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Athenaeus: The Deipnosophists

BOOK 11, Pages 496-509

Translated by C.B. Gulick (1933).

See key to translations for an explanation of the format. The page numbers in the Greek text are shown in red. The chapter numbers in the translation are shown in green.


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{95.} G   [496] Rheonta. This was a name given to certain cups. Astydamas mentions them in Hermes, saying as follows : "First of all, two mixing-bowls of silver, fifty phialai, ten kymbia, a dozen rheonta ; of these ten were silver, two were of gold? - a griffin the one, a Pegasus the other."

Rhysis. A golden phialē, according to Theodorus. Cratinus in The Laws : "Pouring a libation from a rhysis."

{96.} G   Rhodias. Diphilus in The Rampart-taker ( Callimachus gives this play the title of Eunuch ) ; Diphilus says : "And drink still more copiously than from the Rhodiades or from the drinking-horns ? "   They are mentioned also by Dioxippus in The Miser, by Aristotle in the treatise On Drunkenness, and by Lynceus of Samos in his Letters.

{97.} G   Rhyton. The word has a short Y and is accented with an acute on the last syllable. Demosthenes in the speech Against Meidias has "drinking-horns {rhyta} kymbia, and phialai" { 158 }. Diphilus in The Eunuch or Trooper ( the play is a revised edition of The Rampart-taker ) : [497] "May we not have more cups poured out, and drink still more copiously than from the Rhodiades or from the drinking-horns {rhyta} ? "   And Epinicus in Child-foisting Wives : "{A} And what is more, to-day he will be obliged to drink three of the biggest horns in existence, letting them squirt to the time of the water-clock.  {B} Absit omen! I shudder at both.  {A} One is an elephant -  {B} Why, do you lead elephants about in your train ?  {A} - holding two choes.  {B} But an elephant, big as he is, couldn't drink up all that!  {A} Yes, he could; I myself have done it often.  {B} Ay, for you are as big a brute as an elephant.  {A} And so are you! The second cup is a trireme ; this holds possibly a chous."   And describing the third cup he says: "{A} It is Bellerophon, on the back of Pegasus, having just hurled his javelin at the fire-breathing Chimaera. All right ; take this too."   Now the rhyton was earlier called a horn ; and it appears to have been manufactured first under the orders of King Ptolemy Philadelphus, that it might be used as an attribute borne by the statues of Arsinoē. For in her left hand the queen carries that sort of object filled with all kinds of fruit, the artists thus indicating that this horn is even richer in blessings than the horn of Amaltheia. Theocles mentions it in his Ithyphallic Verses thus : "All we artists have to-day celebrated with sacrifice the festival of Salvation {Soteria} ; in their company I have drunk the double horn and am come into the presence of our dearest king."   Dionysius of Sinope, when giving a list of some cups in The Woman who Saved, mentioned also the rhyton, as I have said before.   And Hedylus in his Epigrams, mentioning the rhyton made by the engineer Ctesibius, says : "Come hither, ye drinkers of strong wine, look also at this rhyton in the temple of Arsinoē the Gracious, lover of the West Wind : it is in the form of the Egyptian Besas, the dancer, who trumpets forth a shrill note when the spout is opened for the flowing wine - no signal for battle is this, but through the golden mouthpiece a there rings the signal for revelling and mirth ; it is like the ancestral melody which the Lord Nile produced from the divine waters, dear to the initiates who bring him their offerings. Nay then, if ye will honour this clever device of Ctesibius, come hither, young men, beside the temple of Arsinoē here."   Theophrastus in his treatise On Drunkenness says that the cup called the rhyton is rendered only to the Heroes. Dorotheus of Sidon says that the rhyta are like horns, but have a hole bored in them, and from them, as the liquid is discharged in a slender stream, people drink at the lower end, and so they have got their name from this flowing {rhysis}

{98.} G   Sannakra. Crates, in the fifth book of his work On the Attic Dialect, says that there is a cup so called. It is Persian. Philemon, after mentioning batiakai in The Widow and joking at the ridiculous nature of the word, says : " Sannakra, horse-goat-stags, batiakia, sannakia ! "

Seleukis. That this cup got its designation from King Seleucus has been stated before { 783.e } ; the fact is recorded also by Apollodorus of Athens. And Polemon, in the first book of his Addresses to Adaeus, mentions as cups resembling each other the Seleukis, Rhodias, and Antigonis. [498] Skallion, a tiny cylix with which the Aeolians offer libations, according to Philitas in Irregular Words.

