Tuesday, July 17, 2018


The Present Age

Acts of the Apostles 2.40 (from Peter's Pentecost sermon; tr. Richmond Lattimore):
Be saved from this crooked generation.

Σώθητε ἀπὸ τῆς γενεᾶς τῆς σκολιᾶς ταύτης.


Lacrimae Rerum

Ibn Ḥazm of Cordoba, quoted in Christopher Dawson (1889-1970), Medieval Essays (1954; rpt. Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 2002), p. 114, with his note (accents added):
Thou weepest for the dead. Let him be. He is at peace. Weep rather for the living. He is more worthy of your tears. The dead man rests in his tomb: there is no need to mourn over his lot. But as for the living, who perishes every day at the hands of injustice, there is none to comfort him.9

9 Á. González Palencia, Historia de la Literatura Arábigo-Española, p. 58 (1928).


Root of All Good

Aristophanes, Wealth 144-145 (Chremylus speaking to Wealth; tr. Jeffery Henderson):
And what's more, it's through you that people have anything radiant, fine, or charming.

καὶ νὴ Δί᾿ εἴ τί γ᾿ ἐστὶ λαμπρὸν καὶ καλὸν
ἢ χαρίεν ἀνθρώποισι, διὰ σὲ γίγνεται.

Monday, July 16, 2018


Proposed Papal Powers

Selections from the Dictatus Papae attributed to Pope Gregory VII (tr. G.A. Loud):
IX. All princes shall kiss the feet of the Pope alone.

IX. Quod solius papae pedes omnes principes deosculentur.

XII. It may be permitted to him to depose emperors.

XII. Quod illi liceat imperatores deponere.

XIX. He himself may be judged by no one.

XIX. Quod a nemine ipse iudicari debeat.

XXVII. He may absolve subjects from their fealty to wicked men.

XXVII. Quod a fidelitate iniquorum subiectos potest absolvere.


A Greek Hexameter Consisting of Adjectives in Asyndeton

Homeric Hymn to Pan 37 consists entirely of a series of adjectives in asyndeton (my translation):
goat-footed, two-horned, loudly-ringing, sweetly-laughing

αἰγοπόδην δικέρωτα πολύκροτον ἡδυγέλωτα
For similar hexameter lines in Greek and Latin see:

Sunday, July 15, 2018


Sell All, Buy LXX Etc.

From John Stroup, Houston, to the July 8 item from and about Fred Danker

Fred Danker said this many times in his seminary teaching days in St. Louis as I recall, and certainly it was repeated by others often with Danker credited—though I don’t remember any discussion of the German original source. In Red Fred’s final examination in the NT theology course, 1971-72, the permitted helps were Nestle-Aland, the 2-vol. Rahlfs, and Schmoller’s Hand-Konkordanz. This course was conducted while Danker was more or less still under investigation for heresy by way of an extraordinary procedure—see his 1971 Under Investigation, if you can find a copy.

Rahlfs: here is oral tradition that I have from a participant in Rahlfs’s last (?) days of teaching There were five or six enrolled, and they followed the custom (this is Göttingen around 1930 or so, whenever he was failing but still hanging on, so not later than September of 1933) of reverently rapping on the desk by way of restrained applause before he started to speak after entering the room. He suffered some kind of medical episode connected with his eyes; class was continued at his house, probably Friedländer Weg 10, with one dropping out. The maid ushered the theological students in to the front parlor and they sat down. He then came in, slowly, and sat down. Nothing. He looked at them. They looked at him. Nothing. Then one grad student realized what was wrong and so started rapping with knuckles on the chair arm, with others joining in. So continued the interrupted course. Or so my aged source told me around 1976, and so I pass it along, filtered through details in Christian Schäfer’s book on Rahlfs.

Saturday, July 14, 2018


An Enjoyable and Civilized Existence

Christopher Dawson (1889-1970), Medieval Essays (1954; rpt. Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 2002), p. 31:
Even a comparatively remote and unimportant town like Timgad, in North Africa, possesses public buildings and monuments finer than those of many a modern city of vastly superior wealth and population. It had its theatres and amphitheatres in which free spectacles were provided for the entertainment of the people. It had porticoes and basilicas where the citizens could attend to public business or idle away their leisure time. It had baths and gymnasia, libraries and lecture halls, and temples which were not, like our churches, destined solely for religious worship, but were the centre of civic ceremonial and public festivities. There has probably never been an age in which the opportunities for living an enjoyable and civilized existence were so widely diffused. For the ancient city was not, like the average modern town, a factory, or a place of business; it existed for the enjoyment of its citizens and it was the centre of an active communal life, lived in public and at the public expense.


Never Bored

Li Po (701-762), "Sitting Alone by Ching-t'ing Mountain," tr. Stephen Owen, The Great Age of Chinese Poetry: The High T'ang (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981), p. 138:
The flocks of birds have flown high and away,
A solitary cloud goes off calmly alone.
We look at each other and never get bored—
Just me and Ching-t'ing Mountain.


