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Discourse 76

This webpage reproduces one of the
Discourses

by
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.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!


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Discourse 79

(Vol. V) Dio Chrysostom
Discourses

p258 The Seventy-seventh/eighth Discourse: On Envy

In enumerating the eighty items which he found in his copy of Dio, Photius lists next in order after Or. 76 two speeches entitled περὶ φθόνου. Some support is given Photius in that connexion by our manuscripts, for UB place at the beginning of the document before us the heading περὶ φθόνου α, and, to introduce § 15, a second heading, περὶ φθόνου β, while PH have preserved for us only §§ 1‑14. These facts account for the double number attached to the present Discourse in editions of our author. How it came to be viewed as two separate documents is difficult to understand, for both parts deal with the same theme, the second part follows naturally upon the first, and there is no perceptible break between them. To be sure, dialogue predominates in the first part, while in the second there is almost unbroken exposition, but that is a phenomenon noticed in other specimens of Dio's teaching.

Arnim assigns this Discourse to the period of Dio's exile and regards it as a trustworthy and significant illustration of the way in which at that period he sometimes imparted instruction. The dialogue begins abruptly, the opening words revealing that the discussion is already under way. Almost immediately Dio's partner calls attention to the presence of a large company of listeners, who might find a detailed discussion irksome. Dio counters by asking if they have not assembled for the express purpose of listening to "wise words and about wise words," and he proceeds to test the sincerity of their interest by continuing the argument. But by the time we reach § 9 we find that — possibly because he has taken to heart the warning about his audience — he begins to abandon dialectic and to launch forth into rather continuous exposition. One is reminded of the Borysthenitic p259Discourse (Or. 36), in which we are told that a large crowd has assembled to hear their visitor, and Dio, after a preliminary skirmish with the young Callistratus, directs his further remarks to his audience at large. The setting of our present Discourse cannot be determined with precision, but that it was delivered in some large city may be inferred from § 8. Furthermore, the size of the audience and the reference (§ 15) to a discussion which had taken place the day preceding suggest that Dio had been in residence long enough to have attracted some attention.

p261 The Seventy-seventh/eighth Discourse:
On Envy

Dio. Is it really for these and similar reasons that Hesiod came to be regarded as a wise man among the Greeks and by no means unworthy of that reputation, as being one who composed and chanted his poems, not by human art, but because he had held converse with the Muses and had become a pupil of those very beings?1 Whence it inevitably follows that whatever entered his mind he also expressed with both music and wisdom and in no instance without a purpose, as is clearly illustrated by the verse I have in mind.

Interlocutor. What verse?

Dio.

Both potter at potter doth rage and joiner at joiner.2

2 Int. Many other verses of Hesiod's will be seen to have been well expressed about both men and gods, and, I may almost add, about more important matters than the sort just mentioned; yet here too, no doubt, he has expressed himself very truthfully as well as with experience of human nature.

Dio. Shall we, then, consider them more carefully?

Int. Why, how will so large a gathering bear with us if we discuss such matters?

p263 Dio. Why not; have they not come to hear wise words and about wise words?

Int. They would say so, it seems to me.

Dio. But they do not regard Hesiod as commonplace and of small account, do they?

Int. By no means.

Dio. Well, is it not useful for them to hear about envy and jealousy, and who those are who are envious and jealous of one another, and for what reasons?

Int. Of course, most useful of all.

3 Dio. Then it is useful also to test the patience of the gentlemen without delay. Well now, does Hesiod have any other reason for saying that these men of his are envious and ill-disposed toward one another than because each would make less profit from his occupation, whatever that occupation may be, if there were many of a similar occupation?

Int. Why, what other reason could it be?

Dio. Then, if it is profitable for a potter that there should be no other potter in the same city or village, is this not profitable for a butcher, to the end that he may have the opportunity to sell whatever kind of meat he has to those who need it, even if by chance he has bought a very lean or oldish carcass?

Int. Evidently it is profitable for a butcher too.

4 Dio. Well then, is it not preferable for a dyer to ply his trade as a dyer all by himself rather than in competition with other craftsmen, so that he may be able to sell his dyes, of whatever quality they may be, to the women? For they will then be satisfied to buy dyes even slightly better than the kind than they are themselves accustomed to use for dyeing on their p265farms, dyes picked up at random, and they will not demand fast colours and royal purples.

