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Headword: Agathoklês
Adler number: alpha,117
Translated headword: Agathokles, Agathocles
Vetting Status: high
Translation:
This man became tyrant [of Syracuse] and, as Timaeus says, in his early youth was a common prostitute, ready [to give himself] to the most debauched, a jackdaw, a buzzard,[1] presenting his backside to all who wanted it. When he died, says [Timaeus], his wife cried out to him in lamentation, "What [did] I not [carnally do to] you? And what [did] you not [reciprocate to] me?"[2] That nature had endowed Agathokles with great advantages is clear. For escaping the wheel, the smoke[of the kiln and] the clay,[3] he came to Syracuse, at about the age of eighteen, and in a short time, starting from such beginnings, he became master of the whole of Sicily, exposed the Carthaginians to extreme dangers, and finally, having grown old in the role of dynast, ended his life with the title of king.[4]
Greek Original:
Agathoklês: houtos egeneto turannos kai, hôs phêsi Timaios, kata tên prôtên hêlikian koinos pornos, hetoimos tois akratestatois, koloios, triorchês, pantôn tôn boulomenôn tois opisthen emprosthen gegonôs. hos hote apethane, tên gunaika phêsi kataklaiomenên auton houtô thrênein: ti d' ouk egô se; ti d' ouk eme su; hoti de ek phuseôs anankê megala proterêmata gegonenai peri ton Agathoklea, touto dêlon. eis gar tas Surakousas paregenêthê pheugôn ton trochon, ton kapnon, ton pêlon, peri te tên hêlikian oktôkaideka etê gegonôs, kai meta tina chronon hormêtheis hupo toiautês hupotheseôs, kurios men egenêthê pasês Sikelias, megistois de kindunois periestêse Karchêdonious, telos engêrasas têi dunasteiai, katestrepse ton bion basileus prosagoreuomenos.
Notes:
360-289 BCE; he ruled Syracuse from 317-289. See generally OCD(4) p.36, under Agathocles(1).
The entry presents a semi-verbatim and mildly abridged extract from Polybius (12.15.2-7: web address 1 below), who is in turn citing, disapprovingly, Timaeus of Tauromenium (FGrH 566 F124b).
[1] On this passage K.J. Dover, Greek Homosexuality (London 1978) p.103 writes: 'The jackdaw here probably sybolises impudence and shamelessness; the buzzard, in Greek triorkhes, having three testicles, presumably symbolises insatiable lust, which is assumed to characterise the true pornos'. Cf. tau 995, where the first part of this quotation reappears.
[2] Probably Theoxene, the daughter or stepdaughter of Ptolemy I Soter and the third wife of Agathokles. See F.W. Walbank, A historical commentary on Polybius (Oxford, 1967) v.2 p.361.
[3] His father owned a large pottery. See Diodorus 19.2.7; 20.63.4. As with equivalent figures in (e.g.) late-C5 Athens, such as Kleon, we see here the conceit that those whose wealth lay in manufacture would actually participate in (and be debased by) the actual manufacturing.
[4] Agathokles assumed the title of king in 305. See Diodorus 20.54.1.
References:
Berve, H., Die Herrschaft des Agathokles (Verlag der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1953)
Agathokles(15) in RE 1.1 748-757
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: biography; constitution; daily life; ethics; gender and sexuality; historiography; history; politics; trade and manufacture; women; zoology
Translated by: David Whitehead on 10 February 2001@10:07:49.
Vetted by:
William Hutton (Modified translation, cosmetics, added keywords, set status) on 6 June 2001@00:10:30.
Tony Natoli (Modified translation, added notes and bibliography, raised status.) on 12 August 2001@02:19:21.
David Whitehead (restorative and other cosmetics) on 17 September 2002@05:10:41.
David Whitehead (more keywords) on 9 October 2005@10:59:41.
David Whitehead (more keywords) on 20 November 2005@10:37:08.
Jennifer Benedict (added link) on 26 March 2008@00:30:36.
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 22 December 2011@06:16:09.
David Whitehead (updated a ref) on 29 July 2014@12:23:59.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 1 January 2015@23:51:52.
Catharine Roth (tweaked link) on 17 February 2018@23:14:40.

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