Tuesday, January 31, 2006
In his article 'Theory and Practice in the Vergilian Cento' (ICS 9, pp. 79-90), David F. Bright points out (p. 83 and n. 20) that, when the prologue is subtracted, Proba's cento (in which Vergil is Christianized) has exactly 666 lines.666 is the number of the beast in Revelation 13:18.
Here are a couple more examples of the same sort of thing:
- Richard J. Clifford, Proverbs: A Commentary (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996), p. 108, points out that Proverbs 10:1 - 22:16 bears the title The Proverbs of Solomon. The numerical values of the Hebrew consonants in the name Solomon add up to 375, and 375 is also the number of two-line verses in this section of Proverbs.
- Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum 8.212-213 is a two-part Latin verse epitaph from a mausoleum in Kasserine, Tunisia, dated at the middle of the 2nd century A.D. The number of lines in the two parts combined is 110. The deceased, Titus Flavius Secundus, lived 110 years, according to the accompanying prose inscription (CIL 8.211): "uix(it) an. cx". This was apparently first noticed by F. Bücheler. A recent commentator, E. Courtney, in Musa Lapidaria: A Selection of Latin Verse Inscriptions (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1995), p. 400, says that the coincidence "is hardly accidental."
Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges (aka Gypsy Scholar) writes in an email:
You'll be interested to know that in Paradise Lost, Book 5, Satan (though his name was different then) reacts to the heavenly enthronement of the Son with:
"Deep malice then conceiving and disdain"
This is the first true evil to emerge among God's creatures, and it occurs in line 666.
Mere coincidence? Not likely.
How Dulce to Vive Occult
In candent ire the solar splendor flames;
The foles, languescent, pend from arid rames;
His humid front the cive, anheling, wipes,
And dreams of erring on ventiferous ripes.
How dulce to vive occult to mortal eyes,
Dorm on the herb with none to supervise,
Carp the suave berries from the crescent vine,
And bibe the flow from longicaudate kine.
To me also, no verdurous visions come
Save you exiguous pool's conferva-scum,--
No concave vast repeats the tender hue
That laves my milk-jug with celestial blue.
Me wretched! Let me curr to quercine shades!
Effund your albid hausts, lactiferous maids!
Oh, might I vole to some umbrageous clump,--
Monday, January 30, 2006
8 to 5
For a man to be the whole of his life hopelessly engaged in performing one repulsive and never-ending task, is an arrangement fit enough for the hell imagined by theologians, but scarcely fit for any other form of society.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Starting Off On the Right Foot
The steps in front must be arranged so that there shall always be an odd number of them; for thus the right foot, with which one mounts the first step, will also be the first to reach the level of the temple itself.Petronius, Satyricon 30 (tr. W. C. Firebaugh):
Gradus in fronte constituendi ita sunt, uti sint semper inpares; namque cum dextro pede primus gradus ascendatur, item in summo templo primus erit ponendus.
We had had enough of these novelties and started to enter the dining-room when a slave, detailed to this duty, cried out, "Right foot first." Naturally, we were afraid that some of us might break some rule of conduct and cross the threshold the wrong way; nevertheless, we started out, stepping off together with the right foot, when all of a sudden, a slave who had been stripped, threw himself at our feet, and commenced begging us to save him from punishment, as it was no serious offense for which he was in jeopardy; the steward's clothing had been stolen from him in the baths, and the whole value could scarcely amount to ten sesterces. So we drew back our right feet and intervened with the steward, who was counting gold pieces in the hall, begging him to remit the slave's punishment.
His repleti voluptatibus cum conaremur in triclinium intrare, exclamavit unus ex pueris, qui super hoc officium erat positus: "Dextro pede!" Sine dubio paulisper trepidavimus, ne contra praeceptum aliquis nostrum limen transiret. Ceterum ut pariter movimus dextros gressus, servus nobis despoliatus procubuit ad pedes ac rogare coepit, ut se poenae eriperemus: nec magnum esse peccatum suum, propter quod periclitaretur; subducta enim sibi vestimenta dispensatoris in balneo, quae vix fuissent decem sestertiorum. Retulimus ergo dextros pedes, dispensatoremque in atrio aureos numerantem deprecati sumus ut servo remitteret poenam.
Different from them are all the great critics. They have taught us one essential rule. I think the excellent and philosophic artist, a true judge, as well as a perfect follower of Nature, Sir Joshua Reynolds, has somewhere applied it, or something like it, in his own profession. It is this: that, if ever we should find ourselves disposed not to admire those writers or artists (Livy and Virgil, for instance, Raphael or Michael Angelo) whom all the learned had admired, not to follow our own fancies, but to study them, until we know how and what we ought to admire; and if we cannot arrive at this combination of admiration with knowledge, rather to believe that we are dull than that the rest of the world has been imposed on.
Saturday, January 28, 2006
The Lion's Share
It is a partnership with a lion when all the profit goes to one person and the others are cheated out of their shares by force. The phrase occurs in the Pandects, in which Aristo (according to Ulpian) reports that Cassius gave his legal opinion that a partnership could not be entered into such that one partner got only profit, and the other partner only loss, and he used to call such a partnership "with a lion". But it is clear that Cassius' expression, surely a proverbial one, originated in a fable of Aesop the Greek, which goes something like this.On Aristo, Ulpian, and Cassius see Justinian, Digest 188.8.131.52. The fable of Aesop is 260 in Halm's numbering. For other versions of this fable (including Babrius 67 and Phaedrus 1.5) see here.
A lion, an ass, and a fox entered into a partnership whereby they would share in common whatever they caught by hunting. When they got their prey, the lion ordered the ass to divide it. Stupid as he was, the ass divided it into three equal parts. Wherefore at once the lion, outraged that he was made equal with the others, attacked the ass and tore him to pieces. The fox was left; the lion ordered her to make the division anew; she gave almost all of the prey to the lion, keeping for herself only a few meager scraps. The lion approved the division and asked the fox who had taught her the art of dividing. The fox answered, "The fate of the ass."
Leonina societas est, cum omne commodum ad unum aliquem redit, reliquis vi fraudatis. Exstat in Pandectis, in quibus ex Ulpiano refert Aristo, Cassium respondisse, societatem talem coiri non posse, ut alter lucrum tantum, alter damnum sentiret, et hanc societatem leoninam solitum appellare. Ceterum Cassianam appellationem, haud dubium proverbialem, ex Aesopi Graeci apologo natam apparet, qui talis circumfertur.
Leo, asinus, et vulpes societatem inierant, ut quod venatu cepissent, id in commune partirentur. Praedam ubi erant nacti, leo iubet, ut asinus partiatur. Ille, ut est stolidus, in tres aequas portiones distribuit. Qua gratia mox indignatus leo, quod ceteris aequaretur, asinum adortus dilaniat. Restabat vulpes, eam de integro partiri iubet, illa totam ferme praedam leoni attribuit, sibi vix paucula quaedam servans. Leo, comprobata distributione, rogat, quisnam illam artem partiendi docuisset. Et vulpes, Calamitas, inquit, asini.
A Walk in Winter
There is nothing so sanative, so poetic, as a walk in the woods and fields even now, when I meet none abroad for pleasure. Nothing so inspires me and excites such serene and profitable thought. The objects are elevating. In the street and in society I am almost invariably cheap and dissipated, my life is unspeakably mean. No amount of gold or respectability would in the least redeem it, -- dining with the Governor or a member of Congress!! But alone in distant woods or fields, in unpretending sprout-lands or pastures tracked by rabbits, even in a bleak and, to most, cheerless day, like this, when a villager would be thinking of his inn, I come to myself, I once more feel myself grandly related, and that cold and solitude are friends of mine. I suppose that this value, in my case, is equivalent to what others get by churchgoing and prayer. I come to my solitary woodland walk as the homesick go home. I thus dispose of the superfluous and see things as they are, grand and beautiful.
Friday, January 27, 2006
I know that Thomas Jefferson, who first read Plato's Republic in Greek at the age of seventy-one and found it overrated, believed that the independent farmer was a foundation stone of American democracy. But, knowing that the words for liberty and library come from the same Latin root, he also believed that the farmer had to be well read for democracy to work.I can't verify the claim that Jefferson first read Plato's Republic at age 71, although I find it stated several places on the World Wide Web. I checked the indices to all of the volumes of Dumas Malone's biography of Jefferson, and the name Plato does not appear.
