Portions © Les Belles Lettres, Paris.
188. [Alexander of Mindos, Collection of Marvels -- Protagoras, Universal Geography]
Read Alexander 1, A collection of marvels. He relates in this books a number of prodigious and unbelievable things, but he lists first other authors who have reported these facts before him and who are not without renown. He speaks of animals, of plants of certain countries, of rivers, springs, plants and of other subjects of the same type; he has a clear and concise style and which is not disagreeable
In the same volume, a work of Protagoras 2 entitled Universal Geography in six books. The first five, without being as serious or exact as the geographers followed, form a description of Asia, Libya and Europe. The sixth book is in the same vein as the collection of Alexander, because it reports exotic stories which circulate everywhere; he attributes part of this to earlier authors and pretends to have seen himself much no less strange than the rest. This author equally has a clear and concise style, above all in his sixth book.
1 This refers to Alexander of Mindos, who lived in the first part of the 1st century A.D., and not as has been long believed, Alexander Polyhistor. He is cited by Ptolemy Chennos (Cod. 190) and Elian used him. He himself used the Libuka& of King Juba. The work is lost.
2 Protagoras lived in the second or third century AD.
[Translated from Henry.]
189. [Sotion, Strange Stories about water -- Nicolas of Damascus, Strange customs -- Acestorides, Urban Fables]
Read Sotion 1, on the strange stories which are given in various places about rivers, springs and lakes. This little work is itself of the same genre as the sixth book of Protagoras and as the collection of Alexander, except that in this particular book, he only reports marvellous stories about springs and lakes while in the others there are a fair number on other subjects. The style is close to that of those works.
Likewise I read in the same volume a work of Nicolas 2 dedicated to Herod, king of the Jews, which contains a collection of strange customs. It agrees precisely with some of the strange stories collected by Alexander and adds a number of details to the legends collected by Conon; all the same, he omits some because he reports them elsewhere. In style he is equally sober and lacks nothing in clarity, but he is more concise and has more talent than those preceding.
He reports certain facts which, while very strange, are admitted by many people and some others which are not known, but which are not in flagrant opposition to those which are believable, because these are most often customs he assigns to certain peoples, but one can find among them some of which the unreality is evident. This Nicolas, I think, is Nicolas of Damascus who achieved the peak of his career under Augustus and who was considered as his friend; it is for that reason that the emperor called a type of cake "nicolai" 3, which Nicolas had sent him; he wanted to honour someone who had shown him this courtesy. This author has also left us, if my memory of past reading is right, a voluminous History of Assyria.
In the same volume, I have also read in four books a work by Acestorides on Urban Fables. This author appears to me to have had much more ability than many others in the choice of his title. In fact the histories which others have transmitted, the more moderate among them without comment, the others asserting that these are true, by him in his desire to be accurate are called fables and are assembled as a collection or even a book of legends, as he is happy to call it.
Among these stories, one may find many which are in the collection of Conon and which Apollodore has recounted in his Library, which have been collected by Alexander, dedicated to Augustus by Nicolas, and treated earlier by Protagoras. But this Acestorides has included many which the others have omitted; indeed in many of the stories handled by himself and others, one can see that the versions diverge.
This author relates in his own writings many facts which are attested in famous accounts. He is one of those who could demonstrate their truth clearly and it seems that he has entitled them as fables not to criticise the character of their composition, but to emphasise their agreeableness and charm. But in my opinion one may recognise his wisdom because, in proposing to join together carefully fables and real facts, he avoids blame by the ambiguity of his title. In styles he resembles likewise the preceding authors.
1 Sotion was a Peripatetic philosopher, of uncertain date.
2 He was born c. 64 BC. As a young man he was tutor to the children of Antony and Cleopatra; later he became a friend of Augustus, and historiographer for Herod the Great, although he was not himself a Jew. His principal works were a universal history in 144 books, a life of Augustus, an autobiography and a work on national customs in various countries. Some fragments of the work are extant. For the remains of his works see F. Jacoby, Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker (no 90), Berlin (1926) 324-430; esp. vol. 2 A, pp.384-390.
3 The story is also told by Plutarch, Quaestiones convivales 8.723D and Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 15.652A. However in these versions dates, not cakes, are involved.
[Translated from Henry. Some notes from Wilson]
190. [Ptolemy Chennus, New History]
Read Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History, intended for scholarship in six books, a work really useful for those who undertake to attempt erudition in history; it can, in fact, give the method to know in a short time connected elements, whereas a long life would be consumed in the effort of locating them in the books through which they are scattered. It abounds in extraordinary and badly imagined information; and the peak of absurdity is that he attempts, for certain trivial fables, to explain the reasons for their appearance.
