Thomas Stanley, translator (1665) Claudius Aelianus His Various History. Book VI (pages 133-143)


Various History.

The Sixth Book.


Of the Wrath, Inhumanity, Contempt, Injustice, and Violence of some towards others.

The Athenians having overcome the Chalcidenses, distributed that part of their Country which is called Hippobotus into forty Lots1 ; but medled not with the ground consecrated to Minerva in the place named Lilantus. The rest of the Country they let out, and brought away the Pillars which now stand at the Royal Piazza, on which they set up the Bills of Sale.2 The Prisoners that they took they cast into Fetters : neither did this satisfie their rage against the Chalcidenses.

The Lacedemonians having overcome the Messenians, took to themselves the half of every thing in Messenia. and compelled the Free-women to goe to Funerals, and to bewail the dead, such as were Strangers, and nothing related to them. Of the men, they imployed some in Husbandry, some they sold, some they slew.

Likewse the Athenians were insolent in this manner. Having good success, they used not their good fortune moderately : For they compelled the forein Virgins that inhabited their Country, to carry Umbrella's in publick Solemnities before their own Virgins, and the women before their Women ; and the Men to carry Spades.3

The Sicyonians having taken Pellene, prostituted publickly the Wives and Daughters of the Pellenians. This was most savage, O you Grecian Gods,4 and unseemly, I think, even in Barbarians.

Philip having gained the Victory at Charonæa, was exalted with the success, as were also all the Macedonians. The Grecians, fearing him exceedingly, surrendred themselves according to their several Cities, as fast as possible to him. The same did the Thebans, and the Megarenses, the Corinthians, Achæans, Elei, and the Eubœans, that dwelt upon the Sea-side.5 Philip kept not the agreement he had made with them, but subjected them all to Servitude, contrary to right and equity.

Chap. II.

Of the Valour of the Son of Harmatidias.

The Son of Harmatidias the Thespian, going with others of his Country to aid the Athenians, fought at first stoutly and gallantly ; then having lost his Arms, fought with his bare hands against the armed men, and so died honourably. I have named the Father of the young man, and celebrated him after the manner of Homer. His own name, if any is inquisitive to know, let some other tell.6

Chap. III.

Of Isadas a Boy.

The Lacedemonians crowned Isadas, yet but a Boy, and not obliged by the Law to take Arms, for leaving the Gymnasium, and behaving himself gallantly in a Fight. Yet because he engaged with the Enemy before his age required it, and before he had received Arms from his Country, they fined him.7

Chap. IV.

Of him that was betrothed to the Daughter of Lysander.

Lysander dying, one that was betrothed to his Daughter in his life-time, because she was fatherless, and that Lysander at his decease proved poor, cast her off, and said he would not have her to Wife ; hereupon the Ephori fined him : not like a Lacedemonian or Grecian, to forget his Friend dead, and to preferre Wealth before a Contract.

Chap. V.

Of the Athenian Embassadours.

The Athenians, because the Embassadours which they sent to Arcadia took another way, and not that which they appointed, though they performed their charge well, put them to death.

Chap. VI.

Laconick Laws.

Are not these Laconick ? There is a Law amongst the Spartans, That he who hath had three Sons should be exempt from Watch and Ward ; he who five, should be discharg'd from all publick Offices and Taxes.8 That Marriages should be contracted without Portions.9 No Lacedemonian might learn a Trade. They must goe to Warre clothed in Scarlet: For besides that the colour had something of awfulness in it self ; the bloud which was spilt upon it from wounds did much more daunt the Enemy, appearing more sharp to the sight and more dreadful.10

It was not lawful for a Lacedemonian to strip a slain Enemy. They who died fighting stoutly, were carried crowned with Olive and other Branches. But they who had fought best, had a Scarlet-Robe thrown over them, and so were buried honourably.

Chap. VII.

Of the Earthquake which happened at Sparta.

