Saturday, December 30, 2023

Hestia, Honored and Unwed: Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, 21-31

Nec unquam venerandae nymphae Vestae Veneris opera accepta fuere: quam primam versutus Saturnus sustulit, deinde postremam Iovis sententia venerandam, quam ambiere sponsam Neptunus & Apollo.At illa noluit, verum repulit rigide. Magnum enim iuravit iusiurandum, quod sane perfectum est, Iovis patris caput tangens, ut perpetua virginitate fruieretur diva dearum. At hanc pater Iupiter nuptiarum loco, pulchro donavit dono: atque media domo sedet pinguedinum carpens, ac omnibus in deorum templis prae ceteris honore colitur, ac apud mortales omnes deorum legatione fungitur

οὐδὲ μὲν αἰδοίῃ κούρῃ ἅδε ἔργ᾽ Ἀφροδίτης,

Ἱστίῃ, ἣν πρώτην τέκετο Κρόνος ἀγκυλομήτης,

αὖτις δ᾽ ὁπλοτάτην, βουλῇ Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο,

πότνιαν, ἣν ἐμνῶντο Ποσειδάων καὶ Ἀπόλλων:

ἣ δὲ μαλ᾽ οὐκ ἔθελεν, ἀλλὰ στερεῶς ἀπέειπεν:

ὤμοσε δὲ μέγαν ὅρκον, ὃ δὴ τετελεσμένος ἐστίν,

ἁψαμένη κεφαλῆς πατρὸς Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο,

παρθένος ἔσσεσθαι πάντ᾽ ἤματα, δῖα θεάων.

τῇ δὲ πατὴρ Ζεὺς δῶκε καλὸν γέρας ἀντὶ γάμοιο

30καὶ τε μέσῳ οἴκῳ κατ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ἕζετο πῖαρ ἑλοῦσα.

πᾶσιν δ᾽ ἐν νηοῖσι θεῶν τιμάοχός ἐστι

καὶ παρὰ πᾶσι βροτοῖσι θεῶν πρέσβειρα τέτυκται.


--Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, 21-31 Translated into Latin by Raphael Regio Volterranus (1541) 

Nor are the plots of Aphrodite welcome to the sacred virgin Hestia.

She was both the firstborn and youngest of wily Chronus,

Revered by Aegis-wearing Zeus,

Wooed by both Poseidon & Apollo.

But she did not want to get married,

And even stubbornly rejected them.

She swore a great oath, one that was approved by Zeus himself.

She touched Father Zeus’ head,

Vowing to remain a Virgin throughout eternity.

And Father Zeus gave to her, in lieu of a wedding,

A great gift: she would sit in the house at the head of the table.

She has honor in all of the temples of all of the gods

And is revered by all mortal men.


Saturday, December 9, 2023

I Do Not Owe The State Children: Epaminondas to the Thebans, John Tzetzes Hist. 12.412ff

Epaminondas imperator Thebanorum existens,

ut lugebatur mortuus perdolenter a Thebanis

Epaminonda (dicentibus) mortuus es, tecum & Thebae

filium in vita non linquens, filium ex tuis seminibus.

Respondens ad ipsos, haec et moriens dicit:

Haud vero haud morior orbus, sed fecundus pater, o Thebani:

duas enim reliqui ex me filias,

illam in Leuctris victoriam, & illam Mantinaeae.

--Joannes Tzetzes, Historiarum 12.412ff; Translated into Latin by Paulus Lacisius (1546) [Greek text forthcoming]

 

Epaminondas was an excellent leader of the Thebans.

When he died, he was excessively mourned by them;

They reproached him, saying, “When you die, Thebes will die with you,

For you did not leave behind a son from your loins.”

As he died, he responded to them:

“I do not die childless, fellow countrymen;

Instead, I am a prolific father!

For I leave behind my two daughters,

The victory at Leuctra, and the victory at Mantinea!”

 

 

 


Saturday, December 2, 2023

Christianizing the Myth of Achilles: John Tzetzes' Histories 8.793ff

Achillem Thessalum, velut ex patria Phthia,

Lycomedis recenter nuptiis accipientem puellam

nomine Deidamiam, ex qua filius Pyrrhus,

Ut cum hac commoratus est nuptiis atque thalamo,

fabulas quidam finxerunt, quod Hectoris timore

Thetis hunc abscondit Lycomedis domo,

velut puellam induta veste muliebri,

ne forte profectus cum exercitu Graecorum, occumberet.

 --Joannes Tzetzes, Historiarum --8.793ff; Translated into Latin by Paulus Lacisius (1546) [Greek text forthcoming]

 

Just because the Thessalian Achilles,

traveling from his homeland Phthia,

And marrying Lycomedes’ daughter Deidamia

[who bore his son Pyrrhus]

Spent time honeymooning with his bride,

 Some people made up stories

That out of fear of Hector

Thetis hid him in Lycomedes’ home,

Clothing him in women’s clothing as if he were a girl

So he wouldn’t set out with the Greek army and die in Troy.

  

 

 

 


Saturday, November 25, 2023

M/M: Achilles and Patroclus, John Tzetzes, Hist. 8.182 & 10.336

De iis quae spectrum Patrocli ad Achillem dixit, non me viventem neglegis, sed mortuum

In Iliade Homerus spectrum Patrocli indtroducit,

eo quod adhuc insepultum tentoriis illud iaceret,

ut sepeliret adhortans ipsum Achillem,

Dicens illam sententiam quam Homerus inscribit

Heroicis in carminibus sic ipsa proferens:

non quidem de me vivo tristeris, sed mortuum

sepeli me, ut quam citissime portas Orci pertranseam.

Procul enim me arcent animae, simulachra mortourm." (8.182)

 

De Hoc, Quae Utinam non Fuisset

Patroclo ab Hectore occiso in bello

Antilochus Nestoris [filius] destinatus est a Graecis

ut [puero] atque Achilli calamitatem nunciaret.

Qui cum pervenisset ad eum, sic ad verbum dicit:

Heu Pelei fili prudentis, equidomitoris,

audies nuncium, qui utinam non esset,

Iacet Patroclus, pro eius vero cadavere sand pugnant

Nudo, verum arma habet galeatus Hector. (10.336)

 --Joannes Tzetzes, Historiarum 8.182, 10.336; Translated into Latin by Paulus Lacisius (1546) [Greek text forthcoming]

 

Concerning What the Ghost of Patroclus told Achilles, “You didn’t neglect me when I was alive, but now you neglect me when I’m dead”

In Homer’s Iliad, the author portrays the ghost of Patroclus  

At the time when his body still lay unburied in their tent.

Patroclus encouraged Achilles to bury his body,

Saying the thing that Homer wrote,

Quoted in the heroic epic:

“You never hurt me when I was alive,

But you do so now that I am dead.

Bury me so I can cross over through the gates of death

For the spirits of the dead are keep me from entering.”


Concerning the Thing That Should Not Have Happened

When Patroclus was killed by Hector in war

Antilochus [Nestor’s son] was selected by the Greeks

To tell Achilles what had happened to his boyfriend.

When he met up with Achilles, he said the following:

“Alas, son of Peleus, breaker of horses,   

Listen to the news which should not have happened:

Patroclus lies dead! They’re fighting over his body.

His corpse lies naked—stripped of armor!—and

helmet-wearing Hector has his armor.”


Saturday, November 18, 2023

M/M: Gone, but not forgotten: John Tzetzes Analyzes the Deaths of Hyacinthus & Narcissus, Hist. 1.11

 Young people who died before reaching societal milestones of adulthood would be euphemistically married to divinities as a way of handling the grief of their lost potential. There are countless references to young people being "snatched by the nymphs," or becoming "brides of Persephone / Hades." In this passage, the Byzantine author John Tzetzes explains how the transformations of Narcissus and Hyacinthus were used to help alleviate the grief of their loved ones.


Hyacinthus Cynorti quidem erat frater venustus.

Filius Amycli autem patris, matris Diomedae,

ex terra virorum nobilium Laconum Amycleensium.

