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Clement of Alexandria - Book VI

Chapter II.—The Subject of Plagiarisms Resumed. The Greeks Plagiarized from One Another.

Chapter II.--The Subject of Plagiarisms Resumed. The Greeks Plagiarized from One Another.

Before handling the point proposed, we must, by way of preface, add to the close of the fifth book what is wanting. For since we have shown that the symbolical style was ancient, and was employed not only by our prophets, but also by the majority of the ancient Greeks, and by not a few of the rest of the Gentile Barbarians, it was requisite to proceed to the mysteries of the initiated. I postpone the elucidation of these till we advance to the confutation of what is said by the Greeks on first principles; for we shall show that the mysteries belong to the same branch of speculation. And having proved that the declaration of Hellenic thought is illuminated all round by the truth, bestowed on us in the Scriptures, taking it according to the sense, we have proved, not to say what is invidious, that the theft of the truth passed to them.

Come, and let us adduce the Greeks as witnesses against themselves to the theft. For, inasmuch as they pilfer from one another, they establish the fact that they are thieves; and although against their will, they are detected, clandestinely appropriating to those of their own race the truth which belongs to us. For if they do not keep their hands from each other, they will hardly do it from our authors. I shall say nothing of philosophic dogmas, since the very persons who are the authors of the divisions into sects, confess in writing, so as not to be convicted of ingratitude, that they have received from Socrates the most important of their dogmas. But after availing myself of a few testimonies of men most talked of, and of repute among the Greeks, and exposing their plagiarizing style, and selecting them from various periods, I shall turn to what follows.

Orpheus, then, having composed the line:--

"Since nothing else is more shameless and wretched than woman,"

Homer plainly says:--

"Since nothing else is more dreadful and shameless than a woman." [3198]

And Musæus having written:--

"Since art is greatly superior to strength,"--

Homer says:--

"By art rather than strength is the woodcutter greatly superior." [3199]

Again, Musæus having composed the lines:--

"And as the fruitful field produceth leaves,

And on the ash trees some fade, others grow,

So whirls the race of man its leaf," [3200] --

Homer transcribes:--

"Some of the leaves the wind strews on the ground.

The budding wood bears some; in time of spring,

They come. So springs one race of men, and one departs." [3201]

Again, Homer having said:--

"It is unholy to exult over dead men," [3202]

Archilochus and Cratinus write, the former:--

"It is not noble at dead men to sneer;"

and Cratinus in the Lacones:--

"For men 'tis dreadful to exult

Much o'er the stalwart dead."

Again, Archilochus, transferring that Homeric line:--

"I erred, nor say I nay: instead of many" [3203] --

writes thus:--

"I erred, and this mischief hath somehow seized another."

As certainly also that line:--

"Even-handed [3204] war the slayer slays." [3205]

He also, altering, has given forth thus:--

"I will do it.

For Mars to men in truth is evenhanded." [3206]

Also, translating the following:--

"The issues of victory among men depend on the gods," [3207]

he openly encourages youth, in the following iambic:--

"Victory's issues on the gods depend."

Again, Homer having said:--

"With feet unwashed sleeping on the ground," [3208]

Euripides writes in Erechtheus:--

"Upon the plain spread with no couch they sleep,

Nor in the streams of water lave their feet."

Archilochus having likewise said:--

"But one with this and one with that

His heart delights,"--

in correspondence with the Homeric line:--

"For one in these deeds, one in those delights," [3209] --

Euripides says in OEneus:--

"But one in these ways, one in those, has more delight."

And I have heard Æschylus saying:--

"He who is happy ought to stay at home;

There should he also stay, who speeds not well."

And Euripides, too, shouting the like on the stage:--

"Happy the man who, prosperous, stays at home."

Menander, too, on comedy, saying:--

"He ought at home to stay, and free remain,

Or be no longer rightly happy."

Again, Theognis having said:--

"The exile has no comrade dear and true,"--

Euripides has written:--

"Far from the poor flies every friend."

And Epicharmus, saying:--

"Daughter, woe worth the day!

