Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Oak, and Ash, and Thorn

Rudyard Kipling, A Tree Song:
Of all the trees that grow so fair,
  Old England to adorn,
Greater are none beneath the Sun
  Than Oak, and Ash, and Thorn.
Sing Oak, and Ash, and Thorn, good sirs,
  (All of a Midsummer morn!)
Surely we sing of no little thing,
  In Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Oak of the Clay lived many a day,
  Or ever Aeneas began.
Ash of the Loam was a lady at home
  When Brut was an outlaw man.
Thorn of the Down saw New Troy Town
  (From which was London born);
Witness hereby the ancientry
  Of Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Yew that is old in churchyard-mould,
  He breedeth a mighty bow.
Alder for shoes do wise men choose,
  And beech for cups also.
But when ye have killed, and your bowl is spilled,
  And your shoes are clean outworn,
Back ye must speed for all that ye need
  To Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Ellum she hateth mankind, and waiteth
  Till every gust be laid
To drop a limb on the head of him
  That anyway trusts her shade.
But whether a lad be sober or sad,
  Or mellow with wine from the horn,
He will take no wrong when he lieth along
  'Neath Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Oh, do not tell the priest our plight,
  Or he would call it a sin;
But—we have been out in the woods all night,
  A-conjuring Summer in!
And we bring you good news by word of mouth—
  Good news for cattle and corn—
Now is the Sun come up from the South
  With Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Sing Oak, and Ash, and Thorn, good sirs
  (All of a Midsummer morn)!
England shall bide till Judgement Tide,
  By Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Monday, September 29, 2008



Samuel Parr (1747-1825) to Edmund Henry Barker (1788-1839), as recalled by William Maltby (1763–1854), in Alexander Dyce, ed., Recollections of the Table-Talk of Samuel Rogers, to which is added Porsoniana, 2nd ed. (London: Edward Moxon, 1856), p. 317:
You have read a great deal, you have thought very little, and you know nothing.
That reminds me of Schopenhauer's remarks on reading:
Reading is thinking with some one else's head instead of one's own. To think with one's own head is always to aim at developing a coherent whole — a system, even though it be not a strictly complete one; and nothing hinders this so much as too strong a current of others' thoughts, as comes of continual reading.
Among the fruits of Barker's extensive reading is his article "On the Howling of Dogs," The Classical Journal, Vol. V, No. IX (1812) 73-75, a fitting title for a scholar named Barker.

For more on Barker see M.L. Clarke, Greek Studies in England 1700-1830 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1945), pp. 94-96, my source for most of the above.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Suum Cuique

Rudyard Kipling, The Glories:
In Faiths and Food and Books and Friends
  Give every soul her choice.
For such as follow divers ends
  In divers lights rejoice.

There is a glory of the Sun
  ('Pity it passeth soon!)
But those whose work is nearer done
  Look, rather, towards the Moon.

There is a glory of the Moon
  When the hot hours have run;
But such as have not touched their noon
  Give worship to the Sun.

There is a glory of the Stars,
  Perfect on stilly ways;
But such as follow present wars
  Pursue the Comet's blaze.

There is a glory in all things;
  But each must find his own,
Sufficient for his reckonings,
  Which is to him alone.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


In the Wrong

Zeph Stewart, Introduction to Arthur Darby Nock, Essays on Religion and the Ancient World, vol. I (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1972), p. 2:
Unlike most scholars (and most men) he was delighted when someone could prove him wrong; his interest in getting at the truth overrode all considerations of vanity and personal theorizing.
The opposite quality, the conviction and insistence that one is always in the right (in matters of scholarship, religion, politics, and in relations with others), must at times be a heavy burden. It is sometimes a relief to confess one's errors, shortcomings, and ignorance.

I read Plautus' Casina recently, and I wanted to see what Eduard Fraenkel had to say about it in Plautine Elements in Plautus, tr. Tomas Drevikovsky and Frances Muecke (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007). There is an extended discussion of the play on pp. 199-214. After reading Fraenkel's discussion, I turned to the Addenda and saw these words (p. 419): "My analysis of Casina has been convincingly refuted by Jachmann, Plautinisches und Attisches, 105 ff."

Friday, September 26, 2008


Beardlip Penstemon

This is the fifth in a series of notes about some flowers recently planted in my yard.

Beardlip penstemon (Penstemon barbatus)

In the scientific name, barbatus (bearded) is straightforward, but the etymology of Penstemon is obscure. Robert Nold, Penstemons (Portland: Timber Press, 1999), pp. 58-59, lucidly traces the complicated history of the generic nomenclature:
The generic name Penstemon was first proposed by the Virginia botanist John Mitchell; he was probably referring to P. laevigatus, which was not actually described until 1789. When Linnaeus published his Species plantarum in 1753, he referred to two species of penstemon as Chelone: C. hirsuta (P. hirsutus) and C. pentstemon, disregarding Mitchell's new genus, and also, apparently, assuming that Mitchell's name "penstemon" was derived from the Greek pente ("five") and stamon ("thread"), since Mitchell gave no explanation. To Linnaeus, in other words, Mitchell's plant was just another turtlehead.

Mitchell republished his description in 1769, in Nova Genera Plantarum Virginiensium, reiterating his spelling and again giving no derivation. In the meantime, Johann Schmidel, in Icones Plantarum (1763), had mentioned a plant "recently named by the English" (a resident of Virginia was still English at the time), answering the description of Penstemon laevigatus. Some botanists prefer to give Schmidel priority, although he did not describe the genus; credit for naming the genus is usually given to Mitchell, even though his first description was pre-Linnaean.

In the nineteenth century, many botanists adhered to Linnaeus's spelling, "pentstemon," or even "pentastemon"; it was not until Pennell's work (1920, 1935) that Mitchell's original spelling became the preferred spelling, although not among horticulturalists until quite recently. The incorrect spelling is therefore the fault of Linnaeus,and it should not be considered an alternative to "penstemon."

One reason the current spelling was not accepted was the implicit idea that Mitchell had conceived the name as referring to the number of stamens—not exactly an accurate name since the fifth stamen is not a stamen at all, but rather a sterile filament resembling a stamen. An alternative derivation, from the Latin paene ("almost") and Greek stamon ("thread") was suggested by Straw (1966). This explanation makes considerably more sense and is now universally accepted by authorities in the genus. The name penstemon ("almost a stamen") is in the masculine gender and requires agreement in the specific epithet: the endings -us, -is, and -cola (as in rupicola) are all appropriate.
Straw (1966) is a reference to Richard M. Straw, "A redefinition of Penstemon (Scrophulariaceae)," Brittonia 18 (1966) 80-95, which I have not seen.

English words derived from Greek πέντε (pente = five) include pentagon, pentagram, pentameter, Pentateuch, pentathlon, and Pentecost. I am aware of no words where pente has been shortened to pen- in combination. English words derived from Latin paene (almost, nearly) include peneplain, peninsula, penultimate (plus penult and antepenult), and penumbra. I know of no words where the final -e of paene has disappeared before a following consonant in combination.

Eric Thomson kindly took time to respond to my questions about possible sound changes in the derivation of penstemon from either pente or paene. In the following excerpt from Eric's email, "Stockwell and Minkova" refers to Robert Stockwell and Donka Minkova, English Words: History and Structure (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001):
Penstemon seems ab initio a flawed coinage. The combinatory form penta- can't easily be shorn of its root [t], though if you do omit the vowel, as you are not strictly entitled to do if the root is consonant initial, the [t] would indeed be swallowed up ("Total assimilation occurs most frequently in borrowed words in which prefixes ending in consonants are attached to roots beginning with a non-identical consonant. To highlight the transparency of the root, its initial consonant was was probably pronounced with sufficient force to trigger regressive, right to left assimilation" is how Stockwell and Minkova put it. One of their examples is ad-string-ent > astringent, where the consonant cluster is also [st]). What might have motivated Dr Mitchell to remove the vowel in the first place is the location of the stress, since penta- would shunt it to the left, thereby taking away prominence and transparency from the base, i.e. pentástemon like pentágonal. The prefix homophony with pen(e)- (< paene) would then make it vulnerable to reanalysis but, as with penta-, there is no hiatus at the morpheme boundary to resolve by elision, so if pen- did derive from paene, the correct form would be 'penestemon'.
Britton & Brown III, 182 describe the genus:
Perennial herbs, mostly branched from the base only, with opposite or rarely verticillate leaves, or the upper occasionally alternate, and large, usually showy, blue purple red or white flowers, in terminal thyrses, panicles, or racemes. Calyx 5-parted, the segments imbricated. Corolla irregular, the tube elongated, more or less enlarged above, the limb 2-lipped; upper lip 2-lobed; lower lop 3-lobed. Stamens 5, included, 4 of them antheriferous and didynamous, the fifth sterile, as long as or shorter than the others; anther-sacs divergent or connivent. Style filiform; stigma cap1tate. Capsule ovoid, oblong, or globose, septicidally dehiscent. Seeds numerous, angled or even, wingless.
There is no description of the species in Britton & Brown. Although Penstemon barbatus is a plant native to America, the fullest description of the species I could find was in Stuart Max Walters and James Cullen, The European Garden Flora: A Manual for the Identification of Plants Cultivated in Europe, Both Out-of-doors and Under Glass (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1984), VI, 293:
Plant to 1.8 m, hairless or minutely hairy at base. Leaves 5-15 cm; basal leaves lanceolate to spathulate or ovate; stem leaves lanceolate to linear. Inflorescence long and open. Calyx 6-10 mm, lobes lanceloate, acute to shortly acuminate with membranous margins. Corolla 3-4 cm, red, tinged pink to carmine, strongly 2-lipped, gradually inflated, upper lobes projecting, lower lobes reflexed and yellow-hairy at base. Staminode included, pale yellow, hairless.
Related posts: Butterfly Milkweed; Blanket Flower; Golden Alexanders; Narrow-Leaved Purple Coneflowers.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Even Small Things

