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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Deipnosophistae


published in Vol. III
of the Loeb Classical Library edition,

The text is in the public domain.

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(Vol. III) Athenaeus

Book VI
(Part 2 of 5)

 p29  After this Ulpian once more recurred to the thorny places1 in what had been said and asked: "Can we prove that the ancients used silver ware at their dinners, and is the word for platter2 a Greek noun? For Homer said in the Odyssey:3 'Before them, again, the swineherd laid platters of meat.' But Aristophanes of Byzantium maintains4 that the laying of meats on platters is a later custom; he does not know that in other verses5 the poet has said: 'The carver brought and laid platters of meat before them.' I also want to know whether any persons owned a large number of slaves, as the men of our own times do, and whether the form têganon ('frying-pan') is used, and not tagênon only; and let us not drink and eat everything merely to satisfy the belly, like the persons whom we name parasites or flatterers."

In answer to Ulpian Aemilianus said: "As for 'platter,' you have that utensil named also6 in The Thurio-Persians7 of the comic poet Metagenes. And têganon, my good sir, is mentioned thus by Pherecrates in Frills:8 'He said too that he had eaten anchovies au têganon.'9 And the same writer in The Persians:10 '(He told me) to sit down by the frying-pans and light a fire under the rushes.' Philonides in The Buskins:11 'Welcome with kneading-troughs and  p31 frying-pans.' And again:12 'Taking a sniff at the frying-pans.' Eubulus in Orthannes:13a 'The fan stirs up the watch-dogs of Hephaestus, rousing them to fury with the hot vapour from the pan.' And again:13b 'Every pretty woman who is in love resorts thither, and with the frying-pan enjoys her share of luxury.' And in The Titans:14 'The casserole smiles up at me and splutters with barbarian prattle; the fish jump in the middle of the pans.' The verb 'eat-from-the‑pan' is mentioned by Phrynichus in The Tragedians:15 'Pleasant it is to eat from the pan without paying the scot.' And Pherecrates in Ant-Men16 says: 'But you are eating from the pan.' Hegesander of Delphi says17 that the Syracusans call the casserole a têganon (frying-pan'), but the têganon they call a 'dry-pan';18 wherefore, he says, Theodoridas in a certain short poem has: 'Well did the pan (têganon) stew in a boiling swim,' thus calling the casserole a 'pan.' and Ionians, dropping the letter t, call it êganon. Thus Anacreon:19 'He put his hand in the êganon ("pan").'

"Concerning the use of silver utensils, noble Ulpian, I am led to make observation by what Alexis has said in The Refugee:20 'For where  p33 crockery is exposed for cooks to hire.' Down to Macedonian times people at dinner were served from utensils of crockery, as my compatriot Juba says.21 But when the Romans shifted their mode of living in the direction of greater luxury, Cleopatra, who caused the downfall of the Egyptian monarchy, in imitation of the Romans gave up her mode of living. But not being able to change the name, she called a silver or a gold vessel 'crockery' pure and simple, and used to bestow such 'crockery-ware' upon her guests at dinner to take home; and this ware was of the most costly kind;22 for the Rhosic23 ware, which is the most gaily decorated of all, Cleopatra used to spend five minas24 every day. And King Ptolemy25 in the eighth book of his Commentaries, where he discusses Massinissa, the king of Libya, says: 'Dinners were got up in the Roman style and furnished with crockery which was all silver; the tables of the second courses26 he adorned in accordance with Italic customs; all the baskets were of gold, and were in imitation of those made with reed intertwined; but the musicians whom he employed were Greek.' Aristophanes, the comic poet, who is said to have been a native of Naucratis by Heliodorus of Athens in his work On the Acropolis27 (which is in fifteen books), tells in his play Plutus how, at the appearance of the god bearing that name,28 the fish-platters suddenly turned to silver, as did all the other utensils. He says:  p35 'Every vinegar-cruet and casserole and pot has become bread; the worn-out fish-platters, one can see, are of silver, and the lantern all of a sudden has become ivory.' Plato in Envoys:29 'And, as a consequence, Epicrates and Phormisius got a great many bribes from the great king — golden saucers and silver platters.' And Sophron in Mimes of Women30 says: 'With vessels of bronze and vessels of silver the house gleamed.'31

