The Roman and Greek Questions, by Plutarch, tr. Frank Cole Babbitt, , at sacred-texts.com
30. What is the "Beach of Araenus" in Thrace?
When the Andrians and Chalcidians sailed to Thrace to settle there, they jointly seized the city of Sanê, which was betrayed to them; but when they learned that the barbarians had abandoned Acanthus, they sent out two scouts. When these were approaching the city, they perceived that the enemy had all fled; so the Chalcidian ran forward to take possession of the city for Chalcis, but the Andrian, since he could not cover the distance so rapidly as
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his rival, hurled his spear, and when it was firmly implanted in the city gates, he called out in a loud voice that by his spear the city had been taken into prior possession for the children of the Andrians. As a result of this a dispute arose, and, without going to war, they agreed to make use of Erythraeans, Samians, and Parians as arbitrators concerning the whole matter. But when the Erythraeans and the Samians gave their vote in favour of the Andrians, and the Parians in favour of the Chalcidians, the Andrians, in the neighbourhood of this place, made a solemn vow against the Parians that they would never give a woman in marriage to the Parians nor take one from them. And for this reason they called the place the Beach of Araenus, a although it had formerly been named the Serpent's Beach.
31. Why is it that at the Thesmophoria the Eretrian women cook their meat, not by fire, but by the rays of the sun; and why do they not call upon Calligeneia? b
Is it because it happened that the captive women whom Agamemnon was bringing home from Troy were celebrating the Thesmophoria at this place, but when conditions for sailing suddenly appeared favourable, they put out to sea leaving behind them the sacrifice uncompleted?
32. Who are the Perpetual Sailors among the Milesians?
When the despots associated with Thoas and Damasenor had been overthrown, two political parties came into control of the city, one of which was called Plutis, the other Cheiromacha. c When, accordingly, the men of influence gained the upper hand and
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brought matters into the control of their party, they used to deliberate about matters of the greatest importance by embarking in their ships and putting out to a considerable distance from the land. But when they had come to a final decision, they sailed back; and because of this they acquired the appellation of Perpetual Sailors.
33. Why do the Chalcidians call the neighbourhood of the Beacon "the Young Men's Club"?
They relate that Nauplius, when he was being pursued by the Achaeans, came as a suppliant to the Chalcidians; and on the one hand he defended himself in regard to the indictment brought against him, and on the other hand brought a counter-charge against the Achaeans. The Chalcidians had no intention of surrendering him; but, since they were afraid that he might be slain by treachery, they gave him a guard of young men in the prime of their youth and stationed them in this place, where they lived together and at the same time served as a guard for Nauplius.
34. Who was the man that slew an ox for a his benefactor?
Anchored off the island of Ithaca was a pirate vessel in which there chanced to be an old man with earthenware jars containing pitch. By chance a ferryman of Ithaca, by name Pyrrhias, put off to the ship and rescued the old man without asking for any reward, but because he had been persuaded by the old man and pitied him. He did, however, accept some of the jars, for the old man bade him do so. But when the pirates had departed and there was nothing to fear, the old man led Pyrrhias to the jars,
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and in them showed him much gold and silver mixed with the pitch. So Pyrrhias, suddenly becoming rich, treated the old man well in various ways, and also slew an ox for him. Wherefore men make use of this as a proverbial expression: "No one but Pyrrhias has slain an ox for his benefactor."
35. Why was it the custom for the Bottiaean maidens to chant as they danced, "Let us go to Athens a"?
They relate that the Cretans in accordance with a vow sent a consecrated offering of men to Delphi; but the men who had been sent, when they saw that there was no abundance there, set out from Delphi to found a colony. They settled first in Iapygia, but later occupied this region of Thrace. There were some Athenians included among them; for it appears that Minos did not destroy the young persons whom the Athenians sent him for tribute, but kept them by him as servants. Accordingly, some who were descended from these Athenians and had come to be considered Cretans were included in this company sent to Delphi. Wherefore the daughters of the Bottiaeans, in remembrance of their lineage, were wont to sing in their festivals, "Let us go to Athens."
36. Why is it that the women of the Eleans, when they sing hymns to Dionysus, call upon him to come to them "with the foot of a bull" b? The hymn c runs as follows:
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[paragraph continues] Then they chant twice the refrain: "O worthy bull."
Is it because some address the god as "kine-born" or as "bull "? Or by "ox-foot" do they mean "with thy mighty foot," even as the Poet used "ox-eyed" a to signify "large-eyed," and "bully" b for "loudmouthed"?
Or is it rather because the foot of the bull is harmless, but the part that bears horns is harmful, and thus they call upon the god to come in a gentle and painless manner?
Or is it because many believe that the god was the pioneer in both ploughing and sowing?
37. Why do the people of Tanagra have before their city an Achilleum, that is, a place bearing this name? For it is related that Achilles actually had more enmity than friendship for the city, since he carried off Stratonicê, the mother of Poemander, and slew Acestor, the son of Ephippus. c
While the territory of Tanagra was still inhabited in village communities, Poemander, the father of Ephippus, had been besieged by the Achaeans in the place called Stephon, because of his unwillingness to join their expedition. d But he abandoned that stronghold by night and fortified Poemandria. e
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[paragraph continues] Polycrithus the master-builder, however, who was present, spoke slightingly of the fortifications and, in derision, leaped over the moat. Poemander was enraged and hastened to throw at him a great stone which had been hidden there from ancient days, set aside for use in the ritual of the Nyctelia. a This stone Poemander snatched up in his ignorance, and hurled. He missed Polycrithus, but slew his son Leucippus. According to the law, therefore, he had to depart from Boeotia and become a suppliant at a stranger's hearth. But this was not easy, since the Achaeans had invaded the territory of Tanagra. Accordingly he sent his son Ephippus to appeal to Achilles. Ephippus, by his persuasive words, brought to his father Achilles, as well as Tlepolemus, the son of Heracles, and Peneleös, the son of Hippalcmas, all of them interrelated. Poemander was escorted by them to Chalcis, and there at the house of Elephenor he was purified of the murder. Therefore he honoured these heroes and set apart sacred precincts for them all, and of these the precinct of Achilles has still kept its name.
