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Book IV

This webpage reproduces a section of
Noctes Atticae (Attic Nights)

by
A. Cornelius Gellius

published in Vol. I
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1927
(revised 1946)

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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Book VI

(Vol. I) Gellius
Attic Nights

p381 Book V

1 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] That the philosopher Musonius criticized and rebuked those who expressed approval of a philosopher's discourse by loud shouts and extravagant demonstrations of praise.

1 I have heard that the philosopher Musonius1 was accustomed. . . .2 "When a philosopher," he says, "is uttering words of encouragement, of warning, of persuasion, or of rebuke, or is discussing any other philosophical theme, then if his hearers utter trite and commonplace expressions of praise without reflection or restraint, if they shout too, if they gesticulate, if they are stirred and swayed and impassioned by the charm of his utterance, by the rhythm of his words, and by certain musical notes,3 as it were, then you may know that speaker and hearers are wasting their time, and that they are not hearing a philosopher's lecture, but a fluteplayer's recital. 2 The mind," said he, "of one who is listening to a philosopher, so long as what is said is helpful and salutary, and furnishes a cure for faults and vices, has no time or leisure for continued and extravagant applause. Whoever the hearer may be, unless he is wholly lost, 3 during the course of the philosopher's address he must necessarily shudder and feel secret shame and p383repentance, or rejoice and wonder, 4 and even show changes of countenance and betray varying emotions, according as the philosopher's discourse has affected him and his consciousness of the different tendencies of his mind, whether noble or base."

5 He added that great applause is not inconsistent with admiration, but that the greatest admiration gives rise, not to words, but to silence. 6 "Therefore," said he, "the wisest of all poets does not represent those who heard Ulysses' splendid account of his hardships as leaping up, when he ceased speaking, with shouts and noisy demonstrations, but he says they were one and all silent, as if amazed and confounded, since the gratification of their ears even affected their power of utterance.

Thus he; but they in silence all were hushed

And held in rapture through the shadowy hall.4

2 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] About the horse of king Alexander, called Bucephalas.

1 The horse of king Alexander was called Bucephalas because of the shape of his head.5 2 Chares wrote6 that he was bought for thirteen talents and given to king Philip; that amount in Roman money is three hundred and twelve thousand sesterces. 3 It seemed a noteworthy characteristic of this horse that when he was armed and equipped for battle, he would never allow himself to be mounted by any other than the king.7 4 It is also related that Alexander in the war against India, mounted upon that horse and doing p385valorous deeds, had driven him, with disregard of his own safety, too far into the enemies' ranks. The horse had suffered deep wounds in his neck and side from the weapons hurled from every hand at Alexander, but though dying and almost exhausted from loss of blood, he yet in swiftest course bore the king from the midst of the foe; but when he had taken him out of range of the weapons, the horse at once fell, and satisfied with having saved his master breathed his last, with indications of relief that were almost human. 5 Then king Alexander, after winning the victory in that war, founded a city in that region and in honour of his horse called it Bucephalon.

3 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] The reason and the occasion which are said to have introduced Protagoras to the study of philosophical literature.

1 They say that Protagoras, a man eminent in the pursuit of learning, whose name Plato gave to that famous dialogue of his, in his youth earned his living as a hired labourer and often carried heavy burdens on his back, being one of that class of men 2 whom the Greeks call ἀχθοφόροι and we Latins baiuli, or porters. 3 He was once carrying a great number of blocks of wood, bound together with a short rope, from the neighbouring countryside into his native town of Abdera. 4 It chanced at the time that Democritus, a citizen of that same city, a man esteemed before all others for his fine character and his knowledge of philosophy, as he was going out of the city, saw Protagoras walking along easily and rapidly with that burden, of a kind so awkward and so difficult to hold together. Democritus drew near, and p387noticing with what skill and judgment the wood was arranged and tied, asked the man to stop and rest awhile. 5 When Protagoras did as he was asked, and Democritus again observed that the almost circular heap of blocks was bound with a short rope, and was balanced and held together with all but geometrical accuracy, he asked who had put the wood together in that way. When Protagoras replied that he had done it himself, Democritus asked him to untie the bundle and arrange it again in the same way. 6 But after he had done so, then Democritus, astonished at the keen intellect and cleverness of this uneducated man, said: "My dear young man, since you have a talent for doing things well, there are greater and better employments which you can follow with me"; and he at once took him away, kept him at his own house, supplied him with money, taught him philosophy, and made him the great man that he afterwards became.

7 Yet this Protagoras was not a true philosopher, but the cleverest of sophists; for in consideration of the payment of a huge annual fee, he used to promise his pupils that he would teach them by what verbal dexterity the weaker cause could be made the stronger, a process which he called in Greek: τὸν ἥττω λόγον κρείττω ποιεῖν, or "making the word appear the better reason."

4 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] On the word duovicesimus, which is unknown to the general public, but occurs frequently in the writings of the learned.

1 I chanced to be sitting in a bookshop in the Sigillaria8 with the poet Julius Paulus, the most p389learned man within my memory; and there was on sale there the Annals of Fabius9 in a copy of good and undoubted age, which the dealer maintained was without errors. 2 But one of the better known grammarians, who had been called in by a purchaser to inspect the book, said that he had found in it one error; but the bookseller for his part offered to wager any amount whatever that there was not a mistake even in a single letter. 3 The grammarian pointed out the following passage in the fourth book:10 "Therefore it was then that for the first time one of the two consuls was chosen from the plebeians, in the twenty-second (duovicesimo) year after the Gauls captured Rome." 4 "It ought," to read, not duovicesimo, but duo et vicesimoº or twenty-second; 5 for what is the meaning of duovicesimo?" . . . Varro11 in the sixteenth book of his Antiquities of Man; there he wrote as follows:12 "He died in the twenty-second year13 (duovicesimo); he was king for twenty-one years." . . .

5 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] How the Carthaginian Hannibal jested at the expense of king Antiochus.