A New Kind of Beauty

Christopher Dawson (1889-1970), Medieval Essays (1954; rpt. Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 2002), p. 184:
The rediscovery of the Middle Ages by the Romantics is an event of no less importance in the history of European thought than the rediscovery of Hellenism by the Humanists. It meant an immense widening of our intellectual horizon. To Boileau and Pope and their contemporaries the Middle Ages were simply a gap in the history of culture. They had no eyes for the beauty of medieval art and no ears for the melody of medieval verse. All this was restored to us by the Romantics. They went to the Middle Ages not in order to prove a case or to justify their political or religious beliefs, but because they found in them something utterly different from the world that they knew—the revelation of a new kind of beauty.

Friday, July 13, 2018


Ubi Sunt?

R.T. Davies, ed., Medieval English Lyrics: A Critical Anthology (Chicago: Northwestern University Press, 1964; rpt. 1988), pp. 56-57 (first four stanzas only):
Where beth they, beforen us weren,
Houndes ladden and havekes beren,
And hadden feld and wode?
The riche levedies in hoere bour,
That werenden gold in hoere tressour,
With hoere brighte rode?

Eten and drounken and maden hem glad;
Hoere lif was all with gamen ilad:
Men keneleden them beforen.
They beren hem well swithe heye,
And, in a twinkling of an eye,
Hoere soules weren forloren.

Where is that lawing and that song,
That trailing and that proude yong,
Tho havekes and tho houndes?
All that joye is went away,
That wele is comen to weylaway,
To manye harde stoundes.

Hoere paradis hy nomen here,
And now they lien in helle ifere:
The fuir it brennes evere;
Long is 'ay!' and long is 'ho!'
Long is 'wy!' and long is 'wo!'
Thennes ne cometh they nevere.
Modern English translation (ibid.):
Where are they who lived before us,
who led hounds and carried hawks,
and owned field and wood?
The great ladies in their chambers,
who wore gold in their head-bands
and whose faces shone?

They ate and drank and entertained themselves;
their life was spent wholly in pleasure:
men kneeled before them.
They carried themselves most proudly,
and, in the twinkling of an eye,
their souls were utterly lost.

Where is that laughter and that singing,
that trailing of garments, and that proud gait,
those hawks and those hounds?
All that joy has vanished,
that happiness has turned to misery
and many hard times.

They took their paradise here,
and now they lie in hell together:
the fire burns without end;
long lasts their 'ah!' and long their 'oh!'
long their 'alas! and long their 'woe!'—
they shall never come out of that place.


Fire and Fanaticism and Rivalry

G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936), The Return of Don Quixote, chapter III:
Few realise how much of controversial war and tumult can be covered by an obscure hobby. The fighting spirit has almost taken refuge in hobbies as in holes and corners of the earth; and left the larger public fields singularly dull and flat and free from real debate. It might be imagined that the Daily Wire was a slashing paper and the Review of Assyrian Excavation was a mild and peaceful one. But in truth it is the other way. It is the popular paper that has become cold and conventional, and full of clichés used without any conviction. It is the scholarly paper that is full of fire and fanaticism and rivalry.


A Simile

Alessandro Manzoni (1785-1873), I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed), chapter 38 (tr. Archibald Colquhoun):
Man (says our anonymous chronicler; and you already know by experience that he had rather a strange taste in similes, but bear with this one for it is likely to be the last), man, as long as he is in this world, is like an invalid lying on a more or less uncomfortable bed who sees other beds around him which look outwardly smooth, level, and better made, and imagines he would be very happy on them. But if he succeeds in changing, scarcely is he lying on the new bed than he begins, as his weight sinks in, to feel a piece of flax pricking into him here, and a lump pressing into him there; so that, in fact, he is more or less back where he started. And for this reason, adds our anonymous chronicler, we should think more of doing well rather than of faring well, and we will end by faring better too. This simile is somewhat far-fetched, laboured, and very seventeenth-century; but it is true in the main.

L'uomo (dice il nostro anonimo: e già sapete per prova che aveva un gusto un po' strano in fatto di similitudini; ma passategli anche questa, che avrebbe a esser l'ultima), l'uomo, fin che sta in questo mondo, è un infermo che si trova sur un letto scomodo più o meno, e vede intorno a sè altri letti, ben rifatti al di fuori, piani, a livello: e si figura che ci si deve star benone. Ma se gli riesce di cambiare, appena s'è accomodato nel nuovo, comincia, pigiando, a sentire qui una lisca che lo punge, lì un bernoccolo che lo preme: siamo in somma, a un di presso, alla storia di prima. E per questo, soggiunge l'anonimo, si dovrebbe pensare più a far bene, che a star bene: e così si finirebbe anche a star meglio. È tirata un po' con gli argani, e proprio da secentista; ma in fondo ha ragione.
Cf. Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837), Zibaldone, tr. Kathleen Baldwin et al. (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), p. 1759 (Z 4104, June 25, 1824):
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.