The first song in Hugo Wolf's Italian Songbook (Italienisches Liederbuch) is "Auch kleine Dinge." Here is Eric Sams' English translation of the lyrics:
Even small things can delight us,
Even small things can be precious.
Consider how we love to adorn ourselves with pearls;
They are costly, and are only small.
Consider how small the olive is,
Yet it is sought after for its goodness.
Just think of the rose, how small it is,
Yet it smells so sweet, as you know.
Here is the German version by Paul Heyse, as set by Hugo Wolf:
Auch kleine Dinge können uns entzücken,
Auch kleine Dinge können teuer sein.
Bedenkt, wie gern wir uns mit Perlen schmücken;
Sie werden schwer bezahlt und sind nur klein.
Bedenkt, wie klein ist die Olivenfrucht,
Und wird um ihre Güte doch gesucht.
Denkt an die Rose nur, wie klein sie ist,
Und duftet doch so lieblich, wie ihr wißt.
Here is the original Italian folk song, collected by Niccolò Tommaseo:
Le cose piccoline son pur belle!
Le cose piccoline son pur care!
Ponete mente come son le perle:
Son piccoline, e si fanno pagare.
Ponete mente come l'è l'uliva:
L'è piccolina, e di buon frutto mena.
Ponete mente come l'è la rosa:
L'è piccolina, e l'è tanto odorosa.


He Commandeth Even the Winds

See Roger Kuin, Epipompe and Circumstance, for a neat French example of epipompē, the practice of diverting, rather than destroying, evil.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Hiding Troubles

Pindar, fragment 42 (tr. William H. Race):
...do not display to strangers what toil
we are bearing; this at least I shall tell you:
one must show one's portion
of noble and pleasant things openly
to all the people; but if any heaven-sent,
unbearable trouble befalls men,
it is fitting to hide it in darkness.

...ἀλλοτρίοισιν μὴ προφαίνειν, τίς φέρεται
μόχθος ἄμμιν· τοῦτό γέ τοι ἐρέω·
καλῶν μὲν ὦν μοῖράν τε τερπνῶν
ἐς μέσον χρὴ παντὶ λαῷ
δεικνύναι· εἰ δέ τις ἀνθρώ-
ποισι θεόσδοτος ἀτλάτα κακότας
προστύχῃ, ταύταν σκότει κρύπτειν ἔοικεν.
Why hide troubles? To avoid the laughter of enemies. See, e.g., Euripides, fragment 460 Nauck:
It is a painful thing for someone to fall into shameful ruin; but if this should happen, one should conceal and cover it up well, and not announce these things to the whole world; for such things become a source of laughter to enemies.

λύπη μὲν ἄτῃ περιπεσεῖν αἰσχρᾷ τινι·
εἰ δ᾽ οὖν γένοιτο, χρὴ περιστεῖλαι καλῶς
κρύπτοντα καὶ μὴ πᾶσι κηρύσσειν τάδε·
γέλως γὰρ ἐχθροῖς γίγνεται τὰ τοιάδε.
Related posts: Nietzsche on Emotional Incontinence; Buckled Lips; The Contagion of Misery; Emotional Incontinence; Euripidea; Hostile Laughter; Hostile Laughter in Euripides' Medea; Icy Laughter; Notes to Myself; On Concealing One's Misfortunes; Quotations about Complaints.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Lord of the Mice

Martin Beckford, Mickey Mouse must die, says Saudi Arabian cleric, Telegraph (Sept. 15, 2008):
Sheikh Muhammad Munajid claimed the mouse is "one of Satan's soldiers" and makes everything it touches impure.

But he warned that depictions of the creature in cartoons such as Tom and Jerry, and Disney's Mickey Mouse, had taught children that it was in fact loveable.

The cleric, a former diplomat at the Saudi embassy in Washington DC, said that under Sharia, both household mice and their cartoon counterparts must be killed.

Mr Munajid was asked to give Islam's teaching on mice during a religious affairs programme broadcast on al-Majd TV, an Arab television network.

According to a translation prepared by the Middle East Media Research Institute, an American press monitoring service, he said: "The mouse is one of Satan's soldiers and is steered by him.

"If a mouse falls into a pot of food – if the food is solid, you should chuck out the mouse and the food touching it, and if it is liquid – you should chuck out the whole thing, because the mouse is impure.

"According to Islamic law, the mouse is a repulsive, corrupting creature. How do you think children view mice today – after Tom and Jerry?

"Even creatures that are repulsive by nature, by logic, and according to Islamic law have become wonderful and are loved by children. Even mice.

"Mickey Mouse has become an awesome character, even though according to Islamic law, Mickey Mouse should be killed in all cases."

Last month Mr Munajid condemned the Beijing Olympics as the "bikini Olympics", claiming that nothing made Satan happier than seeing females athletes dressed in skimpy outfits.
There is a somewhat more humane way of dealing with the problem of mice in Geoponica 13.5 (tr. James George Frazer):
Take a sheet of paper and write on it as follows:—"I adjure you, ye mice here present, that ye neither injure me, nor suffer another mouse to do so. I give you yonder field" (here you specify the field, perhaps a neighbour's) "but if I ever catch you here again, by the mother of the gods, I will rend you in seven pieces"; write this and stick the paper on an unhewn stone in the field before sunrise, taking care to keep the written side uppermost.
Otto Weinreich discusses this exorcism of mice in his Ausgewählte Schriften III (Amsterdam: B.R. Grüner, 1979), pp. 43-45. It is a good example of epipompē, the method of getting rid of evil not by destroying it but by sending it somewhere else.

In Greek religion, mice were under the control of the god Apollo Smintheus, first mentioned by Homer in the Iliad 1.37-42 (tr. A.T. Murray):
Hear me, thou of the silver bow, who dost stand over Chryse and holy Cilla, and dost rule mightily over Tenedos, thou Sminthian, if ever I roofed over a shrine to thy pleasing, or if ever I burned to thee fat thight-pieces of bulls or goats, fulfil thou for me this prayer: let the Danaans pay for my tears by thy shafts.

Κλῦθί μευ ἀργυρότοξ᾿, ὃς Χρύσην ἀμφιϐέϐηκας
Κίλλαν τε ζαθέην Τενέδοιό τε ἶφι ἀνάσσεις,
Σμινθεῦ, εἴ ποτέ τοι χαρίεντ᾿ ἐπὶ νηὸν ἔρεψα,
ἢ εἰ δή ποτέ τοι κατὰ πίονα μηρί᾿ ἔκηα
ταύρων ἠδ᾿ αἰγῶν, τὸ δέ μοι κρήηνον ἐέλδωρ·
τίσειαν Δαναοὶ ἐμὰ δάκρυα σοῖσι βέλεσσιν.
G.S. Kirk, The Iliad: A Commentary, Volume I: Books 1-4 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), p. 57 (on 1.39 Σμινθεῦ), notes:
according to Apollonius Sophistes (Erbse I, 20) Aristarchus insisted that the epithet was derived from a city in the Troad called Sminthe, against those who thought 'unfittingly' that it came from σμίνθος = 'mouse' (in Mysian) and therefore meant 'mouse-god' or protector against mice; for in Rhodes at least there was a festival called Smintheia for Apollo and Dionusos, because they killed the mice who were destroying the young vines.
Martin P. Nilsson, Geschichte der griechischen Religion, I (München: C.H. Beck, 1992), p. 213, connects Apollo Smintheus with other gods who warded off pests:
The cult of Apollo Smintheus, especially widespread in northwest Asia Minor, has often been discussed. In Chryse the god's statue put its foot on a mouse, and in the temple in Hamaxitus tame mice were kept. As Zeus Apomyios warded off flies and Apollo Parnopios locusts, so Apollo Smintheus warded off field mice, which in Greece wreaked great havoc on the growing crops.

