The Pharmakos Ritual:


Collected by Todd M. Compton as background for Victim of the Muses: Poet as Scapegoat, Warrior, and Hero in Greco-Roman and Indo-European Myth And History (Washington DC: Center for Hellenic Studies 2006).


The pharmakos ritual has been vigorously debated by historians and critics. I include references that some critics have linked to the pharmakos, but which other critics dispute. The reader may judge for himself, and read the arguments of the secondary sources listed at the end of this section.


For example, I include testimonia on the “Lover’s Leap” rite at Leucas — see the locus classicus at Strabo, below, along with the list of leapers at Ptolemaeus Chennus / Photius, and references at Stesichorus, Anacreon and Euripides. Many scholars link this with the pharmakos complex, while others do not.


Some link ostracism to the pharmakos rite, but I have not included references on ostracism here. See J.-P. Vernant, “Ambiguity and Reversal: On the Enigmatic Structure of Oedipus Rex,” in Tragedy and Myth in Ancient Greece (ed. J.-P. Vernant and P. Vidal-Naquet, translated by J. Lloyd), 87–119, 205n66; Walter Burkert Greek Religion, trans. J. Raffan (Cambridge, MA 1985), 83; J. Ranulf, Jealousy of the Gods and Criminal Law at Athens (London 1933), 132–141; David Rosenbloom,  “From Ponēros to Pharmakos: Theater, Social Drama, and Revolution in Athens, 428–404 BCE,” Classical Antiquity 21 (2002): 283–346, 332. For an online introduction to ostracism, see a collection of important texts at “Ostracism at Athens,” by  John Paul Adams,


I believe I include all the testimonia found in Viktor Gebhard, “Die Pharmakoi in Ionien und die Sybacchoi in Athen.” Diss. Amberg 1926.


1.     Hipponax 5–10W/26–30Dg; 6Dg = Tzetzes Chiliads 5.728ff.

πόλιν καθαίρειν καὶ κράδηισι βάλλεσθαι.


βάλλοντες ἐν χειμῶνι καὶ ῥαπίζοντες

κράδηισι καὶ σκίλληισιν ὥσπερ φαρμακόν.


δεῖ δ’ αὐτὸν ἐς φάρμακον ἐκποιήσασθαι.


κἀφῆι παρέξειν ἰσχάδας τε καὶ μᾶζαν

καὶ τυρόν, οἷον ἐσθίουσι φαρμακοί.


πάλαι γὰρ αὐτοὺς προσδέκονται χάσκοντες

κράδας ἔχοντες ὡς ἔχουσι φαρμακοῖς.


λιμῶι γένηται ξηρός·  ἐν δὲ τῶι θύμωι

φαρμακὸς ἀχθεὶς ἑπτάκις ῥαπισθείη.


Must cleanse the city, and with twigs pelted.


Pelting him in the meadow[1] and beating

With twigs[2] and squills like a scapegoat [pharmakon].


He must be chosen from amoung you [ekpoiēsasthai] as a scapegoat.


And in his grip take barley-cakes, dried figs

And cheese, such cheese as scapegoats may feed on.


For long have they awaited them gaping

armed with fig-branches like they have for scapegoats.[3]


That he be parched with famine and, led out

A scapegoat, seven times on his piece beaten.


[All text from Hipponax is taken from the edition of M. L. West. This poem is trans. by Knox (LCL), modified, except as noted. Hipponax lived in the 6th century BC.]

2.      Hipponax 37W/46Dg

ἐκέλευε βάλλειν καὶ λεύειν Ἱππώνακτα.


He ordered them to throw and cast stones at Hipponax.


[My trans.]

3.     Hipponax 41W = Etmyologicum Genuinum

καὶ νῦν ἀρειᾶι σύκινόν με ποιῆσαι,


It should be realized that areiō means ‘I threaten,’ as in Hipponax:


And now he threatens to make me a worthless fellow.


[Trans. West. Cf. Douglas E. Gerber, Greek Iambic Poets (Cambridge, MA 1999), LCL. Gerber writes, “sukinon is literally ‘of a fig tree,’ but is often glossed with asthenēs (“weak”), akhreios (‘useless’) etc. because of the poor quality of the wood. Without a context its precise significance cannot be determined here.”]

4.     Hipponax 65W/31Dg = Tzetzes Commentary on Iliad A 314

πρύμνης ἀπ’ ἄκρης ἐς θάλασσαν σπένδοντες


and they threw the offscourings [lumata] into the sea”

They poured into the sea the water used for washing. For it was the custom of those who went across the sea for a sacrifice to do so, as an offering, I suppose, to Poseidon or the sea, as Hipponax says:


pouring an offering from the tip of the stern into the sea


[Tr. Douglas E. Gerber, Greek Iambic Poets (Cambridge, MA 1999), LCL.]

5.     Hipponax 92W, lines 3-4

καί μοι τὸν ὄρχιν τῆς φαλ[

κ]ράδηι συνηλοίησεν ὥσπ[ερ φαρμακῶι


and my balls . . . she thrashed with a fig branch as though (I were a scapegoat) . . .


[Tr. Gerber, Greek Iambic Poets, 421-422. In a note he observes, “It seems that a Lydian woman is treating Hipponax (for impotence?, cf. fr. 78) by blows from a fig branch (cf. frr. 5-10) and by inserting something into his anus which causes him to defecate. Commentators compare Petronius 138, but the state of the papyrus leaves much in obscurity.”

6.     Hipponax 104W/107Dg

δ’ ἐξολισθὼν ἱκέτευε τὴν κράμβην

τὴν ἑπτάφυλλον, ἣν θύεσκε Πανδώρηι

Ταργηλίοισιν ἔγκυθρον πρὸ φαρμακοῦ.


Slipping, he implored the seven-leafed cabbage

he used to offer potted[4] to Pandora

at the Thargelia, before the scapegoat.


[Trans. West.]

7.     Hipponax 115W/194Dg

            κύμ[ατι] πλα[ζόμ]ενος·

κἀν Σαλμυδ[ησσ]ῶι γυμνὸν εὐφρονε . [

            Θρήϊκες ἀκρό[κ]ομοι

λάβοιεν—ἔνθα πόλλ’ ἀναπλήσαι κακὰ

            δούλιον ἄρτον ἔδων—

ῥίγει πεπηγότ’ αὐτόν·  ἐκ δὲ τοῦ χνόου

            φυκία πόλλ’ ἐπέχοι,

κροτέοι δ’ ὀδόντας, ὡς [κ]ύων ἐπὶ στόμα

            κείμενος ἀκρασίηι

ἄκρον παρὰ ῥηγμῖνα κυμα . . . . δου·

            ταῦτ’ ἐθέλοιμ’ ἂν ἰδεῖν,

ὅς μ’ ἠδίκησε, λ[ὰ]ξ δ’ ἐπ’ ὁρκίοις ἔβη,

            τὸ πρὶν ἑταῖρος [ἐ]ών.


            . . . beaten by the waves.

In Salmydessus let “well‑meaning”

            top‑knot Thracians

seize his naked body (he can get his fill of evil

            eating slavish bread)

rigid from cold! Let seaweed

            rise from scum and bind him!

Let him grind his teeth, lying

            spent and muzzle down,

dog‑fashion in the surf . . . !

            These things I long to see

because he wronged me [ēdikēse], walked upon his oaths [horkiois],

            who was once my friend [hetairos].


[Trans. Anne Pippin Burnett, Three Archaic Poets, Archilochus, Alcaeus, Sappho (London 1983), 100–101. The seashore death may link this to the pharmakos complex.]

8.      Hipponax 118E West

τρ[ιτα]ῖον ἐκ κήρυ[κο]ς·  ἀσμε[ν . .   δ]έ μιν

]ντες ἄσσον  [


αὐτοὺς ἐπὶ χρόνο[ν  . . . . . . . . ] ἕως τ[ὸ

σ]ῶμα ψύχηται·  νῦν δ[ὲ ἐ]πὶ ἄμμον θα-

λα]σσίαν ἐ[κ]βάλλουσι.  τρ[ιτα]ῖον ἐκ κήρυ-

κο]ς, ἀσμε[ν . .  δ]έ μιν”·  πρ[ . . ]   αὐτὰ τὰ ἀνδρ[ ]

        ] . [ . .   ἤν]εγκεν αὐτ[ὸ]ν τριταῖον

. . .

                      ἐγ]γὺς τῆς θα-

λάσσης           ]γωαιαοε


                      ] . .  πατὴρ

                      ] . ς διασκευ-

                      νεκρὸν ε-

                      ]αιωι ὀστέωι


on the third day at the hands of the herald (and?) gladly him . . .




. . . them for a time . . . until the body grows cold; and now they cast it forth on the sand of the sea. “On the third day at the hands of the herald [and?] gladly him.” (To?) the very . . . he [i.e., the herald?] brought him on the third day . . . also in the . . . at the hands of the herald . . . (dis)similar to the . . . near, they write . . . near the sea . . . they cast forth. . . father . . . corpse . . . bone . . . Aristophanes . . . common burial place(?) . . .


[Tr. Gerber, cf. Dennis D. Hughes, Human Sacrifice in Ancient Greece (London 1991), 146.]

9.     Hipponax 128W/126Dg

Μοῦσά μοι Εὐρυμεδοντιάδεα τὴν ποντοχάρυβδιν,

τὴν ἐν γαστρὶ μάχαιραν, ὃς ἐσθίει οὐ κατὰ κόσμον,

ἔννεφ’, ὅπως ψηφῖδι <κακῆι> κακὸν οἶτον ὀλεῖται

βουλῆι δημοσίηι παρὰ θῖν’ ἁλὸς ἀτρυγέτοιο.


Eurymedontiades his wife with knife in her belly,

Gulf of all food, sing Muse, and of all her disorderly eating:

Sing that by public vote at the side of the unharvested ocean

Pebbled with stones she may die, an evil death to the evil.


[Trans. Knox, modified]

10. Hipponax 152 / 203 Dg = Hesychius Lexicon s.v. kradēsitēs

κραδησίτης·  φαρμακός, ὁ ταῖς κράδαις βαλλόμενος.


kradēsitēs: scapegoat, one struck by fig branches.


[Trans. Gerber.]

11. Hipponax 153W /146Dg = “Plutarch” On Music 8.1133f and Hesychius Lexicon s.v. kradiēs nomos

καὶ ἄλλος δ’ ἐστὶν ἀρχαῖος νόμος καλούμενος Κραδίας, ὅν φησιν Ἱππῶναξ Μίμνερμον αὐλῆσαι. ἐν ἀρχῇ γὰρ ἐλεγεῖα μεμελοποιημένα οἱ αὐλῳδοὶ ᾖδον.


[“Plutarch”] And there is also another ancient melody called Cradias, which Hipponax says Mimnermus performed on the pipe. For in the beginning singers to the pipe sang elegies set to music.


κραδίης νόμος·  νόμον τινὰ ἐπαυλοῦσι τοῖς ἐκπεμπομένοις φαρμακοῖς, κράδαις καὶ θρίοις ἐπιραβδιζομένοις.


[Hesychius]: kradiēs nomos : a melody they pipe over those escorted out as scapegoats, whipped with fig branches and fig leaves.


[Trans. Gerber.]

12. Stesichorus (?) fr. 100 Page = Aristoxenus, FGH 2 F 72 = Athenaeus 14 (619d-e) =

ἐπεὶ δὲ ὑπερεῖδεν ὁ νεανίσκος, κατεκρήμνισεν ἑαυτήν. ἐγένετο δὲ τὸ πάθος περὶ Λευκάδα.


Aristoxenus, in the fourth book of his work On Music, says: “The women of old sang a song called Calycē. It was composed by Stesichorus, and in it a maiden named Calycē, in love with a young man, Euathlus, modestly prays to Aphroditē that she may be married to him. But when the young man treated her with despite, she flung herself over a cliff. The tragedy occurred at Leucas. The poet has represented the maiden’s character as altogether chaste, for she is unwilling to consort with the young man at all costs, but prays that she may, if she can, become the lawful wife of Euathlus, or, if that be not possible, that she may be released from life.”


[Trans. from Charles Burton Gulick, LCL of Athenaeus. Text from Denys Page, Poetae Melici Graeci; Alcmanis, Stesichori, Ibyci, Anacreontis, Simonidis, Corinnae, poetarum minorum reliquias, carmina popularia et convivialia quaeque adespota feruntur (Oxford 1962).]

ἦν δέ τις καὶ Καλύκη ὠιδή, Στησιχόρου ποίημα ἐπί τινι Καλύκηι κατακρημνισθείσηι δι’ ἔρωτα. καὶ Ἁρπαλύκη ἑτέρα ἐπὶ ὁμοίωι πάθει.

And there was a certain song called Calykē, a poem by Stesichorus about a certain Calykē who was thrown down a precipice for love. And Harpalukē was another who suffered a similar calamity.

[Eustathius On the Iliad 1236.61, quoted in Page, Poetae Melici Graecae, p. 137, at Stesichorus 100 (spuria), “Kalukē.” My trans. Stesichorus was active c. 600-550 BC. See on Aristoxenus and Eustathius, below. Page regards this fragment as spurious, but others argue for Stesichorean authorship. See David A. Campbell, Greek Lyric III (Cambridge, MA 1991), p. 193 n. 1, who cites H. J. Rose C.Q. 26 (1932) 92 (against Stesichorean authorship) and L. Lehnus, S.C.O. 24 (1975) 191ff. (for Stesichorean authorship). If Stesichorus did write a poem Kalukē, it is our first reference to the Lover’s Leap at Leucas. ]

13. Anacreon fr. 31 (376) = Hephaest. de poem. 7.2, p. 71 Consbr.

ἀρθεὶς δηὖτ’ ἀπὸ Λευκάδος
πέτρης ἐς πολιὸν κῦμα κολυμβῶ μεθύων έρωτι.

See, once again I climb up and dive from the Leucadian cliff into the grey waves, drunk with love.

[Trans. David A. Campbell, Greek Lyric II (Cambridge, MA 1988), LCL. Text from Denys Page, Poetae Melici Graeci; Alcmanis, Stesichori, Ibyci, Anacreontis, Simonidis, Corinnae, poetarum minorum reliquias, carmina popularia et convivialia quaeque adespota feruntur (Oxford 1962). See Strabo Geography 10.2.9, below. Anacreon lived toward the end of the 6th century BC. If the Stesichorus reference is spurious, this is our first reference to the Lover’s Leap at Leucas.]

14. Eupolis, fr. 132 (=120K)


ὃν χρῆν ἔν <τε> ταῖς τριόδοις κἀν τοῖς ὀξυθυμίοις

προστρόπαιον τῆς πόλεως κάεσθαι τετριγότα


Who at the crossway-middens deserved to meet his fate
And be burnt all squealing and squalling, a scapegoat [prostropaion] of the State.

[Trans. John Maxwell Edmonds, The Fragments of Attic Comedy (Leiden: Brill, 1957) 1:345. Text from R. Kassel & C. Austin, Poetae Comici Graeci 5 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1986), 372. Eupolis was active as a playwright 429-415 BC. Prostropaios means suppliant who turns to a god after committing a crime; then one not purified, a polluted person. LSJ.]

[Cf. a translation by Hughes, Human Sacrifice in Ancient Greece, 150:]

who should in the crossroads and among the refuse

as a pollutant of the city be burned, crackling.


15. Eupolis, fr. 384 (=117K)

ὥστ’ ἀσφαλῶς ἐπράττομεν·  νυνὶ δ’ ὅπηι τύχοιμεν

στρατευόμεσθ’ αἱρούμενοι καθάρματα στρατηγούς


. . . the men we chose for leading

Were scions of the noblest houses, first in wealth and breeding.

We worshipped them for Gods on earth, and that is what they were, sir;

And so with them to rule the roost we lived without a care, sir.

Now, we no sooner take the field than we must needs set over us

Rubbish we ought to throw away [katharmata]—Oh, anything will do for us.


[Trans. Edmonds, The Fragments of Attic Comedy 1:347. Text from R. Kassel & C. Austin, Poetae Comici Graeci 5, 509. katharma, “that which is thrown away in cleansing,” LSJ.]

16. Euripides Cyclops 166-167


δράσω τάδ’, ὀλίγον φροντίσας γε δεσποτῶν.

ὡς ἐκπιεῖν κἂν κύλικα βουλοίμην μίαν,  165

πάντων Κυκλώπων ἀντιδοὺς βοσκήματα,

ῥῖψαι τ’ ἐς ἅλμην Λευκάδος πέτρας ἄπο

ἅπαξ μεθυσθεὶς καταβαλών τε τὰς ὀφρῦς.

ὡς ὅς γε πίνων μὴ γέγηθε μαίνεται:

ἵν’ ἔστι τουτί τ’ ὀρθὸν ἐξανιστάναι  170

μαστοῦ τε δραγμὸς καὶ παρεσκευασμένον

ψαῦσαι χεροῖν λειμῶνος ὀρχηστύς θ’ ἅμα

κακῶν τε λῆστις. εἶτ’ ἐγὼ κυνήσομαι

τοιόνδε πῶμα, τὴν Κύκλωπος ἀμαθίαν

κλαίειν κελεύων καὶ τὸν ὀφθαλμὸν μέσον;


Silenus: Just keep pouring the wine. Never mind the gold.

Odysseus: Then bring out cheese or lamb.

Silenus: I will do just that and pay little heed to my master. I would like to drink down a single cup of this wine, [165] giving all the Cyclopes’ flocks in exchange for it, and then to leap from the Leucadian cliff2 into the brine, good and drunk with my eyebrows cast down. The man who does not enjoy drinking is mad: in drink one can raise this to a stand, [170] catch a handful of breast and look forward to stroking her boscage, there’s dancing and forgetfulness of cares. Shall I not kiss such a drink and tell the bone-head Cyclops--and the eye in the middle of his head, too--to go hang? [Exit Silenus into the cave.]


[Trans. David Kovacs. Text and translation from Perseus. Kovacs’ note on the leap: “Leucas, a small island in the Ionian sea off the west coast of Greece, has chalk cliffs rising sharply from the sea. The leap from this cliff into the sea is used in Anacreon, fr. 376 PMG, as an image of the loss of self-control encountered when one is ‘drunk with love.’ Sappho is said to have leapt from the cliff for the love of Phaon.” Euripides lived c. 480–406 BC.]

