back

Athenaeus: The Deipnosophists

BOOK 13, Pages 589-599

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.


<< Previous pages (571-589)

[56.] G   [589] And did not Aristotle of Stageira have a son named Nicomachus by a courtesan named Herpyllis? and did he not live with her till his death? as Hermippus informs us in the first book of his Life of Aristotle, saying that great care was taken of her in the philosopher's will. And did not our admirable Plato love Archaeanassa, a courtesan of Colophon? so that he even composed this song in her honour:-
  My mistress is the fair Archaeanassa
  From Colophon, a damsel in whom Love
  Sits on her very wrinkles irresistible.
  Wretched are those, whom in the flower of youth,
  When first she came across the sea, she met;
  They must have been entirely consumed.

And did not Pericles the Olympian (as Clearchus tells us in the first book of his treatise on Amatory Matters) throw all Greece into confusion on account of Aspasia, not the younger one, but that one who associated with the wise Socrates; and that, too, though he was a man who had acquired such a vast reputation for wisdom and political sagacity? But, indeed, Pericles was always a man much addicted to amorous indulgences; and he cohabited even with his own son's wife, as Stesimbrotus the Thasian informs us; and Stesimbrotus was a contemporary of his, and had seen him, as he tells us in his book entitled A Treatise on Themistocles, and Thucydides, and Pericles. And Antisthenes, the pupil of Socrates, tells us that Pericles, being in love with Aspasia, used to kiss her twice every day, once when he entered her house, and once when he left it. And when she was impeached for impiety, he himself spoke in her behalf, and shed more tears for her sake than he did when his own property and his own life were imperilled. Moreover, when Cimon had had an incestuous affair with Elpinice, his sister, who was afterwards given in marriage to Callias, and when he was banished, Pericles contrived his recall, exacting the favours of Elpinice as his recompense.

And Pythaenetus, in the third book of his History of Aegina, says that Periander fell violently in love with Melissa, the daughter of Procles of Epidaurus, when he had seen her clothed in the Peloponnesian fashion (for she had on no cloak, but a single tunic only, and was acting as cupbearer to the young men,) and he married her.  # And Tigris of Leucadia was the mistress of Pyrrhus king of Epirus, who was the third in descent from the Pyrrhus who invaded Italy; [590] but Olympias, the young man's mother, took her off by poison.

[57.] G   And Ulpianus, as if he had got some unexpected gain, while Myrtilus was still speaking, said:- Do we say ὁ τίγρις in the masculine gender? for I know that Philemon says this in his play called Neaera:-
  (A)   Just as Seleucus sent the tiger (τὴν τίγριν) here,
  Which we have seen, so we in turn ought now
  To send Seleucus back a beast from here.
  (B)   Let's send him a trigeranus; for that's
  An animal not known much in those parts.

And Myrtilus said to him:- Since you interrupted us when we were making out a catalogue of women, not like the lists of Sosicrates of Phanagoreia, or like the catalogue of women of Nicaenetus of Samos or Abdera (whichever was really his native country), I, digressing a little, will turn to your question, my old Phoenix. Learn, then, that Alexis, in his Fire-Lighter, has said τὸν τίγριν, using the word in the masculine gender; and these are his words:
  Come, open quick the door; I have been here,
  Though all unseen, walking sometime,- a statue,
  A millstone, and a hippopotamus, and a wall,
  The tiger (ὁ τίγρις) of Seleucus.

And I might quote other examples of the fact, but I postpone them for the present, while I finish my catalogue, as far as it comprehends the beautiful women.

[58.] G   For Clearchus speaks thus concerning Epaminondas: "Epaminondas the Theban behaved with more dignity than these men did; but still there was a want of dignity in the way in which he was induced to waver in his sentiments in his association with women, as any one will admit who considers his conduct with the Laconian's wife." But Hypereides the orator, having driven his son Glaucippus out of his house, received into it that most extravagant courtesan Myrrhina, and kept her in the city; and he also kept Aristagora in the Peiraeus, and Phila at Eleusis, whom he bought for a very large sum, and then emancipated; and after that he made her his housekeeper, as Idomeneus relates. But, in his oration in defence of Phryne, Hypereides confesses that he is in love with the woman; and yet, before he had got cured of that love, he introduced the above-mentioned Myrrhina into his house.

