One of history’s most ardent collectors of curious notes, interesting texts, and odd passages, Aulus Gellius (c. 125–180 A.D.), relates quite an amusing story in his Noctes Atticae about the famous general Alcibiades.
Alcibiades (c. 450–404 B.C.) was Greek, Athenian to be exact, and made a name for himself as both a military commander but also as an orator and politician.
However, the Latin video lesson you’ll find below, has little to do with military strategies and politics. Instead, we will read a text about the time when Alcibiades was taught the liberal arts as a young boy and what came to pass when he was handed tibiae (aulos)– pipes.
Daniel will explain the passage in Latin, however you will find English subtitles as and option in the video (as well as Latin subtitles).
Video in Latin: Alcibiades, Tibiae and Athenian Music.
Latin Text: Noctes Atticae 15.17
ALCIBIADES Atheniensis, cum apud avunculum Periclen puer artibus ac disciplinis liberalibus erudiretur et arcessi Pericles Antigenidam tibicinem iussisset, ut eum canere tibiis, quod honestissimum tum videbatur, doceret, traditas sibi tibias, cum ad os adhibuisset inflassetque, pudefactus oris deformitate abiecit infregitque. Ea res cum percrebuisset, omnium tum Atheniensium consensu disciplina tibiis canendi desita est.
English Translation: Attic Nights 15.17
ALCIBIADES the Athenian in his boyhood was being trained in the liberal arts and sciences at the home of his uncle, Pericles; and Pericles had ordered Antigenides, a player on the pipes, to be sent for, to teach the boy to play on that instrument, which was then considered a great accomplishment. But when the pipes were handed to him and he had put them to his lips and blown, disgusted at the ugly distortion of his face, he threw them away and broke them in two. When this matter was noised abroad, by the universal consent of the Athenians of that time the art of playing the pipes was given up.
Translation by John C. Rolfe (1927)