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Athenaeus: The Deipnosophists

BOOK 12, Pages 528-544

Translated by C.D.Yonge (1854). A few words and spellings have been changed.

See key to translations for an explanation of the format. The page numbers in the Greek text are shown in red. The chapter numbers in the translation are shown in green.


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[38.] G   [528] But of individual instances I have heard the following stories:   Ctesias, in the third book of his History of Persia, says that all those who were ever kings in Asia devoted themselves mainly to luxury; and above all of them, Ninyas did so, the son of Ninus and Semiramis. He, therefore, remaining indoors and living luxuriously, was never seen by anyone, except by his eunuchs and by his own women.   

  And another king of this sort was Sardanapalus, whom some call the son of Anacyndaraxes, and others the son of Anabaraxarus. And so, when Arbaces, who was one of the generals under him, a Mede by birth, endeavoured to manage, by the assistance of one of the eunuchs, whose name was Sparameizes, to see Sardanapalus; and when he with difficulty prevailed upon him, with the consent of the king himself, - when the Mede entered and saw him, painted with vermilion and adorned like a woman, sitting among his concubines carding purple wool, [529] and sitting among them with his feet up, wearing a woman's robe, and with his beard carefully scraped, and his face smoothed with pumice-stone (for he was whiter than milk, and pencilled under his eyes and eyebrows ; and when he saw Arbaces, he rolled the whites of his eyes), most historians, among whom Duris is one, relate that Arbaces, being indignant at his countrymen being ruled over by such a monarch as that, stabbed him and slew him. But Ctesias says that he went to war with him, and collected a great army, and then that Sardanapalus, being dethroned by Arbaces, died, burning himself alive in his palace, having heaped up a funeral pile four plethra in extent, on which he placed a hundred and fifty golden couches, and a corresponding number of tables, these, too, being all made of gold. And he also erected on the funeral pile a chamber a hundred feet long, made of wood ; and in it he had couches spread, and there he himself lay down with his wife, and his concubines lay on other couches around. For he had sent off his three sons and his daughters, when he saw that his affairs were getting in a dangerous state, to Nineveh, to the king of that city, giving them three thousand talents of gold. And he made the roof of this apartment of large stout beams, and then all the walls of it he made of numerous thick planks, so that it was impossible to escape out of it. And in it he placed ten millions of talents of gold, and a hundred millions of talents of silver, and robes, and purple garments, and every kind of apparel imaginable. And after that he bade the slaves set fire to the pile ; and it was fifteen days burning. And those who saw the smoke wondered, and thought that he was celebrating a great sacrifice; but the eunuchs alone knew what was really being done.   And in this way Sardanapalus, who had spent his life in extraordinary luxury, died with as much magnanimity as possible.   

[39.] G   But Clearchus, relating the history of the king of Persia, says - "In a very prudent manner he proposed prizes for anyone who could invent any delicious food. For this is what, I imagine, is meant by the saying, the brains of Zeus and the king. On which account," he continues, "Sardanapalus was the most happy of all monarchs, who during his whole life preferred enjoyment to everything else, and who, even after his death, shows by his fingers, in the figure carved on his tomb, how much ridicule all human affairs deserve, being not worth the snap of his fingers which he makes . . . anxiety about other things."   

  However, Sardanapalus does not appear to have lived all his life in entire inaction; for the inscription on his tomb says -     
  Sardanapalus 
  The king, and son of Anacyndaraxes, 
  In one day built Anchialē and Tarsus ; 
  But now he's dead.   

  And Amyntas, in the third book of his Stages, says that at Nineveh there is a very high mound, which Cyrus levelled with the ground when he besieged the city, and raised another mound against the city ; and that this mound was said to have been erected by Sardanapalus the son of King Ninus; and that on it there was said to be inscribed, on a marble pillar and in Chaldaean characters, the following inscription, which Choerilus translated into Greek, and put into verse. And the inscription is as follows -   
  I was the king, and while I lived on earth, 
  And saw the bright rays of the genial sun, 
  I ate and drank and loved ; and knew full well 
   [530] The time that men do live on earth was brief, 
  And liable to many sudden changes, 
  Reverses, and calamities. Now others 
  Will have the enjoyment of my luxuries, 
  Which I do leave behind me. For these reasons 
  I never ceased one single day from pleasure.   

  But Cleitarchus, in the fourth book of his History of Alexander, says that Sardanapalus died of old age after he had lost the sovereignty over the Syrians. And Aristobulus says - "In Anchiale, which was built by Sardanapalus, Alexander pitched his camp, when he was on his expedition against the Persians. And at no great distance was the monument of Sardanapalus, on which there was a marble figure putting together the fingers of its right hand, as if it were giving a snap. And there was on it the following inscription in Assyrian characters -   
  Sardanapalus 
  The king, and son of Anacyndarases, 
  In one day built Anchiale and Tarsus. 
  Eat, drink, and love ; the rest's not worth even this,   

   - by "this" meaning the snap he was giving with his fingers.   