As for the collector who has assembled these stories, he is a somewhat credulous spirit, inclined to boastfulness and who has no other distinction in his language. He dedicates his work to a certain Tertulla whom he celebrates as his "lady" and whose love for letters and scholarship he praises. He attacks some of his detractors whom he accuses of having approached the subject in an unhealthy way. In any case, the majority of his stories which are free of things impossible to believe, offer a knowledge above the ordinary, but which is not unpleasing.
The first book contains a story on the death of Sophocles and, before this, one on that of Protesilas. Then comes that of Heracles, who killed himself by fire because he was unable at the age of fifty to draw his bow (?) ; a story about Croesus saved from the pyre, one on the death of Achilles, and on the courtesan Lais, who choked on an olive-stone. In treating each of these subjects, he pretends that his detractors have committed errors when they learned them and passed them on.
He then recounts concerning king Alexander that when he saw at Ephesus a picture which represented Palamedes assassinated by a ruse, he was troubled because the victim resembled Aristonicus, the partner of Alexander when playing ball-games; such was in fact the character of Alexander, full of goodwill and kindness for his companions. He then pretends that the sense of the passage discussed by Euphorion in his Hyacinth, "Only Cocytus washed the wounds of Adonis", was as follows: Cocytus was the name of a pupil to whom Chiron had taught medicine and who cared for Adonis when he was wounded by the wild boar.
He says that the person in the first book of Herodotus' Histories who was killed by Adrastus, son of Gordias, was called Agathon and that he was killed in the course of a quarrel about a quail. He says that Cadmus and Harmonius were changed into lions and that Tiresias underwent seven metamorphoses, and he explains why the Cretans call him daughter of Phorbas. Erymanthos, son of Apollo, was punished because eh had seen Aphrodite after her union with Adonis and Apollo, irritated, changed himself into a wild boar and killed Adonis by striking through his defenses.
He explains why the poet made doves the servants of the gods at their meals, and he reports what king Alexander and Aristotle said to each other above; he speaks also of Homer and the doves. He says that the poet Epicharmus was descended from Achilles, son of Peleus. Homer calls Patroclus the first horseman because he learned from Poseidon, who loved him, the art of riding horses.
Odysseus was first called "Outis" because he had large ears, but, he says, during a day of rain his mother who carried him was unable to stop him lying down at the side of the road and that is the reason why he was given the name of Odysseus.
An Arcadian named Peritanos committed adultery with Helen when she lived with Alexander in Arcadia; Alexander, to punish him for this adultery emasculated him and it is since then that the Arcadians call eunuchs "peritanoi".
Aristonicus of Tarentum said that Achilles, when he lived among the young girls at the house of Lycomedes, was called Cercysera; he was also called Issa and Pyrrha and Aspetos and Prometheus. Botryas of Mindos says that all the children of Niobe were killed by Apollo. The father of Odysseus gave him a monitor caled Muiscos, a Cephallenian, to accompany him. Achilles was also accompanied by a monitor called Noemon, of Carthaginian origin, and Patrocles had Eudorus. And Antipater of Acanthe says that Dares, who wrote the Iliad before Homer, was the monitor of Hector and got him to promise not to kill the companion of Achilles. He says that the monitor of Protesilas was Dardanus, of Thessalian origin, and that Antilochus Chalcon was appointed rider and monitor by his father, Nestor. These are the subjects treated in the first book.
The second treats of Heracles who after his spell of madness was cured with hellebore by Anticyreus who had discovered the remedy for this in Phocidus, where it was abundant; others each give a different version of this cure. He says that Nestor was loved by Heracles; that it was not Philoctetes but the Trachinian Morsimos who lit the pyre of Heracles; that Heracles, after the Nemean lion had bitten off one of his fingers had only nine and that there exists a tomb erected for this detached finger; other authors say that he lost his finger following a blow by a dart of a stingray and one can see at Sparta a stone lion erected on the tomb of the finger and which is the symbol of the power of the hero. It is since then that stone lions have likewise been erected on the tombs of other important people; other authors give different explications of the lion statues. From the pyre of Heracles a swarm of locusts flew out which ravaged the countryside like a plague before they were destroyed.
It was Aphrodite who, because of Adonis whom both she and Heracles loved, taught Nessus the centaur the trap with which to snare Heracles. Nireus of Syme, who was loved by Heracles, helped him to beat down the lion of Helicon; others say that Nireus was the son of Heracles.
Who are the Charites referred to by the poet to whom he compared the hair of Euphorbus? Heracles, says the author, was called Nilos at his birth; then, when he saved Hera in killing the nameless giant with the fiery breath who attacked her, he changed his name because he had escaped the danger of Hera. Abderos, beloved of Heracles, was killed by Theseus when he came to announce the episode of the pyre.
