Tuesday, March 26, 2019
A Family Man
For I'm going first to my own house, in order to visit
my household, my dear wife, my infant son—who knows
if I'll ever come safely home to them again,
or whether the gods will destroy me at the hands of the Achaians?
καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼν οἶκον δὲ ἐλεύσομαι ὄφρα ἴδωμαι
οἰκῆας ἄλοχόν τε φίλην καὶ νήπιον υἱόν.
οὐ γὰρ οἶδ᾽ εἰ ἔτι σφιν ὑπότροπος ἵξομαι αὖτις,
ἦ ἤδη μ᾽ ὑπὸ χερσὶ θεοὶ δαμόωσιν Ἀχαιῶν.
Signs and Tokens
When clouds are seen, wise men put on their cloaks;
When great leaves fall, then winter is at hand;
When the sun sets, who doth not look for night?
Untimely storms make men expect a dearth.
All may be well; but, if God sort it so,
'Tis more than we deserve, or I expect.
Monday, March 25, 2019
Yet More Feline Dedicatees of Books
For:Id., p. xiii:
I will restrain my desire to personally thank all of the pets I've ever had, and all of the sparrows and squirrels who have dined at my feeder over the years, for sharing my life and for making me think. Instead I will settle for dedicating this book to just a few of them, the cats who have been the home companions of my adult life.Related posts:
- More Feline Dedicatees of Books
- Feline Dedicatees of Scholarly Books
- Prince of the City of Books (Anatole France)
- Pangur Ban (Irish poem)
- Cats (poem by Baudelaire)
Sunday, March 24, 2019
The only acute pain that I can recall suffering because of my family's poverty was the intense humiliation I felt when I discovered, as an adolescent, that most people lived another way and that there was something shameful, so far as others were concerned, about the way we lived. I was embarrassed to invite my friends to our house, which I had thought cozy and warm until I was made to see it as dirty and bare.
Bread was the issue over which we children voiced our new-found shame. Ours was home baked, using wheat raised and ground on the farm, leavened with home-cultured yeast, and sweetened with honey made by the bees we kept at the bottom of our garden. It was fabulous bread; almost every year it won my mother a purple ribbon at the Chippewa County fair. The slicing of the first loaf in a new batch, still steaming, its sweet, nutty aroma filling the kitchen, was one of the sacred rituals of our household.
But my sisters and I, driven by the collapse of rural society out of our local school and into the consolidated town school, had tasted the allure of a new world. We had acquired the preference of the age for anything manufactured over anything homemade. We suddenly coveted boughten bread, contrived from flour so denuded of its essence that its only nutrients came from artificial additives. We were no longer content to eat hick bread. "Wonder Bread builds strong bodies seven ways," we said, proud of our familiarity with modern advertising slogans. We yammered and complained, I am ashamed to confess, until Mother finally gave up baking bread, and we began to eat, like modern folk, a factory substitute.
The moment when airship travel is invented and introduced is favourable to socialism because it changes all concepts of landed property. Man is everywhere and nowhere; he is uprooted. We must safeguard ourselves by means of societies, with strict mutual commitments and the exclusion of all those who are not committed. Otherwise all will take to the air and settle somewhere else if they cannot pay or do not wish to keep a commitment.
Der Moment, in welchem die Luftschifffahrt erfunden und eingeführt wird, ist günstig für den Socialismus, denn der verändert alle Begriffe von Boden-Eigenthum. Der Mensch ist überall und nirgends, er wird entwurzelt. Man muß durch Gesellschaften sich sicherstellen, in strenger gegenseitiger Verpflichtung und Ausschließung aller Nichtverpflichteten. Sonst geht alles in die Lüfte und läßt sich anderswo nieder, wenn er nicht zahlen kann, nicht Verpflichtung halten mag.
Saturday, March 23, 2019
Prayer to Repel Invaders
I pray in high hope to Zeus and the other gods to drive out from here these dogs borne by the fates...See Leonard Charles Muellner, The Meaning of Homeric ΕΥΧΟΜΑΙ through its Formulas (Innsbruck: Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft, 1976), pp. 57-62.
εὔχομαι ἐλπόμενος Διί τ᾽ ἄλλοισίν τε θεοῖσιν
ἐξελάαν ἐνθένδε κύνας κηρεσσιφορήτους...
