Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Turba Lucifugarum

About a year ago I wrote about Turba Lucifugarum, or The Tribe of Daylight-Shunners.

I recently encountered another reference to this tribe, at Athenaeus 12.31.526a-b (tr. J.M. Edmonds):
According to Phylarchus, the Colophonians, who, originally a people of rough and uncouth manners, ran on the rocks of luxury when they became the friends and allies of the Lydians, walked abroad with their hair adorned with an ornament of gold, in the words of Xenophanes:

But they learned useless luxuries of the Lydians while they were free of hateful despotism, and went into the marketplace clad in all-puple robes, went not less than a thousand in all, proudly rejoicing in gold-adorned hair and bedewing their odour with studied anointings;
and so demoralised were they by untimely drunkenness that some of them never saw sun rise or set.

Κολοφώνιοι δ᾽, ὥς φησι Φύλαρχος, τὴν ἀρχὴν ὅντες σκληροὶ ἐν ταῖς ἀγωγαῖς, ἐπεὶ εἰς τρυφὴν ἐξώκειλαν πρὸς Λυδοὺς φιλίαν καὶ συμμαχίαν ποιησάμενοι, προῄεσαν διησκημένοι τὰς κόμας χρυσῷ κόσμῳ, ὡς καὶ Ξενοφάνης φησίν·

Ἀβροσύνας δὲ μαθόντες ἀνωφελέας παρὰ Λυδῶν
  ὄφρα τυραννίης ἦσαν ἄνευ στυγερῆς,
ᾔεσαν εἰς ἀγορὴν παναλουργέα φάρε' ἔχοντες,
  οὐ μείους ὥσπερ χίλιοι, εἰς ἐπίπαν,
αὐχαλέοι, χαίτησιν ἀγαλλόμεν' εὐπρεπέεσσιν
  ἀσκητοῖσ' ὀδμὴν χρίμασι δευόμενοι.

Οὕτω δ' ἐξελύθησαν διὰ τὴν ἄκαιρον μέθην ὥστε τινὲς αὐτῶν οὔτε ἀνατέλλοντα τὸν ἥλιον οὔτε δυόμενον ἑωράκασιν.
Several passages in the earlier post mention never seeing the sun rising or setting.

Update: Thanks to Laura Gibbs, who writes to say that there is a recent article on this subject: James Ker, "Nocturnal Writers in Imperial Rome: The Culture of Lucubratio," Classical Philology 99 (2004) 209–42.

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