Saturday, September 30, 2017
Prayer to Zeus
O Zeus, since you are called father and wise god,1444 σπουδῇ σύναψαι = with haste assist (us).
look on us and rescue us from trouble.
As we pull our misfortunes up the steep cliff,
help us with your good will! If you touch us with just the tip of your finger,
we will arrive at the good fortune we desire.
ὦ Ζεῦ, πατήρ τε καὶ σοφὸς κλῄζῃ θεός,
βλέψον πρὸς ἡμᾶς καὶ μετάστησον κακῶν.
ἕλκουσι δ᾿ ἡμῖν πρὸς λέπας τὰς συμφορὰς
σπουδῇ σύναψαι· κἂν ἄκρᾳ θίγῃς χερί,
ἥξομεν ἵν᾿ ἐλθεῖν βουλόμεσθα τῆς τύχης. 1445
1441 τε] γὰρ Kirchhoff
1443 λέπας Musgrave: λύπας L
Take the Cure
Sólo las letras antiguas curan la sarna moderna.I.e.:
Ancient literature is the only remedy for modern scabies.
Friday, September 29, 2017
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;Peter C. Craigie (1938-1985), Psalms 1-50 (Waco: Word Books, 1983), p. 75:
you break the teeth of the wicked.
The psalmist prays that God would smite his enemies "on the cheek" (3:8c). The words are symbolic; to smite someone on the cheek was to administer a gross insult (cf. 1 Kgs 22:24; Job 16:10; Lam 3:30). As the psalmist had been insulted by the words of his enemies (3:3b), so now he prays for an insult to be administered to them. The parallel line (3:8d) takes the thought further. He prays that God would "smash the teeth of wicked men"; although the words have been interpreted as the imagery of savage beasts rendered harmless through fractured teeth, it is possible that their primary significance is with respect to speechlessness. The enemies had spoken wicked words (3:3d), but mouths cluttered with shattered teeth could no longer voice their enmity....The words of v 8cd seem at first vindictive and harsh, with respect to the enemy. Yet in their transformation, it is not that one prays for God's action against the enemy as such, but against the evil which they speak and do.
Changeable and Inscrutable
My daughter, the way of god is complex; he is hardSomewhat more literally:
for us to predict. He moves the pieces and they come
somehow into a kind of order. Some have bad luck
while others, scatheless, meet their evil and go down
in turn. None can hold fortune still and make it last. 715
ὦ θύγατερ, ὁ θεὸς ὡς ἔφυ τι ποικίλον
καὶ δυστέκμαρτον. εὖ δέ πως πάντα στρέφει
ἐκεῖσε κἀκεῖσ᾿ ἀναφέρων· ὁ μὲν πονεῖ,
ὁ δ᾿ οὐ πονήσας αὖθις ὄλλυται κακῶς,
βέβαιον οὐδὲν τῆς ἀεὶ τύχης ἔχων. 715
712 πάντα στρέφει Herwerden: ἀναστρέφει L
post 713 lacunam ind. Holzner
Daughter, what a changeable thingWilliam Allan ad loc.:
and hard to figure out is god. Somehow he completely upsets all things,
shifting them this way and that. One man toils;
another, not having toiled, afterwards perishes in a bad way,
constantly having no stability of fortune. 715
On reading Weber's negative opinion of Wellington's Victory in the Cäcilia, Beethoven angrily scrawled on p. 166: "Ach du erbärmlicher Schuft, was ich scheisse ist immer noch besser als was du je gedacht" (Oh you miserable scoundrel, what I shit is better than anything you ever thought).Presumably this also includes Beethoven's Kakadu Variations (Opus 121a).
Labels: noctes scatologicae
Refusal to Remember
Our planet that gets smaller every year, with its fantastic proliferation of mass media, is witnessing a process that escapes definition, characterized by a refusal to remember. Certainly, the illiterates of past centuries, then an enormous majority of mankind, knew little of the history of their respective countries and of their civilization. In the minds of modern illiterates, however, who know how to read and write and even teach in schools and at universities, history is present but blurred, in a state of strange confusion...Id. (he = the poet of the "other Europe"):
He feels anxiety, for he senses in this a foreboding of a not distant future when history will be reduced to what appears on television, while the truth, as it is too complicated, will be buried in the archives, if not totally annihilated. Other facts as well, facts for him quite close but distant for the West, add in his mind to the credibility of H.G. Wells' vision in The Time Machine: the Earth inhabited by a tribe of children of the day, carefree, deprived of memory and, by the same token, of history, without defense when confronted with dwellers of subterranean caves, cannibalistic children of the night.Hat tip: Eric Thomson.
