Thursday, March 26, 2015


Triple Correlative Conjunctions in Alcman

I noticed some examples of triple correlative conjunctions in Alcman.

Fragment 63:
Ναΐδες τε Λαμπάδες τε Θυιάδες τε.
Fragment 96:
ἤδη παρεξεῖ πυάνιόν τε πολτὸν
χίδρον τε λευκὸν κηρίναν τ' ὁπώραν.
For examples of this construction in other authors see


Reading Books More Than Once

Vilhelm Ekelund (1880-1949), The Second Light, tr. Lennart Bruce (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1986), p. 38:
Books that you finish with are not books at all. A true book is inexhaustible, like a truly lyrical poem. The real practitioners of the noble art of writing are recognizable because they offer the greatest pleasure on rereading. They are therefore of value only to those who know how to read—a species almost as rare as good authors.

Fritz Wagner, Der Chronist

Related post: Rereading.



Sappho, fragment 1, lines 25-28 (prayer to Aphrodite; tr. David A. Campbell):
Come to me now again and deliver me from oppressive anxieties; fulfil all that my heart longs to fulfil, and you yourself be my fellow-fighter.

ἔλθε μοι καὶ νῦν, χαλέπαν δὲ λῦσον
ἐκ μερίμναν, ὄσσα δέ μοι τέλεσσαι
θῦμος ἰμέρρει, τέλεσον· σὺ δ' αὔτα
σύμμαχος ἔσσο.
For a discussion of the entire poem see Anne Pippin Burnett, Three Archaic Poets: Archilochus, Alcaeus, Sappho (London: Duckworth, 1983; rpt. 1988), pp. 243-259. There are misprints in note 80 on p. 257:
For gods as summachoi, aside from the Aeschylean passages already mentioned (note 3), cf. Archil. 108W; Hdt. 8.64 Aesch. Supp. 342, 395; S. OT 274; E. Supp. 630.
Read "note 36" for "note 3" and put a semi-colon after "Hdt. 8.64".

On gods as fellow-fighters see also H.S. Versnel, Coping with the Gods: Wayward Readings in Greek Theology (Leiden: Brill, 2011 = Religions in the Graeco-Roman World, 173), note 260 on pp. 93-94.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


From Brevity to Speechlessness

Basil, letter XII (to Olympius; tr. Roy J. Deferrari):
You used to write us little enough, but now you do not write even that little; and if your brevity keeps increasing with the time, it seems likely to become complete speechlessness.

ἔγραφες ἡμῖν πρότερον μὲν ὀλίγα, νῦν δὲ οὐδὲ ὀλίγα· καὶ ἔοικεν ἡ βραχυλογία προϊοῦσα τῷ χρόνῳ παντελὴς γίνεσθαι ἀφωνία.
Note the missing breathing and accent from the first word of the Greek in the digital Loeb Classical Library:

According to Eric Thomson, this error is not in the printed edition.




Vilhelm Ekelund (1880-1949), The Second Light, tr. Lennart Bruce (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1986), pp. 57-58:
How trees know how to mourn! The dryad in the city's wilderness of brick and mortar, between the sparkle of streetcar cables and the roar of cars, is not the same peaceful creature as in the woods or countryside. Ovid would have depicted the spirits of criminals as condemned to languish in these crowns wilting at the height of summer, and the poets of the Greek Anthology would have made them whine in impressionistic epigrams. Trees are creatures that thrive among good people; the crowd looks down on them and finds it ridiculous to enjoy such things. Trees may well be the happiest and most beautiful beings of the creation, and evoke strong feelings when they are humiliated and outraged. A tree speaks to you of superior piety and bliss; your mind is refreshed and soothed when approaching its genius, looking at it with your inner vision. How many trees were guardian spirits, and teachers for the children who grew up under their protection and never forgot the whisper of their branches.


