Sunday, December 31, 2017


Not Considered a Sin?

Alexander Waugh, Fathers and Sons: The Autobiography of a Family (London: Headline, 2004), p. 63, n. 5:
Masturbation was not considered unhealthy until 1710 when John Martens, a quack doctor and pornographer, proclaimed it as such in a book called Onania. Marten's fortune derived from the medicine sold in conjunction with his book. The Church did not consider masturbation a sin, or indeed link it to Onan's behaviour in Genesis, until after the publication of Onania.
Surely this is incorrect. Just in the past few days I noticed the following in Bentley Layton, The Canons of Our Fathers: Monastic Rules of Shenoute (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), p. 93 (rule 6):
Cursed be whoever dares with his own hands to grasp his members for a deed of impurity, that is, defilement.
Id., p. 333, rule 572:
Cursed be whoever touches himself with his own hands in order to do evil deeds.
There are similar prohibitions in medieval penitentials, and cf. Cassian, Conferences 5.11.4 (tr. Edgar C.S. Gibson):
Of fornication there are three sorts ... (2) that which takes place without touching a woman, for which we read that Onan the son of the patriarch Judah was smitten by the Lord; and which is termed by Scripture uncleanness.

fornicationis genera sunt tria ... secundum, quod absque femineo tactu, pro quo Onam patriarchae Iudae filius a Domino percussus legitur, quod in scripturis sanctis immunditia nuncupatur.
Some scholars consider Matthew 5.30 (And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off) to be a warning against masturbation. See e.g. Will Deming, "Mark 9.42–10.12, Matthew 5.27–32 and b.Nid. 13b: A First Century Discussion of Male Sexuality," New Testament Studies 36 (1990) 130–141, and Andrew R. Angel, "God Talk and Men's Talk: Jesus, Tarfon and Ishmael in Dialogue," in James G. Crossley, ed., Judaism, Jewish Identities and the Gospel Tradition. Essays in Honour of Maurice Casey (2010; rpt. London: Routledge, 2014), pp. 95-117. I haven't seen Giovanni Cappelli, Autoerotismo: Un problema morale nei primi secoli cristiani? (Bologna: Edizioni Dehoniane, 1986).

Diogenes the Cynic viewed masturbation in quite a different light, as a gift of the gods. See:


A Wretched Echo

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), Faust, Part 2, Act 3, lines 9637-9640 (tr. David Luke):
All that ever is done
Nowadays is no
More than a wretched echo
Of the more glorious age of our forebears.

Alles, was je geschieht
Heutigen Tages,
Trauriger Nachklang ist's
Herrlicher Ahnherrntage.

Saturday, December 30, 2017


Catastrophe Would Surely Result

Auberon Waugh (1939-2001), "Why it is so important that nobody pays attention to journalists," Spectator (May 28, 1988):
My proposed solutions to the various problems which beset the country are intended as suggestions to be thrown around in the various clubs, pubs and dining rooms where Englishmen (oh Yes, and foreign women, too) gather to discuss these things. If the Government adopted even a tenth of them, catastrophe would surely result.
The role of journalists is to ridicule, humiliate and generally torment politicians, pour scorn on anything they propose to do and laugh at them when they do it. We should never, never, never suggest new ways for them to spend money or taxes they could increase, or new laws they could pass.

Friday, December 29, 2017


No More Laughing, No More Fun

Shenoute, Monastic Rules, number 564, tr. Bentley Layton, The Canons of Our Fathers: Monastic Rules of Shenoute (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), p. 331:
Children shall not laugh.
Related posts:


Survival in an Age of Political Correctness

Jules Renard, Journal (March 20, 1909; tr. Louise Bogan and Elizabeth Roget):
One should say nothing, because everything offends.

On ne devrait rien dire, parce que tout blesse.
This is similar to Gilleland's Law, first propounded in 2010 — Everything offends someone.


Kindness, Education, Reformation

Catherine Nixey, The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World (London: Macmillan, 2017), p. 226:
Christian preachers, however, were intransigent. They, they said, were answerable to a higher power than the mere law of the land. Their eye was upon heaven. As they reminded their flocks, it was not the law of some imperial bureaucrat that mattered. It was the law of God. Anything that saved a soul — even if it did so at the expense of law, order or even the body that that soul inhabited — was an acceptable act. To attack the houses, bodies and temples of those afflicted by the 'pagan error' was not to harm these sinners but to help them. This was not brutality. This was kindness, education, reformation.



Robert Macfarlane, The Wild Places (London: Granta Books, 2007), pp. 192-194:
Noctambulism is usually taken to mean sleepwalking. This is inaccurate: it smudges the word into somnambulism. Noctambulism means walking at night, and you are therefore etymologically permitted to do it asleep or awake. Generally, people noctambulise because they are in search of melancholy, or rather a particular type of imaginative melancholy. Franz Kafka wrote of feeling like a ghost among men — 'weightless, boneless, bodiless' — when he walked at night.

I had found another reason for being out at night, however, and that is the wildness which the dark confers on even a mundane landscape. Sailors speak of the uncanniness of seeing a well-known country from the sea; the way that such a perspective can make the most homely coastline seem strange. Something similar happens to a landscape in darkness. Coleridge once compared walking at night in his part of the Lake District to a newly blind man feeling the face of a child: the same loving attention, the same deduction by form and shape, the same familiar unfamiliarity. At night, new orders of connection assert themselves: sonic, olfactory, tactile. The sensorium is transformed. Associations swarm out of the darkness. You become even more aware of landscape as a medley of effects, a mingling of geology, memory, movement, life. The landforms remain, but they exist as presences: inferred, less substantial, more powerful. You inhabit a new topology. Out at night, you understand that wildness is not only a permanent property of land — it is also a quality which can settle on a place with a snowfall, or with the close of day.

Over the past two centuries in particular, however, we have learned how to deplete darkness. Homo sapiens evolved as a diurnal species, adapted to excel in sunlit conditions, and ill-equipped to manoeuvre at night. For this reason, among others, we have developed elaborate ways of lighting our lives, of neutralising the claims of darkness upon us, and of thwarting the circadian rhythm.

The extent of artificial lighting in the modernised regions of the earth is now so great that it produces a super-flux of illumination easily visible from space. This light, inefficiently directed, escapes upwards before being scattered by small particles in the air — such as water droplets and dust — into a generalised photonic haze known as sky glow. If you look at a satellite image of Europe taken on a cloudless night, you will see a lustrous continent. Italy is a sequined boot. Spain is trimmed with coastal light, and its interior sparkles. Britain burns brightest of all. The only significant areas of unlit land are at the desert margins of the continent, and along its mountainous spine.

The stars cannot compete with this terrestrial glare, and are often invisible, even on doudless nights. Cities exist in a permanent sodium twilight. Towns stain their skies orange. The release of this light also disrupts habits of nature. Migrating birds collide with illuminated buildings, thinking them to be daytime sky. The leaf-fall and flowering patterns of trees — reflexes controlled by perceptions of day length — are disrupted. Glow-worm numbers are declining because their pilot lights, the means by which they attract mates, are no longer bright enough to be visible at night.

Thursday, December 28, 2017


For Delight and Recreation

Nathaniel E. Dubin, The Fabliaux: A New Verse Translation (New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2013), pp. 15, 17 (Des Chevaliers, des Clers, et des Villains, lines 24-39):
Two peasants then came barging in.
From market they were coming back        25
with spades and threshers on their backs.
When they had sat down in the pleasance
they started speaking just like peasants:
"Hey, Fouchier, from the looks of it
this is the perfect place to shit.        30
Let's take a dump right now, old pal."
"Upon my soul, we may as well."
Then each of them squats down and strains.
This story patently explains
that there's nothing on earth as pleasant        35
as taking a shit for a peasant,
and therefore a peasant befouls
the fairest spots and moves his bowels
there for delight and recreation...
The original (id., pp. 14, 16):
Dui vilain s'i sont embatu
qui reperoient d'un marchié        25
de vanz & de peles carchié.
Quant ou biau lieu assis se furent
si ont parlé si comme il durent
& dist li uns: «Sire Fouchier,
com vez ci biau lieu por chïer.        30
Cor i chions, or biaus conpere.
— Soit, fet il, par l'ame mon pere!»
Lors du chïer chascuns s'esforce.
De cest example en est la force
qu'il n'est nul deduit entresait        35
fors de chiier que vilains ait,
& por ce que vilains cunchïent
toz les biaus lieus, & quant i chïent
par deduit & par esbanoi...

Jacques Callot (1592-1635), Peasant Defecating
(Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art,
Rosenwald Collection, acquisition number 1949.5.179)

Hat tip: Laudator Junior, who gave me the book as a Christmas present.



Portrait of the Blogger as an Old Man

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), Faust, Part 2, Act 2, lines 8084-8087 (tr. David Luke):
But he's a real curmudgeon, a thick-head
And a sour-puss, it must be said.
He's never pleased, he seems to find
Fault with the whole race of mankind.

Doch hat er einen harten Kopf,
Der widerwärtige Sauertopf.
Das ganze menschliche Geschlecht
Macht's ihm, dem Griesgram, nimmer recht.
Griesgram (line 8087) is related to obsolete English grist (gnashing of teeth). See Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. grist, n.1:
Etymology: Old English grist-, gyrst, cognate with Old Saxon grist- in gristgrimmo gnashing of teeth; compare Old High German grisgrimmôn, grisgramôn to gnash the teeth (Middle High German grisgimmen, -gramen, grustgramen; German griesgramen to sulk), Middle High German grisgram gnashing of teeth (German griesgram peevishness, peevish person, also as adjective).

Wednesday, December 27, 2017



Jules Renard, Journal (December 24, 1908; tr. Louise Bogan and Elizabeth Roget):
God. "He feedeth the birds of the air." And then, in winter, lets them starve.

Dieu. «Aux petits des oiseaux il donne la pâture», et il les laisse, ensuite, l'hiver, crever de faim.


The Quiet Building Up of Facts

Henry Bradshaw (1831-1886), The Early Collection of Canons Known as the Hibernensis: Two Unfinished Papers (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1893), p. 44:
When all this preliminary process has been gone through, there remains the primary task of examining thoroughly the text of the work itself. It is here that most editors are content to begin their labours, perhaps indeed not even at this point; being content to do all their work upon a mere transcript, or even a collation, of a manuscript which they have themselves never seen; incapable, for the most part, of perceiving that any good can possibly arise out of an attempt to study the history and, so to say, the setting or surroundings of the material books which enshrine the literature upon which they are engaged. But the quiet building up of facts, the habit of patiently watching a book and listening while it tells you its own story, must tend to produce a solid groundwork of knowledge, which alone leads to that sober confidence, before which both negative assumption and ungrounded speculation, however brilliant, must ultimately fall. It is to be hoped that our schools of history may year by year foster more such methods of research.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.


