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The Complete Works Volume 3: Essays and Miscellanies by Plutarch

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that he knew himself to be mortal as often as he lay with a woman
or slept. For sleep is a relaxation of the body, occasioned by the
weakness of our nature; and all generation is a corruptive parting
with some of our own substance. But yet I take heart again, when I
hear Plato call the eternal and unbegotten deity the father and
maker of the world and all other begotten things; not as if he
parted with any seed, but as if by his power he implanted a
generative principle in matter, which acts upon, forms, and
fashions it. Winds passing through a hen will on occasions
impregnate her; and it seems no incredible thing, that the deity,
though not after the fashion of a man, but by some other certain
communication, fills a mortal creature with some divine conception.
Nor is this my sense; but the Egyptians who say Apis was conceived
by the influence of the moon, and make no question but that an
immortal god may have communication with a mortal woman. But on
the contrary, they think that no mortal can beget anything on a
goddess, because they believe the goddesses are made of thin air,
and subtle heat and moisture.




Silence following this discourse, Diogenianus began again and said:
Since our discourse is about the gods, shall we, especially on his
own birthday, admit Plato to the conference, and inquire upon what
account he says (supposing it to be his sentence) that God always
plays the geometer? I said that this sentence was not plainly set
down in any of his books; yet there are good arguments that it is
his, and it is very much like his expression. Tyndares presently
subjoining said: Perhaps, Diogenianus, you imagine that this
sentence intimates some curious and difficult speculation, and not
that which he hath so often mentioned, when he praiseth geometry as
a science that takes off men from sensible objects, and makes them
apply themselves to the intelligible and eternal Nature, the
contemplation of which is the end of philosophy, as the view of the
initiatory mysteries into holy rites. For the nail of pain and
pleasure, that fastens the soul to the body, seems to do us the
greatest mischief, by making sensible things more powerful over us
than intelligible, and by forcing the understanding to determine
the rather according to passion than reason. For this faculty,
being accustomed by the vehemency of pain or pleasure to be intent
on the mutable and uncertain body, as if it really and truly were,
grows blind as to that which really is, and loses that instrument
and light of the soul, which is worth a thousand bodies, and by
which alone the deity can be discovered. Now in all sciences, as
in plain and smooth mirrors, some marks and images of the truth of
intelligible objects appear, but in geometry chiefly;
which, according to Philo, is the chief and principal of all, and
doth bring back and turn the understanding, as it were, purged and
gently loosened from sense. And therefore Plato himself dislikes
Eudoxus, Archytas, and Menaechmus for endeavoring to bring down the
doubling the cube to mechanical operations; for by this means all
that was good in geometry would be lost and corrupted, it falling
back again to sensible things, and not rising upward and
considering immaterial and immortal images, in which God being
versed is always God.

After Tyndares, Florus, a companion of his, and who always jocosely
pretended to be his admirer, said thus: Sir, we are obliged to you
for making your discourse not proper to yourself, but common to us
all; for you have made it possible to disprove it by demonstrating
that geometry is not necessary to the gods, but to us. Now the
deity doth not stand in need of science, as an instrument to
withdraw his intellect from things created and to turn it to the
real things; for these are all in him, with him, and about him.
But pray consider whether Plato, though you do not apprehend it,
doth not intimate something that is proper and peculiar to you,
mixing Lycurgus with Socrates, as much as Dicaearchus thought he
did Pythagoras. For Lycurgus, I suppose you know, banished out of
Sparta all arithmetical proportion, as being democratical and
favoring the crowd; but introduced the geometrical, as agreeable to
an oligarchy and kingly government that rules by law; for the
former gives an equal share to every one according to number, but
the other gives according to the proportion of the deserts.
It doth not huddle all things together, but in it there is a fair
discretion of good and bad, every one having what is fit for him,
not by lot or weight, but according as he is virtuous or vicious.
The same proportion, my dear Tyndares, God introduceth, which is
called [Greek omitted] and [Greek omitted], and which teacheth us
to account that which is just equal, and not that which is equal
just. For that equality which many affect, being often the
greatest injustice, God, as much as possible, takes away; and useth
that proportion which respects every man's deserts, geometrically
defining it according to law and reason.

This exposition we applauded; and Tyndares, saying he envied him,
desired Autobulus to engage Florus and confute his discourse.
That he refused to do, but produced another opinion of his own.
Geometry, said he, considers nothing else but the accidents and
properties of the extremities of bodies; neither did God make the
world any other way than by terminating matter, which was infinite
before. Not that matter was actually without limits as to either
magnitude or multitude; but the ancients used to call that infinite
which by reason of its confusion and disorder is undetermined and
unconfined. Now the terms of everything that is formed or figured
are the form and figure of that thing, and without which the thing
would be formless and unfigured. Now numbers and proportions being
applied to matter, it is circumscribed and as it were bound up by
lines, and through lines by surfaces and solids; and so were
settled the first types and differences of bodies, as foundations
from which to create the four elements, fire, air, water, and
earth. For it was impossible that, out of an unsteady and confused
matter, the equality of the sides, the likeness of the angles, and
the exact proportion of octahedrons, icosahedrons, pyramids, and
cubes should be deduced, unless by some power that terminated and
shaped every particle of matter. Therefore, terms being fixed to
that which was undetermined or infinite before, the whole became
and still continues agreeable in all parts, and excellently
terminated and mixed; the matter indeed always affecting an
indeterminate state, and flying all geometrical confinement, but
proportion terminating and circumscribing it, and dividing it into
several differences and forms, out of which all things that arise
are generated and subsist.

When he had said this, he desired me to contribute something to the
discourse; and I applauded their conceits as their own devices, and
very probable. But lest you despise yourselves (I continued) and
altogether look for some external explication, attend to an
exposition upon this sentence, which your masters very much
approve. Amongst the most geometrical theorems, or rather
problems, this is one: Two figures being given, to describe a
third, which shall be equal to one and similar to the other.
And it is reported that Pythagoras, upon the discovery of this
problem, offered a sacrifice to the gods; for this is a much more
exquisite theorem than that which lays down, that the square of the
hypothenuse in a right-angled triangle is equal to the squares of
the two sides. Right, said Diogenianus, but what is this to the
present question? You will easily understand, I replied, if you
call to mind how Timaeus divides that which gave the world its
beginning into three parts. One of which is justly called God, the
other matter, and the third form. That which is called matter is
the most confused subject, the form the most beautiful pattern, and
God the best of causes. Now this cause, as far as possible, would
leave nothing infinite and indeterminate, but adorn Nature with
number, measure, and proportion making one thing of all the
subjects together, equal to the matter, and similar to the form.
Therefore proposing to himself this problem, he made and still
makes a third, and always preserves it equal to the matter, and
like the form; and that is the world. And this world, being in
constant changes and alterations because of the natural necessity
of body, is helped and preserved by the father and maker of all
things, who by proportion terminates the substance according to
the pattern.




When we supped with Ammonius at Athens, who was then the third time
captain of the city-bands, there was a great noise about the house,
some without doors calling, Captain! Captain! After he had sent
his officers to quiet the tumult, and had dispersed the crowd, we
began to inquire what was the reason that those that are within
doors hear those that are without, but those that are without
cannot hear those that are within as well. And Ammonius said, that
Aristotle had given a reason for that already; for the sound of
those within, being carried without into a large tract of air,
grows weaker presently and is lost; but that which comes in from
without is not subject to the like casualty, but is kept close, and
is therefore more easy to be heard. But that seemed a more
difficult question, Why sounds seem greater in the night than in
the day, and yet altogether as clear. For my own part (continued
he) I think Providence hath very wisely contrived that our hearing
should be quickest when our sight can do us very little or no
service; for the air of the "blind and solitary Night," as
Empedocles calls it, being dark, supplies in the ears that defect
of sense which it makes in the eyes. But since of natural effects
we should endeavor to find the causes, and to discover what are the
material and mechanical principles of things is the proper task of
a natural philosopher, who shall first give us a rational
account hereof?

Boethus began, and said: When I was a novice in letters, I then
made use of geometrical postulates, and assumed as undoubted truths
some undemonstrated suppositions; and now I shall make use of some
propositions which Epicurus hath demonstrated already. Bodies move
in a vacuum, and there are a great many spaces interspersed among
the atoms of the air. Now when the air being rarefied is more
extended, so as to fill the vacant space, there are only a few
vacuities scattered and interspersed among the particles of matter;
but when the atoms of air are condensed and laid close together,
they leave a vast empty space, convenient and sufficient for other
bodies to pass through. Now the coldness of the night makes such a
constipation. Heat opens and separates parts of condensed bodies,
and therefore bodies that boil, grow soft, or melt, require a
greater space than before; but, on the contrary, the parts of the
body that are condensed or freeze are contracted closer to one
another, and leave those vessels and places from which they retired
partly empty. Now the sound, meeting and striking against a great
many bodies in its way, is either altogether lost or scattered, and
very much and very frequently hindered in its passage; but when it
hath a plain and smooth way through an empty space, and comes to
the ear uninterrupted, the passage is so sudden, that it preserves
its articulate distinctness, as well as the words it carries.
You may observe that empty vessels, when knocked, answer presently,
send out a noise to a great distance, and oftentimes the sound
whirled round in the hollow breaks out with a considerable force;
whilst a vessel that is filled either with a liquid or a solid body
will not answer to a stroke, because the sound hath no room or
passage to come through. And among solid bodies themselves, gold
and stone, because they want pores, can hardly be made to sound;
and when a noise is made by a stroke upon them, it is very flat,
and presently lost. But brass is sounding, it being a porous,
rare, and light metal, not consisting of parts tightly compacted,
but being mixed with a yielding and uncompacted substance, which
gives free passage to other motions, and kindly receiving the sound
sends it forward; till some touching the instrument do, as it were,
seize on it in the way, and stop the hollow; for then, by reason of
the hindering force, it stops and goes no further. And this, in my
opinion, is the reason why the night is more sonorous, and the day
less; since in the day, the heat rarefying the air makes the empty
spaces between the particles to be very little. But, pray, let
none argue against the suppositions I assumed.

