TZETZES, CHILIADES 9
CHILIADES BOOK 9, TRANSLATED BY JONATHAN ALEXANDER
9.1 CONCERNING MANOAH’S VISION OF GOD AND WHAT HE SAID (STORY 254)
Manoah lived with a barren wife
 Their childlessness pained them greatly.
Then an angel appeared to his wife twice
In the field and said she would bear a child.
So she told Manoah, her bed-fellow
He sacrificed a kid and put it on a rock
The angel smote the rock with his staff
And a flame, rising from the rock, devoured the offering.
Then the flame itself ascended into heaven
And the angel with it.
Then Manoah said:
“We’ll die, oh woman, for God has appeared to us!”
 Thus spoke Manoah at the time of the appearance
But later the woman, bearing in her womb
Birthed Samson the great, whom every tongue hails.
9.2 CONCERNING HOW MOSES WAS BRIGHTENED BY HIS VISION OF GOD (STORY 255)
After God conversed with Moses on Mount Sinai,
When he was going to deliver the divinely inscribed plates,
By speaking with God and his appearance
And by secret thunder, Moses’ face became divine
So much that no one was able to look at him directly.
Therefore only while covering his face with a curtain
Did Moses speak to the Hebrews. For if his face was bare
 None of them was able to look directly at him.
9.3 CONCERNING THE WISDOM OF THE PORPHYRY BIRD (STORY 256)
The porphyry bird was exceedingly wise.
So much so that, if it saw even one whore, it would die immediately.
Aristotle, followed by Aelian and some others
Wrote about the deeds of the porphyry bird.
9.4 CONCERNING WHAT THE WORD AGEROCHOS MEANS (STORY 257)
The word agerochos has three meanings:
Glorious, beggar, and also the one who commits the crime with them.
The first meaning signifies
The one who brings the spoils for the prize (geras)
The second from
Beggars who collect (ageiro) food and shelter for themselves.
 The third from the related word ageroichon,
Which signifies the criminal, who brings the spoils to strife.
9.5 CONCERNING WHAT THE WORD SKYTALE MEANS, AND ITS ORIGINS (STORY 258)
The word skytale has six meanings, all of which you should learn:
First, a skytos is used to bring out tears in schoolchildren,
While a skytale is a kind of fish: it is called that because
It resembles the school children’s skytos completely.
The third meaning is finger bones, which are also called skytalai.
The fourth, the square rod used by marble masons.
I suspect the schoolchildren call their punishment rod a skytale because
Of the rod used by the masons.
 The fifth meaning is any kind of rod, which can be called a skytalos or a skytales,
Whether because of the aforementioned mason’s rod
Or because of the verb skyzo, which means to be angry.
For a rod is used to end and resolve anger and wrath.
Now most of all the sixth meaning is worth hearing, that which the Spartans called a skytale,
So I believe I must give it a short explanation.
Whenever the Spartans wished to send a general or anyone else
A written, secret message,
They would first take the shortest rod they could find.
Then, they would take a piece of skin thin as a belt,
 And, stretching it across the whole surface of the rod,
They would write under it whatever they wished to convey.
The message would then be read by rolling away the skin.
However, it could not be completely read
If someone rolled away the entire skin.
Then the rod would be examined,
To see if the skin had been rolled and fitted to the rod.
Thus, as I said, the Spartans would roll away the rod,
And send the skin to whomever they wished with another,
And also the rod with great care.
 Then, the recipient, having received the rod and the skin,
Rolled the skin away and read, as I said earlier.
So now you well know what the Spartan skytale was,
A skin rolled onto a rod, bearing secret messages.
Finally, a seventh meaning of skytale is the force of Gyges’ sling before Gyges,
Which looked like a snake.
9.6 CONCERNING THE MOSELE MONASTERY (STORY 259)
What is now the Monastery of Mosele used to be Mosele’s house,
Who, defeated on campaign by the Bulgars,
On the other side of the stream, trying to find a boat to flee on,
Falling weaponless into the sea, drowned to death.
 I only wonder how it could be that such a man,
Being god of the seas, could be made again a god by the sea,
Giving a new name as though eponymous.
For Mosele to the ancient Egyptians
Was equivalent to Poseidon, god of seas and waters.
9.7 CONCERNING A FABLE OF AESOP: “SHOT BY MY OWN FEATHERS!” (STORY 260)
Aesop the storyteller recounts in his stories,
How an eagle, flying high, was suddenly shot by arrows.
When he saw that the arrows had eagle feathers,
“By my own wings,” he cried, “I have been thrown down!”
9.8 CONCERNING ISAAC, ESAU AND JACOB (STORY 261)
Isaac, son of Jacob and Rebecca,
 Had a son named Esau, and a second, Jacob.
Of which Esau was the hairy and red haired,
And spent his life with beasts and hunting them.
But Jacob was a stay at home,
Who, encountering Esau, returning from a hunt,
Made him the lentils which Esau desired, but not without trickery.
For he said: “Give me your firstborn’s right.”
He agreed, defeated by his hunger.
So he received lentils for his firstborn’s right.
This was the first “heeling” and deception
 That Jacob used against his brother Esau.
For Jacob in Greek means “one who strikes with the heel”,
And Esau his twin came out first,
While behind him Jacob came, holding on to his heel.
Therefore he was called Jacob by the parents.
That was the first “heeling” by Jacob the “heeler”
Against his brother Esau, that of the firstborn’s right,
Which he took, giving in return the lentils.
Now learn from me of the greater and second “heeling”:
Isaac, blinded by his advanced years
 And constrained by sickness, called to Esau:
“Firstborn child of mine, you whom I called Esau,
Go, hunt my favourite food for me to eat,
So that after I eat I may bless you, child.”
So Esau went out to hunt.
Rebecca, however, hated Esau,
But Jacob she loved as a mother will, so she said to him:
“Go out to the flocks and bring me a kid,
And I will make a meal for your father, and he will eat,
And he will give you your brother’s blessing, child.”
