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Ancient History Sourcebook:
Herondas (aka Herodas):
from The Third Mime, c. 3rd Cent. BCE


[A mother, Metrotimé, brings her truant son Cottalos to his schoolmaster Lampriscos to receive a flogging.]

Metrotimé. Flog him Lampriscos, across the shoulders, till his wicked soul is all but out of him. He's spent my all in playing odd and even; knuckle bones are nothing to him. Why, he hardly knows the door of the Letter School. And yet the thirtieth comes round and I must pay---tears no excuse.

His writing tablet which I take the trouble to wax anew each month, lies unregarded in the corner. If by chance he deigns to touch it he scowls like Hades, then puts nothing right but smears it out and out. He doesn't know a letter, till you scream it twenty times. The other day his father made him spell "Maron"; the rascal made it "Simon": dolt I thought myself to send him to a school! Ass-tending is his trade!---Another time we set him to recite some childish piece; he sifts it out like water through a crack, "Apollo" ---pause,---then "hunter!"

[The poor mother goes on to say that it is useless to scold the boy; for, if she does, he promptly runs away from home, to sponge upon his grandmother, or sits upon the roof out of the way like an ape, breaking the tiles, which is expensive for his parents.]

Yet he knows the seventh and the twentieth of the month, whole holidays, as if he reads the stars, he lies awake o'nights dreaming of them. But, so may yonder Muses prosper you, give him in stripes no less than---

Lampriscos [briskly]. Right you are, here, Euthias, Coccalos, and Phillos hoist him upon your backs. I like your goings on, my boy! I'll teach you manners! Where's my strap, with the stinging cow's tail?

Cottalos [in terror]. By the Muses, sir,---not with the stinger?

Lampriscos. Then you shouldn't be so naughty.

Cottalos. O, how many will you give me!

Lampriscos. Your mother fixes that.

Cottalos. How many, mother?

Metrotimé. As many as your wicked hide can bear.

[They proceed with the flogging]

Cottalos. Stop!---That's enough!---Stop! Lampriscos. You should stop your ways.

Cottalos. I'll never do it more, I promise you.

Lampriscos. Don't talk so much, or else I'll bring a gag.

Cottalos. I won't talk,---only do not kill me,---please!

Lampriscos [at length relenting]. Let him down, boys.

Metrotimé. No---leather him till sunset.

Lampriscos. Why, he's as mottled as a water snake.

Metrotimé. Well, when he's done his reading, good or bad, give him a trifle more, say twenty strokes.

Cottalos [in agony]. Yah!

Metrotimé. [turning away]. I'll go home and get a pair of fetters. Our Lady Muses, whom he scorned, shall see their scorner hobble here with shackled feet.


Source:

From: William Stearns Davis, Readings in Ancient History: Illustrative Extracts from the Sources, 2 Vols., (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1912-1913), Vol. I: Greece and the East, pp. 255-257.

Scanned by: J. S. Arkenberg, Dept. of History, Cal. State Fullerton


This text is part of the Internet Ancient History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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© Paul Halsall May 1998
halsall@murray.fordham.edu