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LUCILLIUS : EPIGRAMS


Apart from the fact that he wrote during the reign of the emperor Nero, little is known about Lucillius; even his name is very uncertain. But he was the most important Greek writer of satirical verse; and he clearly had an influence on Latin poets such as Martial. The best modern guide to his poetry is by G.Nisbet, "Greek Epigram in the Roman Empire", who discusses the vexed question of the poet's identity in chapter 5 ( Google Books ).

All of his surviving epigrams are shown here, in the order that they appear scattered throughout the Greek Anthology. The labels in red at the start of each epigram are their numbers within the Anthology. The labels in green are the numbers assigned to the epigrams in the edition by L.Floridi, "Lucillio, Epigrammi: Introduzione, testo critico, traduzione e commento" ( Google Books ) - the epigrams designated by numbers 128-142 are likely to be spurious. To go to a specific epigram in Floridi's edition, type the number in the box below, and hit [go].
  → (in range 1 - 142):  
 

The translations are taken from the edition by W.R.Paton (1916-18), but have been modified to remove some of the archaic language. The translator's notes are shown in green.   Click on G to go to the Greek text of each epigram.



[5.68]   { ? 133 }   G

Either put an entire stop to loving, Eros, or else add being loved, so that you may either abolish desire or temper it.


[6.164]   { ? 128 }   G

To Glaucus, Nereus, and Melicertes, Ino's son, to the Lord of the Depths, the son of Cronus, and to the Samothracian gods, do I, Lucillius, saved from the deep, offer these locks clipped from my head, for I have nothing else.


[6.166]   { F 1 }   G

Dionysius, the only one saved out of forty sailors, dedicated here the image of his hydrocele, tying which close to his thighs he swam to shore. So even a hydrocele brings luck on some occasions.


[9.55]   { ? 129 }   G

If anyone who has reached old age prays for life, he deserves to go on growing old for many decades.


[9.572]   { F 2 }   G

"Let us begin our song from the Heliconian Muses" ; so Hesiod wrote, *   they say, while he kept his sheep. "Sing, O goddess, the wrath," and "Tell me, Muse, the man," said Calliope by the mouth of Homer. Now I have got to write a proem of some sort. But what shall I write now I am beginning to publish this second book ? "Olympian Muses, daughters of Zeus, I should not have been saved unless Nero Caesar had given me money."

*   Theog. 1.


[9.573]   { ? 134 }   G

Sit not, O man, at another's table indulging your belly with the bread of reproach, now weeping with the weeper and the sour-countenanced, and now laughing with the laugher, sharing both laughter and tears when you have no need of either.


[9.574]   { ? 135 }   G

I, too, thrice unhappy Anaxis, carted along the burden of this weary life that is no life. Yet I did not pull it for long, but kicking away this distraught life I went to Hades.


[10.122]   { ? 136 }   G

Heaven can do many things even though they be unlikely; it exalts the little and casts down the great. Your lofty looks and pride it shall make to cease, even though a river may bring you streams of gold. The wind does not hurt the rush or the mallow, but it can lay the greatest oaks and planes low on the ground.


[11.10]   { F 3 }   G

You know the rule of my little banquets. To-day, Aulus, I invite you under new convivial laws. No lyric poet shall sit there and recite, and you yourself shall neither trouble us nor be troubled with literary discussions.


[11.11]   { F 4 }   G

I never knew, Epicrates, that you were a tragedian or a choral flute-player or any other sort of person whose business it is to have a chorus with them. But I invited you alone ; you, however, came bringing with you from home a chorus of dancing slaves, *   to whom you hand all the dishes over your shoulder as a gift. If this is to be so, make the slaves sit down at table and we will come and stand at their feet to serve.

*   By "dancing" he means only "very active in their attendance on you."


[11.68]   { F 5 }   G

Some say, Nicylla, that you dye your hair, but you bought it as black as coal in the market.


[11.69]   { F 6 }   G

Themistonoē, three times a crow's age, when she dyes her grey hair becomes suddenly not young (nea) but Rhea. *  

*   The mother of the gods.


[11.75]   { F 7 }   G

This Olympicus who is now such as you see him, Augustus, once had a nose, a chin, a forehead, ears and eyelids. Then becoming a professional boxer he lost all, not even getting his share of his father's inheritance ; for his brother presented a likeness of him he had and he was pronounced to be a stranger, as he bore no resemblance to it.


[11.76]   { F 8 }   G

Having such a mug, Olympicus, go not to a fountain nor look into any transparent water, for you, like Narcissus, seeing your face clearly, will die, hating yourself to the death.


[11.77]   { F 9 }   G

When Odysseus after twenty years came safe to his home, Argos the dog recognised his appearance when he saw him, but you, Stratophon, after boxing for four hours, have become not only unrecognisable to dogs but to the city. If you will trouble to look at your face in a glass, you will say on your oath, "I am not Stratophon."


