back

Athenaeus: The Deipnosophists

BOOK 13, Pages 599-612

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 (589-599)

[73.] G   [599] Therefore, considering that Eros is a mighty and most powerful deity, and that the golden Aphrodite is so too, I recollect the verses of Euripides on the subject, and say:-
  Do you not see how great a deity is
  This Aphrodite? No tongue can tell,
  No calculation can arrive at all
  Her power, or her dominions' vast extent;
  She nourishes you and me and all mankind,
  And I can prove this, not in words alone,
  [600] But facts will show the might of this fair goddess.
  The earth loves rain when the parched plains are dry,
  And lose their glad fertility of yield
  From want of moisture. Then the ample heaven,
  Filled with rain, and moved by Aphrodite's power,
  Loves to descend to anxious earth's embrace;
  Then when these two are joined in tender love
  They are the parents of all fruits to us,
  They bring them forth, they cherish them; and so
  The race of man both lives and flourishes.

And that most magnificent poet Aeschylus, in his Danaides, introduces Aphrodite herself speaking thus-
  Then, too, the earth feels love, and longs for wedlock,
  And rain, descending from the amorous air,
  Impregnates his desiring mate; and she
  Brings forth delicious food for mortal man,-
  Herds of fat sheep, and corn, Demeter's gift;
  The trees love moisture, too, and rain descends
  To indulge their longings, I alone the cause.

[74.] G   And again, in the Hippolytus of Euripides [ 3 ], Aphrodite says:-
  And all who dwell between the Euxine sea
  And the Atlantic waves, all who behold
  The beams of the rising and the setting sun,
  Know that I favour those who honour me,
  And crush all those who boast against me.

And, therefore, in the case of a young man [Hippolytus] who had every other imaginable virtue, this one fault alone, that he did not honour Aphrodite, was the cause of his destruction. And neither Artemis, who loved him exceedingly, nor any other of the gods or demi-gods could defend him; and accordingly, in the words of the same poet [Euripides]:-
  Whoever denies that Eros is the only god,
  Is foolish, ignorant of all that's true,
  And knows not him who is the greatest deity
  Acknowledged by all nations.

And the wise Anacreon, who is in everybody's mouth, is always celebrating [Eros]. And, accordingly, the admirable Critias also speaks of him in the following manner:-
  Teos brought forth, a source of pride to Greece,
  The sweet Anacreon, who with sweet notes twined
  A wreath of tuneful song in woman's praise,
  The choicest ornament of revelling feasts,
  The most seductive charm; the foe of the flute,
  But lover of the softly moving lyre:
  O Teian bard, your fame shall never die;
  Age shall not touch it; while the willing slave
  Mingles the wine and water in the bowl,
  And fills the welcome goblet for the guests;
  While female bands, with many twinkling feet,
  Lead their glad nightly dance; while many drops,
  Daughters of these glad cups, the Bromian juice,
  Fall with good omen on the cottabus dish.

[75.] G   But Archytas, who wrote on the theory of music, says - according to Chamaeleon - that Alcman was the original poet of amatory songs, and that he was the first poet to introduce melodies inciting to erotic indulgence, being {by nature eager to pursue} women. On which account he says in one of his odes:-
  But Eros again, as Aphrodite wills,
  Descends into my heart,
  And with his gentle dew refreshes me.

He says also that Alcman was immoderately in love with Megalostrate, who was a poetess, and who was able to allure lovers to her by the charms of her conversation. [601] And he speaks thus concerning her:-
  This gift, by the sweet Muse inspired,
  That lovely damsel gave,
  The golden-haired Megalostrate.

And Stesichorus, who was in no moderate degree given to amorous pursuits, composed many poems of this kind; which in ancient times were called paideia and paidika. And, in fact, there was such emulation about composing poems of this sort, and so far was any one from thinking lightly of the amatory poets, that Aeschylus, who was a very great poet, and Sophocles, too, introduced the subject of the love [between men] on the stage in their tragedies: the one describing the love of Achilles for Patroclus, and the other, in his Niobe, the mutual love of Niobe's sons (on which account some men have called that tragedy "paederastria"): and all such passages as those are very agreeable to the audiences.

[76.] G   And Ibycus of Rhegium, also, cries out as follows:-
  In early spring the gold Cydonian apples,
  Watered by streams from ever-flowing rivers,
  Where the pure garden of the Virgins is,
  And the young grapes, growing beneath the shade
  Of ample branches, flourish and increase:
  But Eros, who never rests, gives me no shade,
  Nor any recruiting dew; but like the north wind
  Fierce rushing down from Thrace, with rapid fire,
  Urged on by Cypris, with maddening drought
  He burns up my heart, and from my earliest youth,
  Rules over my soul with fierce dominion.

And Pindarus, who was of an exceedingly amorous disposition, says:-
  Oh may it ever be to me to love,
  And to indulge my love, remote from fear;
  And do not, my mind, pursue a chase
  Beyond the present number of your years.

On which account Timon, in his Silli, says:-
  There is a time to love, a time to wed,
  A time to leave off loving;
and adds that it is not well to wait until some one else shall say, in the words of this same philosopher-
  When this man ought to decline (δύνειν) he now begins
  To follow pleasure (ἡδύνεσθαι).

