Thursday, April 30, 2015
Some Lines on Tree-Cutting from a Latin Poem by Walter Savage Landor
Te nec vetustas arbores securibus"Jamesus" was one of Landor's Rugby School masters, Dr. James (d. 1804). A slightly different version of these lines occurs in a letter (postmarked November 1805) from Landor to Walter Birch. For the text of the letter see A. LaVonne Ruoff, ed., "Landor's Letters to the Reverend Walter Birch," and Edwin Burton Levine, tr., "Landor's Latin Poetry," Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 51 (1969) 200-261 (at 212-217; the lines, differently numbered, are on p. 213, reproduced here with the editor's notes):
Ferire turpis ardor impulit lucri,
Ut triobolarium istum .. at aufer in crucem. 20
Ulmos amatas video quarum murmure
Obrepsit olim dulcis ignavo sopor,
Video revulsa brachia, nudum verticem:
Nec novit aut curavit iste furcifer
Sub iisdem ut olim jacuit (heu flendum diu 25
Utcunque vinctum palmâ) Abercrombî caput.
Te nec vetustas arbores securibusThese lines are translated (op. cit., p. 214) as follows:
Ferire turpis ardor impulit lucri,
Ut triobolarium istum1—at aufer in crucem—
Ulmos amatas video, quarum murmure 20
Obrepsit olim dulcis ignavo quies;
Video revulsa brachia, nudum verticem!
Nec novit aut curavit iste furcifer
Sub iisdem ut olim jacuit, heu flendum diu
Palmâque vinciendum! Abercrombis caput.2 25
1 Mr. N. C. Kittermaster, Librarian of Rugby School, suggests that the trees to which Landor alludes may have been cut down to make room for four new classrooms for the School House. Neither he nor I can identify the "good-for-nothing" who cut them down.
2 Sir Ralph Abercrombie or Abercromby (1738-1801) entered Rugby in 1748 (Rugby School Register, i. 56). He was noted for his heroism and for his work in restoring discipline and integrity in the British army. Commander of the force sent to drive the French out of Egypt, he died from a wound received in the Battle of Alexandria.
Not you the ugly greed for gain did drive.Hat tip: Eric Thomson.
To strike the ancient trees with axe,
Like that good-for-nothing—but may the devil take him!
I see the elms I loved, at whose murmur
Sweet sleep once overcame the idler;
I see the branches torn away, the treetop stripped!
That hangdog neither knew nor cared,
When long ago he lay beneath them, for Abercrombie's head,
Long, alas! to be mourned and wreathed with the palm.
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
The True Religion
Was there ever a religion in the world that was not the true religion?
An even more elaborate fake came in 1975, when the New Columbia Encyclopedia included a long entry on the distinguished American fountain designer Lillian Virginia Mountweazel, who had achieved some fame with Flags Up!, a collection of photographs of rural American mailboxes. Ms. Mountweazel, alas, met a premature end, dying in an explosion while she was researching an article for Combustibles magazine. Although Mountweazel was nothing more than an inside joke among the encyclopedia's authors, she is said to have appeared in other encyclopedias and biographical dictionaries—proof that other editors have just pilfered from the New Columbia. The term mountweazel is sometimes used to refer to these mischievous entries inserted in reference books.
The Desire to Know the Future
Whence first for hapless mortals grew worldwide this sick craving for what is to come? Shall we call it a gift of the gods or do we ourselves, a greedy race never content to rest with what we have, dig out which day is the first37 and where life ends, what that kindly begetter of the gods and what iron Clotho have in view? Hence entrails and the talk of birds in the clouds and the comings and goings of the stars and the counted path of the moon and the abomination of Thessaly. But that earlier golden race of our ancestors and the peoples born of rocks and timber38 used not these skills.39 Their one desire was to tame forest and earth with their hands; what the morrow's years might bring 'twas sin for man to know. We, a perverted and pathetic multitude, peer deep into the High Ones; hence pallor and anger, hence crime and treachery and prayer beyond all moderation.The Latin (with Shackleton Bailey's apparatus):
37 Using a horoscope. But the date of birth would normally be known. Perhaps this is a loose way of saying 'an entire life.' Or it could relate to a child conceived but not yet born (SB2).
38 As the Arcadians were supposed to have been.
39 See SB2.
Unde iste per orbemSB2 is D.R. Shackleton Bailey, "On Statius' Thebaid," Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 100 (2000) 463-476 (this passage discussed on p. 465):
primus venturi miseris animantibus aeger
crevit amor? divumne feras hoc munus, an ipsi,
gens avida et parto non umquam stare quieti,
eruimus quae prima dies, ubi terminus aevi, 555
quid bonus ille deum genitor, quid ferrea Clotho
cogitet? hinc fibrae et volucrum per nubila sermo
astrorumque vices numerataque semita lunae
Thessalicumque nefas. at non prior aureus ille
sanguis avum scopulisque satae vel robore gentes 560
artibus his usae; silvas amor unus humumque
edomuisse manu; quid crastina volveret aetas
scire nefas homini. nos, pravum et flebile vulgus,
scrutati penitus superos: hinc pallor et irae,
hinc scelus insidiaeque et nulla modestia voti. 565
561 mentibus (SB2)
564 scrutati ω: -ari P
In revision of an earlier note (MH 40  53) I would now suggest that Statius may have had in mind an astrologer casting the horoscope of an unborn child. 355 amounts to "we dig out lives from birth to death."On the idea that it's better not to know the future see e.g.
mentibus, referring to the methods of divination (entrails etc.) mentioned in the preceding sentence, is simply a wrong word. The right word is artibus.
- Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 248-251 (Prometheus and the chorus):
PR. I stopped mortals from foreseeing their fate.
CH. Finding what sort of medicine for this disease?
PR. I caused blind hopes to dwell in them.
CH. That was a great benefit you gave as a gift to mortals.
ΠΡ. θνητούς γ᾿ ἔπαυσα μὴ προδέρκεσθαι μόρον.
ΧΟ. τὸ ποῖον εὑρὼν τῆσδε φάρμακον νόσου;
ΠΡ. τυφλὰς ἐν αὐτοῖς ἐλπίδας κατῴκισα.
ΧΟ. μέγ᾿ ὠφέλημα τοῦτ᾿ ἐδωρήσω βροτοῖς.
- Cicero, On Divination 2.9.22-23, too long to quote in its entirety, but concluding thus: "Surely, therefore, ignorance of future events is more advantageous than knowledge of them" (certe igitur ignoratio futurorum utilior est quam scientia).
- Cicero, On Divination 2.51.105: "Dicaearchus wrote a long book [arguing that it is] better not to know than to know these things" (magnus Dicaearchi liber est nescire ea melius quam scire).
- Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods 3.6.14: "Moreover, often it's not even advantageous to know what's going to happen; for it's wretched for a man to be tortured [by foreknowledge] when he's powerless to do anything about it, and to lack even the last consolation of hope, which is available to all" (saepe autem ne utile quidem est scire quid futurum sit; miserum est enim nihil proficientem angi nec habere ne spei quidem extremum et tamen commune solacium).
- Horace, Odes 3.29.29-32: "God, foreseeing the future, conceals what is to come in darkest night, and he laughs if mortal man frets more than he should" (prudens futuri temporis exitum / caliginosa nocte premit deus, / ridetque si mortalis ultra / fas trepidat).
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
The duty of a collator is indeed dull, yet, like other tedious tasks, is very necessary; but an emendatory critick would ill discharge his duty, without qualities very different from dulness. In perusing a corrupted piece, he must have before him all possibilities of meaning, with all possibilities of expression. Such must be his comprehension of thought, and such his copiousness of language. Out of many readings possible, he must be able to select that which best suits with the state, opinions, and modes of language prevailing in every age, and with his author's particular cast of thought, and turn of expression. Such must be his knowledge, and such his taste. Conjectural criticism demands more than humanity possesses, and he that exercises it with most praise, has very frequent need of indulgence.
A Monument of Probity
As for his obscenities, I have already ventured to suggest that by and large and relatively they are as devoid of moral obliquity and harm as a manure-heap swept by breezes on a farm. Compared with sly immoralists like Sterne and Anatole France or a corrupter of youth like André Gide, Dr. Rabelais is a monument of probity. Like some of his medieval predecessors, and with a medical training to boot, he sees the comic side of the bodily functions, and no doubt tends to labour the joke overmuch in some aspects; but of itself it has no corruptive influence. Modern delicacy, and the priggish humbug thereto attached, carries a Manichee stink which is far more obnoxious.