 So he brought her the kid, and slaughtered it quickly.
His mother prepared it, all for eating.
With the kid’s skin she covered Jacob’s
Hands and neck, so that he would appear to be Esau.
So he took the food and brought it to his father,
And said: “Behold, father, I have fulfilled your desire.
So eat and bless me, fulfil your promises!”
But his father felt the neck,
As I said, covered with the kid’s skin,
So he spoke and said to him:
 “The voice is Jacob’s, but the hands Esau’s.“
Yet he blessed him then as though he were Esau.
When Esau returned later, after his hunt,
Crying and sweating about his blessing,
His father told him: “I’ve given the whole blessing
To your brother, because of your mother’s tricks.”
9.9 CONCERNING HISTIAEUS AND ARISTAGORAS (STORY 262)
Histiaeus was a Milesian who,
Due to his pure friendship with the Persians,
Fought together with Darius Xerxes’ father against the Scythians.
Therefore he received as a gift from Darius the right to build Myrkinos.
 (Myrkinos is what Hedonon used to be called).
But the Persian general Megabyzus, returning from Paeonia,
Convinced Darius not to allow Histiaeus to build Myrkinos,
But rather to take Histiaeus with him to Susa.
Later, because of desire for his homeland,
Histiaeus, in order to be sent there again by the Persians,
With the following ruse awakened terrible things:
He took a domestic slave and shaved his head,
And tattooed letters on it. Once the slave had regrown his hair,
Histiaeus sent him to Miletus to see Aristagoras,
 His son-in-law, and also Histiaeus’ nephew.
Aristagoras shaved the slave again and read his scalp as though it were papyrus,
Then convinced all the Greek cities to rebel against the Persian,
And the Athenians to destroy Sardis.
When Darius became very troubled by these events,
A certain Persian satrap, who was present, said to him:
“I have a certain divine instrument, which foretold all, saying:
‘Histiaeus sewed this shoe together,
 But Aristagoras wore it.’”
That is: Histiaeus laid the foundation,
But Aristagoras executed the plan to fruition.
So Histaeius was sent from Darius’ court
Promising to make an agreement with the cities.
He passed slowly through the lands of Persia and Susa,
But afterwards, in his homeland, he took command of his friends.
If Histiaeus’ end you wish to know,
You have it lying flat in front of you in earlier histories
Down in the one hundred and ninetieth depth.
9.10 CONCERNING “BE LIKE SNAKES”, INTERPRETED DIFFERENTLY AS: TO BE NOBLE AND CULTURED, AND USE CLEVER METHODS, AS IT SEEMS TO ME (STORY 263)
In the evangelists’ holy writings,
Christ in a certain place says both to his own disciples and to everyone:
 “Be like snakes and have shrewdness,
But also as pure as doves for my sake.”
This he clarifies, and in that place means:
Guard your own head, as the snake does,
Who, plotted against and hit murderously,
Still at all times covers his own head.
Thus you too, apostles, being righteous always,
Still respect leaders even if they are of the unrighteous kind,
And guard your head for my sake, and our faith,
And do not deny God, even unto death itself.
 “Be as pure as doves for my sake”
And again he clarifies and means the same thing:
For doves are said to be so pure and wise,
As it is said of Noah’s dove,
Who was released by him during the Flood,
And again returned to Noah’s Ark.
And any house, if there should be a dove in it,
The dove never ceases its service, unless it is false.
And it does not give birth in the house, but rather suffers the pains outside.
So Christ commands us to guard the holy things,
 And their head, that is to say, our faith.
While I say one should watch one’s head with cultured speech,
With clever methods and rhetorical devices,
And watch our heads, our masters, and our lords,
And beware not to be robbed or cheated by the tricks
Of thieves and mockers of the holy,
Whom sinful men named saints, overreaching themselves
And who resemble them themselves.
9.11 CONCERNING “DO NOT BE WISE ACCORDING TO YOURSELF” (STORY 264)
Solomon said this, teaching mankind
Not to be self-willed and self-satisfied,
 But rather to act by counsel of others. I have said this,
While writing a commentary on Homer at the Augustan,
Which also contains a paraphrase in chariot-meter verses,
First, four joined columns of small writings,
Each of which containing no more than
Eighty-eight verses with margins,
For each of which I took twelve golden coins,
That is twelve golden numismata, not including white gold.
Then, just barely remembering my scrolls,
Shortly before the end of my time at the Augustan,
 I undertook to write a greater collection of writings in four conjoined columns,
Which amounted to about ten such writings in trimeters.
This and the tenfold repetition appeared to be equal,
More or less, or perhaps exactly the same.
Write and write without pause, be alone and lonely,
And when you’re done, you may have whatever gifts you desire.
For this judgement I wrote these writings.
9.12 CONCERNING THE ORIGIN OF THE WORD ALITERIOS (STORY 265)
There once was a great famine in Athens,
So much that the most active would run around,
 If somehow they heard the noise of an unwashed hand-mill.
For they would charge in with ungovernable force,
And steal the barley-meal (alphita) and wheat-meal (alia) from the custodians.
Because of them, an evil-doer is called an aliterios.
9.13 CONCERNING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PACHYS AND PACHES (STORY 266)
Pachys, generally, bears the meaning of unintelligent,
While paches is applied to a fleshy or fat person.
But as I see it, as does Aristophanes,
Pachys means both unintelligent and fat,
For one who is paches is unintelligent as regards physical things.
For all inside, and many outside,
 Say that the body is the prison and guardhouse of the soul.
If the body becomes thick and soft,
The eye is confined from seeing anything of the soul’s intelligence.
But if it is strong, the body does not confine thus,
Rather, it enjoys the inner radiance of intelligence,
Just as one enjoys the shining sun.
If the soul is confined from within, a crystalline prison fencing it around,
Or of perches, or skins, or something else of the sort.
So both the unintelligent and the fat
Are called pachys by me and by others.
 Paches, on the other hand, was an Athenian general.