1 In collections of old tales it is recorded that Hannibal the Carthaginian made a highly witty jest when at the court of king Antiochus. The jest was p391this: 2 Antiochus was displaying to him on the plain the gigantic forces which he had mustered to make war on the Roman people, and was manoeuvring his army glittering with gold and silver ornaments. 3 He also brought up chariots with scythes, elephants with turrets, and horsemen with brilliant bridles, saddle-cloths, neck-chains and trappings. 4 And then the king, filled with vainglory at the sight of an army so great and so well-equipped, turned to Hannibal and said: "Do you think that all this can be equalled and that it is enough for the Romans?" 5 Then the Carthaginian, deriding the worthlessness and inefficiency of the king's troops in their costly armour, replied: "I think all this will be enough, yes, quite enough for the Romans, even though they are most avaricious." 6 Absolutely nothing could equal this remark for wit and sarcasm; 7 the king had inquired about the size of his army and asked for a comparative estimate; Hannibal in his reply referred to it as booty.

6 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] On military crowns, with a description of the triumphal, siege, civic, mural, camp, naval, ovation, and olive crowns.

1 Military crowns are many and varied. 2 Of these the most highly esteemed I find to be in general the following: the "triumphal, siege, civic, mural, camp and naval crowns." 3 There is besides the so‑called "ovation" crown, and lastly also the "olive" crown, 4 which is regularly worn by those who have not taken part in a battle, but nevertheless are awarded a triumph.

p393 5 "Triumphal" crowns are of gold and are presented to a commander in recognition of the honour of a triumph. 6 This in common parlance is "gold for a crown." 7 This crown in ancient times was of laurel, but later they began to make them of gold.

8 The "siege" crown is the one which those who have been delivered from a state of siege presented to the general who delivered them. 9 That crown is of grass, and custom requires that it be made of grass which grew in the place within which the besieged were confined. 10 This crown of grass the Roman senate and people presented to Quintus Fabius Maximus in the second Punic war, because he had freed the city of Rome from siege by the enemy.

11 The crown is called "civic" which one citizen gives to another who has saved his life in battle, in recognition of the preservation of his life and safety. 12 It is made of the leaves of the esculent oak, because the earliest food and means of supporting life were furnished by that oak; it was formerly made also from the holm oak, because that is the species which is most nearly related to the esculent; this we learn from a comedy of Caecilius, who says:14

They pass with cloaks and crowns of holm; ye Gods!

13 But Masurius Sabinus,15 in the eleventh book of his Memoirs, says that it was the custom to award the civic crown only when the man who had saved the life of a fellow citizen had at the same time slain the enemy who threatened him, and had not given ground in that battle; under other conditions he says that the honour of the civic crown was not granted. 14 He adds, however, that Tiberius Caesar p395was once asked to decide whether a soldier might receive the civic crown who had saved a citizen in battle and killed two of the enemy, yet had not held the position in which he was fighting, but the enemy had occupied it. The emperor ruled that the soldier seemed to be among those who deserved the civic crown, since it was clear that he had rescued a fellow citizen from a place so perilous that it could not be held even by valiant warriors. 15 It was this civic crown that Lucius Gellius, an ex-censor, proposed in the senate that his country should award to Cicero in his consulship, because it was through his efforts that the frightful conspiracy of Catiline had been detected and punished.

16 The "mural" crown is that which is awarded by a commander to the man who is first to mount the wall and force his way into an enemy's town; therefore it is ornamented with representations of the battlements of a wall. 17 A "camp" crown is presented by a general to the soldier who is first to fight his way into a hostile camp; that crown represents a palisade. 18 The "naval" crown is commonly awarded to the armed man who has been the first to board an enemy ship in a sea-fight; it is decorated with representations of the beaks of ships. 19 Now the "mural," "camp," and "naval" crowns are regularly made of gold.

21 The "ovation" crown is of myrtle; 21 it was worn by generals who entered the city in an ovation.

The occasion for awarding an ovation, and not a triumph, is that wars have not been declared in due form and so have not been waged with a legitimate enemy, or that the adversaries' character is low or unworthy, as in the case of slaves or pirates, or that, p397because of a quick surrender, a victory was won which was "dustless," as the saying is,16 and bloodless. 22 For such an easy victory they believed that the leaves sacred to Venus were appropriate, on the ground that it was a triumph, not of Mars, but as it were of Venus. 23 And Marcus Crassus, when he returned after ending the Servile war and entered the city in an ovation, disdainfully rejected the myrtle crown and used his influence to have a decree passed by the senate, that he should be crowned with laurel, not with myrtle.

24 Marcus Cato charges Marcus Fulvius Nobilior17 with having awarded crowns to his soldiers for the most trifling reasons possible, for the sake of popularity. 25 On that subject I give you Cato's own words:18 "Now to begin with, who ever saw anyone presented with a crown, when a town had not been taken nor an enemy's camp burned?" 26 But Fulvius, against whom Cato brought that charge, had bestowed crowns on his soldiers for industry in building a rampart or in digging a well.

27 I must not pass over a point relating to ovations, about which I learn that the ancient writers disagreed. For some of them have stated that the man who celebrated an ovation was accustomed to enter the city on horseback: but Masurius Sabinus says19 that they entered on foot, followed, not by their soldiers, but by the senate in a body.

p399 7 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] How cleverly Gavius Bassus explained the word persona, and what he said to be the origin of that word.

1 Cleverly, by Heaven! and wittily, in my opinion, does Gavius Bassus explain the derivation of the word persona, in the work that he composed On the Origin of Words; for he suggests that that word is formed from personare. 2 "For," he says,20 "the head and the face are shut in on all sides by the covering of the persona, or mask, and only one passage is left for the issue of the voice; and since this opening is neither free nor broad, but sends forth the voice after it has been concentrated and forced into one single means of egress, it makes the sound clearer and more resonant. Since then that covering of the face gives clearness and resonance to the voice, it is for that reason called persona, the o being lengthened because of the formation of the word."

8 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] A defence of some lines of Virgil, in which the grammarian Julius Hyginus alleged that there was a mistake; and also the meaning of lituus, and on the etymology of that word.