17. Aristophanes Frogs 733


πολλάκις γ’ ἡμῖν ἔδοξεν ἡ πόλις πεπονθέναι

ταὐτὸν ἔς τε τῶν πολιτῶν τοὺς καλούς τε κἀγαθοὺς 

720 ἔς τε τἀρχαῖον νόμισμα καὶ τὸ καινὸν χρυσίον.

οὔτε γὰρ τούτοισιν οὖσιν οὐ κεκιβδηλευμένοις,

ἀλλὰ καλλίστοις ἁπάντων, ὡς δοκεῖ, νομισμάτων

καὶ μόνοις ὀρθῶς κοπεῖσι καὶ κεκωδωνισμένοις

ἔν τε τοῖς Ἕλλησι καὶ τοῖς βαρβάροισι πανταχοῦ

χρώμεθ’ οὐδέν, ἀλλὰ τούτοις τοῖς πονηροῖς χαλκίοις 

726 χθές τε καὶ πρώην κοπεῖσι τῷ κακίστῳ κόμματι.

τῶν πολιτῶν θ’ οὓς μὲν ἴσμεν εὐγενεῖς καὶ σώφρονας

ἄνδρας ὄντας καὶ δικαίους καὶ καλούς τε κἀγαθοὺς

καὶ τραφέντας ἐν παλαίστραις καὶ χοροῖς καὶ μουσικῇ,

προυσελοῦμεν, τοῖς δὲ χαλκοῖς καὶ ξένοις καὶ πυρρίαις 

731 καὶ πονηροῖς κἀκ πονηρῶν εἰς ἅπαντα χρώμεθα

ὑστάτοις ἀφιγμένοισιν, οἷσιν ἡ πόλις πρὸ τοῦ

οὐδὲ φαρμακοῖσιν εἰκῇ ῥᾳδίως ἐχρήσατ’ ἄν.

ἀλλὰ καὶ νῦν ὦνόητοι μεταβαλόντες τοὺς τρόπους 

735 χρῆσθε τοῖς χρηστοῖσιν αὖθις: καὶ κατορθώσασι γὰρ

εὔλογον, κἄν τι σφαλῆτ’, ἐξ ἀξίου γοῦν τοῦ ξύλου,

ἤν τι καὶ πάσχητε, πάσχειν τοῖς σοφοῖς δοκήσετε.



Many times it seems to us the city has done 

the same thing with the best and the brightest of its citizens

as with the old coinage and the new gold currency.

For these, not counterfeit at all,

but the finest it seems of all coins,

and the only ones of the proper stamp, of resounding metal

amongst Greeks and foreigners everywhere,

we never use, but the inferior bronze ones instead,

minted just yesterday or the day before with the basest stamp.

So too the citizens whom we know to be noble and virtuous,

and righteous and true men of quality

and trained in the palaestra and dancing and music,

these we despise, but the brazen foreigners and redheads

worthless sons of worthless fathers [ponērois kak ponērōn], these we use for everything,

these latest parvenus, whom the city before this

wouldn’t have lightly used even for random scapegoats [pharmakoisin].

But now, you dimwits, change your ways,

and employ the good ones [tois khrēstoisin] again. And if you succeed,

it’s praiseworthy. But if you stumble, at least you’ll hang from a respectable tree--

So wise men will think, if anything happens to you.


[Trans. Matthew Dillon. Text and translation from Perseus. Aristophanes lived c. 446-385 BC.]

18. Scholia on Aristophanes Frogs 733

733a  φαρμακοῖσιν]  καθάρμασι.  τοὺς γὰρ καὶ παρὰ τῆς φύσεως ἐπιβεβουλευμένους εἰς ἀπαλλαγὴν αὐχμοῦ ἢ λιμοῦ ἤ τινος τῶν τοιούτων ἔθυον, οὗς ἐκάλουν “καθάρματα”.  thTrVat LvMt

733a  for scapegoats [pharmakoisin] // for offscourings [katharmasi]. For they sacrificed [ethuon] those who were mistreated by nature to allay a drought or famine or something of that sort; and they called them “offscourings” [katharmata].

[My trans. Text from W. J. W. Koster, et al., Scholia in Aristophanem III 1b - Scholia Recentiora in Aristophanis Ranas, ed. by M. Chantry (Groningen: Egbert Forsten, 2001), p. 122.]

19. Aristophanes Plutus 454


ποίοις ὅπλοισιν ἢ δυνάμει πεποιθότες; 

450 ποῖον γὰρ οὐ θώρακα, ποίαν δ’ ἀσπίδα

οὐκ ἐνέχυρον τίθησιν ἡ μιαρωτάτη;


θάρρει: μόνος γὰρ ὁ θεὸς οὗτος οἶδ’ ὅτι

τροπαῖον ἂν στήσαιτο τῶν ταύτης τρόπων.


γρύζειν δὲ καὶ τολμᾶτον ὦ καθάρματε, 

455 ἐπ’ αὐτοφώρῳ δεινὰ δρῶντ’ εἰλημμένω;


σὺ δ’ ὦ κάκιστ’ ἀπολουμένη τί λοιδορεῖ

ἡμῖν προσελθοῦσ’ οὐδ’ ὁτιοῦν ἀδικουμένη;


Blepsidemus: But what weapons have we? Are we in a condition to show fight? [450] Where is the breastplate, the buckler, that this wretch has not pawned?


Chremylus: Be at ease. Plutus will readily triumph over her threats unaided.


Poverty: Dare you reply, you scoundrels [katharmate], [455] you who are caught red-handed at the most horrible crime?


Chremylus: As for you, you cursed jade [kakist’], you pursue me with your abuse [loidorei], though I have never done you the slightest harm.


[Trans. Eugene O’Neill, Jr. Text and translation from Perseus. See scholia on this passage below.]

20. Scholia on Aristophanes Plutus 454

454d. “κάθαρμα” τὸ βδέλυγμα.  γίνεται δὲ ἀφ’ ἱστορίας τοιαύτης, ὡς [ὅτι] ἐν ταῖς Ἀθήναις ἦν ἔθος τοιοῦτον, ὅτι εἰ [ἐ]συνέβη ἁμαρτῆσαι τὴν πόλιν τι εἰς τοὺς θεούς, εἰς ἐξιλέωσιν τοῦ τοιούτου ἀτοπήματος, ἀφόριζεν (sic) ὁ λαὸς ἔνα ἄνθρωπον ὃς πάντων δυσειδέστατος ἦν.  ἔθυον γοῦν αὐτὸν εἰς λύτρον παντός.

“Offscourings” is abomination.  It follows from such a reference, that in Athens there was such a custom, that if it happened that the city committed some offence [hamartēsai] against the gods, to atone [eis exileōsin] for such an offence [apopēmatos], the people separated out [aphorizen] one man who was ugliest of everyone. In sum, they sacificed him [ethuon] as a payment [lutron] for all.

454e.  [. . .] ὅτε γὰρ χρησμὸς περὶ τοιούτου ἐγένετο, εὑρίσκετο δυσειδὴς πάντα ἐκεῖσε ἄνθρωπος.  τοῦτον έκαιον, “κάθαρμα” ποιοῦντες τῆς πόλεως διά τινα θεομηνίαν.  ἀρμένου οὖν τούτου εἰς τὸ καυθῆναι, περιέψων αὐτὸν πάντες, λέγοντες “γενοῦ ἡμῖν ἀπαλλαγὴ κακῶν”.  ἐκ τούτου ἐλέγετο καὶ “περίψημα”. V57

454e.  [. . .] For when there was an oracle concerning such an event [a disaster or offence against the gods], a thoroughly ugly man was found and brought to that place. They burned him, making him the offscourings [katharma] of the city because of divine wrath. Therefore, when he had been selected for burning, everyone wiped him clean [periepsōn], saying, “Become a deliverance from evils for us.” From this we also have the word peripsēma. [“anything wiped off, offscouring,” LSJ].

454f.  τοὺς φαρμακοὺς τῆς πόλεως καὶ τοὺς γόητας “καθάρματα” ἐκάλουν διὰ αἰτίαν τοιαύτην·  πόλις τις ἐδυστύχει, καὶ ἐδόθη αὐτῇ χρησμός, ἵνα ἐκτεφρώσῃ τὸν ἔχθιστον τῆς πόλεως καὶ ἀθλιώτατον, καὶ λάβωσι τὴν τέφραν ἐκείνου πρὸς ἀποτροπιασμὸν τῶν τῆς πόλεως κακῶν.  δὴ καὶ γέγονε.  καὶ λαβόντες τὸν δυστυχέστατον τῆς πόλεως, κατὰ μέσην τὴν ἀγορὰν κατέκαυσαν ἀγρίαις συκαῖς.  τὴν δὲ τέφραν τούτου λαβόντες, εἰς ἀποσόβησιν τῶν τῆς πόλεως κακῶν ἐκέκτηντο.  καὶ ἐντεῦθεν ἐπεκράτησε λέγειν πάντας τοὺς δυστυχεῖς καὶ πένητας καὶ αθλίους καὶ γόητας καὶ φαρμακοὺς “καθάρματα”. Np1, h

454f.  They would call the scapegoats [pharmakous] of the city and the swindlers [goētas, “sorceror, wizard, juggler, cheat,” LSJ] offscourings [katharmata] for this reason. A certain city would undergo a misfortune, and an oracle was given to it, that it should burn to ashes the most hated [ekhthiston] and wretched [athliōtaton] man of the city, and they should take his ashes as an expiation of the evils of the city. Which indeed was done. And after they taken the most wretched [dustukhestaton] man in the city, in the middle of the agora they thoroughly burned him with wild figs. And after they took his ashes, they succeeded in scaring away [eis aposobēsin] the city’s evils. And from that the practice of calling all the unfortunate and poor and wretched and swindlers and pharmakoi “katharmata” came to be in force.

[My trans. Text from W. J. W. Koster, et al., Scholia in Aristophanem III 4b - Scholia Recentiora in Plutum, ed. by M. Chantry (Groningen: Egbert Forsten, 1996), p. 122.]

21. Aristophanes Knights 1136


Δῆμε καλήν γ’ ἔχεις

ἀρχήν, ὅτε πάντες ἄνθρωποι

δεδίασί σ’ ὥσπερ

ἄνδρα τύραννον. 

1115 ἀλλ’ εὐπαράγωγος εἶ,

θωπευόμενός τε χαίρεις


πρὸς τόν τε λέγοντ’ ἀεὶ

κέχηνας: ὁ νοῦς δέ σου 

1120 παρὼν ἀποδημεῖ.


νοῦς οὐκ ἔνι ταῖς κόμαις

ὑμῶν, ὅτε μ’ οὐ φρονεῖν

νομίζετ’: ἐγὼ δ’ ἑκὼν

ταῦτ’ ἠλιθιάζω. 

1125 αὐτός τε γὰρ ἥδομαι

βρύλλων τὸ καθ’ ἡμέραν,

κλέπτοντά τε βούλομαι

τρέφειν ἕνα προστάτην:

τοῦτον δ’, ὅταν ᾖ πλέως, 

1130 ἄρας ἐπάταξα.


χοὔτω μὲν ἂν εὖ ποιοῖς,

εἴ σοι πυκνότης ἔνεστ’

ἐν τῷ τρόπῳ, ὡς λέγεις,

τούτῳ πάνυ πολλή, 

1135 εἰ τούσδ’ ἐπίτηδες ὥσπερ

δημοσίους τρέφεις

ἐν τῇ πυκνί, κᾆθ’ ὅταν

μή σοι τύχῃ ὄψον ὄν,

τούτων ὃς ἂν ᾖ παχύς, 

1140 θύσας ἐπιδειπνεῖς.


σκέψασθε δέ μ’, εἰ σοφῶς

αὐτοὺς περιέρχομαι

τοὺς οἰομένους φρονεῖν

κἄμ’ ἐξαπατύλλειν. 

1145 τηρῶ γὰρ ἑκάστοτ’ αὐτοὺς

οὐδὲ δοκῶν ὁρᾶν

κλέπτοντας: ἔπειτ’ ἀναγκάζω

πάλιν ἐξεμεῖν

ἅττ’ ἂν κεκλόφωσί μου, 

1150 κημὸν καταμηλῶν.


Chorus (singing): Demos, you are our all-powerful sovereign lord; all tremble before you, [1115] yet you are led by the nose. You love to be flattered and fooled; you listen to the orators with gaping mouth and your mind [1120] is led astray.

Demos (singing): It’s rather you who have no brains, if you think me so foolish as all that; it is with a purpose that I play this idiot’s role, [1125] for I love to drink the livelong day, and so it pleases me to keep a thief for my minister. When he has thoroughly gorged himself, [1130] then I overthrow and crush him.

Chorus (singing): What profound wisdom! If it be really so, why! all is for the best. [1135] Your ministers, then, are your victims, whom you nourish and feed up [dēmosious trepheis] expressly in the Pnyx, so that, the day your dinner is ready, [1140] you may immolate [thusas] the fattest and eat him.

Demos (singing): Look, see how I play with them, while all the time they think themselves such adepts at cheating me. [1145] I have my eye on them when they thieve, but I do not appear to be seeing them; then [1150] I thrust a judgment down their throat as it were a feather, and force them to vomit up all they have robbed from me.

[Trans. Eugene O’Neill, Jr. Text and translation from Perseus. See scholia on this passage below.]

22.  Scholia on Aristophanes Knights 1136c

1136a.  ὥσπερ δημοσίους τρέφεις: λείπει βοῦς ἢ ταύρους, ἢ ἄλλο τι τοιοῦτον θῦμα.  δημοσίους τοὺς λεγομένους φαρμακούς, οἵπερ καθαίρουσι τὰς πόλεις τῷ ἑαυτῶν φόνῳ.  τους δημοσίᾳ τρεφομένους [[καὶ ὐπὸ τῆς πόλεως]].  VΕΓΘΜ

1136b.  δημοσίους] λείπει βοῦς ἢ ταύρους ἢ ἄλλο τι τοιοῦτον εἰς θῦμα.  Lh

1136c.  δημοσίους λέγει τοὺς λεγομένους φαρμακούς, οἵπερ καθαίρουσι τὰς πόλεις τῷ ἑαυτῶν φόνῳ.  ἔτρεφον γάρ τινας Ἀθηναῖοι λίαν ἀγεννεῖς καὶ πένητας καὶ ἀχρήστους, καὶ ἐν καιρῷ συμφορᾶς τινος ἐπελθούσης τῇ πόλει, λιμοῦ λέγω ἢ τοιούτου τινός, ἔθυον τούτους ἕνεκα τοῦ καθαρθῆναι τοῦ μιάσματος καὶ τῆς ἑαυτῶν κακίας, καὶ θεραπείαν εὑρεῖν τοῦ ἐπικειμένου κακοῦ.  οὓς καὶ ἐπωνόμαζον καθάρματα.  μέμνηται τούτων ἐν Βατράχοις

                                    οἷσιν ἡ πόλις πρὸ τοῦ

            οὐδὲ φαρμακοῖσιν εἰκῆ ῥᾳδίως ἐχρήσατ’ ἄν”. Lh


1136c.  By dēmosious “those who are public” he means those who are called pharmakoi, who cleanse the cities by their death. For the Athenians would nourish some who were exceedingly low-born, penniless, and useless [akhrēstous], and when a time of a disaster of some sort came upon the city, I mean a famine or something similar, they would sacrifice these to cleanse the city from the pollution and from their evil, and to find a cure [therapeian] for the disaster they were enduring. They also gave the pharmakoi the name offscourings [katharmata]. In Frogs there is a mention of these . . . [Frogs 733, see above]

[My trans. Text from W. J. W. Koster, et al., Scholia in Aristophanem 1.2 In Equites (1969), ed. D. M. Jones, p. 243.]

23. Aristophanes Knights 1404-1405


καί ς’ ἀντὶ τούτων ἐς τὸ πρυτανεῖον καλῶ

ἐς τὴν ἕδραν θ’, ἵν’ ἐκεῖνος ἦν ὁ φαρμακός.


I bid you take the seat

In the Prytaneum where this offscourings [pharmakos]

Was wont to sit.


[Trans. Jane Harrison, in Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion, 97. Text from Gebhard, Die Pharmakoi in Ionien und die Sybakchoi in Athen (Diss. Amberg 1926), p. 12.]

24. Aristophanes, fr. 655 (634K) = Eustathius On the Odyssey p. 1415,62

δὲ φαρμακὸς ἤτοι τὸ κάθαρμα . . . Ἀριστοφάνης·

πόθεν δ’ ἐγώ σοι συγγενής, ῶ φαρμακέ;


The masculine word φαρμακός ‘atonement-victim, scapegoat’ (criminal used as such) . . . Aristophanes:


How am I kin to you, you criminal [pharmake]?

[Trans. John Maxwell Edmonds, The Fragments of Attic Comedy (Leiden: Brill, 1957) 744. Text from R. Kassel & C. Austin, Poetae Comici Graeci ΙΙΙ 2 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1983), 341. ]

25.  “Lysias” Against Andocides’ Impiety 6.53

[53] ποῖον φίλον, ποῖον συγγενῆ, ποῖον δημότην1 χρὴ τούτῳ χαρισάμενον κρύβδην φανερῶς τοῖς θεοῖς ἀπεχθέσθαι; νῦν οὖν χρὴ νομίζειν τιμωρουμένους καὶ ἀπαλλαττομένους Ἀνδοκίδου τὴν πόλιν καθαίρειν2 καὶ ἀποδιοπομπεῖσθαι καὶ φαρμακὸν ἀποπέμπειν καὶ ἀλιτηρίου ἀπαλλάττεσθαι, ὡς ἓν τούτων οὗτός ἐστι.


1 δημότην Blass: δικαστὴν MSS.

2 Post καθαίρειν in libris ἀρὰν ἀπάγεσθαι del. Taylor


[53] Who ought to tolerate these doings? What person, whether friend or relation or townsman, is to incur the open enmity of the gods by showing him secret favour? You should therefore, consider that to-day, in punishing Andocides and in ridding yourselves of him, you are cleansing [kathairein] the city, you are solemnly purifying it from pollution [apodiopompeisthai], you are dispatching a foul scapegoat [pharmakon apopempein], you are getting rid of a reprobate [alitēriou]; for this man is all of them in one.