9.14 CONCERNING “HE WHO DOES NOT ENTER THROUGH THE DOOR”, ELEGANTLY INTERPRETED (STORY 267)
A door is the divine lesson from the Gospels,
Through which runs the way to the higher kingdom, for those who wish.
But he who does not enter through this door,
Is a thief and a bandit and of the ungodly ones.
He despoils the souls of the godly and consorts with daemons.
This door is in the more divine writings,
While I have elegantly interpreted the monastic rules
To be the door of the living, more precisely, in communal living.
I say that thieving fathers are those do not go through the door,
 And also diggers, cloistered ones, one who drags beasts, and column-foundations.
All also who live outside the usual boundaries of life,
And those who live alone, except in desert places.
9.15 CONCERNING “DRAGGING ALONG BEASTS LIKE ORPHEUS” (STORY 268)
Orpheus was a Thracian, one of the Odryssians, whose homeland was Bisaltia,
Greatest of all musicians whom light has seen,
So much so that he charmed stones, beasts, growing things, and things of all natures,
With his music, and drew them behind him.
What came before, you may find in the twelfth of these Histories.
9.16 CONCERNING “DON’T RECEIVE IT, BUT SEND IT AWAY BEHIND” (STORY 269)
This phrase is a rhetorical joining,
The joining being from a quote by Hesiod,
 Said with my most clever method.
For in his work, he says that Pandora rejected something.
I, for my part, reject the thieving fathers’ two litra apples.
What is the parody and the joining?
9.17 CONCERNING A QUOTE FROM HESIOD, AN ELEGANT LOGICAL ORACLE BY TZETZES (STORY 270)
Askraios said that nothing evil befell mortals,
Neither did any harm occur because of Pandora.
But I reject the thieving fathers’
Two and one litra apples, as has been said before,
No evil happened, when people die without apples,
 Those who do not have litras, and an apple-father buy.
This is a logical and very much elegant oracle.
For an elegant, ever-shifty person will say:
“Tzetzes made the thieving fathers’ litra apples
To turn away, so that no one lacking a litra may die without apples”.
9.18 CONCERNING “I AM NOT A SOOTHSAYER OR ONE WHO UNDERSTANDS THE SIGNS OF BIRDS” (STORY 271)
I poured out this quote, one of the more elegant which I’ve said,
Which lies in the letters I was previously reading,
And together with it also the soothsayer and the augur.
I went into church as they sang,
“The Lord will shatter the horns of sinners,
 But the horns of the righteous will be lifted up on high.”
Then I quoted from the works of Hesiod:
“Now then I myself would not want to be righteous among men,
Nor my son neither; since evil never leaves
A righteous man alone, if indeed the more unjust a man, the more rights he will have.”
I said this then, oh lady’s governor,
Wishing, with the destruction of the unrighteous’ horns and height of those of the just,
To say it to you again.
If you grant the thieving fathers and sacrilegious litras
For one apple or pomegranate,
 Then the same is said of men who write metaphrases of books,
And we should write a metaphrase a book of such length,
Then give them whatever you see fit.
I would not want to be, I say, a writer, nor any friend of mine,
If writers receive nothing, and with such toil,
While artisans get their litras with no toil at all, with apples to buy.
As for “I am not a soothsayer nor one who understands the signs of birds”,
Homer relates who said it, in his Odyssey.
I have said the same thing, writing to the Emperor.
9.19 CONCERNING “A CLOUD OF FLEAS OVER XERXES’ UNNUMBERED HOST” (STORY 272)
 This expedition is an army, this army forms a multitude.
Serving Darius’ son, Xerxes the Great,
Campaigning against the Athenians, and fighting against
All of Greece, and the multitude of fighting men numbers
About fifty myriads in all.
9.20 CONCERNING IXION’S WHEEL (STORY 273)
Ixion Pleugos’ son, a Lapithian,
Married and had for his bed fellow Dia, Deioneus’ daughter,
Or, according to others, Eioneus’, omitting the D.
He dug a pit, kindled a fire in it below,
And deceitfully covered the pit from above.
 Thus he destroyed his father-in-law, seeking an end in this.
Being the first kin-slayer, he went mad.
When he regained his sanity, he fled because of the murder,
And was cleansed of murder by Zeus.
He fell in love with Hera, and undertook to force her.
Hera, however, told Zeus about his audacity,
And Zeus, wishing to know the truth,
Made a cloud into an image of Hera and led it to Ixion.
He lay with the cloud resembling Hera,
And fathered a child named Centaurus, a disfigured man who,
 Mixing with horses in Pelian places,
Brought forth the part-horse Centaurs,
As both Pindar and every other collector of myths has recorded.
Because of this overreaching, Ixion
Was punished and twisted on an iron wheel in Hades.
So go the ancient myths, calling on the souls of the young.
But there is a certain person who put on airs in allegories,
Palaephatus the philosopher, of the Stoic school.
He does not speak at all of these worthy words,
Except only in the Alcestis, even though
 The rest of the story has gone by, Hera and Zeus,
The lying with the cloud, Centaurus and Centaurus’ naming
And the twisting on the wheel. He speaks about the Centaurs
Coldly, and even that barely, seeing as Palaephatus
Was a Stoic philosopher, and braggarts must
Attribute unworthiness to the ignorant eparch Tzetzes.
For he says that wild bulls near Thessaly
Would devour the country and spoil it.
Certain strong southern youths mounted horses
Ran down the bulls, and pierced them with spears.
 Then some farmers saw them, and were amazed.
(For at that time there were no horse riders, but only chariots)
They ran, and said: “There are Centaurs to be seen in the land!”
When asked, what exactly these Centaurs were,
They answered: “Mortals mixed with horses, who pierce bulls!”.
This is Palaephatus’ version. But Tzetzes tells you,
The word is Kentotaur, not Centaur, because they pierced (kentein) the bulls (tauros).
He also says that horse riders were, in fact, known then.
For those Kentotaurs (Tzetzes says) you speak of, Palaephatus,
I believe were contemporaries of the great Greek army.
