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things are too hard for me. I comprehend them not. The only wine which is bad is that which is sent to my judges. Who can expound this to us?"
The king scratched his head. Upon which all the courtiers scratched their heads.
He then ordered proclamation to be made, that a purple robe and a golden chain should be given to the man who could solve this difficulty.
An old philosopher, who had been observed to smile rather disdainfully when the prize had first been instituted, came forward and spoke thus:--
“Gomer Chephoraod, live for ever! Marvel not at that which has happened. It was no miracle, but a natural event. How could it be otherwise? It is true that much good wine has been made this year. But who would send it in for thy rewards? Thou knowest Ascobaruch who hath the great vineyards in the north, and Cohahiroth who sendeth wine every year from the south over the Persian gulf. Their wines are
so delicious that ten measures thereof are sold for an hundred talents of silver. Thinkest thou that they will exchange them for thy slaves and thine asses? What would thy prize profit any who have vineyards in rich soils?"
"Who then," said one of the judges, wretches who sent us this poison?
66 are the
"Blame them not," said the sage, "seeing that you have been the authors of the evil. They are men whose lands are poor, and have never yielded them any returns equal to the prizes which the king proposed. Wherefore, knowing that the lords of the fruitful vineyards would not enter into competition with them, they planted vines, some on rocks, and some m light sandy soil, and some in deep clay. Hence
their wines are bad. For no culture or reward wil make barren land bear good vines. Know therefore, assuredly, that your prizes have increased the quantity of bad but not of good wine."
There was a long silence. At length the king spoke. "Give him the purple robe and the chain of gold. Throw the wines into the Euphrates; and proclaim that the Royal Society of Wines is dissolved."
SCENES FROM “ATHENIAN REVELS.”
(Knight's Quarterly Magazine, January 1824.)
SCENE-A Street in Athens.
Enter CALLIDEMUS and SPEUSIPPUS.
So, you young reprobate! You must be a man of wit, forsooth, and a man of quality! You must spend as if you were as rich as Nicias, and prate as if you were as wise as Pericles! You must dangle after sophists and pretty women! And I must pay for all' I must sup on thyme and onions, while you are swal lowing thrushes and hares! I must drink water, that you may play the cottabus with Chian wine! I must wander about as ragged as Pauson, 2 that you may be as fine as Alcibiades! I must lie on bare boards, with a stone 3 for my pillow, and a rotten mat for my coverlid, by the light of a wretched winking lamp, while you are marching in state, with as many torches as one sees at the feast of Ceres, to thunder with your
1 This game consisted in projecting wine out of cups; it was a diversion extremely fashionable at Athenian entertainments.
2 Pauson was an Athenian painter, whose name was synonymous with beggary. See Aristophanes; Plutus, 602. From his poverty, I am inclined to suppose that he painted historical pictures. 8 See Aristophanes; Plutus, 542.
hatchet at the doors of half the Ionian ladies in
Why, thou unreasonable old man! Thou most shameless of fathers!
Ungrateful wretch; dare you talk so? Are you not afraid of the thunders of Jupiter?
Jupiter thunder! nonsense! Anaxagoras says, that thunder is only an explosion produced by
He does! Would that it had fallen on his head for his pains!
Nay: talk rationally.
Rationally! You audacious young sophist! I will talk rationally. Do you know that I am your father? What quibble can you make upon that?
Do I know that you are my father? Let us take the question to pieces, as Melesigenes would say. First, then, we must inquire what is knowledge? Secondly, what is a father? Now, knowledge, as Socrates said the other day to Theatetus,
1 See Theocritus; Idyll ii. 128.
2 This was the most disreputable part of Athens. See Aristophanes Pax, 165.
8 See Plato's Theætetus.
Socrates! what! the ragged flat-nosed old dotard, who walks about all day barefoot, and filches cloaks, and dissects gnats, and shoes 1 fleas with wax?
All fiction! All trumped up by Aristophanes !
By Pallas, if he is in the habit of putting shoes on his fleas, he is kinder to them than to himself. But listen to me, boy; if you go on in this way, you will be ruined. There is an argument for you. Go to your Socrates and your Melesigenes, and tell them to refute that. Ruined! Do you hear?
Ay, by Jupiter! Is such a show as you make to be supported on nothing? During all the last war, I made not an obol from my farm; the Peloponnesian locusts came almost as regularly as the Pleiades ; — corn burnt; -olives stripped ;- fruit trees cut down ; -wells stopped up; and, just when peace came, and I hoped that all would turn out well, you must begin to spend as if you had all the mines of Thasus et command.
If Neptune delights in horses, he does not resemble
1 See Aristophanes; Nubes, 150.