Saturday, December 02, 2023
It Takes One to Know One
For to decide who is a wise man seems to be a task that specially requires a wise man to undertake it.
statuere enim qui sit sapiens vel maxime videtur esse sapientis.
Science and Myth
A man cannot dispel his fear about the most important matters if he does not know what is the nature of the universe but suspects the truth of some mythical story. So that without natural science it is not possible to attain our pleasures unalloyed.
οὐκ ἦν τὸ φοβούμενον λύειν ὑπὲρ τῶν κυριωτάτων μὴ κατειδότα τίς ἡ τοῦ σύμπαντος φύσις, ἀλλ᾽ ὑποπτευόμενόν τι τῶν κατὰ τοὺς μύθους· ὥστε οὐκ ἦν ἄνευ φυσιολογίας ἀκεραίους τὰς ἡδονὰς ἀπολαμβάνειν.
I know, like most men of my trade and interests, something about college professors, but, rather unusually, I also know something about bricklayers. My belief is that the latter are far more useful than the former, and that, taking one with another, they are also far more amiable and amusing fellows.
The pedagogue, being excessively literate, has long poisoned the world with highfalutin tosh about his high dignity and consequence, and especially about his altruism. He is commonly regarded, even by those who ought to know better, as a hero who has made vast sacrifices for the good of the rising generation and the honor of learning. He is, in fact, seldom anything of the sort. He is simply a lazybones who has taken to the birch in order to escape implements of a greater laboriousness. The rising generation is not his pet, but simply his oyster. And he has no more respect for learning, in his average incarnation, than a congressman has for statecraft or a Prohibition agent or lawyer for law.
The world’s stock of knowledge is seldom augmented by pedagogues; far more often they oppose its increase in a violent and implacable manner.
Friday, December 01, 2023
Thus cruel fate mocks me in my sore plight and has even grudged me a listener to my plaints.Wilhelm Kroll ad loc.:
sic nimis insultans extremo tempore saeva
Fors etiam nostris invidit questibus auris.
169 saeva Fors ist die grausame Tyche der hellenistischen Dichtung (Rohde, Roman 276); sie hat Ariadne nicht bloß in diese verzweifelte Lage gebracht, sondern ihr auch (etiam) das Ohr verweigert, das ihre Klagen hören könnte. Darin liegt ein Übermut der Tyche, die mit dem Menschen spielt (Hor. C. 3, 29, 49 Fortuna saevo laeta negotio et ludum insolentem ludere pertinax), hier noch dazu in höchster Not und scheinbarer Todesgefahr (extremo tempore vgl. 151). Gerade in Fors empfindet man das blinde, sinnlose Walten. Cic. leg. 2, 28 Fortuna sit vel ... vel Fors, in quo incerti casus significantur magis. — 170 etiam steht nicht neben dem gesteigerten Wort; Müller zu Cic. off. 2, 64.Ariadne is abandoned on a deserted island, where there is no one to hear her complaints. But some think that it is Fors who shuts her ears to Ariadne's laments. See e.g. Daniel H. Garrison ad loc.:
fortune has even been grudging of her ear to my complaints.Cf. C.J. Fordyce ad loc.:
'even grudges my plaint a hearing'.
Thursday, November 30, 2023
Words of One Too Old to Lead
But my old ageThe same, tr. Lee M. Fratantuono and R. Alden Smith:
Slows me with ice-stiff limbs, worn out by decades, and bedevils
Me as a leader. My strength is too far beyond prime for heroics.
sed mihi tarda gelu saeclisque effeta senectus
invidet imperium seraeque ad fortia vires.
But as for me, advanced years, slowed by the chill of age and exhausted by many generations,
begrudge me the ruling power, and my strength is too late for brave deeds.
May God bless your house with fine children a-plenty, born of your beautiful and virtuous wife; may peace reign in your bed, and may the noise of domestic jars be very far from you!
May you be gay, content, and joyous, neither coveting nor envying those things which eat away our souls. May you fly all kind of troubles and take no heed of those misfortunes predicted by Nostradamus!
Have no care of the morrow, but, holding to-day close in your grasp, live out the days happily as they come to you, for how do you know if you shall see another sun returning?
Dieu vueille benir ta maison
De beaux enfans naiz à foison
De ta femme belle et pudique: 75
La Concorde habite en ton lit,
Et bien loin de toy soit le bruit
De toute noise domestique.
Sois gaillard, dispost, et joyeux,
Ny convoiteux ny soucieux 80
Des choses qui nous rongent l'ame;
Fuy toutes sortes de douleurs,
Et ne pren soucy des malheurs
Qui sont predits par Nostradame.
N'ayes soucy du lendemain,
Mais serrant le temps en la main,
Vy joyeusement la journée
Et l'heure en laquelle seras:
Et que sçais-tu si tu verras 95
L'autre lumiere retournée?
