Friday, August 31, 2007


Drinking Hemlock

In the chapter on Visitors in Walden, Thoreau describes but does not name Alex Therien:
His only books were an almanac and an arithmetic, in which last he was considerably expert. The former was a sort of cyclopaedia to him, which he supposed to contain an abstract of human knowledge, as indeed it does to a considerable extent. I loved to sound him on the various reforms of the day, and he never failed to look at them in the most simple and practical light. He had never heard of such things before. Could he do without factories? I asked. He had worn the home-made Vermont gray, he said, and that was good. Could he dispense with tea and coffee? Did this country afford any beverage beside water? He had soaked hemlock leaves in water and drank it, and thought that was better than water in warm weather.
So great is my ignorance that I wondered why drinking hemlock didn't kill Therien the way it did Socrates. I didn't realize that the North American evergreen tree called hemlock (genus Tsuga) has nothing in common with the poisonous hemlock plant of Europe (species Conium maculatum).

Danielle S. Allen, The World of Prometheus: The Politics of Punishing in Democratic Athens (Princeton: Princeton, University Press, 2000), p. 233 (via Google Book Search), writes:
In contrast, discussions of execution by hemlock that occur outside of oratory appear primarily in the specialist literature of the philosophers and in texts where death by hemlock takes on an especial thematic prominence. It is Xenophon who describes the death of Theramenes by hemlock in 404 (Xen. Hell. 2.3.54-56), Xenophon and Plato who mention hemlock in describing the death of Socrates in 399 (Xen. Apol. 7; Plat. Phaed. 1187a7-8), and Plutarch who describes the executions of Phocion, Thudippus, Hegemon, Nicocles, and Pythocles in 318 (Plut. Phoc. 37-38).
The reference to Plato's Phaedo seems to be garbled. I think it should be 117a - 118a, the famous account of the execution of Socrates, which in H.N. Fowler's translation reads:
[117a] The boy went out and stayed a long time, then came back with the man who was to administer the poison, which he brought with him in a cup ready for use. And when Socrates saw him, he said: "Well, my good man, you know about these things; what must I do?" "Nothing," he replied, "except drink the poison and walk about [117b] till your legs feel heavy; then lie down, and the poison will take effect of itself."

At the same time he held out the cup to Socrates. He took it, and very gently, Echecrates, without trembling or changing color or expression, but looking up at the man with wide open eyes, as was his custom, said: "What do you say about pouring a libation to some deity from this cup? May I, or not?" "Socrates," said he, "we prepare only as much as we think is enough." "I understand," said Socrates; [117c] "but I may and must pray to the gods that my departure hence be a fortunate one; so I offer this prayer, and may it be granted." With these words he raised the cup to his lips and very cheerfully and quietly drained it.

Up to that time most of us had been able to restrain our tears fairly well, but when we watched him drinking and saw that he had drunk the poison, we could do so no longer, but in spite of myself my tears rolled down in floods, so that I wrapped my face in my cloak and wept for myself; for it was not for him that I wept, [117d] but for my own misfortune in being deprived of such a friend. Crito had got up and gone away even before I did, because he could not restrain his tears. But Apollodorus, who had been weeping all the time before, then wailed aloud in his grief and made us all break down, except Socrates himself. But he said, "What conduct is this, you strange men! I sent the women away chiefly for this very reason, that they might not behave in this absurd way; for I have heard that [117e] it is best to die in silence. Keep quiet and be brave."

Then we were ashamed and controlled our tears. He walked about and, when he said his legs were heavy, lay down on his back, for such was the advice of the attendant. The man who had administered the poison laid his hands on him and after a while examined his feet and legs, then pinched his foot hard and asked if he felt it. He said "No"; then after that, [118a] his thighs; and passing upwards in this way he showed us that he was growing cold and rigid. And again he touched him and said that when it reached his heart, he would be gone. The chill had now reached the region about the groin, and uncovering his face, which had been covered, he said—and these were his last words—"Crito, we owe a cock to Aesculapius. Pay it and do not neglect it." "That," said Crito, "shall be done; but see if you have anything else to say." To this question he made no reply, but after a little while he moved; the attendant uncovered him; his eyes were fixed. And Crito when he saw it, closed his mouth and eyes.
Note that the word hemlock (κώνειον) does not actually occur in this passage from the Phaedo. Unless I'm mistaken, it occurs nowhere in the Phaedo. I also don't find hemlock mentioned in Xenophon's Apology 7, or anywhere else in that work. Either Allen is wrong in her assertion that "Xenophon and Plato ... mention hemlock in describing the death of Socrates in 399," or I'm missing something.

Later authors (e.g. Lucian, Dialogues of the Dead 4.1) of course often explicitly refer to hemlock in connection with Socrates' death, but I don't know who was the first to do so.

Mention of hemlock as a means of execution does occur in the orators:I haven't seen Robert J. Bonner, "The use of hemlock for capital punishment" in Athenian Studies (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1940; rpt. New York: Arno Press, 1973), pp. 299-302.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Its Tree

Starting in September, a partnership of the Welsh Assembly Government, the Forestry Commission Wales, and the Woodland Trust will plant a tree for every child born in Wales.

This project reminds me of a tradition recorded by Edwin Way Teale in A Walk Through the Year (January 2):
Gone also from this region is that tree of emotional associations known to earlier generations as "Its Tree." It was once the custom on farms in the area to plant a sapling in the year in which a baby was born. It was usually some large-growing, long-lived species that would stand out in the landscape such as an elm or sugar maple.

Now this charming custom of an older time has disappeared. I know of only one person, Helen Mathews, a friend of ours now past ninety, who can recall an "Its Tree" planted for her when she was young. Not far from it was another, far older tree that had been planted for her father.

Monday, August 27, 2007



The obsolete English word hame means "covering, integument." J.R.R. Tolkien used Greyhame as a surname for the wizard Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, and in the Old English Fight at Finnesburg, graeghama (greycoat) is a kenning for "wolf."

In Tolkien's Silmarillion, the human Beren donned a wolf-hame, or coat made of wolf skins. In Old Norse, the expression úlfa-hamir (wolf-coats) occurs.

All of the above comes from Peter Gilliver et al., The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), pp. 140-141.

In Homer, Iliad 10.334 (cf. 10.459) Dolon puts on the skin of a grey wolf (ῥινὸν πολιοῖο λύκοιο) before going on a scouting expedition at night. Euripides, Rhesus 201-215 (a dialogue between Dolon and the chorus leader, tr. E.P. Coleridge), describes the donning of the wolf-hame in detail:
DOL. I will set forth; but going within my house I will clothe myself in fitting attire, and then I will hasten to the Argive fleet.

CHO. Why, what dress in place of this will you assume?

DOL. One that fits my task and furtive steps.

CHO. One should ever learn wisdom from the wise; tell me, what will be your equipment?

DOL. I will fasten a wolf-skin about my back, and over my head put the brute's gaping jaws; then fitting its fore-feet to my hands and its hind-feet to my legs, I will go on all fours in imitation of a wolf's gait to puzzle the enemy, when I approach their trenches and barriers round the ships. But whenever I come to a deserted spot, I will walk on two feet; such is the ruse I have decided on.
There are also wolf skin helmets in Vergil, Aeneid 7.689-690 and 11.680-681.


But Not For Me

Thomas Hardy, Let Me Enjoy:
Let me enjoy the earth no less
Because the all-enacting Might
That fashioned forth its loveliness
Had other aims than my delight.

About my path there flits a Fair,
Who throws me not a word or sign;
I'll charm me with her ignoring air,
And laud the lips not meant for mine.

