THE WORKS OF LUCIAN OF SAMOSATA
Complete with exceptions specified in the preface
H. W. FOWLER AND F. G. FOWLER
OF FOUR VOLUMES
What work nobler than transplanting foreign thought into the barren domestic soil? except indeed planting thought of your own, which the fewest are privileged to do.—Sartor Resartus.
At each flaw, be this your first thought: the author doubtless said something quite different, and much more to the point. And then you may hiss me off, if you will.—LUCIAN, Nigrinus, 9.
(LUCIAN) The last great master of Attic eloquence and Attic wit.— Lord Macaulay.
CONTENTS OF VOL. III
LIFE OF DEMONAX
DEFENCE OF THE 'PORTRAIT-STUDY'
TOXARIS: A DIALOGUE OF FRIENDSHIP
ICAROMENIPPUS, AN AERIAL EXPEDITION
THE DOUBLE INDICTMENT
THE PARASITE, A DEMONSTRATION THAT SPONGING IS A PROFESSION
ANACHARSIS, A DISCUSSION OF PHYSICAL TRAINING
THE RHETORICIAN'S VADE MECUM
DIONYSUS, AN INTRODUCTORY LECTURE
HERACLES, AN INTRODUCTORY LECTURE
SWANS AND AMBER
THE FLY, AN APPRECIATION
REMARKS ADDRESSED TO AN ILLITERATE BOOK-FANCIER
ALPHABETICAL TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIFE OF DEMONAX
It was in the book of Fate that even this age of ours should not be destitute entirely of noteworthy and memorable men, but produce a body of extraordinary power, and a mind of surpassing wisdom. My allusions are to Sostratus the Boeotian, whom the Greeks called, and believed to be, Heracles; and more particularly to the philosopher Demonax. I saw and marvelled at both of them, and with the latter I long consorted. I have written of Sostratus elsewhere [Footnote: The life of Sostratus is not extant.], and described his stature and enormous strength, his open-air life on Parnassus, sleeping on the grass and eating what the mountain afforded, the exploits that bore out his surname—robbers exterminated, rough places made smooth, and deep waters bridged.
This time I am to write of Demonax, with two sufficient ends in view: first, to keep his memory green among good men, as far as in me lies; and secondly, to provide the most earnest of our rising generation, who aspire to philosophy, with a contemporary pattern, that they may not be forced back upon the ancients for worthy models, but imitate this best—if I am any judge—of all philosophers.
He came of a Cyprian family which enjoyed considerable property and political influence. But his views soared above such things as these; he claimed nothing less than the highest, and devoted himself to philosophy. This was not due to any exhortations of Agathobulus, his predecessor Demetrius, or Epictetus. He did indeed enjoy the converse of all these, as well as of Timocrates of Heraclea, that wise man whose gifts of expression and of understanding were equal. It was not, however, to the exhortations of any of these, but to a natural impulse towards the good, an innate yearning for philosophy which manifested itself in childish years, that he owed his superiority to all the things that ordinary men pursue. He took independence and candour for his guiding principles, lived himself an upright, wholesome, irreproachable life, and exhibited to all who saw or heard him the model of his own disposition and philosophic sincerity.
He was no half-baked enthusiast either; he had lived with the poets, and knew most of them by heart; he was a practised speaker; he had a knowledge of philosophic principles not of the superficial skin-deep order; he had developed and hardened his body by exercise and toil, and, in short, had been at the pains to make himself every man's equal at every point. He was consistent enough, when he found that he could no longer suffice to himself, to depart voluntarily from life, leaving a great reputation behind him among the true nobility of Greece.
Instead of confining himself to a single philosophic school, he laid them all under contribution, without showing clearly which of them he preferred; but perhaps he was nearest akin to Socrates; for, though he had leanings as regards externals and plain living to Diogenes, he never studied effect or lived for the applause and admiration of the multitude; his ways were like other people's; he mounted no high horse; he was just a man and a citizen. He indulged in no Socratic irony; but his discourse was full of Attic grace; those who heard it went away neither disgusted by servility nor repelled by ill-tempered censure, but on the contrary lifted out of themselves by charity, and encouraged to more orderly, contented, hopeful lives.
He was never known to shout or be over vehement or angry, even when he had to correct; he touched offences, but pardoned offenders, saying that the doctors' was the right model, who treat sickness but are not angry with the sick. It is human, he thought, to err, but divine (whether in God or man) to put the error right.
A life of this sort left him without wants of his own; but he was always ready to render any proper service to his friends—including reminders to those among them who passed for fortunate, how brief was their tenure of what they so prided themselves upon. To all, on the other hand, who repined at poverty, resented exile, or complained of old age or bad health, he administered laughing consolation, and bade them not forget how soon their troubles would be over, the distinction between good and bad be obsolete, and long freedom succeed to short-lived distress.
He was fond of playing peace-maker between brothers at variance, or presiding over the restoration of marital harmony. He could say a word in season, too, before an agitated political assembly, which would turn the scale in favour of patriotic duty. Such was the temper that philosophy produced in him, kindly, mild, and cheerful.
Nothing ever grieved him except the illness or death of a friend, friendship being the one among blessings that he put highest; and indeed he was every man's friend, counting among his kindred whatever had human shape. Not that there were no degrees in the pleasure different people's society gave him; but he avoided none, except those who seemed so far astray that they could get no good from him. And every word or act in which these principles took shape might have been dictated by the Graces and Aphrodite; for 'on his lips Persuasion sat,' as the play has it.
Accordingly he was regarded with reverence at Athens, both by the collective assembly and by the officials; he always continued to be a person of great consequence in their eyes. And this though most of them had been at first offended with him, and hated him as heartily as their ancestors had Socrates. Besides his candour and independence, there had been found Anytuses and Meletuses to repeat the historic charges: he had never been known to sacrifice, and he made himself singular by avoiding initiation at Eleusis. On this occasion he showed his courage by appearing in a garland and festal attire, and then pleading his cause before the people with a dash of unwonted asperity infused into his ordinary moderate tone. On the count of never having sacrificed to Athene, 'Men of Athens,' he said, 'there is nothing wonderful in this; it was only that I gave the Goddess credit for being able to do very well without sacrifices from me.' And in the matter of the Mysteries, his reason for not following the usual practice was this: if the Mysteries turned out to be bad, he would never be able to keep quiet about it to the uninitiated, but must dissuade them from the ceremony; while, if they were good, humanity would tempt him to divulge them. The Athenians, stone in hand already, were at once disarmed, and from that time onwards paid him honour and respect, which ultimately rose to reverence. Yet he had opened his case with a bitter enough reproof: 'Men of Athens, you see me ready garlanded; proceed to sacrifice me, then; your former offering [Footnote: i.e., Socrates.] was deficient in this formality.'
I will now give some specimens of his pointed and witty sayings, which may begin with his answers to Favorinus. The latter had heard that he made fun of his lectures, and in particular of the sentimental verses with which they were garnished, and which Demonax thought contemptible, womanish, and quite unsuited to philosophy. So he came and asked him: 'Who, pray, are you, that you should pour scorn upon me?' 'I am the possessor of a critical pair of ears,' was the answer. The sophist had not had enough; 'You are no infant,' he went on, 'but a philosopher, it seems; may one ask what marks the transformation?' 'The marks of manhood,' said Demonax.
Another time the same person came up and asked him what school of philosophy he belonged to. 'Who told you I was a philosopher?' was all he said. But as he left him, he had a good laugh to himself, which Favorinus observing, demanded what he was laughing at; 'I was only amused by your taking a man for a philosopher because he wears a beard, when you have none yourself.'
When Sidonius, who had a great reputation at Athens as a teacher, was boasting that he was conversant with all the philosophic systems—but I had better quote his words. 'Let Aristotle call, and I follow to the Lyceum; Plato, and I hurry to the Academy; Zeno, and I make my home in the Porch; Pythagoras, and I keep the rule of silence.' Then rose Demonax from among the audience: 'Sidonius, Pythagoras calls.'
A pretty girlish young man called Python, son of some Macedonian grandee, once by way of quizzing him asked a riddling question and invited him to show his acumen over it. 'I only see one thing, dear child,' he said, 'and that is, that you are a fair logician.' The other lost his temper at this equivoque, and threatened him: 'You shall see in a minute what a man can do.' 'Oh, you keep a man, do you?' was Demonax's smiling retort.
He once, for daring to laugh at an athlete who displayed himself in gay clothes because he had won an Olympic victory, received a blow on the head with a stone, which drew blood. The bystanders were all as angry as if they had themselves been the victims, and set up a shout—'The Proconsul! the Proconsul!' 'Thank you, gentlemen,' said Demonax, 'but I should prefer the doctor.'
He once picked up a little gold charm in the road as he walked, and posted a notice in the market-place stating that the loser could recover his property, if he would call upon Demonax and give particulars of the weight, material, and workmanship. A handsome young exquisite came, professing to have lost it. The philosopher soon saw that it was a got-up story; 'Ah, my boy,' he said, 'you will do very well, if you lose your other charms as little as you have lost this one.'
A Roman senator at Athens once presented his son, who had great beauty of a soft womanish type. 'My son salutes you, sir,' he said. To which Demonax answered, 'A pretty lad, worthy of his father, and extremely like his mother.'
