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This webpage reproduces the essay
Bruta animalia ratione uti

by
ps‑Plutarch

as published in Vol. XII
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1957

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!

(Vol. XII) Plutarch, Moralia

p487 Gryllusa

Copyright

The work appears in pp487‑533 of Vol. XII of the Loeb Classical Library's edition of the Moralia, first published in 1957. It is now in the public domain pursuant to the 1978 revision of the U. S. Copyright Code, since the copyright expired in 1985 and was not renewed at the appropriate time, which would have been that year or the year before. (Details here on the copyright law involved.)

p489 Loeb Edition Introduction

Many will find this little jeu d'esprit as pleasant reading as anything in Plutarch. In part, this may be due to its (perhaps accidental) brevity; but its originality and freshness are undeniable. These qualities have, to be sure, puzzled a number of scholars who are still disputing whether the sources are principally Epicurean or Peripatetic or Cynic. Nothing quite like it is known elsewhere,1 which sad lack baffles the Quellenforscher. So, rather than allow a touch of spontaneous imagination to Plutarch, it has been confidently asserted that the dialogue must come from the school of Menippus, or be an attempt to turn the tables on Polystratus, and so on.

Everything must have a source (if only the author's ingenuity) and the source here, so far as it can be predicated with any certainty, is the tenth book of the Odyssey seen through the humorous eyes of a young Boeotian.2 We have here, then, a Boeotian p490pig instructing the favourite of Athena.3 It was once fashionable to assert, or imply, that since Plutarch was once a young Boeotian himself, matters could not be so simple, nor could he be the author. But the climate of scholarship is, perhaps, changing. There are few of Plutarch's admirers who will not claim this lively work for one of his more admirable achievements, written, perhaps, when he was quite young.

Even if the authorship is accepted without hesitation, there is little else that is certain except that the Stoics are constantly under attack, though rather less directly than in the preceding dialogue. There is grave doubt about the title: is it no. 127 or no. 135 in the Lamprias Catalogue? Or, as it has become popular to call it, is it really the Gryllus?4 There are a number of troublesome lacunae; the work, as it stands, ends suddenly with a gay witticism instead of being continued to a more conventional termination.5 It is only too likely that the more mature Plutarch would have gone on and on; but what would the clever young man who concocted this conceit have done?6

For once, there is a good translation, or paraphrase, the German one of Bruno Snell in his  Plutarch p491(Zürich, 1948), though this version gives almost too exciting an impression of vivacity and wit by omitting the more tiresome sections.

Those interested in Gryllus' remarks on the indecent ways in which men pervert animals to their taste will find a sympathetic exposition in E. G. Boulenger's Animal Mysteries (London, 1927).

p493 985d 1 1 Odysseus. These facts,7 Circe, I believe I have learned and shall not forget them; yet I should be happy to learn from you further whether there are any Greeks among those whom you have changed from the shape of men into wolves and lions.

ECirce. Quite a few, beloved Odysseus. But what is your reason for asking this question?

Odysseus. It is, I swear, because it would bring me noble glory among the Greeks if by your favour I should restore comrades of mine to their original humanity and not allow them to grow old in the unnatural guise of beasts, leading an existence that is so piteous and shameful

Circe. Here's a lad who finds it appropriate that not only himself and his companions, but even total strangers should, through his stupidity, find his ambition their ruin.

Odysseus. This is a new potion8 of words that you are stirring and drugging for me, Circe. It will certainly p495transform me literally into a beast if I am to take your word for it Fthat changing from beast to man spells ruin.

Circe. Haven't you already worked a stranger magic than this on yourself? You who refused an ageless, immortal life at my side and would struggle through a thousand new dangers to a woman who is mortal and, I can assure you, no longer so very young — 986 and this for no other object than to make yourself more gaped at and renowned than you already are, pursuing an empty phantom instead of what is truly good.

Odysseus. All right, let it be as you say, Circe. Why must we quarrel again and again about the same matters? Now please just grant me the favour of letting the men go free.

Circe. By the Black Goddess,9 it's not so simple as that. These creatures are no run of the mill. You must ask them first if they are willing. If they say no, my hero, you'll have to argue with them and convince them. And if you don't, and they win the argument, then you must be content with having exercised poor judgement about yourself and your friends.

BOdysseus. Dear lady, why are you making fun of me? How can they argue with me or I with them so long as they are asses and hogs and lions?

Circe. Courage, courage, my ambitious friend. I'll see to it that you shall find them both receptive and responsive. Or rather, one of the number will be enough to thrust and parry for them all. Presto! You may talk with this one.

p497 Odysseus. And how am I to address him, Circe? Who in the world was he?10

Circe. What's that to do with the issue? Call him Gryllus,11 if you like. I'll retire now to avoid any suggestion that he is arguing against his own convictions to curry favour with me.

