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This webpage reproduces the essay
Quomodo adolescens poetas audire debeat


as published in Vol. I
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1927

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. I) Plutarch, Moralia

 p72  How the Young Man Should Study Poetry


The work appears in pp72‑197 of Vol. I of the Loeb Classical Library's edition of the Moralia, first published in 1927. The Greek text and the English translation (by F. C. Babbitt) are now in the public domain pursuant to the 1978 revision of the U. S. Copyright Code, since the copyright expired in 1955 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.)

Loeb Edition Introduction

Plutarch's essay on the study of poetry is not a discussion of the essentials of poetry, nor an analysis of its various kinds after the manner of Aristotle's Poetics, but it is concerned with poetry only as a means of training the young in preparation for the study of philosophy later. Some experience with the adumbrations of philosophic doctrines which are to be found in poetry will, in the opinion of the author, make such doctrines seem less strange when they are met later in the actual study of philosophy.

This training is to be imparted, not by confining the reading to selected passages, but by teaching the young to recognize and ignore the false and fabulous in poetry, to choose always the better interpretation, and, in immoral passages where art is employed for art's sake, not to be deluded into approving vicious sentiments because of their artistic presentation. Such passages may be offset by other passages from the same author or from another author, and, as a last resort, one may try his hand at emending unsavoury lines to make them conform to a higher ethical standard. This last proposal seems to the modern reader a weak subterfuge, but it was a practice not unknown even before Plutarch's time.

Philology, in the narrower sense, Plutarch says, is a science in itself, and a knowledge of it is not  p73 essential to an understanding of literature (a fact enunciated from time to time by modern educators as a new discovery). But, on the other hand, Plutarch strongly insists that an exact appreciation of words and of their meanings in different contexts is indispensable to the understanding of any work of poetry.

The various points in the essay are illustrated by plentiful quotations drawn in the main from Homer, Hesiod, Archilochus, Pindar, Simonides, Theognis, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Menander. These are accompanied by many keen and intelligent observations (such, for example, as that regarding Paris), which attest Plutarch's wide and careful reading in the classical authors.

The fact that Plutarch does not use the methods of historical criticism will not escape continue reader, and, although this seems to us a great defect in the essay, it is whole in keeping with the spirit of Plutarch's age. On the other hand there is well shown the genial and kindly Plutarch, who wishes to believe only good of all men, including the poets, however much they fall short of the standards set by the divine Homer.

 p75  14E 1 If, my dear Marcus Sedatus, it is true, as the poet Philoxenus used to say, that of meats those that are not meat, and of fish those that are not fish, have the best flavour, let us leave the expounding of this matter to those persons of whom Cato said that their palates are more sensitive than their minds. And so of philosophical discourses it is clear to us that those seemingly not at all philosophical, or even serious, are found more enjoyable by the very young, who present themselves at such lectures as willing and submissive hearers. For in perusing not only Aesop's Fables, and Tales from the Poets, but even the Abaris of Heracleides, the Lycon of Ariston, and philosophic doctrines about the soul when these are combined with tales from mythology,1 they get inspiration as well as pleasure. FWherefore we ought not only to keep the young decorous in the pleasures of everything and drinking, but, even more, in connexion with what they hear and read, by using in moderation, as a relish, that which gives pleasure, we should accustom them to seek what is useful and salutary therein. For close-shut gates do not  p77 preserve a city from capture if it admit the enemy through one; nor does continence in the other pleasures of sense save a young man, 15if he unwittingly abandons himself to that which comes through hearing. On the contrary, inasmuch as this form of pleasure engages more closely the man that is naturally given to thought and reason, so much the more, if neglected, does it injure and corrupt him that receives it. Since, then, it is neither possible, perhaps, nor profitable to debar from poetry a boy as old as my Soclarus and your Cleander now are, let us keep a very close watch over them, in the firm belief that they require oversight in their reading even more than in the streets. Accordingly, I have made up my mind to commit to writing and to send to you some thoughts on poetry which it occurred to me recently to express. BI beg that you will take them and peruse them, and if they seem to you to be no worse than the things called amethysts2 which some persons on convivial occasions hang upon their persons or take beforehand, then impart them to Cleander, and thus forestall his natural disposition, which, because it is slow in nothing, but impetuous and livery in everything, is more subject to such influences.

Bad may be found in the head of the cuttle-fish; good there is also,3

because it is very pleasant to eat but it makes one's sleep full of bad dreams and subject to strange and disturbing fancies, as they say. CSimilarly also in the art of poetry there is much that is pleasant and nourishing for the mind of a youth, but quite as much  p79 that is disturbing and misleading, unless in the hearing of it he have proper oversight. For it may be said, as it seems, not only of the land of the Egyptians but also of poetry, that it yields

Drugs, and some are good when mixed and others baneful4

to those who cultivate it.

Hidden therein are love and desire and winning converse,

Suasion that steals away the mind of the very wisest.5

For the element of deception in it does not gain any hold on utterly witless and foolish persons. DThis is the ground of Simonides' answer to the man who said to him, "Why are the Thessalians the only people whom you do not deceive?" His answer was, "Oh, they are too ignorant to be deceived by me"; and Gorgias called tragedy a deception wherein he who deceives is more honest than he who does not deceive, and he who is deceived is wiser than he who is not deceived. Shall we then stop the ears of the young, as those of the Ithacans were stopped, with a hard and unyielding wax, and force them to put to sea in the Epicurean boat, and avoid poetry and steer their course clear of it; or rather shall we set them against some upright standard of reason and there bind them fast, guiding and guarding their judgement, that it may not be carried away from the course by pleasure towards that which will do them hurt?a

ENo, not even Lycurgus, the mighty son of Dryas6

had sound sense, because, when many became drunk and violent, he went about uprooting the grapevines instead of bringing the springs of water nearer,  p81 and thus chastening the "frenzied god," as Plato says, "through correction by another, a sober, god."7 For the tempering of wine with water removes its harmfulness without depriving it at the same time of its usefulness. FSo let us not root up or destroy the Muses' vine of poetry, but where the mythical and dramatic part grows all riotous8 and luxuriant, through pleasure unalloyed, which gives it boldness and obstinacy in seeking acclaim, let us take it in hand and prune it and pinch it back. But where with its grace it approaches a true kind of culture, and the sweet allurement of its language is not fruitless or vacuous, there let us introduce philosophy and blend it with poetry. For as the mandragora, when it grows beside the vine and imparts its influence to the wine, makes this weigh less heavily on those who drink it, so poetry, by taking up its themes from philosophy and blending them with fable, renders the task of learning light and agreeable for the young. Wherefore poetry should not be avoided by those who are intending to pursue philosophy, but they should use poetry as an introductory exercise in philosophy, by training themselves habitually to see the profitable in what gives pleasure, and to find satisfaction therein; 16and if there be nothing profitable, to combat such poetry and be dissatisfied with it. For this is the beginning of education,

If one begin each task in proper way

So is it likely will the ending be,9

as Sophocles says.

2 First of all, then, the young man should be introduced into poetry with nothing in his mind so  p83 well imprinted, or so ready at hand, as the saying, "Many the lies the poets tell,"10 some intentionally and some unintentionally; intentionally, because for the purpose of giving pleasure and gratification to the ear (and this is what most people look for in poetry) Bthey feel that the truth is too stern in comparison with fiction. For the truth, because it is what actually happens, does not deviate from its course, even though the end be unpleasant; whereas fiction, being a verbal fabrication, very readily follows a roundabout route, and turns aside from the painful to what is more pleasant. For not metre nor figure of speech nor loftiness of diction nor aptness of metaphor nor unity of composition has so much allurement and charm, as a clever interweaving of fabulous narrative. But, just as in pictures, colour is more stimulating than line-drawing Cbecause it is life-like, and creates an illusion, is more striking, and gives more satisfaction, than the work which is elaborate in metre and diction, but devoid of myth and fiction. This explains why Socrates, being induced by some dreams to take up poetry, since he was not himself a plausible or naturally clever workman in falsehood, inasmuch as he had been the champion of truth all his life, put into verse the fables of Aesop,11 assuming that there can be no poetic composition which has no addition of falsehood. It is true that we know of sacrifices without dancing or flute, but we do not know of any poetic composition without fable or without falsehood. The verses of Empedocles and of Parmenides, the Antidotes against Poisons of Nicander, and the maxims of Theognis, are merely compositions which have borrowed from poetic  p85 art its metre and lofty style as a vehicle in order to avoid plodding along in prose. DWhenever, therefore, in the poems of a man of note and repute some strange and disconcerting statement either about the gods or lesser deities or about virtue is made by the author, he who accepts the statement as true is carried off his feet, and has his opinions perverted; whereas he who always remembers and keeps clearly in mind the sorcery of the poetic art in dealing with falsehood, who is able on every such occasion to say to it,

"Device more subtly cunning than the lynx,12

why knit your brows when jesting, why pretend to instruct when practising deception?" Ewill not suffer any dire effects or even acquire any base beliefs, but he will check himself when he feels afraid of Poseidon13 and is in terror lest the god rend the earth asunder and lay bare the nether world; he will check himself when he is feeling wroth at Apollo in behalf of the foremost of the Achaeans,

Whose praises he himself did sing, himself

Was present at the feast, these words he spoke

Himself, and yet himself brought death to him;14

he will cease to shed tears over the dead Achilles and over Agamemnon15 in the nether world, as they stretch out their impotent and feeble arms in their desire to be alive; and if, perchance, he is beginning to be disturbed by their suffering and overcome by the enchantment, he will not hesitate to say to himself,

 p87  Hasten eager to the light, and all you saw here

FLay to heart that you may tell your wife hereafter.16

Certainly Homer has put this gracefully in reference to the visit to the shades, indicating that it is fit stuff for a woman's ear because of the element of fable in it.

Such things as this are what the poets fabricate intentionally, but more numerous are the things which they do not fabricate, but think and believe in their own hearts, and then impart to us in their false colouring. Take for example what Homer has said relating to Zeus:

17In the scales he placed two fates of Death so grievous,

One of Achilles and the other of horse-taming Hector;

Grasping the middle he poised it, and Hector's fated day descended.

