Wednesday, January 23, 2019


The Greatest Delight

Sophocles, Oedipus the King 999 (tr. Hugh Lloyd-Jones):
It is the greatest delight to see the faces of one's parents.

τὰ τῶν τεκόντων ὄμμαθ᾿ ἥδιστον βλέπειν.


The Devil in the Machine

John Aubrey (1626-1697), "Thomas Allen," Brief Lives:
He was generally acquainted, and every long vacation, he rode into the countrey to visitt his old acquaintance and patrones, to whom his great learning, mixt with much sweetnes of humour, rendred him very welcome. One time being at Hom Lacy in Herefordshire, at Mr. John Scudamore's (grandfather to the lord Scudamor), he happened to leave his watch in the chamber windowe—(watches were then rarities)—The maydes came in to make the bed, and hearing a thing in a case cry Tick, Tick, Tick, presently concluded that that was his Devill, and tooke it by the string with the tongues, and threw it out of the windowe into the mote (to drowne the Devill.) It so happened that the string hung on a sprig of an elder that grew out of the mote, and this confirmed them that 'twas the Devill. So the good old gentleman gott his watch again.
Hom = Holme; tongues = tongs.


Braggart Soldiers

Sallust, Jugurthine War 53.8 (tr. J.C. Rolfe):
Thereupon in place of fear a sudden joy arose. The exultant soldiers called out to one another, told of their exploits and heard the tales of others. Each man praised his own valiant deeds to the skies. For so it is with human affairs; in time of victory the very cowards may brag, while defeat discredits even the brave.

igitur pro metu repente gaudium exortum, milites alius alium laeti appellant, acta edocent atque audiunt, sua quisque fortia facta ad caelum fert. quippe res humanae ita sese habent: in victoria vel ignavis gloriari licet, advorsae res etiam bonos detrectant.

exortum codd.: mutatur Priscian (Grammatici Latini 3.296.7)
Prisciani Caesariensis Ars, Liber XVIII, Pars Altera, 2: Commento a cura di Elena Spangenberg Yanes (Hildesheim: Weidmann, 2017), p. 109:
In Sall. Iug. 53, 8 la variante priscianea mutatur per exortum dei codici sallustianni appare una lectio difficilior ed è sostenuta dal confronto con Iug. 83, 1 incerta pro certis mutare (vd. Koestermann 1971, p. 213). Ernout, Kurfess e Reynolds mettono a testo mutatur. Nitzschner 1884, pp. 96-97, ritiene, invece, che si tratti di un errore di memoria del grammatico.
Leighton D. Reynolds, "Experiences of an Editor of Classical Latin Texts," Revue d'histoire des textes 30 (2000) 1-15 (at 13):
I do not see how it is possible to form any general policy with regard to the ancient evidence. The ancient variant is sometimes right, sometimes wrong, and each case must be judged on its merits and by the normal methods of textual criticism. There is a tendency to overvalue such 'venerable' variants; but, when one comes to think of it, the medieval tradition which has given us such a good text of Sallust must be full of venerable readings too.

I shall give just two examples:
Iug. 53.8 Igitur pro metu repente gaudium mutatur: milites alius alium laeti appellant.

mutatur Priscianus: exortum ω
The Romans suddenly realized that the troops approaching in the darkness were not the enemy, but their own comrades, and fear turned to joy. Priscian is quoting this passage precisely to illustrate the use of mutare pro. mutare fell out before milites through homoearcton and was replaced by the obvious stopgap exortum.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019



Du Fu (712-770), "The Four Pines," lines 17-18 (tr. Stephen Owen):
Observing things, I sigh at their decline,
but when it comes to these trees, they console my gloom.


A Debt Owed

Euripides, Andromache 1270-1272 (tr. Deborah Roberts):
Stop grieving on behalf of those who have died,
since this is the decree the gods have ordained
for all human beings, and death is what they owe.

παῦσαι δὲ λύπης τῶν τεθνηκότων ὕπερ·
πᾶσιν γὰρ ἀνθρώποισιν ἥδε πρὸς θεῶν
ψῆφος κέκρανται κατθανεῖν τ' ὀφείλεται.
Euripides, Alcestis 782-784 (tr. Moses Hadas and John McLean):
All men have to pay the debt of death,
and there is not a mortal who knows
whether he is going to be alive on the morrow.

βροτοῖς ἅπασι κατθανεῖν ὀφείλεται,
κοὐκ ἔστι θνητῶν ὅστις ἐξεπίσταται
τὴν αὔριον μέλλουσαν εἰ βιώσεται.
Greek Anthology 11.62, lines 1-2 (by Palladas; tr. W.R. Paton):
Death is a debt due by all men and no
mortal knows if he will be alive to-morrow.

πᾶσι θανεῖν μερόπεσσιν ὀφείλεται, οὐδέ τις ἐστὶν
    αὔριον εἰ ζήσει θνητὸς ἐπιστάμενος.



Geoffrey Chaucer (1342-1400), "Pardoner's Prologue," lines 93-94, Canterbury Tales:
Thus spitte I out my venim under hewe
Of holynesse, to seme holy and trewe.
This is easy to understand, but nevertheless here it is in modern English:
Thus I spit out my venom under hue
of holiness, to seem holy and true.
This style of preaching is still much in vogue.

Monday, January 21, 2019


Requirement for a Commentary

A.S. Hollis, ed., Ovid, Ars Amatoria, Book I (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977; rpt. 1992), p. vii (Preface):
I remember him [R.G.M. Nisbet] saying that a commentary should not be duller than the text on which it is based...


Socrates Dancing

Xenophon, Symposium 2.15-19 (tr. O.J. Todd):
[15] At this point the boy performed a dance, eliciting from Socrates the remark, "Did you notice that, handsome as the boy is, he appears even handsomer in the poses of the dance than when he is at rest?"

"It looks to me," said Charmides, "as if you were puffing the dancing-master."

[16] "Assuredly," replied Socrates; "and I remarked something else, too,—that no part of his body was idle during the dance, but neck, legs, and hands were all active together. And that is the way a person must dance who intends to increase the suppleness of his body. And for myself," he continued, addressing the Syracusan, "I should be delighted to learn the figures from you."

"What use will you make of them?" the other asked.

"I will dance, by Zeus."

[17] This raised a general laugh; but Socrates, with a perfectly grave expression on his face, said: "You are laughing at me, are you? Is it because I want to exercise to better my health? Or because I want to take more pleasure in my food and my sleep? Or is it because I am eager for such exercises as these, not like the long-distance runners, who develop their legs at the expense of their shoulders, nor like the prize-fighters, who develop their shoulders but become thin-legged, but rather with a view to giving my body a symmetrical development by exercising it in every part?

[18] Or are you laughing because I shall not need to hunt up a partner to exercise with, or to strip, old as I am, in a crowd, but shall find a moderate-sized room large enough for me (just as but now this room was large enough for the lad here to get up a sweat in), and because in winter I shall exercise under cover, and when it is very hot, in the shade?

[19] Or is this what provokes your laughter, that I have an unduly large paunch and wish to reduce it? Don't you know that just the other day Charmides here caught me dancing early in the morning?"

"Indeed I did," said Charmides; "and at first I was dumbfounded and feared that you were going stark mad; but when I heard you say much the same things as you did just now, I myself went home, and although I did not dance, for I had never learned how, I practised shadow-boxing, for I knew how to do that."
In a detailed analysis of the scene, Bernhard Huss, "The Dancing Socrates and the Laughing Xenophon, or The Other Symposium," American Journal of Philology 120 (1999) 381-409, rpt. in Vivienne J. Gray, ed., Oxford Readings in Classical Studies: Xenophon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), pp. 257-282, concluded that "Sokrates never danced" (p. 263).

Honoré Daumier (1808-1879), Socrates at Aspasia's Home


This Generation

Qu Yuan (340-278 BC), "On Encountering Trouble," lines 89-96 (tr. Fusheng Wu):
Truly this generation are cunning artificers,
They reject rules to fashion their own measurements.
They disregard ruled lines to follow their crooked fancies,
And to emulate in flattery is their only principle.
But I am sick and sad at heart and stand irresolute:
I alone am at loss in this generation.
Yet I would rather quickly die and meet dissolution,
Before I ever would consent to ape their behavior.

Sunday, January 20, 2019


Achsah's Action

Joint Committee on the New Translation of the Bible, The New English Bible: The Old Testament (Oxford: Oxford University Press and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1961), p. 307 (Joshua 15:18):
As she sat on the ass, she broke wind, and Caleb asked her, 'What did you mean by that?'
Id., p. 321 (Judges 1:14):
As she sat on the ass, she broke wind, and Caleb said, 'What did you mean by that?'
Godfrey R. Driver, "Problems of Interpretation in the Heptateuch," in Mélanges bibliques rédigés en l'honneur de André Robert (Paris: Bloud & Gay, 1957), pp. 66-76 (at 73-75; non vidi), proposed the translation "she broke wind."

Arthur Gibson, "ṣnḥ in Judges I 14: NEB and AV Translations," Vetus Testamentum 26.3 (July, 1976) 275-283, argued against it.




Amphora by Euthymides
(Munich, Antikensammlungen, inv. 2307)


See Jenifer Neils, "Portrait of an Artist: Euthymides, Son of Pollias," in Kristen Seaman and Peter Schultz, edd., Artists and Artistic Production in Ancient Greece (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), pp. 23-36 (at 28, 31), and H. Engelmann, "'Wie nie Euphronios' (Euthymides, Amphora München 2307)," Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 68 (1987) 129-134.

