Front Page Titles (by Subject) PARALLELS, OR A COMPARISON BETWEEN THE GREEK AND ROMAN HISTORIES. * - The Morals, vol. 5
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PARALLELS, OR A COMPARISON BETWEEN THE GREEK AND ROMAN HISTORIES. * - Plutarch, The Morals, vol. 5 
Plutarch’s Morals. Translated from the Greek by Several Hands. Corrected and Revised by William W. Goodwin, with an Introduction by Ralph Waldo Emerson. 5 Volumes. (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1878). Vol. 5.
Part of: Plutarch’s Morals, 5 vols.
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PARALLELS, OR A COMPARISON BETWEEN THE GREEK AND ROMAN HISTORIES.*
Most people are apt to take the histories of former times for mere forgeries and fables, because of many passages in those relations that seem to be very extravagant. But yet, according to my observation, we have had as strange occurrences of a later date in the Roman times as any we have received from antiquity; for proof whereof, I have here matched several stories of the ancients with modern instances, and cited my authorities.
1. Datis, an eminent Persian commander, drew out three hundred thousand men to Marathon, a plain of Attica, where he encamped and declared war against the inhabitants. The Athenians made no reckoning at all of so barbarous a rabble, but sent out nine thousand men against him, under the command of Cynaegirus, Polyzelus, Callimachus, and Miltiades. Upon the joining of battle, Polyzelus was struck blind at the sight of a wonderful apparition; Callimachus’s body was struck through with a great many lances, continuing in an upright posture even when he was dead; Cynaegirus had both his hands cut off upon laying hold of a Persian ship that was endeavoring to get away.
King Asdrubal, having possessed himself of Sicily, proclaimed war against the Romans. Metellus, who was appointed by the Senate to command in chief, overcame him. L. Glauco, a patrician, laid hold of the vessel that Asdrubal was in, and lost both his hands upon it. — Aristides Milesius gives this account in his First Book of the Affairs of Sicily, and Dionysius Siculus had it from him.
2. Xerxes came with an army of five millions of men to Artemisium, and declared war against the country. The Athenians, in a very great surprise, sent Agesilaus, the brother of Themistocles, to discover the motions of the enemy, notwithstanding a dream of his father Neocles, that his son had lost both his hands. This Agesilaus put himself into a Persian habit, and entered the barbarians’ camp; where, taking Mardonius (an officer of the king’s guards) for Xerxes himself, he killed him. Whereupon he was immediately seized, bound, and carried to Xerxes, who was just then about to sacrifice an ox to the Sun. The fire was kindled upon the altar, and Agesilaus put his right hand into it, without so much as shrinking at the pain. He was ordered upon this to be untied; and told the king that the Athenians were all of the same resolution, and that, if he pleased, he should see him burn his left hand too. This gave Xerxes an apprehension of him, so that he caused him to be still kept in custody. — This I find in Agatharchides the Samian, in the Second Book of his Persian History.
Porsena, a king of Tuscany, encamped himself beyond the Tiber, and made war upon the Romans, cutting off the supplies, till they were brought to great want of provisions. The Senate were at their wits’ end what to do, till Mucius, a nobleman, got leave of the consuls to take four hundred of his own quality to advise with upon the matter. Mucius, upon this, put himself into the habit of a private man, and crossed the river; where finding one of the king’s officers giving orders for the distribution of necessaries to the soldiers, and taking him for the king himself, he slew him. He was taken immediately and carried to the king, where he put his right hand into a fire that was in the room, and with a smile in the middle of his torments, — Barbarian, says he, I can set myself at liberty without asking you leave; and be it known to you, that I have left four hundred men in the camp as daring as myself, that have sworn your death. This struck Porsena with such a terror, that he made peace with the Romans upon it. — Aristides Milesius is my author for this, in the Third Book of his History.
3. There happened a dispute betwixt the Argives and Lacedaemonians about a claim to the possession of Thyreatis. The Amphictyons gave their opinion for a trial of it by battle, so many and so many of a side, and the possession to go to the victor. The Lacedaemonians made choice of Othryades for their captain, and the Argives of Thersander. The battle was fought, and the only two survivors that appeared were Agenor and Chromius, both Argives, who carried their city the news of the victory. In this interim, Othryades, who was not as yet quite dead, made a shift to raise himself by the help of broken lances, gathered the shields of the dead together, and erected a trophy with this inscription upon it in his own blood. “To Jupiter the Guardian of Trophies.” The controversy still depended, till the Amphictyons, upon an ocular examination of the matter, gave it for the Lacedaemonians. — This is according to Chrysermus, in his Third Book of the Peloponnesian History.
In a war that the Romans had with the Samnites, they made Posthumius Albinus their general. He was surprised in the difficult pass called the Caudine Forks, where he was hemmed in and lost three legions, he himself likewise falling upon the place grievously wounded. In the dead of the night, finding himself near his end, he gathered together the targets of his dead enemies, and raised a trophy with them, which he inscribed with his hand dipped in blood, “Erected by the Romans to Jupiter, Guardian of the Trophies, for a victory over the Samnites.” But Fabius Gurges, that was despatched away with troops under his command, so soon as he came to the place and saw the trophy, took up an auspicious omen upon it, fought the enemy, and overcame them, took their king prisoner, and sent him to Rome. — This is in the Third Book of Aristides Milesius’s Italian History.