A cynic who emphasized his principles by wearing a bear's skin he insisted on addressing not by his name of Honoratus, but as Bruin.
Asked for a definition of Happiness, he said that only the free was happy. 'Well,' said the questioner, 'there is no lack of free men.'—'I count no man free who is subject to hopes and fears.'— 'You ask impossibilities; of these two we are all very much the slaves.' 'Once grasp the nature of human affairs,' said Demonax, 'and you will find that they justify neither hope nor fear, since both pain and pleasure are to have an end.'
Peregrine Proteus was shocked at his taking things so lightly, and treating mankind as a subject for humour: 'You have no teeth, Demonax.' 'And you, Peregrine, have no bowels.'
A physical philosopher was discoursing about the antipodes; Demonax took his hand, and led him to a well, in which he showed him his own reflection: 'Do you want us to believe that the antipodes are like that?'
A man once boasted that he was a wizard, and possessed of mighty charms whereby he could get what he chose out of anybody. 'Will it surprise you to learn that I am a fellow-craftsman?' asked Demonax; 'pray come with me to the baker's, and you shall see a single charm, just one wave of my magic wand, induce him to bestow several loaves upon me.' Current coin, he meant, is as good a magician as most.
The great Herodes, mourning the untimely death of Pollux, used to have the carriage and horses got ready, and the place laid at table, as though the dead were going to drive and eat. To him came Demonax, saying that he brought a message from Pollux. Herodes, delighted with the idea that Demonax was humouring his whim like other people, asked what it was that Pollux required of him. 'He cannot think why you are so long coming to him.'
When another person kept himself shut up in the dark, mourning his son, Demonax represented himself to him as a magician: he would call up the son's ghost, the only condition being that he should be given the names of three people who had never had to mourn. The father hum'd and ha'd, unable, doubtless, to produce any such person, till Demonax broke in: 'And have you, then, a monopoly of the unendurable, when you cannot name a man who has not some grief to endure?'
He often ridiculed the people who use obsolete and uncommon words in their lectures. One of these produced a bit of Attic purism in answer to some question he had put. 'My dear sir,' he said, 'the date of my question is to-day; that of your answer is temp. Bell. Troj.'
A friend asking him to come to the temple of Asclepius, there to make prayer for his son, 'Poor deaf Asclepius!' he exclaimed; 'can he not hear at this distance?'
He once saw two philosophers engaged in a very unedifying game of cross questions and crooked answers. 'Gentlemen,' said he, 'here is one man milking a billy-goat, and another catching the proceeds in a sieve.'
When Agathocles the Peripatetic vaunted himself as the first and only dialectician, he asked him how he could be the first, if he was the only, or the only, if he was the first.
The consular Cethegus, on his way to serve under his father in Asia, said and did many foolish things. A friend describing him as a great ass, 'Not even a great ass,' said Demonax.
When Apollonius was appointed professor of philosophy in the Imperial household, Demonax witnessed his departure, attended by a great number of his pupils. 'Why, here is Apollonius with all his Argonauts,' he cried.
Asked whether he held the soul to be immortal, 'Dear me, yes,' he said; 'everything is.'
He remarked a propos of Herodes that Plato was quite right about our having more than one soul; the same soul could not possibly compose those splendid declamations, and have places laid for Regilla and Pollux after their death.
He was once bold enough to ask the assembled people, when he heard the sacred proclamation, why they excluded barbarians from the Mysteries, seeing that Eumolpus, the founder of them, was a barbarian from Thrace.
When he once had a winter voyage to make, a friend asked how he liked the thought of being capsized and becoming food for fishes. 'I should be very unreasonable to mind giving them a meal, considering how many they have given me.'
To a rhetorician who had given a very poor declamation he recommended constant practice. 'Why, I am always practising to myself,' says the man. 'Ah, that accounts for it; you are accustomed to such a foolish audience.'
Observing a soothsayer one day officiating for pay, he said: 'I cannot see how you can ask pay. If it is because you can change the course of Fate, you cannot possibly put the figure high enough: if everything is settled by Heaven, and not by you, what is the good of your soothsaying?'
A hale old Roman once gave him a little exhibition of his skill in fence, taking a clothes-peg for his mark. 'What do you think of my play, Demonax?' he said. 'Excellent, so long as you have a wooden man to play with.'
Even for questions meant to be insoluble he generally had a shrewd answer at command. Some one tried to make a fool of him by asking, If I burn a hundred pounds of wood, how many pounds of smoke shall I get? 'Weigh the ashes; the difference is all smoke.'
One Polybius, an uneducated man whose grammar was very defective, once informed him that he had received Roman citizenship from the Emperor. 'Why did he not make you a Greek instead?' asked Demonax.
Seeing a decorated person very proud of his broad stripe, he whispered in his ear, while he took hold of and drew attention to the cloth, 'This attire did not make its original wearer anything but a sheep.'
Once at the bath the water was at boiling point, and some one called him a coward for hesitating to get in. 'What,' said he, 'is my country expecting me to do my duty?'
Some one asked him what he took the next world to be like. 'Wait a bit, and I will send you the information.'
A minor poet called Admetus told him he had inserted a clause in his will for the inscribing on his tomb of a monostich, which I will give:
Admetus' husk earth holds, and Heaven himself.
'What a beautiful epitaph, Admetus!' said Demonax, 'and what a pity it is not up yet!'
The shrunk shanks of old age are a commonplace; but when his reached this state, some one asked him what was the matter with them. 'Ah,' he said with a smile, 'Charon has been having a bite at them.'
He interrupted a Spartan who was scourging his servant with, 'Why confer on your slave the privilege of Spartans [Footnote: See Spartans in Notes.] like yourself?' He observed to one Danae, who was bringing a suit against her brother, 'Have the law of him by all means; it was another Danae whose father was called the Lawless. [Footnote: See Danae in Notes.]
He waged constant warfare against all whose philosophy was not practical, but for show. So when he saw a cynic, with threadbare cloak and wallet, but a braying-pestle instead of a staff, proclaiming himself loudly as a follower of Antisthenes, Crates, and Diogenes, he said: 'Tell us no lies; your master is the professor of braying.'
Noticing how foul play was growing among the athletes, who often supplemented the resources of boxing and wrestling with their teeth, he said it was no wonder that the champions' partisans had taken to describing them as lions.
There was both wit and sting in what he said to the proconsul. The latter was one of the people who take all the hair off their bodies with pitch-plaster. A cynic mounted a block of stone and cast this practice in his teeth, suggesting that it was for immoral purposes. The proconsul in a rage had the man pulled down, and was on the point of condemning him to be beaten or banished, when Demonax, who was present, pleaded for him on the ground that he was only exercising the traditional cynic licence. 'Well,' said the proconsul, 'I pardon him this time at your request; but if he offends again, what shall I do to him?' 'Have him depilated,' said Demonax.
Another person, entrusted by the Emperor with the command of legions and the charge of a great province, asked him what was the way to govern well. 'Keep your temper, say little, and hear much.'
Asked whether he ate honey-cakes, 'Do you suppose,' he said, 'that bees only make honey for fools?'
Noticing near the Poecile a statue minus a hand, he said it had taken Athens a long time to get up a bronze to Cynaegirus.
Alluding to the lame Cyprian Rufinus, who was a Peripatetic and spent much time in the Lyceum walks, 'What presumption,' he exclaimed, 'for a cripple to call himself a Walking Philosopher!'
Epictetus once urged him, with a touch of reproof, to take a wife and raise a family—for it beseemed a philosopher to leave some one to represent him after the flesh. But he received the home thrust: 'Very well, Epictetus; give me one of your daughters.'
His remark to Herminus the Aristotelian is equally worth recording. He was aware that this man's character was vile and his misdeeds innumerable, and yet his mouth was always full of Aristotle and his ten predicaments. 'Certainly, Herminus,' he said, 'no predicament is too bad for you.'
When the Athenians were thinking, in their rivalry with Corinth, of starting gladiatorial shows, he came forward and said: 'Men of Athens, before you pass this motion, do not forget to destroy the altar of Pity.'
On the occasion of his visiting Olympia, the Eleans voted a bronze statue to him. But he remonstrated: 'It will imply a reproach to your ancestors, men of Elis, who set up no statue to Socrates or Diogenes.'
I once heard him observe to a learned lawyer that laws were not of much use, whether meant for the good or for the bad; the first do not need them, and upon the second they have no effect.
There was one line of Homer always on his tongue:
Idle or busy, death takes all alike.
He had a good word for Thersites, as a cynic and a leveller.
Asked which of the philosophers was most to his taste, he said: 'I admire them all; Socrates I revere, Diogenes I admire, Aristippus I love.'
He lived to nearly a hundred, free from disease and pain, burdening no man, asking no man's favour, serving his friends, and having no enemies. Not Athens only, but all Greece was so in love with him that as he passed the great would give him place and there would be a general hush. Towards the end of his long life he would go uninvited into the first house that offered, and there get his dinner and his bed, the household regarding it as the visit of some heavenly being which brought them a blessing. When they saw him go by, the baker-wives would contend for the honour of supplying him, and a happy woman was the actual donor. Children too used to call him father, and bring him offerings of fruit.
