Monday, March 10, 2014
The Black Dog
Some things of the black dog still hanging about me but I will shake him off. I generally affect good spirits in company of my family whether I am enjoying them or not. It is too severe to sadden the harmless mirth of others by suffering your own causeless melancholy to be seen. And this species of exertion is like virtue its own reward for the good spirits which are at first simulated become at length real.Hester Lynch Piozzi, Diary (October 19, 1790):
The Black Dog is upon his Back; was a common saying some Years ago when a Man was seen troubled with Melancholy.
A Gracious Creature
A glass of good wine is a gracious creature and reconciles poor mortality to itself, and that is what few things can do.
Rest Alone with Thyself
He, whose desires are still abroad, I see
Hath never any peace at home the while;
And therefore now come back my heart to me.
It is but for superfluous things we toil.
Rest alone with thyself, be all within;
For what without thou gett'st, thou dost not win.
Honour, wealth, glory, fame are no such things
But that which from imagination springs.
High-reaching power, that seems to overgrow,
Doth creep but on the earth, lies base and low.
Sunday, March 09, 2014
Through love Zeus became a swan for Leda, a bull for Europa, a satyr for Antiope, and gold for Danae.I would retain the Greek word order when translating, thus:
Ζεὺς κύκνος, ταῦρος, σάτυρος, χρυσὸς δι᾽ ἔρωτα
Λήδης, Εὐρώπης, Ἀντιόπης, Δανάης.
Zeus became a swan, a bull, a satyr, gold, for love ofRelated post: Take It As It Comes.
Leda, Europa, Antiope, Danaë.
The author traces this opinion to A.H.M. Jones and shows (though with a courtesy that should be a model for others), how it has been repeated by followers. And there is no doubt that we have indeed been guilty of scholarly psittacism.If two examples are sufficient evidence of a trend, then Levick seems fond of the phrase. She used it a few years earlier in a review of Ronald Syme's History in Ovid, in Journal of Roman Studies 70 (1980) 244-245 (at 245):
Scholarly psittacism is a justifiable target of the author; deafness might be another.The phrase also occurs in G.W. Bowersock's review of Patricia B. Craddock's Edward Gibbon: Luminous Historian (1772-1794) , in American Journal of Philology 113 (1992) 147-150 (at 150):
The censure of the Byzantine chapters in the Decline and Fall that has gone on virtually unanimously for about a century reveals more about scholarly psittacism than Gibbon.It's a useful phrase, because the phenomenon it describes is so widespread.
Saturday, March 08, 2014
Euripides, Hippolytus 1396, first states the rule (Artemis speaking, my translation):
It is not lawful for me to let fall a tear from my eyes.Ovid restates the rule at Metamorphoses 2.621-622 (tr. Frank Justus Miller):
κατ' ὄσσων δ' οὐ θέμις βαλεῖν δάκρυ.
For the cheeks of the heavenly gods may not be wet with tears.and Fasti 4.521 (tr. James George Frazer):
neque enim caelestia tingui
ora licet lacrimis.
For gods can never weep.Cf. also Friedrich Marx's emendation of Ovid, Metamorphoses 14.420:
neque enim lacrimare deorum est.
nec satis est nymphae flere et lacerare capillos 420The contrary to fact condition in Naevius' epitaph (Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights 1.24.2, tr. J.C. Rolfe) also implies the existence of this rule:
et dare plangorem: facit haec tamen omnia, seque
proripit ac Latios errat vesana per agros.
420 satis codd.: fas F. Marx, Rheinisches Museum für Philologie 41 (1886) 559
If that immortals might for mortals weep,Despite the rule, classical literature provides several examples of gods (or, more often, goddesses) weeping. A selection follows.
Then would divine Camenae weep for Naevius.
inmortales mortales si foret fas flere,
flerent divae Camenae Naevium poetam.
