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         INTRODUCTION  9

















The Mimes of Herondas — or Herodas — have been known to us only since the discovery and publication of the “Kenyon” MS. by the British Museum in 1891. Previous to that time, this Author was known only by a few quotations in Athenæus and a comment in a letter from Pliny the Younger to Autonius.

As nearly as can be determined, the Mimes were written about the middle of the third century B. C. and, very possibly, at Kos, a small Greek island 10 near the coast of Asia Minor about midway between the Samos and Rhodes. The island was noted for its precinct of Asklepios — the scene of the fourth Mime — which contained several temples and buildings, with groves and porticoes; and was also the seat of a considerable culture.

While the Author used a poetic form, employing the scazon or “lame” iambic, he was essentially a Realist. His scenes deal with popular life and are written in a naturalistic language, without flights of imagination, straining with poetic images or studied description or comment. For an extra touch, they give us a popular proverb 11 rather than a mythological reference. It is thus, as a bald and undistorted picture of the intimate life of the period, that the Mimes are of the utmost importance, not only to students but also to more general readers who have, however, a certain leaning toward antiquity and appreciate the opportunity of seeing, intimately, these interesting phases of Greek life. The women with their gossip and scandal, the voluble cobble, the shiftless slaves, the brothel-keeper whose pompous court speech is almost a burlesque, drawn vividly with a few brief touches, are almost as human to us, to-day, as they must have been, to 12 other readers, over two thousand years ago.

The Kenyon MS. of Herondas — from the Fayum — the only one known — is much damaged from worms and breaks, especially toward the end and, in other places, has been rubbed until it is almost impossible to decipher. A rather uncertain dialect and frequent proverbial passages, not always clear, present additional difficulties. Therefore, an accurate, word for word translation is impossible. It has not even been definitely settled just which characters speak, in some parts of the Mimes, as the original does not always indicate the different speakers 13 and the divisions that are given are simply by marks and not by names. The seventh Mime is seriously broken up; the eighth is hardly more than a fragment. And a few additional fragments, including some for the eighth Mime, discovered in 1900, are not of much value for restorations of general literary interest. As given here, the eight Mimes include all that we have, at this time, of Herondas, coherent enough for mention, except a fragment with the Author’s rather epigrammatic remark addressed to Gryllos:

When you have passed the bounds of three-score years, O Gryllos, Gryllos, die 14 and turn to dust. For life beyond that point is dark and the glory of life is obscured.

It has been the aim of the present Translator to present a popular, readable version only, ignoring disputed points of interest only to critical students and using his own conjectural readings where necessary but including all passages where any sort of an intelligent reading is at all possible. Some of the subjects handled are certainly informal; but the situations are portrayed convincingly and in language to which, certainly, no objection can be taken.

Acknowlegment is made to the literal 15 French prose rendering of Pierre Quillard, second edition, Paris 1900, which has, in the main, been followed in connection with the text and exhaustive commentary prepared by J. Arbuthnot Nairn, M.A., and published in 1904. The tentative, partial translation of the first six Mimes by the late John Addington Symonds in his “Studies of the Greek Poets,” third edition, 1893, has also been consulted. But this rendering, which bristles with the most startling interpretations, in addition to being abridged, cannot, today, be taken very seriously.

*     *


The large part given to women in the Mimes leads us into reflection over the standing of antique, as compared with present-day, women. And, if we may believe that the position of women in the world always has, and no doubt always will depend to a greater extent than is, perhaps, realized on the women themselves, our inevitable conclusion is flattering to those with whom Herondas was acquainted. Certainly, the women of the antique world, although occupying what is ordinarily considered a subjective position, kept more truly a real and passionate standard of womanhood. Whether simply courtesans like Myrtale, moderately 17 corrupt dilettantes like Koritto or no more than average housewives like Phile, they touched more easily the greatest heights of happiness or sounded the deepest abysses of woe — in either case, however, realizing their sex to the fullest. And the most erudite and persistent modern advocate of woman’s “rights” can never prove convincingly that this realization — through submission, not assertion — possible now with the with the additional glory of complete consciousness — and its conventional fruition, has not always been, and will not always be, the real intention of Nature; nor that, in wilfully departing from it, the present-day 18 woman does not seek to barter her heritage for a mess of pottage of very uncertain quality. For how many women, to-day, are such poems as this of Meleager written?

I will twine the white violet and I will twine the delicate narcissus with myrtle. I will twine laughing lilies, sweet crocus and the purple hyacinth. And I will twine the roses-dear-to-love that, upon Heliodora’s fragrant brows, the garland may color with its flowers the sweet locks of her hair.

May we believe this required, and received, inspiration? But the better educated woman of to-day immerses herself in politics, problems outside 19 her natural province, a peculiarly grotesque “education” or other trivialities — seldom in the mystery of feminine sex realization; the woman of a lower class knows no poets; the traditions of Phryne and Thais rest in the hands of shop-girls.

Haed hactenus.









M.    Thressa, someone knocks at the door; go and see if someone has come from the country.

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

T.    Who is there?

G.    It is I.

T.    Who are you? Are you afraid to come nearer?

G.    Well, see: I am close, now.

T.    Who are you?

G.    Gyllis, the mother of Philænion. Tell Metriche I am here.

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .


T.    A caller for you.

M.    Who is it?

T.    Gyllis.

N.    Old mother Gyllis!

         Turn your back, slave.

        What Fate has brought you to our house? You, like a god in the houses of men! For it has been five months, I am certain, Gyllis, since you, even in a dream — by the Mœraæ!1 — have been seen at this door.

G.    I live far away, my daughter; and in the streets the mud comes up to one’s thighs. And, as for me, I am weak as a fly; for old age pulls us 25 toward the earth, and the shadow draws near me.

M.    Hush now, and don’t accuse Time: you will have strength to throttle many others, Gyllis!

G.    It is the way of young women to banter; but I don’t see how you yourself can do it. For how long, now, my child, have you been widowed, wearing out your empty bed alone? Ten months have passed since Mandris departed for Egypt and he has not sent you a single line. The house of the Goddess is there; everything, everything there is and which can be, is in Egypt: riches, palæstrae, power, happiness, 26 glory, spectacles, philosophers, young boys, temples of twin gods, an excellent King, a museum, wine, all the good things one could desire, women without number — by the Virgin, Mistress of Hades, the sky is not so glorified by bearing so many stars! — and lovely as in the time when the goddesses came for Paris to judge their beauty — (may they not hear me saying this!) 2 — while you, unhappy one: how must you feel as you sit warming your chair? Thus, without your suspecting it, age approaches and your bright youth wastes itself in ashes. Look elsewhere and change your thoughts; for a few days, be joyous 27 with some other who is also joyous. A ship on a single anchor has no sure mooring.    .    .    .    3

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

    Often a savage tempest bursts upon us even in the midst of pleasant days; and no one knows our future, for life is uncertain.

M.    What do you want to say?

G.    There is no one who can hear us?

M.    No one.

G.    Then listen to what I came here to tell you. The son of Matakine, Patækhos’ wife, Gryllos: he who has 28 conquered five times — although still a boy — at Pytho, and twice at Korinth against those with the first down on their cheeks, and who has twice, at Pisa, beaten matured pugilists — rich as one could wish, without stirring a chip from the ground4 — a virgin jewel for Kitheræa! — saw you in the procession of Misa. His bowels throbbed with love, his heart was pierced with a dart and neither night nor day, my daughter, will he leave my dwelling, but runs after me, importunes me, and kills himself with desire.

        Now my child, Metriche, grant me this one favor; let yourself be 29 motivated by desire; do not let yourself be surprised by the old age which is always watching you. There will be a double advantage; you will pass an agreeable moment and you will receive more than you might think. Consider; hear me; for I love you, yes, by the Mœræ!

M.    Gyllis, your white hair has blunted your sense. Yes, by the return of Mandris and the benevolence of Demeter, I would not have listened this calmly to any other woman: with her crooked song, I would have taught her a crooked walk and to hate the very threshold of my door. But, 30 for you, another time, my dear, I would not advise you to bring me any of these stories which old women have a way of bringing to young ones. Let Metriche, daughter of Pythias, warm her chair in peace; no one shall laugh at Mandris.

        But such words as these, as they say, are not what Gyllis needs to hear.

        Thressa, rub up the black bowl, pour in three pints of pure wine, then some water, and give it to us generously.

T.    Here, Gyllis, drink.

G.    Very well. But, by the wine, I did not come here simply to give you 31 advice, but to give you pleasure as well.

M.    It is for pleasure that I have this, Gyllis. Profit by it: it is agreeable.

G.    You are fortunate, my daughter, in having so much in reserve. Yes, it is agreeable, by Demeter. Gyllis has never had wine more agreeable than this of Metriche’s. May good fortune, my daughter, attend your solitary cautions.

M.    And I hope that Myrtale and Sima will remain young, so long as Gyllis breathes.









B.    Citizen Dikasts, surely neither our birth nor our reputation — mine, or Thales’, here — will influence your judgment; and, although Thales owns a ship worth five talents, and while I am like a mouse nibbling bread, he cannot rob Battaros, whom he has wronged, of justice. . . .5 He is a stranger in your city, as I am also; and I live, not as I would, but as circumstances oblige me to. His patron is Mennes and mine is Aristophon. Mennes is an expert pugilist; 36 but Aristophon, as you know, is no mean wrestler.

        At sunset.    .    .    .    .    .    

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

Perhaps he would say: “I came from Acre with a cargo of grain and put an end to the cruel famine.” As for me, I also brought, from Tyre, something for the people. As a matter of fact, he did not make a gift of his grain, any more than I did of my merchandise. And if, because he sails the sea and wears a tunic worth three Attic minæ, while I remain on land in a ragged cloak and worn-out shoes, he can carry away one of my 37 girls, by force, at night, without my consent, then of what good, Citizens, is the protection of your city? What you are so proud of — your independence — is destroyed by this Thales — he whose duty it is, knowing who he is and of what mud he was born, to live, like myself, in fear of even the least of your Citizens. The noblest of your city and those born of your race, do not handle the laws in this fashion. Not one Citizen has ever beaten me, although I am a stranger; not one Citizen has ever broken in my door, in the night, nor set fire to my house, with torches, nor carried away one of my girls, by force. But this Phrygian 38 who is now called Thales and formerly was called Artimnos, has done all these things, with no respect for Law, Patron or Archon.

