Saturday, October 24, 2020


Vergil, Georgics 1.22

Walter Savage Landor, "Second Conversation" between Samuel Johnson and John Horne Tooke, Imaginary Conversations, Vol. III (London: J.M. Dent & Co., 1909), pp. 400-451 (at 427):
Johnson. Here, take the Georgics; I usually carry them about me.

Tooke. Has Ovid, has Lucan, has any other Latin poet, written such balderdash and bombast as the nineteen verses in the beginning, at the close of an invocation already much too prolix? Why all these additions to the modest prayer of Varro, which he has versified? Here let me suggest a new and a necessary reading just above these lines:—
"Quique novas alitis non ullo semine fruges."
It must be uno, to avoid nonsense,—which is always a benefit, even in poetry,—and so represent wheat, barley, oats, &c.; that is to say "not only one kind of grain." The lines of the letter n and the double l may have been much alike in manuscript, and may have easily misled transcribers. I will not dwell upon the verses after
"Tethys emat omnibus undis;"
but really those eight appear to me like an excrescence on the face of a beautiful boy.

Johnson. They are puerile, are they?—a blemish, a deformity!

Tooke. In honest truth I think so.
So far as I can tell, no editor of Vergil even mentions Landor's conjecture.


Little God of Small Things

Greek Anthology 9.334 (by Perses; tr. J.W. Mackail):
Even me the little god of small things if thou call upon in due season thou shalt find; but ask not for great things; since whatsoever a god of the commons can give to a labouring man, of this I, Tycho, have control.

κἀμὲ τὸν ἐν σμικροῖς ὀλίγον θεὸν ἢν ἐπιβώσῃς
    εὐκαίρως, τεύξῃ· μὴ μεγάλων δὲ γλίχου.
ὡς ὅτι δημοτέρων δύναται θεὸς ἀνδρὶ πενέστῃ
    δωρεῖσθαι, τούτων κύριός εἰμι Τύχων.

Πέρσου εἰς Σατύρου ἢ Πανὸς ἄγαλμα ἢ καὶ Πριήπου corrector cod. Palatini
3 ὅτι Stephanus: ὅτε codd.
δημοτέρων Hecker: δημογέρων codd.
4 Τύχων Reiske: τυχών vel τυχῶν codd.
Diodorus Siculus 4.6.4 (on Priapus; tr. C.H. Oldfather):
This god is also called by some Ithyphallus, by others Tychon.

τοῦτον δὲ τὸν θεὸν τινὲς μὲν Ἰθύφαλλον ὀνομάζουσι, τινὲς δὲ Τύχωνα.
See also Vladymir Borukhovich, "The God Tychon in a Graffito from the Island of Berezan," Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 121 (1998) 165-166.

Friday, October 23, 2020


A Huckster

Procopius, History of the Wars 2.15.25 (tr. H.B. Dewing):
And there has been set over us as ruler a huckster who has made our destitution a kind of business by virtue of the authority of his office.

ἐφέστηκέ τε ἡμῖν ἄρχων κάπηλος, τὴν ἡμετέραν ἀπορίαν ἐργασίαν τινὰ τῇ τῆς ἀρχῆς ἐξουσίᾳ πεποιημένος.


Anglo-Saxon Language and Literature

Allen J. Frantzen, Desire for Origins: New Language, Old English, and Teaching the Tradition (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1990), p. 2 (note omitted):
Many specialists in modern literatures regard medievalists, and especially Anglo-Saxonists, as "antiquaries," a term used in the past—and often used derisively—to denote those who studied the past for its own sake while willfully neglecting the present. Many modernists doubt that a subject so technical, philological, and remote as Anglo-Saxon still merits a place in the business of the undergraduate or graduate degree. Once again, bad pedagogy comes to mind. Many former doctoral candidates recall their graduate courses in Old English, and courses in Beowulf in particular, as a horror of monotonous grammar drills and tedious translation of words that were to be found only once or twice in a text but that still, for some reason, had to be looked up many times. To make matters worse, presiding over this philological busyness were proponents of a culture typified on the one hand by the machismo of carousing in beer halls, of treasure-giving, longing for exile, or complaining about being in exile, and, on the other hand, of piety and guilt, constant reminders of the need to repent in anticipation of the terrors of the Last Judgment. Thus, Anglo-Saxon language and literature recall both the oppression of philological discipline—translation and memorization—and the vague, violent primitivism that cliché has attached to Anglo-Saxon culture.



