This section is from the book "Toy Dogs And Their Ancestors", by Neville Lytton. Also available from Amazon: Toy Dogs And Their Ancestors: Including The History And Management Of Toy Spaniels, Pekingese, Japanese, And Pomeranians.
"The tale is told that Poliarch, the Athenian, went to the preposterous and prodigal extreme of giving a public funeral to the dogs and cocks that he had kept for pleasure. He used to invite his friends to these ceremonies, which were very solemn and splendid; and had memorial pillars dedicated to his pets with laudatory words engraved on the stone." 1
Pliny says: 2 "About twenty-five miles from Issa lies Corcyra, which is also called the Black Town, together with a town which originally was a settlement of the Criedians. Between Corcyra and Illyricum is Melita, which has given its name, Callimachus tells us, to the species of small dogs known as Melitae Fifteen miles further on lies the seven Stag Rocks."
The Melita mentioned is the modern Meleda, or Zapuntello, in the Adriatic. Strabo associates the dogs with the other Melita (Malta). Stephanus of Byzantium, in his topography, says that he is inclined to support Pliny's view.
Artemidorus lived in the time of Marcus Aurelius. He discourses on the uses and the virtues and vices of various kinds of dogs. Then he says: "But Maltese dogs represent the supreme pleasure of life and the greatest of all delights. Consequently when ill of any kind happens to them they are a source of grief and anxiety." 3
1 Book VIII, Chapter IV (Type And Standards). " Poliarch's Preposterous Prodigality." Translated from " Aeliana Varia Historia," Tauchnitz edition, 1829.
2 "Natural History," Book III, Chapter XXX, 23-79 a.d. Translated from "C Plinii Secundi Naturalis Historia," edited by D. Detlefsen, Berlin, 1866.
3 "The Interpretation of Dreams," Book II, Chapter XI (Pomeranians), About Dogs and Hunting. Translated from "Artemidori Oneirocritica " (APTEMIAIOPOI ONE1POKPITIKA), edited by Johann Gottfried Reiff at Leipzig, in 1805.
(Some tranlators would make the passage merely a prosaic comparison between dogs used for business and dogs used for pleasure, but the superlatives are very emphatic.)
Aristotle's "Zoology" is what modern zoologists would characterise as a string of descriptions rather than a classification. Among the large miscellany of facts adduced the writer observes that the marten is about the size of a Maltese dog of the little, tiny sort." 1
The Greek Anthology gives us the following: " The stone on this spot commemorates the swift-footed Maltese dog who was the very faithful guardian of Eumelos. In his lifetime he was called the Bull, but now only the silent pathways of the night reecho the sound of his voice. 2
The Greek Anthology is a collection of collections of ancient Greek poems made by Maximus Planudes, a Byzantine monk, about the middle of the fourteenth century. His compilation summed up similar works produced by Constantine Cephalas in the beginning of the tenth century, by Philip Thessalonica in the time of Trajan, by Agathias in the sixth century, and by Meleager about 100 b.c.
Lucian III, 432, gives an account of a banquet given by Aristaenetus on the marriage of his daughter Clean-this to Zeno, a rich young heir with philosophic tastes. Among the guests is Alcidamas, a pompous, quarrelsome person who likes to attract attention to himself and is fond of speechifying. When a seat is offered him he protests that reclining at banquets is effeminate, and insists on taking his share of the feast walking about, at the same time delivering philosophic harangues and interfering with the waiters as they ply to and fro with the viands.
11626. Book IX, Chapter VI (How To Breed The Best Type Of Short-Nosed Toy). From the Teubner Text, revised by L. Dittmeyer, Leipzig, 1907.
2 "Threnodial Epigraphs," fourteenth century, VII, 211. Tymneus on Eumelos's Maltese Dog.
A pause occurs in the proceedings, and to fill it up the host calls in his fool, who amuses the company by gymnastic dancing, extemporary verses and personal pleasantries.
When the fool made a joke about any of them they would all laugh, but when he accosted Alcidamas and made fun of him, the latter turned round in a rage and called the fool a wretched little Maltese dog.
The dispute ends in a boxing bout between Alcidamas and the jester in which the former is worsted.1
The Lapithae were an imaginary mountain tribe of Thessaly who were very fierce and strong. Their sovereign, Pirdthous, was related to the Centaurs, who on his marriage with Hippodamia came, half tipsy, to try and steal the bride. A fearful struggle ensued, in which the Lapithae were victorious.
Theophrastus represents the Coxcomb as a man who is exceedingly nice and particular about trifles, especially in connection with his personal appearance, and is anxious about the impression he makes on other people.2
On the death of his little Maltese dog he sets up a monument to the animal and has a small column raised, inscribed with the words, "Klados of Malta" 2
1 "The Banquet of Lapithse," Section 19, 160 ad.
2 Characters, XXI, 35, 390 b.c "The Coxcomb."
3 Some commentators take this word as a proper name - as a common noun it means "young shoot" or "sprig." Others read which means a musical sound, as of running water, or a clamour or noise of disputation. Other reads beautiful, or beauty.
Lucian gives a dialogue consisting mainly of a report of a philosophic conversation about superstition and spiritualism as opposed to rationalism.
In the passage quoted, Eucrates is represented as sitting on a sofa reading Plato in the effort to forget the loss of his wife, who has died seven days previously, and whose favourite possessions he has had burnt on her pyre. Suddenly she appears to him in spirit form.
"The moment I saw her," he continued, " I threw my arms round her neck and wept aloud. She told me to leave off, and complained that, although I had consulted her wishes in everything else, I had neglected to burn one of her golden sandals, which she said had fallen under a chest. We had been unable to find this sandal, and had only burnt the fellow of it. While we were still conversing, a hateful little Maltese terrier that was lying under the sofa began barking, and my wife immediately vanished. The sandal, however, was found beneath the chest, and was eventually burnt." 1
1 l " The Lover of Lies," 160 a.d.