Menippus tells the Friend of his extraordinary journey, striking the interlocutor with precise data on the distance from the Earth to the Moon, to the Sun and, finally, to the very sky – the dwelling of the Olympian gods. It turns out that Menippus only returned to Earth today; he stayed with Zeus.
A friend doubts: did Menippe surpassed Daedalus by turning into a hawk or a jackdaw?! He sneers: “Why, oh, the greatest brave man, are you not afraid to fall into the sea and give him the name of Menippean on his behalf, like his son Ikaria?”
Menippus has long been interested in everything related to the nature of the universe: the origin of thunder and lightning, snow and hail, the change of seasons, the diversity of the forms of the Moon and many others. At first he turned to the long-bearded and pale philosophers. But each of them only challenged the opinion of others, asserting the opposite, and demanded that they only believe him. Taking from Menippa considerable money for science, they showered him with a rain of root causes, goals, atoms, voids, matter, ideas and other things. Walking only on the ground, often being infirm and even short-sighted, they boasted about the exact size of the Sun, the stars and the features of the moon-space. How many stages from Megara to Athens, they do not know. But the distance between the luminaries they supposedly known, measure the thickness of the air and the depth of the ocean, the circumference of the Earth
Mennippus is also outraged by the contradictory opinions of the philosophers, their “complete disagreement” on the question of peace: some argue that it is not created and will never perish, others recognize the Creator, but can not explain where he came from. There is no agreement among these scholars about the finiteness and infinity of being, some believe that there are a large number of worlds, and others that this world is the only one. Finally, one of them, far from being a peace-loving person, considers discord to be the father of the entire world order. Just some believe that there are many gods, and others – that God is one. And others generally deny the existence of the gods, throwing the world to the mercy of fate, depriving him of lord and leader.
Finally losing patience from this turmoil of judgments, Menippe decides to find out everything himself, having risen to the sky. Catching a large eagle and a hawk, he cuts them off the wing and, considering the tragic experience of Daedalus with unstable wax, straps tightly to the wings of his shoulders. After trial flights from the acropolis, the daredevil flew around a considerable part of Hellas and reached Taygetos. With this famous mountain, Menippus flies to Olympus, and, having taken the most light food there, climbs into the sky. Breaking through the clouds, he flew to the moon and sat down on it to rest and, like Zeus, surveyed all the known land from Hellas to India.
The earth seemed to Menippus very small – less than the Moon. And only looking closely, he distinguished the Colossus of Rhodes and the tower on Foros. Taking advantage of the advice of the philosopher Empedocles who had taken on the moon from the moon, he remembered that one wing had an eagle wing! But none of the living creatures can see better than the eagle! At the same instant, Menippus began to distinguish even individual people. Some sailed on the sea, the second fought, some worked the land, the fourth was judged;
I saw women, animals and everything else that “feeds fertile soil.”
I saw Menippus and the way people continually sin. Deportment, murders, executions, and robberies took place in the palaces of the Libyan, Thracian, Scythian and other kings. “And the life of private individuals seemed even more ridiculous: here I saw the Hermodorus Epicurean who made a false oath because of a thousand drachmas, the Stoic Agathocles who accused one of his disciples for not paying the money, the speaker Klinia stealing a bowl from the temple of Asklepius. “In a word, in the diverse life of the earthmen, mixed and funny, and tragic, and good, and bad. Most laughed Menippus over those who argue about the boundaries of their possessions, for from above all the Hellas seemed to him “the size of a finger at four.” From such a height people seemed to Menippus akin to ants – after all, ants, apparently, have their own builders, soldiers, musicians and philosophers. Moreover, according to legend, for example,
After looking at all this and laughing heartily, Menippe flew even higher. At parting, Luna asked to intercede for her before Zeus. Earth philosopher philosophers spread all kinds of fables about the Moon, and this, she confesses, is boring. The moon will no longer be able to remain in these places, unless it is wiped out by the philosophers and will not shut the mouth to these chatterboxes. Let Zeus destroy Stoyu, strike with thunder the Academy and stop the endless ranting of the peripatetics. Climbing to the extreme sky, Menippus was met by Hermes, who immediately reported to Zeus about the arrival of the earthly visitor. The king of the gods graciously accepted him and patiently listened. And then he went to that part of the sky from where the prayers and requests of people were best heard.
On the way, Zeus asked Menippus about earthly affairs: how much is the wheat in Hellas now, do we need heavy rains, is there any survivor of the Phidias and whether the robbers were robbed at Dodon. At last the question followed; “What do people think of me?” “About you, Vladyka, their opinion is the most pious: people consider you to be the king of the gods.”
Zeus, however, doubted: there were times when people revered him and as a supreme god, and as a prophet, and as a healer. And when Apollo founded in Delphi a prophet, Asclepius in Pergamum, a hospital in Thrace, the Bendida temple appeared, and in Ephesus Artemis, people ran to new gods, Zeus now only once in five years make sacrifices in Olympia. And Menippe does not dare to object to him…
Sitting on the throne, where he usually listened to prayers, Zeus began to alternately remove the lids from holes resembling wells. From there, people’s requests were heard: “O Zeus, let me reach the royal power!”, “O Zeus, let the onion and garlic grow!”, “O Gods, let my father die as soon as possible!”, “O Zeus, may I I will be crowned at the Olympic Games! “…
The seafarers asked for a favorable wind, the farmers – about rain sending, the boughs – about the sunny weather. Zeus listened to all and acted on his own.
Then he removed the lid from the other well and began to listen to the swearing oaths, and then began to do predictions and oracles. After all, he gave instructions to the winds and the weather: “Let it rain in Scythia today, let thunder roar in Libya, and let it snow in Hellas.” You, Boreas, blow in Lydia, and you, Noth, stay calm. “
After that, Menippus was invited to a feast of the gods, where he reclined next to Pan and the Caribantes – the gods, so to speak, second-rate. Demeter distributed them bread, Dionysus wine, and Poseidon – fish. According to the observations of Menippus, the highest gods themselves were treated only to nectar and ambrosia. The greatest joy was given to them by a child rising from the victims. During dinner, Apollo played cithara, Silenus danced a kordak, and the muse sang from Hesiod’s Theogony and one of Pindar’s victorious odds.
The next morning Zeus ordered all the gods to come to the meeting. Occasion – arrival in the sky of Menippus. Before, Zeus observed with disapproval the activity of some philosophical schools: “Covering themselves with the glorious name of Virtue, wrinkling their foreheads, long beards, they walk around the world, hiding their vile life under a decent appearance.”
These philosophers, corrupting the youth, contribute to the fall of morals. Not caring about the benefits of the state and individuals, they condemn the behavior of others, most respecting those who are loudest of all screaming and swearing. Despising hard-working craftsmen and farmers, they will never help the poor or sick. “But all of them with their impudence are surpassed by the so-called Epicureans, and blaming us, the gods, without any embarrassment, they reach that they dare to assert that the gods do not care about human affairs at all…”
All the gods are indignant and ask immediately to punish philosophers. Zeus agrees. But I have to postpone the execution of the verdict: the next four months are sacred – the world of God has been declared. But already next year all philosophers will be mercilessly exterminated by Zeus’ lightning. As for Menippus, although they greeted him here favorably, it was decided to take his wings away, “… so that he no longer appears to us and let Hermes bring him to Earth today.”
Thus ended the meeting of the gods. Menippus returned to Earth and hurried to Keramik to inform the philosophers walking there the latest news.