Extracts from Greek and Latin writers in translation


  1. Galen, three extracts
  2. Agatharchides, "On the Erythraean Sea"
  3. Augustus, on the funeral games of Julius Caesar
  4. Dio Cassius, additional fragments
  5. Stephanus of Byzantium, on cities called Alexandria
  6. P. Haun. 6, brief notes on the Ptolemaic Dynasty
  7. Zenobius, "Proverbs"
  8. Cassiodorus, "Chronica"
  9. Teles the Cynic, "Diatribes"
  10. Phlegon, "Mirabilia", chapter 3


Galen of Pergamum was a Greek medical writer who lived in the 2nd century A.D. He wrote a huge number of books, most of which have never been translated into English. The three passages translated here refer respectively to the method used by Archimedes to burn warships, the death of Cleopatra, and the collection of books for the library at Alexandria. The numbers in red are the volume and page numbers in Kühn's edition of the complete works of Galen, which contains 22 volumes.

[1.657] { De Temperamentis }   For in Mysia, which is in Asia, a building was once burnt down in the following manner. There was a pile of pigeon droppings, already rotting and growing warm and emitting steam; and it was fairly hot to hold. Near to this, and immediately touching it, was a window made of wood that had recently been wiped with a lot of resin. So in the middle of summer a fierce sun struck them, and set fire to the resin and the wood. Immediately from there the fire easily caught onto some doors that were nearby and some windows that had recently been wiped with resin; and the flames reached as far as the roof. Once the fire had taken hold of the roof, it soon spread throughout the whole building. I imagine that it was in a similar way that Archimedes, as they say, burnt the triremes of the enemy by means of (?) firesticks.

[14.235] { De Theriaca - translated by P.J.Jones }   Of the asps, the one called ptyas { "spitter" } extends its throat, estimates the length of the interval and then, like a rational being, the creature spits venom from its body with perfect aim. They say that it was by means of one of these creatures (for there are three kinds of asps, the one mentioned above, the one called chersaea, and the one known as chelidonia) that queen Cleopatra, wishing to foil her guards, died swiftly and without arousing suspicion. For Augustus, after conquering Antonius, wished to take her alive and wished very much to keep her alive, as is reasonable, so that he might exhibit to the Romans in his triumph so famous a woman. But she, they say, perceived this and, choosing to leave the human race still a queen rather than to appear before the Romans as a private citizen, engineered her own death by this beast. And they say that she called her two most trustworthy maids to her - they were the ones who attended to her toilette and cared for her body; their names were Naeira and Carmione. 236 The one arranged her hair becomingly and the other dexterously trimmed the tips of her nails. Then Cleopatra ordered the creature brought in hidden among grapes and figs, so that, as I have said, she might elude the guards. She tried this method beforehand on these women to determine whether it could cause death quickly, and after they perished swiftly, she turned it upon herself, and they say that, on this account, Augustus was greatly amazed, in part because of the affection these women had to die with their queen, and in part because she did not wish to live in slavery, but preferred to die nobly. Indeed, they say that her right hand was found resting on her head, holding her crown, as was appropriate, so that she might appear to those who saw her to be a queen even in death. Just so, the tragic poet tells us, Polyxena, although she was dying, nevertheless had the foresight to fall with grace. Those who wish to explain to us the woman’s skill in deception and creature’s speed in killing say that 237 she wounded her own arm with a deep bite and poured into the wound venom brought to her in a container. Not long after receiving this aid, she foiled the guards and died contentedly.

But let this tale be told not only for pleasure, because you are interested in every topic, but also so that we understand how quickly these creatures can kill, for they are truly swift in taking a life. Often in great Alexandria I have seen the speed with which death results from their bite. For when someone is sentenced to punishment under the law and must be executed quickly and humanely, they put a snake on his chest and make him walk around a little, thus swiftly removing the man from their midst.

[17a.605] { Commentary on Hippocrates' Epidemics }   What I am about to say has been said previously by Zeuxis in the first volume of his commentary on the present book [the third book of Hippocrates' Epidemics]; and perhaps it would have been better for me, as I usually do in such cases, to refer those who want to know the [full] story to that book. But since Zeuxis' commentary is no longer respected, and has become difficult to find, therefore they asked me 606 to tell the story, beginning with Mnemon.

Some say that Mnemon took the third book of the Epidemics out of the great library at Alexandria, as if he intended to read it, and then put it back after inserting these characters in it, in the same ink and similar handwriting. Others say that he brought the book [to Alexandria] from Pamphylia. Ptolemy the king of Egypt was so eager to collect books, that he ordered the books of everyone who sailed there to be brought to him. The books were then copied into new manuscripts. He gave the new copy to the owners, whose books had been brought to him after they sailed there, but he put the original copy in the library with the inscription "a [book] from the ships". They say that a copy of the third book of the Epidemics has been found with the inscription, "a [book] from the ships, as emended by Mnemon of Sidē". Some claim that the inscription does not say "as emended", but simply gives the name of Mnemon; because when books were taken from all the others who sailed there, 607 the servants of the king wrote down their names in the copies that were deposited in the storehouses (the servants did not place the books in the library immediately, but first they stored them away in piles in some other buildings).