Party spirit was once running high at Athens; he came into the assembly, and his mere appearance was enough to still the storm. When he saw that they were ashamed, he departed again without having uttered a word.
When he found that he was no longer able to take care of himself, he repeated to his friends the tag with which the heralds close the festival:
The games are done, The crowns all won; No more delay, But haste away,
and from that moment abstaining from food, left life as cheerfully as he had lived it.
When the end was near, he was asked his wishes about burial. 'Oh, do not trouble; scent will summon my undertakers.' Well, but it would be indecent for the body of so great a man to feed birds and dogs. 'Oh, no harm in making oneself useful in death to anything that lives.'
However, the Athenians gave him a magnificent public funeral, long lamented him, worshipped and garlanded the stone seat on which he had been wont to rest when tired, accounting the mere stone sanctified by him who had sat upon it. No one would miss the funeral ceremony, least of all any of the philosophers. It was these who bore him to the grave.
I have made but a small selection of the material available; but it may serve to give readers some idea of this great man's character.
Ly. Polystratus, I know now what men must have felt like when they saw the Gorgon's head. I have just experienced the same sensation, at the sight of a most lovely woman. A little more, and I should have realized the legend, by being turned to stone; I am benumbed with admiration.
Poly. Wonderful indeed must have been the beauty, and terrible the power of the woman who could produce such an impression on Lycinus. Tell me of this petrifying Medusa. Who is she, and whence? I would see her myself. You will not grudge me that privilege? Your jealousy will not take alarm at the prospect of a rival petrifaction at your side?
Ly. Well, I give you fair warning: one distant glimpse of her, and you are speechless, motionless as any statue. Nay, that is a light affliction: the mortal wound is not dealt till her glance has fallen on you. What can save you then? She will lead you in chains, hither and thither, as the magnet draws the steel.
Poly. Enough! You would make her more than human. And now tell me who she is.
Ly. You think I am exaggerating: I fear you will have but a poor opinion of my eloquence when you see her as she is—so far above my praise. Who she is, I cannot say: but to judge from the splendour of her surroundings, her retinue, her host of eunuchs and maids, she must be of no ordinary rank.
Poly. And you never even asked her name?
Ly. Why no; but she is from Ionia; because, as she passed, I heard one of the bystanders speak aside to his neighbour: 'See, he exclaimed, 'what Smyrna can produce! And what wonder, if the fairest of Ionian cities has given birth to the fairest of women?' I thought he must come from Smyrna himself, he was so proud of her.
Poly. There you acted your stony part to perfection. As you could neither follow her, nor make inquiries of the Smyrnaean, it only remains for you to describe her as best you can, on the chance of my recognizing her.
Ly. You know not what you ask. It is not in the power of words—certainly not of my words—to portray such wondrous beauty; scarcely could an Apelles, a Zeuxis, a Parrhasius,—a Phidias or an Alcamenes, do justice to it; as for my flimsy workmanship, it will but insult the original.
Poly. Well, never mind; what was she like? There can be no harm in trying your hand. What if the portrait be somewhat out of drawing?—the critic is your good friend.
Ly. I think my best way out of it will be to call in the aid of some of the old masters I have named: let them fashion the likeness for me.
Poly. Well, but—will they come? They have been dead so long.
Ly. That is easily managed: but you must not mind answering me a few questions.
Poly. You have but to ask.
Ly. Were you ever at Cnidus?
Poly. I was.
Ly. Then you have seen the Aphrodite, of course?
Poly. That masterpiece of Praxiteles's art! I have.
Ly. And heard the story they tell there,—of the man who fell in love with the statue, and contrived to get shut into the temple alone, and there enjoyed such favours as a statue is able to bestow.—But that is neither here nor there.—You have seen the Cnidian Aphrodite, anyhow; now I want to know whether you have also seen our own Aphrodite of the Gardens,—the Alcamenes.
Poly. I must be a dullard of dullards, if that most exquisite of Alcamenes's works had escaped my notice.
Ly. I forbear to ask whether in the course of your many visits to the Acropolis you ever observed the Sosandra of Calamis. [Footnote: This statue is usually identified with one of Aphrodite by the same sculptor, mentioned in Pausanias. Soteira ('saviour') is known as an epithet of Aphrodite: but Sosandra ('man-saving') is explained as a nickname of the particular statue, in playful allusion to Callias, the donor, who was apparently indebted to Aphrodite for his success with a certain Elpinice.]
Ly. That is really enough for my purpose. But I should just like to know what you consider to be Phidias's best work.
Poly. Can you ask?—The Lemnian Athene, which bears the artist's own signature; oh, and of course the Amazon leaning on her spear.
Ly. I approve your judgement. We shall have no need of other artists: I am now to cull from each of these its own peculiar beauty, and combine all in a single portrait.
Poly. And how are you going to do that?
Ly. It is quite simple. All we have to do is to hand over our several types to Reason, whose care it must be to unite them in the most harmonious fashion, with due regard to the consistency, as to the variety, of the result.
Poly. To be sure; let Reason take her materials and begin. What will she make of it, I wonder? Will she contrive to put all these different types together without their clashing?
Ly. Well, look; she is at work already. Observe her procedure. She begins with our Cnidian importation, from which she takes only the head; with the rest she is not concerned, as the statue is nude. The hair, the forehead, the exquisite eyebrows, she will keep as Praxiteles has rendered them; the eyes, too, those soft, yet bright-glancing eyes, she leaves unaltered. But the cheeks and the front of the face are taken from the 'Garden' Goddess; and so are the lines of the hands, the shapely wrists, the delicately-tapering fingers. Phidias and the Lemnian Athene will give the outline of the face, and the well-proportioned nose, and lend new softness to the cheeks; and the same artist may shape her neck and closed lips, to resemble those of his Amazon. Calamis adorns her with Sosandra's modesty, Sosandra's grave half- smile; the decent seemly dress is Sosandra's too, save that the head must not be veiled. For her stature, let it be that of Cnidian Aphrodite; once more we have recourse to Praxiteles.—What think you, Polystratus? Is it a lovely portrait?
Poly. Assuredly it will be, when it is perfected. At present, my paragon of sculptors, one element of loveliness has escaped your comprehensive grasp.
Ly. What is that?
Poly. A most important one. You will agree with me that colour and tone have a good deal to do with beauty? that black should be black, white be white, and red play its blushing part? It looks to me as if the most important thing of all were still lacking.
Ly. Well, how shall we manage? Call in the painters, perhaps, selecting those who were noted for their skill in mixing and laying on their colours? Be it so: we will have Polygnotus, Euphranor of course, Apelles and Aetion; they can divide the work between them. Euphranor shall colour the hair like his Hera's; Polygnotus the comely brow and faintly blushing cheek, after his Cassandra in the Assembly-room at Delphi. Polygnotus shall also paint her robe,—of the finest texture, part duly gathered in, but most of it floating in the breeze. For the flesh-tints, which must be neither too pale nor too high-coloured, Apelles shall copy his own Campaspe. And lastly, Aetion shall give her Roxana's lips. Nay, we can do better: have we not Homer, best of painters, though a Euphranor and an Apelles be present? Let him colour all like the limbs of Menelaus, which he says were 'ivory tinged with red.' He too shall paint her calm 'ox- eyes,' and the Theban poet shall help him to give them their 'violet' hue. Homer shall add her smile, her white arms, her rosy finger-tips, and so complete the resemblance to golden Aphrodite, to whom he has compared Brises' daughter with far less reason. So far we may trust our sculptors and painters and poets: but for her crowning glory, for the grace—nay, the choir of Graces and Loves that encircle her—who shall portray them?
Poly. This was no earthly vision, Lycinus; surely she must have dropped from the clouds.—And what was she doing?
Ly. In her hands was an open scroll; half read (so I surmised) and half to be read. As she passed, she was making some remark to one of her company; what it was I did not catch. But when she smiled, ah! then, Polystratus, I beheld teeth whose whiteness, whose unbroken regularity, who shall describe? Imagine a lovely necklace of gleaming pearls, all of a size; and imagine those dazzling rows set off by ruby lips. In that glimpse, I realized what Homer meant by his 'carven ivory.' Other women's teeth differ in size; or they project; or there are gaps: here, all was equality and evenness; pearl joined to pearl in unbroken line. Oh, 'twas a wondrous sight, of beauty more than human.
Poly. Stay. I know now whom you mean, as well from your description as from her nationality. You said that there were eunuchs in her train?
Ly. Yes; and soldiers too.
Poly. My simple friend, the lady you have been describing is a celebrity, and possesses the affections of an Emperor.
Ly. And her name?
Poly. Adds one more to the list of her charms; for it is the same as that of Abradatas's wife. [Footnote: See Panthea in Notes.] You know Xenophon's enthusiastic account of that beautiful and virtuous woman?—you have read it a dozen times.
Ly. Yes; and every time I read it, it is as if she stood before me. I almost hear her uttering the words the historian has put into her mouth, and see her arming her husband and sending him forth to battle.
