Monday, May 16, 2022

 

Hymn to Rome

Melinno, Hymn to Rome (tr. Andrew Erskine):
Hail, Roma, daughter of Ares, warlike mistress with a girdle of gold, who has as a dwelling place on earth holy Olympus forever unshaken.

To you alone, most esteemed one, Fate has given the royal glory of everlasting rule so that you may govern with lordly might.

By your yoke with its strong straps the breasts of the earth and the grey sea are bound fast. With a sure hand you steer the cities of men.

Almighty time overturns everything and moulds life this way and that. It is only in your case that it does not change the favourable wind which maintains your rule.

Certainly, out of all people you alone bring forth the strongest men, great warriors as they are, just as if producing the crop of Demeter from the land.

χαῖρέ μοι, ῾Ρώμα, θυγάτηρ Ἄρηος,
χρυσεομίτρα δαΐφρων ἄνασσα,
σεμνὸν ἃ ναίεις ἐπὶ γᾶς ῎Ολυμπον
αἰὲν ἄθραυστον.

σοὶ μόνᾳ, πρέσβιστα, δέδωκε Μοῖρα        5
κῦδος ἀρρήκτω βασιλῇον ἀρχᾶς,
ὄφρα κοιρανῇον ἔχοισα κάρτος
ἀγεμονεύῃς.

σᾷ δ' ὐπὰ σδεύγλᾳ κρατερῶν λεπάδνων
στέρνα γαίας καὶ πολιᾶς θαλάσσας        10
σφίγγεται· σὺ δ' ἀσφαλέως κυβερνᾷς
ἄστεα λαῶν.

πάντα δὲ σφάλλων ὁ μέγιστος αἰὼν
καὶ μεταπλάσσων βίον ἄλλοτ' ἄλλως
σοὶ μόνᾳ πλησίστιον οὖρον ἀρχᾶς        15
οὐ μεταβάλλει.

ἦ γὰρ ἐκ πάντων σὺ μόνα κρατίστους
ἄνδρας αἰχματὰς μεγάλους λοχεύεις
εὔσταχυν Δάματρος ὅπως ἀνεῖσα
καρπὸν †ἀπ' ἀνδρῶν.        20


20 ἀπ' ἀγρῶν Bergk: ἄρουρα Bücheler
Another translation, by Matthew Dillon and Lynda Garland:
Hail, Roma, daughter of Ares,
Golden-crowned warrior queen
You who live on earth on holy Olympus,
For ever indestructible.

To you alone, most revered one, has Fate        5
Granted royal glory of unbreakable dominion,
So that, with your sovereign power,
You might lead the way.

Under your yoke of strong leather straps,
The chests of earth and grey sea        10
Are tightly bound together; with firm hand you govern
The cities of your peoples.

The longest eternity, which overthrows everything
And shapes the course of life first in this way, then in that,
For you alone does not change the wind        15
Which fills the sails of empire.

Indeed, out of all, you alone give birth to
Strong men, wielders of spears,
Sending forth a well-aiming crop of men
Like the fruits of Demeter.        20
Scholars differ about the hymn's literary worth. Contrast W.A. Oldfather, "Melinno," in RE XV/1 (1931) 521-523 (at 522):
Mir scheint es genau so gut als der grössere Teil von Horaz' Liedern, besonders Carmen Saeculare und die politischen Oden überhaupt, und der gewönliche Poeta Laureatus dürfte stolz auf eine ebenso gelungene Leistung sein.
with Hugh Lloyd-Jones and Peter Parsons, Supplementum Hellenisticum (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1983), p. 269:
nobis quidem turgidus iste stilus et inanium iterationum strepitus aetatem Hadriani sapere videntur.
See

 

No Tittering

G.G. Coulton, Ten Medieval Studies With Four Appendices (1930; rpt. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), p. 45:
"Let not novices be easily moved to laughter," writes Bernard [of Besse], "...tittering in general is a great disgrace to the gravity of a Religious. It is utterly despicable for a man of Religion to titter like a boy. No man of Religion should utter laughter with undisciplined lips, but show with a glad face the gladness of his heart."
Related posts:

 

War and Peace

Apollodorus of Carystus, fragment 5 Kassel and Austin, lines 1-14 (tr. Charles Burton Gulick):
O world of men! Why do ye give up the happy life, and devote all your thought to injuring one another by making war? Can it be that some boorish fate to‑day presides over our lives — a fate which knows no culture at all, is completely ignorant of what is bad or what is good, and in some random way tosses us about as chance decrees? I think so indeed. For what fate, were she really a Greek, would prefer to see men thrashed​ by one another and lying prone as corpses, when they might be jolly, playful, just a bit tipsy, enjoying the sound of music as they should? Tell me, yourself, sweetest lady, say that our fate is indeed a boor.

