Friday, October 31, 2014


Chapter and Verse

"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books." According to dozens of web pages, Jorge Luis Borges said this. Maybe he did, but I won't believe it until I see it in a book written by him, or in the transcript of an interview given by him. I haven't yet seen a web page that gives a source for this supposed quotation.


First Known When Lost

Colette (1873-1954), For a Flower Album, tr. Roger Senhouse (New York: D. McKay Co., 1959), p. 16:
The more the wonders of the visible world become inaccessible, the more intensely do its curiosities affect us.

Plus les merveilles du monde extérieur nous deviennent inaccessibles, plus les curiosités se font aiguës.

Thursday, October 30, 2014



E.R. Dodds (1893-1979), "The Rediscovery of the Classics," The Irish Statesman 2.42 (April 10, 1920) 346-347, rpt. as "The Classics and Classical Humbug," The Living Age 305 (April, May, June 1920) 607-609:
It is notorious that the hardest books to rediscover are those we have lived with all our lives—the Bible, for instance. In such cases the delicate sensibilities which thrill to the impact of a new experience have been dulled by custom, and the fineness of the aesthetic palate overlaid with a thick coat of inherited sentiment and second-hand judgments. The Odes of Horace and the Psalms of David oppose to our critical appreciation the same barrier as Hamlet—they are too full of 'quotations'. If we would free ourselves from the tyranny of suggestion, neither yielding lip-service to the 'classics' in obedience to other people's formulas nor blindly flouting them to assert an illusory independence, if we would see our literary inheritance steadily and see it whole, we must simplify our vision until it is as intense and naive as the vision of a child or an early explorer or a Renaissance scholar.


The Holy Ghost in a Hat

Samuel Butler (1835-1902), Notebooks, edd. Geoffrey Keynes and Brian Hill (New York: E.P. Dutton & Company, Inc., 1951), pp. 97-98:
I was with my Aunt Worsley at the National Gallery once, and we were before Van Eyck's portrait of John Arnolfini and his wife (if the picture is, indeed, this). My Aunt mistook it for an Annunciation, and said, 'Dear, dear, what a funny notion to put the Holy Ghost in a hat.'


The Quill Is My Plough

In his poem "Digging," Seamus Heaney pays tribute to the skill of his father and grandfather in working the soil. The poem ends with the lines:
But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.
Ernst Robert Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, tr. Willard E. Trask (1953; rpt. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973), pp. 313-314, delves deeper into the history of this metaphor:
Isidore further says that the Romans first used an iron stylus for writing on wax tablets and later one of bone. In proof he quotes from a lost comedy by the poet Atta, whose name alone is known to us (Et., VI, 9, 2):
. . . Vertamus vomerem
In cera mucroneque aremus osseo.
That is: "Turn we the ploughshare upon the wax and plow we with a point of bone." Isidore knows too that the "Ancients" made their lines as the ploughman his furrows (Et., VI, 14, 71), that they wrote "furrow-wise."22 The metaphor "ploughshare" for "stylus" (vomer for stilus) occurs, so far as I am aware, nowhere else in Roman literature, but is found in medieval poets. Wherever we encounter it, then, it must stem from Isidore. The basic comparison is of course older. So early as Plato, we find the comparison between the dressing of a field and writing. The Romans seldom used arare as a metaphor for writing. The compound exarare ("plough up") is much more frequent, but seems no longer to be felt as a figurative expression but simply means "to write," "to compose." I do not find the line of writing referred to as a "furrow" before Prudentius (Perist., IX, 52 and IV, 119; Apoth., 596). The two passages quoted from Isidore would seem to have been decisive in inculcating the comparison into the minds of medieval writers and maintaining it as a standard mode of expression. The parchment is the field, the writer knows the art of "cleaving the book-fields" ("bibliales . . . proscindere campos"; Poetae, I, 93, 5). He knows that the Emperor Charles tolerates no "thorn bushes," that is, no scribal errors, as a note in an eighth-century codex informs us (Poetae, I, 89 f.). The metaphor "plough" for "write" passes from medieval Latin literature into the vernacular literatures. In a manuscript of the eighth or ninth century, preserved at Verona (a Mozarabic prayer book), the following notation was discovered in 1924: "Se pareva boves alba pratalia araba et albo versorio teneba et negro semen seminaba";23 that is, "He urged on the oxen, ploughed white fields, held a white plough, and sowed black seed." By altering the forms and order of the words, an attempt was made to turn this into a rhymed quatrain in early Italian and it was given out to be a precious relic of popular pastoral poetry. As a matter of fact it is a scribal adage of erudite origin. The white fields are the pages, the white plough the pen, the black seeds the ink. Our examples from Plato, Isidore, Prudentius, and Carolingian poetry clarify this imagery. Once again the phantom of "popular poetry" has misled scholars. That solitary masterpiece of the declining Middle Ages in Germany, the Ackermann aus Böhmen, which occupied Konrad Burdach for decades, also employs the image of writing as ploughing. Chapter 3 begins: "Ich bins genannt ein ackerman, von vogelwat ist mein pflug." In vogelwat (Vogelkleid, "bird dress") Burdach rightly recognized a "riddling description of the writing quill." But in the word ackerman he insisted upon seeing a reference to a mysticism of the ploughman, and attempted to demonstrate it with a lavish display of erudition. It was Arthur Hübner who found the correct interpretation (Kleine Schriften zur deutschen Philologie [1940], 205 f.): "The quill is my plough—this is a well-known scribal adage." It goes back, I might add, to the Latin Middle Ages.

22 In Greek βουστροφηδόν: turning like oxen in ploughing, writing from left to right and from right to left alternately.
23 G. Lazzeri, Antologia dei primi secoli della letteratura italiana (1942), 1 ff.
Related post: The Scholar's Life.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Gods Float in the Azure Air

Hugh Kenner (1923-2003), The Pound Era (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971; rpt. 1974), p. 143:
This passage from the third Canto ought to be a Latin Renaissance poem :
                                        Gods float in the azure air,
Bright gods and Tuscan, back before dew was shed.
Light; and the first light, before ever dew was fallen.
Panisks, and from the oak, dryas,
And from the apple, maelid,
Through all the wood, and the leaves are full of voices,
A-whisper, and the clouds bowe over the lake,
And there are gods upon them,
And in the water, the almond-white swimmers,
The silvery water glazes the upturned nipple,
                                   As Poggio has remarked.
The Panisks, little rural Pans, are from Cicero's De Natura Deorum, the dryas, oak-spirits, passim from the Greek heritage, the maelids from Ibycus, the gods upon the clouds from Poliziano; the lake is Garda, gazed on by Pound from his magical place, Sirmio; and Poggio Bracciolini, papal secretary, observed, A.D. 1451, bathers in a German pool. This is collage, another cubist strategy, and the absence of dew, twice stated, denotes the hazeless light that abolishes planes of distance. Myth, language, poetry, fact, lie disposed in a common reality, and Poggio's remark, cited as one cites in a work of scholarship, is literature and the validation of literature by a living eye, and the sharpening of that eye in turn by other literature: Roman erotic poetry, which taught the papal secretary to see. Its ultimate source is Catullus 54:18—nutricium [sic, read nutricum] tenus exstantes e gurgite cano. Poggio's phrase has not been located.
Cf. Eva Hesse in Carroll F. Terrell, A Companion to the Cantos of Ezra Pound, Vol. I (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980), p. 9 (brackets in original):
Not Poggio's exact words but an image easily evoked by a scene he witnessed at the baths in Baden, Switzerland, in the spring of 1416 and recorded in the well-known letter to his friend Niccolò de'Niccoli. Pound's imitation of this letter appeared under the title "Aux étuves de Weisbaden, A.D. 1451" [sic] in the Little Review, July 1917 [rpt. in PD, 98-103], indicating perhaps that he had read the French translation of the original. The ML text runs [Opera Omnia, Basle, 1538], with the ligatures omitted: "Quotidie ter aut quater balnea intrant, maiorem in his diei partem agentes, partim cantando, partim potando, partim choreas exercendo. Psallunt & iam in aquis paululum subsidendo. In quo iocundissimum est videre puellas iam maturas viro, iam plenis nubilas annis, facie splendida ac liberali, in Dearum habitum ac formam psallentes, modicas vestes retrorsum trahunt desuper aquam fluitantes, ut alteram Venerem extimares." ["They (members of both sexes who are privileged by family connections or high favor) go to the pools three or four times daily, dividing their time among singing, drinking, dancing. Even in the water they play an instrument. There is nothing more delighful than to watch the young ladies, some just turning nubile and others in full bloom, with their beautiful faces, frank looks, shaped and draped like the goddess, playing an instrument while leaning back in the water with their shift, which they have pulled back slightly, floating behind them so that they look like a winged Venus."] Like all ML, the text contains various ambiguities. In particular, habitus can alternatively mean "status" or "bearing." Since Pound's figures, however, are not reclining in the water, he may have conflated Poggio's young ladies with the nude Nereids rising up out of the spindrift in Catullus LXIV, 18 [HK, Era, 143]: "viderunt ... mortales oculis nudato corpore Nymphas / nutricum tenus extantes e gurgite cano" [EH].
For extimares (thus in Poggio's Latin) perhaps read existimares.

Panisci (or the singular Paniscus) occurs not only in Cicero, De Natura Deorum (3.17.43, citing Carneades), but also in his De Divinatione (1.13.23 and 2.21.48, both also citing Carneades). Arthur Stanley Pease in his commentary on De Divinatione 1.13.23 cites other examples: Pliny, Natural History 35.144, Suetonius, Life of Tiberius 43, Clement of Alexandria, Protrepticus 4.61, Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum 8.2632 and 14.4098, to which add Apuleius, Metamorphoses 6.24. CIL 14.4098 is a 3rd century B.C. mirror from Praeneste, on which Paniscus is spelled Painsscos: see T.P. Wiseman, "The God of the Lupercal," Journal of Roman Studies 85 (1995) 1-22 (at 5, with illustration).