Thursday, July 12, 2018


Prayer for the Dead

Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 1556-1578 (tr. Hugh Lloyd-Jones, with his notes):
If it is right for me to reverence with prayers the goddess in darkness and yourself, lord of those who dwell in night, Aidoneus, Aidoneus,a I pray that the stranger may arrive at the plain of the dead that holds all below and at the house of Styx without pain and with no grievous fate! For after many futile troubles have beset him, once more a just god would be exalting him.

O goddesses of earth,b and you, form of the invincible beast which, fame ever tells us, have your bed and growl from your cave in the gates passed through by many strangers, a guardian not to be subdued in Hades!c I pray, child of Earth and Tartarus,d that he may walk clear when the stranger comes to the plains of the dead below. On you I call, who are eternal sleep!

a A name for Hades; the names of Hades and Persephone, and other chthonic powers, were not often spoken.
b Demeter and Persephone were the chief goddesses of earth, but other powers, such as the Erinyes, might also be in mind. [But cf. Jebb ad loc.: "schol.Ἐρινύες. Hardly Demeter and Persephone (683), who would not be thus associated with the fell Cerberus."]
c Cerberus.
a Death.

εἰ θέμις ἐστί μοι τὰν ἀφανῆ θεὸν
καὶ σὲ λιταῖς σεβίζειν,
ἐννυχίων ἄναξ, Αἰδωνεῦ
Αἰδωνεῦ, λίσσομαι        1560
ἐπιπόνως μήτ᾿ ἐπὶ βαρυαχεῖ
ξένον ἐξανύσαι
μόρῳ τὰν παγκευθῆ κάτω νεκρῶν πλάκα
καὶ Στύγιον δόμον.
πολλῶν γὰρ ἂν καὶ μάταν        1565
πημάτων ἱκνουμένων
πάλιν σφε δαίμων δίκαιος αὔξοι.

ὦ χθόνιαι θεαί, σῶμά τ᾿ ἀνικάτου
θηρός, ὃν ἐν πύλαισι
ταῖσι πολυξένοις εὐνᾶσθαι        1570
κνυζεῖσθαί τ᾿ ἐξ ἄντρων
ἀδάματον φύλακα παρ᾿ Ἀίδᾳ
λόγος αἰὲν ἔχει.
τόν, ὦ Γᾶς παῖ καὶ Ταρτάρου, κατεύχομαι
ἐν καθαρῷ βῆναι        1575
ὁρμωμένῳ νερτέρας
τῷ ξένῳ νεκρῶν πλάκας·
σέ τοι κικλήσκω τὸν αἰὲν ὕπνον.
William Butler Yeats' very free version:
I call upon Persephone, queen of the dead,
And upon Hades, king of night, I call;
Chain all the Furies up that he may tread
The perilous pathway to the Stygian hall
And rest among his mighty peers at last,
For the entanglements of God are past.

Nor may the hundred-headed dog give tongue
Until the daughter of Earth and Tartarus
That even bloodless shades call Death has sung
The travel-broken shade of Oedipus
Through triumph of completed destiny
Into eternal sleep, if such there be.
It's almost like a propemptikon. Cf. the antiphon In Paradisum.

Some textual criticism:

Wednesday, July 11, 2018


I Was Not Led Astray

Ernst Haenchen (1894-1975), The Acts of the Apostles: A Commentary, tr. Bernard Noble et al. (Philadelphia, The Westminster Press, 1971), p. vii:
Probably neither of these things would have come about had I not had to travel to Switzerland for a cure in 1944. It was then strictly forbidden to take books across the frontier. Only in Davos did I discover that Nestle (thin-paper edition) had made the journey with me in my coat pocket. This was all I had when I began to occupy the time of my convalescence with some serious work. That was a great blessing. For when I now sought to penetrate more deeply into Acts, I was not led astray by any secondary literature which was primarily interested in Luke's sources. So I came quite independently to the question what the author of Acts had wanted to say to his readers through the varied scenes of his book, and I sought myself to become his reader.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018


A Cause of Fear

Origen, Against Celsus 5.35 (tr. Henry Chadwick, with his note):
And I have not yet said anything of those Egyptians who shiver with fear at the trivial physical experience of flatulence.1

1 Cf. Minucius Felix, XXVIII, 9 'Idem Aegyptii cum plerisque vobis non magis Isidem quam ceparum acrimonias metuunt, nec Serapidem magis quam strepitus per pudenda corporis expressos contremescunt.' Jerome, Comm. in Isai. XIII, 46 (Migne, P.L. XXIV, 467 A): '... ut taceam de formidoloso et horribili cepe et crepitu ventris inflati, quae Pelusiaca religio est.' Clem. Hom. X, 16; Clem. Recog. V, 20; Theophilus, ad Autol. I, 10. For the onion cf. Pliny, N.H. XIX, 101; Plutarch ap. Gellius, N.A. XX, 8, 7; Mor. 353F; Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech. VI, 10. Discussion in T. Hopfner, Plutarch über Isis und Osiris (Monographien des Archiv Orientálni IX, Prague, 1940), I, pp. 71-2; A.B. Cook, Zeus II (1925), PP. 986-7.
The Greek:
Καὶ οὔπω λέγω περὶ τῶν τὰς τοῦ σώματος φλυαρίας ἐν φύσαις φριττόντων τῶν Αἰγυπτίων.
φλυαρίας literally = babblings, fooleries. I can't find the meaning flatulence in any of the dictionaries.

