Title: On Constitutions || Author: Heraclides Lembus || Category: history || Date: -336
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Heraclides Lembus, On Constitutions

Heraclides Lembus, On Constitutions, translated by Mervin Dilts, Heraclidis Lembi Excerpta Politiarum, 1971, placed online by Duke University under a Creative Commons License. (2nd c. BC excerpts from Aristotle and his circle ca. 330 BC). This text has 114 tagged references to 68 ancient places.


§ 9  Constitution of the Lacedemonians Some attribute the whole constitution of the Lacedemonians to Lycurgus. Alcman was a household slave of Agesidas. Since he was naturally clever, he was set free and turned out to be a poet.

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§ 10  Lycurgus was in Samos. He received the poetry of Homer from the descendants of Creophylus and was the first to bring it to the Peloponnesus. Finding a great deal of lawlessness in his fatherland and Charillus a tyrannical ruler, he changed (the constitution). He established armistice, an advantage for all. It is said that he also introduced the crypteia. In accordance with this institution even now they go out by day and conceal themselves, but at night they use weapons to kill as many of the Helots as is expedient. They (the Lacedemonians) also appoint Ephors, who have supreme authority. They rise for no one except a King and an Ephor. Whenever a King dies, nothing is sold for three days and the market place is sprinkled with chaff.

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§ 11  The Lacedemonians honored the Lesbian singer (Terpander), for the god ordered them to listen to him when he was inspired.

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§ 12  It is shameful for the Lacedemonians to sell land, and it is not permitted from the inheritance. Women in Lacedemon are not allowed to wear ornaments, to let their hair grow long, or to wear gold. They bring up their children on empty stomachs to train them to be able to endure hunger. They also train them to steal, and they beat whoever is caught in order that from this treatment they can endure toil and be alert among the enemy. They practice speaking briefly from childhood, and later they practice with wit both jesting and being objects of jest. Graves are modest and the same for all. no one bakes among them, for they do not harvest wheat but eat barley-meal.

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§ 14  Minos is said to have been the first to establish the Cretan constitution. He was both an effective and a good lawgiver. During the ninth year, he made his revision of the laws. Homer implies that the Cretan is the most ancient of constitutions when he speaks of 'their well-inhabited cities,' and Archilochus, while ridiculing someone, says, 'but the Cretan law is taught.'

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§ 15  In Crete boys live with one another, wearing a himation winter and summer. They are collected into bands (agelai) and over each one there is a leader whom they call an agelates, and he musters them wherever he wishes and leads them out to hunt. To a great extent they go to bed with one another. According to custom they box and cudgel, and whenever they meet in these contests, some play the flute and cithara for them. And they are habituated to manliness and perseverance. They only learn the rudiments of reading and writing, and these in moderation. They seem to have been the first to engage in pederasty, and this is not shameful among them. Whenever they make conquests, they lead them to the mountains or to their own lands and feast there for sixty days, for a longer period is not permitted. And the lover gives clothes and, among other gifts, an ox. All the Cretans sit upon chairs. They begin by serving food to the guests. After the guests, they allot four portions to the ruler, one of which they allot also to the others, a second official (portion), a third that of his household, and a fourth that of the chattels. In Crete there is generally much hospitality to strangers, to whom they assign seats of dignity.

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§ 19  Formerly Corinth was known as Ephyra until the time of Corinthos, from whom it derives its name. Also, Bacchis was the third king. Although he was lame and shabby in appearance, he ruled well and like a statesman. He had three daughters and seven sons, who so strengthened their family that those descended from them were called 'Bacchiadae instead of Heraclidae.

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§ 20  Periander was the first to change the constitution by virtue of his having a body guard and not allowing people to live in the city, and also by entirely outlawing the possession of slaves and luxuries. But he was moderate in other respects: in not levying a tax on anyone, in being satisfied with a tax on goods from the market and the harbor, and in being neither unjust nor overbearing, but hating knavery. He had all prostitutes thrown into the sea. At the last, he established a council, which did not allow spending beyond one's income.

