SLANDER, A WARNING
A TERRIBLE thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. We are all walkers in darkness--or say, our experience is that of blind men, knocking helplessly against the real, and stepping high to clear the imaginary, failing to see what is close at their feet, and in terror of being hurt by something that is leagues away. Whatever we do, we are perpetually slipping. about. This it is that has found the tragic poets a thousand themes, Labdacids, Pelopids, and all their kind. Inquiry would show that most of the calamities put upon the boards are arranged by ignorance as by some supernatural stage-manager. This is true enough as a generality; but I refer more particularly to the false reports about intimates and friends that have ruined families, razed cities, driven fathers into frenzy against their offspring, embroiled brother with brother, children with parents, and lover with beloved. Many are the friendships that have been cut short, many the households set by the ears, because slander has found ready credence.
By way of precaution against it, then, it is my design to sketch the nature, the origin, and effects of slander, though indeed the picture is already in existence, by the hand of Apelles. He had been traduced in the ears of Ptolemy as an accomplice of Theodotas in the Tyrian conspiracy. As a matter of fact he had never seen Tyre, and knew nothing of Theodotas beyond the information that he was an officer of Ptolemy's in charge of Phoenicia. However, that did not prevent another painter called Antiphilus, who was jealous of his court influence and professional skill, from reporting his supposed complicity to Ptolemy: he had seen him at Theodotas's table in Phoenicia, whispering in his ear all through dinner; he finally got as far as making Apelles out prime instigator of the Tyrian revolt and the capture of Pelusium.
Ptolemy was not distinguished for sagacity; he had been brought up on the royal diet of adulation; and the incredible tale so inflamed and carried him away that the probabilities of the case never struck him: the traducer was a professional rival; a painter's insignificance was hardly equal to the part; and this particular painter had had nothing but good at his hands, having been exalted by him above his fellows. But no, he did not even find out whether Apelles had ever made a voyage to Tyre; it pleased him to fall into a passion and make the palace ring with denunciations of the ingrate, the plotter, the conspirator. Luckily one of the prisoners, between disgust at Antiphilus's effrontery and compassion for Apelles, stated that the poor man had never been told a word of their designs; but for this, he would have paid with his head for his non-complicity in the Tyrian troubles.
Ptolemy was sufficiently ashamed of himself, we learn, to make Apelles a present of £25,000, besides handing Antiphilus over to him as a slave. The painter was impressed by his experience, and took his revenge upon Slander in a picture.
On the right sits a man with long ears almost of the Midas pattern, stretching out a hand to Slander, who is still some way off, but coming. About him are two females whom I take for Ignorance and Assumption. Slander, approaching from the left, is an extraordinarily beautiful woman, but with a heated, excitable air that suggests delusion and impulsiveness; in her left hand is a lighted torch, and with her right she is haling a youth by the hair; he holds up hands to heaven and calls the Gods to witness his innocence. Showing Slander the way is a man with piercing eyes, but pale, deformed, and shrunken as from long illness; one may easily guess him to be Envy. Two female attendants encourage Slander, acting as tire-women, and adding touches to her beauty; according to the cicerone, one of these is Malice, and the other Deceit. Following behind in mourning guise, black-robed and with torn hair, comes (I think he named her) Repentance. She looks tearfully behind her, awaiting shame-faced the approach of Truth. That was how Apelles translated his peril into paint.
I propose that we too execute in his spirit a portrait of Slander and her surroundings; and to avoid vagueness let us start with a definition or outline. Slander, we will say, is an undefended indictment, concealed from its object, and owing its success to one-sided half-informed procedure. Now we have something to go upon. Further, our actors, as in comedy 1, are three--the slanderer, the slandered, and the recipient of the slander; let us take each in turn and see how his case works out.
And first for our chief character, the manufacturer of the slander. That he is not a good man needs no proof; no good man will injure his neighbour; good men's reputation, and their credit for kindness, is based on the benefits they confer upon their friends, not on unfounded disparagement of others and the ousting of them from their friends' affections.
Secondly, it is easy to realize that such a person offends against justice, law, and piety, and is a pest to all who associate with him. Equality in everything, and contentment with your proper share, are the essentials of justice; inequality and overreaching, of injustice; that every one will admit. It is not less clear that the man who secretly slanders the absent is guilty of over-reaching; he is insisting on entire possession of his hearer, appropriating and enclosing his ears, guarding them against impartiality by blocking them with prejudice. Such procedure is unjust to the last degree; we have the testimony of the best law-givers for that; Solon and Draco made every juror swear that he would hear indifferently, and view both parties with equal benevolence, till the defence should have been compared with the prosecution and proved better or worse than it. Before such balancing of the speeches, they considered that the forming of a conclusion must be impious and unholy. We may indeed literally suppose Heaven to be offended, if we license the accuser to say what he will, and then, closing our own ears or the defendant's mouth, allow our judgement to be dictated by the first speech. No one can say, then, that the uttering of slander is reconcilable with the requirements of justice, of law, or of the juror's oath. If it is objected that the lawgivers are no sufficient authority for such extreme justice and impartiality, I fall back on the prince of poets, who has expressed a sound opinion, or let me say, laid down a sound law on the subject:
or give thy judgement, till both sides are heard.
He too was doubtless very well aware that, of all the ills that flesh is heir to, none is more grievous or more iniquitous than that a man should be condemned unjudged and unheard. That is precisely what the slanderer tries to effect by exposing the slandered without trial to his hearer's wrath, and precluding 1 defence by the secrecy of his denunciation.
Every such person is a skulker and a coward; he will not come into the open; he is an ambuscader shooting from a lurking-place, whose opponent cannot meet him nor have it out with him, but must be shot down helplessly before he knows that war is afoot; there could be no clearer proof that his allegations are baseless. Of course a man who knows he is bringing true charges does the exposure in public, challengers inquiry, and faces examination; just so no one who can win a pitched battle will resort to ambush and deceit.
It is in kings' courts that these creatures are mostly found; they thrive in the atmosphere of dominion and power, where envy is rife, suspicions innumerable, and the opportunities for flattery and back-biting endless. Where hopes are higher, there envy is more intense, hatred more reckless, and jealousy more unscrupulous. They all keep close watch upon one another, spying like duellists for a weak spot. Every one would be first, and to that end shoves and elbows his neighbour aside, and does his best to pull back or trip the man in front of him. One whose equipment is limited to goodness is very soon thrown down, dragged about, and finally thrust forth with ignominy; while he who is prepared to flatter, and can make servility plausible, is high in credit, gets first to his end, and triumphs. These people bear out the words of Homer:
Th’ impartial War-God slayeth him that slew.
Convinced that the prize is great, they elaborate their mutual stratagems, among which slander is at once the speediest and the most uncertain; high are the hopes with which this child of envy or hatred is born; pitiful, gloomy and disastrous the end to which it comes.
Success is by no means the easy simple matter it may be supposed; it demands much skill and tact, with the most concentrated attention. Slander would never do the harm it does, if it were not made plausible; it would never prevail against truth, that strongest of all things, if it were not dressed up into really attractive bait.
The chief mark for it is the man who is in favour, and therefore enviable in the eyes of his distanced competitors; they all regard him as standing in their light, and let fly at him; every one thinks he will be first if he can only dispose of this conspicuous person and spoil him of his favour. You, may see the same thing among runners at the games. The good runner, from the moment the barrier falls, simply makes the best of his way; his thoughts are on the winning-post, his hopes of victory in his feet; he leaves his neighbour alone and does not concern himself at all with his competitors. It is the ill qualified, with no prospect of winning by his speed, who resorts to foul play; his one pre-occupation is how he may stop, impede, curb the real runner, because failing that his own victory is out of the question. The persons we are concerned with race in like manner for the favour of the great. The one who forges ahead is at once the object of plots, is taken at a disadvantage by his enemies when his thoughts are elsewhere, and got rid of, while they get credit for devotion by the harm they do to others.
The credibility of the slander is by no means left to take care of itself; it is the chief object of their solicitude; they are extremely cautious against inconsistencies or contradictions. The usual method is to seize upon real characteristics of a victim, and only paint these in darker colours, which allows verisimilitude. A man is a doctor; they make him out a poisoner; wealth figures as tyranny; the tyrant's ready tool is a ready traitor too.
Sometimes, however, the hint is taken from the hearer's own nature; the villains succeed by using a bait that will tempt him. They know he is jealous, and they tell him: 'He beckoned to your wife at dinner, and sighed as he gazed at her; and Stratonice--well, did not seem offended.' Or he writes poetry, and piques himself upon it; then, 'Philoxenus had great sport pulling your poem to pieces--said the metre was faulty and the composition vile.' A devout religious person is told that his friend is an atheist and a blasphemer, rejects belief and denies Providence. That is quite enough; the venom has entered at the ear and inflamed the brain; the man does not wait for confirmation, but abandons his friend.
In a word, they invent and say the kind of thing that they know will be most irritating to their hearer, and having a full knowledge of his vulnerable point, concentrate their fire upon it; he is to be too much flustered by rage to have time for investigation; the very surprise of what he is told is to be so convincing to him that he will not hear, even if his friend is willing to plead.
That slander, indeed, is especially effective which is unwelcome; Demetrius the Platonic was reported to Ptolemy Dionysus for a water drinker, and for the only man who had declined to put on female attire at the Dionysia. He was summoned next morning, and had to drink in public, dress up in gauze, clash and dance to the cymbals, or he would have been put to death for disapproving the King's life, and setting up for a critic of his luxurious ways.
At Alexander's court there was no more fatal imputation than that of refusing worship and adoration to Hephaestion. Alexander had been so fond of him that to appoint him a God after his death was, for such a worker of marvels, nothing out of the way. The various cities at once built temples to him, holy ground was consecrated, altars, offerings and festivals instituted to this new divinity; if a man would be believed, he must swear by Hephaestion. For smiling at these proceedings, or showing the slightest lack of reverence, the penalty was death. The flatterers cherished, fanned, and put the bellows to this childish fancy of Alexander's; they had visions and manifestations of Hephaestion to relate; they invented cures and attributed oracles to him; they did not stop short of doing sacrifice to this God of Help and Protection. Alexander was delighted, and ended by believing in it all; it gratified his vanity to think that he was now not only a God's son, but a God-maker. It would be interesting to know how many of his friends in those days found that what the new divinity did for them was to supply a charge of irreverence on which they might be dismissed and deprived of the King's favour.
Agathocles of Samos was a valued officer of his, who very narrowly escaped being thrown into a lion's cage; the offence reported against him was shedding tears as he passed Hephaestion's tomb. The tale goes that he was saved by Perdiccas, who swore, by all the Gods and Hephaestion, that the God had appeared plainly to him as he was hunting, and charged him to bid Alexander spare Agathocles: his tears had meant neither scepticism nor mourning, but been merely a tribute to the friendship that was gone.
Flattery and slander had just then their opportunity in Alexander's emotional condition. In a siege, the assailants do not attempt a part of the defences that is high, precipitous, or solid; they direct all their force at some rotten, low, or neglected point, expecting to get in and effect the capture most easily so. Similarly the slanderer finds out where the soul is weak or corrupt or accessible, there makes his assault, there applies his engines, or effects an entry at a point where there are no defenders to mark his approach. Once in, he soon has all in flames; fire and sword and devastation clear out the previous occupants; how else should it be when a soul is captured and enslaved?
His siege-train includes deceit, falsehood, perjury, insinuation, effrontery, and a thousand other moral laxities. But the chief of them all is Flattery, the blood relation, the sister indeed, of Slander. No heart so high, so fenced with adamant, but Flattery will master it, with the aid of Slander undermining and sapping its foundations.
That is what goes on outside. But within there are traitorous parties working to the same end, stretching hands of help to the attack, opening the gates, and doing their utmost to bring the capture about. There are those ever-present human frailties, fickleness and satiety; there is the appetite for the surprising. We all delight, I cannot tell why, in whisperings and insinuations. I know people whose ears are as agreeably titillated with slander as their skin with a feather.
Supported by all these allies, the attack prevails; victory is hardly in doubt for a moment; there is no defence or resistance to the assault; the hearer surrenders without reluctance, and the slandered knows nothing of what is going on; as when a town is stormed by night, he has his throat cut in his sleep.
The most pitiful thing is when, all unconscious of how matters stand, he comes to his friend with a cheerful countenance, having nothing to be ashamed of, and talks and behaves as usual, just as if the toils were not all round him. Then if the other has any nobility or generous spirit of fair play in him, he gives vent to his anger and pours out his soul; after which he allows him to answer, and so finds out how he has been abused.
But if he is mean and ignoble, he receives him with a lip smile, while he is gnashing his teeth in covert rage, wrathfully brooding in the soul's dark depth, as the poet describes it. I know nothing so characteristic of a warped slavish nature as to bite the lip while you nurse your spite and cultivate your secret hatred, one thing in your heart and another on your tongue, playing with the gay looks of comedy a lamentable sinister tragedy. This is especially apt to occur, when the slander conies from one who is known for an old friend of the slandered. When that is the case, a man pays no attention to anything the victim or his apologists may say; that old friendship affords a sufficient presumption of truth; he forgets that estrangements, unknown to outsiders, constantly part the greatest friends; and sometimes a man will try to escape the consequences of his own faults by attributing similar ones to his neighbour and getting his denunciation in first. It may be taken, indeed, that no one will venture to slander an enemy; that is too unconvincing; the motive is so obvious. It is the supposed friend that is the most promising object, the idea being to give your hearer absolute proof of your devotion to him by sacrificing your dearest to his interests.
It must be added that there are persons who, if they subsequently learn that they have condemned a friend in error, are too much ashamed of that error to receive or look him in the face again; you might suppose the discovery of his innocence was a personal injury to them.
It is not, then, too much to say that life is made miserable by these lightly and incuriously credited slanders. Antea said to Proetus, after she had solicited and been scorned by Bellerophon;
Die thou the death, if thou slay not the man
That so would have enforc’d my chastity!
By the machinations of this lascivious woman, the young man came near perishing in his combat with the Chimera, as the penalty for continence and loyalty to his host. And Phaedra, who made a similar charge against her stepson, succeeded in bringing down upon Hippolytus a father's curse, though God knows how innocent he was.
'Ah, yes,' I fancy some one objecting; 'but the traducer sometimes deserves credit, being known for a just and a wise man; then he ought to be listened to, as one incapable of villany.' What? was there ever a juster man than Aristides? yet he led the opposition to Themistocles and incited the people against him, pricked by the same political ambition as he. Aristides was a just man in all other relations; but he was human, he had a gall, he was open to likes and dislikes.
And if the story of Palamedes is true, the wisest of the Greeks, a great man in other respects too, stands convicted of hatching that insidious plot 1; the ties that bind kinsmen, friends, and comrades in danger, had to yield to jealousy. To be a man is to be subject to this temptation.
It is superfluous to refer to Socrates, misrepresented to the Athenians as an impious plotter, to Themistocles or Miltiades, suspected after all their victories of betraying Greece; such examples are innumerable, and most of them familiar.
What, then, should a man of sense do, when he finds one friend's virtue pitted against another's truth? Why, surely, learn from Homer's parable of the Sirens; he advises sailing past these ear-charmers; we should stuff up our ears; we should not open them freely to the prejudiced, but station there a competent hall-porter in the shape of Judgement, who shall inspect every vocal visitor, and take it on himself to admit the worthy, but shut the door in the face of others. How absurd to have such an official at our house door, and leave our ears and understandings open to intrusion!
So, when any one comes to you with a tale, examine it on its merits, regardless of the informant's age, general conduct, or skill in speech. The more plausible he is, the greater need of care. Never trust another's judgement--it may be in reality only his dislike--but reserve the inquiry to yourself; let envy, if such it was, recoil upon the backbiter, your trial of the two men's characters be an open one, and your award of contempt and approval deliberate. To award them earlier, carried away by the first word of slander--why, God bless me, how puerile and mean and iniquitous it all is!
And the cause of it, as we started with saying, is ignorance, and the mystery that conceals men's characters. Would some God unveil all lives to us, Slander would retire discomfited to the bottomless pit; for the illumination of truth would be over all.
3:1 'Cratinus was the first to limit the number of actors to three. . . There were no further innovations, and the number of the actors in comedy was permanently fixed at three.' Haigh's Attic Theatre.
As Alexander stood gazing at the transparent loveliness of the Cydnus, the thought of a plunge into those generous depths, of the delicious shock of ice-cold waters amid summer heat, was too much for him; and could he have foreseen the illness that was to result from it, I believe he would have had his bath just the same. With such an example before him, can any one whose pursuits are literary miss a chance of airing his eloquence amid the glories of this spacious hall, wherein gold sheds all its lustre, whose walls are decked with the flowers of art, whose light is as the light of the sun? Shall he who might cause this roof to ring with applause, and contribute his humble share to the splendours of the place,--shall such a one content himself with examining and admiring its beauties without a word, and so depart, like one that is dumb, or silent from envy? No man of taste or artistic sensibility, none but a dull ignorant boor, would consent thus to cut himself off from the highest of enjoyments, or could need to be reminded of the difference between the ordinary spectator and the educated man.
The former, when he has carried his eyes around and upwards in silent admiration, and clasped ecstatic hands, has done all that can be expected of him; he ventures not on words, lest they should prove inadequate to his subject. With the cultured observer, it is otherwise: he, surely, will not rest content with feasting his eyes on beauty; he will not stand speechless amid his splendid surroundings, but will set his mind to work, and as far as in him lies pay verbal tribute. Nor will his tribute consist in mere praise of the building. It was well enough, no doubt, for the islander Telemachus to express his boyish amazement in the palace of Menelaus, and to liken that prince's gold and ivory to the glories of Heaven;--his limited experience afforded him no earthly parallel: but here, the very use to which the hall is put, and the distinguished quality of the audience, are an essential part of the praise bestowed upon it.
Nothing, surely, could be more delightful than to find this noble building thrown open for the reception of eloquent praise, its atmosphere laden with panegyric, its very walls reechoing, cavern-like, to every syllable, prolonging each cadence, dwelling on each period;--nay, they are themselves an audience, most appreciative of audiences, that stores up the speaker's words in memory, and recompenses his efforts with a meed of most harmonious flattery. Even so do the rocks resound to the shepherd's flute; the notes come ringing back again, and simple rustics think it is the voice of some maid, who dwells among the crags, and from the depths of her rocky haunt makes answer to their songs and their cries.
I feel as if a certain mental exaltation resulted from this magnificence: it is suggestive; the imagination is stimulated. It would scarcely be too much to say that through the medium of the eyes Beauty is borne in upon the mind, and suffers no thought to find utterance before it has received her impress. We hold it for true that Achilles' wrath was whetted against the Phrygians by the sight of his new armour, and that as he donned it for the first time his lust of battle was uplifted on wings: and why should not a beautiful building similarly be a whet to the zeal of the orator? Luxuriant grass, a fine plane-tree and a clear spring, hard by Ilissus, were inspiration enough for Socrates: in such a spot he could sit bantering Phaedrus, refuting Lysias, and invoking the Muses; never doubting--indelicate old person--but that those virgin Goddesses would grace his retirement with their presence, and take part in his amorous discourse.
But to such a place as this we may surely hope that they will come uninvited, We can offer them something better than the shade of a plane-tree, though for that upon Ilissus' bank we should substitute the golden one of the Persian King. His tree had one claim to admiration--it was expensive: but for symmetry and proportion and beautiful workmanship, nothing of that kind was thrown in; the gold was gold, an uncouth manifestation of solid wealth, calculated to excite envy in the beholder, and to procure congratulations for the possessor, but far from creditable to the artist. The line of the Arsacidae cared nothing for beauty; they did not appeal to men's taste; not How may I win approval? but How may I dazzle? was the question they asked themselves. The barbarian has a keen appreciation of gold: to the treasures of art he is blind.
But I see about me in this Hall beauties that were never designed to please barbarians, nor to gratify the vulgar ostentation of Persian monarchs. Poverty is not here the sole requirement of the critic: taste is also necessary; nor will the eyes deliver judgement without the assistance of Reason. The eastern aspect, procuring us, as in the temples of old, that first welcome peep of the sun in his new-born glory, and suffering his rays to pour in without stint through the open doors, the adaptation of length to breadth and breadth to height, the free admission of light at every stage of the Sun's course,--all is charmingly contrived, and redounds to the credit of the architect.
What admirable judgement has been shown, too, in the structure and decoration of the roof! nothing wanting, yet nothing superfluous; the gilding is exactly what was required to achieve elegance without empty display; it is precisely that little touch of adornment with which a beautiful and modest woman sets off her loveliness; it is the slender necklace about her neck, the light ring upon her finger, the earrings, the brooch, the fillet that imprisons her luxuriant hair, and, like the purple stripe upon a robe, enhances its beauty. Contrast with this the artifices of courtesans, and particularly of the most unlovely among them, whose robes are all of purple, and their necks loaded with golden chains, who hope to render themselves attractive by their extravagance, and by external adornments to supply the deficiencies of Nature; their arms, they think, will look more dazzlingly white if gold glitters upon them, a clumsy foot pass unobserved if hidden in a golden sandal, and the face be irresistible that appears beneath a halo of gold. The modest house, far from resorting to such meretricious charms, uses as little gold as may be; I think she knows that she would have no cause to blush, though she should display her beauty stripped of all adornment.
And so it is with this Hall. The roof--the head, as I may say,--comely in itself, is not without its golden embellishments: yet they are but as the stars, whose fires gleam here and there, pranked in the darkness of the sky. Were that sky all fire, it would be beautiful to us no longer, only terrible. Observe, too, that the gold is not otiose, not merely an ornament among ornaments, put there to flatter the eye: it diffuses soft radiance from end to end of the building, and the walls are tinged with its warm glow. Striking upon the gilded beams, and mingling its brightness with theirs, the daylight glances down upon us with a clearness and a richness not all its own. Such are the glories overhead, whose praises might best be sung by him who told of Helen's high-vaulted chamber, and Olympus' dazzling peak.
And for the rest, the frescoed walls, with their exquisite colouring, so clear, so highly finished, so true to nature, to what can I compare them but to a flowery meadow in spring? Even so the comparison halts. Those flowers wither and decay and shed their beauty: but here is one eternal spring; this meadow fades not, its flowers are everlasting; for no hand is put forth to pluck away their sweetness, only the eye feeds thereon.
And what eye would not delight to feed on joys so varied? What orator would not feel that his credit was at stake, and so be fired with ambition to surpass himself, rather than be found wanting to his theme?
The contemplation of beautiful objects is of all things the most inspiring, and not to men only. I think even a horse must feel some increase of pleasure in galloping over smooth, soft fields, that give an easy footing, and ring back no defiance to his hoofs: it is then that he goes his best; the beauty of his surroundings puts him on his mettle; he will not be beaten,
if pace counts for anything. And look at the peacock. Spring has just begun; never are flowers a gladder sight than now; it is as if they were really brighter, their hues more fresh, than at other times. Watch the bird, as he struts forth into some meadow: he spreads his feathers, and displays them to the Sun; up goes his tail, a towered circle of flowery plumage; for with him too it is spring, and the meadow challenges him to do his utmost. See how he turns about, and shows forth his gorgeous beauty. As the sun's rays strike upon him, the wonder grows: there is a subtle transmutation of colours, one glory vanishing and giving place to another. The change is nowhere more apparent than in those rainbow rings at the ends of his feathers: here a slight movement turns bronze to gold, and (such is the potency of light) purple becomes green, because sun is exchanged for shadow. As for the sea, I need not remind you how inviting, how attractive, is its appearance on a calm day: the veriest landlubber must long to be upon it, and sail far away from the shore, as he marks how the light breeze fills the sails and speeds the vessel on its gentle gliding course over the crests of the waves.
The beauty of this Hall has a similar power over the orator, encouraging him, stimulating him to fresh effort, enlarging his ambition. The spell was irresistible: I have yielded to it, and come hither to address you, as though drawn by wryneck's or by Siren's charm; nor am I without hope that my words, bald though they be in themselves, may yet borrow something from that atmosphere of beauty in which they are here clothed as in a garment.
Scarcely have I pronounced these last words, when a certain Theory (and a very sound one, too, if we can take its own word for it), which has been interrupting me all along, and doing its best to break my speech off, informs me that there is no truth in my statements, and expresses its surprise at my assertion that gilding and mural decoration are favourable to the display of rhetorical skill. The very contrary, it maintains, is the case. On second thoughts, it may as well come forward and plead its own cause; you, gentlemen, will kindly serve as jury, and hear what it has to say in favour of the cheap and nasty in architecture, considered as rhetorical conditions. My own sentiments on this subject you have already heard, nor is there any occasion for me to repeat them. The Theory is therefore at liberty to speak; I will withdraw for a while, and hold my tongue.
'Gentlemen of the jury,' it begins, 'a splendid tribute has been paid to this Hall by the last speaker; and I for my part am so far from having any fault to find with the building, that I propose to supply the deficiencies of his encomium; for by magnifying its glories, I am so much the nearer to proving my point, which is, its unsuitableness to the purposes of the orator. And first I shall ask your permission to avail myself of his simile of feminine adornments. In my opinion, it is not enough to say that lavish ornament adds nothing to feminine beauty: it actually takes away from it. Dazzled by gold and costly gems, how should the beholder do justice to the charms of a clear complexion, to neck, and eye, and arm, and finger? Sards and emeralds, bracelets and necklaces, claim all his attention, and the lady has the mortification of finding herself eclipsed by her own jewels, whose engrossed admirers can spare no words, and barely a casual glance for herself.
The same fate, it seems to me, awaits the orator who exhibits his skill amid these wondrous works of art: his praises are obscured, quite swallowed up, in the splendour of the things he praises. It is as if a man should bring a wax light to feed a mighty conflagration, or set up an ant for exhibition on a camel's or an elephant's back. That is one pitfall for the orator. And there is another: the distracting influence of that resonant music that echoes through the Hall, making voluminous answer to his words, nay, drowning them in the utterance; surely as trumpet quells flute, or the sea-roar the boatswain's pipe, if he presume to contend with the crash of waves, so surely shall the orator's puny voice be overmastered by this mighty music, and seem like silence.
'Then again, my opponent spoke of the stimulating, the encouraging effect produced on the speaker by architectural beauty. I should have said that the effect was rather dispiriting than otherwise: the speaker's thoughts are scattered, and his confidence shaken, as he reflects on the disgrace that must attach to mean words uttered beneath a noble roof. There could be no more crushing ignominy; he is precisely in the position of a warrior in brilliant armour who sets the example of flight, and whose cowardice is only emphasized by his splendid equipment. To this principle I should refer the conduct of Homer's model orator, who, so far from attaching any importance to externals, affected the bearing of a man that was altogether witless; his design was to bring his eloquence into stronger relief by the studied ungracefulness of his attitude.
'The orator's mind, too, is so engrossed with what he sees, that it is absolutely impossible for him to preserve the thread of his discourse; he cannot think of what he is saying, so imperatively do the sights around him claim his attention. It is not to be expected that he will do himself justice: he is too full of his subject. And I might add that his supposed hearers, when they come into such a building as this, are no longer hearers of his eloquence, but spectators of its beauties; he must be a Thamyris, an Amphion, an Orpheus among orators who could gain their attention in such circumstances. Once let a man cross this threshold, and a blaze of beauty envelops his senses; he is all eyes, and to the orator is "as one that marketh not";--unless, indeed, he be altogether blind, or take a hint from the court of Areopagus, and give audience in the dark. Compare the story of the Sirens with that of the Gorgons, if you would know how insignificant is the power of words in comparison with that of visible objects.
The enchantments of the former were at the best a matter of time; they did but flatter the ear with pleasing songs; if the mariner landed, he remained long on their hands, and it has even happened to them to be disregarded altogether. But the beauty of the Gorgons, irresistible in might, won its way to the inmost soul, and wrought amazement and dumbness in the beholder; admiration (so the legend goes) turned him to stone. All that my opponent has just said about the peacock illustrates my point: that bird charms not the ear, but the eye. Take a swan, take a nightingale, and set her singing: now put a silent peacock at her side, and I will tell you which bird has the attention of the company. The songstress may go hang now; so invincible a thing is the pleasure of the eyes. Shall I call evidence? A sage, then, shall be my witness, how far mightier are the things of the eye than those of the ear. Usher, call me Herodotus, son of Lyxes, of Halicarnassus.--Ah, since he has been so obliging as to hear the summons, let him step into the box. You will excuse the Ionic dialect; it is his way.'
Gentlemen of the jury, the Theory hath spoken sooth. Give good heed to that he saith, how sight is a better thing >than bearing; for a man shall sooner trust his eyes than his ears.
'You hear him, gentlemen? He gives the preference to sight, and rightly. For words have wings; they are no sooner out of the mouth than they take flight and are lost: but the delight of the eyes is ever present, ever draws the beholder to itself. Judge, then, the difficulty the orator must experience in contending with such a rival as this Hall, whose beauty attracts every eye.
'But my weightiest argument I have kept till now: you, gentlemen, throughout the hearing of this case, have been gazing with admiration on roof and wall, scanning each picture in its turn. I do not reproach you: you have done what every man must do, when he beholds workmanship so exquisite, subjects so varied. Here are works whose perfect technique, applied as it is to the illustration of all that is useful in history and mythology, holds out an irresistible challenge to the judgement of the connoisseur. Now I would not have your eyes altogether glued to those walls; I would fain have some share of your attention: let me try, therefore, to give you word-pictures of these originals; I think it may not be uninteresting to you to hear a description of those very objects which your eyes view with such admiration. And you will perhaps count it a point in my favour, that I, and not my antagonist, have hit upon this means of doubling your pleasure. It is a hazardous enterprise, I need not say,--without materials or models to put together picture upon picture; this word-painting is but sketchy work.
'On our right as we enter, we have a story half Argive, half Ethiopian. Perseus slays the sea-monster, and sets Andromeda free; it will not be long ere he leads her away as his bride; an episode, this, in his Gorgon expedition. The artist has given us much in a small space: maiden modesty, girlish terror, are here portrayed in the countenance of Andromeda, who from her high rock gazes down upon the strife, and marks the devoted courage of her lover, the grim aspect of his bestial antagonist. As that bristling horror approaches, with awful gaping jaws, Perseus in his left hand displays the Gorgon's head, while his right grasps the drawn sword. All of the monster that falls beneath Medusa's eyes is stone already; and all of him that yet lives the scimetar hews to pieces.
'In the next picture, a tale of retributive justice is dramatically set forth. The painter seems to have taken his hint from Euripides or Sophocles; each of them has portrayed this incident. The two young men are friends: Pylades of Phocis, and Orestes, who is thought to be dead. They have stolen into the palace unobserved, and together they slay Aegisthus Clytemnestra has already been dispatched: her body lies, half-naked, upon a bed; all the household stand aghast at the deed; some cry out, others look about for means of escape. A fine thought of the painter's: the matricide is but slightly indicated, as a thing achieved: with the slaying of the paramour, it is otherwise; there is something deliberate in the manner in which the lads go about their work.
'Next comes a more tender scene. We behold a comely God, and a beautiful boy. The boy is Branchus: sitting on a rock, he holds out a hare to tease his dog, who is shown in the act of jumping for it. Apollo looks on, well pleased: half of his smile is for the dog's eagerness, and half for the mischievous boy.
'Once more Perseus; an earlier adventure, this time. He is cutting off Medusa's head, while Athene screens him from her sight. Although the blow is struck, he has never seen his handiwork, only the reflection of the head upon the shield; he knows the price of a single glance at the reality.
'High upon the middle wall, facing the door, a shrine of Athene is modelled. The statue of the Goddess is in white marble. She is not shown in martial guise; it is the Goddess of War in time of peace.
'We have seen Athene in marble: next we see her in painting. She flies from the pursuit of amorous Hephaestus; it was to this moment that Erichthonius owed his origin.
'The next picture deals with the ancient story of Orion. He is blind, and on his shoulder carries Cedalion, who directs the sightless eyes towards the East. The rising Sun heals his infirmity; and there stands Hephaestus on Lemnos, watching the cure.
'Then we have Odysseus, seeking by feigned madness to avoid joining the expedition of the Atridae, whose messengers have already appeared to summon him. Nothing could be more convincing than his plough-chariot, his ill-assorted team, and his apparent unconsciousness of all that is going forward. But his paternal feeling betrays him. Palamedes, penetrating his secret, seizes upon Telemachus, and threatens him with drawn sword. If the other can act madness, he can act anger. The father in Odysseus is revealed: he is frightened into sanity, and throws aside the mask.
'Last of all is Medea, burning with jealousy, glaring askance, upon her children, and thinking dreadful thoughts. See, the sword even now is in her hand: and there sit the victims, smiling; they see the sword, yet have no thought of what is to come.
'Need I say, gentlemen, how the sight of all these pictures draws away the attention of the audience upon them, and leaves the orator without a single hearer? If I have described them at length, it was not in order to impress you with the headstrong audacity of my opponent, in voluntarily thrusting himself upon an audience so ill-disposed. I seek not to call down your condemnation nor your resentment upon him, nor do I ask you to refuse him a hearing: rather I would have you assist his endeavours, listen to him, if you can, with closed eyes, and remember the difficulty of his undertaking; when you, his judges, have become his fellow workers, he will still have much ado to escape the imputation of bringing discredit upon this magnificent Hall. And if it seem strange to you that I should plead thus on my antagonist's behalf, you must attribute it to my fondness for this same Hall, which makes me anxious that every man who speaks in it should come off creditably, be he who he may.'
IT is a truism with no pretensions to novelty that there is nothing sweeter than one's country. Does that imply that, though there is nothing pleasanter, there may be something grander or more divine? Why, of all that men reckon grand and divine their country is the source and teacher, originating, developing, inculcating. For great and brilliant and splendidly equipped cities many men have admiration, but for their own all men have love. No man--not the most enthusiastic sightseer that ever was--is so dazzled by foreign wonders as to forget his own land.
He who boasts that he is a citizen of no mean city misses, it seems to me, the true patriotism; he suggests that it would be a mortification to him to belong to a State less distinguished. It is country in the abstract that I delight rather to honour. It is well enough when you are comparing States to investigate the questions of size or beauty or markets; but when it is a matter of choosing a country, no one would exchange his own for one more glorious; he may wish that his own resembled those more highly blest, but he will choose it, defects and all.
It is the same with loyal sons, or good fathers. A young man who has the right stuff in him will honour no man above his father; nor will a father set his affections on some other young man to the neglect of his son. On the contrary, fathers are so convinced of their children's being better than they really are, that they reckon them the handsomest, the tallest, the most accomplished of their generation. Any one who does not judge his offspring thus I cannot allow to have the father's eye.