[40.] G   But Sardanapalus was not the only king who was very luxurious, but so was also Androcottus the Phrygian. For he also used to wear a robe embroidered with flowers ; and to adorn himself more elegantly than a woman, as Mnaseas relates, in the third book of his History of Europe. But Clearchus, in the fifth book of his Lives, says that Sagaus the king of the Mariandyni used, from luxury, to eat out of his nurse's mouth, till he arrived at old age, that he might not have the trouble of chewing his own food; and that he never put his hand lower than his navel ; on which account Aristotle, laughing at Xenocrates of Chalcedon, for a similar preposterous piece of laziness, says -   
  His hands are clean, but sure his mind is not.    [ Euripides, Hipp_317 ]  

  And Ctesias relates that Annarus, a deputy of the king of Persia, and governor of Babylon, wore the entire dress and ornaments of a woman ; and though he was only a slave of the king, there used to come into the room while he was at supper a hundred and fifty women playing the lyre and singing. And they played and sang all the time that he was eating. And Phoenix of Colophon, the poet, speaking of Ninus, in the first book of his Iambics , says -   
  There was a man named Ninus, as I hear,
  King of Assyria, who had a sea 
  Of liquid gold, and many other treasures, 
  More than the whole sand of the Caspian sea. 
  He never saw a star in all his life, 
  But sat still always, nor did wish to see one ; 
  He never, in his place among the Magi, 
  Housed the sacred fire, as the law bids, 
  Touching the God with consecrated rod ; 
  He was no orator, no prudent judge, 
  He never learned to speak, or count a sum, 
  But was a wondrous man to eat and drink 
  And love, and disregarded all besides : 
  And when he died he left this rule to men. 
  Where Nineveh and his monument now stands: -   
  " Behold and hear, whether from wide Assyria 
  You come, or else from Media, or if 
  You're a Coraxian, or a long-haired native 
  Of the lake country in upper (?) India, 
  For these my warnings are not vain or false : 
  I once was Ninus, a living, breathing man, 
  Now I am nothing, only dust and clay, 
  And all I ate, and all I sang and jested, 
  And all I loved . . .  
  But now my enemies have come upon me, 
  They have my treasures and my happiness, 
   [531] Tearing me as the Bacchants tear a kid ; 
  And I am gone, not taking with me gold. 
  Or horses, or a single silver chariot; 
  Once I did wear a crown, now I am dust.   

[41.] G   But Theopompus, in the fifteenth book of his History of Philip, says  - "Straton the king of Sidon surpassed all men in luxury and devotion to pleasure. For as Homer [ Od_8.248 ] has represented the Phaeacians as living feasting and drinking, and listening to harp-players and rhapsodists, so also did Straton pass the whole of his life; and so much the more devoted to pleasure was he than they, that the Phaeacians, as Homer reports, used to hold their banquets in the company of their own wives and daughters ; but Straton used to prepare his entertainments with flute-playing and harp-playing and lyre-playing women. And he sent for many courtesans from the Peloponnese, and for many musicians from Ionia, and for other girls from every part of Greece; some skilful in singing and some in dancing, for exhibitions of skill in which they had contests before himself and his friends; and with these women he spent a great deal of his time. He then, delighting in such a life as this, and being by nature a slave to his passions, was also especially urged on by rivalry with Nicocles. For he and Nicocles were always rivalling one another; each of them devoted all his attention to living more luxuriously and pleasantly than the other. And so they carried their emulation to such a height, as we have heard, that when either of them heard from his visitors what was the furniture of the other's house, and how great was the expense gone to by the other for any sacrifice, he immediately set to work to surpass him in such things. And they were anxious to appear to all men prosperous and deserving of envy. Nevertheless neither of them continued prosperous throughout the whole of their lives, but were both of them destroyed by violent deaths."   

  And Anaximenes, in his book entitled The Reverses of Kings, giving the same account of Straton, says that he was always endeavouring to rival Nicocles, who was the king of Salamis in Cyprus, and who was exceedingly devoted to luxury and debauchery, and that they both came to a violent end.   

[42.] G   And in the first book of his History of the Affairs of Philip, Theopompus, speaking of Philip, says - " And on the third day he comes to Onocarsis, which was a strong place in Thrace, having a large grove kept in beautiful order, and full of every resource for living pleasantly, especially during the summer. For it was one of the places which had been especially selected by Cotys, who, of all the kings that ever lived in Thrace, was the most eager in his pursuit of pleasure and luxury. And going round all the country, wherever he saw any place shaded with trees and well watered with springs, he made it into a banqueting place. And going to them whenever he chose, he used to celebrate sacrifices to the Gods, and there he would stay with his lieutenants, being a very happy and enviable man, until he took it into his head to blaspheme Athena, and to treat her with contempt." And the historian goes on to say, that Cotys once prepared a feast, as if Athena had married him; and prepared a bedchamber for her, and then, in a state of intoxication, he waited for the goddess. And being already totally out of his mind, [532] he sent one of his body-guards to see whether the goddess had arrived at the bedchamber. And when he came there, and went back and reported that there was nobody there, he shot him with his bow and killed him. And he treated a second in the same way, until a third went, and on his return told him that the goddess had been a long time waiting for him. And this king, being once jealous of his wife, cut her up with his own hands, beginning at her genitals.  

[43.] G   But in the thirteenth book of his History of the Affairs of Philip, speaking of Chabrias the Athenian, he says - "But he was unable to live in the city, partly on account of his licentiousness, and partly because of the extravagant habits of his daily life, and partly because of the Athenians. For they are always unfavourable to eminent men ; on which account their most illustrious citizens preferred to live out of the city. For instance, Iphicrates lived in Thrace, and Conon in Cyprus, and Timotheus in Lesbos, and Chares at Sigeum, and Chabrias himself in Egypt." And about Chares he says, in his forty-fifth book - "But Chares was a slow and stupid man, and one wholly devoted to pleasure. And even when he was engaged in his military expeditions, he used to take about with him female flute-players, and female harp-players, and a lot of common courtesans. And of the money which was contributed for the purposes of the war, some he expended on this sort of profligacy, and some he left behind at Athens, to be distributed among the orators and those who propose decrees, and on those private individuals who had court cases pending. And for all this the Athenian populace was so far from being indignant, that for this very reason he became more popular than any other citizen ; and naturally too : for they all lived in this manner, that their young men spent all their time among flute-players and courtesans ; and those who were a little older than they, devoted themselves to gambling, and profligacy of that sort ; and the whole people spent more money on its public banquets and entertainments than on the provision necessary for the well-being of the state.   