And I (Ammonius bidding me oppose him) said: Sir, your suppositions
which demand a vacuum to be granted I shall admit; but you err in
supposing that a vacuum is conducive either to the preservation or
conveyance of sound. For that which cannot be touched, acted upon,
or struck is peculiarly favorable to silence. But sound is a
stroke of a sounding body; and a sounding body is that which has
homogeneousness and uniformity, and is easy to be moved, light,
smooth, and, by reason of its tenseness and continuity, it is
obedient to the stroke; and such is the air. Water, earth, and
fire are of themselves soundless; but each of them makes a noise
when air falls upon or gets into it. And brass hath no vacuum;
but being mixed with a smooth and gentle air it answers to a
stroke, and is sounding. If the eye may be judge, iron must be
reckoned to have a great many vacuities, and to be porous like a
honey-comb, yet it is the dullest, and sounds worse than any
other metal.

Therefore there is no need to trouble the night to contract and
condense its air, that in other parts we may leave vacuities and
wide spaces; as if the air would hinder and corrupt the substance
of the sounds, whose very substance, form, and power itself is.
Besides, if your reason held, misty and extreme cold nights would
be more sonorous than those which are temperate and clear, because
then the atoms in our atmosphere are constipated, and the spaces
which they left remain empty; and, what is more obvious, a cold day
should be more sonorous than a warm summer's night; neither of
which is true. Therefore, laying aside that explication, I produce
Anaxagoras, who teacheth that the sun makes a tremulous motion in
the air, as is evident from those little motes which are seen
tossed up and down and flying in the sunbeams. These (says he),
being in the day-time whisked about by the heat, and making a
humming noise, lessen or drown other sounds; but at night their
motion, and consequently their noise, ceaseth.

When I had thus said, Ammonius began: Perhaps it will look like a
ridiculous attempt in us, to endeavor to confute Democritus and
correct Anaxagoras. Yet we must not allow that humming noise to
Anaxagoras's little motes, for it is neither probable nor
necessary. But their tremulous and whirling motion in the sunbeams
is oftentimes sufficient to disturb and break a sound. For the air
(as hath been already said), being itself the body and substance of
sound, if it be quiet and undisturbed, makes a straight, easy, and
continuous way to the particles or the motions which make the
sound. Thus sounds are best heard in calm still weather; and the
contrary is seen in stormy weather, as Simonides hath it:--

No tearing tempests rattled through the skies,
Which hinder sweet discourse from mortal ears.

For often the disturbed air hinders the articulateness of a
discourse from coming to the ears, though it may convey something
of the loudness and length of it. Now the night, simply considered
in itself, hath nothing that may disturb the air; though the day
hath,--namely the sun, according to the opinion of Anaxagoras.

To this Thrasyllus, Ammonius's son, subjoining said: What is the
matter, for God's sake, that we endeavor to solve this difficulty
by the unintelligible fancied motion of the air, and neglect the
tossing and divulsion thereof, which are evident? For Jupiter, the
great ruler above, doth not covertly and silently move the little
particles of air; but as soon as he appears, he stirs up and
moves everything.

He sends forth lucky signs,
And stirs up nations to their proper work,

And they obey; and (as Democritus saith) with fresh thoughts for
each new day, as if newly born again, they fall to their worldly
concerns with noisy and effectual contrivances. And upon this
account, Ibycus oppositely calls the dawning [Greek omitted] (from
[Greek omitted], TO HEAR), because then men first begin to hear and
speak. Now at night, all things being at rest, the air being quiet
and undisturbed must therefore probably transmit the voice better,
and convey it whole and unbroken to our ears.

Aristodemus the Cyprian, being then in the company, said:
But consider, sir, whether battles or the marches of great armies
by night do not confute your reason; for the noise they make seems
as loud as otherwise, though then the air is broken and very much
disturbed. But the reason is partly in ourselves; for our voice at
night is usually vehement, we either commanding others to do
something or asking short questions with heat and concern.
For that, at the same time when Nature requires rest, we should
stir to do or speak anything, there must be some great and urgent
necessity for it; and thence our voices become more vehement
and loud.




The Isthmian games being celebrated, when Sospis was the second
time director of the solemnity, we avoided other entertainments,--
he treating a great many strangers and often all his fellow-
citizens,--but once, when he entertained his nearest and most
learned friends at his own house, I was one of the company.
After the first course, one coming to Herodes the rhetorician
brought a palm and a wreathed crown, which one of his acquaintance,
who had won the prize for an encomiastic exercise, sent him.
This Herodes received very kindly, and sent it back again, but
added that he could not tell the reason why, since each of the
games gave a particular garland, yet all of them bestowed the palm.
For those do not satisfy me (said he) who say that the equality of
the leaves is the reason, which growing out one against another
seem to resemble some striving for the prize, and that victory is
called [Greek omitted] from [Greek omitted], not to yield. For a
great many other trees, almost by measure and weight dividing the
nourishment to their leaves growing opposite to one another, show a
decent order and wonderful equality. They seem to speak more
probably who say the ancients were pleased with the beauty and
figure of the tree. Thus Homer compares Nausicaa to a palm-
branch. For you all know very well, that some threw roses at the
victors, and others pomegranates and apples, to honor and reward
them. But now the palm hath nothing evidently more taking than
many other things, since here in Greece it bears no fruit that is
good to eat, it not ripening and growing mature enough. But if, as
in Syria and Egypt, it bore a fruit that is the most pleasant to
the eyes of anything in the world, and the sweetest to the taste,
then I must confess nothing could compare with it. And the Persian
monarch (as the story goes), being extremely taken with Nicolaus
the Peripatetic philosopher, who was a very sweet-humored man, tall
and slender, and of a ruddy complexion, called the greatest and
fairest dates Nicolai.

This discourse of Herodes seemed to give occasion for a query about
Nicolaus, which would be as pleasant as the former. Therefore, said
Sospis, let every one carefully give his sentiments of the matter
before us. I begin, and think that, as far as possible, the honor
of the victor should remain fresh and immortal. Now a palm-tree is
the longest lived of any, as this line of Orpheus testifies:--

They lived like branches of a leafy palm.

And this almost alone has the privilege (though it is said to
belong to many besides) of having always fresh and the same leaves.
For neither the laurel nor the olive nor the myrtle, nor any other
of those trees named evergreen, is always to be seen with the very
same leaves; but as the old fall, new ones grow. So cities
continue the same, where new parts succeed those that decay.
But the palm, never shedding a leaf, is continually adorned with
the same green. And this power of the tree, I believe, men think
agreeable to, and fit to represent, the strength of victory.

When Sospis had done, Protogenes the grammarian, calling Praxiteles
the commentator by his name, said. What then, shall we suffer
those rhetoricians to be thought to have hit the mark when they
bring arguments only from probabilities and conjectures? And can
we produce nothing from history to club to this discourse? Lately,
I remember, reading in the Attic annals, I found that Theseus first
instituted games in Delos, and tore off a branch from the sacred
palm-tree, which was called spadix (from [Greek omitted] TO TEAR).

And Praxiteles said: This is not certain; but perhaps some will
demand of Theseus himself, upon what account when he instituted the
game, he broke off a branch of palm rather than of laurel or of
olive. But consider whether this be not a prize proper to the
Pythian games, as appropriate to Amphictyon. For there they first,
in honor of the god, crowned the victors with laurel and palm, as
consecrating to the god, not the laurel or olive, but the palm.
So Nicias did, who defrayed the charges of the solemnity in the
name of the Athenians at Delos the Athenians themselves at Delphi;
and before these, Cypselus the Corinthian. For this god is a lover
of games, and delights in contending for the prize at harping,
singing, and throwing the bar, and, as some say, at cuffing;
and assists men when contending, as Homer witnesseth, by making
Achilles speak thus,

Let two come forth in cuffing stout, and try
To which Apollo gives the victory.
("Iliad," xxiii. 659.)

And amongst the archers, he that made his address to Apollo made
the best shot, and he that forgot to pray to him missed the mark.
And besides, it is not likely that the Athenians would rashly, and
upon no grounds, dedicate their place of exercise to Apollo.
But they thought that the god which bestows health gives likewise a
vigorous constitution, and strength for the encounter. And since
some of the encounters are light and easy, others laborious and
difficult, the Delphians offered sacrifices to Apollo the cuffer;
the Cretans and Spartans to Apollo the racer; and the dedication of
spoils taken in the wars and trophies to Apollo Pythias show that
he is of great power to give victory in war.

Whilst he was speaking, Caphisus, Theon's son, interrupted him, and
said: This discourse smells neither of history nor comment, but is
taken out of the common topics of the Peripatetics, and endeavors
to persuade; besides, you should, like the tragedians, raise your
machine, and fright all that contradict you with the god. But the
god, as indeed it is requisite he should be, is equally benevolent
to all. Now let us, following Sospis (for he fairly leads the
way), keep close to our subject, the palm-tree, which affords us
sufficient scope for our discourse. The Babylonians celebrate this
tree, as being useful to them three hundred and sixty several ways.
But to us Greeks it is of very little use, but its lack of fruit
makes it appropriate for contenders in the games. For being the
fairest, greatest, and best proportioned of all sorts of trees, it
bears no fruit amongst us; but by reason of its strong nature it
exhausts all its nourishment (like an athlete) upon its body, and
so has very little, and that very bad, left for seed. Besides all
this, it hath something peculiar, which cannot be attributed to any
other tree. The branch of a palm, if you put a weight upon it,
doth not yield and bend downwards, but turns the contrary way as if
it resisted the pressing force. The like is to be observed in
these exercises. For those who, through weakness or cowardice,
yield to them, their adversaries oppress; but those who stoutly
endure the encounter have not only their bodies, but their minds
too, strengthened and increased.



One demanded a reason why the sailors take up the water for their
occasions out of the river Nile by night, and not by day.
Some thought they feared the sun, which heating the liquid would
make it more liable to putrefaction. For everything that is warmed
becomes more easy to be changed, having already suffered when its
natural quality was remitted. And cold constipating the parts
seems to preserve everything in its natural state, and water
especially. For that the cold of water is naturally constringent
is evident from snow, which keeps flesh from corrupting a long
time. And heat, as it destroys the proper quality of other things,
so of honey, for it being boiled is itself corrupted, though when
raw it preserves other bodies from corruption. And that this is
the cause, I have a very considerable evidence from standing pools;
for in winter they are as wholesome as other water, but in summer
they grow bad and noxious. Therefore the night seeming in some
measure to resemble the winter, and the day the summer, they think
the water that is taken up at night is less subject to be vitiated
and changed.