There Is No End of Learning

Excerpts from Robert Schumann, Advice to Young Musicians, tr. Henry Hugo Pierson (Leipzig: J. Schuberth & Co., 1860):
In maturer years play no fashionable trifles. Time is precious. We should need to live a hundred lives, only to become acquainted with all the good works that exist. With sweetmeats, pastry and confectionary we cannot bring up children in sound health. The mental food must be as simple and nourishing as the bodily. Great composers have sufficiently provided for the former; keep to their works. (p. 12)

Spiele, wenn du älter wirst, nichts Modisches. Die Zeit ist kostbar. Man müsste 100 Menschenleben haben, wenn man nur alles Gute, was da ist, kennen lernen wollte. Mit Süßigkeiten, Back-und Zuckerwerk zieht man keine Kinder zugesunden Menschen. Wie die leibliche, so muß auch die geistige Kost einfach und kräftig sein. Die Meister haben hinlänglich für die letztere gesorgt; haltet euch an diese.

Let your intimate friends be chosen from such as are better informed than yourself. (p. 18)

Suche unter deinen Kameraden die auf, die mehr als du wissen.

Remember, there are more people in the world than yourself. Be modest! You have not yet invented nor thought anything which others have not thought or invented before. And should you really have done so, consider it a gift of heaven which you are to share with others. (p. 20)

Hinter den Bergen wohnen auch Leute. Sei bescheiden! Du hast noch nichts erfunden und gedacht, was nicht Andere vor dir schon gedacht und erfunden. Und hättest du's, so betrachte es als ein Geschenk von oben, was du mit anderen zu teilen hast.

You will be most readily cured of vanity or presumption by studying the history of music, and by hearing the master pieces which have been produced at different periods. (p. 20)

Das Studium der Geschichte der Musik, unterstützt vom lebendigen Hören der Meisterwerke der verschiedenen Epochen, wird dich am schnellsten von Eigendünkel und Eitelkeit kurieren.

Highly esteem the Old, but take also a warm interest in the New. Be not prejudiced against names unknown to you. (p. 26)

Ehre das Alte hoch, bringe aber auch dem Neuen ein warmes Herz entgegen. Gegen dir unbekannte Namen hege kein Vorurtheil.

Do not judge a composition from the first time of hearing; that which pleases you at the first moment, is not always the best. Masters need to be studied. Many things will not become clear to you till you have reached a more advanced age. (p. 26)

Urtheile nicht nach dem Ersten-Mal-Hören über eine Composition; was dir im ersten Augenblick gefällt, ist nicht immer das Beste. Meister wollen studirt sein. Vieles wird dir erst im höchsten Alter klar werden.

There is no end of learning. (p. 34)

Es ist des Lernens kein Ende.
Mutatis mutandis, useful advice not only for musicians and not only for the young.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017


Christmas Comfort Food

Minimalist recipe for creton (not for purists):
Cook ground pork and diced onion with allspice, barely covered by water, in a frying pan over a very low heat until the pork turns from pink to white and the onions become soft. While cooking, stir often to prevent clumps. Chill in small, shallow containers until jelled. Serve cold on toast or saltine crackers.
It's not a health food, but I only eat it around Christmas time. Mémère (my grandmother) made creton, and she lived to age 99. My mother made it, and she lived to age 93. My siblings and I make it, and now my son makes it. It's an acquired taste, and some people find it unsavory. Good, because that leaves more for me.


Acid Attacks: Ancient Version

Brent D. Shaw, Sacred Violence: African Christians and Sectarian Hatred in the Age of Augustine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), p. 667:
In the only case where Augustine is specific about a new device used by circumcellions in their attacks, it was not the addition of a new type of manufactured weapon to which he refers, but rather the use of a concoction of vinegar and lime to produce an acidic liquid which they threw into the eyes of their victims.143 Although this might indeed have been "a new and horrible" innovation, it was still produced out of products that were readily to hand in the rural environment in which these men lived and worked.144

143 Aug. Contra Cresc. 3.42.46 (CSEL 52: 453): "Insuper novo et antehac inaudito sceleris genere oculis eorum calce aceto permixto infundentes et infercientes, quos evellere conpendio poterant, excruciare amplius eligunt quam citius excaecare. Nam primo tantum calce ad hoc facinus utebantur, sed posteaquam illos, quibus hoc fecerant, cito salutem reparasse didicerunt, acetum addiderunt." Cf. Ep. 88.8 (CCL 31A: 145); Possid. Vita Aug. 10.6 (Bastiaensen: 154): "Aliquibus etiam calcem cum aceto in oculos miserunt."

144 Calx or lime was widely produced on rural estates, not only for "liming" soils, but also for use in building: Cato, De Agr. Cult. 16 (production); 18.7 (use in paving and foundation courses of a pressing room); Pliny, NH, 36.55.177 (use as mortar and stucco); Vitruvius, De Architect. 7.3.2 f. (in stuccoing buildings). Acetum or soured wine, used to produce vinegar, was also a standard by-product of vinting: Varro, LL, 9.66.


Punch a Nazi: Ancient Version

John Chrysostom, On the Statues, Homily 1.32 (tr. W.R.W. Stephens):
And should you hear any one in the public thoroughfare, or in the midst of the forum, blaspheming God; go up to him and rebuke him; and should it be necessary to inflict blows, spare not to do so. Smite him on the face; strike his mouth; sanctify thy hand with the blow.

κἂν ἀκούσῃς τινὸς ἐν ἀμφόδῳ, ἢ ἐν ἀγορᾷ μέσῃ βλασφημοῦντος τὸν Θεὸν, πρόσελθε, ἐπιτίμησον, κἂν πληγὰς ἐπιθεῖναι δέῃ, μὴ παραιτήσῃ· ῥάπισον αὐτοῦ τὴν ὄψιν, σύντριψον τὸ στόμα, ἁγίασόν σου τὴν χεῖρα διὰ τῆς πληγῆς.

Monday, December 25, 2017


No Wiggling

Shenoute, Monastic Rules, number 347, tr. Bentley Layton, The Canons of Our Fathers: Monastic Rules of Shenoute (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), p. 237:
No person among us shall wiggle his feet on the floor nor his hands or a stick that he has with him.

Sunday, December 24, 2017


A Sick, Strange Age

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), The Will to Power, tr. Walter Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale (New York: Vintage Books, 1968), p. 541 (§ 1051, from 1885):
What do any latter-day men, the children of an invalid, multifarious, sick, strange age, know of the range of Greek happiness; what could they know of it! Whence would the slaves of "modern ideas" derive a right to Dionysian festivals!

Was wissen denn alle neueren Menschen, die Kinder einer brüchigen, vielfachen, kranken, seltsamen Zeit, von dem Umfange des griechischen Glücks, was könnten sie davon wissen! Woher nähmen gar die Sklaven der "modernen Ideen" ein Recht zu dionysischen Feiern!


Male Grooming and Hygiene

Ovid, Art of Love 1.513-522 (tr. J.H. Mozley, rev. G.P. Goold):
Let your person please by cleanliness, and be made swarthy by the Campus;
let your toga fit, and be spotless;
let your shoe-strap not be too tight, let its buckle be free from rust,        515
and let your feet not float about in shoes too loose;
nor let your stubborn locks be spoilt by bad cutting;
let hair and beard be dressed by a practised hand.
Do not let your nails project, and let them be free of dirt;
nor let any hair be in the hollow of your nostrils.        520
Let not the breath of your mouth be sour and unpleasing,
nor let the lord and master of the herd offend the nose.

munditie placeant, fuscentur corpora Campo:
    sit bene conveniens et sine labe toga:
lingula ne rigeat, careant rubigine dentes,        515
    nec vagus in laxa pes tibi pelle natet:
nec male deformet rigidos tonsura capillos:
    sit coma, sit trita barba resecta manu.
et nihil emineant, et sint sine sordibus ungues:
    inque cava nullus stet tibi nare pilus.        520
nec male odorati sit tristis anhelitus oris:
    nec laedat naris virque paterque gregis.

513 munditie R: munditiae rell.
515 lingula Palmer: lingua codd.
518 trita Housman: tuta RO: docta rell.: scita Heinsius
R = Parisinus Latinus 7311 (Regius), and O = Oxoniensis Bodl. Auct. F.4.32.

On 515 see G.P. Goold, "Amatoria Critica," Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 69 (1965) 1-107 (at 65-66):
Jack is about to meet Jill, and in this section of the lover's manual receives instruction about his appearance: each couplet stresses a particular aspect; for example, the next refers to hairdressing.

It is therefore odd that, whilst the pentameter urges Jack to wear sandals which fit (cf. Aristoph. Equ. 321, etc.), the hexameter appears to refer to hygiene of the mouth. This oddity, however, is set right by Palmer's brilliant lingula ne ruget "let your shoe-strap not be creased," which restores the link between the two verses. Not that Palmer has quite hit the target. He compares Ars 3,443f (" Girls, do not be taken in by spruce Lotharios") nec coma uos fallat liquida nitidissima nardo / nec breuis in rugas lingula pressa suas; but this must mean that the smart guys do display a shoe-strap "folded into creases" (i.e., pleated, tied): ruget must be wrong.

