Saturday, June 25, 2022
Acrostics are seemingly straightforward, but the existence of C-A-C-A-T-A ("shitty") in Eclogue 4.47–52 will suffice to show that accidents happen.
I'm Vexed and Grieved
I'm vexed and grieved to seeR.G. Ussher ad loc.:
The poor condition the city's affairs are in.
I notice how she always has as leaders
The rotten types. If one of them is decent
For one whole day, he's rotten then for ten!
If you switch to another, he'll only make things worse.
ἄχθομαι δὲ καὶ φέρω
τὰ τῆς πόλεως ἅπαντα βαρέως πράγματα. 175
ὁρῶ γὰρ αὐτὴν προστάταισι χρωμένην
ἀεὶ πονηροῖς. κἄν τις ἡμέραν μίαν
χρηστὸς γένηται, δέκα πονηρὸς γίγνεται.
ἐπέτρεψας ἑτέρῳ· πλείον᾿ ἔτι δράσει κακά.
175 ἅπαντα codd.: σαπέντα Palmer: παρόντα Jackson
There are masked words droning and skulking about us in Europe just now, — (there never were so many, owing to the spread of a shallow, blotching, blundering, infectious "information," or rather deformation, everywhere, and to the teaching of catechisms and phrases at school instead of human meanings) — there are masked words abroad, I say, which nobody understands, but which everybody uses, and most people will also fight for, live for, or even die for, fancying they mean this or that, or the other, of things dear to them: for such words wear chameleon cloaks — "ground-lion" cloaks, of the colour of the ground of any man's fancy: on that ground they lie in wait, and rend them with a spring from it. There never were creatures of prey so mischievous, never diplomatists so cunning, never poisoners so deadly, as these masked words; they are the unjust stewards of all men's ideas: whatever fancy or favourite instinct a man most cherishes, he gives to his favourite masked word to take care of for him; the word at last comes to have an infinite power over him, — you cannot get at him but by its ministry.Chameleon comes from χαμαί (on the ground) and λέων (lion).
The Mad Impulse of One Mind
What just cause can be found for the encounter of so many nations, or what hatred inspired them all to take arms against each other? It is proof that the human race lives for its kings, for it is at the mad impulse of one mind a slaughter of nations takes place, and at the whim of a haughty ruler that which nature has taken ages to produce perishes in a moment.Related post: The King and His Subjects.
quae potest digna causa tantorum motibus invenire? aut quod odium in se cunctos animavit armari? probatum est humanum genus regibus vivere, quando unius mentis insano impetu strages sit facta populorum et arbitrio superbi regis momento defecit quod tot saeculis natura progenuit.
Friday, June 24, 2022
For You Too
Before the tomb of brave and wise Antilochus
[shed a tear]; for you too death awaits.
Aristion made me.
Ἀ]ντιλόχου ποτὶ σῆμ' ἀγαθοῦ καὶ σόφρονος ἀνδρὸς
[δάκρυ κ]άταρ[χ]σον̣, [ἐ]π[ε]ὶ καὶ σὲ μένει θάνατος.
Ἀριστίον μ' ἐπόησεν.
Reverence for the Text
With his gift for large-scale synthesis and willingness to explore novel approaches, Calvert Watkins nevertheless firmly believed that "the devil is in the details." All of his linguistic analyses and hypotheses, from the most modest individual word etymology to his grandest and boldest reconstructed schemata rested on rock-solid philological foundations—and he insisted that his students' analyses did likewise. Originality without proper grounding veers easily into unbridled fantasy, and generalizations become self-perpetuating dogma. In Watkins' work an unwavering "reverence for the text" forestalled any such tendencies. He viewed recalcitrant facts that did not fit an analysis not as inconveniences to be ignored, but as priceless clues to a better solution—something to which he hoped his students would contribute.Related post: The Courage to Make a Mistake.