2 1 CGryllus. Hello, Odysseus.

Odysseus. And you too, Gryllus, for heaven's sake!

Gryllus. What do you want to ask?

Odysseus. Since I am aware that you have been men, I feel sorry for all of you in your present plight; yet it is only natural that I should be more concerned for those of you who were Greeks before you fell into this misfortune. So now I have asked Circe to remove the spell from any Greek who chooses and restore him to his original shape and let him go back home with us.

Gryllus. Stop, Odysseus! Not a word more! You see, we don't any of us think much of you either, for evidently it was a farce, that talk of your cleverness and your fame as one whose intelligence far surpassed the rest — Da man who boggles at the simple matter of changing from worse to better because he hasn't considered the matter. For just as children dread the doctor's doses12 and run from lessons, the very things that, by changing them from invalids and fools, will make them healthier and wiser, just so you have shied away from the change from one shape to another. At this very moment you are not only living in fear and trembling as a companion of p499Circe, frightened that she may, before you know it, turn you into a pig or a wolf, but you are also trying to persuade us, who live in an abundance of good things, to abandon them, and with them the lady who provides them, Eand sail away with you, when we have again become men, the most unfortunate of all creatures!

Odysseus. To me, Gryllus, you seem to have lost not only your shape, but your intelligence also under the influence of that drug. You have become infected with strange and completely perverted notions. Or was it rather an inclination to swinishness that conjured you into this shape?13

Gryllus. Neither of these, king of Cephallenians.14 But if it is your pleasure to discuss the matter instead of hurling abuse, I shall quickly make you see that we are right to prefer our present life in place of the former one, now that we have tried both.

Odysseus. Go on. I should like to hear you.

3 1 FGryllus. And I, in that case, to instruct you. Let us begin with the virtues, which, we note, inspire you with pride; for you rate yourselves as far superior to animals15 in justice and wisdom and courage and all the rest of them. But answer me this, wisest of men! Once I heard you telling Circe about the land of Cyclopes,16 that though it is not ploughed at all nor does anyone sow there, yet it is naturally so fertile and fecund that it produces spontaneously p501every kind of crops. 987 Do you, then, rate this land higher than rugged, goat-pasturing Ithaca,17 which barely yields the tiller a meagre, churlish, trifling crop after great efforts and much toil? And see that you don't lose your temper and give me a patriotic answer that isn't what you really believe.

Odysseus. I have no need to lie; for though I love and cherish my native soil more, the other wins my approval and admiration.

Gryllus. Then this, we shall say, is the situation: the wisest of men thinks fit to commend and approve one thing Bwhile he loves and prefers another. Now I assume that your answer applies to the spiritual field also, for the situation is the same as with the land:18 that spiritual soil is better which produces a harvest of virtue as a spontaneous crop without toil.

Odysseus. Yes, this too you may assume.

Gryllus. At this moment, then, you are conceding the point that the soul of beasts has a greater natural capacity and perfection for the generation of virtue; for without command or instruction, "unsown and unploughed," as it were, it naturally brings forth and develops such virtue as is proper in each case.

Odysseus. And what sort of virtue, Gryllus, is ever found in beasts?

4 1 Gryllus. Ask rather what sort of virtue is not found in them more than in the wisest of men? CTake first, if you please, courage, in which you take great pride, not even pretending to blush when you are called "valiant" and "sacker of cities."19 Yet you, p503you villain, are the man who by tricks and frauds have led astray men who knew only a straightforward, noble style of war and were unversed in deceit and lies; while on your freedom from scruple you confer the name of the virtue that is least compatible with such nefariousness. Wild beasts, however, you will observe, are guileless and artless in their struggles, whether against one another or against you, and conduct their battles with unmistakably naked courage under the impulse of genuine valour. DNo edict summons them, nor do they fear a writ of desertion. No, it is their nature to flee subjection; with a stout heart they maintain an indomitable spirit to the very end. Nor are they conquered even when physically overpowered; they never give up in their hearts, even while perishing in the fray. In many cases, when beasts are dying, their valour withdraws together with the fighting spirit to some point where it is concentrated in one member and resists the slayer with convulsive movements and fierce anger20 until, like a fire, it is completely extinguished and departs.