Thanks to Logan, who writes:
Your excerpt of D. B. Wyndham Lewis put me in mind of Orwell's contrary opinion, stated in a book review — the reviewed book happens to be "Nailcruncher by Albert Cohen, translated from the French by Vyvyan Holland" — where he, Orwell, writes
What is chiefly remarkable in it is the length and disgustingness of its scatological passages. As soon as I came on the first of these I turned back to the blurb on the dust-jacket, well knowing what adjective I should find, and, sure enough, there it was— "Rabelaisian". It is curious that this word is invariably used as a term of praise. We are forever being told that whereas pornography is reprehensible, "hearty Rabelaisian humour" (meaning a preoccupation with the WC) is perfectly all right. This is partly, perhaps, because Rabelais is nowadays seldom read. So far from being "healthy" as is always alleged, he is an exceptionally perverse, morbid writer, a case for psycho-analysis. But people who lead strict lives have dirty minds, and Rabelais had a considerable underground reputation in Victorian times. Archdeacon Grantly read him on the sly, it will be remembered, and the bachelor in Browning's poem possessed "a little edition of Rabelais". Perhaps the only way of making him respectable was to maintain that there is something "normal" and "hearty" in coprophilia, and the legend has survived into an age when few people have glanced at his dirtier passages.The review is reprinted in The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, vol. 2 (New York: Harcourt, 1968), pp. 44-46; according to which the original appeared in New Statesman and Nation, 7 December 1940.
There is a slight second connection here, for in two 1932 letters (vol. 1, pp. 82, 101) Orwell refers to D. B. W. Lewis in passing as "the professional RC" and "a stinking RC".
Monday, April 27, 2015
What Are They to Us?
When the sun comes up we work,
when the sun goes down we rest.
We dig a well to drink,
plow the fields to eat —
the Emperor and his might — what are they to us!
Praise of a Garden
Be present, Muses, offspring of greatest Jupiter. Let us sing the praises of a fertile little garden. A garden furnishes healthful food for the body and often brings varied tillings to the tiller. It offers pleasant vegetables, many kinds of herbs, shining grapes, and the fruit of trees. Gardens afford greatest pleasure and delight mixed with many rewards. The clear liquid of murmuring water washes them, and a brook led by furrows waters the sown fields. Flowers gleam with the varicolored buds and paint the lands with the sparkling beauty of gems. Grateful bees hum with their light buzzing when they taste the tops of flowers or young roses. The fertile vines weigh down the elms to which they have been wedded or cover the reeds interwoven with their tendrils. Trees offer shaded bowers and ward off the burning sun with their thick foliage. The twittering birds pour forth melodious sounds and always caress the breezes with their songs. A garden delights, calls, nourishes, possesses, and banishes heavy cares from a sad heart. It restores vigor to one's limbs and is a joy to behold; it repays toil with abundant rewards and imparts manifold joy to the tiller.The Latin:
Adeste Musae, maximi proles Iovis,Related post: The Garden, Full of Great Delight.
Laudes feracis praedicemus hortuli.
Hortus salubres corpori praebet cibos
Variosque fructus saepe culto ri refert:
Holus suave, multiplex herbae genus,
Uvas nitentes atque fetus arborum.
Non defit hortis et voluptas maxima
Multisque mixta commodis iocunditas.
Aquae strepentis vitreus lambit liquor
Sulcoque ductus irrigat rivus sata.
Flores nitescunt discolore germine
Pinguntque terram gemmeis honoribus.
Apes susurro murmurant gratae levi,
Cum summa florum vel novos rores legunt.
Fecunda vitis coniuges ulmos gravat
Textasve inumbrat pampinis harundines.
Opaca praebent arbores umbracula
Prohibentque densis fervidum solem comis.
Aves canorae garrulos fundunt sonos
Et semper aures cantibus mulcent suis.
Oblectat hortus, avocat pascit tenet
Animoque maesto demit angores graves.
Membris vigorem reddit et visus capit.
Refert labori pleniorem gratiam,
Tribuit colenti multiforme gaudium.
There is a vast number of things that have no name, and the terms by which we designate them, instead of being their own, belong to other things from which they are borrowed. We say that we ourselves, a couch, a sail, and a poem, have a "foot," and we apply the word "dog" to a hound, to a creature of the sea, and to a constellation; since there are not enough words to make it possible for us to assign a separate one to each separate thing, we borrow whenever it becomes necessary.
ingens copia est rerum sine nomine, quas non propriis appellationibus notamus, sed alienis commodatisque. pedem et nostrum dicimus et lecti et veli et carminis, canem et venaticum et marinum et sidus; quia non sufficimus, ut singulis singula adsignemus, quotiens opus est, mutuamur.
Sunday, April 26, 2015
On the contrary, the less the control from without, the stronger has always been the impulse from within, (a) never to speak until I had examined all that had been already said on the subject, nor even then unless I had, or thought I had, something new to say; (b) never to leave my meaning liable to be misunderstood so long as I saw a possibility of making it clear by further explanation, but always to prefer laborious, old-fashioned, and even, as I fear it may sometimes be found, tedious prolixity, to the safe and easy brevity of the modern professorial cortina; (c) never either to take or quote my authorities at second hand, but always directly ex ipso fonte, always from the best editions available to me, always at full, and never putting-off the reader or student hungry for the living bread of the author's own words, with the indigestible stone of signs and ciphers sometimes wholly unintelligible except to the party employing them, sometimes rewarding the pains of the decipherer with cold and dry, too often careless and incorrect, references to works, or editions of works, which, in order to be consulted, must either be brought from distant countries at a great expense of time, trouble, and money, or visited in those countries at a still greater.
The Best Religion
It appears to me, O Xenophon, who indeed have thought but little and incuriously about the varieties of religion, that whichever is the least intrusive and dogmatical is the best.
The complaint our ancestors made, the complaint we make, the complaint our posterity will make, is that morality is overturned, that wickedness holds sway, and that human affairs and every sin are tending toward the worse.
hoc maiores nostri questi sunt, hoc nos querimur, hoc posteri nostri querentur, eversos mores, regnare nequitiam, in deterius res humanas et omne nefas labi.
Saturday, April 25, 2015
The Sick in Soul
The sick in soul insist that it is humanity that is sick, and they are the surgeons to operate on it. They want to turn the world into a sickroom. And once they get humanity strapped to the operating table, they operate on it with an ax.
Ternissa. Oh, what a thing is age!
Leontion. Death without death's quiet.
A Drearily Bewildering Book
Of course there is an initial difficulty in the case of the classics, that there is very little in either Greek or Latin which really appeals to an immature taste at all; and such books as might appeal to inquisitive and inexperienced minds, such as Homer or the Anabasis of Xenophon, are made unattractive by the method of giving such short snippets, and insisting on what used to be called thorough parsing. Even Alice in Wonderland, let me say, could only prove a drearily bewildering book, if read at the rate of twenty lines a lesson, and if the principal tenses of all the verbs had to be repeated correctly.
In an email (with the subject line "No Parsing Fad") a friend writes:
The world would be a considerably better place with thorough parsing. In fact we're all going to hell in a handcart for the want of it. I remember waggishly asking my Latin teacher to parse 'farcio' when we came across it in a text and how I relished his blushes. The 70s could still be a buttoned-up time, for Latin teachers at any rate.The blushes of the Latin teacher can be explained by a look at the principal parts of farcio.
Friday, April 24, 2015
Homo est omnis divisus in partes tres
Built in three parts, Angelo began repairing the first part of the home while his family remained in the old house.
If we are to give pain to anyone because he thinks differently from us, we ought to begin by inflicting a few smart stripes on ourselves; for both upon light and upon grave occasions, if we have thought much and often, our opinions must have varied.
Gilbert Highet's Homage to Ezra Pound
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Fit to Beg in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin
In a melancholly studdyThis reminds me of the old joke:
None but my selfe,
Me thought my muse grew muddy,
After seaven yeares reading
And costly breeding,
I felt, but could finde no pelfe:
Into learned raggs
I've rent my Plush and Sattin,
And now am fit to begg
in Hebrew, Greeke and Lattin,
Instead of Aristotle,
would I had got a Patten:
Alasse poore Scholler whither wilt thou go?
Q. What did the liberal arts graduate say to the engineering graduate?
A. Would you like some fries with that?
A Glorious Court
Give me leave
T'injoy myself; that place that does containe
My Bookes (the best Companions) is to me
A glorious Court, where hourely I converse
With the old Sages and Philosophers,
And sometimes for variety, I conferre
With Kings and Emperours, and weigh their Counsels,
Calling their Victories (if unjustly got)
Unto a strict accompt, and in my phancy,
Deface their ill-plac'd Statues; Can I then
Part with such constant pleasures, to embrace
Uncertaine vanities? No, be it your care
T'augment your heap of wealth; It shall be mine
T'encrease in knowledg—Lights there for my study.