ὦ πάντες ἄνθρωποι, τί τὸ ζῆν ἡδέως
παρέντες ἐπιμελεῖσθε τοῦ κακῶς ποιεῖν
πολεμοῦντες ἀλλήλους; πότερα πρὸς τῶν θεῶν
ἐπιστατεῖ τις τοῦ βίου νυνὶ Τύχη
ἄγροικος ἡμῶν, οὔτε παιδείαν ὅλως        5
εἰδυῖα, τί τὸ κακόν ποτ᾽ ἢ τί τἀγαθὸν
ἔστ᾽ ἀγνοοῦσα παντελῶς εἰκῆ τέ πως
ἡμᾶς κυλίνδουσ᾽ ὅντιν᾽ ἂν τύχῃ τρόπον;
οἶμαί γε· τίς γὰρ μᾶλλον ἂν προείλετο
Ἕλλην ἀληθῶς οὖσα λεπομένους ὁρᾶν        10
αὐτοὺς ὑφ᾽ αὑτῶν καὶ καταπίπτοντας νεκρούς,
ἐξὸν ἱλαρούς παίζοντας ὑποπεπωκότας
αὐλουμένους. † ωδει † λέγ᾽ αὐτή, γλυκυτάτη,
ἔλεγχ᾽ ἄγροικον οὖσαν ἡμῶν τὴν Τύχην.


13 ωδει codd.: ᾠδῇ Grotius (unde κηλούμενος ᾠδῇ Meineke): ὡδί Morel: σποδεῖν Kock: ὡς δεῖ Lumb: σὺ δὴ Kaibel: ἰδεῖν Palmer

Sunday, May 15, 2022

 

Incredible

Dio Cassius 72.26.3 (speech of Marcus Aurelius; tr. Earnest Cary):
Perhaps all this seems incredible to you, but you ought not to disbelieve it; for surely all goodness has not yet entirely perished from among men, but there is still in us a remnant of the ancient virtue.

παράδοξα μὲν ἴσως ταῦθ᾽ ὑμῖν φαίνεται, ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ ἀπιστεῖν ὑμᾶς αὐτοῖς δεῖ· οὐ γάρ που καὶ ἁπλῶς πάντα τὰ ἀγαθὰ ἐκ τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἀπόλωλεν, ἀλλ᾽ ἔστι καὶ παρ᾽ ἡμῖν ἔτι τῆς ἀρχαίας ἀρετῆς λείψανον.

 

Preposterous

Yüan Tsung-tao (1560–1600), in Vignettes from the Late Ming: A Hsiao-p'in Anthology. Translated with Annotations and an Introduction by Yang Ye (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999), p. 44 (notes omitted):
If you have not yet reached a comprehensive and thorough understanding of things in learning, then you are likely to say yes to those who agree with you, and say no to those who don't. It is like a southerner in a boat sneering at a northerner in a carriage, or the long-legged crane spurning the short-legged duck. Not to reprove yourself for holding a prejudice, but to reprove others for holding a different opinion—isn't that preposterous?

 

Different Linguistic Habits

Victor Klemperer (1881-1960), The Language of the Third Reich. LTI – Lingua Tertii Imperii: A Philologist's Notebook, tr. Martin Brady (2000; rpt. London: Continuum, 2006), p. 172:
The variations in speech dependent on class are by no means merely of aesthetic significance. Rather, I am convinced that the unfortunate mistrust between intellectuals and proletarians is largely a result of their different linguistic habits. There were so many occasions during these years when I said to myself: how on earth shall I put it? Workers like to use fruity expressions relating to digestion in every sentence. If I did the same he would notice it didn't come naturally and regard me as a hypocrite trying to ingratiate myself; however, if I talk naturally, or as I was taught in the nursery and at school, he will think me arrogant or a jumped-up so-and-so.

Die Verschiedenartigkeit des Sprechens je nach der Sozialschicht ist ja keineswegs nur von ästhetischer Bedeutsamkeit. Vielmehr bin ich überzeugt davon, daß das unselige Mißtrauen zwischen den Gebildeten und den Proletariern zu einem sehr großen Teil gerade auf den Unterschieden der Sprachgewohnheit beruht. Wie oft in diesen Jahren habe ich mir gesagt : Wie soll ich's nur anstellen? Der Arbeiter liebt es, in jedem Satz die saftigen Ausdrücke der Verdauung zu verwenden. Tu ich desgleichen, so merkt er, daß mir das nicht vom Herzen kommt, und hält mich für einen Heuchler, der sich anschmieren will; red' ich aber, wie mir der Schnabel gewachsen oder in Kinderstube und Schule geformt worden ist, dann hält er mich für hochmütig, für einen feinen Pinsel.

