Athenaeus: The Deipnosophists

BOOK 6, Pages 248-262

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 (234-248)

[53.] G   [248] When Plutarchus had said all this about parasites, Democritus, taking up the discourse, said, And I myself, 'like wood well-glued to wood,' as the Theban poet has it, will say a word about flatterers.
  For of all men the flatterer fares best,
as the excellent Menander says. And there is no great difference between calling a man a flatterer and a parasite. Accordingly, Lynceus the Samian, in his Commentaries, gives the name of parasite to Cleisophus, the man who is universally described as the flatterer of Philippus, the king of the Macedonians (but he was an Athenian by birth, as Satyrus the Peripatetic affirms, in his Life of Philippus). And Lynceus says - "Cleisophus, the parasite of Philippus, when Philippus rebuked him for being continually asking for something, replied, 'I am very forgetful.' Afterwards, when Philippus had given him a wounded horse, he sold him; and when, after a time, the king asked him what had become of him, he answered, 'He was sold by that wound of his.' And when Philippus laughed at him, and took it good-humouredly, he said, 'Is it not then worth my while to keep you?'" And Hegesander the Delphian, in his Commentaries, makes this mention of Cleisophus:- "When Philippus the king said that writings had been brought to him from Cotys, king of Thrace, Cleisophus, who was present, said, 'It is well, by the gods.' And when Philippus said, 'But what do you know of the subjects mentioned in these writings?' he said, 'By the great Zeus, you have reproved me with admirable judgement.'"

[54.] G   But Satyrus, in his Life of Philippus, says, "When Philippus lost his eye, Cleisophus came forth with him, with bandages on the same eye as the king; and again, when his leg was hurt, he came out limping, along with the king. And if ever Philippus ate any harsh or sour food, [249] he would contract his features, as if he, too, had the same taste in his mouth. But in the country of the Arabs they used to do these things, not out of flattery, but in obedience to some law; so that whenever the king had anything the matter with any one of his limbs, the courtiers pretended to be suffering the same inconvenience: for they think it ridiculous to be willing to be buried with him when be dies, but not to pay him the compliment of appearing to be subject to the same sufferings as he is while alive, if he sustains any injury."  # But Nicolaus of Damascus,- and he was one of the Peripatetic school,- in his very voluminous history (for it consisted of a hundred and forty-four books), in the hundred and eleventh book says, that Adiatomus the king of the Sotiani (and that is a Celtic tribe) had six hundred picked men about him, who were called by the Gauls, in their national language, Siloduri - which word means in Greek, Bound under a vow. "And the king has them as companions, to live with him and to die with him; as that is the vow which they all take. In return for which, they also share his power, and wear the same dress, and cut the same food; and they die when he dies, as a matter of absolute necessity, if the king dies of any disease; or if he dies in war, or in any other manner. And no one can even say that any of them has shown any fear of death, or has in the least sought to evade it when the king is dead."

[55.] G   But Theopompus says, in the forty-fourth book of his Histories, that Philippus appointed Thrasydaeus the Thessalian tyrant over all those of his nation, though a man who had but little intellect, but who was an egregious flatterer. But Arcadion the Achaean was not a flatterer, who is mentioned by the same Theopompus, and also by Duris in the fifth book of his History of Macedonian Affairs. Now this Arcadion hated Philippus, and on account of this hatred voluntarily banished himself from his country. And he was a man of the most admirable natural abilities, and numbers of clever sayings of his are related. It happened then once, when Philippus was sojourning at Delphi, that Arcadion also was there; and the Macedonian beheld him and called him to him, and said, How much further, O Arcadion, do you mean to go by way of banishment? And he replied -
  Until I meet with men who know not Philippus. [ Hom:Od_11'122 ]

But Phylarchus, in the twenty-first book of his History [ Fr_37 ], says that Philippus laughed at this, and invited Arcadion to supper, and that in that way he got rid of his enmity. But of Nicesias the flatterer of Alexander, Hegesander gives the following account:- "When Alexander complained of being bitten by the flies and was eagerly brushing them off, a man of the name of Nicesias, one of his flatterers who happened to be present, said,- Beyond all doubt those flies will be far superior to all other flies, now that they have tasted your blood." And the same man says that Cheirisophus also, the flatterer of Dionysius, when he saw Dionysius laughing with some of his acquaintances, (but he was some way off himself, so that he could not hear what they were laughing at,) laughed also. And when Dionysius asked him on what account he, who could not possibly hear what was said, laughed, said - I feel that confidence in you that I am quite sure that, what has been said is worth laughing at.