Jim Sullivan per litteras:
You are right about φλυαρία "chattering". But the flatulence is the phrase ἐν φύσαις from ἡ φῦσα "bellows", which in the plural means "flatus".
Related posts:



Prayer of an Old Man

[Homer], Epigrams 12, from [Herodotus], On Homer's Origins, Date, and Life 30 (tr. Martin L. West):
Hear my prayer, Kourotrophos, and grant that this woman
refuse the love and bed of younger men:
let her fancy be taken by old men grey at the temples,
whose vigor is blunted away, though their hearts still hanker.

κλῦθί μοι εὐχομένωι, Κουροτρόφε, δὸς δὲ γυναῖκα
τήνδε νέων μὲν ἀνήνασθαι φιλότητα καὶ εὐνήν,
ἣ δ᾿ ἐπιτερπέσθω πολιοκροτάφοισι γέρουσιν,
ὧν ὥρη μὲν ἀπήμβλυνται, θυμὸς δὲ μενοινᾶι.
Related post: An Old Man's Prayer.

Monday, July 09, 2018


I and the World Are Done With Each Other

Meng Hao-jan (689-740), "Seeking the Monk Chan on Fragrance Mountain," tr. Stephen Owen, The Great Age of Chinese Poetry: The High T'ang (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981), pp. 77-78:
At dawn I wandered to visit a famous mountain.
The mountain was far, set in blue mists of sky,
Its swelling vapors covered a hundred miles,
And I just arrived as the sun went down.
I heard a bell's sound at valley's mouth,
By wood's edge recognized incense in air.
So staff in hand, I sought my old friend,
Ungirthing my saddle, halted my mount for a while.
By the gate of stone a sheer ravine falls off sharply,
And the path through bamboo grew darker, deeper.
Dharma's companion rejoices meeting me,
In speculative discussion we do not sleep.
All my life I have yearned for true reclusion,
Days on end sought wonders beyond this world:
Here old peasants enter their fields at dawn,
And mountain monks return to their temples at night.
Clear sounds come from pine-shaded springs,
Mossy walls filled with ancient truths.
I will lodge on this mountain forever—
I and the world are done with each other.
The same, tr. Daniel Bryant with his notes, in Victor H. Mair, ed., The Shorter Columbia Anthology of Traditional Chinese Literature (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), p. 88:
On a morning ramble I visit a great mountain,
The mountain far away in the empty azure.
Billowing mist spreads over a hundred leagues;
As the sun goes down I reach my goal at last.
At the valley's mouth I hear a bell sound;
By the wood's edge scent a breath of incense.
Leaning on my staff, I seek an old friend;
Having loosened the saddle, give my mount a rest.
The stone gate is hard by a chasm's brink;
A bamboo-lined path winds through the forest depths.
I enjoy meeting with a "Companion in the Law";1
In "Pure Talk"2 we stay up until dawn.
All my life I have respected true reclusion,
For days on end sought spiritual mysteries.
An old rustic goes to his fields at dawn;
A mountain monk returns to his temple in the evening.
There are many pure notes in pines and streams;
These moss-grown walls are wrapped in a feeling of antiquity.
How I would like to retire to this very mountain,
"Casting off both self and world alike."

1. Someone who pursues a religious, usually Buddhist, life.
2. Abstruse, witty discourse that is often associated with Taoists.


Fanning the Flames

Alessandro Manzoni (1785-1873), I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed), chapter 13 (tr. Archibald Colquhoun):
In all popular tumults there are always a certain number of men who, either from excited passions, or fanatical conviction, or evil intentions, or just from a cursed taste for disorder, do all they can to push things as far as possible: they propose and support the wildest suggestions, and fan the flames whenever they begin to languish: they want the riot to burst all bounds and restraint.

Ne' tumulti popolari c'è sempre un certo numero d'uomini che, o per un riscaldamento di passione, o per una persuasione fanatica, o per un disegno scellerato, o per un maledetto gusto del soqquadro, fanno di tutto per ispinger le cose al peggio; propongono o promovono i più spietati consigli, soffian nel fuoco ogni volta che principia a illanguidire: non è mai troppo per costoro; non vorrebbero che il tumulto avesse nè fine nè misura.

