Pliny,   Natural History

-   Book 7 ,   sections 153-215


Translated by H.Rackham (1952), with some minor alterations. Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each chapter.    

  ← Previous sections (77-152)

{48.} L   [153] As to the length and duration of men's life, not only geographical position but also dates and the various fortunes allotted at birth to each individual have made it uncertain. Hesiod, who first put forth some observations on this matter, placing many creatures above man in respect of longevity, fictitiously as I think, assigns nine of our lifetimes to the crow, four times a crow s life to stags, three times a stag's to ravens, and for the rest in a more fictitious style in the case of the phoenix and the nymphs. [154] The poet Anacreon attributes 150 years to Arganthonius king of the Tartesii, 10 years more to Cinyras king of Cyprus, and 200 to Aegimius. Theopompus gives 157 to Epimenides of Knossos Cnossus. Hellanicus says that some members of the clan of the Epii in Aetolia complete 200 years, and he is supported by Damastes who records that one of them, Pictoreus, a man of outstanding stature and strength, even lived 300 years; [155] Ephorus records Arcadian kings of 300 years; Alexander Cornelius says that a certain Dando in Illyria lived 500 years. Xenophon in his Periplus {"Coasting Voyage"} says that a king of the island of the Lutmii lived to 600, and - as though that were only a modest fabrication - that his son lived to 800. All of these exaggerations were due to ignorance of chronology, because some people made the year coincide with the summer, the winter being a second year, others marked it by the periods of the four seasons, for example the Arcadians whose years were three months long, and some by the waning of the moon, as do the Egyptians. Consequently with them even individuals are recorded to have lived a thousand years.

[156] But to pass to admitted facts, it is almost certain that Argathonius of Gades reigned for 80 years; his reign is thought to have begun in his fortieth year. It is not questioned that Masinissa reigned 60 years and that the Sicilian Gorgias lived 108 years. Quintus Fabius Maximus was augur for 63 years. Marcus Perperna and recently Lucius Volusius Saturninus outlived all the persons whose votes in debate they had taken as consuls; Perperna left only seven of those whom as censor he had elected - he lived to 98. [157] In this matter it occurs to me to note also that there has only been a single five-year period in which no senator has died, from when Flaccus and Albinus as censors performed the purification ceremony to the next censors, in the year A.U.C. 579 {175 BC}. Marcus Valerius Corvinus completed 100 years, and there was an interval of 46 years between his first and sixth consulships. He also took his seat in the curule chair 21 times, which is a record; but his length of life was equalled by the pontifex Metellus.

[158] Also among women Livia wife of Rutilius exceeded 97 years, Statilia a lady of noble family under the Emperor Claudius 99, Terentia Cicero's wife 103, Clodia Ofilius's wife 115; the latter also bore 15 children. The actress Lucceia delivered a recitation on the stage at 100. Galeria Copiola the actress of interludes was brought back to the stage in the consulship of Gaius Poppaeus and Quintus Sulpicius {9 AD}, at the votive games celebrated for the recovery of the deified Augustus, when in her 104th year; she had been brought out at her first appearance by Marcus Pomponius, aedile of the plebs, in the consulship of Gaius Marius and Gnaeus Carbo {82 BC}, 91 years before, and she was brought back to the stage when an old woman by Pompey the Great as a marvel at the dedication of his big theatre. [159] Also Pedianus Asconius states that Sammula lived 110 years. I am less surprised that Stephanio, who first introduced dancing in national costume, danced at both secular games, both those of the deified Augustus and those celebrated by Claudius Caesar in his fourth consulship {47 AD}, as the interval was only 63 years, although he also lived a long time afterwards. Mucianus is the authority for one Tempsis having lived 150 years at the place called Mount Tmolus Heights; and the census of Claudius Caesar gives the same number of years for Titus Fullonius of Bononia, which has been verified by comparing the census returns he had made previously and by the facts of his career - for the emperor gave his attention to this matter.