Oft besprochen worden ist der besonders im nordwestlichen Kleinasien verbreitete Kult des Apollon Smintheus. Das Kultbild in Chryse stellte den Fuss auf eine Maus, und im Tempel in Hamaxitos hielt man zahme Mäuse. Wie Zeus Apomyios der Abwehrer von Fliegen, Apollon Parnopios der von Heuschrecken ist, so ist Apollon Smintheus der Abwehrer der Feldmäuse, die in Griechenland grossen Schaden an den wachsenden Saat anrichten.
Much of our information about the cult of Apollo Smintheus comes from Strabo and Aelian.

Strabo 13.1.48 (tr. Horace Leonard Jones):
In this Chrysa is also the temple of Sminthian Apollo; and the symbol which preserves the etymology of the name, I mean the mouse, lies beneath the foot of his image. These are the works of Scopas of Paros; and also the history, or myth, about the mice is associated with this place: When the Teucrians arrived from Crete (Callinus the elegiac poet was the first to hand down an account of these people, and many have followed him), they had an oracle which bade them to "stay on the spot where the earth-born should attack them"; and, he says the attack took place round Hamaxitus, for by night a great multitude of field-mice swarmed out of the ground and ate up all the leather in their arms and equipment; and the Teucrians remained there; and it was they who gave its name to Mt. Ida, naming it after the mountain in Crete. Heracleides of Pontus says that the mice which swarmed round the temple were regarded as sacred, and that for this reason the image was designed with its foot upon the mouse. Others say that a certain Teucer came from the deme of Troes, now called Xypeteones, in Attica, but that no Teucrians came from Crete. As a further sign of the close relationship of the Trojans with the people of Attica they record the fact the Erichthonius was one of the original founders on both tribes. Now this is the account of the more recent writer; but more in agreement with Homer are the traces to be seen in the plane of Thebe and in the Chrysa which was once founded there, which I shall soon discuss. The name of Smintheus is used in many places, for in the neighborhood of Hamaxitus itself, apart from the Sminthium at the temple, there are two places called Sminthia; and there are others in the neighboring territory of Larisa. And also in the territory of Parium there is a place called Sminthia, as also in Rhodes and in Lindus and in many other places. And they now call the temple Sminthium.
Aelian, On Animals 12.5 (trans. A.F. Scholfield):
Those who live in Hamaxitus in the Troad worship a mouse, and that is why, according to them, they give the name of Sminthian to Apollo whom they worship, for the Aeolians and the people of the Troad still call a mouse sminthos, just as Aeschylus too in his Sisyphus writes: "Nay, but what sminthos of the fields is so monstrous?" And in the temple of Smintheus tame mice are kept and fed at the public expense, and beneath the altar white mice have their nests, and by the tripod of Apollo there stands a mouse. And I have also heard the following mythical tale about this cult. Mice came in tens of thousands and cut off before they ripened the crops of the Aeolians and Trojans, rendering the harvest barren for the sowers. Accordingly the god at Delphi said when they enquired of him, that they must sacrifice to Apollo Smintheus; they obeyed and freed themselves from the conspiracy of mice, and their wheat attained the normal harvest. And they add the following story. Some Cretans who, owing to a disaster that befell them, were sent out to found a colony besought the Pythian Apollo to tell them of some good place where it would be advantageous to found a city. There issued from the oracle this answer: in the place where the earth-born made war upon them, there they should settle and raise a city. So they came to this place Hamaxitus and pitched their camp in order to rest; but a countless swarm of mice crept stealthily upon them, gnawed through their shield-straps and ate through their bow-strings. So they guessed that these were the "earth-born" referred to, and, besides, having now no means of getting weapons for defence, they settled in this spot and built a temple to Apollo Smintheus.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

Sarah Palin, interviewed by Charles Gibson:
We must not, Charlie, blink, Charlie, because, Charlie, as I've said, Charlie, before, John McCain has said, Charlie, that — and remember here, Charlie, we're talking about John McCain, Charlie, who, Charlie, is John McCain and I won't be blinking, Charlie.
There is a Dutch word that sounds similar to the pair blink and wink, and also has the same meaning, although all three words are etymologically distinct. See Anatoly Liberman, Big Problems with the Little Finger, or, A Story of Pinkie:
Dutch has the verb pinken "to blink, wink," and in Standard English the adjective pink "half-shut" was common not too long ago, as follows from the song in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra II: 7, 121: "Come, thou monarch of the vine,/ Plumpy Bacchus, with pink eyne!" (eyne "eyes"). Engl. dialectal pink-eyed "having narrow or half-closed eyes" corresponds to late Middle Dutch pinck oogen "small eyes."
In ancient Greek, a verb meaning blink is σκαρδαμύσσω (skardamusso), and an adjective to describe someone who doesn't blink is ἀσκαρδάμυκτος (askardamuktos). In Latin, verbs for blink include coniveo (whence our connive) and nicto (whence our nictate), and an adjective for unblinking is inconivens. The eyelid that does the blinking is βλέφαρον (blepharon) in Greek, palpebra in Latin.

Apparently in Tamil the expression "unblinking ones" means the gods. Philodemus, in his treatise On the Gods, argued that the gods do not sleep. See Walter Scott, Fragmenta Herculanensia (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1885), p. 198 (col. 11, l. 42-col. 13, l. 70):
Though a large part of the sentence is lost, the argument is clear. 'Sleep is like death; so much so, that the fact that the soul sleeps may be used as an argument that it will perish. Therefore sleep is a thing tending to dissolution. But the Gods must be kept free from all things tending to dissolution; therefore the Gods do not sleep.'
The remains of Philodemus' Greek on this subject can be found in Scott, p. 173.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Hodie Vixi

John Edwin Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship, vol. 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1908), pp. 209-210:
Casaubon lives in his Letters and in his Ephemerides, a Latin journal interspersed with Greek, recording his daily reading and his reflexions for the last seventeen years of his life. When he has read continuously for a whole day, from early morn till late at night, he gratefully records the fact in the words: hodie vixi.
That is, "Today I have lived." See also Mark Pattison, Isaac Casaubon, 1559-1614, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1892), p. 92:
Casaubon anxiously compares the hours spent in his study with those bestowed on any other occupation. Unless the first greatly preponderate, he is unhappy. When the claims of business or society have taken up any considerable part of the day, his outcries are those of a man who is being robbed. When he has read continuously a whole day, from early morning till late at night, 'noctem addens operi,' he enters a satisfactory 'to-day, I have truly lived,' 'hodie vixi.' Taking some entries of the first period, we have such as the following:—

'To-day I began my work very early in the morning, notwithstanding my having kept it up last night till very late.'

'Nearly the whole morning, and quite all the afternoon perished, through writing letters. Oh! heavy loss, more lamentable than loss of money!'

'To-day I got six hours for study. When shall I get my whole day? Whenever, O my Father, it shall be thy will!'

'This morning not to my books till 7 o'clock or after; alas me! and after that the whole morning lost; nay, the whole day. O God of my salvation, aid my studies, without which life is to me not life.'

'This morning, reading, but not without interruption. After dinner, however, as if they had conspired the destruction of my studies, friends came and broke them off.'

'This morning a good spell of study. After dinner friends, and trifling talk, but very bothering; at last got back to my books.'

'To-day, though far from well, got eight hours for my books.'

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


By the Light of the Autumn Moon

Kenko, Tsurezure Gusa 212 (tr. G.B. Sansom):
The autumn moon is of loveliness without end. Nobody is more pitiable than a man who cannot see the difference, and thinks the moon is the same at all time.
Online Etymology Dictionary s.v. moonlight (v.):
"hold a second job, especially at night," 1957 (implied in moonlighting), from moonlighter (1954), from the notion of working by the light of the moon.
Chicago Sunday Tribune (July 18, 1957):
There is a new word in the vocabulary of labor statistics and employment — moonlighting. The moonlighter, unlike the moonshiner, is not conducting some illicit trade under the faint lunar beams. He is a respectable citizen, a thrifty citizen bent on achieving the better things of life — a guy who holds two jobs.
I wouldn't call myself a respectable citizen, but I'll be moonlighting for the next few weeks or possibly months, and so I won't have the leisure to blog every day during that time.

Monday, September 15, 2008



C.H. Sisson, Money:
I was led into captivity by the bitch business
Not in love but in what seemed a physical necessity
And now I cannot even watch the spring
The itch for subsistence having become responsibility.

Money the she-devil comes to us under many veils
Tactful at first, calling herself beauty
Tear away this disguise, she proposes paternal solicitude
Assuming the dishonest fact of duty.

Suddenly you are in bed with a screeching tear-sheet
This is money at last without her night-dress
Clutching you against her fallen udders and sharp bones
In an unscrupulous and deserved embrace.
W.B. Yeats, The Witch:
Toil and grow rich,
What's that but to lie
With a foul witch
And after, drained dry,
To be brought
To the chamber where
Lies one long sought
With despair.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Pure and Free

Kenko, Tsurezure Gusa 17 (tr. G.B. Sansom):
It is well for a man to be frugal, to abstain from luxury, to possess no treasure nor to covet this world's goods. Since olden times there has rarely been a sage who was wealthy.