4. Upon the Persians falling into Greece with a body of five millions of men, the Spartans sent out Leonidas with a party of three hundred soldiers to secure the Pass of Thermopylae. As they were at dinner, the barbarians fell in upon them; upon which, Leonidas bade them eat as if they were to sup in another world. Leonidas charged at the head of his men into the body of the barbarians; and after many wounds received, got up to Xerxes himself, and took his crown from his head. He lost his life in the attempt, and Xerxes causing him to be cut up when he was dead, found his heart all hairy. — Aristides, in the First Book of his Persian History.
In the Punic war the Romans sent out three hundred men under the command of Fabius Maximus, where they were all lost; and he himself, after he had received a mortal wound, assaulting Hannibal, took his diadem from his head, and died in the action. According to Aristides Milesius.
5. There was a terrible earthquake, with a wonderful eruption of water, at Celaenae, a city of Phrygia, that swallowed up a great many houses, people and all. Midas upon this consults the oracle, which gave him for answer, that if he would cast into that gulf the most precious thing that he had in the world, the earth should close again. Whereupon he threw in a mass of gold and silver; but never the better. This put it in the head of Anchurus, the son of Midas, to consider, that the most precious thing in Nature is the life and soul of a man; so that he went presently and embraced his father and his wife Timothea, mounted his horse, and leaped into the abyss. The earth closed upon it, and Midas raised a golden altar in the place, laid his hand upon it, and dedicated it TO JUPITER IDAEUS. This altar becomes stone at that time of the year when it was usual to have these eruptions; and after that season was over, it is turned to gold again. — My author is Callisthenes, in his Second Book of Transformations.
The River Tiber, in its course over the Forum, opened a huge cavity in the ground, so that a great many houses were buried in it. This was looked upon as a judgment upon the place, from Jupiter Tarsius; who, as the oracle told them, was not to be appeased without throwing into it what they held most valuable. So they threw a quantity of gold and silver into it. But Curtius, one of the bravest young men they had, gave a better guess at the mind of the oracle; and reflecting upon it, that the life of a man was much more excellent than treasure, took his horse and plunged himself into the gulf, and so redeemed his country. — Aristides, in the Fortieth Book of his Italian History.
6. As several great captains were making merry with Polynices, an eagle passing by made a stoop, and carried up into the air the lance of Amphiaraus, who was one of the company; and then falling down, it stuck in the ground, and was turned into a laurel. The next day, when the armies were in action, the earth opened and swallowed up Amphiaraus with his chariot, in that very place where at present the city Harma stands, so called from that chariot. — This is in Trisimachus’s Third Book of the Foundations of Cities.
When the Romans made war upon Pyrrhus, the king of the Epirots, the oracle promised Aemilius Paulus the victory in case he should erect an altar in that place where he should see an eminent man with his chariot swallowed up into the ground. Some three days after, Valerius Conatus, a man skilled in divining, was commanded in a dream to take the pontifical habit upon him. He did so, and led his men into the battle, where, after a prodigious slaughter of the enemy, the earth opened and swallowed him up. Aemilius built an altar here, obtained a great victory, and sent a hundred and sixty castle-bearing elephants to Rome. This altar delivers oracles about that season of the year in which Pyrrhus was overcome. — Critolaus has this in his Third Book of the History of the Epirots.
7. Pyraechmes, king of the Euboeans, made war upon the Boeotians. Hercules, when he was yet a youth, overcame this king, had him drawn to pieces with horses, and threw away the carcass unburied. The place where this was done is called Pyraechmes’s horses. It lies upon the River Heraclius, and there is heard a neighing whensoever any horse drinks of that river. — This is in the Third Book of Rivers.
Tullus Hostilius, a king of the Romans, waged war against the Albans, whose king’s name was Metius Fufetius; and he many times kept off from fighting. He had the ill luck to be once worsted, upon which the Albans gave themselves up to drinking and making good cheer, till Tullus fell in upon them when they were in their cups, and tore their king to pieces betwixt two horses. — Alexarchus, in the Fourth Book of his Italian History.
8. Philip had a design to sack Olynthus and Methone, and in trying to pass the River Sandanus, was shot in the eye with an arrow by one Aster, an Olynthian, with these words: It is Aster that sends Philip this mortal shaft. Philip upon this swam back again to his own people, and with the loss of an eye saved his life. — Callisthenes, in his Third Book of the Macedonics.
Porsena made war upon the Romans, and pitched his camp on the further side of the Tiber, where he intercepted all relief, till they were pinched with famine. Horatius Cocles, being chosen general, took possession of the wooden bridge, where he opposed himself to the enemy that were pressing to come over; but finding himself overpowered with numbers, he commanded his people to cut down the bridge behind him, by which means he hindered them from coming over. But in the mean time receiving a wound in his eye, he threw himself into the river, and swam over to his own party. — So Theotimus in the Second Book of his Italian History.
