Wednesday, October 01, 2014


Epicurus and Paul

A.J. Festugière (1898-1982), Epicurus and His Gods, tr. C.W. Chilton (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1956), pp. 42-43, n. 3:
It is impossible not to compare the interest which Epicurus felt in his communities in Asia with the care taken by the apostle Paul of his 'churches'. On both sides similar occasions gave rise to an interchange of letters. Points of doctrine had to be settled—hence the great fundamental letters to Herodotus and Menoeceus (the letter to Pythocles would seem to have been put together from the π. φύσεως: only the beginning is genuine, cf. Usener, pp. xxxvii-ix). Or perhaps the communities are in trouble; the apostate Timocrates who has insinuated himself into the circle at Lampsacus is spreading scandalous libels against the master and his disciples (cf. Jensen, op. cit.). Or again, there are short letters of guidance and friendship.
References are to Hermann Usener, Epicurea (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1887), and Christian Jensen, Ein neuer Brief Epikurs (Berlin: Weidmannsche Buchhandlung, 1933 = Abhandlungen der Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Gottingen, Philologisch-Historische Klasse, 3/5, pp. 1-94).



Thanks very much to Karl Maurer for introducing me to a Latin poem, "Ad Nubes," attributed to Torquato Tasso (1544-1595), and for allowing his translation of the poem to appear here.
Children of Neptune, O
    moist Clouds, that in your flying column run
where South-winds blindly pull you,
    it’s from your thundery hearts that Juppiter,
booming, sends horrid lightning        5
    at an uncouth race that has raised its head
against Gods, or defiled
    old groves with sacrilegious hands. That’s why
sky roars, and lightning flashes!
    But you more quietly send fruit-bearing rain        10
to thirsty fields. With moisture
    you feed fat happy crops. You add fine saps
to thirsty vines that soon
    will be libations lifted in new cups!
Unless you pour us deep        15
    long rain, the arid Earth will not produce
her grasses and her flowers.
    The trees bereft of leaves begin to wither,
and bodies, weak from longing
    for you, now only languish, barely able        20
to draw their feeble breath.
    O whether Atlas’ piny peaks detain you
or Scythia’s side, or whether
    you play upon the Ocean’s boundless plain,
O send your stormy children!        25
    Sprinkle dews on the breast of your too hot
mother Earth, dewy Clouds;
    pour them upon your Pius Maximus.
Although he governs peoples,
    he will not scorn your gifts. At last        30
to exhausted living creatures,
    we beg you, give a rest, with soaking dew.
The Latin:
Neptuni genus, humidae
    Nubes, quae volucri curritis agmine
Qua caeci rapiunt Noti:
    E vestro gremio cum sonitu horrida
Mittit fulmina Juppiter,        5
    Si quando in Superos gens fera verticem
Tollit, si veteres manu
    Lucos sacrilega polluit. Hinc tonat
Arx caeli, hinc micat ignibus
    Crebris. Vos placidae frugiferos agris        10
Imbres mittitis, et sata
    Laeta humore alitis. Vos sitientibus
Succos vitibus additis,
    Mox libanda novis munera poculis.
Vos largas pluviae nisi        15
    Effundatis opes, gramina non humus,
Non flores dabit arida.
    Arescunt viduae frondibus arbores.
Vestri languida corpora
    Ex desiderio vix animas suo        20
Languentes retinent sinu.
    Vos in pinifero vertice, seu tenet
Atlas, seu Scythiae latus,
    Seu vasto oceani luditis aequore,
Foetus imbriferos date.        25
    Rores in gremium spargite torridae
Matris munera, roscidae
    Nubes; vestro Pio fundite Maximo;
Quanquam gentibus imperat,
    Non haec vestra PIUS munera negliget.        30
Tandem O vos requiem date
    Fessis irriguo rore animantibus.
Luigi Poma, "Apocrifi tassiani," in Franco Gavazzeni and Guglielmo Gorni, edd., Le tradizioni del testo. Studi di letteratura italiana offerti a Domenico De Robertis (Milano: Riccardo Ricciardi, 1993), pp. 201-208 (non vidi), disputes Tasso's authorship of this poem.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