Homer, Iliad 21.493-426 (tr. A.T. Murray):
Then weeping the goddess fled from before her even as a dove that from before a falcon flieth into a hollow rock, a cleft—nor is it her lot to be taken; even so fled Artemis weeping, and left her bow and arrows where they lay.Callimachus, Hymns 6.17 (hymn to Demeter, tr. Neil Hopkinson):
δακρυόεσσα δ᾽ ὕπαιθα θεὰ φύγεν ὥς τε πέλεια,
ἥ ῥά θ᾽ ὑπ᾽ ἴρηκος κοίλην εἰσέπτατο πέτρην
χηραμόν· οὐδ᾽ ἄρα τῇ γε ἁλώμεναι αἴσιμον ἦεν·
ὣς ἣ δακρυόεσσα φύγεν, λίπε δ᾽ αὐτόθι τόξα.
No, no! let us not speak of what brought tears to Deo.Philicus of Corcyra, Hymn to Demeter (Supplementum Hellenisticum, fragment 680), line 40 (possibly referring to the creation of a spring from Demeter's tears, my translation):
μὴ μὴ ταῦτα λέγωμες ἃ δάκρυον ἄγαγε Δηοῖ.
You will bring forth a spring with your tears.Nonnus, Dionysiaca 6.8-9 (on Deo = Demeter, tr. W.H.D. Rouse):
σοῖς προσανήσεις δακρύοισι πηγήν.
The cheeks of the goddess were moistened with self-running tears.Vergil, Aeneid 1.227-229 (tr. H. Rushton Fairclough):
βαρυνομένης δὲ θεαίνης
δάκρυσιν αὐτοχύτοισι καθικμαίνοντο παρειαί.
And lo! as on such cares he pondered in heart, Venus, saddened and her bright eyes brimming with tears, spake to him...Vergil, Aeneid 10.628 (tr. H. Rushton Fairclough):
atque illum talis iactantem pectore curas
tristior et lacrimis oculos suffusa nitentis
And Juno weeping...Ovid, Amores 3.9.45-46 (on Venus, tr. Grant Showerman):
et Iuno adlacrimans...
She turned her face away who holds the heights of Eryx; some, too, there are who say she kept not back the tear.Propertius 2.16.54 (on Jupiter, tr. G.P. Goold):
avertit vultus, Erycis quae possidet arces;
sunt quoque, qui lacrimas continuisse negant.
Since he too, although a god, has been deceived and wept.Propertius 4.11.60 (on Augustus, tr. G.P. Goold):
deceptus quoniam flevit et ipse deus.
And we saw a god's tears flow.Claudian, Rape of Proserpine 1.192-193 (on Ceres = Demeter, tr. Maurice Platnauer):
et lacrimas vidimus ire deo.
Ah, how often, foreknowing of coming ill, did she mar her cheek with welling tears!Related post: Did Christ Ever Laugh?
heu quotiens praesaga mali violavit oborto
Friday, March 07, 2014
Adversaria ad Persium
See also his reasons for and against publishing original scholarship on the Internet. More classical scholars should follow his lead.
The English Language
'And now, let me hear a little of your own language.'
I gave utterance to a few verses of Shakespeare, which caused considerable merriment.
'Do you mean to tell me,' she asked, 'that people really talk like that?'
'Of course they do.'
'And pretend to understand what it means?'
'Maybe they do,' she agreed. 'But only when they want to be thought funny by their friends.'
The Seven Ages of Man
The seven worlds which a man experiences: At one year old he is like a king, placed in a covered litter, and all embrace and kiss him. At two or three he is like a pig which pokes about the sewers. At ten he jumps about like a kid. At twenty he is like a neighing horse; he adorns his person and seeks a wife. Having married, he is like an ass, bearing a heavy burden. Then having become the father of children, he grows bold like a dog to procure sustenance for them. When finally he has grown old, he is bent like a monkey.I owe the reference to Michael E. Goodich (1944-2006), From Birth to Old Age: The Human Life Cycle in Medieval Thought, 1250-1350 (Lanham: University Press of America, 1989), p. 62. See also L. Landau, "Some Parallels to Shakespeare's 'Seven Ages'," Journal of English and Germanic Philology 19 (1920) 382-396 (esp. p. 389).
