Xenophon. The Sportsman

Translation by H. G. Dakyns

This etext was prepared by John Bickers, jbickers@templar.actrix.gen.nz

Xenophon the Athenian was born 431 B.C. He was a pupil of Socrates. He marched with the Spartans, and was exiled from Athens. Sparta gave him land and property in Scillus, where he lived for many years before having to move once more, to settle in Corinth. He died in 354 B.C.

The Sportsman is a manual on hunting hares, deer and wild boar, including the topics of dogs, and the benefits of hunting for the young.

ON HUNTING A Sportsman's Manual

Commonly Called



To the gods themselves is due the discovery, to Apollo and Artemis, patrons of the chase and protectors of the hound.[1] As a guerdon they bestowed it upon Cheiron,[2] by reason of his uprightness, and he took it and was glad, and turned the gift to good account. At his feet sat many a disciple, to whom he taught the mystery of hunting and of chivalry[3]-to wit, Cephalus, Asclepius, Melanion, Nestor, Amphiaraus, Peleus, Telamon, Meleager, Theseus and Hippolytus, Palamedes, Odysseus, Menestheus, Diomed, Castor and Polydeuces, Machaon and Podaleirius, Antilochus, Aeneas and Achilles: of whom each in his turn was honoured by the gods. And let none marvel that of these the greater part, albeit well-pleasing to the gods, nevertheless were subject to death-which is the way of nature,[4] but their fame has grown-nor yet that their prime of manhood so far differed. The lifetime of Cheiron sufficed for all his scholars; the fact being that Zeus and Cheiron were brethren, sons of the same father but of different mothers-Zeus of Rhea, and Cheiron of the nymph Nais;[5] and so it is that, though older than all of them, he died not before he had taught the youngest-to wit, the boy Achilles.[6]

[1] Or, 'This thing is the invention of no mortal man, but of Apollo

and Artemis, to whom belong hunting and dogs.' For the style of

exordium L. Dind. cf (Ps.) Dion. 'Art. rhet.' ad in.; Galen,

'Isagog.' ad in.; Alex. Aphrodis. 'Probl.' 2 proem.

[2] The wisest and 'justest of all the centaurs,' Hom. 'Il.' xi. 831.

See Kingsley, 'The Heroes,' p. 84.

[3] Or, 'the discipline of the hunting field and other noble lore.'

[4] Lit. 'since that is nature, but the praise of them grew greatly.'

[5] According to others, Philyra. Pind. 'Pyth.' iii. 1, {ethelon

Kheirona ke Philuridan}; cf. 'Pyth.' vi. 22; 'Nem.' iii. 43.

[6] See Paus. iii. 18. 12.

Thanks to the careful heed they paid to dogs and things pertaining to the chase, thanks also to the other training of their boyhood, all these greatly excelled, and on the score of virtue were admired.

If Cephalus was caught into the arms of one that was a goddess,[7] Asclepius[8] obtained yet greater honour. To him it was given to raise the dead and to heal the sick, whereby,[9] even as a god among mortal men, he has obtained to himself imperishable glory. Melanion[10] so far excelled in zest for toil that he alone of all that flower of chivalry who were his rivals[11] obtained the prize of noblest wedlock with Atalanta; while as to Nestor, what need to repeat the well-known tale? so far and wide for many a day has the fame of his virtue penetrated the ears of Hellas.[12]

[7] Hemera (al. Eos). For the rape of Cephalus see Hes. 'Theog.' 986;

Eur. 'Ion,' 269; Paus. i. 3. 1; iii. 18. 7.

[8] Lat. Aesculapius. Father of Podaleirius and Machaon, 'the noble

leech,' 'Il.' ii. 731, iv. 194, 219, xi. 518; 'Od.' iv. 232.

[9] Cf. 'Anab.' I. ii. 8; Lincke, 'z. Xen. Krit.' p. 299.

[10] Melanion, s. Meilanion, Paus. iii. 12. 9; v. 17. 10; v. 19. 1.

