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Headword: *zh/nwn
Adler number: zeta,84
Translated headword: Zeno, Zenon
Vetting Status: high
[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:
*zh/nwn, basileu\s *(rwmai/wn. o(\s *zh/nwna to\n e(autou= ui(o\n dia/doxon katalimpa/nein qe/lwn komidh=| ne/on proh=ge/ te di' a)ciw=n kai\ swmaskei=sqai e)ke/leuen ei)s e)pi/dosin th=s h(liki/as. oi( de\ basilikoi\ e)n e)cousi/a| geno/menoi tou= a)/dhn ta\ dhmo/sia katanali/skein *subaritikw=s to\n ne/on kraipala=n e)nh/rgoun kai\ mastropeu/ontes au)tw=| tou\s sunh/bous pro\s tou\s tw=n a)rre/nwn e)/rwtas lussa=n e)pai/deusan e)kto/pws. diai/ths ou)=n e)n h(donai=s kai\ tu/fw| tiqeme/nhs to\ kalo\n e)qa\s geno/menos kai\ th\n u(potufwme/nhn a)lazonei/an e)pi\ th=| basilikh=| karadoki/a| dia\ tw=n prosw/pwn a)pemfai/nwn a)krobatei=n te h)/rcato kai\ mete/wron to\n au)xe/na ai)/rein kai\ sullh/bdhn fa/nai, prose/xein pa=sin w(s oi)ke/tais a)nqrw/pois. a)ll' o( pa/ntwn e)/foros th\n fusikh\n kai\ didaktikh\n kako/thta au)tou= teqeame/nos, diarreu/santa th=| gastri\ kai\ a)naisqh/tws e)pi\ polla\s h(me/ras e)s th\n eu)nh\n a)popatou=nta, pro/wron tw=n a)nqrwpei/wn e)dikai/wsen e)kbh=nai. o(/ti *zh/nwn o( basileu/s, puqo/menos tw=n oi)kei/wn th\n h(=ttan e)s frou/rion katafeu/gei e)pi\ lo/fou kei/menon, o(\ *kwnstantinou/polin oi( pro/sxwroi e)ka/loun. o(/per gnou/s, toi=s sunou=si stena/cas, qeou= pai/gnion, ei)=pen, a)/ra o( a)/nqrwpos: ei)/ge kai\ e)me\ ou(/tw pai/zein filei= to\ daimo/nion. e)moi\ ga\r dh\ oi( ma/nteis to\n *)iou/lion mh=na e)c a)na/gkhs e)n *kwnstantinoupo/lei diateino/menoi prou)/legon. ka)gw\ me\n e)no/mizon e)s *kwnstantinou/polin a)nabh/sesqai: nu=n de\ pa/ntwn e)/rhmos kai\ fuga\s e)s lo/fon h)=lqon, eu(rhkw\s o( dei/laios proshgori/an o(mw/numon.
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 *pro\s *pla/twna u(pe\r tw=n tetta/rwn 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.
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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