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§ 21  Pantaleon, who was overbearing and severe, ruled among them (Elis). He castrated ambassadors who had come to him, and compelled them to eat their testicles.

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§ 22  At first the island Tenedos was called Leucophrys; at a later time, before the Trojan War, Tennes settled it after he quarreled with his father. It is said that because his stepmother slandered him and a certain fluteplayer testified that Tennes raped her, he was put into a box by his father Cycnus and thrown into the sea, but was washed safely ashore on the island. Because of the perjury of the fluteplayer, it is not lawful for a fluteplayer to go into the temple. That Amaurus, who was lame in his feet, ruled this island.

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§ 24  They say that King Tennes established a certain law whereby if one caught an adulterer, it was legal to kill him with an axe. And when his own son was apprehended and when the captor asked the king what was to be done, the king replied, 'Obey the law.' Therefore on one side of the coin is engraved an axe, on the other, the face of a man and a woman with the same neck. On account of this, it is said concerning severe men, 'To have been cut off by the Tenedian axe.'

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§ 25  Paros settled the island Paros with people from Arcadia. A man named Corax killed the poet Archilochus, and they say the Pythia said to Corax, 'Leave the temple.' But he said, 'Yet I am free from pollution, lord, for I killed in hand to hand combat.'

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§ 26  The island used to be called Hydrousa and nymphs are said to have inhabited it earlier, but since a lion frightened them, they went to Carystus. For this reason, the promontory of Ceos is called Leon (lion). Ceos, who came from Naupactus, settled the island, and they named it after him.

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§ 27  They say that Aristaeus learned how to care for sheep and cattle from the nymphs, and from the Brisae, bee-keeping. There was a devastation of plants and animals because of the blasts of the etesian winds.

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§ 28  Aristeides was concerned with the good conduct of women. In ancient times boys and girls used to drink water until marriage. Men show no sorrow for the dead in respect to dress or cutting their hair, but the mother of a dead youth spends a year in mourning.

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§ 29  Since the island has a healthy climate and men and especially the women reach old age, they do not wait for death when they are old, but before they become ill or disabled in any way, some poison themselves with poppy, others with hemlock.

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§ 30  It is said that in the beginning, Samos was lonely and contained a number of animals with a loud cry. The animals were called neides; the island was named Parthenia and later Dryousa. Their king was Ancaeus, about whom a servant said while planting grape vines, 'Much lies between the cup and the edge of the lip.' That a white swallow appeared among the Samians, no smaller than a partridge.

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§ 32  Pherecydes of Syros was consumed by lice and died in Samos. And when Pythagoras came, he extended to him through an opening a finger bare of flesh.

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§ 33  Aesop, the writer of fables, was famous then. He was Thracian by race; he was first the slave of Xanthus, and he was granted his freedom by Idmon the wise.

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§ 34  Syloson desolated the state of the Samians, and from this was derived the proverb, 'There is open space because of Syloson.'

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§ 35  One of the Samians, Theogenes, was well-endowed, but otherwise profligate and evil. He fled his fatherland, spent time in Athens with Euripides, seduced his wife, and having made him an accomplice, persuaded the Athenians to send two thousand men to Samos. They came and exiled everyone.

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§ 36  Telephanes ruled and planted the land of the Cymaeans. The Lydians, who were being severely ruled, learned from someone of a certain man in Cymae and summoned him to the office of king. This man happened to be a slave for a wainwright. The Lydians paid his ransom to the wainwright and took him along, but one of the men of Cymae, who had a contract with him for a wagon, restrained him. Although many encouraged him not to hinder them, he did not let (the slave go) and jeering at them besides, said that he put a high value on having a wagon made by the king of the Lydians.

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§ 37  They say that Hermodice, the wife of Midas, king of the Phrygians, was surpassingly beautiful, but she was also wise and accomplished in handicraft and was the first to strike a coin for the Cymaeans.

