§ 3 III Menippus. Amphilochus. Trophonius
MEN: Now I wonder how it is that you two dead men have been honoured with temples and taken for prophets; those silly mortals imagine you are Gods.
AMP: How can we help it, if they are fools enough to have such fancies about the dead?
MEN: Ah, they would never have had them, though, if you had not been charlatans in your lifetime, and pretended to know the future and be able to foretell it to your clients.
TRO: Well, Menippus, Amphilochus can take his own line, if he likes; as for me, I am a Hero, and do give oracles to any one who comes down to me. It is pretty clear you were never at Lebadea, or you would not be so incredulous.
MEN: What do you mean? I must go to Lebadea, swaddle myself up in absurd linen, take a cake in my hand, and crawl through a narrow passage into a cave, before I could tell that you are a dead man, with nothing but knavery to differentiate you from the rest of us? Now, on your seer-ship, what is a Hero? I am sure I don't know.
TRO: He is half God, and half man.
MEN: So what is neither man (as you imply) nor God, is both at once? Well, at present what has become of your diviner half?
TRO: He gives oracles in Boeotia.
MEN: What you may mean is quite beyond me; the one thing I know for certain is that you are dead — the whole of you.
§ 9 IX Simylus. Polystratus
SIMYLUS: So here you are at last, Polystratus; you must be something very like a centenarian.
SI: And what sort of a life have you had of it, these thirty years? you were about seventy when I died.
POL: Delightful, though you may find it hard to believe.
SI: It is surprising that you could have any joy of your life — old, weak, and childless, moreover.
POL: In the first place, I could do just what I liked; there were still plenty of handsome boys and dainty women; perfumes were sweet, wine kept its bouquet, Sicilian feasts were nothing to mine.
SI: This is a change, to be sure; you were very economical in my day.
POL: Ah, but, my simple friend, these good things were presents — came in streams. From dawn my doors were thronged with visitors, and in the day it was a procession of the fairest gifts of earth.
SI: Why, you must have seized the crown after my death.
POL: Oh no, it was only that I inspired a number of tender passions.
SI: Tender passions, indeed! what, you, an old man with hardly a tooth left in your head! Pol. Certainly; the first of our townsmen were in love with me. Such as you see me, old, bald, blear-eyed, rheumy, they delighted to do me honour; happy was the man on whom my glance rested a moment.
SI: Well, then, you had some adventure like Phaon's, when he rowed Aphrodite across from Chios; your God granted your prayer and made you young and fair and lovely again.
POL: No, no; I was as you see me, and I was the object of all desire.
SI: Oh, I give it up.
POL: Why, I should have thought you knew the violent passion for old men who have plenty of money and no children.
SI: Ah, now I comprehend your beauty, old fellow; it was the Golden Aphrodite bestowed it.
POL: I assure you, Simylus, I had a good deal of satisfaction out of my lovers; they idolized me, almost. Often I would be coy and shut some of them out. Such rivalries! such jealous emulations!
SI: And how did you dispose of your fortune in the end?
POL: I gave each an express promise to make him my heir; he believed, and treated me to more attentions than ever; meanwhile I had another genuine will, which was the one I left, with a message to them all to go hang.
SI: Who was the heir by this one? one of your relations, I suppose.
POL: Not likely; it was a handsome young Phrygian I had lately bought.
POL: About twenty.
SI: Ah, I can guess his office.
POL: Well, you know, he deserved the inheritance much better than they did; he was a barbarian and a rascal; but by this time he has the best of society at his beck. So he inherited; and now he is one of the aristocracy; his smooth chin and his foreign accent are no bars to his being called nobler than Codrus, handsomer than Nireus, wiser than Odysseus.
SI: Well, I don't mind; let him be Emperor of Greece, if he likes, so long as he keeps the property away from that other crew.
§ 10 X Charon. Hermes. Various Shades
CH: I'll tell you how things stand. Our craft, as you see, is small, and leaky, and three-parts rotten; a single lurch, and she will capsize without more ado. And here are all you passengers, each with his luggage. If you come on board like that, I am afraid you may have cause to repent it; especially those who have not learnt to swim.