Pindarus also mentions Theoxenus of Tenedos, who was much beloved by him; and what does he say about him?-
  And now (for seasonable is the time)
  You ought, my soul, to pluck the flowers of love,
  Which suit your age.
  And he who, looking on the brilliant light that beams
  From the sweet countenance of Theoxenus
  Is not subdued by love,
  Must have a dark discoloured heart,
  Of adamant or iron made,
  And hardened long in the smith's glowing furnace.
  That man is scorned by bright-eyed Aphrodite.
  Or else he's poor, and care doth fill his breast;
  Or else beneath some female insolence
  He withers, and so drags on an anxious life:
  But I, like comb of wily bees,
  Melt under Aphrodite's heat,
  And waste away while I behold
  The budding graces of the youth I love.
  Surely at Tenedos, persuasion soft,
  And every grace, abides
  In the lovely son of Hagesilas.

[77.] G   And many men used to be as fond of having boys as their favourites as women for their mistresses. And this was a frequent fashion in many very well regulated cities of Greece. Accordingly, the Cretans, as I have said before, and the Chalcidians in Euboea, were very much addicted to the custom of having boy-favourites. Therefore Echemenes, in his history of Crete, says that it was not Zeus who carried off Ganymedes, but Minos. But the before-mentioned Chalcidians say that Ganymedes was carried off from them by Zeus; and they show the spot, which they call Harpagium; and it is a place which produces extraordinary myrtles. And Minos abandoned his enmity to the Athenians, although it had originated in consequence of the death of his son, out of his love for Theseus; and he gave his daughter Phaedra to Theseus for his wife, as Zenis (or Zeneus) of Chios, tells us in his History of his Native Land.

[78.] G   [602] But Hieronymus the Peripatetic says that the ancients were anxious to encourage the practice of having boy-favourites, because the vigorous disposition of youths, and the confidence engendered by their association with each other, has often led to the overthrow of tyrants. For in the presence of his favourite, a man would choose to do anything rather than to get the reputation of being a coward. And this was proved in practice in the case of the Sacred Band, as it was called, which was established at Thebes by Epaminondas. Harmodius and Aristogeiton made a deadly attack on the Peisistratidae; and at Acragas in Sicily, the mutual love of Chariton and Melanippus produced a similar result, as we are told by Heracleides of Pontus, in his treatise On Amatory Matters. For when Melanippus and Chariton were informed against as plotting against Phalaris, and were tortured in order to compel them to reveal their accomplices, not only did they not betray them, but they even made Phalaris himself pity them, because of the tortures which they had undergone; so that he dismissed them with great praise. On which account Apollo, being pleased at this conduct, gave Phalaris a respite from death; declaring this to the men who consulted the Pythian priestess as to how they might best attack him. He also gave them an oracle respecting Chariton, putting the pentameter before the hexameter, in the same way as afterwards Dionysius the Athenian did, who was nicknamed the Brazen, in his Elegies; and the oracle runs as follows-
  Happy were Chariton and Melanippus,
  Guides in heavenly love to many men.

The circumstances, too, that happened to Cratinus the Athenian, are well known. For he, being a very beautiful boy, at the time when Epimenides was purifying Attica by human sacrifices, on account of some old pollution, as Neanthes of Cyzicus relates in the second book of his treatise On Initiation Rites, willingly gave himself up to secure the safety of the woman who had brought him up. And after his death, Apollodorus, his friend, also devoted himself to death, and so the calamities of the country were terminated. And owing to love affairs of this kind, the tyrants (for friendships of this sort were very adverse to their interests) altogether forbade the fashion of making favourites of boys, and wholly abolished it. And some of them even burnt down and rased to the ground the palaestrae, considering them as fortresses hostile to their own citadels; as, for instance, Polycrates the tyrant of Samos did.

[79.] G   But among the Spartans, as Hagnon the Academic philosopher tells us, unmarried girls are treated like boy-favourites. The great lawgiver Solon has said-
  Admiring pretty legs and rosy lips;-
and Aeschylus and Sophocles have openly made similar statements; the one saying, in the Myrmidons-
  You paid not due respect to modesty,
  Led by your passion for too frequent kisses;-
and the other, in his Colchian Women, speaking of Ganymedes, says-
  Inflaming with his beauty mighty Zeus.

I am not ignorant that the story which is told about Cratinus and Aristodemus is stated by Polemon Periegetes, in his Replies to Neanthes, to be a mere invention. But you, O Cynulcus, believe that all these stories are true, let them be ever so false. And you take the greatest pleasure in all such poems which speak of boys and favourites of that kind . . . The fashion of making favourites of boys was first introduced among the Greeks from Crete, as Timaeus informs us. But others say that Laius was the originator of this custom, when he was received in hospitality by Pelops; and that he took a great fancy to Pelops' son, Chrysippus, whom he put into his chariot and carried off, [603] and fled with to Thebes. But Praxilla the Sicyonian says that Chrysippus was carried off by Zeus. And the Celts, too, although they have the most beautiful women of all the barbarians, still make great favourites of boys; so that some of them often go to rest with two lovers on their beds of hide. And the Persians, according to the statement of Herodotus, learnt from the Greeks to adopt this fashion.

