Gellius, Attic Nights

LCL 200: 260-261

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Attic Nights of Aulus Gellius

auctoritateque antiqua praeditum, luminibus oculorum sua sponte se privasse, quia existimaret cogitationes commentationesque animi sui in contemplandis naturae rationibus vegetiores et exactiores fore, si eas videndi inlecebris et oculorum impedimentis 2liberasset. Id factum eius modumque ipsum quo caecitatem facile sollertia subtilissima conscivit, Laberius poeta in mimo quem scripsit Restionem, versibus quidem satis munde atque graphice factis descripsit, sed causam voluntariae caecitatis finxit aliam vertitque in eam rem quam tum agebat, non 3inconcinniter. Est enim persona, quae hoc aput Laberium dicit, divitis avari et parci, sumptum plurimum asotiamque adulescentis vivide plorantis.1 4Versus Laberiani sunt:

Demócritus Abderítes physicus phílosophus Clipeúm constituit cóntra exortum Hyperíonis, Oculós effodere ut pósset splendore aéreo. Ita rádiis solis áciem effodit lúminis, Malís bene esse né videret cívibus. Sic égo fulgentis spléndorem pecúniae Volo élucificare éxitum aetatí meae, Ne in ré bona esse vídeam nequam fílium.


Historia de Artemisia; deque eo certamine quod aput Mausoli sepulcrum a scriptoribus inclutis decerlatum est.

1Artemisia Mausolum virum amasse fertur supra omnis amorum fabulas ultraque affectionis humanae


Book X. xviii.

reverence beyond all others and of the highest authority, of his own accord deprived himself of eyesight, because he believed that the thoughts and meditations of his mind in examining nature’s laws would be more vivid and exact, if he should free them from the allurements of sight and the distractions offered by the eyes. This act of his, and the manner too in which he easily blinded himself by a most ingenious device, the poet Laberius has described, in a farce called The Ropemaker, in very elegant and finished verses: but he has imagined another reason for voluntary blindness and applied it with no little neatness to his own subject. For the character who speaks these lines in Laberius is a rich and stingy miser, lamenting in vigorous terms the excessive extravagance and dissipation of his young son. These are the verses of Laberius:1

Democritus, Abdera’s scientist, Set up a shield to face Hyperion’s rise, That sight he might destroy by blaze of brass, Thus by the sun’s rays he destroyed his eyes, Lest he should see bad citizens’ good luck; So I with blaze and splendour of my gold, Would render sightless my concluding years, Lest I should see my spendthrift son’s good luck.


The story of Artemisia; and of the contest at the tomb of Mausolus in which celebrated writers took part.

Artemisia is said to have loved her husband Mausolus with a love surpassing all the tales of passion and beyond one’s conception of human affection.

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.gellius-attic_nights.1927