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Discourse 6

This webpage reproduces one of the

Dio Chrysostom

published in the Loeb Classical Library, 1932

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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Discourse 8

(Vol. I) Dio Chrysostom

 p285  The Seventh or Euboean Discourse

The seventh Discourse belongs to the later period of Dio's life, as the reference to himself as an old man and the style show. It seems to have been delivered in Rome.

This Discourse falls naturally into two parts: first, the story of the simple hunters in the wilds of Euboea — a very popular one that at an early period was separated from the rest of the Discourse — second, a description of the life Dio would have the poor lead in the cities and the difficulties they have to contend with, and, finally, of the social evils that should be remedied.

The portrayal of the conditions in the country and in the cities of his time is very instructive for the historian who would become acquainted with that period of history and gain some insight into the causes that led to the downfall of the Roman Empire.

 p287  The Euboean Discourse,
or The Hunter

I shall now relate a personal experience of mine; not merely something I have heard from others. Perhaps, indeed, it is quite natural for an old man to be garrulous and reluctant to drop any subject that occurs to him, and possibly this is just as true of the wanderer as of the old man. The reason, I dare say, is that both have had many experiences that they find considerable pleasure in retelling. Anyhow I shall describe the character and manner of life of some people that I met in practically the centre of Greece.

2 It chanced that at the close of the summer season I was crossing from Chios with some fishermen in a very small boat, when such a storm arose that we had great difficulty in reaching the Hollows of Euboea​1 in safety. The crew ran their boat up a rough beach under the cliffs, where it was wrecked, and then went off to a company of to‑morrow2 whose vessel was anchored in the shelter of the spur of rocks near by, and they planned to stay there and work along with them. 3 So I was left alone, and not knowing of any town in which to seek shelter, I wandered aimlessly along the shore  p289 on the chance that I might find some boat sailing by or riding at anchor. I had gone on a considerable distance without seeing anybody when I chanced upon a deer that had just fallen over the cliff and lay in the wash of the breakers, lapped by the waves and still breathing. And soon I thought I heard the barking of dogs above, but not clearly owing to the roar of the sea. 4 On going forward and gaining an elevated position with great difficulty, I saw the dogs baffled, running to and fro, and inferred that their quarry, being hard pressed by them, had jumped over the cliff. Then, soon after, I saw a man, a hunter, to judge by his appearance and dress; he wore a beard on his healthy face, and not simply hair at the back of his head in mean and base fashion, as Homer says the Euboeans did​3 when they went against Troy, mocking and ridiculing them, it seems to me, because, while the other Greeks there made a good appearance, they had hair on only half the head.

5 Now this man hailed me, saying, "Stranger, have you seen a deer running anywhere hereabouts?" And I replied, "Yonder it is this minute, in the surf," and I took him and showed it to him. So he dragged it out of the sea, ripped off the skin with his knife while I lent a helping hand as best I could. Then, after cutting off the hind quarters, he was about to carry them away along with the hide, when he invited me to come along and dine upon the venison with him, adding that his dwelling was not far away. 6 "And then in the morning," he continued, "after you have rested with us, you shall come back to the sea, since the present is no weather for sailing. Yet do not worry about that,"  p291 he continued, "I should be content to have the wind die down after full five days, but that is not likely when the peaks of the Euboean mountains are so capped with clouds as you see them now." And at the same time he asked me whence I came, how I had landed there, and whether the boat had not been wrecked. "It was a very small one," I replied, "belonging to some fishermen who were crossing over, and I, their only passenger, sailed with them on urgent business, 7 but all the same it ran aground and was wrecked." "Well, it could not easily have been otherwise," he replied; "for see, how wild and rugged the part of the island is that faces the sea. These are what they call the Hollows of Euboea, where a ship is doomed if it is driven ashore, and rarely are any of those aboard saved either, unless, of course, like you they sail in a very light craft. But come and have no fear. To‑day you shall rest after your trying experience, but to‑morrow we shall do our best to get you out safely, now that we have come to know you. 8 You look to me like a man from the city, not a sailor or worker on the land, nay, you seem to be suffering from some grievous infirmity of body, to judge by your leanness."

I followed him gladly without fear of any treachery, since I had nothing but a shabby cloak. 9 Now I had often found in other situations like this — for I was continually roaming about — and I certainly did in this one, that poverty is in reality a sacred and inviolable thing and no one wrongs you; yes, much less than they wrong those who carry the herald's wand.  p293 And so I followed without misgiving on this occasion. 10 And it was about five miles to his place.

As we proceeded on our way he told me of his circumstances and how he lived with his wife and children. "There are two of us, stranger," he said, "who live in the same place. Each is married to a sister of the other, and we have children by them, sons and daughters. 11 We live by the chase for the most part and work but a small bit of land. You see, the place does not belong to us: we did not inherit it or get it by our own efforts. Our fathers, though free, were just as poor as we are — hired herdsmen tending the cattle of a wealthy man, one of the residents of the island here, a man who owned many droves of horses and cattle, many flocks, many good fields too and many other possessions together with all these hills. 12 Now when he died and his property was confiscated — they say he was put to death by the emperor​4 for his wealth — they at once drove off his stock to be butchered, and in addition to his stock our own few cattle, and, as for our wages, no one has ever paid them. 13 At that time, then, we​5 stayed of necessity at the place where he happened to have had our cattle and had built certain huts and an enclosure of palings for the calves, not very large or strong — just what would do for the summer, I suppose; for in the winter we grazed our cattle in the flat lands, where we had plenty of pasturage and a good deal of hay put up; but in the summer we would drive them into  p295 the hills. 14 It was in this place especially that our fathers made their steadings; for the place sloped in from both sides, forming a ravine, deep and shaded; through the centre flowed a quiet stream in which the cows and calves could wade with perfect ease; the water was abundant and pure, bubbling up from a spring near by; and in the summer a breeze always blew through the ravine. Then the glades round about were soft and moist, breeding never a gadfly or any other cattle pest. 15 Many very beautiful meadows stretched beneath tall sparse trees, and the whole district abounded in luxuriant vegetation throughout the entire summer, so that the cattle did not range very far. For these reasons they regularly established the herd there.

"Now our fathers remained in the huts at that time, hoping to hire out or find some work, and they lived on the produce of a very small piece of land which they happened to have under cultivation near the cattle-yard. 16 This was quite enough for them as it was well manured. And having nothing more to do with cattle they turned to hunting, sometimes going alone and at other times with dogs; for two of those which had followed the cattle, after going a long distance and not seeing the herdsmen, had left the herd and returned to the place. These at first merely followed as if out for some other purpose than hunting, and though, when he saw wolves, they would give chase for a distance, yet to boars or deer they would pay no attention whatever. 17 But whenever they sighted a bear, whether early or  p297 late, they would rally to the attack, barking and fending him off, as if they were fighting a man. And so, from tasting the blood of boars and deer and often eating their flesh, they changed their habits late in life and learned to like meat instead of barley-bread, gorging themselves with it whenever any game was caught and going hungry otherwise, till they finally gave more attention to the chase, pursued with equal zest every animal they sighted, began to pick up the scent and trails in some way or other, and thus changed from shepherd dogs into a sort of late-trained and rather slow hunting dogs.