[80.] G   Alexander the king was also very much in the habit of giving in to this fashion. Accordingly, Dicaearchus, in his treatise On the Sacrifice at Troy, says that he was so much under the influence of Bagoas the eunuch, that he embraced him in the sight of the whole theatre; and that when the whole theatre shouted in approval of the action, he repeated it. And Carystius, in his Historical Commentaries, says,- "Charon of Chalcis had a boy of great beauty, who was a great favourite of his: but when Alexander, on one occasion, at a great entertainment given by Craterus, praised this boy very much, Charon bade the boy go and salute Alexander: and he said, 'Not so, for he will not please me so much as he will vex you.' For though the king was of a very amorous disposition, still he was at all times sufficiently master of himself to have a due regard to decorum, and to the preservation of appearances. And in the same spirit, when he had taken as prisoners the daughters of Dareius, and his wife, who was of extraordinary beauty, he not only abstained from offering them any insult, but he took care never to let them feel that they were prisoners at all; but ordered them to be treated in every respect, and to be supplied with everything, just as if Dareius had still been in his palace; on which account, Dareius, when he heard of this conduct, raised his hands to the Sun and prayed that either he might be king, or Alexander."

But Ibycus states that Talus was a great favourite of Rhadamanthys the Just. And Diotimus, in his Heracleia, says that Eurystheus was a great favourite of Heracles, on which account he willingly endured all his labours for his sake. And it is said that Argynnus was a favourite of Agamemnon; and that they first became acquainted from Agamemnon seeing Argynnus bathing in the Cephisus. And afterwards, when he was drowned in this river, (for he was continually bathing in it,) Agamemnon buried him, and raised a temple on the spot to Aphrodite Argynnis. But Licymnius of Chios, in his Dithyrambics, says that it was Hymenaeus of whom Argynnus was a favourite. And Aristocles the harp-player was a favourite of King Antigonus: and Antigonus of Carystus, in his Life of Zenon, writes of him in the following terms: "Antigonus the king used often to go to sup with Zenon; and once, as he was returning by daylight from some entertainment, he went to Zenon's house, and persuaded him to go with him to sup with Aristocles the harp-player, who was an excessive favourite of the king's."

[81.] G   Sophocles, too, had a great fancy for having boy-favourites, equal to the addiction of Euripides for women. And accordingly, Ion the poet, in his book on the Arrival of Illustrious Men in the Island of Chios, writes thus:- "I met Sophocles the poet in Chios, when he was sailing to Lesbos as the general: he was a man very pleasant over his wine, and very witty. And when Hermesilaus, who was connected with him by ancient ties of hospitality, and who was also the proxenus of the Athenians, entertained him, the boy who was mixing the wine was standing by the fire, being a boy of a very beautiful complexion, but made red by the fire: so Sophocles called him and said, 'Do you wish me to drink with pleasure?' and when he said that he did, he said, 'Well, then, bring me the cup, and take it away again in a leisurely manner.' And as the boy blushed all the more at this, Sophocles said to the guest who was sitting next to him, 'How well did Phrynichus speak when he said- [604]   The light of love doth shine in purple cheeks.' And a man from Eretria, or from Erythrae, who was a school-master, answered him,- 'You are a great man in poetry, O Sophocles; but still Phrynichus did not say well when he called purple cheeks a mark of beauty. For if a painter were to cover the cheeks of this boy with purple paint he would not be beautiful at all. And so it is not well to compare what is beautiful with what is not so.' And on this Sophocles, laughing at the Eretrian, said,- 'Then, my friend, I suppose you are not pleased with the line in Simonides which is generally considered among the Greeks to be a beautiful one-
  The maid poured forth a gentle voice
  From out her purple mouth.
And you do not either like the poet who spoke of the golden-haired Apollo; for if a painter were to represent the hair of the god as actually golden, and not black, the picture would be all the worse. Nor do you approve of the poet who described women as rosy-fingered. For if any one were to dip his fingers in rosy-coloured paint he would make his hands like those of a purple-dyer, and not of a pretty woman.' And when they all laughed at this, the Eretrian was checked by the reproof; and Sophocles again turned to pursue the conversation with the boy; for he asked him, as he was brushing away the straws from the cup with his little finger, whether he saw any straws: and when he said that he did, he said, 'Blow them away, then, that you may not dirty your fingers.' And when he brought his face near the cup he held the cup nearer to his own mouth, so as to bring his own head nearer to the head of the boy. And when he was very near he took him by the hand and kissed him. And when all clapped their hands, laughing and shouting out, to see how well he had taken the boy in, he said, 'I, my friends, am practising the art of generalship, since Pericles has said that I know how to compose poetry, but not how to be a general; now has not this stratagem of mine succeeded perfectly?' And he both said and did many things of this kind in a witty manner, drinking and giving himself up to mirth: but as to political affairs he was not able nor energetic in them, but behaved as any other virtuous Athenian might have done."