Dead White Males
What monsters, Sir, all these great men of antiquity! Let us burn all that remains of their texts...
Quels monstres, monsieur, que tous ces grands hommes de l'antiquité! Brûlons tout ce qui nous reste de leurs écrits...
Thursday, September 28, 2017
So? What do we care about the reveries of an African who was sometimes a Manichean, sometimes a Christian, sometimes a debauchee, sometimes devout, sometimes tolerant, and sometimes a persecutor? What do we care about his theological twaddle? Would you like me to respect this senseless rhetorician when he says in his twenty-third [sic] sermon that an angel got Mary with child through her ear: impraegnavit per aurem?
Eh! que nous importent les rêveries d'un Africain, tantôt manichéen, tantôt chrétien, tantôt débauché, tantôt dévot, tantôt tolérant, tantôt persécuteur? Que nous fait son galimatias théologique? Voudriez-vous que je respectasse cet insensé rhéteur, quand il dit, dans son sermon XXII, que l'ange fit un enfant à Marie par l'oreille? impraegnavit per aurem.
Dostoevsky's DEVILS — apparently a provincial nightmare fantasy of the last century — are crawling across the whole world in front of our very eyes, infesting countries where they could not have been dreamed of; and by means of the hijackings, kidnappings, explosions and fires of recent years they are announcing their determination to shake and destroy civilization! And they may well succeed.Id.:
The spirit of Munich has by no means retreated into the past; it was not merely a brief episode. I even venture to say that the spirit of Munich prevails in the Twentieth Century. The timid civilized world has found nothing with which to oppose the onslaught of a sudden revival of barefaced barbarity, other than concessions and smiles. The spirit of Munich is a sickness of the will of successful people, it is the daily condition of those who have given themselves up to the thirst after prosperity at any price, to material well-being as the chief goal of earthly existence. Such people — and there are many in today's world — elect passivity and retreat, just so as their accustomed life might drag on a bit longer, just so as not to step over the threshold of hardship today — and tomorrow, you'll see, it will all be all right. (But it will never be all right! The price of cowardice will only be evil; we shall reap courage and victory only when we dare to make sacrifices.)
The Character of the Romans Under the Empire
I am delighted to find that you hold an opinion in common with one I have long entertained, and indeed cherished. It is, that the character of the Romans under the Empire has been drawn by very unfair hands, and exhibited to us through a very questionable medium — that of a satirical historian, Tacitus; a scandal-loving biographer, Suetonius; a professed satirist, Juvenal; and a writer who lived long after the time of any of them, and under a new order of men and things — Dion Cassius.Hat tip: Ian Jackson.
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Believing One's Own Eyes
From time immemorial man has been made in such a way that his vision of the world, so long as it has not been instilled under hypnosis, his motivations and scale of values, his actions and intentions are determined by his personal and group experience of life. As the Russian saying goes, "Do not believe your brother, believe your own crooked eye." And that is the most sound basis for an understanding of the world around us and of human conduct in it.Cf. Euripides, Helen 580 (tr. David Kovacs):
Who but your eyes should be your teacher?
τίς οὖν διδάξει σ᾽ ἄλλος ἢ τὰ σ᾽ ὄμματα;
CREONτἀντεταλμέν᾿ = τὰ ἐντεταλμένα (perfect passive participle of ἐντέλλω).
What? Is it not right to carry out orders?
Not if they are bad and badly given.
πῶς; τἀντεταλμέν᾿ οὐ δίκαιον ἐκπονεῖν;
οὔκ, ἢν πονηρά γ᾿ ᾖ κακῶς τ᾿ εἰρημένα.
1648 ἐκπονεῖν: ἐκτελεῖν codd. aliquot
Descent from Tree or Rock
19.163. Penelope asks the still disguised Odysseus about his origins, 'for you are not from the oak or rock of ancient story'. There are other passages (especially Il. 22.126 and Hes. Th. 35) where oak and rock are coupled in proverbial-sounding expressions that perplex the modern commentator. As for birth from tree or rock, there are certainly Greek myths about men being born from trees, and in the myth of Deucalion they are born from thrown stones.53 But for the two together the best parallel is provided by Jer. 2.27. He speaks of the shameful kings, priests, and prophets who, turning their back on the true God, 'say to a tree "You are my father", and to a stone "You gave birth to me".' There is no doubt about the nature of the tree and stone in question here: they are the objects of Canaanite pagan worship (cf. Deut. 29.16, Ezek. 20.32, Hab. 2.19), identified as divinities from whom certain of the nobility claimed descent. Cf. pp. 34 f.; also Jer. 3.9.West (1966) is his edition of Hesiod, Theogony, and KTU is Die Keilalphabetischen Texte aus Ugarit.