Blacksmith Working on a Helmet
Second in popularity on Athenian vases, after the images connected with pottery production, were scenes of metalworkers. Interestingly, a major metalworking area of Athens was in the northwest Agora and not far from the Kerameikos, the potters' quarters, so that the painters did not have far to look for inspiration. Several of the metalworking scenes are mythological, showing Thetis and/or Hephaistos or Athena, and occasionally satyrs, so they are not included here. Armor is the most common object being worked on by the smiths, with a helmet, as in the tondo of a red-figure cup in Oxford by the Antiphon Painter of 480 BC (fig. 2.5), being the most popular object. Seated on a diphros, the smith holds out a Corinthian helmet in his left hand and a file/rasp in his right. Other tools, five files/rasps of different sizes, hang above him in the background; a furnace stands behind him and an anvil, an akmotheton, is set in a mound before him. On other vases, greaves, tripods, statues, and swords are shown being worked on.
Skill develops from controlled, corrected repetitions of an act for which one has some knack. Skill is a product of experience and criticism and intelligence. Analysis cannot much transcend those truisms. Between the amateur and the professional, between the duffer and the expert, between the novice and the veteran there is a difference not only in degree but in kind. The skillful man is, within the function of his skill, a different integration, a different nervous and muscular and psychological organization. He has specialized responses of great intricacy. His associative faculties have patterns of screening, acceptance and rejection, analysis and sifting, evaluation and selective adjustment much too complex for conscious direction. Yet as the patterns of appraisal and adjustment exert their automatic and perhaps metabolic energy, they are accompanied by a conscious process fully as complex. A tennis player or a watchmaker or an airplane pilot is an automatism but he is also criticism and wisdom.
It is hardly too much to say that a mountain man's life was skill. He not only worked in the wilderness, he also lived there and he did so from sun to sun by the exercise of total skill. It was probably as intricate a skill as any ever developed by any way of working or living anywhere. Certainly it was the most complex of the wilderness crafts practiced on this continent. The mountains, the aridity, the distances, and the climates imposed severities far greater than those laid on forest-runners, rivermen, or any other of our symbolic pioneers. Mountain craft developed out of the crafts which earlier pioneers had acquired and, like its predecessors, incorporated Indian crafts, but it had a unique integration of its own. It had specific crafts, technologies, theorems and rationales and rules of thumb, codes of operating procedure — but it was a pattern of total behavior.
Treatises could be written on the specific details; we lack space even for generalizations. Why do you follow the ridges into or out of unfamiliar country? What do you do for a companion who has collapsed from want of water while crossing a desert? How do you get meat when you find yourself without gunpowder in a country barren of game? What tribe of Indians made this trail, how many were in the band, what errand were they on, were they going to or coming back from it, how far from home were they, were their horses laden, how many horses did they have and why, how many squaws accompanied them, what mood were they in? Also, how old is the trail, where are those Indians now, and what does the product of these answers require of you? Prodigies of such sign-reading are recorded by impressed greenhorns, travelers, and army men, and the exercise of critical reference and deduction which they exhibit would seem prodigious if it were not routine. But reading formal sign, however impressive to Doctor Watson or Captain Fremont, is less impressive than the interpretation of observed circumstances too minute to be called sign. A branch floats down a stream — is this natural, or the work of animals, or of Indians or trappers? Another branch or a bush or even a pebble is out of place — why? On the limits of the plain, blurred by heat mirage, or against the gloom of distant cottonwoods, or across an angle of sky between branches or where hill and mountain meet, there is a tenth of a second of what may have been movement — did men or animals make it, and, if animals, why? Buffalo are moving downwind, an elk is in an unlikely place or posture, too many magpies are hollering, a wolf's howl is off key — what does it mean?
Such minutiae could be extended indefinitely. As the trapper's mind is dealing with them, it is simultaneously performing a still more complex judgment on the countryside, the route across it, and the weather. It is recording the immediate details in relation to the remembered and the forecast. A ten-mile traverse is in relation to a goal a hundred miles, or five hundred miles, away: there are economies of time, effort, comfort, and horseflesh on any of which success or even survival may depend. Modify the reading further, in relation to season, to Indians, to what has happened. Modify it again in relation to stream flow, storms past, storms indicated. Again in relation to the meat supply. To the state of the grass. To the equipment on hand. . . . You are two thousand miles from depots of supply and from help in time of trouble.