"Philippides, in The Abolition of Money,32 mentions the use of such ware as something vulgar and confined to a few, yet affected by certain newly-rich among the resident foreigners: 'A. But a kind of pity for almost en in the world lies deep in my sought, when I see free men in sore straits, while rogues from the whipping-post eat salt fish worth perhaps only two or three pence from a silver platter weighing a pound, or capers bought for three farthings in a silver bowl weighing fifty drachms. Yet in the old days it was actually hard to discover a (silver) saucer dedicated in a temple. B. Well, that's true still even to‑day. For, if a man dedicates one, another quickly carries it off.' And Alexis in The Scarf,33 introducing a young man who is in love and who displays his wealth to his sweetheart, makes him say this: A. 'And I told my  p37 slaves (since I had brought two from home) to place the cups, cleaned with soda, for all to see. And there was a ladle-cup34 of silver (this, to be sure, weighed two drachms), a gravy-dish weighing perhaps four more, and a small cooler weighing one and two-thirds drachms, of metal thinner than Philippides. B. Why! This was cleverly conceived, for all it was pure boasting.' I, for my part, also know of a citizen of our country,35 a bragging beggar, who, although his total possessions in silver ware amounted to no more than a drachm's weight, yet loudly called to his one and only slave, but one whose names were as innumerable as the sands:36 'Slave! Strombichides! Don't set before us the silver ware we use in winter, but what we use in summer.' A similar character also is the one in the play of Nicostratus entitled Kings.37 It is a swashbuckling soldier, of whether he says: 'There remain a vinegar-cruet and a cooler, of metal thinner than the texture of his purple cloak.' For they used sometimes to hammer out silver even in those days to the likeness of a membrane. Antiphanes in Lemnian Women38 says: 'A three-legged table was set before us which held — O ye worshipful gods! — a nice flat-cake and honey in a silver bowl.' And the parodist Sopater in  p39 Orestes:39 'A silver platter containing a stale sheat-fish.' In the play entitled Lentil-Soup40 he also says: 'Why! At his meals he has a silver vinegar-cruet, with figures of serpents in high relief — the kind which thibron, son of Tantalus, also acquired once on a time, a man who was softly out-talented of his talents.'41 Again, Theopompus of Chios in his Counsels to Alexander42 discusses his fellow-citizen Theocritus and says: 'He also drinks from vessels of silver and gold and makes use of other similar utensils at the table — he, of all men, who earlier in life not only never had any silver-ware from which to drink, but he had no bronze ware either, only earthenware, and that, too, sometimes chipped.' And Diphilus in The Painter:43 'A choice luncheon came dancing on,44 composed of everything novel or much desired. There were all kinds of shell-fish, a cohort of limpets was drawn up alongside a heap of broiled meats rushed at us from the pan, and spiced drinks to wash them down, in silver mazers.' Philemon in The Doctor:45 'And a knapsack full of silverware.' Menander in The Self-Tormentor:46 'A bath, serving-maids, . . . silverware.' Also in  p41 Hymnis:47 'But I have come for the purpose of getting the silverware.' Lysias, in the speech On the Golden Tripod,48 if it be genuine: 'There remained silver ware and gold ware to be given up.' But those who insist on pure Greek assert that he ought to have said 'silver ornament' and 'gold ornament.' "

