Saturday, February 17, 2018
Between the Thighs
Konstantinos Kapparis, Prostitution in the Ancient Greek World (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2018), p. 198:
The absurd concept of intercrural sex initially developed by Dover on the basis of a few vase paintings and scarce references to the term διαμηρίζειν has found an unexpected amount of support.135 It is astonishing that such weak and unsafe evidence has been considered sufficient to declare intercrural sex to be universal practice and the ideal form of Greek homosexual love. At the same time it is noteworthy that the only instance in which "taking apart the thighs" (διαμηρίζειν) appears in classical Greek literature it refers to heterosexual sex, and may simply imply intercourse in the missionary position.136 Several references in a male-to-male context come from authors of later antiquity, and even in those instances "taking the thights [sic, read thighs] apart" does not inevitably indicate intercrural intercourse.137 These scant and problematic references suggest that intercrural contact on occasion might have been one possible hypotonic and somewhat unsatisfactory avenue of sexual gratification, but it certainly would not have been worth a long pursuit, lavish gifts, and the fuss which ancient sources make over same sex relations. If anything, Athenian men were never that desperate for sex, having a large and diverse prostitutional market at their disposal, and slaves to satisfy their whims. Moreover, if intercrural sex had been this universal and morally superior practice in homosexual love, the one associated with the Uranian Aphrodite, as Kenneth Dover, Harald Patzer and others have suggested, we should have expected to hear a lot more about it in classical sources. This forced interpretation of such scanty evidence is fueled by modern taboos about anal intercourse, domination, penetration and shame, which the ancient world obviously did not share.Evidence might be scanty, but that is all the more reason to make the most of what little there is. For example, Kapparis' "only instance" of διαμηρίζειν in classical Greek literature actually turns out to be three instances, all in Aristophanes' Birds. Two of the examples refer to girls (669, 1274) and one to boys (706), a fact noticed by Hesychius of Alexandria, who in his Lexicon, s.v. διαμηρίσαι, says τοῦτο καὶ ἐπὶ παίδων ἀρρένων καὶ θηλείων ἔλεγον, i.e. they used to say this about both boys and girls.
135 Dover 1978: 100-109; Halperin 88-112.
136 Ar. Av. 1254, where Pisthetairos is threatening to give Iris a demonstration of how stiff his penis can get despite his old age.
137 Some of these references are reported as quotes from classical authors like Zenon and Kleanthes: Zenon fr. 250-252 von Arnim = S.E.M. 190; Kleanthes fr. 613 von Arnim = D.L. 7.172.
As for Kapparis' contention that intercrural sex would not have been worth "lavish gifts," it so happens that gifts are mentioned in one of the aforementioned passages from Aristophanes' Birds (lines 705-707, the chorus of birds speaking, tr. Jeffrey Henderson):
Many are the fair boys who swore they wouldn't, and almost made it to the end of their eligible bloom, but thanks to our power men in love did get between their thighs, one with the gift of a quail, another with a porphyrion, a goose, or a Persian bird.I have read only one page of Kapparis' book, the page quoted above, and my remarks are just nit-picking,
πολλοὺς δὲ καλοὺς ἀπομωμοκότας παῖδας πρὸς τέρμασιν ὥρας
διὰ τὴν ἰσχὺν τὴν ἡμετέραν διεμήρισαν ἄνδρες ἐρασταί,
ὁ μὲν ὄρτυγα δούς, ὁ δὲ πορφυρίων᾿, ὁ δὲ χῆν᾿, ὁ δὲ Περσικὸν ὄρνιν.
References to most of the relevant ancient linguistic evidence can be found in Diccionario Griego-Español, Vol. V (1997; rpt. Madrid: Instituto de Filología, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, 2008), p. 1007, col. 3:
διαμηρίδιον, -ου, τό sent. dud., quizá coito intercrural (cf. διαμήριον) o tal vez un tipo de tanga o taparrabos ζῶστρα καὶ διαμηρίδια ἐπὶ τῶν τὰ ἰσχυρὰ (prob. l. τὰ αἰσχρὰ) παιζόντων Hdn.Philet.207.Hat tip: Eric Thomson.
διαμηρίζω tr. abrir los muslos, abrir de piernas rel. relaciones sexuales ἐγὼ διαμηρίζοιμ' ἂν αὐτὴν ἡδέως Ar.Au.669, cf. 1254, ref. tb. al amor efébico (cf. διαμήριον): πολλοὺς δὲ καλοὺς ... παῖδας διεμήρισαν ἄνδρες ἐρασταί Ar.Au.706, παιδικά Zeno Stoic.1.59, τὸν ἐρώμενον Zeno Stoic.1.59, cf. Phld.Sto.15.8, Hsch.
διαμήριον prob. coito intercrural ἀπόδος τὸ διαμήριον déjame masturbarme entre tus muslos en un vaso, en boca de un hombre que se dirige a un jovencito ABV 664 (arc.).
διαμηρισμός, -οῦ, ὁ práctica del coito intercrural plu., como tema de una parte de la Πολιτεία de Zenón, Zeno Stoic.1.59, σὺ μὲν τοὺς διαμηρισμοὺς ἔχε, μειράκιον Cleanth.Stoic.1.137.
Related post: Diogenes Laertius 7.172.
The America of Antiquity
The term "countryside" implies soil transformed by labor; but the scrub clinging to the slopes was still in the very same state of scented tangle in which it had been found by Phoenicians, Dorians, and Ionians when they disembarked in Sicily, that America of antiquity.
Nel termine "campagna" è implicito un senso di terra trasformata dal lavoro: la boscaglia invece, aggrappata alle pendici di un colle, si trovava nell'identico stato d'intrico aromatico nel quale la avevano trovata Fenici, Dori e Ioni quando sbarcarono in Sicilia, quest'America dell'antichità.