[59.] G    # Now Phryne was a native of Thespiae; and being prosecuted by Euthias on a capital charge, she was acquitted: on which account Euthias was so indignant that he never instituted any prosecution afterwards, as Hermippus tells us. But Hypereides, when pleading Phryne's cause, as he did not succeed at all, but it was plain that the judges were about to condemn her, brought her forth into the middle of the court, and, tearing open her tunic and displaying her naked bosom, employed all the end of his speech, with the highest oratorical art, to excite the pity of her judges by the sight of her beauty, and inspired the judges with a superstitious fear, so that they were so moved by pity as not to be able to stand the idea of condemning to death "a prophetess and priestess of Aphrodite." And when she was acquitted, a decree was drawn up in the following form: "That hereafter no orator should endeavour to excite pity on behalf of any one, and that no man or woman, when impeached, shall have his or her case decided on while present."

"Aphodrite of Cnidus" (Vatican) But Phryne was a really beautiful woman, even in those parts of her person which were not generally seen: on which account it was not easy to see her naked; for she used to wear a tunic which covered her whole person, and she never used the public baths. But on the solemn assembly of the Eleusinian festival, and on the feast of the Poseidonia, then she laid aside her garments in the sight of all the assembled Greeks, and having undone her hair, she went to bathe in the sea; and it was from her that Apelles took his picture of Aphrodite Anadyomene; [591] and Praxiteles the sculptor, who was a lover of hers, modelled the Aphrodite of Cnidus from her body; and on the pedestal of his statue of Eros, which is placed below the stage in the theatre, he wrote the following inscription :-
  Praxiteles has devoted earnest care
  To representing all the love he felt,
  Drawing his model from his inmost heart:
  I gave myself to Phryne for her wages,
  And now I no more charms employ, nor arrows,
  Save those of earnest glances at my love.

And he gave Phryne the choice of his statues, whether she chose to take the Eros, or the Satyr which is in the street called the Tripods; and she, having chosen the Eros, consecrated it in the temple at Thespiae. And the people of her neighbourhood, having had a statue made of Phryne herself, of solid gold, consecrated it in the temple of Delphi, having had it placed on a pillar of Pentelic marble; and the statue was made by Praxiteles.  # And when Crates the Cynic saw it, he called it "a votive offering of the profligacy of Greece." And this statue stood in the middle between that of Archidamus, king of the Lacedaemonians, and that of Philippus the son of Amyntas; and it bore this inscription- "Phryne of Thespiae, the daughter of Epicles," as we are told by Alcetas, in the second book of his treatise On the Offerings at Delphi.

[60.] G   But Apollodorus, in his book on Courtesans, says that there were two women named Phryne, one of whom was nick-named Clausigelos ["Weep-laughter"], and the other Saperdiŏn ["Goldfish"]. But Herodicus, in the sixth book of his Essay on People mentioned by the Comic Poets, says that the one who is mentioned by the orators was called Sestos, because she sifted (ἀποσήθειν) and stripped bare all her lovers;- and that the other was the native of Thespiae. But Phryne was exceedingly rich, and she offered to build a wall round Thebes, if the Thebans would inscribe on the wall, "Alexander destroyed this wall, but Phryne the courtesan restored it;" as Callistratus states in his treatise on Courtesans. And Timocles the comic poet, in his Neaera, has mentioned her riches (the passage has been already cited [ 567'e ]); and so has Amphis, in his Curis. And Gryllion was a parasite of Phryne's, though he was one of the judges of the Areopagus; as also Satyrus, the Olynthian actor, was a parasite of Pamphila. But Aristogeiton, in his book against Phryne, says that her proper name was Mnesarete; and I am aware that Diodorus Periegetes says that the oration against her which is ascribed to Euthias, is really the work of Anaximenes. But Poseidippus the comic poet, in his Ephesian Women, speaks in the following manner concerning her
  Before our time, the Thespian Phryne was
  Far the most famous of all courtesans;
  And even though you're later than her age,
  Still you have heard of the trial which she stood.
  She was accused on a capital charge
  Before the Heliaea, being said
  To have corrupted all the citizens;
  But she besought the judges separately
  With tears, and so just saved herself from judgment.