1 Here, wielding his Quirinal augur-staff,

Girt with scant shift and bearing on his left

The sacred shield, Picus appeared enthroned.

In these verses21 Hyginus wrote22 that Virgil was in error, alleging that he did not notice that the words ipse Quirinali lituo lacked something. 2 "For," said p401he, "if we have not observed that something is lacking, the sentence seems to read 'girt with staff and scant shift,' which," says he, "is utterly absurd; for since the lituus is a short wand, curved at its thicker end, such as the augurs use, how on earth can one be looked upon as 'girt with a lituus?' "

3 As a matter of fact, it was Hyginus himself who failed to notice that this expression, like very many others, contains an ellipsis. 4 For example, when we say, "Marcus Cicero, a man of great eloquence" and "Quintus Roscius, an actor of consummate grace," neither of these phrases is full and complete, but to the hearer they seem full and complete. 5 As Vergil wrote in another place:23

Victorious Butes of huge bulk,

that is, having huge bulk, and also in another passage:24

Into the ring he hurled gauntlets of giant weight,

and similarly:25

A house of gore and cruel feasts, dark, huge within,

6 so then it would seem that the phrase in question ought to be interpreted as "Picus was with the Quirinal staff," just as we say "the statue was with a large head," 7 and in fact est, erat and fuit are often omitted, with elegant effect and without any loss of meaning.26

8 And since mention has been made of the lituus, I must not pass over a question which obviously may be asked, whether the augurs' lituus is called after the trumpet of the same name, or whether the p403trumpet derived its name lituus from the augurs' staff; 9 for both have the same form and both alike are curved.27 10 But if, as some think, the trumpet was called lituus from its sound, because of the Homeric expression λίγξε βιός,28

The bow twanged,

it must be concluded that the augural staff was called lituus from its resemblance to the trumpet. 11 And Virgil uses that word also as synonymous with tuba:29

He even faced the fray

Conspicuous both with clarion (lituo) and with spear.

9 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] The story of Croesus' dumb son, from the books of Herodotus.

1 The son of king Croesus, when he was already old enough to speak, was dumb, and after he had become a well-grown youth, he was still unable to utter a word. Hence he was for a long time regarded as mute and tongue-tied. 2 When his father had been vanquished in a great war, the city in which he lived had been taken, and one of the enemy was rushing upon him with drawn sword, unaware that he was the king, then the young man opened his mouth in an attempt to cry out. And by that effort and the force of his breath he broke the impediment and the bond upon his tongue, and spoke plainly and clearly, shouting to the enemy not to kill king Croesus. 3 Then the foeman withheld his sword, the king's life was saved, and from that p405time on the youth began to speak. 4 Herodotus in his Histories30 is the chronicler of that event, and the words which he says the son of Croesus first spoke are: "Man, do not kill Croesus."

5 But also an athlete of Samos — his name was Echeklous — although he had previously been speechless, is said to have begun to speak for a similar reason. 6 For when in a sacred contest the casting of lots between the Samians and their opponents was not being done fairly, and he had noticed that a lot with a false name was being slipped in, he suddenly shouted in a loud voice to the man who was doing it that he saw what he was up to. And he too was freed from the check upon his speech and for all the remaining time of his life spoke without stammering or lack of clearness.31

10 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] On the arguments which by the Greeks are called ἀντιστρέφοντα, and in Latin may be termed reciproca.

1 Among fallacious arguments the one which the Greeks call ἀντιστρέφων seems to be by far the most fallacious. 2 Such arguments some of our own philosophers have rather appropriately termed reciproca, or "convertible." 3 The fallacy arises from the fact that the argument that is presented may be turned in the opposite direction and used against the one who has offered it, and is equally strong for both sides of the question. An example is the well-known argument which Protagoras, the keenest of all sophists, is said to have used against his pupil Euathlus.

p407 4 For a dispute arose between them and an altercation as to the fee which had been agreed upon, as follows: 5 Euathlus, a wealthy young man, was desirous of instruction in oratory and the pleading of causes. 6 He became a pupil of Protagoras and promised to pay him a large sum of money, as much as Protagoras had demanded. He paid half of the amount at once, before beginning his lessons, and agreed to pay the remaining half on the day when he first pleaded before jurors and won his case. 7 Afterwards, when he had been for some little time a pupil and follower of Protagoras, and had in fact made considerable progress in the study of oratory, he nevertheless did not undertake any causes. And when the time was already getting long, and he seemed to be acting thus in order not to pay the rest of the fee, 8 Protagoras formed what seemed to him at the time a wily scheme; he determined to demand his pay according to the contract, and brought suit against Euathlus.

9 And when they had appeared before the jurors to bring forward and to contest the case, Protagoras began as follows: "Let me tell you, most foolish of youths, that in either event you will have to pay what I am demanding, whether judgment be pronounced for or against you. 10 For if the case goes against you, the money will be due me in accordance with the verdict, because I have won; but if the decision be in your favour, the money will be due me according to our contract, since you will have won a case."

11 To this Euathlus replied: "I might have met this sophism of yours, tricky as it is, by not pleading my own cause but employing another as my advocate. 12 But I take greater satisfaction in a victory in which p409I defeat you, not only in the suit, but also in this argument of yours. 13 So let me tell you in turn, wisest of masters, that in either event I shall not have to pay what you demand, whether judgment be pronounced for or against me. 14 For if the jurors decide in my favour, according to their verdict nothing will be due you, because I have won; but if they give judgment against me, by the terms of our contract I shall owe you nothing, because I have not won a case."

15 Then the jurors, thinking that the plea on both sides was uncertain and insoluble, for fear that their decision, for whichever side it was rendered, might annul itself, left the matter undecided and postponed the case to a distant day. 16 Thus a celebrated master of oratory was refuted by his youthful pupil with his own argument, and his cleverly devised sophism failed.

11 1  [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] The impossibility of regarding Bias's syllogism on marriage as an example of ἀντιστρέφων.

