This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
‘And those who have been wronged by many and yet never prosecuted, or taken vengeance on, the aggressors, these being what the proverb calls Mysians' spoil’, that is, an easy prey. Μυσῶν λεία dicitur de possessione quae defensore caret et obnoxia est direptori cuivis, Dissen ad Dem. de Corona, § 72; of anything that may be plundered with impunity, Liddell and Scott, Lex.; von allem durchaus preisgegebenen, Rost u. Palm, L. Harpocration and Suidas, s. vv., both explain the origin of the proverb to be the defenceless state of Mysia during the absence of their king Telephus, the famous beggar-hero of Euripides, and Horace's type of a pauper. See also Stallbaum's note on Gorgias 521 B, who quotes Olympiodorus (on the passage of Plato), ἡ παροιμία αὕτη ἐκ τοῦ Τηλέφου ἐστὶν Εὐριπίδου, ἐκεῖ γάρ κ.τ.λ. Whatever may be the origin of this proverb, it certainly was not derived from Euripides' play: for Harpocration expressly says that it is to be found in Strattis (the Comic poet) and Simonides ἐν ἰάμβοις. This last is probably Simonides of Amorgos, a very early writer; but if it be the other Simonides, of Ceos, it is equally impossible that he could have derived it from Euripides, since he died when Euripides was a child. The above explanations seem to be founded upon the helpless condition of the Mysian people under some special circumstances which deprived them of their ordinary means of self-defence. I should rather suppose that the proverb implies an imputation upon their national character, because another proverbial expression, at least as common as this, represents the Mysians, as sharing with the Carians, the reputation of being the vilest and most contemptible of mankind; the property of such mean and cowardly wretches would naturally be an easy prey to any one who chose to take it. This imputation of cowardice or weakness is directly conveyed by Aristotle in the passage before us. This brings the two proverbs together as the expression of the same features of national character. This will furnish a sufficient explanation of Gorg. 521 B, εἰ σοι Μυσόν γε ἥδιον καλεῖν, and we need not have recourse with Stallbaum and Heindorf (ad loc. § 162) to the Μυσῶν λείαν to interpret it. This proverbial contempt for the Mysian character appears in Rhes. 251, Pl. Theaet. 209 (Schol. in Heindorf and Stallbaum), Magnes, (Com.) Fr. Poastriae (in Meineke's Fragm. Comic. Gr. II 11), Philemon, Sicel. fr. 3 (Meineke u. s. IV 25), Menand. Androg. VII (Schol. Gorg. u. s., and Mein. IV 86), and Menand. Fr. Inc. 481 (Mein. IV 327), all in the words Μυσῶν ὁ ἔσχατος, ‘the last and lowest—even of the Mysians’, worthlessness can go no further. Cic. pro Flacco, 27. 65, quid in Graeco sermone tam tritum et celebratum est, quam si quis despicatui ducitur, ut ‘Mysorum ultimus’ esse dicatur. Ib. 2. 3; 40. 100; Orat. VIII 27, quonam igitur modo audiretur Mysus aut Phryx Athenis, quum etiam Demosthenes, &c. ad Quint. Fratr. I 1. 6 hominis ne Graeci quidem, at Mysii aut Phrygii potius. (Erasm. Adag. Mysorum postremus, p. 354.) The other form of the proverb occurs in Dem. de Cor. p. 248, § 72, τὴν Μυσῶν λείαν καλουμένην, in Strattis, Medea, (fr. Harpocr.) Mein. II 776. (Erasm. Adag. Mysorum praeda, p. 1774.)
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.