Saturday, January 28, 2023

Twice A Man: The Story of Hippolytus and Virbius, Serv. In Aen. 7.761

7.[761] IBAT ET HIPPOLYTI PROLES PULCHERRIMA BELLO VIRBIUS: Theseus mortua Hippolyte Phaedram, Minois et Pasiphaae filiam, superduxit Hippolyto. qui cum illam de stupro interpellantem contempsisset, falso delatus ad patrem est, quod ei vim voluisset inferre. ille Aegeum patrem rogavit ut se ulcisceretur. qui agitanti currus Hippolyto inmisit focam, qua equi territi eum traxerunt. tunc Diana eius castitate commota revocavit eum in vitam per Aesculapium, filium Apollinis et Coronidis, qui natus erat exsecto matris ventre, ideo quod, cum Apollo audisset a corvo, eius custode, eam adulterium committere, iratus Coronidem maturo iam partu confixit sagittis—corvum vero nigrum fecit ex albo—et exsecto ventre Coronidis produxit ita Aesculapium, qui factus est medicinae peritus. hunc postea Iuppiter propter revocatum Hippolytum interemit: unde Apollo iratus Cyclopas fabricatores fulminum confixit sagittis: ob quam rem a Iove iussus est Admeti regis novem annis apud Amphrysum armenta pascere divinitate deposita. sed Diana Hippolytum, revocatum ab inferis, in Aricia nymphae commendavit Egeriae et eum Virbium, quasi bis virum, iussit vocari. cuius nunc filium cognominem dicit in bellum venire: adeo omnia ista fabulosa sunt. nam cum castus ubique inductus sit et qui semper solus habitaverit, habuisse tamen fingitur filium. re vera autem, ut et supra diximus, Virbius est numen coniunctum Dianae, ut matri deum Attis, Minervae Erichthonius, Veneri Adonis.

--Servius, In Aen.7.761  

And Virbius, the beautiful child of Hippolytus, came for war:

When Hippolyte died, Theseus put his son Hippolytus in the care of [his new wife] Phaedra. When Hippolytus rejected Phaedra’s sexual advances, she lied and told Theseus that he had tried to rape her. Theseus sought vengeance from his father Aegeus. When Hippolytus was driving his chariot, Aegeus* sent a seal to spook the horses, and the chariot crashed. Then Diana, moved by Hippolytus’ chastity, brought him back to life through the work of Aesculapius. 

[Aesculapius was the child of Apollo and Coronis, who was cut from his dying mother’s womb. It happened when Apollo heard from the crow he’d sent to spy on Coronis that she had cheated on him. Angered, he killed the heavily pregnant Coronis with his arrows, changed the crow’s color from white to black, and cut Aesculapius from Coronis’ womb. Aesculapius grew up and  became skilled in medicine. Later on, Jupiter killed him because he’d restored Hippolytus to life. And because of that, Apollo got angry and killed Jupiter’s ironworking cyclopes with his arrows. And because of that, Jupiter stripped Apollo of his divine powers and made him a shepherd of King Admetus’ flocks for nine years.]

Once Hippolytus was restored to life, Diana entrusted him to the nymph Aricia, and ordered him to now be called Virbius [‘twice a man’]. Now his son, called the same name, comes to battle: but this is really unbelievable. For Hippolytus was chaste, and always lived alone, but somehow has a son? Actually, as I said previously, Virbius is the name of a divinity linked with Diana, just like Cybele is linked with Attis, Minerva is linked with Erichthonis, and Venus is linked with Adonis.



Name:  Maurus Servius Honoratus

Date:  4th – 5th c. CE (???)

Works:  In Vergilii carmina comentarii







 Little is known about the author or manuscript tradition for the grammatical commentary of Vergil’s Aeneid.






Friday, January 27, 2023

Dangerous Beauty: The Abduction of Pelops, Pindar, Olympian 1.23-27;36-45

 It is important to note that the common denominator in abduction myths is not the victim's gender, but their beauty

 λάμπει δέ οἱ κλέος

ἐν εὐάνορι Λυδοῦ Πέλοπος ἀποικίᾳ:

τοῦ μεγασθενὴς ἐράσσατο γαιάοχος

Ποσειδᾶν, ἐπεί νιν καθαροῦ λέβητος ἔξελε Κλωθὼ

ἐλέφαντι φαίδιμον ὦμον κεκαδμένον.


υἱὲ Ταντάλου, σὲ δ᾽, ἀντία προτέρων, φθέγξομαι,

ὁπότ᾽ ἐκάλεσε πατὴρ τὸν εὐνομώτατον

ἐς ἔρανον φίλαν τε Σίπυλον,

ἀμοιβαῖα θεοῖσι δεῖπνα παρέχων,

τότ᾽ Ἀγλαοτρίαιναν ἁρπάσαι

δαμέντα φρένας ἱμέρῳ χρυσέαισί τ᾽ ἀν᾽ ἵπποις

ὕπατον εὐρυτίμου ποτὶ δῶμα Διὸς μεταβᾶσαι,

ἔνθα δευτέρῳ χρόνῳ

 ἦλθε καὶ Γανυμήδης

Ζηνὶ τωὔτ᾽ ἐπὶ χρέος.


 Cui gloria splendet apud praestantem viris Lydi Pelopis coloniam, quem praepotens amavit terram cingens Neptunus, postquam eum splendido lebete exemerat Clotho, ebore in nitido humero ornatum.


Fili Tantali, te vero contra quam superiores dicam, quando pater ad probissimas epulas et dilectam Sipylum vocavit, vicissim diis coenas praebens, tunc tridente inclutum deum rapuisse Domitum praecordia amore, ut aureo in curro ad supremam late venerandi Iovis domum te transferret, quo insequenti tempore venit etiam Ganymedes Iovi eundem ad usum.   