1 Some think that the famous answer of the wise and noble Bias, like that of Protagoras of which I have just spoken, was ἀντιστρέφων.32 2 For Bias, being asked by a certain man whether he should marry or lead a single life, said: "You are sure to marry a woman either beautiful or ugly; and if beautiful, you will share her with others, but if ugly, she will be a punishment.33 But neither of these things is desirable; therefore do not marry."

p411 3 Now, they turn this argument about in this way. "If I marry a beautiful woman, she will not be a punishment; but if an ugly one, I shall be her sole possessor; therefore marry." 4 But this syllogism does not seem to be in the least convertible, since it appears somewhat weaker and less convincing when turned into the second form. 5 For Bias maintained that one should not marry because of one of two disadvantages which must necessarily be suffered by one who took a wife. 6 But he who converts the proposition does not defend himself against the inconvenience which is mentioned, but says that he is free from another which is not mentioned. 7 But to maintain the opinion that Bias expressed, it is enough that a man who has taken a wife must necessarily suffer one or the other of two disadvantages, of having a wife that is unfaithful, or a punishment.

8 But our countryman Favorinus, when that syllogism which Bias had employed happened to be mentioned, of which the first premise is: "You will marry either a beautiful or an ugly woman," declared that this was not a fact, and that it was not a fair antithesis, since it was not inevitable that one of the two opposites be true, 9 which must be the case in a disjunctive proposition. For obviously certain outstanding extremes of appearance are postulated, ugliness and beauty.34 10 "But there is," said he, "a third possibility also, lying between those two opposites, and that possibility Bias did not observe or regard. 11 For between a very beautiful and a very ugly woman there is a mean in appearance, which is free from the danger to which an excess of beauty is exposed, and also from the feeling of repulsion p413inspired by extreme ugliness. 12 A woman of that kind is called by Quintus Ennius in the Melanippa35 by the very elegant term 'normal,' 13 and such a woman will be neither unfaithful nor a punishment." 14 This moderate and modest beauty Favorinus, to my mind most sagaciously, called "conjugal." Moreover Ennius, in the tragedy which I mentioned, says that those women as a rule are of unblemished chastity who possess normal beauty.

12 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] On the names of the gods of the Roman people called Diovis and Vediovis.

1 In ancient prayers we have observed that these names of deities appear: Diovis and Vediovis; 2 furthermore, there is also a temple of Vediovis at Rome, between the Citadel and the Capitolium.36 3 The explanation of these names I have found to be this: 4 the ancient Latins derived Iovis from iuvare (help), and called that same god "father," thus adding a second word. 5 For Iovispater is the full and complete form, which becomes Iupiter37 by the syncope or change of some of the letters. So also Neptunuspater is used as a compound, and Saturnuspater and Ianuspater and Marspater — for that is the original form of Marspiter — and Jove also was called Diespiter, that is, the father of day and of light. 6 And therefore by a name of similar origin Jove is called Diovis and also Lucetius, because he blesses us and helps us by means of the day and the light, which are equivalent to life itself. 7 And Lucetius is applied to Jove by Gnaeus Naevius in his poem On the Punic War.38

p415 8 Accordingly, when they had given the names Iovis and Diovis from iuvare (help), they applied a name of the contrary meaning to that god who had, not the power to help, but the force to do harm — for some gods they worshipped in order to gain their favour, others they propitiated in order to avert their hostility; and they called him Vediovis, thus taking away and denying his power to give help. 9 For the particle ve which appears in different forms in different words, now being spelled with these two letters and now with an a inserted between the two,a has two meanings which also differ from each other. 10 For ve, like very many other particles, has the effect either of weakening or of strengthening the force of a word; and it therefore happens that some words to which that particle is prefixed are ambiguous39 and may be used with either force, such as vescus (small), vemens (mighty), and vegrandis (very small),40 a point which I have discussed elsewhere41 in greater detail. But vesanus and vecordes are used with only one of the meanings of ve, namely, the privative or negative force, which the Greeks call κατὰ στέρησιν.

11 It is for this reason that the statue of the god Vediovis, which is in the temple of which I spoke above, holds arrows, which, as everyone knows, are devised to inflict harm. 12 For that reason it has often been said that that god is Apollo; and a she-goat is sacrificed to him in the customary fashion,42 p417and a representation of that animal stands near his statue.

13 It was for this reason, they say, that Virgil,º a man deeply versed in antiquarian lore, but never making a display of his knowledge, prays to the unpropitious gods in the Georgics, thus intimating that in gods of that kind there is a power capable of injuring rather than aiding. The verses of Vergilº are these:43

A task of narrow span, but no small praise,

If unpropitious powers bar not my way

And favouring Phoebus grant a poet's prayer.

14 And among those gods which ought to be placated in order to avert evil influences from ourselves or our harvests are reckoned Auruncus44 and Robigus.45

13 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] On the rank and order of obligations established by the usage of the Roman people.

1 There was once a discussion, in my presence and hearing, of the rank and order of obligations, carried on by a company of men of advanced age and high position at Rome, who were also eminent for their knowledge and command of ancient usage and conduct. And when the question was asked to whom we ought first and foremost to discharge those obligations, in case it should be necessary to prefer some to others in giving assistance or showing attention, there was a difference of opinion. 2 But it p419was readily agreed and accepted, that in accordance with the usage of the Roman people the place next after parents should be held by wards entrusted to our honour and protection; that second to them came clients, who also had committed themselves to our honour and guardianship; that then in the third place were guests; and finally relations by blood and by marriage.

3 Of this custom and practice there are numerous proofs and illustrations in the ancient records, of which, because it is now at hand, I will cite only this one at present, relating to clients and kindred. 4 Marcus Cato in the speech which he delivered before the censors Against Lentulus wrote thus:46 "Our forefathers regarded it as a more sacred obligation to defend their wards than not to deceive a client. One testifies in a client's behalf against one's relatives; testimony against a client is given by no one. A father held the first position of honour; next after him a patron."