But there seems to be no etymological connection between the Latin adjective līber (free) and the Latin noun lĭber (book). See the Online Etymological Dictionary's entries on liberal and library:
c.1375, from O.Fr. liberal "befitting free men, noble, generous," from L. liberalis "noble, generous," lit. "pertaining to a free man," from liber "free," from PIE base *leudheros (cf. Gk. eleutheros "free"), probably originally "belonging to the people" (though the precise semantic development is obscure), from *leudho- "people" (cf. O.C.S. ljudu, Lith. liaudis, O.E. leod, Ger. Leute "nation, people").
c.1374, from Anglo-Fr. librarie, from O.Fr. librairie "collection of books," noun use of adj. librarius "concerning books," from L. librarium "chest for books," from liber (gen. libri) "book, paper, parchment," originally "the inner bark of trees," probably a derivative of PIE base *leub(h)- "to strip, to peel" (see leaf). The equivalent word in most Romance languages now means "bookseller's shop."
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Section 505(a) of title 10, United States Code, is amended by striking 'thirty-five years of age' and inserting 'forty-two years of age'.In World War I, as in other wars, those under and over the age limits tried to enlist, with more or less success. Among these patriots were the brothers Fowler, Frank and Henry, known in literary circles for their translation of Lucian and for The King's English. Ernest Gowers, in the introduction to the second edition of Henry Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage, tells the story:
When war broke out Henry was 56. He emerged from retirement to take part in the recruiting campaign. But he found himself more and more troubled by the thought that he was urging others to run risks which he would himself be spared. So he enlisted as a private in the 'Sportsmen's Battalion', giving his age as 44. His brother, aged 45, enlisted with him. Their experiences are fully told in letters from Henry to his wife, now in the library of St. John's College, Cambridge. It is a sorry story, summarized in a petition sent by the brothers to their commanding officer in France in February 1916.Another English man of letters, Hector Hugh Munro, who wrote under the pseudonym Saki, was also over the official age limit when war broke out, but he was not frustrated in his attempt to fight for his country, despite illness and injuries. He died near Beaumont-Hamel in France on November 14, 1916, killed by a German sniper in the early morning darkness. It is said that his last words were, "Put that bloody cigarette out."[Your petitioners] enlisted in April 1915 at great inconvenience and with pecuniary loss in the belief that soldiers were needed for active service, being officially encouraged to mis-state their ages as a patriotic act. After nine months' training they were sent to the front, but almost immediately sent back to the base not as having proved unfit for the work, but merely as being over age -- and this though their real ages had long been known to the authorities. . . . They are now held at the base at Étaples, performing only such menial or unmilitary duties as dish-washing, coal-heaving and porterage, for which they are unfitted by habits and age. They suggest that such conversion of persons who undertook purely from patriotic motives the duties of soldiers on active service into unwilling menials or servants is an incredibly ungenerous policy. . . .This petition secured Fowler's return to the trenches, but not for long. Three weeks later he fainted on parade, and relegation to the base could not be resisted. This seemed the end. 'By dinner time', he wrote to his wife shortly afterwards, 'I was making up my mind to go sick and ask to be transferred to a lunatic asylum.' This drastic measure proved unnecessary, for in a few days he was to go sick in earnest. He was sent back to England, and after some weeks in hospital was discharged from the Army, having spent eighteen dreary months in a constantly frustrated attempt to fight for his country.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
- The Bitter Withy
- "Bitter Withy" Revisited
- Edgar Lee Tyler on "Bitter Withy"
- Building a Bridge with Beams of the Sun
See also, K. v. Tischendorf, Evangelia Apocrypha (Hildesheim, Georg Olms, 1966; photoreproduction of the 1876 edition) p. 106, note 1 (In Tischendorf's edition of Pseudo-Matthew): Sequitur hoc loco in codice B narratiuncula quae abesta cdd. A et B. Est autem haec: Et cum Iesus cum aliis infantulis super radios solus (? solarii ? Scriptum est sol') ubique plures ascenderet et sederet, multique simili modo facere coeperunt, praecipitabantur, et eorum crura frangebantur et brachia. Sed dominus Iesus sanabat omnes. (Once, Jesus sat and rode up on a sunbeam many times, while he was with other children. Many of them wished to do the same thing and they fell; they broke legs and arms. But the Lord Jesus healed all of them--Cartlidge.)Two easy corrections to the Latin:
- For abesta cdd. A et B read abest a cdd. A et B. The abbreviation cdd. stands for codicibus. Still, the sentence makes no sense -- "At this spot in manuscript B there follows a little story that is missing from manuscripts A and B." Is the story in manuscript B or not? Perhaps the second B should be C or some other siglum.
- For super radios solus read super radios solis.
Political Correctness in Hell
'Have you a Parliament in Hell?' asked Bidderdale in some surprise.Lest you laugh this off as mere satire, consider the following law, enacted by the legislature and signed by the governor of Minnesota a few years ago:
'Only quite recently. Of course we've always had chaos, but not under Parliamentary rules. Now, however, that Parliaments are becoming the fashion, in Turkey and Persia, and I suppose before long in Afghanistan and China, it seemed rather ostentatious to stand outside the movement. That young Fiend just going by is the Member for East Brimstone; he'll be delighted to show you over the institution.'
'You will just be in time to hear the opening of a debate,' said the Member, as he led Bidderdale through a spacious outer lobby, decorated with frescoes representing the fall of man, the discovery of gold, the invention of playing cards, and other traditionally appropriate subjects. 'The Member for Nether Furnace is proposing a motion "that this House do arrogantly protest to the legislatures of earthly countries against the wrongful and injurious misuse of the word 'fiendish,' in application to purely human misdemeanours, a misuse tending to create a false and detrimental impression concerning the Infernal Regions."'
A feature of the Parliament Chamber itself was its enormous size. The space allotted to Members was small and very sparsely occupied, but the public galleries stretched away tier on tier as far as the eye could reach, and were packed to their utmost capacity.
'There seems to be a very great public interest in the debate,' exclaimed Bidderdale.
'Members are excused from attending the debates if they so desire,' the Fiend proceeded to explain; 'it is one of their most highly valued privileges. On the other hand, constituents are compelled to listen throughout to all the speeches. After all, you must remember, we are in Hell.'
Bidderdale repressed a shudder and turned his attention to the debate.
'Nothing,' the Fiend-Orator was observing, 'is more deplorable among the cultured races of the present day than the tendency to identify fiendhood, in the most sweeping fashion, with all manner of disreputable excesses, excesses which can only be alleged against us on the merest legendary evidence. Vices which are exclusively or predominatingly human are unblushingly described as inhuman, and, what is even more contemptible and ungenerous, as fiendish. If one investigates such statements as "inhuman treatment of pit ponies" or "fiendish cruelties in the Congo," so frequently to be heard in our brother Parliaments on earth, one finds accumulative and indisputable evidence that it is the human treatment of pit ponies and Congo natives that is really in question, and that no authenticated case of fiendish agency in these atrocities can be substantiated. It is, perhaps, a minor matter for complaint,' continued the orator, 'that the human race frequently pays us the doubtful compliment of describing as "devilish funny" jokes which are neither funny nor devilish.'
The commissioner of natural resources shall change each name of a geographic feature in the state that contains the word "squaw" to another name that does not contain this word. The commissioner shall select the new names in cooperation with the county boards of the counties in which the feature is located and with their approval.Officials of Lake County, on the Canadian border, had a sensible response. They offered to rename Squaw Creek and Squaw Lake as Politically Correct Creek and Politically Correct Lake.
Besides the political correctness angle, note the other prophetic touches in this story by Saki:
- The attempt to introduce democracy to Afghan tribesmen.
- The absence of Congressmen from congressional debates. Today they're off on golfing junkets paid for by Jack Abramoff and his ilk.
- The public preoccupation with congressional debates. Modern political junkies can watch the spell-binding oratory of Joe Biden, Chuck Grassley, et al. on C-SPAN.
- The persistence of fiendish cruelties in the Congo, now the "Democratic" Republic of the Congo.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Suspirius the Screech-Owl
It is common to distinguish men by the names of animals which they are supposed to resemble. Thus a hero is frequently termed a lion, and a statesman a fox, an extortioner gains the appellation of vultur, and a fop the title of monkey. There is also among the various anomalies of character, which a survey of the world exhibits, a species of beings in human form, which may be properly marked out as the screech-owls of mankind.The name of the particular screech-owl described by Johnson in this essay is Suspirius, i.e. the one who sighs.
These screech-owls seem to be settled in an opinion that the great business of life is to complain, and that they were born for no other purpose than to disturb the happiness of others, to lessen the little comforts, and shorten the short pleasures of our condition, by painful remembrances of the past, or melancholy prognosticks of the future; their only care is to crush the rising hope, to damp the kindling transport, and allay the golden hours of gaiety with the hateful dross of grief and suspicion.