[Trans. W. R. M. Lamb; trans. and text from Perseus. The speech is attributed to Lysias, c. 459-c. 380 BC.]

[apodiopompeisthai means “escort out of the city the dion kōidion.” kōidion is diminutive of kōas, sheepskin, fleece. The dion kōidion was “ram’s fleece used in purificatory ceremonies.” Thus, apodiopompeisthai also means, “free [something] from pollution.” LSJ. See also Suda, s.v. apodiopompeisthai and diopompeisthai (with helpful notes at Suda Online) and R. Parker, Miasma (Oxford 1983), pp. 28-29.]

26. Demosthenes On the Crown (XVIII), p. 269, sec. 128

 [128] σοὶ δ’ ἀρετῆς, ὦ κάθαρμα, ἢ τοῖς σοῖς τίς μετουσία; ἢ καλῶν ἢ μὴ τοιούτων τίς διάγνωσις; πόθεν ἢ πῶς ἀξιωθέντι; ποῦ δὲ παιδείας σοὶ θέμις μνησθῆναι; ἧς τῶν μὲν ὡς ἀληθῶς τετυχηκότων οὐδ’ ἂν εἷς εἴποι περὶ αὑτοῦ τοιοῦτον οὐδέν, ἀλλὰ κἂν ἑτέρου λέγοντος ἐρυθριάσειε, τοῖς δ’ ἀπολειφθεῖσι μέν, ὥσπερ σύ, προσποιουμένοις δ’ ὑπ’ ἀναισθησίας τὸ τοὺς ἀκούοντας ἀλγεῖν ποιεῖν ὅταν λέγωσιν, οὐ τὸ δοκεῖν τοιούτοις εἶναι περίεστιν.

[128] Virtue! you runagate [katharma]; what have you or your family to do with virtue? How do you distinguish between good and evil report? Where and how did you qualify as a moralist? Where did you get your right to talk about education? No really educated man would use such language about himself, but would rather blush to hear it from others; but people like you, who make stupid pretensions to the culture of which they are utterly destitute, succeed in disgusting everybody whenever they open their lips, but never in making the impression they desire.

[Trans. by C. A. Vince, M. A. and J. H. Vince. Text and translation from Perseus. Gebhard #20, in the category “Pharmakos and katharma as words of abuse.”]

27. Demosthenes Against Midias (XXI), p. 574, sec. 185B

[185] οἷον ἔστι μέτριος καὶ φιλάνθρωπός τις ἡμῶν καὶ πολλοὺς ἐλεῶν: τούτῳ ταὐτὸ δίκαιον ὑπάρχειν παρὰ πάντων, ἄν ποτ’ εἰς χρείαν καὶ ἀγῶν’ ἀφίκηται. ἄλλος οὑτοσί τις ἀναιδὴς καὶ πολλοὺς ὑβρίζων, καὶ τοὺς μὲν πτωχούς, τοὺς δὲ καθάρματα, τοὺς δ’ οὐδ’ ἀνθρώπους ὑπολαμβάνων: τούτῳ τὰς αὐτὰς δίκαιον ὑπάρχειν φοράς, ἅσπερ αὐτὸς εἰσενήνοχε τοῖς ἄλλοις. ἂν τοίνυν ὑμῖν ἐπίῃ σκοπεῖν, τούτου πληρωτὴν εὑρήσετε Μειδίαν ὄντα τοῦ ἐράνου, καὶ οὐκ ἐκείνου.

[185] For instance, one of us is moderate, kindly disposed and merciful: he deserves to receive an equivalent return from all, if he ever falls into want or distress. Yonder is another, who is shameless and insulting, treating others as if they were beggars [ptōxous], the scum of the earth [katharmata], mere nobodies: he deserves to be paid with the same measure that he has meted to others. If you will consent to look at it in a true light, you will find that this, and not the former, is the kind of contribution that Meidias has made.

[Trans. A. T. Murray. Text and translation from Perseus. Gebhard #21, in the category “Pharmakos and katharma as words of abuse.”]

28.  Demosthenes Against Midias (XXI), p. 578, sec. 198B

καὶ πάντες εἰσὶ τούτῳ καθάρματα καὶ πτωχοὶ καὶ οὐδ’ ἄνθρωποι.

And by heaven! they had some excuse, for there is no putting up with the follow; he claims to be the only rich man and the only man who knows how to speak; all others are in his opinion outcasts [katharmata], beggars, below the rank of men.

[Trans. J. H. Vince, LCL. Text from Gebhard #22, in the category “Pharmakos and katharma as words of abuse.”]

29. Demosthenes Against Aristogiton (XXV) sec. 80

[80] ταῦτα λαβὼν τὰ φάρμακα καὶ τὰς ἐπῳδὰς παρὰ τῆς θεραπαίνης αὐτῆς, ἣ κατ’ ἐκείνης τότ’ ἐμήνυσεν, ἐξ ἧσπερ ὁ βάσκανος οὗτος πεπαιδοποίηται, μαγγανεύει καὶ φενακίζει καὶ τοὺς ἐπιλήπτους φησὶν ἰᾶσθαι, αὐτὸς ὢν ἐπίληπτος πάσῃ πονηρίᾳ. οὗτος οὖν αὐτὸν ἐξαιρήσεται, ὁ φαρμακός, ὁ λοιμός, ὃν οἰωνίσαιτ’ ἄν τις μᾶλλον ἰδὼν ἢ προσειπεῖν βούλοιτο, ὃς αὐτὸς αὑτῷ θανάτου τετίμηκεν ὅτε τοιαύτην δίκην ἔλαχεν.


[80] She gave information against her mistress, and this rascal has had children by her, and with her help he plays juggling tricks and professes to cure fits, being himself subject to fits of wickedness [ponēriai] of every kind. So this is the man who will beg him off! This offscourings [pharmakos], this public pest [loimos], whom any man would ban at sight as an evil omen rather than choose to accost him, and who has pronounced himself worthy of death by bringing such an action.


[Trans. A. T. Murray, adapted. His translation of pharmakos as “poisoner” is probably wrong. Text and translation from Perseus. Demosthenes lived 384-322 BC. D. Hughes translates the last sentence: “So this is the man who will win his pardon, the pharmakos, the plague, whom anyone would shun at sight as an evil omen rather than be willing to address him . . .”]

30. Aristoxenus, FGH 2 F 72 = Athenaeus 14 (619d-e) = Stesichorus fr. 100 Page (spurious)

[See Stesichorus, fr. 100 Page above. Aristoxenus was born between 375 and 360 BC.]

31. Aeschines Against Ctesiphon 211.

 [211] ὃν ἐχρῆν, εἰ μανεὶς ὁ δῆμος ἢ τῶν καθεστηκότων ἐπιλελησμένος, ἐπὶ τοιαύτης ἀκαιρίας ἐβούλετο στεφανοῦν αὐτόν, παρελθόντα εἰς τὴν ἐκκλησίαν εἰπεῖν: “ἄνδρες Ἀθηναῖοι, τὸν μὲν στέφανον δέχομαι, τὸν δὲ καιρὸν ἀποδοκιμάζω ἐν ᾧ τὸ κήρυγμα γίγνεται: οὐ γὰρ δεῖ, ἐφ’ οἷς ἡ πόλις ἐκείρατο,1 ἐπὶ τούτοις ἐμὲ στεφανοῦσθαι.” ἀλλ’ οἶμαι ταῦτα μὲν ἂν εἴποι ἀνὴρ ὄντως βεβιωκὼς μετ’ ἀρετῆς: ἃ δὲ σὺ λέξεις, εἴποι ἂν κάθαρμα ζηλοτυποῦν ἀρετήν.

[211] Nay, but if the people gone mad, or forgetful of the existing situation, had actually wished to crown him at a time so unfitting, he ought to have come before the assembly and said, “Fellow citizens, I accept the crown, but I do not approve the time at which the proclamation is to be made. For events which have caused our city to shear her head in mourning are no fitting occasion for my head to receive a crown.” This I think a man would say whose life had been one of genuine virtue. But the words which you, Demosthenes, will speak, are the natural expression of a worthless scoundrel [katharma], with whom virtue is a pretence.

[Trans. Charles Darwin Adams. Text and translation from Perseus. Gebhard #23, in the category “Pharmakos and katharma as words of abuse.”]

32. Menander, fr. 258 (Körte)

οὗ δὴ λέγεται πρώτη Σαπφώ, ὥς φησιν ὁ Μένανδρος, τὸν ὑπέρκομπον θηρῶσα Φάων’, / οἰστρῶντι πόθῳ ῥῖψαι πέτρας / ἀπὸ τηλεφανοῦς ἅλμα κατ’ εὐχήν / σήν, δέσποτ’ ἄναξ


Where Sappho is said to have been the first, as Menander says, when through frantic longing she was chasing proud Phaon, to fling herself with a leap from the far-seen rock, calling upon thee in prayer, O lord and master.


[Trans. and text from Horace Leonard Jones, LCL, 1928. See Strabo Geography 10.2.9, below. Menander lived 342–291 BC.]

33. Menander Samia 481

ΔΗΜΕΑΣ                               τί φῄς;

οὐδὲν ἐνθυμεῖσθε;

ΜΟΣΧΙΩΝ                  τί βοᾷς;

ΔΗΜΕΑΣ                                      ὅ τι βοῶ, κάθαρμα σύ,

τοῦτ’ ἐρωτᾷς;


Demeas (amazed by this answer, and shouting) What is that you say?

481 Have you two no scruples?

Moschion: Why the shouting?

Demeas (in a rage) Filthy rat [katharma], you ask

Why I’m shouting? . . .


[Trans. and text from W. Geoffrey Arnott, LCL, Menander, vol. III.]

34. Callimachus Aetia fr. 90 (Pfeiffer), with diēgēsis II

Ἔνθ’, Ἄβδηρ’, οὗ νῦν .[…]λεω φαρμακὸν ἀγινεῖ

Dieg. II, 29-40:

Ἔνθ’, Ἄβδηρ’, οὗ νῦν .[…]λεω φαρμακὸν

ἀγινεῖ     Ἀβδήροις ὠνητὸς ἄνθρω-

πος καθάρσιον τῆς πόλεως, ἐπὶ πλίν-

θου ἑστὼς φαιᾶς, θοίνης ἀπολαύων

δαψιλοῦς, ἐπειδὰν διάπλεως γένηται,

προάγεται ἐπὶ τὰς Προυρίδας καλου-

μένας πύλας· εἶτ’ ἔξω τοῦ τείχους

περίεισι κύκλῳ περικαθαίρων (?)

αὐτῷ τὴν πόλιν, καὶ τότε ὑπὸ

τοῦ βασιλέως καὶ τῶν άλλων λι-

θοβολεῖται, ἕως ἐξελασθῇ τῶν



There, Abderos, where now . . . leads (me) a scapegoat [pharmakon].

Dieg. II:

In Abdera a slave, bought in the market, is used to purify [katharsion] the city. Standing on a block of grey stone, he enjoys a rich banquet, and so fed to the full he is led to the gates called Prurides. Then he goes round the walls in a circle purifying [perikathairōn] in his own person the city, and then the basileus and the others throw stones at him [lithoboleitai] until he is driven beyond the boundaries.

[Translation by C. A. Trypanis, LCL. Text from Pfeiffer 1.97. Trypanis adds: “Abdera was a Greek city in Thrace near the mouth of the river Nestos. In this fragment Ἄβδηρ’ may be either Ἄβδηρε, the eponymous hero fo the city, or Ἄβδηρα, the city itself. The slave who was used as a scapegoat appears to be speaking in this fragment.” Callimachus lived ca. 305 BC- ca. 240 BC. See Scholia on Ovid Ibis 467-468, below.]

35. Istros Manifestations of Apollo FGH 334 F 50 = Harpocration 180, 19, s.v. pharmakos = Et. Gen. Et. M. p. 787, 55 = Suda

ὅτι δὲ ὄνομα κύριόν ἐστιν ὁ Φαρμακός, ἱερὰς δὲ φιάλας τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος κλέψας καὶ ἁλοὺς ὑπὸ τῶν περὶ τὸν Ἀχιλλέα κατελεύσθη, καὶ τὰ τοῖς Θαργηλίοις ἀγόμενα τούτων ἀπομιμήματά ἐστιν, Ἴστρος ἐν ᾶ τῶν Ἀπόλλωνος Ἐπιφανειῶν εἴρηκεν.


But that Pharmakos is a proper name and that he stole the sacred bowls of Apollo, was caught by the companions of Achilles, and was stoned to death, and that the things performed at the Thargelia are imitations [apomimēmata] of these events, Istros has said in the first book of the Manifestations of Apollo.


[Translation Dennis D. Hughes, Human Sacrifice in Ancient Greece, 152. Text from FGH. Istros (Ister) of Cyrene, who lived c. 250-200 BC, was a student of Callimachus.]

36. Apollonius of Rhodes, in the Palatine Anthology 11 #275:

Καλλίμαχος, τὸ κάθαρμα, τὸ παίγνιον, ὁ ξύλινος νοῦς·
     αἴτιος ὁ γράψας Αἴτια Καλλίμαχος.

Callimachus the outcast [katharma], the butt, the wooden head!

The origin is Callimachus who wrote the Origins.

[Trans. W. R. Paton. Text from D. L. Page, Further Greek Epigrams (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), p. 17. Apollonius of Rhodes is not certainly the author, but Page argues that he is. He writes, “the intense personal animosity reflected in the word katharma is more characteristic of the contemporary scene than of some latter-day armchair man of letters.” Gebhard #27, in the category “Pharmakos and katharma as words of abuse.”]

Callimachus: Trash, cheap joke, blockhead. 
Original Sin: Writing Callimachus’ Origins.”

[Trans. from]

37. Cicero Tusculan Disputations 4.18 (41)

[40] Etenim quis erit tandem modus iste? quaeramus enim modum aegritudinis, in qua operae plurimum ponitur. Aegre tulisse P. Rupilium fratris repulsam consulatus scriptum apud Fannium est; sed tamen transisse videtur modum, quippe qui ob eam causam a vita recesserit; moderatius igitur ferre debuit. Quid, si, cum id ferret modice, mors liberorum accessisset? ‘Nata esset aegritudo nova, sed ea modica’. Magna tamen facta esset accessio. Quid, si deinde dolores graves corporis, si bonorum amissio, si caecitas, si exilium? Si pro singulis malis aegritudines accederent, summa ea fieret, quae non sustineretur.

XVIII. [41] Qui modum igitur vitio quaerit, similiter facit, ut si posse putet eum qui se e Leucata praecipitaverit sustinere se, cum velit. Ut enim id non potest, sic animus perturbatus et incitatus nec cohibere se potest nec, quo loco vult, insistere. Omninoque, quae crescentia perniciosa sunt, eadem sunt vitiosa nascentia;  [42] aegritudo autem ceteraeque perturbationes amplificatae certe pestiferae sunt; igitur etiam susceptae continuo in magna pestis parte versantur. Etenim ipsae se impellunt, ubi semel a ratione discessum est, ipsaque sibi imbecillitas indulget in altumque provehitur imprudens nec reperit locum consistendi. Quam ob rem nihil interest, utrum moderatas perturbationes adprobent an moderatam iniustitiam, moderatam ignaviam, moderatam intemperantiam; qui enim vitiis modum apponit, is partem suscipit vitiorum quod cum ipsum per se odiosum est, tum eo molestius, quia sunt in lubrico incitataque semel proclivi labuntur sustinerique nullo modo possunt.

He therefore who looks for a “limit” to vice is doing much the same as if he were to think that a man who has flung himself headlong from Leucas can stop his fall when he will.

[Trans. J. E. King, LCL. Text from Cicero lived 106-43 BC.]

38. Cicero Tusculan Disputations 4.34 (72-73)

XV. [34] Quando, ut aliis locis de virtute et diximus et saepe dicendum erit - pleraeque enim quaestiones, quae ad vitam moresque pertinent, a virtutis fonte ducuntur -, quando igitur virtus est adfectio animi constans conveniensque, laudabiles efficiens eos, in quibus est, et ipsa per se sua sponte separata etiam utilitate laudabilis, ex ea proficiscuntur honestae voluntates sententiae actiones omnisque recta ratio (quamquam ipsa virtus brevissume recta ratio dici potest). Huius igitur virtutis contraria est vitiositas - sic enim malo quam malitiam appellare eam quam Graeci kaki/an appellant; nam malitia certi cuiusdam vitii nomen est, vitiositas omnium -; ex qua concitantur perturbationes, quae sunt, ut paulo ante diximus, turbidi animorum concitatique motus, aversi a ratione et inimicissimi mentis vitaeque tranquillae. Inportant enim aegritudines anxias atque acerbas animosque adfligunt et debilitant metu; idem inflammant adpetitione nimia, quam tum cupiditatem tum libidinem dicimus, inpotentiam quandam animi a temperantia et moderation plurimum dissidentem.

[72] Stoici vero et Sapientem amaturum esse dicunt amorem ipsum ‘conatum amicitiae faciendae ex pulchritudinis specie’ definiunt. Qui si quis est in rerum natura sine sollicitudine, sine desiderio, sine cura, sine suspirio, sit sane; vacat enim omni libidine; haec autem de libidine oratio est. Sin autem est aliquis amor, ut est certe, qui nihil absit aut non multum ab insania, qualis in Leucadia est:

‘Si quidem sit quisquam deus,
Cui ego sim curae’

[73] At id erat deis omnibus curandum, quem ad modum hic frueretur voluptate amatoria!

‘Heu me infelicem!’

Nihil verius. Probe et ille:


‘Sanusne es, qui temere lamentare?’

Sic insanus videtur etiam suis. At quas tragoedias efficit!

‘Te, Apollo sancte, fer opem, teque, amnipotens Neptune, invoco,

Vosque adeo, Venti!’

Mundum totum se ad amorem suum sublevandum conversurum putat, Venerem unam excludit ut iniquam:

‘Nam quid ego te appellem, Venus?’


Eam prae lubidine negat curare quicquam: quasi vero ipse non propter lubidinem tanta flagitia et faciat et dicat.


