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Aulus Gellius 10.18

Translation copyright 2000 Neil W. Bernstein; all rights reserved.

The story of Artemisia; also, concerning the competition among famous writers at the tomb of Mausolus. (1)

  1. It is said that Artemisia loved her husband Mausolus beyond every tale of love and with more human affection than can be believed.
  2. According to Marcus Tullius [Cicero], (2) Mausolus was the king of Caria; (3) according to certain Greek historians, he was the governor of the province, which the Greeks call a satrap.
  3. When Mausolus came to the end of his life he was buried with a magnificent funeral amid the laments and embraces of his wife. Aflame with grief and desire for her husband, Artemisia mixed his bones and ashes with perfume, crushed them to a powder, then added the powder to water and drank it. She is said to have done many other things that proved her passionate love.
  4. To preserve her husband's memory, Artemisia also built a very famous tomb with a great effort of labor. (4) The tomb was worthy of inclusion among the seven wonders of the world.
  5. When Artemisia dedicated this monument to the deified ghost of Mausolus, she established an agon, i.e., a competition for reciting his praises. She set very generous sums of money and other goods as prizes.
  6. Theopompus, (5) Theodectes, (6) and Naucrates, (7) men famous for their wit and oratorical skill, are said to have come to compete in his honor. There are also those who record that Isocrates (8) himself competed with them. But Theopompus, the student of Isocrates, was judged to have won the competition.
  7. A tragedy by Theodectes entitled Mausolus still survives as well; as Hyginus recalls in his Examples (9), Theodectus pleased audiences more with this play than with his prose works.

Notes:

  1. The satrap (provincial governor of the Persian Empire) of Caria from 377/6 to 353 BCE.
  2. Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 3.75.
  3. A region in SW Asia Minor south of the river Maeander.
  4. The Mausoleum was built at Halicarnassus by the architect Pythius of Priene and carved by prominent sculptors such as Scopas and Praxiteles (cf. Pliny, Natural History 36.31).
  5. 378/7-c.320 BCE, historian and orator.
  6. A tragic poet who won his first competition at the Athenian Great Dionysia sometime after 372 BCE.
  7. Student of Isocrates, c. 4th century BCE; cf. Cicero, Orator 172.
  8. 436-338 BCE; 21 of his orations survive.
  9. Freedman of Augustus, librarian of the Palatine Library (cf. Suetonius, Lives of the Grammarians 20).

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