Friday, July 31, 2015
You Can't Please Everyone
There never has been nor will there be a man
who will please everyone before he goes down to Hades.
For not even he who is lord of mortals and immortals,
Zeus the son of Cronus, can please all men.
οὐδεὶς ἀνθρώπων οὔτ᾿ ἔσσεται οὔτε πέφυκεν
ὅστις πᾶσιν ἁδὼν δύσεται εἰς Ἀΐδεω·
οὐδὲ γὰρ ὃς θνητοῖσι καὶ ἀθανάτοισιν ἀνάσσει,
Ζεὺς Κρονίδης, θνητοῖς πᾶσιν ἁδεῖν δύναται.
Are You Truly a Library?
Went to the American Center Library to look up what they have on Jack Kerouac. A large, empty room filled with viewers and TV buzz and persons in frameless glasses, who look up up and ask, "Who? Never heard of him. Will you please use our deck?" One pointed to a keyboard. I did not know how to use it. It was a computer of some sort. With ill grace and an unbelieving expression she pecked out after again asking, K/E/R/O/A/C. Pushed a button. Machine clicked. Nothing.
"We have nothing," she said. "You do not seem seem to have any books at all," I mildly remarked. "Would you care to see our magazine file?" "Can you really see it, or do you conjure that up too from buttons?" I asked, now revealing nastiness. She narrowed her eyes in irritation. "Are you truly a library?" I pursued. "Yes, we call ourselves a library," she said. "You are wrong," I said. "You are a database."
I do not know what a database is, but my chagrin and rage at finding out what had happened to what was once a perfectly good library was not immediately to be denied. Storming out was OK, but it still left me with my Kerouac problem. One which became even more complicated when I returned home and discovered that I had spelled the writer's name wrong. There is a U in Kerouac which I had left out. The computer, not being able to make allowances, could not find him, even if he was there, lying in the dark. Shall I go back? I think not.
A friend writes:
The last public library I set foot in was in Inverness and I was shocked by how few books were on display, anachronistic encumbrances, it seemed, in what was fast becoming a community-centre-cum-cyber-café. A lot of the books I buy second-hand through Amazon bear the ugly stamp DISCARD or WITHDRAWN and I think of some thin-lipped little Hitler of a librarian stamping them not in sorrow but with relish, aiding and abetting the cultural suicide of the community out of whose public funds the book had been bought in the first place.
Thursday, July 30, 2015
In a Latin 'period' the subject stands first, conditions, accessions, even subordinate agents, are enunciated next, in order; the principal verb comes at the end, immediately preceded by the object and its attributes and qualifications. In unconstrained Greek, as in English, normal syntax places the verb between subject and object, but a more significant word may be substituted in the central position. In the motto of the Academy
μηδεὶς ἀγεωμέτρητος εἰσίτωthe significant word could be central without disturbance of normal syntax. In the English line
All hope abandon, ye who enter herenormal order is inverted to centralize the significant word abandon. But complete the iambic line
μηδεὶς ἀγεωμέτρητος εἰσίτω, Κλέονand it becomes part of a larger composition—a comedian's snub to a rabble-rouser. presuming either a previous question, or a retort such as
ὁ Νικίας δ' ἄπειρὀς ἐστι μουσικῆςwhich is the same 'pedimental' form, and balances it in the whole couplet around the significant words Κλέον and Νικίας.
Herodotus was not the inventor of this mode of composition. It is in the genius of the Greek language and of Greek art. In Greek verse the hexameter and the iambic line are balanced about their caesura; in the geometric art of the Early Iron Age, centre-piece and pendant side-panels are fundamental. The structure of the Iliad and Odyssey has similar culminations and counterparts.1 The same design is characteristic of the dithyramb, and fundamental in another archaic survival, the stichomythia of tragedy; not only in Aeschylus2 with whom it is invariable, but, with growing laxity, in Sophocles and Euripides. Aeschylus also employs this structure in his choral odes. It reappears, after Herodotus, throughout the formal prologue of Thucydides.3 In the graphic arts, rhythm and balance dominate vase-painting; their simplest expression, 'heraldic symmetry', goes back indeed into Minoan and into Oriental design; it is frequent on the 'Chest of Cypselus' at Olympia,4 on the engraved bowls known as 'Phoenician',5 and in the Hesiodic 'Shield of Heracles'.6 Its best-known expression is, of course, in the pedimental sculpture of Greek temples; at Aegina it is employed in commemorative designs of Greeks and Barbarians in combat about the central figure of Athena; this was evidently a war-memorial, like the Preface of Herodotus.
1 Myres, J.H.S. lxii (1942), 204 (Iliad); J.H.S. lxxii (Odyssey); lxxiii (Iliad),
2 Myres, Proc. Brit. Acad. xxxv (1949)
3 i.1-23. E. Täubler, Die Archäologia des Thukydides.
4 Myres, J.H.S. lxvi (1946), 122.
5 Myres, J.H.S. liii (1933), 25.
6 Myres, J.H.S. lxi (1941), 33.
Odysseus was one type of the Greek ideal, as Achilles was another. Neither was exactly what we should describe as a gentleman; but what matter? Both had a healthy appetite for life, and both lived familiarly with death. On the whole Greek boys were lucky to be brought up on Homer: he was more wholesome fare than much which is provided nowadays.
By the time of my first year with [F.R.] Leavis, his sheets of anonymous texts for analysis and dating included quite a lot of prose. Very early on, I can remember being confronted with a passage of what seemed to me lively polemical writing. After some analysis of its qualities, he asked us to suggest who might have been its author. To this day I have no idea how I managed to come up with the name of Cobbett or in what context I had stumbled upon the Rural Rides, which is still the only text of his I have ever read. Yes, said Leavis, after some hesitation, I can see why you might think that, and he went on to talk at some length about colloquial vigour before revealing that the author of the passage in question was Thomas Nashe. Nashe's best known work appeared in 1592 and Rural Rides was published in 1830 so that, if I had been looking for comfort, I could have said that, as far as dating was concerned, I was only 238 years out.Hat tip: Ian Jackson.
One method I have for dividing people is to imagine that there are those who, as they look back on their life, remember it chiefly in terms of the happy moments when they were congratulated, received an award, or said some something to which the response was peculiarly gratifying. Set against these are those whose progress is remembered as a series of humiliating self-exposures, occasions when they did or said the wrong thing. As an instance of saying the wrong thing in a public context, my 'Cobbett' must rank pretty high. There is a story told by Stanley Cavell about the time he attended the music theory class given by Ernst Bloch at Berkeley. Bloch would apparently play a piece by Bach, 'with one note altered by a half a step from Bach's rendering', and then play the piece as it was written. After repeating this process, he would challenge the students to hear the difference, tell them that if they could not hear it they could not call themselves musicians, and then remind them that there were after all many 'honourable trades. Shoe-making, for example.' It would have been reasonable of Leavis to suggest that anyone who could not tell the difference between Cobbett and Nashe ought to be thinking of something other than the study of English literature. The enormity of my mistake became more painful with the passage of time as I gained more familiarity with Elizabethan prose writing, its often strange vocabulary and loose grammatical structures trailing off God knows where. The consolation was that at the time I made the error I had no idea how serious it was. There is another consolation which comes from those Proustian moments when a word pronounced in a special way, a chance glimpse of certain features, or the atmosphere in a room suddenly brings back an episode when we behaved in a particularly foolish manner. It strikes me then that the number of humiliating episodes which we remember, and which constitute our private store of psychological pain or discomfort, is as nothing compared to those we have either forgotten or were not even aware of at the time, and that Nature can sometimes be kind after all.
The way Leavis dealt with my mistake was a model for me later when I had to respond to similarly foolish suggestions. The technique is no doubt common as well as considerate, but I once witnessed an uncomfortable reductio of it at a lecture by [H.A.] Mason, whose Oxford classics degree was often adduced as the reason for his being the most urbane of all the Leavisites. At the lecture was someone from my year who had suffered a breakdown and whose behaviour had become mildly psychotic. When Mason had finished speaking he was asked by this student a whole series of increasingly mad questions to each of which he replied with the usual 'I can see why you might say that', 'that would be one way of looking at it' etc. until every other member of the audience was in an agony of embarrassment and silently begging him to cut their pain short with, 'No, I'm afraid what you have just said is complete rubbish'.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
A Prayer to Artemis
Artemis, slayer of wild beasts, daughter of Zeus, for whom Agamemnon set up a temple when he was preparing to sail on his swift ships to Troy, give ear to my prayer and ward off the evil death-spirits. For you, goddess, this is a small thing, but for me it is critical.Carolus Ausfeld, "De Graecorum Precationibus Quaestiones," Jahrbüch für classische Philologie, Suppl. 28 (1903) 503-547, recognized three parts of Greek prayers, which he called invocatio, pars epica, and precatio. Theognis' prayer to Artemis is a succinct example of this tripartite form:
Ἄρτεμι θηροφόνη, θύγατερ Διός, ἣν Ἀγαμέμνων
εἵσαθ᾿ ὅτ᾿ ἐς Τροίην ἔπλεε νηυσὶ θοῇς,
εὐχομένῳ μοι κλῦθι, κακὰς δ᾿ ἀπὸ κῆρας ἄλαλκε·
σοὶ μὲν τοῦτο, θεά, σμικρόν, ἐμοὶ δὲ μέγα.