[56.] G   His son also, the second Dionysius, had numerous flatterers, who were called by the common people Dionysiocolaces. And they, because Dionysius himself was not very sharp sighted, used to pretend while at supper not to be able to see very far, but they would touch whatever was near them as if they could not see it, until Dionysius himself guided their hands to the dishes. And when Dionysius spat, they would often put out their own faces for him to spit upon: [250] and then licking off the spittle and even his vomit, they declared that it was sweeter than honey. And Timaeus, in the twenty-second book of his Histories, says that Democles the flatterer of the younger Dionysius, as it was customary in Sicily to make a sacrifice from house to house in honour of the nymphs, and for men to spend the night around their statues when quite drunk, and to dance around the goddesses - Democles neglecting the nymphs, and saying that there was no use in attending to lifeless deities, went and danced before Dionysius. And at a subsequent time being once sent on an embassy with some colleagues to Dion, when they were all proceeding in a trireme, he being accused by the rest of behaving in a seditious manner in respect of this journey, and of having injured the general interests of Dionysius, when Dionysius was very indignant, he said that differences had arisen between himself and his colleagues, because after supper they took a paean of Phrynichus or Stesichorus, and some of them took one of Pindarus' and sang it; but he, with those who agreed with him, went entirely through the hymns which had been composed by Dionysius himself. And he undertook to bring forward undeniable proof of this assertion. For that his accusers were not acquainted with the modulation of those songs, but that he on the contrary was ready to sing them all through one after the other. And so, when Dionysius was pacified, Democles continued, and said, "But you would do me a great favour, O Dionysius, if you were to order any one of those who knows it to teach me the paean which you composed in honour of Asclepius; for I hear that you have taken great pains with that."

And once, when some friends were invited to supper by Dionysius, Dionysius coming into the room, said, "O, my friends, letters have been sent to us from the generals who have been despatched to Neapolis;" and Democles interrupting him, said, "By the gods, they have done well, O Dionysius." And he, looking upon him, said, "But how do you know whether what they have written is in accordance with my expectation or the contrary?" And Democles replied, "By the gods, you have properly rebuked me, O Dionysius." Timaeus also affirms that there was a man named Satyrus who was a flatterer of both the Dionysii.

[57.] G    # And Hegesander relates that Hieron the tyrant was also rather weak in his eyes; and that his friends who supped with him made mistakes in the dishes on purpose, in order to let him set them right, and to give him an opportunity of appearing clearer-sighted than the rest. And Hegesander says that Eucelides, who was surnamed Seutlus, (and he too was a parasite,) once when a great quantity of sow-thistles (σόγκος) was set before him at a banquet, said, "Capaneus who is introduced by Euripides in his Suppliant Women [ 864 ], was a very witty man -
  Detesting tables where there was too much pride (ὄγκος).

 # But those who were the leaders of the people at Athens, says he, in the Chremonidean war, flattered the Athenians, and said, "that everything else was common to all the Greeks; but that the Athenians were the only men who knew the road which leads to heaven." And Satyrus, in his Lives, says that Anaxarchus, the Eudaemonist philosopher, was one of the flatterers of Alexander; and that he once, when on a journey in company with the king, when a violent and terrible thunderstorm took place, so as to frighten everybody, said - "Was it you, O Alexander, son of Zeus, who caused this?" [251] And that he laughed and said - "Not I; for I do not wish to be formidable, as you make me out; you also desire me to have brought to me at supper the heads of satraps and kings." And Aristobulus of Cassandreia says that Dioxippus the Athenian, a pancratiast, once when Alexander was wounded and when the blood flowed, said [ Hom:Il_5'340 ]-
  'Tis ichor, such as flows from the blessed gods.

[58.] G   And Epicrates the Athenian, having gone on an embassy to the [Persian] king, according to the statement of Hegesander, and having received many presents from him, was not ashamed to flatter the king openly and boldly, so as even to say that the best way was not to choose nine archons every year, but nine ambassadors to the king. But I wonder at the Athenians, how they allowed him to make such a speech without bringing him to trial, and yet fined Demades ten talents, because he thought Alexander a god; and they put Evagoras to death, because when he went as ambassador to the king he prostrated himself before him. And Timon of Phlius, in the third book of his Silli, says that Ariston the Chian, an acquaintance and pupil of Zenon of Citium, was a flatterer of Persaeus the philosopher, because he was a companion of Antigonus the king. But Phylarchus, in the sixth book of his Histories [ Fr_11 ], says that Nicesias the flatterer of Alexander, when he saw the king in convulsions from some medicine which he had taken, said - "O king, what must we do, when even you gods suffer in this manner?" and that Alexander, scarcely looking up, said - "What sort of gods? I am afraid rather we are hated by the gods." And in his twenty-eighth book the same Phylarchus says [ Fr_46 ] that Apollophanes was a flatterer of Antigonus who was surnamed Epitropus ['Guardian'], who took Lacedaemon, and he used to say that the fortune of Antigonus Alexandrized.