A New Thing in Religion

A.J. Festugière (1898-1982), Epicurus and His Gods, tr. C.W. Chilton (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1956), p. 14:
What strikes me as essential is the fact that adhesion to Hellenistic religious sects was the result of a free choice by the individual. Nothing compelled him to betake himself to this or that new deity, Isis, the Syrian Aphrodite, the Phrygian Great Mother, etc.: there was no compulsion because these gods were not bound to any city. He was not drawn by custom to worship them. If he went to them, it was from the impulse of a personal religious conviction, to give satisfaction to a need of his soul. That, in religion, is a new and very remarkable thing.


Common Bonds

Xenophon, Hellenica 2.4.20-21 (Cleocritus speaking, after the Battle of Munychia; tr. Carleton L. Brownson):
Fellow citizens, why do you drive us out of the city? why do you wish to kill us? For we never did you any harm, but we have shared with you in the most solemn rites and sacrifices and the most splendid festivals, we have been companions in the dance and schoolmates and comrades in arms, and we have braved many dangers with you both by land and by sea in defense of the common safety and freedom of us both. [21] In the name of the gods of our fathers and mothers, in the name of our ties of kinship and marriage and comradeship,—for all these many of us share with one another,—cease, out of shame before gods and men, to sin against your fatherland...

ἄνδρες πολῖται, τί ἡμᾶς ἐξελαύνετε; τί ἀποκτεῖναι βούλεσθε; ἡμεῖς γὰρ ὑμᾶς κακὸν μὲν οὐδὲν πώποτε ἐποιήσαμεν, μετεσχήκαμεν δὲ ὑμῖν καὶ ἱερῶν τῶν σεμνοτάτων καὶ θυσιῶν καὶ ἑορτῶν τῶν καλλίστων, καὶ συγχορευταὶ καὶ συμφοιτηταὶ γεγενήμεθα καὶ συστρατιῶται, καὶ πολλὰ μεθ᾽ ὑμῶν κεκινδυνεύκαμεν καὶ κατὰ γῆν καὶ κατὰ θάλατταν ὑπὲρ τῆς κοινῆς ἀμφοτέρων ἡμῶν σωτηρίας τε καὶ ἐλευθερίας. [21] πρὸς θεῶν πατρῴων καὶ μητρῴων καὶ συγγενείας καὶ κηδεστίας καὶ ἑταιρίας, πάντων γὰρ τούτων πολλοὶ κοινωνοῦμεν ἀλλήλοις, αἰδούμενοι καὶ θεοὺς καὶ ἀνθρώπους παύσασθε ἁμαρτάνοντες εἰς τὴν πατρίδα...


Don't Worry About Politics

Horace, Odes 3.8.25-28 (addressed to Maecenas; tr. Niall Rudd):
Don't worry in case the people are in any trouble; you are a private citizen, so try not to be over-anxious; gladly accept the gifts of the present hour, and let serious things go hang.

neglegens ne qua populus laboret
parce privatus nimium cavere,
dona praesentis cape laetus horae et
    linque severa.
R.G.M. Nisbet and Niall Rudd, A Commentary on Horace, Odes, Book III (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004; rpt. 2007), pp. 131-132 (on line 26):
it would seem curious to the Romans that a private citizen should worry about political problems; cf. Plaut. Pers. 75f. 'sed sumne ego stultus qui rem curo publicam / ubi sint magistratus quos curare oporteat?', Cic. rep. 2.46.
The quotation from Plautus' Persa means "But am I not crazy, worrying about public affairs, when there are officials whose job it is to worry?" Cicero, On the Commonwealth 2.46, says the opposite, that no one is a private citizen when it comes to the safety of the state (in conservanda civium libertate esse privatum neminem).