        Now, Clerk, read us the law about violence; and you, my friend, stop the hole in the clepsydra,6 while he speaks, lest we throw the pot after the cover, as the proverb has it.

C.    When a free man assaults a slave woman or deliberately carries her away, he shall pay double the amount of damage.

B.    Who wrote that? Chairondas, Citizen Dikasts, wrote it; not Battaros, who brings Thales to justice. If anyone 39 breaks down a door, he shall pay a mina, says Chairondas; if he strikes with the hand, another mina; if he sets fire to the house, or breaks in, the stated fine is a thousand drachmæ; and if he ravages, he shall pay double.

        This lawgiver, Thales, lived in a city; but you: you don’t know what a city is, nor how a city is governed. Today you are at Brikindera; yesterday at Abdera; tomorrow, if someone gives you passage-money, you might sail for Phaselis.

        As for me — not to weary you with proverbs and a long discourse, Citizens —: I have suffered from this Thales like the mouse in the pitch.7 40 I have been beaten; the door of my house has been forced; — I pay a third as rent8 — and the lintel burned.

        Here, Myrtale, show yourself, you also, to the people. Don’t be bashful; believe, when you look at the Judges, that you see only fathers and brothers.

        You see, Citizens: she is in rags, from head to heels, where that miserable rascal tore he to pieces, dragging her away and violating her. He can give thanks to my old age for, if I had been younger, his blood would have been spilt. . . .9 You laugh! I am a whoremonger; I do not deny it. Battaros is my name. My grandfather 41 was called Sisymbras; my father, Sisymbriskos; and both of them owned brothels; but, for bravery, I am bold as a lion. I might well have said: ‘Here, Thales; perhaps you love Myrtale. Nothing surprising in that. As for me, I love grain; give me that and you can have this. Or, by Zeus, if your passion is hot enough, just put the price into the hand of Battaros, take what belongs to you, and batter her in any way you like. No harm in that.”

        Citizens, I have only this to say: it is for you, in the absence of witnesses, to give the verdict according to your just belief. But if he requires that 42 slaves be put to the question, I am willing to offer myself.

        Here, Thales: fasten me on the rack. But first see that you deposit the proper money. Minos himself, if he came with his scales, could not be fairer.

        For the rest, Citizens, don’t think that your judgment concerns only Battaros the whoremonger; it concerns all strangers who live in your city. Now you can show how Kos and Merops can act; what glory Thessalos and Herakles possess; why Asklepios came here instead of Tricca; and why the blessed Phœbe gave birth to Leto here. Considering all these things, let 43 justice guide the way of your judgment, and this Phrygian, if you have him beaten today, may be the better for it, if there is any truth in the proverb which comes to us from the ancients.10









M.    May the beloved Muses give you happiness and pleasure in life, Lampriskos! But this boy, here, must be thrashed until his last miserable breath hangs only on his lips! The young wretch! he has cleaned out my house, gambling for money; for the knuckle-bones no longer satisfy him, Lampriskos: he must run into worse mischief. Where to find the door of the grammar-teacher — who, at the end of each month — bitter day! — demands his salary — he cannot tell, although I weep like Nannakos.11 48 But the gaming-house, frequented by street-porters and runaway slaves, he knows so well that he can point it out to others. The poor tablets, which I kill myself, spreading with new wax each month, lie abandoned, between his bed and the wall, unless, perhaps he gives them a look as though they were Hades. Never will he write a thing on them; if anything, he rubs them even barer. While his dice: they are always in his bag, shinier than our oil-flask, which we use for everything.

        He does not even know the letter Alpha, unless someone shouts it at him five times. The day before yesterday, 49 his father was trying to teach him Maron: and the idiot turned Maron into Simon.12 I have called myself a fool for not making him a donkey-boy instead of trying to raise him to letters, hoping to have a support for my declining days.

        When he tries to recite even some little child’s thing when we have guests — I, or is father, an old man almost blind and deaf — it comes like drops out of a cracked pot: “Apollo . . . of the morning. . . .” So! I tell him; Even your poor grandmother could say that much for you — and she had no schooling — she or some common Phrygian!13


        But, if we scold even that much, the doorstep doesn’t see him for three days, or he sponges on his grandmother — an indigent old woman — or he climbs on the roof and sits there with his feet dangling, like an ape, looking down. And I, unhappy one, who know what I suffer in my entrails when I see him up there! Not so much for him, because he rips off the tiles like leaves. And, when winter comes, in tears I have to pay three half-oboli for each tile, while everybody cries: “That is the work of Kottalos, Metrotima’s boy!” And, being true, I can’t stir a tooth in answer.

        See how he has torn his back all 51 over, in the woods, just like a Delian fisherman who wears away a stupid life at sea. But for the seventh and the twentieth of the month:14 he knows those days better than the star-gazers; and sleep never overtakes him when he thinks we may be off guard.