{49.} L   [160] The topic seems of itself to call for the view held by astronomical science. Epigenes declared that it is impossible to live 112 years; Berosus said that 116 years can be exceeded. Also the theory handed down by Petosiris and Necepsos is still extant (it is called the Theory of Quarters, from its dividing up the Zodiac into groups of three signs); this theory shows it possible to attain 124 years of life in the region of Italy. These thinkers declared that nobody exceeds the ascendant measure of 90 degrees (what is called `risings'), and stated that this period itself may be cut short by the encounter of maleficent stars, or even by their rays and by those of the sun. Again it is uncertain what is the greatest longevity allowed by the school of Aesculapius, which says that fixed periods of life are received from the stars; [161] however, they say that longer periods of life are rare, inasmuch as vast crowds of men are born at critical moments in the hours of the lunar days, for example the 7th and the 15th hour counting by night and day, who are liable to die under the law of the ascending scale of years, called 'gradations', persons so born rarely exceeding their fifty-fourth year.

[162] At the outset therefore the variations in the science itself show how uncertain the matter is. In addition there are the experiences of the last census, held within the last four years by the Emperors Caesar Vespasian father and son as censors. Nor is it necessary to ransack all the records: we will only produce cases from the middle region between the Apennines and the Po. [163] Three persons declared 120 years at Parma and one at Brixillum; two at Parma 125; one man at Placentia and one woman at Faventia 130; Lucius Terentius son of Marcus at Bononia 135; Marcus Aponius 140 and Tertulla 137 at Ariminum. In the hills this side of Placentia is the township of Veleia, where six declared 110 years, four 120, one (Marcus Mucius Felix, son of Marcus, of the Galerian tribe) 150. [164] And, not to delay with further instances in a matter of admitted fact, the census registered in the eighth region of Italy 54 persons of 100 years of age, 14 of 110, 2 of 125, 4 of 130, the same number of 135 or 137, 3 of 140.

[165] Other instances of the fickleness of mortal fortunes are these: Homer has recorded that men of such diverse fates as Hector and Polydamas were born on the same night; Marcus Caelius Rufus and Gaius Licinius Calvus, both orators but with such different success, were born on the same day, May 28 in the consulship of Gaius Marius and Gnaeus Carbo (the latter's third) {82 BC}. Taking the entire world, this happens daily even to persons born at the same hours - masters and slaves, kings and paupers come into existence simultaneously.

{50.} L   [166] Publius Cornelius Rufus, who was consul with Manius Curius, lost his sight while asleep, when dreaming that it was happening to him. In the opposite way, Jason of Pherae being ill with a tumour and given up by the doctors sought death in battle, but was wounded in the chest and so obtained a cure from the enemy. In the battle against the tribes of the Allobroges and Arverni on the river Isara, on August 8 {121 BC}, when 130,000 of the foe were killed, the consul Quintus Fabius Maximus got rid of a quartan ague in action. [167] In fact whatever be this gift of nature that is bestowed upon us, it is uncertain and insecure, indeed sinister and of brief duration even in the case of those to whose lot it has fallen in most bounteous measure, at all events when we regard the whole extent of time. What of the fact that, if we take into account our nightly period of slumber, everybody is alive for only a half of his life, whereas an equal portion is passed in a manner that resembles death, or, in default of slumber, torture. And we are not counting in the years of infancy that lack sensation, nor those of old age that remains alive to be tormented, nor all the kinds of dangers, all the diseases, all the fears, all the anxieties, with death so often invoked that this is the commonest of prayers. [168] But nature has granted man no better gift than the shortness of life. The senses grow dull, the limbs are numb, sight, hearing, gait, even the teeth and alimentary organs die before we do, and yet this period is reckoned a portion of life. Consequently it is virtually a miracle - and this is the solitary instance of it found - that the musician Xenophilus lived to 105 without any bodily disablement. [169] But assuredly with all the rest of men, as in the case of none of the other animals, morbid heat or else stiffness returns through the several portions of the limbs at fixed hours, and not only at certain hours but also every three or four days or nights, even all the year round. And moreover the death of the intellect in some measure is a disease. For nature has imposed certain laws even upon diseases: [170] a four-day-period fever never begins at midwinter or in the winter months, and some people are not attacked by it when over the age of 60, while with others, particularly women, it is discarded at puberty; and old men are least susceptible to plague. For diseases attack not only entire nations but also particular classes, sometimes the slaves, sometimes the nobility, and so through other grades. In this respect it has been observed that plague always travels from southern quarters westward and almost never otherwise, and that it does not spread in winter, nor during a period exceeding three months.

