The Roman and Greek Questions, by Plutarch, tr. Frank Cole Babbitt, , at sacred-texts.com
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40. Who was the hero Eunostus in Tanagra, and why may no women enter his grove?
Eunostus was the son of Elieus, who was the son of Cephisus, and Scias. They relate that he acquired his name because he was brought up by the nymph Eunosta. Handsome and righteous as he was, he was no less virtuous and ascetic. They say that Ochnê, his cousin, one of the daughters of Colonus, became enamoured of him; but when Eunostus repulsed her advances and, after upbraiding her, departed to accuse her to her brothers, the maiden forestalled him by doing this very thing against him. She incited her brothers, Echemus, Leon, and Bucolus, to kill Eunostus, saying that he had consorted with her by force. They, accordingly, lay in ambush for the young man and slew him. Then Elieus put them in bonds; but Ochnê repented, and was filled with trepidation and, wishing to free herself from the torments caused by her love, and also feeling pity for her brothers, reported the whole truth to Elieus, and he to Colonus. And when Colonus had given judgement, Ochnê's brothers were banished, and she threw herself from a precipice, as Myrtis, a the lyric poetess of Anthedon, has related.
But the shrine and the grove of Eunostus were so strictly guarded against entry and approach by women that, often, when earthquakes or droughts or other signs from heaven occurred, the people of Tanagra were wont to search diligently and to be greatly concerned lest any woman might have approached the place undetected; and some relate, among them Cleidamus, a man of prominence, that Eunostus met them on his way to the sea to bathe
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because a woman had set foot within the sacred precinct. And Diodes a also, in his treatise upon the Shrines of Heroes, quotes a decree of the people of Tanagra concerning the matters which Cleidamus reported.
41. From what cause was a river in Boeotia in the vicinity of Eleon called Scamander?
Deïmachus, the son of Eleon and a companion of Heracles, took part in the expedition against Troy. But since, as it appears, the war was dragging on, he welcomed to his quarters Glaucia, the daughter of Scamander, who had fallen in love with him, and got her with child; then he himself fell in fighting against the Trojans. But Glaucia, fearing detection, fled for refuge, and told Heracles of her love and of her association with Deïmachus. And he, both through pity for the woman, and for joy that the stock of a brave man who was his close friend should thus survive, took Glaucia on board his fleet; and when she gave birth to a son, he brought both the child and the mother, and delivered them to Eleon in Boeotia. The child was named Scamander, and he became the king of the country; and he named the Inachus river Scamander after himself, and the stream near by he called Glaucia from his mother. The spring Acidusa he named after his wife; and from her he had three daughters whom even to this day they honour under the name of the "Maidens."
42. Whence arose the proverbial saying, "This is valid"?
When Deinon of Tarentum, a brave soldier, was
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general, his fellow-citizens voted to reject a certain proposal of his. When the herald reported the prevailing majority, he held up his right hand and said, "But this is stronger." This is Theophrastus's a version of the story; but Apollodorus has a supplementary version, that when the herald of the Tarentines proclaimed, "These are in the majority," Deinon said, "But these are better!" and validated the vote of the minority.
43. For what reason was the city of the Ithacans called Alalcomenae?
Because Anticleia, while yet a virgin, was violated by Sisyphus and conceived Odysseus. This is related by several authorities b; but Ister c of Alexandria in his Commentaries has in addition recorded that when Anticlea had been given in marriage to Laërtes and was being conducted to his home, she gave birth to Odysseus near the Alalcomenium in Boeotia. And for this reason, as though referring the name to that of a mother-city, he states that the city in Ithaca acquired its name.
44. Who were the "solitary eaters" in Aegina?
Of the Aeginetans who were engaged in the war against Troy many perished in the battles there, but even more were destroyed by the storm on the return-voyage. So there were but few who survived, and when their relatives had welcomed them home, and observed that the other citizens were in mourning and sorrow, they deemed it proper neither to rejoice
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nor to sacrifice to the gods openly; but secretly and separately in their own houses they received with feasting and good cheer those who had reached home in safety. They themselves waited upon their fathers and kinsmen, their brothers and relatives, and no one outside the family was allowed to enter. It is, then, in imitation of this that they hold a sacrifice to Poseidon, which is called thiasoi, a in which they feast by themselves in silence for sixteen days, and no slave is present. Then, when they have celebrated the Aphrodisia, they terminate the festival. For this reason they are called "solitary eaters."