        O Lampriskos, so may the goddesses give you a prosperous life and many happy days, do no less to him. . . .

L.    Never mind the prayers, Metrotime: he shall get enough.

        Euthies, where are you? and you, Kokkalos, and you, Phillos! Be quick! Will you mount him on your 52 shoulders, or are you waiting to show him the moon of Akesæos?15

        I commend your accomplishments, Kottalos. Already you are no longer satisfied to cast dice at a moment’s notice, but you must be at the gaming-house tossing coins with the porters. But I will make you more reticent than a girl, to touch not even a straw, no matter how much you might want to.

        Where is my cutting-switch, that bull’s-pizzle I use for thrashing worthless rascals? Put it in my hand, before my bile strangles me!

K.    No, no, I pray you, Lampriskos, 53 by the Muses, by your beard, by the soul of Kottis! don’t hit me with that cutting-switch, but with the other.

L.    But, Kottalos, you are such a rascal that not a man could say a good word for you, not even a slave-dealer who wanted to sell you, even in a country so rough that the rats gnaw iron.

K.    How many, Lampriskos? I pray you, tell me how many blows you are going to give me.

L.    Don’t ask me; ask her.


K.    Mother, how many are you going to give me?

M.    By my life, as many as your wicked hide can stand.

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

K.    Stop! That’s enough, Lampriskos!

L.    Then let you stop your mischief.

K.    Never again; I never will. I swear it, Lampriskos, by the dear Muses!

L.    I’ll stop that smooth tongue with a gag if you bawl again.

K.    There, I am silent. I pray you, don’t murder me.


L.    Let him go, Kokkalos.

M.    Don’t stop, Lampriskos. Beat him until the sun goes down.

L.    But he is striped like a water-snake now. Just wait; we will have him bent over a book, and give him more of it, until he learns to read better than Klio herself.

K.    Yah!16

L.    The sooner you put your tongue in honey,17 the better for you.

M.    I shall report all this to the old man, Lampriskos. I am going home and I will come back with some 56 shackles. Then, any jumping about he does will be with his feet together, so the Muses he scorns can keep an eye on him.







P.    Hail, Sovereign Paion, who governest Trikka and who livest in lovely Kos and Epidauros! Hail to Koronis, who gave thee birth, and to Apollo! also to her whom, with thy right hand, thou touchest, Hygieia! and to ye whose venerable altars are here: Panakea, Epione and Iaso, Hail also! and to ye who laid waste the houses and walls of Laomedon; the healer of savage ills, Podalirios and Machaon, Hail! and to all the gods who dwell at thy hearth, and the goddesses, Father Paion! Accept propitiously 60 what is good in my sacrifice of this cock, herald of domestic walls. We can offer little from our house: far less then we would; for we would have brought an ox or a fatted sow instead of a cock, as an offering for the healing of our ills which thou didst remove, O King, laying upon us thy gentle hands!

        To the right, Kokkale; place the tablet on the right hand of Hygieia.

        Ah, dear Kynno; what lovely statues. Who wrought this stone and who set it up here?

K.    The sons of Praxiteles; don’t you see those letters on the base? And it 61 was Euthies, the son of Praxon, who had it set there. May Paion be kind to them and to Euthies for their lovely work. See, Phile, that child looking up to the apple; wouldn’t you say she would faint if she didn’t get it?

P.    And that old man, Kynno. And, by the Fates, how that little boy is strangling the fox-goose! If it were not plainly stone before us, you might believe him about to speak.

K.    Yes, sometimes men give life even to stones.

P.    And this one of Battale, Kynno! would y0u not say it was walking, this 62 statue of the daughter of Myttis? Anyone who had never seen Battale, seeing this image, would know her at once.

K.    Follow me, Phile, and I will show you something more beautiful than you have ever seen.

        Kydilla, go and call the Neocoros.18 — Don’t you hear me talking to you? To you, standing around with your mouth open! Yes! what does she care what I am saying? Planted there, staring at me wider-eyed than a crab! Go, I tell you, call the Neocoros, glutton! No sacrifice, nor profane work either, would ever 63 make you worth while; you stand around forever, like a stone. I swear, Kydilla, before this god, you inflame me even when I want to stay calm. I swear, believe me, the day will come when you will be scratching a shaven head.19

P.    No use of all that to stir her up, Kynno; she is a slave, and slaves have dull ears.

K.    But the day has come and the crowd is pressing.

        You — remain here; the door has opened and I see the sanctuary.

P.    Do you see, Kynno? What 64 works! Wouldn’t you say that a new Athena had graven all these beautiful things? — Hail to thee, Mistress! — and that naked boy: if I scratched him, wouldn’t it leave a mark, Kynno? for he has flesh on him that quivers with life on the panel. And these silver tongs: if Myellos saw them, or Pataikiskos, the son of Lamprion, wouldn’t their eyes pop out, believing them really made of silver? And that ox with the man leading him and anther with them; and that man with the hook-nose, and the one with the snub-nose: aren’t they the living day! If it weren’t so unwomanly, I would have cried out for fear of that ox injuring 65 me; one of his eyes, Kynno, glares at me so!