The fatherland! it is the first and the nearest of all names. It is true there is nothing nearer than a father; but a man who duly honours his father, according to the dictates of law and nature, will yet be right to honour his fatherland in still higher degree; for that father himself belongs to the fatherland; so does his father's father, and all his house back and back, till the line ends with the Gods our fathers.
The Gods too love the lands of their nativity; though they may be supposed to concern themselves with human affairs in general, claiming the whole of earth and sea as theirs, yet each of them honours above all other lands the one that gave him birth. That State is more majestic which a God calls his country, that isle has an added sanctity in which poesy affirms that one was born. Those are acceptable offerings, which a man has come to their respective homes to make. And if Gods are patriotic, shall not men be more so?
For it was from his own country that every man looked his first upon the Sun; that God, though he be common to all men, yet each reckons among his country Gods, because in that country he was revealed to him. There speech came to him, the speech that belonged to that soil, and there he got knowledge of the Gods. If his country be such that to attain true culture he must seek another, yet even for that culture let him thank his country; the word State he could never have known, had not his country shown him that States existed.
And surely men gather culture and learning, that they may thereby render themselves more serviceable to their country; they amass wealth that they may outdo their neighbours in devoting it to their country's good. And ’tis no more than reason; it is not for those who have received the greatest of all benefits to prove thankless; if we are grateful, as we doubtless should be, to the individual benefactor, much more ought we to give our country her due; against neglect of parents the various States have laws; we should account our country the common mother of us all, and recompense her who bred us, and taught us that there were laws.
The man was never known who so forgot his country as to be indifferent to it when established in another State. All who fare ill abroad are perpetually thinking how country is the best of all good things; and those who fare well, whatever their general prosperity, are ever conscious of the one thing lacking: they do not live at home, but are exiles; and exile is a reproach. Those again whose sojourn has brought them distinction by way of garnered wealth or honourable fame, acknowledged culture or approved courage, all of them, you will find, yearn for their native land, where are the spectators of their triumphs that they would most desire. A man's longing for home is indeed in direct proportion to his credit abroad.
Even the young have the patriotic sentiment; but in the old it is as much more keen as their sense is greater. Every old man directs his efforts and his prayers to ending his life in his own land; where he began to live, there would he lay his bones, in the soil that formed him, and join his fathers in the grave. It is a dread fate to be condemned to exile even in death, and lie in alien earth.
But if you would know the true man's feeling for his country, it is in the born citizen that you must study it. The merely naturalized are a sort of bastards ever ready for another change; they know not nor love the name of country, but think they may find what they need in one place as well as another; their standard of happiness is the pleasures of the belly. Those whose country is their true mother love the land whereon they were born and bred, though it be narrow and rough and poor of soil. If they cannot vaunt the goodness of the land, they are still at no loss for praises of their country; if they see others making much of bounteous plains and meadows variegated with all plants that grow, they too can call up their country's praise; another may breed good horses; what matter? theirs breeds good men.
A man is fain to be at home, though the home be but an islet; though he might have fortune among strangers, he will not take immortality there; to be buried in his own land is better. Brighter to him the smoke of home than the fire of other lands.
In such honour everywhere is the name of country that you will find legislators all the world over punishing the worst offences with exile, as the heaviest penalty at their command. And it is just the same with generals on service. When the men are taking their places for battle, no such encouragement as to tell them they are fighting for their country. No one will disgrace himself after that if he can help it; the name of country turns even a coward into a brave man.
DIPSAS, THE THIRST-SNAKE
THE southern parts of Libya are all deep sand and parched soil, a desert of wide extent that produces nothing, one vast plain destitute of grass, herb, vegetation, and water; or if a remnant of the scanty rain stands here and there in a hollow place, it is turbid and evil-smelling, undrinkable even in the extremity of thirst. The land is consequently uninhabited; savage, dried up, barren, droughty, how should it support life? The mere temperature, an atmosphere that is rather fire than air, and a haze of burning sand, make the district quite inaccessible.
On its borders dwell the Garamantians, a lightly clad, agile tribe of tent-dwellers subsisting mainly by the chase. These are the only people who occasionally penetrate the desert, in pursuit of game. They wait till rain falls, about the winter solstice, mitigating the excessive heat, moistening the sand, and making it just passable. Their quarry consists chiefly of wild asses, the giant ostrich that runs instead of flying, and monkeys, to which the elephant is sometimes added; these are the only creatures sufficiently proof against thirst and capable of bearing that incessant fiery sunshine. But the Garamantians, as soon as they have consumed the provisions they brought with them, instantly hurry back, in fear of the sand's recovering its heat and becoming difficult or impassable, in which case they would be trapped, and lose their lives as well as their game. For if the sun draws up the vapour, dries the ground rapidly, and has an access of heat, throwing into its rays the fresh vigour derived from that moisture which is its aliment, there is then no escape.
But all that I have yet mentioned, heat, thirst, desolation, barrenness, you will count less formidable than what I now come to, a sufficient reason in itself for avoiding that land. It is beset by all sorts of reptiles, of huge size, in enormous numbers, hideous and venomous beyond belief or cure. Some of them have burrows in the sand, others live on the surface--toads, asps, vipers, horned snakes and stinging beetles, lance-snakes, reversible snakes 1, dragons, and two kinds of scorpion, one great size and many joints that runs on the ground, the other aerial, with gauzy wings like those of the locust, grasshopper, or bat. With the multitude of flying things like these, that part of Libya has no attraction for the traveller.
But the direst of all the reptiles bred in the sand is the dipsas or thirst-snake; it is of no great size, and resembles the viper; its bite is sharp, and the venom acts at once, inducing agonies to which there is no relief. The flesh is burnt up and mortified, the victims feel as if on fire, and yell like men at the stake. But the most overpowering of their torments is that indicated by the creature's name. They have an intolerable thirst; and the remarkable thing is, the more they drink, the more they want to drink, the appetite growing with what it feeds on. You will never quench their thirst, though you give them all the water in Nile or Danube; water will be fuel, as much as if you tried to put out a fire with oil.
Doctors explain this by saying that .the venom is originally thick, and gains in activity when diluted with the drink, becoming naturally more fluid and circulating more widely.
I have not seen a man in this condition, and I pray Heaven I never may behold such human sufferings; I am happy to say I have not set foot upon Libyan soil. But I have had an epitaph repeated to me, which a friend assured me he had read on the grave of a victim. My friend, going from Libya to Egypt, had taken the only practicable land route by the Great Syrtis. He there found a tomb on the beach at the sea's very edge, with a pillar setting forth the manner of death. On it a man was carved in the attitude familiar in pictures of Tantalus, standing by a lake's side scooping up water to drink; the dipsas was wound about his foot, in which its fangs were fastened, while a number of women with jars were pouring water over him. Hard by were lying eggs like those of the ostrich hunted, as I mentioned, by the Gararnantians. And then there was the epitaph, which it may be worth while to give you:
See the envenom’d cravings Tantalus
Could find no thirst-assuaging charm to still,
The cask that daughter-brood of Danaus,
For ever filling, might not ever fill.
There are four more lines about the eggs, and how he was bitten while taking them; but I forget how they go.
The neighbouring tribes, however, do collect and value these eggs, and not only for food; they use the empty shells for vessels and make cups of them; for, as there is nothing but sand for material, they have no pottery. A particularly large egg is a find; bisected, it furnishes two hats big enough for the human head.
Accordingly the dipsas conceals himself near the eggs, and when a man comes, crawls out and bites the unfortunate, who then goes through the experiences just described, drinking and increasing his thirst and getting no relief.
Now, gentlemen, I have not told you all this to show you I could do as well as the poet Nicander, nor yet by way of proof that I have taken some trouble with the natural history of Libyan reptiles; that would be more in the doctor's line, who must know about such things with a view to treatment. No, it is only that I am conscious (and now pray do not be offended by my going to the reptiles for my illustration)--I am conscious of the same feelings towards you as a dipsas victim has towards drink; the more I have of your company, the more of it I want; my thirst for it rages uncontrollably; I shall never have enough of this drink. And no wonder; where else could one find such clear sparkling water? You must pardon me, then, if, bitten to the soul (most agreeably and wholesomely bitten), I put my head under the fountain and gulp the liquor down. My only prayer is that the stream that flows from you may never fail; never may your willingness to listen run dry and leave me thirstily gaping! On my side there is no reason why drinking should not go on for ever; the wise Plato says that you cannot have too much of a good thing.
A WORD WITH HESIOD
Ly. As to your being a first-rate poet, Hesiod, we do not doubt that, any more than we doubt your having received the gift from the Muses, together with that laurel-branch; it is sufficiently proved by the noble inspiration that breathes in every line of your works. But there is one point on which we may be excused for feeling some perplexity. You begin by telling us that your divine gifts were bestowed upon you by Heaven in order that you might sing of the glories that have been, and tell of that which is to come. Well, now, one half of your duties you have admirably performed. You have traced back the genealogy of the Gods to Chaos and Ge and Uranus and Eros; you have specified the feminine virtues; and you have given advice to the farmer, adding complete information with reference to the Pleiads, the seasons suitable for ploughing, reaping, and sailing,--and I know not what besides. But that far diviner gift, which would have been of so much more practical utility to your readers, you do not exercise at all: the soothsaying department is entirely overlooked. We find no parallel in your poems to those prophetic utterances which Calchas, and Telemus, and Polyidus, and Phineus--persons less favoured by the Muses than yourself--were wont to dispense freely to all applicants. Now in these circumstances, you must plead guilty to one of three charges.
Either the alleged promise of the Muses to disclose the future to you was never given, and you are--excuse the expression--a liar: or it was given, and fulfilled, but you, niggard, have quietly pocketed the information, and refuse to impart it to them that have need: or, thirdly, you have composed a number of prophetic works, but have not yet given them to the world; they are reserved for some more suitable occasion. I do not presume to suggest, as a fourth possibility, that the Muses have only fulfilled half of their promise, and revoked the other,-- which, observe, is recorded first in your poem. Now, if you will not enlighten me on this subject, who can? As the Gods are 'givers of good,' so you, their friends and pupils, should impart your knowledge frankly, and set our doubts at rest.
My poor friend, there is one very simple answer to all your questions: I might tell you that not one of my poems is my own work; all is the Muses’, and to them I might refer you for all that has been said and left unsaid. For what came of my own knowledge, of pasturage, of milking, of driving afield, and all that belongs to the herdsman's art, I may fairly be held responsible: but for the Goddesses,--they give whatso they will to whom they will.--Apart from this, however, I have the usual poet's apology. The poet, I conceive, is not to be called to account in this minute fashion, syllable by syllable. If in the fervour of composition a word slip in unawares, search not too narrowly; remember that with us metre and euphony have much to answer for; and then there are certain amplifications--certain elegances--that insinuate themselves into a verse, one scarce knows how. Sir, you would rob us of our highest prerogative, our freedom, our unfettered movement. Blind to the flowers of poetry, you are intent upon its thorns, upon those little flaws that give a handle to malicious criticism. But there! you are not the only offender, nor I the only victim: in the trivial defects of Homer, my fellow craftsman, many a carping spirit has found material for similar hair-splitting disquisitions.--Come, now, I will meet my accuser on fair ground, face to 6 face. Read, fellow, in my Works and Days: mark the inspired prophecies there set forth: the doom foretold to the negligent, the success promised to him that labours aright and in due season.
One basket shall suffice to store thy grain,
And men shall not regard thee.
Could there be a more timely warning, balanced as it is by the prospect of abundance held out to him that follows the true method of agriculture?
Ly. Admirable; and spoken like a true herdsman. There is no doubting the divine afflatus (divine breath; inspiration) after that: left to yourself, you cannot so much as defend your own poems. At the same time, this is not quite the sort of thing we expect of Hesiod and the Muses combined. You see, in this particular branch of prophecy, you are quite outclassed by the farmers: they are perfectly qualified to inform us that if the rain comes there will be a heavy crop, and that a drought, on the other hand, will inevitably be followed by scarcity; that midsummer is not a good time to begin ploughing if you wish your seed to do anything, and that you will find no grain in the ear if you reap it when it is green. Nor do we want a prophet to tell us that the sower must be followed by a labourer armed with a spade, to cover up the seed; otherwise, the birds will come and consume his prospective harvest. Call these useful suggestions, if you like: but they are very far from my idea of prophecy. I expect a prophet to penetrate into secrets wholly hidden from our eyes: the prophet informs Minos that he will find his son drowned in a jar of honey; he explains to the Achaeans the cause of Apollo's resentment; he specifies the precise year in which Troy will be captured. That is prophecy. But if the term is to be so extended, then I shall be glad to have my own claims recognized without loss of time. I undertake, without the assistance of Castalian waters, laurel-branches, or Delphian tripods, to foretell and prognosticate: That if a man walk out on a cold morning with nothing on, he will take a severe chill; and particularly if it happens to be raining or hailing at the time. And I further prophesy: That his chill will be accompanied by the usual fever; together with other circumstances which it would be superfluous to mention.
No, Hesiod: your defence will not do; nor will your prophecies. But I dare say there is something in what you said at first--that you knew not what you wrote, by reason of the divine afflatus versifying within you. And that afflatus was no such great matter, either: afflatuses should not promise more than they mean to perform.
THE SHIP: OR, THE WISHES
Lycinus. Timolaus. Samippus. Adimantus
Ly. Said I not well? More easily shall a corpse lie mouldering in the sun, and the vulture mark it not, than any strange sight escape Timolaus, no matter though he must run all the way to Corinth at a stretch for it.--Indefatigable sightseer!
Ti. Well, Lycinus, what do you expect? One has nothing to do, and just then one hears that a great monster of an Egyptian corn-ship has put in to Piraeus. What is more, I believe you and Samippus came down on precisely the same errand.
Ly. So we did, so we did, and Adimantus with us; only he has got lost somewhere in the crowd of spectators. We came all together to the ship; and going on board you were in front, Samippus, if I remember, and Adimantus next, and I was behind, hanging on to him for dear life; he gave me a hand all up the gangway, because I had never taken my shoes off, and he had; but I saw no more of him after that, either on board or when we came ashore.
Sa. You see when it was we lost him, Lycinus? It must have been when that nice-looking boy came up from the hold, you know, with the beautiful clean linen, and his hair parted in the middle and done up in a knot behind. If I know anything of Adimantus, he no sooner saw that charming sight, than he said good-bye to the Egyptian ship-wright who was showing us round; and now stands urging his tearful suit. You know; his way; tears come natural to him in these affairs of the heart.
Ly. Well, but, Samippus, this boy was nothing great, that he should make such a conquest; Adimantus has the beauties of Athens at his beck; nice gentlemanly boys, with good Greek, on their tongues, and the mark of the gymnasium on every muscle; a man may languish under their rigours with some credit. As for this fellow, to say nothing of his dark skin, and protruding lips, and spindle shanks, his words came tumbling out in a heap, one on the top of another; it was Greek, of course, but the voice, the accent were Egyptian born. And then his hair: no freeman ever had his hair tied up in a knot behind like that.
Ti. Oh, but that is a sign of noble birth in Egypt, Lycinus. All gentlemen's sons wear their hair done up till they reach manhood. It was the other way with our ancestors: the topknot, and the golden grasshopper to keep it together, were the proper thing for old men in their time.
Sa. Very much to the point, Timolaus; you allude to the remarks in Thucydides's preface, about our old luxurious habits, as preserved in the Asiatic colonies
Ly. Of course! I remember now where it was we lost Adimantus. It was when we were standing all that time looking up at the mast, counting the layers of hides, and watching that marvellous fellow going up the shrouds, and running althe yards, perfectly comfortable, with just a hand on the yard-tackling.
Sa. So it was. Well, now what are we to do? Shall we wait for him here, or do you think I had better go back on board?
Ti. No, no, let us walk on; he has probably gone tearing off home, not being able to find us. Anyhow, he knows the way; he will never get lost for want of us to take care of him.
Ly. It is rather a shame, perhaps, to go off and leave one's friend to shift for himself. However, I agree, if Samippus does.
Sa. Certainly I do. We may find the gymnasium open still. --I say, though, what a size that ship was! 180 feet long, the man said, and something over a quarter of that in width; and from deck to keel, the maximum depth, through the hold, 44 feet. And then the height of the mast, with its huge yard; and what a forestay it takes to hold it! And the lofty stern with its gradual curve, and its gilded beak, balanced at the other end by the long rising sweep of the prow, and the figures of her name-goddess, Isis, on either side. As to the other ornamental details, the paintings and the scarlet topsail, I was more struck by the anchors, and the capstans and windlasses, and the stern cabins. The crew was like a small army. And they were saying she carried as much corn as would feed every soul in Attica for a year. And all depends for its safety on one little old atomy of a man, who controls that great rudder with a mere broomstick of a tiller! He was pointed out to me; Heron was his name, I think; a woolly-pated fellow, half-bald.
Ti. He is a wonderful hand at it, so the crew say; a very Proteus in sea-cunning. Did they tell you how he brought them here, and all their adventures? how they were saved by a star?
Ly. No; you can tell us about that now.
Ti. I had it from the master, a nice intelligent fellow to talk to. They set sail with a moderate wind from Pharus, and sighted Acamas on the seventh day. Then a west wind got up, and they were carried as far east as Sidon. On their way thence they came in for a heavy gale, and the tenth day brought them through the Straits to the Chelidon Isles; and there they very nearly went to the bottom. I have sailed past the Chelidons myself, and I know the sort of seas you get there, especially if the wind is SW. by S.; it is just there, of course, that the division takes place between the Lycian and Pamphylian waters; and the surge caused by the numerous currents gets broken at the headland, whose rocks have been sharpened by the action of the water till they are like razors; the result is a stupendous crash of waters, the waves often rising to the very top of the crags. This was the kind of thing they found themselves in for, according to the master,--and on a pitch dark night! However, the Gods were moved by their distress, and showed them a fire that enabled them to identify the Lycian coast; and a bright star--either Castor or Pollux--appeared at the masthead, and guided the ship into the open sea on their left; just in time, for she was making straight for the cliff. Having once lost their proper course, they sailed on through the Aegean, bearing up against the Etesian winds, until they came to anchor in Piraeus yesterday, being the seventieth day of the voyage; you see how far they had been carried out of their way; whereas if they had taken Crete on their right, they would have doubled Malea, and been at Rome by this time.
Ly. A pretty pilot this Heron, and no mistake, to get so far out in his reckoning; a man after Nereus's heart!--But look! that is surely Adimantus?
Ti. Adimantus it is. Let us hail him. Adimantus! . . . Son of Strombichus! . . . of the deme of Myrrhinus! He must be offended with us, or else he is deaf; it is certainly he.
Ly. I can make him out quite clearly now; his cloak, his walk, his cropped head. Let us mend our pace, and catch him up.--We shall have to pull you by the cloak, and compel you to turn round, Adimantus; you will take no notice of our shouts. You seem like one rapt in contemplation; you are pondering on matters of no light import?
Ad. Oh, it is nothing serious. An idle fancy, that came to me as I walked, and engrossed my attention, so that I never heard you.
Ly. And the fancy? Tell us without reserve, unless it is a very delicate matter. And even if it is, you know, we have all been through the Mysteries; we can keep a secret.
Ad. No, I had rather not tell you; you would think it so childish.
Ly. Can it be a love affair? Speak on; those mysteries too are not unknown to us; we have been initiated in full torchlight.
Ad. Oh dear, no; nothing of that kind.--No; I was making myself an imaginary present of a fortune--that 'vain, deluding joy,' as it has been called; I had just reached the pinnacle of luxury and affluence when you arrived.
Ly. Then all I have to say is, 'Halves!' Come, out with your wealth! We are Adimantus's friends: let us share his superfluities.
Ad. Well, I lost sight of you at once on the ship--the moment I had got you safely up, Lycinus. I was measuring the thickness of the anchor, and you disappeared somewhere. However, I went on and saw everything, and then I asked one of the sailors how much the vessel brought in to her owner in an average year. Three thousand pounds, he said, was the lowest reckoning. So afterwards, on the way back, I was thinking: Suppose some God took it into his head to make me a present of that ship; what a glorious life I should have of it, and my friends too!
Sometimes I could make the trip myself, at other times I could send my men. On the strength of that three thousand, I had already built myself a house, nicely situated just above the Poecile--I would have nothing more to say to my ancestral abode on the banks of the Ilissus,--and was in treaty for my wardrobe and slaves and chariots and stable. And now behold me on board, the envy of every passenger, and the terror of my I crew, who regarded me as next thing to a king; I was getting matters shipshape, and taking a last look at the port in the distance, when up comes Lycinus, capsizes the vessel, just as she is scudding before a wishing wind, and sends all my wealth to the bottom.
Ly. Well, you are a man of spirit: lay hands on me, and away with me to the governor, for the buccaneer that I am. A flagrant case of piracy; on the high roads, too, between Athens and Piraeus. Stay, though; perhaps we can compound the matter. What do you say to five ships, larger and finer ones than your Egyptian; above all, warranted not to sink?--each to bring you, shall we say, five cargoes of corn per annum? Though I foresee that you will be the most unbearable of shipowners when you have got them. The possession of this one made you deaf to our salutations; give you five more--three-masters all of them, and imperishable--and the result is obvious: you will not know your friends when you see them. And so, good voyage to your worship; we will establish ourselves at Piraeus, and question all who land from Egypt or Italy, as to whether they came across Adimantus's great ship, the Isis, anywhere.
Ad. There now; that was why I refused to tell you about it at first; I knew you would make a jest and a laughing-stock of my Wish. So now I shall stop here till you have got on ahead, and then I shall go another voyage on my ship. I like talking to my sailors much better than being jeered at by you.
Ly. That will never do. We shall hang about, and go on board too.
Ad. I shall go on first, and haul up the gangway.
Ly. Then we shall swim across and board you. You seem to think there will be no difficulty about your acquiring these great ships without building them or paying for them; why should not we obtain from the Gods the privilege of swimming for an indefinite distance without getting tired? You made no objection to our company the other day, you know, when we all went across together to Aegina, to see the rites of Hecate, in that tiny little boat, at sixpence a head; and now you are furious at the idea of our going on board with you; you go on ahead, and haul up the gangway. You forget yourself, my Shipowner; you wax fat and kick; you withhold from Nemesis her due. See what comes of houses in fashionable quarters, and great retinues. Well, please remember to bring us back some of those exquisite smoked fish from the Nile, or some myrrh from Canopus, or an ibis from Memphis;--I suppose you would scarcely have room for a pyramid?
Ti. That is enough, Lycinus. Spare his blushes. You have quite swamped his ship; she is laughter-logged, and can weather it no longer. Now, we have still some distance before us; let us break it up into four parts, and each have so many furlongs, in which he may demand of the Gods what he will. This will lighten our journey, and amuse us into the bargain; we shall revel in a delightful waking dream of unlimited prosperity; for each of us will have full control of his own Wish, and it will be understood that the Gods must grant everything, however impracticable. Above all, it will give us an idea who would make the best use of the supposed wealth; we shall see what kind of a man it would have made of him.
Sa. A good idea. I am your man; I undertake to wish when my turn comes. We need not ask Adimantus whether he agrees; he has one foot on board already. We must have Lycinus's sanction, however.
Ly. Why, let us to our wealth, if so it must be. Where all is prosperity, I would not be thought to cast an evil eye.
Ad. Who begins?
Ly. You; and then Samippus, and then Timolaus. I shall only want the last hundred yards or so before the Gate for mine, and a quick hundred, too.
Ad. Well, I stick to my ship still; only I shall wish some more things, as it is allowed. May the God of Luck say Yes to all! I will have the ship, and everything in her; the cargo, the merchants, the women, the sailors, and anything else that is particularly nice to have.
Sa. You forget one thing you have on board--
Ad. Oh, the boy with the hair; yes, him too. And instead of the present cargo of wheat, I will have the same bulk of coined gold, all sovereigns.
Ly. Hullo! The ship will sink. Wheat and gold to the same bulk are not of the same weight.
Ad. Now, don't make envious remarks. When your turn comes, you can have the whole of Fames turned into a mass of gold if you like, and I shall say nothing.
Ly. Oh, I was only thinking of your safety. I don't want all hands to go down with the golden cargo. It would not matter so much about us, but the poor boy would be drowned; he can't swim.
Ti. Oh, that will be all right. The dolphins will pick him up and get him to shore. Shall a paltry musician be rescued by them for a song's sake, a lifeless Melicertes be carried on their backs to the Isthmus, and Adimantus's latest purchase find never an amorous dolphin at his need?
Ad. Timolaus, you are just as bad as Lycinus, with your superfluous sneers. You ought to know better; it was all your idea.
Ti. You should make it more plausible. Find a treasure under your bed; that would save unloading the gold, and getting it up to town.
Ad. Oh yes! It shall be dug up from under the Hermes in our court; a thousand bushels of coined gold. Well; my first thought has been for a handsome house,--'the homestead first and chiefest,' says Hesiod; and my purchases in the neighbourhood are now complete; there remains my property at Delphi, and the sea-front at Eleusis; and a little something at the Isthmus (I might want to stop there for the games); and the plain of Sicyon; and in short every scrap of land in the country where there is nice shade, or a good stream, or fine fruit; I reserve them all. We will eat off gold plate; and our cups shall weigh 100 lb. apiece; I will have none of the flimsy ware that appears on Echecrates's table.
Ly. I dare say! And how is your cupbearer going to hand you a thing of that weight, when he has filled it? And how will you like taking it from him? It would tax the muscles of a Sisyphus, let alone a cupbearer's.
Ad. Oh, don't keep on picking holes in my Wish. I shall have tables and couches of solid gold, if I like; and servants too, if you say another word.
Ly. Well, take care, or you will be like Midas, with nothing but gold to eat and drink; and die of a right royal hunger, a martyr to superabundance.
Ad. Your turn will come presently, Lycinus, and then you can be as realistic as you like. To proceed: I must have purple raiment, and every luxury, and sleep as late as I like; with friends to come and pay court to me, and every one bowing down to the ground; and they will all have to wait about at my doors from early morning--the great Cleaenetus and Democritus among them; oh yes, and when they come and try to get in before every one else, seven great foreign giants of porters shall slam the door in their faces, just as theirs do now. And as soon as I feel inclined, I shall peep out like the rising sun, and some of that set I shall simply ignore; but if there is some poor man there, like me before I got the treasure, I shall have a kind word for him: 'You must come and have dinner with me, after your bath; you know my hour.' The great men will all choke with envy when they see my chariots and horses, and my handsome slaves--two thousand choice ones, of all ages. Well, so the dinner service is to be of gold,--no silver for me, it is much too cheap--and I shall have smoked fish from Spain; wine from Italy; oil from Spain again; our own honey, but it must be clarified without heat; delicacies from all quarters; wild boars; hares; all sorts of birds, pheasants, Indian peacocks, Numidian capons; and special cooks for everything, artists in sauce and seasoning. And when I call for a beaker or goblet to pledge any one, he shall take it home with him. As to the people who now pass for rich, they, I need not say, will be paupers to me. Dionicus will give up displaying his silver plate and cup in processions, when he sees that my slaves eat off nothing but silver. I should set apart something for the public service, too; a monthly distribution of £4 a head to citizens, and half that to foreigners; and the most beautiful theatres and baths you can imagine; and the sea should be brought along a great canal up to the Double Gates, and there would be a harbour close by, so that my ship could be seen lying at anchor from the Ceramicus. And of you who are my friends, Samippus should have twenty bushels of coined gold paid out to him by my steward; Timolaus, five quarts; and Lycinus one quart, strict measure, because he talks too much, and sneers at my Wish. That is how I would live; revelling in every luxury without stint, superlatively rich. I have done. Hermes bring it all to pass!
Ly. Have you realized on what a slender thread all thiswealth depends? Once let that break, and all is gone; your treasure is but dust and ashes.
Ad. How so?
Ly. Why, it is not clear how long this life of affluence is to last. Who knows? You may be sitting one day at your solid gold table, just putting out your hand for a slice of that peacock or capon, when, at that very moment, off flies animula vagula, and Adimantus after her, leaving his all a prey to crows and vultures. Need I enumerate instances? There have been rich men who have died before they knew what it was to be rich; others have lived to be robbed of their possessions by some malign spirit who waits upon wealth. The cases of Croesus and Polycrates are familiar to you. Their riches were greater far than yours; yet at one stroke they lost all. But leaving them out of the case, do you consider that you have good security for the continuance of your health? Look at the number of rich men whose lives are made miserable by their infirmities: some are crippled, others are blind, others have internal diseases. Say what you will, I am sure that for double your wealth you would not consent to be a weakling like rich Phanomachus; not to mention the artful designs, the robberies, the envy, and the unpopularity that are inseparable from wealth. See what troubles your treasure will land you in!
Ad. You are always against me, Lycinus. I shall cancel your quart now, for this last piece of spite.
Ly. That is so like a rich man, to draw back and break his promise; a good beginning! Now, Samippus, it is your turn to wish.
Sa. Well, I am a landsman; I come from Mantinea, you know, in Arcadia; so I shall not ask for a ship; I could make no show with that in my country. Nor will I insult the generosity of the Gods by asking for so much gold down. I understand there is no boon so great, but their power and Timolaus's law can compass it; we are to wish away without ceremony, he says,--they will refuse us nothing. Well then, I wish to be a king. But I will not succeed to a hereditary throne, like Alexander of Macedon, Ptolemy, Mithridates and the rest of them. No, I will begin as a brigand, in a troop of thirty or so, brisk companions ready at need. Then little by little we shall grow to be 300; then 1,000, and presently 10,000; and at last we shall total 50,000 heavy-armed, and 5,000 horse. I shall be elected their chieftain by general consent, having shown myself to be the best qualified for the command and conduct of their affairs. Already, you see, I have the advantage of ordinary kings: I am elected to the command on my own merits; I am no hereditary monarch, reaping the fruits of my predecessor's labours. That would be like Adimantus, with his treasure; but there is much more satisfaction in knowing that your power is the work of your own hands.
Ly. Now really, this is a Wish, and no mistake; the very acme of blessedness; to be commander of that vast company, chosen on your own merits by 50,000 men! A genius, a master! of strategy and king-craft has been quietly growing up in Mantinea, and we not a whit the wiser! But I interrupt. Proceed, O King, at the head of your troops; dispose your forces, infantry and cavalry. Whither, I wonder, goes this mighty host, issuing from Arcadia? Who are to be the first victims?
Sa. I'll tell you; or you can come with us, if you like. I will put you in command of the cavalry.
Ly. Why, as to that, your Majesty, I am much beholden to you for the honour; accept my most oriental prostrations; and manuflexions. But, with all respect to your diadem, and the perpendicularity of your tiara, you would do well to take one of these stout fellows instead. I am sadly deficient in horsemanship; indeed, I was never on a horse in my life. I am afraid that when the trumpet sounded to advance, I might fall off, and be trampled, in the general confusion, under some of those numerous hoofs. Or again, my spirited charger might get the bit between his teeth, and carry me right into the midst of the enemy. If I am to remain in possession of saddle and bridle, I shall have to be tied on.
Ad. All right, Samippus, I will command the cavalry; Lycinus can have the right wing. I have the first claim on you, after all those bushels of sovereigns.
Sa. Let us see what my troopers think of you for a leader. All in favour of Adimantus, hold up their hands.
Ad. All hands go up, look.
Sa. You command the cavalry, then, and Lycinus the right wing. Timolaus will have the left wing. I am in the centre, like the Persian monarchs when they take the field in person. Well; after due observance paid to Zeus, king of kings, we advance along the hill-road to Corinth. Greece being now subjugated (for no resistance will be offered to our enormous host, we shall merely walk over), we get our troops on to the galleys, and the horses on to the transports (arrangements having been made at Cenchreae for the requisite number of vessels, with adequate provision and so on), cross the Aegean, and land in Ionia. Here we sacrifice to Artemis, and finding the various cities unfortified, take easy possession of them, put in governors, and march on in the direction of Syria. On the way we pass through Caria, Lycia, Pamphylia, Pisidia, the mountains and sea-board of Cilicia, and so at last reach the Euphrates.
Ly. If your Majesty has no objection, I will stay behind and be Pacha of Greece. I am a poor-spirited fellow; to go all that way from home is not to my liking at all. You evidently meditate an attack upon the Parthians and Armenians, warlike folk, and unerring shots. Let some one else have the right wing, and let me play Antipater here at home. Some arrow, from the walls of Susa or Bactra, might find a chink in my armour, and let daylight through me; and there would be a melancholy end of my strategic career.
Sa. Oh coward, to desert your post! The penalty for that is decapitation.--We are now at the Euphrates, and have thrown our bridge across. All is secured in our rear by the subordinates whom I have placed in charge of the various districts; officers have also been dispatched for the reduction of Phoenicia and Palestine, and, subsequently, of Egypt. Now, Lycinus, you cross first, with the right wing; I next, and Timolaus after me. Last comes Adimantus with the cavalry. We have now crossed Mesopotamia, and no enemy has yet shown himself; town after town has voluntarily given itself up; we reach Babylon; we enter its gates without warning, and the city is ours. The Persian king meanwhile is at Ctesiphon. He hears of our approach and withdraws to Seleucia, where he proceeds to muster his full strength of cavalry, bowmen, and slingers. Our scouts report that the force already collected numbers something like a million, including two hundred thousand mounted bowmen; and the Armenian, Caspian, and Bactrian contingents are still to come; only the neighbouring districts, the suburbs, as it were, of the empire, have contributed as yet. With such ease does the Persian monarch raise a million of men! It is now time for us to think what we are to do next.
Ad. Well, I say that you should all march for Ctesiphon, leaving me to secure Babylon with the cavalry.
Sa. Are you going to show the white feather too, Adimantus, now that the danger is near?--Timolaus, what is your advice?
Ti. We must march upon the enemy in full force, before they have had time to strengthen their hands with the reinforcements that are pouring in from all quarters; let us engage them whilst they are still making their several ways to Seleucia.
Sa. There is something in that. What do you recommend, Lycinus?
Ly Well, we have all been on our legs till we are tired out; there was the early walk down, and we must be a good three miles now on the way home; and the sun is extremely powerful--it is just about noon: how would it be to sit down for a bit on that ruined column under the olive trees, till we are sufficiently restored to complete the journey?
Sa. O sancta simplicitas! Did you think that you were at Athens all this time? You are in the plain before Babylon, in a great camp,--engaged in a council of war.