Whenever my evil stars bring us together, he never fails to represent to me the folly of my pursuits, and informs me that we are much older than when we began our acquaintance, that the infirmities of decrepitude are coming fast upon me, that whatever I now get I shall enjoy but a little time, that fame is to a man tottering on the edge of the grave of very little importance, and that the time is at hand when I ought to look for no other pleasures than a good dinner and an easy chair."Suspirius the Screech-Owl" would be a good name for a web log.
How can society be protected from the screech-owls? Johnson makes this recommendation:
It is reported of the Sybarites, that they destroyed all their cocks, that they might dream out their morning dreams without disturbance. Though I would not so far promote effeminacy as to propose the Sybarites for an example, yet since there is no man so corrupt or foolish, but something useful may be learned from him, I could wish that, in imitation of a people not often to be copied, some regulations might be made to exclude screech-owls from all company, as the enemies of mankind, and confine them to some proper receptacle, where they may mingle sighs at leisure, and thicken the gloom of one another.The proper receptacle of pessimists in cyberspace might be a screech-owl web ring, where sourpuss bloggers may mingle sighs at leisure, and thicken the gloom of one another.
Monday, January 23, 2006
My Favorite Movies
I am a bit puzzled, though, by the apparent clash between your Favorite Movies and your Favorite Books. Perhaps you might write about that (if you haven't already) in a future post.The movies are just pure escapism. Anyone stuck in a boring job behind a desk or on an assembly line can sympathize with the Turkish soldier quoted by Colin Thubron, Journey into Cyprus (New York: The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1976), p. 242:
"I was four years in England," he said, "in a canning factory at Newton Abbot, twisting a knob day after day -- twist, twist, twist. In the end I got fed up and came back home. What sort of life is that for a man -- twist, twist, twist?"What sort of life is it for a man, sitting in front of a computer, tapping away at the keys day after day -- tap, tap, tap?
After forty hours of that, who isn't ready for some escapist entertainment on the weekend? So it happened that I watched Steven Seagal's Under Siege for the umpteenth time with undiminished enjoyment last Sunday afternoon -- after a trip to the library. Ancient literature is also another way to escape from the dullness of modern life.
Does the violence in these movies bother me? Not a bit. I agree with these sage words from that compendium of good sense, Tom Brown's Schooldays by Thomas Hughes (part II, chapter V):
After all, what would life be without fighting, I should like to know? From the cradle to the grave, fighting, rightly understood, is the business, the real highest, honestest business of every son of man. Every one who is worth his salt has his enemies, who must be beaten, be they evil thoughts and habits in himself, or spiritual wickednesses in high places, or Russians, or Border-ruffians, or Bill, Tom, or Harry, who will not let him live his life in quiet till he has thrashed them.
An Old Trick
A cough for a fart: Accustomed to be said whenever someone in a sticky situation pretends that one thing is another. As if someone caught in the house of an adulteress were to pretend that he came there to buy or sell something. A metaphor from those who conceal a fart with a loud cough -- people of this type even now are often caught in the act, with much laughter.
Βὴξ ἀντὶ πορδῆς, tussis pro crepitu. Dici solitum, quoties aliquis perplexus, aliud pro alio simulat. Veluti, si quis, in adulterae domo deprehensus, fingeret se quippiam mercatum venisse. Translatum ab iis, qui crepitum clara tussi dissimulant, quod genus homines etiam hoc tempore non raro magno cum risu deprehenduntur.
Pleasures of Pedantry
Add to this that other pleasure of theirs, that if any of them happen to find out who was Anchises' mother, or pick out of some wormeaten manuscript a word not commonly known - as suppose it bubsequa for a cowherd, bovinator for a wrangler, manticulator for a cutpurse - or dig up the ruins of some ancient monument with the letters half eaten out; O Jupiter! what towerings! what triumphs! what commendations! as if they had conquered Africa or taken in Babylon.
et hoc voluptatis genus, quoties istorum aliquis Anchisae matrem, aut voculam vulgo incognitam, in putri quapiam charta deprehenderit, puta bubsequam, bovinatorem aut manticulatorem, aut si quis vetusti saxi fragmentum, mutilis notatum litteris, alicubi effoderit: O Iupiter, quae tum exsultatio, qui triumphi, quae encomia, perinde quasi vel Africam devicerint, vel Babylonas ceperint.
According to Apollodorus 3.1.12 (tr. J.G. Frazer), Themiste was Anchises' mother:
Assaracus had by his wife Hieromneme, daughter of Simoeis, a son Capys; and Capys had by his wife Themiste, daughter of Ilus, a son Anchises, whom Aphrodite met in love's dalliance, and to whom she bore Aeneas and Lyrus, who died childless.But Dionysius of Halicarnassus 1.62.2 (tr. E. Cary) gives a slightly different genealogy, making Hieromneme the mother of Anchises:
Of Erichthonius and Callirrhoê, the daughter of Scamander, was born Tros, from whom the nation has received its name; of Tros and Acallaris, the daughter of Eumedes, Assaracus; of Assaracus and Clytodora, the daughter of Laomedon, Capys; of Capys and a Naiad nymph, Hieromnemê, Anchises; of Anchises and Aphroditê, Aeneas.According to Juvenal (7.229-236, tr. Paul Monroe), it was the identity of Anchises' nurse, not his mother, that was a mystery:
But do you, parents, impose severe exactions on him that is to teach your boys; that he be perfect in the rules of grammar for each word -- read all histories -- know all authors as well as his own finger-ends; that if questioned at hazard, while on his way to the Thermae or the baths of Phoebus, he should be able to tell the name of Anchises' nurse, and the name and native land of the stepmother of Anchemolus -- tell off-hand how many years Acestes lived -- how many flagons of wine the Sicilian king gave to the Phrygians.Tiberius was fond of questions like this, according to Suetonius (Life of Tiberius 70.3, tr. J.C. Rolfe):
sed vos saevas inponite leges,
ut praeceptori verborum regula constet,
ut legat historias, auctores noverit omnes
tamquam ungues digitosque suos, ut forte rogatus,
dum petit aut thermas aut Phoebi balnea, dicat
nutricem Anchisae, nomen patriamque novercae
Anchemoli, dicat quot Acestes vixerit annis,
quot Siculi Phrygibus vini donaverit urnas.
Yet his special aim was a knowledge of mythology, which he carried to a silly and laughable extreme; for he used to test even the grammarians, a class of men in whom, as I have said, he was especially interested, by questions something like this: "Who was Hecuba's mother?" "What was the name of Achilles among the maidens?" "What were the Sirens in the habit of singing?"
maxime tamen curavit notitiam historiae fabularis usque ad ineptias atque derisum; nam et grammaticos, quod genus hominum praecipue, ut diximus, appetebat, eius modi fere quaestionibus experiebatur: "quae mater Hecubae, quod Achilli nomen inter virgines fuisset, quid Sirenes cantare sint solitae."
Bubsequa (or busequa as it is usually spelled) occurs four times in Apuleius.
Metamorphoses 8.1 (tr. W. Adlington, rev. S. Gaselee):
O ye horsekeepers, shepherds, and cowherds, you shall understand that we have lost our good mistress Charite miserably and by evil adventure, but not alone did she go down to the ghosts.Apology 10.6 (tr. H.E. Butler):
equisones opilionesque, etiam busequae, fuit Charite nobis, fuit misella et quidem casu gravissimo, nec vero incomitata Manis adivit.
But Aemilianus, whose rusticity far surpasses that of the shepherds and cowherds of Vergil, who is, in fact, and always has been a boor and a barbarian, though he thinks himself far more austere than Serranus, Curius, o Fabricius, those heroes of the days of old, denies that such verses are worthy of a philosopher who is a follower of Plato.Florida 3 (tr. H.E. Butler):
sed Aemilianus, vir ultra Vergilianos opiliones et busequas rusticanus, agrestis quidem semper et barbarus, verum longe austerior, ut putat, Serranis et Curiis et Fabriciis, negat id genus versus Platonico philosopho competere.
Well, then, before Hyagnis the majority of musicians could do no more than the shepherds or cowherds of Vergil who "Made sorry strains on pipes of scrannel straw."On the God of Socrates 5 (tr. Thomas Taylor):
prorsus igitur ante Hyagnin nihil aliud plerique callebant quam Vergilianus opilio seu busequa, "stridenti miserum stipula disperdere carmen" [Verg. Ecl. 3.27].