{51.} L   [171] Again, signs of approaching death are: in a case of insanity laughter, but in delirium toying with fringes and making folds in the bed-clothes, disregard of persons trying to keep the patient awake, making water, while the most unmistakable signs are in the appearance of the eyes and nostrils, and also in lying constantly on the back, in an irregular and excessively slow pulse, and the other symptoms noted by that prince of medicine Hippocrates. And whereas the signs of death are innumerable, there are no signs of health being secure; inasmuch as the ex-censor Cato gave an as it were oracular utterance addressed to his son about healthy persons also, to the effect that senile characteristics in youth are a sign of premature death. [172] But so unlimited is the number of diseases that the Pherecydes  of Syros expired with a swarm of maggots bursting out of his body. Some people suffer from perpetual fever, for instance Gaius Maecenas: the same had not an hour's sleep in the last three years of his life. The poet Antipater of Sidon used to have a yearly attack of fever on one day only, his birthday, and this at a fairly advanced age carried him off.

{52.} L   [173] The ex-consul Aviola came to life again on the funeral pyre, and as the flame was too powerful for it to be possible to come to his assistance, was burnt alive. A similar cause of death is recorded in the case of the ex-praetor Lucius Lamia, while Gaius Aelius Tubero, a former praetor, is recorded by Messala Rufus and most authorities to have been recovered from the pyre. This is the law of mortals: we are born for these and similar accidents of fortune, so that in the case of a human being no confidence must he placed even in death. [174] Among other instances we find that the soul of Hermotimus of Clazomenae used to leave his body and roam abroad, and in its wanderings report to him from a distance many things that only one present at them could know of - his body in the meantime being only half-conscious; till finally some enemies of his named the Cantharidae burned his body and so deprived his soul on its return of what may be called its sheath. We also read that the soul of Aristeas at Proconnesus was seen flying out of his mouth in the shape of a raven, with a great deal of fabulous invention that follows this. [175] This inventiveness I for my part also receive in a similar way in the case of Epimenides of Cnossus - that when a boy, being weary with the heat and with travel, he slept in a cave 57 years, and when he woke, just as if it had been on the following day, was surprised at the appearance of things and the change in them; and afterwards old age came on him in the same number of days as he had slept years, though nevertheless he lived to the age of 157. The female sex seems specially liable to this malady, caused by distortion of the womb; if this is set right, the breathing is restored. To this subject belongs the essay of Heraclides, well known in Greece, about the woman recalled to life after being dead for seven days.