 

Fierce Anne

Enid Blyton (1897-1968), Five Go To Billycock Hill, chapter 10:
'I know what we'll do now! We'll get out our portable radio and turn it on. If there's some decent music, it will sound glorious up here!'

'All right. But for goodness' sake have it on softly,' said Anne. 'I loathe people who take radios out into the country with them, and switch them on loudly, so that it spoils the peace and quiet for everyone else. I could go and kick their radios to pieces!'

'Gracious, Anne — you do sound fierce!' said George, looking at her cousin in surprise.

'You don't know our quiet sister Anne quite as well as we do, George,' said Julian, with a twinkle in his eyes. 'She can be really fierce if she thinks anyone is spoiling things for others. I had to stop her once from going up to scold people at a picnic — they actually had a gramophone going full-pelt, in spite of the angry looks from people all round. I do believe she meant to take off the gramophone record and break it over somebody's head!'

'Oh, Julian! How can you say such a thing!' said Anne. 'I did feel like it — but I didn't do it.'
Hat tip: Mrs. Laudator, who told me about this passage when we heard loud music while hiking at Schaar's Bluff yesterday.

 

England Hath Need of Thee

Leslie Mitchell, Maurice Bowra: A Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), pp. 71-72, with note on p. 328:
As he put it, 'It is to be hoped that some Aristophanic satirist will arise and mock the bores and bullies of today. In the meantime we can get considerable comfort from the incorrigible and high-minded satirist, who cared little for good taste or respectability, and flung fine handfuls of mud at a number of unpleasantly self-righteous people.' Sadly, England honoured the wrong people: 'English education has taught us to attribute nobility of character to those who would repress and deny. To Aristophanes these men were crooks and cranks.'22

22. Oxford Magazine, 4 May 1933, 612.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

 

Inflation

Revelation 6:6 (tr. Richmond Lattimore):
And I heard as it were a voice in the midst of the four animals, saying: A measure of grain for a denarius, and three measures of barley for a denarius...

καὶ ἤκουσα ὡς φωνὴν ἐν μέσῳ τῶν τεσσάρων ζῴων λέγουσαν, Χοῖνιξ σίτου δηναρίου, καὶ τρεῖς χοίνικες κριθῶν δηναρίου...
David E. Aune, Revelation 6–16 (1998; rpt. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014 = Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 52B), p. 397:
χοῖνιξ σίτου δηναρίου, καὶ τρεῖς χοίνικες κριθῶν δηναρίου, "A liter of wheat for a denarius, and three liters of barley for a denarius." This statement suggests an exorbitant price for basic commodities during a period of famine caused either by drought or by war (about eight times the normal price for wheat and five-and-one-third times the normal price for barley) and indicates the relative value of wheat and barley. According to b. Sotạ 49b, produce will soar in price with the advent of the Messiah. One liter of wheat and three liters of barley are mentioned together here because it is the appropriate ration for a cavalryman and his mount, or for an individual and his domestic animals. Here the term "liter" is used as an equivalent to the Greek dry measure called a χοῖνιξ (choinix, pl. choinikes), roughly equal to a day's ration of wheat for one person (Herodotus 7.187; Xenophon Anabasis 7.3.23; Athenaeus Deipn. 3.98e; Diogenes Laertius 8.18; Livy 4.15.6). Three choinikes of barley was the approximate amount of daily fodder necessary to feed a horse (Polybius 6.39.13; see Stolle, Der römische Legionar, 59), while the ration of wheat for a Roman soldier was thirty-two choinikes per month (Polybius 6.39.13–15; two-thirds of a medimnos, which was forty-eight choinikes). 8 χοίνικες = 1 ἑκτεύς; 6 ἑκτεῖς = 1 μέδιμνος, i.e., a χοῖνιξ is 1/48 of a μέδιμνος. A choinix of barley or a half choinix of wheat per day was regarded as the normal ration for a slave (Thucydides 4.16.1; Athenaeus Deipn. 6.272c).

[....]

According to the Romans, a shortage in the grain supply could be considered a prodigium, i.e., a divinely sent sign foreshadowing coming disasters (Tacitus Annals 12.43; see Excursus 6A: Ancient Prodigies and the Plagues of Revelation).