Poly. Ah, my dear Lycinus, this lady has passed you but once, like a lightning flash; and your praises, I perceive, are all for those external charms that strike the eye. You are yet a stranger to her nobility of soul; you know not that higher, more god-like beauty. I am her fellow-countryman, I know her, and have conversed with her many times. You are aware that gentleness, humanity, magnanimity, modesty, culture, are things that I prize more than beauty-and rightly; to do otherwise would be as absurd as to value raiment above the body. Where physical perfection goes hand-in-hand with spiritual excellence, there alone (as I maintain) is true beauty. I could show you many a woman whose outward loveliness is marred by what is within; who has but to open her lips, and beauty stands confessed a faded, withered thing, the mean, unlovely handmaid of that odious mistress, her soul. Such women are like Egyptian temples: the shrine is fair and stately, wrought of costly marble, decked out with gilding and painting: but seek the God within, and you find an ape—an ibis—a goat—a cat. Of how many women is the same thing true! Beauty unadorned is not enough: and her true adornments are not purple and jewels, but those others that I have mentioned, modesty, courtesy, humanity, virtue and all that waits on virtue.
Ly. Why then, Polystratus, you shall give me story for story, good measure, shaken together, out of your abundance: paint me the portrait of her soul, that I may be no more her half-admirer.
Poly. This will be no light task, my friend. It is one thing to commend what all the world can see, and quite another to reveal what is hidden. I too shall want help with my portrait. Nor will sculptors and painters suffice me: I must have philosophers; it is by their canons that I must adjust the proportions of the figure, if I am to attain to the perfection of ancient models.
To begin then. Of her clear, liquid voice Homer might have said, with far more truth than of aged Nestor's, that
honey from those lips distilled.
The pitch, exquisitely soft, as far removed from masculine bass as from ultra-feminine treble, is that of a boy before his voice breaks; sweet, seductive, suavely penetrating; it ceases, and still vibrating murmurs play, echo-like, about the listener's ears, and Persuasion leaves her honeyed track upon his mind. But oh! the joy, to hear her sing, and sing to the lyre's accompaniment. Let swans and halcyons and cicalas then be mute. There is no music like hers; Philomela's self, 'full-throated songstress' though she be, is all unskilled beside her. Methinks Orpheus and Amphion, whose spell drew even lifeless things to hear them, would have dropped their lyres and stood listening in silence to that voice. What should Thracian Orpheus, what should Amphion, whose days upon Cithaeron were divided betwixt his lyre and his herd,—what should they know of true concord, of accurate rhythm, of accentuation and time, of the harmonious adaptation of lyre and voice, of easy and graceful execution? Yes; once hear her sing, Lycinus, and you will know something of Sirens as well as of Gorgons: you have experienced petrifaction; you will next learn what it is to stand entranced, forgetting country and kindred. Wax will not avail you: her song will penetrate through all; for therein is every grace that Terpsichore, Melpomene, Calliope herself, could inspire. In a word, imagine that you hear such notes as should issue from those lips, those teeth that you have seen. Her perfect intonation, her pure Ionic accent, her ready Attic eloquence, need not surprise you; these are her birthright; for is not Smyrna Athens' daughter? And what more natural than that she should love poetry, and make it her chief study? Homer is her fellow citizen.—There you have my first portrait; the portrait of a sweet-voiced songstress, though it fall far short of its original. And now for others. For I do not propose to make one of many, as you did. I aim higher: the complex picture of so many beauties wrought into one, however artful be the composition, cannot escape inconsistency: with me, each separate virtue of her soul shall sit for its own portrait.
Ly. What a banquet awaits me! Here, assuredly, is good measure. Mete it out; I ask for nothing better.
Poly. I proceed then to the delineation of Culture, the confessed mistress of all mental excellences, particularly of all acquired ones: I must render her features in all their manifold variety; not even here shall my portraiture be inferior to your own. I paint her, then, with every grace that Helicon can give. Each of the Muses has but her single accomplishment, be it tragedy or history or hymn: all these Culture shall have, and with them the gifts of Hermes and of Apollo. The poet's graceful numbers, the orator's persuasive power, the historian's learning, the sage's counsel, all these shall be her adornments; the colours shall be imperishable, and laid on with no niggardly brush. It is not my fault, if I am unable to point to any classical model for the portrait: the records of antiquity afford no precedent for a culture so highly developed.—May I hang this beside the other? I think it is a passable likeness.
Ly. Passable! My dear Polystratus, it is sublime; exquisitely finished in every line.
Poly. Next I have to depict Wisdom; and here I shall have occasion for many models, most of them ancient; one comes, like the lady herself, from Ionia. The artists shall be Aeschines and Socrates his master, most realistic of painters, for their heart was in their work. We could choose no better model of wisdom than Milesian Aspasia, the admired of the admirable 'Olympian' [Footnote: See Pericles in Notes.]; her political knowledge and insight, her shrewdness and penetration, shall all be transferred to our canvas in their perfect measure. Aspasia, however, is only preserved to us in miniature: our proportions must be those of a colossus.
Poly. The portraits will be alike, but not on the same scale. There is a difference between the little republic of ancient Athens, and the Roman Empire of to-day; and there will be the same difference in scale (however close the resemblance in other respects) between our huge canvas and that miniature. A second and a third model may be found in Theano, and in the poetess of Lesbos; nay, we may add Diotima too. Theano shall give grandeur to the picture, Sappho elegance; and Diotima shall be represented as well by her wisdom and sagacity, as by the qualities for which Socrates commended her. The portrait is complete. Let it be hung.
Ly. 'Tis a fine piece of work. Proceed.
Poly. Courtesy, benevolence: that is now my subject. I have to show forth her gentle disposition, her graciousness to suppliants. She shall appear in the likeness of Theano—Antenor's Theano this time—, of Arete and her daughter Nausicaa, and of every other who in her high station has borne herself with constancy. Next comes constancy of another kind,—constancy in love; its original, the daughter of Icarius, 'constant' and 'wise,' as Homer draws her; am I doing more than justice to his Penelope? And there is another: our lady's namesake, Abradatas's wife; of her we have already spoken.
Ly. Once more, noble work, Polystratus. And now your task must be drawing to a close: here is a whole soul depicted; its every virtue praised.
Poly. Not yet: the highest praise remains. Born to magnificence, she clothes not herself in the pride of wealth; listens not to Fortune's flattering tale, who tells her she is more than human; but walks upon the common ground, far removed from all thought of arrogance and ostentation. Every man is her equal; her greeting, her smile are for all who approach her; and how acceptable is the kindness of a superior, when it is free from every touch of condescension! When the power of the great turns not to insolence but to beneficence, we feel that Fortune has bestowed her gifts aright. Here alone Envy has no place. For how should one man grudge another his prosperity when he sees him using it with moderation, not, like the Homeric Ate, an oppressor of the weak, trampling on men's necks? It is otherwise with those meaner souls—victims of their own ignoble vanity—, who, when Fortune has raised them suddenly beyond their hopes into her winged aerial car, know no rest, can never look behind them, but must ever press upwards. To such the end soon comes: Icarus-like, with melted wax and moulting feathers, they fall headlong into the billows, a derision to mankind. The Daedaluses use their waxen wings with moderation: they are but men; they husband their strength accordingly, and are content to fly a little higher than the waves,—so little that the sun never finds them dry; and that prudence is their salvation.
Therein lies this lady's highest praise. She has her reward: all men pray that her wings may never droop, and that blessings may increase upon her.
Ly. And may the prayer be granted! She deserves every blessing: she is not outwardly fair alone, like Helen, but has a soul within more fair, more lovely than her body. It is a fitting crown to the happiness of our benevolent and gracious Emperor, that in his day such a woman should be born; should be his, and her affections his. It is blessedness indeed, to possess one of whom we may say with Homer that she contends with golden Aphrodite in beauty, and in works is the equal of Athene. Who of womankind shall be compared to her
In comeliness, in wit, in goodly works?
Poly. Who indeed?—Lycinus, I have a proposal to make. Let us combine our portraits, yours of the body and mine of the soul, and throw them into a literary form, for the enjoyment of our generation and of all posterity. Such a work will be more enduring than those of Apelles and Parrhasius and Polygnotus; it will be far removed from creations of wood and wax and colour, being inspired by the Muses, in whom alone is that true portraiture that shows forth in one likeness a lovely body and a virtuous soul.
DEFENCE OF THE 'PORTRAIT-STUDY'
_Poly_. Well, here is the lady's comment. _Your pages are most kind and complimentary, I am sure, Lycinus. No one would have so over-praised me who had not felt kindly towards me. But if you would know my real feeling, here it is. I never do much like the complaisant; they always strike me as insincere and wanting in frankness. But when it comes to a set panegyric, in which my much magnified virtues are painted in glaring colours, I blush and would fain stop my ears, and feel that I am rather being made fun of than commended.
Praise is tolerable up to the point at which the object of it can still believe in the existence of the qualities attributed to him; pass that point, and he is revolted and finds the flatterer out. Of course I know there are plenty of people who are glad enough to have non-existent qualities added to their praises; who do not mind being called young and lusty in their decline, or Nireuses and Phaons though they are hideous; who, Pelias-like, expect praise to metamorphose or rejuvenate them.
But they are mistaken. Praise would indeed be a most precious commodity if there were any way of converting its extravagances into solid fact. But there being none, they can only be compared to an ugly man on whom one should clap a beautiful mask, and who should then be proud of those looks that any one could take from him and break to pieces; revealed in his true likeness, he would be only the more ridiculous for the contrast between casket and treasure. Or, if you will, imagine a little man on stilts measuring heights with people who have eighteen inches the better of him in stocking feet_.
