Ἐν Ἑλικῶνι φής, ὦ Αὐτόβουλε, τοὺς περὶ Ἔρωτος λόγους γενέσθαι, οὓς εἴτε γραψάμενος εἴτε καταμνημονεύσας τῷ πολλάκις Fἐπανερέσθαι τὸν πατέρα νυνὶ μέλλεις ἡμῖν δεηθεῖσιν ἀπαγγέλλειν;
Ἐν Ἑλικῶνι παρὰ ταῖς Μούσαις, ὦ Φλαουιανέ, τὰ Ἐρωτίδεια1 Θεσπιέων ἀγόντων· ἄγουσι γὰρ ἀγῶνα πενταετηρικόν, ὥσπερ καὶ ταῖς Μούσαις καὶ τῷ Ἔρωτι φιλοτίμως πάνυ καὶ λαμπρῶς.
Οἶσθ᾿ οὖν ὃ σοῦ2 μέλλομεν δεῖσθαι πάντες οἱ πρὸς τὴν ἀκρόασιν ἥκοντες;
Οὔκ· ἀλλ᾿ εἴσομαι λεγόντων.
Ἄφελε τοῦ λόγου τὸ νῦν ἔχον ἐποποιῶν τε λειμῶνας καὶ σκιὰς καὶ ἅμα κιττοῦ τε καὶ σμιλάκων διαδρομὰς καὶ ὅσ᾿ ἄλλα τοιούτων τόπων ἐπιλαβόμενοι γλίχονται τὸν Πλάτωνος Ἰλισσὸν καὶ τὸν ἄγνον ἐκεῖνον καὶ τὴν ἠρέμα προσάντη πόαν πεφυκυῖαν προθυμότερον ἢ κάλλιον ἐπιγράφεσθαι.
Τί δὲ δεῖται τοιούτων, ὦ ἄριστε Φλαουιανέ,
The Dialogue on Love
(Flavian and Plutarch’s son, Autobulus, converse in the presence of some others.)
It was on Helicon, Autobulus, that you say the conversation on love took place of which at our request you are now going to give us an account? Either you made a record of it or got it by heart from frequent probing of your father.
Yes, Flavian, it was on Helicon in the shrine of the Muses while the people of Thespiaea were celebrating the Erotidia.b This they do every four years in honour of Eros as well as the Muses, with great zeal and splendour.
Are you aware of the petition that all of us who have come to you intend to present?
No, but I shall be when you state it.
Discard for the moment from your recital the meadows and shady nooks of the poets, the gadding growth of ivy and smilax, and all the other commonplaces on which writers seize, as they endeavour with more enthusiasm than success to endorse their work with Plato’s Ilissus,c his famous agnus castus and the gentle grass-grown slope.
My dear Flavian, why should my discourse
- aThespiae, in Plutarch’s day, was the principal city of Boeotia, except perhaps for Tanagra (Strabo, ix. 2. 5, 25). Thebes, Chaeronea, and the rest were not even “respectable villages.” See also Frazer’s Pausanias, v, pp. 140 ff. But Cicero (Verr. ii. 4. 135) speaks of the great statue of Eros as Thespiae’s only attraction.
- bSee Gulick on Athenaeus, 561 e, 629 a (L.C.L.).
- cPhaedrus, 229 a, 230 b.