Lucian, How to Write History

LCL 430: 2-3

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The Works Of Lucian


1Αβδηρίταις φασὶ Λυσιμάχου ἤδη βασιλεύοντος ἐμπεσεῖν τι νόσημα, ὦ καλὲ Φίλων, τοιοῦτο· πυρέττειν μὲν γὰρ τὰ πρῶτα πανδημεὶ ἅπαντας ἀπὸ τῆς πρώτης εὐθὺς ἐρρωμένως καὶ λιπαρεῖ τῷ πυρετῷ, περὶ δὲ τὴν ἑβδόμην τοῖς μὲν αἷμα πολὺ ἐκ ῥινῶν ῥυέν, τοῖς δ᾿ ἱδρὼς ἐπιγενόμενος, πολὺς καὶ οὗτος, ἔλυσεν τὸν πυρετόν. ἐς γελοῖον δέ τι πάθος περιίστα τὰς γνώμας αὐτῶν· ἅπαντες γὰρ ἐς τραγῳδίαν παρεκίνουν καὶ ἰαμβεῖα ἐφθέγγοντο καὶ μέγα ἐβόων· μάλιστα δὲ τὴν Εὐριπίδου Ἀνδρομέδαν ἐμονῴδουν καὶ τὴν τοῦ Περσέως ῥῆσιν ἐν μέλει1 διεξῄεσαν, καὶ μεστὴ ἦν ἡ πόλις ὠχρῶν ἁπάντων καὶ λεπτῶν τῶν ἑβδομαίων ἐκείνων τραγῳδῶν,

σὺ δ᾿ ὦ θεῶν τύραννε κἀνθρώπων Ἔρως,2

καὶ τὰ ἄλλα μεγάλῃ τῇ φωνῇ ἀναβοώντων καὶ τοῦτο ἐπὶ πολύ, ἄχρι δὴ χειμὼν καὶ κρύος δὲ μέγα γενόμενον ἔπαυσε ληροῦντας αὐτούς. αἰτίαν δέ μοι δοκεῖ τοῦ τοιούτου παρασχεῖν Ἀρχέλαος ὁ τραγῳδός, εὐδοκιμῶν τότε, μεσοῦντος θέρους ἐν πολλῷ τῷ φλογμῷ τραγῳδήσας αὐτοῖς τὴν Ἀνδρομέδαν, ὡς πυρέξαι τε ἀπὸ τοῦ θεάτρου τοὺς πολλοὺς καὶ ἀναστάντας ὕστερον ἐς τὴν τραγῳδίαν παρολισθαίνειν, ἐπὶ πολὺ ἐμφιλοχωρούσης


How to Write History

How to Write History

They say, my dear Philo, that in the reign of King Lysimachus the people of Abdera were smitten by an epidemic. These were its symptoms: at first every one of them fell ill of a fever, violent and obstinate right from the start; about the seventh day it was broken, in some cases by a copious flow of blood from the nostrils, in others by heavy sweating; but their minds were left in a ridiculous state; they all went mad with tragedy, shouting iambics and creating a din; and they mostly sang solos from Euripides’ “Andromeda,”1 rendering Perseus’ speech in song; the city was full of these seventh-day tragedians, all pale and thin, roaring,

“Love, you tyrant of gods and men”

and the rest in a loud voice, hour after hour, day after day, until winter and a severe cold spell stopped their noise. Archelaus the actor seems to me to blame for such goings on. He was popular then, and in the middle of summer in the blazing heat had played the “Andromeda” for them, so that most of them brought their fever away from the theatre with them, and later when they left their beds relapsed into tragedy;

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.lucian-how_write_history.1959