There is no need to alter the verb: from lingula ne rigeat; careant ... the following excellent sense is yielded: "let not shoe-strap be tied too tight; keep teeth (of buckle) free from (rust-)stain." So Bornecque: "Que ta chaussure soit bien correctement nouée; que les agrafes ne soient pas rouillées." The association of dentes and lingula is proved by Pauli Festus 103,21 Lindsay: LINGVLA per deminutionem linguae dicta; alias a similitudine exertae, ut in calceis; alias insertae, id est intra dentes coercitae, ut in tibiis. Not but what there is an obvious double-entendre on "keep teeth (of mouth) free from stain," cf. Met. 2.776, etc.
On 518 see A.E. Housman, "Notes on Latin Poets," Classical Review 4.8 (October, 1890) 340-342 (at 341-342):
The epithet 'tuta' is meaningless and no editor retains it: even the interpolators of the inferior MSS perceived its absurdity and substituted 'docta'; then came Heinsius with the more scientific amendment 'scita' which is now the vulgate. But even thus much change is unnecessary: nothing graver has happened than the common error u for ri, 'tuta' for 'trita'. The lexicons show that in Cicero this word means 'practised' and so 'expert', and they supply a perfect counterpart to its employment here from Vitr. II. 1 6 'tritiores manus ad aedificandum perficere.'
On 522 (virque paterque gregis) see P. Murgatroyd, Ovid with Love: Selections from Ars Amatoria I and II (1982; rpt. Wauconda: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, 2002), p. 117:
i.e. the he-goat, notorious for its rank smell (here denoting the goatish stink of B.O.: cf. Catullus 69.5f. tibi fertur / valle sub alarum trux habitare caper, Ars 3.l93 quam paene admonui, ne trux caper iret in alas).
Of Ovid's precepts I find line 520 the most difficult to follow. Constant vigilance is required.

Saturday, December 23, 2017


Keeping in Touch

Greek Anthology 9.401 (by Palladas; tr. Tony Harrison):
Loving the rituals that keep men close,
Nature created means for friends apart:

pen, paper, ink, the alphabet,
signs for the distant and disconsolate heart.
The Greek:
Ἡ φύσις ἐξεῦρεν, φιλίης θεσμοὺς ἀγαπῶσα,
    τῶν ἀποδημούντων ὄργανα συντυχίης,
τὸν κάλαμον, χάρτην, τὸ μέλαν, τὰ χαράγματα χειρός,
    σύμβολα τῆς ψυχῆς τηλόθεν ἀχνυμένης.
W.R. Paton's translation:
Nature, loving the duties of friendship, invented instruments by which absent friends can converse, pens, paper, ink, handwriting, tokens of the heart that mourns afar off.

Friday, December 22, 2017


The Infliction of Pain and the Will of God

Ramsay MacMullen, Changes in the Roman Empire: Essays in the Ordinary (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990), p. 150 with notes on p. 333:
Those standards were, to repeat, a great deal harsher in my period of study, A.D. 312 to 412, than in the preceding hundred years. Considering the whole span there covering two full centuries, is it possible to see anything in the nature or development of Christianity that might have helped produce the change toward harshness? The only evidence of that sort known to me, which is also the only sadistic literature I am aware of in the ancient world, is the developing Christian vision of Purgatory,45 surviving principally in apocryphal apocalypses and parts of the Sibylline Oracles. In the details abundantly provided in this literature depicting the torments of the wicked—hung up by their tongues, buried to their mouths in human excrement, their eyes put out with a red hot iron, and so forth—a connection is drawn between the elaborate infliction of pain and the will of God. Such a connection may have been found and felt likewise by the persecutors, earlier. In Diocletian's edict against the Manichaeans we sense it. He concludes several strident paragraphs with the statement, "We have established pains and penalties well deserved and suited to those people ... [who], together with their abominable scripture, are to be subject to a rather rigorous punishment: to be burned up in the fiery flames; and those who are of their allegiance, truly, and especially the more fanatical, we order to be beheaded."46 Observing both Christianity and an aroused paganism in operation, it appears to me likely that religious beliefs may have made judicial punishment specially aggressive, harsh, and ruthless. In both, the characteristics of action were similar, producing cruelty in the service of zeal. But there was also a major difference: pagan beliefs left daily morals to philosophy. For pagans, only correct cult mattered. Christian zeal in contrast was directed over all of daily life. Hence, threats and torture, the stake and the block, spread over many new categories of offense.

45. J. Le Goff, La naissance du Purgatoire (1981), draws principally on the Apocalypse of Peter and the Apocalypse of Paul, the first dating to the early second century, the second, to the mid-third (pp. 54 and 56); see W. Schneemelcher, New Testament Apocrypha 2 (1965) 664; tortures described in Apoc. Petri 7 (ibid. 672f., including mutilation, 716f.), compared with Or. Sibyll. 2.255-307.

46. FIRA2 p. 581 (Mos. et Rom. legum collatio 15.315-16).

Thursday, December 21, 2017


Conjectural Emendation

John Strugnell (1930-2007), "A Plea For Conjectural Emendation in the New Testament," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 36.3 (October, 1974) 543–558 (at 551):
[T]he practice of emendation has been put on a level with drug addiction, Manichaeism, and other debaucheries...
Id. (pp. 552-553, n. 22):
It would certainly be useful to make available a critical collection of the conjectures that have been made in the past by individual scholars in the text of the NT. Prejudice against emendation may have cast many pearls into the pig-sty of oblivion.
Thanks to Ian Jackson for giving me a copy of Strugnell's article.

Related post: Flights of Fancy.


De Brevitate Vitae

Wisdom of Solomon 2.1-9 (King James Version):
[1] For the ungodly said, reasoning with themselves, but not aright, Our life is short and tedious, and in the death of a man there is no remedy: neither was there any man known to have returned from the grave.

[2] For we are born at all adventure: and we shall be hereafter as though we had never been: for the breath in our nostrils is as smoke, and a little spark in the moving of our heart:

[3] Which being extinguished, our body shall be turned into ashes, and our spirit shall vanish as the soft air,

[4] And our name shall be forgotten in time, and no man shall have our works in remembrance, and our life shall pass away as the trace of a cloud, and shall be dispersed as a mist, that is driven away with the beams of the sun, and overcome with the heat thereof.

[5] For our time is a very shadow that passeth away; and after our end there is no returning: for it is fast sealed, so that no man cometh again.

[6] Come on therefore, let us enjoy the good things that are present: and let us speedily use the creatures like as in youth.

[7] Let us fill ourselves with costly wine and ointments: and let no flower of the spring pass by us:

[8] Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds, before they be withered:

[9] Let none of us go without his part of our voluptuousness: let us leave tokens of our joyfulness in every place: for this is our portion, and our lot is this.

[1] εἶπον γὰρ ἐν ἑαυτοῖς λογισάμενοι οὐκ ὀρθῶς· ὀλίγος ἐστὶ καὶ λυπηρὸς ὁ βίος ἡμῶν, καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ἴασις ἐν τελευτῇ ἀνθρώπου, καὶ οὐκ ἐγνώσθη ὁ ἀναλύσας ἐξ ᾅδου.

[2] ὅτι αὐτοσχεδίως ἐγεννήθημεν, καὶ μετὰ τοῦτο ἐσόμεθα ὡς οὐχ ὑπάρξαντες· ὅτι καπνὸς ἡ πνοὴ ἐν ρισὶν ἡμῶν, καὶ ὁ λόγος σπινθὴρ ἐν κινήσει καρδίας ἡμῶν,

[3] οὗ σβεσθέντος τέφρα ἀποβήσεται τὸ σῶμα καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα διαχυθήσεται ὡς χαῦνος ἀήρ.

[4] καὶ τὸ ὄνομα ἡμῶν ἐπιλησθήσεται ἐν χρόνῳ, καὶ οὐθεὶς μνημονεύσει τῶν ἔργων ἡμῶν· καὶ παρελεύσεται ὁ βίος ἡμῶν ὡς ἴχνη νεφέλης καὶ ὡς ὁμίχλη διασκεδασθήσεται διωχθεῖσα ὑπὸ ἀκτίνων ἡλίου καὶ ὑπὸ θερμότητος αὐτοῦ βαρυνθεῖσα.

[5] σκιᾶς γὰρ πάροδος ὁ βίος ἡμῶν, καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ἀναποδισμὸς τῆς τελευτῆς ἡμῶν, ὅτι κατεσφραγίσθη, καὶ οὐδείς ἀναστρέφει.

[6] δεῦτε οὖν καὶ ἀπολαύσωμεν τῶν ὄντων ἀγαθῶν καὶ χρησώμεθα τῇ κτίσει ὡς ἐν νεότητι σπουδαίως.

[7] οἴνου πολυτελοῦς καὶ μύρων πλησθῶμεν, καὶ μὴ παροδευσάτω ἡμᾶς ἄνθος ἀέρος.

[8] στεψώμεθα ρόδων κάλυξι πρὶν ἢ μαρανθῆναι.

[9] μηδεὶς ἡμῶν ἄμοιρος ἔστω τῆς ἡμετέρας ἀγερωγίας, πανταχῆ καταλίπωμεν σύμβολα τῆς εὐφροσύνης, ὅτι αὕτη ἡ μερὶς ἡμῶν καὶ ὁ κλῆρος οὗτος.
[1] οὐκ ὀρθῶς codd.: ὀρθῶς Gilleland

From Eric Thomson:
Gilleland's bold expunction of οὐκ provokes a universal 'ouch!' of theological distress.

Early textual critics of the Bible got a rough ride from the church. One such was Theodotus, excommunicated by Pope Victor. Eusebius would no doubt describe Gilleland as having "sunk to the lowest depths of perdition" (εἰς ἔσχατον ἀπωλείας ὄλεθρον).

Eusebius, Eccesiastical History 5.28.18-19 (with the translation of Arthur C. McGiffert and Ernest C. Richardson):
ὅσης δὲ τόλμης ἐστὶ τοῦτο τὸ ἁμάρτημα, εἰκὸς μηδὲ ἐκείνους ἀγνοεῖν. ἢ γὰρ οὐ πιστεύουσιν ἁγίῳ πνεύματι λελέχθαι τὰς θείας γραφάς, καί εἰσιν ἄπιστοι· ἢ ἑαυτοὺς ἡγοῦνται σοφωτέρους τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος ὑπάρχειν, καὶ τί ἕτερον ἢ δαιμονῶσιν; οὐδὲ γὰρ ἀρνήσασθαι δύνανται ἑαυτῶν εἶναι τὸ τόλμημα, ὁπόταν καὶ τῇ αὐτῶν χειρὶ ᾖ γεγραμμένα, καὶ παρ' ̓ὧν κατηχήθησαν, μὴ τοιαύτας παρέλαβον τὰς γραφάς, καὶ δεῖξαι ἀντίγραφα ὅθεν αὐτὰ μετεγράψαντο, μὴ ἔχωσιν.

ἔνιοι δ' ̓αὐτῶν οὐδὲ παραχαράσσειν ἠξίωσαν αὐτάς, ἀλλ' ̓ἁπλῶς ἀρνησάμενοι τόν τε νόμον καὶ τοὺς προφήτας, ἀνόμου καὶ ἀθέου διδασκαλίας προφάσει χάριτος εἰς ἔσχατον ἀπωλείας ὄλεθρον κατωλίσθησαν.