The author's emphasis on a denarius as the cost of a liter of wheat and three liters of barley presupposes that this amount represents a daily wage for an average worker (Matt 20:1–16; Tob 5:14). The normal cost for a choinix of wheat was about one-eighth of a Greek denarius or two Roman asses, while barley was about half the cost of wheat, i.e., one-sixteenth of a Greek denarius or one Roman as (2 Kgs 7:1, 16; Polybius 2.15.1; Cicero Verrine Orations 3.81.188). During times of famine, grain prices could rise steeply. The prices mentioned in Xenophon Anabasis 1.5.5–6, for example, are fifty times the normal rates.

Friday, May 13, 2022

 

Quintessentially English

Norman Douglas (1868-1952), Some Limericks. Collected for the use of Students, & ensplendour'd with Introduction, Geographical Index, and with Notes Explanatory and Critical (© 1928; rpt. Boston: Nicholson and Whitney, 1942), pp. 24-26:
Whatever may be thought of speculations such as these, there is no denying that limericks are a yea-saying to life in a world that has grown grey. That alone justifies their existence. They are also English—English to the core. Of how many things can that be said? Take only our other poets: can it be said that Milton, or Keats, is English? They may have been born in England, and they certainly write the language of that country—quite readable stuff, some of it. But how full of classical allusions, what a surfeit of airs and graces! Open their pages, where you will, and you find them permeated by a cloying academic flavour; one would think they were written for the delectation of college professors. The bodies of these men were English, but their souls lived abroad; and the worst of it is, they carry their readers' souls abroad with them—abroad, into old Greece and God knows where, into the company of Virgil and Ariosto and Plato and other foreigners.

There is none of that continental nonsense here. Limericks are as English as roast beef; they, and they alone, possess that harmonious homely ring which warms our hearts when we hear them repeated round the camp-fire. Wherever two or three of our countrymen are gathered together in rough parts of the world, there you will find these verses; it is limericks that keep the flag flying, that fill you with a breath of old England in strange lands, and constitute one of the strongest sentimental links binding our Colonies to the mother country. Indeed, I should say that their political value is hardly appreciated at home, and that the Colonial Office might do worse than instal a special department for the production and export of ever-fresh material of this kind (I have reason to think that such a department is already in existence). These planters and Civil servants, the cream of our youth, might often suffer from the irritation produced by living lonely lives in lonely places; they might often be at loggerheads with each other, but for the healing and convivial influence of limericks that remind them of common ties and common duties and a common ancestry, and make them forget their separate little troubles. Or do you fancy they discuss art and politics in their leisure moments? If so, you have never lived among them. Can you hear one of them reciting cosmopolitan effusions like the Ode to a Nightingale or Paradise Regained? Let him try it on!
Quintilian said "Satura quidem tota nostra est." An Englishman might say, "Limericks at least are completely ours."

Thanks to John O'Toole for sending me a limerick about Ezra Pound by Robert Conquest:
Said Pound, "If one's writing a Canto
It should be a sort of portmanteau
Full of any old crap
That occurs to a chap
With patches of pig Esperanto."

 

Three Classes

Aristotle, Politics 4.11.4-7 (1295b; tr. Carnes Lord):
[4] Now in all cities there are three parts of the city, the very well off, the very poor, and third, those in the middle between these. Since, however, it is agreed that what is moderate and middling is best, it is evident that in the case of the goods of fortune as well a middling possession is the best of all.

[5] For it is readiest to obey reason, while for one who is overly handsome, overly strong, overly well born, or overly wealthy—or the reverse of these things, overly indigent, overly weak, or very lacking in honor—it is difficult to follow reason. The former sort tend to become arrogant and base on a grand scale, the latter malicious and base in petty ways; and acts of injustice are committed either through arrogance or through malice. Moreover, these are least inclined either to avoid ruling or to wish to rule, both of which things are injurious to cities.

[6] In addition, those who are preeminent in the goods of fortune—strength, wealth, friends, and the other things of this sort—neither wish to be ruled nor know how to be. This is something that marks them from the time they are children at home, for the effect of living in luxury is that they do not become habituated to being ruled even at school; but those who are excessively needy with respect to these things are too humble.

[7] So the ones do not know how to rule but only how to be ruled, and then only to be ruled like a slave, and the others do not know how to be ruled by any sort of rule, but only to rule like a master.

[4] ἐν ἁπάσαις δὴ ταῖς πόλεσιν ἔστι τρία μέρη τῆς πόλεως, οἱ μὲν εὔποροι σφόδρα, οἱ δὲ ἄποροι σφόδρα, οἱ δὲ τρίτοι οἱ μέσοι τούτων. ἐπεὶ τοίνυν ὁμολογεῖται τὸ μέτριον ἄριστον καὶ τὸ μέσον, φανερὸν ὅτι καὶ τῶν εὐτυχημάτων ἡ κτῆσις ἡ μέση βελτίστη πάντων.