  But in the work of Theopompus, entitled Concerning the Money of which the Temple at Delphi was pillaged, he says - "Chares the Athenian got sixty talents by means of Lysander. And with this money he gave a banquet to the Athenians in the agora, celebrating a triumphal sacrifice in honour of their victory gained in the battle which took place against the mercenaries of Philip." And these troops were commanded by Adaeus, surnamed the Cock, concerning whom Heracleides the comic poet speaks in the following manner -   
  But when he caught the dunghill cock of Philip 
  Crowing too early in the morn, and straying, 
  He killed him ; for he had not got his crest on. 
  And having killed this one, then Chares gave 
  A splendid banquet to the Athenian people; 
  So liberal and magnificent was he.   

  And Duris gives the same account.   

[44.] G   But Idomeneus tells us that the Peisistratidae also, Hippias and Hipparchus, instituted banquets and entertainments; on which account they had a vast quantity of horses and other articles of luxury. And this it was that made their government so oppressive. And yet their father, Peisistratus, had been a moderate man in his pleasures, so that he never stationed guards in his fortified places, nor in his gardens, [533] as Theopompus relates in his twenty-first book, but he let anyone who chose come in and enjoy them, and take whatever he pleased. And Cimon afterwards adopted the same conduct, in imitation of Peisistratus. And Theopompus mentions Cimon in the tenth book of his History of the Affairs of Philip, saying - "Cimon the Athenian never placed anyone in his fields or gardens to protect the fruit, in order that any of the citizens who chose might go in and pick the fruit, and take whatever they wanted in those places. And besides this, he opened his house to everyone, and made a daily practice of providing a plain meal for a great number of people; and all the poor Athenians who came that way might enter and partake of it. He also paid great attention to all those who from day to day came to ask something of him; and they say that he used always to take about with him one or two young men bearing bags of money. And he ordered them to give money to whoever came to him to ask anything of him. And they say that he also often contributed towards the expense of funerals. And this too is a thing that he often did ; whenever he met any citizen poorly clad , he used to order one of the young men who were following him to change cloaks with him. And so by all these means he acquired a high reputation, and was the first of all the citizens. "   

  But Peisistratus was in many respects very oppressive ; and some say that that statue of Dionysus which there is at Athens was made in his likeness.   

[45.] G   And Heracleides of Pontus, in his treatise on Pleasure, says that Pericles, nicknamed the Olympian, after he got rid of his wife out of his house, and devoted himself to a life of pleasure, lived with Aspasia, the courtesan from Megara, and spent the greater part of his substance on her. And Themistocles, when the Athenians were not yet so much given to drink, and had not yet begun to use courtesans, openly filled a chariot with prostitutes, and drove early in the morning through the Cerameicus when it was full [ see 13.576.c ]. But Idomeneus has made this statement in an ambiguous manner, so as to leave it uncertain whether he means that he harnessed the prostitutes in his chariot like horses, or merely that he made them mount his four-horsed chariot. And Possis, in the third book of his History of the Affairs of Magnesia, says, that Themistocles, having been invested with the office of stephanephoros in Magnesia, sacrificed to Athena, and called the festival the Panathenaea. And he sacrificed also to Dionysus Choöpotes, and celebrated the festival of the Choës there. But Clearchus, in the first book of his treatise on Friendship, says that Themistocles had a triclinium of great beauty made for him, and said that he should be quite contented if he could fill that with friends.   

[46.] G   And Chamaeleon of Pontus, in his essay on Anacreon, having quoted these lines -   
  And litter-borne Artemon 
  Is loved by golden-haired Eurypyle,   

   -  says that Artemon derived this nickname from living luxuriously, and being carried about on a couch. For Anacreon says that he had been previously very poor, and then became on a sudden very luxurious, in the following verses -   
  Having before a poor ragged cloak, 
  And scanty cap, and his poor ears 
  With wooden earrings decorated, 
  And wearing round his ribs a newly-bought 
  Raw ox-hide, fit only as a covering
  For an old-fashioned shield, this wretch 
   [534] Artemon, who long has lived 
  With bakers' women, and the lowest of the low. 
  Now having found a new style of life, 
  Often thrusts his neck into the yoke, 
  Or beneath the spear does crouch ; 
  And many a weal he can display, 
  Marked on his back with well-deserved scourge ; 
  And well plucked as to hair and beard. 
  But now he mounts his chariot, he the son 
  Of Cycē, and his golden earrings wears ; 
  And like a woman bears 
  An ivory parasol over his delicate head.   

[47.] G   But Satyrus, speaking of the beautiful Alcibiades, says, - "It is said that when he was in Ionia, he was more luxurious than the Ionians themselves. And when he was in Thebes he trained himself, and practised gymnastic exercises, being more of a Boeotian than the Thebans themselves. And in Thessaly he loved horses and drove chariots; being fonder of horses than the Aleuadae : and at Sparta he practised courage and fortitude, and surpassed the Lacedaemonians themselves. And again, in Thrace he out-drank even the Thracians themselves. And once wishing to tempt his wife, he sent her a thousand darics in another man's name : and being exceedingly beautiful in his person, he cherished his hair the greater part of his life, and used to wear an extraordinary kind of shoe, which is called Alcibias from him. And whenever he was a choregus, he made a procession clad in a purple robe ; and going into the theatre he was admired not only by the men, but also by the women : on which account Antisthenes, the pupil of Socrates, who often had seen Alcibiades, speaks of him as a powerful and manly man, and impatient of restraint, and audacious, and exceedingly beautiful through all his life.   

