Tuesday, July 28, 2015

 

A Prayer to Artemis

Theognis 11-14 (tr. Douglas E. Gerber):
Artemis, slayer of wild beasts, daughter of Zeus, for whom Agamemnon set up a temple when he was preparing to sail on his swift ships to Troy, give ear to my prayer and ward off the evil death-spirits. For you, goddess, this is a small thing, but for me it is critical.

Ἄρτεμι θηροφόνη, θύγατερ Διός, ἣν Ἀγαμέμνων
    εἵσαθ᾿ ὅτ᾿ ἐς Τροίην ἔπλεε νηυσὶ θοῇς,
εὐχομένῳ μοι κλῦθι, κακὰς δ᾿ ἀπὸ κῆρας ἄλαλκε·
    σοὶ μὲν τοῦτο, θεά, σμικρόν, ἐμοὶ δὲ μέγα.
Carolus Ausfeld, "De Graecorum Precationibus Quaestiones," Jahrbüch für classische Philologie, Suppl. 28 (1903) 503-547, recognized three parts of Greek prayers, which he called invocatio, pars epica, and precatio. Theognis' prayer to Artemis is a succinct example of this tripartite form:
See Jules Labarbe, "Une prière de Théognis (11-14)," L'Antiquité Classique 62 (1993) 23-33.

 

Competition in Demagoguery

Aristophanes, Knights 910-911 (tr. Jeffrey Henderson):
        PAPHLAGON
Blow your nose, Demos, and then wipe your hand on my head!
        SAUSAGE SELLER
No, on mine!
        PAPHLAGON
No, on mine!

        ΠΑΦΛΑΓΩΝ
ἀπομυξάμενος, ὦ Δῆμέ, μου πρὸς τὴν κεφαλὴν ἀποψῶ.
        ΑΛΛΑΝΤΟΠΩΛΗΣ
ἐμοῦ μὲν οὖν.
        ΠΑΦΛΑΓΩΝ
ἐμοῦ μὲν οὖν.
Aristophanes could be writing about the current crop of presidential candidates, of both political parties. Mutato nomine de te / fabula narratur (Horace, Satires 1.1.69-70).

Monday, July 27, 2015

 

A Lesson Learned

Donald Richie (1924-2013), Companions of the Holiday (New York, Walker/Weatherhill, 1968), p. 85:
Laying down the pencil, she decided that she had learned one thing, and that this was all the philosophy that she contained: the meaning of work lay in the working, so the meaning of life lay only in the living; one added one day upon the next, and this was sufficient; whether one served oneself or served a master, it was the same; to fill the day was important; what filled it was of small importance.

 

Death March

Horace, Odes 1.28.15-20 (tr. Niall Rudd, with his note):
But one common night awaits us all, and the road to death can be trodden only once. The Furies hand over some to provide entertainment for grim Mars; to sailors destruction comes from the hungry sea. Young and old alike crowd together in death; merciless Proserpine never shuns a head.51

51 Proserpine was said to cut a lock of hair from each of her victims.

                        sed omnes una manet nox        15
        et calcanda semel via leti.
dant alios Furiae torvo spectacula Marti;
        exitio est avidum mare nautis;
mixta senum ac iuvenum densentur funera; nullum
        saeva caput Proserpina fugit.        20
On the poem as a whole:

 

What More Could I Want?

Kenneth Burke (1897-1993), "Temporary Wellbeing," Book of Moments: Poems 1915-1954 (Los Altos: Hermes Publications, 1955), p. 36:
The pond is plenteous
The land is lush,
And having turned off the news
I am for the moment mellow.

With my book in one hand
And my drink in the other
What more could I want

But fame,
Better health,
And ten million dollars?
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

 

Tolle Lege

Gore Vidal (1925-2012), Burr (New York: Random House, 1973), p. 69:
Then the Colonel indicated several old books on the table. "I bought these for you, Charlie. Second hand, I fear. Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Take them. Read them. Become civilised."