9. Eratosthenes in Erigone tells a story of Icarius, that entertained Bacchus under his roof; and it runs thus. Saturn, having taken up his lodging with an husbandman who had a very beautiful daughter named Entoria, took her to his bed, and had several sons by her, Janus, Hymnus, Faustus, and Felix. He taught his host Icarius the use of wine and the way of dressing his vines, with a charge that he should likewise instruct his neighbors in the mystery. His acquaintance, hereupon finding that this strange drink had cast them into a deeper sleep than ordinary, took a fancy that they were poisoned, and stoned Icarius in revenge; whereupon his grandchildren hanged themselves for grief.
Upon a time, when the plague was very hot in Rome, the Pythian oracle being consulted gave this answer, that upon the appeasing the wrath of Saturn, and the Manes of those that were unjustly killed, the pestilence would cease. Lutatius Catulus, a man of the first quality, caused a temple upon this occasion to be erected near the Tarpeian Mount, which he dedicated to Saturn, placing an altar in it with four faces; possibly with a respect to Saturn’s four children, or to the four seasons of the year. He also instituted the month of January. But Saturn translated them all to heaven among the stars, some of which are called Protrygeteres, as forerunners of the vintage; only Janus rises first, and has his place at the feet of the Virgin. — Critolaus, in his Fourth Book of Celestial Appearances.
10. In the time of the devastation of Greece by the Persians, Pausanias, the Lacedaemonian commander, took a bribe of 500 talents of Xerxes, to betray Sparta. The treason being discovered, his father Agesilaus pressed him so hard, that he was fain to take sanctuary in the temple of Minerva, called Chalcioecos, where he caused the doors to be bricked up, and his son to be immured till he died of hunger; and his mother after this would not suffer the body to be buried. — Chrysermus, in his Second Book of Histories.
The Romans, being in war with the Latins, made choice of P. Decius for their general. Now there was a certain patrician, a young man and poor (Cassius Brutus by name), who proposed for a certain reward to open the gates to the enemy; but being detected, he fled to the temple of Minerva Auxiliaria. But his father Cassius, an ensign-bearer, shut him up there till he died of famine, and his dead body was not allowed burial. — Clitonymus, in his Italian History.
11. Darius, the Persian, had a battle with Alexander near the River Granicus, where he lost seven satraps, and five hundred and two chariots armed with scythes. And yet he would have tried the fortune of another battle the day following; but his son Ariobarzanes, in favor of Alexander, undertook to betray his father into his hands. The father was so transported with passion at the indignity of the thing, that he cut off his son’s head for it. — Aretades Cnidius, in the Third of his Macedonian History.
Brutus, that was created consul by the unanimous vote of the citizens, forced away Tarquinius Superbus into banishment for his abominable tyranny. He fled to the Tuscans, and by their assistance made war upon the Romans. The sons were treating to betray the father; the business was discovered, and they lost their heads for it. — Aristides Milesius, in his Italian History.
12. Epaminondas, a Theban general, managed a war against the Spartans. He went from the army to Thebes, to be present there at a public election of magistrates; but first enjoined his son Stesimbrotus that he should not fight the enemy in his absence upon any terms. The Spartans being informed that Epaminondas was not with the army, reproached the young man with want of courage, and so far provoked him, that without any regard to his father’s command he gave the Spartans battle, and overcame them. His father was so incensed against him for this action, that though he crowned him for the victory, he cut off his head for his disobedience. — Ctesiphon, in his Third Book of the Boeotian History.
In a war that the Romans had against the Samnites, they gave the command to Manlius, surnamed Imperiosus. He had occasion to go to Rome, to be present there at the choice of consuls, and gave his son in charge not to engage the enemy in the mean time. The Samnites, understanding this, irritated the young man with opprobrious words, as if he declined fighting out of cowardice, and in the end provoked him to a battle; upon which action he carried the day; but his father caused his head to be struck off for breaking his order. — This is in Aristides Milesius.
13. Hercules made love to Iole, but she gave him the repulse, and so he went and assaulted Oechalia. Iole threw herself headlong down from the wall, but the whiffling of the wind under her garments broke the fall, and she had no hurt. — This story is in Nicias Maleotes.
Valerius Torquatus was the Romans’ general in the war they had with the Tuscans; who, upon the sight of Clusia, the daughter of the Tuscan king, fell in love with her, and when he found he could do no good on’t, laid siege to the city. Clusia, upon this, threw herself headlong from a tower; but Venus was so careful of her, that by the playing of the wind in the folds of her garments, she was wafted safe to the ground. Torquatus, however, offered her violence, and for so doing he was banished by a public decree into the isle of Corsica. — Theophilus, in the Third Book of his Italian History.
14. While the Carthaginians were treating an alliance with the Sicilians against the Romans, the Roman general Metellus was observed to omit sacrificing only to Vesta, who revenged herself upon him by sending a cross wind to the navy. But Caius Julius, a soothsayer, being consulted in the matter, gave answer, that this obstacle would be removed upon the general’s sacrificing his daughter: so that he was forced to produce his daughter Metella for a sacrifice. But Vesta had compassion for her, and so sent her away to Lamusium, substituting a heifer in her stead, and made a priestess of her to the dragon that is worshipped in that place. — So Pythocles, in the Third Book of his Italian History.
