Moralia Greek Questions: The Abaton and Those Who Enter


‘διὰ τί τοὺς εἰς τὸ Λύκαιον εἰσελθόντας ἑκουσίως καταλεύουσιν οἱ Ἀρκάδες: ἂν δ᾽ ὁπ᾽ ἀγνοίας, εἰς Ἐλευθερὰς ἀποστέλλουσι;᾽’ πότερον ὡς ἐλευθερουμένων αὐτῶν διὰ τὴν ἀπόλυσιν ἔσχεν ὁ λόγος πίστιν, καὶ τοιοῦτόν ἐστι τὸ ‘εἰς Ἐλευθεράς’ , οἷον τὸ ‘εἰς Ἀμελοῦς χώραν’ καὶ τὸ ‘ἣξεις εἰς Ἀρέσαντος ἕδος’ ἢ κατὰ τὸν μῦθον ἐπεὶ μόνοι τῶν Λυκάωνος παίδων Ἐλευθὴρ καὶ Λεβεάδος οὐ μετέσχον τοῦ περὶ τὸν Δία μιάσματος ἀλλ᾽ εἰς Βοιωτίαν: ἔφυγον, καὶ Λεβαδεῦσιν ἔστιν ἰσοπολιτεία πρὸς Ἀρκάδας; εἰς Ἐλευθερὰς οὖν ἀποπέμπουσι τοὺς ἐν τῷ ἀβάτῳ τοῦ Διὸς ἀκουσίως γενομένους. ἢ ὡς Ἀρχίτιμος ἐν τοῖς Ἀρκαδικοῖς ἐμβάντας τινὰς κατ᾽ ἄγνοιαν φησιν ὑπ᾽ Ἀρκάδων παραδοθῆναι Φλιασίοις, ὑπὸ δὲ Φλιασίων Μεγαρεῦσιν, ἐκ δὲ Μεγαρέων εἰς Θήβας κομιζομένους περὶ τὰς Ἐλευθερὰς ὕδατι καὶ βρονταῖς καὶ διοσημίαις ἄλλαις κατασχεθῆναι: ἀφ᾽ οὗ δὴ καὶ τὸν τόπον Ἐλευθερὰς ἔνιοί φασι προσαγορεύεσθαι. τὸ μέντοι σκιὰν μὴ πίπτειν ἀπὸ τοῦ ἐμβάντος εἰς τὸ Λύκαιον λέγεται μὲν οὐκ ἀληθῶς, ἔσχηκε δὲ πίστιν ἰσχυράν. πότερον τοῦ ἀέρος εἰς νέφη τρεπομένου καὶ σκυθρωπάζοντος ἐπὶ τοῖς εἰσιοῦσιν, ἢ ὅτι θανατοῦται μὲν ὁ ἐμβάς, τῶν δ᾽ ἀποθανόντων οἱ Πυθαγορικοὶ λέγουσι τὰς; ψυχὰς μὴ ποιεῖν σκιὰν μηδὲ σκαρδαμύττειν; ἢ σκιὰν μὲν ὁ ἥλιος ποιεῖ, τὸν δ᾽ ἣλιον ἀφαιρεῖται τοῦ ἐμβάντος ὁ νόμος; καὶ τοῦτ᾽ αἰνιττόμενοι λέγουσι: καὶ γὰρ ἔλαφος ὁ ἐμβὰς καλεῖται. διὸ καὶ Κανθαρίωνα τὸν Ἀρκάδα πρὸς Ἠλείους αὐτομολήσαντα πολεμοῦντας Ἀρκάσι καὶ διαβάντα μετὰ λείας τὸ ἄβατον, καταλυθέντος δὲ τοῦ πολέμου καὶ φυγόντα εἰς Σπάρτην, ἐξέδοσαν οἱ Λακεδαιμόνιοι τοῖς Ἀρκάσι, τοῦ θεοῦ κελεύσαντος ἀποδιδόναι τὸν ἔλαφον.
Question. Why do the Arcadians stone those that go willingly into the Lycaeum, while those that go in ignorantly they carry forth to Eleutherae?
Solution. Is it on the ground that they gained their liberty by being thus absolved, that the story has gained credit? And is this saying “to Eleutherae” the same as "into the region of security," or “thou shalt come to the seat of pleasure”? Or is the reason to be rendered according to that fabulous story, that of all the sons of Lycaon Eleuther and Lebadus alone were free from that conspiracy against Jupiter, and fled into Boeotia, where the Lebadenses use the like civil polity to that of the Arcadians, and therefore they send them to Eleutherae that enter unwittingly into the inaccessible temple of Jupiter? Or is it (as Architimos says in his Arcadica) that some that went into the Lycaeum unawares were delivered up to the Phliasians by the Arcadians, and by the Phliasians to the Megarians, and by the Megarians to the Thebans which inhabit about Eleutherae, where they are detained under rain, thunder, and other direful judgments from Heaven; and upon this account some say this place was called Eleutherae. But the report is not true that he that enters into the Lycaeum casts no shadow, though it hath had a firm belief. And what if this be the reason of that report, that the air converted into clouds looks darkly on them that go in? Or that he that goes in falls down dead? - for the Pythagoreans say that the souls of the deceased do neither give a shadow nor wink. Or is it that the sun only makes a shadow, and the law bereaveth him that entereth here of the sight of the sun? Though this they speak enigmatically; for verily he that goes in is called Elaphus, a stag. Hence the Lacedaemonians delivered up to the Arcadians Cantharion the Arcadian, who went over to the Eleans whilst they waged war with the Arcadians, passing with his booty through the inaccessible temple, and fled to Sparta when the war was ended; the oracle requiring them to restore the stag.