Drinking Games, Ugly Wives, and Funny Monkeys: The Observational Wit of Anacharsis the Skythian

I posted the sayings of Anacharsis the Scythian last year

Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 10.50

“Anacharsis the Skythian, when a they had a drinking contest at Periander’s house, asked for the first prize because he was the first of the drinkers to get drunk, believing that the  goal of a drinking contest was the same as running: being first.”

᾿Ανάχαρσις δ’ ὁ Σκύθης παρὰ Περιάνδρῳ τεθέντος ἄθλου περὶ τοῦ πίνειν ᾔτησε τὸ νικητήριον πρῶτος μεθυσθεὶς τῶν συμπαρόντων, ὡς ὄντος τέλους τούτου καὶ τῆς ἐν τῷ πότῳ νίκης ὥσπερ καὶ τῆς ἐν τῷ τρέχειν.

10.64

“Anacharsis has shown that getting drunk keeps our eyes from seeing clearly—that opinions of the drunk tend to be wrong. For when a fellow drinker saw his wife at a party, he said “Anacharsis, you have married an ugly woman.” And he responded, “That’s quite clear to me. But pour me a stronger drink, child, and I’ll make her pretty!”

ὅτι δὲ τὸ μεθύειν καὶ τὰς ὄψεις ἡμῶν πλανᾷ σαφῶς ἔδειξεν ᾿Ανάχαρσις δι’ ὧνεἴρηκε, δηλώσας ὅτι ψευδεῖς δόξαι τοῖς μεθύουσι γίγνονται. συμπότης γάρ τις ἰδὼν αὐτοῦ τὴν γυναῖκα ἐν τῷ συμποσίῳ ἔφη· ‘ὦ ᾿Ανάχαρσι, γυναῖκα γεγάμηκας αἰσχράν.’ καὶ ὃς ἔφη· ‘πάνυ γε κἀμοὶ δοκεῖ· ἀλλά μοι ἔγχεον, ὦ παῖ, ποτήριον ἀκρατέστερον, ὅπως αὐτὴν καλὴν ποιήσω.’

14.2

“I also know that Anacharsis the Skythian, when comedians were performing at a dinner party, sat there without laughing. But when a monkey came in, he laughed and said “This is funny by nature; but the man has to practice.”

καίτοι γε οἶδα καὶ ᾿Ανάχαρσιν τὸν Σκύθην ἐν συμποσίῳ γελωτοποιῶν εἰσαχθέντων ἀγέλαστον διαμείναντα, πιθήκου δ’ ἐπεισαχθέντος γελάσαντα φάναι, ὡς οὗτος μὲν φύσει γελοῖός ἐστιν, ὁ δ’ ἄνθρωπος ἐπιτηδεύσει.

Anacharsis.png

Suda

s.v. Angkura: Note that Anakharsis, a Skythian philosopher, invented the anchor and the potter’s wheel. He lived around the time of Kroisos.

Ἄγκυραν: ὅτι Ἀνάχαρσις Σκύθης φιλόσοφος εὗρεν ἄγκυραν καὶ τὸν κεραμεικὸν τροχόν. ἦν δὲ ἐπὶ Κροίσου.

“s.v. Anacharsis, the son of Gnuros, and a Greek woman. A Skythian, philosopher, and brother of the king of the Skythians, Kadouias. He wrote Laws of the Scythians in epic verse, On the Simplicity of the Affairs of Human Life, adding up to around eight hundred lines. He invented the anchor and the potter’s wheel. He died while performing Greek rites because his brother was conspiring against him. According to others, he died in deep old age, nearly 100 years old.”

᾿Ανάχαρσις, Γνύρου, μητρὸς δὲ ῾Ελληνίδος, Σκύθης, φιλόσοφος, ἀδελφὸς Καδουΐα τοῦ Σκυθῶν βασιλέως. ἔγραψε Νόμιμα Σκυθικὰ δι’ ἐπῶν, Περὶ εὐτελείας τῶν εἰς τὸν ἀνθρώπινον βίον ἔπη πάντα ω′. εὗρε δὲ οὗτος ἄγκυραν καὶ τὸν κεραμεικὸν τροχόν. ἦν δὲ ἐπὶ Κροίσου. καὶ τετελεύτηκεν ῾Ελληνικὰς τελετὰς ἐπιτελῶν ἐν Σκύθαις, ἐπιβουλεύσαντος αὐτῷ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ· κατὰ δέ τινας ἐν γήρᾳ βαθεῖκαὶ μέχρις ἐτῶν ρ′.

Sometimes You Might be Too Pretty to Be Loved (Sappho to Phaon; Ovid Heroides, 15.31-40)

“If unfair nature denied beauty to me,
Take in exchange for appearance my wit.
I am short, but my name stretches across all lands:
I am the measure of my fame not my height.
If I am not pale enough, well, Cepheian Andromeda,
Dark with the color of her country, pleased Perseus!
White doves often mate with different colors:
The dark turtle-dove has a love dressed in green.
If no one who cannot be worthy of you in beauty alone
will be yours, then no one will ever be yours.”

si mihi difficilis formam natura negavit,
ingenio formae damna repende meae.
sum brevis. at nomen, quod terras impleat omnes,
est mihi: mensuram nominis ipsa fero.
candida si non sum, placuit Cepheia Perseo
Andromede patriae fusca colore suae.
et variis albae iunguntur saepe columbae
et niger a viridi turtur amatur ave.
si nisi quae facie poterit te digna videri,
nulla futura tua est, nulla futura tua est!

Sappho writes this letter, according to Ovid, to Phaon.