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A Dissertation upon Phalaris
HAT Sophist, whoever he was, that wrote a small Book of Letters in the Name and Character of Phalaris, (give me leave to say this now, which I shall prove by and by) had not so bad a hand at Humouring and Personating, but that several believed, it was the Tyrant himself that talked so big, and could not discover the Ass under the Skin of that Lion. For we find Stobaeus quoting the 38, and 67, and 72, of those Epistles, under the Title of Phalaris. And Suidas, in the Account he gives of him, says, he has wrote very admirable Letters, ἐπιστολὰς θαυμασίας πάνυ, meaning those that we are speaking of. And Johannes Tzetzes, a Man of much rambling Learning, has many and large Extracts out of them, in his Chiliads; ascribing them all to the Tyrant whose Livery they wear. These three, I think are the only Men among the Ancients, that make any mention of them: but since they give not the least hint of any Doubts concerning their Author; we may conclude, that most of the Scholars of those Ages received them as true Originals; so that they have the general Warrant and Certificate for this last Thousand Years before the Restoration of Learning. As for the Moderns; besides the Approbation of those smaller Criticks, that have been concerned in the Editions of them, and cry them up of course; some very Learned Men have espoused and maintained them, such as Thomas Fazellus . and Jacobus Cappellus. Even Mr. Selden himself draws an Argument in Chronology from them, without discovering any Suspicion or Jealousie of a Cheat. To whom I may add their latest and greatest Advocate; who has honoured them with that most high Character, prefixt to this Treatise.
2. Others, indeed, have shewn the Distrust of Phalaris’s Title to them; but we are content to declare their Sentiment without assigning their Reasons. Phalaris, or some body else, says Caelius Rhod. The Epistles that go under the Name of Phalaris, says Menagius. Some name the very Person, at whose door they lay the Forgery. Lucian, whom they commonly mistake for Phalaris, says Ang. Politianus. The Epistles of Phalaris, if they are truly his, and not rather Lucian’s, says Lillius Greg. Gyraldus; who, in another place informs us, that Politian’s Opinion had generally obtained among the Learned of that Age: The Epistles, says he, of Phalaris, which most people attribute to Lucian. How judiciously they ascribe them to Lucian, we shall see better anon; after I have examined the Case of Phalaris, who has the Plea and Right of Possession. And I shall not go to dispossess him, as those have done before me, by an Arbitrary Sentence in his own Tyrannical Way; but proceed with him upon lawfull Evidence, and a fair, impartial Tryal. And I am very much mistaken in the Nature and Force of my Proofs, if ever any Man hereafter, that reads them, persist in his old Opinion of making Phalaris an Author.
3. The Censures that are made from Stile and Language alone, are commonly nice and uncertain, and depend upon slender Notices. Some very sagacious and learned Men have been deceived in those Conjectures, even to ridicule. The great Scaliger published a few Iambicks, as a choice Fragment of an old Tragedian, given him by Muretus; who soon after confess’d the Jest, that they were made by himself. Boxhornius writ a Commentary upon a small Poem De Lite, supposed by him to be some ancient Author’s; but it was soon discovered to be Michael Hospitalius’s, a late Chancellor of France. So that if I had no other Argument, but the Stile, to detect the Spuriousness of Phalaris’s Epistles; I my self, indeed, should be satisfied with that alone, but I durst not hope to convince every body else. I shall begin therefore with another sort of Proofs, that will affect the most slow Judgments, and assure the most timid or incredulous.
4. The Time of Phalaris’s Tyranny cannot be precisely determined; so various and defective are the Accounts of those that write of him. Eusebius sets the beginning of it Olymp. XXXI, 2. Phalaris apud Agrigentinos tyrannidem exercet; and the end of it Olymp. XXXVIII,2. Phalaridis tyrannis destructa. By which Reckoning he governed XXXVIII Years. But St. Hierom, out of some unknown Chronologer (for that Note is not extant in the Greek of Eusebius) gives a different Time of his Reign, above LXXX Years later than the other; Olymp. LIII, 4. or as other Copies read it, LII, 2. Phalaris tyrannidem exercuit annos XVI. Which is agreeable to Suidas, who places him, κατὰ τὴν νβ' Ολυμπιάδος, about the LII Olympiad. If the former Account be admitted, the Cheat is manifest at first sight: for those letters of Phalaris to Stesichorus and Pythagoras must of necessity be false. Because Stesichorus, by the earliest Account, was but VI Years old at that supposed time of Phalaris’s Death; and Pythagoras was not taken notice of in Greece till LXXX Years after it. But for the sake of Aristotle and Jamblichus, the first of whom makes Phalaris Contemporary with Stesichorus; and the other, with Pythagoras; and that I prevent all possible Cavils and Exceptions; I am willing to allow the latter Account, the more favourable to the pretended Letters: his Government commencing Olymp. LIII, 4. and expiring after XVI Years, Olymp. LVII, 3.
5. IN the last Epistle, to those of Enna, a City of Sicily; Phalaris says, the Hyblenses and Phintienses had promised to lend him Money at Interest; οἱ δὲ ὑπέσχοντο δανείσειν, ὡς Ὑβλαῖοι καὶ Φιντεῖς. The Sophist was carefull to mention such Cities as he knew were in Sicily. For so Ptolomee places Phintia there; and Antoninus, Phintis; and Pliny, Phintienses. But it is ill luck for this Forger of Letters, that a Fragment of Diodorus, a Sicilian, and well acquainted with the History of his Country, was preserved to be a Witness against him. That excellent Writer informs us, that Phintias, Tyrant of Agrigentum (the very Place, where Phalaris was before him) first built Phintia, calling it by his own Name; Κτίζει γὰρ Φιντίας πόλιν, ὀνομάσας αὐτὴν Φιντιάδα, and that this was done, while the Romans were at War with King Pyrrhus, that is, about Olymp. CXXV; which is above CCLXX Years after Phalaris’s Death, taking even the later Account of St. Hierom. A pretty Slip this of our Sophist, who, like the rest of his Profession, was more vers’d in the Books of Orators than Historians, to introduce his Tyrant borrowing Money of a City, almost CCC Years before it was named or built.
6. IN the XCII Epistle, he threatens Stesichorus the Poet, for raising Money and Soldiers against him at Aluntium and Alaesa,καὶ εἰς Ἀλούπνον καὶ εἰς Ἄλαισαν: and that perhaps he might be snapt, before he got home again from Alaesa to Himera, ἐξ Ἀλαίσης εἰς Ἱμέραν. What a pity ‘tis again, that the Sophist had not read Diodorus? for he would have told him, that this Alaesa was not in being in Phalaris’s days. It was first built by Archonides, a Sicilian, Olymp. XCIV, 2. or, as others say, by the Carthaginians, about Two Years before. So that here are above CXL Years slipt, since the latest period of Phalaris. And we must add above a dozen more to the reckoning, upon the Sophist’ own Score: For this Letter is supposed to bear date, before Stesichorus and Phalaris were made Friends; which was a dozen Years, as he tells his Tale, before Stesichorus died; and Phalaris he makes to survive him. I am aware, that the same Author says, that there were other Cities in Sicily, called Alaesa: But it is evident from the situation, that this Alaesa of Archonides is meant in the Epistles; for this lies on the same Coast with Himera and Aluntium, (to which two the Sophist here joyns it,) and is at a small distance from them. And indeed there was no other Town of that name in the days of the Sophist, the rest being ruin’d and forgotten long before.
