Eidōlon

Possession

Μεταξὺ δὲ τῶν λόγων τούτων ἐφίσταται τοῖς σοφοῖς ὁ ἄγγελος Ἰνδοὺς ἄγων σωτηρίας δεομένους. καὶ παρῆγε γύναιον ἱκετεῦον ὑπὲρ παιδός, ὃν ἔφασκε μὲν ἑκκαίδεκα ἔτη γεγονέναι, δαιμονᾶν δὲ δύο ἔτη, τὸ δὲ ἦθος τοῦ  δαίμονος εἴρωνα εἶναι καὶ ψεύστην. ἐρομένου δέ τινος τῶν σοφῶν, ὁπόθεν λέγοι ταῦτα, “τοῦ παιδὸς τούτου,” ἔφη, “τὴν ὄψιν εὐπρεπεστέρου ὄντος, ὁ δαίμων ἐρᾷ, καὶ οὐ ξυγχωρεῖ αὐτῷ νοῦν ἔχειν, οὐδὲ ἐς διδασκάλου βαδίσαι ἐᾷ ἢ τοξότου, οὐδὲ οἴκοι εἶναι, ἀλλ’ ἐς τὰ ἔρημα τῶν χωρίων ἐκτρέπει, καὶ οὐδὲ τὴν φωνὴν ὁ παῖς τὴν ἑαυτοῦ ἔχει, ἀλλὰ βαρὺ φθέγγεται καὶ κοῖλον, ὥσπερ οἱ ἄνδρες, βλέπει δὲ ἑτέροις ὀφθαλμοῖς μᾶλλον ἢ τοῖς ἑαυτοῦ. κἀγὼ μὲν ἐπὶ τούτοις κλάω τε καὶ ἐμαυτὴν δρύπτω καὶ νουθετῶ τὸν υἱόν, ὁπόσα εἰκός, ὁ δὲ οὐκ οἶδέ με. διανοουμένης δέ μου τὴν ἐνταῦθα ὁδόν, τουτὶ δὲ πέρυσι διενοήθην, ἐξηγόρευσεν ὁ  δαίμων ἑαυτὸν ὑποκριτῇ χρώμενος τῷ παιδὶ, καὶ δῆτα ἔλεγεν εἶναι μὲν εἴδωλον ἀνδρός, ὃς πολέμῳ ποτὲ ἀπέθανεν, ἀποθανεῖν δὲ ἐρῶν τῆς ἑαυτοῦ γυναικός, ἐπεὶ δὲ ἡ δὲ γυνὴ περὶ τὴν εὐνὴν ὕβρισε τριταίου κειμένου γαμηθεῖσα ἑτέρῳ, μισῆσαι μὲν ἐκ τούτου τὸ γυναικῶν ἐρᾶν, μεταρρυῆναι δὲ ἐς τὸν παῖδα τοῦτον. ὑπισχνεῖτο δέ, εἰ μὴ διαβάλλοιμι αὐτὸν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, δώσειν τῷ παιδὶ πολλὰ ἐσθλὰ καὶ ἀγαθά. ἐγὼ μὲν δὴ ἔπαθόν τι πρὸς ταῦτα, ὁ δὲ διάγει με πολὺν ἤδη χρόνον καὶ τὸν ἐμὸν οῖκον ἔχει μόνος, οὐδὲν μέτριον οὐδὲ ἀληθὲς φρονῶν.” ἤρετο οὖν ὁ σοφὸς πάλιν, εἰ πλησίον εἴη ὁ παῖς, ἡ δὲ οὐκ ἔφη, πολλὰ μὲν γὰρ ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἀφικέσθαι αὐτὸν πρᾶξαι, ὁ δὲ ἀπειλεῖ κρημνοὺς καὶ βάραθρα καὶ ἀποκτενεῖν μοι τὸν υἱόν, εἰ δικαζοίμην αὐτῷ δεῦρο.”—”θάρσει,” ἔφη ὁ σοφὸς, “οὐ γὰρ ἀποκτενεῖ αὐτὸν ἀναγνοῦς ταῦτα,” καί τινα ἐπιστολὴν ἀνασπάσας τοῦ κόλπου ἔδωκε τῇ γυναικί, ἐπέσταλτο δὲ ἄρα ἡ ἐπιστολὴ πρὸς τὸ εἴδωλον ξὺν ἀπειλῇ καὶ ἐκπλήξει.
(Philostratus, Apoll. 3.38)

