Thomas Stanley, translator (1665) Claudius Aelianus His Various History. Book XI (pages 205-211)


Various History.

The Eleventh Book.


Of Oricadmus and the Art of Wrastling.

Oricadmus gave rules for Wrastling, and invented that manner of Wrastling which is called Sicilian.1

Chap. II.

Of the Verses of Orœbantius, Dares and Melisander.

The Poems of Orœbantius the Trœzenian were before Homer, as the Trœzenian relations affirm. They say also that Dares the Phrygian, whose Phrygian Iliad I know to be yet extant, was before Homer. Melisander the Milesian writ the Battel betwixt the Lapithæ and the Centaurs.

Chap. III.

Of Icchus, and Wrastling.

Icchus the Tarentine used Wrastling, and in the time of his exercise2 continued most temperate, using spare diet, and living continently all his time.

Chap. IV.

Of the Baldneß of Agathocles.

They saw that Agathocles Tyrant of Sicily was Bald-headed even to derision ; his hair by degrees falling off, he ashamed made a Myrtle Garland to cover his head and hide the Baldness. The Syracusians were not ignorant of his want of Hair, but they took no notice of it, by reason of his fierce spirit and Tyrannical demeanour.

Chap. V.

Of some persons unjustly condemned for Sacrilege.

Some persons sacrificed at Delphi ; the Delphians conspiring against them, privately put consecrated Monies into the Baskets wherein was their Frankincense and Cakes for Sacrifice. Hereupon apprehending them as Sacrilegious persons, they led them to the top of the Rock, and according to the Delphian Law, threw them down.

Chap. VI.

Of an Adulterer.

It happened that an Adulterer was taken in Thespiæ, and as he was led fettered through the Market-place, his friends rescued him. This occasioned an Insurrection, wherein many men were slain.

Chap. VII.

Of Lysander and Alcibiades.

Eteocles the Lacedemonian said that Sparta could not suffer two Lysanders : And Archestratus the Athenian said that Athens could not suffer two Alcibiades. So intolerable were they both in their Countries.

Chap. VIII.

Of the death of Hipparchus.

Hipparchus was murthered by Harmodius and Aristogiton, because he would not suffer the Sister of Harmodius to carry the Basket to the Goddess, according to the custome of the Country, in the Panathenian Solemnity, she perhaps deserving it.

Chap. IX.

Of certain excellent persons, Indigent, yet would not accept Gifts.

The most excellent persons among the Greeks lived in extreme Penury all their lives. Let some then still praise Riches above the best Grecians, to whom Penury was allotted as long as they lived. Of those was Aristides Son of Lysimachus, a man of excellent conduct in War, who also imposed tribute on the Grecians : Yet this so great a person did not leave enough to buy him Funeral ornaments.

Phocion also was very poor, who when Alexander sent him a hundred Talents, asked, "For what reason doth he give me this?" They answering, Because he conceives you to be the onely Just and Good person amongst the Athenians ; he replied, "Then let him suffer me to be such."

Epaminondas also Son of Polymius was poor. When Jason sent him five hundred Crowns, "You begin (saith he) to doe me wrong." He borrowed of a Citizen five hundred Drachms for the Charges of his Journey to Peloponnesus ; but hearing that his Squire had got money of a Prisoner, "Give me, saith he, the Shield back, and purchase for your self a Cook's Shop to live in : For now you are grown rich, you will no longer fight."

Pelopidas being reproved by his friends for neglecting Riches, a thing necessary to live ; "Yes, by Jove, saith he, necessary for that Nicomedes indeed" ; pointing to one lame and maimed.

Scipio lived fifty four years, and neither bought nor sold any thing, with so little was he contented. One shewing him a Shield richly adorned, he said, "But it behoves a Roman to place his hope on his right hand, not on his left."

Ephialtes Son of Sophonides was exceeding poor : his friends offering to give him ten Talents, he would not accept them, saying, "These will either make me, through respect of you, to doe something unjustly in favour ; or if I shew no particular favour or respect to you, I shall seem ungrateful."

Chap. X.

Of Zoilus.

Zoilus the Amphipolitan, who wrote against Homer, Plato and others, was Disciple of Polycrates. This Polycrates wrote an Accusation against Socrates. Zoilus was called the Rhetorical Dog ; his Character this, He wore a long Beard, he shaved his Head close, his Gown reached not to his knees, his whole employment was to speak ill and sow dissension ; this unhappy man was wholly given to Detraction. A learned person asked him why he spoke ill of all : he answered, "Because I would doe them hurt, but cannot."

Chap. XI.

Of Dionysius the Sicilian.

Dionysius the Sicilian practised Physick, and did Cures himself, Lancing, Cauterizing, and the like.

Chap. XII.

Of a Marchpane sent by Alcibiades to Socrates.

Alcibiades sent to Socrates a large Marchpane fairly wrought. Xanthippe grew angry hereat, after her manner, threw it out of the Basket, and trod upon it : whereat Socrates laughing said, "And you then will have no share in it your self."

If any one think that in relating these things I speak Trifles, he knows not that even in such a wise man is proved, despising those things which the Vulgar esteem as the ornament of a Table, and crown of a Feast.

Chap. XIII.

Of one in Sicily very sharp-sighted.

They say there was a Sicilian of so sharp Sight, that extending his view from Lilybeus to Carthage he erred not : They say he could tell the number of the Ships riding at Carthage without missing.3

The End.


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

1. Aelian's Sicilian (Σικελὸν) wrestling is a bit of a mystery. Some commentators expect that it is the same as Suidas's σικελίζειν, a sort of Greek version of WWF wrestling in which deception and trickery were permitted.

2. Contestants at the Olympics, says Pausanias V.24.9, had to swear an oath that they had spent ten months in strict training.

3. Pliny VII, chap. XXI writes that Varro gives the name of this Sicilian name as Strabo.

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