Water Feeding Beautiful Voices: An Odd Philological Detail

Vitruvius 8. 25

“Gaius Julius, Masinissa’s son, who controlled all the lands of the city [Zama], fought alongside the emperor. He was my guest from time to time. In our daily conversations we often were compelled to argue about philology.

Once we had a debate about the power of water and its finer qualities. He told me that there were springs which came from his own land along which whoever was born there developed exceptional singing voices. Because of this, people used to purchase fine looking lads and full-grown girls to mate with them, so that the children who were born from them would be exceptional in voice and form.”

Gaius Iulius Masinissae filius, cuius erant totius oppidi agrorum possessiones, cum patre Caesare militavit. Is hospitio meo est usus. Ita cotidiano convictu necesse fuerat de philologia  disputare. Interim cum esset inter nos de aquae potestate et ius virtutibus sermo, exposuit esse in ea terra eiusmodi fontes, ut, qui ibi procrearentur, voces ad cantandum egregias haberent, ideoque semper transmarinos catlastros emere formonsos et puellas maturas eosque coniungere, ut, qui nascerentur ex his, non solum voce egregia sed etiam forma essent non invenusta.

Frescoes of Marine Life found on a wall along the via La Portuense in the river port of San Paolo Rome CE) – National Museum of Rome

Image result for Ancient Roman river art wall painting
Frescoes found, in the river port of San Paolo Rome  – National Museum of Rome

Pindar, Ol. 1 1–7

“Water is best, yet gold shining as a fire
Clear in the night is beyond all noble wealth—
But if you desire,
Dear heart, to sing of contests,
Don’t look farther than the sun
For any bright star warmer by day, alone in the sky.
And let us sing no contest greater than Olympia.”

Α′ ῎Αριστον μὲν ὕδωρ, ὁ δὲ χρυσὸς αἰθόμενον πῦρ
ἅτε διαπρέπει νυκτὶ μεγάνορος ἔξοχα πλούτου·
εἰ δ’ ἄεθλα γαρύεν
ἔλδεαι, φίλον ἦτορ,
μηκέτ’ ἀελίου σκόπει
ἄλλο θαλπνότερον ἐν ἁμέρᾳ φαεν-
νὸν ἄστρον ἐρήμας δι’ αἰθέρος,
μηδ’ ᾿Ολυμπίας ἀγῶνα φέρτερον αὐδάσομεν·

Thales, fr. 20

“Water is the beginning and the end of everything.”

[οὕτος ἔφη] ἀρχὴν τοῦ παντὸς εἶναι καὶ τέλος τὸ ὕδωρ

Fantastic Friday 3: Waters with Anaesthetic, Aphrodisiac, and Life-Changing Powers

Paradoxographus Vaticanus, 33-38

33 “Aristôn the Peripatetic says that on the island Kios there is a spring of water and when people drink from it they lose all perception.”

᾿Αρίστων ὁ περιπατητικὸς ἐν τῇ νήσῳ Κία πηγήν φησιν ὕδατος εἶναι, ἀφ’ ἧς τοὺς πιόντας ἀναισθήτους γίνεσθαι.

 

34 “Near India there is a lake which admits everything except for gold and silver”

Περὶ τὴν ᾿Ινδικὴν ἔστι λίμνη, ἥτις πάντα †δέχεται† πλὴν χρυσοῦ καὶ ἀργύρου.

 

35 “Hellanikos says that among the Indians there is a spring called Sila from which even the lightest things are hurled back” [?]

῾Ελλάνικος ἐν ᾿Ινδοῖς εἶναί φησι κρήνην Σίλαν καλουμένην, ἐφ’ ἧς καὶ τὰ ἐλαφρότατα καταποντίζεται.

 

36 “In Hierapolis there is a place called Kharônios in which no animal walks at all. For, they immediately fall [there]”

᾿Εν ῾Ιεραπόλει τόπος ἐστὶ Χαρώνιος λεγόμενος, ἐν ᾧ οὐδὲν ζῷον δῆτα βαίνει· πίπτει γὰρ παραυτίκα.

 

37 “The river Selemnos flows through Arkadia and its water is an aphrodisiac.”

Σέλεμνος ποταμὸς ῥέει διὰ τῆς ᾿Αρκαδίας, καὶ ἔστι τὸ ὕδωρ αὐτοῦ ἔρωτος φάρμακον.

 

38 “Theopompos says that there is a spring in Thrace and those who have bathed in it change their life.”