Down to Hades he went, and Phoebus Apollo forsook him.17

Now Aeschylus has fitted a whole tragedy to this story, giving it the title of The Weighing of Souls, and has placed beside the scales of Zeus on the one side Thetis, and on the other Dawn, entreating for their sons who are fighting. But it is patent to everybody that this is a mythical fabrication which has been created to please or astonish the hearer. But in the lines

BZeus, appointed to decide the outcome of men's fighting18


A fault doth God create in men

Whene'er he wills to crush a house in woe,19

we have at last statements in accord with their opinion and belief, as they thus publish to us and try to make us share their delusion and ignorance  p89 regarding the gods. Then again the monstrous tales of visits to the shades, and the descriptions, which in awful language create spectres and pictures of blazing rivers and hideous places and grim punishments, do not blind very many people Cto the fact that fable and falsehood in plenty have been mingled with them like poison in nourishing food. And not Homer nor Pindar nor Sophocles really believed that these things were so when they wrote:

From there the slow-moving rivers of dusky night

Belch forth a darkness immeasurable,20


On past Ocean's streams they went and the headland of Leucas,21


The narrow throat of Hades and the refluent depths.22

However, take the case of those who, bewailing and fearing death as something piteous, or want of burial as something terrible, have given utterance to sentiments like these:

Go not hence and leave me behind unwept, unburied,23


Forth from his body went his soul on wing to Hades,

DMourning its fate and leaving its vigor and manhood,24


Destroy me not untimely; for 'tis sweet

To see the light. Compel me not to gaze

Upon the regions underneath the earth.25

These are the voices of persons affected by emotion  p91 and prepossessed by opinions and delusions. For this reason such sentiments take a more powerful hold on us and disturb us the more, inasmuch as we become infected by their emotions and by the weakness from whence they proceed. Against these influences, then, once more let us equip the young from the very outset to keep ever sounding in their ears the maxim, Ethat the art of poetry is not greatly concerned with the truth, and that the truth about these matters, even for those who have made it their sole business to search out and understand the verities, is exceedingly hard to track down and hard to get hold of, as they themselves admit; and let these words of Empedocles be constantly in mind:

Thus no eye of man hath seen nor ear hath heard this,

Nor can it be comprehended by the mind,26

and the words of Xenophanes:

Never yet was born a man nor ever shall be

FKnowing the truth about the gods and what I say of all things,27

and by all means the words of Socrates, in Plato,28 when he solemnly disavows all acquaintance with these subjects. For young people then will give less heed to the poets, as having some knowledge of these matters, when they see that such questions stagger the philosophers.

3 We shall steady the young man still more if, at his first entrance into poetry, we give a general description of the poetic art as an imitative art and faculty analogous to painting. And let him not  p93 merely be acquainted with the oft‑repeated saying that "poetry is articulate painting, 18and painting is inarticulate poetry," but let us teach him in addition that when we see a lizard or an ape or the face of Thersites in a picture, we are pleased with it and admire it, not as a beautiful thing, but as a likeness. For by its essential nature the ugly cannot become beautiful; but the imitation, be it concerned with what is base or with what is good, if only it attain to the likeness, is commended. If, on the other hand, it produces a beautiful picture of an ugly body, it fails to give what propriety and probability require. Some painters even depict unnatural acts, as Timomachus painted a picture of Medea slaying her children, and Theon of Orestes slaying his mother, and Parrhasius of the feigned madness of Odysseus, Band Chaerephanes of the lewd commerce of women with men. In these matters it is especially necessary that the young man should be trained by being taught that what we commend is not the action which is the subject of the imitation, but the art, in case the subject in hand has been properly imitated. Since, then, poetry also often gives an imitative recital of base deeds, or of wicked experiences and characters, the young man must not accept as true what is admired and successful therein, nor approve it as beautiful, but should simply commend it as fitting and proper to the character in hand. For just as when we hear the squealing of a pig, the creaking of a windlass, the whistling of the winds, Cand the booming of the sea, we are uneasy and annoyed; but if anybody gives a plausible imitation of these, as Parmeno imitated a pig, and Theodorus a windlass, we are pleased; and just as we avoid a diseased and ulcerous person  p95 as an unpleasant sight, but take delight in seeing Aristophon's Philoctetes and Silanion's Jocasta, who are represented on the stage as pining away or dying; so too the young man, as he reads what Thersites the buffoon, or Sisyphus the seducer of women, or Batrachus the bawd, is represented as saying or doing, Dmust be taught to commend the faculty and art which imitates these things, but to repudiate and condemn the disposition and the actions which it imitates. For it is not the same thing at all to imitate something beautiful and something beautifully, since "beautiful" means "fitting and properly" and ugly things are "fitting and proper" for the ugly. Witness the boots made for the crippled feet of Damonidas, who prayed once, when he had lost them, that the man who had stolen them might have feet which they would fit; they were sorry boots, it is true, but they fitted their owner. Consider the following lines:

If one must needs do wrong, far best it were

To do it for a kingdom's sake,29


Achieve the just man's good repute, but deeds

That fit the knave; therein shall be your gain,30


A talent dowry! Shall I not accept?

Can I still live if I should overlook

A talent? Shall I ever sleep again

If I should give it up? In Hell shall I

Not suffer for impiety to gold?31

These, it is true, are wicked and fallacious sentiments,  p97 but fitting respectively for Eteocles, Ixion, and an old usurer. If then we remind our sons that authors write them, not because they commend or approve them, Fbut with the idea of investing mean and unnatural characters and persons with unnatural and mean sentiments, they could not be harmed by the opinions of poets; nay, on the contrary, the suspicion felt against the person in question discredits both his actions and words, as being mean because spoken or done by a mean man. Of such sort is the account of Paris in his wife's arms after his cowardly escape from battle.32 For since the poet represents no other save this licentious and adulterous man as dallying with a woman in the daytime, it is clear that he classes such sensuality as a shame and reproach.

4 19In these passages, close attention must be given to see whether the poet himself gives any hints against the sentiments expressed to indicate that they are distasteful to himself; just as Menander in the prologue of his Thaïs has written:

Oh, sing to me, my muse, of such a girl,

One bold and fair, and of persuasive tongue,

Unjust, exclusive, and demanding much,

In love with none, but always feigning love.33

BBut Homer has best employed this method; for he in advance discredits the mean and calls our attention to the good in what is said. His favourable introductions are after this manner:

Then at once he spoke: his words were gentle and winning34


 p99  He would stand by his side, and speak soft words to restrain him.35

But in discrediting in advance, he all but protests and proclaims that we are not to follow or heed the sentiments expressed, as being unjustifiable and mean. For example, when he is on the point of narrating Agamemnon's harsh treatment of the priest, he says in advance,

Yet Agamemnon, Atreus' son, at heart did not like it;

Harshly he sent him away;36

Cthat is to say, savagely and wilfully and contrary to what he should have done; and in Achilles' mouth he puts the bold words,

Drunken sot, with eyes of a dog and the wild deer's courage,37

but he intimates his own judgement in saying,

Then once more with vehement words did the son of Peleus

Speak to the son of Atreus, nor ceased as yet from his anger;38

hence it is likely that nothing spoken with anger and severity can be good. In like manner also, he comments upon actions:

Thus he spoke, and Hector divine he treated unseemly,

DStretching him prone in the dust by the bier of the son of Menoetius.39

He also employs his closing lines to good purpose, as though adding a sort of verdict of his own to what is done or said. Of the adultery of Ares, he represents the gods as saying,

Evil deeds do not succeed: the swift by the slow is taken,40

and on the occasion of Hector's great arrogance and boasting he says,

 p101  Thus he spoke in boast; queen Hera's wrath was kindled41

and regarding Pandarus's archery,

Thus Athena spoke, and the mind of the fool she persuaded.42

ENow these declarations and opinions contained in the words of the text may be discovered by anybody who will pay attention, but from the actions themselves the poets supply other lessons: as, for example, Euripides is reported to have said to those who railed at his Ixion as an impious and detestable character, "But I did not remove him from the stage until I had him fastened to the wheel." In Homer this form of instruction is given silently, but it leaves room for a reconsideration, which is helpful in the case of those stories which have been most discredited. FBy forcibly distorting these stories through what used to be called "allegorical interpretations," some persons say that the Sun is represented as giving information about Aphrodite in the arms of Ares, because the conjunction of the planet Mars with Venus portends births conceived in adultery,b and when the sun returns in his course and discovers these, they cannot be kept secret. And Hera's beautifying of herself for Zeus's eyes,43 and the charms connected with the girdle, such persons will have it, are a sort of purification of the air as it draws near the fiery element; — as though the poet himself did not afford the right solutions. For, in the account of Aphrodite, he teaches those who will pay attention 20that vulgar music, coarse songs, and stories treating of vile themes, create licentious characters, unmanly lives, and men that love luxury, soft living, intimacy with women, and

 p103  Changes of clothes, warm baths, and the genial bed of enjoyment.44

This too is the reason why he has represented Odysseus as bidding the harper

Come now, change the theme and sing how the horse was builded,45

thus admirably indicating the duty of musicians and poets to take the subjects of their compositions from the lives of those who are discreet and sensible. BAnd in his account of Hera, he has shown excellently well how the favour that women win by philters and enchantments and the attendant deceit in their relations with their husbands, not only is transitory and soon sated and unsure, but changes also to anger and enmity, so soon as the pleasurable excitement has faded away. Such, in fact, are Zeus's angry threats as he speaks to Hera in this wise:

So you may see if aught you gain from the love and caresses

Won by your coming afar from the gods to deceive me.46

For the description and portrayal of mean actions, if it also represent as it should the disgrace and injury resulting to the doers thereof, benefits instead of injuring the hearer. Philosophers, at any rate, for admonition and instruction, use examples taken from known facts; Cbut the poets accomplish the same result by inventing actions of their own imagination, and by recounting mythical tales. Thus it was Melanthius who said, whether in jest or in earnest, that the Athenian State was perpetually preserved by the quarrelling and disorder among its public speakers; for they were not all inclined to crowd to the same side of the boat, and so, in the disagreement  p105 of the politicians, there was ever some counterpoise to the harmful. And so the mutual contrarieties of the poets, restoring our belief to its proper balance, forbid any strong turning of the scale toward the harmful. When therefore a comparison of passages makes their contradictions evident, we must advocate the better side, Das in the following examples:

Oft do the gods, my child, cause men to fail,47a

as compared with

You've named the simplest way; just blame the gods;47b

and again

You may rejoice in wealth, but these may not,48a

as compared with

'Tis loutish to be rich, and know naught else;48b


What need to sacrifice when you must die?49a

as compared with

'Tis better thus; God's worship is not toil.49b

For such passages as these admit of solutions which are obvious, if, as has been said, we direct the young, by the use of criticism, toward the better side. EBut whenever anything said by such authors sounds preposterous, and no solution is found close at hand, we must nullify its effect by something said by them elsewhere to the opposite effect, and we should not be offended or angry at the poet, but with the words, which are spoken in character and with humorous intent. As an obvious illustration, if you wish, over against Homer's accounts of the gods  p107 being cast forth by one another, their being wounded by men, their disagreements, and their displays of ill‑temper, you may set the lines:

Surely you know how to think of a saying better than this one,50

and indeed elsewhere you do think of better things and say more seemly things, such as these:

Gods at their ease ever living,51


There the blessed gods pass all their days in enjoyment,52


FThus the gods have spun the fate of unhappy mortals

Ever to live in distress, but themselves are free from all trouble.53

These, then, are sound opinions about gods, and true, but those other accounts have been fabricated to excite men's astonishment. Again, when Euripides says,

By many forms of artifice the gods

21Defeat our plans, for they are stronger far,54

it is not bad to subjoin,

If gods do aught that's base, they are no gods,55

which is a better saying of his. And when Pindar very bitterly and exasperatingly has said,

Do what you will, so you vanquish your foe,56

"Yet," we may reply, "you yourself say that

 p109  Most bitter the end

Must surely await

Set joys that are gained

By a means unfair."57

And when Sophocles has said,

Sweet is the pelf though gained by falsity,58

"Indeed," we may say, "but we have heard from you that

False words unfruitful prove when harvested."59

BAnd over against those statements about wealth:

Clever is wealth at finding ways to reach

Both hallowed and unhallowed ground, and where

A poor man, though he even gain access,

Could not withal attain his heart's desire.