Saturday, January 19, 2019


Poor Scholars

Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593), Hero and Leander I.471-472:
And to this day is every scholar poor,
Gross gold from them runs headlong to the boor.


Made of Clay

Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803), Ideas on the Philosophy of the History of Mankind, Part II, Book 9, Chapter 4 (tr. Ioannis D. Evrigenis and Daniel Pellerin):
Nature raises families; the most natural state is therefore also one people, with one national character. Through the millennia, this national character is maintained within a people and can be developed most naturally if its native prince so desires, for a people is as much a plant of nature as a family, only with more branches. Nothing, then, seems to run so obviously counter to the purpose of governments as the unnatural expansion of states, the wild mixture of all types of races and nations under one scepter. The human scepter is much too weak and small for such contrary parts to be implanted into it; pasted together, they become a fragile machine called the machine of state, without inner life or sympathy of the parts for one another. States of this kind, which turn the name Father of the Fatherland into such a burden for the best of monarchs, appear in history like those symbols of the monarchies in the prophet's vision where the lion's head is united with the dragon's tail and the eagle's wings with the bear's claws into one unpatriotic state-structure. Like Trojan horses, such machines close ranks, vouching for each other's immortality, since without national character there is no life within them and only the curse of fortune could condemn the forcibly united to immortality. For the very statecraft that brought them into being is also the one that plays with peoples and human beings as with lifeless bodies. But history shows sufficiently that these instruments of human pride are made of clay, and like all clay on earth, they crumble and dissolve.

Die Natur erzieht Familien; der natürlichste Staat ist also auch ein Volk, mit einem Nationalcharakter. Jahrtausendelang erhält sich dieser in ihm und kann, wenn seinem mitgebornen Fürsten daran liegt, am natürlichsten ausgebildet werden; denn ein Volk ist sowohl eine Pflanze der Natur als eine Familie, nur jenes mit mehreren Zweigen. Nichts scheint also dem Zweck der Regierungen so offenbar entgegen als die unnatürliche Vergrößerung der Staaten, die wilde Vermischung der Menschengattungen und Nationen unter einen Zepter. Der Menschenzepter ist viel zu schwach und klein, daß so widersinnige Teile in ihn eingeimpft werden könnten; zusammengeleimt werden sie also in eine brechliche Maschine, die man Staatsmaschine nennet, ohne inneres Leben und Sympathie der Teile gegeneinander. Reiche dieser Art, die dem besten Monarchen den Namen Vater des Vaterlandes so schwer machen, erscheinen in der Geschichte wie jene Symbole der Monarchien im Traumbilde des Propheten, wo sich das Löwenhaupt mit dem Drachenschweif und der Adlersflügel mit dem Bärenfuß zu einem unpatriotischen Staatsgebilde vereinigt Wie trojanische Rosse rücken solche Maschinen zusammen, sich einander die Unsterblichkeit verbürgend, da doch ohne Nationalcharakter kein Leben in ihnen ist und für die Zusammengezwungenen nur der Fluch des Schicksals sie zur Unsterblichkeit verdammen könnte; denn eben die Staatskunst, die sie hervorbrachte, ist auch die, die mit Völkern und Menschen als mit leblosen Körpern spielet. Aber die Geschichte zeigt gnugsam, daß diese Werkzeuge des menschlichen Stolzes von Ton sind und wie aller Ton auf der Erde zerbrechen oder zerfließen.
Yoram Hazony, The Virtue of Nationalism (New York: Basic Books, 2018), pp. 112-113:
In this passage, Herder describes the imperial state as nothing other than a "curse" to all involved. According to this point of view, human government is inherently limited in what it can attain, and can be strong and effective only when it relies on the "bonds of sentiment" that unite a single nation in a national state whose leaders are drawn from the people. The "unnatural enlargement of states," which forces many nations together under a single rule, is not based on such bonds of sentiment. It only increases the burdens and difficulties piled on the state as "incongruous parts" that are not bound together by mutual loyalty are added to it, until eventually it survives only as a "patched up contraption" groaning under the weight of these troubles.



Francis Grose (1731-1791), A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 2nd ed. (London: S. Hooper, 1788), unpaginated:
FART CATCHER. A valet or footman, from his walking behind his master or mistress.

George Cardinal Pell, with cappa magna

Pedosequus is my own coinage, suggested by the following:
  1. Latin pĕdĭsĕquus = footman, man-servant, page
  2. Latin pēdo = break wind
  3. Greek παῖς, παιδός = child, boy (cf. pedophile and its apocopated form pedo)

Friday, January 18, 2019


Wish List

John Ruskin, letter to Charles Eliot Norton (December 28, 1858):
I want to get all the Titians—Tintorets—Paul Veroneses, Turners and Sir Joshuas—in the world—into one great fireproof Gothic gallery of marble and serpentine. I want to get them all perfectly engraved. I want to go and draw all the subjects of Turner's 19,000 sketches in Switzerland & Italy elaborated out myself. I want to get everybody a dinner who has'nt got one. I want to macadamize some new roads to heaven with broken fool's heads. I want to hang up some knaves out of the way: not that I've any dislike to them; but I think it would be wholesome for them; and for other people, and that they would make good crow's meat. I want to play all day long and arrange my cabinet of minerals with new white wool. I want somebody to nurse me when I'm tired. I want Turner's pictures not to fade. I want to be able to draw clouds, and to understand how they go—and I can't make them stand still—nor understand them—They all go sideways—πλάγιαι—(what a fellow that Aristophanes was—and and yet to be always in the wrong, in the Main—except in his love for Aeschylus and the country—Did ever a worthy man do so much mischief on the face of the Earth?) Farther, I want to make the Italians industrious—the Americans quiet;—the Swiss Romantic;—the Roman Catholics Rational—and the English Parliament honest—and I can't do anything and don't understand what I was born for.
Some items on Ruskin's wish list overlap with items on mine.


The Hyaenas

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), "The Hyaenas," The Years Between (Garden City: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1919), pp. 66-67:
After the burial-parties leave
    And the baffled kites have fled;
The wise hyaenas come out at eve
    To take account of our dead.

How he died and why he died
    Troubles them not a whit.
They snout the bushes and stones aside
    And dig till they come to it.

They are only resolute they shall eat
    That they and their mates may thrive,
And they know that the dead are safer meat
    Than the weakest thing alive.

(For a goat may butt, and a worm may sting,
    And a child will sometimes stand;
But a poor dead soldier of the King
    Can never lift a hand.)

They whoop and halloo and scatter the dirt
    Until their tushes white
Take good hold in the army shirt,
    And tug the corpse to light,

And the pitiful face is shewn again
    For an instant ere they close;
But it is not discovered to living men—
    Only to God and to those

Who, being soulless, are free from shame,
    Whatever meat they may find.
Nor do they defile the dead man's name—
    That is reserved for his kind.


More Obvious to the Nose Than Ears

Francis Grose (1731-1791), A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 2nd ed. (London: S. Hooper, 1788), unpaginated:
FICE, or FOYSE. A small windy escape backwards, more obvious to the nose than ears; frequently by old ladies charged on their lap dogs. See FIZZLE.
Related posts:



The Academic Study of Literature

Michel Houellebecq, Submission, Part I (tr. Lorin Stein):
The academic study of literature leads basically nowhere, as we all know, unless you happen to be an especially gifted student, in which case it prepares you for a career teaching the academic study of literature — it is, in other words, a rather farcical system that exists solely to replicate itself and yet manages to fail more than 95 per cent of the time.

Les études universitaires dans le domaine des lettres ne conduisent comme on le sait à peu près à rien, sinon pour les étudiants les plus doués à une carrière d'enseignement universitaire dans le domaine des lettres — on a en somme la situation plutôt cocasse d'un système n'ayant d'autre objectif que sa propre reproduction, assorti d'un taux de déchet supérieur à 95 %.
I'd never felt the slightest vocation for teaching — and my fifteen years as a teacher had only confirmed that initial lack of calling. What little private tutoring I'd done, to raise my standard of living, soon convinced me that the transmission of knowledge was generally impossible, the variance of intelligence extreme, and that nothing could undo or even mitigate this basic inequality. Worse, maybe, I didn't like young people and never had, even when I might have been numbered among them.

Je n'avais jamais eu la moindre vocation pour l'enseignement — et, quinze ans plus tard, ma carrière n'avait fait que confirmer cette absence de vocation initiale. Quelques cours particuliers donnés dans l'espoir d'améliorer mon niveau de vie m'avaient très tôt convaincu que la transmission du savoir était la plupart du temps impossible; la diversité des intelligences, extrême; et que rien ne pouvait supprimer ni même atténuer cette inégalité fondamentale. Peut-être plus grave encore, je n'aimais pas les jeunes — et je ne les avais jamais aimés, même du temps où je pouvais être considéré comme faisant partie de leurs rangs.



Sallust, Jugurthine War 41.5 (tr. William W. Batstone):
For the aristocracy twisted their 'dignity' and the people twisted 'liberty' towards their desires; every man acted on his own behalf, stealing, robbing, plundering. In this way all political life was torn apart between two parties, and the Republic, which had been our common ground, was mutilated.

namque coepere nobilitas dignitatem, populus libertatem in libidinem vertere, sibi quisque ducere, trahere, rapere. ita omnia in duas partis abstracta sunt, res publica, quae media fuerat, dilacerata.
See D.C. Earl, The Political Thought of Sallust (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1961), pp. 53-57.