Aristonicus of Tarentum says that the middle head of the hydra was of gold. Alexander of Mindos says that a serpent born of earth fought with Heracles against the Nemean lion; fed by Heracles, it accompagnied him to Thebes and stayed in a tent; it was this that ate small sparrows and was changed to stone.
The Argo was constructed by Heracles on Ossa in Thessaly; her name was given because of Argos, son of Jason, who was loved by Heracles; it is becase of him that he undertook the voyage with Jason to Scythia. He recounts that Hera who fought on the side of Geryon was wounded on her right by Heracles and all that followed him. Corythos, an Iberian, who was also beloved of Heracles, was the first to manufacture a helmet; it is from this, says the author, that this piece of armour takes its name.
The tomb which passes for that of Zeus in Crete is that of Olympos of Crete, who received Zeus son of Cronos, raised him and taught divine things to him; but Zeus, he says, struck down his foster-parent and master because he had pushed the giants to attack him in his turn; but when he had struck, before his body he was full of remorse and, since he could appease his sorrow in no other way, he gave his own name to the tomb of his victim.
Of which author of verse did Alexander son of Philip say: "Proteus, well, drink wine now that you have eaten human flesh"? And he spoke justly of Proteus. Which song was Alexander accustomed to sing and whose were the words? On who did the same Alexander son of Philip write a funeral chant? Such are the chapters of the second book.
The third is devoted to Hyllos son of Heracles; he had a little horn on the right side of his face and Epopeus of Sicyon seized it after having killed Hyllos in single combat; he filled it with water of the Styx and became king of the country. Concerning the water of the Styx in Arcadia he recounts the following: while Demeter was mourning for her daughter, Poseidon intruded on her sorrow and she in anger metamorphosed into a mare; she arrived at a fountain in this form and detesting it she made the water black.
Hecale and all those who took this name. Alexander's father was not Philip but a man called Draco and of Arcadian origina; this was the origin of the legend of the serpent. He speaks of Ptolemy's dog; it fought by the side of its master; it was opened when it died and found to have a hairy heart; it was of the Molossian race and was called Briareus.
This concerns Polydamas. What do these words of the poet mean: "Daughter of Pandareus, 'la chanteuse verdière'...(?)", etc? He speaks of the Palladium which Diomedes and Odysseus went together to steal, of the reed which repeated that Midas had the ears of an ass, of the acestalian birds which were sought in Stesichorus, of the raft of Gigo which is at the edge of the Ocean, which can only be moved with an asphodel and remains immovable by force. Rhopalus was the son of Heracles; the same day, he rendered to his father the honours due to a hero and sacrificed to him as a god. Ampbiarus received this name because the parents of his mother had both prayed that she would give birth without grief.
Who wrote the hymn which is chanted at Thebes in honour of Heracles and where he is called son of Zeus and Hera? Then those who composed hymns in different cities are discussed. He says that the poet Philosthephanos of Mantinea never used a coat since he was born and that Matris the Theban, an author of hymns, lived all his life on myrtle leaves. Eupompus of Samos raised, incredible wonder, a wild serpent; it was, it was said, a son to him; it was called Draco and had very piercing sight and could easily see at twenty stades; he placed it in the service of Xerxes for a thousand talents and, sat with him under the golden plane tree it described to him what it saw of the naval combat between the Greeks and barbarians and the exploit of Artemisus. Plesirrhous the Thessalian, author of hymns, was loved by Herodotus and was his heir; it is he who composed the introduction of the first book of Herodotus of Halicarnassus; the authentic beginning of the Histories of Herodotus is in fact : "Those of the Persians who are knowledgeable say that the Phoenicians were the cause of the conflict". Polyzelus of Cyrene never laughed, from which his surname of Agelastus. The man who overrode everyone with his piety was, according to some, Antigonus of Ephesus, according to others Lucias of Hermione, of whom Theophrastus speaks in his letters. Achilles and Deidamia had two children: Neoptolemus and Oneiros; Oneiros was killed by Orestes, who didn't recognise him, while fighting with him Phocidus for a place to pitch a tent.
The author then deals with coincidence in history. At the tomb of Amycus there grows a red laurel and those who have tasted it have taken prizes in boxing; Antodoros, who had eaten some, gained thirteen crowns; all the same he was conquered by Dioscorus of Thera in his fourteenth combat, just as Amycus himself, it is said, had fallen to one of the Dioscurides. Croesus, it is said, was conceived during a festival of Aphrodite, during which the Lydians have a procession for her decorating the goddess with all their wealth. The father of Themistocles sacrificed a bull when the birth of his son was announced; he drank the blood of the victim and died. Darius, son of Hystapes, exposed by his mother, was fed on mares milk by a horse-guardian, Spargapises, and he became king thanks to the 'hennissement' of a horse. A servitor of the lyric poet Ibycos, who was called Heracles, was burned alive for conspiring with brigands against his master.