Θεόπομπος κρήνην ἐν Θρᾴκῃ λέγει εἶναι, ἐξ ἧς οἱ λουσάμενοι μεταλλάττουσι τὸν βίον.

Image result for medieval manuscript lake
“But I was a mouse when I went in the water…”

Wednesday’s Wondrous Water, 4: Islands That Swim!

This is the third (and final) installment of the Paradoxographus Florentinus’  Mirabilia de Aquis. Go here for number 3, number 2 and number 1

36 “Around Tarrakina in Italy, Isigonos says that there is a lake called Amuklaia and that there is a deserted city alongside it. The inhabitants there were deprived of the city because of the volume of the water.”

Περὶ δὲ Ταρρακίναν τῆς ᾿Ιταλίας φησὶν ᾿Ισίγονος λίμνην εἶναι ᾿Αμυκλαίαν καλουμένην καὶ παρ’ αὐτῇ πόλιν ἔρημον, ἧς τοὺς ἐνοικοῦντας στερηθῆναι τῆς πόλεως διὰ τὸ πλῆθος τῶν ὕδρων.

37 “In a lake in Italy which is called the Bakanos—and it is 500 stades in length—there is an island covered with mild plants. The Island swims and moves in the direction of the winds. This same phenomenon happens in another lake in Italy which is called Koutilia.”

᾿Επὶ τῆς ἐν ᾿Ιταλίᾳ λίμνης καλουμένης μὲν Βηνάκου, οὔσης δὲ τὸ περίμετρον σταδίων φ’, νῆσός ἐστιν οἰκουμένη κατάφυτος δένδρεσιν ἡμέροις ἐπινηχομένη καὶ μεταβαίνουσα πρὸς τὰς τῶν πνευμάτων φοράς. τὸ δ’ αὐτὸ τοῦτο καὶ ἐν ἑτέρᾳ λίμνῃ τῆς ᾿Ιταλίας Κουτιλίᾳ καλουμένῃ γίνεται.

38 “There is a lake called Ouadimônos in Italy which is not big but it similarly has many islands which are moved around by every wind.”

῎Εστι δὲ καὶ λάκκος Οὐαδίμωνος καλουμένη λίμνη οὐ μεγάλη ἐν ᾿Ιταλίᾳ, ὁμοίως ἔχουσα νησία πλείονα πάσῃ πνοῇ μετακινούμενα.

39 “Near Sardis there is a lake which is called Koloê. It produces a multitude of every kind of delicacy, but it also has islands settled deceptively. For they float around and move position with a gust of wind. This supports so great a number of aquatic birds that they sometimes starve.”

῾Η κατὰ Σάρδεις λίμνη, καλουμένη δὲ Κολόη, πλῆθος μὲν ὄψου πάμπολυ τρέφει· ἔχει δὲ καὶ αὐτὴ νήσους οἰκουμένας πρὸς ἀπάτην· ἐπινήχονται γὰρ καὶ τῇ τῶν ἀνέμων πνοῇ συμμετοικοῦσι· πτηνῶν δὲ τῶν ἐνύδρων τοσοῦτο τρέφει πλῆθος, ὥστε καὶ ταριχεύεσθαι.

40 “They say that it is the water around Sousiana which was processed for Medea’s poisonous medicines. It flows from some spring but is protected by the nearby inhabitants. The animals or equipment who are rubbed with it or moistened with it are kindled when fire comes near to them and they immediately are on fire. This is called naphtha. When it is separated from this land it loses its power, As Isigonos records.”

Τὸ δὲ κατὰ τὴν Σουσιανὴν ὕδωρ φασὶν εἶναι Μηδείας καὶ πεφαρμάχθαι καυστικοῖς φαρμάκοις, ὃ ῥεῖ μὲν ἐκ πηγῆς τινος, φυλάσσεται δὲ ὑπὸ τῶν ἐπιχωρίων. ἔχει δὲ δύναμιν τοιαύτην· τὰ γὰρ χρισθέντα ἢ βραχέντα ἐξ αὐτοῦ ζῷα ἢ σκεύη δειχθέντος μακρόθεν πυρὸς πρὸς αὑτὰ ἐπισπᾶται καὶ παραχρῆμα καίεται. καλεῖται δὲ νάφθα. ἐξενεχθέντα μέντοι τῆς χώρας ἀπόλλυσι τὴν δύναμιν, ὡς ἱστορεῖ ᾿Ισίγονος.

