Thursday, July 29, 2021
Koinonia is hard to translate by a single English word: it has a cluster of meanings, including, for example, business partnership, but here we must think of "community" with a strong inflection, as in the early Christian community, in which the bonds were not merely propinquity and a common way of life but also a consciousness of common destiny, common faith. For Aristotle man was by nature not only a being destined to live in a city-state but also a household being and a community being.
People Lived Differently Then
You see, people lived differently then, when the world was new and the sky was young...Commentators compare Lucretius 5.907 (tellure nova caeloque recenti).
quippe aliter tunc orbe novo caeloque recenti
Wednesday, July 28, 2021
A Sort of Second Body
Patriotism is another form of piety in which its natural basis and rational function may be clearly seen. It is right to prefer our own country to all others, because we are children and citizens before we can be travellers or philosophers. Specific character is a necessary point of origin for universal relations: a pure nothing can have no radiation or scope. It is no accident for the soul to be embodied; her very essence is to express and bring to fruition the body's functions and resources. Its instincts make her ideals and its relations her world. A native country is a sort of second body, another enveloping organism to give the will definition. A specific inheritance strengthens the soul. Cosmopolitanism has doubtless its place, because a man may well cultivate in himself, and represent in his nation, affinities to other peoples, and such assimilation to them as is compatible with personal integrity and clearness of purpose. Plasticity to things foreign need not be inconsistent with happiness and utility at home. But happiness and utility are possible nowhere to a man who represents nothing and who looks out on the world without a plot of his own to stand on, either on earth or in heaven. He wanders from place to place, a voluntary exile, always querulous, always uneasy, always alone. His very criticisms express no ideal. His experience is without sweetness, without cumulative fruits, and his children, if he has them, are without morality. For reason and happiness are like other flowers—they wither when plucked.
First Person Plural Possessive Pronoun
Dinner in a peasant auberge,
Everybody inspects the
Vélos. "De Paris en Italie?
Grilled pork chops, fried potatoes,
Tomatoes, beans in vinegar,
Fresh cheese, pears, wine, and coffee,
And the magnificent bread
Of Touraine. Just looking at it,
We weep for joy after the
Rancid papier mâché turds
They sell in Paris. We shake
Hands with everybody and
Pedal on down the river,
Wobbling, heavy with food.
A Taste for Simplicity
As I grow old, I feel reviving in myself an opposite instinct, a Castilian love of mended clothes, simple monotonous days, and a minimum of belongings.
The solemn toy trumpeters, who with their melodies preach dreary doctrines and lies.Friedrich Nietzsche, Nachgelassene Fragmente 1882-1884, edd. Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari, 2. Aufl. (Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1988 = Kritische Studienausgabe, Bd. 10), p. 595:
Die feierlichen Schnurrpfeifer, die mit Tönen düstere Lehren und Lügen predigen.
Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Not Altogether Fruitless
But this reading of mine is not altogether fruitless. I learn a little something every day, even if only superficially, and this is the reason why my love of Greek literature has come back so strong...
nec est tamen omnino inutilis haec lectio; disco aliquid in diem, saltem superficie tenus, et haec est causa potissime, cur amor graecarum litterarum redierit...
What Stupidity Looks Like
I saw the likeness of stupidity with a head as small as a nut...Id. (Greek version, with numbering 4.2, tr. Ryan Bailey):
I saw ... the form of folly, having the head of a nut...Cf. Adamantius the Sophist, Physiognomonica B30, in Richard Foerster, ed., Scriptores Physiognomonici, Vol. I (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1893), p. 381 (tr. Ian Repath):
εἶδον ... εἶδος μωρίας, κεφαλὴν ἔχον καρύου...
A very small head indicates an insensible and unintelligent man...
κεφαλὴ μικρὰ πάνυ ἀναίσθητον καὶ ἀσύνετον σημαίνει...
Down With Everything Philological
Down with antiquities and citations or supporting testimonies from texts; down with debates and controversies and divergent opinions; down with everything philological.Oxford Latin Dictionary, s.v. facesso, sense 3: "To go away, depart, be off," here jussive subjunctive, 3rd person plural, with subjects antiquitates, etc.
Primo igitur facessant antiquitates, et citationes, aut suffragia auctorum; etiam lites et controversiae et opiniones discrepantes; omnia denique philologica.