Id. 41.9:
And so, joined with power, greed without moderation or measure invaded, polluted, and devastated everything, considered nothing valuable or sacred, until it brought about its own collapse.

ita cum potentia avaritia sine modo modestiaque invadere, polluere et vastare omnia, nihil pensi neque sancti habere, quoad semet ipsa praecipitavit.
Id. 42.4:
In general, this is what destroys great states: one group wants to overcome the other in any possible way and then to take a bitter vengeance on the defeated.

quae res plerumque magnas civitatis pessum dedit, dum alteri alteros vincere quovis modo et victos acerbius ulcisci volunt.

Thursday, January 17, 2019


Burckhardt's Philosophy

H.R. Trevor-Roper (1914-2003), "The Faustian Historian: Jacob Burckhardt," Historical Essays (London: Macmillan & Co Ltd, 1963), pp. 273-278 (at 275):
For if one looks for the heart of Burckhardt's philosophy, it always comes back to this: civilisation is a delicate and precarious thing which only an educated and perhaps unscrupulously self-preserving hierarchy can protect against the numerical revolt of the masses with their materialism, their indifference to liberty, their ready surrender to demagogic power; and the crises of civilisation consist in precisely that revolt of the masses which, however, can never prevail against the strength of conservative institutions unless it is aided from within by moral and intellectual decay.


The Best Part of Waking Up

John Ruskin, letter to Charles Eliot Norton (October 5, 1876, from Venice):
I wake as a matter of course, about half-past five, and get up and go out on my balcony in my nightgown to see if there's going to be a nice dawn.

That's the view I have from it—with the pretty traceried balcony of the Contarini Fasan next door. Generally there is a good dawn (nothing but sunshine and moonlight for the last month). At six I get up, and dress, with, occasionally, balcony interludes but always get to my writing table at seven, where, by scolding and paying, I secure my punctual cup of coffee, and do a bit of the Laws of Plato to build the day on. I find Jowett's translation is good for nothing and shall do one myself, as I've intended these fifteen years.

Charles Spencelayh, Morning Chapter

Related post: Necessary to My Existence.



Du Fu (712-770), "Hiding My Traces," last two lines (tr. Stephen Owen):
May I attain a hundred years of general drunkenness
and not comb my hair for a whole month.


Charlatans in Charge

Xenophon, Memorabilia 1.7.5 (tr. E.C. Marchant):
The man who persuades you to lend him money or goods and then keeps them is without doubt a rogue; but much the greatest rogue of all is the man who has gulled his city into the belief that he is fit to direct it.

ἀπατεῶνα δ' ἐκάλει οὐ μικρὸν μὲν οὐδ' εἴ τις ἀργύριον ἢ σκεῦος παρά του πειθοῖ λαβὼν ἀποστεροίη, πολὺ δὲ μέγιστον ὅστις μηδενὸς ἄξιος ὢν ἐξηπατήκοι πείθων ὡς ἱκανὸς εἴη τῆς πόλεως ἡγεῖσθαι.
Marchant's translation omits μηδενὸς ἄξιος ὢν. The translation of Hugh Tredennick (rev. Robin Waterfield) is closer to the Greek:
It was no slight deception, he said, even to deprive another person by persuasion of a sum of money or an article of value, but it was the grossest deception of all for a good-for-nothing person to convey the false impression that he was capable of directing the State.



The word corybungus isn't in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Albert Barrère and Charles G. Leland, A Dictionary of Slang, Jargon & Cant, Vol. I (London: Ballantyne Press, 1889), p. 274:
Corybungus (pugilistic), backside.
History of the Great International Contest between Heenan and Sayers (London: George Newbold, 1860), p. 163 (describing the "Fight between Tom Sayers and George Sims, for £75, (£50 to £25) on Tuesday, the 28th of February, 1854, at Longreach"):
Round 1.—Sims, although much taller than Sayers, seemed quite a lath before him, and as soon as he held up his hands, displayed such extreme awkwardness that it was evidently "sovereigns to sassingers" on Sayers, and Dan Dismore immediately offered 4 to 1 on him, which was taken by Jem Burn on the off chance. Sims, after a little unartistic squaring, lunged out awkwardly, and caught Tom on the chest with his left. Tom, who was evidently waiting to find out what his adversary could do, returned smartly on the gob, and in getting back, fell on his corybungus.
Sassinger (meaning sausage) isn't in the Oxford English Dictionary either.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019



Cyprian, Letters 74.9 (tr. Rose Bernard Donna):
Nor ought custom which has crept in among some hinder us from letting truth prevail and conquer. For custom without truth is the antiquity of error.

nec consuetudo quae apud quosdam obrepserat impedire debet quo minus veritas praevaleat et vincat. nam consuetudo sine veritate vetustas erroris est.


People Are Idiots

A.L. Rowse (1903-1997), "Vanishing Britain," Portraits and Views, Literary and Historical (London: The Macmillan Press Ltd, 1979), pp. 234-239 (at 235):
Myself, I see no reason why anybody should have a car unless he needs one for his business: four hundred people in one train are better for the landscape, fuel, etc., than four hundred people in separate cars. There are far too many people anyway in an overcrowded island — fancy importing more, simply because the whites won't work, and here people have 'never had it so good', in that revealing phrase. With too many people there is naturally pollution of every kind — in the air, the rivers and streams, around the coasts, with consequent destruction to bird and animal-life. I am less concerned about the disappearance of the natterjack toad than I am about the destruction of sea-birds, and the recession of wild-flowers from the hedges within miles of towns — the motor-car again. Mr Christian rightly notices the diminishing primroses. When I was a boy the hedges all round my native town were starred with them in spring — not so today, for the hundreds of idiots picking them. (Why must they do it? Answer: because people are idiots.)



Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837), "Remembrance," tr. Maurice Baring, Have You Anything to Declare? A Note Book with Commentaries (1936; rpt. London: William Heinemann Ltd, 1951), p. 244:
When the loud day for men who sow and reap
   Grows still, and on the silence of the town
The unsubstantial veils of night and sleep,
   The meed of the day's labour, settle down,
Then for me in the stillness of the night
   The wasting, watchful hours drag on their course,
And in the idle darkness comes the bite
   Of all the burning serpents of remorse;
Dreams seethe; and fretful infelicities
   Are swarming in my over-burdened soul,
And Memory before my wakeful eyes
   With noiseless hand unwinds her lengthy scroll.
Then, as with loathing I peruse the years,
   I tremble, and I curse my natal day,
Wail bitterly, and bitterly shed tears,
   But cannot wash the woeful script away.



Xenophon, Memorabilia 2.3.16 (tr. E.C. Marchant):
Is it not the general opinion that a young man should make way for an older when they meet, offer his seat to him, give him a comfortable bed, let him have the first word?

οὐ γὰρ καὶ ὁδοῦ παραχωρῆσαι τὸν νεώτερον πρεσβυτέρῳ συντυγχάνοντι πανταχοῦ νομίζεται καὶ καθήμενον ὑπαναστῆναι καὶ κοίτῃ μαλακῇ τιμῆσαι καὶ λόγων ὑπεῖξαι;
Plato, Laws 879 c (tr. R.G. Bury):
Therefore let the law stand thus:—Everyone shall reverence his elder both by deed and word...

ὧδε οὖν ἔστω· πᾶς ἡμῖν αἰδείσθω τὸν ἑαυτοῦ πρεσβύτερον ἔργῳ τε καὶ ἔπει...


Angry Old Men

Euripides, Andromache 727-728 (tr. David Kovacs):
Old men are a thing unrestrained
and are hard to control because of their quick tempers.

ἀνειμένον τι χρῆμα πρεσβυτῶν γένος
καὶ δυσφύλακτον ὀξυθυμίας ὕπο.
Aristotle, Rhetoric 2.13.13 (1390 a, on old men; tr. John Henry Freese):
Their outbursts of anger are violent, but feeble.

καὶ οἱ θυμοὶ ὀξεῖς μὲν ἀσθενεῖς δέ εἰσιν.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


The Elites

Euripides, Andromache 699-702 (tr. Deborah Roberts):
Sitting solemnly in office they think bigger thoughts
than the common people, although they are nobodies.
But if the people could only plan and dare,
they would be a thousand times wiser than the great.

σεμνοὶ δ᾿ ἐν ἀρχαῖς ἥμενοι κατὰ πτόλιν
φρονοῦσι δήμου μεῖζον, ὄντες οὐδένες·
οἱ δ᾿ εἰσὶν αὐτῶν μυρίῳ σοφώτεροι,
εἰ τόλμα προσγένοιτο βούλησίς θ᾿ ἅμα.

699-702 del. Karl Busche, "Zu Euripides Andromache," Neue Jahrbücher für Philologie und Paedagogik 137 (1888) 457-471 (pp. 464-465)



Jane Austen (1775-1817), Pride and Prejudice, chapter XXIV (Elizabeth Bennet speaking):
There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more I am dissatisfied with it...



With my "small Latine and lesse Greeke," it would be presumptuous of me to criticize the work of eminent classical scholars. The following notes aren't really criticisms, just my attempts to understand better the passages quoted.

Euripides, Andromache 89-90 (tr. David Kovacs):
I will go, since in any case if something happens to me the life of a slave is not much to envy.

ἀλλ᾿ εἶμ᾿, ἐπεί τοι κοὐ περίβλεπτος βίος
δούλης γυναικός, ἤν τι καὶ πάθω κακόν.
More literally:
I will go, since in any case if something bad happens to me the life of a slave woman is not much to envy.
Id., 94-95:
It is natural for women to get pleasure from their present misfortunes, by constantly having them on their lips.

                                            ἐμπέφυκε γὰρ
γυναιξὶ τέρψις τῶν παρεστώτων κακῶν
ἀνὰ στόμ᾿ αἰεὶ καὶ διὰ γλώσσης ἔχειν.
More literally:
It is natural for women to get pleasure from their present misfortunes, by constantly having them in the mouth and on the tongue.
Id., 117-118:
Woman, seated all this time upon the floor of Thetis' shrine, never leaving it...