Scholia Aristophanica

William G. Rutherford (1853-1907), A Chapter in the History of Annotation: Being the Scholia Aristophanica, Vol. III (London: Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1905), pp. 387-388:
There are many allusions in the plays which even the earliest of commentators could only annotate by guesses, and as century followed century the number of obscurities augmented. The old learning would seem to have been inaccessible at first hand to the men who compiled the marginal commentaries; and if it had been accessible, it is doubtful if they could have appreciated it at its proper value or used it to any good purpose. It is clear that as represented in the hypomnemata, mostly anonymous, and in the lexica and other books consulted by them, that learning had assumed a most corrupt and fragmentary form. But with this vast subject it is impossible to deal in a sketch of the methods of scholiasts such as this is. There is no presumption, however, in recording the opinion that in ἱστοριῶν ἀπόδοσις the scholiasts to Aristophanes are so rarely to be trusted that everything they provide of substantial interpretative value might be packed into a score or two of pages. On the other side of the account have to be set an encumbering mass of falsehoods and misleading statements due to the improvisation or the charlatanry or the guileless ignorance of scholiasts, and a great deal of nonsense and nastiness generated from silly and undisciplined minds. There is no reason why rubbish should be treated as erudition merely because it is preserved in a brown Greek manuscript, and rubbish undoubtedly the bulk of ἱστοριῶν ἀπόδοσις is that appears in the scholia. If judged without prejudice it is just the sort of thing that the spirit of comedy exists to make fun of.

Monday, March 23, 2015


Ancient and Modern Poets

Gilbert Murray (1866-1957), Euripides and His Age (London: Williams & Norgate, 1913), pp. 102-103:
It is strange to reflect on the gulf that lies between the life of an ancient poet and his modern descendants. Our poets and men of letters mostly live either by writing or by investments eked out by writing. They are professional writers and readers and, as a rule, nothing else. It is comparatively rare for any one of them to face daily dangers, to stand against men who mean to kill him and beside men for whom he is ready to die, to be kept a couple of days fasting, or even to work in the sweat of his body for the food he eats. If such things happen by accident to one of us we cherish them as priceless "copy," or we even go out of our way to compass the experience artificially.

But an ancient poet was living hard, working, thinking, fighting, suffering, through most of the years that we are writing about life. He took part in the political assembly, in the Council, in the jury-courts; he worked at his own farm or business; and every year he was liable to be sent on long military expeditions abroad or to be summoned at a day's notice to defend the frontier at home. It is out of a life like this, a life of crowded reality and work, that Aeschylus and Sophocles and Euripides found leisure to write their tragedies; one writing 90, one 127, and the third 92!



B.L. Gildersleeve, "Brief Mention," American Journal of Philology 34 (1913) 362-371 (at 370):
[B]ibliographies are not always honest. Books are cited as authorities which have not even been opened...

Sunday, March 22, 2015


The Prison of the Zeitgeist

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), The Allegory of Love (1936; rpt. Oxford University Press, 1951), pp. 89-90 (footnote omitted):
Hence, over all the really fine qualities of these poets, lies the loathsome trail of the rhetorician—the infuriating derangement of every sentence from its natural order, the fantastic choice of vocabulary, the anadiplosis, the sententia, and the amplificatio. They are all terribly obedient to the rhetor's precept varius sis et tamen idem. Their reader must have endless patience and dig deep if he is to find the real merits that lie buried beneath the 'curious terms', the 'fresh colours', the 'sugared rhetoric', and all the other tasteless foolery which corrupts the 'literary' Latin of the time, as it was later to corrupt the vernacular. Yet the task is worth attempting; for surely to be indulgent to mere fashion in other periods, and merciless to it in our own, is the first step we can make out of the prison of the Zeitgeist?


Keeping the Sabbath

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), "My Sabbath":
Some keep the Sabbath going to Church –
I keep it, staying at Home –
With a Bobolink for a Chorister –
And an Orchard, for a Dome –

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice –
I, just wear my Wings –
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton – sings.

God preaches, a noted Clergyman –
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last –
I'm going, all along.
Hat tip: Jane Mallison.