From manuscripts of moving song
Inspired by scenes and dreams unknown
I'll pour out raptures that belong
To others, as they were my own.

And some day hence, towards Paradise
And all its blest—if such should be—
I will lift glad, afar-off eyes
Though it contain no place for me.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Two Passages from Plutarch

Plutarch, On Tranquillity of Mind 10 (Moralia 470 b, tr. W.C. Helmbold), has a good example of the rhetorical device known as the ladder:
As, for example, those in prison account fortunate those who have been set free; and they, men born free; and free men, citizens; and citizens, in their turn, the rich; and the rich, satraps; and satraps, kings; and kings, the gods, scarcely stopping short of desiring the power to produce thunder and lightning.
I can't find the Greek on the Web, and I'm too lazy to transcribe it. For other ancient examples of this rhetorical device, see:Plutarch, On Tranquillity of Mind 10 (Moralia 470 f, tr. W.C. Helmbold), also has an example of the Attic idiom "in which the names of the various commodities were used for the places in which they were sold":
When Socrates heard one of his friends remark how expensive the city was, saying "Chian wine costs a mina, a purple robe three minae, a half-pint of honey five drachmas," he took him by the hand and led him to the meal-market [τοῖς ἀλφίτοις = literally "the barley-groats"], "Half a peck for an obol! the city is cheap"; then to the olive markets [ταῖς ἐλαίαις = "the olives"], "A quart for two coppers!"; then to the clothes-market [ταῖς ἐξωμίσι = "the sleeveless tunics"], "A sleeveless vest for ten drachmas! the city is cheap."
Helmbold ad loc. cites Teles, pp. 12-13 ed. Hense (unavailable to me), and Diogenes Laertius 6.35 (which doesn't have the Attic idiom). Plutarch was not an Athenian, but Socrates was, and so the anecdote has an Attic Sitz im Leben in which the idiom is appropriate.

Saturday, August 25, 2007



Charlie Chaplin said, "A day without laughter is a day wasted," but there are those who think even a giggle is sinful.

Warren Jeffs, President and Prophet, Seer and Revelator of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), is in custody awaiting trial for a variety of criminal offenses. A few years ago the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper ran a series of articles on the persistence of polygamy within the FLDS, and mentioned that Jeffs tried to ban laughter among his followers:
People have been warned that laughter causes the spirit of God to leak from their bodies, amplifying an obscure tenet in Joseph Smith's Doctrine and Covenants.

"We tried not to laugh," Draper said. "We wondered 'How do we do this? Is there anyone who is going to make it?'"
There are three passages in Smith's Doctrines and Covenants which discourage laughter:Someone who does not laugh is an agelast, from the ancient Greek word ἀγέλαστος. Aelian, Varia Historia 8.13 (tr. N.G. Wilson), mentions some agelasts of ancient times, all of them philosophers:
They say that Anaxagoras of Clazomenae was never seen to laugh or to smile at all. Aristoxenus [fr. 7 W.] too was a determined opponent of laughter, while Heraclitus wept at the whole of human life.

Ἀναξαγόραν τὸν Κλαζομένιόν φασι μὴ γελῶντά ποτε ὀφθῆναι μηδὲ μειδιῶντα τὴν ἀρχήν. λέγουσι δὲ καὶ Ἀριστόξενον τῷ γέλωτι ἀνὰ κράτος πολέμιον γενέσθαι· Ἡράκλειτόν τε, ὅτι πάντα τὰ ἐν τῷ βίῳ ἔκλαεν.
To this list could be added Pythagoras, who never laughed or cried according to Porphyry, Life of Pythagoras 35, cited by Wilson on Varia Historia 3.35, where Aelian states:
There is a story circulating—it again is Athenian—which says that formerly in the Academy laughter was not allowed. They tried to keep the place untouched by arrogance and idleness.

Λόγος δέ τις διαρῥεῖ καὶ οὗτος Ἀττικός, ὃς λέγει πρότερον ἐν Ἀκαδημίᾳ μηδὲ γελάσαι ἐξουσίαν εἶναι· ὕβρει γὰρ καὶ ῥᾳθυμίᾳ ἐπειρῶντο τὸ χωρίον ἄβατον φυλάττειν.
Wilson ad loc. also cites N. Adkin, "The Fathers on Laughter," Orpheus 6 (1985) 149-152, which I have not seen.

Related post: Did Christ Ever Laugh?

Friday, August 24, 2007


Auto-Antonym: Wan

J.R.R. Tolkien was an assistant on the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) for a time. One of the words he worked on was wan. I don't have access to the OED, but I'm reading Peter Gilliver et al., The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), and on p. 25 (Figure 9) there is a reproduction of part of the OED entry for the adjective wan.

An auto-antonym is a word that can mean the opposite of itself, and wan qualifies as an auto-antonym. Nowadays it mostly means "pale" or "sallow," but the first definition in the OED is "Lacking light, or lustre; dark-hued, dusky, gloomy, dark." It comes from Old English wann = "dark, gloomy, black." Because "pale" and "dark" are opposites, wan is an auto-antonym.

Related posts:

Thursday, August 23, 2007


The Four Best Things

Anonymous drinking song (D.L. Page, Lyrica Graeca Selecta no. 447, tr. C.M. Bowra):
For a man health is the first and best possession,
Second best to be born with shapely beauty,
And the third is wealth honestly won,
Fourth are the days of youth spent in delight with friends.

ὑγιαίνειν μὲν ἄριστον ἀνδρὶ θνητῷ,
δεύτερον δὲ φυὴν ἀγαθὸν γενέσθαι,
τὸ τρίτον δὲ πλουτεῖν ἀδόλως,
καὶ τὸ τέταρτον ἡβᾶν μετὰ τῶν φίλων.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Reading Books

Alan Fram, One in Four Read No Books Last Year (Associated Press):
One in four adults say they read no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday....The survey reveals a nation whose book readers, on the whole, can hardly be called ravenous. The typical person claimed to have read four books in the last year — half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who hadn't read any, the usual number read was seven.

"I just get sleepy when I read," said Richard Bustos of Dallas, a habit with which millions of Americans can doubtless identify. Bustos, a 34-year-old project manager for a telecommunications company, said he had not read any books in the last year and would rather spend time in his backyard pool.
Charles Dickens, Bleak House, chap. XXI:
"Don't you read, or get read to?"

The old man shakes his head with sharp sly triumph. "No, no. We have never been readers in our family. It don't pay. Stuff. Idleness. Folly. No, no!"
Charles Dickens, Martin Chuzzlewit, chap. XVI:
"We are a busy people, sir," said one of the captains, who was from the West, "and have no time for reading mere notions. We don't mind 'em if they come to us in newspapers along with almighty strong stuff of another sort, but darn your books."

Here the general, who appeared to grow quite faint at the bare thought of reading anything which was neither mercantile nor political, and was not in a newspaper, inquired "if any gentleman would drink some?"


Love Divine

In Greek mythology there are many examples of sexual unions between male gods and mortal women. Homer, Iliad 6.198-199, mentions one (tr. Richmond Lattimore):
Laodameia lay in love beside Zeus of the counsels
and bore him godlike Sarpedon of the brazen helmet.
Ambrose Bierce takes an irreverent look at such unions in his poem Not Guilty:
"I saw your charms in another's arms,"
    Said a Grecian swain with his blood a-boil;
"And he kissed you fair as he held you there,
    A willing bird in a serpent's coil!"

