Thursday, January 31, 2013


Remember the Sabbath Day, to Keep It Holy

Robert Southey, "Written on Sunday Morning," in his Poems, 3rd ed., Vol. I (Bristol: Biggs and Cottle, 1799), pp. 58-60 (dated 1795):
  Go thou and seek the House of Prayer!
  I to the Woodlands wend, and there
In lovely Nature see the GOD OF LOVE.
  The swelling organ's peal
  Wakes not my soul to zeal,
Like the wild music of the wind-swept grove.
The gorgeous altar and the mystic vest
Rouse not such ardor in my breast
  As where the noon-tide beam
  Flash'd from the broken stream,
Quick vibrates on the dazzled sight;
  Or where the cloud-suspended rain
  Sweeps in shadows o'er the plain;
Or when reclining on the clift's huge height
I mark the billows burst in silver light.

Go thou and seek the House of Prayer!
I to the Woodlands shall repair,
Feed with all Nature's charms mine eyes,
And hear all Nature's melodies.
The primrose bank shall there dispense
Faint fragrance to the awaken'd sense;
The morning beams that life and joy impart,
Shall with their influence warm my heart,
And the full tear that down my cheek will steal,
Shall speak the prayer of praise I feel!

  Go thou and seek the House of Prayer!
I to the woodlands bend my way
  And meet RELIGION there!
She needs not haunt the high-arch'd dome to pray
Where storied windows dim the doubtful day:
With LIBERTY she loves to rove,
  Wide o'er the heathy hill or cowslip'd dale;
Or seek the shelter of the embowering grove,
  Or with the streamlet wind along the vale.
Sweet are these scenes to her, and when the night
Pours in the north her silver streams of light,
She woos Reflection in the silent gloom,
And ponders on the world to come.
By a Lady [i.e. Anna Letitia Barbauld], in The Gentleman's Magazine (March 1799) 237:
"Go thou and seek the House of Prayer,
I to the woodlands wend, &c.

Yes, Southey, yes, I to the House of Prayer,
Each Sabbath Day, wilt duly bend my step,
For God himself requires my presence there:
The sacred fane at his command arose,
And one blest day in seven he calls his own.
On Sinai's holy mount th' ALMIGHTY said,
"MAKE ME A SANCTUARY;" in mystic state
There, with his people, high communion held;
There, from the mercy-seat, his voice was heard
Revealing hallow'd truths to favour'd man.

And when, among the wise and good, the time
That man refus'd to join in holy worship?
The Heathen temple, and the Turkish mosque,
The Jewish synagogue, and Christian church
Have all resounded with a social praise.
Shall I then go, like thee, in churlish, wild,
Or solitary mood, to the lone vale,
The silent glen, or unfrequented grove,
When from the neighb'ring spire the cheerful bells
Call us in sweet society to join,
And offer holy pray'r?—With grateful love,
FATHER of Spirits, hail! behold I come!
Fill'd be my soul with reverential awe,
When' in thy House I hear thy SACRED WORD,
Disclosing truths majestic, strong, severe,
Such as may make Vice tremble; while, in strains
Of heavenly sweetness to the troubled heart,
It whispers comfort and eternal rest.

Yet too, like thee, Southey, I deem it sweet
Widely to rove, where by no human eye
My footsteps may be trac'd; down the deep dell,
Where rocks on rocks are pil'd above my head,
To penetrate, and mark where, thro' their clefts,
The fibrous roots of some old elm, or yew,
Shoot bare, and rugged; whilst their trunks ascend
In shape grotesque and rude, excluding day.
How does my pensive soul, in these lone scenes,
Remote from mortal tread, delight to dwell,
Where I on Nature, and on Nature's God,
In calm repose, can meditate profound!

Sweet also to my ear, sweet as to thine,
Are Nature's melodies; the lowing herd,
The distant bell, that speaks the fold at rest;
The gushing rill, which, thro' the crevic'd rock
Distills its freshness; the low-murmuring bee,
And cooing stock-dove; all awake my heart,
Southey, like thine, to tenderness and love.

Yet on this day, hallow'd by ages past,
To which exhausted Labour looks for rest,
And Tumult for the hour of sacred peace,
My feet shall hasten from their sylvan haunt,
Tho' sweet as fabling poets ever sung,
Mine ear thy warbling Philomel forego,
And all the woodland harmony of Spring,
To raise with man a nobler strain of praise;
Man, who alone, of all Creation, knows
His MAKER to adore with vocal praise.

Whether the village church attracts my steps,
Whose simple bell calls from the hamlets round
Their meek inhabitants, to praise their GOD,
Where all is decent, quiet, plain, and fit,
And untaught voices hymn their MAKER'S praise;
Or whether, in some old cathedral pile
I find myself inclos'd, with cloister'd pillars,
Long Gothic ailes, and windows richly dim,
Where, slowly rising to the pealing sound
Of swelling organ, the loud-echoing chant,
And lofty anthem, raise th' enraptur'd soul;
Alike I own thy presence, hear thy word!
Nor would I, Southey, for the world forego
This dearest privilege to man allow'd,
Due, as the Sun each Sabbath Day shall shine,
To meet, with kindred man, the PARENT GOD.
Hafiz [i.e. Thomas Stott], "To Mr. Southey. On reading his beautiful, but seductive Ode, written on Sunday Morning," The Gentleman's Magazine (November 1801) 1029:
  Go, Southey, to the House of Pray'r,
  And humbly and devoutly there
Adore the God of Goodness and of Love;
  Let the loud organ's peal,
  With corresponding zeal
Thy tuneful bosom ev'ry Sunday move.
  Sweet Bard of Bristol! who canst wake the lyre
  With so much energy and fire,
  To captivate Attention's heart,
  Ah! let not thy enchanting art
  Be exercis'd to lead astray
  The young, the giddy, and the gay,
Too prone by nature to neglect and spurn
Religion's holy call, and from her temple turn.

  Go, Southey, to the House of Pray'r,
  And set a good example there
To those who wander in the world's wild ways;
  Devote a portion of thy precious time
  To Piety as well as Rhyme,
And socially assist in thy Creator's praise.
  Six days, each week, are surely long
  Enough for all the other aims of song—
  For visiting the lonely woodland bow'rs,
  And gath'ring sweet poetic flow'rs
Along each sunny bank and silver stream:
  Then to the House of Pray'r
  Each seventh day repair,
And let Jehovah's praise that day be thy sole theme.

Go, Southey, to the House of Pray'r;
  'Tis likelier on a Sabbath-day
  Thou'lt meet Religion there:
She loves not always in the wilds to stray;
The friend of man, she loves among mankind to stay.
  Tho' sometimes she her vot'ries lead
    To heathy hill or cowslip'd dale,
  Or shady grove, or sunny mead,
    Or by the streamlet in the vale;
Yet she's no savage wand'rer, Southey, no!
  No Anchoret, of gloom and silence fond;
No hippish matron, clouded still in woe,
  And subject to despond;
But social, cheerful, and serene,
Of simplest manners, sweetest mien,
Her mild instructions she imparts,
To mend our morals, and to cheer our hearts
With brightest prospects of perennial bliss
In future worlds, if we act right in this.
Related posts:

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Golden Aurora's Friend

From Karl Maurer:
Michael, regarding Aurora, friend to the Muses – I was reminded of this poem by Pushkin. (‘The Work’, ‘Trud’, is ‘Eugene Onegin’ which he had just finished. The translation is Vladimir Nabokov’s.)

The Work

Come is the moment I craved: my work of long years is completed.
    Why then this strange sense of woe secretly harrowing me?
Having my high task performed, do I stand, as a useless day-laborer
    Stands, with his wages received, foreign to all other toil?
Or am I sorry to part with my work, night's silent companion,
    Golden Aurora's friend, friend of the household gods?

Boldino, Sept. 25, 1830, 3:15


Миг вожделенный настал: окончен мой труд многолетний.
    Что ж непонятная грусть тайно тревожит меня?
Или, свой подвиг свершив, я стою, как поденщик ненужный,
    Плату приявший свою, чуждый работе другой?
Или жаль мне труда, молчаливого спутника ночи,
    Друга Авроры златой, друга пенатов святых?


Never-Failing Friends

Robert Southey (1774-1843), "Occasional Pieces," XVIII (written at Keswick, 1818):
My days among the Dead are past;
    Around me I behold,
Where'er these casual eyes are cast,
    The mighty minds of old:
My never-failing friends are they,
With whom I converse day by day.

With them I take delight in weal
    And seek relief in woe;
And while I understand and feel
    How much to them I owe,
My cheeks have often been bedew'd
With tears of thoughtful gratitude.

My thoughts are with the Dead; with them
    I live in long-past years,
Their virtues love, their faults condemn,
    Partake their hopes and fears;
And from their lessons seek and find
Instruction with an humble mind.

My hopes are with the Dead; anon
    My place with them will be,
And I with them shall travel on
    Through all Futurity;
Yet leaving here a name, I trust,
That will not perish in the dust.

Adolph von Menzel,
Dr. Puhlmann's Bookcase



Simon Schama, The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), p. 257:
An oriental cornucopia lay chaotically heaped about the decks, and Pepys duly succumbed to that old occidental fever: the delirium imperialis.
Read delirium imperiale, or perhaps delirium imperii.

Id., p. 326:
The new miles Christianum, the Christian knight, had to meet his enemies — cupidity, lust, pride, and vanity — head-on in the lists of day-to-day business.
Read miles Christianus.

Id., p. 327:
In 1561, the annual procession through the city, the ommegang of the Feast of the Circumcision staged by one of its chambers of rhetoric, was devoted to the circulus vicissitudinis rerum humanorum — the fatal cycle of worldly fortune.
Read circulus vicissitudinis rerum humanarum.

