aleator classicus

Reading at Random in Classical Literature

Xenophanes, fr. 7

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This fragment of Xenophanes’ poetry survives in a quotation by Diogenes Laertius (8.36). The 6th-century BC poet-philosopher tells a story about Pythagoras’ opposition to animal cruelty – although, to quote Catherine Osborne (Dumb Beasts and Dead Philosophers, Oxford 2007, 47), ‘It is wholly unclear from the context whether Xenophanes is poking fun at Pythagoras[…] or whether he is an admirer’.

ὁ δὲ περὶ αὐτοῦ φησιν, οὕτως ἔχει·

καί ποτέ μιν στυφελιζομένου σκύλακος παριόντα
φασὶν ἐποικτῖραι καὶ τόδε φάσθαι ἔπος·
‘παῦσαι μηδὲ ῤάπιζ᾿, ἐπεὶ ἦ φίλου ἀνέρος ἐστίν
ψυχή, τὴν ἔγνων φθεγξαμένης ἀίων’.

And what he says about him (=Pythagoras) is as follows:

And on one occasion, they say, he was walking past when a puppy was being maltreated. Taking pity on it he made this speech: ‘Stop! Don’t thrash him, because it’s the soul of a man dear to me; I recognised it when I heard it screaming.’

Written by aleatorclassicus

August 8, 2010 at 12:00 PM

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