This discussion was interrupted by the appearance among the sages of the messenger bringing in certain Indians who were in want of succour. And he brought forward a poor woman who interceded in behalf of her child, who was, she said, a boy of sixteen years of age, but had been for two years possessed by a devil. Now the character of the devil was that of a mocker and a liar. Here one of the sages asked, why she said this, and she replied: “This child of mine is extremely good-looking, and therefore the devil is amorous of him and will not allow him to retain his reason, nor will he permit him to go to school, or to learn archery, nor even to remain at home, but drives him out into desert places and the boy does not even retain his own voice, but speaks in a deep hollow tone, as men do; and he looks at you with other eyes rather than with his own. As for myself I weep over all this and I tear my cheeks, and I rebuke my son so far as I well may; but he does not know me. And I made my mind to repair hither, indeed I planned to, do so a year ago; only the demon discovered himself using my child as a mask, and what he told me was this, that he was the ghost of man, who fell long ago in battle, but that at death he was passionately attached to his wife. Now he had been dead for only three days when his wife insulted their union by marrying another man, and the consequence was that he had come to detest the love of women, and had transferred himself wholly into this boy. But he promised, if I would only not denounce him to yourselves, to endow the child with many noble blessings. As for myself, I was influenced by these promises; but he has put me off and off for such a long time now, that he has got sole control of my household, yet has no honest or true intentions.” Here the sage asked afresh, if the boy was at hand; and she said not, for, although she had done all she could to get him to come with her, the demon had threatened her with steep places and precipices and declared that he would kill her son, “in case”, she added, “I haled him hither for trial.” “Take courage,” said the sage, “for he will not slay him when he has read this.” And so saying he drew a letter out of his bosom and gave it to the woman; and the letter, it appears, was addressed to the ghost and contained threats of an alarming kind. (tr. Frederick Cornwallis Conybeare)

Eunouchos

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Eugène Delacroix, Femmes d’Alger dans leur appartement (1834)