[5] ῥᾴστη γὰρ τῷ λόγῳ πειθαρχεῖν, ὑπέρκαλον δὲ ἢ ὑπερίσχυρον ἢ ὑπερευγενῆ ἢ ὑπερπλούσιον ὄντα, ἢ τἀναντία τούτοις, ὑπέρπτωχον ἢ ὑπερασθενῆ ἢ σφόδρα ἄτιμον, χαλεπὸν τῷ λόγῳ ἀκολουθεῖν· γίγνονται γὰρ οἱ μὲν ὑβρισταὶ καὶ μεγαλοπόνηροι μᾶλλον, οἱ δὲ κακοῦργοι καὶ μικροπόνηροι λίαν, τῶν δ᾽ ἀδικημάτων τὰ μὲν γίγνεται δι᾽ ὕβριν τὰ δὲ διὰ κακουργίαν. ἔτι δὲ ἥκισθ᾽ οὗτοι φυγαρχοῦσι καὶ σπουδαρχοῦσιν, ταῦτα δ᾽ ἀμφότερα βλαβερὰ ταῖς πόλεσιν.

[6] πρὸς δὲ τούτοις οἱ μὲν ἐν ὑπεροχαῖς εὐτυχημάτων ὄντες, ἰσχύος καὶ πλούτου καὶ φίλων καὶ τῶν ἄλλων τῶν τοιούτων, ἄρχεσθαι οὔτε βούλονται οὔτε ἐπίστανται (καὶ τοῦτ᾽ εὐθὺς οἴκοθεν ὑπάρχει παισὶν οὖσιν: διὰ γὰρ τὴν τρυφὴν οὐδ᾽ ἐν τοῖς διδασκαλείοις ἄρχεσθαι σύνηθες αὐτοῖς), οἱ δὲ καθ᾽ ὑπερβολὴν ἐν ἐνδείᾳ τούτων ταπεινοὶ λίαν.

[7] ὥσθ᾽ οἱ μὲν ἄρχειν οὐκ ἐπίστανται, ἀλλ᾽ ἄρχεσθαι δουλικὴν ἀρχήν, οἱ δ᾽ ἄρχεσθαι μὲν οὐδεμίαν ἀρχήν, ἄρχειν δὲ δεσποτικὴν ἀρχήν.

 

Unclean Linen

The Book of Margery Kempe, chapter 76 (tr. Anthony Bale):
Then she took her husband home with her and looked after him for years afterwards, as long as he lived. She had a great deal of labour with him, for in his last days he turned childish and lost his reason, so that he could not (or else he would not) go to the toilet to relieve himself, but like a child he voided his bowels in his linen as he sat by the fire or at the table, wherever it was, he would spare nowhere.

Than sche take hom hir husband to hir and kept hym yerys aftyr as long as he levyd and had ful mech labowr wyth hym, for in hys last days he turnyd childisch agen and lakkyd reson that he cowd not don hys owyn esement to gon to a sege, er ellys he wolde not, but as a childe voydyd his natural digestyon in hys lynyn clothys ther he sat be the fyre er at the tabil, whethyr it wer, he wolde sparyn no place.

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The Gods

C.M. Bowra, The Greek Experience (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1957), p. 45:
If the Greeks thought of their gods as possessing human shape and a nature like that of men, they recognized that between gods and men there are enormous differences. The first is that the gods suffer from neither old age nor death. They are able to live as men would like to live if they were not continually dogged by care for the morrow and the consciousness that at any moment they may pass into nothingness. In their undecaying strength and beauty the gods have something denied to men, which makes them objects of awe and wonder. The Greek sense of the holy was based much less on a feeling of the goodness of the gods than on a devout respect for their incorruptible beauty and unfailing strength. If this was a price which the Greeks paid for seeing the gods in human shape, it had vast compensations; for it both made the gods more real than many religions can and gave to men an increased self-respect because they resembled them. It presented an ideal which was indeed not possible to rival but which by its fascinating challenge made men feel that it was good to possess, even in the humblest degree, qualities shared with the gods, and when they saw an unusual manifestation of these in their fellows, it was a matter for delight and pride.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

 

The Labour Is Enormous

Leslie Mitchell, Maurice Bowra: A Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 55:
In 1927, he told a close friend that he wondered whether he was a true scholar at all, and feared that he had nothing new to contribute:
I have been trying to work and been signally unsuccessful. I should like to be a very good man of letters and find myself only a parodist. It might even be fun to be a very good scholar, but it is so damned difficult to say what has been said many times before by good Germans, and the labour is enormous for the smallest result.
Cf. Jerome, Commentary on Ecclesiastes 1.9.1 (tr. Robin McGregor, modified by me):
And the comic poet [Terence] said something similar to this: "Nothing has been said, which has not been said before" [Eunuch 41], whence my teacher Donatus, when he was lecturing about this verse, said: "Let them perish, who have said our words before us."