[59.] G   But Euphantus, in the fourth book of his Histories, says that Callicrates was a flatterer of Ptolemaeus, the third king of Egypt, and was so clever that he not only bore an image of Odysseus on his seal, but that he also gave his children the names of Telegonus and Anticleia.  # And Polybius, in the thirteenth book of his Histories [ 13.4 ], says that Heracleides of Tarentum was a flatterer of the Philippus whose power was destroyed by the Romans; and that it was he who overturned his whole kingdom. And in his fourteenth book [ 14.11 ], he says that Philon was a flatterer of Agathocles the son of Oenanthe, and the companion of the king Ptolemaeus Philopator. And Baton of Sinope relates, in his book about the tyranny of Hieronymus, that Thrason, who was surnamed Carcharus, was the flatterer of Hieronymus the tyrant of Syracuse, saying that he every day used to drink a great quantity of unmixed wine. But another flatterer, by name Osis, caused Thrason to be put to death by Hieronymus; and he persuaded Hieronymus himself to assume the diadem, and the purple and all the rest of the royal apparel, which Dionysius the tyrant was accustomed to wear. And Agatharchides, in the thirtieth book of his Histories, says - "Haeresippus the Spartan was a great rascal, not even putting on any appearance of goodness; but having very persuasive flattering language, and being a very clever man at paying court to the rich as long as their fortune lasted." [252] Such also was Heracleides of Maroneia, the flatterer of Seuthes the king of the Thracians, who is mentioned by Xenophon in the seventh book of the Anabasis [ 7.3'16 ].

[60.] G   But Theopompus, in the eighteenth book of his Histories, speaking of Nicostratus the Argive, and saying how he flattered the Persian king, writes as follows - "But how can we think Nicostratus the Argive anything but a wicked man? who, when he was president of the city of Argos, and when he had received all the distinctions of family, and riches, and large estates from his ancestors, surpassed all men in his flatteries and attentions to the king, outrunning not only those who bore a part in that expedition, but even all who had lived before; for in the first place, he was so anxious for honours from the barbarian, that, wishing to please him more and to be more trusted by him, he brought his son to the king, a thing which no one else will ever be found to have done. And then, every day when he was about to go to supper he had a table set apart, to which he gave the name of the Table of the King's Deity, loading it with meat and all other requisites; hearing that those who live at the doors of the royal palace among the Persians do the same thing, and thinking that by this courtier-like attention he should get more from the king. For he was exceedingly covetous, and not scrupulous as to the means he employed for getting money, so that indeed no one was over less so." And Lysimachus was a flatterer and the tutor of Attalus the king, a man whom Callimachus sets down as a pupil of Theodorus, but Hermippus sets him down in the list of the disciples of Theophrastus. And this man wrote books also about the education of Attalus, full of every kind of adulation imaginable. But Polybius, in the eighth book of his Histories [ 8.22 ], says, "Cavarus the Gaul, who was in other respects a good man, was depraved by Sostratus the flatterer, who was a native of Chalcedon."

[61.] G   Nicolaus, in the hundred and fourteenth book of his Histories, says that Andromachus of Carrhae was a flatterer of Licinius Crassus, who commanded the expedition against the Parthians; and that Crassus communicated all his designs to him, and was, in consequence, betrayed to the Parthians by him, and so destroyed. But Andromachus was not allowed by the deity to escape unpunished. For having obtained, as the reward of his conduct, the sovereignty over his native place Carrhae, he behaved with such cruelty and violence that he was burnt with his whole family by the inhabitants of Carrhae. And Poseidonius of Apameia, who was afterwards surnamed Rhodian, in the fourth book of his Histories [ Fr_4 ], says that Hierax of Antioch, who used formerly to accompany the singers called Lysiodi on the flute, afterwards became a terrible flatterer of Ptolemaeus, seventh king of Egypt of that name, who was also surnamed Euergetes; and that he had the very greatest influence over him, as also he had with Ptolemaeus Philometor, though he was afterwards put to death by him. And Nicolaus the Peripatetic states that Sosipater, who was by trade a juggler, was a flatterer of Mithridates. And Theopompus, in the ninth book of his History of Greek Affairs, says that Athenaeus the Eretrian was a flatterer and servant of Sisyphus the tyrant of Pharsalus.

[62.] G    # The whole populace of the Athenians, too, was very notorious for the height to which it pushed its flattery; accordingly, Demochares the cousin of Demosthenes the orator, in the twentieth book of his histories, speaking of the flattery practised by the Athenians towards Demetrius Poliorcetes, [253] and saying that he himself did not at all like it, writes as follows- "And some of these things annoyed him greatly, as they well might. And, indeed, other parts of their conduct were utterly mean and disgraceful. They consecrated temples to Leaena Aphrodite and Lamia Aphrodite, and they erected altars and shrines as if to heroes, and instituted libations in honour of Burichus, and Adeimantus, and Oxythemis, his flatterers. And poems were sung in honour of all these people, so that even Demetrius himself was astonished at what they did, and said that in his time there was not one Athenian of a great or vigorous mind." The Thebans also flattered Demetrius, as Polemon relates in the treatise on the Ornamented Portico at Sicyon; and they, too, erected a temple to Lamia Aphrodite. But she was one of Demetrius' mistresses, as also was Leaena. So that why should we wonder at the Athenians, who stooped even to become flatterers of flatterers, singing paeans and hymns to Demetrius himself?

Accordingly Demochares, in the twenty-first book of his Histories, says- "And the Athenians received Demetrius when he came from Leucas and Corcyra to Athens, not only with frankincense, and crowns, and libations of wine, but they even went out to meet him with hymns, and choruses, and ithyphallic mummers, and dancing and singing, and they stood in front of him in multitudes, dancing and singing, and saying that he was the only true god, and that all the rest of the gods were either asleep, or gone away to a distance, or were no gods at all. And they called him the son of Poseidon and Aphrodite, for he was eminent for beauty, and affable to all men with a natural courtesy and gentleness of manner. And they fell at his feet and addressed supplications and prayers to him."