Apollo vero et Zephyrus adolescentem certatem sepe

et sane olim disco ludente Apolline cum hoc, scribant.

Vehementer cum efflasset zephyrus, discum circumvertit.

Vertice autem pulchrum cum percussisset, occidit iuvenem.

Terra autem florem eiusdem nominis reddidit pro iuvene,

quasi Narcissum miserata ob pulchritudinem.

Sed narcissi clara est allegoria.

Quia cum cecidisset in aquas iuvenis, praefocatus est.

Pulchritudinem vero extollentes, luctus solatio.

Dicunt cecidisse in aquas, umbrae suae desiderio.

Plantarum autem ficio clara, sicut et arborum omnium,

et stellarum cum ipsis atque istiusmodi.

Morientium enim affines, nutrientes desiderium horum,

ista nominarunt nominibus illorum.

Hyacinthi autem dicunt rivales, quos dixi,

ostendentes excellentem iuvenis venustatem,

quod gavisus sit Sol, oblectatus iuvene:

et ventorum flatus pro deliciis habuerint hunc.

Ut vero cum iuvene aliquo disco ludens interfectus est,

vento subvertente in verticem discum,

finxerunt quod Zephyrus invidens Soli

educit hunc e vita, atque e splendido lucifero.

 --Joannes Tzetzes, Historiarum 1.241 / 1.11; Translated into Latin by Paulus Lacisius (1546) [Greek text forthcoming]


Hyacinthus was the attractive brother of Cynortus.

He was the son of Amyclus and Diomeda,

From Lacon, the noble land of the Amyclean clan.

Both Apollo and Zephyr often competed for the youth’s affection.

And—they say—once, while Apollo and Hyacinthus were practicing the discus

Zephyr sent forth a violent wind, and changed the course of the discus.

When it struck the beautiful youth in the head, it killed him.

The Earth created a flower in memory of the youth, taking his name,

Mourning his beauty the same way she mourned Narcissus.

But the allegory of Narcissus is apparent:

When the youth fell into the water, he drowned.

As a consolation for their grief,

Those who praised the youth’s beauty

Said he fell in the water, struck by longing for his own beauty.  

Famous transformation tales of plants, of trees of all kinds,

And of constellation myths are similar to this.

The kin of the deceased, transforming their loss,

Name these things after their lost kin.

Just as I’ve stated, they say that the rivals of Hyacinthus [Apollo & Zephyr]

Reveal the extreme beauty of the youth,

Since the Sun reveled in the delight of Hyacinthus,

And the Wind itself also vied for his affection.

When the youth was killed while exercising with a discus,

They made up a story that the Wind, jealous of the Sun,

Took Hyacinthus away from his life—and from the Sun.  


Saturday, November 11, 2023

M/M: The Watery End of Narcissus, Johannes Tzetzes, Historiarum 1.235ff

De Narcisso

Narcissus, Lacon venator, amator venustatis erat

in Hora aestiva autem olim cum situisset, post venationem,

ut incurvatur ad fontem, vidit se speciosum,

amat umbram suam, ut alterius iuvenis.

cupiens autem hanc apprehendere, humidam haurit mortem.

[Greek text forthcoming]

--Joannes Tzetzes, Historiarum 1.235 / 1.9; Translated into Latin by Paulus Lacisius (1546) 

 

Narcissus

Narcissus, a Laconian hunter, was a lover of beauty.

One time during the summer, when he was thirsty after a long day’s hunt

He knelt by a spring, saw his own beauty,

Fell in love with his own shadow, believing it was another man.

He tried to embrace him, but only caught a watery demise.  

Saturday, November 4, 2023

M/M: The Sacred Band of Thebes, Athenaeus, Deipno. 13.12

Ποντιανὸς δὲ Ζήνωνα ἔφη τὸν Κιτιέα ὑπολαμβάνειν τὸν Ἔρωτα θεὸν εἶναι φιλίας καὶ ἐλευθερίας, ἔτι δὲ καὶ ὁμονοίας παρασκευαστικόν, ἄλλου δὲ οὐδενός. διὸ καὶ ἐν τῇ Πολιτείᾳ ἔφη τὸν Ἔρωτα θεὸν εἶναι συνεργὸν ὑπάρχοντα πρὸς τὴν τῆς πόλεως σωτηρίαν. ὁ δὲ παρὰ Θηβαίοις ἱερὸς λόχος καλούμενος συνέστηκεν ἐξ ἐραστῶν καὶ ἐρωμένων, τὴν τοῦ θεοῦ σεμνότητα ἐμφαίνων, ἀσπαζομένων θάνατον ἔνδοξον ἀντ᾽ αἰσχροῦ καὶ ἐπονειδίστου βίου. 

Tum Potianus, Zenonem Citieum, aiebat, existimare Amorem Deum esse, Amicitiae &Libertatis & Concordiae auctorem, neque ei aliud esse negotium. Quare etiam in Republica scripsit, esse Amorem Deum, adiutorem ad salutem civitatis  Apud Thebanos sacra cohors, quae vocabatur, ex amatoribus & amasiis composita, maiestatem Dei huius declarabat, quum gloriosam mortem turpi & probrosae vitae anteferrent. 

--Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 13.12, Translated into Latin by Johannes Schweighaeuser (1805)


Pontianos said that Zenon from Citium declared that Eros was the god of friendship and liberty, the provider of harmony, and nothing else. He wrote in The Republic that Eros was a god and an assistant in the safety of the community….In Thebes, the so-called “Sacred Band” composed of lovers, demonstrates the majesty of the god of love, for these soldiers welcome an honorable death over living with dishonor.

 

ATHENAEUS

MAP:

Name:  Athenaeus

Date:  2nd c. CE

Works:  Deipnosophists

 

REGION  4


BIO:

Timeline:

 Athenaeus was a scholar who lived in Naucratis (modern Egypt) during the reign of the Antonines. His fifteen volume work, the Deipnosophists, are invaluable for the amount of quotations they preserve of otherwise lost authors, including the poetry of Sappho.

 ROMAN GREEK LITERATURE

 


Friday, October 27, 2023

W/W: Sappho says 'thanks, but no thanks' to Anacreon, Anacreon fr. 358

σφαίρῃ δεῦτέ με πορφυρέῃ

βάλλων χρυσοκόμης Ἔρως

νήνι ποικιλοσαμβάλῳ

συμπαίζειν προκαλεῖται.

ἣ δ᾽ ῾ἐστὶν γὰρ ἀπ᾽ εὐκτίτου

Λέσβοὐ τὴν μὲν ἐμὴν κόμην

῾λ̔ευκὴ γάῤ καταμέμφεται,

πρὸς δ᾽ ἄλλην τινὰ χάσκει.


Globo, age, me purpureo

petens auricomus Amor,

huic, varie me pransans,

ut colludam provocat.

at illa, est enim ex bene habitata

Lesbo, meam quidem comam,

cana cum sit, vituperat,

et alli cuipiam inhiat. 

--Anacreon, fr. 358 (preserved in Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 13.72); translated into Latin by Johannes Schweighaeuser (1805)

 

Golden Haired Love

Attacked me with a purple ball

He keeps trying to get me

To play with him.

But she* who inhabits posh Lesbos

Takes one look at my silver hair,

Laughs at me

And swoons over someone else—a girl!


* According to Athenaeus, Anacreon wrote this poem to Sappho, because he was smitten by her

 



Friday, October 20, 2023

M/M: The Sparkle of His Eyes: Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 13.17

Young people who died before reaching societal milestones of adulthood would be euphemistically married to divinities as a way of handling the grief of their lost potential. There are countless references to young people being "snatched by the nymphs," or becoming "brides of Persephone / Hades." Endymion, a youth forever locked in a coma-like sleep, is one of these archetypes. In this version, he is courted by the god Sleep instead of the goddess Selene.



