aleator classicus

Reading at Random in Classical Literature

Philo of Byzantium, On the Seven Wonders of the World

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I’ve just been teaching about the Pharos at Alexandria, famously one of the seven wonders of the ancient world – except it’s not on the ancient lists of the wonders! Philo of Byzantium (a different chap from Philo of Alexandria) is credited with a short essay on the subject. Orelli’s edition of Philo’s work is actually a fantastic compendium of ancient discussions of the Wonders, and is well worth a look.

In this introductory section, Philo explains why it is hard trying to visit all the Wonders in person.

τῶν ἑπτὰ θεαμάτων ἕκαστον φημῃ μὲν γινώσκεται πᾶσιν, ὄψει δὲ σπανίοις ὁρᾶται. δεῖ γὰρ εἰς Πέρσας ἀποδημῆσαι, καὶ διαπλεῦσαι τὸν Εὐφράτην, καὶ τὴν Αἴγυπτον ἐπελθεῖν, καὶ τοῖς Ἠλείοις τῆς Ἑλλάδος ἐνεπιδημῆσαι, καὶ τῆς Καρίας εἰς Ἁλικαρνασσὸν ἐλθεῖν, καὶ Ῥόδῳ προσπλεῦσαι, καὶ τῆς Ἰωνίας τὴν Ἔφεσον θεάσασθαι· πλανηθέντα δὲ τὸν κόσμον, καὶ τῷ κόπῳ τῆς ἀποδημίας ἐκλυθέντα, τότε πληρῶσαι τὴν ἐπιθυμίαν, ὅτε καὶ τοῖς ἔτεσι τοῦ ζῇν ὁ βίος παρῴχηκεν.

The seven wonders are each known to everyone by repute, but few people have seen them all. For you need to travel abroad to Persia, sail across the Euphrates, go to Egypt, pay a visit to the Elians in Greece, go to Halicarnassus in Caria, sail up to Rhodes, and see the sights of Ephesus in Ionia. And when you have travelled the world and been worn out by the exertion of foreign travel, only then will your desire be satisfied – by which time your life has gone by, along with its best years.

Written by aleatorclassicus

September 28, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Philo of Byzantium

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