Monday, July 26, 2021
A World Without Media
"A state composed of too many," Aristotle wrote in a famous passage (Politics, 1326b3-7), "will not be a true state, for the simple reason that it can hardly have a true constitution. Who can be the general of a mass so excessively large? And who can be herald, except Stentor?"Id. (at 22, discussing Thucydides 6.24.3-4):
The reference to the herald (the town crier) is illuminating. The Greek world was primarily one of the spoken, not the written, word. Information about public affairs was chiefly disseminated by the herald, the notice board, gossip and rumour, verbal reports and discussions in the various commissions and assemblies that made up the governmental machinery. This was a world not only without mass media but without media at all, in our sense. Political leaders, lacking documents that could be kept secret (apart from the occasional exception), lacking media they could control, were of necessity brought into a direct and immediate relationship with their constituents, and therefore under more direct and immediate control.
It would be easy to preach about the irrationality of crowd behaviour at an open-air mass meeting, swayed by demagogic orators, chauvinistic patriotism and so on. But it would be a mistake to overlook that the vote in the Assembly to invade Sicily had been preceded by a period of intense discussion, in the shops and taverns, in the town square, at the dinner table—a discussion among the same men who finally came together on the Pnyx for the formal debate and vote. There could not have been a man sitting in the Assembly that day who did not know personally, and often intimately, a considerable number of his fellow-voters, his fellow-members of the Assembly, including perhaps some of the speakers in the debate. Nothing could be more unlike the situation today, when the individual citizen from time to time engages, along with millions of others, not just a few thousand of his neighbours, in the impersonal act of marking a ballot-paper or manipulating the levers of a voting-machine.
Yet if thou wilt speak ill of me, thyself shalt hear a full and truthful list of thy own crimes.Related posts:
εἰ δ᾽ ἡμᾶς κακῶς
ἐρεῖς, ἀκούσῃ πολλὰ κοὐ ψευδῆ κακά.
Philology is just about the least with-it, least sexy, and most unmodern of any of the branches of learning associated with humanism...Id., p. 61:
For a reader of texts to move immediately, however, from a quick, superficial reading into general or even concrete statements about vast structures of power or into vaguely therapeutic structures of salutary redemption (for those who believe that literature makes you a better person) is to abandon the abiding basis for all humanistic practice. That basis is at bottom what I have been calling philological, that is, a detailed, patient scrutiny of and a lifelong attentiveness to the words and rhetorics by which language is used by human beings who exist in history...
The Gods Are There
The gods exist. The first prerequisite for understanding the belief and the cult of the Greeks is that we realise and accept this as a given fact just as they did. Knowledge of their existence is based on a perception, be it internal or external, be it the perception of the godhead itself or of something in which we discern its effect.
Die Götter sind da. Daß wir dies als gegebene Tatsache mit den Griechen erkennen und anerkennen, ist die erste Bedingung für das Verständnis ihres Glaubens und ihres Kultus. Daß wir wissen, sie sind da, beruht auf einer Wahrnehmung, sei sie innerlich oder äußerlich, mag der Gott selbst wahrgenommen sein oder etwas, in dem wir die Wirkung eines Gottes erkennen.
Sunday, July 25, 2021
Of Little Worth
Everything that can be bought is worth little: I spit this doctrine into the faces of hucksters.Friedrich Nietzsche, Nachgelassene Fragmente 1882-1884, edd. Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari, 2. Aufl. (Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1988 = Kritische Studienausgabe, Bd. 10), p. 533:
Alles was bezahlt werden kann ist wenig werth: diese Lehre speie ich den Krämern ins Gesicht.
Disapproval of Educational Innovations
Our forefathers determined what they wished their children to learn and what schools they desired them to attend. These innovations in the customs and principles of our forefathers do not please us nor seem proper.Also quoted by Aulus Gellius 15.11.2.
maiores nostri, quae liberos suos discere et quos in ludos itare vellent, instituerunt. haec nova, quae praeter consuetudinern ac morem maiorum fiunt, neque placent neque recta videntur.
But he who oppresses us is our emperor
And highest judge...
Doch der uns unterdrückt, ist unser Kaiser
Und höchster Richter...