huic quid simile sententiae et comicus ait 'nihil est dictum , quod non sit dictum prius.' unde praeceptor meus Donatus, cum istum versiculum exponeret, 'pereant,' inquit, 'qui ante nos nostra dixerunt!'
See Fabio Gasti, "Fortuna e varia ricezione di un motto terenziano (Eun. 41)", in Silvia Condorelli and Marco Onorato, edd., Verborum violis multicoloribus. Studi in onore di Giovanni Cupaiuolo (Naples: Paolo Loffredo Editore, 2019), pp. 363-378.

 

The Correct Drill

C.M. Bowra, Memories 1898-1939 (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1966), p. 75:
He knew all the tricks of military life and enjoyed the role of an old soldier. Once, we had fallen in and were standing at attention, when Bourne smartly stepped three steps forward, broke wind loudly, and stepped smartly back. This was the correct drill for such a need, but he alone knew it. The sergeant in control was on the point of explosion but not sure enough of himself to say anything.

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The King and His Subjects

Demosthenes 2.15-16 (tr. J.H. Vince, slightly modified):
[15] You must not imagine, men of Athens, that Philip's subjects share his tastes. No: glory is his sole object and ambition; in action and in danger he has elected to suffer whatever may befall him, putting before a life of safety the distinction of achieving what no other king of Macedonia ever achieved.

[16] But his subjects have no share in the glory that results. They are perpetually buffeted and wearied and distressed by these expeditions north and south, never suffered to give their time to their business or their private affairs, never able to dispose of such produce as they can raise, because the war has closed all the markets in their land.

[15] μὴ γὰρ οἴεσθ᾽, ὦ ἄνδρες Ἀθηναῖοι, τοῖς αὐτοῖς Φίλιππόν τε χαίρειν καὶ τοὺς ἀρχομένους, ἀλλ᾽ ὁ μὲν δόξης ἐπιθυμεῖ καὶ τοῦτ᾽ ἐζήλωκε, καὶ προῄρηται πράττων καὶ κινδυνεύων, ἂν συμβῇ τι, παθεῖν, τὴν τοῦ διαπράξασθαι ταῦθ᾽ ἃ μηδεὶς πώποτ᾽ ἄλλος Μακεδόνων βασιλεὺς δόξαν ἀντὶ τοῦ ζῆν ἀσφαλῶς ᾑρημένος·

[16] τοῖς δὲ τῆς μὲν φιλοτιμίας τῆς ἀπὸ τούτων οὐ μέτεστι, κοπτόμενοι δ᾽ ἀεὶ ταῖς στρατείαις ταύταις ταῖς ἄνω κάτω λυποῦνται καὶ συνεχῶς ταλαιπωροῦσιν, οὔτ᾽ ἐπὶ τοῖς ἔργοις οὔτ᾽ ἐπὶ τοῖς αὑτῶν ἰδίοις ἐώμενοι διατρίβειν, οὔθ᾽ ὅσ᾽ ἂν ποιήσωσιν οὕτως ὅπως ἂν δύνωνται, ταῦτ᾽ ἔχοντες διαθέσθαι κεκλειμένων τῶν ἐμπορίων τῶν ἐν τῇ χώρᾳ διὰ τὸν πόλεμον.

 

An Obsession

Lu Shu-sheng (1509-1605), in Vignettes from the Late Ming: A Hsiao-p'in Anthology. Translated with Annotations and an Introduction by Yang Ye (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999), pp. 12-13 (notes omitted):
I have few hobbies. All my life, except for books, I have not collected any "superfluous thing." When I served as an imperial historian, I obtained a Tuan inkslab. When I was an official at Nan-yung, I obtained another inkslab, made of She stone. In a number of years I got several kinds of inkstone. Having instructed some craftsmen to work on them, I acquired ten inkslabs altogether. I told myself, "These are quite enough for a collection. I should not get any more than ten." So I gave myself a cognomen, Master of Ten Inkslabs. I put them in a cabinet, which I named Inkslab Den. From time to time I would take them out, place them on the table, and sit there, facing them, in great pride. A friend of mine reproved me for my obsession with them. I responded, "Isn’t such an obsession better than one with some other things?"

