Lucian, Against the Unlettered Bibliomaniac 11-12

How to quote this translation

M = reading of the whole MS tradition
m = reading of part of the MS tradition
P = reading on a papyrus

11 ὅτε τὸν Ὀρφέα διεσπάσαντο αἱ Θρᾶιτται, φασὶ τὴν κεφαλήν αὐτοῦ σὺν τῆι λύραι εἰς τὸν Ἕβρον ἐμπεσοῦσαν ἐκβληθῆναι εἰς τὸν Μέλανα Κόλπον, καὶ ἐπιπλεῖν γε τὴν κεφαλὴν τῆι λύραι, τὴν μὲν ἄιδουσαν θρῆνόν τινα ἐπὶ τῶι Ὀρφεῖ, ὡς λόγος Ὀρφεῖ, ὡς λόγος m: Ὀρφείωι λόγωι m, τὴν λύραν δὲ αὐτὴν ὑπηχεῖν τῶν ἀνέμων ἐμπιπτόντων ταῖς χόρδαις, καὶ οὕτω μετ’ ὠιδῆς προσενεχθῆναι τῆι Λέσβωι, κἀκείνους ἀνελομένους τὴν μὲν κεφαλὴν καταθάψαι ἵναπερ νῦν τὸ βακχεῖον αὐτοῖς ἐστι, τὴν λύραν δὲ ἀναθεῖναι εἰς τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος τὸ ἱερόν, καὶ ἐπὶ πολύ γε σώιζεσθαι αὐτήν.

12 χρόνωι δὲ ὕστερον Νέανθον τὸν τοῦ Πιττακοῦ τοῦ τυράννου ταῦτα ὑπὲρ τῆς λύρας πυνθανόμενον, ὡς ἐκήλει μὲν θηρία καὶ φυτὰ καὶ λίθους, ἐμελώιδει δὲ καὶ μετὰ τὴν τοῦ Ὀρφέως συμφορὰν μηδενὸς ἁπτομένου, πρὸς ἔρωτα τοῦ κτήματος ἐμπεσεῖν καὶ διαφθείραντα τὸν ἱερέα μεγάλοις χρήμασιν πεῖσαι ὑποθέντα ἑτέραν ὁμοίαν λύραν δοῦναι αὐτῶι τὴν τοῦ Ὀρφέως. λαβόντα δὲ μεθ’ ἡμέραν μὲν ἐν τῆι πόλει χρῆσθαι οὐκ ἀσφαλὲς οἴεσθαι εἶναι, νύκτωρ δὲ ὑπὸ κόλπου ἔχοντα μόνον προελθεῖν εἰς τὸ προάστειον καὶ προχειρισάμενον κρούειν καὶ συνταράττειν τὰς χορδὰς ἄτεχνον καὶ ἄμουσον νεανίσκον, ἐλπίζοντα μέλη τινὰ θεσπέσια ὑπηχήσειν τὴν λύραν ὑφ’ ὧν πάντας καταθέλξειν καὶ κηλήσειν, καὶ ὅλως μακάριον ἔσεσθαι κληρονομήσαντα τῆς Ὀρφέως μουσικῆς· ἄχρι δὴ συνελθόντας τοὺς κύνας πρὸς τὸν ἦχον – πολλοὶ δὲ ἦσαν αὐτόθι – διασπάσασθαι αὐτόν, ὡς τοῦτο γοῦν ὅμοιον τῶι Ὀρφεῖ παθεῖν καὶ μόνους ἐφ’ ἑαυτὸν συγκαλέσαι τοὺς κύνας. ὅτεπερ καὶ σαφέστατα ὤφθη ὡς οὐχ ἡ λύρα <ἡ> <ἡ> Halm θέλγουσα ἦν, ἀλλὰ ἡ τέχνη καὶ ἡ ὠιδή, ἃ μόνα ἐξαίρετα τῶι Ὀρφεῖ παρὰ τῆς μητρὸς ὑπῆρχεν· ἡ λύρα δὲ ἄλλως κτῆμα ἦν, οὐδὲν ἄμεινον τῶν ἄλλων βαρβίτων.

11 When the Thracian women dismembered Orpheus, they say that his head, together with his lyre, having fallen into the Hebrus, was cast into the Black Gulf and that the head sailed on the lyre, singing a lament for Orpheus, as the story goes, whilst the lyre echoed in answer as the winds fell on the chords. Thus they approached Lesbos to the sound of music, and the Lesbians, taking them up, buried the head where their Baccheion now is and dedicated the lyre in the shrine of Apollo, where, for a long time, it was preserved.

12 After some time had passed, they say that Neanthus, the son of Pittacus the tyrant, learned these things about the lyre, that it enchanted beasts and plants and stones, and that it made music after Orpheus’ death even when no one laid a finger on it. He was overcome by the desire to possess it and after corrupting the priest with a lot of money, he persuaded him to give him the lyre of Orpheus and to put another similar lyre in its place. After he had taken it, he did not think it was safe to make use of it in broad daylight in the city, but during the night, having concealed it in the folds of his clothes, he went alone to the outskirts of the city and taking up the lyre struck the notes and threw the chords into confusion, since he was an unskilled and unmusical youth, but he expected that the lyre would produce divine songs, by which he would enchant and bewitch everyone and that, once he had inherited Orpheus’ music, he would be wholly blessed. Eventually, some dogs—of which there were plenty in the area—were drawn by the noise and tore him to pieces, so that in this respect at any rate he resembled Orpheus, and he summoned only dogs to him. Then it was seen clearly that it was not the lyre that had done the enchanting, but musical skill and song, which belonged to Orpheus alone as his outstanding gifts from his mother. But in other respects the lyre was just an object, no better than other stringed instruments.

Relevant guides Orpheus