The Roman and Greek Questions, by Plutarch, tr. Frank Cole Babbitt, , at sacred-texts.com
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1. Who were the "dusty-feet" and the "directors" in Epidaurus?
There were one hundred and eighty men who directed the State. From these they used to elect councillors whom they called "directors." But the majority of the populace spent their life in the country. They were called "dusty-feet" a since, as one may conjecture, they were recognized by their dust-covered feet whenever they came down to the city.
2. Who was the "woman that rode on a donkey" at Cumae?
Any woman taken in adultery they used to bring into the market-place and set her on a certain stone in plain sight of everyone. In like manner they then proceeded to mount her upon a donkey, and when she had been led about the circuit of the entire city, she was required again to take her stand upon the same stone, and for the rest of her life to continue in disgrace, bearing the name "donkey-rider." After this ceremony they believed that the stone was unclean and they used ritually to purify it.
The citizens of Cumae had also a certain office called the Guards. The man who held this office used to watch the prison most of the time, but he
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came to the nocturnal assemblies of the council and led out the kings by the hand and kept them out, until by secret ballot the council had decided on their case, whether they had done wrong or no.
3. Who is She that Kindles the Fire (hypekkaustria) a among the people of Soli?
This is the name which they give to the priestess of Athena because she performs certain sacrifices and ceremonies to avert evil.
4. Who were the Forgetful Ones (Amnemones) at Cnidus, and who was the Dismisser b (Aphester)?
They were wont to employ sixty men chosen from the nobles, and appointed for life, as overseers and preliminary advisers in matters of the greatest importance. They were called the Forgetful Ones, one might conjecture, because they could not be held to account for their actions; unless, indeed, it was because they were men who remembered many things. c He who asked them their opinions was the Dismisser.
5. Who are the "good" among the Arcadians and the Spartans?
When the Spartans had come to terms with the Tegeans, they made a treaty and set up in common a pillar by the Alpheius. On this, among other matters, was inscribed: "The Messenians must be expelled from the country; it shall not be lawful to make men good." d Aristotle, e then, in explaining this, states that it means that no one shall be put
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to death because of assistance given to the Spartan party in Tegea.
6. Who is "he that selects barley" (krilhologos) among the Opuntians?
For sacrifices of very ancient origin most of the Greeks used to employ barley, which the citizens offered as first-fruits of the harvest. Accordingly they called the officer who presided at the sacrifices and brought these first-fruits the Barley-selector. They had two priests: one appointed for sacrifices to the gods, the other for sacrifices to the spirits.
7. What were the "floating clouds "?
They used to call clouds "floating" which particularly threatened rain and were in constant motion, as Theophrastus has stated in the fourth book of his Meteorology. The passage reads thus: "Since also these floating clouds and these compact clouds, which are immovable and very white in colour, exhibit a certain difference of substance which is filled neither with water nor with wind."
8. Who is the "near-dweller" (platioiketas) among the Boeotians?
This is the name they give in the Aeolian dialect to persons who dwell in the next house or occupy adjoining property. signifying that they hold land near at hand. I shall add one phrase from the Edict of the Guardians of the Law, although there are several more … a
9. Who is the Consecrator (hosiōtēr) among the Delphians and why do they call one of the months "Bysios"?
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They call the victim that is sacrificed Consecrator whenever an Holy One a is appointed. There are five Holy Ones, who hold office for life; they do a great many things with the co-operation of the oracle-interpreters and with them take part in the holy rites, since they are thought to have descended from Deucalion.
The month "Bysios," as many think, is the month of growth (physios); for it begins the spring and during it many plants spring up and come into bloom. But this is not the truth of the matter, for Delphians do not use b in place of ph (as Macedonians do who say "Bilip" and "balacros" and "Beronicê"), but in place of p; thus they naturally say "broceed" for "proceed" and "bainful" for "painful." Accordingly "Bysios" is "pysios," the month of oracular inquiry, in which men ask questions and obtain responses from the god; for this is the legitimate and traditional procedure. In this month, then, oracles used to be given and the seventh day of this month they consider the birthday of the god. b They call this day the day of Many Utterances (Polyphthoös) not because they then bake cakes (phthoïs), c but because it is a day when many inquire of the god and receive many oracles. For only recently have monthly oracles been given out to inquirers; formerly the prophetic priestess was wont to give responses but once a year on this day, as Callisthenes d and Anaxandrides have recorded.
177:a p. 176 This was the serf-class liberated by the tyrants: cf. Cambridge Ancient History, vol. iii. p. 554.
179:a p. 178 W. R. Halliday, in Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, xxxvi. 165–177, suggests that "cohen" (= priest) may be contained in this word.
179:b Grote thus connected aphestēr with the Spartan apostatēr p. 179 of Life of Lycurgus, chap. vi. (43 c); but the matter is very doubtful; cf. van Herwerden, Lex. Supp. Graec.
179:c On the locus a non lucendo principle, as Halliday well suggests; or else ἀμ-μνήμονες, as van Herwerden supposes.
179:d Cf. χρηστὲ χαῖρε on Greek tombstones.
179:e Frag. 592 (V. Rose); cf. 277 B–C, supra.
181:a p. 182 The copyist seems to have omitted the quotation.
183:a p. 182 Cf. Moralia, 365 A, 437 A.
183:b Ibid. 717 D; for the connexion of the number seven with the birth of Apollo see Callimachus, Hymn iv. 2.51 ff.
183:c p. 183 Cf. Athenaeus, 647 D, 502 B.
183:d Cf. Jacoby, Frag. der griech. Hist. 124 F 49.