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§ 38  It is their custom for neighbors to make reparations for theft; therefore, they lose few things, for all are equally on guard. And for this reason, Hesiod seems to say, 'A city would not be lost unless one's neighbor were evil.' Cyrus destroyed the state and put them under monarchy.

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§ 39  Pheidon, a notable man, gave more men a share in the government; he made a law which compelled everyone to raise a horse. A certain Prometheus, who was active and good at speaking, gave thousands a share in the government.

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§ 40  The Eretrians erected a likeness of Diagoras, who had died in Corinth while he was on his way to Sparta.

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§ 41  Peparethus abounds in wine and trees and produces grain.

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§ 42  If the Lepreatae apprehend adulterers, they lead them around the city for three days in fetters and disenfranchise them for life. They make the woman stand in the market-place for eleven days ungirt in a transparent chiton and disenfranchise her.

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§ 43  The Lycians spend their lives as brigands. They don't employ laws, but customs, and from ancient times they have been ruled by women. They sell those convicted of perjury and confiscate their possessions.

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§ 44  The Tyrrhenians have very many skills. They all lie down beneath the same himation with their wives, even if some (guests) are present. And they treat kindly the strangers who stay (with them). Whenever anyone owes a debt and does not repay it, boys follow him carrying an empty sack to shame him.

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§ 45  When the Molossi plundered the temple of Artemis and carried off the golden crown of the statue, they made a sacrifice in return for it. Although the Cephallenes replaced the crown with another, the goddess cast it aside and it was found lying on the ground. The Cephallenes were named after Cephalus.

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§ 46  In the beginning the Heniochi inhabited Phasis. They were cannibals and stripped the skin off men. Then the Milesians, and they are hospitable so that they furnish victims of shipwreck with supplies, give them three minas, and send them off.

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§ 47  Amorgos produces much wine, as well as olive oil and fruit.

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§ 48  The Leucanians are hospitable and just. Lamiscus was their king, whose middle toe was like that of a wolf.

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§ 49  In the beginning Samothrace was called Leucania because it is white; later, when the Thracians took possession, it was called Thrace. After they left seven hundred years later, the Samians settled it, since they had been banished from their country, and they called it Samothrace.

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§ 50  They were much distressed by excessive misfortune. Somewhere Archilochus says, 'I lament the seas' evils, not those of the Magnesians.'

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§ 51  And they raise horses in the same manner as the Colophonians, since they have flat land.

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§ 52  (Constitution of the Delphians) Phamis was king, and they apprehended his sons as temple robbers while they were making a sacrifice. They say this also happened to Aesop, for he was killed on a charge of temple robbery after a golden vessel had been discovered in his bedding.

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§ 53  In the land of the Athamanes, the women farm while the men graze cattle.

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§ 54  The Cytherians eat cooked cheese and figs. The island produces much, including honey and wine. They are fond of both money and toil.

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§ 55  Chalcidians, who left Euripus because of famine, settled Rhegium. They also brought along with them Messenians from the Peloponnesus, who happened to be in Macistus because of the outrages on the Spartan maidens. They first settled near the grave of one of the children of Aeolus, Iocastus, who, they say, died from a serpent's wound. And they received an oracle where a female covered a male. And when they saw a vine embracing an oak. they perceived that this was the place. They called the place where they founded the city Rhegium, after some native hero. They established an aristocratic constitution, for one thousand men were selected according to the value of their property to administer everything. They employed the laws of Charondas the Catanaean. Anaxilas the Messenian was their tyrant. And he entertained the Greeks after winning a race with mules at Olympia. And someone ridiculed him saying, 'What would he have done if he had won with horses?' Also Simonides composed the victory ode, 'Hail daughters of storm-swift horses. 'There were also other tyrannical men among the Rhegians.