Sunday, July 08, 2018


Sell All You Have

Frederick William Danker, "Lexical Evolution and Linguistic Hazard," in Biblical Greek Language and Lexicography: Essays in Honor of Frederick W. Danker (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004), pp. 1-31 (at 20):
Besides, if one may digress, it is well to hear the question addressed to a class by the eminent biblical critic and Hebraist Ferdinand Hitzi, "Have you a Septuagint?" One also does well to stay for Hitzig's own answer: "If not, sell all you have and buy one."
The source seems to be J.J. Kneucker, "Zur Erinnerung an Ferdinand Hitzig," in Ferdinand Hitzig, Vorlesungen ueber biblische Theologie und messianische Weissagungen des Alten Testaments (Karlsruhe: H. Reuther, 1880), pp. 1-35 (at p. 19, n. 2):
Welchen Werth Hitzig in dieser Beziehung den LXX schon für Studirende und ihre exegetischen Uebungen beilegte, geht aus der scherzhaften Aeusserung hervor, mit welcher er die alttestamentlichen Interpretirübungen im theologischen Seminar zu Heidelberg zu eröffnen pflegte: „Meine Herren, haben Sie eine Septuaginta? wenn nicht, so verkaufen Sie Alles, was Sie haben, und kaufen sich eine Septuaginta!“
Hitzig was of course alluding to Mark 10.21:
Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
Related posts:

Saturday, July 07, 2018


Decent Folk

Alessandro Manzoni (1785-1873), I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed), chapter 7 (tr. Archibald Colquhoun):
'How can you tell,' persisted Renzo, when he saw him reappear, 'that they're decent folk when you don't know them?'

'By their actions, my dear chap; one tells a man by his actions. People who drink their wine without criticizing it, pay their bills without haggling, don't quarrel with the other customers, and if they've got to put a knife in someone, go and wait for him outside—away from the inn, so's the poor landlord keeps out of it—those are the decent folk.'

"Come potete sapere," riattaccò Renzo, quando lo vide ricomparire, "che siano galantuomini, se non li conoscete?"

"Le azioni, caro mio: l'uomo si conosce all'azioni. Quelli che bevono il vino senza criticarlo, che pagano il conto senza tirare, che non metton su lite con gli altri avventori, e se hanno una coltellata da consegnare a uno, lo vanno ad aspettar fuori, e lontano dall'osteria, tanto che il povero oste non ne vada di mezzo, quelli sono i galantuomini."


Old Age

Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite 244-246 (tr. Martin L. West):
But as it is, you will soon be enfolded by hostile, merciless old age, which attends men in the time to come, accursed, wearisome, abhorred by the gods.

νῦν δὲ σὲ μὲν τάχα γῆρας ὀμοίιον ἀμφικαλύψει
νηλειές, τό τ᾿ ἔπειτα παρίσταται ἀνθρώποισιν,
οὐλόμενον καματηρόν, ὅ τε στυγέουσι θεοί περ.

Friday, July 06, 2018


The Purpose of the Wall

Nigel Spivey, "They built the wall," New Criterion (June 2018), a review of Adrian Goldsworthy, Hadrian's Wall (New York: Basic Books, 2018):
An ancient biographer of Hadrian relays just one sentiment about the wall: qui barbaros Romanos divideret, "that it should divide Romans from barbarians."
Image from screen capture:

There is a misprint here—for Romanos read Romanosque. The quotation comes from the Life of Hadrian 11.2 in the Scriptores Historiae Augustae.




Vergil, Aeneid 3.408-409 (tr. H. Rushton Fairclough):
This mode of sacrifice do thou keep, thou and thy company;
by this observance let thy children's children in purity stand fast.

hunc socii morem sacrorum, hunc ipse teneto;
hac casti maneant in religione nepotes.


Environmental Protection

Hsün Tzu, Basic Writings. Translated by Burton Watson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), p. 47:
When plants and trees are flowering or putting out new growth, no axes may be taken into the hills and forests, for they would destroy life and injure the growing things. When fish and other water creatures are breeding, no nets or poisons may be used in the lakes, for they would destroy life and injure the growing things. The farmers plow in spring, weed in summer, reap in fall, and store away in winter. Because they do each at the proper season, there is a never-ending supply of grain and the people have more than enough to eat. Because the lakes and rivers are watched over carefully and closed off at the proper time, there is an ever-increasing supply of fish and other water creatures and the people have more than they can use. Because the felling of trees and cutting of brush is done only at the proper time, the hills are never denuded and yet the people have all the wood they need. These are the measures of a sage king.


A Man of Constant Sorrow

Homer, Odyssey 7.211-212 (Odysseus speaking; tr. Peter Green):
Whoever you know of mankind that shoulder the heaviest load
of grief, to them I might liken myself in my sorrows.

οὕς τινας ὑμεῖς ἴστε μάλιστ’ ὀχέοντας ὀιζὺν
ἀνθρώπων, τοῖσίν κεν ἐν ἄλγεσιν ἰσωσαίμην.

Thursday, July 05, 2018


Cause for Distress

Caesar, Gallic War 1.2 (tr. H.J. Edwards):
In such circumstances their range of movement was less extensive, and their chances of waging war on their neighbours were less easy; and on this account they were greatly distressed, for they were men that longed for war.

his rebus fiebat ut et minus late vagarentur et minus facile finitimis bellum inferre possent; qua ex parte homines bellandi cupidi magno dolore adficiebantur.