18 "Then when winter came on, there was no work in sight for the men whether they came down to town or to a village. So after making their huts tighter and the yard fence closer, they managed to get along and worked the whole of that plot, and the winter hunting proved easier. 19 The tracks were naturally clearer, because printed on the damp ground, and the snow made them visible at a great distance, so that there was no need of a troublesome search, since a high-road, as it were, led to them, and the quarry was sluggish and waited longer. It is possible, besides, to catch hares and gazelles in their lairs. 20 In this way, then, our fathers lived from that time on, no longer having any desire for a different kind of life. And they married us their sons to wives, each giving his own daughter. The two old men died about a year ago, counting the many years they had lived, but being still strong and youthful and vigorous of body. Of the mothers mine is yet living.

 p299  21 "Now the other one of us has never yet been to town, though he is fifty years old, and I only twice — once when I was still a boy, with my father, when we had the cattle; and later on a man came demanding money, under the impression that we had some, and bade us follow him to the city. Now we had no money and swore on oath that we had not, adding that otherwise we would have given it. 22 We entertained him as best we could and gave him two deerskins, and I followed him to the city,​6 for he said it was necessary for one of us to go and explain this matter.

"Now, as on my former trip, I saw many large houses and a strong surrounding wall with a number of lofty square structures​7 on the wall and many boats lying in complete calm at anchor in a lake as it were. 23 There is nothing like that anywhere here where you put in, and that is why the ships are wrecked. Now that is what I saw, and a big crowd herded in together and a tremendous uproar and shouting, so that I thought they were all fighting with one another. Well, he brought me before certain magistrates and said with a laugh, 'This is the man you sent me for. He has nothing but his long hair and a hut of very strong timber.' 24 Then the officials went into the theatre​8 and I with them. The theatre is hollow like a ravine, except that it is not long in two directions but semi-circular, and not natural but built of stone. But  p301 perhaps you are laughing at me for telling you what you know perfectly well.

"Now at first the crowd deliberated on other matters for a considerable while, and they kept up a shouting, at one time in gentle fashion and all of them in cheerful mood, as they applauded certain speakers, but at other times with vehemence and in wrath. 25 This wrath of theirs was something terrible, and they at once frightened the men against whom they raised their voices, so that some of them ran about begging for mercy, while others threw off their cloaks for fear. I too myself was once almost knocked over by the shouting, as though a tidal wave or thunder-storm had suddenly broken over me. 26 And other men would come forward, or stand up where they were, and address the multitude, sometimes using a few words, at other times making long speeches. To some of these they would listen for quite a long time, but at others they were angry as soon as they opened their mouths, and they would not let them so much as cheep.

"But when they finally settled down and there was quiet, they brought me forward. 27 And some cried out, 'This man, sirs, is one of the fellows who have been enjoying the use of our public land for many years, and not only he but his father before him. They graze their cattle on our mountains, farm and hunt, have built many houses, have set out vines, and enjoy many other advantages without paying rent to anybody for the land or ever having received it from the people as a gift. 28 For what, pray, would they ever have received it? And though they occupy what is ours and are wealthy, yet they have  p303 never performed any public service, nor do they pay any tax on what they make, but live free from taxes and public services as though they were benefactors of the city. Yes, and I believe,' he continued, 'that they have never come here before.' 29 I shook my head,​9 and the crowd laughed when they saw. This laughing enraged the speaker and he abused me roundly. Then turning toward the audience once more, he said, 'Well, then, if these doings meet with your approval, we had all better lose no time in looting the public property, some of us taking the city's money, just as certain individuals are even now doing, no doubt, and others squatting upon the land without your consent, if you are going to let these backwoodsmen hold without payment more than 250 acres of the best land, from which you might get three Attic measures​10 of grain per head.'

30 "When I heard this, I laughed as loud as I could. The crowd, however, did not laugh as before but became very noisy, while the fellow grew angry, and giving me a fierce look, said, 'Do you see the deceitfulness and impudence of the scamp and how insolently he mocks me? I have a mind to have him and his partner dragged off to prison; for I understand that there are two ringleaders of this gang that has seized practically all the land in the mountains. 31 Yes, and I do not believe they keep  p305 their hands off the wrecks that are cast up from time to time, living as they do almost above the rocks above Cape Caphereus.​11 Where, otherwise, did they get such valuable fields, nay, rather, entire villages, and such numbers of cattle and draught animals and slaves? 32 Perhaps, too, you note how poor his blouse is and the skin he put on to come here in order to deceive you with the notion that he is evidently a beggar and has nothing. For my part, said he, when I look at him, I am almost frightened, as I fancy I should be if I saw Nauplius​12 come from Caphereus. I believe he flashes mariners a signal from the heights so as to decoy them on to the rocks.' 33 While he said this and much more besides, the crowd grew ugly, while I was sore perplexed and afraid they might do me some mischief.

"Then another person came forward, a good kindly man, to judge from the words he spoke and from his appearance. He first asked the people to be silent, and they became silent, and then in a quiet tone he said that they who tilled the country's idle land and got it into shape did no wrong, but, on the contrary, deserved commendation. 34 They should not be angry at those who built upon public land and planted trees upon it, but at those who injured it. 'At this moment, sirs,' he said, 'almost two-thirds of our land is a wilderness because of neglect and lack of population. I too own many acres, as I imagine  p307 some others do, not only in the mountains but also on the plains, and if anybody would till them, I should not only give him the chance for nothing but gladly pay money besides. 35 For it is plain that they become more valuable to me, and at the same time the sight of land occupied and under cultivation is a pleasing one, while waste lands are not only a useless possession to those who hold them, but very distressing evidence of some misfortune of their owners. 36 Wherefore, I advise you rather to encourage all the other citizens you can to take some of the public land and work it, those who have some capital taking more, and the poorer citizens as much as each is able to handle, that your land may be in use, and the citizens who accept may be free from two very great evils, idleness and poverty. 37 So let these men have it free for ten years, and after that period let them agree to pay a small portion from their produce but nothing from their cattle. If any alien takes up land, let him likewise pay nothing for the first five years, but after that twice as much as the citizens. And let any alien who shall put fifty acres under cultivation be made a citizen, in order to encourage as many as possible.

38 " 'At the present moment even the land just outside the city gates is quite wild and terribly unattractive, as though it were in the depths of a wilderness and not in the suburbs of a city, while most of the land inside the walls is sown or grazed. It is therefore surprising that orators trump up charges against the industrious people of Caphereus in the remote parts of Euboea, and yet hold that the men farming the gymnasium and grazing cattle in  p309 the market-place are doing nothing out of the way. 39 You can doubtless see for yourself that they have made your gymnasium into a ploughed field, so that the Heracles and numerous other statues are hidden by the corn,º some those of heroes and others statues of gods. You see too, day after day, the sheep belonging to this orator invade the market-place at dawn and graze about the council chamber and the executive buildings. Therefore, when strangers first come to our city, they either laugh at it or pity it.' Now on hearing this they burst into a rage against that first speaker in his turn and made a great uproar.

40 " 'Yet though the accuser does such things, he thinks that humble and needy citizens ought to be haled off to prison, so that no one, forsooth, may do any work hereafter, but that those outside the city may live by brigandage and those within by thievery. I move,' he continued, 'that we leave these men in possession of what they themselves have created, provided they pay a moderate tax hereafter, and that we cancel all arrears to date, since they tilled land that had been wild and valueless and gained possession in that way. If, however, they wish to pay a price for their farm, let us sell to them at a cheaper figure than to anybody else.'

41 "When he had thus concluded, that first speaker again spoke in reply, and the two stormed at each other for a long time. But finally I was bidden to say whatever I wished.