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§ 56  The Corcyraeans summoned Diomedes, and he killed a serpent in their country. He and a great party of men came to Iapygia and fought with those who were waging war against the Brundisians. and he gained honor. Constitution of the Tarantines

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§ 57  When the Lacedemonians were fighting with the Messenians and while the men were away, their wives gave birth to some children. The fathers suspected that they were illegitimate and called them 'Partheniae'. They were vexed.

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§ 59  Earlier they used to call Minoa, which is in Sicily, Macara. Then Minos, hearing that Daedalus was there, came with a party of men and advancing to the Lycus river seized this city, and after he conquered the barbarians, named the city after himself and imposed Cretan laws upon it.

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§ 60  Zenocritus, a poet who was blind from birth, was a Locrian, as was Erasippus. Among them it is not permitted to mourn for those who have died, but whenever they have a burial, they feast. Among them there are no retail shops, but farmers sell their own produce.

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§ 61  If anyone is caught stealing, his eyes are gouged out. The son of Zaleucus was caught and when the Locrians let him go. Zaleucus did not allow this, but he gouged out one of his own eyes and one of his son's.

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§ 62  After Polemarchus swore falsely, he escaped from the Corinthian fleet. And they say that when he was sleeping one night, weasels attacked him, and in utter despair he killed himself. The Chalcidians on Athos also settled Kleonai; they left Elymnius because of mice, they report, which consumed their possessions and even iron.

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§ 63  The Chalcidians have a law that someone younger than fifty cannot hold office or serve on an embassy.

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§ 64  In Cephallenia a son of Promnesus ruled and he was cruel, and he did not allow them more than two festivals nor to live more than ten days of the month in the city. He himself knew carnally the virgins before they married. Antenor, who had put on a woman's clothing and armed himself with a dagger, got into the bed and killed him. The people honored him and made him their leader, and the virgin for whom he had attacked became famous. It is also said that Homer crossed over from Tyrrhenia to Cephallenia and Ithaca, when it is said that he lost his eyesight because of an illness.

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§ 65  They say that the island of Rhodes was formerly covered by the sea and that later it appeared with a dry surface. It was called Ophiousa because of the great number of snakes on it.

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§ 66  They say Ephesus was named after one of the Amazons, but others say after Heracles' yielding to the Amazons the area from Mycale to Pitane.

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§ 67  Some say Phocaea was named after the leader Phocus, others (from the fact) that they saw a seal coming to dry land.

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§ 68  In the beginning Croton settled Croton.

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§ 69  Phalaris was a tyrant of Acragas and exceeded all in lawlessness, for he not only killed many, but he also resorted to illegal punishments. He put some men into boiling cauldrons, and others into craters of fire. He put still others into a brazen bull and burned them alive. The people punished him, and they also burned his mother and friends. After him, Alcamenes took over the government, and after him, Alcander, a good man, governed. And they flourished to the extent that they had himations fringed with purple.

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§ 70  The god told Cephalus, when he was consulting the oracle about children, to have sexual intercourse with whomever he should encounter first. He met a bear and through intercourse with the bear (arctus), he begot a woman, by whom it is said that Arceisius was appropriately named.

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§ 71  A ferryman named Pyrrhias ferried robbers and (their) prisoner, an old man with some pitch. And he bought the old man and the pitch from the robbers, since the old man begged. There was gold concealed in the pitch. And when he became rich he is said to have sacrificed an ox for the old man. Thence the proverb, 'No one ever sacrificed an ox for a benefactor, except Pyrrhias.'

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§ 74  The island of Icarus used to be called Ichthyousa because of the beauty of the fish in it. Icarus came there and the island was named after him. The myth is that he flew from Crete. Others say he fled with his father in a trireme because of having shown Theseus the way into the labyrinth.

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§ 76  Among the Thespians, it was shameful to learn a trade and to spend time in agriculture. Therefore the majority of them were poor, and they were deeply in debt to the Thebans, who were thrifty.

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END

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