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Athenaeus: The Deipnosophists

BOOK 15 (excerpts)

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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[15.] G   [673] And the Gods know that I first found all this out in the beautiful city of Alexandria, having got possession of the treatise of Menodotus, in which I showed to many people the passage in Anacreon which is the subject of discussion. But Hephaestion, who is always charging every one else with thefts, took this solution of mine, and claimed it as his own, and published an essay, to which he gave this title, Concerning the Garland of Withes mentioned by Anacreon. And a copy of this essay we lately found at Rome in the possession of the antiquary Demetrius. And this compiler Hephaestion behaved in the same way to our excellent friend Adrastus. For after he had published a treatise in five books, Concerning those Matters in Theophrastus in his books on Manners, which are open to any Dispute, either as to their Facts, or the Style in which they are mentioned; and had added a sixth book Concerning the Disputable Points in the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle; and in these books had entered into a long dissertation on the mention of Plexippus by Antiphon the tragic poet, and had also said a good deal about Antiphon himself; Hephaestion, I say, appropriated all these books to himself, and wrote another book, Concerning the Mention of Antiphon in the Memorabilia of Xenophon, not having added a single discovery or original observation of his own, any more than he had in the discussion On the Garland of Withes. For the only thing he said that was new, was that Phylarchus, in the seventh book of his Histories [ Fr_14 ], mentioned this story about the withes, [674] and knew nothing of the passage of Nicaenetus, nor of that of Anacreon; and he showed that he differed in some respects from the account that had been given by Menodotus.

But one may explain this fact of the garlands of withes more simply, by saying that Megistes wore a garland of withes because there was a great quantity of those trees in the place where he was feasting; and therefore he used it to bind his temples. For the Lacedaemonians at the festival of the Promachia, wear garlands of reeds, as Sosibius tells us in his treatise On the Sacrificial Festivals at Lacedaemon, where he writes thus: "On this festival the natives of the country all wear garlands of reeds, or tiaras, but the boys who have been brought up in the public discipline follow without any garland at all."

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[38.] G   [688] But the choicest unguents are made in particular places, as Apollonius, the follower of Herophilus, says in his treatise On Perfumes, where he writes- "The iris is best in Elis, and at Cyzicus; the perfume made from roses is most excellent at Phaselis, and that made at Neapolis and Capua is also very fine. That made from crocuses is in the highest perfection at Soli in Cilicia, and at Rhodes. The essence of spikenard is best at Tarsus; and the extract of vine-leaves is made best in Cyprus and at Adramyttium. The best perfume from marjoram and from apples comes from Cos. Egypt bears the palm for its essence of henna; and the next best is the Cyprian, and Phoenician, and after them comes the Sidonian. The perfume called Panathenaicum is made at Athens; and those called Metopian and Mendesian are prepared with the greatest skill in Egypt. But the Metopian is made of oil which is extracted from bitter almonds. Still, the superior excellence of each perfume is owing to the purveyors and the materials and the artists, and not to the place itself; [689] for Ephesus formerly, as men say, had a high reputation for the excellence of its perfumes, and especially of its megalleium, but now it has none. At one time, too, the unguents made in Alexandria were brought to high perfection, on account of the wealth of the city, and the attention that Arsinoe and Berenice paid to such matters; and the finest extract of roses in the world was made at Cyrene while the great Berenice was alive. Again, in ancient times, the extract of vine-leaves made at Adramyttium was but poor; but afterwards it became first-rate, owing to Stratonice, the wife of Eumenes. Formerly, too, Syria used to make every sort of unguent admirably, especially that extracted from fenugreek; but the case is quite altered now. And long ago there used to be a most delicious unguent extracted from frankincense at Pergamum, owing to the invention of a certain perfumer of that city, for no one else had ever made it before him; but now none is made there. Now, when a valuable unguent is poured on the top of one that is inferior, it remains on the surface; but when good honey is poured on the top of that which is inferior, it works its way to the bottom, for it compels that which is worse to rise above it."