What, therefore, shall I do (some orator may object) after this decision of yours, which is indeed celestial, but inhuman? If men are entirely removed far from the immortal Gods, and are so banished into these Tartarean realms of earth that all communication with the celestial Gods is denied to them, nor any one of the number of the celestials occasionally visits them, in the same manner as a shepherd visits his flocks of sheep, or an equerry his horses, or a herdsman his lowing cattle, in order that he may repress the more ferocious, heal the morbid, and assist those that are in want?See also Sidonius, Letters 1.6.3 (tr. W.B. Anderson):
quid igitur, orator, obiecerit aliqui, post istam caelestem quidem sed paene inhumanam tuam sententiam faciam, si omnino homines a diis inmortalibus procul repelluntur atque ita in haec terrae tartara relegantur, ut omnis sit illis adversus caelestes deos communio denegata nec quisquam eos e caelitum numero velut pastor vel equiso vel busequa ceu balantium vel hinnientium vel mugientium greges intervisat, qui ferocibus moderetur, morbidis medeatur, egenis opituletur?
And now, for shame if you are to be left behind amongst bumpkin cowherds and snorting swineherds! If you can hold a shaky plough-handle and cut up the field, or if, stooping over the curved sickle, you can prune the flowery wealth of the meadow, or if as a down-bent delver you can turn up with your hoe the vineyard laden with heavy growth, that, forsooth, is the supreme happiness to which you aspire!
et nunc, pro pudor, si relinquare inter busequas rusticanos subulcosque ronchantes. quippe si aut campum stiva tremente proscindas aut prati floreas opes panda curvus falce populeris aut vineam palmite gravem cernuus rastris fossor invertas, tunc tibi est summa votorum beatitudo.
On bovinator see Aulus Gellius 11.7.7-9 (tr. J.C. Rolfe):
Another Einfaltspinsel [ninny] also, after some little reading of that kind, when his opponent requested that a case be postponed, said: "I pray you, praetor, help me! aid me! How long, pray, shall this bovinator delay me?" And he bawled it out three or four times in a loud voice: "He is a bovinator." A murmur began to arise from many of those who were present, as if in wonder at this monster of a word. But he, waving his arms and gesticulating, cried: "What, haven't you read Lucilius, who calls a shuffler bovinator?" And, in fact, this verse occurs in Lucilius' eleventh book: "If trifling shuffler (bovinator) with abusive tongue."
alter quoque a lectionibus id genus paucis apirocalus, cum adversarius causam differri postularet: "rogo, praetor," inquit "subveni, succurre! quonam usque nos bovinator hic demoratur?" atque id voce magna ter quaterve inclamavit: "bovinator est". commurmuratio fieri coepta est a plerisque, qui aderant, quasi monstrum verbi admirantibus. at ille iactans et gestiens: "non enim Lucilium" inquit "legistis, qui tergiversatorem "bovinatorem" dicit?" est autem in Lucili XI. versus hic: "si tricosus bovinatorque ore improbus duro."
Manticulator occurs in a fragment of Pacuvius preserved by Festus (p. 100, 5, tr. E.H. Warmington):
'Manticulae,' little purses. The use of these by the poor for stowing coins in has continued even in our age. Whence 'manticulari' is a term which is applied to those who groped for purses with intent to steal. Hence poets have used this verb for doing anything on the sly. Pacuvius --
He cunningly approaches men to pick
Their purses; for he knows what fate he has earned ....
A beggar and a pick-purse; thus has pressed
The yoke of fate upon me.
'manticularum' usus pauperibus in nummis recondendis etiam nostro saeculo fuit; unde manticularii dicebantur qui furandi gratia manticulas attrectabant. inde poetae pro dolose quid agendo usi sunt eo verbo. Pacuvius --
ad manticulanum astu aggreditur; scit enim quid promeruit
... mendicus manticulator; ita me fati oppressit iugum.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
PHORMIO: A banquet full of doubts is placed before you--Horace, Satires 2.2.76-77 (tr. Christopher Smart) borrows the phrase:
GETA: What is the meaning of that expression?
PHORMIO: When you are in doubt which in especial to partake of.
PH. cena dubia apponitur. GE. quid istuc verbi est?
PH. ubi tu dubites quid sumas potissimum.
Do not you see, how pale each guest rises from a perplexing variety of dishes at an entertainment?The closest equivalent in English seems to be embarrassment of riches, itself from French embarras de richesses.
vides, ut pallidus omnis / cena desurgat dubia?
The Knight of the Cheerful Countenance
spem voltu simulat, premit altum corde dolorem.In John Dryden's translation this becomes:
His outward smiles concealed his inward smart.Dryden also echoes this line in Annus Mirabilis 73:
His face spake hope, while deep his sorrows flow.James Mountford, Latin Prose Composition (aka Bradley's Arnold), in the General Vocabulary, s.v. pretend, says:
Simulo = I pretend something exists which does not; dissimulo = I try to conceal something which does exist.Aeneas simulates hope (spes) and dissimulates sorrow (dolor). Those afflicted by melancholy wear the mask of Aeneas every day.
Degrees of Poverty
The beggar [πτωχός], whom you have depicted to us, never possesses anything. The poor man [πένης] lives thriftily and attentive to his work; he has not got too much, but he does not lack what he really needs.Compare Samuel Johnson in his review of Soame Jenyns' A Free Enquiry into the Nature and Origin of Evil:
πτωχοῦ μὲν γὰρ βίος, ὃν σὺ λέγεις, ζῆν ἐστιν μηδὲν ἔχοντα:
τοῦ δὲ πένητος ζῆν φειδόμενον καὶ τοῖς ἔργοις προς έχοντα,
περιγίγνεσθαι δ' αὐτῷ μηδέν, μὴ μέντοι μηδ' ἐπιλείπειν.
Poverty is very gently paraphrased by want of riches. In that sense, almost every man may, in his own opinion, be poor. But there is another poverty, which is want of competence of all that can soften the miseries of life, of all that can diversify attention, or delight imagination. There is yet another poverty, which is want of necessaries, a species of poverty which no care of the publick, no charity of particulars, can preserve many from feeling openly, and many secretly.Johnson's want of competence roughly corresponds to πένης, want of necessaries to πτωχός.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Literature for Grown-Ups
Solemn and majestic thoughts in solemn and majestic language: the emotions which a man relives in the silence of his own mind, over a greying fire at midnight, conveyed not as disjointed musings but as fully clothed, logically connected sentences: these are what Johnson offers. Our age, which prefers its writers to shriek, grunt and babble, will naturally turn away from such ordered writing. The loss is ours. 'We need art', writes a modern critic whose name I will not put down on the same page as Johnson's, 'that screams, roars, vomits, rages, goes mad, murders, rapes, commits every bloody and obscene act that it can to express only a shred of the human emotions that lie prisoner beneath the sanitary tiles here in adman's utopia.' There were emotions lying prisoner, if we want to put it that way, under the polished parquet of eighteenth-century rationality and courtesy. But its writers still managed to produce a literature intended for grown-up people.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Apples and Oranges
Apparently we fear some fungi even more than the toxins that we use to kill them. Fungal apple scab, for example, is one feared species, though it really does only minor damage. Scab costs Vermont apple growers alone one million dollars annually in chemical applications and "product loss." (Scabbed apples are "unsellable.") Yet, a little apple scab is harmless and tasteless. Given the choice, I'd purposely pick out apples with some black fungus scabs, because they could not more honestly be labeled "fungicide free," in the same way that a tiny tasteless moth caterpillar in the apple core says "insecticide free."Aldous Huxley, Beyond the Mexique Bay (1934), Trinidad:
The oranges that grow in these tropical islands are particularly juicy and aromatic; but they never appear on any European or North American market. As with so many of us, their faces are their misfortune; they have a complexion which nature has made, not orange, but bright green, irregularly marbled with yellow. Nobody, therefore, outside their countries of origin, will buy them. For fruit, strangely enough, is sold on the strength of its appearance, not of its taste. Every grower knows that his product must appeal first to the eye and only secondarily to the palate. Immense pains have been taken to embellish the skin, but how little does any one ever trouble to improve the flavour, of our dessert!E.B. White, Essays (1977), On a Florida Key:
The appeal of bright colours, symmetry and size is irresistible. The sawdust apple of the Middle West is wonderfully red and round; the Californian orange may have no flavour and a hide like a crocodile's -- but it is a golden lamp; and the roundness, redness and goldenness are what the buyer first perceives on entering the shop.
In the kitchen cabinet is a bag of oranges for morning juice. Each orange is stamped "Color Added." The dyeing of an orange, to make it orange, is man's most impudent gesture to date. It is really an appalling piece of effrontery, carrying the clear implication that Nature doesn't know what she is up to. I think an orange, dyed orange, is as repulsive as a pine cone painted green. I think it is about as ugly a thing as I have ever seen, and it seems hard to believe that here, within ten miles, probably, of the trees that bore the fruit, I can't buy an orange that somebody hasn't smeared with paint. But I doubt that there are many who feel that way about it, because fraudulence has become a national virtue and is well thought of in many circles. In the last twenty-four hours, I see by this morning's paper, 136 cars of oranges have been shipped. There are probably millions of children today who have never seen a natural orange -- only an artificially colored one. If they should see a natural orange they might think something had gone wrong with it.