7. THE LXX Epistle gives an account of several rich Presents to Polyclitus the Messenian Physician, for doing a great cure upon Phalaris. Among the rest, he names ποτηρίων Θηρικείων ζεύγη δέκα, ten couple of Thericlean cups. But there is another thing, besides a pretty Invention, very useful to a Lyar; and that is, a good Memory. For we will suppose our Author to have once known something of these Cups, the time and the reason they were first called so; but he had unhappily forgot it, when he writ this Epistle. They were large Drinking-Cups, of a peculiar shape, so called from the first Contriver of them, one Thericles a Corinthian Potter. Pliny, by mistaking his Author Theophrastus, makes him a Turner. The words of Theophrastus are these, τορνεύτας δ᾿ ἐξ αὐτῆς (τερμίνθου) κύλικας Θερικλείας; That the Turners make Thericlean Cups of the Turpentine tree, which cannot be distinguished from those made by the Potters. Here can nothing be gathered hence, to make Thericles himself a Turner; for after He had first invented them, they were called Thericlean, from their shape, whatsoever Artificer made them, and whether of Earth, or of Wood, or of Metal. But as I said, by the general consent of Writers, we must call him a Potter. Hesychius, Θηρίκλειος, κύλικος εἶδος ἀπὸ Θηρικλέους κεραμέως. Lucian. Καί γηγενῇ πολλὰ, οἷα Θηρικλῆς ὤπτα, Etymologium M. Θηρίκλειον κύλικα, ὃν λέγουσι, πρῶτα κεραμεὺς Θηρικλῆς ἐποίησεν, ὥς φισιν Εὔβουλος τῆς μέσης κωμῳδίας ποιήτης. The words of Eubulus, whom he cites, are extant in Athenaeus.
Καθαρίτερον γὰρ τὸν κέραμον εἰργαζόμην,
Ἡ Θηρικλῆς τὰς κύλικας ἡνίκ᾿ ἧν νέος.
Ὧ γαῖα κεραμῖτ, ἷσε Θηρικλῆς ποτε
Ἔτευξε, κοίλης λαγόνος εὐρύνας βάθος.
Now the next thing to be enquired, is the Age of this Thericles; and we learn that from Athenaeus; one Witness indeed, but good as a multitude, in a matter of this nature. This Cup, says he, was invented by Thericles the Corinthian Potter, who was Contemporary with Aristophanes the Comoedian. And in all probability, he had this indication from some Fable of that Poet’s now lost; where that Corinthian was mention’d, as one then alive. But all the Plays that we have left of his, are known to have been written and acted between the LXXIIX and XCVII Olympiads, which is an interval of XXXVI years. Take now the very first year of that number; and Thericles, with the Cups that had their appellation from him, come above CXX years after Phalaris’s death.
8. But I must remove one Objection that may be made against the force of this Argument; for some ancient Grammarians give quite a different account, why such Cups were called Thericlean. Some derive the word Θηρίκλειος, ἀπὸ τῶν θηρίων, from the Skins of Beasts that were figured upon them: and Pamphilus the Alexandrian would have them called so,ἀπὸ τοῦ θῆρας κλονεῖν, because Beasts were scared and frightened, when, in Sacrifices, Wine was poured upon them out of those Cups. So I interpret the words of Pamphilus; ἀπὸ τοῦ τόν Διόνυσον τοὺς θῆρας κλονεῖν, σπένδοντα ταῖς κύλιξι ταύταις κατ῾ αὑτῶν. For what is more ordinary in old Authors, than the memory of that custom of pouring wine on the heads of Victims?
Ipsa tenens dextra pateram pulcherrima Dido
Candentis vaccae media inter cornua fudit.
Nor are wild Beast only called θῆρας but tame too, such as Bulls and Cows; as the Epigrammatist called the Minotaure, ἄνθρωπον μιξοθῆρα. I cannot therefore comprehend why the most learned Is. Casaubon would read σπεύδοντα in this passage, and not σπένδοντα. For I own, I see little or no sense in it, according to his Lection. And as for the Authority of the ancient Epitomizer of Athenaeus, who, he says, reads it σπένδοντα, one may be certain, ‘twas a literal fault in that Copy of him which Casaubon used. For Eustathius, who appears never to have seen the true Athenaeus, but only that Epitome, reads it in his Book σπένδοντα, and took it in the same sense that I now interpret it, ἢ διότι θέρας κλονεῖ, σπένδοντα γαρ κατ᾿ αὐτων κύλιξι τοιαύταις.
9. And now for these two derivations of the word Θηρίκλειος was ever any thing so forced, so frigid, so unworthy of refutation? Does not the common Analogy plainly shew, that as from Ἡρακλής comes Ἡράκλειος, from Σοφοκλής, Σοφόκλειος, and many such like; so Θηρίκλειος must be from Θηρικλῆς? besides so many express Authorities for it, which I have cited before. To which I may add that of Julius Pollux, Θηρίκλειον καὶ Κάνθαρον ἀπὸ τῶν ποιησάντων, and Plutarch in P. Aemilius, Οἵτε τὰς Ἀντιγονίδας, καὶ Σελευκίδας, καὶ Θηρικλείους ἐπικεινύμενοι, and Clemens Alexand. Ἐρρέτων τοίνυν Θηράκλειοί τινες κύλικες, καὶ Ἀντιγονίδες, καὶ Κάνθαροι. For one may justly inferr, that both Plutarch and Clemens believed Θηρίκλειοι to be from Θηρικλῆς; because they joyn them with those other Cups, all which had their names from Men, that either invented or used them. And so says a Manuscript note upon that passage of Clemens; Θηρίκλειοι ἀπὸ Θηρικλέους τοῦ ἐφευρόντος. So that upon the whole, let Pamphilus and those Grammarians help him as his can, our Sophist stands fully convicted, upon this Indictment, of Forgery and Imposture.
10. IN the LXXXV Epistle, he boasts of a great Victory obtained over the Zanclaeans; Ταυρομενείτας καὶ Ζαγκλείους συμμαχήσαντος Λεοντίνοις εἰς τέλος νενίκα. But the very preceeding Letter, and the XXI, are directed to the Messalians, Μεσσηνίοις, and the City is there called Μεσσήνη; and in the First Epistle, he speaks of Πολύκλειτος ὁ Μεσσήνιος. Here we see we have mention of the Zanclaeans and Messenians; as if Zancle and Messena were two different Towns. Certainly the true Phalaris could not write thus; and it is a piece of ignorance inexcusable in our Sophist, not to know that both those names belong’d to one and the same City, at different times. Messana, says Strabo, which was before called Zancle. See also Herodotus, and Diodorus, and many others. Perhaps it may be suspected, in behalf of these Epistles, that this change of Name was made, during those XVI years of Phalaris’s Tyranny; and then supposing the LXXXV Letter to be written before the change, and the other Three after it, this argument will be evaded. But Thucydides will not suffer this suspicion to pass, who relates, That the Zanclaeans were driven out by the Samians and other Ionians, that fled from the Medes, (which was, about Olymp. LXX, 4.) and that οὐ πολλ᾿ὕστερον, not long after (perhaps about the time of Xerxes’s expedition into Greece, Olymp. LXXV, 1.) Anaxilaus King of Rhegium, drove the Samians themselves out, and called the Town Messana, from the Peloponnesian Messana, the Country of his Ancestors. The first part of this account is confirmed by Herodotus: and agreeably to these Narratives Diodorus sets down the death of this Anaxilaus, Olymp. LXXVI, 1. when he had reigned XVIII years. Take now the latest account of Phalaris’s death, according to St. Hierom; and above LX years intervene between that, and the new naming of Zancle. So that unless we dare ascribe to the Tyrant a Spirit of Vaticination, we cannot acquit the Author of the Letters of so manifest a cheat.
