Friday, July 01, 2022


Fog Children

John Ruskin (1819-1900), Sesame and Lilies, rev. ed. (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1871), p. 39:
This is literally true of all false religious teaching; the first and last, and fatalest sign of it, is that "puffing up." Your converted children, who teach their parents; your converted convicts, who teach honest men; your converted dunces, who, having lived in cretinous stupefaction half their lives, suddenly awaking to the fact of there being a God, fancy themselves therefore His peculiar people and messengers; your sectarians of every species, small and great, Catholic or Protestant, of high church or low, in so far as they think themselves exclusively in the right and others wrong; and, pre-eminently, in every sect, those who hold that men can be saved by thinking rightly instead of doing rightly, by word instead of act, and wish instead of work; — these are the true fog children — clouds, these, without water; bodies, these, of putrescent vapour and skin, without blood or flesh: blown bag-pipes for the fiends to pipe with — corrupt, and corrupting, — "Swollen with wind, and the rank mist they draw."


I Pledge My Hate

John Swinnerton Phillimore (1873-1926), "On Taking Leave of Connaught," II, lines 9-14, Things New and Old (Oxford: Humphrey Milford, 1918), p. 90:
I pledge my hate of the obscene brood that gathered
To eat the gorged apostate Tudor's bounty;
Of the Bible-canting perjurers I pledge
My hate, of the lickerish sons of Zeal, Hell-fathered,
Who ravished hearth and cloister, town and county,
With lust, oppression, usury, sacrilege.
"The gorged apostate Tudor" was Henry VIII. Phillimore was a Roman Catholic.


Augmented Triad

J. Fraser, "Indogerman Grammar," a review of Hermann Hirt, Indogermanische Grammatik, in Classical Review 43.1 (February, 1929) 25-27 (at 26):
In Vol. I., 126 f., there is a discussion of a 'rhetorical peculiarity of Idg. poetry,' the peculiarity being that when there is a succession of three or four proper names, the third or fourth is provided with an epithet. A number of examples from Homer are given, four from Sanskrit Epic, and a like number from early Germanic verse. Finally, the author appears to think that he strengthens his case by giving as an example from Latin Erebumque Chaosque tergeminumque (sic) Hecaten. The device is admirably illustrated in the refrain of 'Widdicombe Fair,' and to claim Indogermanic origin for it does injustice to the ingenuity of later craftsmen.
The passage from Hirt:
M.L. West, Indo-European Poetry and Myth (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 117-119:
A special case of Behaghel's Law that is distinct and easily recognizable is what I call the Augmented Triad. It consists of the construction of a verse from three names (or occasionally other substantives), of which the third is furnished with an epithet or other qualification. I have devoted a paper to this topic and collected there numerous examples from the Vedas, the Indian epics, the Avesta, Hesiod and Homer, and the Germanic and Celtic literatures (West 2004). A few will suffice here by way of illustration. I can now add one from Hittite and a couple from Latvian.
If he has seen something with his eyes,
or taken something with his hand,
or trodden something with his powerful foot. (CTH 760 V iv 1 ff.)133

Diyaúr, Vánā, Giráyo vṛkṣákeśāḥ.

The Sky, the Forests, the Mountains tree-tressed. (RV 5.41.11)

Tváṣṭā, Savitā́, suyámā Sárasvatī

Tvaṣtṛ, Savitṛ, easy-guided Sarasvatī. (RV 9.81.4)

Daityānāṃ Dānavānaṃ ca Yakṣāṇāṃ ca mahaujasām.

Daityāna and Dānavāna and Yakṣāṇā of great might. (MBh. 1.2.76)

Βῆσσάν τε Σκάρφην τε καὶ Αὐγειὰς ἐρατεινάς.

Bessa and Skarphe and lovely Augeae. (Il. 2.532)

Heorogār ond Hrōðgar ond Hālga til.

Heorogar, Hrothgar, and Halga the good. (Beowulf 61)

Vara sandr né sær né svalar unnir.

There was not sand nor sea nor the cool waves. (Vọluspá 3)

Nōe, Ladru Lergnaid, luath Cuar.

Nóe, Ladru Lergnaid, the swift Cuar. (Campanile (1988), 29 no. 6. 3)

Simtiem dzina govis, vēršus, | simtiem bērus kumeliṇus.

