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Headword: Πόπλιος
Adler number: pi,2054
Translated headword: Publius
Vetting Status: high
About this general,[1] "some seek to know through what course he became most famous -- from inborn character or from tribulations endured.[2] But all the others [sc. other biographers] attribute both some luck and always more guesswork in deliberation when embarking upon his projects, regarding such men to be more divine and wondrous than those who engage in each task according to reason, not recognizing that among the aforementioned, although one is praiseworthy, to be but enviable coincides with the other. And, although it is also common to those in lucky circumstances, praiseworthiness itself is to belong solely to men of good judgment and possessing sensibility, and whom are to be regarded most divine and beloved by the gods. To me, Publius seems," says Polybius, "to have borne a close resemblance in character and predisposition to Lycurgus,[3] the lawgiver of the Spartans. For neither must one suppose Lycurgus to have composed the Spartan constitution by superstitious fears and all the promptings by the Pythia,[4] nor Publius to have preserved so great a dynasty for his fatherland by being motivated out of dreams and omens. But both of them seeing most of mankind not ready to accept the unfamiliar nor to partake in challenging endeavors without hope from the gods, Lycurgus, on the one hand, having always augmented his own projects with the Pythia's prophesy, made his own plans more acceptable and trustworthy, while quite similarly Publius, on the other hand, constructing his projects as if they came from divine inspiration, prepared with better courage the ranks of his men for the challenges of their duties. By calculation and foresight and all according to reason he carried out his own tasks as attempted. For it is agreed upon that this man was beneficent and magnanimous, yet shrewd and sober, with an intense concentration about a given proposition, as would be confirmed by no one more than those who have lived with him and have held up his character to the light and examined it. Gaius Laelius[5] was one of them, taking part with him in every deed and word from [sc. Publius'] youth until death, he elaborated this belief about him by speaking with evident candor and consonance to the man's endeavors."[6]
"To the first Publius, after a retaliatory ambush successfully occurred, a crown of green dog's tooth grass was given by the Romans."[7]
"Once some young men among the Romans, having struck up the acquaintance of a maiden surpassing other women in refinement and beauty, and, conscious of Publius being fond of women, they came bringing her along, and having introduced her, announced the girl to be a gift to him. Struck and amazed by her beauty, he declared that while being a private soldier nothing would be more delightful than to accept such a gift, yet upon becoming a