  "And whenever he went on a journey abroad, he used four of the allied cities as his maid-servants. For the Ephesians used to put up a Persian tent for him; and the Chians used to find him food for his horses; and the people of Cyzicus supplied him with victims for his sacrifices and banquets; and the Lesbians gave him wine, and everything else which he wanted for his daily food. And when he came to Athens from Olympia, he offered up two pictures, the work of Aglaophon : one of which represented the priestesses of Olympia and Delphi crowning him; and in the other Nemea was sitting, and Alcibiades on her knees, appearing more beautiful than any of the women. And even when on military expeditions he wished to appear beautiful ; accordingly he had a shield made of gold and ivory, on which was carved Love brandishing a thunderbolt as the ensign. And once having gone to supper at the house of Anytus, by whom he was greatly beloved, and who was a rich man, when one of the company who was supping there with him was Thrasyllus, (and he was a poor man,) he pledged Thrasyllus in half the cups which were set out on the side-board, and then ordered the servants to carry them to Thrasyllus's house; and then he very civilly wished Anytus good night, and so departed. But Anytus, in a very affectionate and liberal spirit, when someone said what an inconsiderate thing Alcibiades had done ; ' No, by Zeus,' said he, ' but what a kind and considerate thing; for when he had the power to have taken away everything, he has left me half.' "   

[48.] G   And Lysias the orator, speaking of his luxury, says - " For Axiochus and Alcibiades having sailed to the Hellespont, married at Abydus, both of them marrying one wife, Medontias of Abydus, and both cohabited with her. [535] After this a daughter was born to them, and they said that they could not tell whose daughter she was ; and when she was old enough to be married, they both cohabited with her too; and when Alcibiades came to her, he said that she was the daughter of Axiochus, and Axiochus in his turn said she was the daughter of Alcibiades." And he is ridiculed by Eupolis, after the fashion of the comic writers, as being very intemperate with regard to women ; for Eupolis says in his Flatterers -   
  (A)   Let Alcibiades leave the women's rooms. 
  (B)   Why do you jest 
  Will you not now go home and try your hand 
  On your own wife ?  

  And Pherecrates says -   
  For Alcibiades, who's no man at all, 
  Is, as it seems, now every woman's man {or husband}.   

  And when he was at Sparta he seduced Timaea, the wife of Agis the king. And when some people reproached him for so doing, he said that he did not intrigue with her out of incontinence, but in order that a son of his might be king at Sparta; and that the kings might no longer be said to be descended from Heracles, but from Alcibiades; and when he was engaged in his military expeditions, he used to take about with him Timandra, the mother of Lais the Corinthian, and Theodote, who was an Athenian courtesan.   

[49.] G   But after his banishment, having made the Athenians masters of the Hellespont, and having taken more than five thousand Peloponnesians prisoners, he sent them to Athens ; and after this, returning to his country, he crowned the Attic triremes with branches, and streamers, and ribbons. And fastening to his own vessels a quantity of ships which he had taken, with their beaks broken off, to the number of two hundred, and conveying also transports full of Lacedaemonian and Peloponnesian spoils and arms, he sailed into the Peiraeus : and the trireme in which he himself was, ran up to the very bars of the Peiraeus with purple sails; and when it got inside the harbour, and when the rowers took their oars, Chrysogonus played on a flute the trieric air, clad in a Persian robe, and Callippides the tragic actor, clad in a theatrical dress, gave the word to the rowers. On account of which someone said with great wit - "Sparta could never have endured two Lysanders, nor Athens two Alcibiadeses." But Alcibiades used to imitate the medism of Pausanias, and when he was staying with Pharnabazus, he put on a Persian robe, and learnt the Persian language, as Themistocles had done. 

[50.] G   And Duris says, in the twenty-second book of his History,- "Pausanias, the king of Lacedaemon, having laid aside the national cloak of Lacedaemon, adopted the Persian dress. And Dionysius, the tyrant of Sicily, adopted a theatrical robe and a golden tragic crown with a clasp. And Alexander, when he became master of Asia, also adopted the Persian dress.  # But Demetrius outdid them all; for the very shoes which he wore he had made in a most costly manner; for in its form it was a kind of buskin, made of most expensive purple wool; and on this the makers wove a great deal of golden embroidery, both before and behind; and his cloak was of a brilliant tawny colour; and, in short, a representation of the heavens was woven into it, having the stars and twelve signs of the Zodiac all wrought in gold; [536] and his head-band was spangled all over with gold, binding on a purple broad-brimmed hat (causia) in such a manner that the outer fringes hung down the back. And when the Demetrian festival was celebrated at Athens, Demetrius himself was painted on the proscenium, sitting on the world." And Nymphis of Heracleia, in the sixth book of his treatise on his Country, says- "Pausanias, who defeated Mardonius at Plataea, having transgressed the laws of Sparta, and given himself up to pride, when staying near Byzantium, dared to put an inscription on the bronze bowl which is there consecrated to the gods, whose temple is at the entrance of the strait, (and the bowl is in existence to this day,) as if he had dedicated it himself; putting this inscription on it, forgetting himself through his luxury and arrogance:-
  Pausanias, the general of broad Greece,
  Offered this bowl to the royal Poseidon,
  A fit memorial of his deathless valour,
  Here in the Euxine sea. He was by birth
  A Spartan, and Cleombrotus' son,
  Sprung from the ancient race of Heracles."