- Invocatio: Artemis, slayer of wild beasts, daughter of Zeus (Ἄρτεμι θηροφόνη, θύγατερ Διός)
- Pars epica: for whom Agamemnon set up a temple when he was preparing to sail on his swift ships to Troy (ἣν Ἀγαμέμνων / εἵσαθ᾿ ὅτ᾿ ἐς Τροίην ἔπλεε νηυσὶ θοῇς)
- Precatio: give ear to my prayer and ward off the evil death-spirits. For you, goddess, this is a small thing, but for me it is critical (εὐχομένῳ μοι κλῦθι, κακὰς δ᾿ ἀπὸ κῆρας ἄλαλκε· / σοὶ μὲν τοῦτο, θεά, σμικρόν, ἐμοὶ δὲ μέγα)
Competition in Demagoguery
PAPHLAGONAristophanes could be writing about the current crop of presidential candidates, of both political parties. Mutato nomine de te / fabula narratur (Horace, Satires 1.1.69-70).
Blow your nose, Demos, and then wipe your hand on my head!
No, on mine!
No, on mine!
ἀπομυξάμενος, ὦ Δῆμέ, μου πρὸς τὴν κεφαλὴν ἀποψῶ.
ἐμοῦ μὲν οὖν.
ἐμοῦ μὲν οὖν.
Monday, July 27, 2015
A Lesson Learned
Laying down the pencil, she decided that she had learned one thing, and that this was all the philosophy that she contained: the meaning of work lay in the working, so the meaning of life lay only in the living; one added one day upon the next, and this was sufficient; whether one served oneself or served a master, it was the same; to fill the day was important; what filled it was of small importance.
But one common night awaits us all, and the road to death can be trodden only once. The Furies hand over some to provide entertainment for grim Mars; to sailors destruction comes from the hungry sea. Young and old alike crowd together in death; merciless Proserpine never shuns a head.51On the poem as a whole:
51 Proserpine was said to cut a lock of hair from each of her victims.
sed omnes una manet nox 15
et calcanda semel via leti.
dant alios Furiae torvo spectacula Marti;
exitio est avidum mare nautis;
mixta senum ac iuvenum densentur funera; nullum
saeva caput Proserpina fugit. 20
- Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, De Tribus Carminibus Latinis Commentatio (Göttingen: Dieterich, 1893), pp. 3-9
- L.P. Wilkinson, Horace and His Lyric Poetry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968), pp. 109-114
- Paul V. Callahan and Herbert Musurillo, "A Handful of Dust: The Archytas Ode (Hor. Carm. 1.28)," Classical Philology 59 (1964) 262-266
- Ross S. Kilpatrick, "Archytas at the Styx (Horace Carm. 1.28)," Classical Philology 63 (1968) 201-206
- Bernard Frischer, "Horace and the Monuments: A New Interpretation of the Archytas Ode (C.1.28)," Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 88 (1984) 71-102
- Armand D'Angour, "Drowning by Numbers: Pythagoreanism and Poetry in Horace Odes 1.28," Greece & Rome 50 (2003) 206-219
What More Could I Want?
The pond is plenteousHat tip: Ian Jackson.
The land is lush,
And having turned off the news
I am for the moment mellow.
With my book in one hand
And my drink in the other
What more could I want
And ten million dollars?
Saturday, July 25, 2015
Then the Colonel indicated several old books on the table. "I bought these for you, Charlie. Second hand, I fear. Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Take them. Read them. Become civilised."
I dislike any kind of joining—the Catholic Church, the Soka Gakkai, the Communist Party, or kneeling and praying for HIH. In my ideal world no one would pledge allegiance to anything.HIH = His Imperial Highness
Punishment for Arboricide
Ju-chū-gaki. These spirits are born within the wood of trees, and are tormented by the growing of the grain. ... Their condition is the result of having cut down shade-trees for the purpose of selling the timber. Persons who cut down the trees in Buddhist cemeteries or temple-grounds are especially likely to become ju-chū-gaki.2Hat tip: Ian Jackson.
2The following story of a tree-spirit is typical:
In the garden of a Samurai named Satsuma Shichizaëmon, who lived in the village of Echigawa in the province of Ōmi, there was a very old énoki. (The énoki, or "Celtis chinensis," is commonly thought to be a goblin-tree.) From ancient times the ancestors of the family had been careful never to cut a branch of this tree or to remove any of its leaves. But Shichizaëmon, who was very self-willed, one day announced that he intended to have the tree cut down. During the following night a monstrous being appeared to the mother of Shichizaëmon, in a dream, and told her that if the énoki were cut down, every member of the household should die. But when this warning was communicated to Shichizaëmon, he only laughed; and he then sent a man to cut down the tree. No sooner had it been cut down than Shichizaëmon became violently insane. For several days he remained furiously mad, crying out at intervals, "The tree! the tree! the tree!" He said that the tree put out its branches, like hands, to tear him. In this condition he died. Soon afterward his wife went mad, crying out that the tree was killing her; and she died screaming with fear. One after another, all the people in that house, not excepting the servants, went mad and died. The dwelling long remained unoccupied thereafter, no one daring even to enter the garden. At last it was remembered that before these things happened a daughter of the Satsuma family had become a Buddhist nun, and that she was still living, under the name of Jikun, in a temple at Yamashirō. This nun was sent for; and by request of the villagers she took up her residence in the house, where she continued to live until the time of her death, — daily reciting a special service on behalf of the spirit that had dwelt in the tree. From the time that she began to live in the house the tree-spirit ceased to give trouble. This story is related on the authority of the priest Shungyō, who said that he had heard it from the lips of the nun herself.
Friday, July 24, 2015
You Teach Greek Verbs and Latin Nouns
My eyelids red and heavy areHat tip: Ian Jackson.
With bending o'er the smould'ring peat.
I know the Aeneid now by heart,
My Virgil read in cold and heat,
In loneliness and hunger smart.
And I know Homer, too, I ween,
As Munster poets know Ossian.
And I must walk this road that winds
'Twixt bog and bog, while east there lies
A city with its men and books;
With treasures open to the wise,
Heart-words from equals, comrade-looks;
Down here they have but tale and song,
They talk Repeal the whole night long.
'You teach Greek verbs and Latin nouns,'
The dreamer of Young Ireland said.
'You do not hear the muffled call,
The sword being forged, the far-off tread
Of hosts to meet as Gael and Gall—
What good to us your wisdom-store,
Your Latin verse, your Grecian lore?'
And what to me is Gael or Gall?
Less than the Latin or the Greek.
I teach these by the dim rush-light,
In smoky cabins night and week.
But what avail my teaching slight?
Years hence, in rustic speech, a phrase,
As in wild earth a Grecian vase!
Forsaking One's Homeland
If you were not very bad, you would never be slighting your fatherland and praising this city; because in my eyes at least, a man would be judged wrong-headed who scorns the confines of his ancestral land, to commend another and take pleasure in its ways.Commentary in Ioanna Karamanou, Euripides, Danae and Dictys: Introduction, Text and Commentary (München: K.G. Saur, 2006), pp. 216-218, who notes (p. 217):
εἰ δ᾿ ἦσθα μὴ κάκιστος, οὔποτ᾿ ἂν πάτραν
τὴν σὴν ἀτίζων τήνδ᾿ ἂν ηὐλόγεις πόλιν·
ὡς ἔν γ᾿ ἐμοὶ κρίνοιτ᾿ ἂν οὐ καλῶς φρονεῖν
ὅστις πατρῴας γῆς ἀτιμάζων ὅρους
ἄλλην ἐπαινεῖ καὶ τρόποισιν ἥδεται.
4 ὅρους codd. Stobaei (3.39.8): νόμους Nauck
Serious accusations are made in oratory against those who disparage (cf. Lys. xxxi 6 and Carey 1989, ad loc., D. xx 110-111, Andoc. i 5) or abandon their homelands for other cities (the subject of Lycurg. i).
Thursday, July 23, 2015
Dearest son of Aegeus, only to the gods comes no old age or death. All else is dissolved by all-powerful time. The earth's strength decays, the body's too, faith dies, mistrust flowers, and the wind of friendship does not blow steady between man and man, city and city. For some now, for others later, sweet turns to bitter, and back again to love.
ὦ φίλτατ᾿ Αἰγέως παῖ, μόνοις οὐ γίγνεται
θεοῖσι γῆρας οὐδὲ κατθανεῖν ποτε,
τὰ δ᾿ ἄλλα συγχεῖ πάνθ᾿ ὁ παγκρατὴς χρόνος.