Par centaines elle menait les vaches, les taureaux,
par centaines les bruns chevaux. (LD 33957; Jonval (1929), no. 144)

Līgo bite, līgo saule, | līgo mana līgaviṇa.

Sing, bee, sing, sun, | sing, O my bride. (LD 53542)
In the Indian, Greek, Germanic, and Celtic traditions we often find such triadic lines within longer catalogues of names. Catalogues are typical of heroic poetry, as they are of genealogical and other antiquarian verse. They may have been a feature of Indo-European heroic poetry, and the augmented triad a traditional device in them.

But triads also appear where there is no longer list but just a trio of names. Sometimes it is explicitly noted that the last name is the third: Il. 14.117 'Agrios and Melas, and horseman Oineus was the third', cf. 15.188; Campanile (1988), 33 no. 17.3 f. 'from a branch of Galian's line (came) Find fer Umaill (i.e. Find and his father Umall); an active hero was Trénmór as third';134 Grípisspá 37.3–4 'Gunnarr and Hǫgni and you, prince, as third'.

Sometimes the trio of names is preceded by the announcement that they are three. There is one especially common type, where three sons are recorded as sprung from one father, for example:
Τρωὸς δ᾽ αὖ τρεῖς παῖδες ἀμύμονες ἐξεγένοντο,
Ἶλός τ᾽ Ἀσσάρακός τε καὶ ἀντίθεος Γανυμήδης.

From Tros three fine sons were born:
Ilos and Assarakos and godlike Ganymedes. (Il. 20.231 f.)

trayas tv Aṅgirasaḥ putrā loke sarvatra viśrutāḥ:
Bṛhaspatir Utathyaś ca Saṃvartaś ca dhṛtavratāḥ.

But of Angiras, three sons renowned everywhere in the world:
Bṛhaspati and Utathya and Samvarta the resolute. (MBh. 1.60.5)

Tri meib Giluaethwy ennwir,
tri chenryssedat kywir:
Bleidwn, Hydwn, Hychdwn hir.

The three sons of false Gilfaethwy,
three champions true:
Bleiddwn, Hyddwn, Hychdwn the tall. (Math vab Mathonwy 281–3 Ford)

trī meic Nōe nair cech neirt:
Sem, Cam, Iafet aurdairc.

Three sons of Noah, of every (kind of) strength:
Shem, Ham, Japheth the glorious. (Lebor Gabála Érenn 189 f.)
In these and in many other cases we have a more or less identical pattern: the words 'three sons', with the father's name in the genitive, with or without a verb such as 'were born'; a general qualification of the sons as 'fine', 'renowned', etc.; and then their individual names in an Augmented Triad.135

It is hard to avoid the inference that this was a traditional formula from the common poetic inheritance. Here we seem to find a remnant of the Indo-European storyteller's building work: a recognizable structural component, with the lineaments of its verbal patterning still in place.

133 Quoted by Watkins (1995), 251.

134 So emended by Campanile, 57.

135 To the examples quoted in my 2004 paper, 46 f., may be added a further Irish one from The Fort of Árd Ruide (E. Gwynn, The Metrical Dindshenchas, iv (Dublin 1924), 368–71), 'Three sons did Lugaid leave; | whither are gone their riches?— | Ruide, son of broad-built Lugaid, | Eochaid and manly Fiachu'.
West 2004 = Martin L. West, "An Indo-European stylistic feature in Homer," in Anton Bierl et al., edd., Antike Literatur in neuer Deutung: Festschrift für Joachim Latacz anlässlich seines 70. Geburtstages (München: K.G. Saur, 2004), pp. 33-49.