 And how could horse riders not have been known to the Greeks?
Horse riders and riding-horses were known then,
And even before the Greek army, horse riding was known.
So the Kentotaurs were contemporaries of the Greek army,
So listen, don’t doubt, Tzetzes doesn’t lie.
Ixion and Centaurus, and Centaurus’ children,
Three from Ixion, Centaurus’ children;
Ixion’s own son, from his lawful wife,
Was Perithous, whose son was Polypoetes,
Who fought with the Greeks. You knew, Palaephatus,
 That you were lying to me and speaking inaccurately.
Listen and learn everything clearly from Tzetzes.
You and any other crafty person, for this is not uncommon,
If you ever lie in your life, you will learn in Hades
Even if you’re an old man, or a philosopher, or even a Stoic, that:
Ixion burning his father-in-law
Is a truth, as is his flight from his homeland.
But Zeus did not conceive anything in his mind, nor in the air,
Nor was there such a gossipy Greek god,
Nor his heaven or sun or goddess of fate.
 Nor do the stars signify Zeus or any other thing.
Rather, understand that Zeus was a king.
For the ancients would call their kings “Zeus”,
After Baalos, son of Zeus, king of Egypt,
And the star of Zeus, which they believed made kings.
For if the sun was in the fifth part of the lion,
There Zeus would be found, which decided everything back then,
Granting kingdoms and the right to bear a crown.
Zeus, therefore, was a certain king, who cleansed Ixion,
Whose wife, Hera, that is, the queen,
 He lusted after, once he had been cleansed. But since she was wise,
She told her husband. He did not believe her,
So he dressed up an aura named Cloud as Hera,
And Ixion lay with her, and fathered a son named Centaurus,
Who was a very misshapen man, and received the name Imbros.
This is how he received the nickname “Centaurus”:
Not from the piercing of the bulls (for that concerned the Kentotauros),
But because a son of a slave girl was called Centaurus.
For by “piercing” the aura, that is, the slave girl,
He made the child who received the name Imbros.
 (Let it not slip your mind that aura means a handmaid).
For you’ve heard, Palaephatus, what Moses said:
How, when the daughter of the Pharaoh went down to the river
She had aurai and slave-girls waiting on her.
But that is neither here nor there. The king I spoke of,
Punished Ixion by chaining him to an iron wheel,
And killed him for his impious deed.
But Imbros, son of Ixion and Cloud,
Who was nicknamed Centaurus, because he was a handmaid’s child,
He sent to take care of the horses in the places around Pelios.
 He, in turn, stewarded the place, settled down, and married,
And had children not at all short, nor weak of body.
He mixed Magnesian horses with Pelians,
And bred his children with them. Not, as Pindar claims,
In the shameful and unbecoming mating of beasts,
But rather by training them together with the horses.
He raised them to become a wondrous cavalry force,
They who brought Magnesian horses to Thessaly.
They are mentioned by the oracle, which said:
“Of all places of the earth Pelasgian Argos is the best,
 Of horses the Thessalians, of women the Spartans,
And of men those who drink the water of beautiful Arethusa.
But there are still greater, those who
Dwell between Tiryns and apple-full Arcadia,
The linen-cuirass wearing Argives, the sharp points of war.
You Aegeans are neither third nor fourth,
Nor even twelfth, neither in words nor in numbers.”
9.21 CONCERNING DEXIPPUS’ SCYTHICA (STORY 274)
Dexippus the philosopher, an initiate of Iamblichus,
Wrote many and varied books.
I have encountered one of them, the one on categories.
 He also wrote one called Scythica, which I still do not know,
And others, as I said. I, however, have only read the one.
9.22 CONCERNING THE SEMIRAMIAN WALLS (STORY 275)
A certain Assyrian lady, Dorketo she was called,
Committed lustful adultery with a young man, a Syrian.
She lay with him, but fearing shame if the story got out,
She got rid of the Syrian, and once the child was born,
Put it in the fields. Herself she threw
Into the bay of Myris, where she drowned.
The Syrian writings say she became a fish
Which is why Syrians don’t eat certain types of fish.
 But now we must allow the tapestry of Dorketo’s story to widen.
Dorketo’s castaway child in the fields
Was fed graciously with green cheese and milk by doves
Belonging to nearby shepherds.
When the shepherds saw the winged thieves
Stripping away their milk and cheese both
They went with their flock-leader, Simma by name,
Wondering and wishing to see why this was happening.
They saw a female infant in royal swaddling clothes,
Being given food by the birds, as I have said.
 Simma took her and turned to go home,
Naming the infant Semiramis.
The girl grew up to be of exceeding beauty,
Until a certain official of King Ninus came
In charge of flocks of horses and other creatures,
Named Menoinis, as Diodorus writes.
When he saw Semiramis, being of unspeakable beauty,
His gifts of oil and myriads of gifts were persuasive enough
To allow him to take her as his bed-fellow from Simma.
She was beautiful and sharp-minded and always resourceful,
 And also full of tricks, whose co-conspirator was her right hand,
As well as her soul and life, her eye, her heart, all.
Prokandayles, commander of the forces to the ends of the kingdom,
Was with King Ninus, besieging Bactra,
But unable to take it.
He said to King Ninus: “O crown-bearing Ninus,
If only Semiramis was here, who is my consort,
You would have captured Bactra within a short time.”
So immediately he sent for the woman.
Before she embarked on such a long road
 First she contrived a most finely-worked dress.
It was designed to keep away the heat and rain,
And it would easily recognize
Whether it happened to be worn by one of the male persuasion, or the female.
And this dress was extremely capable of doing
Anything one might wish to do.
Why so much? The city of the Bactrians fell easily
From the warlike ravine with the precipices
It was immediately taken, with all others fighting.
King Ninus, entranced by her beauty
 First convinced her bed-fellow, the horn-bearer Menoinis
To give her to him as a gift.
The king offered him as a replacement in his bed
His own little daughter, who was called Sosana.
But since Menoinis was troubled by this offer, the king blinded him.