One of the Advantages of This World

Alessandro Manzoni (1785-1873), I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed), chapter 4 (tr. Archibald Colquhoun):
For it is one of the advantages of this world that people can hate and be hated without knowing each other.

Giacché è uno de' vantaggi di questo mondo, quello di poter odiare ed esser odiati, senza conoscersi.


Practical Skills

Basil Johnston (1929-2015), The Manitous: The Spiritual World of the Ojibway (New York: HarperCollins, 1995), p. xviii:
Without exception, every man and woman had to master the practical skills: archery; spearing; setting nets and traps; making canoes, tools, shelters, and medicines; curing meat and vegetables; tanning hides and making clothing; understanding animals; and knowing the properties of plants and their parts.


By the Sea

Homer, Odyssey 5.156-158 (tr. A.T. Murray, rev. George E. Dimock):
But by day he would sit on the rocks and the sands,
racking his heart with tears and groans and griefs,
and he would look out over the unresting sea, shedding tears.

ἤματα δ᾿ ἂμ πέτρῃσι καὶ ἠιόνεσσι καθίζων
δάκρυσι καὶ στοναχῇσι καὶ ἄλγεσι θυμὸν ἐρέχθων
πόντον ἐπ᾿ ἀτρύγετον δερκέσκετο δάκρυα λείβων.
W.B. Stanford, commentary ad loc. (p. 298):
O. haunted the lonely sea-shore not for any Byronic sentiments but, like any ship-wrecked mariner, in the hopes of sighting a ship.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018



Hsün Tzu, Basic Writings. Translated by Burton Watson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), p. 19:
Where does learning begin and where does it end? I say that as to program, learning begins with the recitation of the Classics and ends with the reading of the ritual texts; and as to objective, it begins with learning to be a man of breeding, and ends with learning to be a sage. If you truly pile up effort over a long period of time, you will enter into the highest realm. Learning continues until death and only then does it cease. Therefore we may speak of an end to the program of learning, but the objective of learning must never for an instant be given up. To pursue it is to be a man, to give it up is to become a beast.


Not All Perfect Athletes

H.W. Parke, Festivals of the Athenians (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977), p. 46, with note on p. 193:
In Aristophanes we have a sarcastic caricature of what could happen in this torch-race. In the Frogs Aeschylus is represented in the Other World as accusing Euripides of being responsible for producing a generation of Athenians of whom 'no one is able to carry a torch any longer through lack of athletic training'. Dionysus supports this charge with a reminiscence: 'No indeed, by Jove, and at the Panathenaia I split myself laughing when a slow fellow was running, doubled up, white and flabby, left behind and in a terrible state. Then the men from the Kerameikos [the workmens' quarter through which the course went] in the gates were butting him on the belly and ribs and flanks and buttocks. When he was beaten on the road he gave a fart, blew out his torch and fled.' The episode is perhaps not all mischievous fantasy and is certainly a corrective to any romantic and sentimental notion of classical Greeks who were all perfect athletes.30

30 Ar. Ra. 1089 ff.
The Greek:
μὰ Δί᾿ οὐ δῆθ᾿, ὥστ᾿ ἐπαφηυάνθην
Παναθηναίοισι γελῶν, ὅτε δὴ        1090
βραδὺς ἄνθρωπός τις ἔθει κύψας
λευκός, πίων, ὑπολειπόμενος
καὶ δεινὰ ποιῶν· κᾆθ᾿ οἱ Κεραμῆς
ἐν ταῖσι πύλαις παίουσ᾿ αὐτοῦ
γαστέρα, πλευράς, λαγόνας, πυγήν,        1095
ὁ δὲ τυπτόμενος ταῖσι πλατείαις
φυσῶν τὴν λαμπάδ᾿ ἔφευγεν.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018


The Best Policy

Wang Wei, farewell to Meng Hao-jan, tr. Stephen Owen, The Great Age of Chinese Poetry: The High T'ang (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981), p. 74 (with his note):
Close your gate fast, yearn not to leave.
Keep yourself far from worldly cares ever,
Take this as the best policy—
I urge you, go home to your old cottage.
Sing drunkenly of wine taken in field-huts,
Chuckle, reading the books of ancients.
This is right for a whole lifetime—
Don't suffer writing a "Master Emptiness."

"Master Emptiness" ... was the fu of Ssu-ma Hsiang-ju that won him fame in the court of Han Wu-ti. Wang Wei is, of course, playing on the title, suggesting the vanity of public fame.
The same, tr. Jingqing Yang, The Chan Interpretations of Wang Wei's Poetry: A Critical Review (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2006), p. 27:
Shutting the gate, I don't want to go out,
I have long been estranged from worldly business,
I take this as a long-term plan,
So I also advise you to return to your old abode,
Singing drunken praises of country-brewed wine,
Reading with amusement books by men of old,
Enjoy your life like this,
Don't bother to present a "Zixu".


Two Words in First Thessalonians

1 Thessalonians 3.2-3 (New International Version; emphasis added):
[2] We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God's service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, [3] so that no one would be unsettled by these trials.