[51.] G   "Pharax the Lacedaemonian also indulged himself in luxury," as Theopompus tells us in the fourteenth book of his History, "and he abandoned himself to pleasure in so dissolute and unrestrained a manner, that by reason of his intemperance he was more often taken for a Sicilian, than for a Spartan by reason of his place of birth." And in his fifty-second book he says that "Archidamus the Lacedaemonian, having abandoned his national customs, adopted foreign and effeminate habits; so that he could not endure the way of life which existed in his own country, but was always, by reason of his intemperance, anxious to live in foreign countries. And when the Tarentines sent an embassy about an alliance, he was anxious to go out with them as an ally; and being there, and having been slain in the wars, he was not thought worthy even of a burial, although the Tarentines offered a great deal of money to the enemy to be allowed to take up his body." And Phylarchus, in the tenth book of his Histories [ Fr_20 ], says that Isanthes was the king of that tribe of Thracians called Crobyzi, and that he surpassed all the men of his time in luxury; and he was a rich man, and very handsome. And the same historian tells us, in his twenty-second book [ Fr_40 ], that Ptolemy the Second, king of Egypt, the most admirable of all princes, and the most learned and accomplished of men, was so beguiled and debased in his mind by his unseasonable luxury, that he actually dreamed that he should live for ever, and said that he alone had found out how to become immortal. And once, after he had been afflicted by the gout for many days, when at last he got a little better, and saw through his window-blinds some Egyptians dining by the river-side, and eating whatever it might be that they had, and lying at random on the sand, "O wretched man that I am," said he, "that I am not one of those men!"

[52.] G   Now Callias and his flatterers we have already sufficiently mentioned. But since Heracleides of Pontus, in his treatise on Pleasures, speaks of him, we will return to the subject and quote what he says:- "When first the Persians made an expedition against Greece, there was, as they say, an Eretrian of the name of Diomnestus, who became master of all the treasures of the general; for he happened to have pitched his tent in his field, and to have put his money away in some room of his house. But when the Persians were all destroyed, [537] then Diomnestus took the money without any one being aware of it; but when the king of Persia sent an army into Eretria the second time, ordering his generals utterly to destroy the city, then, as was natural, all who were at all well off carried away their treasures. Accordingly those of the family of Diomnestus who were left, secretly removed their money to Athens, to the house of Hipponicus, the son of Callias, who was surnamed Ammon; and when all the Eretrians had been driven out of their city by the Persians, this family remained still in possession of their wealth, which was great. So Hipponicus, who was the descendant of that man who had originally received the deposit, begged the Athenians to grant him a place in the Acropolis, where he might construct a room to store up all this money in, saying that it was not safe for such vast sums to remain in a private house. And the Athenians did grant him such a place; but afterwards, he, being warned against such a step by his friends, changed his mind. Callias, therefore, became the master of all this money, and lived a life of pleasure, (for what limit was there to the flatterers who surrounded him, or to the troops of companions who were always about him? and what extravagance was there which he did not think nothing of ?) However, his voluptuous life afterwards reduced him so low, that he was compelled to pass the rest of his life with one barbarian old woman for a servant, and he lacked even the most basic necessities, and so he died. But who was it who got rid of the riches of Nicias of Pergasē, or of Ischomachus? was it not Autocleēs and Epicleēs, who preferred living with one another, and who considered everything second to pleasure? and after they had squandered all this wealth, they drank hemlock together, and so perished."

[53.] G   But, concerning the luxury of Alexander the Great, Ephippus the Olynthian, in his treatise on the Deaths of Alexander and Hephaestion, says that "he had in his park a golden throne, and couches with silver feet, on which he used to sit and transact business with his companions." But Nicobulē says, that "while he was at supper all the performers and athletes made an effort to entertain the king; and at his very last banquet, Alexander, remembering an episode in the Andromeda of Euripides, recited it in a declamatory manner, and then drank a cup of unmixed wine with great eagerness, and compelled all the rest to do so too." And Ephippus tells us that "Alexander used to wear even the sacred vestments at his banquets; and sometimes he would wear the purple robe, and slit sandals, and horns of Ammon, as if he had been the god; and sometimes he would imitate Artemis, whose dress he often wore while driving in his chariot; having on also a Persian robe, but displaying above his shoulders the bow and javelin of the goddess. Sometimes also he would appear in the guise of Hermes; at other times, and indeed almost every day, he would wear a purple cloak, and a tunic shot with white, and a hat (causia) which had a royal diadem attached to it. And when he was in private with his friends he wore the sandals of Hermes, and the petasus on his head, and held the caduceus in his hand. Often also he wore a lion's skin, and carried a club, like Heracles." What wonder then is it, if in our time the emperor Commodus, when he drove abroad in his chariot, had the club of Heracles lying beside him, with a lion's skin spread at his feet, and liked to be called Heracles, when even Alexander, the pupil of Aristotle, represented himself as like so many gods, and even like Artemis? And Alexander used to have the floor sprinkled with exquisite perfumes and with fragrant wine; [538] and myrrh was burnt before him, and other kinds of incense; and all the bystanders kept silence, or spoke only words of good omen, out of fear. For he was a very violent man, with no regard for human life; for he appeared to be a man of a melancholic constitution. And on one occasion, at Ecbatana, he offered a sacrifice to Dionysus, and everything was prepared in a most lavish manner for the banquet, and Satrabates the satrap, feasted all the soldiers. "But when a great multitude was collected to see the spectacle," says Ephippus, "there were on a sudden some arrogant proclamations published, more insolent even than Persian arrogance was wont to dictate. For, as different people were publishing different proclamations, and proposing to make Alexander large presents, which they called crowns, one of the keepers of his armoury, going beyond all previous flattery, having previously arranged the matter with Alexander, ordered the herald to proclaim that Gorgus, the keeper of the armoury, presents Alexander, the son of Ammon, with three thousand pieces of gold; and will also present him, when he lays siege to Athens, with ten thousand complete suits of armour, and with an equal number of catapults and all weapons required for the war.