HERM: Then how are we to make a trip of it?
CH: I'll tell you. They must leave all this nonsense behind them on shore, and come aboard in their skins. As it is, there will be no room to spare. And in future, Hermes, mind you admit no one till he has cleared himself of encumbrances, as I say. Stand by the gangway, and keep an eye on them, and make them strip before you let them pass.
HERM: Very good. Well, Number One, who are you?
MEN: Menippus. Here are my wallet and staff; overboard with them. I had the sense not to bring my cloak.
HERM: Pass on, Menippus; you're a good fellow; you shall have the seat of honour, up by the pilot, where you can see every one. — Here is a handsome person; who is he?
CHAR: Charmoleos of Megara; the irresistible, whose kiss was worth a thousand pounds.
HERM: That beauty must come off, — lips, kisses, and all; the flowing locks, the blushing cheeks, the skin entire. That's right. Now we're in better trim; — you may pass on. — And who is the stunning gentleman in the purple and the diadem?
LAM: I am Lampichus, tyrant of Gela.
HERM: And what is all this splendour doing here, Lampichus?
LAM: How! would you have a tyrant come hither stripped?
HERM: A tyrant! That would be too much to expect. But with a shade we must insist. Off with these things.
LAM: There, then: away goes my wealth.
HERM: Pomp must go too, and pride; we shall be overfreighted else.
LAM: At least let me keep my diadem and robes.
HERM: No, no; off they come!
LAM: Well? That is all, as you see for yourself.
HERM: There is something more yet: cruelty, folly, insolence, hatred.
LAM: There then: I am bare.
HERM: Pass on. — And who may you be, my bulky friend?
DAM: Damasias the athlete.
HERM: To be sure; many is the time I have seen you in the gymnasium.
DAM: You have. Well, I have peeled; let me pass.
HERM: Peeled! my dear sir, what, with all this fleshy encumbrance? Come, off with it; we should go to the bottom if you put one foot aboard. And those crowns, those victories, remove them.
DAM: There; no mistake about it this time; I am as light as any shade among them.
HERM: That's more the kind of thing. On with you. — Crato, you can take off that wealth and luxury and effeminacy; and we can't have that funeral pomp here, nor those ancestral glories either; down with your rank and reputation, and any votes of thanks or inscriptions you have about you; and you need not tell us what size your tomb was; remarks of that kind come heavy.
CRA: Well, if I must, I must; there's no help for it.
HERM: Hullo! in full armour? What does this mean? and why this trophy? A General. I am a great conqueror; a valiant warrior; my country's pride.
HERM: The trophy may stop behind; we are at peace; there is no demand for arms. — Whom have we here? whose is this knitted brow, this flowing beard? 'Tis some reverend sage, if outside goes for anything; he mutters; he is wrapped in meditation.
MEN: That's a philosopher, Hermes; and an impudent quack not the bargain. Have him out of that cloak; you will find something to amuse you underneath it.
HERM: Off with your clothes first; and then we will see to the rest. My goodness, what a bundle: quackery, ignorance, quarrelsomeness, vainglory; idle questionings, prickly arguments, intricate conceptions; humbug and gammon and wishy-washy hair-splittings without end; and hullo! why here's avarice, and self-indulgence, and impudence! luxury, effeminacy and peevishness! — Yes, I see them all; you need not try to hide them. Away with falsehood and swagger and superciliousness; why, the three-decker is not built that would hold you with all this luggage. A Philosopher. I resign them all, since such is your bidding.
MEN: Have his beard off too, Hermes; only look what a ponderous bush of a thing! There's a good five pounds' weight there.
HERM: Yes; the beard must go.
PHIL: And who shall shave me?
HERM: Menippus here shall take it off with the carpenter's axe; the gangway will serve for a block.
MEN: Oh, can't I have a saw, Hermes? It would be much better fun.