Λικύμνιος δ᾽ ὁ Χῖος τὸν Ὕπνον φήσας ἐρᾶν τοῦ Ἐνδυμίωνος οὐδὲ καθεύδοντος αὐτοῦ κατακαλύπτει τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς, ἀλλὰ ἀναπεπταμένων τῶν βλεφάρων κοιμίζει τὸν ἐρώμενον, ὅπως διὰ παντὸς ἀπολαύῃ τῆς τοῦ θεωρεῖν ἡδονῆς. λέγει δ᾽ οὕτως :

Ὕπνος δὲ χαίρων

ὀμμάτων αὐγαῖς ἀναπεπταμένοις ὄσσοις ἐκοίμιζεν

κοῦρον.

Licymnius vero Chius, cum Somnum dixisset amare Endymionem, ait, nec claudere eum illi oculos, sed sopire amasium apertis palpebris; quo constanter fruatur voluptate eius adspiciendi. Verba poetae haec sunt:

Somnus gaudens oculorum

splendore, apertis oculis

sopivit puerum.

--Athenaeus Deipnosophistae 13.17, translated into Latin by Johannes Schweighaeuser (1805)

Licymnius the Chian said that Hypnos [Sleep] loved Endymion, and wouldn’t close the youth’s eyes when he fell asleep, but allowed his lover to sleep with his eyes open, so that he could enjoy gazing upon them.  He sang,

Sleep, rejoicing in the sparkle 

in the youth’s open eyes,

Lulled his boyfriend to sleep.


Saturday, October 14, 2023

M/M: Like Superheroes to Those In Need: Ptolemy and Galetes, Aelian VH 1.30

Πτολεμαῖος ὁ βασιλεὺς ἐρώμενον εἶχε Γαλέτην ὄνομα, ἰδεῖν κάλλιστον. ἀμείνων δὲ ἦν ἄρα τούτῳ τῷ μειρακίῳ ἡ γνώμη τῆς μορφῆς. πολλάκις γοῦν αὐτῷ καὶ ὁ Πτολεμαῖος ἐμαρτύρει, καὶ ἔλεγεν ῾ὦ [p. 13] ἀγαθὴ κεφαλή, κακοῦ μὲν οὐδεπώποτε οὐδενὶ γέγονας αἴτιος, πολλοῖς δὲ καὶ πολλὰ ἀγαθὰ προυξένησας.᾿ ὅ μὲν οὖν ἵππευε σὺν τῷ βασιλεῖ τὸ μειράκιον: ἰδὼν δὲ πόρρωθεν ἀγομένους τινὰς τὴν ἐπὶ θανάτῳ, οὐ ῥᾳθύμως εἶδεν, ἀλλ᾽ ἔφη πρὸς τὸν Πτολεμαῖον ῾ὦ βασιλεῦ, ἐπεὶ κατά τινα δαίμονα τῶν ἀγομένων ἀγαθὸν ἐπὶ ἵππων ἐτύχομεν ὄντες, φέρε, εἴ σοι δοκεῖ, τὴν ἔλασιν ἐπιτείναντες καὶ συντονώτερον ἐπιδιώξαντες Διόσκοροι τοῖς δειλαίοις γενώμεθα, σωτῆρες ἐσθλοὶ κἀγαθοὶ παραστάται, τοῦτο δὴ τὸ λεγόμενον ἐπὶ τῶν θεῶν τούτων. ὃ δὲ ὑπερησθεὶς αὐτοῦ τῇ χρηστότητι καὶ τὸ φιλοίκτιρμον ὑπερφιλήσας, καὶ ἐκείνους ἔσωσε καὶ ἐπὶ πλέον προσέθηκε τῷ φίλτρῳ τοῦ κατ᾽ αὐτὸν ἔρωτος.

 

Ptolemaeus rex amasium habebat Galetem, pulcherrima forma praeditum. Animus vero iuvenis longe formam superabat: persaepe igitur etiam Ptolemaeus testimonium ei perhibebat, inquiens, o benignum caput! nulli tu unquam ullius auctor incommodi fuisti, sed contra multis multa bona procurasti. Hic aliquando cum Rege adolescens equitabat. Quum vero procul aliquos ad supplicium trahi vieret, non oscitanter in haec verba regem affatus est: sed o rex, inquie ad Ptolemaeum, quandoquidem prospera quadam fontium istorum fortuna, in equis nunc sumus, age, si tibi gratum est, calcaribus admotis & velocius persequentes appareamus miseris quasi Dioscuri salvatores & opiferi salutem ferentes, quod communi proverbio de his diis vulgatum est. ille vero maxmimam voluptatem capiens ex eius bonitate & propensum ad misericordiam animum amplectens, tum nocentes servavit, tum amoris vim, quo cum deperibat, confirmavit & auxit.

--Aelian, VH 1.30; Translated into Latin by Joannis Schefferi [Second Edition 1662]


King Ptolemy had a boyfriend named Galetes, who was exceedingly good looking, but the youth’s intelligence was even better than his good looks. Often Ptolemy would declare, “O noble mind, you are have never brought evil upon anyone; rather, you have bestowed many good deeds upon many people.”

One day the youth was riding with the king when he spotted in the distance some men being led to their execution. Unable to bear the sight, he told Ptolemy, “Oh king, since some blessed spirit has led us to be on horseback at this moment, and able to be helpful for those men, (if you’d like) let’s whip up the horses and charge forward to catch up with them, appearing to them as superheroes like the Dioscuri,* and help them out!”

Ptolemy was overjoyed by Galetes’ sympathy, and not only saved the men’s lives, but also fell even more in love with the youth.

* The Dioscuri, "sons of Zeus," are Castor & Pollux, the twin brothers of Helen & Clytemnestra who later become the constellation Gemini

Friday, October 6, 2023

The Theft of A Statue of Sappho: Cicero, In Verr. 2.4.126,127

[126] Nam Sappho quae sublata de prytanio est dat tibi iustam excusationem, prope ut concedendum atque ignoscendum esse videatur. Silanionis opus tam perfectum, tam elegans, tam elaboratum quisquam non modo privatus sed populus potius haberet quam homo elegantissimus atque eruditissimus, Verres? Nimirum contra dici nihil potest.  ...

[127] Atque haec Sappho sublata quantum desiderium sui reliquerit, dici vix potest. Nam cum ipsa fuit egregie facta, tum epigramma Graecum pernobile incisum est in basi, quod iste eruditus homo et Graeculus, qui haec subtiliter iudicat, qui solus intellegit, si unam litteram Graecam scisset, certe non sustulisset. Nunc enim quod scriptum est inani in basi declarat quid fuerit, et id ablatum indicat.

--Cicero, In Verrem 2.4.126

  

The statue of Sappho that you took from the municipal building was such a perfect fit for you that it almost seemed like you were entitled to it.  For the sculpture crafted by Silanian was so perfect, so delicate, and so intricate that not just anybody—not just any country—could have it except the most polished and learned person:  you, Verres! Of course it would make sense for you to take it...[127]

  

But words cannot express how much loss was felt from the theft of the Sappho statue. For not only was the statue exquisitely carved, but there was also a famous Greek epigram of hers inscribed on the base, which any learned scholar of Greece with any amount of sense would have taken it too if he actually understood Greek. Now only the inscription remains, an empty base showcasing what used to be on the pedestal before it was stolen.


Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Poems from the Codex Salmasianus on Narcissus

Asexuality in men was often portrayed negatively in Greco-Roman myth, as Greek and Roman men were expected to marry and continue their family line. Just as Hippolytus' rejection of Aphrodite / Venus / physical love was punished, so too is Narcissus punished for his rejection of Echo. Narcissus is often coded asexual by various authors, as he rejects all men and women suitors (not just Echo). His 'love of himself' is a symbolic rejection of romantic and physical love.


Se Narcissus amat captus lenonibus undis.

Cui si tollis aquas, non est ubi saeviat ignis.

Captivated by the still waters, Narcissus fell in love with himself.

But if you removed the water, he wouldn’t be burning with love.

--Codex Salmasianus 219

 

Invenit proprios mediis in fontibus ignes

Et sua deceptum urit imago virum.

[Narcissus] found fire in the midst of water

And his own reflection burns for a deceived lover.

