Ancient writers about Macedonia – Athenaeus Deipnosophistes

 

Book IV. 166 f -167 d

Concerning the extravagance and mode of life of Philip and his companions Theopompus writes the following in the forty-ninth book of the Histories. ‘After Philip had become possessor of a large fortune he did not spend it fast. No! he threw it outdoors and cast it away, being the worst manager in the world. This was true of his companions as well as himself. For to put it unqualifiedly, not one of them knew how to live uprightly or to manage an estate discreetly. He himself was to blame for this; being insatiable and extravagant, he did everything in a reckless manner, whether he was acquiring or giving. For as a soldier he had not time to count up revenues and expenditures. Add to this also that his companions were men who had rushed to his side from very many quarters; some were from the land to which he himself belonged, others were from Thessaly, still others were from all the rest of Greece, selected not for their supreme merit; on the contrary, nearly every man in the Greek or barbarian world of a lecherous, loathsome, or ruffianly character flocked to Macedonia and won the title of “companions of Philip.” And even supposing that one of them was not of this sort when he came, he soon became like all the rest, under the influence of the Macedonian life and habits. It was partly the wars and campaigns, partly also the extravagances of living that incited them to be ruffians, and live, not in a law-abiding spirit, but prodigally and like highwaymen.’

Book VI.231 b-c

After Aemilianus had concluded these many remarks, pontianus said: “As a matter of fact, gold was really very scarce in Greece in ancient times, and the silver to be found in the mines was not considerable. Duris of Samos, therefore, says that Philip, the father of king Alexander the Great, always kept the small gold saucer which he owned lying under his pillow.

Therefore Macedonia was also part of Greece.

Book VIII. 348 e – f

And Machon records these reminiscences of him: ‘Once on a time Stratonicus journeyed to Pella, having previously heard from several sources that the baths there usually made people splenetic. Well, observing several lads exercising in the bath beside the fire, all of them with bodies and complexions at the top of their form, he said that his informants had made a mistake. But when he came out again, he noticed a man who had a spleen twice as large as his belly. (He remarked) “The door-keeper who sits here and receives the cloaks of patrons as they enter must plainly have an eye on their spleens as well, to make sure immediately that the people inside are not crowded” ’

Stratonicus the Athenean harp player, who lived in 4th c. BC as we learn journeyed to Pella and had absolutely no problem to communicate with Macedonians. Some of his jokes about Macedonians have been preserved until now.

Book XII. 537 d – 540 a

Speaking of Alexander the Great’s luxury, Ephippus of Olynthus in his book On the Death of Hephaestion and Alexander says that in the park there was erected for him a golden throne and couches with silver legs, on which he sat when transacting business in the company of his boon companions. And Nicobule says that during dinner every sort of contestant exerted their efforts to entertain the king, and that in the course of his last dinner Alexander in person acted from memory a scene from the Andromeda of Euripides, and pledging toasts in unmixed wine with zest compelled the others also to do likewise. Ephippus, again, says that Alexander also wore the sacred vestments at his dinner parties, at one time putting on the purple robe of Ammon, and thin slippers and horns just like the gods, at another time the costume of Artemis, which he often wore even in his chariot, wearing the Persian garb and showing above the shoulders the bow and hunting-spear of the goddess, while at still other times he was garbed in the costume of Hermes; on other occasions as a rule, and in every-day use, he wore a purple riding-cloak, a purple tunic with white stripes, and the Macedonian hat with the royal fillet; but on social occasions he wore the winged sandals and broad-brimmed hat on his head, and carried the caduceus in his hand; yet often, again, he bore the lion’s skin and club in imitation of Heracles. What wonder that the Emperor Commodus of our time also had the club of Hercules lying beside him in his chariot with the lion’s skin spread out beneath him, and desired to be called Hercules, seeing that Alexander, Aristotle’s pupil, got himself up like so may gods, to say nothing of the goddess Artemis? Alexander sprinkled the very floor with valuable perfumes and scented wine. In his honour myrrh and other kinds of incense went up in smoke; a religious stillness and silence born of fear held fast all who were in his presence. For he was hot-tempered and murderous, reputed, in fact, to be melancholy-mad. At Ecbatana he arranged a festival in honour of Dionysus, everything being supplied at the feast with lavish expense, and Satrabates the satrap entertained all the troops. Many gathered to see the sight, says Ephippus; proclamations were made which were exceedingly boastful and more insolent than the usual Persian arrogance. For among the various proclamations made in particular, a custodian of munitions overstepped all the bounds of flattery and, in collusion with Alexander, he bade the herald proclaim that “Gorgus, the custodian of munitions, presented Alexander, son of Ammon, with three thousand gold pieces, and promised that whenever he should besiege Athens he would give him ten thousand complete suits of armour, the same number of catapults, and all other missiles besides, enough to prosecute the war.”