Int. Of course they will not.

Dio. Well, how about a brothel-keeper? Is it not more profitable and better with a view to his earnings that he alone should have this reproach and alone be called vile names rather than in company with others, alike whether supporting and training that kind of cattle in the city or taking to the road and dragging his stock about to the congress at Thermopylae3 and to the other great festive gatherings as well?

Int. Indeed I am quite sure that the brothel-keeper would pray that fellow artists might be very scarce.

5 Dio. Then, was it about all, that is, all who are engaged in the same line of business, that he was making an assumption so sweeping, believing that all are detrimental to one another and a hindrance in the gaining of their living?

Int. Yes, he meant all, most likely.

Dio. Aye, it was not like him, I suppose, to take them up one by one. For certainly in other matters it is his custom to treat of the whole topic by means of one or two examples. For instance, when he says that a man would not even lose an ox except for the depravity of his neighbour,4 he surely does not mean that, while a bad neighbor would destroy an ox or condone the crime in others, he would not steal a sheep, provided he could escape detection, or one of the fine goats which yield abundant milk and bear twins; nay, manifestly he speaks to those who read p267his poems as to intelligent persons. 6 Are we, then, putting it concisely, to say that the poet, speaking thus briefly, refers to all who belong to the same craft as not loving one another and not benefiting one another?

Int. Most assuredly.

Dio. Well now, in Heaven's name, is seafaring a craft, or would it receive that label in any degree less than the craft of the potter or of the butcher?

Int. Not less, I suppose.

Dio. Then in a large ship with many sails and a large cargo and a crowd of passengers would a single sailor be successful, and would it be to his advantage to have no other sailor on board, be his knowledge of nautical affairs either greater or less than his own; and, on the other hand, if there are many of them, will they be detrimental to one another and harmful, and on that account on a ship do the majority of the sailors hate each other?

7 Int. This matter of the sailors is a different story. Yet at any rate a pilot, I fancy, would not enjoy seeing another pilot sailing with him.

Dio. When there is a violent storm and the pilot cannot control each of his two rudders because of old age or the violence of the sea, even at such a time does he not like another pilot or pray that the one to relieve him may make his appearance; or, again, when he needs to sleep, having been without sleep for many nights and days opening, even in such circumstances too does he feel the same hatred, and does he consider it his loss if a second pilot is on board?

p269 Int. Perhaps he would not hate him then; how could he? Still, we are not speaking of a sailor's craft or of nautical affairs either.

8 Dio. Very well. The physician, at any rate, practises his healing art on land and has a profession not inferior to that of the joiners.

Int. Well, what of that?

Dio. Do you really suppose he would like to be the only one acquainted with his art in a city as large as this, particularly if many are ill?

Int. What is to prevent his wishing to be the only one? For though for everybody else the situation may be worse, since they cannot all be treated by a single physician, still his work is prized more highly under these conditions. Nor can one tell the amount and the number of the fees he might take in if he, single-handed in the midst of so many sick, were able to provide treatment.

Dio. But I am not speaking to you of a physician who is crazy.

9 Int. What! Do you consider it the mark of insanity in a man to wish to be very highly prized and to amass great wealth?

Dio. Yes, if when he himself is a victim of lethargic fever or has an attack of inflammation of the brain he is delighted that he has no one to cure him and give him a potion of mandragora5 to drink or some other healthful drug, his purpose being, forsooth, to be the only one to get the fees and honours in the city. But if, then, besides himself, his children also and his wife and his friends should be ill, all dangerously ill, would he even then pray that no other physician be found to come to his rescue; and if p271one does make his appearance, is the physician likely, as Hesiod puts it, to rage and to regard as an enemy his own saviour and the saviour of those dearest to him?