Ly. Why, so I am. I forgot; we are drunk, of course; it is against rules to talk sense.
Sa. Well, now, please, to the attack. Bear yourselves gallantly in this hour of danger: be not less than Greeks. See, the enemy are upon us. Our watchword is 'Lord of Battles.' The moment the trumpet sounds, raise the war-cry, clash spear upon shield, and lose no time in coming to close quarters, out of danger of their arrows; otherwise the bowmen will give us a warm reception. No sooner do we get to work than Timolaus with his left wing routs their right; in the centre the conflict is even; for I have the native Persian troops against me, and the king is in their midst. The whole strength of their cavalry bears down upon our right wing; play the man, therefore, Lycinus; and encourage your troops to receive the charge.
Ly. Just my luck! Every single trooper of them is making straight for me, as if I were the only foeman worthy of their steel. If they go on like this, I think I shall have to turn tail and make for the gymnasium, and leave you to fight it out.
Sa. Nonsense; you have almost beaten them already. Now, observe, the king challenges me to single combat; honour forbids that I should draw back; I accordingly engage him.
Ly. To be sure; and are promptly wounded. No king should omit to receive a wound, when empire is at stake.
Sa. Well, yes; I do get just a scratch; it is well out of sight, however, so the scar will be no disfigurement. On the other hand, observe the fury of my charge: I send my spear through horse and rider at one stroke; cut off the royal head; remove the diadem therefrom, and am saluted as king with universal prostrations. That applies only to the barbarians; from you who are Greeks I shall have merely the usual title of commander-in-chief. You may imagine the rest: the Samippopolises I shall found, the cities I shall storm and destroy for slighting my supremacy. The wealthy Cydias will come in for the largest share of my attention; I have not forgotten his gradual encroachments on my property, in the days when we were neighbours.
Ly. Stop there, Samippus; after such a victory, it is high time you retired to Babylon, to keep festival. Three-quarters of a mile is your allowance of dominion, as I reckon it. Timolaus now selects his wish.
Sa. Well, tell me what you think of mine?
Ly. It seems to me, most sapient monarch, to involve considerably more trouble and annoyance than that of Adimantus. While he lives luxuriously, and hands about gold cups--hundred-pounders--to his guests, you are sustaining wounds in single combat. From morning till night, all is worry and anxiety with you. You have not only the public enemies to fear: there are the numberless conspiracies, the envy and hatred of your courtiers; you have flatterers enough, but not one friend; their seeming goodwill is the work of fear or ambition. As to enjoyment, you can never dream of such a thing. You have to content yourself with glory and gold embroidery and purple; with the victor's garland, and the king's bodyguard; beyond these there is nothing but intolerable toil and continual discomfort.
You are either negotiating with ambassadors, or judging cases, or issuing mandates to your subjects. Here a tribe revolts: there an enemy invades. All is fear and suspicion. The world may think you happy; but you know better. And surely it is a very humiliating circumstance that you should be apt to fall ill, just like ordinary people? Fevers seem not to understand that you are a king; nor does Death stand in any awe of your bodyguard; when the fancy takes him, he comes, and carries you off lamenting; what cares he for the diadem? Fallen from your high estate, dragged from your kingly throne, you go the same road as the rest of us; there is no 'benefit of royalty' among the timid flock of shades. You leave behind you upon earth some massive tomb, some stately column, some pyramid of noble outline; but it will be too late then for vanity to enjoy these things; and the statues and temples, the offerings of obsequious cities, nay, your great name itself, all will presently decay, and vanish, and be of no further account. Take it at the best; let all endure for ages: what will it profit your senseless clay? And it is for this that you are to live uneasy days, ever scheming, fearing, toiling!--Timolaus, the wish is with you. We shall expect better things from your judgement and experience.
Ti. See if you can find anything questionable or reprehensible in what I propose. As to treasure-heaps and bushels of coin, I will have none of them; nor monarchy, with the wars and terrors it involves. You rightly censured such things, precarious as they are, exposed to endless machinations, and bringing with them more vexation than pleasure. No; my wish is that Hermes should appear and present me with certain rings. possessed of certain powers. One should ensure its wearer continual health and strength, invulnerability, insensibility to pain. Another, like that of Gyges, should make me invisible. A third should give me the strength to pick up with ease a weight that ten thousand men could barely move. Then I must be able to fly to any height above the earth; a ring for that, Again, I shall want to be able to put people to sleep upon occasion and at my approach all doors must immediately fly open; all bolts yield, all bars withdraw. One ring may secure these points. There remains yet one, the most precious of them all; for with it on my finger I am the desire of every woman and boy, ay, of whole nations; not one escapes me; I am in all hearts, on all tongues. Women will hang themselves for the vehemence of their passion, boys will go mad. Happy will those few be reckoned on whom I cast a glance; and those whom I scorn will pine away for grief. Hyacinth, Hylas, Phaon, will sink into insignificance beside me. And all this I hold on no brief tenure; the limitations of human life are not for me. I shall live a thousand years, ever renewing my youth, and casting off the slough of old age every time I get to seventeen.--With these rings I shall lack nothing. All that is another's is mine: for can I not open his doors, put his guards to sleep, and walk in unperceived? Instead of sending to India or to the Hyperboreans for their curiosities, their treasures, their wines or their delicacies, I can fly thither myself, and take my fill of all. The phoenix of India, the griffin, that winged monster, are sights unknown to others: I shall see them. I alone shall know the sources of the Nile, the lands that are uninhabited, the Antipodes, if such there be, dwelling on the other side of the earth. Nay, I may learn the nature of the stars, the moon, the sun itself; for fire cannot harm me. And think of the joy of announcing the Olympian victor's name in Babylon, on the day of the contest! or of having one's breakfast in Syria, and one's dinner in Italy! Had I an enemy, I could be even with him, thanks to my invisibility, by cracking his skull with a rock; my friends, on the other hand, I might subsidize with showers of gold as they lay asleep. Have we some overweening tyrant, who insults us with his wealth? I carry him off a couple of miles or so, and drop him over the nearest precipice. I could enjoy the company of my beloved without let or hindrance, going secretly in after I had put every one else in the house to sleep. What a thing it would be to hover overhead, out of range, and watch contending armies! If I liked, I could take the part of the vanquished, send their conquerors to sleep, rally the fugitives and give them the victory. In short, the affairs of humanity would be my diversion; all things would be in my power; mankind would account me a God. Here is the perfection of happiness, secure and indestructible, backed as it is by health and longevity. What faults have you to find, Lycinus?
Ly. None; it is not safe to thwart a man who has wings, and the strength of ten thousand. I have only one question to ask. Did you ever, among all the nations you passed in your flight, meet with a similar case of mental aberration? a man of mature years riding about on a finger-ring, moving whole mountains with a touch; bald and snub-nosed, yet the desire of all eyes? Ah, there was another point. What is to prevent one single ring from doing all the work? Why go about with your left hand loaded,--a ring to every finger? nay, they overflow; the right hand must be forced into the service. And you have left out the most important ring of all, the one to stop your drivelling at this absurd rate. Perhaps you consider that a stiffish dose of hellebore would serve the turn?
Ti. Now, positively, Lycinus, you must have a try yourself. You find fault with everybody else; this time we should like to hear your version of a really unexceptionable wish.
Ly. What do I want with a wish? Here we are at the gates. What with the valiant Samippus's single combat at Babylon, and your breakfasts in Syria and dinners in Italy, you have used up my ground between you; and you are heartily welcome.
I have no fancy for a short-lived visionary wealth, with the humiliating sequel of barley-bread and no butter. That will be your fate presently. Your bliss and your wealth will take wings; you will wake from your charming dreams of treasure and diadems, to find that your domestic arrangements are of quite another kind, like the actors who take the king's part in tragedies;--their late majesties King Agamemnon and King Creon usually return to very short commons on leaving the theatre. Some depression, some discontent at your existing arrangements, is to be expected on the occasion. You will be the worst off, Timolaus. Your flying-machine will come to grief, like that of Icarus; you will descend from the skies, and foot it on the ground; and all those rings will slip off and be lost. As for me, I am content with the exquisite amusement afforded me by your various wishes; I would not exchange it for all the treasure in the world, Babylon included. And you call yourselves philosophers!
DIALOGUES OF THE HETAERAE
Gly. Thais, that Acarnanian soldier, who used to be so fond of Abrotonum, and then fell in love with me--he was decorated, and wore a military cloak--do you know the man I mean? I suppose you have forgotten him?
Th. Oh no, dear, I know; why, he shared our table last harvest festival. Well? you look as if you had something to tell me about him.
Gly. That wicked Gorgona (such a friend of mine, to be sure!)--she has stolen him away from me.
Th. What! he has given you up, and taken her in your place?
Gly. Yes, dear; isn't it horrid of her?
Th. Well, Glycera darling, it is wicked, of course; but it is not very surprising; it is what all we poor girls do. You mustn't be too much vexed; I shouldn't blame her, if I were you; Abrotonum never blamed you about him, you know; and you were friends, too. But I cannot think what he finds in her; where are his eyes? has he never found out how thin her hair is? what a lot of forehead she shows! and her lips! all livid; they might be a dead woman's; and that scraggy neck, veined all over; and what an amount of nose! I grant you she is tall and straight; and she has quite a nice smile.
Gly. Oh, Thais, you don't think it was her looks caught him. Don't you know? her mother Chrysarium is a witch; she knows Thessalian charms, and can draw down the moon; they do say she flies o' nights. It was she bewitched him with drugs in his drink, and now they are making their harvest out of him.
Th. Ah well, dear, you will get a harvest out of some one else; never mind him.
Myrtium. Pamphilus. Doris
Myr. Well, Pamphilus? So I hear you are to marry Phido the shipmaster's daughter,--if you have not done so already! And this is the end of your vows and tears! All is over and forgotten! And I so near my time! Yes, that is all I have to thank my lover for; that, and the prospect of having a child to bring up; and you know what that means to us poor girls. I mean to keep the child, especially if it is a boy: it will be some comfort to me to call him after you; and perhaps some day you will be sorry, when he comes to reproach you for betraying his poor mother. I can't say much for the lady's looks. I saw her only the other day, with her mother, at the Thesmophoria; little did I know then that she was to rob me of my Pamphilus! Hadn't you better see what she is like first? Take a good look at her eyes; and try not to mind the colour, and the cast (she has such a squint!). Or no: there is no need for you to see her: you have seen Phido; you know what a face he has.
Pa. How much more nonsense are you going to talk about shipowners and marriages? What do I know about brides, ugly or pretty? If you mean Phido of Alopece, I never knew he had a grown-up daughter at all. Why, now I think of it, he is not even on speaking terms with my father. They were at law not long ago--something about a shipping contract. He owed my father a talent, I think it was, and refused to pay; so he was had up before the Admiralty Court, and my father never got paid in full, after all, so he said. Do you suppose if I wanted to marry I should pass over Demeas's daughter in favour of Phido's? Demeas was general last year, and she is my cousin on the mother's side. Who has been telling you all this? Is it just a cobweb spun in that jealous little brain of yours?
Myr. Pamphilus! You mean to say you are not going to be married?
Pa. Are you mad, or what is the matter with you? We did not have much to drink yesterday.
Myr. Ask Doris; it is all her fault. I sent her out to buy some wool, and to offer up prayer to Artemis for me. And she said that she met Lesbia, and Lesbia------Doris, tell him what Lesbia said, unless you invented it all yourself.
Dor. May I die, miss, if I said a word more than the truth! Just by the town-hall Lesbia met me, and 'Doris,' says she, smiling, 'your young gentleman is to marry Phido's daughter. And if you don't believe me,' says she, 'look up their street, and you will see everything crowned with garlands, and a fine bustle going on; flutes playing, and people singing the wedding-song'
Pa. Well; and you did?
Dor. That I did, sir; and it was all as Lesbia had said.
Pa. Ah, now I see! You have told your mistress nothing but the truth; and there was some ground for what Lesbia told you. However, it is a false alarm. The wedding is not at our house. I remember now. When I went back home yesterday, after leaving you, 'Pamphilus,' said my mother, here is neighbour Aristaenetus's son, Charmides, who is no older than you, just going to marry and settle down: when are you going to turn over a new leaf? ' And then I dropped off to sleep. I went out early this morning, so that I saw nothing of all that Doris has seen. If you doubt my word, Doris can go again; and look more carefully this time, Doris; mark the house, not the street only, and you will find that the garlands are next door.
Myr. I breathe again! Pamphilus, if it had been true, I should have killed myself!
Pa. True, indeed! Am I mad, that I should forget Myrtium, so soon to become the mother of my child?
Philinna. Her Mother
Mother. You must be mad, Philinna; what was the matter with you at the dinner last night? Diphilus was in tears this morning when he came and told me how he had been treated. You were tipsy, he said, and made an exhibition of yourself, dancing when he asked you not to; then you kissed his friend Lamprias, and when Diphilus did not like that, you left him and went and put your arms round Lamprias; and he choking with rage all the time. And afterwards you would not go near him, but let him cry by himself, and kept singing and teasing him.
Phi. Ah, mother, he never told you how he behaved; if you knew how rude he was, you would not take his part. He neglected me and made up to Thais, Lamprias's girl, before Lamprias came. I was angry, and let him see what I thought of him, and then he took hold of Thais's ear, bent her neck back and gave her--oh, such a kiss! I thought it would never end. So I began to cry; but he only laughed, and kept whispering to her--about me, of course; Thais was looking at me and smiling. However, when they heard Lamprias coming, and had had enough of each other at last, I did take my place by him all the same, not to give him an excuse for a fuss afterwards. It was Thais got up and danced first, showing her ankles ever so much, as if no one else had pretty ones. And when she stopped, Lamprias never said a word, but Diphilus praised her to the skies--such perfect time! such varied steps! foot and music always right; and what a lovely ankle! and so on, and so on; it might have been the Sosandra of Calamis he was complimenting, and not Thais; what she is really like, you know well enough. And how she insulted me, too! 'If some one is not ashamed of her spindle-shanks,' she said, 'she will get up and dance now.' Well, that is all, mammy; of course I did get up and dance. What was I to do? take it quietly and make her words seem true and let her be queen?
Mother. You are too touchy, my lass; you should have taken no notice. But go on.
Phi. Well, the others applauded, but Diphilus lay on his back and looked up at the ceiling, till I was tired and gave up. Mother. But what about kissing Lamprias? is that true?
And going across and embracing him? Well, why don't you speak? Those are things I cannot forgive.
Phi. I wanted to pay him out.
Mother. And then not sitting near him! singing while he was in tears! Think how poor we are, girl; you forget how much we have had from him, and what last winter would have been if Aphrodite had not sent him to us.
Phi. I dare say! and I am to let him outrage my feelings just for that?
Mother. Oh, be as angry as you like, but no tit for tat. You ought to know that if a lover's feelings are outraged his love ends, and he finds out his folly. You have always been too hard on the lad; pull too tight, and the rope breaks, you know.
Me. Bacchis, don't you know any of those old women--there are any number of them about, 'Thessalians,' they call them--they have incantations, you know, and they can make a man in love with you, no matter how much he hated you before? Do go and bring me one, there's a dear! I'd give the clothes off my back, jewellery and all, to see Charinus here again, and to have him hate Simiche as he hates me at this moment.
Ba. Melitta! You mean to tell me that Charinus has gone off after Simiche, and that after making his people so angry because he wouldn't marry the heiress, all for your sake? She was to have brought him five talents, so they said. I have not forgotten what you told me about that.
Me. Oh, that is all over now; I have not had a glimpse of him for the last five days. No; he and Simiche are with his friend Pammenes enjoying themselves.
Ba. Poor darling! But it can't have been a trifle that drove him away: what was it all about?
Me. I don't know exactly. All I can say is, that he came back the other day from Piraeus (his father had sent him there to collect some money), and wouldn't even look at me! I ran to meet him, expecting him to take me in his arms, instead of which he pushed me away! 'Go to Hermotimus the shipowner,' he said; 'go and read what is written on the column in the Ceramicus; you will find your name there, and his.' Hermotimus? column? what do you mean?' said I. But he would tell me nothing more; he went to bed without any dinner, and never gave me so much as a look. I tried everything: I lavished all my endearments on him, and did all I could to make him look at me. Nothing would soften him: all he said was, 'If you keep on bothering, I shall go away this minute, I don't care what time it is.'
Ba. But you did know Hermotimus, I suppose?
Me. My dear, if I ever so much as heard of a Hermotimus who was a ship-owner, may I be more wretched than I am now!--Next morning, at cock-crow, Charinus got up, and went off. I remembered his saying something about my name being written up in the Ceramicus, so I sent Acis to have a look; and all she found was just this, chalked up close by the Dipylus, on the right as you come in: Melitta loves Hermotimus; and again a little lower down: Hermotimus the ship-owner loves Melitta.
Ba. Ah, mischievous boys! I see what it is! Some one must have written it up to tease Charinus, knowing how jealous he is. And he took it all in at once! I must speak to him if I see him anywhere. He is a mere child, quite unsophisticated.
Me. If you see him, yes: but you are not likely to. He has shut himself up with Simiche; his people have been asking for him, they think he is here still. No, Bacchis, I want one of those old women; she would put all to rights.
Ba. Well, love, I know a capital witch; she comes from Syria, such a brisk, vigorous old thing! Once when Phanias had quarrelled with me in the same way, all about nothing, she brought us together again, after four whole months; I had quite given hire up, but her spells drew him back.
Me. What was her fee? do you remember
Ba. Oh, she was most reasonable: one drachma, and a loaf of bread. Then you have to provide salt, of course, and sulphur, and a torch, and seven pennies. And besides this, you must mix her a bowl of wine, which she has to drink all by herself; and then there must be something belonging to the man, his coat, or his shoes, or a lock of hair, or something.
Me. I have got his shoes.
Ba. She hangs them up on a peg, and fumigates them with the sulphur, throwing a little salt into the fire, and muttering both your names. Then she brings out her magic wheel, and spins it, and rattles off an incantation, such horrid, outlandish words! Well, she had scarcely finished, when; sure enough, in came Phanias; Phoebis (that was the girl he was with) had begged and implored him not to go, and his friends declared it was a shame; but the spell was too strong for them. Oh yes, and she taught me a splendid charm against Phoebis. I was to mark her footsteps, and rub out the last of them, putting my right foot into her left footprint, and my left into her right; and then I was to say: My foot on thy foot; I trample thee down! I did it exactly as she told me.
Me. Oh, Bacchis, dear, do be quick and fetch the witch. Acis, you see to the bread and sulphur and things.
Musarium. Her Mother
Mother. Well, child, if we get another gallant like Chaereas, we must make some offerings; the earthly Aphrodite shall have a white kid, the heavenly one in the Gardens a heifer, and our lady of windfalls a garland. How well off we shall be, positively rolling in wealth! You see how much this boy brings in; not an obol, not a dress, not a pair of shoes, not a box of ointment, has he ever given you; it is all professions and promises and distant prospects; always, if my father should-------, and I should inherit, everything would be yours. And according to you, he swears you shall be his wife.
Mu. Oh yes, mother, he swore it, by the two Goddesses (Demeter and Persephone) and Polias.
Mother. And you believe it, no doubt. So much so that the other day, when he had a subscription to pay and nothing to pay with, you gave him your ring without asking me, and the price of it went in drink. Another time it was the pair of Ionian necklaces that Praxias the Chian captain got made in Ephesus and brought you; two darics apiece they weighed; a club-dinner with the men of his year it was that time. As for shirts and linen, those are trifles not worth mention. A mighty catch he has been, to be sure!
Mu. He is so handsome with his smooth chin; and he loves me, and cries as he tells me so; and he is the son of Laches the Areopagite and Dinomache; and we shall be his real wife and mother-in-law, you know; we have great expectations, if only the old man would go to bye-bye.
Mother. So when we want shoes, and the shoemaker expects to be paid, we are to tell him we have no money, 'but take a few expectations.' And the baker the same. And on rent-day we shall ask the man to wait till Laches of Collytus is dead; he shall have it after the wedding. Well, I should be ashamed to be the only pretty girl that could not show an earring or a chain or a bit of lace.
Mu. Oh well, mother, are the rest of them happier or better-looking than I am?
Mother. No; but they have more sense; they know their business better than to pin their faith to the idle words of a boy with a mouthful of lover's oaths. But you go in for constancy and true love, and will have nothing to say to anybody but your Chaereas. There was that farmer from Acharnae the other day; his chin was smooth too; and he brought the two minae he had just got for his father's wine; but oh dear me no! you send him away with a sneer; none but your Adonis for you.
Mu. Mother, you could not expect me to desert Chaereas and let that nasty working-man (faugh!) come near me. Poor Chaereas! he is a pet and a duck.
Mother. Well, the Acharnian did smell rather of the farm. But there was Antiphon--son to Menecrates--and a whole mina; why not him? he is handsome, and a gentleman, and no older than Chaereas.
Mu. Ah, but Chaereas vowed he would cut both our throats if he caught me with him.
Mother. The first time such a thing was ever threatened, I suppose. So you will go without your lovers for this, and be as good a girl as if you were a priestess of Demeter instead of what you are. And if that were all!--but to-day is harvest festival; and where is his present?
Mu. Mammy dear, he has none to give.
Mother. They don't all find it so hard to get round their fathers; why can't he get a slave to wheedle him? why not tell his mother he will go off for a soldier if she doesn't let him have some money? instead of which he haunts and tyrannizes over us, neither giving himself nor letting us take from those who would. Do you expect to be eighteen all your life, Musarium? or that Chaereas will be of the same mind when he has his fortune, and his mother finds a marriage that will bring ' him another? You don't suppose he will remember tears and kisses and vows, with five talents of dowry to distract him
Mu. Oh yes, he will. They have done everything to make him marry now; and he wouldn't! that shows.
Mother. I only hope it shows true. I shall remind you of all this when the time comes.
Am. Well, but, Chrysis, I don't call a man in love at all, if he doesn't get jealous, and storm, and slap one, and clip one's hair, and tear one's clothes to pieces.
Ch. Is that the only way to tell?
Am. To tell a serious passion, yes. The kisses and tears and vows, the constant attendance,--all that only shows that he's beginning to be in love; it's still coming on. But the real flame is jealousy, pure and simple. So if Gorgias is jealous, and slaps you, as you say, you may hope for the best; pray that he may always go on as he has begun!
Ch. Go on slapping me?
Am. No, no; but getting angry if you ever look at any one else. If he were not in love with you, why should he mind your having another lover?
Ch. Oh, but I haven't! It's all a mistake! He took it into his head that old Moneybags had been paying me attentions, because I just happened to mention his name once.
Am. Well, that's very nice, too. You want him to think that there are rich men after you. It will make him all the more angry, and all the more liberal; he'll be afraid of being cut out by his rivals.
Ch. But Gorgias never gives me anything. He only storms and slaps.
Am. Oh, you wait. Nothing tames them like jealousy.
Ch. Ampelis, I believe you want me to be slapped!
Am. Nonsense! All I mean is this: if you want to make a man wildly in love with you, let him see that you can do without him. When he thinks that he has you all to himself, he is apt to cool down. You see I've had twenty years' experience: whereas you, I suppose, are about eighteen, perhaps not that. Come now; I'll tell you what happened to me, not so many years ago. Demophantus was my admirer in those days; the usurer, you know, at the back of the Poecile.
He had never given me more than five drachmae at a time, and he wanted to have everything his own way. The fact was, my dear, his love was only skin-deep. There were no sighs or tears with him; no knocking me up at unearthly hours; he would spend an evening with me now and then--very occasionally--and that was all. But one day when he called, I was 'not at home'; I had Callides the painter with me (he had given me ten drachmae).
Well, at the time Demophantus said some very rude things, and walked off. However, the days went by, and I never sent to him; and at last (finding that Callides had been with me again) even Demophantus began to catch fire, and to get into a passion about it; so one day he stood outside, and waited till he found the door open: my dear, I don't know what he didn't do! cried, beat me, vowed he would murder me, tore my clothes dreadfully! And it all ended with his giving me a talent; after which I saw no one else for eight months on end. His wife told everybody that I had bewitched him with some drug. ’Twas easy to see what the drug had been: jealousy. Now you should try the same drug upon Gorgias. The boy will have money, if anything happens to his father.
Dorcas. Pannychis. Philostratus. Polemon
Dor. Oh, miss, we are lost, lost! Here is Polemon back from the wars a rich man, they say. I saw him myself in a mantle with a purple border and a clasp, and a whole train of men at his back. His friends when they caught sight of him crowded round to get their greetings in. I made out in the train his man who went abroad with him. So I said How d’ye do, and then asked, 'Do tell me, Parmenon, how you got on; have you made anything to repay you for all your fighting?'
Pa. Ah, you should not have begun with that. Thanks to all the Gods you were not killed (you ought to have said), and most of all to Zeus who guards the stranger and Athene who rules the battle! My mistress was always trying to find out how you were doing and where you were. And if you had added that she was always weeping and talking of Polemon, that would have been still better.
Dor. Oh, I said all that right at the beginning; but I never thought of telling you that; I wanted to get on to the news. This was how I began to Parmenon: 'Did you and your master's ears burn, Parmenon?' I said; 'mistress was always talking of him and crying; and when any one came back from the last battle and reported that many had been killed, she would tear her hair and beat her breast, and grieve so every time! '
Pa. Ah, that was right, Dorcas.
Dor. And then after a little while I went on to the other questions. And he said, 'Oh, yes, we have come back great men.'
Pa. What, straight off like that? never a word of how Polemon had talked or thought of me, or prayed he might find me alive?
Dor. Yes, he said a good deal of that. But his real news was enormous riches--gold, raiment, slaves, ivory. As for the money, they didn't count it, but measured it by the bushel, and it took some time that way. On Parmenon's own finger was a huge queer-shaped ring with one of those three-coloured stones, the outer part red. I left him when he wanted to give me the history of how they crossed the Halys and killed somebody called Tiridates, and how Polemon distinguished himself in the battle with the Pisidians. I ran off to tell you, and give you time to think. Suppose Polemon were to come--and you may be sure he will, as soon as he has got rid of his company--and find when he asked after you that Philostratus was here; what would he do?
Pa. Oh, Dorcas, we must find some way out of it. It would be shabby to send Philostratus about his business so soon after having that talent from him; and he is a merchant, and if he keeps all his promises-------. And on the other hand, it is a pity not to be at home to Polemon now he is come back such a great man; besides, he is so jealous; when he was poor, there was no getting on with him for it; and what will he be like now?
Dor. Here he comes.
Pa. Oh, Dorcas, what am I to do? I shall faint; how I tremble!
Dor. Why, here is Philostratus too.
Pa. Oh, what will become of me? oh that the earth would swallow me up!
Phi. Well, my dear, where is that wine?
Pa. (Now he has gone and done it!) Ah, Polemon, so you are back at last; are you well?
Po. Who is this person coming to you? What, no answer? Oh, mighty fine, Pannychis! Here have I come on the wings of love--the whole way from Thermopylae in five days; and all for a woman like this! But I deserve it; I ought to be grateful; I shall not be plundered any more, that is something.
Phi. And who may you be, good sir?
Po. Polemon, deme Stiria, tribe Pandionis; will that do for you? late colonel, now general of division, and Pannychis's lover, so long as he supposed a mere man was good enough for her.
Phi. At present, however, sir free-lance, Pannychis is mine. She has had one talent, and will have another as soon as my cargoes are disposed of. Come along, Pannychis; the colonel can keep his colonelling for the Odrysians.
Dor. She is a free woman; it is for her to say whether she will come along or not.
Pa. What shall I do, Dorcas?
Dor. Better go in; Polemon is too angry to talk to now, and a little jealousy will only whet his appetite.
Pa. Well, if you think so, let us go in.
Po. I give you both fair warning that you drink your last drink to-day; I ought to know by this time how to part soul from body. Parmenon, the Thracians. Full armour, battle array, this alley blocked. Pikemen in the centre, slingers and archers on the flanks, and the remainder in the rear.
Phi. You take us for babies, Mr. Mercenary, to judge from your appeal to our imaginations. Now I wonder whether you ever shed as much blood as runs in a cock's veins, or ever looked on war; to stretch a point in your favour, I dare say you may have been corporal in charge of a bit of wall somewhere.
Po. You will know ere long, when you look upon our serried ranks of glittering steel.
Phi. Oh, pack up your traps and come, by all means. I and my Tibius--I have only one man, you see--will scatter you so wide with a few stones and bricks that you shall never find one another again.
Try. Well, to be sure! Get a girl to keep company with you, and then turn your back on her! Nothing but tears and groans! The wine was not good enough, I suppose, and you didn't want a tête-à-tête dinner. Oh yes, I saw you were crying at dinner too. And now it is one continued wail like a baby's. What is it all about, Charmides? do tell me; let me get that much out of my evening with you.
Ch. Love is killing me, Tryphaena; I can stand it no longer.
Try. It is not love for me, that is clear. You would not be so cold to me, and push me away when I want to put my arms round you. It really is not fair to keep me off like this! Never mind, tell me who it is; perhaps I may help you to her; I know one ought to make oneself useful.
Ch. Oh, you two know each other quite well; she is quite a celebrity.
Try. Name, name, Charmides!
Ch. Well then--Philematium.
Try. Which? there are two of them; one in Piraeus, who has only just come there; Damyllus the governor's son is in love with her; is it that one? or the other, the one they call The Trap?
Ch. Yes, that is she; she has caught me and got me tight, poor mouse.
Try. And the tears were all for her?
Ch. Even so.
Try. Is this recent? or how long has it been going on?
Ch. Oh, it is nothing new. I saw her first at the Dionysia; that makes seven months.
Try. Had you a full view of her, or did you just see her face and as much as a woman of forty-five likes to show?
Ch. Oh, come! I have her word for it she will be two-and-twenty next birthday.
Try. Well, which are you going to trust--her word, or your own eyes? Just take a careful look at her temples some day; that is the only place where her own hair shows; all the rest is a thick wig; but at the temples, when the dye fades a little, you can easily detect the grey. But that is nothing; insist on seeing more than her face.
Ch. Oh, but I am not favoured so far as that.
Try. No, I should think not. She knows what the effect would be; why, she is all over--oh, talk of leopard-skins! And it was she made you cry like that, was it? I dare say, now, she was very cruel and scornful?
Ch. Yes, she was, dear; and such a lot of money as she has from me! Just now she wants a thousand drachmas; well, I am dependent on my father, and he is very close, and I could not very well get it; so she is at home to Moschion, and will not see me. That is why you are here; I thought it might vex her.
Try. Well, I'm sure I never never would have come if I had been told what it was for--just to vex somebody else, and that somebody old coffin-ripe Philematium! I shall go away; for that matter the third cock-crow is past.
Ch. No, no, not so fast, Tryphaena. If it is all true--the wig, the dye, and the leopard-skin--I shall hate the sight of her.
Try. If your mother has ever seen her at the bath, ask her. As to the age, you had better ask your grandfather about that, if he is alive.
Ch. Well, as that is what she is like, come up close to me. Give me your arms--and your lips--and let us be friends. Philematium be hanged!
Joessa. Pythias. Lysias
Jo. Cross boy! But I deserve it all! I ought to have treated you as any other girl would do,--bothered you for money, and been engaged when you called, and made you cheat your father or rob your mother to get presents for me; instead of which, I have always let you in from the very first time, and it has never cost you a penny, Lysias. Think of all the lovers I have sent away: Ethocles, now a Chairman of Committees, and Pasion the shipowner, and young Melissus, who had just come into all his father's money. I would not have a word to say to one of them; I kept myself for you, hard-hearted Phaon that you are! I was fool enough to believe all your vows, and have been living like a Penelope for your sake; mother is furious about it, and is always talking at me to her friends. And now that you feel sure of me, and know how I dote on you, what is the consequence? You flirt with Lycaena under my very eyes, just to vex me; you sit next to me at dinner, and pay compliments to Magidium, a mere music-girl, and hurt my feelings, and make me cry. And that wine-party the other day, with Thraso and Diphilus, when Cymbalium the flute-girl was there, and Pyrallis: you know how I hate that girl: as for Cymbalium, whom you kissed no less than five times, I didn't mind so much about that,--it must have been sufficient punishment in itself:--but the way in which you were always making signs to Pyrallis to notice your cup, and whispering to the boy, when you gave it back to him, that he was not to fill it for any one but Pyrallis! and that piece of apple that you bit off and shot across right into her lap, when you saw that Diphilus was occupied with Thraso,--you never even tried to conceal it from me! and she kissed it, and hid it away beneath her girdle. What is the meaning of it all? What have I ever done to you? Did I ever displease you? ever look at any other man? Do I not live for you alone? A brave thing, is it not, Lysias, to vex a poor weak woman who loves you to distraction!
There is a Nemesis who watches such deeds. You will be sorry some day, perhaps, when you hear of my hanging myself, or jumping head first into a well; for die I will, one way or another, rather than live to be an eyesore to you. There will be an achievement for you to boast of! You need not look at me like that, nor gnash your teeth: if you have anything to say against me, here is Pythias; let her judge between us. Oh, you are going away without a word?--You see what I have to put up with, Pythias!
Py. Monster! He cares nothing for her tears. He must be made of stone instead of flesh and blood. But the truth is, my dear, you have spoilt him, by letting him see how fond you are of him. It is a great mistake to make so much of them; they get uppish. Don't cry, dear: take my advice, and shut him out once or twice; it will be his turn to dote on you then.
Jo. Shut him out? Don't breathe a word of such a thing! I only wish he would wait till I turned him out!
Py. Why, here he is back again.
Jo. Pythias! What have you done? If he should have overheard that about shutting him out!
Ly. I am coming back on your account, Pythias, not on hers; I will never look at her again, after what she has done: but I don't want you to think badly of me; it shall not be said that Lysias was hard-hearted.
Py. Exactly what I was saying.
Ly. But what would you have me do? This girl, who is so tearful now, has been disloyal to me, and received another lover; I actually found them together!
Py. Well, after all------. But when did you make this discovery?
Ly. It must have been something like five days ago; yes, it was, because it was on the second, and to-day is the seventh. My father had found out about this precious Joessa, and how long it had been going on, and he locked me in, and gave the porter orders not to open to me. Well, I wasn't going to be kept away from her, so I told Dromo to slip along the courtyard to the lowest part of the wall, and then let me mount on his back; I knew I could easily get over that way. To make a long story short, I got out, and came here. It was midnight, and I found the door carefully barred. Instead of knocking, I quietly lifted the door off its hinges (it was not the first time I had done so) and passed noiselessly in. Every one was asleep. I groped my way along the wall, and stopped at the bedside.