Τοιαῦτα δὴ λαλούντων πρὸς ἀλλήλους κραυγὴ τῶν βασιλείων ἐξεφοίτησεν εὐνούχων καὶ γυναικῶν ἅμα· εἴληπτο δὲ ἄρα εὐνοῦχός τις ἐπὶ μιᾷ τῶν τοῦ βασιλέως παλλακῶν ξυγκατακείμενός τε καὶ ὁπόσα οἱ μοιχοὶ πράττων, καὶ ἦγον αὐτὸν οἱ ἀμφὶ τὴν γυναικωνῖτιν ἐπισπῶντες τῆς κόμης, ὃν δὴ ἄγονται τρόπον οἱ βασιλέως δοῦλοι. ἐπεὶ δὲ ὁ πρεσβύτατος τῶν εὐνούχων ἐρῶντα μὲν τῆς γυναικὸς πάλαι ᾐσθῆσθαι ἔφη καὶ προειρηκέναι οἱ, μὴ προσδιαλέγεσθαι αὐτῇ, μηδὲ ἅπτεσθαι δέρης ἢ χειρός, μηδὲ κοσμεῖν ταύτην μόνην τῶν ἔνδον, νῦν δὲ καὶ ξυγκατακείμενον εὑρηκέναι καὶ ἀνδριζόμενον ἐπὶ τὴν γυναῖκα, ὁ μὲν Ἀπολλώνιος ἐς τὸν Δάμιν εἶδεν, ὡς δὴ τοῦ λόγου ἀποδεδειγμένου, ὃς ἐφιλοσοφεῖτο αὐτοῖς περὶ τοῦ καὶ εὐνούχων τὸ ἐρᾶν εἶναι, ὁ δὲ βασιλεὺς πρὸς τοὺς παρόντας “ἀλλ᾽ αἰσχρόν γε” εἶπεν “ὦ ἄνδρες, παρόντος ἡμῖν Ἀπολλωνίου περὶ σωφροσύνης ἡμᾶς, ἀλλὰ μὴ τοῦτον, ἀποφαίνεσθαι· τί οὖν κελεύεις, Ἀπολλώνιε, παθεῖν αὐτόν;”—”τί δὲ ἄλλο ἢ ζῆν;” εἶπε παρὰ τὴν πάντων ἀποκρινάμενος δόξαν. ἀνερυθριάσας οὖν ὁ βασιλεὺς “εἶτα οὐ πολλῶν” ἔφη “θανάτων ἄξιος ὑφέρπων οὕτως τὴν εὐνὴν τὴν ἐμήν;”—”ἀλλ᾽ οὐχ ὑπὲρ ξυγγνώμης” ἔφη “βασιλεῦ, ταῦτα εἶπον, ἀλλ᾽ ὑπὲρ τιμωρίας, ἣ ἀποκναίσει αὐτόν· εἰ γὰρ ζήσεται νοσῶν καὶ ἀδυνάτων ἁπτόμενος καὶ μήτε σῖτα μήτε ποτὰ ἥσει αὐτὸν μήτε θεάματα, ἃ σέ τε καὶ τούς σοι συνόντας εὐφρανεῖ, πηδήσεταί τε ἡ καρδία θαμὰ ἐκθρώσκοντος τοῦ ὕπνου, ὃ δὴ μάλιστα περὶ τοὺς ἐρῶντάς φασι γίγνεσθαι, καὶ, τίς μὲν οὕτω φθόη τήξει αὐτόν, τίς δὲ οὕτω λιμὸς ἐπιθρύψει τὰ σπλάγχνα; εἰ δὲ μὴ τῶν φιλοψύχων εἴη τις, αὐτός, ὦ βασιλεῦ, δεήσεταί σού ποτε καὶ ἀποκτεῖναι αὐτὸν ἢ ἑαυτόν γε ἀποκτενεῖ πολλὰ ὀλοφυρόμενος τὴν παροῦσαν ταύτην ἡμέραν, ἐν ᾗ μὴ εὐθὺς ἀπέθανε.” τοῦτο μὲν δὴ τοιοῦτον τοῦ Ἀπολλωνίου καὶ οὕτω σοφόν τε καὶ ἥμερον, ἐφ᾽ ᾧ ὁ βασιλεὺς ἀνῆκε τὸν θάνατον τῷ εὐνούχῳ.
(Philostratus, Apoll. 1.36)

While they were thus conversing with one another a hubbub was heard to proceed from the palace, of eunuchs and women shrieking all at once. And in fact an eunuch had been caught misbehaving with one of the royal concubines just as if he were an adulterer. The guards of the harem were now dragging him along by the hair in the way they do royal slaves. The senior of the eunuchs accordingly declared that he had long before noticed he had an affection for this particular lady, and had already forbidden him to talk to her or touch her neck or hand, or assist her toilette, though he was free to wait upon all the other members of the harem; yet he had now caught him behaving as if he were the lady’s lover. Apollonius thereupon glanced at Damis, as if to indicate that the argument they had conducted on the point that even eunuchs fall in love, was now demonstrated to be true; but the king remarked to the bystanders: “Nay, but it is disgraceful, gentlemen, that, in the presence of Apollonius, we should be enlarging on the subject of chastity rather than he. What then, O Apollonius, do you urge us to do with him?” “Why, to let him live, of course,” answered Apollonius to the surprise of them all. Whereon the king reddened, and said: “Then you do not think he deserves to die may times for thus trying to usurp my rights?” “Nay, but my answer, O king, was suggested not by any wish to condone his offense, but rather to mete out to him a punishment which will wear him out. For if he lives with this disease of impotence on him, and can never take pleasure in eating or drinking, nor in the spectacles which delight you and your companions, and if his heart will throb as he often leaps up in his sleep, as they say is particularly the case of people in love, – is there any form of consumption so wasting as this, any form of hunger so likely to enfeeble his bowels? Indeed, unless he be one of those who are ready to live at any price, he will entreat you, O king, before long even to slay him, or he will slay himself, deeply deploring that he was not put to death straight away this very day.” Such was the answer rendered on this occasion by Apollonius, one so wise and humane, that the king was moved by it to spare the life of his eunuch. (tr. Frederick Cornwallis Conybeare)