Thee who art old I marry to a youth;" [3210]

and adding:--

"For the young husband takes some other girl,

And for another husband longs the wife,"--

Euripides [3211] writes:--

"'Tis bad to yoke an old wife to a youth;

For he desires to share another's bed,

And she, by him deserted, mischief plots."

Euripides having, besides, said in the Medea:--

"For no good do a bad man's gifts,"--

Sophocles in Ajax Flagellifer utters this iambic:--

"For foes' gifts are no gifts, nor any boon." [3212]

Solon having written:--

"For surfeit insolence begets,

When store of wealth attends."

Theognis writes in the same way:--

"For surfeit insolence begets,

When store of wealth attends the bad."

Whence also Thucydides, in the Histories, says: "Many men, to whom in a great degree, and in a short time, unlooked-for prosperity comes, are wont to turn to insolence." And Philistus [3213] likewise imitates the same sentiment, expressing himself thus: "And the many things which turn out prosperously to men, in accordance with reason, have an incredibly dangerous [3214] tendency to misfortune. For those who meet with unlooked success beyond their expectations, are for the most part wont to turn to insolence." Again, Euripides having written:--

"For children sprung of parents who have led

A hard and toilsome life, superior are;"

Critias writes: "For I begin with a man's origin: how far the best and strongest in body will he be, if his father exercises himself, and eats in a hardy way, and subjects his body to toilsome labour; and if the mother of the future child be strong in body, and give herself exercise."

Again, Homer having said of the Hephæstus-made shield:--

"Upon it earth and heaven and sea he made,

And Ocean's rivers' mighty strength portrayed,"

Pherecydes of Syros says:--"Zas makes a cloak large and beautiful, and works on it earth and Ogenus, and the palace of Ogenus."

And Homer having said:--

"Shame, which greatly hurts a man or helps," [3215] --

Euripides writes in Erechtheus:--

"Of shame I find it hard to judge;

'Tis needed. 'Tis at times a great mischief."

Take, by way of parallel, such plagiarisms as the following, from those who flourished together, and were rivals of each other. From the Orestes of Euripides:--

"Dear charm of sleep, aid in disease."

From the Eriphyle of Sophocles:--

"Hie thee to sleep, healer of that disease."

And from the Antigone of Sophocles:--

"Bastardy is opprobrious in name; but the nature is equal;" [3216]

And from the Aleuades of Sophocles:--

"Each good thing has its nature equal."

Again, in the Ctimenus [3217] of Euripides:--

"For him who toils, God helps;"

And in the Minos of Sophocles;

"To those who act not, fortune is no ally;"

And from the Alexander of Euripides:--

"But time will show; and learning, by that test,

I shall know whether thou art good or bad;"

And from the Hipponos of Sophocles:--

"Besides, conceal thou nought; since Time,

That sees all, hears all, all things will unfold."

But let us similarly run over the following; for Eumelus having composed the line,

"Of Memory and Olympian Zeus the daughters nine,"

Solon thus begins the elegy:--

"Of Memory and Olympian Zeus the children bright."

Again, Euripides, paraphrasing the Homeric line:--

"What, whence art thou? Thy city and thy parents, where?" [3218]

employs the following iambics in Ægeus:--

"What country shall we say that thou hast left

To roam in exile, what thy land--the bound

Of thine own native soil? Who thee begat?

And of what father dost thou call thyself the son?"

And what? Theognis [3219] having said:--

"Wine largely drunk is bad; but if one use

It with discretion, 'tis not bad, but good,"--

does not Panyasis write?

"Above the gods' best gift to men ranks wine,

In measure drunk; but in excess the worst."

Hesiod, too, saying:--

"But for the fire to thee I'll give a plague, [3220]

For all men to delight themselves withal,"--

Euripides writes:--

"And for the fire

Another fire greater and unconquerable,

Sprung up in the shape of women" [3221]

And in addition, Homer, saying:--

"There is no satiating the greedy paunch,

Baneful, which many plagues has caused to men." [3222]

Euripides says:--

"Dire need and baneful paunch me overcome;

From which all evils come."

Besides, Callias the comic poet having written:--

"With madmen, all men must be mad, they say,"--

Menander, in the Poloumenoi, expresses himself similarly, saying:--

"The presence of wisdom is not always suitable:

One sometimes must with others play [3223] the fool."