after Aemilianus had concluded these many remarks,49 Pontianus said: "as a matter of fact, gold was really very scarce in Greece in ancient times, and the silver to be found in the mines was not considerable. Duris of Samos, therefore, says50 that Philip, the father of King Alexander the Great, always kept the small gold saucer which he owned lying under his pillow. Indeed, the golden ewe-lamb of Atreus, which caused eclipses of the sun, the downfall of monarchs, and what is more, provided most of the themes of tragedy,51 is said by Herodorus of Heracleia52 to have been a silver saucer which had a golden lamb in the centre. Anaximenes of Lampsacus, in the work entitled First Inquiries,53 says that the necklace of Eriphyle became famous merely because gold was at that time rare among the Greeks; indeed, it was even unusual to see a silver drinking-cup in those days. But after the seizure of Delphi by the Phocians,54 all such things as that took on abundance. Even those who were reputed to be very rich used to drink from bronze cups, and they  p43 called the receptacles for these 'bronze-boxes.' And so Herodotus55 says that the priests of the Egyptians drank from bronze cups, and that once, when their kings were offering sacrifice56 together, not enough silver cups to be given to all could be found; at any rate, Psammetichus, being younger than all the other kings, poured his libation from a bronze cup. Be that as it may, when the Pythian shrine was looted by the Phocian usurpers, gold flamed up everywhere among the Greeks, and silver also came romping in. Later, when the all-highest Alexander brought away for his own uses the treasures of Asia the sun of 'wealth, with far-flung might,' as Pindar57 has it, verily rose. Now the votive offerings, also, of silver and gold at Delphi, had been dedicated in the first instance by Gyges, who was king of Lydia; and before his reign, the god at Delphi had no silver, much less gold, as Phaenias of Eresus58 tells us, and Theopompus in the fortieth book of his History of Philip. For these authorities record that the Pythian shrine was adorned by Gyges and his successor Croesus, and after them by Gleon and Hieron, the Sicilian Greeks. The former dedicated a tripod and a Victory made of gold about the time when ser was making his invasion of Greece, the latter dedicated similar offerings. The words of Theopompus are as follows:59 'For in ancient times the sacred precinct was adorned with bronze offerings which were not statues, but cauldrons and tripods made of bronze. Now the Lacedaemonians, desiring to gild the face  p45 of the Apollo of Amyclae, but not finding any gold in Greece, sent to the oracle of the god and asked the god from whom they should purchase gold. And he returned answer to them that they should go and buy it from Croesus the Lydian. And so they went and bought it from Croesus. As for Hieron of Syracuse, he desired to dedicate to the god the tripod and the Victory of refined gold; for a long time he was puzzled to know where to get it, and finally sent messengers to search for it in Greece, who at last came to Corinth, and on investigation found it in the house of the Corinthian Architeles. He had been buying up small amounts for a long time, and had a large store. Well, he sold to Hieron's agents all that they wanted, and then, filling his hand with as much as it could hold, he added that as a present to them. In return for this Hieron sent from Sicily a shipload of grain and many other gifts.' cPhaenias records the same facts in his work on The Tyrants of Sicily,60 that the ancient votive offerings were of bronze, whether tripods, or cauldrons, or daggers; and on one of these, he says, is the inscription: 'Behold me; for verily I was in Ilium's broad tower, what time we fought for Helen with the beautiful tresses; and Antenor's son, lordly Helicaon, carried me. But to‑day the sacred soil of Leto's son holds me in its keeping.' On the tripod, which was one of the prizes offered at the games in honour of Patroclus, was inscribed" 'A bronze tripod am I, dedicated as an offering at  p47 Pytho,61 and Achilles, swift of foot staked me in honour of Patroclus. And Tydeus's son, Diomedes good at the cry,62 made offering of me after his victory with race horses beside the broad Hellespont.'63

"Ephorus (or his son Demophilus), speaking of the shrine at Delphi in the thirtieth book of his Histories,64 says: 'Not only did Onomarchus, Phaÿllus, and Phalaecus convey away all the possessions of the god, but to cap all this, their wives took the jewelry of Eriphyle, which Alcmeon had dedicated in Delphi at the god's command, and also the necklace of Helen, which Menelaus had dedicated. For the god had given an oracle to both; to Alcmeon, when he asked what he might be relieved of his madness, he had said: "A precious boon thou askest of me, surcease from madness. Do thou also bring unto me a precious offering, wherewith thy mother once caused Amphiaraus to be hidden beneath the earth, horses and all."65 To Menelaus, who asked how he might punish Alexander:66 "Bring the jewels, all of gold, which thou takest from thy wife's neck, and which Cypris once gave to Helen to be a great joy. Thus shall Alexander pay unto thee retribution most hateful." Now it happened that the women fell to quarrelling over this jewelry, to see which of them should have which. And when lots were drawn for the division, one woman, of austere and morose mode of life, and full of solemnity, won eriphyle's necklace, while the other, who was exceedingly beautiful as well as  p49 dissolute, won Helen's. The latter fell in love with a young man from Epeirus and eloped with him, but the other got up a plot to kill her husband.'67