Related posts:

Saturday, March 21, 2015


Presbyterian versus Popistic Latin

Archibald Pitcairn (1652-1713), The Phanaticks, ed. John MacQueen (Woodbridge: The Scottish Text Society, 2012), pp. 56-57 (fol. 173v, from Act V, Scene i, with asterisks omitted):
Novell: The Dauphin is happie in this, that he hath learned his Latine er he came, for I'm perswaded he would have bein under ane ill Mr for that quhill under Salathiel's tutorie, who is so professed ane enimie to poor Prisciane (God help him!) as he is to K. James, and hes no true Latine to himselfe.
Visioner: No Latine! — why, that's a Mistack. Did you not hear him speak ane oratne halfe-an-houer long, all Greek and Latine, just the othr day?
Novell: All the Latine and sense both in it myht have bein so in a much shorter tyme. Ther wes never a sentence of Roman Latine in it.
Visioner: Roman Latine, qoth he — I know quhair I should find you. A presbyterian, protestant man to speack filthie Roman popish Latine!
Novell: I say that barbarous Ignorance. I' Gad, thou understands not. I mean such Latine as the auntient Romans spock.
Visioner: Still worse! That's my positne, that a presbyterian ought to speack presbyterian Latine, and ther should be ant act of the assemblie against all Roman Latine, The language of the whore. I hop in God to heir non of it spak except K. James come back again, quhilk God for his owne glory will not permitt.
Novell: Who cane endure this? What think you of this Latine, Si aliquis virus colebit fasum Deum aut verum Deum, ut non scryptum est, iste virus est guiltus Idolatrie?
Visioner: That may be good enough presbyteriane Latine. Ye may as soon Induce him to Mass as to speack Roman popistic Latin.
Novell: Damn me! Si aliquis virus speackes such Latine, iste virus should be hanged. But what think you of Biblia potest apprehendi cum mediis extraordinaribus et supenaturalibus?
Visioner: Why, that's easie understood. Biblia, 'the Bible', potest apprehendi, 'cane be apprehended', cum mediis extraordinaribus et supernaturalibus, 'with supernaturall & extraordinarie means'. It wes ay good Latine that runs smooth with -bus & -orum & sounds weall.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

Friday, March 20, 2015


Reorganization of the Week

Christopher Morley (1890-1957), Mince Pie (New York: George H. Doran Company, 1919), p. 51:
If we had our way, we would set aside one day a week for talking. In fact, we would reorganize the week altogether. We would have one day for Worship (let each man devote it to worship of whatever he holds dearest); one day for Work; one day for Play (probably fishing); one day for Talking; one day for Reading, and one day for Smoking and Thinking. That would leave one day for Resting, and (incidentally) interviewing employers.
Related posts:


Jonson and Shakespeare

James Freeman Clarke, “Did Shakespeare Write Bacon's Works?”, North American Review, Vol. 132, No. 291 (February, 1881) 163-175 (at 167-168):
But Ben Jonson himself furnishes the best reply to those who think that Shakespeare could not have gained much knowledge of science or literature because he did not go to Oxford or Cambridge. What opportunities had Ben Jonson? A brick-layer by trade, called back immediately from his studies to use the trowel; then running away and enlisting as a common soldier; fighting in the Low Countries; coming home at nineteen, and going on the stage; sent to prison for fighting a duel—what opportunities for study had he? He was of a strong animal nature, combative, in perpetual quarrels, fond of drink, in pecuniary troubles, married at twenty, with a wife and children to support. Yet Jonson was celebrated for his learning. He was master of Greek and Latin literature. He took his characters from Athenaeus, Libanius, Philostratus. Somehow he had found time for all this study. "Greek and Latin thought," says Taine, "were incorporated with his own, and made a part of it. He knew alchemy, and was as familiar with alembics, retorts, crucibles, etc., as if he had passed his life in seeking the philosopher's stone. He seems to have had a specialty in every branch of knowledge. He had all the methods of Latin art—possessed the brilliant conciseness of Seneca and Lucan." If Ben Jonson—a brick-layer, a soldier, a fighter, a drinker—could yet get time to acquire this vast knowledge, is there any reason why Shakespeare, with much more leisure, might not have done the like? He did not possess as much Greek and Latin lore as Ben Jonson, who, probably, had Shakespeare in his mind when he wrote the following passage in his "Poetaster":
"His learning savors not the school-like gloss
That most consists in echoing words and terms,
And soonest wins a man an empty name;
Nor any long or far-fetched circumstance
Wrapt in the curious generalties of art—
But a direct and analytic sum
Of all the worth and first effects of art.
And for his poesy, 'tis so rammed with life,
That it shall gather strength of life with being,
And live hereafter more admired than now."
Hat tip: Karl Maurer.