Kateaxan

museum

Ἄκουε δὴ λόγου ἀτόπου μέν, ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖς δὲ Ἑλλήνων πεπραγμένου. Ἰσθμοῖ γὰρ νόμου κειμένου μήτε κωμῳδίαν ἀγωνίζεσθαι μήτε τραγῳδίαν, ἐδόκει Νέρωνι τραγῳδοὺς νικᾶν. καὶ παρῆλθον εἰς τὴν ἀγωνίαν ταύτην πλείους μέν, ὁ δ’ Ἠπειρώτης ἄριστα φωνῆς ἔχων, εὐδοκιμῶν δ’ ἐπ’ αὐτῇ καὶ θαυμαζόμενος λαμπρότερα τοῦ εἰωθότος ἐπλάττετο καὶ τοῦ στεφάνου ἐρᾶν καὶ μηδ’ ἀνήσειν τῆς νίκης. ὁ δ’ ἠγρίαινέ τε καὶ μανικῶς εἶχε· καὶ γὰρ δὴ καὶ ἠκροᾶτο ὑπὸ τῇ σκηνῇ ἐπ’ αὐτῷ δὴ τἀγῶνι. βοώντων δὲ τῶν Ἑλλήνων ἐπὶ τῷ Ἠπειρώτῃ, πέμπει τὸν γραμματέα κελεύων ὑφεῖναι αὐτῷ τοῦτον. αὐτοῦ δὲ ὑπεραίροντος τὸ φθέγμα καὶ δημοτικῶς ἐρίζοντος εἰσπέμπει Νέρων ἐπ’ ὀκριβάντων τοὺς ἑαυτοῦ ὑποκριτὰς οἷον προσήκοντάς τι τῷ πράγματι· καὶ γὰρ δὴ καὶ δέλτους ἐλεφαντίνους καὶ διθύρους προβεβλημένοι αὐτὰς ὥσπερ ἐγχειρίδια καὶ τὸν Ἠπειρώτην ἀναστήσαντες πρὸς τὸν ἀγχοῦ κίονα κατέαξαν αὐτοῦ τὴν φάρυγγα παίοντες ὀρθαῖς ταῖς δέλτοις.
(Philostratus (?), Nero 8-9)

Listen then to a tale that may be extraordinary but yet took place before the eyes of Greeks. Although custom ordains that there should be no comic or tragic contests at the Isthmus, Nero resolved to win a tragic victory. This contest was entered by several including the man from Epirus*, who, having an excellent voice which had won him fame and admiration, was unusually ostentatious in pretending that he had set his heart on the crown of victory and wouldn’t give it up before Nero gave him ten talents as the price of victory. Nero was mad with rage; for he had been listening under the stage during the actual contest. When the Greeks shouted in applause of the Epirote, Nero sent his secretary to bid him yield to him. But he raised his voice and went on competing as if they were all free and equal, till Nero sent his own actors on to the platform as though they belonged to the act. For they held writing tablets of ivory and double ones indeed poised before them like daggers and, forcing the Epirote against the pillar near-by, they smashed his throat in with the edge of their tablets.

* Alternatively Epirotes may be the man’s name.

(tr. Matthew D. MacLeod, with his note)