--Codex Salmasianus 145

 

Ardet amore sui flagrans Narcissus in undis,

Cum modo perspicua se specualtur aqua.

As he catches sight of himself in the clear water,

Narcissus burns for love of himself.

--Codex Salmasianus 146

 

Dum putat esse parem vitreis Narcissus in undis,

Solus amore perit, dum putat esse parem.

Narcissus thought he’d found his match

In the still pool

But he died, lovesick, alone

For he thought he’d found his match.

--Codex Salmasianus 39

 

 


Friday, September 22, 2023

Three Friends in One! Codex Salmasianus #428

Roman men often had deep, loving and affectionate friendships with their peers. There was no shame or stigma in expressing love and support to one another.


De tribus amicis bonis

Serranum Vegetumque simul iunctumque

Herogenem, caros aspice Geryonas.

Esse putas fratres, tanta pietate fruuntur

immo neges: sic est in tribus unus amor.

Triga mihi paucos inter dilecta sodales,

triga sodalicii pars bene magna mei!

--Seneca the Younger, as recorded in Codex Salmasianus 428

The Three Good Friends

Check out Serranus, Vegetus and Herogenes,

A darling three-in-one Geryon.*

They’re so close to each other,

You’d think they were brothers;

There’s one love shared among the three.

Of the few people I call friends, this trio is so very dear to me,

This trio is such a large part of my social life!

 

* According to Greek mythology, Geryon was a three-bodied giant whom Hercules defeated.


SENECA THE YOUNGER

MAP:

Name:  Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Date:  4 BCE – 65 CE

Works:  Epistulae Morales

               De Clementia

               Phaedra, etc.

 

REGION  2




BIO:

Timeline:

 Originally from Corduba, Hispania, Seneca the Younger was a Roman statesman with a tumultuous career. First exiled to the island of Corsica by the emperor Claudius, he was later recalled and became the emperor Nero’s mentor and tutor. Seneca wrote prolifically in several genres, including Stoic philosophy and Roman tragedies. He was ultimately put to death by the emperor Nero for his participation in the Pisonian Conspiracy of 65 CE.

 SILVER AGE LATIN





 

 

 

 

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

M/M: Love will Save Us From A Tyrant: Aelian, Hist. Var. 2.4

De amore Charitonis & Melanippi, & tyranni erga ipsos miseratione

Phalaridis factum recensebo vobis, alienum id quidem ab eius moribus. Nam humanitatem quandam prae se fert singularem, & idcirco ei non convenire videtur. Chariton erat quidam Agrigentinus, pulchritudinis amator, & nimius in adolescentium amore. Hic ardenti desiderio Melanippum amabat, qui etiam ipse Agrigentinus erat, animum gerens honestum, & elegantia formae praestans. Hunc Melanippum laeserat quadam re Phalaris. Quum enim iudicio cum amico Phalaridis contenderet, tyrannus mandavit, ut accusatione desisteret. Qui quum non obediret, extremum periculum ei ministratus est, nisi morem gereret. Itaque vi coactus lite abstinuit. Magistratus autem, qui sub Phalaride, irritatam iudicii sententiam fecerunt. Quod adolescens aegre ferens, iniuriam sibi fieri dixit & ei a quo amabatur, suam iram prodidit atque confessus est Melanippus, rogavitque ut sibi adiumento esset, ad insidias in tyrannum intendendas. Alios etiam adolescentes in societatem adscisciscere cogitavit, quos ad eiusmodi facinus commodissimos paratissimusque esse scirent. Chariton, quum insaniam eius ac furorem cerneret, & ab ira incensum rapi, atque sciret neminem civium in hanc rem consensurum esse metu tyranni, se quoque; dudum aiebat hoc agitasse, & omnem diligentiam semper adhibere, ut patriam a servitute praesenti in libertatem vidicaret: sed periculose haec multis enunciari & communicari. Quamobrem orare, ut sibi de his rebus penitius considerandi curam permittat, & tempus idoneum ad obeundum facinus capere sinat. Concessit adolescens. Proinde Chariton, omnem hius ausi conatu in se assumens, amasium in societatem sceleris assumere nolebat: ut si deprehenderetur, & manifestum fieret negotium, ipse solus poenas dependeret, non etiam amasium periculi faceret participe. Sumpta igitur sica, quum opportunum videbatur, adversus tyrannum ruebat. Nec vero clam esse potuit, sed deprehensus est a satellitibus, qui in eiusmodi res summo studio intenti erant. Coniectus autem in carcerem. & quaestionibus examinatus ad prodendos coniuratores, fortiter toleravit, & passus est tormentorusm saevitiamque atque vim. Postqauam vero longum id fuit. Melanippus ad Phalarim accessit & se non tantum socium huius consilii, sed etiam auctorem insidiarum. Charitoni fuisse confessus est. Percontante rege, qua causa impulsus hoc fecisset, narravit ei rem omnem a principio, de accusandi potestate sibi adempta, atque haec sibi molesta & indigna vis esse fassus est. Miratus igitur tyrannus, utrumque liberum dimisit: sed ea lege atque conditione, ut eodem die non solum ex Agrigentinorum urbe, verum etiam e Sicilia excederent. Nihilominus tamen eis permittebat, ut ex suis possessionibus & facultatibus debitum tructum caperent. Hos postmodoum & eorum amicitiam Pythia celebravit his carminibus :

Humana genti auctores caelestis amoris,

et Chariton felix & Melanippus erat.

oraculo horum amorem divinam & caelestem appellante.