--Pindar, Olympian 1.23-27; 36-45; Translated into Latin by Augustus Boeckhius, 1821

...Your fame stands out

Among your peers in the famous colony of Lydian Pelops

The way that Pelops’ ivory shoulder did 

as Klotho rescued him from the glimmering stewpot*

When the mighty, all-encompassing Poseidon 

fell in love with him.


O Pelops, son of Tantalus, 

I’ll tell you a tale different 

than what earlier accounts tell of you.

When your father invited the gods to a feast at his dear Sipylus, 

the trident-bearing god [Poseidon],

 burning with love, 

seized you

And with a chariot drawn by golden horses

Led you to the highest house of Zeus himself,

Where at a later time

Zeus would do the same

With Ganymede.

* According to myth, Sisyphus dismembered and fed his son Pelops' body to the gods in order to test them. Pelops was brought back to life and the missing flesh was replaced with a prosthetic ivory shoulder. The gods punished Sisyphus for this action by making him suffer eternal punishment in Tartarus.





Name: Pindar

Date:   518 – 438 BCE

Works:   Odes








  Pindar is a famous Greek poet from Boeotia (modern Greece) known for his victory odes. These odes, for victors of Pythian, Nemean, and Olympic games, are rich in mythological imagery, and help us understand the relationships of the ancient Greeks to their cultural heritage and their understanding of the past. 




Friday, January 20, 2023

M/M: Achilles Mourns Patroclus; Dictys Cretensis 3.14

Isque [Achilles] vino multo sopita iam favilla reliquias [Patrocli] in urnam collegerat, decretum quippe animo gerebat, secum in patrium solum uti adveheret vel, si fortuna in se casum mutaret, una aqtue eadem sepultura cum carissimo sibi omnium contegi.

--Dictys Cretensis, De Bello Troiano 3.14


Achilles extinguished Patroclus’ ashes with wine and collected his remains in an urn. He had decided to bring Patroclus’ ashes back home with him, or, if his fortune changed, to be buried in the same tomb with the one he loved most of all.





Name: Dictys Cretensis

Date:  1st – 4th century CE

Works:  De Bello Troiano





Little is known about the author or circumstances of this work. De Bello Troiano is written in the perspective of Dictys, a Cretan veteran of the Trojan War. The version we have today is a Latin translation based on a Greek original from the 1st to 4th century CE. This work heavily influenced Medieval literature and later Latin accounts of the Trojan War.








Friday, January 13, 2023

Pelopidas, the Leader of the Sacred Band of Thebes: Cornelius Nepos 4

Hoc tam turbido tempore, sicut supra docuimus, Epaminondas quoad cum civibus dimicatum est, domi quietus fuit. Itaque haec liberandarum Thebarum propria laus est Pelopidae: ceterae fere communes cum Epaminonda. 2 Namque in Leuctrica pugna imperatore Epaminonda hic fuit dux delectae manus, quae prima phalangem prostravit Laconum. 3 Omnibus praeterea periculis adfuit - sicut, Spartam cum oppugnavit, alterum tenuit cornu -, quoque Messena celerius restitueretur, legatus in Persas est profectus. Denique haec fuit altera persona Thebis, sed tamen secunda ita, ut proxima esset Epaminondae.

--Cornelius Nepos, Vita Pelopidae 4.1-3


Throughout this turbulent time period, Epaminondas spent his time at home away from the political drama, so the honor of being the liberator of Thebes belongs to Pelopidas alone. There are many other accolades, however, that he shared with Epaminondas.  For although Epaminondas was in charge during the battle of Leuctra,  it was Pelopidas who was the leader of the Sacred Band that first broke apart the Spartan battle lines. Pelopidas was there for all of these dangers, and even led a wing of the army during the attack on Sparta. He was sent as an ambassador to Persia in order to restore control of Messena. And so Pelopidas was one of the most important men of Thebes, but he still was second to Epaminondas in fame.






Name: Cornelius Nepos

Date:  110 - 25 BCE

Works:  De Viris Illustribus





Cornelius Nepos was a Roman author who was born in Cisalpine Gaul (now Northern Italy). He is best known for a series of biographies of great men of Greece and Rome.

 Golden Age Rome







Saturday, January 7, 2023

Paternity isn't Patriotism: I Do Not Owe the State Children, Nepos, Epaminondas 10.1-2

10] Hic uxorem numquam duxit. In quo cum reprehenderetur, quod liberos non relinqueret, a Pelopida, qui filium habebat infamem, maleque eum in eo patriae consulere diceret, 'Vide', inquit 'ne tu peius consulas, qui talem ex te natum relicturus sis. Neque vero stirps potest mihi deesse. 2 Namque ex me natam relinquo pugnam Leuctricam, quae non modo mihi superstes, sed etiam immortalis sit necesse est.' 

-Cornelius Nepos, EPAMINONDAS 10.1-2


[Epaminondas] never got married. When Pelopidas criticized him for not having children, he reproached Pelopidas back for having a son with a bad reputation, saying it was worse to leave behind such a kid as an heir. “For,” he continued, “I leave behind a daughter: the Battle of Leuctra, which will not only outlive me, but will also live forever.”





Name: Cornelius Nepos

Date:  110 - 25 BCE

Works:  De Viris Illustribus





Cornelius Nepos was a Roman author who was born in Cisalpine Gaul (now Northern Italy). He is best known for a series of biographies of great men of Greece and Rome.

 Golden Age Rome