Nisbet and Rudd, op. cit., p. 228 (introduction to 3.19):
It was a poetic convention to say that guests should concentrate on enjoyment rather than serious preoccupations. Sometimes these were questions of war and politics; cf. 1.26.3ff., 2.11.1, 3.8.17ff,, Theogn. 763f., Anacr. eleg. 2.1ff., Xenophanes, eleg. 1.21ff.
Related posts:

Monday, September 29, 2014


Spurcum Additamentum

M. Zimmerman, ed., Apulei Metamorphoseon Libri XI (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), p. xxiii:
This addition, traditionally called 'The Spurcum Additamentum', ever since Eduard Fraenkel nicknamed its medieval forger 'Spurcus',49 is found not in F, but in the lower margin of fol. 66r of φ, as well as in the margin of Boccaccio's autograph copy L1 (Laur. 54.32).

49 E. Fraenkel. 1953. 'A Sham Sisenna', Eranos 51, 151-4.
I don't have access to Fraenkel's article. Unless I'm misunderstanding Zimmerman's sentence, she seems to claim that no one ever called the marginal addition to Apuleius, Metamorphoses 10.21, the spurcum additamentum before Fraenkel did so. If that is her meaning, then the statement is incorrect. I don't know who first used the phrase as a description of the marginal addition, but I do know that it can be found well before the date of Fraenkel's article, e.g. in J. van der Vliet, "Codices Apulei Italici," Mnemosyne 23 (1895) 353-359 (at 358: "Continet spurcum illud additamentum libri X"...), and D.S. Robertson, "The Manuscripts of the Metamorphoses of Apuleius. I," Classical Quarterly 18 (1924) 27-42 (at 31).

For a recent discussion of the spurcum additamentum see Robert H.F. Carver, The Protean Ass: The Metamorphoses of Apuleius from Antiquity to the Renaissance (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 67-71.

Thanks to Timothy Robertson, who writes:
I wonder if J van de Vliet's phrase 'spurcum illud additamentum' might have been inspired by a similar expression used by an earlier editor of Apuleius, Gustav Friedrich Hildebrand, 'spurcissimum illud fragmentum' ('Oud.(sc. Franz van Oudendorp) ipsi, quamquam spurcissimum illud fragmentum genium Apuleianum satis spirare videatur, valde tamen suspectum est, potissimum quum in Luciano nullum eius extent vestigium'. Hildebrand, G. F., ed. 1842. L. Apuleius: Opera omnia. Reprint Hildesheim, 1968. Leipzig. p. 931). 'Spurcissimi ... loci' can also be found on the same page. 'Spurcitiei' of course occurs within the additamentum itself.


Freedom from Cares

Pseudo-Seneca, Octavia 77-79 (tr. John G. Fitch):
Pitiful one,
what day will free you from such sorrows?

The day that sends me to the Stygian shades.

Quis te tantis solvet curis,
miseranda, dies?

Qui me Stygias mittet ad umbras.


Blind Fortune

Apuleius, Metamorphoses 7.2.4-6 (tr. H.E. Butler):
I groaned at heart, and it was borne in upon me that there was truth in the parable devised by the sages in the good old days of long ago, which asserted that Fortune was blind, nay, eyeless. For ever she heaps her blessings upon the evil and unworthy, and never uses judgement in the choice of her favourites, but rather prefers to dwell with those whom she most should shun, even though she should see them but from afar. Worst of all, she implants in us opinions far from the truth, nay contrary thereto, with the result that the bad man prides himself on a reputation for virtue, while the most innocent of men is lashed with ill report.

medullitus ingemebam, subibatque me non de nihilo veteris priscaeque doctrinae viros finxisse ac pronuntiasse caecam et prorsus exoculatam esse Fortunam, quae semper suas opes ad malos et indignos conferat, nec unquam iudicio quemquam mortalium eligat, immo vero cum is potissimum deversetur quos procul, si videret, fugere deberet; quodque cunctis est extremius, varias opiniones, immo contrarias nobis attribuat, ut et malus boni viri fama glorietur et innocentissimus contra noxio rumore plectatur.