An ugly body, hapless with its tongue,

Wealth makes both wise and comely to behold,60

he will set many of Sophocles' words, among which are the following:

E'en without wealth a man may be esteemed,61


To beg doth not degrade a noble mind,62


CIn the blessings of plenty

What enjoyment is there,

If blest wealth owe its increase

To base-brooding care?63

And Menander certainly exalted the love of pleasure,  p111 with a suggestion of boastfulness too, in these glowing lines that refer to love:

All things that live and see the self-same sun

That we behold, to pleasure are enslaved.64

But at another time he turns us about and draws us towards the good, and uproots the boldness of licentiousness, by saying:

A shameful life, though pleasant, is disgrace.65

DThe latter sentiment is quite opposed to the former, and it is better and more useful. Such comparison and consideration of opposing sentiments will result in one of two ways: it will either guide the youth over toward the better side, or else cause his belief to revolt from the worse.

In case the authors themselves do not offer solutions of their unjustifiable sayings, it is not a bad idea to put on the other side declarations of other writers of repute, and, as in a balance, make the scales incline toward the better side. For example, if Alexis stirs some people when he says,

The man of sense must gather pleasure's fruits,

And three there are which have the potency

ETruly to be of import for this life —

To eat and drink and have one's way in love,

All else must be declared accessory,66

we must recall to their minds that Socrates used to say just the opposite — that "base men live to eat  p113 and drink, and good men eat and drink to live." And he who wrote

Not useless 'gainst the knave is knavery,67

thus bidding us, in a way, to make ourselves like knaves, may be confronted with the saying of Diogenes; for, being asked how one might defend himself against his adversary, Fhe said, "By proving honourable and upright himself." We should use Diogenes against Sophocles, too; for Sophocles has filled hosts of men with despondency by writing these lines about the mysteries:

Thrice blest are they

Who having seen these mystic rites shall pass

To Hades' house; for them alone is life

Beyond; for others all is evil there.68

But Diogenes, hearing some such sentiment as this, said, "What! Do you mean to say that Pataecion, the robber, will have a better portion after death than Epaminondas, just because he is initiate?" 22And when Timotheus, in a song in the theatre, spoke of Artemis as

Ecstatic Bacchic frantic fanatic,69

Cinesias at once shouted back, "May you have a daughter like that!" Neat too is Bion's retort to Theognis, who said:

 p115  Any man that is subject to poverty never is able

Either to speak or to act; nay, but his tongue is tied.70

"How is it, then," said Bion, "that you, who are poor, can talk much nonsense, and weary us with this rubbish?"

5 BWe must not neglect, either, the means for rectifying a statement which are afforded by the words that lie near, or by the context; but just as physicians, in spite of the fact that the blister‑fly is deadly, think that its feet and wings are helpful to counteract its potent effect, so in poetry if a noun or adjective or a verb by its position next to another word blunts the point which the passage, in its worse interpretation, would have, we should seize upon it and add explanation, as some do in the case of the following:

Thus, at the last, can honour be paid by miserable mortals

Cutting the hair from their heads while the tears stream down their faces,71


Thus, then, the gods have spun the fate of unhappy mortals

Ever to live in distress.72

CFor he did not say that absolutely and to all mankind a grievous life has been allotted by the gods, but to the silly and foolish, whom since they are wretched and pitiable on account of wickedness, he is wont to call by the name of "unhappy" and "miserable."

6 Another method, again, which transfers from the worse to the better sense suspicious passages in poetry, is that which works through the normal usage of words, in which it were better to have the  p117 young man trained than in what are called "glosses."73 It is indeed learned, and not unpleasing, to know that "rhigedanos"74 means "dying miserably (for the Macedonians call death "danos"), that the Aeolians call a victory won by patience and perseverance an "outlasting,"75Dthat the Dryopians call the divinities "popoi."76 But it is necessary and useful, if we are to be helped and not harmed by poetry, to know how the poets employ the names of the gods, and again the names of bad and of good things, and what they mean when they speak of Fortune or of Fate, and whether these belong to the class of words which in their writings are used in one sense only or in several senses, as the case is with many other words. For, to illustrate, they apply the term "house" sometimes to a dwelling house, as

Into the lofty house,77

Eand sometimes to property, as

My house is being devoured;78

and the term "living" they apply sometimes to life, as

But dark-haired Poseidon

Thwarted his spear, nor would let him end his foeman's living,79

and sometimes to possessions, as

And others are eating my living;80

and the expression "be distraught " is used sometimes instead of "be chagrined" and "be at one's wits' end":

 p119 Thus he spoke, and she departed distraught and sore troubled81

and at other times, instead of "to be arrogant" and "be delighted," as

Are you now distraught since you vanquished Irus, the vagrant?82

and by "huddle" they mean either "be in motion," as Euripides says:83

A monster huddling from th' Atlantic's surge,

or "sit down" and "be seated," as Sophocles84 says:

FWhat means your huddling in these places here

With suppliant garlands on the boughs ye bear?

It is a graceful accomplishment also to adapt the usage of the words to fit the matter in hand, as the grammarians teach us to do, taking a word for one signification at one time, and at another time for another, as for example,

Better commend a small ship, but put your goods on a big one.85

For by "commend" is meant "recommend," and the very expression of "recommend" to another is used nowadays instead of deprecating for one's self, as in every day speech we say "It's very kind," and "Very welcome," 23when we do not want a thing and do not accept it. In this way also some persons will have it that it must be "commendable Persephone" because she is deprecated.

Let us then observe closely this distinction and discrimination of words in greater and more serious matters, and let us begin with the gods, in teaching  p121 the young that when the poets employ the names of the gods, sometimes they apprehend in their conception the gods themselves, and at other times they give the same appellation to certain faculties of which the gods are the givers and authors. To take an obvious example, it is clear that Archilochus, when he says in his prayer,

BHear my prayer, O Lord Hephaestus, and propitious

Lend thy aid, and bestow what thy mercy bestows,86

is calling on the god himself; but when, lamenting his sister's husband who was lost at sea and received no formal burial, he says that he could have borne the calamity with greater moderation,

If upon his head and his body so fair,

All in garments clean, Hephaestus had done his office,87

it is fire that he called by this name and not the god. And again when Euripides88 said in an oath,

By Zeus amidst the stars and Ares murderous,

he named the gods themselves; but when Sophocles89 says,

CBlind and unseeing Ares, worthy dames,

With snout like that of swine upturns all ills,

the name is to be understood as meaning war; just as again it suggests weapons of bronze in the passage where Homer90 says,

Dark red blood of these men by the fair-flowing river Scamander

Keen-edged Ares has shed.

Since, then, many words are used in this way, it is  p123 necessary to know and to remember that under the name Zeus also (or Zēn) Dthe poets address sometimes the god, sometimes Fortune, and oftentimes Fate. For when he says,

Father Zeus, enthroned on Ida, most glorious and mighty,

Grant to Ajax victory,91


O Zeus! who boasts to be more wise than thou?92

they mean the god himself; but when they apply the name of Zeus to the causes of all that happens, and say,

Many valiant souls it sent to the realm of Hades,

Goodly men, and their bodies gave to the dogs as ravin

And to birds a feast — the design of Zeus in fulfilment,93

they mean Fate. For the poet does not imagine that it is the god who contrives evils for mankind, but by the name he rightly implies the compelling force of circumstances, Ethat States and armies and leaders, if they show self-control, are destined to succeed and to prevail over their enemies, but if they fall into passions and errors, if they disagree and quarrel among themselves, as these heroes did, then are they destined to act discreditably and to become disorganized and to come to a bad end, as Sophocles says:94

For fated is it that from evil plans

An evil recompense shall mortals reap;

and certainly Hesiod95 in representing Prometheus as exhorting Epimetheus

 p125  Never to welcome

Any gifts from Zeus of Olympus, but always return them,

Femploys the name of Zeus as a synonym for the power of Fortune. For he has given the name of "gifts of Zeus" to the blessings of Fortune, such as wealth, marriage, office, and, in a word, all outward things, the possession of which is unprofitable to those who cannot make good use of them. Wherefore he thinks that Epimetheus, who is a worthless man and a fool, ought to be on his guard against any place of good fortune, and be fearful of it, as he is likely to be injured and corrupted by it. And again when the poet says,

Never dare to reproach any man for accursed and woeful

Poverty, gift of the blessed gods whose life is for ever,96

he now speaks of what happens by chance as god‑given, with the suggestion that it is not meet to impugn those who are poor through misfortune, 24but to reproach the penury that is accompanied by laziness, soft living, and extravagance, since then it is disgraceful and reprehensible. For at a time when men did not as yet use the name "Fortune," but knew the force of causation as it traverses its irregular and indeterminate course, so strong, so impossible for human reason to guard against, they tried to express this by the names of the gods, exactly as we are wont to call deeds and characters, and in fact even words and men, "divine" and "godlike." In this manner, than, a corrective is to be found for most of the seemingly unjustifiable statements regarding Zeus, among which are the following:

Fixed on Zeus' floor two massive urns stand ever,

BFilled with happy lives the one, the other with sorrows.97


 p127  Cronos' son, enthroned on high, hath made naught of our pledges,

But for both our hosts with evil thought is planning.98


Then rolled forth the beginning of trouble

Both on Trojans and Greeks through designs of Zeus the almighty.99

These are to be interpreted as referring to Fortune or Fate, in which guise are denoted those phases of causation which baffle our logic, and are, in a word, beyond us. But wherever there is appropriateness, reason, and probably in the use of the name, let us believe that there the god himself is meant, as in the following

CBut he ranged to and fro 'gainst the lines of the rest of the fighters;

Only with Ajax, Telamon's son, he avoided a conflict,

Seeing that Zeus was wroth if he fight with a man far better,100


For Zeus takes thought for mortals' greatest weal;

The little things he leaves to other gods.101

Particular attention must be paid to the other words also, when their signification is shifted about and changed by the poets according to various circumstances. An example is the word "virtue." For inasmuch as virtue not only renders men sensible, honest, and upright in actions and words, Dbut also often enough secures for them repute and influence,  p129 the poets, following this notion, giving them this name in exact the same way that the products of the olive and the chestnut are called "olives" and "chestnuts," the same names as the trees that bear them. So then when poets say,

Sweat the gods have set before the attainment of virtue,102


Then the Greeks by their virtue broke the line of their foemen,103


If to die be our fate,

Thus to die is our right

Merging our lives into virtue,104

Elet our young men at once feel that these sayings relate to the best and godliest estate to which we can attain, which we think of as correctness of reasoning, the height of good sense, and a disposition of soul in full agreement therewith. But when at another time, in his reading, he finds this line,

Zeus makes virtue in men both to increase and diminish,105

or this,

Virtue and glory are attendant on riches,106

let him not "sit" astounded and "amazed" at the rich, as though they were able to purchase virtue without ado for money, nor let him believe either that the increase or diminution of his own wisdom rests with Fortune, but let him consider that the poet has employed "virtue" instead of repute, or influence, or good fortune, or the like. FFor assuredly  p131 by "evil" the poets sometimes signify badness in the strict sense, and wickedness of soul, as when Hesiod107 says,

Evil may always be had by all mankind in abundance,

and sometimes some other affliction or misfortune, as when Homer108 says,

Since full soon do mortals who live in evil grow aged.