[176] Also Varro records that when he was acting as one of the Twenty Commissioners and apportioning lands at Capua a person being carried out on a bier to burial returned home on foot; and that the same thing occurred at Aquinum; and that also at Rome his maternal aunt's husband Corfidius came to life again after his funeral had been arranged for with an undertaker, and that he himself superintended the funeral of the relative who had made the arrangement. [177] He adds some marvellous occurrences that it would be suitable to have set out in their entirety: that there were two brothers Corfidius, of the rank of knights, to the elder of whom it happened that he appeared to have expired, and when his will was opened the younger brother was read out as his heir, and set about arranging his funeral; in the meantime the brother who appeared to be dead summoned the servants by clapping his hands and told them that he had come from his brother, who had entrusted his daughter to his care, and had also shown him where he had without anybody's knowledge hidden some gold in a hole dug in the ground, and had asked that the preparations that he had made for his brother's funeral might be used for himself. While he was telling this story his brother's servants hurriedly came with the news that their master was dead; and the gold was found in the place where he had said. [178] Moreover life is full of these prophecies, but they are not worth collecting, because more often than not they are false, as we will prove by an outstanding example. In the Sicilian War the bravest man in Caesar's navies Gabienus was taken prisoner by Sextus Pompeius, by whose order his throat was cut and almost severed, and so he lay a whole day on the shore. Then on the arrival of evening, a crowd having been gathered to the spot by his groans and entreaties, he besought that Pompeius should come to him, or send one of his personal staff, as he had come back from the lower world and had some news to tell him. [179] Pompeius sent several of his friends, who were told by Gabienus that the gods below approved Pompeius' cause and the righteous party, so that the issue would be what Pompeius desired; that he had had orders to bring this news, and that a proof of its truth would be that as soon as his errand was accomplished he would expire. And this so happened. There are also cases of persons appearing after burial - save that our subject is the works of nature, not prodigies.

{53.} L   [180] But most miraculous and also frequent, are sudden deaths (this is life's supreme happiness), which we shall show to be natural. Verrius has reported a great many, but we will preserve moderation with a selection. Cases of people who died of joy are (besides Chilon about whom we have spoken) Sophocles and Dionysius the tyrant of Sicily, in both cases after receiving news of a victory with a tragedy: also the mother who saw her son back safe from Cannae in contradiction of a false message; Diodorus the professor of logic died of shame because he could not at once solve a problem put to him in jest by Stilpon. [181] Cases of men dying from no obvious causes are: while putting on their shoes in the morning, the two Caesars, the praetor and the ex-praetor, father of the dictator Caesar, the latter dying at Pisa and the former at Rome; Quintus Fabius Maximus on 31 December in the year of his consulship {45 BC}, in whose place Gaius Rebilus obtained the office for only a few hours; also the senator Gaius Volcatius Gurges - all of these men so healthy and fit that they were thinking of going out for a walk; Quintus Aemilius Lepidus who bruised his great toe in the doorway of his bedroom just as he was going out; Gaius Aufidius who after he had gone out hit his foot against something in the Comitium when he was on his way to the senate. [182] Also an envoy who had pleaded the cause of Rhodes in the senate to the general admiration, just as he wanted to leave the senate-house expired on the threshold; Gnaeus Baebius Tamphilus, who had himself also held the praetorship, died just after asking his slave the time; Aulus Pompeius died on the Capitol after paying reverence to the gods, Manlius Juventius Thalna the consul {163 BC} while offering sacrifice, Gaius Servilius Pansa while standing at a shop in the market-place, leaning on his brother Publius's arm, at seven o'clock in the morning, Baebius the judge while in the act of giving an order for enlargement of bail, Marcus Terentius Corax while writing a note in the market-place; [183] and moreover last year, a Roman knight died while saying something in the ear of an ex-consul, just in front of the ivory statue of Apollo in the Forum of Augustus; and, most remarkable of all, the doctor Gaius Julius died from passing the probe through his eye while pouring in ointment, the ex-consul Aulus Manlius Torquatus while helping himself to a cake at dinner, Lucius Tuccius, Sulla's doctor, while drinking a draught of mead, Appius Saufeius when he had drunk some mead and was sucking an egg after coming back from the bathhouse, Publius Quintius Scapula when out to dinner with Aquilius Gallus, Decimus Saufeius the clerk when lunching at home. [184] Cornelius Gallus, ex-praetor, and Titus Hetereius Knight of Rome died while with women; and, cases remarked on by our own generation, two members of the Order of Knights died when with the same pantomimus Mysticus, the leading beauty of the day. However, the most enviable case of a peaceful end is one recorded by our forefathers, that of Marcus Ofilius Hilarus: [185] he was an actor in comedy, and having had a considerable success with the public on his birthday and while giving a party, when dinner was served called for a hot drink in a tankard, and at the same time picked up the mask that he had worn on that day and while gazing at it transferred the wreath from his own head to it, and in this attitude lay quite stiff without anybody noticing, until the guest on the next couch warned him that his drink was getting cold.

