Friday, December 03, 2021


Bad Company

Adam Smith (1723-1790), The Theory of Moral Sentiments, ed. Knud Haakonssen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), p. 41:
It is for a reason of the same kind, that a certain reserve is necessary when we talk of our own friends, our own studies, our own professions. All these are objects which we cannot expect should interest our companions in the same degree in which they interest us. And it is for want of this reserve, that the one half of mankind make bad company to the other. A philosopher is company to a philosopher only; the member of a club, to his own little knot of companions.


A Little Respite

Homer, Iliad 11.801 = 16.43 = 18.201 (tr. Richmond Lattimore):
There is little breathing space in the fighting.

ὀλίγη δέ τ᾽ ἀνάπνευσις πολέμοιο.
The same (tr. Peter Green):
Too brief is the breathing space from battle.
But cf. Claude Brügger on 16.43:
according to MAZON [transl.] ‘to catch one’s breath requires only a short time in war’ (similarly LA ROCHE on 11.801 [transl.]: ‘respite in war is brief, i.e. it need not be long’; FAESI and AH on 11.801 [transl.]: ‘even a short rest is at least a rest’). The expression has a proverbial character (DE JONG, loc. cit.). Gnomic statements frequently serve to underline items of advice (STENGER 2004, 6–9). Typical in such cases is: (a) laconic phrasing via a nominal clause, cf. 630 (LARDINOIS 2001, 99 with n. 32; abstract verbal nouns are particularly suitable: JONES 1973, 14 f.), (b) picking up the verb via a noun with a related stem: ἀναπνεύσωσι – ἀνάπνευσις (LARDINOIS 1997, 218; in general, PORZIG 1942, 31 ff.), and (c) the position of the gnome at (or near) the end of the speech (1.218n.; AHRENS 1937, 23, 52; LOHMANN 1970, 24, 66 f., 72; STENGER loc. cit. 9).

Thursday, December 02, 2021


On Maclou's Return

John Jay Chapman, "Song After Ronsard ('Fais rafraichir mon vin')," Songs and Poems (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1919), p. 7:
Sink the wine within the spring,
    And cool it deep and long:
Send Jeanne to me, and let her bring
    Her lute, to chant a song.
Three shall dance and one shall sing,
    Call Barbe, that in the whirl
Her heavy tresses she may fling
    Like a mad Tuscan girl.

See! the sun has dipped his head,
    We may not live till morning;
Fill my cup, boy, till the bead
    Run over with no warning.
Curse the dolt that slaves to get,
    Curse doctor and divine;
My wits were never sober yet
    Till they were washed with wine!
I don't have access to the relevant volume of Paul Laumonier's edition of Ronsard, so I was glad to come across a very useful edition of Ronsard's Ode 2.10 (or 2.11) by Florence Bonifay (Université Lumière Lyon 2), which surprised me on account of the large number of apparently authorial variants:
Les quatre premiers livres des Odes de Pierre de Ronsard, Vandomois. Ensemble son Bocage. A Paris. Chez Guillaume Cavellart libraire juré de l’université de Paris, demeurant devant le College de Cambrai, a la poulle grasse. 1550. Avec privilege du Roi.

Source : Pierre de Ronsard, Œuvres complètes I, éd. Laumonier, Droz, Paris, 1931, pp. 207-208. Ré-éditions :
- Les quatre premiers livres des Odes de 1553 et de 1555.
- dans les Œuvres de 1560, 1567, 1571, 1673, 1578, 1584, 1587.
→ toutes les variantes sont reportées ici.

Fai refreschir le vin2, de sorte
Qu’il passe en froideur le glaçon3
Page, & que Marguerite apporte4
Son luc pour dire une chançon5,
Nous ballerons tous trois au son,        5
Et di à Cassandre qu’el’ vienne6
Les cheveus tors à la façon
D’une follatre Italienne.

Ne sen-tu que le jour se passe7
Et tu ne te vas point hastant8 ?        10
Qu’on verse du vin en ma tasse,
A qui le boirai-je d’autant ?
Pour ce jourdui je suis contant
Q’un homme plus fol ne se treuve,
Aiant reveu celui que tant9        15
J’ai conneu seur ami d’épreuve10.

