previous next


[18arg] The story of Artemisia; and of the contest at the tomb of Mausolus in which celebrated writers took part.

ARTEMISIA is said to have loved her husband Mausolus with a love surpassing all the tales of passion and beyond one's conception of human [p. 263] affection. Now Mausolus, as Marcus Tullius tells us, 1 was king of the land of Caria; according to some Greek historians he was governor of a province, the official whom the Greeks term a satrap. When this Mausolus had met his end amid the lamentations and in the arms of his wife, 2 and had been buried with a magnificent funeral, Artemisia, inflamed with grief and with longing for her spouse, mingled his bones and ashes with spices, ground them into the form of a powder, put them in water, and drank them; and she is said to have given many other proofs of the violence of her passion. For perpetuating the memory of her husband, she also erected, with great expenditure of labour, that highly celebrated tomb, 3 which has been deemed worthy of being numbered among the seven wonders of the world. 4 When Artemisia dedicated this monument, consecrated to the deified shades of Mausolus, she instituted an agon, that is to say, a contest in celebrating his praises, offering magnificent prizes of money and other valuables. Three men distinguished for their eminent talent and eloquence are said to have come to contend in this eulogy, Theopompus, Theodectes 5 and Naucrates; some have even written that Isocrates himself entered the lists with them. But Theopompus was adjudged the victor in that contest. He was a pupil of Isocrates.

[p. 265] The tragedy of Theodectes, entitled Mausolus, is still extant to-day; and that in it Theodectes was more pleasing than in his prose writings is the opinion of Hyginus in his Examples. 6

1 Tusc. Disp. iii. 75.

2 In 353 B.C.

3 The famous Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, adorned by Scopas, Bryaxis, Timotheus and Leochares with sculptures, the remains of which are now in the British Museum. It was a square building, 140 feet high, surrounded by Ionic columns. It stood upon a lofty base and was surmounted by a pyramid of steps ending in a platform, on which was a four-horse chariot. The term mausoleum was applied by the Romans to large and magnificent tombs such as the mausoleum of Augustus and that of Hadrian.

4 The other six “wonders” were: The walls and hanging gardens of Babylon; the temple of Diana at Ephesus; the statue of Olympian Zeus by Phidias; the Pyramids; and the Pharos, or lighthouse, at Alexandria.

5 The more approved spelling is Theodectas; see C.I.G. ii. 977.

6 Fr. 1, Peter.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Introduction (John C. Rolfe, 1927)
load focus Latin (John C. Rolfe, 1927)
hide References (7 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: