Tuesday, March 19, 2019


Marriage Proposal

Charles Dickens (1812-1870), Nicholas Nickleby, chapter LXIII (Tim Linkinwater to Miss La Creevy):
'Come,' said Tim. 'Let's be a comfortable couple. We shall live in the old house here, where I have been for four-and-forty year; we shall go to the old church, where I've been, every Sunday morning, all through that time; we shall have all my old friends about us — Dick, the archway, the pump, the flower-pots, and Mr. Frank's children, and Mr. Nickleby's children that we shall seem like grandfather and grandmother to. Let's be a comfortable couple, and take care of each other! And if we should get deaf, or lame, or blind, or bed-ridden, how glad we shall be that we have somebody we are fond of, always to talk to and sit with! Let's be a comfortable couple. Now, do, my dear!'


Attention, Young People

Pseudo-Phocylides, Sentences 220-221 (tr. P.W. van der Horst):
Revere those with gray hair on the temples and yield your seat
and all privileges to aged persons.

αἰδεῖσθαι πολιοκροτάφους, εἴκειν δὲ γέρουσιν
ἕδρης καὶ γεράων πάντων.
Related post: Proper Deference to an Old Man.

Monday, March 18, 2019



Homer, Iliad 18.417-420 (tr. Richmond Lattimore):
And in support of their master moved his attendants.
These are golden, and in appearance like living young women.
There is intelligence in their hearts, and there is speech in them
and strength, and from the immortal gods they have learned how to do things.

          ὑπὸ δ᾽ ἀμφίπολοι ῥώοντο ἄνακτι
χρύσειαι ζωῇσι νεήνισιν εἰοικυῖαι.
τῇς ἐν μὲν νόος ἐστὶ μετὰ φρεσίν, ἐν δὲ καὶ αὐδὴ
καὶ σθένος, ἀθανάτων δὲ θεῶν ἄπο ἔργα ἴσασιν.
"Their master" = Hephaestus.



Raymond B. Cowles (1896-1971), Desert Journal (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977), p. 119:
Since those early experiments the ecological role of the predator as a necessary sanitizing agent has become well known. The capture and quick removal of abnormal individuals within a group of gregarious animals aid in the prevention of the spread of disease, either from illness or infected wounds that could introduce sepsis into scratches on their neighbors. Another plus is the removal from the breeding stock of individuals with obvious genetic impairments. In other words, with the defective phenotypes eliminated, they will not breed and multiply and thus burden their own kind. I believe that no exceptions have been found to the role of predation as a useful influence for the good of the group and successive generations, no matter how harsh it may be to the one removed. To our sentiments of sympathy, even this role of a predator seems brutal and emotionally hard to accept. It is but one example, however, of the fact that the group, and this includes not only the present, but innumerable future members, is far more important than the welfare or security of any single transient individual. This may seem like the antithesis of our present philosophy of the "sanctity of life" and the "dignity and rights of the individual"—and it is.


A Continuance of Life

D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930), Sketches of Etruscan Places, I ("Cerveteri"):
And death, to the Etruscan, was a pleasant continuance of life, with jewels and wine and flutes playing for the dance. It was neither an ecstasy of bliss, a heaven, nor a purgatory of torment. It was just a natural continuance of the fullness of life. Everything was in terms of life, of living.
Id., III ("The Painted Tombs of Tarquinia. 1," on the Tomb of Hunting and Fishing):
The scene is natural as life, and yet it has a heavy archaic fullness of meaning. It is the death-banquet; and at the same time it is the dead man banqueting in the underworld; for the underworld of the Etruscans was a gay place. While the living feasted out of doors, at the tomb of the dead, the dead himself feasted in like manner, with a lady to offer him garlands and slaves to bring him wine, away in the underworld. For the life on earth was so good, the life below could but be a continuance of it.

Sunday, March 17, 2019


Very Thin Protection

D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930), Sea and Sardinia, VIII ("Back"):
And never for a second must one be off one's guard for one's watch and money and even hanky. When I first came to Italy after the war I was robbed twice in three weeks, floating round in the sweet old innocent confidence in mankind. Since then I have never ceased to be on my guard. Somehow or other, waking and sleeping one's spirit must be on its guard nowadays. Which is really what I prefer, now I have learnt it. Confidence in the goodness of mankind is a very thin protection indeed. Integer vitae scelerisque purus will do nothing for you when it comes to humanity, however efficacious it may be with lions and wolves.



Valerius Maximus, Memorable Doings and Sayings 2.1.6 (tr. D.R. Shackleton Bailey):
But whenever some strife arose between husband and wife, they would repair to the chapel of the goddess Viriplaca, which is on the Palatine. There they would say in turn what they wanted to say and go back in harmony, laying aside their contention.