The maid looked up from the cinctured cup
    Wherein she was crushing the berries red,
Pain and surprise in her honest eyes—
    "It was only one o' those gods," she said.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Pale Skin

In Menander's Dyskolos, a young townsman named Sostratos falls in love with farmer Knemon's daughter. To win her hand, Sostratos volunteers to till the soil on Knemon's farm. "The sun was burning me" (ὁ δ' ἥλιος κατέκα'), says Sostratos afterwards (line 535). Later in the play (line 754) Knemon looks at Sostratos and says, "He has been burned. Is he a farmer?" (ἐπικέκαυται μέν. γεωργός ἐστι;).

In Plautus' Vidularia, there is also a scene in which a young townsman proposes to work on a farm. The slave Dinia doubts the young man Nicodemus' fitness for such labor (lines 31-36):
DI. Life in the country is hard work, young man.
NI. Poverty in the city is much harder, by Pollux.
DI. Your hands have been used to throwing dice.
NI. But now I realize they must get a workout with baskets.
DI. Your body is pale from citified softness and shade.
NI. The sun is the painter for that: it will darken my body.

DI. laboriosa, adulescens, vita est rustica.
NI. urbana egestas edepol aliquanto magis.
DI. talis iactandis tuae sunt consuetae manus.
NI. at qualis exercendas nunc intellego.
DI. mollitia urbana atque umbra corpus candidumst.
NI. sol est ad eam rem pictor: atrum fecerit.
My translation doesn't reproduce the Latin rhyming wordplay on talis (dice) and qualis (baskets, probably for harvesting).

Plautus' Vidularia is adapted from a Greek original, probably Diphilus' Schedia. Lines 35-36 reflect a view common in Greek literature. It was normal for an ancient Greek woman to have a pale complexion, but for a man to be sun-burned. Women were supposed to stay inside much of the time, men outside. Women were supposed to wear clothes, whereas men were practically naked for some outdoor activities (athletics, farming, etc.). A pale-skinned man was therefore considered effeminate and a sissy.

We see this view in two entries from the Suda. The first is O 801 Adler (tr. David Whitehead):
Pale men are no use [other] than for shoemaking. [A proverb] applied to those who bring no profit. Inasmuch as the dark [are] more profitable than the pale.

Οὐδὲν λευκῶν ἀνδρῶν ὄφελος ἢ σκυτοτομεῖν: ἐπὶ τῶν εἰς μηδὲν λυσιτελούντων. παρ' ὅσον οἱ μέλανες τῶν λευκῶν λυσιτελέστεροι.
Erasmus, Adagia III vi 28 (Nulla candidorum virorum utilitas = Pale men are of no use) quotes the Greek proverb from Suda O 801.

The second passage from the Suda is Σ 727 Adler (tr. David Whitehead):
Shoemaker, shoe-cutter: Cobbler, thong-cutter. Aristophanes [writes]: "And of course we likened them all to shoemakers. But the assembly was marvelously white-filled to look at." He is speaking about women, because they were pale. Since shoemakers sit in the shade as they work and have been kept in the shade, he has said this.

Σκυτοτόμος: σκυτεύς, λωροτόμος. Ἀριστοφάνης: καὶ δῆτα πάντας σκυτοτόμοις εἰκάζομεν. ἀλλ' ὑπερφυῶς ὡς λευκοπληθὴς ἦν ἰδεῖν ἡ ἐκκλησία. περὶ τῶν γυναικῶν λέγει, ὅτι ἦσαν λευκαί. ἐπειδὴ οἱ σκυτοτόμοι ἐν σκιᾷ καθεζόμενοι ἐργάζονται καὶ εἰσὶν ἐσκιατραφημένοι, τοῦτο εἴρηκε.
The quotation from Aristophanes comes from his Ecclesiazusae 385-387.

Both passages from the Suda also reflect Greek disdain for such banausic occupations as shoemaking.

Related posts with many other parallels from Greek literature:

Monday, August 20, 2007


Celestial Music

Homeric Hymn to Apollo 189-193 (tr. Hugh G. Evelyn-White):
All the Muses together, voice sweetly answering voice, hymn the unending gifts the gods enjoy and the sufferings of men, all that they endure at the hands of the deathless gods, and how they live witless and helpless and cannot find healing for death or defence against old age.

Μοῦσαι μέν θ' ἅμα πᾶσαι ἀμειβόμεναι ὀπὶ καλῇ
ὑμνεῦσίν ῥα θεῶν δῶρ' ἄμβροτα ἠδ' ἀνθρώπων
τλημοσύνας, ὅσ' ἔχοντες ὑπ' ἀθανάτοισι θεοῖσι
ζώουσ' ἀφραδέες καὶ ἀμήχανοι, οὐδὲ δύνανται
εὑρέμεναι θανάτοιό τ' ἄκος καὶ γήραος ἄλκαρ.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Empyroscopy and Empyromancy

Google yields no hits for empyroscopy. Google Book Search yields one — Jon D. Mikalson, Honor Thy Gods: Popular Religion in Greek Tragedy (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991), p. 94, who defined it as "the study of the movements of the flames as they consumed offerings on the altar" for purposes of divination. Maurice Platnauer, in his commentary on Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris 16, used the Greek word ἐμπυροσκοπία. No such word appears in Liddell & Scott's Greek lexicon, which does however have an entry for ἐμπυροσκόπος, "one who divines by ἔμπυρα." ἔμπυρα (sc. ἱερά) are burnt sacrifices, as opposed to ἄπυρα, unburnt sacrifices.

By contrast, there are quite a few Google hits for empyromancy. Nicolaus Wecklein, in his commentary on Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 496 ff., used the Greek word ἐμπυρομαντεία. This also does not appear in Liddell & Scott, although without the prefix ἔμ- the rare words πυρομαντεία (divination from fire) and πυρόμαντις (fire-diviner) do appear. The difference between empyromancy and pyromancy seems to be that the former requires a fire burning a sacrificial victim, whereas just a simple fire suffices for the latter.

There are many other English words derived from the Greek roots πῦρ (pyr = fire), σκοπιά (skopia = lookout, watch), and μαντεία (manteia = divination, prophecy).

Related posts:

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Names of Gods

Mohammed Abdelrahman & Nicolien den Boer, Let's call God Allah:
The Bishop of Breda, Tiny Muskens, wants people to start calling God Allah. He says the Netherlands should look to Indonesia, where the Christian churches already pray to Allah. It is also common in the Arab world: Christian and Muslim Arabs use the words God and Allah interchangeably.


Muskens doesn't expect his idea to be greeted with much enthusiasm. The 71-year-old bishop, who will soon be retiring due to ill health, says God doesn't mind what he is called. God is above such "discussion and bickering". Human beings invented this discussion themselves, he believes, in order to argue about it.
The notion that "God doesn't mind what he is called" would have puzzled the ancient Greeks and Romans. Plato, Cratylus 400 d-e (tr. H.N. Fowler), thought that the gods preferred some appellations over others:
But there is a second kind of correctness, that we call them, as is customary in prayers, by whatever names and patronymics are pleasing to them, since we know no other.
Because the ancients could not be sure exactly what "names and patronymics are pleasing to" the gods, they hedged their bets and used a variety of names simultaneously, in hopes that one, at least would be pleasing.

Eduard Norden, Agnostos Theos. Untersuchungen zur Formengeschichte religiöser Rede, 6th ed. (Stuttgart: B. G. Teubner, 1974), pp. 144-147, gives many examples of this practice, of which I choose one (Horace, Carmen Saeculare 13-16, tr. Christopher Smart):
O Ilithyia, of lenient power to produce the timely birth, protect the matrons [in labor]; whether you choose the title of Lucina, or Genitalis.