When the Lacedemonians had treacherously expelled the Tanarian Servants (these Servants were of the race of the Helotes) through the anger of Neptune there happened an Earthquake at Sparta, which threw down the City, so that there were but five Houses left standing of the whole City.11

Chap. VIII.

Of the Murther of Artaxerxes.

They say that Artaxerxes surnamed Ochus, being by Bagoas the Eunuch, who was an Ægyptian, slain and cut to pieces, was thrown to Cats,12 and some other buried in his stead was laid in the Regal Monuments. The Sacrileges which are reported of Ochus are many, especially those committed in Ægypt. Neither was Bagoas satisfied with killing Ochus, but he also made Hilts for Swords of the Bones of his Thighs: thereby signifying his bloudy disposition. He hated him, because when he came into Ægypt he slew Apis, as Cambyses had done before.13

Chap. IX.

Of a Treasure sought by the Delphians in the Pythian Temple.

There coming a report to Delphi, that the Temple of Apollo was anciently very rich (grounded upon these Verses of Homer,14

Not so much wealth as Phœbus marble Fane Founded in rocky Pytho doth contain,)

They say that hereupon the Delphians began to digg about the Altar, and the Tripod ; but there happening violent Earthquakes about the Seat of the Oracles, they gave over the attempt.

Chap. X.

A Law concerning Citizens made by Pericles.

Pericles General of the Athenians made a Law,15 That he whose Parents on both sides were not Citizens, might not enjoy the privileges of a Citizen. From this Law there happened a revenge upon himself ; for his two legitimate Sons, Paralus and Xanthippus, died of the common Pestilence. There remained onely to him his natural issue, who by their Fathers Law were deprived of interest in the State.16

Chap. XI.

Of Gelo offering to resign the Government.

Gelo having overcome the Carthaginians at Himera, reduced all Sicily to his obedience. Then coming into the Market-place unarmed, he declared that he would resign the Govenment to the Citizens. But they refused, knowing him to be more loving to the people, then desirous of Monarchick power. Hence in the Temple of Sicilian Juno there is an Image representing him unarmed ; which pictures this action.

Chap. XII.

Of the Happineß of Dionysius, and what end it had.

Dionysius the second had an Empire excellently fortified after this manner. He possessed Ships no less then four hundred, of five rows and six rows of Oars. His power of foot-souldiers was a hundred thousand, Horse-men nine thousand. The City of Syracusa was adorned with exceeding great Havens, and encompassed with a very high Wall. He had store for five hundred Ships more. His provision of Corn which was laid up was a hundred Myriads of Medimnæ.17 His Magazine was furnished with Shields, Swords, and Spears, many Legg-Arms, Breast-plates, and Slings. The Sling was Dionysius his own invention.18

He had also many Auxiliaries ; and confiding in these Dionysius thought he possessed an Empire bound with Adamant. But he first put his Brothers to death ; then saw his Sons cruelly murthered, and Daughters first ravished, then killed. Not one of those that descended from him had the rite of Sepulture : for some were burned alive, others cut in pieces and cast into the Sea. This happened to him, when Dio Son of Hipparinus invaded his Kingdome.19 He himself died old in extreme poverty.

Theopompus saith, that through excessive Drinking he had so great an infirmity in his Eyes, that he grew blind ; and that he sat in Barbers Shops, and talked jestingly to move laughter ; and that in the midst of Greece he led a dishonourable and wretched life.

No light argument to persuade men to moderation and temper, is the change of Dionysius his fortune, from so high, to so low a condition.

Chap. XIII.

Of Tyrannical Governments in Greece, which have continued in Posterities.

It is excellently ordered by Providence, that Tyrannical Governments last not to the third Generation ; but either the Tyrants are rooted out like Pitch-trees, or their Children devested of Power. But amongst the Greeks these Tyrannical Governments are known to have lasted so long ; that of Gelo in Sicily, of the Leucanians in Bosphorus, and of the Cypselidæ at Corinth.

Chap. XIV.

Of a Conspiracy against Darius.

