Βούλομαι δέ σοί τι διελθεῖν ἐν καταγωγῇ ποτε γεγονός. ἀπεῖπε μὲν διδοὺς ἄρχων χάριτας, ὧν τὰς ὑστάτας ἐν βαλανείῳ, εἷς δέ τις ἀτυχῶν μέν, τυχεῖν δὲ ἐπιθυμῶν ἀποδύντος ἀποδὺς τὸ βιβλίον εἰσενεγκὼν καὶ μέλαν καὶ κάλαμον διὰ γέλωτος οὐκ ἄπρακτος ἀπῆλθεν, ἀλλ’ ἐκφέρων ἅμα ἱδρῶτι γράμματα.
(Libanius, Or. 52.7)

I would like to tell you what happened once in a governor’s headquarters. After granting his last favours at the bath, the governor refused to give more. One man, who had failed to receive any but wished to obtain one from the governor when he was stripped, stripped off his own clothes and amidst general laughter brought his document, together with ink and pen, and did not leave without success, carrying away his subscription along with his sweat. (tr. Raffaella Cribiore)



Τίνας ἂν εἴποι λόγους εὐνοῦχος ἐρῶν;

Ἓν ἔτι λοιπὸν Ἔρωτι λείπεται τὸ καὶ τοὺς τεθνηκότας ἀλλήλων παρασκευάζειν ἐρᾶν. νεκρὸς γὰρ ὢν καὶ αὐτὸς ἡδονὰς οὐ διέφυγον, ἀλλ’ ἤδη γέγονα τοῖς ἐκείνου βέλεσι θήραμα. ὑπηρέτης κατέστην αὐτοῦ πράττειν ὃ βούλεται μὴ δυνάμενος. ὢ πόθου πέρας οὐκ ἔχοντος. κἂν γὰρ ἀποτύχω, γέγονα δυστυχής, κἂν τύχω, πάλιν εἰμὶ δυστυχέστερος ἄγειν οὐκ ἔχων εἰς πρᾶξιν τὸ τῆς προαιρέσεως. οὐκ ἔστιν, ὦ Ἔρως, ἐν ἐμοὶ τελεῖσθαι τὰ σά. μάτην ἡμῖν ἐπαφῆκας τὰ βέλη καὶ τὴν φαρέτραν ἐκένωσας καὶ πρὸς γάμον ἠνάγκασας σπουδάζειν τὸν οὐκ εἰδότα συνάπτεσθαι. οὐκ ἔστι συνάγειν ἃ μὴ συνελθεῖν ἡ φύσις ἀφῆκε. προῆλθον ἀνὴρ καὶ γέγονα διὰ τέχνης ἀμφίβολος ἄνθρωπος καὶ μὴ πράττων ὡς ἄνθρωπος μόνον πρὸς τὸ νοσεῖν κατέστην ἀνήρ. τὸ γὰρ πράττειν ἀφῄρημαι. οὔτε μένειν εἴασεν ὅπερ ὑπῆρχον ἡ Τύχη οὔτε μεταβεβλημένον ἀφῆκεν ὁ Ἔρως. ἤκουον καὶ πρώην ἐρώτων καὶ παραδόξους τούτους ἐνόμιζον. νῦν δὲ σμικροὶ πάντες πρὸς τὸν ἐμὸν παράλογον κατέστησαν ἔρωτα. ἥλω Πασιφάη ποτὲ ταύρου καὶ τέχνην ἔσχε πρὸς τὴν μίξιν ἐπίκουρον. ἐγὼ δὲ πάντα παρὰ τῆς φύσεως κομισάμενος ἐκ τέχνης ἠτύχησα.  ἀλλ’, ὦ Ἔρως, ἢ παῦσον τὸ πάθος ἢ τὴν φύσιν μετάβαλε. τούτων γὰρ πέφυκεν ἕτερον ἑτέρῳ πολέμιον.
(Libanius, Progymn. 11.26)

What words would a eunuch say when he falls in love?

