Most of the Athenians perished in the stone quarries of disease and evil fare, their daily rations being a pint of barley meal and a half-pint of water; but not a few were stolen away and sold into slavery, or succeeded in passing themselves off for serving men. These, when they were sold, were branded in the forehead with the mark of a horse,—yes, there were some freemen who actually suffered this indignity in addition to their servitude.
But even these were helped by their restrained and decorous bearing; some were speedily set free, and some remained with their masters in positions of honor. Some also were saved for the sake of Euripides. For the Sicilians, it would seem, more than any other Hellenes outside the home land, had a yearning fondness for his poetry. They were forever learning by heart the little specimens and morsels of it which visitors brought them from time to time, and imparting them to one another with fond delight.
In the present case, at any rate, they say that many Athenians who reached home in safety greeted Euripides with affectionate hearts, and recounted to him, some that they had been set free from slavery for rehearsing what they remembered of his works; and some that when they were roaming about after the final battle they had received food and drink for singing some of his choral hymns. Surely, then, one need not wonder at the story that the Caunians, when a vessel of theirs would have put in at the harbor of Syracuse to escape pursuit by pirates, were not admitted at first, but kept outside, until, on being asked if they knew any songs of Euripides, they declared that they did indeed, and were for this reason suffered to bring their vessel safely in.