εὔχομαι ἐλπόμενος: ἔλπομαι εὐχόμενος Zenodotus
Measuring the Merits of a Scholar
Unfortunately, the merits of a scholar are measured by publications, and the merits of these publications are measured by their bulk. This is perhaps inevitable when decisions are made by committees of experts who do not read, or if they read, do not understand, the works of those who come before them for judgment. This development has coincided—I think coincided is the right word—with the neocolonial expansion of the social sciences into whole areas, indeed continents, which were once peacefully cultivated by philologists and historians, and with the increasing use of techniques of research and exposition which are at once extravagant and arcane. This has often meant that works are unread because they are unreadable, uncomprehended because they are incomprehensible. Both qualities are believed to conceal vast learning and great profundity.
Friday, March 22, 2019
Eating and Drinking
From F.A.W.P. Bull, The Miniature Art of Joannes van Deventer, Crosier of the Monastery of St. Agatha, tr. James Remmerswaal (2011), pp. 12-13.
Let's join the hard work ourselves, for this, it would seem,
is the burden of evil that Zeus laid on us at our birth.
ἀλλὰ καὶ αὐτοί περ πονεώμεθα· ὧδέ που ἄμμι
Ζεὺς ἐπὶ γιγνομένοισιν ἵει κακότητα βαρεῖαν.
Mr. Chairman, this movement is exclusively the work of politicians; a set of men who have interests aside from the interests of the people, and who, to say the most of them, are, taken as a mass, at least one long step removed from honest men. I say this with the greater freedom because, being a politician myself, none can regard it as personal.
Thursday, March 21, 2019
Chapel of Bones
Dative Singular of a Third Declension Noun
Liberalitatii quas aptiores comites quam humanitatem et clementiam dederim, quoniam idem genus laudis expetunt?Liberalitatii is a mistake — it should be Liberalitati. The error persists in the Digital Loeb Classical Library.
What more suitable companions should I give to liberality than humanity and mercy, since they seek the same kind of praise?
Labels: typographical and other errors
The Best Job
In two careful sentences of his War Memoirs, de Gaulle wrote of his father: 'My father, a man of thought, culture, tradition, was imbued with a sense of the dignity of France. He made me discover its History.'30 Later in life, when asked to name the person who had most influenced him, he would always unhesitatingly mention his father. Henri de Gaulle was remembered by his many pupils as charmingly vieille France, a gentle survivor from another age: distinguished and formal, undemonstrative and erudite. In this family, Gaulle later recalled, 'intellectual work was all that counted.'31 Henri passed on to his son a reverence for writers and the life of the mind. In London during the war de Gaulle ruminated one day on another possible existence:The quotation in French:
The most wonderful job in the world would be as a librarian ... in a small provincial town, perhaps a municipal library in Brittany ... What calm! What a wonderful life! ... Suddenly, turning sixty, one begins to write an 80-page monograph entitled: 'Did Madame de Sévigné ever visit Pontivy?' ... One becomes increasingly frenetic, writing stinging letters to the deacon who quibbles about a date.3230. DGM [i.e. Charles de Gaulle, Mémoires (Gallimard, 2000)] 5.
31. Guy, En écoutant [i.e. Claude Guy, En écoutant de Gaulle. Journal 1946-1949 (Grasset, 1996)], 168.
32. François Coulet, Vertu des temps difficiles (Plon, 1967), 165-6.
Le plus beau métier, voyez-vous, c'est d'être bibliothécaire ... Je ne veux pas parler d'une grande bibliothèque, mais d'un poste de petit bibliothécaire, dans une petite ville de province, en Bretagne, une bibliothèque municipale ... Quel calme! Quelle belle vie! ... Et puis, brusquement, quand arrive la soixantaine, on se met à écrire une monographie de quatre-vingt pages: Mme de Sévigné est-elle passée par Pontivy? Alors, on devient frénétique, on envoie des lettres cinglantes au chanoine qui chicane sur une date, on persécute tout le monde, on n'arrête pas ... Oui, croyez-moi, bibliothécaire, c'est le plus beau des métiers.Hat tip: Joel Eidsath.