42 " 'And what ought I to say?' I asked. 'Reply to what has been said,' cried one from his seat. 'Well then, I declare,' said I, 'that there is not one word of truth in what he has said. And as for  p311 me, sirs,' I continued, 'I thought I was dreaming when he prated about fields and villages and such like. We have no village or horses or asses or cattle. I wish we might possess all the good things he described, that we might not only have given to you but might also belong to the wealthy class ourselves! Yet what we even now have is sufficient for us, and do you take whatever you wish of it. Even if you want all, we shall replace it.' At these words they applauded.

43 "Thereupon the magistrate asked me what we would be able to give to the people, to which I replied, 'Four deer pelts of excellent quality.' Here the majority laughed and the magistrate was vexed at me. 'That is because the bear skins are rough,' I continued, 'and the goat skins are not as good as they. Some are old and some are small. But take these too, if you wish.' Then he was vexed once more and said that I was a downright landloper,​13 44 and I replied, 'Do I again hear mention of lands, and from you? Did I not tell you that we have no lands?'

"He asked next whether we would agree each to give an Attic talent,​14 and I replied, 'We do not weigh our meat, but we will give whatever we have. There is a little salted down, but the rest is smoked and not much inferior to the other. There are sides of bacon and venison and other excellent meats.' 45 Then they did raise an uproar and called me a liar. The man also asked me if we had any grain and about how much. I told him the exact amount.  p313 'Three bushels of wheat,' said I, 'six of barley, and the same amount of millet, but only four quarts of beans, since there were none this year. Now do you take the wheat and the barley,' said I, 'and leave us the millet. But if you need millet, take it too.'

46 " 'And do you not make any wine?' another asked. 'We make it,' I said, 'so that if any one of you comes, we will hand it over, but be sure to bring some kind of wineskin with you, since we haven't any.' 'Now, just how many vines have you?' 'Two,' I replied, 'outside our doors, twenty in the yard, the same number across the river that we set out recently. They are of very fine quality and yield large clusters when the passers‑by leave them alone. 47 But to spare you the trouble of asking about every detail, I will tell you what else we have: eight she-goats, a mulley​15 cow with a very pretty calf, four sickles, four grub hoes, three spears, and each of us owns a hunting knife. As for the crockery — why should one mention that? We have wives too, and children by them. We live in two pretty huts, and we have a third where the grain and the pelts are kept.'

48 " 'Yes by heavens,' said the orator, 'where you bury your money too, I suspect.' 'Well then,' said I, 'come and dig it up, you fool! Who buries money in the ground? It certainly does not grow.' Then everybody laughed, and it was at him, I thought.

" 'That is what we have; and now, if you want everything, we are willing to give it to you voluntarily.  p315 There is no need for you to take it from us by force as though it belonged to foreigners or rogues; 49 for, mark you, we are citizens too of this city, as I used to hear my father say. And once he too came here just when a grant of money was being made, as it happened, and got some too along with the rest. Therefore we are raising our children to be your fellow-citizens; and should you ever need them, they will help you against brigands and foreign foes. Just now there is peace; but if ever such a crisis does arise, you will pray heaven that the majority be like ourselves. For do not imagine that this talker will fight for you then, unless, indeed, it be to scold like a woman. 50 Besides, whenever we catch any game, we will give you a part of the meat and of the skins; only send someone to get them. Then if you bid us raze our huts, we will do so if they trouble you. But you must give us housing here; else how shall we endure the winter's cold? You have many empty houses inside the city walls; one of them will be enough for us. Yet if we choose to live elsewhere than here and thus avoid adding to the congestion caused by so many people being huddled together, that surely is no reason for moving us.

51 " 'Then as to that ghoulish and wicked practice in case of wrecked vessels which the speaker had the hardihood to accuse us of — and I almost forgot to speak of it, although I should have done so at the very start — who among you could possibly believe him? Not to mention the impiety of it, it is impossible to salvage anything at all there. Indeed, all the timber you can find there is the splinters, so very small are the fragments cast up. Besides,  p317 that is the most inaccessible beach in existence. 52 And the oar-blades which I once found cast ashore — why, I nailed them to the sacred oak that grows by the sea. Pray god I may never get or earn any profit like that from human misfortune! Why, I have never made anything out of it, but many is the time I have pitied shipwrecked travellers who have come to my door, taken them into my hut, given them to eat and to drink, helped them in any other way that I could, and accompanied them until they got out of the wilderness. 53 Yet who of them is there who will testify for me now? And I never did that to win a testimonial or gratitude; why, I never knew where the men came from even. I pray that none of you may ever undergo such an experience.'

"While I was thus speaking, a man rose in their midst, and I thought to myself that perhaps he was another of the same sort who was going to slander me, 54 but he said: 'Sirs, for a long time I have been wondering whether I knew this man, but nevertheless was inclined to think that I did not. But now that I have clearly identified him, it seems to me that it would be dreadful, or rather a crime against heaven, for me not to corroborate his statements as far as I can, or express my gratitude in words after having in very deed received the greatest kindness at his hands. 55 I am,' he continued, 'a citizen here, as you are aware, and so is this man,' pointing to his neighbour, who thereupon rose also. 'Two years ago we happened to be sailing in Socles' boat when it was lost off Caphereus and only a handful of us were saved out of a large number. Now some were sheltered by purple-fishers, for a few had money in their wallets; but we who were cast ashore  p319 destitute tramped along a path, hoping to find some shelter among shepherds or herdsmen, for we were in danger of perishing from hunger and thirst. 56 And after much hardship we did finally reach some huts and stopped and hallooed, when this man here came out, brought us in, and made a low fire which he gradually increased. Then he himself rubbed one of us, and his wife the other, with tallow, they had no olive oil. Finally, they poured warm water over us until they brought us around, chilled to the bone as we had been. 57 Then, after making us recline and throwing about us what they had, they put wheaten loaves before us to eat while they themselves ate millet porridge. They also gave us wine to drink, they themselves drinking water, and they roasted venison in abundance, while some of it they boiled. And though we wanted to go away on the morrow, they held us back for three days. 58 Then they escorted us down to the plains and gave us meat when we left them, as well as a very handsome pelt for each of us. And when this man here saw that I was still ill from my trying experience, he put on me a little tunic which he took from his daughter, and she girded a bit of cloth about herself instead. This I gave back when I reached the village. So, next to the gods, we owe our lives to this man especially.'

59 "While he was thus speaking, the people listened with pleasure and showed me their approval, and I recalled it all and cried out, 'Hello, Sotades!' And I approached and kissed him and the other man. However, the people laughed heartily because I kissed them. Then I understood that in the cities people do not kiss one another.

 p321  60 "Then that kind and good man who had spoken in my behalf at the beginning came forward and said, 'I move, sirs, that we invite this man to dine in the town-hall. If he had saved one of our townsfolk in battle by covering him with his shield, would he not have received many large gifts? But now, when he has saved two citizens, and perhaps others who are not here, is he entitled to no honour at all? 61 For the tunic which he stripped from his daughter and gave to his fellow-townsman in distress, let the city give him a tunic and a cloak as an inducement to others to be righteous and to help one another. Further, let it vote that they and their children have the use of the farm free from molestation, and that the man himself be given one hundred drachmas for equipment; and as for this money, I offer it out of my own pocket on behalf of the city.'

