PARTHENIUS OF NICAEA was a Greek grammarian and poet who flourished in Rome in the C1st BC. He was the Greek tutor of the poet Virgil. Parthenius' only surviving work is a collection of Love Stories (Erotica Pathemata), sourced from a variety of Classical and Hellenistic Greek writers. Some are myth-themed, while others are historical or pseudo-historical tales.
Longus, Daphnis and Chloe. Parthenius, Love Romances. Translated by Edmonds, J M and Gaselee, S. Loeb Classical Library Volume 69. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press. 1916.
This Loeb volume is still in print and available new from Amazon.com (click on image right for details). In addition to the translation of Parthenius' Love Romances, the book also contains fragments of the poet's lost works, the poem Daphnis and Chloe by Longus, the Alexandrian Erotic Fragment, the Ninus Romance, source Greek texts, the translators' introduction and footnotes and an index of proper names.
LOVE ROMANCES, TRANSLATED BY S. GASELEE
PARTHENIUS TO CORNELIUS GALLUS, GREETING
I thought, my dear Cornelius Gallus, that to you above all men there would be something particularly agreeable in this collection of romances of love, and I have put them together and set them out in the shortest possible form. The stories, as they are found in the poets who treat this class of subject, are not usually related with sufficient simplicity; I hope that, in the way I have treated them, you will ahve the summary of each: and you will thus have at hand a storehouse from which to draw material, as may seem best to you, for either epic or elegiac verse. I am sure that you will not think the worse of them because they have not that polish of which you are yourself such a master: I have only put them together as aids to memory, and that is the sole purpose for which they are meant to be of service to you.
I. THE STORY OF LYRCUS
From the Lyrcus of Nicaenetus1 and the Caunus2 of Apollonius Rhodius
When Io, daughter of King Inachus of Argos, had been captured by brigands, her father Inachus sent several men to search for her and attempt to find her. One of these was Lyrcus the son of Phoroneus, who covered a vast deal of land and sea without finding the girl, and finally renounced the toilsome quest: but he was too much afraid of Inachus to return to Argos, and went instead to Caunus, where he married Hilebia, daughter of King Aegialus, who, as the story goes, had fallen in love with Lyrcus as soon as she saw him, and by her instant prayers had persuaded her father to betroth her to him; he gave him as dowry a good share of the realm and of the rest of the regal attributes, and accepted him as his son-in-law. So a considerable period of time passed, but Lyrcus and his wife had no children: and accordingly he made a journey to the oracle at Didyma,3 to ask how he might obtain offspring; and the answer was , that he would beget a child upon the first woman with whom he should have to do after leaving the shrine. At this he was mighty pleased, and began to hasten on his homeward journey back to his wife, sure that the prediction was going to be fulfilled according to his wish; but on his voyage, when he arrived at Bybastus,4 he was entertained by Staphylus, the son of Dionysus, who received him in the most friendly manner and enticed him to much drinking of wine, and then, when his senses were dulled with drunkenness, united him with his own daughter Hemithea, having had previous intimation of what the sentence of the oracle had been, and desiring to have descendants born to her: but actually a bitter strife arose between Rhoeo and Hemithea, the two daughters of Staphylus, as to which should have the guest, for a great desire for him had arisen in the breasts of both of them. On the next morning Lyrcus discovered the trap that his host had laid for him, when he saw Hemithea by his side: he was exceedingly angry, and upbraided Staphylus violently for his treacherous conduct; but finally, seeing that there was nothing to be done, he took off his belt and gave it to the girl, bidding her to keep it until their future offspring had come to man’s estate, so that he might possess a token by which he might be recognized, if he should ever come to his father at Caunus: and so he sailed away home. Aegialus, however, when he heard the whole story about the oracle and about Hemithea, banished him from his country; and there was then a war of great length between the partisans of Lyrcus and those of Aegialus: Hilebia was on the side of the former, for she refused to repudiate her husband. In after years the son of Lyrcus and Hemithea, whose name was Basilus, came, when he was a grown man, to the Caunian land; and Lyrcus, now an old man, recognized him as his son, and made him ruler over his peoples.
1. A little-known Alexandrine poet, whose works are not now extant.
2. No longer extant. In addition to the Argonautica, which we possess, Apollonius Rhodius wrote several epics describing the history of various towns and countries in which he lived at different times. The same work is called the Kaunon ktisis in the title of No. XI.
