And I do not think it unseasonable myself, since I [p. 549] have mentioned the harp-player Stratonicus, to say some- thing also concerning his readiness in repartee. For when he was teaching people to play the harp, and as he had in his school nine statues of the nine Muses, and one of Apollo, and had also two pupils, when some one asked him how many pupils he had, he said, “Gods and all, twelve.” And once when he had travelled to Mylassa, and saw thee a great number of temples, but very few citizens, standing in the middle of the forum, he cried out—
Once Stratonicus travell'd down to Pella,
And having heard from many men before
That the baths of that city were accustom'd
To give the bathers spleen; and finding, too,
That many of the youths did exercise
Before the fire, who preserved their colour
And vigour of their body unimpair'd;
He said that those who told him so were wrong.
But finding afterwards, when he left the bath,
A man whose spleen was twice his belly's size,—
“This man,” said he, "appears to me here now
To sit and keep the garments of the men
Who go to bathe, and all their spleens beside,
That all the people may have room enough."
A miserable singer once did give
A feast to Stratonicus and his friends,
And, while the cup was freely going round,
Exhibited his art to all the company.
And as the feast was rich and liberal,'
Poor Stratonicus, wearied with the song,
And having no one near him he could speak to,
Knock'd down his cup, and asked for a larger.
And when he'd drunk full many a draught, he made
A last libation to the glorious sun,
And then composed himself to sleep, and left
The rest to fortune. Presently more guests
Came, as good luck would have it, to the singer,
To feast with him; still Stratonicus slept,
Heavy with wine; and when they ask'd him why
A man so much accustom'd to drink wine
Had been so soon o'ercome by drink this day,
“This treacherous, cursed singing man,” said he,
"Treated me like a bullock in a stall;
For first he fed me up, and then he kill'd me."
[p. 550] Once Stratonicus to Abdera went,
To see some games which there were celebrated;
And seeing every separate citizen
Having a private crier to himself,
And each of them proclaiming a new moon
Whene'er he pleased, so that the criers were
Quite out of all proportion to the citizens,
He walk'd about on tiptoes through the city,
Looking intently on the ground beneath.
And when some stranger ask'd him what had happen'd
To his feet, to make him look so gravely at them:—
He said, "I'm very well all over, friend,
And can run faster to an entertainment
Than any parasite; but I'm in fear
Lest I should tread by hazard on some κῆρυξ,2
And pierce my foot with its spikes and lame myself."
Once, when a wretched flute-player was preparing
To play the flute at a sacred festival,
“Let us have only sounds of omen good,”
Said Stratonicus; "let us pour libations
And pray devoutly to the mighty gods."
There was a harper, and his name was Cleon,
But he was nick-named Ox; he sang most vilely
Without th' accompaniment of the lyre.
When Stratonicus heard him, then he said,
"I've often heard of asses at the lyre,
But now I see an ox in the same case."
The harper Stratonicus once had sail'd
To Pontus, to see king Berisadæs.
And when he'd staid in Pontus long enough,
He thought he would return again to Greece.
But when the king refused to let him go,
They say that Stratonicus said to him—
“Why, do you mean to stay here long yourself?”
The harper Stratonicus once was staying
Some time at Corinth; when an aged woman
One day stood looking at him a long time,
And would not take her eyes off: then said he,
"Tell me, I pray you, in God's name, good mother,
What is 't you wish, and why you look thus on me?"
“I marvell'd,” said she, "how 'twas your mother
Held you nine months, without her belly bursting,
While this town can't endure you one whole day."
Fair Biothea, Nicotheon's wife,
Once at a party with a handmaid fair
Made some strange noise; and after that, by chance,
She trod upon a Sicyonian almond.
Then Stratonicus said, “The noise is different.”
But when night came, for this heedless word,
He wash'd out his free-speaking in the sea.
[p. 551] Once, when at Ephesus, as rumour goes,
A stupid harper was exhibiting
One of his pupils to a band of friends;
Stratonicus, who by chance was present, said,
"He cannot make himself a harp-player,
And yet he tries to teach the art to others."