Beasts never beg or sue for pity or acknowledge defeat: lion is never slave to lion, or horse to horse through cowardice, Eas man is to man when he unprotestingly accepts the name whose root is cowardice.21 And when men have subdued beasts by snares and tricks, such of them as are full grown refuse food and endure the pangs of thirst until they p505induce and embrace death in place of slavery.22 But nestlings and cubs, which by reason of age are tender and docile, are offered many beguiling allurements and enticements that act as drugs. These give them a taste for unnatural pleasures and modes of life, and in time make them spiritless to the point where they accept and submit to their so‑called "taming," which is really Fan emasculation of their fighting spirit.

These facts make it perfectly obvious that bravery is an innate characteristic of beasts, while in human beings an independent spirit is actually contrary to nature. The point that best proves this, gentle Odysseus, is the fact that in beasts valour is naturally equal in both sexes23 and the female is in no way inferior to the male. She takes her part both in the struggle for existence and in the defence of her brood.24 You have heard, I suppose, of the sow of Crommyon25 which, though a female beast, caused so much trouble to Theseus. 988 That famous Sphinx26 would have got no good of her wisdom as she sat on the heights of Mt. Phicium, weaving her riddles and puzzles, if she had not continued to surpass the Thebans greatly in power and courage. Somewhere thereabouts lived also the Teumesian27 vixen, a "thing atrocious";28 and not far away, they say, was the Pythoness who p507fought with Apollo for the oracle at Delphi.29 Your king30 received Aethe31 from the Sicyusn32 as a recompense for excusing him from military service, making a very wise choice when he preferred a fine, spirited mare to a cowardly man. You yourself have often observed in panthers and lionesses that the female in no way yields to the male in spirit and valour. BYet, while you are off at the wars, your wife sits at home by the fire and troubles herself not so much as a swallow to ward off those who come against herself and her home — and this though she is a Spartan born and bred.33 So why should I go on to mention Carian or Maeonian women?34 Surely from what has been said it is perfectly obvious that men have no natural claim to courage;35 if they did, women would have just as great a portion of valour. It follows that your practice of courage is brought about by legal compulsion, which is neither voluntary nor intentional, but in subservience to custom and censure and moulded by extraneous beliefs and arguments.36 CWhen you face toils and dangers, you do so not because you are courageous, but because you are more afraid of some alternative.37 For just as that one of your companions who is the first to board ship stands up to the light oar, not because he thinks nothing of it, but because he fears and shuns the heavier one;38 just so he who accepts the lash to p509escape the sword, or meets a foe in battle rather than be tortured or killed, does so not from courage to face the one situation, but from fear of the other. So it is clear that all your courage is merely the cowardice of prudence and all your valour merely fear that has the good sense to escape one course by taking another.39 DAnd, to sum up, if you think that you are better in courage than beasts, why do your poets call the doughtiest fighters "wolf-minded"40 and "lion-hearted"41 and "like a boar in valour,"42 though no poet ever called a lion "man-hearted" or a boar "like a man in valour"? But, I imagine, just as when those who are swift are called "wind-footed"43 and those who are handsome are called "godlike,"44 there is exaggeration in the imagery; just so the poets bring in a higher ideal when they compare mighty warriors to something else. And the reason is that the spirit of anger is, as it were, the tempering or the cutting edge of courage. Now beasts use this undiluted in their contests, whereas you men have it mixed with calculation, Eas wine with water, so that it is displaced in the presence of danger and fails you when you need it most. Some of you even declare that anger should not enter at all into fighting, but be dismissed in order to make use of sober calculation;45 their contention is correct so far as self-preservation goes, but is disgracefully false as regards valorous defence. For surely it is absurd for you to find fault with Nature because she did not equip p511your bodies with natural stings, or place fighting tusks among your teeth, or give you nails like curved claws,46 while you yourselves remove or curb the emotional instrument that Nature has given.

5 1 Odysseus. Bless me, Gryllus, you must once have been a very clever sophist,47 Fone may judge, since even as things are, and speaking from your swinishness, you can attack the subject with such fervent ardour. But why have you failed to discuss temperance, the next in order?

Gryllus. Because I thought that you would first wish to take exception to what I have said. But you are eager to hear about temperance since you are the husband of a model of chastity and believe that you yourself have given a proof of self-control by rejecting the embraces of Circe. And in this you are no more continent than any of the beasts; for neither do they desire to consort with their betters, 989 but pursue both pleasure and love with mates of like species. So it is no wonder that, like the Mendesian48 goat in Egypt which, when shut up with many beautiful women, is said not to be eager to consort with them, but is far more excited about nannies, you likewise are contented with the kind of love that is familiar to you and, being a mortal, are not eager to sleep with a goddess. As for the chastity of Penelope, the cawing of countless crows will pour laughter and contempt upon it; for every crow, if her mate dies, remains a widow, not merely for a p513short time, but for nine generations of men.49 BIt follows that your fair Penelope is nine times inferior in chastity to any crow you please.