Orestes came into the world during the festival of Demeter Erinys. Philip as an child attempted in the evenings to strike shooting stars with his arrows and the divine Diognetus predicted that the infant would become master of many peoples; Aster was also the name of one who lost an eye to an arrow that way. Marsyas the flutist, the one who was flayed, was born during a festival of Apollo, where the skins of all those victims one has flayed are offered to the god.
The author speaks of Tityos, who attempted to ambush Alexander. The mother of Claudius, while pregnant, desired some of those mushrooms called boletus and ate some, and Claudius died from eating some of the same which had been poisoned. He speaks of the centaur Lamios who, caught in adultery, was murdered according to some by the eunch Peirithos, according to others by Theseus; such are the numerous effects of coincidence in these stories. Thus ends the third book.
The fourth recounts that Helen was the first to imagine drawing lots with the fingers and that she won at chance with Alexander; she was the daughter of Aphrodite. There was born of Helen and Achilles in the fortunate isles a winged child named Euphorion after the fertility of this land; Zeus caught him and with a blow knocked him to earth in the isle of Melos, where he continued the pursuit and changed the nymphs there into frogs because they had given him burial. Some say that Helen was taken away by Alexander when she hunted on the mount of the Virgin; struck by his beauty, she followed him like a dog.
The author speaks of the embroidered belt which Hera received from Aphrodite and gave to Helen: it was stolen by Helen's servant, Astyanassa and recovered from her by Aphrodite.
What is the significance of what Helen says in Homer: "Each imitating the voice of their spouse"? Helen was the daughter of Helios and Leda and she was called Leonte; this was, it is said, following the resentment of Aphrodite against Menelaus who had arranged the abduction of Helen: he had promised a hecatomb to Aphrodite as the price of the marriage, and didn't offer it.
The Helen-flower grows in Rhodes; it received its name from her, because it grew under the tree on which Helen hanged herself; those who ate of it inevitably come to quarrel. It was Helen who was taken by Menelaus and so married him.
Some authors report that Helen, arrived in Scythia Tauris with Menelaus in search of Orestes, was immolated to Artemis with Menelaus by Iphigenia; others say that she was removed during the voyage of the Greeks home by Thetis, metamorphosed into a seal.
It is said that Helen was called by her real name Echo because of her ability to imitate voices; her name of Helen came from the fact that Leda brought her into the world in a marshy place. The place called Sandalion at Sparta takes its name from the sandal of Helen who fell in this place while Alexander pursued here. Helen had a daughter by Alexander; they disagreed about the name to hive here; he wanted to call her Alexandra, she wanted to call her Helen; Helen carried her in a 'partie d'osselets' and the infant received the same name as her mother; this daught was killed, it is said, by Hecuba when Troy was taken.
In the time of the Trojan war, there were many celebrated Helens: the daughter of Aegistheus and Clytemnestra that Orestes killed; the one who assisted Aphrodite in her union with Adonis, the daughter of an inhabitant of Epidamnos, whom the people of that town honour under the attributes of Aphrodite because she distributed silver during a famine; the daughter of Faustulus who was the foster-father of Remus and Romulus. The woman who ate three dogs a day was also called Helen, as well as the sister of Dicearcus, son of Telesinos, and eighteen others of which the Helen before Homer, daughter of the Athenian Museum and who recounted the war of Troy; it is of her, it is said, that Homer obtained the subject of his poem and it is her who had a lamb that could speak two languages; also among them, the daughter of the Aetolian Tityrus: she provoked Achilles to single combat and gave him a head-wound which was not mortal, but it was she who fell under his blows.
Helen the female painter also belongs to the list; she was the daughter of Timon the Egyptian: she painted the battle of Issus at the time when she was at the height of her poweres; the picture was displayed in the temple of Peace under Vespasian. Archelaus of Cyprus says that there was a Helen of Himera who was the love of the poet Stesichorus; she was the daughter of Micythos; she left Stesichorus and went to live with Bougpalos. The poet, wishing to defend himself from being a fool, wrote that Helen had left at his own wish, and the story that Stesichorus became blind is false.
The plant "moly" of which Homer speaks; this plant had, it is said, grown from the blood of the giant killed in the isle of Circe; it has a white flower; the ally of Circe who killed the giant was Helios; the combat was hard (mâlos) from which the name of this plant.