HERM: The axe must serve. — Shrewdly chopped! — Why, you look more like a man and less like a goat already.
MEN: A little off the eyebrows?
HERM: Why, certainly; he has trained them up all over his forehead, for reasons best known to himself. — Worm! what, snivelling? afraid of death? Oh, get on board with you.
MEN: He has still got the biggest thumper of all under his arm.
HERM: What's that?
MEN: Flattery; many is the good turn that has done him.
PHIL: Oh, all right, Menippus; suppose you leave your independence behind you, and your plain — speaking, and your indifference, and your high spirit, and your jests! — No one else here has a jest about him.
HERM: Don't you, Menippus! you stick to them; useful commodities, these, on shipboard; light and handy. — You rhetorician there, with your verbosities and your barbarisms, your antitheses and balances and periods, off with the whole pack of them.
RHET: Away they go.
HERM: All's ready. Loose the cable, and pull in the gangway; haul up the anchor; spread all sail; and, pilot, look to your helm. Good luck to our voyage! — What are you all whining about, you fools? You philosopher, late of the beard, — you're as bad as any of them.
PHIL: Ah, Hermes: I had thought that the soul was immortal.
MEN: He lies: that is not the cause of his distress.
HERM: What is it, then?
MEN: He knows that he will never have a good dinner again; never sneak about at night with his cloak over his head, going the round of the brothels; never spend his mornings in fooling boys out of their money, under the pretext of teaching them wisdom.
PHIL: And pray are you content to be dead?
MEN: It may be presumed so, as I sought death of my own accord. — By the way, I surely heard a noise, as if people were shouting on the earth?
HERM: You did; and from more than one quarter. — There are people running in a body to the Town-hall, exulting over the death of Lampichus; the women have got hold of his wife; his infant children fare no better, — the boys are giving them handsome pelting. Then again you hear the applause that greets the orator Diophantus, as he pronounces the funeral oration of our friend Crato. Ah yes, and that's Damasias's mother, with her women, striking up a dirge. No one has tear for you, Menippus; your remains are left in peace. Privileged person!
MEN: Wait a bit: before long you will hear the mournful howl of dogs, and the beating of crows' wings, as they gather to perform my funeral rites.
HERM: I like your spirit. — However, here we are in port. Away with you all to the judgement-seat; it is straight ahead. The ferryman and I must go back for a fresh load.
MEN: Good voyage to you, Hermes. — Let us be getting on; what are you all waiting for? We have got to face the judge, sooner or later; and by all accounts his sentences are no joke; wheels, rocks, vultures are mentioned. Every detail of our lives will now come to light!
§ 11 XI Crates. Diogenes
CRA: Did you know Moerichus of Corinth, Diogenes? A shipowner, rolling in money, with a cousin called Aristeas, nearly as rich. He had a Homeric quotation: — Wilt thou heave me? shall I heave thee?
DIOG: What was the point of it?
CRA: Why, the cousins were of equal age, expected to succeed to each other's wealth, and behaved accordingly. They published their wills, each naming the other sole heir in case of his own prior decease. So it stood in black and white, and they vied with each other in showing that deference which the relation demands. All the prophets, astrologers, and Chaldean dream-interpreters alike, and Apollo himself for that matter, held different views at different times about the winner; the thousands seemed to incline now to Aristeas's side, now to Moerichus's.
DIOG: And how did it end? I am quite curious.
CRA: They both died on the same day, and the properties passed to Eunomius and Thrasycles, two relations who had never had a presentiment of it. They had been crossing from Sikyon to Cirrha, when they were taken aback by a squall from the north-west, and capsized in mid-channel.
DIOG: Cleverly done. Now, when we were alive, we never had such designs on one another. I never prayed for Antisthenes's death, with a view to inheriting his staff — though it was an extremely serviceable one, which he had cut himself from a wild olive; and I do not credit you, Crates, with ever having had an eye to my succession; it included the tub, and a wallet with two pints of lupines in it.