ὦ γύναι, ἃ Θέτιδος δάπεδον καὶ ἀνάκτορα θάσσεις
δαρὸν οὐδὲ λείπεις...
δάπεδον καὶ ἀνάκτορα form a hendiadys. Cf. the rendering of Gregory Nagy:
My lady, you who have been sitting there on the sacred ground and precinct of Thetis for some time now, unwilling to leave...
Id., 1208:
To die, to die before your children did—this would have been right!

θανεῖν θανεῖν σε, πρέσβυ, χρῆν πάρος τέκνων.
More literally:
To die, to die before your children did—this would have been right, old man!


Down Come the Tall Trees

Dear Mike,

I wonder if Rowse was thinking of the section below?

W.G. Hoskins, The Making of the English Landscape (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1955), pp. 231-232:
The industrial revolution and the creation of parks around the country houses have taken us down to the later years of the nineteenth century. Since that time, and especially since the year 1914, every single change in the English landscape has either uglified it or destroyed its meaning, or both. Of all the changes in the last two generations, only the great reservoirs of water for the industrial cities of the North and Midlands have added anything to the scene that one can contemplate without pain. It is a distasteful subject, but it must be faced for a few moments.

The country houses decay and fall: hardly a week passes when one does not see the auctioneer's notice of the impending sale and dissolution of some big estate. The house is seized by the demolition contractors, its park invaded and churned up by the tractors and trailers of the timber merchant. Down comes the house; down come the tall trees, naked and gashed lies the once-beautiful park. Or if it stands near a town, the political planners swarm into the house, turn it into a rabbit-warren of black-hatted officers of This and That, and the park becomes a site for some "overspill" — a word as beastly as the thing it describes. We may indeed find the great house still standing tidily in a timbered park: but it is occupied by what the villagers describe detachedly as "the atom men," something remote from the rest of us, though not remote in the sense they themselves like to think. And if the planners are really fortunate, they fill the house with their paper and their black hats, and their open-cast mining of coal or iron ore simultaneously finishes off the park. They can sit at their big desks and contemplate with an exquisite joy how everything is now being put to a good use. Demos and Science are the joint Emperors.

Beyond the park, in some parts of England such as East Anglia, the bull-dozer rams at the old hedges, blots them out to make fields big and vacant enough for the machines of the new ranch-farming and the business-men farmers of five to ten thousand acres. Fortunately, the tractor and the bull-dozer cannot easily destroy the great hedgebanks and stone walls of the anciently-enclosed parts of England; nor is it worth doing, for the good farmer knows the value of these banks and walls as shelter, and of the hedges for timber. Much of the old field pattern therefore remains, with its tangle of deep lanes and thick hedges.

What else has happened in the immemorial landscape of the English countryside? Airfields have flayed it bare wherever there are level, well-drained stretches of land, above all in eastern England. Poor devastated Lincolnshire and Suffolk! And those long gentle lines of the dip-slope of the Cotswolds, those misty uplands of the sheep-grey oolite, how they have lent themselves to the villainous requirements of the new age! Over them drones, day after day, the obscene shape of the atom-bomber, laying a trail like a filthy slug upon Constable's and Gainsborough's sky. England of the Nissen hut, the "pre-fab," and the electric fence, of the high barbed wire around some unmentionable devilment; England of the arterial by-pass, treeless and stinking of diesel oil, murderous with lorries; England of the bombing-range wherever there was once silence, as on Otmoor or the marsh-lands of Lincolnshire; England of battle-training areas on the Breckland heaths, and tanks crashing through empty ruined Wiltshire villages; England of high explosive falling upon the prehistoric monuments of Dartmoor. Barbaric England of the scientists, the military men, and the politicians: let us turn away and contemplate the past before all is lost to the vandals.
In a similar vein, he excoriates 20th century Exeter (his native city).

W.G. Hoskins, Two Thousand Years in Exeter (Chichester: Phillimore & Co., 1960; rpt. 1974), pp. 133-135:
Eighteen years and more have gone by since the city was devastated. Much has been rebuilt in a commonplace style that might belong anywhere: it is not distinctive as the old Exeter was, with its rich regional flavour. Once more Exeter is the capital of South-Western England, and its shops and streets are as crowded as they ever were. It is still the same kind of city, with seven out of ten of its occupied population providing services of one kind or another. In numbers it grows very slowly, but with the clearing of the congested areas it spreads more and more into the surrounding country. Yet green fields are still visible from most of its streets even today, and it remains one of the most attractive cities in England to look at and to live in.

Its two greatest enemies are the motor-car and the speculative builder. In 1947 there were rather fewer than four thousand private cars registered in the city. Now there are more than twice as many, and more than twice as many commercial vehicles. The narrow streets are being torn apart and much of old Exeter is being lost because everything must be sacrificed to enable the motorist to go one mile an hour faster or to save his withered legs from a moment's walking. The motorist's demands upon our city are endlessly greedy and selfish. But people are more important than vehicles. The motorist must be kept firmly in his place, for he brings the kiss of death wherever he goes.

As for the speculative builder, he seizes daily upon the large houses that were built in late Georgian and early Victorian days, in their large, well-tree'd gardens, and clears the whole site in order to make the maximum profit. The old house comes down, and the beautiful trees, inherited from our grandfathers and great-grandfathers, are sacrificed in order to cram two or three more tatty little houses into the old garden. In twenty years' time, the opulent and seemly houses that were built in an age of elegance will have been replaced by a desert of bricks and concrete.

There is another profound difference between the city of 1960 and that of a hundred years ago. A century ago, two centuries ago, Exeter was a cultured place, the social and intellectual capital of a rich and varied province. Look how highly Richard Ford spoke of it in the 1830s, when he came to live here! Today the city library, burnt out nearly twenty years ago, is still a shambles. The failure to rebuild it is the greatest disgrace in the post-war history of the city. It is clear that books are not considered to be important in modern Exeter. How vastly different from our Victorian forefathers when they founded the Free Library in 1869! (see the Preface)

This failure to provide a good library for the people of Exeter is only the most obvious symptom of some obscure disease that goes very deep. Somewhere between 1860 and now, Exeter ceased to be a cultured city. It would be instructive to trace exactly when and how this profound rot set in, a fascinating and melancholy problem for some social historian. I suspect that the rot was going on rapidly during the later years of the nineteenth century: but what brought it about? Were late Victorians so different from their fathers and grandfathers? Why did the learned societies of Exeter disappear one by one? Why does the Devon and Exeter Institution, that learned library which Richard Ford so greatly admired, gather dust silently, and struggle to make ends meet? The people of Exeter seem to be able to exist happily without any good music: the theatre, centuries old as a tradition in the city, staggers from crisis to crisis. We cannot blame the cinema or television: the rot had set in long before either made its appearance. George Gissing noted in the early 1890s that Exeter people did not support good music even then. In a letter to his sister (December 30, 1892), written from No. 1, St. Leonard's Terrace, where he was living, he says: "We went to hear the Elijah, but it was very poorly done. Curious that the people of Exeter will not support anything good in drama or music." In another letter he complains of Exeter that "intellectually it is very dull". This could never have been said forty years earlier.

For the last two generations or more Exeter has ceased to care about any of these things. It has changed greatly for the worse in this respect. The new university, established in 1956 after its abortive start so many centuries ago, cannot fail in time to bring the ancient culture of Exeter back to life. Two or three generations are after all a very short time. Caerwysc, Isca, Exancester, Exeter — more than seventy generations of people have opened their eyes and closed them for the last time in this ancient city of ours.

And there remains much that is beautiful to look at. There are still dark ilex trees overhanging old stone walls, and there are the little sandstone churches up and down the main streets, with their startling red towers against the blue-and-white sky. And though the river-front has been despoiled in part, there is still the long-deserted quay with its noble Warehouses, built just before the coming of the railways; and the canal, probably the most beautiful ship-canal in England, carrying very little traffic but providing the most peaceful of walks along its banks down to Topsham and beyond, to, where the Exe scents the open sea: the same shining river that brought the pre-historic ships up to earliest Exeter more than two thousand years ago.
Best wishes,
Eric [Thomson]


Monday, January 14, 2019


Isn't It?

A.L. Rowse (1903-1997), "Rudyard Kipling," The English Spirit: Essays in Literature and History, rev. ed. (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1966), pp. 229-245 (at 231):
Lionel Curtis, who knew Kipling well, used to tell me that he was really two men: there was the Morning Post reactionary, who hated everything about the modern world and thought it was going to the dogs (isn't it?); and, on the other side, there was the visionary, with his extreme intuitive senses, the gift of second sight, the prophetic, the truly inspired.
Cf. Rowse himself, quoted in Time magazine (November 13, 1978):
This filthy twentieth century. I hate its guts.
Rowse, "Vanishing English Landscapes," Portraits and Views, Literary and Historical (London: The Macmillan Press Ltd, 1979), pp. 140-146 (at 142-143):
No doubt there are prefigurations of a new kind of society forming — in the creeping suburbia that is the real landscape of contemporary England, the TV culture that goes with it, the TV masts at every house (TV is the contemporary religion), the high-rise tenements to accommodate a madly inflated population for so small an island, the neuroses that go with over-population, the pushing and shoving, the violence, the drugs, the wish to escape. All I can say is that I agree with Hoskins in detesting everything about contemporary society (except its dentistry).