And Antimachus of Teos having said:--

"From gifts, to mortals many ills arise,"--

Augias composed the line:--

"For gifts men's mind and acts deceive."

And Hesiod having said:--

"Than a good wife, no man a better thing

Ere gained; than a bad wife, a worse,"--

Simonides said:--

"A better prize than a good wife no man

Ere gained, than a bad one nought worse."

Again, Epicharmas having said:--

"As destined long to live, and yet not long,

Think of thyself."--

Euripides writes:--

"Why? seeing the wealth we have uncertain is,

Why don't we live as free from care, as pleasant

As we may?"

Similarly also, the comic poet Diphilus having said:--

"The life of men is prone to change,"--

Posidippus says:--

"No man of mortal mould his life has passed

From suffering free. Nor to the end again

Has continued prosperous."

Similarly [3224] speaks to thee Plato, writing of man as a creature subject to change. Again, Euripides having said:--

"Oh life to mortal men of trouble full,

How slippery in everything art thou!

Now grow'st thou, and thou now decay'st away.

And there is set no limit, no, not one,

For mortals of their course to make an end,

Except when Death's remorseless final end

Comes, sent from Zeus,"--

Diphilus writes:--

"There is no life which has not its own ills,

Pains, cares, thefts, and anxieties, disease;

And Death, as a physician, coming, gives

Rest to their victims in his quiet sleep." [3225]

Furthermore, Euripides having said:--

"Many are fortune's shapes,

And many things contrary to expectation the gods perform,"--

The tragic poet Theodectes similarly writes:--

"The instability of mortals' fates."

And Bacchylides having said:--

"To few [3226] alone of mortals is it given

To reach hoary age, being prosperous all the while,

And not meet with calamities,"--

Moschion, the comic poet, writes:--

"But he of all men is most blest,

Who leads throughout an equal life."

And you will find that, Theognis having said:--

"For no advantage to a man grown old

A young wife is, who will not, as a ship

The helm, obey,"--

Aristophanes, the comic poet, writes:--

"An old man to a young wife suits but ill."

For Anacreon, having written:--

"Luxurious love I sing,

With flowery garlands graced,

He is of gods the king,

He mortal men subdues,--

Euripides writes:--

"For love not only men attacks,

And women; but disturbs

The souls of gods above, and to the sea


But not to protract the discourse further, in our anxiety to show the propensity of the Greeks to plagiarism in expressions and dogmas, allow us to adduce the express testimony of Hippias, the sophist of Elea, who discourses on the point in hand, and speaks thus: "Of these things some perchance are said by Orpheus, some briefly by Musæus; some in one place, others in other places; some by Hesiod, some by Homer, some by the rest of the poets; and some in prose compositions, some by Greeks, some by Barbarians. And I from all these, placing together the things of most importance and of kindred character, will make the present discourse new and varied."

And in order that we may see that philosophy and history, and even rhetoric, are not free of a like reproach, it is right to adduce a few instances from them. For Alcmæon of Crotona having said, "It is easier to guard against a man who is an enemy than a friend," Sophocles wrote in the Antigone:--

"For what sore more grievous than a bad friend?"

And Xenophon said: "No man can injure enemies in any way other than by appearing to be a friend."

And Euripides having said in Telephus:--

"Shall we Greeks be slaves to Barbarians?"--

Thrasymachus, in the oration for the Larissæans, says: "Shall we be slaves to Archelaus--Greeks to a Barbarian?"

And Orpheus having said:--

"Water is the change for soul, and death for water;

From water is earth, and what comes from earth is again water,

And from that, soul, which changes the whole ether;"

and Heraclitus, putting together the expressions from these lines, writes thus:--

"It is death for souls to become water, and death for

water to become earth; and from earth comes water,

and from water soul."

And Athamas the Pythagorean having said, "Thus was produced the beginning of the universe; and there are four roots--fire, water, air, earth: for from these is the origination of what is produced,"--Empedocles of Agrigentum wrote:--

"The four roots of all things first do thou hear--

Fire, water, earth, and ether's boundless height:

For of these all that was, is, shall be, comes."

