Thomas Stanley, translator (1665) Claudius Aelianus His Various History. Book VIII (pages 156-169)


Various History.

The Eighth Book.


Of Socrates his Dæmon.1

Socrates said of his Dæmon to Theages, Demodocus, and many others, that he many times perceived a voice warning him by Divine instinct, which, saith he, when it comes, signifieth a dissuasion from that which I am going to doe, but never persuades to doe any thing. And when any of my friends (saith he) impart their business to me, if this voice happens, it dissuades also, giving me the like counsel : Whereupon I dehort him who adviseth with me, and suffer him not to proceed in what he was about, following the Divine admonition. He alledged as witness hereof Charmides son of Glauco, who asking his advice, whether he should exercise at the Nemean Games ; as soon as he began to speak, the voice gave the accustomed sigh. Whereupon Socrates endeavoured to divert Charmides from his purpose, telling him the reason : But he not following the advice, it succeeded ill with him.

Chap. II.

Of Hipparchus his Wisedome, his care of Learned men ; and of Homer's Poems.

Hipparchus, eldest son of Pisistratus, was the wisest person among the Athenians. He first brought Homer's Poems to Athens, and caused the Rhapsodists to sing them at the Panathenaick Feast.2 He sent also a Gally of fifty Oars to Anacreon the Teian [Poet] that he might come to him. To Simonides the Cean [Poet] he was very kind, and kept him alwaies with him, obliging him (as is probable) by great gifts and rewards : for that Simonides was a great lover of money, none will deny. This Hipparchas made it his business to favour Learned men, and endeavoured by his authority to reduce the Athenians to Learning, and to better his Subjects ; conceiving that no man ought to envy Wisedome, who himself is just and honest. This Plato relates, if * Hipparchus be truly his.

Chap. III.

The Athenian Custome of killing an Oxe, and of the Diipolian and Buphonian Festival.

This is an Athenian Custome when an Oxe is killed : By Proclamation they acquit all severally of Murther, onely they condemn the Knife, and say that killed him. The day on which they doe this they call the Diipolian and Buphonian Festival.

Chap. IV.

Of the Luxury of Poliarchus.

They say that Poliarchus the Athenian arrived at so great a height of Luxury, that he caused those Dogs and Cocks which he had loved, being dead, to be carried out solemnly, and invited friends to their Funerals, and buried them splendidly, erecting Columns over them, on which were engraved Epitaphs.

Chap. V.

Of Neleus and Medon, and the Twelve Ionian Cities.

Neleus Son of Codrus, being deposed from the Regal Government, left Athens, (for the Pythian Oracle assigned the Kingdom to Medon) and intending to settle a Colony came to Naxus, not by design, but driven thither by Tempest : willing to depart thence, he was hindred by contrary winds. Whereupon being in suspence what to doe, the Soothsayers told him that his Company must be expiated, there being amongst those who came along with him many persons whose hands were defiled with bloud. Hereupon he pretended that he had killed some sservant, and needed Expiation ; whereby he induced such as were conscious of ill to the same. Which done, having now discovered who were the prophane persons, he left them. They continued at Naxus ; but Neleus came to Ionia, and first setled at Miletus, having turned out the Carians, the Mydgonians, the Leleges, and the rest of the Barbarians, ** who built the Twelve Cities in Ionia. The Cities are these ; Miletus, Ephesus, Erythræ, Clazomenæ, Priena, Lesbos, Teos, Colophon, Myus, Phocæa, Samos, and Chios. He also built many other Cities in Epirus.

Chap. VI.

Of the ignorance of Learning and Institution amongst the Barbarians.

They say that none of the ancient Thracians knew any thing of Learning. Even all the Barbarians that inhabited Europe thought it dishonourable to understand Literature. But those in Asia (as is said) used it more. Whence some forbear not to affirm, That not Orpheus himself, being a Thracian, was wise ; but that his Writings are false and fabulous. This Androtion asserts, if he be credible, concerning the ignorance of Learning and Institute amongst the Thracians.

Chap. VII.

Of the Marriages solemnized by Alexander, after his Victory over Darius.