But how daring this offense is, it is not likely that they themselves are ignorant. For either they do not believe that the Divine Scriptures were spoken by the Holy Spirit, and thus are unbelievers, or else they think themselves wiser than the Holy Spirit, and in that case what else are they than demoniacs? For they cannot deny the commission of the crime, since the copies have been written by their own hands. For they did not receive such Scriptures from their instructors, nor can they produce any copies from which they were transcribed.

But some of them have not thought it worth while to corrupt them, but simply deny the law and the prophets, and thus through their lawless and impious teaching under pretense of grace, have sunk to the lowest depths of perdition.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Qualifications for Ordination to the Priesthood

Pausanias 7.24.4 (tr. W.H.S. Jones):
In a more remote age there was chosen to be priest for Zeus from the boys he who won the prize for beauty. When his beard began to grow the honor for beauty passed to another boy. Such were the customs.

τὰ δὲ ἔτι παλαιότερα προεκέκριτο ἐκ τῶν παίδων ἱερᾶσθαι τῷ Διὶ ὁ νικῶν κάλλει· ἀρχομένων δὲ αὐτῷ γενείων ἐς ἄλλον παῖδα ἡ ἐπὶ τῷ κάλλει μετῄει τιμή. ταῦτα μὲν οὕτως ἐνομίζετο.
Id. 9.10.4:
The following custom is, to my knowledge, still carried out in Thebes. A boy of noble family, who is himself both handsome and strong, is chosen priest of Ismenian Apollo for a year.

τόδε γε καὶ ἐς ἐμὲ ἔτι γινόμενον οἶδα ἐν Θήβαις· τῷ Ἀπόλλωνι τῷ Ἰσμηνίῳ παῖδα οἴκου τε δοκίμου καὶ αὐτὸν εὖ μὲν εἴδους, εὖ δὲ ἔχοντα καὶ ῥώμης, ἱερέα ἐνιαύσιον ποιοῦσιν.


Next Door Neighbors

R.E. Wycherley (1909-1986), The Stones of Athens (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978), p. 200:
Aristotle in the Politics (7.11.1) recommends that for the dwellings of the gods a suitable place should be chosen, the same for all. Pausanias (9.22.2) praises the people of Tanagra in Boiotia because they have their houses in one place, their shrines in a separate place, up above, "a pure and holy spot away from men." At Athens such segregation was obviously not achieved or even desired. There is no reason why one should not accept the district which we have been examining as fairly typical. Some cities possessed what was called an Agora of the Gods, a closely packed assemblage of important cults.52 At Athens the Acropolis was an elevated place, pure and holy and aloof from common human affairs; and several different spots might be considered in some sense Agoras of the Gods. But gods and heroes also lived in many modest or even humble abodes on ordinary streets as next door neighbors to ordinary citizens. If one wishes to understand the character of Athenian deisidaimonia, one must look at the whole city, with even more thoroughness than Pausanias, and at the many unpretentious shrines set in diverse places.

52 R. Martin, L'Agora Grecque, Paris 1951, 169-74.
On p. 175 Wycherley defines deisidaimonia (δεισιδαιμονία) as religiosity. Etymologically it's fear of the gods. The adjective δεισιδαίμων first occurs in Xenophon, himself a δεισιδαίμων man.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017



Jules Renard, Journal (April 1, 1907; tr. Louise Bogan and Elizabeth Roget):
When a sparrow has said "Peep!", it thinks it has said everything there is to say.

Quand il dit: «Cuic!» le moineau croit tout dire.


Quick and Slow

James 1.19 (Jubilee Bible translation):
Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.

ἔστω δὲ πᾶς ἄνθρωπος ταχὺς εἰς τὸ ἀκοῦσαι, βραδὺς εἰς τὸ λαλῆσαι, βραδὺς εἰς ὀργήν.
William R. Baker, Personal Speech-Ethics in the Epistle of James (Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr, 1995 = Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 2. Reihe, 68), pp. 85-87:

Baker's n. 6 on p. 86 is flawed:
See also Ovid, Ex Ponto 1:2 for the use of quick and slow with an infinitive in Latin (ad poenas princeps, ad praemia velox).
First, the citation is inaccurate—it should be Ex Ponto 1.2.121. Second, there is no infinitive in the words quoted. Third, the words as quoted don't show a contrast between quick and slow. Only if the line is quoted in full is the contrast evident:
sed piger ad poenas princeps, ad praemia velox.
Also, read "difference in sense" for "different in sence" on p. 87.


Monday, December 18, 2017



Augustine, Expositions on the Psalms 45.13 (on v. 10; tr. ‎Maria Boulding):
Banishing war even to the ends of the earth. We do not see this promise fully realized, for wars still rage. They are fought between nations for dominance; and they are fought also between sects, between Jews, pagans, Christians and heretics. Wars are waged, and with increasing frequency, as some fight for the truth, and others for falsehoods. The prophecy that God is banishing war even to the ends of the earth has not been completely fulfilled yet, but perhaps it will be.

Auferens bella usque adfines terrae. Hoc nondum videmus esse completum: sunt adhuc bella, sunt inter gentes pro regno; inter sectas, inter Iudaeos, Paganos, Christianos, haereticos, sunt bella, crebrescunt bella; aliis pro veritate, aliis pro falsitate certantibus. Nondum ergo completum est: Auferens bella usque adfines terrae: sed fortasse complebitur.


By Definition

Richard Thomas, "Cal Watkins," Proceedings of the 25th Annual UCLA Indo-European Conference: Los Angeles, October 25th and 26th, 2013, ed. Stephanie W. Jamison et al. (Bremen: Hempen, 2014), pp. 15-17 (at 16):
Cal was immensely proud of the generations of students he trained who now hold positions across the country and beyond. He would have appreciated some of their recollections:
One—like Cal a proud Texan—recalls introductory Hittite. Cal "floated the idea of reading Palaic, and I asked whether it was a valuable language to learn. Cal gave me what we Texans call the stink-eye and said 'Every language is valuable ... by definition.' [This] tells you everything you need to know about where his heart was. This was a man who loved languages, not just to mine them, but to cherish them as treasures, and to share his love of them."


Laugh While You Can

Jules Renard, Journal (June 25, 1907; tr. Louise Bogan and Elizabeth Roget):
We are in the world to laugh.
In purgatory or in hell we shall no longer be able to do so.
And in heaven it would not be proper.

Nous sommes ici-bas pour rire.
Nous ne le pourrons plus au purgatoire ou en enfer.
Et, au paradis, ce ne serait pas convenable.

Sunday, December 17, 2017


The Sybarites, My Spiritual Forebears

Rose Macaulay (1881-1958), Pleasure of Ruins (1953; rpt. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1984), pp. 213-216:
Further south, where the glories of Graecia toll like drowned bells all round the Tarentum Gulf, from Taranto to Croton and beyond, visible ruins are few, and enthusiasm is apt to encounter, except for or two eye-catches such as Metapontum, a chill and discouraging void. To enjoy the ruins of Sybaris, for instance, destroyed and drowned two thousand four hundred and sixty years ago, now buried deep in rich river mud, requires not only imagination but a little knowledge of what Sybaris was like when it was to be seen. That opulent ancient city, once the capital of Magna Graecia, once so happy in its vast prosperity and elegance, was destroyed by its rival Croton, and drowned by the diversion of the river Cratis over its razed temples and courts, theatres, streets and baths, and lies fathoms deep beneath the marshy plain, sunk without trace. Archaeologists take pleasure in looking for its site; ordinary people gaze with admiration at the great curve of the gulf scooped from the Ionian sea, beneath Italy's heel and toe, where the Greeks set their chain of cities twenty-six centuries ago — Tarentum, Metapontum, Siris, Locri, Croton, Ciro, Sybaris, carrying eastward from Cumae on the Mediterraaean coast the plantations of their culture. The new cities they set among rivers, in an alluvial plain, the circle of steep forested Calabrian mountains at their back; down to the shore runs a carpet of bright flowers. There, between the Cratis and the Sybaris, the Achaeans built Sybaris in the eighth century B.C., and the circuit of its walls was fifty stades; there, in the sixth, its enemies the Crotonians assaulted and drowned it utterly. No trace of its ruins remains above ground; no one is certain of the site. We know nothing of ruined Sybaris; all the records art of the city in its rich florescence, that scented, delicate hot-house bloom of luxury. It is on this Sybaris that we muse as we stand above the sunk city preserved in river mud, the city whose broken temples must resemble those of her daughter city, Paestum; her marble baths and great fora perhaps surpass any others in beauty. The sense of grandiose ruin is sharpened by the dreams we have of those who inhabited there; those Sybaritish Achaean Greeks, the envy and derision of their neighbours, a legend down the centuries that followed their dispersal, with their exquisite meals, their silken garments, their prolonged matutinal slumbers that must not be disturbed by cocks, their horses that caprioled and dtaced to music, their wanton pleasure-seeking that has made of them for twenty-six centuries a legend, "those prodigious prodigals and mad Sybaritical spendthrifts", as Robert Burton sourly called them — imagining those sunk and viewless ruins of their city, we can see them still, strolling languidly about their wrecked streets, carefully shaded from the sun, followed by pet dwarfs and leading costly little dogs from Malta, saying to their friends, "You must dine with me a year from to-day" (so great an occasion was a Sybarite dinner), turning away their eyes in distaste (or even swooning) if they saw a labourer at work, going to the baths leading slaves in chains, in order to punish them if the water should prove too hot or too little perfumed, lying on beds of rose petals, complaining in anguish if any were crumpled, discussing new and exquisite sauces for fish (for in this matter of sauces they were excessively ingenious, bestowing especial rewards on those who invented anything recherché, such as roe pickled in brine and soaked in oil and sweet wine, which was, it seems, something like anchovy sauce), crowning with gold crowns those who were judged to have given the most sumptuous public dinners. Reclining on the turf so far above the lost city, we can almost see those marble-pillared arcades and courts where elegant Sybarites drank together (women, too, for this happy and admirable people practised sex equality in pleasure, shocking their less advanced neighbours such as the sour puritan Pythagorean citizens of Croton who barbarously destroyed them in the end.) There the magnificent city lies, wrecked and drowned, but safe from quarrying, protected these thousands of years by river mud and earth, as Pompeii and Herculaneum by ashes and lava; its fallen columns lying lovely and intact, its buildings worthy of the greatest and richest city of Greater Greece; its temples were perhaps as huge as Selinunte, huger than Paestum. A complete civilisation lies beneath our feet as we tread the marshy ground through which the Cratis winds. What sculptures, lavish in beauty, decorate this city; what baths, what plumbing, what heating, what beds! None of those hard bedsteads used by those of Herculaneum; the beds of the Sybarites would have, we may be sure, beneath the withered rose petals (potpourri by now) admirable springs. When Sybarites visited Sparta, the hard benches they had to sit on at meals, and the frugal food, caused them to exclaim that they no longer wondered at the courage of these people in battle, for what regret could attend the leaving of so harsh a life, so different from that of Sybaris, where, lapped in rose-leaves and silken sheets, Sybarites lay late in exquisite chambers?

