Sunday, September 30, 2007


Malefactors and Sinners

Hermann Usener, "Italische Volksjustiz," Rheinisches Museum 56 (1900) 1-28, described how those deprived of official justice might take the law into their own hands, by publicly insulting the malefactor in front of the door to his house, when they met him in the street, at a public gathering, or otherwise.

The best example of this custom is a passage from Plautus' comedy Pseudolus (357-369). Here is the background. The pimp Ballio promised to sell the courtesan Phoenicium to the young man Calidorus for 20 minae. But Calidorus couldn't come up with the cash, so Ballio made arrangements to sell Phoenicium instead to a soldier who made a down payment of 15 minae. When Calidorus discovered that Ballio had reneged on his agreement to sell, Calidorus and his slave Pseudolus subjected the pimp to public insult and humiliation (tr. Charles T. Murphy):
CAL. Pseudolus, stand over there on the other side and dress him down for me.
PS. Right, sir! I'll do it faster than I'd run to the magistrates to be set free.
CAL. Give him the works!
PS. I'll give you a tongue-lashing that will cut you into mincemeat. You shameless villain [impudice]!
BAL. That's right.
PS. Scoundrel [sceleste]!
BAL. Quite true.
PS. Whipping-boy [verbero]!
BAL. Why not?
CAL. Grave-robber [bustirape]!
BAL. Sure.
PS. Jailbird [furcifer]!
BAL. Excellent.
CAL. Double-crosser [sociofraude]!
BAL. That's me all over.
PS. Murderer [parricida]!
BAL. Do go on.
CAL. Church-robber [sacrilege]!
BAL. Granted.
PS. Perjurer [peiiure]!
BAL. Old stuff; try a new tune.
CAL. Gangster [legirupa]!
BAL. Very good.
PS. Seducer of the youth [permities adulescentum]!
BAL. Pretty bitter!
CAL. Robber [fur]!
BAL. Bravo!
PS. Runaway [fugitive]!
BAL. Bravissimo!
CAL. You confidence man [fraus populi]!
BAL. Certainly.
PS. Cheat [fraudulente]!
CAL. Dirty dog [impure]!
PS. Pimp [leno]!
CAL. Dung [caenum]!
BAL. What charming voices!
CAL. You beat your own father and mother [verberavisti patrem atque matrem]!
BAL. Yes, and murdered them rather than feed them. Nothing wrong with that, was there?
PS. It's like pouring water into a cracked pitcher; we're wasting our strength.

CAL. Pseudole, adsiste altrim secus atque onera hunc maledictis. PS. licet.
numquam ad praetorem aeque cursim curram, ut emittar manu.
CAL. ingere mala multa. PS. iam ego te differam dictis meis.
impudice. BAL. itast. CAL. sceleste. BAL. dicis vera. PS. verbero.
BAL. quippini? CAL. bustirape. BAL. certo. PS. furcifer. BAL. factum optume.
CAL. sociofraude. BAL. sunt mea istaec. PS. parricida. BAL. perge tu.
CAL. sacrilege. BAL. fateor. PS. periure. BAL. vetera vaticinamini.
CAL. legirupa. BAL. valide. PS. permities adulescentum. BAL. acerrume.
CAL. fur. BAL. babae! PS. fugitive. BAL. bombax! CAL. fraus populi. BAL. planissume.
PS. fraudulente. CAL. impure. PS. leno. CAL. caenum. BAL. cantores probos!
CAL. verberavisti patrem atque matrem. BAL. atque occidi quoque
potius quam cibum praehiberem: num peccavi quippiam?
PS. in pertusum ingerimus dicta dolium, operam ludimus.
Adolph Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, tr. Lionel R.M. Strachan (1927), p. 317, thought that this passage from Plautus' Pseudolus was similar to the vice-list in 1 Timothy 1.8-11:
[8] But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; [9] Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless [ἀνόμοις] and disobedient [ἀνυποτάκτοις], for the ungodly [ἀσεβέσι] and for sinners [ἁμαρτωλοῖς], for unholy [ἀνοσίοις] and profane [βεβήλοις], for murderers of fathers [πατρολῴαις] and murderers of mothers [μητρολῴαις], for manslayers [ἀνδροφόνοις], [10] For whoremongers [πόρνοις], for them that defile themselves with mankind [ἀρσενοκοίταις], for menstealers [ἀνδραποδισταῖς], for liars [ψεύσταις], for perjured persons [ἐπιόρκοις], and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; [11] According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

[8] Οἴδαμεν δὲ ὅτι καλὸς ὁ νόμος ἐάν τις αὐτῷ νομίμως χρῆται, [9] εἰδὼς τοῦτο, ὅτι δικαίῳ νόμος οὐ κεῖται, ἀνόμοις δὲ καὶ ἀνυποτάκτοις, ἀσεβέσι καὶ ἁμαρτωλοῖς, ἀνοσίοις καὶ βεβήλοις, πατρολῴαις καὶ μητρολῴαις, ἀνδροφόνοις, [10] πόρνοις, ἀρσενοκοίταις, ἀνδραποδισταῖς, ψεύσταις, ἐπιόρκοις, καὶ εἴ τι ἕτερον τῇ ὑγιαινούσῃ διδασκαλίᾳ ἀντίκειται, [11] κατὰ τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς δόξης τοῦ μακαρίου θεοῦ, ὃ ἐπιστεύθην ἐγώ.
Here are the parallels that Deissmann detected (I've changed all of the words to nominative singular):
ἄνομος = legirupa
ἀσεβής, ἀνόσιος = sacrilegus
ἁμαρτωλός = scelestus
βέβηλος = caenum, impurus
πατρολῴας, μητρολῴας = parricida, verberavisti patrem atque matrem
πόρνος = impudicus
ἀρσενοκοίτης = permities adulescentum
ψεύστης = fraudulentus
ἐπίορκος = periurus
I'm not convinced. Some of the supposed equivalents don't seem all that close to me. Deissmann himself said of ἀρσενοκοίτης and permities adulescentum that "this parallel is not certain." Ballio is permities adulescentum (the ruin of young men) because in his capacity as pimp he ruins young men financially and morally. This has nothing to do with the Greek ἀρσενοκοίτης (a man who sleeps with other men, i.e. a homosexual). Perhaps impurus would be a better match for ἀρσενοκοίτης (see e.g. Petronius, Satyricon 81). The association of βέβηλος (profane) with caenum and impurus seems far-fetched.

Deissmann pairs scelestus (wicked) with ἁμαρτωλός (sinner), but ἀνόσιος means both unholy and wicked, and I would therefore join scelestus and ἀνόσιος, especially since in the Vulgate of 2 Timothy 3.2, scelestus translates ἀνόσιος.

If I were trying to establish connections between Plautus' Pseudolus and 1 Timothy, I would also put leno (pimp) and ἀνδραποδιστής (slave-dealer) together, since pimps were engaged in what we might call the business of white slavery. Gingrich-Danker-Bauer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, suggest "procurer" as a possible translation of ἀνδραποδιστής.

Here is a short bibliography on vice-lists. I haven't read any of the works on it.

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