φθίνει μὲν ἰσχὺς γῆς, φθίνει δὲ σώματος, 610
θνῄσκει δὲ πίστις, βλαστάνει δ᾿ ἀπιστία,
καὶ πνεῦμα ταὐτὸν οὔποτ᾿ οὔτ᾿ ἐν ἀνδράσιν
φίλοις βέβηκεν οὔτε πρὸς πόλιν πόλει.
τοῖς μὲν γὰρ ἤδη, τοῖς δ᾿ ἐν ὑστέρῳ χρόνῳ
τὰ τερπνὰ πικρὰ γίγνεται καὖθις φίλα. 615
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
The Disinterested Pursuit of Knowledge
"It is related", we read in Qutb ad-dîn's History of Mekka, "that the first madrasah in the world, that of Nizâm al-Mulk, was founded in Bagdad in the year 457 of the Hijrah (1065 A.D.) When the learned of Transoxania heard of this, they instituted a day of mourning for knowledge, and lamented over the decay of honour and science. Asked for the reason, they said: 'Knowledge is a noble and excellent queen who can only be wooed by noble excellent sons for her native nobility, and by reason of the natural affinity of these souls to her. Now however a reward has been set up and vulgar souls will seek her and use her for gain. So knowledge will be degraded by the vulgarity of these people without their being raised by her nobility....'"Hat tip: Ian Jackson.
Alcman, Fragment 26
My legs can support me no longer, young ladiesHere is the Greek, from Malcolm Davies, ed., Poetarum Melicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, Vol. I (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), p. 76:
with voices of honey and song divine!
Ah, would that I could be a kingfisher, flying
sea-blue, fearless, amid you halcyons
down to rest on the foaming brine!
οὔ μ᾿ ἔτι, παρϲενικαὶ μελιγάρυεϲ ἱαρόφωνοι,I've stitched together Davies' text, apparatus, and notes on this fragment (pp. 76-78) into a single image below, omitting page numbers and headings:
γυῖα φέρην δύναται· βάλε δὴ βάλε κηρύλοϲ εἴην,
ὅϲ τ᾿ ἐπὶ κύματοϲ ἄνθοϲ ἅμ᾿ ἀλκυόνεϲϲι ποτήται
νηδεὲϲ ἦτορ ἔχων, ἁλιπόρφυροϲ ἱαρὸϲ ὄρνιϲ.
For commentary on the fragment see Herbert Weir Smyth, Greek Melic Poets (London: Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1900), pp. 190-191, and David A. Campbell, Greek Lyric Poetry (1982; rpt. London: Bristol Classical Press, 2003), pp. 217-218. A few notes to aid my own comprehension:
2 φέρην = φέρειν.
2 βάλε, see Liddell-Scott-Jones s.v.: "O that! would God! c. opt., Alcm.26, Call.Hec.26.2; cf. ἄβαλε."
2 δὴ, see J.D. Denniston, Greek Particles, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954), p. 218 ("in wishes"), and Guy L. Cooper, III, Greek Syntax, Vol. 4: Early Greek Poetic and Herodotean Syntax (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002), pp. 2950 ("may also be attached directly to ... optative forms which express ardent wishes") and 2955.
3 ποτήται, "flies to and fro," from ποτάομαι, frequentative of πέτομαι.
4 νηδεὲϲ (Boissonade's conjecture): νηδεής is not to be found in Liddell-Scott-Jones. The adjective would be equivalent to ἀδεής, meaning fearless.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
The moonlight is good, good for solitary sitting;The same, translator unknown:
there's a pair of pine trees in front of my roof.
From the southwest a faint breeze comes,
stealing in among the branches and leaves,
making a sad and sighing sound,
at midnight here in the bright moon's presence,
like the rustle, rustle of rain on cold hills,
or the clear clean note of autumn lute strings.
One hearing and the fierce heat is washed away,
a second hearing wipes out worry and gloom.
I stay up all evening, never sleeping,
till mind and body are both wiped clean.
On the avenue to the south, horses and carriages pass;
from neighbors to the west, frequent songs and flutes—
who'd suppose that here under the eaves
the sounds that fill my ears are in no way noisy.
I like sitting alone when the moon is shining,The same, tr. David Hinton (should cystalline in line 8 be crystalline?):
And there are two pines standing before the verandah;
A breeze comes from the south-west,
Creeping into the branches and leaves.
Under the brilliant moon at midnight
It whistles a cool, distant music,
Like rustling rains in empty mountains
And the serene harp-strings in the fall.
On first hearing them, the heat of summer is washed away:
And this suffocating boredom comes to an end.
So I keep awake the whole night,
Both the heart and body becoming clear.
Along the south street coaches and horses are stirring,
In the west city sounds of playing and singing.
Who knows that under the roof-trees of this place
The ears are full, but not with noise.
The moon's beautiful, and sitting aloneChinese here (I can't vouch for the accuracy).
beautiful. In two pines near the porch,
a breeze arrives from the southwest,
stealing into the branches and leaves,
swelling such isolate silence into sound
past midnight under a brilliant moon:
a cold mountain rain whispering far,
a cystalline ch'in pitched autumn pure.
I hear it rinsing summer heat clean,
clearing the confusion twilight darkens,
and by the end of a night without sleep,
body and mind are so light and quick.
Horses and carts soon crowd the road,
neighbors start their raucous flutesong.
Who'd believe it—here under the eaves,
ears so full and no trace of such racket?
Related post: Forest Murmurs.
Why, who makes much of a miracle?Id., "Song of Myself," § 24:
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.
To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.
To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—the ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?
I believe in the flesh and the appetites.Id., "Starting from Paumanok," § 12:
Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part and tag of me is a miracle.
...all the things of the universe are perfect miracles, each as profound as any.Id., "Preface" to 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass:
...every motion and every spear of grass and the frames and spirits of men and women and all that concerns them are unspeakably perfect miracles all referring to all and each distinct and in its place.
To a Know-It-All
Wear not, then, one mood only in thyself; think not that thy word, and thine alone, must be right. For if any man thinks that he alone is wise,—that in speech, or in mind, he hath no peer,—such a soul, when laid open, is ever found empty.Theognis 221-223 (tr. Douglas E. Gerber):
μή νυν ἓν ἦθος μοῦνον ἐν σαυτῷ φόρει, 705
ὡς φὴς σύ, κοὐδὲν ἄλλο, τοῦτ᾽ ὀρθῶς ἔχειν.
ὅστις γὰρ αὐτὸς ἢ φρονεῖν μόνος δοκεῖ,
ἢ γλῶσσαν, ἣν οὐκ ἄλλος, ἢ ψυχὴν ἔχειν,
οὗτοι διαπτυχθέντες ὤφθησαν κενοί.
Anyone who thinks that his neighbour knows nothing, while he himself is the only one to make crafty plans, is a fool, his good sense impaired.
ὅστις τοι δοκέει τὸν πλησίον ἴδμεναι οὐδέν,
ἀλλ᾿ αὐτὸς μοῦνος ποικίλα δήνε᾿ ἔχειν,
κεῖνός γ᾿ ἄφρων ἐστί, νόου βεβλαμμένος ἐσθλοῦ.
Monday, July 20, 2015
Requisites for the Good Life
Beyond the North Wind there lies a paradise that no traveller can reach either by land or by sea. It is the country of the Hyperboreans, that blessed people whom Apollo loves and with whom he spends the winter months of every year. Untouched by illness or old age, in perpetual peace and ease, they adorn their heads with bright wreaths and spend their days in cheerful feasting,
and the Muse, in accord with their ways,So the young Pindar imagined an ideal society; and in another song he described how the virtuous dead enjoy amenities far superior to those of the dim and eerie Homeric Hades, in a fragrant city set amid flowery meadows, forests, and amiable rivers, where they amuse themselves as they will,
does not forsake that land: dance-choruses of girls
are everywhere, and the assertive voices
of lyres and resounding shawms are ever astir.
some with horses and exercise, some with board-games,Pindar was a professional musician. But most Greeks, we may be sure, would have agreed with him in putting music high on the list of requisites for the good life. Music, song, and dance were seen as being, together with orderly sacrifices to the gods and athletic facilities for men, the most characteristic manifestations of a civilized community in peacetime.2
some with lyres: in full blossom
their thriving fortune stands.1
1 Pind. Pyth. 10. 37 ff.; fr. 129. 6f.
2 Cf. Od. 8 (the Phaeacians, esp. ll. 97-103, 246-53); Hymn. Hom. 30. 7-16; 'Theog.' 757-64, 773-9, 789-94; Bacchyl. fr. 4.61-80; Aesch. Supp. 667-97; Pind. Pyth. 5.66; Ar. Ran. 729; Pl. Leg. 803 e.
Martin Litchfield West died a week ago, as I was told by Marc Addington. I have found no obituary in any major newspaper since then, although this sad event is more momentous than much of what passes for news these days.