See further West (1966), 167-9 (where the Ugaritic passage quoted after Dirlmeier, 25, is KTU 1.3 iii 20-5 = iv 13 ff.); Mark S. Smith, The Early History of God, 84 f.
53 I cannot resist relating the apocryphal myth supposed to illustrate the Westphalian character. It is said that the first Westphalian was created by God from a stone. The stone opened its eyes, regarded God with a surly expression, and growled 'Was willst du denn da?'
Related post: Men Born from Trees.
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Does the Bible Condemn Wearing the Kilt?
I belong to a tradition in the church in which the psalms continue to be used regularly in worship. And yet, as a teenager singing the psalms, their words for the most part contained little meaning for me; they were songs of a remote and distant land, with no evident relevance to my own world. It was the custom in Scotland for boys to wear the kilt to church on Sunday; to this day I can recall singing the words of Psalm 147:10, in the Prayer Book version: "neither delighteth he in any man's legs." I pondered at that time the question of whether Scripture condemned the kilt.Related post: Tobacco and the Bible.
The Pleasure of Reading
I myself, even though I have no greater pleasure than reading, indeed I have no others, and in whom the pleasure of reading is so great that since my earliest childhood I have always followed this habit (and habit is what produces the pleasure), when I have sometimes, in a moment of idleness, settled down to read some book simply to pass the time, and for the sole and express purpose of finding pleasure and delight, I have always discovered, not without surprise and regret, that not only did I experience no delight at all, but I felt boredom and distaste from the very beginning. And therefore I went immediately to change books, but without any benefit, until in desperation I stopped reading, fearing that it had become dull and disagreeable to me forever, and that I would no longer find pleasure in it. But the pleasure returned to me as soon as I took it up again as an occupation, and as a way of studying, and in order to learn something, or to generally improve my knowledge, without any particular purpose of enjoyment. Therefore, those books which I have enjoyed least, and which for some time now I no longer have the habit of reading, have always been those which are described,  as if with their proper name, as amusements and pastimes. (6 April 1827.)
Io stesso, che pur non ho maggior piacere che il leggere, anzi non ne ho altri, ed in cui il piacer della lettura è tanto più grande, quanto che dalla primissima fanciullezza sono sempre vissuto in questa abitudine (e l'abitudine è quella che fa i piaceri) quando talvolta per ozio, mi son posto a leggere qualche libro per semplice passatempo, ed a fine solo ed espresso di trovar piacere e dilettarmi; non senza maraviglia e rammarico, ho trovato sempre che non solo io non provava diletto alcuno, ma sentiva noia e disgusto fin dalle prime pagine. E però io andava cangiando subito libri, senza però niun frutto; finché disperato, lasciava la lettura, con timore che ella mi fosse divenuta insipida e dispiacevole per sempre, e di non aver più a trovarci diletto: il quale mi tornava però subito che io la ripigliava per occupazione, e per modo di studio, e con fin d'imparare qualche cosa, o di avanzarmi generalmente nelle cognizioni, senza alcuna mira particolare al diletto. Onde i libri che mi hanno dilettato meno, e che perciò da qualche tempo io non soglio più leggere, sono stati sempre quelli che si chiamano  come per proprio nome, dilettevoli e di passatempo. (6. Aprile. 1827.)
Monday, September 25, 2017
On the Debit Side
A certain Theodorus rejoices because I am dead. Another shall rejoice at his death. We are all owed to death.Some put a comma after τις, not after Θεόδωρος, making Theodorus the speaker (i.e., A certain man rejoices because I, Theodorus, am dead...).
χαίρει τις Θεόδωρος, ἐπεὶ θάνον· ἄλλος ἐπ᾿ αὐτῷ
χαιρήσει. θανάτῳ πάντες ὀφειλόμεθα.
Horace, Ars Poetica 63 (tr. H. Rushton Fairclough):
We are doomed to death—we and all things ours.
debemur morti nos nostraque.
debemus cod. Bernensis 363
I am forever with Falkland, true martyr of the Civil War,—one of the very greatest among the great spirits of whom England has ever been so notoriously unworthy,—as he stood facing Hampden and Pym. "Mr. Speaker," he said, "when it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change."Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), Essais 2.17 (tr. E.J. Trechmann):
According to my way of thinking, in public matters no course of proceeding is so bad, provided it have age and continuity to recommend it, but that it is better than change and uncertainty.Id.:
Et pourtant, selon mon humeur, és affaires publiques, il n'est aucun si mauvais train, pourveu qu'il aye de l'aage et de la constance, qui ne vaille mieux que le changement et le remuement.