Φαλάριδος ὑμῖν ἔργον οὐ μάλα ἐκείνῳ σύνηθες εὶπεῖν ἐθέλω: τὸ δὲ ἔργον φιλανθρωπίαν ἄμαχον ὁμολογεῖ, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο ἀλλότριον ἐκείνου δοκεῖ. Χαρίτων ἦν Ἀκραγαντῖνος φιλόκαλος ἄνθρωπος καὶ περὶ τὴν ὥραν τὴν τῶν νέων ἐσπουδακὼς δαιμονίως: διαπύρως δὲ ἠράσθη μάλιστα Μελανίππου Ἀκραγαντίνου καὶ ἐκείνου καὶ τὴν ψυχὴν ἀγαθοῦ καὶ τὸ κάλλος διαφέροντος. τοῦτον ἐλύπησέ τι Φάλαρις τὸν Μελάνιππον: δικαζομένῳ γὰρ αὐτῷ πρός τινα τῶν ἑταίρων αὐτοῦ τοῦ Φαλάριδος προσέταξεν ὁ τύραννος τὴν γραφὴν καταθέσθαι. τοῦ δὲ μὴ πειθομένου ὃ δὲ ἠπείλησε τὰ ἔσχατα δράσειν αὐτὸν μὴ ὑπακούσαντα.  καὶ ἐκεῖνος μὲν παρὰ τὴν δίκην ἐκράτησεν ἀνάγκῃ προστάξαντος τοῦ Φαλάριδος, οἱ δὲ ἄρχοντες τὴν γραφὴν τοῦ ἀγῶνος ἠφάνισαν. βαρέως δὲ ἐπὶ τούτοις ὁ νεανίσκος ἤνεγκεν ὑβρίσθαι λέγων, καὶ ὡμολόγει τὴν ὀργὴν τὴν ἑαυτοῦ πρὸς τὸν ἐραστήν, καὶ ἠξίου κοινωνὸν αὐτὸν γενέσθαι τῆς ἐπιθέσεως τῆς κατ᾽ αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἄλλους δὲ ἔσπευδε προσλαβεῖν τῶν νεανίσκων, οὓς μάλιστα ᾔδει περὶ τὴν τοιαύτην πρᾶξιν θερμοτάτους. ὁρῶν δὲ αὐτὸν ὁ Χαρίτων ἐνθουσιῶντα καὶ ὑπὸ τῆς ὀργῆς ἀναφλεγόμενον, καὶ γινώσκων ὅτι τῶν πολιτῶν οὐδεὶς αὐτοῖς συλλήψεται δέει τῷ ἐκ τοῦ τυράννου, καὶ αὐτὸς ἔφη πάλαι τοῦτο ἐπιθυμεῖν καὶ σπεύδειν ἐκ παντὸς τὴν πατρίδα ῥύσασθαι τῆς δουλείας τῆς καταλαβούσης: ἀσφαλὲς δὲ μὴ εἶναι πρὸς πολλοὺς τὰ τοιαῦτα ἐκφέρειν. ἠξίου δὴ τὸν Μελάνιππόν οἱ συγχωρῆσαι ἀκριβέστερον ὑπὲρ τούτων διασκέψασθαι καὶ ἐᾶσαι παραφυλάξαι τὸν χρόνον τὸν ἐπιτήδειον ἐς τὴν πρᾶξιν. συνεχώρησε τὸ μειράκιον. ἐφ᾽ ἑαυτοῦ τοίνυν ὁ Χαρίτων βαλόμενος τὸ πᾶν τόλμημα, καὶ κοινωνὸν αὐτοῦ μὴ θελήσας παραλαβεῖν τὸν ἐρώμενον, ἵν᾽ εἰ καταφωραθείη, αὐτὸς ὑπέχοι τὴν δίκην, ἀλλὰ μὴ καὶ ἐκεῖνον ἐς ταὐτὰ ἐμβάλοι, ἡνίκα οἱ ἐδόκει καλῶς ἔχειν, ἐγχειρίδιον λαβὼν ὡρμᾶτο ἐπὶ τὸν τύραννον. οὐ μὴν ἔλαθε, πάνυ σφόδρα ἀκριβῶς τῶν δορυφόρων τὰ τοιαῦτα φυλαττόντων. ἐμβληθεὶς δὲ ὑπὸ τοῦ Φαλάριδος ἐς τὸ δεσμωτήριον καὶ στρεβλούμενος ἵν᾽ εἴποι τοὺς συνεγνωκότας, ὃ δὲ ἐνεκαρτέρει καὶ ἐνήθλει ταῖς βασάνοις. ἐπεὶ δὲ μακρὸν τοῦτο ἦν, ὁ Μελάνιππος ἧκεν ἐπὶ τὸν Φάλαριν, καὶ ὡμολόγησεν οὐ μόνον κοινωνὸς εἶναι τῷ Χαρίτωνι, ἀλλὰ καὶ αὐτὸς ἄρξαι τῆς ἐπιβουλῆς. τοῦ δὲ πυνθανομένου τὴν αἰτίαν, εἶπε τὸν ἐξ ἀρχῆς λόγον καὶ τὴν τῆς γραφῆς ἄρσιν, καὶ ἐπὶ τούτοις ὡμολόγει περιαλγῆσαι. θαυμάσας οὖν ἀμφοτέρους ἀφῆκε τῆς τιμωρίας, προστάξας αὐθημερὸν ἀπελθεῖν μὴ μόνον τῆς Ἀκραγαντίνων πόλεως ἀλλὰ καὶ τῆς Σικελίας: συνεχώρησε δὲ αὐτοῖς τὰ ἴδια δίκαια καρποῦσθαι. τούτους ὕστερον ἡ Πυθία καὶ τὴν φιλίαν αὐτῶν ὕμνησε διὰ τούτων τῶν ἐπῶν

 

θείας ἡγητῆρες ἐφημερίοις φιλότητος

εὐδαίμων Χαρίτων καὶ Μελάνιππος ἔφυ,

τοῦ θεοῦ τὸν ἔρωτα αὐτῶν θείαν ὀνομάσαντος φιλίαν. 



 --Aelian, Hist. Var. 2.4; Translated into Latin by Joannis Schefferi [Second Edition 1662]



I’m going to tell you about what Phalaris did that was out of character. It’s strange, since it showed empathy, which wasn’t something he did. Chariton was an honorable man from Agrigento and was madly in love with a youth [Melanippus] who was a fellow citizen who had a good heart and good character.

Phalaris offended Melanippus in this manner. When he had sued one of Phalaris’ companions, the tyrant ordered him to drop the lawsuit. When Melanippus refused, Phalaris threatened to kill him. He was compelled to drop the suit and the judges nullified the case.

Melanippus got upset over this, yelled that he was treated unfairly, vowed revenge. He tried make a plot with Chariton, and tried to assemble other like-minded youths to take down the tyrant. Chariton, seeing his boyfriend’s inflamed anger, realized that everyone was too afraid of the tyrant to act, agreed with him and offered to join him. He said he would do anything to free his country from slavery, but that it wasn’t safe to tell this to too many people, and that he should lay low until they could find the opportune time to act. Melanippus agreed.

Taking charge, Chariton wanted to shield his lover from the association of the crime. In case he was caught, he didn’t want Melanippus in trouble; he alone would pay the consequences, and his lover wouldn’t be endangered.

Grabbing a dagger, he attacked the tyrant. He wasn’t sneaky about it; he did it openly and he was caught by tyrant’s guards who were alert to such attacks. Melanippus was thrown in prison and interrogated to betray his fellow conspirators, but he bravely endured the torture. But after a long time, Melanippus went to Phalaris and told him that he not only agreed to do it, but actually planned the deed—not Chariton. When Phalaris asked the reason, Melanippus explained everything from the beginning, about the trial and how he was upset about it. Phalaris was amazed at the both of them, and released them both! They were free under the condition that they leave not only Agrigento, but stay out of Sicily. Furthermore, they got to keep their property.

This is the relationship that the Pythia later sings about, stating

"The blessed gods gave as a guide to humankind

The blessed Chariton and Melanippus!"

She called their relationship divine and heavenly love.

 

Friday, September 8, 2023

One Proud Olympic Mama! Aelian, Var. Hist. 10.1

The Olympic Games did not allow women spectators, but there are several stories of women who challenged this law in order to watch their family members compete. You can see another example here.

Pherenice filium suum ad Olympia certaminis causa adduxit: & quum Hellanodicae prohiberent eam a spectaculo ludorum, ad ius cum ipsis descendit, dicens se patrem habere victorem Olympiorum, atque tres fratres, itemque filium adduxxisse pugilatorem. His rationibus & populum & legem superavit, quae feminas a spectaculis arceret, & Olympia spectavit.

Φερενίκη τὸν υἱὸν ἦγεν ἐς Ὀλύμπια ἀθλεῖν. κωλυόντων δὲ αὐτὴν τῶν Ἑλλανοδικῶν τὸν ἀγῶνα θεάσασθαι, παρελθοῦσα ἐδικαιολογήσατο πατέρα μὲν Ὀλυμπιονίκην ἔχειν καὶ τρεῖς ἀδελφοὺς καὶ αὐτὴ παῖδα Ὀλυμπίων ἀγωνιστήν: καὶ ἐξενίκησε τὸν δῆμον [p. 108] καὶ τὸν εἴργοντα νόμον τῆς θέας τὰς γυναῖκας, καὶ ἐθεάσατο Ὀλύμπια.

--Aelian, Var. Hist. 10.1; translated into Latin by Joannis Schefferi  (1662)

 

Pherenike brought her son to the Olympic games. When the judges forbid her from attending the games, she countered them, saying that not only was her father an Olympic champion, but her three brothers were and now even her son was, too.  She was able to win over both the people and their laws (which forbid women from watching the Olympics).

 

 

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

M/M: The Funeral of Hephaestion: Aelian, Var. Hist. 7.8

De luctu Alexandri, quem ex Hephaestionis morte cepit.

Quum Hephaestion diem suum obiisset, Alexander iniectis in pyram armis, auro & argento, simul ea cum mortuo igni tradidit, itemque vestem magni precii apud Persas. Rasit etiam ones bellicosos et fortes atque seipsum, rem faciens Homericam, imitans Achillem Homericum. Sed hic illo violentius & vehementius fecit, quum circumradens everteret muros Ecbatanorum arcis: Usque ad suos igitur capillos, videtur mihi plane Graeco ingenio fecisse:at quum muros dirueret, tum vero barbarico more luxit & stolam quoque permutavit, dolori, amori & lacrymis omnia permittens.

