Tuesday, May 03, 2016


Worship Silver and Gold

Menander, fragment 838 (my translation):
Epicharmus says that the gods are
winds, water, earth, sun, fire, stars;
but I supposed that useful gods
for us were silver and gold alone.
Set them up in your house        5
and pray for what you want; you'll have everything—
farm, houses, servants, silver plate,
friends, judges, witnesses. Only give;
for you'll have the gods themselves as servants.

ὁ μὲν Ἐπίχαρμος τοὺς θεοὺς εἶναι λέγει
ἀνέμους, ὕδωρ, γῆν, ἥλιον, πῦρ, ἀστέρας·
ἐγὼ δ' ὑπέλαβον χρησίμους εἶναι θεοὺς
τἀργύριον ήμῖν καὶ τὸ χρυσίον μόνους.
ἱδρυσάµενος τούτους γὰρ εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν,        5
εὖξαι τί βούλει· πάντα σοι γενήσεται,
ἀγρός, οἰκίαι, θεράποντες, ἀργυρώµατα,
φίλοι, δικασταί, µάρτυρες. μόνον δίδου·
αυτούς γάρ έξεις τούς θεούς ύπηρέτας.
Text and apparatus from R. Kassel and C. Austin, edd., Poetae Comici Graeci, VI.2: Menander, Testimonia et Fragmenta apud scriptores servata (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1998), p. 397:

For the nature gods listed in line 2, cf. Herodotus 1.131.2 (on the Persians; my translation):
They sacrifice to sun and moon and earth and fire and water and winds.

θύουσι δὲ ἡλίῳ τε καὶ σελήνῃ καὶ γῇ καὶ πυρὶ καὶ ὕδατι καὶ ἀνέμοισι.
In line 9 at first I thought μόνον δίδου (only give) meant something like "pay money down" for the things that you want. But the passages cited in the Testimonialapparat of Kassel and Austin suggest that the phrase instead means "make offerings to the two gods silver and gold" so that they will be propitious. See Euripides, Medea 964 (cited but not quoted by Kassel and Austin; my translation):
They say that gifts persuade even gods.

πείθειν δῶρα καὶ θεοὺς λόγος.

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