This Ptolemy is said to have given sufficient proof of his eagerness to collect old books, by his behaviour towards the Athenians. After giving them fifteen talents of silver as a surety, he received from them the manuscripts of Sophocles and Euripides and Aeschylus, on the understanding that he would simply make new copies from the manuscripts, and then promptly return them intact. But after he had produced magnificent new copies on the finest writing material, he kept the books that the Athenians had sent to him, and sent back to them the copies that he had made. He urged them to keep the fifteen talents, and at the same time to receive new copies instead of the old books that they had sent to him. The Athenians would have had no other option, even if he had kept the old books without sending new copies to them, because when they accepted the money, they had agreed that if he kept the books, then they would keep the money; and so they accepted the new copies and kept the money.

608 But Mnemon - whether he brought the book himself, or took it out of the library and interpolated the characters - seems to have done this as a subterfuge . . .


Agatharchides, who lived in Egypt in the second century B.C., wrote several books of history, all of which have been lost. However, considerable portions of his "On the Erythraean Sea" have been preserved by the Byzantine scholar Photius. The three short passages shown here describe the attempts of the Egyptian king Ptolemy II to expand his influence in the south around the coasts of the Red Sea. The men and animals captured during these expeditions were paraded in Alexandria in about 271 B.C. (Athenaeus, 5.200-201).

All the surviving fragments of "On the Erythraean Sea", including a detailed and interesting account of the inhabitants of Ethiopia, have been translated by S.M.Burstein (Hakluyt Society, 1989).

[1]   [Agatharchides] says that Ptolemy, the successor of the son of Lagus, was the first to organise the hunting of elephants as well as other similar activities. Animals which had been separated by Nature he brought together to live in one place.

[20]   For the war against the Ethiopians Ptolemy recruited 500 cavalrymen from Greece. To those who were to fight in the front ranks and to be in the vanguard - they were a hundred in number - he assigned the following form of equipment. For he distributed to them and their horses quilted robes, which the natives of that county call kasai, that conceal the whole body except for the eyes.

[57]   Ptolemy, the king of Egypt, urged these hunters [ the "elephant fighters" - Diod_3.26-27 ] to refrain from slaughtering the beasts in order that he might have them alive. Although he promised them many wondrous things, he not only did not persuade them but he heard that their reply was that they would not exchange his whole kingdom for their present way of life.


Two of the surviving fragments from the Memoirs of Augustus [Commentarii de vita sua] refer to the appearance of a comet at the funeral games for his adoptive father Julius Caesar, which were held in 44 B.C. Augustus clearly attached great importance to the appearance of the comet, as proof of the divine status of his adoptive father, and the episode is also described in the Metamorphoses of Ovid, right at the end of the poem [ 15'746-851 ], as the prelude to the glorious reign of Augustus.

One of the passages about the comet (Fr_6) was quoted by Pliny the Elder [ HN_2'23(93) ] and the other passage (Fr_7), which was quoted by a commentator on Vergilius known as "Servius Auctus", is translated here. The translation is based on the Latin text in "Imp. Augusti Operum Fragmenta", edited by H.Malcovati (1948).

[7] When Augustus Caesar was holding the funeral games for his father, a star appeared in the middle of the day, and Augustus declared that it was [the star] of his father. Baebius Macer said that a large star rose up in about the eighth hour of the day, and it was crowned with rays, like (?) ribbons. Some people thought that the star was an omen foretelling the [future] glory of the young Caesar but Caesar himself interpreted it as the soul of his father, and he placed a statue of him on the Capitol, with a golden crown on his head and this inscription on the base: Καίσαρι ἡμιθέῳ ["to Caesar the demi-god"]. Vulcatius the haruspex said in an assembly that it was a comet, which portended the end of the ninth saeculum and the start of the tenth saeculum. But because he had revealed this secret against the will of the gods, he would die immediately; and he collapsed in the midst of the assembly, before he had completed his speech. This is mentioned by Augustus in the second book of his Memoirs about his life.

[16] Augustus in the Memoirs of his Life relates that Antonius ordered his legions to watch over Cleopatra and to obey her nod and her command.


A translation of Dio's Roman History is available on the Lacus Curtius website. A few additional fragments are shown here. Modern scholars have allocated them to book 12 of the history.

[45]   After Claudius had made terms with the Corsicans, and the Romans had then waged war upon them and subdued them, they first sent Claudius to them, offering to surrender him, on the ground that the fault in breaking the compact lay with him and not with themselves; and when the Corsicans refused to receive him, they drove him into exile.

[46]   The Romans, after exacting more money from the Carthaginians, renewed the truce. At first, however, upon the arrival of the embassy which the latter had sent because they realized their foes' state of preparedness and also because they themselves were still occupied at that time with the war against the neighbouring tribes, they had given them no mild answer. Afterwards Hanno, a man of youthful years who used striking frankness of speech, was sent. He spoke his mind unreservedly on a number of matters, and finally exclaimed: "If you do not wish to be at peace, restore to us both Sardinia and Sicily; for with these we purchased not a temporary truce, but eternal friendship." Thus shamed, they not only became milder . . .
2 . . . and the others, lest they might in turn suffer the same injuries; so that they were very glad to delay, the one side choosing to preserve the prosperity inherited from the past, and the other to hold on at least to what it had. So far as their threats went, they were no longer keeping the peace, but when it came to deeds they still continued to deliberate about it, so that it became clear to all that whichever of the two nations first found it to its advantage to make a move would likewise be the one to begin the war. Indeed, most men abide by their compacts just so long as suits their own convenience; but in the interest of some greater advantage to themselves, they deem it safe even to break a truce.