Something like this happened to Iphigenia in Aulis, a city of Boeotia. — See Meryllus, in the First Book of his Boeotic History.
15. Brennus, a king of the Gauls, after the wasting of Asia, came to Ephesus, and there fell in love with a country girl, who promised him that for such a certain reward in bracelets and other curiosities of value he should have the use of her body, and that she would further undertake to deliver up Ephesus into his hands. Brennus ordered his soldiers to throw all the gold they had into the lap of this avaricious wretch, which they did, till she perished under the weight of it. — Clitophon in the First Book of his Gallican History.
Tarpeia, a virgin that was well born, and had the keeping of the Capitol in the war betwixt the Sabines and the Romans, passed a promise unto Tatius, that she would open him a passage into the Tarpeian Mount, provided that he would give her all the jewels that the Sabines wore, for a reward. The Sabines hearing this crushed her to death — Aristides’s Milesius, in his Italic History.
16. After a long war betwixt two cities, Tegea and Phenea, they came to an agreement to refer the decision of the controversy, by combat, to three twin-brothers on each side, the sons of Reximachus for Tegea, and the sons of Damostratus for Phenea. Upon the encounter, two of the sons of Reximachus were slain; but Critolaus, the third, had a fetch beyond his two brothers; for, under a pretence of running away, he divided his enemies that pursued him, and so taking them one by one, he killed them all. The Tegeans upon his return went all overjoyed to gratulate the victor. Only his sister Demodice was not so well pleased; for she was betrothed, it seems, to Demodicus, one of the brothers, that was now slain. Which Critolaus took so ill that he killed his sister, and being afterwards indicted for murder at the instigation of his mother, he was acquitted. — Demaratus, in his Second Book of the Arcadian History.
In the heat of the war betwixt the Romans and Albans, they came to this agreement, that the cause should be determined by a trial at arms betwixt three and three twins on each side, the Curiatii for the Albans, and the Horatii for the Romans. Upon the encounter, the Curiatii killed two of the others; the third survivor, under the color of flying, destroyed his enemies one by one, as they followed him. All his friends came to joy him of his victory, save only his sister Horatia; for one of the Curiatii, that her brother killed, was her sweetheart. Horatius for this killed his sister. — Aristides Milesius, in his Italian Commentaries.
17. The temple of Minerva in Ilium happened to be on fire. Ilus ran presently to save the Palladium (an image dropped from heaven); but upon the taking of it up, he was struck blind, it being a thing unlawful for any man to look upon. But upon appeasing the Deity, he was afterwards restored to his sight. — Dercyllus, in his First Book of Foundations.
Metellus, an eminent man, as he was walking out of the city, was interrupted by ravens, that laid hold of him and kept a flapping of him with their wings. This omen surprised him, and back he went into the city again, where he found the temple of Vesta all in a flame. He went and took away the Palladium, and fell blind upon’t. But some time after, the Goddess being pacified gave him the use of his eyes again. — Aristides Milesius, in his Italian History.
18. Upon a time when the Thracians were engaged in a war against the Athenians, the oracle promised them victory if they would but save the life of Codrus. Codrus upon this puts himself in a coarse disguise, and away he goes into the enemies’ camp with a scythe in his hand, where he killed one, and another killed him, so that the Athenians got the better on’t. — Socrates, in his Second Book of his Thracian History.
Publius Decius, a Roman, at a time when they were in war with the Albans, had a dream that his death would bring a great advantage to the Romans; upon which consideration he charged into the middle of his enemies, where he killed many, and was slain himself: his son Decius did the like in the Gallic war, for the conservation of the Roman State. — Aristides Milesius is my author.
19. There was one Cyanippus a Syracusan, that sacrificed to all the Gods but Bacchus; who took the contempt so heinously that he made him drunk, in which fit he got his daughter Cyane into a corner and lay with her. She in the mean time slipped his ring off his finger, and gave it to her nurse to keep, as a circumstance that some time or other might come to be brought in evidence. There brake out a pestilence, and the Pythian oracle advised the sacrificing of an incestuous person to the Gods that are the averters of such calamities, as the only remedy. Cyane, that understood the meaning of the oracle better than other people, took her father by the hair of the head and dragged him forth, first stabbing him and then herself. — Dositheus, in the Third Book of his Sicilian History.
In the time of celebrating the Bacchanalia at Rome, Aruntius, that had never drunk any wine since he was born, did not show such reverence for the power of the God as he ought to have done, so that Bacchus intoxicated him; and in that freak, Aruntius ravished his daughter Medullina. She came to know the ravisher by his ring, and an exploit came into her head, above what from her age could have been expected. She made her father drunk and set a garland upon his head, carrying him to the altar of Thunder, where with tears she killed him for robbing her so treacherously of her virginity. — Aristides, in the Third Book of his Italian History.
20. Erechtheus was told in a war he had with Eumolpus, that he should have the better of his enemy if he would but sacrifice his daughter. He advised upon the matter with his wife Praxithea, and delivered up his daughter after the manner of a common sacrifice. — Euripides, in his Erechtheus.