Update—Obituaries will be added here as I become aware of them:
- The Telegraph (July 21, 2015)
- L'Osservatore Romano (July 31, 2015), p. 8
- The Independent (August 3, 2015)
The modern poet speaks of love 'engendered in the eyes, with gazing fed:' the ancients rather spoke of an influence passing from the eye of the beloved (τὸ ἐρωτικὸν ὄμμα, Plat. Phaedr. 253 E) to the soul of the lover. Desire, like vision, was viewed as an emanation from an object. Hence Plato's account of ἵμερος, Phaedr. 251 B, C, δεξάμενος γὰρ τοῦ κάλλους τὴν ἀπορροὴν διὰ τῶν ὀμμάτων, ἐθερμάνθη ᾗ ἡ τοῦ πτεροῦ φύσις ἄρδεται .. ὅταν μὲν οὖν βλέπουσα πρὸς τὸ κάλλος, ἐκεῖθεν μέρη ἐπιόντα καὶ ῥέοντ᾽, ἃ δὴ διὰ ταῦτα ἵμερος καλεῖται, δεχομένη τὸν ἵμερον ἄρδηταί τε καὶ θερμαίνηται, λωφᾷ τε τῆς ὀδύνης καὶ γέγηθεν.Translation by Harold N. Fowler of the passage quoted from Plato's Phaedrus:
for as the effluence of beauty enters him through the eyes, he is warmed; the effluence moistens the germ of the feathers .. Then when it gazes upon the beauty of the boy and receives the particles which flow thence to it (for which reason they are called yearning), it is moistened and warmed, ceases from its pain and is filled with joy.
Where is the Real America?
At present, the personnel of the government of these thirty millions, in executives and elsewhere, is drawn from limber-tongued lawyers, very fluent but empty, feeble old men, professional politicians, dandies, dyspeptics, and so forth, and rarely drawn from the solid body of the people...
I expect to see the day when the like of the present personnel of the governments, federal, state, municipal, military, and naval, will be looked upon with derision, and when qualified mechanics and young men will reach Congress and other official stations, sent in their working costumes, fresh from their benches and tools, and returning to them again with dignity.
I would be much pleased to see some heroic, shrewd, fully-informed, healthy-bodied, middle-aged, beard-faced American blacksmith or boatman come down from the West across the Alleghanies, and walk into the Presidency, dressed in a clean suit of working attire, and with the tan all over his face, breast, and arms; I would certainly vote for that sort of man, possessing the due requirements, before any other candidate.
To-day, of all the persons in public office in These States, not one in a thousand has been chosen by any spontaneous movement of the people, nor is attending to the interests of the people; all have been nominated and put through by great or small caucuses of the politicians, or appointed as rewards for electioneering; and all consign themselves to personal and party interests. Neither in the Presidency, nor in Congress, nor in the foreign ambassadorships, nor in the governorships of The States, nor in legislatures, nor in the mayoralities of cities, nor the aldermanships, nor among the police, nor on the benches of judges, do I observe a single bold, muscular, young, well-informed, well-beloved, resolute American man, bound to do a man's duty, aloof from all parties, and with a manly scorn of all parties.
Where is the real America? Where are the laboring persons, ploughmen, men with axes, spades, scythes, flails? Where are the carpenters, masons, machinists, drivers of horses, workmen in factories? Where is the spirit of the manliness and common-sense of These States? It does not appear in the government. It does not appear at all in the Presidency.
America has outgrown parties; henceforth it is too large, and they too small. They habitually make common cause just as soon in advocacy of the worst deeds and men as the best, or probably a little sooner for the worst. I place no reliance upon any old party, nor upon any new party.
I have said the old parties are defunct; but there remains of them empty flesh, putrid mouths, mumbling and squeaking the tones of these conventions, the politicians standing back in shadow, telling lies, trying to delude and frighten the people...
What impudence! for any one platform, section, creed, no matter which, to expect to subordinate all the rest, and rule the immense diversity of These free and equal States!
Saturday, July 18, 2015
History is not a bedtime story. It is a comprehensive engagement with often obscure documents and books no longer read—books shelved in old archives, and fragile pamphlets contemporaneous with the subject under study—all of which reflect a world view not ours. We cannot make eighteenth-century men and women "familiar" by endowing them and their families with the emotions we prefer to universalize; nor should we try to equate their politics with politics we understand.
Parkman and Cooper
He and Cooper had numbers of traits in common. Both despised commerce and business men, industrialism and all its works and Americans who swore by Europe and disparaged their country. They were alike in their pride, their courage and their wilfulness and in their contempt for every kind of ism.
Friday, July 17, 2015
Essential to the Happiness of a Newly Married Couple
Life without a pig was almost unthinkable. To have a sty in the garden, or, as often, abutting on the cottage, was held to be as essential to the happiness of a newly married couple as as a living room or a bedroom.
But at this point I should like to record an experience that I had more than forty years ago, when I was working on the Oxford Latin Dictionary.Oxford Latin Dictionary, s.v. ineptus, sense 2:
It fell to me to prepare the first draft of the article on ineptus, a fairly straightforward word applied to persons or their actions and roughly corresponding to English foolish. However, there was one passage which did not fit this meaning, the famous poem of Catullus (17) which begins:
O colonia quae cupis ponte ludere longoThe omission of any punctuation is deliberate. Inepta is interpreted by virtually all dictionaries and commentaries as meaning badly fitted together, which is the expected 'etymological' sense; as the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae puts it, 'i.q. male aptus.' But here my principle came into effect; why are there no other examples of this meaning? Could it have any other sense here? The answer is that so long as inepta is associated with crura in the next line, this must be the meaning. However, I observed that there was an idiom in which ineptus was closely associated with a verb and in agreement with its subject, to describe the folly of the action indicated by the verb. A good example, although rather later in date, is from Persius, who states that freedom is not conferred by the wand waved by the lictor in the ceremony of manumission:
et salire paratum habes sed uereris inepta
crura ponticuli axulis stantis in rediuiuis
ne supinus eat ...
hic hic quod quaerimus, hic est,This does not mean 'in the wand waved by the fool of a lictor', but 'in the wand which the lictor, fool that he is, waves'. There are other examples of this idiom. Once this is appreciated, we can see that it will fit very neatly in Catullus too; inepta is not accusative plural neuter, but nominative singular feminine agreeing with colonia. Thus it means 'you are afraid, fool that you are, of the supports of the bridge'. I was very pleased with this discovery, and wrote it up in a note which I intended to send for publication to one of the periodicals. But before doing so, I took the precaution of showing it to a few Latinists of my acquaintance, and was shocked to find that they all rejected it out of hand. They had been reading Catullus for years, and they knew that he used the word in this out-of-date sense. I, as a young and unknown lexicographer, could not possibly know better than the distinguished line of commentators who had long ago decided the correct interpretation.
non in festuca, lictor quam iactat ineptus.
(app. after the primary meaning of aptus) Not well joined, loose.C.J. Fordyce (1901-1974), Catullus: A Commentary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1961; rpt. 1990), p. 141 (on 17.2):
o Colonia quae cupis ponte ludere longo..sed uereris ~a crura ponticuli axulis stantis in rediuiuis CATUL. 17.2.
inepta: 'ill-fitting', the opposite of aptus in its literal sense of 'well-fitted' (in which it is opposed to solutus, 'loose', in Cic. Orat. 228); the word is not so used elsewhere.
Thursday, July 16, 2015
An Animated Corpse
And now all has been let go; for when a man's pleasures have abandoned him, I do not consider him a living being, but an animated corpse. Enjoy great wealth in your house, if you will, and live in royal style; but if you take no delight in these things, I would not purchase all the rest for the shadow of smoke, compared with pleasure.
καὶ νῦν ἀφεῖται πάντα. καὶ γὰρ ἡδοναὶ 1165
ὅταν προδῶσιν ἀνδρός, οὐ τίθημ᾿ ἐγὼ
ζῆν τοῦτον, ἀλλ᾿ ἔμψυχον ἡγοῦμαι νεκρόν.
πλούτει τε γὰρ κατ᾿ οἶκον, εἰ βούλῃ, μέγα,
καὶ ζῆ τύραννον σχῆμ᾿ ἔχων, ἐὰν δ᾿ ἀπῇ
τούτων τὸ χαίρειν, τἄλλ᾿ ἐγὼ καπνοῦ σκιᾶς 1170
οὐκ ἂν πριαίμην ἀνδρὶ πρὸς τὴν ἡδονήν.
1165 καὶ γὰρ ἡδοναὶ Seyffert: τὰς γὰρ ἡδονὰς codd.
1166 ἀνδρός] ἄνδρας Zot: ἄνδρα Eustathius
I always find spiritual nourishment in the beautiful past and I do not long for things that might be inferior to that.
Trovo sempre cibo spirituale nel passato bello e non anelo a cose che sarebbero inferiori a quello.
