Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Whatever Comes, Content Makes Sweet
Here, here I live with what my Board,4 Prew: his housekeeper, Prudence Baldwin
Can with the smallest cost afford.
Though ne'er so mean the Viands be,
They well content my Prew and me.
Or Pea, or Bean, or Wort, or Beet, 5
What ever comes, content makes sweet:
Here we rejoyce, because no Rent
We pay for our poore Tenement:
Wherein we rest, and never feare
The Landlord or the Usurer. 10
The Quarter-day do's ne'er affright
Our Peacefull slumbers in the night.
We eate our own, and batten more,
Because we feed on no mans score:
But pitie those, whose flanks grow great, 15
Swel'd with the Lard of others meat.
We blesse our Fortunes, when we see
Our own beloved privacie:
And like our living, where w'are known
To very few, or else to none. 20
11 Quarter-day: when rent is due
13 our own: what we produce
13 batten: "To grow better or improve in condition; esp. (of animals) to improve in bodily condition by feeding, to feed to advantage, thrive, grow fat" (Oxford English Dictionary)
14: score: "debt due to a tradesman for goods obtained on credit" (Oxford English Dictionary, sense 11.a)
19-20: in accordance with Epicurus' maxim (fragment 551 Usener) "Live unknown"
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.
Monday, November 24, 2014
Praise of Melite
Thou hast Hera's eyes, Melite, and Athene's hands, the breasts of Aphrodite, and the feet of Thetis. Blessed is he who looks on thee, thrice blessed he who hears thee talk, a demigod he who kisses thee, and a god he who takes thee to wife.τὰ σφυρὰ are ankles rather than feet: cf. εὔσφυρος, καλλίσφυρος, τανίσφυρος. Lines 3-4 recall Sappho, fragment 31.
ὄμματ᾽ ἔχεις Ἥρης, Μελίτη, τὰς χεῖρας Ἀθήνης,
τοὺς μαζοὺς Παφίης, τὰ σφυρὰ τῆς Θέτιδος.
εὐδαίμων ὁ βλέπων σε· τρισόλβιος ὅστις ἀκούει·
ἡμίθεος δ᾽ ὁ φιλῶν· ἀθάνατος δ᾽ ὁ γαμῶν.
It would be OK to substitute "honey" for Melite when you recite this to your girlfriend.
The most pervasive sign of the average classicist's unconcern with the realities of music is the ubiquitous rendering of aulos, a reed-blown instrument, by 'flute'. There was a time when it was legitimate, because the classification of instruments had not been thought out scientifically and it was quite customary to speak of a 'flute family' that included the reed-blown instruments.2 But that tolerant era is long past, and now the only excuse for calling an aulos a flute is that given by Dr Johnson when asked why he defined 'pastern' as the knee of a horse: 'Ignorance, madam, pure ignorance.' Yet countless literary scholars and even archaeologists persist in this deplorable habit, deaf to all protests from the enlightened. One might as well call the sȳrinx a mouth organ. Those who rely on the standard Greek-English lexicon are not well served in this matter: 'flute' appears erroneously in at least seventy articles.Id., p. 81:
2 See Becker, 36-8.
Aulos is a native word meaning basically 'tube' or 'duct'. The musical aulos was a pipe with finger-holes and a reed mouthpiece. The player almost always played two of them at once, one with each hand, so we shall often refer to auloi in the plural.2Id., pp. 84-85:
2 It is curious that Greek writers never seem to use the dual form aulō, as might be expected in the Attic dialect with objects so obviously making a pair.
Under the Hornbostel-Sachs system, therefore, the aulos should be classified as an oboe. Those who regard the form of the bore as the decisive criterion will seek a different term.19Becker is Heinz Becker, Zur Entwicklungsgeschichte der antiken und mittelalterlichen Rohrblattinstrumente (Hamburg: H. Sikorski, 1966), and NG is The New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie (London: Macmillan, 1980).