62 "For this he was applauded and the motion was carried. The clothes and the money were also brought into the theatre at once. But I was loath to accept, whereupon they said, 'You cannot dine in the skin.' 'Well then,' said I, 'I shall go without dinner to‑day.' However, they put the tunic on me and threw the cloak over my shoulders. Then I wanted to throw my skin on top of all, but they would not let me. 63 The money I absolutely refused and swore that I would not take it. 'But if you are hunting for somebody who will take it,' said I, 'give it to that orator that he may bury it, for he knows all about that evidently.' And from that day nobody has bothered us."

 p323  64 Now he had hardly ended when we were at the huts, and laughing I said, "But you have hidden from your fellow-citizens one thing, the fairest of your possessions." "What is that?" said he. "This garden," I replied, "very pretty indeed with all its vegetables and trees." "There was not any then," he said; "we made it afterwards."

65 Then we entered and feasted the rest of the day, we reclining on boughs and skins that made a high bed and the wife sitting beside her husband. But a daughter of marriageable age served the food and poured us a sweet dark wine to drink; and the boys prepared the meat, helping themselves as they passed it around, so that I could not help deeming these people fortunate and thinking that of all the men that I knew, they lived the happiest lives.​16 66 And yet I knew the homes and tables of rich men, of satraps and kings as well as of private individuals; but then they seemed to me the most wretched of all; and though they had so appeared before, yet I felt this the more strongly as I beheld the poverty and free spirit​17 of the humble cottagers and noted that they lacked naught of the joy of eating and drinking, nay, that even in these things they had, one might almost say, the better of it.

67 We were almost already well enough supplied when that other man entered, accompanied by his son, a prepossessing lad who carried a hare. The latter on entering commenced to blush; and while his father  p325 was welcoming us, he himself kissed the maiden and gave her the hare. The child then ceased serving and sat down beside her mother while the boy served in her stead. 68 "Is she the one," I enquired of my host, "whose tunic you took off and gave to the shipwrecked man?" "No," said he with a smile, "that daughter was married long ago and already has grown‑up children. Her husband is a rich man living in a village." "And do they help you when you need anything?" I enquired. "We do not need anything," replied the wife, 69 "but they get game from us whenever we catch any, and fruit and vegetables, for they have no garden. Last year we borrowed some wheat just for seed, but we repaid them as soon as harvest time was come." "Tell me," said I, "do you intend to marry this girl also to a rich man that she too may lend you wheat?" At this the two blushed, the girl as well as the boy.

70 "She will have a poor man for a husband," said the father, "a hunter like ourselves," and with a smile he glanced at the young man. And I said, "But why do you not give her away at once? Must her husband come from some village or other?" "I have an idea," he replied, "that he is not far off; nay, he is here in this house, and we shall celebrate the marriage when we have picked out a good day." "And how do you determine the good day?" said I. And he replied, "When the moon is not in a quarter;​a the air must be clear too, and the weather fine." 71 And then I said, "Tell me, is he really a good hunter?" "I am," cried the youth; "I can run down a deer and face the charge  p327 of a boar. You shall see to‑morrow, stranger, if you wish it." "And did you catch this hare?" said I. "Yes," he replied, laughing — "with my net during the night, for the sky was very beautiful, and the moon was never so big before." 72 Then the two men laughed, not only the girl's father but his also. As for him, he felt ashamed and became silent.

Then the girl's father said, "Well, my boy, it is not I who am delaying you, but your father is waiting until he can go and buy a victim, for we must sacrifice to the gods." At this point the girl's younger brother interrupted, saying, "Why, this fellow got a victim long ago. It is being fattened in there behind the hut, and a fine animal it is." 73 "Is it really so?" they asked him, and he said "Yes." "And where did you get it?" they enquired. "When we caught the wild sow that had the young ones, they all escaped but one. They ran more swiftly than the hare," he added. "One, however, I hit with a stone, caught, and covered with my leather jerkin. I exchanged it in the village and got a young pig for it. Then I made a sty out behind and raised it." 74 "So that is the reason why your mother would laugh," exclaimed the father, "when I used to wonder on hearing the pig grunt, and you were using the barley so freely." "Well," he replied, "the chestnuts​18 were not enough to fatten her,​19 supposing she had been willing to eat nuts without anything else. But if you wish to  p329 see her, I will go and fetch her in." And they bade him do so. So he and the boys were off at once on the run full of glee. 75 Meanwhile the girl had risen and brought from another hut some sliced sorb-apples, medlars, winter apples, and swelling clusters of fine grapes, and placed them on the table after wiping off the stains from the meat with leaves and putting some clean fern beneath. Then the boys came in laughing and full of fun, leading the pig, 76 and with them followed the young man's mother and two small brothers. They brought white loaves of wheaten bread, boiled eggs in wooden platters, parched chickpeas.

After the woman had greeted her brother and her niece, his daughter, she sat down beside her husband and said, "See, there is the victim which that boy has long been feeding for his wedding day, and everything else is ready on our side. The barley and wheaten flour have been ground; only perhaps we shall need a little more wine. This too we can easily get from the village." 77 And close beside her stood her son, glancing at his future father-in‑law. He smiled at the lad and said, "There is the one who is holding things up. I believe he wants to fatten the pig a bit more." The young man replied, "Why, she is ready to burst with fat." 78 And wishing to help him, I said, "take care that your young man doesn't get thin while the pig gets fat." "Our guest speaks well," said the mother, "for he has already grown thinner than I have ever seen him before; and I noticed a short time ago that he was  p331 wakeful in the night and went out of the hut." "The dogs were barking," the young man interrupted, "and I went out to see." 79 "No, you did not," said she, "but you were walking around distraught. So don't let us permit him to be tortured any longer." And throwing her arms about the girl's mother she kissed her; and the latter, turning to her husband, said, "Let us do as they wish." This they decided to do and said, "Let us have the wedding the day after to‑morrow." They also invited me to stay over, 80 and I did so gladly, at the same time reflecting on the character of weddings and other things among the rich, on the matchmakers, the scrutinies of property and birth, the dowries, the gifts from the bridegroom, the promises and deceptions, the contracts and agreements, and, finally, the wranglings and enmities that often occur at the wedding itself.

81 Now I have not told this long story idly or, as some might perhaps infer, with the desire to spin a yarn, but to present an illustration of the manner of life that I adopted at the beginning and of the life of the poor — an illustration drawn from my own experience for anyone who wishes to consider whether in words and deeds and in social intercourse the poor are at a disadvantage in comparison with the rich on account of their poverty, or in every way have the advantage. 82 And really, when I consider Euripides' words​20 and ask myself whether as a matter  p333 of fact the entertainment of strangers is so difficult for them that they can never welcome or succour anyone in need, I find this by no means to be true of their hospitality. They light a fire more promptly than the rich and guide one on the way without reluctance — indeed, in such matters a sense of self-respect would compel them — and often they share what they have more readily. When will you find a rich man who will give the victim of a shipwreck his wife's or his daughter's purple gown or any article of clothing far cheaper than that: a mantle, for example, or a tunic, though he has thousands of them, or even a cloak from one of his slaves?

83 Homer too illustrates this, for in Eumaeus he has given us a slave and a poor man who can still welcome Odysseus generously with food and a bed, while the suitors in their wealth and insolence share with him but grudgingly even what belongs to others, and this, I think, is just what Odysseus himself is represented as saying to Antinous when he upbraids him for his churlishness.