3. Lit. “to the temple of Apollo at Didyma,” an old town south of Miletus, famous for its oracle.
4. Also called Bubasus, an old town in Caria.
II. THE STORY OF POLYMELA
From the Hermes of Philetas5
While Ulysses was on his wanderings round about Sicily, in the Etruscan and Sicilian seas, he arrived at the island of Meligunis, where King Aeolus made much of him because of the great admiration he had for him by reason of his famous wisdom: he inquired of him about the capture of Troy and how the ships of the returning heroes were scattered, and he entertained him well and kept him with him for a long time. Now, as it fell out, this stay was most agreeable to Ulysses, for he had fallen in love with Polymela, one of Aeolus’s daughters, and was engaged in a secret intrigue with her. But after Ulysses had gone off with the winds shut up in a bag, the girl was found jealously guarding some stuffs from among the Trojan spoils which he had given her, and rolling among them with bitter tears. Aeolus reviled Ulysses bitterly although he was away, and had the intention of exacting vengeance upon Polymela; however, her brother Diores was in love with her, and both begged her off her punishment and persuaded his father to give her to him as his wife.6
5. An elegiac poet of Cos, a little later than Callimachus. We do not now posses his works.
6. See Odyssey x. 7. Aeolus had six sons and six daughters, all of whom he married to each other.
III. THE STORY OF EVIPPE
From the Euryalus7 of Sophocles
Aeolus was not the only one of his hosts to whom Ulysses did wrong: but even after his wanderings were over and he had slain Penelope’s wooers, he went to Epirus to consult an oracle,8 and there seduced Evippe, the daughter of Tyrimmas, who had received him kindly and was entertaining him with great cordiality; the fruit of this union was Euryalus. When he came to man’s estate, his mother sent him to Ithaca, first giving him certain tokens, by which his father would recognize him, sealed up in a tablet. Ulysses happened to be from home, and Penelope, having learned the whole story (she had previously been aware of his love for Evippe), persuaded him, before he knew the facts of the case, to kill Euryalus, on the pretence that he was engaged in a plot against him. So Ulysses, as a punishment for his incontinence and general lack of moderation, became the murderer of his own son; and not very long after this met his end after being wounded by his own offspring9 with a sea-fish’s10 prickle.
7. No longer extant.
8. Just possibly “by the command of an oracle.”
10. According to the dictionaries, a kind of roach with a spike in its tail.
IV. THE STORY OF OENONE
From the Book of Poets of Nicander11 and the Trojan History of Cephalon12 of Gergitha
When Alexander,13 Priam’s son, was tending his flocks on Mount Ida, he fell in love with Oenone the daughter of Cebren14: and the story is that she was possessed by some divinity and foretold the future, and generally obtained great renown for her understanding and wisdom. Alexander took her away from her father to Ida, where his pasturage was, and lived with her there as his wife, and he was so much in love with her that he would swear to her that he would never desert her, but would rather advance her to the greatest honour. She however said that she could tell that for the moment indeed he was wholly in love with her, but that the time would come when he would cross over to Europe, and would there, by his infatuation for a foreign woman, bring the horrors of war upon his kindred. She also foretold that he must be wounded in the war, and that there would be nobody else, except herself, who would be able to cure him: but he used always to stop her, every time that she made mention of these matters.
Time went on, and Alexander took Helen to wife: Oenone took his conduct exceedingly ill, and returned to Cebren, the author of her days: then, when the war came on, Alexander was badly wounded by an arrow from the bow of Philoctetes. He then remembered Oenone’s words, how he could be cured by her alone, and he sent a messenger to her to ask her to hasten to him and heal him, and to forget all the past, on the ground that is had all happened through the will of the gods. She returned him a haughty answer, telling him he had better go to Helen and ask her; but all the same she started off as fast as she might to the place where she had been told he was lying sick. However, the messenger reached Alexander first, and told him Oenone’s reply, and upon this he gave up all hope and breathed his last: and Oenone, when she arrived and found him lying on the ground already dead, raised a great cry and, after long and bitter mourning, put an end to herself.15
11. A poet of Colophon in the second century B.C.
12. Also called Cephalion (Athenaeus 393 D) of Gergitha or Gergis. For further particulars see Pauly-Wissowa, s.v. Hegesianax. Neither of these works is now extant.
13. More usually called Paris.
14. A river-god of the Troad.
15. For what may be regarded as a continuation of this story see No. XXXIV.
V. THE STORY OF LEUCIPPUS
From the Leontium of Hermesianax16
Now Leucippus the son of Xanthius, a descendant of Bellerophon, far outshone his contemporaries in strength and warlike valour. Consequently he was only too well known among the Lycians and their neighbours, who were constantly being plundered and suffering all kinds of ill treatment at his hands. Through the wrath of Aphrodite he fell in love with his own sister: at first he held out, thinking that he would easily be rid of his trouble; but when time went on and his passion did not abate at all, he told his mother of it, and implored her earnestly not to stand by and see him perish; for he threatened that, if she would not help him, he would kill himself. She promised immediately that she would help him to the fulfillment of his desires, and he as at once much relieved: she summoned the maiden to her presence and united her to her brother, and they consorted thenceforward without fear of anybody, until someone informed the girl’s intended spouse, who was indeed already betrothed to her. But he, taking with him his father and certain of his kinsfolk, went to Xanthius and informed him of the matter, concealing the name of Leucippus. Xanthius was greatly troubled at the news, and exerted all his powers to catch his daughter’s seducer, and straitly charged the informer to let him know directly he saw the guilty pair together. The informer gladly obeyed these instructions, and had actually led the father to her chamber, when the girl jumped up at the sudden noise they made, and tried to escape by the door, hoping so to avoid being caught by whoever was coming: her father, thinking that she was the seducer, struck her with his dagger and brought her to the ground. She cried out, being in great pain; Leucippus ran to her rescue, and, in the confusion of the moment not recognizing his adversary, gave his father his deathblow. For this crime he had to leave his home: he put himself at the head of a party of Thessalians who had united to invade Crete, and after being driven thence by the inhabitants of the island, repaired to the country near Ephesus, where he colonized a tract of land which gained the name Cretinaeum. It is further told of Leucippus that, by the advice of an oracle, he was chosen as leader by a colony of one in ten17 sent out from Pherae by Admetus,18 and that when he was besieging a city, Leucophrye the daughter of Mandrolytus fell in love with him, and betrayed the town to her father’s enemies.