An Exacting, Lonely Activity
Indeed it is only the spirit of relative distantiation from daily life and its technical fight for self-assertion which will breed the humanistic scholar. For him the act of understanding (understanding types of man different from himself, understanding other nationalities, civilizations, or personalities) is all-important: but understanding requires undeflected attention and undivided loyalty, it is an exacting, lonely activity impossible of attainment for a person engulfed in the ocean of triviality that surrounds him in contemporary daily life. The humanist should live among his fellow-men and not lose contact with them because otherwise he would no longer be humane—but he should live somewhat removed from them.Id. (at 45):
I believe indeed that the requirement of publications on the part of every college teacher—imagine as a parallel that all members of American orchestras were required to be composers!—does great harm to true scholarship....The artificial enforcement of such inflationary, hybrid productivity in small articles or miscellanea was, of course, encouraged by the positivistic belief, imported from the Germany of the 1870's, according to which any small stone of truth was thought to contribute to the vast building that would be erected in some utopian future—but this trend in itself has in practice not led to any vast construction, it has only disorganized and fragmentarized the humanities and reduced them to what the Germans themselves now call Anmerkungswissenschaft, footnote-scholarship.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
He told me aged 25 that I must write nothing until 40 for I would not know enough. Sound advice and true but I should be a schoolteacher today had I followed it.Hugh Lloyd-Jones, "T.C.W. Stinton," Gnomon 59 (1987) 82-83 (at 83):
Stinton published virtually nothing before reaching the age of forty, but after that his learned labour bore fruit in a series of articles which every scholar interested in Greek tragedy must consult.
A Troublesome Vexer of the Dead
Is one that has spelled over a great many books, and his observation is the orthography. He is the surgeon of old authors, and heals the wounds of dust and ignorance. He converses much in fragments and desunt multa's, and if he piece it up with two lines he is more proud of that book than the author. He runs over all sciences to peruse their syntaxis, and thinks all learning comprised in writing Latin. He tastes stiles as some discreeter palates do wine; and tells you which is genuine, which sophisticate and bastard. His own phrase is a miscellany of old words, deceased long before the Caesars, and entombed by Varro, and the modernest man he follows is Plautus. He writes omneis at length, and quicquid, and his gerund is most inconformable. He is a troublesome vexer of the dead, which after so long sparing must rise up to the judgment of his castigations. He is one that makes all books sell dearer, whilst he swells them into folios with his comments.
But all events are mixed in a fusion indistinguishable. What we call Fate is even, heartless, and impartial; not a fiend to kindle bigot flames, nor a philanthropist to espouse the cause of Greece. We may fret, fume, and fight; but the thing called Fate everlastingly sustains an armed neutrality.
Yet though all this be so, nevertheless, in our own hearts, we mould the whole world's hereafters; and in our own hearts we fashion our own gods. Each mortal casts his vote for whom he will to rule the worlds; I have a voice that helps to shape eternity; and my volitions stir the orbits of the furthest suns. In two senses, we are precisely what we worship. Ourselves are Fate.
Monday, July 13, 2015
Under Burr's instruction, she had read Plautus and Terence at nine and was well advanced in her Greek grammar, while she spoke her modern languages without an accent, and he set for her two hundred lines of Homer every day and four and sometimes nine pages of Lucian. Reading her Quintilian, she was to take the utmost care never to miss the meaning of a word or a sentence....
As Methuselah, I inhabit an increasingly discomforting world of irrecoverable words, names forgotten, faces unrecognised in the blur of prosopagnosia, and the unconscious confusion of banana for umbrella and night storage heater for the microwave. My spine crumbles, my hips creak, and like most men of my age I have had the dreaded slippery finger of the urologist probing my prostate gland, with the accompanying threats of impotence and incontinence, the twin calamities that most men fear more than any other — though the onset of dementia terrifies me more. I have lost count of my days in hospital in recent years dealing with ischaemic heart disease, vasovagal syncope, uncontrollable drops in blood pressure already very low, the insertion of stents and pace-makers, the surgery of two mastectomies and efforts to remedy a corkscrewing spine, my trunk an old bag of scars and stitches, yet not one of these and their consequences, not even the possibility of sudden death, has seemed as wretched a malfunction as a leaking bladder and the abrupt reduction of one's penis to, as Eric Gill put it, a mere 'organ of drainage'. Drugs keep both in abeyance.Hat tip: Eric Thomson.
Who, young, girl or boy, would willingly conjugate with so patched and tattered an old man? Yet old men lust after the young, not once a week or once a day or hourly, but in response, if one is out and about, to almost constant stimulus. It is the young skin that does it; the conventions of beauty are a bonus, and all the old triggers of hair and eyes and lips are there, but when the skin of the young is ﬂawless, it is what most makes the ﬁngers reach, as though aching to caress. All the cosmetics of Paris and New York, all the nips and tucks, seams and gussets of plastic surgery, all the perfumes of the Arabian civet cat, all these together are no match for a skin poised in late adolescence or early adulthood. Inside his own skin, rough and wrinkled, pallid with approaching death, the old man feels the same sensual sensations as the young, but he may not touch. It is a terrible predicament. We laugh with sympathy at an old dog's sudden jauntiness when he sniffs a bitch in heat, but old men we mock, and despise as trull or catamite any submissive object of desire.
And that is age, old age — an age of indecision, disability, an age of shrunken shanks and shuffling pace, of grasp too feeble on the lid of marmalade, of eyes that sooner or later will not see and ears that will not hear, of padded underpants (not yet) and of a heart that from time to time palpitates like the single-cylinder diesel engine of a Turkish ﬁshing boat.
The Mobility and the Nobility
The Mobility are a variety of the human race, otherwise designated, in polite society, as "The Lower Orders," "The Inferior Classes," "The Rabble," "The Populace," "The Vulgar," or "The Common People." Among political philosophers, and promulgators of Useful Knowledge, they are known as "The People," "The Many," "The Masses," "The Millions." By persons of less refinement, they are termed "The Riff-raff,” and "The Tag-rag-and-bobtail."Id. pp. 3-4:
The difference between the words Mobility and Nobility is merely a letter. So, between individuals belonging to the two classes, a single letter may constitute a distinction. There are some names peculiar to the Nobility, and some to the Mobility. Jenkins, for example, is one of the names of the Mobility, but it assumes an aristocratic character by being spelt Jenkyns. The addition of a letter, or the addition of one and the alteration of another, is sometimes necessary to effect this change. Thus, Brown and Smith are ennobled by being converted into Browne and Smythe. Persons who have acquired their property by dealing in cheese and so forth, are, some of them, aware of this fact, and hence it is that the butterfly state of a sugar-baker is often denoted by such a transformation, and that Gubbynses and Chubbes enrich the aristocracy of Tooting. Castlemaine, Mortimer, Percy, Howard, Stanley, Vere and Conyers, are well known as being among the names of the Nobility. In like manner, Tupp, Snooks, Pouch, Wiggins, Blogg, Scroggins, and Hogg, are names characteristic of the Mobility. Dobson, Jobson, and Timson, are appellations of the same order. How shocking it would be to impose any one of them on the hero of a fashionable novel! Johnson may now, perhaps, be tolerated; but we think Johnstone decidedly preferable.Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), "The Function of Criticism at the Present Time," Essays in Criticism (London: Macmillan and Co., 1893), pp 1-41 (at 23-24):
The names which the Mobility derive from their sponsors may be Christian names; but some of them are, nevertheless, very shocking. No refined grammarian could venture to call them proper names; and to dream of disgracing a scutcheon by them would horrify any one but a savage. The mind shrinks, so to speak, at the bare idea of such an association of names as Ebenezer Arlington, Jonathan Tollemache, Moses Montague, Jacob Manners, or Timothy Craven. An attempt to emulate the higher ranks in the choice of Christian names is sometimes made by the Mobility, but their selection is chiefly confined to the theatrical or romantic species; as Oscar Pugsley, Wilhelmina Briggs, Orlando Bung, and the like. The Mobility, moreover, have seldom more than two names; though some of them, under peculiar circumstances, assume several, pro tempore, with the intervention of an alias. They very generally, too, neglect a practice universally adopted in the exclusive circles, of christening a child by a surname. It is to be wished that they would adopt this custom, for such combinations as Brown Green, Tubb Waters, White Smith, or Bull Bates, would certainly be highly amusing.
The Mobility are also in the habit of using abbreviations in addressing each other, as Jim, Bill, Dick, &c.; an eccentricity which, we are sorry to say, has proved contagious.
Wragg! If we are to talk of ideal perfection, of "the best in the whole world," has anyone reflected what a touch of grossness in our race, what an original shortcoming in the more delicate spiritual perceptions, is shown by the natural growth amongst us of such hideous names,—Higginbottom, Stiggins, Bugg! In Ionia and Attica they were luckier in this respect than "the best race in the world;" by the Ilissus there was no Wragg, poor thing!
Sunday, July 12, 2015
Only Three Months?
To get enough Greek to read Homer with some sort of understanding is going to take you anything up to three months...
