Monday, January 23, 2006


Pleasures of Pedantry

Erasmus, Praise of Folly 49 (tr. John Wilson):
Add to this that other pleasure of theirs, that if any of them happen to find out who was Anchises' mother, or pick out of some wormeaten manuscript a word not commonly known - as suppose it bubsequa for a cowherd, bovinator for a wrangler, manticulator for a cutpurse - or dig up the ruins of some ancient monument with the letters half eaten out; O Jupiter! what towerings! what triumphs! what commendations! as if they had conquered Africa or taken in Babylon.

et hoc voluptatis genus, quoties istorum aliquis Anchisae matrem, aut voculam vulgo incognitam, in putri quapiam charta deprehenderit, puta bubsequam, bovinatorem aut manticulatorem, aut si quis vetusti saxi fragmentum, mutilis notatum litteris, alicubi effoderit: O Iupiter, quae tum exsultatio, qui triumphi, quae encomia, perinde quasi vel Africam devicerint, vel Babylonas ceperint.

Anchises' Mother

According to Apollodorus 3.1.12 (tr. J.G. Frazer), Themiste was Anchises' mother:
Assaracus had by his wife Hieromneme, daughter of Simoeis, a son Capys; and Capys had by his wife Themiste, daughter of Ilus, a son Anchises, whom Aphrodite met in love's dalliance, and to whom she bore Aeneas and Lyrus, who died childless.
But Dionysius of Halicarnassus 1.62.2 (tr. E. Cary) gives a slightly different genealogy, making Hieromneme the mother of Anchises:
Of Erichthonius and Callirrhoê, the daughter of Scamander, was born Tros, from whom the nation has received its name; of Tros and Acallaris, the daughter of Eumedes, Assaracus; of Assaracus and Clytodora, the daughter of Laomedon, Capys; of Capys and a Naiad nymph, Hieromnemê, Anchises; of Anchises and Aphroditê, Aeneas.
According to Juvenal (7.229-236, tr. Paul Monroe), it was the identity of Anchises' nurse, not his mother, that was a mystery:
But do you, parents, impose severe exactions on him that is to teach your boys; that he be perfect in the rules of grammar for each word -- read all histories -- know all authors as well as his own finger-ends; that if questioned at hazard, while on his way to the Thermae or the baths of Phoebus, he should be able to tell the name of Anchises' nurse, and the name and native land of the stepmother of Anchemolus -- tell off-hand how many years Acestes lived -- how many flagons of wine the Sicilian king gave to the Phrygians.

             sed vos saevas inponite leges,
ut praeceptori verborum regula constet,
ut legat historias, auctores noverit omnes
tamquam ungues digitosque suos, ut forte rogatus,
dum petit aut thermas aut Phoebi balnea, dicat
nutricem Anchisae, nomen patriamque novercae
Anchemoli, dicat quot Acestes vixerit annis,
quot Siculi Phrygibus vini donaverit urnas.
Tiberius was fond of questions like this, according to Suetonius (Life of Tiberius 70.3, tr. J.C. Rolfe):
Yet his special aim was a knowledge of mythology, which he carried to a silly and laughable extreme; for he used to test even the grammarians, a class of men in whom, as I have said, he was especially interested, by questions something like this: "Who was Hecuba's mother?" "What was the name of Achilles among the maidens?" "What were the Sirens in the habit of singing?"

maxime tamen curavit notitiam historiae fabularis usque ad ineptias atque derisum; nam et grammaticos, quod genus hominum praecipue, ut diximus, appetebat, eius modi fere quaestionibus experiebatur: "quae mater Hecubae, quod Achilli nomen inter virgines fuisset, quid Sirenes cantare sint solitae."


Bubsequa (or busequa as it is usually spelled) occurs four times in Apuleius.

Metamorphoses 8.1 (tr. W. Adlington, rev. S. Gaselee):
O ye horsekeepers, shepherds, and cowherds, you shall understand that we have lost our good mistress Charite miserably and by evil adventure, but not alone did she go down to the ghosts.

equisones opilionesque, etiam busequae, fuit Charite nobis, fuit misella et quidem casu gravissimo, nec vero incomitata Manis adivit.
Apology 10.6 (tr. H.E. Butler):
But Aemilianus, whose rusticity far surpasses that of the shepherds and cowherds of Vergil, who is, in fact, and always has been a boor and a barbarian, though he thinks himself far more austere than Serranus, Curius, o Fabricius, those heroes of the days of old, denies that such verses are worthy of a philosopher who is a follower of Plato.

