Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 4.15 (Kaibel) and Herodotus 9.82

In this passage Athenaeus quotes Herodotus for a famous story about Pausanias after the battle of Plataea, where the Greek general compares Spartan and Persian dinners.
By clicking on the name of Herodotus (in yellow), you can see a reference to the passage of the Histories; by clicking on the reference you can highlight the corresponding words in Athenaeus and in Herodotus.


Bibliography on the passage:

  • D. Ambaglio, ‘I Deipnosofisti di Ateneo e la tradizione storica frammentaria’, in «Athenaeum» 78.1 (1990), p. 53
  • C. Pelling, ‘Fun with Fragments. Athenaeus and the Historians’, in Athenaeus and his World. Reading Greek Culture in the Roman Empire, ed. by D. Braund and J. Wilkins, Exeter 2000, pp. 181-184
  • D. Lenfant, ‘Les «fragments» d’Hérodote dans les Deipnosophistes’, in Athénée et les fragments d’historiens. Actes du colloque de Strasbourg (16-18 juin 2005), éd. par D. Lenfant, Paris 2007, pp. 55-56

Athenaei Naucratitae Dipnosophistarum Libri XV, rec. G. Kaibel. Vol. I. Lipsiae 1887 pdf_icon


Ath. Deipn. 4.15 (138b-d) ἑξῆς δὲ λεκτέον καὶ περὶ τῶν Λακωνικῶν συμποσίων. Ἡρόδοτος μὲν οὖν ἐν τῇ ἐνάτῃ τῶν ἱστοριῶν περὶ τῆς Μαρδονίου παρασκευῆς λέγων καὶ μνημονεύσας Λακωνικῶν συμποσίων φησί· ‘Ξέρξης φεύγων ἐκ τῆς Ἑλλάδος Μαρδονίῳ τὴν παρασκευὴν κατέλιπε τὴν αὑτοῦ. Παυσανίαν οὖν ἰδόντα τὴν τοῦ Μαρδονίου παρασκευὴν χρυσῷ καὶ ἀργύρῳ καὶ παραπετάσμασι ποικίλοις κατεσκευασμένην κελεῦσαι τοὺς ἀρτοποιοὺς καὶ ὀψοποιοὺς κατὰ ταὐτὰ καθὼς Μαρδονίῳ δεῖπνον παρασκευάσαι. ποιησάντων δὲ τούτων τὰ κελευσθέντα τὸν Παυσανίαν ἰδόντα κλίνας χρυσᾶς καὶ ἀργυρᾶς ἐστρωμένας καὶ τραπέζας ἀργυρᾶς καὶ παρασκευὴν μεγαλοπρεπῆ δείπνου ἐκπλαγέντα τὰ προκείμενα κελεῦσαι ἐπὶ γέλωτι τοῖς ἑαυτοῦ διακόνοις παρασκευάσαι Λακωνικὸν δεῖπνον. καὶ παρασκευασθέντος γελάσας ὁ Παυσανίας μετεπέμψατο τῶν Ἑλλήνων τοὺς στρατηγοὺς καὶ ἐλθόντων ἐπιδείξας ἑκατέρου τῶν δείπνων τὴν παρασκευὴν εἶπεν· ‘ἄνδρες Ἕλληνες, συνήγαγον ὑμᾶς βουλόμενος ἐπιδεῖξαι τοῦ Μήδων ἡγεμόνος τὴν ἀφροσύνην, ὃς τοιαύτην δίαιταν ἔχων ἦλθεν ὡς ἡμᾶς οὕτω ταλαίπωρον ἔχοντας.’ φασὶ δέ τινες καὶ ἄνδρα Συβαρίτην ἐπιδημήσαντα τῇ Σπάρτῃ καὶ συνεστιαθέντα ἐν τοῖς φιδιτίοις εἰπεῖν· ‘εἰκότως ἀνδρειότατοι ἁπάντων εἰσὶ Λακεδαιμόνιοι· ἕλοιτο γὰρ〈ἄν〉τις εὖ φρονῶν μυριάκις ἀποθανεῖν ἢ οὕτως εὐτελοῦς διαίτης μεταλαβεῖν.’