41 “In Italy there is a lake called Sabatos from which, whenever the water is clear, many foundations and temples and plenty of statues show through in the depth. The people who live nearby say that the city which once was there disappeared.

The same thing is said of lake Kiminos in Italy, that there was a city there and it disappeared suddenly.”

᾿Εν ᾿Ιταλίᾳ λίμνη Σάβατος καλουμένη, ἧς ὅταν τὸ ὕδωρ διαυγὲς γένηται, καταφαίνονται ἐν τῷ βυθῷ θεμέλιοι πολλοὶ καὶ ναοὶ καὶ πλῆθος ἀνδριάντων· φασὶ δὲ οἱ ἐπιχώριοι πόλιν ποτὲ οὖσαν καταποθῆναι. τὸ δ’ αὐτὸ λέγεται καὶ περὶ τοῦ Κιμίνου λάκκου ἐν ᾿Ιταλίᾳ, ὡς πόλεως πρότερον οὔσης καὶ αἰφνιδίως καταποθείσης.

42 “There is a lake in Macedonia which is called Luxnîtis and people sail across it for the purpose of investigation. For as they look down into the deep they see enormous benches and endless masses of silver work wondrous for its size and golden tablets and chalices and all the accompaniments of a feast in a wealthy palace.”

῾Η ἐν Μακεδονίᾳ λίμνη καλεῖται μὲν Λυχνῖτις, διαπλέουσι δὲ αὐτὴν ἱστορίας ἕνεκεν· ἐγκύπτοντες γὰρ εἰς τὸν βυθὸν ὁρῶσι τρικλίνους πολυτελεῖς, καὶ ἀργυρωμάτων ἄφθονον πλῆθος τῷ μεγέθει θαυμασίων, καὶ χρυσέων πινάκων τε καὶ ἐκπωμάτων, καὶ πάντων τῶν ἐν βασιλικῷ πλούτῳ πρὸς τρυφὴν  κατασκευασμάτων.

43 “In Lydia there is a lake called Tala which is sacred to nymphs and bears a multitude of reeds and one in the middle which the locals call the king. They propitiate it by making sacrifices and holding annual feasts. While they do these things, then the sound of their voices is on the shore, all the reeds dance and the king appears to dance with them toward the shore. The locals ring the king with sand and send him off, praying that in the future he is present for them as a guardian in a true sign [?] as Isigonos records in his second book of Unbelievable Things.

᾿Εν Λυδίᾳ ἔστι λίμνη †Τάλα† μὲν καλουμένη, ἱερὰ δὲ οὖσα νυμφῶν, ἣ φέρει καλάμων πλῆθος καὶ μέσον αὐτῶν  ἕνα, ὃν βασιλέα προσαγορεύουσιν οἱ ἐπιχώριοι. θυσίας δὲ καὶ ἑορτὰς ἐπιτελοῦντες ἐνιαυσίους ἐξιλάσκονται· τούτων δὲ ἐπιτελουμένων, ἐπειδὰν ἐπὶ τῆς ἠιόνος κτύπος συμφωνίας γένηται, πάντες οἱ κάλαμοι χορεύουσι καὶ ὁ βασιλεὺς σὺν αὐτοῖς χορεύων παραγίνεται ἐπὶ τὴν ἠιόνα· οἱ δὲ ἐπιχώριοι ταινίαις αὐτὸν καταστέψαντες ἀποπέμπουσιν, εὐχόμενοι καὶ εἰς τὸ ἐπιὸν αὐτόν τε καὶ ἑαυτοὺς παραγενέσθαι ὡς εὐετηρίας ὄντι σημείῳ, ὡς ἱστορεῖ ᾿Ισίγονος ἐν δευτέρῳ ἀπίστων.

 

Image result for medieval manuscript water
British Library: Royal_ms_15_d_ii_f156r

Wednesday’s Wondrous Water 3

This is the third installment of the Paradoxagraphus Florentinus, a text which provides a list of miraculous waters from the ancient world. Here’s the first, and the second.

 27 “In Alliphanos in Italy there is a deep reservoir from which water is seen but if someone lets a line down into it, he does not touch the water but is hindered by some divine force, as Isigonos records.”