Friday, February 16, 2018
Xenocrates, Phryne, and Lais
He spent most of his time in the Academy; and whenever he was going to betake himself to the city, it is said that all the noisy rabble and hired porters made way for him as he passed. And that once the notorious Phryne tried to make his acquaintance and, as if she were being chased by some people, took refuge under his roof; that he admitted her out of ordinary humanity and, there being but one small couch in the room, permitted her to share it with him, and at last, after many importunities, she retired without success, telling those who inquired that he whom she quitted was not a man but a statue. Another version of the story is that his pupils induced Lais to invade his couch; and that so great was his endurance that he many times submitted to amputation and cautery.Bill Thayer pointed out to me that this translation omits περὶ τὸ αἰδοῖον (around the private parts). Bill also rightly questioned "many times" (πολλάκις) in conjunction with "amputation" (τομὰς). How many times, after all, can someone's private parts be amputated? I wonder if the cuttings might have been far less than amputation, e.g. nicks with a knife in order to subdue the sexual impulse. Of course the story, at least as far as Lais is concerned, is apocryphal, because chronology makes it impossible. I might translate as follows:
διῆγέ τ᾿ ἐν Ἀκαδημείᾳ τὰ πλεῖστα· καὶ εἴ ποτε μέλλοι εἰς ἄστυ ἀνιέναι, φασὶ τοὺς θορυβώδεις πάντας καὶ προυνίκους ὑποστέλλειν αὐτοῦ τῇ παρόδῳ. καί ποτε καὶ Φρύνην τὴν ἑταίραν ἐθελῆσαι πειρᾶσαι αὐτόν, καὶ δῆθεν διωκομένην ὑπό τινων καταφυγεῖν εἰς τὸ οἰκίδιον. τὸν δὲ ἕνεκα τοῦ ἀνθρωπίνου εἰσδέξασθαι, καὶ ἑνὸς ὄντος κλινιδίου δεομένῃ μεταδοῦναι τῆς κατακλίσεως· καὶ τέλος πολλὰ ἐκλιπαροῦσαν ἄπρακτον ἀναστῆναι. λέγειν τε πρὸς τοὺς πυνθανομένους ὡς οὐκ ἀπ᾿ ἀνδρός, ἀλλ᾿ ἀπ᾿ ἀνδριάντος ἀνασταίη. ἔνιοι δὲ Λαΐδα φασὶ παρακατακλῖναι αὐτῷ τοὺς μαθητάς· τὸν δὲ οὕτως εἶναι ἐγκρατῆ, ὥστε καὶ τομὰς καὶ καύσεις πολλάκις ὑπομεῖναι περὶ τὸ αἰδοῖον.
... so great was his endurance that he many times submitted to cuttings and burnings around his private parts.Valerius Maximus 4.3 ext. 3a (tr. D.R. Shackleton Bailey) tells only the anecdote about Phryne:
We are told that Xenocrates' old age was equally abstemious, and the following story will be no small argument in support of that opinion. Phryne, a celebrated courtesan in Athens, lay at an all-night revel by his side when he was heavy with wine, having made a wager with some young men that she would be able to seduce his temperance. He did not rebuff her either with touch or words, but let her stay in his arms as long as she wished and then let her go foiled of her purpose. An abstemious act of a mind steeped in wisdom, but the little whore's comment too was really amusing. For when the young men jeered at her because for all her beauty and chic she had not been able to cajole a drunken old man with her enticements and demanded the agreed price of their victory, she answered that she had made the bet with them about a man, not a statue. Can anyone put this continence on Xenocrates' part more truly and more aptly on view than the little whore expressed it herself?Here are some artistic representations of Xenocrates resisting temptation:
aeque abstinentis senectae Xenocraten fuisse accepimus. cuius opinionis non parva fides erit narratio quae sequetur. in pervigilio Phryne, nobile Athenis scortum, iuxta eum vino gravem accubuit, pignore cum quibusdam iuvenibus posito an temperantiam eius corrumpere posset. quam nec tactu nec sermone aspernatus, quoad voluerat in sinu suo moratam, propositi irritam dimisit. factum sapientia imbuti animi abstinens, sed meretriculae quoque dictum perquam facetum: deridentibus enim se adulescentibus, quod tam formosa tamque elegans poti senis animum illecebris pellicere non potuisset, pactumque victoriae pretium flagitantibus, de homine se cum iis, non de statua pignus posuisse respondit. potestne haec Xenocratis continentia a quoquam magis vere magisque proprie demonstrari quam ab ipsa meretricula expressa est?
- Diogenes Laertius 7.172
- A Bowdlerized Passage in the Loeb Classical Library
- Diogenes Laertius Expurgatus
Surveillance by Big Brother
Do you think that there is a man among us who does not know what you did last night or the night before last, where you were, whom you summoned to your meeting, what decision you reached?Id. 1.6:
quid proxima, quid superiore nocte egeris, ubi fueris, quos convocaveris, quid consili ceperis quem nostrum ignorare arbitraris?
Furthermore, although you will not be aware of them, there will be, as there have been in the past, many eyes and ears observing you and keeping watch upon you.
multorum te etiam oculi et aures non sentientem, sicut adhuc fecerunt, speculabuntur atque custodient.
Related post: The Surveillance State.
Thursday, February 15, 2018
Diogenes Laertius 7.172
φησὶ δ᾿ ὁ Ἑκάτων ἐν ταῖς Χρείαις, εὐμόρφου μειρακίου εἰπόντος, "εἰ ὁ εἰς τὴν γαστέρα τύπτων γαστρίζει, καὶ ὁ εἰς τοὺς μηροὺς τύπτων μηρίζει," ἔφη, "σὺ μέντοι τοὺς διαμηρισμοὺς ἔχε, μειράκιον· αἱ δ᾿ ἀνάλογοι φωναὶ τὰ ἀνάλογα οὐ πάντως σημαίνουσι πράγματα."Here Hicks departs from English into the decent obscurity of Latin. The camouflage persists in the Digital Loeb Classical Library. Even Liddell-Scott-Jones take refuge in Latin when defining διαμηρίζω (femora diducere, inire) and διαμηρισμός (femorum diductio).
Dicit autem Hecato in Sententiis eum, cum adulescens quidam formosus dixisset, Si pulsans ventrem ventrizat, pulsans coxas coxizat, dixisse, Tibi habeas, adulescens, coxizationes: nempe vocabula quae conveniunt analogia non semper etiam significatione conveniunt.