Many of our laws and customs are barbarous and monstrous; yet, by reason of the difficulty of improving our condition, and the danger of the whole State toppling to pieces, if I could put a spoke into our wheel and stop it at this point, I would do it with a light heart.Id.:
De nos loix et usances, il y en a plusieurs barbares et monstrueuses: toutesfois, pour la difficulté de nous mettre en meilleur estat et le danger de ce crollement, si je pouvoy planter une cheville à nostre roue et l'arrester en ce point, je le ferois de bon coeur.
It is very easy to condemn a government for its imperfection, for all mortal things are full of it. It is very easy to generate in a people a contempt for their ancient observances; no man ever attempted it without succeeding. But many have come to grief in their attempt to establish a better state of things in place of what they have destroyed.
Il est bien aisé d'accuser d'imperfection une police, car toutes choses mortelles en sont pleines; il est bien aisé d'engendrer à un peuple le mespris de ses anciennes observances: jamais homme n'entreprint cela qui n'en vint à bout; mais d'y restablir un meilleur estat en la place de celuy qu'on a ruiné, à cecy plusieurs se sont morfondus, de ceux qui l'avoient entreprins.
How Are You? Two Replies
I am in a very unsettled condition, as the oyster said when they poured melted butter all over his back.Id. (at 463):
I feel better, as the old Lady said after she had brought forth twins.
Sunday, September 24, 2017
A large number of classicists today might be classified as romantic escapists, impelled to burrow for warmth into the womb of a pre-industrial, non-atomic, unmechanized antiquity.If I dared to call myself a classicist, I would plead guilty as charged.
More Sunday Reading
It is a book adapted for the reverse of what is called family reading, and yet we remember thinking, the first time we read it, in the heat of our admiration for its power, that it would make the most useful of Sunday-school tracts. In M. Taine's elaborate satire, "The Opinions of M. Graindorge," there is a report of a conversation at a dinner party between an English spinster of didactic habits and a decidedly audacious Frenchman. He begs to recommend to her a work which he has lately been reading and which cannot fail to win the approval of all persons interested in the propagation of virtue. The lady lends a sympathetic ear, and he gives a rapid sketch of the tale—the history of a wicked woman who goes from one abomination to another, until at last the judgment of Heaven descends upon her, and, blighted and blasted, she perishes miserably. The lady grasps her pencil and note-book and begs for the name of the edifying volume, and the gentleman leans across the dinner table and answers with a smile—"'Madame Bovary; or, The Consequences of Misconduct.'" This is a very pretty epigram and it is more than an epigram. It may be very seriously maintained that M. Flaubert's masterpiece is the pearl of "Sunday reading."Related post: Sunday Reading.
Saturday, September 23, 2017
Motto for a School Classroom
Read your books, stupid.
The Wealth of Mankind
In recent times it has been fashionable to talk of the levelling of nations, of the disappearance of different races in the melting-pot of contemporary civilization. I do not agree with this opinion, but its discussion remains another question. Here it is merely fitting to say that the disappearance of nations would have impoverished us no less than if all men had become alike, with one personality and one face. Nations are the wealth of mankind, its collective personalities; the very least of them wears its own special colours and bears within itself a special facet of divine intention.
The crimson ham, green sorrel soup with yolks of gold,A pike is a fish, and fish don't have feathers, so "its feather blue" puzzled me. I don't know Russian, but I think that перо (the word used here, cognate with Greek πτερόν) can mean either feather or fin. Some suppose that English fin is cognate with Latin penna/pinna (= wing, feather).
the rose-gold pie, the cheese that's white, the crayfish scarlet,
the caviar, deep amber, black, the pike's stripes bold,
its feather blue — delight the eyesight.
Delight the eye and joy to every sense impart;
though not with glut or spices brought from foreign harbours,
but with their pure and wholesome Russian heart:
provisions native, fresh and healthful.
The original, for those who do know Russian:
Багряна ветчина, зелены щи с желтком,
Румяно-желт пирог, сыр белый, раки красны,
Что смоль, янтарь — икра, и с голубым пером
Там щука пестрая: прекрасны!
Прекрасны потому, что взор манят мой, вкус;
Но не обилием иль чуждых стран приправой,
А что опрятно всё и представляет Русь:
Припас домашний, свежий, здравый.
Friday, September 22, 2017
Of all creatures that breathe and walk on the earth there is nothingJoseph Russo ad loc.:
more helpless than a man is, of all that the earth fosters;
for he thinks that he will never suffer misfortune in future
days, while the gods grant him courage, and his knees have spring
in them. But when the blessed gods bring sad days upon him,
against his will he must suffer it with enduring spirit.
