Bōmolochon

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(C) Tim Booth

Ὥσπερ γὰρ ἰατροῦ σάρκα τέμνοντος εὐρυθμίαν τινὰ δεῖ καὶ καθαριότητα τοῖς ἔργοις ἐπιτρέχειν, ὀρχηστικὴν δὲ καὶ παράβολον καὶ περιτρέχουσαν ὑγρότητα καὶ περιεργίαν ἀπεῖναι τῆς χειρός, οὕτως ἡ παρρησία δέχεται τὸ ἐπιδέξιον καὶ τὸ ἀστεῖον, ἂν ἡ χάρις τὴν σεμνότητα σῴζῃ, θρασύτης δὲ καὶ βδελυρία καὶ ὕβρις προσοῦσα πάνυ διαφθείρει καὶ ἀπόλλυσιν. ὅθεν ὁ μὲν ψάλτης οὐκ ἀπιθάνως οὐδ’ ἀμούσως ἐπεστόμισε τὸν Φίλιππον ἐπιχειροῦντα περὶ κρουμάτων διαφέρεσθαι πρὸς αὐτόν, εἰπὼν “μὴ γένοιτό σοι οὕτως, ὦ βασιλεῦ, κακῶς, ἵν’ ἐμοῦ ταῦτα σὺ βέλτιον εἰδῇς.” Ἐπίχαρμος δ’ οὐκ ὀρθῶς, τοῦ Ἱέρωνος ἀνελόντος ἐνίους τῶν συνήθων καὶ μεθ’ ἡμέρας ὀλίγας καλέσαντος ἐπὶ δεῖπνον αὐτόν, “ἀλλὰ πρῴην,” ἔφη, “θύων τοὺς φίλους οὐκ ἐκάλεσας.” κακῶς δὲ καὶ Ἀντιφῶν, παρὰ Διονυσίῳ ζητήσεως οὔσης καὶ λόγου “ποῖος χαλκὸς ἄριστος,” “ἐκεῖνος,” εἶπεν, “ἐξ οὗ Ἀθήνησι κατεσκεύασαν τὰς Ἁρμοδίου καὶ Ἀριστογείτονος εἰκόνας.” οὔτε γὰρ ὠφελεῖ τούτων τὸ λυπηρὸν καὶ πικρόν, οὔτε τέρπει τὸ βωμολόχον καὶ παιδιῶδες, ἀλλ’ ἔστι κακοηθείᾳ καὶ ὕβρει μεμιγμένης ἀκρασίας μετ’ ἔχθρας τὸ τοιοῦτον εἶδος, ᾧ χρώμενοι προσαπολλύουσιν αὑτούς, τὴν περὶ τὸ φρέαρ ὄρχησιν ἀτεχνῶς ὀρχούμενοι.
(Plutarch, Pōs an tis diakrineie ton kolaka tou philou 67e-68b)

Just as a certain orderliness and neatness should pervade the work of a surgeon when he performs an operation, but his hand should forbear all dancing and reckless motions, all flourishes and superfluity of gesticulation, so frankness has plenty of room for tact and urbanity, if such graciousness does not impair the high office of frankness; but when effrontery and offensiveness and arrogance are coupled with it, they spoil and ruin it completely. There was point, therefore, and polish in the retort with which the harper stopped Philip’s mouth when Philip attempted to argue with him about playing upon his instrument. “God forbid,” said he, “that your Majesty should ever fall so low as to have a better knowledge of these matters than I.” But Epicharmus was not right in his retort upon Hiero, who had made away with some of his intimate friends, and then a few days later invited Epicharmus to dinner, “But the other day,” said Epicharmus, “you held a sacrifice without invitation, of friends!” As badly answered Antiphon, when the question was up for discussion in the presence of Dionysius as to “what is the best kind of bronze,”
and he said, “The kind from which they fashioned the statues of Harmodius and Aristogeiton* at Athens.” For the offensiveness and bitterness of such retorts profits nothing, their scurrility and frivolity gives no pleasure; but a retort of this kind betokens intemperance of the tongue combined with malice and arrogance, and not without enmity. By employing it men eventually bring about their own destruction, since they are simply “dancing on the edge of the pit.”

* The traditional “tyrannicides” of Athens.

(tr. Frank Cole Babbitt, with his note)

Hupokorizesthai

Busto di Solone (640 a.C ca-560 a.C ca), marmo

Ἃ δ’ οὖν οἱ νεώτεροι τοὺς Ἀθηναίους λέγουσι τὰς τῶν πραγμάτων δυσχερείας ὀνόμασι χρηστοῖς καὶ φιλανθρώποις ἐπικαλύπτοντας ἀστείως ὑποκορίζεσθαι, τὰς μὲν πόρνας ἑταίρας, τοὺς δὲ φόρους συντάξεις, φυλακὰς δὲ τὰς φρουρὰς τῶν πόλεων, οἴκημα δὲ τὸ δεσμωτήριον καλοῦντας, πρώτου Σόλωνος ἦν, ὡς ἔοικε, σόφισμα τὴν τῶν χρεῶν ἀποκοπὴν σεισάχθειαν ὀνομάσαντος.
(Plutarch, Bios Solōnos 15.2-3)

Now later writers observe that the ancient Athenians used to cover up the ugliness of things with auspicious and kindly terms, giving them polite and endearing names. Thus they called harlots “companions,” taxes “contributions,” the garrison of a city its “guard,” and the prison a “chamber.” But Solon was the first, it would seem, to use this device, when he called his cancelling of debts a “disburdenment.” (tr. Bernadotte Perrin)