Joshua T. Katz, "Inherited Poetics," in Egbert J. Bakker, ed., A Companion to the Ancient Greek Language (Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), pp. 357–369 (at 366-367):
There are also poetic features at play that point to inherited material of greater complexity than simple sounds and morphemes. The most obvious one concerns the entirety of verse [Iliad 2.]460. "Geese or cranes or long-necked swans" is a paradigmatic example of what is often known as Behaghel's Law, a stylistic figure named after the Germanist Otto Behaghel that was evidently part of the repertoire of the artful Proto-Indo-European: NOUNx, NOUNy, and/or [EPITHET + NOUN]z (in general, the number of syllables also increases from x to y to z). This figure (it is not a "law" at all) forms a subset of the Gesetz der wachsenden Glieder ("law of increasing members"), one of four general principles of discourse that Behaghel formulated in the first half of the twentieth century; West (2004 and 2007: 117-19), who notes that it is found with special frequency in the Catalogue of Ships (West 2004: 34-5), has now dubbed it the "Augmented Triad." The nouns are frequently proper names (as in Il. 1.145 ἢ Αἴας ἢ Ἰδομενεὺς ἢ δῖος Ὀδυσσεύς "whether Ajax or Idomeneus or godly Odysseus" (all three are vowel-initial; the list continues with further augmentation in the next verse and — for an early example outside epic — Alcm. Partheneion 75-6 Φίλυλλα Δαμαρ[έ]τα τ᾿ ἐρατά τε Ϝιανθεμίς "Philylla and Damareta and lovely Wianthemis" (Watkins 1995: 31 notes the phonetic effect in the middle of 76)) and in one other instance in Homer are names of birds: σκῶπές τ᾽ ἴρηκές τε τανύγλωσσοί τε κορῶναι "owls and hawks and long-tongued crows" (Od. 5.66). Examples abound in Indo-European poetry from India to Ireland, as documented by West (see also now Galjanić 2008: 138-43), who does not ignore the tricky matter of trying to square the idea that "Behaghel triads" are a poetic inheritance with a plausible picture of Proto-Indo-European meter, which for him involves, quite reasonably, hepta- and especially octo-syllabic sequences (West 2004: 44-5, 47-8, referring back to West 1973b). Also desirable are investigations into the status of these triads as a purely Indo-European phenomenon (is it really?) and also into their relationship with the wider Gesetz, whose rhetorical effects are said to be visible in languages all over the world and occur by no means just in poetry. One example among many from Ciceronian Latin of what classicists generally call a "rising tricolon" or a "tricolon crescendo" is si acerbe, si crudeliter, si sine causa sum a tuis oppugnatus "if I have been attacked bitterly, cruelly, without reason by your family" (Fam. 5.2.10); Morgan (1983), suggesting that triads of various kinds may be one of the "bas[e]s of a grammar of folk-poetry" (55), gives examples of triads of various kinds in Sumerian, Egyptian, and Biblical Hebrew, as well as in Indo-European languages, ancient, medieval, and modern.
See also J.P. Oakden, "The Survival of a Stylistic Feature of Indo-European Poetry in Germanic, Especially in Middle-English," Review of English Studies, Vol. 9, No. 33 (January, 1933) 50-53.


Rah! Rah! Rah!

Herbert Pierrepont Houghton (1880-1964), "Gildersleeve on the First Nemean," Classical Journal 49.5 (February, 1954) 215-220 (at 216):
The Second Nemean he said was "really a small affair; it is a Greek articulate expression for the college boys' Rah! rah! rah! Nothing but a series of shouts, as one might say: Zeto! Hurrah!"

Thursday, June 30, 2022


A Magic Potion

Friedrich Nietzsche, Homer and Classical Philology, Inaugural Address, University of Basel, May 28, 1869 (tr. John McFarland Kennedy, rev. Jessica N. Berry):
It must be freely admitted that philology is to some extent borrowed from several other sciences, and is mixed together like a magic potion from the strangest liquids, metals, and bones...

Man muß nämlich ehrlich bekennen, daß die Philologie aus mehreren Wissenschaften gewissermaßen geborgt und wie ein Zaubertrank aus den fremdartigsten Säften, Metallen und Knochen zusammengebraut ist...


A Lover of the Past

C.S. Lewis, interview with Sherwood E. Wirt, in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, ed. Walter Hooper (1970; rpt. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2014), pp. 285-296 (at 292):
Wirt: How would you evaluate modern literary trends as exemplified by such writers as Ernest Hemingway, Samuel Beckett and Jean-Paul Sartre?

Lewis: I have read very little in this field. I am not a contemporary scholar. I am not even a scholar of the past, but I am a lover of the past.
Hat tip: Joel Eidsath.