Quotiens vero inter virum et uxorem aliquid iurgii intercesserat, in sacellum deae Viriplacae, quod est in Palatio, veniebant, et ibi invicem locuti quae voluerant, contentione animorum deposita, concordes revertebantur.

Saturday, March 16, 2019


Different Strokes for Different Folks

Euripides, fragment 560 (from Oeneus; tr. Christopher Collard and Martin Cropp):
Yet one person enjoys some kinds of behaviour more, and another, others.

ἀλλ᾿ ἄλλος ἄλλοις μᾶλλον ἥδεται τρόποις.

Friday, March 15, 2019



Myles Dillon, Early Irish Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948; rpt. 1958), pp. 163-164 ("a twelfth-century poem"):
Delightful to me to be on an island hill, on the crest of a rock, that I might often watch the quiet sea;

That I might watch the heavy waves above the bright water, as they chant music to their Father everlastingly.

That I might watch its smooth, bright-bordered shore, no gloomy pastime, that I might hear the cry of the strange birds, a pleasing sound;

That I might hear the murmur of the long waves against the rocks, that I might hear the sound of the sea, like mourning beside a grave;

That I might watch the splendid flocks of birds over the well-watered sea, that I might see its mighty whales, the greatest wonder.

That I might watch its ebb and flood in their course, that my name should be—it is a secret that I tell—'he who turned his back upon Ireland';

That I might have a contrite heart as I watch, that I might repent my many sins, hard to tell;

That I might bless the Lord who rules all things, heaven with its splendid host, earth, ebb, and flood;

That I might scan one of the books to raise up my soul, now kneeling to dear heaven, now chanting the psalms;

Now gathering seaweed from the rocks, now catching fish, now feeding the poor, now in my cell;

Now contemplating heaven, a holy purchase, now a little labour, it would be delightful.


The History of Western Culture

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), Notebook 6 [14] (summer, 1875; tr. Ladislaus Löb, with his notes):
Early Greek philosophy was throughout a philosophy of statesmen. How paltry our statesmen are! Incidentally, that is the greatest difference between the Pre-Socratics and Post-Socratics.

Among them one does not find the 'revolting claim to happiness',6 as one does from Socrates onward. Not everything revolves round the condition of their soul: for that is something that one does not ponder without danger. Later the γνῶθι σαυτόν7 of Apollo was misunderstood.

Nor did they chatter and grumble like that, and they did not write either.

Enfeebled Greek culture was Romanised, coarsened, made decorative, then accepted as a decorative culture by enfeebled Christianity as an ally and spread by force among uncivilised peoples — that is the history of Western culture. The stunt has been pulled, and the Greek and the sanctimonious brought together.

6 Adapted from Schopenhauer, Parerga and Paralipomena, Book I, 'Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit', ch. 5.

7 know yourself. One of the mottoes inscribed over the entrance to Apollo's oracle at Delphi.

Die ältere griechische Philosophie ist die Philosophie von lauter Staatsmännern. Wie elend steht es mit unsern Staatsmännern! Das unterscheidet übrigens die Vorsokratiker und die Nachsokratiker am meisten.

Bei ihnen hat man nicht „die garstige Pretension auf Glück”  wie von Socrates ab. Es dreht sich doch nicht alles um den Zustand ihrer Seele: denn über den denkt man nicht ohne Gefahr nach. Später wurde das γνῶθι σαυτόν des Apoll mißverstanden.

Auch schwätzten und schimpften sie nicht so, auch schrieben sie nicht.

Das geschwächte Griechenthum, romanisirt, vergröbert, decorativ geworden, dann als decorative Cultur vom geschwächten Christenthum als Bundesgenosse acceptirt, mit Gewalt verbreitet unter uncivilisirten Völkern — das ist die Geschichte der abendländischen Cultur. Das Kunststück ist geleistet, und das Griechische und das Pfäffische zusammengebracht.


How Detestable

D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930), Sea and Sardinia, III ("Cagliari"):
One realises, with horror, that the race of men is almost extinct in Europe. Only Christ-like heroes and woman-worshipping Don Juans, and rabid equality-mongrels. The old, hardy, indomitable male is gone. His fierce singleness is quenched. The last sparks are dying out in Sardinia and Spain. Nothing left but the herd-proletariat and the herd-equality mongrelism, and the wistful poisonous self-sacrificial cultured soul. How detestable.


One Day

Euripides, fragment 420 (from Ino; tr. Christopher Collard and Martin Cropp):
Do you see how small the things are that bring down tyrants whose power has long increased, and how one day brings some down from a height, and lifts others up? Wealth has wings! Those who once had it, I see dashed from their hopes, backs laid to the ground.

