Tuesday, August 02, 2016


A Naughty Bit in Xenophon's Anabasis?

Crystal Clear: The Autobiographies of Sir Lawrence and Lady Bragg (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), pp. 295-296 (autobiography of Lady Bragg, née Alice Hopkinson):
Of course my chief activity was preparing myself for Cambridge, as I had to take 'Little-Go' in the spring.77 This entrance examination is now abolished but in those days it included French, Paley's Evidence of Christianity, mathematics, Latin and Greek.78 In some of these subjects I had qualified at school and others, like Paley's Evidence, I could do by myself. What I had to have help with was maths, because I was hopeless at it, and Greek, because I had never done it. The whole thing was absurd, as one could, I believe, pass on 33% and, with the Latin and Greek papers, you could have dictionaries. Somehow or other I had to acquaint myself with Greek grammar, St Mark's gospel, Prometheus Bound, Xenophon's Anabasis and all in a few months. My father in the matter of our education never left a stone unturned to get us the best possible help. He therefore went to the university for advice and was recommended to the noted university coach, a Mr Grime, who was persuaded to give me individual lessons in Greek and maths.79

Mr Grime was a strange looking man with a rather bald, domed head and a huge, drooping red moustache; I went to him in the lunch hour twice a week. I soon found he was proof against all coaxing and feminine wiles. When I could not do my algebra equations, I looked at him appealingly and suggested that we should do them together. 'Now Miss Hopkinson, that won't do at all, you must sit there and try. I shall leave the room and give you ten minutes'; so I suppose I did them. As to Greek, I one day caused him some embarrassment. We were translating Xenophon's Anabasis and he asked me if there was anything I did not understand. 'Well,' I said, `I understand all right, but why on earth should the Greek army take beautiful painted boys in front of them into battle? What could they want with them?'

'You are using an unabridged edition, there's nothing about such a thing in mine', replied Mr Grime. 'We'll leave that alone, and change your book please.'

Seeing there was some mystery, I pressed on.

'Can't you explain?'


'All right,' I said, 'I'll ask my father tonight.'

'Undoubtedly the best thing to do' were Mr Grime's last words.

77 Little-Go was a special examination in Cambridge for students prior to or shortly after matriculation, to enable the university to verify the student's quality. It was abolished in 1960.

78 William Paley (1743-1805) was an English clergyman and philosopher who wrote several works dealing with the existence of God.

79 Presumably this was J.E. Grime, who in 1912 established Grime's Manchester Tutorial College Ltd. at 327 Oxford Road.
What is the passage in question from Xenophon's Anabasis? After a quick search, the only candidate I could find (not a very close match) was 5.4.32 (tr. Carleton L. Brownson):
And when the Greeks, as they proceeded, were among the friendly Mossynoecians, they would exhibit to them fattened children of the wealthy inhabitants, who had been nourished on boiled nuts and were soft and white to an extraordinary degree, and pretty nearly equal in length and breadth, with their backs adorned with many colours and their fore parts all tattooed with flower patterns.

ἐπεὶ δὲ πορευόμενοι ἐν τοῖς φίλοις ἦσαν, ἐπεδείκνυσαν αὐτοῖς παῖδας τῶν εὐδαιμόνων σιτευτούς, τεθραμμένους καρύοις ἑφθοῖς, ἁπαλοὺς καὶ λευκοὺς σφόδρα καὶ οὐ πολλοῦ δέοντας ἴσους τὸ μῆκος καὶ τὸ πλάτος εἶναι, ποικίλους δὲ τὰ νῶτα καὶ τὰ ἔμπροσθεν πάντα ἐστιγμένους ἀνθέμια.
In the school edition of John T. White, The Fifth Book of Xenophon's Anabasis. With a Vocabulary (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1879), this passage is not omitted, but the following sentence (5.4.33) is:
These Mossynoecians wanted also to have intercourse openly with the women who accompanied the Greeks, for that was their own fashion.

ἐζήτουν δὲ καὶ ταῖς ἑταίραις ἅς ἦγον οἱ Ἕλληνες, ἐμφανῶς συγγίγνεσθαι· νόμος γὰρ ἦν οὗτός σφισι.
I don't see Xenophon's Anabasis listed in the index of Stephen Harrison and Christopher Stray, edd., Expurgating the Classics: Editing Out in Greek and Latin (London: Bristol Classical Press, 2012).

Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

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