Huperēren

Eugène Delacroix, La mort de Sardanapale, 1827 (detail)
Eugène Delacroix, La mort de Sardanapale (1827; detail)

Σαρδανάπαλλος δέ, τριακοστὸς μὲν ὢν ἀπὸ Νίνου τοῦ συστησαμένου τὴν ἡγεμονίαν, ἔσχατος δὲ γενόμενος Ἀσσυρίων βασιλεύς, ὑπερῆρεν ἅπαντας τοὺς πρὸ αὐτοῦ τρυφῇ καὶ ῥᾳθυμίᾳ. χωρὶς γὰρ τοῦ μηδ’ ὑφ’ ἑνὸς τῶν ἔξωθεν ὁρᾶσθαι βίον ἔζησε γυναικός, καὶ διαιτώμενος μὲν μετὰ τῶν παλλακίδων, πορφύραν δὲ καὶ τὰ μαλακώτατα τῶν ἐρίων ταλασιουργῶν, στολὴν μὲν γυναικείαν ἐνεδεδύκει, τὸ δὲ πρόσωπον καὶ πᾶν τὸ σῶμα ψιμυθίοις καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις τοῖς τῶν ἑταιρῶν ἐπιτηδεύμασιν ἁπαλώτερον πάσης γυναικὸς τρυφερᾶς κατεσκεύαστο. ἐπετήδευσε δὲ καὶ τὴν φωνὴν ἔχειν γυναικώδη καὶ κατὰ τοὺς πότους οὐ μόνον ποτῶν καὶ βρωτῶν τῶν δυναμένων μάλιστα τὰς ἡδονὰς παρέχεσθαι συνεχῶς ἀπολαύειν, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰς ἀφροδισιακὰς τέρψεις μεταδιώκειν ἀνδρὸς ἅμα καὶ γυναικός· ἐχρῆτο γὰρ ταῖς ἐπ’ ἀμφότερα συνουσίαις ἀνέδην, τῆς ἐκ τῆς πράξεως αἰσχύνης οὐδὲν ὅλως φροντίζων. ἐπὶ τοσοῦτο δὲ προήχθη τρυφῆς καὶ τῆς αἰσχίστης ἡδονῆς καὶ ἀκρασίας ὥστ’ ἐπικήδειον εἰς αὑτὸν ποιῆσαι καὶ παραγγεῖλαι τοῖς διαδόχοις τῆς ἀρχῆς μετὰ τὴν ἑαυτοῦ τελευτὴν ἐπὶ τὸν τάφον ἐπιγράψαι τὸ συγγραφὲν μὲν ὑπ´ ἐκείνου βαρβαρικῶς, μεθερμηνευθὲν δὲ ὕστερον ὑπό τινος Ἕλληνος,
“εὖ εἰδὼς ὅτι θνητὸς ἔφυς, σὸν θυμὸν ἄεξε
τερπόμενος θαλίῃσι· θανόντι σοι οὔτις ὄνησις.
καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ σποδός εἰμι, Νίνου μεγάλης βασιλεύσας.
ταῦτ’ ἔχω ὅσσ’ ἔφαγον καὶ ἐφύβρισα καὶ μετ’ ἔρωτος
τέρπν’ ἔπαθον, τὰ δὲ πολλὰ καὶ ὄλβια κεῖνα λέλειπται.”
τοιοῦτος δ´ ὢν τὸν τρόπον οὐ μόνον αὐτὸς αἰσχρῶς κατέστρεψε τὸν βίον, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὴν Ἀσσυρίων ἡγεμονίαν ἄρδην ἀνέτρεψε, πολυχρονιωτάτην γενομένην τῶν μνημονευομένων.
(Diodorus Siculus, Hist. 2.23)