[63.] G   Demochares, then, has said all this about the adulatory spirit and conduct of the Athenians. And Duris the Samian, in the twenty-second book of his Histories, has given the very ithyphallic hymn which they addressed to him -
  Behold the greatest of the gods and dearest
  Are come to this city,
  For here Demeter and Demetrius are
  Present in season.
  She indeed comes to duly celebrate
  The sacred mysteries
  Of her most holy daughter - he is present
  Joyful and beautiful,
  As a god ought to be, with smiling face
  Showering his blessings round.
  How noble does he look! his friends around,
  Himself the centre.
  His friends resemble the bright lesser stars,
  Himself is the sun.
  Hail, ever-mighty Poseidon's mightier son;
  Hail, son of Aphrodite.
  For other gods do at a distance keep,
  Or have no ears,
  Or no existence; and they heed not us -
  But you are present,
  Not made of wood or stone, a genuine god.
  We pray to you.
  First of all give us peace, O dearest god -
  For you are lord of peace -
  And crush for us yourself, for you've the power,
  This odious Sphinx;
  Which now destroys not Thebes alone, but Greece -
  The whole of Greece -
  I mean the Aetolian, who, like her of old,
  Sits on a rock,
  And tears and crushes all our wretched bodies.
  Nor can we him resist.
  For the Aetolians plunder all their neighbours;
  And now they stretch afar
  Their lion hands; but crush them, mighty lord,
  Or send some Oedipus
  Who shall this Sphinx hurl down from off his precipice,
  Or starve him justly.

[64.] G   This is what was sung by the nation which once fought at Marathon, and they sang it not only in public, but in their private houses - men who had once put a man to death for prostrating himself before the king of Persia, and who had slain countless myriads of barbarians. [254] Therefore, Alexis, in his Apothecary, or Crateuas, introduces a person pledging one of the guests in a cup of wine, and represents him as saying -
  Boy, give a larger cup, and pour therein
  Four cyathi of strong and friendly drink,
  In honour of all present. Then you shall add
  Three more for love; one for the victory,
  The glorious victory of King Antigonus,
  Another for the young Demetrius.
  * * * * *

And presently he adds -
  Bring a third cup in honour now
  Of Phila Aphrodite. Hail, my friends and guests;
  I drink the cup to the success of all of you.

[65.] G   Such were the Athenians, at that time, after flattery, that worst of wild beasts, had inspired their city with frenzy, that city which once the Pythia entitled the Hearth of Greece, and which Theopompus, who hated them, called the prytaneium of Greece; he who said in other places that Athens was fall of drunken flatterers, and sailors, and pickpockets, and also of false witnesses, sycophants, and false accusers. And it is my opinion that it was they who introduced all the flattery which we have been speaking of, like a storm, or other infliction, sent on men by the gods; concerning which Diogenes said, very elegantly- "That it was much better to go ἐς κόρακας ['to the crows'] than ἐς κόλακας ['to the flatterers'], who eat up all the good men while they are still alive;" and, accordingly, Anaxilas says, in his Young Woman -
  The flatterers are worms which prey upon
  All who have money; for they make an entrance
  Into the heart of a good guileless man.
  And take their seat there, and devour it.
  Till they have drained it like the husk of wheat,
  And leave the shell; and then attack some other.

And Plato says, in his Phaedrus [ 240'b ] - "Nature has mingled some pleasure which is not entirely inelegant in its character of a flatterer, though he is an odious beast, and a great injury to a state." And Theophrastus, in his treatise on Flattery, says that Myrtis the priest, the Argive, taking by the ear Cleonymus (who was a dancer and also a flatterer, and who often used to come and sit by him and his fellow-judges, and who was anxious to be seen in company with those who were thought of consideration in the city), and dragging him out of the assembly, said to him in the hearing of many people, You shall not dance here, and you shall not hear us. And Diphilus, in his Marriage, says -
  A flatterer destroys
  By his pernicious speeches
  Both general and prince,
  Both private friends and states;
  He pleases for a while,
  But causes lasting ruin.
  And now this evil habit
  Has spread among the people,
  Our courts are all diseased,
  And all is done by favour.

So that the Thessalians did well who razed the city which was called Colaceia (Flattery), which the Melians used to inhabit, as Theopompus relates in the thirtieth book of his History.

[66.] G    # But Phylarchus says [ Fr_29 ], that those Athenians who settled in Lemnos were great flatterers, mentioning them as such in the thirteenth book of his History. For that they, wishing to display their gratitude to the descendants of Seleucus and Antiochus, [255] because Seleucus not only delivered them when they were severely oppressed by Lysimachus but also restored both their cities to them,- they, I say, the Athenians in Lemnos, not only erected temples to Seleucus, but also to his son Antiochus; and they have named the cup, which at their feasts is offered at the end of the banquet, the cup of Seleucus the Saviour.