Rutilius Namatianus, De reditu suo 1.409-414 (tr. J.Wight Duff and Arnold M. Duff):
The memorials of an earlier age cannot be recognised;
devouring time has wasted its mighty battlements away.
Traces only remain now that the walls are lost:
under a wide stretch of rubble lie the buried homes.
Let us not chafe that human frames dissolve:
from precedents we discern that towns can die.

agnosci nequeunt aevi monumenta prioris:
   grandia consumpsit moenia tempus edax.        410
sola manent interceptis vestigia muris:
   ruderibus latis tecta sepulta iacent.
non indignemur mortalia corpora solvi:
   cernimus exemplis oppida posse mori.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022


We Have Lost Something

Lisa Jardine, Erasmus, Man of Letters: The Construction of Charisma in Print (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015), pp. 4-5:
We twentieth-century advancers of learning have altogether lost any such confidence in grand designs. We are painfully aware of an apparently flagging eminence, a diminished stature, a waning of a world in which men of letters made the agenda, and worldly men then strove to pursue it. We have ceased, I suggest, to promote learning as such, because we have lost Erasmus's conviction that true learning is the originator of all good and virtuous action—that right thought produces right government. In fact, of course, we try not to use words like true, good, virtuous, and right at all, if we can help it. They embarrass us. We are too deeply mired in the relativity of all things to risk truth claims. And on the whole we believe that in all of this, our age is one of loss—that we have lost something which the age of Erasmus possessed.


Freedom and Ease from Strife

John Swinnerton Phillimore, "Lermontov's Despair," lines 9-12, Things New and Old (Oxford: Humphrey Milford, 1918), p. 22:
No, there is naught I look for now in life,
   For nothing in the past I feel regret:
Freedom is all I seek, and ease from strife.
   Ah, could a man sleep soundly and forget!


Newcomers and Gangrels

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Part 3: The Return of the King (VI.7: Homeward Bound; Barliman Butterbur speaking):
'No one comes nigh Bree now from Outside,' he said. 'And the inside folks, they stay at home mostly and keep their doors barred. It all comes of those newcomers and gangrels that began coming up the Greenway last year, as you may remember; but more came later. Some were just poor bodies running away from trouble; but most were bad men, full o' thievery and mischief.'


Imagine the Scene

Joshua T. Katz, "The Case for Secular American Yeshivas," Sapir: A Journal of Jewish Conversations 4 (Winter 2022):
Without philology — literally “love of words” in Greek — no one can properly follow, reproduce, or debate the merits and failings of a text.

And yet, sidelining philology is what most humanities departments have been doing for decades. All too often, professional humanists, and therefore also their students, do not so much read texts as approach them with one or another deliberate lens. They prioritize what is typically referred to as theory, believing — in large part in order not to seem irrelevant in a progressive world — that the central mission of education is not the search for truth but rather innovation, however wacky, for the sake of innovation. Textual tradition be damned.


If I sound like a cranky professor, it’s because I am one. I appreciate innovative thinking as much as the next person, but I also believe in tradition, and it is baffling to me that there are classicists who don’t.


How many people take the time to read about the hot-button issues of the day from all sides, assessing arguments and sources dispassionately rather than throwing out 280 ill-informed characters based on a sound bite or two from a single media source?


Imagine the scene: small groups of 18-year-olds sitting around a table hunched over some text or other and arguing cheerfully but with determination over the interpretation of the Second Amendment. Or the difference between the coverage of some event in the Washington Post and the Washington Examiner. Or the meaning of statesmanship, as defined by Plato, George Washington, and Barack Obama. The discussion of a given text or set of texts could go on for hours or days or weeks: There would be no formal curriculum, just a sense of doing philology, which Friedrich Nietzsche described as “slow reading.” I love this picture.


Garden Ornament

Columella, On Agriculture 10.29-34 (tr. E.S. Forster and Edward F. Heffner):
Seek not a statue wrought by Daedalus
Or Polyclitus or by Phradmon carved
Or Ageladas, but the rough-hewn trunk
Of some old tree which you may venerate
As god Priapus in your garden's midst,
Who with his mighty member scares the boys
And with his reaping-hook the plunderer.

neu tibi Daedaliae quaerantur munera dextrae,
nec Polyclitea nec Phradmonis, aut Ageladae
arte laboretur: sed truncum forte dolatum
arboris antiquae numen venerare Priapi
terribilis membri, medio qui semper in horto
inguinibus puero, praedoni falce minetur.
See Hans Herter, De Priapo (Giessen: Alfred Töpelmann, 1932 = Religionsgeschichtliche Versuche und Vorarbeiten, XXIII), p. 208.