16. An elegiac poet of Colophon, a younger contemporary of Philetas. We possess little of his works except a single long extract given by Athenaeus 597-599.
17. A remedy for over-population. One man in ten was sent out to found a colony elsewhere.
18. The husband of the famous Alcestis.
VI. THE STORY OF PALLENE
From Theagenes19 and the Palleniaca of Hegesippus20
The story is told that Pallene was the daughter of Sithon, king of the Odomanti,21 and was so beautiful and charming that the fame of her went far abroad, and she was sought in marriage by wooers not only from Thrace, but from still more distant parts, such as from Illyria and those that lived on the banks of the river Tanais. At first Sithon challenged all who came to woo her to fight with him for the girl, with the penalty of death in case of defeat, and in this manner caused the destruction of a considerable number. But later on, when his vigour began to fail him, he realized that he must find her a husband, and when two suitors came, Dryas and Clitus, he arranged that they should fight one another with the girl as the prize of victory; the vanquished was to be killed, while the survivor was to have both her and the kingship. When the day appointed for the battle arrived, Pallene (who had fallen deeply in love with Clitus) was terribly afraid for him: she dared not tell what she felt to any of her companions, but tears coursed down and down over her cheeks until her old tutor22 realized the state of affairs, and, after he had become aware of her passion, encouraged her to be of good cheer, as all would come about according to her desires: and he went off and suborned the chariot-driver of Dryas, inducing him, by the promise of a heavy bribe, to leave undone the pins of his chariot-wheels. In due course the combatants came out to fight: Dryas charged Clitus, but the wheels of his chariot came off, and Clitus ran upon him as he fell and put an end to him. Sithon came to know of his daughter’s love and of the stratagem that had been employed; and he constructed a huge pyre, and, setting the body of Dryas upon it, proposed to slay Pallene at the same time23; but a heaven-sent prodigy occurred, a tremendous shower bursting suddenly from the sky, so that he altered his intention and, deciding to give pleasure by the celebration of marriage to the great concourse of Thracians who were there, allowed Clitus to take the girl to wife.
19. An early logographer and grammarian. This story may well come from the Makedonika we know him to have written.
20. Of Mecyberna, probably in the third century B.C. For a full discussion of his work and date see Pauly-Wissowa, s.v.
21. A people living on the lower Strymon in north-eastern Macedonia.
22. Literally a male nurse. Cf. Weigall’s Cleopatra (1914), p. 104. We have no exact equivalent in English.
23. Presumably as an offering to the shade of Dryas, for whose death Pallene had been responsible.
VII. THE STORY OF HIPPARINUS
From Phanias24 of Eresus25
In the Italian city of Heracles there lived a boy of surpassing beauty – Hipparinus was his name – and of noble parentage. Hipparinus was greatly beloved by one Antileon, who tried very means but could never get him to look kindly upon him. He was always by the lad’s side in the wrestling-schools, and he said that he loved him so dearly that he would undertake any labour for him, and if he cared to give him any command, he should not come short of its fulfillment in the slightest degree. Hipparinus, not intending his words to be taken seriously, bade him bring away the bell from a strong-room over which a very close guard was kept by the tyrant of Heraclea, imagining that Antileon would never be able to perform this task. But Antileon privily entered the castle, surprised and killed the warder, and then returned to the boy after fulfilling his behest. This raised him greatly in his affections, and from that time forward they lived in the closest bonds of mutual love. Later on the tyrant himself was greatly struck by the boy’s beauty, and seemed likely to take him by force. At this Antileon was greatly enraged; he urged Hipparinus not to endanger his life by a refusal, and then, watching for the moment when the tyrant was leaving his palace, sprang upon him and killed him. As soon as he had done the deed, he fled, running; and he would have made good his escape if he had not fallen into the midst of a flock of sheep tied together, and so been caught and killed. When the city regained its ancient constitution, the people of Heraclea set up bronze statues to both of them,26 and a law was passed that in future no one should drive sheep tied together.
24. A Peripatetic philosopher, perhaps a pupil of Aristotle. Athenaeus tells us that he wrote a book on "how tyrants meet their ends,” from which this story is doubtless taken.
25. In Lesbos.
26. The whole story is a close parallel to that of the end of Pisistratid rule in Athens brought about by Harmodius and Aristogiton.