One day a friend who had an eye for inkslabs examined them and found that none was of superb quality. I said, "My friend, you know I am obsessed with inkslabs. Why should I be obsessed with superb ones only? Besides, there has already been much discussion of inkslabs. Ou-yang Hsiu, Ts'ai Hsiang, and Hung Kuo believed that some of the good ones among the Dragon-tail are superior to the Tuan inkstone. But Su Shih argued to the contrary, and even elaborated on it in his writings. Perhaps there is simply no fixed value for things, and their worth is to be decided only through the mouths of the literati? In that case, how can anyone know whether those in my collection are superb or not? If, in my hobby of collecting inkslabs, I'll take nothing but the very best ones, then among rare antiques in the world, aren't there a myriad things other than inkslabs? As for rare antiques, men in power can surely acquire them, but often they have to snatch them from the possession of others. Therefore I will not give up my preference for any other hobby. Lacking in both talent and refinement, I do take a fancy to inkslabs, and yet have no idea how to treasure them. I am indeed not worthy of treasuring inkslabs, so how am I supposed to be able to consider the superiority or inferiority of their quality? However, I will not replace my hobby of collecting inkslabs with one of collecting rare antiques. Thus, by staying in my favor, perhaps these inkslabs have indeed been treasured accordingly? So, my obsession will stay unchanged."

 

Two Tendencies

Victor Klemperer (1881-1960), The Language of the Third Reich. LTI – Lingua Tertii Imperii: A Philologist's Notebook, tr. Martin Brady (2000; rpt. London: Continuum, 2006), pp. 69-70:
In every revolution, be it political, social, artistic or literary in nature, there are always two principles at work: on the one hand the appetite for the new, whereby the total contrast with what was previously valid is swiftly stressed, and on the other the need to connect with the past, to use tradition as a defence. What one is doing isn't absolutely new, rather it is a return to those things which the foregoing age had shamefully rejected, a return to humanity, the nation, morality or the true nature of art, and so on. Both tendencies are manifest in naming and renaming.

In jeder Revolution, ob sie nun Politisches und Soziales betrifft oder die Kunst oder die Literatur, sind immer zwei Tendenzen wirksam: einmal der Wille zum völlig Neuen, wobei der Gegensatz zu dem bisher Gültigen schroff betont wird, sodann aber auch das Bedürfnis nach Anknüpfung, nach rechtfertigender Tradition. Man ist nicht absolut neu, man kehrt zurück zu dem, wogegen die abzulösende Epoche gesündigt hat, zurück zur Menschheit oder zur Nation oder zur Sittlichkeit oder zum wahren Wesen der Kunst, usw., usw. Beide Tendenzen zeigen sich deutlich in Namengebungen und Umbenennungen.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

 

The Seeker

Novalis, Das Allgemeine Brouillon § 686 (tr. David W. Wood, with his note):
Whoever is unhappy in our present world, and does not find here what he seeks — delves into the world of books and art — into Nature — that eternal antiquity and modernity — and resides in this ecclesia pressa302 of a better world. He certainly finds here a lover and a friend — a fatherland, and a God.

302. Translation: oppressed Church; a reference to a small suppressed or persecuted community.

Wer unglücklich in der jetzigen Welt ist, wer nicht findet, was er sucht — der gehe in die Bücher- und Künstlerwelt — in die Natur — diese ewige Antike und Moderne zugleich — und lebe in dieser Ecclesia pressa der bessern Welt. Eine Geliebte und einen Freund — ein Vaterland und einen Gott findet er hier gewiß.

 

Hybris

Isocrates, Against Lochites 9-10 (tr. Larue Van Hook):
[9] I think that you would be as indignant as the circumstances merit if you should reflect how much more reprehensible this misdemeanor is than any others. For you will find that while the other unjust acts impair life only partially, malicious assault vitiates all our concerns, since it has destroyed many households and rendered desolate many cities.

[10] And yet why need I waste time in speaking of the calamities of the other states? For we ourselves have twice seen the democracy overthrown and twice we have been deprived of freedom, not by those who were guilty of other crimes, but by persons who contemned the laws and were willing to be slaves of the enemy while wantonly outraging their fellow-citizens.

[9] ἡγοῦμαι δ᾽ ὑμᾶς οὕτως ἂν ἀξίως ὀργισθῆναι τοῦ πράγματος, εἰ διεξέλθοιτε πρὸς ὑμᾶς αὐτοὺς ὅσῳ μεῖζόν ἐστι τοῦτο τῶν ἄλλων ἁμαρτημάτων. εὑρήσετε γὰρ τὰς μὲν ἄλλας ἀδικίας μέρος τι τοῦ βίου βλαπτούσας, τὴν δ᾽ ὕβριν ὅλοις τοῖς πράγμασι λυμαινομένην, καὶ πολλοὺς μὲν οἴκους δι᾽ αὐτὴν διαφθαρέντας, πολλὰς δὲ πόλεις ἀναστάτους γεγενημένας.