To these seemingly probable reasons another was added, which
confirmed the ingenuity of the sailors by a very strong proof.
For some said that they took up their water by night because then
it was clear and undisturbed; but at day-time, when a great many
fetched water together, and many boats were sailing and many beasts
swimming upon the Nile, it grew thick and muddy, and in that
condition it was more subject to corruption. For mixed bodies are
more easily corrupted than simple and unmixed; for from mixture
proceeds disagreement of the parts, from that disagreement a
change, and corruption is nothing else but a certain change;
and therefore painters call the mixing of their colors [Greek
omitted], corrupting; and Homer expresseth dyeing by [Greek
omitted] (TO STAIN OR CONTAMINATE). Commonly we call anything that
is simple and unmixed incorruptible and immortal. Now earth being
mixed with water soonest corrupts its proper qualities, and makes
it unfit for drinking; and therefore standing water stinks soonest,
being continually filled with particles of earth, whilst running
waters preserve themselves by either leaving behind or throwing off
the earth that falls into them. And Hesiod justly commends

The water of a pure and constant spring.

For that water is wholesome which is not corrupted, and that is not
corrupted which is pure and unmixed. And this opinion is very much
confirmed from the difference of earths; for those springs that run
through a mountainous, rocky ground are stronger than those which
are cut through plains or marshes, because they do not take off
much earth. Now the Nile running through a soft country, like the
blood mingled with the flesh, is filled with sweet juices that are
strong and very nourishing; yet it is thick and muddy, and becomes
more so if disturbed. For motion mixeth the earthly particles with
the liquid, which, because they are heavier, fall to the bottom as
soon as the water is still and undisturbed. Therefore the sailors
take up the water they are to use at night, by that means likewise
preventing the sun, which always exhales and consumes the subtler
and lighter particles of the liquid.


WHENCE THESE WORDS, [Greek omitted] AND, [Greek omitted]


My younger sons staying too long at the plays, and coming in too
late to supper, Theon's sons waggishly and jocosely called them
supper hinderers, night-suppers, and the like; and they in reply
called their runners-to-supper. And one of the old men in the
company said [Greek omitted] signified one that was too late for
supper; because, when he found himself tardy, he mended his pace,
and made more than common haste. And he told us a jest of Battus,
Caesar's jester, who called those that came late supper-lovers,
because out of their love to entertainments, though they had
business, they would not desire to be excused.

And I said, that Polycharmus, a leading orator at Athens, in his
apology for his way of living before the assembly, said: Besides a
great many things which I could mention, fellow-citizens, when I
was invited to supper, I never came the last man. For this is more
democratical; and on the contrary, those that are forced to stay
for others that come late are offended at them as uncivil and of an
oligarchical temper.

But Soclarus, in defence of my sons, said: Alcaeus (as the story
goes) did not call Pittacus a night-supper for supping late, but
for delighting in base and scandalous company. Heretofore to eat
early was accounted scandalous, and such a meal was called [Greek
omitted], from [Greek omitted] INTEMPERANCE.

Then Theon interrupting him said: Not at all, if we must trust
those who have delivered down to us the ancients way of living.
For they say that those being used to work, and very temperate in a
morning, ate a bit of bread dipped in wine, and nothing else, and
that they called that meal [Greek omitted] from the [Greek omitted]
(WINE). Their supper they called [Greek omitted], because
returning from their business they took it [Greek omitted] (LATE).
Upon this we began to inquire whence those two meals [Greek
omitted] and [Greek omitted] took their names. In Homer [Greek
omitted] and [Greek omitted] seem to be the same meal. For he says
that Eumaeus provided [Greek omitted] by the break of day; and it
is probable that [Greek omitted] was so called from [Greek
omitted], because provided in the morning; and [Greek omitted] was
so named from [Greek omitted], EASING FROM THEIR LABOR. For men
used to take their [Greek omitted] after they had finished their
business, or whilst they were about it. And this may be gathered
from Homer, when he says,

Then when the woodman doth his supper dress.
("Iliad," xi. 86.)

But some perhaps will derive [Greek omitted] from [Greek omitted],
EASIEST PROVIDED, because that meal is usually made upon what is
ready and at hand; and [Greek omitted] from [Greek omitted],
LABORED, because of the pains used in dressing it.

My brother Lamprias, being of a scoffing, jeering nature, said:
Since we are in a trifling humor, I can show that the Latin names
of these meals are a thousand times more proper than the Greek;
[Greek omitted] SUPPER, they call coena ([Greek omitted]) from
community; because they took their [Greek omitted] by themselves,
but their coena with their friends. [Greek omitted] DINNER, they
call prandium, from the time of the dry; for [Greek omitted]
signifies NOON-TIDE, and to rest after dinner is expressed by
[Greek omitted]; or else by prandium they denote a bit taken in the
morning, [Greek omitted], BEFORE THEY HAVE NEED OF ANY. And not to
mention stragula, from [Greek Omitted], vinum from [Greek omitted],
oleum from [Greek omitted], mel from [Greek omitted], gustare from
[Greek omitted], propinare from [Greek omitted], and a great many
more words which they have plainly borrowed from the Greeks,--who
can deny but that they have taken their comessatio, BANQUETING,
from our [Greek omitted] and miscere, TO MINGLE, from the Greeks
too? Thus in Homer,

She in a bowl herself mixt ([Greek omitted]) generous wine.
("Odyssey," x. 356.)

They call a table mensam, from [Greek omitted], PLACING IT IN THE
MIDDLE; bread, panem, from satisfying [Greek omitted], HUNGER; a
garland, coronam, from [Greek omitted], THE HEAD;--and Homer
somewhat likens [Greek omitted], a HEAD-PIECE, to a garland;--
caedere, TO BEAT, from [Greek omitted]; and dentes, TEETH, from
[Greek omitted]; lips they call labra, from [Greek omitted], TAKING
OUR VICTUALS WITH THEM. Therefore we must either listen to such
fooleries as these without laughing, or not give them so ready
entrance by means of words. ...




Sylla the Carthaginian, upon my return to Rome after a long
absence, gave me a welcoming supper, as the Romans call it, and
invited some few other friends, and among the rest, one Lucius an
Etrurian, the scholar of Moderatus the Pythagorean. He seeing my
friend Philinus ate no flesh, began (as the opportunity was fair)
to talk of Pythagoras; and affirmed that he was a Tuscan, not
because his father, as others have said, was one, but because he
himself was born, bred, and taught in Tuscany. To confirm this, he
brought considerable arguments from such symbols as these:--As soon
as you are risen, ruffle the bedclothes; leave not the print of the
pot in the ashes; receive not a swallow into your house; never step
over a besom; nor keep in your house creatures that have hooked
claws. For these precepts of the Pythagoreans the Tuscans only, as
he said, carefully observe.

Lucius, having thus said, that precept about the swallow seemed to
be most unaccountable, it being a harmless and kind animal;
and therefore it seemed strange that that should be forbid the
house, as well as the hooked-clawed animals, which are ravenous,
wild, and bloody. Nor did Lucius himself approve that only
interpretation of the ancients, who say, this symbol aims directly
at backbiters and tale-bearing whisperers. For the swallow
whispers not at all; it chatters indeed, and is noisy, but not more
than a pie, a partridge, or a hen. What then, said Sylla, is it
upon the old fabulous account of killing her son, that they deny
the swallow entertainment, by that means showing their dislike to
those passions which (as the story goes) made Tereus and Procne and
Philomel both act and suffer such wicked and abominable things?
And even to this day they call the birds Daulides. And Gorgias the
sophister, when a swallow muted upon him, looked upon her and said,
Philomel, this was not well done. Or perhaps this is all without
foundation; for the nightingale, though concerned in the same
tragedy, we willingly receive.

Perhaps, sir, said I, what you have alleged may be some reason; but
pray consider whether first they do not hate the swallow upon the
same account that they abhor hook-clawed animals. For the swallow
feeds on flesh; and grasshoppers, which are sacred and musical,
they chiefly devour and prey upon. And, as Aristotle observes,
they fly near the surface of the earth to pick up the little
animals. Besides, that alone of all house-animals makes no return
for her entertainment. The stork, though she is neither covered,
fed, nor defended by us, yet pays for the place where she builds,
going about and killing the efts, snakes, and other venomous
creatures. But the swallow, though she receives all those several
kindnesses from us, yet, as soon as her young are fledged, flies
away faithless and ungrateful; and (which is the worst of all) of
all house-animals, the fly and the swallow only never grow tame,
suffer a man to touch them, keep company with or learn of him.
And the fly is so shy because often hurt and driven away; but the
swallow naturally hates man, suspects, and dares not trust any that
would tame her. And therefore,--if we must not look on the outside
of these things, but opening them view the representations of some
things in others,--Pythagoras, setting the swallow for an example
of a wandering, unthankful man, adviseth us not to take those who
come to us for their own need and upon occasion into our
familiarity, and let them partake of the most sacred things, our
house and fire.

This discourse of mine gave the company encouragement to proceed,
so they attempted other symbols, and gave moral interpretations of
them. For Philinus said, that the precept of blotting out the
print of the pot instructed us not to leave any plain mark of
anger, but, as soon as ever the passion hath done boiling, to lay
aside all thoughts of malice and revenge. That symbol which
adviseth us to ruffle the bedclothes seemed to some to have no
secret meaning, but to be in itself very evident; for it is not
decent that the mark and (as it were) stamped image should remain
to be seen by others, in the place where a man hath lain with his
wife. But Sylla thought the symbol was rather intended to prevent
men's sleeping in the day-time, all the conveniences for sleeping
being taken away in the morning as soon as we are up. For night is
the time for sleep, and in the day we should rise and follow our
affairs, and not suffer so much as the print of our body in the
bed, since a man asleep is of no more use than one dead. And this
interpretation seems to be confirmed by that other precept, in
which the Pythagoreans advise their followers not to take off any
man's burthen from him, but to lay on more, as not countenancing
sloth and laziness in any.




Our former discourse Lucius neither reprehended nor approved, but,
sitting silent and musing, gave us the hearing. Then Empedocles
addressing his discourse to Sylla, said: If our friend Lucius is
displeased with the discourse, it is time for us to leave off;
but if these are some of their mysteries which ought to be
concealed, yet I think this may be lawfully divulged, that they
more cautiously abstain from fish than from other animals.
For this is said of the ancient Pythagoreans; and even now I have
met with Alexicrates's scholars, who will eat and kill and even
sacrifice some of the other animals, but will never taste fish.
Tyndares the Spartan said, they spared fish because they had so
great a regard for silence, and they called fish [Greek omitted],
because they had their voice SHUT UP ([Greek omitted]); and my
namesake Empedocles advised one who had been expelled from the
school of Pythagoras to shut up his mind like a fish, and they
thought silence to be divine, since the gods without any voice
reveal their meaning to the wise by their works.