Rite maturos aperire partus
lenis, Ilithyia, tuere matres,
sive tu Lucina probas vocari
    seu Genitalis.
In John Conington's verse translation this is:
Blest Ilithyia! be thou near
    In travail to each Roman dame!
Lucina, Genitalis, hear,
    Whate'er thy name!
Simon Pulleyn, Prayer in Greek Religion (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), chapter 6 (Magic and Names), also discusses this topic, but I don't have full access to this book. On p. 96, according to Google Book Search, Pulleyn quotes R.M. Ogilvie as saying "Gods, like dogs, will answer only to their names."

A tip of the hat to BigHominid for drawing my attention to Bishop Tiny's remarks. If God doesn't mind what He is called, maybe Tiny won't mind if I call him by his first name.

Friday, August 17, 2007


A Spanish Song

Eric Sams, The Songs of Hugo Wolf (1961; rpt. London: Faber and Faber, 1992), p.288, translates lyrics set to music by Wolf in his Spanisches Liederbuch (Spanish Songbook):
Deep in my heart I bear grief, outwardly I must be serene. I conceal my dear deep grief within, well out of sight of the world, and it is felt by the soul alone, for the body does not deserve it. As the spark, free and bright, hides itself within flint, so I bear deep grief within.
Wolf's song is a setting of these verses by Emanuel von Geibel:
Tief im Herzen trag' ich Pein,
muß nach außen stille sein.
Den geliebten Schmerz verhehle
tief ich vor der Welt Gesicht;
und es fühlt ihn nur die Seele,
denn der Leib verdient ihn nicht.
Wie der Funke frei und licht
sich verbirgt im Kieselstein,
trag' ich innen tief die Pein.
Geibel's verses are a translation of a Spanish poem by the Portuguese poet Luis de Camoens:
De dentro tengo mi mal:
que de fora no hay señal.
Mi nueva y dulce querella
es invisible a la gente;
el alma sola la siente,
que el cuerpo no es dino della.
Como la viva centella
se encubre en el pedernal,
de dentro tengo mi mal.

Thursday, August 16, 2007



P.G. Wilson, German Grammar (1950; rpt. Hodder & Stoughton Ltd., 1980), p. 5:
"Circumstance" is Latin for "around-standing"; Umstand says it in German. "Accident" means a "to-falling" in Latin; Zufall translates it into German. "Dialogue" is Greek for "two-speech"; Zwiegespräch keeps to German.
The dia in dialogue does not mean "two". Greek διά (dia) means "through", and Greek δύο (duo) means "two". In Greek, δίς (dis = twice, doubly) is more common in compounds than δύο, and so in ancient Greek we see διλογία (dilogia = "twice-speech", i.e. repetition) but not δυολογία (duologia = "two-speech"). A dialogue can have more than two interlocutors.

On the other hand, the zwie in Zwiegespräch apparently is related to zwei (two), and dictionaries define Zwiegespräch as a "Gespräch zwischen zwei Personen" (conversation between two persons).

My seventh grade English teacher told us that the dia in dialogue meant "two". Even then I knew this was a mistake, and I told her so. She gave me the standard "Matilda" response: "I'm smart, you're dumb; I'm big, you're little; I'm right, you're wrong." That was the moment when my faith in teachers and grownups as repositories of knowledge and wisdom began to fade.

According to Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage, even some experts have made this same mistake:
Kilpatrick 1984 says, "At some point in recent semantic history, a curious notion took root that dialogue should be restricted to describe a conversation between two persons only." This is apparently a delicate allusion to, among others, Edwin Newman, whose discussion of Gerald Ford's use of dialogue (in Esquire, December 1975) is based on that notion, and Shaw 1975, 1987, where dialogue is said to be from the Greek for "two words." Not only is Shaw in thrall to the etymological fallacy, but the Greek etymon does not contain the notion "two" at all. Anyone who reads the etymology of the word in a good dictionary will see that Greek dia means "through, across, apart" and several other things, but never "two."
On a related note, I hate the use of dialogue as a verb, as in "I dialogued with my seventh grade English teacher about the etymology of the word dialogue." Yes, I know that Shakespeare said "Dost dialogue with thy shadow?" (Timon of Athens 2.2.67). Shakespeare also said "All debts are cleared between you and I" (Merchant of Venice 3.2.326-327). Both expressions -- "to dialogue with" and "between you and I" -- grate on my ear.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Fallen Heroes

Kenneth Rexroth, On a Military Graveyard:
Stranger, when you come to Washington
Tell them that we lie here
Obedient to their orders.

      after Simonides
Rexroth modified slightly the epigram by Simonides recorded by Herodotus 7.228:
ὦ ξεῖν', ἀγγέλλειν Λακεδαιμονίοις ὅτι τῇδε
  κείμεθα τοῖς κείνων ῥήμασι πειθόμενοι.
Rexroth also translated the original in his Poems from the Greek Anthology:
Stranger, when you come to
Lakedaimon, tell them we lie
Here, obedient to their will.
Here is a more literal translation:
O stranger, announce to the Lacedaemonians that here
we lie, obedient to their words.
Liddell & Scott, s.v. ῥήμα, suggest that the word here means ῥήτρα, referring to the laws of Lycurgus.

"We" are the Spartans who fell at Thermopylae in 480 B.C., defending Greece against invasion by the Persians.


The Bloom of the Present Moment

Henry David Thoreau, Walden, chapter on Sounds:
There were times when I could not afford to sacrifice the bloom of the present moment to any work, whether of the head or hands. I love a broad margin to my life. Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sang around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller's wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time. I grew in those seasons like corn in the night, and they were far better than any work of the hands would have been. They were not time subtracted from my life, but so much over and above my usual allowance.


Rolling in Dough

Suetonius, Life of Caligula 42 (tr. J.C. Rolfe):
Finally, seized with a mania for feeling the touch of money, he would often pour out huge piles of goldpieces in some open place, walk over them barefooted, and wallow in them for a long time with his whole body.

novissime contrectandae pecuniae cupidine incensus, saepe super immensos aureorum acervos patentissimo diffusos loco et nudis pedibus spatiatus et toto corpore aliquamdiu volutatus est.

Monday, August 13, 2007



Thomas Hardy, Waiting Both:
A star looks down at me
And says: "Here I and you
Stand, each in our degree:
What do you mean to do,—
        Mean to do?"

I say: "For all I know,
Wait, and let Time go by,
Till my change come."—"Just so,"
The star says: "So mean I:—
        So mean I."



Aeneas to Dido, after she has asked him to describe the fall of Troy (Vergil, Aeneid 2.3):
O queen, you order me to experience again an unspeakable grief.

Infandum, regina, iubes renovare dolorem.
The commentaries on my bookshelf (T.E. Page's school edition, R.G. Austin's commentary on book 2) don't mention two parallels in Euripides' Helen (tr. E.P. Coleridge). The first is at line 143:
But enough of such talk! I do not need to grieve twice.

ἅλις δὲ μύθων: οὐ διπλᾶ χρῄζω στένειν.
The second is at lines 765-771:
Truly you have asked a great deal all at once. Why should I tell you about our losses in the Aegean, and Nauplios' beacons on Euboia, and my visits to Crete and the cities of Libya, and the mountain-peaks of Perseus? For I would not satisfy you with the tale, and by telling you these evils I would suffer still, as I did when I experienced them; and so my grief would be doubled.