[54.] G   And Chares, in the tenth book of his History of Alexander, says- "When he took Dareius prisoner, he celebrated a marriage-feast for himself and his companions, having had ninety-two bedchambers prepared in the same place. There was a house built capable of containing a hundred couches; and in it every couch was adorned with wedding paraphernalia to the value of twenty minae, and was made of silver itself; but his own bed had golden feet. And he also invited to the banquet which be gave, all his own private friends, and those he arranged opposite to himself and the other bridegrooms; and his forces also belonging to the army and navy, and all the ambassadors which were present, and all the other strangers who were staying at his court. And the apartment was furnished in the most costly and magnificent manner, with sumptuous garments and cloths, and beneath them were other cloths of purple, and scarlet, and gold. And, for the sake of solidity, pillars supported the tent, each twenty cubits long, plated all over with gold and silver, and inlaid with precious stones; and all around these were spread costly curtains embroidered with figures of animals, and with gold, having gold and silver curtain-rods. And the circumference of the court was four stades. And the banquet took place, beginning at the sound of a trumpet, at that marriage feast, and on other occasions whenever the king offered a solemn sacrifice, so that all the army knew it. And, this marriage feast lasted five days. And a great number both of barbarians and Greeks brought contributions to it; and also some of the Indian tribes did so. And there were present some wonderful conjurors - Scymnus of Tarentum, and Philistides of Syracuse, and Heracleitus of Mytilene; after whom also Alexis of Tarentum, the rhapsodist, exhibited his skill. There came also harp-players, who played without singing,- Cratinus of Methymna, and Aristonymus the Athenian, and Athenodorus of Teos. And Heracleitus of Tarentum played on the harp, accompanying himself with his voice, and so did Aristocrates the Theban. And of flute-players accompanied with song, there were present Dionysius of Heracleia, and Hyperbolus of Cyzicus. And of other flute-players there were the following, who first of all played the Pythian melody, and afterwards played with the choruses,- Timotheus, Phrynichus, Caphesias, Diophantus, and also Evius the Chalcidian. And from this time forward, those who were formerly called Dionysius-flatterers, were called Alexander-flatterers, on account of the extravagant liberality of their presents, with which Alexander was pleased. And there were also tragedians who acted,- Thessalus, and Athenodorus, and Aristocritus; [539] and of comic actors there were Lycon, and Phormion, and Ariston. There was also Phasimelus the harp-player. And the crowns sent by the ambassadors and by other people amounted in value to fifteen thousand talents.

[55.] G   But Polycleitus of Larissa, in the eighth book of his History, says that Alexander used to sleep on a golden couch, and that flute-playing men and women followed him to the camp, and that he used to drink till daybreak. And Clearchus, in his treatise on Lives, speaking of Dareius who was dethroned by Alexander, says, "The king of the Persians offered prizes to those who could invent pleasures for him, and by this conduct allowed his whole empire and sovereignty to be subverted by pleasures. Nor was he aware that he was defeating himself till others had wrested his sceptre from him and had been proclaimed in his place." And Phylarchus, in the twenty-third book of his History [ Fr_41 ], and Agatharchides of Cnidus, in the tenth book of his History of Asia, say that the companions also of Alexander gave way to the most extravagant luxury. And one of them was a man named Agnon, who used to wear golden studs in his sandals and shoes. And Cleitus, who was surnamed The White, whenever he was about to transact business, used to converse with every one who came to him while walking about on a purple carpet. And Perdiccas and Craterus, who were fond of athletic exercises, had men follow them with hides fastened together, so as to cover a place an entire stade in extent; and then they selected a spot within the encampment which they had covered with these skins as an awning; and under this they practised their gymnastics. They were followed also by numerous beasts of burden, which carried sand for the use of the palaestra. And Leonnatus and Menelaus, who were very fond of hunting, had curtains brought after them calculated to enclose a space a hundred stades in circumference, with which they fenced in a large space and then practised hunting within it. And as for the golden plane-trees, and the golden vine - having on it bunches of grapes made of emeralds and Indian carbuncles, and all sorts of other stones of the most costly and magnificent description, under which the kings of Persia used often to sit when transacting business,- the expense of all this, says Phylarchus, was far less than the daily sums squandered by Alexander; for he had a tent capable of containing a hundred couches, and fifty golden pillars supported it. And over it were spread golden canopies wrought with the most superb and costly embroidery, to shade all the upper part of it. And first of all, five hundred Persian Melophori stood all round the inside of it, clad in robes of purple and apple-green; and besides them there were bowmen to the number of a thousand, some clad in garments of a fiery red, and others in purple; and many of them had blue cloaks. And in front of them stood five hundred Macedonian Argyraspides; and in the middle of the tent was placed a golden chair, on which Alexander used to sit and transact business, his body-guards standing all around. And on the outside, and round the tent, was a troop of elephants regularly equipped, and a thousand Macedonians, in Macedonian uniform; and then ten thousand Persians: and the number of those who wore purple amounted to five hundred, to whom Alexander gave this clothing for them to wear. And though he had such a numerous retinue of friends and servants, still no one dared to approach Alexander of his own accord; so great was his dignity and the veneration with which they regarded him. And at that time Alexander wrote letters to the cities in Ionia, and to the Chians first of all, to send him a quantity of purple; [540] for he wished all his companions to wear purple robes. And when his letter was read among the Chians, Theocritus the philosopher being present, said that now he understood the verse in Homer [ Il_5'83 ] -
  He fell by purple death and mighty fate.

[56.] G   And Poseidonius, in the twenty-eighth book of his History [ Fr_21 ], says that "Antiochus the king, who was surnamed Grypus, when he was celebrating the games at Daphne, gave a magnificent banquet; at which, first of all, a distribution of entire joints took place, and after that another distribution of geese, and hares, and antelopes all alive. There were also," says he, "distributed golden crowns to the feasters, and a great quantity of silver plate, and of servants, and horses, and camels. And every one was expected to mount a camel, and drink; and after that he was presented with the camel, and with all that was on the camel, and the boy who stood by it."  # And in his fourteenth book [ Fr_9 ], speaking of his namesake Antiochus, who made war upon Arsaces, and invaded Media, he says that "he made a feast for a great multitude every day; at which, besides the things which were consumed, and the heaps of fragments which were left, every one of the guests carried away with him entire joints of beasts, and birds, and fishes which had never been carved, all ready dressed, in sufficient quantities to fill a wagon. And after this they were presented with a quantity of honey-cakes, and chaplets, and crowns of myrrh and frankincense, with turbans as long as a man, made of strips of gold brocade.