The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laërtius. Literally Translated by C.D. Yonge (London: George Bell and Sons, 1901), p. 324, has the following:
Hecaton tells us in his Apophthegms, that once when a young man said, "If a man who beats his stomach γαστρίζει then a man who slaps his thigh μηρίζει," he replied, "Do you stick to your διαμηρίζει." But analogous words do not always indicate analogous facts.Here is my attempt at a translation:
According to Hecato in his Apophthegms, when a good-looking young man said, "If a man striking against the stomach stomachizes, so also a man striking against the thighs thighizes," Cleanthes replied, "By all means accept inter-thighizings, young man; but similar words don't always denote similar things."K.J. Dover, Greek Homosexuality, updated ed. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989), p. 98 (footnotes omitted), explains the meaning of διαμηρίζω:
When courtship has been successful, the erastes and eromenos stand facing one another; the erastes grasps the eromenos round the torso, bows his head on to or even below the shoulder of the eromenos, bends his knees and thrusts his penis between the eromenos's thighs just below the scrotum. Examples are: B114*, B130, B250*, B482, B486*, B534, R502*, R573*, in all of which the erastes is a man and the eromenos a youth....The original specific word for this type of copulation was almost certainly diamērizein, i.e. 'do ... between the thighs (mēroi) '. When we first encounter the word in Aristophanes' Birds it takes an object of either sex (male in 706, female in 669), and in 1254, where Peisetairos threatens Iris that he will 'stick [her] legs in the air' and diamērizein her, the reference is most naturally to any one of several modes of vaginal copulation from the front (cf. p. 101). The inscription on the bottom of B406, from the richest period of homosexual iconography, says apodos to diamērion, which is to be interpreted as 'grant me' (or 'pay me back') 'the act of diamērizein' (or 'payment for diamērizein') 'which you promised' (or 'which is my due').For B114 etc. see Dover, "List of Vases," pp. 207-227.
The fragment is number 25 in Heinz Gomoll, Der stoische Philosoph Hekaton. Seine Begriffswelt und Nachwirkung unter Beigaben seiner Fragmente (Leipzig: W. Hoppe, 1933), p. 113 (non vidi), and number XXIV in Harold N. Fowler, Panaetii et Hecatonis Librorum Fragmenta (Bonn, 1885), p. 62. See also Hans von Arnim, Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta, Vol. I (1905; rpt. Stuttgart: B.G. Teubner, 1964), p. 137 (number 613).
Hat tip: Bill Thayer.
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
For indeed I am afraid when I look upon the mindless,Strife here is civil strife, internal dissension (Liddell-Scott-Jones, s.v. στάσις, sense III.2, citing this passage: "faction, sedition, discord"). According to Liddell-Scott-Jones, λαοφθόρος is a hapax legomenon.
people-destroying strife of the Greeks.
ἦ γὰρ ἔγωγε δέδοικ᾿ ἀφραδίην ἐσορῶν
καὶ στάσιν Ἑλλήνων λαοφθόρον.
781 λαοφθόρον AC: -ων O
Because the conjunction καὶ joins the nouns ἀφραδίην and στάσιν, a more literal translation would be:
For indeed I am afraid when I look upon the thoughtlessness
and people-destroying strife of the Greeks.
People Who Don't Read
Today students read very little. Outside of what is required, they know nothing. They spend a lot of time tethered to their mobile phones and have almost no time left to read.Hat tip: Eric Thomson.
People who don't read are people of very limited understanding: they live in the prison of the present.
Ahora los alumnos leen muy poco. Fuera de lo que es obligatorio, no saben nada. Pasan mucho tiempo dedicados al móvil y no les queda casi nada para leer.
La gente que no lee es gente de mentalidad muy reducida: viven en la prisión del presente.
Related post: Reading Books.
"They are talking across the encrypted messages on Threema about killing the then Prime Pinister and the Queen."Screen capture:
I confess that the British political system has always mystified me. Is there really an official known as the Prime Pinister? What is his portfolio?
Labels: typographical and other errors
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
The Ideal University Education
Borrowing and utilising an idea of the Newnham scholar Jane Harrison, I would offer as the ideal university education, apart entirely from any vocational considerations, the following curriculum of study: Latin, and some one modern Romance language, preferably perhaps Italian; Greek, and the modern language of that country which stands in the same relation to Byzantium as we of the West of Europe do to Rome, namely, Russian....Nourished from seventeen to twenty-one upon this fare, our ideal student would be in a position to become a man of true culture and a good European, a 'guter Europäer' in the sense in which Nietzsche coined that term.
Master of My Fate, Captain of My Soul
Yet here is a curious fact. Battered by natural forces and surrounded by enemies, the Crow managed to wrest from existence his portion of happiness. Ask an Indian of the old school whether he prefers modern security to the days of his youth: he will brush aside all recent advantages for a whiff of the buffalo-hunting days. If there was starvation then, there were buffalo tongues, too,—supreme among earthly dishes; if you were likely to be killed, you had a chance to gain glory. What is a Crow to look forward to nowadays? Shall he enter unequal competition with white farmers? And his sister aspire to wash the laundry of frontier towns? Under the old régime, harassed as he might be, the Crow was owner of his soul.
I should be surprised if such qualified readers, making the acquaintance of Euclid for the first time, did not find it fascinating, a book to be read in bed or on a holiday, a book as difficult as any detective story to lay down when once begun. I know of one actual case, that of an undergraduate at Cambridge suddenly presented with a copy of Euclid, where this happened.
Thanks to Eric Thomson for drawing my attention to Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), Autobiography (London: Routledge, 2010), p. 25:
At the age of eleven, I began Euclid, with my brother as my tutor. This was one of the great events of my life, as dazzling as first love. I had not imagined there was anything so delicious in the world.and George Sturt (1863-1927), A Small Boy in the Sixties (Horsham, Sussex: Caliban Books, 1982), p. 238:
But I was never a mathematician; and when at last I revelled in Euclid the admiration it excited was of an unexpected kind. It was such clean and agile brain work. Though I could not exercise on the horizontal bar, I liked climbing over the Pons Asinorum; and if I shed tears over the Thirteenth Proposition, it was because its clearness suggested to me that there must be something more in it, which I was missing altogether. I never got far into Third Book; but the Second Book charmed me through and through. It seemed so shapely, so perfect; faultless as the "cuttle-bones" on Bognor beach, or as the sparrow's skull in my museum; or as the cast of Greek sculpture at the School of Art. It had its own ﬁnished and unimpeachable beauty.