Seventy years ago M. Lenormant uttered an impassioned plea for bringing Sybaris to light. He believed that he knew its site; only it lay so deep. Its discovery, he thought, would be more rewarding than that of any other city. Were it dug up and set in order, a unique way of life would rise before our envious and applauding eyes; it would be the most titillating of ruin pleasures. And sprouting, no doubt, with that lush vegetable and aqutceous life, water weeds and deep moss (since the Cratis mud is of a teeming fertility) which, to romantic eyes, adds beauty to the bare bones of noble ruins. It would need much scraping.

But Sybaris lies too deep. To reach it would be too costly. Shallow digging and drilling has produced no results. Unless someone should put up a fabulous sum, the kind of sum only put up in these days for the manufacture of deadly weapons and military expeditions, we shall not see the first Sybaris. Nor the second, built sixty years later out of its ruins, for the Crotonians, who had sworn delenda est Sybaris, destroyed this almost at once. The third, built on higher ground, round the spring Thurii, with strong defending walls, which became a Roman colony and was wiped out of history by Saracens, has left a few fragments of wall and aqueduct, a buried necropolis, and a spring. The site of the fourth and last Sybaris, founded by Sybarites who fled from Thurii, having made themselves odious to the other Thurians, was found lately near Castiglione, three miles from the Trionto valley. There is a large acropolis partly surrounded by a strong wall of huge squared blocks. There is a grotto which probably led to an underground aqueduct; fragments of a Doric capital, many tiles, and some shards of black pottery. It seems that we must accept this precipitous, wood-grown rock as all that is left of the last Sybaris. But did the Sybarites in their fourth city, after so much destruction, exile, quarrelling, and resettlement, lead still the happy life which has famous? Are we to picture them, on and around this rocky acropolis, still at it, during the century before the new city was destroyed by the barbarian Brutti from the interior and no more known? We may not know: all we see is a barren mountainy country, where Sybarites, forlornly expatriate ghosts, seem to wander, murmuring of rich sauces, far from home. So that all our Sybaritish ruin pleasure is in the ecstatic contemplation of the unseen, in wistful meditation on beauty wrecked and perished from our view and lying far below our feet.
"Unless someone should put up a fabulous sum ... we shall not see the first Sybaris" — I call upon you, Bill Gates, to stop wasting your money on the Borrioboola-Gha venture, and to spend it instead on a truly worthwhile goal, the recovery of ancient Sybaris.



Samuel D. Warren and Louis D. Brandeis, "The Right to Privacy," Harvard Law Review 4.5 (December 15, 1890) 193-220 (at 196):
The press is overstepping in every direction the obvious bounds of propriety and of decency. Gossip is no longer the resource of the idle and of the vicious, but has become a trade, which is pursued with industry, as well as effrontery. To satisfy a prurient taste, the details of sexual relations are spread broadcast in the columns of the daily papers. To occupy the indolent, column upon column is filled with idle gossip, which can only be procured by intrusion upon the domestic circle. The intensity and complexity of life, attendant upon advancing civilization, have rendered necessary some retreat from the world, and man, under the refining influence of culture, has become more sensitive to publicity, so that solitude and privacy have become more essential to the individual; but modern enterprise and invention have, through invasions upon his privacy, subjected him to mental pain and distress, far greater than could be inflicted by mere bodily injury. Nor is the harm wrought by such invasions confined to the suffering of those who may be made the subjects of journalistic or other enterprise. In this, as in other branches of commerce, the supply creates the demand. Each crop of unseemly gossip, thus harvested, becomes the seed of more, and, in direct proportion to its circulation, results in a lowering of social standards and of morality. Even gossip apparently harmless, when widely and persistently circulated, is potent for evil. It both belittles and perverts. It belittles by inverting the relative importance of things, thus dwarfing the thoughts and aspirations of a people. When personal gossip attains the dignity of print, and crowds the space available for matters of real interest to the community, what wonder that the ignorant and thoughtless mistake its relative importance. Easy of comprehension, appealing to that weak side of human nature which is never wholly cast down by the misfortunes and frailties of our neighbors, no one can be surprised that it usurps the place of interest in brains capable of other things. Triviality destroys at once robustness of thought and delicacy of feeling. No enthusiasm can flourish, no generous impulse can survive under its blighting influence.


Scholarship Can Be Fun

Kathleen M. Coleman, "Cal Watkins in Monosyllables," Proceedings of the 25th Annual UCLA Indo-European Conference: Los Angeles, October 25th and 26th, 2013, ed. Stephanie W. Jamison et al. (Bremen: Hempen, 2014), pp. 1-3 (at 2):
Obviously, there is a further monosyllable that defines Cal, and that is "fun." But I want to associate it not with his company over the dinner table, although of course it belongs there too, but with his scholarship. He didn't really write articles and books; he wrote detective stories. Each unpacking of an Indo-European trope was a cliffhanger, a who-dun-it, a chase through a linguistic labyrinth. And then, by the end, it all makes crystalline sense: a zigzag tour through Hittite and Gaulish and Lithuanian and Old Irish suddenly illuminates some ritual habit of our Indo-European ancestors, as though a spotlight were trained backwards through the millennia.

Friday, December 15, 2017


A Double Acrostic

Brent D. Shaw, Sacred Violence: African Christians and Sectarian Hatred in the Age of Augustine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), pp. 39-40 (spacing and punctuation altered):
An eight-line Latin poem in hexameters was set up at the fortified site, boasting of Sammac's power.87 In hiring a poet to create this little Latin display piece, Sammac was not so much vaunting his own status as he was advertising his loyalty to the state and his connections to certain powerful persons. Yet another one of the fanciful literary tours-de-force typical of the more spectacular gymnastic poetics of the age, the poem is a double acrostic. The first letters and the last letters of each line, when read vertically, spelled out the name of the place: PRAEDIUM SAMMACIS, The Great Domain of Sammac.
Praesidium aeternae firmat prudentia paciS,
Rem quoque Romanam fida tuta undique dextrA,
Amni praepositum firmans munime monteM,
E cuius nomen vocitavit nomine PetraM.
Denique finitimae gentes deponere bellA
In tua concurrunt cupientes foedera, SammaC,
Ut virtus comitata fidem concordet in omnI
Munere, Romuleis semper sociata triumfiS.

The wisdom of eternal peace makes strong this fort.
With sure loyalty it guards Rome's power on all sides;
set high above the river, it guards the mountains with its walls
by which it continually proclaims its name of Petra: "The Rock."
All the neighboring peoples, ceasing from their wars,
wish to rush into alliance with you, Sammac,
so that your virtue, adorned with loyalty, is strong in its
every duty, always allied with the victories of Rome's sons.
87 ILS 9351 = CLE 1916 (Ighzer Amokrane); see S. Gsell, "Une inscription d'Ighzer-Amokrane," CRAI (1901), p. 176; Gsell (1902), p. 21 = Scripta Varia (1981), p. 114, no. 1; Lengrand (1994), pp. 159–61.
On ancient acrostics in general, see Edward Courtney, "Greek and Latin Acrostichs," Philologus 134 (1990) 3-13.


Changing the Names of Things

Procopius, History of the Wars 7.8.17 (tr. H.B. Dewing):
Now I, for my part, know this, that the great majority of mankind twist and turn the names of things until they reverse their meaning. For, on the one hand, they are accustomed to call kindness that which is really lawlessness, the outcome of which is that everything respectable is brought to utter confusion; and, on the other hand, they call any man perverse and exceedingly difficult who wishes to preserve the lawful order with exactness—to the end, plainly, that by using these names as screens for their wanton deeds they may be able more fearlessly to do wrong and display their baseness.

ἐγὼ μὲν οὖν τοῦτο οἶδα, ὡς τῶν ἀνθρώπων ὁ πολὺς ὅμιλος τὰ τῶν πραγμάτων ὀνόματα μεταβάλλουσιν ἐπὶ τοὐναντίον. φιλανθρωπίαν μὲν γὰρ καλεῖν τὴν παρανομίαν εἰώθασιν, ἐξ ἧς διεφθάρθαι τε τὰ χρηστὰ πάντα καὶ ξυντεταράχθαι ξυμβαίνει, σκαιὸν δὲ καὶ ἀτεχνῶς δύσκολον, ὃς ἂν τὰ νόμιμα περιστέλλειν ἐς τὸ ἀκριβὲς βούληται, ὅπως δὴ τοῖς ὀνόμασι τούτοις παραπετάσμασιν ἐς τὴν ἀσέλγειαν χρώμενοι ἀδεέστερον ἐξαμαρτάνειν τε ἱκανοὶ εἶεν καὶ τὴν μοχθηρίαν ἐνδείκνυσθαι.


The Swabian Salute

Ferdinand Mount, "Super Goethe," The New York Review of Books (December 17, 2017), a review of Rüdiger Safranski, Goethe: Life as a Work of Art, tr. David Dollenmayer (New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2017):
The best-remembered line from his first play, Götz von Berlichingen, is the robber baron Götz shouting through the window to the emperor's messenger: "Tell his Imperial Majesty that he can lick my arse"—otherwise known as the Swabian salute.
Goethe, Götz von Berlichingen, Act III, Scene 17 (tr. Cyrus Hamlin):
Tell your Captain: To his Imperial Majesty, as ever, I offer all due respect. But as for him, you tell him, he can kiss my arse!