Marius, finding himself hard put to it in the Cimbrian war, had it revealed to him in a dream, that he should overcome his enemies if he would but sacrifice his daughter Calpurnia. He did it, preferring the common safety before any private bond of Nature, and he got the victory. There are two altars in Germany, where about that time of the year may be heard the sound of trumpets. — Dorotheus, in the Fourth Book of his Italian History.
21. There was one Cyanippus, a Thessalian, who was a great lover of the chase and was often abroad a hunting. This same Cyanippus was newly married, and his staying out so long and so often in the woods gave his wife a jealousy of an intrigue there with some other woman; insomuch that she followed him one time, and got into a thicket to watch him. The rustling of the boughs in the place where she lay brought the dogs thither in expectation of some game, where they tore this tender-hearted woman to pieces, as if she had been a brute beast. Cyanippus was so surprised with so dismal and unthought-of a spectacle, that he killed himself. — Parthenias the Poet.
Sybaris is a city of Italy, where there was one Aemilius, a very handsome young man, and a lover of hunting. His wife (whom he had lately married) took up a suspicion that, under color of the chase, he carried on an assignation with some other woman. She traced him to the wood, and upon the noise of the boughs in her passage, the dogs ran presently to her and tore her to pieces; and her husband stabbed himself immediately upon this miserable accident. — Clitonymus, in the Second Book of his Sybaritics.
22. One Smyrna (to whom Venus owed a shame, it seems) fell passionately in love with her father Cinyras, and made the nurse her confidant. She goes craftily to work with her master, and tells him of a maid there in the neighborhood that loved him above all things in the world, but she could not in modesty appear publicly to him. So the father lay ignorantly with his own daughter. But some time after, having a great mind to see his mistress, he called for a light, and when he saw who it was, he pursued the incestuous wretch with his drawn sword; but by the providence of Venus, she was rescued from that danger, and turned into a myrrh-tree. — Theodorus, in his Transformations.
One Valeria Tusculanaria (for whom Venus had no kindness) fell downright in love with her father Valerius. She told the nurse the secret, who ordered it so that she brought the father and the daughter together, telling him, that a maid there hard by was fallen desperately in love with him, but that she durst not lie with him for fear of being known. The father was got into his cups, and as he was in bed with his daughter, called for a candle. The nurse waked Valeria, and away she goes wandering up and down the country with her great belly. She had at last a fall from a precipice, but escaped without so much as any miscarriage; for she was delivered at her time, and the child’s name was Sylvanus (or goat-footed Pan). Valerius, in the anxiety of his mind, threw himself from the same precipice. — Aristides Milesius, in the Third Book of his Italian History.
23. Diomedes, after the destruction of Troy, was cast by stress of weather upon the coast of Libya, where Lycus the son of Mars was king, whose custom it was to sacrifice all strangers to his father; but his daughter Callirrhoe falling in love with Diomede, betrayed her father and set Diomede at liberty; who presently went his way without any regard to his benefactress, and Callirrhoe hanged herself upon it. — Juba, Book the Third of his Libyan History.
Calpurnius Crassus, a famous man bearing arms with Regulus, was sent to the Massyllians to attack the castle of Garaetius, being a very strong place. He was taken in the enterprise, and designed for a sacrifice to Saturn; but Bisaltia, the king’s daughter, out of a passionate kindness to Calpurnius, betrayed her father. Calpurnius left her, and after his departure Bisaltia cut her own throat. — Hesianax’s Third Book of African History.
24. When Priam found that Troy was given for lost, he sent his young son Polydore into Thrace with a vast sum of gold, and put all into the hands of Polymestor his kinsman. So soon as Troy was taken, Polymestor killed the child, and took the gold to himself. Hecuba, being driven upon that quarter, overreached Polymestor by craft, under pretence of giving him a great treasure, at which time she, with the assistance of her fellow-prisoners, tore out his eyes with her nails. — Euripides the Tragedian.
When Hannibal was ravaging the country of Campania, Lucius Thymbris deposited his son Rustius, with a vast sum of money, in the hands of Valerius Gestius his kinsman; who upon intelligence that the enemy carried all before him, out of pure avarice and without any regard to humanity or justice, killed the child. It so fell out that Thymbris, as he was walking about the fields, found the dead body of his son; whereupon he called his kinsman under pretence of a treasure that he would show him. He took his opportunity, put out his eyes, and crucified him. — Aristides’s Third Book of his Italic History.
25. Aeacus had two sons by Psamathe, Phocus and Telamon, the former better beloved than the other. Telamon one day took out his brother a hunting; and a boar presenting himself, he threw his lance in pretence at the boar, but in truth at his brother, whom he hated, and so killed him; for which his father banished him. — Dorotheus’s First Book of Transformations.
Caius Maximus had two sons, Rhesus the one, by Ameria, . . . and the other Similius. The brothers were a hunting together, and Rhesus having killed the other, put it off — when he came home — that it was by chance, and far from any design of doing it. But his father, when he came in time to know the truth of it, banished the son. — Aristocles, in the Third Book of his Italian History.
26. Mars is said to have begotten Meleager upon Althaea. — Euripides, in his Meleager.
Septimius Marcellus took to wife one Sylvia, and a great lover of hunting he was. Mars put himself in the habit of a shepherd, whored the new wife and got her with child; which being done, he told her who he was, and gave her a spear, telling her that the fate of the child she went withal was wrapped up in the fate of that spear. . . .