. . . our discourse is about lust . . . But if on the other hand there is some love, as assuredly there is, which must be reckoned as not removed or not far removed form unsoundness of mind, as for instance in the “Leucadian Girl”:[5]


                        Ah, were there but some god,

            Who would have care for me!


Yes, of course all the gods were to “have care” how he might enjoy the pleasures of love.


            Ah me unhappy!


Nothing more true. With reason too the other:


            Are thou sane who rashly wailest?


Even his own family think him of unsound mind. Note what a tragic air of passion he puts on!


            Thee, Apollo holy, help me, Neptune, thee great Lord I call,

            You too, winds of heaven!


The whole universe, he thinks, will conspire to aid his love; Venus alone he shuts out as disdainful:


            For why am I to call you, Venus?


He says that goddess because of lust has no care for him: just as if in fact he were not moved by lust himself to do and utter such shamelessness.


[Trans. J. E. King, LCL.]

39. Lucian Dialogues of the Dead 3.1

ἐπιγελᾷ καὶ ἐξονειδίζει ἀνδράποδα καὶ καθάρματα ἡμᾶς ἀποκαλῶν . . . καὶ ὅλως λυπηρός ἐστιν.

Croesus: Whenever we moan and groan at our memories of life above, Midas recalling his gold, Sardanapalus his great luxury, and I, Croesus, my treasures, he [Menippus] mocks [epigelai] and reviles [exoneidizei] us, calling us slaves [andrapoda] and scum [katharmata]; sometimes he even disturbs our lamentations by singing. In short, he’s a pest [lupēros].

[Text and translation by M. D. Macleod, LCL, Lucian, vol. VII.]

40. Didymus p.314 Schmidt.

Δημοσθένους δ’ ἐν τῷ κατ’ Ἀριστογείτονος λέγοντος·  οὗτος οὖν αὐτὸν ἐξαιρήσεται ὁ φαρμακός. Δίδυμος προπερισπᾶν ἀξιοῖ τοὔνομα, ἀλλ’ ἡμεῖς οὐχ εὕρομεν οὕτω που τὴν χρῆσιν.

And although Demosthenes in the Against Aristogeiton says “So this is the man who will win his pardon, the scapegoat [pharmakos],” Didymus thinks that the word should be circumflexed on the penultimate; but we have not found such usage anywhere.

[Trans. Dennis D. Hughes, Human Sacrifice in Ancient Greece, 152. Text from Gebhard, Die Pharmakoi in Ionien, p. 16. Didymus lived c. 80-10 BC.]

41. Scholia in Aeschylus Seven Against Thebes 680

680l: κάθαρμα, καθάρσιον καὶ κάθαρσις διαφέρει·  καθάρσιον τὸ καθαῖρον, κάθαρσις αὐτὴ ἡ ἐνέργεια τῆς καθάρσεως, κάθαρμα δὲ αὐτὸ τὸ εἰς κάθαρσιν διδόμενον, οἷον λιμοῦ συμβάντος παρ’ Ἕλλησιν ἤ τινος ἄλλου τῶν ἀπευκτῶν, λαμβάνοντες τὸν ἀηδέστατον καὶ παρὰ τῆς φύσεως ἐπιβεβουλευμένον πηρόν, χωλόν, τοὺς τοιούτους, τοῦτον ἔθυον εἰς ἀπαλλαγὴν τοῦ ἐνοχλοῦντος δεινοῦ. ἐνταῦθα δὲ καθάρσιον αἷμα λέγει τὸ καθαρὸν καὶ ἐλεύθερον μιάσματος.  θT

. . . as when a famine occurred among the Greeks or some other accursed disaster, they took the man who was most unpleasant and mistreated by nature, maimed, lame, one of that sort, and they sacrificed him [ethuon] to allay the troubling disaster.

[My trans. Text from Ole Langwitz Smith, ed., Scholia Graeca in Aeschylum Quae Exstant Omnia, Pars II Fasc. 2, Scholia in Septem Adversus Thebas Continens (Teubner 1982).]

[The lines from Aeschylus are as follows (text and translation from Perseus):


μή, φίλτατ’ ἀνδρῶν, Οἰδίπου τέκος, γένῃ

ὀργὴν ὁμοῖος τῷ κάκιστ’ αὐδωμένῳ:

ἀλλ’ ἄνδρας Ἀργείοισι Καδμείους ἅλις

680 ἐς χεῖρας ἐλθεῖν: αἷμα γὰρ καθάρσιον.

ἀνδροῖν δ’ ὁμαίμοιν θάνατος ὧδ’ αὐτοκτόνος,

οὐκ ἔστι γῆρας τοῦδε τοῦ μιάσματος.


Chorus: No, son of Oedipus, most dear of our men, do not be like in temperament to him who is called by such an evil name. It is enough that Cadmeans [680] are advancing to close combat with Argives. That bloodshed can be expiated [katharsion]. But when men of the same blood kill each other as you desire, the pollution [miasmatos] from this act never grows old.

42. Strabo Geography 10.2.9

ἔχει δὲ τὸ τοῦ Λευκάτα Ἀπόλλωνος ἱερὸν καὶ τὸ ἅλμα, τὸ τοὺς ἔρωτας παύειν πεπιστευμένον· οὗ δὴ λέγεται πρώτη Σαπφώ, ὥς φησιν ὁ Μένανδρος, τὸν ὑπέρκομπον θηρῶσα Φάων’, / οἰστρῶντι πόθῳ ῥῖψαι πέτρας / ἀπὸ τηλεφανοῦς ἅλμα κατ’ εὐχήν / σήν, δέσποτ’ ἄναξ. . . .

ἦν δὲ καὶ πάτριον τοῖς Λευκαδίοις κατ’ ἐνιαυτὸν ἐν τῇ θυσίᾳ τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος ἀπὸ τῆς σκοπῆς ῥιπτεῖσθαί τινα τῶν ἐν αἰτίαις ὄντων ἀποτροπῆς χάριν, ἐξαπτομένων ἐξ αὐτοῦ παντοδαπῶν πτερῶν καὶ ορνέων ἀνακουφίζειν δυναμένων τῇ πτήσι τὸ ἅλμα, ὑποδέχεσθαι δὲ κάτω μικραῖς ἁλιάσι κύκλῳ περιεστῶτας πολλοὺς καὶ περισῶζειν εἰς δύναμιν τῶν ὅρων ἔξω τὸν ἀναληφθέντα.

[The island Leucas] It contains the temple of Apollo Leucatas, and also the “Leap,” which was believed to put an end to the longings of love. “Where Sappho is said to have been the first,” as Menander says, “when through frantic longing she was chasing proud Phaon, to fling herself with a leap from the far-seen rock, calling upon thee in prayer, O lord and master.” Now although Menander says that Sappho was the first to take the leap, yet those who are better versed than he in antiquities say that it was Cephalus, who was in love with Pterelas the son of Deïoneus.

It was an ancestral custom among the Leucadians, every year at the sacrifice performed in honor of Apollo, for some criminal [tina tōn en aitiais ontōn] to be flung [ripteisthai] from this rocky look-out for the sake of averting evil [apotropēs kharin], wings and birds of all kinds being fastened to him, since by their fluttering they could lighten the leap, and also for a number of men, stationed all round below the rock in small fishing-boats, to take the victim in, and, when he had been taken on board [or perhaps “resuscitated”], to do all in their power to get him safely outside their borders.

[Trans. and text from Horace Leonard Jones, LCL, 1928. Strabo lived 64/3 BC-ca. 21 AD.]

43. Ovid Heroides 15.161-206

hic ego cum lassos posuissem flebilis artus,

     constitit ante oculos Naias una meos;

constitit et dixit: “quoniam non ignibus aequis

     ureris, Ambracia est terra petenda tibi.

Phoebus ab excelso, quantum patet, adspicit aequor:

     Actiacum populi Leucadiumque vocant.

hinc se Deucalion Pyrrhae succensus amore

     misit, et illaeso corpore pressit aquas.

nec mora, versus amor fugit lentissima mersi

     pectora; Deucalion igne levatus erat.

hanc legem locus ille tenet. pete protinus altam

     Leucada nec saxo desiluisse time!”

Ut monuit, cum voce abiit. ego frigida surgo

     nec lacrimas oculi continuere mei.

ibimus, o nymphe, monstrataque saxa petemus;

     sit procul insano victus amore timor.

quidquid erit, melius quam nunc erit. aura, subito--

     et mea non magnum corpora pondus habent.

tu quoque, mollis Amor, pinnas suppone cadenti,

     ne sim Leucadiae mortua crimen aquae.

inde chelyn Phoebo, communia munera, ponam,

     et sub ea versus unus et alter erunt:

“grata lyram posui tibi, Phoebe, poetria Sappho:

     convenit illa mihi, convenit illa tibi.”

Cur tamen Actiacas miseram me mittis ad oras,

     cum profugum possis ipse referre pedem?

tu mihi Leucadia potes esse salubrior unda;

     et forma et meritis tu mihi Phoebus eris.

an potes, o scopulis undaque ferocior omni,

     si moriar, titulum mortis habere meae?

a quanto melius tecum mea pectora iungi,

     quam saxis poterant praecipitanda dari!

haec sunt illa, Phaon, quae tu laudare solebas

     visaque sunt totiens ingeniosa tibi.

nunc vellem facunda forem! dolor artibus obstat

     ingeniumque meis substitit omne malis.

non mihi respondent veteres in carmina vires;

     plectra dolore tacent muta, dolore lyra est.

Lesbides aequoreae, nupturaque nuptaque proles,

     Lesbides, Aeolia nomina dicta lyra,

Lesbides, infamem quae me fecistis amatae,

     desinite ad citharas turba venire meas!

abstulit omne Phaon, quod vobis ante placebat,

     me miseram! dixi quam modo paene: “meus.”

efficite ut redeat. vates quoque vestra redibit.

     ingenio vires ille dat, ille rapit.


[Sappho speaks:] Here I had laid my wearied limbs and given way to tears, when there stood before my eyes a Naiad. She stood before me, and said : “Since thou art burning with unrequited flame, Ambracia is the land thou needs must seek. There Phoebus from on high looks down on the whole wide stretch of sea—of Actium, the people call it, and Leucadian. From here Deucalion, inflamed with love for Pyrrha, cast himself down, and struck the waters with body all unharmed. At once the submerged man’s passion turned and fled from his tenacious breast, and Deucalion was freed from the fires of love. This is the law of yonder place. Go straightway seek the high Leucadian cliff, nor from it fear to leap!”

173 Her warning given, she ceased her speech, and vanished; in terror I arose, and my eyes could not keep back their tears. I shall go, O nymph, to seek out the cliff thou toldst of; away with fear—my maddening passion casts it out. Whatever shall be, better ‘twill be than now! Come, breeze, and bear up my body: it is no heavy weight. Do thou, too, tender Love, place thy pinions beneath me, lest I die and bring reproach on the Leucadian wave! Then will I consecrate to Phoebus my shell, our common boon, and under it shall be writ one verse, and a second:


181 Yet why do you send me to the shores of Actium, unhappy that I am, when you yourself could turn back your wandering steps? You can better help my state than the Leucadian wave; both in beauty and in kindness you will be a Phoebus to me. Or, if I perish, O more savage than any cliff or wave, can you endure the name of causing my death? Ah, how much better for my bosom to be pressed to yours than headlong to be hurled from the rocks! —the bosom, Phaon, of her whom you were wont to praise, and who so often seemed to you to have the gift of genius. Would I were eloquent now! Grief stops my art, and all my genius is halted by my woes. My old-time power in song will not respond to the call; my plectrum and my lyre lie silenced by my grief. Lesbian daughters of the wave, ye who are to wed and ye already wed, ye Lesbian daughters, whose names have been sung to the Aeolian lyre, ye Lesbian daughters whom I have loved to my reproach, cease, band of mine, to come to hear my shell! Phaon has swept away all that ye loved before—ah, wretched me, how nearly I came then to saying “my Phaon”! Accomplish his return; your singer, too, will then return. My genius had its powers from him; with him they were swept away.

[Trans. by Grant Showerman, 1914, rev. by G. P. Gould, 1977. LCL, 2nd ed. Text from Ovid lived 43 BC to 17 AD. (Though some argue that Ovid is not the author.) See Strabo Geography 10.2.9, above.]

44. Ovid Fasti 5.630

621 tum quoque priscorum virgo simulacra virorum

            mittere roboreo scirpea ponte solet.

625 fama vetus tunc, cum Saturnia terra vocata est,

            talia fatidici dicta fuisse Iovis:

            “falcifero libata seni duo corpora, gentes,

            mittite, quae Tuscis excipiantur aquis:”

donec in haec venit Tirynthius arva, quotannis

630      tristia Leucadio sacra peracta modo;

illum stramineos in aquam misisse Quirites:

            Herculis exemplo corpora falsa iaci.

pars putat, ut ferrent iuvenes suffragia soli,

            pontibus infirmos praecipitasse senes.

623 corpora post decies senos qui credidit annos

624      missa neci, sceleris crimine damnat avos.


Then, too, the Virgin is wont to throw the rush-made effigies of ancient men form the oaken bridge. There is an old tradition, that when the land was called Saturnia these words were spoken by soothsaying Jove: “Ye clans, cast into the water of the Tuscan river two bodies as a sacrifice to the Ancient who bears the sickle.” The gloomy rite was performed, so runs the tale, in the Leucadian manner every year, until the Tirynthian hero came to these fields; he cast men of straw into the water, and now dummies are thrown after the example set by Hercules. Some think that the young men used to hurl the feeble old men from the bridges, in order that they themselves alone should have the vote. He who believes that after sixty years men were put to death, accuses our forefathers of a wicked crime.

[Trans. and text from Frazer’s edition of the Fasti, vol. 1.]

45. Ovid Ibis 467-468

Aut te devoveat certis Abdera diebus
Saxaque devotum grandine plura petant.

Or may Abdera call curses upon thee on certain days, and stones more numerous than hail seek the object of their cursing.

[Trans. J. H. Mozley and G. P. Goold, LCL.]

Or may Abdera consecrate you on the ceremonial days
and stones thicker than hail seek you out as victim.

[My trans. For a full translation of the Ibis online, see]

46. Scholia on Ovid Ibis 467-468

“Aut te devoveat.” Mos erat in Abdera civitate singulis annis hominem inmolari pro peccatis ciuium, sed prius vii diebus excommunicari ut sic omnium peccata solus haberet.  [G]


Callimachus dicit quod Abdera est civitas in qua talis est mos, quod uno quoque anno totam ciuitatem publice lustrabant, et aliquem ciuium quem in illa die habebant deuotum pro capitibus omnium lapidibus occidebant. [C et Ask.]

Abderitae dicti sunt in uno quoque anno lustrasse se publice, et in his emptum hominem pro capitibus omnium deuotum lapidibus occidebant. [P.]

            Or may [Abdera] consecrate you.

It was the custom in the city of Abdera that every year a man would be sacrificed [inmolari] for the sins of the citizens [pro peccatis ciuium], but that seven days before he would be cast out [excommunicari] so that thus he alone would possess the sins [peccata] of everyone.


Callimachus says that Abdera is a city in which there is such a custom, that every year they would purify [lustrabant] that whole city in a public ceremony, and they killed [occidebant] with stones one of the citizens, whom they had consecrated [deuotum] on that day on behalf of all the citizens.


The citizens of Abdera are said to have purified themselves [lustrasse se] in a public rite every year, and in this festival they would kill [occidebant] with stones a man who had been bought and consecrated [deuotum] on behalf of all the citizens.


[My trans. Text from Robinson Ellis, P. Ovidii Nasonis Ibis; ex novis codicibus edidit, scholia vetera commentarium cum prolegomenis, appendice, indice addidit (Oxford 1881), 81. Cf. Hughes, Human Sacrifice in Ancient Greece, 157. See Callimachus on Abdera, above.]

47. Petronius, fr. 1 = Servius Commentaries on Virgil’s Aeneid 3.57

57. AVRI SACRA FAMES sacra ‘execrabilis.’ alii sacra ‘devota’ accipiunt, unde et ‘ver sacrum.’ alii ‘sacrum’ pro ‘scelestum,’ vel ‘sacrilegum.’ / AVRI SACRA FAMES execrabilis, ut (VI 573) sacrae panduntur portae.

tractus est autem sermo ex more Gallorum. nam Massilienses quotiens pestilentia laborabant, unus se ex pauperibus offerebat alendus anno integro publicis <sumptibus> et purioribus cibis. hic postea ornatus verbenis et vestibus sacris circumducebatur per totam civitatem cum exsecrationibus, ut in ipsum reciderent mala totius civitatis, et sic proiciebatur. hoc autem in Petronio lectum est.

“Sacred” means “accursed.” This expression is derived from a Gallic custom. For whenever the people of Massilia were suffering with pestilence, one of the poor would volunteer to be fed for an entire year out of public funds on food of special purity. After this period he would be decked with sacred herbs and sacred robes, and would be led through the whole state while people cursed him, in order that the sufferings [mala] of the whole state might fall upon him; and so he was cast out [proiciebatur]. This account has been given in Petronius.

[Trans. E. H. Warmington. Text from Arthur Frederick Stocker and Albert Hartman Travis, et al., Servianorum in Vergilii Carmina (Oxford 1965), 2.26. Petronius lived in the first century AD. See on Servius, below.]