[11] 'Which were his rival suitors.' As to Atalanta see Paus. viii.

45. 2; iii. 24. 2; v. 19. 2; Grote, 'H. G.' i. 199 foll.

[12] Lit. 'the virtue of Nestor has so far penetrated the ears of

Hellas that I should speak to those who know.' See Hom. 'Il.' i.

247, and passim.

Amphiaraus,[13] what time he served as a warrior against Thebes, won for himself the highest praise; and from heaven obtained the honour of a deathless life.[14]

[13] Amphiaraus. Pind. 'Nem.' ix. 13-27; 'Olymp.' vi. 11-16; Herod. i.

52; Paus. ix. 8. 2; 18. 2-4; ii. 23.2; i. 34; Liv. xlv. 27; Cic.

'de Div.' i. 40. See Aesch. 'Sept. c. Th.' 392; Eur. 'Phoen.' 1122

foll.; Apollod. iii. 6; Strab. ix. 399, 404.

[14] Lit. 'to be honoured ever living.'

Peleus kindled in the gods desire to give him Thetis, and to hymn their nuptials at the board of Cheiron.[15]

[15] For the marriage of Peleus and Thetis see Hom. 'Il.' xxiv. 61;

cf. Pope's rendering:

To grace those nuptials from the bright abode Yourselves were present; when this minstrel god (Well pleased to share the feast) amid the quire Stood proud to hymn, and tune his youthful lyre ('Homer's Il.' xxiv.)

Prof. Robinson Ellis ('Comment on Catull.' lxiv.) cites numerous

passages: Eur. 'I. in T.' 701 foll., 1036 foll.; Pind. 'Isthm.' v.

24; 'Pyth.' iii. 87-96; Isocr. 'Evag.' 192. 6; Apoll. Rh. iv. 791;

'Il.' xxiv. 61; Hes. 'Theog.' 1006, and 'Epithal.' (ap. Tsetz,

'Prol. ad Lycophr.):

{tris makar Aiakide kai tetrakis olbie Peleu os toisd' en megarois ieron lekhos eisanabaineis}.

The mighty Telamon[16] won from the greatest of all states and wedded her whom he desired, Periboea the daughter of Alcathus;[17] and when the first of Hellenes,[18] Heracles[19] the son of Zeus, distributed rewards of valour after taking Troy, to Telamon he gave Hesione.[20]

[16] See 'Il.' viii. 283l Paus. i. 42. 1-4.

[17] Or Alcathous, who rebuilt the walls of Megara by Apollo's aid.

Ov. 'Met.' viii. 15 foll.

[18] Reading {o protos}; or if with L. D. {tois protois}, 'what time

Heracles was distributing to the heroes of Hellas (lit. the first

of the Hellenes) prizes of valour, to Telamon he gave.'

[19] See Hom. 'Il.' v. 640; Strab. xiii. 595.

[20] See Diod. iv. 32; i. 42.

Of Meleager[21] be it said, whereas the honours which he won are manifest, the misfortunes on which he fell, when his father[22] in old age forgot the goddess, were not of his own causing.[23]

[21] For the legend of Meleager see 'Il.' ix. 524-599, dramatised by

both Sophocles and Euripides, and in our day by Swinburne,

'Atalanta in Calydon.' Cf. Paus. iii. 8. 9; viii. 54. 4; Ov.

'Met.' viii. 300; Grote, 'H. G.' i. 195.

[22] i.e. Oeneus. 'Il.' ix. 535.

[23] Or, 'may not be laid to his charge.'

Theseus[24] single-handed destroyed the enemies of collective Hellas; and in that he greatly enlarged the boundaries of his fatherland, is still to-day the wonder of mankind.[25]

[24] See 'Mem.' II. i. 14; III. v. 10; cf. Isocr. 'Phil.' 111; Plut.

'Thes.' x. foll.; Diod. iv. 59; Ov. 'Met.' vii. 433.

[25] Or, 'is held in admiration still to-day.' See Thuc. ii. 15;

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