Septimius slew Tuscinus; but Mamercus, in his sacriticing to the Gods for a fruitful season, omitted only Ceres, who in revenge sent a wild boar into his grounds. Whereupon getting a knot of huntsmen together, he killed him, and delivered the head and skin to his sweetheart; but Scymbrates and Muthias, the maid’s uncles, took them away from her. Mamercus in a rage killed them upon it, and the mother burned the spear. — Menyllus, in the Third Book of his Italian History.
27. When Telamon, the son of Aeacus and Endeis, came to Euboea, he debauched Periboea the daughter of Alcathous, and fled away by night. The father understanding this, and suspecting the villany to be done by some of the citizens, he delivered his daughter to one of the guards to be thrown into the sea. But the soldier, in compassion to the woman, rather sold her, and she was carried away by sea to the island of Salamis, where Telamon bought her, and had by her Ajax. — Aretades Cnidius, in his Second Book of Islands.
Lucius Troscius had by Patris a daughter called Florentia, who, being corrupted by Calpurnius a Roman, was delivered by her father to a soldier, with a charge to throw her in the sea and drown her. The man had compassion of her, and rather sold her. And when good fortune brought the ship to Italy, Calpurnius bought her, and had Contruscus by her. . . .
28. Aeolus, a great king of Etruria, had by Amphithea six daughters, and as many sons. Macareus, the youngest of them, had the carnal knowledge of one of his sisters, who was delivered of a boy. Her father sent her a sword to kill the child with; but that was so impious, that she chose rather to kill herself. And Macareus laid violent hands upon himself too. — Sostratus, in his Second Book of Tuscan History.
Papirius Tolucer married Julia Pulchra, by whom he had six sons and six daughters. Papirius Romanus, the eldest of the six, got Canulia his sister with child. When the father came to the knowledge of it, he sent his daughter a sword, with which she killed herself; and Romanus did the same. — Chrysippus, in his First Book of Italian History.
29. Aristonymus, an Ephesian and the son of Demostratus, was a woman-hater; but he had to do with an ass, which brought him forth in the ordinary course of time a most beautiful daughter, which he called Onoscelis. — Aristotle’s Second Book of Paradoxes.
Fulvius Stellus had an aversion to women too; but entertained himself to his satisfaction with a mare, by which he had a very handsome daughter, that he called Hippona; and this is the goddess that has the care of the breed of horses. — According to Agesilaus, in the Third Book of his Italian History.
30. The Sardians, being engaged in war with the Smyrnaeans, besieged Smyrna, and sent them word by their ambassadors, that they would never raise the siege till the Smyrnaeans should deliver up their wives to their embraces. The men of Smyrna would have been hard put to it upon this pinching necessity, if it had not been for the advice of a pretty wench that was a maid-servant to Phylarchus. Her counsel to her master was this; that instead of sending free women, they should rather dress up the servants and send them. The Smyrnaeans followed their advice; and when the Sardians had wearied themselves with their mistresses, the Smyrnaeans easily overcame them. From whence there is a festival day observed under the name of Eleutheria, which is celebrated among the Smyrnaeans with great solemnity; the servants being dressed up with all the ornaments of the free women. — Dositheus, in the Third Book of his Lydian History.
Atepomarus, a king of the Gauls, being in war with the Romans, made a public declaration, that he would never agree to a peace till the Romans should prostitute their wives to them. The Romans advised with the maid-servants, and sent them in the place of the free women; the barbarians plied the work so hard, that they were soon tired and fell asleep. Retana (who was the authoress of the counsel) climbed a fig-tree, and so got on the wall; and finding how it was, gave notice of it to the consuls. The Romans upon this made a sally and routed the enemy; in memory whereof was instituted the Servants’ Holiday, and this was the rise of it. — Aristides Milesius, in the First Book of his Italian History.
31. In the war betwixt the Athenians and Eumolpus, provisions falling short, the commissary Pyrandrus, upon a point of prudence and good husbandry, made some small abatement in the soldiers’ proportions. The citizens suspected treachery in the case, and stoned him to death. — Callisthenes, Third Book of his History of Thrace.
The Romans being in war with the Gauls, and provisions for the belly being very scarce, Cinna contracted the soldiers’ allowance to a less proportion than they had formerly. The citizens interpreted this abatement to an ambitious design he had upon the government, and so stoned him for it. — Aristides, Book Third of his Italian History.
32. In the time of the Peloponnesian war, Pisistratus an Orchomenian had a spite at the nobility, and to make himself popular, favored the common people. The Senate conspired against him, and treacherously killed him, cutting him into small gobbets which they carried away with them in their bosoms, and paring off the surface of the ground that no signs of the murder might appear. The common people, however, upon a jealousy of the matter, went tumultuously to the senate house; but the king’s younger son Telesimachus that was dipped in the conspiracy, diverted them with a sham story, telling them that he himself had seen his father in a form more than human, walking as lively as was possible up the Pisaean mountain. And so he imposed upon the people. — Theophilus’s Second Book of Peloponnesian Histories.
