« PreviousContinue »
The well-fill'd palace, the perpetual feast,
But Megaclides says that Ulysses is here adapting himself to the times, for the sake of appearing to be of the same disposition as the Phæacians; and that with that view he embraces their luxurious habits, as he had already heard from Alcinous, speaking of his whole nation
To dress, to dance, to sing, our sole delight,
The feast or bath by day, and love by night;
for he thought that that would be the only way by which he could avoid failing in the hopes he cherished. And a similar man is he who recommends Amphilochus his son
Remember thou, my son, to always dwell
In every city cherishing a mind
Like to the skin of a rock-haunting fish;
Agree, but when away you can change your mind.
And Sophocles speaks in a like spirit, in the Iphigenia
As the wise polypus doth quickly change
His hue according to the rocks he's near,
So change your mind and your apparent feelings.
And Theognis says
Imitate the wary cunning of the polypus.
And some say that Homer was of this mind, when he often prefers the voluptuous life to the virtuous one, saying
And now Olympus' shining gates unfold;
The golden goblet crowns with purple wine;
And the same poet represents Menelaus as saying-
And in another place
We sat secure, while fast around did roll
The dance, and jest, and ever-flowing bowl.
And in the same spirit Ulysses, at the court of Alcinous, represents luxury and wantonness as the main end of life.
8. But of all nations the Persians were the first to become notorious for their luxury; and the Persian kings even spent their winters at Susa and their summers at Ecbatana. And
Aristocles and Chares say that Susa derives its name from the seasonable and beautiful character of the place for that what the Greeks call the lily, is called in the Persian language σovorov. But they pass their autumns in Persepolis; and the rest of the year they spend in Babylon. And in like manner the kings of the Parthians spend their spring in Rhagæ, and their winter in Babylon, and the rest of the year at Hecatompylus. And even the very thing which the Persian monarchs used to wear on their heads, showed plainly enough their extreme devotion to luxury. For it was made, according to the account of Dinon, of myrrh and of something called labyzus. And the labyzus is a sweet-smelling plant, and more valuable than myrrh. And whenever, says Dinon, the king dismounts from his chariot, he does not jump down, however small the height from the chariot to the ground may be, nor is he helped down, leaning on any one's hand, but a golden chair is always put by him, and he gets on that to descend; on which account the king's chairbearer always follows him. And three hundred women are his guard, as Heraclides of Cumæ relates, in the first book of his history of Persia. And they sleep all day, that they may watch all night; and they pass the whole night in singing and playing, with lights burning. And very often the king takes pleasure with them in the hall of the Melophori. The Melophori are one of his troops of guards, all Persians by birth, having golden apples (uña) on the points of their spears, a thousand in number, all picked men out of the main body of ten thousand Persians who are called the Immortals. And the king used to go on foot through this hall, very fine Sardian carpets being spread in his road, on which no one but the king ever trod. And when he came to the last hall, then he mounted a chariot, but sometimes he mounted a horse; but on foot he was never seen outside of his palace. And if he went out to hunt, his concubines also went with him. And the throne on which he used to sit, when he was transacting business, was made of gold; and it was surrounded by four small pillars made of gold, inlaid with precious stones, and on them there was spread a purple cloth richly embroidered.
9. But Clearchus the Solensian, in the fourth book of his Lives, having previously spoken about the luxury of the
Medes, and having said that on this account they made eunuchs of many citizens of the neighbouring tribes, adds, "that the institution of the Melophori was adopted by the Persians from the Medes, being not only a revenge for what they had suffered themselves, but also a memorial of the luxury of the bodyguards, to indicate to what a pitch of effeminacy they had come. For, as it seems, the unseasonable and superfluous luxury of their daily life could make even the men who are armed with spears, mere mountebanks." And a little further on he says "And accordingly, while he gave to all those who could invent him any new kind of food, a prize for their invention, he did not, while loading them with honours, allow the food which they had invented to be set before them, but enjoyed it all by himself, and thought this was the greatest wisdom. For this, I imagine, is what is called the brains of Jupiter and of a king at the same time."
But Chares of Mitylene, in the fifth book of his History of Alexander, says "The Persian kings had come to such a pitch of luxury, that at the head of the royal couch there was a supper-room laid with five couches, in which there were always kept five thousand talents of gold; and this was called the king's pillow. And at his feet was another supperroom, prepared with three couches, in which there were constantly kept three thousand talents of silver; and this was called the king's footstool. And in his bed-chamber there was also a golden vine, inlaid with precious stones, above the king's bed." And this vine, Amyntas says in his Posts, had bunches of grapes, composed of most valuable precious stones; and not far from it there was placed a golden bowl, the work of Theodorus of Samos. And Agathocles, in the third book of his History of Cyzicus, says, that there is also among the Persians a water called the golden water, and that it rises in seventy springs; and that no one ever drinks of it but the king alone, and the eldest of his sons. And if any one else drinks of it, the punishment is death.