"Thou wouldst not give a suppliant even salt

In thine own house, — thou who, while sitting here,

Fed at another's table, canst not bear

To give me bread from thy well-loaded board."​21

84 But granted that such meanness on the suitors' part was in accord with their general depravity, yet how was it with Penelope? Though she was an excellent woman, overjoyed to talk with Odysseus and learn about her husband, Homer does not say that  p335 even she gave him a cloak as he sat beside her in a bare tunic, but that she merely promised him one if it turned out that he was telling the truth about Odysseus in saying that he would arrive within the month.​22 85 And afterwards, when he asked for the bow, and the suitors, who could not draw it, were angry at him because he had the hardihood to vie with them in prowess,​23 she urged that it be given to him, adding that of course her promise of marriage could not apply to him; but she promised to give him a tunic, cloak, and shoes, if he succeeded in stretching the bow and shooting through the axes; 86 as though he had to bend the bow of Eurytus and become the enemy of all those young men, and perhaps lose his life at their hands then and there, if he was to receive tunic and shoes, or else must produce Odysseus in person, who had not been seen anywhere for twenty years, and within a stated time at that, with the alternative, in case he could do neither, of departing in the same rags out of the presence of the good and prudent daughter royal of Icarius!

87 Other words of about the same purport Telemachus too addresses to the swineherd regarding Odysseus when he bids the latter to send him to the city as soon as possible​24 that he may beg for alms there, and not to feed him at the steading any longer. And even if this had been agreed upon between them, yet the swineherd feels no surprise at the treatment and its inhumanity, 88 as though it were the regular procedure to deal with needy strangers thus strictly and meanly and to welcome open-heartedly  p337 with gifts and presents only the rich, from whom, of course, the host expected a like return, very much as the present custom is in selecting the recipients of our kindly treatment and preferment; 89 for what seem to be acts of kindliness and favours turn out, when examined rightly, to be loans, and that too at a high rate of interest as a usual thing, if, by heavens, conditions to‑day are not worse than they used to be, just as is the case with every other evil. 90 Furthermore, I could state in regard to the Phaeacians also and their generosity, in case anyone imagines that their behaviour towards Odysseus was neither ungenerous nor unworthy of their wealth, just what motives and reasons induced them to be so open-handed and splendid in their generosity. But what I have said so far about this matter is more than sufficient.

91 It is certainly clear that wealth does no great service to its owners as regards the entertainment of strangers or otherwise. On the contrary, it is more likely to make them stingy and parsimonious, generally speaking, than poverty is. Even if some man of wealth may be found — one perhaps in a million — who is liberal and magnanimous in character, this by no means conclusively proves that the majority do not become worse in this regard than those whose means are limited. 92 A poor man, if he be of strong character, finds the little that he has sufficient both to enable him to regain his health when his body has been attacked by an illness not too severe — when, for example, he is visited by the sort of malady that usually attacks hard-working people whenever they overeat — and also to give  p339 acceptable gifts to strangers when they come — gifts willingly given that do not arouse the recipient's suspicion or give him offence — 93 perhaps not silver bowls, or embroidered robes, or a four-horse chariot, which were the gifts of Helen and Menelaus to Telemachus. For the poor man would be unlikely to have such guests to welcome as satraps or kings, for instance, unless they were very temperate and good men in whose eyes no gift is inadequate which is prompted by affection. But guests that are dissolute and tyrannical they would neither be able, I suppose, to serve acceptably nor, perhaps, would they care to extend such hospitality. 94 For it surely did not turn out any better for Menelaus that he was able to receive the wealthiest prince of Asia as a guest and that nobody else in Sparta was equal to entertaining the son of King Priam. 95 For, mark you, that prince despoiled his home, appropriated his wife as well as his treasures, left the daughter motherless, and sailed away. And after that Menelaus wasted a great deal of time travelling all over Greece bewailing his misfortunes and begging every king in turn to help him. He was forced also to implore his brother to give his daughter​25 to be sacrificed at Aulis.​26 96 Then for ten years he sat fighting in Troy-land, where again both he and his brother kept cajoling the leaders of the army. When this was not done, the soldiers would grow angry and on every occasion would threaten to sail for home. Besides, he endured many hardships and dire perils, after which he wandered about and was able to reach his home only after infinite trouble.

 p341  97 Is it not, then, most unfitting to admire wealth as the poet​27 does and regard it as really worth seeking? He says that its greatest good lies in giving to guests and, when any who are used to luxury come to one's house, being in a position to offer them lodging and set such tokens of hospitality before them as would please them most. 98 And in advancing these views we cite the poets, not to gainsay them idly nor because we are envious for their reputation for wisdom that they have won by their poems; no, it is not for these reasons we covet the honour of showing them to be wrong, but because we think that it is in them especially that we shall find the thought and feeling of men generally, just what the many think about wealth and the other objects of their admiration, and what they consider would be the greatest good derived from each of them. 99 For it is evident that men would not love the poets so passionately nor extol them as wise and good and exponents of the truth if the poetry did not echo their own sentiments nor express their own views. 100 Since, then, it is not possible to take each member of the multitude aside and show him his error or to cross-question everybody in turn by saying, "How is it, sir, that you fear poverty so exceedingly and exalt riches so highly?" and again, "What great profit do you expect to win if you happen to have amassed wealth or, let us say, to have turned merchant or even become a king?" Such a procedure would involve infinite trouble and  p343 is altogether impracticable. 101 Therefore, because we must, let us go to their prophets and spokesmen, the poets, with the conviction that we shall find among them the beliefs of the many clearly put and enshrined in verse;​28 and in truth I do not think that we fall very far short of our object in so doing. 102 And our present procedure, I believe, is the usual one even with men wiser than myself. Indeed, one very great philosopher has expressly contradicted the sentiments contained in these same lines of Euripides,​29 and he is a man whom I think no one would ever accuse of contradicting them and Sophocles'​30 words about wealth in any spirit of captiousness. He objects briefly in the former instance but in more detail in the case of Sophocles, and yet not at great length as we are now doing, since he was not discussing the question ex tempore with an orator's full privilege but was writing in a book.31

103 Now so much for the life of the farmer, the hunter, and the shepherd. Perhaps I have spent more time on this theme than I should have done, but I desired to show in some way or other that poverty is no hopeless impediment to a life and existence befitting free men who are willing to work with their hands, but leads them on to deeds and actions that are far better and more useful and more in accordance with nature than those to which riches are wont to attract most men. 104 Well then, it would now be our duty to consider the life and occupations  p345 of poor men who live in the capital or some other city, and see by what routine of life and what pursuits they will be able to live a really good life, one not inferior to that of men who lend out money at excessive rates of interest and understand very well the calculation of days and months, nor to that of those who own large tenement houses and ships and slaves in great numbers!