The only examples of Πανίσκος in Liddell-Scott-Jones are Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3.17.43, and, in the Supplement, "Inscr. Délos 1416Ai51 (ii B.C.)," but Clement of Alexandria, Protrepticus 4.61 should also be cited. As a theophoric name Πανίσκος is common in Egypt. On Πανίσκος as the name of a god see Nancy E. Priest, "A List of Gods," Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 27 (1977) 193-200 (at 196, 198).

Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. panisk, gives examples as early as Ben Jonson, including one (an earlier version of Canto 3) from Pound's Lustra (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1917), p. 185: "Panisks / And oak-girls and the Maelids have all the wood."

As for maelid, see Liddell-Scott-Jones, s.v. μηλίς, -ίδος: "μηλέα, Ibyc.1; Dor. μᾱλίς Theoc. 8.79." They understand it therefore as simply a fruit tree, apple or quince. Oxford English Dictionary doesn't have an entry for maelid; Pound meant it as a type of nymph. He also uses the word in Canto 79:
Maelid and bassarid among lynxes,
        how many? There are more under the oak trees,
We are here waiting the sun-rise
      and the next sunrise
for three nights amid lynxes For three nights
      of the oak-wood
and the vines are thick in their branches
      no vine lacking flower,
no lynx lacking a flower rope
      no Maelid minus a wine jar
See also Pound's letter to John Quinn (July 4, 1917):
Maelids is correct. They (the nymphs of the apple-trees) are my one bit of personal property in greek mythology. The professed Hellenists have, I believe, let them alone. I scored with them on even the assiduous Aldington, who had translated the greek as "apple-trees".


Friendly Fire Again

Another fictional example of "friendly fire," from Quintus Smyrnaeus, 13.155-156 (on the death of Greeks at night during the sack of Troy; tr. Frederick M. Combellack):
Many a man doubtless hit a comrade with a stone in the confusion and mixed his skull with his brain.

καί πού τις βρεχμόν τε καὶ ἐγκέφαλον συνέχευε
λᾶα βαλὼν ἑτάροιο κατὰ μόθον.
An attempt to avoid inflicting friendly fire, id. 13.165-167:
A great glare rose up through the city, because many of the Greeks held bright flares in their hands, so that they could clearly distinguish friend from foe in the conflict.

αἴγλη δ᾽ ἄσπετος ὦρτο δι᾽ ἄστεος, οὕνεκ᾽ Ἀχαιῶν
πολλοὶ ἔχον χείρεσσι πυρὸς σέλας, ὄφρ᾽ ἀνὰ δῆριν
δυσμενέας τε φίλους τε μάλ᾽ ἀτρεκέως ὁρόωσι.
Related post: Friendly Fire.


Degrees of Comparison

Clyde Kenneth Hyder, George Lyman Kittredge: Teacher and Scholar (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1962), p. 67:
Kittredge was also known to recall that sitting behind two men discussing the virtues of a dog had given him a new notion of a grammatical category that might be called "the three degrees of comparison." One of the men thus summarized his conclusions about the dog: "He's a damned good dog! He's a God-damned good dog! But I don't know he's such a hell of a God-damned good dog."
James Knowlson and Elizabeth Knowlson, edd., Beckett Remembering, Remembering Beckett: Uncollected Interviews with Samuel Beckett and Memories of Those Who Knew Him (London: Bloomsbury, 2006), p. 251:
When he was living in a retirement home during the last few weeks of his life, the hospital he was taken into when he fell gave him a course of injections for vitamin deficiency, called 'Avitaminosis'. As a result alcohol was strictly forbidden. The problem was that Beckett liked his whiskey regularly. 'That must be a bit of a bitch, Sam', I commented sympathetically. Long pause. 'No Jim. It's not a bit of a bitch. It is a bugger of a bastard of a bitch!'—a distinctly 'cool' remark for any 83-year-old to make. He went on: 'I'll make up for it later'.
Hat tip (and sole responsibility): Ian Jackson.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Burial Wishes of Cyril Connolly

Peter Levi (1931-2000), The Hill of Kronos (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1981), p. 168:
Cyril Connolly used to ask for a bottle of Worcester sauce to be buried with him, in case the cooking was not up to scratch in the next world.
Related posts:


Love and Fear

Ovid, Heroides 1.11-12 (Penelope to Ulysses; tr. Grant Showerman, rev. G.P. Goold):
When have I not feared dangers graver than the real? Love is a thing ever filled with fear.

quando ego non timui graviora pericula veris?
    res est solliciti plena timoris amor.
Id. 1.71-72:
But now, what I am to fear I know not—yet none the less I fear all things, distraught, and wide is the field lies open for my cares.

quid timeam, ignoro—timeo tamen omnia demens,
    et patet in curas area lata meas.


S. Servilius

Cicero, Philippics. With an English Translation by Walter C.A. Ker (1926; rpt. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995 = Loeb Classical Library, 189), p. 361 (translator's introduction to the eighth Philippic):
Towards the end of January the surviving envoys, L. Piso and L. Philippus (S. Servilius having died), returned from their mission to Antonius.
S. could stand for Sextus or Spurius, although Sex. and Sp. are the usual abbreviations for those praenomina. But the three envoys to Antonius were L. Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, L. Marcius Philippus, and Ser. Sulpicius Rufus. "S. Servilius" here is a mistake.

There is now a new translation of Cicero's Philippics in the Loeb Classical Library, by D.R. Shackleton Bailey, 2 vols. (2009). In his introduction to the eighth Philippic (vol. II, p. 30), Shackleton Bailey names the envoys correctly.


Monday, October 27, 2014


Live for Today

Carmina Latina Epigraphica 185 = Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum 1.1219 (6.24563) = Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae 7976, tr. E. Courtney, Musa Lapidaria (Atlanta: Scholar's Press, 1995), p. 49:
Here lie the bones of Prima (slave of?) Pompeia. Fortune pledges many things to many people, but pays up to none. Live for the day and the hour, for nothing is held in perpetuity.

The gift of Salvius and Heros.
The Latin, from Courtney, p. 48:
    PrImae PompeIae ossua heic.
Fortuna spondet multa multIs, praestat nemini.
uIue in dies et horas, nam proprium est nihil.
    Saluius et Heros dant.
In addition to Courtney's commentary (p. 240), see Peter Kruschwitz, "Notizen zu CIL I² 1219," Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 133 (2000) 243-247.


Multiple Translations

Paul Barolsky, "Dante's Infernal Fart and the Art of Translation," Arion 22.1 (Spring/Summer 2014) 93-101 (at 93-94):
In a recent review of translations of Dante's Inferno by Clive James and Mary Jo Bang (and of Dan Brown's novel of the same name) the formidable critic and polymath Joan Acocella suggested that there are by her count "something like a hundred English-language translations" of the Divine Comedy. Although I have been collecting English translations of Inferno for the last forty years or so, somewhat haphazardly, I admit, I am far behind her in my reckoning. I have in my collection only about thirty translations and I am ignorant of those I am missing. Even so, I find much to learn from the numerous translations I do have at hand. To overstate a point, I have never met a translation of the Inferno I did not like—for one reason or another.

Back in the 1970s when the Charlottesville Dante Society met regularly to discuss Inferno, we always had with us, in addition to the original, the translations of Sinclair, Singleton, Ciardi, and Sayers. As we pondered the text, we discovered at various junctures that no single translation seemed to suffice, that each of our translators offered us something distinctive. Our understanding of what we were reading was enriched by multiple translations. There were many possibilities.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


A Crash Course in Greek

Lucy Cohen, Some Recollections of Claude Goldsmid Montefiore, 1858-1938 (London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1940), pp. 37-38:
He never went to school, but learnt German (which he spoke perfectly) from his sister's governess, and Hebrew from the Reverend Professor Marks, Senior Minister of the Berkeley Street Synagogue, to whose influence he often refers in his letters. The future Sir Philip Magnus was responsible for his general education, which up to seventeen was wholly on the modern side. But it was after this date that a new world opened up to him; in order to matriculate he had to learn Greek, and on Jowett's recommendation Arnold Page, the future Dean of Peterborough, became his tutor. Page was then reading for the Bar and teaching was a new experience to him; and he told me how alarmed he felt at coming into a completely new environment—the only Jew he had known was Leonard Montefiore—but that he was at once put at ease by the family; their kindliness, he said, could not have been greater if they had been Christians. The servants remained until too old to work, and then were pensioned, and he himself met with nothing but consideration and friendliness, and, like Lord Milner, he was struck by the very happy home atmosphere. He had wondered what would be the best approach to teaching a language completely new to his pupil, and he decided that as children were the quickest linguists, he would proceed on the same lines as they did. Accordingly after a day spent on teaching the Greek letters, he began by reciting a few lines of Homer in a sort of sing-song, and getting his pupil to repeat them; this went on for a few weeks, and gradually Claude, with his quick memory, not only learned the sound, but the meaning; and in eight weeks from knowing nothing of Greek he matriculated at the London University thirtieth out of three hundred, a remarkable achievement.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

Friday, October 24, 2014


Psalm 118(119):1

Peter Levi (1931-2000), The Hill of Kronos (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1981), pp. 15-16:
We used to translate the psalm Beati immaculati in via at Heythrop as 'Blessed are they that are not spotted on the way out.' I was spotted too often, and for this among other middle-aged delinquencies I was summoned to the Rector's office and told, quite kindly I might say, that my ordination as a priest, which ought to have been that summer, was postponed until I amended my irregularities.