 

Joining

Donald Richie (1924-2013), Journals (Oct. 3, 1988):
I dislike any kind of joining—the Catholic Church, the Soka Gakkai, the Communist Party, or kneeling and praying for HIH. In my ideal world no one would pledge allegiance to anything.
HIH = His Imperial Highness

Related posts:

 

Punishment for Arboricide

The Buddhist Writings of Lafcadio Hearn (Santa Barbara: Ross-Erikson, Inc., 1977), pp. 247-248 (ellipsis in original)
Ju-chū-gaki. These spirits are born within the wood of trees, and are tormented by the growing of the grain. ... Their condition is the result of having cut down shade-trees for the purpose of selling the timber. Persons who cut down the trees in Buddhist cemeteries or temple-grounds are especially likely to become ju-chū-gaki.2

2The following story of a tree-spirit is typical:
In the garden of a Samurai named Satsuma Shichizaëmon, who lived in the village of Echigawa in the province of Ōmi, there was a very old énoki. (The énoki, or "Celtis chinensis," is commonly thought to be a goblin-tree.) From ancient times the ancestors of the family had been careful never to cut a branch of this tree or to remove any of its leaves. But Shichizaëmon, who was very self-willed, one day announced that he intended to have the tree cut down. During the following night a monstrous being appeared to the mother of Shichizaëmon, in a dream, and told her that if the énoki were cut down, every member of the household should die. But when this warning was communicated to Shichizaëmon, he only laughed; and he then sent a man to cut down the tree. No sooner had it been cut down than Shichizaëmon became violently insane. For several days he remained furiously mad, crying out at intervals, "The tree! the tree! the tree!" He said that the tree put out its branches, like hands, to tear him. In this condition he died. Soon afterward his wife went mad, crying out that the tree was killing her; and she died screaming with fear. One after another, all the people in that house, not excepting the servants, went mad and died. The dwelling long remained unoccupied thereafter, no one daring even to enter the garden. At last it was remembered that before these things happened a daughter of the Satsuma family had become a Buddhist nun, and that she was still living, under the name of Jikun, in a temple at Yamashirō. This nun was sent for; and by request of the villagers she took up her residence in the house, where she continued to live until the time of her death, — daily reciting a special service on behalf of the spirit that had dwelt in the tree. From the time that she began to live in the house the tree-spirit ceased to give trouble. This story is related on the authority of the priest Shungyō, who said that he had heard it from the lips of the nun herself.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

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Friday, July 24, 2015

 

You Teach Greek Verbs and Latin Nouns

Padraic Colum (1881-1972), "A Poor Scholar of the Forties," The Oxford Book of Irish Verse. XVIIth Century-XXth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1958), pp. 198-199:
My eyelids red and heavy are
With bending o'er the smould'ring peat.
I know the Aeneid now by heart,
My Virgil read in cold and heat,
In loneliness and hunger smart.
    And I know Homer, too, I ween,
    As Munster poets know Ossian.

And I must walk this road that winds
'Twixt bog and bog, while east there lies
A city with its men and books;
With treasures open to the wise,
Heart-words from equals, comrade-looks;
    Down here they have but tale and song,
    They talk Repeal the whole night long.

'You teach Greek verbs and Latin nouns,'
The dreamer of Young Ireland said.
'You do not hear the muffled call,
The sword being forged, the far-off tread
Of hosts to meet as Gael and Gall—
    What good to us your wisdom-store,
    Your Latin verse, your Grecian lore?'

And what to me is Gael or Gall?
Less than the Latin or the Greek.
I teach these by the dim rush-light,
In smoky cabins night and week.
But what avail my teaching slight?
    Years hence, in rustic speech, a phrase,
    As in wild earth a Grecian vase!
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

 

Forsaking One's Homeland

Euripides, fragment 347 (tr. Christopher Collard and Martin Cropp):
If you were not very bad, you would never be slighting your fatherland and praising this city; because in my eyes at least, a man would be judged wrong-headed who scorns the confines of his ancestral land, to commend another and take pleasure in its ways.

εἰ δ᾿ ἦσθα μὴ κάκιστος, οὔποτ᾿ ἂν πάτραν
τὴν σὴν ἀτίζων τήνδ᾿ ἂν ηὐλόγεις πόλιν·
ὡς ἔν γ᾿ ἐμοὶ κρίνοιτ᾿ ἂν οὐ καλῶς φρονεῖν
ὅστις πατρῴας γῆς ἀτιμάζων ὅρους
ἄλλην ἐπαινεῖ καὶ τρόποισιν ἥδεται.


4 ὅρους codd. Stobaei (3.39.8): νόμους Nauck
Commentary in Ioanna Karamanou, Euripides, Danae and Dictys: Introduction, Text and Commentary (München: K.G. Saur, 2006), pp. 216-218, who notes (p. 217):
Serious accusations are made in oratory against those who disparage (cf. Lys. xxxi 6 and Carey 1989, ad loc., D. xx 110-111, Andoc. i 5) or abandon their homelands for other cities (the subject of Lycurg. i).

