Wednesday, February 15, 2017


A City of Immigrants

Lucian, Hermotimus 24 (tr. K. Kilburn):
He told me much about the city, if I remember, and in particular this, that all the inhabitants were aliens and foreigners, not one was a native; there were even many barbarians among the citizens, as well as slaves, cripples, dwarfs, and paupers—in a word anyone who wanted to take part in the city; for property, apparel, height, good looks, family, brilliant ancestry, were not required by law for enrolment; on the contrary, they gave no place in their customs to them; no, intelligence, a desire for what is good, industry, perseverance, a refusal to give in or be weakened by the many hardships encountered on the way, were enough for a man to become a citizen; whoever showed these qualities and kept on going all the way to the city was a citizen there and then equal to them all; inferior or superior, noble or common, bond or free, simply did not exist and were not mentioned in the city.

ἔλεγε δ᾿ οὖν περὶ τῆς πόλεως, εἴ γε μέμνημαι, ἄλλα τε πολλὰ καὶ δὴ καὶ τάδε, ὡς ξύμπαντες μὲν ἐπήλυδες καὶ ξένοι εἶεν, αὐθιγενὴς δὲ οὐδὲ εἷς, ἀλλὰ καὶ βαρβάρους ἐμπολιτεύεσθαι πολλοὺς καὶ δούλους καὶ ἀμόρφους καὶ μικροὺς καὶ πένητας, καὶ ὅλως μετέχειν τῆς πόλεως τὸν βουλόμενον· τὸν γὰρ δὴ νόμον αὐτοῖς οὐκ ἀπὸ τιμημάτων ποιεῖσθαι τὴν ἐγγραφὴν οὐδ᾿ ἀπὸ σχημάτων ἢ μεγέθους ἢ κάλλους οὐδ᾿ ἀπὸ γένους τοῦ τῶν λαμπρῶν ἐκ προγόνων, ἀλλὰ ταῦτα μὲν οὐδὲ νομίζεσθαι παρ᾿ αὐτοῖς, ἀποχρῆν δ᾿ ἑκάστῳ πρὸς τὸ πολίτην γενέσθαι σύνεσιν καὶ ἐπιθυμίαν τῶν καλῶν καὶ πόνον καὶ τὸ λιπαρὲς καὶ τὸ μὴ ἐνδοῦναι μηδὲ μαλακισθῆναι πολλοῖς τοῖς δυσχερέσι κατὰ τὴν ὁδὸν ἐντυγχάνοντα, ὡς ὅστις ἂν ταῦτα ἐπιδείξηται καὶ διεξέλθῃ πορευόμενος ἄχρι πρὸς τὴν πόλιν, αὐτίκα μάλα πολίτην ὄντα τοῦτον ὅστις ἂν ᾖ καὶ ἰσότιμον ἅπασι· τὸ δὲ χείρων ἢ κρείττων ἢ εὐπατρίδης ἢ ἀγεννὴς ἢ δοῦλος ἢ ἐλεύθερος οὐδὲ ὅλως εἶναι ἢ λέγεσθαι ἐν τῇ πόλει.

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