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Headword: *formi/wn
Adler number: phi,604
Translated headword: Phormion, Phormio
Vetting Status: high
Theopompus too [writes] about him in the Philippika.[1] He was a Crotonian and was wounded at the Battle of Sagras.[2] When his wound proved to be incurable, he received an oracle [telling him] to go to Sparta, for the first man [there] to invite him to dinner would be his doctor. Accordingly, when he arrived at Sparta and alighted from his carriage a young man invited him to dinner. After he had dined [Phormion] told him why he had come. When he heard about the oracle [the young man] took scrapings from the spear and placed them on [the wound].[3] After they had risen from dinner[4] [Phormion], thinking that he was climbing into his carriage, took hold of the door of his house in Croton. Moreover, when he was taking part in the Theoxenia,[5] the Dioscuri summoned him to Battus in Cyrene; and he stood up holding a stalk of silphium.[6]
[There is] also a saying, 'Phormion's sleeping-mat'; in reference to things that are cheap.[7] For this Phormion was a brave general and appears in The Taxiarchs as a man capable of great endurance; for he was one who loved the fighting life and was austere [in character].[8] 'Sleeping-mat' because soldiers sleep on the ground. It is recorded that Phormion defeated the Spartans in two naval battles.[9] He was a frugal man and the quintessential soldier. Those who have trained thoroughly for war with physical exercises and labours are accustomed to sleep on the ground. Also Dionysius in The Taxiarchs [says]: 'I would no longer have eaten [...] from the time I fled the sleeping-mats'.[10]
Greek Original:
*formi/wn: peri\ tou/tou kai\ *qeo/pompos e)n *filippikoi=s. h)=n de\ *krotwnia/ths kai\ e)n th=| e)pi\ *sa/gra| ma/xh| e)trw/qh. dusia/tou d' o)/ntos tou= trau/matos, xrhsmo\n e)/laben ei)s *lakedai/mona e)lqei=n, tou=ton ga\r au)tou= i)atro\n e)/sesqai, o(\s a)\n au)to\n prw=ton kale/seien e)pi\ dei=pnon. w(s ou)=n h(=ken ei)s th\n *spa/rthn, kataba/nta au)to\n a)po\ tou= o)xh/matos e)ka/lesen e)pi\ dei=pnon neani/skos: deipnh/santos de\ h)/reto, e)f' o(/ ti h(/kei. w(s de\ h)/kouse peri\ tou= xrhsmou=, a)pocu/sas tou= do/ratos e)piti/qhsin. w(s de\ a)ne/lusan a)po\ tou= dei/pnou, dokw=n a)nabai/nein e)pi\ to\ a(/rma, th=s qu/ras au(tou= tou= oi)/kou tou= e)n *kro/twni e)pilamba/netai. a)lla\ kai\ *qeoce/nia au)tou= a)/gontos, e)ka/lesan au)to\n oi( *dio/skouroi pro\s *ba/tton ei)s *kurh/nhn: kai\ a)ne/sth te e)/xwn silfi/ou kaulo/n. kai\ paroimi/a: *formi/wnos stiba/s: e)pi\ tw=n eu)telw=n: ou(=tos ga\r o( *formi/wn a)gaqo\s e)ge/neto strathgo/s, kai\ e)n toi=s *tacia/rxais de\ fai/netai w(s e)pi/ponos: filopo/lemos ga\r kai\ au)sthro/s. stiba/des de/, e)pei\ oi( stratiw=tai xamaikoitw=sin. a)nagra/fetai de\ o( *formi/wn dusi\ naumaxi/ais nikh/sas *lakedaimoni/ous. lito\s de\ h)=n kai\ stratiwtiko/s. oi( de\ ta\ polemika\ e)chskhme/noi u(po\ gumnasi/wn kai\ po/nwn ei)w/qasi xamaikoitei=n. kai\ *dionu/sios e)n *tacia/rxais: w(s ou)k e)/t' a)\n fa/goimi, stiba/das e)co/sou fu/gon.
[1] Theopompus FGrH 115 F392 (not regarded by Jacoby as a verbatim quotation). The implication of the Suda's 'too' is obscure.
[2] The Battle of the River Sagras was fought between the forces of Locris and Croton in southern Italy. According to Strabo (6.1.10) the battle marked the beginning of Croton's decline, and so will have taken place after c.510 BCE when Croton destroyed Sybaris. Nothing more is known of this particular Crotonian.