CRA: Why, no; these things were superfluities to me — and to yourself, indeed. The real necessities you inherited from Antisthenes, and I from you; and in those necessities was more grandeur and majesty than in the Persian Empire.
DIOG: You allude to — — —
CRA: Wisdom, independence, truth, frankness, freedom.
DIOG: To be sure; now I think of it, I did inherit all this from Antisthenes, and left it to you with some addition.
CRA: Others, however, were not interested in such property; no one paid us the attentions of an expectant heir; they all lad their eyes on gold, instead.
DIOG: Of course; they had no receptacle for such things as we could give; luxury had made them so leaky — as full of holes as a worn-out purse. Put wisdom, frankness, or truth into them, and it would have dropped out; the bottom of the bag would have let them through, like the perforated cask into which those poor Danaids are always pouring. Gold, on the other hand, they could grip with tooth or nail or somehow.
CRA: Result: our wealth will still be ours down here; while they will arrive with no more than one penny, and even that must be left with the ferryman.
§ 12 XII Alexander. Hannibal. Minos. Scipio
ALEX: Libyan, I claim precedence of you. I am the better man.
HAN: Pardon me.
ALEX: Then let Minos decide.
MI: Who are you both?
ALEX: This is Hannibal, the Carthaginian: I am Alexander, the son of Philip.
MI: Bless me, a distinguished pair! And what is the quarrel about?
ALEX: It is a question of precedence. He says he is the better general: and I maintain that neither Hannibal nor (I might almost add) any of my predecessors was my equal in strategy; all the world knows that.
MI: Well, you shall each have your say in turn: the Libyan first.
HAN: Fortunately for me, Minos, I have mastered Greek since I have been here; so that my adversary will not have even that advantage of me. Now I hold that the highest praise is due to those who have won their way to greatness from obscurity; who have clothed themselves in power, and shown themselves fit for dominion. I myself entered Spain with a handful of men, took service under my brother, and was found worthy of the supreme command. I conquered the Celtiberians, subdued Western Gaul, crossed the Alps, overran the valley of the Po, sacked town after town, made myself master of the plains, approached the bulwarks of the capital, and in one day slew such a host, that their finger-rings were measured by bushels, and the rivers were bridged by their bodies. And this I did, though I had never been called a son of Ammon; I never pretended to be a god, never related visions of my mother; I made no secret of the fact that I was mere flesh and blood. My rivals were the ablest generals in the world, commanding the best soldiers in the world; I warred not with Medes or Assyrians, who fly before they are pursued, and yield the victory to him that dares take it. Alexander, on the other hand, in increasing and extending as he did the dominion which he had inherited from his father, was but following the impetus given to him by Fortune. And this conqueror had no sooner crushed his puny adversary by the victories of Issus and Arbela, than he forsook the traditions of his country, and lived the life of a Persian; accepting the prostrations of his subjects, assassinating his friends at his own table, or handing them over to the executioner. I in my command respected the freedom of my country, delayed not to obey her summons, when the enemy with their huge armament invaded Libya, laid aside the privileges of my office, and submitted to my sentence without a murmur. Yet I was a barbarian all unskilled in Greek culture; I could not recite Homer, nor had I enjoyed the advantages of Aristotle's instruction; I had to make a shift with such qualities as were mine by nature. — It is on these grounds that I claim the pre-eminence. My rival has indeed all the lustre that attaches to the wearing of a diadem, and — I know not — for Macedonians such things may have charms: but I cannot think that this circumstance constitutes a higher claim than the courage and genius of one who owed nothing to Fortune, and everything to his own resolution.
MI: Not bad, for a Libyan. — Well, Alexander, what do you say to that?