11. But I love to deal ingenuously, and will not conceal one testimony in his favour, which is that of Pausanias, who places this same Anaxilaus of Rhegium about CLXXX years higher than Herodotus and Thucydides do; and tells the story very differently; That he assisted the Refugees of Messana in Peloponessus, after the second war with the Spartans, to take Zancle in Sicily; which thereupon was called Messana, Olymp. XXIX. These things, says he, were done, at the XXIX Olympiad, when Chionis the Spartan won the Olympic Race the second time, Miltiades being Archon at Athens. Now if this be true, we must needs put in one word for our Sophist; that Phalaris might name the Messenians without pretending to the gift of Prophecy. Cluverius indeed would spoil all again; for he makes it a fault in our Copies of Pausanias the XXIX Olymp. reads ἑξηκοστές , and for εἰκοστές the LXIX; which is too great a number, to do our Author any service. But we will not take an advantage against him, from a mistake of Cluverius; for without question, the true Lection is εἰκοστές the XXIX; because the time of the Messenian War agrees with that computation, and not with the other: and the ancient Catalogue of the Stadionicae puts Chionis’s Victory at that very year. So that if Pausanias’s Credit is able to bear him out, our Author, as to this present point, may still come off with reputation. But alas! what can Pausanias do for Him, or for himself, against Herodotus and Thucydides, that liv’d so near the time they speak of? against all those other unknown Authors that Diodorus transcribed? against the whole tenor of History, confirm’d by so many Synchronisms and Concurrences, that even demonstrate Anaxilaus to have lived in the days of Xerxes, and his Father; when Theron and not Phalaris, was μόναρχος, Monarch of Agrigentum? Nay, though we should be so obliging, so partial to our Sophist, as for his sake to credit Pausanias against so much greater Authority; yet still the botch is incurable; ‘tis running in debt with one man, to pay off another. For, how then comes it to pass, that the Messenians in another Letter, are in this called Zanclaeans; which, by that reckoning of Pausanias, had been an obsolete forgotten word, an hundred years before the date of this pretended Epistle.
12. THAT same XCII Letter, which has furnish’d us already with one detection of the Imposture, will, if strictly examin’d, make a second confession, from these words, ἃς αὐτὸς ἐκτρίψω πίτυος δίκην; ‘tis a threat of Phalaris to the Himeraeans, That he would extirpate them like a Pine-tree. Now here again am I concerned for our Sophist, that he is thus taken tripping. For the Original of this Saying is thus related by Herodotus: When the the Lampsaceni in Asia had taken captive Miltiades the Athenian, Croesus King of Lydia sent them a Message; That if they did not set him free, he would come and extirpate them like a Pine; σφέας πίτυος τρόπον ἀπείλεε ἐκτρίψειν. The men of Lampsacus understood not the meaning of that expression, like a Pine; till one of the eldest of them hit upon it, and told them, That of all Trees, the Pine, when once it is cut down, never grows again, but utterly perishes. We see the Phrase was then so new and unheard of, that it puzzled a whole City. Now if Croesus was upon that occasion the first Author of this Saying, what becomes of this Epistle? For this, as I observed before, being pretended to be written above a dozen years before Phalaris’s death, carries date at least half a dozen before Croesus began his reign.
13. Nay, there is good ground of suspicion, that Herodotus himself, who wrote an Hundred Years after Phalaris was kill’d, was the first broacher of this expression. For ‘tis known, those first Historians make every body’s Speeches for them. So that the blunder of our Sophist is so much the more shamefull. The Third Chapter of the VIII Book of A. Gellius, which is now lost, carried this Title; Quod Herodotus parum vere dixerit, unam solamque pinum arborum omnium caesam nunquam denuo ex iisdem radicibus pullulare; “That Herodotus is in the wrong, in saying, that of all Trees, a Pine only, if lopt, never grows again.” I suppose Gellius, in that Chapter told us, out of Theophrastus, of some other Trees, beside the Pine, that perish by lopping; the Pitch-tree, the Firr, the Palm, the Cedre, and the Cypress. But I would have it observed, that he attributes the Saying, and the Mistake about it, not to Croesus, but to Herodotus: after whom, it became a Proverb, which denotes an utter Destruction without any possibility of flourishing again. See Πεύκης τρόπον in Zenobius, Diogenianus, and Suidas. And ‘tis remarkable, that our Letter-monger has Herodotus’s very words, πίτυς and ἐκτρίψειν; when all the other three Writers have πεύκη for πίτυς, and κόπτειν instead of ἐκτρίβειν: which shews he had in his eye and memory this very place of Herodotus. A strange piece of stupidity, or else contempt of his Readers, to pretend to assume the garb and person of Phalaris, and yet knowingly to put words in his mouth, not heard of till a whole Century after him.
14. IN the LXXXV Epistle, we have already taken notice of our Mock-Tyrant’s triumph; ὅτι Ταυρομενείτας καὶ Ζαγκλείους συμμαχήσαντος Λεοντίνοις εἰς τέλος νενίκε, That he had utterly routed the Tauromenites and the Zanclaeans. But there’s an old and true Saying, Πολλὰ καινὰ τοῦ πολέμου, Many new and strange things happen in War. For we have just now seen those same routed Zanclaeans rise up again, after a Thousand Years, to give him a worse defeat. And now the others too are taking their turn to revenge their old losses. For these, though they are called Tauromenites, both here, and in the XV, XXXI, and XXXIII Epistles, make protestation against the name; and declare that they were called Naxians, in the days of the true Phalaris. Taurominium, quae antea Naxos, says Pliny, Taurominium, quam prisci Naxon vocabant, says Solinus. Whence it is, that Herodotus and Thucydides, because they writ before the change of the name, never speak of Taurominium, but of Naxos, and the Naxians. A full account of the time, the reason, and the manner of the change, is thus given by Diodorus. Some Sicilians planted themselves Olymp. XCVI, 1. upon a Hill called Taurus, near the ruines of Naxus, and built a new Town there, which they called Tauromenion,ἀπὸ τοῦ ταῦρος καὶ μένειν, from their settlement upon Taurus. About Forty Years after this, Olymp. CV, 3. one Andromachus a Tauromenite gathered all the remnant of the old Naxians that were dispersed through Sicily, and persuaded them to fix there. This is such a plain and punctual testimony, that neither the power and stratagems of the Tyrant, nor the Rhetoric of the Sophist, are able to evade it. Where are those then, that cry up Phalaris for the florid Author of the Letters? who was burnt in his own Bull, above CL Years before Taurominium was ever thought on.