Dionysius was loved by Chiron, from whom he learned chants and dances, the bacchic rites and initiations. The author speaks of the "Taraxippos" of Olympus and of the Myrtilloi, father and son. Neoptolemus Makiotes was the only one to learn from Aithos, a Delphian, the oracle of 'Phemonoe'. It is of this Aithos that Herodotus says, in the first book of his Histories: "although I know his name I will not quote him".
The author speaks of double appellations in Homer; one is that used among the gods, the other current among men; the Xantho is the only river which is a son of Zeus. He treats of other double names. There is, he says, in the Tyrrhenian country a tower called Tower of the Sea, of the name of "Sea", a Tyrrhenian poisoner; she worked for Circe and fled from her mistress. It was to her, says the author, that Odysseus came; with the aid of her drugs, she changed him into a horse and kept him with her until he died of old age. Thanks to this anecdote, the difficulty of the Homeric text is resolved: "Then the sea will send you the softest of deaths". Thus ends the fourth book.
It is said in the fifth book that it is reported that it was Jason and not Pollux who fought against Amycus and the place they fought witnesses this by its name, "Spear of Jason", and a spring appears near there which is called Helen. Thanks to these facts, the sense of an epigram of Crinagoras is clarified. "And the mares of Proclus will eat the green psalacanthus", a verse unknown to Callimachus, is a spoof of the comic Eubulus on Dionysius. The author also deals with the parody of this verse. As for the "psalacanthus", it's an Egyptian plant which gains health and victory when used to decorate horses. It is said, on the other hand, that Psalacantha was a nympth of the isle of Icarus who, captured by Dionysius, helped him to obtain Ariane on the condition that he should also belong to her, and Dionysius refused; Psalacantha took herself to Ariane and the irritated god turned her into a plany; then, feeling remorse, he wanted to honour this plant by placing it in the crown of Ariane, who took her place among the celestial constellations. As for the plant, some say it resembles the 'armoise', others the melilot.
He reports that Athenodorus of Eretria, in the eighth book of his commentaries, says that Thetis and Medea had a dispute in Thessaly as to which was the most beautiful; their judge was Idomeneus, who gave the victory to Thetis; Medea in anger said that the Cretans were always liars and in revenge she made the curse that he would never speak the truth, just as he had lied in his judgement; it is from that, he says, that Cretans pass as liars. Athenodorus cites as author of this story Antiochus in his second book of Legends of the town.
Ilus, the father of Laomedon, had, he says, a plume of horsehair and, among the sons of Priam, Melanippos and Idaios likewise. Xanthe and Balios, the horses of Achilles, once belonged to giants and they were the only ones to fight alongside the gods against their brothers. When Odysseus had a shipwreck close to Thyla in Sicily, the shield of Achilles was thrown ashore near the monument of Ajax; placed next to the monument, it was struck by lightening the next day.
Heracles did not wear the skin of the Nemean lion, but that of a certain Lion, one of the giants killed by Heracles whom he had challenged to single combat. The dragon which guarded the golden apples was the brother of the Nemean lion. Irus, who appears in Homer, was a Boetian. The wife of Candaulus, whose name isn't mentioned in Herodotus, was called Nysai; she acquired double pupils and a very piercing sight when she obtained the stone of the serpent; it was thanks to this gift that she saw Gyges leaving through the door; others say that she was called Tudun, and others Clytia; Abas says that she was called Abro. The wife's name was, it is said, passed over in silence by Herodotus because Plesirrhous, whom Herodotus loved, was taken with a woman called Nysia and who was of a family of Halicarnassus, and that he hanged himself when he was unsuccesful with her. It is for this reason that Herodotus does not mention the name of Nysia which was odious to him.
The centaurs who fled from Heracles through Tyrsenia perished of hunger, ensnared by the soft song of the sirens. Abderos, who was loved by Heracles, was the brother of Patroclus. Epipole of Carystos, daughter of Traction, hid her sex to go on campaign with the Greeks; denounced by Palamedes, she was stoned by the Greeks. When Alexander abducted Helen, Menelaus offered a hecatomb to Zeus at Gortyne in Crete. Palamedes commanded the Greeks in place of Agamemnon, in fact, at his arrival at Aulis, Agamemnon shot with an arrow wild goat sacred to Artemis; the Greeks finding it impossible to set sail, Calchas predicted that the prodigy would cease if Agamemnon sacrified his daughter Iphigenia to Poseidon; when he refused, the angry Greeks removed his command and nominated Palamedes king.