Wednesday, November 29, 2023
Crime and Punishment
At the same time, however, no one could say that he allowed criminals and wrongdoers to mock him. No, he punished them with unstinting severity, and one could often see, by the side of busy roads, people who had lost feet, hands, or eyes. The upshot was that it became possible for any innocent man, whether Greek or barbarian, to travel within Cyrus' domain wherever he liked without fear and carrying whatever he wanted.
οὐ μὲν δὴ οὐδὲ τοῦτʼ ἄν τις εἴποι, ὡς τοὺς κακούργους καὶ ἀδίκους εἴα καταγελᾶν, ἀλλὰ ἀφειδέστατα πάντων ἐτιμωρεῖτο· πολλάκις δʼ ἦν ἰδεῖν παρὰ τὰς στειβομένας ὁδοὺς καὶ ποδῶν καὶ χειρῶν καὶ ὀφθαλμῶν στερομένους ἀνθρώπους· ὥστʼ ἐν τῇ Κύρου ἀρχῇ ἐγένετο καὶ Ἕλληνι καὶ βαρβάρῳ μηδὲν ἀδικοῦντι ἀδεῶς πορεύεσθαι ὅπῃ τις ἤθελεν, ἔχοντι ὅ τι προχωροίη.
High School and College Courses, or Good News and Bad News
While A Homeric Dictionary needs no dedication at this late date, I should like to think that this particular edition of it might be dedicated to the earnest young students of Greek at Thomas Jefferson School, St. Louis, of this year and years past, whose unflagging interest in Homer has been one of the rewarding experiences of my career as a teacher.It came as a surprise for me to see that Homeric Greek is still offered at Thomas Jefferson School.
Hannah Dailey, "Taylor Swift Is In Her College Era: Harvard, University of Florida Add Courses Dedicated to Pop Star," Billboard (November 28, 2023):
More college courses dedicated to Taylor Swift have been added to the academic canon for 2024, including a class at one of the most famous universities in the world: Harvard.If I were a college student, I would be ashamed for such a course to appear on my college transcript.
Harvard and University of Florida are just two of the latest schools to offer Swiftian studies, following in the footsteps of institutions such as University of Texas, Arizona State University, Stanford University and UC Berkeley. The fast-growing trend in Taylor-themed classes stems from New York University’s groundbreaking Swift course taught by Rolling Stone writer Brittany Spanos, which was launched early last year.
Tuesday, November 28, 2023
The Latin Language
It is the great sacrament, indeed, the great divinity of the Latin language that in a holy and religious fashion has been defended among pilgrims, barbarians, and enemies for so many centuries, to such a point that we Romans should not lament but rather rejoice and indeed, with the whole world hearkening, take pride. We have lost Rome, we have lost our kingdom, we have lost power — but this is not our fault but that of the times. And yet we rule over most of the world through this more illustrious power: Italy is ours, as are France, Spain, Germany, Pannonia [meaning the territory that is today partially in Hungary, Austria, and Serbia], Dalmatia [today covering much of Croatia], Illyria [modern Albania], and many other nations. For wherever the Roman language dominates, it is there that one finds Roman power.The Latin, from Eugenio Garin, ed., Prosatori latini del Quattrocento (Milan: Ricciardi, 1952), p. 596:
Magnum ergo latini sermonis sacramentum est, magnum profecto numen quod apud peregrinos, apud barbaros, apud hostes, sancte ac religiose per tot saecula custoditur, ut non tam dolendum nobis Romanis quam gaudendum sit atque ipso etiam orbe terrarum exaudiente gloriandum. Amisimus Romam, amisimus regnum atque dominatum; tametsi non nostra sed temporum culpa; verum tamen per hunc splendidiorem dominatum in magna adhuc orbis parte regnamus. Nostra est Italia, nostra Gallia, nostra Hispania, Germania, Pannonia, Dalmatia, lllyricum, multaeque aliae nationes. Ibi namque romanum imperium est ubicumque romana lingua dominatur.
Doto, Proto, et al.
Thither came Glaukē and Thaleia, Kymodokē,This catalogue of the Nereids may well be the easiest passage to read in Homer, with most lines requiring little more than a knowledge of the Greek alphabet and a couple of conjunctions.
Nēsaia, Speiō, and Thoē, and ox-eyed Haliē,
Kymothoē and Aktaia, along with Limnōreia,
Melitē and Iaira, Agauē, Amphithoē,
Dōtō and Prōtō, Dyamenē and Pherousa,
Dexamenē and Amphinomē and Kallianeira,
Dōris and Panopē and far-famed Galateia,
Nēmertēs, Aspeudēs, and Kallianassa.
With these also came Klyménē, Ianeira, and Ianassa,
Maira and Ōreithyia and fair-tressed Amatheia,
and other Nēreïds from elsewhere in the sea's depths.