In China there was once a man called Hsü Yü. He had not a single possession in the world, and even scooped up water with his hands, until a friend gave him a gourd. But one day, when he had hung it from a branch, it rattled in the wind; whereupon, disturbed by the noise, he threw it away and once more took to drinking from out of his clasped hands. How pure and free the heart of such a man.

Saturday, September 13, 2008



Jeffrey Henderson, in his commentary on Aristophanes' Lysistrata (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987; rpt. 2002), lines 421-423, discusses the importation of timber into Attica and cites [Xenophon], Constitution of the Athenians 2.11-12; Andocides 2.11; Meiggs and Lewis, A Selection of Greek Historical Inscriptions (Oxford, 1969), 91.30; and Thucydides 8.1.3. I recently noticed a mention of this in [Demosthenes] 17.28 (tr. J.H. Vince): "For they cannot allege as their excuse that there is plenty of timber for shipbuilding at Athens, where we import it with great trouble from distant parts, but that it is scarce in Macedonia, where there is a cheap supply for all who want it."

Henderson on 850-851 (ἐκκάλεσόν ... καλέσω): "The simplex normally retains the semantic force of the preceding compound, cf. 971, Eq. 253-4, 1200 ff., Nu.. 1072-4, Ve. 1334-5, Ra. 960-1, 1227-9." This idiom is also discussed byOnly Watkins' article is available to me at the moment. He writes (at 117), "The absence of any examples of this construction from Homer is striking." But it does occur in Homer at least once, in the Iliad at 9.24-25 (κατέλυσε ... λύσει).

My mother used to tell me not to frown so much, because my face would freeze in a permanent frown. She was right; it has. An Aristophanic version of my mother's admonition occurs at lines 7-8 (tr. Henderson) "Don't frown child. / Knitted brows don't become you." (μὴ σκυθρώπαζ᾽, ὦ τέκνον. / οὐ γὰρ πρέπει σοι τοξοποιεῖν τὰς ὀφρῦς).

Line 83 (tr. Henderson) could be used as a pickup line, if you're willing to risk getting your face slapped: "And what a fine set of tits you've got!" (ὡς δὴ καλὸν τὸ χρῆμα τιτθίων ἔχεις).

Update — I now see that many Homeric and other examples of the compound/simplex construction are collected by Robert Renehan, Studies in Greek Texts: Critical Observations to Homer, Plato, Euripides, Aristophanes and other Authors (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1976), pp. 11-27 ("More on Compound and Simplex Verbs").

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Death Penalty for Tree Cutting

Aelian, Historical Miscellany 5.17:
So great was superstition among the Athenians that, if someone cut down a small holm-oak from a hero's shrine, they put him to death.

Ὅτι τοσοῦτον ἦν Ἀθηναίοις δεισιδαιμονίας, εἴ τις πρινίδιον ἐξέκοψεν ἐξ ἡρῴου, ἀπέκτεινον αὐτόν.
For protection of trees in a hero's shrine, see also Pausanias 2.28.6-7 (tr. W.H.S. Jones):
Deiphontes and his children – for before this children had been born to him, Antimenes, Xanthippus, and Argeus, and a daughter, Orsobia, who, they say, afterwards married Pamphylus, son of Aegimius – took up the dead body of Hyrnetho and carried it to this place, which in course of time was named Hyrnethium.

They built for her a hero-shrine, and bestowed upon her various honors; in particular, the custom was established that nobody should carry home, or use for any purpose, the pieces that break off the olive trees, or any other trees, that grow there; these are left there on the spot to be sacred to Hyrnetho.

Δηιφόντης δὲ σὺν τοῖς παισίν—ἐγεγόνεσαν γὰρ καὶ παῖδες αὐτῷ πρότερον ἔτι υἱοὶ μὲν Ἀντιμένης καὶ Ξάνθιππός τε καὶ Ἀργεῖος, θυγάτηρ δὲ Ὀρσοβία: ταύτην Πάμφυλον τὸν Αἰγιμίου λέγουσιν ὕστερον γῆμαι:—τότε δὲ ἀναλαβόντες τὸν νεκρὸν τῆς Ὑρνηθοῦς κομίζουσιν ἐς τοῦτο τὸ χωρίον τὸ ἀνὰ χρόνον Ὑρνήθιον κληθέν.

καί οἱ ποιήσαντες ἡρῷον τιμὰς καὶ ἄλλας δεδώκασι καὶ ἐπὶ τοῖς πεφυκόσιν ἐλαίοις, καὶ εἰ δή τι ἄλλο δένδρον ἔσω, καθέστηκε νόμος τὰ θραυόμενα μηδένα ἐς οἶκον φέρεσθαι μηδὲ χρᾶσθαί σφισιν ἐς μηδέν, κατὰ χώραν δ' αὐτοῦ λείπουσιν ἱερὰ εἶναι τῆς Ὑρνηθοῦς.
Related posts:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


More on Aglaus of Psophis

Aglaus of Psophis was the ancient counterpart of Willy Lott, a man who hardly ever left his native ground. See here for some ancient testimonia about Aglaus. There is also a reference to Aglaus in Ausonius, Ludus Septem Sapientum 91-100. The only translation I could find of this passage from Ausonius is this quaint one by Edward Sherburne (Solon is speaking):
Croesus, the Tyrant King of Lydia,
Happy, and rich even to Excesse! (who wall'd
The Temples of his Gods with pure Gold) call'd
Me from my Country to him: We obey
His Royall Summons, went to Lydia,
Willing his Subjects by our means might find
Their King improv'd, and better'd in his Mind.
He asks Me whom I thought the happiest Man?
I said Telana the Athenian,
Who his life nobly for his Country gave;
He pishes at it, will another have.
I told him then Aglaus who the Bounds
Ne'r past in all his life of his own grounds.

Rex, an tyrannus, Lydiae Croesus fuit
his in beatis, dives insanum in modum,
lateribus aureis templa qui divis dabat.
Is me evocavit. Venio dicto oboediens,
meliore ut uti rege possint Lydii.
Rogat, beatum prodam, si quem noverim.
Tellum ne dico, civem non ignobilem:
pro patria pugnans iste vitam obiecerat.
Despexit, alium quaerit. Inveni Aglaum:
fines agelli proprii numquam excesserat.
A scholium on Juvenal 14.120 also mentions Aglaus:
For example, when the question was asked of the god, what person satisfied the reputation of true happiness, the happiest man was pronounced by Apollo's oracle to be Aglaus the Arcadian, who had never ventured away from his little ancestral farm.

qualis Apollinis oraculo declaratus est felicissimus Aglaus Arcas, qui numquam patrium agellum excesserat, cum a deo quaereretur, quis fidem verae felicitatis implesset.
Abraham Cowley, in The Country Life, mentions Aglaus (along with Abdalonymus and Vergil's old man of Corycia) as an example of the happy man:
Blest be the man (and blest he is) whom[e' re]
(Plac'd far out of the roads of Hope or Fear)
A little Field, and little Garden feeds;
The Field gives all that Frugal Nature needs,
The wealthy Garden liberally bestows
All she can ask, when she luxurious grows.
The specious inconveniences that wait
Upon a life of Business, and of State,
He sees (nor does the sight disturb his rest)
By Fools described, by wicked men possest.

Thus, thus (and this deserv'd great Virgils praise)
The old Corycian Yeom[a]n past his daies,
Thus his wise life Abdolonymus spent:
Th' Ambassadours which the great Emp'rour sent
To offer him a Crown, with wonder found
The reverend Gard'ner howing of his Ground.
Unwillingly and slow and discontent,
From his lov'd Cottage, to a Throne he went.
And oft he stopt in his tryumphant way,
And oft lookt back, and oft was heard to say
Not without sighs, Alas, I there forsake
A happier Kingdom then I go to take.

Thus Aglaüs (a man unknown to men,
But the gods knew and therefore lov'd him Then)
Thus liv'd obscurely then without a Name,
Aglaüs now consign'd t' eternal Fame.
For Gyges, the rich King, wicked and great,
Presum'd at wise Apollos Delphick seat
Presum'd to ask, Oh thou, the whole Worlds Eye,
See'st thou a Man, that Happier is then I?
The God, who scorn'd to flatter Man, reply'd,
Aglaüs Happier is. But Gyges cry'd,
In a proud rage, Who can that Aglaüs be?
We have heard as yet of no such King as Hee.
And true it was through the whole Earth around
No King of such a Name was to be found.
Is some old Hero of that name alive,
Who his high race does from the Gods derive?
Is it some mighty General that has done,
Wonders in fight, and God-like honours wone?
Is it some m[a]n of endless wealth, said he?
None, none of these; who can this Aglaüs bee?
After long search and vain inquiries past,
In an obscure Arcadian Vale at last,
(The Arcadian life has always shady been)
Near Sopho's Town (which he but once had seen)
This Aglaüs who Monarchs Envy drew,
Whose Happiness the Gods stood witness too,
This mighty Aglaüs was labouring found,
With his own Hands in his own little ground.