Herodotus IV (Books VIII-IX), ed. A.D. Godley. Cambridge, Ma 1969 pdf_icon


Hdt. 9.82 (1) Λέγεται δὲ καὶ τάδε γενέσθαι, ὡς Ξέρξης φεύγων ἐκ τῆς Ἑλλάδος Μαρδονίῳ τὴν κατασκευὴν καταλίποι τὴν ἑωυτοῦ· Παυσανίην ὦν ὁρῶντα τὴν Μαρδονίου κατασκευὴν χρυσῷ τε καὶ ἀργύρῳ καὶ παραπετάσμασι ποικίλοισι κατεσκευασμένην, κελεῦσαι τούς τε ἀρτοκόπους καὶ τοὺς ὀψοποιοὺς κατὰ ταὐτὰ καθὼς Μαρδονίῳ δεῖπνον παρασκευάζειν. (2) ὡς δὲ κελευόμενοι οὗτοι ἐποίευν ταῦτα, ἐνθαῦτα τὸν Παυσανίην ἰδόντα κλίνας τε χρυσέας καὶ ἀργυρέας εὖ ἐστρωμένας καὶ τραπέζας τε χρυσέας καὶ ἀργυρέας καὶ παρασκευὴν μεγαλοπρεπέα τοῦ δείπνου, ἐκπλαγέντα τὰ προκείμενα ἀγαθὰ κελεῦσαι ἐπὶ γέλωτι τοὺς ἑωυτοῦ διηκόνους παρασκευάσαι Λακωνικὸν δεῖπνον. (3) ὡς δὲ τῆς θοίνης ποιηθείσης ἦν πολλὸν τὸ μέσον, τὸν Παυσανίην γελάσαντα μεταπέμψασθαι τῶν Ἑλλήνων τοὺς στρατηγούς, συνελθόντων δὲ τούτων εἰπεῖν τὸν Παυσανίην, δεικνύντα ἐς ἑκατέρην τοῦ δείπνου τὴν παρασκευήν,“Ἄνδρες Ἕλληνες, τῶνδε εἵνεκα ἐγὼ ὑμέας συνήγαγον, βουλόμενος ὑμῖν τοῦδε τοῦ Μήδων ἡγεμόνος τὴν ἀφροσύνην δέξαι, ὃς τοιήνδε δίαιταν ἔχων ἦλθε ἐς ἡμέας οὕτω ὀϊζυρὴν ἔχοντας ἀπαιρησόμενος.” ταῦτα μὲν Παυσανίην λέγεται εἰπεῖν πρὸς τοὺς στρατηγοὺς τῶν Ἑλλήνων.


Ath. Deipn. 4.15 (138b-d) Next we must speak also of Spartan symposia. Now Herodotus, in the ninth book of his Histories, speaking of Mardonius' tent and mentioning by the way the Spartan banquests, says: “When Xerxes fled from Greece he left behind the royal pavilion for Mardonius. Pausanias, therefore, when he saw the tent of Mardonius adorned with gold and silver and embroidered tapestries, commanded the bakers and fancy cooks to prepare a dinner exactly as they would for Mardonius. When they had done his bidding, Pausanias, seeing the gold and silver divans spread with coverings, and silver tables and a magnificent outlay for the dinner, in amazement at what was set before him, ordered in jest his own servants to prepare a Spartan dinner. And when it was ready, Pausanias laughed and sent for the Greek generals. On their arrival he pointed to the preparations made for each of the dinners and said: ‘Men of Greece, I have gathered you together because I wish to show you the folly of the Median commander who, with all his luxury of living, came to attack us who are so poor.’” And some say that a Sybarite who had sojourned in Sparta and had been entertained among them at their public mess remarked: ‘It is no wonder that Spartans are the bravest men in the world; for anyone in his right mind would prefer to die ten thousand times rather than share in such poor living.’ (trans. Gulick)

Hdt. 9.82 (1) This other story is told. Xerxes in his fight from Hellas, having left to Mardonius his own establishment, Pausanias, seeing Mardonius’ establishment with its display of gold and silver and gaily-coloured tapestry, bade the bakers and the cooks to prepare a dinner in such wise as they were wont to do for Mardonius. (2) They did his bidding; whereat Pausanias, when he saw golden and silvern couches richly covered, and tables of gold and silver, and all the magnificent service of the banquet, was amazed at the splendour before him, and for a jest bade his own servants prepare a dinner after Laconian fashion. (3) When that meal was ready and was far different from the other, Pausanias fell a-laughing, and sent for the generals of the Greeks. They being assembled, Pausanias pointed to the fashion after which either dinner was served, and said: “Men of Hellas, I have brought you hither because I desired to show you the foolishness of the leader of the Medes; who, with such provision for life as you see, came hither to take away from us ours, that is so pitiful.” Thus, it is said, Pausanias spoke to the generals of the Greeks. (trans. Godley)