But there was among the Lacedæmonians an ancient kind of comic diversion, as Sosibius says, not very important or serious, since Sparta aimed at plainness even in pastimes. And the way was, that some one, using very plain, unadorned language, imitated persons stealing fruit, or else some foreign physician speaking in this way, as Allexis, in his Woman who has taken Mandragora, represents one: and he says—
If any surgeon of the country says,And those who practised this kind of sport were called among the Lacedæmonians δικηλισταὶ, which is a term equivalent to σκευοποιοὶ or μιμηταί.1 There are, however, many names, varying in different places, for this class of δικηλισταί; for the Sicyonians call them φαλλοφόροι, and others call them αὐτοκάβδαλοι, and some call them φλύακες, as the Italians do; but people in general call them Sophists: and the Thebans, who are very much in the habit of giving peculiar lames to many things, call them ἐθελονταί. But that the Thebans do introduce all kinds of innovations with respect to words, Strattis shows us in the Phœnissæ, where he says— [p. 992]
"Give him at early dawn a platter full
Of barley-broth," we shall at once despise him;
But if he says the same with foreign accent,
We marvel and admire him. If he call
The beet-root σεύτλιον, we disregard him;
But if he style it τεύτλιον, we listen,
And straightway, with attention fix'd, obey;
As if there were such difference between
σεύτλιον and τεύτλιον.
You, you whole body of Theban citizens,
Know absolutely nothing; for I hear
You call the cuttle-fish not σηπία,
But ὀπισθότιλα. Then, too, you term
A cock not ἀλεκτρύων, but ὀρτάλιχος:
A physician is no longer in your mouths
ἰατρὸς—no, but σακτάς. For a bridge,
You turn γέφυρα into βλέφυρα.
Figs are not σῦκα now, but τῦκα: swallows,
κωτιλάδες, not χελιδόνες. A mouthful
With you is ἄκολος; to laugh, ἐκριδδέμεν.
A new-seled shoe you call νεοσπάτωτον.