Thomas Stanley, translator (1665) Claudius Aelianus His Various History. Book X (pages 193-204)


Various History.

The Tenth Book.


Of Pherenice admitted to behold the Olympick Games.

Pherenice brought her Son to contend at the Olympick Games : the Judges forbidding her to behold the Spectacle, she went and argued with them, alledging she had a Father who had been Victor at the Olympicks, as also three Brothers, and she had now brought a Son to be one of the Contendours. Thus she prevailed with the people contrary to the Law, which forbids Women the Spectacle, and beheld the Olympick Games.1

Chap. II.

Of the Continency of Eubatas.

Lais seeing Eubatas the Cyrenæan, fell deeply in love with him, and made a proposal of Marriage to him : which he (fearing some treachery from her) promised to doe ; but forbare her company, and lived continently. It was agreed they should be married assoon as the Games were over. Assoon as he had won, that he might not seem to break his contract with her, he caused her Picture to be drawn, and carried it along with him to Cyrene, saying he had taken Lais, and not broken the Agreement. For which she that should have married him caused a great Statue to be erected for him in Cyrene, to requite this Continence.

Chap. III.

Properties of some Creatures.

Young Partridges, assoon as their feet are at liberty, can run nimbly. Young Ducks, assoon as fledged, swim. And the Whelps of Lions, before they are brought forth, scratch their Dam with their Claws, eager to come into the light.

Chap. IV.

Of Alexander's quickneß in action.

Alexander Son of Philip marched in his Arms thrice four hundred furlongs, and before he rested fought the Enemy, and overcame them.

Chap. V.

Of Tyrants, out of Æsop's Writing.

This is a Phyrgian saying, for it is Æsop's the Phrygian. The Sow when any one takes her, makes a great cry, and not without cause, for she hath no Wooll or the like, and therefore presently dreams of death, knowing that so she may benefit those who make use of her. Tyrants are like Æsop's Sow, mistrusting and fearing every thing, for they know, as Swine, that their life is owing to every one.

Chap. VI.

Of Little men.

For Leanness were derided Sannyrio the Comick Poet, and Melitus the Tragick Poet, and Cinesias who made Songs for round Dances, and Philetas the Poet that wrote Hexameters. Archestratus the Prophet, being taken by the Enemy, and put in a pair of Scales, was found to weigh but one obolus. Panaretus also was very lean, yet lived free from sickness. They report likewise that Hipponax the Poet was not onely low of person and deformed, but very slender. Moreover Philippides, against whom is extant an Oration of Hyperides, was very lean. So that to be of a very spare constitution, they commonly called to be Philippised. Witness Alexis.

Chap. VII.

Of some Astronomers, and of the Great Year.

Oenopides the Chian, an Astronomer, set up a brass Table at the Olympicks, having written thereon the Astronomy of fifty nine years, affirming this to be the Great Year.

Meton the Laconian, an Astronomer, erected Pillars on which he inscribed the Tropicks of the Sun, and found out as he said the Great Year, which he affirmed to consist of nineteen years.

Chap. VIII.

Of Benefits.

Aristotle the Cyrenæan said, that we ought not to receive a Benefit from any ; for either you must take pains to requite it, or seem ungrateful if you requite it not.

Chap. IX.

That Philoxenus was a Glutton.

Philxenus was Gluttonous, and a slave to his Belly. Seeing a Pot boiling in a Cook's Shop, he pleased himself all the while with the smell ; at last his appetite increased, and nature prevailed (O Gods, a beastly nature) so that he was not able to forbear any longer, he commanded his Boy to buy the Pot. Who answering that the Cook valued it at a great rate ; he replies, "It will be so much the sweeter, the more I pay for it." Such things ought to be remembred, not that we may imitate, but avoid them.

Chap. X.

Of the ancient Painters.

When Painting first began, and was as it were in its Infancy, they drew Creatures so rudely, that the Painters were fain to write upon them, This is an Oxe, That is a Horse, This a Tree.

Chap. XI.

Of Diogenes having a pain in his Shoulder.

Diogenes had a pain in his Shoulder by some hurt, as I conceive, or from some other cause : and seeming to be much troubled, one that was present being vexed at him, derided him, saying, "Why then do you not die, Diogenes, and free your self from ills?" He answered, "It was fit those persons who knew what was to be done and said in life, (of which he professed himself one) should live. Wherefore for you (saith he) who know neither what is fit to be said or done, it is convenient to die ; but me, who know these things, it behoveth to live."

Chap. XII.

An Apophthegm of Archytas concerning Men.

Archytas said, that as it is hard to find a Fish without sharp bones, so is it to find a Man who hath not something of deceit and sharpness.

Chap. XIII.

That Archilochus defamed himself.