καὶ ἐπέμψαμεν Τιμόθεον, τὸν ἀδελφὸν ἡμῶν καὶ συνεργὸν τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ τοῦ Χριστοῦ, εἰς τὸ στηρίξαι ὑμᾶς καὶ παρακαλέσαι ὑπὲρ τῆς πίστεως ὑμῶν [3] τὸ μηδένα σαίνεσθαι ἐν ταῖς θλίψεσιν ταύταις.

σαίνεσθαι vel sim. codd.: ἀσαίνεσθαι H. Venema (coll. Hsch. ἀσαίνων = ὑβρίζων, λυπῶν): σαλεύεσθαι T. Beza & R. Bentley: παθαίνεσθαι A.D. Knox (Journal of Theological Studies 25 [1924] 290-291)
Liddell-Scott-Jones, s.v. σαίνω:
[I.] prop. of dogs, wag the tail, fawn ....

II. metaph. of persons, fawn, cringe ....

III.[1.] c. acc. pers., fawn upon ....

2. fawn on, pay court to, greet ....

3. gladden, esp. with hope or conviction ....

4. beguile, cozen, deceive ....

5. in 1 Ep.Thess.3.3, σαίνεσθαι ἐν ταῖς θλίψεσι seems to mean to be shaken, disturbed; "σαινόμενοι τοῖς λεγομένοις ἐδάκρυον" D.L. 8.41 (or in signf. III.4); σαίνεται: κινεῖται, σαλεύεται, ταράττεται, Hsch.; but cf. σιαίνω.
Liddell-Scott-Jones, s.v. σιαίνω:
cause loathing or disgust to a person ....
H. Chadwick defends the paradosis in Journal of Theological Studies n.s. 1 (1950) 156-158 (at 157-158):
[T]here has recently come to light a clear and unambiguous instance of σαίνω meaning 'perturb mentally'. Among the theological papyri discovered in the find at Tura near Cairo in 1941 there is included the minutes of a discussion between Origen and a bishop Heraclides with others. The text is edited by M. Jean Scherer: Entretien d'Origène avec Héraclide et les évêques ses collègues sur le Père, le Fils, et l'Âme (Publications de la Société Fouad I de Papyrologie: Textes et Documents IX), Cairo, 1949. (See the review by Mr. G.W.H. Lampe in the Journal, April 1950.) After Origen has dealt with all the questions arising from the case of Heraclides, whose orthodoxy had seemed so doubtful to some of the community, he remarks (p. 140, line 5): τὰ μὲν περὶ πίστεως, ὅσα ἔσηνεν ἡμᾶς, συνεξετάσθη. 'All the questions about the faith which disturbed us have been examined.'

There is nothing to suggest that Origen may have been influenced by the New Testament.
Much of the information above comes from F.F. Bruce, 1 & 2 Thessalonians (Waco: Word Books, 1982), pp. 59 and 62.

1 Thessalonians 4.3-4 (New International Version; emphasis added):
[3] It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; [4] that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable ...

[3] τοῦτο γάρ ἐστιν θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, ὁ ἁγιασμὸς ὑμῶν, ἀπέχεσθαι ὑμᾶς ἀπὸ τῆς πορνείας, [4] εἰδέναι ἕκαστον ὑμῶν τὸ ἑαυτοῦ σκεῦος κτᾶσθαι ἐν ἁγιασμῷ καὶ τιμῇ ...
Liddell-Scott-Jones, s.v. σκεῦος:
[I.1.] vessel or implement of any kind

2. inanimate object, thing

II. τὸ ς. the body, as the vessel of the soul, a metaph. clearly expressed in 2 Ep.Cor.4.7, ἔχομεν δὲ τὸν θησαυρὸν τοῦτον ἐν ὀστρακίνοις σκεύεσιν, cf. 1 Ep.Thess.4.4, 1 Ep.Pet. 3.7.

III. = αἰδοῖον, AP l.4.243 (Antist.), Ael. NA 17.11.

IV. sarcophagus ....
Some would classify the example in 1 Thessalonians 4.4 under LSJ's sense III—see e.g. Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed., s.v. σκεῦος:
Also probable for 1 Th 4:4 is 'penis' (so Antistius [I a.d.] in Anthol. Plan. 4, 243; Aelian, NA 17, 11; cp. the euphemistic Lat. 'vasa' in this sense: Plautus, Poenulus. 863; s. MPoole, Synopsis Criticorum Ali. Sacrae Script., rev. ed. 1694, V col. 908; on sim. usage at Qumran s. TElgvin, NTS 43, '97, 604–19; NAB [1970] renders guarding his member [difft. rev. ed. of NAB, 1986]. Cp. KDonfried, NTS 31, '85, 342). In such case κτᾶσθαι must mean someth. like 'gain control of', etc.—DELG. M-M. EDNT. TW.

Monday, July 02, 2018


My Joy Is Boundless

Chang Yüeh (663-730), "Composition in Drunkenness," tr. Stephen Owen, The Great Age of Chinese Poetry: The High T'ang (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981), p. 12:
I'm drunk—my joy is boundless—
In every way better than not being drunk:
Each time I move it's a dance,
Each time I speak it's a poem.