general[8] nothing so much is worse, by his refusal hinting that while sometimes such things in living as respite and relaxation provide most delightful enjoyments to young men, yet at the most critical times of engagement they become an impediment to the spirit and body for those who indulged. He said he indeed held gratitude toward the young men, but, having summoned the maiden's father and having handed her over, entreated [sc. the father] to marry her to whomever he were to select among the citizens. Through these, exhibiting both empowerment and moderation, he garnered a great respect from the ranks of his men."[9]
Greek Original:
Πόπλιος: περὶ τούτου τοῦ στρατηγοῦ ζητοῦσί τινες, τίνι τρόπῳ ἐγένετο ἐπιφανέστατος, ἀπὸ ποίας φύσεως ἢ τριβῆς ὁρμηθείς. οἱ μὲν οὖν ἄλλοι πάντες ἐπιτυχῆ τινα καὶ τὸ πλεῖον αἰεὶ παραλόγως καὶ τῷ αὐτομάτῳ κατορθοῦντα τὰς ἐπιβολὰς παρεισάγουσι, νομίζοντες ὡσανεὶ θειοτέρους εἶναι καὶ θαυμαστοτέρους τοὺς τοιούτους ἄνδρας τῶν κατὰ λόγον ἐν ἑκάστοις πραττόντων, ἀγνοοῦντες, ὅτι τὸ μὲν ἐπαινετόν, τὸ δὲ μακαριστὸν εἶναι συμβαίνει τῶν προειρημένων. καὶ τὸ μὲν κοινόν ἐστι καὶ τοῖς τυχοῦσι, τὸ δὲ ἐπαινετὸν μόνον ἴδιον ὑπάρχειν τῶν εὐλογίστων καὶ φρένας ἐχόντων ἀνδρῶν, οὓς καὶ θειοτάτους εἶναι καὶ προσφιλεστάτους τοῖς θεοῖς νομιστέον. ἐμοὶ δοκεῖ Πόπλιος, φησὶν ὁ Πολύβιος, Λυκούργῳ τῷ τῶν Λακεδαιμονίων νομοθέτῃ παραπλησίαν ἐσχηκέναι φύσιν καὶ προαίρεσιν. οὔτε γὰρ Λυκοῦργον ἡγητέον δεισιδαιμονοῦντα καὶ παντὰ προσέχοντα τῇ Πυθίᾳ συστήσασθαι τὸ Λακεδαιμονίων πολίτευμα, οὔτε Πόπλιον ἐξ ἐνυπνίων ὁρμώμενον καὶ κληδόνων τηλικαύτην τῇ πατρίδι περιποιῆσαι δυναστείαν: ἀλλ' ὁρῶντες ἑκάτεροι τοὺς πολλοὺς τῶν ἀνθρώπων οὔτε παράδοξα προσδεχομένους ῥᾳδίως οὔτε τοῖς δεινοῖς τολμῶντας παραβάλλεσθαι χωρὶς τῆς τῶν θεῶν ἐλπίδος, Λυκοῦργος μὲν αἰεὶ προσλαμβανόμενος ταῖς ἰδίαις ἐπιβολαῖς τὴν ἐκ τῆς Πυθίας φήμην εὐπαραδεκτοτέρας καὶ πιστοτέρας ἐποίει τὰς ἰδίας ἐπινοίας, Πόπλιος δὲ παραπλησίως ὡς μετὰ τῆς θείας ἐπιπνοίας ποιούμενος τὰς ἐπιβολὰς εὐθαρσεστέρους παρεσκεύαζε τοὺς ὑποταττομένους πρὸς τὰ δεινὰ τῶν ἔργων. καὶ μετὰ λογισμοῦ καὶ προνοίας ἔπραττε καὶ πάντα κατὰ λόγον ἐξέβαινε τὰ τέλη τῶν πράξεων αὐτῷ. ἐκεῖνος γὰρ ὅτι μὲν ἦν εὐεργετικὸς καὶ μεγαλόψυχος, ὁμολογεῖται, διότι δ' ἀγχίνους καὶ νήπτης, τῇ διανοίᾳ περὶ τὸ προτεθὲν ἐντεταμένος, οὐδεὶς ἂν συγχωρήσειε πλὴν τῶν συμβεβιωκότων καὶ τεθεαμένων ὑποστὰς αὐτοῦ τὴν φύσιν. ὧν εἷς ἦν Γάιος Λαίλιος, ἀπὸ νέου μετεσχηκὼς αὐτῷ παντὸς ἔργου καὶ λόγου μέχρι τελευτῆς, ὁ ταύτην περὶ αὐτοῦ δόξαν ἐργασάμενος διὰ τὸ δοκεῖν εἰκότα λέγειν καὶ σύμφωνα τοῖς ὑπ' ἐκείνου πεπραγμένοις. ὅτι πρώτῳ Ποπλίῳ ἐλλοχήσεως ἀμοιβῆς δεξιῶς γενομένης, ὑπὸ Ῥωμαίων ἐδόθη στέφανος ἀγρώστεως χλωρᾶς. ὅτι ποτὲ νεανίσκοι τινες τῶν Ῥωμαίων ἐπιτυχόντες παρθένῳ κατὰ τὴν ἀκμὴν καὶ τὸ κάλλος διαφερούσῃ τῶν ἄλλων γυναικῶν καὶ συνιδόντες φιλογύνην ὄντα τὸν Πόπλιον ἧκον αὐτὴν ἄγοντες καὶ παραστήσαντες ἔφασκον αὐτῷ δωρεῖσθαι τὴν κόρην. ὁ δὲ καταπλαγεὶς καὶ θαυμάσας τὸ κάλλος, ἰδιώτης μὲν ὢν οὐδεμίαν ἂν ἥδιον ἔφη δέξασθαι ταύτης τῆς