Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History

LCL 375: 48-49

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Diodorus of Sicily

καταδουλοῦσθαι τὰς Ἑλληνίδας πόλεις. ὁ δὲ θαυμάσας τὸν λόγον ἔφη γνώσεσθαι τὴν ἀρετὴν αὐτῶν, ὅταν ἕνα τῶν ἑαυτοῦ δούλων πέμψῃ καταστρεψόμενον τὴν Ἑλλάδα.

2Ὅτι Λακεδαιμόνιοι τὴν Ἀρκαδίαν μέλλοντες καταστρέφειν ἔλαβον χρησμόν,

Ἀρκαδίαν μ᾿ αἰτεῖς; μέγα μ᾿ αἰτεῖς· οὔ τοι δώσω. πολλοὶ ἐν Ἀρκαδίᾳ βαλανηφάγοι ἄνδρες ἔασιν, οἵ σ᾿ ἀποκωλύσουσιν· ἐγὼ δέ τοι οὔτι μεγαίρω. δώσω σοι Τεγέαν ποσσίκροτον ὀρχήσασθαι καὶ καλὸν πεδίον σχοίνῳ διαμετρήσασθαι.

3Ὅτι οἱ Λακεδαιμόνιοι ἔπεμψαν εἰς Δελφοὺς περὶ τῶν ὀστέων Ὀρέστου τοῦ Ἀγαμέμνονος, ἐν ποίῳ τινὶ τόπῳ κεῖνται. καὶ ἔχρησεν οὕτως,

ἔστι τις Ἀρκαδίας Τεγέη λευρῷ1 ἐνὶ χώρῳ, ἔνθ᾿ ἄνεμοι πνείουσι δύω κρατερῆς ὑπ᾿ ἀνάγκης καὶ τύπος ἀντίτυπος καὶ πῆμ᾿ ἐπὶ πήματι κεῖται. ἔνθ᾿ Ἀγαμεμνονίδην κατέχει φυσίζοος αἶα· τὸν σὺ κομισσάμενος Τεγέης ἐπιτάρροθος ἔσσῃ.

ἦν δὲ χαλκεῖον, καὶ δηλοῖ τὰς φύσας, τύπον δὲ τὸν ἄκμονά φησι καὶ τὰς σφύρας, πῆμα δὲ ἐπὶ πήματι τὸν σίδηρον ἐπὶ σιδήρῳ· πῆμα γὰρ εἴρηται διὰ τὸ ἐπὶ κακῷ τῶν ἀνθρώπων εὑρῆσθαι.

4Κρεῖττον γὰρ εἶναι τελευτᾶν ἢ ζῶντας ἑαυτοὺς


Book IX

the Greek cities. And Cyrus, marvelling at such words, remarked that he would judge of their valour when he should send one of his own slaves to subdue Greece.

When the Lacedaemonians were setting out to conquer Arcadia,1 they received the following oracle:

Arcadia dost thou demand of me? A high demand, nor will I give it thee. For many warriors, acorn-eaters all, Dwell in Arcadia, and they will ward Thee off. Yet for my part I grudge thee not. Tegea’s land, smitten with tripping feet, I’ll give to thee, wherein to dance and plot The fertile plain with measuring-line for tilth.

The Lacedaemonians sent to Delphi to inquire in what place the bones of Orestes, the son of Agamemnon, were buried. And the oracle replied in this wise:

A certain Tegea there is of Arcady In a smooth and level plain, where two winds blow Before a stern necessity, to stroke Comes answering stroke, and bane is heaped on bane. There the life-giving earth holds fast the son Of Agamemnon; bring thou him thence and then The overlord of Tegea thou shalt be.

It was a smithy that was referred to, and the oracle means by the two winds the bellows,2 signifying by “stroke” the anvil and the hammers, and by “bane heaped on bane,” the iron upon iron; for iron is called a “bane” because the discovery of it has worked to the hurt of mankind.

It is better to die, than to live and witness yourself

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.diodorus_siculus-library_history.1933