ἦ πόλλ' ἀνήρου μ' ἑνὶ λόγῳ μιᾷ θ' ὁδῷ.
τί σοι λέγοιμ' ἂν τὰς ἐν Αἰγαίῳ φθορὰς
τὰ Ναυπλίου τ' Εὐβοικὰ πυρπολήματα
Κρήτην τε Λιβύης θ' ἃς ἐπεστράφην πόλεις,
σκοπιάς τε Περσέως; οὐ γὰρ ἐμπλήσαιμί σ'
μύθων, λέγων τ' ἄν σοι κάκ' ἀλγοίην ἔτι,
πάσχων τ' ἔκαμνον: δὶς δὲ λυπηθεῖμεν ἄν.
Also from Euripides here are two examples of asyndetic, privative adjectives not yet in my collection:

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Ancient History

Democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel, discussing the United States military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexuality, said:
If you have any knowledge of history, ancient history, in Sparta they encouraged homosexuality because they fight for the people they love. And if it's your partner and you love them, you're prepared to die for them, and that's the same ethic you see in the military today. It's not the country. It's my partner. Go see the movies on war, and it's always the person next to me who is in my foxhole with me. Well, I got to tell you, extend that a little further and you'll see why the Spartans trained their people to be homosexuals, because they're better fighters.
I don't know if Gravel got his knowledge of ancient history from movies, or books, or both. Victor Davis Hanson thinks that Gravel is perhaps confusing the Spartans of the movie 300 with the 300 of the Theban Sacred Band, although 300 was not released in the United States until March 2007, and Gravel apparently made his remarks in February 2007.

K.J. Dover, Greek Homosexuality (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989), p. 192, cites two passages from Xenophon on this topic. Note that the Lacedaemonians are the Spartans.

Xenophon, Symposium 8.32-35 (tr. O.J. Todd):
[32] Yet Pausanias, the lover of the poet Agathon, has said in his defence of those who wallow in lasciviousness that the most valiant army, even, would be one recruited of lovers and their favourites!

[33] For these, he said, would in his opinion be most likely to be prevented by shame from deserting one another,--a strange assertion, indeed, that persons acquiring an habitual indifference to censure and to abandoned conduct toward one another will be most likely to be deterred by shame from any infamous act.

[34] But he went further and adduced as evidence in support of his position both the Thebans and the Eleans, alleging that this was their policy; he stated, in fine, that though sharing common beds they nevertheless assigned to their favourites places alongside themselves in the battle-line. But this is a false analogy; for such practices, though normal among them, with us are banned by the severest reprobation. My own view is that those who assign these posts in battle suggest thereby that they are suspicious that the objects of their love, if left by themselves, will not perform the duties of brave men.

[35] In contrast to this, the Lacedaemonians, who hold that if a person so much as feels a carnal concupiscence he will never come to any good end, cause the objects of their love to be so consummately brave that even when arrayed with foreigners and even when not stationed in the same line with their lovers they just as surely feel ashamed to desert their comrades. For the goddess they worship is not Impudence but Modesty.
Xenophon, Hellenica 4.8.38-39 (tr. Carleton L. Brownson):
[38] Then Anaxibius, judging that there was no hope of safety, inasmuch as he saw that his army extended over a long and narrow way, and thought that those who had gone on ahead would clearly be unable to come to his assistance up the hill, and since he also perceived that all were in a state of terror when they saw the ambush, said to those who were with him: “Gentlemen, it is honourable for me to die here, but do you hurry to safety before coming to close engagement with the enemy.”

[39] Thus he spoke, and taking his shield from his shieldbearer, fell fighting on that spot. His favourite youth, however, remained by his side, and likewise from among the Lacedaemonians about twelve of the governors, who had come from their cities and joined him, fought and fell with him.
Although "his favourite youth" (τὰ παιδικὰ) is plural in form, it is singular in meaning. See Liddell & Scott, s.v. παιδικός, III.2.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Solitary Laughter

St. Augustine, Confessions 2.9.17 (tr. William Watts, rev. W.H.D. Rouse):
Is it for that no man doth so readily laugh alone? Ordinarily indeed nobody does; but yet a fit of laughter sometimes comes upon men by themselves and singly, when nobody else is with them, if anything worthy to be laughed at comes either in their eye or fancy.

an quia etiam nemo facile solus ridet? nemo quidem facile, sed tamen etiam solos et singulos homines, cum alius nemo praesens est, vincit risus aliquando, si aliquid nimie ridiculum vel sensibus occurrit vel animo.
James O'Donnell in his commentary on St. Augustine's Confessions (at least in the web version) has no note on solitary laughter.

Cf. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers 1.9.107-108 (on Myson, tr. R.D. Hicks):
Aristoxenus in his Historical Gleanings says he was not unlike Timon and Apemantus, for he was a misanthrope. At any rate he was seen in Lacedaemon laughing to himself in a lonely spot; and when some one suddenly appeared and asked him why he laughed when no one was near, he replied, "That is just the reason."

Ἀριστόξενος δέ φησιν ἐν τοῖς σποράδην (Wehrli ii, frag. 130) οὐ πόρρω Τίμωνος αὐτὸν καὶ Ἀπημάντου γεγονέναι· μισανθρωπεῖν γάρ. ὀφθῆναι γοῦν ἐν Λακεδαίμονι μόνον ἐπ' ἐρημίας γελῶντα· ἄφνω δέ τινος ἐπιστάντος καὶ πυθομένου διὰ τί μηδενὸς παρόντος γελᾷ, φάναι, "δι' αὐτὸ τοῦτο."
Arthur Schopenhauer, Parerga und Paralipomena, ch. XXVI (Psychologische Bemerkungen, tr. T. Bailey Saunders), refers to this anecdote about Myson:
I am not surprised that some people are bored when they find themselves alone; for they cannot laugh if they are quite by themselves. The very idea of it seems folly to them.

Are we, then, to look upon laughter as merely a signal for others—a mere sign, like a word? What makes it impossible for people to laugh when they are alone is nothing but want of imagination, dullness of mind generally—ἀναισθησία καὶ βραδυτὴς ψυχῆς, as Theophrastus has it. The lower animals never laugh, either alone or in company. Myson, the misanthropist, was once surprised by one of these people as he was laughing to himself. Why do you laugh? he asked; there is no one with you. That is just why I am laughing, said Myson.


From Dan to Beersheba

Dear Mike:

Apropos ‘Here’ and prior posting 'Travel' commenting on Maverick Philosopher's reading of Emerson's Self-Reliance, here's my two cents’ worth. The paragraph beginning "Traveling is a fool's paradise" ends with the traveller's sadness, or sad self, personified:
‘Travelling is a fool's paradise. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places. At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty, and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from. I seek the Vatican, and the palaces. I affect to be intoxicated with sights and suggestions, but I am not intoxicated. My giant goes with me wherever I go’.
I wonder if a possible source or antecedent for this idea of angst as incubus, which travel is powerless to dispel, might not be Horace Sat. II, 7, 115:
                                                  'Adde, quod idem
non horam tecum esse potes, non otia recte
ponere teque ipsum vitas fugitivus et erro,
iam vino quaerens, iam somno fallere curam,
frustra: nam comes atra premit sequiturque fugacem.'

                                                  Add that you
Can’t bear an hour in your own company, or employ
Your leisure usefully, that you evade yourself
Like a fugitive, a vagabond, trying to cheat Care
With sleep or wine: vainly: that dark companion dogs
Your flight.’
Or Odes II, 1, 40 ' Et post equitem sedet atra Cura' [Behind the parting horseman squats black care].