1 1578-1587 : sans titre. Comme la désignation de Maclou, introduite au vers 15 dans les versions de 1555 à 1573, disparaît également à partir de 1578 il n’est désormais plus question de Maclou de la Haye.
2 1578, v. 1 : « Refraischy moy le vin » ; 1584-1587 : « Fay refraischir mon vin »
3 1555-1573 et 1584-1587, v. 2 : « Qu’il passe en froideur un glaçon » 1578, v. 2 : « Qu’il soit aussi froid qu’un glaçon : »
4 1578-1587, v. 3 : « Fay venir Janne, qu’elle apporte »
5 1567-1587, v. 4 : « Son Luth pour dire une chanson »
6 1553-1573, v. 6 : « Et dis à Jane qu’elle vienne »
1578-1587, v. 6 : « Et dy à Barbe qu’elle vienne »
7 1567-1573, v. 9 : « Vois-tu comme le jour se passe »
8 1567-1573, v. 10 : « Et ton pié tu ne vas hastant ? »
9 1555-1573, v. 14-15 : « Qu’un autre plus fol ne se treuve / Revoiant mon Maclou »
10 1578-1587, vv. 9-16 : « Ne vois-tu que le jour se passe ? / Je ne vy point au lendemain : / Page, reverse dans ma tasse, / Remply moy ce verre (84-87 Que ce grand verre soit) tout plain. / Maudit soit qui languit en vain : / Les Philosophes (84-87 Ces vieux Medecins) je n’appreuve : / Le (84-87 Mon) cerveau n’est jamais bien sain, / Que l’Amour & le vin n’abreuve (84-87 Si beaucoup de vin ne l’abreuve) »
Here is another translation of Ronsard's ode, by Edna Worthley Underwood, Songs from the Plains (Boston: Sherman, French & Company, 1917), p. 116:
Make haste and put the wine to cool,
    Let ice and snow no colder be!
Ho — Page! Bid Margot bring her stool
    And lute and sing to thee and me,
Or we'll foot it here right royally!
    Do thou bid Jane to hasten then,
Her twisted hair piled gracefully
    À la a sportive Italienne.

Carest thou not that the day's a-wing?
    Why dost thou not make haste, I pray?
Fill full my glass! Begin! — begin —
    To whom else should I drink, I say?
I am content that this one day
    Should find no folly passing mine,
When my Maclou comes home to stay
    No man has truer friend than mine.
Related post: An Ode by Ronsard.

Wednesday, December 01, 2021


My Scraps and Rags of Greek

John Jay Chapman, letter to Leonard L. Mackall (January 20, 1924), in "A Sampling of Letters and Obiter Dicta," Arion 2.2/3 (Spring, 1992 - Fall, 1993) 33-65 (at 42-43):
I shall let these heathen rage furiously and imagine a vain thing, and meantime I have been keeping up my scraps and rags of Greek — which I have on ice for the last stage of slippered pantaloon. The consolation is that nobody knows Greek. Those who devote their entire time to it have a further insight — no doubt than the triflers like myself. But they get entrapped in grammatical and psychological questions. It's a grand fairy land. Homer is the easiest — and yet you will find that no one knows the exact meaning of any word in Homer — e.g., Here's a word that means either "very early in the morning" or else "raise high in air." So all the words — and most picturesque they are — describing effects of light or sound mean — darkly gleaming, or brightly blazing, a flame or a spark — or O hang it — something about fire and brightness — plain enough. They are only explained by each other — and occur nowhere else than in Homer, so you must read the whole Iliad for a hint on any one of them. So of the word expressing irritation, wrath, rage, annoyance. It's perfectly plain that some fellow is displeased — but just to what extent nobody knows. That's the charm of Homer. The classic Greeks didn't understand exactly and often made up sham Homeric words to suit the text (as they thought). But I get more out of him every time I read — the fluency and enormousness being the main point and in the later cantos the tragic glory. I don't want to let go of it, and whenever there's a lull in my occupations or I feel désoeuvré, I plunge for a week or a day....
Psalms 2.1 (KJV):
Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
William Shakespeare, As You Like It 2.7.157-158:
The sixth age shifts / Into the lean and slippered pantaloon...
Greek ἠέριος = with early morn, or high in air.