[186] These are happy instances, but there are countless numbers of unhappy ones. Lucius Domitius, a man of very distinguished family, who was defeated at Massilia and was taken prisoner, also by Caesar, at Corfinium, grew tired of life and drank poison, but afterwards made every effort to save his life. It is found in the official records that at the funeral of Felix the charioteer of the Reds one of his backers threw himself upon the pyre - a pitiful story - and the opposing backers tried to prevent this score to the record of a professional by asserting that the man had fainted owing to the quantity of scents! Not long before, the corpse of Marcus Lepidus, the man of distinguished family whose death from anxiety about his divorce we have recorded above { 7.122}, had been dislodged from the pyre by the violence of the flame, and as it was impossible to put it back again because of the heat, it was burnt naked with a fresh supply of faggots at the side of the pyre.

{54.} L   [187] Cremation was not actually an old practice at Rome: the dead used to be buried. But cremation was instituted after it became known that the bodies of those fallen in wars abroad were dug up again. All the same many families kept on the old ritual, for instance it is recorded that nobody in the family of the Cornelii was cremated before Sulla the dictatordictator, and that he had desired it because he was afraid of reprisals for having dug up the corpse of Gaius Marius. [But burial is understood to denote any mode of disposal of a corpse, but interment means covering up with earth.]

{55.} L   [188] There are various problems concerning the spirits of the departed after burial. All men are in the same state from their last day onward as they were before their first day, and neither body nor mind possesses any sensation after death, any more than it did before birth for the same vanity prolongs itself also into the future and fabricates for itself a life lasting even into the period of death, sometimes bestowing on the soul immortality, sometimes transfiguration, sometimes giving sensation to those below, and worshipping ghosts and making a god of one who has already ceased to be even a man - just as if man's mode of breathing were in any way different from that of the other animals, or as if there were not many animals found of greater longevity, for which nobody prophesies a similar immortality! [189] But what is the substance of the soul taken by itself? what is its material? where is its thought located? how does it see and hear, and with what does it touch? what use does it get from these senses, or what good can it experience without them? Next, what is the abode. or how great is the multitude, of the souls or shadows in all these ages? These are fictions of childish absurdity, and belong to a mortality greedy for life unceasing. Similar also is the vanity about preserving men's bodies, and about Democritus's promise of our coming to life again who did not come to life again himself! [190] Plague take it, what is this mad idea that life is renewed by death? what repose are the generations ever to have if the soul retains permanent sensation in the upper world and the ghost in the lower? Assuredly this sweet but credulous fancy ruins nature's chief blessing, death, and doubles the sorrow of one about to die by the thought of sorrow to come hereafter also; for if to live is sweet, who can find it sweet to have done living? But how much easier and safer for each to trust in himself, and for us to derive our idea of future tranquillity from our experience of it before birth!

{56.} L   [191] Before we quit the subject of man's nature it seems suitable to point out the various discoveries of different persons. Father Liber instituted buying and selling, and also invented the emblem of royalty, the crown, and the triumphal procession. Ceres discovered corn, men having hitherto lived on acorns; she also invented grinding corn and making flour in Attica (or, as others say, in Sicily), and for this was deemed a goddess. Also she first gave laws, though others have thought this was done by Rhadamanthus.

