Tuesday, October 21, 2014



Homer, Odyssey 17.485–487 (tr. George E. Dimock):
And the gods do, in the guise of strangers from afar, put on all manner of shapes, and visit the cities, beholding the violence and the righteousness of men.

καί τε θεοὶ ξείνοισιν ἐοικότες ἀλλοδαποῖσι,
παντοῖοι τελέθοντες, ἐπιστρωφῶσι πόληας,
ἀνθρώπων ὕβριν τε καὶ εὐνομίην ἐφορῶντες.


Seven Cities

Greek Anthology 16.297 (tr. W.R. Paton):
Seven cities claim to be the root of Homer: Cyme, Smyrna, Chios, Colophon, Pylos, Argos, Athens.

ἑπτὰ ἐριδμαίνουσι πόλεις διὰ ῥίζαν Ὁμήρου,
Κύμη, Σμύρνα, Χίος, Κολοφών, Πύλος, Ἄργος, Ἀθῆναι.
Greek Anthology 16.298 (tr. W.R. Paton):
Seven cities strive for the learned root of Homer: Smyrna, Chios, Colophon, Ithaca, Pylos, Argos, Athens.

ἑπτὰ πόλεις μάρναντο σοφὴν διὰ ῥίζαν Ὁμήρου,
Σμύρνα, Χίος, Κολοφών, Ἰθάκη, Πύλος, Ἄργος, Ἀθῆναι.
In both poems the cities, in asyndeton, fill up a hexameter.

Related posts:


The Better Part

John Davidson (1857-1909), Sentences and Paragraphs (London: Lawrence & Bullen, 1893), p. 22:
He who dares manfully to lounge and take his leisure, no matter what his calling or what his necessity, often chooses the better part.
Cf. Luke 10:40-42.


Cowardice and Bravery

Homer, Iliad 13.275-291 (Idomeneus to Meriones; tr. Samuel Butler):
I know you for a brave man: you need not tell me. If the best men at the ships were being chosen to go on an ambush — and there is nothing like this for showing what a man is made of; it comes out then who is cowardly and who brave; the coward will change colour at every touch and turn; [280] he is full of fears, and keeps shifting his weight first on one knee and then on the other; his heart beats fast as he thinks of death, and one can hear the chattering of his teeth; whereas the brave man will not change colour nor be [285] frightened on finding himself in ambush, but is all the time longing to go into action — if the best men were being chosen for such a service, no one could make light of your courage nor feats of arms. If you were struck by a dart or smitten in close combat, it would not be from behind, in your neck nor back, [290] but the weapon would hit you in the chest or belly as you were pressing forward to a place in the front ranks.

οἶδ᾽ ἀρετὴν οἷός ἐσσι· τί σε χρὴ ταῦτα λέγεσθαι;        275
εἰ γὰρ νῦν παρὰ νηυσὶ λεγοίμεθα πάντες ἄριστοι
ἐς λόχον, ἔνθα μάλιστ᾽ ἀρετὴ διαείδεται ἀνδρῶν,
ἔνθ᾽ ὅ τε δειλὸς ἀνὴρ ὅς τ᾽ ἄλκιμος ἐξεφαάνθη·
τοῦ μὲν γάρ τε κακοῦ τρέπεται χρὼς ἄλλυδις ἄλλῃ,
οὐδέ οἱ ἀτρέμας ἧσθαι ἐρητύετ᾽ ἐν φρεσὶ θυμός,        280
ἀλλὰ μετοκλάζει καὶ ἐπ᾽ ἀμφοτέρους πόδας ἵζει,
ἐν δέ τέ οἱ κραδίη μεγάλα στέρνοισι πατάσσει
κῆρας ὀϊομένῳ, πάταγος δέ τε γίγνετ᾽ ὀδόντων·
τοῦ δ᾽ ἀγαθοῦ οὔτ᾽ ἂρ τρέπεται χρὼς οὔτέ τι λίην
ταρβεῖ, ἐπειδὰν πρῶτον ἐσίζηται λόχον ἀνδρῶν,        285
ἀρᾶται δὲ τάχιστα μιγήμεναι ἐν δαῒ λυγρῇ·
οὐδέ κεν ἔνθα τεόν γε μένος καὶ χεῖρας ὄνοιτο.
εἴ περ γάρ κε βλεῖο πονεύμενος ἠὲ τυπείης
οὐκ ἂν ἐν αὐχέν᾽ ὄπισθε πέσοι βέλος οὐδ᾽ ἐνὶ νώτῳ,
ἀλλά κεν ἢ στέρνων ἢ νηδύος ἀντιάσειε        290
πρόσσω ἱεμένοιο μετὰ προμάχων ὀαριστύν.
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Monday, October 20, 2014