[11.78]   { F 10 }   G

Your head, Apollophanes, has become a sieve, or the lower edge of a worm-eaten book, all exactly like ant-holes, crooked and straight, or musical notes Lydian and Phrygian. But go on boxing without fear ; for even if you are struck on the head you will have the marks you have - you can't have more.


[11.79]   { F 11 }   G

Cleombrotus ceased to be a pugilist, but afterwards married and now has at home all the blows of the Isthmian and Nemean games, a pugnacious old woman hitting as hard as in the Olympian fights, and he dreads his own house more than he ever dreaded the ring. Whenever he gets his wind, he is beaten with all the strokes known in every match to make him pay her his debt *   ; and if he pays it, he is beaten again.

*   i.e. his marital devoir.


[11.80]   { F 12 }   G

His competitors set up here the statue of Apis the boxer, for he never hurt anyone.


[11.81]   { F 13 }   G

I, Androleos, took part in every boxing contest that the Greeks preside over, every single one. At Pisa I saved one ear, and in Plataea one eyelid, but at Delphi I was carried out insensible. Damoteles, my father, and my fellow-townsmen had been summoned by herald *   to bear me out of the stadium either dead or mutilated.

*   As was done after a battle.

On Runners (82-86)

[11.83]   { F 14 }   G

Of late the great earth made everything quake, but only the runner Erasistratus it did not move from his place. *  

*   He is ridiculing of course the runner's extreme slowness.


[11.84]   { F 15 }   G

None among the competitors was thrown quicker than myself and none ran the race slower. With the discus I never came near the rest, I never was able to lift my legs for a jump and a cripple could throw the javelin better than I. I am the first who out of the five events was proclaimed beaten in all five. *  

*   He pretends that this athlete had entered for the pentathlon, which consisted of wrestling, running, quoit throwing, jumping, and throwing the javelin.


[11.85]   { F 16 }   G

Marcus once running in armour, went on until it was midnight, so that the course was closed on all sides; for the public servants all thought that he was one of the honorary stone statues of men in armour set up there. What happened ? Why next year they opened, and Marcus came in, but a whole stadion *   behind.

*   i.e. the whole length of the course. He had not moved at all.


[11.87]   { F 17 }   G

The house five fathoms long had room for tall Timomachus if he always lay on the floor ; but if he ever wanted to stand, his slaves had to bore a hole in the roof in the morning five feet by five.


[11.88]   { F 18 }   G

A gnat carried off little Erotiŏn as she was playing. "What is going to happen to me ?" she said, "Do you want me, father Zeus ?" *  

*   Alluding to the story of Ganymedes, who was carried off by an eagle to serve Zeus.


[11.89]   { F 19 }   G

Short Hermogenes when he lets anything fall on the ground pulls it down with a halberd. *  

*   An absurd hyperbole. Even things on the ground are too high for him to get at.


[11.90]   { F 20 }   G

Do you know, Dionysius, that little Marcus, being angry with his father, set a nut on end and hanged himself on it.


[11.91]   { F 21 }   G

Thin Stratonicus fixed on a reed a spike of corn and attaching himself to it by a hair hanged himself. And what happened ? He was not heavy enough to hang down, but his dead body flies in the air above his gallows, although there is no wind.


[11.92]   { F 22 }   G

Lean Gaius, when he breathed his last yesterday, left absolutely nothing to be carried to the grave, and finally going down to Hades just as he was when alive flutters there the thinnest of the skeletons under earth. His kinsmen bore on their shoulders his empty bier, writing above it "This is the funeral of Gaius."


[11.93]   { F 23 }   G

Lean Marcus once made a hole with his head in one of Epicurus' atoms and went through the middle of it.


[11.94]   { F 24 }   G

Lean Marcus sounding a trumpet just blew into it and went straight headforemost down it.


[11.95]   { F 25 }   G

A small mouse finding little Macron asleep one summer's day dragged him into its hole by his foot. But he in the hole, though unarmed, strangled the mouse and said, "Father Zeus, you have a second Heracles."


[11.99]   { F 26 }   G

As thin little Proclus was blowing the fire the smoke took him up and went off with him from here through the window. With difficulty he swam to a cloud and came down through it wounded in a thousand places by the little atoms.


[11.100]   { F 27 }   G

Gaius was so very light that he used to dive with a stone or lead hung from his foot.


[11.101]   { F 28 }   G

Demetrius, fanning slight little Artemidora in her sleep, fanned her off the roof. *  

*   i.e. the flat roof on which people sleep in the East.


[11.103]   { F 29 }   G

Epicurus wrote that all the world consisted of atoms, thinking, Alcimus, that an atom was the most minute thing. But if Diophantus had existed then he would have written that it consisted of Diophantus, who is much more minute than the atoms. Or he would have written that other things were composed of atoms, but the atoms themselves, Alcimus, of Diophantus.