Sometimes the happiest of us feel that life is of little value in this workaday world. The sun shines, and we go on working; winds shout, birds sing; memories of coloured cities in brighter climates invite us, and the rolling, bare-backed downs beckon—but all for nothing; we go on working. We go on working, most of us, merely for daily bread, and the remainder from habit, from ineptitude, or—to encourage the others. But we have to nudge each other to remind ourselves that we like it, for all that; and when the springfret comes we know we don't!Id. (at 131-132):
It is the invitation of the sun, it is the whisper of the wild, bidding you lay down your tools and your nets and follow, follow, you know not whither, for man knows not what is good or bad for him. You only know that when the white door becomes opalescent, and the hawthorn buds green fire, you suffer a kind of nausea in the face of all humdrum things and long to have done with them, to break free, to run wild for a time. And why should you not? For you do not; you simply fight it down, like the good sensible fellow you are. You fight it down and plunge into the brown air of commerce again, until next year. It is always next year, "always jam to-morrow," as Alice said, "but never jam to-day," and when the same old spur to rebellion comes at you again—once more you force it from you, for next year, like to-morrow, never comes. But the day will come when the light will shine full on common things, giving them distinction, and you will see it not. In that hour the springfret will pass you by. "The grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail..." You may look through your office window at the blue sky interlaced with telephone cables, and yearn for Saskatchewan, or shake your fist at the engine on Ludgate Bridge, protesting your determination to fly to the South Seas. You will be too old.
That is life's tragedy—to find suddenly that you are too old; to find that you no longer desire to play truant, that you are become a mere Mantalini doomed to know only that "life is nothing but one demnition grind," even when the spring comes in, and the sun wakes up, and the Strand and Cheapside become temples of light; to find that you are good for nothing but to stay at home and be good.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
The Killing of a Tree
This time he was not there –Hat tip: Eric Thomson.
the old tree that always stood to attention,
like a guard at the door to my house.
His worn leathery trunk
wrinkled rough upright shabby,
branch like a rifle,
hat of leafy flowers,
rugged boots on feet,
creaking coarse courage
In sun in rain
in rain in cold
in khaki fatigues
He'd accost from afar, "Who goes there?"
"A friend," I'd answer
and sit down for a moment
under his benign shade.
In fact, there always lurked in our ways
the mortal fear of some common foe –
the house had to be saved from thieves
the city from plunderers
the nation from its enemies
had to be saved –
river from becoming drain
air from becoming smoke
food from becoming poison
jungles from becoming deserts
humans from becoming jungles.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Laziness as a Good Quality
If I were to sum up in a phrase the main difference between Chinese and ourselves, I should say that they, in the main, aim at enjoyment, while we, in the main, aim at power. We like power over our fellow-men, and we like power over Nature. For the sake of the former, we have built up strong states, and for the sake of the latter we have built up Science. The Chinese are too lazy and too good-natured for such pursuits. To say that they are lazy is, however, only true in certain sense. They are not lazy in the way that Russians are, that is to say, they will work hard for their living. Employers of labour find them extraordinarily industrious. But they will not work, as Americans and Western Europeans do, simply because they would be bored if they did not work, nor do they love hustle for its own sake. When they have enough to live on, they live on it, instead of trying to augment it by hard work. They have an infinite capacity for leisurely amusements—going to theatre, talking while they drink tea, admiring the Chinese art of earlier times, or walking in beautiful scenery. To our way of thinking, there is something unduly mild about such a way of spending one's life; we respect more a man who goes to his office very day, even if all that he does in his office is harmful.Related posts:
Living in the East has, perhaps, a corrupting influence upon a white man, but I must confess that, since I came to know China, I have regarded laziness as one of the best qualities of which men in the mass are capable. We achieve certain things by being energetic, but it may be questioned whether, on the balance, the things that we achieve are of any value.
- On Laziness
- To Loaf
- Planet of the Apes
- Ode to Indolence
- The More Idle, the More Deserving
- Work and Leisure
- Praise of Laziness
- Lazy Man's Song
- Exquisite Pregnant Idleness
- How Can I Work?
- Dolce Far Niente
- Weekdays of Unfreedom
- The Dreary Vacuum of Idleness
- Idleness and Business
- Archilochus on the Idle Life
- Futile Work
- Otium Cum Dignitate
Let Them Laugh
Just let me be warm and easy,In Spanish:
and let them laugh, if they will.
Let others of the governance
of the world speak and its kingdoms,
I'd rather my days were ruled
by fresh rolls and butter;
and if in winter I've my fill
of orange conserve and brandy,
let them laugh, if they will.
Let princes eat from golden plates
a thousand tribulations,
gilded like a pill;
I at my simple cottage board
prefer a nice black pudding,
spitting and hissing on the grill.
Let them laugh, if they will.
When the mountaintops are covered
in January's white snows,
I'm happy seeing my brazier full
of acorns and sweet chestnuts,
with one beside me who can tell
tales of the mad king's exploits.
Let them laugh, if they will.
The merchant can go, and welcome,
to seek his new horizons;
while I stay here and search the sands
for any pretty seashell,
and listen to the nightingale
in the poplar beside the well
and let them laugh, if they will.
Let Leander burning
with desire for his lady love
struggle to pass the midnight sea,
but as for me, I'd rather swim
in floods that from my winepress spill
their red and white sparkling tides.
Let them laugh, if they will.
While Love so cruelly lets a sword
make the marriage bed
where Pyramus and his love
are to be joined forever,
let a pastry be my Thisbe,
my teeth the murdering steel,
and let them laugh, if they will.
Ándame yo caliente
y ríase la gente.
Traten otros del gobierno
del mundo y sus monarquías,
mientras gobiernan mis días
mantequillas y pan tierno,
y las mañanas de invierno
naranjada y aguardiente,
y ríase la gente.
Coma en dorada vajilla
el príncipe mil cuidados,
como píldoras dorados;
que yo en mi pobre mesilla
quiero más una morcilla
que en el asador reviente,
y ríase la gente.
Cuando cubra las montañas
de blanca nieve el enero,
tenga yo lleno el brasero
de bellotas y castañas,
y quien las dulces patrañas
del Rey que rabió me cuente,
y ríase la gente.
Busque muy en buena hora
el mercader nuevos soles;
yo conchas y caracoles
entre la menuda arena,
escuchando a Filomena
sobre el chopo de la fuente,
y ríase la gente.
Pase a medianoche el mar,
y arda en amorosa llama
Leandro por ver su Dama;
que yo más quiero pasar
del golfo de mi lagar
la blanca o roja corriente,
y ríase la gente.
Pues Amor es tan crüel,
que de Píramo y su amada
hace tálamo una espada,
do se juntan ella y él,
sea mi Tisbe un pastel,
y la espada sea mi diente,
y ríase la gente.
Monday, April 20, 2015
Why Should We Lament These Things?
No mortal was ever born who does not suffer;Cicero translated these lines in Tusculan Disputations 3.25.59 (tr. J.E. King):
he buries children and gets other new ones,
and dies himself, and mortals grieve at these things,
bringing earth to earth. But it is our inevitable lot
to harvest life like a fruitful crop,
for one of us to live, one not: why should we
lament these things, which by our very nature we must endure?
ἔφυ μὲν οὐδεὶς ὅ[στις οὐ πονεῖ βροτῶν·
θάπτει τε τέκ[να χἄτερα κτᾶται νέα,
αὐτός τε θνῄσκε[ι· καὶ τάδ᾿ ἄχθονται βροτοὶ
εἰς γῆν φέροντες [γῆν. ἀναγκαίως δ᾿ ἔχει
βίον θερίζειν ὥ[στε κάρπιμον στάχυν,
καὶ τὸν μὲν εἶ[ναι, τὸν δὲ μή· τί ταῦτα δεῖ
στένειν ἅπε[ρ δεῖ κατὰ φύσιν διεκπερᾶν;
No mortal is there but pain finds him out
And sickness; many must their children bury,
And sow fresh issue; death is end for all;
In vain do these things vex the race of men,
Earth must go back to earth: then life by all
Like crops is reaped. So bids Necessity.
mortalis nemo est quem non attingit dolor
morbusque; multis sunt humandi liberi,
rursum creandi, morsque est finita omnibus,
quae generi humano angorem nequicquam adferunt.
reddenda terrae est terra, tum vita omnibus
metenda, ut fruges. sic iubet necessitas.
Keep in Touch
I hope you will write to me often. If you lack a topic, just put down whatever comes into your head.
tu velim saepe ad nos scribas. si rem nullam habebis, quod in buccam venerit scribito.