A more immediate inspiration might have been this passage from Montaigne's 'On Solitude' (bk I, XXXVIII, trans. M. A. Screech):
“Ambition, covetousness, irresolution, fear and desires do not abandon us just because we have changed our landscape.
Et post equitem sedet atra cura.
They follow us into the very cloister and schools of philosophy. Neither deserts nor holes in cliffs nor hair-shirts nor fastings can disentangle us from them:
hæret lateri lethalis arundo. Virg. Aen. IV , 73

[in her side still clings that deadly shaft]
Socrates was told that some man had not been improved by travel. 'I am sure he was not.' he said. 'He went with himself!'
Quid terras alio calentes
Sole mutamus? patria quis exul
Se quoque fugit?
Hor. Odes II, 16, 18-20

[Why do we leave for lands warmed by a foreign sun? What fugitive from his own land can flee from himself?]
If you do not first lighten yourself and your soul of the weight of your burdens, moving about will only increase their pressure on you, as a ship's cargo is less troublesome when lashed in place. You do more harm than good to a patient by moving him about: you shake his illness down into the sack just as you drive stakes in by pulling and waggling them about.”

[L'ambition, l'avarice, l'irresolution, la peur et les concupiscences, ne nous abandonnent point pour changer de contrée:
Et post equitem sedet atra cura.
Elles nous suivent souvent jusques dans les cloistres, et dans les escoles de Philosophie. Ny les desers, ny les rochers creusez, ny la here, ny les jeusnes, ne nous en démeslent:
hæret lateri lethalis arundo.
On disoit à Socrates, que quelqu'un ne s'estoit aucunement amendé en son voyage: Je croy bien, dit-il, il s'estoit emporté avecques soy.
Quid terras alio calentes
Sole mutamus? patria quis exul
Se quoque fugit?
Si on ne se descharge premierement et son ame, du faix qui la presse, le remuement la fera fouler davantage; comme en un navire, les charges empeschent moins, quand elles sont rassises: Vous faictes plus de mal que de bien au malade de luy faire changer de place. Vous ensachez le mal en le remuant: comme les pals s'enfoncent plus avant, et s'affermissent en les branslant et secouant.]
Not that Montaigne wasn’t himself an enthusiastic traveller. He mounts a robust defence in ‘On Vanity’ (bk III, IX): ‘Cette humeur avide des choses nouvelles et incognues, ayde bien à nourrir en moy, le desir de voyager’.

Incidentally, in Emerson’s disappointed traveller in Rome there is also an echo of that arch malcontent, the learned Smellfungus
“[who] travelled from Boulogne to Paris – from Paris to Rome – and so on – but he set out with the spleen and jaundice, and every object he passed by was discoloured or distorted – He wrote an account of them, but ’twas nothing but the account of his miserable feelings.

I [The Reverend Mr. Yorick] met Smellfungus in the gran portico of the Pantheon – he was just coming out of it –’Tis nothing but a huge cockpit, said he…”.
L. Sterne A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy (1768), quoting from T. Smollet Travels through France and Italy (London 1766).

Personally speaking, like Yorick, “I pity the man who can travel from Dan to Beersheba, and cry ’Tis all barren”. Philistines!

Andrew MacGillivray

Thursday, August 09, 2007


The Pebbles In the Quiver

Zenobius 6.13 (tr. W.G. Arnott on Menander, Leukadia, fragment 8):
'The pebbles in the quiver'. Phylarchus says that when Scythians were going to bed, they brought their quiver, and if they had spent that day free from pain or grief, they dropped into the quiver a white pebble, but if the day had been troublesome, a black one. So at the time of their deaths the quivers were brought out and the pebbles counted. If the white ones were found to be more numerous, they called the man who had departed happy.

τὰς ἐν τῇ φαρέτρᾳ ψηφῖδας· Φύλαρχος φησι (FGrH 81 F 83, 2A p. 188 Jacoby) τοὺς Σκύθας μέλλοντας καθεύδειν ἄγειν τὴν φαρέτραν, καὶ εἰ μὲν ἀλύπως τύχοιεν τὴν ἡμέραν ἐκείνην διαγαγόντες, καθιέναι εἰς τὴν φαρέτραν ψηφῖδαν λευκήν· εἰ δὲ ὀχληρῶς, μέλαιναν. ἐπὶ τοίνυν τῶν ἀποθνῃσκόντων ἐκφέρειν τὰς φαρέτρας καὶ ἀριθμεῖν τὰς ψήφους· καὶ εἰ εὑρεθείησαν πλείους αἱ λευκαί, εὐδαιμονίζειν τὸν ἀπογενόμενον.
Much the same appears in the Suda, s.vv. Λευκὴ ἡμέρα and Τῶν εἰς τὴν φαρέτραν.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Collaborate and Corroborate

A few days ago I heard someone say "collaborated by" repeatedly when he should have said "corroborated by". There are lots of examples of this mistake in appellate court decisions, e.g. Doe v. State, 94 N.M. 548, 549-50, 613 P.2d 418, 419-20 (1980):
It is abundantly clear that Doe's confession of shop-lifting liquor from Albertson's store was collaborated by other substantial circumstantial evidence.
An intransitive verb such as "collaborate" should not be used passively (although cf. Latin "itur").



Henry David Thoreau, Journal (Nov. 1, 1858):
How many things can you go away from? They see the comet from the northwest coast just as plainly as we do, and the same stars through its tail. Take the shortest way round and stay at home. A man dwells in his native valley like a corolla in its calyx, like an acorn in its cup. Here, of course, is all that you love, all that you expect, all that you are. Here is your bride elect, as close to you as she can be got. Here is all the best and all the worst you can imagine. What more do you want? Bear hereaway then! Foolish people imagine that what they imagine is somewhere else. That stuff is not made in any factory but their own.
Related post: Travel.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Icy Laughter

Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Prologue 5 (tr. Walter Kaufmann):
And now they look at me and laugh: and as they laugh they even hate me. There is ice in their laughter.
Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra 4.18 (tr. Walter Kaufmann):
Whoever would kill most thoroughly, laughs.

Athena to Odysseus, in Sophocles, Ajax 79 (tr. Hugh Lloyd-Jones):
Is not laughing at one's enemies the most delighful sort of laughter?

οὔκουν γέλως ἥδιστος εἰς ἐχθροὺς γελᾶν;
If you keep your misfortunes hidden, you won't give occasion for your enemies to laugh at you. Euripides fr. 460 Nauck:
It is a painful thing for someone to fall into shameful ruin; but if this should happen, one should conceal and cover it up well, and not announce these things to the whole world; for such things become a source of laughter to enemies.

λύπη μὲν ἄτῃ περιπεσεῖν αἰσχρᾷ τινι·
εἰ δ᾽ οὖν γένοιτο, χρὴ περιστεῖλαι καλῶς
κρύπτοντα καὶ μὴ πᾶσι κηρύσσειν τάδε·
γέλως γὰρ ἐχθροῖς γίγνεται τὰ τοιάδε.
But if you have a trustworthy friend, you can tell him your misfortunes, and he won't laugh. Menander, fragment preserved by Stobaeus 4.48b.21, assigned by some to the play Encheiridion (tr. W.G. Arnott):
Derkippos and Mnesippos, all of us
Enduring injury or slander from
Some source, can find one haven—loyal friends.
The victim then may cry his eyes out free
From ridicule, and when he sees his comrade
Stand by and share his anger like a friend,
Then most of all each lulls his rage to rest.

Δέρκιππε καὶ Μνήσιππε, τοῖς εἰρημένοις
ἡμῶν ὑπό τινος ἢ πεπονθόσιν κακῶς
ἐστιν καταφυγὴ πᾶσιν, οἱ χρηστοὶ φίλοι.
καὶ γὰρ ἀποδύρασθ᾽ ἔστι μὴ γελώμενον,
καὶ συναγανακτοῦνθ᾽ ὁπόταν οἰκείως ὁρᾷ
ἕκαστος αὑτῷ τὸν παρόντα, παύεται
τοῦτον μάλιστα τὸν χρόνον τοῦ δυσφορεῖν.
Free from ridicule is literally not laughed at (μὴ γελώμενον).