{99.} G   Skyphos. Some authorities pronounce the genitive of this word with an S under all circumstances, but wrongly ; for when the word skyphos is masculine, like lychnos, we shall pronounce it (in the genitive) without the S, but when it is neuter we shall decline it with the S - skyphos, skyphous, like teichos, teichous. The Athenians give the nominative case sometimes as masculine, sometimes as neuter. Moreover Hesiod, in the second book of The Epic of Melampus, says skypphos, with P : "To him came Maris, the nimble messenger, through the hall, and filling a silver cup {skypphos} brought it and gave it to his lord."   And again Hesiod says : "Thereupon Mantis grasped a thong of ox-hide in his hands, but Iphiclus laid hold of his back. Then up from behind him came Phylacus, holding a cup {skypphos} in one hand, with the other raising his staff, and spake amongst his henchmen."   Likewise also Anaximander in his Tale of Heroes, speaking as follows : "Amphitryon divided the booty among his allies and kept the cup {skypphos} which he had chosen for himself."   And again: "Now Poseidon gave this cup {skypphos} to Teleboas, his own son, and Teleboas gave it to Pterelaüs ; this he took when he sailed away."   Likewise Anacreon also has the word with a P : "And I, with a cup {skypphos} filled to the brim, drank it out in honour of Erxion of the white crest," where "drank it out" is for " pledged."   For, properly speaking, that is what pledging is, to give another a drink before oneself. So Odysseus also in Homer { Odyssey, 13.57 } : "Placed in Arētē's hands the double cup."   And Odysseus in the Iliad { 9.224 } : " Filled the cup with wine and greeted Achilles. " For they filled and pledged each other with a greeting.

Panyassis, in the third book of his Epic of Heracles, says : "With the wine he mixed a mighty, shining mixing-bowl of gold, and taking frequent cups {skypphous} he quaffed the pleasant drink."   Euripides in Eurystheus used the word skyphos as a masculine : "And a deep bowl."   So too Achaeus in Omphalē : "The cup of the god invites me."   And Simonides said : "The eared bowl."   Ion, also, in Omphalē : "There is no wine in the cup" ; he has formed a peculiar dative skyphei from the nominative skyphos and employed it as a neuter in word.   Similarly (in the neuter gender) Epicharmus in The Cyclops : "Come, pour it into the cup."   And Alexis in Leucadia : "A mighty cup of wine, with venerable brim."   Epigenes, too, in The Bacchant : "I was glad to accept the cup."   And so Phaedimus in the first book of his Epic of Heracles : "A broad, wooden cup of strong honeyed wine."   And in Homer Aristophanes of Byzantium also writes : "So then, filling the cup {skyphos} from which he was wont himself to drink, he gave it to him." But Aristarchus writes : "So then, filling the cup {skyphon} from which he was wont himself to drink, he gave it to him."   Asclepiades of Myrlea, in his treatise On Nestor's Cup, says: "No dweller in a city, even in moderate circumstances, ever used a skyphos or a kissybion ; it is only swineherds, shepherds, and country people who do, like Eumaeus { Odyssey, 14.112 }: 'Filling the cup {skyphos} from which he was wont himself to drink, he gave it to him filled with wine.' "   And Alcman also says : [499] ''Oft-times on the peaks of the mountains, whensoe'er the festival with many torches delights the gods, thou carriest a golden vessel, a mighty cup {skyphon} like those that shepherds have, and with thy hands pouring into it the milk of a lioness, thou didst mould a large solid cheese glistening white."   Aeschylus, further, (has the term skyphoma) in Women of Perrhaebia : "Where are my many rewards and choicest prizes ? Where my cups {skyphomata} wrought in gold and silver ? "   And Stesichorus calls the cup used in the cave of the Centaur Pholus a skyphion depas, equivalent to "skyphos-like" ; of Heracles he says "And taking the skyphos-like cup, measuring as much as three flagons, he put it to his lips and drank it - that cup which Pholus had mingled and set before him."   Archippus, also, used the word skyphos as a neuter in Amphitryo.

{100.} G   Now they say that the flagon {lagynos} is the name of a measure among the Greeks, as are the chous and the kotylē. It contains twelve Attic kotylai. Moreover in Patrae they say there is this measure, the lagynos. Nicostratus uses the word as a masculine in Hecate : "{A} How large are our flagons of wine racked off from the casks ?  {B} They hold three choes each."   Again he says : "Hand us that brimming flagon."   And in the play entitled The Couch : "Nauseating, too, is this flagon that comes next; it's full of vinegar."   So Diphilus in Safe Home : "The flagon that I have, aged crone, is empty, but my meal sack is chock full."   Now Lynceus of Samos in the Letter to Diagoras writes : "At the time you stayed in Samos, Diagoras, I remember that you often attended the drinking-parties at my house ; at these a flagon of wine, set at each man's place, was kept filled, thus allowing each to have a cup at his pleasure."   But Aristotle in The Constitution of Thessaly asserts that lagynos is used in the feminine gender by the Thessalians.   So, too, the epic poet Rhianus in his Epigrams : "This flagon, Archinus, contains exactly one-half resin from pine cones, one-half wine. And I know not the flesh of a leaner kid than this ; yet Hippocrates who sent them is worthy to be praised on all accounts."   On the other hand, Diphilus has it in the neuter in Brothers : "Oh, that little flagon {lagynion} of burglars and sneaks, which is able to make its way into the the sample-rooms under an armpit, and to sell the stuff until, as at a contribution-dinner,a only one man is left, a bar-keeper cheated by a wine-seller."   Now the phrase in Stesichorus's Tale ofGeryonēs, "measuring as much as three flagons," contains an ambiguity as regards the three genders. And Eratosthenes declares that petasos (hat) and stamnos (wine-jar) are used as feminines by some writers.

