‘Which of the gods was it that brought the two together in strife?’, asks the Iliad as it launches its narrative (1.8); early in the Odyssey*Zeus complains that mortals blame the gods when they are responsible for their own sufferings (1.32–3). Both poems however swiftly complicate any attempt to limit explanations to either the human or the divine level. Achilles and Agamemnon quarrel, Achilles kills Hector, and Odysseus gets home, largely because they are the people that they are, but gods often intervene too. The Greeks win because they are better fighters; they also win because more gods are on their side. The poems also suggest another form of explanation, not tracing events to their origins but relating them to a familiar pattern of human life. Suffering is the lot of humanity (Il. 24.525–6); outrages like those of the suitors are punished. Life is like that, and one should not be surprised.
Timagenes of Alexandria (1), according to Suda the son of a royal banker (βασιλικοῦ ἀργυραμοιβοῦ υἱός), was a Greek rhetor and historian, who came to Rome as a captive in 55 bce with Gabinius(2) and was ransomed and subsequently set free by Sulla’s son Faustus Cornelius Sulla (FGrH 88 T1).1 He lived and worked in Rome, and is mentioned alongside Caecilius (1) of Caleacte and Craton as a distinguished rhetor (T 1 and 2). Initially a favourite of the Emperor Augustus, he later incurred the princeps’ displeasure by his “reckless wit” (temeraria urbanitas) and went to live at the house of C. Asinius Pollio, where he enjoyed continuing popularity (T 2 and 3). “He wrote many books” (T 1), but all that is extant is the title of On Kings (peri basileōn), an attempt at writing a universal history of foreign kings from the earliest times to Augustus. Two historical fragments on papyri of the Roman period, respectively, P.