Fiara: Slaves, Eros, and Aliens in a Dark Future/Erotic Science Fiction
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This was to the effect that only the philosopher was fit to write history. Then a little later came one syllogism, then another. In short his introduction was sheer dialectic in every figure of the syllogism. His flattery was nauseating: his eulogies were vulgar and downright low; even they were syllogistic and dialectical in form. Such a comment he should have left for us, if anybody, to think of and not made it himself.
Do you see? He was like Crepereius, only Crepereius was a wonderful copy of Thucydides, this man of Herodotus. Another, renowned for his powerful eloquence, was also like Thucydides or a little better.
He described all cities, mountains, plains, and rivers in the most detailed and striking way, as he thought. May the Averter of Evil turn his detail and vigour against the enemy, so much frigidity was there in it, worse than Caspian snow and Celtic ice! The trousers of Vologesus and the bit of his horse— Heavens!
I do not think anyone in his senses w'ould accept that. There is another not unimportant matter: because he is an out-and-out Atticist and has purified his speech down to the last syllable, he thought fit to change the Latin names and use Greek forms— Kronios for Saturninus, Phrontis for Fronto, Titanios for Titianus, and others much more ridiculous.
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Ka ltol ravra irdvra f op7jra en, ocra fj ippirj- vel a? You can see plenty of writers like that, who put the head of the Colossus of Rhodes on the body of a dwarf. How ridiculous, Philo, if I were now to argue a proof with you that I am not a Parthian or from Mesopotamia, where this wonderful historian has taken and transplanted me! As if there were no dagger, no javelin to be found to bring him a manly and heroic death!
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Then since Thucydides made a funeral speech over the first to die in that famous war 2 he thought he too ought to make a speech over Severianus. For all of them vie with Thucydides, who was in no way responsible for our troubles in Armenia. Thuc, II, His last flourish was after Aj ax: he drew his sword and with true nobility, as was proper for an Afranius, slew himself on the tomb in the sight of all—by the God of Havoc he deserved to die long before for making such a speech.
All the onlookers, he said, when they saw this were amazed and praised Afranius to the skies. For my part I voted against him on every count for just stopping short of recalling the soups and shell-fish and weeping over the memory of the pancakes, but I blamed him most for dying without first cutting the throat of the historian who staged the show. Long stories and digressions followed as to how he had gone hunting in Mauretania and how he had seen many elephants grazing together at one spot and how he was almost eaten by a lion and how big the fish were he bought in Caesarea.
If night had not come down he might have dined with him when the wrasses were cooked. If this had not been painstakingly included in the history we should have missed some important details and it would have been an intolerable loss to the Romans if Mausacas, the Moor, had not found a drink when he was thirsty but returned to the camp supperless. Yet how much else far more essential am I willingly leaving out at this point! I write then what I have seen, not what I have heard. He himself had been an eyewitness of this, he said, making his observations, however, in safety from a tall tree.
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He was quite right in not meeting the beasts at close quarters: we should not now have such an excellent historian, who off-hand did great and glorious deeds in this war; for he faced many a battle and was wounded near Sura, obviously in a walk from Cornel Hill to Lerna. Why he even founded a city in Mesopotamia, outstanding in size, and of unsurpassed beauty.
It is still undecided and we have no name for that beautiful city full of copious nonsense and historical drivel. This is the sort of nonsense they talk in floods through their lack of schooling. They neither see what is worth looking at nor, if they did see it, have they the ability to give it suitable expression. For whoever avoids these faults and their like has already mastered a great part of what makes correct historical writing, or, rather, needs but little more, if logic is right when it says that to abolish one of tw o direct opposites is to establish the other instead. Well now r , someone will say, you have carefully cleared your ground and cut out all the thorns and 1 Mangalore Cranganore?
These then need no guiding rules and I have no freed to advise on them; my book does not promise to make people understanding and quick who are not so by nature. Not for the creation but for the appropriate employment of qualities. So let me too not suffer this reproach when I make my promise and say that I have discovered a technique in a matter so important and so difficult, for I do not promise to take on anyone you like and make him an historian; no, merely to demonstrate to a man who is intelligent by nature and well trained in expressing himself certain direct routes if indeed that is what they appear to be which if he will use them will help him more quickly and more easily to the attainment of his goal.
You would not say that the intelligent man has no need of technique and instruction where he is ignorant—otherwise he would play the lyre, blow the pipe, and understand everything without learning. As it is, he could not do any of this without first learning, and with someone to guide him he will learn most easily and perform them well for himself. Above all and before everything else, let his mind be free, let him fear no one and expect nothing, or else he will be like a bad judge who sells his verdict to curry favour or gratify hatred.
