Dum paucos dies ad Vesontionem rei frumentariae commeatusque causa moratur, ex percontatione nostrorum vocibusque Gallorum ac mercatorum, qui ingenti magnitudine corporum Germanos, incredibili virtute atque exercitatione in armis esse praedicabant (saepe numero sese cum his congressos ne vultum quidem atque aciem oculorum dicebant ferre potuisse), tantus subito timor omnem exercitum occupavit ut non mediocriter omnium mentes animosque perturbaret. hic primum ortus est a tribunis militum, praefectis, reliquisque qui ex urbe amicitiae causa Caesarem secuti non magnum in re militari usum habebant; quorum alius alia causa inlata, quam sibi ad proficiscendum necessariam esse diceret, petebat ut eius voluntate discedere liceret; non nulli pudore adducti, ut timoris suspicionem vitarent, remanebant. hi neque vultum fingere neque interdum lacrimas tenere poterant: abditi in tabernaculis aut suum fatum querebantur aut cum familiaribus suis commune periculum miserabantur. vulgo totis castris testamenta obsignabantur.
(Caesar, De Bello Gallico 1.39.1-5)

During a few days’ halt near Vesontio for the provision of corn and other supplies, a panic arose from inquiries made by our troops and remarks uttered by Gauls and traders, who affirmed that the Germans were men of a mighty frame and an incredible valour and skill at arms; for they themselves (so they said) at meetings with the Germans had often been unable even to endure their look and the keenness of their eyes. So great was the panic, and p61so suddenly did it seize upon all the army, that it affected in serious fashion the intelligence and the courage of all ranks. It began first with the tribunes, the contingent-commanders,3 and the others who had followed Caesar from Rome to court his friendship, without any great experience in warfare. Advancing various reasons which, according to their own statement, obliged them to depart, some sought his permission to leave; some were compelled by very shame to stay, to avoid the suspicion of cowardice. They were unable to disguise their looks, or even at times to restrain their tears; they hid in their tents to complain of their own fate, or to lament in company with their friends the common danger. Everywhere throughout the camp there was signing of wills. (tr. Henry John Edwards)



Κυρίως δὲ ἀσκωλιάζειν ἔλεγον τὸ ἐπὶ τῶν ἀσκῶν ἅλλεσθαι ἕνεκα τοῦ γελωτοποιεῖν. ἐν μέσῳ δὲ τοῦ θεάτρου ἐτίθεντο ἀσκοὺς πεφυσημένους καὶ ἀληλιμμένους, εἰς οὓς ἐναλλόμενοι ὠλίσθαινον, καθάπερ Εὔβουλος ἐν Ἀμαλθείᾳ φησί·
καὶ πρὸς γε τούτοις ἀσκὸν εἰς μέσον <  >
καταθέντες εἰσάλλεσθε καὶ καχάζετε
ἐπὶ τοῖς καταρρέουσιν ἀπὸ κελεύσματος. (Eubulus fr. 7)
(Schol. apud Aristophanem, Plut. 1129)

Properly speaking askoliasmos was what they called jumping on wineskins in order to make people laugh. They put inflated, greased up wineskins in the middle of the theatre, onto which they would jump and slip, like Eubulus mentions in his Amaltheia:
And on top of that you put a wineskin
in the middle (…) and jump on it, and you jeer
at those who fall off all at once.
(tr. David Bauwens)



Ipse quo fidem adquireret nihil usquam perinde laetum sibi, publicis locis struere convivia totaque urbe quasi domo uti. et celeberrimae luxu famaque epulae fuere, quas a Tigellino paratas ut exemplum referam, ne saepius eadem prodigentia narranda sit. igitur in stagno Agrippae fabricatus est ratem, cui superpositum convivium navium aliarum tractu moveretur. naves auro et ebore distinctae, remigesque exoleti per aetates et scientiam libidinum componebantur. volucris et feras diversis e terris et animalia maris  Oceano abusque petiverat. crepidinibus stagni lupanaria adstabant inlustribus feminis completa, et contra scorta visebantur nudis corporibus. iam gestus motusque obsceni; et postquam tenebrae incedebant, quantum iuxta nemoris et circumiecta tecta consonare cantu et luminibus clarescere.
(Tacitus, Ann. 15. 37.1-3)

He himself, to create the impression that no place gave him equal pleasure with Rome, began to serve banquets in the public places and to treat the entire city as his palace. In point of extravagance and notoriety, the most celebrated of the feasts was that arranged by Tigellinus; which I shall describe as a type, instead of narrating time and again the monotonous tale of prodigality. He constructed, then, a raft on the Pool of Agrippa, and superimposed a banquet, to be set in motion by other craft acting as tugs. The vessels were gay with gold and ivory, and the oarsmen were catamites marshalled according to their ages and their libidinous attainments. He had collected birds and wild beasts from the ends of the earth, and marine animals from the ocean itself. On the quays of the lake stood brothels, filled with women of high rank; and, opposite, naked harlots met the view. First came obscene gestures and dances; then, as darkness advanced, the whole of the neighbouring grove, together with the dwelling-houses around, began to echo with song and to glitter with lights. (tr. John Jackson)



Ὁ δὲ λεγόμενος παρ’ Αἰθίοψι κροκόττας μεμιγμένην μὲν ἔχει φύσιν κυνὸς καὶ λύκου, τὴν δ’ ἀγριότητα φοβερωτέραν ἀμφοτέρων, τοῖς δὲ ὀδοῦσι πάντων ὑπεράγει. πᾶν γὰρ ὀστῶν μέγεθος συντρίβει ῥᾳδίως, καὶ τὸ καταποθὲν διὰ τῆς κοιλίας πέττει παραδόξως. τοῦτο δὲ τὸ ζῷον τῶν ψευδῶς παραδοξολογούντων ἱστοροῦντες ἔνιοι μιμεῖσθαι τὴν τῶν ἀνθρώπων διάλεκτον ἡμᾶς μὲν οὐ πείθουσιν.
(Diodorus Siculus, Hist. 3.35.10)

The animal which the Ethiopians call the crocottas* has a nature which is a mixture of that of a dog and that of a wolf, but in ferocity it is more to be feared than either of them, and with respect to its teeth it surpasses all animals; for every bone, no matter how huge in size, it easily crushes, and whatever it has gulped down its stomach digests in an astonishing manner. And among those who recount marvellous lies about this beast there are some who relate that it imitates the speech of men, but for our part they do not win our credence.