Related post: On Guard Duty.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022


The Fault Is Within Us

Manilius 1.904-905 (tr. G.P. Goold):
Wonder not at the grievous disasters which betide man and man's affairs, for the fault oft lies within us: we have not sense to trust heaven's message.

ne mirere gravis rerumque hominumque ruinas,
saepe domi culpa est: nescimus credere caelo.
This reminds me somewhat of Shakespeare, King Lear 1.2.116-130, although the moral is different:
This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune, often the surfeit of our own behaviour, we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars; as if we were villains on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical pre-dominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforc'd obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on. An admirable evasion of whore-master man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star! My father compounded with my mother under the Dragon's Tail, and my nativity was under Ursa Major, so that it follows I am rough and lecherous. Fut! I should have been that I am, had the maidenliest star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardizing.
Related post: Lack of Judgement.


Epitaph of C. Stallius Hauranus

Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum X 2971 = Carmina Latina Epigraphica 961 (from Naples; tr. Dirk Obbink):
Gaius Stallius Hauranus watches this place,
a member of the Epicurean chorus that flourishes in joy.

Stallius Gaius has sedes Hauranus tuetur,
   ex Epicureio gaudivigente choro.

1 Hauranus lapis: Gauranus Hagenbuch
Gaudivigens is a hapax legomenon; Franz Buecheler ad loc. says, "gaudiuigens noue fictum quasi ἡδυθαλής, animus laetitia uiget Lucr. [3.149-150]," but ἡδυθαλής is also "noue fictum," so far as I can tell. I don't have access to Thomas Lindner, Lateinische Komposita: Ein Glossar vornehmlich zum Wortschatz der Dichtersprache (Innsbruck, 1996 = Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft, 105).

On the inscription see Allison Catherine Boex, Hic Tacitus Lapis: Voice, Audience, and Space in Early Roman Verse-Epitaphs (diss. Cornell University, 2014), pp. 109-115, and on C. Stallius Hauranus see Kent J. Rigsby, "Hauranus the Epicurean," Classical Journal 104 (2008) 19-22.

I'm not a very clubbable man, but it wouldn't upset me to be labeled as "ex Epicureio gaudivigente choro" or "Epicuri de grege porcum" (Horace, Epist. 1.4.16).

Related post: Epitaph of an Epicurean.


Mock-Sanskrit in Joyce's Ulysses

James Joyce, Ulysses, Episode 12 (Cyclops):
Questioned by his earthname as to his whereabouts in the heavenworld he stated that he was now on the path of prālāyā or return but was still submitted to trial at the hands of certain bloodthirsty entities on the lower astral levels. In reply to a question as to his first sensations in the great divide beyond he stated that previously he had seen as in a glass darkly but that those who had passed over had summit possibilities of atmic development opened up to them. Interrogated as to whether life there resembled our experience in the flesh he stated that he had heard from more favoured beings now in the spirit that their abodes were equipped with every modern home comfort such as tālāfānā, ālāvātār, hātākāldā, wātāklāsāt and that the highest adepts were steeped in waves of volupcy of the very purest nature.
Pralaya (without the macrons) is a real Sanskrit word, but the others of course aren't.

Hat tip: John O'Toole.

Monday, June 27, 2022


An All-Embracing Collective

Clifford Ando, Imperial Ideology and Provincial Loyalty in the Roman Empire (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), pp. 40-41 (footnote omitted):
Starting in particular with the reign of Hadrian, the imperial administration also explicitly advertised an ideology of unification. This ideology constructed the empire as an all-embracing collective by minimizing differences in culture and class and emphasizing the similarity of each individual's relationship to the emperor and especially the all-inclusive benefits of Roman rule.


Addition and Subtraction

William Morris (1834-1896), A Tale of the House of the Wolfings and All the Kindreds of the Mark (London: Reeves and Turner, 1889), p. 181 (from chapter XXIX):
[T]he host of the dead grew, and the host of the living lessened.