This Barbaric Age

Robert Graves (1895-1985), The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth, 4th ed. (1997; rpt. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), p. 218:
[N]o scholar dares to set himself up as an authority on more than one narrow subject for fear of incurring the dislike and suspicion of his colleagues. To know only one thing well is to have a barbaric mind: civilization implies the graceful relation of all varieties of experience to a central humane system of thought. The present age is peculiarly barbaric: introduce, say, a Hebrew scholar to an ichthyologist or an authority on Danish place names and the pair of them would have no single topic in common but the weather or the war (if there happened to be a war in progress, which is usual in this barbaric age). But that so many scholars are barbarians does not much matter so long as a few of them are ready to help with their specialized knowledge the few independent thinkers, that is to say the poets, who try to keep civilization alive. The scholar is a quarryman, not a builder, and all that is required of him is that he should quarry cleanly.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Variae Lectiones

Joseph Addison, Spectator, No. 470 (Friday, August 29, 1712):
I have been very often disappointed of late Years, when upon examining the new Edition of a Classick Author, I have found above half the Volume taken up with various Readings. When I have expected to meet with a learned Note upon a doubtful Passage in a Latin Poet, I have only been informed, that such or such Ancient Manuscripts for an et write an ac, or of some other notable Discovery of the like Importance. Indeed, when a different Reading gives us a different Sense, or a new Elegance in an Author, the Editor does very well in taking Notice of it; but when he only entertains us with the several ways of spelling the same Word, and gathers together the various Blunders and Mistakes of twenty or thirty different Transcribers, they only take up the Time of the learned Reader, and puzzle the Minds of the Ignorant. I have often fancied with my self how enraged an old Latin Author would be, should he see the several Absurdities in Sense and Grammar, which are imputed to him by some or other of these various Readings. In one he speaks Nonsense; in another, makes use of a Word that was never heard of: And indeed there is scarce a Solecism in Writing which the best Author is not guilty of, if we may be at Liberty to read him in the Words of some Manuscript, which the laborious Editor has thought fit to examine in the Prosecution of his Work.


The Scholar Defined

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), The Allegory of Love (1936; rpt. Oxford University Press, 1951), pp. 78-79 (on Martianus Capella):
It is uncertain whether he was a Christian or a pagan. Indeed, the distinction scarcely applies to him; such men do not have beliefs. I have heard the scholar defined as one who has a propensity to collect useless information, and in this sense Martianus is the very type of the scholar. The philosophies of others, the religions of others—back even to the twilight of pre-republican Rome—have all gone into the curiosity shop of his mind. It is not his business to believe or disbelieve them; the wicked old pedant knows a trick worth two of that. He piles them up all round him till there is hardly room for him to sit among them in the middle darkness of the shop; and there he gloats and catalogues, but never dusts them, for even their dust is precious in his eyes.


Comic Catalogues of Love's Ills

Plautus, Mercator 18-19, 24-31 (tr. Wolfgang de Melo):
Well, normally all these vices go hand in hand with love: worry, distress, and excessive refinement....But the following things that I didn't mention also go hand in hand with love: sleeplessness, toil, uncertainty, fright, and flight. There's silliness, stupidity to boot and recklessness, mindless thoughtlessness, lack of moderation, petulance and lust, malevolence; laziness, greed, idleness, injustice, lack, disgrace and waste, over-talkativeness, under-talkativeness.

nam amorem haec cuncta vitia sectari solent,
cura, aegritudo, nimiaque elegantia.
sed amori accedunt etiam haec quae dixi minus:
insomnia, aerumna, error, [et] terror, et fuga:        25
ineptia , stultitiaque adeo et temeritas[t],
incogitantia excors, immodestia,
petulantia et cupiditas, malevolentia;
inertia, aviditas, desidia, iniuria,
inopia, contumelia et dispendium,        30
multiloquium, parumloquium.
Terence, Eunuchus 59-61 (tr. John Sargeaunt):
Love has in it all these evils: wrongs, jealousies, quarrels, reconcilements, war, then peace again.

in amore haec omnia insunt vitia: iniuriae,
suspiciones, inimicitiae, indutiae,        60
bellum, pax rursum.
See Keith Preston, Studies in the Diction of the Sermo Amatorius in Roman Comedy (Menasha: George Banta Publishing Company, 1916 = diss. University of Chicago, 1914), pp. 4-14.


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