Then Menoinis, so unable to take his mind off his pain,
Strangled himself with a noose, and thus ended his life.
While Ninus fathered Ninyas on Semiramis,
And soon he died, leaving the kingdom
To Semiramis herself, and his son Ninyas.
 Then she built fabled Babylon,
With twenty myriads of workers.
She built the city in just one year
From baked bricks, not from stone.
Baked brick, mind you, is what we call besal.
For the building of Babylon was done with besal,
Using bitumen instead of asbestos.
The whole perimeter of Babylon,
Following Ctesias, was 360 stadia.
 However, according to Cleitarchus himself and companions of Alexander
And also according to Diodorus Siculus,
It was 365 stadia.
Cassius Dio, however, the Cocceian Latin writer,
Wrote that it was 400.
Herodotus, he who wrote nine “Muses”,
And Philostratus, in the Life of Tyaneus,
Say the perimeter was 380 stadia.
The height of the walls, according to Ctesias, was fifty fathoms,
Other says fifty cubits. However, to Tzetzes,
Ctesias seems to have written more truly than the others,
 At least as far as Babylon is concerned.
For he describes it as being
360 stadia in perimeter,
While the others enlarge and exaggerate the city.
The one with the smallest number for the length,
Would not give a higher number for the height than necessary.
However, perhaps when Ctesias saw it,
The height of the towers was sixty fathoms,
And that of the walls, fifty.
Perhaps they had been trampled and lowered by wars and earthquakes.
 If so, then later on, when Cleitarchus and all of Alexander’s companions
They would have seen a height lesser than fathoms,
Having been reduced to cubits.
The width of Babylon’s wall was, according to some,
Enough for six chariots side by side. Others say three.
In the midst of Babylon flows the River Euphrates,
Which completes a flowing at midday.
On each side of the river Euphrates,
Palaces were built, of marvellous craftsmanship,
Having the river below them, and crowned with domes,
 And a river crossing, which caused great wonder.
But of all of Semiramis’ Senate-worthy achievements,
Only one remnant of the wall remains,
Built of no more than one stadion.
Thus you have written for you all of Semiramis’ walls.
9.23 CONCERNING WHY SPARTA WAS UNWALLED (STORY 276)
The ancient Spartans, the sons of Laconia,
Reasoned well, with wise thought:
That men are the guardians of walls, not walls of men.
While city walls are often taken,
They built their towers on weapons, bodies, and fighting,
 So that no one could bravely slit open their walls.
There was a Spartan general once, who, when the others noticed
That the guards were allowed to go around without shields,
He answered, so that they would watch ever more wakefully,
Lest they be caught sleeping by a charge.
9.24 CONCERNING THE PHRASE “A COW WILL CRY AND A BULL WILL MOURN” (STORY 277)
There is a phrase commonly used by Constantinopolitans,
That: “A cow will cry and a bull will mourn”.
It was formed by the following events and fears:
When uncounted hosts of Alamanni and others
Came against the very city of Constantine,
 All feared sack and destruction,
And all were struck and terrified by dreams.
Then the wife of the Megaletairachos,
Frightened by those armies beyond,
And also by the tales of myth creators,
She formed in her soul things of fear.
She said she had dreamed of things told before,
How the city of Constantine first had a wall of bricks,
And the marketplace was around a cow, that is, the place was near a cow.
She also claimed to have seen an army and a great panoply,
 But next to the bull she saw a man sitting with a cithara,
Striking together his hands and lamenting with cries.
In seeing him, she revealed Tzetzes,
Believing the dream to be of the latter days.
The brick wall, however, signified the plentiful fruit of the earth,
And she said a most fortunate year would come to the city of Constantine.
Now all you present, you know the good fortune of that time.
She said the great panoply about the cow,
And the man holding a cithara next to the bull
Was the fulfilment of the much-quoted phrase,
 “A cow will cry and a bull will mourn”.
But not as they were sick, as one becomes sick due to fear,
But rather as befit all our citizens.
And listen, highly pious one, and teach others also,
Tzetzes (she said) teaches me so:
A female of cattle we call a cow,
Even though sometimes we also call the bull a cow,
But chiefly we call the male of cattle a bull.
This bull the Latins call an Italian,
While our cow was brought to the city of Constantine,
 Which was bred from the Roman Italian bull,
Full of all sorts of weapons, food, and armies,
She will cry out war against the enemy.
While the Italian bull, the Latin army,
Will also mourn because of the fear-induced paleness of the masses,
If he does not convince the mighty emperor with words.
9.25 CONCERNING THE PHRASE “WOE TO YOU, SEVEN HILLED ONE, BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT LAST A THOUSAND YEARS” (STORY 278)
“Woe to you, seven hilled one, because you will not last a thousand years”,
Is another phrase used by Constantinopolitans,
Just as “A cow will cry and a bull will lament”.
As I have solved well and conveniently,
 The dream dreamed by the wife of the Megaletairachos.
“Woe to you, seven hilled one,” was of the enemy.
For one of the wise might have spoken to us,
In the city of Constantine.
The orators seem to be airy to the eparch,
How can you say that: “A cow will cry and a bull will lament”
Has anything to do with the city of Constantine?
Isn’t there another phrase about the city of Constantine:
 “Woe to you, seven hilled one, because you will not last a thousand years”?
So that no one will bring forth a defence,
I created a solution against the oncoming enemy,
The solution being excellent and relevant then:
For, saying to the one who had dreamed,
That it was perfectly relevant to my mind and to the city,
That: “A cow will cry and a bull will lament”,
and: “Woe to you, seven hilled one, because you will not last a thousand years”.
Thus, I said, they were sick, not as they are sick themselves,
Not one part as an adverb, the Ouai in the lament,
 But there are two parts to the saying, first: the particle of denial Ou, and Ai (signifying woe)
Therefore, Constantinople, even if you do not last a thousand years,
But are destroyed within that millennium,
Yet there shall be no ai or lamentation for you, but grace.