6 1 Now since you are not unaware that I am a sophist, let me marshal my arguments in some order by defining temperance and analysing the desires according to their kinds. Temperance,50 then, is a curtailment and an ordering of the desires that eliminate those that are extraneous or superfluous and discipline in modest and timely fashion those that are essential.51 You can, of course, observe countless differences in the desires52 . . . and the desire to eat and drink is at once natural and essential, while the pleasures of love, which, though they find their origin in nature, Cyet may be forgone and discarded without much inconvenience, have been called natural, but not essential. But there are desires of another kind, neither essential nor natural, that are imported in a deluge from without as a result of your inane illusions and because you lack true culture. So great is their multitude that the natural desires are, every one of them, all but overwhelmed, as though an alien rabble were overpowering the native citizenry. But beasts have souls completely inaccessible and closed to these adventitious passions and live their lives as free from empty illusions as though they dwelt far from the sea.53 They fall short in the matter of delicate and luxurious living, but solidly p515protect Dtheir sobriety and the better regulation of their desires since those that dwell within them are neither numerous nor alien.

Certainly there was a time when I myself, no less than you now, was dazzled by gold and held it to be an incomparable possession; so likewise I was caught by the lure of silver and ivory and the man who had most property of this sort seemed to me to be a blissful favourite of the gods, whether he was a Phrygian or a Carian, one more villainous than Dolon54 or more unfortunate than Priam.55 In that situation, constantly activated56 by these desires, I reaped no joy or pleasure from the other things of life, which I had sufficiently and to spare. EI grumbled at my life, finding myself destitute of the most important things and a loser in the lottery of fortune. This is the reason why, as I recall, when I saw you once in Crete tricked out in holiday attire, it was not your intellect or your virtue that I envied, but the softness of the elegantly woven garment and the beautiful wool of your purple cloak that I admired and gaped at (the clasp, I believe, was of gold and had some frivolity worked on it in exquisitely fine intaglio). I followed you about as enchanted as a woman. But now I am rid and purified of all those empty illusions.57 I have no eyes for gold and silver Fand can pass them by just like any common stone; and as for your fine robes and tapestries, I swear there's nothing sweeter for me to rest in when I'm full than deep, p517soft mud.58 None, then, of such adventitious desires has a place in our souls; our life for the most part is controlled by the essential desires and pleasures. As for those that are non-essential, but merely natural, we resort to them without either irregularity or excess.

7 1 990 Let us, in fact, first describe these pleasures. Our pleasure in fragrant substances, those that by their nature stimulate our sense of smell, besides the fact that our enjoyment of this is simple and costs nothing, also contributes to utility by providing a way for us to tell good food from bad. For the tongue is said to be, and is, a judge of what is sweet or bitter or sour, when liquid flavours combine and fuse with the organ of taste; but our sense of smell, even before we taste, is a judge that can much more critically distinguish the quality of each article of food than any royal taster59 in the world. It admits what is proper, rejects what is alien, and will not let it touch or give pain to the taste, Bbut informs on and denounces what is bad before any harm is done. And in other respects smell is no nuisance to us, as it is to you, forcing to collect and mix together incense of one kind or another and cinnamon60 and nard61 and malobathrum62 and Arabian aromatic reeds,63 with the aid of a formidable dyer's or witch's art, of the sort to which you give the name of unguentation, p519thus buying great price an effeminate, emasculating luxury which has absolutely no real use. Yet, though such is its nature, it has depraved not only every woman, but lately the greater part of men as well, so that they refuse to sleep even with their own wives unless they come to bed Creeking with myrrh and scented powders.64 But sows attract boars and nannies bucks and other female creatures their consorts by means of their own special odours; scented, as they are, with pure dew and grassy meadows, they are attracted to the nuptial union by mutual affection.65 The females are not coy and do not cloak their desires with deceits or trickeries or denials; nor do the males, driven on by the sting of mad lust, purchase the act of procreation by money or toil or servitude. No! Both parties celebrate at the proper time a love without deceit or hire, a love which in the season of spring66 awakens, like the burgeoning of plants and trees, the desire of animals, and then immediately extinguishes it. DNeither does the female continue to receive the male after she has conceived, nor does the male attempt her.67 So slight and feeble is the regard we have for pleasure: our whole concern is with Nature. Whence it comes about that to this very day the desires of beasts have encompassed no homosexual mating.68 But you have a fair amount of such trafficking among your high and mighty nobility, to say nothing of the baser p521sort. Agamemnon69 came to Boeotia hunting for Argynnus, who tried to elude him, and slandering the sea and winds70 . . . Ethen he gave his noble self a noble bath in Lake Copaïs to drown his passion there and get rid of his desire. Just so Heracles,71 pursuing a beardless lad, lagged behind the other heroes72 and deserted the expedition. On the Rotunda of Ptoian Apollo73 one of your men secretly inscribed fair is Achilles74 — when Achilles already had a son.b And I hear that the inscription is still in place.75 But a cock that mounts another for the lack of a female is burned alive because some prophet or seer declares that such an event is an important and terrible omen. On this basis even men themselves acknowledge that beasts have a better claim to temperance Fand the non-violation of nature in their pleasures. Not even Nature, with Law for her ally, can keep within bounds the unchastened vice of your hearts; but as though swept by the current of their lusts beyond the barrier at many points, men do such deeds as wantonly outrage Nature, upset her order, and confuse her distinctions. For men have, in fact, attempted to consort with goats76 and sows and mares, and women have gone mad with lust for p523male beasts. 991From such unions your Minotaurs77 and Aegipans,78 and, I suppose, your Sphinxes79 and Centaurs80 have arisen. Yet it is through hunger that dogs have occasionally eaten a man; and birds have tasted of human flesh through necessity; but no beast has ever attempted a human body for lustful reasons.81 But the beasts I have mentioned and many others have been victims of the violent and lawless lusts of man.