Philoctetes died bitten by a serpent and Alexander was killed by Menelaus with a blow of the spear in his thigh. After the death of Demetrius of Scepsis, next to his head was found the book of Tellis, and the Divers of Alcmeon were found, it is said, next to the head of Tyronichos of Chalcis; the Violaters of Justice of Eupolis next to the head of Ephialtes and Cratinus, Eunides next to that of Alexander king of Macedon, and the Works and Days of Hesiod next to that of Seleucus Nicator. And the legislator of Arcadia, Cercidas, ordered that books I and II of the Iliad should be buried with him. And Pompey the Great never went to war without reading book XI of the Iliad because he was an admirer of Agamemnon. And the Roman Cicero was beheaded while being carried in his litter where he was reading Euripides Medea.
Diognetus the Cretan boxer, winner in a competition, did not receive the crown but was even attacked by the Eleans because the adversary whom he had defeated and killed was called Heracles like the hero. This Diognetus is honoured as a hero by the Cretans. The line of Homer, at the moment where Menelaus is wounded: "You neither, Menelaus, you are not forgotten by the blessed immortals", has been parodied by the pythian god who substituted Menedernus for Menelaus. During a festival given by the emperor Augustus, the question was asked: "Which verse of Homer was parodied by the oracle, and who is the personage of whom this oracle spoke?" Menedemus the Elean, son of Bounias, showed to Heracles how to clean the stables of Augias by diverting a river; it is said also that he fought alongside Heracles in his fight with Augias; he was killed and buried in Lepreon close to a pine. Heracles instituted games in his honour and he fought against Theseus; as the combat was equal, the spectators declared that Theseus was a second Heracles.
Phantasia, a woman of Memphis, daughter of Nicarchus, composed before Homer a tale of the Trojan War and of the adventures of Odysseus. The books were deposited, it is said, at Memphis; Homer went there and obtained copies from Phanites, the temple scribe, and he composed under their inspiration. Adonis, having become androgynous, behaved as a man for Aphrodite and as a woman for Apollo.
As a hommage to the river Alpheus, after a victory at Olympia, Heracles called with his name the letter "alpha" which he placed at the head of the alphabet.
Our mythographer, in emitting his twaddle, says that Moses the legislator of the Hebrews was called Alpha because he had a white scab on his body. Galerius Crassus, who was a military tribune under Tiberius, was called Beta because he liked to eat white beet which the Romans called "betacium". Horpullis, the courtesan of Cyzicus, was called Gamma and Antenor, author of the History of Crete, was called Delat because he was good and loved his city, because the Cretans called him rightly "Delton". And Apollonius, who made himself famous in the time of Philopator for his knowledge of astronomy, was called Epsilon because the form of this letter matched the contours of the mooth, in the knowledge of which he was very skilled. Satyros the friend of Aristarchus was called Zeta because of his love for research and Aesop, it is said, was called Theta by Idmon, his master, because he was of a servile and changing character; indeed slaves are called thetes. The mother of Cypselos, who was lame, was called Lambda by the god of Delphi. And Democydos says that Pythagoras, who described all the numbers, was designated by the third letter. Such is the content of the fifth book.
The sixth contains the following chapters.
Achilles, killed by Penthesileus, was resuscitated at the request of his mother Thetis to return to Hades once he had killed Penthesileus. In the Alexandra which Lycophron wrote: "What sterile nightingale killer of centaurs...", these are the sirens who he called killers of centaurs. Helenus, son of Priam, was beloved of Apollo and received from him the silver bow with which he wounded Achilles in the hand.
It was with Andromache and her sons that Priam came to beg Achilles for the bones of Hector. Thetis burned in a secret place the children she had by Peleus; six were born; when she had Achilles, Peleus noticed and tore him from the flames with only a burnt foot and confided him to Chiron. The latter exhumed the body of the giant Damysos who was buried at Pallene -- Damysos was the fastest of all the giants -- removed the 'astragale' and incorporated it into Achilles' foot using 'ingredients'. This 'astragale' fell when Achilles was pursued by Apollo and it was thus that Achilles, fallen, was killed. It is said, on the other hand, that he was called Podarkes by the Poet, because, it is said, Thetis gave the newborn child the wings of Arce and Podarkes means that his feet had the wings of Arce. And Arce was the daughter of Thaumas and her sister was Iris; both had wings, but, during the struggle of the gods against the titans, Arce flew out of the camp of the gods and joined the titans. After the victory Zeus removed her wings before throwing her into Tartarus and, when he came to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, he brought these wings as a gift for Thetis. Peleus, it is said, received on the occasion of his marriage a sword from Hephaestus, from Aphrodite a piece of jewelry on which was engraved a Love, from Poseidon some horses, Xanthe and Balios, from Hera a 'chlamyde', from Athena a flute, from Nereus a basket of the salt called 'divine; and which has an irresistable virtue for the appetite, the taste of food and their digestion, whence the expression "...she poured the divine salt".