[11.104]   { F 30 }   G

Poor Menestratus once, riding on an ant as if it were an elephant, was suddenly stretched on his back. When it trod on him and he was breathing his last, "O Envy!" he exclaimed, "thus riding perished Phaethon too."


[11.105]   { F 31 }   G

I was looking for great Eumecius, and he was asleep with his arms stretched out under a small saucer.


[11.106]   { F 32 }   G

Chaeremon caught by a slight freeze was floating in the air, much lighter than a straw. He would soon have been swept away through the air, if he had not caught his feet in a spider's web and hung there on his back. Here he hung for five days and nights, and on the sixth day came down by a thread of the web.


[11.107]   { F 33 }   G

Chaeremon fell flat on his back, struck by a poplar leaf carried by the wind, and he lies on the ground like Tityus or rather like a caterpillar, stretching on the ground his skeleton *   body.

*   The word canabos means the block round which a sculptor moulds his clay.


[11.111]   { F 34 }   G

Lean Diophantus once wishing to hang himself took a thread from a spider's web and did so.

On Physicians (112-126)

[11.112]   { F 35 }   G

Before he anoints your eyes, Demostratus, say " Adieu dear light," so successful is Dion. Not only did he blind Olympicus, but through his treatment of him put out the eyes of the portrait of himself he had.


[11.113]   { F 36 }   G

The physician Marcus laid his hand yesterday on the stone Zeus, and though he is of stone and Zeus he is to be buried to-day.


[11.114]   { F 37 }   G

The astrologer Diophantus told Hermogenes the doctor that he had only nine months to live, and he, smiling, said, "You understand what Saturn says will happen in nine months, but my treatment is more expeditious for you." Having said so he reached out his hand and only touched him, and Diophantus, trying to drive another to despair, himself gave his last gasp.


[11.115]   { F 38 }   G

If you have an enemy, Dionysius, call not down on him the curse of Isis or Harpocrates or of any god who blinds men, but call on Simon and you will see what a god's power is and what Simon's is.


[11.116]   { F 39 }   G

Lord Caesar, as they tell, Eurystheus once sent down great Heracles to the house of Hades ; but now Menophanes the physician has sent me. So let him be called Doctor Eurystheus and no longer Doctor Menophanes.


[11.131]   { F 40 }   G

Nor water in Deucalion's day when all became water, nor Phaethon who burned up the inhabitants of the earth, slew so many men as Potamon the poet and Hermogenes by his surgery killed. So from the beginning of the ages there have been these four curses, Deucalion, Phaethon, Hermogenes and Potamon.


[11.132]   { F 41 }   G

I hate, Lord Caesar, those who are never pleased with any young writer, even if he says "Sing, O Goddess, the wrath," but if a man is not as old as Priam, if he is not half bald and not so very much bent, they say he can't write a-b-c. But, Zeus most high, if this really be so, wisdom visits but the ruptured.


[11.133]   { F 42 }   G

Eutychides the lyric poet is dead. Fly, O people who dwell under earth ; Eutychides is coming with odes, and he ordered them to burn with him twelve lyres and twenty-five cases of music. Now indeed Charon has got hold of you. Where can one depart to in future, since Eutychides is established in Hades too?


[11.134]   { F 43 }   G

Shall we begin, Heliodorus ? Shall we play thus at these poems together? Do you wish it, Heliodorus?   "Come near, that swifter you may reach Death's goal " ; *   for you will see in me a master of tedious twaddle more Heliodorian than yourself.

*   From Iliad vi. 143.


[11.135]   { F 44 }   G

No longer, Marcus, no longer lament the boy, but me, who am much more dead than that child of yours. Make elegies, hangman, now for me, make dirges for me who am slain by this versified death. For all for the sake of that dead child of yours I suffer what I would the inventors of books and pens might suffer. *  

*   This and the following two are skits on versifiers who insisted on reciting to their friends.


[11.136]   { F 45 }   G

No sword so maleficent was ever forged by man for sudden treacherous attack as is the undeclared war of murderous hexameters, Callistratus, that you come to wage with me. Sound the retreat on the bugle at once, for even Priam by his tears gained his foes' consent (?) to an armistice. *  

*   A parody of Aratus, Phaen, 131


[11.137]   { F 46 }   G

You serve me a slice of raw beef, Heliodorus, and pour me out three cups of wine rawer than the beef, and then you wash me out at once with epigrams. If sinning against heaven I have eaten one of the oxen from Trinacria, I would like to gulp down the sea at once *   - but if the sea is too far from here, take me up and throw me into a well.

*   To drown like the companions of Odysseus in punishment for eating the oxen of the Sun in the island Trinacria.

On Grammarians (138-140)

[11.138]   { F 47 }   G

If I only think of the grammarian Heliodorus, my tongue at once commits solecisms and I suffer from impediment of speech. *  

*   cp. No. 148 below.