At the rear, in front of Idle Pleasure (Vana Volupta) walks the figure of False Joy blowing the bubbles of her ephemerality.
Read Vana Voluptas.

Aristophanes, Acharnians. Knights. Edited and Translated by Jeffery Henderson (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998 = Loeb Classical Library, 178), p. 112 (Acharnians 436):
"ἐνσκευάσασθαί μ᾽ οἷον ἀθλιώτατον."
Henderson doesn't translate the line, and in his critical apparatus he notes:
436 (= 384) del. Dobree
The line should be enclosed by square brackets, then, not by quotation marks. N.G. Wilson in his Oxford Classical Text edition retains the line.

Id., p. 118 (Acharnians 490):
τί δράσεις; τί φήσεις; <εὖ> ἴσθι νυν...
There is nothing in Henderson's critical apparatus for this line. Credit for the supplement <εὖ> should be given to Meineke.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Would I Were a Good Grammarian

Joseph Justus Scaliger (1540–1609), in Prima Scaligeriana, Nusquam antehac Edita (Utrecht: Peter Elzevir, 1670), p. 59:
Utinam essem bonus Grammaticus; sufficit enim ei qui auctores omnes probe vult intelligere esse bonum Grammaticum. Porro quicumque Doctos Viros, grammaticos pour tout potage vocant, sunt ipsi indoctissimi, idque semper observabis. Non aliunde dissidia in Religione pendent, quam ab ignoratione Grammaticae.
Translated by Eva M. Sanford, Classical Journal 26.4 (January 1931) 280:
Would I were a good grammarian: that is the one essential for a sound understanding of all the authors. Whoever call men of any learning grammarians, pour tout potage, are themselves invariably utter dunces. Ignorance of grammar is the one source of dissent in religion.
Pour tout potage = pour toute chose (Littré). Update from Pierre Wechter:
Littré, yes, of course; but "grammaticos pour tout potage" = 'mere grammarians', 'grammarians and nothing more'. Scarron, Virgile travesti: "(Tu) n'es pour tout potage / Qu'un bourguemestre de Carthage".
Another translation, from The French Anas, Vol. II (London: Richard Phillips, 1805), p. 115:
I wish I were a skilful grammarian. No one can understand any author, without a thorough knowledge of grammar. Those who pretend to undervalue learned grammarians, are arrant blockheads without any exception. From whence proceed so many dissensions in religious matters, but from ignorance of grammar?


Aurora Musis Amica Est

Erasmus, letter to Christian Northoff (tr. R.A.B. Mynors and D.F.S. Thomson):
And do not be ashamed to ask questions if you are in doubt, or to be put right whenever you are wrong. Avoid working at night and studying at unsuitable times and seasons; these things quench the light of the mind and are very bad for health. Aurora is the Muses' friend: daybreak is an excellent time for study. After lunch, take some recreation, or go for a walk, or enjoy gay conversation; reflect that even such activities as these can afford opportunity for studying. As to food, eat only what suffices for health, and not so much as you long to eat. Take a short walk before supper, and again after it. Just before you go to sleep you should read something of exquisite quality, worth remembering; let sleep overtake you while you are musing upon it and when you awaken try to recall it to mind. Always keep fixed in your heart Pliny's dictum [Letters 3.5.16] that all the time which one fails to devote to study is wasted, and reflect that youth is the most fleeting thing on earth, and that when once it has fled away it never returns.

Nec sciscitari si quid dubitas, nec castigari si quid errabis, sit pudor. Nocturnas lucubrationes atque intempestiva studia fugito; nam et ingenium extinguunt et valetudinem vehementer offendunt. Aurora Musis amica est, apta studiis. Pransus aut lude, aut deambula, aut hilarius confabulare. Quid quod inter ista quoque studiis locus esse potest? Cibi non quantum libidini, sed quantum valetudini satis est sumito. Sub coenam paulisper inambula, coenatus idem facito. Sub somnum exquisiti quippiam ac dignum memoria legito, de eo cogitantem sopor opprimat, id experrectus a teipso reposcas. Plinianum illud semper animo insideat tuo, omne perire tempus quod studio non impertias. Cogita iuventa nihil esse fugacius, quae ubi semel avolarit, redit nunquam.

Ozias Leduc, The Young Student

Monday, January 28, 2013


The Ad-Man

A.S.J. Tessimond (1902-1962), "Attack on the Ad-Man:"
This trumpeter of nothingness, employed
To keep our reason dull and null and void,
This man of wind and froth and flux will sell
The wares of any who reward him well.
Praising whatever he is paid to praise,
He hunts for ever-newer, smarter ways
To make the gilt seem gold; the shoddy, silk;
To cheat us legally; to bluff and bilk
By methods which no jury can prevent
Because the law's not broken, only bent.

This mind for hire, this mental prostitute
Can tell the half-lie hardest to refute;
Knows how to hide an inconvenient fact
And when to leave a doubtful claim unbacked;
Manipulates the truth, but not too much,
And if his patter needs the Human Touch,
Then aptly artless, artlessly naïve,
Wears his fickle heart upon his sleeve.

He takes ideas and trains them to engage
In the long little wars big combines wage.
He keeps his logic loose, his feelings flimsy;
Turns eloquence to cant and wit to whimsy;
Trims language till it fits his client's pattern
And style's a glossy tart or limping slattern.

He uses words that once were strong and fine,
Primal as sun and moon and bread and wine,
True, honourable, honoured, clear and clean,
And leaves them shabby, worn, diminished, mean.

Where our defence is weakest, he attacks.
Encircling reason's fort, he finds the cracks,
He knows the hopes and fears on which to play.
We who at first rebel, at last obey.
We who have tried to choose accept his choice.
Tired, we succumb to his untiring voice.
The drip-drip-drip makes even granite soften.
We trust the brand-name we have heard so often
And join the queue of sheep that flock to buy;
We fools who know our folly, you and I.
Id., "Defence of the Ad-Man:"
He brings us aims and dreams and drugs; he tells
Us fairy-tales that half come true or might.
The patent panaceas that he sells
May be placebos, but placebos can
Act like elixirs; syrups have their spells,
And coloured water sometimes can assuage
A thirst for draughts from unattainable wells.

He binds us with a frayed but silver rope.
He peddles jewels false perhaps but bright.
He kindles flares that beckon eyes that grope.
His ‘you, you, you’ consoles the lonely man
And humble woman. With permitted dope
He medicines the sickness of our age;
Offers the ugly, glamour; the hopeless, hope.
Tessimond worked as an advertising copywriter.


A Happy Metamorphosis

Robert Southey (1774-1843), "The Filbert," lines 28-42:
Man also hath his dangers and his foes
As this poor Maggot hath; and when I muse
Upon the aches, anxieties, and fears,
The Maggot knows not, Nicholas, methinks
It were a happy metamorphosis
To be enkernell'd thus: never to hear
Of wars, and of invasions, and of plots,
Kings, Jacobines, and Tax-commissioners;
To feel no motion but the wind that shook
The Filbert Tree, and rock'd us to our rest;
And in the middle of such exquisite food
To live luxurious! the perfection this
Of snugness! it were to unite at once
Hermit retirement, Aldermanic bliss,
And Stoic independence of mankind.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Tzu-lu, Yü, and the Great Shun

Mencius II.A.8 (tr. D.C. Lau):
Mencius said, "Whenever anyone told him that he had made a mistake, Tzu-lu was delighted. Whenever he heard a fine saying, Yü bowed low before the speaker. The Great Shun was even greater. He was ever ready to fall into line with others, giving up his own ways for theirs, and glad to take from others that by which he could do good."


Boxes and Bags of Books

Excerpts from Norman Clyde of the Sierra Nevada. Rambles Through the Range of Light. 29 Essays on the Mountains by Norman Clyde. Foreword by Francis Farquhar & Prologue by Jules Eichorn with a long letter from Smoke Blanchard & 15 photographs of the Old Gaffer (San Francisco: Scrimshaw Press, 1971).

Pp. [3-4] ("long letter from Smoke Blanchard"):
By coincidence, your letter from Alaska asking me about Norman arrived the same day we went to Big Pine to see him. He is in the Sanitorium there, with a little flu and on top of that his leg is acting up again and he couldn't walk very well. He had a grocery box of books brought down from the Baker Creek cabin, and was churning through Goethe in German, with a six-inch thick dictionary, which he picked up at a rummage sale in Bishop, and a New Testament in Portuguese which he bought for Spanish but was reading anyway. On his night stand was a Life of Napoleon in French, which he has already read three times.