Like Fallen Leaves
How deep his roots were even Milton did not always know. Describing the number of the fallen angels, he says that they lie
Thick as Autumnal Leaves that strow the BrooksThe comparison of spirits in the underworld to fallen leaves is of great antiquity. It may first have appeared in some lost Orphic poem about a descent into Hades. From this Bacchylides, in the fifth century B.C., probably took it when he told how Heracles visited Hades:
In Vallombrosa, where th' Etrurian shades
High overarch't imbowr. (I, 302-4)
ἔνθα δυστάνων βροτῶνVirgil took up the idea for the ghosts of the unburied dead:
ψυχὰς ἐδάη παρὰ Κωκυτοῦ ῥεέθροις,
οἷά τε φύλλ᾽ ἄνεμος
Ἴδας ἀνὰ μηλοβότους
πρῶνας ἀργηστὰς δονεῖ.1
quam multa in silvis autumni frigore primoand after him Dante told of the ghosts pressing to cross Acheron:
lapsa cadunt folia,2 (VI, 309-10)
1 There he saw the ghosts
Of unlucky men by Cocytus' streams,
Like leaves that the wind flutters
On Ida's glittering headlands
Where the flocks graze.
2 Thick as in forests at first autumn frost
Leaves drift and fall.
Come d' autunno si levan le foglieTasso gave a new turn to the comparison when he made the routed devils go back to Hell:
L'una appresso dell'altra, fin che 'l ramo
Vede alia terra tutte le sue spoglie.1
(Inf. III, 112-14)
Nè tante vede mai l' autunno al suoloMarlowe picked it up to describes a vast army in Tamerlane:
Cader co' primi freddi aride foglie.2
(IX, 66, 5-6)
In number more than are the quivering leavesAt the end of the succession comes Milton who knew Virgil, Dante, Tasso and Marlowe but not Bacchylides or his unknown predecessor. He picks up the old simile and uses it of the hosts of fallen angels, thus showing some indebtedness to Tasso, who used it of devils, to Marlowe, who used it of an army, and to Virgil and Dante, who used it of spirits in the underworld. Moreover his instinctive genius shows his affinity to classical art when he gives a real place to the fallen leaves. His Vallombrosa is as exact as Bacchylides' Ida and has the immediacy of Greek poetry.
Of Ida's forest.
1 And as the late leaves of November fall
One after one till on the earthen floor
The ruined bough looks on their funeral.
2 Nor leaves in so great numbers fall away
When winter nips them with his new-come frosts,
Sunday, April 19, 2015
Mrs. Todger's Eyes
And of course the eyes that are cast upon them are simultaneously adulatory and sadistic. Those eyes remind me rather of Mrs Todgers in Martin Chuzzlewit, who had affection beaming in one eye and affection out of the other.Read "calculation out of the other." A minor blemish in an excellent essay.
Labels: typographical and other errors
But they say that it is the best and wisest men who are most willing to change their minds.
φασὶ δὲ καὶ τοὺς ἀρίστους καὶ σοφωτάτους μάλιστα ἐθέλειν μεταγιγνώσκειν.
And what about καίτοι? It is a particle of which the semantics are, as we would expect, discussed by Denniston; but the step in reasoning, valid or invalid, which is taken by καίτοι, the charge of indignation or scorn which it carries, its manipulation of the juryman's mind, all belong, as clearly as anything can, within the sphere of forensic technique. I would have little regard for the conclusions of a dissertation on the relation between oratory and the law unless I had reason to think that the writer had checked and pondered on every instance of the word καί in the orators.If I were a betting man, I'd bet that Dover really wrote, or meant to write, "every instance of the word καίτοι in the orators."
For more on καίτοι see J.D. Denniston, The Greek Particles, 2nd ed. rev. K.J. Dover (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954), pp. 555-564.
Labels: typographical and other errors
Saturday, April 18, 2015
Funeral Wishes of Philip Whalen
Poet-editor Gary Gach said Whalen maintained his wit and self-deprecating style even when he knew death was imminent. When a friend asked him whether he wanted a milkshake, he replied, "No, I'd like what they gave Socrates."Related posts:
And when friends grew morose at the thought of his passing, he joked about his funeral: "I'd like to be laid on a bed of frozen raspberries."
- Favorite Books
- Burial Wishes of Robinson Jeffers
- Burial Wishes of Cyril Connolly
- Burial Wishes of Samuel Butler
- Burial Wishes of Richard Burton
- Burial Wishes of James Howell
- Disregard of Funeral Instructions
- My Bed of Death
- Funeral of a Lover of Horace
- Cactus Ed's Funeral Instructions
- Kierkegaard's Tomb
My Failure to Answer Emails
For my part, I know no greater delight than to receive letters; but the replying to them is a grievous tax upon my negligent nature. I sometimes think one of the greatest blessings we shall enjoy in heaven, will be to receive letters by every post and never be obliged to reply to them.This (in abbreviated form) is no. 138 in Ian Jackson's anthology The Imperfect Correspondent in Historical Perspective, Vol. II (Berkeley, 2006).
Asyndetic, Privative Adjectives in Phrynichus
Phrynichus, fragment 19, preserved by Photius (b, z) α 375 (Storey pp. 58-59):
My name is “Hermit,” and I am living a life of Timon, without a wife, without a slave (?), sharp-tempered, don’t come near me, I don’t laugh, I don’t talk, I know my own mind.There is a discussion of the text by Kostas Apostolakis, "A crux in Phrynichus Com. fr. 19 K-A," Mnemosyne 67 (2014) 994-998, of which I've seen only the first page (the publisher Brill charges $30 plus tax for online access to all five pages, an outrageous price which I am unwilling to pay). A somewhat more literal translation might be the following (with equivalents of asyndetic, privative adjectives underlined; all of the adjectives modify the noun "life"):
ὄνομα δέ μοὔστι Μονότροπος
ζῶ δὲ Τίμωνος βίον,
ἄγαμον, †ἄζυγον†, ὀξύθυμον, ἀπρόσοδον,
ἀγέλαστον, ἀδιάλεκτον, ἰδιογνώμονα.
3 ἄζυγον codd., ἄδουλον Hermann.
My name is “Hermit,” and I am living Timon's life, without a wife, without a slave, sharp-tempered, unapproachable, not laughing, not talking, holding my own opinion.Phrynichus, fragment 20, preserved by Pollux 3.48 (Storey pp. 58-59):
An old man of my generation, childless, wifeless.Phrynichus, fragment 57, preserved by Photius (b, z) α 1609 (Storey, pp. 72-73):
Without food, without drink, with hands unwashed.
ἄσιτος, ἄποτος, ἀναπόνιπτος
Thanks to the kindness of a reader, I have now read the article by Kostas Apostolakis, who conjectures ἄμεικτον (unsociable, savage) for ἄζυγον in Phrynichus, fragment 19, line 3.
Labels: asyndetic privative adjectives
Too Much Light
Here where the elm trees wereMaybe Dutch Elm Disease was to blame, but I'll still file this under arboricide.
is only empty air.
Where once they stood
how blunt the buildings are!
Where the trees were
sky itself has fled
We have lost the leafy shield
between us and that space,
that lonely tract, revealed,
the light too straitly shed —
and lost as well the lace,
the filigree that gave
the works of men a grace
not theirs by right.
The world is smaller and larger
with the tall trees gone.
Through sunlight yellow as pollen
We walk where the elms have fallen.
We walk in too much light.
Hat tip: Karl Maurer.
Friday, April 17, 2015
Possessions possess.— It is only up to a certain point that possessions make men more independent and free; one step further—and the possessions become master, the possessor becomes a slave: as which he must sacrifice to them his time and his thoughts and henceforth feel himself obligated to a society, nailed to a place and incorporated into a state, none of which perhaps meets his inner and essential needs.
Der Besitz besitzt.— Nur bis zu einem gewissen Grade macht der Besitz den Menschen unabhängig, freier; eine Stufe weiter—und der Besitz wird zum Herrn, der Besitzer zum Sklaven: als welcher ihm seine Zeit, sein Nachdenken zum Opfer bringen muss und sich fürderhin zu einem Verkehr verpflichtet, an einen Ort angenagelt, einem Staate einverleibt fühlt—alles vielleicht wider sein innerlichstes und wesentlichstes Bedürfnis.
A Reverence for Green Growing Things
After two centuries of colonization, the air struggle on Mars was still so critical that the V-L Law, the Vegetative-Lynch Law, was still in effect. It was a killing offence to endanger or destroy any plant vital to the transformation of Mars' carbon dioxide atmosphere into an oxygen atmosphere. Even blades of grass were sacred. There was no need to erect KEEP OFF THE GRASS warnings. The man who wandered off a path on to a lawn would be instantly shot. The woman who picked a flower would be killed without mercy. Two centuries of sudden death had inspired a reverence for green growing things that almost amounted to a religion.Hat tip: John Bergmayer.