10 Again, suppose there should occur some such thing as once befell the Egyptian physicians. You see, they tried to cure Darius the Persian — for in falling from his horse his ankle bone happened to slip out of place — and they were unable by means of their own art to correct the injury, but, instead, they brought upon him insomnia and awful pains by pulling the joint and trying to force it into place. So Darius gave orders to keep these men in prison, intending that they should be tortured to death. But learning that among his captives there was a certain Greek who endeavoured to heal people, summoning him in desperation he ordered him to help him if he could. 11 Now the man was Democedes of Croton, who was considered the ablest of the Greek physicians of that day. And he did immediately cause him to fall asleep, and then by means of poultices and fomentations and so forth within a few days he made him sound and well. But when Darius bade him take as reward anything he pleased, he besought him to release the physicians. And, indeed, they were released, because Democedes had requested it.6 Now I ask you whether in such circumstances they were jealous of Democedes and regarded him as an enemy, as Hesiod says is true with the potters or the joiners, because they believed it to be to their advantage if no other physician turned up and cured p273the king, or whether they felt a strong affection for Democedes and were grateful to him.

Int. It would be reasonable to suppose they were grateful.

12 Dio. Again, there are corselet-makers in the cities and helmet-makers and wall-builders and spear-polishers and many others; whether, therefore, it is to their advantage that only one in each city should be a worker at each craft rather than enough to do the work is a matter I would gladly learn. For it is clear that, if enemies attack at a time when the walls have not been completed and not all the citizens have been equipped with arms, then they would be forced to hazard all without arms and walls. 13 Therefore, if the city were taken, though possibly these craftsmen might escape with their lives, still, taken captive and in chains, they would work for the foe without pay and at forced labour, all because previously they had lived pampered lives and sold their corselets and helmets and spears at an excessive price, and they would recognize that it was not right nor for their own good for a craftsman to be jealous or angry because of his craft, whether it was blacksmith against blacksmith or joiner against joiner, and that it was not more profitable or better for him to be the only worker at his craft than to have a few fellow workers.

14 Well then, for the others, I dare say, what Hesiod says they desire is not always preferable, but only for the potters and butchers and dyers and brothel-keepers. Then jealousy and envy and the desire that no one else shall ply the same trade, whether it be that of the butcher or the dyer or the potter, are even still more suitable for the brothel-keepers p275than for physicians and pilots or for those who are engaged in any other more serious pursuit.

Very good. But if for pilots and physicians and those just mentioned it is not better to live where there is a shortage of their fellow craftsmen, can it be that for men of prudence and wisdom it is better and more profitable to find themselves without associates?

Int. By no means.

15 Dio. Yes, because with the man of intelligence and benevolence, in addition to his being magnanimous and inoffensive, in addition to his knowing that virtue is beneficial to him, both his own virtue and that of his neighbours, and in addition to the unlikelihood that any one, even of the commoner sort, would ever be jealous one toward another regarding these things which are the common blessings of all mankind — in addition, I say to all this, of the other things which are the occasion of envy and reciprocal ill-will among the masses, not only does he not admire a single one, but he does not consider any to deserve serious regard, just as yesterday we were saying with reference to wealth. 16 Consequently, neither would he envy any one gold or silver or cattle or house or any other thing such as we were speaking of — as another poet says, not expressing his own private sentiment but expounding the opinion of mankind,

The things whereby men live at ease and gain

The epithet of affluent,7

his idea being that they merely are called affluent, but are not truly so.

17 Very well; then we are agreed, the high-minded, perfect man is above material wealth; but in the p277matter of reputation would he perhaps quarrel with and envy those whom he sees more highly honoured by the crowd and winning greater plaudits? or shall we say that he is not unaware that fame is the praise bestowed by the masses; but if the masses, evidently the unintelligent?

Int. By no means is it likely that he is ignorant of that.

18 Dio. Well then, do you believe that a good flautist takes pleasure in his skill and is proud when praised by unmusical and unskilled persons, and that, if youthful swineherds and shepherds crowding around him express their admiration and applaud him, he is elated over this thing itself and feels that praise from those persons is worth everything? Why, the Theban flautist made it plain that he did not pay very much attention either to the audience in the theatre or to the judges, inexperienced in flute-playing as they were — and that, too, although he was contending for a prize and victory — but for all that, he did not venture to depart even slightly from the proper rhythm, but he said that he was piping for himself and the Muses. What then! 19 Do you suppose that Orpheus, the son of the Muse — if the tale about him is true — would rejoice more when the birds flew down to him as he sang and the wild beasts were entranced by his voice and stood by tamely and quietly every time he began to make melody, and when, moreover, the trees came toward him with their fruit and flowers, and when the stones moved and came together, so that great cairns of stones were collected near him — do you suppose, I say, that at the sight of these doings he was delighted and proud, believing that he had reached p279the pinnacle of musical success, more than if his mother Calliopê had praised his playing the cithara and had stroked his head and said that he was fairly competent in music and very skilful in the fine points of his art? 20 I fancy he would rather be praised by Philammon8 for musical skill or by any one then living who was acquainted with the art of singing to the cithara, than by absolutely all the beasts and birds together; nay, even if the swans had uttered cries of praise and had accompanied him with their notes, he would not have given them a moment's notice, because they did not possess skill, or even knowledge, about the art of making melody.