We camped on a little snow-free patch of rock on the frozen lake in the Palisades that early-season trip long ago. I can still remember my awe at the collection of gear Norman drew out of his duffle bag....A book for evening reading? Well, Norman usually travels alone and on long trips, so he had a rather large library in many languages. "They last longer, especially the Greek as I'm usually a little rusty in that."
P. [12] ("Prologue by Jules Eichorn"):
And his tremendous pack contained not only a complete commissary kit, assorted nails, wire, extra boots, throw-in-the-lake cameras (at one time I counted five) and many other various and sundry articles, but books of poetry and prose from the greatest classical authors in original German, French, Spanish, Italian, and sometimes English.
P. 58 ("long letter from Smoke Blanchard"):
He considered himself a fine fisherman, and indeed he was. He would not fish unless they were biting. He would lie all afternoon in the sun reading Dumas in French, gazing out across the lake to check for ripples, and when he thought there was enough breeze on the surface for fly fishing he would be off for one circuit of the lake and return with his limit of golden trout.
P. 60 ("long letter from Smoke Blanchard"):
For forty years or so Norman really had no permanent year-around home, as he always had to vacate for the tourist and fishing season. This suited him in spite of the grumbling about removing all his valuable collection of shovels and ice axes, his rope-weaved snowshoes, his rusty traps, his more than a score of large boxes of ancient, squirrel-gnawed classics, his boots and boot nails and hatchets and saws, the three-foot and five-foot and seven-foot skis, the boxes and boxes of photographs and writings, and the twenty tool boxes of handguns he sometimes brought down to be stored in the valley for greater safety.
P. 166 ("long letter from Smoke Blanchard"):
When he comes to our house nowadays, he may sit in the straight-backed chair by the window, with his old campaign hat on to shade his good eye from the overhead light, and read for most of the day and into the evening, stopping only for his three squares and a snooze and a bit of a blast now and then at something. If a book is on the davenport he will pick it up, and if the title reads anything like The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana or The Affluent Society or God and Man at Yale, he drops it instantly and heaves to his feet to follow the well-worn path to to the section of our bookcase where his thumbprints mark Some Problems of Pleistocene Morphology, Land and Land Forms, Life on the Arctic Slope, etc.

John Singer Sargent, Inside a Tent in the Canadian Rockies

Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


The Last of the Victorians

Kenneth J. Reckford, "Shameless Interests: The Decent Scholarship of Indecency," American Journal of Philology 117.2 (Summer 1996), pp. 311-314 (at 311):
How strange they seem now, all those expurgated editions, those unhelpful commentaries, those mystery-keeping professors. Like Byron, we all had comic encounters with the "grosser parts":
They only add them all in an appendix,
Which saves, in fact, the trouble of an index...
Perhaps we worked harder than Byron. I remember, early on, struggling with Cat. 56 (which even Housman misinterpreted in his notorious 1931 "Praefanda," for Catullus does not look on, masturbating, but plunges in, making a threesome); and I struggled with Martial. I may even, at sixteen, have been the last of the Victorians, learning about sexual by-paths from Latin poetic grammar and syntax. (Loebs were forbidden under pain of death: but had I consulted Ker's Martial, I would have found the offending passages translated into Italian, not English: "On the theory," Rolfe Humphries once said, "that God doesn't understand Italian.") We laughed; it was good fun. Yet our half-prurient inquisitiveness was mixed with genuine philological research; we resented roadblocks to learning; and years later, when Fordyce's Catullus appeared with twenty-two "dirty poems" left out, we felt absolutely betrayed.
Related post: Bowdlerization.


Nihil Est Mihi Amicius Solitudine

Cicero, Letters to Atticus 12.15 (March 9, 45 BC, after the death of his daughter; tr. E.O. Winstedt):
In this solitude I don't speak to a soul. In the morning I hide myself in a dense and wild wood, and I don't come out till the evening. After you I have not a greater friend than solitude. In it my only converse is with books.

in hac solitudine careo omnium colloquio, cumque mane me in silvam abstrusi densam et asperam, non exeo inde ante vesperum. secundum te nihil est mihi amicius solitudine. in ea mihi omnis sermo est cum litteris.

Friday, January 25, 2013



Geoffrey Lewis, "Etymologist's Quicksand," Arabicus Felix: Luminosus Britannicus. Essays in Honour of A.F.L. Beeston on his Eightieth Birthday, ed. Alan Jones (Reading: Ithaca Press, 1991), pp. 236-239 (at 236-237):
But it often happens that 'the same word' in two unrelated languages fortuitously has the same meaning in both. Old Turkish ayıttı, like Latin ait, 'quoth he'. R.A. Fuller uses the term 'look-alikes' for 'forms that resemble each other in sound and meaning but in which the resemblance is totally without linguistic significance. Old Japanese kaF-u 'buy' certainly resembles German kaufen; and Old Japanese Fone means 'bone'' (The Japanese Language, Chicago 1967, p. 61). He goes on, however, to say: 'It is comparatively easy to persuade even the non-specialist that such coincidences between individual forms are sheer accidents'.

Here I must disagree. In the first place, it is sometimes very hard indeed to persuade non-specialists that English jubilee and jubilation are not etymologically related, any more than sorry and sorrow are, or that no etymological connection has yet been shown between English bad and Persian bad (meaning 'bad'). In the second place, Fuller has probably never had to deal with enthusiastic amateurs who have discovered in Turkish the key to Etruscan. 'If you admit that Tarquin is an ancient Etruscan title and that Tarkhan is an ancient Turkish title, why won't you go one step further and concede that they are the same word?' When I hardened my heart and told one such that her list of correspondences was of no use because all the Turkish words she cited were Persian or Arabic borrowings that had been unknown to the Turks before the tenth century AD at the earliest, she replied indignantly, 'How can you be so pedantic when the lives of whole peoples are at stake?' Though very much annoyed, she was quite undeterred, and for many years continued to bombard me with news of the progress of her investigations.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.


Thursday, January 24, 2013


Let's Live

Joachim du Bellay (ca. 1522-1560), Les Regrets, no. 53 (my translation):
Let's live, Gordes, live, live, and despite the grumbling
   of old men, let's not stop our merry-making:
   let's live, since life is so short and so precious,
   and even kings have only temporary enjoyment of it.
Day fades into night, and in the morning glows again,
   and the seasons repeat their familiar progression:
   but when man has lost this sweet light,
   death makes him sleep for one night without end.
Will we then imitate a beast's existence?
   No, instead, always lifting our heads toward the sky,
   We will taste now and then the sweetness of pleasure.
He is truly a fool who, trading the certainty
   of an immediate benefit for an unstable hope,
   is always willing to thwart his own desire.
Here is the French text from the elegantly printed first edition (Paris: Federic Morel, 1558), followed by a transcription:

Viuons (Gordes) uiuons, uiuons, & pour le bruit
   Des uieillards ne laissons à faire bonne chere:
   Viuons, puis que la uie est si courte & si chere,
   Et que mesmes les Roys n'en ont que l'usufruit.
Le iour s'esteint au soir, & au matin reluit,
   Et les saisons refont leur course coustumiere:
   Mais quand l'homme a perdu ceste doulce lumiere,
   La mort luy fait dormir une eternelle nuict.
Donq imiterons-nous le uiure d'une beste?
   Non, mais deuers le ciel leuans tousiours la teste,
   Gousterons quelque fois la doulceur du plaisir.
Celuy urayement est fol, qui changeant l'asseurance
   Du bien qui est present en douteuse esperance,
   Veult tousiours contredire à son propre desir.
Latinists will recognize the influence of the first six lines of Catullus' fifth poem on du Bellay's exquisite sonnet:
Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus,
rumoresque senum severiorum
omnes unius aestimemus assis!
soles occidere et redire possunt:
nobis cum semel occidit brevis lux,
nox est perpetua una dormienda.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


The Root of All Evil

Timocreon, Poetae Melici Graeci, no. 731 (a drinking song, tr. M.L. West):
Blind god of wealth, you never ought
to have appeared on land or sea
or anywhere: you ought to stay
in Tartarus, by Acheron,
for all men's ills are due to you.

ώφελέν σ᾽, ὦ τυφλὲ Πλοῦτε,
μήτε γῇ μήτ' ἐν θαλάσσῃ
μήτ' ἐν ἠπείρῳ φανῆμεν,
ἀλλὰ Τάρταρόν τε ναίειν
κ᾽Αχέροντα· διὰ σὲ γὰρ πάντ᾽
  αἰὲν ἀνθρώποις κακά.
Aristophanes, Acharnians 532-534 (tr. Jeffrey Henderson), refers to Timocreon's verses:
[Pericles] started making decrees like drinking songs, that Megarians should abide neither on land nor in market nor on sea nor on shore.

ἐτίθει νόμους ὥσπερ σκόλια γεγραμμένους,
ὡς χρὴ Μεγαρέας μήτε γῇ μήτ᾽ ἐν ἀγορᾷ
μήτ᾽ ἐν θαλάττῃ μήτ᾽ ἐν οὐρανῷ μένειν.
A version of Timocreon by "Verbeianus" in Classical Journal XXX (June 1817) 313:
Blind Plutus, god of wealth! nor isle, nor sea,
    Nor continent were made for thee.
    Aroynt thee, imp! to Tart'rus go,—
To Stygian darkness, and the shades below.
    For sure, if aught upon this earth
    Savoureth of ill, thou gavest it birth:
    From thee all evil thoughts began,
    Thou great, first ruiner of man.
By Goldwin Smith:
Would thou'dst ne'er been by mortals seen,
  Blind wealth, on earth or sea;
But doom'd to dwell in deepest Hell:
  Our woes are all from thee.
By George Burges:
Blind Plutus, oh! I would that ne'er
Thou hadst been seen on earth, or air,
Or sea; but dwelt where Acheron flows;
For man to thee all mischief owes.
By John Addington Symonds:
Would, blind Wealth, that thou hadst been
Ne'er on land or ocean seen,
Nowhere on this upper earth!
Hell's black stream that gave thee birth
Is the proper haunt for thee,
Cause of all man's misery!


Give Me the Old

Robert Hinckley Messinger (1811-1874), "Give Me the Old," in The Poets and Poetry of America, ed. Rufus Wilmot Griswold (Philadelphia: Carey and Hart, 1848), p. 528 (where it is attributed to anonymous):

    Old wine to drink!
Ay, give the slippery juice
That drippeth from the grape thrown loose
        Within the tun;
Plucked from beneath the cliff
Of sunny-sided Teneriffe,
    And ripened 'neath the blink
        Of India's sun!
        Peat whiskey hot,
Tempered with well-boiled water!
These make the long night shorter,—
        Forgetting not
Good stout old English porter.

