All the consult approved of Thales's solutions. Then
Cleodemus said: My friend Niloxenus, it becomes kings to
propound and resolve such questions; but the insolence of
that barbarian who would have Amasis drink the sea would
have been better fitted by such a smart reprimand as Pittacus gave Alyattes, who sent an imperious letter to the
Lesbians. He made him no answer, except to bid him spend
his time in eating his hot bread and onions.
Periander here assumed the discourse, and said: It was
the manner of the ancient Grecians heretofore, O Cleodemus, to propound doubts to one another; and it hath been
told us, that the most famous and eminent poets once met
at the grave of Amphidamas in Chalcis. This Amphidamas was a leading citizen, one that had perpetual wars
with the Eretrians, and at last lost his life in one of the
battles fought for the possession of the Lelantine plain.
Now, because the writings of those poets were composed
in verse, and so made the argument more knotty and the
decision more difficult, and the great names of the antagonists, Homer and Hesiod, whose excellence was so well
known, made the umpires timorous and shy to determine;
they therefore betook themselves to these sorts of questions,
and Homer, says Lesches, propounded this riddle:—
Tell me, O Muse, what never was
And never yet shall be.
Hesiod answered readily and extempore in this wise:—
When steeds with sounding hoof, to win
The prize, shall run amain;
And at the tomb of mighty Jove
Their chariots break in twain.
For this reply he was infinitely commended and won the
tripod. Pray tell me, quoth Cleodemus, what difference
there is between these riddles and those of Eumetis, which
she frames and invents to recreate herself with as much
pleasure as other virgins make nets and girdles? They
may be fit to offer and puzzle women withal; but for men
to beat their brains to find out their mystery would be
mighty ridiculous. Eumetis looked like one that had a
great mind to reply; but her modesty would not permit
her, for her face was filled with blushes. But Esop in her
vindication asked: Is it not much more ridiculous that
all present cannot resolve the riddle she propounded to us
before supper? This was as follows:—
A man I saw, who by his fire
Did set a piece of brass
Fast to a man, so that it seemed
To him it welded was.
Can you tell me, said he, how to construe this, and what
the sense of it may be? No, said Cleodemus, nor do I
care to know what it means. And yet, quoth Esop, no man
understands this thing better and practises it more judiciously and successfully than yourself. If you deny it, I have
my witnesses ready; for there are your cupping glasses.
Cleodemus laughed outright; for of all the physicians
in his time, none used cupping-glasses like him, he being
a person that by his frequent and fortunate application
thereof brought them first into request in the world.