Poison and Vermin

G.W. Bowersock, Hellenism in Late Antiquity (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1990), p. 34 (on Ephraem of Edessa, also known as Ephraem the Syrian):
Ephraem, now recognized actually to have known more Greek than once was thought, nonetheless felt free to denounce both the Greeks and their culture. In his Hymns on the Faith he wrote the memorable line, "Blessed is the one who has never tasted the poison of the wisdom of the Greeks."17 Here, as Sebastian Brock has observed, Ephraem is using the exact Syriac equivalent (hekmta d-yawnâyê) of Athanasius's phrase hê sophia tôn Hellênôn ("the wisdom of the Greeks"), which should properly be rendered "pagan wisdom."18 On the other hand, there is little reason to believe that Ephraem could have made (or would have made) the distinction between Greeks as cultural carriers and Greeks as pagans. After all, in another place he wrote, "The accursed dialectic is vermin from the Greeks."19

17. Ephraem De fide, CSCO 154:7.
18. Brock, op. cit. (n. 10 above), p. 19.
19. Ephraem De fide, CSCO 154:268.
Footnotes 17 and 19 refer to Des Heiligen Ephraem des Syrers Hymnen De Fide, ed. Edmund Beck (Louvain: Durbecq, 1955 = Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, 154-155), which I haven't seen. I also don't have access to Paul S. Russell, "A Note on Ephraem the Syrian and 'The Poison of the Greeks' in Hymns on Faith 2," The Harp 10.3 (1997) 45-54.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


A Life Without Theoria

Robert Parker, Polytheism and Society at Athens (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 44:
'A life without theoria is a life not worth living’: here is a proposition on which the most philosophical Athenian and the least would have been able to agree. But whereas for a philosopher theoria was contemplation, for unreformed man it meant attendance at a festival where there was plenty to see. In Aristophanes' Peace Theoria appears on stage in female form as one of the delights of peace from which the Athenians have been shut off for so long. The most familiar application of the nouns theoria and theoros relates to state delegations sent to the panhellenic festivals, and at this level they represent a privilege open to few citizens. But the journey to Artemis' festival at Brauron too was a theoria, and the 'theoric fund' subsidized attendance at festivals even within the city: theoria is simply 'going to a (religious) show'.28 Like sharing in sacrifices, 'going to festivals together', συνθεωρεῖν, is a symptom and a reinforcement of close social bonds.29

28 See I. Rutherford, CQ 50 (2000), 133–8; Hdt. 6.87 speaks of a πεντητερίς at Sunium, with a θεωρὶς ναῦς. Female form: Ar. Pax 713, 871–6 (with ribald jokes about the Brauron theoria); εἰς πανηγύρεις θεωρεῖν is an ideal already, ibid. 342.

29 [Lys.] 8. 5; Isoc. 19.10, 'we were more than brothers to one another, and there was no sacrifice or theoria or other festival which we did not share'; Isae. 8.15–16 (cf. 9. 30); Pl. Ep. 7, 333e. For friends arranging to process together at the Dionysia see Aeschin. 1.43.

Michael Hendry, "Macaulay On Grote," Curculio (August 14, 2005):
Macaulay used to say that a lady who dips into Mr. Grote's history, and learns that Alcibiades won the heart of his fellow-citizens by the novelty of his theories and the splendour of his liturgies, may get a very false notion of that statesman's relations with the Athenian public.
                  George Otto Trevelyan, The Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay, i.411, note 1.

I suppose Macaulay mentions "a lady" because any man likely to read Grote would know enough Greek to distinguish between Greek theoría and leitourgía and their English cognates.


Epitaph of an Epicurean

Carmina Latina Epigraphica 961 = Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum 10.2971 = Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae 7781 (Naples, 1st century B.C.), tr. E. Courtney, Musa Lapidaria (Atlanta: Scholar's Press, 1995), p. 49:
Gaius Stallius Hauranus is in possession of this abode, a member of the revelling Epicurean band.
The Latin, from Courtney, p. 48:
Stallius Gaius has sedes Hauranus tuetur,
   ex Epicureio gaudiuigente choro.
Lewis and Short define the compound gaudivigens (apparently a hapax legomenon) as "alive with joy, full of joy." I don't see the word in the Oxford Latin Dictionary, although the inscription dates from the first century B.C., well before the OLD's cutoff of ca. 200 A.D. Otto Gradenwitz, Laterculi vocum Latinarum: voces Latinas et a fronte et a tergo ordinandas (Leipzig: S. Hirzel, 1904), p. 486, lists gaudivigens but no other compounds ending in -vigens.

Courtney (commentary on p. 241) says:
Stallius however seems not to have been a serious Epicurean, but one who took the creed as an excuse for a voluptuous life; the tone is very much that of Epicuri de grege porcum, sharpened in Cicero's attack on Piso.
But cf. Dirk Obbink, "Vergil, Philodemus, and the Lament of Iuturna," in Vertis in Usum: Studies in Honor of Edward Courtney (München: Saur, 2002), pp. 90-113 (at 110, n. 56):
Actually Epicureius (here transferred poetically to chorus) indicates that that Stallius was no mere Epicurean, but rather an Epicurean philosophus, i.e. teacher. Cf. the other instances of Epicureus, Stoicus, and philosophus cited in CIL ad loc.; for philosophical designations in inscriptions and papyri see J. and L. Robert, REG 71 (1958) 197-200.
See also Kent J. Rigsby, "Hauranus the Epicurean," Classical Journal 104.1 (2008) 19-22.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


No Way to Pay and Promotion

Peter Levi (1931-2000), The Hill of Kronos (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1981), p. 31:
I remember as a theological student going to see Sir Maurice Bowra in Oxford, when I knew I was destined to teach there. I wanted to know how to behave, what sort of teacher to be. God knows what I wanted. He asked what my main interests were. I said literature, and within literature rather Greek than Latin, though both, and rather poetry than prose, but also Greek vase-painting. It came out in a sort of stutter. 'I see,' he said. 'Pots and poetry. Like me. Pots and poetry. No way to pay and promotion. No way to pay and promotion.'
Related post: The Value of Studying Greek.



Michael Oakeshott (1901-1990), Notebooks, 1922-86 (Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2014), pp. 430-431:
There was a species of mischievous sprite which succeeded on the death of Pan as the representation of disorder in the world, of minor evil. They could be placated with food (a saucer of milk or a cake), but only temporarily. But they were capable of no final destructiveness.

There is a story of them in Corfu (where they are called Kallikantzaroi): during the ten days before Good Friday they are all engaged in the underworld upon the task of sawing through the giant plane-tree whose trunk upholds the world. Every year they almost succeed, but the cry 'Christ is Risen' saves us all by restoring the tree & driving the malicious spirits up into the world again for another year.
Arthur Bernard Cook (1868-1952), Zeus: A Study in Ancient Religion, Vol. II, Part I (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1925), p. 56, n. 2:
Attention may here be drawn to the various accounts of the Kallikantzaroi given by the modern Greeks. These are summarised as follows by J.C. Lawson Modern Greek Folklore and Ancient Greek Religion Cambridge 1910 p. 194: 'The Callicantzari appear only during the δωδεκαήμερον or "period of twelve days" between Christmas and Epiphany1. (1Leo Allatius (De quor. Graec. opinat. cap. ix.) makes the period a week only, ending on New Year's Day.) The rest of the year they live in the lower world, and occupy themselves in trying to gnaw through or cut down the great tree (or in other accounts the one or more columns) on which the world rests. Each Christmas they have nearly completed their task, when the time comes for their appearance in the upper world, and during their twelve days' absence, the supports of the world are made whole again.' Details will be found in N.G. Polites Παραδόσεις Athens 1904 i.331 no. 590 from Bourboura in Kynouria (The Lykokatzaraioi come from below the earth. All the time they are hewing away with their axes at the tree which supports the earth (τὸ δέντρο ποῦ βαστάει τὴ γῆς). They chop and chop till a tiny piece no bigger than a thread remains uncut, and they say 'Come, let us be off; it will fall of itself.' They return after the Baptism and find the tree entire, absolutely whole. And again they chop, and again they come, and so continually do they busy themselves), i.347 no. 612 from Naupaktos (...the Pagan Ones begin hewing with their teeth and with axes the three columns which support the world (τοῖς τρεῖς κολόνναις, ποῦ βασττᾶν τὸν κόσμο), to hurl them down, that the world may collapse. Etc.), i.352 no. 621 from Lasta in the deme Mylaon, Gortynia (The earth is supported below by one column, which has four other pillars (μιὰ κολόννα, ποῦ ἔχει τέσσερους ἄλλους στύλους [infra § 3 (a) iii (κ)]). There the Kolikantzaroi are in bondage for ever and labour at cutting the column to make the earth fall. Etc.), i.354 no. 622 from Demetsana in Gortynia (The Kallikantzaroi are naked, apart from beards and moustaches, and in size resemble a child of ten, some being a little taller, others a little shorter. They dwell in the Underworld, where there are three wooden columns supporting the whole earth (ἐκεῖ εἶναι τρεῖς ξύλιναις κολόνναις καὶ κρατοῦν ὅλην τὴν γῆ). The Kalikantzaraioi want to cut the columns and overthrow the world, and they are perpetually getting to work with their axes and chopping the three columns. Etc.), i.335 no. 623 from Gralista in the deme Ithome, Karditsa (The Karkantsaloi have their dwelling in Hades, and gnaw with their teeth the pillars which support the sky, that it may fall and crush the earth (κὶ ῥουκανοῦν μὶ τὰ δόντια τους τὰ στύλια ἀπ' βαστοῦν τοὺν οὐρανὸ νὰ μὴν πέσῃ κὶ πλεκώσῃ τὴ γῆ). They gnaw and gnaw and do their utmost to cut the pillars. Etc.). See further N.G. Polites Μελέτη ἐπὶ τοῦ βίου τῶν Νεωτέρων Ἑλλήνων Athens 1871 i.26 and 69, J-N. Svoronos in the Journ. Intern. d'Arch. Num. 1912 xiv.252 and 280. It will be observed that, whereas most of these versions make the tree (no. 590) or columns (nos. 612, 621, 622) support the earth, one at least (no. 623) makes the pillars support the sky.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014



Homer, Odyssey 17.485–487 (tr. George E. Dimock):
And the gods do, in the guise of strangers from afar, put on all manner of shapes, and visit the cities, beholding the violence and the righteousness of men.

καί τε θεοὶ ξείνοισιν ἐοικότες ἀλλοδαποῖσι,
παντοῖοι τελέθοντες, ἐπιστρωφῶσι πόληας,
ἀνθρώπων ὕβριν τε καὶ εὐνομίην ἐφορῶντες.


Seven Cities

Greek Anthology 16.297 (tr. W.R. Paton):
Seven cities claim to be the root of Homer: Cyme, Smyrna, Chios, Colophon, Pylos, Argos, Athens.