Now some people, perverting the proper name, call this flattery ἀρέσκεια, complaisance; as Anaxandrides does in his Samian, where he says -
  For flattery is now complaisance called.

But those who devote themselves to flattery are not aware that that art is one which flourishes only a short time. Accordingly, Alexis says in his Liar -
  A flatterer's life but a brief space endures,
  For no one likes a hoary parasite.

And Clearchus of Soli, in the first book of his Amatory treatises, says- "No flatterer is constant in his friendship. For time destroys the falsehood of his pretences, and a lover is only a flatterer and a pretended friend on account of youth or beauty." One of the flatterers of Demetrius the king was Adeimantus of Lampsacus, who having built a temple at Thria, and placed statues in it, called it the temple of Phila Aphrodite, and called the place itself Philaeum, from Phila the (?) wife of Demetrius; as we are told by Dionysius the son of Tryphon, in the tenth book of his treatise on Names.

[67.] G   But Clearchus of Soli, in his book which is inscribed Gergithius, tells us whence the origin of the name flatterer is derived and mentioning Gergithius himself, from whom the treatise has its name, he says that he was one of Alexander's flatterers; and he tells the story thus- "That flattery debases the characters of the flatterers, making them apt to despise whoever they associate with; and a proof of this is, that they endure everything, well knowing what they dare do. And those who are flattered by them, being puffed up by their adulation, they make foolish and empty-headed, and cause them to believe that they, and everything belonging to them, are of a higher order than other people." And then proceeding to mention a certain young man, a Paphian by birth, but a king by the caprice of fortune, he says- "This young man (and he does not mention his name) used out of his preposterous luxury to lie on a couch with silver feet, with a smooth Sardian carpet spread under it of the most expensive description. And over him was thrown a piece of purple cloth, edged with a scarlet fringe; and he had three pillows under his head made of the finest linen, and of purple colour, by which he kept himself cool. And under his feet he had two pillows of the kind called Dorian, of a bright crimson colour; and on all this he lay himself, clad in a white robe.

[68.] G   "And all the monarchs who have at any time reigned in Cyprus have encouraged a race of nobly-born flatterers as useful to them; for they are a possession very appropriate to tyrants. And no one ever knows them (any more than they do the judges of the Areopagus), either how many they are, or who they are, except that perhaps some of the most eminent may be known or suspected. And the flatterers at Salamis are divided into two classes with reference to their families; and it is from the flatterers in Salamis that all the rest of the flatterers in the other parts of Cyprus are derived; and one of these two classes is called the Gergini, and the other the Promalanges. [256] Of which, the Gergini mingle with the people in the city and go about as eavesdroppers and spies in the workshops and the market-places; and whatever they hear, they report every day to those who are called their Principles. But the Promalanges, being a sort of superior investigators, inquire more particularly into all that is reported by the Gergini which appears worthy of being investigated; and the way in which they conduct themselves towards every one is so artificial and gentle, that, as it seems to me, and as they themselves allege, the very seed of notable flatterers has been spread by them over all the places at a distance. They take much pride in their skill, because they are greatly honoured by the kings; and they say that one of the Gergini, being a descendant of those Trojans whom Teucer took as slaves, having selected them from the captives, and then brought and settled in Cyprus, going along the sea coast with a few companions, sailed towards Aeolis, in order to seek out and re-establish the country of his ancestors; and that he, taking some Mysians to himself, inhabited a city near the Trojan Ida, which was formerly called Gergina, from the name of the inhabitants, but is now called Gergitha. For some of the party being, as it seems, separated from this expedition, stopped in Cumae, being by birth a Cyprian race, and not from the Thessalian Tricca, as some have affirmed, - men whose ignorance I take to be beyond the skill of all the descendants of Asclepius to cure.

[69.] G   "There were also in this country, in the time of Glus the Carian, women attaching themselves to the Queens, who were called flatterers; and a few of them who were left crossed the sea, and were sent for to the wives of Artabazus and Mentor, and instead of κολακίδες ['flatterers'] were called κλιμακίδες from the following circumstance. By way of making themselves agreeable to those who had sent for them, they made a ladder [κλίμακια] of themselves, in such a manner that there was a way of ascending over their backs, and also a way of descending, for their mistresses when they drove out in chariots: to such a pitch of luxury, not to say of miserable helplessness, did they bring those silly women by their contrivance. Therefore, they themselves, when they were compelled by fortune to quit that very luxurious way of living, lived with great hardship in their old age. And the others who had received these habits from us, when they were deprived of their authority came to Macedonia; and the customs which they taught to the wives and princesses of the great men in that country by their association with them, it is not decent even to mention further than this, that practising magic arts themselves, and being the objects of them when practised by others, they did not spare even the places of the greatest resort, but they became complete vagabonds, and the very scum of the streets, polluted with all sorts of abominations. Such and so great are the evils which seen to be engendered by flattery in the case of all people who admit from their own inclination and predisposition to be flattered."