    Old wood to burn!
Ay, bring the hill-side beech
From where the owlets meet and screech,
        And ravens croak;
The crackling pine, and cedar sweet;
Bring too a clump of fragrant peat,
    Dug 'neath the fern;
        The knotted oak,
        A fagot too, perhap,
Whose bright flame dawning, winking,
Shall light us at our drinking;
        While the oozing sap
Shall make sweet music to our thinking.

    Old books to read!
Ay, bring those nodes of wit,
The brazen-clasp'd, the vellum writ,
        Time-honored tomes!
The same my sire scanned before,
The same my grandsire thumbed o'er,
The same his sire from college bore,
    The well-earned meed
        Of Oxford's domes:
        Old HOMER blind,
Mort ARTHUR's olden minstrelsie,
Quaint BURTON, quainter SPENSER, ay!
And GERVASE MARKHAM's venerie—
        Nor leave behind
The Holye Book by which we live and die.

    Old friends to talk!
Ay, bring those chosen few,
The wise, the courtly, and the true,
        So rarely found;
Him for my wine, him for my stud,
Him for my easel, distich, bud
    In mountain-walk!
        Bring WALTER good,
With soulful FRED, and learned WILL,
And thee, my alter ego, (dearer still
        For every mood.)
These add a bouquet to my wine!
These add a sparkle to my pine!
        If these I tine,
Can books, or fire, or wine be good?
In the penultimate line, "tine" means "lose." The poem apparently first appeared in the New York American (April 26, 1838). On the motto, see Francis Bacon, Apophthegms New and Old 97 (75):
Alonso of Arragon was wont to say, in commendation of age, That age appeared to be best in four things: Old wood best to burn; old wine to drink; old friends to trust; and old authors to read.


Shanghai Electric Companies

Once upon a time, during my life as a corporate drone, the CEO deigned to visit our small regional laboratory. Before and during his visit, local management blocked employee access to the bathroom, because they didn't want any foul proletarian smells to offend the fastidious CEO, if he needed to use the facilities. My friend and former co-worker Jim K. may have been reminded of this episode when he told me about protests over bathroom restrictions at an electric company in Shanghai, China, as reported in Wang Zhenghua and Wang Hongy, "Company agrees to worker demands," China Daily (January 23, 2013):
Executives of a Japanese company made basic concessions to the demands of their labor force on Tuesday, after outraged workers trapped management staff, including 10 Japanese, in their offices when protesting against new regulations last week.

Eighteen management staff were stopped from leaving their offices by about 1,000 workers at Shanghai Shinmei Electric on Friday morning, and were not released until Saturday night when police managed to break through the crowd.

The company, which supplies switches and other components to electronics giants such as Sony, Sharp and Nokia, said it scrapped the proposed regulation that prompted the protest, and promised a pay raise.

"I have apologized many times, to the workers, to the police and to the labor inspection department," Li Xiupeng, the company's president, said at a meeting responding to the workers' demands on Tuesday.

"But not everybody is perfect. Who can be entirely free from error?" he added.

The protest was triggered by the new 49-item regulation proposed by the company that include terms that would have seen workers hit with fines of up to 50 yuan ($8) for being late for work, or using the toilet for more than two minutes at a time. Workers said they earn less than 2,000 yuan per month at the factory.
The least management could do is give all employees colostomy bags, so they won't need to go to the toilet during working hours.

This story interested me because my grandfather, Roy Emory Gilleland, was on the "management staff" of an electric company in Shanghai, China—Anderson, Meyer, and Co., Ltd. See Christopher Bo Bramsen, Open Doors: Vilhelm Meyer and the Establishment of General Electric in China (London: Curzon Press, 2001), p. 285:
In Shanghai Vilhelm Meyer's long-time colleague, R.E. Gilleland, was appointed deputy manager of A.M. & Co. in charge of daily operations.
Would he, I wonder, have ordered workers not to use the toilet for more than two minutes at a time? He died, in China, before I was born, so I don't know what kind of person he was. Here is a photograph of him working in his office:

At Disappearing Corners, I found this photograph of a former Anderson Meyer building in Shanghai, still standing:

All this is of no interest to anyone except me and my family, but this blog is a convenient place for me to keep these photographs.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


A Good Mind, Good Books, and Good Conversation

Edward H. Schafer, "Peter A. Boodberg, 1903-1972," Journal of the American Oriental Society 94.1 (January-March 1974) 1-7 (at 7):
Boodberg deplored the computerization of academic life and would sometimes ironically sign letters to administrative officers with his "employee number." He detested IBM cards and disdained to fill out questionnaires. He regarded all such devices as dehumanizing. He even rejected all dependence on indexes and concordances: one should have memorized the Classics and be sufficiently familiar with other major contributions to literature and history to be able to dispense with such crutches. A scholar needed only a good mind, good books, and good conversation.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

Related post: Master of His Subject.


Toujours Perdrix

Francis Lieber, letter to G.S. Hillard (December 29, 1849):
But what I have never been able to understand is the patience with which these German sumpters stick to one and the same thing through life. To study Hebrew, Latin, Greek, the Fathers of the Church, for ever and ever, without getting tired of the toujours perdrix is what baffles me. I find at times that lecturing on subjects which are wholly my own, on which I know that I am thorough and deep and comprehensive, becomes tasteless because I have been animated, spirited, gushing, on the same thing some ten times before. Perhaps it is in part because, after all, scholarship in my case is but a morganatic marriage,—that I was made for a different sphere, for action through masses; still, everything in this blessed world becomes tiresome, even a tune of Mozart; and how can those old fellows stick to their subjects, and often to the smallest details, through a whole life? Does it not, after all, presuppose a certain dulness? I fear it does.
The earliest example I can find of the expression "toujours perdrix" is in L'Espion du Grand-Seigneur et ses Relations Secretes, Envoyées au Divan de Constantinople...Traduites de l'Arabe en Italien par le Sieur Jean-Paul Marana, et de l'Italien en François, Vol. II (Paris: Claude Barbin, 1686), pp. 268-269 (Lettre L, on Henri IV):
Ce Prince fit une fois un assez plaisant tour à son Confesseur, qui le pressoit souvent de quitter toutes ses Maistresses, & de se contenter des caresses de la Reine sa femme, il ordonna à un Cuisinier qui avoit accoûtumé d'accommoder le manger de ce Docteur, de ne lui donner à tous les repas que des perdrix, ce qui le lassa si fort qu'il ne pût s'empêcher de se plaindre au Roy mesme, que ce Cuisinier s'étoit si opiniastré à ne lui servir que des perdrix, que non seulement il en estoit devenu dégoûté, mais qu'il en estoit malade, & le Prince ne lui répondit autre chose que ses mots, toûjours des perdrix, toûjours la Reine.
My translation:
This prince once upon a time played a rather clever trick on his confessor, who often urged him to abandon all his mistresses and to satisfy himself with the caresses of the queen his wife. He ordered a cook, whose job it was to provide this doctor's nourishment, not to give him anything except partridges for every meal. This made him so fat that he couldn't help complaining to the king himself—this cook was so narrow-minded that he didn't serve him anything but partridges, and not only had he become disgusted with them, but even ill from them. The prince made no other answer to him except these words—always partridges, always the queen.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

Monday, January 21, 2013


Something Peculiar

Gilbert Murray, The Rise of the Greek Epic, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924), p. 5:
The classical books are in general the books which have possessed for mankind such vitality of interest that they are still read and enjoyed at a time when all the other books written within ten centuries of them have long since been dead. There must be something peculiar about a book of which the world feels after two thousand years that it has not yet had enough. One would like to know what it is that produces this permanent and not transient quality of interest. And it is partly for that that we study the Classics.


That's Life

Greek Anthology 10.123 (Aesop, tr. W.R. Paton):
Life, how shall one escape thee without death; for thou hast a myriad ills and neither to fly from them nor to bear them is easy. Sweet are thy natural beauties, the earth, the sea, the stars, the orbs of the sun and moon. But all the rest is fear and pain, and if some good befall a man, an answering Nemesis succeeds it.

Πῶς τις ἄνευ θανάτου σε φύγοι, βίε; μυρία γάρ σευ
    λυγρά· καὶ οὔτε φυγεῖν εὐμαρὲς, οὔτε φέρειν.
ἡδέα μὲν γάρ σου τὰ φύσει καλά, γαῖα, θάλασσα,
    ἄστρα, σεληναίης κύκλα καὶ ἠελίου·
τἆλλα δὲ πάντα φόβοι τε καὶ ἄλγεα· κἤν τι πάθῃ τις
    ἐσθλόν, ἀμοιβαίην ἐκδέχεται Νέμεσιν.
James Boswell,The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. (A.D. 1784, aetat. 75):
During his sleepless nights he amused himself by translating into Latin verse, from the Greek, many of the epigrams in the Anthologia. These translations, with some other poems by him in Latin, he gave to his friend Mr. Langton, who, having added a few notes, sold them to the booksellers for a small sum, to be given to some of Johnson's relations, which was accordingly done; and they are printed in the collection of his works.
Among Johnson's translations is the following (Greek Anthology 10.123):
Quae sine morte fuga est vitae, quam turba malorum
    Non vitanda gravem, non toleranda facit?
Dulcia dat natura quidem, mare, sidera, terras,
    Lunaque quas et sol itque reditque vias.
Terror inest aliis moerorque, et siquid habebis
    Forte boni, ultrices experiere vices.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


How My Time Is Passed

Matthew Prior (1664-1721), excerpt from "Epistle to Fleetwood Shephard, Esq." (Burleigh, May 14, 1689):
Let me just tell You how my Time is
Past in a Country-Life.——Imprimis,
As soon as PHOEBUS' Rays inspect us,
First, Sir, I read, and then I Breakfast;
So on, 'till foresaid God does set,
I sometimes Study, sometimes Eat.
Thus, of your Heroes and brave Boys,
With whom old HOMER makes such Noise,
The greatest Actions I can find,
Are, that They did their Work, and din'd.
Or sometimes I combine the two pursuits (studying and eating):

Charles Spencelayh, Morning Chapter

The bread in Spencelayh's painting looks delicious. Likewise the bread in this still life by Anne Vallayer Coster:


The Need for Laughter

Greek Anthology 10.87 (Palladas, tr. W.R. Paton):
If we do not laugh at life the runaway, and Fortune the strumpet shifting with the current, we cause ourselves constant pain seeing the unworthy luckier than ourselves.