Hephaestio mortuus est ad Ecbatana. Fama autem emenavit, haec (quae diximus) facta, fuisse in gratiam quidem Hephaestionis mortui, sed Alexandrum vita defunctum iis usum esse. non enim a luctu ob iuvenem suscepto prius destitisse Alexandrum, quam ipsum quoque mors abstulerit.

ὅτε Ἡφαιστίων ἀπέθανεν, Ἀλέξανδρος ὅπλα αὐτῷ ἐς τὴν πυρὰν ἐνέβαλε, καὶ χρυσὸν καὶ ἄργυρον τῷ νεκρῷ συνέτηξε καὶ ἐσθῆτα τὴν μέγα τιμίαν ἐν Πέρσαις. ἀπέκειρε δὲ καὶ τοὺς πλοκαμοὺς τοὺς ἑαυτοῦ, Ὁμηρικὸν πάθος δρῶν καὶ μιμούμενος τὸν Ἀχιλλέα τὸν ἐκείνου. βιαιότερον δὲ καὶ θερμότερον ἐκείνου ἔδρασεν οὗτος, τὴν τῶν Ἐκβατάνων ἀκρόπολιν περικείρας. μέχρι μὲν οὖν τῆς κόμης τῆς ἑαυτοῦ Ἑλληνικὰ ἐδόκει μοι δρᾶν: ἐπιχειρήσας δὲ τοῖς τείχεσιν, ἀλλ᾽ ἐνταῦθα ἐπένθει βαρβαρικῶς Ἀλέξανδρος ἤδη, καὶ τὰ κατὰ τὴν στολὴν ἤμειψε, θυμῷ καὶ ἔρωτι ἐπιτρέπων πάντα καὶ δακρύοις. ὅτι Ἡφαιστίων ἐς Ἐκβάτανα ἀπέθανε. διαρρεῖ δὲ λόγος Ἡφαιστίωνι μὲν ταῦτα εὐτρεπισθῆναι νεκρῷ, Ἀλέξανδρον δὲ αὐτοῖς ἀποθανόντα χρήσασθαι: μὴ γὰρ φθάσαι τὸ ἐπὶ τῷ μειρακίῳ τελεσθὲν πένθος, ἐπιλαβεῖν δὲ τὸν τοῦ Ἀλέξάνδρου θάνατον.


--Aelian, Hist. Var. 7.8; Translated into Latin by Justus Vulteius (1731)


When Hephaestion died, Alexander threw his own armor upon the pyre, as well as gold and silver and rich Persian garb. He ordered his warriors to shave their heads, just like Achilles did in the works of Homer. But he acted more out-of-control and rash, and tore down the walls of the citadel of Ecbatana*. In my opinion, the head-shaving was a Greek way of mourning, but the utter destruction of the city walls was barbaric, as well as his change of mourning garb, and allowing himself to succumb to tears, his love, and his over-the-top behavior.

Hephestion died in Ecbatana. The story goes that the preparations Alexander made for Hephestion ended up being used for his own death, for Alexander died before the mourning period was over.

 

* In the Iliad, Achilles dragged Hector’s corpse around the city of Troy as a form of psychological warfare

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Telesilla's Prophecy: Herodotus, Histories 6.77

Herodotus records the following prophecy in his account of the story of Telesilla's defense of Argos:

θήλεια τὸν ἄρσενα νικήσασα

ἐξελάσῃ καὶ κῦδος ἐν Ἀργείοισιν ἄρηται,

πολλὰς Ἀργείων ἀμφιδρυφέας τότε θήσει.

ὧς ποτέ τις ἐρέει καὶ ἐπεσσομένων ἀνθρώπων

δεινὸς ὄφις τριέλικτος ἀπώλετο δουρὶ δαμασθείς.

 

Verum, quando marem praevertet foemina victrix,

inter et Argivos referet praelustris honorem;

tunc Argivarum reddet plerasque gementes,

ut venturorum aiat quis quandoque virorum:

telo saevus obiit nuoso corpore servens.

--Herodotus Histories 6.77Translated into Latin by Johannes Schweighaeuser (1814)

 


When a woman conquers a man,

And drives him off,

She will raise up glory among the Argives,

She will bring tears upon the cheeks of many Argive women.

One day, someone in the future will say

“The triple-coiled dragon, now tamed by the spear, is dead.”

  

HERODOTUS

MAP:

Name: Herodotus  

Date:  484 – 425 BCE

Works:  Histories

 

REGION  5

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


BIO:

Timeline:

 Herodotus was an Anatolian-born Greek author who lived during the 5th century BCE. He was born into nobility, and used his privilege to travel the Mediterranean extensively. His magnum opus, Histories, details wars between the Greeks and the Persian Empire, as well as important cultural information for these and Egyptian culture. He is often called the “Father of Greek History,” since his work is the earliest attempt within Greek literature to collect research and primary accounts of historical events.

 GOLDEN AGE GREEK

ARCHAIC: (through 6th c. BCE); GOLDEN AGE: (5th - 4th c. BCE); HELLENISTIC: (4th c. BCE - 1st c. BCE); ROMAN: (1st c. BCE - 4th c. CE); POST CONSTANTINOPLE: (4th c. CE - 8th c. CE); BYZANTINE: (post 8th c CE)


 

 

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Were They Or Weren't They? Patrochilles and 5th century Athens

Gender and sexuality are constructs defined by the society that created them, and there are considerable differences between what ancient Greeks (and later, Romans) believed was queer identity in comparison to our modern ones. It is important to be careful when assigning a modern label or orientation to a person from an ancient culture, and in many cases, it can be dangerous to do so, as it can warp our understanding of the person in question. For example, whereas it is universally known that Sappho transcended heteronormative identity and behavior patterns, people often argue whether Sappho was a lesbian or bisexual, when the reality is that she was simultaneously neither and both, and would not have easily fit into any modern term.

This conflict of identification also existed in ancient times. One of the most obvious examples of this is “Patrochilles,” the relationship between Trojan War veterans Achilles and Patroclus. In Athens during the 5th century BCE, the prevalent model of same sex relationships was one with an imbalance of power, not of equality. Because they did not understand that Homeric culture would have different concept of the spectrum of gender and sexuality, many Athenians were baffled by the Achilles / Patroclus relationship. This couple did not easily fit into the Athenian model; Patroclus was older of the two, but politically inferior, while Achilles was top-tier socially, but younger than Patroclus. An entire section of Plato’s Symposium was dedicated to the discussion on which of the two was the dominant lover (180a).  Plato’s contemporary, the orator Aeschines, however, argued the opposite. Since the couple did not fit the contemporary model, their relationship must not be romantic, but merely a friendship (In Timarchum 1.142:[Homerus] cum multis locis Patrocli & Achillis meminerit: amorem & Cognomentum amicitiae illorum dissimulat cum insignem illam benevolentiam eruditis auditoribus esse conspicuam existimet, translated into Latin by Jerome Oporinus, 1553). It is clear from this and other contemporary treatments of the Achilles / Patroclus relationship that ancient Athenians struggled with understanding how interpersonal relationships were influenced by the culture they exist in.

One of the ways that LGBT Meets SPQR tries to counteract this difficulty is by using overlapping labels. The blog readily acknowledges that one ancient person or myth might simultaneously fit into multiple conflicting modern identities. Modern labels are provided in the tag section to help sort material into topics of interest, but it is important to remember that ancient people would use their own spectrum and not ours.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Sore Loser: Pindar loses against Corinna, Aelian, H.V. 13.25

Content Warning: misogyny 

De Pindaro in certamine superato a Corinna.

quum* in imperitos incidisset auditores, superatus est a Corinna quinquies. Redarguens vero ruditatem ipsorum Pindarus, suem vocavit Corinnam. 