No Time for Literature

John Davidson (1857-1909), Sentences and Paragraphs (London: Lawrence & Bullen, 1893), pp. 19-20:
People complain nowadays that they have no time for literature, there are so many newspapers to read, every right-thinking person being expected to know daily the current news of the world, not later in the evening than the issue of the "extra special." It is supposed that this is quite a modern excuse for the decay of the reading of literature; and sighs are deeply breathed for the time when "Clarissa Harlowe" was deemed too short, when "Evelina" was voted brilliant, or when nobody found the Waverley Novels tiresome. And yet, since we began to have a prose literature this complaint has always existed. The melancholy Butler, as far back as 1614, puts it thus, speaking of the majority: "if they read a book at any time, 'tis an English chronicle, 'St. Huon of Bordeaux,' 'Amadas de Gaul,' etc., a play-book or some pamphlet of news." The major part of the reading public has been perennially interested in current events, and the man who says he can't find time to read literature because it is a social duty to be acquainted with news, makes a virtue of curiosity, like any Greek frequenter of the Areopagus or Jacobean subscriber to the "Staple of News."
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.


Wine, Pure Wine

Aurelian Townshend (1583-1649), "A Bacchanall," Poems and Masks, ed. E.K. Chambers (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1912), pp. 7-8:
Bacchus, I-acchus, fill our Brains
  As well as Bowls with sprightly strains:
Let Souldiers fight for pay or praise,
  And mony be the Misers wish,
Poor Schollers study all their dayes,
  And Gluttons glory in their dish:
    'Tis wine, pure wine, revives sad souls,
    Therefore give us the cheer in Bowls.
                        Bacchus, I-acchus, &c.

Bacchus, I-acchus, &c.
Let Minions Marshall ev'ry hair,
  Or in a Lovers lock delight,
And Artificiall colours wear,
  We have the Native Red and White:
    'Tis Wine, pure Wine, &c.

Bacchus, I-acchus, &c.
Take Phesant Poults, and calved Sammon,
  Or how to please your pallats think,
Give us a salt West-phalia Gammon,
  Not meat to eat, but meat to drink:
    'Tis Wine, pure Wine, &c.

Bacchus, I-acchus, &c.
Some have the Ptisick, some the Rhume,
  Some have the Palsie, some the Gout,
Some swell with fat, and some consume,
  But they are sound that drink all out:
    'Tis Wine, pure Wine, &c.

Bacchus, I-acchus, &c.
The backward spirit it makes brave,
  That forward which before was dull;
Those grow good fellows that were grave,
  And kindness flows from cups brim full:
    'Tis Wine, pure Wine, &c.

Bacchus, I-acchus, &c.
Some men want Youth, and some want health,
  Some want a Wife and some a Punke,
Some men want wit, and some want wealth,
  But they want nothing that are drunke:
    'Tis Wine, pure Wine, &c.