[57.] G   But Clytus, the pupil of Aristotle, in his History of Miletus, says that "Polycrates, the tyrant of Samos, collected everything that was worth speaking of everywhere to gratify his luxury, having assembled dogs from Epirus, and goats from Scyros, and sheep from Miletus, and swine from Sicily." And Alexis, in the third book of his Samian Annals, says- that "Samos was adorned by Polycrates with the productions of many other cities; as he imported Molossian and Lacedaemonian dogs, and goats from Scyros and Naxos, and sheep from Miletus and Attica. He also," says he, "sent for artists, promising them enormous wages. But before he became tyrant, having prepared a number of costly couches and goblets, he allowed any one the use of them who was preparing any marriage-feast or extraordinary entertainment." And after hearing all these particulars we may well admire the tyrant, because it was nowhere written that he had sent for any women or boys from any other countries, although he was of a very amorous nature, and was a rival in love of Anacreon the poet; and once, in a fit of jealousy, he cut off all the hair of the object of his passion. And Polycrates was the first man who called the ships which he had built Samians, in honour of his country.

But Clearchus says that "Polycrates, the tyrant of the effeminate Samos, was ruined by the intemperance of his life, imitating the effeminate practices of the Lydians; on which account, in opposition to the place in Sardis called the beautiful Ancon, he prepared a place in the chief city of the Samians, called Laura; he made those famous Samian flowers in opposition to the Lydian. And the Samian Laura was a narrow street in the city, full of common women, and of all kinds of food calculated to gratify intemperance and to promote enjoyment, with which things he actually filled Greece. [541] But the flowers of the Samians are the pre-eminent beauty of the men and women, and indeed of the whole city, at its festivals and banquets." And these are the words of Clearchus. And I myself am acquainted with a narrow street in my native city of Alexandria, which to this very day is called the Happy Street, in which every apparatus of luxury used to be sold.

[58.] G   But Aristotle, in his treatise on Admirable and Wonderful Things, says that "Alcisthenes of Sybaris, out of luxury, had a garment prepared for him of such excessive expensiveness that he exhibited it at Lacinium, at the festival of Hera, at which all the Italians assemble, and that of all the things which were exhibited that was the most admired." And he says that "Dionysius the elder afterwards took possession of it, and sold it to the Carthaginians for a hundred and twenty talents." Polemon also speaks of it in his book entitled, A Treatise concerning the Sacred Garments at Carthage. But concerning Smindyrides of Sybaris, and his luxury, Herodotus has told us, in his sixth book [ 6.126 ], saying that he sailed from Sybaris to court Agariste, the daughter of Cleisthenes the tyrant of Sicyon. "And," says he, "there came from Italy Smindyrides, the son of Hippocrates, a citizen of Sybaris; who carried his luxury to the greatest height that ever was heard of among men. At all events he was attended by a thousand cooks and bird-catchers." Timaeus also mentions him in his seventh book.

But of the luxury of Dionysius the younger, who was also tyrant of Sicily, an account is given by Satyrus the Peripatetic, in his Lives. For he says that he used to fill rooms holding thirty couches with feasters. And Clearchus, in the fourth book of his Lives, writes as follows:- "But Dionysius, the son of Dionysius, the cruel oppressor of all Sicily, when he came to the city of the Locrians, which was his metropolis, (for Doris his mother was a Locrian woman by birth,) having strewed the floor of the largest house in the city with wild thyme and roses, sent for all the maidens of the Locrians in turn; and then rolled about naked, with them naked also, on this layer of flowers, omitting no circumstance of infamy. And so, not long afterwards, they who had been insulted in this manner having got his wife and children into their power, prostituted them in the public roads with great insult, sparing them no kind of degradation. And when they had wreaked their vengeance upon them, they thrust needles under the nails of their fingers, and put them to death with torture. And when they were dead, they pounded their bones in mortars, and having cut up and distributed the rest of their flesh, they imprecated curses on all who did not eat of it; and in accordance with this unholy imprecation, they put their flesh into the mills with the flour, that it might be eaten by all those who made bread. And all the other parts they sunk in the sea. But Dionysius himself, at last going about as a begging priest of Cybele, and beating the drum, ended his life very miserably. We, therefore, ought to guard against what is called luxury, which is the ruin of a man's life; and we ought to think insolence the destruction of everything."

[59.] G   But Diodorus Siculus, in his Historical Library [ 11.25 ], says that "the citizens of Acragas prepared for Gelon a very costly swimming-bath, being seven stades in circumference and twenty cubits deep; and water was introduced into it from the rivers and fountains, and it served for a great pond to breed fish in, and supplied great quantities of fish for the luxury and enjoyment of Gelon. A great number of swans also," as he relates, "flew into it; so that it was a very beautiful sight. But afterwards the lake was destroyed by becoming filled with mud." [542] And Duris, in the (?) fourth book of his History of Agathocles, says that near the city of Hipponium a grove is shown of extraordinary beauty, excellently well watered; in which there is also a place called the Horn of Amaltheia; and that this grove was made by Gelon. But Silenus of Calatia, in the third book of his History of Sicily, says that near Syracuse there is a garden laid out in a most expensive manner, which is called Mythus, in which Hieron the king used to transact his business. And the whole country about Panormus in Sicily is called The Garden, because it is full of highly-cultivated trees, as Callias tells us in the eighth book of his History of Agathocles.