And then she told this story. There was a noble lady, fair and comely in all respects except that she was short and ill-proportioned. A poet wrote an ode in her honour, and included among her beauties that of tallness; her slender height was illustrated from the poplar. She was in ecstasies, as though the verses were making her grow, and kept waving her hand. Which the poet seeing, and realizing her appetite for praise, recited the lines again and again, till at last one of the company whispered in his ear, 'Stop, my good man; you will be making her get up.'
She added a similar but still more absurd anecdote of Stratonice the wife of Seleucus, who offered a talent to the poet who should best celebrate her hair. As a matter of fact she was bald, with not a hair to call her own. But what matter what her head was like, or that every one knew how a long illness had treated her? she listened to these abandoned poets telling of hyacinthine locks, plaiting thick tresses, and making imaginary curls as crisp as parsley.
All such surrenders to flattery were laughed to scorn, with the addition that many people were just as fond of being flattered and fooled by portrait-painters as these by verbal artists. What these people look for in a painter (she said) is readiness to improve nature: Some of them insist upon the artist's taking a little off their noses, deepening the shade of their eyes, or otherwise idealizing them to order; it quite escapes them that the garlands they afterwards put on the picture are offered to another person who bears no relation to themselves.
And so she went on, finding much in your composition to approve, but displeased in particular with your likening her to Hera and Aphrodite. Such comparisons are far too high for me, she said, or indeed for any of womankind. Why, I would not have had you put me on a level with women of the Heroic Age, with a Penelope, an Arete, a Theano; how much less with the chief of the Goddesses. Where the Gods are concerned (she continued; and mark her here), I am very apprehensive and timid. I fear that to accept a panegyric like this would be to make a Cassiopeia of myself; though indeed she only challenged the Nereids, and stopped short of Hera and Aphrodite.
So, Lycinus, she insisted that you must recast all this; otherwise she must call the Goddesses to witness that you had written against her wishes, and leave you to the knowledge that the piece would be an annoyance to her, if it circulated in its present shape, so lacking in reverence and piety. The outrage on reverence would be put down to her, if she allowed herself to be likened to her of Cnidus and her of the Garden. She would have you bear in mind the close of your discourse, where you spoke of the unassuming modesty that attempted no superhuman flights, but kept near the earth. It was inconsistent with that to take the same woman up to heaven and compare her with Goddesses.
She would like to be allowed as much sense as Alexander; he, when his architect proposed to transform Mount Athos into a vast image of the King with a pair of cities in his hands, shrank from the grandiose proposal; such presumption was beyond him; such patent megalomania must be suppressed; leave Athos alone, he said, and do not degrade a mighty mountain to the similitude of a poor human body. This only showed the greatness of Alexander, and itself constituted in the eyes of all future generations a monument higher than any Athos; to be able to scorn so extraordinary an honour was itself magnanimity.
So she commends your work of art, and your selective method, but cannot recognize the likeness. She does not come up to the description, nor near it, for indeed no woman could. Accordingly she sends you back your laudation, and pays homage to the originals from which you drew it. Confine your praises within the limits of humanity; if the shoe is too big, it may chance to trip her up. Then there was another point which I was to impress upon you.
I often hear, she said,—but whether it is true, you men know better than I—that at Olympia the victors are not allowed to have their statues set up larger than life; the Stewards see to it that no one transgresses this rule, examining the statues even more scrupulously than they did the competitor's qualification. Take care that we do not get convicted of false proportions, and find our statue thrown down by the Stewards.
And now I have given you her message. It is for you, Lycinus, to overhaul your work, and by removing these blemishes avoid the offence. They shocked and made her nervous as I read; she kept on addressing the Goddesses in propitiatory words; and such feelings may surely be permitted to her sex. For that matter, to be quite frank, I shared them to some extent. At the first hearing I found no offence; but as soon as she put her finger on the fault, I began to agree. You know what happens with visible objects; if we look at them at close quarters, just under our eyes, I mean, we distinguish nothing clearly; but stepping back to the right distance, we get a clear conception of what is right and what is wrong about them. That was my experience here.
After all, to compare a mortal to Hera and Aphrodite is cheapening the Goddesses, and nothing else. In such comparisons the small is not so much magnified as the great is diminished and reduced. If a giant and a dwarf were walking together, and their heights had to be equalized, no efforts of the dwarf could effect it, however much he stood on tiptoe; the giant must stoop and make himself out shorter than he is. So in this sort of portraiture: the human is not so much exalted by the similitude as the divine is belittled and pulled down. If indeed a lack of earthly beauties forced the artist upon scaling Heaven, he might perhaps be acquitted of blasphemy; but your enterprise was so needless; why Aphrodite and Hera, when you have all mortal beauty to choose from?
Prune and chasten, then, Lycinus. All this is not quite like you, who never used to be over-ready with your commendation; you seem to have gone now to the opposite extreme of prodigality, and developed from a niggard into a spendthrift of praise. Do not be ashamed to make alterations in what you have already published, either. They say Phidias did as much after finishing his Olympian Zeus. He stood behind the doors when he had opened them for the first time to let the work be seen, and listened to the comments favourable or the reverse. One found the nose too broad, another the face too long, and so on. When the company was gone, he shut himself up again to correct and adapt his statue to the prevailing taste. Advice so many-headed was not to be despised; the many must after all see further than the one, though that one be Phidias. There is the counsel of a friend and well-wisher to back up the lady's message.
Ly. Why, Polystratus, I never knew what an orator you were. After that eloquent close-packed indictment of my booklet, I almost despair of the defence. You and she were not quite judicial, though; you less than she, in condemning the accused when its counsel was not in court. It is always easy to win a walk-over, you know; so no wonder we were convicted, not being allowed to speak or given the ear of the court. But, still more monstrous, you were accusers and jury at once. Well, what am I to do? accept the verdict and hold my tongue? pen a palinode like Stesichorus? or will you grant an appeal?
Poly. Surely, if you have anything to say for yourself. For you will be heard not by opponents, as you say, but by friends. Indeed, my place is with you in the dock.
Ly. How I wish I could, have spoken in her own presence! that would have been far better; but I must do it by proxy. However, if you will report me to her as well as you did her to me, I will adventure.
Poly. Trust me to do justice to the defence; but put it shortly, in mercy to my memory.
Ly. So severe an indictment should by rights be met at length; but for your sake I will cut it short. Put these considerations before her from me, then.
Poly. No, not that way, please. Make your speech, just as though she were listening, and I will reproduce you to her.
Ly. Very well, then. She is here; she has just delivered the oration which you have described to me; it is now counsel's turn. And yet—I must confide my feelings to you—you have made my undertaking somehow more formidable; you see the beads gather on my brow; my courage goes; I seem to see her there; my situation bewilders me. Yet begin I will; how can I draw back when she is there?
Poly. Ah, but her face promises a kindly hearing; see how bright and gracious. Pluck up heart, man, and begin.
Ly. Most noble lady, in what you term the great and excessive praise that I bestowed upon you, I find no such high testimony to your merits as that which you have borne yourself by your surprise at the attribution of divinity. That one thing surpasses all that I have said of you, and my only excuse for not having added this trait to my portrait is that I was not aware of it; if I had been, no other should have had precedence of it. In this light I find myself, far from exaggerating, to have fallen much short of the truth. Consider the magnitude of this omission, the convincing demonstration of a sterling character and a right disposition which I lost; for those will be the best in human relations who are most earnest in their dealings with the divine. Why, were it decided that I must correct my words and retouch my statue, I should do it not by presuming to take away from it, but by adding this as its crowning grace. But from another point of view I have a great debt of gratitude to acknowledge. I commend your natural modesty, and your freedom from that vanity and pride which so exalted a position as yours might excuse. The best witness to my correctness is just the exception that you have taken to my words. That instead of receiving the praise I offered as your right you should be disturbed at it and call it excessive, is the proof of your unassuming modesty. Nevertheless, the more you reveal that this is your view of praise, the stronger proof you give of your own worthiness to be praised. You are an exact illustration of what Diogenes said when some one asked him how he might become famous:— 'by despising fame.' So if I were asked who most deserve praise, I should answer, Those who refuse it.
But I am perhaps straying from the point. What I have to defend is the having likened you, in giving your outward form, to the Cnidian and the Garden Aphrodite, to Hera and Athene; such comparisons you find out of all proportion. I will deal directly with them, then. It has indeed been said long ago that poets and painters are irresponsible; that is still more true, I conceive, of panegyrists, even humble prose ones like myself who are not run away with by their metre. Panegyric is a chartered thing, with no standard quantitative measure to which it must conform; its one and only aim is to express deep admiration and set its object in the most enviable light. However, I do not intend to take that line of defence; you might think I did so because I had no other open.