And so too anybody would be sadly deceived, should he imagine that the poets give to "happiness" the sense which the philosophers give to it, namely, that of complete possession or attainment of good, 25or the perfection of a life gliding smoothly along in accord with nature, and that the poets do not oftentimes by a perversion of the word call the rich man happy and blessed, and call influence or repute happiness. Now Homer109 has used the words correctly:

No delight110 have I in ruling these possessions,

and so has Menander:111

A great estate have I, and rich am called

By all, but I am called by no man blest.

But Euripides112 works much disturbance and confusion when he says,

BMay I ne'er have a painful happy life,


 p133  Why do you honour show to tyranny,

Happy iniquity?113

unless, as has been said, one follows the figurative and perverted use of the words. This, then, is enough on this subject.

7 There is a fact, however, which we must recall to the minds of the young not only merely, but over and over again, by pointing out to them that while poetry, inasmuch as it has an imitative basis, employs embellishment and glitter in dealing with the actions and characters that form its groundwork, yet it does not forsake the semblance of truth, Csince imitation depends upon plausibility for its allurement. This is the reason why the imitation that does not show an utter disregard of the truth brings out, along with the actions, indications of both vice and virtue commingled; as is the case with that of Homer, which emphatically says good‑bye to the Stoics, who will have it that nothing base can attach to virtue, and nothing good to vice, but that the ignorant man is wrong in all things, while, on the other hand, the man of culture is right in everything. These are the doctrines that we hear in the schools; but in the actions and in the life of most men, according to Euripides,114

The good and bad cannot be kept apart

DBut there is some commingling.

But when poetic art is divorced from the truth, then chiefly it employs variety and diversity. For it is the sudden changes that give to its stories the elements of the emotional, the surprising, and the unexpected, and these are attended by very great astonishment and enjoyment; but sameness is unemotional  p135  and prosaic. Therefore poets do not represent the same people as always victorious or prosperous or successful in everything; no, not even the gods, when they project themselves into human activities, are represented in the poets' usage as free from emotion or fault, that the perturbing and exciting element in the poetry shall nowhere become idle and dull, for want of danger and struggle.

8 ENow since this is so, let the young man, when we set him to reading poems, not be prepossessed with any such opinions about those good and great names, as for instance, that the men were wise and honest, consummate kings, and standards of all virtue and uprightness. For he will be greatly injured if he approves everything, and is in a state of wonderment over it, but resents nothing, refusing even to listen or accept the opinion of him who, on the contrary, censures persons that do and say such things as these:

This I would, O Zeus, Athena, and Apollo,

That not one escape death of all the Trojans living

And of the Greeks; but that you and I elude destruction,

FSo that we alone may raze Troy's sacred bulwarks,115


Saddest of all the sad sounds that I heard was the cry of Cassandra,

Priam's daughter, whom Clytemnestra craftily planning

Slew o'er my body,116


That I seduce the girl and ensure her hate for my father.

So I obeyed her and did it,117


 p137  Father Zeus, none other of the gods is more baleful.118

Let the young man, then, not get into the habit of commending anything like this, 26nor let him be plausible and adroit in making excuses or in contriving some specious quibbles to explain base actions, but rather let him cherish the belief that poetry is an imitation of character and lives, and of men who are not perfect or spotless or unassailable in all respects, but pervaded by emotions, false opinions, and sundry forms of ignorance, who yet through inborn goodness frequently change their ways for the better. For if the young man is so trained, and his understanding is so framed, that he feels elation and a sympathetic enthusiasm over noble words and deeds, Band an aversion and repugnance for the mean, such training will render his perusal of poetry harmless. But the man who admires everything, and accommodates himself to everything, whose judgement, because of his preconceived opinion, is enthralled by the heroic names, will, like those who copy Plato's stoop or Aristotle's lisp, unwittingly become inclined to conform to much that is base. One ought not timorously, or as though under the spell of religious dread in a holy place, to shiver with awe at everything, and fall prostrate, but should rather acquire the habit of exclaiming with confidence "wrong" and "improper" no less than "right" and "proper." For example, Achilles summons an assembly of the soldiers, who are suffering from an illness, Csince he is most impatient of all over the slow progress of the war because of his conspicuous position and reputation on the field; moreover, because he has some knowledge of medicine, and perceives now after the ninth day, on  p139 which these maladies naturally reach their crisis, that the disease is out of the ordinary and not the result of familiar causes, he does not harangue the multitude when he rises to speak, but makes himself an adviser to the king:

Son of Atreus, now, as I think, are we destined to wander

Back to seek our homes again.119

DRightly, moderately, and properly is this put. But after the seer has said that he fears the wrath of the most powerful of the Greeks, Achilles no longer speaks rightly and moderately, when he swears that nobody shall lay hands on the seer while he himself is alive,

No, though you name Agamemnon,120

thus making plain his slight regard and his contempt for the leader. A moment later his irritation becomes more acute, and his impulse is to draw his sword with intent to do murder; not rightly, either for honour or for expediency. Again, later, repenting,

Back he thrust his massive blade once more to its scabbard,

ENor ignored Athena's words,121

this time rightly and honourably, because, although he could not altogether eradicate his anger, yet before doing anything irreparable he put it aside and checked it by making it obedient to his reason. Then again, although Agamemnon is ridiculous in his actions and words at the Assembly, yet in the incidents touching Chryseïs he is more dignified and kingly. For whereas Achilles, as Briseïs was being led away,

 p141  Burst into tears and withdrawing apart sat aloof from his comrades,122

Agamemnon, as he in person put aboard the ship, and gave up and sent away, Fthe woman of whom, a moment before, he has said that he cared more for her than for his wedded wife, committed no amorous or disgraceful act. Then again, Phoenix, cursed by his father on account of the concubine, says:

True in my heart I had purposed to slay him with keen-pointed dagger,

Save that one of the deathless gods put an end to my anger,

Bringing to mind the people's talk and men's many reproaches,

Lest I be known among the Greeks as my father's slayer.123

Now Aristarchus removed these lines from the text through fear, but they are right in view of the occasion, since Phoenix is trying to teach Achilles what sort of a thing anger is, and how many wild deeds men are ready to do from temper, 27if they do not use reason or hearken to those who try to soothe them. So also the poet introduces Meleager angry at his fellow-citizens, and later mollified, and he rightly finds fault with his emotions, but, on the other hand, his refusal to yield, his resistance, his mastery over them, and his change of heart the poet commends as good and expedient.

Now in these cases the difference is manifest; but in cases where Homer's judgement is not made clear, a distinction is to be drawn by directing the young man's attention in some such manner as the following: If, on the one hand, Nausicaa, after merely looking at a strange man, Odysseus, and experiencing Calypso's emotions toward him, being, as she was,  p143 a wanton child and at the age for marriage, utters such foolish words as these Bto her maid-servants,

How I wish that a man like this might be called my husband,

Living here was, and be contented to tarry,124

then are her boldness and lack of restraint to be blamed. But if, on the other hand, she sees into the character of the man from his words, and marvels at his conversation, so full of good sense, and then prays that she may be the consort of such a person rather than of some sailor man or dancing man of her own townsmen, then it is quite right to admire her. And again, when Penelope enters into conversation with the suitors, not holding herself aloof, and they favour her with gifts of garments and other apparel, Odysseus is pleased

Since she had coaxed all these gifts from them, and had cozened their senses.125

CIf, on the one hand, he rejoices at the receipt of the presents and the profit, then in his prostitution of his wife he outdoes Poliager, who is satirized in the comedy as

Poliager blest

Who keeps a Cyprian goat to yield him wealth.126

But if, on the other hand, he thinks that he shall have them more in his power, while they are confident because of their hopes and blind to the future, then his pleasure and confidence has a reasonable justification. Similarly, in the enumeration of his possessions which the Phaeacians had put ashore with him before they sailed away, if on the one hand, upon finding himself in such solitude and in such uncertainty and ambiguity regarding his surroundings, Dhe really fears about his possessions,

 p145  Lest the men on the ship had sailed away with something,127

then it is quite right to pity or indeed even to loathe his avarice. But if, on the other hand, he, as some say, being of two minds whether he were in Ithaca, thinks that the safety of his possessions is a demonstration of the rectitude of the Phaeacians (for otherwise they would not have carried him for nothing, put him ashore in a strange land, and left him there, at the same time keeping their hands off his possessions), then he makes use of no mean proof, and it is quite right to praise his forethought. EBut some critics find fault also with the very act of putting him ashore, if this really was done while he was asleep, and assert that the Etruscans still preserve a tradition that Odysseus was naturally sleepy, and that for this reason most people found him difficult to converse with. Yet if his sleep was not real, but if, being ashamed to send away the Phaeacians without gifts and entertainment, and at the same time unable to elude his enemies if the Phaeacians were in company with him, he provided himself with a cloak for his embarrassment in feigning himself asleep, then they find this acceptable.

By indicating these things to the young, we shall not allow them to acquire any leaning toward such characters as are mean, but rather an emulation of the better, and a preference for them, Fif we unhesitatingly award censure to the one class and commendation to the other. It is particularly necessary to do this with tragedies in which plausible and artful words are framed to accompany disreputable and knavish actions. For the statement of Sophocles128 is not altogether true when he says:

 p147  From unfair deed fair word cannot proceed.

For, as a fact, he is wont to provide for mean characters and unnatural actions alluring words and humane reasons. 28And you observe also that his companion-at‑arms in the dramatic art has represented Phaedra129 as preferring the charge against Theseus that it was because of his derelictions that she fell in love with Hippolytus. Of such sort, too, are the frank lines, aimed against Hecuba, which in the Trojan Women130 he gives to Helen, who there expresses her feeling that Hecuba ought rather to be the one to suffer punishment because she brought into the world the man who was the cause of Helen's infidelity. Let the young man not form the habit of regarding any one of these things as witty and adroit, and let him not smile indulgently, either, at such displays of verbal ingenuity, but let him loathe the words of licentiousness even more than its deeds.