Walter Savage Landor, "Second Conversation" between Samuel Johnson and John Horne Tooke, Imaginary Conversations, Vol. III (London: J.M. Dent & Co., 1909), pp. 400-451 (at 422-423, Tooke speaking):
I am a bad man, but exactly in the contrary of the word's original meaning, which I thank you for reminding me of. A bad man is a bade man, or bidden man; a slave in other words: and the same idea was attached to the expression by the Italians and the French (while their language and they had a character) in cattivo and chétif, and by us in caitiff, men in no other condition than that wherein they must do as they are bid. We should ourselves have been in no higher condition, if we had not resisted what, in palaces and churches and colleges, was called legitimate power; and indeed we should still be, rather than men, a pliant unsubstantial herbage, springing up from under the smoky, verminous, unconcocted doctrine of passive obedience, to be carted off by our kings amid their carols, and cocked and ricked and cut, and half-devoured, half-trampled, and wasted, in the pinfold of our priesthood.
On the uncertain etymology of bad see the following articles by Anatoly Liberman: Cf. Greek κακός — "Comme pour beaucoup de mots signifiant «mal», pas d'étymologie établie" (Pierre Chantraine), "No clear etymology" (Robert Beekes).

Thursday, October 22, 2020


A Hero

Tom Shippey, Laughing Shall I Die: Lives and Deaths of the Great Vikings (London: Reaktion Books, 2018), p. 37:
A hero is defined not by victory but by defeat. Only in defeat can you show what you're really made of. Only in final defeat can you show that you will never give in. That's why the gods have to die as well. If they did not die, how could they show true courage? If they were really immortal and invulnerable, who would respect them?

Wednesday, October 21, 2020


Coast Guard

Beowulf 318-319 (the coast-guard speaking to Beowulf; tr. J.R.R. Tolkien):
To the sea will I go, against unfriendly hosts my watch to keep.

                                Ic to sæ wille
wið wrað werod      wearde healdan.
Stephen A. Barney, Word-Hoard: An Introduction to Old English Vocabulary, 2nd ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985), p. 19:
Id., p. 65:
Id., p. 31:
On the entire episode (but not these lines) see Margaret W. Pepperdene, "Beowulf and the Coast-Guard," English Studies 47 (1966) 409-419.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020


Personal Hygiene

Arrian, Discourses of Epictetus 4.11.9-18 (tr. Robin Hard):
[9] We should endeavour as far as possible to achieve something similar with regard to the body too. It is impossible that there should not be some flow of mucus from a human being, since he is constituted in the way that he is. For that reason, nature has created hands, and has made our nostrils themselves like tubes to carry away the fluids. So if anyone sniffs them up again, I say that he isn't acting as is appropriate for a human being. [10] It was impossible that our feet should not get muddy, or dirty at all, when we pass through filth of that kind; nature has thus provided us with water and with hands. [11] It was impossible that some dirt should not get left behind on our teeth when we’ve eaten; and so nature says to us, 'Clean your teeth.' Why? So that you may be a human being, and not a wild beast or a pig. [12] It was impossible that through our sweat and the rubbing of our clothes, some uncleanness should not be left behind on our body and need to be cleaned off; for this reason, we have water, oil, hands, a towel, a scraper, and everything else that is used for cleaning the body. [13] Not in your case? But a smith will remove the rust from his iron, and has tools made for that purpose, and you yourself will wash your plate before you eat, unless you're irredeemably dirty and unclean; and yet when it comes to your poor body, you don't want to wash it and make it clean?

'Why should I?', the man says.

[14] I'll tell you again: in the first place, to act as is appropriate for a human being, and secondly, so as not to disgust those whom you meet. [15] You're doing something of that kind even here, without realizing it. You think that you have the right to give out a bad smell. Very well, you may have it. But do you think that those who sit by you, or recline by you at table, should have it too, and those who kiss you? [16] Oh, go off into the desert somewhere, as you deserve, and live there alone, taking pleasure in your own odours. But living in a city as you do, what sort of a person do you think you're showing yourself to be, to behave in such a thoughtless and inconsiderate manner? [17] If nature had entrusted a horse to your care, would you have neglected it and failed to look after it? Well then, think of your own body as a horse that has been entrusted to you; wash it, wipe it, make it such that no one will turn away from you, no one will seek to avoid you. [18] And who doesn't want to avoid a man who is dirty, who smells, and whose skin looks even worse in colour than someone who has been spattered with dung? In the latter case, the smell rises merely from the outside and is accidental, but in the other, it arises from neglect, and thus comes from within, as though from some form of putrefaction.