Sag deinem Hauptmann: Vor Ihro Kaiserliche Majestät hab ich, wie immer, schuldigen Respekt. Er aber, sag's ihm, er kann mich im Arsche lecken!
The antecedent of the pronouns er and ihm seems to be the Hauptmann, not the Kaiserliche Majestät. If so, it's inaccurate to say that Götz told the messenger, "Tell his Imperial Majesty that he can lick my arse." Rather, Götz told the messenger, "Tell your Captain that he can lick my arse." See Jeffrey Champlin, The Making of a Terrorist: On Classic German Rogues (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2015), p. 57:
Götz tells the first intermediary, the herald, to tell the second intermediary, the captain, that he will not obey him. He refuses to admit that he targets the Emperor, aiming his words at the captain, the head of the army.

Thursday, December 14, 2017


Stop Laughing

John Chrysostom, On the Statues, Homily 15.4 (tr. W.R.W. Stephens):
For example, to laugh, to speak jocosely, does not seem an acknowledged sin, but it leads to acknowledged sin. Thus laughter often gives birth to foul discourse, and foul discourse to actions still more foul. Often from words and laughter proceed railing and insult; and from railing and insult, blows and wounds; and from blows and wounds, slaughter and murder.

If, then, you would take good counsel for yourself, avoid not merely foul words, and foul deeds, or blows, and wounds, and murders, but unseasonable laughter, itself, and the very language of banter; since these things have proved the root of subsequent evils.

τὸ γελᾷν καὶ ἀστεῖα λέγειν οὐ δοκεῖ μὲν ὡμολογημένον ἁμάρτημα εἶναι, ἄγει δὲ εἰς ὡμολογημένον ἁμάρτημα· πολλάκις γοῦν ἀπὸ γέλωτος αἰσχρὰ ῥήματα τίκτεται, ἀπὸ ῥημάτων αἰσχρῶν πράξεις αἰσχρότεραι· πολλάκις ἀπὸ ῥημάτων καὶ γέλωτος λοιδορία καὶ ὕβρις, ἀπὸ λοιδορίας καὶ ὕβρεως πληγαὶ καὶ τραύματα, ἀπὸ τραυμάτων καὶ πληγῶν σφαγαὶ καὶ φόνοι.

ἄν τοίνυν μέλλῃς περὶ σεαυτοῦ καλῶς βουλεύεσθαι, οὐχὶ τὰ αἰσχρὰ ῥήματα μόνον, οὐδὲ τὰ αἰσχρὰ πράγματα, οὐδὲ τὰς πληγὰς καὶ τὰ τραύματα καὶ τοὺς φόνους, ἀλλὰ καὶ αὐτὸν τὸν ἄκαιρον γέλωτα καὶ αὐτὰ τὰ ἀστεῖα ἀποφεύξῃ ῥήματα, ἐπειδὴ τῶν μετὰ ταῦτα κακῶν ῥίζα ταῦτα ἐγένετο.
This ("laughter often gives birth to foul discourse, and foul discourse to actions still more foul," etc.) is a good example of the rhetorical device known as climax or gradatio. For other examples see:
Related posts:


Why Don't You Die?

Diogenes Laertius 6.1.4 (on Antisthenes; tr. R.D. Hicks):
When he was being initiated into the Orphic mysteries, the priest said that those admitted into these rites would be partakers of many good things in Hades. "Why then," said he, "don't you die?"

μυούμενός ποτε τὰ Ὀρφικά, τοῦ ἱερέως εἰπόντος ὅτι οἱ ταῦτα μυούμενοι πολλῶν ἐν ᾄδου ἀγαθῶν μετίσχουσι, "τί οὖν," ἔφη, "οὐκ ἀποθνήσκεις;"

Wednesday, December 13, 2017



Anatoly Liberman, "The word 'job' and its low-class kin," The Oxford Etymologist (December 13, 2017):
Alongside the noun job "a piece of work," the verb job "to strike, peck" existed. Lexicographers are not sure whether the two words are connected, but it is reasonable to assume that they are. The verb seems to be primary: you peck, peck, peck, and "a piece of work" is done.
How appropriate, because many jobs today consist of little more than "peck, peck, peck" at a computer keyboard. I often wonder what an ancient Greek, transported through time, would think of us, cooped up indoors as we are much of the time, hunched over a computer keyboard or staring slack-jawed at a television screen or tapping away at our phones. I suspect he would laugh at our pale, puffy bodies, never exposed to wind or sun, and would regard us as useless and pathetic specimens of humanity.

Hat tip: Jim K.


The Monkeys of the World

Heaven Born Merida and Its Destiny: The Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel. Translated and Annotated by Munro S. Edmonson (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986), p. 76 (lines 611-618, from The Sermon of Xopan Nahuat):
Crazy are their days;
Crazy are the nights
Of the monkeys of the world.
Their necks are bent,
Their faces wrinkled,        615
Their mouths slack
In the lordship of the lands,
O fathers.


Death Is Nothing to Us

Lucretius, On the Nature of Things 3.830-842 (tr. W.H.D. Rouse, rev. Martin F. Smith, with their notes):
Therefore death is nothing to us,a it matters not one jot, since the nature of the mind is understood to be mortal;

and as in time past we felt no distress, while from all quarters the Carthaginians were coming to the conflict, when the whole world, shaken by the terrifying tumult of war, shivered and quaked under the lofty and breezy heaven, and was in doubt under which domination all men were destined to fall by land and seab;

so, when we shall no longer be, when the parting shall have come about between body and spirit from which we are compacted into one whole, then sure enough nothing at all will be able to happen to us, who will then no longer be, or to make us feel, not if earth be commingled with sea and sea with sky.

anil ... mors est ad nos (cf. 845, 850, 852, 926, 972) = ὁ θάνaτoς oὐδὲν πpὸς ἡμᾶς (Epicurus, Sent. 2).

bThe reference is chiefly to the Second Punic War (218–201 B.C.).

nil igitur mors est ad nos neque pertinet hilum,        830
quandoquidem natura animi mortalis habetur;
et, velut anteacto nil tempore sensimus aegri,
ad confligendum venientibus undique Poenis,
omnia cum belli trepido concussa tumultu
horrida contremuere sub altis aetheris auris,        835
in dubioque fuere utrorum ad regna cadendum
omnibus humanis esset terraque marique,
sic, ubi non erimus, cum corporis atque animai
discidium fuerit, quibus e sumus uniter apti,
scilicet haud nobis quicquam, qui non erimus tum,        840
accidere omnino poterit sensumque movere,
non si terra mari miscebitur et mare caelo.
J.D. Duff ad loc.:

See James Warren, Facing Death: Epicurus and His Critics (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2004), pp. 57 ff.

Thanks to Joel Eidsath for his translation of Epicurus' Greek in Duff's note on line 830:
Death is nothing to us. For we are insensible of being disincorporated, and what is insensible to us is nothing to us.

The most terrifying of evils, death, is nothing to us, since at any time when we exist, death is not present. Whenever death is present, we no longer exist.
Related post: Is It True?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


A Tree of His Own

R.B. McDowell, Alice Stopford Green: A Passionate Historian (Dublin: Allen Figgis and Company Limited, 1967), pp. 47-48:
Until 1903 she lived at 14 Kensington Square, an attractive Georgian house with a small garden (true to her country origins she enjoyed working in the garden and once said 'no one ought to be without a tree of his own').4

4. A.S. Green to Morel, 9 June 1902 (Morel papers).
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.


A Missionary Motto

Brad Thor, The Last Patriot (2008; rpt. New York: Pocket Books, 2014), p. 297:
Hanging on the wall in the vestibule was a beautiful piece of wood he had discovered in the rectory attic carved with the Anglican missionaries' motto TRANSIENS ADIUVANOS—I go overseas to give help.
The motto (of the Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts) is TRANSIENS ADIUVA NOS, three words (present participle, imperative, direct object), not two, and it means literally "Crossing over, help us."

The motto comes from Acts of the Apostles 16.9:
et visio per noctem Paulo ostensa est: vir Macedo quidam erat stans et deprecans eum, et dicens: Transiens in Macedoniam, adjuva nos.
King James Version:
And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.
Hat tip: A friend.


Monday, December 11, 2017


Ancient Unease with Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Jeffrey B. Gibson, The Disciples' Prayer: The Prayer Jesus Taught in Its Historical Setting (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015), p. 146, n. 29:
Moule's observation that there really is no sense in praying for exemption from πειρασμός if the πειρασμός in the petition is taken as a "testing to be experienced by believers"—indeed, that taking πειρασμός to have this meaning, renders the petition illogical, if not absurd, and that it therefore cannot be what Matthew and Luke thought Jesus was saying when he urged his disciples to urge God μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν—is supported by the peculiar way the petition is (mis)transmitted in the manuscript tradition or glossed by early commentators. For instance, Marcion reproduces it as "Do not suffer us to be led into 'testing'" (καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν), a gloss that appears again in the early third century in a fragment of a work by Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria and pupil of Origen, who, when commenting on how the petition is to be understood, says, "that is, do not suffer us to fall into 'testing'" (καὶ δὴ καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν· τουτέστι, μὴ ἐάσῃς ἡμᾶςἐμπεσεῖν εἰς πειρασμόν [Patrologia Graeca 10:1601]). Tertullian rendered it "Do not allow us to be led into 'testing' by him who 'tests' (the devil)" ("Ne nos inducas in temptationem, id est, ne nos patiaris induci ab eo utique qui temptat," De oratione 8), and Cyprian recites it in the form "do not suffer us to be induced into 'testing'" ("et ne patiaris nos induci in temtationem"). In Codex Bobbiensis and the Itala we find "ne passus fueris induci nos in temptationem," and Chromatius of Aquila, Jerome, Augustine, and various Western liturgies gloss it as "Do not lead us into testing which we cannot bear" ("et ne nos inferas in temptationem quam suffere non possumus"/"ne inducas nos in temptationem quam ferre non possumus"). On all of this, see Willis, "Lead Us Not into Temptation," 281-88; A.J.B. Higgins, "Lead Us Not Into Temptation: Some Latin Variants," Journal of Theological Studies o.s. 46 (1945): 179-83.
There is something wrong with the Greek quotation in Gibson's phrase
Marcion reproduces it as "Do not suffer us to be led into 'testing'" (καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν).
The phrase should read
Marcion reproduces it as "Do not suffer us to be led into 'testing'" (μὴ ἄφες ἡμᾶς εἰσενεχθῆναι εἰς πειρασμόν).
Gibson's reference to Willis is to Geoffrey G. Willis, "Lead Us Not into Temptation," Downside Review Vol. 93, No. 313 (October, 1975) 281-288. The articles by Willis and Higgins are unavailable to me.