[48]   On one occasion they sent envoys to investigate [the movements of Hamilcar, in the consulship of Marcus Pomponius and] Gaius Papirius, in spite of the fact that they had no interests in Spain as yet. Hamilcar showed them all due honour and offered them plausible explanations, declaring, among other things, that he was obliged to fight against the Spaniards in order that the money which was still owing to the Romans might be paid; for it was impossible to obtain it from any other source. The envoys were consequently embarrassed to know how to censure him.

[49]   The island of Issa surrendered itself voluntarily to the Romans. This was the first time the islanders were to make their acquaintance, but they regarded them as more friendly than those whom they had now come to dread. They reasoned that more reliance was to be placed on the unknown than on the known; for while the one, because of actual experience had with it, inspired resentment, the other, because of their anticipations, inspired good hope.

2 When the Issaeans had attached themselves to the Romans, the latter, desiring to show them some prompt and ready favour in return, so as to get the reputation of aiding such as joined their cause, and also to punish the Ardiaeans, who were annoying those who sailed from Brundisium, sent envoys to Agron, to ask for clemency for the Issaeans and at the same time to censure the king for wronging them without cause. Now these men found Agron no longer alive; he had died, leaving behind a child named Pinnes. Teuta, the wife of Agron and stepmother of Pinnes, was ruling the Ardiaeans, . . . as a result of her boldness, she gave them no respectful reply, but, woman-like, in addition to her innate recklessness, she was puffed up with vanity because of the power that she possessed; and she accordingly cast some of the ambassadors into prison and killed others for expressing themselves freely. 4 Such was her action at that time, and she actually took pride in it as if she had displayed some strength by her facile cruelty. In a very short time, however, she demonstrated the weakness of the female sex, which quickly flies into a passion through lack of judgment, and quickly becomes terrified through cowardice. 5 For just as soon as she learned that the Romans had voted for war against her she became panic-stricken, and promised to restore their men whom she held, while she tried to defend herself in the matter of the death of the others, declaring that they had been slain by some robbers. When the Romans for this reason stopped their campaign and demanded the surrender of the murderers, she once more showed her contempt, because the danger was not yet at her doors, and declaring she would not give up anybody, despatched an army against Issa. 6   But when she learned that the consuls were at hand, she grew terrified again, abated her high spirit, and became ready to heed them in everything whatsoever. She had not yet, however, been brought fully to her senses, for when the consuls had crossed over to Corcyra, she felt imbued with new courage, revolted and despatched an army against Epidamnus and Apollonia. But after the Romans had rescued the cities and had captured ships of hers laden with treasure, she was again on the point of yielding obedience. 7 Meanwhile they mounted to a high place above the sea, and were defeated near the Atyrian hill ; and she now waited, hoping for their withdrawal, in view of the fact that it was already winter. But on perceiving that Albinus remained where he was and that Demetrius, as a result of her caprice, as well as from fear of the Romans, had transferred his allegiance, besides persuading some others to desert, she became utterly terrified and gave up her power.

[50]   The Romans were alarmed over an oracle of the Sibyl which told them that they must beware of the Gauls when a thunderbolt should fall upon the Capitol near the temple of Apollo.

2   The Gauls became dejected on seeing that the Romans had already seized the most favourable positions. For all men, if they obtain the object of their first aim, proceed more readily toward their subsequent goals, and likewise if they fail of it, lose interest in everything else. Those of the Gallic race, however, rather more than the rest of mankind, seize very eagerly upon what they desire, and cling most tenaciously to their successes, but if they meet with the slightest obstacle, have no hope at all left for the future. In their folly they are ready to expect whatsoever they wish, and in their ardour are ready to carry out whatsoever they undertake. 3 They are men of ungoverned passion and uncontrolled impulse, and for that reason they have in these qualities no element of endurance, since it is impossible for reckless audacity to prevail for any time ; and if once they suffer a setback, they are unable, especially if any fear also be present, to recover themselves, and are plunged into a state of panic corresponding to their previous fearless daring. In brief time they rush abruptly to the very opposite extremes, since they can furnish no sound motive based on reason for either course.

4   Aemilius on conquering the Insubres celebrated a triumph, and in it conveyed the foremost captives clad in armour up to the Capitol, making jests at their expense because he had heard that they had sworn not to remove their breastplates until they had mounted to the Capitol.

[51]   If any of the details, even the smallest, that were customary in festivals had been omitted, the ceremonies were always performed a second or a third time, and even oftener still, so far as was possible in one day, until everything seemed to have been done faultlessly.

[53]   Demetrius, encouraged by his position as guardian of Pinnes and by the fact that he had married the latter's mother Triteuta after Teuta's death, was not only proving oppressive to the natives, but was also ravaging the territory of the neighbouring tribes. So as soon as they [the consuls] heard of this, they summoned him before them, since it appeared that it was by abusing the friendship of the Romans that he was able to wrong those peoples. When he paid no heed, but actually proceeded to assail their allies, they made a campaign against him in Issa.


Stephanus wrote a gazeteer of place names in the 6th century A.D. For an analysis of his list of cities called Alexandria, see W.W.Tarn, "Alexander the Great", vol. 2, pp. 241-242 { Google Books }; and P.M.Fraser, "Cities of Alexander the Great", Chapter 1 { Google Books }.

[70]   Alexandria { Alexandreia } - eighteen cities.