It must be admitted that 'oboe-girl' is less evocative than the 'flute-girl' to which classicists have been accustomed, and that when it is a question of translating Greek poetry 'oboe' is likely to sound odd. For the latter case I favour 'pipe' or 'shawm'.20 I have found no very satisfactory solution to the girl problem.
19 Becker's 'euthyphone' (cylindrical) and 'enclinophone' (conical) cannot be called felicitous.
20 Some musicologists do use 'shawm' in the generic sense of double-reed pipe, while others reserve it for particular species (see NG XV. 665). The word derives from calamus.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Perhaps Not Altogether Good for Us
His cottage had no central heating or television and only recently a telephone. The advantages of these amenities he thought exaggerated, perhaps not altogether good for us. To the last, he corresponded in a tiny, rather elegant script, disdaining the typewriter, much less the word-processor.Dom Adrian Morey, David Knowles: A Memoir (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1979), p. 115:
He did not travel abroad, read novels, smoke, attend the theatre or the cinema. He had watched television only twice in his life and then only for ten minutes.Hat tip: Eric Thomson.
A Stirrer-Up of Strife
Well am I pleased by gay Eastertide which makes leaves and flowers come, and I'm pleased when I hear the birds' blitheness as they make their song ring through the woodland; and I'm pleased when I see tents and pavilions pitched, and I'm greatly cheered when I see lined up on the plain horsemen and horses, armed.Ezra Pound, "Sestina: Altaforte," Exultations (London: Elkin Matthews, 1909), pp. 14-15:
And I'm pleased when I see the skirmishers put people and riches to flight, and it pleases me when I see after them a great mass of armed men come together; and I'm pleased in my heart when I see strong castles besieged, and the ramparts breached and crumbled, and I see the defending host on the bank which is enclosed all round by moats protected by strong palissades.
And I'm likewise pleased by the lord when he's foremost in the attack, on horseback, armed, and fearless; for thus does he make his men grow bold in valiant vassal-service; and then when battle's joined each should be ready to follow him with good heart, for no man's esteemed at all until he's taken and dealt many blows.
Maces and swords, coloured helmets and shields being holed and smashed we shall see when battle is first joined, and many vassals clashing together, from which steeds of the dead and wounded will go riderless. And once he has entered the fray let each man of high birth think of naught but splitting heads and arms, for better it is to be dead than alive and overcome.
I tell you that for me there's no such pleasure in eating or drinking or sleeping as there is when I hear shout 'Get at them!' from all sides, and when I hear riderless horses whinny in the shade, and I hear shout 'Help! Help!' and I see falling alongside the moats both humble and mighty in the grass, and I see the dead who through their ribs have bits of lance with the silk pennons.
Barons! put into pawn your castles and towns and cities sooner than not wage war among yourselves!
Papiol, with good heart go quickly to my Lord Yes-and-No, and tell him that he stands too long in peace.
LOQUITUR: En Bertrans de Born.
Dante Alighieri put this man in hell for that he was a stirrer-up of strife.
Have I dug him up again?
The scene is at his castle, Altaforte. "Papiols" is his jongleur. "The Leopard," the device of Richard (Coeur de Lion).
Damn it all! all this our South stinks peace.
You whoreson dog, Papiols, come! Let's to music!
I have no life save when the swords clash.
But ah! when I see the standards gold, vair, purple, opposing
And the broad fields beneath them turn crimson,
Then howl I my heart nigh mad with rejoicing.
In hot summer have I great rejoicing
When the tempests kill the earth's foul peace,
And the light'nings from black heav'n flash crimson,
And the fierce thunders roar me their music
And the winds shriek through the clouds mad, opposing,
And through all the riven skies God's swords clash.
Hell grant soon we hear again the swords clash!
And the shrill neighs of destriers in battle rejoicing,
Spiked breast to spiked breast opposing!
Better one hour's stour than a year's peace
With fat boards, bawds, wine and frail music!
Bah! there's no wine like the blood's crimson!