ALEX: Silence, Minos, would be the best answer to such confident self-assertion. The tongue of Fame will suffice of itself to convince you that I was a great prince, and my opponent a petty adventurer. But I would have you consider the distance between us. Called to the throne while I was yet a boy, I quelled the disorders of my kingdom, and avenged my father's murder. By the destruction of Thebes, I inspired the Greeks with such awe, that they appointed me their commander-in-chief; and from that moment, scorning to confine myself to the kingdom that I inherited from my father, I extended my gaze over the entire face of the earth, and thought it shame if I should govern less than the whole. With a small force I invaded Asia, gained a great victory on the Granicus, took Lydia, Ionia, Phrygia, — in short, subdued all that was within my reach, before I commenced my march for Issus, where Darius was waiting for me at the head of his myriads. You know the sequel: yourselves can best say what was the number of the dead whom on one day I dispatched hither. The ferryman tells me that his boat would not hold them; most of them had to come across on rafts of their own construction. In these enterprises, I was ever at the head of my troops, ever courted danger. To say nothing of Tyre and Arbela, I penetrated into India, and carried my empire to the shores of Ocean; I captured elephants; I conquered Porus; I crossed the Tanais, and worsted the Scythians — no mean enemies — in a tremendous cavalry engagement. I heaped benefits upon my friends: I made my enemies taste my resentment. If men took me for a god, I cannot blame them; the vastness of my undertakings might excuse such a belief. But to conclude. I died a king: Hannibal, a fugitive at the court of the Bithynian Prusias — fitting end for villany and cruelty. Of his Italian victories I say nothing; they were the fruit not of honest legitimate warfare, but of treachery, craft, and dissimulation. He taunts me with self-indulgence: my illustrious friend has surely forgotten the pleasant time he spent in Capua among the ladies, while the precious moments fleeted by. Had I not scorned the Western world, and turned my attention to the East, what would it have cost me to make the bloodless conquest of Italy, and Libya, and all, as far West as Gades? But nations that already cowered beneath a master were unworthy of my sword. — I have finished, Minos, and await your decision; of the many arguments I might have used, these shall suffice.
SCI: First, Minos, let me speak.
MI: And who are you, friend? and where do you come from?
SCI: I am Scipio, the Roman general, who destroyed Carthage, and gained great victories over the Libyans.
MI: Well, and what have you to say?
SCI: That Alexander is my superior, and I am Hannibal's, having defeated him, and driven him to ignominious flight. What impudence is this, to contend with Alexander, to whom I, your conqueror, would not presume to compare myself! MI: Honestly spoken, Scipio, on my word! Very well, then: Alexander comes first, and you next; and I think we must say Hannibal third. And a very creditable third, too.
§ 14 XIV Philip. Alexander
PHIL: You cannot deny that you are my son this time, Alexander; you would not have died if you had been Ammon's.
ALEX: I knew all the time that you, Philip, son of Amyntas, were my father. I only accepted the statement of the oracle because I thought it was good policy.
PHIL: What, to suffer yourself to be fooled by lying priests?
ALEX: No, but it had an awe-inspiring effect upon the barbarians. When they thought they had a God to deal with, they gave up the struggle; which made their conquest a simple matter.
PHIL: And whom did you ever conquer that was worth conquering? Your adversaries were ever timid creatures, with their bows and their targets and their wicker shields. It was other work conquering the Greeks: Boeotians, Phocians, Athenians; Arcadian hoplites, Thessalian cavalry, javelin-men from Elis, peltasts of Mantinea; Thracians, Illyrians, Paeonians; to subdue these was something. But for gold-laced womanish Medes and Persians and Chaldaeans, — why, it had been done before: did you never hear of the expedition of the Ten Thousand under Clearchus? and how the enemy would not even come to blows with them, but ran away before they were within bow-shot?
ALEX: Still, there were the Scythians, father, and the Indian elephants; they were no joke. And my conquests were not gained by dissension or treachery; I broke no oath, no promise, nor ever purchased victory at the expense of honour. As to the Greeks, most of them joined me without a struggle; and I dare say you have heard how I handled Thebes.