A Poem by Leo the Philosopher

A poem by Leo the Philosopher (Greek Anthology 15.12; tr. W.R. Paton, with his note):
Thou art kind to me, Fortune, in adorning me with the most sweet restfulness of Epicurus and giving me calm to enjoy it. What need have I of men's activity with all its cares? I desire not wealth, a blind and inconstant friend, nor honours, for the honours of mortals are a feeble dream. Away with thee, murky den of Circe, for I am ashamed, being of heavenly origin, to eat acorns like a beast. I hate the sweet food of the Lotus-eaters that causes men to abandon their country. I reject as my enemy the seductive music of the Sirens, but I pray to gain from God the flower that saves the soul, moly1 that protects from evil doctrines, and stopping my ears securely with wax may I escape the ill inborn impulse. Thus speaking and thus writing may I reach the end of my days.

1 The magic herb of Hom. Od. 10, 305.

Εὖγε Τύχη με ποεῖς, ἀπραγμοσύνῃ μ᾽ Ἐπικούρου
ἡδίστῃ κομέουσα, καὶ ἡσυχίῃ τέρπουσα·
τίπτε δέ μοι χρέος ἀσχολίης πολυκηδέος ἀνδρῶν;
οὐκ ἐθέλω πλοῦτον, τυφλὸν φίλον, ἀλλοπρόσαλλον,
οὐ τιμάς· τιμαὶ δὲ βροτῶν ἀμενηνὸς ὄνειρος.        5
ἔρρε μοι, ὦ Κίρκης δνοφερὸν σπέος· αἰδέομαι γὰρ
οὐράνιος γεγαὼς βαλάνους ἅτε θηρίον ἔσθειν·
μισῶ Λωτοφάγων γλυκερὴν λιπόπατριν ἐδωδήν·
Σειρήνων τε μέλος καταγωγὸν ἀναίνομαι ἐχθρόν·
ἀλλὰ λαβεῖν θεόθεν ψυχοσσόον εὔχομαι ἄνθος,        10
μῶλυ, κακῶν δοξῶν ἀλκτήριον ὦτα δὲ κηρῷ
ἀσφαλέως κλείσας προφυγεῖν γενετήσιον ὁρμήν.
ταῦτα λέγων τε γράφων τε πέρας βιότοιο κιχείην.
The first word of the ninth line is missing an accent in the Loeb Classical library text—The Greek Anthology with an English Translation by W.R. Paton, Vol. V (London: William Heinemann, 1918), p. 118. I don't know if this was corrected in later printings.

There is a more recent edition in L.G. Westerink, "Leo the Philosopher: 'Job' and Other Poems," Illinois Classical Studies 11.1/2 (Spring/Fall 1986) 193-222 (this poem on pp. 199-200, numbered IX).

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Word-for-Word Translation

Aurelian Townshend (1583-1649), "To the Right Honourable, the Lord Cary, Eldest Sonne to the Earle of Monmouth," lines 1-6, in his Poems and Masks, ed. E.K. Chambers (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1912), p. 43:
Verball Translators sticke to the bare Text,
Sometimes so close, the Reader is perplex't,
Finding the words, to finde the wit that sprung
From the first writer in his native tongue.
The spirit of an Authour being fled,
His naked lines looke like a body dead.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.


Lives Unlike Our Own

Victor Davis Hanson, Warfare and Agriculture in Classical Greece, rev. ed. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), pp. 2-3:
It is all too easy for us today to forget these material conditions of the past and thus the critical role of warfare and agriculture in antiquity. Few citizens of the United States have served in an army; almost none—thank God—have killed someone in battle or destroyed the property of an enemy. Our efforts at protection are limited to bars on our windows, electronic alarms, blinking lights, and automatic locks; we are not dependent on armor and weapons over the hearth and the muscular condition of our right arms. Nighttime without streetlights, police cruisers, or a powerful flashlight is full of foreboding and terror—as the panic that follows the occasional urban blackout attests. Only about 1 percent of our population now lives on farms; most of us have no idea how to grow food, build our own house, hitch up a horse, or butcher a pig. An outbreak of food poisoning at the local fast-food franchise causes national scandal. We rarely walk more than a few hundred yards a day. The majority of Americans live in temperature-controlled rooms and approach hysteria when the electricity that powers our ranges, air conditioners, televisions, and washers ceases for a few hours. The lack of running water or phones for more than a day is the stuff of lawsuits against our municipal utilities. Our knowledge of dirty work, physical violence, and the savagery of the natural landscape itself is mostly limited to what we see on television or read in newspapers, magazines, and books; those with muscular physiques owe their impressive anatomy to weight machines, high-tech sneakers, and entertaining videos. And they win such contours without the tears, wounds, scratches, and blisters that routinely accompany the physical effort to plant, prune, harvest, and plow. Instead, we work out in sanitary and often inviting gyms, where cool air, piped-in music, scented towels, and hot showers are prerequisites. The color of our complexion and the smoothness of our skin are integral to this look of fitness, not calluses and disfiguring scars, which for thousands of years were the natural wages of a hard stomach and ample biceps.