But I have. I refer you to the proper formula of panegyric, which requires the author to introduce illustrations, and depends mainly on their goodness for success. Now this goodness is shown not when the illustration is just like the thing illustrated, nor yet when it is inferior, but when it is as high above it as may be. If in praising a dog one should remark that it was bigger than a fox or a cat, would you regard him as a skilful panegyrist? certainly not. Or if he calls it the equal of a wolf, he has not made very much of it so either. Where is the right thing to be found? why, in likening the dog's size and spirit to the lion's. So the poet who would praise Orion's dog called it the lion-queller. There you have the perfect panegyric of the dog. Or take Milo of Croton, Glaucus of Carystus, or Polydamas; to say of them by way of panegyric that each of them was stronger than a woman would be to make oneself a laughing-stock; one man instead of the woman would not much mend matters. But what, pray, does a famous poet make of Glaucus?—
To match those hands not e'en the might Of Pollux' self had dared; Alcmena's son, that iron wight, Had shrunk—
See what Gods he equals him to, or rather what Gods he puts him above. And Glaucus took no exception to being praised at the expense of his art's patron deities; nor yet did they send any judgement on athlete or poet for irreverence; both continued to be honoured in Greece, one for his might, and the other for this even more than for his other odes. Do not be surprised, then, that when I wished to conform to the canons of my art and find an illustration, I took an exalted one, as reason was that I should.
You used the word flattery. To dislike those who practise it is only what you should do, and I honour you for it. But I would have you distinguish between panegyric proper and the flatterer's exaggeration of it. The flatterer praises for selfish ends, cares little for truth, and makes it his business to magnify indiscriminately; most of his effects consist in lying additions of his own; he thinks nothing of making Thersites handsomer than Achilles, or telling Nestor he is younger than any of the host; he will swear Croesus's son hears better than Melampus, and give Phineus better sight than Lynceus, if he sees his way to a profit on the lie. But the panegyrist pure and simple, instead of lying outright, or inventing a quality that does not exist, takes the virtues his subject really does possess, though possibly not in large measure, and makes the most of them. The horse is really distinguished among the animals we know for light-footed speed; well, in praising a horse, he will hazard:
The corn-stalks brake not 'neath his airy tread.
He will not be frightened of 'whirlwind-footed steeds.' If his theme is a noble house, with everything handsome about it,
Zeus on Olympus dwells in such a home,
we shall be told. But your flatterer would use that line about the swineherd's hovel, if he saw a chance of getting anything out of the swineherd. Demetrius Poliorcetes had a flatterer called Cynaethus who, when he was gravelled for lack of matter, found some in a cough that troubled his patron—he cleared his throat so musically!
There you have one criterion: flatterers do not draw the line at a lie if it will please their patrons; panegyrists aim merely at bringing into relief what really exists. But there is another great difference: the flatterers exaggerate as much as ever they can; the panegyrists in the midst of exaggeration observe the limitations of decency. And now that you have one or two of the many tests for flattery and panegyric proper, I hope you will not treat all praise as suspect, but make distinctions and assign each specimen to its true class.
By your leave I will proceed to apply the two definitions to what I wrote; which of them fits it? If it had been an ugly woman that I likened to the Cnidian statue, I should deserve to be thought a toady, further gone in flattery than Cynaethus. But as it was one for whose charms I can call all men to witness, my shot was not so far out.
Now you will perhaps say—nay, you have said already—Praise my beauty, if you will; but the praise should not have been of that invidious kind which compares a woman to Goddesses. Well, I will keep truth at arm's length no longer; I did not, dear lady, compare you to Goddesses, but to the handiwork in marble and bronze and ivory of certain good artists. There is no impiety, surely, in illustrating mortal beauty by the work of mortal hands—unless you take the thing that Phidias fashioned to be indeed Athene, or Praxiteles's not much later work at Cnidus to be the heavenly Aphrodite. But would that be quite a worthy conception of divine beings? I take the real presentment of them to be beyond the reach of human imitation.
But granting even that it had been the actual Goddesses to whom I likened you, it would be no new track, of which I had been the pioneer; it had been trodden before by many a great poet, most of all by your fellow citizen Homer, who will kindly now come and share my defence, on pain of sharing my sentence. I will ask him, then—or rather you for him; for it is one of your merits to have all his finest passages by heart—what think you, then, of his saying about the captive Briseis that in her mourning for Patroclus she was 'Golden Aphrodite's peer'? A little further on, Aphrodite alone not meeting the case, it is:
So spake that weeping dame, a match for Goddesses.
When he talks like that, do you take offence and fling the book away, or has he your licence to expatiate in panegyric? Whether he has yours or not, he has that of all these centuries, wherein not a critic has found fault with him for it, not he that dared to scourge his statue [Footnote: Zoilus, called Homeromastix.], not he whose marginal pen [Footnote: Aristarclius.] bastarded so many of his verses. Now, shall he have leave to match with Golden Aphrodite a barbarian woman, and her in tears, while I, lest I should describe the beauty that you like not to hear of, am forbidden to compare certain images to a lady who is ever bright and smiling—that beauty which mortals share with Gods?
When he had Agamemnon in hand, he was most chary of divine similitudes, to be sure! what economy and moderation in his use of them! Let us see—eyes and head from Zeus, belt from Ares, chest from Posidon; why, he deals the man out piecemeal among the host of Heaven. Elsewhere, Agamemnon is 'like baleful Ares'; others have their heavenly models; Priam's son (a Phrygian, mark) is 'of form divine,' the son of Peleus is again and again 'a match for Gods.' But let us come back to the feminine instances You remember, of course,
—a match For Artemis or golden Aphrodite;
Like Artemis adown the mountain slope.
But he does not even limit himself to comparing the whole man to a God; Euphorbus's mere hair is called like the Graces—when it is dabbled with blood, too. In fact the practice is so universal that no branch of poetry can do without its ornaments from Heaven. Either let all these be blotted, or let me have the same licence. Moreover, illustration is so irresponsible that Homer allows himself to convey his compliments to Goddesses by using creatures inferior to them. Hera is ox-eyed. Another poet colours Aphrodite's eyes from the violet. As for fingers like the rose, it takes but little of Homer's society to bring us acquainted with them.
Still, so far we do not get beyond mere looks; a man is only called like a God. But think of the wholesale adaptation of their names, by Dionysiuses, Hephaestions, Zenos, Posidoniuses, Hermaeuses. Leto, wife of Evagoras, King of Cyprus, even dispensed with adaptation; but her divine namesake, who could have turned her into stone like Niobe, took no offence. What need to mention that the most religious race on earth, the Egyptian, never tires of divine names? most of those it uses hail from Heaven.
Consequently, there is not the smallest occasion for you to be nervous about the panegyric. If what I wrote contains anything offensive to the deity, you are not responsible, unless you consider we are responsible for all that goes in at our ears; no, I shall pay the penalty—as soon as the Gods have settled with Homer and the other poets. Ah, and they have not done so yet with the best of all philosophers [Footnote: Lucian's 'best of all philosophers' might be Plato, who is their spokesman in 'The Fisher' (see Sections 14, 22), or Epicurus, in the light of two passages in the 'Alexander' (Sections 47, 61) in which he almost declares himself an Epicurean. The exact words are not found in Plato, though several similar expressions are quoted; words of Epicurus appear to be translated in Cicero, De nat. Deorum, Book I, xviii s. f., hominis esse specie deos confitendum est: we must admit that the Gods are in the image of man.], for saying that man is a likeness of God. But now, though I could say much more, madam, I must have compassion upon Polystratus's memory, and cease.
Poly. I am not so sure I am equal to it, Lycinus, as it is. You have made it long, and exceeded your time limit. However, I will do my best. See, I scurry off with my fingers in my ears, that no alien sound may find its way in to disturb the arrangement; I do not want to be hissed by my audience.
Ly. Well, the responsibility for a correct report lies with you alone. And having now duly instructed you, I will retire for the present. But when the verdict is brought into court, I will be there to learn the result.
TOXARIS: A DIALOGUE OF FRIENDSHIP
Mne. Now, Toxaris: do you mean to tell me that you people actually sacrifice to Orestes and Pylades? do you take them for Gods?
Tox. Sacrifice to them? of course we do. It does not follow that we think they are Gods: they were good men.
Mne. And in Scythia 'good men' receive sacrifice just the same as Gods?
Tox. Not only that, but we honour them with feasts and public gatherings.
Mne. But what do you expect from them? They are shades now, so their goodwill can be no object.
Tox. Why, as to that, I think it may be just as well to have a good understanding even with shades. But that is not all: in honouring the dead we consider that we are also doing the best we can for the living. Our idea is that by preserving the memory of the noblest of mankind, we induce many people to follow their example.
Mne. Ah, there you are right. But what could you find to admire in Orestes and Pylades, that you should exalt them to godhead? They were strangers to you: strangers, did I say? they were enemies! Why, when they were shipwrecked on your coast, and your ancestors laid hands on them, and took them off to be sacrificed to Artemis, they assaulted the gaolers, overpowered the garrison, slew the king, carried off the priestess, laid impious hands on the Goddess herself, and so took ship, snapping their fingers at Scythia and her laws. If you honour men for this kind of thing, there will be plenty of people to follow their example, and you will have your hands full. You may judge for yourselves, from ancient precedent, whether it will suit you to have so many Oresteses and Pyladeses putting into your ports. It seems to me that it will soon end in your having no religion left at all: God after God will be expatriated in the same manner, and then I suppose you will supply their place by deifying their kidnappers, thus rewarding sacrilege with sacrifice. If this is not your motive in honouring Orestes and Pylades, I shall be glad to know what other service they have rendered you, that you should change your minds about them, and admit them to divine honours. Your ancestors did their best to offer them up to Artemis: you offer up victims to them. It seems an absurd inconsistency.
