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Pancrates II

Alciphron 3.55


THOSE solemn personages, who are always singing the praises of the good and of virtue, differ little or nothing from ordinary individuals; I mean those fellows who go after our young men for money. What a banquet you missed, when Scamonides gave a feast in honour of his daughter’s birthday. Having recently invited a number of the wealthiest and noblest in Athens, he thought it his duty also to grace the festivities with the presence of philosophers. Amongst those was Euthycles the Stoic, an old man with a long beard, dirty, filthy-headed, decrepit, with more wrinkles in his forehead than a leather pouch. There were also present Themistagoras the Peripatetic, not an unpleasant person to look at, with a fine curly beard; Zenocrates the Epicurean, with carefully trimmed locks, and a long and venerable beard; the “famous” Archibius the Pythagorean, as he is called, with a very pale face, waving hair that reached down to his chest, a long and pointed chin, a turned-up nose, lips drawn in and tightly compressed, an indication of his reserve. Suddenly Pancrates the Cynic, violently thrusting the other aside, forced his way in, leaning on a staff of holm-oak, which, in place of thick knots, was studded with brass nails, and carrying an empty wallet, conveniently slung for carrying away the remains of the feast. All the other guests, from beginning to end, maintained a uniform and orderly behaviour; but the philosophers, as the entertainment went on, and the wine-cup went round, began to behave in a most extraordinary fashion. Euthycles the Stoic, overcome by his years and having eaten and drunk too much, lay stretched out at full length, snoring loudly. The Pythagorean, breaking through his silence, began to trill the “Golden Verses” to a kind of musical air. The excellent Themistagoras, who, according to the doctrine of the Peripatetics, places happiness not in bodily or mental advantages alone, but also in external enjoyment, asked for more pastry, and plenty of different dainties; Zenocrates the Epicurean took the girl who played the harp in his arms, looking at her wantonly and lasciviously with half-shut eyes, declaring that this quieted the desires of the flesh, and was the perfection of enjoyment. The Cynic, with the indifference of his sect, let down his cloak and publicly made water, and then proceeded to copulate with Doris the singing-girl, so that everyone could see him, declaring that nature was the principle of generation. No one took any notice of us parasites; none of those who were invited had a chance of showing what they could do to amuse the company, although Phoebiades, the lute-player, was there, and the comic mimes Sannyrion and Philistiades were not absent. But it was all in vain; these were not thought worth looking at; the nonsense of the sophists was the only thing that met with approval.

cynics/pancrates_ii.txt · Last modified: 2014/01/14 23:20 (external edit)