Πίνδαρος ὁ ποιητὴς ἀγωνιζόμενος ἐν Θήβαις ἀμαθέσι περιπεσὼν ἀκροαταῖς ἡττήθη Κορίννης πεντάκις. ἐλέγχων δὲ τὴν ἀμουσίαν αὐτῶν ὁ Πίνδαρος σῦν ἐκάλει τὴν Κόρινναν.

--Aelian, Hist. Var. 13.25; Translated into Latin by Justus Vulteius (1731)


Regarding Pindar’s Defeat by Corinna

When the poet Pindar competed in Thebes, he was defeated by Corinna five times because the audience was ignorant and unlearned. Pindar called them out for their stupidity, and called Corinna a pig.

 

 * Early publishers of Latin texts differentiated the preposition cum ("with") with the conjunction cum ("when / since / although") by spelling the conjunction quum

 

 

Thursday, August 10, 2023

M/M: Alexander the Great at the Tomb of Achilles, Aelian Var. Hist. 12.7

 De Alexandro & Hephaestione

Alexander Achillis sepulchrum coronavit & Hephaestion Patrocli, significans, ita etiam se amari ab Alexandro, ut Patroclus fuerat ab Achille.

ὅτι Ἀλέξανδρος τὸν Ἀχιλλέως τάφον ἐστεφάνωσε καὶ Ἡφαιστίων τὸν τοῦ Πατρόκλου, αἰνιττόμενος ὅτι καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν ἐρώμενος τοῦ Ἀλεξάνδρου, ὥσπερ Ἀχιλλέως ὁ Πάτροκλος.

 

--Aelian, Varia Historia, translated into Latin by Justus Vulteius (1731) 12.7

 

Alexander placed a crown upon the tomb of Achilles, and Hephaestion did the same for Patroclus’ tomb. This show that Hephaestion was the lover of Achilles, just like Patroclus was the lover of Achilles.


Friday, August 4, 2023

Women Saving their City: Polyaenus, Strat. 8.33

Telesilla  

Cleomenes Spartiatarum rex, interfectis in prelio Argivis viris ad septem millia septingentos, septuaginta septem, inter Argos direxit, ut per vim urbem caperet. Telesilla musica Argivas armatas ad pugnam eduxit: quae armatae in propugnaculis stantes, circumcirca muros tuentes, Cleomenem repulerunt. Demaratum vero alterum regem etiam expulerunt, urbemque a periculo vindicarunt. Et hoc mulierum stratagema usque in hodiernum diem Argivi celebrant numenia cuiusque mensis, mulieres virilibus tunicis & Chlamydibus, viros autem peplis muliebribus amicientes.

 --Polyaenus, Strategematon 8.33, Translated into Latin by Justus Vulteio (1691)

 

After killing 7,777 Argive men in battle, the Spartan King Cleomenes headed for the city of Argos to take it by force. The musician Telesilla led the Argive women in battle; these women stood armed at the ramparts, overlooking the walls around the city, and they fended off Cleomenes. They also fended off the other Spartan King Demaratus’ attack, and saved their city from danger. Even today, the Argives still celebrate the women’s strategy; during this holiday, women wear men’s tunics and men wear women’s dresses.


Thursday, July 27, 2023

Telesilla's Rampage: I'm coming for you! Theophylact Simocatta Ep.24

This passage provides excellent insight into the transmission of knowledge in the ancient world. Although Telesilla was well known to the author of the Suda (10th century CE), the 7th century theologian Theophylact Simocatta knew only the poet Telesilla's aggression against Sparta, but not her heroic military stratagem that saved her city. Instead, she is portrayed as an angry courtesan who is seeking revenge on a Spartan man [named after King Agesilaus here, not the accurate king's name Cleomenes] who is spending time with another woman instead of her. Although Telesilla never married and wrote poetry of a religious, not romantic, nature, her name gets lumped in with other Greek women poets as names for courtesans and other women entertainers (similar to Corinna, Erinna, Philaenis, and Sappho). 

Telesilla Laidi

Neque venas auri mettallifabri inquirentes, neque puteorum fossores, qui terrae arcana in tenebris scrubantur, aquarum oculos quaerentes videre, tanta in sua arte diligentiam ac curam adhibent, quanta ego totam civitatem scrutata sum, si possem Agesilaum alicubi cernere. Potum enim ei apparasse furiosam Leucippen audio. Et vehemens fulmen eos excepit. Atque damnum insolabiles adurit mihi lachrymas. Itaque Tragoediae adiutrix ero. Non enim orientem solem in posterum contemplabimur. Sic & Medea & Phaedra terribilior fiam! 

--Theophylact Simocatta (fl. 7c CE) Theophilacti Scholastici Simocati Epistolae Ethiae, Agrestes & Amatoriae. Ep. 24. Trans. Jacob Cuiacio (1606)

Miners don’t seek a vein of gold,

And excavators don’t seek sources for wells

With as much passion and care

As I have searched the whole town

Trying to find Agesilaus!

I had heard that he was partying with out-of-control Leucippe!

I was thunderstruck, and overcome with tears!

And so I become the Villain of the Tragedy.

This is the last day I will see the light of day.

I shall become more frightening than Medea & Phaedra!


Thursday, July 20, 2023

Women Are Capable of Achieving Perfection: Clement of Alexandria, Misc. 4.19

Tam mulieres quam viros esse perfectionis obtinendae capaces, quod et heroinarum apud exemplis confirmat

...Annon enim tormenta quoque tulit fortiter Leaena Attica, quae cum esset conscia insidiarum quae ab Harmodio et Aristogitone parabantur in Hipparchum, nihil omnino est elocuta, etsi valde cruciaretur? Aiunt autem Argolicas quoque, Telesilla poetria duce, Spartanos, qui magna erant virtute in rebus bellicis, solo instituito prodeuntes fugasse, et effecisse ut illae mortem nihil extimescerent. De filiabus quoque Danai dicit similia Danaidis auctor: "Tumque cito Danai sumpserunt arma puellae / in ripis pulchro labentis flumine Nili;" et quae sequuntur. Canunt autem reliqui poetae velocitatem Atalantae in venatione, et egregiam Anticleae amicitiam ,et Alcestidis in maritum amorem, et Maeaeriae et Hyacinthidum fortitudinem...

 --Clement of Alexandria, Stromatum lib.4 cap.19 translated into Latin by D. Nicolae le Nourry (1856)

That Both Women and Men are Capable of Achieving Perfection, Which Is Also Seen In Examples from Non-Christian Sources

…Didn’t the Athenian woman Leaena bravely endure torment? She revealed nothing at all about the plot of Harmodius & Aristogiton had planned against Hipparchus, even when she was brutally tortured.

They say that the Argive women, under the poet Telesilla’s leadership, were the only ones who were able to rout the excessively warlike Spartans who had leveled their spears against them? Telesilla was able to make them fearless; they were no even afraid of death. 

The author of the Danai says something similar: “Rapidly, the Danai girls took up arms / upon the banks of the beautiful Nile,” etc.

Other poets sing of Atalanta’s speed in hunting, and Anticlea’s outstanding friendship, Alcestis’ love for her husband, the bravery of Maeaeria and Hyacinthides.

  

 


Friday, July 14, 2023

Marco Antonio Tritonio: A List of the Chaste

 Content Warning: attempted rape

CASTI

  • Anaxarete
  • Arethusa
  • Daphne
  • Eperie
  • Hippolytus
  • Lotos
  • Musae
  • Narcissus
  • Syrinx

Castitatem plurimi semper faciendam & si ex historiis facile colligere possumus, id tamen ex iis etiam, quae afferemus exemplis unicuique patebit.

ANAXARETE Cypria virgo Iphidis amantis precibus ad lasciviam nunquam potuit adduci [lib xiiii.fab.xvii]

ARETHUSA nympha Dianae comes tanta fuit castitate, ut cum illam Alpheus fluvius vehementius persequeretur, in fontem abire non recusarit. [lib.viii.fab.xvii]

DAPHNE Penei fluvii filia tanta fuit castitate, ut ab Apolline amata in laurum potius converti, quam illum voluerit audire [lib.i.fab.ix]

EPERIE una & ipsa ex nymphis, ne ab insequenti raperetur Aesaco, inter currendum serpentis ictu interiit. [lib.ii.fab.ii]

HIPPOLYTUS THesei filius cum a Phaedra noverca adamaretur, nullis precibus adduci potuis, ut ei congrederetur. [lib.xviii.fab.xlv.]