So, gracious God, (if it may lawful be,
Among those foolish gods to mention Thee)
So let me act, on such a private stage,
The last dull Scenes of my declining Age;
After long toiles and Voyages in vain,
This quiet Port let my tost Vessel gain,
Of Heavenly rest, this Earnest to me lend,
Let my Life sleep, and learn to love her End.
This is Cowley's translation of his own Latin verses in Libri Plantarum (1668) 4.1-48:
Felix, quem misera procul ambitione remotum
  Parvus ager placide parvus et hortus alit.
Praebet ager quicquid frugi Natura requirit,
  Hortus habet quicquid luxuriosa petit.
Caetera sollicitae speciosa incommoda vitae
  Permittit stultis quaerere, habere malis.

Talis erat magni memoratu digna Maronis
  Corycii quondam vita beata senis.
Talis (crediderim) tam laetus et impiger hortis
  Dives in exiguis Abdolonimus erat.
Illum damnosas runcantem gnaviter herbas
  Ecce ab Alexandro rege satelles adit.
Accipe Sidonii, vir magne, insignia regni
  Sceptrum, ait, et mitram Sidoniamque togam.
Missus in imperium tantum (quis credat?) amatam
  Dicitur invitus deseruisse casam.
Respicit ille gemens hortum: Meliora relinquo.
  Heu, ait, infelix deteriora sequor.

Talis erat generi humano vix nomine notus
  Aglaus, in parvo Dis bene notus agro.
Namque Gyges Lydas, regum ditissimus olim,
  Impius et scelerum prosperitate tumens,
Ecquis, ait, toto me fortunatior orbe est?
  Hic Clarium est ausus voce rogare deum.
Numen adulari nescit; felicior, inquit,
  Aglaus. Ille furens, Aglaus iste quis est?
An sit eo quisquam rex nomine quaerit? At illo
  Rex certe dictus nomine nullus erat.
An sit eo quisquam dux belli nomine clarus,
  Aut superis tracta nobilitate potens?
Anne aliquis praedives opum nulloque periclo
  Inter inexhaustas luxuriosus opes?
Nullus erat talis generis splendore, vel armis
  Divitiisve potens; Aglaus iste quis est?
At tandem Arcadiae vix nota in valle repertus
  (Arcadas alta quies umbraque densa tegit),
Strenuus exigui cultor prope Psophida fundi
  (Psophida sed tantum viderat ille semel.)
Invidia regum dignissimus ille repertus,
  Teste deo felix, Aglaus ille fuit.

Talis, magne deus, (si te mihi dicere fas sit
  Ridiculorum inter nomina vana deum),
Talis, vere deus, nunc inclinantibus annis
  Sit, precor, aetatis scena suprema meae,
Finis inutilium mihi sit, precor, illa laborum,
  Jactatae statio firma sit illa rati.
Sic mea caelestem praegustet vita quietem,
  Dormiat et mortem discat amare suam.
Related posts:

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


The Branch Delicate

E.B. White, Trees of Winter:
Oh, they are lovely trees that wait
    In the still hall of winter,
    Silent and good where the Good Planter
Fixed the root, wove the branch delicate.

Friendly the birches in the thin light
    By the frost sanctified,
    And here, too, silent by their side
I stand in the woods, listening, upright,

Hearing in the cold of the long pause
    Of the full year
    What trees intend that I should hear:
Interpretations of old laws...

Hearing the faint, the chickadee cry
    Of root that molders,
    Of branch bent, and leaf that withers
And little brown seed that does not die.
Neil Welliver, Birches

Monday, September 08, 2008


Butterfly Milkweed

This is the fourth in a series of notes to myself about some flowers recently planted in my yard.

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Hal Borland, Sundial of the Seasons (July 20), discusses Asclepias tuberosa:
The milkweed are in bloom and their fragrance, like a blend of tuberose and and honeysuckle, is heavy at the roadside and along the damp pond margin. The most colorful member of the family, the lovely butterfly weed, even carries the word tuberosa in its Latin name. But the common milkweed, a less showy but more abundant member of the family and the one which produces the big silvery-green pods, seems to have more fragrance, perhaps only because it is more plentiful and has more blooms to scent the air.

The milkweed are known botanically as Asclepias, and ancient lore clusters around them. Asclepius, their namesake, was the legendary god of healing. His first teacher was Charon, a centaur. Asclepius became so skillful that he could revive the dead, and Zeus, in a fit of jealousy, killed him. The serpent was sacred to Asclepius, and the serpent-twined staff of Mercury, one of the symbols of ancient medicine, can be traced to him. Whether Asclepius used milkweed juice in his potions or not, folk healers have cherished the plant for healing respiratory illness. In fact, another common name for butterfly weed is pleurisy root. Though a weed, the plant is not without distinction.

We know it chiefly as a roadside weed whose seed fluff should, but doesn't, substitute for silk, and whose juice might, but doesn't, compete with natural rubber. Country folk often eat the young milkweed shoots like asparagus. Bees love milkweed pollen, and often die entrapped in the blossoms. But in mid-Summer the milkweed is chiefly a fragrance, one of the sweetest of all the flowers at the roadside.
See also Hal Borland, This Hill, This Valley (1957; rpt. Baltimore: the Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000), pp. 108-109.

H. Peter Loewer, Thoreau's Garden: Native Plants for the American Landscape (Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 2002), p. 60, discussing Asclepias tuberosa, says, "Thoreau never mentioned this milkweed. Perhaps when he was writing the journal, the plant hadn't yet wandered east to Walden, but I'm surprised, and sorry, that he missed it."

But Thoreau did mention Asclepias tuberosa in his Journal. On Jan. 19, 1856 he notes that he hasn't found it growing in Concord. On Aug. 28, 1857 he records, "R.W.E. says that he saw Asclepias tuberosa abundant and in bloom on Naushon last week." And on Aug. 9, 1858 he writes, "Edith Emerson gives me an Asclepias tuberosa from Naushon, which she thinks is now in its prime there." Naushon is an island off Cape Cod. Loewer was probably misled by the usually thorough index to the Torrey-Allen edition of Thoreau's Journal, which has no entry for Asclepias tuberosa. Google Book Search locates the passages.

Robert Frost calls butterfly milkweed "a leaping tongue of bloom" in The Tuft of Flowers:
I went to turn the grass once after one
Who mowed it in the dew before the sun.

The dew was gone that made his blade so keen
Before I came to view the leveled scene.

I looked for him behind an isle of trees;
I listened for his whetstone on the breeze.

But he had gone his way, the grass all mown,
And I must be, as he had been,—alone,

"As all must be," I said within my heart,
"Whether they work together or apart."

But as I said it, swift there passed me by
On noiseless wing a bewildered butterfly,

Seeking with memories grown dim o'er night
Some resting flower of yesterday's delight.

And once I marked his flight go round and round,
As where some flower lay withering on the ground.

And then he flew as far as eye could see,
And then on tremulous wing came back to me.

I thought of questions that have no reply,
And would have turned to toss the grass to dry;

But he turned first, and led my eye to look
At a tall tuft of flowers beside a brook,

A leaping tongue of bloom the scythe had spared
Beside a reedy brook the scythe had bared.

[I left my place to know them by their name,
Finding them butterfly weed when I came.]

The mower in the dew had loved them thus,
By leaving them to flourish, not for us,

Nor yet to draw one thought of ours to him,
But from sheer morning gladness at the brim.

The butterfly and I had lit upon,
Nevertheless, a message from the dawn,

That made me hear the wakening birds around,
And hear his long scythe whispering to the ground,

And feel a spirit kindred to my own;
So that henceforth I worked no more alone;

But glad with him, I worked as with his aid,
And weary, sought at noon with him the shade;

And dreaming, as it were, held brotherly speech
With one whose thought I had not hoped to reach.

"Men work together," I told him from the heart,
"Whether they work together or apart."
The couplet "I left my place to know them by their name, / Finding them butterfly weed when I came" appears in all editions up to 1946, but was thenceforth dropped by Frost.