8 1 Though men are so vile and incontinent where the desires I have spoken of are concerned, they can be proved to be even more so in the case of essential desires, being here far inferior to animals in temperance.82 These are the desires for food and drink, Bin which we beasts always take our pleasure along with some sort of utility; whereas you, in your pursuit of pleasure rather than natural nourishment, are punished by many serious ailments which, welling up from one single source, the surfeit of your bodies, fill you with all manner of flatulence that is difficult to purge.83 In the first place each species of animal has one single food proper to it, grass or some root or fruit. Those that are carnivorous resort to no other kind of nourishment, nor do they deprive those weaker than themselves of sustenance; but the lion lets the deer, and the wolf lets the sheep, feed in its natural pasture. CBut man in his pleasures is led p525astray by gluttony to everything edible;84 he tries and tastes everything as if he had not yet come to recognize what is suitable and proper for him; alone of all creatures he is omnivorous.85

In the first place his eating of flesh is caused by no lack of means or methods,86 for he can always in season harvest and garner and gather in such a succession of plants and grains as will all but tire him out with their abundance; but driven on by luxurious desires and satiety with merely essential nourishment, he pursues illicit food, made unclean by the slaughter of beasts; and he does this in a much more cruel way than the most savage beasts of prey. Blood and gore and raw flesh are the proper diet of kite and wolf and snake; Dto man they are an appetizer.87 Then, too, man makes use of every kind of food and does not, like beasts abstain from most kinds and consequently make war on a few only that he must have for food. In a word, nothing that flies or swims or moves on land has escaped your so‑called civilized and hospitable tables.

9 1 Well, then. It is admitted that you use animals as appetizers to sweeten your fare.88 Why, therefore89 . . . Animal intelligence, on the contrary, allows no room for useless and pointless arts; and in the case of essential ones, Ewe do not make one man with constant p527study cling to one department of knowledge and rivet him jealously to that; nor do we receive our arts as alien products or pay to be taught them. Our intelligence produces them on the spot unaided, as its own congenital and legitimate skills. I have heard that in Egypt90 everyone is a physician; and in the case of beasts each one is not only his own specialist in medicine, but also in the providing of food, in warfare and hunting as well as in self-defence and music, in so far as any kind of animal has a natural gift for it. From whom have we swine learned, when we are sick, to resort to rivers to catch crabs? Who taught tortoises to devour marjoram after eating the snake?91 And who instructed Cretan goats,92 Fwhen they are pierced by an arrow, to look for dittany, after eating which the arrowhead falls out? For if you speak the truth and say that Nature is their teacher, you are elevating the intelligence of animals to the most sovereign and wisest of first principles. If you do not think that it should be called either reason or intelligence, it is high time for you to cast about for some fairer and even more honourable term to describe it, since certainly the faculty that it brings to bear in action is better and more remarkable.93 992It is no uninstructed or untrained faculty, but rather self-taught and self-sufficient — and not for lack of strength. It is just because of the health and completeness of its native virtue that it is indifferent to the contributions to its intelligence supplied by the lore of others. Such animals, at any rate, as man for amusement or easy living induces to p529accept instruction and training have understanding to grasp what they are taught even when it goes contrary to their physical endowment, so superior are their mental powers. I say nothing of puppies that are trained as hunters, or colts schooled to keep time in their gait,94 or crows that are taught to talk, or dogs, to jump through revolving hoops. In the theatres horses and steers Bgo through an exact routine in which they lie down or dance or hold a precarious pose or perform movements not at all easy even for men;95 and they remember what they have been taught, these exhibitions of docility which are not in the least useful for anything else. If you are doubtful that we can learn arts, then let me tell you that we can even teach them. When partridges96 are making their escape, they accustom their fledglings to hide by falling on their backs and holding a lump of earth over themselves with their claws. You can observe storks on the roof, the adults showing the art of flying to the young as they make their trial flights.97 CNightingales98 set the example for their young to sing; while nestlings that are caught young and brought up by human care are poorer singers, as though they had left the care of their teacher too early.99 . . . and since I have entered into this new body of mine, I marvel at those arguments by which the sophists100 brought me to consider all creatures except man irrational and senseless.