Then Lucius gravely and composedly saying, that perhaps the true
reason was obscure and not to be divulged, yet they had liberty to
venture upon probable conjectures, Theon the grammarian began thus:
To demonstrate that Pythagoras was a Tuscan is a great and no easy
task. But it is confessed that he conversed a long time with the
wise men of Egypt, and imitated a great many of the rites and
institutions of the priests, for instance, that about beans.
For Herodotus delivers, that the Egyptians neither set nor eat
beans, nay, cannot endure to see them; and we all know, that even
now the priests eat no fish; and the stricter sort eat no salt, and
refuse all meat that is seasoned with it. Various reasons are
offered for this; but the only true reason is hatred to the sea, as
being a disagreeable, or rather naturally a destructive element to
man. For they do not imagine that the gods, as the Stoics did that
the stars, were nourished by it. But, on the contrary, they think
that the father and preserver of their country, whom they call the
deflux of Osiris, is lost in it; and when they bewail him as born
on the left hand, and destroyed in the right-hand parts, they
intimate to us the ending and corruption of their Nile by the sea,
and therefore they do not believe that its water is wholesome, or
that any creature produced or nourished in it can be clean or
wholesome food for man, since it breathes not the common air, and
feeds not on the same food with him. And the air that nourisheth
and preserves all other things is destructive to them, as if their
production and life were unnecessary and against Nature; nor should
we wonder that they think animals bred in the sea to be
disagreeable to their bodies, and not fit to mix with their blood
and spirits, since when they meet a pilot they will not speak to
him, because he gets his living by the sea.

Sylla commended this discourse, and added concerning the
Pythagoreans, that they then chiefly tasted flesh when they
sacrificed to the gods. Now no fish is ever offered in sacrifice.
I, after they had done, said that many, both philosophers and
unlearned, considering with how many good things it furnisheth and
makes our life more comfortable, take the sea's part against the
Egyptians. But that the Pythagoreans should abstain from fish
because they are not of the same kind, is ridiculous and absurd;
nay, to butcher and feed on other animals, because they bear a
nearer relation to us, would be a most inhuman and Cyclopean
return. And they say that Pythagoras bought a draught of fishes,
and presently commanded the fishers to let them all out of the net;
and this shows that, he did not hate or not mind fishes, as things
of another kind and destructive to man, but that they were his
dearly beloved creatures, since he paid a ransom for their freedom.

Therefore the tenderness and humanity of those philosophers suggest
a quite contrary reason, and I am apt to believe that they spare
fishes to instruct men, or to accustom themselves to acts of
justice; for other creatures generally give men cause to afflict
them, but fishes neither do nor are capable of doing us any harm.
And it is easy to show, both from the writings and religion of the
ancients, that they thought it a great sin not only to eat but to
kill an animal that did them no harm. But afterwards, being
necessitated by the spreading multitude of men, and commanded (as
they say) by the Delphic oracle to prevent the total decay of corn
and fruit, they began to sacrifice, yet they were so disturbed and
concerned at the action, that they called it [Greek omitted] and
[Greek omitted] (TO DO), as if they did some strange thing in
killing an animal; and they are very careful not to kill the beast
before the wine has been cast upon his head and he nods in token of
consent. So very cautious are they of injustice. And not to
mention other considerations, were no chickens (for instance) or
hares killed, in a short time they would so increase that there
could be no living. And now it would be a very hard matter to put
down the eating of flesh, which necessity first introduced, since
pleasure and luxury hath espoused it. But the water-animals
neither consuming any part of our air or water, or devouring the
fruit, but as it were encompassed by another world, and having
their own proper bounds, which it is death for them to pass, they
afford our belly no pretence at all for their destruction;
and therefore to catch or be greedy after fish is plain
deliciousness and luxury, which upon no just reason unsettle the
sea and dive into the deep. For we cannot call the mullet corn-
destroying, the trout grape-eating, nor the barbel or seapike
seed-gathering, as we do some land-animals, signifying their
hurtfulness by these epithets. Nay, those little mischiefs which
we complain of in these house-creatures, a weasel or fly, none can
justly lay upon the greatest fish. Therefore the Pythagoreans,
confining themselves not only by the law which forbids them to
injure men, but also by Nature, which commands them to do violence
to nothing, fed on fish very little, or rather not at all.
But suppose there were no injustice in this case, yet to delight in
fish would argue daintiness and luxury; because they are such
costly and unnecessary diet. Therefore Homer doth not only make
the Greeks whilst encamped near the Hellespont, eat no fish, but he
mentions not any sea-provision that the dissolute Phaeacians or
luxurious wooers had, though both islanders. And Ulysses's mates,
though they sailed over so much sea, as long as they had any
provision left, never let down a hook or net.

But when the victuals of their ship was spent,
("Odyssey," xii. 329-332.)

a little before they fell upon the oxen of the Sun, they caught
fish, not to please their wanton appetite, but to satisfy
their hunger,--

With crooked hooks, for cruel hunger gnawed.

The same necessity therefore forced them to catch fish and devour
the oxen of the Sun. Therefore not only among the Egyptian and
Syrians but Greeks too, to abstain from fish was a piece of
sanctity, they avoiding (as I think), a superfluous curiosity in
diet, as well as being just.

To this Nestor subjoining said: But sir, of my citizens as of the
Megarians in the proverb, you make no account; although you have
heard me often say that our priests of Neptune (whom we call
Hieromnemons) never eat fish. For Neptune himself is called the
Breeder. And the race of Hellen sacrificed to Neptune as the first
father, imagining, as likewise the Syrians did, that man rose from
a liquid substance. And therefore they worship a fish as of the
same production and breeding with themselves, in this matter being
more happy in their philosophy than Anaximander; for he says that
fish and men were not produced in the same substances, but that men
were first produced in fishes, and, when they were grown up and
able to help themselves, were thrown out, and so lived upon the
land. Therefore, as the fire devours its parents, that is, the
matter out of which it was first kindled, so Anaximander, asserting
that fish were our common parents, condemneth our feeding on them.




Philo the physician stoutly affirmed that the elephantiasis was a
disease but lately known; since none of the ancient physicians
speak one word of it, though they oftentimes enlarge upon little,
frivolous and obscure trifles. And I, to confirm it, cited
Athenodorus the philosopher, who in his first book of Epidemical
Diseases says, that not only that disease, but also the hydrophobia
or water-dread (occasioned by the biting of a mad dog), were first
discovered in the time of Asclepiades. At this the whole company
were amazed, thinking it very strange that such diseases should
begin then, and yet as strange that they should not be taken notice
of in so long a time; yet most of them leaned to this last opinion,
as being most agreeable to man, not in the least daring to imagine
that Nature affected novelties, or would in the body of man, as in
a city, create new disturbances and tumults.

And Diogenianus added, that even the passions and diseases of the
mind go on in the same old road that formerly they did; and yet the
viciousness of our inclination is exceedingly prone to variety, and
our mind is mistress of itself, and can, if it please, easily
change and alter. Yet all her inordinate motions have some sort of
order, and the soul hath bounds to her passions, as the sea to her
overflowings. And there is no sort of vice now among us which was
not practised by the ancients. There are a thousand differences of
appetites and various motions of fear; the schemes of grief and
pleasure are innumerable.

Yet are not they of late or now produced,
And none can tell from whence they first arose.
(Sophocles, "Antigone," 456.)

How then should the body be subject to new diseases, since it hath
not, like the soul, the principle of its own alteration in itself,
but by common causes is joined to Nature, and receives a
temperature whose infinite variety of alterations is confined to
certain bounds, like a ship moving and tossing in a circle about
its anchor. Now there can be no disease without some cause, it
being against the laws of Nature that anything should be without a
cause. Now it will be very hard to find a new cause, unless we
fancy some strange air, water, or food never tasted by the
ancients, should out of other worlds or intermundane spaces descend
to us. For we contract diseases from those very things which
preserve our life; since there are no peculiar seeds of diseases,
but the disagreement of their juices to our bodies, or our excess
in using them, disturbs Nature. These disturbances have still the
very same differences, though now and then called by new names.
For names depend on custom, but the passions on Nature; and these
being constant and those variable, this error has arisen. As, in
the parts of a speech and the syntax of the words, some new sort of
barbarism or solecism can suddenly arise; so the temperature of the
body hath certain deviations and corruptions into which it may
fall, those things which are against and hurtful to Nature being in
some sort existent in Nature herself. The mythographers are in
this particular very ingenious, for they say that monstrous uncouth
animals were produced in the time of the Giants war, the moon being
out of its course, and not rising where it used to do. And those
who think Nature produces new diseases like monsters, and yet give
neither likely nor unlikely reasons of the change, err, as I
imagine, my dear Philo, in taking a less or a greater degree of the
same disease to be a different disease. The intension or increase
of a thing makes it more or greater, but does not make the subject
of another kind. Thus the elephantiasis, being an intense
scabbiness, is not a new kind; nor is the water-dread distinguished
from other melancholic and stomachical affections but only by the
degree. And I wonder we did not observe that Homer was acquainted
with this disease, for it is evident that he calls a dog rabid from
the very same rage with which when men are possessed they are said
to be mad.

Against this discourse of Diogenianus Philo himself made some
objections, and desired me to be the old physicians' patron;
who must be branded with inadvertency and ignorance, unless it
appears that those diseases began since their time. First then
Diogenianus, methinks, very precariously desires us to think that
the intenseness or remissness of degrees is not a real difference,
and does not alter the kind. For, were this true, then we should
hold that downright vinegar is not different from pricked wine, nor
a bitter from a rough taste, darnel from wheat, nor garden-mint
from wild mint. For it is evident that these differences are only
the several degrees of the same qualities, in some being more
intense, in some more remiss. So we should not venture to affirm
that flame is different from a white spirit, sunshine from flame,
hoarfrost from dew, or hail from rain; but that the former have
only more intense qualities than the latter. Besides, we should
say that blindness is of the same kind with short-sightedness,
violent vomiting (or cholera) with weakness of the stomach, and
that they differ only in degree. Though what they say is nothing
to the purpose; for if they allow the increase in intensity and
strength, but assert that this came but now of late,--the novelty
showing itself in the quantity rather than the quality,--the same
difficulties which they urged against the other opinion oppress
them. Sophocles says very well concerning those things which are
not believed to be now, because they were not heretofore,--

Once at the first all things their being had.