For the mind in men upon earth goes according to the fortunes
the Father of Gods and Men, day by day, bestows upon them.
οὐδὲν ἀκιδνότερον γαῖα τρέφει ἀνθρώποιο, 130
πάντων ὅσσα τε γαῖαν ἔπι πνείει τε καὶ ἕρπει.
οὐ μὲν γάρ ποτέ φησι κακὸν πείσεσθαι ὀπίσσω,
ὄφρ᾿ ἀρετὴν παρέχωσι θεοὶ καὶ γούνατ᾿ ὀρώρῃ·
ἀλλ᾿ ὅτε δὴ καὶ λυγρὰ θεοὶ μάκαρες τελέσωσι,
καὶ τὰ φέρει ἀεκαζόμενος τετληότι θυμῷ· 135
τοῖος γὰρ νόος ἐστὶν ἐπιχθονίων ἀνθρώπων
οἷον ἐπ᾿ ἦμαρ ἄγησι πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε.
So Much for Mortal Men's Plans
 I suddenly saw a man's body caught in a gentle eddy and carried ashore.  I stopped gloomily, and, with moist eyes, proceeded to reflect upon the treachery of the sea.  "Maybe," I cried, "there is a wife waiting cheerfully at home for this man in a far-off land, or a son or a father, maybe, who know nothing of this storm; he is sure to have left some one behind whom he kissed before he went.  So much for mortal men's plans, and the prayers of high ambition. Look how the man floats."  I was still crying over him as a perfect stranger, when a wave turned his face towards the shore without a mark upon it, and I recognized Lichas, but a while ago so fierce and so relentless, now thrown almost under my feet.  Then I could restrain my tears no longer; I beat my breast again and again, and cried, "Where is your temper and your hot head now?  Behold! you are a prey for fish and savage beasts. An hour ago you boasted the strength of your command, and you have not one plank of your great ship to save you.  Now let mortal men go and fill their hearts with proud imaginations. Let misers make arrangements for a thousand years about the gains they win by fraud.  Lo! this man but yesterday looked into the accounts of his family property, and even settled in his own mind the very day when he would come home again. Lord, Lord, how far he lies from his consummation!  But it is not the waves of the sea alone that thus keep faith with mortal men. The warrior's weapons fail him; another pays his vows to Heaven, and his own house falls and buries him in the act. Another slips from his coach and dashes out his eager soul: the glutton chokes at dinner, the sparing man dies of want.  Make a fair reckoning, and you find shipwreck everywhere. You tell me that for those the waters whelm there is no burial. As if it mattered how our perishable flesh comes to its end, by fire or water or the lapse of time!  Whatever you may do, all these things achieve the same goal. But beasts will tear the body, you say, as though fire would give it a more kindly welcome! When we are angry with our slaves, we consider burning their heaviest punishment.  Then what madness to take such trouble to prevent the grave from leaving aught of us behind!"
 repente video corpus humanum circumactum levi vertice ad litus deferri.  substiti ergo tristis coepique umentibus oculis maris fidem inspicere et  'hunc forsitan' proclamo 'in aliqua parte terrarum secura exspectat uxor, forsitan ignarus tempestatis filius aut pater; utique reliquit aliquem, cui proficiscens osculum dedit.  haec sunt consilia mortalium, haec vota magnarum cogitationum. en homo quemadmodum natat.'  adhuc tanquam ignotum deflebam, cum inviolatum os fluctus convertit in terram, agnovique terribilem paulo ante et implacabilem Licham pedibus meis paene subiectum.  non tenui igitur diutius lacrimas, immo percussi semel iterumque manibus pectus et 'ubi nunc est' inquam 'iracundia tua, ubi impotentia tua?  nempe piscibus beluisque expositus es, et qui paulo ante iactabas vires imperii tui, de tam magna nave ne tabulam quidem naufragus habes.  ite nunc mortales, et magnis cogitationibus pectora implete. ite cauti, et opes fraudibus captas per mille annos disponite.  nempe hic proxima luce patrimonii sui rationes inspexit, nempe diem etiam, quo venturus esset in patriam, animo suo fixit. dii deaeque, quam longe a destinatione sua iacet.  sed non sola mortalibus maria hanc fidem praestant. illum bellantem arma decipiunt, illum diis vota reddentem penatium suorum ruina sepelit. ille vehiculo lapsus properantem spiritum excussit, cibus avidum strangulavit, abstinentem frugalitas.  si bene calculum ponas, ubique naufragium est. at enim fluctibus obruto non contingit sepultura. tanquam intersit, periturum corpus quae ratio consumat, ignis an fluctus an mora.  quicquid feceris, omnia haec eodem ventura sunt. ferae tamen corpus lacerabunt. tanquam melius ignis accipiat; immo hanc poenam gravissimam credimus, ubi servis irascimur.  quae ergo dementia est, omnia facere, ne quid de nobis relinquat sepultura?'