* Probably a kind of hyena.

(tr. Charles Henry Oldfather, with his note)




Ξανθὸς δ’ Ἀχιλεὺς τὰ μὲν μένων Φιλύρας ἐν δόμοις,
παῖς ἐὼν ἄθυρε μεγάλα ἔργα· χερσὶ θαμινά
βραχυσίδαρον ἄκοντα πάλλων ἴσα τ’ ἀνέμοις,
μάχᾳ λεόντεσσιν ἀγροτέροις ἔπρασσεν φόνον,
κάπρους τ’ ἔναιρε· σώματα δὲ παρὰ Κρονίδαν
Κένταυρον ἀσθμαίνοντα κόμιζεν,
ἑξέτης τὸ πρῶτον, ὅλον δ’ ἔπειτ’ ἂν χρόνον·
τὸν ἐθάμβεον Ἄρτεμίς τε καὶ θρασεῖ’ Ἀθάνα,
κτεἰνοντ’ ἐλάφους ἄνευ κυνῶν δολίων θ’ ἑρκέων·
ποσσὶ γὰρ κράτεσκε.
(Pindar, Nem. 3.43-52)

But tawny Achilles lived in the house of Philyra
and as yet a boy did great things; in his hands hefting
javelins scantly tipped with iron, wind-light,
he wreaked death in bloody combat upon wild lions;
he struck down boars, and to the house of the Kronian
centaur dragged the gasping carcasses,
at six years, and thereafter for the rest of his time;
and amazed Artemis and stern Athene,
killing deer without hounds or treacherous nets,
for he ran them down in his speed.
(tr. Richmond Lattimore)



Rex Prusias, cum Hannibali apud eum exsulanti depugnari placeret, negabat se audere, quod exta prohiberent. ‘An tu,’ inquit, ‘carunculae vitulinae mavis quam imperatori veteri credere?’
(Cicero, De Divinatione 2.52)

While Hannibal was in exile at the court of King Prusias he advised the king to go to war, but the king replied, ‘I do not dare, because the entrails forbid.’ ‘And do you,’ said Hannibal, ‘put more reliance in pieces of ox-meat than you do in a veteran commander?’ (tr. William Armistead Falconer)



Ἔνθ’ ἔβαλ’ Ἀνθεμίωνος υἱὸν Τελαμώνιος Αἴας
ἠΐθεον θαλερὸν Σιμοείσιον, ὅν ποτε μήτηρ
Ἴδηθεν κατιοῦσα παρ’ ὄχθῃσιν Σιμόεντος
γείνατ’, ἐπεί ῥα τοκεῦσιν ἅμ’ ἕσπετο μῆλα ἰδέσθαι·
τοὔνεκά μιν κάλεον Σιμοείσιον· οὐδὲ τοκεῦσι
θρέπτρα φίλοις ἀπέδωκε, μινυνθάδιος δέ οἱ αἰὼν
ἔπλεθ’ ὑπ’ Αἴαντος μεγαθύμου δουρὶ δαμέντι.
πρῶτον γάρ μιν ἰόντα βάλε στῆθος παρὰ μαζὸν
δεξιόν· ἀντικρὺ δὲ δι’ ὤμου χάλκεον ἔγχος
ἦλθεν· ὃ δ’ ἐν κονίῃσι χαμαὶ πέσεν αἴγειρος ὣς
ἥ ῥά τ’ ἐν εἱαμενῇ ἕλεος μεγάλοιο πεφύκει
λείη, ἀτάρ τέ οἱ ὄζοι ἐπ’ ἀκροτάτῃ πεφύασι·
τὴν μέν θ’ ἁρματοπηγὸς ἀνὴρ αἴθωνι σιδήρῳ
ἐξέταμ’, ὄφρα ἴτυν κάμψῃ περικαλλέϊ δίφρῳ·
ἣ μέν τ’ ἀζομένη κεῖται ποταμοῖο παρ’ ὄχθας.
τοῖον ἄρ’ Ἀνθεμίδην Σιμοείσιον ἐξενάριξεν
Αἴας διογενής.
(Homer, Il. 4.473-489)

Then Telamonian Aias struck Anthemion’s son, the vigorous youth Simoeisius, whom his mother had born beside the banks of Simois, as she came down from Ida, where she had followed with her parents to see their flocks. For this reason they called him Simoeisius; yet he paid not back to his dear parents the recompense of his upbringing, and but brief was the span of his life, as he was laid low by the spear of great-hearted Aias. For as he strode among the foremost he was struck on the right of his chest beside the nipple; and clean through his shoulder went the spear of bronze, and he fell to the ground in the dust like a poplar tree that has grown up in the bottom land of a great marsh, smooth, but from its top grow branches: this a chariot-maker has felled with the gleaming iron so that he may bend a wheel rim for a beautiful chariot, and it lies drying by a river’s banks. In this way did Zeus-born Aias slay Simoeisius, son of Anthemion. (tr. Augustus Taber Murray, revised by William F. Wyatt)