[9] Δεῖ δέ τι ἐοικὸς τούτῳ καὶ ἐπὶ σώματος φιλοτεχνεῖν κατὰ τὸ ἐνδεχόμενον. ἀμήχανον ἦν μύξας μὴ ῥεῖν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου τοιοῦτον ἔχοντος τὸ σύγκραμα· διὰ τοῦτο χεῖρας ἐποίησεν ἡ φύσις καὶ αὐτὰς τὰς ῥῖνας ὡς σωλῆνας πρὸς τὸ ἐκδιδόναι τὰ ὑγρά. ἂν οὖν ἀναρροφῇ τις αὐτάς, λέγω ὅτι οὐ ποιεῖ ἔργον ἀνθρωπικόν. [10] ἀμήχανον ἦν μὴ πηλοῦσθαι τοὺς πόδας μηδὲ ὅλως μολύνεσθαι διὰ τοιούτων τινῶν πορευομένους· διὰ τοῦτο ὕδωρ παρεσκεύασεν, διὰ τοῦτο χεῖρας. [11] ἀμήχανον ἦν ἀπὸ τοῦ τρώγειν μὴ ῥυπαρόν τι προσμένειν τοῖς ὀδοῦσι· διὰ τοῦτο "πλῦνον," φησίν, "τοὺς ὀδόντας." διὰ τί; ἵν᾿ ἄνθρωπος ᾖς καὶ μὴ θηρίον μηδὲ συίδιον. [12] ἀμήχανον μὴ ἀπὸ τοῦ ἱδρῶτος καὶ τῆς κατὰ τὴν ἐσθῆτα συνοχῆς ὑπολείπεσθαί τι περὶ τὸ σῶμα ῥυπαρὸν καὶ δεόμενον ἀποκαθάρσεως· διὰ τοῦτο ὕδωρ, ἔλαιον, χεῖρες, ὀθόνιον, ξύστρα, νίτρον, ἔσθ᾿ ὅθ᾿ ἡ ἄλλη πᾶσα παρασκευὴ πρὸς τὸ καθῆραι αὐτό. [13] οὔ· ἀλλ᾿ ὁ μὲν χαλκεὺς ἐξιώσει τὸ σιδήριον καὶ ὄργανα πρὸς τοῦτο ἕξει κατεσκευασμένα, καὶ τὸ πινάκιον αὐτὸς σὺ πλυνεῖς, ὅταν μέλλῃς ἐσθίειν, ἐὰν μὴ ᾖς παντελῶς ἀκάθαρτος καὶ ῥυπαρός· τὸ σωμάτιον δ᾿ οὐ πλυνεῖς οὐδὲ καθαρὸν ποιήσεις;

—Διὰ τί; φησίν.—

[14] Πάλιν ἐρῶ σοι· πρῶτον μὲν ἵνα τὰ ἀνθρώπου ποιῇς, εἶτα ἵνα μὴ ἀνιᾷς τοὺς ἐντυγχάνοντας. [15] τοιοῦτόν τι καὶ ἐνθάδε ποιεῖς καὶ οὐκ αἰσθάνῃ. σαυτὸν ἄξιον ἡγῇ τοῦ ὄζειν· ἔστω, ἴσθι ἄξιος. μή τι καὶ τοὺς παρακαθίζοντας, μή τι καὶ τοὺς συγκατακλινομένους, μή τι καὶ τοὺς καταφιλοῦντας; [16] ἔα ἄπελθ᾿ εἰς ἐρημίαν πού ποτε, ἧς ἄξιος εἶ, καὶ μόνος δίαγε κατόζων σεαυτοῦ. δίκαιον γάρ ἐστι τῆς σῆς ἀκαθαρσίας σὲ μόνον ἀπολαύειν. ἐν πόλει δ᾿ ὄντα οὕτως ἀπερισκέπτως καὶ ἀγνωμόνως ἀναστρέφεσθαι τίνος σοι φαίνεται; [17] εἰ δ᾿ ἵππον σοι πεπιστεύκει ἡ φύσις, περιεώρας αὐτὸν καὶ ἀτημέλητον; καὶ νῦν οἴου σου τὸ σῶμα ὡς ἵππον ἐγκεχειρίσθαι· πλῦνον αὐτό, ἀπόσμηξον, ποίησον, ἵνα σε μηδεὶς ἀποστρέφηται, μηδεὶς ἐκτρέπηται. [18] τίς δ᾿ οὐκ ἐκτρέπεται ῥυπαρὸν ἄνθρωπον, ὄζοντα, κακόχρουν μᾶλλον ἢ τὸν κεκοπρωμένον; ἐκείνη ἡ ὁσμὴ ἔξωθέν ἐστιν ἐπίθετος, ἡ δ᾿ ἐξ ἀθεραπευσίας ἔσωθεν καὶ οἱονεὶ διασεσηπότος.
W.A. Oldfather ad loc.:
The excesses, probably Oriental in origin, to which Christian ascetism soon went in regard to despising cleanliness, seem to have begun to manifest themselves already in the early second century among enthusiastic young Stoics and would-be Cynics. It is interesting to see how Epictetus, simple and austere as he was, vigorously maintained the validity of older Greek and Roman feeling in this regard.
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A tourtière baked by my brother:
He used the recipe handed down from our maternal grandmother, who was born in Yamachiche, Québec.