Hymn to Night
Dark Night, great Minister of Love, how faithfullyStirling's translation is too free for my taste. He sacrifices accuracy in an attempt to reproduce the rhyme and rhythm of the original. In one departure from the French, he compares the beloved's breasts to red rubies, instead of to white ivory. Here is my own tentative, rough version of Ronsard's Hymn to Night:
Observest thou her laws and every high decree!
Thou goest quietly
With each impatient lover at the familiar hour:
Oh darling of the Gods, in whose celestial bower, 5
The stars do love but thee!
The excellence of thy gifts to Nature is most rare;
Delights thou dost conceal within a silent air,
Which true love doth enjoy,
When thy dark mantle falls about the quiet land; 10
And lovers lip to lip, and lovers hand in hand
On fire, are mute and coy.
And when the fingers feel for naked thigh or breast
(Whose rounded colouring of all gems is the best,
Richer than ruby seen); 15
And when the gentle tongue to cheek and forehead strays,
Reaping in one long kiss more fragrance as it plays
Than in the East has been;
'Tis thou who watchest them, and all the torturing care,
And all the woes and griefs that beset us everywhere 20
By thy gift are torn out.
'Tis thou who givest life to flowers and orchard trees,
And to the gardens dew, and to the skies great ease
By hanging stars about.
If it shall please thee, goddess, of my pain make an end: 25
And bring within my arms her who too oft doth send
Threats of grave cruelty;
So that her scornful eyes (which hold me captive yet)
Never again sear deep. So may I quite forget
Her lovely enmity. 30
Night, overseer of love affairs, loyal bailiff of Venus' courts and her holy laws, confidential companion of the impatient lover at his rendezvous, beloved by the gods, yet even more beloved by your attendant stars—The French, from Pierre de Ronsard, Oeuvres complètes, II: Odes et Bocage de 1550, précédés des Premières poésies, 1547-1549, Tome II, ed. Paul Laumonier (Paris: Librarie Hachette et Cie, 1914), pp. 21-22:
Nature admires the excellence of your gifts. You conceal under discreet silence the pleasures that ecstatic love gives, when your dark corners unite entwined lovers and they sink down together under enervating passion,
while the loving hand steals now over thigh, now over breasts that surpass any ivory ever seen, and the tongue, straying over cheek and face, gathers more perfumes and flowers, growing there, than the Orient exports.
It is you, by your divine presence, who take away worries, troubles that gnaw, and cares buried in passionate hearts. It is you who restore life to drooping orchards, roses to gardens, and constellations to darkening skies.
Please, goddess, put an end to my pain, and in my embrace tame her who is so full of cruel threats, so that the too bright torches of her eyes (eyes that hold me in thrall) no longer cause my innermost parts to burn.
Nuit, des amours ministre, & sergente fideleRonsard's poem is a free paraphrase of a hymn to night by Giovanni Gioviano Pontano (1426-1503). Carol Maddison, Apollo and the Nine: A History of the Ode (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1960), pp. 60-61, translates all of Pontano's hymn except the fifth stanza (lines 17-20), which I have supplied below:
Des arrests de Venus, & des saintes lois d'elle,
Qui secrète accompaignes
L'impatient ami de l'heure accoutumée,
O l'aimée des Dieus, mais plus encore aimée 5
Des étoiles compagnes,
Nature de tes dons adore l'excellence,
Tu caches les plaisirs dessous muet silence
Que l'amour jouissante
Donne, quand ton obscur étroitement assemble 10
Les amans embrassés, & qu'ils tombent ensemble
Sous l'ardeur languissante.
Lors que l'amie main court par la cuisse, & ores
Par les tetins, ausquels ne s'acompare encores
Nul ivoire qu'on voie, 15
Et la langue en errant sur la joüe, & la face,
Plus d'odeurs, et de fleurs, là naissantes, amasse
Que l'Orient n'envoie.
C'est toi qui les soucis, & les gennes mordantes,
Et tout le soin enclos en nos ames ardantes 20
Par ton présent arraches.
C'est toi qui rends la vie aux vergiers qui languissent,
Aux jardins la rousée, et aux cieus qui noircissent
Les idoles attaches.
Mai, si te plaist déesse une fin à ma peine, 25
Et donte sous mes braz celle qui est tant pleine
De menasses cruelles,
Affin que de ses yeus (yeus qui captif me tiennent)
Les trop ardens flambeaus plus bruler ne me viennent
Le fond de mes mouelles. 30
Night, privy to love, you who leadThe Latin, from Giovanni Gioviano Pontano, "Hymnus in Noctem," Carmina, ed. Benedetto Soldati, Vol. II: Ecloghe—Elegie—Liriche (Firenze: G. Barbèra, 1902), pp. 65-66:
The desired maid to the passionate youth,
Cherished by the mighty gods, and enamoured, sweet night,
Of the moon's caress,
Whom alone both Genius and Hymen worship, 5
And Venus joying in her son,
When fiercely he sharpens his fatal darts,
And bends his bow.
O companion and handmaid of pleasure,
What joys in your bosom for the marriage bed and the couch! 10
What temptations sleep brings, and merriment,
Which lovers find, plunged in one another's arms,
Midst embraces and hasty whispers,
Midst playfulness and yielding struggles, 15
When passion is flame,
When lovers dart tongues to and fro, steal
Perfumed breath from protesting mouths,
And collapse together in coordinated climax after
Delicious desire has been sated. 20
You alone bring repose to the world and to men,
You lift heavy cares and bitterness
From the tired mind, and you refresh the breast
With kindly sleep.
You return to the world, your brow bound 25
With garlands of stars, and you restore the banks of violets,
Drenching them with welcome dew. You load
The field with crops.
Grant my prayers, mighty goddess,
And what I desire may I be permitted to possess, 30
Lest the dark flame burning within
Devour my heart.
Nox amoris conscia, quae furenti
Ducis optatam iuveni puellam,
Grata dis magnis et amica blandae,
Nox bona, lunae,
Quam colunt unam Geniusque Hymenque 5
Et suo gaudens Erycina nato,
Cum ferus diras acuit sagittas.
Tendit et arcum;
O voluptatis comes et ministra,
Quae bona ex te fert thalamus torusque, 10
Quas sopor fert illecebras iocosque
Quas simul iuncti faciunt amantes
Inter amplexus trepidumque murmur,
Inter et ludos tencrasque rixas, 15
Dum furit ardor,
Dum micant linguis, animaeque florem
Ore deducunt querulo, parique
Concidunt motu, resoluta postquam
Grata libido est. 20
Tu quies rerum hominumque sola,
Tu graves curas et amara fessae
Amoves menti, et refoves benigno
Tu redis mundo redimita frontem 25
Siderum sertis, reficisque grato
Rore perfundens violaria, agros
Da meis finem, dea magna, votis,
Et quod optamus, liceat potiri, 30
Ne voret tristis penitus calentes
Saturday, July 11, 2015
Ye Must Be Born Again
The ideas of this people are not our ideas; their sentiments are not our sentiments; their ethical life represents for us regions of thought and emotion yet unexplored, or perhaps long forgotten. Any one of their ordinary phrases, translated into Western speech, makes hopeless nonsense; and the literal rendering into Japanese of the simplest English sentence would scarcely be comprehended by any Japanese who had never studied a European tongue. Could you learn all the words in a Japanese dictionary, your acquisition would not help you in the least to make yourself understood in speaking, unless you had learned also to think like a Japanese,—that is to say, to think backwards, to think upside-down and inside-out, to think in directions totally foreign to Aryan habit. Experience in the acquisition of European languages can help you to learn Japanese about as much as it could help you to acquire the language spoken by the inhabitants of Mars. To be able to use the Japanese tongue as a Japanese uses it, one would need to be born again, and to have one's mind completely reconstructed, from the foundations upwards.
Friday, July 10, 2015
Carmina Latina Epigraphica 190 Buecheler
Come here, friends, let's enjoy a good time;The Latin, from Anthologia Latina sive Poesis Latinae Supplementum...Pars Posterior: Carmina Epigraphica conlegit Franciscus Buecheler, Fasciculus I (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1895), p. 92, with the editor's note and apparatus:
let's dine happily, drenched with wine,
while short life remains; let cheerful harmony prevail.
All these men did the same so long as they lived;
they gave, received, enjoyed themselves so long as they existed. 5
Let us, too, imitate the times of the men of old.
Live while you're alive, and don't at all refrain
From yielding to your passions, which are god's gift.
Adeste amici, fruamur tempus bonum,It's possible to construe quidquam (line 7) in a couple of ways. It could (as I've translated it) be adverbial with denegaueris—see Oxford Latin Dictionary, s.v. quisquam, sense 5. Or it could be the direct object of indulgere—see e.g. J.D. Lewis on Juvenal 2.139-140:
epulemur laeti, uita dum parua manet,
Baccho madentes, hilaris sit concordia.
eadem fecerunt hi cuncti dum uiuerent,
dederunt acceperunt, dum essent, fruniti sunt. 5
et nos antiquorum emitemur tempora.
uiue dum uiuis, nec quidquam denegaueris
animo indulgere, quem commodauit deus.