VIII. THE STORY OF HERIPPE
From the first book of the Stories of Aristodemus27 of Nysa: but he there alters the names, calling the woman Euthymia instead of Herippe, and giving the barbarian the name Cavaras28
During the invasion of Ionia by the Gauls29 and the devastation by them of the Ionian cities, it happened that on one occasion at Miletus, the feast of the Thesmophoria30 was taking place, and the women of the city were congregated in temple a little way outside the town. At that time a part of the barbarian army had become separated from the main body and had entered the territory of Miletus; and there, by a sudden raid, it carried off the women. Some of them were ransomed for large sums of silver and gold, but there were others to whom the barbarians became closely attached, and these were carried away: among these latter was one Herippe, the wife of Xanthus, a man of high repute and of noble birth among the men of Miletus, and she left behind her a child two years old.
Xanthus felt her loss so deeply that he turned part of his best possessions into money and, furnished with two thousand pieces of gold, first crossed to Italy: he was there furthered by private friends and went on to Marseilles, and thence into the country of the Celts; and finally, reaching the house where Herippe lived as the wife of one of the chief men of that nation, he asked to be taken in. The Celts received him with the utmost hospitality: on entering the house he saw his wife, and she, flinging her arms about his neck, welcomed him with all the marks of affection. Immediately the Celt appeared, Herippe related to him her husband’s journeyings, and how he had come to pay a ransom for her. He was delighted at the devotion of Xanthus, and, calling together his nearest relations to a banquet, entertained him warmly; and when they had drunk deep, placed his wife by his side, and asked him through an interpreter how great was his whole fortune. “It amounts to a thousand pieces of gold,” said Xanthus; and the barbarian then bade him divide it into four parts – one each for himself, his wife, and his child, and the fourth to be left for the woman’s ransom.
After he had retired to his chamber, Herippe upbraided Xanthus vehemently for promising the barbarian this great sum of money which he did not possess, and told him that he would be in a position of extreme jeopardy if he did not fulfil his promise: to which Xanthus replied that he even had another thousand gold pieces which had been hidden in the soles of his servants’ boots, seeing that he could scarcely have hoped to find so reasonable a barbarian, and would have been likely to need an enormous ransom for her. The next day she went to the Celt and informed him of the amount of money which Xanthus had in his possession, advising him to put him to death: she added that she preferred him, the Celt, far above both her native country and her child, and, as for Xanthus, that she utterly abhorred him. Her tale was far from pleasing to the Celt, and he decided to punish her: and so, when Xanthus was anxious to be going, he most amiably accompanied him for the first part of his journey, taking Herippe with them; and when they arrived at the limit of the Celts’ territory, he announced that he wished to perform a sacrifice before they separated from one another. The victim was brought up, and he bade Herippe hold it: she did so, as she had been accustomed to do on previous occasions, and he then drew his sword, struck with it, and cut off her head. He then explained her treachery to Xanthus, telling him not to take in bad part what he had done, and gave him all the money to take away with him.
27. A grammarian and rhetorician, who paid a visit of some length to Rome, and died about 50-40 B.C. The title given to his work by Parthenius (historiai peri toutôn) is ambiguous but it appears that he must have collected a series of love-stories not unlike those of Parthenius’ own.
28. This may be a gentile name. The Cavares were a people of Gallia Narbonensis.
29. About B.C. 275.
30. A festival, celebrated by women, in honour of Demeter and Persephone.
IX. THE STORY OF POLYCRITE 31
From the first book of the Naxiaca of Andriscus32; and the story is also related by Theophrastus33 in the fourth book of his Political History.
Once the men of Miletus made an expedition against the Naxians with strong allies; they built a wall round their city, ravaged by their country, and blockaded them fast. By the providence of some god, a maiden named Polycrite had been left in the temple of the Delian goddess34 near the city: and she captured by her beauty the love of Diognetus, the leader of the Erythraeans, who was fighting on the side of the Milesians at the head of his own forces. Constrained by the strength of his desire, he kept sending messages to her (for it would have been impiety to ravish her by force in the very shrine); at first she would not listen to his envoys, but when she saw his persistence she said that she would never consent unless he swore to accomplish whatever wish she might express. Diognetus had no suspicion of what she was going to exact, and eagerly swore by Artemis that he would perform her every behest: and after he had taken the oath, Polycrite seized his hand and claimed that he should betray the blockade, beseeching him vehemently to take pity upon her and the sorrows of her country. When Diognetus heard her request, he became quite beside himself, and, drawing his sword, was near putting an end to her. But when, however, he came to ponder upon her patriotism, being at the same time mastered by his passion, – for it was appointed, it seems, that the Naxians should be relieved of the troubles that beset them – for the moment he returned no answer, taking time to consider his course of action, and on the morrow consented to the betrayal.