  1. The Egyptian, or Libyan, as most writers say, named from Alexander son of Philippus. Jason, who wrote 'The Life of Greece', says in book 4: "The site of the city was revealed to him in a dream, as follows:-
        Now there is an island in the stormy sea
        Close by Egypt, and they call it Pharos   { Homer, Od. 4.354 }
    He ordered the architects to mark out the outline of the city; because they did not have any chalk, they marked it out with barley-seed, but some birds suddenly flew down and snatched the barley-seed. Alexander was alarmed by this, but the soothsayers told him to take heart; for the city was destined to give sustenance to everyone." Arrianus says the same thing. It was called Rhacotis and Pharos and Leontopolis, because the stomach of Olympias was sealed with the image of a lion { this refers to the story in the Alexander Romance }. It was called simply polis, "the city", because of its pre-eminence, and its citizens were called politai; just as Athens was called astu   [71] and the Athenians were called astoi or astikoi [as also in Rome is it called urbs]. In Roman times the city was called Sebastē and Julia and Claudia and Domitiana and Alexenteria. The settlement is thirty-four stades in length, and eight stades in width; and the whole perimeter of the city is a hundred and ten stades.

  2. The city of Troy, in which was born the epic poet Hegemon, who wrote about the war of Leuctra between the Thebans and the Lacedaemonians. Demosthenes mentions this city in the fourth book of his 'Bithyniaca'.

  3. A city in Thrace near Macedonia, which Alexander founded before the great Alexandria, when he was seventeen years old.

  4. A city of the Oritae, a tribe of Fish-Eaters { Ichthyophagi }, on the coasting voyage to India.

  5. A city in Opianē, in India.

  6. Another city in India.

  7. Among the Arians, a tribe of Parthians in India.

  8. In Cilicia.

  9. In Cyprus.

  10. By Mount Latmus in Caria, where this is a shrine of Adonis, which has a statue of Aphrodite by Praxiteles.

  11. In Bactria.

  12. Amongst the Arachoti.

  13. In Maracenē, by the river Maxates.

  14. Near the Soriani, an Indian tribe.

  15. Near the Arachoti, on the border with India.

  16. On the Black Gulf { Melas Kolpos }.

  17. In Sogdiana, near Parapamisidae.

  18. A foundation of Alexander on the river Tanais, as Ptolemy explains in his third book.

There is also a place called Alexandria on Mount Ida near Troy, where they say that Paris judged the goddesses, according to Timosthenes.

The ethnic adjective is Alexandreus, from the genitive case of Alexander. The feminine form, just as Sinōpis is from Sinōpeus, is Alexandris . . .

6. P.Haun. 6 -   Brief Notes on the History of the Ptolemaic Dynasty

This curious document has been preserved on some scraps of papyrus, written in Egypt in the second century A.D., and now kept in Copenhagen (Papyri Haunienses).

F.W.Walbank described the contents as follows: "[it contains], it would appear (for the document is hard to decipher) six short résumés of incidents of Ptolemaic history during the period of the Third and Fourth Syrian Wars . . . This short document may be a scrap from a set of notes taken by someone reading a historical work. The divergent views about its contents reflect the dearth of reliable information available from this period of Ptolemaic history" (CAH, 7.1, p.17).

Lines 14-22 clearly refer to Ptolemy III Euergetes. Some helpful summaries of the discussions concerning two other men who are mentioned here, Ptolemy Andromachou and Magas, can be found on Chris Bennett's Ptolemaic Dynasty website.

In view of the uncertainty surrounding the meaning of much of the document, the English translation is shown interleaved with the Greek letters that can be read on the papyrus. It can be assumed that most of the lines in the Greek text have some letters missing at the beginning and the end; and some shorter fragments, which cannot be meaningfully translated, have been omitted. The Greek text is taken from A.Bulöw-Jacobsen, "P. Haun. 6 : An Inspection of the Original" (ZPE, 1979), but the translation includes some conjectures made by other scholars.



ικλησιν ἀνδρομαχου

called Andromachou {of Andromachus}


(?) 5

πτολεμαι(ος)   οὑτο
Ptolemaeus This
[5] ἐπικλησιν και
called and
ἀνδρομα (και) δι.....σασευρα
Androma- and
χου αἱρει (και) αἰνον (και) πολλα
chou he captures (?) both Aenus and many
επ?ει (και) ναυμαχησας ἀπελ
. . . and having fought a sea-battle
αυτον ἀνδρον
. . . (?) Andros
[10]   ων
. . .
καταστασιασθεις ὑπο των
overcome in a sedition by the
ἐν ἐφεσωι κατεσφαγη δα
he was slaughtered in Ephesus
ἐπιβουλην συσταμεν
hatching a plot


υφρατου .


[15]   ον και εἰ μη τοτε αἰγυπτιων ἀπος

and if a revolt of the Egyptians had not then

υπτον παλιν ἐπιστηι σελευκο

[? to] Egypt again set Seleucus

φρουραις καταλαβων ἐπανηλθεν εἰς ἀλεξα

after securing with garrisons, he returned to Alexandria

συνεμαχησεν αἰτολοις εἰς τον προς ἀντιγο

he fought as an ally of the Aetolians in the [war] against Antigonus

υἱον μεταποιησο(μενον) (των) (περι) την ἀσιαν πραγμ

his son having laid claim to the affairs of Asia

[20]   την γυναικα ἐζη οἱ ὑποκειμενοι π..ιδ..ς

his wife [he] was living, the underlying . . .

