The Epizephyrian Locrians
And as to a treaty, none ever existed, or was said
The trick of the Locrians.
to have existed, between them and the Locrians in Greece; but they all knew by
tradition of one with the Sicels: of which they give the following
account. When they first appeared, and found the Sicels
occupying the district in which they are themselves now
dwelling, these natives were in terror of them, and admitted
them through fear into the country; and the newcomers made
a sworn agreement with them that "they would be friendly
and share the country with them, as long as they stood upon
the ground they then stood upon, and kept heads upon their
shoulders." But, while the oaths were being taken, they say
that the Locrians put earth inside the soles of their shoes,
and heads of garlic concealed on their shoulders, before they
swore; and that then they shook the earth out of their shoes,
and threw the heads of garlic off their shoulders, and soon
afterwards expelled the Sicels from the country. This is the
story current at Locri. . . .
By an extraordinary oversight Timaeus of Tauromenium
commits himself to the statement that it was not customary
with the Greeks to possess slaves.1
. . .
These considerations would lead us to trust Aristotle rather
Locri Epizephyrii colonised
by certain slaves who had obtained their freedom, and by some free born women.
than Timaeus. His next statement is still more
strange. For to suppose, with Timaeus, that it
was unlikely that men, who had been the slaves
of the allies of the Lacedaemonians, would continue the kindly feelings and adopt the friendships
of their late masters is foolish. For when they
have had the good fortune to recover their freedom, and a
certain time has elapsed, men, who have been slaves, not only
endeavour to adopt the friendships of their late masters, but
also their ties of hospitality and blood: in fact, their aim is to
keep them up even more than the ties of nature, for the express
purpose of thereby wiping out the remembrance of their former
degradation and humble position; because they wish to pose as
the descendants of their masters rather than as their freedmen.
And this is what in all probability happened in the case of the
Locrians. They had removed to a great distance from all who
knew their secret; the lapse of time favoured their pretensions;
and they were not therefore so foolish as to maintain any
customs likely to revive the memory of their own degradation,
rather than such as would contribute to conceal it. Therefore they very naturally called their city by the name of that
from which the women came; and claimed a relationship with
those women: and, moreover, renewed the friendships which
were ancestral to the families of the women.
And this also indicates that there is no sign of Aristotle
The Locrians then were naturally friends of Sparta and enemies of Athens.
being wrong in saying that the Athenians
ravaged their territory. For it being quite
natural, as I have shown, that the men who
started from Locri and landed in Italy, if they
were slaves ten times over, should adopt friendly
relations with Sparta, it becomes also natural that the
Athenians should be rendered hostile to them, not so much
from regard to their origin as to their policy.
It is not, again, likely that the Lacedaemonians should themselves send their young men
home from the
The reason of the women of Locris (in Greece) leaving their homes with the slaves.
camp for the sake of begetting children, and
should refuse to allow the Locrians to do the
same. Two things in such a statement are not
only improbable but untrue. In the first place,
they were not likely to have prevented the
Locrians doing so, when they did the same themselves, for
that would be wholly inconsistent: nor were the Locrians, in
obedience to orders from them, likely to have adopted a
custom like theirs. (For in Sparta it is a traditional law, and a
matter of common custom, for three or four men to have one
wife, and even more if they are brothers; and when a man
has begotten enough children, it is quite proper and usual for
him to sell his wife to one of his friends.) The fact is, that
though the Locrians, not being bound by the same oath as
the Lacedaemonians, that they would not return home till they
had taken Messene, had a fair pretext for not taking part in
the common expedition;2
yet, by returning home only one by
one, and at rare intervals, they gave their wives an opportunity
of becoming familiar with the slaves instead of their original
husbands, and still more so the unmarried women. And this
was the reason of the migration. . . .