[61.] G   And I would have you all to know that Demades, the orator, became the father of Demeas, by a female flute-player who was a courtesan; and once when Demeas was giving himself airs on the speaker's platform, Hypereides stopped his mouth, saying, "Will not you be silent, young man? why, you make more puffing than your mother did." And also Bion of the Borysthenes, the philosopher, was the son of a Lacedaemonian courtesan named Olympia; [592] as Nicias the Nicaean informs us in his treatise called The Successions of the Philosophers. And Sophocles the tragic poet, when he was an old man, was a lover of Theoris the courtesan; and accordingly, calling on the favour and assistance of Aphrodite, he says-
  Hear me now praying, goddess, nurse of youths,
  And grant that this my love may scorn young men,
  And their most feeble fancies and embraces;
  And rather cling to grey-headed old men,
  Whose minds are vigorous, though their limbs be weak.

And these verses are some of those which are at times attributed to Homer. But he mentions Theoris by name, speaking thus in one of his plain choruses
  For dear to me Theoris is.

And towards the end of his life, as Hegesander says, he was a lover of the courtesan Archippe, and he left her the heiress of all his property; but as Archippe cohabited with Sophocles, though he was very old, Smicrines, her former lover, being asked by some one what Archippe was doing, said very wittily, "Why, like the owls, she is sitting on the tombs."

[62.] G   But Isocrates also, the most modest of all the orators, had a mistress named Metaneira, who was very beautiful, as Lysias relates in his Letters. But Demosthenes, in his oration against Neaera, says that Metaneira was the mistress of Lysias. And Lysias also was desperately in love with Lagis the courtesan, whose panegyric Cephalus the orator wrote, just as Alcidamas the Elean, the pupil of Gorgias, himself wrote a panegyric on the courtesan Nais. And, in his oration against Philonides, who was under prosecution for an assault, (if, at least, the oration be a genuine one,) Lysias says that Nais was the mistress of Philonides, writing as follows:- "There is then a woman who is a courtesan, Nais by name, whose keeper is Archias; but your friend Philonides states himself to be in love with her." Aristophanes also mentions her in his Gerytades, and perhaps also in his Plutus [ 179 ], where he says-
  Is it not owing to you the greedy Lais
  Does love Philonides?

For perhaps here we ought to read Nais, and not Lais. But Hermippus, in his Essay on Isocrates, says that Isocrates, when he was advancing in years, took the courtesan Lagisca to his house, and had a daughter by her. And Strattis speaks of her in these lines:
  And while she still was in her bed, I saw
  Isocrates' concubine, Lagisca,
  Playing her tricks; and with her the flute-maker.

And Lysias, in his speech against Lais, (if, at least, the oration be a genuine one,) mentions her, giving a list of other courtesans also, in the following words:- "Philyra indeed abandoned the trade of a courtesan while she was still young; and Scione, and Hippaphesis, and Theocleia, and Psamathe, and Lagisca, and Antheia, and Aristocleia, all abandoned it also at an early age."

[63.] G   But it is reported that Demosthenes the orator had children by a courtesan; at all events he himself, in his speech About the Gold, introduced his children before the court, in order to obtain pity by their means, without their mother; although it was customary to bring forward the wives of those who were on their trial; however, he did this for shame's sake, hoping to avoid calumny. But this orator was exceedingly addicted to amorous indulgences, as Idomeneus tells us. Accordingly, being in love with a youth named Aristarchus, he once, when he was intoxicated, insulted Nicodemus on his account, and struck out his eyes. He is related also to have been very extravagant in his table, and his followers, and in women. Therefore, his secretary once said, [593] "But what can any one say of Demosthenes? For everything that he has thought of for a whole year, is all thrown into confusion by one woman in one night." Accordingly, he is said to have received into his house a youth named Cnosion, although he had a wife; and she, being indignant at this, went herself and slept with Cnosion.

