Thomas Stanley, translator (1665) Claudius Aelianus His Various History. Book III (pages 63-99)
The Third Book.
Thessalian Tempe described.
LET us now describe and paint out in discourse the Thessalian Tempe: for it is acknowledged that speech, where the faculty is free, can represent whatsoever it pleaseth as fully to the life, as men that are excellent in handy-work. It is a place situated betwixt Olympus and Ossa. These are Mountains of extraordinary height, and disjoyned as it were by providence. They include a Plain whose length extends to forty * Stadia; its breadth in some places is a Plethrum, in otherrs somewhat more. Through the middle runs the River Penens, into which other Rivers flow, and by communicating their water make Peneus great. It affords various places of delight of all kinds, not wrought by the hand of man, but spontaneous works of Nature, which contributed much to the beauty and glory of the place from its first beginning. For Ivy full of down abounds and flourisheth there, which like generous Vines creepeth up the high trees and groweth with them. There is also plenty of Smallage, which climbing up the Hill shadoweth the Rock, so that it lies hid under it, nothing being seen but the green Herb, which yields a pleasant entertainment to the eye. In this Plain there are divers Groves and large Cupbords, which in the Summer afford grateful shelter to Travellers and refreshment. It is full of little Brooks and Springs of water, cool and pleasant to the tast. These waters, they say, benefit such as wash in them, and conduce much to health. Birds are dispersed about every-where, especially the Musical, which yield extraordinary pleasure to the ear, and by continual warbling invite and delight the very passenger. On each side of the River are those pleasantnesses which I mentioned before, and places fit for repose and diversion. Through the middle of the Tempe runneth the River Peneus gently and smoothly like oil. This is much shaded by the thick branches of the adjoyning Trees, which for the greatest part of the day keep off the Sun's beams, and afford to those that sail a cool passage. All the neighbouring people meet with one another there, and offer sacrifice, converse, and feast. Whence there being many that sacrifice and perform Divine rites continually, it happeneth that such as travel thither either on foot or by water perceive very sweet odours. This unintermitted worship of the Gods makes the place sacred. Here the Thessalians say that Apollo Pythius, having slain Pytho with his arrows at that time possessed of Delphi when the goddess Earth held the Oracles, was by Jupiter's command purified;1 and that then the son of Jupiter and Latona crowned with this Tempian Laurel, and bearing a branch thereof in his hand, came to Delphi and took possession of the Oracle. There is also an Altar in that place where he was crowned, and took away the branch. Whereupon even to this time the Delphians every ninth year send youths of Noble birth with an Architheorus,2 who is one of their own. These coming to Tempe sacrifice magnificently, and having made Garlands of that Laurel which the God then so loved as to Crown himself with it, depart. They pass that way which is called Pythias, and goeth through Thessaly, Pelagonia, Oeta,3 and the Countries of the Ænians, Melians, Dorians, and Hesperian Locrians. They carry these youths thither with no less respect and reverence, then those who with sacred presents from the Hyperboreans pay homage to the same God. Likewise at the Pythian Games the Victors are presented with a Crown of the same Laurel. Thus much concerning the Thessalian Tempe.
Of Anaxagoras bearing the death of his Children with courage.
When one coming to Anaxagoras the Clazomenian (as he was discoursing with his friends) told him that his two onely Sons were dead ; He nothing troubled or disordered at the news, answered, "I knew that they were born mortal."
Of Xenophon bearing the death of his Son unmovedly.
A Messenger from Mantinea told Xenophon (as he was sacrificing) that his son Grillus was slain. He taking onely his Garland off, continued to sacrifice. But when the Messenger added that he died victoriously, he took again the Garland to put it on his head. This is generally known.
That Dio was not troubled at the loß of his Son.
As Dio son of Hipparinus, a Disciple of Plato, was treating about publick affairs, his Son was killed with a fall from the house top into the Court. Dio was nothing troubled at it, but proceeded in what he waas about before.
Antigonus seeing his Son dead, was nothing troubled.
They say that Antigonus the second, when his Son was brought home slain in battel, did behold him without changing colour, or shedding a tear : but having commended him for dying as a stout Souldier, gave order that he should be buried.
Of the Magnanimity of Crates.
Crates the Theban is known to have been a magnanimous person, as well by other things, as by his despising what the Vulgar admire, as also his Wealth and Country. That he gave the Thebans his estate is generally known. But this other action perhaps is less notorious. He quitted Thebes newly restored, saying, "I have no need of a City which Alexander or some other may subvert."
Of the Calumny of the Vulgar.