[11.139]   { F 48 }   G

Zenonis keeps Menander the bearded grammar-teacher, and says she has entrusted her son to him ; but he never stops at night making her practise cases, *   conjunctions, figures, and conjugations.

*   Literally "falls."


[11.140]   { F 49 }   G

To these prattlers, these verse-fighters of the supper table, these puzzle-headed grammarians of Aristarchus' school who care not for making a joke or drinking, but lie there playing infantile games with Nestor and Priam, cast me not literally "to be their prey and spoil." *   To-day I don't sup on "Sing, O Goddess, the wrath."

*   Quoted from Odyssey iii. 271.

On Rhetors (141-152)

[11.141]   { F 50 }   G

I lost a little pig and a cow and one nanny-goat, and on account of them you received your little fee, Menecles. I never had anything in common with Othryades nor do I prosecute the three hundred from Thermopylae for theft; my suit is against Eutychides, so that here how do Xerxes and the Spartans help me? I beg you just to mention me for form's sake, or I will call out loud "One thing says Menecles, and another thing says the piggy." *  

*   He is ridiculing lawyers who were fond of dragging classical allusions into their speeches. Martial vi. 19 should be compared.


[11.142]   { F 51 }   G

After having studied "Far be it," and sphin and thrice in each period, "Gentlemen of the jury," and "Here, usher, repeat the law for me," and "This way," and "I put it to you," and "two score," and "certain alleged," and indeed "By heaven," and "Forsooth," Crito is an orator and teaches numbers of children, and to these phrases he will add gru, phathi, and min.

*   He is here ridiculing declaimers who ornamented their speeches with phrases from Demosthenes and the old orators. The words are all obsolete forms.


[11.143]   { F 52 }   G

Pluto will not receive the orator Marcus when dead, saying, "Let our one dog Cerberus be enough here ; but if you wish to come in at any cost, declaim to Ixion, Melito *   the lyric poet, and Tityus. For I have no evil worse than thee, until the day when Rufus the grammarian shall come here with his solecisms."

*   See No. 246.


[11.148]   { F 53 }   G

Flaccus the orator made solecisms the other day without even speaking, and when he was about to yawn at once was guilty of a barbarism, and now goes on making solecisms by signs with his hand, and I, seeing him, am tongue-tied. *  

*   cp. No. 138, where the same phrase is used. In both cases it means "I dare not open my mouth for fear of making a solecism."


[11.153]   { F 54 }   G

No one at all denies, Menestratus, that you are a cynic and bare-footed and that you are shivering. But if you shamelessly steal loaves and broken pieces on the sly, I have a stick, and they call you a dog. *  

*   i.e. as you are a dog {i.e. a cynic) I will beat you.


[11.154]   { F 55 }   G

Everyone who is poor and illiterate does not grind corn as formerly or carry burdens for small pay, but grows a beard and picking up a stick from the cross-roads, calls himself the chief dog of virtue. This is the sage pronouncement of Hermodotus, "If anyone is penniless, let him throw off his shirt *   and no longer starve."

*   The cynics went without tunics.


[11.155]   { ? 130 }   G

"This solid adamant of virtue, this rebuker of everyone, this fighter with the cold, with his long beard, has been caught."   "At what ?"   "It is not proper to say at what, but he was caught doing things that foul-mouthed people do."


[11.159]   { F 56 }   G

All the astrologers as it were with one voice prophesied to my father a ripe old age for his brother. Hermoclides alone foretold his premature death, but he foretold it when we were lamenting over his corpse in the house.


[11.160]   { F 57 }   G

All those who take horoscopes from observing Mars and Saturn are deserving of one cudgelling. I shall see them perhaps at no distant date really learning what a bull can do and how strong a lion is. *  

*   i.e. exposed to beasts in the theatre.


[11.161]   { F 58 }   G

Onesimus the boxer came to the prophet Olympus wishing to learn if he were going to live to old age. And he said, "Yes, if you give up the ring now, but if you go on boxing, Saturn *   is your horoscope."

*   The most unlucky of the planets.


[11.163]   { F 59 }   G

Onesimus the wrestler and the pentathlete Hylas and the runner Menecles came to the prophet Olympus wishing to know which of them was going to win at the games, and he, after inspecting the sacrifice, said, "You will all win - unless anyone passes you, Sir, or unless anyone throws you, Sir, or unless anyone runs past you, Sir."


[11.164]   { F 60 }   G

Aulus the astrologer, after making out his own nativity, said that the fatal hour had come and that he had still four hours to live. When it reached the fifth hour and he had to go on living convicted of ignorance, he grew ashamed of Petosiris *   and hanged himself, and there up in the air he is dying, but he is dying ignorant.

*   An astrological writer.

On Misers (165-173)

[11.165]   { F 61 }   G

Criton the miser, when he has a pain in his stomach refreshes himself by smelling not mint, but a penny piece.