[192] I am of opinion that the Assyrians have always had writing, but others, for instance Gellius, hold that it was invented in Egypt by Mercury, while others think it was discovered in Syria; both schools of thought believe that Cadmus imported an alphabet of 16 letters into Greece from Phoenicia and that to these Palamedes at the time of the Trojan War added the four characters ΖΨΦΧ, and after him Simonides the lyric poet added another four ΥΞΩΘ, all representing sounds recognised also in the Roman alphabet. Aristotle holds that the primitive alphabet contained 18 letters, and that Ψ and Ζ were added by Epicharmus more probably than Palamedes. [193] Anticlides records that a person named Menes invented the alphabet in Egypt 15,000 years before Phoroneus, the most ancient king of Greece, and he attempts to prove this by the monuments. On the other side Epigenes, an authority of the first rank, teaches that the Babylonians had astronomical observations for 730,000 years inscribed on baked bricks; and those who give the shortest period, Berosus and Critodemus, make it 490,000 years; from which it appears that the alphabet has been in use from very ancient times. It was brought to Latium by the Pelasgians.

[194] Brick-kilns and houses were first introduced by the brothers Euryalus and Hyperbius at Athens; previously caves had served for dwellings. Gellius accepts Toxius son of Uranus as the inventor of building with clay, the example having been taken from swallows' nests. Cecrops named after himself the first town, Cecropia, which is now the Acropolis at Athens; though some hold that Argos had been founded before by King Phoroneus, and certain authorities say Sicyon also, but the Egyptians hold that Diospolis was founded in their country long before. [195] Tiles were invented by Cinyras, son of Agriopas, as well as mining for copper, both in the island of Cyprus, and also the tongs, hammer, crowbar and anvil; wells by Danaus who came from Egypt to Greece to the region that used to be called Dry Argos; stone quarrying by Cadmus at Thebes, or according to Theophrastus, in Phoenicia; walls were introduced by Thrason, towers by the Cyclopes according to Aristotle but according to Theophrastus by the Tirynthians; [196] woven fabrics by the Egyptians, dyeing woollen stuffs by the Lydians at Sardis, the use of the spindle in the manufacture of woollen by Closter son of Arachne, linen and nets by Arachne, the fuller's craft by Nicias of Megara, the shoemaker's by Tychius of Boeotia; medicine according to the Egyptians was discovered among themselves, but according to others through the agency of Arabus son of Babylon and Apollo; and the science of herbs and drugs was discovered by Chiron the son of Saturn and Philyra. [197] Aristotle thinks that Lydus the Scythian showed how to melt and work copper, but Theophrastus holds that it was the Phrygian Delas; manufactures of bronze some ascribe to the Chalybes and others to the Cyclopes; the forging of iron Hesiod ascribes to the people called the Dactyls of Ida in Crete. Erichthonius of Athens, or according to others Aeacus, discovered silver; mining and smelting gold was invented by Cadmus the Phoenician at Mount Pangaeum, or according to others by Thoas or Aeacus in Panchaia, or by Sol, son of Oceanus, to whom Gellius also assigns the discovery of medicine derived from minerals. Tin was first imported by Midacritus from the island of Cassiterides.  [198] Working in iron was invented by the Cyclopes, potteries by Coroebus of Athens, the potter's wheel by the Scythian Anacharsis, or according to others by Hyperbius of Corinth. Carpentry was invented by Daedalus, and with it the saw, axe, plumb-line, gimlet, glue, isinglass; but the square, the plummet, the lathe and the lever by Theodorus of Samos, measures and weights by Phidon of Argos, or, as Gellius preferred, Palamedes; fire from flint by Pyrodes son of Cilix, the storing of fire in a fennel-stalk by Prometheus; [199] a vehicle with four wheels by the Phrygians, trade by the Phoenicians, viticulture and arboriculture by Eumolpus of Athens, diluting wine with water by Staphylus son of Silenus, oil and oil-mills by Aristaeus of Athens, honey by the same; the ox and the plough by Buzyges of Athens, or, as others say, by Triptolemus; monarchical government by the Egyptians, republican by the Athenians after Theseus. [200] The first tyrant was Phalaris at Agrigentum. Slavery was invented by the Spartans. Capital trials were first carried on in the Areopagus.