ὁρᾷς τυράννους διὰ μακρῶν ηὐξημένους,
ὡς σμικρὰ τὰ σφάλλοντα, καὶ μί᾿ ἡμέρα
τὰ μὲν καθεῖλεν ὑψόθεν, τὰ δ᾿ ἦρ᾿ ἄνω.
ὑπόπτερος δ᾿ ὁ πλοῦτος· οἷς γὰρ ἦν ποτε,
ἐξ ἐλπίδων πίπτοντας ὑπτίους ὁρῶ.        5
Donald J. Mastronarde on Euripides, Phoenissae 1689:

Thursday, March 14, 2019


Genius Loci

D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930), Sea and Sardinia, III ("Cagliari"):
The spirit of the place is a strange thing. Our mechanical age tries to override it. But it does not succeed. In the end the strange, sinister spirit of the place, so diverse and adverse in differing places, will smash our mechanical oneness into smithereens, and all that we think the real thing will go off with a pop, and we shall be left staring.


A Very Valiant Trencherman

Anka Muhlstein, Balzac's Omelette: A Delicious Tour of French Food and Culture with Honoré de Balzac, tr. Adriana Hunter (New York: Other Press, 2011), page number unknown:
Once the proofs were passed for press, he sped to a restaurant, downed a hundred oysters as a starter, washing them down with four bottles of white wine, then ordered the rest of the meal: twelve salt meadow lamb cutlets with no sauce, a duckling with turnips, a brace of roast partridge, a Normandy sole, not to mention extravagances like dessert and special fruit such as Comice pears, which he ate by the dozen.


Vocational Training

Pseudo-Phocylides, Sentences 158 (tr. P.W. van der Horst):
And if someone has not learned a craft, he must dig with a hoe.

εἰ δέ τις οὐ δεδάηκε τέχνης, σκάπτοιτο δικέλλῃ.
Related post: Fit to Beg in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019


Circumstances Favorable to Concentration and Reflection

Richard Johnson Walker (1868-1934), Euripidean Fragments Emended (London: Burns Oates & Washburn Ltd, 1920), Introductory Note:
The four following papers — I can think of no better term — were written by me in the Argentine Republic in the spring (to the north of the Equator it was the autumn) of 1919. One after another I sent them to a friend in England to deal with as best he could. He and I find that the simplest course is to present them as a small book; to which, being on a visit to Spain, I am just in time to prefix these words of explanation and apply a few necessary touches of rapid revision.

May 30, 1920.
Id., p. 1:
The following attempts at emendation of Fragments of Euripidean plays having titles beginning with A (about a quarter of the whole) are the result of a month's sea-voyage. The circumstances were exceptionally favourable to concentration and reflexion. My detachment was completed by the fact that I took with me no classical books whatever except Nauck's Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta and Kirchhoff's Euripides (which does not include the Fragments), though later I contrived with difficulty to purchase on shore a small Greek-Spanish lexicon, which I have employed as a check on my accentuation. I am not without hope that under these novel conditions I have here and there really seen new light. But that is for the reader to judge.
Id., p. 13:
The time has arrived for me to submit the second quarter of my task, namely a treatment of various Fragments of Euripides that come from plays with initial letters ranging from B to O (Greek alphabet), both inclusive.

It has proved possible on land to reproduce to some extent the isolation of a sea-voyage, and I still have access to no classical books whatever, except those mentioned in my previous instalment. Work under such conditions possesses, I think, a certain value, as it incontestably possesses a certain fascination, of its own.
The book is dedicated to the memory of William Ross Hardie (1862-1916), who taught the author at Balliol College, Oxford. The author was the son of Frederick William Walker (1830–1910), High Master of Manchester Grammar School and St. Paul's School, London, and Maria Johnson.

Reviews of the book:
Walker was an odd character — see especially the lengthy dedication (to Michael James O'Doherty) of his The Ichneutae of Sophocles (London: Burns and Oates Ltd., 1919).


So Good!

D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930), Sea and Sardinia, I ("As Far as Palermo"):
The near end of the street was rather dark, and had mostly vegetable shops. Abundance of vegetables—piles of white-and-green fennel, like celery, and great sheaves of young, purplish, sea-dust-coloured artichokes, nodding their buds, piles of big radishes, scarlet and bluey purple, carrots, long strings of dried figs, mountains of big oranges, scarlet large peppers, a last slice of pumpkin, a great mass of colours and vegetable freshnesses.
However, and however, it is seven o'clock, and the shops are beginning to shut. No more shop-gazing. Only one lovely place: raw ham, boiled ham, chickens in aspic, chicken vol-au-vents, sweet curds, curd cheese, rustic cheese-cake, smoked sausages, beautiful fresh mortadella, huge Mediterranean red lobsters, and those lobsters without claws. "So good! So good!" We stand and cry it aloud.


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