Sacred Texts  Classics  Lucian  Fowler Index  Index  Previous  Next 



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 1?

p. 124

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 Sicyon 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.

p. 125

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.



123:1 Homer, Il. xxiii. 724. When Ajax and Odysseus have wrestled for some time without either's producing any impression, and the spectators are getting p. 124 tired of it, the former proposes a change in tactics. "Let us hoist--try you with me or I with you." The idea evidently is that each in turn is to offer only a passive resistance, and let his adversary try to fling him thus.' Leaf.

Next: XII