48. Petronius Satyricon 107.5

[CVII] EVMOLPVS: “Me, ut puto, hominem non ignotum elegerunt ad hoc officium legatum, petieruntque ut se reconciliarem aliquando amicissimis. Nisi forte putatis iuvenes casu in has plagas incidisse, cum omnis vector nihil prius quaerat, quam cuius se diligentiae credat. Flectite ergo mentes satisfactione lenitas, et patimini liberos homines ire sine iniuria quo destinant. Saevi quoque implacabilesque domini crudelitatem suam impediunt, si quando paenitentia fugitivos reduxit, et dediticiis hostibus parcimus. Quid ultra petitis aut quid vultis? In conspectu vestro supplices iacent iuvenes ingenui, honesti, et quod utroque potentius est, familiaritate vobis aliquando coniuncti. Si mehercules intervertissent pecuniam vestram, si fidem proditione laesissent, satiari tamen potuissetis hac poena, quam videtis. Servitia ecce in frontibus cernitis et vultus ingenuos voluntaria poenarum lege proscriptos.” Interpellavit deprecationem supplicis Lichas et: “Noli, inquit, causam confundere, sed impone singulis modum. Ac primum omnium, si ultro venerunt, cur nudavere crinibus capita? Vultum enim qui permutat, fraudem parat, non satisfactionem. Deinde, si gratiam a legato moliebantur, quid ita omnia fecisti, ut quos tuebaris absconderes? Ex quo apparet casu incidisse noxios in plagas, et te artem quaesisse qua nostrae animadversionis impetum eluderes. Nam quod invidiam facis nobis ingenuos honestosque clamando, vide ne deteriorem facias confidentia causam. Quid debent laesi facere, ubi rei ad poenam confugiunt. At enim amici fuerunt nostri: eo maiora meruerunt supplicia; nam qui ignotos laedit, latro appellatur, qui amicos, paulo minus quam parricida.” Resolvit Eumolpos tam iniquam declamationem et: “Intellego, inquit, nihil magis obesse iuvenibus miseris, quam quod nocte deposuerunt capillos: hoc argumento incidisse videntur in navem, non venisse. Quod velim tam candide ad aures vestras perveniat, quam simpliciter gestum est. Voluerunt enim, antequam conscenderent, exonerare capita molesto et supervacuo pondere, sed celerior ventus distulit curationis propositum. Nec tamen putaverunt ad rem pertinere, ubi inciperent quod placuerat ut fieret, quia nec omen nec legem navigantium noverant. -- Quid, inquit Lichas, attinuit supplices radere? Nisi forte miserabiliores calvi solent esse. Quamquam quid attinet veritatem per interpretem quaerere? Quid dicis tu, latro? Quae salamandra supercilia tua excussit? Cui deo crinem vovisti? Pharmace, responde.”


Lichas, seeing Tryphaena eager as himself for revenge, ordered our punishment to be renewed and increased.


[CVII] On hearing this Eumolpus endeavored to mitigate his anger by the following speech: “The unhappy beings whose destruction your vengeance claims, imploring your compassion, Lichas, they have chosen me, as one not unknown to you, to the office of mediator, to reconcile them once more to those they formerly held so dear. You cannot really suppose the young men fell into this trap by mere chance; for surely the very first thing an intending passenger asks, is the name of the person he is to intrust his safety to. Relent then; be satisfied with the penalties already exacted and suffer free men to proceed to their destination without further injury. The harshest and most unforgiving of masters stay their cruelty, when slaves return home penitent; and do we not all of us spare enemies who surrender? What more do you want or desire? Prostrate before you lie these youths, men of birth and breeding though they be, and what is more than this, friends once bound to you in the ties of closest intimacy. Had they embezzled your money, had they betrayed your trust, by great Hercules! even then your resentment might be satisfied with the pains and penalties you behold. Lo! the marks of servitude upon their brows, and their faces--free men’s faces--wearing voluntarily the degrading badge of punishment!”


But Lichas cut short the plea of mercy. “Nay! you confuse the issue,” he interrupted; “you should keep each point separate and distinct. First of all, if they came here of their own free will, why did they shave their heads? The man who adopts a disguise is after no good, but is trying to deceive. Secondly, if they were seeking forgiveness and reconciliation through your good offices, why did you take every possible pains to keep your clients concealed? It is plain enough the culprits did fall into the trap accidentally, and that you are merely trying on an artful subterfuge to slip out of reach of our resentment.


“Then for your special pleading, your noisy claim about their being men of birth and breeding, have a care you don’t injure your case by over-confidence. Whatever is the injured party to do, when the guilty run blindly to their own punishment? But, you urge, they were our friends; the more thoroughly, I say, have they earned their chastisement. The man who wrongs mere strangers, is called a robber; he who betrays his friends, is little better than a murderer.”


Eumolpus, to rebut this damaging reasoning, replies, “There is nothing, I gather, tells more heavily against the unfortunate young men than the fact of their having cut off their hair by night; this is taken to prove they did not come on board voluntarily, but by mischance. I only trust my explanation may seem as simple and straightforward as the act itself was simply and innocently done. They purposed, before ever they embarked, to have eased their heads of an annoying and needless burden, but the wind springing up sooner than was expected forced them to put off their visit to the barber; nor did they for an instant imagine it mattered where they carried out the intention they had formed, knowing nothing of the omen involved or the rules aboard ship.”


“What made them take the guise of suppliants and shave their heads,” was Lichas’s only answer, “unless possibly because bald heads are more likely to win compassion? But there, what use trying to get at the truth through an interpreter? What have you to say for yourself, you thief [latro]? What salamander has burnt off your eyebrows? what god have you vowed your locks to? Answer me, villain [pharmace].”


[Trans. Alfred R. Allinson. Text from Petronius is only Latin writer to use the word pharmacus. For Petronius online, see]

49. Paul, 1 Corinthians 4.13.

IV. Οὕτως ἡμᾶς λογιζέσθω ἄνθρωπος ὡς ὑπηρέτας Χριστοῦ καὶ οἰκονόμους μυστηρίων θεοῦ.  [2] ὧδε λοιπὸν ζητεῖται ἐν τοῖς οἰκονόμοις ἵνα πιστός τις εὑρεθῇ.  [3] ἐμοὶ δὲ εἰς ἐλάχιστόν ἐστιν ἵνα ὑφ’ ὑμῶν ἀνακριθῶ ἢ ὑπὸ ἀνθρωπίνης ἡμέρας: ἀλλ’ οὐδὲ ἐμαυτὸν ἀνακρίνω: οὐδὲν γὰρ ἐμαυτῷ σύνοιδα,  [4] ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἐν τούτῳ δεδικαίωμαι, ὁ δὲ ἀνακρίνων με κύριός ἐστιν.  [5] ὥστε μὴ πρὸ καιροῦ τι κρίνετε, ἕως ἂν ἔλθῃ ὁ κύριος, ὃς καὶ φωτίσει τὰ κρυπτὰ τοῦ σκότους καὶ φανερώσει τὰς βουλὰς τῶν καρδιῶν, καὶ τότε ὁ ἔπαινος γενήσεται ἑκάστῳ ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ.  [6] Ταῦτα δέ, ἀδελφοί, μετεσχημάτισα εἰς ἐμαυτὸν καὶ Ἀπολλὼν δι’ ὑμᾶς, ἵνα ἐν ἡμῖν μάθητε τό Μὴ ὑπὲρ ἃ γέγραπται, ἵνα μὴ εἷς ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἑνὸς φυσιοῦσθε κατὰ τοῦ ἑτέρου.  [7] τίς γάρ σε διακρίνει; τί δὲ ἔχεις ὃ οὐκ ἔλαβες; εἰ δὲ καὶ ἔλαβες, τί καυχᾶσαι ὡς μὴ λαβών;  [8] ἤδη κεκορεσμένοι ἐστέ; ἤδη ἐπλουτήσατε; χωρὶς ἡμῶν ἐβασιλεύσατε; καὶ ὄφελόν γε ἐβασιλεύσατε, ἵνα καὶ ἡμεῖς ὑμῖν συνβασιλεύσωμεν.  [9] δοκῶ γάρ, ὁ θεὸς ἡμᾶς τοὺς ἀποστόλους ἐσχάτους ἀπέδειξεν ὡς ἐπιθανατίους, ὅτι θέατρον ἐγενήθημεν τῷ κόσμῳ καὶ ἀγγέλοις καὶ ἀνθρώποις.  [10] ἡμεῖς μωροὶ διὰ Χριστόν, ὑμεῖς δὲ φρόνιμοι ἐν Χριστῷ: ἡμεῖς ἀσθενεῖς, ὑμεῖς δὲ ἰσχυροί: ὑμεῖς ἔνδοξοι, ἡμεῖς δὲ ἄτιμοι.  [11] ἄχρι τῆς ἄρτι ὥρας καὶ πεινῶμεν καὶ διψῶμεν καὶ  [12] γυμνιτεύομεν καὶ κολαφιζόμεθα καὶ ἀστατοῦμεν καὶ κοπιῶμεν ἐργαζόμενοι ταῖς ἰδίαις χερσίν: λοιδορούμενοι εὐλογοῦμεν, διωκόμενοι ἀνεχόμεθα,  [13] δυσφημούμενοι παρακαλοῦμεν:  [p. 383] ὡς περικαθάρματα τοῦ κόσμου ἐγενήθημεν, πάντων περίψημα, ἕως ἄρτι.  [14] Οὐκ ἐντρέπων ὑμᾶς γράφω ταῦτα,  [15] ἀλλ’ ὡς τέκνα μου ἀγαπητὰ νουθετῶν: ἐὰν γὰρ μυρίους παιδαγωγοὺς ἔχητε ἐν Χριστῷ, ἀλλ’ οὐ πολλοὺς πατέρας, ἐν γὰρ Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ διὰ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου ἐγὼ ὑμᾶς ἐγέννησα.  [16] παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, μιμηταί μου γίνεσθε. Διὰ τοῦτο ἔπεμψα ὑμῖν Τιμόθεον,  [17] ὅς ἐστίν μου τέκνον ἀγαπητὸν καὶ πιστὸν ἐν κυρίῳ, ὃς ὑμᾶς ἀναμνήσει τὰς ὁδούς μου τὰς ἐν Χριστῷ [Ἰησοῦ], καθὼς πανταχοῦ ἐν πάσῃ ἐκκλησίᾳ διδάσκω.  [18] Ὡς μὴ ἐρχομένου δέ  [19] μου πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐφυσιώθησάν τινες: ἐλεύσομαι δὲ ταχέως πρὸς ὑμᾶς, ἐὰν ὁ κύριος θελήσῃ, καὶ γνώσομαι οὐ τὸν λόγον τῶν πεφυσιωμένων ἀλλὰ τὴν δύναμιν,  [20] οὐ γὰρ ἐν λόγῳ ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ ἀλλ’ ἐν δυνάμει.  [21] τί θέλετε; ἐν ῥάβδῳ ἔλθω πρὸς ὑμᾶς, ἢ ἐν ἀγάπῃ πνεύματί τε πραΰτητος;

IV. So let a man think of us as Christ’s servants, and stewards of God’s mysteries.  [2]  Here, moreover, it is required of stewards, that they be found faithful.  [3]  But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you, or by man’s judgment. Yes, I don’t judge my own self.  [4]  For I know nothing against myself. Yet I am not justified by this, but he who judges me is the Lord.  [5]  Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each man will get his praise from God.  [6]  Now these things, brothers, I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you might learn not to think beyond the things which are written, that none of you be puffed up against one another.  [7]  For who makes you different? And what do you have that you didn’t receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?  [8]  You are already filled. You have already become rich. You have come to reign without us. Yes, and I wish that you did reign, that we also might reign with you.  [9]  For, I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last of all, like men sentenced to death. For we are made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and men.  [10]  We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You have honor, but we have dishonor.  [11]  Even to this present hour we hunger, thirst, are naked, are beaten [kolaphizometha], and have no certain dwelling place.  [12]  We toil, working with our own hands. Being reviled [loidoroumenoi], we bless. Being persecuted, we endure.  [13]  Being defamed [dusphēmoumenoi], we entreat. We are made as the filth [perikatharmata] of the world, the dirt wiped [peripsēma] off by all, even until now.  [14]  I don’t write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children.  [15]  For though you have ten thousand tutors in Christ, yet not many fathers. For in Christ Jesus, I became your father through the gospel.  [16]  I beg you therefore, be imitators of me.  [17]  Because of this I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, even as I teach everywhere in every assembly.  [18]  Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you.  [19]  But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord is willing. And I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power.  [20]  For the Kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.  [21]  What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?

[Trans. from Rainbow Missions, Inc. World English Bible. Rainbow Missions, Inc.; revision of the American Standard Version of 1901. Text and trans. from Perseus. Gebhard #24, in the category “Pharmakos and katharma as words of abuse.”]

50. Herennius Philo / “Ammonius” 142 Valckenaer,

φαρμακεύς. φαρμακὸς δὲ ὀξυτόνως, ὁ ἐπὶ καθάρσει τῆς πόλεως ῥιπτόμενος.

pharmakeus. And pharmakos, with an acute accent, he who is cast out [rhiptomenos] to purify the city.

[Gebhard #28, in the category, “Grammatical Witnesses.” Hughes, Human Sacrifice in Ancient Greece, 154, cites this: “‘Ammonius’ (A Byzantine edition of Herrenius Philo, c. AD 100)”. Herennius Philo was born 42 AD.]

51. Arrian, Epicteti dissert. III, 22, 78 (Bd. I, S. 205 Didotausgabe): (Der homerische Priamos)

πεντήκοντα γεννήσις περικαθάρματα.

[Gebhard #25, in the category “Pharmakos and katharma as words of abuse.” Arrian lived AD 86-160.]

52. Ptolemaeus Chennus, New History 7, summarized in Photius Bibliotheca 190

Ὡς ἡ Λευκὰς πέτρα ἀπὸ Λεύκου τοῦ Ὀδυσσέως ἑταίρου τὴν κλῆσιν έλαβεν, ὃς Ζακύνθιος μὲν γένος ἦν, ἀνῃρέθη δ’, ὥς φησιν ὁ ποιητής, ὑπ’ Ἀντίφου·  τοῦτον ἱδρύσασθαι φασι καὶ ἱερὸν Λευκάτου Ἀπόλλωνος.  Τοὺς μὲν οὖν καθαλλομένους ἀπὸ τῆς πέτρας παύεσθαί φασι τοῦ ἔρωτος.  Καὶ ἡ αἰτία·  μετὰ τὸν Ἀδώνιδός φασι θάνατον περιερχομένη καὶ ζητοῦσα ἡ Ἀφροδίτη εὗρεν αυτὸν ἐν Ἄργει πόλει τῆς Κύπρου ἐν τῷ τοῦ Ἐριθίου Ἀπόλλωνος ἱερῷ, καὶ ανεῖλεν αὐτόν, ἀνακοινωσαμένη Απόλλωνι καὶ τὸν περὶ Ἀδώνιδος ἔρωτα.  Ὁ δ’ Ἀπόλλων ἀγαγὼν αὐτὴν ἐπὶ τὴν Λευκάδα πέτραν προσέταξε ῥῖψαι κατὰ τῆς πέτρας·  δὲ ἑαυτὴν ῥίψασα ἐπαύσατο τοῦ ἔρωτος.  Ζητούσης δὲ τὴν αἰτίαν ἐιπεῖν λέγεται τὸν Ἀπόλλωνα, ὡς μάντις ὢν ἐγνώσκει διότι ὁ Ζεύς, ἀεὶ ἐρῶν Ἥρας, ἐρχόμενος ἐπὶ τῇ πέτρᾳ ἐκαθέζετο καὶ ἀναπαύετο τοῦ ἔρωτος.

Καὶ πολλοὶ δὲ ἄλλοι καὶ πολλαὶ ἔρωτι κάμνουσαι ἀπηλλάγησαν τοῦ ἔρωτος, ἐπεὶ τῆς πέτρας καθήλαντο.  Ὡς καὶ Ἀρτεμισία ἡ Λυγδάμιδος, ἡ τῷ Πέρσῃ συστρατεύσασα, ἐρασθεῖσα Δαρδάνου Ἀβυδηνοῦ καὶ ὑπερορωμένη ἐκκόψειε τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς κοιμωμένου, τῆς δ’ ἐπιθυμίας κατὰ θεῶν μῆνιν ἐπιταθείσης, πορευθεῖσα κατὰ χρησμὸν εἰς Λευκάδα ἔρριψεν ἑαυτὴν κατὰ τῆς πέτρας καὶ ἀναιρεθεῖσα ἐτάφη.  Καὶ Ἱππομέδοντά φησιν Ἐπιδάμνιον, παιδὸς ἐγχωρίου ἐρασθέντα καὶ μὴ τυγχάνοντα, ὅτι πρὸς ἕτερον κλίνειεν, ἀνελεῖν, εἰς δὲ τὴν Λευκάδα παραγενόμενον καὶ ῥίψαντα ἑαυτὸν ἀποθανεῖν.  Καὶ Νικόστρατον δὲ τὸν κωμικὸν Τετριγιδαίας τῆς Μυριναίας ἐρασθέντα ῥῖψαι ἑαυτὸν καὶ ἀπαλλαγῆναι τοῦ ἔρωτος.  Μάκητα δέ φασι τὸν Βουθρώτιον Λευκοπέτραν ἐπικληθῆναι διότι τετράκις αὑτὸν καταβαλὼν τῶν ἐρωτικῶν κακώσεων ἀπαλλάττοιτο.

καὶ πλῆθος ἄλλο οὕτως ἀπαλλαγῆναι λέγεται. Καὶ Βουλαγόραν δὲ τὸν Φαναγορίτην ἐρασθέντα Διοδώρου τοῦ αὐλητοῦ, καταβαλόντα αὑτὸν ἀναιρεθῆναι γηραιὸν ἤδη ὄντα.  Ἀναιρεθῆναι δὲ καὶ Ῥοδόπην Ἀμισηνὴν καταβαλοῦσαν ἑαυτήν, διδύμων παίδων σωματοφυλάκων Ἀντιόχου τοῦ βασιλέως ἐρασθεῖσαν, οἷς ὀνόματα Ἀντιφῶν καὶ Κῦρος.  Χαρῖνος δὲ ἰαμβογράφος ἠράσθη Ἔρωτος εὐνούχου τοῦ Εὐπάτορος οἰνοχόου, καὶ πιστεύσας τῷ περὶ τῆς πέτρας λόγῳ κατέβαλεν ἑαυτόν·  ἐπεὶ δὲ καταβαλὼν τὸ σκέλος κατεάγη καὶ ὑπὸ ὀδύνης ἐτελεύτα, ἀπέρριψε τάδε τὰ ἰαμβεῖα·

            ἔρροις πλανῆτι καὶ κακὴ πέτρη Λευκάς,

            Χαρῖνον, αἲ, αἴ, τὴν ἰαμβικὴν Μοῦσαν

            κατῃθάλωσας ἐλπίδος κενοῖς μύθοις.

            τοιαῦτ’ Ἔρωτος Εὐπάτωρ ἐρασθείη.