PHIL: I know all about that; I had it from Clitus, whom you ran through the body, in the middle of dinner, because he presumed to mention my achievements in the same breath with yours. They tell me too that you took to aping the manners of your conquered Medes; abandoned the Macedonian cloak in favour of the candys, assumed the upright tiara, and exacted oriental prostrations from Macedonian freemen! This is delicious. As to your brilliant matches, and your beloved Hephaestion, and your scholars in lions' cages, — the less said the better. I have only heard one thing to your credit: you respected the person of Darius's beautiful wife, and you provided for his mother and daughters; there you acted like a king.
ALEX: And have you nothing to say of my adventurous spirit, father, when I was the first to leap down within the ramparts of Oxydracae, and was covered with wounds?
PHIL: Not a word. Not that it is a bad thing, in my opinion, for a king to get wounded occasionally, and to face danger at the head of his troops: but this was the last thing that you were called upon to do. You were passing for a God; and your being wounded, and carried off the field on a litter, bleeding and groaning, could only excite the ridicule of the spectators: Ammon stood convicted of quackery, his oracle of falsehood, his priests of flattery. The son of Zeus in a swoon, requiring medical assistance! who could help laughing at the sight? And now that you have died, can you doubt that many a jest is being cracked on the subject of your divinity, as men contemplate the God's corpse laid out for burial, and already going the way of all flesh? Besides, your achievements lose half their credit from this very circumstance which you say was so useful in facilitating your conquests: nothing you did could come up to your divine reputation.
ALEX: The world thinks otherwise. I am ranked with Heracles and Dionysus; and, for that matter, I took Aornos, which was more than either of them could do.
PHIL: There spoke the son of Ammon. Heracles and Dionysus, indeed! You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Alexander; when will you learn to drop that bombast, and know yourself for the shade that you are?
§ 24 XXIV Diogenes. Mausolus
DIOGENES: Why so proud, Carian? How are you better than the rest of us?
MAUSOLUS: Sinopean, to begin with, I was a king; king of all Caria, ruler of many Lydians, subduer of islands, conqueror of well-nigh the whole of Ionia, even to the borders of Miletus. Further, I was comely, and of noble stature, and a mighty warrior. Finally, a vast tomb lies over me in Halicarnassus, of such dimensions, of such exquisite beauty as no other shade can boast. Thereon are the perfect semblances of man and horse, carved in the fairest marble; scarcely may a temple be found to match it. These are the grounds of my pride: are they inadequate?
DIOG: Kingship — beauty — heavy tomb; is that it?
MAUS: It is as you say.
DIOG: But, my handsome Mausolus, the power and the beauty are no longer there. If we were to appoint an umpire now on the question of comeliness, I see no reason why he should prefer your skull to mine. Both are bald, and bare of flesh; our teeth are equally in evidence; each of us has lost his eyes, and each is snub-nosed. Then as to the tomb and the costly marbles, I dare say such a fine erection gives the Halicarnassians something to brag about and show off to strangers: but I don't see, friend, that you are the better for it, unless it is that you claim to carry more weight than the rest of us, with all that marble on the top of you.
MAUS: Then all is to go for nothing? Mausolus and Diogenes are to rank as equals?
DIOG: Equals! My dear sir, no; I don't say that. While Mausolus is groaning over the memories of earth, and the felicity which he supposed to be his, Diogenes will be chuckling. While Mausolus boasts of the tomb raised to him by Artemisia, his wife and sister, Diogenes knows not whether he has a tomb or no — the question never having occurred to him; he knows only that his name is on the tongues of the wise, as one who lived the life of a man; a higher monument than yours, vile Carian slave, and set on firmer foundations.
§ 27 XXVII Diogenes. Antisthenes. Crates
DIOG: Now, friends, we have plenty of time; what say you to a stroll? we might go to the entrance and have a look at the new-comers — what they are and how they behave.
ANT: The very thing. It will be an amusing sight — some weeping, some imploring to be let go, some resisting; when Hermes collars them, they will stick their heels in and throw their weight back; and all to no purpose.
CRA: Very well; and meanwhile, let me give you my experiences on the way down.