The Life of Fools

Lucretius, On the Nature of Things 3.1023 (tr. W.H.D. Rouse, rev. Martin F. Smith):
The fool's life at length becomes a hell on earth.

hic Acherusia fit stultorum denique vita.


Proportion of Truth to Falsehood

Jules Renard, Journal (March 17, 1906; tr. Louise Bogan and Elizabeth Roget):
Truth on earth is to falsehood what a pin's head is to the earth.

La vérité sur la terre est au mensonge comme une tête d'épingle à la terre elle-même.



Themistius, Orations 21 (259 b, tr. Robert J. Penella):
There is nothing harder to tolerate than hearing a person praise himself, especially if he praises his own learning; for those who are truly learned cannot help blushing even when others praise them on that score.

οὐδὲν οὕτως ἄκουσμα φορτικὸν ὡς ὁ καθ' ἑαυτοῦ ἔπαινος, καὶ ταῦτα ἐπὶ παιδείᾳ, ἐφ' ᾗ καὶ ἄλλων ἐπαινούντων ἐρυθριᾶν χρεὼν τοὺς ἀληθινῶς αὐτῆς ἐπηβόλους.

Sunday, December 10, 2017


Athletics in Olden Times

Philostratus, On Athletics 43, tr. Waldo E. Sweet, Sport and Recreation in Ancient Greece: A Sourcebook with Translations (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), pp. 222-223:
In the old times "athletics" meant any kind of physical exercise. Some trained by carrying heavy weights, others by chasing hares and horses or by bending and straightening thick rods of wrought iron; others yoked themselves with strong oxen to pull wagons or bent back the neck of bulls; and some did the same with lions. Such activities were the training of men like Polymester, Glaukos, Alesias, and Poulydamas from Skotoussa. The boxer Tisander from Naxos used to swim around the headlands of his island, and went far out to sea, using his arms, which in exercising the rest of his body also received exercise themselves. These men washed in rivers and springs; they learned to sleep on the ground, some of them lying on stretcher beds made of oxhide, others on beds made of straw they gathered from the field. Their food was bread made from barley and unleavened loaves of unsifted wheat. For meat they ate the flesh of oxen, bulls, goats, and deer; they rubbed themselves with the oil of the wild olive and phylia. This style of living made them free from sickness, and they kept their youth a long time. Some of them competed in eight Olympic games, others for nine; they were also excellent soldiers and fought under their city's walls, where they were not defeated, but earned prizes for valor and trophies. They made war a training for athletics, and they made athletics a military activity.
Greek text, from Philostratos, Über Gymnastik, ed. Julius Jüthner (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1909), pp. 168, 170 (lunate sigmas not retained):
γυμναστικὴν δὲ οἱ παλαιοὶ καὶ αὐτὸ τὸ ὁτιοῦν γυμνάζεσθαι· ἐγυμνάζοντο δὲ οἱ μὲν ἄχθη φέροντες οὐκ εὔφορα, οἱ δ’ ὑπὲρ τάχους ἁμιλλώμενοι πρὸς ἵππους καὶ πτῶκας, οἱ δ’ ὀρθοῦντές τε καὶ κάμπτοντες σίδηρον ἐληλαμένον εἰς παχύ, οἱ δὲ βουσὶ συνεζευγμένοι καρτεροῖς τε καὶ ἁμαξεῦουσιν, οἱ δὲ ταύρους ἀπαυχενίζοντες, οἱ δ’ αὐτοὺς λέοντας. ταῦτα δὲ δὴ Πολυμήστορες καὶ Γλαῦκοι καὶ Ἀλησίαι καὶ Πουλυδάμας ὁ Σκοτουσσαῖος. Τίσανδρον δὲ τὸν ἐκ τῆς Νάξου πύκτην περὶ τὰ ἀκρωτήρια τῆς νήσου νέοντα παρέπεμπον αἱ χεῖρες ἐπὶ πολὺ τῆς θαλάσσης [παραπεμπόμεναι] γυμναζόμεναί τε καὶ γυμνάζουσαι. ποταμοί τε αὐτοὺς ἔλουον καὶ πηγαὶ καὶ χαμευνίαν ἐπήσκουν οἱ μὲν ἐπὶ βυρσῶν ἐκταθέντες, οἱ δ’ εὐνὰς ἀμήσαντες ἐκ λειμώνων. σιτία δὲ αὐτοῖς αἵ τε μᾶζαι καὶ τῶν ἄρτων οἱ ἄπτιστοι καὶ μὴ ζυμῆται καὶ τῶν κρεῶν τὰ βόειά τε καὶ ταύρεια καὶ τράγεια τούτους ἔβοσκε καὶ δόρκοι κότινου τε <καὶ> φυλίας ἔχριον αὑτοὺς λίπα· ὅθεν ἄνοσοί τε ἤσκουν καὶ ὀψὲ ἐγήρασκον. ἠγωνίζοντό τε οἱ μὲν ὀκτὼ Ὀλυμπιάδας, οἱ δὲ ἐννέα καὶ ὁπλιτεύειν ἀγαθοὶ ἦσαν ἐμάχοντό τε ὑπὲρ τειχῶν οὐδὲ ἐκεῖ πίπτοντες, ἀλλὰ ἀριστείων τε ἀξιούμενοι καὶ τροπαίων, καὶ μελέτην ποιούμενοι πολεμικὰ μὲν γυμναστικῶν, γυμναστικὰ δὲ πολεμικῶν ἔργα.


A Pejorative Term

Wendell Clausen (1923-2006), "Philology," Comparative Literature Studies 27.1 (1990) 13-15 (at 13-14, ellipse marks in original):
Anyone who speaks about philology today must be aware that it has become, for many, a pejorative term, even a term of abuse; at the very least, an adverse relation seems to be implied: philology and ... literary criticism or theory. Such a contrast — I am thinking especially, though not exclusively, of Greek and Latin literature — is not only futile, it is subversive; for philology is the basis of literary criticism. Too often philology has been humbled and identified with one or another of its components — with grammar (say) or textual criticism — and its original high purpose forgotten, which is, as it has been since the time of the scholars and poet-scholars of Alexandria, literary criticism — in Quintilian's phrase, poetarum enarratio, the detailed interpretation of the poets.

We are all of us natural philologists, growing up in our language, hearing, speaking, for the most part hardly even noticing it, so natural does it seem. But in Greek or Latin, in attempting to hear a "dead" language, we are deprived of the living voice; and it is the office of philology to supply our want of natural sensibility.

At the end of World War II, in 1945, a short book was published in Sweden, Unpoetische Wörter by Bertil Axelson, the importance of which, partly owing to circumstances, was only gradually recognized. Axelson undertook to answer an apparently simple question — in fact, a brilliant negative question: what words metrically available to the Latin poets did they avoid using? Unpoetic words: words unsuitable, presumably because of tone or connotation, to a certain genre of poetry, to poetry of a certain period, or altogether unsuitable. I remember still my surprise and dismay on first reading Axelson as a young scholar; for I was made to realize that I was not, after all, as I had fondly imagined, a Roman. The philologist, the classical scholar, must always be contemplating an imagined reality, an Italy of the mind, with the broken statues standing on the shore.
Related post: Term of Abuse.


I Live Like an Old Man

Jules Renard, Journal (March 2, 1905; tr. Louise Bogan and Elizabeth Roget):
I live like an old man. I read the papers a little, a few pieces out of books, I set down a few notes, I keep warm, and, often, I nap.

Je vis comme un vieux. Je lis un peu des journaux, des morceaux choisis, j'écris quelques notes, je me chauffe et, souvent, je sommeille.

Saturday, December 09, 2017


Unpublished Verses by J.K. Stephen

Inscription by J.K. Stephen (1859-1892) in a copy of his Lapsus Calami (Cambridge: Macmillan and Bowes, 1891) given to Charles Waldstein (1856-1927), transcribed by Christopher Stray from Waldstein's papers and books in Lausanne (line numbers added):
He can't keep away from the bottle
    And he thinks that he knows how to ride
But he found where the late Aristotle
    And his Biote calmly abide

The whiskey wanes fast in his cellar,        5
    He is sadly addicted to sleep;
But he isn't a bad sort of fellow,
    And his learning is certainly deep.

H​e​ isn't exactly a German
    And he is but a Yankee at heart;        10
But he preaches a beautiful sermon
    And lectures to women on art.

He possesses a great deal of knowledge
    And expresses opinions with zest:
But there isn't a man in the College        15
    Who is more to the taste of the rest.

3-4 (he found where the late Aristotle / And his Biote calmly abide): see Charles Waldstein, "The Finding of the Tomb of Aristotle," Century Magazine 44.3 (July, 1892) 414-426, and Inscriptiones Graecae XII,9 564 (Euboia, Eretria, 3rd century B.C.) — [Β]ιότη [Ἀ]ριστοτέλου. See also Edith Hall, "Another Non-Tomb of Aristotle," The Edithorial (26 May 2016).

9-10 (H​e​ isn't exactly a German / And he is but a Yankee at heart): Waldstein was born in New York City, the son of German immigrants.

12 (lectures to women on art): "The use of 'women' is interesting. 'Lectures to ladies' was a conventional title in Oxbridge from the early 1870s; JKS is being rougher, man to man." (Christopher Stray)

15 (the College): King's College, Cambridge, which was also J.K. Stephen's college.

Thanks to Christopher Stray for permission to print these verses, and to Ian Jackson, who suggests that Stephen may have been influenced by "How pleasant to know Mr. Lear."


Motto for a Curmudgeon

Dear Mike,

"extra iocum moneo te, quod pertinere ad beate vivendum arbitror, ut cum viris bonis, iucundis, amantibus tui vivas. nihil est aptius vitae, nihil ad beate vivendum accommodatius."

This from a man who, equally 'extra iocum' writes to Atticus: "odi enim celebritatem, fugio homines, lucem aspicere vix possum." Perhaps he was just having a bad day.

Come to think of it, not a bad motto for a curmudgeon:


Best wishes,
Eric [Thomson]

In D.R. Shackleton Bailey's translation (Cicero, Letters to Atticus 3.7.1):
I hate crowds and shun my fellow creatures, I can hardly bear the light of day.