Ἂν μὴ γελῶμεν τὸν βίον τὸν δραπέτην,
Τύχην τε πόρνην ῥεύμασιν κινουμένην,
ὀδύνην ἑαυτοῖς προξενοῦμεν πάντοτε,
ἀναξίους ὁρῶντες εὐτυχεστέρους.
The same, tr. W.L. Grant:
Our life's a slave that runs away,
And Fortune but a courtesan;
We needs must laugh to see them play,
Or else must weep to mark alway
The worthless is the happier man.
A Latin translation by Eilhard Lubin (1565-1621):
Nisi rideamus vitam fugacem,
Et fortunam meretricis fluctibus motam,
Dolorem nobis ipsis conciliamus undique,
Indignos videntes feliciores.
A Latin translation by Hugo Grotius (1583-1645):
Ni rideamus alitis vitae fugam,
Scortique semper more fortunam levem,
Semper dolore nosmet excruciabimus,
Dignos minus florere cernentes magis.
C.M. Bowra, "Palladas on Tyche," Classical Quarterly (1960) 118-128 (at 120):
In this poem Tyche is called a harlot because the unworthy prosper. The ῥεύματα of Tyche are in their favour, and she deserves the name of πόρνη because of the inconstancy with which she bestows her graces and her preference for rich suitors. How outrageous the word would seem to a Greek public may be deduced from the fact that when the poem appears on the wall of a latrine at Ephesus, the second line has been changed to
πινῶντες ἢ τρυφῶντες ἢ λελουμένοι.1
If even in this humble setting Palladas' words were thought to be excessive, we can gauge how strong they were, and how little respect he had for conventions when he wrote them.

E. Kalinka, Wien. Stud. xxiv (1902), 292-5.
Alan Cameron, "Notes on Palladas," Classical Quarterly 15 (1965) 215-229 (at 226-229), argues that Palladas' epigram is an adaptation of the poem in the latrine, and not vice versa.


Otium Sine Litteris Mors Est

Euripides, Heracles 673-677 (tr. David Kovacs):
I shall not cease mingling
the Graces and the Muses,
a union most sweet.
May I never live a Muse-less life!
Ever may I go garlanded!

οὐ παύσομαι τὰς Χάριτας
ταῖς Μούσαις συγκαταμει-
γνύς, ἡδίσταν συζυγίαν.
μὴ ζῴην μετ᾽ ἀμουσίας,
αἰεὶ δ᾽ ἐν στεφάνοισιν εἴην.

Saturday, January 19, 2013



Inscriptiones Graecae II² 10998 = Carmina Epigraphica Graeca 489 Hansen = Griechische Vers-Inschriften 1637 Peek (Acharnae in Attica, early 4th century B.C.):
Ares loved the brave, Commendation esteemed them,
    and Youth did not hand them over to Old Age for maltreatment.
Among these was Glauciades: keeping foes away from his fatherland
    he came to Persephone's all-receiving chamber.

τὸς ἀγαθὸς ἔστερξεν Ἄρης, ἐφίλησε δ' ἔπαινος
    καὶ γήραι νεότης οὐ παρέδωχ' ὑβρίσαι·
ὧγ καὶ Γ[λ]αυκιάδης δηίος ἀπὸ πατρίδος ἔργων
    ἦλθ' ἐπ[ὶ] πάνδεκτον Φερσεφόνης θάλ<α>μον.
When Wilamowitz quoted this epigram (in his commentary on Euripides, Herakles, line 638), he capitalized Ἔπαινος, Γήρᾳ, and Νεότης, as if they were personifications of abstractions, and so I've capitalized them in my translation.

Maybe there's an explanation of the accusative plural forms τὸς ἀγαθὸς (line 1) and δηίος (line 3) in Leslie Threatte, The Grammar of Attic Inscriptions, II: Morphology (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1996), § 11.041 "ο ~ ου in Greek words" (pp. 218 ff.), but the book is unavailable to me.

There's a Latin translation of the epigram in Ed. Cougny, Epigrammatum Anthologia Palatina cum Planudeis et Appendice Nova Epigrammatum Veterum ex Libris et Marmoribus, Vol. III (Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1890), p. 109 (no. 127):
Bonos dilexit Mars, amavitque laus
    et senectuti juventus non tradidit contumelia afficiendos:
unde et Glauciades hostes a patria arcens
    ivit in omnia-recipientem Proserpinae thalamum.
For a free rendering in English verse, see Arthur Pott (1865-1920), "War Songs Old and New," United Empire. The Royal Colonial Institute Journal VI.3 (March 1915) 196-205 (at 200):
Honour and War have ever sought
    To make the brave their own
Ere Time could set their might at nought
    Or youth be overthrown.

He fought to keep his country free
    And this his worth attests—
He dwells with dark Persephone
    Her of the many guests.
Mimnermus, fragment 1, lines 5-10 (tr. M.L. West) reminds us of the maltreatment that old age has in store for those who outlive their youth:
                                     But when painful age
    comes on, that makes a man loathsome and vile,
malignant troubles ever vex his heart;
    seeing the sunlight gives him joy no more.
He is abhorred by boys, by women scorned;
    so hard a thing God made old age to be.

                                      ἐπεὶ δ᾽ ὀδυνηρὸν ἐπέλθῃ
    γῆρας, ὅ τ᾽ αἰσχρὸν ὁμῶς καὶ κακὸν ἄνδρα τιθεῖ,
αἰεί μιν φρένας ἀμφὶ κακαὶ τείρουσι μέριμναι,
    οὐδ᾽ αὐγὰς προσορῶν τέρπεται ἠελίου,
ἀλλ᾽ ἐχθρὸς μὲν παισίν, ἀτίμαστος δὲ γυναιξίν·
    οὕτως ἄργαλέον γῆρας ἔθηκε θεός.

Friday, January 18, 2013


Ban the Obelus

G.P. Goold, review of P. Ovidii Nasonis Epistulae Heroidum quas Henricus Dörrie ... edidit (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1971), in Gnomon 46 (1974) 475-484 (at 482):
No editor of classical texts nowadays has the sense or courage to ban the obelus: imagine a road-repairer who insisted on keeping holes in a highway or a music conductor who silenced his orchestra whenever doubt arose about the composer's intentions. Let us return to the old-fashioned practice of editing texts lectorum in usum.


A Poem Addressed to Pan

C.F.H. Bruchmann, Epitheta Deorum quae apud Poetas Graecos Leguntur (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1893), has a few pages (pp. 185-189) devoted to Greek poetic epithets of Pan, but Latin epithets for the god fill less than one page in Jesse Benedict Carter, Epitheta Deorum quae apud Poetas Latinos Leguntur (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1902), p. 81.

The list of Latin epithets for Pan would be even shorter, if it weren't for the fact that most of them come from a single poem, in Poetae Latini Minores, ed. E. Baehrens, Vol. III (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1881), p. 170, also in Anthologia Latina, edd. F. Buecheler and A. Riese, Pars I, Fasc. II, 2nd ed. (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1906), p. 158 (no. 682). The poem consists entirely of a series of vocatives (48 in all) addressed to Pan:
Rustice lustrivage capripes cornute bimembris
Cinyphie hirpigena pernix caudite petulce
Saetiger indocilis agrestis barbare dure
Semicaper villose fugax periure biformis
Audax brute ferox pellite incondite mute        5
Silvicola instabilis saltator perdite mendax
Lubrice ventrisonax inflator stridule anhele
Hirte hirsute biceps fallax niger hispide sime
Scabrens ariole spurce bruticle fatucle!

2 hirpigena: hircigena dubitanter A. Riese
7 ventrisonax E. Baehrens: ventisonax codd.
8 hispide sime L. Mueller: hispidissime codd.
9 scabrens E. Baehrens: scrans codd.; ariole W.A.B. Hertzberg: aridus iole codd.; bruticle E. Baehrens: brutiole vel bruciole codd.; fatucle W.A.B. Hertzberg: fatude vel fataucle codd.
A tentative English translation:
Rustic, forest-wandering, goat-footed, horned, with two sets of limbs,
Cinyphian, wolf-born, quick, with a tail, butting with horns,
Bristle-bearing, untamed, wild, barbarous, hard,
Half-goat, shaggy, fleet, lying, two-shaped,
Bold, irrational, fierce, covered with a hide, uncouth, silent,        5
Forest-dwelling, changeable, leaping, wanton, untruthful,
Slippery, belly-speaking, cheek-puffing, whistling, wheezing,
Hairy, hirsute, two-headed, deceitful, black, prickly, snub-nosed,
Scabby, prophetic, unclean, brutish, fate-speaking!
A few remarks on this curious poem:

1 bimembris: Pan is said to have two sets of limbs, because he's half man, half goat in appearance. Cf. biformis (line 4) and perhaps also biceps (line 8).

2 Cinyphian means from the region of the river Cinyps in Libya. Vergil, Georgics 3.312, mentions the Cinyphians in connection with goats.