{101.} G   As to the skyphos, that was named from the word skaphis. This latter is likewise a round wooden vessel used as a receptacle for milk and whey, as it is told in Homer { Odyssey, 9.222 } : "And all the vessels swam with whey - the pails and the bowls - the well-wrought vessels into which he milked."   But the word skyphos may be as it were for skythos, since the Scythians are in the habit of drinking to great excess. And Hieronymus of Rhodes, in his work On Drunkenness, even says that to get drunk is to behave like a Scythian; for the sound of PH (as in skyphos) is related to the sound of TH." [500] In later times, by way of imitation, they manufactured skyphoi of clay and of silver. Of these the first to be made and to acquire repute were the so-called Boeotian skyphoi, and Heracles while on his campaigns was the first to make use of the style ; hence they are also called "Heracleotic bowls" by some. Nevertheless when compared with other skyphoi they show a difference ; for upon their handles there is the so-called Heraclean chain. The Boeotian skyphoi are mentioned by Bacchylides in the following lines, in which he addresses the Dioscuri and invites them to a feast : "No carcasses of oxen are there, nor gold, nor purple carpets, but a kindly heart, and a sweet Muse, and pleasant wine in Boeotian cups {skyphoi}."   Next after the Boeotian, the Rhodian cups, so-called, were celebrated ; Damocrates was the artist who made them. Third come the Syracusan. The skyphos is called by the people of Epeirus gyrtos, according to Seleucus ; but by the people of Methymna, as Parmenon says in his book On Dialect, it is called skythos.   Further, the Spartan Dercylidas was called Skyphos, according to Ephorus in the eighteenth book, speaking as follows : "The Lacedaemonians sent Dercylidas into Asia to replace Thimbron, hearing that the barbarians of Asia are accustomed to transact all business with deceit and cunning. Hence they sent Dercylidas, because they thought that he was least likely to be hoodwinked ; for he was a man that had nothing in his character either Laconian or forthright, but on the contrary much that was rascally and brutal. Hence, also, the Lacedaemonians called him Skyphos."

{102.} G   Tabaitē. Amyntas in the first book of his Itinerary in Asia, discoursing on the so-called oak-manna, writes as follows : "They gather it, leaves and all, and press it in a mass, moulding it like a Syrian cake of fruit, or in some cases making balls of it. And when they are about to eat it, they break off portions from the mass into wooden cups which they call tabaitai, and after first soaking it and straining it off they drink (the syrup). And it is as if one soaked honey (in wine) and drank it, but very much pleasanter than that."

Tragelaphos. Thus are called certain cups which Alexis mentions in The Plasterer : "Sauce-boats, saucers, tragelaphoi, cylices." And Eubulus in Glued Together : "But we've got five saucers, two tragelaphoi."   And Menander says in The Fisherman : "Goat-stags {tragelaphoi} and labronioi."   Antiphanes in Chrysis : "{A} The bridegroom, stinking-rich as the saying is, has money by the ton, slaves, stewards, teams, camels, rugs, silver ware, saucers, triremes, goat-stags, carchesia, and pails of solid gold.  {B} Do mean boats ?  {A} No ; for all the pot-bellied gentry call wine-jars pails."

Trireme. That trireme also is a kind of drinking cup is shown by Epinicus in Child-foisting Wives. The testimony has been cited above { 497.d }.

Hystiakon. - A sort of cup, Rhinthon in Heracles : "And in a cup {hystiakon} you were soaking a white bun,eand gobbling up white meal and barley crumbs."

{103.} G   Phialē. When Homer says { Iliad, 23.270 }, "He set as a prize an amphithetos phialē untouched by fire," [501] and again { Iliad, 23.243 }, "A golden phialē and double-folded fat," he is not speaking of the cup known as phialē, but of a flat, basin-like vessel of bronze, probably having two handles extending from both sides. But Parthenius, the disciple of Dionysius, understands by amphithetos the vessel that has no stem. Similarly, Apollodorus of Athens in his little speech On the Mixing-bowl says that it is the vessel that cannot be set up and supported firmly on its stem, but only on its brim. Some, on the other hand, declare that just as the vessel that can be carried by its handles on both sides is called an also the amphithetos vessel gets its name. But Aristarchus explains that it means the vessel which can be set down on both sides, on the base or on the brim. Again, Dionysius of Thrace says that it simply means "round," the vessel that runs round {amphitheousa} in a circular shape. Asclepiades of Myrlea derives the word phialē, by the substitution of a letter, from pialē, i.e. the vessel that supplies "drink {piein} in plenty {halis} " ; for it was larger than the cup. Now as to the terms amphithetos and apyrotos : the latter is equivalent to "cold-forged," or "never put on the fire," just as the Poet calls a cauldron in one case "made to stand on the fire," in another case "unfired" ; "And among them (he set) a cauldron unfired, worth an ox, and embossed with flowers" - meaning perhaps a receptacle for cold water ; wherefore the phialē also is like a flat vessel of bronze, containing cold water. Then as to the adjective amphithetos, are we to imagine that it means "having two bases," one at each end, or does the prefix amphi signify the same as peri, which in turn means "extraordinary" ? On this latter theory any vessel exquisitely made would be said to be amphithetos, since the verb theinai was used for poiēsai by the ancients. But it can also mean "the vessel that is set both on its stem and on its brim and this mode of setting the phialai is Ionic and ancient. At any rate the people of Massilia to this very day place the phialai face down.

