Friday, February 23, 2007



As the amount of energy in a physical system is constant, so too (it was once thought by some) the amount of evil in the world does not change. Evil can be moved from one place to another but never totally destroyed. To the passages collected on the Gadarene swine, add Tibullus 2.1.17-18 (on the Ambarvalia, tr. J.P. Postgate):
Gods of our sires, we cleanse the farms, we cleanse the farming folk. Do ye outside our boundaries drive all evil things.

di patrii, purgamus agros, purgamus agrestes:
  vos mala de nostris pellite limitibus.

To the passages on children who resemble their fathers, add Theophrastus, Characters 19.1-2 (tr. R.C. Jebb):
Offensiveness is distressing neglect of person. The Offensive man is one who will go about with a scrofulous or leprous affection, or with his nails overgrown, and say that these are hereditary complaints with him; his father had them, and his grandfather, and it is not easy to be smuggled into his family.

Ἔστι δὲ ἡ δυσχέρεια ἀθεραπευσία σώματος λύπης παρασκευαστική, ὁ δὲ δυσχερὴς τοιοῦτός τις, οἷος λέπραν ἔχων καὶ ἀλφὸν καὶ τοὺς ὄνυχας μεγάλους περιπατεῖν καὶ φῆσαι ταῦτα εἶναι αὑτῷ συγγενικὰ ἀρρωστήματα· ἔχειν γὰρ αὐτὸν καὶ τὸν πατέρα καὶ τὸν πάππον, καὶ οὐκ εἶναι ῥᾴδιον αὐτῶν εἰς τὸ γένος ὑποβάλλεσθαι.
Herwerden conjectured μέλανας for μεγάλους (black nails, instead of overgrown ones).

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