K.    Yes, Phile, the hands of the Ephesian Apelles were truthful in everything they did, and one could not say: “That man saw some things while other things were hidden.” Whatever it occurred to him to touch, even the gods, he succeeded with. A man who has seen him or his works, without being properly amazed, ought to be hung up and beaten like clothes in a fuller’s shop.

N.    Your sacrifice, woman, has been well accomplished and with favorable presages. No one has evoked Paion 66 more efficaciously than you have. Io! Io! Paion! Be favorable to these women for their good offerings and, if they have husbands , to them also and to their near kindred.

P.    Yes, let it be so, Great One, and may we come again in good health, bringing greater offerings, with our husbands and our children.

        Kokkale, cut the bird up carefully and remember to give the thigh to the Neocoros and place the honey-cake and the cakes moistened with oil, in the dragon’s grotto,20 with words of good augury. The rest we will take home and eat. And don’t forget to 67 bring some of the sacred bread. But we must give plentifully for, at the sacrifices, the sacred bread is more plentiful when the offering is adequate.21









B.    Just tell me, Gastron; have you grown so surfeited that you are no longer satisfied to shake your thighs with me but must be lying with Menon’s Amphythæa?

G.    I? Amphythæa? Have I ever seen the woman? You are always inventing pretexts, Bitinna! I am a slave; do with me as you like, but don’t go on drinking my blood night and day.

B.    You have a fine tongue, young 72 man! Kydilla, where is Pyrrhias? Call him here.

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

P.    What is it?

B.    Tie this man up! — Are you planted there? — Bring the rope from that bucket, quickly.

        If I do no have you thrashed in a way to make you an example to the whole district, them I am no woman! Is it not said: The more one beats a Phrygian . . . ? I am the cause of all this, Gastron, for making a man of you. But if I was a fool to do it, you will find, now, a Bitinna less foolish than you think. —


        Have you brought it? Tie him up. Strip off his tunic!

G.    No, no, Bitinna; by your knees, I beg of you!

B.    Strip him, I tell you! —

        You are a slave and I bought you for three minæ: it is time you realized it. Unfortunate the day I brought you here —

        Pyrrhias, you shall suffer for this! I see you doing everything but tie him up. Bind in his elbows! pull in the cords until they cut.

G.    Bittina, pardon me this offense. I am a man; I did wrong. But if ever 74 again you catch me doing what you don’t like, then mark me.

B.    Save your dallying for Amphythæa, for her you wallow with, making a fool out of me — you door-mat!

P.    I have him tied up tight.

B.    See that he doesn’t wriggle himself free. Watch that! Take him to the dungeon at Hermon’s place and order someone to give him a thousand lashes on the back and a thousand on the belly.

G.    You want me killed, Bitinna, without even proving whether the charge against me is true or false.


B.    Didn’t you just say, with your own tongue: “Bitinna, forgive me this offence?”

G.    I was only trying to quiet your anger.

B.    You stand there staring at me! Why don’t you take him where I told you?

        Kydilla, give this ruffian’s snout a start on its way.

        And you, Drakon, follow and see where he takes him. Give the wretch a rag to cover his infamous tool; we can’t have him stark naked on the Agora.

        Once more I tell you, Pyrrhias: 76 order Hermon to give him a thousand lashes here and a thousand there. Have you heard? For if you don’t follow me to the last word, you yourself shall pay principal and interest. Be off; and go straight, not by way of Mikkale’s house.

        — But I had forgotten. Call them back! call them back! Run, slave, before they’ve gone too far.

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

K.    Pyrrhias, you deaf wretch, she is calling you . Good! No one would think it was a comrade you were dragging away so brutally, but some tomb-robber! Take care! you who haul 77 away to torture, Pyrrhias: within five days I swear these two eyes of Kydilla’s shall see you at Antidoros’ spiked up with those very Achaian shackles that you only just left off.

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

B.    Ah! bring him back here, tied up just as you took him, and tell Kosis, the brander, to come here with his needles and ink.

        We will have you multi-colored in one operation.

        Gag him and hang him up — this fine Daon!22

K.    Oh, no! for this time — so may you live to see Batyllis entering the 78 house of her husband and holding babies in her arms — pardon him, I beg of you, this single fault.

B.    Kydilla, don’t you annoy me, too, or I will be driven out of here. I pardon this sevenfold slave? And what woman, on meeting me, would not have reason for spitting in my face! Since he don’t know what sort of man he is, he will know very soon, when he reads the inscription on his forehead.

K.    But to-day is the twentieth; in five days come the Gerenia.23

B.    Well, for to-day I will let you go. 79 Give your thanks to this girl whom I love no less than Batyllis since I brought her up with these very hands. When we have poured our libations for the dead, we will attend to you — but you needn’t be uneasy about it.









K.    Be seated, Metro.

        Wake up, and give her a chair! I have to order everything! You wretched one, never do anything on your own account. It is a stone, not a slave, I have in the house. When your corn is measured out, you count every grain and, if one falls, you grumble and storm all day, enough to burst out the walls! You rub and polish now, for you have need, thief! Give thanks to her, there, for if she were not here I’d give you a taste of my hands.

