Sunday, September 17, 2017


A Petronian Tobspruch

Petronius, Satyricon 92.11:
tanto magis expedit inguina quam ingenia fricare.

expedit Dousa: impedit codd.: impendit: Erhard
In Michael Heseltine's original translation of Petronius for the Loeb Classical Library series (1913), this was left untranslated. In E.H. Warmington's revision (1969), it was translated (with footnote) thus:
So much the greater gain is it to rub groins than geniuses.1

1 The meaning seems to be that it is more important to stir up one's sexual than one's mental powers.
Some have attempted to reproduce the word-play, e.g. J.P. Sullivan:
A polished wick is much more profitable than a polished wit.
Cf. Erich Segal, "Arbitrary Satyricon: Petronius & Fellini," Diacritics 1.1 (Autumn, 1971) 54-57 (at 55):
In life you make it better with a stroke of "penius" than a stroke of genius.
On fricare see J.N. Adams, The Latin Sexual Vocabulary (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982; rpt. 1993), p. 184.

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