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[46.] G   [692] But when I was reading the twenty-eighth book of the History of Poseidonius [ Fr_20 ], I observed, my friends, a very pleasant thing which was said about unguents, and which is not at all foreign to our present discussion. For the philosopher says- "In Syria, at the royal banquets, when the garlands are given to the guests, some slaves come in, with little pouches full of Babylonian perfumes, and going round the room at a little distance from the guests, they bedew their garlands with the perfumes, sprinkling nothing else." And since the discussion has brought us to this point, I will add "A verse to Love", as the bard of Cythera [Philoxenus] says, telling you that Janus, who is worshipped as a great god by us, and whom we call Janus the Father, was the original inventor of garlands. And Dracon of Corcyra tells us this in his treatise On Precious Stones, where his words are- "But it is said that Janus had two faces, the one looking forwards and the other backwards; and that it is from him that the mountain Janus and the river Janus are both named, because he used to live on the mountain. And they say that he was the first inventor of garlands, and boats, and ships; and was also the first person who coined brazen money. And on this account many cities in Greece, and many in Italy and Sicily, place on their coins a head with two faces, and on the obverse a boat, or a garland, or a ship. And they say that he married his sister Camese, and had a son named Aethex, and a daughter Olistene. And he, aiming at a more extended power and renown, sailed over to Italy, and settled on a mountain near Rome, which was called Janiculum from his name."

[47.] G   This, now, is what was said about perfumes and unguents. And after this most of them asked for wine, some demanding the cup of the Good Deity, some that of Zeus the Saviour, others that of Hygieia, as different people invoked different deities; and so they all fell to quoting the words of those poets who had mentioned libations to these different deities; and I will now recapitulate what they said, for they quoted Antiphanes, who, in his Farmers' Wives, says-
  Harmodius was invoked, the paean sung,
  Each drank a mighty cup to Zeus the Saviour.

And Alexis, in his Usurer, or The Liar, says
  [693] (A)   Fill now the cup with the libation due
  To Zeus the Saviour; for he surely is
  Of all the gods most useful to mankind.
  (B)   Your Zeus the Saviour, if I were to burst,
  Would nothing do for me.
  (A)   Just drink, and trust him.

And Nicostratus, in his Pandrosus, says-
  (A)   And so I will, my dear;
  But fill him now a parting cup to Hygieia;
  (B)   Here, pour a due libation out to Hygieia.
  (A)   Another to Good Fortune. Fortune manages
  All the affairs of men; but as for Prudence,-
  That is a blind irregular deity.

And in the same play he mentions mixing a cup in honour of the Good Deity, as do nearly all the poets of the old comedy; but Nicostratus speaks thus-
  Fill a cup quickly now to the Good Deity,
  And take away this table from before me;
  For I have eaten quite enough;- I pledge
  This cup to the Good Deity;- here, quick, I say,
  And take away this table from before me.

Xenarchus, too, in his Twins, says-
  (A)   And now I do begin to nod my head.
  (B)   The cup to the Good Deity,
  When I had drained it, knocked me over.
  (A)   And then the next libation duly quaffed
  To Zeus the Saviour, wholly wrecked my boat,
  And overwhelmed me, as you see.

And Eriphus, in his Meliboea, says-
  Before he'd drunk a cup to the Good Deity,
  Or to great Zeus the Saviour.

[48.] G   And Theophrastus, in his essay On Drunkenness, says- "The unmixed wine which is given at a banquet, which they call the pledge-cup in honour of the Good Deity, they offer in small quantities, as if reminding the guests of its strength, and of the liberality of the god, by the mere taste. And they hand it round when men are already full, in order that there may be as little as possible drunk out of it. And having paid adoration three times, they take it from the table, as if they were entreating of the gods that nothing may be done unbecomingly, and that they may not indulge in immoderate desires for this kind of drink, and that they may derive only what is honourable and useful from it." And Philochorus, in the second book of his Atthis [ Fr_5 ], says- "And a law was made at that time, that after the solid food is removed, a taste of the unmixed wine should be served round as a sort of sample of the power of the Good Deity, but that all the rest of the wine should be previously mixed; on which account the Nymphs had the name given them of Nurses of Dionysus." And that when the pledge-cup to the Good Deity was handed round, it was customary to remove the tables, is made plain by the wicked action of Dionysius the tyrant of Sicily. For there was a table of gold placed before the statue of Asclepius at Syracuse; and so Dionysius, standing before it, and drinking a pledge-cup to the Good Deity, ordered the table to be removed.