Critias accused Archilochus for defaming himself : For (saith he) if he himself had not brought this report of himself into Greece, we could never have known either that he was Son of Enipo a Woman-servant ; or that he left Parus through want and penury, and came to Thasus ; how that after he came thither he bore them enmity ; nor that he spake ill of friends and foes alike : nor (said he) had we known that he was an Adulterer, if we had not been told it by himself ; nor that he was luxurious and insolent ; nor (which was the basest of all) that he threw away his Shield.2 Wherefore he was no good Witness of himself, leaving so bad a Record behind him. This is laid to his charge, not by me, but by Critias.

Chap. XIV.

Of Idleneß.

Socrates said that Idleness is the Sifter of Liberty, alledging in testimony hereof the Indians and Persians, people most valiant and most free, but as to work most slothful : The Phrygians and Lydians very laborious, and servile.

Chap. XV.

Of those who were betrothed to the Daughters of Aristides and Lysander.

Some of the most eminent of the Grecians betrothed themselves to the Daughters of Aristides, whilest he was yet living ; but they looked not upon the life of Aristides, nor admired his Justice. For if they had been emulators of these, they would not afterward have broken their contract. But as soon as he was dead, they disengaged themselves from the Virgins ; because at his death it was known that the Son of Lysimachus was poor, which deterred those miserable men from so worthy (in my opinion) and honourable a Match. The like happened to Lysander, for when they knew that he was poor, they shunned his Alliance.

Chap. XVI.

Of Antisthenes and Diogenes.

Antisthenes invited many to learn Philosophy of him, but none came. At last, growing angry, he would admit none at all, and therefore bad Diogenes be gone also. Diogenes continuing to come frequently, he chid and threatned him, and at last struck him with his Staff. Diogenes would not goe back, but persisting still in desire of hearing him, said, "Strike if you will, here is my head, you cannot find a Staff hard enough to drive me from you, until you have instructed me." Antisthenes overcome with his perseverance, admitted him, and made him his intimate Friend.

Chap. XVII.

Of those who grew rich by publick Imployments.

Critias saith that Themistocles Son of Neocles, before he had a publick Command, was Heir to no more then three Talents : But having had a charge in the Commonwealth, and happening afterwards to be banished, his estate being exposed to publick sale, was valued at more then a hundred Talents. Likewise Cleon, before he came to be engaged in publick Affairs, had not means enough for a free person ; but afterwards left an estate of fifty Talents.

Chap. XVIII.

Of Syracusian Daphnis, and of Bucolick Verses.

Some say that Daphnis the Neatherd was Mercurie's Friend, others, his Son ; and that he had this name from an accident : For he was born of a Nymph, and as soon as born exposed under a Laurel-tree. The Cows which he kept (they say) were Sisters to those in the Sun, mentioned by Homer in the Odyssees. Whilest Daphnis kept Cows in Sicily, being very beautiful, a Nymph fell in love with him, whom he enjoyed, being in his blooming years, at which time (as Homer saith) the gracefulness of Youth appeareth most attractive. They agreed that he should not enjoy any other ; but if he transgressed, she threatned him, that it was decreed by fate he should lose his Sight. Hereupon they plighted troth mutually. Afterwards the King's daughter falling in love with him, he being drunk violated the agreement, and lay with her. This was the first occasion of the Bucolick Verses, the subject whereof was to bewail the misfortune of Daphnis, and the loss of his eyes. Stesichorus the Himeræan first used this kind of Verse.

Chap. XIX.

Of Eurydamus.

Eurydamus the Cyrenæan gained the Victory at the Cæstus : His teeth being beaten out by his Antagonist, he swallowed them down, that his adversary might not perceive it.

Chap. XX.

Of Agesilaus.

The Persian Emperour sent word to Agesilaus, that he would be his friend. Agesilaus returned answer, That he could not be a friend particularly to Agesilaus : but if he were friend to all the Lacedemonians, he must consequently be his also, for he had a share in each of them.

Chap. XXI.

Of Plato.

Perictione carried Plato in her arms. Aristo sacrificing in Hymettus to the Muses or the Nymphs, whilest they were performing the divine Rites, she laid Plato down among certain thick and shady Myrtle-trees that grew near to the place. A Swarm of Hymettian Bees lighted about his mouth as he slept, thereby signifying the future sweetness of Plato's Tongue.3

Chap. XXII.

Of Dioxippus.

Dioxippus in the presence of Alexander and the Macedonians, laying hold of a Club, challenged Corrhagus a Macedonian armed to single combat ; and having broken his Spear closed with the man in armour, and casting him down, set his foot upon his neck, and drawing forth the sword that was girt to him, slew the armed man. Alexander hated him for this. He perceiving that Alexander hated him, died of grief.4

The End.


Stanley's notes are marked by glyphs (e.g., *); other notes are numbered.

1. According to Pausanias, V.6.7-8 (partially repeated in VI.7.2), she disguised herself as a man. Women caught attending the Olympics were to be punished by being thrown from a cliff. There is no record that this was ever done.

2. The verses in which Archilochus reports this of himself are found, among other places, in Strabo Book X.2.17 and XII.3.20.

3. Pericitione and Aristo were Plato's parents.

4. Quintus Curtius VII.12 gives a more detailed (and more reasonable) version of this story.

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