[11.171]   { F 62 }   G

Hermocrates the miser when he was dying wrote himself his own heir in his will, and he lay there reckoning what fee he must pay the doctors if he leaves his bed and how much his illness costs him. But when he found it cost one drachma more if he were saved, "It pays," he said, "to die," and stiffened himself out. Thus he lies, having nothing but an obol, and his heirs were glad to seize on his wealth.


[11.172]   { F 63 }   G

Aulus the miser drowned in the sea a child that was born to him, reckoning how much it would cost him if he kept it.


[11.173]   { ? 137 }   G

If you have lent out some of it, and give some now, and are going to give some more, you are never master of your money.

On Thieves (174-184)

[11.174]   { F 64 }   G

Dio yesterday stole Cypris all of gold, just risen from her mother sea, and he also pulled down with his hand Adonis of beaten gold and the little Love that stood by. Even the best thieves that ever were will now say, " No longer do we enter into a contest of dexterity with you." *  

*   This epigram is a parody of a subsequent one, xvi. 178.


[11.175]   { F 65 }   G

Eutychides stole the god himself by whom he was about to swear, saying, "I can't swear by you." *  

* I suppose the point is, "I can't well swear by you that I did not steal you and thus get into trouble with you for perjury."


[11.176]   { F 66 }   G

As he carried off the winged Hermes, the servant of the gods, the Lord of the Arcadians, the cattle-raider, who stood here as curator of this gymnasium, Aulus the night-thief said, " Many pupils are cleverer than their teachers."


[11.177]   { F 67 }   G

Eutychides stole Phoebus the detector of thieves, saying, "Speak not too much, but compare your art with mine and your oracles with my hands and a prophet with a thief and a god with Eutychides. And because of your unbridled tongue you shall be sold at once, and then say of me what you wish to your purchasers."


[11.178]   { F 68 }   G

Herdsman, feed your flock far away, lest Pericles the thief drive you and your cattle off together.


[11.179]   { F 69 }   G

If Dion had feet like his hands, Dion, and Hermes no longer, would be distinguished among men as winged.


[11.183]   { F 70 }   G

Heliodorus, hearing that Saturn troubles nativities, carried off the golden Saturn at night from the temple, saying : "Experience by fact, my Lord, which of us anticipated the other in working evil, and you shall know which of us is the Saturn of which. 'Who works evil for another, works it for his own heart.' *   Fetch me a good price and portend what you will by your rising."

*   A line of Callimachus.


[11.184]   { F 71 }   G

From the Hesperides' Garden of Zeus, *   Meniscus, as Heracles did formerly, carried off three golden apples. Well, what happened ? When he was caught he became a famous spectacle for all, burning alive, like Heracles of old.

*   He probably means "from the Emperor's garden."

On Singers and Actors (185-189)

[11.185]   { F 72 }   G

Hegelochus, my Lord Caesar, once emptied a Greek city by appearing to sing the part of Nauplius. *   Nauplius is ever an evil to the Greeks, either sending a great wave on their ships or having a lyre-singer to play his part.

*   Nauplius caused the destruction of the Greek fleet on its return from Troy by exhibiting deceptive beacons.


[11.189]   { F 73 }   G

Apollophanes the tragedian sold for five obols the stage property of five gods, the club of Heracles, Tisiphone's instruments of terror, the trident of Poseidon, the shield of Athena, and the quiver of Artemis. "And the gods that sit beside Zeus" *   were stripped to get a few coppers to buy a little bread and wine.

*   From Hom.Il. iv.1.

On Barbers (190-191)

[11.190]   { F 74 }   G

The barber is puzzled to know where to begin to shave the head of hairy Hermogenes, as he seems to be all head.


[11.191]   { F 75 }   G

"Ares, Ares, destroyer of men, blood-fiend," *   cease, barber, from cutting me, for you have no place left in which to cut me. But change now to my muscles and my legs below the knees, and cut me there, and I will let you. For even now the shop is full of flies, and if you persist, you will see the tribes of vultures and ravens here.

*   Hom.Il. v.455.

On Envy (192-193)

[11.192]   { F 76 }   G

Envious Diophon, seeing another man near him crucified on a higher cross than himself, fell into a decline.


[11.194]   { F 77 }   G

To Pan who loves the cave, and the Nymphs that haunt the hills, and to the Satyrs and to the holy Hamadryads within the cave, Marcus . . . , having killed nothing with his dogs and boar-spears, hung up the dogs themselves.


[11.196]   { F 78 }   G

Bito, with a face three times worse than a monkey's, enough to make even Hecate hang herself for envy if she saw it, says, "I am chaste, Lucilius, and sleep alone ;" for perhaps she is ashamed of saying "I am a virgin." But may whoever hates me marry such a horror and have children of similar chastity.


[11.197]   { F 79 }   G

Hieronymus formerly wanted to be too drimys {sharp} ; now he has the dri, but the mys has turned into los . *  

*   He has become drilos {circumcised}, the opposite of what he wished.