One thing yet remains for Love: to make even the dead love each other; for though being a corpse, even I myself did not escape sexual pleasures, but have now become quarry to his arrows. I became his servant, though unable to do what he wishes. O, for desire having no fulfillment! For if I miss my target, I have become unfortunate, and if I hit it, I am again more unfortunate, not being able to bring into action the result of my choice. It is not, O Love, in my power to fulfill your tasks. In vain you shot your arrows at me, emptied your quiver, and compelled me to be eager for marriage, a man who does not know how to have intercourse. It is not possible to bring together what nature has not allowed to come together. I was born a man, and I have become an ambiguous human being through craftsmanship; and not acting as a human being I have become a man only in regard to suffering sickness; for I have been robbed of the ability to act. Neither did Fortune permit me to remain as I was, nor did Love release me once transformed. Until recently I would hear of love affairs and consider them paradoxical. But now all of them have become trivial in comparison to my unexpected love. Pasiphae once succumbed to a bull and had craftsmanship to aid her in sexual intercourse. But I, though having received everything from nature, became unlucky because of craftsmanship. But, O Love, either stop this passion or transform my nature; for one of these is naturally hostile to the other. (tr. Craig A. Gibson)


College Student Studying in Library

Τεττάρων δή μοι τουτονὶ διελθόντων τὸν τρόπον ἐνιαυτῶν πέμπτου τε ἐπὶ τοῖς δέκα ἡπτόμην καί με εἰσήρχετο δριμύς τις ἔρως τῶν λόγων· ὥστε ἠμέληντο μεν αἱ τῶν ἀγρῶν χάριτες, ἐπέπραντο δὲ περιστεραί, δεινὸν θρέμμα καταδουλώσασθαι νέον, ἅμιλλαι δὲ ἵππων καὶ τὰ τῆς σκηνῆς πάντα ἀπέρριπτο, καὶ ᾧ δὴ διαφερόντως ἐξέπλησα καὶ νεότητα καὶ γῆρας, ἀθέατος ἔμεινα μονομαχιῶν ἐκείνων, ἐν αἷς ἔπιπτόν τε καὶ ἐνίκων ἄνδρες, οὓς ἔφησθα ἂν μαθητὰς εἶναι τῶν ἐν Πύλαις τριακοσίων. ὁ μὲν δὴ ταῦτα λειτουργῶν ἦν θεῖος ἐμὸς πρὸς μητρὸς ἐκάλει τέ με ὀψόμενον, ἐγὼ δὲ ἄρα ὑπὸ τῶν βιβλίων εἰχόμην. λόγος γε τὸν σοφιστὴν ἐκεῖνον μαντεύσασθαι περὶ ἐμοῦ πόρρωθεν, ἃ δὴ καὶ τετέλεσται.
(Libanius, Bios 5)

Four years passed by in this way, but when I was nearly fifteen my interest was kindled and an earnest love of study began to possess me. Hence the charms of the countryside were put aside: I sold my pigeons, pets which are apt to get a strong hold on a boy; the chariot races and everything to do with the stage were discarded, and I remained aloof, far from the sight of those gladiatorial combats where men, whom you would swear to be the pupils of the three hundred at Thermopylae, used to conquer or die. My attitude in this caused the greatest amazement both to young and old. The person responsible for the presentation of these shows was my maternal uncle, and though he invited me to the spectacle, I still stayed wedded to my books. The story goes that he, all that time ago, foretold for me the position of sophist that has actually come to pass. (tr. Albert Francis Norman)