The great house glitters with bronze, and the whole roof is well decked with gleaming helmets, from which white plumes of horse-hair hang waving, to deck the heads of men. Bright greaves of bronze lie round pegs and hide them—a protection against the strong arrow,—and corslets of new linen and hollow shields lie thrown upon the floor. With them are swords from Chalcis, and with them many belts and tunics. These we may not forget, ever since we first stood to this task.The Greek, adapted from Eva-Maria Voigt, ed., Sappho et Alcaeus, Fragmenta (Amsterdam: Athenaeum, 1971), p. 242:
]...[Herbert Weir Smyth, Greek Melic Poets (London: Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1900), pp. 223-224 (with different line numbering):
μαρμαίρει δὲ μέγας δόμος
χάλκωι, παῖσα δ᾿ Ἄρηι κεκόσμηται στέγα
λάμπραισιν κυνίαισι, κὰτ
τᾶν λεῦκοι κατέπερθεν ἴππιοι λόφοι 5
νεύοισιν, κεφάλαισιν ἄν-
δρων ἀγάλματα· χάλκιαι δὲ πασσάλοις
λάμπραι κνάμιδες, ἔρκος ἰσχύρω βέλεος,
θόρρακές τε νέω λίνω 10
κόϊλαί τε κὰτ ἄσπιδες βεβλήμεναι·
πὰρ δὲ Χαλκίδικαι σπάθαι,
πὰρ δὲ ζώματα πόλλα καὶ κυπάσσιδες.
τῶν οὐκ ἔστι λάθεσθ᾿ ἐπεὶ
δὴ πρώτιστ᾿ ὐπὰ τὦργον ἔσταμεν τόδε. 15
3 Ἄρηι codd.: ἄρ' εὖ Page
15 πρώτιστ᾿ ὐπὰ τὦργον Lobel: πρώτισθ᾿ ὑπὸ ἔργον codd.
Alcaeus marks the arms and the armour with a keen eye and registers each item in turn. Though such an armoury is clearly intended for use, it has its own charm for him, and he delights in it as an aristocrat delights in the apparatus of his sport. The arms so described are contemporary and the best that money can buy. If the helmets, with their horse-hair plumes, are not so up to date as the plumeless Corinthian helmet, which was already in full use on the Greek mainland, but have a Homeric air, the 'hollow' shields came into existence with the introduction of hoplite tactics in the seventh century, and the adjective is much to the point. The linen corslets are not so much a means of protection as a military elegance; they recall those which Amasis of Egypt dedicated in the temple of Athene at Lindos and sent to Sparta. The ζώματα and the κυπάσσιδες complete the inventory of what a full uniform required. The whole passage suggests an officer who enjoys the inspection of kit and looks forward with confidence to the good use that will be made of it.The same fragment, tr. Richmond Lattimore, Greek Lyrics, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960), pp. 44-45:
The great hall is aglare with bronze armament and the whole inside made fit for warOn this fragment see Denys Page, Sappho and Alcaeus: An Introduction to the Study of Ancient Lesbian Poetry (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1955), pp. 209-223, and Henry Spelman, "Alcaeus 140," Classical Philology 110.4 (October 2015) 353-360.
with helms glittering and hung high, crested over with white horsemanes that nod and wave
and make splendid the heads of men who wear them. Here are shining greaves made out of bronze,
hung on hooks, and they cover all the house's side. They are strong to stop arrows and spears.
Here are war-jackets quilted close of new linen, with hollow shields stacked on the floor,
with broad swords of the Chalkis make, many tunics and many belts heaped close beside.
These shall not lie neglected, now we have stood to our task and have this work to do.