[64.] G   And Demetrius the king, the last of all Alexander's successors, had a mistress named Myrrhina, a Samian courtesan; and in every respect but the crown, he made her his partner in the kingdom, as Nicolaus of Damascus tells us.  # And Ptolemaeus the son of Ptolemaeus Philadelphus the king, who was governor of the garrison in Ephesus, had a mistress named Eirene. And she, when plots were laid against Ptolemaeus by the Thracians at Ephesus, and when he fled to the temple of Artemis, fled with him: and when the conspirators had murdered him, Eirene seizing hold of the bars of the doors of the temple, sprinkled the altar with his blood till they slew her also.  # And Sophron the governor of Ephesus had a mistress, Danae, the daughter of Leontiŏn the Epicurean was also a courtesan herself. And by her means he was saved when a plot was laid against him by Laodice, and Laodice was thrown down a precipice, as Phylarchus relates in his twelfth book [ Fr_24 ] in these words: "Danae was a chosen companion of Laodice, and was trusted by her with all her secrets; and, being the daughter of that Leontiŏn who had studied with Epicurus the natural philosopher, and having been herself formerly the mistress of Sophron, she, perceiving that Laodice was laying a plot to murder Sophron, revealed the plot to Sophron by a sign. And he, understanding the sign, and pretending to agree to what Laodice was saying to him, asked two days to deliberate on what he should do. And, when she had agreed to that, he fled away by night to Ephesus. But Laodice, when she learnt what had been done by Danae, threw her down a precipice, discarding all recollection of their former friendship. And they say that Danae, when she perceived the danger which was impending over her, was interrogated by Laodice, and refused to give her any answer; but, when she was dragged to the precipice, then she said, that 'many people justly despise the Deity, and they may justify themselves by my case, who having saved a man who was to me as my husband, am requited in this manner by the Deity. But Laodice, who murdered her husband, is thought worthy of such honour.' "

 # The same Phylarchus also speaks of Mysta, in his fourteenth book [ Fr_30 ], in these terms: "Mysta was the mistress of Seleucus the king, and when Seleucus was defeated by the Galatians, and was with difficulty able to save himself by flight, she put off the robes of a queen which she had been accustomed to wear, and assumed the garment of an ordinary servant; and being taken prisoner, was carried away with the rest of the captives. And being sold in the same manner as her handmaidens, she came to Rhodes; and there, when she had revealed who she was, she was sent back with great honour to Seleucus by the Rhodians."

[65.] G    # But Demetrius Phalereus being in love with Lampito, a courtesan of Samos was pleased when he himself was addressed as Lampito, as Diyllus tells us; and he was also called Charitoblepharos ["Pretty Eyes"]. And Nicarete the courtesan was the mistress of Stephanus the orator; and Metaneira was the mistress of Lysias the sophist; and these women were the slaves of Casius the Elean, with many other such, as Anteia, Stratola, Aristocleia, Phila, Isthmias, and Neaera. But Neaera was the mistress of Xenocleides the poet, and of Hipparchus the actor, and of Phrynion of Paeania, who was the son of Demon and the nephew of Demochares. And Phrynion and Stephanus the orator used to have Neaera in turn, each a day, since their friends had so arbitrated the matter for them; [594] and the daughter of Neaera, whose name was Strymbele, and who was afterwards called Phano, Stephanus gave (as if she had been his own daughter) in marriage to Phrastor of Aegilia; as Demosthenes tells us in his oration against Neaera [ 59'50 ]. And he also speaks in the following manner about Sinope the courtesan [ 59'116 ]: "And you punished Archias the hierophant, when he was convicted before the regular tribunals of behaving with impiety, and offering sacrifices which were contrary to the laws of the nation. And he was accused also of other things, and among them of having sacrificed a victim on the festival of Haloa, which was offered by Sinope the courtesan, on the altar which is in the court of the temple at Eleusis, though it is against the law to sacrifice any victims on that day; and though, too, it was no part of his duty to sacrifice at all, but it belonged to the priestess to do so."