Jo. Good Heavens! What is coming? I am in torment!
Ly. I perceived from the breathing that there was more than one person there, and thought at first that Lyde must be sleeping with her. Pythias, I was mistaken! My hands passed over a smooth, beardless man's face; the fellow was close-cropped, and reeked of scent like any woman. I had not brought my sword with me, or you may be sure I should have known what to do with it--What are you both laughing at? Is it so amusing, Pythias?
Jo. Oh, Lysias! is that all? Why, it was Pythias who was sleeping with me!
Py. Joessa, don't tell him!
Jo. Why not? Lysias, dear, it was Pythias; I had asked her to come and sleep with me; I was so lonely without you.
Ly. Pythias? Then her hair has grown pretty fast in five days.
Jo. She has been ill, and her hair was falling off, and she had to have it cropped. And now she has got false hair. Pythias, show him that it is so. Behold your rival, Lysias! this is the young gentleman of whom you were jealous.
Ly. And what lover would not have been jealous? I had the evidence of my hands, remember.
Jo. Well, you know better now. Suppose I were to return you evil for evil? What should you say to that? It is my turn to be angry with you now.
Ly. No, you mustn't be angry. We will have some wine, and Pythias must join us; the truce cannot be ratified without her.
Jo. Of course not. A pretty scrape you have led me into, Pythias, you nice young man!
Py. The nice young man has led you out of it again too, so you must forgive him. I say, Lysias, you need not tell any one--about my hair, you know.
Leontichus. Chenidas. Hymnis
Le. And then that battle with the Galatians; tell her about that, Chenidas--how I rode out in front on the grey, and the Galatians (brave fellows, those Galatians, too)--but they ran away directly they saw me; not a man stood his ground. That time, you know, I used my lance for a javelin, and sent it through their captain and his horse as well; and then, as some of them were left--the phalanx was broken up, you see, but a certain number had rallied--well, I pulled out my trusty blade, rode at them as hard as I could go, knocked over half a dozen of the front rank with the mere rush of my horse, brought down my sword on one of the officers, and clove his head in two halves, helmet and all. The rest of you came up shortly, you remember, when they were already running.
Che. Oh, but that duel of yours with the satrap in Paphlagonia! that was a fine display, too.
Le. Well remembered; yes, that was not so bad, either. A great big fellow that satrap was, supposed to be a champion fighter too--thought nothing of Greek science. Out he came, and challenged all corners to single combat. There was consternation among our officers, from the lowest to the general himself--though he was a pretty good man. Aristaechmus the Aetolian he was--very strong on the javelin; I was only a colonel then. However, I was not afraid. I shook off the friends who clung to me--they were anxious about me when they saw the barbarian resplendent in his gilded armour, towering high with his terrible plume and brandishing his lance--
Che. Yes, I was afraid that time; you remember how I clung to you and besought you not to sacrifice yourself; life would not have been worth living, if you had fallen.
Le. I ventured it, though. Out I went, as well armed as the Paphlagonian, all gold like him. What a shout there was on both sides! the barbarians recognized me too; they knew my buckler and medals and plume. Who was it they all compared me to, Chenidas?
Che. Why, who should it be? Achilles, of course; the son of Peleus and Thetis, of course. Your helmet was so magnificent, your purple so rich, your buckler so dazzling.
Le. We met. The barbarian drew first blood--just a scratch with his lance a little above the knee; but my great spear drove through his shield and right into the breast-bone. Then I ran up, just sliced his head off with my sword, and came back carrying his arms, the head spiked on my spear dripping gore upon me.
Hym. How horrid, Leontichus! what disgusting frightful tales you tell about yourself! What girl would look at a man who likes such nastiness--let alone drink or sleep with him? I am going away.
Le. Pooh! I double your pay.
Hym. No, nothing shall induce me to sleep with a murderer.
Le. Don't be afraid, my dear. All that was in Paphlagonia. I am a man of peace now.
Hym. No, you are unclean; the blood of the barbarian's head on the spear has dripped over you! I embrace and kiss a man like that? the Graces forbid! he is no better than the executioner.
Le. I am certain you would be in love with me if you had seen me in my armour.
Hym. I tell you it makes me sick and frightened even to hear of such things; I see the shades and ghosts of the slain; that poor officer with his head cloven! what would it be if I saw the thing done, and the blood, and the bodies lying there? I am sure I should die; I never saw a chicken killed, even.
Le. Such a coward, girl? so poor of heart? I thought you would like to hear it.
Hym. Well, try the Lemnian women, or the daughters of Danaus, if you want to please with that sort of tale. I shall run home to my mother, while there is some daylight left. Come along, Grammis. Good-bye, mightiest of colonels, and murderer of however many it is!
Le. Stay, girl, stay.--Why, she is gone!
Che. Well, Leontichus, you frightened the simple little thing with your nodding plumes and your incredible exploits. I saw her getting pale as far back as the officer story; her face was all puckered up and quivering when you split his head.
Le. I thought it would make me more attractive. Well, but it was your fault too; you started the duel.
Che. Well, I had to chime in when I saw what you were bragging for. But you laid it on so thick. Pass the cutting off the wretched Paphlagonian's head, what did you want to spike it on a spear for, and let the blood run down on you?
Le. That was a bit too strong, I admit; the rest was rather well put together. Well, go and persuade her to come back.
Che. Shall I tell her you lied to make her think you a fine fellow?
Le. Oh, plague upon it!
Che. It 's the only way. Choose--a mighty champion, and loathed, or a confessed liar, and--Hymnis?
Le. Bad is the best; but I say Hymnis. Go to her, then, Chenidas, and say I lied--in parts.
Do. So, Myrtale! You ruin me first, and then close your doors on me! It was another tale when I brought you all those presents: I was your love, then; your lord, your life. But you have squeezed me dry now, and have got hold of that Bithynian merchant; so I am left to whimper on the wrong side of the door, while he, the favoured lover, enjoys your embraces, and is to become a father soon, so you tell him.
Myr. Come, Dorion, that is too much! Ruined you, indeed! A lot you ever gave me! Let us go through the list of your presents, from the very beginning.
Do. Very well; let us. First, a pair of shoes from Sicyon, two drachmae. Remember two drachmae.
Myr. Ah, but you were here for two nights.
Do. A box of Phoenician ointment, when I came back from Syria; the box of alabaster. The same price, as I'm a seaman!
Myr. Well, and when you sailed again, didn't I give you that waistcoat, that you might have something to wear when you were rowing? It was Epiurus the boatswain's, that waistcoat; he left it here one night by mistake.
Do. Epiurus recognized it, and took it away from me in Samos, only the other day; and a rare tussle we had before he got it. Then there were those onions I brought you from Cyprus, and five haddocks and four perch, the time we came back from the Bosphorus. Oh, and a whole basket of ship's bread--eight loaves of it; and a jar of figs from Caria. Another time it was a pair of slippers from Patara, gilded ones, you ungrateful girl! Ah, and I was forgetting that great cheese from Gythium.
Myr. Say five drachmae the lot.
Do. It was all that my pay would run to, Myrtale; I was but a common seaman in those days. I have risen to be mate now, my haughty miss. And didn't I put down a solid drachma for you at the feet of Aphrodite's statue, when it was her feast the other day? Then I gave your mother two drachmae to buy shoes with; and Lyde there,--many is the copper I have slipped into her hand, by twos and threes. Put all that together, and it makes a seaman's fortune.
Myr. Onions and haddocks.
Do. Yes; ’twas all I had; if I were rich, I should not be a sailor. I have never brought my own mother so much as a head of garlic. I should like to know what sort of presents the Bithynian makes you?
Myr. Look at this dress: he bought it me; and this necklace, the thick one.
Do. Pooh, you have had that for years.
Myr. No, the one you knew was much lighter, and it had no emeralds. My earrings were a present of his too, and so was that rug; and he gave me two minae the other day, besides paying our rent. Rather different from Patara slippers, and Gythium cheeses and stuff!
Do. And how do you like him for a lover? you say nothing about that. He is fifty years old if he is a day; his hair is all gone in front, and he has the complexion of a lobster. Did you ever notice his teeth? And so accomplished too! it is a treat to hear him when he sings and tries to make himself agreeable; what is it they tell me about an ass that would learn the lyre? Well, I wish you joy of him; you deserve no better luck; and may the child be like his father! As for me, I'll find some Delphis or Cymbalium that's more in my line; your neighbour, perhaps, the flute-girl; anyhow, I shall get some one. We can't all afford necklaces and rugs and two minae presents.
Myr. How I envy the lucky girl who gets you, Dorion! What onions she will have from Cyprus! what cheeses next time you come from Gythium!
Co. Crying, Parthenis! what is it? how do your pipes come to be broken?
Par. Oh! oh! I have been beaten by Crocale's lover--that tall Aetolian soldier; he found me playing at Crocale's, hired by his rival Gorgus. He broke in while they were at dinner, smashed my pipes, upset the table, and emptied out the wine-bowl. Gorgus (the country fellow, you know) he pulled out of the dining-room by the hair of his head, and the two of them, Dinomachus (I think they call him) and a fellow soldier, stood over thumping him. Oh, Cochlis, I doubt whether he will live; there was a great rush of blood from his nostrils, and his face is all swollen and livid.
Co. Is the man mad? or was it just a drunken freak?
Par. All jealousy, my dear--love run wild. Crocale had asked two talents, I believe, if Dinomachus wanted her all to himself. He refused; so she shut the door in his face, I was told, and would not let him in at all. Instead of him she took Gorgus of Oenoë, a well-to-do farmer and a nice man; they were drinking together, and she had got me in to play the pipes. Well, the wine was going, I was striking up one of those Lydian tunes, the farmer standing up to dance, Crocale clapping, and all as merry as could be. Suddenly there was a noise and a shout, crash went the front door, and a moment after in burst eight great strong men, that brute among them. Everything was upside down directly, Gorgus on the ground, as I told you, being thumped and kicked. Crocale got away somehow and took refuge with Thespias next door. Dinomachus boxed my ears, and 'Go to blazes!' he said, throwing me the broken pipes. I am running to tell master about it now. And the farmer is going to find some of his friends in town and get the brute summonsed in the police-court.
Co. Yes, bruises and the courts--that is all we get out of the military. They tell you they are generals and colonels, and then when it comes to paying, 'Oh, wait for settling day,' they say; 'then I shall get my pay, and put everything right.' I wish they were all dead, they and their bragging. But I never have anything to do with them; it is the best way. Give me a fisherman or a sailor or farmer no better than myself, with few compliments and plenty of money. These plume-tossing word-warriors! they are nothing but noise, Parthenis.
THE DEATH OF PEREGRINE
LUCIAN to CRONIUS. Greeting.
Poor dear Peregrine--or Proteus, as he loved to call himself,--has quite come up to his namesake in Homer. We have seen him under many shapes: countless have been his transformations for glory's sake; and now--’tis his last appearance--we see him in the shape of fire. So vast was his ambition. Yes, Cronius; all that is left of the best of men is a handful of ashes. It's just like Empedocles; only with a difference. That philosopher would fain have sneaked into his crater unobserved: not so our high-souled friend. He bides his time till all Greece is mustered in full force--constructs a pyre of the largest dimensions--and jumps on top in the eyes of all the world, having briefly addressed the nation a few days before on the subject of his daring enterprise! I fancy I see you chuckling away at the old dotard; or rather I hear you blurting out the inevitable comments--' Mere imbecility Mere clap-trap'--Mere . . .' everything else that we are accustomed to attribute to these gentry. But then you are far enough off to be comparatively safe: now I made my remarks before a vast audience, in the very moment of cremation (and before it for that matter), exciting thereby the indignation of all the old fool's admirers, though there were a few who joined in the laugh against him. I can tell you, I was within an ace of being torn limb from limb by the Cynics, like Actaeon among the dogs, or his cousin Pentheus among the Maenads.--But I must sketch you the whole drama in detail. As to our author, I say nothing: you know the man, you know the sublime utterances that marked his earthly course, outvoicing Sophocles and Aeschylus.
Well, the first thing I did when I got to Elis was to take a turn in the gymnasium, listening the while to the discordant yells of some Cynic or other;--the usual platitudes, you know;--ringing commendations of Virtue--indiscriminate slaughter of characters--finally, a peroration on the subject of Proteus. I must try and give you the exact words, as far as I can remember them; you will recognize the true Cynic yell, I'll be bound; you have heard it before.
'Proteus,' he cried, 'Proteus vain-glorious? Who dares name the word? Earth! Sun! Seas! Rivers! God of our fathers, Heracles! Was it for this that he suffered bondage in Syria? that he forgave his country a debt of a million odd? that he was cast out of Rome,--he whose brilliance exceeds the Sun, fit rival of the Lord of Olympus? ’Tis his good will to depart from life by fire, and they call it vain-glory! What other end had Heracles? ’Twas the thunderbolt, methinks, that slew Asclepius, Dionysus 1? ’Twas in the crater that Empedocles sought death?'
Theagenes (our friend with the lungs) had got thus far, when I asked one of the bystanders what all this meant about 'fire,' and what Heracles and Empedocles had got to do with Proteus?--'Proteus,' he replied, 'will shortly cremate himself, at the Olympic games.'--'But how,' I asked, 'and why?' He did his best to explain, but the Cynic went on bawling, and it was quite out of the question to attend to anything else. I waited on to the end. It was one torrent of wild panegyric on Proteus. The sage of Sinope, Antisthenes his master,--nay, Socrates himself--none of them were so much as to be compared with him. Zeus was invited to contend for the preeminence. Subsequently however it seemed advisable to leave the two on some sort of equality. 'The world,' he cried in conclusion, 'has seen but two works of surpassing excellence, the Olympian Zeus, and--Proteus. The one we owe to the creative genius of Phidias; the other is Nature's handiwork. And now, this godlike statue departs from among mankind; borne upon wings of fire, he seeks the heavens, and leaves us desolate.' He had worked himself up into a state of perspiration over all this; and when it was over he was very absurd, and cried, and tore his hair,--taking care not to pull too hard; and was finally taken away by some compassionate Cynics, sobbing violently all the time.
Well, after him, up jumped somebody else, before the crowd had time to disperse; pouring his libation upon the glowing embers of the previous sacrifice. He commenced operations with a loud guffaw--there was no doubting its sincerity--after which he addressed us as follows. 'Theagenes (Heaven forgive him!) concluded his vile rant with the tears of Heraclitus: I, on the other hand, propose to begin with the laughs of Democritus.' Another hearty guffaw, in which most of us were fain to join. 'One simply can't help it,' he remarked, pulling himself together, 'when one hears such sad stuff talked, and sees old men practically standing on their heads for the public amusement,--and all to keep their grubby little reputations alive! Now, if you want to know all about this " statue " which proposes to cremate itself, I'm your man. I have marked his career from the first, and followed his intellectual development; and I learnt a good deal from his fellow citizens, and others whose authority was unquestionable.
'To begin then, this piece of perfect workmanship, straight from Nature's mould, this type of true proportion, had barely come of age, when he was caught in adultery; in Armenia this was; he received a brisk drubbing for his pains, and finally made a jump of it from the roof, and so got off. His next exploit was the corruption of a handsome boy. This would have brought him before the Governor, by rights; but the parents were poor, and he bought them off to the tune of a hundred and twenty pounds. But perhaps it is hardly worth while mentioning trifles of this kind. Our clay, you see, is yet unwrought: the "perfect workmanship" is still to come. That business about his father makes rather good hearing: only you know all about that;--how the old fellow would hang on, though he was past sixty already, till Proteus could stand it no longer, and put a noose about his neck. Well, this began to be talked about; so he passed sentence of banishment on himself, and wandered about from place to place.
It was now that he came across the priests and scribes of the Christians, in Palestine, and picked up their queer creed. I can tell you, he pretty soon convinced them of his superiority; prophet, elder, ruler of the Synagogue--he was everything at once; expounded their books, commented on them, wrote books himself. They took him for a God, accepted his laws, and declared him their president. The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day,--the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. Well, the end of it was that Proteus was arrested and thrown into prison. This was the very thing to lend an air to his favourite arts of clap-trap and wonder-working; he was now a made man.
The Christians took it all very seriously: he was no sooner in prison, than they began trying every means to get him out again,--but without success. Everything else that could be done for him they most devoutly did. They thought of nothing else. Orphans and ancient widows might be seen hanging about the prison from break of day. Their officials bribed the gaolers to let them sleep inside with him. Elegant dinners were conveyed in; their sacred writings were read; and our old friend Peregrine (as he was still called in those days) became for them "the modern Socrates." In some of the Asiatic cities, too, the Christian communities put themselves to the expense of sending deputations, with offers of sympathy, assistance, and legal advice. The activity of these people, in dealing with any matter that affects their community, is something extraordinary; they spare no trouble, no expense. Peregrine, all this time, was making quite an income on the strength of his bondage; money came pouring in. You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on trust, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property. Now an adroit, unscrupulous fellow, who has seen the world, has only to get among these simple souls, and his fortune is pretty soon made; he plays with them.
'To return, however, to Peregrine. The governor of Syria perceived his mental warp: "he must make a name, though he die for it:" now philosophy was the governor's hobby; he discharged him--wouldn't hear of his being punished--and Peregrine returned to Armenia. He found it too hot to hold him. He was threatened from all quarters with prosecutions for parricide. Then again, the greater part of his property had disappeared in his absence: nothing was left but the land, which might be worth a matter of four thousand pounds. The whole estate, as the old man left it, would come perhaps to eight thousand. Theagenes was talking nonsense when he said a million odd. Why, the whole city, with its five nearest neighbours thrown in, men, cattle, and goods of every description, would never fetch that sum.--Meanwhile, indictments and accusations were brewing: an attack might be looked for at any moment: as for the common people, they were in a state of furious indignation and grief at the foul butchery of a harmless old man; for so he was described. In these trying circumstances, observe the ingenuity and resource of the sagacious Proteus. He makes his appearance in the assembly: his hair (even in these early days) is long, his cloak is shabby; at his side is slung the philosopher's wallet, his hand grasps the philosopher's staff; truly a tragic figure, every inch of him. Thus equipped, he presents himself before the public, with the announcement that the property left him by his father of blessed memory is entirely at their disposal! Being a needy folk, with a keen eye to charity, they received the information with ready applause: "Here is true philosophy; true patriotism; the spirit of Diogenes and Crates is here!" As for his enemies, they were dumb; and if any one did venture an allusion to parricide, he was promptly stoned.
'Proteus now set out again on his wanderings. The Christians were meat and drink to him; under their protection he lacked nothing, and this luxurious state of things went on for some time. At last he got into trouble even with them; I suppose they caught him partaking of some of their forbidden meats. They would have nothing more to do with him, and he thought the best way out of his difficulties would be, to change his mind about that property, and try and get it back. He accordingly sent in a petition to the emperor, suing for its restitution. But as the people of Parium sent up a deputation to remonstrate, nothing came of it all; he was told that as he had been under no compulsion in making his dispositions, he must abide by them.
'Pilgrimage number three, to Egypt, to see Agathobulus. Here he went through a most interesting course of discipline: shaved half his head bare; anointed his face with mud; grossly exposed himself before a large concourse of spectators, as a practical illustration of "Stoic indifference"; received castigation with a birch rod; administered the same; and mystified the public with a number of still more extravagant follies. Thus prepared, he took ship to Italy, and was scarcely on dry land again when he began abusing everybody, especially the Emperor, on whose indulgence and good nature he knew that he could safely rely. The Emperor, as you may suppose, was not greatly concerned at his invectives; and it was his theory that no one in the garb of philosophy should be called to account for his words, least of all a specialist in scandal. Proteus's reputation throve upon neglect. The crack-brained philosopher became the cynosure of unsophisticated eyes; and he grew at last to be so unbearable that the city prefect judiciously expelled him: "we do not require philosophers of your school," he explained. Even this made for his notoriety: he was in every one's mouth as the philosopher who was banished for being too outspoken, and saying what he thought. He took rank with Musonius, Dion, Epictetus, and others who have been in the same predicament.
'Finally, Proteus arrives in Greece; and what does he do there? He makes himself offensive in Elis; he instigates Greece to revolt against Rome; he finds a man of enlarged views and established character 1, a public benefactor in general, and in particular the originator of the water-supply to Olympia, which saved that great assembly from perishing of thirst--and he has nothing but hard words for him; "Greece is demoralized," he cries; "the spectators of the games should have done without water, ay, and died if need be,"--and so many of them would have done, from the violence of the epidemics then raging in consequence of the drought. And all the time Proteus was drinking of that very water! At this there was a general rush to stone him, which pretty nearly succeeded; it was all our magnanimous friend could do, for the time being, to find salvation at the altar of Zeus.
He spent the four following years in composing a speech, which he delivered in public at the next Olympic games; it consisted of encomiums on the donor of the water-supply and explanations of his flight on the former occasion. But by this time people had lost all curiosity about him; his prestige was quite gone; everything fell flat, and he could devise no more novelties for the amazement of chance-comers, nor elicit the admiration and applause for which he had always so passionately longed. Hence this last bold venture of the funeral-pyre. So long ago as the last Olympic Games he published his intention of cremating himself at the next. That is what all this mystification is about, this digging of pits we hear of, and collecting of firewood; these glowing accounts of fortitude hereafter to be shown.
Now, in the first place, it seems to me that a man has no business to run away from life: he ought to wait till his time comes. But if nothing else will serve, if positively he must away still there is no need of pyres and such-like solemn paraphernalia: there are plenty of ways of dying without this; let him choose one of them, and have done with it. Or if a fiery end is so attractively Heraclean, what was to prevent his quietly selecting some well-wooded mountain top, and doing his cremation all by himself, with Theagenes or somebody to play Philoctetes to his Heracles? But no; he must roast in full concourse, at Olympia, as it might be on a stage; and, so help me Heracles, he is not far out, if justice is to be done on all parricides and unbelievers. Nay, if we look at it that way, this is but dilatory work: he might have been packed into Phalaris's bull years ago, and he would have had no more than his deserts,--a mouthful of flame and sudden death is too good for him. For by all I can learn burning is the quickest of deaths; a man has but to open his mouth, and all is over.
But I suppose what runs in his mind is the imposing spectacle of a man being burnt alive in the holy place, in which ordinary mortality may not so much as be buried. There was another man, once on a time, who wanted to be famous. I dare say you have heard of him. When he found there was no other way, he set fire to the temple of Artemis at Ephesus.
Proteus's design reminds me of that. The passion for fame must wholly possess him, body and soul. He says, of course, that it is all for the benefit of the human race,--to teach them to scorn death, and to show fortitude in trying circumstances. Now I should just like to ask you a question; it is no use asking him. How would you like it, if the criminal classes were to profit by his lesson in fortitude, and learn to scorn death, and burning, and so on? You would not like it at all. Then how is Proteus going to draw the line? How is he going to improve the honest men, without hardening and encouraging the rogues? Suppose it even to be practicable that none should be present at the spectacle but such as will make a good use of it. Again I ask: do you want your sons to conceive an ambition of this sort? Of course not.
However, I need not have raised that point: not a soul, even among his own disciples, will be caught by his enthusiasm. That is where I think Theagenes is so much to blame: in all else he is a zealous adherent: yet when his master sets out "to be with Heracles,"--he stops behind, he won't go! though it is but a single header into the flames, and in a moment endless felicity is his. It is not zeal, to have the same kind of stick and coat and scrip as another man; any one can do that; it is both safe and easy. Zeal must appear in the end, in the consummation: let him get together his pyre of fig-tree faggots, as green as may be, and gasp out his last amid the smoke! For as to merely being burnt, Heracles and Asclepius have no monopoly there: temple-robbers and murderers may be seen experiencing the same fate in the ordinary course of law. Smoke is the only death, if you want to have it all to yourselves.
'Besides, if Heracles really ever did anything so stupendous at all, he was driven to it by frenzy; he was being consumed alive by the Centaur's blood,--so the play tells us. But what point is there in Proteus's throwing himself into the fire? Ah, of course: he wants to set an example of fortitude, like the Brahmins, to whom Theagenes thought it necessary to corn-pare him. Well, I suppose there may be fools and empty-headed enthusiasts in India as elsewhere? Anyhow, he might stick to his models. The Brahmins never jump straight into the fire: Onesicritus, Alexander's pilot, saw Calanus burn himself, and according to him, when the pyre has been got ready, they stand quietly roasting in front of it, and when they do get on top, there they sit, smouldering away in a dignified manner, never budging an inch. I see nothing so great in Proteus's just jumping in and being swallowed by the flames. As likely as not he would jump out when he was half done; only, as I understand, he is taking care to have the pyre in a good deep hole.
'Some say that he is beginning to think better of it; that he reports certain dreams, to the effect that Zeus will not suffer the holy place to be profaned. Let him be easy on that score. I dare swear that not a God of them will have any objection to a rogue's dying a rogue's death. To be sure, he won't easily get out of it now. His Cynic friends egg him on and thrust him pyre-wards; they keep his ambition aglow; there shall be no flinching, if they can help it! If Proteus would take a couple of them with him in the fatal leap, it would be the first good action he has ever performed.
'Not even "Proteus" will serve now, they were saying: he has changed his name to Phoenix; that Indian bird being credited with bringing a prolonged existence to an end upon a pyre. He tells strange tales too, and quotes oracles--guaranteed old--to the effect that he is to be a guardian spirit of the night. Evidently he has conceived a fancy for an altar, and looks to have his statue set up, all of gold. And upon my word it is as likely as not that among the simple vulgar will be found some to declare that Proteus has cured them of the ague, and that in the darkness they have met with the "guardian spirit of the night." And as the ancient Proteus, the son of Zeus, the great original, had the gift of prophecy, I suppose these precious disciples of the modern one will be for getting up an oracle and a shrine upon the scene of cremation. Mark my words: we shall find we have got Protean priests of the scourge; priests of the branding-iron; priests of some strange thing or other; or--who knows?--nocturnal rites in his honour, with a torchlight procession about the pyre. I heard but now, from a friend, of Theagenes's producing a prophecy of the Sibyl on this subject: he quoted the very words:
What time the noblest of the Cynic host
Within the Thunderer's court shall light a fire,
And leap into its midst, and thence ascend
To great Olympus--then shall all mankind,
Who eat the furrow's fruit, give honour due
To the Night-wanderer. His seat shall be
Hard by Hephaestus and lord Heracles.
That 's the oracle that Theagenes says he heard from the Sibyl. Now I'll give him one of Bacis's on the same subject. Bacis speaks very much to the point as follows:
What time the Cynic many-named shall leap,
Stirred in his heart with mad desire for fame,
Into hot fire--then shall the Fox-dogs all,
His followers, go hence as went the Wolf.
And him that shuns Hephaestus' fiery might
Th’ Achaeans all shall straightway slay with stones;
Lest, cool in courage, he essay warm words,
Stuffing with gold of usury his scrip;
For in fair Patrae he hath thrice five talents.
What say you, friends? Can Bacis turn an oracle too, as well as the Sibyl? Apparently it is time for the esteemed followers of Proteus to select their spots for "evaporation," as they call burning.'
A universal shout from the audience greeted this conclusion: 'Away with them to the fire! ’tis all they are good for.' The orator descended, beaming.
But Nestor marked the uproar--
The shouts no sooner reached Theagenes's ears, than he was back on the platform, bawling out all manner of scandal against the last speaker (I don't know what this capital fellow was called). However, I left Theagenes there, bursting with indignation, and went off to see the games, as I heard the stewards were already on the course. So much for Elis.
On our arrival at Olympia, we found the vestibule full of people, all talking about Proteus. Some were inveighing against him, others commended his purpose; and most of them had come to blows about it when, just after the Heralds' contest, in came Proteus himself, with a multitudinous escort, and gave us a speech, all about himself;--the life he had lived, the risks he had run, the trials he had undergone in the cause of philosophy. He had a great deal to say, but I heard very little of it; there was such a crowd. Presently I began to think I should be squeezed to death in the crush (I saw this actually happen to several people), so off I went, having had enough of this sophist in love with death, and his anticipatory epitaph. Thus much I heard, however. Upon a golden life he desired to set a golden crown. He had lived like Heracles: like Heracles he must die, and mingle with the upper air. '’Tis my aim,' he continued, 'to benefit mankind; to teach them how contemptible a thing is death. To this end, the world shall be my Philoctetes.' The simpler souls among his audience wept, crying 'Live, Proteus; live for Greece! ' Others were of sterner stuff, and expressed hearty approval of his determination. This discomposed the old man considerably. His idea had been that they would never let him go near the pyre; that they would all cling about him and insist on his continuing a compulsory existence. He had the complexion of a corpse before: but this wholly unexpected blow of approbation made him turn several degrees paler: he trembled--and broke off.
Conceive my amusement! Pity it was impossible to feel for such morbid vanity: among all who have ever been afflicted with this scourge, Proteus stands pre-eminent. However, he had a fine following, and drank his fill of notoriety, as he gazed on the host of his admirers; poor man! he forgot that criminals on the way to the cross, or in the executioner's hands, have a greater escort by far.
And now the games were over. They were the best I had ever; seen, though this makes my fourth visit to Olympia. In the general rush of departure, I got left behind, finding it impossible to procure a conveyance.
After repeated postponements, Proteus had finally announced a late hour of the night for his exhibition. Accordingly, at about midnight I got up (I had found lodgings with a friend), and set out for Harpine; for here was the pyre, just two miles and a half from Olympia, going East along the racecourse. We found on arrival that the pyre had been placed in a hole, about six feet deep. To ensure speedy ignition, it had been composed chiefly of pine-torches, with brushwood stuffed in between.
As soon as the moon had risen--for her presence too was required at the glorious spectacle--Proteus advanced, in his usual costume, accompanied by the chiefs of the Cynics; conspicuous among them came the pride of Patrae, torch in hand; nobly qualified for the part he was to play. Proteus too had his torch. They drew near to the pyre, and kindled it at several points; as it contained nothing but torches and brushwood, a fine blaze was the result. Then Proteus--are you attending, Cronius?--Proteus threw aside his scrip, and cloak, and club--' his club of Heracles--and stood before us in scrupulously unclean linen. He demanded frankincense, to throw upon the fire; being supplied he first threw it on, then, turning to the South (another tragic touch, this of the South), he exclaimed: 'Gods of my mother, Gods of my father, receive me with favour.' And with these words he leapt into the pyre. There was nothing more to be seen, however; the towering mass of flames enveloped him completely.
Again, sweet sir, you smile over the conclusion of my tragedy. As for me, I saw nothing much in his appealing to his mother's Gods, but when he included his father's in the invocation, I laughed outright; it reminded me of the parricide story. The Cynics stood dry-eyed about the pyre, gazing upon the flames in silent manifestation of their grief. At last, when I was half dead with suppressed laughter, I addressed them. 'Intelligent sirs,' I said, 'let us go away. No pleasure is to be derived from seeing an old man roasted, and there is a horrible smell of burning. Are you waiting for some painter to come along and take a sketch of you, to match the pictures of Socrates in prison, with his companions at his side?' They were very angry and abusive at first, and some took to their sticks: but when I threatened to pick a few of them up and throw them on to the fire to keep their master company, they quieted down and peace was restored.
Curious reflections were running in my mind, Cronius, as I made my way back. 'How strange a thing is this same ambition!' I said to myself; '’tis the one irresistible passion; irresistible to the noblest of mankind, as we account them,--how much more to such as Proteus, whose wild, foolish life may well end upon the pyre!' At this point I met a number of people coming out to assist at the spectacle, thinking to find Proteus still alive; for among the various rumours of the preceding day, one had been, that before entering the fire he was to greet the rising sun, which to be sure is said to be the Brahmin practice. Most of them turned back when I told them that all was over; all but those enthusiasts who could not rest without seeing the identical spot, and snatching some relic from the flames. After this, you may be sure, my work was cut out for me: I had to tell them all about it, and to undergo a minute cross-examination from everybody. If it was some one I liked the look of, I confined myself to plain prose, as in the present narrative: but for the benefit of the curious simple, I put in a few dramatic touches on my own account. No sooner had Proteus thrown himself upon the kindled pyre, than there was a tremendous earthquake, I informed them; the ground rumbled beneath us; and a vulture flew out from the midst of the flames, and away into the sky, exclaiming in human accents
'I rise from Earth, I seek Olympus.'
They listened with amazement and shuddering reverence. 'Did the vulture fly East or West?' they wanted to know. I answered whichever came uppermost.
On getting back to Olympia, I stopped to listen to an old man who was giving an account of these proceedings; a credible witness, if ever there was one, to judge by his long beard and dignified appearance in general. He told us, among other things, that only a short time before, just after the cremation, Proteus had appeared to him in white raiment; and that he had now left him walking with serene countenance in the Colonnade of Echoes, crowned with olive; and on the top of all this he brought in the vulture, solemnly swore that he had seen it himself flying away from the pyre,--my own vulture, which I had but just let fly, as a satire on crass stupidity!
Only think what work we shall have with him hereafter! Significant bees will settle on the spot; grasshoppers beyond calculation will chirrup; crows will perch there, as over Hesiod's grave,--and all the rest of it. As for statues, several, I know, are to be put up at once, by Elis and other places, to which, I understand, he had sent letters. These letters, they say, were dispatched to almost all cities of any importance: they contain certain exhortations and schemes of reform, as it were a legacy. Certain of his followers were specially appointed by him for this service: Couriers to the Grave and Grand Deputies of the Shades were to be their titles.
Such was the end of this misguided man; one who, to give his character in a word, never to his last day suffered his gaze to rest on Truth; whose words, whose actions had but one aim,--notoriety and vulgar applause. ’Twas the love of applause that drove him to the pyre, where applause could no longer reach his ears, nor gratify his vanity.
One anecdote, and I have done; it will keep you in amusement for some time to come. I told you long ago, on my return from Syria, how I had come on the same ship with him from Troas, and what airs he put on during the voyage, and about the handsome youth whom he converted to Cynicism, by way of having an Alcibiades all of his own, and how he woke up one night in mid-ocean to find a storm breaking on us, and a heavy sea rolling, and how the superb philosopher, for whom Death had no terrors, was found wailing among the women. All that you know. But a short time before his death, about a week or so, he had a little too much for dinner, I suppose, and was taken ill in the night, and had a sharp attack of fever. Alexander was the physician called in to attend him, and it was from him I got the story. He said he found Proteus rolling on the ground, unable to endure the fever, and making passionate demands for water. Alexander said no to this: and he told him that if he really wanted to die, here was death, unbidden, at his very door; he had only to attend the summons; there was no need of a pyre. 'No, no,' says Proteus; 'any one may die that way; there's no distinction in it.'