M.    My dear Koritto, you bear the 84 same yoke I do. I, also, gnash my teeth night and day, barking like a dog at those unmentionable girls. But I came to see you . . .

K.    Away from here! Plague take you, glutton: all ears and tongue, and the rest nothing but laziness!

M.    I pray you, without sticking, dear Koritto, tell me who made you that red baubo?24

K.    Where did you see it, Metro? Where, now?

M.    Nossis, Erinna’s daughter, had it the day before yesterday. Ah! yes. That was a fine gift.


K.    And where did Nossis get it?

M.    You will betray me if I tell you?

K.    By these precious eyes, dear Metro, no one shall hear, from Koritto, a word of what you tell me.

M.    Euboula, Bita’s daughter, gave it to her and told her that no one must hear of it.

K.    The women! That women wore me out; she begged me so much that I weakened and gave it to her, Metro, before I had even used it myself. After seizing it like a godsend, she gives it away! And, moreover, to someone 86 who should not have it. A long farewell to a friend like that! Let her find some other friend in place of me. She gave it to Nossis, did she? Not if I had known it — If I cry louder than a woman should, Adrasteia, ignore me! — If I had a thousand I would not have given her one, even if it were all worn out.

M.    Now, Koritto, don’t let your bile rise to your nose because of a careless word. A worthy woman can bear anything. It is my fault for prattling; I should have my tongue cut off. But what I want to say is: who made the baubo for you? If you love me, 87 tell me. Why do you look at me and laugh? Do you see Metro, to-day, for the first time? Why these grand airs? I pray you, Koritto, do not deceive me: tell me who made it.

K.    Eh! Why these prayers? It was Kerdo who made it.

M.    What Kerdo? tell me. There are two: one, with blue eyes, who is a neighbor of Myrtaline, Kylæthis’ daughter — But he is not able to make even a plectrum for a lyre. The other dwells near Hermodoros’ houses, as you leave the square. He was somebody, once, but now he has 88 grown old. Kylæthis, who is dead, dealt with him. May her friends never forget her!

K.    It is neither of the two you speak of, dear Metro. I don’t know whether this one comes from Khio or from Erythræ, he is small and bald; you would say that he was Praxinos — you could not find one fig more like another — except that, when he talks, you would know him for Kerdo and not Praxinos. He works at his house and sells secretly — Every door is afraid of the tax-collectors! — But the things he makes, all of them, are worthy of Athena; you would believe you 89 saw her hand, instead of Kerdo’s. He came here with two, Metro! When I saw them, my eyes nearly burst out with desire. The men certainly have no rams like those! — we are alone — that is sure! And this is not all: their smoothness — a dream; and the stitches — of down, not of thread! Hunt as you might, you could not find another cobbler so kindly disposed toward women.

M.    Why did you let the second one go?

K.    Ah! Metro! What did I not do! What arguments did I not use on him. I embraced him, smoothed his bald 90 head, poured out sweet wine for him to drink. Except my body, there is nothing I did not give him.

M.    But if he had demanded that also, you should have given it.

K.    Yes, but the occasion was bad; Bita’s slave came right in where we were. She has been turning our mill night and day and has worn it to pieces to save paying four oboli to fix her own.

M.    But how did he find the way to your house, dear Koritto? Do not deceive me about this.

K.    Artemis, the wife of Kandas, the 91 tanner, sent him; she pointed out my house to him.

M.    Artemis is always finding something new; she looks over every merchant’s refuse. But since you could not get both of them, we should know whom he made the other one for.

K.    I begged him; but he swore he could not tell me. Underneath it all, be sure, there is another woman, Metro.

M.    Then I must go to Artemis’ house, to find my way to Kerdo’s. Good health, Koritto! It is time for me to be off.

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .


K.    Close the door, slave, and count if the hens are all there. Throw them some grain — but they would lay waste to the yard even if they were fed at the breast!25







M.    Kerdo, I have brought these young people to you, to see what workmanship of yours you have worth showing them.

K.    You have done right, Metro; I will please you.

        Why don’t you bring up the big bench for these ladies, Drimylos! Hey! I call, but you sleep on.

        Pistos, rap this fellow’s snout until he disgorges that sleep. We should have a thorn collar on him.

        Well, slave? Get your legs out 96 of the way, at once! at least, if you don’t want them shackled up to teach you where they belong.

        Is this the way you polish, white-arse? Then I must fret myself to do your cleaning for you?!

        Be seated, Metro.

        Pistos, open the top closet; not that one — the top one! The best works of Kerdo, quickly: lift them down.

        My dear Metro, what goods you have come to see!

        Step lively: open that drawer of sandals.

