Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Courage of Leaena: Pliny the Elder, Hist. Nat. VII.xxiii.87


Patientia corporis, ut est crebra sors calamitatum, innumera documenta peperit, clarissimum in feminis Leaenae meretricis, quae torta non indicavit Harmodium et Aristogitonem tyrannicidas, in viris Anaxarchi, qui simili de causa cum torqueretur praerosam dentibus linguam unam spem indici in tyranni os expuit.

--Pliny the Elder, Hist. Nat. VII.xxiii.87

There are countless examples of physical endurance; this occurs frequently in times of crisis. The most famous example of endurance in women is Leaena the courtesan, who while being tortured, did not betray the tyrant-slaying Harmodius & Aristogiton. The best example for men is Anaxarchus, who in a similar situation bit off his own tongue and spit it into the tyrant’s face in order to not confess under torture.



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

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