45. Why is it that the statue of the Labrandean Zeus in Caria is fashioned holding an axe, but not a sceptre or a thunderbolt?
Because when Heracles had slain Hippolytê, together with her other arms he took her axe and gave it as a present to Omphalê. The Lydian kings who succeeded Omphalê used to carry it as a part of the sacred regalia, handing it down one to the other until it came to Candaules. He deemed it of little worth and gave it to one of his Companions b to carry. But when Gyges c revolted and was at war with Candaules, Arselis came from Mylasa with an army as an ally for Gyges and slew both Candaules and his Companion and brought the axe to Caria together with the other spoils. He therefore constructed a statue of Zeus and placed the axe in its hand, and
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called the god Labrandeus; for the Lydians call the axe labrys. a
46. Why is it that the people of Tralles call vetch "purifier" and make particular use of it for expiations and purifications?
Is it because the Leleges and Minyae in days of old drove them out and took possession of their city and their land, and because later the Trallians returned and prevailed, and as many of the Leleges as had not been slain nor had fled away, but had been left behind there because of their destitution and weakness—of these they took no account either of their life or of their death, and they established a law that any Trallian who killed a Minyan or a Lelegian should be free from pollution when he had measured out a bushel of vetch to the relatives of the murdered man?
47. Why is there a proverb among the Eleans "to suffer more terribly than Sambicus"?
The story is told that a certain Sambicus, an Elean, at the head of a numerous group of confederates, cut many pieces from the bronze votive statues in Olympia and sold them, and finally he despoiled the shrine of Artemis the Guardian. This is in Elis and is called the Aristarcheum. Immediately, then, after this sacrilege, he was caught and tortured for a year, being interrogated about each of his confederates in turn; and in this manner he died and the proverb arose from his sufferings.
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48. Why at Sparta is a shrine of Odysseus built near the shrine of the daughters of Leucippus?
Erginus, one of the descendants of Diomedes, was persuaded by Temenus to steal the Palladium from Argos; this he did with the knowledge and help of Leagrus, who was one of Temenus's friends. But later Leagrus became incensed at Temenus and removed to Sparta, taking the Palladium with him. The Spartan kings received it eagerly, and gave it a place near the shrine of the daughters of Leucippus, and they sent to Delphi to obtain an oracle concerning its safety and preservation. When the god gave oracle that one of those who had purloined the Palladium should be made its guardian, the Spartans constructed there the shrine of Odysseus, especially since, because of his marriage with Penelopê, a they reckoned that this hero had close relations with their city.
49. Why is it the custom for the women of Chalcedon, whenever they encounter strange men, and especially officials, to veil one cheek?
The Chalcedonians were involved in a war against the Bithynians, to which they were provoked by all kinds of reasons. When Zeipoetes became king of Bithynia, the Chalcedonians, in full force and with the addition of Thracian allies, devastated the country with fire and sword. When Zeipoetes attacked them near the so-called Phalion, they fought badly through rashness and lack of discipline, and lost over eight thousand soldiers. It was only because Zeipoetes granted an armistice to please the Byzantines that they were not completely annihilated at that time. Since, then, there was a great scarcity of men
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throughout the city, most of the women were forced to consort with freedmen and resident aliens. But those women who preferred to have no husband at all rather than a marriage of this sort, themselves conducted whatever business they needed to transact with the judges or the officials, drawing aside one part of the veil that covered their faces. And the married women, for very shame, followed the example of these, who, they felt, were better than themselves, and also changed to a similar custom.
227:a Cf. Edmonds, Lyra Graeca, iii. p. 3.
229:a Müller, Frag. Hist. Graec. iii. p. 78.
231:a Frag. 133 (ed. Wimmer).
231:b Cf. Sophocles, Philoctetes, 417, with Jebb's note; Frag. 567 (ed. Pearson), with the note.
231:c Müller, Frag. Hist. Graec. i. p. 426.
233:b Technically a Hellenistic court office, but Plutarch seems to assume such a relation in early Lydian history.
233:c The many ancient variants of the Gyges legend are collected and discussed by K. F. Smith, American Jour. Phil., 1902, pp. 261 ff., 362 ff.; 1920, pp. 1 ff.
235:a One is reminded of the many representations of the double axe on Cretan monuments.
237:a The daughter of the Spartan Icarius.