Saturday, December 17, 2016

TFBT; Reception of Ancient Greek Prose


Today ya'll translated Xenophon 225 "From there he marched into Thymbrion. There was a spring alongside the road. On this Midas is said to have caught the Satyr." and commented "We think the Satyr is Silenus: at least, he is illustrated below the passage, and is described in the LSJ as a "lewd, goatish fellow" 

This got me to thinking about Thucydides.  Supposedly his book does not include the gods, and yet he says tHe Spartans visit Delphi and ask about attacking Athens. The god says yes, and that he will be with them. Anyone whose read the opening of the Iliad know what happens next. The Spartans enter Attica and Apollo’s bowstring starts humming and shafts of plague sail into the city.  Within the year of Pericles famous speech he, all his family and a large portion of the Athenians were dead by Apollo's shafts.  Thucydides has to write in terms that his audience understand and expected. Plus foreshadowing is a common literally devise

So I find it interesting than Xenophon who seems to write without including gods  as characters in his stories pulls over  at a little roadside spring  to introduce us to Silenus and remind us of the story of another king, Midas of the golden touch

The story of Midas and Silenus is "Midas entertained him generously, and gave him a guide to conduct him to Liber's [Dionysos'] company. Because of this favour, Father Liber gave Midas the privilege of asking him for whatever he wanted. Midas asked that whatever he touched should become gold." (Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 191 ) You probably know or can imagine all the various multiform tragedies that follow.

My thought is; if Thcydides was trying to forewarns us of the doom of Athens by reminding us what Apollo can do before a beseiged city, is Xenophon likewise warning us of an approaching rash request on the part of Cyrus or they hosting of a man nor diety?


  1. I am not sure this is exactly what Thucydides meant. In the Iliad, it is the besieging army that is hit by the shafts of Apollo, like the British at Gallipoli. In the siege of Athens, it is the defenders who are hit. The situation is opposite.

  2. Maya

    That dawned on me to. I guess better stated That Apollo being with you means your opponents are going to get the shaft!

    Dud you see my note about you joining Hour 25?


  3. No, I didn't. Thank you! Where can I find it?