Alexander having taken Darius, solemnized Marriages of himself and friends. The men that were married were ninety, and the Marriage-beds as many. The Hall in which they were entertained had a hundred Couches, such as they used to lie on at Meals : The feet of every Couch were of Silver ; but of that on which he lay, they were of Gold. They were all covered with various-coloured Carpets of rich Barbarian work. He admitted to the Feast some particular Friends, whom he caused to sit over against him. In the Court were feasted the Foot-souldiers, Mariners, Horsemen, Embassadours, and Forein Greeks. Before Supper the *** Trumpets sounded, to give notice that it was time to come to the Table ; and again when Supper was ended, that they should rise to depart. He solemnized these Nuptials five daies together. Very many Musicians, and Players, Tragedians and Comedians came thither. There came also many Jugglers out of India, of which kind those of that Country exceed all others.

Chap. VIII.

Of the Art of Painting.

Conon the Cleonæan (as is said) perfected the Art of Painting, which until then was but rude, and very indifferent, and as it were in its infancy. For which reason he also received a greater reward then the Painters that were before.3

Chap. IX.

Of a Tyrant killed by his Friend.

Archelaus, Tyrant of Macedonia, (for so Plato calls him, not King4) loved Crateuas exceedingly, who no less loved the supreme Command, and therefore killed his Friend Archelaus, hoping thereby to obtain the Tyranny, and make himself happy. But having possest the Tyranny three or four daies, he was also betraied by others and slain. To this Macedonick Tragedy aptly suit these Verses.

Who snares for others laies, Himself at last betraies.

They say that Archelaus had betrothed one of his Daughters to him : but marrying her to another, he out of indignation slew Archelaus.

Chap. X.

Of Solon, and the Laws written by him and Draco.

The Athenians chose Solon their Archon ; for that Office was not conferr'd by lot. After he was chosen, he beautified the City, besides other things, with Laws which he writ for them, and are observed to this day. Then the Athenians gave over using the Laws of Draco, which were called Thesmi, retaining onely those which concerned Homicides.

Chap. XI.

Of the decay and dissolution of things, and of the World it self.

It is not to be wondred at, that Humane Nature being mortal and transitory, necessitates them to perish, if we look upon Rivers that fail, and consider that even the highest Mountains diminish. Travellers say that Ætna appears to be much less then it was formerly. They relate the same of Parnassus, and Olympus the Pierican Mountain. And they who seem to understand the nature of the Universe, assert that the World it self shall be dissolved.

Chap. XII.

Of Demosthenes, Æschines, Theophrastus, and Demochares.

It is a strange thing, if true, that Demosthenes failing of Rhetorick in Macedonia, Æschines the Cothocidean, son of Atromitus, flourished amongst the Macedonians, and farre transcended the rest of the Embassadours in wit. The cause whereby this happened to Æschines, was the friendship of Philip and his gifts ; and because Philip heard him patiently and pleasingly, and looked upon him with a mild and benevolent aspect, thereby discovering the good will he had for him ; all which were great incitements to Æschines of confidence and fluent Language. This happened not onely to Demosthenes in Macedonia, though a most excellent Oratour, but also to Theophrastus the Eresian ; for he likewise was at a loss before the Council of the Areopagus, for which he alledged this excuse, That he was daunted with the grave presence of the Senate. To which speech Demochares answered bitterly and readily thus, "Theophrastus, the Judges were Athenians, not the twelve Gods."

Chap. XIII.

Of some who never laughed.

They say that Anaxagoras the Clazomenian never laughed, nor so much as smiled. They say also that Aristoxenus was a great enemy to Laughter. And that Heraclitus bewailed all things in life.

Chap. XIV.

Of the death of Diogenes.

Diogenes the Sinopean, being sick to death, and scarce able to goe, cast himself from a Bridge which was near the place of exercise, and charged the Keeper of the place that as soon as he was quite dead, he should throw him into the [River] Ilissus ; so little did Diogenes value Death or Burial.5

Chap. XV.

Of the Moderation of Philip upon a Victory ; and of what he would be minded continually.