Saturday, July 24, 2021
For Our Ancestral Heritage
The front lines between the proponents of language retention and of Anglicization had hardened during and after the First World War. Wist, who in 1904 had spoken of the transitional character of the immigrant culture, now seemed a preservationist compared to those who questioned the patriotism of any American who used a foreign language. The new church formed in 1917 had identified itself as "Norwegian" but wartime nativist pressure led to a resolution (533 voting yes, 61, no) at the first biennial convention in 1918 to drop this adjective. The resolution had to be confirmed by a second biennial meeting, and the opposition mobilized, forming a society, For Fædrearven (For our ancestral heritage), with the purpose of keeping the church "Norwegian." The prime mover and secretary was [Ole] Rølvaag. In a newspaper in Canton, South Dakota, Visergutten, he wrote a series of articles and edited a debate on Norwegian-American culture (3 Feb. 1921-15 June 1924, eventually publishing his contributions in 1922 in Omkring fædrearven (On our ancestral heritage). As nativist sentiment subsided with the end of the war and a disruptive debate on a non-theological issue was foreseen, leaders of the church themselves recommended that the convention reverse its position in 1920 (Chrislock 1977, 220-221). The spokesmen for "our heritage" had won the battle against what had seemed significant odds. Indeed the ground swell of sympathy for the preservationist stance not only demonstrated a reaction to the experience of near persecution of minority cultures but seemed to augur a revitalization of Vesterheimen. The Norwegian Society had never gained popular support in the early years of the century; For Fædrearven could boast annual meetings with several thousand participants (Rolvaag 1922,17).
In the first of the three essays in his 1922 volume, "Naive reflections on our heritage," Rølvaag develops a theory of ethnicity and describes the traits and characteristics that Norwegian Americans may contribute to their new country. While this essay presents the most complete statement of the preservationist views shared by Ager, Buslett, Johnson, and Strømme, the other two essays are more polemical in tone and add little to the theory or the rhetoric of the first. Nostalgia for the Old World has no place in Rølvaag's reflections; he speaks as a Norwegian American, not as a Norwegian. In keeping with the terminology of his day, Rølvaag speaks of "race" where we would speak of ethnicity and he may at times seem to suggest that national traits are not merely cultural but are transferred genetically. Nevertheless, his message to his readers is less concerned with what they are than with what they must do. His appeals to ethnic pride must be understood in a context where the ideologues of Americanism were suggesting that the traits of immigrants were not only undesirable but inferior. In his conclusion to the first essay he speaks to the heart of the matter, the "sancta sanctorum: our emotional relationship to the land we have become citizens of and where our children will live and build after us." He asks how someone with a "Norwegian soul" may become a good American citizen, and replies: "let us hold high our heritage; then our emotional relationship to America will be all right. For this land needs human beings, not merely creatures" (107-108. Italics are Rølvaag's.).
His implied antagonists are the spokesmen for the melting-pot ideology, who appear to be near relatives of Ibsen's Button Molder. In the last act of Peer Gynt the Button Molder explains that since Peer had failed to realize himself in life, he would go neither to hell nor to heaven but would be melted down by orders of a "thrifty" Master who "throws out nothing as irreparable / That still can be used for raw material." Peer protests that even "the old-time judgment" would be better than "simply to disappear / Like a mote in a stranger's blood, to forswear / being Gynt for a ladle-existence, to melt—/ It makes my innermost soul revolt." But he meets little understanding from the Button Molder, who points out that "Yourself is just what you've never been—/ So what difference to you to get melted down?" Literate Norwegian Americans were preconditioned to react negatively to Israel Zangwill's vision of America in The Melting-Pot (1909), and Rølvaag merges Ibsen's metaphor of the "melting ladle" with Zangwill's "melting pot": "We cannot be reconciled to the doctrine that it would benefit our country if all its inhabitants become identical, molded in the same ladle, with all dissimilarities ground away. We believe this would impoverish us as a people" (1922,22).
Letters of the Alphabet as Analogues for Atoms
It often makes a big difference in what combinations and positions the selfsame elements occur, and what motions they mutually pass on or take over. For the same elements compose sky, sea and lands, rivers and sun, crops, trees and animals, but they are moving differently and in different combinations. Consider how in my verses, for instance, you see many letters common to many words; yet you must admit that different verses and words differ in substance and in audible sound. So much can be accomplished by letters through mere change of order. But the elements can bring more factors into play so as to create things in all their variety.I don't have access to Cyril Bailey's commentary on Lucretius, so I'm forced to rely on William Barney Smith's (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1942), who has these observations on this passage (p. 281):
atque eadem magni refert primordia saepe
cum quibus et quali positura contineantur
et quos inter se dent motus accipiantque;
namque eadem caelum mare terras flumina solem 820
constituunt, eadem fruges arbusta animantis,
verum aliis alioque modo commixta moventur.
quin etiam passim nostris in versibus ipsis
multa elementa vides multis communia verbis,
cum tamen inter se versus ac verba necessest 825
confiteare et re et sonitu distare sonanti.
tantum elementa queunt permutato ordine solo;
at rerum quae sunt primordia, plura adhibere
possunt unde queant variae res quaeque creari.