Meanwhile, three days later, came the Milesians’ celebration of the Thargelia35 – a time when they indulge in a deal of strong wine and make merry with very little regard to the cost; and he decided to take advantage of his for the occasion of his treachery. He then and there enclosed a letter, written on a tablet of lead, in a loaf of bread, and sent it to Polycrite’s brothers, who chanced to be the citizens’ generals, in which he bade them get ready and join him that very night; and he said that he would give them the necessary direction by holding up a light: and Polycrite instructed the bearer of the loaf to tell her brothers not to hesitate; for if they acted without hesitation the business would be brought to a successful end. When the messenger had arrived in the city, Polycles, Polycrite’s brother, was in the deepest anxiety as to whether he should obey the message or no: finally universal opinion was on the side of action and the night-time came on, when they were bidden to make the sally in force. So, after much prayer to the gods, they joined Diognetus’ company and then made an attack on the Milesians’ blockading wall, some through a gate left open for them and others by scaling the wall; and then, when once through, joined together again and inflicted terrible slaughter upon the Milesians, and in the fray Diognetus was accidentally killed. On the following day all the Naxians were most desirous of doing honour to the girl: but they pressed on her such a quantity of head-dresses and girdles that she was overcome by the weight and quantity of the offerings, and so was suffocated. They gave her a funeral in the open country, sacrificing a hundred sheep to her shade: and some say that, at the Naxians’ particular desire, the body of Diognetus was burnt upon the same pyre as that of the maiden.
31. The story is somewhat differently told by Plutarch in No. 17 of his treatise On the Virtues of Women: he makes Polycrite a captive in the hands of Diognetus, and she deceives him, instead of persuading him to treachery, by the stratagem of loaves. Plutarch also makes Diognetus taken prisoner by the Naxians, and his life is saved by Polycrite’s prayers. It is clear from this text that there were several versions of the story, one of which he ascribes to Aristotle.
32. Little is known of Andriscus beyond this reference. He was probably a Peripatetic philosopher and historian of the third or second century B.C.
33. The famous pupil and successor of Aristotle. This work of which the full title was politika pros tous kairous, was a survey of politics as seen in historical events.
34. I am a little doubtful as to this translation. As Polycrite made Diognetus swear by Artemis, it is at least possible that she was in a temple of Artemis.
35. A festival of Apollo and Artemis, held at Athens in the early summer.
X. THE STORY OF LEUCONE 36
In Thessaly there was one Cyanippus, the son of Pharax, who fell in love with a very beautiful girl named Leucone: he begged her hand from her parents, and married her. Now he was a mighty hunter; all day he would chase lions and wild boars, and when night came he used to reach the damsel utterly tired out, so that sometimes he was not even able to talk to her before he fell into a deep sleep.37 At this she was afflicted by grief and care; and, not knowing how things stood, determined to take all pains to spy upon Cyanippus, to find out what was the occupation which gave him such delight during his long periods of staying out on the mountains. So she girded up her skirts above the knee,38 and, taking care not to be seen by her maid-servants, slipped into the woods. Cyanippus’ hounds were far from tame; they had indeed become extremely savage from their long experience of hunting: and when they scented the damsel, they rushed upon her, and, in the huntsman’s absence, tore her to pieces; and that was the end of her, all for the love she bore to her young husband. When Cyanippus came up and found her all torn by the dogs, he called together his companions and made a great pyre, and set her upon it; first he slew his hounds on the pyre, and then, with much weeping and wailing for his wife, put an end to himself as well.
36. If Martini records the MS. tradition aright, the word ou occurs beneath the title of this story, which may perhaps mean that, if the indications of sources were not supplied by Parthenius himself, as is possible, the scholar who added them could not find this tale in any earlier historical or mythological writer. Some support might be lent to this view by a passage in the Parallela Minora ascribed to Plutarch, No. 21; the same tale is given in rather a shorter form, ending with the words hôs Parthenios ho poiêtês, which might either mean that it was taken from this work (Parthenius being better known as a poet than as a writer of prose), or that Parthenius had made it a subject of one of his own poems.
37. “These, however, were the only seasons when Mr. Western saw his wife; for when he repaired to her bed he was generally so drunk that he could not see; and in the sporting season he always rose from her before it was light.” – Tom Jones, Bk. vii. ch. 4.
38. Like the statues of Artemis as huntress.
XI. THE STORY OF BYBLIS
From Aristocritus39 History of Miletus and the Foundation of Caunus40 by Apollonius of Rhodes
There are various forms of the story about Caunus and Byblis, the children of Miletus. Nicaenetus41 says that Caunus fell in love with his sister, and, being unable to rid himself of his passion, left his home and traveled far from his native land: he there founded a city to be inhabited by the scattered Ionian people. Nicaenetus speaks of him thus in his epic: –
Further he42 fared and there the Oecusian town founded, and took to wife Tragasia, Celaeneus’ daughter, who twain children bare: first Caunus, lover of right and law, and then fair Byblis, whom men likened to the tall junipers. Caunus was smitten, all against his will, with love for Byblis; straightway he left his home, and fled beyond Dia: Cyprus did he shun, the land of snakes, and wooded Capros too, and Caria’s holy streams: and then, his goal once reached, the built a township, first of all the Ionians. But his sister far away, poor Byblis, to an owl divinely changed still sat without Miletus’ gates, and wailed for Caunus to return, which might not be.