Philip, when he had vanquished the Athenians at Chæronæa, though exalted with his success, yet subdued his passion, and behaved himself not insolently. Therefore he thought it requisite to be put in mind by one of his Servants that he was a Man : wherefore he appointed this office to a Servant ; neither did he goe forth before that, as is said ; nor was any that came to speak with him admitted before the Servant had cried aloud thrice to him, which he did daily. He said to him, "Philip, thou art a Man."

Chap. XVI.

Of Solon and Pisistratus.

Solon son of Execestides now grown old, began to suspect Pisistratus as aiming at Tyranny, when he came before a publick Convention of the Athenians, and required a Guard of the people. But seeing the Athenians, not regarding his speeches, went to Pisistratus, he said that he was wiser then some, and more valiant then others : wiser then those who perceived not that as soon as he had gotten a Guard, he would become Tyrant ; more valiant then those who perceived it, but held their peace. Pisistratus having gotten this power made himself Tyrant. Then Solon hanging out his Shield and Spear before his Gate, said, That he had taken Arms and defended his Country whilest he was able ; and now, though no longer fit by reason of his age to be a Souldier, he still was in mind a well-wisher. Notwithstanding Pisistratus, whether respecting the man and his wisedome, or mindful of their acquaintance in his youth, did no harm to Solon.

Not long after Solon being very old died, leaving behind him a great renown of Wisedome and Fortitude. They set up his Image of Brass in the Market-place, and buried him publickly near the Gates of the Wall on the right hand as you come in. His Monument was encompassed with a Wall.

Chap. XVII.

Of Oenycinus Monarch of the Zanclæans.

Oenycinus a Scythian, Monarch of the Zanaclæans, came up into Asia to King Darius, and was esteemed by him more just then all the persons that had come up out of Greece to him : For having obtained leave of the King, he went into Sicily, and came back again from thence to the King. This Democedes the Crotonian did not ; and therefore Darius much reproached him, calling him a Deceiver, and a most wicked man.6 But the Scythian lived very happily in Persia till he was old, and died there.

Chap. XVIII.

Of Euthymus and the Hero in Temese, and a Proverb.

Euthymus a Locrian, of those in Italy, was an eminent Wrastler, and reported to have been of admirable Strength. For the Locrians shew an extraordinary great Stone which he carried and set before his Gates. He quelled the Hero in Temese, who exacted Tribute of all that lived thereabout ; for coming into his Temple, which to most persons was inaccessible, he fought with him, and compelled him to give up much more then he had plundered : whence arose a Proverb of those who get any thing whereby they receive no benefit, that the Hero in Temese is come to them. They say that Euthymus going down to the River Cæcis, which runs by the City of the Locrians, was never after seen.7

Chap. XIX.

The Epitaph of Anaxagoras, and his Altar.

Here lies, who through truest waies did pass O' th' world Celestial, Anaxagoras.

There was a double Altar erected to him ; one inscribed of the Minde, the other of Truth.

The End.


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

1. Cf. Plato, Theages 128d-f.

2. In XIII.14, Aelian says that Lycurgus the Lacedemonian brought Homer's poetry to Greece from Ionia, and that Pisistratus compiled the poetry and divided it into the Iliad and the Odyssey (see also Cicero de Oratore III.137). These statements are not incompatible with the story here.

* A Dialogue so nam'd in the Works of Plato.

** For ἀφ᾽ ὦν . . ἐκλήϑησαν perhaps should read ἀφ᾽ οὖ . . . ἐκλἐϑησαν. [In any case, the cities were named for them, whether they built them or otherwise.]

*** Πρὸς σάλπιγγα.

3. Conon: cf. Pliny, XXXV.56 who calls what seems to be the same painter Cimon.

4. See the second Alcibiades, from which this chapter is taken.

5. Since the Ilissus is in Attica and Diogenes is known to have died at Corinth, some suggest that the river is rather the Elissus. Not that it makes any difference to the point of the story. He didn't cast himself from the bridge, but rather on the bridge: that is, he lay down and waited to die.

6. On Democedes, see Herodotus, III.129 and following.

7. On Euthymus, see Pausanias 6.6.4-11. Pausanias says that the Hero was the ghost of a companion of Odysseus.

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