I wish that on my grave might be put "the individual."Here is a photograph of Kierkegaard's tomb. It does not say "the individual," at least on the part visible in the photograph.
What do you want on your tombstone?
- Most Murderers Just Need to Get a Life
- A Prophetic and Violent Masterpiece
- The Empty Fanatic
- Dangerous History
- Less Liberté Means Less Egalité
Nietzsche No Philosopher?
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
He passed himself off as a British aristocrat sizing up Stillwater High School as a distinguished visitor and prospective student. Then he made the mistake of trying to peddle his tale to the staffers at the school's student newspaper, the Pony Express.I wonder if he got the idea from Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, chapter XIX:
It wasn't long before the budding journalists discovered the true identity of the alleged blue-blooded teenager who passed himself off as "Caspian James Crichton-Stuart IV, the Fifth Duke of Cleveland," hobnobber with the upper crust and 27th in line for the British throne.
His more prosaic title was Joshua Adam Gardner, convicted sex offender.
"No, I know you haven't. I ain't blaming you, gentlemen. I brought myself down--yes, I did it myself. It's right I should suffer--perfectly right--I don't make any moan."Compare this paragraph in the Star Tribune article:
"Brought you down from whar? Whar was you brought down from?"
"Ah, you would not believe me; the world never believes--let it pass--'tis no matter. The secret of my birth--"
"The secret of your birth! Do you mean to say--"
"Gentlemen," says the young man, very solemn, "I will reveal it to you, for I feel I may have confidence in you. By rights I am a duke!"
Jim's eyes bugged out when he heard that; and I reckon mine did, too. Then the baldhead says: "No! you can't mean it?"
"Yes. My great-grandfather, eldest son of the Duke of Bridgewater, fled to this country about the end of the last century, to breathe the pure air of freedom; married here, and died, leaving a son, his own father dying about the same time. The second son of the late duke seized the titles and estates--the infant real duke was ignored. I am the lineal descendant of that infant--I am the rightful Duke of Bridgewater; and here am I, forlorn, torn from my high estate, hunted of men, despised by the cold world, ragged, worn, heart-broken, and degraded to the companionship of felons on a raft!"
Jim pitied him ever so much, and so did I. We tried to comfort him, but he said it warn't much use, he couldn't be much comforted; said if we was a mind to acknowledge him, that would do him more good than most anything else; so we said we would, if he would tell us how. He said we ought to bow when we spoke to him, and say "Your Grace," or "My Lord," or "Your Lordship"--and he wouldn't mind it if we called him plain "Bridgewater," which, he said, was a title anyway, and not a name; and one of us ought to wait on him at dinner, and do any little thing for him he wanted done.
Well, that was all easy, so we done it. All through dinner Jim stood around and waited on him, and says, "Will yo' Grace have some o' dis or some o' dat?" and so on, and a body could see it was mighty pleasing to him.
In the meantime, he carried on his airs. "He was demanding that we call him 'Your Grace,'" said Chantal Leonhart, one of the paper's managing editors. "He even demanded that the principal call him 'Your Grace.'"
A Breach of Good Manners
Metrocles of Maroneia was the brother of Hipparchia. He had been formerly a pupil of Theophrastus the Peripatetic, and had been so far corrupted by weakness that, when he made a breach of good manners in the course of rehearsing a speech, it drove him to despair, and he shut himself up at home, intending to starve himself to death. On learning this Crates came to visit him as he had been asked to do, and after advisedly making a meal of lupins, he tried to persuade him by argument as well that he had committed no crime, for a prodigy would have happened if he had not taken the natural means of relieving himself. At last by reproducing the action he succeeded in lifting him from his dejection, using for his consolation the likeness of the occurrences. From that time forward Metrocles was his pupil, and became proficient in philosophy.Euphemisms in the translation obscure somewhat the point of this story. "When he made a breach of good manners" and "by reproducing the action" are both the same word in the original Greek, ἀποπαρδών, aorist participle of ἀποπέρδομαι, fart.
It might seem improbable that shame at this "breach of good manners" would lead Metrocles to the contemplation of suicide. But a similar embarrassment drove Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, into self-imposed exile, according to John Aubrey's Brief Lives:
This Earle of Oxford, making of his low obeisance to Queen Elizabeth, happened to let a Fart, at which he was so abashed and ashamed that he went to Travell, 7 yeares. On his return the Queen welcomed him home, and sayd, My Lord, I had forgott the Fart.The Roman emperor Claudius recognized that an excess of modesty concerning this natural bodily function was a danger to the health of his subjects. Suetonius, Life of Claudius 32 (tr. J.C. Rolfe), reports:
He is even said to have thought of an edict allowing the privilege of breaking wind quietly or noisily at table, having learned of a man who ran some risk by restraining himself through modesty.BigHominid exhibits an exuberant lack of modesty in this regard.
dicitur etiam meditatus edictum, quo veniam daret flatum crepitumque ventris in convivio emittendi, cum periclitatum quendam prae pudore ex continentia repperisset.
Monday, January 16, 2006
An Invented Language
Wain wonders (p. 121), "One would, though, rather like to know what happened to those Oxford missionaries when they first landed in Formosa and began talking to the natives in Psalmanazar's lingo."
This story reminds me a bit of the trick played on the missionary Father Biard by the Micmac Indians. Francis Parkman, Pioneers of France in the New World, part II (Champlain and His Associates), chap. VI (Jesuits in Acadia), tells the story:
Biard's greatest difficulty was with the Micmac language. Young Biencourt was his best interpreter, and on common occasions served him well; but the moment that religion was in question he was, as it were, stricken dumb, the reason being that the language was totally without abstract terms. Biard resolutely set himself to the study of it, a hard and thorny path, on which he made small progress, and often went astray. Seated, pencil in hand, before some Indian squatting on the floor, whom with the bribe of a mouldy biscuit he had lured into the hut, he plied him with questions which he often neither would nor could answer. What was the Indian word for Faith, Hope, Charity, Sacrament, Baptism, Eucharist, Trinity, Incarnation? The perplexed savage, willing to amuse himself, and impelled, as Biard thinks, by the Devil, gave him scurrilous and unseemly phrases as the equivalent of things holy, which, studiously incorporated into the father's Indian catechism, produced on his pupils an effect the reverse of that intended.See also Francis Parkman, The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century, chap. IV (Le Jeune and the Hunters):
At the outset, he had proffered his aid to Le Jeune in his study of the Algonquin; and, like the Indian practical jokers of Acadia in the case of Father Biard, palmed off upon him the foulest words in the language as the equivalent of things spiritual. Thus it happened, that, while the missionary sought to explain to the assembled wigwam some point of Christian doctrine, he was interrupted by peals of laughter from men, children, and squaws.
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Recipes for Happiness
One grand boulevard with treesA common way in ancient literature to express a recipe for happiness is by means of a macarism. A macarism (from Greek μακαρισμός) is just a fancy word for beatitude. It consists of an adjective meaning happy, a relative or indefinite pronoun, and whatever action or state is supposed to lead to happiness. Adjectives meaning happy include εὐδαίμων, μάκαρ, μακάριος, or ὄλβιος in Greek, beatus, felix, or fortunatus in Latin.
with one grand cafe in sun
with strong black coffee in very small cups.
One not necessarily very beautiful
man or woman who loves you.
One fine day.
Many of the following examples come from a footnote in Eduard Norden's Agnostos Theos (1913), pp. 100-101.
An early Greek macarism is found in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter (lines 480-482, tr. Hugh G. Evelyn-White):
Happy is he among men upon earth who has seen these mysteries; but he who is uninitiate and who has no part in them, never has lot of like good things once he is dead, down in the darkness and gloom.Pindar is also talking about the Eleusinian mysteries in this macarism (fr. 137a, tr. William H. Race):
ὄλβιος, ὃς τάδ' ὄπωπεν ἐπιχθονίων ἀνθρώπων:
ὃς δ' ἀτελὴς ἱερῶν ὅς τ' ἄμμορος, οὔποθ' ὁμοίων
αἶσαν ἔχει φθίμενός περ ὑπὸ ζόφῳ ἠερόεντι.