{104.} G   Cratinus says in Runaway Girls : "Receive these cups {phialai} with their acorn-bosses."   On this Eratosthenes in the eleventh book of his work On Comedy asserts that Lycophron is ignorant of the meaning of the word ; for the bosses on the phialai and the domed chambers of the public baths are much alike ; hence the joke on the shape is not without point. Apion and Diodorus both say : "A certain kind of phialai, the boss of which is rather like (the plug of) a drain."   And Asclepiades of Myrlea, in his remarks On Nestor's Cup, says that the phialai are called " bath-bossed " by Cratinus because their bosses and the tholoi of public baths are similar. And Didymus, though he also says the same, quotes the comment of Lycophron to the following tenor : "Derived from the plugs used in women's bath-tubs ; it is there that they draw off the water by means of small bowls."   Timarchus, too, in the fourth book On the Hermes of Eratosthenes, remarks : " One may regard the word as spoken in jest, because most of the baths at Athens are built in rotunda form and have their drain-pipes in the centre, on top of which is set a plug of bronze."   Ion in Omphalē : "Go, ye maidens, carry forth the cups and the bossed centres."   By this he meant the acorn-bossed phialai which Cratinus mentions : "Receive these cups with their acorn-bosses."   And Theopompus also said in Althaea : [502] "She took a golden phialē, filled, and bossed in the middle. But Telestes called it a pinnace," wherein Theopompus ridicules Telestes for calling the phialē a pinnace.   And Pherecrates, or whoever has written The Persians ascribed to him, says : "Wreaths for all, and bossed phialai of gold."   {105.} G   Now the Athenians speak of silver phialai as argyrides, golden phialai as chrysides. The argyris is mentioned by Pherecrates in The Persians thus : "Here, you ! Where are you carrying that argyris to ? "   Whereas the chrysis is mentioned by Cratinus in The Laws : "Pouring a libation from a chrysis, he called out loudly to the snakes as he offered it to them to drink."   So Hermippus in The Cercopes : "A chrysis of wine shining like the full moon he drank out and stole."   And he at least . . . There was also a phialē called balanotē, under the bottom of which were set knobs of gold.   And Semus says that in Delos there is dedicated a bronze palm-tree, a votive offering of the Naxians, and golden phialai adorned with dates. Anaxandrides calls these cups "saucers of Ares." The Aeolians call the phialē an arakē.

{106.} G   Phthois. Flat saucers with bosses. Eupolis : "Lying prostrate, saucers {phthoisi} and all." But the word ought to have the acute accent on the last syllable, like Karsi, paisi, phtheirsi.

Philotesia. A kind of cylix which they pledged in the way of friendship, as Pamphilus explains. And Demosthenes says { 19.128 } : "And he pledged him loving-cups."   Alexis : "This cup of kindness will I pledge you separately and together."   So also any company feasting together was called a philotesion. Aristophanes : "The shadow, at any rate, that bids to the dinner, stands at seven feet ; (I must go,) for already the band of friendship calls me."   And because of this kind of pledging there was a cylix called the cup of friendship, as in Lysistrata { 203 } : "May our Lady Persuasion { Peitho } and the cup of friendship . . . "

Chonnoi. Among the people of Gortyna a kind of cup, similar to a Therikleios, made of bronze ; this is given to the boy who has been carried off by his lover, according to Hermonax.

Chalcidic Cups. Perhaps so called from Chalcis in Thrace. They are celebrated.

{107.} G   Chytrides. Alexis in Supposititious : "Now that I have drunk in honour of King Ptolemy four pots {chytridia} of neat wine and as many again for the king's sister, and have drained them without stopping to take breath - mixed to the sweetest a man can have, half and half - and another in honour of the Concord { Homonoia } too - why should I not now go revelling without a lamp in view of a light so brilliant ? "   Herodotus in the fifth book of his Histories { 5.88 } says that the people of Argos and Aegina passed a law that no article from Attica should be brought to their sacrifices, not even a piece of crockery, but in future drinking should be done there from pots {chytrides} of local manufacture.   The Cynic Meleager also quotes the word, writing as follows in his Symposium : "The crisis being so great, he assigned to him a heavy task of toast-drinking, twelve deep pots {chytridia}."

{108.} G   Psygeus or Psykter. Plato in his Symposium { 213e } : " 'Rather,' he said, 'bring us, slave, that cooler' - having spied one that held more than eight kotylai. So he filled this and drank it out first himself, and then commanded that it be filled for Socrates."   . . . "When Archebulus undertook to lengthen out (the drinking-bout), the slave in the very nick of time spilled some of the beastly wine and upset the cooler."   Alexis in The New Tenant says : "A cooler containing three kotylai."   Dioxippus in The Miser : "From Olympichus he got six Theracleian cups and then the two coolers."   Menander in the play entitled Tinkers' Holiday says : "That's the custom nowadays, as you know ; they bawled 'Unmixed wine!'   'The big cup !'   And one would offer a cooler-full for a toast, simply killing the poor devils off."   And Epigenes, when giving a long list of cups in The Glorified Woman, mentions also the cooler {psygeus} in these words : "Take the slave-boys and fetch the Thericleian and the Rhodian cups here. Then you by yourself shall carry a cooler, a ladle, sauce-boats."   Strattis in Keeping Cool : "Another steals a cooler, still another a bronze ladle. The victim is left wondering what to do, and has to knead (his dough), quart by quart, with a half-pint cup."   Alexis in The Scarf calls the cooler a psykteridion in these lines : "I started to meet the stranger at the lodging-house where I used to stay with Agonis. And I told my slaves (since I had brought two from home) to place the cups, cleaned with soda, for all to see. And there was a ladle of silver (this, to be sure, weighed two drachmas), a gravy-dish weighing perhaps four more, [503] and a small cooler weighing one and two-thirds drachmas, of metal thinner than Philippides."