And it is probable that not all diseases, as in a race, the barrier
being let down, started together; but that one rising after
another, at some certain time, had its beginning and showed itself.
It is rational to conclude (continued I) that all the diseases
that rise from want, heat, or cold bear the same date with our
bodies; but afterwards overeating, luxury, and surfeiting,
encouraged by ease and plenty, raised bad and superfluous juices,
and those brought various new diseases, and their perpetual
complications and mixtures still create more new. Whatever is
natural is determined and in order; for Nature is order, or the
work of order.
Disorder, like Pindar's sand, cannot be comprised by number, and
that which is beside Nature is straight called indeterminate and
infinite. Thus truth is simple, and but one; but falsities
innumerable. The exactness of motions and harmony are definite,
but the errors either in playing upon the harp, singing, or
dancing, who can comprehend? Indeed Phrynichus the tragedian says
of himself,

As many figures dancing doth propose
As waves roll on the sea when tempests toss.

And Chrysippus says that the various complications of ten single
axioms amount to 1,000,000. But Hipparchus hath confuted that
account, showing that the affirmative contains 101,049 complicated
propositions, and the negative 310,952. And Xenocrates says, the
number of syllables which the letters will make is 100,200,000.
How then is it strange that the body, having so many different
powers in itself, and getting new qualities every day from its meat
and drink, and using those motions and alterations which are not
always in the same time nor in the same order, should upon the
various complications of all these be affected with new diseases?
Such was the plague at Athens described by Thucydides, who
conjectures that it was new because that birds and beasts of prey
would not touch the dead carcasses. Those that fell sick about the
Red Sea, if we believe Agatharcides, besides other strange and
unheard diseases, had little serpents in their legs and arms, which
did eat their way out, but when touched shrunk in again, and raised
intolerable inflammations in the muscles; and yet this kind of
plague, as likewise many others, never afflicted any beside, either
before or since. One, after a long stoppage of urine, voided a
knotty barley straw. And we know that Ephebus, with whom we lodged
at Athens, threw out, together with a great deal of seed, a little
hairy, many-footed, nimble animal. And Aristotle tells us, that
Timon's nurse in Cilicia every year for two months lay in a cave,
without any vital operation besides breathing. And in the Menonian
books it is delivered as a symptom of a diseased liver carefully to
observe and hunt after mice and rats, which we see now
nowhere practised.

Therefore let us not wonder if something happens which never was
before, or if something doth not appear among us with which the
ancients were acquainted; for the cause of those accidents is the
nature of our body, whose temperature is subject to be changed.
Therefore, if Diogenianus will not introduce a new kind of water or
air, we, having no need of it, are very well content. Yet we know
some of Democritus's scholars affirm that, other worlds being
dissolved, some strange effluvia fall into ours, and are the
principle of new plagues and uncommon diseases. But let us not now
take notice of the corruption of some parts of this world by
earthquake, droughts, and floods, by which both the vapors and
fountains rising out of the earth must be necessarily corrupted.
Yet we must not pass by that change which must be wrought in the
body by our meat, drink, and other exercises in our course of life.
For many things which the ancients did not feed on are now
accounted dainties; for instance, mead and swine's belly.
Heretofore too, as I have heard, they hated the brain of animals so
much, that they detested the very name of it; as when Homer says,
"I esteem him at a brain's worth." And even now we know some old
men, not bearing to taste cucumber, melon, orange, or pepper.
Now by these meats and drinks it is probable that the juices of our
bodies are much altered, and their temperature changed, new
qualities arising from this new sort of diet. And the change of
order in our feeding having a great influence on the alteration of
our bodies, the cold courses, as they were called formerly,
consisting of oysters, polyps, salads, and the like, being (in
Plato's phrase) transferred "from tail to mouth," now make the
first course, whereas they were formerly the last. Besides, the
glass which we usually take before supper is very considerable in
this case; for the ancients never drank so much as water before
they ate, but now we drink freely before we sit down, and fall to
our meat with a full and heated body, using sharp sauces and
pickles to provoke appetite, and then we fall greedily on the other
meat. But nothing conduceth more to alterations and new diseases
in the body than our different baths; for here the flesh, like iron
in the fire, grows soft and loose, and is presently constipated and
hardened by the cold. For, in my opinion, if any of the last age
had looked into our baths, he might have justly said,

There burning Phlegethon meets Acheron.

For they used such mild gentle baths, that Alexander the Great
being feverish slept in one. And the Gauls' wives carry their pots
of pulse to eat with their children whilst they are in the bath.
But our baths now inflame, vellicate, and distress; and the air
which we draw is a mixture of air and water, disturbs the whole
body, tosses and displaces every atom, till we quench the fiery
particles and allay their heat. Therefore, Diogenianus, you see
that this account requires no new strange causes, no intermundane
spaces; but the single alteration of our diet is enough to raise
new diseases and abolish old.




Florus reading Aristotle's physical problems, which were brought to
him to Thermopylae, was himself (as philosophical wits used to be)
filled with a great many doubts, and communicated them to others;
thereby confirming Aristotle's saying, that much learning raises
many doubts. Other topics made our walks every day very pleasant,
but the common saying concerning dreams,--that those in autumn are
the vainest,--I know not how, whilst Favorinus was engaged in other
matters, was started after supper. Your friends and my sons
thought Aristotle had given sufficient satisfaction in this point,
and that no other cause was to be sought after or allowed but that
which he mentions, the fruit. For the fruit, being new and
flatulent, raises many disturbing vapors in the body; for it is not
likely that only wine ferments, or new oil only makes a noise in
the lamp, the heat agitating its vapor; but new corn and all sorts
of fruit are plump and distended, till the unconcocted flatulent
vapor is broke away. And that some sorts of food disturb dreams
they said, was evident from beans and the polypus's head, from
which those who would divine by their dreams are commanded
to abstain.

But Favorinus himself, though in all other things he admires
Aristotle exceedingly and thinks the Peripatetic philosophy to be
most probable, yet in this case resolved to scour up an old musty
opinion of Democritus. He first laid down that known principle of
his, that images pass through the pores into the inmost parts of
the body, and being carried upward cause dreams; and that these
images fly from everything, vessels, garments, plants, but
especially from animals, because of their heat and the motion of
their spirits; and that these images not only carry the outward
shape and likeness of the bodies (as Epicurus thinks, following
Democritus so far and no farther), but the very designs, motions,
and passions of the soul; and with those entering into the bodies,
as if they were living things, discover to those that receive them
the thoughts and inclinations of the persons from whom they come,
if so be that they preserve their frame and order entire. And that
is especially preserved when the air is calm and clear, their
passage then being quick and undisturbed. Now the autumnal air,
when trees shed their leaves, being very uneven and disturbed,
ruffles and disorders the images, and, hindering them in their
passage, makes them weak and ineffectual; when, on the contrary, if
they rise from warm and vigorous subjects, and are presently
applied, the notices which they give and the impressions they make
are clear and evident.

Then with a smile looking upon Autobulus, he continued: But, sir, I
perceive you design to have an airy skirmish with these images, and
try the excellence of this old opinion, as you would a picture, by
your nail. And Autobulus replied: Pray, sir, do not endeavor to
cheat us any longer; for we know very well that you, designing to
make Aristotle's opinion appear the better, have used this of
Democritus only as its shade. Therefore I shall pass by that, and
impugn Aristotle's opinion, which unjustly lays the blame on the
new fruit. For both the summer and the early autumn witness in its
favor, when, as Antimachus says, the fruit is most fresh and juicy;
for then, though we eat the new fruit, yet our dreams are not so
vain as at other times. And the months when the leaves fall, being
next to winter, so concoct the corn and remaining fruit, that they
grow shrivelled and less, and lose all their brisk agitating
spirit. As for new wine, those that drink it soonest forbear till
February, which is after winter; and the day on which we begin we
call the day of the Good Genius, and the Athenians the day of
cask-opening. For whilst wine is working, we see that even common,
laborers will not venture on it. Therefore no more accusing the
gifts of the gods, let us seek after another cause of vain dreams,
to which the name of the season will direct us. For it is called
LEAF-SHEDDING, because the leaves then fall off by reason of their
dryness and coldness; except the leaves of hot and oily trees, as
of the olive, the laurel, or the palm; or of the moist, as of the
myrtle and the ivy. But the temperature of these preserves them,
though not others; because in others the vicious humor that holds
the leaves is constipated by the cold, or being weak and little is
dried up. Now moisture and heat are necessary for the growth and
preservation of plants, but especially of animals; and on the
contrary, coldness and dryness are very noxious to both.
And therefore Homer elegantly calls men moist and juicy: to rejoice
he calls to be warmed; and anything that is grievous and frightful
he calls cold and icy. Besides, the words [Greek omitted] and
[Greek omitted] are applied to the dead, those names intimating
their extreme dryness. But more, our blood, the principal thing in
our whole body, is moist and hot. And old age hath neither of
those two qualities. Now the autumn seems to be as it were the old
age of the decaying year; for the moisture doth not yet fall, and
the heat decays. And its inclining the body to diseases is an
evident sign of its cold and dryness. Now it is necessary that the
souls should be indisposed with the bodies and that, the subtile
spirit being condensed, the divining faculty of the soul, like a
glass that is breathed upon, should be sullied; and therefore it
cannot represent anything plain, distinct, and clear, as long as it
remains thick, dark, and condensed.


This ninth book, Sossius Senecio, contains the discourses we held
at Athens at the Muses feast, for this number nine is agreeable to
the number of the Muses. Nor must you wonder when you find more
than ten questions (which number I have observed in my other books)
in it; for we ought to give the Muses all that belongs to them, and
be as careful of robbing them as of a temple, since we owe them
much more and much better things than these.




Ammonius, captain of the militia at Athens, would show Diogenianus
the proficiency of those youths that learned grammar, geometry,
rhetoric, and music; and invited the chief masters of the town to
supper. There were a great many scholars at the feast, and almost
all his acquaintance. Achilles invited only the single combatants
to his feast, intending (as the story goes) that, if in the heat of
the encounter they had conceived any anger or ill-will against one
another, they might then lay it aside, being made partakers of one
common entertainment. But the contrary happened to Ammonius, for
the contentions of the masters increased and grew more sharp midst
their cups and merriment; and all was disorder and
confused babbling.