So much for Alexander. I myself, not so long ago, saw Proteus with some irritant rubbed on his eyes to purge them of rheum. Evidently we are to infer that there is no admission for blear eyes in the kingdom of Aeacus. ’Twas as if a man on the way to be crucified were to concern himself about a sprained finger. Think if Democritus had seen all this! How would he have taken it? The laughing philosopher might have done justice to Proteus. I doubt, indeed, whether he ever had such a good excuse for his mirth.
Be that as it may, you, my friend, shall have your laugh; especially when you hear Proteus's name mentioned with admiration.
Apollo. Zeus. Philosophy. Heracles. Hermes. Three Masters. An Innkeeper. Orpheus. Innkeeper's Wife. Three Runaway Slaves
Apol. Father, is this true, about a man's publicly throwing himself upon a pyre, at the Olympian Games? He was quite an old man, it seems, and rather a good hand at anything in the sensational line. Selene told us about it: she says she actually saw him burning.
Zeus. Quite true, my boy; only too true!
Apol. Oh? the old gentleman deserved a better fate?
Zeus. Why, as to that, I dare say he did. But I was alluding to the smell, which incommoded me extremely; the odour of roast man, I need hardly tell you, is far from pleasant. I made the best of my way to Arabia at once, or, upon my word, those awful fumes would have been the death of me. Even in that fragrant land of frankincense and spices I could scarcely get the villanous stench out of my nostrils; the mere recollection of it makes me feel queer.
Apol. But what was his object, father? Was there anything to be got by jumping on to a pyre, and being converted to cinders?
Zeus. Ah, if you come to that, you must call Empedocles to account first: he jumped into a crater, in Sicily.
Apol. Poor fellow! he must have been in a sad way. But what was the inducement in the present case?
Zeus. I'll quote you his own words. He made a speech, explaining his motives to the public. As far as I remember, he said--but who comes here in such haste? There must be something wrong: she is crying; some one has been ill-treating her. Why, it is Philosophy, in a sad way, calling out to me. Why are you crying, child? and what brings you here, away from the world? More misdeeds of the ignorant herd? a repetition of the Socrates and Anytus affair? is that it?
Phi. No, father, nothing of that kind. The common people have been most polite and respectful; they are my most devout admirers,--worshippers, I might almost say; not that they understand much of what I tell them. No; it was those--I don't know what to call them--but the people who pretend to be on such friendly terms with me, and are always using my name;--the wretches!
Zeus. Oh, it's the philosophers who have been misbehaving themselves?
Phi. No, no, father; they have been just as badly treated as I have.
Zeus. Then if it is neither the philosophers nor the common people, who is it that you complain of?
Phi. There are some people who are between the two: they are not philosophers, and yet they are not like the rest of mankind. They are got up to look like philosophers; they have the dress, the walk, the expression; they call me mistress, write philosopher after their names, and declare themselves my disciples and followers: but they are evil men, made up of folly and impudence and wickedness; a disgrace to my name. It was their misconduct that drove me away.
Zeus. Poor child! it is too bad of them. And what have they been doing to you exactly?
Phi. Judge for yourself whether the provocation was a slight one. When formerly you looked down upon the world, and saw that it was filled with iniquity and transgression, and was become the troubled abode of sin and folly, you had compassion on the frailty of ignorant mankind, and sent me down to them: you bade me see to it, that wickedness and violence and brutality should cease from among them; I was to lift their eyes upwards to the truth, and cause them to live together in unity. Remember your words on that occasion: 'Behold, my daughter, the misdeeds of mankind; behold how ignorance has wrought upon them. I feel compassion for them, and have chosen you from among all the Gods to heal their ills; for who else should heal them? '
Zeus. I said that, and more. Yes? and how did they receive you at your first descent? and what is the trouble now?
Phi. My first flight was not directed towards Greece. I thought it best to begin with the hardest part of my task, which I took to be the instruction of the barbarians. With the Greeks I anticipated no difficulty; I had supposed that they would accept my yoke without hesitation. First, then, I went to the Indians, the mightiest nation upon earth. I had little trouble in persuading them to descend from their elephants and follow me. The Brahmins, who dwell between Oxydracae and the country of the Nechrei, are mine to a man: they live according to my laws, and are respected by all their neighbours; and the manner of their death is truly wonderful.
Zeus. Ah, to be sure: the Gymnosophists. I have heard a great deal of them. Among other things, they ascend gigantic pyres, and sit quietly burning to death without moving a muscle. However, that is no such great matter: I saw it done at Olympia only the other day. You would be there, no doubt,--when that old man burnt himself?
Phi. No, father: I was afraid to go near Olympia, on account of those hateful men I was telling you of; I saw that numbers of them were going there, to make their barking clamour heard in the temple, and to abuse all comers. Accordingly I know nothing of this cremation. But to continue: after I had left the Brahmins, I went straight to Ethiopia, and thence to Egypt, where I associated with the priests and prophets, and taught them of the Gods. Then to Babylon, to instruct the Chaldaeans and Mages. Next came Scythia, and after Scythia, Thrace; here Eumolpus and Orpheus were my companions. I sent them on into Greece before me; Eumolpus, whom I had thoroughly instructed in theology, was to institute the sacred mysteries, Orpheus to win men by the power of music. I followed close behind them. On my first arrival, the Greeks received me without enthusiasm: they did not, however, wholly reject my advances; by slow degrees I gained over seven men to be my companions and disciples, and Samos, Ephesus, and Abdera,1 each added one to the little company. And then there sprang up--I scarce know how--the tribe of sophists: men who had but little of my spirit, yet were not wholly alien to me; a motley Centaur breed, in whom vanity and wisdom meeting were moulded into one incongruous whole. They clung not entirely to ignorance, but theirs was not the steady eye that could meet the gaze of Philosophy; and if at moments my semblance flashed phantom-like across their dulled vision, they held that in that dim shadow they had seen all that was to be seen. It was this pride that nourished the vain, unprofitable science that they mistook for invincible wisdom; the science of quaint conceits, ingenious paradoxes, and labyrinthine dilemmas. My followers would have restrained them, and exposed their errors: but they grew angry, and conspired against them, and in the end brought them under the power of the law, which condemned them to drink of hemlock. Doubtless I should have done well to renounce humanity there and then, and take my flight: but Antisthenes and Diogenes, and after them Crates, and our friend Menippus, prevailed upon me to tarry yet a little longer. Would that I had never yielded! I should have been spared much pain in the sequel.
Zeus. But, my dear, you are merely giving way to your feelings, instead of telling me what your wrongs were.
Phi. Then hear them, father. There is a vile race upon the earth, composed for the most part of serfs and menials, creatures whose occupations have never suffered them to become acquainted with philosophy; whose earliest years have been spent in the drudgery of the fields, in learning those base arts for which they are most fitted--the fuller's trade, the joiner's, the cobbler's--or in carding wool, that housewives may have ease in their spinning, and the thread be fit for warp and woof. Thus employed, they knew not in their youth so much as the name of Philosophy. But they had no sooner reached manhood, than they perceived the respect paid to my followers; how men submitted to their blunt speech, valued their advice, deferred to their judgement, and cowered beneath their censure; all this they saw, and held that here was a life for a king.
The learning, indeed, that befits a philosopher would have taken them long to acquire, if it was not utterly out of their reach. On the other hand, their own miserly handicrafts barely rewarded their toil with a sufficiency. To some, too, servitude was in itself an oppression: they knew it, in fact, for the intolerable thing it is. But they bethought them that there was still one chance left; their sheet-anchor, as sailors say. They took refuge with my lady Folly, called in the assistance of Boldness, Ignorance, and Impudence, ever their untiring coadjutors, and provided themselves with a stock of bran-new invectives; these they have ever ready on their tongues; ’tis their sole equipment; noble provision, is it not, for a philosopher? Nothing could be more plausible than the philosophic disguise they now assume, reminding one of the fabled ass of Cyme, in Aesop, who clothed himself in a lion's skin, and, stoutly braying, sought to play the lion's part; the beast, I doubt not, had his adherents. The externals of philosophy, as you know, are easily aped: it is a simple matter to assume the cloak and wallet, walk with a stick, and bawl, and bark, and bray, against all corners. They know that they are safe; their cloth protects them. Liberty is thus within their grasp: no need to ask their master's leave; should he attempt to reclaim them, their sticks are at his service. No more short commons for them now, no more of crusts whose dryness is mitigated only by herbs or salt fish: they have choice of meats, drink the best of wines, and take money where they will, shearing the sheep, as they call it when they levy contributions, in the certainty that many will give, from respect to their garb or fear of their tongues. They foresee, of course, that they will be on the same footing as genuine philosophers; so long as their exterior is conformable, no one is likely to make critical distinctions. They take care not to risk exposure: at the first hint of a rational argument, they shout their opponent down, withdraw into the stronghold of personal abuse, and flourish their ever-ready cudgels. Question their practice, and you will hear much of their principles: offer to examine those principles, and you are referred to their conduct. The city swarms with these vermin, particularly with those who profess the tenets of Diogenes, Antisthenes, and Crates. Followers of the Dog, they care little to excel in the canine virtues; they are neither trusty guardians nor affectionate, faithful servants: but for noise and greed and thievery and wantonness, for cringing, fawning cupboard-love,--there, indeed, they are perfect. Before long you will see every trade at a standstill, the workmen all at large: for every man of them knows that, whilst he is bent over his work from morning to night, toiling and drudging for a starvation wage, idle impostors are living in the midst of plenty, commanding charity where they will, with no word of thanks to the giver, and a curse on him that withholds the gift. Surely (he will say to himself) the golden age is returned, and the heavens shall rain honey into my mouth.
And would that that were all! But they have other ways of bringing discredit upon us, besides the baseness of their origin. When beauty comes within the reach of these grave and reverend gentlemen, they are guilty of excesses that I will not pollute my lips with mentioning. They have been known, like Trojan Paris, to seduce the wives of their own hosts, and to quote the authority of Plato for leaving these fair converts at the disposal of all their acquaintance; they little knew the true meaning of that inspired philosopher's community of women. I will not tire you with a description of their drunken orgies; observe, however, that these are the men who preach against drunkenness and adultery and avarice and lewdness. Could any contrast be greater than that presented by their words and their deeds? They speak their detestation of flattery: a Gnathonides and a Struthias are less fulsome than they. They bid men tell the truth: yet their own tongues cannot move but to utter lies. To hear them, you would say they were at war with pleasure, and Epicurus their bitterest foe: yet nothing do they do but for pleasure's sake. Querulous, irritable, passionate as cradled babes, they are a derision to the beholder; the veriest trifle serves to move their ire, to bring the purple to their cheeks, ungoverned fury to their eyes, foam--call it rather venom--to their lips. Preserve me from their turbid rantings! Gold I ask not, nor silver; be one penny all my wealth, to purchase beans withal. And for my drink, a river, a spring, shall furnish me. But presently it turns out that what they want is not pence, nor shillings, but whole fortunes. He must be a thriving merchant, whose cargoes will bring him in such profits as these men suck out of philosophy. They are sufficiently provided at last, and then off goes the hated uniform: lands and houses are bought, and soft raiment, and comely pages. Inquire of them now for Crates's wallet, Antisthenes's cloak, Diogenes's tub: they know nothing of the matter. When men see these things, they spit in the face of philosophy; they think that all philosophers are the same, and blame me their teacher. It is long since I have won over any to my side. I toil like Penelope at the loom, and one moment undoes all that I have done. Ignorance and Wickedness watch my unavailing labours, and smile.
Zeus. Really, Philosophy has been shamefully treated. We must take some measures with these rascals. Let us think what is to be done. The single stroke of the thunderbolt is too quick a death.
Apol. Father, I have a suggestion to make. By their neglect of the Muses, these vile quacks have incurred my own resentment as well as Philosophy's. They are not worthy to die by your hand. Instead, I would advise your sending Hermes to them, with full authority to punish them at his discretion.
With his forensic experience, he will be at no loss to distinguish between the true philosopher and the false. The former will receive merited praise: on the latter he will inflict such chastisement as the circumstances demand.
Zeus. A sensible proposal. Heracles, you can go too; take Philosophy with you, and lose no time. Think: this will make your thirteenth Labour, and a creditable one too, the extermination of these reptiles.
Hera. Rather than meddle with them, I would give the Augean stables a second clean-out. However, let us be starting, Philosophy.
Phi. If I must, I must.
Her. Yes, come along, and we will polish off a few to-day.--Which way, Philosophy? You know where they are to be found. Somewhere in Greece, of course?
Phi. Oh no; the few that there are in Greece are genuine philosophers. Attic poverty is not at all to the liking of the impostors; we must look for them in places where gold and silver mines abound.
Her. Straight to Thrace, then?
Hera. Yes, Thrace, and I will show you the way. I know every inch of Thrace; I have been there so often. Look here, this is our route.
Hera. You see those two magnificent mountains (the big one is Haemus, and the other Rhodope), and the fertile plain that spreads between them, running to the very foot of either? These three grand, rugged crests that stand out so proudly yonder form as it were a triple citadel to the city that lies beneath; you can see it now, look.
Her. Superb! A queen among cities; her splendours reach us even here. And what is the great river that flows so close beneath the walls?
Hera. The Hebrus, and the city was built by Philip. Well, we have left the clouds behind us now; let us try our fortune on terra firma.
Her. Very good; and what comes next? How do we hunt our vermin down?
Hera. Ah, that is where you come in, Mr. Crier: oblige us by crying them without loss of time.
Her. There is only one objection to that: I do not know what they are called. What names am I to say, Philosophy? and how shall I describe them?
Phi. I am not sure of their names, as I have never come into contact with them. To judge from their grasping propensities, however, you can hardly go wrong with Cteso, Ctesippus, Ctesicles, Euctemon, Polyctetus 1.
Her. To be sure. But who are these men? They seem to be looking for something too. Why, they are coming up to speak to us.
Innkeeper and Masters. Excuse us, madam, and gentlemen, but have you come across a company of three rascals conducting a woman--a very masculine-looking female, with hair cut short in the Spartan fashion?
Phi. Ha! the very people we are looking for!
Masters. Indeed, madam? But these are three runaway slaves. The woman was kidnapped by them, and we want to get her back.
Her. Our business with them I will tell you afterwards. For the present, let us make a joint proclamation.
Disappeared. A Paphlagonian slave, formerly of Sinope. Any person giving information as to his whereabouts will be rewarded; the amount of the reward to be fixed by the informant. Description. Name: begins with CTE. Complexion: sallow. Hair: close-cropped, with long beard.
Dress: a coarse cloak with wallet. Temper: bad. Education: none. Voice: harsh. Manner: offensive.
First Master. Why, what is all this about? His name used to be Cantharus when he was with. me. He had long hair, and no beard, and was apprenticed to my trade; I am a fuller, and he was in my shop, dressing cloth.
Phi. Yes, it is the same; but he has dressed to some purpose this time, and has become a philosopher.
First Master. Cantharus a philosopher! I like that. And where do I come in?
Second and Third Masters. Oh well, we shall get them all now. This lady knows all about them, it seems.
Phi. Heracles, who is this comely person with a lyre?
Hera. It is Orpheus. I was on the Argo with him. He was the best of boatswains; it was quite a pleasure to row to his singing. Welcome, my musical friend: you have not forgotten Heracles, I hope?
Or. And welcome to all of you, Philosophy, Heracles, Hermes. I should like my reward, please: I can lay my finger on your man.
Her. Then show us the way. It is useless, of course, to offer gold to the gifted son of Calliope?
Or. Oh, quite.--I will show you the house, but not the man. His tongue might avenge him; scurrility is his strong point.
Her. Lead on.
Or. It is this house close by. And now I shall leave you; l have no wish to set eyes on him.
Her. Hush! Was that a woman's voice, reciting Homer?
Phi. It was. Let us listen.
More than the gates of Hell I hate that man
Who, loving gold, cloaketh his love with lies.
Her. At that rate, madam, you will have to quarrel with Cantharus:
He with his kindly host hath dealt amiss.
Innkeeper. That ’s me. I took him in, and he ran away with my wife.
Wine-witted knave, deer-hearted and dog-eyed,
Thersites, babbler loose, that nought availest
In council, nought in arms; most valiant daw,
That with thine aimless chatter chidest kings,--
First Master. My rascal to a T.
The dog in thee--for thou art dog and goat
And lion--doth a blasting fury breathe.
Innkeeper. Wife, wife! the dogs have been too many for you; ay, and for your virtue, so men say.
Her. Hope for the best; some little Cerberus or Geryon shall call you father, and Heracles have employment again.--Ah, no need to knock: here they come.
First Master. Ha, Cantharus, have I got you? What, nothing to say for yourself? Let us see what you have in that wallet; beans, no doubt, or a crust of bread.
Her. Bread, indeed! Gold, a purseful of it!
Hera. That need not surprise you. In Greece, you see, he was a Cynic, but here he is all for golden Chrysippus. Next you will see him dangling, Cleanthes-like 1, by his beard, and serve the dirty fellow right.
Second Master. Ha, you rascal there, am I mistaken, or are you my lost Lecythio? Lecythio it is. What a figure! Lecythio a philosopher! I'll believe anything after this.
Her. Does none of you know anything about this other? Third Master. Oh yes, he is mine; but he may go hang for me.
Her. And why is that?
Third Master. Ah, he 's a sadly leaky vessel, is Rosolio, as we used to call him.
Her. Gracious Heracles! did you hear that? Rosolio with wallet and stick!--Friend, here is your wife again.
Innkeeper. Thank you for nothing. I'll have no woman brought to bed of an old book in my house.
Her. How am I to understand that?
Innkeeper. Why, the Three-headed Dog is a book, master? Her. Ay, and so was the Man with the Three Hats, for that matter.
Masters. We leave the rest to you, sir.
Her. This is my judgement. Let the woman return beneath her husband's roof, or many-headed monsters will come of it. These two truant sparks I hand over to their owners: let them follow their trades as heretofore; Lecythio wash clothes, and Rosolio patch them;--not, however, before his back has felt the mallow-stalk. And for Cantharus, first let the men of pitch take him, and plaster him without mercy; and be their pitch the vilest procurable. Then let him be led forth to stand upon the snowy slopes of Haemus, naked and fettered.
Can. Mercy! have mercy on me! Ah me! I am undone!
First Master. So tragic? Come, follow me to the plasterers; and off with that lion's-skin, lest you be taken for other than an ass.
98:1 Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Democritus.
Cronus. His Priest
Pr. Cronus, you are in authority just now, I understand; to you our sacrifices and ceremonies are directed; now, what can I make surest of getting if I ask it of you at this holy season?
Cro. You had better make up your own mind what to pray for, unless you expect your ruler to be a clairvoyant and know what you would like to ask. Then, I will do my best not to disappoint you.
Pr. Oh, I have done that long ago. No originality about it; the usual thing, please,---wealth, plenty of gold, landed proprietorship, a train of slaves, gay soft raiment, silver, ivory, in fact everything that is worth anything. Best of Cronuses, give me some of these; your priest should profit by your rule, and not be the one man who has to go without all his life.
Cro. Of course! ultra vires; these are not mine to give. So do not sulk at being refused; ask Zeus for them; he will be in authority again soon enough. Mine is a limited monarchy, you see. To begin with, it only lasts a week; that over, I am a private person, just a man in the street. Secondly, during my week the serious is barred; no business allowed. Drinking and being drunk, noise and games and dice, appointing of kings and feasting of slaves, singing naked, clapping of tremulous hands, an occasional ducking of corked faces in icy water,--such are the functions over which I preside. But the great things, wealth and gold and such, Zeus distributes as he will.
Pr. He is not very free with them, though, Cronus. I am tired of asking for them, as I do at the top of my voice. He never listens; he shakes his aegis, gets the thunderbolt ready for action, puts on a stern look and scares you out of worrying him. He does consent now and then, and make a man rich; but his selection is most casual; he will pass over the good and sensible, and set fools and knaves up to the lips in wealth, gaolbirds or debauchees most of them. But I want to know what are the things you can do.
Cro. Oh, they are not to be sneezed at; it does not come to so very little, if you make allowance for my general limitations. Perhaps you think it a trifle always to win at dice, and be able to count on the sice when the ace is the best the others can throw? Anyhow, there are plenty who get as much as they can eat just because the die likes them and does what it can for them. Others you may see naked, swimming for their lives; and what was the reef that wrecked them, pray? that little die. Or again, to enjoy your wine, to sing the best song at table, at the slaves' feast to see the other waiters ducked for incompetence, while you are acclaimed victor and carry off the sausage prize is all that nothing? Or you find yourself absolute monarch by favour of the knucklebone, can have no ridiculous commands laid on you, and can lay them on the rest: one must shout out a libel on himself, another dance naked, or pick up the flute-girl and carry her thrice round the house; how is that for a sample of my open-handedness? If you complain that the sovereignty is not real nor lasting, that is unreasonable of you; you see that I, the giver of it, have a short-lived tenure myself. Well, anything that is in my power--draughts, monarchy, song, and the rest I have mentioned--you can ask, and welcome; I will not scare you with aegis and thunderbolt.
Pr. Most kind Titan, such gifts I require not of you. Give me the answer that was my first desire, and then count yourself to have repaid my sacrifice sufficiently; you shall have my receipt in full.
Cro. Put your question. An answer you shall have, if my knowledge is equal to it.
Pr. First, then, is the common story true? used you to eat the children Rhea bore you? and did she steal away Zeus, and give you a stone to swallow for a baby? did he when he grew to manhood make victorious war upon you and drive you from your kingdom, bind and cast you into Tartarus, you and all the powers that ranged themselves with you?
Cro. Fellow, were it any but this festive season, when ’tis lawful to be drunken, and slaves have licence to revile their lords, the reward for thy question, for this thy rudeness to a grey-haired aged God, had been the knowledge that wrath is yet permitted me.
Pr. It is not my story, you know, Cronus; it is Homer's and Hesiod's; I might say, only I don't quite like to, that it is the belief of the generality.
Cro. That conceited shepherd (Hesiod)? you do not suppose he knew anything worth knowing about me? Why, think. Is a man conceivable--let alone a God--who would devour his own children?--wittingly, I mean; of course he might be a Thyestes and have a wicked brother; that is different. However, even granting that, I ask you whether he could help knowing he had a stone in his mouth instead of a baby; I envy him his teeth, that is all. The fact is, there was no war, and Zeus did not depose me; I voluntarily abdicated and retired from the cares of office. That I am not in fetters or in Tartarus you can see for yourself, or you must be as blind as Homer.
Pr. But what possessed you to abdicate?
Cro. Well, the long and short of it is, as I grew old and gouty --that last, by the way, accounts for the fetters of the story--I found the men of these latter days getting out of hand; I had to be for ever running up and down swinging the thunderbolt and blasting perjurers, temple-robbers, oppressors; I could get no peace; younger blood was wanted. So I had the happy thought of abdicating in Zeus's favour. Independently of that, I thought it a good thing to divide up my authority--I had sons to take it on--and to have a pleasant easy time, free of all the petition business and the embarrassment of contradictory prayers, no thundering or lightening to do, no lamentable necessity for sending discharges of hail.
None of that now; I am on the shelf, and I like it, sipping neat nectar and talking over old times with Iapetus and the others that were boys with me. And He is king, and has troubles by the thousand. But it occurred to me to reserve these few days for the employments I have mentioned; during them I resume my authority, that men may remember what life was like in my days, when all things grew without sowing or ploughing of theirs--no ears of corn, but loaves complete and meat ready cooked--, when wine flowed in rivers, and there were fountains of milk and honey; all men were good and all men were gold. Such is the purpose of this my brief reign; therefore the merry noise on every side, the song and the games; therefore the slave and the free as one. When I was king, slavery was not.
Pr. Dear me, now! and I accounted for your kindness to slaves and prisoners from the story again; I thought that, as you were a slave yourself, you were paying slaves a compliment in memory of your own fetters.
Cro. Cease your ribald jests.
Pr. Quite so; I will. But here is another question, please. Used mortals to play draughts in your time?
Cro. Surely; but not for hundreds or thousands of pounds like you; nuts were their highest stake; a man might lose without a sigh or a tear, when losing could not mean starvation.
Pr. Wise men! though, as they were solid gold themselves, they were out of temptation. It occurred to me when you mentioned that--suppose any one were to import one of your solid gold men into our age and exhibit him, what sort of a reception would the poor thing get? They would tear him to pieces, not a doubt of it. I see them rushing at him like the Maenads at Pentheus, the Thracian women at Orpheus, or his hounds at Actaeon, trying which could get the biggest bit of him; even in the holidays they do not forget their avarice; most of them regard the holy season as a sort of harvest. In which persuasion some of them loot their friends' tables, others complain, quite unreasonably, of you, or smash their innocent dice in revenge for losses due to their own folly.
But tell me this, now: as you are such a delicate old deity, why pick out the most disagreeable time, when all is wrapt in snow, and the north wind blows, everything is hard frozen, trees dry and bare and leafless, meadows have lost their flowery beauty, and men are hunched up cowering over the fire like so many octogenarians,--why this season of all others for your festival? It is no time for the old or the luxurious.
Cro. Fellow, your questions are many, and no good substitute for the flowing bowl. You have filched a good portion of my carnival with your impertinent philosophizings. Let them go, and we will make merry and clap our hands and take our holiday licence, play draughts for nuts in the good old way, elect our kings and do them fealty. I am minded to verify the saw, that old age is second childhood.
Pr. Now dry be his cup when he thirsts, to whom such words come amiss! Cronus, a bowl with you! ’tis enough that you have made answer to my former questions. By the way, I think of reducing our little interview to writing, my questions and your so affable answers, for submission to those friends whose discretion may be trusted.
The words of Cronosolon, priest and prophet of Cronus, and holiday lawgiver.
The regulations to be observed by the poor I have sent expressly to them in another scroll, and am well assured that they will abide by the same, failing which, they will be obnoxious to the heavy penalties enacted against the disobedient. And you, ye rich, see to it that ye transgress not nor disregard the instructions following. Be it known to him that shall so do, that he scorneth not me the lawgiver, but Cronus' self, who hath appeared, in no dream, but these two days gone to my waking senses, and appointed me to give holiday laws. No bondsman was he, nor foul to look upon, as painters have limned him after poets' foolish tales. His sickle was indeed full sharp; but he was cheerful of countenance, strong of limb, and royally arrayed. Such was his semblance; and his words, wherein too was divinity, it is fitting you hear.
He beheld me pacing downcast, meditative, and straightway knew--as how should a God not know?--the cause of my sorrow, and how I was ill content with poverty and with the unseasonable thinness of my raiment. For there was frost and north wind and ice and snow, and I but ill fenced against them. The feast was moreover at hand, and I might see others making ready for sacrifice and good cheer, but for me things looked not that way. He came upon me from behind and touched and thrilled my ear, as is the manner of his approach, and spake: 'O Cronosolon, wherefore this troubled mien?' 'Is there not a cause, lord,' I said, 'when I look on pestilent loathly fellows passing rich, engrossing all luxury, but I and many another skilled in liberal arts have want and trouble to our bed-fellows?
And thou, even thou, lord, wilt not say it shall not he, nor order things anew and make us equal.' 'In common life,' then said he, '’tis no light matter to change the lots that Clotho and her sister Fates have laid upon you; but as touching the feast, I will set right your poverty; and let the settling be after this manner. Go, O Cronosolon, indite me certain laws for observance in the feast days, that the rich feast not by themselves, but impart of their good things to you.' Then said I, 'I know not how.'
'But I,' quoth he, 'will teach you.' And therewith he began and taught me. And when I was perfect, 'And certify them,' he said, 'that if they do not hereafter, this sharp sickle that I bear is no toy; ’twere odd if I could maim therewith Uranus my father, but not do as much for the rich that transgress my laws; they shall be fitted to serve the Mother of the Gods with alms-box and pipe and timbrel.' Thus he threatened; wherefore ye will do well to observe his decrees.
FIRST TABLE OF THE LAWS
All business, be it public or private, is forbidden during the feast days, save such as tends to sport and solace and delight. Let none follow their avocations saving cooks and bakers.
All men shall be equal, slave and free, rich and poor, one with another.
Anger, resentment, threats, are contrary to law.
During the feast days, no man shall be called to account of his stewardship.
No man shall in these days count his money nor inspect his wardrobe, nor make an inventory.
Athletic training shall cease.
No discourse shall be either composed or delivered, except it be witty and lusty, conducing to mirth and jollity.
SECOND TABLE OF THE LAWS
In good time against the feast every rich man shall inscribe in a table-book the names of his several friends, and shall provide money to a tithe of his yearly incomings, together with the superfluity of his raiment, and such ware as is too coarse for his own service, and a goodly quantity of silver vessels. These shall be all in readiness.
On the eve of the feast the rich shall hold a purification, and drive forth from their houses parsimony and avarice and covetousness and all other such leanings that dwell with the most of them. And their houses being purged they shall make offering to Zeus the Enricher, and to Hermes the Giver, and to Apollo the Generous. And at afternoon the table-book of their friends shall be read to them.
Then shall they with their own hands allot to each friend his fitting share, and send it before set of sun.
And the carriers shall be not more than three or four, the trustiest of a man's servants, and well on in years. And let him write in a letter what is the gift, and its amount, that the carriers be not suspect to giver or receiver. And the said servants shall drink one cup each man, and depart, and ask no more.
To such as have culture let all be sent in double measure; it is fitting that they have two portions.
The message that goeth with a gift shall be modest and brief; let no man humble his friend, nor commend his own gift.
Rich shall not send gifts to rich, nor entertain his peer at the feast.
Of the things made ready for sending, none shall be reserved; let no man give and un-give.
He that by absence missed his share of yester-year shall now receive that too.
Let the rich discharge debts for their friends that are poor, and their rent if they owe and cannot pay it.
Let it be their care above all to know in time the needs of every man.
The receiver for his part should be not over-curious, but account great whatsoever is sent him. Yet are a flask of wine, a hare, or a fat fowl, not to be held sufficient gifts; rather they bring the feast into mockery. For the poor man's return gift, if he have learning, let it be an ancient book, but of good omen and festive humour, or a writing of his own after his ability; and the rich man shall receive the same with a glad countenance, and take and read it forthwith; if he reject or fling it aside, be it known to him that he hath incurred that penalty of the sickle, though he himself hath sent all he should. For the unlearned, let him send a garland or grains of frankincense.
If a poor man send, to one that is rich, raiment or silver or gold beyond his means, the gift shall be impounded and sold, and the price thereof cast into the treasury of Cronus; and on the morrow the poor man shall receive from the rich stripes upon his hands with a rod not less than twelve score and ten.
LAWS OF THE BOARD
The bath hour shall be noon, and before it nuts and draughts.
Every man shall take place as chance may direct; dignities and birth and wealth shall give no precedence.
All shall he served with the same wine; the rich host shall not say, For my colic, or for my megrims, I must drink the better.
Every man's portion of meat shall be alike. The attendants shall favour none, nor yet in their serving shall they be deaf to any, nor pass any by before his pleasure be known. They shall not set great portions before him, and small before him, nor give this one a dainty and that one refuse, but all shall be equal.
Let the butler have a quick eye and ear for all from his point of vantage, and heed his master least. And be the cups large or small at choice.
It shall be any man's right to call a health; and let all drink to all if they will, when the host has set the wine a-going. But no man shall be bound to drink, if he be no strong toper.
It shall not be free to any who will to bring an unpractised dancer or musician to the dinner.
Let the limit to jesting be, that the feelings of none be wounded.
The stake at draughts shall be nuts alone; if any play for money, he shall fast on the morrow.
When the rich man shall feast his slaves, let his friends serve with him.
These laws every rich man shall engrave on a brazen pillar and set them in the centre of his hall and there read them. And be it known that, so long as that pillar stands, neither famine nor sickness nor fire nor any mischance shall come upon the house. But if it be removed--which God avert!--then evil shall be that house's doom.
I to Cronus, Greeting.
I have written to you before telling you of my condition, how poverty was likely to exclude me from the festival you have proclaimed. I remember observing how unreasonable it was that some of us should be in the lap of wealth and luxury, and never give a share of their good things to the poor, while others are dying of hunger with your holy season just upon them. But as you did not answer, I thought I might as well refresh your memory. Dear good Cronus, you ought really to remove this inequality and pool all the good things before telling us to make merry. The world is peopled with camels and ants now, nothing between the two. Or, to put it another way, kindly imagine an actor, with one foot mounted on the tragic stilt and the other bare; if he walks like that, he must be a giant or a dwarf according to the leg he stands on; our lives are about as equal as his heights. Those who are taken on by manager Fortune and supplied with stilts come the hero over us, while the rest pad it on the ground, though you may take my word for it we could rant and stalk with the best of them if we were given the same chance.
Now the poets inform me that in the old days when you were king it was otherwise with men; earth bestowed her gifts upon them unsown and unploughed, every man's table was spread automatically, rivers ran wine and milk and honey. Most wonderful of all, the men themselves were gold, and poverty never came near them. As for us, we can hardly pass for lead; some yet meaner material must be found. In the sweat of our face the most of us eat bread. Poverty, distress, and helplessness, sighs and lamentations and pinings for what is not, such is the staple of man's life, the poor man's at least. All which, believe me, would be much less painful to us, if there were not the felicity of the rich to emphasize it. They have their chests of gold and silver, their stored wardrobes, their slaves and carriages and house property and farms, and, not content with keeping to themselves their superfluity in all these, they will scarce fling a glance to the generality of us.
Ah, Cronus, there is the sting that rankles beyond endurance --that one should loll on cloth of finest purple, overload his stomach with all delicacies, and keep perpetual feast with guests to wish him joy, while I and my like dream over the problematic acquisition of a sixpence to provide us a loaf white or brown, and send us to bed with a smack of cress or thyme or onion in our mouths. Now, good Cronus, either reform this altogether and feed us alike, or at the least induce the rich not to enjoy their good things alone; from their bushels of gold let them scatter a poor pint among us; the raiment that they would never feel the loss of though the moth were to consume it utterly, seeing that in any case it must perish by mere lapse of time, let them devote to covering our nakedness rather than to propagating mildew in their chests and drawers.