So that you will be rebuilt ever the greater and shine ever the more,
And destroy well those who seek to destroy you.
9.26 CONCERNING THE PHRASE “THE MORE WARLIKE THE MAN, THE MORE REMOVED THE MIND” (STORY 279)
Generally, young soldiers tend to be more warlike,
Desiring battle more, because they bear arms.
In fact, all young men tend to be more warlike.
Homer, then, shows how stupid young men are,
 Writing in the third book of his epic, the Iliad:
“Always, the more warlike the man, the more removed the mind.”
On old men, however, he expresses the opposite opinion:
“Those who have an old man with them, are able to see
Both in front of them and behind, so much that they can see well from afar on both sides.”
9.27 CONCERNING THE THESSALIAN VALLEYS OF TEMPE (STORY 280)
It is Thessaly you should know, not Thessalonica,
As some think, and as I myself have said in jest,
But often, speaking to the ignorant, I was not jesting.
The land of Thessaly, to my mind,
Is comprised of Phthia and Pharsalia, Larissa and Trikalos,
Demetrias, Iolkos, Glaphyros and Phoibe,
 And many other cities does Thessaly comprise.
Tempe, on the other hand, is the hollows and mountains of Thessaly,
Which is divided by the out-flowing river Peneios,
Which, brought to the middle, flows and pulls down.
The Peneios, the Onochonos, as well as the Sperchios and others,
And even the Salambria, among the local barbarians,
Are one river with many names.
Now you know all about Thessalian Tempe,
But I was joking when I spoke of Thessalonica.
 For most people have become barbarians by various enigmas,
Taking ancient books at face value,
And instead of seeking to know well places, countries, and things
And treasures to draw up, as well as the sayings of all sorts of sages,
They seek only the labyrinthine, commercial twists of ignorant merchants.
9.28 CONCERNING THE PHRASE “SOLDIER ON, FRIENDS, AND STAY FOR A TIME” (STORY 281)
Homer, in the second book of the Iliad
Has Odysseus speak to the crowd of Greeks,
And ask them to remain strong for another short while,
Until they capture the city of the Trojans.
 He said that the capture of Troy was imminent,
And citing signs, the portents that had been prophesied to them.
And prophetically speaking as well as providing signs.
That is what Odysseus says to the Greek army in Homer,
While I say the same to one of my friends,
Wishing that he would persevere for a short time.
9.29 CONCERNING THE PHRASE “HE WHO DOES NOT THINK FOR HIMSELF, DOES NOT LISTEN TO ANYONE ELSE EITHER” (STORY 282)
Hesiod the poet, writing to his brother Perses,
Says: “It is good to think for yourself what should be done.
It is, however, also good to listen to one who speaks on what needs to be done.
He who does not think for himself, does not learn from others either.
 This is the least of forbidden things.”
This from Hesiod to his brother Perses.
I too use this quote from Hesiod,
Speaking to a friend and most fitting student.
9.30 CONCERNING THE PHRASE “GET THEE SWIFTLY AWAY FROM MY ISLAND, MOST SHAMEFUL OF CREATURES!” (STORY 283)
Odysseus, pushed along by the winds to Aeolia,
(The island of Aeolia is off Rhegion in Italy)
Was deemed worthy of mercy and hospitality by Aeolus.
Then he took all the winds hidden in a sack,
While with the breath of only one of them he would reach his homeland.
Because of his careless violation of Aeolus’ command,
 While he was sleeping, before he could go home,
The Ithacans opened the sack of winds,
Thinking it was full of money.
The winds all blew Odysseus and turned him back to sea,
And again brought his ship to Aeolia.
Aeolus saw him, and rightfully incensed, said:
“Didn’t I bind all the winds,
And allowed you only one to bear you?
Tell me what reason you had for turning against us,
Unless it is that you were not listening to anything I’ve said.
 Get thee, then, out of my island, you least of creatures.”
9.31 CONCERNING THE PHRASE “HE WHO LEAVES THE PREPARED THINGS TO CHASE THE UNPREPARED IS A FOOL” (STORY 284)
Who coined this phrase, I have sadly forgotten,
Whether it is from the Odyssey of Homer,
Or by some other poet. For it is as if I had hidden in my chest two books,
Or three or perhaps four, and some god is being difficult to me, the truth be told.
It appears, then, that I have forgotten whose words they are,
For golden wanded Hermes does not fight with forgetfulness.
For now, it is the most clear mind that coined the phrase,
You are a fool, I said to whoever wrote it,
 Because you cut through the ready profits of your offices,
And persuaded by cold hopes you flee your homeland.
9.32 CONCERNING THE PHRASE “SHEPHERD, FIGHT AND WORK IN ORDER TO RECEIVE THE TWO WOMEN” (STORY 285)
Jacob came from Judea to Mesopotamia,
To the house of Laban, his mother Rebecca’s brother.
He shepherded his flocks for seven years,
Married his daughter Leah,
Who suffered from ophthalmia, and was the elder in years,
And not Rachel, the younger and agreeable one.
Another seven years he worked besides the first seven,
And then married Rachel in a ceremony long in the making.
 If you wish to learn from the genealogy also, learn.
Abraham and Nachor were sons of Terah,
And Haran the eldest, who also died first of them,
Leaving a son, Lot, and a daughter, Melcha,
Whom her uncle Nachor married.
Both in the Syriac and in the Hebrew tongues,
Melcha means “queen”, and Malchos, “king”.
On Melcha her uncle fathered
Many others, and among them Bethuel.
Bethuel, in turn, fathered Laban and Rebecca,
 On whom Isaac fathered Esau and Jacob.
Jacob, having worked for fourteen years,
Had both Leah and Rachel, daughter of Laban,
And also Zelpha and Bilha, who were their handmaidens.
He mated with them, and thus brought forth the twelve patriarchs.
So now you know the story of the two women.
Andrew of Crete, in the Great Canon,
Claims that only “Shepherd” and “Work” must have been said,
“So that you can marry both my daughters,” and that the “fight” was added. However, I cannot see how one could say this:
 For I do not know Jacob to have been a fighter,
Whereas I do know this of Leah, Rachel, Zilpha, and Bilha.