Blessed is he who sees them and goes beneath the earth; he knows the end of life and knows its Zeus-given beginning.Similarly in Euripides, Bacchae 83-82 (tr. T.A. Buckley), it is the initiate in Dionysus' rites who is happy:
ὄλβιος ὃστις ἰδὼν κεῖν᾽ εἶσ᾽ ὑπὸ χθόν᾽·
οἶδε μὲν βίου τελευτάν,
οἶδεν δὲ διόσδοτον ἀρχάν.
Blessed is he who, being fortunate and knowing the rites of the gods, keeps his life pure and has his soul initiated into the Bacchic revels, dancing in inspired frenzy over the mountains with holy purifications, and who, revering the mysteries of great mother Kybele, brandishing the thyrsos, garlanded with ivy, serves Dionysus.As E.R. Dodds points out in his commentary, the followers of Dionysus have their happiness in this life, here and now, as opposed to the blessed afterlife promised to the initiates in the Eleusinian mysteries.
μάκαρ, ὅστις εὐδαίμων
τελετὰς θεῶν εἰδὼς
βιοτὰν ἁγιστεύει καὶ
ἐν ὄρεσσι βακχεύων
τά τε ματρὸς μεγάλας ὄρ-
για Κυβέλας θεμιτεύων,
ἀνὰ θύρσον τε τινάσσων,
κισσῷ τε στεφανωθεὶς
Sometimes the favor of the gods confers happiness, as in these macarisms:
- Homeric Hymn to Mother Earth (30.7-8, tr. Hugh G. Evelyn-White): Happy is the man whom you delight to honour. (ὃ δ' ὄλβιος, ὅν κε σὺ θυμῷ / πρόφρων τιμήσῃς.)
- Hesiod, Theogony 96-97 (tr. Hugh G. Evelyn-White): Happy is he whom the Muses love. (ὃ δ' ὄλβιος, ὅντινα Μοῦσαι / φίλωνται.)
That man is happy and lucky in them who knows all these things and does his work without offending the deathless gods, who discerns the omens of birds and avoids transgression.Cf. Vergil, Georgics 2.490-512 (tr. J.W. MacKail):
τάων εὐδαίμων τε καὶ ὄλβιος, ὃς τάδε πάντα
εἰδὼς ἐργάζηται ἀναίτιος ἀθανάτοισιν,
ὄρνιθας κρίνων καὶ ὑπερβασίας ἀλεείνων.
Happy he who hath availed to know the causes of things, and hath laid all fears and immitigable Fate and the roar of hungry Acheron under his feet; yet he no less is blessed, who knows the gods of the country, Pan and old Silvanus and the Nymphs' sisterhood.A country life is also at the center of this macarism from the beginning of Horace's second epode (tr. Christopher Smart):
felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas
atque metus omnis et inexorabile fatum
subiecit pedibus strepitumque Acherontis avari:
fortunatus et ille deos qui novit agrestis
Panaque Silvanumque senem Nymphasque sorores.
Happy the man, who, remote from business, after the manner of the ancient race of mortals, cultivates his paternal lands with his own oxen, disengaged from every kind of usury; he is neither alarmed by the horrible trump, as a soldier, nor dreads he the angry sea; he shuns both the bar [i.e. lawsuits] and the proud portals of citizens in power.The book of Psalms opens with a macarism (1.1):
Beatus ille qui procul negotiis,
ut prisca gens mortalium,
paterna rura bubus exercet suis
solutus omni faenore
neque excitatur classico miles truci
neque horret iratum mare
forumque vitat et superba civium
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.Other Biblical examples include:
- Psalms 32.1-2: Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
- Psalms 34.8: Blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
- Psalms 40.4: Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.
- Jeremiah 17.7: Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.
- Sirach 31.8: Blessed is the rich that is found without blemish, and hath not gone after gold.
- Revelation 1.3: Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
Blest and thrice blest were those Danaans who fell before Troy in the cause of the sons of Atreus.In his despair, Odysseus imagines that those who died fighting at Troy are better off than he is in his interminable wanderings. Vergil imitates these lines in the first book of the Aeneid (lines 92-96, tr. Theodore C. Williams):
τρὶς μάκαρες Δαναοὶ καὶ τετράκις, οἳ τότ᾽ ὄλοντο
Τροίῃ ἐν εὐρείῃ χάριν Ἀτρεΐδῃσι φέροντες.
Straightway Aeneas, shuddering with amaze,Another macarism that starts out in a paradoxical fashion is Theognis 1013-1016 (tr. J.M. Edmonds):
groaned loud, upraised both holy hands to Heaven,
and thus did plead: "O thrice and four times blest,
ye whom your sires and whom the walls of Troy
looked on in your last hour!"
extemplo Aeneae solvuntur frigore membra:
ingemit, et duplicis tendens ad sidera palmas
talia voce refert: 'O terque quaterque beati,
quis ante ora patrum Troiae sub moenibus altis
Ah, blessed and happy and fortunate is he that goeth down into the black house of Death without knowing trouble, and ere he have bent before his foes, sinned of necessity, or tested the loyalty of his friends.From the Bible we have the following paradoxical macarisms:
Ἆ μάκαρ εὐδαίμων τε καὶ ὄλβιος, ὃστις ἄπειρος
ἄθλων είς Ἀΐδεω δῶμα μέλαν καταβῇ,
πρίν ἐχθροὺς πτῆξαι καὶ ὑπερβῆναί περ ἀναγκῃ
ἐξετάσαι τε φίλους ὅντιν᾽ ἔχουσι νόον.
- Job 5.17: Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty.
- Psalms 94.12: Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law.
- Proverbs 28.14: Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.
- 1 Peter 3.14: But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye.
- 1 Peter 4.14: If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye.
- James 1.12: Blessed is the man that endureth temptation.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
The enjoyment derived from charity is a haughty and immoral enjoyment. The rich man's enjoyment in his wealth, his power, and in the comparison of his importance with the poor. Charity corrupts giver and taker alike; and, what's more, does not attain its object, as it only increases poverty. Fathers who don't want to work crowd round the charitable like gamblers round the gambling-table, hoping for gain, while the pitiful farthings that are flung them are a hundred times too little.Friedrich Nietzsche, Morgenstern (Daybreak, tr. R.J. Hollingdale), III, 185:
Beggars ought to be abolished: for one is vexed at giving to them, and vexed at not giving to them.Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance:
Then again, do not tell me, as a good man did to-day, of my obligation to put all poor men in good situations. Are they my poor? I tell thee thou foolish philanthropist that I grudge the dollar, the dime, the cent, I give to such men as do not belong to me and to whom I do not belong. There is a class of persons to whom by all spiritual affinity I am bought and sold; for them I will go to prison if need be; but your miscellaneous popular charities; the education at college of fools; the building of meeting-houses to the vain end to which many now stand; alms to sots, and the thousand-fold Relief Societies;--though I confess with shame I sometimes succumb and give the dollar, it is a wicked dollar which by and by I shall have the manhood to withhold.In chapter 38 of Middlemarch, George Eliot defines the philanthropist as "a man whose charity increases directly as the square of the distance." The literary epitome of this definition is Mrs. Jellyby in Dicken's Bleak House, whose efforts on behalf of the natives of Borrioboola-Gha in Africa are unstinting, but who shamefully neglects the welfare of her own family, to the point that her daughter Caddy finally cries out in despair, "I wish Africa was dead!"
Friday, January 13, 2006
In general, "as the heaven, so is our life, sometimes fair, sometimes overcast, tempestuous, and serene; as in a rose, flowers and prickles; in the year itself, a temperate summer sometimes, a hard winter, a drought, and then again pleasant showers: so is our life intermixed with joys, hopes, fears, sorrows, calumnies: Invicem cedunt dolor et voluptas," there is a succession of pleasure and pain.A series of quotations, as so often in Burton. The first apparently comes from a letter of Justus Lipsius (Joost Lips):
ut coelum, sic nos homines sumus: illud ex intervallo nubibus obducitur et obscuratur. in rosario flores spinis intermixti. vita similis aeri, udum modo, sudum, tempestas, serenitas: ita vices rerum sunt, praemia gaudiis, et sequaces curae.How should one construe praemia gaudiis here? Lipsius himself echoes Lucretius 2.48 (curaeque sequaces = dogging cares).
The second quotation comes from a play by Seneca (Thyestes 596-597):
No lot lasts long; pain and pleasure in their turn pass away; pleasure is shorter.
nulla sors longa est; dolor ac voluptas
invicem cedunt; brevior voluptas.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Chrismation and Desecration
Insisting that God "certainly needs to be involved" in the Supreme Court confirmation process, three Christian ministers today blessed the doors of the hearing room where Senate Judiciary Committee members will begin considering the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito on Monday.The other two wacko clergy were Patrick Mahoney and Grace Nwachukwu.