ἑπτὰ ἐριδμαίνουσι πόλεις διὰ ῥίζαν Ὁμήρου,
Κύμη, Σμύρνα, Χίος, Κολοφών, Πύλος, Ἄργος, Ἀθῆναι.
Greek Anthology 16.298 (tr. W.R. Paton):
Seven cities strive for the learned root of Homer: Smyrna, Chios, Colophon, Ithaca, Pylos, Argos, Athens.

ἑπτὰ πόλεις μάρναντο σοφὴν διὰ ῥίζαν Ὁμήρου,
Σμύρνα, Χίος, Κολοφών, Ἰθάκη, Πύλος, Ἄργος, Ἀθῆναι.
In both poems the cities, in asyndeton, fill up a hexameter.

Related posts:


The Better Part

John Davidson (1857-1909), Sentences and Paragraphs (London: Lawrence & Bullen, 1893), p. 22:
He who dares manfully to lounge and take his leisure, no matter what his calling or what his necessity, often chooses the better part.
Cf. Luke 10:40-42.


Cowardice and Bravery

Homer, Iliad 13.275-291 (Idomeneus to Meriones; tr. Samuel Butler):
I know you for a brave man: you need not tell me. If the best men at the ships were being chosen to go on an ambush — and there is nothing like this for showing what a man is made of; it comes out then who is cowardly and who brave; the coward will change colour at every touch and turn; [280] he is full of fears, and keeps shifting his weight first on one knee and then on the other; his heart beats fast as he thinks of death, and one can hear the chattering of his teeth; whereas the brave man will not change colour nor be [285] frightened on finding himself in ambush, but is all the time longing to go into action — if the best men were being chosen for such a service, no one could make light of your courage nor feats of arms. If you were struck by a dart or smitten in close combat, it would not be from behind, in your neck nor back, [290] but the weapon would hit you in the chest or belly as you were pressing forward to a place in the front ranks.

οἶδ᾽ ἀρετὴν οἷός ἐσσι· τί σε χρὴ ταῦτα λέγεσθαι;        275
εἰ γὰρ νῦν παρὰ νηυσὶ λεγοίμεθα πάντες ἄριστοι
ἐς λόχον, ἔνθα μάλιστ᾽ ἀρετὴ διαείδεται ἀνδρῶν,
ἔνθ᾽ ὅ τε δειλὸς ἀνὴρ ὅς τ᾽ ἄλκιμος ἐξεφαάνθη·
τοῦ μὲν γάρ τε κακοῦ τρέπεται χρὼς ἄλλυδις ἄλλῃ,
οὐδέ οἱ ἀτρέμας ἧσθαι ἐρητύετ᾽ ἐν φρεσὶ θυμός,        280
ἀλλὰ μετοκλάζει καὶ ἐπ᾽ ἀμφοτέρους πόδας ἵζει,
ἐν δέ τέ οἱ κραδίη μεγάλα στέρνοισι πατάσσει
κῆρας ὀϊομένῳ, πάταγος δέ τε γίγνετ᾽ ὀδόντων·
τοῦ δ᾽ ἀγαθοῦ οὔτ᾽ ἂρ τρέπεται χρὼς οὔτέ τι λίην
ταρβεῖ, ἐπειδὰν πρῶτον ἐσίζηται λόχον ἀνδρῶν,        285
ἀρᾶται δὲ τάχιστα μιγήμεναι ἐν δαῒ λυγρῇ·
οὐδέ κεν ἔνθα τεόν γε μένος καὶ χεῖρας ὄνοιτο.
εἴ περ γάρ κε βλεῖο πονεύμενος ἠὲ τυπείης
οὐκ ἂν ἐν αὐχέν᾽ ὄπισθε πέσοι βέλος οὐδ᾽ ἐνὶ νώτῳ,
ἀλλά κεν ἢ στέρνων ἢ νηδύος ἀντιάσειε        290
πρόσσω ἱεμένοιο μετὰ προμάχων ὀαριστύν.
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Monday, October 20, 2014


No Time for Literature

John Davidson (1857-1909), Sentences and Paragraphs (London: Lawrence & Bullen, 1893), pp. 19-20:
People complain nowadays that they have no time for literature, there are so many newspapers to read, every right-thinking person being expected to know daily the current news of the world, not later in the evening than the issue of the "extra special." It is supposed that this is quite a modern excuse for the decay of the reading of literature; and sighs are deeply breathed for the time when "Clarissa Harlowe" was deemed too short, when "Evelina" was voted brilliant, or when nobody found the Waverley Novels tiresome. And yet, since we began to have a prose literature this complaint has always existed. The melancholy Butler, as far back as 1614, puts it thus, speaking of the majority: "if they read a book at any time, 'tis an English chronicle, 'St. Huon of Bordeaux,' 'Amadas de Gaul,' etc., a play-book or some pamphlet of news." The major part of the reading public has been perennially interested in current events, and the man who says he can't find time to read literature because it is a social duty to be acquainted with news, makes a virtue of curiosity, like any Greek frequenter of the Areopagus or Jacobean subscriber to the "Staple of News."
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.


Wine, Pure Wine

Aurelian Townshend (1583-1649), "A Bacchanall," Poems and Masks, ed. E.K. Chambers (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1912), pp. 7-8:
Bacchus, I-acchus, fill our Brains
  As well as Bowls with sprightly strains:
Let Souldiers fight for pay or praise,
  And mony be the Misers wish,
Poor Schollers study all their dayes,
  And Gluttons glory in their dish:
    'Tis wine, pure wine, revives sad souls,
    Therefore give us the cheer in Bowls.
                        Bacchus, I-acchus, &c.

Bacchus, I-acchus, &c.
Let Minions Marshall ev'ry hair,
  Or in a Lovers lock delight,
And Artificiall colours wear,
  We have the Native Red and White:
    'Tis Wine, pure Wine, &c.

Bacchus, I-acchus, &c.
Take Phesant Poults, and calved Sammon,
  Or how to please your pallats think,
Give us a salt West-phalia Gammon,
  Not meat to eat, but meat to drink:
    'Tis Wine, pure Wine, &c.

Bacchus, I-acchus, &c.
Some have the Ptisick, some the Rhume,
  Some have the Palsie, some the Gout,
Some swell with fat, and some consume,
  But they are sound that drink all out:
    'Tis Wine, pure Wine, &c.

Bacchus, I-acchus, &c.
The backward spirit it makes brave,
  That forward which before was dull;
Those grow good fellows that were grave,
  And kindness flows from cups brim full:
    'Tis Wine, pure Wine, &c.

Bacchus, I-acchus, &c.
Some men want Youth, and some want health,
  Some want a Wife and some a Punke,
Some men want wit, and some want wealth,
  But they want nothing that are drunke:
    'Tis Wine, pure Wine, &c.



A Poem by Leo the Philosopher

A poem by Leo the Philosopher (Greek Anthology 15.12; tr. W.R. Paton, with his note):
Thou art kind to me, Fortune, in adorning me with the most sweet restfulness of Epicurus and giving me calm to enjoy it. What need have I of men's activity with all its cares? I desire not wealth, a blind and inconstant friend, nor honours, for the honours of mortals are a feeble dream. Away with thee, murky den of Circe, for I am ashamed, being of heavenly origin, to eat acorns like a beast. I hate the sweet food of the Lotus-eaters that causes men to abandon their country. I reject as my enemy the seductive music of the Sirens, but I pray to gain from God the flower that saves the soul, moly1 that protects from evil doctrines, and stopping my ears securely with wax may I escape the ill inborn impulse. Thus speaking and thus writing may I reach the end of my days.

1 The magic herb of Hom. Od. 10, 305.

Εὖγε Τύχη με ποεῖς, ἀπραγμοσύνῃ μ᾽ Ἐπικούρου
ἡδίστῃ κομέουσα, καὶ ἡσυχίῃ τέρπουσα·
τίπτε δέ μοι χρέος ἀσχολίης πολυκηδέος ἀνδρῶν;
οὐκ ἐθέλω πλοῦτον, τυφλὸν φίλον, ἀλλοπρόσαλλον,
οὐ τιμάς· τιμαὶ δὲ βροτῶν ἀμενηνὸς ὄνειρος.        5
ἔρρε μοι, ὦ Κίρκης δνοφερὸν σπέος· αἰδέομαι γὰρ
οὐράνιος γεγαὼς βαλάνους ἅτε θηρίον ἔσθειν·
μισῶ Λωτοφάγων γλυκερὴν λιπόπατριν ἐδωδήν·
Σειρήνων τε μέλος καταγωγὸν ἀναίνομαι ἐχθρόν·
ἀλλὰ λαβεῖν θεόθεν ψυχοσσόον εὔχομαι ἄνθος,        10
μῶλυ, κακῶν δοξῶν ἀλκτήριον ὦτα δὲ κηρῷ
ἀσφαλέως κλείσας προφυγεῖν γενετήσιον ὁρμήν.
ταῦτα λέγων τε γράφων τε πέρας βιότοιο κιχείην.
The first word of the ninth line is missing an accent in the Loeb Classical library text—The Greek Anthology with an English Translation by W.R. Paton, Vol. V (London: William Heinemann, 1918), p. 118. I don't know if this was corrected in later printings.

There is a more recent edition in L.G. Westerink, "Leo the Philosopher: 'Job' and Other Poems," Illinois Classical Studies 11.1/2 (Spring/Fall 1986) 193-222 (this poem on pp. 199-200, numbered IX).

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Word-for-Word Translation

Aurelian Townshend (1583-1649), "To the Right Honourable, the Lord Cary, Eldest Sonne to the Earle of Monmouth," lines 1-6, in his Poems and Masks, ed. E.K. Chambers (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1912), p. 43:
Verball Translators sticke to the bare Text,
Sometimes so close, the Reader is perplex't,
Finding the words, to finde the wit that sprung
From the first writer in his native tongue.
The spirit of an Authour being fled,
His naked lines looke like a body dead.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.


