This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
To Herodes Atticus, the ex-consul, renowned for his personal charm and his Grecian eloquence, there [p. 157] once came, when I was present, a man in a cloak, with long hair and a beard that reached almost to his waist, and asked that money be given him εἰς ἄρτους, that is, “for bread.” Then Herodes asked him who on earth he was, and the man, with anger in his voice and expression, replied that he was a philosopher, adding that he wondered why Herodes thought it necessary to ask what was obvious. “I see,” said Herodes, “a beard and a cloak; the philosopher I do not yet see. Now, I pray you, be so good as to tell me by what evidence you think we may recognize you as a philosopher.” Meanwhile some of Herodes' companions told him that the fellow was a vagabond of worthless character, who frequented foul dives and was in the habit of being shamefully abusive if he did not get what he demanded. Thereupon Herodes said: “Let us give him some money, whatever his character may be, not because he is a man, but because we are men,” and he ordered enough money to be given him to buy bread for thirty days. Then, turning to those of us who were with him, he said: “Musonius 1 ordered a thousand sesterces to be given to a fakir of this sort who posed as a philosopher, and when several told him that the fellow was a rascal and knave and deserving of nothing good, Musonius, they say, replied with a smile: ἄξιος οὖν ἐστὶν ἀργυρίου, 'then he deserves money.' But,” said Herodes, “it is rather this that causes me resentment and vexation, that foul and evil beasts of this sort usurp a most sacred name and call themselves philosophers. Now, my ancestors the Athenians by public decree made it unlawful for slaves ever to be given the names of those valiant youths Harmodius [p. 159] and Aristogeiton, who to restore liberty tried to slay the tyrant Hippias; 2 for they thought it impious for the names of men who had sacrificed themselves for their country's freedom to be disgraced by contact with slavery. Why then do we allow the glorious title of philosopher to be defiled in the person of the basest of men? Moreover,” said he, “I hear that the early Romans, setting a similar example in a case of the opposite nature, voted that the forenames of certain patricians who had deserved ill of their country and for that reason had been condemned to death should never be given to any patrician of the same clan, in order that their very names might seem to be dishonoured and done to death, as well as the malefactors themselves.” 3
1 p. 132, Hense.
2 In 514 B.C. They slew Hipparchus, brother of Hippias and son of Pisistratus. Hippias was afterwards driven from the city and the tyrannicides, who had lost their lives in their attempt, received almost divine honours.
3 An example, the discarding of the forename Lucius by the Claudii, is given by Suetonius, Tib. i. 2.
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.