9.33 CONCERNING THE PHRASE “FOR YOU ARE NEITHER MADE OF WOOD NOR OF STONE” (STORY 286)
The simplest ancients conceived that humans
Were made of wood and stone,
All who were of a human race earlier than theirs.
As Homer has Hector say this
To Achilles, not needing me to speak of the wood and stone,
Which maidens and young men say,
When maidens and the young converse.
The saying goes thus, if it is to be cited correctly:
 “For there is nothing at all, whether of wood or of stone,
To those conversing,
As when a maid and a bachelor speak to one another.”
9.34 CONCERNING THE SAYING OF THE ORACLE OF BACIS “O IDLE ONES, WHY ARE YOU STILL SITTING? FLEE THEN TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH” (STORY 287)
When that Persian crown-bearer Xerxes
Came with a heavy fleet and untold foot soldiers,
Campaigning against Attica and all of Greece,
He made the Greeks fear, and changed the order of nature:
He turned the great and huge mount Athos into sea,
And with dual bridge-making the Hellespont into land.
Then the Greeks, greatly terrified,
 Asked the oracle what would happen.
They heard the Oracle of Bacis’ reply:
“O useless ones, why are you still sitting? Flee then to the ends of the earth!”
9.35 CONCERNING THE SIBYL’S SAYING “THE MEN WHO HAVE BYZANTIUM AS THEIR ABODE” (STORY 288)
Some say this was the Sibyl's oracular reply,
Others, that of the Epirote Phanenian oracle.
Another opinion is that it was that of Bacis near Byzantium.
I joined together two parts of the replies,
As a palindrome for a student in Byzantium.
Of the two oracles, I said that the Bacidan
Had prophesied then to the Attics and the Greeks:
 This is answer of the Sibyl, or perhaps the Phanenian,
(Because of Byzantium, it seems more likely to be the Sibyl’s).
It foretold of Diogenes and of the Turks,
Now let us allow the rest to be said, and briefly speak:
“Indeed, at that time wolves will inhabit the land of Bithynia,
By the thought of Zeus, and evil will befall men,
The men who have Byzantium as their abode.”
9.36 CONCERNING THE PHRASE “A GIFT IN RETURN, EXCEPT LIKE THAT WHICH ABRAHAM ONCE BROUGHT” (STORY 289)
We were learning about how Abraham brought his child to God as a gift,
And with fastidious noises set it down.
Then the student sent his own father
 To bring us texts and a gift.
9.37 CONCERNING THE WORDS ECHPEYKES, MYOPS AND ASTRABE (STORY 290)
Echpeykes, generally meaning woeful and bitter,
Received its name from the pine (peuke) tree.
For the pine, as Staphylus the Naucritian says,
Is woefully destroyed, once the top is cut down.
Echpeykes also means anything having a bitter pitch-like taste,
Such as the bitter taste of pitch itself, or that of sap.
So the chief echpeykes words are as I have said.
In rhetorical and clever speech, however, it can signify a sharp sweetness as well.
Once, I spoke, using this word, thus:
 “Let him seek an exchpeyke text and prepare it,
That is, a text which emphasizes the sending away of bitterness.”
A myops is an insect, a tiny creature,
Which brings great pain to nearby cows.
A myops is a diminutive creature, as I have just said, an insect.
It is also a sharp bronze point, which spurs horses to run,
Located in the horse’s heel, in the forward part.
Astrabe is a type of straight wood, used for chariot-boards,
On which the driver leans while driving.
The astrabe got its name from the ancients,
 Since it kept the board straight,
And the driver from falling off.
The more barbaric call it astrape (lightning),
And say it was closer to the wheels.
Others, more barbaric still of the wisest of people,
Say astrabe was the word for the chariot’s shape.
But you should call only the chariot-board’s straight wood astrabe.
Astrabe is also the seat, which, like the other astrabe
Helps the rider sit on the horse’s back.
This seems to me to be the usage of the word today.
 The seat is called astrabe and selma and sella,
And a horse-hedolion and aphedron and hedra
And ephestris and myriad other names.
Ephestris, by the way, happens to be a word for cloak.
9.38 CONCERNING THE ORACLE REGARDING “THESSALIAN HORSES”, ETC. (STORY 291)
The oracular reply concerning the Thessalian horses,
Is mentioned by Maximus in his historical works,
Written down by Gregory the Great.
But the actual text is nowhere to be found, nor did Maximus cite even a fragment of the oracle.
But Theodoritus, in his own book,
On caring for Greek sufferings,
 As I recall, mentions two words of the text:
Patareus as well, in his writings, mentions it,
Saying that the Aegeans in Achaea,
Having defeated the Aeolians in a naval battle,
Donated fifty of the captured enemy ships to the Pythian oracle,
And sent with them people to extol their victory, as well as to learn from the oracle,
“Who among the Greeks are the most manly and brave?”
And he says the Pythia answered with these words,
Which I previously spoke of in the story about Ixion,
Specifically, the part about the Thessalian horses.
 Originally, I thought I had no need to include the oracle here,
But now that I am convinced of it being appropriate,
Come now, listen to me say it again:
“Of all places on the earth Pelasgian Argos is the best,
In horses the Thessalians, in women the Spartans,
And among men those who drink the water of beautiful Arethusa.
But there are still better, those who
Dwell between Tiryns and apple-full Arcadia,
The linen-cuirass wearing Argives, the sharp points of war.
You Aegeans are neither third nor fourth,
 Nor even twelfth, neither in words nor in numbers.”
What I have just said is exactly what the oracle did,
Mentioning how the Aegeans inquired with the oracle.
Callimachus, however, in his own work,
Says it wasn’t the Aegeans, but rather the Megarians.
9.39 CONCERNING THE CYRENEAN SILPHIUM (STORY 292)
The story of Cyrenean silphium awaits you
In the first book, chapter one hundred and two,
And also in the second one, chapter forty eight,
As well as chapter one hundred and chapter nineteen.