Demochares Nephew to Demosthenes, to shew that he nothing valued the dispraises of the Vulgar, seeing certain Detractors together sitting in a Physician's Shop, and wholly bent upon calumniating others, "What doe you say (said he) you Dysmenidæ ?" discovering their disposition by that compellation.4
That Phrynichus was chosen General for a certain Poem.
The Athenians made Phrynichus General, not out of favour, nor for Nobleness of birth, or for being rich ; for which men are commonly esteemed at Athens, and preferred above others : But he havaing in a certain Tragedy composed Verses sutable to armed Dancers, did win so much upon the Theatre, and please the Spectators, that they immediately chose him General ; believing that he would behave himself excellently and advantageously in Martial affairs, who had in a Play composed Verses and Songs so proper for armed men.
Who is able to fight with a Lover, that is not a Lover himself, when the business is to be decided by the Sword ? For he who loves not, alwaies shunneth and declineth a Lover, as being himself prophane and uninitiated with the God : he dares as much as the courage of his soul and strength of his body will bear ; yet fears the other as one transported with divine fury ; animated not by Mars onely, which is common to both, but likewise by Love. For they who are excited with other of the Gods, whereof one5 (as Homer saith) raged equal with Mars ; they, I say, which are possessed onely with one, fight with as much courage as one God inspireth : But the servants of Love being inflamed with Mars and Love, serving both Deities, have according to the opinion of the Cretans a double share of Courage. But none therefore find fault if a Souldier who fights onely by instigation of one God, refuse to encounter with him who is assisted both by Mars and Love.
Of Lacedemonian Friendship.6
Of the Lacedemonian Ephori I could relate many excellent things said and done ; at present I shall onely tell you you this : If amongst them any man preferred in Friendship a rich man before another that was poor and vertuous, they fined him, punishing his avarice with loss of money. If any other that were a vertuous person profest particular friendship to none, they fined him also, beause being vertuous he would not make choice of a friend ; whreas he might render him he loved like himself, and perhaps divers ; for affection of friends conduceth much to the advancement of vertue in those whom they love, if they be temperate and vertuous. There was also this Law among the Lacedemonians; If any young man transgressed, they pardoned him, imputing it to want of years and experience ; yet punished his friend, as conscious and overseer of his actions.
Of the Soul.
Ther Peripateticks assert that the Soul in the day-time is inslaved and involved in the body, so that she cannot behold Truth ; but in the night, being freed from this servitude, and gathered together, as it were, in a round about the parts that are in the breast, she is more Prophetick, whence proceed Dreams.
Of Friendship amongst the Lacedemonians.7
Friendship among the Spartans was truly innocent : if any thing unlawful happened, both persons must either forsake their Country or their lives.
Of the Drunkenneß of the Tayprians.
The Nation of the Tapyrians is so addicted to Wine, that they live in Wine, and bestow the greatest part of their life and conversation upon it. Neither do they abuse it by drinking onely, but by anointing themselves therewith, as others do with Oil.8
Of the Drunkenneß of the Byzantines.
The Byzantines (as is reported) live in Taverns, quitting their own houses, and letting them to strangers. Nor leave they their houses onely to them, but their wives also. Thus they by one act are guilty of two Crimes, Drunkenness and Prostitution. Moreover, flowing in Wine and Drunkenness, they delight to hear the Pipe, and make Piping their chiefest business. But they cannot endure to hear the least sound of a Trumpet ; whence it is manifest that the Byzantines are wholly averse from Arms and Warre. Wherefore Leonides their General, in a strict siege, seeing that when the Enemy was assaulting the Walls they left the Works, and went to their usual entertainments, commanded that Taverns should be set up for them upon the Walls. This Damon relates of them, which Menander seems to confirm, saying Byzantium makes the Merchants Drunkards ; they drank all night long.
Of the Drunkenneß of the Argives, Corinthians, Thracians and Illyrians.
The Argives also and Corinthians have been reproched in Comedies for being intemperately addicted to Wine. Of the Thracians it is at this time reported for certain, that they are great Drinkers. Neither are the Illyrians at present free from this vice. To which they adde another dishonesty, inasmuch as at a Feast they permit the Guests to drink to their Wives, every one as he pleaseth, though nothing related to them.9
A comparison betwixt the two Generals, Demetrius and Timotheus.
Which of these two was the better General, Demetrius Poliorcetes, or Timotheus the Athenian ? I will tell you the nature of both, and then you may judge which deserves to be preferred. Demetrius by force and avarice, and oppressing many, and committing injustice, took Cities, battering their Walls with Engines, and undermining them : but Timotheus by discourse, persuading them it was most to their advantage to obey the Athenians.