And Plato having said, "Wherefore also the gods, knowing men, release sooner from life those they value most," Menander wrote:--

"Whom the gods love, dies young."

And Euripides having written in the OEnomaus:--

"We judge of things obscure from what we see;"

and in the Phoenix:--

"By signs the obscure is fairly grasped,"--

Hyperides says, "But we must investigate things unseen by learning from signs and probabilities." And Isocrates having said, "We must conjecture the future by the past," Andocides does not shrink from saying, "For we must make use of what has happened previously as signs in reference to what is to be." Besides, Theognis having said:--

"The evil of counterfeit silver and gold is not intolerable,

O Cyrnus, and to a wise man is not difficult of detection;

But if the mind of a friend is hidden in his breast,

If he is false, [3227] and has a treacherous heart within,

This is the basest thing for mortals, caused by God,

And of all things the hardest to detect,"--

Euripides writes:--

"Oh Zeus, why hast thou given to men clear tests

Of spurious gold, while on the body grows

No mark sufficing to discover clear

The wicked man?"

Hyperides himself also says, "There is no feature of the mind impressed on the countenance of men."

Again, Stasinus having composed the line:--

"Fool, who, having slain the father, leaves the children,"--

Xenophon [3228] says, "For I seem to myself to have acted in like manner, as if one who killed the father should spare his children." And Sophocles having written in the Antigone:--

"Mother and father being in Hades now,

No brother ever can to me spring forth,"--

Herodotus says, "Mother and father being no more, I shall not have another brother." In addition to these, Theopompus having written:--

"Twice children are old men in very truth;"

And before him Sophocles in Peleus:--

"Peleus, the son of Æacus, I, sole housekeeper,

Guide, old as he is now, and train again,

For the aged man is once again a child,"--

Antipho the orator says, "For the nursing of the old is like the nursing of children." Also the philosopher Plato says, "The old man then, as seems, will be twice a child." Further, Thucydides having said, "We alone bore the brunt at Marathon," [3229] --Demosthenes said, "By those who bore the brunt at Marathon." Nor will I omit the following. Cratinus having said in the Pytine: [3230] --

"The preparation perchance you know,"

Andocides the orator says, "The preparation, gentlemen of the jury, and the eagerness of our enemies, almost all of you know." Similarly also Nicias, in the speech on the deposit, against Lysias, says, "The preparation and the eagerness of the adversaries, ye see, O gentlemen of the jury." After him Æschines says, "You see the preparation, O men of Athens, and the line of battle." Again, Demosthenes having said, "What zeal and what canvassing, O men of Athens, have been employed in this contest, I think almost all of you are aware;" and Philinus similarly, "What zeal, what forming of the line of battle, gentlemen of the jury, have taken place in this contest, I think not one of you is ignorant." Isocrates, again, having said, "As if she were related to his wealth, not him," Lysias says in the Orphics, "And he was plainly related not to the persons, but to the money." Since Homer also having written:--

"O friend, if in this war, by taking flight,

We should from age and death exemption win,

I would not fight among the first myself,

Nor would I send thee to the glorious fray;

But now--for myriad fates of death attend

In any case, which man may not escape

Or shun--come on. To some one we shall bring

Renown, or some one shall to us," [3231] --

Theopompus writes, "For if, by avoiding the present danger, we were to pass the rest of our time in security, to show love of life would not be wonderful. But now, so many fatalities are incident to life, that death in battle seems preferable." And what? Child the sophist having uttered the apophthegm, "Become surety, and mischief is at hand," did not Epicharmus utter the same sentiment in other terms, when he said, "Suretyship is the daughter of mischief, and loss that of suretyship?" [3232] Further, Hippocrates the physician having written, "You must look to time, and locality, and age, and disease," Euripides says in Hexameters: [3233] --

"Those who the healing art would practice well,

Must study people's modes of life, and note

The soil, and the diseases so consider."

Homer again, having written:--

"I say no mortal man can doom escape,"--

Archinus says, "All men are bound to die either sooner or later;" and Demosthenes, "To all men death is the end of life, though one should keep himself shut up in a coop."

And Herodotus, again, having said, in his discourse about Glaucus the Spartan, that the Pythian said, "In the case of the Deity, to say and to do are equivalent," Aristophanes said:--

"For to think and to do are equivalent."