DIOG: Yes, go on, Crates; I dare say you saw some entertaining sights.
CRA: We were a large party, of which the most distinguished were Ismenodorus, a rich townsman of ours, Arsaces, ruler of Media, and Oroetes the Armenian. Ismenodorus had been murdered by robbers going to Eleusis over Cithaeron, I believe. He was moaning, nursing his wound, apostrophizing the young children he had left, and cursing his foolhardiness. He knew Cithaeron and the Eleutherae district were all devastated by the wars, and yet he must take only two servants with him — with five bowls and four cups of solid gold in his baggage, too. Arsaces was an old man of rather imposing aspect; he expressed his feelings in true barbaric fashion, was exceedingly angry at being expected to walk, and kept calling for his horse. In point of fact it had died with him, it and he having been simultaneously transfixed by a Thracian pikeman in the fight with the Cappadocians on the Araxes. Arsaces described to us how he had charged far in advance of his men, and the Thracian, standing his ground and sheltering himself with his buckler, warded off the lance, and then, planting his pike, transfixed man and horse together.
ANT: How could it possibly be done simultaneously?
CRA: Oh, quite simple. The Median was charging with his thirty-foot lance in front of him; the Thracian knocked it aside with his buckler; the point glanced by; then he knelt, received the charge on his pike, pierced the horse's chest — the spirited beast impaling itself by its own impetus — , and finally ran Arsaces through groin and buttock. You see what happened; it was the horse's doing rather than the man's. However, Arsaces did not at all appreciate equality, and wanted to come down on horseback. As for Oroetes, he was so tender-footed that he could not stand, far less walk. That is the way with all the Medes — once they are off their horses, they go delicately on tiptoe as if they were treading on thorns. He threw himself down, and there he lay; nothing would induce him to get up; so the excellent Hermes had to pick him up and carry him to the ferry; how I laughed!
ANT: When I came down, I did not keep with the crowd; I left them to their blubberings, ran on to the ferry, and secured a comfortable seat for the passage. Then as we crossed, they were divided between tears and sea-sickness, and gave me a merry time of it.
DIOG: You two have described your fellow passengers; now for mine. There came down with me Blepsias, the Pisatan usurer, Lampis, an Acarnanian freelance, and the Corinthian millionaire Damis. The last had been poisoned by his son, Lampis had cut his throat for love of the courtesan Myrtium, and the wretched Blepsias is supposed to have died of starvation; his awful pallor and extreme emaciation looked like it. I inquired into the manner of their deaths, though I knew very well. When Damis exclaimed upon his son, 'You only have your deserts,' I remarked, — 'an old man of ninety living in luxury yourself with your million of money, and fobbing off your eighteen-year son with a few pence! As for you, sir Acarnanian' — he was groaning and cursing Myrtium — , 'why put the blame on Love? it belongs to yourself; you were never afraid of an enemy — took all sorts of risks in other people's service — and then let yourself be caught, my hero, by the artificial tears and sighs of the first wench you came across.' Blepsias uttered his own condemnation, without giving me time to do it for him: he had hoarded his money for heirs who were nothing to him, and been fool enough to reckon on immortality. I assure you it was no common satisfaction I derived from their whinings. But here we are at the gate; we must keep our eyes open, and get the earliest view. Lord, lord, what a mixed crowd! and all in tears except these babes and sucklings. Why, the hoary seniors are all lamentation too; strange! has madam Life given them a love-potion? I must interrogate this most reverend senior of them all. — Sir, why weep, seeing that you have died full of years? has your excellency any complaint to make, after so long a term? Ah, but you were doubtless a king. Pauper. Not so.
DIOG: A provincial governor, then? Pauper. No, nor that.
DIOG: I see; you were wealthy, and do not like leaving your boundless luxury to die. Pauper. You are quite mistaken; I was near ninety, made a miserable livelihood out of my line and rod, was excessively poor, childless, a cripple, and had nearly lost my sight.