The Senate of Rome, being hard put to it for the maintaining of a war with so many of their neighbors, thought it good husbandry to shorten the people’s allowance of corn, which Romulus the king took very ill; and not only did he restore it to the people, but several great men were punished for it. Upon this he was murdered in the Senate by a conspiracy of the nobles, who cut him all to pieces, and carried them severally away in the lappets of their garments. The Romans came to the senate house in a hurry, and brought fire with them to set all in a flame; but Julius Proculus, one that was in the plot, told them that he saw Romulus upon a mountain, of a size larger than any man, and that he was translated into the number of the Gods. The Romans believed him, and quietly withdrew. — Aristobulus, in the Third Book of his History of Italy.
33. Pelops the son of Tantalus and Euryanassa, had two children, Atreus and Thyestes, by his wife Hippodamia; and by the Nymph Danais he had Chrysippus, whom he loved better than his lawful children. But Laius the Theban in the heat of his lust forcibly abused his body; and being taken by Atreus and Thyestes, obtained his pardon from Pelops, in regard that love had provoked him to it. Hippodamia’s advice to Atreus and Thyestes was, that they should kill Chrysippus, as one that would interpose between them and the crown. Upon their refusal to do so base a thing, she herself put her own hands to the work, and in the dead of the night took Laius’s sword when he was asleep, wounded Chrysippus with it, and left the weapon in his body. This circumstance of Laius’s sword brought him into suspicion of the murder, till he was cleared by Chrysippus himself, who, being as yet but half dead, gave his testimony to the truth. Pelops buried his son, and then banished his wife. — Dositheus, in his Pelopidae.
Ebius Toliex had two sons by his wife Nuceria, and a third called Firmus by an enfranchised woman, who was very handsome and better beloved by the father than those that were legitimate. Nuceria that hated this by-blow, advised her sons to despatch Firmus; but upon their refusal, she did it herself; and in the dead of the night got the sword of him that guarded the body of Firmus, gave him a mortal wound, and left the weapon sticking in his body. The boy cleared his keeper by a particular account of the matter of fact; the father buried his son, and sent away his wife into banishment. — Dositheus, Book Third of his Italian History.
34. Theseus, the true son of Neptune, had Hippolytus by the Amazon Hippolyta, and afterward married Phaedra the daughter of Minos, who fell deep in love with Hippolytus, and made use of the nurse’s mediation to help forward the incest. But Hippolytus upon this left Athens and went away to Troezen, where he diverted himself with hunting. Now this lascivious woman, finding her design disappointed, forged several scandalous letters to the prejudice of the chaste young man, and ended her days with a halter. Theseus gave credit to the slander, and Neptune having promised him a grant of any three things he would ask, he made it his request that he would destroy Hippolytus. So Neptune sent a bull to the coast where Hippolytus was driving his chariot, which put his horses into such a fright, that they ran away with them, and overturning the chariot killed the master.
Comminius Super, a Laurentine, had a son by the nymph Egeria, whom he called Comminius; after which he married one Gidica, who fell passionately in love with her son-in-law. And receiving a repulse, she framed slanderous letters against him, which she left behind her, and so hanged herself. Comminius, reflecting upon the crime and believing the calumny, applied himself to Neptune, who with a terrible bull frighted the horses so, while the youth was in the chariot, that they overturned all, and killed him with the fall. — Dositheus, Book Third of Italian Histories.
35. In the time of a great plague in Lacedaemon, they were told by the oracle, that the pestilence would cease upon the sacrificing of a noble virgin every year. It fell one time by lot to Helena, who was brought out and dressed up ready for the sacrifice. An eagle at that time flying by took away the sword, and carrying it into a herd of cattle laid it down upon a heifer; whereupon they spared the virgin. — Aristodemus, in his Third Collection of Fables.
There was a dreadful plague in Falerii, which the oracle said would be removed upon the sacrificing of a virgin to Juno every year. While this superstition was in course, it fell to Valeria Luperca’s lot to be the sacrifice. An eagle flew away with the drawn sword, but laid a stick upon the fuel prepared for the fire, with a little mallet fixed to it. The sword he threw upon a heifer feeding near the temple. The virgin perceiving this sacrificed the heifer; and taking up the mallet, went about from house to house, and with a gentle knock called to those that were sick, bidding them be of good health. And this was the rise of the ceremony which continues to this day. — Aristides, in his Nineteenth Book of Italian Histories.
36. Philonome, the daughter of Nyctimus and Arcadia, went many times to the chase with Diana. Mars lay with her in the shape of a shepherd, and fetched up her belly. She was delivered in time of twins, which for fear of her father she threw into the river Erymanthus. By a strange fatality of providence they were driven safe into a hollow oak, which happening to be the kennel of a wolf, this wolf threw her whelps into the river, and suckled the children. Tyliphus a shepherd, that had seen this with his own eyes, took these children and brought them up as his own, calling one of them Lycastus, and the other Parrasius, which reigned successively in Arcadia. — This is reported by Zopyrus Byzantius, in the Third Book of his Histories.