That Philosophy is not inconsistent with Political Government, and that some Philosophers have governed Commonwealths.
Some Philosophers have governed States, though studying onely the good of their own minds they lived privately. Of those who managed public affairs were Zaleucus, who reformed the State of the Locrians, Charandas that of Catana, and of Rhegium when he was banished Catana. Archytas much benefited the Tarentines, Solon the Athenians ; Bias and Thales greatly profited Ionia, Chilon the Lacedemonians, Pittacus the Mitylenæans, Cleobulus the Rhodians, and Anaximander brought a Colony from Miletus to Apollonia. Xenophon also was an excellent Souldier, and proved the best General when he went up along with Cyrus, at what time Cyrus and many others with him was slain. Necessity then requiring a person that might bring the Greeks off and conduct them safe home, he was the man. Plato son of Aristo brought Dio back to Sicily, whom he counselled and taught how to subvert the Tyranny of Dionysius. But Socrates would not meddle with the Athenian State, because the Democracy of the Athenians did at that time more resemble a Tyrannical and Monarchick Government. Neither would he joyn in sentencing the ten Commanders to death, nor partake of the injustices committed by the thirty Tyrants. But when occasion called him forth, he was a Souldier. He fought at Delium, and at Amphipolis and Potidea. Aristotle, when his Country was not declining, but quite dejected, raised her up again. Demetrius Phalereus governed the Athenian Commonwealth with much honour, until envy, customary with the Athenians, threw him out. In Egypt also, living with Ptolemee, he was chief in making Laws. And who will deny that Pericles son of Xanthippus was a Philosopher ? Or Epaminondas son of Polymnis, and Phocion son of Phocus, and Aristides son of Lysimachus, and Ephialtes son of Sophonidas ; and long after these Carneades and Critolaus ? For they were sent by the Athenians Embassadours to Rome, and procured a Peace ; so much did they prevail with the Senate, that they said, "The Athenians have sent Embassadours, that not persuade, but compel us to doe what they please." I must instance also the skill of Perseus in Politicks, for he taught Antigonus : and of Aristotle, who instructed Alexander son of Philip from his youth in Philosophy : And Lysis Disciple of Pythagoras taught Epaminondas. Therefore if any shall say Philosophers are unpractical, he speaks inconsiderately and ignorantly, though, for my own part, I should much more willingly embrace the contemplative life.
Of the Discourse betwixt Midas the Phrygian, and Silenus ; and the incredible relations of Midas.
Theopompus relates a discourse between Midas the Phrygian and Silenus. This Silenus was son of a Nymph, inferiour by nature to the Gods onely, superior to Men and Death. Amongst other things, Silenus told Midas that Europe, Asia and Africk were Islands surrounded by the Ocean : That there was but one Continent onely, which was beyond this world, and that as to magnitude it was infinite : That in it were bred, besides other very great Creatures, Men twice as big as those here, and they lived double our age : That many great Cities are there, and peculiar manners of life ; and that they have Laws wholly different from those amongst us : That there are two Cities farre greater then the rest, nothing to like each other ; one named Machimus, Warlike, the other Eusebes, Pious : That the Pious people live in peace, abounding in wealth, & reap the fruits of the Earth without Ploughs or Oxen, having no need of tillage or sowing. They live, as he said, free from sickness, and die laughing, and with great pleasure : They are so exactly Just, that the Gods many times vouchsafe to converse with them. The Inhabitants of the City Machimus are very Warlike, continually armed and fighting : They subdue their Neighbours, and this one City predominates over many. The Inhabitants are not fewer then two hundred Myriads : they die sometimes of sickness, but this happens very rarely, for most commonly they are kill'd in the Wars by Stones or Wood, for they are invulnerable by Steel. They have vast plenty of Gold and Silver, insomuch that Gold is of less value with them then Iron with us. He said that they once designed a Voiage to these our Islands, and sailed upon the Ocean, being in number a thousand Myriads of men, till they came to the Hyperboreans ; but understanding that they were the happiest men amongst us, they contemned us as persons that led a mean inglorious life, and therefore thought it not worth their going farther. He added what is yet more wonderful, that there are men living amongst them called Meropes, who inhabit many great Cities ; and that at the farthest end of their Countrey there is a place named Anostus, (from whence there is no return) which resembles a Gulf ; it is neither very light nor very dark, the air being dusky intermingled with a kinde of Red : That there are two Rivers in this place, one of Pleasure, the other of Grief ; and that along each River grow Trees of the bigness of a Plane-tree. Those which grow up by the River of Grief bear fruit of this nature ; If any one eat of them, he shall spend all the rest of his life in tears and grief, and so die. The other Trees which grow by the River of Pleasure produce fruit of a contrary nature, for who tasts thereof shall be eased from all his former desires : If he loved any thing, he shall quite forget it ; and in a short time shall become younger, and live over again his former years : he shall cast off old age, and return to the prime of his strength, becoming first a young man, then a child, lastly, an infant, and so die. This, if any man think the Chian worthy credit, he may believe. To me he appears an egregious Romancer as well in this as other things.