Monday, February 12, 2018
Juvenal was a bred-in-the-bone rentier, with all the characteristics of his class: contempt for trade, indifference to practical skills, intense political conservatism, with a corresponding fear of change and revolution; abysmal ignorance of, and indifference to, the economic realities governing his existence; a tendency to see all problems, therefore, in over-simplified moral terms, with the application of right conduct to existing authority as a kind of panacea for all ills.Without being a rentier (Oxford English Dictionary: "A person who derives his or her income from property or investment"), I possess some of the same characteristics.
Dear Zeus, I'm surprised at you. You are lord over all, you alone have great power and prestige, you know well the mind and heart of every man, and your rule, king, is the highest of all. How then, son of Cronus, does your mind bear to hold sinners and the just man in the same esteem, whether the mind of men is disposed to prudent discretion or to wanton outrage, when they yield to unjust acts?
Ζεῦ φίλε, θαυμάζω σε· σὺ γὰρ πάντεσσιν ἀνάσσεις
τιμὴν αὐτὸς ἔχων καὶ μεγάλην δύναμιν,
ἀνθρώπων δ᾿ εὖ οἶσθα νόον καὶ θυμὸν ἑκάστου, 375
σὸν δὲ κράτος πάντων ἔσθ᾿ ὕπατον, βασιλεῦ·
πῶς δή σευ, Κρονίδη, τολμᾷ νόος ἄνδρας ἀλιτροὺς
ἐν ταὐτῇ μοίρῃ τόν τε δίκαιον ἔχειν,
ἤν τ᾿ ἐπὶ σωφροσύνην τρεφθῇ νόος ἤν τε πρὸς ὕβριν
ἀνθρώπων, ἀδίκοις ἔργμασι πειθομένων; 380
Sunday, February 11, 2018
A Drug to Ward Off Old Age
It is said that Prometheus stole fire, and the story goes that Zeus was angered and bestowed upon those who laid information of the theft a drug to ward off old age. So they took it, as I am informed, and placed it upon an ass. The ass proceeded with the load on its back; and it was summer time, and the ass came thirsting to a spring in its need for a drink. Now the snake which was guarding the spring tried to prevent it and force it back, and the ass in torment gave it as the price of the loving-cup the drug that it happened to be carrying. And so there was an exchange of gifts: the ass got his drink and the snake sloughed his old age, receiving in addition, so the story goes, the ass's thirst.Nicander, Theriaca 343-358 (tr. A.F. Scholfield):
τὸν Προμηθέα κλέψαι τὸ πῦρ ἡ φήμη φησί, καὶ τὸν Δία ἀγανακτῆσαι ὁ μῦθος λέγει καὶ τοῖς καταμηνύσασι τὴν κλοπὴν δοῦναι φάρμακον γήρως ἀμυντήριον. τοῦτο οὖν ἐπὶ ὄνῳ θεῖναι τοὺς λαβόντας πέπυσμαι. καὶ τὸν μὲν προϊέναι τὸ ἄχθος φέροντα, εἶναι δὲ ὥραν θέρειον, καὶ διψῶντα τὸν ὄνον ἐπί τινα κρήνην κατὰ τὴν τοῦ ποτοῦ χρείαν ἐλθεῖν. τὸν οὖν ὄφιν τὸν φυλάττοντα ἀναστέλλειν αὐτὸν καὶ ἀπελαύνειν, καὶ ἐκεῖνον στρεβλούμενον μισθόν οἱ τῆς φιλοτησίας δοῦναι ὅπερ οὖν ἔτυχε φέρων φάρμακον. οὐκοῦν ἀντίδοσις γίνεται, καὶ ὁ μὲν πίνει, ὁ δὲ τὸ γῆρας ἀποδύεται, προσεπιλαβὼν ὡς λόγος τὸ τοῦ ὄνου δίψος.
Now there is a tale of ancient days current among men how, when the first-born seed of Cronus became lord of heaven, he apportioned to his brothers severally their illustrious realms, and in his wisdom bestowed upon mortals Youth, honouring them because they had denounced the Fire-Stealer. The fools, they got no good of their imprudence: for being sluggards and growing weary, they entrusted the gift to an ass for carriage, and the beast, his throat burning with thirst, ran off skittishly, and seeing in its hole the deadly, trailing brute, implored it with fawning speech to aid him in his sore plight. Whereat the snake asked of the foolish creature as a gift the load which he had taken on his back; and the ass refused not its request. Ever since then do trailing reptiles slough their skin in old age, but grievous end attends mortals. The affliction of thirst did the deadly brute receive from the braying ass, and imparts it with its feeble blows.Note the acrostic showing the poet's name, formed by the letters at the beginning of lines 345-353.
ὠγύγιος δ' ἄρα μῦθος ἐν αἰζηοῖσι φορεῖται,
ὡς, ὁπότ' οὐρανὸν ἔσχε Κρόνου πρεσβίστατον αἷμα,
Νειμάμενος κασίεσσιν ἑκὰς περικυδέας ἀρχάς 345
Ιδμοσύνῃ, νεότητα γέρας πόρεν ἡμερίοισι
Κυδαίνων· δὴ γάρ ῥα πυρὸς ληίστορ' ἔνιπτον.
Αφρονες· οὐ μὲν τῆς γε κακοφραδίῃς ἀπόνηντο·
Νωθεῖ γὰρ κάμνοντες ἀμορβεύοντο λεπάργῳ
Δῶρα· πολύσκαρθμος δὲ κεκαυμένος αὐχένα δίψῃ 350
Ρώετο, γωλειοῖσι δ' ἰδὼν ὁλκήρεα θῆρα
Οὐλοὸν ἐλλιτάνευε κακῇ ἐπαλαλκέμεν ἄτῃ
Σαίνων· αὐτὰρ ὁ βρῖθος, ὃ δή ῥ' ἀνεδέξατο νώτοις,
ᾔτεεν ἄφρονα δῶρον, ὁ δ' οὐκ ἀπανήνατο χρειώ.