᾿Εν δὲ ᾿Αλλιφάνῳ τῆς ᾿Ιταλίας φρεάτιόν ἐστι βαθύ, οὗ τὸ μὲν ὕδωρ βλέπεται, ἡλίκον δὲ ἄν τις χαλάσῃ σχοινίον, οὐκ ἐφάπτεται τοῦ ὕδατος, ἀλλ’ ὑπό τινος θείου κωλύεται, ὥς φησιν ᾿Ισίγονος.

28 There is a pond in Italy near Cumae and when the leaves or fruit from the trees that are nearby fall they immediately become invisible while they shrink.”

῎Αουερνός ἐστι λίμνη ἐν ᾿Ιταλίᾳ περὶ Κούμας, εἰς ἣν τὰ ἐκ τῆς περικειμένης ὕλης ἐμπίπτοντα φύλλα ἢ κάρφη ἀφανῆ γίνεται βυθιζόμενα παραχρῆμα.

29 “Aristotle records that in Carthage there is a spring gentler than olive oil. They hide it so that no one may secretly approach it.”

᾿Αριστοτέλης ἱστορεῖ κατὰ Καρχηδόνα κρήνην εἶναι ἐλαίου προσηνεστέραν· ἂν δὲ μή τις ἁγνὸς προσίῃ, ἐκλείπειν αὐτήν.

30 “Near Gela in Sicily there is a lake called Silla, extremely small, which hurls those who bathe in it onto dry land as if from an instrument, as Aristotle says.”

Περὶ Γέλαν τῆς Σικελίας ἔστι λίμνη Σίλλα καλουμένη, ἐλαχίστη τὸ μέγεθος, ἥτις τοὺς ἐν αὐτῇ λουομένους εἰς τὸ ξηρὸν ἐκρίπτει ὡς ἀπ’ ὀργάνου τινός, ὥς φησιν ᾿Αριστοτέλης.

31 “Along the Eridanos river there is a pond around the Elektryan islands which has warm water but has a heavy smell and no animal will taste from it.”

Παρὰ τὸν ᾿Ηριδανὸν ποταμὸν ἔστι λίμνη κατὰ τὰς ᾿Ηλεκτρίδας νήσους, ὕδωρ ἔχουσα θερμόν, ὀσμὴν δὲ βαρεῖαν, ἀφ’ ἧς οὐδὲν ζῷον γεύεται.

32 “The lake near Abdêra which is called Kusteiros is one which they claim that Xerxes’ army drank dry.”

Τὴν κατὰ ῎Αβδηρα λίμνην Κύστειρον καλουμένην φασὶ τὸ Χέρξου στράτευμα πῖνον ἀναξηρᾶναι.

33 “Hieronymos records that in the land of the Nabataians of Arabia there is a bitter lake in which there are no fish and no other of the animals who live under water. Bricks of asphalt are taken from it by the people who live nearby.”

῾Ιερώνυμος ἱστόρησεν ἐν τῇ Ναβαταίων χώρᾳ τῶν ᾿Αράβων εἶναι λίμνην πικράν, ἐν ᾗ οὔτε ἰχθῦς οὔτε ἄλλο τι τῶν ἐνύδρων ζῴων γίνεσθαι· ἀσφάλτου δὲ πλίνθους ἐξ αὐτῆς αἴρεσθαι ὑπὸ τῶν ἐπιχωρίων.

34 “Puthermos claims, if someone hurls a cup into the eddies of the Strumôn river, then he will find it in the lake near Apollonia

Πύθερμός φησιν, ἐάν τις σκύφον εἰς τὰς τοῦ Στρυμόνος ποταμοῦ δίνας ἐμβάλῃ, τοῦτον εὑρήσειν ἐν τῇ περὶ ᾿Απολλωνίαν λίμνῃ.

35 “Phaethôn says that there is a river on the Bosporos that is so cold that none of the animals are able to abide its chill.”

†Φαέθων† φησὶ τὸν ἐν Βοσπόρῳ ποταμὸν οὕτως εἶναι ψυχρόν, ὥστε μηδὲν τῶν ζῴων ὑπομένειν αὐτοῦ τὴν ψυχρότητα.

Colored Etching, 18th Century

Wednesday’s Wondrous Water, 2

The second part of translations from the Paradoxographus Florentinus: Mirabilia de aquis

12 “Among the Kleitorians [Isigonos] says there is a spring and whenever anyone drinks its water, he cannot bear the smell of wine.”

Παρὰ Κλειτορίοις ὁ αὐτός φησιν εἶναι κρήνην, ἧς ὅταν τις τοῦ ὕδατος πίῃ, τοῦ οἴνου τὴν ὀσμὴν οὐ φέρει.