LOTOS nympha Priapi fugiens vim, ne castitatem ammitteret suam, in arborem versa est. [lib.ix.fab.vi]

TAM castae fuerunt Musae, ut cum sibi a Pyreneo, qui Daulida Phocis urbem incolebat, vim sensissent inferri, iamque in thalamo stuprandae clausae forent, in volucres commutatae sumptis aliis effugerint, sicque pristinam potius formam, quam castam voluntatem noluerunt commutare. [lib.v.fab.iiii]

NARCISSUS etiam inter castos merito est numerando, cu mEcho nymphae illecebris commoveri nunquam potuerit. [lib. iii.fab.v]

NEC minus Syrinx castissima praedicatur, quae ut Pana Deum amantem fugeret, in arundinem se transformari postulavit. [lib.i.fab.xii]

-- --M. Antonii Tritonii Utinenis, Mythologia, 1560 p. 15-16


Chaste / Celibate / Asexual:

Anaxarete

Arethusa

Daphne

Eperie

Hippolytus

Lotos

Musae

Narcissus

Syrinx

Many people preserve their chastity, and we can easily list a bunch from literature, but these are a few examples that are relevant to everyone:

ANAXARETE: was a maiden from Cyprus who was never worn down by her suitor Iphis’* begging to court her [cf. Ovid’s Metamorphoses, book 14, story 17]

ARETHUSA: was a nymph and companion of Diana who valued her chastity so much that turned into a spring when the river god Alpheus tried to attack her [book 8, story 17] 

DAPHNE: was the daughter of the river god Peneus and object of Apollo’s desire who valued her chastity so much that she would rather turn into a laurel tree instead of being courted by him [book 1, story 9]

EPERIE was one of the nymphs who died of a snake bite while running away from Aesacus’ attack [book 2, story 2]

HIPPOLYTUS: was the son of Theseus. When he was desired by his stepmother Phaedra, he was never worn down by her prayers to court him [book 17, story 45] 

LOTOS: was a nymph who was turned into a tree to preserve her chastity while fleeing Priapus’ attack [book 9, story 6]

THE MUSES were so chaste that when they were imprisoned and anticipated being attacked by Pyreneus, they turned into birds and flew away. They would rather lose their original form than give up their chastity [book 5, story 4]

NARCISSUS: of course Narcissus is listed here, since he was never swayed by Echo’s attempts to date him [book 3, story 5]

SYRINX: of course we have to list Syrinx, who transformed herself into a reed when she was escaping the god Pan’s attack [book 1, story 12] 


* Iphis was a common first name. This is not the same Iphis in the myth of Iphis & Ianthe

Monday, July 10, 2023

Marco Antonio Tritonio: Love Comes in All Forms

Content Warning: murder, rape, suicide 


Amor Aliquorum Mutuus.

Halcyon & Ceyx

Hermaphroditus & Smilax

Orpheus & Euridice

Philemon & Baucis

Progne & Philomela

Pyramus & Thisbe

Sirenes, et Proserpina

Sorores, et Phaeton

 Praeclare veteres dixerunt amicos esse tanquam unam animam in pluribus corporibus, nihil enim aliud est amicitia, quam mutuus quidam animorum consensus, adeo ut cum dolentibus amicis doleamus, cum gaudentibus laetemur, quare optime fabulosa haec exempla sunt perpendenda, quae nobis mutuum aliquorum amorem & benevolentiam demonstrant.

1. Nonne maximus fuit Halcyonis in Ceycem maritum amor, si longius illum in aequore submersum prospiciens ac in medias undas prosiliens in Halcyonem avem conversa est? Nonne maxima ipsius Ceycis in coniugem benevolentia, si vel mortuus uxoris in avem commutatae sentiebat oscula, cuius etiam cadaver in eiusdem generis volucrem fuit transmutatum? in quibus adhuc servatam inter coniuges benevolentiam perspicimus [lib.ii.fab.x]

2. Hermaphroditus Veneris & Mercurii filius & Smilax Salmacis fontis nympha ita mutuo se dilexerunt amore, ut e duobus corporibus in unum commutati dicantur.[lib.iiii.fab.ii]

3. Amor etiam Euridices, et Orphei notus est, is enim vivus ad inferos descendit, ut mortuam coniugem ad pristinam vitam & incolumitatem reduceret. [lib.x.fab.i]

4. Inter Philomonem, & Baucidem coniuges tanta fuit benevolentia, ut pauperitatem suam patienter ferentes sine ulla rixa longam traduxerint aetatem. [lib.viii.fab.vii]

5. Progne, sine sorore Philomela vivere non poterat, cumque illam a marito Tereo stupratam cognovisset, ut pro sorore de marito vindictam sumeret, illi proprium filium Ityn devorandum apposuit. [lib.vi.fab.xxix.]

6. Pyramus & Thibse Babylones tanto se mutuo prosecuti sunt amore, ut cum Pyramus amicam credens mortuam seipsum interfecisset, Thisbe amantem mortuum nacta eodem se gladio traiecerit. [lib.iiii.fab.iiii]

7 Syrenes tanto amore Prosperinam sunt prosequutae, ut a Diis alas flagitarent, quo facilius Proserpinam terra, marique possent inquirere. Quare ita in aves fuere conversae, ut facies tamen virginea, voxque humana remanserit. [lib.v.fab.xvi.]

8 Sorores Phaetontis fratrem coelo delapsum tot lacimis deplorarunt, ut in arbores demum sint commutatae; tantus inter fratrem, et sorores amore extitit. [lib. ii. fab.ii]

-- --M. Antonii Tritonii Utinenis, Mythologia, 1560 p. 8-9

  

Reciprocal Love:

Halcyon & Ceyx

Hermaphroditus & Smilax

Orpheus & Euridice

Philemon & Baucis

Progne & Philomela

Pyramus & Thisbe

Sirens & Proserpina

The Sisters of Phaeton

The ancients stated perfectly that friends are merely one soul in many bodies, and that friendship is nothing more than a mutual harmony of souls—so much so that we grieve when a friend grieves, and we rejoice when a friend is happy. Check out the following examples which highlight reciprocal love and kindness:

1. Isn’t the greatest example of matrimonial love Halcyone’s love for Ceyx, for she spotted him drowned in the ocean from far away and leapt into the waves, becoming a halcyon bird? Isn’t the greatest example of love Ceyx’s love for Halcyone, even in death he could feel his transformed wife’s kisses, and was himself transformed into the same type of bird? Don’t we see this mutual love shared among spouses in this couple?  [cf. Ovid’s Metamorphoses book 2, story 10]

2. Hermaphroditus [the son of Venus and Mercury] and Smilax [the nymph of the Salmacian spring] loved each other so much that they are said to have merged into one body. [Cf. book 4, story 2]  

3. Orpheus is known for his love of Eurydice. He descended into the Underworld when he was still alive to restore his dead wife back to life. [book 10, story 1]

4. There was so much spousal love between Philemon and Baucis that they lived a long life together in poverty and never argued. [book 8, story 7]

5. Procne could not live without her sister Philomela. When she found out that her husband had attacked her, she took revenge on her husband and forced him to devour [the body of] their son Itys. [book 6, story 29]

6. The Babylonian couple Pyramus and Thisbe loved each other so much, that Pyramus killed himself when he believed that his Thisbe had died, and Thisbe killed herself with the same sword that he used. [book 4. Story 4]

7. The Sirens held such love for Proserpina that they demanded wings from the gods in order to more easily find Proserpina on land & sea [after she had been abducted]. Because of this, they were transformed into birds, but retained their women’s faces and voices. [book 5, story 16]

8. Phaeton’s sisters wept so many tears when he fell from the sky* that they were transformed into trees. [book 2, story 2]