15. But I shall not omit one thing in defense of the Epistles; which though it will not do the work, let it go, however, as far as it can. We have allowed, that Pythagoras was contemporary with Phalaris; and yet in the History of that Philosopher, we are told of his conversation and exploits at Taurominium. Porphyry says, He delivered Croton and Himera, and Taurominium, from Tyrants, and That in one and the same day he was at Metapontum in Italy, and Taurominium in Sicily. The same story is told by Jamblichus; who supplies us too with another, That a young man of Taurominium being drunk, Pythagoras played him sober by a few Tunes of grave Spondees. Conon also tells a story, How a certain Milesian left his Country in the time of Cyrus, and went to Taurominium in Sicily. These several passages seem to concurr with, and confirm the credit of the the Latters, that Taurominium had a Name and Being in the time of Pythagoras and Phalaris. All this would be very plausible, and our Sophist might come off with a whole skin, but for a cross figure in his own Art, Rhetoric, called Prolepsis or Anticipation; viz. when Poets or Historians call any place by a name, which was not yet known in the times they write of. As when Virgil says of Aeneas,
Lavinaque venit Littora:
and of Daedalus,
Chalcidicaque levis tendem superadstitit arce:
he is excused by Prolepsis; though those places were not yet called so in the times of Daedalus and Aeneas. The same Excuse we may make for Ovid, when he tells us, that Taurominium, and Himera, and Agrigentum were as old as the Rape of Proserpin;
Himeraque et Didymen Acragantaque Tauromenenque
So when Porphyry and Jamblichus name Taurominium in the story of Pythagoras, and Conon in the story of his Milesian, meaning Naxos, which was soon afterwards called so; the same figure acquits Them. For ‘tis no more, than when I say, Julius Caesar conquered France, and made an expedition into England: though I know that Gaul and Britain were the names in that age. But when Phalaris mentions Taurominium so many generations before it was heard of, he cannot have the benefit of that same Prolepsis. For this is not a Poetical, but a Prophetical Anticipation. And he must either have had the Praescience and Divination of the Sibyls, or his Epistles are as false and commentitious as our Sibylline Oracles.
16. THE XXXV Letter to Polygnotus presents us with a Sentence of Moral, ὅτι λόγος ἔργου σκιὰ παρὰ σωφρονεστέροις πεπίστευται, That wise men take Words for the shadow of Things; that is, as the Shadow is not alone without the presence of the Body, so Words are accompanied with the Action. ‘Tis a very notable Saying, and we are obliged to the Author of it; and if Phalaris had not modestly hinted, that others had said it before him, we might have taken it for his own. But there was either a strange jumping of good Wits, or Democritus was a sorry Plagiary; for He laid claim to the first Invention of it, as Diogenes Laertius says, Τούτου ἔστι καὶ τὸ λόγος ἔργου σκιή, and Plutarch, Λόγος γὰρ ἐργου σκιὴ κατὰ Δημόκριτον. What shall we say to this matter? Democritus had the character of a man of Probity and Wit; who had neither inclination nor need to filch the Sayings of others. Besides, here are Plutarch and Diogenes, two witnesses that would scorn to flatter, and to ascribe it to Democritus, had they ever read it in others before him. This bears hard indeed upon the Author of the Letters: but how can we help it? He should have minded his hits better, when he was minded to act the Tyrant. For Democritus, the first Author of the Sentence, was too young to know even Pythagoras: Τὰ τῶν χρόνων μάχεται, says Diogenes; and yet Pythagoras survived Phalaris, nay, deposed him, if we will believe his Scholars. We may allow Forty Years space for Democritus’s writing; from the LXXXIV Olymp. to the XCIV, in which he died. Now the earliest of this is above an Hundred Years after the last period of Phalaris.
17. I am sensible that Michael Psellus refers this Saying to Simonides; and Isidorus Peleusi to the Lacedaemonians. But these two are of little authority, in a case of this nature, against Plutarch and Diogenes. Neither would the matter be mended, should we accept of their testimony. For Simonides was but Seven Years old, when Phalaris was kill’d. And were it a Lacedaemonian Apophthegm, though the date be undetermined, it might fairly be presumed to be more recent than He.
18. IN the LI Epistle to Eteonicus, there is another Moral Sentence, Θνητοὺς γὰρ ὄντας ἀθάνατον ὄργὴν ἔχειν, ὤς φασί τινες, οὐ προσήκει, Mortal Men ought not to entertain Immortal Anger. But I am afraid, he will have no better success with this, than the former. For Aristotle, in his Rhetoric, among some other sententious Verses, cites this Iambic, as commonly known;
Ἀθάνατον ὀργὴν μὴ φύλαττε θνητὸς ὢν.
This, though the Author of it be not named, was, probably, like most of those Proverbial Gnomae, borrowed from the Stage; and consequently, must be later than Phalaris, let it belong to what Poet you please, Tragic or Comic.
19. But because it may be suspected, that the Poet himself might take the Thought from common usage, and only it give the turn and measure of a Verse; let us see, if we can discover some plainer footsteps of Imitation, and detect the lurking Sophist under the mask of the Tyrant. Stobaeus gives us these Verses out of Euripides’s Philoctetes:
Ὧσπερ δὲ θνητὸν καὶ τὼ σῶμ᾿ ἔφυ,
Οὕτω προσήκει μηδὲ τὴν ὀργὴν ἔχειν,
Ἀθάνατον, ὅστος σωφρονεῖν ἐπίσταται.
Now to him that compares these with with the words of the Epistle, ‘twill be evident, that the Author had this very passage before his Pen; there is ἔχειν and προσήκει not only a sameness of sense, but even of words, and those not necessary to the Sentence: which could not fall out by accident. And where has he now a Friend at a pinch, to support his sinking credit? for Euripides was not born in Phalaris’s time. Nay, to come nearer to our mark; from Aristophanes the famous Grammarian, (who, after Aristotle, Callimachus, and others, writ the Διδασκαλίαι, A Catalogue and Chronology of all the Plays of the Poets; a Work, were it now extant, most usefull to ancient History,) we know that this very Fable, Philoctetes, was written Olymp. LXXXVII; which was CXX Years after the Tyrant’s Destruction.
20. THE XII Epistle exhibits Phalaris making this complement to his Friends: Ὧν εὐτυχούντων κἂν αὐτὸς ἑτέρῳ συμπλακῷ δαίμονι ᾑσθεὶς οὐδὲν ἥττον εὐτυχεῖν δόξῳ, That while they continued in prosperity; his joy for That, though himself should fall under misfortunes, would still make him happy: But methinks those words, Ἑτέρῳ δαίμονι, the Other God or Genius, that is, the Bad one, have a quaintness in them something Poetical, and I am mistaken, if they be not borrowed from some Retainer to the Muses. And now I have called it to mind, they are Pindar’s,
Δαίμων δ᾿ ἕτερος
ἐς κακὸν τρέψαις ἐδασμάτατό νιν·
or Callimachus’s; for this Scazon of his is there cited by the Scholiast:
Οὐ πάντες, ἀλλ᾿ οὓς ἔσχεν ἅτερος δαίμων.
