When he arrived she said to him: ‘Gyges, there are now two paths before you: I leave it up to you which one you choose to take. Either you can kill Candaules and have me and the kingdom of Lydia for your own, or you must die yourself right now, so that you will never again do exactly what Candaules wants you to do and see what you should not see. Yes, either he or you must die—either the one whose idea this was or the one who saw me naked when he had no right to do so.” At first, Gyges was too astonished to reply, but then he begged her not to force him to make such a choice. She could not be moved, however. He saw that he really was faced with choosing between killing his master or being killed himself by others—and he chose to survive. So he had a question for her. ‘It’s not as if I want to kill my own master,’ he said, ‘but since you’re forcing me to do so, please tell me how we’re going to attack him.’ ‘The place from where he showed me to you naked’, she replied, ‘will be the place from which to launch the attack against him. The attack will happen when he’s asleep. (tr. Robin Waterfield)
(…) gratiamque habeo Simonidi illi Cio, quem primum ferunt artem memoriae protulisse. dicunt enim, cum cenaret Crannone in Thessalia Simonides apud Scopam fortunatum hominem et nobilem cecinissetque id carmen, quod in eum scripsisset, in quo multa ornandi causa poetarum more in Castorem scripta et Pollucem fuissent, nimis illum sordide Simonidi dixisse se dimidium eius ei, quod pactus esset, pro illo carmine daturum; reliquum a suis Tyndaridis, quos aeque laudasset, peteret, si ei videretur. paulo post esse ferunt nuntiatum Simonidi ut prodiret; iuvenes stare ad ianuam duo quosdam, qui eum magno opere evocarent; surrexisse illum, prodisse, vidisse neminem: hoc interim spatio conclave illud, ubi epularetur Scopas, concidisse; ea ruina ipsum cum cognatis oppressum suis interisse: quos cum humare vellent sui neque possent obtritos internoscere ullo modo, Simonides dicitur ex eo, quod meminisset quo eorum loco quisque cubuisset, demonstrator unius cuiusque sepeliendi fuisse; hac tum re admonitus invenisse fertur ordinem esse maxime, qui memoriae lumen adferret. itaque eis, qui hanc partem ingeni exercerent, locos esse capiendos et ea, quae memoria tenere vellent, effingenda animo atque in eis locis collocanda; sic fore ut ordinem rerum locorum ordo conservaret, res autem ipsas rerum effigies notaret atque ut locis pro cera, simulacris pro litteris uteremur.
(Cicero, De Oratore 2.351-354)
(…) and I am grateful to the famous Simonides of Ceos, who is said to have first invented the science of mnemonics. There is a story that Simonides was dining at the house of a wealthy nobleman named Scopas at Crannon in Thessaly, and chanted a lyric poem which he had composed in honor of his host, in which he followed the custom of the poets by including for decorative purposes a long passage referring to Castor and Pollux; whereupon Scopas with excessive meanness told him he would pay him half the fee agreed on for the poem, and if he liked he might apply for the balance to his sons of Tyndareus, as they had gone halves in the panegyric. The story runs that a little later a message was brought to Simonides to go outside, as two young men were standing at the door who earnestly requested him to come out; so he rose from his seat and went out, and could not see anybody; but in the interval of his absence the roof of the hall where Scopas was giving the banquet fell in, crushing Scopas himself and his relations underneath the ruins and killing them; and when their friends wanted to bury them but were altogether unable to know them apart as they had been completely crushed, the story goes that Simonides was enabled by his recollection of the place in which each of them had been reclining at table to identify them for separate interment; and that this circumstance suggested to him the discovery of the truth that the best aid to clearness of memory consists in orderly arrangement. He inferred that persons desiring to train this faculty must select localities and form mental images of the facts they wish to remember and store those images in the localities, with the result that the arrangement of the localities will preserve the order of the facts, and the images of the facts will designate the facts themselves, and we shall employ the localities and images respectively as a wax writing tablet and the letters written on it. (tr. Edward William Sutton)
Cum videris forum multitudine refertum et saepta concursu omnis frequentiae plena et illum circum in quo maximam sui partem populus ostendit, hoc scito, istic tantundem esse vitiorum quantum hominum. inter istos quos togatos vides nulla pax est: alter in alterius exitium levi compendio ducitur; nulli nisi ex alterius iniuria quaestus est; felicem oderunt, infelicem contemnunt; maiorem gravantur, minori graves sunt; diversis stimulantur cupiditatibus; omnia perdita ob levem voluptatem praedamque cupiunt. non alia quam in ludo gladiatorio vita est cum isdem viventium pugnantiumque. ferarum iste conventus est, nisi quod illae inter se placidae sunt morsuque similium abstinent, hi mutua laceratione satiantur. hoc uno ab animalibus mutis differunt, quod illa mansuescunt alentibus, horum rabies ipsos a quibus est nutrita depascitur.