[82.] G   And Hieronymus of Rhodes, in his Historical Commentaries, says that Sophocles once led a handsome boy outside the walls, in order to consort with him. The boy laid his own cloak on the grass, and they used Sophocles' cloak to cover them. When they had finished their encounter, the boy went off with Sophocles' cloak, and Sophocles was left with a boy's cloak. Naturally, this affair became the subject of gossip, and when Euripides was told about it he scoffed at Sophocles, saying that he too had used this boy, but he had not had to pay any extra, whereas Sophocles had been treated with contempt because of his licentiousness. When Sophocles heard this, he composed the following epigram, which refers to the fable about the sun and the north wind, and also hints at Euripides' adultery:
  It was the sun, not the boy, who stripped me
  Of my cloak, Euripides; but the north wind went
  With you, when you made love to another man's wife.
  You are not wise, when sowing another's field,
  To bring Eros to court for being a snatch-thief.

[83.] G   And Theopompus, in his treatise On the Treasures of which the Temple at Delphi was plundered, [605] says that "Asopichus, being a favourite of Epaminondas, had the trophy of Leuctra represented in relief on his shield, and that he encountered danger with extraordinary gallantry; and that this shield is consecrated at Delphi, in the portico." And in the same treatise, Theopompus further alleges that "Phayllus, the tyrant of Phocis, was extremely addicted to women; but that Onomarchus used to select boys as his favourites: and that he had a favourite, the son of Pythodorus the Sicyonian, to whom, when he came to Delphi to devote his hair to the god (and he was a youth of great beauty), Onomarchus gave the offerings of the Sybarites - four golden combs. And Phayllus gave to Bromias, the daughter of Deiniades, who was a female flute-player, a silver goblet (καρχήσιον) of the Phocaeans, and a golden crown of ivy-leaves, the offering of the Peparethians. And," he says, "she was about to play the flute at the Pythian games, if she had not been hindered by the populace."

"Onomarchus also gave," as he says, "to his favourite Physcidas, a very handsome boy who was the son of Lycolas of Trichonium, a crown of laurel, the offering of the Ephesians. This boy was brought also to Philippus by his father, but was dismissed without any favour. Onomarchus also gave to Damippus, the son of Epilycus of Amphipolis, who was a youth of great beauty, a present which had been consecrated to the god by Pleisthenes. And Philomelus gave to Pharsalia, a dancing-woman from Thessaly, a golden crown of laurel-leaves, which had been offered by the Lampsacenes. But Pharsalia herself was afterwards torn to pieces at Metapontum, by the soothsayers, in the market-place, on the occasion of a voice coming forth out of the brazen laurel which the people of Metapontum had set up at the time when Aristeas of Proconnesus was sojourning among them, on his return, as he stated, from the Hyperboreans, the first moment that she was seen entering the market-place. And when men afterwards inquired into the reason for this violence, she was found to have been put to death on account of this crown which belonged to the god."

[84.] G   Now I warn you, O philosophers, who indulge in unnatural passions, and who treat the great goddess Aphrodite with impiety, to beware, lest you be destroyed in the same manner. For boys are only handsome, as Glycera the courtesan said, while they are like women: at least, this is the saying attributed to her by Clearchus.  # But my opinion is that the conduct of Cleonymus the Spartan was in strict conformity with nature, who was the first man to take such hostages as he took from the Metapontines- namely, two hundred of their most respectable and beautiful maidens; as is related by Duris the Samian, in the third book of his History of Agathocles. And I too, as is said by Epicrates in his Anti-Lais,
  Have learnt completely all the love-songs
  Of Sappho, Meletus, Cleomenes, and Lamynthius.

But you, my philosophical friends, even when you are in love with women . . . . .. . .. . . . . as Clearchus says. For a bull was excited by the sight of the brazen cow at Peirene; and when a picture was displayed of a bitch, and a pigeon, and a goose: a gander came up to the goose, and a dog to the bitch, and a male pigeon to the pigeon, and not one of them discovered the deception till they got close to them. But when they got near enough to touch them, they desisted; just as Cleisophus of Selymbria did. For he fell in love with a statue of Parian marble that then was at Samos, and shut himself up in the temple to gratify his affection; but when he found that he could make no impression on the coldness and unimpressibility of the stone, then he discarded his passion. And Alexis the poet mentions this circumstance in his drama entitled The Picture, where he says-
  [606] And such another circumstance, they say,
  Took place in Samos: there a man did fall
  In love with a fair maiden wrought in marble,
  And shut himself up with her in the temple.

And Philemon mentions the same fact, and says-
  But once a man, 'tis said, did fall, at Samos,
  In love with a marble woman; and he went
  And shut himself up with her in the temple.

But the statue spoken of is the work of Ctesicles; as Adaeus of Mytilene tells us in his treatise On Sculptors. And Polemon, or whoever the author of the book called Helladicus is, says- "At Delphi, in the museum of the pictures, there are two boys wrought in marble; with one of which, the Delphians say, a visitor fell in love so strongly, that he made love to it, and shut himself up with it, and presented it with a crown; but when he was detected, the god ordered the Delphians, who consulted his oracle with reference to the subject, to dismiss him freely, for that he had given him a handsome reward."