Tharsei

Ἐπιρρητέον δὲ καὶ τῷ τοῦ Αἰσχύλου
θάρσει· πόνου γὰρ ἄκρον οὐκ ἔχει χρόνον [fr. 352]
ὅτι τοῦτ’ ἐστὶ τὸ παρ’ Ἐπικούρου θρυλούμενον ἀεὶ καὶ θαυμαζόμενον, ὡς “οἱ μεγάλοι πόνοι συντόμως ἐξάγουσιν, οἱ δὲ χρόνιοι μέγεθος οὐκ ἔχουσιν.” ὧν τὸ μὲν εἴρηκεν ὁ Αἰσχύλος ἐναργῶς, τὸ δὲ τῷ εἰρημένῳ παρακείμενόν ἐστιν· εἰ γὰρ ὁ μέγας καὶ σύντονος οὐ παραμένει πόνος, οὐκ ἔστι μέγας ὁ παραμένων οὐδὲ δυσκαρτέρητος.
(Plutarch, Pōs dei ton neon poiēmatōn akouein 36B)

And on the words of Aeschylus,
Fear not; great stress of pain is not for long,
we ought to remark that this is the oft repeated and much admired statement originating with Epicurus, namely “that great pains have no magnitude.” Of these two ideas Aeschylus has perspicuously stated the one and the other is a corollary thereto; for if great and intense pain is not lasting, then that which does not last is not great or hard to endure. (tr. Frank Cole Babbitt)

Amempton

Ἔτι δὲ μᾶλλον ἠδόξησε Τάχῳ τῳ Αἰγυπτίῳ στρατηγὸν ἐπιδοὺς ἑαυτόν. οὐ γὰρ ἠξίουν ἄνδρα τῆς Ἑλλάδος ἄριστον κεκριμένον καὶ δόξης ἐμπεπληκότα τὴν οἰκουμένην, ἀποστάτῃ βασιλέως, ἀνθρώπῳ βαρβάρῳ, χρῆσαι τὸ σῶμα καὶ τοὔνομα καὶ τὴν δόξαν ἀποδόσθαι χρημάτων, ἔργα μισθοφόρου καὶ ξεναγοῦ διαπραττόμενον. κεἰ γὰρ ὑπὲρ ὀγδοήκοντα γεγονὼς ἔτη καὶ πᾶν ὑπὸ τραυμάτων τὸ σῶμα κατακεκομμένος ἐκείνην αὖθις ἀνεδέξατο τὴν καλὴν καὶ περίβλεπτον ἡγεμονίαν ὑπὲρ τῆς τῶν Ἑλλήνων ἐλευθερίας, οὐ πάμπαν ἄμεμπτον εἶναι τὴν φιλοτιμίαν· τοῦ γὰρ καλοῦ καιρὸν οἰκεῖον εἶναι καὶ ὥραν, μᾶλλον δὲ ὅλως τὰ καλὰ τῶν αἰσχρῶν τῷ μετρίῳ διαφέρειν.
(Plutarch, Bios Agesilaou 36.1-2)

He* lost still more reputation by offering to take a command under Tachos the Egyptian. For it was thought unworthy that man who had been judged noblest and best in Hellas, and who had filled the world with his fame, should furnish a rebel against the Great King, a mere Barbarian, with his person, his name, and his fame, and take money for him, rendering the service of a hired captain of mercenaries. For even if, now that he was past eighty years of age and his whole body was disfigured with wounds, he had taken up again his noble and conspicuous leadership in behalf of the freedom of the Hellenes, his ambition would not have been altogether blameless, as men thought. For honourable action has its fitting time and season; nay, rather, it is the observance of due bounds that constitutes an utter difference between honourable and base actions.

* Agesilaus II of Sparta

(tr. Bernadotte Perrin)

Kēruttō

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Ἐρωτηθεὶς δὲ πότερον Ἀχιλλεύς ἐβούλετ’ ἂν ἢ Ὅμηρος εἶναι, “σὺ δ’ αὐτός,” ἔφη, “πότερον ἤθελες ὁ νικῶν Ὀλυμπίασιν ἢ ὁ κηρύττων τοὺς νικῶντας εἶναι;”
(Plutarch, Apophthegmata Basileōn kai Stratēgōn 185a)

Being asked whether he would rather have been Achilles or Homer, he said, “How about you yourself? Would you rather be the victor at the Olympic games or the announcer of the victor?” (tr. Frank Cole Babbitt)

Periemenon

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Ἀχθείσης δὲ παιδίσκης πρὸς αὐτὸν* ὡς συναναπαυσομένης περὶ ἑσπέραν βαθεῖαν, ἠρώτησεν ὅ τι τηνικαῦτα; τῆς δὲ εἰπούσης, “περιέμενον γὰρ τὸν ἄνδρα κατακλῖναι,” πικρῶς ἐπετίμησε τοῖς παισὶν ὡς μικροῦ δι’ αὐτοὺς μοιχὸς γενόμενος.

* sc. Ἀλέξανδρον

(Plutarch, Apophthegmata Basileōn kai Stratēgōn 179e)

A girl was brought to him late in the evening with the intent that she should spend the night with him, and he asked her, “Why at this time?” She replied, “I had to wait to get my husband to go to bed”; whereupon Alexander bitterly rebuked his servants, since, owing to them, he had so narrowly escaped becoming an adulterer. (tr. Frank Cole Babbitt)

Paideia

Ἡ παιδεία, κἂν μηδὲν ἕτερον ἀγαθὸν ἔχῃ, τό γε συμφοιτᾶν δι’ αὐτὴν νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας ἔξω κακίας, οἷς ἂν ᾖ τις αἰδώς· καὶ πολλοὶ σφᾶς αὐτοὺς καὶ ἄλλους.
(Plutarch, fr. 159)

Even if education has no other merits, attending school at least keeps pupils who have any sense of decency away from wrongdoing, whether by day or by night. (tr. James C. McKeown)