Lives Unlike Our Own

Victor Davis Hanson, Warfare and Agriculture in Classical Greece, rev. ed. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), pp. 2-3:
It is all too easy for us today to forget these material conditions of the past and thus the critical role of warfare and agriculture in antiquity. Few citizens of the United States have served in an army; almost none—thank God—have killed someone in battle or destroyed the property of an enemy. Our efforts at protection are limited to bars on our windows, electronic alarms, blinking lights, and automatic locks; we are not dependent on armor and weapons over the hearth and the muscular condition of our right arms. Nighttime without streetlights, police cruisers, or a powerful flashlight is full of foreboding and terror—as the panic that follows the occasional urban blackout attests. Only about 1 percent of our population now lives on farms; most of us have no idea how to grow food, build our own house, hitch up a horse, or butcher a pig. An outbreak of food poisoning at the local fast-food franchise causes national scandal. We rarely walk more than a few hundred yards a day. The majority of Americans live in temperature-controlled rooms and approach hysteria when the electricity that powers our ranges, air conditioners, televisions, and washers ceases for a few hours. The lack of running water or phones for more than a day is the stuff of lawsuits against our municipal utilities. Our knowledge of dirty work, physical violence, and the savagery of the natural landscape itself is mostly limited to what we see on television or read in newspapers, magazines, and books; those with muscular physiques owe their impressive anatomy to weight machines, high-tech sneakers, and entertaining videos. And they win such contours without the tears, wounds, scratches, and blisters that routinely accompany the physical effort to plant, prune, harvest, and plow. Instead, we work out in sanitary and often inviting gyms, where cool air, piped-in music, scented towels, and hot showers are prerequisites. The color of our complexion and the smoothness of our skin are integral to this look of fitness, not calluses and disfiguring scars, which for thousands of years were the natural wages of a hard stomach and ample biceps.

How difficult it is, then, to remember that the Greeks not only did things that we would not, but also things that we could not do. How important it is as well to keep in mind that dramatic performances, democracy itself, vase painting, Ionic columns, and bronze statues were the veneer of a culture that at its heart was in an endless war to feed and protect itself from the savageries of humans and nature. In short, we especially of the deskbound academic class who write our histories must remember that the Athenians, the Thebans, and the Argives lived lives centered around farming and fighting, lives so foreign from our own as now to be almost unimaginable.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Argumentum ex Silentio

Strabo 1.2.22 (tr. Horace Leonard Jones):
The fact that he did not mention them is no sign that he did not know about them — he does not mention his own native country, either, nor many other things — but rather would one say that Homer thought the best-known facts were not worth mentioning to those who already knew them.

εἰ δὲ μὴ ἐμνήσθη τούτων, οὐ τοῦτο σημεῖον τοῦ ἀγνοεῖν (οὐδὲ γὰρ τῆς αὐτοῦ πατρίδος ἐμνήσθη οὐδὲ πολλῶν ἄλλων) ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον τὰ λίαν γνώριμα ὄντα φαίη τις ἂν δόξαι μὴ ἄξια μνήμης εἶναι πρὸς τοὺς εἰδότας.


Twelve Gods

Ennius, Annals, Book I, fragment XXXVII (62-63) Vahlen, in Ennianae Poesis Reliquiae, 2nd ed. (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1903), p. 11:
Iuno, Vesta, Minerva, Ceres, Diana, Venus, Mars
Mercurius, Iovis, Neptunus, Vulcanus, Apollo.
This is the earliest example of asyndeton filling hexameters in Latin. Thanks very much to Angelo Mercado for pointing this out to me. I don't have access to Otto Skutsch's edition of Ennius' Annals.

Related posts:


What I Hate about Amazon

What a deal! Otto Skutsch's edition of Ennius' Annals for only $26.99 in paperback!

But click on the $26.99 price and what appears? Ethel Mary Steuart's edition:

Amazon needs to hire some librarians.

Related post: Amazon Books.

Friday, October 17, 2014


De Pudendis Antiquitatis Opuscula Harvardiana

Andrew Garrett and Leslie Kurke, "Pudenda Asiae Minoris," Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 96 (1994) 75-83 (at 75, n. 1):
These studies are also the latest de pudendis antiquitatis opuscula Harvardiana, following seminal work by C. Watkins ("La famille indo-européenne de grec ὄρχις: linguistique, poétique, et mythologie," Bulletin del la société de linguistique 70 [1975] 11-25) and other contributions by Watkins ("Latin suppus," Journal of Indo-European Studies 1 [1973] 394-399; "ANOΣTEOΣ ON ΠOΔA TENΔEI," in Étrennes de septantaine ... offerts à Michel Lejeune [Paris 1978 (Études et commentaires 91)] 231-235; "A Greco-Hittite Etymology," in J. Tischler, ed., Serta Indogermanica: Festschrift für Günter Neumann [Innsbruck 1982 (Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft 40)] 455-457) and H.C. Melchert ("Pudenda hethitica," Journal of Cuneiform Studies 35 [1983] 137-145).
Joshua T. Katz, "Testimonia Ritus Italici: Male Genitalia, Solemn Statements, and a New Latin Sound Law," Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 98 (1998) 183-217 (at 183-184, n. 1):
This paper is my contribution to what Andrew Garrett and Leslie Kurke, "Pudenda Asiae Minoris," HSCP 96 (1994) 75 n. 1 call "de pudendis antiquitatis opuscula Harvardiana," which include Calvert Watkins's classic article on the word for 'testicle,' "La famille indo-européenne de grec ὄρχις: linguistique, poétique, et mythologie," BSL 70 (1975) 11-26 ( = Selected Writings, ed. Lisi Oliver [Innsbruck 1994 (Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft 80)] 2.520-535); see also Stephanie W. Jamison's discussion of the meaning of Atharvavedic kákṣa- in 6.127.2 and its associations with muṣká- in "Linguistic and Philological Remarks on some Vedic Body Parts," in Calvert Watkins ed., Studies in Memory of Warren Cowgill (1929-1985): Papers from the Fourth East Coast Indo-European Conference, Cornell University, June 6-9, 1985 (Berlin 1987 [Studies in Indo-European Language and Culture N.S. 3]) 85-88 and passim.
I don't know if there have been any additions to this unofficial series since 1998. I should have these opuscula privately printed, to add to my collection of curiosa.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Asyndeton Filling Hexameters in Corippus

Thanks very much to Ethan Osten for drawing my attention to Corippus, Iohannis 1.44-46:
quis lacrimas, clades, praedas, incendia, mortes,
insidias, gemitus, tormentum, vincula, raptus
explicet aut miseros possit numerare dolores?
Line 45 is an example of a hexameter consisting entirely of nouns in asyndeton (raptus is of course an accusative plural fourth declension noun here, not a participle). Similar examples (with different parts of speech), also from Corippus' Iohannis, include:

4.222 (where adulter is an adjective, not a noun):
perfídus, infelix, atrox, insulsus, adulter
magnanimus, mitis, sapiens, fortissimus, insons
ardet, anhelat, hiat, pallet, rubet, aestuat, alget
Two more examples, these from Corippus' In Laudem Iustini Minoris:

saltatus, risus, discursus, gaudia, plausus
aesculus, alnus, acer, terebinthus, populus, ornus
Related posts:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


The Weight of Mankind

M.L. West, Indo-European Poetry and Myth (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 23:
Some myths that occur both in India and in Greece can be traced to the far-reaching influence of Mesopotamia. For instance, in one of the poems of the Greek Epic Cycle, the Cypria, it was related that once upon a time Earth was oppressed by the excessive numbers of people milling about on top of her. Zeus took pity on her and conceived the plan of lightening the burden by means of the Trojan War. A similar myth is found in the Mahābhārata. The earth once complained to Brahmā of the ever-increasing weight of mankind, and Brahmā created death to alleviate the problem. Some have inferred from the coincidence that an Indo-European tradition lies behind the story, although it appears only in a late phase of the Greek epic tradition and at an even later date in India. What is more to the point is that a similar myth is attested over a thousand years earlier in Mesopotamia. The natural conclusion is that the Greek and the Indian poets were both using a motif somehow derived from Mesopotamia, not one inherited from Graeco-Aryan antiquity.56

56 Cypria fr. 1; MBh. 1.58, 3.142, 11.8.20–6, 12.248–50, etc.; V. Pisani, ZDMG 103 (1953), 127 f. = Schmitt (1968), 156 f.; id. (1969), 64 f.; Durante (1976), 61; W. Ruben, Sitzb. Ak. Wiss. DDR 1973 (24), 50–5; C. Vielle in L. Isebaert and R. Lebrun (edd.), Quaestiones Homericae (Louvain–Namur 1998), 275–90; West (1997), 480–2.


Poor Things

Peter Levi (1931-2000), interview with Jannika Hurwitt, Paris Review (Fall 1979):
I don't think there's anything so odd about being a classical scholar. It's just that most people aren't classical scholars because they don't know Greek and Latin, poor things.
His advice to young writers, from the same interview:
Steer clear of the writing departments of universities. Steer clear of English. Learn foreign, preferably dead languages, but learn them properly.


Vilgard of Ravenna

Rodulfus Glaber, i.e. Ralph the Bald (985–1047), Historiarum libri quinque ab anno incarnationis DCCCC usque ad annum MXLIV, book 2, chapter 12, in Patrologia Latina 142, cols. 611-698 (at 644 A-C), tr. at Fordham University, Medieval Sourcebook: Ralph the Bald (ca.1025): Early Appearances of Heresy, c. 970. Vilgard at Ravenna, and Other Disturbances (
At that time also, mischief not unlike the above appeared at Ravenna. A certain man named Vilgard occupied himself with more eagerness than constancy in literary studies, for it was always the Italian habit to pursue these to the neglect of the other arts. Then one night when, puffed up with pride in the knowledge of his art, he had begun to reveal himself to be more stupid than wise, demons in the likeness of the poets Vergil, Horace, and Juvenal appeared to him, pretending thanks for the loving study which he devoted to the contents of their books and for serving as their happy herald to posterity. They promised him, moreover, that he would soon share their renown. Corrupted by these devilish deceptions, he began pompously to teach many things contrary to holy faith and made the assertion that the words of the poets deserved belief in all instances. But he was at last discovered to be a heretic and was condemned by Peter, archbishop of that city.