[85.] G    # And even brute beasts have fallen in love with men: for there was a cock who took a fancy to a man of the name of Secundus, a cupbearer of the king; and the cock was nicknamed the Centaur. But this Secundus was a slave of Nicomedes the king of Bithynia; as Nicander informs us in the sixth book of his essay On Changes of Fortune. And, at Aegium, a goose took a fancy to a boy; as Clearchus relates in the first book of his Amatory Anecdotes. And Theophrastus, in his, essay On Love, says that the name of this boy was Amphilochus, and that he was a native of Olenus. And Hermeias the son of Hermodorus, who was a Samian by birth, says that a goose also took a fancy to Lacydes the philosopher. And in Leucadia (according to a story told by Clearchus), a peacock fell so in love with a maiden there, that when she died, the bird died too. There is a story also that, at Iasus, a dolphin took a fancy to a boy. This story is told by Duris, in the ninth book of his History; and the subject of that book is the history of Alexander, and the historian's words are these: "He likewise sent for the boy from Iasus. For near Iasus there was a boy whose name was Dionysius, and he once, when leaving the palaestra with the rest of the boys, went down to the sea and bathed; and a dolphin came forward out of the deep water to meet him, and taking him on his back, swam away with him a considerable distance into the open sea, and then brought him back again to land." But the dolphin is an animal which is very fond of men, and very intelligent, and one very susceptible of gratitude. Accordingly Phylarchus, in his twelfth book [ Fr_26 ], says- "Coeranus of Miletus, when he saw some fishermen who had caught a dolphin in a net, and who were about to cut it up, gave them some money and bought the fish, and took it down and put it back in the sea again. And after this it happened to him to be shipwrecked near Myconos, and while every one else perished, Coeranus alone was saved by a dolphin. And when, at last, he died of old age in his native country, as it so happened that his funeral procession passed along the sea-shore close to Miletus, a great shoal of dolphins appeared on that day in the harbour, keeping only a very little distance from those who were attending the funeral of Coeranus, as if they also were joining in the procession and sharing in their grief."

The same Phylarchus also relates, in the twentieth book of his History [ Fr_36 ], the great affection which was once displayed by an elephant for a boy. And his words are these: "But there was a female elephant kept with this elephant, and the name of the female elephant was Nicaea; and to her the wife of the king of India, when dying, entrusted her child, which was just a month old. And when the woman did die, the affection for the child displayed by the beast was most extraordinary; for it could not endure the child to be away; and whenever it did not see him, it was out of spirits. And so, whenever the nurse fed the infant with milk, she placed it in its cradle between the feet of the beast; [607] and if she had not done so, the elephant would not take any food; and after this, it would take whatever reeds and grass there were near, and, while the child was sleeping, beat away the flies with the bundle. And whenever the child wept, it would rock the cradle with its trunk, and lull it to sleep. And very often the male elephant did the same."

[86.] G   But you, O philosophers, are far fiercer than dolphins and elephants, and are also much more untameable; although Persaeus of Citium, in his Recollections of Banquets, says loudly,- "It is a very consistent subject of conversation at drinking-parties for men to talk of amatory matters; for we are naturally inclined to such topics after drinking. And at those times we should praise those who indulge in that kind of conversation to a moderate and temperate degree, but blame those who go to excess in it, and behave in a beastly manner. But if logicians, when assembled in a social party, were to talk about syllogisms, then a man might very fairly think that they were acting very unseasonably. And a respectable and virtuous man will at times get drunk; but they who wish to appear extraordinarily temperate, keep up this character amid their cups for a certain time, but afterwards, as the wine begins to take effect on them, they descend to every kind of impropriety and indecency. And this was the case very lately with the ambassadors who came to Antigonus from Arcadia; for they sat at dinner with great severity of countenance, and with great propriety, as they thought, not only not looking at any one of us, but not even looking at one another. But as the wine went round, and music of different kinds was introduced, and when the Thessalian dancing-women, as their fashion is, came in, and danced quite naked, except that they had girdles round their waists, then the men could not restrain themselves any longer, but jumped up off the couches, and shouted as if they were beholding a most gratifying sight; and they congratulated the king because he had it in his power to indulge in such pastimes; and they did and said a great many more vulgar things of the same kind.

"And one of the philosophers who was once drinking with us, when a flute-playing girl came in, and when there was plenty of room near him, when the girl wished to sit down near him, would not allow her, but drew himself up and looked grave. And then afterwards, when the girl was put up to auction, as is often the fashion at such entertainments, he was exceedingly eager to buy her, and quarrelled with the man who sold her, on the ground that he had knocked her down too speedily to some one else; and he said that the auctioneer had not fairly sold her. And at last this grave philosopher, he who at first would not permit the girl even to sit near him, came to blows about her."  # And perhaps this very philosopher, who came to blows about the flute-playing girl, may have been Persaeus himself; for Antigonus of Carystus, in his treatise on Zenon, makes the following statement:- "Zenon of Citium, when once Persaeus at a drinking-party bought a flute-playing girl, and after that was afraid to bring her home, because he lived in the same house with Zenon, becoming acquainted with the circumstance, brought the girl home himself, and shut her up with Persaeus." I know, also, that Polystratus the Athenian, who was a pupil of Theophrastus, and who was surnamed the Etruscan, used often to put on the garments of the female flute-players.