All this (with much more) is a continuous reference and checking along the margin or in the background of the trapper's consciousness while he practices his crafts as hunter, wrangler, furrier, freighter, tanner, cordwainer, smith, gunmaker, dowser, merchant. The result is a high-level integration of faculties. The mountain man had mastered his conditions — how well is apparent as soon as soldiers, goldseekers, or emigrants come into his country and suffer where he has lived comfortably and die where he has been in no danger. He had no faculties or intelligence that the soldier or the goldseeker lacked; he had none that you and I lack. He had only skill.
Thursday, June 23, 2022
You can stop groaning and stay at home farting all day.
σὺ δ᾽ ἀστενακτὶ περδόμενος οἴκοι μενεῖς.
Labels: noctes scatologicae
A Fair City
In his time the City was made more fair than it had ever been, even in the days of its first glory; and it was filled with trees and with fountains, and its gates were wrought of mithril and steel, and its streets were paved with white marble; and the Folk of the Mountain laboured in it, and the Folk of the Wood rejoiced to come there; and all was healed and made good, and the houses were filled with men and women and the laughter of children, and no window was blind nor any courtyard empty; and after the ending of the Third Age of the world into the new age it preserved the memory and the glory of the years that were gone.
New Poetry Anthology
"What will survive of us is love," Philip Larkin wrote in An Arundel Tomb.GCSE = General Certificate of Secondary Education; OCR = Oxford, Cambridge and Royal Society of Arts
Neither the poem nor the poet, however, has survived a shake-up of works included in a GCSE poetry anthology.
OCR, one of the three main exam boards, has removed works by John Keats, Thomas Hardy, Wilfred Owen and Larkin from its English literature syllabus from this September.
Some poems by Hardy and Keats will remain, but there will be no poetry by Larkin, Seamus Heaney or Owen, whose Anthem for Doomed Youth is on the present syllabus.
The "conflict" section of the anthology contains none of the best known First World War poets, such as Siegfried Sassoon, Rupert Brooke and Robert Graves. Instead, it has new works including We Lived Happily during the War by Ilya Kaminsky, Colonization in Reverse by Louise Bennett Coverly [sic, read Coverley] and Thirteen by Caleb Femi. OCR said 15 new poems were included, 30 retained and 15 removed. The syllabus will be used in exams in the summer of 2024.
The exam board described the new poems as "exciting and diverse", adding: "Our anthology for GCSE English literature students will feature many poets that have never been on a GCSE syllabus before and represent diverse voices, from living poets of British-Somali, British-Guyanese and Ukrainian heritage to one of the first black women in 19th century America to publish a novel. Of the 15 poets whose work has been added, 14 are poets of colour. Six are black women, one is of South Asian heritage. Our new poets also include disabled and LGBTQ+ voices."
The anthology has three themes: love and relationships, conflict, and youth and age. It also retains works by William Blake, Emily Brontë, Sylvia Plath and Carol Ann Duffy and adds the British-Jamaican poet Raymond Antrobus, 36, and Kaminsky, 45, a Ukrainian-American who is deaf.
Works by the British-Somali poet Warsan Shire, 33, and British-Nigerian poet Theresa Lola, 28 — both young people's laureates for London — illustrate the theme of "youth and age".
Judith Palmer, director of the Poetry Society, said: "It's fantastic to see this new selection including poets from such a range of backgrounds and identities, writing in such diverse forms, voices and styles."
Hat tip: Eric Thomson, who remarks, "'All that will survive of us is love'. If there's much more of this sort of craven pandering, nothing will survive of me but a puddle of bile."