ἐξότε γηραλέον μὲν ἀεὶ φλόον ἑρπετὰ βάλλει 355
ὁλκήρη, θνητοὺς δὲ κακὸν περὶ γῆρας ὀπάζει·
νοῦσον δ' ἀζαλέην βρωμήτορος οὐλομένη θήρ
δέξατο, καί τε τυπῇσιν ἀμυδροτέρῃσιν ἰάπτει.
See Malcolm Davies, "The ancient Greeks on why mankind does not live forever," Museum Helveticum 44.2 (1987) 65-75.
Seven Against Thebes
Seven champions simultaneously assault the seven gates of the city, where each is faced by a matching champion and laid low. This is obviously an artificial scheme. It is unlikely that any Mycenaean citadel ever had seven gates. The principles of fortification were based on the restriction of access points to the minimum. The hill on which Thebes lies has only three natural approaches. The late Bronze Age city, in the view of archaeological experts, can have had only three or four gates. Even if there had been seven, what general, supposing he happened to have precisely seven heroes at his disposal, would divide his forces equally between the gates instead of concentrating them at the weakest point of the defences?
Saturday, February 10, 2018
A Hard Bed
Someone used to say that coming into this life, we are like a man who lies down on a hard bed. He feels uncomfortable in it, cannot keep still, he tosses and turns a hundred times. In various ways he endeavors to smoothe out, to soften, etc., the bed, always trying and hoping to be able to rest and get to sleep until, not having slept or feeling rested at all, the hour comes when he has to get up. Such and for a similar reason is our restlessness in life, our natural and justified discontent with every state; the efforts and exertions, etc., of a thousand different kinds to make ourselves comfortable and to soften this bed of ours a little; hopes of happiness or at least of some repose, and death which arrives before our hopes come to anything.
Il tale diceva che noi venendo in questa vita, siamo come chi si corica in un letto duro e incomodo, che sentendovisi star male, non vi può star quieto, e però si rivolge cento volte da ogni parte, e proccura in vari modi di appianare, ammollire ec. il letto, cercando pur sempre e sperando di avervi a riposare e prender sonno, finché senz'aver dormito né riposato vien l'ora di alzarsi. Tale e da simil cagione è la nostra inquietudine nella vita, naturale e giusta scontentezza d'ogni stato; cure, studi ec. di mille generi per accomodarci e mitigare un poco questo letto; speranza di felicità o almen di riposo, e morte che previen l'effetto della speranza.
Do You Remember?
'This isn't how we expected to end up in the old days at Sens, when you wanted to write a critical history of philosophy, and I a great medieval novel about Nogent. I'd found the subject in Froissart: How Messire Brokars de Fénestranges and the Bishop of Troyes attacked Messire Eustache d'Ambrecicourt. Do you remember?'
And as they exhumed their youth, they asked each other after every sentence:
'Do you remember?'
They saw once more the school yard, the chapel, the parlour, the gymnasium at the bottom of the stairs, the faces of masters and boys...
— Ce n'est pas là ce que nous croyions devenir autrefois, à Sens, quand tu voulais faire une histoire critique de la Philosophie, et moi, un grand roman moyen âge sur Nogent, dont j'avais trouvé le sujet dans Froissart: Comment messire Brokars de Fénestranges et l'évêque de Troyes assaillirent messire Eustache d'Ambrecicourt. Te rappelles-tu?
Et, exhumant leur jeunesse, à chaque phrase, ils se disaient:
— Te rappelles-tu?
Ils revoyaient la cour du collège, la chapelle, le parloir, la salle d'armes au bas de l'escalier, des figures de pions et d'élèves...
Friday, February 09, 2018
I think the big shop is a bad shop. I think it bad not only in a moral but a mercantile sense; that is, I think shopping there is not only a bad action but a bad bargain. I think the monster emporium is not only vulgar and insolent, but incompetent and uncomfortable; and I deny that its large organization is efficient. Large organization is loose organization. Nay, it would be almost as true to say that organization is always disorganization. The only thing perfectly organic is an organism; like that grotesque and obscure organism called a man. He alone can be quite certain of doing what he wants; beyond him, every extra man may be an extra mistake. As applied to things like shops, the whole thing is an utter fallacy. Some things like armies have to be organized; and therefore do their very best to be well organized. You must have a long rigid line stretched out to guard a frontier; and therefore you stretch it tight. But it is not true that you must have a long rigid line of people trimming hats or tying bouquets, in order that they may be trimmed or tied neatly. The work is much more likely to be neat if it is done by a particular craftsman for a particular customer with particular ribbons and flowers. The person told to trim the hat will never do it quite suitably to the person who wants it trimmed; and the hundredth person told to do it will do it badly; as he does. If we collected all the stories from all the housewives and householders about the big shops sending the wrong goods, smashing the right goods, forgetting to send any sort of goods, we should behold a welter of inefficiency. There are far more blunders in a big shop than ever happen in a small shop, where the individual customer can curse the individual shopkeeper....I have begun these notes with a note on the big shops because they are things near to us and familiar to us all. I need not dwell on other and still more entertaining claims made for the colossal combination of departments. One of the funniest is the statement that it is convenient to get everything in the same shop. That is to stay, it is convenient to walk the length of the street, so long as you walk indoors, or more frequently underground, instead of walking the same distance in the open air from one little shop to another. The truth is that the monopolists' shops are really very convenient—to the monopolist. They have all the advantage of concentrating business as they concentrate wealth, in fewer and fewer of the citizens. Their wealth sometimes permits them to pay tolerable wages; their wealth also permits them to buy up better businesses and advertise worse goods. But that their own goods are better nobody has ever even begun to show; and most of us know any number of concrete cases where they are definitely worse.
Courtship and Marriage Aids
Writing to Strachan — who could not be present — on the morning of his wedding, Powell said he had sat up the previous night 're-reading Ovid's Ars Amatoria. This and Catullus have already stood me in good stead.'124SP = unpublished papers of Michael Strachan.
124 SP: Letter from Powell to Michael Strachan, 2 January 1952.
Thursday, February 08, 2018
Two Types of People
People who are always used to pouring everything out naturally let out a yell if a fly stings them, or if a vase tips over or breaks, even when they are on their own. Those who are used to their own company and hold everything in do not open their mouths to complain or to ask for help if something happens to them accidentally, even in a crowd.