Nor must he mind if Alexander is going to be angry when he gives a clear account of the cruel murder of Clitus at the banquet. Neither will Cleon with his great power in the assembly and his mastery of the platform frighten him from saying that he w r as murderous and lunatic: nor even the entire city of the Athenians if he records the disaster of Sicily, the capture of Demosthenes, and the death of Nicias, the thirst of the troops, the sort of w r ater they drank, and how most of them w ere slain as they drank it.
For he will think quite rightly that no man of sense will blame him if he gives an account of unlucky or stupid actions—he has not been responsible for them, he has merely told the tale. This, as I have said, is the one thing peculiar to history, and only to Truth must sacrifice be made. When a man is going to wTite history, everything else he must ignore. In short, the one standard, the one yardstick is to keep in view not your present audience but those w ho will meet your w ork hereafter.
Whoever serves the present will rightly be counted a flatterer—a person on whom history long ago right from the beginning has turned its back, as much as has physical culture on the art of make-up. There is a play on the names in the Greek. He spent seventeen years at court and wrote a history of Persia. He brings in, too, the question of usefulness and what is, surely, the purpose of sound history: that if ever again men find themselves in a like situation they may be 1 Aristophanes, on the dubious authority of Tzetzes see Kock, Comic , Grace.
Fragm , III, p. That then is the sort of mind the historian should have, please, when he comes along.
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No, his tone should be more pacific, his thought coherent and well- knit, his language exact and statesmanlike, of a kind to set forth the subject with the utmost clarity and accuracy. Then, let figures adorn the work that give no offence and in particular appear unlaboured ; otherwise he makes language seem like highly-seasoned sauces.
Let his mind have a touch and share of poetry, since that too is lofty and sublime, especially when he has to do with battle arrays, with land and sea fights; for then he will have need of a wind of poetry to fill his sails and help carry his ship along, high on the crest of the waves. It is better, then, that when his mind is on horseback his exposition should go on foot, running alongside and holding the saddle-cloth, so as not to be left behind.
As to the facts themselves, he should not assemble them at random, but only after much laborious and painstaking investigation. He should for preference be an eyewitness, but, if not, listen to those who tell the more impartial story, those whom one would suppose least likely to subtract from the facts or add to them out of favour or malice. When this happens let him show shrewdness and skill in putting together the more credible story. When he has collected all or most of the facts let him first make them into a series of notes, a body of material as yet with no beauty or continuity.
Then, after arranging them into order, let him give it beauty and enhance it with the charms of expression, figure, and rhythm. When the battle is joined he should look at both sides and weigh the events as it were in a balance, joining in both pursuit and flight. IV, So they must look not for what to say but how to say it. The task of the historian is similar: to give a fine arrangement to events and illuminate them as vividly as possible.
And when a man who has heard him thinks thereafter that he is actually seeing what is being described and then praises him—then it is that the work of our Phidias of history is perfect and has received its proper praise. But even then he will use a virtual preface to clarify what he is going to say.
Much more than documents.
Whenever he does use a preface, he will make two points only, not three like the orators. For they will give him their attention if he show s that what he is going to say will be important, essential, personal, or useful. After the preface, long or short in proportion to its subject matter, let the transition to the narrative be gentle and easy. For all the body of the history is simply a long narrative. So let it be adorned with the virtues proper to narrative, progressing smoothly, evenly and consistently, free from humps and hollows.
Then let its clarity be limpid, achieved, as I have said, both by diction and the interweaving of the matter. When you feast your friends and all is ready you do not for that reason in the middle of all your pastries, fowl, oysters, wild boars, hare, and choice fish cutlets, serve up salt fish and pease- porridge because, that, too, is at hand—you 'will ignore the humbler fare.
How many to set Ixion whirling! Take Thucydides himself: he makes little use of this sort of writing, and see how quickly he gets away when he has been describing an engine or explaining a necessary and useful plan of investment, or the plan of Epipolae, or the harbour of Syracuse. When he appears long-winded in his account of the plague just think of the facts and you will realise his rapidity and how the pressure of events holds him as he tries to get away. Karrjyopelv paXXov rj loTopeiv ra rrerrpaypiva. It is then, however, that you can play the orator and show your eloquence.
Eulogy and censure will be careful and considered, free from slander, supported by evidence, cursory, and not inopportune, for those involved are not in court, and you will receive the same censure as Theopompus, who impeached nearly everybody in a quarrelsome spirit and made a business of it, to the extent that he was a prosecutor rather than a recorder of events. Again, if a myth comes along you must tell it but not believe it entirely; no, make it known for your audience to make of it what they will—you run no risk and lean to neither side.