An Ancient Roman Bathroom Book

A collection of stories, legends, and snappy comebacks preserved for us by one of the most entertaining companions among ancient writers. It’s a long and rambling conversation with an ancient Roman whose mind is full of trivia, and who knows how to make those trivia as interesting to us as they are to him.

I am told there is a Law at Thebes, which commands Artificers, both Painters and Potters, to make the Figures as good as may be. This Law menaceth to those who mould or paint them not well a pecuniary mulct.

Socrates being very old fell sick; and one asking him how he did, “Well, saith he, both waies: for if I live longer, I shall have more Emulators; if I die, more Praisers.”

I have heard of a woman that could sound a Trumpet, which art was her way of living, by name Aglais, daughter of Megacles; she wore a Periwig and a plume on her head, as Posidippus relates. At one meal she did devour twelve pounds of flesh, and four Chœnixes of bread, and drank a Congius of wine.

Which of these two was the better General, Demetrius Poliorcetes, or Timotheus the Athenian? I will tell you the nature of both, and then you may judge which deserves to be preferred. Demetrius by force and avarice, and oppressing many, and committing injustice, took Cities, battering their Walls with Engines, and undermining them: but Timotheus by discourse, persuading them it was most to their advantage to obey the Athenians.

The Various History of Aelian, at Amazon.com.

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