DIOG: And you still wished to live? Pauper. Ay, sweet is the light, and dread is death; would that one might escape it!
DIOG: You are beside yourself, old man; you are like a child kicking at the pricks, you contemporary of the ferryman. Well, we need wonder no more at youth, when age is still in love with life; one would have thought it should court death as the cure for its proper ills. — And now let us go our way, before our loitering here brings suspicion on us: they may think we are planning an escape.
DIALOGUES OF THE GODS III Zeus. Hermes Zeus. Hermes, you know Inachus's beautiful daughter?
HERM: I do. Io, you mean?
ZEUS: Yes; she is not a girl now, but a heifer.
HERM: Magic at work! how did that come about?
ZEUS: Hera had a jealous fit, and transformed her. But that is not all; she has thought of a new punishment for the poor thing. She has put a cowherd in charge, who is all over eyes; this Argus, as he is called, pastures the heifer, and never goes to sleep.
HERM: Well, what am I to do?
ZEUS: Fly down to Nemea, where the pasture is, kill Argus, take Io across the sea to Egypt, and convert her into Isis. She shall be henceforth an Egyptian Goddess, flood the Nile, regulate the winds, and rescue mariners.
XIV Hermes. Apollo
HER: Why so sad, Apollo?
AP: Alas, Hermes, — my love!
HER: Oh; that's bad. What, are you still brooding over that affair of Daphne?
NO: I grieve for my beloved; the Laconian, the son of Oibalus.
HERM: Hyacinth? he is not dead?
HER: Who killed him? Who could have the heart? That lovely boy!
AP: It was the work of my own hand.
HERM: You must have been mad!
AP: Not mad; it was an accident.
HERM: Oh? and how did it happen?
AP: He was learning to throw the quoit, and I was throwing with him. I had just sent my quoit up into the air as usual, when jealous Zephyr (damned be he above all winds! he had long been in love with Hyacinth, though Hyacinth would have nothing to say to him) — Zephyr came blustering down from Taygetus, and dashed the quoit upon the child's head; blood flowed from the wound in streams, and in one moment all was over. My first thought was of revenge; I lodged an arrow in Zephyr, and pursued his flight to the mountain. As for the child, I buried him at Amyclae, on the fatal spot; and from his blood I have caused a flower to spring up, sweetest, fairest of flowers, inscribed with letters of woe. — Is my grief unreasonable?
HERM: It is, Apollo. You knew that you had set your heart upon a mortal: grieve not then for his mortality.
§ 29 XXIX Hermes. Maia
HER: Mother, I am the most miserable god in Heaven.
MA: Don't say such things, child.
HERM: Am I to do all the work of Heaven with my own hands, to be hurried from one piece of drudgery to another, and never say a word? I have to get up early, sweep the dining-room, lay the cushions and put all to rights; then I have to wait on Zeus, and take his messages, up and down, all day long; and I am no sooner back again (no time for a wash) than I have to lay the table; and there was the nectar to pour out, too, till this new cup-bearer was bought. And it really is too bad, that when every one else is in bed, I should have to go off to Pluto with the Shades, and play the usher in Rhadamanthus's court. It is not enough that I must be busy all day in the wrestling-ground and the Assembly and the schools of rhetoric, the dead must have their share in me too. Leda's sons take turn and turn about betwixt Heaven and Hades — I have to be in both every day. And why should the sons of Alcmena and Semele, paltry women, why should they feast at their ease, and I — the son of Maia, the grandson of Atlas — wait upon them? And now here am I only just back from Sidon, where he sent me to see after Europa, and before I am in breath again — off I must go to Argos, in quest of Danae, 'and you can take Boeotia on your way,' says father, 'and see Antiope.' I am half dead with it all. Mortal slaves are better off than I am: they have the chance of being sold to a new master; I wish I had the same!
MA: Come, come, child. You must do as your father bids you, like a good boy. Run along now to Argos and Boeotia; don't loiter, or you will get a whipping. Lovers are apt to be hasty.