How difficult it is, then, to remember that the Greeks not only did things that we would not, but also things that we could not do. How important it is as well to keep in mind that dramatic performances, democracy itself, vase painting, Ionic columns, and bronze statues were the veneer of a culture that at its heart was in an endless war to feed and protect itself from the savageries of humans and nature. In short, we especially of the deskbound academic class who write our histories must remember that the Athenians, the Thebans, and the Argives lived lives centered around farming and fighting, lives so foreign from our own as now to be almost unimaginable.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Argumentum ex Silentio

Strabo 1.2.22 (tr. Horace Leonard Jones):
The fact that he did not mention them is no sign that he did not know about them — he does not mention his own native country, either, nor many other things — but rather would one say that Homer thought the best-known facts were not worth mentioning to those who already knew them.

εἰ δὲ μὴ ἐμνήσθη τούτων, οὐ τοῦτο σημεῖον τοῦ ἀγνοεῖν (οὐδὲ γὰρ τῆς αὐτοῦ πατρίδος ἐμνήσθη οὐδὲ πολλῶν ἄλλων) ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον τὰ λίαν γνώριμα ὄντα φαίη τις ἂν δόξαι μὴ ἄξια μνήμης εἶναι πρὸς τοὺς εἰδότας.


Twelve Gods

Ennius, Annals, Book I, fragment XXXVII (62-63) Vahlen, in Ennianae Poesis Reliquiae, 2nd ed. (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1903), p. 11:
Iuno, Vesta, Minerva, Ceres, Diana, Venus, Mars
Mercurius, Iovis, Neptunus, Vulcanus, Apollo.
This is the earliest example of asyndeton filling hexameters in Latin. Thanks very much to Angelo Mercado for pointing this out to me. I don't have access to Otto Skutsch's edition of Ennius' Annals.

Related posts:


What I Hate about Amazon

What a deal! Otto Skutsch's edition of Ennius' Annals for only $26.99 in paperback!

But click on the $26.99 price and what appears? Ethel Mary Steuart's edition:

Amazon needs to hire some librarians.

Related post: Amazon Books.