Of the dissension between Aristotle and Plato.
The first dissension betwixt Aristotle and Plato is said to be thus occasioned : Plato did not approve of his life and habit, for Aristotle wore rich garments and shoes, and cut his hair after a manner not used by Plato : He also wore many rings for ornaments ; he had a deriding kind of look, and was peremptory in discourse : all which mis-became a Philosopher. Plato seeing this rejected him, and preferred before him Xenocrates, Speusippus, Amyclas, and others ;10 to whom he shewed respect, and admitted them to his conversation. On a time, Xenocrates being gone into his Country, Aristotle came to Plato, accompanied with a great many of his Disciples, of whom was Mnason the Phocian, and the like : Speusippus was then sick and unable to be with Plato : Plato was fourscore years old, and through his age his memory much impaired. Aristotle assaulting and circumventing him by propounding arrogantly some questions, and arguing with him, discovered himself injurious and ungrateful. Hereupon Plato retiring from his outward Walk, walked privately with his friends. After three months Xenocrates returned from his Journey, and found Aristotle walking where he had left Plato, and seeing that he and his Disciples went not from the walk to Plato, but directly to the City, he asked one of the Walk where Plato was, doubting that he was sick. He answered, He is not sick, but Aristotle troubling him hath made him quit the Walk, and now he teacheth Philosophy privately in his own Garden. Xenocrates hearing this went presently to Plato, whom he found discoursing with such as were present, who were young men of eminent quality, and some of the Noblest. When he had ended his discourse, he saluted Xenocrates kindly, according to his usual manner, and Xenocrates did the like to him. When the company was dismist, Xenocrates, without speaking a word to Plato, or acquainting him with it, got his friends together, and sharply reproved Speusippus for having yielded the Walk to Aristotle. Then to his utmost he opposed the Stagirites, and so farre proceeded the contention, that at last Aristotle was thrown out, and Plato restored to his former place.
Of Lysander, and some Gifts presented to him.
To Lysander the Spartan going to Ionia, some of his acquaintance there sent, amongst many other presents, an Oxe and a Cake. He looking upon the Cake, asked what Dainty it was. To which he that brought it answered, "It was made of Honey, Cheese, and some other things." "Give this then, said Lysander, to the ** Hilots, for it is not meat for a free person." But the Oxe he commanded to be sacrificed, killed, and drest according to the fashion of his Country, and did eat of it with delight.
Of the Magnanimity of Themistocles.
On a time Themistocles, yet a boy, returning from School, his Master bade him, meeting Pisistratus the Tyrant, to go a little out of the way. Whereto he generously answered, "Is not here way way enough for him?" So much did somthing ingenious and generous appear in Themistocles at those years.
Of the Piety of Æneas, and compaßion of the Greeks to the Trojans.
When Troy was taken, the Grecians (as it becomes Greeks) commiserating the condition of the Captives, made Proclamation by a Herald, that every free Citizen might carry away with him any one thing he pleased. Hereupon Æneas, neglecting all other things, carried out his houshold Gods. The Grecians pleased with the piety of the man, gave him leave to take something else. He then took up his Father of a very great age upon his shoulders, and bore him away. They not a little astonished hereat, gave him back all that was his ; confessing that to such men as were pious towards the gods, and honoured their Parents, even those who were by nature their Enemies became merciful.