Sardanapallus, the thirtieth in succession from Ninus, who founded the empire, and the last king of the Assyrians, outdid all his predecessors in luxury and sluggishness. For not to mention the fact that he was not seen by any man residing outside the palace, he lived the life of a woman, and spending his days in the company of his concubines and spinning purple garments and working the softest of wool, he had assumed the feminine garb and so covered his face and indeed his entire body with whitening cosmetics and the other unguents used by courtesans, that he rendered it more delicate than that of any luxury-loving woman. He also took care to make even his voice to be like a woman’s, and at his carousals not only to indulge regularly in those drinks and viands which could offer the greatest pleasure, but also to pursue the delights of love with men as well as women; for he practised sexual indulgence of both kinds without restraint, showing not the least concern for the disgrace attending such conduct. To such an excess did he go of luxury and of the most shameless sensual pleasure and in temperance, that he composed a funeral dirge for himself and commanded his successors upon the throne to inscribe it upon his tomb after his death; it was composed by him in a foreign language but was afterwards translated by a Greek as follows:
Knowing full well that thou wert mortal born,
Thy heart lift up, take thy delight in feast;
When dead no pleasure more is thine. Thus I,
Who once o’er mighty Ninus ruled, am naught
But dust. Yet these are mine which gave me joy
In life—the food I ate, my wantonness,
And love’s delights. But all those other things
Men deem felicities are left behind.
Because he was a man of this character, not only did he end his own life in a disgraceful manner, but he caused the total destruction of the Assyrian Empire, which had endured longer than any other known to history. (tr. Charles Henry Oldfather)

Aïdriēi

ostraka

Παλαιός τις παραδέδοται λόγος ὅτι τὰς δημοκρατίας οὐχ οἱ τυχόντες τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ἀλλ’ οἱ ταῖς ὑπεροχαῖς προέχοντες καταλύουσι. διὸ καὶ τῶν πόλεων ἔνιαι τοὺς ἰσχύοντας μάλιστα τῶν πολιτευομένων ὑποπτεύουσαι καθαιροῦσιν αὐτῶν τὰς ἐπιφανείας. σύνεγγυς γὰρ ἡ μετάβασις εἶναι δοκεῖ τοῖς ἐν ἐξουσίᾳ μένουσιν ἐπὶ τὴν τῆς πατρίδος καταδούλωσιν καὶ δυσχερὲς ἀποσχέσθαι μοναρχίας τοῖς δι’ ὑπεροχὴν τὰς τοῦ κρατήσειν ἐλπίδας περιπεποιημένοις· ἔμφυτον γὰρ εἶναι τὸ πλεονεκτεῖν τοῖς μειζόνων ὀρεγομένοις καὶ τὰς ἐπιθυμίας ἔχειν ἀτερματίστους. τοιγαροῦν Ἀθηναῖοι μὲν διὰ ταύτας τὰς αἰτίας τοὺς πρωτεύοντας τῶν πολιτῶν ἐφυγάδευσαν, τὸν λεγόμενον παρ᾽ αὐτοῖς ἐξοστρακισμὸν νομοθετήσαντες. καὶ τοῦτ’ ἔπραττον οὐχ ἵνα τῶν προγεγενημένων ἀδικημάτων λάβωσι τιμωρίαν, ἀλλ’ ὅπως τοῖς δυναμένοις παρανομεῖν ἐξουσία μὴ γένηται κατὰ τῆς πατρίδος ἐξαμαρτεῖν. τῆς γὰρ Σόλωνος φωνῆς ὥσπερ χρησμοῦ τινος ἐμνημόνευον, ἐν οἷς περὶ τῆς Πεισιστράτου τυραννίδος προλέγων ἔθηκε τόδε τὸ ἐλεγεῖον·
“ἀνδρῶν δ’ ἐκ μεγάλων πόλις ὄλλυται, εἰς δὲ τυράννου
δῆμος ἀϊδρίῃ δουλοσύνην ἔπεσεν [Solon, fr. 9].”
(Diodorus Siculus, Hist. 19.1.1-4)

An old saying has been handed down that it is not men of average ability but those of outstanding superiority who destroy democracies. For this reason some cities, suspecting those of their public men who are the strongest, take away from them their outward show of power. It seems that the step to the enslavement of the fatherland is a short one for men who continue in positions of power, and that it is difficult for those to abstain from monarchy who through eminence have acquired hopes of ruling; for it is natural that men who thirst for greatness should seek their own aggrandizement and cherish desires that know no bounds. The Athenians, for example, exiled the foremost of their citizens for this reason, having established by law what was known among them as ostracism; and this they did, not to inflict punishment for any injustice previously committed, but in order that those citizens who were strong enough to disregard the laws might not get an opportunity to do wrong at the expense of their fatherland. Indeed, they used to recite as an oracle that saying of Solon in which, while foretelling the tyranny of Peisistratus, he inserts this couplet: “Destruction cometh upon a city from its great men; and through ignorance the people fall into slavery to a tyrant.” (tr. Russel M. Geer)

Krokottas

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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)