"The divine Plato68 and Lycurgus69 the Spartan not only would not allow anything whatsoever of a luxurious nature to be imported into their states, but they prohibited even silver and gold as well; they believed that of the materials obtained from mines, iron and copper were sufficient, and excluded the other metals as tending to injure States which had even vigorous constitutions. But the Stoic Zeno, while he made an exception of the legitimate and honourable use of money, nevertheless placed it in all other respects in the category of the 'indifferent,'70 and discouraged both the pursuit and the avoidance of it, ordaining that one should make use of simplicity or superfluity71 in a purposeful manner. Zeno's intention in this was that men should maintain an attitude of the soul which evinces neither fear nor wonder72 toward things which are neither honourable nor dishonourable (per se), and so may adapt themselves in general to the things which are 'according to nature';73 on the other hand, having no far whatever of anything, men should abstain from what is opposed to nature through reason, and not through fear. For nature has not excluded from men's environment any of the things aforesaid,74 but has  p51 created underground veins of them, involving laborious and difficult toil, in order that persons who are eager for them may go after their acquisition in pain, and that not merely those who work in mines, but also those who amass the metals when mined, may pursue with infinite trouble this great wealth so universally admired. DBy way of providing a sample, to be sure, there are places where these kinds of metal are found on the surface, since, in remote corners of the world, ordinary brooks carry down grains of gold which women or men of feeble body extract by rubbing and sifting with the sand, and after washing it they carry it to the melting-pot. This is the custom among the Helvetians, as my fellow-countryman Poseidonius75 says, and among some other Celts. Again, the mountains which used to be called Rhipaean, then later named Olbian, and to‑day Alps, which are in Celtic land, Eoozed silver76 whenever a forest fire broke out spontaneously. Nevertheless, by far the greatest quantity of this metal is found 'by delvings deep and painful,' to quote Demetrius of Phalerum,77 'since avarice hopes to drag out of earth's recesses Pluto78 himself.' By way of jest, indeed, he declares that men often lavish what they plainly have for the sake of what is uncertain; they fail to get what they expected, but let fall what they had, meeting with misfortune in a kind of conundrum.79 Although the Lacedaemonians, as Poseidonius also records, were forbidden  p53 by custom from importing into Sparta or acquiring either silver or gold, they none the less acquired it, but they deposited it for safe keeping with their neighbours the Arcadians. They then proceeded to make enemies of them where once they were friends, in order that through this enmity their disobedience might pass without investigation. It is recorded, to be sure, that the gold and silver which had previously been in Lacedaemon was dedicated to the Apollo of Delphi, but Lysander brought it into the city for public use, and so became the author of many evils. nnnThere is a story, at any rate, that Gylippus, the liberator of Syracuse,80 starved himself to death because he had been convicted by the Ephors of having embezzled some of the funds brought in be by Lysander. It was not easy for a mere mortal to regard as of small value the gold which had been dedicated to the god and bestowed as an ornament and possession of the people. Among the Celts, the tribe called Scordistae, though they refrain from importing gold into their own country, nevertheless do not pass silver by when they pillage and outrage other people's lands. This tribe is a remnant of the Celts who attacked the Delphic oracle under Brennus, but a leader named Bathanattus removed them to the regions round the Danube; from him also the road by which they retreated is called Bathanattia, and they call his descendants Bathanatti to this very day. They also eschew gold and do not bring it into their native towns, because through it they had undergone many terrible trials; but they use silver, and for its sake commit many terrible acts.  p55 And yet surely they ought not to have banished that class of metal so sacrilegiously stolen, but rather the impiety which had committed the sacrilege. For if they had not brought silver into their country any more than gold, then they would sin with respect to bronze and iron; or, again, if even these were not found among them, then they would be continually exercising their craze for war in order to steal food and drink and other necessities."81

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 i.e. difficult questions, cf. 97D.

2 jjj, cf. 227B, note d.

3 XVI.49.

4 p31 Nauck.

5 Od. I.141.

6 Other examples have probably been lost at this point.

7 Kock I.707. The colonists at Thurii, in southern Italy, were noted for their luxury, which caused dtm to be compared with the Persians.

8 Kock I.173.

9 i.e., "fried."

10 Kock I.182.

11 Kock I.255; see crit. note.

12 Kock I.255.

13a 13b Kock II.190‑1; but cf. 108B.