[10] καὶ τί δεῖ τὰς τῶν ἄλλων συμφορὰς λέγοντα διατρίβειν; αὐτοὶ γὰρ ἡμεῖς δὶς ἤδη τὴν δημοκρατίαν ἐπείδομεν καταλυθεῖσαν καὶ δὶς τῆς ἐλευθερίας ἀπεστερήθημεν, οὐχ ὑπὸ τῶν ταῖς ἄλλαις πονηρίαις ἐνόχων ὄντων, ἀλλὰ διὰ τοὺς καταφρονοῦντας τῶν νόμων καὶ βουλομένους τοῖς μὲν πολεμίοις δουλεύειν, τοὺς δὲ πολίτας ὑβρίζειν.

 

To Satisfy a Fool's Desire

C.M. Bowra, excerpts from "Gold Dancing in the Air," quoted in Leslie Mitchell, Maurice Bowra: A Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), pp. 40-42:
Bell-beat of wild duck overhead
Vultures wheeling to pick the dead.

A pile of peat to feed the fire
Carcasses pinned on shell-shot wire.

Siesta on a grassy mound
Gas crawling over blood-drenched ground.

Parapets stacked with mouldy dead
To keep the wine in the wine glass red.

Boys bayoneted in the night
To keep official buttons bright.

Death on the ramparts, black with cold
Death in the squelching, watery mould.

Death dizzying in the riddled sky,—
Torn bodies left alone to die.

A people lashed to a wheel of fire
To satisfy a fool's desire.

Fields sliced to shreds and cities sacked
To keep a mothy creed intact.

Lithe bodies full of sap shot down
To gild the glory on a crown.

To slaughter pits the victims go
Gorging a ghastly triumph-show.

Bronze amour on the evening clouds
Shines in the face of muttering crowds.

Cold blasts that freeze the speaker's breath
Blow sharp as vengeance, cold as death.

Snow settling on the pavement stones
Wraps the flesh closer round the bones,

Freezes the vagrant, watery mood
Into an iron certitude,

Chilling the tongue that calls on Christ
For honour to be sacrificed.

[....]

A king sits in a golden crown—
Pull the man down, pull the man down.

Obsequious lackeys hang around—
Lock them in cellars underground.

Women with jewels in their hair,
Throw their pearls for swine to wear.

A sleek financier clothed in fur—
Hang him for a murderer.

Bird-like youths upon the wing—
Cage them up and make them sing.

Powdered girls with ruby lips
Learn to come to closer grips.

Parsons bent on knees to pray
Cheer Barabbas home today.

Soldiers shooting with God's will
Make game for other men to kill.

Schoolmasters who trade in lies
Tongueless try to moralize.

Philanderers who dream and dope—
The sharp kiss of the hangman's rope.

Marionettes who dream and sup
Machine-guns quickly fold you up.

 

Dirty Linen

Aldous Huxley, Eyeless in Gaza, chapter II:
There ought to be some way of dry-cleaning and disinfecting words. Love, purity, goodness, spirit—a pile of dirty linen waiting for the laundress.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

 

Invaders

Thucydides 7.68.2 (tr. Jeremy Mynott):
That they are our enemies, and the worst of enemies, you all know: they came to our land to enslave us; and had they succeeded they would have inflicted the most terrible suffering on our men, gross indignities on our women and children, and on the city as a whole the ultimate brand of shame.

ὡς δὲ ἐχθροὶ καὶ ἔχθιστοι, πάντες ἴστε, οἵ γε ἐπὶ τὴν ἡμετέραν ἦλθον δουλωσόμενοι, ἐν ᾧ, εἰ κατώρθωσαν, ἀνδράσι μὲν ἂν τἄλγιστα προσέθεσαν, παισὶ δὲ καὶ γυναιξὶ τὰ ἀπρεπέστατα, πόλει δὲ τῇ πάσῃ τὴν αἰσχίστην ἐπίκλησιν.
A.W. Gomme et al. ad loc.:
he means that, as happened at Melos (v.116.4), the men would have been killed, the women and children enslaved, and the site of the city would have passed into alien hands (cf. 64.1 n.); the αἰσχίστη ἐπίκλησις is probably ἀνάστατος (cf. vi.76.2).
ἀνάστατος is an adjective, meaning "removed, driven out, ruined...devastated, destroyed...emptied, left bare" (Franco Montanari, The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek).

 

Fond of Legends

Aristotle, fragment 668 Rose (tr. Aaron J. Kachuck):
The more of a solitary and lonely man I am, the more I become a lover of myths.

ὅσῳ γὰρ αὐτίτης καὶ μονώτης εἰμί, φιλομυθότερος γέγονα.

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