Thursday, April 16, 2015
Culture and Education
Today anybody with a diploma from any institution calling itself educational is counted among the educated, while the disparate doings of our elementary and high schools are also called education. The difference between instruction and education has been forgotten, and it is usual, commonplace, to hear people say that in this or that school or college, students are given an education....Culture and education are qualities found in persons who have first been taught to read and write and then have managed, against heavy odds, to cultivate their minds, to educate themselves.Hat tip: My old and dear friend Tim N.
Don't forget that to read is a sedative and like all such drugs dangerous. The more you read, the more you have to write! and see to it that you keep agile and fit. Nietzsche finds it a sin to read before noon. . ."in der Morgenröthe seiner Kraft" (in the dawn of one's powers).Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), Ecce Homo II.8 (tr. Duncan Large):
In the early morning at break of day, when you are at your freshest, at the dawning of your strength, to read a book—that is what I call depraved!Related post: An Addiction.
Frühmorgens beim Anbruch des Tags, in aller Frische, in der Morgenröthe seiner Kraft, ein Buch lesen—das nenne ich lasterhaft!
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Textual criticism, above the level of linguistic trivialities, often depends on the editor's readiness to say, "I know this author, and what the manuscripts have here is not consistent with the way his mind works." To the opponent who demands proof the editor can only say, "Live with the author, as I have done, for the next ten years or so, and then come back and tell me what you think."
"Some people are mentally ill and do not need exorcism. But others do and there are some classic signs — people who speak in ancient tongues, for instance."Hat tip: Jim K.
Ian Jackson draws my attention to "Boom di esorcismi in Svizzera," Demonologia blog (June 13, 2014):
Un altro sacerdote svizzero, Christoph Casetti, racconta come talvolta su Skype appaiono scritte in ebraico redatte da persone che non conoscono questa lingua. Un sintomo di una presenza estranea. Oppure queste persone capiscono il latino, un'altra prova della possessione.In English:
Another Swiss priest, Christoph Casetti, tells how sometimes on Skype there appear writings in Hebrew written by people who don't know this language. A symptom of an alien presence. Or these people understand Latin, another proof of possession.
Napoleon on Vergil
It is significant that Book II, his most sustained and most finished scene of battle, did not meet with the approval of Napoleon, who said that Virgil was "nothing but the regent of a college, who had never gone outside his doors and did not know what an army was."I noticed a misprint in this book on p. 75, where Bowra quotes Vergil, Aeneid 11.232-233:
fatalem Aeneas manifesto numine ferriFor Aeneas read Aenean.
admonet ira deum tumulique ante ora recentes.
Labels: typographical and other errors
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Perpetually and Profoundly Moving
One of the principal features about the study of Greek inscriptions is the closeness of contact which they give us with the ancient world. That in some weather-beaten fragment we have, before our eyes, the very words of an important and perhaps, in the event, world-shaking decision as inscribed soon after the decision was taken, that we are so to speak reaching across more than two thousand years and grasping the stone-cutter’s hand after he had finished writing words perhaps vital to the future of civilization as we know it, remains perpetually and profoundly moving, and can hardly fail to stir the imagination of even the most stolid student of the classics.
An Impartial God
Alike to all is the god of war, and lo, he slayeth him that would slay.Cicero, Letters to Friends 6.4.1 (tr. D.R. Shackleton Bailey):
ξυνὸς Ἐνυάλιος, καί τε κτανέοντα κατέκτα.
In every war the God of Battles fights in both ranks, and the outcome of a battle is always in doubt.
nam cum omnis belli Mars communis et cum semper incerti exitus proeliorum sunt...
Become as Little Children
I get along well with children because our concerns are the same. It's a matter of having fun and living in the moment, without preconceptions and without obligations, such as gratitude.
Je m'accorde avec les enfants parce que nos préoccupations sont les mêmes. Il s'agit de s'amuser et de vivre dans l'instant, sans préjugés et sans devoirs, notamment de gratitude.
Monday, April 13, 2015
An Auto-Antonym: Crudelis
In three inscriptions from Numerus Syrorum, Africa, the dead are called crudelis.62 An odd inversion of the proper sense, apparently, appears in the use of the terms mater (or pater) scelerata;63 mater inpia,64 crudelis inpia mater.65 Evidently the implication is that it is unjust for the parents to survive their children; therefore, though not responsible, they must in some way be guilty; or else the true meaning of the words has been misunderstood. The usage appears to be confined to southern Italy. Even more strange, perhaps, is the language in the following: filiabus male merentibus crudelis pater iscripsit.66I think that Lattimore's second explanation is the correct one—the meaning of crudelis in these inscriptions has been misunderstood. For the meaning in these inscriptions, which is the opposite of the usual meaning, see Oxford Latin Dictionary, s.v. crudelis, sense 3.c:
62 CIL 8, 9970, 21805, 21804. Cf. CE 1228 (Rome).
63 CIL 10, 310 (Tegianum), 361 (Atina), and 507 (Lucania, exact place unknown).
64 CIL 10, 2435 (Puteoli).
65 CIL 6, 1537 (Rome).
66 CIL 11, 1780 (Volaterrae).
(of the dead or bereaved, app.) cruelly treated, unfortunate ... ~ES PARENTES CIL 3.5246; QVINTIVS VICTOR ~IS VICXIT AN(N)IS XXXV 8.9981; 8.21804.This meaning of crudelis is not recognized by Lewis and Short, Latin Dictionary.
As for scelerata, see Oxford Latin Dictionary, s.v. sceleratus, sense 1.g:
(of persons) ill-starred, unfortunate.Dictionaries don't recognize any meaning for impius other than wicked vel sim., but perhaps they should recognize the sense unfortunate, in light of inscriptions such as CIL 6.23123:
Cn. Numisius Valeria|nus vix(it) ann(is) VIII. | Epictesis mater fil(i)o | impio.On the other hand, Christer Henriksén, Sylloge inscriptionum Graecarum et Latinarum Upsaliensis. The Greek and Latin inscriptions in the Collections of Uppsala University (Stockholm: Svenska Institutet i Rome, 2013 = Acta Instituti Romani Regni Sueciae 8˚, no. 23), pp. 34-35 of the "Text, translation, and commentary" (discussing CIL 6.23123), seems to prefer Lattimore's first explanation.
Sunday, April 12, 2015
Berg. What I have to remark is, that as I was the whole day at leisure—and leisure is the mother of reflection—I conned over several of those Latin phrases I had heard when I was with my masters at college, and wherewith it seemed to me that I had somewhat improved my mind; and I determined to make use of them as occasion should arise, as if I knew how to talk, but in a different manner from that practised by some ignorant persons, who interlard their conversation with Latin apophthegms, giving those who do not understand them to believe that they are great Latinists, whereas they can hardly decline a noun or conjugate a verb.
Scip. That is not so bad as what is done by some who really understand Latin; some of whom are so absurd, that in talking with a shoemaker or a tailor, they pour out Latin like water.
Berg. On the whole we may conclude, that he who talks Latin before persons who do not understand it, and he who talks it, being himself ignorant of it, are both equally to blame.
Scip. Another thing you may remark, which is that some persons who know Latin are not the less asses for all that.
Berg. No doubt of it; and the reason is clear; for when in the time of the Romans everybody spoke Latin as his mother tongue, that did not hinder some among them from being boobies.
Scip. But to know when to keep silence in the mother tongue, and speak in Latin, is a thing that needs discretion, brother Berganza.
Berg. True; for a foolish word may be spoken in Latin as well as in the vulgar tongue; and I have seen silly literati, tedious pedants, and babblers in the vernacular, who were enough to plague one to death with their scraps of Latin.
Saturday, April 11, 2015
The Divine Thing
many are the delights the goddess offers young men besides the sacred actThe goddess here is Aphrodite. E. Degani, "ΠΑΡΕΞ ΤΟ ΘΕΙΟΝ ΧΡΗΜΑ nel nuovo Archiloco di Colonia," Quaderni Urbinati di Cultura Classica 20 (1975) 229, first connected the beginning of line 15 in the papyrus with Hesychius π 839 Schmidt:
τ]έρψιές εἰσι θεῆς
πολλαὶ νέοισιν ἀνδ[ράσιν
παρὲξ τὸ θεῖον χρῆμα
πάρεξ τὸ θεῖον χρῆμα· ἐξω τῆς μίξεωςIn other words, τὸ θεῖον χρῆμα (the divine thing) is ἡ μίξις (sexual intercourse).
Related post: A Gift of the Gods.