So turn there, and read all about it.
9.40 CONCERNING THE PHRASE “QUICKER AND FASTER THAN CELER” (STORY 293)
 The Romans call fast people celeres,
Because of a certain Tyrrhenian named Celer, of whom I speak.
For they say that, when Romulus founded Rome,
Remus, his brother, mocking the construction,
Would often jump over the newly built moat.
While jumping one time, he fell and died in it.
Others say that Romulus killed him with a thrown spear,
Yet others that it was fast Tyrrhenian Celer,
Who killed him and immediately fled to Tyrrhenia.
Because of this, the Romans call any fast person Celer.
 But I, in my elegant and jocular speech,
Though I am slothful and slowest of all walking men,
Have now spoken faster than either Celer or Iphiclus.
9.41 CONCERNING IPHICLUS (STORY 294)
Iphiclus was the son of Phylacus, and father of Protesilaus.
He exceeded all other men of his time in speed,
And it is written of him in stories, how he would run above the corn-fields,
In order not to break up the awns with sheer lightness of his run.
This is written in the first book,
In the forty second chapter.
9.42 CONCERNING THE PHRASE “CLEVER ODYSSEUS AND NESTOR” (STORY 295)
Homer speaks of both clever Odysseus and Nestor
 In his epic.
About Odysseus, in the second book of the Iliad:
“And thus they would speak, each looking at the other:
O how many myriad great things Odysseus has done,
How many excellent plans has he conceived, helmeted in war.”
And Agamemnon has this to say about Nestor,
In various places, and not only in one:
“For these, Father Zeus, Athena, and Apollo,
Let these ten Achaeans be my counsellors,
So that by them the city of lordly Priam
 Be quickly taken by our hands, and sacked.”
This is what the Iliad says about Nestor.
In the Odyssey, he is spoken of again:
“He will speak no lie, for he is very wise.”
9.43 CONCERNING THE PHRASE “HAS A BETTER MEMORY THAN BOTH ISOCRATES THE ORATOR AND DEMETRIUS OF PHALERUM” (STORY 296)
Isocrates was an orator, who also wrote on the art.
Also Theophrastus himself, and earlier Tyrtamus.
Even if I wrote of Demetrius of Phalereum instead Isocrates,
Still they both had much-storied memories in their lives.
For both lived
Over a hundred years, and wrote myriad texts.
 One wrote of kingly things, arts and exhortations,
While Theophrastus wrote again on character,
And fell only one year short of centenarian status.
9.44 CONCERNING THE PHRASE “MOMOS SEE ALL BUT HIMSELF” (STORY 297)
The storytellers say that the Momos and the Lamia
See things pertaining to others, but not those pertaining to themselves.
For the Momos has a double pouch in its shoulders,
And carries his own things in back of him,
And sees things not his own in front of him.
Thus far is written of the Momos. The Lamia, then,
While at home, covers its eyes in a vessel,
 And sees nothing of its own. But when it goes out,
It finally uses it eyes, and sees all.
Lucian wrote all about the Lamia.
9.45 CONCERNING THE PHRASE “MY PHALLINAS”, PHALLINA HAVING SEVERAL MEANINGS (STORY 298)
The phallina is a fish of the seas, cetaceous,
Which is called phallina because it jumps (hallesthai) into the light (phos).
For when it comes out of the sea water,
It is heated up by the rays of the sun. So far about this phallina.
There is also a little creature by the name of phallina,
Which also received its name from jumping into light.
 In my commentary on Lycophron
I have written about this little creature.
There is another creature called phallina,
And also psyche, psora, or paraystoumoros,
Which is commonly called a candelosbestra.
The person has not shown up to take away this cow-like Father (boubalopapas)
In which sacrifice the letter called for seeking of blemishes.
9.46 CONCERNING THE PHRASE “YOU THOUGHT YOUR WISE MEN WERE TELEPHUSES” (STORY 299)
This boubalopapas, looking thus for blemishes,
In order to help the young men to do this, he wrote of it.
He also wrote a truly barbaric comedy,
 About the patriarch Stypes, which foolishly said
That the patriarch’s brain was a Telephus.
My God, how barbaric and dense,
You’re stealing my psyches and phallainas and suchlike,
And writing things like Boubalos and Boubalopapa and barbaric lyrics.
Aristophanes wrote in his comedies,
How an angry Thenon played Telephus.
There, he more expressively and usefully,
Receives Telephus instead of a brain.
For Euripides made a drama out of Telephus,
 Which Aeschylus refuted as having unsound logic.
He also speaks of Telephus received instead of a brain,
And that Telephus was stolen from his own drama.
How then could the patriarch make a drama of Telephus,
As you say, barbarian, of Telephus, as he,
And do you think it was at all speaking of a brain?
That is worthy of a laugh, everyone should try it,
Not the pyraystoumenoi and phalainas and psyches.
9.47 CONCERNING THE STREAMS OF THE NILE (STORY 300)
The Egyptian River Nile flows out into seven mouths,
And waters the whole land with floods.
 Thus it makes it fruitful and productive.
Now, I wrote of the streams of the Nile,
When I should have written of those of the Neiloos or the Neloios.
Or perhaps add an I and write Neilios,
Or add also an O and say: Neilioios.
Neileios is but the form of Neleos with a diphthong,
Just as Neileus is Nelesus with a diphthong.
9.48 CONCERNING THE PHRASE “THE CHATTERING LANGUAGE OF CICADAS AND ATHENIANS” (STORY 301)
Cicadas are chattering creatures,
Which in the heat of summer chatter all the more.
Even if someone were to try and stop these fliers,
 They only become even more chattery and troublesome.
 Thus there is a proverb about chattery people:
“You appear to have quickly surpassed the cicadas.”
And as of chattering cicadas, thus of all chatterers:
The Athenians, like the cicadas, were highly verbose,
While the Spartans, quite the opposite, spoke as little as possible.