December 10, 2012

High and low estate in the world to come

FRIEND. Tell me, Menippos: Those who lie in lofty above-ground tombs, replete with images and epitaphs and upright slabs - do they command more honor in the underworld relative to the common run of dead?

MENIPPOS. You've got it backwards, guy! Even Mausolus - the Carian made famous by his tomb - if you had seen him you would still be laughing, I am sure, so despicable was the cranny in which he was flung. Far from bringing him distinction among the rabble of the other dead, the extent of his monument's benefit was that a burden of equivalent weight pressed down on him. The tenant of any plot that Aiakos marks off must be content to lie wedged within its ambit, you see, be it no more than one foot square.
      Buddy, you'd get an even bigger laugh if you could see the kings and satraps over us reduced to beggary, salt-fishmongering and teaching the alphabet. By all who happen by they are abused and smacked about the head like no-account chattel. Philip of Macedon is given out as a cobbler-for-hire of rotten sandals, and when he was pointed out to me in his corner I could control myself no longer. And the Polycrateses, Xerxeses and Darii of the world could be seen panhandling at every fork in the road.

Lucian, Menippos 17