Peiratērion

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Θήρων γάρ τις ἦν, πανοῦργος ἄνθρωπος, ἐξ ἀδικίας πλέων τὴν θάλασσαν καὶ λῃστὰς ἔχων ὑφορμοῦντας τοῖς λιμέσιν ὀνόματι πορθμείου, πειρατήριον συγκροτῶν. οὗτος τῇ ἐκκομιδῇ παρατυχὼν ἐπωφθάλμισε τῷ χρυσῷ καὶ νύκτωρ κατακλινεὶς οὐκ ἐκοιμᾶτο λέγων πρὸς ἑαυτὸν “ἀλλὰ ἐγὼ κινδυνεύω μαχόμενος τῇ θαλάσσῃ καὶ τοὺς ζῶντας ἀποκτείνων ἕνεκα λημμάτων μικρῶν, ἐξὸν πλουτῆσαι παρὰ μιᾶς νεκρᾶς; ἀνερρίφθω κύβος· οὐκ ἀφήσω τὸ κέρδος. τίνας δ’ οὖν ἐπὶ τὴν πρᾶξιν στρατολογήσω; σκέψαι, Θήρων, τίς ἐπιτήδειος ὧν οἶδας. Ζηνοφάνης ὁ Θούριος; συνετὸς μὲν ἀλλὰ δειλός. Μένων ὁ Μεσσήνιος; τολμηρὸς μὲν ἀλλὰ προδότης.” ἐπεξιὼν δὲ τῷ λογισμῷ καθέκαστον ὥσπερ ἀργυρογνώμων, πολλοὺς ἀποδοκιμάσας, ὅμως ἔδοξέ τινας ἐπιτηδείους. ἕωθεν οὖν διατρέχων εἰς τὸν λιμένα, ἕκαστον αὐτῶν ἀνεζήτει. εὗρε δὲ ἐνίους μὲν ἐν πορνείοις, οὓς δ’ ἐν καπηλείοις, οἰκεῖον στρατὸν τοιούτῳ στρατηγῷ. φήσας οὖν ἔχειν τι διαλεχθῆναι πρὸς αὐτοὺς ἀναγκαῖον, κατόπιν τοῦ λιμένος ἀπήγαγε καὶ τούτων ἤρξατο τῶν λόγων· “ἐγὼ θησαυρὸν εὑρὼν ὑμᾶς κοινωνοὺς εἱλόμην ἐξ ἁπάντων· οὐ γάρ ἐστιν ἑνὸς τὸ κέρδος, οὐδὲ πόνου πολλοῦ δεόμενον, ἀλλὰ μία νὺξ δύναται ποιῆσαι πάντας ἡμᾶς πλουσίους. οὐκ ἄπειροι δ’ ἐσμὲν τοιούτων ἐπιτηδευμάτων, ἃ παρὰ μὲν τοῖς ἀνοήτοις ἀνθρώποις ἔχει διαβολήν, ὠφέλειαν δὲ τοῖς φρονίμοις δίδωσι.” συνῆκαν εὐθὺς ὅτι λῃστείαν ἢ τυμβωρυχίων ἢ ἱεροσυλίαν καταγγέλλει, καὶ “παῦσαι” ἔφασαν “ἀναπείθων τοὺς πεπεισμένους ἤδη καὶ μόνον μήνυε τὴν πρᾶξιν, καὶ τὸν καιρὸν μὴ παραπολλύωμεν.” ὁ δὲ Θήρων ἔνθεν ἑλὼν “ἑωράκατε” φησὶ “τὸν χρυσὸν καὶ ἄργυρον τῆς νεκρᾶς. οὗτος ἡμῶν τῶν ζώντων δικαιότερον γένοιτ’ ἄν. δοκεῖ δή μοι νυκτὸς ἀνοῖξαι τὸν τάφον, εἶτα ἐνθεμένους τῷ κέλητι, πλεύσαντας ὅποι ποτ’ ἂν φέρῃ τὸ πνεῦμα διαπωλῆσαι τὸν φόρτον ἐπὶ ξένης.” ἤρεσε. “νῦν μὲν οὖν” φησὶ “τρέπεσθε ἐπὶ τὰς συνήθεις διατριβάς· βαθείας δὲ ἑσπέρας ἕκαστος ἐπὶ τὸν κέλητα κατίτω κομίζων οἰκοδομικὸν ὄργανον.”
(Chariton, Callirhoe 1.7)

There was a cunning rogue named Theron who followed a life of crime upon the sea. He associated with freebooters whose craft rode at anchor in the harbors ostensibly for ferrying: but Theron led them as a pirate crew. Chancing to be presesnt at the funeral he ogled the gold and when he had gone to bed that night, he could not sleep. “Am I to risk my life,” he said to himself, “in fighting the sea and murdering the living for paltry gains when I can become rich from one dead girl? Let the die be cast! I will not miss this chance of profit. But whom shall I recruit for the operation? Think carefully, Theron. Who of those you know is fit for the job? Zenophanes of Thurii? He is intelligent, but cowardly. Menon of Messene? He is brave, but untrustworthy.” In his mind he examined each one, like a money-changer testing coins, and rejected many; but some he considered suitable. At dawn he ran down to the harbor and sought them all out. Some he found in the brothels and some in the taverns, a suitable army for such a general. Saying that he had something important to tell them, he took them behind the harbor and began with these words: “I have found a treasure, and I have singled you out from all to share it with me. There is too mch here for one man, yet not much effort is involved: a single night’s work can make us all rich. We have experience in this line of business, which draws condemnation from the foolish but brings profit to the sensible.” They realized at once that he was proposing some piracy or tomb-breaking or temple-robbing and said, “Stop trying to persuade us: we are already persuaded. Just tell us what the job is; let us not miss the chance.” Taking up from this point Theron said, “You saw the dead girl’s gold and silver. It should more properly belong to us, the living. I plan to open up the tomb at night, then load the cutter, sail wherever the wind takes us, and sell our cargo overseas.” They agreed. “For now,” said he, “return to normal business. When it gets dark each of you come to the cutter with a builder’s tool.” (tr. George Patrick Goold)

 

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