13 “The same author says that in Italy, in the Rheatinon plain, there is a stream called the Mentes which is similar to the one just mentioned.”

῾Ο αὐτός φησιν ἐν ᾿Ιταλίᾳ, ἐν τῷ ῾Ρεατίνῳ ἀγρῷ, κρήνην εἶναι Μέντην ὀνομαζομένην ὁμοίαν τῇ προειρημένῃ.

14 “Similarly, near Kosê there is a spring which, if you place a container filled with wine in it until it covers the mouth then it is more bitter than vinegar right away according to the same author.”

῾Ομοίως ἐγγὺς Κόσης ἔστι κρήνη, εἰς ἣν ἐὰν θῇς κεράμιον οἴνου γέμον, ὥστε ὑπερχεῖν τὸ στόμα, παντὸς ὄξους εἶναι δριμύτερον παραχρῆμα, ὡς ἱστορεῖ ὁ αὐτός.

15 “Theopompos records that there is a spring in Kingkhrôps in Thrace from which those who bathe in it are immediately transformed.”

Θεόπομπος ἱστορεῖ κρήνην ἐν Κίγχρωψι τῆς Θρᾴκης, ἐξ ἧς τοὺς λουσαμένους παραχρῆμα μεταλλάσσειν.

16 “Hellanikos says that near Magnesia there is a spring in Sipylos and when people drink from it their bowels turn to stone.”

῾Ελλάνικός φησι περὶ Μαγνησίαν τὴν ἐπὶ Σιπύλου πηγὴν εἶναι, ἀφ’ ἧς τοὺς πίνοντας <τὰς> κοιλίας ἀπολιθοῦσθαι.

17 “Ktêsias records that in Aithiopia there is a stream which is similar in color to cinnamon. When people drink from it they change their minds so much that they admit to things which were done secretly.”

Κτησίας δὲ ἐν Αἰθιοπίᾳ κρήνην ἱστορεῖ τῷ χρώματι κιννάβαρι παραπλησίαν· τοὺς δὲ πίνοντας ἀπ’ αὐτῆς παραλλάττειν τὴν διάνοιαν, ὥστε καὶ τὰ κρυφίως πεπραγμένα ὁμολογεῖν.

18 “In Arabia there is the spring of Isis, which, once a cup of wine has been moistened with it, also makes the drink more tempered, as Amômêtos says.”

᾿Εν ᾿Αραβίᾳ ἔστιν ῎Ισιδος κρήνη, ἥτις κοτύλης οἴνου ἐμβληθείσης κίρναται καὶ πρὸς τὴν πόσιν εὔκρατος γίνεται, ὥς φησιν ᾿Αμώμητος.

19 “Aristotle says that the spring of Ammon, whose water at midday and midnight is hot, is by nature the coldest.”

᾿Αριστοτέλης ῎Αμμωνος κρήνην εἶναί φησιν, ἧς τὸ ὕδωρ μεσημβρίας καὶ μεσονύκτου γίνεσθαι θερμόν, ὂν φύσει ψυχρότατον.

20 “Theopompos says that in Lugkêstai there is a spring which tastes like vinegar but when people drink it they get drunk as is from wine.”

Θεόπομπος ἐν Λυγκήσταις φησὶ πηγὴν εἶναι τῇ μὲν γεύσει ὀξίζουσαν, τοὺς δὲ πίνοντας μεθύσκεσθαι ὡς ἀπὸ οἴνου.

21 “Among the Sukaminai the city has a pond and when people either bathe in it or drink from it their hair falls off and hooves of senseless animals fall off, as Isigonos records.”

᾿Εν Συκαμίναις πόλει λίμνη ἐστίν, ἧς τῷ ὕδατι οἱ λουσάμενοι ἢ πιόντες ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ μαδῶσι τὰς τρίχας, τῶν δὲ ἀλόγων ζῴων αἱ ὁπλαὶ ἀποπίπτουσιν, ὡς ἱστορεῖ ᾿Ισίγονος.

22 “Herakleides of Pontus says that there is a pond among the Sauromati and any birds who have flown over it fall into it”

῾Ηρακλείδης ὁ Ποντικὸς λίμνην ἐν Σαυρομάταις φησὶν εἶναι, περὶ ἣν τὰ πετασθέντα τῶν ὀρνέων εἰς αὐτὴν πίπτειν.