Therefore Ammonius commanded Erato to sing to his harp, and he sang
some part of Hesiod's Works beginning thus,

Contention to one sort is not confined;
("Works and Days," 11.)

and I commended him for choosing so apposite a song. Then he began
to discourse about the seasonable use of verse, that it was not
only pleasant but profitable. And straight every one's mouth was
full of that poet who began Ptolemy's epithalamium (when he married
his sister, a wicked and abominable match) thus,

Jove Juno called his sister and his wife;
("Iliad," xviii. 356.)

and another, who refused to sing after supper to Demetrius the
king, but after he sent him his young son Philip to be educated
sang thus,

Breed thou the boy as doth become
Both Hercules's race and us;

and Anaxarchus who, being pelted with apples by Alexander at
supper, rose up and said,

Some god shall wounded be by mortal hand.
(Euripides, "Orestes," 271.)

But that Corinthian captive boy excelled all, who, when the city
was destroyed, and Mummius, taking a survey of all the free-born
children that understood letters, commanded each to write a verse,
wrote thus:--

Thrice, four times blest, the happy Greeks that fell.
("Odyssey," v. 306.)

For they say that Mummius was affected with it, wept and gave all
the free-born children that were allied to the boy their liberty.
And some mentioned the wife of Theodorus the tragedian, who refused
his embraces a little before he contended for the prize; but, when
he was conqueror and came in unto her, clasped him and said,

Now, Agamemnon's son, you freely may
(Sophocles "Electra," 2.)

After this a great many sayings were mentioned as unseasonably
spoken, it being fit that we should know such and avoid them;--as
that to Pompey the Great, to whom, upon his return from a dangerous
war, the schoolmaster brought his little daughter, and, to show him
what a proficient she was, called for a book, and bade her begin at
this line,

Returned from war; but hadst thou there been slain,
My wish had been complete;
("Iliad," iii. 428.)

and that to Cassius Longinus, to whom a flying report of his son's
dying abroad being brought, and he no ways appearing either to know
the certain truth or to clear the doubt, an old senator came and
said: Longinus, will you not despise the flying uncertain rumor, as
if you did not know nor had read this line,

For no report is wholly false?
(Hesiod, "Works and Days," 763.)

And he that at Rhodes, to a grammarian demanding a line upon which
he might show his skill in the theatre, proposed this,

Fly from the island, worst of all mankind,
("Odyssey," x. 72.)

either slyly put a trick upon him, or unwittingly blundered.
And this discourse quieted the tumult.




It being the custom of the Muses' feast to draw lots, and those
that were matched to propose curious questions to one another,
Ammonius, fearing that two of the same profession might be matched
together, ordered, without drawing lots, a geometrician to propose
questions to a grammarian, and a master of music to a rhetorician.

First, therefore, Hermeas the geometrician demanded of Protogenes
the grammarian a reason why Alpha was the first letter of the
alphabet. And he returned the common answer of the schools, that
it was fit the vowels should be set before the mutes and
semi-vowels. And of the vowels, some being long, some short, some
both long and short, it is just that the latter should be most
esteemed. And of these that are long and short, that is to be set
first which is usually placed before the other two, but never after
either; and that is Alpha. For that put after either Iota or
Upsilon will not be pronounced, will not make one syllable with
them, but as it were resenting the affront and angry at the
position, seeks the first as its proper place. But if you place
Alpha before either of those, they are obedient, and quietly join
in one syllable, as in these words, [Greek omitted] and a thousand
others. In these three respects therefore, as the conquerors in
all the five exercises, it claims the precedence,--that of most
other letters by being a vowel, that of other vowels by being
dichronous, and lastly, that of these double-timed vowels
themselves because it is its nature to go before and never
after them.

Protogenes making a pause, Ammonius, speaking to me, said:
What! have you, being a Boeotian, nothing to say for Cadmus, who
(as the story goes) placed Alpha the first in order, because a cow
is called Alpha by the Phoenicians, and they account it not the
second or third (as Hesiod doth) but the first of their necessary
things? Nothing at all, I replied, for it is just that, to the
best of my power, I should rather assist my own than Bacchus's
grandfather. For Lamprias my grandfather said, that the first
articulate sound that is made is Alpha; for the air in the mouth is
formed and fashioned by the motion of the lips; now as soon as
those are opened, that sound breaks forth, being very plain and
simple, not requiring or depending upon the motion of the tongue,
but gently breathed forth whilst that lies still. And therefore
that is the first sound that children make. Thus [Greek omitted],
TO HEAR, [Greek omitted], TO SING, [Greek omitted], TO PIPE, [Greek
omitted], TO HOLLOW, begin with the letter Alpha; and I think that
[Greek omitted], TO LIFT UP, and [Greek omitted], TO OPEN, were
fitly taken from that opening and lifting up of the lips when his
voice is uttered. Thus all the names of the mutes besides one have
an Alpha, as it were a light to assist their blindness; for Pi
alone wants it, and Phi and Chi are only Pi and Kappa with
an aspirate.

Hermeas saying that he approved both reasons, why then (continued
I) do not you explain the proportion, if there be any, of the
number of the letters; for, in my opinion, there is; and I think
so, because the number of mutes and semi-vowels, compared between
themselves or with the vowels, doth not seem casual and undesigned,
but to be according to the first proportion which you call
arithmetical. For their number being nine, eight, and seven, the
middle exceeds the last as much as it wants of the first. And the
first number being compared with the last, hath the same proportion
that the Muses have to Apollo; for nine is appropriated to them,
and seven to him. And these two numbers tied together double the
middle; and not without reason, since the semi-vowels partake the
power of both.

And Hermeas replied: It is said that Mercury was the first god that
discovered letters in Egypt; and therefore the Egyptians make the
figure of an Ibis, a bird dedicated to Mercury, for the first
letter. But it is not fit, in my opinion, to place an animal that
makes no noise at the head of the letters. Amongst all the numbers
the fourth is peculiarly dedicated to Mercury, because, as some
say, the god was born on the fourth day of the month. And the
first letters called Phoenician from Cadmus are four times four, or
sixteen; and of those that were afterward added, Palamedes found
four, and Simonides four more. Now amongst numbers, three is the
first perfect, as consisting of a first, a middle, and a last; and
after that six, as being equal the sum of its own divisors (1+2+3).
Of these, six multiplied by four makes twenty-four; and also the
first perfect number, three, multiplied by the first cube, eight,
make the same.

Whilst he was discoursing thus, Zopyrion the grammarian sneered and
muttered between his teeth; and, as soon as he had done, cried out
that he most egregiously trifled; for it was mere chance, and not
design, that gave such a number and order to the letters, as it was
mere chance that the first and last verses of Homer's Iliads have
just as many syllables as the first and last of his Odysseys.




Hermeas would have replied to Zopyrion, but we desired him to hold;
and Maximus the rhetorician proposed to him this far-fetched
question out of Homer, Which of Venus's hands Diomedes wounded.
And Zopyrion presently asking him again, of which leg was Philip
lame?--Maximus replied, It is a different case, for Demosthenes
hath left us no foundation upon which we may build our conjecture.
But if you confess your ignorance in this matter, others will show
how the poet sufficiently intimates to an understanding man which
hand it was. Zopyrion being at a stand, we all, since he made no
reply, desired Maximus to tell us.

And he began: The verses running thus

Then Diomedes raised his mighty spear,
And leaping towards her just did graze her hand;
("Iliad," v. 335. It is evident from what follows that
Plutarch interprets [Greek omitted] in this passage HAVING

it is evident that, if he designed to wound her left hand, there
had been no need of leaping, since her left hand was opposite to
his right. Besides, it is probable that he would endeavor to wound
the strongest hand, and that with which she drew away Aeneas;
and which being wounded, it was likely she would let him go.
But more, after she returned to Heaven, Minerva jeeringly said,

No doubt fair Venus won a Grecian dame,
To follow her beloved Trojan youths,
And as she gently stroked her with her hand,
Her golden buckler scratched this petty wound.
("Iliad", v. 422.)

And I suppose, you sir, when you stroke any of your scholars,
you use your right hand, and not your left; and it is likely
that Venus, the most skilful of all the goddesses, soothed the
heroines after the same manner.




These discourses made all the other company merry; but Sospis
the rhetorician, seeing Hylas the grammarian sit silent and
discomposed (for he had not been very happy in his exercises),
cried out,

But Ajax's soul stood far apart;

and raising his voice repeated the rest to him,

But sit, draw near, and patiently attend,
Hear what I say, and tame, your violent rage.

To this Hylas, unable to contain, returned a scurvy answer saying
that Ajax's soul, taking her lot in the twentieth place in hell,
changed her nature, according to Plato, for a lion's; but, for
his part, he could not but often think upon the saying of the
old comedian,

'Tis better far to be an ass than see
Unworthwhile men in greater honor shine

At this Sospis, laughing heartily, said: But in the meantime,
before we have the pack-saddles on, if you have any regard for
Plato, tell us why he makes Ajax's soul, after the lots drawn, to
have the twentieth choice. Hylas, with great indignation, refused,
thinking that this was a jeering reflection on his former
miscarriage. And therefore my brother began thus: What, was not
Ajax counted the second for beauty, strength, and courage, and the
next to Achilles in the Grecian army? And twenty is the second
ten, and ten is the chiefest of numbers, as Achilles of the Greeks.
We laughing at this, Ammonius said: Well, Lamprias, let this
suffice for a joke upon Hylas; but since you have voluntarily taken
upon you to give an account of this matter, leave off jesting, and
seriously proceed.

This startled Lamprias a little, but, after a short pause, he
continued thus: Plato often tells merry stories under borrowed
names, but when he puts any fable into a discourse concerning the
soul, he hath some considerable meaning in it. The intelligent
nature of the heavens he calls a flying chariot, intimating the
harmonious whirl of the world. And here he introduceth one Er, the
son of Harmonius, a Pamphylian, to tell what he had seen in hell;
intimating that our souls are begotten according to harmony, and
are agreeably united to our bodies, and that, when they are
separated, they are from all parts carried together into the air,
and from thence return to second generations. And what hinders but
that [Greek omitted] twentieth should intimate that this was not a
true story, but only probable and fictitious [Greek omitted], and
that the lot fell casually [Greek omitted]. For Plato always
toucheth upon three causes, he being the first and chiefest
philosopher that knew how fate accords with fortune, and how our
free-will is mixed and complicated with both. And now he hath
admirably discovered what influence each hath upon our affairs.
The choice of our life he hath left to our free-will, for virtue
and vice are free. But that those who have made a good choice
should live religiously, and those who have made an ill choice
should lead a contrary life, he leaves to the necessity of fate.
But the chances of lots thrown at a venture introduce fortune into
the several conditions of life in which we are brought up, and
which pre-occupates and perverts our own choice. Now consider
whether it is not irrational to inquire after a cause of those
things that are done by chance. For if the lot seems to be
disposed of by design, it ceaseth to be chance and fortune, and
becomes fate and providence.

