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.




Name:  Athenaeus

Date:  2nd c. CE

Works:  Deipnosophists





 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.



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