σος αὐτου ἐν τωι σαραπειωι ἐστηκεν σκευ

[a colossal statue] of him stood in the Sarapeium, [wonderfully] fashioned

αι δε ἰπι ἀρχοντος ἀθηνησιν εὐξεινου

[he died] when Euxeinus was archon at Athens


παμας..οι...αλειτο δε βερενικ

(?) of Apama . . . but (?) was called Berenice

φος πτολεμαιος γυναι(κα)

. . . Ptolemy     his wife

[25]   την ἐν συρια .

the [? woman] in Syria

ἠνμεθη μαχη

. . .   battle

ἐθηοι ἀγαθο

. . .   good




υτον ὁ πατηρ ζων ἐτι (μετα) το σελευκον ατι

his father, while he was still alive, after the [death] of Seleucus

[30]   ωδυν.... ἐπεμψεν εἰς ἀσιαν ἐπιθησαμ

sent this man to Asia attacking

ἐπρα..... ἀποθανοντος δε του πατ

. . . after the death of his father

λεν αὐτον .αἰτωλος θεοδοτος ἐν βαλαν

Theodotus the Aetolian [murdered] him in the bath

πτολεμαι. δεισας μη ὑπ' αὐτου κρατυνθ

Ptolemy, fearing that he might be overcome by him,

μετεποιειτο ἀνδραγαθημ

pretended a brave deed

[35]   . . .

7. ZENOBIUS, "Proverbs"

Zenobius, who lived in the 2nd century A.D., is the author of a collection of Greek proverbs. He sometimes included examples from history to illustrate the proverbs. The two extracts here refer to the murder of the mother and brother of Ptolemy IV Philopator, when he became king of Egypt (222/1 B.C.).

In the first example, Ptolemy seems to anticipating the behaviour of the emperor Nero towards his mother Agrippina ( Tac:Ann_14'3 ). The reference to Antigonus and Semele is puzzling; perhaps this is a very garbled reminiscence of how Antigonus I treated his rival Eumenes ( Plut:Eum_19 ). The context of the second example has been confirmed by the discovery of PHaun_6 ( lines 31-32, translated above ).

[3.94]   "The murderer is kind" ( εὔνους ὁ σφάκτης ) : this proverb is drawn from Orestes, as Homer ( Od_3'309 ) made clear; for after killing his mother, he held a funeral feast. It also applies to king Antigonus, who after killing Semele, very courteously sent her bones to her mother. It applies even more to Ptolemy Philopator: for he confined his mother Berenice in a chamber, and handed her over to Sosibius to guard. When she, not being able to endure the punishment, drank a deadly herb and died from drinking the poison, he was so troubled in his dreams by her death that in the middle of the city he built a memorial to her, which is now called the Tomb ( Sema ); and he placed the remains of her and all his ancestors in there, along with Alexander the Great; and on the sea-shore they constructed a shrine to her, which they called the shrine of Berenice who saves.

[4.92]   "May you bathe like Pelias" ( λούσαιο τὸν Πελίαν ) : this proverb is drawn from what happened to Pelias, who was put in a boiling cauldron by his daughters . . . Many other men have met misfortune while bathing. Theogus fatally scalded Magas, the brother of Philopator, in his bath, by pouring a cauldron of boiling water over him.

8. CASSIODORUS, "Chronica"

Cassiodorus wrote a brief chronicle of Roman history down to 519 A.D. These excerpts from it are sometimes included in the fragments of Livy. The numbers in red are dates AUC .

[515] L   C. Manlius { Mamilius } and Q.Valerius.   In the year of these consuls, a tragedy and comedy were first staged at the Ludi Romani by Lucius Livius.

[524] L   M. Aemilius and M. Junius.   In the year of these consuls, Hamilcar the father of Hannibal was killed in Spain while preparing for war with the Romans. He was accustomed to say that he was rearing his four sons like {lion} cubs against the Romans.

[534] L   L. Veturius and C. Lutatius.   In the year of these consuls, the Via Flaminia was paved and the so-called Circus Flaminius was constructed.

[596] L   M. Aemilius and C. Popillius.   In the year of these consuls, mines were established in Macedonia.

[601] L   Q. Fulvius and P. Annius.   These were the first consuls to enter office on the kalends of January, because of the sudden war in Celtiberia.

[619] L   Ser. Fulvius and Q. Calpurnius.   In the year of these consuls, Aemilianus Scipio was elected consul, although he was not a candidate, on account of the Numantine War.

[632] L   Cn. Domitius and C. Fannius.   In the year of these consuls, C. Sextius built a town, at the site of Aquae Sextiae, in Gaul.

[639] L   M. Metellus and M. Scaurus.   In the year of these consuls, the censors L. Metellus and Cn. Domitius removed all theatrical performances from the city {of Rome}, except for Latin flute-players accompanying a singer and Atellan plays.

[648] L   Q. Servilius and C. Atilius Serranus.   In the year of these consuls, at the instigation of the consul Servilius Caepio, juries were shared between the equites and the senators.

[658] L   Cn. Domitius and C. Cassius.   In the year of these consuls, Ptolemy the king of Egypt left the Roman people as his heir.

[670] L   L. Cinna (IV) and Cn. Papirius (II).   In the year of these consuls, Sulla organised Asia into 44 regions.