[66.] G   Plangōn the Milesian was also a celebrated courtesan; and she, as she was most wonderfully beautiful, was beloved by a young man of Colophon, who already had Bacchis of Samos as his mistress. Accordingly, when this young man began to address his solicitations to Plangōn, she, having heard of the beauty of Bacchis, wished to make the young man abandon his love for her. When she was unable to effect that, she required as the price of her favours the necklace of Bacchis, which was very celebrated. And he, as he was exceedingly in love, entreated Bacchis not to see him totally overwhelmed with despair; and Bacchis, seeing the excited state of the young man, gave him the necklace. And Plangōn, when she saw the freedom from jealousy which was exhibited by Bacchis, sent her back the necklace, but kept the young man: and ever after Plangōn and Bacchis were friends, loving the young man in common; and the Ionians being amazed at this, as Menetor tells us in his treatise On Votive Offerings, gave Plangōn the name of Pasiphila ["Dear to all"]. And Archilochus mentions her in the following lines
  As a fig-tree planted on a lofty rock
  Feeds many crows and jackdaws, so Pasiphila's
  A willing entertainer of all strangers.

That Menander the poet was a lover of Glycera, is well known by everybody; but still he was not well pleased with her. For when Philemon was in love with a courtesan, and in one of his plays called her "excellent," Menander, in one of his plays, said, in contradiction to this, that there was no courtesan who was good.

[67.] G   And Harpalus the Macedonian, who robbed Alexander of vast sums of money and then fled to Athens, being in love with Pythionice, spent an immense deal of money on her; and she was a courtesan. And when she died he erected a monument to her which cost him many talents. And as he was carrying her out to burial, as Poseidonius tells us in the twenty-second book of his History [ Fr_14 ], he had the body accompanied with a band of the most eminent artists of all kinds, and with all sorts of musical instruments and songs. And Dicaearchus, in his Essay on the Descent to the Cave of Trophonius, says,- "And that same sort of thing may happen to any one who goes to the city of the Athenians, and who proceeds by the road leading from Eleusis, which is called the Sacred Road; for, if he stops at that point from which he first gets a sight of Athens, and of the temple, and of the citadel, he will see a tomb built by the wayside, of such a size that there is none other near which can be compared with it for magnitude. And at first, as would be natural, he would pronounce it to be the tomb, beyond all question, of Miltiades, or Cimon, or Pericles, or of some other of the great men of Athens. [595] And above all, he would feel sure that it had been erected by the city at the public expense, or at all events by some public decree; and then, again, when he heard it was the tomb of Pythionice the courtesan, what must be his feelings?"

And Theopompus also, in his Letter to Alexander, speaking reproachfully of the profligacy of Harpalus, says,- "But just consider and listen to the truth, as you may hear from the people of Babylon, as to the manner in which he treated Pythionice when she was dead; who was originally the slave of Bacchis, the female flute-player. And Bacchis herself had been the slave of Sinope the Thracian, who brought her establishment of harlots from Aegina to Athens; so that she was not only trebly a slave, but also trebly a harlot. He, however, erected two monuments to her at an expense exceeding two hundred talents. And every one marvelled that no one of all those who died in Cilicia, in defence of your dominions and of the freedom of the Greeks, had had any tomb adorned for them either by him or by any other of the governors of the state; but that a tomb should be erected to Pythionice the courtesan, both in Athens and in Babylon; and they have now stood a long time. For a man who ventured to call himself a friend to you, has dared to consecrate a temple and a spot of ground to a woman whom everybody knew to have been common to every one who chose at the same fixed price, and to call both the temple and the altar those of Aphrodite Pythionice; and in so doing, he despised also the vengeance of the Gods, and endeavoured to insult the honours to which you are entitled." Philemon also mentions these circumstances, in his comedy called The Babylonian, where he says-
  You shall be queen of Babylon if the Fates
  Will but permit it. Sure you recollect
  Pythionice and proud Harpalus.

