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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



4458
Dio Chrysostom, Orations, 53.8


nan For in what respect is it a greater feat to cast a spell upon stones and trees and wild beasts and to make them follow than to have mastered so completely men of alien race who do not understand the Hellenic speech, men who have acquaintance with neither the poet's tongue nor the deeds of which his poem tells, but are, as I believe, simply enchanted by a lyre? Moreover, I believe that many barbarians who are still more ignorant than those men of India have heard of the name of Homer, if nothing more, though they have no clear notion what it signifies, whether animal or vegetable or something else still. <


Intertexts (texts cited often on the same page as the searched text):

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1. Dio Chrysostom, Orations, 2.64, 3.37, 6.16, 7.66, 7.134, 9.12, 11.51, 11.62-11.63, 12.11, 12.53, 12.59-12.61, 20.20, 21.6, 25.9, 32.35, 32.56, 32.94, 33.19-33.23, 33.41-33.42, 36.4-36.5, 36.8-36.9, 36.15, 36.24-36.25, 36.43, 38.8, 38.33, 47.10, 47.13, 48.5, 49.9, 80.3 (1st cent. CE

6.16.  That for which men gave themselves the most trouble and spent the most money, which caused the razing of many cities and the piti­ful destruction of many nations — this he found the least laborious and most inexpensive of all things to procure. 9.12.  but more difficult in every way — I mean poverty, exile, and disrepute; yes, and anger, pain, desire, fear, and the most redoubtable beast of all, treacherous and cowardly, I mean pleasure, which no Greek or barbarian can claim he fights and conquers by the strength of his soul, but all alike have succumbed to her and have failed in this contest — Persians, Medes, Syrians, Macedonians, Athenians, Lacedaemonians — all, that is, save myself. 12.53.  For you see that the issue is no small one, nor the danger, for us. Since in times past, because we had no clear knowledge, we formed each his different idea, and each person, according to his capacity and nature, conceived a likeness for every divine manifestation and fashioned such likenesses in his dreams; and if we do perchance collect any small and insignificant likenesses made by the earlier artists, we do not trust them very much nor pay them very much attention. But you by the power of your art first conquered and united Hellas and then all others by means of this wondrous presentment, showing forth so marvellous and dazzling a conception, that none of those who have beheld it could any longer easily form a different one. 32.35.  But to take just that topic which I mentioned in the beginning, see how important it is. For how you dine in private, how you sleep, how you manage your household, these are matters in which as individuals you are not at all conspicuous; on the other hand, how you behave as spectators and what you are like in the theatre are matters of common knowledge among Greeks and barbarians alike. For your city is vastly superior in point of size and situation, and it is admittedly ranked second among all cities beneath the sun. 32.94.  Just as in the case of comedies and revues when the poets bring upon the scene a drunken Carion or a Davus, they do not arouse much laughter, yet the sight of a Heracles in that condition does seem comical, a Heracles who staggers and, as usually portrayed, is clad in womanish saffron; in much the same way also, if a populace of such size as yours warbles all through life or, it may be, plays charioteer without the horses, it becomes a disgrace and a laughing stock. Indeed this is precisely what Euripides says befell Heracles in his madness: Then striding to a car he thought was there, He stepped within its rails and dealt a blow, As if he held the goad within his hand. 33.41.  well then, suppose that a man were to judge you too by the sound that came to him from a distance, what kind of men would he guess you were and what your occupation? For you haven't the capacity for tending either cattle or sheep! And would any one call you colonists from Argos, as you claim to be, or more likely colonists of those abominable Aradians? Would he call you Greeks, or the most licentious of Phoenicians? I believe it is more appropriate for a man of sense to plug his ears with wax in a city like yours than if he chanced to be sailing past the Sirens. For there one faced the risk of death, but here it is licentiousness, insolence, the most extreme corruption that threatens. 36.4.  The city of Borysthenes, as to its size, does not correspond to its ancient fame, because of its ever-repeated seizure and its wars. For since the city has lain in the midst of barbarians now for so long a time — barbarians, too, who are virtually the most warlike of all — it is always in a state of war and has often been captured, the last and most disastrous capture occurring not more than one hundred and fifty years ago. And the Getae on that occasion seized not only Borysthenes but also the other cities along the left shore of Pontus as far as Apollonia. 36.5.  For that reason the fortunes of the Greeks in that region reached a very low ebb indeed, some of them being no longer united to form cities, while others enjoyed but a wretched existence as communities, and it was mostly barbarians who flocked to them. Indeed many cities have been captured in many parts of Greece, inasmuch as Greece lies scattered in many regions. But after Borysthenes had been taken on the occasion mentioned, its people once more formed a community, with the consent of the Scythians, I imagine, because of their need for traffic with the Greeks who might use that port. For the Greeks had stopped sailing to Borysthenes when the city was laid waste, inasmuch as they had no people of common speech to receive them, and the Scythians themselves had neither the ambition nor the knowledge to equip a trading-centre of their own after the Greek manner. 36.8.  Callistratus was about eighteen years of age, very tall and handsome, having much of the Ionian in his appearance. And it was said also that in matters pertaining to warfare he was a man of courage, and that many of the Sauromatians he had either slain or taken captive. He had become interested also in oratory and philosophy, so that he had his heart set on sailing away in my company. For all these reasons, then, he was in high repute with his fellow-townsmen, and not least of all because of his beauty, and he had many lovers. For this practice has continued among them as a heritage from the city of their origin — I refer to the love of man for man — so much so that they are likely to make converts of some of the barbarians, for no good end, I dare say, but rather as those people would adopt such a practice, that is to say, like barbarians and not without licentiousness. 