9 BNow in all cases it is useful also to seek after the cause of each thing that is said. Cato, for example, used, even as a child, to do whatever the attendant in charge of him ordered, yet he also demanded to know the ground and reason for the order. And so the poets are not to be obeyed as though they were our keepers or law‑givers, unless their subject matter be reasonable; and this it will be if it be good, but if it be vile, it will be seen to be vacuous and vain. But most people are sharp in demanding the reasons for trivial things like the following, and insist on knowing in what sense they are intended:

Never ought the ladle atop of the bowl to be rested

While the bout is on,131

 p149  and

Whoso from his car can reach the car of another

CLet him thrust with his spear.132

But in far weightier matters they take things on faith without testing them at all, such, for example, as these:

A man, though bold, is made a slave whene'er

He learns his mother's or his sire's disgrace,133


Who prospers not must be of humble mind.134

And yet these sentiments affect our characters and disorder our lives, by engendering in us mean judgements and ignoble opinions, Dunless from habit we can say in answer to each of them, "Why must the man who has 'not prospered be of humble mind,' and why must he not rather rise up against Fortune, and make himself exalted and not humbled? And why, though I be the son of a bad and foolish father, yet if I myself am good and sensible, is it unbecoming for me to take pride in my good qualities, and why should I be dejected and humble on account of my father's crassness?" For he who thus meets and resists, and refuses to entrust himself broadside on to every breath of doctrine, as to a wind, but believes in the correctness of the saying that "a fool is wont to be agog at every word that's said"135 will thrust aside a good deal of what is not true or profitable therein. This, then, will take away all danger of harm from the perusal of poetry.

 p151  10 EBut, just as amid the luxuriant foliage and branches of a vine the fruit is often hidden and unnoticed from being in the shadow, so also amid the poetic diction and the tales that hang clustered about, much that is helpful and profitable escapes a young man. This, however, ought not to happen to him, nor should he allow his attention to be diverted from the facts, but he should cling especially close to those that lead toward virtue and have the power to mould character. In which regard it may not be a bad thing to treat this topic briefly, touching summarily the principal points, Fbut leaving any extended and constructive treatment, and long list of examples, to those who write more for display. In the first place, then, as the young man takes note of good and bad characters and personages, let him pay attention to the lines and the actions which the poet assigns to them as respectively befitting. For example, Achilles says to Agamemnon, although he speaks with anger:

Never a prize like yours is mine whene'er the Achaeans

Capture and sack some goodly and populous town of the Trojans.136

But Thersites in reviling the same man says:

Full of bronze are your quarters, and many, too, are the women,

Chosen from all the captives for you, and these we Achaeans

29Give to you first of all whenever we capture a city.137

And on another occasion Achilles says,

If perchance Zeus ever

Grants to us that we plunder Troy, the well-walled city,138

but Thersites,

 p153  One that I or another Achaean may bring in as captive.139

At another time, in the Inspection, when Agamemnon upbraided Diomede, the latter made no answer,

Showing respect for the stern rebuke of a king so respected.140

But Sthenelus, a man of no account, says:

Son of Atreus, speak not to deceive, knowing how to speak clearly;

BWe can avow ourselves to be better far than our fathers.141

A difference of this sort then, if not overlooked, will teach the young man to regard modesty and moderation as a mark of refinement, but to be on his guard against boasting and self-assertion as a mark of meanness. It is useful to note also the behaviour of Agamemnon in this case; for Sthenelus he passed by without a word, but Odysseus he did not disregard, but made answer and addressed him,

When he saw he was wroth, and tried to retract his saying.142

For to defend one's actions to everybody smacks of servility, not of dignity, Cwhile to despise everybody is arrogant and foolish. And most excellently does Diomede in the battle hold his peace, although upbraided by the king, but after the battle he uses plain speech to him:

First let me say that you 'mid the Danaans slighted my prowess.143

It is well, too, not to miss a difference that exists between a man of sense and a seer who courts popularity. For example, Calchas144 had no regard to the occasion, and made nothing of accusing the king before the multitude, alleging that he had  p155 brought the pestilence upon them; but Nestor, though anxious to put in a word for the reconciliation with Achilles, Dyet, in order that he may not seem to discredit Agamemnon with the multitude as having made a mistake and indulged in anger, says,

Give a feast for the elders; 'tis fitting and not unbefitting;

Then, when many are gathered, whoever shall offer best counsel

Him you will follow,145

and after the dinner he sends forth the envoys. For this was the way to amend an error; the other was arraignment and foul abuse.

Moreover, the difference between the two peoples should be observed, their behaviour being as follows: the Trojans advance with shouting and confidence, but the Achaeans

Silently, fearing their captains.146

EFor to fear one's commanders when at close quarters with the enemy is a sign of bravery and of obedience to authority as well. Wherefore Plato147 tries to establish the habit of fearing blame and disgrace more than toils and dangers, and Cato148 used to say that he liked people that blushed better than those that blanched.

There is also in the promises of the heroes a special character. For Dolon promises:

Straight to the midst of their host shall I go till I come to the vessel

Which Agamemnon commands.149

FDiomede,150 however, promises nothing, but says that he should be less frightened if he were sent in company with another man. Prudence, then, is  p157 characteristic of a general and of a man of refinement, while presumption is barbaric and cheap: the one should be emulated and the other detested. And it is not unprofitable to consider how the Trojans and Hector were affected, at the time when Ajax was about to engage with him in single combat. Once when a boxer at the Isthmian games was struck in the face, and a clamour arose, Aeschylus151 said, "What a thing is training. The onlookers cry out; it is the man who is struck who says nothing." In like manner, when the poet says152 that when Ajax appeared resplendent in his armour, the Greeks rejoiced at seeing him, whereas

30Dreadful trembling seized on the limbs of every Trojan;

Even Hector himself felt his heart beat quick in his bosom,

who could fail to admire the difference? For the heart of the man who is facing the danger only throbs, as though indeed he were simply going to wrestle or run a race, while the onlookers tremble and shiver in their whole bodies through loyalty and fear for their king. Here, too, one should carefully consider the difference between the very valiant man and the craven. For Thersites

Hateful was most of all to Achilles as well as Odysseus,153

Bwhile Ajax was always friendly to Achilles, and says to Hector regarding him —

Now alone from one man alone shall you learn quite clearly

What sort of men with us are the Danaans' chieftains

Even after the smiter of men, lion-hearted Achilles.154

This is the compliment paid to Achilles, but these succeeding lines in behalf of all are put in such a way as to be useful:

 p159  Yet are we of such sort as are ready to face you,

Yes, and many of us,155

thereby declaring himself not the only man or the best, but only one among many equally capable of offering defence.

CThis is enough on the subject of differences, unless perhaps we desire to add, that of the Trojans many were taken alive, but none of the Achaeans; and that of the Trojans some fell down at the feet of the enemy, as did Adrastus,156 the sons157 of Antimachus, Lycaon,158 and Hector159 himself begging Achilles for burial, but of the Achaeans none, because of their conviction that it is a trait of barbarian peoples to make supplication and to fall at the enemy's feet in combat, but of Greeks to conquer or to die fighting.

11 DNow just as in pasturage the bee seeks the flower, the goat the tender shoot, the swine the root, and other animals the seed and the fruit, so in the reading of poetry one person culls the flowers of the story, another rivets his attention upon the beauty of the diction and the arrangement of the words, as Aristophanes160 says of Euripides,

I use the rounded neatness of his speech;

but as for those who are concerned with what is said as being useful for character (and it is to these that our present discourse is directed), let us remind them how strange it is if the lover of fables does not fail to observe the novel and unusual points in the story, and the student of language does not allow faultless language and elegant forms of expression to escape him, Ewhereas he that affects what is honourable and good,  p161 who takes up poetry not for amusement but for education, should give but a slack and careless hearing to utterances that look toward manliness or sobriety or uprightness, such, for example, as the following:

Son of Tydeus, what has made us forget our swift prowess?

Hither, stand, my friend, by me. Disgrace will befall us

If yon Hector, gleaming-helmed, shall capture our vessels.161

For to observe that the most wise and prudent man, when he is in danger of being destroyed and lost, together with the whole host, fears shame and disapprobation, but not death, will make the young man keenly alive to the moral virtues. And by the line,

Glad was Athena because of the man that was prudent and honest,162

Fthe poet permits us to draw a similar conclusion in that he represents the goddess as taking delight, not in some rich man or in one who is physically handsome or strong, but in one who is wise and honest. And again when she says that she does not overlook Odysseus, much less desert him,

Since he is courteous and clever of mind and prudent,163

her words indicate that the only one of our attributes that is dear to the gods and divine is a virtuous mind, if it be true that it is the nature of like to delight in like.

31Since it seems to be, and really is, a great thing to master one's anger, and since a greater thing is the exercise of precaution and forethought so as not to become involved in anger or to be made captive by  p163 it, we must make a point of indicating to our young readers such matters as this: that Achilles, being not tolerant or mild in temper, bids Priam in these words to be quiet and not to exasperate him:

Anger me now no more, old man (to ransom your Hector

I myself am disposed; from Zeus has come such a message),

Lest, old man, even here 'neath my roof I leave you not scatheless

BSuppliant though you are, and sin against Zeus's commandments,164

and having washed and shrouded the body of Hector, he places it with his own hands on the wagon before its disfigurement was seen by the father,

Lest with heart so distressed he fail to master his anger,

Seeing his son, and Achilles' heart be stirred with resentment,

So that he slay him there, and sin against Zeus's commandments.165

For it is mark of a wondrous foresight for a man whose hold on his temper is uncertain, who is naturally rough and quick-tempered, not to be blind to his own weakness, but to exercise caution, notable on his guard against possible grounds for anger, Cand to forestall them by reason long beforehand, so that he may not even inadvertently become involved in such emotions. After the same manner should he that is fond of wine be on his guard against drunkenness, and he that is amorous against love. So did Agesilaus,166 who would not submit to being kissed by the handsome boy who approached him, so did Cyrus,167 who durst not even to look at Pantheia; but the uneducated, on the contrary, gather fuel to kindle their passions, casting themselves headlong into those wherein they are weakest and least sure of themselves. Yet Odysseus not only restrains himself when enraged,  p165 but perceiving from some words of Telemachus Dthat he too is angry and filled with hatred of the wicked, labours to mitigate his feelings and prepares him well beforehand to keep quiet and restrain himself, bidding him,

Even if they within my own house shall dishonour me sorely,

Let your heart within you endure all the wrongs that I suffer:

Though through the house they should drag me out by the feet to the open,

Yes, or with missiles smite me, still you must patient behold it.168

For just as drivers do not curb their horses during the race, but before the race, so with those persons who are quick-tempered and hard to hold back when dangers threaten, we first gain control over them by reasoning, and make them ready beforehand, and then lead them into the strife.

