Sunday, June 17, 2018


Young People

Homer, Odyssey 7.294 (tr. A.T. Murray, rev. George E. Dimock):
For younger people are always thoughtless.

αἰεὶ γάρ τε νεώτεροι ἀφραδέουσιν.
My children, of course, are the exception to the rule. To each of them one could say (Homer, Odyssey 4.611):
You are of good blood, dear child, that you speak thus.

αἵματός εἰς ἀγαθοῖο, φίλον τέκος, οἷ᾿ ἀγορεύεις.
Related posts:

Saturday, June 16, 2018



Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892), "Battle of Brunanburh," lines 15-19, in Tennyson, A Selected Edition. Edited by Christopher Ricks (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), p. 622:
        Theirs was a greatness
        Got from their Grandsires —
        Theirs that so often in
        Strife with their enemies
Struck for their hoards and their hearths and their homes.
The original, lines 7-10, from The Anglo-Saxon Minor Poems. Edited by Elliott Van Kirk Dobbie (New York: Columbia University Press, 1942 = The Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records, VI), pp. 16-17:
                                  swa him geæþele wæs
from cneomægum,    þæt hi æt campe oft
wiþ laþra gehwæne    land ealgodon,
hord and hamas.

Friday, June 15, 2018


Something Knavish

Appian, Civil Wars 1.6.54 (tr. Horace White):
It seems that the ancient Romans, like the Greeks, abhorred the taking of interest on loans as something knavish, and hard on the poor, and leading to contention and enmity; and by the same kind of reasoning the Persians considered lending as having itself a tendency to deceit and lying.

ἀποστραφῆναι γάρ μοι δοκοῦσιν οἱ πάλαι Ῥωμαῖοι, καθάπερ Ἕλληνες, τὸ δανείζειν ὡς καπηλικὸν καὶ βαρὺ τοῖς πένησι καὶ δύσερι καὶ ἐχθροποιόν, ᾧ λόγῳ καὶ Πέρσαι τὸ κίχρασθαι ὡς ἀπατηλόν τε καὶ φιλοψευδές.
Related posts:


Few versus Many Readers

Henry Miller (1891-1980), "Autobiographical Note," The Cosmological Eye (New York: New Directions, 1961), pp. 365-371 (at 371):
I want to be read by less and less people; I have no interest in the life of the masses, nor in the intentions of the existing governments of the world. I hope and believe that the whole civilised world will be wiped out in the next hundred years or so. I believe that man can exist, and in an infinitely better, larger way, without "civilisation".
I would have written "fewer and fewer" instead of "less and less". But I'm just a nit-picking pedant, not a famous writer. On writing for a small, select audience, see:


Back Home

Homer, Odyssey 4.521-523 (tr. A.T. Murray, rev. George E. Dimock):
Then indeed with rejoicing did Agamemnon set foot on his native land, and laying hold of his land he kissed it, and many were the hot tears that streamed from his eyes, for welcome to him was the sight of his land.

ἦ τοι ὁ μὲν χαίρων ἐπεβήσετο πατρίδος αἴης
καὶ κύνει ἁπτόμενος ἣν πατρίδα· πολλὰ δ᾽ ἀπ᾽ αὐτοῦ
δάκρυα θερμὰ χέοντ᾽, ἐπεὶ ἀσπασίως ἴδε γαῖαν.
Related posts:

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


A Gift to Posterity

George Orwell, "A Good Word for the Vicar of Bray," The Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters, IV: In Front of Your Nose, 1945-1950 (London: Secker & Warburg, 1968), pp. 149-153 (at 151):
The planting of a tree, especially one of the long-living hardwood trees, is a gift which you can make to posterity at almost no cost and with almost no trouble, and if the tree takes root it will far outlive the visible effect of any of your other actions, good or evil.
Id. (at 152-153):
A thing which I regret, and which I will try to remedy some time, is that I have never in my life planted a walnut. Nobody does plant them nowadays—when you see a walnut it is almost invariably an old tree. If you plant a walnut you are planting it for your grandchildren, and who cares a damn for his grandchildren? Nor does anybody plant a quince, a mulberry or a medlar. But these are garden trees which you can only be expected to plant if you have a patch of ground of your own. On the other hand, in any hedge or in any piece of waste ground you happen to be walking through, you can do something to remedy the appalling massacre of trees, especially oaks, ashes, elms and beeches, which has happened during the war years.