Abode of Despair

Edmund Spenser (1552-1599), The Faerie Queene, Book I, Canto 9, Stanza 35 (lines 307-315):
That darkesome cave they enter, where they find
That cursèd man, low sitting on the ground,
Musing full sadly in his sullein mind;
His griesie lockes, long growen, and unbound,        310
Disordred hong about his shoulders round,
And hid his face; through which his hollow eyne
Lookt deadly dull, and starèd as astound;
His raw-bone cheekes through penurie and pine,
Were shronke into his jawes, as he did never dine.        315
A.C. Hamilton ad loc.:
3 sullein: gloomy; morose; cf. 'solein' (OED 5). Despaire displays the outward symptoms of melancholy described by Burton, Anat. Mel., and therefore of Saturn (see II ix 52.8-9n). 4 griesie: grey, grizzled; horrible, hideous; filthy. 8-9 Cf. the appearance of the Red Cross Knight upon emerging from Orgoglio's dungeon at viii 41. penurie and pine: lack of food and the suffering that follows.


Passive Periphrastic

George Will, "Referenda Delenda Est," National Review (January 13, 2019).

Referendum delendum est, or Referenda delenda sunt, but not, please, the ungrammatical Referenda delenda est, even if you want the reader to recall Carthago delenda est.



Xenophon, Memorabilia 3.6.16 (Socrates to Glaucon; tr. E.C. Marchant):
Don't you see how risky it is to say or do what you don't understand?

ἢ οὐχ ὁρᾷς, ὡς σφαλερόν ἐστι τὸ ἃ μὴ οἶδέ τις, ταῦτα ἢ λέγειν ἢ πράττειν;


Tory Anarchists

Max Beerbohm (1872-1956), "Servants," And Even Now (New York: E.P. Dutton & Company, 1921), pp. 163-185 (at 185):
...I am a Tory Anarchist. I should like every one to go about doing just as he pleased — short of altering any of the things to which I have grown accustomed.
George Orwell (1903-1950), "Politics vs. Literature: An Examination of Gulliver's Travels," Polemic 5 (September-October, 1946) 5-21, rpt. in The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, Vol. 4: In Front of Your Nose, 1945-1950 (London: Secker & Warburg, 1968), pp. 205-223 (at 216):
We are right to think of Swift as a rebel and iconoclast, but except in certain secondary matters, such as his insistence that women should receive the same education as men, he cannot be labelled "left". He is a Tory anarchist, despising authority while disbelieving in liberty, and preserving the aristocratic outlook while seeing clearly that the existing aristocracy is degenerate and contemptible.
Hat tip: Patrick Kurp.


The Distorting Background and Unequal Scholarship

H.R. Trevor-Roper (1914-2003), "Twice Martyred: The Engish Jesuits and Their Historians," Historical Essays (London: Macmillan & Co Ltd, 1963), pp. 113-118 (at 116-117):
For what is the technique of these new manipulators of devoted lives? The basic principles are simple. First, there is the distorting background. Nowadays, to carry conviction, a historian must document, or appear to document, his formal narrative, but his background, his generalisations, allusions, comparisons remain happily free from this inconvenience. This freedom is very useful: against an imaginary background even correctly stated facts can be wonderfully transformed. If Elizabethan government, for instance, is regularly described as 'totalitarian', if priests are sent to 'concentration-camps', if Catholic plots are darkly compared with the burning of the Reichstag, then an image is created which, though undocumented, dominates the mere detail for which alone the author takes responsibility. Moreover, such a background does not even need imagination. Pedestrian apologists who play for safety can construct it very effectively by mere omission. Just as Fr. Philip Hughes has contrived to write a portentous three-volume history of that 'immensely harmful' movement, the English Reformation, in which the great religious movement for reform of the Church is unobserved and such details as the burning of Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley are never explicitly mentioned, so Fr. Devlin, in his new biography of Robert Southwell,1 contrives never to make clear the interesting and relevant fact that throughout Southwell's mission England and Spain were at war. This is a remarkable achievement. Needless to say, it greatly helps his argument. The argument, it may be added, can do with such help.

The second principle of this new technique is more positive. It is the principle of unequal scholarship: the scrupulous straining at small historical gnats which diverts attention from the silent digestion of large and inconvenient camels. How choosily these Jesuit historians nibble when the matter is of no great significance (thus winning tributes to their scholarship from lay reviewers), and yet what enormous gulps they take when no one — they think — is looking! How learnedly Fr. Caraman, for instance, annotates those minor recusant gentry, tracing their manors, their marriages and their movements; and yet, when it comes to a significant point — say, Sir Robert Cecil's attitude to the Spanish claims — he unhesitatingly gives us an answer which, though convenient to him, can be blown sky-high by mere reference to the sources. How learnedly Fr. Devlin refutes his own misquotation from Professor Conyers Read (whose name he regularly mis-spells); and yet, when a document is inconvenient, he summarily declares it first a probable, then, by an inconspicuous transition, a known forgery! Whenever the Jesuits are involved in controversy, their version of the facts, we are told, is 'the only accurate account', 'far closer to the truth' than any other, contemporary or modern. On the Babington Plot, for instance, through whose intricacies Fr. Devlin has led the grateful Fr. Caraman, modern scholars receive 'serious reproach' for accepting 'a whole edifice of lies ... in violation of the known truth' — i.e. what a Jesuit said was the truth.

1Christopher Devlin, S.J., The Life of Robert Southwell: Poet and Martyr (London 1956).

Sunday, January 13, 2019


Cruel Time

Walter Ralegh (1554–1618), "Nature That Washed Her Hands in Milk," lines 31-36:
Oh cruel time which takes in trust
Our youth, our joys, and all we have,
And pays us but with age and dust,
Who in the dark and silent grave,
When we have wandered all our ways
Shuts up the story of our days.


Against Covetousness

Hugh Latimer (1487-1555), "Last Sermon Preached Before Edward the Sixth," Sermons (London: J.M. Dent & Co., 1906), pp. 206-244 (at 213):
Speak against covetousness, and cry out upon it. Stand not ticking and toying at the branches nor at the boughs, for then there will new boughs and branches spring again of them; but strike at the root, and fear not these giants of England, these great men and men of power, these men that are oppressors of the poor; fear them not, but strike at the root of all evil, which is mischievous covetousness.
Id. (at 215):
The poorest ploughman is in Christ equal with the greatest prince that is. Let them, therefore, have sufficient to maintain them, and to find them their necessaries. A plough-land must have sheep; yea, they must have sheep to dung their ground for bearing of corn; for if they have no sheep to help to fat the ground, they shall have but bare corn and thin. They must have swine for their food, to make their veneries or bacon of: their bacon is their venison, for they shall now have hangum tuum, if they get any other venison; so that bacon is their necessary meat to feed on, which they may not lack. They must have other cattle as horses to draw their plough, and for carriage of things to the markets; and kine for their milk and cheese, which they must live upon and pay their rents. These cattle must have pasture, which pasture if they lack, the rest must needs fail them: and pasture they cannot have, if the land be taken in, and inclosed from them.
Id. (at 239-240):
And he said unto all the audience, Videte et cavete ab avaritia; "See and beware of covetousness." Why so? Quia non in abundantia cujusquam vita ejus est ex his quae possidet; "For no man's life standeth in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." We may have things necessary, and we may have abundance of things; but the abundance doth not make us blessed. It is no good argument, Quo plus quisque habet, tanto beatius vivit; "The more riches that a man hath, the more happily and the more blissfully he liveth." For a certain great man, that had purchased much lands, a thousand marks by year, or I wot not what; a great portion he had: and so on the way, as he was in his journey towards London, or from London, he fell sick by the way; a disease took him, that he was constrained to lie upon it. And so being in his bed, the disease grew more and more upon him, that he was, by his friends that were about him, godly advised to look to himself, and to make him ready to God; for there was none other likelihood but that he must die without remedy. He cried out, "What, shall I die?" quoth he. "Wounds! sides! heart! Shall I die, and thus go from my goods? Go, fetch me some physician that may save my life. Wounds and sides! Shall I thus die?" There lay he still in his bed like a block, with nothing but, "Wounds and sides, shall I die?" Within a very little while he died indeed; and then lay he like a block indeed. There was black gowns, torches, tapers, and ringing of bells; but what is become of him, God knoweth, and not I.

But hereby this ye may perceive, that it is not the abundance of riches that maketh a man to live quietly and blissfully. But the quiet life is in a mediocrity. Mediocres optime vivunt: "They that are in a mean do live best." And there is a proverb which I read many years ago, Dimidium plus toto; "The half sometimes more than the whole." The mean life is the best life and the most quiet life of all. If a man should fill himself up to the throat, he should not find ease in it, but displeasure; and with the one half he might satisfy his greedy appetite. So this great riches never maketh a man's life quiet, but rather troublous.