While it is also necessary not to pass over the words carelessly, Eyet one should eschew the puerility of Cleanthes; for there are times when he uses a mock seriousness in pretending to interpret the words,

Father Zeus, enthroned on Ida,169


Zeus, lord of Dodona,

bidding us in the latter case to read the last two words as one170 (taking the word "lord" as the preposition "up") as though the vapour exhaled from the earth were "updonative" because of its being rendered up! And Chrysippus also is often quite petty, although he does not indulge in jesting, but wrests the words ingeniously, yet without carrying conviction, as when he would force the phrase "wide-seeing" son of Cronos171 to dignify "clever in conversation," that is to say, with a widespread power of speech.

 p167  It is better, however, to turn these matters over to the grammarians, Fand to hold fast rather to those in which is to be found both usefulness and probability, such as

Nor does my heart so bid me, for I have learned to be valiant,172


For towards all he understood the way to be gentle.173

For by declaring that bravery is a thing to be learned, and by expressing the belief that friendly and gracious intercourse with others proceeds from understanding, and is in keeping with reason, the poet urges us not to neglect our own selves, but to learn what is good, and to give heed to our teachers, intimating that both boorishness and cowardice are but ignorance and defects of learning. With this agrees very well what he says regarding Zeus and Poseidon:

Both, indeed, were of one descent and of the same birthplace,

32Yet was Zeus the earlier born and his knowledge was wider.174

For he declares understanding to be a most divine and kingly thing, to which he ascribes the very great superiority of Zeus, inasmuch as he believes that all the other virtues follow upon this one.

At the same time, the young man must get the habit of perusing with a mind wide awake such sayings as these:

Falsehood he will not utter because he is very prudent,175


 p169  What an act is this, Antilochus, prudent aforetime?

You have put my skill to disgrace and hindered my horses,176


BGlaucus, what cause has a man like you for words so disdainful?

Truly I thought, my friend, that in sense you excelled all the others,177

the implication being that men of sense do not lie or contend unfairly in games, or make unwarranted accusations against other people. And from the poet's saying178 that Pandarus was persuaded because of his want of sense to bring to naught the sworn agreement, he clearly shows his opinion that the man of sense would not do wrong. It is also possible to give similar intimations in regard to self-control, by directing the young man's attention to statements like these:

Mad for him was Proetus' royal wife Anteia

Lusting to make him her lover in secret, but could not persuade him,

CSince the wise Bellerophon thought more of virtue,179


She at first would not consent to a deed so unseemly,

Royal Clytemnestra, since her thoughts were for virtue.180

In these lines the poet attributes to understanding the cause of self-control; and in his exhortations to battle he says on the several occasions:

Shame, men of Lycia, whither now flee ye? Now be ye valiant,181


But let all your minds be imbued with

Shame and resentment, for now, as you see, great strife has arisen,182

 p171  and thereby he appears to represent the man of self-control as brave because of their being ashamed of disgrace, Dand as able to overcome pleasures and to undergo dangerous adventures. Timotheus183 also adopted this point of view, when in his Persians he urged the Greeks, not infelicitously, to have

Respect for shame that helps the brave in war;

and Aeschylus184 sets it down as a point of good sense not to be puffed up with fame, nor to be excited and elated by popular praise, when he writes of Amphiaraüs,

His wish is not to seem, but be, the best,

EReaping the deep-sown furrow of his mind

In which all goodly counsels have their root.

For to take pride in oneself and in one's state of mind when it is altogether good, marks the man of good sense; and since everything may be referred to understanding, it follows that every form of virtue is added unto him from reason and instruction.

12 Now the bee, in accordance with nature's laws, discovers amid the most pungent flowers and the roughest thorns the smoothest and most palatable honey; so children, if they be rightly nurtured amid poetry, Fwill in some way or other learn to draw some wholesome and profitable doctrine even from passages that are suspect of what is base and improper. For example, Agamemnon is suspected of having, for a bribe, released from service in the army the rich man who made him a present of the mare Aetha,

 p173  Gift so he fare not with him to Troy where the wind never ceaseth,

But enjoy himself at home; for wealth in abundance

Zeus had bestowed upon him.185

But, as Aristotle186 observes, he did quite right in preferring a good mare to a man of that type. For a coward, and a weakling, made dissolute by wealth and soft living, is not, I swear, worth a dog or even an ass. 33Again, it appears most shameful in Thetis187 when she incites her son to pleasures and reminds him of love. But even there we must contrast Achilles' mastery of himself, that although he is in love with Briseïs, who has come back to him, and although he knows that the end of his life is near, yet he does not make haste to enjoy love's pleasures, nor, like most men, mourn for his friend by inactivity and omission of his duties, but as he refrains from such pleasures because of his grief, so he bestirs himself in the business of his command. Again, Archilochus cannot be commended, because while grieving over his sister's husband, who was lost at sea, Bhe is minded to fight against his grief by means of wine and amusement; he has, however, alleged a cause that has some appearance of reason,

By my tears I shall not cure it, nor worse make it

By pursuing joys, yea, and festivities.188

For if he thought that he should not make matters "worse by pursuing joys, yea, and festivities," how shall our present condition be any the worse if we engage in the study of philosophy or take part in public life, if we go out to the market-place or down to the Academy, Cor if we pursue our farming? Wherefore the corrected versions which Cleanthes  p175 and Antisthenes employed are themselves not without virtue. Antisthenes, observing that the Athenians had raised an uproar in the theatre at the line,

What's shameful if its doer think not so?189

at once interpolated,

A shame's a shame, though one think so or no

and Cleanthes, taking the lines about riches,

Give to your friends, and when your body's ill,

Save it by spending,190

rewrote them in this manner,

DTo harlots give, and when your body's ill

Waste it by spending.

And Zeno in amending the lines of Sophocles,

Whoever comes to traffic with a king

To him is a slave however free he come,191

rewrote it thus:

Is not a slave if only free he come,

by the word "free" as he now uses it designating the man who is fearless, high-minded, and unhumbled. What, then, is to hinder us also from encouraging the young to take the better course by means of similar rejoinders, dealing with the citations something like this:

EMost enviable is the lot of him

The shaft of whose desire hits what he would.192

"Not so," will be our retort, but

 p177  The shaft of whose desire hits what is good."

For to gain and achieve one's wish, if what one wishes is not right, is pitiable and unenviable. Again,

Not for good and no ill came thy life from thy sire,

Agamemnon, but joy

Thou shalt find interwoven with grief.193

"No, indeed," we shall say, but you must find joy and not grief if your lot be but moderate, since

Not for good and no ill came thy life from thy sire,



Alas, from God this evil comes to men,

FWhen, knowing what is good, one does it not.194

"No, rather is it bestial," we reply, "and irrational and pitiable that a man who knows the better should be led astray by the worse as a result of a weak will and soft living."

And again:

'Tis character persuades, and not the speech.195

"No, rather it is both character and speech, or character by means of speech, just as a horseman uses a bridle, or a helmsman uses a rudder, since virtue has no instrument so humane or so akin to itself as speech." And:

 p179  34To women more than men is he inclined?

Where there is beauty, either suits him best.196

But it were better to say

"Where there is virtue, either suits him best,

of a truth, and there is no difference in his inclination; but the man who is influenced by pleasure our outward beauty to shift his course hither and thither is incompetent and inconstant." Again:

God's doings make the wise to feel afraid.197

"Not so by any means, but

God's doings make the wise to feel assured,

but they do make the silly and foolish and ungrateful to feel afraid, Bbecause such persons suspect and fear the power which is the cause and beginning of every good thing, as though it did harm." Such then is the system of amendment.

13 Chrysippus has rightly indicated how the poet's statements can be given a wider application, saying that what is serviceable should be taken over and made to apply to like situations. For when Hesiod198 says,

Nor would even an ox disappear were there not a bad neighbour,

he says the same thing also about a dog and about an ass and about all things which in a similar way can "disappear." And again when Euripides199 says,

What man who recks not death can be a slave?

Cwe must understand that he makes the same statement  p181 also about trouble and disease. For, as physicians who have learnt the efficacy of a drug adapted to one malady take it over and use it for every similar malady, so also when a statement has a general and universal value, we ought not to suffer it to be fixed upon one matter alone, but we ought to apply it to all the like, and inure the young men to see its general value, and quickly to carry over what is appropriate, and by many examples to give themselves training and practice in keen appreciation; so that when Menander says,

Blest is the men who has both wealth and sense,200

they may think of the statement as holding good also about repute and leadership and facility in speaking; Dand so also that when they hear the rebuke which was administered by Odysseus to Achilles as he sat among the maidens in Scyrus,

Dost thou, to dim the glory of thy race,

Card wool, son of the noblest man in Greece?201

they may imagine it to be addressed also to the profligate and the avaricious and the heedless and the ill‑bred, as, for example,

Dost drink, son of the noblest man in Greece,

or gamble, or follow quail-fighting,202 or petty trading, or the exacting of usury, without a thought of what is magnanimous or worthy of your noble parentage?

 p183  ESpeak not of Wealth. I can't admire a god

Whose ready favour basest men secure.203

Therefore speak not of repute, either, or of personal beauty, or the general's cloak, or the priestly crown, to all which we see the worst men attaining.

For ugly is the brood of cowardice,204

and the same we may also aver of licentiousness, superstition, envy, and all the other pestilent disorders. Most excellently has Homer said

Paris, poor wretch, excelling in looks,205


FHector, excelling in looks206

(for he declares the man deserving of censure and reproach who is endowed with no good quality better than personal comeliness), and this we must make to apply to similar cases, thereby curtailing the pride of those who plume themselves on things of no worth, and teaching the young to regard as a disgrace and reproach such phrases as "excelling in wealth" and "excelling in dinners" and "excelling in children" or "oxen," and in fact even the use of the word "excelling" in such a connexion. 35For we ought to aim at the pre‑eminence which comes from noble qualities, and we should strive to be first in matters of first importance, and to be great in the greatest: but the repute which comes from small and petty things is disreputable and paltry.