And I love to see the sun rise blood-crimson.
And I watch his spears through the dark clash
And it fills all my heart with rejoicing
And pries wide my mouth with fast music
When I see him so scorn and defy peace,
His lone might 'gainst all darkness opposing.
The man who fears war and squats opposing
My words for stour, hath no blood of crimson
But is fit only to rot in womanish peace
Far from where worth's won and the swords clash
For the death of such sluts I go rejoicing;
Yea, I fill all the air with my music.
Papiols, Papiols, to the music!
There's no sound like to swords swords opposing,
No cry like the battle's rejoicing
When our elbows and swords drip the crimson
And our charges 'gainst "The Leopard's" rush clash.
May God damn for ever all who cry "Peace!"
And let the music of the swords make them crimson!
Hell grant soon we hear again the swords clash!
Hell blot black for always the thought “Peace”!
Friday, November 21, 2014
We Have Gone Astray
Animals as critics.—I fear that the animals consider man as a being like themselves that has lost in a most dangerous way its sound animal common sense. They consider him the insane animal, the laughing animal, the weeping animal, and the miserable animal.Related post: Lessons from Animals.
Kritik der Thiere.—Ich fürchte, die Thiere betrachten den Menschen als ein Wesen Ihresgleichen, das in höchst gefährlicher Weise den gesunden Thierverstand verloren hat,—als das wahnwitzige Thier, als das lachende Thier, als das weinende Thier, als das unglückselige Thier.
Prince Charles is often mocked for believing that trees can communicate with one another (see e.g. Charles Booth, 'What kind of King will Charles III be?' in The Guardian for 19 Nov. 2014); but scientists have recently verified the fact (see e.g. http://www.wired.com/2013/12/secret-language-of-plants/); and it will not come as any surprise to poets, especially Latin poets. For example:
CLAUDIAN, Epithalamium 65-8 (quoted by Jacob Balde in his Interpretatio Somnii, p. 60):
vivunt in Venerem frondes omnisque vicissimCASIMIR SARBIEWSKI, Epode 1.127 ff. (the 'maestae aves' are turtledoves and nightingales):
felix arbor amat: nutant ad mutua palmae
foedera; populeo suspirat populus ictu,
Et platani platanis, alnoque assilibat alnus.
The leaves but live for love; each happy tree
loves its own kind: a palm nods at another,
a poplar sighs, love-smitten for a poplar;
plane-trees to plane-trees, alder to alder whispers.
Quaecumque maestae vocibus dicunt aves,JACOB BALDE, Lyrica 3.45.37 ff. (echoing Claudian and Sarbiewski):
Respondet argutum nemus.
Affatur alnum quercus, ornum populus,
Affatur ilex ilicem, 130
Et se vicissim collocuta redditis
Arbusta solantur sonis.
And to whatever sounds the sad birds sing
the shapely grove responds.
Oak speaks to alder, poplar to the ash,
a holm-oak to a holm-oak,
and in responsive whispered conversations
orchards console themselves.
... Clarius interimAs for plants communing with humans, I suppose that science has not yet 'discovered' this; but of course poetry has; e.g. famously in Horace's enchanting description of Orpheus at c. 1.12.7-12. That is echoed by Balde in Lyr. 2.20.29-40; and I will end with this, because it also describes the 'marriages' among plants, with which I began:
Ventis loquuntur flantibus arbores.
Quercum salutat prona quercus,
Contiguam soror alnus alnum.
... Meanwhile brightlier,
as the winds blow, the trees speak: a steep oak
salutes an oak; an alder,
a nearby sister alder.
At non et arbor nulla canentibus
Demittit aureis. Vidi ego sibilo
Crispante ramos, colla ramos
Flectere, et alloquio moveri. 10
Sentit Poëtas mitius arborum
Genus, sacri non immemor Orphei.