105 For the poor of this type suitable work may perhaps be hard to find in the cities, and will need to be supplemented by outside resources when they have to pay house-rent and buy everything they get, not merely clothes, household belongings, and food, but even the wood to supply the daily need for fire, and even any odd sticks, leaves, or other most trifling thing they need at any time, 106 and when they are compelled to pay money for everything but water, since everything is kept under lock and key, and nothing is exposed to the public except, of course, the many expensive things for sale. It will perhaps seem hard for men to subsist under such conditions who have no other possession than their own bodies, especially as we do not advise them to take any kind of work that offers or all kinds indiscriminately from which it is possible to make some money. 107 So perhaps we shall be forced in our discussion to banish the respectable poor from the cities in order to make our cities in reality cities "well-inhabited," as Homer calls them, where only the prosperous dwell, and we shall not allow any free labourer, apparently, within the walls. But what shall we do with all these poor people? Shall we scatter them in settlements in the country as the Athenians are said to have been  p347 spread all over Attica in early times and again later when Peisistratus became tyrant? 108 That mode of life did not prove disadvantageous to the Athenians of that time, nor did it produce a degenerate breed of citizens either, but men in every way better and more temperate than those who later on got their living in the city as ecclesiasts,​32 jurymen, and clerks — a lazy and at the same time ignoble crowd. It will not, therefore, cause any great and dire peril if all these respectable poor shall become by any end and every means rustics, but nevertheless I think that even in the city they will not fail to make a living.

109 But let us see what the variety and nature of the occupations are which they are to follow in order to live in what we believe is the proper way and not be often compelled to turn to something unworthy because they are out of work. The occupations and trades in the city, if all are taken into consideration, are many and of all kinds, and some of them are very profitable for those who engage in them if one thinks of money when he says "profitable." 110 But it is not easy to name them all separately on account of their multitude, and equally because that would be out of place here. Therefore, let this brief criticism and praise of them suffice: All which are injurious to the body by impairing its health or by preventing the maintenance of its adequate strength through their inactive or sedentary character, or which engender in the soul either turpitude or illiberality or, in general, are useless and good for nothing since they owe their origin to  p349 the silly luxury of the cities — these cannot properly be called trades or occupations at all; for Hesiod, a wise man, would never have commended all occupations alike if he had thought that any evil or disgraceful thing was entitled to that name — 111 so where any of these evils, be it what it may, is attached to these activities, no self-respecting and honourable man should himself have anything to do with them or know anything about them or teach them to his sons, for he knows that he will not be what either Hesiod or we mean by "workman" if he engages in any such business, but will incur the shameful reproach of being an idler living on disgraceful gains​33 and hear himself bluntly called sordid, good for nothing, and wicked. 112 But, on the other hand, where the occupations are not unbecoming to those who follow them and create no evil condition in their souls nor injure their health by inducing, among other diseases, physical weakness in particular, sluggishness, and softness on account of the almost complete lack of exercise, and, further, enable one to make a satisfactory living — 113 the men who engage zealously and industriously in any of these will never lack work and a living from it, nor will they give the rich any justification for calling them the "poor class,"​34 as is their wont; on the contrary, they will be rather purveyors to the rich and lack practically nothing that is necessary and useful.

114 Now without describing in detail each and every  p351 occupation, but simply offering a general outline, let us mention in these two classes the kinds we do not approve of, giving our reasons, and the kinds we urge men to undertake without hesitation. Let them pay no heed to those idle objectors who are wont often to sneer obviously not only at a man's occupation when it has nothing at all objectionable in it, but even at that of his parents, when, for instance, his mother was once on occasion someone's hired servant or a harvester of grapes, or was a paid wet-nurse for a motherless child or a rich man's, or when his father was a schoolmaster or a tutor. Let them, I say, feel no shame before such persons but go right ahead. 115 For if they refer to such things, they will simply be mentioning them as indications of poverty, evidently abusing and holding up poverty itself as something evil and unfortunate, and not any of these occupations. Therefore, since we maintain that to be poor is no worse and no more unfortunate than to be rich, and perhaps no less advantageous to many, the sneer at one's occupation ought not to give any greater offence than the sneer at one's poverty. 116 You see, if, without mentioning the thing with which they found fault, they had to bring up and denounce the things it caused from day to day, they would have a great many more and really disgraceful things caused by the possession of wealth to bring up, and not least of all what in Hesiod is adjudged the greatest shame, namely, the charge of idleness, and exclaim, "Sir,

"Never a delver did the gods make thee, nor a ploughman,"​35

 p353  adding, "In vain hast thou hands; soft and tender are they like those of the suitors."

117 Now what I have to say next is, I imagine, apparent to every man and perhaps often remarked — that dyeing and perfumery, along with the dressing of men's and women's hair — nearly the same for both sexes to‑day — and practically all adorning, not only of clothing, but even of the hair and skin by the use of alkanet,​36 white lead, and all kinds of chemicals in the attempt to counterfeit youthfulness make a spurious image of the person, and further, the decorating of the roofs, walls, and floor of houses, now with paints, now with precious stones, here with gold and there with ivory, 118 and, again, with carving of the walls themselves — that as for these occupations, the best thing would be that cities should admit none of them at all, but that for us in our present discussion the next best thing would be to rule that none of our poor should adopt any such trade; for we are at present contending against the rich as if with a chorus,​37 and the contest is not for happiness — that is not the prize set before poverty, or before wealth either, but is the especial reward of virtue alone — no, it is for a certain manner of life and moderation therein.

119 Furthermore, we shall not permit our poor to become tragic or comic actors or creators of immoderate laughter by means of certain mimes, or dancers or chorus-men either. We except, however, the sacred choruses, but not if they represent the  p355 sorrows of Niobe or Thyestes by song or dance. Nor shall the poor become harpers or flute-players contending for victory in the theatres, even if we shall offend certain distinguished cities by so doing, cities such as Smyrna​38a or Chios,​38b for example, and, of course, Argos​39 too, for not permitting the glory of Homer and Agamemnon to be magnified, at least so far as we can help it. 120 Perhaps the Athenians also will have a grievance because they believe that we are disparaging their poets, tragic and comic, when we deprive them of their assistants, claiming that there is nothing good in their calling. It is likely that the Thebans too will be resent­ful, on the ground that indignity is being offered their victory in flute-playing which was awarded them by Greece. 121 They cherished that victory so dearly that when their city had been destroyed — almost as it remains to‑day except for a small part, the Cadmea, which is still inhabited — they cared nothing for the other things that had disappeared, for the many temples, many columns and inscriptions, but the Hermes they hunted out and set up again because the inscription about the contest in flute-playing was engraved upon it.

"Greece awarded to Thebes the victory in playing on flute-pipes."

And now in the middle of the old market-place stands this one statue surrounded by ruins. 122 But we shall have no fear of any of these people nor of those who will charge us with disparaging the things  p357 which the Greeks cherish as most important, but shall declare that all such activities have no place with self-respecting or free men, holding that many evils are due to them, the greatest of which certainly is shamelessness, that overweening pride on the part of the populace, for which arrogance would be a better name.

123 Neither should our poor become auctioneers or proclaimers of rewards for the arrest of thieves or runaways, shouting in the streets and market-place with great vulgarity, or scriveners who draw up contracts and summonses or, in general, documents that have to do with trials and complaints, and claim knowledge of legal forms; nor must they be learned and clever pettifogging lawyers, who pledge their services to all alike for a fee, even to the greatest scoundrels, and undertake to defend unblushingly other men's crimes, and to rage and rant and beg mercy for men who are neither their friends nor kinsmen, though in some cases these advocates bear a high report among their fellow-citizens as most honourable and distinguished men. No, we shall allow none of our poor to adopt such professions but shall leave these to the other sort. 124 For though some of them must of necessity become handcraftsmen, there is no necessity that they should become tongue-craftsmen and law-craftsmen.