This illustration at once reminds us to consider carefully instances of censure and commendation, particularly in Homer's poems. For he gives us expressly to understand that bodily and adventitious  p185 characteristics are unworthy of serious attention. For, to begin with, in their greetings and salutations, they do not call one another handsome or rich or strong, but they employ such words as these —

BHeaven-sprung son of Laertes, Odysseus of many devices,207


Son of Peleus, peer of Zeus in counsel,208


Son of Peleus, Achilles, great glory to the Achaeans,209


Noble son of Menoetius, in whom my soul finds pleasure.210

In the second place they reproach without touching at all upon bodily characteristics, but they direct their censure to faults:

Drunken sot, with eyes of a dog and the wild deer's courage,211


CAjax, excelling at wrangling, ill advised,212


Why, Idomeneus do you brag so soon? Unfitting

Is it for you to be braggart.213


Ajax, blundering boaster,214

and finally Thersites is reproached215 by Odysseus, not as lame or bald or hunchbacked, but as indiscreet in his language, while on the other hand the mother of Hephaestus affectionately drew an epithet from his lameness when she addressed him thus:

 p187  Up with you, club-foot, my child!216

Thus Homer ridicules those who feel ashamed of lameness or blindness, in that he does not regard as blameworthy that which is not shameful, or as shameful that which is brought about, not through our own acts, but by fortune.

DPlainly, then, the two great advantages accrue to those who accustom themselves carefully to peruse the works of poetry: the first is conducive to moderation, that we do not odiously and foolishly reproach anybody with his fortune; while the second is conducive to magnanimity, that when we ourselves have met with chances and changes we be not humiliated or even disturbed, but bear gently with scoffings and revilings and ridicule, having especially before us the words of Philemon:

There's naught more pleasing or in better taste,

Than having strength to bear when men revile.217

But if anybody is plainly in need of reprehension, we should reprehend his faults and his giving way to emotion, after the fashion in which Adrastus of the tragedy, when Alcmaeon said to him,

EYou are the kin of her who slew her spouse,218


And you have murdered her who gave you birth.219

For just as those who scourge the clothes do not  p189 touch the body,220 so those who scoff at misfortune or low birth, do but vainly and foolishly assail externals, never touching the soul or even such matters as really need correction and stinging reproof.

14 FMoreover, just as in what we have said above we felt that by setting against cheap and harmful poems the sayings and maxims of statesmen and men of repute, we were inducing a revolt and revulsion of faith from such poetry, so whenever we find any edifying sentiment neatly expressed in the poets we ought to foster and amplify it by means of proofs and testimonies from the philosophers, at the same time crediting these with the discovery. For this is right and useful, and our faith gains an added strength and dignity whenever the doctrines of Pythagoras and of Plato are in agreement with what is spoken on the stage or sung to the lyre or studied at school, and when the precepts of Chilon and of Bias lead to the same conclusions as our children's readings in poetry. 36Hence it is a duty to make a point of indicating that the lines

You, my child, have not the gift of arms in battle,

Your concern must be for loving arms in wedlock,221


Seeing that Zeus is wroth if you fight with a man far better,222

do not differ from "Know thyself," but have the same purport as this; and the lines,

 p191  Fools! They know not how much more than all a half is,223


Evil counsel is the worst for him who gives it224

are identical with the doctrines of Plato in the Gorgias225 and the Republic226 Bupon the principle that "to do wrong is worse than to be wronged" and "to do evil is more injurious than to suffer evil." And on the words of Aeschylus,227

Fear not; great stress of pain is not for long,

we ought to remark that this is the oft repeated and much admired statement originating with Epicurus,228 namely "that great pains shortly spend their force, and long continued pains have no magnitude." Of these two ideas Aeschylus has perspicuously stated the one and the other is a corollary thereto; for if great and intense pain is not lasting, then that which does not last is not great or hard to endure. Take these lines of Thespis:229

You see that Zeus is first of gods in this,

Not using lies or boast or silly laugh;

CWith pleasure he alone is unconcerned.

What difference is there between this and the statement, "for the Divine Being sits throned afar from pleasure and pain," as Plato230 has put it? Consider what is said by Bacchylides:231

 p193  I shall assert that virtue hath the highest fame,

But wealth with even wretched men is intimate,

and again by Euripides232 to much the same effect:

There's naught that I hold

In a higher esteem

Than a virtuous life;

'Twill ever be joined

With those that are good.


Why seek vain possessions? Do ye think

Virtue by wealth to compass?

Wretched amid your comforts shall ye sit.233

DIs not this a proof of what the philosophers say regarding wealth and external advantages, that without virtue they are useless and unprofitable for their owners?

This method of conjoining and reconciling such sentiments with the doctrines of philosophers brings the poet's work out of the realm of myth and impersonation, and, moreover, invests with seriousness its helpful sayings. Besides, it opens and stimulates in advance the mind of the youth by the sayings in philosophy. For he comes to it thus not altogether without a foretaste of it, nor without having heard of it, Enor indiscriminately stuffed with what he has heard always from his mother and nurse, and, I  p195 dare say, from his father and his tutor as well, who all beatify and worship the rich, who shudder at death and pain, who regard virtue without money and repute as quite undesirable and a thing of naught. But when they hear the precepts of the philosophers, which go counter to such opinions, at first astonishment and confusion and amazement take hold of them, since they cannot accept or tolerate any such teaching, unless, just as if they were now to look upon the sun after having been in utter darkness, they have been made accustomed, in a reflected light, as it were, in which the dazzling rays of truth are softened by combining truth with fable, to face facts of this sort without being distressed, and not to try to get away from them.234 FFor if they have previously heard or read in poetry such thoughts as these:

To mourn the babe for th' ills to which he comes;

But him that's dead, and from his labours rests,

To bear from home with joy and cheering words,235


What needs have mortals save two things alone,

Demeter's grain and draught from water‑jar?236


37O Tyranny, beloved of barbarous folk,237


And mortal men's felicity

Is gained by such of them as feel least grief,238

they are less confused and disquieted upon hearing at the lectures of the philosophers that "Death is nothing to us,"239 and "The wealth allowed by Nature  p197 is definitely limited,"240 and "Happiness and blessedness do not consist in vast possessions or exalted occupations or offices or authority, but on impassivity, calmness, and a disposition of the soul that sets its limitations to accord with Nature."241

BWherefore, both because of these considerations and because of those already adduced, the young man has need of good pilotage in the matter of reading, to the end that, forestalled with schooling rather than prejudice, in a spirit of friendship and goodwill and familiarity, he may be convoyed by poetry into the realm of philosophy.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Plutarch probably has Plato in mind, and is thinking of passages like "The Last Judgement" (Gorgias, 523 ff.).

2 "Preventitivesº of intoxication"; herbs or seeds (Plutarch, Symp. 647B, Athenaeus, 24C), or nuts (Plutarch, Symp. 624C) which were eaten, or stones (Pliny, N. H. XXXVII.9.124) which were hung about the neck, in the belief that they would resist drunkenness.

3 Cf. Leutsch and Schneidewin, Paroemiographi Graeci, I p299; Plutarch, Moralia, 734E.

4 Homer, Od. IV.230.

5 Homer, Il. XIV.216.

6 Homer, Il. VI.130.

7 Plato, Laws, 773D.

8 Cf. Theophrastus, De causis plantarum, III.1.5.

9 Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Sophocles, No. 747.

10 Proverbial: cf. Aristotle, MetaphysicsI.2.

11 Cf. Plato, Phaedo, 60A.

12 Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag. No. 349.

13 Homer, Iliad, XX.60.

14 Spoken by Thetis of the death of her son Achilles, as we are told by Plato, Republic, II p383B, who quotes the passage more fully. Cf. Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Aeschylus, No. 350.

15 Homer, Od. XI.470 and 390.

16 Homer, Od. XI.223.

17 Homer, Il. XXII.210.

18 Ibid. IV.84.

19 From the Niobe of Aeschylus; Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Aeschylus, No. 156.

20 Pindar, Frag. 130 Christ.

21 Homer, Od. XXIV.11.

22 Cf. Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Sophocles, No. 748.

23 Homer, Od. XI.72.

24 Homer, Il. XVI.856 and XXII.362.

25 Euripides, Iphigenia at Aulis, 1218.

26 The passage is quoted more fully by Sextus Empiricus, Adv. math. VII.122‑4; cf.  Diels, Poetarum Philosophorum Fragmenta, Empedocles, No. 2.

27 Quoted with two additional lines by Sextus Empiricus, Adv. math. VII.49; cf. Diels, Poet. Philos. Frag., Xenophanes, No. 34.

28 Plato, Phaedo, 69D.

29 Euripides, Phoenissae, 524.

30 From lines spoken by Ixion in an unknown play; cf. Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., adesp. No. 4.

31 From an unknown poet of the new comedy; cf. Kock, Comicorum Atticorum Fragmenta, III.430.

32 Homer, Il. III.369 ff. and 441 ff.

33 Kock, Com. Att. Frag., Menander, No. 217, and Allinson, Menander in L. C. L., p356.

34 Homer, Od. VI.148.

35 Homer, Il. II.189.

36 Ibid. I.24.

37 Ibid. I.225.

38 Ibid. I.223.

39 Ibid. XXIII.24.

40 Homer, Od. VIII.329.

41 Homer, Il. VIII.198.

42 Ibid. IV.104.

43 Ibid. XIV.166 ff.

44 Homer, Od. VIII.239.

45 Ibid. VIII.492.

46 Homer, Il. XV.32.

47a 47b from Euripides, Archelaus; Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Euripides, No. 254. The second line is again quoted by Plutarch, Moralia, 1049F.

48a 48b Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Euripides, No., 1069.

49a 49b Ibid., Adesp., No. 350.

50 Homer, Il. VII.358 and XII.232.

51 Ibid. VI.138; Od. IV.805 and V.122.

52 Homer, Od. VI.46.

53 Homer, Il. XXIV.525 (again quoted, infra22B).

54 Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Euripides, No. 972.

55 From Euripides, Bellerophon, according to Stobaeus, Florilegium, c. 3, who quotes also six preceding lines; cf. Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Euripides, No. 292.7.

56 Pindar, Isthmian Odes, IV.48.

57 Pindar, Isthmian Odes, VII.47.

58 Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Sophocles, No. 749.

59 Ibid., No. 750.

60 From Sophocles, Aleadae; quoted with additional lines by Stobaeus, Florilegium, XCI.27; cf. Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Sophocles, No. 85.

61 Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Sophocles, No. 751.

62 Ibid., No. 752.

63 Perhaps from the Tereus of Sophocles; cf. Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Sophocles, No. 534.

64 Kock, Com. Att. Frag. III, Menander, No. 611, and Allinson, Menander in L. C. L., p506.

65 Kock, Com. Att. Frag. III, Menander, No. 756.

66 Ibid. II, Alexis, No. 271.

67 Source unknown; quoted again by Plutarch in Moralia, 534A.

68 Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Sophocles, No. 753.

69 Bergk, Poet. Lyr. Gr. III p620; cf. Plutarch, Moralia, 170A.

70 Theognis, 177.

71 Homer, Od. IV.197.

72 Homer, Il. XXIV.525 (quoted supra, 20F).

73 Strange or obsolete words.

74 Homer, Il. XIX.325.

75 Ibid. XXII.257 and XXIII.661.

76 There was a tradition, preserved in the scholia that ὦ πόποι, often found in Homer, was the equivalent of ὦ θεοί "gods."

