Saturday, May 28, 2016


Libertines versus Ascetics

Jerome, Letters 45.5 (to Asella), tr. F.A. Wright, Select Letters of St. Jerome, with an English Translation (London: William Heinemann Ltd, 1933 = Loeb Classical Library, 262), p. 185:
It is your pleasure to take a bath everyday; another man thinks such refinement rubbish. You belch after a meal of wild duck and boast of the sturgeon you devour; I fill my belly with beans. You take delight in troops of jesters; Paula and Melanium prefer those who weep. You want other people's goods; they despise their own. You like wine flavoured with honey; they have a sweeter drink, cold water. You consider that you are losing all that you have not at once drained dry, gobbled up, and devoured; they believe that the Scriptures are true and fix their desires on what is to come. Well, they are foolish old women to be persuaded of the resurrection of the body! But what is that to you? We for our part are not satisfied with your mode of life. Fatten yourself to your heart's content: I prefer a lean body and a pale face. You think people like us miserable: we regard you as more miserable still. Our opinion of you is like your opinion of us, and each in turn thinks the other insane.

tibi placet lavare cotidie, alius has munditias sordes putat; tu attagenam ructuas et de comeso acipensere gloriaris, ego faba ventrem inpleo; te delectant cachinnantium greges, Paulam Melaniumque plangentium; tu aliena desideras, illae contemnunt sua; te delibuta melle vina delectant, illae potant aquam frigidam suaviorem; tu te perdere aestimas, quidquid in praesenti non hauseris, comederis, devoraris, et illae futura desiderant et credunt vera esse, quae scripta sunt. esto: inepte et aniliter, quibus resurrectio persuasit corporum; quid ad te? nobis e contrario tua vita displicet. bono tuo crassus sis, me macies delectat et pallor; tu tales miseros arbitraris, nos te miseriorem putamus. par pari refertur sententia: invicem nobis videmur insani.
I've taken the Latin text from S. Eusebii Hieronymi Opera (Sect. I Pars I). Epistularum Pars I: Epistulae I-LXX, ed. Isidor Hilberg (Vienna: F. Tempsky, 1910 = Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum, LIV), pp. 326-327, although I've changed Hilberg's consonantal u's to v's. Wright's Latin text (p. 184) omits par pari refertur sententia, although he translates it ("Our opinion of you is like your opinion of us"). Here is an image of Wright's Latin text (screen shot from Internet Archive):

The omission persists in the Digital Loeb Classical Library.


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