22 “Herodotus records that there is a spring among the Macrobian Aithiopians from which people anoint themselves after they bathe.”

῾Ηρόδοτος ἐν Μακροβίοις Αἰθίοψι κρήνην ἱστορεῖ, ἀφ’ ἧς τοὺς λουσαμένους λιπαίνεσθαι.

[Note: the Greek in the epigram below is a little strange. I am not sure I have it right.]

24 “Among the Kleitorians of Arkadia they say there is a spring and when people drink from it they hate wine. Next to this this kind of epigram is placed

Hick, with flocks, at midday thirst weighs down on you
As you come through the farthest part of Kleitoros;
Take a drink from this spring. And rest your whole flock
Among the water nymphs here.
But don’t put your skin to bathe, so that the smell
might not cause you pain when you are in drunken pleasure.

Avoid my vine-hating spring where Melampous*,
Once he washed of the madness of harsh Proitos**
Cut off every disgrace in secret, when they came from Argos
to the mountains of steep Arkadia.”

᾿Εν Κλειτορίοις δὲ τῆς ᾿Αρκαδίας κρήνην φασὶν εἶναι, ἀφ’ ἧς τοὺς πίνοντας μισεῖν τὸν οἶνον· ἐπικεχάρακται δὲ ἐπ’ αὐτῆς ἐπίγραμμα τοιόνδε·

ἀγρότα, σὺν ποίμναις, τὸ μεσημβρινὸν ἤν σε βαρύνῃ
δίψος ἀν’ ἐσχατιὰς Κλείτορος ἐρχόμενον,
τῆς μὲν ἀπὸ κρήνης ἄρυσαι πόμα· καὶ παρὰ νύμφαις
ὑδριάσι στῆσον πᾶν τὸ σὸν αἰπόλιον.
ἀλλὰ σὺ μήτ’ ἐπὶ λουτρὰ βάλῃς χροΐ, μή σε καὶ αὔρη
πημήνῃ τερπνῆς ἐντὸς ἐόντα μέθης.
φεῦγε δ’ ἐμὴν πηγὴν μισάμπελον, ἔνθα Μελάμπους
λουσάμενος λύσσης Προιτίδος ἀργαλέης
πάντα καθαρμὸν ἔκοψεν ἀπόκρυφον· †αγαρ† ἀπ’ ῎Αργους
οὔρεα τρηχείης ἤλυθον ᾿Αρκαδίης.

Textual variations:   ἀρτεμέας for ἀργαλέης; for ἔβαψεν for ἔκοψεν

*Melampous was a seer who dealt with the king Proitos in either Argos or Pylos. The references to “vine-hating” and “washing” recall the story of Melampous cleansing the women of the city of madness inspired by Dionysus. Hence, the water makes people hate wine. This epigram appears in a supplement to the Greek Anthology and Vitruvius

25 “Aristôn the peripatetic philosopher says that there is a spring of water in Kios and when people drink from it they lose their senses in their mind. And he adds that there is this kind of an epigram for it.

“Sweet is the offering of the cool drink which this spring
Offers up. But whoever drinks of it is a stone in his mind.”

᾿Αρίστων δὲ ὁ περιπατητικὸς φιλόσοφος ἐν τῇ Κίῳ πηγήν φησιν ὕδατος εἶναι, ἀφ’ ἧς τοὺς πίνοντας ἀναισθήτους γίνεσθαι ταῖς ψυχαῖς· εἶναι δὲ καὶ ἐπὶ ταύτης ἐπίγραμμα τοιόνδε·

ἡδεῖα ψυχροῖο ποτοῦ λιβάς, ἣν ἀναβάλλει
πηγή· ἀλλὰ νόῳ πέτρος ὁ τῆσδε πιών.

Image result for medieval manuscript water
France ca. 1310 BnF, Français 12400, fol. 6r 

Thirsty Thursday: Wondrous Waters and Wine

Some more amazing tales for a Summer of Wonder. 

Paradoxagraphus Florentinus: Mirabilia de Aquis

12 “Among the Kleitorians [Isigonos] says there is a spring and whenever anyone drinks its water, he cannot bear the smell of wine.”

Παρὰ Κλειτορίοις ὁ αὐτός φησιν εἶναι κρήνην, ἧς ὅταν τις τοῦ ὕδατος πίῃ, τοῦ οἴνου τὴν ὀσμὴν οὐ φέρει.