(Seneca Minor, De Ira 2.8)
When you see the forum packed with a mob, and the polling place filled with a swarming crowd, and that circus where the greatest part of the populace is on display, be sure that there are just as many vices on hand as there are people. Those you see in civilian dress are constantly warring among themselves. One man’s led to destroy another for a small gain; no one profits save from another’s harm; they hate the prosperous and despise the poor, resent the greater man and afflict the lesser. Goaded by a host of desires, they lust to win some trivially pleasurable prize from any and every depravity. It’s a way of life no different from a gladiatorial school: living and fighting with the same people. It’s a gathering of wild beasts—except that beasts live peacefully among themselves and don’t bite their own, whereas these get their fill by tearing each other to pieces. In this one respect they differ from animals incapable of speech: the latter behave gently toward their keepers, these in their frenzy bite the hand that feeds them. (tr. Robert A. Kaster)
Iocabatur sane ita cum servis ut eos iuberet millena pondo sibi aranearum deferre proposito praemio, collegisseque dicitur decem milia pondo aranearum, dicens et hinc intellegendum quam magna esset Roma.
(Historia Augusta, Vita Heliogabali 26.6)
He used, too, to play jokes on his slaves, even ordering them to bring him a thousand pounds of spider-webs and offering them a prize; and he collected, it is said, ten thousand pounds, and then remarked that one could realize from that how great a city was Rome. (tr. David Magie)
Accordingly, when the princess threw the ball to one of her maids, it missed her and fell into the deep, eddying current. At this they all gave a loud shriek. The noble Odysseus awoke, and, sitting up, wondered to himself.
‘What country have I come to this time?’ he said with a groan. ‘What people are there here? Hostile and uncivilized savages, or kindly and god-fearing people? There’s a shrill echo in my ears, as though some girls were shrieking – Nymphs, who haunt the steep hill-tops, the springs of rivers, and the grassy meadows. Or am I by any chance among human beings who can talk as I do? Well, I must go and use my own eyes to find out.’
So the noble Odysseus crept out from under the bushes, after breaking off with his great hand a leafy bough from the thicket to conceal his naked manhood. Then he advanced on them like a mountain lion who sallies out, defying wind and rain in the pride of his power, with fire in his eyes, to hunt down the oxen or sheep or pursue the wild deer. Forced by hunger, he will even attack flocks in a well-protected fold. So Odysseus, naked as he was, made a move towards these girls with their braided hair; necessity compelled him. (tr. Robert Fagles)
It would seem, however, that a change for the better often proves a prelude to greater ills. We had sailed just two days in fair weather and the third day was breaking when toward sunrise we suddenly saw a number of sea-monsters, whales. One among them, the largest of all, was fully one hundred and fifty miles long. He came at us with open mouth, dashing up the sea far in advance, foam-washed, showing teeth much larger than the emblems of Dionysus in our country, and all sharp as calthrops and white as ivory. We said good-bye to one another, embraced, and waited. He was there in an instant, and with a gulp swallowed us down, ship and all. He just missed crushing us with his teeth, but the boat slipped through the gaps between them into the interior. (tr. Austin Morris Harmon)
Tu qui in Latinis mussitas, et testudineo gradu moveris potius, quam incedis: vel Graece debes scribere, ut apud homines Graeci sermonis ignaros aliena scire videaris: vel si Latina tentaveris, ante audire grammaticum, ferulae manum subtrahere, et inter parvulos ἀθηνογέρων artem loquendi discere. quamvis Croesos quis spiret et Darios, litterae marsupium non sequuntur. sudoris comites sunt et laboris; sociae ieiuniorum, non saturitatis; continentiae, non luxuriae. Demosthenes plus olei quam vini expendisse dicitur, et omnes opifices nocturnis semper vigiliis praevenisse. quod ille in una littera fecit exprimenda, ut a cane rho disceret, tu in me criminaris, quare homo ab homine Hebraeas litteras didicerim. inde est quod quidam inerudite sapientes remanent, dum nolunt discere quod ignorant.
(Jerome, Apologia Adversus Libros Rufini 1.17)
You who can hardly do more than mutter in Latin, and who rather creep like a tortoise than walk, ought either to write in Greek, so that among those who are ignorant of Greek you may pass for one who knows a foreign tongue; or else, if you attempt to write Latin, you should first have a grammar-master, and flinch from the ferule, and begin again as an old scholar among children to learn the art of speaking. Even if a man is bursting with the wealth of Crœsus and Darius, letters will not follow the money-bag. They are the companions of toil and of labour, the associates of the fasting not of the full-fed, of self-mastery not of self-indulgence. It is told of Demosthenes that he consumed more oil than wine, and that no workman ever shortened his nights as he did. He for the sake of enunciating the single letter Rho was willing to take a dog as his teacher; and yet you make it a crime in me that I took a man to teach me the Hebrew letters. This is the sort of wisdom which makes men remain unlearned: they do not choose to learn what they do not know. (tr. William Henry Fremantle)