Agnoscit ex illo Camoenas
Nutibus, et foliorum acuto
Susurrat imbri. connubialia 15
Vidi Lyaeum tendere brachia:
Vitesque desponsas, ad ulmum
Viminibus viduam ligari.
And there are even trees that prick their ears
at singers. I have seen boughs curl, and hiss,
and bend their necks, excited
at being spoken to.
The race of trees thinks tenderly of Poets.
They all remember sacred Orpheus.
When they hear verse they nod
and sigh, or make a noise
like hissing rain. I have seen Bacchus stretching
a husband's arms; seen vine-sprays, all betrothed,
clinging tight by their tendrils
to the unmarried elm-tree.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
What Christianity put forward was the fearful novelty of a God who would burn them alive in perpetuity for their very manner of life, spying out their transgressions wherever committed, as he would correspondingly reward the virtuous. Beginning with John the Baptist's and Jesus' preaching, on through Paul's acknowledgment of "the wrath to come," the flames of hell illuminated the lessons of Christianity quite as much as the light of Grace. Actual scenes of speeches delivered to non-believing crowds show that the message was made plain, for example, by Paul at Iconium very much as Jesus had told His disciples to do; and we know that it got through, at least to Celsus. He remarks that Christians "believe in eternal punishments" and "threaten others with these punishments." Clearest of all is the scene in the amphitheater at Carthage where the martyrs, referring to their coming torment, tell the crowd by sign language, "You, us; but God, you"; but Pionius had elaborated on similar comparisons and warnings of condemnation and suffering, in the city square of Smyrna. It is likely that this particular article of faith was as widely known as any outside the Church. Despite the Apologists' attempts, however, to make eternal hell-fire credible by reference to Tartarus or to Stoic predictions of universal conflagration, non-believers found it novel and hard to accept.
An Unheroic Death
Having praised his patron in life, and having in many cases, no doubt, become bound to him by real ties of affection, the poet would lament him also in death. Jordanes (Getica 257) gives a Latin paraphrase of the praise-song performed at Attila’s funeral. It recalled his achievements, and dealt diplomatically with the fact that he died ignobly of a nosebleed while slumbering in a drunken stupor. It was easier if the man died heroically in battle.
The first speakers of Greek—or rather of the language that was to develop into Greek; I will call them mello-Greeks20—arrived in Greece, on the most widely accepted view, at the beginning of Early Helladic III, that is, around 2300.21One could adapt the term to refer to beginning Greek students.
20 From Greek μέλλω, ‘I am going to be’.
21 Cf. West (1997), 1 with n. 2.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Equally rich is he who has abundancyThe text is uncertain, especially at lines 5-6. See e.g.:
of silver, gold, and acres under plough,
horses and mules, and he that only has the means
to eat well, couch well, and go softly shod,
and by and by enjoy a lad's or woman's bloom, 5
with youth and strength still his to suit his need.
This is a man's true wealth: he cannot take all those
possessions with him when he goes below.
No price he pays can buy escape from death, or grim
diseases, or the onset of old age. 10
ἶσόν τοι πλουτέουσιν, ὅτωι πολὺς ἄργυρός ἐστι
καὶ χρυσὸς καὶ γῆς πυροφόρου πεδία
ἵπποι θ' ἡμίονοί τε, καὶ ὧι μόνα ταῦτα πάρεστι,
γαστρί τε καὶ πλευραῖς καὶ ποσὶν ἁβρὰ παθεῖν,
παιδός τ' ἠδὲ γυναικός, ἐπὴν καὶ ταῦτ' ἀφίκηται, 5
ὥρη, σὺν δ' ἥβη γίνεται ἁρμοδίη.
