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For the previous post in this series, look here: https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/lucian-of-samosata-concerning-sacrifices-8/

Then the gods sitting about Zeus

— It’s fitting, I suppose to talk fancy when we go above ….

All of the gods scoping out the earth, looking around and stooping down if perhaps they see a fire winging up or the savor of sacrifical smoke twisting. If there is a sacrifice, they greedily gulp down the smoke and drink the blood from altars … like flies.

When they are at home, nectar and ambrosia is their repast.

It used to be that even humans could eat with them, like Ixion or Tantalus. But those two were uppity and talkative, and now they are being tormented. So heaven has become inaccessible & forbidden to the mortal race.

Greek Text and Notes:

‘οἱ δὲ θεοὶ πὰρ Ζηνὶ καθήμενοι —’ πρέπει γάρ, οἶμαι, ἄνω· ὄντα μεγαληγορεῖν — ἀποσκοποῦσιν εἰς τὴν γῆν καὶ πάντῃ περιβλέπουσιν ἐπικύπτοντες εἴ ποθεν ὄψονται πῦρ ἀναπτόμενον ἢ ἀναφερομένην κνῖσαν ‘ ἑλισσομένην περὶ καπνῷ.’ κἂν μὲν θύῃ τις, εὐωχοῦνται πάντες ἐπικεχηνότες τῷ καπνῷ καὶ τὸ αἷμα πίνοντες τοῖς βωμοῖς προσχεόμενον ὥσπερ αἱ μυῖαι· ἢν δὲ οἰκοσιτῶσιν, νέκταρ καὶ ἀμβροσία τὸ δεῖπνον. πάλαι μὲν οὖν καὶ ἄνθρωποι συνειστιῶντο καὶ συνέπινον αὐτοῖς, ὁ Ἰξίων καὶ ὁ Τάνταλος· ἐπεὶ δὲ ἦσαν ὑβρισταὶ καὶ λάλοι, ἐκεῖνοι μὲν ἔτι καὶ νῦν κολάζονται, ἄβατος δὲ τῷ θνητῷ γένει καὶ ἀπόρρητος ὁ οὐρανός.

‘οἱ δὲ θεοὶ πὰρ Ζηνὶ καθήμενοι —

Now the gods by Zeus sitting

The line is a quotation from the Illiad, Book 4, line 1:

οἳ δὲ θεοὶ πὰρ Ζηνὶ καθήμενοι ἠγορόωντο

χρυσέῳ ἐν δαπέδῳ, μετὰ δέ σφισι πότνια Ἥβη

νέκταρ ἐοινοχόει:

Butler’s translation: Now the gods were sitting with Zeus in council upon the golden floor while Hebe went round pouring out nectar for them to drink,

Dative indicates location.

Participle matches gods: they are sitting.

’ πρέπει γάρ, οἶμαι, ἄνω·

For it is fitting/right/proper/I suppose above

Since we are speaking of Zeus in heaven, we should elevate our language by quoting Homer.

ὄντα μεγαληγορεῖν —

being to talk big

ἀποσκοποῦσιν εἰς τὴν γῆν

They look at the earth

καὶ πάντῃ περιβλέπουσιν ἐπικύπτοντες

and all things they look around by bending over

Participle shows means of looking at earth from heaven.

ἐπικύπτω , pf. (v.infr.):—

A.bend oneself over, stoop over, bow down, Hp.Art.52, Ar.Th.239; “ὀρθὸς ἕστηκεν, μικρὸν ἐπικύπτων” Arist.HA 522b18; of the horn of the moon, Thphr.Sign.27; ἐ. ἐπί τι stoop down to get something, X.Cyr.2.3.18; ἐ. ἐς βιβλίον pore over a book, Luc.Herm.2; lean upon, “τινί” Id.DMort.6.2; ἐ. τῷ συνεδρίῳ bend over towards it, Id.JTr.11: pf. part. ἐπικεκυ_φώς habitually stooping, Anaxandr.37.