14 Kock II.203; cf. 227D.

15 Kock I.384.

16 Kock I.181.

17 F. H. G. IV.420.

18 The têganon was used for frying, the lopas ("casserole"), for stewing.

19 P. L. G.4 frag. 26.

20 Kock II.391, cf. 164F.

21 F. H. G. III.472.

22 See the fuller account 148A.

23 From Rhosus, a Syrian seaport.

24 About £20, or $100.

25 Ptolemy VII, F. H. G. III.187.

26 The usual expression for "dessert" was "second tables."

27 F. H. G. IV.425.

28 Plutus, or Wealth; Aristoph. Plut. 812 ff.

29 Kock I.633. The reference is to a legation sent to the Persian king in 393 B.C., out of which arose charges of corruption against Epicrates. See Lysias, Or. 27, Athen. 251A‑B, 424A.

30 Kaibel 159.

31 Or, "swarmed." See critical note.

32 Kock III.303.

33 Kock II.297. Cf. Athen. 502F.

34 The jjj had a single handle rising high above the brim, and was used for ladling wine.

35 North Africa. The following account seems to contain words borrowed from another play of Alexis. See crit. note.

36 A comic compound. See Athen. 671A, and cf. Aristoph. Ach. 3 jjj.

37 Kock II.222. The character speaking seems to be describeing all that is left of the soldier's property; but the text is doubted. See critical note.

38 Kock II.70.

39 Kaibel 195.

40 Kaibel 196.

41 Or, adopting the reading in C: "a soft man was out-tantalized of his talents." Thibron murdered Harpalus and took his property, but was afterwards killed himself. See Arrian in Phot Bibl. 70 A10. There is also an allusion to the proverb jjj, "Tantalus's talents grow tantalizingly."

42 F. H. G. I.325.

43 Kock II.555.

44 Cf. Athen. 231D, and 300C jjj, "came sailing in after."

45 Kock II.487.

46 Kock III.42; Menander's first play, translated by Terence.

47 Kock III.136; Hymnis is the name of an heatera.

48 Frag. 56 Thalheim: the point in the criticism is that jjj and jjj suggest only plated ware.

49 Beginning at 228D.

50 F. H. G. II.470; cf. Athen. 153C.

51 The story of the quarrel over this lamb between the brothers Atreus and Thyestes, the cannibal "Thyestean meal" at which the sun in horror moved out of its orbit (Eurip. Iph. Taur. 192 ff.), is too well known to require repetition. Cf. Athen. 242F, Pausanias II.18.

52 F. H. G. II.41.

53 Frag. 1 Müller.

54 At the outbreak of the "Sacred War," 355 B.C. The names of the leaders, called jjj below, are given at 232C.

55 II.151, which should be compared for discrepancies.

56 Really a libation; hence the use of the word jjj, saucer-shaped cups. Psammetichus used his helmet.

57 Pyth. V.1.

58 F. H. G. II.297.

59 Ibid. I.314.

60 F. H. G. II.297.

61 Ancient and poetic name of Delphi.

62 See 177C, note c (Vol. II, p328).

63 See 41B.

64 F. H. G. I.275.

65 Eriphyle was bribed by the necklace to reveal the hiding-place of her husband Amphiaraus, who did not wish to join the expedition against Thebes. Driving away after the defeat and death of his friends, he and his chariot were swallowed up in the earth at Oropus. Cf. 222B, note b.

66 Paris.

67 This story is one of the earliest dealing with the folklore of lucky and unlucky jewels.

68 Laws 742A: a certain amount of gold and silver is to be kept in reserve by the magistrates for foreign trade, etc.

69 Cf. Xen. Resp. Laced. 7.6.

70 A technical term applied by the Stoics to things neither good nor bad per se. Cf. Cicero, De fin. III.16.

71 Or, following Schweighäuser's reading (see critical note), "make use of plain and simple things." But the wise man adapts himself to both conditions, simplicity or superfluity, in realizeing his mission; jjj often has a disjunctive force.

72 The principle of nil admirari, seen in Aristotle's jjj (magnanimus, Eth. Nic. 1125 A2) and in the North American Indian.

73 Cicero's secundum naturam, a cant phrase of philosophy after Plato.

74 The "indifferent" things, such as wealth.

75 F. H. G. III.273.

76 This notion is said to be held by the inhabitants of the Pyrenees to‑day.

77 See Strabo III.147.

78 Here identified, as often in late Greek, with Plutus.

79 See Homeri vita Herodotea 35; the conundrum is, jjj, "what we caught we left behind, what we failed to catch we brought with us," of a louse.

80 By the defeat of the Athenian expedition, 413 B.C.

81 Here ends the citation from Poseidonius, begun at 233F.

Page updated: 21 Aug 10