Garrucci in actis inst. arch. rom. 1861 p. 37 ex schedis quas possidere se narrat Zarattini Castellini Romae in tabula marmorea effossa ante portas. sensus a uolgo gentili non alieni, sed iambi insciti et summa uersus 6 recentiorum nugis quam antiquitati conuenientior, itaque diffidebam schedarum auctori
8 anime Garr., correxi
indulgere, with an accusative of the thing and a dative of the person, in the sense of to give, grant, allow, is very common in Juvenal and his contemporaries; but not in earlier writers, who use indulgere alicui or aliquem, but not aliquid alicui.With the second possibility, the translation would be "don't refrain from allowing your passions [indirect object] anything whatever [direct object]."
I toyed with the idea of reading quod (with antecedent quidquam) instead of quem (with antecedent animo) in the last line as the object of commodauit, but perhaps that would require the verb to be in the subjunctive mood.
Thanks very much to Eric Thomson for drawing the poem to my attention and for discussing it with me. I alone am responsible for any mistakes and infelicities. Here is Eric's version, composed while he was drenched with Amarguinha:
Draw near, friends, let's enjoy precious moments,
and dine with gusto, drenched with wine;
life's short, little remains; let mirth and harmony reign.
All these here did just that while still among us,
giving, receiving, enjoying themselves whilst they had life.
Let us live again the times of those who've gone before us.
Live the life that's still yours, and your passions — which are a gift from god —
Don't spurn a single one.
The Japanese have a word—sabi—that refers to any object that after many years has acquired a quality of what we might call "noble shabbiness." This noble shabbiness might be imagined as the weathering of a piece of furniture that has been worn smooth by use and age. Nothing you buy at the mall can possess sabi. Only those objects that have been worked and touched for a long time can have it. Sabi is found not in the beauty of youth but instead in the beauty of wear and tear, the beauty of something that has stood the test of time and is still standing in spite of everything. Sabi is the acquired soul of a created thing as it grows old.Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), "Von allen Werken," first stanza, from his Poems 1913-1956, ed. John Willett et al. (London: Methuen, 1976; rpt. 1987), p. 192:
Of all the works of man I like best
Those which have been used.
The copper pots with their dents and flattened edges
The knives and forks whose wooden handles
Have been worn away by many hands: such forms
Seemed to me the noblest. So too the flagstones round old houses
Trodden by many feet, ground down
And with tufts of grass growing between them: these
Are happy works.
Von allen Werken, die liebsten
Sind mir die gebrauchten.
Die Kupfergefässe mit den Beulen und den abgeplatteten Rändern
Die Messer und Gabeln, deren Holzgriffe
Abgegriffen sind von vielen Händen: solche Formen
Schienen mir die edelsten. So auch die Steinfliesen um alte Häuser
Welche niedergetreten sind von vielen Füssen, abgeschliffen
Und zwischen denen Grasbüschel wachsen, das
Sind glückliche Werke.
Thursday, July 09, 2015
Extravagant Fancies on Old Pagan Tombs
A man is sometimes surprised to find so many extravagant fancies as are cut on the old Pagan tombs. Masks, hunting matches, and bacchanals are very common; sometimes one meets with a lewd figure of a Priapus, and in the villa Pamphilia is seen a satyr coupling with a goat.Id. (at 488):
I saw in the church-yard of Bolsena an antique funeral monument (of that kind which they called a sarcophagus) very entire, and what is particular, engraven on all sides with a curious representation of a bacchanal. Had the inhabitants observed a couple of lewd figures at one end of it, they would not have thought it a proper ornament for the place where it now stands.
In our man-of-war, this semi-savage, wandering about the gun-deck in his barbaric robe, seemed a being from some other sphere. His tastes were our abominations: ours his. Our creed he rejected: his we. We thought him a loon: he fancied us fools. Had the case been reversed; had we been Polynesians and he an American, our mutual opinion of each other would still have remained the same. A fact proving that neither was wrong, but both right.
True, all experience teaches that, whenever there is a great national establishment, employing large numbers of officials, the public must be reconciled to support many incompetent men; for such is the favouritism and nepotism always prevailing in the purlieus of these establishments, that some incompetent persons are always admitted, to the exclusion of many of the worthy.
Wednesday, July 08, 2015
My heart leaps up when I behold
A Dative I can size up cold.
Next when I cast mine eyes and see
O, how that syntax taketh me.
Nature I loved and after nature Text.
In Genitives I found the Absolute.
In verbs I loved the sweet revealing Root.
This world has these; who cares about the next?
A book of verses underneath a bough,
A lexicon, a grammar and thou,
If silent, this were paradise enow.
When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before this brain has gleaned old Goodwin's hoard;
That I may die without the precious key
To treasures Athens gave that still are stored
In texts but may be closed to me;
When memory slips its cog so carelessly
That Middle melts to Active, then, O, Lord,
Myself I fling at forms voraciously
And sit a gorger at Dame Grammar's board,
Devouring verbs and nouns in gluttony
And drinking from the bowl in which is poured
The subtle syntax of antiquity.
Then eager for the poet's luscious word
I rise to read what Homer wrote for me.
Waxing and Waning of Piety
So great is the sudden piety of men in time of trouble; but altars seldom smoke in prosperous times.
tanta adeo, cum res trepidae, reverentia divum
nascitur; at rarae fumant felicibus arae.
Not even the son of Cronos, who ordains all things, has given mortals a fate free from pain; but as it were the revolving paths of the Bear bring to all suffering and joy in turn. For neither spangled Night nor spirits of death nor riches abide for mortals, but joy or loss at once is gone, and then comes back.Jebb on 129-130:
ἀνάλγητα γὰρ οὐδ᾿
ὁ πάντα κραίνων βασιλεὺς
ἐπέβαλε θνατοῖς Κρονίδας·
ἀλλ᾿ ἐπὶ πῆμα καὶ χαρὰν
πᾶσι κυκλοῦσιν οἷον Ἄρ- 130
κτου στροφάδες κέλευθοι.
μένει γὰρ οὔτ᾿ αἰόλα
νὺξ βροτοῖσιν οὔτε κῆ-
ρες οὔτε πλοῦτος, ἀλλ᾿ ἄφαρ
βέβακε, τῷ δ᾿ ἐπέρχεται
χαίρειν τε καὶ στέρεσθαι. 135
As the Great Bear moves ever round the pole, so joy and sorrow come round in unceasing rotation.Greek ἀνάλγητα (análgēta, line 126) and English analgesic (pain reliever) are related.
The adjective αἰόλος (aiólos), meaning changeful of hue, versicolor, occurs four times in the play, twice describing a serpent (lines 11, 834), twice describing night (lines 94, 131).
In lines 131-133 there is an example of triple correlative conjunctions (οὔτε). For more examples see:
- Both ... And
- Triple Correlative Conjunctions in Aristophanes
- More Triple Correlative Conjunctions
- Three Types of Blindness
- Triple Correlative Conjunctions in Alcman
Thinkst thou that man who dies,King Chronos! Admirers of Pound will say that this is intentional, creative translation (cf. χρόνος = time), not a howler. On the other hand Pound does translate βασιλεύς, which Lloyd-Jones does not. The king who ordains all things, the son of Kronos, is of course Zeus.
Shall from King Chronos take
Nor yet's all pain.
The shifty Night delays not,
Nor fates of men, nor yet rich goods and spoil.
Be swift to enjoy, what thou art swift to lose.
Tuesday, July 07, 2015
The Origin of Falernian Wine
In the good old days before swords were known, Falernus, a man in years, used to plough the high ground of Mount Massicus. Then the fields were bare, and no vine-plant wove a green shade for the clusters; nor did men know how to mellow their draught with the juice of Lyaeus, but were wont to slake their thirst with the pure water of a spring.For "which no blood defiled" (an accurate translation of 7.183), the digital Loeb Classical Library has introduced an error: "which no blood denied".