Thursday, March 06, 2014
The Doorless House
Ðe wes bold gebyld, er þu iboren were,The translation of lines 7-14 is similar to that by Seth Lerer in The Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature, ed. David Wallace (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 26.
ðe wes molde imynt, er ðu of moder come.
Ac hit nes no idiht, ne þeo deopnes imeten,
nes ȝyt iloced, hu long hit þe were.
Nu me þe bringæð, þer ðu beon scealt, 5
nu me sceæl þe meten and þa molde seoðða.
Ne bið no þin hus healice itinbred;
hit bið unheh and lah, þonne þu list þerinne:
ðe helewaȝes beoð laȝe, sid-wages unheȝe,
þe rof bið ibyld þire broste ful neh 10
swa þu scealt on molde wunien ful calde.
Dimme and deorcæ. Þet den fulæt on honde
dureleas is þet hus and dearc hit is wiðinnen.
eðær þu bist feste bidytt and dæð hefð þa cæȝe.
An abode was built for you before you were born; the soil was dug for you before you came out of your mother. But it was not prepared, nor was the depth measured, nor was it established yet how long it may be for you. Now you are brought where you must be, now you must be measured and then the soil. Now your house is not built high; it is short and low when you lie in it: the end-walls are low, the side-walls not high, the roof is built very near to your breast so that you will remain in the earth very cold. Dim and dark, the den will quickly become foul. Doorless is the house and it is dark inside, where you are shut fast and death has the key.
Here is another version of lines 1-14, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882):
For thee was a house builtEmily Dickinson (1830-1886) uses the same image of a doorless house in this quatrain:
Ere thou wast born,
For thee was a mould meant
Ere thou of mother camest.
But it is not made ready,
Nor its depth measured,
Nor is it seen
How long it shall be.
Now I bring thee
Where thou shall be;
Now I shall measure thee,
And the mould afterwards.
Thy house is not
It is unhigh and low;
When thou art therein,
The heel-ways are low,
The sideways unhigh.
The roof is built
Thy breast full nigh,
So thou shalt in mould
Dwell full cold,
Dimly and dark.
Doorless is that house,
And dark it is within;
There thou art fast detained
And Death hath the key.
Doom is the House without the Door —
'Tis entered from the Sun —
And then the Ladder's thrown away,
Because Escape — is done —
What is Our Life?
What is our life? a play of passion.2 division: "The execution of a rapid melodic passage, originally conceived as the dividing of each of a succession of long notes into several short ones; such a passage itself, a florid phrase or piece of melody, a run..." (Oxford English Dictionary, s.v., sense 7.a)
Our mirth the music of division.
Our mothers' wombs the tiring-houses be,
Where we are dressed for this short comedy.
Heaven the judicious sharp spectator is, 5
That sits and marks still who doth act amiss.
The graves that hide us from the searching sun
Are like drawn curtains when the play is done.
Thus march we, playing, to our latest rest,
And then we die in earnest, that's no jest. 10
3 tiring-houses: dressing-rooms
On the world as a stage and life as a play, see Ernst Robert Curtius (1886-1956), European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, tr. Willard E. Trask (1953; rpt. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973), pp. 138-144 ("Theatrical Metaphors").
The Grimy Gospel of Labor
It was thought in those far-away days that quiet meant peace, and that peace was only another and perhaps a more beautiful name for happiness. Now we look at life differently, and, summed up briefly, our ideal of happiness is noise, crowds and constant movement. Only the invalid and the imbecile may take their fill of ease; the rest of us must hurry along the road doing something, no matter how well or how ill, if only so be we are up and doing. Moreover, we must work, as the convicts do, in company, and in full sight of an approving or a disapproving world; because those who live alone and work alone, learn to think alone, and this is a high crime in our active bustling age. But have we not lost, too, the very habit of thinking? for thought needs silence, solitude and leisure; all the conditions of life we have learned to despise, all that is forbidden in the grimy gospel of labour.Hat tip: Andrew Rickard.