Great were the actions of Alexander at Granicus and Issus, and the fight at Arbela, and Darius subdued, and the Persians subjected to the Macedonians; all Asia conquered, and the Indies reduced under his power. Great were those things which he did at Tyre, and among the Oxydracæ,11 and many others. Why should we endeavour to comprehend within the narrow expression of words the unlimited courage of this person in Warre ? Or if any detractor will rather impute these things to the Fortune which attended on him, so let it be.12 But he was doubtless excellent in that he was never worsted by Fortune, nor at any time deserted by her. Other things there are not commendable in him. That on the fifth day of the Month13 he drank excessively at Eumæus his house, on the sixth day he slept after his debauch, and recovered so well as to rise and give orders to his Captains for the Expedition of the next day, saying that they should set forth very early. On the seventh he feasted with Perdiccas, and again drank freely. On the eighth he slept. On the fifteenth day of the same Month he made another debauch, and the next day slept. On the four and twentieth he supp'd with Bagoas. (The house of Bagoas was from the Palace ten Stadia.) The day following he slept. One of these two therefore must needs have been ; Either that Alexander did prejudice himself exceedingly by imploying so many daies of the Month in drinking, or that they who write these things have belied him. We may likewise imagine that they who relate other things of the same kinde concerning him, wrong him also, of whom is Eumenes the Cardian.14
How much Xenophon was delighted with Bravery.
Xenophon amongst other things took great delight to have rich Arms. For he said that if he should overcome the Enemy, the best ornaments would suit with him : If he died in fight, he should be laid out decently in a rich suit of Arms : this being the proper winding-sheet for a man of courage, and which best adorns him. They say therefore of this son of Gryllus, that his Shield was Argolick, his Breast-plate Attick, his Helmet wrought in Bœotia, his Horse Epidaurian. I must needs say he was a Person delighted in Bravery, and merited it.
Of Leonides, and three hundred more, who gave themselves up to death voluntarily for the preservation of Greece.
Leonides the Lacedemonian, and three hundred more with him, voluntarily underwent the death at Pylæ which was prophesied of them :15 and fighting stoutly and gallantly for Greece, obtained a glorious end, leaving a deathless renown and eternal fame behind them.
Of Pindarus the Tyrant.
Pindarus, Son of Melas, Grandson of Alyattes the Lydian by his daughter, being Tyrant of the Ephesians, was severe in punishments & inexorable, but otherwise courteous and wise. He took great care that his Country might not be brought into servitude by the Barbarians, of which this is a testimony. When Crœsus his Uncle by the Mother's side invaded Ionia, he sent an Embassador to Pindarus, requiring the Ephesians to be subjected to him : to which Pindarus not yielding, Crœsus besieged the City. But one of the Towers being undermined (which was afterwards called the Traitour) and destruction appearing before their eyes, Pindarus advised the Ephesians to fasten Ropes from the Gates and Walls to the Pillars of the Temple of Diana, by that means making the whole city an Anatheme to her,16 thereby to preserve it secure. Farther he advised them to goe forth and make suit to the Lydian. Upon the Ephesians declaring the case and their suit,17 it is said that Crœsus laughed, and was pleased with the Stratagem, granting the Ephesians liberty,18 on condition that Pindarus should be banished the City : which he opposed not, but taking along such friends as would goe with him, left his Son and the greatest part of his estate in the City, committing them both to the care of Pasicles one of his friends. He departed to Peloponnesus, preferring Banishment before Regal power, that his Country might not be subjected to the Lydians.
Of Plato's Poverty, and how he betook himself to Philosophy.
This also I have heard, but whether it be true or not I know not : They say that Plato son of Aristo was driven by Poverty to betake himself to the Warres ; but intercepted by Socrates, while he was buying his Arms, and instructed in that which concerns mankind, he through his persuasion addicted himself to Philosophy.19
How Socrates reformed the Pride of Alcibiades.
Socrates perceiving Alcibiades to be exceeding proud of his riches and lands, he shewed him a Map of the World, and bid him find Attica therein; which done, he desired that he would shew him his own lands. He answered, "They were not there."20 "Do you boast, replies Socrates, of that which you see is no (considerable) part of the Earth ?"
Of the Poverty and Pride of Diogenes.
Diogenes the Sinopean used to say of himself, that he fulfilled and suffered the imprecations mentioned in the Tragedy, being a Vagabond, destitute of a house, deprived of his country, a Beggar, ill clothed, having his livelihood onely from day to day : And yet he was more pleased with this condition, then Alexander with the command of the whole World, when having conquered the Indians he returned to Babylon.
Of certain persons extremely Modest.
Amœbas the Lutenist was extremely continent, insomuch that having a very beautiful wife, he never lay with her. So likewise Diogenes the Tragedian Player. Clitomachus, one that had been Victour in all exercises,21 was extraordinary modest. At Feasts, if there were any loose discourse, immediately he arose and departed.
Of the diligence of Nicias in his Art.
Nicias the Picture-drawer was so intent upon Painting, that he many times forgot to eat, his thoughts being wholly taken up with his employment.
Of Alexander and Hercules, learning to play on the Lute.
