Friday, December 12, 2014



Plautus, Trinummus 199-211 (tr. Paul Nixon):
There's certainly nothing more silly and stupid, more subdolous and voluble, more brassymouthed and perjured than these city busybodies called men about town. Yes, and I put myself in the very same category with 'em, swallowing as I did the falsehoods of fellows that affect to know everything and don't know anything. Why, what each man has in mind, or will have, they know; know what the king whispers to the queen; know what Juno chats about with Jove. Things that don't exist and never will—still they know 'em all. Not a straw do they care whether their praise or blame, scattered where they please, is fair or unfair, so long as they know what they like to know.

nihil est profecto stultius neque stolidius
neque mendaciloquius neque argutum magis,        200
neque confidentiloquius neque peiurius,
quam urbani assidui cives, quos scurras vocant.
atque egomet me adeo cum illis una ibidem traho,
qui illorum verbis falsis acceptor fui,
qui omnia se simulant scire neque quicquam sciunt.        205
quod quisque in animo habet aut habiturust sciunt,
sciunt id quod in aurem rex reginae dixerit,
sciunt quod Iuno fabulatast cum Iove;
quae neque futura neque sunt, tamen illi sciunt.
falson an vero laudent, culpent quem velint,        210
non flocci faciunt, dum illud quod lubeat sciant.
Id. 217-222:
Ah, if we only went to the root of everything they hear and tell about, and demanded their authority, and then fined and punished our tittletattlers if they didn't produce it—if we did this, we'd be doing a public service, and I warrant there'd be few people knowing what they don't know, and quite a lull in their blitherblather.

quod si exquiratur usque ab stirpe auctoritas,
unde quidquid auditum dicant, nisi id appareat,
famigeratori res sit cum damno et malo,
hoc ita si fiat, publico fiat bono,        220
pauci sint faxim qui sciant quod nesciunt,
occlusioremque habeant stultiloquentiam.
There is a lesson here for journalists, bloggers, talk show hosts, and the like.

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