[671] L   L. Scipio and C. Norbanus.   In the year of these consuls, the Capitol was burnt down through the negligence of its guards.

[685] L   Q. Metellus and Q. Hortensius.   In the year of these consuls, the Capitol was restored and dedicated by Q. Catulus.

[693] L   M. Pupius and M. Valerius.   In the year of these consuls, Catilina was killed in a battle in the territory of Pistoria by C. Antonius.

[696] L   L. Piso and A. Gabinius.   In the year of these consuls, Cicero was forced into exile by a motion proposed by Clodius.

[697] L   P. Lentulus and Q. Metellus.   In the year of these consuls, on account of civil dissension, Cicero was recalled from exile by a resolution of the senate.

[705] L   L. Lentulus and C. Marcellus.   In the year of these consuls, dangerous disputes flared up in the senate-house between Pompeius and Caesar.

[707] L   Q. Fusius and P. Vaticanus.   In the year of these consuls, Caesar defeated Pompeius at the battle of Pharsalus. Pompeius fled to Egypt, where he was killed.

[709] L   C. Julius Caesar (IV) and Fabius Maximus.   In the year of these consuls, C. Julius Caesar celebrated a triumph throughout four days.

[710] L   C. Julius Caesar (V) and M. Antonius.   In the year of these consuls, M. Antonius placed a diadem on the head of Caesar, who was sitting on a golden throne at the Lupercalia, although Caesar refused it. On the Ides of March, Caesar was killed in the Curia Pompeia.

[711] L   C. Pansa and A. Hirtius.   In the year of these consuls, Caesar Octavianus, Antonius and Lepidus entered into a pact of alliance. M. Cicero was killed at Caieta by a soldier called Popilius, when he was 63 years old. Caesar Octavianus constructed the Forum of Augustus.

[717] L   M. Agrippa and L. Caninius.   In the year of these consuls, the Lucrine Lake was converted into a port.

[723] L   C. Caesar (II) and M. Messala.   In the year of these consuls, M. Antonius was defeated by Caesar at Actium.

[724] L   C. Caesar (III) and M. Crassus.   In the year of these consuls, Caesar constructed Nicopolis and established the Ludi Actiaci. Antonius was killed in battle at Alexandria by Caesar, and was buried in a mausoleum with Cleopatra.

[726] L   C. Caesar (V) and M. Agrippa (II.)   In the year of these consuls, the conflicts amongst the Parthians were settled by Caesar.

[727] L   C. Caesar (VI) and M. Agrippa (III).   Caesar published laws, appointed judges, organised the provinces, and therefore he was given the surname Augustus.

[729] L   C. Augustus Caesar (VIII) and M. Silanus.   In the year of these consuls, Caesar conquered the Cantabri, Germans, and Salassi.

[730] L   C. Augustus Caesar (IX) and C. Norbanus.   In the year of these consuls, the Astures and Cantabri were conquered by Lucius Lamia.

[734] L   M. Apuleius and P. Silius.   In the year of these consuls, Caesar recovered the eagles and standards of Crassus from the Parthians.

[735] L   C. Sentius and Q. Lucretius.   In the year of these consuls, a chariot with a crown of gold was decreed for Caesar on his return from the provinces; but he refused to ride on it.

[745] L   Drusus Nero and L. Quintius.   In the year of these consuls, Drusus consecrated a temple to Caesar in the territory of the tribe of Lingones.

9. TELES THE CYNIC, Excerpts from Diatribes

Teles wrote shortly after the middle of the third century B.C., as is shown by the reference to two of his contemporaries in the second extract translated here: Chremonides went into exile after the fall of Athens in 261 B.C., and Hippomedon, who was an associate of the Spartan king Agis IV ( Plut:Agis_6'5 ), probably went into exile after the death of Agis in 241 B.C. The writings of Teles have not survived intact, but eight excerpts from them were included in the "Anthology" of Stobaeus. Although it is generally agreed that Teles had little talent either as a writer or a philosopher, he has preserved some valuable information about his contemporaries and earlier Cynic philosophers. A few paragraphs are translated here; a good translation of all the surviving excerpts can be found in R.Dobbin, "The Cynic Philosophers", p.110. The numbers in red are the page numbers in the edition by O.Hense; the Greek text of the excerpts is available elsewhere on this website.


[12] G   Remember what Diogenes did when someone told him that Athens was an expensive city. He took the man [13] to a perfumer's shop and asked the price of a cotyla of henna oil. "A mina," replied the perfumer. He exclaimed, "This city really is expensive." Then Diogenes took him to a cook shop and asked the price of a pig's trotters. "Three drachmae," was the reply. He cried out, "This city really is expensive." Then Diogenes took him to a fine wool shop and asked the price of a sheep. "A mina," was the reply. He cried out, "This city really is expensive."   "Come on then," said Diogenes; he took him to the lupin-market and asked the price of a choenix. "A chalcus," was the reply. Diogenes exclaimed, "This city really is cheap." And then they went for dried figs - "two chalci;" and for myrtle - "two chalci." Diogenes cried out, "This city really is cheap." Therefore, in the same way as the city is expensive or cheap only in relation to our habits, so our life, depending on how we deal with our circumstances, can seem either simple and easy or exceedingly difficult.