Reverence for Tradition

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Samuel Kercheval (July 12, 1816), in The Complete Jefferson, ed. Saul K. Padover (New York: Tudor Publishing Company, 1943), p. 291:
Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. I knew that age well; I belonged to it, and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It was very like the present, but without the experience of the present; and forty years of experience in government is worth a century of book-reading; and this they would say themselves, were they to rise from the dead. I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.
Id., p. 292:
Each generation is as independent as the one preceding, as that was of all which had gone before. It has then, like them, a right to choose for itself the form of government it believes most promotive of its own happiness; consequently, to accommodate to the circumstances in which it finds itself, that received from its predecessors; and it is for the peace and good of mankind, that a solemn opportunity of doing this every nineteen or twenty years, should be provided by the constitution; so that it may be handed on, with periodical repairs, from generation to generation, to the end of time, if anything human can so long endure. It is now forty years since the constitution of Virginia was formed. The same tables [of mortality] inform us, that, within that period, two-thirds of the adults then living are now dead. Have then the remaining third, even if they had the wish, the right to hold in obedience to their will, and to laws heretofore made by them, the other two-thirds, who, with themselves, compose the present mass of adults? If they have not, who has? The dead? But the dead have no rights. They are nothing; and nothing cannot own something. Where there is no substance, there can be no accident. This corporeal globe, and everything upon it, belong to its present corporeal inhabitants, during their generation. They alone have a right to direct what is the concern of themselves alone, and to declare the law of that direction; and this declaration can only be made by their majority.
Thomas Jefferson, Second Inaugural Address (referring to those Indians who refused to abandon a nomadic life in favor of a settled, agricultural one), in The Complete Jefferson, p. 455:
These persons inculcate a sanctimonious reverence for the customs of their ancestors; that whatsoever they did, must be done through all time; that reason is a false guide, and to advance under its counsel, in their physical, moral, or political condition, is perilous innovation; that their duty is to remain as their Creator made them, ignorance being safety, and knowledge full of danger; in short, my friends, among them is seen the action and counteraction of good sense and bigotry; they, too, have their anti-philosophers, who find an interest in keeping things in their present state, who dread reformation, and exert all their faculties to maintain the ascendency of habit over the duty of improving our reason, and obeying its mandates.



Hyperides, Funeral Oration 43 (tr. J.O. Burtt):
And furthermore, if death means non-existence, they have been released from sickness and from grief, and from the other ills which vex our human life...

πρὸς δὲ τούτοις, εἰ μέν ἐστι τὸ ἀποθανεῖν ὅμοιον τῷ μὴ γενέσθαι, ἀπηλλαγμένοι εἰσὶ νόσων καὶ λύπης καὶ τῶν ἄλλων τῶν προσπιπτόντων εἰς τὸν ἀνθρώπινον βίον...

Saturday, January 12, 2019


A Deficit of Sympathy

Pindar, Nemean Odes 1.53-54 (tr. Richmond Lattimore):
That which is close to home afflicts all alike,
but a heart soon goes free of grief
over a stranger's unhappiness.

τὸ γὰρ οἰκεῖον πιέζει πάνθ᾿ ὁμῶς·
εὐθὺς δ᾿ ἀπήμων κραδία
κᾶδος ἀμφ᾿ ἀλλότριον.
Theognis 655-656 (tr. Douglas E. Gerber):
We all share your pain, Cyrnus, in your misfortune,
but grief for another is short-lived.

σύν τοι, Κύρνε, παθόντι κακῶς ἀνιώμεθα πάντες·
    ἀλλά τοι ἀλλότριον κῆδος ἐφημέριον.


Greek Pleasures

Ernest Renan (1823-1892), Saint Paul, tr. Ingersoll Lockwood (New York: G.W. Carleton, 1869), p. 141 (note omitted):
A nothing, a tree, a flower, a lizard, a tortoise, giving rise to the recollection of a thousand metamorphoses sung by the poets; a thread of water; a little hollow in the rock, which they term a nymph's cave; a well with a cup on the curb-stone; a strait of the sea, so narrow that the butterflies cross it and still navigable for the largest vessels, as at Poros; orange-trees, cypresses, of which the shade extends upon the sea; a little forest of pines in the midst of rocks; — are sufficient in Greece to produce the contentment awakened by beauty. Walking in the gardens at night, listening to the locusts, sitting in the moonlight while playing the flute, going to the mountain for water and taking with them a little roll of bread, a fish, and a cyathus of wine, which is drunk while singing; in family festivities, hanging a crown of leaves over their door, or going with flowers in their hats; on public fête days, carrying the thyrsus ornamented with leaves; passing whole days in dancing, playing with tame goats, — such are Greek pleasures, the pleasures of a race, poor, economical, eternally young, inhabiting a beautiful country, finding their fortune in themselves and in the gifts which the gods have made them.

Un rien, un arbre, une fleur, un lézard, une tortue, provoquant le souvenir de mille métamorphoses chantées par les poëtes; un filet d'eau, un petit creux dans le rocher, qu'on qualifie d'antre des nymphes; un puits avec une tasse sur la margelle, un pertuis de mer si étroit que les papillons le traversent et pourtant navigable aux plus grands vaisseaux, comme à Poros; des orangers, des cyprès dont l'ombre s'étend sur la mer, un petit bois de pins au milieu des rochers, suffisent en Grèce pour produire le contentement qu'éveille la beauté. Se promener dans les jardins pendant la nuit, écouter les cigales, s'asseoir au clair de lune en jouant de la flûte; aller boire de l'eau dans la montagne, apporter avec soi un petit pain, un poisson et un lécythe de vin qu'on boit en chantant; aux fêtes de famille, suspendre une couronne de feuillage au-dessus de sa porte, aller avec des chapeaux de fleurs; les jours de fêtes publiques, porter des thyrses garnis de feuillages; passer des journées à danser, à jouer avec des chèvres apprivoisées, voilà les plaisirs grecs, plaisirs d'une race pauvre, économe, éternellement jeune, habitant un pays charmant, trouvant son bien en elle-même et dans les dons que les dieux lui ont faits.



Herodotus 2.166.2-167.2 (on the Kalasyries; tr. Robin Waterfield):
They are not allowed to practise any trade either and are trained solely in military activities, with son succeeding father.

I cannot say for certain whether or not this is another thing the Greeks learnt from Egypt, because I see that the Thracians, Scythians, Persians, Lydians, and almost every non-Greek people also regard those who learn a trade and their descendants as the lowest stratum of society, as opposed to those who have nothing to do with artisanship and especially those who concentrate on warfare.

However that may be, all the Greeks have adopted this attitude, with artisans coming in for the most contempt in Lacedaemon, and the least in Corinth.

οὐδὲ τούτοισι ἔξεστι τέχνην ἐπασκῆσαι οὐδεμίαν, ἀλλὰ τὰ ἐς πόλεμον ἐπασκέουσι μοῦνα, παῖς παρὰ πατρὸς ἐκδεκόμενος.

εἰ μέν νυν καὶ τοῦτο παρ᾿ Αἰγυπτίων μεμαθήκασι οἱ Ἕλληνες, οὐκ ἔχω ἀτρεκέως κρῖναι, ὁρέων καὶ Θρήικας καὶ Σκύθας καὶ Πέρσας καὶ Λυδοὺς καὶ σχεδὸν πάντας τοὺς βαρβάρους ἀποτιμοτέρους τῶν ἄλλων ἡγημένους πολιητέων τοὺς τὰς τέχνας μανθάνοντας καὶ τοὺς ἐκγόνους τούτων, τοὺς δὲ ἀπαλλαγμένους τῶν χειρωναξιέων γενναίους νομιζομένους εἶναι, καὶ μάλιστα τοὺς ἐς τὸν πόλεμον ἀνειμένους·

μεμαθήκασι δ᾿ ὦν τοῦτο πάντες οἱ Ἕλληνες καὶ μάλιστα Λακεδαιμόνιοι. ἥκιστα δὲ Κορίνθιοι ὄνονται τοὺς χειροτέχνας.
There is an error in the Greek text of 2.167.2 in the Digital Loeb Classical Library (ὄνοται should be ὄνονται). Here is a screen capture of the mistake:

See Alan B. Lloyd, Herodotus, Book II. Commentary 99-182 (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1993), pp. 196-199.



An Empty World

The Correspondence of Thomas Carlyle and Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1834-1872, Vol. I (Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1883), p. 18 (Carlyle to Emerson, August 12, 1834):
"Not till we can think that here and there one is thinking of us, one is loving us, does this waste Earth become a peopled Garden."
Goethe, Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship, Book VII, Chapter V (tr. Thomas Carlyle):
The world is waste and empty, when we figure only towns and hills and rivers in it: but to know of some one here and there, whom we accord with, who is living with us even in silence, makes this earthy ball a peopled garden.

Die Welt ist so leer, wenn man nur Berge, Flüsse und Städte darin denkt, aber hie und da jemand zu wissen, der mit uns übereinstimmt, mit dem wir auch stillschweigend fortleben, das macht uns dieses Erdenrund erst zu einem bewohnten Garten.

Friday, January 11, 2019


A Flock of Timid and Industrious Animals

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859), Democracy in America, Part II, Book IV, Chapter VI (tr. Henry Reeve):
After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.

I have always thought that servitude of the regular, quiet, and gentle kind which I have just described might be combined more easily than is commonly believed with some of the outward forms of freedom, and that it might even establish itself under the wing of the sovereignty of the people.

Après avoir pris ainsi tour à tour dans ses puissantes mains chaque individu et l'avoir pétri à sa guise, le souverain étend ses bras sur la société tout entière; il en couvre la surface d'un réseau de petites règles compliquées, minutieuses et uniformes, à travers lesquelles les esprits les plus originaux et les âmes les plus vigoureuses ne sauraient se faire jour pour dépasser la foule; il ne brise pas les volontés, mais il les amollit, les plie et les dirige; il force rarement d'agir, mais il s'oppose sans cesse à ce qu'on agisse; il ne détruit point, il empêche de naître; il ne tyrannise point, il gêne, il comprime, il énerve, il éteint, il hébète, et il réduit, enfin, chaque nation à n'être plus qu'un troupeau d'animaux timides et industrieux, dont le gouvernement est le berger.

J'ai toujours cru que cette sorte de servitude, réglée, douce et paisible, dont je viens defaire le tableau, pourrait se combiner mieux qu'on ne l'imagine avec quelques-unes des formes extérieures de la liberté, et qu’il ne lui serait pas impossible de s'établirà l'ombre même de la souveraineté du peuple.