Amulius dealing very tyrannically with his brother Numitor, killed his son Aenitus as they were a hunting, and made his daughter Sylvia . . . a priestess of Juno. Mars got her with child, and when she had laid her belly of twins, she confessed the truth to the tyrant; which put him in such an apprehension, that he exposed them both on the side of the river Tiber, where they were carried by the stream to a place where a she-wolf had her whelps. The wolf cast away her own, and gave suck to these children. Faustus a shepherd, observing this, took the children to himself, and called them by the names of Romus and Romulus, which came afterwards to be the founders of Rome. — Aristides’s Italian Histories.
37. After the destruction of Troy, Agamemnon and Cassandra were killed; but Orestes, that was brought up with Strophius, revenged the death of his father. — Pyrander’s Fourth Book of Peloponnesian Histories.
Fabius Fabricianus, a kinsman of Fabius Maximus, having taken Tuxium, the chief city of the Samnites, sent to Rome the image of Venus Victrix, which among them was held in great veneration. His wife Fabia was debauched by Petronius Valentinus, a handsome young man, and afterwards she treacherously murdered her husband; but for her son Fabricianus who was yet in his infancy, she shifted him away to be privately brought up, and so provided for his security. When he was grown up, he destroyed both his mother and the adulterer, and was formally acquitted for it by a decree of the Senate. — Dositheus’s Third Book of Italian History.
38. Busiris, the son of Neptune and Anippe the daughter of Nilus, was used to invite strangers in to him under a pretence of hospitality, and then to murder them; but divine vengeance met with him at last, for Hercules found out the villany, and killed him with his club. — Agatho the Samian.
Hercules, as he was driving Geryon’s oxen through Italy, took up his lodging with King Faunus there, the son of Mercury, whose custom it was to sacrifice strangers to his father. He set upon Hercules, and had his brains beaten out for his pains. — Dercyllus’s Third Book of Italian History.
39. Phalaris of Agrigentum, a cruel tyrant, was wont to put strangers and travellers to the most exquisite torment. Perillus, a brass-founder, made a cow of brass, and presented it to the king for a new invention, that he might burn strangers alive in it. Phalaris for this once was just, in making the first proof of it upon Perillus himself; and the invention was so artificial, that upon putting it in execution, the engine itself seemed to bellow. — Second Book of Questions or Causes.
In Egesta, a city of Sicily, there was a certain tyrant called Aemilius Censorinus, who was so inhuman that he proposed rewards to the inventors of new tortures. There was one Aruntius Paterculus that had framed a brazen horse, and made a present of it to the tyrant to practise with it upon whom he pleased. It was the first piece of justice that ever the tyrant did, to make trial of the torment upon the author of it, that he might first feel himself the torments he had provided for others. He was afterwards thrown down from the Tarpeian Rock. It may be thought that unmerciful rulers are from this tyrant called Aemilii. — Aristides’s Fourth Book of Italian History.
40. Evenus, the son of Mars and Sterope, had a daughter Marpessa by his wife Alcippe, the daughter of Oenomaus; and this girl he had a mind to keep a virgin. But Idas, the son of Aphareus, ran away with her from a choir. Evenus pursued him, and finding he could not overtake him, he threw himself into the river Lycormas, and became immortal. — Dositheus’s First Book of Italian History.
Anius, a king of the Tuscans, had a delicate, handsome daughter, whose name was Salia, and he took great care to keep her a virgin. But Cathetus, a man of quality, seeing her sporting herself, fell passionately in love with her, and carried her away to Rome. The father made after her, and when he saw there was no catching of her, he threw himself into a river that from him took the name of Anio. Cathetus begot Latinus and Salius upon the body of Salia, the root of a noble race. — Aristides Milesius, and Alexander Polyhistor’s Third Book of Italian History.
41. Hegesistratus an Ephesian committed a murder in his family, and fled to Delphi; on consulting the oracle what place to settle in, the answer was, that when he should come to a place where he should see the country people dancing with garlands of olive-leaves, he should settle there. He travelled into a certain country of Asia, where he found as the oracle told him, and there built a city which he called Elaeus. — Pythocles the Samian, in the Third Book of his Georgics.
Telegonus, the son of Ulysses by Circe, was sent to find out his father, and commanded by an oracle to erect a city where he should see the country people dancing with garlands. He came into a certain place of Italy, where he found the countrymen dancing with wreaths of ilex about their heads; so that there he built a city, and called it Prinistum, for an ilex in Greek is πϱῖνος. The Romans corruptly call this city Praeneste. — Aristocles, in the Third Book of his Italian History.
[* ]It seems impossible to believe this treatise to be the work of Plutarch, and equally impossible to believe it to be the work of any full-grown man of sound mind. In this case, and in that of the next treatise, no satisfaction is gained by merely supposing the work spurious. One of these Parallel Histories is usually a wellknown story, and the other is an absurd imitation of it. An instance may be seen in section 12, where the common story of Manlius Torquatus and his son is matched by an absurd one of Epaminondas and his son; on which Wyttenbach remarks: “Romanum constat: Graecum non modo ementitum, sed stulte ementitum.” We might almost suspect that many of them are some school-boy’s compositions, half historical, and half imitations of well-known stories fortified by imaginary authorities. Is it possible that this school-boy can have been Plutarch himself? (G.)