Britton & Brown (III, 24) describe the genus Asclepias thus:
Perennial erect or decumbent herbs, with opposite verticillate or rarely alternate entire leaves, and middle-sized or small flowers in terminal or axillary umbels. Calyx 5-parted or 5-divided, usually small, the segments or sepals acute, often glandular within. Corolla deeply 5-parted, the segments mostly valvate, reflexed in anthesis. Corona-column generally present. Corona of 5 concave erect or spreading hoods, each bearing within a slender or subulate incurved horn, either included or exserted. Filaments connate into a tube; anthers tipped with an inflexed membrane, winged, the wings broadened below the middle; pollen-masses solitary in each sac, pendulous on their caudicles. Stigma nearly flat, 5-angled or 5-lobed. Follicles acuminate. Seeds comose in all but one species.
Britton & Brown (III, 25) describe the species Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly-weed or -flower. Pleurisy root) thus:
Hirsute-pubescent; stems stout, simple, or branched near the summit, ascending or erect, very leafy, 1°-2° high, the milky sap scanty. Leaves alternate, lanceolate or oblong, acute or sometimes obtuse at the apex, narrowed, rounded or cordate at the base, sessile or short-petioled, 2'-6' long, 2"-12" wide; umbels cymose, terminal, many-flowered; peduncles shorter than the leaves; pedicels 1/2'-1' long; corolla-segments about 3" long, greenish orange; corona-column about 1/2" long; hoods erect, oblong, bright orange, or yellow, 2-3 times as long as the stamens, longer than the filiform horns; fruiting pedicels decurved; follicles nearly erect, finely pubescent, 4'-5' long.

In dry fields, Maine and Ontario to Minnesota, Florida, Texas, Chihuahua and Arizona. Consists of numerous races, differing in shape and size of the leaves and color of the flowers. June-Sept. Wind- or orange-root. Canada-, flux-, tuber- or white-root. Orange swallow-wort. Yellow milkweed. Indian-posy.
Related posts:

Sunday, September 07, 2008


Why Should You Be Sad?

Lu Yu, The Night Rain (tr. Pai Chwen-Yu):
The pattering rain on the empty steps quickens at night.
Frost breaks through the thin walls and the broken window.
The flying wind trembles in the slender lamp flame.
I, the old man, stand alone by a shelf of books.

Often I take books to read, and then put them back
And walk away from my room, scratching my snow-thatched head.
Daily the town inn sells a thousand gallons of wine.
The people are happy; then why should you be sad?


More Triple Correlative Conjunctions

After speculating that no one else would be interested in triple correlative conjunctions in ancient Greek, I received two emails on the subject. One email was from Dr. James K. Aitken (Cambridge University), who contributed an example from the Septuagint version of Proverbs 1:2-3:
...2 γνῶναι σοφίαν καὶ παιδείαν νοῆσαί τε λόγους φρονήσεως 3 δέξασθαί τε στροφὰς λόγων νοῆσαί τε δικαιοσύνην ἀληθῆ καὶ κρίμα κατευθύνειν...
The other email was from Professor David Whitehead (Queen's University Belfast), who pointed out to my embarrassment that:
In fact Denniston does note this phenomenon (Particles pp.504-5). After commenting in general terms that it is rare in Plato and more common in Xenophon than other historians, he quotes examples as follows [I have not verified them]:

Euripides, Bacchae 379-81;
(the two Aristophanes passages);
Herodotus 1.16;
Thucydides 1.2.3;
Plato, Parmenides 165A-B;
Xenopon, Cyropaedia 6.2.17;
Lysias 19.13;
Isocrates 3.25, 5.54;
Isaeus 6.38, 7.34;
Demosthenes 21.26, 27.16.
To atone for my carelessness in reporting about Denniston's Greek Particles, I looked up all these examples, and I reproduce below texts and translations.

Euripides, Bacchae 379-381 (tr. T.A.Tucker):
...to join in dances, to laugh with the flute, and to bring an end to cares...

θιασεύειν τε χοροῖς
μετά τ᾽ αὐλοῦ γελάσαι
ἀποπαῦσαί τε μερίμνας
Herodotus 1.16.2 (tr. Aubrey De Selincourt):
Alyattes made war on the Medes under Cyaxares, grandson of Deioces, expelled the Cimmerians from Asia, captured Smyrna, a city which had been founded by people from Colophon, and attacked Clazomenae.

οὗτος δὲ Κυαξάρῃ τε τῷ Δηιόκεω ἀπογόνῳ ἐπολέμησε καὶ Μήδοισι, Κιμμερίους τε ἐκ τῆς Ἀσίης ἐξήλασε, Σμύρνην τε τὴν ἀπὸ Κολοφῶνος κτισθεῖσαν εἷλε, ἐς Κλαζομενάς τε ἐσέβαλε.
Thucydides 1.2.3 (tr. Richard Crawley):
The richest soils were always most subject to this change of masters; such as the district now called Thessaly, Boeotia, most of the Peloponnese, Arcadia excepted, and the most fertile parts of the rest of Hellas.

μάλιστα δὲ τῆς γῆς ἡ ἀρίστη αἰεὶ τὰς μεταβολὰς τῶν οἰκητόρων εἶχεν, ἥ τε νῦν Θεσσαλία καλουμένη καὶ Βοιωτία Πελοποννήσου τε τὰ πολλὰ πλὴν Ἀρκαδίας, τῆς τε ἄλλης ὅσα ἦν κράτιστα.
Plato, Parmenides 165a-b (tr. H.N. Fowler):
Because whenever the mind conceives of any of these as belonging to the masses, another beginning appears before the beginning, another end remains after the end, and in the middle are other more central middles than the middle, but smaller, because it is impossible to conceive of each one of them, since the one does not exist.

ὅτι ἀεὶ αὐτῶν ὅταν τίς τι λάβῃ τῇ διανοίᾳ ὥς τι τούτων ὄν, πρό τε τῆς ἀρχῆς ἄλλη ἀεὶ φαίνεται ἀρχή, μετά τε τὴν τελευτὴν ἑτέρα ὑπολειπομένη τελευτή, ἔν τε τῷ μέσῳ ἄλλα μεσαίτερα τοῦ μέσου, σμικρότερα δέ, διὰ τὸ μὴ δύνασθαι ἑνὸς αὐτῶν ἑκάστου λαμβάνεσθαι, ἅτε οὐκ ὄντος τοῦ ἑνός.
Xenophon, Cyropaedia 6.2.17 (tr. Walter Miller):
And again, what would you have done, if you heard that chariots are coming which are not, as before, to stand still facing back as if for flight, but that the horses harnessed to the chariots are covered with mail, while the drivers stand in wooden towers and the parts of their body not defended by the towers are completely panoplied in breast-plates and helmets; and that scythes of steel have been fitted to the axles, and that it is the intention to drive these also into the ranks of the enemy?

ἔτι δὲ ἅρματα ἔρχεται, ἃ οὐχ οὕτως ἑστήξει ὥσπερ πρόσθεν ἀπεστραμμένα ὥσπερ εἰς φυγήν, ἀλλ' οἵ τε ἵπποι εἰσὶ κατατεθωρακισμένοι οἱ ἐν τοῖς ἅρμασιν, οἵ τε ἡνίοχοι ἐν πύργοις ἑστᾶσι ξυλίνοις τὰ ὑπερέχοντα ἅπαντα συνεστεγασμένοι θώραξι καὶ κράνεσι, δρέπανά τε σιδηρᾶ περὶ τοῖς ἄξοσι προσήρμοσται, ὡς ἐλῶντες καὶ οὗτοι εὐθὺς εἰς τὰς τάξεις τῶν ἐναντίων;
Lysias 19.13 (tr. W.R.M. Lamb):
My father, finding that these people had been accredited by Conon, and were of proved respectability and—at that time at least—in the good graces of the city, was persuaded to bestow her: he did not know the slander that was to follow.

ὁ δὲ ὁρῶν αὐτοὺς ὑπ' ἐκείνου τε πεπιστευμένους γεγονότας τε ἐπιεικεῖς τῇ τε πόλει ἔν γε τῷ τότε χρόνῳ ἀρέσκοντας, ἐπείσθη δοῦναι, οὐκ εἰδὼς τὴν ἐσομένην διαβολήν.

τῇ <τε> Reiske      γε Reiske: τε L
Isocrates 3.25-26 (tr. George Norlin):
For we see that those who are permanently ruled by kings have the greatest powers; that those who live in well-conducted oligarchies, when it comes to matters about which they are most concerned, appoint one man, in some cases a general, in others a king, to have full powers over their armies in the field; and that those who abhor absolute rule, whenever they send out many leaders, fail to accomplish a single one of their designs.

φαίνονται γὰρ οἵ τε διὰ τέλους τυραννευόμενοι μεγίστας δυνάμεις ἔχοντες, οἵ τε καλῶς ὀλιγαρχούμενοι, περὶ ἃ μάλιστα σπουδάζουσιν, οἱ μὲν ἕνα μόνον στρατηγὸν οἱ δὲ βασιλέα τῶν στρατοπέδων κύριον καθιστάντες, οἵ τε μισοῦντες τὰς τυραννίδας, ὁπόταν πολλοὺς ἄρχοντας ἐκπέμψωσιν, οὐδὲν τῶν δεόντων πράττοντες.
Isocrates 5.54 (tr. George Norlin):
And, finally, they began war upon the Phocians, expecting that in a short time they would conquer their cities, occupy all the surrounding territory, and prevail over all the treasures at Delphi by the outlay of their own funds.