Νιρεὺς δὲ Καταναῖος ἠράσθη τῆς Ἀττικῆς Ἀθηναίας, καὶ ἐλθὼν κατέβαλεν ἑαυτὸν ἀπὸ τῆς πέτρας, καὶ ἀπελύθη τοῦ διοχλοῦντος·  πεσὼν δ’ οὖν, εἰς δίκτυον ἐνέπεσεν ἁλιέως ἐν ᾧ ἀνειλκύσθη σὺν κιβωτῷ χρυσίου·  ἐπεδικάζετο δὲ πρὸς τὸν ἁλιέα περὶ τοῦ χρυσίου, ἀλλ’ ὁ Ἀπόλλων νυκτερινῇ ὄψει ἀπέστησεν αὐτὸν τοῦ ἐπιδικάζεσθαι δέον εὐχαριστεῖν ὐπὲρ τῆς ἀπαλλαγῆς, ἀπειλησάμενος, ἀλλὰ μὴ καὶ ἀλλότριον περιεργάζεσθαι χρυσίον.


The rock of Leucade received its name from Leucos, the companion of Odysseus, who was originally from Zacynthos and who was, says the Poet, killed by Antiphos; this is the person, it is said, who raised the temple of Apollo Leukates.  Thus those who dive from the top of the rock were, it is said, freed from their love and for this reason: after the death of Adonis, Aphrodite, it is said, wandered around searching for him. She found him in Argos, a town of Cyprus, in the sanctuary of Apollo Erithios and took him, after having told Apollo in confidence the secret of her love for Adonis. And Apollo brought her to the rock of Leucade and ordered her to throw herself from the top of the rock; she did so and was freed from her love. When she sought the reason of this, Apollo told her, it is said, in his capacity as a seer [mantis], he knew that Zeus, always enamoured of Hera, had sat on this rock and been delivered from his love.

And many others, men and women, suffering from the evil of love, were delivered from their passion in jumping from the top of the rock, such as Artemesa, daughter of Lygdamis, who made war with Persia; enamoured of Dardarnus of Abydos and scorned, she scratched out his  eyes while he slept but as her love increased under the inflence of divine anger, she came to Leucade at the instruction of an oracle, threw herself from the top of the rock, killed herself and was buried. Hippomedon of Epidamnos, says the author, was enamoured of a young boy of his land and, unable to obtain any success as the boy had a penchant for another, he killed him, then went to Leucade, jumped and killed himself. And the comic poet Nicostratus, in love with Tetigidaia of Mirina, jumped and was cured of his love. Maces of Buthrotum was, it is said, surnamed “White rock” because he had been cured of the evils of love after he jumped from the rock four times.

A crowd of other people pass to be relieved in this way. Boulagoras the Phanagorite, enamoured of the flutist Diodorus, threw himself from the rock and was killed at an advanced age. Rhodope of Amisene killed herself also in jumping for the love of two twin lads who belonged to the guards of king Antiochus and were called Antiphon and Cyrus. And Charinus, an iambic poet, was in love with the eunuch Eros, Eupator’s butler; trusting the legend of the rock he jumped, broke his leg, and died of pain while making these iambics:

    “To the devil with you, deceptive and murderous rock of Leukos!
    Charinus, alas! alas! this iambic muse,
    You have turned to cinders by your vain words of hope.
    Can Eupator suffer so much for Eros.

And Nireus of Catana, in love with Athena of Athens, came to the rock and jumped and was delivered of his pain.  In jumping he fell into the net of a fisherman in which when he was pulled out was also found a box filled with gold.  He went to law with the fisherman for the gold, but Apollo appeared to him in the night in a dream and told him to desist since he should give thanks for his safety and he threatened him; it was not right in addition to try to appropriate gold which belonged to others. 

[Trans. from, adapted. Text from René Henry, ed., Photius Bibliothèque, 9 vols. (Paris: Budé, 1977), vol. 3:70-72. Ptolemaeus fl. c. 100 AD.]

53. Plutarch Table-Talk 6.8 (693e-f)

Θυσία τις ἔστι πάτριος, ἣν ὁ μὲν ἄρχων ἐπὶ τῆς κοινῆς ἑστίας δρᾷ τῶν δ’ ἄλλων ἕκαστος ἐπ’ οἴκου·  καλεῖται δὲ “βουλίμου ἐξέλασις”·  καὶ τῶν οἰκετῶν ἕνα τύπτοντες αγνίναις ῥάβδοις διὰ θυρῶν ἐξελαύνουσιν, ἐπιλέγοντες “ἔξω Βούλιμον ἔσω δὲ Πλοῦτον καὶ Ὑγίειαν.” ἄρχοντος οὖν ἐμοῦ πλείονες ἐκοινώνουν τῆς θυσίας·  κᾆθ’ ὡς ἐποιήσαμεν τὰ νενομισμένα καὶ πάλιν κατεκλίνημεν, ἐζητεῖτο πρῶτον ὑπὲρ αὐτοῦ τοῦ ὀνόματος, ἔπειτα τῆς φωνῆς ἣν ἐπιλέγουσι τῷ διωκομένῳ, μάλιστα δ’ ὑπὲρ τοῦ πάθους καὶ τῶν κατ’ αὐτὸ γιγνομένων.

The cause of bulimy[6]
Speakers : Plutarch, Soclarus, Cleomenes and others

1. There is a traditional rite of sacrifice, which the archon performs at the public hearth but everyone else at home, called the driving out of hunger [boulimou exelasis]. They strike one of the servants with wands of agnus castus and drive him out of doors, chanting, “Out with Hunger [Boulimon], in with Wealth and Health.” When I was archon,[7] a larger number than usual participated in the public rite. After we had completed the ritual acts and returned to our places at table we discussed first the term bulimy (bulimos), then the formula which they repeat as the servant is driven out, and especially the affliction itself and the particulars of a case of it. The name, we thought, signified a great or general famine, especially among us Aeolians who, in our dialect, use p for b; we pronounce not bulimos but pulimos as if to say polys limos (famine multiplied). We decided that bubrostis (ravenous appetite) is different, on the evidence of Metrodorus’s[8] History of Ionia.[9] Metrodorus records that the people of Smyrna, originally Aeolians, sacrifice to Bubrostis a black bull, which they cut up and burn entirely, hide and all, on the altar. Now, since any kind of starvation, and particularly bulimy, resembles a disease, inasmuch as it occurs when the body has been affected by an unnatural condition, people quite reasonably contrast it with the normal state, as they do want with wealth and disease with health. Nausea got its name with reference to those whose stomachs are upset on a ship (naus) at sea, but by dint of usage the term is now applied to any similar case of upset, no matter how it comes about.

[Trans. and notes by Paul A. Clement and Herbert B. Hoffleit, LCL, Putarch Moralia vol. VIII, adapted. Text from same volume. Another trans. in  The rite is discussed in Jane Harrison, Ancient Art and Ritual [1913], chapter 4, at] [Plutarch lived c. 50-120 AD.]

54. Plutarch Sulla 33.2

καὶ λυρῳδοῖς καὶ μίμοις καὶ καθάρμασιν.

33 But besides his massacres, the rest of Sulla’s proceedings also gave offence. For he proclaimed himself dictator, reviving this particular office after a lapse of a hundred and twenty years. Moreover, an act was passed granting him immunity for all his past acts, and for the future, power of life and death, of confiscation, of colonization, of founding or demolishing cities, and of taking away or bestowing kingdoms at his pleasure. [2] He conducted the sales of confiscated estates in such arrogant and imperious fashion, from the tribunal where he sat, that his gifts excited more odium than his robberies. He bestowed on handsome women, musicians, comic actors, and the lowest of freedmen [katharmasin], the territories of nations and the revenues of cities, and women were married against their will to some of his favourites.

[Trans. Bernadotte Perrin, from LCL. Text from Gebhard #26, in the category “Pharmakos and katharma as words of abuse.”]

55. Arcadius, de accentibus, ed. Barker, S. 51, 10:

φαρμακὸς ὁ ἐπὶ καθαρμῷ τῆς πόλεως τελευτῶν, φαρμακεὺς δὲ ὁ γόης.

Pharmakos is he who dies for the purification of the city, but pharmakeus is the sorceror.

[My trans. Text from Gebhard #29, in the category, “Grammatical Witnesses.” Arcadius lived after 200 AD.]

56. Herodian, ed. Lentz I, 150, 3 u. 4:

φαρμακὸς ἐπὶ καθαρμῷ τῆς πόλεως τελευτῶν, φαρμακὸς δὲ γόης.

pharmakós is he who dies for the purification of the city, but phármakos is the sorceror.

[My trans. Text from Gebhard #30, in the category, “Grammatical Witnesses.” Herodian lived in the time of Marcus Aurelius, 121-180 AD. Hughes, Human Sacrifice in Ancient Greece, 154, cites this: “Herodian s.v. pharmakos, in ‘Arkadius’, p. 51 Barker.”]

57. Philostratus Life of Apollonius 4.10

. . . ἐπεὶ δὲ ἡ νόσος τοῖς Ἐφησίοις ἐνέπεσε καὶ οὐδὲν ἦν πρὸς αὐτὴν αὔταρκες, ἐπρεσβεύοντο παρὰ τὸν Ἀπολλώνιον, ἰατρὸν ποιούμενοι αὐτὸν τοῦ πάθους . . .


ξυναγαγὼν οὖν τοὺς Ἐφεσίους, “θαρσεῖτε,” ἔφη “τήμερον γὰρ παύσω τὴν νόσον,” καὶ εἰπὼν ἦγεν ἡλικίαν πᾶσαν ἐπὶ τὸ θέατρον, οὗ τὸ τοῦ Ἀποτροπαίου ἵδρυται.  πτωχεύειν δέ τις ἐνταῦθα ἐδόκει γέρων ἐπιμύων τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς τέχνῃ, καὶ πήραν ἔφερε καὶ ἄρτου ἐν αὐτῇ τρύφος, ῥάκεσί τε ἠμφίεστο καὶ αὐχμηρῶς εἶχε τοῦ προσώπου.  περιστήσας οὖν τοὺς Ἐφεσίους αὐτῷ, “βάλλετε τὸν θεοῖς ἐχθρὸν” εἶπε “ξυλλεξάμενοι τῶν λίθων ὡς πλείστους.” 


θαυμαζόντων δὲ τῶν Ἐφεσίων, ὅ τι λέγοι, καὶ δεινὸν ἡγουμένων, εἰ ξένον ἀποκτενοῦσιν ἀθλίως οὕτω πράττοντα, καὶ γὰρ ἱκέτευε καὶ πολλὰ ἐπὶ ἐλέῳ ἔλεγεν, ἐνέκειτο παρακελευόμενος τοῖς Ἐφεσίοις ἐρείδειν τε καὶ μὴ ανιέναι.  ὡς δὲ ἀκροβολισμῷ τινες ἐπ’ αὐτῷ ἐχρήσαντο καὶ ὁ καταμύειν δοκῶν ἀνέβλεψεν ἀθρόον πυρός τε μεστοὺς τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ἔδειξε, ξυνῆκαν οἱ Ἐφέσιοι τοῦ δαίμονος καὶ κατελίθωσαν οὕτως αὐτόν, ὡς κολωνὸν λίθων περὶ αὐτὸν χώσασθαι.


διαλιπὼν δὲ ὀλίγον ἐκέλευσεν ἀφελεῖν τοὺς λίθους, καὶ τὸ θηρίον, ὃ ἀπεκτόνασι, γνῶναι.  γυμνωθέντος οὖν τοῦ βεβλῆσθαι δοκοῦντος, ὁ μὲν ἠφάνιστο, κύων δὲ τὸ μὲν εἶδος ὅμοιος τῷ ἐκ Μολοττῶν, μέγεθος δὲ κατὰ τὸν μέγιστον λέοντα, ξυντετριμμένος ὤφθη ὑπὸ τῶν λίθων καὶ παραπτύων ἀφρόν, ὥσπερ οἱ λυττῶντες.  τὸ μὲν δὴ τοῦ Ἀποτροπαίου ἕδος, ἔστι δὲ Ἡρακλῆς, ἵδρυται περὶ τὸ χωρίον, ἐν ᾧ τὸ φάσμα ἐβλήθη.


[§10] With such harangues as these he knit together the people of Smyrna; but when the plague began to rage in Ephesus, and no remedy sufficed to check it, they sent a deputation to Apollonius, asking him to become physician of their infirmity; and he thought that he ought not to postpone his journey, but said: “Let us go.”


And forthwith he was in Ephesus, performing the same feat, I believe, as Pythagoras, who was in Thurii and Metapontum at one and the same moment. He therefore called together the Ephesians, and said: “Take courage, for I will today put a stop to the course of the disease.”


And with these words he led the population entire to the the theater, where the image of the Averting god has been set up [after this incident]. And there he saw what seemed an old mendicant artfully blinking his eyes as if blind, as he carried a wallet and a crust of bread in it; and he was clad in rags and was very squalid of countenance. Apollonius therefore ranged the Ephesians around him and said: “Pick up as many stones as you can and hurl them at this enemy of the gods.”


Now the Ephesians wondered what he meant, and were shocked at the idea of murdering a stranger so manifestly miserable; for he was begging and praying them to take mercy upon him. Nevertheless Apollonius insisted and egged on the Ephesians to launch themselves on him and not let him go. And as soon as some of them began to take shots and hit him with their stones, the beggar who had seemed to blink and be blind, gave them all a sudden glance and his eyes were full of fire. Then the Ephesians recognized that he was a demon, and they stoned him so thoroughly that their stones were heaped into a great cairn around him.


After a little pause Apollonius bade them remove the stones and acquaint themselves with the wild animal they had slain. When therefore they had exposed the object which they thought they had thrown their missiles at, they found that he had disappeared and instead of him there was a hound who resembled in form and look a Molossian dog, but was in size the equal of the largest lion; there he lay before their eyes, pounded to a pulp by their stones and vomiting foam as mad dogs do. Accordingly the statue of the Averting god, Heracles, has been set up over the spot where the ghost was slain.


[Trans. F.C. Conybeare. Text from Vroni Mumprecht, ed. and tr., Philostratus Das Leben des Apollonios von Tyana (Munich: Artemis Verlag, 1983). Apollonius of Tyana was born about the beginning of the Christian era, and died in the time of Nerva. Philostratus lived c. 170 to c. 245 AD. For the statue of Heracles, see Lactantius Divine Institutions 5.3.14.]

58. Aelian On Animals 11.8

ἐν δὲ τῇ Λευκάδι ἄκρα μέν ἐστιν ὑψηλή, νεὼς δὲ Ἀπόλλωνι ἵδρυται, καὶ Ἄκτιόν γε αὐτὸν οἱ τιμῶντες ὀνομάζουσιν.  οὐκοῦν τῆς πανηγύρεως ἐπιδημεῖν μελλούσης, καθ’ ἣν καὶ τὸ πήδημα πηδῶσι τῷ θεῳ, θύουσι βοῦν ταῖς μυίαις, αἱ δὲ εμπλησθεῖσαι τοῦ αἵματος ἀφανίζονται.

And in the island of Leucas there is a high promontory on which a temple of Apollo has been built, and worshippers style him Apollo of Actium. Now when the festival is about to be held there in which they make the Leap in honour of the god, men sacrifice an ox to the flies, and when the latter have sated themselves with the blood they disappear. Yes, but they are bribed to depart, whereas the flies at Pisa need no bribe.

[Trans. and text from A. F. Scholfield, LCL. Aelian (Claudius Aelianus) lived c. 170-235 AD.]

59. Harpocration, s.v. pharmakos

Λυσίας ἐν τῷ κατ’ Ἀνδοκίδου ἀσεβείας, εἰ γνήσιος·  δύο ἄνδρας ἐξῆγον καθάρσια ἐσομένους τῆς πόλεως ἐν τοῖς Θαργηλίοις, ἕνα μὲν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀνδρῶν, ἕνα δὲ ὑπὲρ τῶν γυναικῶν.  ὅτι δὲ ὄνομα κύριόν ἐστιν ὁ Φαρμακὸς, ἱερὰς δὲ φιάλας τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος κλέψας ἁλοὺς ὑπὸ τῶν περὶ τὸν Ἀχιλλέα κατελεύσθη, καὶ τὰ τοῖς Θαργηλίοις ἀγόμενα τούτων ἀπομιμήματά ἐστιν, Ἴστρος ἐν α’ τῶν Απόλλωνος ἐπιφανειῶν εἴρηκεν.  Δημοσθένους δ’ ἐν τῷ κατ’ Ἀριστογείτονος λέγοντος  οὗτος οὖν αὐτὸν ἐξαιρήσεται ὁ φαρμακός.”  Δίδυμος προπερισπᾶν ἀξιοῖ τοὔνομα, ἀλλ’ ἡμεῖς οὐχ εὕρομεν οὕτω που τὴν χρῆσιν.

Pharmakos. Lysias in the Aganst Andocides’ Impiety, if the speech is genuine. In Athens they used to lead out two men to be purifications [katharsia] of the city during the Thargelia, one on behalf of the men, the other on behalf of the women. But that Pharmakos is a proper name and that he stole the sacred bowls of Apollo, was caught by the companions of Achilles, and was stoned to death, and that the things performed at the Thargelia are imitations [apomimēmata] of these events, Istros has said in the first book of the Manifestations of Apollo. And although Demosthenes in the Against Aristogeiton says “So this is the man who will win his pardon, the pharmakos,” Didymus thinks that the word should be circumflexed on the penultimate; but we have not found such usage anywhere.

[Tr. Dennis D. Hughes, Human Sacrifice in Ancient Greece, 152. Text from G. Dindorf, ed., Harpocration Lexicon in Decem Oratores Atticos, 2 vols. (Oxford 1853), 1:298-299. Harpocration lived in the first or second century AD. ]

60. Lucius Ampelius Book of Memory 8.4

in summo monte fanum est, ubi sacra fiunt. Et, cum homo inde desiluit, statim excipitur lintribus.


[In the island of Leucas, the cliff Leucates] At the top of the mountain is a temple, where a festival takes place. And, when a man jumped down from it, he was immediately taken up by boats.


[My trans. Text from Hughes, Human Sacrifice in Ancient Greece, 161. Ampelius has been dated to the third or fourth century AD.]