2 caudite: According to J.N. Adams, The Latin Sexual Vocabulary (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982; rpt. 1993), pp. 35-37, cauda = penis is firmly attested only in Horace, and so Adams rejects a sexual meaning for codatus in Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum IV.6240, from Pompeii: Cn(aeum) Helvium / Sabinum aed(ilem) d(ignum) r(ei) p(ublicae) o(ro) v(os) f(aciatis) Masculus cum codatis ubiq(ue). But could caudite have such a meaning here? Pan was notoriously randy and was often pictured in art with his membrum virile showing. On the other hand, he was also pictured with a goat's tail.

2 hirpigena: The Sabine word for wolf is hirpus. By some accounts, Pan was descended from Lykaon ("Wolfman"). See Edwin L. Brown, "The Lycidas of Theocritus' Idyll 7," Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 85 (1981) 59-100 (at 66-68). If Riese's conjecture hircigena is adopted, it would mean goat-born. Cf. ignigena (fire-born, of Bacchus), nubigena (cloud-born, of the Centaurs), nymphigena (nymph-born, of Achilles), etc.

7 If Baehrens' ventrisonax is read, could it mean flatulent? Among gods known to have broken wind are Pan's father Hermes, Priapus, Dionysus, and Lamia: see Noctes Scatologicae: Divine Flatulence and Holy Ordures.

7 inflator stridule anhele: These epithets refer to Pan's playing on his musical instrument, the Pan pipes.

9 Servius on Vergil, Aeneid 7.47 (my translation): There is a certain god named Fatulcus, whose wife is Fatua. They are identical with Faunus and Fauna. Moreover, Faunus and Fauna are so called from prophesying, i.e. fate-speaking. From the same root we say that people are fatuous who speak thoughtlessly (quidam deus est Fatuclus. huius uxor est Fatua. idem Faunus et eadem Fauna. dicti autem sunt Faunus et Fauna a vaticinando, id est fando, unde et fatuos dicimus inconsiderate loquentes).

I don't have access to Gerald Kölblinger, "Versus Panos und De rustico," Mittellateinisches Jahrbuch 8 (1973) 7-27, or to Scevola Mariotti, "Versus Panos (Anth. Lat. 682 Riese), 9" in Mnemosynum. Studi in onore di Alfredo Ghiselli (Bologna: Patron, 1989), pp. 411-413.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Pretensions to Divine Approbation

Samuel Butler (1774–1839), Christian Liberty. A Sermon, Preached at St. Mary's, Before his Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester, (Chancellor of the University) and the University of Cambridge, at the Installation, June 30, 1811 (Shrewsbury: W. Eddowes, 1811), p. 29:
Now when pretensions to the peculiar and exclusive approbation of God are thus set up by any sect, and when the common accidents of life are interpreted into deliverances for those who belong to that sect, and judgments against those who differ from it, we surely have a decisive proof before us, that the effects of superstition on mankind are in all ages nearly the same, and that whether the subject of it be a Catholic or a Calvinist, a Pharisee or a Puritan, its tendency is equally fatal to the best interests, and the highest duties, and the noblest pursuits, and the most generous feelings, and the most enlarged conceptions of the human mind.


The Life of This World

British Library, Harley 7322, fol. 136v (14th century?), from Political, Religious, and Love Poems, ed. Frederick J. Furnivall (London: Early English Text Society, 1866; rpt. 1903), pp. 255-256:
Þe lif of þis world
Ys Reuled wiþ wynd,
Wepinge, derknesse, a[n]d steriynge;
Wiþ wind we blowen,
Wiþ wind we lassun.        5
Wiþ weopinge we comen,
Wiþ weopinge we passun.
Wiþ steriinge we byginnen,
Wiþ steriinge we enden;
Wiþ drede we dwellen,       10
Wiþ drede we wenden.
2 reuled: ruled
3 derknesse: Douglas Gray, A Selection of Religious Lyrics (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), p. 147, emends to drede, I think (the book is unavailable to me). Furnivall comments ad loc. "'derknesse' probably for 'drednesse.' The Latin has Flatum, Fletum, Motum, Metum." I haven't been able to locate the Latin poem. Or does he mean that these are glosses in the manuscript?
3, 8, 9 steriynge, steriinge: "Disturbance of mind or feelings" (Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. stirring, n., sense 4.c, citing this poem)
4 blowen: bloom, flourish, increase
5 lassun: lessen
11 wenden: "To go off, away, or out; to depart" (Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. wend, v.1, sense 10.a; or perhaps sense 11.a: "To depart by death")

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Occasions for Banqueting

Simon Schama, The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), p. 185:
And the occasions for banqueting, or for the presentation of gifts to the banquet fund, were, not surprisingly, those that most directly affected the collective life of the social group. So that when a newcomer bought a house in the wijk, for example, a sum proportionate to the purchase price was given to the treasurer for entertainment laid on by the neighborhood. There were lying-in feasts, birth feasts, baptismal feasts, churching feasts, feasts when infants were swaddled and another when boys were breeched, birthday feasts and saints’ days feasts (not necessarily the same), feasts on beginning school and beginning apprenticeship, betrothal feasts, wedding feasts, feasts on setting up house, feasts for departing on long journeys and feasts for homecoming, wedding anniversary feasts and co-option (to a municipal regency or the board of a charitable institution) feasts, feasts on the inauguration of a lottery and the conclusion of its draw, feasts on the return of a grand cargo or the conclusion of a triumphant peace, on the restoration of a church, the installation of a window or organ or organ loft or pulpit and on the setting of a family gravestone in its floor, feasts on recovering from sickness, feasts at funerals and burials and the reading of a testament, even jokmaalen, feasts of inversion when master and mistress would act the part of servants and wait on their own retainers.

Pieter Brueghel, The Peasant Wedding


We Know Our Ignorance

Leigh Hunt (1784-1859), A Jar of Honey from Mount Hybla (London: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1848), pp. vii-viii:
We are ashamed to say, that we know less of Greek, in one sense of the word, than we did when young, and are obliged to look out more words in the dictionary; for to a dictionary we are still forced to resort, though we love the language next to Italian, and hold it in higher admiration. But then we know our ignorance better than we did at that time; are more aware of beauties to be enjoyed, and nice meanings to be discovered; and the consequence is, that whenever we undertake to translate a passage from Greek, we take our love on one side of us, and our dictionary on the other, and before we set about it, make a point of sifting every possible meaning and root of meaning, not excepting those in words the most familiar to us, in order that not an atom of the writer's intention may be missed. We do not say, of course, that we always succeed in detecting it; but it is not for want of painstaking.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Surely He Has a Strong Brain

Francis Beaumont (1584-1616) and John Fletcher (1579-1625), The Elder Brother, Act I, Scene 2 (speakers are Andrew, Cook, and Butler):
And. Unload part of the Library, and make room for th'other dozen of Carts; I'le straight be with you.
Cook. Why, hath he more Books?
And. More than ten Marts send over.
But. And can he tell their names?
And. Their names! he has 'em as perfect as his Pater Noster; but that's nothing, h'as read them over leaf by leaf three thousand times; but here's the wonder, though their weight would sink a Spanish Carrock, without other Ballast, he carrieth them all in his head, and yet he walks upright.
But. Surely he has a strong brain.
And. If all thy pipes of Wine were fill'd with Books, made of the Barks of Trees, or Mysteries writ in old motheaten Vellam, he would sip thy Cellar quite dry, and still be thirsty: Then for's Diet, he eats and digests more Volumes at a meal, than there would be Larks (though the Sky should fall) devoured in a month in Paris. Yet fear not Sons o'the Buttery and Kitchin, though his learn'd stomach cannot be appeas'd; he'll seldom trouble you, his knowing stomach contemns your Black-jacks, Butler, and your Flagons; and Cook, thy Boil'd, thy Rost, thy Bak'd.
Cook. How liveth he?
And. Not as other men do, few Princes fare like him; he breaks his fast with Aristotle, dines with Tully, takes his watering with the Muses, sups with Livy, then walks a turn or two in Via Lactea, and (after six hours conference with the Stars) sleeps with old Erra Pater.
But. This is admirable.


Dulcia Secreti Otia Ruris

Ausonius, Epistles 6.19-34 (to Paulinus; tr. Hugh G. Evelyn White):
For I am weary at the sight of throngs of people, the vulgar brawls at the cross-roads, the narrow lanes a-swarm, and the broadways belying their name for the rabble herded there. Confused Echo resounds with a babel of cries: "Hold!" — "Strike!" — "Lead!" — "Give!" — "Look out!" Here is a mucky sow in flight, there a mad dog in fell career, there oxen too weak for the waggon. No use to steal into the inner chamber and the recesses of your home: the cries penetrate through the house. These, and what else can shock the orderly, force me to leave the walled city and seek again the sweet peace of the retired country and the delights of trifling seriously; and there you may arrange your own hours and have the right to do nothing or else what you will.

Nam populi coetus et compita sordida rixis
    fastidientes cernimus        20
angustas fervere vias et congrege volgo
    nomen plateas perdere.
turbida congestis referitur vocibus echo:
    "Tene, feri, duc, da, cave!"
sus lutulenta fugit, rabidus canis impete saevo        25
    et impares plaustro boves.
nec prodest penetrale domus et operta subire:
    per tecta clamores meant,
haec et quae possunt placidos offendere mores,
    cogunt relinqui moenia,        30
dulcia secreti repetantur ut otia ruris,
    nugis amoena seriis;
tempora disponas ubi tu tua iusque tuum sit,
    ut nil agas vel quod voles.