δωρεᾶς, στρατηγὸς δ' ὑπάρχων οὐδ' ὁποίαν ἧττον, τοῦτ' αἰνιττόμενος διὰ τῆς ἀποφάσεως, διότι κατὰ μὲν τὰς ἀναπαύσεις ἐνίοτε καὶ ῥᾳθυμίας ἐν τῷ ζῆν ἡδίστας τοῖς νέοις ἀπολαύσεις τὰ τοιαῦτα παρέχεται καὶ διατριβάς, ἐν δὲ τοῖς τοῦ πράττειν καιροῖς μέγιστα γίνεται κατὰ ψυχὴν καὶ κατὰ σῶμα ἐμπόδια τοῖς χρωμένοις. τοῖς μὲν οὖν νεανίσκοις ἔφη χάριν ἔχειν, τὸν δὲ τῆς παρθένου πατέρα καλέσας καὶ δοὺς αὐτὴν ἐκ χειρὸς ἐκέλευε συνοικίζειν ᾧ ποτ' ἂν προαιρῆται τῶν πολιτῶν. δι' ὧν καὶ τὰ τῆς ἐγκρατείας καὶ τὰ τῆς μετριότητος ἐμφαίνων μεγάλην ἀποδοχὴν εἰργάζετο τοῖς ὑποταττομένοις.
[1] Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, 236-183 BCE, campaigned in Iberia, 210-206; OCD4 s.v.; Walbank, p.191ff; and already pi 2053.
[2] An approximation of Polybius 10.2.2 (web address 1).
[3] OCD4 s.v. Lycurgus(2) and lambda 824.
[4] Oracular priestess of Apollo at Delphi; cf. OCD4 s.v. Delphic oracle, pi 3127, pi 3128, and pi 3129.
[5] Gaius Laelius, c.235-c.160, was Scipio Africanus' childhood friend and general under his command in Iberia. He rose to the rank of consul in 190 and informed Polybius in Rome from 167-150. See OCD4 s.v. Laelius(1) and Walbank, pp.198-200.
[6] Polybius 10.2.5-3.3 (web addresses 1-2).
[7] Quotation unidentifiable, but appearing already at delta 233; cf. Aelian fr.120 (Domingo-Forasté, p. 88) and kappa 458. ἀγρώστεως (cf. LSJ s.v.), dog's tooth or Bermuda grass, Cynodon dactylon, is a turf and forage grass native to northern Africa, southern Europe, and Asia (Tutin, p. 259; Polunin, no. 1801).
[8] Scipio Africanus had in fact been elected pro consule prior to his arrival in Iberia, 210 BCE (Walbank, p.219 and Livy 26.18).
[9] Quoted closely from Polybius 10.19.3-7 (web address 3). With considerable additional detail, the story also appears at Livy 26.50.
F.W. Walbank, A Historical Commentary on Polybius, vol. II, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967
D. Domingo-Forasté, ed., Clavdii Aeliani: Epistvlae et Fragmenta, Teubner: Stuttgart and Leipzig, 1994
T.G. Tutin, et al., eds, Flora Europaea, vol. 5, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980
O. Polunin, Flowers of Europe, London: Oxford University Press, 1969
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2,
Web address 3
Keywords: agriculture; biography; botany; chronology; daily life; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; dreams; ethics; food; gender and sexuality; geography; historiography; history; imagery; military affairs; politics; religion; tragedy; women; zoology
Translated by: Ronald Allen on 20 February 2008@02:02:17.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (tweaks and cosmetics) on 20 February 2008@03:52:47.
David Whitehead (correction, on behalf of RA, to n.7) on 9 March 2008@05:38:05.
David Whitehead on 10 October 2013@06:30:06.
David Whitehead on 10 August 2014@06:30:25.
David Whitehead (another x-ref) on 23 June 2016@06:44:25.


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