Hide It in Darkness

Owen Daugherty, "'Traditional masculinity' deemed 'harmful' by American Psychological Association," The Hill (January 10, 2019; emphasis added):
The report claims that adhering to the practice of "masculinity ideology” can hinder the development of adolescent boys by "suppressing emotions and masking distress."

The APA notes a bevy of statistics to emphasize that "traditional masculinity — marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression — is, on the whole, harmful."
I prefer Pindar, fragment 42 (tr. William H. Race):
... do not display to strangers what toil
we are bearing; this at least I shall tell you:
one must show one's portion
of noble and pleasant things openly
to all the people; but if any heaven-sent,        5
unbearable trouble befalls men,
it is fitting to hide it in darkness.

... ἀλλοτρίοισιν μὴ προφαίνειν, τίς φέρεται
μόχθος ἄμμιν· τοῦτό γέ τοι ἐρέω·
καλῶν μὲν ὦν μοῖράν τε τερπνῶν
ἐς μέσον χρὴ παντὶ λαῷ
δεικνύναι· εἰ δέ τις ἀνθρώ-        5
ποισι θεόσδοτος ἀτλάτα κακότας
προστύχῃ, ταύταν σκότει κρύπτειν ἔοικεν.
Related posts:

Wednesday, January 09, 2019


Saved By a Pile of Excrement

Brent D. Shaw, Sacred Violence: African Christians and Sectarian Hatred in the Age of Augustine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), pp. 528-529:
Even in the aftermath of the second attack and the new beating that they administered to the Catholic bishop, they still did not kill him. What happened next was something different. His attackers chose instead to drag him up flights of stairs to the top of a nearby high tower and, once they got him to the top of it, they threw him off its height. In other words, they hoped that he might perish by precipitation. And this is the way that the Catholic martyrology presents his suffering: as a precipitation.

Very fortunately for Maximianus, a large mound of human excrement had accumulated at the bottom of the tower. Apparently the town's people and travelers relieved themselves at the base of its walls. The deep heap of human ordure broke the force of Maximianus' plunge from the tower.93 He survived the fall. Fading in and out of consciousness over the next hours, Maximianus barely clung to life. By another good stroke of fortune, there occurred one of those little human dramas that reveal something of daily routines in a late antique town. Later that same night, a poor man, a pauper, and his wife happened to be passing by the tower in the dark. The man made a detour off the road in order to defecate. Apparently, it was known that such acts of personal relief were performed at the foot of this particular tower. (With all that the practice suggests about ordinary sanitary conditions in rural towns like Bagaï.) When the man got to the pile of shit in order to relieve himself, he found the half-dead Catholic bishop of Bagaï on top of it. Immediately recognizing who the man was, he shouted to his wife who, obedient to the normal canons of shame, was waiting for him back on the main road. He called out to her to come quickly and to bring the lantern that she was carrying to light their way in the night (another item that allows us to picture this dimly-lit scene in miniature). The two of them then shouldered the body of the wounded bishop and carried him to their home — "Out of pity," remarks Augustine, "or because they hoped for a small reward."

93 Aug. Contra Cresc. 3.43.47 (CSEL 52: 454): "rursus inruentibus violenter extortus est graviusque mulcatus et de excelsa turri noctu praecipitatus subter cinere stercoris molliter iacebat exceptus, sensu amisso vix extremum spiritum tenens." This is a dirty equivalent of the death of the dissident martyr Marculus who lands softly on the rocks beneath his precipitation: see ch. 16, pp. 751–53.


Tuesday, January 08, 2019


The Boys and the Frogs

Roger L'Estrange, Fables of Aesop and Other Eminent Mythologists, 5th ed. (London: Printed for R. Sare et al., 1708), p. 425 (no. 398—Boys and Frogs)
A Company of Waggish Boys were watching of Frogs at the side of a Pond, and still as any of 'em put up their Heads, they'd be Pelting them down again with Stones. Children (says one of the Frogs) you never Consider, that though this may be Play to you, 'tis Death to us.
Joseph Addison, Spectator No. XXIIII (Tuesday, March 27, 1711), repeats this, citing L'Estrange.

Antoine Houdar de la Motte, One Hundred New Court Fables, tr. Robert Samber (London: Printed for E. Curll, 1721), pp. 231-232:
In Frogland the People lived in Peace, grumbling and croaking as they pleased. While the Frogs were in this happy State, a Company of Boys came down to the Marsh, to disturb their Quiet and Tranquility.

Hark ye, my Lads, says one of them, I have found out a very pretty Play, an innocent War. He that throws his Stone the farthest shall be our King. Done, said they, agreed, and to it they went.

The Stones flew like Hail, every one had a mind to be Conqueror, Children, you see, are like Men, they love Honour. The whole Marsh was covered with Stones in a moment, and the poor Frogs had no Place to retire to. One had his Shoulder put out of joint, another complained he had his Ribs broken, this (to speak in the Language of the Greek Poet) received a Contusion in the Place where the Neck joyns to the Breast, and that died of a great Wound in his Chine.

At last the stoutest of them lifting up his Head, Hark ye, my Masters, says he, for God's sake move a little farther off for your Diversions; chuse a King at a gentler Play than this. This is no Play for us, your Pastimes cost us our Lives; shall we, O Princes, be always Frogs in your Opinion?
In French, from Antoine Houdar de la Motte, Fables nouvelles (Paris: Grégoire Dupuis, 1719), pp. 149-151 (Livre III, Fable V—Les Grenoüilles et les Enfans):
A Vous le dé, Messieurs les Princes;
Vous vous picquez de nobles scntimens.
Vous voulez batailler, conquerir des Provinces:
Ce sont là vos amusemens.
Mais sçavez-vous bîen que nous sommes
Les victimes de ces beaux jeux?
Bon, il n'en coûte que des hommes,
Dites-vous. N'est-ce rien? Vous comptez bien les sommes;
Mais pour les jours des malheureux,
C'est zero: Belle Arithmetique
Qu'introduit vôtre politique!

Des Grenoüilles vivoient en paix,
Barbotant, coassant au gré de leur envie.
Une troupe d'enfans sur les bords du marais
Vint troubler cette douce vie.
Ça, dit l'un d'eux, j'imagine entre nous
Un jeu plaisant, une innocente guerre.
Qui lancera plus loin sa pierre,
Sera nôtre Roi. Tope. Ils y consentent tous.
Pierres voient soudain. Chacun veut la victoire,
L'enfant n'est-il pas homme? Il aime aussi la gloire.
Bien-tôt tout le marais est couvert de cailloux;
Et Grenoüilles pour fuir n'ont pas assez de trous.
L'une a dans le moment l'épaule fracassée;
L'autre se plaint d'une côte enfoncée;
Celle-ci, comme eût dit le Chantre d'Ilion,
Reçoit une contusion
Dans l'endroit où le col se joint à la poitrine;
Celle-là meurt d'un grand coup sur l'échine.
Enfin la plus brave de là
Leve la tête, & dit: Messieurs, holà;
De grace allez plus loin contenter vôtre envie;
Choisissez-vous un maître à quelque jeu plus doux.
Ceci n'est pas un jeu pour nous;
Vos plaisirs nous coûtent la vie.

Rois, serons-nous toûjours des Grenoüilles pour vous?
Cf. Joachim Camerarius, Fabulae Aesopicae (Leiden: Apud Ioan. Tornaesium, 1579), p. 401 (number 417—Ranae et Puer):
Lascivus puer ad stagnum conspicatus ranas exerentes capitula de aquis, per lusum saxis illas appetebat déque illis iugulabat multas. Tum una, Iste quidem puer, inquit, ut videtis, ludit: nostrae autem sorores moriuntur.
Thanks very much to Laura Gibbs for help.

Monday, January 07, 2019


Lessons Taught by Enemies

Aristophanes, Birds 375-380 (tr. Benjamin Bickley Rogers):
Yet to clever folk a foeman very useful hints may show;
Thus, that foresight brings us safety, from a friend we ne'er should know,
But the truth is forced upon us, very quickly, by a foe.
Hence it is that, all the Cities, taught by foe, and not by friend,
Learn to build them ships of battle, and their lofty walls extend;
So by this, a foeman's, teaching children, home, and wealth defend.

ἀλλ᾿ ἀπ᾿ ἐχθρῶν δῆτα πολλὰ μανθάνουσιν οἱ σοφοί.        375
ἡ γὰρ εὐλάβεια σῴζει πάντα. παρὰ μὲν οὖν φίλου
οὐ μάθοις ἂν τοῦθ᾿, ὁ δ᾿ ἐχθρὸς εὐθὺς ἐξηνάγκασεν.
αὐτίχ᾿ αἱ πόλεις παρ᾿ ἀνδρῶν ἔμαθον ἐχθρῶν κοὐ φίλων
ἐκπονεῖν θ᾿ ὑψηλὰ τείχη ναῦς τε κεκτῆσθαι μακράς·
τὸ δὲ μάθημα τοῦτο σῴζει παῖδας, οἶκον, χρήματα.        380

Sunday, January 06, 2019


Terrible Old Ideologues

H.R. Trevor-Roper (1914-2003), "The Dark Ages," Historical Essays (London: Macmillan & Co Ltd, 1963), pp. 12-17 (at 15):
Nobody can like the Church in those days. It was intolerant and obscurantist, and did not improve with time. St. Augustine read the classics — like Marx, the Founding Father was himself a humanist: the old bigot could weep over Dido, and puritanism struggled in his soul with light. His contemporary St. Jerome with difficulty overcame his taste for Cicero. But he overcame it in the end, and once the insidious spirit of humanity had been beaten down, no quarter was shown: it was crushed. St. Augustine organised the rabble in Africa, reducing doctrine to rhythmical slogans wherewith to drown the voice of opposition. St. Cyril organised a blackshirt claque to applaud his oratory in Alexandria. St. Gregory, the Stalin of the early Church, banned all profane learning as offensive and abominable. Truly they were no saints, those terrible old ideologues, past whose history Mr. Dawson so discreetly slides; and what was the solemn liturgy, which he so extols but a narcotic formulary?
Id., p. 16:
So too, no doubt, our new ideologues view our present state, and their liberal fellow-travellers console themselves with an ultimate respectability. Doctrine — unintelligible, reversible, but indubitable; inexorable discipline; insistent propaganda; missionaries and local cells; the cult of saints; a mind-drowning liturgy — all the old machinery has become familiar again.