Evils of the Machine Age
Macaulay was not wrong in thinking that the English were better off materially, and were certainly more humane than in the past. The facts that escaped his notice, and escaped the notice of most of his contemporaries, were other evils that the machine age had brought—the destruction of craftsmanship and the intelligent joy of man in his daily work, the ugliness and depressing aspect of the great new cities which were taking the place of farm, village and country town as the scene of ordinary human existence; the loss of rural tradition, which had been the real basis of our higher civilisation in England from the days of Chaucer and Shakespeare onwards.
For myself, I prefer to believe what I have read, rather than put trust in old wives' tales.
nos enim potius lectioni credimus quam fabulis anilibus consentimus.
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
No one needs me to explain that, thanks to nature and nurture, all of us inherit and take on traits, good and bad, from our parents. But there are academic parents, too, and their influence, which can naturally have a profound effect on any student, is typically of particular importance to those of us who choose to follow seriously in their intellectual footsteps and join the educational guild ourselves.Joshua Katz wrote 36 articles for the Daily Princetonian. I have been able to find only two on the World Wide Web, this one and My Two Ferdinands. Considering the current frenzy in favor of cancellation, I downloaded them, because I don't know how much longer they will survive in cyberspace.
I was astonishingly fortunate in my teachers, both in college and in graduate school, and it would be wrong of me to name any one of them as my most important influence: I study what I study, teach what I teach and in many ways am what I am because I am a mutt, the son of all of them. Nevertheless, when one's Doktorvater — that wonderful German word for Ph.D. supervisor, literally "doctor-father" — is the single most prominent scholar in the field, and when that scholar is also a deeply kind person who has no truck with hierarchy, it would be wrong to downplay the extraordinary role he has had in shaping one's career. And that's the case with me: My Doktorvater was Calvert Watkins, the leading historical and comparative linguist and Indo-Europeanist of our times ...
But it isn't because of his brilliance that I loved Calvert. I loved him because he had a fantastic sense of humor, because he was the consummate host, because he had a thing about black-eyed peas, because he introduced me to Myers's Rum with a splash of tonic and a wedge of lime, because he devoured mysteries, because he wasn't pretentious and yet wore a pocket watch and because he really and truly couldn't understand how anyone could claim to be educated without being able to read cuneiform. During my years as a graduate student, few days passed when I didn't have at least one formal or informal class with him, few days when we didn't have at least one informal meal or drink together. In and out of the classroom, day after day, he taught simply by being himself.
The pursuit and advancement of knowledge is a traditional craft, in some ways not unlike blacksmithing and the production of stained glass, and giving a lecture of this kind is a neat way of demonstrating to students that they are part of a tradition.
So Fares Hot Blood
So fares hot blood to the glooming and the world beneath the grass;
And the fruit of the Wolfings' orchard in a flash from the world must pass.
Men say that the tree shall blossom in the garden of the folk,
And the new twig thrust him forward from the place where the old one broke,
And all be well as aforetime: but old and old I grow,
And I doubt me if such another the folk to come shall know.
Epitaph of Arcadion
This tomb, which belongs to Arcadion of the many cups,See Francis Cairns, Hellenistic Epigram: Contexts of Exploration (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), pp. 254-255.
was erected here beside the path that leads to the city
by his sons Dorcon and Charmylus. The man died,
sir, by gulping down six cups of strong wine.
τοῦ πολυκώθωνος τοῦτ' ἠρίον Ἀρκαδίωνος
ἄστεος ὤρθωσαν τᾷδε παρ' ἀτραπιτῷ
υἱῆες Δόρκων καὶ Χαρμύλος· ἔφθιτο δ' ὡνήρ,
ὤνθρωπ', ἓκ χανδῆς ζωροποτῶν κύλικας.
4 ἐκ χανδῆς codd.: ἓκ χανδὸν Dilthey: εὐχανδεῖς Lobeck
Tuesday, June 21, 2022
What shall not be, will never be;The same, tr. Edwin Arnold, The Book of Good Counsels, from the Sanskrit of the 'Hitopadeśa' (London: W.H. Allen and Co., Limited, 1893), p. 18:
What shall be, will be so:
This tonic slays anxiety;
Taste it, and end your woe.