Alexander son of Philip, whilest yet a boy, not of Mans estate, learnt to play on the Lute. His Maser bidding him strike such a string as suted with the Tune, and the Air required ; "And what imports it, said he, if I strike this ?" pointing to another. He answered, "It imports nothing to him that shall be a King, but to him that would be a Lutenist it doth." Doubtless he feared, that if behaved himself not discreetly he might suffer as Linus ; for Linus taught Hercules (yet a Boy) to play on the Lute, who touching the Instrument unmusically, Linus rebuked him ; whereat Hercules struck Linus with the Lute and killed him.
Of Satyrus a Player on the Flute.
Satyrus a Player on the Flute heard many times Aristo the Philosopher, and being much taken with his discourse, said,22
Into the fire my glittering Bow Why do I not as useleß throw ?
So mean did he esteem his own Art in comparison of Philosophy.
A Law common to the Romans and Lacedemonians.
The Lacedemonians and Romans had a Law, That no man might eat of whatsoever things, or as much as he pleased. They reduced the Citizens to Temperance, besides other waies, principally by diet.
That it was not permitted to laugh in the Academy.
There is a general report amongst the Athenians, which saith, that it was not permitted to laugh in the Academy : for they endeavoured to preserve that place free from contumely and levity.
Why Aristotle left Athens.
When Aristotle left Athens, fearing to be attainted, to one that asked him What kinde of City is Athens ? he answered, "Very beautiful ; but in it
Pears upon Pears and Figs on Figs do grow :
meaning Sycophants.23 And to one who asked him why he left Athens, he answered, "Because he would not the Athenians should sin twice against Philosophy" ; reflecting on the death of Socrates, and his own danger.
A Law of the Ceans concerning Old men.
It is a custome of the Ceans, That all such amongst them as are very Old, as if they invited one another to a Feast or some solemn sacrifice, should meet together, and being crowned drink Hemlock ; because they are no longer fit to doe their Countrey service, their Minds now doting by reason of Age.
Some things first found out at Athens.
They say that at Athens were first found out the Olive and Fig-trees ; which the Earth also first brought forth. Also that the Athenians invented Judiciary Pleas, and first instituted corporal Exercises, and uncloathed and anointed themselves. And Erichthonius first harnessed Horses together.
What things some of old did eat.
The Arcadians fed on Acorns, the Argives on Pears, the Athenians on Figs, the Tyrinthians on wild Figs,24 the Indians on Canes, the Carmans on Dates, the Maotians and Sauromatians on Millet, the Persians on Turpentine and Cardamum.25
Of Satyrs, Tityri, and Silenes.
The Satyrs companions of Bacchus in dancing are by some named Tityri ; which name they had from Teretisms (wanton Dances26) in which Satyrs delight : Satyrs, from the wideness of their mouths ; Silenes, from Sillos, which is a scoff with an unpleasing jest. The Silenes were cloathed in coats with sleeves, hairy on both sides ; which Robe signified the planting of Vines by Bacchus, and the downy thickness of the leaves.
Many Surnames of Bacchus.
The Ancients called to bring forth fruit plentifully *** Phluin, whence they named Bacchus Phleon, as also Protryges, and Staphylites, and Omphacites, with divers other names.27
Of certain Women that fell Mad.
Elege and Celane were Daughters of Prœtus. The Queen of Cyprus work'd them to prostitute themselves, insomuch as in some parts of Peloponnesus they ran up and down, as it is said, naked and raging. They roved also mad into other parts of Greece, transported with this distemper. It is likewise reported that the Wives of the Lacedemonians were transported with Bacchanalian fury ; as also those of the Chians : And that those of the Bœotians were transported with divine frenzies, the very Tragedy manifests.28 They say that onely the Minyades, Leucippe, Aristippe, and Alcithoe29 declined the Dance of Bacchus : the cause whereof was, that they desired to have Husbands, and therefore would not be Mænades to the God ; whereat he was incensed. And when they were working at their Looms, and very busie in weaving, on a sudden branches of Ivy and of Vines twined about their Looms, and Dragons made nests in their Baskets, and from the roof distilled drops of Milk and Wine. But when by all this they could not be persuaded to serve the Deity, then fury possessed them, & they committed a foul crime out of Cithæron, no less then that in Cithæron30 : for the Minyades, seised with frenzy, tore in pieces a young Infant of Leucippe's, thinking it a Kid ; then went to the rest of the Minyades, who persecuted them for this mischief, when they were turned into Birds. One was changed into a Crow, the other into a Bat, and the third into an Owl.