Whether of these our Author made bold with, I cannot determin. Pindar I should incline to guess, but that I find him familiar with Callimachus upon another occasion; Epist. CXXII. speaking of Perillus’s invention of the Brazen Bull; Ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ τὸν ὄλεθρον εὗρε κατὰ τῶν ἐπιβουλευόντων ἀχθηρότατον. Where he has taken that expression τὸν ὄλεθρον εὗρε from these Verses of Callimachus that concern the same business:
πρῶτος ἐπεὶ τὸν ταῦρον ἐκαίνισεν, ὃς τὸν ὄλεθρον
εὗρε τὸν ἐν χαλκῷ καὶ πυρὶ γιγνόμενον
But be it either of them as you will, I suppose the Ages of both those Poets are well enough known; so that without any computation of Years, one may pronounce these fine Epistles not to belong to Phalaris himself, but to his Secretary, the Sophist.
21. THE XXIII Epistle is directed to Pythagoras; and there he gives to his Doctrine and Institution the name of Philosophy; Ἡ Φαλάριδος τυρρανὶς τοῦ Πυθαγόρου ΦΙΛΟΣΟΦΙΑΣ πλεῖστον ὅσον δοκεῖ κεχωρίσθαι, And so again in the LVI. he gives him the title of Philosopher, Πυθαγόρῳ ΦΙΛΟΣΟΦΩΙ. I could shew now, from a whole crowd of Authors, that Pythagoras was the first man that invented that word; but I shall content my self with two, Diogenes Laertius and Cicero. The former says Φιλοσοφίαν πρῶτος ὠνόμασε Πυθαρόρας, καὶ ἑαυτὸν φιλόσοφον, ἐν Σικυῶνι διαλεγόμενος Λέοντι, τῷ Σικωνίων τυράννῳ, ἣ Φλιασέων, Pythagoras first named Philosophy, and called himself Philosopher, in conversation with Leon the Tyrant of Sicyon, or, as some say, of Phlius. The latter tells us, That when Pythagoras had discoursed before Leon; the Tyrant much taken with his wit and eloquence, asked him what Art or Trade he profest. Art, says Pythagoras, I profess none, but I am a PHILOSOPHER. Leon, in admiration at the newness of the name, enquires what those Philosophers were, and wherein they differed from other men. What a difference is here between the two Tyrants? The one knows not what Philosopher means; the other seems to account it as threadbare a word, as the name of Wise Men of Greece; and that too, before ever he had spoken with Pythagoras. We cannot tell, at this distance of time, which Conversation was the first, that with Phalaris, or that with Leon. If Phalaris’s was the first; the Epistles must be a cheat. But allowing Leon’s to be the first, yet it could not be long before the other. And ‘tis very hard to believe, that the fame of so small a business could so soon reach Phalaris’s ear in his Castle, through his Guard of Blue-coats, and the loud bellowings of his Bull. Nay, could we suppose him to have heard of it; yet surely when he had written to Pythagoras, he would have usher’d the Word in with some kind of introduction, That Science which you call Philosophy; and not speak of it as familiarly, as if it had been the language of his Nurse.XI.
22. IN the LXIII Epistle, he is in great wrath with one Aristolochus, a Tragic Poet that no body ever heard of, for writing Tragedies against him, κατ᾿ ἐμοῦ γράφειν τραγῳδίας: and in the XCVII. he threatens Lysinus, another Poet of the same stamp with the former, for writing against him both Tragedies and Hexameters, ἀλλ᾿ ἔπη καὶ τραγῳδίας εἰς ἐμὲ γράφεις. Now to forgive him that silly expression, of writing Tragedies against Him, for He could not be the Argument of Tragedy, while he was living; I must take the boldness to tell him, who am out of his reach, that he lays a false crime to their charge. For there was no such Thing nor Word as Tragedy, while he tyranniz’d at Agrigentum. That we may slight that obscure story about Epigenes the Sicyonian, Thespis, we know, was the first Inventor of it according to Horace. Neither was the Name of Tragedy more ancient than the Thing; as sometimes it happens, when an old Word is borrowed and applied to a new Notion; but both were born together: the Name being taken from trãgow, the Goat that was the Prize to the best Poet and Actor. But the first performance of Thespis’s was about the LXI Olymp. which is more than twelve Years after Phalaris’s death.
23. HAD all other ways failed us of detecting this Impostor, yet his very Speech had betray’d him. For his Language is Attic, the beloved Dialect of the Sophists, in which all their Μελέται, or Exercises were composed; in which they affected to excell each other, even to Pedantry and Soloecism. But he had forgot that the Scene of these Epistles was not Athens, but Sicily, where the Doric tongue was generally spoken and written; as besides the testimonies of others, the very Thing speaks it self in the Remains of Sicilian Authors, Sophron, Epicharmus, Stesichorus, Theocritus, Moschus, and others. How comes it to pass then, that our Tyrant transacts every thing in Attic, not only foreign Affairs of State, but domestic Matters with Sicilian Friends, but the very Accounts of his Houshold? Pray, how came that Idiom to be the Court Language at Agrigentum? ‘Tis very strange, that a Tyrant, and such a Tyrant as He, should so doat on the Dialect of a Democracy, which was so eminently μισοτύρρανος, the Hater of Tyrants; which, in his very days, had driven out Pisistratus, though a generous and easie Governour: especially, since in those early times, before Stage-Poetry and Philosophy and History had made it famous over Greece, that Dialect was no more valued than any of the rest.
24. I would not be here mistaken; as if I affirmed, that them Doric was absolutely universal, or original in Sicily. I know, that the old Sicani, the Natives of the Isle, had a peculiar Language of their own; and that the Greek Tongue there, like the Punic, was only a Foreigner, being introduced by those Colonies that planted themselves there. Most of which coming from Corinth, Crete, Rhodes, &c. where all spoke the Doric Dialect; thence it was that the same Idiom so commonly obtained almost all over Sicily; as it appears to have done, to omit other testimonies, from the ancient Medals of that Island, ΤΑΥΡΟΜΕΝΙΝΑΝ, ΜΕΣΣΑΝΙΩΝ, ΘΕΡΜΙΤΑΝ, ΠΑΝΟΡΜΙΤΑΝ, ΛΙΥΒΑΙΤΑΝ, ΣΕΛΙΝΩΝΤΙΩΝ, &c. all which words, inscribed upon their Money, demonstrate the Doric Dialect to have been then the Language of those Cities. ‘Tis true, there came from some Colonies to Sicily, from Euboea, and Samos, and other places; which, in those Parts where they settled, might speak, for a while, the Ionic Dialect; and afterwards, being mixed with the Dorians, might make a new sort of Dialect, a compound of both: as Thucydides observes of Himera, that the Language of that City was at first a medley of Doric and Chalcidic. But that is no more than what happen’d even in Greece it self, where there were many ὑποδιαιρέσεις τοπικαί, local Subdivisions of every Dialect, one Country having always some singularity of Speech, not used by any other. But those little peculiarities do not hinder us from saying in general, that the Sicilians spoke Doric. For the other Dialects were swallowed up and extinguished by those two powerfull Cities of Dorian Original, Syracuse, and Agrigentum, that shared the the whole Island between them. Syracuse was a Corinthian Colony, and spoke | the Dialect of her Mother City. Agrigentum was first built by the Geloans of Sicily, who had been themselves a Plantation of the Cretans and Rhodians, both of which were Dorian Nations. So that upon the whole, though in some other Towns, and for a time, there might be a few footsteps of the Ionic Dialect; yet our Sophist is inexcusable, in making a Tyrant of Agrigentum, a City of Doric Language and Original, write Epistles in such a Dialect, as if he had gone to School at Athens.
25. But some Apologies have been offer’d for his using the Attic Dialect; as first, because Phalaris was born at Astypalaea, an Island of the Sporades, where was an Athenian Colony. This is thought to be a good Account of his speaking in that Idiom. It were easie to overthrow this argument at once; by refuting our spurious Epistles, and by shewing, from much better Authority, that Phalaris was a Sicilian born. But I may speak perhaps of that by and by; and I’ll have every Proof I bring stand by it self, without the support of another. Let us allow then, that Phalaris came from Astypalaea, an Island of the Sporades, mention’d by Strabo and Pliny. ‘Tis true, some of the Editors of Phalaris have discovered a new place of his birth, Astypalaea, a City of Crete, never mention’d before by any Geographer, situate in the 370th. deg. of Longit. bearing South and by North off of Utopia. And I am wholly of their opinion, that he was born in that, or in none of them. But because Tradition is rather for the Island, we will beg their good leave to suppose it to be so: and There, as it seems, was formerly a Plantations of Athenians; and Phalaris being one of their Posterity, must needs, for that reason, have a twang of their Dialect. Now, what a pity ‘tis, that Phalaris himself, or his Secretary, did not know of this Plantation, when he writ the CXX Letter to the Athenians, Ὦ σοφότατοι γηγενεῖς Ἀθνηαῖοι! What a fine Complement would he have made them upon that subject of their Kindred! If any one know an express testimony, that there was an Athenian Colony at Astypalaea, he can teach me more than I now remember. This I know in general, from Thucydides and others, that the Athenians sent Colonies to most of the Islands; and so That may come in among the rest. But what then? must the Language for ever afterwards be Attic, where-ever the Athenians once had footing? Thucydides says in the same passage, That they planted Ionia. They had Colonies at Miletus, at Ephesus, and most of the Maritim Towns of Asia Minor. Nay, the Ionians and the Attics were anciently one People, and the Language the same: and when Homer says,
Ἔνθαδε Βοιωτοὶ καὶ Ἰάονες,
by the latter he is known to mean the Athenians. And yet we see, that in process of time, the Colonies had a different Dialect from that of the Mother Nation. Why then must Astypalaea needs be Attic? and that so tenaciously, that twenty Years living in Sicily could not at all alter it in one of her Islanders? He was part of that time a Publican, or Collector of Taxes and Customs: Could not that perpetual negoce and converse with Dorians bring his mouth, by degrees, to speak a little broader? Would not He that aim’d at Monarchy, and for that design studied to be popular, have quitted his old Dialect for that of the Place; and not by every word he spoke make the invidious discovery of his being a Stranger? But what if, after all, even the Astypalaeans themselves should be found to speak Doric? If we make a conjecture from their Neighbourhood, and the company they are put in, we can scarce question but they were Dorians. Strabo says, the Island lies between Cos, and Rhodes, and Crete, μεταξὺ τοῦ Κῶ μάλιστα καὶ Ῥόδου καί Κρήτης. And that all three used the Doric Dialect, is too well known to need any proof. But to answer this in one word; we have direct Evidence, that this Astypalaea was a Dorian Colony, and not an Athenian: for it was planted by the Megarians, as Scymnus Chius says expresly:
Ἐν τῷ πόρῳ δὲ κειμένη τῷ Κρητικῷ
Ἄποικός ἐστιν Ἀστυπάλαια Μεγαρέων,
But let us hear the Second Apology for the Atticism of Phalaris. He is defended by the like practice of other Writers; who being Dorians born, repudiated their vernacular Idiom for that of the Athenians; as Diodorus of Agyrium, and Empedocles of Agrigentum. So that, though Phalaris be supposed to be a Native of Sicily yet here is an excuse for him, for quitting the Language. But I conceive, with submission, that this Argument is built upon such Instances, as are quite different and aliene from from the case of our Epistles.
26. The Case of Empedocles and Diodorus, the one a Poet and the other an Historian, is widely remote from that of our Tyrant: The former, being to write an Epic Poem, show’d an excellent judgment in laying aside his Country Dialect for that of the Ionians; which Homer and his followers had used before him, and had given it, as it were, the dominion of all Heroic Poetry. For the Doric Idiom had not Grace and Majesty enough for the Subject he was engaged in; being proper indeed for Mimes, Comedies, and Pastorals, where Men of ordinary rank are represented; or for Epigrams, a Poem of a low vein; or for Lyrics, and the Chorus of Tragedy, upon the account of the Doric Music; but not to be used in Heroic, without great disadvantage. And the Historian likewise, with the rest of that and other Dorian Nations, Philistius, Timaeus, Ephorus, Herodotus, Dionysius Halic. &c. had great reason to decline the use of their vernacular Tongue, as improper for History; besides the affectation of Eloquence, aims at Easiness and Perspicuity, and is designed for general use. But the Doric is course and rustic, and always clouded with an obscurity; ἐχούσης ι καὶ ἀσαφὲς τοῦ Δωρίδος διαλέκου, says Porphyry; who attributes the decay of the Pythagorean Sect to their writing in that Dialect. And now, what affinity is there between Phalaris’s case, and that of Historians, or Heroic Poets? What mighty motives can be here for assuming a sovereign Dialect? The Letters are dated in the middle of Sicily, mostly directed to the next Towns, or so some of his own Domestics, about private Affairs, or even the expenses of his Family, and never designed for the public view. If any will still excuse the Tyrant for Atticizing in those Circumstances, ‘tis hard to deny them the Glory of being the faithfullest of his Vassals.
