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And Diphilus, in his Theseus, says that there were once three Samian damsels, who, on the day of the festival of Adonis, used to delight themselves in solving riddles at their feasts. And that when some one had proposed to them this riddle, “What is the strongest of all things?” one said iron, and alleged the following reasons for her opinion, because that is the instrument with which men dig and cut, and that is the material which they use for all purposes. And when she had been applauded, the second damsel said that a blacksmith exerted much greater strength, for that he, when he was at work, bent this strong iron, and softened it, and used it for whatever purposes he chose. And the third said, they were both wrong, and that love was the strongest thing of all, for that love could subdue a blacksmith.

And Achæus the Eretrian, though he is usually a very clear poet as respects the structure of his poems, sometimes makes his language obscure, and says many things in an enigmatical style; as, for instance, in his Iris, which is a satyric play. For he says, “A cruet of litharge full of ointment was suspended from a Spartan tablet, written upon and twisted on a double stick;” meaning to say a white strap, from which a silver cruet was suspended; and he has spoken of a Spartan written tablet when he merely meant the Spartan scytale. And that the Lacedæmonians put a white strap, on which they wrote whatever they wished, around the scytale, we are told plainly enough by Apollonius Rhodius, in his Treatise on Archilochus. And Stesichorus, in his Helen, speaks of a footpan of litharge; and Ion, in his Phœnix or Cæneus, calls the birdlime the sweat of the oak, saying—

The sweat of oaks, and a long leafy branch
Cut from a bush supports me, and a thread
Drawn from Egyptian linen, clever snare
To catch the flying birds.

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