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And what punishment had the Athenians who could not solve this riddle when proposed to them, if it was only to drink a bowl of mixed wine, as Clearchus has stated in his Definition? And, in the first book of his treatise on Proverbs, he writes thus—“The investigation of riddles is not unconnected with philosophy; for the ancients used to make a display of their erudition by such things; for they used at their entertainments to ask questions, not such as the men of the present day ask one another, as to what sort of amorous enjoyment is the most delicious, or what kind of fish is nicest, or what is most in season at the moment; or again, what fish is best to eat at the time of Arcturus, or what after the rising of the Pleiades, or of the Dogstar. And then they offer kisses as prizes for those who gain the victory in such questions; such as are hateful to men of liberal sentiments; and as a punishment for those who are defeated they enjoin them to drink sheer wine; which they drink more willingly than the cup of health. For these things are well adapted to any one who has devoted his attention to the writings of Philænis and Archestratus, or who has studied the books called Gastro- [p. 723] logies. They preferred such plays as these;—when the first person had recited a verse, the others were bound to quote the verse following; or if any one had quoted a sentence from some poet, the rest were bound to produce a sentence from some other poet expressing the same sentiments. After that, every one was bound to repeat an iambic. And then, each person was to repeat a line of such and such a number of syllables precisely; and so on with everything that related to any acquaintance with letters and syllables. And in a similar manner they would be bound to repeat the names of all the commanders in the army which attacked Troy, or of all the Trojan leaders: or to tell the name of some city in Asia beginning with a given letter; and then the next person was to tell the name of a city in Europe: and then they were to go through the rest according as they were desired to give the names of Grecian or barbarian cities; so that this sport, not being an inconsiderate one, was a sort of exhibition of the ability and learning of each individual. And the prizes given were a garland and applause, things by which love for one another is especially sweetened.”
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