36.9.  Knowing, then, that Callistratus was fond of Homer, I immediately began to question him about the poet. And practically all the people of Borysthenes also have cultivated an interest in Homer, possibly because of their still being a warlike people, although it may also be due to their regard for Achilles, for they honour him exceedingly, and they have actually established two temples for his worship, one on the island that bears his name and one in their city; and so they do not wish even to hear about any other poet than Homer. And although in general they no longer speak Greek distinctly, because they live in the midst of barbarians, still almost all at least know the Iliad by heart. 36.15.  But now we might well consider the case of Phocylides, since in my opinion he speaks very nobly regarding the city." "Pray do so," said he, "since you can see that all these men now present are just as eager as I am to listen to you, and that for that very reason they have streamed together here beside the river, although in no very tranquil state of mind. For of course you know that yesterday the Scythians made a raid at noon and put to death some of the outposts who were not on their guard, and in all likelihood took others captive; for we do not yet know definitely about that, because their rout took them some distance away; for their flight was not toward the city. 36.24.  Well then, I was launching forth upon that general line in my discussion, when one of those who were present, the eldest in the company and held in high esteem, spoke up, interrupting me, and in a very guarded manner said, "Stranger, pray do not think it boorish or barbarous of me to intervene in the midst of your discourse. For while in your country such conduct is not good manners, because of the great abundance of philosophical discussions and because one may listen to many men upon any topic he may desire, in ours this visit of yours to our city seems almost a miraculous event. 36.25.  As a usual thing those who come here are nominally Greeks but actually more barbarous than ourselves, traders and market-men, fellows who import cheap rags and vile wine and export in exchange products of no better quality. But you would appear to have been sent to us by Achilles himself from his holy isle, and we are very glad to see you and very glad also to listen to whatever you have to say. However, we do not believe that this visit of yours is to be of very long duration, nor do we desire it to be, but rather that you may have a prosperous voyage home as speedily as possible. 36.43.  "What follows regarding the horses and their driving I really am ashamed to tell in the manner in which the Magi set it forth in their narrative, since they are not very much concerned to secure consistency at all points in their presentation of the picture. In fact, quite possibly I may appear absurd when, in contrast with Greek lays of grace and charm, I chant one that is barbarian; but still I must make the venture. "According to the Magi, that one of the horses which is the highest in the heavens is immeasurably superior in beauty, size, and speed, since it has the outside track and runs the longest course, a horse sacred to Zeus himself. Furthermore, it is a winged creature, brilliant in colour with the brilliance of the purest flame; and in it Helius and Selenê are to be seen as conspicuous signs or marks — like, I fancy, the marks which horses bear here on earth, some crescent-shaped and some of other patterns. 38.33.  But you must also strive to give the provincial governors occasion to respect you, by continually making it manifest that you are not content with merely being well governed yourselves, but that you are concerned for the welfare of the whole Bithynian people, and that you are no less displeased over the wrongs inflicted upon the others than you are over those inflicted upon yourselves; moreover, that if any persons flee to you for succour, you aid them promptly and impartially. This line of conduct is what will yield you that primacy which is genuine, and not your squabble with Nicaeans over titles. 47.10.  But when some persons, exiles and homeless as they were, were actually annoyed by the prospect of having a fatherland and enjoying constitutional government in independence, but preferred to be scattered in villages like barbarians rather than to have the form and name of a city, would it be proper, I ask you, to feel surprise no matter what else annoys certain persons? Accordingly, just as Aristotle has written in his letter as one who has become sick and tired of his troubles — for he says he is holding up his fingers — you may consider that I too am holding up my own fingers, as well as any other fingers there are. 48.5.  Then what you do not tolerate from the lips of others will you yourselves say against yourselves? If ever a quarrel arises and your adversaries taunt you with having wicked citizens, with dissension, are you not put to shame? As for myself, I swear to you by all the gods, I was indeed violently angry when a certain person said to me, "Bring reconciliation to the city," and I was vexed with him. For may I never see the day when you need reconciliation, but, as the saying goes, may such things be diverted to the heads of our enemies, that is, to the accursed Getae, but not to any others, members of our own race. 80.3.  As for myself, however, I regard it as a splendid and blessed state of being, if in the midst of slaves one can be a free man and in the midst of subjects be independent. To attain this state many wars were waged by the Lydians against the Phrygians and by the Phrygians against the Lydians, and many, too, by both Ionians and Dorians and, in fact, by all peoples, yet no one has ever, because he was enamoured of independence in the spiritual sense, undertaken to use his own personal laws; instead they all wrangle over the laws of Solon and Draco and Numa and Zaleucus, bent on following the one code but not the other, though, on the other hand, not even one of these law-givers had framed the sort of laws he should. Why, Solon himself, according to report, declared that he was proposing for the Athenians, not what satisfied himself, but rather what he assumed they would accept.


Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
bactria Hunter, The Measure of Homer: The Ancient Reception of the Iliad (2018) 22
barbaroi, vs.greeks' Fleury and Schmidt, Perceptions of the Second Sophistic and Its Times - Regards sur la Seconde Sophistique et son époque(2010) 108
barbaroi Fleury and Schmidt, Perceptions of the Second Sophistic and Its Times - Regards sur la Seconde Sophistique et son époque(2010) 108
bithynia (roman province) Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 104
cicero Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 104
darius Fleury and Schmidt, Perceptions of the Second Sophistic and Its Times - Regards sur la Seconde Sophistique et son époque(2010) 108
dio chrysostomus Fleury and Schmidt, Perceptions of the Second Sophistic and Its Times - Regards sur la Seconde Sophistique et son époque(2010) 108
dion of prousa Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 104
epicureanism, epigrams, homer in Hunter, The Measure of Homer: The Ancient Reception of the Iliad (2018) 22
graeci Fleury and Schmidt, Perceptions of the Second Sophistic and Its Times - Regards sur la Seconde Sophistique et son époque(2010) 108
greek/barbarian division Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 104
humankind, unity of Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 104
oikeiosis Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 104
panaitios of rhodes Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 104
plutarchus Fleury and Schmidt, Perceptions of the Second Sophistic and Its Times - Regards sur la Seconde Sophistique et son époque(2010) 108
sardanapalus Fleury and Schmidt, Perceptions of the Second Sophistic and Its Times - Regards sur la Seconde Sophistique et son époque(2010) 108
xerxes Fleury and Schmidt, Perceptions of the Second Sophistic and Its Times - Regards sur la Seconde Sophistique et son époque(2010) 108