However, most authors say that Byblis fell in love with Caunus, and made proposals to him, begging him not to stand by and see the sight of her utter misery. He was horrified at what she said, and crossed over to the country then inhabited by the Leleges, where the spring Echeneïs rises, and there founded the city called Caunus after himself. She, as her passion did not abate, and also because she blamed herself for Caunus’ exile, tied the fillets of her head-dress43 to an oak, and so made a noose for her neck. The following are my own lines on the subject: –
She, when she knew her brother’s cruel heart, plained louder than the nightingales in the groves who weep for ever the Sithonian44 lad; then to a rough oak tied her snood, and made a strangling noose, and laid therein her neck: for her Milesian virgins rent their robes.
Some also say that from her tears sprang a stream called after her name, Byblis.
39. A mythological historian of Miletus; he may be considered as a prose follower of the Alexandrine poets.
40. See note on the title of No. I.
41. An Alexandrine poet, author of a gunaikôn katalogos (from which these lines may perhaps be taken) on the model of the Eoiai of Hesiod.
42. Miletus, the founder of the city of the same name.
43. A head-dress with long bands (“habent redimicula mitrae”), which she could therefore use as a rope with which to hang herself. In an epigram of Aristodicus (Anth. Pal. Vii. 473) two women, Demo and Methymna, hearing of the death of a friend or lover – zôan arnêsanto, panuplektôn d’ apo mitran chersi deraiochous ekremasanto brochous.
44. Itys, for whom Philomel weeps in the well-known story.
XII. THE STORY OF CALCHUS
The story of Calchus the Daunian was greatly in love with Circe, the same to whom Ulysses came. He handed over to her his kingship over the Daunians, and employed all possible blandishments to gain her love; but she felt a passion for Ulysses, who was then with her, and loathed Calchus and forbade him to land on her island. However, he would not stop coming, and could talk of nothing but Circe, and she, being extremely angry with him, laid a snare for him and had no sooner invited him into her palace but she set before him a table covered with all manner of dainties. But the meats were full of magical drugs, and as soon as Calchus had eaten of them, he was stricken mad,45 and she drove him into the pig-styles. After a certain time, however, the Daunians’ army landed on the island to look for Calchus; and she then released him from the enchantment, first binding him by oath that he would never set foot on the island again, either to woo her or for any other purpose.
45. I imagine that this implies that Circe’s victims were not actually changed into swine, but that, like Nebuchadnezzar, became animals in their minds and habits.
XIII. THE STORY OF HARPALYCE
From the Thrax of Euphorion46 and from Dectadas47
Clymenus the son of Teleus of Argos married Epicasta and had two sons, who were called Idas and Therager, and a daughter, Harpalyce, who was far the most beautiful woman of her time. Clymenus was seized with a love for her. For a time he held out and had the mastery of his passion; but it came over him again with increased force, and he then acquainted the girl of his feelings through her nurse, and consorted with her secretly. However, the time arrived when she was ripe for marriage, and Alastor, one of the race of Neleus, to whom she had previously been betrothed, had come to wed her. Clymenus handed her over to him without hesitation, and after no long period of madness induced him to change his mind; he hurried after Alastor, caught the pair of them as they were half-way on their journey, seized the girl, took her back to Argos, and there lived with her openly as his wife. Feeling that she had received cruel and flagitious treatment at her father’s hands, she killed and cut into pieces her younger brother, and when there was a festival and sacrifice being celebrated among the people of Argos at which they all feast at a public banquet, she cooked the boy’s flesh and set it as meat before her father. This done, she prayed Heaven that she might be translated away from among mankind, and she was transformed into the bird called the Chalcis. Clymenus when he began to reflect on all these disasters that had happened to his family, took his own life.
46. One of the most typical of the Alexandrine poets, who served as a model almost more than all the others to the poets of Rome; he was of particular interest to Cornelius Gallus, because some of his works were translated into Latin by him.
47. Otherwise unknown. Various attempts have been made, without any very satisfactory result, to emend the name into Aretadas, Dosiadas, Dieuchidas, Dinias, Athanadas, etc.
XIV. THE STORY OF ANTHEUS
From Aristotle48 and the writers of Milesian History
A youth named Antheus, of royal blood, had been sent as hostage from Halicarnassus to the court of Phobius, one of the race of Neleus, who was at that time ruler of Miletus. Cleoboea, the wife of Phobius (other authorities call her Philaechme), fell in love with him, and employed all possible means to gain his affections. He, however, repelled her advances: sometimes he declared that he trembled at the thought of discovery, while at others he appealed to Zeus as god of hospitality and the obligations imposed on him by the King’s table at which they both sat. Cleoboea’s passion took an evil turn; she called him void of pity and proud, and determined to wreak vengeance on him: and so, as time went on, she pretended that she was rid of her love, and one day she chased a tame partridge down a deep well, and asked Antheus to go down and fetch it out. He readily consented, suspecting nothing ill; but when he had descended, she pushed down an enormous stone upon him, and he instantly expired. Then she realized the terrible crime she had committed and, being also still fired with an exceeding passion for the lad, hanged herself: but Phobius considered himself as under a curse because of these events, and handed over his kingship to Phrygius. Other authorities say that it was not a partridge, but a cup of gold, that was thrown down into the well. This is the story given by the Alexander Aetolus49 in his Apollo: –
Next is the tale of Phobius begun, of Neleus’ noble line the true-born son.