{109.} G   Heracleon of Ephesus asserts that "what we call a psygeus (cooler) some writers name psykterias ; and the Attic comedians even deride the term psygeus as being a foreign word."   Euphron in She gave It back : "{A} And when a man calls the cooler psygeus, the beet seutlon,a lentil-soup phakea, what are we to do ? Suppose you tell me.  {B} Why, pay him back, Pyrgothemis, with a word of your own, as if you were exchanging money."   Antiphanes in The Horsemen : "{A} But how, then, are we going to live ?  {B} The saddle-cloth is our blanket, our nice helmet is our jug, as for a cooler - what would you ? It's everything! We've got a horn of Amalthea."   And in The Carian Wailing-woman it is clearly shown that they used the cooler {psykter} pouring in the wine by means of a ladle. For after saying : "He causes to be placed beside him a tripod and a jug, also a cooler of wine . . . and then gets drunk" ; in the next lines he makes the drinker say : "I'm going to have a stronger drink. Therefore let nobody mix the wines ; no longer is it permitted, in our house, to ladle water in. Run, then, slave, and take the jug and the cup out of the room, and carry away everything else as well."   Dionysius, the disciple of Tryphon, in his Onomasticon says : "The men of old called the cooler {psygeus} a dinos."   But Nicander of Thyateira says that all grove-like, shady places dedicated to the gods, in which one may find refreshment, are called psykteres. Aeschylus in The Younger Generation : "Lizards in the shadowed cooling-places."   Euripides in Phaëthon : "Cooling trees will welcome thee with loving arms."   And again the writer of the poem Aegimius, whether it is Hesiod or Cercops of Miletus, says : "There one day my place of refreshment shall be, thou ruler of the people."

{110.} G   Odos. Thus was called the cup, says Tryphon in his Nouns Substantive, which was given when the glee {skolion} was sung, as Antiphanes makes clear in Twice as Much : "{A} What, then, will be in it for the gods ?  {B} Not a thing, unless somebody mixes it.  {A} Stop ! Take the cup {odos} But then don't string out any of those old-fashioned glees, the 'Telamon ' or the 'Paeon ' or 'Harmodius.' "

Ooskyphia. Respecting the shape of these cups Asclepiades of Myrlea, in his work On Nestor's Cup, says that it has two stems, one fashioned at the rounded body of the cup, and another attached separately, beginning in a slender shaft, but widening out where it ends, to form the base on which the cup stands.

On. Dinon in the third book of his Persian History says : "There is also the potibazis - barley and wheaten bread baked - and a wreath of cypress, and wine mixed [with water] in a golden egg {on} from which the king himself drinks."

{111.} G   After this long recital by Plutarchus, who was applauded by all, he asked for a phialē, from which he poured a libation to the Muses and their mother Mnemosynē and proceeded to toast all in a loving-cup. Then he continued : [504] "As when one grasps with a hand that knows not poverty a golden cup {phialē} foaming with the dew of the vine, and gives it" not merely "to the young son-in-law whom he welcomes with a toast," but also to all his nearest and dearest friends - he gave it to the slave with the command to "rush it about" explaining that this meant "drinking in a circle," and citing The Girl from Perinthus of Menander : "The old crone never misses a single cup, but drinks from the circling bowl."   And again, from The Inspired Woman : "And quickly again he rushes the first cup of unmixed wine round among them."   Also Euripides in The Women of Crete : "As for all else, rejoice while the cup goes circling round ! "   Thereupon the grammarian Leonides demanded a larger cup and cried out, "Let's drink out of the mixing-bowl, my friends. . . . This is the way, according to Lysanias of Cyrenē, in which Herodorus speaks of drinking-bouts, in these words : 'When they had offered sacrifice and had betaken themselves to banqueting and the mixing-bowl, prayers, and paeans.'   And the writer also of those Mimes which, according to Duris, were always in the hands of the wise Plato, says, I believe, 'and we were bowled,' instead of 'we had drunk thoroughly. ' "   "Nevertheless," said Pontianus, "the gods are my witness that you ought not to drink out of large cups when you have before your very eyes the words of the delightful and gracious Xenophon, who says in The Symposium { 2.24 } : 'And Socrates on his part replied : Yes, gentlemen, I too think that we ought by all means to have a drink. For wine in fact nourishes souls, lulling to sleep its pains, as mandragora lulls men to sleep, and on the other hand it stirs feelings of friendship, as oil stirs flames. I think, however, that even strong men's bodies experience the same effects that things growing in the ground undergo. For in their case also, when the god moistens them too copiously, they cannot remain upright, or even unfold in blossom at their proper seasons ; but when they drink only so much as they can take pleasure in, they grow up yery straight and reach the fruiting period in flourishing condition. In like manner we also, when we allow our drink to be poured out copiously for us, shall quickly lose control of our bodies and minds as well, and shall not even be able to take breath, to say nothing of being able to speak. Yet if our slaves let small drops drizzle into small cups - if I too may indulge in Gorgias-like phrases - we are then not violently forced into drunkenness by the wine, but are gradually led on and on until we arrive at a more playful mood.'