Even an apple tree is liable to live for about 100 years, so that the Cox I planted in 1936 may still be bearing fruit well into the twenty-first century. An oak or a beech may live for hundreds of years and be a pleasure to thousands or tens of thousands of people before it is finally sawn up into timber. I am not suggesting that one can discharge all one's obligations towards society by means of a private re-afforestation scheme. Still, it might not be a bad idea, every time you commit an antisocial act, to make a note of it in your diary, and then, at the appropriate season, push an acorn into the ground.
Related posts:


Like a Plank of a Shipwreck

Francis Bacon (1561-1626), Advancement of Learning, Book II:
Antiquities, or remnants of history, are, as was said, tanquam tabula naufragii: when industrious persons, by an exact and scrupulous diligence and observation, out of monuments, names, words, proverbs, traditions, private records and evidences, fragments of stories, passages of books that concern not story, and the like, do save and recover somewhat from the deluge of time.
On the source of the phrase "tanquam tabula naufragii" see Anthony Grafton, Worlds Made of Words (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009), pp. 137-139.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018



Appian, Civil Wars 1.12.104 (on Sulla; tr. Horace White):
But I think that because he was weary of war, weary of power, weary of Rome, he finally fell in love with rural life.

ἀλλά μοι δοκεῖ κόρον τε πολέμων καὶ κόρον ἀρχῆς καὶ κόρον ἄστεος λαβὼν ἐπὶ τέλει καὶ ἀγροικίας ἐρασθῆναι.

Sunday, June 10, 2018


Lord Bacchus

Aristophanes, Women at the Thesmophoria 987-1000 (tr. Jeffrey Henderson):
This way, Lord Bacchus crowned with ivy,
do personally be our leader:
and with revels I will hymn you,
who love the dance!
Euius, you Noisemaker,
son of Zeus and Semele,
who enjoy the dances
of Nymphs at their charming songs
as you ramble over the mountains—
Euius, Euius, euoi!—
striking up the dances all night long;
and all around you their cries
echo on Cithaeron,
and the mountains shady
with dark leaves and the rocky
valleys reverberate.
And all around you ivy tendrils
twine in lovely bloom.

ἡγοῦ δέ γ᾿ ὧδ᾿ αὐτὸς σύ,
κισσοφόρε Βακχεῖε
δέσποτ᾿· ἐγὼ δὲ κώμοις
σε φιλοχόροισι μέλψω.

Εὔιε, ὦ Διὸς σὺ        990
Βρόμιε, καὶ Σεμέλας παῖ,
χοροῖς τερπόμενος
κατ᾿ ὄρεα Νυμφᾶν
ἐρατοῖς ἐν ὕμνοις,
ὦ Εὔι᾿ Εὔι᾿, εὐοῖ,
<παννύχιος> ἀναχορεύων.

ἀμφὶ δὲ σοὶ κτυπεῖται        995
Κιθαιρώνιος ἠχώ,
μελάμφυλλά τ᾿ ὄρη
δάσκια πετρώδεις
τε νάπαι βρέμονται·
κύκλῳ δὲ περί σε κισσὸς
εὐπέταλος ἕλικι θάλλει.        1000

990 Εὔιε, ὦ Διὸς σὺ Enger: εὔιον ὦ Διόνυσε R
994 suppl. Coulon (ἡδόμενος Austin)
Henderson translates φιλοχόροισι (989) as if it modifies σε, although of course it modifies κώμοις.

Benjamin Bickley Rogers' version:
Come, the Lord of wine and pleasure,
Evoi, Bacchus, lead us thou!
Yea, for Thee we adore!
Child of Semele, thee
With thy glittering ivy-wreaths,
Thee with music and song
Ever and ever we praise.
Thee with thy wood-nymphs delightedly singing,
    Evoi! Evoi! Evoi!
Over the joyous hills the sweet strange melody ringing.
    Hark! Cithaeron resounds,
    Pleased the notes to prolong;
    Hark! the bosky ravines
    And the wild slopes thunder and roar,
    Volleying back the song.
    Round thee the ivy fair
    With delicate tendril twines.

Saturday, June 09, 2018


My True Nature

The Selected Poems of Du Fu. Translated by Burton Watson (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), p. 94 (title "On the Spur of the Moment"):
River slopes, already midmonth of spring;
under the blossoms, bright mornings again.
I look up, eager to watch the birds;
turn my head, answering what I took for a call.
Reading books, I skip the hard parts;
faced with wine, I keep my cup filled.
These days I've gotten to know the old man of Emei.1
He understand this idleness that is my true nature.


1. Emei is a famous mountain southwest of Chengdu.
The Poetry of Du Fu. Edited and Translated by Stephen Owen, Vol. 3 (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2016), p. 3:
On the river floodplain it is already mid-spring,
under the flowers once again a clear morning.
I raise my face, avid to watch the birds,
I turn my head, mistakenly to answer someone.
When I read, I pass over the hard words,
with ale before me, full pots are frequent.
Recently I've gotten to know an old fellow from Emei,
he understands that my indolence is my true nature.


Visitors from Abroad

Cicero, On Behalf of King Deiotarus 32.12 (tr. N.H. Watts):
What headstrong, what pitiless, what unbridled barbarity is this you display! Is it for this that you have visited our city? — to subvert that city's laws and traditions ... ?

quae est ista tam impotens, tam crudelis, tam immoderata inhumanitas? idcirco in hanc urbem venisti ut huius urbis iura et exempla corrumperes ... ?


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?