Black ponds from which the sweet gloom of a toad sings forth: this is what you are to me, you priests. Who among you could stand to show himself naked!Friedrich Nietzsche, Nachgelassene Fragmente 1882-1884, edd. Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari, 2. Aufl. (Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1988 = Kritische Studienausgabe, Bd. 10), pp. 433-434:
You do well to lay out your corpse in black, and I hear the evil-spiced dullness of death chambers resounding from your speeches.
How I hate the lying convulsions of your humility! In your kneeling I see the habits of slaves, you lickspittles of your God!
Schwarze Teiche, aus denen heraus der süße Trübsinn der Unke singt: das seid ihr mir, ihr Priester. Wer von euch vertrüge es, sich nackt zu zeigen!
Ihr thut gut, euren Leichnam schwarz auszuschlagen, und aus euren Reden klingt mir die übel gewürzte Dumpfheit von Todtenkammern.
Wie hasse ich den verlogenen Krampf eurer Demuth! Eurem Kniefall sehe ich die Gewohnheiten der Sklaven an, ihr Speichellecker eures Gottes!
Long Live the People and the Crafts!
Some of the most skilled of these [cloth workers] were organized in powerful guilds that looked out for their interests, but other workmen labored for a pittance. In 1378, two years before Poggio's birth, the seething resentment of these miserable day laborers, the populo minuto, had boiled over into a full-scale bloody revolt. Gangs of artisans ran through the streets, crying, "Long live the people and the crafts!" and the uprising briefly toppled the ruling families and installed a democratic government. But the old order was quickly restored, and with it a regime determined to maintain the power of the guilds and the leading families.In his endnotes Greenblatt provides no sources for this passage. His populo minuto seems to be a misprint for popolo minuto. In Italian the cry was apparently "Viva il popolo et l'arti!" See Il controtumulto de' Ciompi: Lettera del secolo XIV (Florence: Tipografia all'Insigna di S. Antonio, 1869), p. 10. Other sources record a similar cry — Viva il popolo minuto, i.e., Long live the little people, which would be a good slogan for a modern populist movement.
After the defeat of the Ciompi, as the working-class revolutionaries were called, the resurgent oligarchs held on to power tenaciously for more than forty years, shaping Poggio's whole knowledge and experience of the city where he determined to make his fortune.
Labels: typographical and other errors
Friday, July 23, 2021
If the text should actually prove to be absorbing, ordinary footnotes afford no pleasure whatever. Encountering one, as Noel Coward remarked, is like going downstairs to answer the doorbell while making love.
I have never made nor do I make a great deal of my writings, for I am never so conscious of how trifling is my ability to express myself as when I take pen in hand and settle my mind on the effort of writing. In this matter I am very often such a failure in my own eyes that I seem to myself ignorant and without talent in writing since sometimes not only matter but even words fail me, although I have spent a long time searching for what I should say.
Therefore read when you find time free from more important business and, if you are offended by anything in your reading, be generous either to my ignorance or to my wordiness.
Neque enim scripta mea unquam magni feci, neque facio, tunc maxime cognoscens quam parum dicendi facultate possim, quum sumpto calamo animum ad scribendi curam accommodavi. In quo persaepe ita mihi ipsi desum, ut rudis atque ingenii inops mihi videar in scribendo, quum non solum sententiae aliquando, sed etiam verba deficiant, licet diutius quid dicam investiganti.
Leges igitur, quum tempus vacuum nactus eris a majoribus negotiis, et si qua in re inter legendum offenderis, dabis veniam vel ignorantiae, vel verbositati.
Killing and Mutilation
'Imaging is, in itself', according to Dryden, 'the very height and life of poetry.' This is true of the poetry of Lucretius. Yet his images are frequently not explained by commentators and not respected by translators. Even those writing expressly on his imagery have done little more than pass general judgments supported by lists of paraphrased examples. Popular though it is among writers on classical literature, paraphrase kills poetry, and in Lucretius (where so much depends upon the acuity of the detail), it mutilates the corpse.