I am told an extraordinary meek act of Darius Son of Hystaspes. Aribazus the Hyrcanian, with many other persons, not inconsiderable, in Persia, conspired against him. The Plot was laid at a Hunting : which Darius understanding, was not daunted, but commanded them to betake themselves to their Weapons and Horses, and to fix their Arms. And looking sternly upon them, "Why then doe you not that, said he, which you designed?" But they seeing the undaunted look of the man, gave over the attempt. And so great fear seized them, that they threw away their Spears, leaped from their Horses, adored Darius, and delivered themselves up to doe with them as he pleased.

He separated them from one another, and sent some to the confines of India, others to the borders of Scythia ; and they continued ever afterwards faithful to him, being mindful of this favour.

The End.


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

1. Or two thousand, say some manuscripts. The Hippobotus was dedicated to raising horses; this amounts to destroying it for that purposes (compare the fencing-in of cattle-raising territory in the western United States).

2. That is, the sale prices of the land the Athenians sold were engraved on the pillars.

3. Carry Spades: possible, I suppose. The word is σκαφηφορεῖν. To carry the offerings to the ceremony or solemnity; the bowl or tray was called σκᾶφη.

4. O you Grecian Gods is an interjection; that is, read "O Gods of Greece! This was most unseemly in the Sicyonians, unworthy even of barbarians!"

5. The sea-side: this is a crux. Of the various solutions, one is to make it refer to all of Attica, which was sometimes referred to in this way.

6. According to Herodotus, VII.227, his name was Dithyrambus (which seems most unlikely) and he was helping the Lacedemonians against Athens.

7. According to Plutarch, Agesilaus 34.6, Isidas or Isadas was naked and anointed with oil, armed with a spear and a sword.

8. Aristotle, Politics II, says the father of four sons gained these rights.

9. Hermippus, as quoted by Athenaeus XIII, says "in Lacedaemon all the young girls used to be shut up in a dark room, the unmarried young men being locked up with them; and each man led home, as his bride without dower, whichever girl he laid hold of."

10. According to Valerius Maximus, II.6.2, the Spartans wore red to help cover up the extent of their wounds, the sight of which might otherwise encourage their enemies.

11. As Stanley translates it, this chapter is nearly incomprehensible. The Lacedemonians expelled from the temple of Neptune at Tainaron a group of Helot slaves who had taken refuge there and put them to death, having promised not to do that. In a fury, Neptune caused an earthquake that destroyed the entire city of Sparta except for five houses. Diodorus Siculus XI.14 says that the earthquake killed more than 20,000 people.

12. Suidas says Bagoas ate the pieces of Artaxerxes himself.

13. On Artaxerxes Ochus, see also II.2 and, specifically about his killing Apis, IV.8.

14. Homer Iliad IX.405; Achilles says his life is worth more than the wealth of Ilium or the treasure that lies beneath the floor of Apollo's Temple.

15. Pericles renewed an existing law of Solon.

16. Pericles had at least one son by Aspasia, Pericles the Younger, who became an Athenian general and was one of the six generals executed after the battle of Arginusae. Other issue is not recorded, which doesn't mean that there weren't other children.

17. A medimnus was approximately equal to the Latin modius (see Cornelius Nepos Atticus), about a peck or quarter of a bushel.

18. Slings: catapults, καταπέλτης or ballistæ. Pliny VII, sect. 201 says that the ballista was invented by the Syro-Phoenicians.

19. This account is misleading. At least one of Dionysius's brothers (his half-brother, Nysaeus) survived long enough to succeed him in the tyranny of Sicily during the time Dionysius was in Locri. It was the Locrians who slaughtered Dionysius's sons and daughters (in blood-curdling fashion) after he had returned to re-conquer Sicily; there he stayed for some time, until ousted by Timoleon. (According to Cornelius Nepos, Life of Dion, Dion was married to Dionysius II's half-sister Arete, who was also his niece; and Dionysius II himself was married to another of his half-sisters, Sophrosyne.)

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