Thursday, July 23, 2015

 

Change

Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 607-615 (Oedipus to Theseus), tr. Bernard M.W. Knox, The Heroic Temper: Studies in Sophoclean Tragedy (1964; rpt. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), p. 153:
Dearest son of Aegeus, only to the gods comes no old age or death. All else is dissolved by all-powerful time. The earth's strength decays, the body's too, faith dies, mistrust flowers, and the wind of friendship does not blow steady between man and man, city and city. For some now, for others later, sweet turns to bitter, and back again to love.

ὦ φίλτατ᾿ Αἰγέως παῖ, μόνοις οὐ γίγνεται
θεοῖσι γῆρας οὐδὲ κατθανεῖν ποτε,
τὰ δ᾿ ἄλλα συγχεῖ πάνθ᾿ ὁ παγκρατὴς χρόνος.
φθίνει μὲν ἰσχὺς γῆς, φθίνει δὲ σώματος,        610
θνῄσκει δὲ πίστις, βλαστάνει δ᾿ ἀπιστία,
καὶ πνεῦμα ταὐτὸν οὔποτ᾿ οὔτ᾿ ἐν ἀνδράσιν
φίλοις βέβηκεν οὔτε πρὸς πόλιν πόλει.
τοῖς μὲν γὰρ ἤδη, τοῖς δ᾿ ἐν ὑστέρῳ χρόνῳ
τὰ τερπνὰ πικρὰ γίγνεται καὖθις φίλα.        615

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

 

The Disinterested Pursuit of Knowledge

C. Snouck Hurgronje (1857-1936), Mekka in the Latter Part of the 19th Century: Daily Life, Customs and Learning, tr. J.H. Monahan (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1931), p. 171:
"It is related", we read in Qutb ad-dîn's History of Mekka, "that the first madrasah in the world, that of Nizâm al-Mulk, was founded in Bagdad in the year 457 of the Hijrah (1065 A.D.) When the learned of Transoxania heard of this, they instituted a day of mourning for knowledge, and lamented over the decay of honour and science. Asked for the reason, they said: 'Knowledge is a noble and excellent queen who can only be wooed by noble excellent sons for her native nobility, and by reason of the natural affinity of these souls to her. Now however a reward has been set up and vulgar souls will seek her and use her for gain. So knowledge will be degraded by the vulgarity of these people without their being raised by her nobility....'"
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

 

Alcman, Fragment 26

The Telegraph's obituary of M.L. West mentions his love of puns. Puns depend on the multiple, ambiguous meanings of words, and I wonder if West ever reflected on the fact that his own first name, Martin, is also a word meaning "kingfisher" in Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. Eric Thomson, who pointed this out to me, remarked that "As a scholar West was a kingfisher, as fearless, darting and brilliant." The adjectives are borrowed from words in Alcman, fragment 26, describing a kingfisher (fearless ~ νηδεὲϲ ἦτορ ἔχων, darting ~ ποτήται, brilliant ~ ἁλιπόρφυροϲ). West translated the fragment in his Greek Lyric Poetry (1993; rpt. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 34, as follows:
My legs can support me no longer, young ladies
    with voices of honey and song divine!
Ah, would that I could be a kingfisher, flying
sea-blue, fearless, amid you halcyons
    down to rest on the foaming brine!
Here is the Greek, from Malcolm Davies, ed., Poetarum Melicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, Vol. I (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), p. 76:
οὔ μ᾿ ἔτι, παρϲενικαὶ μελιγάρυεϲ ἱαρόφωνοι,
γυῖα φέρην δύναται· βάλε δὴ βάλε κηρύλοϲ εἴην,
ὅϲ τ᾿ ἐπὶ κύματοϲ ἄνθοϲ ἅμ᾿ ἀλκυόνεϲϲι ποτήται
νηδεὲϲ ἦτορ ἔχων, ἁλιπόρφυροϲ ἱαρὸϲ ὄρνιϲ.
I've stitched together Davies' text, apparatus, and notes on this fragment (pp. 76-78) into a single image below, omitting page numbers and headings:


For commentary on the fragment see Herbert Weir Smyth, Greek Melic Poets (London: Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1900), pp. 190-191, and David A. Campbell, Greek Lyric Poetry (1982; rpt. London: Bristol Classical Press, 2003), pp. 217-218. A few notes to aid my own comprehension:

2 φέρην = φέρειν.

2 βάλε, see Liddell-Scott-Jones s.v.: "O that! would God! c. opt., Alcm.26, Call.Hec.26.2; cf. ἄβαλε."

