Sunday, November 13, 2016
Manifestations of Civil Unrest
Finding the city in this plight, Athenodorus for a time tried to induce both Boethus and his partisans to change their course; but since they would abstain from no act of insolence, he used the authority given him by Caesar, condemned them to exile, and expelled them. These at first indicted him with the following inscription on the walls: "Work for young men, counsels for the middle-aged, and flatulence for old men"; and when he, taking the inscription as a joke, ordered the following words to be inscribed beside it, "thunder for old men," someone, contemptuous of all decency and afflicted with looseness of the bowels, profusely bespattered the door and wall of Athenodorus' house as he was passing by it at night. Athenodorus, while bringing accusations in the assembly against the faction, said: "One may see the sickly plight and the disaffection of the city in many ways, and in particular from its excrements."The graffito was a parody of a Greek proverb (tr. Glenn W. Most):
τοιαύτην δὲ τὴν πόλιν καταλαβὼν ὁ Ἀθηνόδωρος, τέως μὲν ἐπεχείρει λόγῳ μετάγειν κἀκεῖνον καὶ τοὺς συστασιώτας· ὡς δ᾿ οὐκ ἀπείχοντο ὕβρεως οὐδεμιᾶς, ἐχρήσατο τῇ δοθείσῃ ὑπὸ τοῦ Καίσαρος ἐξουσίᾳ καὶ ἐξέβαλεν αὐτούς, καταγνοὺς φυγήν. οἱ δὲ πρῶτον μὲν κατετοιχογράφησαν αὐτοῦ τοιαῦτα·
ἔργα νέων, βουλαὶ δὲ μέσων, πορδαὶ δὲ γερόντων.ἐπεὶ δ᾿ ἐκεῖνος ἐν παιδιᾶς μέρει δεξάμενος ἐκέλευσε παρεπιγράψαι "—βρονταὶ δὲ γερόντων," καταφρονήσας δέ τις τοῦ ἐπιεικοῦς, εὔλυτον τὸ κοιλίδιον ἔχων, προσέρρανε πολὺ τῇ θύρᾳ καὶ τῷ τοίχῳ, νύκτωρ παριὼν τὴν οἰκίαν. ὁ δὲ τῆς στάσεως κατηγορῶν ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ, τὴν νόσον τῆς πόλεως, ἔφη, καὶ τὴν καχεξίαν πολλαχόθεν σκοπεῖν ἔξεστι, καὶ δὴ καὶ ἐκ τῶν διαχωρημάτων.
Deeds are of the young, counsels of the middle-aged, prayers of the old.See Renzo Tosi, Dictionnaire des sentences latines et grecques, tr. Rebecca Lenoir (Grenoble: Jérôme Millon, 2010), #1081, pp. 795-796.
ἔργα νέων, βουλαὶ δὲ μέσων, εὐχαὶ δὲ γερόντων.
Labels: noctes scatologicae