Still, if any of the occupations of which I have been speaking, and shall yet speak, seem to have their useful place in our cities as they do in these now  p359 existing, such as perhaps the registering of judgments and contracts, and perhaps certain proclamations, it is not now the place for us to determine how and by whom these needs shall be met with the least harm. 125 For we are not at present mapping out the form of government that would be best, or better than many, but we did set out to discuss poverty and to show that its case is not hopeless, as the majority think, but that it affords many opportunities of making a living that are neither unseemly nor injurious to men who are willing to work with their hands. 126 Indeed, it was with that very premise that we were led to tell that quite lengthy tale at the beginning about life among farmers and hunters, and to speak now about city occupations, defining those that are befitting and not harmful to men who are not to live on the lowest plane,​40 and those which degrade the men who are employed in them.

127 Further, if much that I have said is, in general, serviceable in moulding public policy and assisting in a proper choice, then there is the greater reason for pardoning the length of my discourse, because I have not dragged it out in idle wandering or talk about useless things. For the study of employments and trades and, in general, of the life fitting or otherwise for ordinary people has proved to be, in and of itself, worthy of a great deal of very careful research. 128 The hearer should therefore not be annoyed at digressions even if they do seem excessively long, if only they are not about trivial or unworthy or irrelevant things, since the speaker has not abandoned the real  p361 theme of the whole provided he treats of the matters that are essential and pertinent to philosophy. 129 Probably if we imitated the hunter in this we should not go far astray. When he picks up his first trail and, following it, all at once comes upon another that is clearer and fresher, he does not hesitate to follow up this latter and then, after bagging his game, goes back to the first trail. 130 Neither should we, perhaps, find fault with a man​41 who set out to discuss the just man and justice and then, having mentioned a city for the sake of illustration, expatiated at much greater length on the constitution of a state and did not grow weary until he had enumerated all the variations and the kinds of such organizations, setting forth very clearly and magnificently the features characteristic of each; 131 even though he does find critics here and there who take him to task for the length of his discussion and the time spent upon "the illustration, forsooth!" But if the criticism be that his remarks on the state have no bearing on the matter in hand and that not the least light has been thrown on the subject of investigation which led him into the discussion at the start — for these reasons, if for any, it is not altogether unfair to call him to task. 132 So if we too shall be found to be expounding matters that are not pertinent or germane to the question before us, then we might be found guilty of prolixity. But, strictly speaking, it is not fair on other grounds to commend or to criticize either length or brevity in a discourse.

 p363  Now we must confidently go on and finish our discussion of the other activities of city life, mentioning some of them and leaving others unmentioned and unrecorded.

133 In dealing with brothel-keepers and their trade we must certainly betray no weakness as though something were to be said on both sides, but must sternly forbid them and insist that no one, be he poor or be he rich, shall pursue such a business, thus levying a fee, which all the world condemns as shameful, upon brutality and lust. Such men bring individuals together in union without love and intercourse without affection, and all for the sake of filthy lucre. They must not take hapless women or children, captured in war or else purchased with money, and expose them for shameful ends in dirty booths which are flaunted before the eyes in every part of the city, at the doors of the houses of magistrates and in market-places, near government buildings and temples, 134 in the midst of all that is holiest. Neither barbarian women, I say, nor Greeks — of whom the latter were in former times almost free but now live in bondage utter and complete — shall they put in such shameful constraint, doing a much more evil and unclean business than breeders of horses and of asses carry on, not mating beasts with beasts where both are willing and feel no shame, but mating human beings that do feel shame and revulsion, with lecherous and dissolute men in an ineffectual and fruitless physical union that breeds destruction rather than life. Yes, and they respect no man nor god —  p365 135 not Zeus, the god of family life, not Hera, the goddess of marriage, not the Fates, who bring fulfilment, not Artemis, protectress of the child-bed, not mother Rhea,​42 not the Eileithyiae,​43 who preside over human birth, not Aphrodite, whose name stands for the normal intercourse and union of male and female. 136 No, we must proclaim that neither magistrate nor lawgiver shall allow such merchandising or legalize it, whether our cities are to house a people of the highest virtue or to fall into a second, third, fourth, or any other class, so long as it is in the power of any one of them to prevent such things. 137 But if old customs and diseases that have become entrenched in the course of time fall to the care of our ruler, he shall by no means leave them without attention and correction, but, with an eye to what is practicable, he shall curb and correct them in some way or other. For evils are never wont to remain as they are; they are ever active and advancing to greater wantonness if they meet no compelling check.

138 It is our duty, therefore, to give some heed to this and under no condition to bear this mistreatment of outcast and enslaved creatures with calmness and indifference, not only because all humanity has been held in honour and in equal honour by God, who begat it, having the same marks and tokens to show that it deserves honour, to wit, reason and the knowledge of evil and good, but also because of the following consideration, which we must always remember: that for flagrant wrong fostered by licence it is difficult to set a limit that it will no longer, through fear of the consequences, dare to transgress. Indeed, beginning with practices and  p367 habits that seem trivial and allowable, it acquires a strength and force that are uncontrollable, and no longer stops at anything.

139 Now at this point we must assuredly remember that this adultery committed with outcasts, so evident in our midst and becoming so brazen and unchecked, is to a very great extent paving the way to hidden and secret assaults upon the chastity of women and boys of good family, such crimes being only too boldly committed when modesty is openly trampled upon, and that it was not invented, as some think, to afford security and abstinence from these crimes.

140 Perhaps now someone may say, rather rudely, something like this: "O you wise rulers and lawgivers, who tolerated such practices in the beginning and imagined you had actually discovered some wondrous elixir to produce chastity in our cities, your motive being to keep these open and unbarred brothels from contaminating your barred homes and inner chambers, and keep men who practise their excesses abroad and openly at little cost from turning to your free-born and respected wives with their many bribes and gifts!" For men do grow weary of what is excessively cheap and freely permitted, but pursue in fear and at great expense what is forbidden simply because it is forbidden. 141 I think you will see this more clearly if you just consider. For where men condone even the matter of adultery in a somewhat magnificent fashion and the practice of it finds great and most charitable consideration, where husbands in their simplicity do not notice most things and do  p369 not admit knowledge of some things but suffer the adulterers to be called guests and friends and kinsmen, at times even entertaining these themselves and inviting them to their tables at festivals and sacrifices as, I imagine, they might invite their bosom friends, 142 and display but moderate anger at actions that are most glaring and open — where, I say, these intrigues of the married women are carried on with such an air of respectability, in that community it will not be easy to feel quite sure of the maidenhood of the unmarried girls or ever to be confident that the words of the wedding song sung at the marriage of the girls are truthful and honest. 143 Is it not inevitable that in these cities many things occur which are like the old legends? — omitting, of course, the angry and meddlesome fathers​44 — that a great many persons copy the storied amours of the gods and gold pours down in showers through the roofs​45 (and with little difficulty, since the chambers are not of brass or stone), 144 and yes, by heavens, that silver trickles in no small stream nor into the laps of the maidens alone, but into those of mothers also and nurses and tutors — to say nothing of many other handsome gifts which sometimes enter stealthily through the roof and sometimes openly no doubt at the very bedside! 145 Is it not likely, too, that much occurs in rivers and beside springs which is like those happenings of ancient times that the poets describe? Only perhaps they do not occur in the open publicly, but in homes of truly great felicity,  p371 at costly lodges in parks and city suburbs, in luxurious artificial bowers and in splendid groves; for it is not a question of poor daughters of penniless kings, the kind that carry water and play on beaches beside the rivers, bathing in cool water, or on wide-spreading beaches of the sea; no, they are the wealthy daughters of wealthy parents in princely establishments that possess all these things in private far surpassing anything in public splendour and magnificence.