An Idle Man

George Otto Trevelyan, The Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay, Vol. I (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1877), p. 186 (Macaulay's own words, recorded by his sister Margaret, March 30, 1831):
I never knew such an idle man as I am. When I go in to Empson or Ellis his tables are always covered with books and papers. I can not stick at any thing for above a day or two. I mustered industry enough to teach myself Italian. I wish to speak Spanish. I know I could master the difficulties in a week, and read any book in the language at the end of a month, but I have not the courage to attempt it. If there had not been really something in me, idleness would have ruined me.

Sunday, July 01, 2018


Inflected Languages

W.H. Auden, Poets of the English Language, Vol. I: Langland to Spenser (New York: The Viking Press, 1950), pp. xvi-xvii, rpt. The Complete Works of W.H. Auden, Vol. III: Prose, 1949-1955 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008), p. 106:
The real poetic advantage of an inflected language is of another kind. An inflected language implies that the nature of a thing is determined by its relations to other things, so that a change in its relations causes a change in its nature. In so far as poetry is concerned with emotions, this seems a more natural poetic attitude than that implied by an uninflected language, for I certainly feel myself to be a different person when I am kicking from the one I am when I am being kicked. Further, since the form of a word itself expresses its syntactical relations, it is possible for the poet by his choice of word order to obtain a double set of relations, those of syntax and those of neighborhood.

Every English poet must regret that his language makes it impossible for him to secure effects such as these of Horace:
       Nunc et campus et areae
lenesque sub noctem sussuri
composita repetantur hora

nunc et latentis proditor intumo
gratus puellae risus ab angulo
    pignusque dereptur lacertis
    aut digito male pertinaci
This is Horace, Odes 1.9.18-24, in garbled form. Read susurri for sussuri and dereptum for dereptur. The reprint adds yet another misprint (composite for composita).

Hat tip: Taylor Posey.



I Wish I Did

F.F. Bruce (1910-1990), In Retrospect: Autobiographical Remembrances (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), page number unknown:
There is a story told of A.S. Peake writing a Greek word on the blackboard of his Manchester classroom, and one of his students saying, 'You needn’t write it down, Doctor; we know Greek.' To which he replied, 'I wish I did.'

Dear Mike,

The converse of A.S. Peake's "I wish I did" might be "Well, I do!", which oddly enough came from the lips of Bruce himself.
With the Croom Robertson fellowship ... he had sufficient to support himself at the University of Vienna, where he went to do postgraduate research under Paul Kretschmer. Kretschmer was Professor of Indo-European Philology and an expert on the development of the Greek language. During his year Bruce studied Greek, Indo-European and the Hittite language. We should note at this point his mastery of a wide range of languages; apart from the expected command of Hebrew, Greek and Latin, as a book reviewer he later handled titles in Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish. And on one occasion during a Manchester faculty meeting. R.P.C. Hanson, then Professor of Theology and an authority on St. Patrick, was arguing that students did not need to to know the biblical languages; in support of his case, he argued that although he taught a course on Patrick, he did not know Middle Irish. Bruce responded "Well, I do!"
Tim Grass, F.F Bruce: A Life (London: Paternoster, 2011), pp. 27-28.

Best wishes,

Eric [Thomson]


A While Ago His Face Glowed Too

Liu Hsi-yi, "Song for White Hair," tr. Stephen Owen, The Great Age of Chinese Poetry: The High T'ang (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981), pp. 17-18:
East of the walls of Lo-yang
    the flowers of peach and plum,
Flying here, flying away,
    into whose yard falling now?
And the young girls of Lo-yang
    grieve for their loveliness,
Walking they meet the fallen flowers
    and sigh their long-drawn sighs.
This year as the flowers fall
    their loveliness is changing.
Next year when the flowers bloom,
    who will still be here?
For I have seen cypress and pine
    smashed apart to kindling,
And heard that fields of mulberries
    have changed into the sea.
Those of the past will never again
    be east of Lo-yang's walls,
But people today still must face
    the winds that bring down flowers.
Every year, year after year,
    the flowers are always alike;
Year after year, every year,
    the people are not the same.
I send these words to boys in their prime,
    youths with glowing faces.
Have pity on one already dying,
    A white-haired old man.
The white hair of the old man
    is truly worthy your pity—
A while ago his face glowed too,
    a handsome young man.
You princelings, young noblemen
    beneath the flowering trees,
Clear singing, exquisite dancing
    before the falling flowers,
The Chamberlain's pool terrace,
    patterned as rich brocade,
And tower and hall of General Liang
    bear murals of the gods.
Then one morning lie down sick,
    no one knows your name,
And the pleasures of the springtime
    linger beside another.
Eyebrows gracefully curving—
    how long can they endure?
In an instant crane-white hair,
    tangled all like silk.
Look now to where from ancient days
    were lands of song and dancing.
Now nothing more than the brown of dusk
    and the lament of sparrows.

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