What do we have here? Alexander fond of Eurypides works?? arranging festivals in honour of greek gods??

Book XIII. 572 d – e

Concerning the professional “companions” Philetaerus says this in The Huntress: “No wonder there is a shrine to the Companion everywhere, but nowhere in all Greece is there one to the Wife.” But I know also of a festival, the Hetairideia, celebrated in Magnesia, not in honour of these “companions” (hetaerae) but for a different reason, which is mentioned by Hegesander in his Commentaries, writing thus: The Magnesians celebrate the festival of the Hetairideia. They record that Jason the son of Aeson, after gathering the Argonauts together, was the first to sacrifice to Zeus Hetaireios* and that he called the festival Hetairideia. And the kings of Macedonia also celebrate with sacrifices the Hetairideia.”

Thessalians and Macedonians having the same festivals. Of course only for skops its a coincidence.

Book XIII. 594 d – 596 b

Harpalus, the Macedonian who plundered large sums from Alexander’s funds and then sought refuge in Athens, fell in love with Pythionice and squandered a great deal on her, though she was a courtesan; and when she died he erected a monument to her costing many talents. “And so, when he bore her to the place of burial,” as Poseidonius declares in the twenty-second book of his Histories, “he escorted the corpse with a large choir of the most distinguished artists, with all kinds of instruments and sweet tones.” And Dicaearchus, in his books On the Descent into the Cave of Trophonius, says: “One would feel the same when going up to the city of Athens by way of the Sacred Road, as it is called, from Eleusis. For there, stationing himself at the point from which the temple of Athena and the citadel are first seen in the distance, he will observe a monument, built right beside the road, the like of which, in its size, is not even approached by any other. One would naturally declare quite positively, at first, that this was a monument to Miltiades, or Pericles, or Cimon, or some other man of noble rank and character and, in particular, that it had been erected by the state at public expense or, failing that, that permission to erect it had been given by the state. But when, on again looking, one discovers that it is a monument to Pythionice the courtesan, what must one be led to expect? Again, Theopompus, when denouncing in his Letter to Alexander the licentiousness of Harpalus, says: “Consider and learn clearly from our agents in Babylon how he ordered the funeral of Pythionice when she died. She, to be sure, was a slave of the flute-girl Bacchis, who in turn was a slave of the Thracian woman Sinope, who had transferred her practice of harlotry from Aegina to Athens; hence Pythionice was not only triply a slave, but also triply a harlot. Now, with the sum of more than two hundred talents he erected two monuments to her; the thing that surprised everyone is this, that whereas for the men who died in Cilicia defending your kingdom and the liberty of Greece neither he nor anyone else among the officials has as yet erected a proper tomb, for the courtesan Pythionice the monument at Athens and the other in Babylon have already stood completed a long time. Here was a woman who, as everybody knew, had been shared by all who desired her at the same price for all, and yet for this woman the man who says he is your friend has set up a shrine and a sacred enclosure and has called the temple and the altar by the name of Aphrodite Pythionice, by one and the same act showing his contempt for the vengeance of the gods and endeavouring to heap insults on the offices you bestow.” These persons are also mentioned by Philemon in The Man of Babylon: “You shall be queen of Babylon, if luck so falls; you have heard of Pythionice and Harpalus.” And Alexis also mentions her in Lyciscus.

So Alexander’s Macedonians who died in Cilicia defended their kingdom and of coursethe liberty of Greece!!

Lysimachos Articles – Athenaeus Deipnosophistes

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Want more of this? See these Posts:

  1. Ancient writers about Macedonia – Polybius
  2. Ancient writers about Macedonia – Pausanias
  3. Ancient writers about Macedonia – Pausanias
  4. Ancient writers about Macedonia – Strabo
  5. Ancient writers about Macedonia – Arrian
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