5 Masurius Sabinus, however, in the third book of his Civil Law assigns a higher place to a guest than to a client. The passage from that book is this:47 "In the matter of obligations our forefathers observed the following order: first to a ward, then to a guest, then to a client, next to a blood relation, finally to a relation by marriage. Other things being equal, women were given preference to men, but a ward who was under age took precedence of one who was a grown woman. Also those who were appointed by will to be guardians of the sons of a man against whom they had appeared in court, appeared for the ward in the same case."

6 Very clear and strong testimony on this subject p421is furnished by the authority of Gaius Caesar, when he was high priest; for in the speech which he delivered In Defence of the Bithynians he made use of this preamble:48 "In consideration either of my guest-friendship with king Nicomedes or my relationship to those whose case is on trial, O Marcus Iuncus, I could not refuse this duty. For the remembrance of men ought not to be so obliterated by their death as not to be retained by those nearest to them, and without the height of disgrace we cannot forsake clients to whom we are bound to render aid even against our kinsfolk."

14 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] The account of Apion, a learned man who was surnamed Plistonices, of the mutual recognition, due to old acquaintance, that he had seen at Rome between a man and a lion.

1 Apion, who was called Plistonices, was a man widely versed in letters, and possessing an extensive and varied knowledge of things Greek. 2 In his works, which are recognized as of no little repute, is contained an account of almost all the remarkable things which are to be seen and heard in Egypt. 3 Now, in his account of what he professes either to have heard or read he is perhaps too verbose through a reprehensible love of display — for he is a great self-advertiser in parading his learning; 4 but this incident, which he describes in the fifth book of his Wonders of Egypt,49 he declares that he neither heard nor read, but saw himself with his own eyes in the city of Rome.

p423 5 "In the Great Circus," he says, "a battle with wild beasts on a grand scale was being exhibited to the people. 6 Of that spectacle, since I chanced to be in Rome, I was," he says, "an eye-witness. 7 There were there many savage wild beasts, brutes remarkable for their huge size, and all of uncommon appearance or unusual ferocity. 8 But beyond all others," says he, "did the vast size of the lions excite the rest. 9 This one lion had drawn to himself the attention and eyes of all because of the activity and huge size of his body, his terrific and deep roar, the development of his muscles, and the mane streaming over his shoulders. 10 There was brought in, among many others who had been condemned to fight with the wild beasts, the slave of an ex-consul; the slave's name was Androclus. 11 When that lion saw him from a distance," says Apion, "he stopped short as if in amazement, and then approached the man slowly and quietly, as if he recognized him. 12 Then, wagging his tail in a mild and caressing way, after the manner and fashion of fawning dogs, he came close to the man, who was now half dead from fright, and gently licked his feet and hands. 13 The man Androclus, while submitting to the caresses of so fierce a beast, regained his lost courage and gradually turned his eyes to look at the lion. 14 Then," says Apion, "you might have seen man and lion exchange joyful greetings, as if they had recognized each other."

15 He says that at this sight, so truly astonishing, the people broke out into mighty shouts; and Gaius Caesar called Androclus to him and inquired the reason why that fiercest of lions had spared him alone. 16 Then Androclus related a strange and p425surprising story. 17 "My master," said he, "was governing Africa with proconsular authority. While there, I was forced by his undeserved and daily floggings to run away, and that my hiding-places might be safer from my master, the ruler of that country, I took refuge in lonely plains and deserts, intending, if food should fail me, to seek death in some form. 18 Then," said he, "when the midday sun was fierce and scorching, finding a remote and secluded cavern, I entered it, and hid myself. 19 Not long afterwards this lion came to the same cave with one paw lame and bleeding, making known by groans and moans the torturing pain of his wound." 20 And then, at the first sight of the approaching lion, Androclus said that his mind was overwhelmed with fear and dread. 21 "But when the lion," said he, "had entered what was evidently his own lair, and saw me cowering at a distance, he approached me mildly and gently, and lifting up his foot, was evidently showing it to me and holding it out as if to ask for help. 22 Then," said he, "I drew out a huge splinter that was embedded in the sole of the foot, squeezed out the pus that had formed in the interior of the wound, wiped away the blood, and dried it thoroughly, being now free from any great feeling of fear. 23 Then, relieved by that attention and treatment of mine, the lion, putting his paw in my hand, lay down and went to sleep, 24 and for three whole years from that day the lion and I lived in the same cave, and on the same food as well. 25 For he used to bring for me to the cave the choicest parts of the game which he took in hunting, which I, having no means of making a fire, dried in the noonday sun and ate. 26 But," said he, "after I had finally grown tired of that wild p427life, I left the cave when the lion had gone off to hunt, and after travelling nearly three days, I was seen and caught by some soldiers and taken from Africa to Rome to my master. 27 He at once had me condemned to death by being thrown to the wild beasts. 28 But," said he, "I perceive that this lion was also captured, after I left him, and that he is now requiting me for my kindness and my cure of him."

29 Apion records that Androclus told this story, and that when it had been made known to the people by being written out in full on a tablet and carried about the Circus, at the request of all Androclus was freed, acquitted and presented with the lion by vote of the people. 30 "Afterwards," said he, "we used to see Androclus with the lion, attached to a slender leash, making the rounds of the shops throughout the city; Androclus was given money, the lion was sprinkled with flowers, and everyone who met them anywhere exclaimed: 'This is the lion that was a man's friend, this is the man who was physician to a lion.' "

15 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] That it is a disputed question among philosophers whether voice is corporeal or incorporeal.

1 A question that has been argued long and continuously by the most famous philosophers is whether voice has body or is incorporeal; 2 for the word incorporeus has been coined by some of them, corresponding exactly to the Greek ἀσώματος. 3 Now a body is that which is either active or passive: this in Greek is defined as τὸ ἤτοι ποιοῦν ἢ πάσχον, or "that which either acts or is acted upon." 4 Wishing p429to reproduce this definition the poet Lucretius wrote:50

Naught save a body can be touched or touch.