[87.] G   Kings, too, have shown great anxiety about musical women; as Parmenion tells us in his Letter to Alexander, which he sent to that monarch after he had taken Damascus, and after he had become master of all the baggage of Dareius. Accordingly, having enumerated all the things which he had taken, he writes as follows:- [608] "I found three hundred and twenty-nine concubines of the king, all skilled in music; and forty-six men who were skilful in making garlands, and two hundred and seventy-seven confectioners, and twenty-nine boilers of pots, and thirteen cooks skilful in preparing milk, and seventeen artists who mixed drinks, and seventy slaves who strain wine, and forty preparers of perfumes." And I say to you, O my companions, that there is no sight which has a greater tendency to gladden the eyes than the beauty of a woman. Accordingly Oeneus, in the play of the same name which was composed by Chaeremon the tragic poet, speaks of some maidens whom he had seen, and says,-
  And one did lie with garment well thrown back,
  Showing her snow-white bosom to the moon:
  Another, as she lightly danced, displayed
  The fair proportions of her left-hand side,
  Naked- a lovely picture for the air
  To wanton with; and her complexion white
  Strove with the darkening shades. Another bared
  Her lovely arms and shoulders all:
  Another, with her robe high round her neck,
  Concealed her bosom, but a rent below
  Showed all her shapely thighs. I was led on,
  Not without hope, by desire for her smiling beauty.
  Then on the inviting asphodel they fell,
  Plucking the dark leaves of the violet flower,
  And crocus, which, with purple petals rising,
  Copies the golden rays of the early sun.
  There, too, the Persian sweetly-smelling marjoram
  Stretched out its neck along the laughing meadow.

[88.] G   And the same poet, being passionately fond of flowers, says also in his Alphesiboea-
  The glorious beauty of her dazzling body
  Shone brilliant, a sweet sight to every eye;
  And modesty, a tender blush exciting,
  Tinted her gentle cheeks with delicate rose:
  Her waxy hair, in gracefully modelled curls,
  Falling as though arranged by sculptor's hand,
  Waved in the wanton breeze luxuriant.

And in his Io he calls the flowers children of spring, where he says-
  Strewing around sweet children of the spring.

And in his Centaur, which is a drama composed in many metres of various kinds, he calls them children of the meadow-
  There, too, they did invade the countless host
  Of all the new-born flowers that deck the fields,
  Hunting with joy the offspring of the meadows.

And in his Dionysus he says-
  The ivy, lover of the dance,
  Child of the mirthful year.

And in his Odysseus he speaks thus of roses -
  And in their hair they wore the choicest gifts
  Of the Horae, the flowering, fragrant rose,
  The loveliest foster-child of spring.

And in his Thyestes he says-
  The brilliant rose, and modest snow-white lily.

And in his Minyae he says-
  There was full many a fruit of Cypris to view,
  Dark in the rich flowers in due season ripe.

[89.] G   Now there have been many women celebrated for their beauty (for, as Euripides says [ Heracles_678 ]- "Even an old bard may sing of memory"). There was, for instance, Thargelia the Milesian, who was married to fourteen different husbands, [609] so very beautiful and accomplished was she, as Hippias the Sophist says, in his book which is entitled Synagoge. But Dinon, in the fifth book of his History of Persia, and in the first part of it, says that the wife of Bagazus, who was a sister of Xerxes by the same father, (and her name was Anutis,) was the most beautiful and the most licentious of all the women in Asia. And Phylarchus, in his nineteenth book [ Fr_34 ], says that Timosa, the concubine of Oxyartes, surpassed all women in beauty, and that the king of Egypt had originally sent her as a present to Stateira, the wife of the king. And Theopompus, in the fifty-sixth book of his History, speaks of Xenopitheia, the mother of Lysandrides, as the most beautiful of all the women in Peloponnese. And the Lacedaemonians put her to death, and her sister Chryse also, when Agesilaus the king, having raised a seditious tumult in the city, procured Lysandrides, who was his enemy, to be banished by the Lacedaemonians.  # Pantica of Cyprus was also a very beautiful woman and she is mentioned by Phylarchus, in the tenth book of his History [ Fr_21 ], where he says that when she was with Olympias, the mother of Alexander, Monimus, the son of Pythion, asked her in marriage. And, as she was a very licentious woman, Olympias said to him- "O wretched man, you are marrying with your eyes, and not with your understanding." They also say that the woman who brought back Peisistratus to assume the tyranny, clad in the semblance of Athene the Saviour, was very beautiful, as indeed she ought to have been, seeing that she assumed the appearance of a goddess. And she was a seller of garlands; and Peisistratus afterwards gave her in marriage to Hipparchus his son, as Cleidemus relates in the eighth book of his Returns, where he says- "And he also gave the woman, by name Phya, who had been in the chariot with him, in marriage to his son Hipparchus. And she was the daughter of a man named Socrates. And he took for Hippias, who succeeded him in the tyranny, the daughter of Charmus the polemarch, who was extraordinarily beautiful." And it happened, as it is said, that Charmus was a great admirer of Hippias, and that he was the man who first erected a statue of Eros in the Academy, on which there is the following inscription-
  O wily Eros, Charmus this altar raised
  At the well-shaded bounds of the Gymnasium.