27. BUT since Tyrants will not be confined by Laws; let us suppose, if you will, that our Phalaris might make use of the Attic, for no reason at all, but his own arbitrary humour and pleasure: yet we have still another Indictment against the credit of the Epistles. For even the Attic of the true Phalaris’s age is not there represented; but a more recent Idiom and Stile, that by the whole thread and colour of it betrays it self to be many Centuries younger than He. Every living Language, like the perspiring Bodies of living Creatures, is in perpetual motion and alteration; some words go off, and become obsolete; others are taken in, and by degrees grown into common use; or the same word is inverted to a new sense and notion, which in tract of time makes as observable a change in the air and features of a Language, as Age makes in the lines and meen of a Face. All are sensible of this in their own native Tongues, where continual Use makes every man a Critic. For what Englishman does not think himself able, from the very turn and fashion of the Stile, to distinguish a fresh English composition from another a hundred years old? Now there are as real and sensible differences in the several ages of Greek; were there as many that could discern them. But very few are so versed and practised in that Language, as ever to arrive at that subtilty of Tast. And yet as few will be content to relish or dislike a thing, not by their own Sense, but by another man’s Palate. So that I would affirm, That I know the novity of these Epistles from the whole body and form of the work; none, perhaps, would be convinced by it, but those that without my indication could discover it by themselves. I shall let that alone then, and point only at a few particular marks and moles in the Letters, which every one that pleases may know them by. In the very first Epistle; ὥν ἐμοὶ προτρέπεις, which you accuse me of, is an innovation in language; for which the Ancients used προφέρεις. In the CXLII, among other Present to a Bride, he sends θυγατέρας τέτταρας ὄμήλικας, which would anciently signified Daughters: but he here means it of Virgins or Maidens; as Fille and Figlia signifie in French and Italian: which is a most manifest token of a later Greek. Even Tzetzes, when he tells a story out of this Epistle, interprets it Maids, θεραπαίνας. In the LXXVII, πολλοὶ παίδων ὄντας ἐρασταί, many that are fond of their children; for that is his sense of the words; which, of old, would have been taken for a flagitious love of Boys; as if he had said,πολλοὶ ὄντες παιδερασταί. They that will make the search, may find more of this sort; but I suppose these are sufficient to unmask the recent Sophist under the person of the old Tyrant.
28. BUT should we connive at his using the Attic Dialect, and say not a word of those flaws and innovations in his Stile; yet there is one thing still, that, I fear, will more difficulty be forgiven him; that is, a very slippery way in telling of Money. This is a tender point, and will make every body shy and cautious of entertaining him. In the LXXXV Epistle he talks of a Hundred Talents, τάλαντα ἑκατὸν, of Fifteen more, in the CXVIII; Eight, in the CXXXVII; Seven, in the CIV; Five, in the CXLIII; and Three in the XCV. These affairs being transacted in the middle of Sicily, and all the persons concerned being natives and inhabitants there; who would not be ready to conclude, that he meant the Talent of the Country? since he gives not the least hint of his meaning a foreign Summ. If a bargain were made in England, to pay so many Pounds or Marks, and the party should pretend at last that he meant Scots Marks, or French Livres: few, I suppose, would care to have Dealings with him. Now this is the very case in so many of these Letters. In the LXXth indeed he is more punctual with Polyclitus his Physician; for he speaks expresly of Attic Money, Μυριάδας Ἀττικὰς πέντε, 50,000 Attic Drachms. But this is so far from excusing him, that it is a plain condemnation out of his own mouth. For if it was necessary to tell Polyclitus, that he meant the Attic Money, and not the Sicilian; why had he not the same caution and ingenuity towards all the rest? We are to know, That in Sicily, as in most other Countries, the Name and Value of their Coins, and the way of reckoning by Summs, were peculiar. The Summ Talent, in the Sicilian Account, contained no more in Specie than Three Attic Drachms, or Roman Denares; as plainly appears from Aristotle, in his now lost Treatise of the Sicilian Governments. And the words of Festus are most express, There are several sorts of Talents: the Attic contains 6000 Denares, the Syracusian 3 Denares. What an immense difference! One Attic Talent had the real value of Two Thousand Sicilian Talents. Now, in all these Epistles the very Circumstances assure us, that by the word Talent simply named, the Attic Talent is understood. But should not our wise Sophist have known, that a Talent, in that Country where he had laid the Scene of his Letters, was quite another thing? Without question, if the true Phalaris had penn’d them, he would have reckon’d these Summs by the Sicilian Talents, encreasing only the Number: Or should he have made use of the Attic Account, he would always have given express notice of it: never saying τάλαντον alone, without the addition of Ἀττικόν.
29. BUT to pass all further arguments from Words and Language; to me the very Matter and Business of the Letters sufficiently discovers them to be an Imposture. What force of Wit and Spirit in the Stile, what lively painting of Humour, some fansie they discern there; I will not examine nor dispute. But methinks little Sense and Judgment is shown in the Ground-work and Subject of them. What an improbable and absurd story is that of the LIV Epistle? Stesichorus was born at Himera; but he chanced to die at Catana, a hundred miles distance from home, quite across the Island. There he was buried, and a noble Monument made for him. Thus far the Sophist had read in good Authors. Now upon this he introduces Himerenses, so enraged at the other for having Stesichorus’s Ashes, that nothing less will serve them, than denouncing War, and sacking their City. And presently an Embassy is sent to Phalaris, to desire his assistance: who, like a generous Ally, promises them what Arms and Men and Money they would: but withal, sprinkles a little dust among the Bees, advising them to milder counsels, and proposing this expedient, That Catana should have Stesichorus’s Tomb, and Himera should build a Temple to him. Now was ever any Declamator’s Theme so extravagantly put? What? to go to War upon so slight an occasion? and to call in too the assistance of the Tyrant? Had they so soon forgot Stesichorus’s own counsel? who, when upon another occasion they would have asked succour of Phalaris, dissuaded them by the Fable of the Horse and his Rider. Our Sophist had heard, that Seven Cities contended about Homer; and so Two might go to Blows about another Poet. But there’s a difference between that Contention, and this Fighting in Earnest. He is as extravagant too in the Honours he would raise to his Poet’s Memory; nothing less than a Temple and a Deification. Cicero tells us, that in his days there was his Statue still extant at Himera (then called Thermae,) which, one would think, was Honour enough. But a Sophist can build Temples in the Air, as cheaply and easily as some others do Castles.
30. What in inconsistency is there between the LI and LXIX Epistles? In the former he declares his immortal hatred to one Python, who, after Phalaris’s flight from Astypalaea, would have persuaded his Wife Erythia to a second marriage with himself; but seeing her resolved to follow her Husband, he poison’d her. Now this could be no long time after his banishment; for then she could not have wanted Opportunities of following him. But in the LXIX Epist. we have her alive again, long after that Phalaris had been Tyrant of Agrigentum; for he mentions his growing old there. And we must not imagine, but that several years had passed, before he could seize the Government of so populous a City, that had 200,000 Souls in it, or as others say, 800,000. For he came an indigent Stanger thither, according to the Letters; and by degrees rising from one employment to another, at last had opportunity and power to effect that design. Besides, in the LXIX Letter, she is at Crete with her Son; and in the LI, she is poison’d (I suppose) at Astypalaea: for there her Poisoner dwelt; and ‘tis expresly said, she design’d, but could not follow her Husband. Which seems an intimation, that the Sophist believed Astypalaea to be a City in Crete. ‘Tis certain, that the Editors of Phalaris by comparing these two passages together, made that discovery in Geography: for it could not be learnt any where else; and ‘tis and admirable token, both that the Epistles are old and genuine, and that the Commentators are not inferior to, nor unworthy of their Author.