ἔνθ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ἔην Γλαύκη τε Θάλειά τε Κυμοδόκη τε
Νησαίη Σπειώ τε Θόη θ᾽ Ἁλίη τε βοῶπις 40
Κυμοθόη τε καὶ Ἀκταίη καὶ Λιμνώρεια
καὶ Μελίτη καὶ Ἴαιρα καὶ Ἀμφιθόη καὶ Ἀγαυὴ
Δωτώ τε Πρωτώ τε Φέρουσά τε Δυναμένη τε
Δεξαμένη τε καὶ Ἀμφινόμη καὶ Καλλιάνειρα
Δωρὶς καὶ Πανόπη καὶ ἀγακλειτὴ Γαλάτεια 45
Νημερτής τε καὶ Ἀψευδὴς καὶ Καλλιάνασσα·
ἔνθα δ᾽ ἔην Κλυμένη Ἰάνειρά τε καὶ Ἰάνασσα
Μαῖρα καὶ Ὠρείθυια ἐϋπλόκαμός τ᾽ Ἀμάθεια
ἄλλαι θ᾽ αἳ κατὰ βένθος ἁλὸς Νηρηΐδες ἦσαν.
39-49 ath. Zenodotus et Aristarchus
See John Butterworth, "Homer and Hesiod," in J.H. Betts et al,, edd., Studies in Honour of T.B.L. Webster, vol. I (Bristol: Bristol Classical Press, 1986), pp. 33-45 (at 39-44, comparing Homer, Iliad 18.35-51, and Hesiod, Theogony 233-264).
Monday, November 27, 2023
Callinus likes to end a pentameter with a Homeric phrase such as ἀλλά τις ἰθὺς ἴτω or κουριδίης τ' ἀλόχου and all his hexameters end with a word which occurs at the end of a Homeric hexameter. The explanation of these Homeric echoes is similar to what we have seen in the case of Archilochus, but here we see on a larger scale how the elegiac poet used the epic language. The borrowing is not due to the fact that Callinus was a mere imitator and did not know how to make a language of his own. It is rather the case that in his time almost any poet writing elegiac verse learned not to operate with a vocabulary of single, select words which were characteristically his own but with phrases and even with whole lines which belonged to his craft. He composed his verses in his head, and the task of composition was made easier, almost made possible, by the fact that for most situations and thoughts there was a phrase ready-made in the epic. The poet must often, too, have had to improvise as popular poets still do in the less literate parts of Europe, and for improvisation a stock vocabulary of this kind is almost indispensable. So the circumstances in which Callinus composed were different from any modern poet's. Nor was he expected to be remarkably original. He must say the right thing for the occasion, and he must say it in language sufficiently elevated. But he could use the ordinary language of poetry as he and his hearers knew it. Callinus indeed used it with ease and fluency. The epic phrases fall easily into his verse; there is no sense of strain or of obstacles overcome with difficulty.
Sunday, November 26, 2023
Examination of Conscience
Your examination of conscience, when you are doing any translating work, is obviously grouped under three heads: Is it accurate? Is it intelligible? Is it readable?Id., p. 36:
Any translation is a good one in proportion as you can forget, while reading it, that it is a translation at all.Id., p. 45:
Legentibus, si semper exactus sit sermo, non erit gratus. I wonder where St. Jerome found that thought-provoking sentiment to end Machabees with? It is not in the Greek.Knox's translation of the sentence from Machabees:
So it is with reading; if the book be too nicely polished at every point, it grows wearisome.From Joel Eidsath:
Knox seems to be mistaken here, perhaps confused by the fact that the Latin verse numbering for Maccabees chapter 15 is slightly different from the Greek, with 2Mac 15:40 being 15:39 in the LXX.
Jerome, with his "legentibus si semper exactus sit sermo, non erit gratus", has given the logically equivalent contrapositive of "τὸ τῆς κατασκευῆς τοῦ λόγου τέρπει τὰς ἀκοὰς τῶν ἐντυγχανόντων τῇ συντάξει". It's really a nice bit of translation, and makes for a stylistic improvement on the original.
2 Macc 15:39 LXX:καθάπερ γὰρ οἶνον κατὰ μόνας πίνειν, ὡσαύτως δὲ καὶ ὕδωρ πάλιν πολέμιον· ὃν δὲ τρόπον οἶνος ὕδατι συγκερασθεὶς ἡδὺς καὶ ἐπιτερπῆ τὴν χάριν ἀποτελεῖ, οὕτως καὶ τὸ τῆς κατασκευῆς τοῦ λόγου τέρπει τὰς ἀκοὰς τῶν ἐντυγχανόντων τῇ συντάξει. ἐνταῦθα δὲ ἔσται ἡ τελευτή.My translation:For just like it's harmful to drink wine neat, so again it is with water. But the way it is, is that wine mixed with water is sweet and makes for a nice buzz. So too, the art of prepared speech pleases the senses of the listeners through combination. And here shall be the end.A sentiment worthy of Scheherazade.