Hesiodus, also, in the third book of his Melampodia, calls Chalcis in Euboea "Land of fair women" - for the women there are very beautiful, as Theophrastus also asserts. And Nymphodorus, in his Voyage round Asia, says that there are nowhere more beautiful women than those in Tenedos, an island close to Troy.

[90.] G   I am aware, too, that on one occasion there was a contest of beauty instituted among women. And Nicias, speaking of it in his History of Arcadia, says that Cypselus instituted it, having built a city in the plain which is watered by the Alpheius; in which he established some Parrhasians, and consecrated a plot of sacred ground and an altar to Demeter of Eleusis, in whose festival it was that he had instituted this contest of beauty. And he says that the woman who gained the victory in this contest was Herodice. And even to this day this contest is continued; and the women who contend in it are called "gold-bearers" (χρυσοφόροι). And Theophrastus says that there is also a beauty contest for men which takes place among the Eleans, and that the decision is made with great care and deliberation; and that those who gain the victory receive arms as their prize, which Dionysius of Leuctra says are offered up to Athene. [610] And he says, too, that the victor is adorned with ribbons by his friends, and goes in procession to the temple; and that a crown of myrtle is given to him (at least this is the statement of Myrsilus, in his Historical Paradoxes). "But in some places," says the same Theophrastus, "there are contests between the women in respect of modesty and good management, as there are among the barbarians; and at other places also there are contests about beauty, on the ground that this also is entitled to honour, as for instance, there are in Tenedos and Lesbos. But they say that this is the gift of chance, or of nature; but that the honour paid to modesty ought to be one of a greater degree. For that it is in consequence of modesty that beauty is beautiful; for without modesty it is apt to lead to intemperance."

[91.] G   Now, when Myrtilus had said all this in a continuous speech; and when all were marvelling at his memory, Cynulcus said-
  Your multifarious learning I do wonder at-
  Though there is not a thing more vain and useless,
  says Hippon the Atheist. But the divine Heracleitus also says-"A great variety of information does not usually give wisdom." And Timon said-
  There is great ostentation and parade
  Of multifarious learning, than which nothing
  Can be more vain or useless.

For what is the use of so many names, my good grammarian, which are more calculated to overwhelm the hearers than to do them any good? And if any one were to inquire of you, who they were who were shut up in the wooden horse, you would perhaps be able to tell the names of one or two; and even this you would not do out of the verses of Stesichorus, (for that could hardly be,) but out of the Storming of Troy, by Sacadas the Argive; for he has given a catalogue of a great number of names. Nor indeed could you properly give a list of the companions of Odysseus, and say who they were who were devoured by the Cyclops, or by the Laestrygonians, and whether they were really devoured or not. And you do not even know this, in spite of your frequent mention of Phylarchus, that in the cities of the Ceans it is not possible to see either courtesans or female flute-players.

And Myrtilus said,- But where has Phylarchus stated this? For I have read through all his history.

[92.] G   And when he said,- In the twenty-third book [ Fr_42 ]; Myrtilus said- Do I not then deservedly detest all you philosophers, since you are all haters of philology,- men whom not only did Lysimachus the king banish from his own dominions, as Carystius tells us in his Historical Reminiscenses, but the Athenians did so too.  # At all events, Alexis, in his Horse, says-
  Is this the Academy; is this Xenocrates?
  May the gods greatly bless Demetrius
  And all the lawgivers; for, as men say,
  They've driven out of Attica with disgrace
  All those who do profess to teach the youth
  Learning and science.

 # And a certain man, named Sophocles, passed a decree to banish all the philosophers from Attica. And Philon, the friend of Aristotle, wrote an oration against him; and Demochares, on the other hand, who was the cousin of Demosthenes, composed a defence for Sophocles.  # And the Romans, who are in every respect the best of men, banished all the sophists from Rome, on the ground of their corrupting the youth of the city, though, at a subsequent time, somehow or other, they admitted them. And Anaxippus the comic poet declares your folly in his Thunder-struck, speaking thus-
  Alas, you're a philosopher; but I
  Do think philosophers are only wise
  [611] In quibbling about words; in deeds they are,
  As far as I can see, completely foolish.

It is, therefore, with good reason that many cities, and especially the city of the Lacedaemonians, as Chamaeleon says in his book on Simonides, will not admit either rhetoric or philosophy, on account of the jealousy, and strife, and profitless discussions to which they give rise; owing to which it was that Socrates was put to death; he, who argued against the judges who were given him by lot, discoursing of justice to them when they were a pack of most corrupt men. And it is owing to this, too, that Theodorus the Atheist was put to death, and that Diagoras was banished; and this latter, sailing away when he was banished, was ship-wrecked. But Theotimus, who wrote the books against Epicurus, was accused by Zenon the Epicurean, and put to death; as is related by Demetrius of Magnesia, in his treatise on People and Things which go by the same Name.