The Human Vomedy

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), "On Deviating into Sense," On the Margin: Notes & Essays (London: Chatto and Windus, 1923; rpt. 1928), pp. 81-86 (at 81-82):
No one will ever know the history of all the happy mistakes, the accidents and unconscious deviations into genius, that have helped to enrich the world's art. They are probably countless. I myself have deviated more than once into accidental felicities. Recently, for example, the hazards of careless typewriting caused me to invent a new portmanteau word of the most brilliantly Laforguian quality. I had meant to write the phrase "the Human Comedy," but, by a happy slip, I put my finger on the letter that stands next to "C" on the universal keyboard. When I came to read over the completed page I found that I had written "the Human Vomedy". Was there ever a criticism of life more succinct and expressive? To the more sensitive and queasy among the gods the last few years must indeed have seemed a vomedy of the first order.
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.

Friday, December 08, 2017


Dinner Parties

Cicero, Letters to Friends 9.24.3 (tr. D.R. Shackleton Bailey):
And really, my dear Paetus, all joking apart I advise you, as something which I regard as relevant to happiness, to spend time in honest, pleasant, and friendly company. Nothing becomes life better, or is more in harmony with its happy living. I am not thinking of physical pleasure, but of community of life and habit and of mental recreation, of which familiar conversation is the most effective agent; and conversation is at its most agreeable at dinner parties. In this respect our countrymen are wiser than the Greeks. They use words meaning literally 'co-drinkings' or 'co-dinings,' but we say 'co-livings,' because at dinner parties more than anywhere else life is lived in company.

et mehercule, mi Paete, extra iocum moneo te, quod pertinere ad beate vivendum arbitror, ut cum viris bonis, iucundis, amantibus tui vivas. nihil est aptius vitae, nihil ad beate vivendum accommodatius. nec id ad voluptatem refero sed ad communitatem vitae atque victus remissionemque animorum, quae maxime sermone efficitur familiari, qui est in conviviis dulcissimus, ut sapientius nostri quam Graeci; illi 'συμπόσια' aut 'σύνδειπνα,' id est compotationes aut concenationes, nos 'convivia,' quod tum maxime simul vivitur.


Newly Discovered Work by P.J. Enk

I never knew that Dutch classical scholar P.J. Enk (1885-1963) wrote a book about sex. From JSTOR:

The actual book reviewed by Clausen:
Sex. Propertii Elegiarum Liber Secundus. Edidit P.J. Enk. Pars Prior, Prolegomena et Textum Continens. Pp. 127. Pars Altera, Commentarium Continens. Pp. 482. Leiden, A.W. Sijthoff, 1962.
I.e. "Second Book of Sextus Propertius' Elegies," etc.



Ideal Commentary

Excerpt from a letter written by R.A.B. Mynors, quoted in Wendell Clausen, "Sir Roger Aubrey Baskerville Mynors: 28 July 1903, Wiltshire, England, 17 October 1989, Hereford, England," Vergilius 35 (1989) 3-7 (at 6):
My ideal commentary on a Latin author would quote exclusively from Latin Greek and English authors (other tongues if I knew enough) and never mention a modern author (other than Pauly Wissowa and Thes.) except where one has an obligation to acknowledge — grossly unprofessional conduct.


The Intellectual's Journey

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), Point Counter Point, chapter XXVI:
The course of every intellectual, if he pursues his journey long and unflinchingly enough, ends in the obvious, from which the non-intellectuals have never stirred.

Thursday, December 07, 2017



Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), "Vulgarity in Literature," Music at Night and Other Essays (London: Chatto & Windus, 1949; rpt. 1957), pp. 270-336 (at 317):
'Mysticism? What you mean is misty schism,' was the remark once made to a friend of mine (who moves, as I, alas, do not, in the highest ecclesiastical circles) by a more than ordinarily eminent Eminence. The pun is not a bad one and, like the best Irish bulls, is pregnant. For the literature of mysticism, which is a literature about the inexpressible, is for the most part misty indeed — a London fog, but coloured pink.


Hatred of Your Country

Silius Italicus 7.555-556 (tr. J.D. Duff):
To harbour wrath against your country is a sin; and no more heinous
crime can mortal man carry down to the shades below.

succensere nefas patriae; nec foedior ulla
culpa sub extremas fertur mortalibus umbras.


Moral Perfection

Jules Renard, Journal (May 16, 1905; tr. Louise Bogan and Elizabeth Roget):
Perhaps, if you were to become too perfect morally, you would become like that little stunted tree I see through my window, that no longer produces a single leaf.

Peut-être que, si l'on perfectionnait trop sa morale, on deviendrait comme ce petit arbre rabougri que je vois par la fenêtre de mon jardin et qui ne produit même plus une feuille.


I Creep Upon the Earth

A.E. Housman (1859-1936), M. Manilii Astronomicon Liber Quintus. Accedunt Addenda Libris I II III IV (London: The Richards Press, 1930), p. vii:
Unable to soar in the void, I creep upon the earth; and there I make the acquaintance of stony facts.
Id., p. xxv:
Breiter's chief purpose was to explain for novices the astrology of the poem, but his knowledge of the subject was neither original nor adequate. Verbal interpretation is often lacking, critical discussion is generally shunned, and Latinity gets little attention. Falsehoods, blunders of every sort and size, self-contradictions, misinterpretations, miscalculations, misquotations and misprints leave few pages undisfigured.
Id., p. xxvii:
The Latin commentary was separately published in 1921 with no small magnificence by the royal academy of sciences at Amsterdam. What it most resembles is a magpie's nest. With the rarest exceptions, all that it contains of any value, whether interpretation or illustration, is taken from others, and usually without acknowledgment. A reader new to the author and the editor might mistake van Wageningen for a man of learning; but with my knowledge of both I can trace every stolen penny to the pouch it came from.
Id., pp. xxxiii-xxxiv:
'Operam maximam eamque satis fastidiosam posui in primo emendationis cuiusque auctore inuestigando'. I am one of the few who can echo these words of Lachmann's: most editors have souls above such things, and some of them so much prefer error to knowledge that even when we patient drudges have ascertained the facts for them they continue to disseminate misinformation. There is another set of facts which I am almost alone in commemorating, for it is desired to suppress them. Many a reading discovered by conjecture has afterwards been confirmed by the authority of mss; and I record the occurrence, as instructive, instead of concealing it, as deplorable. The resistance of conservatives to true emendation is perpetual, and to enjoy credit in the future they must obliterate their past. When therefore a conjecture has turned out to be a manuscript reading, and they have gnashed their teeth and accepted it as such, they try to make the world forget that they formerly condemned it on its merits. Its author, who bore the blame of its supposed falsehood, is denied mention after the establishment of its truth; and the history of scholarship is mutilated to save the face of those who have impeded progress.
Id., p. xxxv:
It surprises me that so many people should feel themselves qualified to weigh conjectures in their balance and to pronounce them good or bad, probable or improbable. Judging an emendation requires in some measure the same qualities as emendation itself, and the requirement is formidable. To read attentively, think correctly, omit no relevant consideration, and repress self-will, are not ordinary accomplishments; yet an emendator needs much besides: just literary perception, congenial intimacy with the author, experience which must have been won by study, and mother wit which he must have brought from his mother's womb.

It may be asked whether I think that I myself possess this outfit, or even most of it; and if I answer yes, that will be a new example of my notorious arrogance. I had rather be arrogant than impudent. I should not have undertaken to edit Manilius unless I had believed that I was fit for the task; and in particular I think myself a better judge of emendation, both when to emend and how to emend, than most others.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017


Mind and Body

Lucretius, On the Nature of Things 3.445-454 (tr. W.H.D. Rouse, rev. Martin F. Smith):
Besides, we feel that the mind is begotten along with the body, and grows up with it, and with it grows old. For as toddling children have a body infirm and tender, so a weak intelligence goes with it. Next, when their age has grown up into robust strength, the understanding too and the power of the mind is enlarged. Afterwards, when the body is now wrecked with the mighty strength of time, and the frame has succumbed with blunted strength, the intellect limps, the tongue babbles, the intelligence totters, all is wanting and fails at the same time.

praeterea gigni pariter cum corpore et una        445
crescere sentimus pariterque senescere mentem.
nam velut infirmo pueri teneroque vagantur
corpore, sic animi sequitur sententia tenvis;
inde ubi robustis adolevit viribus aetas,
consilium quoque maius et auctior est animi vis;        450
post ubi iam validis quassatum est viribus aevi
corpus et obtusis ceciderunt viribus artus,
claudicat ingenium, delirat lingua, <labat> mens,
omnia deficiunt atque uno tempore desunt.

453 labat add. Lachmann (vagat Palmer, meat Merrill)
Ettore Paratore on 448: "nota la consonantizzazione della u in tenuis per ragioni metriche."


Accuracy and Dupery

A.E. Housman (1859-1936), M. Manilii Astronomicon Liber Quintus. Accedunt Addenda Libris I II III IV (London: The Richards Press, 1930), pp. 105-106:
I did not praise Bechert's accuracy, because accuracy is a duty and not a virtue; but if I could have foreseen the shameful carelessness of Breiter and van Wageningen I should have said with emphasis, as I do now, that he was very accurate indeed.
Id., p. 112 (footnote):
It is not my business to run about saving dupes from dupery.



J. Enoch Powell (1912-1998), Greek in the University. Inaugural Lecture to the University of Sydney, May 7th, 1938 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1938), page number unknown:
But this I am prepared to assert: that it is possible for any pass-student to take away from a course in Greek, not only some insight into the process of reasoning by which sound judgements about a text may be arrived at, but in general a disposition to treat statements on their own merits and not on those of the authorities from whom they emanate, an eye sharpened to detect special pleading, false argumentation and hocus-pocus, and a healthy freedom from the prevalent though often entirely subconscious superstition that the printed word and the established opinion have some mysterious and inherent claim to be believed.
I'm not sure that a course in Greek will instill all of these virtues, but (to my mind at least) they are virtues worth having. The lecture is reprinted in Reflections of a Statesman: The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (London: Bellew, 1991), pp. 87-96. I haven't seen either this book or the original lecture.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017


Words and Deeds

Libanius, Orations 30.21 (tr. A.F. Norman):
And if they prate to me of the teachings of the scriptures that they profess to obey, I will counter them with the despicable acts they have committed.

εἰ δέ μοι γράμματα λέγουσιν ἀπὸ βίβλων αἷς φασιν ἐμμένειν, ἐγὼ τὰ πράγματα ἀντιθήσω τὰ παρὰ φαῦλον ἐκείνοις πεποιημένα.

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