[Euripides,] Rhesus 510-511 (tr. David Kovacs):
No brave man deigns to kill the enemy by stealth but fights face to face.

οὐδεὶς ἀνὴρ εὔψυχος ἀξιοῖ λάθρᾳ
κτεῖναι τὸν ἐχθρόν, ἀλλ᾿ ἰὼν κατὰ στόμα.
Almut Fries ad loc.:
While epic saw some merit in ambushes and the men who executed them (Il. 13.276–91, Od. 14.468–506), traditional warrior ethics demanded meeting the enemy 'face to face', κατὰ στόμα (408–10a n.). Regarding Odysseus, note especially Antisth. Ai. 5 νῦν δ᾽ οὐκ ἔστιν ὃ διαφέρει πλέον ἐμοῦ καὶ τοῦδε. ὃ μὲν γὰρ οὐκ ἔστιν ὅ τι ἂν δράσειε φανερῶς, ἐγὼ δὲ οὐδὲν ἂν λάθρᾳ τολμήσαιμι πρᾶξαι and, outside war, Phil. 88–91 (Neoptolemus) ἔφυν γὰρ οὐδὲν ἐκ τέχνης πράσσειν κακῆς, / … / ἀλλ᾽ εἴμ᾽ ἑτοῖμος πρὸς βίαν τὸν ἄνδρ᾽ ἄγειν / καὶ μὴ δόλοισιν.
Antisthenes, Ajax 5 (tr. Susan Prince):
But as it is, there is nothing that differs more than I and this man. For there is nothing that he would act out publicly, whereas I would not dare to do anything in secret.
Sophocles, Philoctetes 88-91 (tr. Hugh Lloyd-Jones):
It is my nature to do nothing by treacherous plotting; that is my nature, and it was also my father’s nature. But I am ready to take the man by force and not by cunning.


The Bonds That Unite Us

Edward Everett (1794-1865), "Address," in Revised Report Made to the Legislature of Pennsylvania, Relative to the Soldiers' National Cemetery, at Gettysburg (Harrisburg: Singerly & Myers, 1867), pp. 198-231 (at 230):
The bonds that unite us as one people—a substantial community of origin, language, belief, and law, (the four great ties that hold the societies of men together;) common national and political interests; a common history; a common pride in a glorious ancestry; a common interest in this great heritage of blessings; the very geographical features of the country; the mighty rivers that cross the lines of climate and thus facilitate the interchange of natural and industrial products, while the wonder-working arm of the engineer has levelled the mountain-walls which separate the East and West, compelling your own Alleghenies, my Maryland and Pennsylvania friends, to open wide their everlasting doors to the chariot-wheels of traffic and travel; these bonds of union are of perennial force and energy, while the causes of alienation are imaginary, factitious and transient.
Related posts:


Settling Accounts

Ward W. Briggs, Jr., "Basil L. Gildersleeve at the University of Virginia," in Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve: An American Classicist, edd. Ward W. Briggs, Jr., and Herbert W. Benario (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 9-20 (at p. 14, with note on p. 19):
And Gildersleeve clearly walked into a professional conflict with Harrison. A later account in the University Archives cites one cause:25
Harrison did not believe that the written accents handed down in the Greek manuscripts represented the real pronunciation of the ancients and so he accented Greek after the analogy of the Latin. The consequence was that when Dr. Gildersleeve introduced the Greek accents into the University of Virginia and thereby into the South, a serious obstacle confronted him. To give an account of the ensuing conflict would take up much space. Here at the University the conflict was promptly removed by the very personality of Dr. Gildersleeve with his extraordinary learning and brilliancy, but the conflict continued elsewhere between the teachers who used and the teachers who ignored the written accounts.
25 A six-page biographical sketch, author unknown (UVa accession no. 9315).
For "written accounts" read "written accents" (whether the mistake is due to the original or the transcript).

Gessner Harrison (1807-1862)


Saturday, January 05, 2019


Poring Over Scraps

Karl Maurer (1948-2015), "Teaching Principles:"
Every extant scrap of any ancient work repays the labor one spends on it...
In my opinion, the cybernetic kingdom is an abomination of desolation.
Thanks very much to Daniel Orazio for sending me a copy of "Teaching Principles."



Ovid, Remedies of Love 91-92 (tr. J.H. Mozley, rev. G.P. Goold):
Resist beginnings; too late is the medicine prepared,
when the disease has gained strength by long delay.

principiis obsta; sero medicina paratur,
   cum mala per longas convaluere moras.
Id., 101-102:
I have seen a wound, that at first was healable,
by tarrying suffer the penalty of long delay.

vidi ego, quod fuerat primo sanabile, vulnus
   dilatum longae damna tulisse morae.


Lope of a Wolf

Euripides, Bacchae. Iphigenia at Aulis. Rhesus. Edited and Translated by David Kovacs (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002 = Loeb Classical Library, 495), p. 379 (translation of Rhesus, lines 208-215):
On my back I shall wrap the pelt of a wolf, with the beast's gaping jaws about my head: fitting its forelegs to my arms and its hindlegs to my feet I shall imitate the four-footed gate of a wolf, hard for enemies to detect as I approach the moat and the ships' fortifications. When I reach deserted ground, I will walk on two feet. That is how my deceit is concocted.
Image of the text from the book:

For gate read gait. The misprint persists in the Digital Loeb Classical Library version. I'm aware that gate is an archaic spelling of gait, but the modern spelling occurs on the top of p. 383 ("the gait of a four-footed beast").

The Greek:
λύκειον ἀμφὶ νῶτ᾿ ἐνάψομαι δορὰν
καὶ χάσμα θηρὸς ἀμφ᾿ ἐμῷ θήσω κάρᾳ,
βάσιν τε χερσὶ προσθίαν καθαρμόσας        210
καὶ κῶλα κώλοις, τετράπουν μιμήσομαι
λύκου κέλευθον πολεμίοις δυσεύρετον,
τάφροις πελάζων καὶ νεῶν προβλήμασιν.
ὅταν δ᾿ ἔρημον χῶρον ἐμβαίνω ποδί,
δίβαμος εἶμι· τῇδε σύγκειται δόλος.        215
W.H. Porter, The Rhesus of Euripides (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1916), pp. 55-56:
Dolon's equipment has been much ridiculed by critics from the scholiast down. Musgrave, however, quotes Josephus Bell. Jud. III.7.14, for the use of this stratagem in actual warfare. Josephus there describes how, when besieged by Vespasian in Jotopata, he communicated with friends outside and obtained provisions through messengers who were instructed ἕρπειν τὰ πολλὰ παρὰ τὰς φυλακὰς κελεύσας τοῖς ἐξιοῦσιν καὶ τὰ νῶτα καλύπτειν νάκεσιν, ὡς εἰ καὶ κατίδοι τις αὐτοὺς νύκτωρ φαντασίαν παρέχοιεν κυνῶν. F.W. Newman mentions the same device as in use among the American Indians: "This trick of barbarous warfare came to the knowledge of the English Government from their American colonists. In their war with the natives several English sentinels were killed, no one knew how; until every sentinel was ordered to fire on whatever approached him. One fired and killed a native warrior who was crawling up to him on all fours, in aspect like a large hog."
See also G.W. Elderkin, "Dolon's Disguise in the Rhesus," Classical Philology 30.4 (October, 1935) 349-350.

Lekythos (Paris, Musée du Louvre, accession number CA 1802)

Related post: Wolf-Hame.


Friday, January 04, 2019


I Suck

Matthew Parsons, "Interview: Simone Buckley, Fello," Buying Business Travel (May 4, 2018):
Fello may be a new name for the business travel industry, but its history goes back decades.
As a Latin word, fello's history goes back millennia. Lewis and Short, Latin Dictionary, s.v.:
fello, āvi, 1, v. a., to suck (ante-class. and poet.).

I. Lit.: lac humanum, Varr. ap. NON. 113, 14: lupam, ID. ib. 242, 33.—

II. Transf. obsc., MART. 2, 50, 1 al.; AUS. Epigr. 71, 7.
Alfred Ernout and Alfred Meillet, Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue latine, 4th ed. (Paris: Klincksieck, 2001), p. 224:

See also J.N. Adams, The Latin Sexual Vocabulary (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982; rpt. 1993), pp. 130-132.

Hat tip: A reader, who took the following photograph of a billboard erected by the company:

From Eric Thomson:
Perhaps it isn't such cack-handed branding after all. There's some etymological cryptocurrency there, as PIE *dhehrl-o- has given suck not only to fello but also to fetus, filius, femina, fecundus, felix and, not least, faenus — 'the proceeds of capital lent out; gain, profit, advantage' (Lewis & Short) — filthy lucre in other words.

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