38. Who are the "Psoloeis" and who the "Oleiae" among the Boeotians?
They relate that the daughters of Minyas, Leucippê and Arsinoê and Alcathoê, becoming insane, conceived a craving for human flesh, and drew lots for their children. b The lot fell upon Leucippê to contribute her son Hippasus to be torn to pieces, and their husbands, who put on ill-favoured garments for very grief and sorrow, were called "Grimy" (Psoloeis);
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but the Minyads themselves were called "Oleiae," that is to say, 'Murderesses.' And even to-day the people of Orchomenus give this name to the women descended from this family; and every year, at the festival of Agrionia, a there takes place a flight and pursuit of them by the priest of Dionysus with sword in hand. Any one of them that he catches he may kill, and in my time the priest Zoïlus killed one of them. But this resulted in no benefit for the people of Orchomenus; but Zoïlus fell sick from some slight sore and, when the wound had festered for a long time, he died. The people of Orchomenus also found themselves involved in some suits for damages and adverse judgements; wherefore they transferred the priesthood from Zoïlus's family and chose the best man from all the citizens to fill the office.
39. Why do the Arcadians stone persons who voluntarily enter the Lycaeon; but if such persons enter through ignorance, they send them away to Eleutherae?
Is it because they were released and set free that this story gained credence, and is the expression "to Free Town" (Eleutherae) of the same sort as "to the land of Sans Souci" and "you will come to the Seat of Satisfaction"?
Or is it in accordance with the legend, since Eleuther and Lebadus were the only sons of Lycaon that had no share in the abomination prepared for Zeus, b but instead they fled to Boeotia, and there is community of citizenship between the people of Lebadeia and the Arcadians, and do they accordingly
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send away to Eleutherae those who involuntarily enter the inviolate sanctuary of Zeus?
Or is it as Architimus a relates in his Arcadian History, that certain men who entered through ignorance were handed over by the Arcadians to the Phliasians, and by the Phliasians to the Megarians, and, as they were being conducted from Megara to Thebes, they were stopped near Eleutherae b by rain and thunder and other signs from heaven? Whence, in fact, some assert that the place acquired the name of Eleutherae.
The tale, however, that no shadow is cast by a person who enters the Lycaeon is not true, although it has acquired widespread credence. c Is it because the air turns to clouds, and lowers darkly upon those who enter? Or is it because he that enters is condemned to death, and the followers of Pythagoras declare that the spirits of the dead cast no shadow, d neither do they blink? Or is it because it is the sun which causes shadow, but the law deprives him that enters of the sunlight?
This too they relate allegorically: he that enters is called a "deer." Wherefore, when Cantharion the Arcadian deserted to the Eleans while they were at war with the Arcadians, and with his booty crossed the inviolate sanctuary, even though he fled to Sparta after peace had been made, the Spartans surrendered him to the Arcadians, since the god ordered them to give back "the deer."
213:a p. 212 Plutarch, or his source, imagined that this meant "Beach of Vowing."
213:b The name of the third and last day of this festival at Athens; probably also a cult title applied to some goddess, perhaps to Demeter.
213:c "Capital and Labour."
215:a Possibly "sacrificed an ox to his benefactor"; but an animal sacrifice to a living man seems incredible.
217:a p. 216 Plutarch (Life of Theseus, chap. xvi. p. 6 E ff.) states that his source for this is Aristotle's Constitution of the Bottiaeans (Frag. 485 (ed. V. Rose)); cf. Edmonds, Lyra Graeca (in L.C.L. iii. 540).
217:b For Dionysus as a bull cf. e.g. Athenaeus 35 E, 38 E.
217:c p. 217 The text is uncertain; Hartman has attempted a reconstruction in Mnemosyne, xli. 217; cf. also the other references in E. Diehl, Anthologia Lyrica Graeca, ii. p. 206. Cf. also Moralia, 364 F; Pausanias, vi. 26. 1; Bergk, Poet. Lyr. Graec. iii. p. 656, or Edmonds, Lyra Graeca (L.C.L. iii. 510).
219:a Homer, Il. i. 551 and often.
219:b βουγάιος, Il. xiii. 824: Od. xviii. 79.
219:c A grandson of Poemander.
219:d Against Troy.
219:e Cf. Pausanias, ix. 20. 1.
221:a p. 220 These rites resembled those of the rending and resurrection of Osiris; cf. Moralia 367 F.
221:b p. 221 Cf. Aelian, Varia Historia, iii. 42; Antonius Liberalis, Metamorphoses, x. Ovid's account (Met. iv. 1 ff.; 389 ff.) is rather different and omits the murder of Hippasus.
223:a Cf. Moralia, 717 A; 291 A supra.
223:b The serving of human flesh. Cf. Ovid, Metamorphoses, p. 223 i. 163 ff. and Frazer's note on Apollodorus, Bibliotheca iii. 8. 1 (L.C.L. vol. i. pp. 390 ff.).
225:a Müller, Frag. Hist. Graec. vol. iv. p. 317.
225:b A town in Attica not far from the borders of Boeotia.
225:c Cf. Pausanias, viii. 38. 6; Polybius, xvi. 12. 7, whose source is Theopompus.
225:d Cf. Moralia, 564 D. See also Dante, Purgatorio, iii. 25–30, 94–97.