Sunday, January 01, 2017



Erasmus, Adagia I x 90, in Collected Works of Erasmus, Vol. 32: Adages I vi 1 to I x 100, translated and annotated by R.A.B. Mynors (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1974), p. 276, with notes on p. 387:
Podex lotionem vincit
The arse beats all efforts to wash it

Πρωκτὸς λουτροῦ περιγίνῃ, You are an arse that beats all efforts at washing. Callistratus, quoted by the scholiast on Aristophanes, refers this adage to those who get themselves into some sort of trouble, because that part of the body, however much it's washed, dirties itself afresh, so that it is itself to blame if it cannot be washed clean. It will also fit when we wish to convey that some action is fruitless, such as paying for a criminal's release from gaol who immediately repeats the offence and hurries back there again, or trying to reconcile two people who will soon relapse into their ancient quarrel, or correct someone by nature incorrigible, a woman for instance. It will also suit those who get their own way through their own bad qualities, a pupil for instance of such bad character that his tutor gives up trying to improve him. They think the adage seems to derive from people of loose bowels, whom Nonius1 calls forioli. Aristophanes2 in the Wasps: 'An arse that beats all efforts at washing.' In the same way a disease is said to beat the art of the physician when it is incurable. You will find3 in ancient sources that there was a public custom, after voiding the bowels, of washing that part of the body, though this had to be often repeated. Martial4 records among the pretty tricks of Issa, a lapdog, that after relieving herself she would ask to be washed. We read5 also of a barbarian so unwilling to endure slavery that he committed suicide by forcing down his throat the stick with a sponge attached to it which was provided for wiping the arse.

1 Nonius] p. 114; added in 1515
2 Aristophanes] Wasps 604, the play was identified in 1523
3 You will find] From here to the end was added in 1533
4 Martial] 1.109.13; but in a correct text the lapdog asks not to be washed but to be picked up (levari, not lavari)
5 We read] Seneca Letters 70.20 tells a terrible story of a German who was due to fight with wild beasts in the arena, and retired to the latrine, 'the only place where he could not be narrowly observed,' and thus put an end to his own life.
The Latin:
Podex lotionem vincit

Πρωκτὸς λουτροῦ περιγίνῃ, id est Podex lotionem vincis. Callistratus apud Aristophanis interpretem adagium hoc retulit ad eos, qui sese in malum aliquod adigunt, propterea quod ea corporis pars, etiam si lavetur, semet rursum inquinat, ita ut ipsa sit in causa, quo minus lavari possit. Quadrabit etiam, ubi quid frustra fieri significabimus, veluti si quis nocentem e carcere redimat atque ille mox iterato commisso semet eodem praecipitet. Aut si quos reconcilies mox in pristinam relapsuros simultatem aut castiges incorrigibile ingenium, quod genus est mulierum. Conveniet et in illos, qui suo ipsius vincunt malo. Veluti si quis morum intractabilitate obtineat, ne posthac objurgetur a praeceptore. Putant adagium videri sumptum ab iis potissimum, qui cita sunt alvo, quos Nonius foriolos appellat. Aristophanes in Vespis: Πρωκτὸς λουτροῦ περιγενόμενος, id est Podex pervincens loturam. Itidem et morbus dicitur vincere artem curamve medici, cum est immedicabilis. Ex veterum monumentis deprehendes fuisse morem publicum, ut post exoneratam alvum adhiberetur ejus partis lotio, quae tamen subinde erat repetenda. Martialis inter Issae catellae laudes commemorat, quod post depositum ventris onus rogaret lavari. Legimus et barbarum quendam servitutis impatientem ligno, cui spongia erat addita tergendo podici, in gulam adactam sibi conscivisse necem.


<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?