Many others holding this noxious doctrine were discovered throughout Italy, and they too died by sword and pyre. Indeed, at this same period some went forth from the island of Sardinia—which usually teems with this sort of folk—to infect the people of Spain, but they were exterminated by the Catholics. This accords with the prophecy of the apostle John, in which he said that Satan would be released when a thousand years has passed. Of this we shall treat more fully in a third book.
The Latin, from Patrologia Latina:
Ipso quoque tempore non impar apud Ravennam exortum est malum. Quidam igitur Vilgardus dictus, studio artis grammaticae magis assiduus quam frequens, sicut Italis mos semper fuit artes negligere caeteras, illam sectari. Is enim cum ex scientia suae artis coepisset, inflatus superbia, stultior apparere, quadam nocte assumpsere daemones poetarum species Virgilii et Horatii atque Juvenalis, apparentesque illi, fallaces retulerunt grates quoniam suorum dicta voluminum charius amplectens exerceret, seque illorum posteritatis felicem esse praeconem; promiserunt ei insuper suae gloriae postmodum fore participem. Hisque daemonum fallaciis depravatus, coepit multa turgide docere fidei sacrae contraria, dictaque poetarum per omnia credenda esse asserebat. Ad ultimum vero haereticus est repertus, atque a pontifice ipsius urbis Petro damnatus.

Plures etiam per Italiam tempore hujus pestiferi dogmatis reperti, quique ipsi aut gladiis aut incendiis perierunt. Ex Sardinia quoque insula, quae his plurimum abundare solet, ipso tempore aliqui egressi, partem populi in Hispania corrumpentes, et ipsi a viris catholicis exterminati sunt. Quod praesagium Joannis prophetiae congruit; quia dixit Satanam solvendum, expletis mille annis, de quibus in tertio jam libello prolixias [sic, read prolixius] tractabimus.
The translation may come from Rodulfus Glaber, Opera, edd. John France, Neithard Bulst, and Paul Reynolds (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), pp. 92-93, which I haven't seen. The Latin text and a different translation can also be found in Jan M. Ziolkowski and Michael C.J. Putnam, edd., The Virgilian Tradition: The First Fifteen Hundred Years (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), pp. 895-896.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


A Stranger in Paradise with a Clipboard

M.L. West, Indo-European Poetry and Myth (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), p. v:
It remains the case that I write as a professional Hellenist, as much an amateur in Indo-European studies as in oriental. I have furnished myself with a working knowledge of some of the relevant languages. I have explored the literatures, roaming far and wide through unfamiliar landscapes, some rugged, some lush, a stranger in Paradise with a clipboard. But when it comes to the reconstruction of proto-Indo-European roots constipated with hypothetical laryngeals, I defer to the authority of the pundits—those black-belt analysts whom I personally hold in the highest admiration, but whom some may view as the unreadable in pursuit of the unpronounceable.


More Examples of Asyndeton Filling Hexameters

Ausonius 14.20.31:
vitree, glauce, profunde, sonore, inlimis, opace
Latin Anthology 21.59:
thynnus, salpa, lagos, lupus, ostrea, sepia, mullus
Latin Anthology 21.107-109:
remus, cumba, fretum, gurges, notus, ancora, lembus,
(b)arca, amus, pumex, conchae, vada, litus, harena,
co(n)tus, saeta, salum, calamus, †notae†, retia, suber
Latin Anthology 21.176-177:
vilis, inops, scaevus, turpis, temerarius, ardens,
perditus, abiectus, maledictus, sordidus, amens
Latin Anthology 21.269:
aurum, templa, nefas, titulos, epigrammata, munus
Latin Anthology 83.124:
inprobe, dure, nocens, crudelis, perfide, fallax
On the asyndeton-filling hexameters in Latin Anthology 21 see E. Courtney, "Some Poems of the Latin Anthology," Classical Philology 79 (1984) 309-312 (at 310).

Related posts:



J. Enoch Powell (1912-1998), "Notes on Herodotus," Classical Quarterly 29 (1935) 72-82 (at 72):
A translator, being obliged by the nature of his task to attend to every single successive phrase of his author, however plain the meaning may seem, and to consider the intelligibility of what he renders to the uninitiated, sometimes discovers points of real difficulty which have escaped even the most thorough commentators, or arrives at fresh solutions of old problems.

Monday, October 13, 2014


The Pleasantest Things

Plutarch, On Superstition 9 = Moralia 169 d (tr. Frank Cole Babbitt):
The pleasantest things that men enjoy are festal days and banquets at the temples, initiations and mystic rites, and prayer and adoration of the gods.

ἣδιστα δὲ τοῖς ἀνθρώποις ἑορταὶ καὶ εἰλαπίναι πρὸς ἱεροῖς καὶ μυήσεις καὶ ὀργιασμοὶ καὶ κατευχαὶ θεῶν καὶ προσκυνήσεις.
Related post: Holidays.


The Duration of Joy

Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852), "The Nose," tr. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky:
But nothing in this world lasts long, and therefore joy, in the minute that follows the first, is less lively; in the third minute it becomes still weaker, and finally it merges imperceptibly with one's usual state of mind, as a ring in the water, born of a stone's fall, finally merges with the smooth surface.


Catullus 5.4-6, Misquoted

John Griffiths, The Good Spy (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1990), p. 189 (click to enlarge):

                 PART IV

"Soles occidere et redire possunt.
Nobis cul semel occidit brevis lux
Nox est perpetua una dormienda."

("Suns may set and rise again.
For us, once our brief light is spent,
there is one perpetual night to be slept through.")
The translation is accurate, but the Latin text is not. There is no such Latin word as cul, which in French means backside, bum, derived from Latin culus, meaning anus. The word culus does make its first appearance in Latin literature elsewhere in Catullus (23.19; 33.4; 97.2, 4, 12; 98.4). See J.N. Adams, "Culus, Clunes, and Their Synonyms in Latin," Glotta 59 (1981) 231-264. The culus is a place where suns don't rise and set, indeed don't shine at all, as the expression goes. Read cum for cul.

Hat tip: A friend.


Sunday, October 12, 2014


Inside the Heads of Half-Wits

Johann Gottlieb Fichte, "From a Private Letter (1800)," tr. Daniel Breazeale in J.G. Fichte, Introductions to the Wissenschaftslehre and Other Writings, 1797-1800 (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1994), p. 158:
Alas, my friend, I am entirely lacking in the talent required for sniffing out the inconsistencies and contradictions that ceaselessly rattle around and patiently tolerate one another's presence within the heads of our half-wits...

O, mein Freund, es fehlt mir ganz am Geschick, die Inconsequenzen und Widersprüche, die sich in den Köpfen unserer Halbdenker unaufhörlich herumtummeln und unter einander geduldig vertragen, zu wittern...
Related post: Cognitive Dissonance.


Friendly Fire

Examples of "friendly fire," i.e. soldiers inadvertently attacking their comrades, rather than the enemy, are known from the Peloponnesian War (Delium, 424 B.C.: Thucydides 4.96.3; Epipolae, 413 B.C.: Thucydides 7.44). Here is a fictional example from the Trojan War, told by Quintus Smyrnaeus, 11.247-254 (tr. Frederick M. Combellack):
When they were busy with the toil of battle, the restless winds raised a great dust storm. It darkened all the vast sky above, like a fog that reduces visibility to zero. It concealed the ground and destroyed the men's ability to see. But even so, they fought. They recklessly killed anyone they laid their hands on, even if he was a great friend. There was no way to determine in the tumult whether the man who approached was a friend or an enemy. The soldiers felt helpless.

καί ῥ᾽ οἱ μὲν πονέοντο· κόνιν δ᾽ ἀκάμαντες ἀῆται
ὦρσαν ἀπειρεσίην· ἤχλυσε δὲ πᾶσαν ὕπερθεν
ἠέρα θεσπεσίην, ὥς τ᾽ ἀπροτίοπτος ὀμίχλη,
οὐδ᾽ ἄρα φαίνετο γαῖα, βροτῶν δ᾽ ἀμάθυνεν ὀπωπάς·
ἀλλὰ καὶ ὣς μάρναντο· καὶ ἐς χέρας ὅντιν᾽ ἕλοντο
κτεῖνον ἀνηλεγέως, καὶ εἰ μάλα φίλτατος ἦεν·
οὐ γὰρ ἔην φράσσασθαι ἀνὰ κλόνον οὔτ᾽ ἐπιόντα
δήιον οὔτ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ἑταῖρον· ἀμηχανίη δ᾽ ἔχε λαούς.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Sexist and Racist

Bernard Knox (1914-2010), The Oldest Dead White European Males and Other Reflections on the Classics (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1993), p. 12:
Advocates of multiculturalism and militant feminists, among others, have denounced the traditional canon of literature that has so long served as the educational base for Western societies, repudiating it not only as sexist and racist but even as the instrument of ideological Gleichschaltung used by a ruling class to impose conformity. At the heart of this so-called canon, its source and still after all these years its vital core, are the masterpieces of classical Greek literature: the epic poems of Homer; the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides; the comedies of Aristophanes; the histories of Herodotus and Thucydides; the odes of Pindar and the remnants of the other lyric poets, Sappho their brightest star; and the dialogues of Plato.


A Favorite Tree

Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585), Odes IV.22 (tr. Malcolm Quainton and Elizabeth Vinestock):
Lovely hawthorn, blossoming, flourishing greenly along this lovely riverbank, you are clad from top to toe in the long tendrils of a wild vine.

Two armies of red ants are garrisoned beneath your roots; in the cracks down the length of your trunk the bees make their home.

The Nightingale, youthful little songster, when he is wooing his beloved, in order to ease the pain of love takes up residence every year in your leafy boughs.

On your topmost branch he makes his nest, smoothly finished with moss and fine silk, where his little ones will hatch, which will become the sweet prey of my hands.

So live, dear Hawthorn, live everlastingly, live without thunder, or the axe, or winds, or time ever being able to dash you to the ground.
The French, from Ronsard's Oeuvres (Paris: Gabriel Buon, 1584), p. 360:
Bel Aubepin fleurissant,
Le long de ce beau riuage,
Tu es vestu iusqu'au bas
Des longs bras
D'vne lambrunche sauuage.

Deux camps de rouges fourmis
    Se sont mis
En garnison sous ta souche:
Dans les pertuis de ton tronc
    Tout du long
Les auettes ont leur couche.

