Sunday, July 22, 2007
A prayer from Plato, Phaedrus 279 b-c (tr. Benjamin Jowett):
SOCRATES: Should we not offer up a prayer first of all to the local deities?
PHAEDRUS: By all means.
SOCRATES: Beloved Pan, and all ye other gods who haunt this place, give me beauty in the inward soul; and may the outward and inward man be at one. May I reckon the wise to be the wealthy, and may I have such a quantity of gold as a temperate man and he only can bear and carry. -- Anything more? The prayer, I think, is enough for me.
οὐκοῦν εὐξαμένῳ πρέπει τοῖσδε πορεύεσθαι;
ὦ φίλε Πάν τε καὶ ἄλλοι ὅσοι τῇδε θεοί, δοίητέ μοι καλῷ γενέσθαι τἄνδοθεν: ἔξωθεν δὲ ὅσα ἔχω, τοῖς ἐντὸς εἶναί μοι φίλια. πλούσιον δὲ νομίζοιμι τὸν σοφόν: τὸ δὲ χρυσοῦ πλῆθος εἴη μοι ὅσον μήτε φέρειν μήτε ἄγειν δύναιτο ἄλλος ἢ ὁ σώφρων.
ἔτ' ἄλλου του δεόμεθα, ὦ Φαῖδρε; ἐμοὶ μὲν γὰρ μετρίως ηὖκται.
I learned a couple of new words lately. The first is fipple, defined by The Oxford English Dictionary as "the plug at the mouth of a wind-instrument, by which its volume was contracted" and the subject of a learned essay by Patrick Kurp at Anecdotal Evidence.
The second is perry, defined by Webster's Dictionary (1913) as "A fermented liquor made from pears; pear cider."
Commenting on The Importance of Gold, E.J. Moncada notes that in Petronius, Satyricon 27,
a eunuch slave holds forth a silver jordan (matellam argenteam...OK, not auream) for the use of the wine sodden Trimalchio. Pliny (HN 33. 48-50), discussing the misuse of gold, relates the orator Messala's accusation that the triumvir Anthony used vessels of gold in satisfying all sorts of indecent necessities (aureis usum vasis in omnibus obscenis desideriis).... Long before More, Herodotus (III.23) relates scouting Ethiopians and learning that their prisoners were all bound with fetters of gold. Tertullian (On Apparel of Women, c.7) states that "there are some barbarians with whom, because gold is indigenous and plentiful, it is customary to keep (the criminals) in their convict establishments chained with gold." And, as a curious link, Strato, known as a dedicated pederast, finds in AG XI. 6, that the numerical value of the letters in πρωκτός (anus) and χρυσός (gold) is the same (1570). Ubi thesaurus ibi cor?He also recalls Dr. Johnson's definition of goldfinder as "one who finds gold. A term ludicrously applied to those who empty jakes." Some have found gold, or at least yen, in Japanese jakes recently, according to an Associated Press story:
Envelopes containing 10,000 yen -- about $82 -- and notes wishing the finder well have been discovered in municipal toilets across Japan, media reports said, baffling civil servants and triggering a nationwide hunt.
Local media have estimated that more than $16,400 worth of bills were found at men's rooms in city halls in at least 15 prefectures in recent weeks.
Each package of 10,000-yen bills, some wrapped in traditional Japanese washi paper, was accompanied by handwritten letters that read "Please make use of this money for your self-enrichment,'' and "One per person,'' according to reports.
Officials are baffled over the identity of the benefactor or any motives, the reports said. Packages turned over to police were to be kept for a time in case someone claimed them.
Also from the Far East, Bounty on flies sets central China city buzzing (China Daily, July 10, 2007):
The authorities in a central China city have set a bounty on dead flies in a bid to clean up their image and promote public hygiene.The Roman emperor Domitian also took a personal interest in the eradication of flies, according to Suetonius, Life of Domitian 3.1 (tr. J.C. Rolfe):
But critics have swatted down the move, questioning the benefits of paying 0.5 yuan (seven US cents) per insect turned in at the Xigong district office of Luoyang city, Henan Province.
Xigong District paid more than 1,000 yuan (US$125) for about 2,000 dead flies on July 1, the day it launched the bounty, with the aim to encourage cleanliness in residential areas.
"I and colleagues believe it's the best way to push residents to do more for their living environment," said Hu Guisheng, the office chief, adding it had proved effective with the district's 390,000 residents.
The payment scheme is the first of its kind in Luoyang, a medium-sized city of 1.55 million people, which is striving to earn the title of "state-level hygienic city".
The "State Hygienic City Standard", issued in 2005, has ten criteria for the award, including the prevention and treatment of disease-transmitting lifeforms, which requires hygienic cities to effectively control pests like rats, mosquitoes, flies and blackbeetles.
The Xigong District office has set up cash desks with signs urging everyone to "participate in the campaign against mosquitoes and flies" at the entrances to six residential compounds. The office staff have been busy in counting dead flies and giving out cash.
A passerby surnamed Ge was attracted by the red board at a compound. "I couldn't believe anyone was willing to buy such disgusting things," said Ge, who admitted his compound seemed to have fewer flies since the campaign was launched.
"I support the move," said Ge.
At the beginning of his reign he used to spend hours in seclusion every day, doing nothing but catch flies and stab them with a keenly-sharpened stylus. Consequently when someone once asked whether anyone was in there with Caesar, Vibius Crispus made the witty reply: "Not even a fly."
Inter initia principatus cotidie secretum sibi horarum sumere solebat nec quicquam amplius quam muscas captare ac stilo praeacuto configere, ut cuidam interroganti, essetne quis intus cum Caesare, non absurde responsum sit a Vibio Crispo, ne muscam quidem.