[22] G   The famous Themistocles once said, "My son, we would have been ruined if we had not been ruined {exiled}." [23] Now there are many similar examples. What good things does exile take away from us, or what evil does it cause? I cannot see any such thing; but we are often the cause of our own ruin, both when we are in exile and when we remain in our homeland. Others say that exiles do not rule, they are not trusted and they do not have freedom of speech. Yet some exiles guard cities for the kings, some of them are trusted to govern whole nations, and they receive large gifts and pensions. Was not Lycinus made our garrison commander, who was trusted to do this by Antigonus although he was an exile from Italy? We had to do what Lycinus ordered, although we were living in our own homeland. Hippomedon of Lacedaemon has now been appointed by Ptolemy to govern Thrace, and Chremonides and Glaucon of Athens are his counsellors and advisers - for I am not telling you ancient history, but things that have happened in our lifetime. And lastly, was not he {? Chremonides} sent on an important mission and trusted with a large amount of money, which he had the power to use as he wished?

* * *

[25] G   It is certainly not a misfortune or a reproach for me, if I will not remain with wrong-doers. Is that a reproach for me, rather than for those who force me out, although I behave in a reasonable and upright manner? Philemon expressed it well; for once, after he had been brought to trial and successfully acquitted, someone he met said, "You have been fortunate, Philemon." But he replied, "That is what you think, from seeing this one case; but I always do what is good."


[38] G   In the same way that, when a king has put his seal on belongings, it is not permitted to touch them, so some people's servility and despondency puts a seal on their belongings, and does not permit them to touch them; instead they go short and are in need, because they crave for many things but are incapable of using them. Therefore Crates, when someone asked him, "What benefit will I get from being a philosopher?", replied, "You can easily open your pouch, take out the contents with your hand and give them away freely - not as you do now, turning and hesitating and trembling, as if your hands were paralysed. That is how you will regard it if it is full; and if you see that it is empty, you will not be upset. If you choose to use the contents, you can do so easily, and if you do not have anything left, you will not feel the lack of it. You will remain satisfied with what is available, not craving for what you do not have or complaining about your circumstances."

* * *

[39] G   Therefore, if you want to free your son from need and poverty, do not send him to Ptolemy [40] to acquire money: he will only become arrogant when he returns, and you will have achieved nothing. Instead, send him to Crates, who knows how to take grasping and extravagant men, and make them liberal and unaffected. The famous Metrocles said, apparently, that when he attended the school of Theophrastus and Xenocrates, although many provisions were sent to him from home, he still was afraid that he might die of hunger, and he was constantly in need and poverty; but later, when he moved to Crates, he could feed himself and another, without receiving any provisions. Previously it was absolutely essential for him to have smart sandals, a shawl, a retinue of slaves, and a large house, and for shared meals he needed fine bread, exquisite relishes, agreeable wine and fitting entertainment - [41] G   (?) in a lavish manner; for they considered that this mode of life befitted a liberal man. But when he moved over to Crates, he kept none of this; he became simpler in his manners, and was content with an old cloak and barley-cake and vegetables; he did not miss his former manner of life, and was not vexed by his new circumstances. When it becomes cold, we look for a thicker coat, but he folded his old cloak in two, and went around as if he had two cloaks. If he needed to rub himself with oil, he went to the baths, and rubbed himself with the lumps of oil left there. Sometimes he walked to the furnaces in the forges; there he fried some sprats, covered them with a little oil and sat down to have his lunch. In the summer he slept in the temples, and in the winter he slept in the baths. He did not go short or live in need as he had done previously, but he was satisfied with what he had and felt no desire to have servants. For it would be strange, as Diogenes says, if Manes {his slave} could live without Diogenes, but Diogenes could not be happy without Manes. If you have made your son arrogant, extravagant, superstitious, attention-seeking [42] and insatiable, you will achieve nothing by giving him more money; for as Philemon aptly says, "You will get more wealth, but not a different way of life."


[46] G   Do you not see that rich men are too busy to devote themselves to study, but the poor man with little to do is open to philosophy? Zenon says that Crates was once sitting in a shoemaker's shop reading the 'Protrepticus' of Aristotle, which is addressed to Themison, the king of the Cypriots. In it, Aristotle says that no-one has more advantages than the king when it comes to studying philosophy; he has plenty of money to spend on it, and he already has a good reputation. Zenon says that while he was reading this, the shoemaker was busy sewing but kept on listening to the book. Then Crates said, "I think I will write my own 'Protrepticus' addressed to you, Philiscus; because I see that you are more inclined to studying philosophy than the man to whom Aristotle wrote."

* * *

[47] G   But they still regard themselves as unlucky, because they are poor. They say that cities accord more honour to rich men than to poor men. They seem not to have heard of Aristeides, who was the poorest of all [48] the Athenians, but was held in the highest honour. When the Athenians wanted to assess the tribute to be paid by the cities, they appointed Aristeides to do it, because they thought that he would assess it more justly than anyone else. Callias, the wealthiest of the Athenians, was more eager to be seen as an associate of Aristeides than Aristeides was of Callias, and Aristeides was much more ashamed to be associated with the wealth of Callias than Callias was with the poverty of Aristeides. And again, who was more celebrated than Lysander the Spartan, and rewarded with more honours? And yet he could not afford to give a dowry for his daughters. And one could give as many other examples as you wish, of men who although they were poor were held in greater honour than the wealthy. I consider that Euripides { Supp_874 } very reasonably praised Eteoclus because, although he was an impoverished young man, "yet he held the greatest honours in the city of the Argives."


