Monday, December 08, 2008


A Bon Mot of Demetrius the Cynic

Seneca, Letters to Lucilius 91.19 (tr. Richard M. Gummere):
Our friend Demetrius is wont to put it cleverly when he says: "For me the talk of ignorant men is like the rumblings which issue from the belly. For," he adds, "what difference does it make to me whether such rumblings come from above or from below?"

Eleganter Demetrius noster solet dicere eodem loco sibi esse voces inperitorum quo ventre redditos crepitus. 'Quid enim' inquit 'mea, susum isti an deosum sonent?'
Demetrius was referring to the noise accompanying flatulence, not borborygmus.

On the similarity between what issues from the mouth and the anus, see also Catullus 97.1-5 (tr. F.W. Cornish):
I swear I didn't think it mattered one straw whether I sniffed Aemilius's head or his tail: neither was better or worse than t'other; or rather his tail was the better and smarter of the two, for it has no teeth.

Non (ita me di ament) quicquam referre putavi,
  utrumne os an culum olfacerem Aemilio,
nilo mundius hoc nihiloque immundius illud.
  verum etiam culus mundior et melior,
nam sine dentibus est.
Three epigrams by Nicarchus make the same point.

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