 umentibus Muncker: nictantibus humentibus in margine edit. Tornaesii (Lyon 1575): viventibus codd.: urentibus Lipsius
 pater Buecheler: patrem codd.
 magnarum cogitationum del. Fraenkel
 per codd.: in Nisbet
 fixit Oevering: finxit codd.
 e ante vehiculo add. Kraffert
post excussit lacunam ind. Stocker
 contingit Goldast: contigit codd.: continget Barth
mora codd.: terra Crusius: aura Buecheler
You surpass all womenRelated posts:
for beauty and stature and for the mind well balanced within you.
εἶδός τε μέγεθός τε ἰδὲ φρένας ἔνδον ἐίσας.
- A Seductive Speech
- Classical Pickup Lines
- How To Pick Up Girls
- How To Ogle
- The Women You Will Wow
- Acharnians (ad fin.)
Thursday, September 21, 2017
The Incubus of Research
The other evil (in my view) is the incubus of "Research". The system was, I believe, first devised to attract the Americans and to emulate the scientists. But the wisest Americans are themselves already sick of it; as one of them said to me "I guess we got to come to giving every citizen a Ph.D shortly after birth, same as baptism and vaccination." And it is surely clear by now that the needs of the humanities are different from those of the sciences. In science, I gather, a young man fresh from his First in the Tripos can really share in the work of one of his seniors in a way that is useful to himself and even to the subject. But this is not true of the man who has just got his First in English or Modern Languages. Such a man, far from being able or anxious (he is by definition no fool) to add to the sum of human knowledge, wants to acquire a good deal more of the knowledge we already have. He has lately begun to discover how many more things he needs to know in order to follow up his budding interests; that he needs economics, or theology, or philosophy, or archaeology (and always a few more languages). To head him off from these studies, to pinfold him in some small inquiry whose chief claim often is that no one has ever made it before, is cruel and frustrating. It wastes such years as he will never have again; for an old proverb says that "All the speed is in the morning". What keeps the system going is the fact that it becomes increasingly difficult to get an academic job without a "research degree". Can the two ancient universities do anything by combining to break down this bad usage?I'm reminded of William M. Calder III, "Benedict Einarson," Gnomon 51 (1979) 207-208 (at 207):
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.Hat tip: George Gaiennie.
Read and Reread
[H]ow often, with all the theoretical experience of method accumulated in me over the years, have I stared blankly, quite similar to one of my beginning students, at a page that would not yield its magic. The only way leading out of this state of unproductivity is to read and reread, patiently and confidently, in an endeavor to become, as it were, soaked through and through with the atmosphere of the work. And suddenly one word, one line, stands out, and we realize that, now, a relationship has been established between the poem and us. From this point, I have usually found that, what with other observations adding themselves to the first, and with previous experiences of the circles intervening, and with associations given by previous education building up before me (all of this quickened, in my own case, by a quasi-metaphysical urge toward solution) it does not seem long until the characteristic "click" occurs, which is the indication that detail and whole have found a common denominator — which gives the etymology of the writing. And looking back on this process (whose end, of course, marks only the conclusion of the preliminary stage of analysis), how can we say when exactly it began? (Even the "first step" was preconditioned.) We see, indeed, that to read is to have read, to understand is equivalent to having understood.Ian Jackson (per litteras), in response to my query about Spitzer's unusual use of the word etymology:
Spitzer's usage certainly seems rare, as he seems to realize by putting the word in quotation marks in the appended footnote (no.19 on p.38), but is consistent with his usage of "etymon" on page 11 ("the common spiritual etymon, the psychological root"). The OED does, however, give one or two citations not linked to words — see 2a (a), where the quotation from 1604 simply says "true expounding" and from 1681, "true explanation of interpretation of a thing". Using the latter gloss, the relevant phrase could be re-written as "detail and whole have found a common denominator — which gives the true interpretation of the writing".
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Tunc fortissimus Giton ad virilia sua admovit novaculam infestam, minatus se abscisurum tot miseriarum causam...The translation has suffered some mutilation. It omits infestam (= harmful, dangerous, modifying razor), which is Pithoeus' correction for the infertam or insertam of the manuscripts.
Then the gallant Giton turned a razor against his genitals and threatened to put an end to our troubles by self-mutilation...