Further let them entertain us by fours and fives, and not as they now do, but more on principles of equality; let us all share alike. The way now is for one to gorge himself on some dainty, keeping the servant waiting about him till he is pleased to have done; but when it reaches us, as we are in the act of helping ourselves it is whisked off, and we have but that fleeting glimpse of the entrée or fag-end of a sweet. Or in comes a sucking-pig; half of it, including the head, falls to the host; the rest of us share the bones, slightly disguised. And pray charge the butlers not to make us call unto seven times, but bring us our wine when we ask for it first; and let it be a full-sized cup and a bumper, as it is for their masters. And the same wine, please, for every one at table; where is the legal authority for my host's growing mellow on the choicest bouquet while my stomach is turned with mere must?
These things if you correct and reform, you will have made lifelife, and your feast a feast. If not we will leave the feasting to them, and just kneel down and pray that as they come from the bath the slave may knock down and spill their wine, the cook smoke their sauce and absent-mindedly pour the pea-soup over the caviare, the dog steal in while the scullions are busy and make away with the whole of the sausage and most of the pastry. Boar and buck and sucking-pigs, may they rival in their roasting Homer's oxen of the Sun! only let them not confine themselves to crawling 1, but jump up and make off to the mountains with their spits sticking in them! and may the fat fowls, all plucked and trussed, fly far away and rob them of their unsociable delights!
But we can touch them more closely than that. May Indian gold-ants 2 come by night, unearth their hoards and convey them to their own state treasury! May their wardrobe-keepers be negligent, and our good friends the mice make sieve-work of their raiment, fit for nothing but tunny-nets! May every pretty curled minion, every Hyacinth and Achilles and Narcissus they keep, turn bald as he hands the cup! let his hair fall off and his chin grow bristly, till he is like the peak-bearded fellows on the comic stage, hairy and prickly on cheek and temple, and on the top smooth and bare! These are specimens of the petitions we will send up, if they will not moderate their selfishness, acknowledge themselves trustees for the public, and let us have our fair share.
Homer, Odyssey XII. Odysseus's crew had killed and begun to cook the oxen of the Sun. 'And soon thereafter the Gods chewed forth signs and wonders to my company. The skins were creeping, and the flesh bellowing upon the spits, both the roast and raw, and there was a sound as of the voice of kine.'--Butcher and Lang.
The History of Herodotus III 'And in this desert and sandy tract' (in North India) 'are produced ants, which are in size smaller than dogs but larger than foxes. . . These ants there make their dwelling under ground and carry up the sand just in the same manner as the ants found in the land of the Hellenes . . . and the sand which is brought up contains gold.'--Macaulay's translation.
Cronus to his well-beloved me, Greeting.
My good man, why this absurdity of writing to me about the state of the world, and advising redistribution of property? It is none of my business; the present ruler must see to that. It is an odd thing you should be the only person unaware that I have long abdicated; my sons now administer various departments, of which the one that concerns you is mainly in the hands of Zeus; my own charge is confined to draughts and merry-making, song and good cheer, and that for one week only. As for the weightier matters you speak of, removal of inequalities and reducing of all men to one level of poverty or riches, Zeus must do your business for you. On the other hand, if any man is wronged or defrauded of his holiday privileges, that is a matter within my competence; and I am writing to the rich on the subject of dinners, and that pint of gold, and the raiment, directing them to send you what the season requires. The poor are reasonable there; it is right and proper for the rich to do these things, unless it turns out that they have good reasons to the contrary.
Speaking generally, however, I must tell you that you are all in error; it is quite a misconception to imagine the rich in perfect bliss; they have no monopoly of life's pleasures because they can eat expensive food, drink too much good wine, revel in beauty, and go in soft raiment. You have no idea of how it works out. The resulting anxieties are very considerable. A ceaseless watch must be kept, or stewards will be lazy and dishonest, wine go sour, and grain be weeviled; the burglar will be off with the rich man's plate; agitators will persuade the people that he is meditating a coup d’état. And these are but a minute fraction of their troubles; if you could know their apprehensions and cares, you would think riches a thing to be avoided at all costs.
Why, look at me; if wealth and dominion were good things, do you suppose I should have been fool enough to relinquish them, make room for others, and sit down like a common man content with a subordinate position? No, it was because I knew all the conditions the rich and powerful cannot escape that I had the sense to abdicate.
You made a great fuss in your letter about their gorging on boar's head and pastry while your festival consists of a mouthful of cress or thyme or onion. Now, what are the facts? As to the immediate sensation, on the palate, there is little to choose between the two diets--not much to complain of in either; but with the after effects it is quite otherwise. You get up next morning without either the headache the rich man's wine leaves behind, or the disgusting queasiness that results from his surfeit of food. To these effects he adds those of nights given to lust and debauchery, and as likely as not reaps the fruit of his luxury in consumption, pneumonia, or dropsy. It is quite a difficult matter to find a rich man who is not deathly pale; most of them by the time they are old men use eight legs belonging to other people instead of their own two; they are gold without and rags within, like the stage hero's robes. No fish dinners for you, I admit; you hardly know what fish tastes like; but then observe, no gout or pneumonia either, nor other ailments due to other excesses. Apart from that. though, the rich themselves do not enjoy their daily over-indulgence in these things; you may see them as eager, and more, for a dinner of herbs as ever you are for game.
I say nothing of their other vexations--one has a disreputable son, another a wife who prefers his slave to himself, another realizes that his minion yields to necessity what he would not to affection; there are numberless things, in fact, that you know nothing about; you only see their gold and purple, or catch sight of them behind their high-steppers, and open your mouths and abase yourselves before them. If you left them severely alone, if you did not turn to stare at their silver-plated carriages, if you did not while they were talking eye their emerald rings, or finger their clothes and admire the fineness of the texture, if you let them keep their riches to themselves, in short, I can assure you they would seek you out and implore the favour of your company; you see, they must show you their couches and tables and goblets, the sole good of which is in the being known to possess them.
You will find that most of their acquisitions are made for you; they are not for their own use, but for your astonishment. I am one that knows both lives, and I write this for your consolation. You should keep the feast with the thought in your minds that both parties will soon leave this earthly scene, they resigning their wealth, and you your poverty. However, I will write to them as I promised, and am confident that they will not disregard what I say.
Cronus to the Rich, Greeting.
I lately received a letter from the poor, complaining that you give them no share of your prosperity. They petitioned me in general terms to institute community of goods and let each have his part: it was only right that equality should be established, instead of one's having a superfluity while another was cut off from pleasure altogether. I told them that had better be left to Zeus; but their particular festival grievances I considered to belong to my own jurisdiction, and so I undertook to write to you. These demands of theirs are moderate enough, it seems to me. How can we possibly keep the feast (they ask), when we are numb with frost and pinched with hunger? if I meant them to participate, I must compel you to bestow on them any clothes that you do not require, or find too heavy for your own use, and also to vouchsafe them just a slight sprinkling of gold. If you do this, they engage not to dispute your right to your property any further in the court of Zeus. Otherwise they will demand redistribution the next time he takes his seat upon the bench. Well, this is no heavy call, considering the vast property on the possession of which I congratulate you.
They also requested me to mention the subject of dinners; you were to ask them to dinner, instead of closing your doors and living daintily by yourselves. When you do entertain a few of them at long intervals, they say you make it rather a humiliation than an enjoyment; everything is done to degrade them--that monstrous piece of snobbishness, for instance, the giving different people different wines. It is really a little discreditable to them that they do not get up and walk out in such a case, leaving you in sole possession. But that is not all; they tell me there is not enough to drink either; your butlers' ears are as impervious as those of Odysseus's crew. Other vulgarities I can hardly bring myself to name. The helpings and the waiters are complained of; the latter linger about you till you are full to repletion, but post by your poor guests at a run--with other meannesses hardly conceivable in the house of a gentleman. For mirth and good-fellowship it is essential that all the company be on the same footing; if your carver does not secure equality, better not have one, but a general scramble.
It rests with you to obviate these complaints and secure honour and affection; a liberality that costs you nothing appreciable will impress itself permanently by its timeliness on the memory of recipients. Why, your cities would not be habitable, if you had not poor fellow citizens to make their numberless contributions to your well-being; you would have no admirers of your wealth if you lived alone with it in the obscurity of isolation. Let there be plenty to see it and to marvel at your silver and your exquisite tables; let them drink to your health, and as they drink examine the goblet, feel and guess at its weight, enjoy its storied workmanship enhanced by and enhancing the preciousness of the material. So you may not only gain a reputation for goodness and geniality, but also escape envy; that is a feeling not directed against people who let others participate in their prosperity to a reasonable extent; every one prays that they may live long to enjoy it. Your present practice results in an unsatisfying life, with none to see your happiness, but plenty to grudge you your wealth.
It is surely not so agreeable to gorge yourself alone, like a lion or an old wolf that has deserted the pack, as to have the company of well-bred people who do their best to make things pleasant. In the first place they banish dull silence from your table, and are ready with a good story, a harmless jest, or some other contribution to entertainment; that is the way to please the Gods of wine and love and beauty. And secondly they win you love by spreading abroad next morning your hospitable fame. These are things that would be cheap at a considerable price.
For I put it to you whether, if blindness were a regular concomitant of poverty (fancy is free), you would be indifferent to the want of any one to impress with your purple clothes and attendant crowds and massive rings. I will not dwell on the certainty that plots and ill-feeling will be excited against you by your exclusiveness; suffice it to say that the curses they threaten to imprecate upon you are positively horrible; God forbid they should really be driven to it!
You would never taste sausage or pastry more; if the dog's depredations stopped short of completeness, you would still find a fishy flavour in your soup, the boar and the buck would effect an escape to the mountains from off the very roasting-jack, and your birds (no matter for their being plucked) would be off with a whiz and a whirr to the poor men's tables. Worst of all, your pretty cup-bearers would turn bald in a twinkling--the wine, by the way, having previously all been spilt. I now leave you to make up your minds on the course that the festival proprieties and your own safety recommend; these people are extremely poor; a little relief will gain you friends worth having at a trifling cost.
The Rich to Cronus, Greeting.
Do you really suppose, Sire, that these letters of the poor have gone exclusively to your address? Zeus is quite deaf with their clamour, their appeals for redistribution, their complaints of Destiny for her unfairness and of us for refusing them relief. But Zeus is Zeus; he knows where the fault lies, and consequently pays them very little attention. However, as the authority is at present with you, to you we will address our defence. Having before our eyes all that you have laid down on the beauty of assisting out of our abundance those who are in want, and the delight of associating and making merry with the poor, we adopted the principle of treating them on such equal terms that a guest could not possibly have anything to complain of.
On their side, they started with professions of wanting very little indeed; but that was only the thin edge of the wedge. Now, if their demands are not instantly and literally satisfied, there is bad temper and offence and talk; their tales may be as false as they will, every one believes them: they have been there; they must know! Our only choice was between a refusal that meant detestation, and a total surrender that meant speedy ruin and transfer to the begging class for ourselves.
But the worst is to come. At table that filling of the stomach (of which we have by no means the monopoly) does not so completely occupy them but that, when they have drunk a drop too much, they find time for familiarities with the attendants or saucy compliments to the ladies. Then, after being ill at our tables, they go home, and next day reproach us with the hunger and thirst they feelingly describe. If you doubt the accuracy of this account, we refer you to your own quondam guest Ixion, who being hospitably received by you and treated as one of yourselves distinguished himself by his drunken addresses to Hera.
For these among other reasons we determined to protect ourselves by giving them the entrée no longer. But if they engage under your guarantee to make only the moderate demands they now profess, and to abstain from outraging their hosts' feelings, what is ours shall be theirs; we shall be only too glad of their company. We will comply with your suggestions about the clothes and, as far as may be, about the gold, and in fact will do our duty. We ask them on their side to give up trading on our hospitality, and to be our friends instead of our toadies and parasites. If only the' will behave themselves, you shall have no reason to complain of us.
A FEAST OF LAPITHAE
Phi. Ah, Lycinus, I hear you had a very varied entertainment dining with Aristaenetus last night; a philosophic debate followed by a sharp difference of opinion, I understand; if Charinus's information was correct, it went as far as blows, and the conference had a bloody end.
Ly. Charinus? he was not there; what can he know about it?
Phi. Dionicus the doctor had told him, he said; he was one of you, was he not?
Ly. Yes, but only later on; he came when the fray was already a promising one, though no blows had yet been struck. I doubt whether he could have any intelligible account to give, as he had not followed the beginning of the rivalry that was to end in bloodshed.
Phi. Just so; Charinus told me to apply to you, if I wanted a true description of all the details. Dionicus had mentioned that he had not been there all through, but said you knew the whole of the facts, and would remember the arguments too, as you are a real student and take more than an outside interest in that sort of thing. So no more ceremony, please, but spread me this most tempting of banquets; its attractions are enhanced by the fact that we shall enjoy it soberly, quietly, without bloodshed or danger, whatever regrettable words or deeds the old men's weak heads or the young men's vinous exaltation may have led them into.
Ly. What an indiscreet demand, Philo! What, make the story public? give a full description of what men do in their cups? A veil should be drawn over such things; they should be ascribed to Dionysus; I am not at all sure that he will pardon the man who holds aloof from his mystic influence. I should like to be sure that it does not betray an evil nature if you dwell too curiously on what you should forget as you leave the dining-room. 'Babble wet, But dry forget,' goes the rhyme. It was not right of Dionicus to blab to Charinus, bespattering great philosophers with stale wine-rinsings. No, get thee behind me; my lips are sealed.
Phi. Coquette! and you have mistaken your man too; I am quite aware that you are more eager to tell than I to hear: I believe, if you had no one to listen, you would find a pillar or statue and out with the whole tale to it in one torrent. If I try to make off now, you will never let me go till I have done my listening; you will hold on to me and pursue me and solicit me. Then it will be my turn to coquet. Oh, very well; do not trouble to tell me; good-bye; I will get it out of some one else.
Ly. Oh, you needn't be so hasty. I will tell you, if you are so set upon it; only don't repeat it to everybody.
Phi. If I know anything whatever of you, you will take good care of that; you will not leave me many to repeat it to.
Now begin with telling me what Aristaenetus was giving the banquet for; was it his boy Zeno's wedding?
Ly. No, his girl Cleanthis's--to the son of Eucritus the banker, a student of philosophy.
Phi. I know; a fine lad; only a lad, though; old enough to marry?
Ly. Well, he was the most suitable to be had, I suppose. He is a well-behaved youngster, has taken up philosophy, and is sole heir to a rich father; so he was the selected bridegroom.
Phi. Ah, no doubt Eucritus's money is a consideration. Well, and who were the guests?
Why, I need not give you the whole list; what you want is the philosophers and men of letters. There was the old Stoic Zenothemis, and with him 'Labyrinth' Diphilus; Aristaenetus's son Zeno is his pupil. The Peripatetics were represented by Cleodemus--the ready, argumentative person--you know him; 'Sword,' and 'Cleaver,' his disciples call him. And then there was Hermon the Epicurean; directly he came in, there were queer looks and edgings away in the Stoic contingent; he might have been a parricide or an outlaw, by the way they treated him. These had been asked as Aristaenetus's personal friends and intimates, under which head come also Histiaeus the literary man and Dionysodorus the rhetorician.
Then Chaereas (that is the bridegroom's name) was responsible for his tutor Ion the Platonic--a grave reverend man remarkable for the composure of his expression. He is generally spoken of as 'The Standard,' so infallible is his judgement. As he walked up the room, everybody got out of his way and saluted him like some higher being; the great Ion's presence is like an angel's visit.
When nearly all the guests had arrived, and we were to take our places, the ladies occupied the whole of the table to the right of the entrance; there were a good many of them, surrounding the closely veiled bride. The table at the far end accommodated the general company, in due precedence.
At the one opposite the ladies, Eucritus had the first place, with Aristaenetus next him. Then a doubt arose whether the next was Zenothemis the Stoic's, in virtue of his years, or Hermon the Epicurean's, who is priest of the Twin Gods, Castor and Pollux, and also of the noblest blood in the land. Zenothemis found the solution. 'Aristaenetus,' he said, 'if you place me below this Epicurean (I need not use worse language than that), I at once leave the room'; and calling his servant he made as if to depart. 'Have your way, Zenothemis,' said Hermon, 'though, whatever your contempt for Epicurus, etiquette would have suggested your giving way to my priesthood, if I had no other claims.' 'Priest and Epicurean! that is a good joke,' retorted Zenothemis, and took the place, with Hermon next him, however. Then came Cleodemus the Peripatetic, Ion with the bridegroom, myself, Diphilus and his pupil Zeno, then Dionysodorus the rhetorician and Histiaeus the literary man.
Phi. Upon my word, a very temple of the Muses, peopled mainly with the learned! I congratulate Aristaenetus on choosing for his guests on so auspicious an occasion these patterns of wisdom; he skimmed the cream off every sect in a most catholic spirit.
Ly. Oh, yes, he is not one's idea of the rich man at all; he cares for culture, and gives most of his time to those who have it.
Well, we fell to, quietly at first, on the ample and varied fare. But you do not want a catalogue of soups and pastry and sauces; there was plenty of everything. At this stage Cleodemus bent down to Ion, and said: 'Do you see how the old man' (this was Zenothemis; I could overhear their talk) 'is stuffing down the good things--his dress gets a good deal of the gravy--and what a lot he hands back to his servant? he thinks we cannot see him, and does not care whether there will be enough to go round. Just call Lycinus's attention to him.' This was quite unnecessary, as I had had an excellent view of it for some time.
Just after Cleodemus had said this, in burst Alcidamas the cynic. He had not been asked, but put a good face upon it with the usual 'No summons Menelaus waits.' The general opinion clearly was that he was an impudent rogue, and various people struck in with what came to hand: 'What, Menelaus, art distraught?' or, 'It liked not Agamemnon, Atreus’ son,' and other neat tags suited to the occasion; but these were all asides; no one ventured to make them audible to him. Alcidamas is a man uncommonly 'good at the war-cry'; he will bark you louder than any dog of them all, literal or metaphorical; my gentlemen all knew he was their better, and lay low.
Aristaenetus told him he was quite right to come; would he take a chair and sit behind Histiaeus and Dionysodorus? 'Stuff!' he said; 'a soft womanish trick, to sit on a chair or a stool! one might as well loll at one's food half on one's back, like all of you on this soft couch with purple cushions under you. As for me, I will take my dinner standing and walking about the room. If I get tired, I will lay my old cloak on the ground and prop myself on my elbow like Heracles in the pictures.' 'Just as you please,' said Aristaenetus; and after that Alcidamas fed walking round, shifting his quarters like the Scythians according to where pasturage was richest, and following the servants up as they carried the dishes.
However, he did not let feeding interrupt his energetic expositions of virtue and vice, and his scoffs at gold and silver. What was the good of this multitude of wonderful cups, he wanted to know, when earthenware would serve the purpose? Aristaenetus got rid of his obtrusiveness for the moment by signing to his servant to hand the cynic a huge goblet of potent liquor. It seemed a happy thought; but he little knew the woes that were to flow from that goblet. When Alcidamas got it, he was quiet for a while, throwing himself on the ground in dishabille as he had threatened, with his elbow planted vertically, just in the attitude of the painters' Heracles with Pholus.
By this time the wine was flowing pretty freely everywhere; healths were drunk, conversation was general, and the lights had come in. I now noticed the boy standing near Cleodemus--a good-looking cup-bearer--to have an odd smile on. I suppose I am to give you all the by-play of the dinner, especially any tender incidents. Well, so I was trying to get at the reason for the smile. In a little while he came to take Cleodemus's cup from him; he gave the boy's fingers a pinch, and handed him up a couple of shillings, I think it was, with the cup. The smile appeared again in response to the pinch, but I imagine he failed to notice the coins; he did not get hold of them; they went ringing on the floor, and there were two blushing faces to be seen. Those round, however, could not tell whose the money was, the boy saying he had not dropped it, and Cleodemus, at whose place it had been heard to fall, not confessing to the loss. So the matter was soon done with; hardly any one had grasped the situation--only Aristaenetus, as far as I could gather. He shifted the boy soon after, effecting the transfer without any fuss, and assigned Cleodemus a strong grown-up fellow who might be a mule or horse groom. So much for that business; it would have seriously compromised Cleodemus if it had attracted general attention; but it was smothered forthwith by Aristaenetus's tactful handling of the offence.
Alcidamas the cynic, who had now emptied his goblet, after finding out the bride's name, called for silence; he then faced the ladies, and cried out in a loud voice: 'Cleanthis, I drink to you in the name of my patron Heracles.' There was a general laugh; upon which, 'You vile scum,' says he, 'you laugh, do you, because I invoke our God Heracles as I toast the bride? Let me tell you that, if she will not pledge me, she shall never bear a son as brave of spirit, as free of judgement, as strong of body, as myself.' And he proceeded to show us more of the said body, till it was scarcely decent. The company irritated him by laughing again; he stood there with a wandering wrathful eye, and looked as if he were going to make trouble. He would probably have brought down his stick on somebody's head, but for the timely arrival of an enormous cake, the sight of which mollified him; he quieted down, and accompanied its progress, eating hard.
The rest were mostly flushed with wine by this time, and the room was full of clamour. Dionysodorus the rhetorician was alternately delivering speeches of his own composition and receiving the plaudits of the servants behind. Histiaeus, the literary man below him, was making an eclectic mixture of Pindar, Hesiod, and Anacreon, whose collaboration produced a most remarkable ode, some of it really prophetic of what was soon to come--'Then hide met stubborn hide,' for instance, and 'Uprose the wailings and the prayers of men.' Zenothemis too had taken a scroll in small writing from his servant, which he was reading aloud.
Now came one of the usual slight breaks in the procession of dishes; and Aristaenetus, to avoid the embarrassment of a blank, told his jester to come in and talk or perform, by way of putting the company still more at their ease. So in came an ugly fellow with a shaven head--just a few hairs standing upright on the crown. He danced with dislocations and contortions, which made him still more absurd, then improvised and delivered some anapaests in an Egyptian accent, and wound up with witticisms on the guests.
Most of them took these in good part; but when it came to Alcidamas's turn, and he called him a Maltese poodle (Alcidamas being a cynic, or 'dog.'), Alcidamas, who had shown signs of jealousy for some time and did not at all like the way he was holding every one's attention, lost his temper. He threw off his cloak and challenged the fellow to a bout of pancratium; otherwise he would let him feel his stick. So poor Satyrion, as the jester was called, had to accept the challenge and stand up. A charming spectacle--the philosopher sparring and exchanging blows with a buffoon! Some of us were scandalized and some amused, till Alcidamas found he had his bellyful, being no match for the tough little fellow. They gave us a good laugh.
It was now, not long after this match, that Dionicus the doctor came in. He had been detained, he said, by a brain-fever case; the patient was Polyprepon the piper, and thereby hung a tale. He had no sooner entered the room, not knowing how far gone the man was, when he jumped up, secured the door, drew a dagger, and handed him the pipes, with an order to play them; and when Dionicus could not, he took a strap and inflicted chastisement on the palms of his hands. To escape from this perilous position, Dionicus proposed a match, with a scale of forfeits to be exacted with the strap. He played first himself, and then handed over the pipes, receiving in exchange the strap and dagger. These he lost no time in sending out of window into the open court, after which it was safe to grapple with him and shout for help; the neighbours broke open the door and rescued him. He showed us his wealed hands and some scratches on his face. His story had as distinguished a success as the jester before; he then squeezed himself in by Histiaeus and dined on what was left. His coming was providential, and he most useful in the sequel.
There now appeared a messenger who said he brought a communication from Hetoemocles the Stoic, which his master had directed him to read publicly, and then return. With Aristaenetus's permission he took it to the lamp, and began reading.
Phi. The usual thing, I suppose--a panegyric on the bride, or an epithalamium?
Ly. Just what we took it for; however, it was quite another story. Here are the contents:
HETOEMOCLES THE PHILOSOPHER TO ARISTAENETUS, GREETING.
My views on dining are easily deducible from my whole past life; though daily importuned by far richer men than you to join them, I invariably refuse; I know too well the tumults and follies that attend the wine-cup. But if there is one whose neglect I may fairly resent, it is yourself; the fruit of my long and unremitting attentions to you is to find myself not on the roll of your friends; I, your next-door neighbour, am singled out for exclusion. The sting of it is in the personal ingratitude; happiness for me is not found in a plate of wild boar or hare or pastry; these I get in abundance at the houses of people who understand the proprieties; this very day I might have dined (and well, by all accounts) with my pupil Pammenes; but he pressed me to no purpose; I was reserving myself, poor fool, for you.
But you pass me by, and feast others. I ought not to be surprised; you have not acquired the power of distinguishing merit; you have no apprehensive imagination. I know whence the blow comes; it is from your precious philosophers, Zenothemis and The Labyrinth, whose mouths (though I would not boast) I could stop with a single syllogism. Let either of them tell me, What is Philosophy? or, not to go beyond the merest elements, how does condition differ from constitution? for I will not resort to real puzzles, as the Horns, the Sorites, or the Reaper. Well, I wish you joy of their company. As for me, holding as I do that nothing is good but what is right, I shall get over a slight like this.
You will be kind enough not to resort later to the well-worn excuse of having forgotten in the bustle of your engagements; I have spoken to you twice to-day, in the morning at your house, and later when you were sacrificing at the Anaceum. This is to let your guests know the rights of the case.
If you think it is the dinner I care about, reflect upon the story of Oeneus; you will observe that, when he omitted Artemis alone from the Gods to whom he offered sacrifice, she resented it. Homer's account of it states that he
Forgot or ne’er bethought him--woeful blindness!Euripides's begins,
This land of Calydon, across the gulf
From Pelops' land, with all its fertile plains--;
Upon the tilth of Oeneus Leto's child,
Far-darting Goddess, loosed a monstrous boar.
I quote you but these few of the many passages upon the incident, just to suggest the qualities of him whom you have passed over, to entertain, and to have your son taught by, Diphilus! natural enough; of course, the lad fancies him, and finds him an agreeable master! If tale-telling were not beneath me, I would add a piece of information that, if you choose, you can get confirmed by the boy's attendant Zopyrus. But a wedding is not a time for unpleasantness or denunciations, especially of offences so vile. Diphilus deserves it richly at my hands, indeed--two pupils he has stolen from me--; but for the good name of Philosophy I will hold my hand.
My man has instructions, if you should offer him a portion of wild boar or venison or sesame cake to bring me in lieu of my dinner, to refuse it. I would not have you find the motive of my letter in such desires.
My dear fellow, I went all hot and cold as this was read; I was praying that the earth might swallow me up when I saw everybody laughing at the different points; the most amused were those who knew Hetoemocles and his white hair and reverend looks; it was such a surprise to find the reality behind that imposing beard and serious countenance. I felt sure Aristaenetus had passed him over not in neglect, but because he supposed he would never accept an invitation or have anything to do with festivities; he had thought it out of the question, and not worth trying.
As soon as the man stopped reading, all eyes were turned on Zeno and Diphilus, who were pale with apprehension, and confirmed by their embarrassment the insinuations of Hetoemocles. Aristaenetus was uneasy and disturbed, but urged us to drink, and tried to smooth the matter over with an attempt at a smile; he told the man he would see to it, and dismissed him. Zeno disappeared shortly after; his attendant had signed to him, as from his father, to retire.
Cleodemus had been on the look-out for an opportunity; he was spoiling for a fight with the Stoics, and chafing over the difficulty of starting the subject: but the letter had struck the right key, and off he went. 'Now we see the productions of your fine Chrysippus, your glorious Zeno, your Cleanthes--a few poor catch-words, some fruitless posers, a philosophic exterior, and a large supply of--Hetoemocleses. What ripe wisdom does this letter reveal, with its conclusion that Aristaenetus is an Oeneus, and Hetoemocles an Artemis! How auspicious, how suitable to the occasion, its tone '
To be sure,' chimed in Hermon, his left-hand neighbour; he had no doubt heard that Aristaenetus had bespoken a wild boar, and thought the introduction of the one at Calydon appropriate. Aristaenetus, I adjure you by the domestic altar, let hint taste the victim, or we shall have the old man starving, and withering away like his Meleager. Though indeed it would not be so very hard on him; such a fate is one of Chrysippus's things indifferent.'
Here Zenothemis woke up and thundered out: 'Chrysippus? you name that name? because a pretender like Hetoemocles comes short of his profession, you argue from him to the real sages, to Cleanthes and Zeno? And who are the men, pray, who hold such language? Why, Hermon, who shore the curls, the solid golden curls, of the Dioscuri, and who will yet receive his barber's fee from the executioner. And Cleodemus, who was caught in adultery with his pupil Sostratus's wife, and paid the shameful penalty. Silence would better become the owners of such consciences.' 'Who trades in his own wife's favours? ' retorted Cleodemus; 'I do not do that, and I do not undertake to keep my foreign pupil's purse and then swear by Polias the deposit was never made; I do not lend money at fifty per cent, and I do not hale my pupils into court if fees are not paid to the day.' 'You will hardly deny, though,' said Zenothemis, 'that you supplied Crito with the poison for his father.'
And therewith, his cup being in his hand, about half full of wine, he emptied it over the pair; and Ion, whose worst guilt was being their neighbour, came in for a good deal of it. Hermon bent forward, dried his head, and entered a protest. Cleodemus, having no wine to reply with, leant over and spat at Zenothemis; at the same time he clutched the old man's beard with his left hand, and was aiming a blow which would have killed him, when Aristaenetus arrested it, stepped over Zenothemis, and lay down between the two, making himself a buffer in the interests of peace.
All this time, Philo, my thoughts were busy enough with the old commonplace, that after all it is no use having all theory at your finger's ends, if you do not conform your conduct to the right. Here were these masters of precept making themselves perfectly ridiculous in practice. Then it was borne in upon me that possibly the vulgar notion is right, and culture only misleads the people who are too much wrapt up in books and bookish ideas. Of all that philosophic company there was not a man--not so much as an accidental exception--who could pass muster; if his conduct did not condemn him, his words did yet more fatally. I could not make the wine responsible, either; the author of that letter was fasting and sober.
Things seemed to go by contraries; you might see the ordinary people behaving quite properly at table; no rioting and disorder there; the most they did was to laugh at and, no doubt, censure the others, whom they had been accustomed to respect and to credit with the qualities their appearance suggested. It was the wise men who made beasts of themselves, abused each other, over-fed, shouted and came to blows. I thought one could find no better illustration for our dinner than the poets' story of Eris. When she was not invited to Peleus's nuptials, she threw that apple on the table which brought about the great Trojan war. Hetoemocles's letter was just such an apple, woeful Iliad and all.
For buffer-Aristaenetus had proved ineffectual, and the quarrel between Zenothemis and Cleodemus was proceeding.
For the present,' said the latter, 'I am satisfied with exposing your ignorance; to-morrow I will give you your deserts more adequately. Pray explain, Zenothemis, or the reputable Diphilus
for you, how it is that you Stoics class the acquisition of wealth l among the things indifferent, and then concentrate your whole efforts upon it, hang perpetually about the rich to that end, lend money, screw out your usury, and take pay for your teaching. Or again, if you hate pleasure and condemn the Epicureans, how comes it that you will do and endure the meanest things for it? you resent it if you are not asked out; and when you are, you eat so much, and convey so much more to your servant's keeping'--and he interrupted himself to make a grab at the napkin that Zenothemis's boy was holding, full of all sorts of provender; he meant to get it away and empty the contents on the floor; but the boy held on too tight.
'Quite right, Cleodemus,' said Hermon; 'let them tell us why they condemn pleasure, and yet expect more of it than any one else.' 'No, no,' says Zenothemis; 'you give us your grounds, Cleodemus, for saying wealth is not a thing indifferent.' 'No, I tell you; let us have your case.' So the see-saw went on, till Ion came out of his retirement and called a truce: 'I will give you,' he said, 'a theme worthy of the occasion; and you shall speak and listen without trying for personal triumphs; take a leaf from our Plato this time.' 'Hear, hear,' from the company, especially from Aristaenetus and Eucritus, who hailed this escape from unpleasantness. The former now went back to his own place, confident of peace.
The 'repast,' as they call it, had just made its appearance; each guest was served with a bird, a slice of wild boar, a portion of hare, a fried fish, some sesame cakes and sweet-meats--all these to be taken home if the guest chose. Every man had not a separate dish, however; Aristaenetus and Eucritus shared one little table, from which each was to take what belonged to him; so Zenothemis the Stoic and Hermon the Epicurean; Cleodemus and Ion had the third table, the bridegroom and I the next; Diphilus had a double portion, by the absence of Zeno. Remember these details, Philo; you will find they bear on the story.
Phi. Trust me.
Ly. Ion proceeded: 'I will start, then, if you wish it.' He reflected a moment, and then: 'With so much talent in the room, no less a subject might seem indicated than Ideas, Incorporeals, and the Immortality of the Soul. On the other hand our divergent views might make that too controversial; so I will take the question of marriage, and say what seems appropriate. The counsel of perfection here would be to dispense with it, and be satisfied, according to the prescription of Plato and Socrates, with contemplating male beauty. So, and only so, is absolute virtue to be attained. But if marriage is admitted as a practical necessity, then we should adopt the Platonic system of holding our wives in common, thus obviating rivality.'
The unseasonableness of these remarks raised a laugh. And Dionysodorus had another criticism: 'Spare us these provincialisms,' he said; 'or give us your authority for "rivality."' 'Such carpings are beneath contempt,' was the polite reply. Dionysodorus was about to return the compliment with interest, when our good man of letters intervened: 'Stop,' said Histiaeus, 'and let me read you an epithalamium.'
He at once went off at score; and I think I can reproduce the effusion:
>Or like, in Aristaenetus's hall,
Cleanthis, softly nurtured bright princess,
Surpassing other beauties virginal,
Cythera's Queen, or Helen's loveliness.
Bridegroom, the best of your contemporaries,
Nireus's and Achilles' peer, rejoice!
While we in hymeneal voluntaries
Over the pair keep lifting up our voice.
By the time the laughter that not unnaturally followed had subsided, it was time to pack up our 'repasts'; Aristaenetus and Eucritus took each his intended portion; Chaereas and I, Ion and Cleodemus, did likewise. But as Zeno was not there, Diphilus expected to come in for his share too. He said everything on that table was his, and disputed possession with the servants. There was a tug of war between them just like that over the body of Patroclus; at last he was worsted and had to let go, to the huge amusement of all, which he heightened by taking the thing as a most serious wrong.