Ancient Greek vase, school lesson, writing and music

Πάλιν τοίνυν τὸ μὲν παρ’ ἄνδρα πεφοιτηκέναι λόγων προχέοντα κάλλος εὐδαίμονος φοιτητοῦ, τὸ δὲ μὴ ὁπόσον ἄξιον, ἀλλ’ ὁπότε μὲν ἀφωσιούμην φοιτᾶν, κινοῦντος δὲ ἤδη πρὸς μαθήσεις ἔρωτος οὐκ ἔχειν τὸν μεταδώσοντα θανάτῳ σβεσθέντος τοῦ ῥεύματος, τουτὶ δὲ ἀθλίου. ποθῶν μὲν τοίνυν τὸν οὐκέτ’ ὄντα, χρώμενος δὲ τοῖς οὖσιν, εἰδώλοις γέ τισι σοφιστῶν, ὥσπερ οἱ τοῖς ἐκ κριθῶν ἄρτοις ἀπορίᾳ γε τοῦ βελτίονος, ἐπειδὴ ἤνυτον οὐδέν, ἀλλ’ ἦν κίνδυνος ἡγεμόσι τυφλοῖς ἑπόμενον εἰς βάραθρον ἀμαθίας πεσεῖν, τοῖς μὲν χαίρειν εἶπον, παύσας δὲ τὴν μὲν ψυχὴν τοῦ τίκτειν, τὴν δὲ γλῶτταν τοῦ λέγειν, τὴν δὲ χεῖρα τοῦ γράφειν ἓν ἔδρων μόνον, μνήμῃ τὰ τῶν παλαιῶν ἐκτώμην συνὼν ἀνδρὶ μνημονικωτάτῳ τε καὶ οἵῳ τῶν παρ’ ἐκείνοις καλῶν ἐμπείρους ἀπεργάζεσθαι νέους. καὶ οὕτω δή τι αὐτῷ προσεκείμην ἀκριβῶς, ὥστ’ οὐδ’ ἀπαλλαττομένου τῶν νέων ἀπηλλαττόμην, ἀλλὰ καὶ δι’ ἀγορᾶς ἐν χεροῖν τε ἡ βίβλος, καὶ ἔδει τι τὸν ἄνδρα καὶ πρὸς ἀνάγκην λέγειν, ἣν ἐν τῷ παραχρῆμα μὲν δῆλος ἦν δυσχεραίνων, χρόνοις δὲ ἐν ὑστέροις ἐπῄνει.
(Libanius, Bios 8)

Again, I was lucky as a pupil in that I attended the lectures of a teacher with a fine flow of oratory; my bad luck was that my attendance was not as regular as it should have been but occurred only in a most perfunctory fashion, and then, when my desire did spur me on to study, I found none to instruct me, for death had stopped his flow. So, though I longed for my dead teacher, I began to frequent the living, mere shadows of teachers, as men eat loaves of barley bread for want of anything better. However, when I found that I was making no progress but was running the risk of falling into the bottomless pit of ignorance through following blind guides, I had done with them. I restrained my mind from composing, my tongue from speaking, and my hand from writing, and I concentrated upon one thing only – the memorization of the works of classical authors – and studied under a man of prodigious memory who was capable of instilling into his pupils an appreciation of the excellence of the classics. I attached myself to him so wholeheartedly that I would not leave him even after class had been dismissed, but would trail after him, book in hand, even through the city square, and he had to give me some instruction, whether he liked it or not. At the time he was obviously annoyed at this importunity, but in later days he was full of praise for it. (tr. Albert Francis Norman)