The author speaks of the Achilles son of the earth and of all the Achilles who have been celebrated since Trojan times; it is this son of the earth who, when Hera fled from the union with Zeus, received her in his cave and persuaded her to marry Zeus, and it is said that this was the first marriage of Zeus and Hero, and Zeus promised Achilles that he would make famouse all who bore his namel it is for that reason that Achilles son of Thetis is famous. The master of Chiron was called Achilles and it of him that the name came which Chiron gave to the son of Peleus. The promoter of ostracism at Athens was called Achilles, this was the son of Lyso; it is said that there was born also a son of Zeus and the Lamia called Achilles; he was of an irresistable beauty and like others was the object of a competition, he carried it than to the judgement of Pan. Aphrodite was irritated and placed in the heart of Pan the love of Echo and she made him become as ugly and unattractive as he had been beautiful. And the son of a certain Galates was called Achilles and the author says that he had grey hair from birth; and there are still forty other Achilles who were famous and two among them were dogs and their behaviour as dogs was astonishing.
Priam was beloved by Zeus and received from him the golden vine plant of which he made a gift to Eurypyles, son of Telephos, as the price of his alliance. Aesop, killed by the people of Delphi, resuscited and fought alongside the Greeks at Thermopylae. Philoctetes, at Lemnos, was cured by Pylios son of Hephaestus, from whom he learned how to draw the bow; the river Scamander had a son, Melos, who was beautiful; it is said that Hera, Athena and Aphrodite quarrelled on his account; who would have him as a priest; Alexander judged that Aphrodite carried it; it is for this reason the fable of the apple circulates. Hypermenes, in his History of Chios, says that Homer had a servitor called Skindapsos; he was fined a thousand drachmas by the people of Chios because he hadn't burned the body of his master; and the man who invented an instrument with the name of this person, the skindapsos, was a man of Eretria, son of the flute-player Poicius. Such is the sixth book.
In the seventh, it is found that Theodore of Samothrace says that Zeus, after his birth, didn't stop laughing for seven days and that this is the reason why the number seven is considered perfect. Achilles, because he was saved from the fire that his mother had lit to burn him, was called "saved from fire" and it is because one of his lips was burned that he was called Achilles by his father. Telemachus was put to death by the Sirens when they learned that he was the son of Odysseus. Odysseus, in the land of the Tyrrhenians, took part in the flute-playing competition which he won; he played the Fall of Illium by Demodocos. Stichios the Aetolian, who was beloved of Heracles, was opened and found to have a hairy heart; he had been killed by Heracles himself when, in his madness, he killed his own children and it is said that he was the only one the hero lamented.
Hermes, beloved of Pollux, one of the Dioscurides, made him a gift of Dotor, the Thessalian horse. Apollo organised funeral games in honour of Python; Hermes contributed to it, like Aphrodite; she won and accepted as prize a zither which she gave as a gift to Alexander. It is of her that Homer says : "But what could help bring your zither to you..." In Bacchylides, what is the word attributed to Silenus and to whom did he address it?
The rock of Leucade received its name from Leucos, the companion of Odysseus, who was originally from Zacynthos and who was, says the Poet, killed by Antiphos; this is the person, it is said, who raised the temple of Apollo Leukates. Thus those who dive from the top of the rock were, it is said, freed from their love and for this reason: after the death of Adonis, Aphrodite, it is said, wandered around searching for this. She found it in Argos, a town of Cyprus, in the sanctuary of Apollo Erithios and ' l'emporta' after having told Apollo in confidence the secret of her love for Adonis. And Apollo brought her to the rock of Leucade and ordered her to throw herself from the top of the rock; she did so and was freed from her love. When she sought the reason of this, Apollo told her, it is said, in his capacity as a soothsayer, he knew that Zeus, always enamoured of Hera, had sat on this rock and been delivered from his love.
And many others, men and women, suffering from the evil of love, were delivered from their passion in jumping from the top of the rock, such as Artemesa, daughter of Lygdamis, who made war with Persia; enamoured of Dardarnus of Abydos and scorned, she scratched out his eyes while he slept but as her love increased under the inflence of divine anger, she came to Leucade at the instruction of an oracle, threw herself from the top of the rock, killed herself and was buried. Hippomedon of Epidamnos, says the author, was enamoured of a young boy of his land and, unable to obtain any success as the boy had a penchant for another, he killed him, then went to Leucade, jumped and killed himself. And the comic poet Nicostratus, in love with Tetigidaia of Mirina, jumped and was cured of his love. Maces of Buthrotum was, it is said, surnamed "White rock" because he had been cured of the evils of love after he jumped from the rock four times.
