Friday, June 15, 2007
On Isaiah 33.13:
Monies are not heaped up for one man except with loss and damage to another man.Tractate on Psalm 8.24:
nisi cum alterius damno et malo, pecuniae alteri non coacervantur.
For whoever is rich, cannot be rich unless he has robbed a poor man.Letters 120.1:
quicumque enim dives est, nisi pauperem exspoliaverit, dives esse non potest.
For all wealth is derived from wickedness, and unless one man has lost, another cannot find.There is a curiously similar belief that the amount of evil in the world is constant. You can't destroy evil altogether. The best you can achieve is to move it somewhere else. See, for example, the prayers in Livy 5.18.12 that invoke destruction on Rome's arch enemy, the Etruscan city Veii:
omnes enim divitiae de iniquitate descendunt, et nisi alter perdiderit, alter non potest invenire.
Supplications were made in the temples, and with prayers the gods were asked to ward off destruction from Rome's houses, temples, and walls and to turn that panic against Veii.Similarly, in Appian, Civil Wars 5.10.96 (tr. Horace White), bad omens must fall on someone or something. The best that can be hoped for is that they don't fall on our side (emphasis added):
obsecrationes in templis factae, precibusque ab dis petitum ut exitium ab urbis tectis templisque ac moenibus Romanis arcerent Veiosque eum averterent terrorem.
When the fleet was ready, Octavius performed a lustration for it in the following manner. Altars were erected on the margin of the sea, and the multitude were ranged around them in ships, observing the most profound silence. The priests who performed the ceremony offered the sacrifice while standing at the water's edge, and carried the expiatory offerings in skiffs three times around the fleet, the general sailing with them, beseeching the gods to turn the bad omens against the victims instead of the fleet. Then, dividing the entrails, they cast a part of them into the sea, and put the remainder on the altars and burned them, while the multitude chanted in unison. In this way the Romans perform lustrations of the fleet.There is a lot of talk about eliminating world hunger. From an etymological point of view, when something is eliminated, it is not destroyed. Rather it is just moved elsewhere, thrust out of doors, from ex (out of, away from) plus limen (threshold). An inscription from Termessos (Tituli Asiae Minoris iii.103) commemorates a certain Honoratus "because he chased hunger into the sea" (δίωξε γὰρ εἰς / ἅλα λιμόν, lines 6-7).
Ἐπεὶ δ' ἕτοιμος ἦν ὁ στόλος, ἐκάθαιρεν αὐτὸν ὁ Καῖσαρ ὧδε. οἱ μὲν βωμοὶ ψαύουσι τῆς θαλάσσης, καὶ ἡ πληθὺς αὐτοὺς περιέστηκε κατὰ ναῦν μετὰ σιωπῆς βαθυτάτης: οἱ δὲ ἱερουργοὶ θύουσι μὲν ἑστῶτες ἐπὶ τῇ θαλάσσῃ καὶ τρὶς ἐπὶ σκαφῶν περιφέρουσιν ἀνὰ τὸν στόλον τὰ καθάρσια, συμπεριπλεόντων αὐτοῖς τῶν στρατηγῶν καὶ ἐπαρωμένων ἐς τάδε τὰ καθάρσια, ἀντὶ τοῦ στόλου, τὰ ἀπαίσια τραπῆναι. νείμαντες δὲ αὐτά, μέρος ἐς τὴν θάλασσαν ἀπορρίπτουσι καὶ μέρος ἐς τοὺς βωμοὺς ἐπιθέντες ἅπτουσι, καὶ ὁ λεὼς ἐπευφημεῖ. οὕτω μὲν Ῥωμαῖοι τὰ ναυτικὰ καθαίρουσιν.