Very good; what then? In the matter of health would the man of sound judgement desire to win the testimony and commendation of a single individual who is a skilled physician and conversant with care of the body, or, instead, that of countless thousands who have no understanding, who, as likely as not, on seeing him bloated with disease and swollen and ulcerous, would congratulate him as they would Pulydamas the Thessalian and Glaucus the Carystian,9 supposing him to be in prime condition? 21 Well, if as regards flute-playing and singing to the cithara and pre-eminence as a wrestler or a boxer the praise of experts above all others is sweetest to the ears of connoisseurs and worth the most serious attention, as regards wisdom and justice and virtue as a whole p281is the praise of fools and nobodies sufficient to cheer the heart of the man of sense and to satisfy his intelligence?

Int. By no means.

22 Dio. Again, do you think that he who is acquainted with the joiner's art, when he wants a piece of furniture to be made true and straight, after he has fitted his work together by applying one straight-edge and one gauge is happier and more confident of the accuracy of his work than if he had done the adjusting and the measuring with several different and uneven strips of wood?

By Heaven, have you heard about the doings of an accomplished painter who had exhibited in public a painting of a horse, a wonderful work of art and true to life? 23 They say, you remember, that he ordered his servant to observe those who looked at it, to see if they found fault with it or praised it, and to remember what they said and report back to him. The story goes on to relate that every man of them had something different to say about the painting and criticized it, one, I imagine, finding fault with the head, another with the haunches, another with the legs, to the effect that, if these parts had been done so and so, the work would be much better. And when the painter heard what his servant had to report, he made another painting, which conformed with the judgement and conception of the crowd, and he gave orders to place it beside the earlier one. Now the difference between the two was great; for the one was quite true to life, while the other was extremely ugly and ludicrous and resembled anything at all rather than a horse.

24 Clearly, therefore, if a person is going to be exceedingly p283anxious to win the praise of the crowd as well, believing that its praise or censure has more weight than his own judgement, his every act and wish will be aimed to show himself the sort of person that the crowd expects. And manifestly he will presently be very like, not that first horse, which was executed with sincerity and in harmony with one man's conception of his art, but like that amazing product of multiple workmanship, not pleasing even to those men themselves, its creators, having been put together by the conception and workmanship of all the world!

25 Just so the myth says of Pandora, that she was fashioned, not by a single one among the gods, but jointly by them all, one contributing one gift and adding it to the whole, another another, the form thus fashioned proving to be by no means wise or destined for a good end either, but, as it turned out, a heterogeneous and complicated plague to those who got her.10 But when a multitude of gods, yes, a democratic rabble, jointly creating and labouring at their task, proved unable by all their labour to turn out an excellent and faultless work, what would one say of that which is fashioned and created by human opinion, be it a way of life or a man? Evidently, then, if one is by nature really prudent, he would pay no heed at all to the talk of the masses, nor would he court their praise by any and every means, and consequently he will never regard this praise as p285important or valuable or, if I may say so, good. But not regarding it as a good, he will be incapable of viewing with malice on that account those who have it.

26 Accordingly, so high-minded, sane, and chastened a man as the one we have in mind is not the sort that chases after riches and praise and Olympic or Pythian crowns, nor after letters carved on tablets of stone and written testimonials of communities and kings, with a view to being universally admired and conspicuous; instead, he journeys through life without ostentation and free from arrogance, so far as possible, humble and chastened by himself and by his own conscience, having no need of any extraneous adornment or adventitious honour, nor of trappings and plumes, like your cowardly hireling soldiers, who affect plumes and crests and Gorgons on their shields, who rattle their little lances and then take to their heels if some trifling danger overtakes them.