Monday, January 14, 2013


An Abominable Desecration

W. Carew Hazlitt (1834-1913), Offspring of Thought in Solitude: Modern Essays (London: Reeves & Turner, 1884), pp. 83-84:
As for Fielding and that school, we have a fancy for reading them in the old editions, as Lamb had a fancy for Sir Thomas Browne in folio. The stiff crackling paper, the elderly-faced type, the short paragraphs, and the well-thumbed old calf bindings, seem proper to the subject and to the author, if not part of them both. Somebody has lately advertised Tom Jones in one foolscap book at a couple of shillings. We would rather not see it. It is in our eyes an abominable desecration. This is not Fielding's Tom Jones. It is enough to imagine the thin damp paper, the close packed page, the blurred cramped printing, the cropped edges, and the act-drop cover! We cannot think this is our Parson Adams. Our Tom Jones is too good to be reprinted at a steam-press, and sold at railway-stations.


Bring Us In Good Ale

Oxford, Bodleian Library Eng. poet. e.1 (SC 29734), f. 41v (late 15th century):
Bring us in good ale, and bring us in good ale,
Fore our blessed Lady sak, bring us in good ale.

Bring us in no browne bred, for that is made of brane;
Nor bring us in no whit bred, for therein is no game:
But bring us in good ale.        5

Bring us in no befe, for ther is many bones;
But bring us in good ale, for that goth downe at ones,
And bring us in good ale.

Bring us in no bacon, for that is passing fat;
But bring us in good ale, and give us inought of that,        10
And bring us in good ale.

Bring us in no mutton, for that is ofte lene;
Nor bring us in no tripes, for they be seldom clene:
But bring us in good ale.

Bring us in no egges, for there ar many shelles;        15
But bring us in good ale, and give us nothing elles,
And bring us in good ale.

Bring us in no butter, for therein ar many heres;
Nor bring us in no pigges flesh, for that will mak us bores:
But bring us in good ale.        20

Bring us in no podinges, for therein is all gotes blod;
Nor bring us in no venison, for that is not for our good:
But bring us in good ale.

Bring us in no capon's flesh, for that is ofte der;
Nor bring us in no dokes flesh, for they slobber in the mer:        25
But bring us in good ale.
4 game: some editors emend to gane = gain
7 ones: once
18 heres: hairs
19 bores: boars
21 podinges: puddings
21 gotes: goats'
25 dokes: ducks'
25 slobber: "To feed in a slabbering or slovenly manner" (OED)
25 mer: lake, pond, pool

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Let Me Have Men About Me That Are Fat

Scottish poet Arthur Johnston (c.1579-1641), "Against One Who Jibed at a Fat Paunch," in Musa Latina Aberdonensis. Arthur Johnston, Vol. I: The Parerga of 1637, ed. William Duguid Geddes (Aberdeen: Printed for the New Spalding Club, 1892), pp. 307-311 (followed by my English translation):
This jocular poem is a fine specimen of Johnston's lighter quill. The occasion, whether personal to himself or to a friend, is unknown.

You snarling scarecrow, Zoilus, why this attack on one's fair rotundity? Why point me out with the finger? If we praise the quadrupeds for being sleek and fat, why not men as well? 'Tis a mistake to think fatness and gluttony go together. Alcides [Hercules] is not styled fat, nor yet Homer; and yet the one ate heavily, the other liked his wine. Overfed frames grow lean, just as the willow is a thin tree though it drinks for ever, while the oak grows fat and strong on driest ridges. Where there is good lining to the bones, there is also a pleasing disposition; witness the ox or lamb; for, if you feed well the boar, he drops the thunder of his tusks. 'Tis lean scarecrow creatures that are given to deceit or rapine, as witness the dog, the lynx, tiger, hawks, and eagle. The fat man has a cheerful face, with no carking cares, and loves peace; the lean man is sourfaced, given to cunning, and loves battles and broils. As for activity, I grant, fat folks are not so agile. But agility of body is no sign of power: the judge sits sedate; the steersman sits at the helm; the general gazes quietly around and surveys the battle. So with the spirit dwelling in us fat men; itself unmoved, it moveth all. We can use, for fleetness, the keel or the wheel: but to purchase simplicity at the cost of one's obesity is a price too dear. No fear of the mind growing fat and feeble. Think of Galba and Nero: what contrasts they in mind and body! A fat [Pope] Leo outshone in genius the sons of Athens. And, look you, there is the goddess of wisdom. Does she not love the fatness of the olive? Feats of strength I leave to others of the strong. The stadium and race-course call for them; my haunts are the Forum, seats of learning, churches. Even in Venus's service the fat man is not behind. Who can find apples on a dry stock? Away, then, Zoilus, with your sneers and scowls.


Zoile, cui macies exsanguis detegit ossa,
    Foedat et arentes plurima ruga genas;
Pinguis aqualiculi molem cur dentibus atris
    Impetis, et rostro tam petulante feris?
Huius ad aspectum cur nasum sannio crispas        5
    Turpiter, et risu pectus inane quatis?
Si nitidus, si sum totus teres atque rotundus,
    Ecquid me digito, decolor umbra, notas?
Cur si pinguis equus, nitidus laudatur et agnus,
    Pinguibus et nitidis non licet esse viris?        10
Fallitur ingluvie quisquis pinguescere ventres
    Autumat, aut nimio membra tumere mero.
Nemo vel Alciden, vel pinguem dixit Homerum,
    Vinosus tamen hic, ille gulosus erat.
Corpora pasta nimis macrescunt saepe, nec hausta        15
    Plus satis in ventrem crescere vina sinunt.
Mole salix parva est, immani quercus, at illa
    Propter aquas, siccis nascitur ista iugis.
Si qua fides medicis, quem sic adolescere cernis,
    Sanguinis aerii luxuriatur ope.        20
Purior e venis per totos diditur artus
    Halitus, et iusta corpora mole beat.
Hinc quibus omentum superat venterque iecurque
    Tenditur, ingenium mitius esse vides.
Nil bove praepingui, nil est mansuetius agno,        25
    Efficit et mites sola sagina feras.
Bile carent omni, quibus est abdomen, agrestes,
    Et sua, si pascis, fulmina ponit aper.
Nec pecus ex rapto vivit, quod turget omaso,
    Nullaque cum sociis pro dape bella gerit.        30
Nec struit insidias, nec, quamvis laedere tentes,
    Calcitrat, aut nulla vindicat arte nefas.
At quibus informis macies depascitur artus,
    Effera sunt, irae dedita, plena dolis.
Hoc canis ingenio est, et lynx, et pessima tigris,        35
    Accipitresque truces, ales et ipse Iovis.
Horum, crede mihi, mores imitatur, et artes,
    Quisquis ab Iapeto stemma parente trahit.
Frons hilaris pingui est; macies quem turpat anilis,
    Nescio quid durae tetricitatis habet.        40
Ille nec ambit opes, nec tristibus aestuat iris,
    Aut odiis; mens huic sordida felle tumet.
Ille nec invidia squalet, nec pallet amore;
    Decolor est isti nigraque tota cutis.
Candida mens pingui est, macilento callida, pacem        45
    Alter amat, cupit hic iurgia, bella, neces.
Pinguibus obiicitur proiecti sarcina ventris,
    Vitaque, segnities quam comitatur, iners.
Non ita sunt agiles, fateor, praepinguibus artus,
    Sed tamen id laudem quod mereatur habet.        50
Qui populo dant iura, sedent, animusque sedendo
    Fit sapiens, motus est quoque meta quies.
Adspice naucleros: hic tempestate coorta
    Vela legit, nimias egerit alter aquas.
Pervolat antennas pars haec, pars illa rudentes        55
    Explicat, in mediis cursitat una foris.
Arduus ad clavum rector sedet ipse quietus,
    Astraque prospectans dirigit arte ratem.
Quique praeest bello, iubet illum scandere muros
    Ocius, hunc alacri sumere tela manu.        60
Ipse suas spectans acies tota agmina nutu
    Circumagit, sunt haec munia sola ducis.
Nos quoque, quos ventris detentos pondere cernis,
    Haec gerimus, quae gens emaciata nequit.
Est Deus in nobis; immobilis ille, quod infra est,        65
    Quaeque supra spectas sidera, mente regit.
Afer equus capreaeque leves sunt cursibus apti,
    Munia debentur nobiliora viris.
Re poscente tamen, naturam vincimus arte,
    Nec ventris nimium pinguibus obstat onus.        70
Sunt volucres nobis, quae findant aequora, puppes,
    Et rapidis ferimur, quo lubet ire, rotis.
Ardua nec pingui res esset, ponere ventrem,
    Quidquid et inceptis posse nocere putas.
Omnia qui tandem vincit, labor improbus, alvi        75
    Stringere luxuriem posset, et atra fames.
Hinc neque mendico venter protuberat ulli,
    Ventre nec agrestes turgidiore vides.
Durius at morbo est, genium sic plectere; tanti
    Squalorem et maciem, vix puto, sanus emet.        80
Sed neque tu mergi nobis abdomine mentem,
    Pingue nec ingenium pinguibus esse puta.
Quis neget ingenio Galbam cessisse Neroni,
    Ventrosus tamen hic audiit, ille macer.
Vicit et ingenio pinguis Leo Cecrope natos,        85
    Cum populi mentes molliit arte truces.
Quae favet ingeniis, auctor Dea pinguis olivae est;
    Fallor? an exsuccos diligat illa viros?
Qui macer est, iactat vires: ad fortia fortis
    Ergo eat, et patriam vomere verset humum.        90
Robora vel silvis, vel caecis aera cavernis
    Eruat, aequoreas vel rate findat aquas.
Brachia det luctae, validos vel caestibus artus
    Induat, aut funda grandia saxa rotet.
Quaerat Olympiaco gens haec in pulvere laurum,        95
    Aut lauru si quid maius Olympus habet.
Ista decent validos. Nobis sunt publica cura
    Munia, nos poscunt templa, Lycea, forum.
Virgineas colimus populi sine viribus artes,
    Quasque iubent Musae, quasque Minerva sequi.        100
Vita quidem pingui brevis est; agnoscimus ultro,
    Sed fatuum est vitae de brevitate queri.
Vita genus stadii est, et plenum fluctibus aequor,
    Cernis et hic durus quae mala carcer habet.
Dic, quis ad Elei metam dum tendit anhelus,        105
    Se cursu socios antevolasse dolet?
Navita nec moeret, ventis si pulsa secundis,
    Spe citius portum fessa carina subit.
Nec cito te quereris tractum de carceris umbra,
    Aut nimium propera vincla soluta manu.        110
Sola Venus superest, qua nos superamur ab illis,
    Qui maciem tanta religione colunt.
Quantula laus haec est? Veneri si debita laus est,
    Te laudabilior cum cane taurus erit.
Sed nec aqualiculo Veneris restinguitur ulli        115
    Flamma, nec in pingui corpore friget amor.
Nitimur exemplis regum; cui plurima cervix
    Pinguis erat, Claudi quanta libido fuit?
Ventrosusque Nero simul, et cervicis opimae,
    Mille lupas fertur, mille iniisse mares.        120
Quam genuit pater inter aquas, humore refertos
    Et succi plenos, mater Amoris amat.
Poma quis enasci sperat de stipite sicco?
    Quemve potest laticem fundere dura silex?
Pone supercilium iam tandem, Zoile, parce        125
    Rodere naturae luxuriantis opus.
Si quid habes mentis, pingui nil pulchrius alvo,
    Et nil strigosa turpius esse puta.