Le persone avvezze a versarsi sempre al di fuori, esclamano naturalmente anche quando sono solissime, se una mosca le punge, o si versa loro un vaso o si spezza; quelle assuefatte a convivere con se medesime, e ritenersi tutte al di dentro, anche in grande compagnia, se si sentono cogliere da un accidente non aprono bocca per lamentarsi o chiedere aiuto.
Redistribution of Wealth
If every just man that now pines with want
Had but a moderate and beseeming share
Of that which lewdly-pamper'd Luxury 770
Now heaps upon som few with vast excess,
Natures full blessings would be well dispenc't
In unsuperfluous even proportion,
And she no whit encomber'd with her store.
Wednesday, February 07, 2018
New and Enormous Experiments
A great nation and civilization has followed for a hundred years or more a form of progress which held itself independent of certain old communications, in the form of ancient traditions about the land, the hearth, or the altar. It has advanced under leaders who were confident, not to say cocksure. They were quite sure that their economic rules were rigid, that their political theory was right, that their commerce was beneficent, that their parliaments were popular, that their press was enlightened, that their science was humane. In this confidence they committed their people to certain new and enormous experiments; to making their own independent nation an eternal debtor to a few rich men; to piling up private property in heaps on the faith of financiers; to covering their land with iron and stone and stripping it of grass and grain; to driving food out of their own country in the hope of buying it back again from the ends of the earth; to loading up their little island with iron and gold till it was weighted like a sinking ship; to letting the rich grow richer and fewer and the poor poorer and more numerous; to letting the whole world be cloven in two with a war of mere masters and mere servants; to losing every type of moderate prosperity and candid patriotism, till there was no independence without luxury and no labour without ugliness; to leaving the millions of mankind dependent on indirect and distant discipline and indirect and distant sustenance, working themselves to death for they knew not whom and taking the means of life from they knew not where; and all hanging on a thread of alien trade which grew thinner and thinner.
Learning by Heart
It may be added that he was led to his well-known theory of catch-words in Pindar by the practice of learning each ode by heart before commenting on it5.Walter Headlam (1866–1908), introduction to Herodas, The Mimes and Fragments (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1922), p. ix:
5 Biogr. Jahrb. 1894, 78-86.
The text has been difficult to restore and explain: it is not, when restored and explained, difficult to appreciate. At first critics were all puzzled, and the art is indeed of a new species. Still it is surprising and not encouraging that so many allusions have been left unexplained, considering that somewhere, if we can only find it, there exists the clue to a solution of them all. There is only one way: learn your author by heart—every word, and then set to work to read.
Tuesday, February 06, 2018
His interest in the Greek poets is exemplified in his able review of Hermann's edition of the Ajax7; a paper on the date and purpose of the Oedipus Coloneüs8; and two Königsberg programs on the Choral Odes and the Dialogue in Greek Tragedy, contending that the total number of lines assigned to each Chorus and each Dialogue, as well as the total number of the lines assigned to each actor, was divisible by seven,—a contention that has not been generally accepted.I think the references are to De choricis systematis tragicorum Graecorum libri quattuor (Berlin: Reimer, 1819) and De mensura tragoediarum liber singularis (Berlin: Reimer, 1822).
7 Kl. Schr. ii 1 f.
8 Kl. Schr. ii 18.
I'm reminded of the fantasies concerning the Golden Section ratio in George E. Duckworth, Structural Patterns and Proportions in Vergil's Aeneid (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1962).
Motto for an Italian Political Party?
To defend Italy, to thrust the foe from her borders.Italian elections will take place in less than a month, on March 4. Although I'm usually not much interested in politics, so great is my love for Italy that I've been following the news about this particular electoral contest with close attention. I may be misunderstanding the complicated issues, but it occurred to me that the quotation above could well serve as a motto for at least one of the Italian political parties, Lega Nord, which wants not only to restrict migration to Italy but also to deport migrants already in Italy (detrudere finibus hostem):
tutari Italiam, detrudere finibus hostem.
On second thought, maybe the line from Vergil wouldn't be a good political slogan. It's an example of indirect discourse, spoken by Turnus, and we all know what happened to Turnus and his cause. We should also remember what happened to another politician who quoted Vergil (Aeneid 6.86-87: bella, horrida bella / et Thybrim multo spumantem sanguine cerno) in an incendiary speech — he was immediately removed from office.
Monday, February 05, 2018
We shall be no shame to the realm, nor shall your renown be lightly told or the grace of such a deed grow faint, nor shall Ausonia repent of having welcomed Troy to her breast.Similarly Allen Mandelbaum translates gratia in line 232 as "graciousness."
non erimus regno indecores, nec vestra feretur
fama levis tantique abolescet gratia facti,
nec Troiam Ausonios gremio excepisse pigebit.
But I think T.E. Page in his commentary was correct: "gratitude for such a deed." So Frederick Ahl in his translation renders the word as "thanks." The commentaries of R.D. Williams and Nicholas Horsfall (at 7.232) don't discuss the word, but Horsfall in his translation has "gratitude." Cf. Vergil, Aeneid 4.539 (bene apud memores veteris stat gratia facti), where Fairclough and Goold render "gratitude for past kindness stands firm in their mindful hearts."
I know that grace in English can mean gratitude.
[T]he sun is on the sea and the fish are biting,Id.:
the garden is full, the fruit begins to fall.
For God's sake chuck it, join me and share my crust,
the world well lost. Make life a long week-end.
I have no wish to circle the globe,Id.:
have no desire to travel
beyond my chosen acre: would choose
to live in peace in one place
and make my life one stay:
there is much to unravel, and much to piece together.
I would pick up a shell and scan it for half a day,
wander the paths of childhood, traverse the way
that is lost for ever;
I would think of the living, so restless in their sleep,
I would dream of the dead with their quiet faces,
see in my little room
the world stretched on the great rack of doom.
Philosophers and priests and men of lettersRelated posts:
are the Devil's politicians on the stump,
gulling their betters,
history a running sore on Nature's rump,
the world a den of madmen.