27 Persons of this description are to be seen in large numbers among the would‑be great — condottieri of a sort, popular leaders, and sophists, in theatres or before their pupils or among the tents inside a camp, uttering loud boasts on occasions when they chance to be tipsy at mid‑day,11

That each will be a match for one, yes, two

Full companies of Trojan men;12

yet these same persons, if a single human being runs p287at them and offers to give chase, will be seen to flee in utter rout, the pack of them not showing themselves a match for that lone man.

28 Nay more; as for certain pleasures of food or drink or fornication, or as for a woman's beauty or the bloom of a boy, he would not, through having become infatuated with these things and lusting after them and counting them important, deem fortunate those who get them — satraps and princes and, forsooth, vulgarians and flunkies who have become wealthy, the former by the practice of their craft, the latter by filching their masters's property — nor would he pity himself for his poverty and for his lack of these good things and look upon himself as not one of the fortunate class; nor would he on this account envy the persons whom I have named, plot against them in every way, and pray for their ruin.

29 Or shall we go so far as to acknowledge that our noble, or magnanimous man is in no better ease than dogs and horses and the other beasts, which cannot contain themselves when the other beasts are stuffing their bellies or copulating, but are resentful and indignant and enraged against those which are enjoying themselves, and are ready to pounce upon and bite and butt and to wage all manner of warfare against each other for the enjoyment of these pleasures; shall we say that any of these pleasures is of real importance, and that he regards Sardanapalus as one to be envied, who declared that he spent his life in feasting and in playing the wanton with eunuchs and women,13 and shall we say that on p289this account he envies the happiness of goats and asses?

30 Int. Why, it would perhaps be even impious ever to entertain such thoughts concerning the temperate man of cultivation.

Dio. Well then, if neither fame nor wealth nor pleasures of eating or drinking or copulation lead him to regard himself or any one else as fortunate or to suppose that any such thing at all is worth fighting over or valuable, he would not wrangle over them or begrudge any one those things any more than he would begrudge those who dwell near the sea either the sand upon the beaches or the roar and reverberation of the waves; 31 nay, not even if gold of its own accord were to fall from the sky and fill the fold of his garment, just as they say that once upon a time, when Danaë was being closely guarded in a bronze chamber, gold suddenly rained down upon her from above, drawn by her beauty;14 nay, not even if a torrent were to come from somewhere, sweeping down to him a flood of gold in a mass like mud, as, I believe, it is said that to Croesus in days of old the Pactolus, making its way through the midst of Sardis, brought ready wealth, a larger revenue and tribute than all Phrygia and Lydia, yes, and the Maeonians and Mysians and all who occupy the land this side the Halys River, brought him.15

32 Nay, not even the man who received from Croesus that famous gift did either Solon or any other of the wise men of that day envy, Alcmaeon, whom they say the Lydian allowed to open his treasuries and p291carry off on his own person as much of the gold as he wished.16 And yet, so the story runs, he entered in and set to work right manfully to load himself with the king's bounty, girding about him a long, trailing tunic and filling its womanish, deep fold and the huge, capacious boots which he had put on for that express purpose and finally, after sprinkling the gold dust in his hair and beard and stuffing with it his cheeks and mouth, with difficulty he came walking out, the very image of a piper piping the birth-pangs of Semelê,17 thereby presenting a ludicrous spectacle for Croesus and his Lydians. 33 Moreover, at that moment Alcmaeon was not worth a single drachma, standing there in that condition.

So, as I was saying, our man of prudence would not be moved to envy, either by these things or if he were to see a man admired and extolled by ten or twenty thousand human beings, or, if you please, applauded and bedecked with ribbons, arching his neck and prancing like a horse exulting in a victory, escorted by more people than the crowds which escort a bride and groom; on the contrary, he might himself be more inglorious than the beggars, more destitute than the wretches who lie prostrate in the streets, held worthy of no consideration at all by anybody — just as they say was true of the Megarians once on a time18 — because of his inability to court favour or to be agreeable in converse, being austere by nature and a friend of truth, making no secret p293of his thoughts; still, not even so will he behave like the potters and joiners and bards,19 nor will he ever be warped through want or dishonour or change his own character, becoming a toady and cheat instead of noble and truthful.