14 “Similarly, near Kosê there is a spring which, if you place a container filled with wine in it until it covers the mouth, then it becomes more bitter than vinegar right away according to the same author.”

῾Ομοίως ἐγγὺς Κόσης ἔστι κρήνη, εἰς ἣν ἐὰν θῇς κεράμιον οἴνου γέμον, ὥστε ὑπερχεῖν τὸ στόμα, παντὸς ὄξους εἶναι δριμύτερον παραχρῆμα, ὡς ἱστορεῖ ὁ αὐτός.

20 “Theopompos says that in Lugkêstai there is a spring which tastes like vinegar but when people drink it they get drunk as if from wine.”

Θεόπομπος ἐν Λυγκήσταις φησὶ πηγὴν εἶναι τῇ μὲν γεύσει ὀξίζουσαν, τοὺς δὲ πίνοντας μεθύσκεσθαι ὡς ἀπὸ οἴνου.

 

Paradoxographus Palatinus: Admiranda

5“There is a spring among the Kleitori which if someone drinks from he will reject and hate drinking wine”

Τῆς ἐν Κλείτορι κρήνης ἄν τις πίῃ τοῦ ὕδατος, ἀποστρέφεται καὶ μισεῖ τὴν τοῦ οἴνου πόσιν.

7 “In Naxos Aglaosthenês says that wine bubbles up on its own for the earth and when it goes into rivers it does not mix with water. The person who tastes it goes crazy”

Εν Νάξῳ φησὶν ᾿Αγλαοσθένης οἶνον ἐκ τῆς γῆς ἀναβλύζειν αὐτόματον καὶ διὰ ποταμοῦ φερόμενον μὴ συμμίσγεσθαι ὕδατι. τὸν δὲ γευσάμενον αὐτοῦ παραφρονεῖν.

From Li Livres dou Santé by Aldobrandino of Siena (France, late 13th century).

Springs Feeding Beautiful Voices: An Odd Philological Detail

Vitruvius 8. 25

“Gaius Julius, Masinissa’s son, who controlled all the lands of the city, fought alongside the emperor. He was my guest from time to time. In our daily conversations we often were compelled to argue about philology.

Once we had a debate about the power of water and its finer qualities. He told me that there were springs which came from his own land along which whoever was born there developed exceptional singing voices. Because of this, people used to purchase fine looking lads and full-grown girls to mate with them, so that the children who were born from them would be exceptional in voice and form.”

Gaius Iulius Masinissae filius, cuius erant totius oppidi agrorum possessiones, cum patre Caesare militavit. Is hospitio meo est usus. Ita cotidiano convictu necesse fuerat de philologia  disputare. Interim cum esset inter nos de aquae potestate et ius virtutibus sermo, exposuit esse in ea terra eiusmodi fontes, ut, qui ibi procrearentur, voces ad cantandum egregias haberent, ideoque semper transmarinos catlastros emere formonsos et puellas maturas eosque coniungere, ut, qui nascerentur ex his, non solum voce egregia sed etiam forma essent non invenusta.

Frescoes of Marine Life found on a wall along the via La Portuense in the river port of San Paolo Rome CE) – National Museum of Rome

Image result for Ancient Roman river art wall painting
Frescoes found, in the river port of San Paolo Rome  – National Museum of Rome

Pindar, Ol. 1 1–7

“Water is best, yet gold shining as a fire
Clear in the night is beyond all noble wealth—
But if you desire,
Dear heart, to sing of contests,
Don’t look farther than the sun
For any bright star warmer by day, alone in the sky.
And let us sing no contest greater than Olympia.”

Α′ ῎Αριστον μὲν ὕδωρ, ὁ δὲ χρυσὸς αἰθόμενον πῦρ
ἅτε διαπρέπει νυκτὶ μεγάνορος ἔξοχα πλούτου·
εἰ δ’ ἄεθλα γαρύεν
ἔλδεαι, φίλον ἦτορ,
μηκέτ’ ἀελίου σκόπει
ἄλλο θαλπνότερον ἐν ἁμέρᾳ φαεν-
νὸν ἄστρον ἐρήμας δι’ αἰθέρος,
μηδ’ ᾿Ολυμπίας ἀγῶνα φέρτερον αὐδάσομεν·

Thales, fr. 20

“Water is the beginning and the end of everything.”

[οὕτος ἔφη] ἀρχὴν τοῦ παντὸς εἶναι καὶ τέλος τὸ ὕδωρ