31. What a scene of putid and senseless formality are the LXXIIX, LXXIX, and CXLIV Epistles? Nicocles a Syracusian, a Man of the highest rank and quality, sends his own Brother an hundred miles with a request to Phalaris, That He would send to Stesichorus another hundred miles, and beg the favour of a Copy of Verses upon Clearista his Wife, who was lately dead. Phalaris accordingly sends to Himera with might application and address, and soon after writes a second Letter of Thanks for so singular a Kindness. Upon the fame of this, one Pelopidas entreats him, That he would procure the like favour for a friend of His; but meets with a repulse. Now, whether there was any Poem upon Clearista among the Works of Stesichorus, whence our Sophist might take the Plot and Ground-work of this story; or whether all is entirely his own invention and manufacture; I will not pretend to guess. But let those believe who can, that such stuff as this busied the head of the Tyrant: at least they must confess then, though the Letters would represent him as a great admirer and judge too of Poetry, that he was a mere Asinus ad Lyram. For, in the LXXIX Epist. he calls this Poem upon Clearista μέλος and μελῳδίαν, which must here (as it almost ever does) signifie a Lyric Ode, since it is spoken of Stesichorus a Melic or Lyric Poet. But in the CXLIV he calls it an Elegy, ἐλεγεῖον; which is as different from μέλος, as Theognis is from Pindar, or Tibullus from Horace. What? the same Copy of Verses both an Ode and an Elegy? Could not some years acquaintance with Stesichorus teach him the very Names? But to forgive Him, or rather the Sophist, such an egregious piece of Dulness; why, forsooth, so much ado, why such a vast way about them, to obtain a few Verses? Could they not have writ directly to Stesichorus, and at the price of some Present have met with easie success? Do we not know, that all of that String, Bacchylides, Simonides, Pindar, got their livelyhood by the Muses? So that to use Phalaris’s intercession, besides the delay and an unnecessary trouble to both, was to defraud the Poet of his Fee.
32. Nay certainly, they might have employ’d any hand rather than Phalaris’s. For, begging pardon of the Epistles, I suspect all to be a Cheat about Stesichorus’s friendship with him. For the Poet, out of common gratitude, must needs have celebrated it in some of his Works. But that he did not, the Letters themselves are, in this point, a sufficient witness. For, in the LXXIX, Phalaris is feigned to entreat him, not once to mention his Name in his Books. This was a sly fetch of our Sophist, to prevent so shrewd an objection from Stesichorus’s silence as to any friendship at all with him. But that cunning shall not serve his turn. For what if Phalaris had really wish’d him to decline mentioning his Name? Stesichorus knew the World well enough, that those sort of requests are but a modest simulation; and a disobedience would have been easily pardon’d. In the LXXIV Letter, the Tyrant proclaims and glories to his enemy Orsilochus, that Pythagoras had stay’d five Months with him: why should he then seek to conceal from Posterity the twelve Years familiarity with Stesichorus? Pindar, exhorting Hiero the Tyrant of Syracuse to be kind to Poets and Men of letters, tells him how Croesus had immortal praise for his friendship and bounty to them, but the memory of that cruel and inhospitable Phalaris was hated and cursed every where. How could Pindar have said this, had he heard of his extraordinary dearness with Stesichorus? For their acquaintance, according to the Letters, was a memorable and as glorious, as that of Croesus with Aesop and Solon. So that Pindar, had he known it, for that sole kindness to his fellow Poet, would have forborn so vile a character. Plato, in his Second Epistle, recounts to Dionysius some celebrated friendships of learned Men with Tyrants and Magistrates; Simonides’s with Hiero and Pausanias, Thales’s with Periander, Anaxagoras’s with Pericles, Solon’s and others with Croesus. Now, how could he have miss’d, had he ever heard of it, this of Stesichorus with Phalaris? being transacted in Sicily, and so a most proper and domestic Example. If you say, the infamy of Phalaris made him decline that odious instance: in that very word you pronounce our Epistles to be spurious. For if They had been known to Plato, even Phalaris would have appeared as moderate a Tyrant as Dionysius himself. Lucian, that feigns an Embassy from Phalaris to Delphi for the dedication of the Brazen Bull, makes an Oration in his Praise, as Isocrates does of Busiris; where, without doubt, he has gathered all the stories he knew he knew for Topics of his commendation: but he has not one word of his friendship with Stesichorus. Nor, indeed, has any body else. And do not you yet begin to suspect the credit of the Letters?
33. ‘Twould be endlessly to prosecute this part, and shew all the silliness and impertinency in the Matter of the Epistles. For, take them in the whole bulk, they are a fardle of Common Places, without any life or spirit from Action and Circumstance. Do but cast your eye upon Cicero’s Letters, or any States-man’s, as Phalaris was: what lively characters of Men there! what descriptions of Place! what notifications of Time! what particularity of Circumstances! what multiplicity of Designs and Events! When you return to these again, you feel by the emptiness and deadness of them, that you converse with some dreaming Pedant with his elbow on his desk; not with an active, ambitious Tyrant, with his Hand on his Sword, commanding a Million of Subjects. All that takes or affects you, is a stiffness and stateliness and operoseness of Stile: but as that is improper and unbecoming in all Epistles, so especially it is quite aliene from the character of Phalaris, a man of business and dispatch.
34. IT must needs be a great wonder to those that think the Letters genuine; how or where they were conceal’d, in what secret Cave, or unknown Corner of the World; so that no body ever heard of them for a thousand years together. Some trusty Servant of the Tyrant must have buried them under ground; and it was well that he did so. For if the Agrigentines had met with them, they had certainly gone to pot. They that burnt alive both Him, and his Relations, and his Friends; would never have spared such monument of him, to survive Them and their City. And without doubt it was immortal Vellum, and stoln from the Parchments of Jove; that could last for ten Ages, though untouch’d and unstirr’d; in spight of all damp and moisture, that moulders other mortal skins. For had our Letters been used or transcribed during that thousand years; some body would surely have spoken of them. Especially since so many of the Ancients had occasion to do so: so that their Silence is a direct argument that they never had heard of them. I have just now cited some passages of Pindar, Plato, and Lucian; which are a plain indication, that they were unknown to those Three. Nay, the last of these, besides the proof above-named from his silence and praetermission, does as good as declare expresly, that he never saw our Epistles. For, not to mention other differences of less moment, he makes both Phalaris, and his Smith Perilaus, to be born at Agrigentum; but the Letters bring one of them from Astypalaea, and the other from Athens. Lucian then knew nothing of them; or at least knew them, as I do, to be spurious, and below his notice. Much less could he be the Author of them, as Politian and his followers believe; for he would neither have been guilty of such flat Contradictions; nor have so forfeited all Learning and Wit, by those gross blunders in Chronology, and that wretched Pedantry in the Matter. And whosoever those Authors were, that Lucian followed, in this Narrative of Phalaris; They too are so many Witnesses against the Epistles. One can hardly believe, indeed, that the Sophist should venture to fetch his Tyrant from Astypalaea, without the warrant of some old Writer. But yet Lucian and other Authors compell us to think so. And we find him as fool-hardy on other occasions. Heraclides of Pontus, that liv’d within two Centuries of Phalaris’s Age, says, the Agrigentines, when they recover’d their Liberty, burnt Him and his Mother: but our Sophist makes him an Orphan, ÙrfanÄiaw peiray¡nai; which if any one shall contend to mean the loss of his Father only, yet still He and Herclides will not set horses together. For if Phalaris fled alone from Astypalaea, neither Wife nor Child nor any Relation following him, according to the Letters; how came the Old Woman to be roasted at Agrigentum? So little regard had the Sophist to fit his stories to true History: and I have had too much regard to him, in giving Him the Honour and Patience of so long an Examination.