Imperishable Fame

Calvert Watkins (1933-2013), How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), pp. 12-13:
Rigvedic ákṣiti śrávaḥ (1.40.4b, 8.103.5b, 9.66.7c), śrávaḥ ... ákṣitam (1.9.7bc) and Homeric κλέος ἄφθιτον (Il. 9.413) all mean 'imperishable fame'. The two phrases, Vedic and Greek, were equated by Adalbert Kuhn as early as 1853, almost en passant, in an article dealing with the nasal presents in the same two languages.1 Kuhn's innovation was a simple one, but one destined to have far-reaching consequences. Instead of making an etymological equation of two words from cognate languages, he equated two bipartite noun phrases of noun plus adjective, both meaning 'imperishable fame'. The comparability extended beyond the simple words to their suffixal constituents śrav-as- a-kṣi-ta-m, κλεϝ-ες ἀ-φθι-το-ν.2 What Kuhn had done was to equate two set or fixed phrases between two languages, which later theory would term formulas. Thus in M.L. West's somewhat lyrical words (1988a:152), 'With that famous equation of a Rig-Vedic with a Homeric formula... Kuhn in 1853 opened the door to a new path in the comparative philologist's garden of delights.' The equation has itself given given rise to a considerable literature, notably Schmitt 1967:1-102 and Nagy 1974; it is discussed at length with further references and the equation vindicated in chap. 15.

1. KZ 2.467. The journal, Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Sprachforschung, was founded by Kuhn only the previous year, and for the first hundred volumes of its existence was so abbreviated, for "Kuhns Zeitschrift". With volume 101 (1988) it became Historische Sprachforschung (HS).

2. The identity of the equation could be captured by a reconstruction reducing each of the two to the same common prototype. Historically the first reconstruction in Indo-European studies, with precisely the declared aim of capturing the common prototype underlying the feminine participles Greek -ουσα and Indie -antī, had been made by August Schleicher only the year before Kuhn's article, in the preface to Schleicher 1852.
The Indo-European origin of the Homeric phrase is disputed by Margalit Finkelberg, "Is κλέος ἄφθιτον a Homeric Formula?" Classical Quarterly 36 (1986) 1-5, and "More on κλέος ἄφθιτον," Classical Quarterly 57 (2007) 341–350, both reprinted in her Homer and Early Greek Epic (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2020), pp. 3-8 and 66-77. For a defence of the Indo-European origin see Katharina Volk, "κλέος ἄφθιτον Revisited," Classical Philology 97 (2002) 61–68.


An Inescapable Fact

Eleanor Dickey, An Introduction to the Composition and Analysis of Greek Prose (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), p. x:
As necessary as memorization is consolidation. It is an inescapable fact that for most people, Greek grammatical forms and syntactic rules have a tendency to depart rapidly from the mind soon after being learned. One must simpiy accept this fact and learn the material repeatedly...


Epitaph of Asiarches

Richmond Lattimore, Themes in Greek and Latin Epitaphs (1935; rpt. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1962), p. 260:
There remain to be considered a number of additional epitaphs which might be classed, very loosely, as philosophical.359 Tolman calls them "frivolous," and the fact is that the "philosophy" is mainly that which has for a long time passed as Epicurean; the conclusion that since life is short and death certain, the best one can do is enjoy the fun as long as it lasts. This grows from meditations on the nature of life itself, concerning which a late Roman epitaph may be cited:
                                                   ἄστατος ὄντως
    θνητῶν ἐστι βίος καὶ βραχὺς οὐδ' ἄπονος.

In truth the life of mortals is unsteady, short, and not without troubles.
359 Cf. Tolman 95-96; Lier (1904), 56-64.
360 EG 699, 5-6, (Rome, 3d cent. A.D.).
Lattimore cites as his source Georg Kaibel, Epigrammata Graeca ex Lapidibus Conlecta (Berlin: Reimer, 1878), p. 282, number 699, which I print here with my own critical apparatus:
Νήπιον, ὠκύμορον κατέχω χθών, ὦ ξένε, παῖδα,
    ζώσαντ' ἐν μελάθροις ἐς λυκάβαντα τέταρτον.
οὔνομα δ' ἐν τοκέεσσι φίλοις κέκλητ' Ἀσιάρχης·
    αὐτοὶ δ' οἳ θρέψαν τήνδ' ἐπέθοντο κόνιν
καὶ δακρύοισιν ἔβρεξαν ὅλον τάφον· ἄστατος ὄντως        5
    θνητῶν ἐστι βίος καὶ βραχὺς οὐδ' ἄπονος.