34 And yet why on earth do some of the prosperous wish to be courted by persons who claim to be free men, and why do they wish the so‑called philosophers to be seen at their doors, humble and unhonoured, just as, so help me, Circê wished her dwelling to be guarded by lions that were timid and cringing?20 Nay, it was not even real lions that guarded her, but wretched, foolish human beings, who had been corrupted by luxury and idleness.21 35 Therefore, whenever any one beholds one of the so‑called philosophers fawning about the courtyards and vestibules and grovelling, it is fitting to recall those lions of Circê's, which resembled hungry, cowardly curs, howling most shrilly, since they had been perverted by sorcery.22

Nay, to such a desire as I have mentioned I know not what name to give. For there are thousands who willingly, yes, very eagerly, cultivate the rich and influential, and all the world is full of flatterers, who ply that calling with both experience and skill. 36 Therefore it is not for lack of this line of goods that men seek to obtain it from persons of good breeding; rather this is like another enterprise of the very p295dissolute, who, although there are women in abundance, through wantonness and lawlessness wish to have females produced for them from males, and so they take boys and emasculate them. And thus a far worse and more unfortunate breed is created, weaker than the female and more effeminate.

37 But he who in very truth is manly and high-minded would never submit to any such things, nor would he sacrifice his own liberty and his freedom of speech for the sake of any dishonourable payment of either power or riches, nor would he envy those who change their form and apparel for such rewards; on the contrary, he would think such persons to be comparable to those who change from human beings into snakes or other animals, not envying them, nor yet carping at them because of their wantonness, but rather bewailing and pitying them when they, like the boys, with an eye to gifts have their hair cut off, and grey hair at that!23 38 But as for himself, the man of whom I speak will strive to preserve his individuality in seemly fashion and with steadfastness, never deserting his post of duty, but always honouring and promoting virtue and sobriety and trying to lead all men thereto, partly by persuading and exhorting, partly by abusing and reproaching, in the hope that he may thereby rescue somebody from folly and from low desires and intemperance and soft living, taking them aside privately one by one and also admonishing them in groups every time he finds the opportunity,

p297 With gentle words at time, at others harsh,24

39 until, methinks, he shall have spent his life in caring for human beings, not cattle or horses or camels and houses, sound in words and sound in deeds, a safe travelling companion for any one to have on land or sea and a good omen for men to behold when offering sacrifice, not arousing strife or greed or contentions and jealousies and base desires for gain, but reminding men of sobriety and righteousness and promoting concord, but as for insatiate greed and shamelessness and moral weakness, expelling them as best he can — in short, a person far more sacred than the bearers of a truce or the heralds who in times of war come bringing an armistice.

40 Therefore he wishes, yes, is eager, in so far as he can, to aid all men; though sometimes he is defeated by other men and other practices and has little or no power at all. Finally, he purges his own mind by the aid of reason and tries to render it exempt from slavery, fighting in defence of freedom a much more stubborn battle against lusts and opinions and all mankind, aided by the few who wish to help him, than once the Spartans fought when, having seized the pass, they gave battle to all the hordes from Asia, few though those Spartans were, for three nights and days in succession until, having been enveloped through one man's treachery, they stood their ground and were hacked to pieces.25 41 Moreover, p299he trains his body, inuring it to labour with all his might, not allowing it to become enervated by baths and ointments and perfumes until it becomes too soft and as unsound as a bad vessel. But some who see him say that he follows these practices out of foolishness and stupidity, having neglected the opportunity to be rich, to be honoured, and to life a life of continual pleasure, and they scorn him, think him insane, and esteem him lightly. 42 Yet he is not enraged at them or vexed; on the contrary, I believe he is kinder to each one than even a father or brothers or friends. And in fact, though he shows respect for his own fellow citizens and friends and kinsmen, still he does not hide his thoughts from them — all the more so because he believes them to be closer to him than all others through home ties and relationship — stressing his words as much as possible and increasing the vehemence of his admonition and exhortation for himself and them alike.