Wednesday, March 20, 2019
The Typical Greek Farmer
Twenty-four centuries ago, Theophrastus, the urban philosopher, portrayed this "other" Greek as an oaf and a clod who "will sit down with his cloak hitched above his knees, exposing his private parts. He is neither surprised nor frightened by anything he sees on the street, but let him catch sight of an ox or a donkey or a billy-goat, and he will stand and gaze at it" (Char. 4.8). The typical Greek farmer was a man who cared little for dress, shunned the palestra and gymnasium, was rarely portrayed on Greek pots, and never appeared in a Platonic dialogue. He owned no mounts, better to be seen soiled among pigs and goats, his mongrel hound snapping at his side. But the other Greek also has no boss, stands firm in battle "squarely upon his legs" with "no swagger in his lovelocks," a man who "does not cleanshave beneath his chin" (Archil. 114), who judges the sophist in the assembly by the same yardstick he prunes vines and picks olives, and so cannot be fooled, a man who knows that his land "never plays tricks, but reveals clearly and truthfully what it can and cannot do," that it "conceals nothing from our knowledge and understanding and so becomes the best tester of good and bad men" (Oec. 20.13-14). Aristophanes described this other Greek "covered with dust, fond of garlic pickle, with a facial expression like sour vinegar" (Ar. Eccl. 289-92). He has no belly for the prancing aristocrat and even less for the mob on the dole. He idealizes his ten acres—not much more, rarely less—and he wants others like him to have about the same. He walks rarely into town, and then mostly just to vote and go home, disgusted at the noise, the squalor, and the endless race for pelf and power. And because he suffers no master, he speaks his due, fights his own battles, and leaves an imprint of self-reliance and nonconformity, a legacy of independence that is the backbone of Western society.Theophrastus, Characters 4.7-8 (tr. Jeffrey Rusten):
He sits down with his cloak hitched up above his knee, thereby revealing his nakedness. He doesn't enjoy or gawk at anything else on the street—yet stands in rapt attention at the sight of a cow, an ass, or a goat.Archilochus, fragment 114 (tr. Douglas E. Gerber):
καὶ ἀναβεβλημένος ἄνω τοῦ γόνατος καθιζάνειν ὥστε τὰ γυμνὰ αὐτοῦ φαίνεσθαι. καὶ ἐπ᾿ ἄλλῳ μὲν μηδενὶ μήτε εὐφραίνεσθαι μήτε ἐκπλήττεσθαι ἐν ταῖς ὁδοῖς, ὅταν δὲ ἴδῃ βοῦν ἢ ὄνον ἢ τράγον, ἑστηκὼς θεωρεῖν.
I have no liking for a general who is tall, walks with a swaggering gait, takes pride in his curls, and is partly shaven. Let mine be one who is short, has a bent look about the shins, stands firmly on his feet, and is full of courage.Xenophon, Oeconomicus 20.13-14 (tr. E.C. Marchant):
οὐ φιλέω μέγαν στρατηγὸν οὐδὲ διαπεπλιγμένον
οὐδὲ βοστρύχοισι γαῦρον οὐδ᾿ ὑπεξυρημένον,
ἀλλά μοι σμικρός τις εἴη καὶ περὶ κνήμας ἰδεῖν
ῥοικός, ἀσφαλέως βεβηκὼς ποσσί, καρδίης πλέως.
For the land makes no deceptive displays but reveals frankly and truthfully what she can and cannot do. Because she conceals nothing from our knowledge and understanding, the land is the surest tester of bad and lazy men.Aristophanes, Assemblywomen 289-292 (tr. Jeffrey Henderson):
οὐ γὰρ ἔστιν ὅ τι ἐπὶ ἀπάτῃ δείκνυσιν, ἀλλ᾿ ἁπλῶς ἅ τε δύναται καὶ ἃ μὴ σαφηνίζει τε καὶ ἀληθεύει. δοκεῖ δέ μοι ἡ γῆ καὶ τοὺς κακούς τε καὶ ἀργοὺς τῷ εὔγνωστα καὶ εὐμαθῆ πάντα παρέχειν ἄριστα ἐξετάζειν.
It's off to the Assembly, gentlemen! The magistrate
has sounded his warning:
anyone who isn't there bright and early,
covered with dust,
happy with garlic soup for breakfast,
with a salsa look in his eye,
will not get his three-obol pay.
χωρῶμεν εἰς ἐκκλησίαν ὦνδρες· ἠπείλησε γὰρ
ὁ θεσμοθέτης, ὃς ἂν
μὴ πρῲ πάνυ τοῦ κνέφους
βλέπων ὑπότριμμα, μὴ
δώσειν τὸ τριώβολον.
It is a curious fact that no man likes to call himself a glutton, and yet each of us has in him a trace of gluttony, potential or actual. I cannot believe that there exists a single coherent human being who will not confess, at least to himself, that once or twice he has stuffed himself to the bursting point, on anything from quail financière to flapjacks, for no other reason than the beastlike satisfaction of his belly. In fact I pity anyone who has not permitted himself this sensual experience, if only to determine what his own private limitations are, and where, for himself alone, gourmandism ends and gluttony begins.