[11.205]   { F 80 }   G

Eutychides when he came to supper, Dionysius, did not leave Aulus *   a single scrap, but handed everything to his servant behind him, and now Eutychides has a great supper in his house, and Aulus, not invited, sits eating dry bread.

*   His host.


[11.206]   { F 81 }   G

So may you be able, Dionysius, to digest all these things you are eating, but for custom's sake give us something to eat here too. I was invited also, and Publius served some of these things for me too to taste, and my portion too is on the board. Unless, seeing that I am thin, you think I was ill when I sat down to table, and so watch me thus in case I eat something unnoticed by you. *  

*   It looks a little as if Dionysius, the greedy guest he addresses, were a doctor.


[11.207]   { F 82 }   G

You eat as much as five wolves, Gamus, and you hand to your slave behind you all that is over, not only your own portion, but that of those round you. But come to-morrow with your slave's basket, and bring sawdust and a sponge and a broom. *  

*   i.e. to sweep up all the fragments; he is even told to bring the sawdust which it was customary to sprinkle before sweeping.


[11.208]   { F 83 }   G

As a racer Eutychides was slow, but he ran to supper so quickly that they said, "Eutychides is flying."


[11.210]   { F 84 }   G

Aulus the soldier stops his ears when he sees charcoal or laurel, wrapping his yellow hems tight round his head, *   and he shudders at his own useless sword; and if you ever say, "They are coming," he falls flat on his back. No Polemon or Stratocleides will he approach, but always has Lysimachus for a friend.

*   This is the only meaning I can elicit from this possibly corrupt couplet. The soldier is supposed to be afraid of the crackling of charcoal or laurel when lighted. Yellow was a military colour.


[11.211]   { F 85 }   G

When Calpurnius the soldier saw the battle by the ships *   painted on a wall, as is the custom, the warrior lay stretched out pulseless and pale, calling out, "Quarter, ye Trojans dear to Ares." Then he enquired if he had been wounded, and with difficulty believed he was alive when he had agreed to pay ransom to the wall.

*   At Troy, as described in Homer's Iliad, book 13.

On Painters (212-215)

[11.212]   { F 86 }   G

I ordered you, Diodorus, to paint a pretty child, but you produce a child strange to me, putting a dog's head on his shoulders, so that I weep to think how my Zopyrion was born to me by Hecuba. And finally I, Erasistratus the butcher, have got for six drachmas a son Anubis *   from the shrines of Isis.

*   The dog-headed god worshipped together with Isis. In Iseiōn there is probably a pun on the Latin insicia, "sausage-meat."


[11.214]   { F 87 }   G

Having painted Deucalion and Phaethon, Menestratus, you enquire which of them is worth anything. We will appraise them according to their own fate. Phaethon is truly worthy of the fire and Deucalion of the water.


[11.215]   { F 88 }   G

Eutychus the painter was the father of twenty sons, but never got a likeness even among his children.

On Lewd Livers (216-223)

[11.216]   { F 89 }   G

You have heard of Cratippus as a lover of boys. It is a great marvel I have to tell you, but great goddesses are the Avengers. We discovered that Cratippus, the lover of boys, belongs now to another variety of those persons whose tastes lie in an inverse direction. Would I ever have expected this ? I expected it, Cratippus. Shall 1 go mad because, while you told everyone you were a wolf, you suddenly turned out to be a kid?


[11.217]   { F 90 }   G

To avoid suspicion, Apollophanes married and walked as a bridegroom through the middle of the market, saying, "To-morrow at once I will have a child." Then when to-morrow came he appeared carrying the suspicion instead of a child.


[11.233]   { F 91 }   G

Phaedrus the man of business and the painter Rufus contended as to which of them would copy quickest and most truly. But while Rufus was about to mix his paints Phaedrus took and wrote out a renouncement of Rufus' claim faithful as a picture. *  

*   i.e. admirably forged. Phaedrus owed Rufus money.


[11.234]   { F 92 }   G

If Craterus' feet and hands were sound, his head was not, when he wrote such stuff.


[11.239]   { F 93 }   G

Not Homer's Chimaera breathed such foul breath, not the fire-breathing herd of bulls of which they tell, not all Lemnos *   nor the excrements of the Harpies, nor Philoctetes' putrefying foot. So that in universal estimation, Telesilla, you surpass Chimaerae, rotting sores, bulls, birds, and the women of Lemnos.

*   The women of Lemnos, who had killed their husbands, were afflicted by Aphrodite with an evil odour.


[11.240]   { F 94 }   G

Demostratis not only breathes herself the stink of a he-goat, but makes those who smell her breathe the same.


[11.245]   { F 95 }   G

The sides of the ship, Diophantes, let in all the waves, and through the ports ocean enters ; and we see swimming in your ship herds of dolphins and the bright children of Nereus. But if we wait longer someone will soon be sailing inside this our ship, for there is no more water left in the sea.