43 Take, for example, the physician; if he should find it necessary to treat father or mother or his children when they are ill, or even himself through scarcity or lack of other physicians, in case he should need to employ surgery or cautery, he would not, because he loves his children and respects his father and his mother, for that reason cut with a duller knife or cauterize with milder fire, but, on the contrary, he would use the most potent and vigorous treatment possible. 44 For example, they say of Heracles, that when he was unable to heal his body, which had become the victim of a dread malady,26 he called his sons first of all and ordered them to set p301fire to him with the most brilliant flame; but when they were reluctant and shrank from the ordeal, he abused them as weaklings and unworthy of him and more like their mother, saying, in the words of the poet,

Whither away, ye cravens and disgrace

To my engendering, ye likenesses

Of her, your mother, whom Aetolia bore?27

45 Therefore toward oneself first of all, and all toward one's nearest and dearest, one must behave with fullest frankness and independence, showing no reluctance or yielding in one's words. For far worse than a corrupt and diseased body is a soul which is corrupt, not, I swear, because of salves or potions or some consuming poison, but rather because of ignorance and depravity and insolence, yes, and jealousy and grief and unnumbered desires. This disease and ailment is more grievous than that of Heracles and requires a far greater and more flaming cautery; and to this healing and release one must summon without demur father or son, kinsman or outsider, citizen or alien.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Hesiod tells of his encounter with the Muses in Theogony 22‑34.

2 Hesiod, Works and Days 25.

3 Thermopylae was the meeting place of the Delphic Amphictyony.

4 Works and Days 348.

5 Mandragora was a recognized sedative.

6 For a fuller narrative of this episode, see Herodotus 3.125 and 129‑132.

7 Odyssey 17.423.

8 Father of Thamyris and contemporary with Orpheus, said to have won a prize for singing at the Pythian Games: cf. Pausanias 10.7.2.

9 Both were unusually tall and strong and both had statues at Olympia, Pulydamas having won in wrestling in 408 B.C. and Glaucus in boxing in 480 B.C.: cf. Pausanias 6.5 and 6.10.1. Greek athletes were commonly of heavy build.

10 The famous story of Pandora occurs first in Hesiod, Theogony 570‑602 and Works and Days 54‑89. She proved a plague first of all to Epimetheus and then, through him, to mankind in general.

11 It was not thought respectable to begin drinking so early in the day.

Thayer's Note: A reminder of how customs and attitudes change over the centuries: why in my house alone, we start tippling at five in the morning, and by noon all of us, down to the Dog, are passed out.

12 Iliad 8.233‑234. Agamemnon upbraids his forces for cowardice in the face of Hector. More of the passage might well have been quoted, for it deals with boasting after immoderate eating and drinking.

13 Strabo (14.5.9) reports that such a statement was inscribed on a funeral monument of Sardanapalus.

14 Zeus visited Danaë as a shower of gold and begot Perseus.

15 Cf. Or. 33.23 and Herodotus 5.101.

16 Alcmaeon gave his name to the aristocratic house to which Pericles belonged. This humorous tale of the origin of his great wealth is told with evident relish by Herodotus (6.125), whom Dio follows closely. Croesus was repaying Alcmaeon for his kindness to Lydian envoys who consulted the oracle at Delphi.

17 The story of Semelê, the Theban princess who died in giving birth to the god Dionysus, occurred often in Greek tragedy, but Dio's piper may well have performed in a Semelê pantomime.

18 Athenians spoke of the boorishness of Megarians, just as they did of Boeotians.

Thayer's Note: but see Fiske, The Dutch and Quaker Colonies in America, pp139‑140.

19 Here for the first time Dio includes the bards, who are coupled by Hesiod with the potters, joiners, and beggars, Works and Days 26.

20 Cf. Odyssey 10.212‑219.

21 An instance of the allegorical interpretation of Homer that was growing in popularity.

22 Odyssey 10.212‑219. Homer mentions also wolves, and he says nothing of the howling.

23 Long hair was the outward and visible sign of the philosopher.

24 Iliad 12.267, spoken of the chiding administered by the two Ajaxes to their laggard fellow soldiers.

25 At Thermopylae the traitor Ephialtes led the Persians over a mountain trail to the rear of the Spartans. However, Leonidas and his little band refused to flee, but fought to the last.

26 Heracles was in torment from the poison "shirt of Nessus" which his jealous wife had sent him in the hope of recovering his love and loyalty; cf. Or. 60 and Sophocles, Trachiniae 1046‑1057.

27 Nauck, T.G.F., adespota 99. The mother of Heracles' sons was Deïaneira, daughter of Oeneus, king in Calydon, and sister of the famous Meleager.


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