ταῦτ' ἄφενος θνητοῖσι· τὰ γὰρ περιώσια πάντα
χρήματ' ἔχων οὐδεὶς ἔρχεται εἰς Ἀΐδεω,
οὐδ' ἂν ἄποινα διδοὺς θάνατον φύγοι, οὐδὲ βαρείας
νούσους, οὐδὲ κακὸν γῆρας ἐπερχόμενον. 10
- Ivan M. Linforth, Solon the Athenian (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1919), pp. 148-149 (text and translation), pp. 211-213 (commentary)
- M.L. West, ed., Iambi et Elegi Graeci ante Alexandrum Cantati, vol. II (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972; rpt. 1998), pp. 154-155
- Martin L. West, Studies in Greek Elegy and Iambus (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1974), p. 158
- Thomas Gärtner, "Überlegungen zu den Theognideen," Studia Humaniora Tartuensia 8.A.1 (2007) 1-74 (at 10-11)
- Maria Noussia Fantuzzi, Solon the Athenian: The Poetic Fragments (Leiden: Brill, 2010 = Mnemosyne, Suppl. 326), pp. 347 ff.
Equally rich is the man who has gold and silver aplenty,Dr. Maurer comments:
acres of golden wheat ripening in the rich plain,
horses and oxen; and he who counts as his only possessions
something to eat; clothing for his back, and shoes for his feet,
joy when the season comes, in beauty of youth or of maiden, 5
pleasures in which our youth fitly may take its delight.
This is true wealth for a man: whoever has more to his portion
leaves all the surplus behind when he goes down to the shades.
No man buys himself off from death or painful diseases,
and a bribe will not turn back age in its silent approach. 10
Notice that like Fränkel himself, the English translators tried to retain the elegiac meter. At least, they do this in every line except 4 and 10. Their line 4 is metrically a mere chaos, and their line 10 should be I think, 'nor will a bribe turn back age in its silent approach'. Perhaps they did originally write this, and then some un-metrical person 'corrected' it.Many commentators have noted Horace's imitation of Solon (Epistles 1.12.4-6):
pauper enim non est cui rerum suppetit usus.Cf. also Herodotus 1.32.5 (Solon to Croesus; tr. A.D. Godley):
si ventri bene, si lateri est pedibusque tuis, nil
divitiae poterunt regales addere maius.
The very rich man is not more fortunate than the man who has only his daily needs...
οὐ γάρ τι ὁ μέγα πλούσιος μᾶλλον τοῦ ἐπ᾽ ἡμέρην ἔχοντος ὀλβιώτερος ἐστί...
For the city, as you yourself see, is now sorely vexed, and can no longer lift her head from beneath the angry waves of death. A blight has fallen on the fruitful blossoms of the land, the herds among the pastures, the barren pangs of women.There are parallels for the threefold blight on crops, livestock, and offspring.
πόλις γάρ, ὥσπερ καὐτὸς εἰσορᾷς, ἄγαν
ἤδη σαλεύει κἀνακουφίσαι κάρα
βυθῶν ἔτ᾽ οὐχ οἵα τε φοινίου σάλου,
φθίνουσα μὲν κάλυξιν ἐγκάρποις χθονός,
φθίνουσα δ᾽ ἀγέλαις βουνόμοις τόκοισί τε
Herodotus 3.65.7 (tr. A.D. Godley):
And if you do this, may your land bring forth fruit, and your women and your flocks and herds be blessed with offspring, remaining free for all time; but if you do not get the kingdom back or attempt to get it back, then I pray things turn out the opposite for you.Herodotus 6.139.1 (tr. A.D. Godley):
καὶ ταῦτα μὲν ποιεῦσι ὑμῖν γῆ τε καρπὸν ἐκφέροι καὶ γυναῖκές τε καὶ ποῖμναι τίκτοιεν, ἐοῦσι ἐς τὸν ἅπαντα χρόνον ἐλευθέροισι· μὴ δὲ ἀνασωσαμένοισι τὴν ἀρχὴν μηδ᾽ ἐπιχειρήσασι ἀνασώζειν τὰ ἐναντία τούτοισι ἀρῶμαι ὑμῖν γενέσθαι.