But among the Greeks, those who sacrifice to the Sun, as Phylarchus tells us in the twelfth book of his History [ Fr_25 ], make their libations of honey, as they never bring wine to the altars; saying that it is proper that the god who keeps the whole universe in order, and regulates everything, and is always going round and superintending the whole, should in no respect be connected with drunkenness.

[49.] G   Most writers have mentioned the Attic scolia; and they are worthy also of being mentioned by me to you, on account of the antiquity and simple style of composition of the authors, and of those especially who gained a high reputation for that form of poetry, Alcaeus and Anacreon; [694] as Aristophanes says in his Daitaleis, where we find this line-
  Come, then, a scolium sing to me,
  Of old Alcaeus or Anacreon.

Praxilla, the Sicyonian poetess, was also celebrated for the composition of scolia. Now they are called scolia, not because of the character of the verse in which they are written, as if it were σκολιὸς (crooked); for men call also those poems written in a laxer kind of metre σκολιά. But, "as there are three kinds of songs" (as Artemon of Cassandreia says in the second book of his treatise On the Use of Books), "one or other of which comprehends everything which is sung at banquets; the first kind is that which it was usual for the whole party to sing; the second is that which the whole party indeed sang, not, however, together, but going round according to some kind of succession; the third is that which is ranked lowest of all, which was not sung by all the guests, but only by those who seemed to understand what was to be done, wherever they might happen to be sitting; on which account, as having some irregularity in it beyond what the other kinds had, in not being sung by all the guests, either together or in any definite kind of succession, but just as it might happen, it was called the crooked song (σκόλιον). And songs of this kind were sung when the ordinary songs, and those in which every one was bound to join, had come to an end. For then they invited all the more intelligent of the guests to sing some song worth listening to. And what they thought worth listening to were such songs as contained some exhortations and sentiments which seemed useful for the purposes of life."

[50.] G   And of these Deipnosophists, one quoted one scolium, and one another. And these were those which were recited-

I
  O Tritonian Pallas, who from heaven above
  Looks with protecting eye
  On this holy city and land,
  Deign our protectress now to prove
  From loss in war, from dread sedition's band,
  And death's untimely blow, you and your father too.

II
  I sing at this glad season, of the Queen,
  Mother of Plutus, Olympian Demeter;
  May you be ever near us,
  With Persephone daughter of Zeus,
  And ever as a friend
  This citadel defend.

III
  Leto once in Delos, as they say,
  Did two great children bear,
  Apollo with the golden hair,
  Bright Phoebus, god of day.
  And Artemis, mighty huntress, virgin chaste.
  On whom all women's trust is placed.

IV
  Raise the loud shout to Pan, Arcadia's king;
  Praise to the Nymphs' loved comrade sing!
  Come, O Pan, and raise with me
  The song in joyful ecstasy.

V
  We have conquered as we would,
  The gods reward us as they should,
  And victory bring from Pandrosus (?) to Athene.

VI
  Oh, would the gods such grace bestow,
  That opening each man's breast,
  One might survey his heart, and know
  How true the friendship that could stand that test.

VII
  Health's the best gift to mortal given;
  Beauty is next; the third great prize
  Is to grow rich, free both from sin and vice;
  The fourth, to pass one's youth with friends beloved by heaven.

