Censorship, Greek style

With oligarchy, a few power took power and so all poets lived in fear.  It became impossible to openly make fun of anyone, they could take you to court.  Eupolis criticized Alcibiades in his work “Batpae” and decided to drown him in the sea.

This created even more fear in poets as “Baptae” means “Bathers”.



Fifty shades of gay Spartans

When you got married, the first night, your Spartan bride got a haircut like a man’s.  She was dressed by her attendant in male clothes and left in a dark bedroom on a couch.  You came to her carefully from the military quarters because nobody must hear you or catch you.  This goes on for some time and many Spartans even got their wives pregnant before they even saw them in daylight.

Life of Lycourgos – Plutarch



In Praise of Baldness

Some bald people entertain by showing how their heads can cope with everything.  They pour boiling liquids over themselves, charge headlong with a ram running from a distance, break pottery over their bald heads and anything else which will impress the audience.

In Praise of Baldness – Synesius 


How long does a dramatist have to wait?

Sophocles career started with a victory from his first play.  But Euripides started competing but didn’t win first prize until the 14 year of efforts.  Aeschylus had to wait even longer, he wrote plays for 15 years before finally winning!


Flies respect the Olympics

All the time that the Games are on, the flies seems to keep a truce with the visitors and the locals in the area.    This happens even though there is much blood and meat hanging freely due to the many sacrifices to the Gods.  The flies voluntarily go to the other side of Alpheus river, they disappear from the Games.

In many ways there are like the women, only better.  Women are not allowed at the games , the rules exclude them and the observers make sure that no women sneak in.  But the flies follow this ritual on their own free will for the entire period of the Games.

When all the festivities are over, the return like people that have been exiled.  They pour back into the area in great numbers.


On Animals – Aelian


Extreme party games

Some people in Thrace hang themselves as a game during drinking parties.  They make a noose above a stone that is easily overturned if you stand on it.   The noose is at just the right height.   Then, a person is chosen by drawing a lot and he has to get on the stone.  He is allowed only a small knife as he gets up on the stone and puts his head in the noose.  Then someone from the party moves the stone so he has to quickly cut the rope or die.  If he is not quick, he dies and is left hanging there.  His death is considered quite amusing.


Wise men at dinner – Athenaeus.



Knowledge transfer, the godly way

In “Against Celsus”, Origen analyzes a a mural from Samos in which Hera is showing fellating Zeus by explaining it thus:  “…he is misinterpreting the painting of the unspeakable act.    It is symbolic.  Here is receiving the words of the God Zeus, his seed of wizdom, and keeping these words within her in order to adorn the Universe with them.”


Yeah right.


(A more detailed scientific inquiry into the Stoics and this matter can be found in this paper.)


How to get her to bed

Catch a bat and use myrh to draw this shape on its left wing.   Also the seven names of the god and then the words “May (name of woman) , the daughter of (her father’s name) , not get any sleep until she sleeps with me”.  Then let the bat away.

-Greek Magical Papyri 


Tragedy saves lives

After the disastrous events in Sicily, many Athenians were saved thanks to Euripides.  The Greeks that lived far from Athens yearned for his poetry.  Sicilians were no exception.  Even a small sample of his poetry recited by a traveler pleased them a lot.  They memorised it and passed it on with great pleasure.  Many of the people on the failed expedition to Sicily embraced Euripides on their return with much affection.  They told him that they had been released from slavery because they taught the people that had them everything they could of Euripides’ poetry.  Some had even been given drink or food after the battle as they wandered around simply for singing a choral passage from one of his plays.

Life of Nicias – Plutarch


The real Fight Club

It was almost evening at the Nemean Games when Creugas from Epidamnus and Damoxenus from Syracuse were boxing.  So they agreed that they would each allow the other on free punch to decide the match.  In those times the boxers wore soft gloves and their fingers were left uncovered.  Creugas started and punched Damoxenus in the head.  Damoxenus then asked his opponent to raise his arm.  No sooner had Creugas raised his arm, than Damoxenus used his straightened fingers to strike right under his rib-cage.  It was such a hard hit and because he had sharp fingernails that his hand went into his opponent’s body where he grabbed intestines and tore them out with force.

However Creugas, now dead, was declared the victor by the judges because they considered the blow from each of Damoxenus’ fingers as an individual punch even though they had agreed on one punch.

Guide to Greece – Pausanias