10. But Xenophon, in the eighth book of his Cyropædia, says "They still used at that time to practise the discipline of the Persians, but the dress and effeminacy of the Medes. But now they disregard the sight of the ancient Persian bravery becoming extinct, and they are solicitous only to preserve the effeminacy of the Medes. And I think it a
good opportunity to give an account of their luxurious habits. For, in the first place, it is not enough for them to have their beds softly spread, but they put even the feet of their couches upon carpets in order that the floor may not present resistance to them, but that the carpets may yield to their pressure. And as for the things which are dressed for their table, nothing is omitted which has been discovered before, and they are also continually inventing something new; and the same is the way with all other delicacies. For they retain men whose sole business it is to invent things of this kind. And in winter it is not enough for them to have their head, and their body, and their feet covered, but on even the tips of their fingers they wear shaggy gloves and finger-stalls; and in summer they are not satisfied with the shade of the trees and of the rocks, but they also have men placed in them to contrive additional means of producing shade." And in the passage which follows this one, he proceeds to say-" But now they have more clothes laid upon their horses than they have even on their beds. For they do not pay so much attention to their horsemanship as to sitting softly. Moreover, they have porters, and breadmakers, and confectioners, and cup-bearers, and men to serve up their meals and to take them away, and men to lull them to sleep and men to wake them, and dressers to anoint them and to rub them, and to get them up well in every respect."
11. The Lydians, too, went to such a pitch of luxury, that they were the first to castrate women, as Xanthus the Lydian tells us, or whoever else it was who wrote the History which is attributed to him, whom Artemon of Cassandra, in his treatise on the Collection of Books, states to have been Dionysius who was surnamed Leather-armed; but Artemon was not aware that Ephorus the historian mentions him as being an older man than the other, and as having been the man who supplied Herodotus with some of his materials. Xanthus, then, in the second book of his Affairs of Lydia, says that Adramyttes, the king of the Lydians, was the first man who ever castrated women, and used female eunuchs instead of male eunuchs. But Clearchus, in the fourth book of his Lives, says "The Lydians, out of luxury, made parks; and having planted them like gardens, made them very shady, thinking it a refinement in luxury if the sun never touched them with its rays at all; and at last they carried
their insolence to such a height, that they used to collect other men's wives and maidens into a place that, from this conduct, got the name of Hagneon, and there ravished them. And at last, having become utterly effeminate, they lived wholly like women instead of like men; on which account their age produced even a female tyrant, in the person of one of those who had been ravished in this way, by name Omphale. And she was the first to inflict on the Lydians the punishment that they deserved. For to be governed and insulted by a woman is a sufficient proof of the severity with which they were treated. Accordingly she, being a very intemperate woman herself, and meaning to revenge the insults to which she herself had been subjected, gave the maiden daughters of the masters to their slaves, in the very same place in which she herself had been ravished. And then having forcibly collected them all in this place, she shut up the mistresses with their slaves.
On which account the Lydians, wishing to soften the bitterness of the transaction, call the place the Woman's Contest -the Sweet Embrace. And not only were the wives of the Lydians exposed to all comers, but those also of the Epizephyrian Locrians, and also those of the Cyprians—and, in fact, those of all the nations who devote their daughters to the lives of prostitutes; and it appears to be, in truth, a sort of reminding of, and revenge for, some ancient insult. So against her a Lydian man of noble birth rose up, one who had been previously offended at the government of Midas; while Midas lay in effeminacy, and luxury, and a purple robe, working in the company of the women at the loom. But as Omphale slew all the strangers whom she admitted to her embraces, he chastised both-the one, being a stupid and illiterate man, he dragged out by his ears; a man who, for want of sense, had the surname of the most stupid of all animals: but the woman
12. And the Lydians were also the first people to introduce the use of the sauce called caruca; concerning the preparation of which all those who have written cookery books have spoken a good deal-namely, Glaucus the Locrian, and Mithecus, and Dionysius, and the two Heraclidæ (who were by birth Syracusans), and Agis, and Epænetus, and Dionysius, and also Hegesippus, and Erasistratus, and Euthydemus, and