Sunday, September 28, 2014



Frederic W. MacDonald (1842-1928), "A Book-Loving Grandfather," In a Nook with a Book (London: Horace Marshall & Son, 1907), pp. 59-70 (at 64-65):
There is something at once pathetic and inspiring in the thought of a solitary student, in town lodgings or country manse, wrestling with noble but exacting studies for which he has had little previous training, and unhelped by tutors and companions. The "small Latin and less Greek" of self-taught men may be a poor thing compared with an adequately trained and fully equipped scholarship; but they are not always to be despised, even from a scholar's point of view, to say nothing of the moral dignity that belongs to studies pursued with a high aim under great disadvantage.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


Pretend to Care

Sydney Smith (1771-1845), Elementary Sketches of Moral Philosophy (London: Printed for Private Distribution, [1849]), pp. 278-279:
Beside the shame of inferiority, and the love of reputation, curiosity is a passion very favourable to the love of study; and a passion very susceptible of increase by cultivation. Sound travels so many feet in a second; and light travels so many feet in a second. Nothing more probable: but you do not care how light and sound travel. Very likely: but make yourself care; get up, shake yourself well, pretend to care, make believe to care, and very soon you will care, and care so much, that you will sit for hours thinking about light and sound, and be extremely angry with any one who interrupts you in your pursuits; and tolerate no other conversation but about light and sound; and catch yourself plaguing everybody to death who approaches you, with the discussion of these subjects. I am sure that a man ought to read as he would grasp a nettle:—do it lightly, and you get molested; grasp it with all your strength, and you feel none of its asperities. There is nothing so horrible as languid study; when you sit looking at the clock, wishing the time was over, or that somebody would call on you and put you out of your misery. The only way to read with any efficacy, is to read so heartily, that dinnertime comes two hours before you expected it. To sit with your Livy before you, and hear the geese cackling that saved the capitol; and to see with your own eyes the Carthaginian sutlers gathering up the rings of the Roman knights after the battle of Cannae, and heaping them into bushels; and to be so intimately present at the actions you are reading of, that when anybody knocks at the door, it will take you two or three seconds to determine whether you are in your own study, or in the plains of Lombardy, looking at Hannibal's weather-beaten face, and admiring the splendour of his single eye;—this is the only kind of study which is not tiresome; and almost the only kind which is not useless: this is the knowledge which gets into the system, and which a man carries about and uses like his limbs, without perceiving that is it extraneous, weighty, or inconvenient.


Do Not Drag Me Into Another War

Sydney Smith (1771-1845), letter to Countess Grey (February 19, 1823), in A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith. By His Daughter Lady Holland. With a Selection of His Letters, Edited by Mrs. Austin, Vol. II (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1855), pp. 235-236:
For God's sake, do not drag me into another war! I am worn down, and worn out, with crusading and defending Europe, and protecting mankind; I must think a little of myself. I am sorry for the Spaniards—I am sorry for the Greeks—I deplore the fate of the Jews; the people of the Sandwich Islands are groaning under the most detestable tyranny; Bagdad is oppressed—I do not like the present state of the Delta—Thibet is not comfortable. Am I to fight for all these people? The world is bursting with sin and sorrow. Am I to be champion of the Decalogue, and to be eternally raising fleets and armies to make all men good and happy?


The Lemon-Squeezers of Society

Sydney Smith (1771-1845), quoted in A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith. By His Daughter Lady Holland. With a Selection of His Letters, Edited by Mrs. Austin, Vol. I (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1855), p. 382:
The Lemon-squeezers of society—people who act on you as a wet blanket, who see a cloud in the sunshine, the nails of the coffin in the ribbons of the bride, predictors of evil, extinguishers of hope; who, where there are two sides, see only the worst—people whose very look curdles the milk, and sets your teeth on edge.