Alexis also mentions her in his Lyciscus.

[68.] G   But after the death of Pythionice, Harpalus sent for Glycera, and she also was a courtesan, as Theopompus relates, when he says that Harpalus issued an edict that no one should present him with a crown, without at the same time paying a similar compliment to his prostitute; and adds,- "He has also erected a brazen statue to Glycera in Rhossus of Syria, where he intends to erect one of you, and another of himself. And he has permitted her to dwell in the palace in Tarsus, and he permits her to receive adoration from the people, and to bear the title of Queen, and to be complimented with other presents, which are only fit for your own mother and your own wife." And we have a testimony coinciding with this from the author of the satyric drama called Agen, which was exhibited, on the occasion when the Dionysian festival was celebrated on the banks of the river Hydaspes, by the author, whether he was Pythen of Catana or Byzantium, or the king himself. And it was exhibited when Harpalus had fled to the sea-shore, after he had revolted; and it mentions Pythionice as already dead; and Glycera, as being with Harpalus, and as being the person who encouraged the Athenians to receive presents from Harpalus. And the verses of the play are as follows:-
  (A)   There is a pinnacle, where never birds
  Have made their nests, where the long reeds do grow;
  And on the left is the illustrious temple
  Raised to a courtesan, which Pallides
  Erected, but repenting of the deed,
  Condemned himself for it to banishment.
  And when some magi of the barbarians
  Saw him oppressed with the stings of conscience,
  They made him trust that they could raise again
  [596] The soul of Pythionice.

And the author of the play calls Harpalus Pallides in this passage; but in what follows, he speaks of him by his real name, saying-
  (B)   But I do wish to learn from you, since I
  Dwell a long way from thence, what is the fate
  At present of the land of Athens; and
  How all its people fare !
  (A)   Why, when they said
  That they were slaves, they plenty had to eat,
  But now they have raw vegetables only,
  And fennel, and but little corn or meat.
  (B)   I likewise hear that Harpalus has sent them
  A quantity of corn no less than Agen,
  And has been made a citizen of Athens.
  (A)   That corn was Glycera's. But it is perhaps
  To them a pledge of ruin, not of a courtesan.

[69.] G   Naucratis also has produced some very celebrated courtesans of exceeding beauty: for instance, Doricha, who became the mistress of Charaxus, the brother of the lovely Sappho, when he went to Naucratis on some mercantile business. Sappho accuses Doricha in her poetry of having stripped Charaxus of a great deal of his property. But Herodotus calls her Rhodopis, being evidently ignorant that Rhodopis and Doricha were two different people; and it was Rhodopis who dedicated those celebrated spits at Delphi, which Cratinus mentions in the following lines-
  . . . . . [ the quotation is missing ]

Poseidippus also made this epigram on Doricha, although he had often mentioned her in his Aesopia, and this is the epigram-
  Here, Doricha, your bones have long been laid,
  Here is your hair, and your well-scented robe:
  You who once loved the elegant Charaxus,
  And quaffed with him the morning bowl of wine.
  But Sappho's pages live, and still shall live,
  In which is many a mention of your name,
  Which still your native Naucratis shall cherish
  As long as any ship sails down the Nile.

Archedice also was a native of Naucratis; and she was a courtesan of great beauty. "For some how or other," as Herodotus says [ 2.135 ], "Naucratis is in the habit of producing beautiful courtesans."

[70.] G   There was also a certain courtesan named Sappho, a native of Eresus, who was in love with the beautiful Phaon, and she was very celebrated, as Nymphis relates in his Voyage round Asia. But Nicarete of Megara, who was a courtesan, was not a woman of ignoble birth, but she was born of free parents, and was very well calculated to excite affection by reason of her accomplishments, and she was a pupil of Stilpon the philosopher.