[93.] G   And, in short, according to Clearchus of Soli, you do not adopt a manly system of life, but you do really aim at a system which might become a dog; and although this animal has four excellent qualities, you select none but the worst of his qualities for your imitation. For a dog is a wonderful animal as to his power of smelling and of distinguishing what belongs to his own family and what does not; and the way in which he associates with man, and the manner in which he watches over and protects the houses of all those who are kind to him, is extraordinary. But you who imitate the dogs, do neither of these things. For you do not associate with men, nor do you distinguish between those with whom you are acquainted; and being very deficient in sensibility, you live in an indolent and indifferent manner. But while the dog is also a snarling and greedy animal, and also hard in his way of living, and naked; these habits of his you practise, being abusive and gluttonous, and, besides all this, living without a home or a hearth. The result of all which circumstances is, that you are destitute of virtue, and quite unserviceable for any useful purpose in life. For there is nothing less philosophical than those persons who are called philosophers. For whoever supposed that Aeschines, the pupil of Socrates, would have been such a man in his manners as Lysias the orator, in his speeches On the Contracts, represents him to have been; when, out of the dialogues which are extant, and generally represented to be his work, we are inclined to admire him as a decent and moderate man? Unless, indeed, those writings are in reality the work of the wise Socrates, and were given to Aeschines by Xanthippe, the wife of Socrates, after his death, which Idomeneus asserts to be the case.

[94.] G   But Lysias, in the oration which bears the title Against Aeschines, the Pupil of Socrates, for Debt (for I will recite the passage, even though it be a rather long one, on account of your excessive arrogance, O philosophers) begins in the following manner:- "I never should have imagined, O judges, that Aeschines would have dared to come into court on a trial which is so discreditable to him. For a more disgracefully false accusation than the one which he has brought forward, I do not believe it to be easy to find. For he, O judges, when he owed a sum of money with interest at three drachmae [per month] to Sosinomus the banker and Aristogeiton, came to me, and besought me not to allow him to be evicted from his own property, in consequence of this high interest. 'And I,' said he, am at this moment carrying on the trade of a perfumer; but I want capital to go on with, and I will pay you nine obols a month interest.' "

[612] A fine end to the happiness of this philosopher was the trade of a perfumer, and admirably harmonizing with the philosophy of Socrates, a man who utterly rejected the use of all perfumes and unguents! And moreover, Solon the lawgiver expressly forbade a man to devote himself to any such business: on which account Pherecrates, in his Oven, or Woman sitting up all Night, says:-
  Why should he practise a perfumer's trade,
  Sitting up high beneath an awning there,
  Preparing for himself a seat on which
  To gossip with the youths the whole day long?
And presently afterwards he says:-
  And no one ever saw a female cook
  Or any fishwoman; for every class
  Should practise arts which are best suited to it.

And after what I have already quoted, the orator proceeds to say:- "And I was persuaded by this speech of his, considering also that this Aeschines had been the pupil of Socrates, and was a man who uttered fine sentiments about virtue and justice, and who would never attempt nor venture on the actions practised by dishonest and unjust men."

[95.] G   And again, after he had stated the accusations against Aeschines, and had explained how he had borrowed the money, and how he never paid either interest or principal, and how, when an action was brought against him, he had allowed judgment to go by default, and how a branded slave of his had been put forward by him as security; and after he had brought a good many more charges of the same kind against him, the orator proceeded as follows:-

"But, O judges, I am not the only person to whom he behaves in this manner, but he treats every one who has any dealings with him in the same manner. Are not even all the wine-sellers who live near him, from whom he gets wine for his entertainments and never pays for it, bringing actions against him, having already closed their shops against him? And his neighbours are ill-treated by him to such a degree that they leave their own houses, and go and rent others which are at a distance from him. And with respect to all the contributions which he collects, he never himself puts down the remaining share which is due from him, but all the money which ever gets into this peddler's hands is lost as if it were utterly destroyed. And such a number of men come to his house daily at dawn, to ask for their money which he owes them, that passers-by suppose he must be dead, and that such a crowd can only be collected to attend his funeral.

"And those men who live in the Peiraeus have such a low opinion of him, that they think it a far less perilous business to sail to the Adriatic than to deal with him; for he thinks that the money that he borrows is much more actually his own than what his father bequeathed to him. Has he not got possession of the property of Hermaeus the perfumer, after having seduced his wife, though she was seventy years old? He pretended to be in love with her, and then treated her in such a manner that she reduced her husband and her sons to beggary, and made him a perfumer instead of a peddler! He handled the lady in this amorous manner, enjoying the 'fruit of her youth', when it would have been less trouble to him to count her teeth than the fingers of her hand, they were so much fewer. And now come forward, you witnesses, who will prove these facts. This, then, is the life of this sophist."

These, O Cynulcus, are the words of Lysias. But I, in the words of Aristarchus the tragic poet, "Saying no more, but this in self-defence," will now cease my attack upon you and the rest of the Cynics.

↑ Athenaeus: list of contents


Attalus' home page   |   27.03.14   |   Any comments?