versus 2 metro claudicat: μέχρις vel ὡς ante ἐς add. dub. Peek; λυκάβαντα lapis: λυκάβαν Wilhelm; τέταρτον lapis: τρίτον dub. Kaibel
Other editions include L. Moretti, Inscriptiones Graecae Urbis Romae III 1162 (unavailable to me), Inscriptiones Graecae XIV 1422, and Werner Peek, Griechische Vers-Inschriften (Berlin, 1955), p. 212, number 789.

I can't find a complete English translation of the inscription anywhere, so here is my rough version:
I, the earth, cover a prematurely dead infant child, o stranger,
who lived in his house up to his fourth year.
By name he was called Asiarches by his dear parents;
they who raised him buried these ashes
and drenched the whole tomb with their tears; unsteady in truth
is the life of mortals, and short, and not without troubles.
There is a Spanish translation in María Luisa del Barrio Vega, Epigramas funerarios griegos (Madrid: Editorial Gredos, 1992), p. 174:
Yo soy la tierra que guarda a un niño de corta edad, de prematura muerte, extranjero: cuatro años fueron los que vivió en su casa. Asiarques era el nombre con el que lo llamaban sus padres. Este polvo esparcieron quienes lo criaron, y con sus lágrimas han humedecido toda su tumba. Fugaz es, en verdad, la vida de los mortales, breve y llena de pesares.

Sunday, June 26, 2022


Dislike of Travel

Eleanor Dickey, "J.N. Adams (1943-2021)," Commentaria Classica 8 (2021) 225-228 (at 227):
Born in Sydney, Australia, in 1943, Adams graduated from the University of Sydney in 1965 and in 1967 flew to England to embark on doctoral work at Oxford. He found the flying so traumatic that he could never get on an aeroplane again and remained in Britain for the rest of his life, though he always considered himself emphatically Australian. Adams' dislike of travel was not confined to flying: he almost never crossed the Channel by any means, and even within the UK rarely attended conferences. He thereby gained much more time for writing, and he ran no risk of being sidelined from contemporary scholarly discourse: the world's Latinists flocked to consult him individually, both about his ideas and about their own.


We May No Longer Endure These Outlanders

William Morris (1834-1896), A Tale of the House of the Wolfings and All the Kindreds of the Mark (London: Reeves and Turner, 1889), p. 154 (from chapter XXV):
But now look to it what ye will do; for we may no longer endure these outlanders in our houses, and we must either die or get our own again: and that is not merely a few wares stored up for use, nor a few head of neat, nor certain timbers piled up into a dwelling, but the life we have made in the land we have made. I show you no choice, for no choice there is.


Attentive Reading

John Ruskin (1819-1900), Sesame and Lilies, rev. ed. (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1871), p. 17:
[Y]ou must get into the habit of looking intensely at words, and assuring yourself of their meaning, syllable by syllable—nay, letter by letter.
Related posts:


The Founders of the Modern Spirit

Ernest Renan (1823-1892) The Future of Science (London: Chapman and Hall, Limited, 1891), p. 131:
The modern spirit, that is, rationalism, criticism, liberalism, was founded on the same day that philology was founded. The founders of the modern spirit are the philologists.

L'esprit moderne, c'est-à-dire le rationalisme, la critique, le libéralisme, a été fondé le même jour que la philologie. Les fondateurs de l'esprit moderne sont des philologues.

Saturday, June 25, 2022


Accidents Happen

Joshua T. Katz, "The Muse at Play: An Introduction," in Jan Kwapisz et al., edd., The Muse at Play: Riddles and Wordplay in Greek and Latin Poetry (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2013), pp. 1-30 (at 5, footnote omitted):
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

Aristophanes, Assemblywomen 174-179 (tr. Stephen Halliwell):
                      I'm vexed and grieved to see
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
R.G. Ussher ad loc.:


Masked Words

John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies, rev. ed. (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1871), pp. 19-20:
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

Jordanes, Gothic History 36.193 (tr. Charles Christopher Mierow):
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.

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.
Related post: The King and His Subjects.


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