[11.246]   { F 96 }   G

From what quarry, Dionysius, did you hew these timbers ? Of what mill-stones is the ship built ? For if I know anything about it, it is a kind of lead, not oak or pine, and the lower part of me is nearly taking root. Perhaps I shall suddenly become a stone, and then the worst of it is Meliton will write a rotten drama about me as if I were Niobe.

*   The ship is supposed to be speaking.


[11.247]   { F 97 }   G

Of a truth, Dionysius, we the seas *   sail, and the ship is full of every sea from all parts. The Adriatic, the Tyrrhene Sea, the Gulf of Issa, the Aegean, arc running dry. This is no ship, but a wooden fountain of ocean. To arms, Caesar ! Dionysius begins already not to command a ship, but to command the seas.

*   pelagos may be taken either as accusative or nominative. In the former case the meaning is "we sail the seas," in the latter "we, the seas, are sailing."


[11.249]   { F 98 }   G

Menophanes bought a field, and from hunger hanged himself on another man's oak. When he was dead they had no earth to throw over him from above, but he was buried for payment in the ground of one of his neighbours. If Epicurus had known of Menophanes' field he would have said that everything is full of fields, not of atoms.


[11.253]   { F 99 }   G

From what oak-trees did your father cut you, Ariston, or from what mill-stone quarry did he hew you ? For indeed you are a dancer "made of a venerable tree or of stone," the living original of Niobe ; so that I wonder and say: "You, too, must have had some quarrel with Leto, or else you would not have been naturally made of stone."

*   Hom. Od. xix.163.


[11.254]   { F 100 }   G

You played in the ballet everything according to the story, but by overlooking one very important action you highly displeased us. Dancing the part of Niobe you stood like a stone, and again when you were Capaneus you suddenly fell down. But in the case of Canace *   you were not clever, for you had a sword, but yet left the stage alive; that was not according to the story.

*   Capaneus fell from the scaling-ladder struck by lightning at the siege of Thebes; and Canace killed herself when her incestuous attachment to her brother, Macareus, was discovered.


[11.256]   { F 101 }   G

They say you spend a long time in the bath, Heliodora, an old woman of a hundred not yet retired from the profession. But I know why you do it. You hope to grow young, like old Pelias, by being boiled.


[11.257]   { F 102 }   G

Diophantus saw Hermogenes the doctor in his sleep and never woke up again, although he was wearing an amulet.


[11.258]   { F 103 }   G

Aulus the boxer dedicates to the Lord of Pisa *   his skull, having collected the bones one by one. And if he escapes from Nemea, Lord Zeus, he will perchance dedicate to you also the vertebrae he still has left.

*   The Olympian Zeus.


[11.259]   { F 104 }   G

You have a Thessalian horse, Erasistratus, but all the magic of Thessaly cannot make him stir ; truly a wooden horse which would never have got through the Scaean gates, if all the Trojans and Greeks together had dragged it. If you take my advice, put him up as a votive statue to some god and make his barley into gruel for your children.


[11.264]   { F 105 }   G

Hermon the miser, having spent money in his sleep, hanged himself from vexation.


[11.265]   { F 106 }   G

If an army is being led against locusts, or dog-flies, or mice, or the cavalry of fleas or frogs, you too should be afraid, Gaius, of someone enrolling you as being worthy of fighting with such foes. But if an army of brave men is being despatched, amuse yourself with something else ; but the Romans do not fight against cranes. *  

*   i.e. the Romans are not like the Pygmies, who made war on cranes, so there is no chance of their requiring your services.


[11.266]   { F 107 }   G

Demosthenis has a lying mirror, for if she saw the truth she would not want to look into it at all.


[11.276]   { F 108 }   G

Indolent Marcus once, when cast into prison, confessed to a murder of his own accord, being too lazy to come out.


[11.277]   { F 109 }   G

Lazy Marcus, having once run in his sleep, never went to sleep again lest he should chance to run once more.


[11.278]   { F 110 }   G

On a Cuckold Grammarian

Outside you teach the woes of Paris and Menelaus, having at home plenty of Parises for your Helen.


[11.279]   { F 111 }   G

None of the grammarians can ever be moderate, as from the very beginning he has wrath, and spite, and bile. *  

*   Alluding to the opening of the Iliad.


[11.281]   { ? 138 }   G

On Magnus the Expert Physician

When Magnus went down to Hades, Pluto trembled and said : "He has come to set the dead, too, on their legs."


[11.282]   { ? 139 }   G

I lament no longer those who have left the sweet daylight, but those who ever live in expectation of death.


[11.293]   { ? 140 }   G

Olympius promised me a horse, but brought me a tail from which hung a horse at its last gasp.