Tox. Now, in the first place, the incident you refer to is very much to their credit. Think of those two entering on that vast undertaking by themselves: sailing away from their country to the distant Euxine [Footnote: See Euxine in Notes.]—that sea unknown in those days to the Greeks, or known only to the Argonauts—unmoved by the stories they heard of it, undeterred by the inhospitable name it then bore, which I suppose referred to the savage nations that dwelt upon its shores; think of their courageous bearing after they were captured; how escape alone would not serve them, but they must avenge their wrong upon the king, and carry Artemis away over the seas. Are not these admirable deeds, and shall not the doers be counted as Gods by all who esteem prowess? However, this is not our motive in giving them divine honours.
Mne. Proceed. What else of godlike and sublime was in their conduct? Because from the seafaring point of view, there are any number of merchants whose divinity I will maintain against theirs: the Phoenicians, in particular, have sailed to every port in Greek and foreign waters, let alone the Euxine, the Maeotian Lake and the Bosphorus; year after year they explore every coast, only returning home at the approach of winter. Hucksters though they be for the most part, and fishmongers, you must deify them all, to be consistent.
Tox. Now, now, Mnesippus, listen to me, and you shall see how much more candid we barbarians are in our valuation of good men than you Greeks. In Argos and Mycenae there is not so much as a respectable tomb raised to Orestes and Pylades: in Scythia, they have their temple, which is very appropriately dedicated to the two friends in common, their sacrifices, and every honour. The fact of their being foreigners does not prevent us from recognizing their virtues. We do not inquire into the nationality of noble souls: we can hear without envy of the illustrious deeds of our enemies; we do justice to their merits, and count them Scythians in deed if not in name. What particularly excites our reverent admiration in the present case is the unparalleled loyalty of the two friends; in them we have a model from which every man may learn how he must share good and evil fortune with his friends, if he would enjoy the esteem of all good Scythians. The sufferings they endured with and for one another our ancestors recorded on a brazen pillar in the Oresteum; and they made it law, that the education of their children should begin with committing to memory all that is inscribed thereon. More easily shall a child forget his own father's name than be at fault in the achievements of Orestes and Pylades. Again, in the temple corridor are pictures by the artists of old, illustrating the story set forth on the pillar. Orestes is first shown on shipboard, with his friend at his side. Next, the ship has gone to pieces on the rocks; Orestes is captured and bound; already Iphigenia prepares the two victims for sacrifice. But on the opposite wall we see that Orestes has broken free; he slays Thoas and many a Scythian; and the last scene shows them sailing away, with Iphigenia and the Goddess; the Scythians clutch vainly at the receding vessel; they cling to the rudder, they strive to clamber on board; at last, utterly baffled, they swim back to the shore, wounded or terrified. It is at this point in their conflict with the Scythians that the devotion of the friends is best illustrated: the painter makes each of them disregard his own enemies, and ward off his friend's assailants, seeking to intercept the arrows before they can reach him, and counting lightly of death, if he can save his friend, and receive in his own person the wounds that are meant for the other. Such devotion, such loyal and loving partnership in danger, such true and steadfast affection, we held to be more than human; it indicated a spirit not to be found in common men. While the gale is prosperous, we all take it very much amiss if our friends will not share equally with us: but let the wind shift ever so little, and we leave them to weather the storm by themselves. I must tell you that in Scythia no quality is more highly esteemed than this of friendship; there is nothing on which a Scythian prides himself so much as on sharing the toils and dangers of his friend; just as nothing is a greater reproach among us than treachery to a friend. We honour Orestes and Pylades, then, because they excelled in the Scythian virtue of loyalty, which we place above all others; and it is for this that we have bestowed on them the name of Coraci, which in our language means spirits of friendship.
Mne. Ah, Toxaris, so archery is not the only accomplishment of the Scythians, I find; they excel in rhetorical as well as in military skill. You have persuaded me already that you were right in deifying Orestes and Pylades, though I thought differently just now. I had no conception, either, what a painter you were. Your description of the pictures in the Oresteum was most vivid;—that battle-scene, and the way in which the two intercepted one another's wounds. Only I should never have thought that the Scythians would set such a high value on friendship: they are such a wild, inhospitable race; I should have said they had more to do with anger and hatred and enmity than with friendship, even for their nearest relations, judging by what one is told; it is said, for instance, that they devour their fathers' corpses.
Tox. Well, which of the two is the more dutiful and pious in general, Greek or Scythian, we will not discuss just now: but that we are more loyal friends than you, and that we treat friendship more seriously, is easily shown. Now please do not be angry with me, in the name of all your Gods: but I am going to mention a few points I have observed during my stay in this country. I can see that you are all admirably well qualified to talk about friendship: but when it comes to putting your words into practice, there is a considerable falling off; it is enough for you to have demonstrated what an excellent thing friendship is, and somehow or other, at the critical moment, you make off, and leave your fine words to look after themselves. Similarly, when your tragedians represent this subject on the stage, you are loud in your applause; the spectacle of one friend risking his life for another generally brings tears to your eyes: but you are quite incapable of rendering any such signal services yourselves; once let your friends get into difficulties, and all those tragic reminiscences take wing like so many dreams; you are then the very image of the silent mask which the actor has thrown aside: its mouth is open to its fullest extent, but not a syllable does it utter. It is the other way with us: we are as much superior to you in the practice of friendship, as we are inferior in expounding the theory of it.
Now, what do you say to this proposal? let us leave out of the question all the cases of ancient friendship that either of us might enumerate (there you would have the advantage of me: you could produce all the poets on your side, most credible of witnesses, with their Achilles and Patroclus, their Theseus and Pirithous, and others, all celebrated in the most charming verses); and instead let each of us advance a few instances of devotion that have occurred within his own experience, among our respective countrymen; these we will relate in detail, and whoever can show the best friendships is the winner, and announces his country as victorious. Mighty issues are at stake: I for my part would rather be worsted in single combat, and lose my right hand, as the Scythian custom is, than yield to any man on the question of friendship, above all to a Greek; for am I not a Scythian?
Mne. I have got my work cut out for me, if I am to engage an old soldier like Toxaris, with a whole arsenal of keen words at his command. Well, I am not such a craven as to decline the challenge, when my country's honour is at stake. Could those two overcome the host of Scythians represented in the legend, and in the ancient pictures you have just described so impressively,—and shall Greece, her peoples and her cities, be condemned for want of one to plead her cause? Strange indeed, if that were so; I should deserve to lose not my hand like you, but my tongue. Well now, is the number of friendships to be limited, or does wealth of instances itself constitute one claim to superiority?
Tox. Oh no; number counts for nothing, that must be understood. We have the same number, and it is simply a question whether yours are better and more pointed than mine; if they are, of course, the wounds you inflict will be the more deadly, and I shall be the first to succumb.
Mne. Very well. Let us fix the number: I say five each.
Tox. Five be it, and you begin. But you must be sworn first: because the subject naturally lends itself to fictitious treatment; there is no checking anything. When you have sworn, it would be impious to doubt your word.
Mne. Very well, if you think it necessary. Have you any preference among our Gods? How would the God of Friendship meet the case?
Tox. Excellently; and when my turn comes, I will employ the national oath of the Scythians.