Friday, April 10, 2015
A Wistfulness and a Yearning
He glanced around at his friend reading the letter and saw the books on the table. Into his eyes leaped a wistfulness and a yearning as promptly as the yearning leaps into the eyes of a starving man at sight of food. An impulsive stride, with one lurch to right and left of the shoulders, brought him to the table, where he began affectionately handling the books. He glanced at the titles and the authors' names, read fragments of text, caressing the volumes with his eyes and hands, and, once, recognized a book he had read. For the rest, they were strange books and strange authors. He chanced upon a volume of Swinburne and began reading steadily, forgetful of where he was, his face glowing. Twice he closed the book on his forefinger to look at the name of the author. Swinburne! he would remember that name. That fellow had eyes, and he had certainly seen color and flashing light. But who was Swinburne? Was he dead a hundred years or so, like most of the poets? Or was he alive still, and writing? He turned to the title-page ... yes, he had written other books; well, he would go to the free library the first thing in the morning and try to get hold of some of Swinburne's stuff. He went back to the text and lost himself.
Thursday, April 09, 2015
Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid.
Scholium on Lucian, Alexander 4, tr. Ian C. Storey (on Cratinus, fragment 160):
Aristodemus was a wretched man and given to extreme homosexual vice, for which reason the arsehole is called the Aristodemus.The same, tr. Jeffrey Henderson (on Aristophanes, fragment 242):
Aristodemus was exceedingly polluted and buggered, whence the ass hole was also called the Aristodemus.The Greek, from Hugo Rabe, ed., Scholia ad Lucianum (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1906), p. 181, lines 16-18:
ὁ Ἀριστόδημος δὲ μιαρὸς καὶ καταπύγων ἐς ὑπερβολήν, ἀφ᾿ οὗ καὶ ὁ πρωκτὸς Ἀριστόδημος καλεῖται.This could be a useful euphemism, as in "You Aristodemus!" I once knew someone who referred to the male and female genitalia, similarly, as Donny and Marie.
In Greek and Latin, as in English, a proper name can be used as a common noun, although the meaning of the common noun is usually "a person like X" or "people like X" (when the proper name occurs in the plural). A famous example is Martial 8.55.5 (sint Maecenates, non derunt, Flacce, Marones). See I. van Wageningen, "Cerdo sive de nominibus propriis Latinis appellativorum loco adhibitis," Mnemosyne 40 (1912) 147-172, and a series of posts at the Farrago blog:
- Plurals of personal names in Latin
- Plurals of personal names from mythology
- Plurals of regional names
When Demetrius of Scepsis died, the book of Tellis was found next to his head; and they say that the Diving Women of Alcman was found next to the head of Tyronichus of Chalcis, and Eupolis' Vigilantes next to that of Ephialtes, and Cratinus' Sons of Euneus next to that of Alexander king of Macedon, and Hesiod's Works and Days next to that of Seleucus Nicator. The lawgiver of Arcadia, Cercidas, ordered that books I and II of the Iliad be buried with him. Pompey the Great, being an admirer of Agamemnon, never went to war before reading book XI of the Iliad; and Cicero the Roman had his head cut off while being carried in his litter and reading Euripides' Medea.
Τελευτήσαντος Δημητρίου τοῦ Σκηψίου τὸ βιβλίον Τέλλιδος πρὸς τῇ κεφαλῇ αὐτοῦ εὑρέθη· τὰς δὲ Κολυμβώσας Ἀλκμάνους πρὸς τῇ κεφαλῇ Τυρονίχου τοῦ Χαλκιδέως εὑρεθῆναί φασι, τοὺς δ´ Ὑβριστοδίκας Εὐπόλιδος πρὸς τῇ Ἐφιάλτου, τοὺς δὲ Εὐνίδας Κρατίνου πρὸς τῇ Ἀλεξάνδρου τοῦ βασιλέως Μακεδόνων, τὰ δ´ Ἔργα καὶ τὰς Ἡμέρας Ἡσιόδου πρὸς τῇ τοῦ Σελεύκου τοῦ Νικάτορος κεφαλῇ. Ὁ μέντοι νομοθέτης Ἀρκάδων Κερκίδας συνταφῆναι αὑτῷ τὸ αʹ καὶ βʹ τῆς Ἰλιάδος κελεύσειεν. Ὁ δὲ Πομπήϊος ὁ Μάγνος οὐδ´ εἰς πόλεμον προίοι, πρὶν ἂν τὸ λʹ τῆς Ἰλιάδος ἀναγνώσειε, ζηλωτὴς ὢν Ἀγαμέμνονος· ὁ δὲ Ῥωμαῖος Κικέρων Μήδειαν Εὐριπίδου ἀναγινώσκων ἐν φορείῳ φερόμενος ἀποτμηθείη τὴν κεφαλήν.
Homer and Vergil
Identity of genre admits diversity of imaginative quality. Virgil himself has sometimes suffered from the neglect of this principle and critics have wasted time in showing that he is a weak Homer—forgetting that Homer is a far weaker Virgil, and that neither poet could possibly console us for the loss of the other.
Tuesday, April 07, 2015
The Musings of the Drinker's Heart
My lyre, cling to your peg no longer, silencing your clear voice with its seven notes. Come to my hands! I am eager to send Alexander a golden wing of the Muses, an adornment for banquets at the month's end, when the sweet compulsion of the speeding cups warms the tender hearts of the young men, and hope of the Cyprian, mingling with the gifts of Dionysus, makes their hearts flutter. The wine sends a man's thoughts soaring on high: immediately he is destroying the battlements of cities, and he expects to be monarch over all the world; his house gleams with gold and ivory, and wheat-bearing ships bring great wealth from Egypt over a dazzling sea. Such are the musings of the drinker's heart.Jebb in his commentary compares Pindar, fragment 124 ab (tr. William H. Race):
ὦ βάρβιτε, μηκέτι πάσσαλον φυλάσσων
ἑπτάτονον λιγυρὰν κάππαυε γᾶρυν·
δεῦρ᾿ ἐς ἐμὰς χέρας· ὁρμαίνω τι πέμπειν
χρύσεον Μουσᾶν Ἀλεξάνδρωι πτερόν
καὶ συμπονίαισιν ἄγαλμ᾿ ἐν εἰκάδενσιν, 5
εὖτε νέων ἁπαλὸν γλυκεῖ᾿ ἀνάγκα
σευομενᾶν κυλίκων θάλπησι θυμόν,
Κύπριδος τ᾿ ἐλπὶς διαιθύσσηι φρένας,
ἀμμειγνυμένα Διονυσίοισι δώροις·
ἀνδράσι δ᾿ ὑψοτάτω πέμπει μερίμνας· 10
αὐτίκα μὲν πολίων κράδεμνα λύει,
πᾶσι δ᾿ ἀνθρώποις μοναρχήσειν δοκεῖ·
χρυσῶι δ᾿ ἐλέφαντί τε μαρμαίρουσιν οἶκοι,
πυροφόροι δὲ κατ᾿ αἰγλάεντα πόντον
νᾶες ἄγουσιν ἀπ᾿ Αἰγύπτου μέγιστον 15
πλοῦτον· ὣς πίνοντος ὁρμαίνει κέαρ.
O Thrasyboulos, I am sending you this chariot of lovely songsRelated post: Some Effects of Wine.
for after dinner. Amid the company may it be a sweet goad
for your drinking companions, for the fruit of Dionysos,
and for the Athenian drinking cups,
when men's wearisome cares vanish 5
from their breasts, and on a sea of golden wealth
we all alike sail to an illusory shore;
then the pauper is rich, while the wealthy...
Ὦ Θρασύβουλ᾿, ἐρατᾶν ὄχημ᾿ ἀοιδᾶν
τοῦτό τοι πέμπω μεταδόρπιον. ἐν ξυνῷ κεν εἴη
συμπόταισίν τε γλυκερὸν καὶ Διωνύσοιο καρπῷ
καὶ κυλίκεσσιν Ἀθαναίασι κέντρον·
ἁνίκ᾿ ἀνθρώπων καμτώδεες οἵχονται μέριμναι 5
στηθέων ἔξω· πελάγει δ᾿ ἐν πολυχρύσοιο πλούτου
πάντες ἴσᾳ νέομεν ψευδῆ πρὸς ἀκτάν·
ὃς μὲν ἀχρήμων, ἀφνεὸς τότε, τοὶ δ᾿ αὖ
Shake Off All Responsibility
I felt or fancyed my Cure was advancing every time I bathed, & so I hope will Mr Stuart2, or if it should come insensibly that will be alike in the end, & that he will make as good a Retreat into Old Age as I have done, that is shake off all responsibility and bless every day that he lives.Ferguson was 74 when he wrote this letter.
2 Andrew Stuart of Torrance.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.
Related post: Retirement Plans.