This child of Hippocles a spouse shall win, young, and content to sit at home and spin50:
But lo, Assesus51 sends a royal boy, Antheus, as hostage,52 than the spring’s first joy
A stripling lovelier – not he53 so fair whom to Melissus did Pirene bear
(That fruitful fount), who joyful Corinth freed, to the bold Bacchiads a bane indeed.
Antheus is dear to Hermes above, but the young wife for him feels guilty54 love:
Clasping his knees, she prays him to consent55; but he refuses, fearing punishment,
If Jove, the god of hospitality, and the host’s bread and salt56 outragèd be;
He will not so dishonour Phobius’ trust, but cast to sea and stream the thought of lust.57
Antheus refusing, she will then devise a baneful stratagem. These are her lies: –
“Drawing my golden cup from out the well just now, the cord broke through, and down it fell:
Wilt thou descend and – easy ‘tis, they say – save what were else the water-maiden’s prey?
Thus wilt thou gain my thanks.” So speaks the queen: he, guileless, doffs his tunic (which had been
His mother’s handiwork, her son to please, Hellamene, among the Leleges),
And down he climbs: the wicked woman straight amighty mill-stone rolls upon his pate.
Can guest or hostage sadder end e’er have? The well will be his fate-appointed grave:
While she must straightway knit her neck a noose, and death and shades of Hell with him must choose.
48. Some scholars, such as Mueller, have doubted whether this story can really come from any of Aristotle’s works, and have proposed to read some other name, such as Aristodicus. But the philosophers often employed mythological tales in their more serious works, as Phanias in No. VII., and this may possibly belong to a description of the form of government at Miletus.
49. Of Pleuron in Aetolia, a contemporary of Aratus and Philetas. This extract apparently comes from a poem in which Apollo is predicting the fates of various victims of unhappy love affairs.
50. Lit. “while she was still a young bride and was turning the wool on her distaff in the inner chambers of the palace.”
51. Assesus was a city in the territory of Miletus. The word may be here either the name of the city or of its eponymous founder.
52. Lit. “invoking the sure oaths of hostage-ship.”
53. Actaeon, whose death was the cause of the expulsion of the clan who had tyrannized over Corinth. The full story may be found in Plutarch, Narrationes Amatoriae 2.
54. Lit. “deserving of being stoned.”
55. The meaning is a little doubtful, and some have proposed athemista pelesssai. But I think that atesta can mean "that which ought not to come about.
56. A mysterious expression. If hala xuneôwna really means “the salt of hospitality,” thalassês must be changed, though the conjectures (thaleiês, trapezês) are most unsatisfactory. I doubt if it is really any more than a conventional expression, “salt, the comrade of the sea.”
57. Lit. “will wash away in springs and rivers the unseemly word.”
XV. THE STORY OF DAPHNE
From the elegiac poems of Diodorus58 of Elaea and the twenty-fifth book of Phylarchus59
This is how the story of Daphne, the daughter of Amyclas, is related. She used never to come down into the town, nor consort with the other maidens; but she got together a large pack of hounds and used to hunt, either in Laconia, or sometimes going into the further mountains of the Peloponnese. For this reason she was very dear to Artemis, who gave her the gift of shooting straight. On one occasion she was traversing the country of Elis, and there Leucippus, the son of Oenomaus, fell in love with her; he resolved not to woo her in any common way, but assumed women’s clothes, and, in the guise of a maiden, joined her hunt. And it so happened that she very soon became extremely fond of him, nor would she let him quit her side, embracing him and clinging to him at all times. But Apollo was also fired with love for the girl, and it was with feelings of anger and jealousy that he saw Leucippus always with her; he therefore put it into her mind to visit a stream with her attendant maidens, and there to bathe. On their arrival there, they all began to strip; and when they saw that Leucippus was unwilling to follow their example, they tore his clothes from him: but when they thus became aware of the deceit he had practiced and the plot he had devised against them, they all plunged their spears into his body. He, by the will of the gods, disappeared; but Daphne, seeing Apollo advancing upon her, took vigorously to flight; then, as he pursued her, she implored Zeus that she might be translated away from mortal sight, and she is supposed to have become the bay tree which is called daphne after her.
58. Otherwise unknown.
59. A historian, variously described as being of Athens or Egypt. Besides his historical works, he wrote a muthikê epitome, from which this story may be taken.
XVI. THE STORY OF LAODICE
From the first book of the Palleniaca of Hegesippus60
It was told of Laodice that, when Diomede and Acamas came to ask for the restoration of Helen, she was seized with the strongest of desire to have to do with the latter, who was still in his first youth. For a time shame and modesty kept her back; but afterwards, overcome by the violence of her passion, she acquainted Philobia, the wife of Perseus, with the state of her affections, and implored her to come to her rescue before she perished utterly for love. Philobia was sorry for the girl’s plight, and asked Perseus to do what he could to help, suggesting that he should come to terms of hospitality and friendship with Acamas. He, both because he desired to be agreeable to his wife and because he pities Laodice, spared no pains to induce Acamas to come to Dardanus, where he was governor: and Laodice, still a virgin, also came, together with other Trojan women, as if to a festival. Perseus there made ready a most sumptuous banquet, and, when it was over, he put Laodice to sleep by the side of Acamas, telling him that she as one of the royal concubines. Thus Laodice accomplished her desire; and in due course of time a son, called Munitus, was born to Acamas by her. He was brought up by Aethra,61 and after the capture of Troy Acamas took him home with him; later he was killed by a bite of a snake while hunting in Olynthus in Thrace.