[3] The scrapings are likely to have been verdigris i)o/s taken from the bronze tip of the spear. This method was used by Achilles in curing Telephus, as related in the epic poem Cypria. The evidence for this is the argument for the contents of the Cypria as given in Proclus' Chrestomathy in combination with Apollodorus' Library as quoted by M.L. West in his edition of Greek Epic Fragments (LCL), Harvard U.P.: 2003, p.74. The passage reads: [*th/lefos] qerapeu/etai a)pocu/santos *)axille/ws th=s phlia/dos meli/as to\n i)o/n. Note also the following extract from web address 1 below. The first recorded medical use of copper is found in the Smith Papyrus, one of the oldest books known. The Papyrus is an Egyptian medical text, written between 2600 and 2200 BC, which records the use of copper to sterilize chest wounds and to sterilize drinking water. Other early reports of copper's medicinal uses are found in the Ebers Papyrus, written around 1500 BC. The Ebers Papyrus documents medicine practiced in ancient Egypt and in other cultures that flourished many centuries earlier. Copper compounds were recommended for headaches, "trembling of the limbs" (perhaps referring to epilepsy or St. Vitus' Dance), burn wounds, itching and certain growths in the neck, some of which were probably boils. Forms of copper used for the treatment of disease ranged from metallic copper splinters and shavings to various naturally occurring copper salts and oxides. A 'green pigment' is spoken of which was probably the mineral malachite, a form of copper carbonate. It could also have been chrysocolla, a copper silicate, or even copper chloride, which forms on copper exposed to seawater. In the first century AD, Dioscorides, in his book De Materia Medica, described a method of making another green pigment known as verdigris by exposing metallic copper to the vapors of boiling vinegar. In this process, blue-green copper acetate forms on the copper surface. Verdigris and blue vitriol (copper sulfate) were used, among other things, in remedies for eye ailments such as bloodshot eyes, inflamed or "bleary" eyes, "fat in the eyes" (trachoma?), and cataracts. In the Hippocratic Collection (named for, although not entirely written by, the Greek physician Hippocrates, 460-380), copper is recommended for the treatment of leg ulcers associated with varicose veins. To prevent infection of fresh wounds, the Greeks sprinkled a dry powder composed of copper oxide and copper sulfate on the wound.
[4] The verb a)nalu/w means 'unloose' or 'set free' and can also mean 'release from a spell'. See LSJ s.v. and web address 2.
[5] The Theoxenia was a festival (whether private or public) in which a god or gods were considered to be present in person at a banquet given by their worshippers. In the present case the Dioscuri were the guest divinities. See OCD(4) 1463 'theoxenia'.
[6] Silphium, a plant related to fennel and celery, grew only in Cyrene in north Africa. Consequently, the stalk of silphium was tangible evidence that Phormion had astrally traveled to Cyrene. Concerning silphium see sigma 422, sigma 423; and A. Dalby, Siren Feasts. London: Routledge: 1996, 86-87. The Battiad dynasty (named after Battus the founder of Cyrene) ruled from c.630-c.440.
[7] cf. sigma 1097. This and what follows comes from the scholia to Aristophanes, Peace 347, where this different Phormion (on whom see note 9 below) is mentioned.
[8] A comic play by Eupolis (Kassel-Austin, PCG 5.452-466).
[9] The Athenian general (strategos) Phormion: see generally RE 20.1, cols.537-539, under 'Phormion(4)', by T. Lenschau; OCD4 1140, under 'Phormion(1)', by S. Hornblower; R. Develin, Athenian Officials 684-321 BC (Cambridge 1989) no.2504. He first comes to notice -- already in that high office -- during the revolt of Samos in 440. The exploits referred to here took place in the Gulf of Corinth in 429. See Thucydides 2.83-92 with web address 2.
[10] Or perhaps (with Meineke) Dionysus in place of 'Dionysius'. Whatever the name, the character appears to be a slave who slept on a straw mat, the poorest of bedding. The nature of the food he would not wish to eat again has been lost.
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2
Keywords: aetiology; biography; botany; comedy; daily life; food; geography; history; medicine; military affairs; mythology; proverbs; religion
Translated by: Tony Natoli on 3 March 2003@16:35:40.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (supplemented translation; augmented notes; cosmetics) on 4 March 2003@03:48:44.
Tony Natoli (Augmented note 3.) on 8 May 2003@18:22:21.
Tony Natoli (Modified and amplified n.3) on 12 May 2003@20:32:25.
David Whitehead (expanded n.1; tweaks and cosmetics) on 21 October 2010@10:08:40.
David Whitehead (another keyword; tweaking) on 15 December 2013@07:24:20.
David Whitehead (updated 2 refs) on 7 August 2014@03:46:03.
Catharine Roth (betacode cosmetics, coding) on 4 November 2014@09:32:17.
Catharine Roth (tweaked links) on 4 November 2014@22:34:10.
David Whitehead (updated a ref) on 30 December 2014@08:38:29.


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