Friday, September 26, 2014


Have the Courage to be Ignorant of a Great Number of Things

Sydney Smith (1771-1845), Elementary Sketches of Moral Philosophy (London: Printed for Private Distribution, [1849]), pp. 99-100:
If we are to read, it is a very important rule in the conduct of the understanding that we should accustom the mind to keep the best company, by introducing it only to the best books. But there is a sort of vanity some men have, of talking of, and reading, obscure half-forgotten authors, because it passes as a matter of course, that he who quotes authors which are so little read, must be completely and thoroughly acquainted with those authors which are in every man's mouth. For instance, it is very common to quote Shakespeare; but it makes a sort of stare to quote Massinger. I have very little credit for being well acquainted with Virgil; but if I quote Silius Italicus, I may stand some chance of being reckoned a great scholar. In short, whoever wishes to strike out of the great road, and to make a short cut to fame, let him neglect Homer, and Virgil, and Horace, and Ariosto, and Milton, and, instead of these, read and talk of Fracastorius, Sannazarius, Lorenzini, Pastorini, and the thirty-six primary sonneteers of Bettinelli;—let him neglect everything which the suffrage of ages has made venerable and grand, and dig out of their graves a set of decayed scribblers, whom the silent verdict of the public has fairly condemned to everlasting oblivion. If he complain of the injustice with which they have been treated, and call for a new trial with loud and importunate clamour, though I am afraid he will not make much progress in the estimation of men of sense, he will be sure to make some noise in the crowd, and to be dubbed a man of very curious and extraordinary erudition.

Then there is another piece of foppery which is to be cautiously guarded against—the foppery of universality—of knowing all sciences and excelling in all arts—chemistry, mathematics, algebra, dancing, history, reasoning, riding, fencing, Low Dutch, High Dutch, natural philosophy, and enough Spanish to talk about Lope de Vega: in short, the modern precept of education very often is, "Take the Admirable Crichton for your model; I would have you ignorant of nothing!" Now my advice, on the contrary, is, to have the courage to be ignorant of a great number of things, in order to avoid the calamity of being ignorant of everything. I would exact of a young man a pledge that he would never read Lope de Vega; he should pawn to me his honour to abstain from Bettinelli, and his thirty-five original sonneteers; and I would exact from him the most rigid securities that I was never to hear anything about that race of penny poets who lived in the reigns of Cosmo and Lorenzo di Medici.
Related post: A Reputation for Profound Learning and Exquisite Taste.


Pleasure in Religious Observance

Plutarch, That Epicurus Actually Makes a Pleasant Life Impossible 21 = Moralia 1101 D-E (tr. Benedict Einarson and Phillip H. De Lacy):
On the other hand the attitude toward God that we find in the ignorant but not greatly wicked majority of mankind contains no doubt along with the sense of reverence and honour an element of tremulous fear (and from this we get our term for superstition); but outweighing this a thousand times is the element of cheerful hope, of exultant joy, and whether in prayer or in thanksgiving of ascribing every furtherance of felicity to the gods. [E] This is proved by the strongest kind of evidence: no visit delights us more than a visit to a temple; no occasion than a holy day; no act or spectacle than what we see and what we do ourselves in matters that involve the gods, whether we celebrate a ritual or take part in a choral dance or attend a sacrifice or ceremony of initiation. For on these occasions our mind is not plunged in anxiety or cowed and depressed, as we should expect it to be in the company of tyrants or dispensers of gruesome punishments. No, wherever it believes and conceives most firmly that the god is present, there more than anywhere else it puts away all feelings of pain, of fear and of worry, and gives itself up so far to pleasure that it indulges in a playful and merry inebriation.