2 δὴ, see J.D. Denniston, Greek Particles, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954), p. 218 ("in wishes"), and Guy L. Cooper, III, Greek Syntax, Vol. 4: Early Greek Poetic and Herodotean Syntax (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002), pp. 2950 ("may also be attached directly to ... optative forms which express ardent wishes") and 2955.

3 ποτήται, "flies to and fro," from ποτάομαι, frequentative of πέτομαι.

4 νηδεὲϲ (Boissonade's conjecture): νηδεής is not to be found in Liddell-Scott-Jones. The adjective would be equivalent to ἀδεής, meaning fearless.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

 

Cleansing

Po Chü-i (772-846), "Pine Sounds" (tr. Burton Watson):
The moonlight is good, good for solitary sitting;
there's a pair of pine trees in front of my roof.
From the southwest a faint breeze comes,
stealing in among the branches and leaves,
making a sad and sighing sound,
at midnight here in the bright moon's presence,
like the rustle, rustle of rain on cold hills,
or the clear clean note of autumn lute strings.
One hearing and the fierce heat is washed away,
a second hearing wipes out worry and gloom.
I stay up all evening, never sleeping,
till mind and body are both wiped clean.
On the avenue to the south, horses and carriages pass;
from neighbors to the west, frequent songs and flutes—
who'd suppose that here under the eaves
the sounds that fill my ears are in no way noisy.
The same, translator unknown:
I like sitting alone when the moon is shining,
And there are two pines standing before the verandah;
A breeze comes from the south-west,
Creeping into the branches and leaves.
Under the brilliant moon at midnight
It whistles a cool, distant music,
Like rustling rains in empty mountains
And the serene harp-strings in the fall.
On first hearing them, the heat of summer is washed away:
And this suffocating boredom comes to an end.
So I keep awake the whole night,
Both the heart and body becoming clear.
Along the south street coaches and horses are stirring,
In the west city sounds of playing and singing.
Who knows that under the roof-trees of this place
The ears are full, but not with noise.
The same, tr. David Hinton (should cystalline in line 8 be crystalline?):
The moon's beautiful, and sitting alone
beautiful. In two pines near the porch,

a breeze arrives from the southwest,
stealing into the branches and leaves,

swelling such isolate silence into sound
past midnight under a brilliant moon:

a cold mountain rain whispering far,
a cystalline ch'in pitched autumn pure.

I hear it rinsing summer heat clean,
clearing the confusion twilight darkens,

and by the end of a night without sleep,
body and mind are so light and quick.

Horses and carts soon crowd the road,
neighbors start their raucous flutesong.

Who'd believe it—here under the eaves,
ears so full and no trace of such racket?
Chinese here (I can't vouch for the accuracy).

Related post: Forest Murmurs.

 

Miracles

Walt Whitman (1819-1892), "Miracles," Leaves of Grass:
Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.

To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.

To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—the ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?
Id., "Song of Myself," § 24:
I believe in the flesh and the appetites.
Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part and tag of me is a miracle.
Id., "Starting from Paumanok," § 12:
...all the things of the universe are perfect miracles, each as profound as any.
Id., "Preface" to 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass:
...every motion and every spear of grass and the frames and spirits of men and women and all that concerns them are unspeakably perfect miracles all referring to all and each distinct and in its place.

 

To a Know-It-All

Sophocles, Antigone 705-709 (Haemon to his father Creon; tr. R.C. Jebb):
Wear not, then, one mood only in thyself; think not that thy word, and thine alone, must be right. For if any man thinks that he alone is wise,—that in speech, or in mind, he hath no peer,—such a soul, when laid open, is ever found empty.

μή νυν ἓν ἦθος μοῦνον ἐν σαυτῷ φόρει,        705
ὡς φὴς σύ, κοὐδὲν ἄλλο, τοῦτ᾽ ὀρθῶς ἔχειν.
ὅστις γὰρ αὐτὸς ἢ φρονεῖν μόνος δοκεῖ,
ἢ γλῶσσαν, ἣν οὐκ ἄλλος, ἢ ψυχὴν ἔχειν,
οὗτοι διαπτυχθέντες ὤφθησαν κενοί.
Theognis 221-223 (tr. Douglas E. Gerber):
Anyone who thinks that his neighbour knows nothing, while he himself is the only one to make crafty plans, is a fool, his good sense impaired.

ὅστις τοι δοκέει τὸν πλησίον ἴδμεναι οὐδέν,
  ἀλλ᾿ αὐτὸς μοῦνος ποικίλα δήνε᾿ ἔχειν,
κεῖνός γ᾿ ἄφρων ἐστί, νόου βεβλαμμένος ἐσθλοῦ.

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