- Jungles in Every Square Foot of Turf
- A Miniature Wilderness
- Enough for the Study of a Lifetime
- At My Own Doorstep
- Enough of Interest and Beauty
- It Is All Here
Sunday, February 04, 2018
Chief of Sinners
Insolent, impudent, angry-tempered, uncontrollable, unreflecting,
Lacking restraint and self-restriction, lacking a sense of right and honour,
Disbelieving and demented, disagreeable and unattractive,
Evil-minded: that's my nature.
petulans, protervo, iracundo animo, indomito, incogitato,
sine modo et modestia sum, sine bono iure atque honore,
incredibilis imposque animi, inamabilis, illepidus vivo,
malevolente ingenio natus.
I think myself more fortunate than all my fellow-citizens, in having the distinguished honor to be the first to stand in your Majesty's royal presence in a diplomatic character; and I shall esteem myself the happiest of men, if I can be instrumental in recommending my country more and more to your Majesty's royal benevolence, and of restoring an entire esteem, confidence, and affection, or, in better words, the old good nature and the old good humor between people, who, though separated by an ocean, and under different governments, have the same language, a similar religion, and kindred blood.Adams' phrase "the same language, a similar religion, and kindred blood" recalls Herodotus 8.144.2 (tr. Aubrey de Sélincourt):
Again, there is the Greek nation — the common blood, the common language; the temples and religious ritual; the whole way of life we understand and share together — indeed, if Athens were to betray all this it would not be well done.Related post: One United People (on John Jay and the same passage from Herodotus).
αὖτις δὲ τὸ Ἑλληνικὸν ἐὸν ὅμαιμόν τε καὶ ὁμόγλωσσον καὶ θεῶν ἱδρύματά τε κοινὰ καὶ θυσίαι ἤθεά τε ὁμότροπα, τῶν προδότας γενέσθαι Ἀθηναίους οὐκ ἂν εὖ ἔχοι.
Saturday, February 03, 2018
To the parallels to the interesting passage in Aucassin et Nicolette (VI, 26, ed. Suchier), in which Aucassin declares his preference of hell to heaven, there should be added the following story about Niccolò Machiavelli, quoted by Bayle (Dictionaire [sic] historique et critique, ed. Des Maizeaux, Amsterdam, 1734, vol. IV, p. 14, n. L) from the Jesuit Etienne Binet (Du Salut d'Origène, Paris, 1629, pp. 359-361): "On arriue à ce detestable poinct d'honneur, où arriua Machiauel sur la fin de sa vie: car il eut cette illusion peu deuant que rendre son esprit. Il vit vn tas de pauures gens, comme coquins, deschirez, affamez, contrefaits, fort mal en ordre, & en assez petit nombre, on luy dit que c'estoit ceux de Paradis, desquels il estoit escrit, Beati pauperes, quoniam ipsorum est regnum coelorum. Ceux-cy estans retirez, on fit paroistre vn nombre innombrable de personnages pleins de grauité & de majesté, on les voyoit comme vn Senat, où on traitoit d'affaires d'estat, & fort serieuses, il entrevid Platon, Aristote, Seneque, Plutarque, Tacite, & d'autres de cette qualité. Il demanda qui estoient ces Messieurs là si venerables, on luy dit que c'estoient les damnez, & que c'estoient des ames reprouuées du Ciel, Sapientia huius saeculi, inimica est Dei. Cela estant passé, on luy demanda desquels il vouloit estre. Il respondit, qu'il aymoit beaucoup mieux estre en enfer auec ces grands esprits, pour deuiser auec eux des affaires d'Estat, que d'estre auec cette vermine de ces belistres qu'on luy auoit fait voir. Et a tant il mourut, & alla voir comme vont les affaires d'Estat de l'autre monde."See the English translation of Bayle's Dictionary, Vol. VII (London: John Bettenham, 1738), p. 311 (notes omitted):
Another form of the story is mentioned by Bayle as occurring in the Epistolae of François and Jean Hotman. It is as follows: "Wolphius nuper Augustae mortuus, in suis Commentariis in Tuscul. quas anno superiore mihi donavit, Machiavellum scelerum, impietatum et flagitiorum magistrum appellat, ac testatur illum quodam loco scripsisse, sibi multo optabilius esse post mortem ad Inferos et diabolos detrudi, quàm in coelum ascendere. Nam hic nullos reperturum, nisi mendiculos et misellos quosdam Monachos, Heremitas, Apostolos; illic victurum se cum Cardinalibus, cum Papis, Regibus et Principibus" [Letter of François Hotman, December 28, 1580, in Francisci et Joannis Hotomanorum ... Epistolae, Amstelaedami, 1700].
They arrive at that detestable point of honour, which Machiavel reached a little before his death: for when he was just a dying he was seized with the following fancy. He saw a small company of poor scoundrels, all in rags, quite starved, ill-favoured, and in short in a very bad plight. He was told that these were the inhabitants of Paradise, of whom it is written, Beati pauperes, quoniam ipsorum est regnum coelorum. After these were retired, an infinite number of grave majestick personages appeared: they seemed sitting in senate, where they were canvassing of very important state affairs; there he saw Plato, Seneca, Plutarch, Tacitus, and others of the like characters. When he demanded who those venerable gentlemen were, he was informed that they were the damned, the souls of the reprobated, Sapientia hujus saeculi inimica est Dei. After this he was asked to which of those companies he would choose to belong. He answered he would much rather choose to be in hell with those great genius's, to converse with them about affairs of state, than be condemned to the company of such lousy scoundrels as they had presented to him before. With that he expired, and went to see how political affairs proceed in the other world." Spizelius gives us the substance of the same story; but it is otherwise related by some. They pretend that Machiavel in some one of his works, says, he would rather be sent to hell after his death, than go to Paradise; for, he adds, I should find nothing in heaven but a parcel of beggars, poor Monks, Hermits, and Apostles; but in hell I shall live with Popes, Cardinals, Kings and Princes. Francis Hotman testifies that this account is to be met with in Wolfius's comment upon Cicero's Tusculan questions...Related post: The Choice Between Heaven and Hell.
Friday, February 02, 2018
Proper Pursuits for Boys
Outside the city, boys and youths in their early bloom practise horsemanship, or break in teams amid the dust, or bend eager bows, or hurl with their arms tough darts, and challenge each other to race or box.Cf. John Milton, Of Education:
ante urbem pueri et primaevo flore iuventus
exercentur equis domitantque in pulvere currus,
aut acris tendunt arcus aut lenta lacertis
spicula contorquent, cursuque ictuque lacessunt.