3. Pinguis aqualiculi.] From Persius, I. 57.
35. Linx.] So in ed. '37. Properly "lynx," as after the Greek λύγξ.
65. Immobilis ille.] Aristotelian principle "The Primum Mobile must be itself unmoved".
85. Pinguis Leo.] Pope Leo X.
My translation (not in verse, but following the Latin line by line as closely as possible):
Zoilus, pale thinness covers your bones,
    and many a wrinkle disfigures your withered cheeks;
why with your black teeth do you attack the huge bulk of a fat paunch,
    and do you strike with such an aggressive beak?
At the sight of my paunch, you buffoon, why do you wrinkle your nose        5
    in an unsightly way and shake your empty breast with laughter?
If I am sleek, if I am smooth and roly-poly,
    why do you point me out with your finger, you faded shadow?
If a fat horse is praised, and a sleek lamb,
    why don't you allow men to be fat and sleek?        10
He is mistaken who claims that bellies grow fat with gluttony,
    or that limbs swell with too much wine.
No one called Hercules or Homer fat,
    although the one was a wine-bibber, the other a glutton.
Often over-fed bodies grow thin, and wines drunk dry         15
    don't allow the belly to swell more than enough.
The willow is of a small size, the oak of a great size, but the former
    grows next to water, the latter on dry ridges.
If doctors can be trusted, the person whom you see become fat
    Owes his quick growth to the help of airy blood.        20
Purer air from the veins spreads through all the limbs
    and enriches bodies with a proper size.
Hence those men whose guts swell, whose belly and liver
    stretch, you see have a mild temper.
Nothing is tamer than a very fat cow or lamb,        25
    and ample feed alone makes wild beasts gentle.
Critters in the field are without anger, if they have a paunch,
    and if you feed a boar, it abandons its attacks.
An animal with swollen guts doesn't live off plunder,
    and doesn't wage war with its fellows over food.        30
It doesn't lay traps, and although you try to do it harm,
    it doesn't kick or avenge a wrong by wiles.
On the other hand, if unsightly thinness wastes away the limbs of beasts,
    they are savage, given to anger, full of tricks.
A dog has this character, and a lynx, and a most wicked tigress,        35
    and fierce hawks, and even Jove's bird, the eagle.
Believe me, whoever is descended from Father Iapetus
    imitates the character and ways of these beasts.
The fat man wears a cheerful expression; he whom old-womanish thinness disfigures
    possesses a sort of harsh offensiveness.        40
The former doesn't solicit riches, isn't agitated by gloomy anger,
    or hatred; the latter's unclean mind is puffed up with venom.
The former doesn't bristle with envy, isn't pale with lust;
    The latter doesn't have a normal color, all his skin is black.
The fat man's mind is innocent, the thin man's is crafty;        45
    the one loves peace, the other quarrels, wars, murders.
The burden of a protruding belly obstructs fat men,
    and their life is idle, accompanied by inactivity.
I admit, the limbs of the very fat aren't nimble,
    yet that has a glory which it perhaps deserves.        50
Those who are legislators are seated, and with sitting the mind
    becomes wise; rest also is the goal of motion.
Consider ship captains: when a storm has arisen one
    draws in his sails, another bails out the overflowing waters.
Some fly through the sail-yards, others uncoil the ropes,        55
    one runs back and forth on the gangways.
The calm captain sits high up at the helm,
    watches the stars, and steers his ship with skill.
The general orders that soldier to mount the city walls
    speedily, this soldier to take up his weapons with quick hand.         60
He himself, watching his troops, with a nod turns the whole army
    around—this is the sole duty of a general.
We too, whom you see hindered with a heavy belly,
    we accomplish things that skinny folk can't.
God is within us; unmoved Himself, what is below        65
    and the stars you see above, He rules with his mind.
The Numidian horse and fleet goats are suited to running,
    but nobler duties are men's obligations.
Nevertheless, when occasion demands, we overcome our nature with art,
    and the belly's burden isn't too much of an obstacle to us fat men.         70
We have swift ships to part ocean's waves,
    and we are carried on speedy wheels wherever we wish to go.
Nor would it be a difficult thing for a fat man to shed weight
    and whatever else you think is a hindrance to action.
Hard work, which finally overcomes all, could        75
    hold in check the gut's gluttony, as could dismal hunger.
For this reason no beggar's belly bulges,
    nor do you see peasants with an inflated belly.
But worse than sickness is it to punish appetite so; at such a price
    I hardly think that anyone in his right mind would buy filth and thinness.        80
Don't think for a minute that our minds are drowned in fat,
    and that fat men have dull wits.
Who would deny that Galba was inferior to Nero in wit,
    although Nero had a reputation as fat, Galba as thin.
In the matter of wit, fat Leo surpassed the natives of Athens,        85
    when he tamed the savage minds of the people.
The goddess who smiles on wits is the one who invented the plump olive.
    Am I wrong? Does she love sapless men?
The skinny fellow boasts of his strength; then as a strong man let him
    perform feats needing strength and turn the ancestral soil with the plow.        90
Let him uproot trees in the forest, or dig up metal in dark caves,
    or cleave ocean's waters in a ship.
Let him give his arms to wrestling, or clothe his mighty limbs
    with boxing gloves, or whirl huge stones with a sling shot.
Let skinny folk seek the laurel crown in Olympic dust,        95
    or any greater prize which Olympus offers.
Such tasks are suitable for strong men. Public duties are
    our concern—religion, education, law demand the likes of us.
Lacking strength, we pursue the maidenly arts,
    those which the Muses and Minerva bid us follow.        100
A fat man's life is short, to be sure; we are the first to recognize it,
    but it is foolish to complain about the shortness of life.
Life is a sort of race, and the sea is full of waves,
    and you see what evils this hard prison holds.
Tell me, does the panting athlete who races toward the Olympic goal-post        105
    regret that he ran faster than his competitors?
The sailor doesn't grieve that his ship, impelled by favorable winds,
    reaches harbor quicker than he expected.
Nor should you complain that you were rescued quickly from prison's darkness
    or that your chains were removed by too quick a hand.        110
Only love's pleasure remains, in which we are bested by those
    who revere thinness with such great zeal.
How feeble a boast is this? If praise is due to sexual activity,
    a bull or a dog will deserve greater praise than you.
But even love's flame is not extinguished by a paunch,        115
    and passion doesn't grow cold in a fat body.
We rely on royal precedent; Claudius had a big fat neck,
    and how immense was his sexual desire?
Big-bellied Nero, with a thick neck,
    is said to have penetrated a thousand wanton women, a thousand men.        120
Cupid's mother, whom her father begat amidst waters, loves
    exceedingly those who are crammed with moisture and full of sap.
Who hopes that fruits can sprout forth from a withered tree trunk?
    Or can hard flint pour forth water?
At long last, Zoilus, put aside your sneering;        125
    stop criticizing the product of fruitful Nature.
If you have any sense, realize that nothing is more beautiful than a fat belly,
    and nothing is more ugly than a thin one.
In the title Adversus Omasomastiga, the hybrid Latin-Greek noun omasomastix, from omāsum = tripe, paunch and μάστιξ (mastix = whip, scourge), is apparently a hapax legomenon. Cf. Homeromastix, nickname of the ancient Greek grammarian Zoilus.

There is a list of "Likenesses" in Nicola Royan, "Johnston, Arthur (c.1579–1641), poet," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography—the only one I've seen is a portrait by George Jamesone, (c.1629), in which Johnston doesn't seem at all corpulent, although it's hard to tell, because the portrait isn't full-length:

In the opinion of Samuel Johnson, A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, Arthur Johnston "holds among the Latin poets of Scotland the next place to the elegant [George] Buchanan."

Thanks to Karl Maurer for several suggestions and corrections. Any remaining infelicities or errors are mine.

To illustrate line 85, Eric Thomson sends a photograph of a statue of Pope Leo X, with the comment: "Is he giving a blessing I wonder, or calling the waiter?"

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