Odysseus. So now, Gryllus, you are transformed. p531Do you attribute reason even to the sheep and the ass?

Gryllus. From even these, dearest Odysseus, it is perfectly possible to gather that animals have a natural endowment of reason and intellect. DFor just as one tree is not more nor less inanimate than another, but they are all in the same state of insensibility, since none is endowed with soul, in the same way one animal would not be thought to be more sluggish or indocile mentally than another if they did not all possess reason and intellect to some degree — though some have a greater or less proportion than others. Please note that cases of dullness and stupidity in some animals are demonstrated by the cleverness and sharpness of others — as when you compare an ass and a sheep with a fox or a wolf or a bee. It is like comparing Polyphemus to you or that dunce Coroebus101 to your grandfather Autolycus.102 EI scarcely believe that there is such a spread between one animal and another as there is between man and man in the matter of judgement and reasoning and memory.

Odysseus. But consider, Gryllus: it is not a fearful piece of violence to grant reason to creatures that have no inherent knowledge of God?

p533 Gryllus. Then shall we deny, Odysseus, that so wise and remarkable a man as you had Sisyphus for a father?103


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 But talking animals were not new (Hirzel, Der Dialog, I, p338 f.).

2 So the sensible Hirzel (op. cit. II, p131); see also Hartman, De Plutarcho, p576. Stylometry, however, does not encourage the view that this is an early work (Sandbach, Class. Quart. XXXIII, p196).

3 Plutarch actually quotes the proverb in his Life of Demosthenes, xi.5 (851B) and Mor. 803D, but does not seem to realize its possible application here. See the note on 995F infra.

4 Ziegler (RE, s.v. "Plutarchos," 743) says that Gryllus is impossible in spite of the Platonic examples, but appears to admit Ammonius (no. 84 in the Lamprias Catalogue).

5 See the last note on 992E infra.

6 Curiously enough, Xenophon is the most famous son of the historical Gryllus and he is said to have been once a prisoner in Boeotia (Philostratus, Vit. Soph. 12).

7 For the beginning cf. Horace, Sat. II.5.1:

"Haec quoque, Teresia, praeter narrata . . .,"

a form which is assumed to go back to Menippus.

8 By which she transformed men into beasts: Odyssey, X.236.

9 Hecate, goddess of black magic, who was invoked for such functions at least from the time of Euripides' Medea (394 ff.).

10 After the Homeric formula, e.g.Odyssey, X.325.

11 "Grunter," "Swine."

12 Cf. Lucretius, IV.11 ff.; Plato, Laws 720A. If one takes Laws, 646C literally, there was some reason for fear.

13 That is, you were always a swine. It is only your shape that is altered.

14 After Homer, Iliad, II.631; Odyssey, XXIV.378; or, taking the pun, "King of Brains," "Mastermind."

15 Cf. 962A supra; on the virtues of animals see Aristotle, Historia Animal. I.1 (488 F12 ff.); Plato, Laches, 196Eal.

16 Homer, Odyssey, IX.108 ff.

17 Odyssey, XIII.242 ff.; cf. IV.606.

18 The principle ubi bene, ibi patria: Pacuvius, frag. 380 (Warmington, Remains of Old Latin, II, p303); Aristophanes, Plutus, 1151; Cicero, Tusc. Disp. V.37, 108; Appian, B. C. II.8.50.

19 Iliad, II.278.

20 Like eels or snakes whose tails continue to twitch long after they are dead.

21 "Slavery" (douleia) as though derived from "cowardice" (deilia).

22 They also refuse to breed in captivity: Pliny, Nat. Hist. X.182al.

23 Cf. the Cynic doctrine in Diogenes Laertius, VI.12; virtue is the same for women as for men.

24 Cf. Plato, Laws, 814B.

25 Cf. Life of Theseus, 9 (4D‑E), which gives a rationalizing version of the story and converts the sow Phaea into a female bandit of the same name. See also Frazer on Apollodorus, Epitome I.1 (L. C. L., vol. II, p129); Plato, Laches, 196E.