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
The World is But a Play
Whether men do laugh or weep,
Whether they do wake or sleep,
Whether they die young or old,
Whether they feel heat or cold,
There is underneath the sun
Nothing in true earnest done.
All our pride is but a jest;
None are worst and none are best,
Grief and joy and hope and fear
Play their pageants everywhere;
Vain opinion all doth sway,
And the world is but a play.
Powers above in clouds do sit
Mocking our poor apish wit,
That so lamely with such state
Their high glory imitate.
No ill can be felt but pain,
And that happy men disdain.
My books! What would my life be without them? They are my meat and my drink. They employ my mind and lift me out of myself. In hours of mental exaltation I forget my miserable body. I have a book for every mood and every condition. When my mind is strongest and clearest and freest, I range the upper fields of philosophy with Plato; when I am most inclined to pure reason, I listen to brave Socrates; when I am in temper for observation, I read Aesop; when I want to realize the power of light over darkness, I tread the dawn with Epictetus; when I want to breathe the atmosphere of the Caesars, I follow Suetonius; then I walk with Cicero and his nomenclator in the streets of the Eternal City, and study the arts of the Roman politician; of moral exaltation, I find a rare example in the heathen emperor Marcus Antoninus; gods, and demigods, and heroes fight for me in Homer; if I want to sup with horrors, I sit down in terror with Aeschylus, witnessing the ghost of Clytemnestra rushing into Apollo's temple, and rousing the sleeping Furies; if I want a refreshing ride in the chariot of the sun, I take a seat with Phaëton, in Ovid; at will, I range paradise with Milton, and explore perdition with Dante; when I hunger for the world, and want to see every type of man and woman perfectly represented, I read Shakespeare; when I want to study human nature, I take Don Quixote, Pilgrim's Progress, and Faust; to feel the inspiration of freedom, I scale the heights and storm the fastnesses with Schiller; I gossip with wise old Montaigne; think with Pascal; moralize with Sir Thomas Browne; quote and comment with Burton; rummage with Disraeli; laugh with Rabelais; enjoy the suggestive experiences of Gil Blas; am always amused and entertained with Tristram Shandy; Tom Jones—who could ever tire of it? or of Humphry Clinker? or of Roderick Random? or Swift's Gulliver? though I am terrified sometimes with its pitiless wisdom; I go a-fishing with Izaak, and participate (the slightest) his meekness and sweet contentment; I listen to sermons from Bourdaloue, and Bossuet, and Massillon, and Barrow, and South, and Chalmers, and Wesley, and Hall; I take down Foster when I want to read a little and think more of times gone by and difficulties overcome; then I philosophize with Souvestre in his Attic; then enjoy the caustic wit and keen satire of Thackeray, and contemplate his immortal creations; then the humanities of Dickens quicken me to tears, and a long procession of the creatures of his teeming brain move before me; Sir Walter, too, who is history enough for me now; and Burns—the one immortal bard of humanity—to be cherished and sung while man is man, ever and ever; and philosophic Wordsworth; and poetic Shelley and Keats; and the moral and wise Sam Johnson; and the gentle and exquisite Goldsmith; and the storming Carlyle,—mighty hater and smiter of cant and shams; then I discourse with Coleridge; pun and turn over rare old books with gentle Elia; luxuriate with abounding Macaulay; dream with De Quincey; expatiate with Hazlitt and Hunt; then to the Brontés—Charlotte especially; then to Miss Austen—so healthy, serene, and pure; then to something more thoughtful again—to Emerson, the reflective, the wise, the exalted—fit society for Plato in the empyrean; then to Hawthorne—dissector, interpenetrator of hearts and lives; to scholarly, witty, shrewd Lowell—critic, poet, ambassador; to Holmes—so acute, humorous, suggestive, and philosophical in the Autocrat and Elsie—altogether unique in literature; and when a taste for something light, and finished, and exquisite, seizes me, I read the Reveries, and Prue and I; and so I go on and on, feasting with the worthies, and banqueting with the celestials, as inclination or whim pleases me—a precious book, as I said, for every mood and every condition.