And when this had been sung, and everybody had been delighted with it; and when it had been mentioned that even the incomparable Plato had spoken of this scolium as one most admirably written, Myrtilus said, that Anaxandrides the comic poet had turned it into ridicule in his Treasure, speaking thus of it-
  The man who wrote this song, whoever he was,
  When he called health the best of all possessions,
  Spoke well enough. But when the second place
  He gave to beauty, and the third to riches,
  He certainly was downright mad; for surely
  Riches must be the next best thing to health,
  For who would care to be a starving beauty!

[695] After that, these other scolia were sung-

VIII
  'Tis well to stand upon the shore,
  And look on others on the sea;
  But when you once have dipped your oar,
  By the present wind you must guided be.

IX
  A crab caught a snake in his claw,
  And thus he triumphantly spake,-
  "My friends must be guided by law,
  Nor love crooked counsels to take."

X
  I'll wreathe my sword in myrtle bough,
  As Harmodius and Aristogeiton did,
  When they laid the tyrant low,
  And to Athens gave equality.

XI
  Harmodius, hail! you did not die,
  But stay in the islands of the blest,
  Where swift-footed Achilles lives,
  And Diomedes, Tydeus' brave son.

XII
  I'll wreathe my sword in myrtle bough,
  As Harmodius and Aristogeiton did,
  When at Athene's feast they slew
  Hipparchus, the tyrant of the land.

XIII
  Harmodius and Aristogeiton, hail!
  You will have eternal glory;
  Because you laid the tyrant low,
  And to Athens gave equality.

XIV
  Learn, my friend, from Admetus' story,
  All worthy friends and brave to cherish;
  But cowards shun when danger comes,
  For they will leave you alone to perish.

XV
  Ajax of the ponderous spear, mighty son of Telamon,
  They call you bravest of the Greeks, next to the great Achilles.

XVI
  Telamon was first, and Ajax came in second place
  Of all the Greeks who went to Troy, after invincible Achilles.

XVII
  Would that I were an fine ivory lyre,
  Struck by fair boys in Dionysus' chorus.

XVIII
  Would that I were a golden trinket, large and new,
  Worn by a lady fair, of spirit chaste.

XIX
  Drink with me, and sport with me,
  Love with me, wear crowns with me,
  Be mad with me when I am moved with rage,
  And modest when I yield to counsels sage.

XX
  A scorpion beneath every stone doth lie,
  And secrets usually hide treachery.

XXI
  A sow one acorn has, and wants the other;
  And I have one fair maid, and seek another.

XXII
  A wanton and a bath-keeper both cherish the same fashion,
  Giving the worthless and the good the self-same bath to wash in.

XXIII
  Give Cedon wine, O slave, and fill it up,
  If you must give each worthy man a cup.

XXIV
  Alas ! Leipsydrium, you betray
  A host of gallant men,
  Who for their country many a day
  Have fought, and would again.
  And even when they fell, their race
  In their great actions you may trace.

XXV
  The man who never will betray his friend,
  Earns fame of which nor earth nor heaven shall see the end.

Some also say the poem that which was composed by Hybrias the Cretan is a scolium ; and it runs thus-

XXVI
  I have great wealth, a sword, and spear,
  And trusty shield beside me here;
  [696] With these I plough, and from the vine
  Squeeze out the heart-delighting wine;
  They make me lord of everything.
  But they who dread the sword and spear,
  And ever trusty shield to bear,
  Shall fall before me on their knees,
  And worship me whenever I please,
  And call me mighty lord and king.