This Dear, Dear Land

William Shakespeare, Richard II, Act II, Scene 1, lines 57-60:
This land of such dear souls, this dear, dear land,
Dear for her reputation through the world,
Is now leased out — I die pronouncing it —
Like to a tenement or pelting farm.
pelting = paltry, petty


The Buzzard and the Hawk

A fable by John of Schepey, in Ben Edwin Perry, Babrius and Phaedrus (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1965), pp. 562-563 (Appendix, number 644):
A buzzard put one of her eggs in a hawk's nest, and the hawk hatched it and nursed the buzzard chick along with her own brood. The hawk's nestlings cast their excrements outside the nest, but the buzzard's chick befouled it. On seeing this, the hawk asked, "Which one of you is it that befouls the nest like this?" And they all answered, "Not I." Finally, after further investigation, the hawk's young ones found it necessary, in self defence, to reveal the truth, and they said, pointing to the young buzzard, "It's that one with the big head." On learning this, the hawk in great indignation seized the young buzzard by the head and threw him out of the nest, saying, " I managed to bring you up from the egg, but I couldn't get you beyond your nature." For, as Horace says, Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret.—TMI Q432.1.
TMI = Stith Thompson, Motif-Index of Folk-Literature.

I don't have access to Perry's Aesopica, but I found the original in Léopold Hervieux, Les fabulistes latins, IV: Études de Cheriton et ses dérivés (Paris: Didot, 1896), pp. 437-438:
Busardus proiecit in nidum Accipitris ouum suum. Accipiter autem, credens ouum suum esse, cubauit super illud una cum ouis suis, et creatus (est) inde pullus quem nutriuit Accipiter tanquam suum. Pulli vero Accipitris proiecerunt fimum suum extra nidum; pullus maculauit nidum. Quod aduertens, Accipiter ait: Quis vestrum est qui sic maculat nidum suum? Et omnes dixerunt: Non ego, domine. Tandem facta pleniori inquisicione, oportebat eos pro sui liberacione prodere veritatem, et dixerunt: Domine, iste est cum magno capite, ostenso filio Busardi. Quem Accipiter, cum magna indignacione, per capud arripiens, proiecit extra nidum, dicens: De ouo te produxi; extra naturam non potui.

Quia, vt dicit Oratius (1):
Naturam expellas furta (sic); tamen vsque recurret.
(1) Ép., I, x, 24.
De nobis fabula.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021


Gone to Pot

John Jay Chapman, letter to Robert and Nora Nichols (December 23, 1925), in "A Sampling of Letters and Obiter Dicta," Arion 2.2/3 (Spring, 1992 - Fall, 1993) 33-65 (at 43):
It looks on all the surfaces as if the intellect of this country had gone to pot through the operation of the natural laws of wealth and prosperity — (and one sees no end or limit to them). I read Horace all the time and see much likeness between the luxury, riot, and folly that went on in the proconsular era, and our own epoch, but nothing of the blaze of intellect that accompanied the breakdown of the old Roman institutions and left behind it a shelf of books.
Hat tip: Isaac Waisberg.