And Poseidonius, in the eighth book of his History [ Fr_7 ], speaking of Damophilus the Sicilian, by whose means it was that the Servile war was stirred up, and saying that he was a slave to his luxury, writes as follows:- "He therefore was a slave to luxury and debauchery. And he used to drive through the country on a four-wheeled chariot, taking with him horses, and servants of great personal beauty, and a disorderly crowd of flatterers and military boys running around his chariot. And ultimately he, with his whole family, perished in a disgraceful manner, being treated with the most extreme violence and insult by his own slaves.

[60.] G   And Demetrius Phalereus, as Duris says in the sixteenth volume of his Histories, being possessed of a revenue of twelve hundred talents a year, and spending a small portion of it on his soldiers, and on the necessary expenses of the state, squandered all the rest of it on gratifying his innate love of debauchery, having splendid banquets every day, and a great number of guests to feast with him. And in the prodigality of his expense in his entertainments, he outdid even the Macedonians, and, at the same time, in the elegance of them, he surpassed the Cyprians and Phoenicians. And perfumes were sprinkled over the ground, and many of the floors in the men's apartments were inlaid with flowers, and were exquisitely wrought in other ways by the artists. There were also secret meetings with women, and other scenes more shameful still. And Demetrius, who gave laws to others, and who regulated the lives of others, exhibited in his own life an utter contempt of all law. He also paid great attention to his personal appearance, and dyed the hair of his head with a yellow colour, and anointed his face with rouge, and smeared himself over with other unguents also; for he was anxious to appear agreeable and beautiful in the eyes of all whom he met.

 # And in the procession of the Dionysia, which he celebrated when he was archon at Athens, a chorus sang an ode of Castorion of Soli, addressed to him, in which he was called, "like the sun":
  And above all the noble prince
  Demetrius, like the sun in face,
  Honours you [Dionysus] with a holy worship.

And Carystius of Pergamon, in the third book of his Commentaries, says- "Demetrius Phalereus, when his brother Himeraeus was put to death by Antipater, was himself staying with Nicanor; and he was accused of having sacrificed the Epiphaneia in honour of his brother. And after he became a friend of Cassander, he was very powerful. And at first his dinner consisted of a kind of pickle, containing olives from all countries, and cheese from the islands; but when he became rich, he bought Moschion, the most skilful of all the cooks and confectioners of that age. And he had such vast quantities of food prepared for him every day, that, as he gave Moschion what was left each day, he (Moschion) in two years purchased three detached houses in the city; and insulted free-born boys, and some of the wives of the most eminent of the citizens: and all the boys envied Theognis, with whom he was in love. And so important an honour was it considered to be allowed to come near Demetrius, that, as he one day had walked about after dinner near the Tripods, [543] on all the following days all the most beautiful boys came together to that place, in the hopes of being seen by him."

[61.] G    # And Nicolaus the Peripatetic, in the (?) hundred and tenth book of his History, says that Lucullus, after he came to Rome and celebrated his triumph, and gave an account of the war against Mithridates, ran into the most unbounded extravagance, although he had previously been very moderate; and he was altogether the first guide to luxury, and the first example of it, among the Romans, having become master of the riches of two kings, Mithridates and Tigranes. And Sittius, also, was a man very notorious among the Romans for his luxury and effeminacy, as Rutilius tells us; for as to Apicius, we have already spoken of him. And almost all historians relate that Pausanias and Lysander were very notorious for their luxury; on which account Agis said of Lysander, that Sparta had produced him as a second Pausanias. But Theopompus, in the tenth book of his History of the Affairs of Greece, gives exactly the contrary account of Lysander, saying that "he was a most hard-working man, able to earn the goodwill of both private individuals and monarchs, being very moderate and temperate, and unaffected by all the allurements of pleasure; and accordingly, when he had become master of almost the whole of Greece, it will be found that he never in any city indulged in lustful excesses, or in unreasonable drinking parties and revels."

[62.] G   But luxury and extravagance were so very much practised among the ancients, that even Parrhasius the painter always wore a purple robe, and a golden crown on his head, as Clearchus relates, in his Lives: for he, being most immoderately luxurious, and also to a degree beyond what was becoming to a painter, laid claim, in words, to great virtue, and inscribed upon the works which were done by him-
  Parrhasius, a most luxurious (ἁβροδίαιτος) man,
  And yet a follower of purest virtue,
  Painted this work.
But some one else, being indignant at this inscription, wrote by the side of it, ῥαβδοδίαιτος (worthy of a stick).

Parrhasius also put the following inscription on many of his works:
  Parrhasius, a most luxurious man,
  And yet a follower of purest virtue,
  Painted this work: a worthy citizen
  Of noble Ephesus. His father's name
  Euenor was, and he, his lawful son,
  Was the foremost artist in all of Greece.

He also boasted, in a way which no one could be indignant at, in the following lines:
  This will I say, though strange it may appear,
  That clear plain limits of this noble art
  Have been discovered by my hand, and proved.
  And now the boundary which none can pass
  Is well defined, though nought that men can do
  Will ever wholly escape blame or envy.

And once, at Samos, when he was contending with a very inferior painter in a picture of Ajax, and was defeated, when his friends were sympathising with him and expressing their indignation, he said that he himself cared very little about it, but that he was sorry for Ajax, who was thus defeated a second time. And so great was his luxury, that he wore a purple robe, and a white turban on his head; and used to lean on a stick, ornamented all round with golden fretted work: and he used even to fasten the strings of his sandals with golden clasps. However, as regarded his art, he was not churlish or ill-tempered, but affable and good-humoured; so that he sang all the time that he was painting, as Theophrastus relates, in his treatise on Happiness. But once he spoke in a marvellously solemn strain, when he said, when he was painting the Heracles at Lindus, that the god had appeared to him in a dream, in that form and dress which was the best adapted for painting; on which account he inscribed on the picture-
  [544] Here you may see the god as oft he stood
  Before Parrhasius in his sleep by night.

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