The Africans first fought with clubs (called poles) in a war against the Egyptians. Shields were invented by Proetus and Acrisius in making war against each other, or else by Chalcus son of Athamas; the breastplate by Midias of Messene, the helmet, sword and spear by the Spartans, greaves and helmet-plumes by the Carians. [201] The bow and arrow is said by some to have been invented by Scythes son of Jupiter; others say that arrows were invented by Perses son of Perseus, lances by the Aetolians, the spear slung with a thong by Aetolus son of Mars, spears for skirmishing by Tyrrhenus, the javelin by the same, the battle-axe by Penthesilea the Amazon, hunting-spears and among missile-engines the scorpion by Pisaeus, the catapult by the Cretans, the ballista and the sling by the Syrophoenicians, the bronze trumpet by Pysaeus son of Tyrrhenus, testudo formations by Artemon of Clazomenae, [202] among siege-engines the horse (now called the ram) by Epius at Troy; horse-riding by Bellerophon, reins and saddles by Pelethronius, fighting on horseback by the Thessalians called Centaurs, who dwelt along Mount Pelion. The Phrygian race first harnessed pairs, Erichthonius four-in-hands. Military formation, the use of passwords, tokens and sentries were invented by Palamedes in the Trojan War, signalling from watch-towers by Sinon in the same war, truces by Lycaon, treaties by Theseus.

[203] Auguries from birds were invented by Car, from whom Caria got its name; Orpheus added auspices derived from the other animals, Delphus divination from victims, Amphiaraus divination from fire, Tiresias of Thebes divination by inspecting birds' entrails, Amphictyon the interpretation of portents and dreams; Atlans son of Libya, or as others say the Egyptians and others the Assyrians, astronomy, Anaximander of Miletus the use of a globe in astronomy, Aeolus son of Hellen the theory of winds; [204] Amphion music, Pan son of Mercury the pipe and single flute, Midas in Phrygia the slanting flute, Marsyas in the same nation the double flute, Amphion the Lydian modes, the Thracian Thamyras the Dorian, Marsyas of Phrygia the Phrygian, Amphion, or others say Orpheus and others Linus, the harp. Terpander first sang with seven strings, adding three to the original four, Simonides added an eighth, Timotheus a ninth. Thamyris first played the harp without using the voice, Amphion, or according to others Linus, accompanied the harp with singing; Terpander composed songs for harp and voice. Ardalus of Troezen instituted singing to the flute. The Curetes taught dancing in armour, Pyrrhus the Pyrrhic dance; both of there were in Crete. Hexameter verse we owe to the Pythian oracle, [205] but as to the origin of poetry there is much debate, though it is proved to have existed before the Trojan War. Pherecydes of Syros instituted prose composition in the period of King Cyrus, Cadmus of Miletus history; gymnastic games were started by Lycaon in Arcadia, funeral games by Acastus in Iolcus, and subsequently by Theseus at the Isthmus and by Hercules at Olympia; wrestling by Pytheus, the sport of ball-throwing by Gyges of Lydia; painting by the Egyptians, and in Greece by Euchir the kinsman of Daedalus according to Aristotle, but according to Theophrastus by Polygnotus of Athens.