Capitol Hill police barred them from entering the room to continue what they called a consecration service. But in a bit of one-upsmanship, the three announced that they had let themselves in a day earlier, touching holy oil to the seats where Judge Alito, the senators, witnesses, Senate staffers and the press will sit, and praying for each of the 13 committee members by name.
"We did adequately apply oil to all the seats," said the Rev. Rob Schenck, who identified himself as an evangelical Christian and as president of the National Clergy Council in Washington.
Holy oil is usually applied to the head, not to the rear end. This bizarre incident got me wondering if there are scriptural examples of anointing objects rather than people. The article on anointing by A.R.S. Kennedy in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible gives the following examples:
- Genesis 28.18: And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.
- Exodus 30.23-29 (cf. 40.9-11): Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels, And of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin: And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil. And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony, And the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense, And the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot. And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy.
My kingdom is not of this world.
Rules: Guess before googling.
Hint: Look at the initials.
For fun: Invent a pseudonym for yourself on the same pattern.
Duo Genera Hominum
Society is made up of two great classes: those who have more dinners than appetite, and those who have more appetite than dinners.Charles Lamb:
The human species, according to the best theory I can form of it, is composed of two distinct races, the men who borrow, and the men who lend. To these two original diversities may be reduced all those impertinent classifications of Gothic and Celtic tribes, white men, black men, red men. All the dwellers upon earth, "Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites," flock hither, and do naturally fall in with one or other of these primary distinctions.Leopardi:
The human race, from the individual on up, and even in its smallest units, is split into two camps: the bullies and the bullied.C.S. Lewis:
There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell chose it.Seen on a t-shirt:
There are 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary and those who don't.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Long ago I attended two APA meetings, in New York and New Orleans. No one wanted to interview me at those meetings, and I never succeeded in finding a full-time teaching position. It would have been better if someone had responded to my graduate school applications with an honest letter like T. Tetuphenay sent to Jude Fawley in Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure (part II, chapter 6):
Sir,—I have read your letter with interest; and, judging from your description of yourself as a working-man, I venture to think that you will have a much better chance of success in life by remaining in your own sphere and sticking to your trade than by adopting any other course. That, therefore, is what I advise you to do.
I don't have access to the article, but the title puzzles me. Imitatio Homeris is evidently supposed to be a Latin phrase meaning imitation of Homer. But Homer in Latin is Homerus, and the genitive is Homeri, not Homeris. Am I missing something?
Update: This was a lapsus calami by Hypotyposeis, who reminds us that even Homer nods.
Writing and Memory
For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise.Francis Parkman, The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century:
In one particular, the training of these savage politicians was never surpassed. They had no art of writing to record events, or preserve the stipulations of treaties. Memory, therefore, was tasked to the utmost, and developed to an extraordinary degree. They had various devices for aiding it, such as bundles of sticks, and that system of signs, emblems, and rude pictures, which they shared with other tribes. Their famous wampum-belts were so many mnemonic signs, each standing for some act, speech, treaty, or clause of a treaty. These represented the public archives, and were divided among various custodians, each charged with the memory and interpretation of those assigned to him. The meaning of the belts was from time to time expounded in their councils. In conferences with them, nothing more astonished the French, Dutch, and English officials than the precision with which, before replying to their addresses, the Indian orators repeated them point by point.
Monday, January 09, 2006
Schoolboys in Winter
The schoolboys still their morning ramble takeNotes by W.H. Auden:
To neighbouring village school with playing speed,
Loitering with pastime's leisure till they quake,
Oft looking up the wild-geese droves to heed,
Watching the letters which their journeys make;
Or plucking haws on which their fieldfares feed,
And hips and sloes; and on each shallow lake
Making glib slides, where they like shadows go
Till some fresh pastimes in their minds awake.
Then off they start anew and hasty blow
Their numbed and clumpsing fingers till they glow;
Then races with their shadows wildly run
That stride huge giants o'er the shining snow
In the pale splendour of the winter sun.
haws: hawthorne berries.
fieldfares: small birds belonging to the thrush family.
sloes: fruit of the black thorn.
glib: slippery, smooth.
clumpsing: benumbed with cold.
I would add:
hips: fruit of the dog-rose.
Planning for Retirement
This spending of the best part of one's life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it reminds me of the Englishman who went to India to make a fortune first, in order that he might return to England and live the life of a poet. He should have gone up garret at once.
Sunday, January 08, 2006
Fishing at Night
A dedicatory epigram from the Greek Anthology (6.5, tr. W.R. Paton) refers obliquely to the practice of fishing by night, when it includes among fishing tackle a flint to light a fire:
Piso the fisherman, weighed down by long toil and his right hand already shaky, gives to Hermes these his rods with the lines hanging from their tips, his oar that swam through the sea, his curved hooks whose points bite the fishes' throats, his net fringed with lead, the float that announced where his weel lay, his two wicker creels, the flint pregnant with fire that sets the tinder alight, and his anchor, the trap that holds fast wandering ships.In their commentary on this epigram, A.S.F. Gow and D.L. Page quote Alfred J. Butler, Sport in Classic Times (London: Benn, 1930), pp. 148-149:
[T]orch or cresset was set on the bows of the boat, which was allowed to drift or was gently propelled until fish were near enough, when a long-handled trident was used for striking. It is worth noting, however, that instead of blazing pinewood sometimes a brass lantern with sides of horn was carried on the prow of the boat, but presumably only on calm water ... The flare, however, was and still is used to decoy fish, as well as to spear them. The boat is turned round and round several times, then as the bewildered fish crowd towards the light, it is very gently moved up to a shelving beach, as close as possible without touching, and nets are swiftly flung out to encircle the prey.Gow and Page also cite Oppian's Halieutica 5.428 ff. (unavailable to me). In the Gospels, the disciples did not have good luck fishing at night (Luke 5.5, John 21.3-5).
I suspect that ancient fishing at night with torches and spears was quite similar to modern frog gigging. This detailed description of frog gigging is not for the tender-hearted. Some frog giggers use a miner's head lamp to keep both hands free.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
King of Kings, and Lord of Lords
- Deuteronomy 10.17: For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords.
- Psalms 136.2-3: O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever. O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.
- Ezekiel 26.7: Behold, I will bring upon Tyrus Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, a king of kings, from the north, with horses, and with chariots, and with horsemen, and companies, and much people.
- 2 Maccabees 13.4: But the King of kings moved Antiochus' mind against this wicked wretch.
- Enoch 9.4-5: And they said to the Lord of the ages: "Lord of lords, God of gods, King of kings, and God of the ages, the throne of Thy glory (standeth) unto all the generations of the ages, and Thy name holy and glorious and blessed unto all the ages!"
- Revelation 17.14: Lord of lords, and king of kings.
Off the top of my head I can't think of any classical Greek examples, but Guillermo Galán Vioque, in his commentary on Martial 7.70.1 (tribadum tribas), gives the following Latin examples:
- Plautus, Captives 825: regum rex
- Plautus, Trinummus 309: victor victorum
- Lucretius 3.816: summarum summa
- Ovid, Heroides 8.46: dux erat ille ducum
- Petronius 37.8: nummorum nummos
- Seneca, Agamemnon 39: rex ille regum, ductor Agamemnon ducum
- Martial 1.100.2: mammarum maxima mamma
- Martial 6.4.1: principumque princeps
- Apuleius, Metamorphoses 11.30: deus deum magnorum potior et potiorum summus et summorum maximus et maximorum regnator Osiris
Then with expanded wings he steers his flightThe thought occurred to me that perhaps Milton, in lines 236-237 (a singéd bottom all involved with stench and smoke, where involved with = wrapped in), was making a veiled allusion to the vulgar practice of teenage boys known as "lighting farts." But this interpretation must be rejected. When farts are lit, the fueled entrails conceive wind, not fire; that wind is sublimed with vegetable fury, not mineral; and the wind aids the fire, not vice versa.
Aloft, incumbent on the dusky air,
That felt unusual weight, till on dry land
He lights, if it were land that ever burned
With solid, as the lake with liquid fire;
And such appeared in hue as when the force
Of subterranean wind transports a hill
Torn from Pelorus, or the shattered side
Of thundering Etna, whose combustible
And fueled entrails, thence conceiving fire,
Sublimed with mineral fury, aid the winds,
And leave a singéd bottom all involved
With stench and smoke: such resting found the sole
Of unblest feet.
Milton unmistakably refers to the habits of undergraduates at 1.500-502:
When nightFlown = filled to excess, steeped. I wonder if anyone ever proposed to emend Belial to Balliol here.