εἴ ποθεν ὄψονται πῦρ ἀναπτόμενον

if from somewhere they see a firing winging-up/rising

ἢ ἀναφερομένην κνῖσαν

or rising up the savor

κνι_σ-άω , (κνῖσα)

A.fill with the savour of burnt sacrifice, κ. ἀγυιάς (never τὰς ἀγυιάς) make them steam with sacrifice, Ar.Eq.1320, Av.1233, Orac. ap. D.21.51; “κ. βωμούς” E.Alc. 1156; intr., κ. βωμοῖσι raise the steam of sacrifice on . . , Orac. ap. D. 21.52; “κ. παρὰ τοὺς βωμούς” Luc.JTr.22.

‘ ἑλισσομένην περὶ καπνῷ.’

rolling about the smoke

κἂν μὲν θύῃ τις,

if there is a particular sacrifice

εὐωχοῦνται πάντες ἐπικεχηνότες τῷ καπνῷ

feasting all (of them) greedily gaping at the smoke

ἐπιχαίνω ,

A.gape at, τινι Luc.Tim.18,Sacr.9,al.

  1. desire greedily, “ἐπικέχηνε πᾶσι τοῖς ἐκτός” Ph.1.211, cf. 2.202.
  2. = ἐγχαίνω, mock at, Anon. ap. Suid.

καὶ τὸ αἷμα πίνοντες τοῖς βωμοῖς προσχεόμενον

and the blood driking upon the altars being poured out

ὥσπερ αἱ μυῖαι·

just like flies

ἢν δὲ οἰκοσιτῶσιν, νέκταρ καὶ ἀμβροσία τὸ δεῖπνον.

But if they are eating at home, nector and ambrossia is the meal

οἰκοσιτῶσιν: This is the only instance of the word I could find anywhere. It is appears to be a combination of oikos: house & sition: food, turned into a verb.

πάλαι μὲν οὖν καὶ ἄνθρωποι συνειστιῶντο καὶ συνέπινον αὐτοῖς,

Of old men would eat and drink with them

ὁ Ἰξίων καὶ ὁ Τάνταλος·

Like Ixion or Tantalos.

Ixion. Son of Phlegyas (or of Ares), and king of the Lapitha3. By Dia he was the father of Pirithoiis (who, according to Homer, however, was a son of Zeus). He attempted to withhold from his father-in- law, Deioneus, the bridal gifts he had promised. Deioneus accordingly detained the horses of Ixion. The latter invited him to his house and threw him into a pit filled with fire. When Zeus not only purified him from this murder, but even invited him to the table of the gods, he became arrogant and insolent, and even sought to win the love of Hera. Zens thereupon formed of the clouds a phantom resembling Hera, and by it Ixion became the father of the Centaurs. On his boasting of the favours he imagined the goddess to have granted him, Zeus caused him to be punished for this crime by being fastened to a wheel, on which he was to turn in terror for evermore in the world below.


Tantalus. A wealthy king of Sipylus in Phrygia (or Lydia), son of Zeus and Pluto,

father of Pelops and Nobe. grandfather of Atreus and Thy’estes. As the favourite of

the gods, he was allowed to take part in their deliberations and to share their meals ; but his good fortune making him overbearing, he insulted them and was thrown into Tartarus. The traditions differ as to the nature of his misdemeanour. According to one, he publicly revealed the secret decrees of Zeus ; another relates, that he purloined nectar and ambrosia from the table of the gods to distribute to his friends ; a third, that having invited the gods to a repast, he set before them the flesh of his son Pelops, whom he had cut to pieces and boiled, in order to test their omniscience ; while, according to a fourth, he perjured himself in order to retain possession of the golden dog stolen for him from the temple of Zeus by Pandareos {q.v.). Homer [Gd. xi 590] describes him as suffering in the world below from unappeased hunger and thirst, being at the same time immersed in water to the chin, whilst the finest fruits hang before his eyes. Whenever he opens his mouth to enjoy the repast, the water dries up and the fruits vanish into the air. According to Pindar [Isth. i 7 (8), 21], he himself is suspended in the air, while above his liead hangs a huge rock, which is ever threatening to fall and crush him.Euripides combined both legends.


ἐπεὶ δὲ ἦσαν ὑβρισταὶ καὶ λάλοι,

but since they were prideful (filled with hubris) and talkative

ἐκεῖνοι μὲν ἔτι καὶ νῦν κολάζονται,

those now are a tormented

ἄβατος δὲ τῷ θνητῷ γένει καὶ ἀπόρρητος ὁ οὐρανός.

Inaccessble to the mortal race and forbidden of the heavens