There was also Bilistiche the Argive, who was a very celebrated courtesan, and who traced her descent back to the Atreidae, as those historians relate who have written the history of the affairs of Argolis. There was also a courtesan named Leaena, whose name is very celebrated, and she was the mistress of Harmodius, who slew the tyrant. And she, being tortured by command of Hippias the tyrant, died under the torture without having said a word. Stratocles the orator also had for his mistress a courtesan whose name was Leme, and who was nicknamed Parorama, because she used to let whoever chose come to her for two drachmas, as Gorgias says in his treatise on Courtesans.

Now though Myrtilus appeared to be intending to say no more after this, he resumed his subject, and said:- But I was nearly forgetting, my friends, to tell you of the Lyde of Antimachus, [597] and also of her namesake Lyde, who was also a courtesan and the mistress of Lamynthius the Milesian. For each of these poets, as Clearchus tells us in his Tales of Love, being inflamed with love for the barbarian Lyde, wrote poems, the one in elegiac, and the other in lyric verse, and they both entitled their poems Lyde. I omitted also to mention the female flute-player Nanno, the mistress of Mimnermus, and Leontiŏn, the mistress of Hermesianax of Colophon. For he inscribed with her name, as she was his mistress, three books of elegiac poetry, in the third of which he gives a catalogue of love affairs; speaking in the following manner:-

[71.] G   "Such was she whom the dear son of Oeagrus, [Orpheus] armed only with the lyre, brought back from Hades, even the Thracian Agriope. Aye, he sailed to that evil and inexorable place where Charon drags into the common barque the souls of the departed; and over the lake he shouts afar, as it pours its flood from out the tall reeds. Yet Orpheus, though girded for the journey all alone, dared to sound his lyre beside the wave, and he won over gods of every shape; even the lawless Cocytus he saw, raging beneath his banks; and he flinched not before the gaze of the Hound [Cerberus] most dread, his voice baying forth angry fire, with fire his cruel eye gleaming, an eye that on triple heads bore terror. Whence, by his song, Orpheus persuaded the mighty lords that Agriope should recover the gentle breath of life.

"Nor did the son of Mene, Musaeus, master of the Graces, cause Antiope to go without her due of honour. And she, beside Eleusis's strand, expounded to the initiates the loud, sacred voice of mystic oracles, as she duly escorted the priest through the Rarian plain to honour Demeter. And she is known even in Hades.

"I say, too, that Boeotian Hesiod, master of all lore, left his hall and went to the Heliconian village of the Ascraeans, because he was in love; whence, in wooing Eoeē, maid of Ascra, he suffered many pangs; and as he sang, he wrote all the scrolls of his Catalogues, ever proceeding from a girl's name first [Ἢ οἵη, "Or such as her"].

"But that bard himself, whom the decree of Zeus for ever ordains to be the sweetest divinity among all poets, godlike Homer, languished to thinness, and set Ithaca in the strains of song for love of wise Penelope; for her sake he went, with many sufferings, to that small isle, far from his own wide country; and he celebrated the kin of Icarius, the folk of Amyclas, and Sparta too, ever mindful of his own misfortunes.

"And Mimnermus, who discovered, after much suffering, [598] the sweet sound and spirit breathed from the languorous pentameter, burned for Nanno; yet oft upon his venerable flute, bound to his lips, he with Hexamyles would hold revel. But he quarrelled with Hermobius, the ever cruel, and Pherecles, too, his foe, whom he loathed for the taunts which he hurled against him.

"Antimachus, too, smitten with love for the Lydian girl Lyde, trod the ground where the Pactolus river flows; and when she died, in his helplessness he placed her in the hard earth, weeping the while, and in his woe he left her there and returned to lofty Colophon; then he filled his pious scrolls with plaints, and rested after all his pain.

"As for the Lesbian Alcaeus, you know in how many revels he engaged, when he smote his lyre with yearning love for Sappho. And the bard who loved that nightingale caused sorrow, by the eloquence of his hymns, to the Teian poet. Yea, for the honey-voiced Anacreon contended for her [Sappho], whose beauty was supreme among the many women of Lesbos. And at times he would leave Samos, at times again his own city, that nestles against the vine-covered hill, and visit Lesbos, rich in wine; and oft he gazed upon Lectum, the Mysian headland across the Aeolian wave.