Jean-Benoît Nadeau and Julie Barlow, The Story of French (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2006), pp. 65-66:
Malherbe was quite possibly the biggest and most brazen language snob the world has ever seen. Biographers describe him as a fretful fault-finder who spent his life attacking, both verbally and in writing, every mistake—or what he regarded as mistakes—he could find and anyone who made one. He wanted to banish the word vent (wind) because it was a synonym for fart, and pouls (pulse) because it sounded like pou (louse). He feared no one, and even reproached King Henri's son, the future Louis XIII, for signing his name as "Loys" rather than "Louys," an inconsistency that many courtiers would not have dared point out had they noticed it. Malherbe hated regionalisms to the point that, when asked whether the best word for "spent" was dépensé or dépendu, he replied that the former was more French, because pendu (which also means "hanged") sounded like Gascon, a dialect of southern France. Malherbe once refused to be treated by a certain Doctor Guénebeau because "his name sounded like a dog's name." On his deathbed he was still correcting the language of the woman who was looking after him.
Id., p. 81:
Although the French Academy is almost always presented as Richelieu's brainchild, Conrart and his friends actually drafted its charter on their own. True to the spirit of Malherbe, they defined its purpose as "nettoyer la langue des ordures qu'elle avait contractées, ou dans la bouche du peuple, ou dans la foule du palais et dans les impuretés de la chicane, ou par le mauvais usage des courtisans" ("to clean the language of all the filth it has caught, either from the mouth of the people or in the crowd of the court and tribunal or in the bad speech of ignorant courtiers").

Monday, November 29, 2021


Sympathy for the Dead

Adam Smith (1723-1790), The Theory of Moral Sentiments, ed. Knud Haakonssen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), p. 16:
We sympathize even with the dead, and overlooking what is of real importance in their situation, that awful futurity which awaits them, we are chiefly affected by those circumstances which strike our senses, but can have no influence upon their happiness. It is miserable, we think, to be deprived of the light of the sun; to be shut out from life and conversation; to be laid in the cold grave, a prey to corruption and the reptiles of the earth; to be no more thought of in this world, but to be obliterated, in a little time, from the affections, and almost from the memory, of their dearest friends and relations. Surely, we imagine, we can never feel too much for those who have suffered so dreadful a calamity. The tribute of our fellow-feeling seems doubly due to them now, when they are in danger of being forgot by every body; and, by the vain honours which we pay to their memory, we endeavour, for our own misery, artificially to keep alive our melancholy remembrance of their misfortune. That our sympathy can afford them no consolation seems to be an addition to their calamity; and to think that all we can do is unavailing, and that, what alleviates all other distress, the regret, the love, and the lamentations of their friends, can yield no comfort to them, serves only to exasperate our sense of their misery.



Cicero, In Defence of Cluentius 14.41 (tr. H. Grose Hodge):
No one thought that it was decent to call upon him, to meet him in society, to converse with him, or to ask him to dinner. Everyone shrank from him, everyone loathed him, everyone avoided him as a savage and dangerous brute, a very scourge.

nemo illum aditu, nemo congressione, nemo sermone, nemo convivio dignum iudicabat; omnes aspernabantur, omnes abhorrebant, omnes ut aliquam immanem ac perniciosam bestiam pestemque fugiebant.

Sunday, November 28, 2021



Robert A. Kaster, The Appian Way: Ghost Road, Queen of Roads (2012; rpt. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014), pp. 37-38:
The first Licinius to be called Crassus was evidently chubby, for that is what crassus means: like so many of the nicknames that the Romans liked to hang on each other—and keep!—it picks out an unflattering physical trait.
Related posts:


Vowel Man

Hans Dieter Betz, ed., The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986), p. 18 (III.170-174):


The Ultimate in False Values

Bryan Magee (1930-2019), The Tristan Chord: Wagner and Philosophy (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2000), p. 357:
No one who experiences Wagner's art as some of the very greatest that there is could possibly choose to dissociate himself from it on the ground that its creator was a social bigot. Only someone to whom the art itself did not mean all that much could react in such a way — the sort of people who deny Rudyard Kipling's genius because he was an old-fashioned imperialist, or who deny the transcendent quality of Evelyn Waugh's prose because he was a snob, or who refuse to attend superb performances of great operas in places like Salzburg and Glyndebourne because they have strong feelings of class prejudice against other members of the audience. Such people often congratulate themselves on their social awareness, but their attitude represents the ultimate in false values.



Homer, Iliad 18.115-116 = 22.365-366 (tr. Richmond Lattimore):
Then I will accept my own death, at whatever
time Zeus wishes to bring it about, and the other immortals.

