On Hunting


Xenophon, creator; Scripta Minora; Marchant, E. C. (Edgar Cardew), 1864-1960, editor, translator; Bowersock, G. W, (Glen Warren), 1936-, editor, translator

Game and hounds are the invention of gods, of Apollo and Artemis. They bestowed it on Cheiron and honoured him therewith for his righteousness. And he, receiving it, rejoiced in the gift, and used it.

And he had for pupils in venery and in other noble pursuits—Cephalus, Asclepius, Meilanion, Nestor, Amphiaraus, Peleus, Telamon, Meleager, Theseus, Hippolytus, Palamedes, Odysseus, Menestheus, Diomedes, Castor, Polydeuces, Machaon, Podaleirius, Antilochus, Aeneas, Achilles, of whom each in his time was honoured by gods.

Let no man marvel that the more part of these, even though they pleased gods, died none the less; for that was nature’s work; but the praise of them grew mightily;—nor yet that not all of these flourished at one time. For Cheiron’s lifetime sufficed for all.

For Zeus and Cheiron were brethren, sons of one sire, but the mother of the one was Rhea, of the other the nymph Nais: and so, though he was born before these, he died after them, for he taught Achilles.

Through the heed they paid to hounds and hunting and the rest of their scholarship they excelled greatly and were admired for their virtue. Cephalus was carried away by a goddess.[*](Aurora.)

Asclepius won yet,[*](The κὰι before ὑπὸ in the text should probably be placed before μειζόνων.) greater preferment—to raise the dead, to heal the sick; and for these things he has everlasting fame as a god among men.

Meilanion was so peerless in love of toil that, though the princeliest of that age were his rival suitors for the greatest Lady of the time, only he won Atalanta. Nestor’s virtue is an old familiar tale to Greek ears; so there is no need for me to tell of it.

Amphiaraus when he fought against Thebes, gained great praise and won from the gods the honour of immortality. Peleus stirred a desire even in the gods to give him Thetis and to hymn their marriage in Cheiron’s home.

Telamon waxed so mighty that he wedded from the greatest city the maiden of his choice, Periboea, daughter of Alcathus: and when the first of the Greeks, Heracles son of Zeus, distributed the prizes of valour after taking Troy, to him he gave Hesione/.

As for Meleager, the honours that he won are manifest; and it was not by his own fault that he came to sorrow when his father in old age forgot the goddess.[*](i.e., when his father Oeneus forgot Artemis,—a lapse which led ultimately to the death of Meleager.) Theseus single-handed slew the enemies of all Greece; and because he enlarged greatly the borders of his country he is admired to this day.

Hippolytus was honoured by Artemis and held converse with her; and for his prudence and holiness he was counted happy when he died. Palamedes far outstripped the men of his generation in wisdom while he lived; and being unjustly slain he won from the gods such vengeance as fell to the lot of no other mortal. But his end was not compassed by those[*](Odysseus and Diomedes, who, according to one account, drowned Palamedes when he was fishing. The reference here may be to this version. In Memorabilia 4.2.4 X. follows the commoner version that Odysseus got P. put to death by a false charge of treachery; and in the Odyssey attributed to the rhetorician Alcidamus, Diomedes and Sthenelus are associated with Odysseus in bringing this charge. In revenge for his death his father Nauplius caused the shipwreck of the Greek fleet off the south of Euboea.) whom some imagine, else could not the one of them have been well-nigh the best, and the other the peer of the good; but bad men did the deed.

Menestheus through the heed he paid to hunting, so far surpassed others in love of toil that the first of the Greeks confessed themselves his inferiors in feats of war, all save Nestor; and he, it is said,[*](In Iliad 2.555.) outdid not, but rivalled him.

Odysseus and Diomedes were brilliant in every single deed, and in short, to them was due the capture of Troy. Castor and Polydeuces, through the renown that they won by displaying in Greece the arts they learned of Cheiron, are immortal.

Machaon and Podaleirius, schooled in all the selfsame arts, proved in crafts and reasonings and wars good men. Antilochus, by giving his life for his father,[*](How Antilochus, son of Nestor, saved his father’s life is told by Pindar in the sixth Pythian.) won such glory that he alone was proclaimed among the Greeks as the Devoted Son.

Aeneas saved the gods of his father’s and his mother’s family, and withal his father himself; wherefore he bore away fame for his piety, so that to him alone among all the vanquished at Troy even the enemy granted not to be despoiled.

Achilles, nursed in this schooling, bequeathed to posterity memorials so great and glorious that no man wearies of telling and hearing of him.

These, whom the good love even to this day and the evil envy, were made so perfect through the care they learned of Cheiron that, when troubles fell upon any state or any king in Greece, they were composed through their influence; or if all Greece was at strife or at war with all the Barbarian powers, these brought victory to the Greeks, so that they made Greece invincible.

Therefore I charge the young not to despise hunting or any other schooling. For these are the means by which men become good in war and in all things out of which must come excellence in thought and word and deed.