"How, too, the Attic bee [Sophocles] left Colone of the many hillocks, and sang with choruses marshalled in tragedy - sang of Bacchus and of his passion for Theoris and for Erigone, whom Zeus once gave to Sophocles in his old age.

"I say, too, that that man [Euripides] who had ever guarded himself against passion, and had won the hatred of all men by his railings concerning all women, was none the less smitten by the treacherous bow, and could not lay aside his pangs by night; nay, in Macedonia he traversed all the by-ways in his woe, and became dependant on the steward of Archelaus; until at last Fate found destruction for Euripides, when he met the cruel hounds from Arribius.

"And that poet from Cythera, whom the nurses of Bacchus reared, and the Muses taught to be the most faithful steward of the flute, Philoxenus, - you know how he was racked with pain, and passed through our city to Ortygia; for you have heard of his mighty yearning, which Galateia esteemed less than the very firstlings of the flock.

"You know also of that bard in whose honour the townsmen of Eurypylus, the men of Cos, raised a bronze statue beneath the plane-tree; he, Philitas, sang his love for the nimble Bittis, versed as he was in all the terms of love and in all its speech.

"Yea, not even all the mortals who ordained for themselves a life austere, seeking to find the dark things of wisdom, those men whom their very craft caused to choke in the shrewd contests of debate, and their dread skill, which bestowed its care upon eloquence, - not even they could turn aside the awful, maddened turmoil of Eros, [599] but they fell beneath the power of that dread charioteer.

"Such was the madness for Theano that bound with its spell the Samian Pythagoras; yet he had discovered the refinements of geometric spirals, and had modelled in a small globe the mighty circuit of the enveloping aether.

"And with what fiery power did Cypris, in her wrath, heat Socrates, whom Apollo had declared to be supreme among all men in wisdom! Yea, though his soul was deep, yet he laboured with lighter pains when he visited the house of Aspasia; nor could he find any remedy, though he had discovered the many cross-paths of logic.

"Even the man of Cyrene, keen Aristippus, was drawn by overpowering love beyond the Isthmus, when he fell in love with Lais of Apidane; in his flight he renounced all discourse, and expounded a life of worthlessness."

[72.] G   But in this Hermesianax is mistaken when he represents Sappho and Anacreon as contemporaries. For the one lived in the time of Cyrus and Polycrates; but Sappho lived in the reign of Alyattes, the father of Croesus. But Chamaeleon, in his treatise on Sappho, does assert that some people say that these verses were made upon her by Anacreon:-
  Eros, the golden-haired god,
  Struck me with his purple ball,
  And with his many wiles doth seize
  And challenge me to sport with him.
  But she- and she from Lesbos comes,
  That populous and wealthy isle-
  Laughs at my hair and calls it grey,
  And will prefer a younger lover.

And he says, too, that Sappho says this to him:-
  You, O my golden-throned Muse,
  Did surely dictate that sweet hymn,
  Which the noble Teian bard,
  From the fair and fertile isle,
  Chief muse of lovely womanhood,
  Sang with his dulcet voice.

But it is plain enough in reality that this piece of poetry is not Sappho's. And I think myself that Hermesianax is joking concerning the love of Anacreon and Sappho. For Diphilus the comic poet, in his play called Sappho, has represented Archilochus and Hipponax as the lovers of Sappho.

Now it appears to me, my friends, that I have displayed some diligence in getting up this amorous catalogue for you, as I myself am not a person so mad about love as Cynulcus, with his calumnious spirit, has represented me. I confess, indeed, that I am amorous, but I do deny that I am frantic on the subject.
  And why should I dilate upon my sorrows,
  When I may hide them all in night and silence?
as Aeschylus the Alexandrian has said in his Amphitryon. And this is the same Aeschylus who composed the Messenian epic - a man of great learning.

→ Following pages (599-612)


Attalus' home page   |   27.03.14   |   Any comments?