That which will not be, will not be — and what is to be, will be: Why not drink this easy physic, antidote of misery?
For Virile Power
For there is no greater glory that can befall a man livingNeither speed nor strength is in the Greek. The same (tr. A.T. Murray):
than what he achieves by speed of his feet or strength of his hands.
οὐ μὲν γὰρ μεῖζον κλέος ἀνέρος ὄφρα κ᾽ ἔῃσιν,
ἤ ὅ τι ποσσίν τε ῥέξῃ καὶ χερσὶν ἑῇσιν.
For there is no greater glory for a man so long as he lives than that which he achieves by his own hands and his feet.W.B. Stanford ad loc.:
147-8 are lines worth memorizing as an expression of the Greeks' intense love and admiration of athletics, as illustrated also in the Victory Odes of Pindar and the athletic sculptures of the fifth century.
Monday, June 20, 2022
Anthos to the passersby: greetings! Bathe, drink, eat, copulate. For down here you have none of these things.The Packard Humanities Institute's Searchable Greek Inscriptions lists the source as C.W.M. Cox et al., Monumenta Asiae Minoris Antiqua, Vol. IX: Monuments from the Aezanitis (London: Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, 1988 = Journal of Roman Studies Monographs, 4), p. 189 (number P300), which is next to worthless, since MAMA IX doesn't print the Greek and merely refers to the publications listed above.
Ἄνθος τοῖς παροδείταις χαίριν· λοῦσαι, πίε, φαγὲ, βείνησον· τούτων γὰρ ὧδε κάτω [οὐ]δὲ<ν> ἔχις.
"Down here" means in the grave. I take Anthos to be a personal name, rather than "a flower". See e.g. T. Corsten, ed., A Lexicon of Greek Personal Names, Vol. V.A: Coastal Asia Minor: Pontos to Ionia (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2010), p. 34. Franz Cumont, "Une pierre tombale érotique de Rome," L'Antiquité Classique 9 (1940) 5–11 (at 8), also regards it as a proper name, but Andrzej Wypustek, "Laughing in the Face of Death: a Survey of Unconventional Hellenistic and Greek-Roman Funerary Verse-Inscriptions," Klio 103 (2021) 160-187 (at 174), translates it (wrongly, in my view) as "the flower".
A Hard Student
I was a hard student until I entered on the business of life, the duties of which leave no idle time to those disposed to fulfill them; & now, retired, and at the age of 76, I am again a hard student.
If I may quote a recent personal communication from the Regius Professor, Peter Parsons of Christ Church, Oxford: "The very word Pindar — as I know from teaching him — turns otherwise muscular colleagues to jelly."Related posts:
Sunday, June 19, 2022
Some European Personal Names
[T]he number of European personal names like Mentula, Couillard, Schwanz, Schmuck, perhaps Gvozdanović and quite possibly Wacker-nagel would suggest the male organ as a likelier onomastic etymon than 'kiss.'Related post: Squeamishness.
Here is the sound of lutes, and there are screams and wailings;
Here winsome girls, there bodies old and failing;
Here scholars' talk, there drunkards' mad commotion—
Is life a nectared or a poisoned potion?
An annoying trait that seems to persist among industrious compilers should be banned once and for all; that is the habit, usually prompted by fatigue I believe, of adding an alii alia or the like to two or three proposals mentioned, sometimes no doubt more or less by chance.
Swords into Plowshares, Spears into Pruning Hooks
Go then, busy thyself with the plough, cleave the soil, bid thy followers lay aside their swords and sweat o'er the harrow.
i nunc, devotus aratris
scinde solum positoque tuos mucrone sodales
ad rastros sudare doce.
I am for a government rigorously frugal & simple, applying all the possible savings of the public revenue to the discharge of the national debt; and not for a multiplication of officers & salaries merely to make partisans, & for increasing, by every device, the public debt, on the principle of it's being a public blessing.