Le chantre Rossignolet
Courtisant sa bien-aimée,
Pour ses amours alleger
    Vient loger
Tous les ans en ta ramée.

Sur ta cime il fait son ny
    Tout vny
De mousse & de fine soye,
Où ses petits esclorront,
    Qui seront
De mes mains la douce proye.

Or vy gentil Aubepin,
    Vy sans fin,
Vy sans que iamais tonnerre,
Ou la coignée, ou les vents,
    Ou les temps
Te puissent ruer par terre.
Image of the ode from the 1584 edition:

I learned about this poem from Carol Maddison, Apollo and the Nine: A History of the Ode (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1960), pp. 270-271:
Another of the nature poems and one of Ronsard's greatest lyrics is "Bel aubepin verdissant."1 Here, in a kind of prayer-ode, Ronsard describes a familiar tree with loving exactitude, a tree that is manifestly mortal like all living things, yet all the more dear because of that. The hawthorne is covered to the end of its branches with a parasitic vine, its foot is half-eaten away by two camps of red ants, and its hollow stump has already found a new tenant, a swarm of wild bees. The nightingale comes there yearly to build his nest, but Ronsard, as pitiless as nature, steals its young. The scene is one of luxuriant life on the bank of a stream, of constant growth and constant decay, of the replacement of the old by the new, and of carelessness about the individual. Then Ronsard, the poet, the giver of eternal life, commands his "Bel Aubepin" to be immortal and so it endures, fixed and unchanged.

The last stanza recalls Horace's envoi to his first three books of odes. There the poet's monument, here the hawthorne tree, survives, through the immortal power of poetry, unharmed by storm or wind or the flight of time. But there is a closer parallel to the conclusion of this ode in Horace III, 13, the Bandusia ode, where the poet is explicit about his immortalizing function, "Fies nobilium tu quoque fontium / Me dicente," and in Ronsard's imitation of Horace in "A La Fontaine Bellerie," "Que tu vives par mes vers." Laumonier thinks that the particular source of inspiration for these lines was Flaminio's
Irrigui fontes, et fontibus addita vallis,
    Cinctaque piniferis silva cacuminibus...
Vivite felices, nec vobis aut gravis aestas,
    Aut nocent [sic: read noceat] saevo frigore tristis hiems,
Nec lympham quadrupes, nec silvam dura bipennis,
    Nec violet teneras hic lupus acer oves.2
Flowing fountains, and vale of the fountains,
    And forest girt with pine-bearing peaks,...
Live happily, and may the heavy heat of summer do you
    No harm, nor gloomy winter with its cruel frost,
May the four-footed beast not violate the clear water, nor the hard axe
    The forest, nor the sharp-toothed wolf the tender sheep.

1 Laum., Ed. Crit. VII, 242-4.
2 M.A. Flaminio, Carmina (Florentiae, 1552), p. 267, cited by Laum., Ronsard Poète, pp. 446-7.

Friday, October 10, 2014


The Flood of Barbarianism

André Gide, Journals (September 10, 1939; tr. Justin O'Brien):
One strives and strains one's ingenuity to shelter those treasures from destruction; no shelter is safe. A bomb can do away with a museum. There is no acropolis that the flood of barbarianism cannot reach, no ark that it cannot eventually sink.

On s'efforce et l'on s'ingénie pour mettre à l'abri de la destruction ces reliques; nul abri n'est sûr. Une bombe peut avoir raison d'un musée. Il n'est pas d'acropole que le flot de barbarie ne puisse atteindre, pas d'arche qu'il ne vienne à bout d'engloutir.


Sortes Vergilianae, Sort of

André Gide, Journals (January 1936; tr. Justin O'Brien):
When "it's not going right," I walk up and down in my room, then, somewhat through impatience, I seize almost at random a book from my shelf (not one of those books lying on my table which I am "in the course" of reading, but one of those old constant companions, which are always there, to which everything brings me back) and open it really at random. This "random chance" would make me believe in the devil or in providence, for I fall at once, almost every time, on the page, on the sentence, on the words I just happen to need to start off again.

Quand «ça ne vient pas», je marche de long en large dans la chambre, puis, par impatience un peu, je saisis presque au hasard un livre de ma bibliothèque (non point un de ces livres qui gisent sur ma table et que je suis «en train» de lire, mais un de ces vieux compagnon constants, qui sont toujours là, que je retrouve à travers tout) et je l'ouvre vraiment au hasard. Ce «hasard» me ferait croire au diable ou à la providence, car je tombe à pic, presque à coup sûr, sur la page, sur la phrase, ou les mots, dont j'ai précisément besoin pour rebondir.

Thursday, October 09, 2014


An Old Saying

Euripides, fragment 508 (tr. Christopher Collard and Martin Cropp):
It is an old saying: the young are strong in action, but the old are strong in counsel.

παλαιὸς αἶνος· ἔργα μὲν νεωτέρων,
βουλαὶ δ' ἔχουσι τῶν γεραιτέρων κράτος.
Homer, Iliad 4.318-325 (Nestor speaking; tr. A.T. Murray):
Son of Atreus, verily I myself could wish that I were such a one as on the day when I slew goodly Ereuthalion. But in no wise do the gods grant to men all things at one time. As I was then a youth, so now doth old age attend me. Yet even so will I abide among the charioteers and urge them on by counsel and by words; for that is the office of elders. Spears shall the young men wield who are more youthful than I and have confidence in their strength.

Ἀτρεΐδη, μάλα μέν τοι ἐγὼν ἐθέλοιμι καὶ αὐτὸς
ὣς ἔμεν ὡς ὅτε δῖον Ἐρευθαλίωνα κατέκταν.
ἀλλ᾽ οὔ πως ἅμα πάντα θεοὶ δόσαν ἀνθρώποισιν·
εἰ τότε κοῦρος ἔα νῦν αὖτέ με γῆρας ὀπάζει.
ἀλλὰ καὶ ὣ ἱππεῦσι μετέσσομαι ἠδὲ κελεύσω
βουλῇ καὶ μύθοισι· τὸ γὰρ γέρας ἐστὶ γερόντων.
αἰχμὰς δ᾽ αἰχμάσσουσι νεώτεροι, οἵ περ ἐμεῖο
ὁπλότεροι γεγάασι πεποίθασίν τε βίηφιν.
Euripides, fragment 291 (tr. Christopher Collard and Martin Cropp):
My son, young men's hands are eager for action, true, but the judgement of their elders is better; for time's teaching is the most subtle.

ὦ παῖ, νέων τοι δρᾶν μὲν ἔντονοι χέρες,
γνῶμαι δ' ἀμείνους εἰσὶ τῶν γεραιτέρων·
ὁ γὰρ χρόνος δίδαγμα ποικιλώτατον.
Euripides, fragment 619 (tr. Christopher Collard and Martin Cropp):
Old age, my son, is wiser, and safer, than younger heads, and experience overcomes inexperience.

τὸ γῆρας, ὦ παῖ, τῶν νεωτέρων φρενῶν
σοφώτερον πέφυκε κἀσφαλέστερον,
ἐμπειρία τε τῆς ἀπειρίας κρατεῖ.
Quintus Smyrnaeus 5.152-156 (Nestor speaking; tr. Frederick M. Combellack):
I suggest to you that you listen to me; I'm a great deal older than you, not just a little, and, besides my advanced years, I'm a sensible man. I've been through a lot, good and painful both. In making plans, a well-informed old man is better than a younger one, because of his vast knowledge.

ἀλλ᾽ ἄγ᾽ ἐμοὶ πείθεσθον, ἐπεί ῥα γεραίτερός εἰμι
λίην, οὐκ ὀλίγον περ, ἔχω δ᾽ ἐπὶ γήραϊ πολλῷ
καὶ νόον, οὕνεκεν ἐσθλὰ καὶ ἄλγεα πολλὰ μόγησα·
αἰεὶ δ᾽ ἐν βουλῇσι γέρων πολύϊδρις ἀμείνων
ὁπλοτέρου πέλει ἀνδρός, ἐπεὶ μάλα μυρία οἶδε.
Cf. Renzo Tosi, Dictionnaire des sentences latines et grecques, tr. Rebecca Lenoir (Grenoble: Jérôme Millon, 2010), #1081, pp. 795-796.

For a different point of view see Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), Walden, chapter 1:
Age is no better, hardly so well, qualified for an instructor as youth, for it has not profited so much as it has lost. One may almost doubt if the wisest man has learned anything of absolute value by living. Practically, the old have no very important advice to give the young, their own experience has been so partial, and their lives have been such miserable failures, for private reasons, as they must believe; and it may be that they have some faith left which belies that experience, and they are only less young than they were. I have lived some thirty years on this planet, and I have yet to hear the first syllable of valuable or even earnest advice from my seniors. They have told me nothing, and probably cannot tell me anything, to the purpose.



E.R. Dodds (1893-1979), Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965; rpt. 2000), pp. 120-121:
To any one brought up on classical Greek philosophy, pistis meant the lowest grade of cognition: it was the state of mind of the uneducated, who believe things on hearsay without being able to give reasons for their belief. St Paul, on the other hands, following Jewish tradition, had represented pistis as the very foundation of the Christian life. And what astonished all the early pagan observers, Lucian and Galen, Celsus and Marcus Aurelius, was the Christians' total reliance on unproved assertion—their willingness to die for the indemonstrable.1 For Galen, a relatively sympathetic observer, the Christians possess three of the four cardinal virtues: they exhibit courage, self-control and justice; what they lack is phronesis, intellectual insight, the rational basis of the other three.2 For Celsus they are the enemies of science: they are like quacks who warn people against the doctor, saying that knowledge is bad for the health of the soul.3 Later on Porphyry seems to have repeated the same protest against 'an irrational and unexamined pistis'; and Julian exclaims, 'There is nothing in your philosophy beyond the one word "Believe!"'4

1 Lucian, Peregr., 13, Christian beliefs unsupported by evidence; Galen, De puls. diff., 2.4 (III, 579 Kühn), Jews and Christians obey undemonstrated rules; Celsus apud orig., c. Cels.. 1.9, 6.11, some Christians say, 'Ask no questions; just believe'; M. Ant., 11.3.2. Christians are ready to die, not on any reasoned ground but out of sheer contrariness (κατὰ ψιλὴν παράταξιν). Cf. Walzer's discussion in Galen, pp. 48-56.