146 But perhaps they would nevertheless be expecting children to be born in that city, children of the kind that Homer refers to when he mentions Eudorus, son of Hermes and Polydora, and makes use of an euphemism, as I see it, in referring to his birth:

"Virgin's son whom bore Polydora, fair in the chorus."​46

147 I suspect that at Sparta as well some boys of a similar paternity received this appellation, since quite a number are called Parthenians.​47 Consequently, if the majority born in such immoral cities did not perish through utter lack, I imagine, of divine protection, then nothing would save the world from being overrun by demigods. 148 But as it is, some die at birth, while those that do survive live on to old age in obscurity in the status of slaves, since those who gave them being can give them no further support.

Now then, in a city where the girls' condition  p373 is as bad as we have described, 149 what are we to expect the boys to be? What education and training should we expect them to receive? Is there any possibility that this lecherous class would refrain from dishonouring and corrupting the males, making their clear and sufficient limit that set by nature? Or will it not, while it satisfies its lust for women in every conceivable way, find itself grown weary of this pleasure, and then seek some other worse and more lawless form of wantonness? 150 Yes, the seduction of women — especially, one might almost say, of the freeborn and virgins — has been found easy and no task for a man who pursues that kind of game with money; and even against the highly respected wives and daughters of men really respected, the libertine who attacks with the device of Zeus and brings gold in his hands will never fail. 151 But the further developments, I presume, are perfectly evident, since we see so many illustrations. The man whose appetite is insatiate in such things, when he finds there is no scarcity, no resistance, in this field, will have contempt for the easy conquest and scorn for a woman's love, as a thing too readily given — in fact, too utterly feminine — and will turn his assault against the male quarters, eager to befoul the youth who will very soon be magistrates and judges and generals, 152 believing that in them he will find a kind of pleasure difficult and hard to procure. His state is like that of men who are addicted to drinking and wine-bibbing, who after long and steady drinking of unmixed wine, often lose their taste for it and create an artificial thirst by the stimulus of sweatings, salted foods, and condiments.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 The dangerous east coast of the southern part of Euboea, so called because of the great inward bend made by the coastline. A part of the Persian fleet was destroyed there after the battle of Artemisium. See Herod. 8.14, Strabo 10, p445.

2 Men who dredged up the shell-fish from which the purple dye was made.

3 See Iliad 2.536, 542. The Abantes mentioned by Homer were the ancient inhabitants of Euboea.

4 Domitian.

5 The word "we" refers to the two herdsmen left behind after the confiscation, and their families, of one of which the speaker was a member.

6 Carystus or Chalcis is thought of.

7 i.e. towers.

8 Theatres were common all over Greece, and public meetings were generally held in them. Cf. Acts 19, 29 f.

9 Literally, "threw my head up (or back)." With the Greeks this indicated denial or dissent just as shaking the head does with us.

10 The Attic measure or choinix was nearly a quart.

11 A rocky dangerous promontory at the south-east corner of Euboea.

12 King of Euboea. In revenge for the death of his son Palamedes at Troy through the treachery of Odysseus, he lighted beacon fires on the promontory as the Greeks were returning and lured many of their ships to destruction.

13 ἀγροικὸς here really means clownish or boorish, but landloper (tramp) is used to translate it in an attempt to preserve the pun in the Greek.

14 The speaker referred to the silver money talent worth somewhat more than £200 ($1000). The countryman knew the talent only as a weight, about 85 pounds at that time.

15 That is, hornless or polled.

16 The description of the entertainment offered by the humble cottager seems to have been suggested by Plato's Republic 2.372.

17 Both the Greeks and the Romans feared the corrupting influence of riches. They believed that poverty, or rather, humble circumstances, and a free manly spirit went together.

18 The word βάλανος was used not only of the acorn but also of any similar fruit. The sweet chestnut, for example, was called Διὸς βάλανος, Εὐβοῒς (sc. βάλανος), or Εὐβοϊκὸν (sc. κάρυον). See Liddell and Scott.

19 Chestnuts were very plenti­ful in Euboea, as the Greek name for them would indicate, but were said to be hard to digest. See Athenaeus 2, 53D‑54C.º

20 The farmer in humble circumstances says in the Electra 424‑5:

ἔστιν δὲ δὴ τοσαῦτα γ’ ἐν δόμοις ἔτι,

ὥσθ’ ἕν γ’ ἐπ’ ἧμαρ τούσδε πληρῶσαι βορᾶς.

"Yea and within the house is store enough

To satisfy for one day these with meat."

Way in L. C. L.

21 Odyssey 17.455 f. The last line of this quotation is considerably different from that given in the text of the Odyssey.

22 Odyssey 17.549; 19.306 f.

23 Ibid. 21.285 f.

24 Ibid. 17.10 f.

25 Iphigeneia.

26 A harbour in Boeotia where the Greeks assembled before sailing for Troy.

27 The reference seems to be to Euripides' Electra 404 f., where the peasant hesitates as to whether he can entertain Orestes and Pylades suitably. Cf. V.427:

σκοπῶ τὰ χρήμαθ’ ὡς ἔχει μέγα σθένος.

28 And therefore more easily memorized and passed from mouth to mouth as a philosophy of life.

29 Probably Dio is thinking of Cleanthes, a Stoic philosopher, who is said to have been so very poor that he had to work all night to support himself while he studied philosophy. See also Plutarch.

30 Cf. Sophocles frag. 85 in Nauck, Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, 2nd ed.

31 And was therefore restricted.

32 Members of the Athenian popular assembly, which consisted of the whole body of male citizens over eighteen years of age.

33 As we might say, "a parasite living on tainted wealth."

34 Note the word play in the use of ἀπόρους, πορισταί and ἀποροῦντες. ἄπορος, "without means," is the opposite of εὔπορος, "rich," "well-to‑do," but here Dio wants us to think of it as also meaning "not providing" in contrast to ποριστής, "provider." The idle rich are not really εὔποροι, for they provide nothing.

35 Part of a verse from fragment 2 of the Margites, a poem ascribed to Homer, not to Hesiod.

36 A plant, also called anchusa, whose root yields a red dye.

37 Just as chorus contended against chorus, so Dio as spokesman for the poor is contending against the rich.

38a 38b Claimed to be Homer's birthplace.

39 Chief city of Argolis, which was once Agamemnon's country and itself called Argos.

40 As we say, "have the lowest standard of living."

41 The man here referred to is Plato, who in his Republic sets out to determine what justice is, and from this is led on to describe an ideal state founded on justice.

42 She was present at the birth of Leto.

43 Daughters of Hera. See Homer, Il. 11.271.

44 The regular characters in the old tales; cf. the New Comedy.

45 A very similar passage, in comic vein, occurs in Menander's Samia 387 f., where Demeas tries to persuade Niceratus that Zeus is the father of his bastard grandson.

46 Iliad 16.180, but the last word in Homer's verse is Πολυμήλη, not Πολυδώρη, which occurs in verse 175.

47 i.e., sons of parthenoi or virgins. The term was applied to the youths born at Sparta during the Messenian War.

Thayer's Note:

a In setting the date of a wedding according to horary astrology, this is the most basic of precautions: the Sun and the Moon should not be in square aspect; the male and female principles should not be at loggerheads.

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Page updated: 26 Oct 18