sed Aemilianus, vir ultra Vergilianos opiliones et busequas rusticanus, agrestis quidem semper et barbarus, verum longe austerior, ut putat, Serranis et Curiis et Fabriciis, negat id genus versus Platonico philosopho competere.
Florida 3 (tr. H.E. Butler):
Well, then, before Hyagnis the majority of musicians could do no more than the shepherds or cowherds of Vergil who "Made sorry strains on pipes of scrannel straw."

prorsus igitur ante Hyagnin nihil aliud plerique callebant quam Vergilianus opilio seu busequa, "stridenti miserum stipula disperdere carmen" [Verg. Ecl. 3.27].
On the God of Socrates 5 (tr. Thomas Taylor):
What, therefore, shall I do (some orator may object) after this decision of yours, which is indeed celestial, but inhuman? If men are entirely removed far from the immortal Gods, and are so banished into these Tartarean realms of earth that all communication with the celestial Gods is denied to them, nor any one of the number of the celestials occasionally visits them, in the same manner as a shepherd visits his flocks of sheep, or an equerry his horses, or a herdsman his lowing cattle, in order that he may repress the more ferocious, heal the morbid, and assist those that are in want?

quid igitur, orator, obiecerit aliqui, post istam caelestem quidem sed paene inhumanam tuam sententiam faciam, si omnino homines a diis inmortalibus procul repelluntur atque ita in haec terrae tartara relegantur, ut omnis sit illis adversus caelestes deos communio denegata nec quisquam eos e caelitum numero velut pastor vel equiso vel busequa ceu balantium vel hinnientium vel mugientium greges intervisat, qui ferocibus moderetur, morbidis medeatur, egenis opituletur?
See also Sidonius, Letters 1.6.3 (tr. W.B. Anderson):
And now, for shame if you are to be left behind amongst bumpkin cowherds and snorting swineherds! If you can hold a shaky plough-handle and cut up the field, or if, stooping over the curved sickle, you can prune the flowery wealth of the meadow, or if as a down-bent delver you can turn up with your hoe the vineyard laden with heavy growth, that, forsooth, is the supreme happiness to which you aspire!

et nunc, pro pudor, si relinquare inter busequas rusticanos subulcosque ronchantes. quippe si aut campum stiva tremente proscindas aut prati floreas opes panda curvus falce populeris aut vineam palmite gravem cernuus rastris fossor invertas, tunc tibi est summa votorum beatitudo.


On bovinator see Aulus Gellius 11.7.7-9 (tr. J.C. Rolfe):
Another Einfaltspinsel [ninny] also, after some little reading of that kind, when his opponent requested that a case be postponed, said: "I pray you, praetor, help me! aid me! How long, pray, shall this bovinator delay me?" And he bawled it out three or four times in a loud voice: "He is a bovinator." A murmur began to arise from many of those who were present, as if in wonder at this monster of a word. But he, waving his arms and gesticulating, cried: "What, haven't you read Lucilius, who calls a shuffler bovinator?" And, in fact, this verse occurs in Lucilius' eleventh book: "If trifling shuffler (bovinator) with abusive tongue."

alter quoque a lectionibus id genus paucis apirocalus, cum adversarius causam differri postularet: "rogo, praetor," inquit "subveni, succurre! quonam usque nos bovinator hic demoratur?" atque id voce magna ter quaterve inclamavit: "bovinator est". commurmuratio fieri coepta est a plerisque, qui aderant, quasi monstrum verbi admirantibus. at ille iactans et gestiens: "non enim Lucilium" inquit "legistis, qui tergiversatorem "bovinatorem" dicit?" est autem in Lucili XI. versus hic: "si tricosus bovinatorque ore improbus duro."


Manticulator occurs in a fragment of Pacuvius preserved by Festus (p. 100, 5, tr. E.H. Warmington):
'Manticulae,' little purses. The use of these by the poor for stowing coins in has continued even in our age. Whence 'manticulari' is a term which is applied to those who groped for purses with intent to steal. Hence poets have used this verb for doing anything on the sly. Pacuvius --

He cunningly approaches men to pick
Their purses; for he knows what fate he has earned ....
A beggar and a pick-purse; thus has pressed
The yoke of fate upon me.

'manticularum' usus pauperibus in nummis recondendis etiam nostro saeculo fuit; unde manticularii dicebantur qui furandi gratia manticulas attrectabant. inde poetae pro dolose quid agendo usi sunt eo verbo. Pacuvius --

ad manticulanum astu aggreditur; scit enim quid promeruit
... mendicus manticulator; ita me fati oppressit iugum.

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