Whilst Lamprias was speaking, Marcus the grammarian seemed to be
counting to himself, and when he had done, he began thus:
Amongst the souls which Homer mentions in his [Greek omitted],
Elpenor's is not to be reckoned as mixed with those in hell, but,
his body being not buried, as wandering about the banks of the
river Styx. Nor is it fit that we should reckon Tiresias's soul
amongst the rest,--

On whom alone, when deep in hell beneath,
Wisdom Proserpina conferred,

to discourse and converse with the living even before he drank the
sacrifice's blood. Therefore, Lamprias, if you subtract these two,
you will find that Ajax was the twentieth that Ulysses saw, and
Plato merrily alludes to that place in Homer's [Greek omitted].




While all were making a disturbance, Menephylus, a Peripatetic
philosopher, addressing Hylas: You see, he said, how this
investigation is no foolery nor insolence. But leave now, my dear
fellow, that obstinate Ajax, whose name is ill-omened, as Sophocles
says, and side with Poseidon, whom you yourself are wont to tell
has often been overcome, once by Athene here, in Delphi by Apollo,
in Argos by Here, in Aegina by Zeus, in Naxos by Bacchus, yet in
his misfortunes has always been mild and amiable. Here at least he
shares a temple in common with Athene, in which there is an altar
dedicated to Lethe. And Hylas, as if he had become better
tempered: One thing has escaped you, Menephylus, that we have given
up the second day of September, not on account of the moon, but
because on that day the gods seemed to have contended for the
country. By all means, said Lamprias, by as much as Poseidon was
more civilized than Thrasybulus, since not like him a winner but
a loser. ...

(The rest of this book to Question XIII is lost; with the exception
of the titles that follow, and the fragment of Question XII.)













Men must be cheated by oaths. And Glaucias said: I have heard this
saying used against Polycrates the tyrant; probably too it was said
against others: but why do you ask these questions? Because, by
Zeus, said Sospis, I see the children playing odd and even with
jackstones and the Academics with words. For such tempers as these
differ in no way from those who ask whether they hold clutched in
their hands odd or even. Then Protogenes stood up and called me by
name: What is the matter with us that we allow these rhetoricians
to he so conceited, and to laugh down others while they are asked
nothing, and contribute nothing in the way of argument,--unless
they swear that they have no part in the wine as admirers and
disciples of Demosthenes, a man who in his whole life never drank
wine. That is not the cause of this, said I; but we have never
asked them anything. But unless you have something more useful, I
think I can put before them from Homer's poetry a case of antinomy
in rhetorical theses.




What question will you put them, said Protogenes? I will tell you,
continued I, and let them carefully attend. Paris makes his
challenge in these express words:--

Let me and valiant Menelaus fight
For Helen, and for all the goods she brought;
And he that shall o'ercome, let him enjoy
The goods and woman; let them be his own.

And Hector afterwards publicly proclaiming this challenge in these
plain words:--

He bids the Trojans and the valiant Greeks
To fix their arms upon the fruitful ground;
Let Menelaus and stout Paris fight
For all the goods; and he that beats have all.

Menelaus accepted the challenge, and the conditions were sworn to,
Agamemnon dictating thus:--

If Paris valiant Menelaus kills,
Let him have Helen, and the goods possess;
If youthful Menelaus Paris kills,
The woman and the goods shall all be his.
(See "Iliad," iii. 68, 88, 255, and 281.)

Now since Menelaus only overcame but did not kill Paris, each party
hath somewhat to say for itself, and against the other. The one
may demand restitution, because Paris was overcome; the other deny
it, because he was not killed. Now how to determine this case and
clear the seeming repugnancies doth not belong to philosophers or
grammarians, but to rhetoricians, that are well skilled both in
grammar and philosophy.

Then Sospis said: The challenger's word decides; for the challenger
proposed the conditions, and when they were accepted, the opposite
party had no power to make additions. Now the condition proposed
in this challenge was not killing, but overcoming; and there was
reason that it should be so, for Helen ought to be the wife of the
bravest. Now the bravest is he that overcomes; for it often
happens that an excellent soldier might be killed by a coward, as
is evident in what happened afterward, when Achilles was shot by
Paris. For I do not believe that you will affirm, that Achilles
was not so brave a man as Paris because he was killed by him, and
that it should be called the victory, and not rather the unjust
good fortune, of him that shot him. But Hector was overcome before
he was killed by Achilles, because he would not stand, but trembled
and fled at his approach. For he that refuseth the combat or flies
cannot palliate his defeat, and plainly grants that his adversary
is the better man. And therefore Iris tells Helen beforehand,

In single combat they shall fight for you,
And you shall be the glorious victor's wife.
(2 Ibid. iii. 137.)

And Jupiter afterwards adjudges the victory to Menelaus in
these words:

The conquest leans to Menelaus's side.
(3 Ibid. iv. 13.)

For it would be ridiculous to call Menelaus a conqueror when he
shot Podes, a man at a great distance, before he thought of or
could provide against his danger, and yet not allow him the reward
of conquest over him whom he made fly and sneak into the embraces
of his wife, and whom he spoiled of his arms whilst he was yet
alive, and who had himself offered the challenge, by the articles
of which Menelaus now appeared to be the conqueror.

Glaucias subjoined: in all laws, decrees, contracts, and promises,
those latest made are always accounted more valid than the former.
Now the later contract was Agamemnon's, the condition of which was
killing, and not only overcoming. Besides the former was mere
words, the latter confirmed by oath; and, by the consent of all,
those were cursed that broke them; so that this latter was properly
the contract, and the other a bare challenge. And this Priam at
his going away, after he had sworn to the conditions, confirms by
these words:--

But Jove and other gods alone do know,
Which is designed to see the shades below;
("Iliad," iii. 308.)

for he understood that to be the condition of the contract.
And therefore a little after Hector says,

But Jove hath undetermined left our oaths,
(Ibid. vii. 69.)

for the combat had not its designed and indisputable
determination, since neither of them fell. Therefore this
question doth not seem to me to contain any contrariety of law,
since the former contract is comprised and overruled by the
latter; for he that kills certainly overcomes, but he that
overcomes doth not always kill. But, in short, Agamemnon did not
annul, but only explain the challenge proposed by Hector. He did
not change anything, but only added the most principal part,
placing victory in killing; for that is a complete conquest, but
all others may be evaded or disputed, as this of Menelaus, who
neither wounded nor pursued his adversary. Now as, where there
are laws really contrary, the judges take that side which is plain
and indisputable, and mind not that which is obscure; so in this
case, let us admit that contract to be most valid which contained
killing, as a known and undeniable evidence of victory.
But (which is the greatest argument) he that seems to have had the
victory, not being quiet, but running up and down the army, and
searching all about,

To find neat Paris in the busy throng,
(Ibid. iii. 450.)

sufficiently testifies that he himself did not imagine that the
conquest was perfect and complete. For when Paris had escaped he
did not forget his own words:--

And which of us black fate and death design,
Let him be lost; the others cease from war.
(Iliad, iii. 101,)

Therefore it was necessary for him to seek after Paris, that he
might kill him and complete the combat; but since he neither killed
nor took him, he had no right to the prize. For he did not conquer
him, if we may guess by what he said when he expostulated with Jove
and bewailed his unsuccessful attempt:--

Jove, Heaven holds no more spiteful god than thou.
Now would I punish Paris for his crimes;
But oh! my sword is broke, my mighty spear,
Stretched out in vain, flies idly from my hand!
(Ibid. iii, 365.)

For in these words he confessed that it was to no purpose to
pierce the shield or take the head-piece of his adversary, unless
he likewise wounded or killed him.




This discourse ended, we poured out our offerings to the Muses,
and together with a hymn in honor of Apollo, the patron of the
Muses, we sung with Erato, who played upon the harp, the
generation of the Muses out of Hesiod. After the song was done,
Herod the rhetorician said: Pray, sirs, hearken. Those that will
not admit Calliope to be ours say that she keeps company with
kings, not such, I suppose, as are busied in resolving syllogisms
or disputing, but such who do those things that belong to
rhetoricians and statesmen. But of the rest of the Muses, Clio
abets encomiums, for praises are called [Greek omitted]; and
Polymnia history, for her name signifies the remembrance of many
things; and it is said that all the Muses were somewhere called
Remembrances. And for my part, I think Euterpe hath some relation
to us too, if (as Chrysippus says) her lot be agreeableness in
discourse and pleasantness in conversation. For it belongs to an
orator to converse, as well as plead or give advice; since it is
his part to gain the favor of his auditors, and to defend or
excuse his client. To praise or dispraise is the commonest theme;
and if we manage this artfully, it will turn to considerable
account; if unskilfully, we are lost. For that saying,

Gods! how he is honored and beloved by all,
("Odyssey," x. 38.)

chiefly, in my opinion, belongs to those men who have a pleasing
and persuasive faculty in discourse.

Then said Ammonius to Herod: We have no reason to be angry with you
for grasping all the Muses, since the goods that friends have are
common, and Jove hath begotten a great many Muses, that every man
may be plentifully supplied; for we do not all need skill in
hunting, military arts, navigation, or any mechanical trades;
but learning and instruction is necessary for every one that

Consumes the fruits of the spacious earth.
(From Simonides.)

And therefore Jove made but one Minerva, one Diana, one Vulcan, but
many Muses. But why there should be nine, and no more nor less,
pray acquaint us; for you, so great a lover of, and so well
acquainted with, the Muses, must certainly have considered this
matter. What difficulty is there in that? replied Herod.
The number nine is in everybody's mouth, as being the first square
of the first odd number; and as doubly odd, since it may be divided
into three equal odd numbers. Ammonius with a smile subjoined:
Boldly said; and pray add, that this number is composed of the two
first cubes, one and eight, and according to another composition of
two triangles, three and six, each of which is itself perfect.
But why should this belong to the Muses more than any other of the
gods? For we have nine Muses, but not nine Cereses, nine Minervas
or Dianas. For I do not believe that you take it for a good
argument, that the Muses must be so many, because their mother's
name (Mnemosyne) consists of just so many letters. Herod smiling,
and everybody being silent, Ammonius desired our opinions.