[57] G   Everyone admires the Laconian women for their courage. One, when she heard that her son had saved himself by fleeing from the enemy, wrote to him in very different terms from an Attic woman, who on hearing [58] that her son had been saved, would have written, "Well done, son, because you have saved yourself for me." But the Laconian woman wrote, "A bad rumour has spread around about you; therefore, either wipe away your bad reputation or do not come into my presence;" - in other words, "Go hang." And again, another Laconian woman, when a messenger told her that her son had died in battle, asked how he had behaved, and was told, "like a good man, mother."   "Well done, my son," said the woman, "that is why I gave birth to you, so that you could be useful and helpful to Sparta." She did not wail or complain, but when she heard that her son had died bravely, she congratulated him. And again, how nobly another Laconian woman acted. When her sons fled from battle and came to her, she said, "Why have you come running to me? Is it because you want to go back in where you came from?" At this, she lifted up her clothes and exposed herself to them. Would any woman in our country act like that? [59] G   No, she would be pleased to see her sons saved. But the Laconian women were not pleased by this. They preferred to hear that their sons had died bravely; and so the Spartans composed this epitaph:
  " . . . they did not prefer to live or die,
  But chose to do both of these bravely."

10. PHLEGON, 'Mirabilia', chapter 3

In his 'Mirabilia', Phlegon included a couple of Aetolian ghost stories - for the other one, about Polycritus, see The story of Būplagus is set in the context of historical events of 191 B.C., but the identity of the Roman general Publius is left unclear. The verse prophecies of Publius, which do not appear to refer to any historical events, are omitted here; at the end of the story Publius is eaten by a huge red wolf - apart from his head, which carries on prophesying.   The translation is by William Hansen (1996).

[1] Antisthenes the Peripatetic philosopher relates that the consul Acilius Glabrio along with the legates Porcius Cato and Lucius Valerius Flaccus drew up in battle-order against Antiochus in Thermopylae and fought nobly, forcing Antiochus's men to cast away their weapons and Antiochus himself to flee with five hundred guards initially to Elateia, after which Acilius compelled him to withdraw to Ephesus. [2] Acilius dispatched Cato to Rome to report his victory while he himself waged war against the Aetolians in Heracleia, which he easily captured. [3] In the confrontation with Antiochus at Thermopylae, very conspicuous omens occurred to the Romans. In the days following Antiochus's failure and flight, the Romans occupied themselves in removing for burial the bodies of their own fallen and in collecting arms and other spoils as well as prisoners of war.

[4] There was a certain Būplagus, a cavalry commander from Syria who had been held in high esteem by King Antiochus and had fallen after fighting nobly. At midday while the Romans were gathering all the enemy's arms, Būplagus stood up from among the dead, though he had twelve wounds, and went to the Roman camp where he proclaimed in a soft voice the following verses.
  Stop despoiling an army gone to the land of Hades,
  For already Zeus Cronides is angry beholding your ill deeds,
  Wrothful at the slaughter of an army and at your doings, and
  Will send a bold-hearted tribe against your land
  That will put an end to your rule, and you will pay for what you have wrought.

[5] Shaken by this utterance the generals quickly convened the multitude and deliberated about the ghost. They decided to cremate and bury Būplagus (who had expired immediately after his utterance), purify the camp, perform a sacrifice to Zeus Apotropaios and send a delegation to Delphi to ask the god what they should do. [6] When the envoys reached Pytho and asked what to do, the Pythia proclaimed the following oracle.
  Restrain yourself now, Roman, and let justice abide with you,
  Lest Pallas stir up a much greater Ares against you,
  And make desolate your market-places, and you, fool, for all your effort,
  Lose much wealth before reaching your land.

[7] When they had heard this oracle they renounced entirely the idea of waging war upon any of the peoples of Europe. Breaking camp at the forementioned place they went to Naupactus in Aetolia where there was a shared temple of the Greeks, and they prepared sacrifices at public expense and first fruits according to custom.

[8] After the rites had been discharged, General Publius began to rave and behave in a deranged manner, making many utterances in a state of divine possession, of which some were in verse and some in prose. When word of this matter reached the ordinary soldiers, they all rushed to Publius's tent, partly from anxiety and amazement that the best man among them, an experienced leader, had fallen into such a state and partly from a wish to hear what he was saying. As a result some men were pressed together so powerfully that they were suffocated. The following utterance in verse was made by him while he was still inside his tent.
  O my country what a baneful Ares Athena will bring out
  When you ravage Asia with its great wealth and return . . .

[9] After he had proclaimed these verses he darted out of his tent in his tunic and made the following utterance in prose. 'I reveal, soldiers and citizens, that crossing over from Europe to Asia you will overcome King Antiochus in battles at sea and on land, and become master of all the land on this side of the Taurus and of all the cities established in it, having driven Antiochus into Syria; this land and these cities will be handed over ro the sons of Attalus. The Celts dwelling in Asia who face you in battle will be worsted, and you will take possession of their women and children and all their household goods, and convey them to Europe. But European coastal-dwellers, the Thracians of the Propontis and Hellespont, will attack you around the land of the Aenians as you return from your campaign, killing some of your men and capturing some of your boory. When the others have come safely through and been conveyed to Rome, there will be a treaty with King Antiochus, according to which he will pay money and withdraw from a certain region.' . . .

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