5 The Greeks also define body in another way, as τὸ τριχῆ διάστατον, or "that which has three dimensions." 6 But the Stoics maintain51 that voice is a body, and say that it is air which has been struck; 7 Plato, however, thinks that voice is not corporeal: "for," says he,52 "not the air which is struck, but the stroke and the blow themselves are voice." 8 Democritus, and following him Epicurus, declare that voice consists of individual particles, and they call it, to use their own words, ῥευμα ἀτόμων,53 or "a stream of atoms." 9 When I heard of these and other sophistries, the result of a self-satisfied cleverness combined with lack of employment, and saw in these subtleties no real advantage affecting the conduct of life,b and no end to the inquiry, I agreed with Ennius' Neoptolemus, who rightly says:54

Philosophizing there must be, but by the few;

Since for all men it's not to be desired.

16 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] On the function of the eye and the process of vision.

1 I have observed that the philosophers have varying opinions about the method of seeing and the nature of vision. 2 The Stoics say55 that the causes of sight are the emission of rays from the eyes to those objects which can be seen, and the simultaneous p431expansion of the air. 3 Epicurus believes56 that there is a constant flow from all bodies of images of those bodies themselves, and that these impinge upon the eyes and hence the sensation of seeing arises. 4 Plato is of the opinion57 that a kind of fire or light issues from the eyes, and that this, being united and joined either with the light of the sun or with that of some other fire, by means of its own and the external force makes us see whatever it has struck and illumined. 5 But here too we must not dally longer, but follow the advice of that Neoptolemus in Ennius, of whom I have just written,58 who advises having a "taste" of philosophy, but not "gorging oneself with it."

17 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] Why the first days after the Kalends, Nones and Ides are considered unlucky; and why many avoid also the fourth day before the Kalends, Nones or Ides, on the ground that it is ill-omened.

1 Verrius Flaccus, in the fourth book of his work On the Meaning of Words, writes59 that the days immediately following the Kalends, Nones and Ides, which the common people ignorantly call "holidays," are properly called, and considered, "ill-omened," for this reason:— 2 "When the city," he says, "had been recovered from the Senonian Gauls, Lucius Atilius stated in the senate that Quintus Sulpicius, tribune of the soldiers, when on the eve of fighting against the Gauls at the Allia,60 offered sacrifice in anticipation of that battle on the day after the Ides; that the army of the Roman people was thereupon cut to pieces, and three days later the whole p433city, except the Capitol, was taken. Also many other senators said that they remembered that whenever with a view to waging war a magistrate of the Roman people had sacrificed on the day after the Kalends, Nones or Ides, in the very next battle of that war the State had suffered disaster. Then the senate referred the matter to the pontiffs, that they might take what action they saw fit. The pontiffs decreed that no offering would properly be made on those days."

3 Many also avoid the fourth day before the Kalends, Nones and Ides, as ill-omened. 4 It is often inquired whether any religious reason for that observance is recorded. 5 I myself have found nothing in literature pertaining to that matter, except that Quintus Claudius Quadrigarius, in the fifth book of his Annals, says that the prodigious slaughter of the battle of Cannae occurred on the fourth day before the Nones of August.61

18 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] In what respect, and how far, history differs from annals; and a quotation on that subject from the first book of the Histories of Sempronius Asellio.

1 Some think that history differs from annals in this particular, that while each is a narrative of events, yet history is properly an account of events in which the narrator took part; 2 and that this is the opinion of some men is stated by Verrius Flaccus in the fourth book of his treatise On the Meaning of Words.62 He adds that he for his part has doubts about the matter, but he thinks that the view may have some appearance of reason, since ἱστορία in Greek means a p435knowledge of current events. 3 But we often hear it said that annals are exactly the same as histories, 4 but that histories are not exactly the same as annals; 5 just as a man is necessarily an animal, but an animal is not necessarily a man.

6 Thus they say that history is the setting forth of events or their description, or whatever term may be used; but that annals set down the events of many years successively, with observance of the chronological order. 7 When, however, events are recorded, not year by year, but day by day, such a history is called in Greek ἐφημερίς, or "a diary," a term of which the Latin interpretation is found in the first book of Sempronius Asellio. I have quoted a passage of some length from that book, in order at the same time to show what his opinion is of the difference between history and chronicle.

8 "But between those," he says,63 "who have desired to leave us annals, and those who have tried to write the history of the Roman people, there was this essential difference. The books of annals merely made known what happened and in what year it happened, which is like writing a diary, which the Greeks call ἐφημερίς. For my part, I realize that it is not enough to make known what has been done, but that one should also show with what purpose and for what reason things were done." 9 A little later in the same book Asellio writes:64 "For annals cannot in any way make men more eager to defend their country, or more reluctant to do wrong. Furthermore, to write over and over again in whose consulship a war was begun and ended, and who in consequence entered the city in a triumph, and in that p437book not to state what happened in the course of the war, what decrees the senate made during that time, or what law or bill was passed, and with what motives these things were done — that is to tell stories to children, not to write history."

19 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] The meaning of adoptatio and also of adrogatio, and how they differ; and the formula used by the official who, when children are adopted, brings the business before the people.

1 When outsiders are taken into another's family and given the relationship of children, it is done either through a praetor or through the people. 2 If done by a praetor, the process is called adoptatio; if through the people, arrogatio.º 3 Now, we have adoptatio, when those who are adopted are surrendered in court through a thrice repeated sale65 by the father under whose control they are, and are claimed by the one who adopts them in the presence of the official before whom the legal action takes place. 4 The process is called adrogatio, when persons who are their own masters deliver themselves into the control of another, and are themselves responsible for the act. 5 But arrogations are not made without due consideration and investigation; 6 for the so‑called comitia curiata66 are summoned under the authority of the pontiffs, and it is inquired whether the age of the one who wishes to adopt is not rather suited to begetting children of his own; precaution is taken that the property of the one who is being adopted is not being sought under false pretences; and an oath is administered which is said p439to have been formulated for use in that ceremony by Quintus Mucius,67 when he was pontifex maximus. 7 But no one may be adopted by adrogatio who is not yet ready to assume the gown of manhood. 8 The name adrogatio is due to the fact that this kind of transfer to another's family is accomplished through a rogatio or "request," put to the people.

