Warfare

Suda, sigma 777

Solon: They [the Amphiktyones] selected this man to be their adviser for war against the Kirrhaians. When they were consulting the oracle about victory, the Pythia said: “you will not capture and raze the tower of this city before the wave of dark-eyed Amphitritê washes onto my precinct as it echoes over the wine-faced sea.”

Solon persuaded them to make Kirrhaia sacred to the god so that the sea would become a neighbor to Apollo’s precinct. And another strategy was devised by Solon against the Kirrhaians. For he turned a river’s water which used to flow in its channel into the city elsewhere.

The Kirrhaians withstood the besiegers by drinking water from wells and from rain. But [Solon] filled the river with hellebore roots and when he believed the water had enough of the drug, he returned it to its course. Then the Kirrhaians took a full portion of this water. And when they went AWOL because of diarrhea, the Amphiktyones who were stationed near the wall took it and then the city.”

Σόλων: τοῦτον εἵλοντο οἱ Κιρραίοις πολεμεῖν ᾑρημένοι σύμβουλον. χρωμένοις δὲ σφίσι περὶ νίκης ἀνεῖπεν ἡ Πυθώ: οὐ πρὶν τῆσδε πόληος ἐρείψετε πύργον ἑλόντες, πρίν κεν ἐμῷ τεμένει κυανώπιδος Ἀμφιτρίτης κῦμα ποτικλύζοι, κελαδοῦν ἐπὶ οἴνοπα πόντον. ἔπεισεν οὖν ὁ Σόλων καθιερῶσαι τῷ θεῷ τὴν Κίρραιαν, ἵνα δὴ τῷ τεμένει τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος γένηται γείτων ἡ θάλαττα. εὑρέθη δὲ καὶ ἕτερον τῷ Σόλωνι σόφισμα ἐς τοὺς Κιρραίους: τοῦ γὰρ ποταμοῦ τὸ ὕδωρ ῥέον δι’ ὀχετοῦ ἐς τὴν πόλιν ἀπέστρεψεν ἀλλαχόσε. καὶ οἱ μὲν πρὸς τοὺς πολιορκοῦντας ἔτι ἀντεῖχον ἔκ τε φρεάτων καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ τὸ ἐκ θεοῦ πίνοντες. ὁ δὲ τοῦ ἑλλεβόρου τὰς ῥίζας ἐμβαλὼν ἐς τὸν ποταμόν, ἐπειδὴ ἱκανῶς τοῦ φαρμάκου τὸ ὕδωρ ᾔσθετο ἔχον, ἀντέστρεψεν αὖθις ἐς τὸν ὀχετόν, καὶ ἐνεφορήσαντο ἀνέδην οἱ Κιρραῖοι τοῦ ὕδατος. καὶ οἱ μὲν ὑπὸ τῆς διαρροίας ἐξέλιπον, οἱ δὲ ἐπὶ τοῦ τείχους τῆς φρουρᾶς Ἀμφικτύονες εἷλον τὴν φρουρὰν καὶ τὴν πόλιν.

Image result for medieval manuscript diarrhea
Roman d’Alexandre, Tournai 1338-1344.

From Apollonios Paradoxographus

“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 draughts 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.

Hated By the People, Plotted Against by Friends

Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History 37.22a (Full text available on LacusCurtius)

“Sertorius, when he noticed that the uprising among the indigenous people was overwhelming, turned nasty to his allies: he accused some and had them killed; others he threw into prison; but he liquidated the wealth of the richest men. Even though he acquired a great deal of gold and silver this way, he did not put any of it into the public treasury for the war effort, instead he hoarded it for himself. He didn’t use it to pay the soldiers either or even share some of it with his commanders.

When it came to capital cases, he did not consult the council or advisers, but had hearings in private and gave judgments after serving as the solitary judge. He did not consider his commanders worthy of invitations to his banquets and demonstrated no beneficence to his friends. As he was generally driven mad by the worsening state of his own rule, he acted tyrannically toward everyone: he was hated by the people and conspired against by his friends.”

Ὅτι ὁ Σερτώριος θεωρῶν ἀκατάσχετον οὖσαν τὴν ὁρμὴν τῶν ἐγχωρίων πικρῶς προσεφέρετο τοῖς συμμάχοις, καὶ τοὺς μὲν καταιτιώμενος ἀπέκτεινεν, τοὺς δὲ εἰς φυλακὴν παρεδίδου, τῶν δὲ εὐπορωτάτων ἐδήμευε τὰς οὐσίας. πολὺν δὲ ἄργυρον καὶ χρυσὸν ἀθροίσας οὐκ εἰς τὸ κοινὸν τοῦ πολέμου ταμιεῖον κατετίθετο, ἀλλ᾿ ἰδίᾳ ἐθησαύριζεν· οὔτε τοῖς στρατιώταις ἐχορήγει τὰς μισθοφορίας, οὔτε τοῖς ἡγεμόσι μετεδίδου τούτων, οὔτε τὰς κεφαλικὰς κρίσεις μετὰ συνεδρίου καὶ συμβούλων ἐποιεῖτο, διακούων δὲ ἰδίᾳ καὶ μόνον κριτὴν ἑαυτὸν ἀποδείξας ἐποιεῖτο τὰς ἀποφάσεις· εἴς τε τὰ σύνδειπνα τοὺς ἡγεμόνας οὐκ ἠξίου παραλαμβάνειν, οὐδὲ φιλανθρωπίας οὐδεμιᾶς μετεδίδου τοῖς φίλοις. καθόλου δὲ διὰ τὴν ἐπὶ τὸ χεῖρον ἐπίδοσιν τῆς περὶ αὐτὸν ἐξουσίας ἀποθηριωθεὶς τυραννικῶς ἅπασιν προσεφέρετο. καὶ ἐμισήθη μὲν ὑπὸ τοῦ πλήθους, ἐπεβουλεύθη δὲ ὑπὸ τῶν φίλων.

Quintus Sertorius by Gerard van der Kuijl