{112.} G   "When one regards these words of the noble Xenophon, he will be able to recognize the jealousy which the most illustrious Plato felt toward him, or it may be that both these gentlemen felt envious of each other from the beginning, when they came to perceive the peculiar merit each of the other ; and perhaps they contended also for the chief rank, as we may infer not merely from what they have said on the subject of Cyrus, but also from those works of theirs which deal with the same topic. For both have written Symposia, and in them one is for banishing flute-girls, whereas the other brings them in again, one of them, as set forth above, declines to drink from large cups, whereas the other represents Socrates as drinking from the cooler until daylight. And in the dialogue On the Soul, when Plato is giving a list of all who happened to be present, he does not make the slightest mention of Xenophon. And coming to the subject of Cyrus, the one says that from earliest youth he was thoroughly educated in all the traditional subjects, whereas Plato, as if in contradiction, declares in the third book of Laws { 694c } : [505] 'Regarding Cyrus, I suspect that although in general he was a brave and energetic commander of troops, yet he had never even so much as essayed a genuine course of training at all, or had even interested himself in any branch of household management whatever. Further, it is apparent that from his early youth he was in the army, giving over his sons to the women to bring up.'   Again, Xenophon accompanied Cyrus in his march against the Persians with the 10,000 Greeks ; he knew in detail about the treachery of the Thessalian Menon, and that Menon was himself responsible for the killing of Clearchus and his staff at the hands of Tissaphernes, and he plainly describes what sort of man Menon was in character, how harsh he was, and how sensual. But the noble Plato, all but saying 'That tale is not true,' a runs through the gamut of praise in Menon's honour - Plato, who has flatly abused other people, in the Republic banishing Homer and imitative poetry (from his city) while he himself wrote imitative dialogues, the pattern of which he did not even invent himself. Before his time, in fact, Alexamenus of Teos had invented this type of literature, as Nicias of Nicaea and Sotion record. And Aristotle in his treatise On Poets writes as follows : 'Therefore we shall not deny that even the so-called Mimes of Sophron, which are not in verse, are conversations, or that the dialogues of Alexamenus of Teos, which were the first Socratic conversations to be written, are imitations,' and so the most learned Aristotle expressly declares that Alexamenus wrote dialogues before Plato. Plato also reviles Thrasymachus, the sophist of Chalcedon, saying that he was like his name, as again he reviles Hippias, Gorgias, and Parmenides, and in a single dialogue, the Protagoras, many others, and used such terms as these in the Republic { 562c } : 'Whenever, I fancy, a democratic state, in its thirst for liberty, has the bad luck to get evil wine-pourers as its leaders, and has become intoxicated with strong wine.'

{113.} G   "It is reported that Gorgias, himself reading the dialogue named after him, remarked to his intimates, 'What nice satire Plato knows how to write ! ' And Hermippus in his work On Gorgias says : 'When Gorgias arrived in Athens after dedicating the gold statue of himself at Delphi, Plato seeing him said : "Here comes our noble and golden Gorgias" ; to which Gorgias replied : "Noble indeed and new is this Archilochus that Athens has produced." Others, again, say that when Gorgias read Plato's dialogue to his audience he observed that he had neither spoken any of these lines nor had he heard them from Plato.'   The same observation, they say, was made by Phaedo on reading the dialogue On the Soul. Hence Timon well said of him : 'What portentous platitudes Plato plaited purposely !' 'In fact, to make Plato's Socrates converse with Parmenides is scarcely possible on account of Socrates' youth, which would have prevented him from making or listening to such a discourse. But the most outrageous thing of all is also to say, without any compelling need, that Zeno, Parmenides' fellow-citizen, was his darling. And it is also impossible for Phaedrus to have been a contemporary of Socrates, to say nothing of being his lover. But what is more, it is impossible also that Paralus and Xanthippus, the sons of Pericles, [506] who died of the plague, should have conversed with Protagoras when he made his second visit to Athens, since they had died still earlier. Many other things, too, may be said of Plato from which one may show that he trumped up his dialogues.