Related posts:

Monday, August 06, 2007


Penalties for Stealing Crops

This continues Plucking Grain on the Sabbath.

Plutarch, Life of Solon 17.1 (tr. Ian Scott-Kilvert):
First of all, then, he repealed all the Draconian laws because of their harshness and the excessively heavy penalties they carried; the only exceptions were the laws relating to homicide. Under the Draconian code almost any kind of offence was liable to the death penalty, so that even those convicted of idleness were executed, and those who stole fruit or vegetables suffered the same punishment as those who committed sacrilege or murder.

πρῶτον μὲν οὖν τοὺς Δράκοντος νόμους ἀνεῖλε πλὴν τῶν φονικῶν ἅπαντας, διὰ τὴν χαλεπότητα καὶ τὸ μέγεθος τῶν ἐπιτιμίων. μία γὰρ ὀλίγου δεῖν ἅπασιν ὥριστο τοῖς ἁμαρτάνουσι ζημία θάνατος, ὥστε καὶ τοὺς ἀργίας ἁλόντας ἀποθνήσκειν, καὶ τοὺς λάχανα κλέψαντας ἢ ὀπώραν ὁμοίως κολάζεσθαι τοῖς ἱεροσύλοις καὶ ἀνδροφόνοις.
Alciphron 3.14.3 (sometimes numbered 2.38.3 or 3.40.3):
I blame Solon and Draco, who deemed it lawful to punish with death those stealing bunches of grapes, but those enslaving the understanding of young men they allowed to go unpunished.

μέμφομαι τῷ Σόλωνι καὶ τῷ Δράκοντι, οἳ τοὺς μὲν κλέπτοντας σταφυλὰς θανάτῳ ζημιοῦν ἐδικαίωσαν, τοὺς δὲ ἀνδραποδίζοντας ἀπὸ τοῦ φρονεῖν τοὺς νέους ἀθώους εἶναι τιμωρίας ἀπέλιπον.
Alciphron's account is garbled. As Plutarch makes clear, Solon repealed the death penalty for stealing crops.

Plato, Laws 8.844d-845d (tr. R.G. Bury):
[844d] So let this law be enacted concerning the fruit-harvest:—whosoever shall taste of the coarse crop of grapes or figs before the season of vintage, [844e] which coincides with the rising of Arcturus, whether it be on his own land or on that of others, shall owe fifty sacred drachmae to Dionysus if he has cut them from his own trees, if from his neighbor's trees, a mina, and if from others, two-thirds of a mina. And if any man wishes to harvest "choice" grapes or "choice" figs (as they are now called), he shall gather them how and when he will if they are from his own trees, but if they are from another man's, and without his consent, he shall be fined every time, in pursuance of the law, “thou shalt not shift what thou hast not set.” [845a] And if a slave, without the consent of the master of the plots, touches any of such fruit, he shall be beaten with stripes as many as the grapes in the bunch or the figs on the fig-tree. If a resident alien buys a choice crop, he shall harvest it if he wishes. If a foreigner sojourning in the country desires to eat of the crop as he passes along the road, he, with one attendant, [845b] shall, if he wishes, take some of the choice fruit with-out price, as a gift of hospitality; but the law shall forbid our foreigners to share in the so-called “coarse” fruit, and the like; and should either a master or a slave touch these, in ignorance, the slave shall be punished with stripes, and the free man shall be sent off with a reproof and be instructed to touch only the other crop, which is unfitted for storing to make raisins for wine or dried figs. As to pears, apples, pomegranates, and all such fruits, [845c] it shall be no disgrace to take them privily; but the man that is caught at it, if he be under thirty years of age, shall be beaten and driven off without wounds; and for such blows a free man shall have no right to sue. A foreigner shall be allowed to share in these fruits in the same way as in the grape crop; and if a man above thirty touch them, eating on the spot and not taking any away, he shall have a share in all such fruits, like the foreigner; but if he disobeys the law, he shall be liable to be disqualified [845d] in seeking honors, in case anyone brings these facts to the notice of the judges at the time.

ἔστω δὴ περὶ ὀπώρας ὅδε νόμος ταχθείς· ὃς ἂν ἀγροίκου ὀπώρας γεύσηται, βοτρύων εἴτε [844e] καὶ σύκων, πρὶν ἐλθεῖν τὴν ὥραν τὴν τοῦ τρυγᾶν ἀρκτούρῳ σύνδρομον, εἴτ' ἐν τοῖς αὑτοῦ χωρίοις εἴτε καὶ ἐν ἄλλων, ἱερὰς μὲν πεντήκοντα ὀφειλέτω τῷ Διονύσῳ δραχμάς, ἐὰν ἐκ τῶν ἑαυτοῦ δρέπῃ, ἐὰν δ' ἐκ τῶν γειτόνων, μνᾶν, ἐὰν δ' ἐξ ἄλλων, δύο μέρη τῆς μνᾶς. ὃς δ' ἂν τὴν γενναίαν νῦν λεγομένην σταφυλὴν ἢ τὰ γενναῖα σῦκα ἐπονομαζόμενα ὀπωρίζειν βούληται, ἐὰν μὲν ἐκ τῶν οἰκείων λαμβάνῃ, ὅπως ἂν ἐθέλῃ καὶ ὁπόταν βούληται καρπούσθω, ἐὰν δ' ἐξ ἄλλων μὴ πείσας, ἑπομένως τῷ νόμῳ, τῷ μὴ κινεῖν ὅτι μὴ κατέθετο, [845a] ἐκείνως ἀεὶ ζημιούσθω· ἐὰν δὲ δὴ δοῦλος μὴ πείσας τὸν δεσπότην τῶν χωρίων ἅπτηταί του τῶν τοιούτων, κατὰ ῥᾶγα βοτρύων καὶ σῦκον συκῆς ἰσαρίθμους πληγὰς τούτοις μαστιγούσθω. μέτοικος δὲ ὠνούμενος τὴν γενναίαν ὀπώραν ὀπωριζέτω, ἐὰν βούληται, ἐὰν δὲ ξένος ἐπιδημήσας ὀπώρας ἐπιθυμῇ φαγεῖν διαπορευόμενος τὰς ὁδούς, τῆς μὲν γενναίας ἁπτέσθω, ἐὰν βούληται, μεθ' ἑνὸς ἀκολούθου χωρὶς τιμῆς, [845b] ξένια δεχόμενος, τῆς δὲ ἀγροίκου λεγομένης καὶ τῶν τοιούτων ὁ νόμος εἰργέτω μὴ κοινωνεῖν ἡμῖν τοὺς ξένους· ἐὰν δέ τις ἀίστωρ ὢν αὐτὸς ἢ δοῦλος ἅψηται, τὸν μὲν δοῦλον πληγαῖς κολάζειν, τὸν δὲ ἐλεύθερον ἀποπέμπειν νουθετήσαντα καὶ διδάξαντα τῆς ἄλλης ὀπώρας ἅπτεσθαι τῆς εἰς ἀπόθεσιν ἀσταφίδος οἴνου τε καὶ ξηρῶν σύκων ἀνεπιτηδείου κεκτῆσθαι. ἀπίων δὲ πέρι καὶ μήλων καὶ ῥοῶν καὶ πάντων [845c] τῶν τοιούτων, αἰσχρὸν μὲν μηδὲν ἔστω λάθρᾳ λαμβάνειν, ὁ δὲ ληφθεὶς ἐντὸς τριάκοντα ἐτῶν γεγονὼς τυπτέσθω καὶ ἀμυνέσθω ἄνευ τραυμάτων, δίκην δ' εἶναι ἐλευθέρῳ τῶν τοιούτων πληγῶν μηδεμίαν. ξένῳ δὲ καθάπερ ὀπώρας ἐξέστω καὶ τῶν τοιούτων μέτοχον εἶναι· ἐὰν δὲ πρεσβύτερος ὢν ἅπτηται τούτων, φαγὼν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀποφέρων μηδέν, καθάπερ ὁ ξένος ταύτῃ κοινωνείτω τῶν τοιούτων ἁπάντων, μὴ πειθόμενος [845d] δὲ τῷ νόμῳ κινδυνευέτω ἀναγώνιστος γίγνεσθαι περὶ ἀρετῆς, ἐὰν εἰς τότε τὰ τοιαῦτα περὶ αὐτοῦ τοὺς τότε κριτάς τις ἀναμιμνῄσκῃ.
The permission for foreigners to glean grapes (Plato, Laws 8.845c) has a parallel in Leviticus (19.9-10):
And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.
Victor Davis Hanson, The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization (New York: The Free Press, 1995), p. 141, also cites Demosthenes 47.53-56, but this involves the disputed seizure of livestock and furniture in payment of a judgment.