Sunday, April 05, 2015
Nothing But Books
But if everything written by those old philosophers, historians, orators, poets, physicians, theologians, had reached this age, then we could put nothing but books in our houses; we should have to sit on books; we should have to walk on the top of books; our eyes would have to glance over nothing but books. Even now there is a terror fallen upon not a few people, and a hatred of study, when they find offered them in any subject of study the volumes which will need indefatigable industry to master. They instantly depress the minds of those who look at them, and the wretches moan, inwardly, and ask: Who can read all these?A friend just sent me an email with the following photograph of a canal in Bruges with a bust of Vives on the right side (click to enlarge):
Quod si illa omnia, quae a priscis illis philosophis, historicis, oratoribus, poetis, medicis, theologis, sunt edita, pervenissent ad hanc aetatem, nihil esset nobis aliud habendum domi quam libri, in libris fuisset sedendum, libri fuissent calcandi, incurrere in aliud non possent oculi, quam in libros; etiam ut nunc quidem est, non paucis terror incutitur, et odium studii, quum offeruntur eis in quaque disciplina inexhausti laboris volumina; despondent actutum animos, qui ea intuentur, et miseri intra se queruntur, Quis leget haec?
On the subject of books, my friend adds:
Plenty of second-hand book shops in these parts but I'm on a tight leash, like a mutt that can hardly lift his leg at a lamppost without feeling a tug at the collar.He's probably on a tight leash because he lives in an apartment in which, as his wife might say, "we have to sit on books; we have to walk on the top of books; our eyes have to glance over nothing but books."
Path to Happiness
(11) There is one guideline, one path to happiness for mortals: to be able to keep an ungrieving spirit throughout life. The man who busies his mind with a thousand cares, whose heart is hurt day and night for the sake of the future, has fruitless toil.The same, tr. R.C. Jebb:
(12) For what relief is there any longer in buffeting one's heart with useless lamentation?
(11) εἷς ὅρος, μία βροτοῖσίν ἐστιν εὐτυχίας ὁδός,
θυμὸν εἴ τις ἔχων ἀπενθῆ δύναται
διατελεῖν βίον· ὃς δὲ μυρία
μὲν ἀμφιπολεῖ φρενί,
τὸ δὲ παρ᾿ ἆμάρ τε καὶ νύκτα μελλόντων
χάριν αἰὲν ἰάπτεται
κέαρ, ἄκαρπον ἔχει πόνον.
(12) τί γὰρ ἐλαφρὸν ἔτ᾿ ἐστὶν ἄπρακτ᾿
(11) One canon is there, one sure way, of happiness for mortals—if one can keep a cheerful spirit throughout life. But he whose thoughts are busy with countless cares, and who afflicts his soul day and night about the future, has barren toil.Related posts:
(12) What ease is left to him who agitates his heart with vain laments?
- The Self-Tormentor
- Advice To a Self-Tormentor
- Advice to Poor Jackself
- Self-Imposed Burdens
- The Blue-Devil-Hunting Crew
When I want to understand Italian history I catch a train and go to Ravenna. There, between the tomb of Theodoric and that of Dante, in the reassuring neighbourhood of the best manuscript of Aristophanes and in the less reassuring one of the best portrait of the Empress Theodora, I can begin to feel what Italian history has really been.
Saturday, April 04, 2015
Because I should relate everything I heard from this famous man, here is what I heard clearly one fine evening. After taking a walk in his garden, I climbed a large rock in order to see him in his bed, where he was writing with his window open. He let a huge fart, redolent of a bricklayer rather than of a witty gentleman. I undertook to run away as quick as I could, so he wouldn't hear me laugh.I'm reminded of Boswell's words:
Comme il faut que je dise tout ce que j'ai entendu de cet homme célèbre, voici ce que j'ouïs distinctement, pendant une belle nuit, qu'après m'être promené dans son jardin, je grimpai sur une grosse pierre pour le voir dans son lit, où il écrivoit, sa fenêtre ouverte. Il lâcha un gros pet, qui sentait plutôt le maçon que l'homme d'esprit, et je me mis à fuir de toutes mes forces, pour qu'il ne m'entendît pas rire.
I remain firm and confident in my opinion, that minute particulars are frequently characteristick, and always amusing, when they relate to a distinguished man. I am therefore exceedingly unwilling that any thing, however slight, which my illustrious friend thought it worth his while to express, with any degree of point, should perish.Hat tip: Ian Jackson.
Labels: noctes scatologicae
Ajax and Cardinal Newman
Personally I find Ajax much more familiar and more intelligible than, say, Cardinal Newman.
Friday, April 03, 2015
Some Missing Words in Acts 17.34
But some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.I don't have a copy of Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 4th ed. (London: United Bible Societies, 1994), but I think he commented on this verse as follows (translation in square brackets added by me):
τινὲς δὲ ἄνδρες κολληθέντες αὐτῷ ἐπίστευσαν, ἐν οἷς καὶ Διονύσιος ὁ Ἀρεοπαγίτης καὶ γυνὴ ὀνόματι Δάμαρις καὶ ἕτεροι σὺν αὐτοῖς.
The omission in codex Bezae of the words καὶ γυνὴ ὀνόματι Δάμαρις ["and a woman named Damaris"] has been taken by some (e.g. Wm.M. Ramsay) to be another indication of the anti-feminist attitude of the scribe (see the comment on ver. 12 above). It is, however, more likely, as A.C. Clark suggests, that a line in an ancestor of codex Bezae had been accidentally omitted, so that what remains in D is ἐν οἷς καὶ Διονύσιός τις Ἀρεοπαγείτης εὐσχήμων καὶ ἕτεροι σὺν αὐτοῖς ("among whom also was a certain Dionysius, an Areopagite of high standing, and others with them"). In either case, however, the concluding phrase σὺν αὐτοῖς suggests that Luke originally specified more than one person (Dionysius) as among Paul's converts.A different explanation for the omission of the words καὶ γυνὴ ὀνόματι Δάμαρις occurred to me. The antecedent of the relative pronoun οἷς is ἄνδρες (nominative plural of ἀνήρ). The primary meaning of ἀνήρ is "man, opp. woman" (Liddell-Scott-Jones), i.e. "a man as opposed to a woman." Could a scribe have reasoned as follows?
- In Athens some men (τινὲς δὲ ἄνδρες) joined Paul.
- Damaris was a woman (γυνή).
- As a woman, Damaris cannot be counted among these men who joined Paul.
- The words καὶ γυνὴ ὀνόματι Δάμαρις therefore appear to contradict the words τινὲς δὲ ἄνδρες.
- I've already written ἄνδρες. Instead of blotting it out, I'll omit καὶ γυνὴ ὀνόματι Δάμαρις to avoid the contradiction.
Dr. Syntax and Mr. Pound
DR SYNTAX: Now for our Propertius translation, boys. This morning we begin with the lines:(Graves didn't invent the joke about Vergil, Georgics 1.43-44: see Comical Construes.)
Multi, Roma, tuas laudes annalibus addent(Dr Syntax consults his teachers' crib, which reads: 'Multi, Roma, many men, O Rome, addent, shall add, tuas laudes annalibus, praises of thee to the annals, qui canent, prophesying, Bactra futura, that Bactria shall form, imperii finem, thine imperial frontier [i.e. that the Parthian empire shall be absorbed], sed, but, pagina nostra, my page, detulit, has brought down, hoc opus, this work, de monte Sororum, from the mountain of the Sisters [i.e. the Muses of Parnassus], viâ intactâ, by an untrodden path, quod legas pace, for thee to read in time of peace [i.e. I alone have not joined the cavalcade of popular war poets].' He sighs and looks about him.)
Qui finem imperii Bactra futura canent.
Sed, quod pace legas, opus hoc de monte Sororum
Detulit intactâ pagina nostra viâ.
THE BOYS: Only to the bottom of the page, Dr Syntax, Sir.
DR SYNTAX: Ha! Very well. Let me see! Whom shall I put on to construe first? Surely our celebrated transatlantic scholar Ezra Pound who only yesterday, perhaps inspired by George Borrow's felicitous pseudo-translations from the Armenian and Polish, distinguished himself by rendering
Unde pater sitiens Ennius ante bibitas if sitiens meant 'sitting', not 'a-thirst'. Quiet, boys, no merriment! Come on, Pound; my Fabian libra of twelve asses in one, ha, ha! I can see you are yearning to outdo yourself.
POUND (virtuously): Please, Dr Syntax, Sir! I have translated the whole passage into free verse. I call it Homage to Sextus Propertius, Sir.
DR SYNTAX: Eh, what? How very industrious and thoughtful of you! Proceed! We are all attention.
Annalists will continue to record Roman reputations.DR SYNTAX: BREATHTAKING MAGNIFICENCE, Pound, BRILLIANT PARAPHRASES. I am delighted that you scorn to use Kelly's Keys to the Classics. You are, I see, DELIBERATELY DISTORTING THE STRICT SENSE IN ORDER TO BRING OUT VIVIDLY PROPERTIUS'S LATENT IRONY. I would go farther: I would say that you have expanded a facile and rather petty pair of elegiac couplets into what MUST SURELY PROVE TO BE A DURABLE ADDITION TO, AND INFLUENCE UPON, ORIGINAL POETRY IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE IN THIS CENTURY. But, pray, would you be kind enough, for the benefit of the slower-witted members of the Fourth Form, to give a literal, unpadded, word-for-word translation of the Latin, however bald? I suspect that 'CELEBRITIES FROM THE TRANS-CAUCASUS' ARE A BRIGHT NOTION OF POUND'S OWN, SUGGESTED PERHAPS BY THE SINGLE WORD BACTRA?