τελευτῶντες δὲ πρὸς Φωκέας πόλεμον ἐξήνεγκαν ὡς τῶν τε πόλεων ἐν ὀλίγῳ χρόνῳ κρατήσοντες, τόν τε τόπον ἅπαντα τὸν περιέχοντα κατασχήσοντες, τῶν τε χρημάτων τῶν ἐν Δελφοῖς περιγενησόμενοι ταῖς ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων δαπάναις.
Isaeus 6.38 (tr. Edward Seymour Foster):
He and his son Philoctemon possess so large a fortune that both of them were able to undertake the most costly public offices without ealizing any of their capital, and at the same time to save out of their income, so that they continually grew richer.

οὕτω πολλὴν οὐσίαν ἐκέκτητο Εὐκτήμων μετὰ τοῦ ὑέος Φιλοκτήμονος, ὥστε ἅμα τά τε μέγιστα ὑμῖν λῃτουργεῖν ἀμφοτέρους τῶν τε ἀρχαίων μηδὲν πραθῆναι τῶν τε προσόδων περιποιεῖν, ὥστε ἀεί τι προσκτᾶσθαι.
Isaeus 7.34 (tr. Edward Seymour Foster):
He well knew what had been my behavior towards my father and mother, my care for my relatives and my capacity for managing my own affairs. He was well aware that in my official capacity as thesmothete I have been neither unjust nor rapacious.

εἴς τε γὰρ τὸν πατέρα καὶ τὴν μητέρα οἷος ἦν ἀκριβῶς ᾔδει, τῶν τ' οἰκείων ἐπιμελῆ καὶ τἀμαυτοῦ πράττειν ἐπιστάμενον· ἐν ἀρχῇ τε, θεσμοθετήσας, ὡς ἐγενόμην οὐκ ἄδικος οὐδὲ πλεονέκτης, ἠπίστατο σαφῶς.
Demosthenes 21.26 (tr. J.H. Vince):
For the chorus was a state-chorus, the apparel was being prepared for a public festival, and I, the aggrieved party, was official chorus-master.

ὅ τε γὰρ χορὸς ἦν τῆς πόλεως, ἥ τ' ἐσθὴς τῆς ἑορτῆς εἵνεκα πᾶσα παρεσκευάζετο, ἐγώ θ' ὁ πεπονθὼς ταῦτα χορηγὸς ἦν.
Demosthenes 27.16 (tr. A.T. Murray):
Yet, if it be shown that he made these admissions before Demochares and the others who were present; that he received from Demophon and Therippides the money accruing from the sale of the slaves in part settlement of the marriage portion; that he gave to his co-trustees a written acknowledgement that he had received the portion; and that he occupied the house immediately after the death of my father; will it not be clear—the matter being admitted by everybody—that he has received the portion, the eighty minae, and that his denial of having received it is a piece of shameless impudence?

καίτοι, εἰ φανήσεται πρός τε τὸν Δημοχάρη ταῦθ' ὡμολογηκὼς, καὶ πρὸς τοὺς ἄλλους οἳ παρῆσαν, παρά τε τοῦ Δημοφῶντος καὶ τοῦ Θηριππίδου τῶν ἀνδραπόδων εἰς τὴν προῖκα τὰς τιμὰς εἰληφώς, αὐτός θ' ἑαυτὸν ἔχειν τὴν προῖκα ἀπογράψας πρὸς τοὺς συνεπιτρόπους, οἰκῶν τε τὴν οἰκίαν, ἐπειδὴ τάχιστ' ἐτελεύτησεν ὁ πατήρ, πῶς οὐκ, ἐκ πάντων ὁμολογουμένου τοῦ πράγματος, εὑρεθήσεται φανερῶς τὴν προῖκα, τὰς ὀγδοήκοντα μνᾶς, κεκομισμένος, καὶ λίαν ἀναιδῶς μὴ λαβεῖν ἐξαρνούμενος;

Friday, September 05, 2008


Triple Correlative Conjunctions in Aristophanes

Jeffrey Henderson, in his commentary on Aristophanes, Lysistrata 40 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987; rpt. 2002), notes the triple τε (equivalent to both...and...and in English) and compares Aristophanes, Frogs 818-819. K.J. Dover, in his commentary on Aristophanes, Frogs 818-819 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), makes no mention of triple τε. The two passages, with Henderson's translations from the Loeb Classical Library, are reproduced below. Henderson's translations don't attempt to reproduce the triple conjunctions.

Aristophanes, Lysistrata 39-41:
But if the women gather together here—the Boeotian women, the Peloponnesian women, and ourselves—together we'll be able to rescue Greece.

ἢν δὲ ξυνέλθωσ᾽ αἱ γυναῖκες ἐνθάδε
αἵ τ᾽ ἐκ Βοιωτῶν αἵ τε Πελοποννησίων
ἡμεῖς τε, κοινῇ σώσομεν τὴν Ἑλλάδα.
Aristophanes, Frogs 818-821:
We'll have helmet-glinting struggles of tall-crested words, we'll have linchpin-shavings and chisel-parings of artworks as a man fends off a thought-building hero's galloping utterances.

ἔσται δ' ἱππολόφων τε λόγων κορυθαίολα νείκη
σχινδάλαμοί τε παραξονίων σμιλεύματά τ' ἔργων
φωτὸς ἀμυνομένου φρενοτέκτονος ἀνδρὸς
ῥήμαθ' ἱπποβάμονα.

819 σχινδάλαμοί Dover: σχινδαλάμων vel sim. a S παραξονίων Stanford: παραξόνια a
The last time I went to the library, I took a quick look at J.D. Denniston, Greek Particles, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954), to see if he discussed this phenomenon, but I couldn't find anything. This is a grammatical oddity that interests me, although it may interest no one else, and so I'm putting these two examples in my electronic filing cabinet (i.e. this blog).

Related posts:



Today, at my place of employment, I'll be obliged to participate in a "webinar" lasting 90 minutes. From a co-worker, who has already participated, I learned that the "webinar" consists of someone discussing a series of PowerPoint slides. Prof. Dr. Edsger W. Dijkstra (1930-2002), in his Answers to questions from students of Software Engineering, expressed perfectly my feelings about PowerPoint: "Gadgets are not necessarily an improvement, vide the succession Blackboard -> Overhead Projector -> PowerPoint." Defenceless little schoolchildren are nowadays taught how to use PowerPoint for their classroom presentations, or so I've heard.

If there is an uglier neologism than webinar, I'm not aware of it. Apparently Eric R. Korb is guilty of coining the word in 1998. Laxicographers have actually granted it admission to a dictionary (Merriam-Webster, 11th edition). It also appears, more appropriately, on the Lake Superior University 2005 List of Banished Words. Supposedly it is a combination of web and seminar. Unlike webcast, which at least has the merit of being formed from two distinct, recognizable roots, webinar gives the mistaken impression that there exists a word or root inar. Seminar is a good, honest word, from Latin seminarium (seed plot, nursery), itself from semen (seed), from which have also sprouted English disseminate, inseminate, and seminal.

Maybe there is a newly minted word even uglier than webinar. A few weeks ago, while riding in a car, I saw a sign for a company named Esultants.

Thursday, September 04, 2008



David Norton writes in an email:
As for suffix –meal, I was surprised that you omitted reference to G. M. Hopkins, whose archaizing tendency (or, I would prefer to say, whose zeal to reinvigorate modern English with elements from its earlier history) led him to coin such words as "leafmeal" in the lovely poem "Spring and Fall" (below).

Spring and Fall

to a young child

MÁRGARÉT, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, líke the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Áh! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow's spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
For many years I was puzzled by the wíll in the ninth line here, but then one day I was reading I. A. Richards, who suggested that it is not in the future tense but instead means approx. "insist on", in a way much more common in England than here.

Thinking of –meal, I recall –wise, which instead of falling out of favor has instead been corrupted, perhaps terminally. Now, instead of "in the fashion of", it is used much more often to mean "in relation to".
The Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. leaf, n.1, mentions leafmeal, defined as "adv. (nonce-wd.), with leaves fallen one by one," with a citation to Hopkin's poem, which is dated "Lydiate, Lancashire. Sept. 7 1880."

Catherine Phillips, in her edition of Hopkins' Selected Poetry (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), illustrates leafmeal with a quotation from Hopkins' Journal (Oct. 17, 1873):
Wonderful downpour of leaf: when the morning sun began to melt the frost they fell at one touch and in a few minutes a whole tree was flung of them; they lay masking and papering the ground at the foot. Then the tree seems to be looking down on its cast self as blue sky on snow after a long fall, its losing, its doing.
Late Latin foliatim (the equivalent of leafmeal) seems to be used more often of the leaves of books than of trees and other plants.