61. Servius Commentaries on Virgil Aeneid 3.57 = Petronius, fr. 1

57. AVRI SACRA FAMES sacra ‘execrabilis.’ alii sacra ‘devota’ accipiunt, unde et ‘ver sacrum.’ alii ‘sacrum’ pro ‘scelestum,’ vel ‘sacrilegum.’ / AVRI SACRA FAMES execrabilis, ut (VI 573) sacrae panduntur portae.

tractus est autem sermo ex more Gallorum. nam Massilienses quotiens pestilentia laborabant, unus se ex pauperibus offerebat alendus anno integro publicis <sumptibus> et purioribus cibis. hic postea ornatus verbenis et vestibus sacris circumducebatur per totam civitatem cum exsecrationibus, ut in ipsum reciderent mala totius civitatis, et sic proiciebatur. hoc autem in Petronio lectum est.

“Sacred” means “accursed.” This expression is derived from a Gallic custom. For whenever the people of Massilia were burdened with pestilence, one of the poor would volunteer to be fed for an entire year out of public funds on food of special purity. After this period he would be decked with sacred herbs and sacred robes, and would be led through the whole state while people cursed him, in order that the sufferings of the whole state might fall upon him; and so he was cast out. This account has been given in Petronius.

[Trans. E. H. Warmington. Text from Arthur Frederick Stocker and Albert Hartman Travis, et al., Servianorum in Vergilii Carmina (Oxford 1965), 3.26. Servius lived in the 4th century AD. Text from Virgil: Quid non mortalia pectora cogis, / auri sacra fames? That king, when Ilium's cause was ebbing low, / and fortune frowned, gave o'er his plighted faith / to Agamemnon's might and victory; / he scorned all honor and did murder foul / on Polydorus, seizing lawlessly / on all the gold. O, whither at thy will, / curst greed of gold, may mortal hearts be driven? Trans. Theodore Williams, text and translation from Perseus.]

62. Servius Commentaries on Virgil Aeneid 3.274

LEVCATAE MONTIS Leucata est mons altissimus, prope paeninsula, in promontorio Epiri iuxta Ambraciam, et sinum et civitatem, // LEVCATAE NIMBOSA CACVMINA MONTIS Leucata mons est altissimus, in promontorio Epiri iuxta Ambraciam civitatem,

quam Augustus Nicopolim appellavit victis illic Antonio et Cleopatra. ibi et templum Actiaco Apollini constituit et ludos Actiacos. unde nunc Vergilius in honorem Augusti quae ipse fecit dat eius origini; nam Aeneam illic dicit ludos celebrasse, ut alibi inducit Aeneam templum promittentem Apollini, quod fecisse constat Augustum, ut (VI 69) tum Phoebo et Triviae solido de marmore templum constituam.

sane de hoc Leucate amatores se in mare ad excludendum amorem praecipitare dicebantur, ut Sappho † quae his inde desiluit. hic locus vocatur † allo. hoc autem plenius ubi Damon in Bucolicis (VIII 59) loquitur invenies. NIMBOSA CACVMINA semper enim, quamvis aliis caeli partibus serenis, Leucatae montis cacumen nubibus tectum est.

Leucata is a towering mountain, nearly a peninsula, in the promontory of Epirus near Ambracia, and a bay and a city, // Leucata is a towering mountain, in the promontory of Epirus near the city Ambracia,

which Augustus named Nicopolis after Antony and Cleopatra were conquered there. And he built a temple to Actaean Apollo there and the Actaean games . . .

Doubtless lovers were said to throw themselves down into the sea from this Leucas to extinguish love, as Sappho, who jumped down from here [?]. . . .

[Text from Arthur Frederick Stocker and Albert Hartman Travis, et al., Servianorum in Vergilii Carmina (Oxford 1965), 3.108-109.]  [The Virgil passage: Mox et Leucatae nimbosa cacumina montis / 275 / et formidatus nautis aperitur Apollo. / Hunc petimus fessi et parvae succedimus urbi; / ancora de prora iacitur, stant litore puppes.  nigh hoar Leucate's clouded crest we drew, / where Phoebus' temple, feared by mariners, loomed o'er us; thitherward we steered and reached / the little port and town. Our weary fleet / dropped anchor, and lay beached along the strand. Trans. Theodore Williams, text and translation from Perseus.]

63. Servius at Virgil Aeneid 3.279

VOTISQVE INCENDIMVS ARAS id est vota facientes. dubitatur vero utrum Iovis aras an Veneris dixerit. Varro enim templum Veneri ab Aenea conditum, ubi nunc Leucas est, dicit, quamvis Menander et Turpilius comici a Phaone Lesbio id templum conditum dicunt. qui cum esset navicularius, solitus a Lesbo in continentem proximos quosque mercede transvehere, Venerem mutatam in anuis formam gratis travexit. quapropter ab ea donatus unguenti alabastro, cum se † in dies inditum ungueret, feminas in sui amorem trahebat; in quis fuit una quae de monte Leucate, cum potiri eius nequiret, abiecisse se dicitur. unde nunc auctorare se quotannis solent qui de eo monte iaciantur in pelagus. quidam id fieri propter Leucaten puerum dicunt, quem cum Apollo vellet rapere, in mare se proiecit, montemque cognominem sibi fecit.

[We kindled the altars with vows] That is, they were making vows. It is uncertain whether he speaks of altars of Jupiter or of Venus. For Varro says that there was a temple to Venus built by Aeneas where Leucas is now, although the comic writers Menander and Turpilius say that that temple was built by Lesbian Phaon. He, when he was a sailor, used to transport a few of his neighbors from Lesbos to the continent, and he transported Venus, who had changed into the form of an old woman, for free. Because of this, she gave him a box with salve in it, and when he would apply the salve to himself [by day?], he would cause women to love him; among whom was one woman who, it is said, threw herself from the Leucadian mountain when she was unable to make him love her in return. Because of this event, now they are accustomed to hire themselves out every year, those who are thrown from that mountain into the ocean. Some say this rite is practiced because of a boy named Leucates [?], whom, when Apollo wished to possess him, threw himself into the ocean, and gave the mountain its name.

[Text from Arthur Frederick Stocker and Albert Hartman Travis, et al., Servianorum in Vergilii Carmina (Oxford 1965), 3.111-112. Vergil’s text: Ergo insperata tandem tellure potiti, / lustramurque Iovi votisque incendimus aras, / 280 Actiaque Iliacis celebramus litora ludis. So, safe at land, our hopeless peril past, / we offered thanks to Jove, and kindled high / his altars with our feast and sacrifice; / then, gathering on Actium's holy shore, / made fair solemnities of pomp and game. Trans. Theodore Williams, text and translation from Perseus.]

64. Servius Commentaries on Virgil Eclogues 8.59

PRAECEPS AERII SPECVLA D. M. I V. D.  quidam hoc ideo dictum putant, quod apud Leucaten soliti erant se praecipitare qui aut suos parentes invenire cupiebant, aut amari ab his desiderabant, quos amabant.

I FROM THE TALL PEAK / OF YON AERIAL ROCK WILL HEADLONG PLUNGE / INTO THE BILLOWS] Some think that this is expressed in this way because at Leucates those who either wished to find their parents, or desired to be loved by those whom they loved, used to throw themselves off the Leucadian cliff.

[Text from Georg Thilo, ed., Servii Grammatici Qui Feruntur In Vergilii Bucolica et Georgica Commentarii (Lipsiae: Teubner, 1887), 102. Virgil’s text: Omnia vel medium fiant mare: vivite, silvae! / praeceps aerii specula de montis in undas / 60 deferar; extremum hoc munus morientis habeto. / desine Maenalios, iam desine, tibia, versus. Yea, be the whole earth to mid-ocean turned! / Farewell, ye woodlands I from the tall peak / of yon aerial rock will headlong plunge / into the billows: this my latest gift, / from dying lips bequeathed thee, see thou keep. / Cease now, my flute, now cease Maenalian lays.’”]

65. Helladius = Photius Bibliotheca 279

ὅτι ἔθος ἦν ἐν Ἀθήναις φαρμάκους ἄγειν δύο, τὸν μὲν ὑπὲρ ἀνδρῶν, τὸν δὲ ὑπὲρ γυναικῶν, πρὸς τὸν καθαρμὸν ἀγομένους.  καὶ ὁ μὲν τῶν ἀνδρῶν μελαίνας ἰσχάδας περὶ τὸν τράχηλον εἶχε, λευκὰς δ’ ἅτερος.  συβάκχοι δέ φησιν ὠνομάζοντο. τὸ δὲ καθάρσιον τοῦτο λοιμικῶν νόσων ἀποτροπιασμὸς ἦν, λαβὸν τὴν ἀρχὴν ἀπὸ Ἀνδρόγεω τοῦ Κρητός, οὗ τεθνηκότος ἐν ταῖς Ἀθήναις παρανόμως τὴν λοιμικὴν ενόσησαν οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι νόσον, καὶ ἐκράτει τὸ ἔθος ἀεὶ καθαίρειν τὴν πόλιν τοῖς φαρμακοῖς.


[Helladius says] That it was the custom at Athens to lead two pharmakoi, one on behalf of the men, and one on behalf of the women, and these were led for purification. And the pharmakos for the men had black figs around the neck, and the other one had white figs. He says that they were called subakkhoi. And this cleansing served to ward off plagues of disease, and it took its beginning from Androgeus the Cretan [son of King Minos], because the Athenians were afflicted with a plague of disease when he died unjustly in Athens, and this custom began to be in force, to always cleanse the city with pharmakoi.


[My trans. Text from René Henry, ed., Photius Bibliothèque, 9 vols. (Paris: Budé, 1977), 8, p. 182. Helladius of Alexandria was a grammarian in the time of Theodosius the younger (401-450 AD).]

“It was the custom at Athens to lead in procession two pharmakoi with a view to purification; one for the men, one for the women. The pharmakos of the men had black figs round his neck, the other had white ones, and he says they were called subakkhoi. And this purification was of the nature of an apotropaic ceremony to avert diseases, and that it tooks its rise from Androgeōs the Cretan, when at Athens the Athenians suffered abnormally from a pestilential disease, and the custom obtained of contantly purifying the city by pharmakoi.”


[Trans. Harrison, Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion, p. 99.]

66.   Hesychius Lexicon s.v. pharmakoi

φαρμακοί, καθαρτήριοι, περικαθαίροντες τὰς πόλεις, ἀνὴρ καὶ γυνή.

Pharmakoi: those who cleanse, cleansing the cities thoroughly, a man and a woman.

[My trans. Hesychius of Alexandria lived ca. fifth century AD.]

67.   Hesychius Lexicon s.v. pharmakē

φαρμακή. χύτρα, ἣν ἡτοίμαζον τοῖς καθαίρουσι τὰς πόλεις

Pharmakē, the pot [khutra] they prepared for those cleansing the cities.

[My trans.]

68. Hesychius Lexicon s.v. kradēsitēs = Hipponax 152 / 203 Dg

κραδησίτης·  φαρμακός, ὁ ταῖς κράδαις βαλλόμενος.


kradēsitēs: scapegoat, one struck by fig branches.


[Trans. Douglas E. Gerber, Greek Iambic Poetry, LCL, 1999. Text from West’s edition of Hipponax.]

69. Hesychius Lexicon s.v. kradiēs nomos = Hipponax 153W /146Dg

κραδίης νόμος·  νόμον τινὰ ἐπαυλοῦσι τοῖς ἐκπεμπομένοις φαρμακοῖς, κράδαις καὶ θρίοις ἐπιραβδιζομένοις.


[Hesychius]: kradiēs nomos : a melody they pipe over those escorted out as scapegoats, whipped with fig branches and fig leaves.


[Trans. Douglas E. Gerber, Greek Iambic Poetry, LCL, 1999. Text from West’s edition of Hipponax.]

70. Lactantius Placidus In Statii Thebaida 10.793-94

793-794 LVSTRALEMNE (… / DEVOTVMQVE CAPVT VILIS CEV MATER ALEBAM) lustrare ciuitatem humana hostia Gallicus mos est. nam aliquis de egentissimis proliciebatur praemiis ut se ad hoc uenderet. qui anno toto publicis sumptibus alebatur purioribus cibis, denique certo et sollemni die per totam ciuitatem ductus ex urbe extra pomeria saxis occidebatur a populo.

It was a Gallic custom to purify [lustrare] the city by a human sacrifice. For one of the poorest citizens was enticed by rewards to sell himself for this purpose. He was fed for a whole year at the public expense on very pure foods, and finally on a fixed and solemn day he was led through the whole city then outside the city boundaries he was killed [occidebatur] by the populace killed with rocks.

[My trans. Text from the edition of Lactantius by Robert Dale Sweeney, vol. 1 (Stuttgart: Teubner, 1997). Hughes dates these scholia to the fifth or sixth century AD, Human Sacrifice in Ancient Greece, 158.]

71. The Suda s.v. Pharmakos  = Harpokration

Φαρμακός: ὄνομα κύριον. Λυσίας φησί. δύο ἄνδρας  ̓Αθήνησιν ἐξη̂γον καθάρσια ἐσομένους τη̂ς πόλεως ἐν τοι̂ς Θαργηλίοις, ἕνα μὲν ὑπὲρ τω̂ν ἀνδρω̂ν, ἕνα δὲ ὑπὲρ τω̂ν γυναικω̂ν. ὅτι δὲ ὄνομα κύριόν ἐστιν ὁ Φαρμακός, δη̂λον: ἱερὰς γὰρ φιάλας του̂  ̓Απόλλωνος κλέψας καὶ ἁλοὺς ὑπὸ τω̂ν περὶ τὸν  ̓Αχιλλέα κατελεύσθη: καὶ τὰ τοι̂ς Θαργηλίοις ἀγόμενα τούτων ἀποτμήματά ἐστιν.  ̓́Ιστρος ἱστορει̂. Δημοσθένους δὲ ἐν τῳ̂ κατὰ  ̓Αριστογείτονος λέγοντος, οὑ̂τος οὐ̂ν αὐτὸν ἐξαιρήσεται ὁ φαρμακός: Δίδυμος προπερισπα̂ν ἀξιοι̂ τοὔνομα. ἀλλ’ ἡμει̂ς οὐχ εὕρομεν οὕτω που τὴν χρη̂σιν. Φαρμάκοντα δὲ Δημοσθένης κατὰ Στεφάνου ἔφη. ἔστι δὲ φαρμάκων ὁ ὑπὸ φαρμάκων βεβλαμμένος: ὡς καὶ Θεόφραστος ἐν ιε# Νόμῳ ὑποσημαίνει.


Pharmakos. A proper name. Lysias says it.[1] They used to pick out two men at Athens to be purifiers of the city during the Thargelia [festival], one representing the men, one the women. That Pharmakos is [also] a proper name is clear: for he stole the sacred bowls of Apollo, was convicted, and was stoned to death by Achilles and his men - events which what happens at the Thargelia are meant to imitate.[2] Istros tells the story.[3] When Demosthenes in the [speech] Against Aristogeiton says “so this is the man, the scapegoat, who will beg him off”,[4] Didymos reckons that the word is accented on the penultimate syllable.[5] But for our part we cannot find this usage anywhere.


Demosthenes [in the second speech] Against Stephanos says “drugged”.[6] Someone “drugged” has been harmfully affected by drugs, as Theophrastos indicates in [book] 15 of Laws.[7]




[1] [Lys.] 6.53.

[2] Reading ἀπομιμήματα (not ἀποτμήματα ) from Harpokration.

[3] Istros FGrH 334 F50.

[4] Demosth. 25.80

[5] Didymos p.314 Schmidt.

[6] Demosth. 46.16.

[7] Theophr. fr.11 Szegedy-Maszak.


[From Harpokration s.v. (but here the material is unhelpfully rearranged, producing confusion between the proper name and the technical term). A second, adjacent entry from Harpokration is added at the end.]


[Trans. David Whitehead. Text and translation from Suda On Line  . The Suda was compiled in the tenth century AD.]

72. The Suda s.v. Katharma

Κάθαρμα: οὐ φθείρῃ κάθαρμα, εἶπε, καὶ ἐκποδὼν ἡμῖν ἄπει; Ἀριστοφάνης φησίν. ὑπὲρ δὲ καθαρμοῦ πόλεως ἀνῄρουν ἐστολισμένον τινά, ὃν ἐκάλουν κάθαρμα. κᾆτ’ ἀνελκύσας ἐρωτᾷ σκανδάληθρ’ ἱστὰς ἐπῶν. διχῶς ἀναγινώσκεται: ὑφ’ ἕν, καὶ πάλιν ἀπόστροφος ἐν τῷ ρ, ἵνα ᾖ, σκανδάληθρ’ ἱστὰς ἐπῶν. οἱ δὲ ὑφ’ ἓν ἀναγινώσκοντες ἐξηγοῦνται οὕτως: ἡ μὲν λέξις πεποιήται παρὰ τὰ πέταυρα τῶν παγίδων, ἀπὸ τοῦ σκάζοντα συμπίπτειν καὶ κρατεῖν τὸ ἐμπεσόν. δὲ νοῦς: ἀνελκύσας ἐπὶ τοῦ βήματος συνηγόρους ἑαυτῷ καὶ θηρευτὰς λόγων ἐρωτᾷ ἡμᾶς: οὕτω γὰρ τὸ ὑπερβατόν. εἶτ’ ἀνελκύσας σκανδάληθρ’ ἱστὰς ἐρωτᾷ ἡμᾶς. σκανδάληθρα δὲ λέγεται τὰ ἐν τοῖς παγίσιν ἐπικαμπῆ ξυλάρια, εἰς ἃ ἐρείδει, ἅπερ Ἀρχίλοχος ῥόπτρον: ἐνταῦθα οὖν λέγει ἐρείσματα λόγων καὶ βάρη.