         κῆρα δ᾽ ἐγὼ τότε δέξομαι ὁππότε κεν δὴ
Ζεὺς ἐθέλῃ τελέσαι ἠδ᾽ ἀθάνατοι θεοὶ ἄλλοι.

Saturday, November 27, 2021


Mountebanks, Quacksalvers, Empiricks

Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy, Part. 2, Sect. 1, Memb. IV, Subsect. I:
It is not therefore to be doubted, that if we seek a physician as we ought, we may be eased of our infirmities — such a one, I mean, as is sufficient, and worthily so called; for there be many mountebanks, quacksalvers, empiricks, in every street almost, and in every village, that take upon them this name, make this noble and profitable art to be evil spoken of and contemned, by reason of these base and illiterate artificers: but such a physician I speak of, as is approved, learned, skilful, honest...


A Bad Mind and a Bad Death

Sarah Veale, "Defixiones and the Temple Locus: The Power of Place in the Curse Tablets at Mainz," Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft 12.3 (Winter 2017) 279-313 (at 288, translation of Defixionum Tabellae Mogontiacenses #5):
Blessed and good lord Attis, be present, come angrily to Liberalus. I ask you through all things, lord, by your [gods] Castor and Pollux, by the innermost boxes, that you give him a bad mind and a bad death. As long as his life may exist, may he see himself die in his entire body before his eyes. // Let him not be able to redeem himself with any money, nor any deed, nor by you, nor by another god unless he dies badly. Do this, I ask you by your power.
Liberalus in Veale's translation is a mistake for Liberalis. Thanks to Kenneth Haynes for pointing this out.

Cf. the translation by Stuart McKie in his PhD thesis The Social Significance of Curse Tablets in the North-Western Provinces of the Roman Empire (The Open University, 2017), p. 554:
Good holy Att(h)is, Lord, help (me), come to Liberalis in anger. I ask you by everything, Lord, by your Castor (and) Pollux, by the boxes of the sanctuary, give him a bad mind, a bad death, so long as he lives, so he may see himself dying all over his body, except the eyes // and that he cannot redeem himself with money or anything else, neither from you nor from some other god, except with a bad death. Grant this, I ask you by your majesty.
The Latin (Veale, p. 310, simplified by the omission of line breaks and numbers):
Bone sancte Atthis Tyranne, adsi(s), aduenias Liberali iratus. Per omnia te rogo, domine, per tuum Castorem, Pollucem, per cistas penetrales, des ei malam mentem, malum exitum, quandius uita uixerit, ut omni corpore uideat se emori praeter oculos // neque se possit redimere nulla pe{r}cunia nullaque re neq(ue) abs te neque ab ullo deo nisi ut exitum malum. Hoc praesta, rogo te per maiestatem tuam.
quandius = quamdiu.

On this curse tablet see Jürgen Blänsdorf, "The Defixiones from the Sanctuary of Isis and Magna Mater in Mainz," in Richard L. Gordon and Francisco Marco Simón, edd., Magical Practice in the Latin West: Papers from the International Conference held at the University of Zaragoza, 30 Sept.-1 Oct. 2005 (Leiden: Brill, 2010), pp. 141–189 (at 147-150, 166-168).



Rancid Oil

Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human II and Unpublished Fragments from the Period of Human, All Too Human II (Spring 1878-Fall 1879), tr. Gary Handwerk (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2013), p. 397 (Notebook 41[32], July 1879):
The comforting remedies of Christianity will soon be an antiquity; an oil that has begun to stink. Then the comforting remedies of classical philosophy step forth once again, newly shining — and our new kind of comforting remedies is added, the historical kind.
Friedrich Nietzsche, Nachgelassene Fragmente 1875-1879, edd. Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari (Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1988 = Kritische Studienausgabe, Bd. 8), p. 588:
Die Trostmittel des Christenthums sind bald eine Antiquität; ein Oel, das sich verrochen hat. Dann treten die Trostmittel der antiken Philosophie wieder hervor, in neuem Glanze — und unsere neue Trostmittelgattung kommt hinzu, die historische.


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