As I told you, Hermon and Zenothemis were neighbours, the latter having the upper place. Their portions were equal enough except in one respect, and the division was peaceful until that was reached. But the bird on Hermon's side was--by chance, no doubt--the fatter. The moment came for them to take their respective birds. At this point--now attend carefully, please, Philo; here is the kernel of the whole affair--at this point Zenothemis let his own bird lie, and took the fatter one before Hermon. But Hermon was not going to be put upon; he laid hold of it too. Then their voices were lifted up, they closed, belaboured each other's faces with the birds, clutched each other's beards, and called for assistance, Hermon appealing to Cleodemus, Zenothemis to Alcidamas and Diphilus. The allies took their sides, Ion alone preserving neutrality.
The hosts engaged. Zenothemis lifted a goblet from the table where it stood before Aristaenetus, and hurled it at Hermon;
And him it missed, but found another mark, laying open the bridegroom's skull with a sound deep gash.
This opened the lips of the ladies; most of them indeed jumped down into the battle's interspace, led by the young man's mother, as soon as she saw his blood flowing; the bride too was startled from her place by terror for him. Meanwhile Alcidamas was in his glory maintaining the cause of Zenothemis; down came his stick on Cleodemus's skull, he injured Hermon's jaw, and severely wounded several of the servants who tried to protect them. The other side were not beaten, however; Cleodemus with levelled finger was gouging out Zenothemis's eye, not to mention fastening on his nose and biting a piece off it; and when Diphilus came to Zenothemis's rescue, Hermon pitched him head first from the couch.
Histiaeus too was wounded in trying to part the pair; it was a kick in the teeth, I think, from Cleodemus, who took him for Diphilus. So the poor man of letters lay 'disgorging blood,' as his own Homer describes it. It was a scene of tumult and tears. The women were hanging over Chaereas and wailing, the other men trying to restore peace. The great centre of destruction was Alcidamas, who after routing the forces immediately opposed to him was striking at whatever presented itself. Many a man had fallen there, be sure, had he not broken his stick. I was standing close up to the wall watching the proceedings in which I took no part; Histiaeus's fate had taught me the dangers of intervention. It was a sight to recall the Lapithae and Centaurs--tables upside down, blood in streams, bowls hurtling in the air.
At last Alcidamas upset the lamp, there was a great darkness, and confusion was worse confounded. It was not so easy to procure another light, and many a horrid deed was done in the dark. When some one came at last with a lamp, Alcidamas was discovered stripping and applying compulsion to the flute-girl, and Dionysodorus proved to have been as incongruously engaged; as he stood up, a goblet rolled out of his bosom. His account of the matter was that Ion had picked it up in the confusion, and given it him to save it from damage! for which piece of carefulness Ion was willing to receive credit.
So the party came to an end, tears being resold in the laughter at Alcidamas, Dionysodorus and Ion. The wounded were borne off in sad case, especially old Zenothemis, holding one hand on his nose and the other on his eye, and bellowing out that the agony was more than he could bear. Hermon was in poor condition himself, having lost a couple of teeth; but he could not let this piece of evidence go; 'Bear in mind, Zenothemis,' he called out, 'that you do not consider pain a thing indifferent.' The bridegroom, who had been seen to by Dionicus, was also taken off with his head in bandages--in the carriage in which he was to have taken his bride home. It had been a sorry wedding-feast for him, poor fellow. Dionicus had done what he could for the rest, they were taken home to bed, and very ill most of them were on the way. Alcidamas stayed where he was; it was impossible to get rid of him, as he had thrown himself down anyhow across a couch and fallen asleep.
And now you know all about the banquet, my dear Philo; a tragedy epilogue seems called for:
Hidden power sways each hour:
Men propose, the Gods dispose:
Fail surmises, come surprises.
It was the unexpected that came to pass here, at any rate. Well, live and learn; I know now that a quiet man had better keep clear of these feasts of reason.
DEMOSTHENES. AN ENCOMIUM
A LITTLE before noon on the sixteenth, I was walking in the Porch--it was on the left-hand side as you go out--, when Thersagoras appeared; I dare say he is known to some of you--short, hook-nosed, fair-complexioned, and virile. He drew nearer, and I spoke: 'Thersagoras the poet. Whence, and whither?' 'From home, hither,' he replied. 'Just a stroll?' I asked. 'Why, I do need a stroll too,' he said. 'I got up in the small hours, impressed with the duty of making a poetic offering on Homer's birthday.' 'Very proper,' said I; 'a good way of paying for the education he has given you.' 'That was how I began,' he continued, 'and time has glided by till now it is just upon noon; that was what I meant by saying I wanted a stroll.
'However, I wanted something else much more--an inter view with this gentleman' (and he pointed to the Homer; you know the one on the right of the Ptolemies' shrine, with the hair hanging loose); 'I came to greet him, and to pray for a good flow of verse.' 'Ah,' I sighed, 'if prayers would do it! in that case I should have given Demosthenes a worrying for assistance against his birthday. If prayers availed, I would join my wishes to yours; for the boons we desire are the same.' 'Well, I put down to Homer,' he replied, 'my facility of this night and morning; ardours divine and mystic have possessed me. But you shall judge. Here are my tablets, which I have brought with designs upon any idle friend I might light upon; and you, I rejoice to see, are idle.'
'Ah, you lucky man!' I exclaimed; 'you are like the winner of the three miles, who had washed off the dust, and could amuse himself for the rest of the day. He was minded to crack a story with the wrestler, when the wrestling was next on the programme; but the wrestler asked him whether he had felt like cracking stories when he toed the line just now. You have won your poetic three miles, and want me to minister to your amusement just as I am shivering at the thought of my hundred yards.' He laughed: 'Why, how will it make things worse for you? '
'Ah, you probably consider Demosthenes of much less account than Homer. You are very proud of your eulogy on Homer; and is Demosthenes a light matter to me?' 'A trumped up charge,' he exclaimed; 'I am not going to sow dissension between these two mighty ones, though it is true my own allegiance is rather to Homer.'
'Good,' I said, 'and you must allow me to give mine to Demosthenes. But, though you do not disqualify my subject, I am sure you think poetry the only real treatment; you feel about mere rhetoric what the cavalryman feels as he gallops past the infantry.' 'I hope I am not so mad as that,' he said, 'though a considerable touch of madness is required of him who would pass the gates of poetry.' 'If you come to that, prose cannot do without some divine inspiration either, if it is not to be flat and common.' He admitted that at once: 'I often delight myself with comparing passages from Demosthenes and other prose writers with Homer in point of vehemence, pungency, fire. "Flown with wine" I pair off against the revellings and dancings and debauchery of Philip; "One presage that ne’er fails 1" finds its counterpart in "It is for brave men, founding themselves upon brave hopes--"; "How would old Peleus, lord of steeds, repine--" is matched by "What a cry of lamentation would go up from the men of those days who laid down their lives for glory and freedom--"; "fluent Python" reminds me of Odysseus's "snow-flake speech"; "If ’twere our lot neither to age nor die," I illustrate by "For every man's life must end in death, though he shut himself up in a narrow chamber for safer keeping." In fact the instances are numberless in which they attack their meaning by the same road.
'I love too to study his feelings and moods and transitions, the variety with which he combats weariness, his resumptions after digression, the charm of his opportune illustrations, and the never-failing native purity of his style.
'It has often struck me about Demosthenes--for I will tell the whole truth out--that that looser of the bonds of speech rebukes Athenian slackness with a dignity that is lacking in the "Greekesses" used by Homer of the Greeks; and again he maintains the tragic intensity proper to the great Hellenic drama more consistently than the poet who inserts speeches at the very crisis of battle and allows energy to evaporate in words.
'As often as I read Demosthenes, the balanced clauses, the rhythmic movement and cadence, make me forget that this is not my beloved poetry; for Homer too abounds in contrast and parallel, in figures startling or simple. It is a provision of nature, I suppose, that each faculty should have its proper equipment attached to it. How should I scorn your Muse? I know her powers too well.
'None the less, I consider my task of a Homeric encomium twice as difficult as your praise of Demosthenes; not because it must be in verse, but from the nature of the material; I cannot lay down a foundation of fact to build the edifice of praise upon; there is nothing but the poems themselves. Everything else is uncertain--his country, his family, his time. If there had been any uncertainty about them,
Debate and strife had not divided men; but as it is, they give him for a country Ios or Colophon or Cumae, Chios, Smyrna, or Egyptian Thebes, or half a hundred other places; his father may be Macon the Lydian, or he may be a river; his mother is now Melanope, and now in default of satisfactory human descent a dryad; his time is the Heroic Age, or else perhaps it is the Ionic. There is no knowing for certain whether he was before or after Hesiod, even; and no wonder, considering that some object to his very name, and will have him Melesigenes instead. So too with his poverty, and his blindness. However, all these questions are best left alone. So you see the arena open to my panegyric is extremely limited; my theme is a poet and not a man of action; I can infer and collect his wisdom only from his verses.
'Your work, now, can be reeled smoothly off out of hand; you have your definite known facts; the butcher's meat is there, only needing to be garnished with the sauce of your words. History supplies you with the greatness and distinction of Demosthenes; it is all known; his country was Athens, the splendid, the famous, the bulwark of Hellas. Now if I could have laid hands on Athens, I might have used the poet's right to introduce the loves and judgements and sojourns there of the Gods, the gifts they lavished on it, the tale of Eleusis. As for its laws and courts and festivals, its Piraeus and its colonies, the memorials set up in it of victory by land and sea, Demosthenes himself is the authority for saying that no words could do justice to them. My material would have been inexhaustible; and I could not have been accused of hanging up my true theme; the formula of panegyric includes the arraying of the man in the splendours of his country. So too Isocrates ekes out his Helen by introducing Theseus. It is true that poets have their privileges; and perhaps you have to be more careful about your proportions; there must not be too much sack to the proverbial halfpennyworth of bread.
'Well then, let Athens go; but your discourse at once finds another support in his father's wealth--that "golden base" which Pindar likes--; for to be responsible for providing a warship was to be among the richest Athenians in those days. And though he died while Demosthenes was quite a child, we are not to count his orphan state a disaster; it led to the distinction that brought his splendid gifts into notice.
'Tradition gives us no hint of how Homer was educated or developed his powers; the panegyrist must plunge straight into his works, and can find nothing to talk about in his breeding and training and pupilage; he has not even the resource of that Hesiodic sprig of bay which could make a facile poet out of a shepherd. But think of your abundance in this branch of the subject. There is Callistratus and all the mighty roll of orators, Alcidamas, Isocrates, Isaeus, Eubulides. Then again, at Athens even those who were subject to paternal control had countless temptations to indulgence, youth is the susceptible time, a neglected ward could have lived as irregular a life as he chose, and yet the objects that Demosthenes set up for himself were philosophy and patriotism, and the doors they took him to not Phryne's, but those of Aristotle and Theophrastus, Xenocrates and Plato.
'And so, my dear sir, your way is open to a disquisition upon the two kinds of human love, the one sprung of a desire that is like the sea, outrageous, fierce, stormily rocking the soul; it is a true sea wave, which the earthly Aphrodite sets rolling with the tempestuous passions of youth; but the other is the steady drawing of a golden cord from heaven; it does not scorch and pierce and leave festering wounds; it impels towards the pure and unsullied ideal of absolute beauty, and is a sane madness in those souls which "yet hold of Zeus and nurse the spark divine."
'Love will find out the way, though that way involve a shaven head, a cavern dwelling, a discouraging mirror and punitive sword, a disciplining of the tongue, a belated apprenticeship to the actor's art, a straining of the memory, a conquest over clamour, and a borrowing of night hours to lengthen toilsome days1. All this your Demosthenes endured, and who knows not what an orator it made of him? his speech packed with thought and terse of language, himself convincing in his knowledge of human nature, as splendid in the elevation as mighty in the force of his sentiments, the master and not the slave of his words and his ideas, ever fresh with the graces of his art. He is the one orator whose speech has, in the bold phrase of Leosthenes, at once the breath of life and the strength of wrought iron.
Callisthenes remarked of Aeschylus that he wrote his tragedies in wine, which lent vigour and warmth to his work. With Demosthenes it was otherwise; he composed not on wine but on water; whence the witticism of Demades, that most men's tongues are regulated by water, but Demosthenes's pen was subject to the same influence. And Pytheas detected the smell of the midnight oil in the very perfection of the speeches. Well, there is much in common between your subject and mine, so far as this branch of them is concerned; on Homer's poems I was no worse off than you are.
'But when you come to your hero's acts of humanity, his pecuniary sacrifices, his grand political achievements ' (and he was going on in full swing to the rest of the catalogue, when I interrupted, with a laugh: 'Must I be dowsed with the remainder of your canful, good bath-man?' 'Most certainly,' he retorted, and went straight on), 'the public entertainments he gave, the public burdens he assumed, the ships, the wall, the trench he contributed to, the prisoners he ransomed, the girls he portioned, his admirable policy, the embassies he served on, the laws he got passed, the mighty issues he was concerned in--why, then I cannot but laugh to see your contracted brows; as if a recital of the exploits of Demosthenes could lack matter!'
'I believe you think, my good man,' I protested, 'that I have never had the deeds of Demosthenes drummed into me; I should be singular among rhetoricians, then.' 'It was on the assumption,' he said, 'implied by you, that we want assistance. But perhaps your case is a very different one; is the light so bright that you cannot manage to fix your eyes on the dazzling glory of Demosthenes? Well, I was rather like that about Homer at first. Indeed, I came very near turning mine away, thinking I could not possibly face my subject. However, I got over it somehow or other; became gradually inured, as it were, superior to the weakness of vision that would have condemned me for a bastard eagle and no true son of Homer.
'But now here is another great advantage that I consider you have over me. The poetic faculty has a single aim; from which it follows that Homer's glory must be laid hold of at once and as a whole. You on the other hand, if you were to attempt dealing with the whole Demosthenes all at once, would never know what to say; you would waver and not be able to set your thoughts to work. You would be like the gourmand at a Sicilian banquet, or the aesthete who has a thousand delightful sights and sounds presented to him at once; they do not know which way to turn for their conflicting desires. I suspect that you too are distracted and find concentration impossible; all round you are the varied attractions--his magnanimity, his fire, his orderly life, his oratorical force and practical courage, the endless opportunities of gain that he scorned, his justice, humanity, honour, spirit, sagacity, and each of all his great services to his country. It may well be that, when you behold on this side decrees, ambassadors, speeches, laws, on the other, fleets, Euboea, Boeotia, Chios, Rhodes, the Hellespont, Byzantium, you are pulled to and fro among these too numerous invitations, and cannot tell which to accept.
'Pindar once found himself in a similar difficulty with an overabundant theme:
Ismenus? Melia's distaff golden-bright?
Cadmus? the race from dragon's teeth that came?
Thebe's dark circlet? the all-daring might
Of Heracles? great Bacchus' merry fame?
White-armed Harmonia's bridal?--Ay, but which?
My Muse, we 're poor in that we are too rich.
You, I dare say, are in the same quandary. Logic and life, rhetoric and philosophy, popularity and death--ay, but which?
The maze is quite easy to escape from, though; you have only to take hold of one single clue, no matter which--his oratory, if you will, so that it is taken by itself--, and stick to that one throughout your present discourse. You will have ample material; his oratory is not of the Periclean type. Pericles could lighten and thunder, and he could hit the right nail on the head; so much tradition tells us; but we have nothing to judge for ourselves by, no doubt because, beyond the momentary impression produced, there was in his performances no element of permanence, nothing that could stand the searching test of time. But with Demosthenes's work--well, that it will be your province to deal with, if your choice goes that way.
Or if you prefer his character, or his policy, it will be well to isolate some particular detail--if you are greedy you may pick out two or three--which will give you quite enough to go upon; so great was he at every point. And for such specializing we have Homer's example; the compliments he pays his heroes are attached to parts of them, their feet, their heads, their hair, even their shields or something they have on; and the Gods seem to have had no objection to poets' basing their praises merely on a distaff, a bow, or the aegis; a limb or a quality must pass still more easily; and as for good actions, it is impossible to give an exhaustive list of them. Demosthenes accordingly will not blame you for confining your eulogy to one of his merits, especially as to celebrate the whole of them worthily would be beyond even his powers.'
When Thersagoras had finished this harangue, I remarked: 'Your intention is plain; I am to be convinced that you are more than a good poet; so you have constructed your prose Demosthenes as a pendant to your verse Homer.' 'No, no,' he said; 'what made me run on so long was the idea that, if I could ease your mind by showing how light your task was, I should have secured my listener.' 'Then let me tell you that your object has not been furthered, and my case has only been aggravated.' 'A fine doctor I seem to be!' he said. 'Not knowing where the difficulty lies,' I continued, 'you are a doctor who mistakes his patient's ailment and treats him for another.' 'How so?'
'You have been prescribing for the troubles that would attend a first attempt; unfortunately it is years and years since I got through that stage, and your remedies are quite out of date.' 'Why, then,' he exclaimed, 'the cure is complete; nobody is nervous about a road of which he knows every inch.'
'Ah, but then I have set my heart upon reversing the feat that Anniceris of Cyrene exhibited to Plato and his friends. To show what a fine driver he was, he drove round the Academy time after time exactly in his own track, which looked after it as if it had only been traversed once. Now my endeavour is just the opposite, to avoid my old tracks; and it is by no means so easy to keep out of the ruts.' 'Pauson's is the trick for you,' he said. 'What is that? I never heard of it.'
'Pauson the painter was commissioned to do a horse rolling. He painted one galloping in a cloud of dust. As he was at work upon it, his patron came in, and complained that this was not what he had ordered. Pauson just turned the picture upside down and told his man to hold it so for inspection; there was the horse rolling on its back.' 'You dear innocent!' I said; 'do you suppose I have kept my picture turned the same way all these years? It has been shifted and tilted at every conceivable angle, till I begin to have apprehensions of ending like Proteus.' 'And how was that?' 'Oh, I mean the issue of his attempts to evade human observation; when he had exhausted all shapes of animals and plants and elements, finding no metamorphosis left him, he had to be Proteus again.'
'You have more shifts than ever Proteus had,' he said, 'to get off hearing my poem.'
'Oh, do not say that,' said I; 'off goes my burden of care, and I am at your service. Perhaps when you have got over your own pains of child-birth you will show more feeling for my delicate state.'
He liked the offer, we settled down on a convenient stone step, and I listened to some excellent poetry. In the middle of reading he was seized with an idea, did up his tablets, and said: 'You shall have your hearer's fee, as well deserved as an Athenian's after a day in court or assembly. Thank me, please.' 'I do, before I know what for. But what may it be?' 'It was in the Macedonian royal archives that I came across the book;
I was delighted with it at the time, and took considerable trouble to secure it; it has just come into my head that I have it at home. It contains, among details of Antipater's management of the household, facts about Demosthenes that I think you will find worth your best attention.' 'You shall have >payment on the spot,' I said, 'in the shape of an audience for the rest of your verses; and moreover I shall not part with you till your promise is fulfilled. You have given me a luscious Homer birthday dinner; and it seems you are to be at the charges of the Demosthenes one too.'
He read to the end, we stayed long enough for me to give the poem its meed of praise, and then adjourned to his house, where after some search the book was found. I took it away with me, and on further acquaintance was so much impressed by it that I shall do no editing, but read it you totidem verbis. Asclepius is not less honoured if his worshippers, in default of original compositions, have the hymns of Isodemus or Sophocles performed before him; there is a failure nowadays in the supply of new plays for Dionysus; but those who produce the works of old masters at the proper season have the credit all the same of honouring the God.
This book, then (the part of the state records that concerns us is the conversation I shall give you)--the book informs us that Archias's name was announced to Antipater. In case any of my younger hearers should not know the fact already, this Archias had been charged with the arrest of all exiles. In particular, he was to get Demosthenes from Calauria into Antipater's presence, but rather by persuasion than by force. Antipater was excited about it, hoping that Demosthenes might arrive any day. So, hearing that Archias was come from Calauria, he gave orders for his instant admittance.
When he entered--but you shall have the conversation as it stands.
Ar. Is it well with you, Antipater?
Ant. It is well, if you have brought Demosthenes.
Ar. I have brought him as I might. I have the urn that holds his remains
Ant. Ha? my hopes are dashed. What avail ashes and urns, if I have not Demosthenes?
Ar. The soul, O King, may not be prisoned in a man's own despite.
Ant. Why took you him not alive?
Ar. We took him.
Ant. And he has died on the way?
Ar. He died where he was, in Calauria.
Ant. Your neglect is to blame; you took not due care of him.
Ar. Nay, it lies not at our door.
Ant. What mean you? These are riddles, Archias; you took him alive, and you have him not?
Ar. Was it not your charge that we should use no force at first? Yet indeed we should have fared no better if we had; we did intend it.
Ant. You did not well, even in the intention; it may be your violence killed him.
Ar. No, we killed him not; but if we could not persuade him, there was nothing for it but force. But, O King, how had you been the better off, if he had come alive? you could have done no more than kill him.
Ant. Peace, Archias! methinks you comprehend neither the nature of Demosthenes, nor my mind. You think there is no more in the finding of Demosthenes than in the hunting down such scoundrels as Himeraeus or Aristonicus or Eucrates; these are like swollen torrents--mean fellows in themselves, to whom a passing storm gives brief importance; they make a brave show while the disturbance lasts; but they are as sure to vanish soon as the wind to fall at evening. The recreant Hyperides is another--a selfish demagogue, who took no shame to curry favour with the mob by libelling Demosthenes, and make himself its instrument for ends that his dupes soon wished they had never attained; for the libels had not long borne their fruit before the libelled was reinstated with more honour than Alcibiades himself. But what reeked Hyperides? he scrupled not to use against what had once been dearest to him the tongue that he deserved, even by that iniquity, to lose.
Ar. How.? was Demosthenes not our enemy of enemies?
Ant. Not in the eyes of one who cares for an honourable nature, and loves a sincere consistent character. The noble is noble, though it be in an enemy; and virtue has no country. Am I meaner than Xerxes? he could admire Bulis and Sperchis the Spartans, and release them when they were in his power. No man that ever lived do I admire more than Demosthenes; twice I was in his company at Athens (in hurried times, it is true), and I have heard much from others, and there is his work to judge by. And what moves me is not his skill in speech. You might well suppose so; Python was nothing, matched with him, and the Attic orators but babes in comparison with his finish and intensity, the music of his words, the clearness of his thoughts, his chains of proof, his cumulative blows. We found our mistake when we listened to Python and his promises; we had gathered the Greeks to Athens to see the Athenians confuted; it was Demosthenes who confuted us. But no words of mine can describe the power of his eloquence.
Yet to that I give but a secondary place, as a tool the man used. It was the man himself I marvelled at, his spirit and his wisdom, and the steadiness of soul that steered a straight course through all the tempests of fortune with never a craven impulse. And Philip was of my mind about him; when a speech of his before the Athenian assembly against Philip was reported, Parmenio was angry, and made some bitter jest upon him. But Philip said: Ah, Parmenio, he has a right to say what he pleases; he is the only popular orator in all Greece whose name is missing in my secret service accounts, though I would far rather have put myself in his hands than in those of clerks and third-rate actors. All the tribe of them are down for gold, timber, rents, cattle, land, in Boeotia if not in Macedonia1; but the walls of Byzantium are not more proof against the battering-ram than Demosthenes against gold.
This is the way I look at it, Parmenio. An Athenian who speaking in Athens prefers me to his country shall have of my money, but not of my friendship; as for one who hates me for his country's sake, I will assault him as I would a citadel, a wall, a dock, a trench, but I have only admiration for his virtue, and congratulations for the State that possesses him. The other kind I should like to crush as soon as they have served my purpose; but him I would sooner have here with us than the Illyrian and Triballian horse and all my mercenaries; arguments that carry conviction, weight of intellect, I do not put below force of arms.
That was to Parmenio; and he said much the same to me. At the time of the Athenian expedition under Diopithes, I was very anxious, but Philip laughed at me heartily, and said: Are you afraid of these town-bred generals and their men? Their fleet, their Piraeus, their docks, I snap my fingers at them. What is to be looked for from people whose worship is of Dionysus, whose life is in feasting and dancing? If Demosthenes, and not a man besides, had been subtracted from Athens, we should have had it with less trouble than Thebes or Thessaly; deceit and force, energy and corruption, would soon have done the thing. But he is ever awake; he misses no occasion; he makes move for move and counters every stroke. Not a trick of ours, not an attempt begun or only thought of, but he has intelligence of it; in a word he is the obstacle that stands between us and the swift attainment of our ends. It was little fault of his that we took Amphipolis, that we won Olynthus, Phocis, Thermopylae, that we are masters of the Hellespont.
He rouses his reluctant countrymen out of their opiate sleep, applies to their indolence the knife and cautery of frank statement, and little he cares whether they like it or not. He transfers the revenues from state theatre to state armament, re-creates with his navy bill a fleet disorganized to the verge of extinction, restores patriotism to the place from which it had long been ousted by the passion for legal fees, uplifts the eyes of a degenerate race to the deeds of their fathers and emulation of Marathon and Salamis, and fits them for Hellenic leagues and combinations. You cannot escape his vigilance, he is not to be wheedled, you can no more buy him than the Persian King could buy the great Aristides.
This is the direction your fears should take, Antipater; never mind all the war-ships and all the fleets. What Themistocles and Pericles were to the Athens of old, that is Demosthenes to Athens to-day, as shrewd as Themistocles, as high of soul as Pericles. He it was that gained them the control of Euboea and Megara, the Hellespont and Boeotia. It is well indeed that they give the command to such as Chores or Diopithes or Proxenus, and keep Demosthenes to the platform at home. If they had given into his hands their arms and ships and troops, their strategy and their money, I doubt he would have put me on my mettle to keep Macedonia; even now that he has no weapon but his decrees, he is with us at every turn, his hand is upon us; the ways and means are of his finding, the force of his gathering; it is he that sends armadas afar, he that joins power to power, he that meets our every change of plan.
This was his tone about Demosthenes on many other occasions too; he put it down as one of his debts to fortune that armies were never led by the man whose mere words were so many battering-rams and catapults worked from Athens to the shattering and confounding of his plans. As to Chaeronea, even the victory made no difference; he continued to impress upon us how precarious a position this one man had contrived for us.
Things went unexpectedly well; their generals were cowards and their troops undisciplined, and the caprice of fortune, which has so often served us well, brought us out victorious; but he had reduced me to hazarding my kingdom and my life on that single throw; he had brought the most powerful cities into line, he had united Greece, he had forced Athens and Thebes and all Boeotia, Corinth, Euboea, Megara--the might of Greece, in short--to play the game out to its end, and had arrested me before I reached Attic soil.
He never ceased to speak thus about Demosthenes. If any one told him the Athenian democracy was a formidable rival, 'Demosthenes,' he would say, 'is my only rival; Athens without him is no better than Aenianes or Thessalians.' Whenever Philip sent embassies to the various states, if Athens had sent any one else to argue against his men, he always gained his point with ease; but when it was Demosthenes, he would tell us the embassy had come to naught: there was not much setting up of trophies over speeches of Demosthenes.
Such was Philip's opinion. Now I am no Philip at the best, and do you suppose, Archias, that if I could have got a man like Demosthenes, I should have found nothing better to do with him than sending him like an ox to the slaughter? or should I have made him my right-hand man in the management of Greece and of the empire? I was instinctively attracted long ago by his public record--an attraction heightened by the witness of Aristotle. He constantly assured both Alexander and myself that among all the vast number of his pupils he had found none comparable to Demosthenes in natural genius and persevering self-development, none whose intellect was at once so weighty and so agile, none who spoke his opinions so freely or maintained them so courageously.
But you (said Aristotle) confuse him with an Eubulus, a Phrynon, a Philocrates, and think to convert with gifts a man who has actually lavished his inheritance half on needy Athenians and half on Athens; you vainly imagine that you can intimidate one who has long ago resolved to set his life upon his country's doubtful fortunes; if he arraigns your proceedings, you try denunciation; why, the nearer terrors of the Assembly find him unmoved. You do not realize that the mainspring of his policy is patriotism, and that the only personal advantage he expects from it is the improvement of his own nature.
All this it was, Archias, that made me long to have him with me, to hear from his own lips what he thought about the state of things, and be able at any time of need, abandoning the flatterers who infest us, to hear the plain words of an independent mind and profit by sincere advice. And I might fairly have drawn his attention to the ungrateful nature of those Athenians for whom he had risked all when he might have had firmer and less unconscionable friends.
Ar. O King, your other ends you might have gained, but that you would have told him to no purpose; his love of Athens was a madness beyond cure.
Ant. It was so indeed; ’twere vain to deny it. But how died he?
Ar. O King, there is further wonder in store for you. We who have had the scene before our eyes are as startled and as unbelieving yet as when we saw it. He must long ago have determined how to die; his preparation shows it. He was seated within the temple, and our arguments of the days before had been spent on him in vain.
Ant. Ay? and what were they?
Ar. Long and kindly I urged him, with promises on your part, not that I looked to see them kept (for I knew not then, and took you to be wroth with him), but in hopes they might prevail.
Ant. And what hearing did he give them? Keep nothing back; I would I were there now, hearing him with my own ears; failing which, do you hide nothing from me. ’Tis worth much to learn the bearing of a true man in the last moments of his life, whether he gave way and played the coward, or kept his course unfaltering even to the end.
Ar. Ah, in him was no bending to the storm; how far from it! With a smiling allusion to my former life, he told me I was not actor enough to make your lies convincing.
Ant. Ha? he left life for want of belief in my promises?
Ar. Not so; hear to the end, and you will see his distrust was not all for you. Since you bid me speak, O King, he told me there was no oath that could bind a Macedonian; it was nothing strange that they should use against Demosthenes the weapon that had won them Amphipolis, and Olynthus, and Oropus. And much more of the like; I had writers there, that his words might be preserved for you. Archias (he said), the prospect of death or torture would be enough to keep me out of Antipater's presence. And if you tell me true, I must be on my guard against the worse danger of receiving life itself as a present at his hands, and deserting, to serve Macedonia, that post which I have sworn to hold for Greece.
Life were a thing to be desired, Archias, were it purchased for me by the power of Piraeus (a war-ship, my gift, has floated there), by the wall and trench of which I bore the cost, by the tribe Pandionis whose festival charges I took upon me, by the spirit of Solon and Draco, by unmuzzled statesmen and a free people, by martial levies and naval organization, by the virtues and the victories of our fathers, by the affection of fellow citizens who have crowned me many a time, and by the might of a Greece whose guardian I have never ceased to be. Or again, if life is to be owed to compassion, though it be mean enough, yet compassion I might endure among the kindred of the captives I have ransomed, the fathers whose daughters I have helped to portion, and the men whose debts I have joined in paying.
But if the island empire and the sea may not save me, I ask my safety from the Posidon at whose altar and under whose sanctuary I stand. And if Posidon's power avails not to keep his temple inviolate, if he scorns not to surrender Demosthenes to Archias, then welcome death; I will not transfer my worship to Antipater. I might have had Macedonia more at my devotion than Athens, might be now a partaker in your fortunes, if I would have ranged myself with Callimedon, and Pytheas, and Demades. When things were far gone, I might yet have made a shift, if I had not had respect to the daughters of Erechtheus and to Codrus. Fortune might desert, I would not follow her; for death is a haven of safety, which he who reaches will do no baseness more. Archias, I will not be at this late day a stain upon the name of Athens; I will not make choice of slavery; be my winding-sheet the white one of liberty.
But even at the point of death
She forethought took to fall in seemly wise.
She was but a girl; and shall Demosthenes choose an unseemly life before a seemly death, and forget what Xenocrates and Plato have said of immortality? And then he was stirred to some bitter speech upon men puffed up by fortune. What remains to tell? At last, as I now besought and now threatened, mingling the stern and mild, 'Had I been Archias,' he said, 'I had yielded; but seeing that I am Demosthenes, your pardon, good sir, if my nature recoils from baseness.'
Then I was minded to hale him off by force. Which when he observed, I saw him smile and glance at the God. Archias (he said) believes that there is no might, no refuge for the human soul, but arms and war-ships, walls and camps. He scorns that equipment of mine which is proof against Illyrians and Triballi and Macedonians, surer than that wooden wall1 of old, which the God averred none should prevail against. Secure in this I ever took a fearless course; fearless I braved the might of Macedonia; little I cared for Euctemon or Aristogiton, for Pytheas and Callimedon, for Philip in the old days, for Archias to-day.
And then, Lay no hand upon me. Be it not mine to bring outrage upon the temple; I will but greet the God, and follow of my free will. And for me, I put reliance upon this, and when he lifted his hand to his mouth, I thought it was but to do obeisance.
Ant. And it was indeed--?
Ar. We put his servant to the question later, and learned from her that he had long had poison by him, to give him liberty by parting soul from body. He had not yet passed the holy threshold, when he fixed his eye on me and said: 'Take this to Antipater; Demosthenes you shall not take, no, by------' And methought he would have added, by the men that fell at Marathon.
And with that farewell he parted. So ends, O King, the siege of Demosthenes.
Ant. Archias, that was Demosthenes. Hail to that unconquerable soul! how lofty the spirit, how republican the care, that would never be parted from their warrant of freedom! Enough; the man has gone his way, to live the life they tell of in the Isles of the heroic Blest, or to walk the paths that, if tales be true, the heaven-bound spirits tread; he shall attend, surely, on none but that Zeus who is named of Freedom. For his body, we will send it to Athens, a nobler offering to that land than the men that died at Marathon. H.
164:1 Oracle in Herodotus vii. 141: 'A bulwark of wood at the last Zeus grants to the Trito-born goddess | Sole to remain unwasted.' G. C. Macaulay. Variously interpreted of the thorn hedge of the Acropolis, and of the Athenian fleet.
THE GODS IN COUNCIL
Zeus. Hermes. Momus
Zeus. Now, gentlemen, enough of that muttering and whispering in corners. You complain that our banquets are thrown open to a number of undesirable persons. Very well: the Assembly has been convened for the purpose of dealing with this very point, and every one is at liberty to declare his sentiments openly, and bring what allegations he will.--Hermes, make formal proclamation to that effect
Her. All duly qualified divinities are hereby invited to address the Assembly on the subject of foreigners and immigrants. Mo. Have I your permission to speak, sir?
Zeus. It is not needed; you have heard the proclamation.
Mo. I desire, then, to protest against the insufferable vanity of some among us who, not content with their own promotion to godhead, would introduce their dependants and underlings here as our equals. Sir, I shall express myself on this subject with that blunt sincerity which is inseparable from my character. I am known to the world as one whose unfettered tongue cannot refrain from speech in the presence of wrong-doing; as one who probes matters to the bottom, and says what he thinks, without concealment, without fear, and without scruple.