It is different for each of us, and the size of a man's paunch has little to do with the kind of appetite which fills it. Diamond Jim Brady, for instance, is more often than not called "the greatest glutton in American history," and so on, simply because he had a really enormous capacity for food. To my mind he was not gluttonous but rather monstrous, in that his stomach was about six times normal size. That he ate at least six times as much as a normal man did not make him a glutton. He was, instead, Gargantuan, in the classical sense. His taste was keen and sure to the time of his death, and that he ate nine portions of sole Marguéry the night George Rector brought the recipe back to New York from Paris especially for him does not mean that he gorged himself upon it but simply that he had room for it.
I myself would like to be able to eat that much of something I really delight in, and I can recognize overtones of envy in the way lesser mortals so easily damned Brady as a glutton, even in the days of excess when he flourished. Probably this country will never again see so many fat, rich men as were prevalent at the end of the last century, copper kings and railroad millionaires and suchlike literally stuffing themselves to death in imitation of Diamond Jim, whose abnormally large stomach coincided so miraculously with the period. He ate a hundred men like "Betcha-Million" Gates into their oversized coffins simply because he was a historical accident, and it is interesting to speculate on what his influence would be today, when most of the robber barons have gastric ulcers and lunch off crackers and milk at their desks. Certainly it is now unfashionable to overeat in public, and the few real trenchermen left are careful to practice their gastronomical excesses in the name of various honorable and respected food-and-wine societies.
I am a poor figure of a glutton today in comparison with that frank adolescent cramming. In fact I can think of nothing quite like it in my present make-up. It is true that I overeat at times, through carelessness or a deliberate prolonging of my pleasure in a certain taste, but I do not do it with the voracity of youth. I am probably incapable, really, of such lust. I rather regret it: one more admission of my dwindling powers!
The museum is exceedingly interesting and delightful, to anyone who is even a bit aware of the Etruscans. It contains a great number of things found at Tarquinia, and only things found at Tarquinia: at least, so the guide said.Id., VI ("Volterra"):
Which is exactly as should he. It is a great mistake to rape everything away from its setting, and huddle it together in the "great centres." It is all very well to say, the public can then see the things. The public is a hundred-headed ass, and can see nothing. A few intelligent individuals do wander through the splendid etruscan museum in Florence, struggling with the abstraction of many fascinating things from all parts of Etruria confusing the sensitive soul. But the public, if it straggles in, straggles out again in utter boredom. When shall we learn that it is no use approaching the still-vital creations of dead men as if they were so many machine-parts which, fitted together, would make a "civilisation"! Oh, the weary, asinine stupidity of man's desire to "see the thing as a whole." There is no whole—the wholeness no more exists than the equator exists. It is the dreariest of abstractions.
It only we would realise it, and not tear things from their settings. Museums anyhow are wrong. But if one must have museums, let them be small, and above all, let them be local. Splendid as the etruscan museum is in Florence, how much happier one is in the museum at Tarquinia, where all the things are Tarquinian, and at least have some association with one another, and form some sort of organic whole.
Museums, museums, museums, object-lessons rigged out to illustrate the unsound theories of archaeologists, crazy attempts to coordinate and get into a fixed order that which has no fixed order and will not be coordinated! It is sickening! Why must all experience be systematized? Why must even the vanished Etruscans be reduced to a system? They never will be. You break all the eggs, and produce an omelette which is neither Etruscan nor Roman not Italic nor Hittite, nor anything else, but just a systematized mess. Why can't incompatible things be left incompatible? If you make an omelette out of a hen's egg, a plover's, and an ostrich's, you won't have a grand amalgam or unification of hen and plover and ostrich into something we may call "oviparity." You'll have that formless object, an omelette.
So it is here. If you try to make a grand amalgam of Cerveteri and Tarquinia, Vulci, Vetulonia, Volterra, Chiusi, Veii, then you won't get the essential Etruscan as a result, but a cooked-up mess which has no life-meaning at all. A museum is not a first-hand contact: it is an illustrated lecture. And what one wants is the actual vital touch. I don't want to be "instructed"; nor do many other people.
They could take the more homeless objects for the museums, and still leave those that have a place in their own place: the Inghirami Tomb here at Volterra.