77 Homer, Od. V.42, VII.77, and perhaps X.474.

78 Ibid. IV.318.

79 Homer, Il. XIII.562.

80 Homer, Od. XIII.419.

81 Homer, Il. V.352.

82 Homer, Od. XVIII.332, 392.

83 From the Andromeda of Euripides, Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Euripides, No. 145.

84 Oedipus Tyrannus, 2.

85 Hesiod, Works and Days, 643.

86 Bergk, Poet. Lyr. Gr. II p703.

87 Ibid. p687.

88 Phoenissae, 1006.

89 Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Sophocles, No. 754; again cited by Plutarch, Moralia, 757B.

90 Homer, Il. VII.329.

91 Homer, Il. III.276, VII.202, XXIV.308.

92 Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Adesp. No. 351.

93 Homer, Il. I.3.

94 Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Adesp. No. 352.

95 Hesiod, Works and Days, 86.

96 Hesiod, Works and Days, 717.

97 The quotation follows Plato, Republic, 379D, and not Homer, Il. XXIV.528. The original, however, is quoted in the Moralia, 105C.

98 Homer, Il. VII.69.

99 Homer, Od. VIII.81.

100 Homer, Il. XI.540, 542. The third line is not found in the MSS. of Homer, but on the authority of this passage and 36A and Aristotle, RhetoricII.9, and the life of Homer ascribed to Plutarch, it has commonly been printed as line 543 in the editions of Homer.

101 Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Adesp. No. 353.

102 Hesiod, Works and Days, 289.

103 Homer, Il. XI.90.

104 Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Euripides, No. 994. Again quoted by Plutarch, Pelopidas, 317E.

105 Homer, Il. XX.242.

106 Hesiod, Works and Days, 313.

107 Hesiod, Works and Days, 287.

108 Homer, Od. XIX.360.

109 Ibid. IV.93.

110 Logically we should expect here a word meaning "happy." See the critical note on the opposite page.

111 Kock, Com. Att. Frag. III. p184, and Allinson, Menander in L. C. L., p506.

112 Euripides, Medea, 603.

113 Euripides, Phoenissae, 549.

114 From the Aeolus of Euripides; quoted again, Moralia 369B and  474A. Cf. Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Euripides, No. 21.

115 Homer, Il. XVI.97.

116 Homer, Od. XI.421.

117 Homer, Il. IX.452.

118 Homer, Il. III.365.

119 Homer, Il. I.59.

120 Ibid. 90.

121 Ibid. 220.

122 Homer, Il. I.349.

123 These lines are not found in any MS. of Homer, but on the authority of this quotation they have been printed in practically all editions since that of Barnes (1711) as lines 458‑61 of Book IX of the Iliad. Plutarch cites the second and part of the third line in the Life of Coriolanus, chap. 32 (229B), and the last line in Moralia, 72B.

124 Homer, Od. VI.244.

125 Ibid. XVIII.282.

126 Kock, Com. Att. Frag. III.399. Cf. Alciphro, Epist. III.62. The reference is probably to the goat Amalthea, the fabled nurse of the infant Zeus, but Pantazides thinks that Uranium (Οὐράνιον) may have been the woman's name.

127 Homer, Od. XIII.216.

128 Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Sophocles, No. 755.

129 Presumably in the Hippolytus Veiled; cf. Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Eurip., 491.

130 Euripides, The Trojan Women, 919.

131 Hesiod, Works and Days, 744.

132 Homer, Il. IV.306.

133 Euripides, Hippolytus, 424; cited also by Plutarch in Moralia, 1C.

134 Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Euripides, No. 957.

135 A dictum of Heraclitus. It is again quoted by Plutarch, Moralia, 41A; cf. Diels, Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, I p95.

136 Homer, Il. I.163.

137 Ibid. II.226.

138 Ibid. I.128.

139 Homer, Il. II.231.

140 Ibid. IV.402.

141 Ibid. 404.

142 Ibid. 357.

143 Ibid. IX.34.

144 Ibid. I.94‑5.

145 Homer, Il. IX.70, and 74‑5.

146 IV.431.

147 Cf. Plato, Apology, 28F and E.

148 Cf.  Plutarch, Life of Cato, chap. 9 (341C).

149 Homer, Il. X.325.

150 Ibid. 222.

151 Cf. Plutarch, Moralia, 79D.

152 Homer, Il. VII.214.

153 Ibid. II.220.

154 Ibid. VII.226.

155 Homer, Il. VII.231.

156 Ibid. VI.37.

157 Ibid. XI.122.

158 Ibid. XXI.64.

159 Ibid. XXII.337.

160 Kock, Com. Att. Frag. I p513.

161 Homer, Il. XI.313; the first line is quoted infra, 71F.

162 Homer, Od. III.52.

163 Ibid. XIII.332.

164 Homer, Il. XXIV.560‑1, 569‑70.

165 Ibid. 584.

166 Xenophon, Agesilaus, V.4.

167 Xenophon, Cyropaedia, V.1.4.

168 Homer, Od. XVI.274.

169 Homer, Il. III.320; VII.202; XXIV.308.

170 Ibid. XVI.233. It is of interest that this reading is attested also in scholia on the passage.

171 Ibid. I.498.

172 Homer, Il. VI.444.

173 Ibid. XVII.671.

174 Ibid. XIII.354.

175 Homer, Od. III.20 and 328.

176 Homer, Il. XXIII.570.

177 Ibid. XVII.170.

178 Ibid. VI.104.

179 Ibid. VI.160.

180 Homer, Od. III.265.

181 Homer, Il. XVI.422.

182 Ibid. XIII.121.

183 Bergk, Poet. Lyr. Gr. III.622; Timotheus, Frag. 14 ed. Wilamowitz.

184 Aeschylus, Seven against Thebes, 599: the lines are quoted also, in whole or in part, by Plutarch, Moralia 88B, 186B, and Life of Aristeides, chap. iii (320B).

185 Homer, Il. XXIII.297.

186 Presumably in his Homeric Questions.

187 Homer, Il. XXIV.130.

188 Bergk, Poet. Lyr. Gr. II p687.

189 From the Aeolus of Euripides, Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Euripides, No. 17.

190 Euripides, Electra, 428.

191 Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Sophocles, No. 789; quoted by Plutarch also in Moralia, 204D and the Life of Pompey chap. lxxviii (661A).

192 Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Adesp. No. 354.

193 Euripides, Iphigenia at Aulis, 29; quoted also in Moralia, 103B.

194 From the Chrysippus of Euripides; Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Euripides, No. 841; again quoted by Plutarch, Moralia, 446A.

195 Kock, Com. Att. Frag. III p135; again quoted by Plutarch, Moralia, 801C.

196 Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Adesp., No. 355; again quoted by Plutarch, Moralia, 766F.

197 Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Adesp. No. 356.

198 Hesiod, Works and Days, 348.

199 Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Euripides, No. 958; again quoted by Plutarch, Moralia, 106D. Cf.  Cicero, Ad Atticum, IX.2A, 2.

200 From the Bridal Manager of Menander; cf. Kock, Com. Att. Frag. III Menander, No. 114, and Allinson, Menander in L. C. L. p342.

201 Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Adesp. No. 9; again quoted by Plutarch with variant reading, Moralia, 72E .

202 The Greeks were very fond, not only of cock-fights, but also of quail-fights. Another form of the latter sport known as ὀρτυγοκοπία is often referred to by Greek writers and is perhaps best described by Pollux IX.102 and 107. The quails were put into an enclosed ring, and their courage was tested by tapping them on the head with the finger or by pulling the feathers on top of their heads. If a bird showed fight, its owner won. Plutarch in the present passage, without doubt, uses ὀρτυγοκοπία to cover all forms of the sport.

203 From the Aeolus of Euripides. Nauck, TGF., Euripides, No. 20; cf. Cicero, Tusculan DisputationsV.16.

204 Nauck, TGF., Adesp. No. 357.

205 Homer, Il. III.39.

206 Ibid. XVII.142.

207 Homer, Il. II.173.

208 Ib. VII.47.

209 Ib. XIX.216.

210 Ib. XI.608.

211 Ib. I.225.

212 Ib. XXIII.483.

213 Ib. XXIII.474, 478.

214 Ib. XIII.824.

215 Ib. II.246.

216 Homer, Il. XXI.331.

217 From the Epidicazomenus of Philemon; cf. Kock, Com. Att. Frag. II p484.

218 Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag. Adesp. No. 358; again quoted by Plutarch, Moralia, 88F.

219 Ibidem.

220 Plutarch says (Moralia, 173D) that Artaxerxes (Long-hand) ordained that nobles who had offended should lay off their clothes, and their clothes should be scourged instead of their bodies. Considerable corroborative evidence is cited by Wyttenbach in his note on Moralia, 565A.

221 Homer, Il. V.428.

222 Not found in the MSS. of Homer but often printed as Iliad, XI.543. See note on 24C supra.

223 Hesiod, Works and Days, 40.

224 Ibid. 265.

225 Plato, Gorgias, 473A ff.

226 Plato, Republic, end of Book I and Book IV; cf. also 335B.

227 Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Aeschylus, No. 352.

228 One of the "leading principles" of Epicurus; cf.  Diogenes Laertius, X.140.

229 Nothing by Thespis has been preserved, although a few lines attributed to him were current. See Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag. p833.

230 Plato, Letters, III.315C.

231 Bacchylides, I.21.

232 Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Euripides, No. 959.

233 Plutarch, as was often his practice (e.g. Moralia35C or  646C), seems to have condensed this quotation. The original of the first portion appears to have been given by Satyrus in his Life of Euripides (Oxyrhynchus Papyri, IX.142), "Why have you mortals acquired in vain many possessions, and think that by wealth you shall compass virtue? What boots it, should you have in your ancestral halls some fragments of Aetna's cliff or Parian stone, gold-wrought, which you have secured?" Cf. Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Euripides, No. 960.

234 The whole passage is a reminiscence of Plato, Republic, vii. chap. 2 (515E).

235 Celebrated lines from the Cresphontes of Euripides. Nauck, TGF., Eurip. No. 449; cf. Cicero, Tusc. Disp. I.48.115.

236 Nauck, ibid., Eurip. No. 892 (again quoted by Plutarch, Moralia, 1043E, 1044B and F).

237 Ibid., Adesp. No. 359.

238 Ibid., Adesp. No. 360.

239 One of Epicurus's "leading principles," Diogenes Laertius, X.139.

240 Another of Epicurus's "leading principles," Diogenes Laertius, X.144.

241 Also from Epicurus, without much doubt, but not to be found in just this form; cf., however, Diogenes Laertius, X.139, 141144.

Thayer's Notes:

a The singularly apt metaphor will be noticed — drawn from poetry, of course: the hero Ulysses wanted to hear the dangerous song of the Sirens, so had himself tied to the upright mast of his ship; he plugged the ears of his crew with wax. (Homer, Od. XII.153 ff.)

b A standard astrological interpretation; see for example Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, Cam2.184.

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