Wednesday, November 08, 2017


Natus Abdomini et Voluptatibus

Historia Augusta, 23: The Two Gallieni 16.1 (tr. David Magie):
... born for his belly and his pleasures ...

... natus abdomini et voluptatibus ...
Jerome, Letters 22.10 (tr. F.A. Wright):
... man obeying his belly rather than God ...

... homo ventri magis obediens quam deo ...
According to Daniël den Hengst, Emperors and Historiography (Leiden: Brill, 2010), p. 198, both authors are probably imitating Cicero, Against Piso 17.41 (tr. N.H Watts):
For that whirlpool, that wastrel born for his belly and not for virtue or renown ...

nam ille gurges atque helluo, natus abdomini suo, non laudi et gloriae ...
If one adopts Bentley's conjecture in Terence, Eunuch 460:
ex homine hunc natum dicas

ex homine codd.: abdomini Bentley
then Cicero in turn might have been adapting Terence's description of the parasite Gnatho.

All of these authors intended their expressions as insults. But would they have been regarded as such by an Epicurean? See Epicurus, fragment 409 Usener = Athenaeus 12.546f:
The beginning and root of every good thing is the pleasure of the belly; both wise things and refined things have reference to this.

ἀρχὴ καὶ ῥίζα παντὸς ἀγαθοῦ ἡ τῆς γαστρὸς ἡδονή· καὶ τὰ σοφὰ καὶ τὰ περιττὰ ἐπὶ ταύτην ἔχει τὴν ἀναφοράν.
Cf. Metrodorus, fragment 41 Körte (from Plutarch, That Epicurus Actually Makes a Pleasant Life Impossible 16 = Moralia 1098 C, tr. Benedict Einarson and Philip H. De Lacy):
We are not called to save the nation or get crowned by it for wisdom; what is called for, my dear Timocrates, is to eat and drink wine, gratifying the belly without harming it.

οὐδὲν δεῖ σῴζειν τοὺς Ἕλληνας οὐδ᾽ ἐπὶ σοφίᾳ στεφάνων παρ᾽ αὐτῶν τυγχάνειν, ἀλλ᾽ ἐσθίειν καὶ πίνειν οἶνον, ὦ Τιμόκρατες, ἀβλαβῶς τῇ γαστρὶ καὶ κεχαρισμένως.

For similar insults see Charles Lamb, "Edax on Appetite," Miscellaneous Prose, ed. E.V. Lucas (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1913), pp. 138-144 (at 139):
The prying republic of which a great school consists, soon found me out: there was no shifting the blame any longer upon other people's shoulders,—no good-natured maid to take upon herself the enormities of which I stood accused in the article of bread and butter, besides the crying sin of stolen ends of puddings, and cold pies strangely missing. The truth was but too manifest in my looks,—in the evident signs of inanition which I exhibited after the fullest meals, in spite of the double allowance which my master was privately instructed by my kind parents to give me. The sense of the ridiculous, which is but too much alive in grown persons, is tenfold more active and alert in boys. Once detected, I was the constant butt of their arrows,—the mark against which every puny leveller directed his little shaft of scorn. The very Graduses and Thesauruses were raked for phrases to pelt me with by the tiny pedants. Ventri natus,—Ventri deditus,—Vesana gula,—Escarum gurges,—Dapibus indulgens,—Non dans froena gulae,—Sectans lautae fercula mensae, resounded wheresoever I past. I lead a weary life, suffering the penalties of guilt for that which was no crime, but only following the blameless dictates of nature. The remembrance of those childish reproaches haunts me yet oftentimes in my dreams.

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