A crowd of other people pass to be relieved in this way. Boulagoras the Phanagorite, enamoured of the flutist Diodorus, threw himself from the rock and was killed at an advanced age. Rhodope of Amisene killed herself also in jumping for the love of two twin lads who belonged to the guards of king Antiochus and were called Antiphon and Cyrus. And Charinus, a iambic poet, was in love with the eunuch Eros, Eupator's butler; trusting the legend of the rock he jumped, broke his leg, and died of pain while making these iambics:
"To the devil with you, deceptive and murderous rock of Leukos!
Charinus, alas! alas! this iambic muse,
You have turned to cinders by your vain words of hope.
Can Eupator suffer so much for Eros."
And Nireus of Catana, in love with Athena of Athens, came to the rock and jumped and was delivered of his pain. In jumping he fell into the net of a fishman in which when he was pulled out was also found a box filled with gold. He went to law with the fisherman for the gold, but Apollo appeared to him in the night in a dream and told him to desist since he should give thanks for his safety and he threatened him; it was not right in addition to try to appropriate gold which belonged to others.
The pan is, it is said, a sea fish of the whale family and of which the appearance reminds one of Pan; in his body is found a stone, the "asterite" which, exposed to the sun, catches fire; it is useful otherwise to make a charm. Helen was in possession of this stone, which carried graven on it the image of the pan fish itself, and she used it as a seal. Such are the chapters of the seventh book of the New History for the use of scholars of Ptolemy Hephaestion.
1 Many of the people and details given may be the invention of Ptolemy Hephaestion (also known as Ptolemy Chennos or Chennus) himself, rather than the product of his research. According to the Suda, this fantasist lived in the times of Trajan and Hadrian. For more details, R. HERCHER, Ueber die Glaubwürdigkeit der neuen Geschichte des Ptolemaeus Chennus, Jahrbuch für Kl. Philol., Suppl., Bd. I (1855-6), pp.269-293.
[Translated from Henry]
191. [St. Basil of Caesarea, The Ascetics]
Read by St. Basil, bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, the work called The Ascetics in two books. The work is useful for all of those who choose the way of piety to attain the benefits of eternity and above all to those who engage in the combat of asceticism in the communities. It contains, moreover, solutions and brief clarifications for numerous difficulties of the Scriptures, which increase the reputation of the natural ability of the author.
In these writings, thus, appears the natural ability of which the author is accustomed, as well as his quite pure clarity. All the same, certain problems which he handles are somewhat allusive. It isn't that the language contains juvenile innovations of vocabulary nor that the construction is obscured by "duplications", and it isn't the presence of any research which is strange and lacking the new ability and smoothness, whether in the familiar manner of the author or the classical language; but, while conserving the qualities which are habitual to him, it is as if he scatters the allusions in places without giving any idea of what is important about it, except where he sacrifices concision. as for the clarity, considering that he represents his work as a summary, he didn't work at this most of the time since he didn't need to. What often appears from the solutions of his researches is the depth with persuasiveness, and what comes out from it everywhere is the salutary utility for souls. It isn't only the brevity that destroys the clarity, nor the fact that he didn't arrange the reasoning for his solution in the form of a conclusion; but it is the fact that, in the arrangement of the arguments and in the lack of force and cohesion of the demonstrations, the thought is mislaid. The cause of these defects is due to the various types of reflection, of which I leave the examination to your informed spirit.
The allusiveness, otherwise, is not continual in these two books; there is not much in the first book, in fact; all the same, in one passage, he treats obscene words with reticence; for the rest, great is his simplicity and his equal purity and also the clarity and, from one end to the other of these two books appears a great simplicity and a great familiarity in the use of words and syntax, as well as a concern to be understood by the vulgar and to come down to their level having their safety in view.
His first book exposes thus the cause and the danger of a very grave divergence of views and of a very great separation between the church of God and between men. In the second place, that a transgression of all the divine order is punished with a redoutable vigour, and he shows this from the Scriptures. He treats thirdly of our holy faith, that is to say of our pure and clear doctrine on the thrice-holy Trinity.
The second book exposes briefly so to speak the main traits of the character of a Christian and the very similar picture of those who are called to teach. Then he develops in a way some rules for ascetisicm in the form of questions and responses, fifty-five of them, then, in a more summary fashion, three-hundred and thirteen other rules.
1 This codex has already been briefly mentioned in codex 144. The work extant under this title does not correspond to this description.
[Translated from Henry, amended slightly from Wilson]
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