Of a Lutenist murdered by the Sybarites.
At Sybaris a Lutenist singing at a Festival which they celebrated in honour of Juno, and the Sybarites falling together by the ears about him, and taking up weapons to assault one another, the Lutenist afraid fled with his long Robe to the Altar of Juno : But they spared him not even there. A little while after bloud was seen to sprout up in the Temple of Juno, as if it had been from a Spring. The Sybarites sent to Delphi ; Pythia said,
Goe from my Tripods, for thy hands prophane Distilling bloud my sacred pavements stain : From me expect no answer, who didst slay The Muses Son ; Thou for his death must pay. None that transgresseth, vengeance can decline, Not though descended from Jove's mighty Line. He & his children, & their children must Expect due vengeance for that act unjust.31
Of one who might have aßisted his Companion, but would not: And of another that did aßist, but unfortunately.
Three young men of the same City being sent to Delphi to consult the Oracle, fell among Thieves : One of them ran away and escaped ; the second having killed all the Thieves but one, missed the last, and ran his sword through his companion. To him that ran away Pythia gave this Oracle :
Thou sufferedst they companion to be slain : I will not answer thee, goe from my Fane.
To the other demanding an answer Pythia gave this :
Thou slew'st they friend by chance in his defence : Clearer then ever is thy Innocence.
An Oracle given to Philip.
They say that Philip received an Oracle in Bœotia at the Trophonian Cave, That he should take heed of a Chariot. Fearing therefore because of the Oracle, it is reported he would never goe in a Chariot. The sucess is related two waies. Some say that the Sword of Pausanias wherewith he killed Philip had a Chariot carved in Ivory upon the Hilt : Others, that he was slain as he went round the Thebæan Lake named Harma, a Chariot. The first report is more generally received, the other is less frequent.32
A Law of the Stagirites.
This was a Law of the Stagirites, truly becoming the Greeks ; What you laid not down, take not away.33
Of Timotheus and some others, whom their Vertues availed nothing.
The Athenians first magnified Timotheus ; but afterwards when he was thought to have offended, neither did his own merits avail him in the least, nor those of his Ancestours.34 Themistocles was nothing benefited either by the Sea-fight at Salamis, or his Embassy to Sparta : I mean that Embassy by which he gave the Athenians means to build up their Walls again. For he was banished not onely from Athens, but quite out of Greece. Pausanias the Lacedemonian was nothing helped by his Victory at Platæa ; for when affairs were new-modelled at Byzantium, and they were sick of the Persian Disease, he lost that favour which he formerly had. Phocion was not saved by the general title of Phocion the Good, nor by his age of seventy five years, in which time he never injured any Athenian in the least ; for the Athenians imagining that he would have betrayed the Pyræum to Antipater, condemned him to death.35
Stanley's notes are marked by glyphs (e.g., *); other notes are numbered.
1. Proof, if proof were needed, that very bad writing is not solely a modern vice: "Here, by order of Jupiter, Apollo Pythius was purified after he had slain with his arrows the serpent Pytho, who guarded Delphi, where the Goddess Earth gave oracles."
2. Architheorus, ἀρχιθέωρος, that is, the head of a theoros, an embassy or mission to games or to an oracle.
3. This translation follows the text accurately, but "Pelagonia" seems to be a mistake of Aelian's for Pelasgia, unless these pilgrims took a very round-about route. Pelagonia is a Macedonian territory, near Thrace.
4. Dysmenidæ: latinized from the Greek. It's nearly impossible to translate, at least in these days in the West, where to be an enemy to one's country and to its values is considered clever, moral, and virtuous.
5. One, as Homer saith: presumably Hector, Iliad VIII: Μαίνετο δ᾽ ὡς ὅτ᾽ Ἄρης ἐγχέοπαλος.
6. Chapter X has been bowdlerized in this translation, partially by leaving out a few phrases, partially by careful choice of terms.
7. Chapter XII has been heavily edited in translation; the first part has been omitted, and the second so mistranslated as to obscure its meaning. It would have been far better if Stanley had omitted the chapter, if he was unwilling to translate it.
8. Tapyrians: Strabo says, XI.9.1, that they live between the Derbices and the Hyrcanians; XI.8.8, that they live between the Arians and the Hyrcanians, and "on the other side of the Hyrcanians" are the Derbices.
9. Drink to their Wives: that is, to any woman. Common Greek custom forbade the presence of women at dinners, save only in close family groups. Aelian's text uses the verb προπίνειν, translated here "drink to", but it would seem to indicate the physical presence of the woman in the room, as it means, literally, "present to the person one is honoring the cup from which one has just drunken" (cf. the Latin propinare). On the drunkenness of Greeks in general, consider the Latin pergraecor.