9 The language of this request is as follows: "Express your desire and ordain that Lucius Valerius be the son of Lucius Titius as justly and lawfully as if he had been born of that father and the mother of his family, and that Titius have the power of life and death over Valerius which a father has over a son. This, just as I have stated it, I thus ask of you, fellow Romans."

10 Neither a ward nor a woman who is not under the control of her father may be adopted by adrogatio; since women have no part in the comitia, and it is not right that guardians should have so much authority and power over their wards as to be able to subject to the control of another a free person who has been committed to their protection. 11 Freedmen, however, may legally be adopted in that way by freeborn citizens, according to Masurius Sabinus.68 12 But he adds that it is not allowed, that men of the condition of freedmen should by process of adoption usurp the privileges of the freeborn. 13 "Furthermore," says he, if that ancient law be maintained, even a slave may be surrendered by his master for adoption through the agency of a praetor." 14 And he declares that several authorities69 on ancient law have written that this can be done.

15 I have observed in a speech of Publius Scipio On p441Morals, which he made to the people in his censorship, that among the things that he criticized, on the ground that they were done contrary to the usage of our forefathers, he also found fault with this, that an adopted son was of profit to his adoptive father in gaining the rewards for paternity.70 16 The passage in that speech is as follows:71 "A father votes in one tribe, the son in another,72 an adopted son is of as much advantage as if one had a son of his own; orders are given to take the census of absentees, and hence it is not necessary for anyone to appear in person at the census."

20 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] The Latin word coined by Sinnius Capito for "solecism," and what the early writers of Latin called that same fault; and also Sinnius Capito's definition of a solecism.

1 A solecism, which by Sinnius Capito and other men of his time was called in Latin inparilitas, or "inequality," the earlier Latin writers termed stribiligo,73 evidently meaning the improper use of an inverted form of expression, a sort of twistc as it were. 2 This kind of fault is thus defined by Sinnius Capito, in a letter which he wrote to Clodius Tuscus: "A solecism," he says,74 "is an irregular and incongruous joining together of the parts of speech."

3 Since "soloecismus" is a Greek word, the question is often asked, whether it was used by the men of p443Attica who spoke most elegantly. 4 But I have as yet found neither soloecismus nor barbarismus75 in good Greek writers; 5 for just as they used βάρβαρος, so they used σόλοικος.76 6 So too our earlier writers used soloecus regularly, soloecismus never, I think. 7 But if that be so, soloecismus is proper usage neither in Greek nor in Latin.

21 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] One who says pluria, compluria and compluriens speaks good Latin, and not incorrectly.

1 An extremely learned man, a friend of mine, chanced in the course of conversation to use the word pluria, not at all with a desire to show off, or because he thought that plura ought not to be used. 2 For he is a man of serious scholarship and devoted to the duties of life, and not at all meticulous in the use of words. 3 But, I think, from constant perusal of the early writers a word which he had often met in books had become second nature to his tongue.

4 There was present when he said this a very audacious critic of language, who had read very little and that of the most ordinary sort; this fellow had some trifling instruction in the art of grammar, which was partly ill-digested and confused and partly false, and this he used to cast like dust into the eyes of any with whom he had entered into discussion. 5 Thus on that occasion he said to my friend: "You were incorrect in saying plura; for that form has p445neither justification nor authorities." 6 Thereupon that friend of mine rejoiced with a smile: "My good sir, since I now have leisure from more serious affairs, I wish you would please explain to me why pluria and compluria — for they do not differ — are used barbarously and incorrectly by Marcus Cato,77 Quintus Claudius,78 Valerius Antias,79 Lucius Aelius,80 Publius Nigidius,81 and Marcus Varro, whom we have as endorsers and sanctioners of this form, to say nothing of a great number of the early poets and orators." 7 And the fellow answered with excessive arrogance: "You are welcome to those authorities of yours, dug up from the age of the Fauns and Aborigines, but what is your answer to this rule? 8 No neuter comparative in the nominative plural has an i before its final a; for example, meliora, maiora, graviora. Accordingly, then, it is proper to say plura, not pluria, in order that there be no i before final a in a comparative, contrary to the invariable rule."

9 Then that friend of mine, thinking that the self-confident fellow deserved a few words, said: "There are numerous letters of Sinnius Capito, a very learned man, collected in a single volume and deposited, I think, in the Temple of Peace. 10 The first letter is addressed to Pacuvius Labeo, and it is prefixed by the title, 'Pluria, not plura, should be used.'82 11 In that letter he has collected the grammatical rules to show that pluria, and not plura, is good Latin. Therefore I refer you to Capito. 12 From him you will learn at the same time, provided you can comprehend what is written in that letter, 13 that pluria, or plura, is the positive and simple form, not, as it seems to you, a comparative."

14 It also confirms that view of Sinnius, that when p447we say complures or "several," we are not using a comparative. 15 Moreover, from the word compluria is derived the adverb compluriens, "often." 16 Since this is not a common word, I have added a verse of Plautus, from the comedy entitled The Persian:83

What do you fear? — By Heaven! I am afraid;

I've had the feeling many a time and oft (compluriens).

17 Marcus Cato too, in the fourth book of his Origins, has used this word three times in the same passage:84 "Often (compluriens) did their mercenary soldiers kill one another in large numbers in the camp; often (compluriens) did many together desert to the enemy; often (compluriens) did they attack their general."


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 p130, Hense.

2 There seems to be a lacuna in the text; see crit. note.

3 Heraeus suggests fritamenta in I.11, 12.

4 Odyss. XIII.1. Odysseus (Ulysses) had just finished telling his story to Alcinous, king of the Phaeacians, and his court.

5 Bucephalas in Greek means "ox-headed."

6 Fr. 14, p117, Müller.

7 Cf. Suet. Jul. LXI.

8 See note 2, p128.

9 Quintus Fabius Pictor, who was sent as an envoy to Delphi after the battle of Cannae (216 B.C.), wrote a history of Rome from the coming of Aeneas to his own time. He wrote in Greek, but a Latin version is mentioned also by Quintilian (I.6.12) and was used by Varro and by Cicero.