Massica sulcabat meliore Falernus in aevo,
ensibus ignotis, senior iuga. pampinus umbras
nondum uvae virides nudo texebat in arvo,
pocula nec norant sucis mulcere Lyaei.
fonte sitim et pura soliti defendere lympha. 170
But when Lyaeus was on his way to the shore of Calpe and the setting sun, a lucky foot and a lucky hour brought him hither as a guest; nor did the god disdain to enter the cottage and pass beneath its humble roof.
attulit hospitio pergentem ad litora Calpes
extremumque diem pes dexter et hora Lyaeum,
nec pigitum parvosque lares humilisque subire
limina caelicolam tecti:
The smoke-grimed door welcomed a willing guest; the meal was set, in the fashion of that simple age, in front of the hearth; nor was the happy host aware that he entertained a god; but, as his fathers used to do, he ran hither and thither with kindly zeal, tasking his failing strength. At last the feast was set—fruit in clean baskets, and dainties dripping dew which he hastened to cull from his well-watered garden. Then he adorned the toothsome meal with milk and honeycomb, and heaped the gifts of Ceres on a chaste board which no blood defiled. And from each dish he first plucked a portion in honour of Vesta, and threw what he had plucked into the centre of the fire.
fumosi postes et ritu pauperis aevi 175
ante focos mensae; laetus nec senserat hospes
advenisse deum; sed enim de more parentum
grato cursabat studio instabatque senectae,
donec opes festas puris nunc poma canistris
composuit, nunc irriguis citus extulit hortis 180
rorantes humore dapes. tum lacte favisque
distinxit dulces epulas nulloque cruore
polluta castus mensa cerealia dona
attulit, ac primum Vestae detersit honorem
undique et in mediam iecit libamina flammam. 185
Pleased by the old man’s willing service, Bacchus decreed that his liquor should not be lacking. Suddenly a miracle was seen: to pay the poor man for his hospitality, the beechen cups foamed with the juice of the grape; a common milk-pail ran red with wine; and the sweet moisture of fragrant clusters sweated in the hollow oaken bowl. "Take my gift," said Bacchus; "as yet it is strange to you, but hereafter it will spread abroad the name of Falernus, the vine-dresser";
deesse tuos latices, hac sedulitate senili
captus, Iacche, vetas. subito, mirabile dictu,
fagina pampineo spumarunt pocula suco,
pauperis hospitii pretium; vilisque rubenti
fluxit mulctra mero, et quercu in cratera cavata 190
dulcis odoratis humor sudavit ab uvis.
"en cape," Bacchus ait, "nondum tibi nota, sed olim
viticolae nomen pervulgatura Falerni
and the god was no longer disguised. Straightway ivy crowned his brows that glowed and flushed; his locks flowed down over his shoulders; a beaker hung down from his right hand; and a vine-plant, falling from his green thyrsus, clothed the festive board with the leaves of Nysa.
—et haud ultra latuit deus. inde nitentem
lumine purpureo frontem cinxere corymbi, 195
et fusae per colla comae, dextraque pependit
cantharus, ac vitis, thyrso delapsa virenti,
festas Nysaeo redimivit palmite mensas.
Falernus found it hard to strive against the cheerful draught: when he had drunk once again of the cup, his stammering tongue and staggering feet roused mirth. With splitting head he tried, though he could not speak plain, to render thanks and praise to Father Lyaeus; and at last Sleep, who goes ever in the train of Bacchus, closed his reluctant eyes.
nec facilis laeto certasse, Falerne, sapori,
postquam iterata tibi sunt pocula, iam pede risum, 200
iam lingua titubante moves, patrique Lyaeo
tempora quassatus grates et praemia digna
vix intellectis conaris reddere verbis,
donec composuit luctantia lumina Somnus,
Somnus, Bacche, tibi comes additus. 205
And when the sun rose and the hoofs of Phaethon’s horses dispelled the dews, all Mount Massicus was green with vine-bearing fields, and marvelled at the leafage and the bunches shining in the sunlight. The fame of the mountain grew, and from that day fertile Tmolus and the nectar of Ariusia and the strong wine of Methymna have all yielded precedence to the vats of Falernus.
hic ubi primo 205
ungula dispersit rores Phaëthontia Phoebo,
uviferis late florebat Massicus arvis,
miratus nemora et lucentes sole racemos.
it monti decus, atque ex illo tempore dives
Tmolus et ambrosiis Ariusia pocula sucis 210
ac Methymna ferox lacubus cessere Falernis.
The story (probably made up by Silius) has a certain charm and recalls Ovid's tale of Baucis and Philemon in the Metamorphoses. For analysis see D.W.T.C. Vessey, "The Myth of Falernus in Silius, Punica 7," Classical Journal 68.3 (February-March, 1973) 240-246.
Labels: typographical and other errors
Monday, July 06, 2015
Lazy and Extravagant
For who of our people cultivates a farm without keeping swine? and who has not heard that our fathers called him lazy and extravagant who hung in his larder a flitch of bacon which he had purchased from the butcher rather than got from his own farm?
quis enim fundum colit nostrum, quin sues habeat, et qui non audierit patres nostros dicere ignavum et sumptuosum esse, qui succidiam in carnario suspenderit potius ab laniario quam e domestico fundo?
The Few and the Many
Think not that mankind liveth but for a few; and that the rest are born but to serve those ambitions, which make but flies of men and wildernesses of whole nations.
Pleasurable Sights and Sounds
It would be advisable for any man, who from an unlucky choice of a profession, which it is too late to change for another, should find his temper souring, to endeavour to counteract that misfortune, by filling his private chamber with amiable, pleasurable sights and sounds. In summer time, an Aeolian harp can be placed in your window at a very trifling expense; a conch-shell might stand on your mantel, to be taken up and held to the ear, that you may be soothed by its continual lulling sound, when you feel the blue fit stealing over you. For sights, a gay-painted punch-bowl, or Dutch tankard—never mind about filling it—might be recommended. It should be placed on a bracket in the pier. Nor is an old-fashioned silver ladle, nor a chased dinner-castor, nor a fine portly demijohn, nor anything, indeed, that savors of eating and drinking, bad to drive off the spleen. But perhaps the best of all is a shelf of merrily-bound books, containing comedies, farces, songs, and humorous novels. You need never open them; only have the titles in plain sight. For this purpose, Peregrine Pickle is a good book; so is Gil Blas; so is Goldsmith.
Sunday, July 05, 2015
Almost all men are slaves, for the reason the Spartans gave to explain the servitude of the Persians, the inability to pronounce the syllable "No." Knowing how to pronounce this word and knowing how to live by oneself are the only two ways to preserve one's freedom and individuality.
Presque tous les hommes sont esclaves par la raison que les Spartiates donnaient de la servitude des Perses, faute de savoir prononcer la syllabe non. Savoir prononcer ce mot et savoir vivre seul sont les deux seuls moyens de conserver sa liberté et son caractère.
Incitement to Joy
Who would plague himself with caresBoileau provides very useful notes on pp. 63-68. I like this old German textbook much more than many modern ones. Other editions of the poem have "An finstrer Schwermuth Altar knien" (line 4); "Noch schmecket, in der Abendlaube, / Der Kuss auf einen rothen Mund" (lines 15-16); "Dem Jüngling süsse Fühlung zu" (line 22); and "wenn" (lines 8, 19).
as long as spring and youth are blooming?
Who would, in the heydays of youth,
gather his forehead in frowning folds?
Wer wollte sich mit Grillen plagen,
So lang uns Lenz und Jugend blühn?
Wer wollt' in seinen Blütentagen
Die Stirn in düstre Falten ziehn?
Joy beckons us on all the paths 5
which lead through this pilgrimage below;
it is joy itself that offers us the garland
when we stand at a cross-road.
Die Freude winkt auf allen Wegen 5
Die durch dies Pilgerleben gehn;
Sie bringt uns selbst den Kranz entgegen
Wann wir am Scheidewege stehn.
Still does the meadow fountain bubble and flow;
still is the arbour cool and green; 10
still shines the lovely moon as bright
as she shone through Adam's trees (in Paradise.)
Noch rinnt und rauscht die Wiesenquelle;
Noch ist die Laube kühl und grün; 10
Noch scheint der liebe Mond so helle
Wie er durch Adams Bäume schien.
Still does the juice of the purple grape
assuage the smarting heart of man;
still does the kiss of true affection 15
delight us in the evening bower.
Noch macht der Saft der Purpurtraube
Des Menschen krankes Herz gesund.
Noch labt uns in der Abendlaube, 15
Ein Kuss auf treuer Freundin Mund.
Still does the grove, peopled with nightingales,
bring raptures to the breast of youth;
still, when the echoes repeat their warblings,
calmness returns to throbbing hearts. 20
Noch tönt der Busch voll Nachtigallen,
Dem Jüngling hohe Wonne zu;
Noch strömt, wann ihre Lieder schallen,
Selbst in zerrissne Seelen Ruh. 20
How admirable are the works of creation!
what joys we taste on our earth!
I will rejoice in its beauties
until I turn to dust and ashes.
O wunderschön ist Gottes Erde
Und werth darauf vergnügt zu seyn;
Drum will ich, bis ich Asche werde,
Mich dieser schönen Erde freun.
Saturday, July 04, 2015
The Tongue is a Fire
And the tongue is a fire...Mary Beard, Pompeii (London: Profile Books, 2008), p. 2:
Where is the Poetry?
From the ancestry of Aelius Lamia to dry faggots and a sucking pig! What is the point? and where is the poetry?An example of Campbell's own verse, the last stanza of "Three Witches," Poems (Cambridge: W. Heffer & Sons Ltd., 1912), p. 13:
One thing can make my belly thump,By the way, anyone who reads Campbell's poem "Nymphomania" (id., p. 7) in hopes of titillation, as I did, will be disappointed.
One fascination terrifies me:
Suddenly, from a ferny clump,
The rabbit eyes me.