Friday, October 17, 2014


De Pudendis Antiquitatis Opuscula Harvardiana

Andrew Garrett and Leslie Kurke, "Pudenda Asiae Minoris," Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 96 (1994) 75-83 (at 75, n. 1):
These studies are also the latest de pudendis antiquitatis opuscula Harvardiana, following seminal work by C. Watkins ("La famille indo-européenne de grec ὄρχις: linguistique, poétique, et mythologie," Bulletin del la société de linguistique 70 [1975] 11-25) and other contributions by Watkins ("Latin suppus," Journal of Indo-European Studies 1 [1973] 394-399; "ANOΣTEOΣ ON ΠOΔA TENΔEI," in Étrennes de septantaine ... offerts à Michel Lejeune [Paris 1978 (Études et commentaires 91)] 231-235; "A Greco-Hittite Etymology," in J. Tischler, ed., Serta Indogermanica: Festschrift für Günter Neumann [Innsbruck 1982 (Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft 40)] 455-457) and H.C. Melchert ("Pudenda hethitica," Journal of Cuneiform Studies 35 [1983] 137-145).
Joshua T. Katz, "Testimonia Ritus Italici: Male Genitalia, Solemn Statements, and a New Latin Sound Law," Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 98 (1998) 183-217 (at 183-184, n. 1):
This paper is my contribution to what Andrew Garrett and Leslie Kurke, "Pudenda Asiae Minoris," HSCP 96 (1994) 75 n. 1 call "de pudendis antiquitatis opuscula Harvardiana," which include Calvert Watkins's classic article on the word for 'testicle,' "La famille indo-européenne de grec ὄρχις: linguistique, poétique, et mythologie," BSL 70 (1975) 11-26 ( = Selected Writings, ed. Lisi Oliver [Innsbruck 1994 (Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft 80)] 2.520-535); see also Stephanie W. Jamison's discussion of the meaning of Atharvavedic kákṣa- in 6.127.2 and its associations with muṣká- in "Linguistic and Philological Remarks on some Vedic Body Parts," in Calvert Watkins ed., Studies in Memory of Warren Cowgill (1929-1985): Papers from the Fourth East Coast Indo-European Conference, Cornell University, June 6-9, 1985 (Berlin 1987 [Studies in Indo-European Language and Culture N.S. 3]) 85-88 and passim.
I don't know if there have been any additions to this unofficial series since 1998. I should have these opuscula privately printed, to add to my collection of curiosa.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Asyndeton Filling Hexameters in Corippus

Thanks very much to Ethan Osten for drawing my attention to Corippus, Iohannis 1.44-46:
quis lacrimas, clades, praedas, incendia, mortes,
insidias, gemitus, tormentum, vincula, raptus
explicet aut miseros possit numerare dolores?
Line 45 is an example of a hexameter consisting entirely of nouns in asyndeton (raptus is of course an accusative plural fourth declension noun here, not a participle). Similar examples (with different parts of speech), also from Corippus' Iohannis, include:

4.222 (where adulter is an adjective, not a noun):
perfídus, infelix, atrox, insulsus, adulter
magnanimus, mitis, sapiens, fortissimus, insons
ardet, anhelat, hiat, pallet, rubet, aestuat, alget
Two more examples, these from Corippus' In Laudem Iustini Minoris:

saltatus, risus, discursus, gaudia, plausus
aesculus, alnus, acer, terebinthus, populus, ornus
Related posts:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


The Weight of Mankind

M.L. West, Indo-European Poetry and Myth (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 23:
Some myths that occur both in India and in Greece can be traced to the far-reaching influence of Mesopotamia. For instance, in one of the poems of the Greek Epic Cycle, the Cypria, it was related that once upon a time Earth was oppressed by the excessive numbers of people milling about on top of her. Zeus took pity on her and conceived the plan of lightening the burden by means of the Trojan War. A similar myth is found in the Mahābhārata. The earth once complained to Brahmā of the ever-increasing weight of mankind, and Brahmā created death to alleviate the problem. Some have inferred from the coincidence that an Indo-European tradition lies behind the story, although it appears only in a late phase of the Greek epic tradition and at an even later date in India. What is more to the point is that a similar myth is attested over a thousand years earlier in Mesopotamia. The natural conclusion is that the Greek and the Indian poets were both using a motif somehow derived from Mesopotamia, not one inherited from Graeco-Aryan antiquity.56

56 Cypria fr. 1; MBh. 1.58, 3.142, 11.8.20–6, 12.248–50, etc.; V. Pisani, ZDMG 103 (1953), 127 f. = Schmitt (1968), 156 f.; id. (1969), 64 f.; Durante (1976), 61; W. Ruben, Sitzb. Ak. Wiss. DDR 1973 (24), 50–5; C. Vielle in L. Isebaert and R. Lebrun (edd.), Quaestiones Homericae (Louvain–Namur 1998), 275–90; West (1997), 480–2.