Offscourings [katharma]: “Aren’t you going to waste the offscourings [katharma], he said, and go away from us?”[1] Aristophanes says [this word].[2] For the purification of a city they used to kill someone who had been adorned [or an adorned animal],[3] whom they called katharma.[4] “And then he drags [Tithonus] into court and interrogates [him], setting traps [made] of words.”[5]. There are two ways to construe this: all in one,[6] and [= or] again [with] an apostrophe after the ρ , [to produce] σκανδάληθρ’ ἱστὰς . Those who prefer the all in one [option] explain it as follows: the word comes from the phrase [τὸ ἱστάναι τὰ σκανδάληθρα , namely] the perches of the traps, because when they are triggered they close and hold in [the trap] which fell in. And the sense [is]: after dragging [Tithonus] before the tribunal he asks us [to be] co-advocates for himself and hunters of words. For the the hyperbaton[7] [would be] as follows: “then after dragging us into court and interrogating is he put out traps”. Σκανδάληθρα is the name for the small bent wooden sticks in the traps, into which they fit, and which Archilochos [calls] ῥόπτρον .[7] So [Aristophanes] is saying here fixings and weights of words.


Notes by translators:


[1] Quotation unidentifiable (Adler suggests Aelian).

[2] Aristophanes, Acharnians 44, and frs.59 and 673a.

[3] A young pig according to scholia on Aristophanes, Acharnians 44.

[4] Cf. the scholia to Aristophanes, Frogs 730; and phi 104.

[5] Aristophanes, Acharnians 687, followed by material from the scholia there; cf. Photius s.v. σκανδάληθρα , and sigma 534.

[6] i.e. σκανδαληθριστάς , acrobats or trapeze-artists.

[7] i.e. a transposition of words or clauses.

[8] Archilochus (alpha 4112) fr.186; cf. rho 233, rho 234.


[Translated by: Konstantinos Kopanias and David Whitehead, from Suda Online, adapted. In the third sentence, Kopanias and Whitehead translate “pig.” One could argue that if the author had meant pig he would have specified it; however, the plain pronoun suggests the very well known pharmakos, often called katharma.]

73. Tzetzes Chiliads (“Thousands”) 5.728-763 (including Hipponax fr. 5-10 W)



Ὁ φαρμακὸς τὸ κάθαρμα τοιοῦτον ἦν τὸ πάλαι.

Ἂν συμφορὰ κατέλαβε πόλιν θεομηνίᾳ,

εἴτ’ οὖν λιμὸς, εἴτε λοιμὸς, εἴτε καὶ βλάβος ἄλλο,

τῶν πάντων ἀμορφότερον ἦγον ὡς πρὸς θυσίαν,

εἰς καθαρμὸν καὶ φάρμακον πόλεως τῆς νοσούσης.

Εἰς τόπον δὲ τὸν πρόσφορον στήσαντες τὴν θυσίαν,

τυρόν τε δόντες τῇ χειρὶ καὶ μάζαν καὶ ισχάδας,

ἑπτάκις τὲ ῥαπίσαντες ἐκεῖνον εἰς τὸ πέος

σκίλλαις, συκαῖς ἀγραῖς τε καὶ ἄλλοις τῶν ἀγρίων,

τέλος πυρὶ κατέκαιον ἐν ξύλοις τοῖς ἀγρίοις,

καὶ τὴν σποδὸν εἰς θάλασσαν ἔρραινον εἰς ἀνέμους,

εἰς καθαρμὸν τῆς πόλεως, ὡς ἔφην, τῆς νοσούσης,

ὡς καὶ Λυκόφρων μέμνηταί που περὶ τῶν Λοκρίδων,

ὧδέ πως λέγων, ἀκριβῶς τὸν στίχον οὐ γινώσκω.

  Ὅταν ἀκάρποις γυῖα συμφλέξας κλάδοις

  Ἥφαιστος εἰς θάλασσαν ἐκβράσσῃ σποδὸν

  τῆς ἐκ λόφων Τράρωνος ἐφθιτωμένης.

Ὁ δὲ Ἱππώναξ ἄριστα σύμπαν τὸ ἔθος λέγει·

  πόλιν καθαίρειν καὶ κράδηισι βάλλεσθαι.

Καὶ ἀλλαχοῦ δέ που φησὶ πρώτῳ ἰάμβῳ γράφων·

  βάλλοντες ἐν χειμῶνι καὶ ῥαπίζοντες

  κράδηισι καὶ σκίλληισιν ὥσπερ φαρμακόν.

Καὶ πάλιν άλλοις τόποις δε ταῦτα φησὶ κατ’ ἔπος·

  δεῖ δ’ αὐτὸν ἐς φάρμακον ἐκποιήσασθαι.

  κἀφῆι παρέξειν ἰσχάδας τε καὶ μᾶζαν

  καὶ τυρόν, οἷον ἐσθίουσι φαρμακοί.

  πάλαι γὰρ αὐτοὺς προσδέκονται χάσκοντες

  κράδας ἔχοντες ὡς ἔχουσι φαρμακοῖς.

Καὶ ἀλλαχοῦ δέ που φησὶν εν τῳ αὐτῷ ἰάμβῳ·

  λιμῶι γένηται ξηρός·  ἐν δὲ τῶι θύμωι

  [ὁ] φαρμακὸς ἀχθεὶς ἑπτάκις ῥαπισθείη.

Ταῦτα περὶ τοῦ ἔθους μὲν τῆς φαρμακοῦ θυσίας.

Φαρμακουργός δε φαρμακεὺς καὶ φαρμακὸς διοίσει.

Φαρμακουργὸς ἐργάτης τε καὶ πωλητὴς φαρμάκων,

ὡς φαρμακεὺς ὁ χρώμενος φαρμάκοις ὡς πρὸς βλάβην,

φαρμακός δε καθαρμὸς τῆς πόλεως, ὡς ἔφην.


The pharmakos was an ancient form of purification as follows. If a disaster, such as famine or pestilence or some other blight, struck a city because of divine wrath, they led the ugliest man of all as if to a sacrifice in order to purify and cure the city’s ills. They set the victim in an appropriate place, put cheese, barley cake and dried figs in his hand, flogged him seven times on the penis with squills, wild fig branches, and other wild plants, and finally burned him on wood from wild trees and scattered his ashes into the sea and winds in order to purify the city of its ills, as I said.


[Just as, I think Lycophron records it of the Locrian maidens, speaking somewhat after this manner, I do not remember the exact verse, “when, having consumed their limbs with fuel from fruitless trees the flame of fire cast into the sea the ashes of the maidens that died on the hill of Traron.”] . . . But Hipponax describes the whole custom best: [then Tzetzes quotes Hipponax, frs. 5-10]


So much for the custom of the sacrifice [thusias] of the scapegoat [pharmakos]. Pharmacist [pharmakourgos], poisoner [pharmakeus] and scapegoat [pharmakos] are all different. A pharmacist works with and sells drugs, as a poisoner is he who uses drugs to harm, and the scapegoat is the purification of the city, as I said above.


[Text from Petrus Aloisius M. Leone, ed., Ioannis Tzetzae, Historiae (Naples: Libreria Scientifica Editrice, 1968). First paragaraph trans. D.E. Gerber, Greek Iambic Poetry, p. 358. The next section, in brackets, translated by Jane Harrison, Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion, 98. The last paragraph, my trans. Tzetzes lived in the 12th century AD.]

74. Tzetzes Chiliads 8.905-910

Ὁ φαρμακὸς τὸ κάθαρμα τοιόνδε τι ὑπῆρχε·

τὸν πάντων δυσμορφότατον καύσαντες — ὥσπερ εἶπον —

εἰς καθαρμὸν τῆς πόλεως ἐν συμφοραῖς μεγίσταις,

τὴν τέφραν ἔρραινον αὐτοῦ πάσῃ σχεδὸν τῇ πόλει.

Τοῦτο μὲν οὖν τὸ κάθαρμα πρὶν φαρμακὸν ἐκάλουν.

Ὁ φαρμακεὺς ὁ χρώμενος φαρμάκοις εἰς τὸ κτείνειν.


The scapegoat [pharmakos] was the purification [to katharma] in this fashion.

After they had burnt the ugliest man of all – as I said earlier –

for the purification of the city during the greatest disasters,

they sprinkled [errainon] his ash throughout nearly the whole city.

Therefore they called this rite purification [katharma] before scapegoat [pharmakos].

The poisoner [pharmakeus] was he who used drugs to kill.


[My trans. Text from Petrus Aloisius M. Leone, ed., Ioannis Tzetzae, Historiae (Naples: Libreria Scientifica Editrice, 1968).]

75. Tzetzes Schol. Aristophanes Plut. 454b

οἱ φαρμακοὶ δὲ καὶ πρὸς θεραπείαν θυόμενοι πόλεων ἐκαλοῦντο καθάραματα.  οὕτω δὲ ἡ τοιαύτη θυσία ἐγίνετο·  ἐνσκηψάσης τινὶ πόλει δεινῆς συμφορᾶς, κρατήσαντες ἢ τὸν δυσειδέστατον πάντων ἢ ᾧ μηδεὶς συγγενής, τῇ χειρί τε δόντες ἰσχάδας, μάζαν καὶ τυρόν, ἐς τὸ αἰδοῖόν τε ἑπτάκις ῥαπίσαντες σκίλλαις τε καὶ ἀγρίαις συκαῖς, καὶ μέσῃ τῇ ἀγορᾷ πυρὰν ὑπανάψαντες ξύλοις ἀγρίοις τε καὶ ἀκάρποις, καὶ τοῦτον ὁλοκαυτώσαντες, τὴν τέφραν εἰς ἀποτρόπαιον πάσῃ τῇ πόλει περιερράντιζον.

And the pharmakoi, those sacrificed [thuomenoi] for the healing [therapeian] of the cities, were called offscourings [katharmata]. Such a sacrifice occurred in this fashion. After some fearful disaster had fallen on a certain city, they took into custody either the ugliest of all, or someone who had no relatives, and handing him barley-cakes, dried figs, and cheese, and beating him on on his genitals with squills and wild figs, and lighting a fire in the middle of the agora with wood that was wild and fruitless, they burned this scapegoat totally [holokautōsantes]; then they sprinkled his ashes around the whole city to avert evil [eis aprotropaion].

[My trans. Text from Lydia Massa Positano, ed., Prolegomena et Commentarium in Plutum, which is Fasc. 1 of Lydia Massa Positano, D. Holwerda, W. J. W. Koster, eds., Jo. Tzetzae Commentarii in Artistophenem; which is Part IV of W. J. W. Koster, ed., Scholia in Aristophenem (Groningen: J. B. Wolters, 1960-). ὁλοκαυτέω means “bring a burnt-offering, offer whole,” LSJ.]

76. Tzetzes Schol. Aristophanes Frogs 733a

φαρμακοῖσι:   τοῖς καλουμένοις καθάρμασι.  τὰ καθάρματα δὲ τοιαδί·  συμφορᾶς οἱασδήτινος κατασχούσης πόλιν τινὰ δυσμορφότερον πάντων καὶ ἀηδέστερον ξύλοις ἀκάρποις ὑπὲρ τῆς πόλεως θεηλατουμένης ἐκείνης κατέφλεγον καὶ τὴν τέφραν ἁπανταχοῦ ὡς ἐξελίκμων καὶ ἀπερράντιζον.

For pharmakoi:  for those called offscourings [katharmata]. The offscourings [katharmata] are as follows. When a disaster of any sort fell on a certain city, they burned with barren logs the most deformed and unpleasant man on behalf of that city cursed by god, and sprinkled and distributed his ashes all around.

[My trans. Text from, W. J. W. Koster, ed., Commentarium in Ranas et in Aves Argumentum Equitum, which is Fasc. III of Lydia Massa Positano, D. Holwerda, W. J. W. Koster, eds., Jo. Tzetzae Commentarii in Artistophenem; which is Part IV of W. J. W. Koster, ed., Scholia in Aristophenem (Groningen: J. B. Wolters, 1960-). ἐκ-λικμάω means “winnow, sift, empty,” per LSJ.]

77. Photius Lexicon 640, 8 (Porsonus 553):

Φαρμακός·  τὸ κάθαρμα, βραχέως.  οἱ δὲ Ἴωνες ἐκτείνοντες λέγουσι φαρμακόν.  οὗτοι γὰρ διὰ τὴν τῶν βαρβάρων παροίκησιν ελυμήναντο τῆς διαλέκτου τὸ πάτριον, τὰ μέτρα, τοὺς χρόνους·   δηλοῖ καὶ Ἱππῶναξ.

[Text from S. A. Naber, ed., Photii Patriarchae Lexicon (Leiden: Brill, 1864), p. 256. Gebhard #31, in the category, “Grammatical Witnesses.”]

78. Photius Lexicon, s.v. peripsēma

περίψημα·  κατάμαγμα ἢ ὑπὸ τὰ ἴχνη ἢ ἀπολύτρωσις·  οὕτως ἐπέλεγον τῷ κατ’ ἐνιαυτὸν ἐμβαλλομένῳ τῇ θαλάσσῃ νεανίᾳ ἐπ’ ἀπαλλαγῇ τῶν συνεχόντων κακῶν·  περίψημα ἡμῶν γενοῦ·  ἤτοι σωτηρία καὶ ἀπολύτρωσις·  καὶ οὕτως ἐνέβαλον τῇ θαλάσσῃ, ὡσανεὶ τῷ Ποσειδῶνι θυσίαν ἀποτιννύντες.


Offscouring; something wiped off[10] either by the [footsteps] or ransoming. Thus they would say to the youth being thrown into the sea every year to ward off the oppressive evils: “Be our offscouring [peripsēma].” Surely meaning salvation [sōtēria] and ransoming [apolutrōsis]. And thus they threw him into the sea, as if performing a sacrifice to Poseidon.


[My trans. Text from S. A. Naber, ed., Photii Patriarchae Lexicon (Leiden: Brill, 1864), p. 85. Cf. Hughes, Human Sacrifice in Ancient Greece, 162.]

79. Photius Lexicon, s.v. Leukatēs

Λευκάτης·  σκόπελος τῆς Ἠπείρου, ἀφ’ οὗ ῥίπτουσιν αὑτοὺς εἰς τὸ πέλαγος οἱ ἐρασταί [ἱερεῖς]·  Σαπφὼ δὲ πρώτην ἐπὶ Φάωνι τοῦτο ποιῆσαι τὴν ποιήτριαν·  οἱ δὲ τὴν ἑταίραν·  εγένετο γὰρ ἄλλη Λεσβία ἑταίρα.


Leukatēs:  Cliff of Epeiros, from which priests [or “lovers”] throw themselves into the sea. And Sappho the poetess was the first to do this when she was seeking Phaon. And some say the courtesan [named Sappho] was the first to do this. For there was another Lesbian courtesan [named Sappho].


[My trans. Text from S. A. Naber, ed., Photii Patriarchae Lexicon (Leiden: Brill, 1864), p. 382. The manuscripts have hiereis, “priests”; Naber follows the modern emendation erastai, “lovers.”]

80. Anecdota Graeca 1, p. 315, line 22

Φαρμακός·  ἀνὴρ πονηρός.


Pharmakos:  a wicked man.


[My trans. Text from I. Bekker, Anecdota Graeca , 3 vols (Berlin: G. C. Nauckium, 1814), 1.315. Gebhard, test. 5b.]

81. Eustathius On the Iliad 1236.61

[See above at Stesichorus (?) fr. 100 Page. Eustathius lived in the 12 century AD.]

Selected Secondary Sources:


Gebhard, Viktor. “Die Pharmakoi in Ionien und die Sybacchoi in Athen.” Diss. Amberg 1926.

Deubner, L. Attische Feste (Berlin 1932), 179-188.

Frazer, James. The Golden Bough. Part VI. The Scapegoat, pp. 252ff.

Murray, Gilbert. The Rise of the Greek Epic, 4th ed (Oxford 1934), App. A, pp. 317ff. Orig. 1907. 

Nilsson, Martin P. Greek Popular Religion, available online at See the discussion of the Thargelia in the chapter “Rural Customs and Festivals.”

Wiechers, A. Aesop in Delphi (Meisenheim am Glam 1961).

Parke, H. W. Festivals of the Athenians (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1977), 146-147.

Burkert, Walter. Structure and History in Greek Mythology (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979), 59-77.

Bremmer, Jan. “Scapegoat Rituals in Ancient Greece.” Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 87 (1983): 299–320.

Parker, Robert. Miasma, Pollution and Purification in Early Greek Religion (Oxford 1983), pp. 24-26, 257-280.

Burkert, Walter. Greek Religion. Tr. J. Raffan (Cambridge, MA 1985), 82-84. Orig. Griechische Religion der archaischen und klassischen Epoche (Stuttgart 1977).

Hughes, Dennis. Human Sacrifice in Ancient Greece (London 1991), 139-165

Ogden, Daniel. The Crooked Kings of Ancient Greece (London 1997), 15-46.


[1]West translates this “in winter” from the codices’ xeimōni. Knox follows Schneidewin’s emendation leimōni. Degani also prefers leimōni.

[2] Gerber translates “fig branches.”

[3]I use West’s translation for this line.

[4]“Cooked in a pot,” following West’s egkuthron rather than the received egkhuton (“poured-in,” a cake). Cf. Hesychius s.v. pharmakē. “Pharmakē, the pot [khutra] they prepared for those cleansing the cities” (φαρμακή. ἡ χύτρα, ἣν ἡτοίμαζον τοῖς καθαίρουσι τὰς πόλεις).

[5] [King’s note:] A play of Turpilius, an old Roman comic writer, adapted from the Greek.

[6] boulimos, boulimia : often translated “ox-hunger” or “voracious appetite”; cf. Paulus ex Festo, De Significatu Verbor. 32 M “bulimam Graeci magnam famem dicunt.” From the present passage we see that the meaning is not altogether clear, and Wilhelm Schulze (Kuhns Zeitschrift, xxxiii (1895), p. 243), has shown that the etymology from bous “ox” is doubtful. Cf. “ vim quandam famis non tolerabilem” in Aulus Gellius, xvi. 3. 9 f., where a quotation from Erasistratus on the subject is introduced. On flagellation and evil geniuses cf. G. Soury, La Démonologie de Plutarque, p. 53.

[7] Table-Talk, ii. 10. 1, 642 F.

[8] Probably Metrodorus of Chios, RE, s.v. (no. 14), cols. 1475 f.

[9] Frag. Griech. Historiker (Jacoby), 43 F 3.

[10] katamagma, not in LSJ, apparently from massō, “wipe,” see magma, “thick unguent,” magmos, “wiping, cleansing.”