But when the Pelasgians had murdered their own sons and women, their land brought forth no fruit, nor did their wives and their flocks and herds bear offspring as before.Aeschines, Against Ctesiphon 111 (tr. Charles Darwin Adams):
ἀποκτείνασι δὲ τοῖσι Πελασγοῖσι τοὺς σφετέρους παῖδάς τε καὶ γυναῖκας οὔτε γῆ καρπὸν ἔφερε οὔτε γυναῖκές τε καὶ ποῖμναι ὁμοίως ἔτικτον καὶ πρὸ τοῦ.
The curse goes on: That their land bear no fruit; that their wives bear children not like those who begat them, but monsters; that their flocks yield not their natural increase...Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 3.20 (tr. F.C. Conybeare):
καὶ ἐπεύχεται αὐτοῖς μήτε γῆν καρποὺς φέρειν, μήτε γυναῖκας τέκνα τίκτειν γονεῦσιν ἐοικότα, ἀλλὰ τέρατα, μήτε βοσκήματα κατὰ φύσιν γονὰς ποιεῖσθαι...
Well, at that time of which I speak, the Ethiopians lived here, and were subject to King Ganges, and the land was sufficient for their sustenance, and the gods watched over them; but when they slew this king, neither did the rest of the Indians regard them as pure, nor did the land permit them to remain upon it; for it spoiled the seed which they sowed in it before it came into ear, and it inflicted miscarriages on their women, and it gave a miserable feed to their flocks...Deuteronomy 28.17-18:
ὃν μὲν δὴ χρόνον ᾤκουν ἐνταῦθα οἱ Αἰθίοπες ὑποκείμενοι βασιλεῖ Γάγγῃ, ἥ τε γῆ αὐτοὺς ἱκανῶς ἔφερβε καὶ οἱ θεοὶ σφῶν ἐπεμελοῦντο, ἐπεὶ δὲ ἀπέκτειναν τὸν βασιλέα τοῦτον, οὔτε τοῖς ἄλλοις Ἰνδοῖς καθαροὶ ἔδοξαν, οὔτε ἡ γῆ ξυνεχώρει αὐτοῖς ἵστασθαι, τήν τε γὰρ σποράν, ἣν ἐς αὐτὴν ἐποιοῦντο, πρὶν ἐς κάλυκα ἥκειν, ἔφθειρε τούς τε τῶν γυναικῶν τόκους ἀτελεῖς ἐποίει καὶ τὰς ἀγέλας πονήρως ἔβοσκε...
Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.I owe most of the parallels to Bernard M.W. Knox, "The Date of the Oedipus Tyrannus of Sophocles," American Journal of Philology 77 (1956) 133-147 (at 135-136), although his citation of Philostratus at p. 136, n. 17, is faulty—for "Vita Apollodori, III, 20" read "Vita Apollonii, III, 20".
Labels: typographical and other errors
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Not Just Any Wine
ALCUINNot just any wine, but Falernian!
Inscriptio in refectorio fratrum
Qui de rore dapes dedit et de petra bibendum,
Qui convertit aquas liquidas in vina Falerna,
Qui siccis pelagi pedibus superambulat undas,
Augeat ipse suis famulis sua dona benignus.
PLC I, p. 331
Inscription in monastic refectory
He who made a feast of dew, drink from a rock,
Turned flowing water to Falernian wine,
And walked dry-shod across the waves of the sea—
May he in kindness bless his gifts to his servants.
This would make a suitable table grace, although the third line seems a bit out of place.
PLC is Poetae Latini Aevi Carolini, ed. Ernst Dümmler et al., 4 vols. (Berlin: Weidmann, 1881-1923).
(fresco from Visoki Dečani)
Books Picked Up by Chance
My book experiences on board of the frigate proved an example of a fact which every book-lover must have experienced before me, namely, that though public libraries have an imposing air, and doubtless contain invaluable volumes, yet, somehow, the books that prove most agreeable, grateful, and companionable, are those we pick up by chance here and there; those which seem put into our hands by Providence; those which pretend to little, but abound in much.