ἡ δὲ τῶν πολλῶν καὶ ἀμαθῶν καὶ οὐ πάνυ μοχθηρῶν διάθεσις πρὸς τὸν θεὸν ἔχει μὲν ἀμέλει τῷ σεβομένῳ καὶ τιμῶντι μεμιγμένον τινὰ σφυγμὸν καὶ φόβον, ᾗ καὶ δεισιδαιμονία κέκληται, τούτου δὲ μυριάκις πλεῖόν ἐστὶ καὶ μεῖζον αὐτῇ τὸ εὔελπι καὶ περιχαρὲς καὶ πᾶσαν εὐπραξίας ὄνησιν ὡς ἐκ θεῶν οὖσαν εὐχόμενον καὶ δεχόμενον. [E] δῆλον δὲ τεκμηρίοις τοῖς μεγίστοις· οὔτε γὰρ διατριβαὶ τῶν ἐν ἱεροῖς οὔτε καιροὶ τῶν ἑορτασμῶν οὔτε πράξεις οὔτ᾽ ὄψεις εὐφραίνουσιν ἕτεραι μᾶλλον ὧν ὁρῶμεν ἢ δρῶμεν αὐτοὶ περὶ τοὺς θεούς, ὀργιάζοντες ἢ χορεύοντες ἢ θυσίαις παρόντες ἢ τελεταῖς. οὐ γὰρ ὡς τυράννοις τισὶν ἢ δεινοῖς κολασταῖς ὁμιλοῦσα τηνικαῦτα ἡ ψυχὴ περίλυπός ἐστι καὶ ταπεινὴ καὶ δύσθυμος, ὅπερ εἰκὸς ἦν· ἀλλ᾽ ὅπου μάλιστα δοξάζει καὶ διανοεῖται παρεῖναι τὸν θεόν, ἐκεῖ μάλιστα λύπας καὶ φόβους καὶ τὸ φροντίζειν ἀπωσαμένη τῷ ἡδομένῳ μέχρι μέθης καὶ παιδιᾶς καὶ γέλωτος ἀφίησιν ἑαυτήν.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


In Defence of His Studies

Erasmus, letter 161 (to Antony of Luxembourg; July 18, 1501; tr. Francis Morgan Nichols):
I am not unaware, that I have pursued a kind of study which some think strange, others endless, others unprofitable, others even impious; so they seem to the crowd of those who are professors of learning. But I am all the more encouraged, as I am sure of two facts, that the best things have never found favour with the crowd, and that this kind of study is most approved by the smallest number, but the most learned.
The Latin, from Opus Epistolarum Des. Erasmi Roterodami, ed. P.S. Allen, tom. I: 1484-1514 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1906; rpt. 1992), p. 370:
Neque vero me clam est, hoc quod sum sequutus studiorum genus aliis alienum, aliis infinitum, aliis infrugiferum, aliis etiam parum pium videri; nempe vulgo omnium qui nunc literas profitentur. At ego tanto magis accendor, cum vtrunque cognitum habeam, neque vulgo vnquam optima placuisse, et hoc studii genus paucissimis quidem, sed tamen eruditissimis, probari maxime.


Greek Books Wanted

Erasmus, letter 160 (to Nicholas Bensrott; July 18, 1501; tr. Francis Morgan Nichols):
If there is any fresh Greek to be bought, I would rather pawn my coat than not get it.
The Latin, from Opus Epistolarum Des. Erasmi Roterodami, ed. P.S. Allen, tom. I: 1484-1514 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1906; rpt. 1992), p. 368:
Si quid est nouae Graecanitatis, vestem citius oppignerauerimus quam non potiamur.
Related post: Books or Clothes?


The Old and the New

Thomas Mann (1875-1955), Doctor Faustus: The Life of the German Composer Adrian Leverkühn, as Told by a Friend, chapter XXVIII (tr. H.T. Lowe-Porter):
For just as little as one understands the new and the young, without being at home in the traditional, just so must love for the old remain ungenuine and sterile if one shut oneself away from the new, which with historical inevitability grows out of it.

Denn so wenig man das Neue und Junge verstehen kann, ohne in der Tradition zu Hause zu sein, so unecht und steril muß die Liebe zum Alten bleiben, wenn man sich dem Neuen verschließt, das mit geschichtlicher Notwendigkeit daraus hervorgegangen.


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