{114.} G   "That Plato was in fact inimical toward everybody is plain also from what one reads in the dialogue entitled Ion, in which he first abuses all the poets, and then also the men promoted to power by the people, Phanosthenes of Andros, Apollodorus of Cyzicus, and also Heracleides of Clazomenae. In the Menon he abuses even the men who became greatest among the Athenians, Aristeides and Themistocles, but he praises Menon, the betrayer of the Greeks. Again, in the Euthydemus he foully abuses Euthydemus and his brother Dionysodorus, calling them pedants and giving them the name of wranglers, and he reproaches them for their flight from their native Chios { Euthyd.271c }, from which they went and settled in Thurii. And in the dialogue On Courage { Laches, 179b } he asserts that Melesias, son of the Thucydides who opposed Pericles in politics, and Lysimachus, son of Aristeides the Just, were not the equals of their fathers in merit. As to what he has said in the Symposium regarding Alcibiades, that is not even worth bringing to light in any discussion, any more than what he says in the first of the two dialogues addressed to him ; the second Alcibiades, in fact, is said by some to be the work of Xenophon, just as The Halcyon is ascribed to Leon the Academic, according to Nicias of Nicaea. Now, what is said in disparagement of Alcibiades, I pass over in silence ; but note that he speaks of the Athenian populace as a hasty and even rash judge, whereas in praising the Lacedaemonians he praises even the Persians, who were the foes of all the Greeks. And the brother of Alcibiades, Cleinias, he stigmatizes as insane,a his sons as silly fools, Meidias as a gamester, and says that although the Athenian people have fair countenances, we should observe them when they are stripped { Alcib. 1, 132a } ; as a matter of fact they will be seen, he says, to be invested with an admired reputation for a beauty which is unreal.

{115.} G   "In the Cimon Plato is unsparing in his accusation of Themistocles, as also of Alcibiades and Myronides, and even Cimon himself. The Crito, also, contains an invective against Crito himself, the Republic against Sophocles, while the Gorgias is equally critical not only of the man from whose name the title is taken, but also of Archelaus, the king of Macedonia, of whom it is said not only that he was of shameful origin, but also that he had murdered his master { 471 }. So this is Plato, of whom Speusippus said that he was very friendly to Philip and was the cause of his becoming king ! At least Carystius of Pergamum in Historical Notes writes as follows : 'Speusippus, learning that Philip was uttering slanders about Plato, wrote in a letter something of this sort : "As if the whole world did not know that Philip acquired the beginning of his kingship through Plato's agency. For Plato sent to Perdiccas Euphraeus of Oreus, who persuaded Perdiccas to portion off some territory to Philip. Here Philip kept a force, and when Perdiccas died, since he had this force in readiness, he at once plunged into the control of affairs." '   Now whether in fact this is really so God alone can know. But his beautiful Protagoras, besides containing invectives against numerous poets and men of wisdom, also exposes the life of Callias more theatrically than The Flatterers of Eupolis does. In the Menexenus it is not only Hippias of Elis that is held up to mockery, but also Antiphon of Rhamnus and the musician Lamprus. [507] But the day would fail me if I should wish to proceed with all who were abused by the philosopher. Nevertheless I do not commend Antisthenes either ; for he, too, abused many persons, not even abstaining from Plato himself, but giving him the vulgar appellation of Satho, he published the dialogue which has that title.

{116.} G   " Hegesander of Delphi, in his Commentaries discussing Plato's malice toward everyone, writes also these words : 'After the death of Socrates his intimate friends, gathered together on a certain occasion, were very despondent. Plato joined them, and taking up the cup he exhorted them not to be downcast, because he was competent to lead the school himself, and proposed a toast to Apollodorus. But he said : "I would rather have taken the cup of poison from Socrates than this toast of wine from you." For Plato had the reputation of being jealous and having by no means a good name so far as his character was concerned. For he actually mocked at Aristippus for going to live at the court of Dionysius, although he himself had voyaged to Sicily three times : once to see the streams of lava, on which occasion he, in company with the elder Dionysius, risked his life, and twice to visit the younger Dionysius. Again, when Aeschines was poor and had only one pupil, Xenocrates, Plato enticed him to himself. Also he was caught in the act of instituting against Phaedo the lawsuit in which Phaedo was charged with being a slave ; and in general, he was so constituted by nature as to have the disposition of a stepmother toward all the disciples of Socrates. Hence Socrates, on the occasion when, in the presence of several persons, he told a dream which he had had, made a guess about him not unwittily. For he said: "Methought Plato had turned into a crow and had lighted on my head, where he pecked at my bald spot and croaked as he looked all round. So I infer, Plato, that you are going to utter many lies over my head." But besides being malicious, Plato was eager for fame, for he said : "The last thing we put off at death itself is the tunic of fame, in our wills, in our funerals, and in our tombs" ; so says Dioscurides in his Memoirs. When it comes to conceiving the wish to form a state and give it laws, who shall say that that is not a bad case of vanity? This is plain from what he says in the Timaeus { 19b } : "I have a feeling as regards my Republic like that of a painter who wanted to see his creations moving and acting ; just so should I like to see the citizens whom I describe." '