10 Fr. 6, Peter.

11 There is a lacuna in the text which might be filled by "This question might be answered by."

12 Fr. 1, Mirsch.

13 Of his reign.

14 v. 269, Ribbeck3.

15 Fr. 17, Huschke; 8, Bremer.

16 Ἀκονιτί ("dustless") was proverbial in Greek for "without an effort," as in Thuc. IV.73; Xen. Ages. 6.3. Cf. Hor. Epist. I.1.54, cui sit condicio dulcis sine pulvere palma.

17 Nobilior was consul in 189 B.C. Cicero, Tusc. Disp. I.2.3, says that Cato criticized him also for taking Ennius with him to his province of Aetolia.

18 xiv.1, Jordan.

19 Fr. 26, Huschke; memor. 15, Bremer.

20 Frag. 8, Fun.

21 Aen. VII.187.

22 Frag. 5, Fun.

23 Aen. V.372.

24 Aen. V.401.

25 Aen. III.618.

26 This explanation of Quirinali lituo as an ablative of quality is of course wrong; we simply have zeugma in subcinctus, "equipped with" and "girt with."

27 The trumpet called lituus was slightly curved at the end, differing from the tuba, which was straight, and the spiral cornu. The augur's staff was like a crook with a short handle.

Thayer's Note: For details (and pictures), see the articles in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities: Lituus Tuba Cornu

28 Iliad IV.125.

29 Aen. VI.167.

30 I.85.

31 Valerius Maximus, I.8 ext. 4 says: cum ei victoriae quam adeptus erat titulus et praemium eriperetur, indignatione accensus vocalis evasit. Just how he was cheated in the story told by Gellius it is not clear, unless the lots were cast to determine which of the contestants should be matched together, and he was matched against an unsuitable opponent.

32 The "convertible" argument described in x.

33 In the Greek there is a word-play on κοινή and ποινή, which it does not seem possible to reproduce in English. Perhaps, a flirt or a hurt, or, a harlot or a hard lot.

34 That is, in Bias' syllogism.

35 253, Ribbeck3.

36 The two summits of the Capitoline Hill.

Thayer's Note: For comprehensive details, see the articles in Platner & Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome: Arx Capitolinus Mons

37 The correct spelling in Latin is Iuppiter.

38 Fr. 55, Bährens.

39 That is, it is uncertain what force ve- has in these words: but see the next note.

40 Gellius is wrong in supposing that ve- strengthened the force of a word; it means "without, apart from." Nonius cites Lucilius for vegrandis in the sense of "very great," but wrongly; see Marx on Lucil. 631. Vescus means "small," or, in an active sense, "make small" (Lucr. I.326); Walde derives it from vescor in the sense of "eating away, corroding" (Lucr. I.326) and from ve-escus in the sense of "small." Vemens, for vehemens, is probably a participle (vehemenos) from veho.

41 XVI.5.6.

42 Vediovis, or Veiovis, was the opposite of Jupiter, ve- having its negative force. He was a god of the nether world and of death; hence the arrows and the she-goat, which was an animal connected with the lower world (see Gell. X.15.12, and Wissowa Religion und Kultus, p237). Some regarded the god as a youthful (little) Jupiter and the she-goat as the one which suckled him in his infancy; others as Apollo, because of the arrows, but the she-goat has no connection with Apollo.

43 Georg. IV.6.

44 Commonly called Averruncus, although the glosses give also the form Auruncus From averrunco, "to avert."

45 Also called Robigo (f.), the god or goddess who averted mildew from the grain.

46 xli.1, Jordan.

47 Fr. 6, Huschke; 2 Bremer.

48 ii. p123, Dinter; ORF2 p419.

49 F. H. G. III.510.

50 I.304.

51 II.141, Arn.

52 Timaeus, p67B.

53 p353, Usener.

54 340, Ribbeck3.

55 II.871, Arn.

56 319, Usener.

57 Timaeus, p45B.

58 xv.9.

59 p. xiv Müller.

60 in 390 B.C.

61 August 2, 216 B.C.

62 p. xiv Müller.

63 Fr. 1, Peter.

64 Fr. 2, Peter.

65 This was a symbolic sale, made by thrice touching a balance with a penny, in the presence of a praetor; see Suet., Aug. LXIV.

66 The assembly of the curiae, the thirty divisions into which the Roman citizens were divided, ten for each of the original three tribes. It was superseded at an early period by the comitia centuriata, and in this action was confined to formalities. See XV.27.5.

67 Fr. 13, Huschke; I p58 and p80, Bremer.

68 Fr. 27, Huschke; Jus. Civ. 60, Bremer.

69 Cato, Fr. 4a, I p21, Bremer.

70 That is, the privileges and exemptions conferred upon the fathers of children, later comprised under the ius trium liberorum; see II.15.3 ff.

71 ORF2 p180.

72 The meaning is that a man who had been adopted would vote in the tribe of his adoptive father, which might be different from that of his own father.

73 This word, which seems to occur only here and in Arnobius I.36, apparently means "twisted, awry."

74 Fr. 2, Huschke.

75 These words were applied to any impropriety in the use of language.

76 Both words have the general meaning of "foreign"; according to some, σόλοικος was derived from Soloi, a town of Cilicia, whose inhabitants spoke a perverted Attic dialect. This derivation seems to be accepted to‑day. Barbarus is regarded as an onomatopoeic word, representing stammering; cf. balbus.

77 Fr. 24, Peter.

78 Fr. 90, Peter.

79 Fr. 65, Peter.

80 Fr. 48, Fun.

81 Frag. 64, Swoboda.

82 Fr. 1, Huschke.

83 v. 534.

84 Fr. 79, Peter.


Thayer's Notes:

a ve with an a inserted: i.e.vae. Gellius seems to be avoiding writing the word out for fear of creating an omen.

b A basic understanding of the physics of sound led to the invention of the telephone (unlike most of our modern machines, a relatively simple device that could just conceivably been invented by some clever ancient Greek); on balance, I agree with Gellius.

c the Latin word used here by Gellius and translated as "twist" is strobiligo.


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