10. Xenocrates came from Chalcedonia; Speusippus, Plato's nephew; Amycles came from Heraclea. The first two were more celebrated than the last.
** Slaves. [Residents of a neighboring town that Sparta had reduced to slavery. Plutarch attributes a variant of this story to Agesilas, Sayings of Spartans Agesilaus 24.]
11. Oxydracæ: A people of India living between the Indus and the Hydaspes rivers.
12. Impute to Fortune: for instance, Curtius in his Stories of Alexander, X.5.35.
13. Fifth day of the Month: the month of "Dius" or Jupiter, the first month of the Macedonian calendar, corresponding roughly to the Roman October.
14. Eumenes: who, says Anthenaeus, wrote a journal of the expedition of Alexander. He was one of Alexander's generals; it does not seem probable that his account is meant to degrade Alexander.
15. Prophesied: by the Pythia; see Herodotus VII.220.
16. Anatheme: offerings to the gods were suspended in their temples; in a sense, Pindarus is hanging the city of Ephesus from the Temple of Diana and thus making it an offering to the goddess.
17. Declaring the case and their suit: Stanley has glided over part of the story: the Ephesians went dressed as supplicants, which in the case of Greeks was quite an extraordinary sight.
18. Liberty: Stanley omits a phrase here, admittedly a crux; the Greek has "granted them liberty with flight". Since the Ephesians clearly stayed where they were -- Aelian says so in the following passage -- Gesner suggests emending the textual φυγήν, flight, to ζωὴν, life. "Granted them liberty with their lives". (Though it would seem that granting the first without the second would be pointless.)
19. This version of Plato's turning to philosophy may or may not be consistent with the account given in Book II, Chap. 30, where Plato is described as having dabbled in various sorts of poetry before becoming a philosopher.
20. They were not there: that is, not marked and too small to point out on a map of that scale.
21. Victor in all exercises: He was a παγκρατιαστὴς, one who competed in both boxing and wrestling. In his accord with general tendency to bowdlerize, Stanley leaves out a clause: Clitomaches would turn away if he saw dogs coupling.
22. After Homer, Iliad 5.215.
23. Homer, Odyssey 7.120, leaving out two phrases. Sycophants = traitors, calumniators. The word originally meant those who exported figs from Attica in defiance of laws prohibiting it. Thus the wit of the verse from Homer in the word συκῆ, fig. In saying figs on figs do grow, Aristotle says that the number of those willing to denounce others grows daily.
24. Wild Figs: Aelian says that the Athenians ate figs, the Argives ate pears, ἄπιος, and the Tirynthians ate pears, ἀκρὰς. The distinction between the two words is not clear, but the first is often taken to be cultivated pears, the second wild pears. Hesychius says that ἄπιος is the same thing that everybody but the Laconians call ἀκρὰς: Ἀκράδα, ἄπιον, Λάκωνες.
25. Turpentine: that is, pistachios.
26. Teretisms: τερετίσματα are repetitious sounds, like humming or the chirruping of grasshoppers, not dances. "Wanton songs", more probably.
27. Protryges: the one who first harvested grapes; Staphylites: who grows grapes; Omphacites: one who doesn't wait for the grapes to ripen before making them into wine. See Ovid, Metamorphoses IV 10 ff.
28. Tragedies: Euripides' Bacchantes and Aeschylus's (lost) Penthea.
29. Minyades ... Alcithoe: that is, the daughters of Minea, etc.
30. Cithæron: the Bœotian moutain sacred to Bacchus. On it Agave tore her daughter Penthea to shreds.
31. Stanley skips part of the text after this (or his printer leaves it out: the poem ends at the bottom of a page and the rest of the text should be at the top of the next page): "The oracle was quickly fulfilled. The Sybarites, having taken up arms against the Crotonians, were utterly vanquished and their city destroyed."
32. Less frequent is an understatement; Ælian may be the only writer to report this version of the story. Valerius Maximus, I.8.ext9 says specifically that Philip avoided the Bœotian lake "Quadriga".
33. See Book IV, Chap. I.
34. On Timotheus, see Cornelius Nepos, Lives of Eminent Men.
35. According to Cornelius Nepos, Phocion, he was accused of abandoning it to Nicanor; Antipater was by that time dead. Led to his execution, he remarked that this was the common fate of the famous men of Athens.
This page is by James Eason.