Darkens the streets, then wander forth the sons
Of Belial, flown with insolence and wine.
For those whose organs of amusement are deficient, everything up to this point was intended as a joke.
The only copy of Milton's poem in my possession is the Modern Library College Edition by William G. Madsen (Random House, 1969), who writes in the introduction:
The editor has modernized the 1674 edition in spelling, capitalization, and use of italics, but the original punctuation, which is rhetorical rather than grammatical, has been tampered with as little as possible.This edition has no critical apparatus. The rules of rhetorical, as opposed to grammatical, punctuation in Milton's day are way beyond my ken. In the first book, however, I recently marked a couple of passages where the punctuation in Madsen's edition hindered rather than helped my comprehension.
Yet not for those,The semi-colon in line 97 obscures, as a comma would not, the fact that mind and disdain are the objects of the verbs repent and change.
Nor what the potent victor in his rage
Can else inflict, do I repent, or change,
Though changed in outward luster; that fixed mind
And high disdain from sense of injured merit,
That with the mightiest raised me to contend.
Though of their names in heav'nly records nowIt would seem preferable here to remove the comma after rebellion and place it instead after memorial.
Be no memorial blotted out and razed
By their rebellion, from the Books of Life.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
ABC and CBA
With ancient writers it was a fairly common practice to announce the sections of their subject in terms such as 'I propose to deal with A and B' and then, in the execution, to let B come first. The arrangement of the ode Quem virum is a case in point. The announcement in the proem runs Quem virum aut heroa...quem deum?: in the execution the gods come first (triad II), then the heroes (triad III), and finally the men (triad IV).An example in miniature is this exquisite epigram by Argentarius from the Greek Anthology (10.18, tr. A.S.F. Gow and D.L. Page):
Gobrys, may Dionysus and the amorous Cyprian and the sweet Muses with their books be your delight: pluck their wisdom, enter into her passions, swallow his friendly cups.We see in the first couplet the deities Dionysus, Aphrodite (the amorous Cyprian), and the Muses (ABC), then in the second couplet their gifts in reversed order -- learning, love, and wine (CBA).
Γῶβρυ, Διώνυσός σε καὶ ἡ φιλεράσττρια Κύπρις
τέρποι καὶ γλυκεραὶ γράμμασι Πιερίδες·
ὧν μὲν γὰρ σοφίην ἀποδρέπτεο, τῆς δ᾽ ἐς ἔρωτας
ἔρχεο, τοῦ δὲ φίλας λαβροπότει κύλικας.
For more on this literary device, see here.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Recipe for Insult
The formula is simple. First, select a person to attack. If possible, refer to him or her as the Hon. insert surname, the Rev. insert surname, or Dr. insert surname. Second, call the person a nasty name, either a heavily sarcastic one (esteemed eminento, sonorous pontificator, distinguished scholar) or simply a jeering one - bellyacher, buffoon, dolt, dunderhead, galoot, gasbag, greenhorn, half-wit, idiot, imbecile, jackass, loony, moron, nincompoop, pinhead, poltroon, popinjay, quack, rube, sap, simpleton, snot, windbag, wretch, yahoo, yokel, or zealot. Third, add an adjective (optional). Brazen, fuliginous, gaseous, gimcrack, maudlin, meretricious, piffling, portentous, sophomoric, puerile - any of these will do. Fourth, accuse the person of engaging in bibble-babble, claptrap, flapdoodle, flumdiddle, hokum, moonshine, pishposh, rumble-bumble, pronunciamentos, or tosh. Finally, work in a reference to the United States as "the Republic." You will soon be writing, or programming your computer to write, sentences such as this one, from page 21: "There have always been whistle-brained pontificators at large in the Republic, all promising a New Age full of wonder and kookery."Let's give the recipe a try.
There is no need to worry about grammatical purity in the Republic of Blogdom so long as the esteemed eminento and pseudo-scholarly pedant Dr. Gilleland persists in boring us with his pretentious linguistic pronunciamentos.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Who can it be, Mentorides, who has so obviously transferred your breech to the place where your mouth used to be? You do not breathe, you break wind; your voice comes from the basement. I cannot understand how your lower became your upper parts.Martial 1.83 (tr. anon., Bohn Classical Library):
Your lap-dog, Manneia, licks your mouth and lips: I do not wonder at a dog liking to eat ordure.Martial 3.17 (tr. anon., Bohn Classical Library):
Os et labra tibi lingit, Manneia, catellus:
non miror, merdas si libet esse cani.
A tart, which had been carried round the second course several times, burned the hand with its excessive heat. But the throat of Sabidius was still more ardent to swallow it; he immediately, therefore, blew upon it three or four times with his mouth. The tart certainly grew cooler, and seemed likely to allow us to touch it. But no one would touch it: it was infected.Victorian euphemisms (ordure, infected) appear in the two translations from Martial, who in both epigrams used a vulgar Latin word for excrement (merda, which survives unchanged in Italian and Portuguese and has become mierda in Spanish, merde in French). Brenna Lorenz has compiled a list of euphemisms and colorful expressions for this substance. With Martial 3.17 compare an earlier post on distasteful foods.
Circumlata diu mensis scribilita secundis
urebat nimio saeva calore manus;
sed magis ardebat Sabidi gula: protinus ergo
sufflavit buccis terque quaterque suis.
Illa quidem tepuit digitosque admittere visa est,
sed nemo potuit tangere: merda fuit.
Monday, January 02, 2006
Limbo Good, Limbo Fine?
A Happy Life
That which creates a happy lifesubstance left = an inheritance
Is substance left, not gained by strife,
A fertile and a thankful mold,
A chimney always free from cold;
Never to be the client, or
But seldom times the counselor.
A mind content with what is fit,
Whose strength doth most consist in wit;
A body nothing prone to be
Sick; a prudent simplicity.
Such friends as one's own rank are;
Homely fare, not sought from far;
The table without art's help spread;
A night in wine not buriéd,
Yet drowning cares; a bed that's blest
With true joy, chastity, and rest;
Such short, sweet slumber as may give
Less time to die in 't, more to live:
Thine own estate whate'er commend,
And wish not for, nor fear thine end.
Vitam quae faciant beatiorem,
iucundissime Martialis, haec sunt:
res non parta labore sed relicta;
non ingratus ager, focus perennis;
lis numquam, toga rara, mens quieta;
vires ingenuae, salubre corpus;
prudens simplicitas, pares amici;
convictus facilis, sine arte mensa;
nox non ebria sed soluta curis;
non tristis torus et tamen pudicus;
somnus qui faciat breves tenebras:
quod sis esse velis nihilque malis;
summum nec metuas diem nec optes.
mold = ground
Compare the version by Henry Howard.
Update: An objection to the sentiment in Martial's penultimate line at Fragments of the New Stoa.
Sunday, January 01, 2006
New Year's Resolutions
Giving yourself your word to do something ought to be no less sacred than giving your word to others.
Deserts and Desserts
The man [Michael Ross] was a monster, and he got at least a small portion of his desserts, long delayed but nonetheless real, over twenty years later, when, on May 13, 2005, executioners in a Connecticut prison injected poison into his veins while the families of his victims watched.I don't think Bottum was referring to the condemned man's last meal. Desserts here is of course a mistake for its homophone deserts.
This error is so common that Google shows only 224,000 hits for the correct just deserts versus 703,000 for the incorrect just desserts. Some of the hits for just desserts are for punning confectionary and pastry shops, but nevertheless the numbers seem to show that the incorrect usage is the more common. What is worse, Google asks
Did you mean: "just desserts"?when you search for just deserts.
It's only a matter of time before the laxicographers give just desserts their imprimatur.
By the way, if you're looking for desserts from deserts of a different kind, did you know that both sherbet and syrup are derived from Arabic?
An Ancient Rip Van Winkle
One day he was sent into the country by his father to look for a stray sheep, and at noon he turned aside out of the way, and went to sleep in a cave, where he slept for fifty-seven years. After this he got up and went in search of the sheep, thinking he had been asleep only a short time. And when he could not find it, he came to the farm, and found everything changed and another owner in possession. Then he went back to the town in utter perplexity; and there, on entering his own house, he fell in with people who wanted to know who he was. At length he found his younger brother, now an old man, and learnt the truth from him.
The story goes that Socrates met him in a narrow passage, and that he stretched out his stick to bar his way, while he inquired where every kind of food was sold. Upon receiving a reply, he put another question," And where do men become good and honourable?" Xenophon was fairly puzzled; "Then follow me," said Socrates, "and learn." From that time onward he was a pupil of Socrates.Matthew 4.18-22 (par. Mark 1.16-20):
And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.