And before him, Parmenides of Elea said:--

"For thinking and being are the same."

And Plato having said, "And we shall show, not absurdly perhaps, that the beginning of love is sight; and hope diminishes the passion, memory nourishes it, and intercourse preserves it;" does not Philemon the comic poet write:--

"First all see, then admire;

Then gaze, then come to hope;

And thus arises love?"

Further, Demosthenes having said, "For to all of us death is a debt," and so forth, Phanocles writes in Loves, or The Beautiful:--

"But from the Fates' unbroken thread escape

Is none for those that feed on earth."

You will also find that Plato having said, "For the first sprout of each plant, having got a fair start, according to the virtue of its own nature, is most powerful in inducing the appropriate end;" the historian writes, "Further, it is not natural for one of the wild plants to become cultivated, after they have passed the earlier period of growth;" and the following of Empedocles:--

"For I already have been boy and girl,

And bush, and bird, and mute fish in the sea,"--

Euripides transcribes in Chrysippus:--

"But nothing dies

Of things that are; but being dissolved,

One from the other,

Shows another form."

And Plato having said, in the Republic, that women were common, Euripides writes in the Protesilaus:--

"For common, then, is woman's bed."

Further, Euripides having written:--

"For to the temperate enough sufficient is"--

Epicurus expressly says, "Sufficiency is the greatest riches of all."

Again, Aristophanes having written:--

"Life thou securely shalt enjoy, being just

And free from turmoil, and from fear live well,"--

Epicurus says, "The greatest fruit of righteousness is tranquillity."

Let these species, then, of Greek plagiarism of sentiments, being such, stand as sufficient for a clear specimen to him who is capable of perceiving.

And not only have they been detected pirating and paraphrasing thoughts and expressions, as will be shown; but they will also be convicted of the possession of what is entirely stolen. For stealing entirely what is the production of others, they have published it as their own; as Eugamon of Cyrene did the entire book on the Thesprotians from Musæus, and Pisander of Camirus the Heraclea of Pisinus of Lindus, and Panyasis of Halicarnassus, the capture of OEchalia from Cleophilus of Samos.

You will also find that Homer, the great poet, took from Orpheus, from the Disappearance of Dionysus, those words and what follows verbatim:--

"As a man trains a luxuriant shoot of olive." [3234]

And in the Theogony, it is said by Orpheus of Kronos:--

"He lay, his thick neck bent aside; and him

All-conquering Sleep had seized."

These Homer transferrred to the Cyclops. [3235] And Hesiod writes of Melampous:--

"Gladly to hear, what the immortals have assigned

To men, the brave from cowards clearly marks;"

and so forth, taking it word for word from the poet Musæus.

And Aristophanes the comic poet has, in the first of the Thesmophoriazusæ, transferred the words from the Empiprameni of Cratinus. And Plato the comic poet, and Aristophanes in Dædalus, steal from one another. Cocalus, composed by Araros, [3236] the son of Aristophanes, was by the comic poet Philemon altered, and made into the comedy called Hypobolimoens.

Eumelus and Acusilaus the historiographers changed the contents of Hesiod into prose, and published them as their own. Gorgias of Leontium and Eudemus of Naxus, the historians, stole from Melesagoras. And, besides, there is Bion of Proconnesus, who epitomized and transcribed the writings of the ancient Cadmus, and Archilochus, and Aristotle, and Leandrus, and Hellanicus, and Hecatæus, and Androtion, and Philochorus. Dieuchidas of Megara transferred the beginning of his treatise from the Deucalion of Hellanicus. I pass over in silence Heraclitus of Ephesus, who took a very great deal from Orpheus.

From Pythagoras Plato derived the immortality of the soul; and he from the Egyptians. And many of the Platonists composed books, in which they show that the Stoics, as we said in the beginning, and Aristotle, took the most and principal of their dogmas from Plato. Epicurus also pilfered his leading dogmas from Democritus. Let these things then be so. For life would fail me, were I to undertake to go over the subject in detail, to expose the selfish plagiarism of the Greeks, and how they claim the discovery of the best of their doctrines, which they have received from us.