Monday, October 19, 2020


Native Soil

Procopius, History of the Wars 2.12.8-17 (tr. H.B. Dewing):
[8] There was a certain Augarus in early times, toparch of Edessa (for thus the kings of the different nations were called then). Now this Augarus was the most clever of all men of his time, and as a result of this was an especial friend of the Emperor Augustus. [9] For, desiring to make a treaty with the Romans, he came to Rome; and when he conversed with Augustus, he so astonished him by the abundance of his wisdom that Augustus wished never more to give up his company; for he was an ardent lover of his conversation, and whenever he met him, he was quite unwilling to depart from him. [10] A long time, therefore, was consumed by him in this visit. And one day when he was desirous of returning to his native land and was utterly unable to persuade Augustus to let him go, he devised the following plan.

[11] He first went out to hunt in the country about Rome; for it happened that he had taken considerable interest in the practice of this sport. And going about over a large tract of country, he captured alive many of the animals of that region, and he gathered up and took with him from each part of the country some earth from the land; thus he returned to Rome bringing both the earth and the animals. [12] Then Augustus went up into the hippodrome and seated himself as was his wont, and Augarus came before him and displayed the earth and the animals, telling over from what district each portion of earth was and what animals they were. [13] Then he gave orders to put the earth in different parts of the hippodrome, and to gather all the animals into one place and then to release them. So the attendants did as he directed. [14] And the animals, separating from each other, went each to that portion of earth which was from the district in which it itself had been taken.

[15] And Augustus looked upon the performance carefully for a very long time, and he was wondering that nature untaught makes animals miss their native land. Then Augarus, suddenly laying hold upon his knees, said, [16] "But as for me, O Master, what thoughts dost thou think I have, who possess a wife and children and a kingdom, small indeed, but in the land of my fathers?" [17] And the emperor, overcome and compelled by the truth of his saying, granted not at all willingly that he should go away, and bade him ask besides whatever he wished.
Greek here.

Related posts:

Sunday, October 18, 2020


In Defence of Ananias and Sapphira

Acts 5.1-11 (Revised Standard Version):
But a man named Ananias with his wife Sapphira sold a piece of property, and with his wife's knowledge he kept back some of the proceeds, and brought only a part and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God." When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.

After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for so much." And she said, "Yes, for so much." But Peter said to her, "How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Hark, the feet of those that have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out." Immediately she fell down at his feet and died. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all who heard of these things.
Walter Savage Landor, "William Penn and Lord Peterborough," Imaginary Conversations, Vol. III (London: J.M. Dent & Co., 1909), pp. 9-123 (at 66, Peterborough speaking):
Would He, with such righteousness, such gentleness, such forbearance, have treated Ananias and Sapphira as Peter his successor did? Certainly the popes descend in a right line from this prince of the apostles; who very properly bears in his statue the head of Jupiter the thunderer. If he really did toward Ananias and Sapphira, what we are bound to believe he did, he neglected the example and disobeyed the commands of his master, and he infringed the laws and usurped the magistrature of his country. Would any modern king, Christian or Mahomedan or idolater, would any republic of any age, permit a private man to enforce, under pain or threat of death, so rigid and bitter an equality? Would you yourselves, who come nearest to the discipline of Christ, insist upon it? I do not ask whether you would point out for reprobation, I do not ask whether you would strike with extinction, a virtuous, generous, unsuspicious couple, who had given to the indigent the greater part of their possessions. Extinction for what crime?—the crime of holding back from their enthusiastic prodigality a slender pittance, with an object perhaps as justifiable and as sacred as charity itself. Their motives were unexamined, their cause unheard. We may suppose them desirous of repurchasing some quiet country-house, some shady little meadow, some garden with its trellised alcove or its woodland path at the end of it, the scene of their earliest tenderness and first caresses. There may be things about us so dear to us, that we should almost bear our soundest flesh to be cut away, before we could surrender them to another; and from a feeling so very different from avarice, that the avaricious man is perhaps the only one who is quite incapable of it. There are localities that have in them somewhat of an identity with ourselves: insomuch that, in almost all ages and countries, the poets have appealed to their consciousness: and poets search out and seize on resemblances of truth, even more striking than truth itself.


A Lost World

Joseph W. Moser, 2,001 Most Useful German Words (Mineola: Dover Publications, Inc., 2012), p. 5:
Abend(-e) m.      evening
Am Abend geht Markus mit Freunden ins Kino.
In the evening, Markus goes to the movies with friends.

Abendessen n.      dinner
Zum Abendessen fahren wir heute ins Gasthaus.
Today we are going to a restaurant for dinner.
Not during the COVID-19 pandemic.


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