Celebrities from the Trans-Caucasus will belaud Roman celebrities
And expound the distentions of Empire,
But for something to read in normal circumstances?
For a few pages brought down from the forked hill unsullied?
POUND: O, no, Dr Syntax, Sir. Please, Sir, it goes like this. Multi tuas laudes, many of your praises, Roma, O Rome, addent annalibus, will be added by annalists, qui, who, Bactra futura, being Bactrians of the future (this is a bit like Macaulay's New Zealander, isn't it, Sir?), canent, will sing, fines imperii, about your fine empire. Sed, but, quod, what about, legas, reading matter, pace hoc opus, when all this work is at peace? And then in apposition, Sir: via, a few, intacta pagina, unsullied pages, detulit, brought down, de monte Sororum, from the hill of Soritis (I looked it out, Sir, and it means 'a forked complex of logical sophisms').
DR SYNTAX: Great! This MAY SET THE ACADEMIC CRITICS ALL AGOG, but it will certainly earn you a four-column eulogy in The Times Literary Supplement. The anonymous reviewer will compare you with Marlowe, and say even kinder things about your genius than I have dared.
(Dreamily.) Talking of Dog-Latin, my boys, you all doubtless recall Virgil's immortal lines beginning:
Vere novo gelidus canis sub montibus umorUnlike good Citizen Pound, I claim no talent for free verse, but I think I can knock up a pretty fair Shakespearean line: Vere novo, Strange yet how true, gelidus canis, the dog with chills and fevers, sub montibus liquitur, makes water at the lofty mountain's foot, umor, for a mere jest. Silence, boys, or I shall give you a hundred lines apiece! And while I am on the subject of discipline, my Poundling, let me remind you to visit my study tonight after school prayers; and mind you, fili dilectissime, no padding—ha, ha!
POUND (mutters vindictively): Pedant, Jew, pluto-democratic usurer!
See also, from the same book, "These Be Your Gods, O Israel!" = The Clark Lectures, Lecture VI, pp. 119-142 (at 129):
He knew little Latin, yet he translated Propertius; and less Greek, but he translated Alcaeus; and little Anglo-Saxon, yet he translated The Seafarer. I once asked Arthur Waley how much Chinese Pound knew; Waley shook his head despondently. And I don't claim to be an authority on Provençal, but Majorcan, which my children talk most of the time, and which I understand, is closely related to it. When my thirteen-year-old boy was asked to compare a Provençal text with Pound's translation, he laughed and laughed and laughed.
Thursday, April 02, 2015
I do not know the present attitude of the Roman Church to poetry, but in 1916, when I was recovering from wounds near Quarr Abbey in the Isle of Wight, the good Benedictine monks tried to persuade me to join their Order after the War. One tempting argument was that they had a wonderful library of 20,000 volumes—on every possible subject—agriculture, music, history, mechanics, printing, mathematics....But I asked Father Blanchon-Lasserve, the Guest-master: 'What about poetry?' 'No, my son,' he answered, 'we have no poetry. It is not necessary.'Related post: Tempted to Convert.
Who Killed James Joyce?
Who killed James Joyce?The editor's notes on pp. 278-279 don't state the obvious, probably because it's too obvious—the poem is a parody of the nursery rhyme "Who Killed Cock Robin?" Among famous critics, Guy Davenport (1927-2005) wrote a thesis on symbolism in Joyce's Ulysses (not "a Harvard thesis," but a 1950 Oxford one, earning him a B.Litt. degree), and Hugh Kenner (1923-2003) wrote his 1950 Yale Ph.D. dissertation on Joyce (cf. "I, said a Yale-man"). Kavanagh's poem was first published in 1951.
I, said the commentator,
I killed James Joyce
For my graduation.
What weapon was used
To slay mighty Ulysses?
The weapon that was used
Was a Harvard thesis.
How did you bury Joyce?
In a broadcast Symposium.
That's how we buried Joyce
To a tuneful encomium.
Who carried the coffin out?
Six Dublin codgers
Led into Langham Place
By W.R. Rodgers.
Who said the burial prayers? —
Please do not hurt me —
Joyce was no Protestant,
Surely not Bertie?
Who killed Finnegan?
I, said a Yale-man,
I was the man who made
The corpse for the wake man.
And did you get high marks,
I got the B.Litt.
And my master's degree.
Did you get money
For your Joycean knowledge?
I got a scholarship
To Trinity College.
I made the pilgrimage
In the Bloomsday swelter
From the Martello Tower
To the cabby's shelter.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.
Limits to Inequality
Plato when writing Laws thought that up to a certain point inequality ought to be allowed, but that no citizen should be permitted to acquire more land than would make his estate five times the size of the smallest...Plato, Laws 5.744 D-745 B (tr. R.G. Bury, with his note):
Πλάτων δὲ τοὺς Νόμους γράφων μέχρι μέν τινος ᾤετο δεῖν ἐᾶν, πλεῖον δὲ τοῦ πενταπλασίαν εἶναι τῆς ἐλαχίστης μηδενὶ τῶν πολιτῶν ἐξουσίαν εἶναι κτήσασθαι...
[744 D] The kind of law that I would enact as proper to follow next after the foregoing would be this: It is, as we assert, necessary in a State which is to avoid that greatest of plagues, which is better termed disruption than dissension,2 that none of its citizens should be in a condition of either painful poverty or wealth, since both these conditions produce both these results; consequently the lawgiver must now declare a limit for both these conditions. The limit of poverty shall be the value of the allotment: [744 E] this must remain fixed, and its diminution in any particular instance no magistrate should overlook, nor any other citizen who aspires to goodness. And having set this as the (inferior) limit, the lawgiver shall allow a man to possess twice this amount, or three times, or four times. Should anyone acquire more than this—whether by discovery or gift or money-making, or through gaining a sum exceeding [745 A] the due measure by some other such piece of luck, if he makes the surplus over to the State and the gods who keep the State, he shall be well-esteemed and free from penalty. But if anyone disobeys this law, whoso wishes may get half by laying information, and the man that is convicted shall pay out an equal share of his own property, and the half shall go to the gods. All the property of every man over and above his allotment shall be publicly written out and be in the keeping of the magistrates appointed by law, [745 B] so that legal rights pertaining to all matters of property may be easy to decide and perfectly clear.
2 Or "class discord."
Wednesday, April 01, 2015
Possession and Use of Riches
Set not your heart on the excessive acquisition of goods, but on a moderate enjoyment of what you have. Despise those who strain after riches, but are not able to use what they have; they are in like case with a man who, being but a wretched horseman, gets him a fine mount.  Try to make of money a thing to use as well as to possess; it is a thing of use to those who understand how to enjoy it, and a mere possession to those who are able only to acquire it. Prize the substance you have for two reasons—that you may have the means to meet a heavy loss and that you may go to the aid of a worthy friend when he is in distress; but for your life in general, cherish your possessions not in excess but in moderation.
ἀγάπα τῶν ὑπαρχόντων ἀγαθῶν μὴ τὴν ὑπερβάλλουσαν κτῆσιν ἀλλὰ τὴν μετρίαν ἀπόλαυσιν. καταφρόνει τῶν περὶ τὸν πλοῦτον σπουδαζόντων μέν, χρῆσθαι δὲ τοῖς ὑπάρχουσι μὴ δυναμένων· παραπλήσιον γὰρ οἱ τοιοῦτοι πάσχουσιν, ὥσπερ ἂν εἴ τις ἵππον κτήσαιτο καλὸν κακῶς ἱππεύειν ἐπιστάμενος.  πειρῶ τὸν πλοῦτον χρήματα καὶ κτήματα κατασκευάζειν. ἔστι δὲ χρήματα μὲν τοῖς ἀπολαύειν ἐπισταμένοις, κτήματα δὲ τοῖς κτᾶσθαι δυναμένοις. τίμα τὴν ὑπάρχουσαν οὐσίαν δυοῖν ἕνεκεν, τοῦ τε ζημίαν μεγάλην ἐκτῖσαι δύνασθαι, καὶ τοῦ φίλῳ σπουδαίῳ δυστυχοῦντι βοηθῆσαι· πρὸς δὲ τὸν ἄλλον βίον μηδὲν ὑπερβαλλόντως ἀλλὰ μετρίως αὐτὴν ἀγάπα.