There was even more mutilation in Heseltine's original 1922 translation, which cut out genitals (virilia) altogether:
Then the gallant Giton turned a razor on himself and threatened to put an end to our troubles by self-mutilation...
Term of Abuse
Philology is widely thought to be dead. Moreover, her corpse, like that of Father Zosima, gives off an unpleasant odor. Her name has become a term of abuse. "Philologist" is what you call the dull boys and girls of the profession.The American Philological Association, a few years ago, changed its name to The Society for Classical Studies.
While at Civitavecchia, in the deep of night, I received a telephone call with the news that my father, who was at Tivoli with my mother, had been taken gravely ill. Shortly thereafter Bindo Rimini arrived by car and took me to Tivoli, where I found my mother, Riccardo Rimini, and Marco. My father was in a coma, and according to Riccardo, an excellent doctor whom we all trusted, there was little hope of his surviving. A few hours passed, and the situation was unchanged. Somehow rumors of my father's state spread, and people from the paper mill and city authorities made discreet, concerned inquiries. Somebody even started thinking about funeral arrangements.Tasso in the Italian (Canto IV, 3:1-2):
No signs of improvement appeared. In the afternoon, the patient, still in a coma, passed a lot of wind, and then loudly and clearly spoke some famous lines from Torquato Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata (my translation):
The raucous sound of the Tartarean bugleMy mother, who was at her husband's bedside, almost fainted. We all rushed in, and to everybody's amazement, my father regained consciousness. In a few hours he was greatly improved. For about a week he slightly dragged one leg in walking, but soon he totally recovered, without visible trace of what had happened in either body or mind. We had been terribly scared. My father's comment was: "Now I know what there is in the beyond: nothing."
Calls the inhabitants of the eternal shadows.
Chiama gli abitator de l'ombre eterneHat tip: Ian Jackson.
il rauco suon de la tartarea tromba.
Related post: Death Knell.
Labels: noctes scatologicae
Joy Over the Captured Worm
To see again from close at hand the seething brood of the philologists of our time, and every day having to observe all their moleish pullulating, the baggy cheeks and the blind eyes, their joy at capturing worms and their indifference to the true problems, the urgent problems of life — not only the young ones doing it, but also the old, full-grown ones — all this makes me see more and more clearly that the two of us, if this is to be our only means of remaining true to the spirit in us, shall not go our way in life without a variety of offenses and intrigues.
Jetzt wo ich wieder das wimmelnde Philologengezücht unserer Tage aus der Nähe sehe, wo ich das ganze Maulwurfstreiben, die vollen Backentaschen und die blinden Augen, die Freude ob des erbeuteten Wurms und die Gleichgültigkeit gegen die wahren, ja aufdringlichen Probleme des Lebens täglich beobachten muß und nicht nur an der jungen Brut, sondern an den ausgewachsenen Alten: da kommt es mir immer begreiflicher vor, daß wir beide, falls wir nur sonst unserm Genius treu bleiben, nicht ohne mannichfache Anstöße und Quertreibereien unsern Lebensweg gehen werden.
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Enjoy yourself,35 let's grab our pleasures.R.A. Harvey ad loc.:
35 Lit. "give your Genius (i.e. appetites) free play."
indulge genio, carpamus dulcia.
As preserved in Montpellier, Bibliothèque universitaire de médecine, ms. 125 (9th century, aka Codex Pithoeanus), fol. 11r (click twice with Chrome browser to enlarge):
Aversion to Bird Song
He was of somewhat eccentric habits, living almost altogether by himself and avoiding those who lived with him. Latterly his household consisted of but one old housekeeper who often did not see him for days, leaving his meals outside his study or bedroom door. Oddly enough although otherwise fond of country life he detested the song and sounds of birds. He kept a long pole in his bedroom with which he used to frighten away the starlings, which gathered about the eaves and gutters of his cottage, by protruding it through the open window as he lay in bed in the morning.In the same magazine, there are some verses "Ad Poetas Aquilinos" by "The Wollerer's Ghost" (pp. 22-24), with the following good advice:
At least avoid one subject: 'tis the curseJoel Eidsath (per litteras) thinks that Robert Henry Forster (1867-1923) wrote these verses, and I think he's right.
Of modern, and especially minor verse,—
Yourself: pray don't indecently expose
Your naked soul, with all its passion-throes,
Its chance abrasions, and its foolish fears,
Its whines, its wrigglings, and its sloppy tears.
If passion's pains press potent on your chest,
Sing of your supper: we'll infer the rest.
Then be more private; show not every eye
Your heart's uncouth ill-oiled machinery.