        Look first at this, Metro; this sole, is it not adjusted like the most perfect 97 of soles? Look, you also, women, at the heel-piece; see how it is held down and how well it is joined to the straps; yet, no part is better than another: all are perfect. And the color! may the Goddess give you every joy of life! — you could find nothing to equal it. The color! neither saffron nor wax glow like this! Three minæ for the leather, went to Kandas from Kerdo, who made these. And this other color! it was no cheaper. I swear, by all that is sacred and venerable, women, in truth held and maintained, with no more falsehood than a pair of scales — and, if not, may Kerdo know life and pleasure no more! — 98 this almost drove me bankrupt! For enormous gains no longer satisfy the leather-sellers. They do the least of the work, but our works of art depend on them and the cobbler suffers the most terrible misery and distress, night and day. I am glued to my stool even at night, worn out with work, sleepless until the noises of the dawn. And I have not told all: I support thirteen workmen, women, because my own children will not work. Even if Zeus begged them in tears, they would only chant: “What do you bring? What do you bring?” They sit around in comfort somewhere else, warming their legs, like little birds. 99 But, as the saying goes, it is not talk, but money, which pays the bills. If this pair does not please you, Metro, you can see more and still more, until you are sure that Kerdo has not been talking nonsense.

        Pistos, bring all those shoes from the shelves.

        You must go back satisfied to your houses, women. Here are novelties of every sort: of Sykione and Ambrakia, laced slippers, hemp sandals, Ionian sandals, night slippers, high heels, Argian sandals, red ones:26 — name the ones you like best. (How dogs — and women — devour the substance of the cobbler!)27


W.    And how much do you ask for that pair you have been parading so well? But do not thunder too loud and frighten us away!

K.    Value them yourself, and fix their price, if you like; one who leaves it to you will not deceive you. If you wish, woman, a good cobbler’s work, you will set a price — yes, by these gray temples where the fox has made his lair28 — which will provide bread for those who handle the tools. (O Hermes! if nothing comes into our net now, I don’t know when our sauce-pan will get another chance so good!)


W.    Why grumble instead of fixing the price openly, without shifing?

K.    Woman, they are worth a mina, — whether you look up or down.29 Even if Athene herself bought, I would not take a bit less.

W.    Small wonder, Kerdo, that your shop is full of handsome goods! Take care of them! hold them tight! On the twentieth of Taureon, Hekate celebrates the marriage of Artakama; they should need sandals; perhaps, wretch they will call on you with a fortune or two. But sew up your purse, so the weasels will not scatter your minæ.30


K.    If Hekate came, with less than a mina, she would take nothing away, nor Artakama either! Think that over, if you like!

W.    And has good fortune, Kerdo, never allowed you to touch the dainty feet which inspire the Desires and the Loves? But you are a scabby and a disagreeable wretch to demand of us, I dare say, double the price, for which you certainly would give them to her.31 How much for this other pair? Give us an answer worthy of yourself.32

K.    Every day, by the gods, Eueteris, the flute-player, comes in here to get those for five staters; but I detest her 103 and I ask her four darics because she insulted my wife with her evil talk. But if you have need of them, buy them; I will give them to you for three darics, those, or these others, as you choose. This is because of Metro and for the sake of her lips and yours. Ah! She could carry me away with the wings of Hermes and, even if I were a stone, shoot with me into the heavens. For you have, not a tongue, but rather a sieve of voluptuousness. Ah! that one dwells close to the gods for whom, night and day, you open your lips!

        Give me your foot; slip it in the shoe. Good. There is nothing to be 104 added or cut off. All is beautifully adjusted to beauty. You might say that Athena herself made these.

        You, give me your foot also. Your shoe fits like an old hoof; you must have been stepped on by an ox.

        But you — if I had cut with my knife, from your naked foot, by the hearth of Kerdo, the work would not be truer than this is.

        And you: You will give me seven darics, you who stand sneering by the door, prouder than a mare!

        Women, if you have need again of anything else, of sandals, or of whatever you are accustomed to take home with you, send a little slave to me.


        And you, Metro, come again in eight days, in any case, to get the red slippers. (A smart man must take care of the fur which keeps him warm!)33









W.    Psyllis, get up! How long will you lie there snoring? The pigs need water and yet you lie there waiting for the sun to come in and warm up your backside! How do your lungs stand such sleeping? And the nights nine hours long! Get up, I say! Light a torch, if you want, and let out the pigs — they don’t like the stable. You will grumble and scratch there until I come and soften your skull with a stick!

        Megallis, lazy bones, you sleep like the Latmian,34 too. You never 110 tire you yourself out spinning, and we need a filet for the sacrifice. There isn’t a speck of wool in the house. Get up, you sluggard!

        I have dreamed. Anna, you can hear it, if you like, for you have some sense.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    



1  The Fates.

2  This panegyric on Alexandria seems equally applicable to the period of Ptolemy Euergetes who reigned 246-221 B. C. or to that of Ptolemy Philadelphos 285-247 B. C.

3   There is a short passage here where the text is too fragmentary for rendering. The exchange of pleasantries at the end of this Mime also presents a number of difficulties.

4  i.e. of a quiet disposition. Nairn.

5  The reading, from this point, for several lines, is very uncertain. Nairn conjectures that Battaros challenges 112 Thales to settle their dispute through their respective patrons and playfully invites the audience to come at sunset to witness the feats of Aristophon who, as rather a footpad, would probably steal their cloaks. At any rate, where the text becomes certain again, Battaros is talking directly about Thales.

