Monday, January 10, 2022


I Will Not Be a Slave

Plutarch, Sayings of Spartans: Anonymous 38 (= Moralia 234 B-C; tr. Frank Cole Babbitt, with his note):
A Spartan boy, being taken captive by Antigonus the king and sold, was obedient in all else to the one who had bought him, that is, in everything which he thought fitting for a free person to do, but when his owner bade him bring a chamber-pot, he would not brook such treatment, saying, "I will not be a slave"; and when the other was insistent, he went up upon the roof, and saying, "You will gain much by your bargain," he threw himself down and ended his life.c

c Cf. Moralia, 242 D (30), infra. This story is repeated by Philo Judaeus, Every Virtuous Man is Free, chap. xvii. (882 c); Seneca, Epistulae Moral. no. 77 (x.1.14), and is referred to by Epictetus, i.2.

παῖς Σπαρτιάτης αἰχμαλωτισθεὶς ὑπ᾽ Ἀντιγόνου τοῦ βασιλέως καὶ πραθεὶς τὰ μὲν ἄλλα πάντα ὑπήκοος ἦν τῷ πριαμένῳ, ὅσα ᾤετο προσήκειν ἐλευθέρῳ ποιεῖν· ὡς δὲ προσέταξεν ἀμίδα κομίζειν, οὐκ ἠνέσχετο εἰπών, "οὐ δουλεύσω." ἐνισταμένου δὲ ἐκείνου, ἀναβὰς ἐπὶ τὸν κέραμον καὶ εἰπών, "ὀνήσῃ τῆς ὠνῆς," ἔβαλεν ἑαυτὸν κάτω καὶ ἐτελεύτα.

ὀνήσῃ Wyttenbach: εἴση codd.: οἰμώξῃ Meziriacus: οὐκ ὀνήσῃ Cobet: οἴ σοι Bernardakis: μετανοήσῃ Babbitt
Seneca, Letters to Lucilius 77.14 (tr. Richard M. Gummere):
The story of the Spartan lad has been preserved: taken captive while still a stripling, he kept crying in his Doric dialect, "I will not be a slave!" and he made good his word; for the very first time he was ordered to perform a menial and degrading service, and the command was to fetch a chamber-pot, he dashed out his brains against the wall.

Lacon ille memoriae traditur inpubis adhuc, qui captus clamabat "non serviam" sua illa Dorica lingua, et verbis fidem inposuit; ut primum iussus est servili fungi et contumelioso ministerio, adferre enim vas obscenum iubebatur, inlisum parieti caput rupit.

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