My brother said, that the ancients celebrated but three Muses, and
that to bring proofs for this assertion would be pedantic and
uncivil in such a company. The reason of this number was (not as
some say) the three different sorts of music, the diatonic, the
chromatic, and harmonic, nor those stops that make the intervals
nete, mese, and hypate, though the Delphians gave the Muses this
name erroneously, in my opinion, appropriating it to one science,
or rather to a part of one single science, the harmoniac part of
music. But, as I think, the ancients, reducing all arts and
sciences which are executed and performed by reason or discourse to
three heads, philosophy, rhetoric, and mathematics, accounted them
the gifts of three gods, and named them the Muses.
Afterwards, about Hesiod's time, the sciences being better and
more thoroughly looked into, and men subdividing them found that
each science contained three different parts. In mathematics are
comprehended music, arithmetic, and geometry; in philosophy are
logic, ethics, and physics. In rhetoric, they say the first part
was demonstrative or encomiastic, the second deliberative, the
third judicial. None of all which they believed to be without a
god or a Muse or some superior power for its patron, and did not,
it is probable, make the Muses equal in number to these divisions,
but found them to be so. Now, as you may divide nine into three
threes, and each three into as many units; so there is but one
rectitude of reason, which is employed about the highest truth,
and which belongs to the whole in common, while each of the three
kinds of science is assigned three Muses, and each of these has
her distinct faculty assigned to her, which she disposes and
orders. And I do not think the poets and astrologers will find
fault with us for passing over their professions in silence, since
they know, as well as we, that astrology is comprehended in
geometry, and poetry in music.

As soon as he had said this, Trypho the physician subjoined:
How hath our art offended you, that you have shut the Museum
against us? And Dionysius of Melite added: Sir, you have a great
many that will side with you in the accusation; for we farmers
think Thalia to be ours, assigning her the care of springing and
budding seeds and plants. But I interposing said: Your accusation
is not just; for you have bountiful Ceres, and Bacchus who (as
Pindar phraseth it) increaseth the trees, the chaste beauty of the
fruits; and we know that Aesculapius is the patron of the
Physicians, and they make their address to Apollo as Paean, but
never as the Muses' leader. All men (as Homer says) stand in need
of the gods, but all stand not in need of all. But I wonder
Lamprias did not mind what the Delphians say in this matter;
for they affirm that the Muses amongst them were not named so
either from the strings or sounds in music; but the universe being
divided into three parts, the first portion was of the fixed
stars, the second of the planets, the third of those things that
are under the concave of the moon; and all these are ordered
according to harmonical proportions, and of each portion a Muse
takes care; Hypate of the first, Nete of the last, and Mese in the
middle, combining as much as possible, and turning about mortal
things with the gods and earthly with heavenly. And Plato
intimates the same thing under the names of the Fates, calling one
Atropos, the other Lachesis, and the other Clotho. For he hath
committed the revolutions of the eight spheres to so many Sirens,
and not Muses.

Then Menephylus the Peripatetic subjoined: The Delphians' opinion
hath indeed somewhat of probability in it; but Plato is absurd in
committing the eternal and divine revolutions not to the Muses but
to the Sirens, Daemons that neither love nor are benevolent to
mankind, wholly passing by the Muses, or calling them by the names
of the Fates, the daughters of Necessity. For Necessity is averse
to the Muses; but Persuasion being more agreeable and better
acquainted with them, in my opinion, than the grace of Empedocles,

Intolerable Necessity abhors.

No doubt, said Ammonius, as it is in us a violent and involuntary
cause; but in the gods Necessity is not intolerable,
uncontrollable, or violent, unless it be to the wicked; as the law
in a commonwealth to the best man is its best gift, not to be
violated or transgressed, not because they have no power, but
because they have no will, to change it. And Homer's Sirens give
us no just reason to be afraid; for he in that fable rightly
intimates the power of their music not to be hurtful to man, but
delightfully charming, and detaining the souls which pass from
hence thither and wander after death; working in them a love for
heavenly and divine things, and a forgetfulness of everything on
earth; and they extremely pleased follow and attend them. And from
thence some imperfect sound, and as it were echo of that music,
coming to us by the means of reason and good precepts, rouseth our
souls, and restores the notice of those things to our minds, the
greatest part of which lie encumbered with and entangled in
disturbances of the flesh and distracting passions. But the
generous soul hears and remembers, and her affection for those
pleasures riseth up to the most ardent passion, whilst she eagerly
desires but is not able to free herself from the body.

It is true, I do not approve what he says; but Plato seems to me,
as he hath strangely and unaccountably called the axes spindles and
distaffs, and the stars whirls, so to have named the Muses Sirens,
as delivering divine things to the ghosts below, as Ulysses in
Sophocles says of the Sirens,

I next to Phorcus's daughters came,
Who fix the sullen laws below.

Eight of the Muses take care of the spheres, and one of all about
the earth. The eight who govern the motions of the spheres
maintain the agreement of the planets with the fixed stars and one
another. But that one who looks after the place betwixt the earth
and moon and takes care of mortal things, by means of discourse and
song introduceth persuasion, aiding our natural consent to
community and agreement, and giveth men as much harmony, grace, and
order as is possible for them to take; introducing this persuasion
to appease and quiet our disturbances, and as it were to recall our
wandering desires out of the wrong way, and to set us in the right
path. But, as Pindar says,

Whom Jove abhors, he starts to hear
The Muses sounding in his ear.
(Pindar, "Pythian," i. 25.)

To this discourse Ammonius, as he used to do, subjoined that verse
of Xenophanes,

This fine discourse seems near allied to truth,

and desired every one to deliver his opinion. And I after a short
silence, said: As Plato thinks by the name, as it were by tracks,
to discover the powers of the gods, so let us place in heaven and
over heavenly things one of the Muses, Urania. And it is likely
that those require no distracting variety of cares to govern them,
since they have the same single nature for the cause of all their
motions. But where are a great many irregularities and disorders,
there we must place the eight Muses, that we may have one to
correct each particular irregularity and miscarriage. There are
two parts in a man's life, the serious and the merry; and each
must be regulated and methodized. The serious role, which
instructs us in the knowledge and contemplation of the gods,
Calliope, Clio, and Thalia appear chiefly to look after and
direct. The other Muses govern our weak part, which changes
presently into wantonness and folly; they do not neglect our
brutish and violent passions and let them run their own course,
but by appropriate dancing, music, song, and orderly motion mixed
with reason, bring them down to a moderate temper and condition.
For my part, since Plato admits two principles of every action,
viz, the natural desire after pleasure, and acquired opinion which
covets and wishes for the best, and calls one reason and the other
passion, and since each of these is manifold, I think that each
requires a considerable and, to speak the truth, a divine
direction. For instance, one faculty of our reason is said to be
political or imperial, over which Hesiod says Calliope presides;
Clio's province is the noble and aspiring; and Polymnia's that
faculty of the soul which inclines to attain and keep knowledge
(and therefore the Sicyonians call one of their three Muses
Polymathia); to Euterpe everybody allows the searches into nature
and physical speculations, there being no greater, no sincerer
pleasure belonging to any other sort of speculation in the world.
The natural desire to meat and drink Thalia reduceth from brutish
and uncivil to be sociable and friendly; and therefore we say
[Greek omitted] of those that are friendly, merry, and sociable
over their cups, and not of those that are quarrelsome and mad.
Erato, together with Persuasion, that brings along with it reason
and opportunity, presides over marriages; she takes away and
extinguisheth all the violent fury of pleasure, and makes it tend
to friendship, mutual confidence, and endearment, and not to
effeminacy, lust, or discontent. The delight which the eye or ear
receives is a sort of pleasure, either appropriate to reason or to
passion, or common to them both. This the two other Muses,
Terpsichore and Melpomene, so moderate, that the one may only
tickle and not charm, the other only please and not bewitch.


[Greek omitted], GESTURE, AND [Greek omitted], REPRESENTATION.


After this, a match of dancing was proposed, and a cake was the
prize. The judges were Meniscus the dancing-master, and my
brother Lamprias; for he danced the Pyrrhic very well, and in the
Palaestra none could match him for the graceful motion of his hands
and arms in dancing. Now a great many dancing with more heat than
art, some desired two of the company who seemed to be best skilled
and took most care to observe their steps, to dance in the kind
called [Greek omitted]. Upon this Thrasybulus, the son of
Ammonius, demanded what [Greek omitted] signified, and gave
Ammonius occasion to run over most of the parts of dancing.

He said they were three,--[Greek omitted], [Greek omitted] and
[Greek omitted]. For dancing is made up of motion and manner
[Greek omitted] as a song of sounds and stops; stops are the ends
of motion. Now the motions they call [Greek omitted], and the
gestures and likeness to which the motions tend, and in which they
end, they call [Greek omitted]: as, for instance, when by their own
motions they represent the figure of Apollo, Pan, or any of the
raging Bacchae. The third is [Greek omitted]; which is not an
imitation, but a plain downright indication of the things
represented. For as the poets, when they would speak of Achilles,
Ulysses, the earth, or heaven, use their proper names, and such as
the vulgar usually understand. But for the more lively
representation, they use such words as by their very sound express
some eminent quality in the thing, or metaphors; as when they say
that streams do "babble and flash"; that arrows fly "desirous the
flesh to wound"; or when they describe an equal battle by saying
"the fight had equal heads." They have likewise a great many
significative compositions in their verses. Thus Euripides
of Perseus,

He that Medusa slew, and flies in air;

and Pindar of a horse,

When by the smooth Alpheus's banks
He ran the race, and never felt the spur;

and Homer of a race,

The chariots, overlaid with tin and brass,
By fiery horses drawn ran swiftly on.
(Euripedes, Frag. 975; Pindar, "Olympian," i. 31;
"Iliad," xxiii. 503.)

So in dancing, the [Greek omitted] represents the shape and
figure, the [Greek omitted] shows some action, passion, or power;
but by the [Greek omitted] are properly and significatively shown
the things themselves, for instance, the heaven, earth, or the
company. Which, being done in a certain order and method,
resembles the proper names used in poetry, decently clothed and

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