[70.] G   And a little further Clearchus goes on as follows- "But still a man may have a right to find fault with that young man for the way in which he used those things, as I have said before. For his slaves stood in short tunics a little behind the couch: and as there are now three men on whose account all this discussion has been originated, and as all these men are men who have separate names among us, the one sat on the couch close to his feet, letting the feet of the young man rest upon his knees, and covering them with a thin cloth; [257] and what he did further is plain enough, even if I do not mention it. And this servant is called by the natives Parabystus ['stuffed in'], because he works his way into the company of those men even who do not willingly receive him, by the very skilful character of his flatteries. The second was one sitting on a certain chair which was placed close to the couch; and he, holding by the hand of the young man, as he let it almost drop and clinging to it, kept on rubbing it, and taking each of his fingers in turn be rubbed it and stretched it, so that the man appeared to have said a very witty thing who first gave that officer the name of Sicya ['cucumber']. The third, however, was the most noble of all, and was called Ther ['the wild beast'], who was indeed the principal of the whole body, and who stood at his master's head, and shared his linen pillows, lying upon them in a most friendly manner. And with his left hand be kept smoothing the hair of the young man, and with his right hand he kept moving up and down a Phocaean fan, so as to please him while waving it, without force enough to brush anything away. On which account, it appears to me, that some high-born god must have been angry with him and have sent a fly to attack the young man, a fly like that with whose audacity Homer says [ Il_17'570 ] that Athene inspired Menelaus, so vigorous and fearless was it in disposition.

"So when the young man was stung, this man uttered such a loud scream in his behalf and was so indignant, that on account of his hatred to one fly he banished the whole tribe of flies from his house: from which it is quite plain that he appointed this servant for this especial purpose."

[71.] G   But Leucon, the tyrant of Pontus, was a different kind of man, who when he knew that many of his friends had been plundered by one of the flatterers whom he had about him, perceiving that the man was calumniating some one of his remaining friends, said, "I swear by the gods that I would kill you if a tyrannical government did not stand in need of bad men." And Antiphanes the comic writer, in his Soldier, gives a similar account of the luxury of the kings in Cyprus. And he represents one of them as asking a soldier these questions -
  (A)   Tell me now, you had lived some time in Cyprus?
  Say you not so?
  (B)   Yes, all the time of the war.
  (A)   In what part most especially? tell me that.
  (B)   In Paphos, where you should have seen the luxury
  That did exist, or you could not believe it.
  (A)   What kind of luxury?
  (B)   The king was fanned
  While at his supper by young turtle-doves
  And by nought else.
  (A)   How mean you? never mind
  My own affairs, but let me ask you this.
  (B)   He was anointed with a luscious ointment
  Brought up from Syria, made of some rich fruit
  Which they do say doves love to feed upon.
  They were attracted by the scent and flew
  Around the royal temples: and had dared
  To seat themselves upon the monarch's head,
  But that the boys who sat around with sticks
  Did keep them at a slight and easy distance.
  And so they did not perch, but hovered round,
  Neither too far nor yet too near, still fluttering,
  So that they raised a gentle breeze to blow
  Not harshly on the forehead of the king.

[72.] G   [258] The flatterer (κόλαξ) of that young man whom we have been speaking of must have been a μαλακοκόλαξ (a soft flatterer), as Clearchus says. For besides flattering such a man as that, he invents a regular gait and dress harmonizing with that of those who receive the flattery, folding his arms and wrapping himself up in a small cloak; on which account some men call him Arm-crosser, and some call him a Repository of Attitudes. For really a flatterer does seem to be the very same person with Proteus himself. Accordingly he changes into nearly every sort of person, not only in form, but also in his discourse, so very varied in voice he is.

But Androcydes the physician said that flattery had its name (κολάκεια) from becoming glued (ἀπὸ τοῦ προσκολλᾶσθαι) to men's acquaintance. But it appears to me that they were named from their facility (εὐκολία); because a flatterer will undergo anything, like a person who stoops down to carry another on his back, by reason of his natural disposition, not being annoyed at anything, however disgraceful it may be.

And a man will not be much out who calls the life of that young Cyprian a wet one. And Alexis says that there were many tutors and teachers of that kind of life at Athens, speaking thus in his Pyraunus -
  I wished to try another style of life,
  Which all men are accustomed to call wet.
  So walking three days in the Cerameicus,
  I found it maybe thirty skilful teachers
  Of the aforesaid life, from one single school.

And Crobylus says in his Female Deserter -
  The wetness of your life amazes me,
  For men do call Intemperance now wetness.

[73.] G   And Antiphanes, in his Lemnian Women, lays it down that flattery is a kind of art, where he says -
  Is there, or can there be an art more pleasing,
  Or any source of gain more sure and gainful,
  Than well-judged flattery? Why does the painter
  Take so much pains and get so out of temper?
  Why does the farmer undergo such risks?
  Indeed all men are full of care and trouble.
  But life for us is full of fun and laughter.
  For where the greatest business is amusement,
  To laugh and joke and drink full cups of wine,
  Is not that pleasant? How can one deny?
  'Tis the next thing to being rich oneself.

