Home About Network of subjects Linked subjects heatmap Book indices included Search by subject Search by reference Browse subjects Browse texts

Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database

Plutarch, Dinner Of The Seven Wise Men, 13

nanWhen this discussion had come to its end, Eumetis withdrew, accompanied by Melissa. Then Periander drank to Chilon in a big beaker, and Chilon did the same to Bias, whereupon Ardalus arose, and addressing himself to Aesop, said, Won’t you send the cup over here to us, seeing that these people are sending it to and fro to one another as though it were the beaker of Bathycles, Bathycles in his will left his beaker to the most helpful of the wise men. It was given to Thales, and he passed it on to another of the wise men, who in turn gave it to another until finally it came back to Thales again, and he dedicated it to Apollo. Cf. Diogenes Laertius, i. 28, and Plutarch, Life of Solon, chap. iv. (p. 80 E). and are not giving anybody else a chance at it ? And Aesop said, But this cup is not democratic either, since it has been resting all the time by Solon only. Thereupon Pittacus, addressing Mnesiphilus, asked why Solon did not drink, but by his testimony was discrediting the verses in which he had written Plutarch quotes these lines also in Moralia, 751 E, and Life of Solon, chap. xxxi. (p. 96 E); cf. Bergk, Poet. Lyr. Gr. ii. p. 430, Solon, No. 26. Give me the tasks of the Cyprus-born goddess and Lord Dionysus, Yea, and the Muses besides; tasks which bring cheer among men. Before the other could reply Anacharsis hastened to say, He is afraid of you, Pittacus, and that harsh law of yours in which you have decreed, If any man commit any offence when drunk, his penalty shall be double that prescribed for the sober. Pittacus’s law is often referred to; for example, Aristotle, Politics, ii. 12, 13; Nicomachean Ethics, iii. 5, 8. And Pittacus said, But you at any rate showed such insolent disregard for the law, that last year, at the house of Alcaeus’s brother, you were the first to get drunk and you demanded as a prize a wreath of victory. Cf. Athenaeus, 437 f. And why not? said Anacharsis. Prizes were offered for the man who drank the most, and I was the first’to get drunk; why should I not have demanded the reward of my victory? Else do you instruct me as to what is the aim in drinking much strong wine other than to get drunk. When Pittacus laughed at this, Aesop told the following story: A wolf seeing some shepherds in a shelter eating a sheep, came near to them and said, What an uproar you would make if I were doing that! Aesop, said Chilon, has very properly defended himself, for a few moments ago Supra, 150 B. he had his mouth stopped by us, and now, later, he sees that others have taken the words out of Mnesiphilus’s mouth; for it was Mnesiphilus who was asked for a rejoinder in defence of Solon. And I speak, said Mnesiphilus, with full knowledge that it is Solon’s opinion that the task of every art and faculty, both human and divine, is the thing that is produced rather than the means employed in its production, and the end itself rather than the means that contribute to that end. For a weaver, I imagine, would hold that his task was a cloak or a mantle rather than the arrangement of shuttle-rods or the hanging of loom weights; and so a smith would regard the welding of iron or the tempering of an axe rather than any one of the things that have to be done for this purpose, such as blowing up the fire or getting ready a flux. Even more would an architect find fault with us, if we should declare that his task is not a temple or a house, but to bore timbers and mix mortar. And the Muses would most assuredly feel aggrieved, if we should regard as their task a lyre or flutes, and not the development of the characters and the soothing of the emotions of those who make use of songs and melodies. And so again the task of Aphrodite is not carnal intercourse, nor is that of Dionysus strong drink and wine, but rather the friendly feeling, the longing, the association, and the intimacy, one with another, which they create in us through these agencies. These are what Solon calls tasks divine, and these he says he loves and pursues above all else, now that he has become an old man. And Aphrodite is the artisan who creates concord and friendship between men and women, for through their bodies, under the influence of pleasure, she at the same time unites and welds together their souls. Cf. Moralia, 769 A. And in the case of the majority of people, who are not altogether intimate or too well known to one another, Dionysus softens and relaxes their characters with wine, as in a fire, and so provides some means for beginning a union and friendship with one another. However, when such men as you, whom Periander has invited here, come together, I think there is nothing for the wine-cup or ladle to accomplish, but the Muses set discourse in the midst before all, a non-intoxicating bowl as it were, containing a maximum of pleasure in jest and seriousness combined; and with this they awaken and foster and dispense friendliness, allowing the ladle, for the most part, to lie untouched atop of the bowl —a thing which Hesiod Works and Days, 744. would prohibit in a company of men better able to drink than to converse. As a matter of fact, he continued, as nearly as I can make out, among the men of olden time the practice of drinking healths was not in vogue, since each man drank one goblet, as Homer Homer, Il. iv. 262. has said, that is a measured quantity, and later, like Ajax, Plutarch seems to have made a natural slip in referring this to Ajax, when, in fact, Homer records this of Odysseus ( Od. viii. 475); Ajax, of course, was the great eater, as witness Il. vii. 321, where Agamemnon favours Ajax with the sirloin and tenderloin entire. Cf. also Athenaeus, 14 a. shared a portion with his neighbour. When Mnesiphilus had said this, Chersias the poet From Orchomenos in Boeotia; he is known only from this essay and Pausanias, ix. 38, 9-10, where two lines of his (?) are quoted. (having been already absolved from the charge against him, and recently reconciled with Periander at Chilon’s solicitation) said, Is it to be inferred, then, that Zeus used to pour out the drink for the gods also in measured quantity, as Agamemnon did for his nobles, when the gods, dining with Zeus, drank to one another? And Cleodorus said, But, Chersias, if certain doves Homer, Od. xii. 62. bring to Zeus his ambrosia, as you poets say, and with great difficulty hardly manage to fly over the clashing rocks, do you not believe that his nectar is hard for him to get and scarce, so that he is sparing of it, and doles it out charily to each god?

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

None available

Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
lamprias Cosgrove, Music at Social Meals in Greek and Roman Antiquity: From the Archaic Period to the Age of Augustine (2022) 356
plutarch, on social bonding at symposia Cosgrove, Music at Social Meals in Greek and Roman Antiquity: From the Archaic Period to the Age of Augustine (2022) 356
plutarch, the banquet of the seven wise men, social bonding Cosgrove, Music at Social Meals in Greek and Roman Antiquity: From the Archaic Period to the Age of Augustine (2022) 356
social bonding' Cosgrove, Music at Social Meals in Greek and Roman Antiquity: From the Archaic Period to the Age of Augustine (2022) 356
theon Cosgrove, Music at Social Meals in Greek and Roman Antiquity: From the Archaic Period to the Age of Augustine (2022) 356