Poor Things

Peter Levi (1931-2000), interview with Jannika Hurwitt, Paris Review (Fall 1979):
I don't think there's anything so odd about being a classical scholar. It's just that most people aren't classical scholars because they don't know Greek and Latin, poor things.
His advice to young writers, from the same interview:
Steer clear of the writing departments of universities. Steer clear of English. Learn foreign, preferably dead languages, but learn them properly.


Vilgard of Ravenna

Rodulfus Glaber, i.e. Ralph the Bald (985–1047), Historiarum libri quinque ab anno incarnationis DCCCC usque ad annum MXLIV, book 2, chapter 12, in Patrologia Latina 142, cols. 611-698 (at 644 A-C), tr. at Fordham University, Medieval Sourcebook: Ralph the Bald (ca.1025): Early Appearances of Heresy, c. 970. Vilgard at Ravenna, and Other Disturbances (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/1025ralph-heresy.asp):
At that time also, mischief not unlike the above appeared at Ravenna. A certain man named Vilgard occupied himself with more eagerness than constancy in literary studies, for it was always the Italian habit to pursue these to the neglect of the other arts. Then one night when, puffed up with pride in the knowledge of his art, he had begun to reveal himself to be more stupid than wise, demons in the likeness of the poets Vergil, Horace, and Juvenal appeared to him, pretending thanks for the loving study which he devoted to the contents of their books and for serving as their happy herald to posterity. They promised him, moreover, that he would soon share their renown. Corrupted by these devilish deceptions, he began pompously to teach many things contrary to holy faith and made the assertion that the words of the poets deserved belief in all instances. But he was at last discovered to be a heretic and was condemned by Peter, archbishop of that city.

Many others holding this noxious doctrine were discovered throughout Italy, and they too died by sword and pyre. Indeed, at this same period some went forth from the island of Sardinia—which usually teems with this sort of folk—to infect the people of Spain, but they were exterminated by the Catholics. This accords with the prophecy of the apostle John, in which he said that Satan would be released when a thousand years has passed. Of this we shall treat more fully in a third book.
The Latin, from Patrologia Latina:
Ipso quoque tempore non impar apud Ravennam exortum est malum. Quidam igitur Vilgardus dictus, studio artis grammaticae magis assiduus quam frequens, sicut Italis mos semper fuit artes negligere caeteras, illam sectari. Is enim cum ex scientia suae artis coepisset, inflatus superbia, stultior apparere, quadam nocte assumpsere daemones poetarum species Virgilii et Horatii atque Juvenalis, apparentesque illi, fallaces retulerunt grates quoniam suorum dicta voluminum charius amplectens exerceret, seque illorum posteritatis felicem esse praeconem; promiserunt ei insuper suae gloriae postmodum fore participem. Hisque daemonum fallaciis depravatus, coepit multa turgide docere fidei sacrae contraria, dictaque poetarum per omnia credenda esse asserebat. Ad ultimum vero haereticus est repertus, atque a pontifice ipsius urbis Petro damnatus.

Plures etiam per Italiam tempore hujus pestiferi dogmatis reperti, quique ipsi aut gladiis aut incendiis perierunt. Ex Sardinia quoque insula, quae his plurimum abundare solet, ipso tempore aliqui egressi, partem populi in Hispania corrumpentes, et ipsi a viris catholicis exterminati sunt. Quod praesagium Joannis prophetiae congruit; quia dixit Satanam solvendum, expletis mille annis, de quibus in tertio jam libello prolixias [sic, read prolixius] tractabimus.
The translation may come from Rodulfus Glaber, Opera, edd. John France, Neithard Bulst, and Paul Reynolds (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), pp. 92-93, which I haven't seen. The Latin text and a different translation can also be found in Jan M. Ziolkowski and Michael C.J. Putnam, edd., The Virgilian Tradition: The First Fifteen Hundred Years (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), pp. 895-896.


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