Among the examples of leafmeal revealed by Google Book Search I see several where it is clearly not an adverb but a noun, with the suffix -meal representing the noun meaning "powdery substance produced by grinding" (separate semantically and etymologically from meal = repast), e.g. "the five-fingered fronds are trodden into leafmeal" (Margaret Drabble), "wading through leafmeal" (Thomas Bolt), "seasons of clotted leafmeal" (Matthew Sharpe), "a healthy mixture of compost and leafmeal" (Jack Driscoll), etc.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Flockmeal Etc.

William Morris, A Tale of the House of the Wolfings, chap. XXX:
So when they heard her voice they came thither flockmeal, and a great throng mingled of many kindreds was in the Hall, but with one consent they made way for the Children of the Wolf to stand nearest to the dais.
Ernest Weekley, More Words Ancient and Modern (London: J. Murray, 1927), s.v. piecemeal, pp. 114-115, has some interesting things to say about English words ending with the suffix -meal:
In connection with self-help (p. 142) we shall see that a word, occasionally used as a prefix in Anglo-Saxon, survived in only one Mid. English compound, and then, from the 16th century onward, attained such vitality that its family can be counted almost by thousands. The -meal of piecemeal illustrates the opposite tendency. Piecemeal is the only modern survivor of a very common word-formation, exemplified by dozens of obsolete recorded compounds, not to mention the unlimited nonce-words that any English-speaking person, from the Anglo-Saxons onward, may have felt himself at liberty to coin.

Piecemeal is a hybrid (Fr. pièce) substituted for Anglo-Sax. styccemǣlum, from stycce, a piece. Anglo-Saxon had about ten similar compounds, some of which, such as scēafmǣlum, sheaf by sheaf, gēarmǣlum, year by year, disappeared from Mid. English, while others, such as dropmǣlum, survived into the Tudor age. Mid. English coined about ten more, including pennymeal and piecemeal. Others, such as Shakespeare's inchmeal, still occasionally used, seem to have come into use in the 16th century: "unciatim inche by inche, inchemeale" (Cooper, 1573). The only other -meal word used by Shakespeare is limb-meal, Anglo-Sax. limmǣlum: "O, that I had her here, to tear her limb-meal" (Cymbeline, ii.4).

The Anglo-Sax. -mǣlum, which became a mere suffix corresponding to the Lat. -tim of gradatim, viritim, etc., is really the instrumental plural of mǣl or māl, mark, time. It exists in modern English as meal, a repast, originally the regular time for refreshment, and as mole, a mark (on the skin). The cognate German mal means time in the sense of Fr. fois. It also occurs in the multiplicatives einmal, zweimal, etc., in denkmal, a monument (think-mark), in mal, a mole, and mahl, a repast.

In the suffix sense of -meal German uses rather -weise (cf. our -wise, -ways), as in haufenweise, which in archaic English might be rendered by heapmeal...
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), s.v. -meal, suffix, lists a number of compounds. It is surprising how many have Latin equivalents ending in -im. In the following list, I have paired Latin adverbs with their English semantic counterparts (definitions come from OED):On the Latin suffix see two articles by A. Funck, "Neue Beiträge zur Kenntnis der lateinischen Adverbia auf -im," Archiv für lateinische Lexicographie und Grammatik 7 (1892) 485-507, and "Die lateinischen Adverbia auf -im, ihre Bildung und ihre Geschichte," Archiv für lateinische Lexicographie und Grammatik 8 (1893) 77-114.

Monday, September 01, 2008


Gardey Loo

Andy Birkey, "National Lawyers Guild: What police seized was not 'weaponized' urine," The Minnesota Independent (Aug. 30, 2008), on the activities of police before the start of the Republican National Convention (RNC):
The National Lawyers Guild has released a statement about the items seized in police raids on Saturday targeting the homes of anti-RNC protesters. Of particular note: buckets of urine that Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said were going to be used against police.
Two buckets contain grey water and were being used to flush toilets, to conserve water, in the upstairs bathroom. Both were identified in the inventory as "unidentified liquid." The third bucket, as shown by inventory sheets, was seized from illegal apartment over a garage in the rear. This apartment has been occupied for several years by a person unconnected to the house occupants or the RNC. No bathroom was in the illegal apartment and urine was collected in a bucket. This was listed as "unidentified yellow liquid" in the inventory sheets.
Bruce Nestor, chapter president of the Minnesota National Lawyers Guild, further explained the grey water and urine buckets for the Minnesota Independent.
"Sheriff Fletcher does not have three buckets of urine. There are two buckets of gray water in the bathroom that were collected from a downstairs sink. It's part of a permaculture program to minimize impact on the environment. They disconnected the sink drainage from the sewer system and use it for toilet water, to use less water when they flush.

The other bucket was collected from an illegal garage apartment. The guy had been living there for years, and did not have a working toilet.

Yes, he peed in a bucket. But he did not have anything to do with the RNC. He has nothing to do with the people living in the house. He has nothing to do with protests. It was seized from an apartment that has absolutely nothing to do with the people in the home or any plan to protest the RNC."
I wonder how long the buckets will be kept in the evidence locker. The Ramsey County Sheriff's Office is not in good odor at the moment — Sheriff Fletcher's crony, Timothy Conrad Rehak, and Sheriff Fletcher's spokesman, Mark Paul Naylon, were just convicted of theft of government funds and conspiracy to violate civil rights.

On the use of chamber pots as weapons in ancient times, see Aeschylus, fragment 180 Radt (tr. Herbert Weir Smyth):
There is the man who once hurled at me (nor did he miss his aim) a missile that caused them all to laugh, even the ill-smelling chamber-pot; crashed about my head, it was shivered into shards, breathing upon me an odour unlike that of unguent-jars.

ὅδ' ἐστὶν ὅς ἀμφ' ἐμοὶ βέλος
γελωτοποιόν, τὴν κάκοσμον οὐράνην,
ἔρριψεν οὐδ' ἥμαρτε· περὶ δ' ἐμῷ κάρᾳ
πληγεῖσ' ἐναυάγησεν ὀστρακουμένη,
χωρὶς μυρηρῶν τευχέων πνέουσ' ἐμοί.
This is similar to Sophocles, fragment 565 Radt (tr. Hugh Lloyd-Jones):
But in his anger he hurled at me the stinking chamber pot, nor did he miss; and the vessel, which did not smell of myrrh, broke about my head, and I was shocked by the unpleasing smell.

ἀλλ' ἀμφὶ θυμῷ τὴν κάκοσμον οὐράνην
ἔρριψεν οὐδ' ἥμαρτε· περὶ δ' ἐμῷ κάρᾳ
κατάγνυται τὸ τεῦχος οὐ μύρου πνέον·
ἐδειματούμην δ' οὐ φίλης ὀσμῆς ὕπο.
Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers 2.36 (tr. R.D. Hicks), tells the following anecdote about Socrates and his wife Xanthippe, which is also preserved in other ancient authors:
When Xanthippe first scolded him and then drenched him with water, his rejoinder was, "Did I not say that Xanthippe's thunder would end in rain?"

πρὸς Ξανθίππην πρότερον μὲν λοιδοροῦσαν, ὕστερον δὲ καὶ περιχέασαν αὐτῷ, "οὐκ ἔλεγον," εἶπεν, "ὅτι Ξανθίππη βροντῶσα καὶ ὕδωρ ποιήσει;"
Seneca, On the Firmness of the Wise Man (De Constantia Sapientis) 18.6 (tr. John W. Basore):
Let us turn to the examples of those whose endurance we commend—for instance to that of Socrates, who took in good part the published and acted gibes directed against him in comedies, and laughed as heartily when his wife Xanthippe drenched him with foul water.

Respiciamus eorum exempla, quorum laudamus patientiam, ut Socratis, qui comoediarum publicatos in se et spectatos sales in partem bonam accepit risitque non minus quam cum ab uxore Xanthippe immunda aqua perfunderetur.
Athenaeus 5.219 b (tr. C.D. Yonge):
Xantippe was an ill-tempered woman, who even poured slops over his head.

Ξανθίππη χαλεπὴ ἦν γυνή, ἥτις καὶ νιπτῆρας αὐτοῦ κατέχει τῆς κεφαλῆς.
A lost work of Seneca On Marriage (De Matrimonio) is probably the source of St. Jerome, Against Jovinianus 1.48 (tr. W.H. Fremantle):
On one occasion when he opposed Xantippe, who from above was heaping abuse upon him, the termagant soused him with dirty water, but he only wiped his head and said, "I knew that a shower must follow such thunder as that."

Quodam autem tempore cum infinita convicia ex superiori loco ingerenti Xanthippae restitisset, aqua perfusus immunda nihil amplius respondit quam capite deterso: "sciebam, inquit, futurum, ut ista tonitrua imber sequeretur."
Chaucer alludes to the story in the Wife of Bath's Tale:
How Xantippa caste pisse upon his heed,
This sely man sat stille as he were deed;
He wipte his heed, namoore dorste he seyn,
But 'Er that thonder stynte, comth a reyn!'
Socrates and Xanthippe, from Otto Vaenius, Emblemata Horatiana (1607)

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