26 Cf. Frazer on Apollodorus, Library, III.5.8 (L. C. L., vol. I, p347).

27 Cf. Frazer on Pausanias, IX.19.1.

28 Presumably a quotation which has not been identified.

29 Cf. Mor. 293C, 421C; Frazer on Apollodorus, I.4.1 (L. C. L., vol. I, p27).

30 Agamemnon (Iliad, XXIII.295‑299).

31 A racing mare.

32 Echepolus.

33 As a daughter of Icarius, the brother of Tyndareüs, she was a first cousin of Helen.

34 Extreme examples of female lassitude, when even the Spartan Penelope is hopeless by Gryllus' high standards.

35 Cf. Epicurus, frag. 517 (Usener).

36 Cf. Aelian, De Natura Animal. VI.1.

37 Cf. Lucan, VII.104 f.: "Multos in summa pericula misit venturi timor ipse mali."

38 He chooses the light oar, not because it is a mere nothing to work, but because he dreads the heavier one.

39 Cf. Plato, Phaedo, 68D.

40 In Homer (Iliad, XV.430) and elsewhere used only as a proper name. Plutarch's source is probably the lost Epic Cycle.

41 Iliad, V.639; VII.228; of Odysseus himself in Odyssey, IV.724.

42 Iliad, IV.253.

43 Iliad, II.786 and often (of Iris).

44 Iliad, III.16 and often.

45 For the calculation of fear see Plato, Laws, 644D.

46 "Comparative anatomy teaches us that man resembles frugivorous animals in everything, and carnivorous in nothing; he has neither claws wherewith to seize his prey, nor distinct and pointed teeth to tear the living fibre" (Shelley, A Vindication of Natural Diet; see the introduction to the following essay). For some modern remarks cf. Boulenger, Animal Mysteries, p196.

47 Gryllus acknowledges the truth of this soft impeachment later on, 989B infra.

48 Cf. Herodotus, II.46; Strabo, XVII.19; and contrast Aelian, De Natura Animal. VII.19.

49 Cf. Mor. 415C and the note there.

50 See Epicurus, frag. 456 (Usener); contrast Aristotle, Nic. Ethics III.10 ff. (1117 B23 ff.); [Plato], Def. 411E; al. For the temperance of animals see Aristotle, De Gen. Animal. I.4 (717 A27).

51 Cf. Mor. 127A, 584D f.

52 There is probably a short lacuna at this point.

53 See Plato, Laws, 704E ff. (and Shorey, What Plato Said, ad loc. p630): the sea is the symbol of mischievous foreign influence. Cf. Aristotle, Politics, 1327 A11 ff.

54 See IliadX, where Dolon betrays Troy.

55 See especially his speech, Iliad, XXII.38‑76.

56 Like a puppet on strings.

57 Man alone has luxury: Pliny, Nat. Hist. VII.5.

58 Cf. Aelian, De Natura Animal. V.45.

59 The servant who presented the dishes at a king's table to make certain that none of them was poisoned; cf. Athenaeus, 171B ff. On the collegium praegustatorum at Rome see Furneaux on Tacitus, Annals, XII.66.5 and Class. Phil. XXVII, p160.

60 The aromatic bark of various species of Cinnamomum, especially C. Zeylanicum Breyne, imported from India.

61 As an import from north-eastern India (probably meant here), the rootstock of spikenard, Nardostachys jatamansi DC.

62 The leaves of a plant of uncertain identity that grew in the Far East, perhaps Indian patchouli, Pogostemon Patchouly Pellet., or perhaps a type of cinnamon; cf. Pliny, Nat. Hist. XXIII.93.

63 Probably here sweet flag, Acorus calamus L.

64 Cf. Pliny's frequent and indignant remarks, e.g. Nat. Hist. XII.29 and 83; also Seneca, Qu. Nat. VII.30‑31.

65 Cf. Mor. 493F; Plato, Laws, 840D; Oppian, Cyn. I.378.

66 Cf. Pliny, Nat. Hist. X.171; Philo, 48 (p123); Aelian, De Natura Animal. IX.63; Oppian, Hal. I.473 ff.

67 But see Oppian, Cyn. III.146 ff.

68 Cf. Plato, Laws, 836C; but see Pliny, Nat. Hist. X.166; Aelian, De Natura Animal. XV.11; Varia Hist. I.15al.

69 See Barber and Butler on Propertius, III.7.21.

70 Probably a brief lacuna should be assumed.

71 The story of Hylas is related by Theocritus, XIII, Apollonius Rhodius, I.1207‑1272, Propertius, I.20al.

72 The Argonauts.

73 The famous shrine in Boeotia.

74 On the formula see Robinson and Fluck, "Greek Love Names" (Johns Hopkins Archaeol. Stud. XXIII, 1937).

75 Reiske acutely observes that this is presumably an annotation of Plutarch himself, speaking not from Gryllus' character, but from his own. Since Odysseus, Achilles, and Gryllus were contemporaries, it would hardly be surprising that the inscription should still be there. And if it were, how would Gryllus know?