Practicing Law Without a Degree: Vermont

Rules of Admission to the Bar of the Vermont Supreme Court, Rule § 6 (Requirements for admission - Applicants not presently admitted to the practice of law in another jurisdiction of the United States), excerpts:
(f) An applicant must be a citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully present in the United States, at least eighteen years of age, of good moral character and fitness, and who has successfully completed three-quarters of the work accepted for a bachelor's degree in a college approved by the Court before commencing the study of law hereinafter prescribed.

(g) An applicant shall have pursued the study of law with special reference to the general practice of law:
(1) for a period of not less than four years within this state under the supervision of an attorney in practice in this state who has been admitted to practice before this Court not less than three years prior to the commencement of that study, or

(2) in any jurisdiction of the United States or common law jurisdiction in a law school approved by this Court which maintains a three-year course leading to a law degree.

(k) Within the meaning of these rules, study in the office of a judge or attorney shall be measured as follows: a week of study shall consist of (1) not less than twenty-five hours of study in that office during a period of seven consecutive days; or (2) not less than thirty hours of study in that office during a period of fourteen consecutive days; a month of study shall consist of four weeks of study; and a year of study shall consist of twelve calendar months during which not less than forty-four weeks of study shall have been pursued.


(m) For the purposes of the educational requirements of these rules, the supervising judges or attorneys and registrants or applicants are advised that the purpose of law office study clerkship is to prepare applicants to engage in the general practice of law. Toward that end: (1) a supervising attorney can and is encouraged to enlist the assistance of other attorneys to provide the greatest breadth of experience in the completion of the course of study, and (2) a registrant or applicant should carefully arrange with the supervising attorney a systematic course of study which will prepare him or her for the general practice of law and including, but not limited to, the subjects of examination set forth in § 10(a).
Vermont Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Skoglund studied in the law office study program, not in a law school.

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Sunday, August 05, 2007



John Burroughs, The Art of Seeing Things, in Leaf and Tendril (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1908):
Love is the measure of life: only so far as we love do we really live. The variety of our interests, the width of our sympathies, the susceptibilities of our hearts—if these do not measure our lives, what does? As the years go by, we are all of us more or less subject to two dangers, the danger of petrifaction and the danger of putrefaction; either that we shall become hard and callous, crusted over with customs and conventions till no new ray of light or joy can reach us, or that we shall become lax and disorganized, losing our grip upon the real and vital sources of happiness and power. Now, there is no preservative and antiseptic, nothing that keeps one's heart young, like love, like sympathy, like giving one's self with enthusiasm to some worthy thing or cause.


Practicing Law Without a Degree: New York

22 New York Codes, Rules and Regulations § 520.4 (Study of Law in Law Office):
(a) General. An applicant may qualify to take the New York State bar examination by submitting to the New York State Board of Law Examiners satisfactory proof:
(1) that applicant commenced the study of law after applicant's 18th birthday; and

(2) that applicant successfully completed at least one academic year as a matriculated student in a full-time program or the equivalent in a part-time program at an approved law school and at the conclusion thereof was eligible to continue in that school's degree program; and

(3) that the applicant thereafter studied law in a law office or offices located within New York State under the supervision of one or more attorneys admitted to practice law in New York State, for such a period of time as, together with the credit allowed pursuant to this section for attendance in an approved law school, shall aggregate four years.
(b) Employment and Instruction Requirements. An applicant studying law in a law office or offices within New York State must be actually and continuously employed during the required period as a regular law clerk and student in a law office, under the direction and subject to the supervision of one or more attorneys admitted to practice law in New York State, and must be actually engaged in the practical work of such law office during normal business hours.

In addition, the applicant must receive instruction from said attorney or attorneys in those subjects which are customarily taught in approved law schools.

(c) Credit for Attendance in Approved Law School. Credit shall be allowed for attendance in an approved law school as follows:
(1) credit of one full year or 52 weeks shall be allowed for any successfully completed year of a full-time law school program;

(2) credit of three quarters of a year or 39 weeks shall be allowed for any successfully completed year of a part-time law school program;

(3) proportionate credit shall be allowed for any successfully completed semester, quarter or summer session in such a full-time or part-time law school program;

(4) for any period of law school study not successfully completed, credit may be allowed for attendance as determined by the New York State Board of Law Examiners based on an evaluation of performance in the individual case.
(d) Vacations. Vacations taken by the applicant in excess of one month in any year of study shall be deducted from the period of law office study for which credit shall be given, but failure by the applicant to take a vacation shall not decrease the period of study required by this section.

(e) Certificate of Commencement of Law Office Study. It shall be the duty of the attorney or attorneys with whom a period of law office study is about to be commenced to obtain from, complete and file with, the Clerk of the Court of Appeals a certificate of commencement of clerkship, Appendix B-2, infra. At the time the certificate of commencement of clerkship is filed, the applicant shall provide the Court of Appeals with a copy of the determination of the New York State Board of Law Examiners of the credit to which the applicant is entitled under subdivision (c) of this section.

(f) Credit for Law Study in Law Office. Credit shall be given only for study in a law office or offices completed subsequent to the filing of the certificate required by subdivision (e) of this section.

(g) Proof Required. Compliance with the requirements of this section shall be proved to the satisfaction of the New York State Board of Law Examiners.
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Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Plucking Grain on the Sabbath

Matthew 12.1-2 (par. Mark 2.23-24 and Luke 6.1-2):
At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.
We are not told who owned the corn and what he thought about it. The Pharisees accuse the disciples of violating the fourth commandment (Exodus 20.8, Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy), not the eighth (Exodus 20.15, Thou shall not steal).

Deuteronomy 23.24-25 permits what the disciples did:
When thou comest into thy neighbour's vineyard, then thou mayest eat grapes thy fill at thine own pleasure; but thou shalt not put any in thy vessel. When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbour, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbour's standing corn.
The disciples' behavior might have irked a farmer not bound by Jewish law. Victor Davis Hanson, The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization (New York: The Free Press, 1995), pp. 140-142, discusses farmers' reactions to trespassing and the theft of produce. The reactions included:I owe all these references to Hanson and have not checked them myself yet.

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