6  The water-clock used in the courts to limit the speeches of pleaders.

7  The mouse in a cauldron of pitch was proverbial for anyone in extreme distress. See Theocritos, XIV 51: “Now, as they say, I am like a mouse that his tasted pitch.”

8  i.e. a third of a stater (each month).

9  There is a reference, in this passage, to a Philippos of Samos, but is hopelessly obscure. Possibly some parallel drawn by Battaros; possibly the 113 name of victim of his earlier days of strength.

10  The proverb alluded to is quoted by Suidas as: “The more you beat a dog, a wife or a nut-tree, the better they are.”

11  Nannakos, a king of Phrygia, spent his time weeping over premonitions of disaster and thus became associated with a proverb. Quillard.

12  No Greek classic with the name of Maron is now known to exist. There was a Maron on the list of those who fell at Thermopylai. Simon was the name given a bad cast of the dice.

13  Herondas seems to miss no opportunity for a slur at the Phrygians. The influence of the Phrygian religion and Mysteries was strongly felt in Greece although it seems that the Phrygians 114 were constantly considered by the purer Greeks as barbarians.

14  Holidays sacred to Apollo.

15  Akesæos, a pilot of Neleus, would not put to sea except during the full moon. To await the moon of Akesæos was proverbial for delaying foolishly or unnecessarily.

16  We may suppose that Kottalos runs off, putting out his tongue at the Schoolmaster. This would help explain the following words. Nairn.

17  i.e. the sooner you develop a little more sweetness and discretion.

18  The Guardian or Sacristan of the Temple.

19  Having had her hair cut off as a punishment.

20  The dragon or, more properly, serpent, as a symbol of renovation, with 115 phallic significance, was closely connected with the worship of Asklepios who was a god of healing.

21  Nairn gives this last sentence to the Neoceros, but it hardly seems dignified so. There is considerable controversy as to who the speakers are throughout this entire Mime. Some commentators, including Nairn, asserting that there is no woman named Phile and that the speakers are Kynno and Kokkale. The present assignment, however, seems subject to the fewest objections.

22  A name typical of a slave clever at deceit. Nairn.

23  It is uncertain in whose honor these feast of the dead were celebrated. Stephen of Byzantium, referring to the city of Gerena in the isle of Lesbos, 116 mentions a Geren, son of Poseidon. Bucheler notes that, precisely on the date indicated by Kydilla, the Roman calendar marks a festival of Neptune: X. Kal. Aug. festus Neptuno. Quillard. There was a tomb and sanctuary of Makaon, son of Asklepios, at Gerena in Messenia. (Paus. III 26. 9.) Nairn.

24  So named from a slave woman who offered such a consolation to Demeter when that goddess was wandering in search of Persephone. Lysistrata, in Aristophanes’ comedy of that name, bewailing the absence of the men at war, remarks, v 108-110: “Since the day we were betrayed by the Milesians, I have not once seen even an eight-inch olisbos as a leathern consolation for us poor widows.” Nairn remarks: 117 “There is unhappily no doubt that the baubo is the olisbos of AR. Lys. 109 sq. J. van Leeuwen (J. F.) labours hard to disprove this (Mnemosyne, vol. xx, N.S. 97-100) but in vain. The identification is due to Jackson, C.R. vi. (1892) 4 sqq. and to Weil (Journal des Savants, Nov. 1891, p. 666.) Rutherford suggested the meaning ‘bodice’ or ‘head-dress’; Reinach ‘shoe.’ This is puris onmia pura with a vengeance. It is to be hoped that these scholars, realizing the grave danger lurking in references of this sort, have long since turned their attention to butterflies and flowers.

25  This rather resentful remark of Koritto’s gives a smile to the end of this Mime. Nairn, however, restores the passage to read: “For the bird-stealers 118 will plunder out of one’s very lap.”

26  The names of the various sandals or shoes are very uncertain and have been approximated here simply to give the desired effect. It is impossible to identify some of the styles named by Kerdo.

27  “The ladies, by buying his goods at low prices (or simply by emptying his shop); the dogs, by eating the leather.” Nairn.

28   A double meaning alluding to a skin disease producing baldness.

29   “The woman had perhaps raised her eyes as though in mute appeal against the price asked by Kerdo.” Nairn.

30  There was a Persian princess named Artakama whom Alexander gave in marriage, 324 B. C. to Ptolemy, son of Lagus, the founder of the Ptolemaic 119 dynasty. Hekate was, among other things, a goddess of fertility, presiding over birth and marriage. The allusion here is very uncertain, but the woman’s sarcastic remark possibly intended that Kerdo’s prices were too high — as they certainly were — for any but royalty or goddesses.

31  Meaning, possibly, Metro; as though the speaker had guessed that Kerdo would be more favorable to her. This familiarity between Kerdo and Metro, suggested again at the end of the Mime, may lead us to infer a different Metro than the one in Mime VI.

32  i.e.: “Name another imposing price,” said sarcastically. Nairn.

33  In other words, he must reward Metro for bringing customers to his shop.

34  Endymion.




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