previous next
As to the other delights of the mind, we have already treated of them, as they occurred to us. But their aversedness and dislike to music, that affords us so great delights and such charming satisfactions, a man could not forget if he would, by reason of the inconsistency of what Epicurus saith, when he pronounceth in his book called his Doubts that his wise man ought to be a lover of public spectacles and to delight above any other man in the music and shows of the Bacchanals; and yet he will not admit of music problems or of the critical enquiries of [p. 177] philologists, no, not so much as at a compotation. Yea, he advises such princes as are lovers of the Muses rather to entertain themselves at their feasts either with some narration of military adventures or with the importune scurrilities of drolls and buffoons, than to engage in disputes about music or in questions of poetry. For this very thing he had the face to write in his treatise of Monarchy, as if he were writing to Sardanapalus, or to Nanarus satrap of Babylon. For neither would a Hiero nor an Attalus nor an Archelaus be persuaded to make a Euripides, a Simonides, a Melanippides, a Crates, or a Diodotus rise up from their tables, and to place such scaramuchios in their rooms as a Cardax, an Agrias, or a Callias, or fellows like Thrasonides and Thrasyleon, to make people disorder the house with hollowing and clapping. Had the great Ptolemy, who was the first that formed a consort of musicians, but met with these excellent and royal admonitions, would he not, think you, have thus addressed himself to the Samians:
O Muse, whence art thou thus maligned?

For certainly it can never belong to any Athenian to be in such enmity and hostility with the Muses. But

No animal accurst by Jove
Music's sweet charms can ever love.
1

What sayest thou now, Epicurus? Wilt thou get thee up betimes in the morning, and go to the theatre to hear the harpers and flutists play? But if a Theophrastus discourse at the table of Concords, or an Aristoxenus of Varieties, or if an Aristophanes play the critic upon Homer, wilt thou presently, for very dislike and abhorrence, clap both thy hands upon thy ears? And do they not hereby make the Scythian king Ateas more musical than this comes to, who, when he heard that admirable flutist Ismenias, detained then by him as a prisoner of war, playing [p. 178] upon the flute at a compotation, swore he had rather hear his own horse neigh? And do they not also profess themselves to stand at an implacable and irreconcilable defiance with whatever is generous and becoming ? And indeed what do they ever embrace or affect that is either genteel or regardable, when it hath nothing of pleasure to accompany it? And would it not far less affect a pleasurable way of living, to be disgusted with perfumes and odors, like beetles and vultures, than to shun and abhor the conversation of learned critics and musicians? For what flute or harp ready tuned for a lesson, or

What sweetest consort e'er with artful noise,
Warbled by softest tongue and best tuned voice,

ever gave Epicurus and Metrodorus such content as the disputes and precepts about consorts gave Aristotle, Theophrastus, Hieronymus, and Dicaearchus? And also the problems about flutes, rhythms, and harmonies; as, for instance, why the slenderer of two flutes of the same longitude should speak flatter?—why, if you raise the pipe, will all its notes be sharp; and flat again, if you lower it?—and why, when clapped to another, will it sound flatter; and sharper again, when taken from it?— why also, if you scatter chaff or dust about the orchestra of a theatre, will the sound be softened?—and why, when one would have set up a bronze Alexander for a frontispiece to a stage at Pella, did the architect advise to the contrary, because it would spoil the actors' voices ?— and why, of the several kinds of music, will the chromatic diffuse and the harmonic compose the mind ? But now the several humors of poets, their differing turns and forms of style, and the solutions of their difficult places, have conjoined with a sort of dignity and politeness somewhat also that is extremely agreeable and charming; insomuch that to me they seem to do what was once said by Xenophon, to make a man even forget the joys of [p. 179] love, so powerful and overcoming is the pleasure they bring us.

1 Pindar, Pyth. I. 25.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Gregorius N. Bernardakis, 1895)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: