Saturday, November 30, 2019

The Courage of Leaena: Pliny, Nat. Hist. XXXIV.19.12

Tisicratis Leaena laudatur. [Paelex] haec lyrae cantu familiare Harmodio et Aristogitoni, consilia eorum de tyrannicidio, usque ad mortem excrutiata a tyraniis, non prodidit. Quamobrem Athenienses et honorem habere ei volentes, nec tamen [paelicem] celebrasse, animal nominis eius fecere: atque ut intelligeretur causa honoris, in opere linguam addi ab artifice vetuereunt. 

--Pliny the Elder, Nat. Hist. XXXIV.19.12

Many people praise Tisicrates' statue of Leaena. She was a courtesan and entertainer specializing in singing and the lyre who was close with Harmodius and Aristogeiton; she kept secret their plot to kill the tyrant, not betraying their plans even when tortured to the point of  death.  Because of her courage, the Athenians wanted to honor her. Not willing to celebrating her profession, they made a statue of an animal with her same name, i.e., a lioness. To further honor her courage, they made the artist make the statue lacking a tongue.*

* According to tradition, Leaena bit off her own tongue to thwart her interrogators.

Name:  Gaius Plinius Secundus
Date:  23 – 79 CE
Works:  Naturalis Historia*

Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans

 Pliny was an Italian-born Roman statesman and author who lived during the reigns of the early Roman emperors. He spent most of his life in service of his country; he ultimately gave his life in arranging the evacuation of the regions devastated by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE. His work, the Natural History, is a 37-volume collection of art, history, and science of the ancient world.
Early Roman Lit: through 2nd c BCE: Republican Rome: through 1st c. BCE; Golden Age: 70 BCE to 18 CE; Silver Age: 18 CE to 150 CE; Age of Conflict: 150 CE - 410 CE; Byzantine and Late Latin: after 410 CE