If I were going "at my age and with my cough" to take up a "mission"—it would be the reverse of Fanny Wrights—instead of boiling up individuals into the species—I would draw a chalk circle round every individuality and preach to it to keep within that, and preserve and cultivate its identity at the expense of ever so much lost giltlacker of other people's isms.giltlacker = gilt lacquer
Related post: Emphasis on Individuality.
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
The Love of Solitude
Still however, from the earliest time I can remember, I preferd the pleasures of being alone to waiting for visitors, and have often taken a bannock and a bit of cheese to the wood or hill to avoid dining with company. As I grew from boyhood to manhood I saw this would not do and that to gain a place in men's esteem I must mix and bustle with them. Pride and an excitation of spirits often supplied the real pleasure which others seem to feel in society and certainly upon many occasions it was real. Still if the question was eternal company without the power of retiring within yourself or Solitary confinement for life I should say, 'Turnkey, Lock the cell.'Id., p. 121 (March 28, 1826):
One is tempted to ask himself, knocking at the door of his own heart, Do you love this extreme loneliness? I can answer conscientiously I do. The love of Solitude was with me a passion of early youth when in my teens I used to fly from company to indulge visions and airy Castles of my own, the disposal of ideal wealth and the exercize of imaginary power. This feeling prevaild even till I was eighteen when Love and Ambition awaking with other passions threw me more into society, from which I have however at times withdrawn myself and have been always glad to do so.
A Miniature Wilderness
Think of scooping up a handful of soil and leaf litter and spreading it out on a white ground cloth, in the manner of the field biologist, for close examination. This unprepossessing lump contains more order and richness of structure, and particularity of history, than the entire surfaces of all the other (lifeless) planets. It is a miniature wilderness that can take almost forever to explore.Related posts:
- Enough for the Study of a Lifetime
- At My Own Doorstep
- Enough of Interest and Beauty
- It Is All Here
Reading can become a dope habit. Book-sickness is a modern ailment.W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), "The Book-Bag," Collected Short Stories, Vol. IV (New York: Penguin Books, 1978), pp. 9-41 (at 9):
Some people read for instruction, which is praiseworthy, and some for pleasure, which is innocent, but not a few read from habit, and I suppose that this is neither innocent nor praiseworthy. Of that lamentable company am I. Conversation after a time bores me, games tire me and my own thoughts, which we are told are the unfailing resource of a sensible man, have a tendency to run dry. Then I fly to my book as the opium-smoker to his pipe. I would sooner read the catalogue of the Army and Navy Stores or Bradshaw's Guide than nothing at all, and indeed I have spent many delightful hours over both these works. At one time I never went out without a second-hand bookseller's list in my pocket. I know no reading more fruity. Of course to read in this way is as reprehensible as doping, and I never cease to wonder at the impertinence of great readers who, because they are such, look down on the illiterate. From the standpoint of what eternity is it better to have read a thousand books than to have ploughed a million furrows? Let us admit that reading with us is just a drug that we cannot do without—who of this band does not know the restlessness that attacks him when he has been severed from reading too long, the apprehension and irritability, and the sigh of relief which the sight of a printed page extracts from him?—and so let us be no more vainglorious than the poor slaves of the hypodermic needle or the pint-pot.
And like the dope-fiend who cannot move from place to place without taking with him a plentiful supply of his deadly balm I never venture far without a sufficiency of reading matter.
Hat tip: Jim K.