76 See Gow on Theocritus, I.86; Bergen Evans, op. cit. 101 f., and on the "vileness" of animals, p173. For the general problem see, e.g., J. Rosenbaum, Geschichte der Lustseuche im Altertume (Berlin, 1904), pp274 ff.

77 Cf. Frazer on Apollodorus, III.1.4 (L. C. L., vol. I, pp305‑307); Philo, 66 (p131).

78 "Goat Pans"; cf. Hyginus, fable 155; Mela, I.8.48.

79 See Frazer on Apollodorus, III.5.8 (L. C. L., vol. I, p347).

80 See Frazer on Apollodorus, Epitome, I.20 (L. C. L., vol. II, p148); Oxford Classical Dictionary, s.v. "Centaurs."

81 But see, e.g.Aelian, De Natura Animal. XV.14.

82 Cf. Philo, 47 (p122).

83 Cf. Mor. 131F.

84 Cf. 964F supra; and with the whole passage cf. the impressive proem to the seventh book of Pliny's Natural History.

85 "Man is the only animal liable to the disease of a continuously insatiable appetite." Pliny, Nat. Hist. XI.283; cf. Philo, 62 (p136); Lucan, IV.373‑381al.

86 Cf. 993 infra.

87 Cf. 993D, 995C infra.

88 Or "as supplementary food to make your basic fare more agreeable" (Andrews).

89 There is probably a considerable lacuna at this point: it is indicated in one of the MSS. The sense may perhaps be: "Why, in providing yourselves with meat for your luxurious living, have you invented a special art whose practitioners make cookery their sole study? Animal intelligence, on the contrary," etc.

90 This curious statement may come from a misreading of Herodotus, II.84.

91 Cf. 974B supra and the note.

92 Cf. 974D supra and the note.

93 That is, "better" than human intelligence.

94 Like our trotters or pacers.

95 A somewhat similar performance of elephants is described in Philo, 27 (pp113 f.).

96 Cf. 971C supra; Mor. 494E and the note.

97 In Aelian, De Natura Animal. VIII.22 will be found the tale of a stork who did not learn in time.

98 Cf. 973B supra.

99 There is probably a long lacuna at this point.

100 Probably the Stoics are meant (by anachronism).

101 For Haupt's fine correction (Hermes, VI, p4Opuscula, III, p552) cf. Leutsch and Schneidewin, Paroemiographi Graeci, I.101 (Zenobius, IV.58); Lucian, Philopseudis, 3. Coroebus was proverbially so stupid that he tried to count the waves of the sea.

102 Odyssey, XIX.394 ff.: Autolycus surpassed all men "in thefts and perjury," a gift of Hermes.

103 Most critics (and very emphatically Ziegler) believe that the end, perhaps quite a long continuation, is lost; but Reiske ingeniously supposes Gryllus' final answer to mean: "If those who do not know God cannot possess reason, then you, wise Odysseus, can scarcely be descended from such a notorious atheist as Sisyphus." (For Sisyphus' famous assertion that "the gods are only a utilitarian invention" see Critias, Sisyphus, frag. 1: Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag. pp771 f.).

There would, then, be no further point in prolonging the discussion; and no doubt by this time Odysseus has changed his mind about the desirability of any further metamorphosis of his interlocutor, since the last argument touches him nearly. Sisyphus was said by some to be his real father (Mor. 301D).

Others, however, believe that some discussion of further virtues, such as natural piety, must have followed; and perhaps the account closed with a consideration of justice. But would Odysseus have been convinced (cf. 986B)? Or is this as good a place as any to end? Plutarch used no stage directions, so that, as in the classical Platonic dialogues, when the characters stop speaking, the discussion is over and we are left to draw our own conclusions. The undoubted fact, however, that the work is mutilated in several other places allows us to leave the question open.


Thayer's Notes:

a The consensus is that this is indeed the Gryllus; but the editor would have it not absolutely certain (see his Introduction), and the Loeb edition therefore titles the dialogue Beasts Are Rational (Bruta animalia ratione uti).

b As thruout Antiquity, it was OK for a man to have erotic desires for pre-pubescent boys, but not for other full-grown men.


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