2Galen in Walzer, Galen, p. 15 (the passage survives only in Arabic quotations); discussion, ibid., pp. 65-74.

3 C. Cels., 3.75.

4 Porph., Adv. Christ., fr. 1.17 (cf. fr. 73); Julian apud Greg. Naz., Orat., 4.102 (P.G. 35, p. 637).

Wednesday, October 08, 2014


The Truth

Elizabeth David (1913-1992), French Provincial Cooking (1960; rpt. New York: Penguin Books, 1999), p. 228 ("Saucisson chaud à la lyonnaise"):
Francis Amunatégui, a distinguished French gastronome and journalist, writes of the Lyonnais sausage in deeply emotional terms: 'The appearance,' he says, 'of a hot sausage with its salad of potatoes in oil can leave no one indifferent ... it is pure, it precludes all sentimentality, it is the Truth.'


Make War, Not Love

Quintus Smyrnaeus 1.736-740 (tr. Frederick M. Combellack):
There is no other pleasure more ruinous to mortals than sexual desire, which makes even a wise man a fool. Glory is won by work. The fame of victory and the works of war are a soldier's delights. The beds of women are a coward's pleasure.

οὐ γὰρ τερπωλῆς ὀλοώτερον ἄλλο βροτοῖσιν
ἐς λέχος ἱεμένης, ἥ τ᾽ ἄφρονα φῶτα τίθησι
καὶ πινυτόν περ ἐόντα· πόνῳ δ᾽ ἄρα κῦδος ὀπηδεῖ·
ἀνδρὶ γὰρ αἰχμητῇ νίκης κλέος ἔργα τ᾽ Ἄρηος
τερπνά· φυγοπτολέμῳ δὲ γυναικῶν εὔαδεν εὐνή.
Related post: Make Love, Not War.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014


Trivial to the Point of Absurdity?

Martin L. West, Textual Criticism and Editorial Technique (Stuttgart: B.G. Teubner, 1973), p. 8:
When scholars argue about whether Aristophanes wrote δέ or τε in such-and-such a passage, the debate may seem trivial to the point of absurdity, and indeed the sense may not be affected in the least. But by asking the question "which in fact did the poet write?", scholars may be led to inquire into the usage of the particles and the habits of Aristophanes more closely than it would ever have occurred to them to do otherwise. In the same way, by asking such questions all the way through the text, they learn all kinds of things that they did not know and never wondered about, sometimes things that were not known to anybody.
Related post: Minutiae.


Fruits of an Education in Letters

M.L. Clarke, Greek Studies in England, 1700-1830 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1945), p. 51, quoting Jeremiah Markland (1693-1776):
'What profit is it', he asked, 'if an education in letters instead of making us, as it professes to, gentle, upright, simple, frank, modest and kindly towards all men, renders us fierce, virulent, cunning, arrogant, malignant and implacable towards all who presume to differ from us even in trifles?'1

1 Supplices, Dedication.
Here is the passage in which the quotation occurs, from Markland's dedication of his edition of Euripides' Suppliants to Tiberius Hemsterhuis and Peter Wesseling:
Quo enim eruditionis nomen, si barbarorum animos retineamus? Quo simulationem rei optimae, si absit veritas? Quid prodest, si pro mitibus, probis, simplicibus, ingenuis, modestis, benevolis erga omnes homines, quales promittit Literata Institutio; ea nos dimittat feroces, maledicos, versutos, insolentes, malignos, implacabiles omnibus qui a nobis dissentire ausi fuerint, etiam in nugis? Mallem sane literas alphabeti nescire, quam hujusmodi esse literatum, etiam si ista conditio daretur, ut vos rerum cognitione exaequarem. Hanc enim morum pravitatem nulla doctrina pensare potest, non si omnem noverimus scientiam, et linguis Hominum et Angelorum loquamur. Enimvero res absurda est Eruditio sine Bonis Moribus; in quibus, cum primas partes teneant Modestia et Humanitas, si quis homo natus, his neglectis, in ista sibi placet, паe ille, quicunque sit, praepostere et stulte elegit, et τετύφωται, μηδὲν ἐπιστάμενος.
Markland quotes from 1 Corinthians 13:1-2 and 1 Timothy 6:4.

Monday, October 06, 2014


Overbearing, Petty, Easily Offended Gods

Plutarch, On Superstition 12 = Moralia 171 A-B (tr. Frank Cole Babbitt):
The ridiculous actions and emotions of superstition, its words and gestures, [B] magic charms and spells, rushing about and beating of drums, impure purifications and dirty sanctifications, barbarous and outlandish penances and mortifications at the shrines—all these give occasion to some to say that it were better there should be no gods at all than gods who accept with pleasure such forms of worship, and are so overbearing, so petty, and so easily offended.

ἀλλὰ τῆς δεισιδαιμονίας ἔργα καὶ πάθη καταγέλαστα, καὶ ῥήματα καὶ κινήματα [B] καὶ γοητεῖαι καὶ μαγεῖαι καὶ περιδρομαὶ καὶ τυμπανισμοὶ καὶ ἀκάθαρτοι μὲν καθαρμοὶ ῥυπαραὶ δ᾽ ἁγνεῖαι, βάρβαροι δὲ καὶ παράνομοι πρὸς ἱεροῖς κολασμοὶ καὶ προπηλακισμοί, ταῦτα δίδωσιν ἐνίοις λέγειν ὡς μὴ εἶναι θεοὺς ἄμεινον ἢ εἶναι, τοιαῦτα μὲν δεχομένους τοιούτοις δὲ χαίροντας, οὕτω δ᾽ ὑβριστάς, οὕτω δὲ μικρολόγους καὶ μικρολύπους.



Martin P. Nilsson (1874-1967), Greek Piety, tr. Herbert Jennings Rose (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1948; rpt. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1969), p. 61:
Tyche is connected with a verb which signifies 'hit (a mark), happen, reach, get to (something)'; its primary meaning is 'that which happens'. The word is usually rendered 'fortune' or 'luck', but can also mean 'ill luck'. We must remember the purely objective meaning of the word, which may be expressed by the phrase 'the way things go'.
Id., pp. 86-87:
Tyche is the last stage in the secularizing of religion in its conceptions of the powers which govern the universe and the destinies of man. The comedian Philemon puts the thought into most pointed words:
In Tyche we have no deity, no, no! but what happens of itself (to autómaton) to each of us, that we call Tyche.
Tyche can quite simply and objectively signify the course of events, for instance in the great historian Polybios, who made it his aim to show the causal connexion of historical facts, in other words, to explain them and understand them from a rational standpoint. But occasionally even Polybios cannot get clear of the popular conception and uses its expressions. Tyche brings about great changes and plays with men as with little children; she is deceitful and incalculable, she loves to turn human reckonings upside-down. New Comedy has much to say of Tyche; she is blind and unhappy, unjust and senseless, she does three things badly for one well, she changes from day to day, she makes the rich poor, foresight and good council [sic, read counsel] are of no avail against her. The feeling, however, that Tyche was a divine power had not been lost. A fragment of Menander says:
Whether Tyche is a divine afflatus or an intelligence (nous), it is she who guides all things and turns them about and saves them, whereas human foresight is nothingness and idle chatter.
However, men could not get rid of the idea that there are gods who govern their destinies. The forms of religion were so influential that they forced even Tyche into their sphere. Tyche was personified and became a goddess, with the natural result that her bestowal of good luck was emphasized. She received temples and statues, which showed her holding a steering-oar, a cornucopia, and sometimes with a mural crown on her head, for she became the tutelary goddess of cities. She was given an altar in domestic worship, but in New Comedy she does not appear as a goddess with a cult.
Philemon, fragment 137 Kock:
οὐκ ἔστιν ἡμῖν οὐδεμία τύχη θεός,
οὐκ ἔστιν, ἀλλὰ ταὐτόματον, ὃ γίνεται
ὡς ἔτυχ´ ἑκάστῳ, προσαγορεύεται τύχη.
Menander, fragments 482-483 Kock (tr. Francis G. Allinson):
Have done with talking of intellect; for the human intellect amounts to nothing, while Fortune's—whether we call it divine spirit or intellect—this is what steers all and veers and saves, whereas mortal forethought is smoke and nonsense. Take my advice and you'll not blame me: everything that we think or say or do is Fortune, and we are but countersigners ... Fortune ever holds the tiller. This goddess alone we ought to speak of as both intellect and forethought unless we perversely take pleasure in empty names.

παύσασθε νοῦν λέγοντες· οὐδὲν γὰρ πλέον
ἁνθρώπινος νοῦς ἐστιν, ἀλλ' ὁ τῆς τύχης
(εἴτ' ἐστὶ τοῦτο πνεῦμα θεῖον εἴτε νοῦς)
τοῦτ' ἔστι τὸ κυβερνῶν ἅπαντα καὶ στρέφον
καὶ σῷζον, ἡ πρόνοια δ' ἡ θνητὴ καπνὸς        5
καὶ φλήναφος. πείσθητε κοὐ μέμψεσθέ με·
πάνθ' ὅσα νοοῦμεν ἢ λέγομεν ἢ πράττομεν
τύχη 'στίν, ἡμεῖς δ' ἐσμὲν ἐπιγεγραμμένοι.
τύχη κυβερνᾷ πάντα· ταύτην καὶ φρένας
δεῖ καὶ πρόνοιαν τὴν θεὸν καλεῖν μόνην,        10
εἰ μή τις ἄλλως ὀνόμασιν χαίρει κενοῖς.
See also Jon D. Mikalson, Religion in Hellenistic Athens (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), pp. 62-63.

Related post: Blind Fortune.

Joel Eidsath writes:
A fragment of Menander that W.H.D. Rouse would have his students memorize was:

τυφλόν τε καὶ δύστηνόν ἐστιν ἡ τύχη.

I imagine that this is what Nilsson is referring to with "New Comedy has much to say of Tyche; she is blind and unhappy..."

Another, perhaps related to "she changes from day to day" was:

τὸ τῆς τύχης τοι μεταβολὰς πολλὰς ἔχει.

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