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Headword: Ζήνων
Adler number: zeta,84
Translated headword: Zeno, Zenon
Vetting Status: high
Translation:
[Zeno,] emperor of the Romans. [It was he] who, wanting to leave his son Zeno as successor, advanced him at quite an early age through the offices and bid him exercise his body in order to add to his youthful vigor. And the imperial officers, as they were in authority over the spending of public funds, seduced him into drinking luxuriantly; and, encouraging him in his vices,[1] they taught him, contrary to custom, to madly desire his fellow youths in accord with the loves of males. And so, when he became accustomed to the good of a life situated amidst delusional pleasure, he displayed on his face the arrogance that burned from within him because he expected to inherit the imperial title, and he began to walk proudly, to lift his neck up high, and--to speak shortly--to be imperious to everyone as if to slaves. But the overseer of all, having seen his inborn and his educated baseness, deemed it best that, after having a stomach ailment and diarrhoea[2] and relieving himself in bed in his unconciousness, he depart then prematurely from human things.
[It is said that[3]] the emperor Zeno, when he discovered the defeat of his forces, fled into a fort situated on a hill, which the inhabitants call Constantinopole. Realizing this, he groaned to those with him, "God's joke", he said, "yes, that's what man is,[4] if truly the divine loves thus to mock even me, for the prophets maintained their prophecy for me that in the month of July I must be in Constantinople. And I thought that I would come back into Constantinople. But now, a fugitive bereft of everything, I have come onto a hill, discovering--wretch that I am--that it has the same name [as the city]."
Greek Original:
Ζήνων, βασιλεὺς Ῥωμαίων. ὃς Ζήνωνα τὸν ἑαυτοῦ υἱὸν διάδοχον καταλιμπάνειν θέλων κομιδῇ νέον προῆγέ τε δι' ἀξιῶν καὶ σωμασκεῖσθαι ἐκέλευεν εἰς ἐπίδοσιν τῆς ἡλικίας. οἱ δὲ βασιλικοὶ ἐν ἐξουσίᾳ γενόμενοι τοῦ ἄδην τὰ δημόσια καταναλίσκειν Συβαριτικῶς τὸν νέον κραιπαλᾶν ἐνήργουν καὶ μαστροπεύοντες αὐτῷ τοὺς συνήβους πρὸς τοὺς τῶν ἀρρένων ἔρωτας λυσσᾶν ἐπαίδευσαν ἐκτόπως. διαίτης οὖν ἐν ἡδοναῖς καὶ τύφῳ τιθεμένης τὸ καλὸν ἐθὰς γενόμενος καὶ τὴν ὑποτυφωμένην ἀλαζονείαν ἐπὶ τῇ βασιλικῇ καραδοκίᾳ διὰ τῶν προσώπων ἀπεμφαίνων ἀκροβατεῖν τε ἤρξατο καὶ μετέωρον τὸν αὐχένα αἴρειν καὶ συλλήβδην φάναι, προσέχειν πᾶσιν ὡς οἰκέταις ἀνθρώποις. ἀλλ' ὁ πάντων ἔφορος τὴν φυσικὴν καὶ διδακτικὴν κακότητα αὐτοῦ τεθεαμένος, διαρρεύσαντα τῇ γαστρὶ καὶ ἀναισθήτως ἐπὶ πολλὰς ἡμέρας ἐς τὴν εὐνὴν ἀποπατοῦντα, πρόωρον τῶν ἀνθρωπείων ἐδικαίωσεν ἐκβῆναι. ὅτι Ζήνων ὁ βασιλεύς, πυθόμενος τῶν οἰκείων τὴν ἧτταν ἐς φρούριον καταφεύγει ἐπὶ λόφου κείμενον, ὃ Κωνσταντινούπολιν οἱ πρόσχωροι ἐκάλουν. ὅπερ γνούς, τοῖς συνοῦσι στενάξας, θεοῦ παίγνιον, εἶπεν, ἄρα ὁ ἄνθρωπος: εἴγε καὶ ἐμὲ οὕτω παίζειν φιλεῖ τὸ δαιμόνιον. ἐμοὶ γὰρ δὴ οἱ μάντεις τὸν Ἰούλιον μῆνα ἐξ ἀνάγκης ἐν Κωνσταντινουπόλει διατεινόμενοι προὔλεγον. κἀγὼ μὲν ἐνόμιζον ἐς Κωνσταντινούπολιν ἀναβήσεσθαι: νῦν δὲ πάντων ἔρημος καὶ φυγὰς ἐς λόφον ἦλθον, εὑρηκὼς ὁ δείλαιος προσηγορίαν ὁμώνυμον.
Notes:
For Zeno see already zeta 83; for more on him see Hugh Elton's DIR entry (web address 1); and see Blockley (415, 479) for another translation of this passage.
Excerpts of the story about the imperial officers who corrupted the younger Zeno occur at alpha 463, delta 885, and mu 270.
[1] Or 'pandering to him', i.e. acting as a pimp for him.
[2] Blockley (414-15) interprets the Greek description here as referring to 'dysentery'.
[3] The following anecdote is also referred to, without naming the hill, at epsilon 1727, which Blockley (415, 457 n. 16, 479) assigns to the fragments of Malchus, though he does not consider the version of the story here at zeta 84 to come from Malchus and instead groups it under anonymous articles from the Suda.
[4] For this philosophic quip, compare Plato, Laws 803C; Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis 7.5.28; Aelius Aristides Πρὸς Πλάτωνα ὑπὲρ τῶν τεττάρων 259; Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 4.36, Synesius, Aegyptii sive de providentia 2.2; John of Damascus, Sacra Parallela 95.1125; Eustathius, Commentary on the Iliad 2.399; Nicephorus, Historia Romana 1.257.
Reference:
Blockley, R.C. The Fragmentary Classicising Historians of the Later Roman Empire. Eunapius, Olympiodorus, Priscus and Malchus. Vol. II. Liverpool: Francis Cairns, 1983
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: biography; Christianity; daily life; definition; economics; ethics; food; gender and sexuality; geography; historiography; history; medicine; military affairs; proverbs; religion
Translated by: Abram Ring on 24 January 2005@13:38:21.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 24 January 2005@14:34:21.
David Whitehead (more keywords; further cosmetics; raised status) on 25 January 2005@03:17:56.
David Whitehead (more keywords; cosmetics) on 30 November 2012@03:56:38.
Catharine Roth (cosmeticule) on 3 December 2012@00:19:30.
Catharine Roth (expanded note) on 28 November 2014@22:40:16.

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