But Menander, in his play called The Flatterer, has given us the character of one as carefully and faithfully as it is possible to manage it: as also Diphilus has of a parasite in his Telesias. And Alexis, in his Liar, has introduced a flatterer speaking in the following manner-
  By the Olympian Zeus and by Athene
  I am a happy man. And not alone
  Because I'm going to a wedding dinner,
  But because I shall burst, if it please god.
  And would that I might meet with such a death.

And it seems to me, my friends, that that fine epicure would not have scrupled to quote from the Omphale of Ion the tragedian, and to say -
  For I must speak of a yearly feast
  As if it came round every day.

[74.] G   But Hippias the Erythraean, in the second book of his Histories of his own Country, relating how the kingdom of Cnopus was subverted by the conduct of his flatterers, [259] says this- "When Cnopus consulted the oracle about his safety, the god, in his answer, enjoined him to sacrifice to the crafty Hermes. And when, after that, he went to Delphi, they who were anxious to put an end to his kingly power in order to establish an oligarchy instead of it, (and those who wished this were Ortyges, and Irus, and Echarus, who, because they were most conspicuous in paying court to the princes, were called adorers and flatters) they, I say, being on a voyage in company with Cnopus, when they were at a distance from land, bound Cnopus and threw him into the sea; and then they sailed to Chios, and getting a force from the tyrants there, Amphiclus and Polytecnus, they sailed by night to Erythrae, and just at the same time the corpse of Cnopus was washed up on the sea-shore at Erythrae, at a place which is now called Leopodum. And while Cleonice, the wife of Cnopus, was busied about the offices due to the corpse (and it was the time of the festival and assembly instituted in honour of Athene Strophaea), on a sudden there is heard the noise of a trumpet; and the city is taken by Ortyges and his troops, and many of the friends of Cnopus are put to death; and Cleonice, hearing what had happened, fled to Colophon.

[75.] G   "But Ortyges and his companions establishing themselves as tyrants, and having possessed themselves of the supreme power in Chios, destroyed all who opposed their proceedings, and they subverted the laws, and themselves managed the whole of the affairs of the state, admitting none of the popular party within the walls. And they established a court of justice outside the walls, before the gates; and there they tried all actions, sitting as judges, clothed in purple cloaks, and in tunics with purple borders, and they wore sandals with many slits in them during the hot weather; but in winter they always walked about in women's shoes; and they let their hair grow, and took great care of it so as to have ringlets dividing it on the top of their head with fillets of yellow and purple. And they wore ornaments of solid gold, like women, and they compelled some of the citizens to carry their litters, and some to act as lictors to them, and some to sweep the roads. And they sent for the sons of some of the citizens to their parties when they supped together; and some they ordered to bring their own wives and daughters within. And on those who disobeyed they inflicted the most extreme punishment. And if any one of their companions died, then collecting the citizens with their wives and children, they compelled them by violence to utter lamentations over the dead, and to beat their breasts, and to cry out shrilly and loudly with their voices, a man with a scourge standing over them, who compelled them to do so - until Hippotes, the brother of Cnopus, coming to Erythrae with an army at the time of a festival, the people of Erythrae assisting him, set upon the tyrants, and having punished a great many of their companions, slew Ortyges in his flight, and all who were with him, and treated their wives and children with the very extremity of ill-usage, and delivered his country."

[76.] G   Now from all this we may understand, my friends, of how many evils flattery is the cause in human life. For Theopompus, in the nineteenth book of his history of the Transactions of Philippus, says, "Agathocles was a slave, and one of the Penestae in Thessaly, [260] and as he had great influence with Philippus by reason of his flattery of him, and because he was constantly at his entertainments dancing and making him laugh, Philippus sent him to destroy the Perrhaebi, and to govern all that part of the country. And the Macedonian constantly had this kind of people about him, with whom he associated the greater part of his time, because of their fondness for drinking and buffoonery, and in their company he used to deliberate on the most important affairs." And Hegesander the Delphian gives a similar account of him, and relates how he sent a large sum of money to the men who are assembled at Athens at the temple of Heracles in Diomeia, and who say laughable things; and he ordered some men to write down all that was said by them, and to send it to him. And Theopompus, in the twenty-sixth book of his History, says that "Philippus knowing that the Thessalians were an intemperate race, and very profligate in their way of living, prepared some entertainments for them, and endeavoured in every possible manner to make himself agreeable to them. For he danced and revelled, and practised every kind of intemperance and debauchery. And he was by nature a buffoon, and got drunk every day, and he delighted in those occupations which are consistent with such practices, and with those who are called witty men, who say and do things to provoke laughter. And he attached numbers of the Thessalians who were intimate with him to himself, still more by his entertainments than by his presents." And Dionysius the Sicilian used to do very nearly the same thing, as Eubulus the comic poet tells us in his play entitled Dionysius; -
  But he is harsh and rigorous to the solemn,
  But most good-humoured to all flatterers,
  And all who jest with freedom. For he thinks
  Those men alone are free, though slaves they be.