[11.294]   { ? 131 }   G

You have the wealth of a rich man, but the soul of a pauper, you who are rich for your heirs and poor for yourself.


[11.295]   { ? 141 }   G

If you have any Dionysus in your house, take off the ivy from his head and crown him with lettuce leaves. *  

*   Addressed to a man who had given him bad wine. Lettuce, I suppose, because the wine was like vinegar.


[11.308]   { F 112 }   G

Lean Cleonicus, making a hole in his foot with the needle, himself made a hole in the needle with his foot.


[11.309]   { F 113 }   G

Thrasymachus, you lost great wealth by a plot, and, poor fellow, you have suddenly come to naught after all your economising, lending, exacting interest, drinking water, often not even eating, so as to have a little more money. But if you calculate what starvation was then and what it is now, you have no less now than you then seemed to have.


[11.310]   { F 114 }   G

You bought hair, rouge, honey, wax, and teeth. For the same outlay you might have bought a face.


[11.311]   { F 115 }   G

Pantaenetus is so lazy that when he fell sick of a fever he prayed to every god never to get up again. And now he leaves his bed unwillingly, and in his heart blames the deaf ears of the unjust gods.


[11.312]   { F 116 }   G

Though there is no one dead here now, O passer-by, Marcus the poet built a tomb here, and writing an inscription of one line as follows, engraved it : "Weep for twelve year old Maximus from Ephesus." I (says the tomb) never even saw any Maximus, but to show off the poet's talent I bid the passer-by weep. *  

*   This phrase in Greek has also the sense of "to send to the deuce."


[11.313]   { F 117 }   G

One, bidding me to a banquet, killed me with silver hunger, serving famished dishes. And in wrath I spoke amid the silver sheen of hunger : "Where is the plenty of my earthenware dishes ?"


[11.314]   { F 118 }   G

I sought whence I should say the word pinakes (dishes) was derived, and on being invited by you I found out why they are so called. For you placed before me great pinakes of great peina (hunger), famished dishes, instruments of famine.


[11.316]   { F 120 }   G

Milon the wrestler was once the only one who came to the sacred games, and the steward of the games called him to crown him at once. But as he was approaching he slipped and fell on his back, and the people called out : "Do not crown this man, as he got a fall when he was alone ! " But he, standing up in their midst, shouted back : "Are there not three falls ? *   I fell once ; now let someone give me the other two."

*   To win the match one had to throw one's adversary three times.


[11.315]   { F 119 }   G

Antiochus once set eyes on Lysimachus' cushion, and Lysimachus never set eyes on it again.


[11.388]   { F 121 }   G

As long as you are unmarried, Numenius, everything in life seems to you the best of the best, but when a wife enters the house everything again in life seems to you at once the worst of the worst.   "But I marry for the sake of having children," says he. You will have children, Numenius, if you have money, but a poor man does not even love his children. *  

*   The meaning seems to be : If rich and unmarried you will have children - people running after your money and wishing you to adopt them ; but if poor and married, your children will be a source of trouble.


[11.389]   { F 122 }   G

If you live the long years of a stag or crow, you may be pardoned for amassing vast wealth, but if you are one of mortal men, whom old age right soon assails, let not the furious desire of immeasurable possessions beset you, lest you destroy your soul in insufferable torture and others use your goods without toiling for them.


[11.390]   { F 123 }   G

If you love me, love me indeed, and do me no evil, making friendship the beginning of injury. For I say that for all men open enmity is much better than deceptive friendship. They say, too, that for seafaring ships sunken reefs are worse than visible rocks.


[11.391]   { F 124 }   G

Asclepiades the miser saw a mouse in his house and said : "My dearest mouse, what business have you here with me ? " And the mouse said, smiling sweetly : "Fear nothing, my friend, I do not seek board with you, but residence."


[11.392]   { F 125 }   G

Adrastus the orator, seating himself on the back of a winged ant, spoke as follows : "Fly, O Pegasus, you have your Bellerophon." Yes indeed the most doughty of heroes, a half-dead skeleton. *  

*   cp. No. 104.


[11.393]   { F 126 }   G

There is no greater burden than a daughter, and if, Euctemon, you think it is a light one, listen to me. You have a hydrocele and I have a daughter ; take her and give me a hundred hydroceles instead of one.


[11.394]   { F 127 }   G

He is really the most excellent of poets who gives supper to those who have listened to his recitation. But if he reads to them and sends them home fasting, let him turn his own madness *   on his own head.

*   i.e. his passion for making and reciting verse.


[11.408]   { ? 132 }   G

You dye your hair, but you will never dye your old age, or smooth out the wrinkles of your cheeks. Then don't plaster all your face with white lead, so that you have not a face, but a mask ; for it serves no purpose. Why are you out of your wits? Rouge and paste will never turn Hecuba into Helen.


[11.433]   { ? 142 }   G

Painter, you steal the form only, and cannot, trusting in your colours, capture the voice.


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