{117.} G   "Now in regard to the statements in his dialogues, what can one say, really ? The soul, for example, which he conceives as deathless, and which at the dissolution of the body is separated from it, is so spoken of by Homer first. For Homer has said that the soul of Patroclus 'went down to the house of Hades, bewailing its doom, leaving manhood and youth' { Iliad, 16.856 }. Be that as it may, even if one could affirm that the doctrine is Plato's, I cannot see what help we have got from him. For even though one concedes that the souls of the dead change into other beings, and mount upward to the higher and purer region since they share in the quality of lightness, what good does that do us ? For we have neither remembrance of where we once were, nor consciousness whether we ever existed at all, and so what gratification is derived from that kind of deathlessness . [508] Again, what results have been produced by the Laws compiled by him, or from the Republic, which is still earlier than the Laws ? And yet, surely, he ought, after the model set by Lycurgus for the Lacedaemonians, by Solon for the Athenians, and by Zaleucus for the Thurians, in his own case also, supposing that his laws were of any use, to have induced some of the Greeks to adopt them. ' For a law,' as Aristotle says, 'is a definite statement, based on a common agreement in the community, indicating how things are to be done in each case' { Rhet. Ad Al., 1422a }  Now as to Plato, is he not in a ludicrous position, seeing that of the three Athenians who became lawgivers and who acquired some fame, at least, Dracon, Plato himself, and Solon, their fellow-citizens adopted the laws of two of them, but actually laughed at those of Plato ? And the same reasoning applies also to the Republic ; even supposing that this state is better than all others, if he fails to convince us of it, what good is it ? It is plain, therefore, that Plato did not write his laws for actually existent men, but for those who are conceived in his imagination, so that one must seek far and wide for people who will adopt them. He ought, therefore, to have written down only those things which would win persuasion if he spoke them, and not do the same thing that people do who make pious wishes, but rather what people do who keep a hold on things which are practicable.

{118.} G   "Apart, then, from these considerations, if one should go through his Timaeuses and his Gorgiases and all other such dialogues, in which Plato discusses the sciences and things 'in accord with nature' and many other subjects besides, not even for this is he to be admired. For even from other authorities one may get these things said either better or not worse. Why, even Theopompus of Chios, in his Attack on Plato's School, says : 'One would discover that the majority of his dialogues are useless and false ; and the greater number are borrowed, being taken from the discourses of Aristippus, some even from those of Antisthenes, and many also from those of Bryson of Heracleia.'   Why, those speculations on mankind which he advertises and which we search for in his dialogues we fail to find ; rather dinner-parties, and words spoken on the subject of Eros - very indecent, too - all of which he compiled in utter contempt of his future readers, just as most of his disciples proved to be men of tyrannical and slanderous disposition. {119.} G   Euphraeus, for example, when staying at the court of King Perdiccas in Macedonia, lorded it as regally as the king himself, though he was of low origin and given to slander ; he was so pedantic in his selection of the king's associates that nobody could share in the common mess if he did not know how to practise geometry or philosophy. For this reason, when Philip succeeded to the throne, Parmenion seized and killed Euphraeus in Oreus, according to Carystius in Historical Notes. So also Callippus of Athens, another disciple of Plato, though he had been a friend and fellow-pupil of Dion, and had travelled in his company to Syracuse, presently observing that Dion was trying to appropriate the monarchy to himself, killed him and attempted to be tyrant himself, but was murdered. Then there was Euaeon of Lampsacus, as recorded by Eurypylus and Dicaeocles of Cnidus in the ninety-first book of his Discourses, also by the orator Demochares in his speech as advocate in the case Sophocles versus Philon. He lent money to his native city, taking as security the acropolis, which he retained with the design of becoming tyrant, until the people of Lampsacus combined to resist him, and after paying back his money they threw him out. [509] Then Timaeus of Cyzicus, as Demochares again says, after bestowing a largess of money and grain upon his fellow-citizens, thereby winning confidence among the Cyzicenes that he was a good man, a little while afterwards attacked their constitution through the agency of Aridaeus. He was tried, convicted, and disgraced, and althouoh he remained in the city old and worn with age, he passed his life in dishonour. Some of the Academic philosophers of to-day are like that, living as they do wickedly and disgracefully. For after gaining possession of a fortune by sacrilege and by unnatural courses through trickery, they are now looked up to with admiration ; just like Chaeron of Pellenē, who attended the lectures not only of Plato but also of Xenocrates. He too, as I was saying, ruled his native city with bitter tyranny, and not only drove out its best citizens, but also bestowed upon their slaves the property of their masters, and forced the masters' wives into wedlock with the slaves ; these were the beneficial results he derived from the noble Republic and from the lawless Laws !

{120.} G   "Hence, also, the comic poet Ephippus in Shipwrecked has satirized Plato in person, as well as some of his disciples, for acting as venal informers, indicating that they adorned themselves sumptuously, and that they exercised more care to secure an elegant appearance than the rakes of our own day. He says : 'Then up rose a smart young fellow, with a smattering of Plato - one of the small-coin-seizing-Bryson-Thrasymachus gentry from the Academy ; smitten by penury, he had joined the school of lucrative words, and had a faculty for considered speech ; well trimmed with scissors was his crop of hair, well did he let his beard grow down to uncut depths, well was his foot set in a sandal with leg-guard straps in nicely measured wrappings, well was he fortified with a mass of cloak as he leaned his imposing figure on his staff and spoke a word that he had borrowed, not his own, I think : 'Ye citizens of the Athenian soil.' "

So let this compilation end for us at this point, my very dear Timocrates. Next we shall talk about people who made themselves notorious for their luxury.

→ Book 12


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