[77.] G   And indeed Dionysius was not the only person who encouraged and received those who had squandered their estates on drunkenness and gambling and all such debauchery as that, for Philippus also did the same. And Theopompus speaks of such of them in the forty-ninth book of his History, where he writes as follows:- "Philippus kept at a distance all men who were well regulated in their conduct and who took care of their property; but the extravagant and those who lived in gambling and drunkenness he praised and honoured. And therefore he not only took care that they should always have such amusements, but he encouraged them to devote themselves to all sorts of injustice and debauchery besides. For what disgraceful or iniquitous practices were there to which these men were strangers, or what virtuous or respectable habits were there which they did not shun? Did they not at all times go about shaven and carefully made smooth, though they were men? And did not they endeavour to misuse one another though they had beards? And they used to go about attended by two or three lovers at a time; and they expected no complaisance from others which they were not prepared to exhibit themselves. On which account a man might very reasonably have thought them not ἑταῖροι but ἑταῖραι, and one might have called them not soldiers, but prostitutes. For though they were ἀνδροφόνοι by profession, they were ἀνδρόπορνοι by practice. And in addition to all this, instead of loving sobriety, they loved drunkenness; and instead of living respectably they sought every opportunity of robbing and murdering; and as for speaking the truth, and adhering to their agreements, [261] they thought that conduct quite inconsistent with their characters; but to perjure themselves and cheat, they thought the moat venerable behaviour possible. And they disregarded what they had, but they longed for what they had not; and this too, though a great part of Europe belonged to them. For I think that the companions of Philippus, who did not at that time amount to a greater number than eight hundred, had possession so far as to enjoy the fruits of more land than any ten thousand Greeks, who had the most fertile and large estates." And he makes a very similar statement about Dionysius, in his twenty-first book, when he says, "Dionysius the tyrant of Sicily encouraged above all others those who squandered their property in drunkenness and gambling and intemperance of that sort. For he wished every one to become ruined and ready for any iniquity, and all such people he treated with favour and distinction."

[78.] G   And Demetrius Poliorcetes was a man very fond of mirth, as Phylarchus relates in the tenth book of his History [ Fr_19 ]. But in the fourteenth book he writes as follows [ Fr_31 ]:- "Demetrius used to allow men to flatter him at his banquets, and to pour libations in his honour, calling him Demetrius the only king, and Ptolemaeus only the prefect of the fleet, and Lysimachus only a steward, and Seleucus only a superintendent of elephants, and in this way he incurred no small amount of hatred." And Herodotus states [ 2.173 ] that Amasis the king of the Egyptians was always a man full of tricks and one who was used to turn his fellow feasters into ridicule; and when he was a private man he says he was very fond of feasting and of jesting, and he was not at all a serious man. # And Nicolaus in the twenty-seventh book of his History, says that Sulla the Roman general was so fond of mimics and buffoons, being a man very much addicted to amusement, that he gave such men several portions of the public land. And the satyric comedies which he wrote himself in his native language, show of how merry and jovial a temperament he was in this way.

[79.] G   And Theophrastus, in his treatise on Comedy, tells us that the Tirynthians, being people addicted to amusement, and utterly useless for all serious business, betook themselves once to the oracle at Delphi in hopes to be relieved from some calamity or other. And that the god answered them, "That if they sacrificed a bull to Poseidon and threw it into the sea without once laughing, the evil would cease." And they, fearing lest they should make a blunder in obeying the oracle, forbade any of the boys to be present at the sacrifice; however, one boy, hearing of what was going to be done, mingled with the crowd, and then when they hooted him and drove him away, "Why," said he, "are you afraid lest I should spoil your sacrifice?" and when they laughed at this question of his, they perceived that the god meant to show them by a fact that an inveterate custom cannot be remedied. And Sosicrates, in the first book of his History of Crete, says that the people of Phaestus have a certain peculiarity, for that they seem to practise saying ridiculous things from their earliest childhood; on which account it has often happened to them to say very reasonable and witty things because of their early habituation: and therefore all the Cretans attribute to them pre-eminence in the accomplishment of raising a laugh.

[80.] G   But after flattery, Anaxandrides the comic poet gives the next place to ostentation in his Apothecary Prophet, speaking thus-
  Do you reproach me that I'm ostentatious?
  Why should you do so? for this quality
  Is far beyond all others, only flattery
  Excepted: that indeed is best of all.

And Antiphanes speaks of what he calls a ψωμοκόλαξ, a flatterer for morsels of bread, in his Gerytades, when he says -
  You are called a whisperer and ψωμοκόλαξ.

And Sannyrion says -
  What will become of you, you cursed ψωμοκόλακες.

[262] And Philemon says in his Woman made young again -
  The man is a ψωμοκόλαξ.

And Philippides says in his Renovation -
  Always contending and ψωμοκολακεύων.

But the word κόλαξ especially applies to these parasitical flatterers; for κόλον means food, from which come the words βουκόλος, and δύσκολος, which means difficult to be pleased and squeamish. And the word κοιλία means that part of the body which receives the food, that is to say, the stomach. Diphilus also uses the word ψωμοκόλαφος in his Theseus, saying -
  They call you a runaway ψωμοκόλαφος.

→ Following pages (262-275)

Attalus' home page   |   27.03.14   |   Any comments?