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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. . . .

1 He may have been referring to pre-Homeric times, cp. Herod. 6, 137,οὐ γὰρ εἷναι τοῦτον τὸν χρόνον σφίσι κω οὐδὲ τοῖσι ἄλλοισι Ἕλλησι οἰκέτας.

2 lines 32 and 33: "had a fair pretext for not taking part in the common expedition" should read "very naturally took no part in the general despatch of men home to their wives."

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hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (2):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), MATRIMO´NIUM
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), SI´CULI
  • Cross-references in notes to this page (1):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), HERES
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 6.137
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