[51.] G   After this, Democritus said:- But the song which was composed by that most learned writer, Aristotle, and addressed to Hermeias of Atarneus, is not a paean, as was asserted by Demophilus, who instituted a prosecution against the philosopher, on the ground of impiety (having been suborned to act the part of accuser by Eurymedon, who was ashamed to appear himself in the business). And he rested the charge of impiety on the fact of his having been accustomed to sing at banquets a paean addressed to Hermeias. But that this song has no characteristic whatever of a paean, but is a kind of scolium, I will show you plainly from its own language-
  O virtue, never but by labour to be won,
  First object of all human life,
  For such a prize as you
  There is no toil, there is no strife,
  Nor even death which any Greek would shun;
  Such is the reward fair and free,
  And lasting too, with which thou dost thy followers grace,-
  Better than gold,
  Better than sleep, or even the glories old
  Of high descent and noble race.
  For you Zeus' mighty son, great Heracles,
  Forsook a life of ease;
  For you the Spartan brothers twain
  Sought toil and danger, following your behests
  With fearless and unwearied breasts.
  Your love it was that fired and gave
  To early grave
  Achilles and the giant son
  Of Salaminian Telamon.
  And now for you Atarneus' pride,
  Trusting in others' faith, has nobly died;
  But yet his name
  Shall never die, the Muses' holy train
  Shall bear him to the skies with deathless fame,
  Honouring Zeus, the hospitable god,
  And honest hearts, proved friendship's blest abode.

[52.] G   Now I don't know whether any one can detect in this any resemblance to a paean, when the author expressly states in it that Hermeias is dead, when he says-
  And now for you Atarneus' pride,
  Trusting in others' faith, has nobly died.

Nor has the song the refrain, which all paeans have, of "Io Paean", as that song written on Lysander the Spartan, which really is a paean, has; a song which Duris, in his book entitled The Annals of the Samians, says is sung in Samos. That also was a paean which was written in honour of Craterus the Macedonian, of which Alexinus the dialectician was the author, as Hermippus the pupil of Callimachus says in the first book of his essay on Aristotle. And this song is sung at Delphi, with a boy playing the lyre as an accompaniment to it. The song, too, addressed to Agemon of Corinth, the father of Alcyone, which the Corinthians sang, contains the refrain of the paean. And this refrain, too, is even added by Polemon Periegetes to his letter addressed to Aranthius. The song also which the Rhodians sing, addressed to Ptolemaeus the first king of Egypt, is a paean: for it contains the refrain "Io Paean", [697] as (?) Gorgon tells us in his essay On the Sacrifices at Rhodes.  # And Philochorus says that the Athenians sing paeans in honour of Antigonus and Demetrius, which were composed by Hermippus of Cyzicus, on an occasion when a great many poets had a contest as to who could compose the finest paean, and the victory was adjudged to Hermippus. And, indeed, Aristotle himself, in his Defence of himself from the accusation of impiety, (unless the speech is a spurious one,) says- "For if I had wished to offer sacrifice to Hermeias as an immortal being, I should never have built him a tomb as a mortal; nor if I had wished to make him out to be a god, should I have honoured him with funeral obsequies like a man."

[53.] G   When Democritus had said this, Cynulcus said;- Why do you remind me of those cyclic poems, to use the words of your friend Philon, when you never ought to say anything serious or important in the presence of this glutton Ulpianus? For he prefers lascivious songs to dignified ones; such, for instance, as those which are called Locrian songs, which are of a debauched sort of character, such as-
  Do you not feel some pleasure now?
  Do not betray me, I entreat you.
  Rise up before my husband comes back,
  Lest he should ill-treat you and me.
  'Tis morning now, do you not see
  The daylight through the windows?

And all Phoenicia is full of songs of this kind; and he himself, when there, used to go about playing on the flute with the men who sing the so-called pig-songs (κολάβροι). And there is good authority, Ulpianus, for this word. For Demetrius of Scepsis, in the tenth book of his Trojan Array, speaks thus:- "Ctesiphon the Athenian, who was a composer of the so-called pig-songs (κολάβρων), was made by Attalus, who succeeded Philetaerus as king of Pergamum, judge of all his subjects in the district of Aeolis." And the same writer, in the nineteenth book of the same work, says that Seleucus the composer of merry songs was the son of Mnesiptolemus, who was an historian, and who had great influence with that Antiochus who was called the Great. And it was very much the fashion to sing this song of his-
  I will choose a boy-loving life,
  That is far better than a wife;
  Boy-friends in war a man stand by,
  While the wife goes home to cry.

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