My frankness is burdensome to the generality of Gods, who mistake it for censoriousness; I have been termed by such the Accuser General. But I shall none the less avail myself of the freedom accorded to me by the proclamation--and by your permission, sir--to speak my mind without reserve.--There are, I repeat it, many persons who, despite their mixed origin, have been admitted to our feasts and councils upon terms of equality; and who, not satisfied with this, have brought hither their servants and satellites, and enrolled them among the Gods; and these menials now share in our rations and sacrifices without ever so much as paying the customary tax.
Zeus. These are riddles. Say what you mean in so many words, and let us have the names. Generalities of this kind can only give ground for random conjecture; they might apply to any one. You are a friend to sincerity: speak on, then, without hesitation
Mo. This is really most gratifying. Such encouragement is precisely what I should have expected of a king of your exalted spirit; I will mention the name. I refer, in fact, to Dionysus. Although the mother of this truly estimable demi-god was not only a mortal, but a barbarian, and his maternal grandfather a tradesman in Phoenicia, one Cadmus, it was thought necessary to confer immortality upon him. With his own conduct since that time, I am not concerned; I shall have nothing to say on the subject of his snood, his inebriety, or his manner of walking. You may all see him for yourselves: an effeminate, half-witted creature, reeking of strong liquor from the early hours of the day. But we are indebted to him for the presence of a whole tribe of his followers, whom he has introduced into our midst under the title of Gods. Such are Pan, Silenus, and the Satyrs; coarse persons, of frisky tendencies and eccentric appearance, drawn chiefly from the goat-herd class. The first-mentioned of these, besides being horned, has the hind-quarters of a goat, and his enormous beard is not unlike that of the same animal. Silenus is an old man with a bald head and a snub nose, who is generally to be seen riding on a donkey; he is of Lydian extraction. The Satyrs are Phrygians; they too are bald, and have pointed ears, and sprouting horns, like those of young kids. When I add that every one of these persons is provided with a tail, you will realize the extent of our obligation to Dionysus. And with these theological curiosities before their eyes, we wonder why it is that men think lightly of the Gods! I might have added that Dionysus has also brought us a couple of ladies: Ariadne is one, his mistress, whose crown is now set among the host of stars; the other is farmer Icarius's daughter. And the cream of the jest is still to come: the dog, Erigone's dog, must be translated too; the poor child would never be happy in Heaven without the sweet little pet! What can we call this but a drunken freak?
So much for Dionysus. I now proceed--
Zeus. Now, Momus, I see what you are coming to: but you will kindly leave Asclepius and Heracles alone. Asclepius is a physician, and restores the sick; he is
More worth than many men.
And Heracles is my own son, and purchased his immortality with many toils. So not one word against either of them.
Mo. Very well, sir; as you wish, though I had something to say on that subject, too. You will excuse my remarking, at any rate, that they have something of a scorched appearance still. With reference to yourself, sir, a good deal might be said, if I could feel at liberty------
Zeus. Oh, as regards myself, you are,--perfectly at liberty. What, then, I am an interloper too, am I?
Mo. Worse than that, according to what they say in Crete: your tomb is there on view. Not that I believe them, any more than I believe that Aegium story, about your being a changeling. But there is one thing that I think ought to be made clear. You yourself, sir, have set us the example in loose conduct of this kind; it is you we have to thank--you and your terrestrial gallantries and your transformations--for the present mixed state of society. We are quite uneasy about it. You will be caught, some day, and sacrificed as a bull; or some goldsmith will try his hand upon our gold-transmuted sire, and we shall have nothing to show for it but a bracelet, a necklace or a pair of earrings. The long and short of it is, that Heaven is simply swarming with these demi-gods of yours; there is no other word for it. It tickles a man considerably when he suddenly finds Heracles promoted to deity, and Eurystheus, his taskmaster, dead and buried, his tomb within easy distance of his slave's temple; or again when he observes in Thebes that Dionysus is a God, but that God's cousins, Pentheus, Actaeon, and Learchus, only mortals, and poor devils at that. You see, sir, ever since you gave the entrée to people of this sort, and turned your attention to the daughters of Earth, all the rest have followed suit; and the scandalous part of it is, that the Goddesses are just as bad as the Gods. Of the cases of Anchises, Tithonus, Endymion, Iasion, and others, I need say nothing; they are familiar to every one, and it would be tedious to expatiate further.
Zeus. Now I will have no reflections on Ganymede's antecedents; I shall be very angry with you, if you hurt the boy's feelings.
Mo. Ah; and out of consideration for him I suppose I must also abstain from any reference to the eagle, which is now a God like the rest of us, perches upon the royal sceptre, and may be expected at any moment to build his nest upon the head of Majesty?--Well, you must allow me Attis, Corybas, and Sabazius: by what contrivance, now, did they get here? and that Mede there, Mithras, with the candys and tiara? why, the fellow cannot speak Greek; if you pledge him, he does not know what you mean. The consequence is, that Scythians and Goths, observing their success, snap their fingers at us, and distribute divinity and immortality right and left; that was how the slave Zamolxis's name slipped into our register. However, let that pass. But I should just like to ask that Egyptian there--the dog-faced gentleman in the linen suit (Anubis. )--who he is, and whether he proposes to establish his divinity by barking? And will the piebald bull yonder (Apis), from Memphis, explain what use he has for a temple, an oracle, or a priest? As for the ibises and monkeys and goats and worse absurdities that are bundled in upon us, goodness knows how, from Egypt, I am ashamed to speak of them; nor do I understand how you, gentlemen, can endure to see such creatures enjoying a prestige equal to or greater than your own.--And you yourself, sir, must surely find ram's horns a great inconvenience?
Zeus. Certainly, it is disgraceful the way these Egyptians go on. At the same time, Momus, there is an occult significance in most of these things; and it ill becomes you, who are not of the initiated, to ridicule them.
Mo. Oh, come now: a God is one thing, and a person with a dog's head is another; I need no initiation to tell me that.
Zeus. Well, that will do for the Egyptians; time must be taken for the consideration of their case. Proceed to others.
Mo. Trophonius and Amphilochus come next. The thought of the latter, in particular, causes my blood to boil: the father3 is a matricide and an outcast, and the son, if you please, sets up for a prophet in Cilicia, and retails information--usually incorrect--to a believing public at the rate of twopence an oracle. That is how Apollo here has fallen into disrepute: it needs but a quack (and quacks are plentiful), a sprinkling of oil, and a garland or two, and an oracle may be had in these days wherever there is an altar or a stone pillar. Fever patients may now be cured either at Olympia by the statue of Polydamas the athlete, or in Thasos by that of Theagenes. Hector receives sacrifice at Troy: Protesilaus just across the water on Chersonese. Ever since the number of Gods has thus multiplied, perjury and temple-robbery have been on the increase. In short, men do not care two straws about us; nor can I blame them.
That is all I have to say on the subject of bastards and new importations. But I have also observed with considerable amusement the introduction of various strange names, denoting persons who neither have nor could conceivably have any existence among us. Show me this Virtue of whom we hear so much; show me Nature, and Destiny, and Fortune, if they are anything more than unsubstantial names, the vain imaginings of some philosopher's empty head. Yet these flimsy personifications have so far gained upon the weak intelligences of mankind, that not a man will now sacrifice to us, knowing that though he should present us with a myriad of hecatombs, Fortune will none the less work out that destiny which has been appointed for each man from the beginning. I should take it kindly of you, sir, if you would tell me whether you have ever seen Virtue or Fortune or Destiny anywhere? I know that you must have heard of them often enough, from the philosophers, unless your ears are deaf enough to be proof against their bawlings.
Much more might be said: but I forbear. I perceive that the public indignation has already risen to hissing point; especially in those quarters in which my plain truths have told home.
In conclusion, sir, I have drawn up a bill dealing with this subject; which, with your permission, I shall now read.
Zeus. Very well; some of your points are reasonable enough. We must put a check on these abuses, or they will get worse.
Whereas numerous persons both Greeks and barbarians being in no way entitled to the franchise have by means unknown procured their names to be enrolled on our register filling the Heavens with false Gods troubling our banquets with a tumultuous rout of miscellaneous polyglot humanity and causing a deficiency in the supplies of ambrosia and nectar whereby the price of the latter commodity owing to increased consumption has risen to four pounds the half-pint:
And whereas the said persons have presumptuously forced themselves into the places of genuine and old-established deities and in contravention of law and custom have further claimed precedence of the same deities upon the Earth:
It has seemed good to the Senate and People that an Assembly be convened upon Olympus at or about the time of the winter solstice for the purpose of electing a Commission of Inquiry the Commissioners to be duly-qualified Gods seven in number of whom three to be appointed from the most ancient Senate of Cronus and the remaining four from the twelve Gods of whom Zeus to be one and the said Commissioners shall before taking their seats swear by Styx according to the established form and Hermes shall summon by proclamation all such as claim admission to the Assembly to appear and bring with them sworn witnesses together with documentary proofs of their origin and all such persons shall successively appear before the Commissioners and the Commissioners after examination of their claims shall either declare them to be Gods or dismiss them to their own tombs and family vaults and if the Commissioners subsequently discover in Heaven any person so disqualified from entering such person shall be thrown into Tartarus and further each God shall follow his own profession and no other and it shall not be lawful either for Athene to heal the sick or for Asclepius to deliver oracles or for Apollo to practise three professions at once but only one either prophecy or music or medicine according as he shall select and instructions shall be issued to philosophers forbidding them either to invent meaningless names or to talk nonsense about matters of which they know nothing and if a temple and sacrificial honours have already been accorded to any disqualified person his statue shall be thrown down and that of Zeus or Hera or Athene or other God substituted in its place and his city shall provide him with a tomb and set up a pillar in lieu of his altar and against any person refusing to appear before the Commissioners in accordance with the proclamation judgement shall be given by default.
That, gentlemen, is the Bill.
Zeus. And a very equitable one it is, Momus. All in favour of this Bill hold up their hands! Or no: our opponents are sure to be in a majority. You may all go away now, and when Hermes makes the proclamation, every one must come, bringing with him complete particulars and proofs, with his father's and mother's names, his tribe and clan, and the reason and circumstances of his deification. And any of you who fail to produce your proofs will find it is no use having great temples on the Earth, or passing there for Gods; that will not help you with the Commissioners.
169:3 Amphiaraus, the father of Amphilochus, neither slew his own mother, Hypermnestra, nor procured her death. He did, however, procure the death of his wife, Eriphyle, at the hand of her son Alcmaeon; and in this remote sense was a matricide. It must be confessed that a great deal of the peculiar guilt of matricide evaporates in the process of explanation. The reader may prefer to suppose simply that Lucian has made a slip.
Lycinus. A Cynic
Ly. Give an account of yourself, my man. You wear a beard and let your hair grow; you eschew shirts; you exhibit your skin; your feet are bare; you choose a wandering, outcast, beastly life; unlike other people, you make your own body the object of your severities; you go from place to place sleeping on the hard ground where chance finds you, with the result that your old cloak, neither light nor soft nor gay to begin with, has a plentiful load of filth to carry about with it. Why is it all?
Cy. It meets my needs. It was easy to come by, and it gives its owner no trouble. It is the cloak for me.
Pray tell me, do you not call extravagance a vice? Ly. Oh, yes.
Cy. And economy a virtue?
Ly. Yes, again.
Cy. Then, if you find me living economically, and others extravagantly, why blame me instead of them?
Ly. I do not call your life more economical than other people's; I call it more destitute--destitution and want, that is what it is; you are no better than the poor who beg their daily bread.
Cy. That brings us to the questions, What is want, and what is sufficiency? Shall we try to find the answers? Ly. If you like, yes.
Cy. A man's sufficiency is that which meets his necessities; will that do?
Ly. I pass that.
Cy. And want occurs when the supply falls short of necessity--does not meet the need?
Cy. Very well, then, I am not in want; nothing of mine fails to satisfy my need.
Ly. How do you make that out?
Cy. Well, consider the purpose of anything we require; the purpose of a house is protection?
Cy. Clothing--what is that for? protection too, I think.
Cy. But now, pray, what is the purpose of the protection, in turn? the better condition of the protected, I presume.
Ly. I agree.
Cy. Then do you think my feet are in worse condition than yours?
Ly. I cannot say.
Cy. Oh, yes; look at it this way; what have feet to do?
Cy. And do you think my feet walk worse than yours, or than the average man's?
Ly. Oh, not that, I dare say.
Cy. Then they are not in worse condition, if they do their work as well.
Ly. That may be so.
Cy. So it appears that, as far as feet go, I am in no worse condition than other people.
Ly. No, I do not think you are.
Cy. Well, the rest of my body, then? If it is in worse condition, it must be weaker, strength being the virtue of the body. Is mine weaker?
Ly. Not that I see.
Cy. Consequently, neither my feet nor the rest of my body need protection, it seems; if they did, they would be in bad condition; for want is always an evil, and deteriorates the thing concerned. But again, there is no sign, either, of my, body's being nourished the worse for its nourishment's being of a common sort.
Ly. None whatever.
Cy. It would not be healthy, if it were badly nourished; for bad food injures the body.
Ly. That is true.
Cy. If so, it is for you to explain why you blame me and depreciate my life and call it miserable.
Ly. Easily explained. Nature (which you honour) and the Gods have given us the earth, and brought all sorts of good things out of it, providing us with abundance not merely for our necessities, but for our pleasures; and then you abstain from all or nearly all of it, and utilize these good things no more than the beasts. Your drink is water, just like theirs; you eat what you pick up, like a dog, and the dog's bed is as good as yours; straw is enough for either of you. Then your clothes are no more presentable than a beggar's. Now, if this sort of contentment is to pass for wisdom, God must have been all wrong in making sheep woolly, filling grapes with wine, and providing all our infinite variety of oil, honey, and the rest, that we might have food of every sort, pleasant drink, money, soft beds, fine houses, all the wonderful paraphernalia of civilization, in fact; for the productions of art are God's gifts to us too. To live without all these would be miserable enough even if one could not help it, as prisoners cannot, for instance; it is far more so if the abstention is forced upon a man by himself; it is then sheer madness.
Cy. You may be right. But take this case, now. A rich man, indulging genial kindly instincts, entertains at a banquet all sorts and conditions of men; some of them are sick, others sound, and the dishes provided are as various as the guests. There is one of these to whom nothing comes amiss; he has his finger in every dish, not only the ones within easy reach, but those some way off that were intended for the invalids; this though he is in rude health, has not more than one stomach, requires little to nourish him, and is likely to be upset by a surfeit. What is your opinion of this gentleman? is he a man of sense?
Ly. Why, no.
Cy. Is he temperate?
Ly. No, nor that.
Cy. Well, then there is another guest at the same table; he seems unconscious of all that variety, fixes on some dish close by that suits his need, eats moderately of it and confines himself to it without a glance at the rest. You surely find him a more temperate and better man than the other?
Cy. Do you see, or must I explain?
Cy. That the hospitable entertainer is God, who provides this variety of all kinds that each may have something to suit him; this is for the sound, that for the sick; this for the strong and that for the weak; it is not all for all of us; each is to take what is within reach, and of that only what he most needs.
Now you others are like the greedy unrestrained person who lays hands on everything; local productions will not do for you, the world must be your storehouse; your native land and its seas are quite insufficient; you purchase your pleasures from the ends of the earth, prefer the exotic to the home growth, the costly to the cheap, the rare to the common; in fact you would rather have troubles and complications than avoid them. Most of the precious instruments of happiness that you so pride yourselves upon are won only by vexation and worry. Give a moment's thought, if you will, to the gold you all pray for, to the silver, the costly houses, the elaborate dresses, and do not forget their conditions precedent, the trouble and toil and danger they cost--nay, the blood and mortality and ruin; not only do numbers perish at sea on their account, or endure miseries in the acquisition or working of them; besides that, they have very likely to be fought for, or the desire of them makes friends plot against friends, children against parents, wives against husbands.
And how purposeless it all is! embroidered clothes have no more warmth in them than others, gilded houses keep out the rain no better, the drink is no sweeter out of a silver cup, or a gold one for that matter, an ivory bed makes sleep no softer; on the contrary, your fortunate man on his ivory bed between his delicate sheets constantly finds himself wooing sleep in vain. And as to the elaborate dressing of food, I need hardly say that instead of aiding nutrition it injures the body and breeds diseases in it.
As superfluous to mention the abuse of the sexual instinct, so easily managed if indulgence were not made an object. And if madness and corruption were limited to that--; but men must take nowadays to perverting the use of everything they have, turning it to unnatural purposes, like him who insists on making a carriage of a couch.
Ly. Is there such a person?
Cy. Why, he is you; you for whom men are beasts of burden, you who make them shoulder your couch-carriages, and loll up there yourselves in luxury, driving your men like so many asses and bidding them turn this way and not that; this is one of the outward and visible signs of your happiness.
Again, when people use edible things not for food but to get dye out of--the murex-dyers, for instance--are they not abusing God's gifts?
Ly. Certainly not; the flesh of the murex can provide a pigment as well as food.
Cy. Ah, but it was not made for that. So you can force a mixing-bowl to do the work of a saucepan; but that is not what it was made for. However, it is impossible to exhaust these people's wrong-headedness; it is endless. And because I will not join them, you reproach me. My life is that of the orderly man I described; I make merry on what comes to hand, use what is cheap, and have no yearning for the elaborate and exotic.
Moreover, if you think that because I need and use but few things I live the life of a beast, that argument lands you in the conclusion that the Gods are yet lower than the beasts; for they' have no needs at all. But to clear your ideas on the comparative merits of great and small needs, you have only to reflect that children have more needs than adults, women than men, the sick than the well, and generally the inferior than the superior. Accordingly, the Gods have no needs, and those men the fewest who are nearest Gods.
Take Heracles, the best man that ever lived, a divine man, and rightly reckoned a God; was it wrong-headedness that made him go about in nothing but a lion's skin, insensible to all the needs you feel? No, he was not wrong-headed, who righted other people's wrongs; he was not poor, who was lord of land and sea. Wherever he went, he was master; he never met his superior or his equal as long as he lived. Do you suppose he could not get sheets and shoes, and therefore went as he did? absurd! he had self-control and fortitude; he wanted power, and not luxury.
And Theseus his disciple--king of all the Athenians, son of Posidon, says the legend, and best of his generation,--he too chose to go naked and unshod; it was his pleasure to let his hair and beard grow; and not his pleasure only, but all his contemporaries’; they were better men than you, and would no more have let you shave them than a lion would; soft smooth flesh was very well for women, they thought; as for them, they were men, and were content to look it; the beard was man's ornament, like the lion's, or the horse's mane; God had made certain beautiful and decorative additions to those creatures; and so he had to man, in the beard. Well, I admire those ancients and would fain be like them; I have not the smallest ' admiration for the present generation's wonderful felicity--tables! clothes! bodies artificially polished all over! not a hair to grow on any of the places where nature plants it!
My prayer would be that my feet might be just hoofs, like Chiron's in the story, that I might need bedclothes no more than the lion, and costly food no more than the dog. Let my sufficient bed be the whole earth, my house this universe, and the food of my choice the easiest procurable. May I have no need, I nor any that I call friend, of gold and silver. For all human evils spring from the desire of these, seditions and wars, conspiracies and murders. The fountain of them all is the desire of more. Never be that desire mine; let me never wish for more than my share, but be content with less.
Such are our aspirations--considerably different from other people's. It is no wonder that our get-up is peculiar, since the peculiarity of our underlying principle is so marked. I cannot make out why you allow a harpist his proper robe and get-up--and so the flute-player has his, and the tragic actor his--, but will not be consistent and recognize any uniform for a good man; the good man must be like every one else, of course, regardless of the fact that every one else is all wrong. Well, if the good are to have a uniform of their own, there can be none better than that which the average sensual man will consider most improper, and reject with most decision for himself.
Now my uniform consists of a rough hairy skin, a threadbare cloak, long hair, and bare feet, whereas yours is for all the world that of some minister to vice; there is not a pin to choose between you--the gay colours, the soft texture, the number of garments you are swathed in, the shoes, the sleeked hair, the very scent of you; for the more blessed you are, the more do you exhale perfumes like his. What value can one attach to a man whom one's nose would identify for one of those minions? The consequence is, you are equal to no more work than they are, and to quite as much pleasure. You feed like them, you sleep like them, you walk like them--except so far as you avoid walking by getting yourselves conveyed like parcels by porters or animals; as for me, my feet take me anywhere that I want to go. I can put up with cold and heat and be content with the works of God--such a miserable wretch am I--, whereas you blessed ones are displeased with everything that happens and grumble without ceasing; what isis intolerable, what is not you pine for, in winter for summer, in summer for winter, in heat for cold, in cold for heat, as fastidious and peevish as so many invalids; only their reason is to be found in their illness, and yours in your characters.
And then, because we occasionally make mistakes in practice, you recommend us to change our plan and correct our principles, the fact being that you in your own affairs go quite at random, never acting on deliberation or reason, but always on habit and appetite. You are no better than people washed about by a flood; they drift with the current, you with your appetites. There is a story of a man on a vicious horse that just gives your case. The horse ran away with him, and at the pace it was going at he could not get off. A man in the way asked him where he was off to; 'wherever this beast chooses,' was the reply. So if one asked you where you were bound for, if you cared to tell the truth you would say either generally, wherever your appetites chose, or in particular, where pleasure chose to-day, where fancy chose to-morrow, and where avarice chose another day; or sometimes it is rage, sometimes fear, sometimes any other such feeling, that takes you whither it will. You ride not one horse, but many at different times, all vicious, and all out of control. They are carrying you straight for pits and cliffs; but you do not realize that you are bound for a fall till the fall comes.
The old cloak, the shaggy hair, the whole get-up that you ridicule, has this effect; it enables me to live a quiet life, doing as I will and keeping the company I want. No ignorant uneducated person will have anything to say to one dressed like this; and the soft livers turn the other way as soon as I am in sight. But the refined, the reasonable, the earnest, seek me out; they are the men who seek me, because they are the men I wish to see. At the doors of those whom the world counts happy I do not dance attendance; their gold crowns and their purple I call ostentation, and them I laugh to scorn.
These externals that you pour contempt upon, you may learn that they are seemly enough not merely for good men, but for Gods, if you will look at the Gods' statues; do those resemble you, or me? Do not confine your attention to Greece; take a tour round the foreign temples too, and see whether the Gods treat their hair and beards like me, or let the painters and sculptors shave them. Most of them, you will find, have no more shirt than I have, either. I hope you will not venture to describe again as mean an appearance that is accepted as godlike.
THE PURIST PURIZED
Ly. Are you the man whose scent is so keen for a blunder, and who is himself blunder-proof?
Pur. I think I may say so.
Ly. I suppose one must be blunder-proof, to detect the man who is not so?
Ly. Do I understand that you are proof?
Pur. How could I call myself educated, if I made blunders at my age?
Ly. Well, shall you be able to detect a culprit, and convict him if he denies it?
Pur. Of course I shall.
Ly. Catch me out, then; I will make one just now.
Pur. Say on.
Ly. Why, the deed is done, and you have missed it.
Pur. You are joking, of course?
Ly. No, upon my honour. The blunder is made, and you none the wiser. Well, try again; but you are not infallible on these sort of things.
Ly. Again, the blunder made, and you unconscious.
Pur. How can that be, before you have opened your lips?
Ly. Oh yes, I opened them, and to a blunder; but you never see them. I quite doubt you seeing this one even.
Pur. Well, there is something very queer about it if I do not know a solecism when I hear it.
Ly. One begins to doubt, when a man has missed three.
Pur. Three? What do you mean?
Ly. A complete triolet of them.
Pur. You are certainly joking.
Ly. And you are as certainly a poor detective.
Pur. If you were to say something, one might have a chance.
Ly. Four chances you have had, and no result. It would have been a fine feather in your hat to have got them all.
Pur. Nothing fine about it; it is no more than I undertook.
Ly. Why, there you are again!
Ly. 'Feather in your hat'!
Pur. I don't know what you mean.
Ly. Precisely; you do not know. And now suppose you go first; you do not like following, that is what it is; you understand, if you chose.
Pur. Oh, I am willing enough; only you have not made any solecisms in the usual sense.
Ly. How about that last? Now watch me well, as you did not get me that time.
Pur. I cannot say I did.
Ly. Now for a rabbit, then; there, that ’s him! Has he got by? There he is, that ’s him, I tell you. Hims enough to fill a warren, if you don't wake up.
Pur. Oh, I am wide awake.
Ly. Well, they are gone.
Ly. The fact is, your too much learning renders you unconscious to solecisms; whatever case I take, it is always the same.
Pur. What you mean by that I am sure I don't know; but I have often caught people out in blunders.
Ly. Well, you will catch me about the time that you are a sucking child again. By the way, a babe laying in his cradle would hardly jar on your notions of grammar, if you have not yet got me.
Pur. Well, I am convinced.
Ly. Now, if we cannot detect blunders like these, we are not likely to know much about our own; you see, you have just missed another. Very well now, never again call yourself competent either to detect blunders or to avoid them.
This is my blunt way, you see. Socrates of Mopsus, with whom I was acquainted in Egypt, used to put his corrections more delicately, so as not to humiliate the offender. Here are some specimens:
What time do you set out on your travels?--What time? Oh, I see, you thought I started to-day.
The patrimonial income supplies me well enough.--Patrimonial? But your father is not dead?
So-and-so is a tribes-man of mine.--Oh, you are a savage, are you?
The fellow is a boozy.--Oh, Boozy was his mother's name, was it?
Worser luck I never knew.--Well, you need not make it worserer.
I always said he had a good ’eart.--Yes, quite an artist.
So glad to see you, old cock!--Come, allow me humanity.
Contemptuous fellow! I would not go near him.--If he were contemptible, it would not matter, I suppose.
He is the most unique of friends.--Good; one likes degrees in uniqueness.
How aggravating!--Indeed? what does it aggravate?
So I ascended up.--Ingenious man, doubling your speed like that.
I had to do it; I was in an engagement.--Like Xenophon's hoplites.
I got round him.--Comprehensive person.
They went to law, but were compounded.--You don't say they didn't get apart again?
He would apply the same delicate treatment to people unsound in their Attic.
'That's the truth of it,' said some one, 'between you and I.' Ah no, you will have to admit that you and me are wrong there.'
Another person giving a circumstantial account of a local legend said: 'So when she mingled with Heracles--' 'Without Heracles's mingling with her? '
He asked a man who told him that he must have a close crop, what his particular felony had been.
'There I quarrel,' said his opponent in an argument. 'it takes two to make a quarrel.'
When some one described his sick servant as undergoing torture, he asked, 'What for? what do they suppose they are going to get out of him?'
Some one was said to be going ahead in his studies. 'Let me see,' he said; 'it is Plato, I think, who calls that making progress.'
'Will we have a fine day?' 'If God shall.'
'Archaist, curse not thy friend' he retorted, to a man who called him curst instead of crusty.
A man once used the phrase, 'I was trying to save his face.' But is he in any danger of losing it?' asked Socrates.
'Chided,' said one man, 'chode,' another. He disclaimed all acquaintance with either form.
A person who volunteered 'but and if' was commended for his generosity.
Some one tried him with 'y-pleased'; 'no, no,' said he; 'that is too much of a good thing.'
'I expect him momently,' some one announced. 'A good phrase,' he said; 'so is "minutely"; we have excellent authority for "daily."'
'Look you!' said a man, meaning 'look' 'Yes, what am I to look you at?'
He took up a man who said, 'Yes, I can grapple with that,' meaning that he understood, with 'Oh, you are going to throw me, are you? how?'
'How shrill those fives are!' said some one. 'Oh, come now,' said Socrates; 'seditions and strives, but not drums and fives.'
'That man is heavily weighed,' one man observed. 'You are quite right; there is no such word as weighted.'
'He has thrived on it,' some one assured him. 'The people among whom he has thrived cannot be very particular.'
People were very fond of calling it at-one-ment. 'Yes, all right,' he would say; 'I know what it means.'
Mention being made of a black-hen, he supposed that would be the female of the grey-cock.
Some one said he had been eating sparrowgrass. 'You'll be trying groundsel next,' was his comment.
But enough of Socrates. Shall we have another match on the old lines? I will give you nothing but first-rate ones. Have your eyes open. You will surely be able to do it now, after hearing such a list of them.
Pur. I am by no means so sure of that. Proceed, however.
Ly. Not sure? well, but here you have the door broad open.
Pur. Say on.
Ly. I have said.
Pur. Nothing that I observed.
Ly. What, not observed 'broad open'?
Ly. Well, what is to happen, if you cannot follow now? Every man can crow on his own hay-cock, and I thought this was yours. Did you get that hay-cock? You don't seem to attend; look at the mutual help Socrates and I have just given you.
Pur. I am attending; but you are so sly with them.
Ly. Monstrous sly, is it not, to say 'mutual' instead of 'joint'? Well, that is settled up; but for your general ignorance, I defy any God short of Apollo to cure it. He gives council to all who ask it; but on you that council is thrown away.
Pur. Yes, I declare, so it was!
Ly. Perhaps one at a time are too few?
Pur. I think that must be it.
Ly. How did 'one are' get past you?
Pur Ah, I didn't see it, again.
Ly. By the way, do you know of any one who is on the look in for a wife?
Pur. What are you talking about?
Ly. Show me the man who is on the look in, and I will show you a solecist.
Pur. But what have I to do with solecists on the look in for wives?
Ly. Ah, if you knew that, you would be the man you pretend to be. So much for that. Now, if a man came to you and said that he had left his wife's home, would you stand that?
Pur. Of course I should, if he had provocation.
Ly. And if you caught him committing a solecism; would you stand it?
Pur. Certainly not.
Ly. Quite right too. We should never permit solecisms in a friend, but teach him better. Now, what are your feelings when you hear a man deprecating his own merits, and depreciating his friend's excessive gratitude?
Pur. Feelings? only that he shows a very proper feeling.
Ly. Then, as you cannot feel the difference between 'deprecate' and 'depreciate,' shall we conclude that you are an ignoramus?
Pur. Outrageous insolence!
Ly. Outrageous? I shall be, ere much, if I go on talking to you.--Now I should have said that 'ere much' was a blunder, but it does not strike you so.
Pur. Oh, stop, for goodness' sake! Look here, try this way; I want to get my profit out of it too.
Pur. Suppose you were to go through all the blunders you say I have missed, and tell me what is the right thing for each.
Ly. Good gracious, no; it would take us till midnight. No; you can look those out for yourself. Meanwhile, we had better take fresh ones, as we have only a quarter of an hour (by the way, never pronounce the 'h' in hour; that sounds dreadful). Then as to that outrage which you say I have committed upon you; if I were to speak of an outrage committed against you, that would be another thing.
Pur. Would it?
Ly. Yes; an outrage upon you must be committed upon you personally, in the shape of blows, interference with your liberty, or the like. An outrage against you is upon something that belongs to you; he who does an outrage upon your wife, child, friend, or slave, does it against you. This distinction, however, does not apply to inanimate things. An 'outrage against' is a legitimate phrase with them, as when Plato talks in the Symposium of an outrage against a proverb.
Pur. Ah, I see now.
Ly. Do you also see that the exchange of one for the other is a solecism?
Pur. Yes, I shall know that for the future.
Ly. And if a person were to use 'interchange' there instead of 'exchange,' what would you take him to mean?
Pur. Just the same.
Ly. Why, how can they be equivalent? Exchange is merely the substitution of one expression for another, the improper for the proper; whereas interchange involves a false statement 1.
Pur. I see now; exchange is the use of a loose instead of a precise expression, while interchange is the use of both expressions, each in the other's place.
Ly. These subtleties are not unpleasing. Similarly, when we are concerned with a person, it is in our own interest; but when we are concerned for him, it is in his It is true the phrases are sometimes confused, but there are those who observe the distinction; and it is as well to be on the safe side.
Pur. Quite true.
Ly. Now, can you tell me the difference between 'setting' and 'sitting,' or between 'be seated ' and 'sit'?
Pur. No; but I have heard you say that 'sit yourself ' is a barbarism.
Ly. Yes, quite so; but now I tell you that 'be seated ' is not the same as 'sit.'
Pur. Why, what may the difference be?
Ly. When a man is on his legs, you can only tell him to be seated; but if he is seated already, you can tell him to sit still
>Sit where thou art; we find us seats elsewhere.
It means 'remain sitting,' you see. Here again we have to say that it is a mistake to reverse the expressions. And as to 'set' and 'sit,' surely it is the whole difference between transitive and intransitive?
Pur. That is clear enough; go on; this is the way to teach.
Ly. Or the only way you can learn? Well, do you know what a historian is?
(The explanation of this point appears to have dropped out of the MSS.--Translators.)
Pur. Oh, yes, I quite see, after your lucid explanation.
Ly. Now I daresay you think servility and servitude are the same; but I am aware of a considerable difference between them.
Ly. The first depends on yourself, the other on some one else.
Pur. Quite right.
Ly. Oh, you will pick up all sorts of information, if you give up thinking you know more than you do.
Pur. I give it up from this moment.
Ly. Then we will break off for the present, and take the rest another time.
188:1 The words here represented by 'exchange' and 'interchange' are the Greek verbs from which are derived the grammarian's names for the (not very clearly distinguished) figures of speech, Hypallage and Enallage. We take it, however, that 'exchange' and 'interchange' give the distinction fairly in the present context, the former indicating a single, the latter a mutual substitution between two terms. For if one of the two differs from the other in being more comprehensive, as 'outrage against' is more comprehensive than 'outrage upon,' it is then true that the substitution of the more for the less comprehensive has no worse effect than making the statement lack precision, while the double substitution produces a false statement.
Let it be supposed that A kicks B's dog. Four descriptions are conceivable:--
(1) It is an outrage upon the dog.
(2) It is an outrage against B.
(3) It is an outrage against the dog.
(q) It is an outrage upon B.
The first two can both be stated; each is true, and each is precise. (3) can also be stated; 'exchange' has taken place; the more comprehensive terns has been substituted; the statement is true, but not precise. But if (3) and (4) are both stated, 'interchange' has taken place; the less comprehensive has been substituted for the more, as well as vice versa; and (4) is not only not precise, it is false.
Defence iii | Demonax iii | Demosthenes iv | Dependent Scholar ii | Dialogues of the Dead i | Dialogues of the Gods i | Dialogues of the Hetaerae iv | Dialogues of the Sea-Gods i | Dionysus iii | Dipsas iv | Disinherited ii | Double Indictment iii
Gods in Council iv
Way to write ii