60. See titles of No. VI.
61. The boy’s great-grandmother (Aethra – Theseus – Acamas – Munitus), who had accompanied Helen to Troy.
XVII. THE STORY OF PERIANDER AND HIS MOTHER
It is said that Periander of Corinth began by being reasonable and mild, but afterwards became a bloody tyrant: and this is the reason of the change. When he was quite young, his mother62 was seized with a great passion of love for him, and for a time she satisfied her feelings by constantly embracing the lad; but as time went on her passion increased and she could no longer control it, so that she took a reckless resolve and went to the lad with a story that she made up, to the effect that a lady of great beauty was in love with him; and she exhorted him not to allow the poor woman to waste away any more for unrequited love. At first Periander said he would not betray a woman who was bound to her husband by all the sanctions of law and custom, but, at the urgent insistence of his mother, he yielded at last. Then, when the pre-arranged night was at hand, she told him that there must be no light in the chamber, nor must he compel his partner to address any word to him, for she made this additional request by reason of shame. Periander promised to carry out all his mother’s instructions; she then prepared herself with all care and went in to the youth, slipping out secretly before the first gleam of dawn. The next day she asked him if all had gone to his taste, and if he would like the woman to come again; to which Periander answered that he would like it particularly, and that he had derived no little pleasure from the experience. From that time onward she thus visited the lad constantly. But he began to feel real love for his visitant, and became desirous of knowing who she really was. For a time then he kept asking his mother to implore the woman to consent to speak to him, and that, since she had now enmeshed him in a strong passion, she should at last reveal herself: for as things stood, he found it extremely distasteful that he was never allowed to see the woman who had been consorting with him for so long a time. But when his mother refused, alleging the shame felt by the woman, he bade on of his body-servants to conceal a light in the chamber; and when she came as usual, and was about to lay herself down, Periander jumped up and revealed the light: and when he saw that it was his mother, he made as if to kill her. However, he was restrained by a heaven-sent apparition, and desisted from his purpose, but from that time on he was a madman, afflicted in brain and heart; he fell into habits of savagery, and slaughtered many citizens of Corinth. His mother, after long and bitterly bewailing her evil fate, made away with herself.
62. Her name is said to have been Cratea.
XVIII. THE STORY OF NEAERA
From the first book of Theophrastus’ 63 Political History
Hypsicreon of Miletus and Promedon of Maxos were two very great friends. The story is that when on one occasion Promedon was on a visit to Miletus, his friend’s wife fell in love with him. While Hypsicreon was there, she did not venture to disclose the state of her affections to her guest; but later, when Hypsicreon happened to be abroad and Promedon was again there, she went in to him at night when he was asleep. To begin with she tried to persuade him to consent; when he would not give in, fearing Zeus the god of Comradeship and Hospitality, she bade her serving-maids lock the doors of the chamber upon them; and so at last, overcome by the multitude of her blandishments, he was forced to content her. On the morrow, however, feeling that he had committed an odious crime, he left her and sailed away for Naxos; and then Neaera, in fear of Hypsicreon, also journeyed to Naxos; and, when her husband came to fetch her, took up a suppliant’s position at the altar-hearth of the Prytaneum.64 When Hypsicreon asked the Naxians to give her up, they refused, rather advising him to do what he could to get her away by persuasion; but he, thinking that this treatment of him was against all the canons of right, induced Miletus to declare war upon Naxos.
63. See the title of No. IX.
64. The town-hall, the centre of civil life of the state.
XIX. THE STORY OF PANCRATO
From the second book of the Naxiaca of Andriscus65
Scellis and Agassamenus, the sons of Hecetor, who came from Thrace, started from the island originally called Strongyle but afterwards Naxos, and plundered the Peloponnese and the islands about it: then reaching Thessaly they carried a great number of women into captivity; among them Iphimede the wife of Haloeus and her daughter Pancrato. With this maiden they both of them fell in love, and fought for her and killed each other.
65. See the title of No. IX.
XX. THE STORY OF AËRO
Aëro, so the story runs, was the daughter of Oenopion and the nymph Helice. Orion, the son of Hyrieus, fell in love with her, and asked her father for her hand; for her sake he rendered the island66 where they lived habitable (it was formerly full of wild beasts), and he also gathered together much booty from the folk who lived there and brought it as a bridal-gift for her. Oenopion however constantly kept putting off the time of the wedding, for he hated the idea of having such a man as his daughter’s husband. Then Orion, maddened by strong drink, broke in the doors of the chamber where the girl was lying asleep, and as he was offering violence to her Oenopion attacked him and put out his eyes with a burning brand.