Saturday, August 30, 2014


A Swarm of Flies and Gnats

Erasmus, Praise of Folly 48 (tr. John Wilson):
In short, if a man like Menippus of old could look down from the moon and behold those innumerable rufflings of mankind, he would think he saw a swarm of flies and gnats quarreling among themselves, fighting, laying traps for one another, snatching, playing, wantoning, growing up, falling, and dying. Nor is it to be believed what stir, what broils, this little creature raises, and yet in how short a time it comes to nothing itself; while sometimes war, other times pestilence, sweeps off many thousands of them together.

in summa si mortalium innumerabiles tumultus, e Luna, quemadmodum Menippus olim, despicias, putes te muscarum, aut culicum videre turbam inter se rixantium, bellantium, insidiantium, rapientium, ludentium, lascivientium, nascentium, cadentium, morientium. neque satis credi potest, quos motus, quas tragoedias ciat tantulum animalculum, tamque mox periturum. nam aliquoties vel levis belli, seu pestilentiae procella, multa simul millia rapit ac dissipat.
The reference is to Lucian's Icaromenippus.

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