Σκοπεῖτε δέ· καλεῖν κελεύω τοὺς νέους ἐπ’ ἀκρόασιν, δραμὼν ὁ παῖς τοῦτο ποιεῖ, οἱ δ’ οὐ μιμοῦνται τὸν ἐκείνου δρόμον, ὃν ἔδει τῷ παρ’ αὑτῶν καὶ νικᾶν, ἀλλ’ οἱ μὲν ἐν ταῖς ᾠδαῖς μένουσιν ἃς ἴσασιν ἅπαντες, οἱ δ’ ἐν φλυαρίαις, οἱ δ’ ἐν γέλωσι· τῆς δὲ ἐν τούτοις βραδυτῆτος παρὰ τῶν ὁρώντων κατηγορουμένης, εἴ ποτε καὶ γνοῖεν εἰσελθεῖν, κατὰ τὰς νύμφας βαδίζουσιν ἤ, τό γε ἀληθέστερον, κατὰ τοὺς ἐπὶ τῶν καλῶν ἰόντας, πρίν τε εἴσω θυρῶν εἶναι καὶ εἰσελθόντες, ὥστ’ εἶναι τοῖς καθημένοις ἀγανακτεῖν οὕτω βλακεύοντας ἀναμένουσι νέους. καὶ τοιαῦτα μὲν τὰ πρὸ τοῦ λόγου, λεγομένου δὲ ἤδη καὶ δεικνυμένου πολλὰ μὲν νεύματα πρὸς ἀλλήλους ὑπὲρ ἡνιόχων καὶ μίμων καὶ ἵππων καὶ ὀρχηστῶν, πολλὰ δὲ ὑπὲρ μάχης ἢ γενομένης ἢ μελλούσης. ἔτι τοίνυν οἱ μὲν ἑστᾶσι, λιθίνοις ἐοικότες, καρπῷ καρπὸν ἐπιβάλλοντες, οἱ δ’ ἑκατέρᾳ χειρὶ τὰς ῥῖνας ἐνοχλοῦσιν, οἱ δὲ κάθηνται τοσούτων ὄντων τῶν κινούντων, οἱ δὲ βίᾳ καθίζουσι τὸν κεκινημένον, οἱ δ’ ἀριθμοῦσι τοὺς ἐπεισερχομένους, τοῖς δ’ ἀρκεῖ πρὸς τὰ φύλλα βλέπειν, τοῖς δὲ λαλεῖν ὅ τι τύχοιεν ἥδιον ἢ παρέχειν αὑτοὺς τῷ ῥήτορι. τὰ δ’ αὖ νεανικώτερα, τὸν γνήσιον τῷ νόθῳ βλάψαι κρότον, καὶ βοὴν κωλύσαι προελθεῖν, καὶ διὰ τοῦ θεάτρου πορευθῆναι παντὸς ἀφέλκοντα τῶν λόγων ὁπόσους οἷόν τε, νῦν μὲν ἀγγελίαις ἐψευσμέναις, νῦν δ’ ἐπὶ λουτρὸν κλήσει τὸ πρὸ ἀρίστου· δαπανῶνται γὰρ δὴ καὶ τὰ τοιαῦτά τινες. οὔτ’ οὖν ὑμῖν, ὦ κακοὶ νέοι, κέρδος οὐδέν, ὥσπερ οὐδὲ τοῖς ἀποῦσιν, οὔτε τῷ λέγοντι τό γε ἐφ’ ὑμᾶς ἧκον, ὅταν ὃς μόνος ἐστὶ μισθὸς ἐπιδείξεων, τοῦτον οὐκ ἔχῃ.
(Libanius, Or. 3.11-14)

Just consider. I tell my slave to invite the students to a lecture. Off he runs and does my bidding, but they don’t match his speed, though it should be even outdone by their own: some of them dilly-dally over popular songs, or horse-play, or joking, and if ever they do condescend to put in an appearance, when the onlookers object to their slowness on such occasions, they mince along like brides or, with more truth perhaps, like tight-rope walkers, both before and after entering the door, so that they annoy those already seated and awaiting the arrival of such idle young good-for-nothings. That is what happens before the speech; but when I am speaking and developing any theme, there is much nodding of heads to one another about drivers, actors, horses, dancers or some fight that has happened or is due to happen. What is more, some stand there with arms folded like graven images, or fidget with their noses with either hand, or sit stock still, though there is so much to excite them, or they force an excited listener to sit down, or count the number of the newcomers, or content themselves with looking at the leaves or chattering about anything that comes into their heads – anything rather than attend to the speaker. And the horse-play, too! – spoiling genuine applause with the slow hand-clap, preventing the utterance of an approving cheer, walking through the middle of the whole theatre and diverting as many as they can away from the speech, sometimes by a faked message, sometimes by an invitation to bathe before dinner – yes! There are people who waste their money even on things like that! You wretched students, there is no more profit in it for you, any more than for absentees, nor for the speaker, at least as far as you are concerned, when he fails to get the one real reward for declamations. (tr. Albert Francis Norman)