[206] Danaus first came from Egypt to Greece by ship; before that time rafts were used for navigation, having been invented by King Erythras for use between the islands in the Red Sea. Persons are found who think that vessels were devised earlier on the Hellespont by the Mysians and Trojans when they crossed to war against the Thracians. Even now in the British ocean coracles are made of wicker with hide sown round it, and on the Nile canoes are made of papyrus, rushes and reeds. [207] The first voyage made in a long ship is attributed by Philostephanus to Jason, by Hegesias to Parhalus, by Ctesias to Semiramis, and by Archemachus to Aegaeon. Further advances were as follows: 

double-banked galley
[208] quinquereme
galleys of six banks
up to ten banks
up to twelve
up to fifteen
up to thirty
up to forty
the Erythraeans
Aminocles of Corinth
the Carthaginians
the Salaminians
the Syracusans
Alexander the Great
Ptolemy Soter
Demetrius son of Antigonus
Ptolemy Philadelphus
Ptolemy Philopator surnamed Tryphon  

The freight-ship was invented by Hippus of Tyre, the cutter by the Cyrenians, the skiff by the Phoenicians, the yacht by the Rhodians, the yawl by the Cyprians; [209] the Phoenicians invented observing the stars in sailing, the town of Copae invented the oar, the city of Plataea the oar-blade, Icarus sails, Daedalus mast and yard, the Samians or Pericles of Athens the cavalry transport, the Thasians decked longships - previously the marines had fought from the bows and stem only. Pisaeus son of Tyrrenus added beaks, Eupalamus the anchor, Anacharsis the double-fluked anchor, Pericles of Athens grappling-irons and claws, Tiphys the tiller. Minos was the first who fought a battle with a fleet.

Hyperbius son of Mars first killed an animal, Prometheus an ox.

{57.} L   [210] The first of all cases of tacit agreement between the nations was the convention to employ the alphabet of the Ionians.

{58.} L   The practical identity of the old Greek alphabet with the present Latin one will be proved by an ancient Delphic tablet of bronze (at the present day in the Palatium, a gift of the emperors) dedicated to Minerva, with the following inscription: Tithe dedicated by Nausicrates to the Daughter of Zeus ...

{59.} L   [211] The next agreement between nations was in the matter of shaving the beard, but with the Romans this was later. Barbers came to Rome from Sicily in the year A.U.C. 454 {300 BC}, according to Varro being brought there by Publius Titinius Mena; before then the Romans had been unshaved. The second Africanus first introduced a daily shave. The deified Augustus never neglected the razor.

{60.} L   [212] The third agreement was in the observation of the hours (this now being an addition made by theory), the date and inventor of which we have stated in Book II { 2.187 }. This also happened later at Rome: in the Twelve Tables only sunrise and sunset are specified; a few years later noon was also added, the consuls' apparitor announcing it when from the Senate-house he saw the sun between the Rostra and the Graecostasis. When the sun sloped from the Maenian Column to the Prison he announced the last hour, but this only on clear days, down to the First Punic War. [213] We have it on the authority of Fabius Vestalis that the first sundial was erected 11 years before the war with Pyrrhus at the Temple of Quirinus by Lucius Papirius Cursor when dedicating that temple, which had been vowed by his father; but Fabius does not indicate the principle of the sundial's construction or the maker, nor where it was brought from or the name of the writer who is his authority for the statement. [214] Marcus Varro records that the first public sundial was set up on a column along by the Rostra during the First Punic War after Catina in Sicily had been taken by the consul Manius Valerius Messala {263 BC}, and that it was brought from Sicily thirty years later than the traditional date of Papirius's sundial. The lines of this sundial did not agree with the hours, but all the same they followed it for 99 years, till Quintus Marcius Philippus who was censor with Lucius Paulus {164 BC} placed a more carefully designed one next to it, and this gift was received as one of the most welcome of the censor's undertakings. [215] Even then however the hours were uncertain in cloudy weather, until the next lustrum, when Scipio Nasica the colleague of Laenas instituted the first water-clock dividing the hours of the nights and the days equally, and dedicated this timepiece in a roofed building. For so long a period the divisions of daylight had not been marked for the Roman public.

We will now turn to the rest of the animals, beginning with land-animals.

Book 8

Attalus' home page   |   11.09.21   |   Any comments?