Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
384. DEMETRIUS AND MENANDER
Perry 523 (Phaedrus
King Demetrius of Phalerum had seized control of Athens unlawfully. As
is the general custom, the people all came rushing, vying with one another
to salute the victor. The most prominent citizens kissed the hand which
had caught them in its clutches, while silently bemoaning this grievous
reversal of fortune. Not even the retired gentlemen and men of leisure
were absent, although they came creeping in last of all simply in order
to have their attendance duly noted. Among them was Menander, famous for
his comedies. Demetrius had read his work, and although he did not know
Menander personally, he admired the man's poetic genius. Menander made
his entrance on dainty, dawdling footsteps, reeking of perfume and dressed
in flowing robes. When the king noticed him at the end of the line, he
said, 'Who is that faggot, and how dare he strut about like that in my
presence!' The men standing next to him replied, 'That is Menander, the
poet.' Demetrius abruptly changed his demeanor and said, 'Why, no man
could be more handsome!'
of Phalerum had been appointed governor of Athens in 317 B.C.E.
and was himself a man of letters, no doubt well acquainted with the
contemporary playwright Menander. A few years later, in 307 B.C.E.,
Poliorcetes seized power and Demetrius of Phalerum went into exile.
Phaedrus seems to have conflated Demetrius of Phalerum with Demetrius
Poliorcetes in this story.
Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura
Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.
cover, with new ISBN, published in 2008; contents of book unchanged.