Mne. Zeus the God of Friendship be my witness, that all I shall now relate is derived either from my own experience, or from such careful inquiry as I was able to make of others; and is free from all imaginative additions of my own. I will begin with, the friendship of Agathocles and Dinias. The story is well known in Ionia. This Agathocles was a native of Samos, and lived not many years ago. Though his conduct showed him to be the best of friends, he was of no better family and in no better circumstances than the generality of the Samians. From boyhood he had been the friend of Dinias, the son of Lyson, an Ephesian. Dinias, it seems, was enormously wealthy, and as his wealth was newly acquired, it is not to be wondered at that he had plenty of acquaintances besides Agathocles; persons who were quite qualified to share his pleasures, and to be his boon-companions, but who were very far indeed from being friends. For some time Agathocles—little as he cared for such a life—played his convivial part with the rest, Dinias making no distinction between him and the parasites. Finally, however, he took to finding fault with his friend's conduct, and gave great offence: his continual allusions to Dinias's ancestry, and his exhortations to him to husband the fortune which had cost his father such labour to acquire, seemed to his friend to be in indifferent taste. He gave up asking Agathocles to join in his revels, contented himself with the company of his parasites, and sought to elude his friend's observation. Well, the misguided youth was presently persuaded by his flatterers that he had made a conquest of Chariclea, the wife of Demonax, an eminent Ephesian, holding the highest office in that city. He was kept well supplied with billets-doux, half-faded flowers, bitten apples, and all the stock-in-trade of those intriguing dames whose business it is to fan an artificial passion that vanity has inspired. There is no more seductive bait to young men who value themselves on their personal attractions, than the belief that they have made an impression; they are sure to fall into the trap. Chariclea was a charming little woman, but sadly wanting in reserve: any one might enjoy her favours, and on the easiest of terms; the most casual glance was sure to meet with encouragement; there was never any fear of a repulse from Chariclea. With more than professional skill, she could draw on a hesitating lover till his subjugation was complete: then, when she was sure of him, she had a variety of devices for inflaming his passion: she could storm, and she could flatter; and flattery would be succeeded by contempt, or by a feigned preference for his rival;—in short, her resources were infinite; she was armed against her lovers at every point. This was the lady whom Dinias's parasites now associated with them; they played their subordinate part well, and between them fairly hustled the boy into a passion for Chariclea. Such a finished mistress of the art of perdition, who had ruined plenty of victims before, and acted love-scenes and swallowed fine fortunes without number, was not likely to let this simple inexperienced youth out of her clutches: she struck her talons into him on every side, and secured her quarry so effectually, that she was involved in his destruction,—to say nothing of the miseries of the hapless victim. She got to work at once with the billets-doux. Her maid was for ever coming with news of tears and sleepless nights: 'her poor mistress was ready to hang herself for love.' The ingenuous youth was at length driven to conclude that his attractions were too much for the ladies of Ephesus; he yielded to the girl's entreaties, and waited upon her mistress. The rest, of course, was easy. How was he to resist this pretty woman, with her captivating manners, her well-timed tears, her parenthetic sighs? Lingering farewells, joyful welcomes, judicious airs and graces, song and lyre,—all were brought to bear upon him. Dinias was soon a lost man, over head and ears in love; and Chariclea prepared to give the finishing stroke. She informed him that he was about to become a father, which was enough in itself to inflame the amorous simpleton; and she discontinued her visits to him; her husband, she said, had discovered her passion, and was watching her. This was altogether too much for Dinias: he was inconsolable; wept, sent messages by his parasites, flung his arms about her statue—a marble one which he had had made—, shrieked forth her name in loud lamentation, and finally threw himself down upon the ground and rolled about in a positive frenzy. Her apples and her flowers drew forth presents which were on quite another scale of munificence: houses and farms, servants, exquisite fabrics, and gold to any extent. To make a long story short, the house of Lyson, which had the reputation of being the wealthiest in Ionia, was quite cleared out. No sooner was this the case, than Chariclea abandoned Dinias, and went off in pursuit of a certain golden youth of Crete, irresistible as he, and not less gullible. Deserted alike by her and by his parasites (who followed the chase of the fortunate Cretan), Dinias presented himself before Agathocles, who had long been aware of his friend's situation. He swallowed his first feelings of embarrassment, and made a clean breast of it all: his love, his ruin, his mistress's disdain, his Cretan rival; and ended by protesting that without Chariclea he could not live. Agathocles did not think it necessary to remind Dinias just then how he alone had been excluded from his friendship, and how parasites had been preferred to him: instead, he went off and sold his family residence in Samos—the only property he possessed—and brought him the proceeds, 750 pounds. Dinias had no sooner received the money, than it became evident that he had somehow recovered his good looks, in the opinion of Chariclea: once more the maid-servant and the notes, with reproaches for his long neglect; once more, too, the throng of parasites; they saw that there were still pickings to be had. Dinias arrived at her house, by agreement, at about bedtime, and was already inside, when Demonax—whether he had an understanding with his wife in the matter, as some say, or had got his information independently—sprang out from concealment, gave orders to his servants to make the door fast and to secure Dinias, and then drew his sword, breathing fire and flagellation against the paramour. Dinias, realizing his danger, caught up a heavy bar that lay near, and dispatched Demonax with a blow on the temple; then, turning to Chariclea, he dealt blow after blow with the same weapon, and finally plunged her husband's sword into her body. The domestics stood by, dumb with amazement and terror; and when at length they attempted to seize him, he rushed at them with the sword, put them to flight, and slipped away from the fatal scene. The rest of that night he and Agathocles spent at the latter's house, pondering on the deed and its probable consequences. The news soon spread, and in the morning officers came to arrest Dinias. He made no attempt to deny the murder, and was conducted into the presence of the then Prefect of Asia, who sent him up to the Emperor. He presently returned, under sentence of perpetual banishment to Gyarus, one of the Cyclades. All this time, Agathocles had never left his side: with unfaltering devotion, he accompanied him to Italy, and was the only friend who stood by him in his trial. And now even in his banishment he would not desert him, but condemned himself to share the sentence; and when the necessaries of life failed them, he hired himself out as a diver in the purple-fishery, and with the proceeds of his industry supported Dinias and tended him in his sickness till the end. Even when all was over, he would not return to his own home, but remained on the island, thinking it shame even in death to desert his friend. There you have the history of a Greek friendship, and one of recent date; I think it can scarcely be as much as five years ago that Agathocles died on Gyarus.
Tox. I wish I were at liberty to doubt the truth of your story: but alas! you speak under oath. Your Agathocles is a truly Scythian friend; I only hope there are no more of the same kind to come.
Mne. See what you think of the next—Euthydicus of Chalcidice. I heard his story from Simylus, a shipmaster of Megara, who vowed that he had been an eyewitness of what he related. He set sail from Italy about the setting of the Pleiads, bound for Athens, with a miscellaneous shipload of passengers, among whom were Euthydicus and his comrade Damon, also of Chalcidice. They were of about the same age. Euthydicus was a powerful man, in robust health; Damon was pale and weakly, and looked as if he were just recovering from a long illness. They had a good voyage as far as Sicily: but they had no sooner passed through the Straits into the Ionian Sea, than a tremendous storm overtook them. I need not detain you with descriptions of mountainous billows and whirlwinds and hail and the other adjuncts of a storm: suffice it to say, that they were compelled to take in all sail, and trail cables after them to break the force of the waves, and in this way made Zacynthus by about midnight. At this point Damon, being seasick, as was natural in such a heavy sea, was leaning over the side, when (as I suppose) an unusually violent lurch of the vessel in his direction, combining with the rush of water across the deck, hurled him headlong into the sea. The poor wretch was not even naked, or he might have had a chance of swimming: it was all he could do to keep himself above water, and get out a cry for help. Euthydicus was lying in his berth undressed. He heard the cry, flung himself into the sea, and succeeded in overtaking the exhausted Damon; and a powerful moonlight enabled those on deck to see him swimming at his side for a considerable distance, and supporting him. 'We all felt for them,' said Simylus, 'and longed to give them some assistance, but the gale was too much for us: we did, however, throw out a number of corks and spars on the chance of their getting hold of some of them, and being carried to shore; and finally we threw over the gangway, which was of some size.'—Now only think: could any man give a surer proof of affection, than by throwing himself into a furious sea like that to share the death of his friend? Picture to yourself the surging billows, the roar of crashing waters, the hissing foam, the darkness, the hopeless prospect: look at Damon,—he is at his last gasp, he barely keeps himself up, he holds out his hands imploringly to his friend: and lastly look at Euthydicus, as he leaps into the water, and swims by his side, with only one thought in his mind,—Damon must not be the first to perish;—and you will see that Euthydicus too was no bad friend.
Tox. I tremble for their fate: were they drowned, or did some miraculous providence deliver them?
Mne. Oh, they were saved all right; and they are in Athens at this day, both of them, studying philosophy. Simylus's story closes with the events of the night: Damon has fallen overboard, Euthydicus has jumped in to his rescue, and the pair are left swimming about till they are lost in the darkness. Euthydicus himself tells the rest. It seems that first they came across some pieces of cork, which helped to support them; and they managed with much ado to keep afloat, till about dawn they saw the gangway, swam up to it, clambered on, and were carried to Zacynthus without further trouble. These, I think, are passable instances of friendship; and my third is no way inferior to them, as you shall hear.
Eudamidas of Corinth, though he was himself in very narrow circumstances, had two friends who were well-to-do, Aretaeus his fellow townsman, and Charixenus of Sicyon. When Eudamidas died, he left a will behind him which I dare say would excite most people's ridicule: but what the generous Toxaris, with his respect for friendship and his ambition to secure its highest honours for his country, may think of the matter, is another question. The terms of the will—but first I should explain that Eudamidas left behind him an aged mother and a daughter of marriageable years;—the will, then, was as follows: To Aretaeus I bequeath my mother, to tend and to cherish in her old age: and to Charixenus my daughter, to give in marriage with such dowry as his circumstances will admit of: and should anything befall either of the legatees, then let his portion pass to the survivor. The reading of this will caused some merriment among the hearers, who knew of Eudamidas's poverty, but did not know anything of the friendship existing between him and his heirs. They went off much tickled at the handsome legacy that Aretaeus and Charixenus (lucky dogs!) had come in for: 'Eudamidas,' as they expressed it, 'was apparently to have a death- interest in the property of the legatees.' However, the latter had no sooner heard the will read, than they proceeded to execute the testator's intentions. Charixenus only survived Eudamidas by five days: but Aretaeus, most generous of heirs, accepted the double bequest, is supporting the aged mother at this day, and has only lately given the daughter in marriage, allowing to her and to his own daughter portions of 500 pounds each, out of his whole property of 1,250 pounds; the two marriages were arranged to take place on the same day. What do you think of him, Toxaris? This is something like friendship, is it not,—to accept such a bequest as this, and to show such respect for a friend's last wishes? May we pass this as one of my five?