The Exercise which I commend first, is the exact use of their Weapon, to guard and to strike safely with edge, or point; this will keep them healthy, nimble, strong, and well in breath, is also the likeliest means to make them grow large and tall, and to inspire them with a gallant and fearless courage, which being temper'd with seasonable Lectures and Precepts to them of true Fortitude and Patience, will turn into a native and heroick valour, and make them hate the cowardise of doing wrong. They must be also practiz'd in all the Locks and Gripes of Wrastling, wherein English men were wont to excell, as need may often be in fight to tugg or grapple, and to close.
[T]hey are by a sudden alarum or watch word, to be call'd out to their military motions, under skie or covert, according to the season, as was the Roman wont; first on foot, then as their age permits, on Horseback, to all the Art of Cavalry; That having in sport, but with much exactness, and daily muster, serv'd out the rudiments of their Souldiership in all the skill of Embattelling, Marching, Encamping, Fortifying, Besieging and Battering, with all the helps of ancient and modern stratagems, Tacticks and warlike maxims, they may as it were out of a long War come forth renowned and perfect Commanders in the service of their Country.
The pamphlet spreads, incessant hisses rise...
Thursday, February 01, 2018
 Everybody knows the nature of Rumour. It is in your literature:The Digital Loeb Classical Library has a mistake in the Latin (§ 8, tune for tunc):
Rumour, a curse, and swiftest of all curses.aWhy is Rumour a curse? Because she is swift? Because she is an informer? Or because she is generally a liar? Why, Rumour, even when she does bring a bit of truth, does not quite escape from her vice of lying; she subtracts from the Truth, adds to it, alters it.
 What? Surely the terms of her existence are that she only survives while she lies, and only lives so long as she fails to prove her tale. When she has proved it, she ceases to be Rumour; and, as if she had completed her task of telling, she gives us fact; and, after that, it is fact that is held, and fact it is called;
 nor does anybody say, for example, "They say this occurred at Rome," or "Rumour is that so and so is assigned the province," but "He has been assigned the province" and "This did occur in Rome."
 Rumour, a synonym for the uncertain, has no place where there is certainty. Would anybody believe Rumour, except the unthinking? The wise man does not believe uncertainty. It lies with everybody to reflect that, however widely Rumour has been put about, with whatever assurance it has been contrived, it must necessarily have originated at some moment with some single person who started it.
 After that it creeps through ramifications of tongues and ears; and something wrong in the little seed, whence it sprang, so obscures all else in the rumour, that no one reflects whether that first mouth sowed the lie, as often happens, from an envious nature, from wanton suspicion, or from that mere pleasure in lying which with some people is no new thing but inborn in them.
a Virgil, Aen. iv.174.
 Natura famae omnibus nota est. Vestrum est:
Fama malum qua non aliud velocius ullum.Cur malum fama? quia velox? quia index? an quia plurimum mendax? quae ne tunc quidem, cum aliquid veri adfert, sine mendacii vitio est, detrahens, adiciens, demutans de veritate.
 Quid? quod ea illi condicio est, ut non nisi cum mentitur perseveret et tamdiu vivit quamdiu non probat, siquidem, ubi probavit, cessat esse et quasi officio nuntiandi functa rem tradit, et exinde res tenetur, res nominatur.
 Nec quisquam dicit verbi gratia, Hoc Romae aiunt factum, aut, Fama est illum provinciam sortitum, sed, Sortitus est ille provinciam, et, Hoc factum est Romae.
 Fama, nomen incerti, locum non habet ubi certum est. An vero famae credat nisi inconsideratus? Quia sapiens non credit incerto. Omnium est aestimare, quantacunque illa ambitione diffusa sit, quantacunque asseveratione constructa, quod ab uno aliquando principe exorta sit necesse est.
 Exinde in traduces linguarum et aurium serpit, et ita modici seminis vitium cetera rumoris obscurat, ut nemo recogitet, ne primum illud os mendacium seminaverit, quod saepe fit aut ingenio aemulationis aut arbitrio suspicionis aut non nova sed ingenita quibusdam mentiendi voluptate.
Labels: typographical and other errors
A Bowdlerized Passage in the Loeb Classical Library
At Thebes he was flogged by the master of the gymnasium—another version being that it was by Euthycrates and at Corinth; and being dragged by the heels, he called out, as if it did not affect hima:The Greek, id., p. 94:
Seized by the foot and dragged o'er heaven's high threshold: Diocles, however, says that it was by Menedemus of Eretria that he was thus dragged. For he being handsome and being thought to be intimate with Asclepiades the Phliasian, Crates slapped him on the side with a brutal taunt; whereupon Menedemus, full of indignation, dragged him along, and he declaimed as above.
aHom. Il. i.591.
ἐν Θήβαις ὑπὸ τοῦ γυμνασιάρχου μαστιγωθείς—οἱ δέ, ἐν Κορίνθῳ ὑπ᾿ Εὐθυκράτους—καὶ ἑλκόμενος τοῦ ποδὸς ἐπέλεγεν ἀφροντιστῶν,Thanks very much to Bill Thayer (per litteras and on his web site) for pointing out that Hicks omitted the actual taunt from his translation (an omission that persists in the Digital Loeb Classical Library). Bill translates as follows:
ἕλκε ποδὸς τεταγὼν διὰ βηλοῦ θεσπεσίοιο. Διοκλῆς δέ φησιν ἑλχθῆναι αὐτὸν ὑπὸ Μενεδήμου τοῦ Ἐρετρικοῦ. ἐπειδὴ γὰρ εὐπρεπὴς ἦν καὶ ἐδόκει χρησιμεύειν Ἀσκληπιάδῃ τῷ Φλιασίῳ, ἁψάμενος αὐτοῦ τῶν μηρῶν ὁ Κράτης ἔφη, "ἔνδον Ἀσκληπιάδης." ἐφ᾿ ᾧ δυσχεράναντα τὸν Μενέδημον ἕλκειν αὐτόν, τὸν δὲ τοῦτο ἐπιλέγειν.
For since he was good-looking and people thought he was being used (sc. for intercourse) by Asclepiades the Phliasian, Crates grabbed him by the thighs and said, "In there, Asclepiades!"Related post: Diogenes Laertius Expurgatus.