'A human document'? Come, take the hint:
It doesn't follow that it's fit to print.
Monday, September 18, 2017
Must and Mould
Antiquarian history itself degenerates from the moment it is no longer animated and inspired by the fresh life of the present. Its piety withers away, the habit of scholarliness continues without it and rotates in egoistic self-satisfaction around its own axis. Then there appears the repulsive spectacle of a blind rage for collecting, a restless raking together of everything that has ever existed. Man is encased in the stench of must and mould; through the antiquarian approach he succeeds in reducing even a more creative disposition, a nobler desire, to an insatiable thirst for novelty, or rather for antiquity and for all and everything; often he sinks so low that in the end he is content to gobble down any food whatever, even the dust of bibliographical minutiae.
Die antiquarische Historie entartet selbst in dem Augenblicke, in dem das frische Leben der Gegenwart sie nicht mehr beseelt und begeistert. Jetzt dorrt die Pietät ab, die gelehrtenhafte Gewöhnung besteht ohne sie fort und dreht sich egoistisch—selbstgefällig um ihren eignen Mittelpunkt. Dann erblickt man wohl das widrige Schauspiel einer blinden Sammelwuth, eines rastlosen Zusammenscharrens alles einmal Dagewesenen. Der Mensch hüllt sich in Moderduft; es gelingt ihm selbst eine bedeutendere Anlage, ein edleres Bedürfniss durch die antiquarische Manier zu unersättlicher Neubegier, richtiger Alt- und Allbegier herabzustimmen; oftmals sinkt er so tief, dass er zuletzt mit jeder Kost zufrieden ist und mit Lust selbst den Staub bibliographischer Quisquilien frisst.
Either This or Upon This
Another, as she handed her son his shield, exhorted him, saying, "Either this or upon this."bItems confiscated by St. Louis police from rioter:
b Referred to Gorgo as the author by Aristotle in his Aphorisms, as quoted by Stobaeus, Florilegium, vii.31, but it is often spoken of as a regular Spartan custom. Cf., for example, the scholium on Thucydides, ii.39.
Ancient writers were not agreed whether the second half meant to fall upon the shield (dead or wounded) or to be brought home dead upon it. In support of the second (traditional) interpretation cf. Moralia, 235A, and Valerius Maximus, II.7, ext. 2.
ἄλλη προσαναδιδοῦσα τῷ παιδὶ τὴν ἀσπίδα καὶ παρακελευομένη, "τέκνον," ἔφη, "ἢ τὰν ἢ ἐπὶ τᾶς."
Valerius Maximus 2.7 ext. 2 (tr. D.R. Shackleton Bailey):
They were not surprised at the general's precept, remembering the maternal coaxing whereby those going forth to battle were told to come back to their mothers' sight alive with their shields or be brought back upon them dead. That was the watchword the Spartan warriors received within the walls of their homes before they fought.See Mason Hammond, "A Famous Exemplum of Spartan Toughness," Classical Journal 75.2 (December 1979-January 1980) 97-109.
idque a duce praecipi non mirabantur, maternarum blanditiarum memores quibus exituri ad proeliandum monebantur ut aut vivi cum armis in conspectum earum venirent aut mortui in armis referrentur. hoc intra domesticos parietes accepto signo Spartanae acies dimicabant.
Dear Mr. Gilleland,
With regard to your recent post on Spartan women, you might be interested in this monument on the campus of Penn State, commemorating a fallen graduate. It’s a beautiful monument. I pass it 3 times a week on my way to class. It represents a shield, surmounted by the motto.
The fallen graduate is Lt. Michael P. Murphy, USN (1976-2005):
A House Full of Books
His sole extravagance was the purchase of books, of which at his death he had, I believe, thirty thousand. He spent his vacations at either Malvern or Tunbridge Wells, in both of which towns there were secondhand bookshops of which he must have been one of the principal customers. Shortly after his return at the beginning of each term several crates full of spoils would be delivered at his lodging; many of these remained unpacked to the time of his death, for they had simply overwhelmed him. Many of them were the kind of books — Victorian parish histories and the like — which one can hardly imagine anyone wanting but which, if anyone did want them, it might be impossible to find. In spite of its size the house was inadequate to accommodate them; in the corners of each room piles of books were thrown down anyhow like sand in the corner of a builder's yard, and the bath, which was not used for its normal purpose, was a kind of dump for odd printed scraps. It was only just possible to push one's way up the staircase, for on every step there were piles of books extending high out of reach; in fact the view of the staircase-wall reminded me of a sectional diagram of geological strata in an atlas, and one could see how the conformation had readjusted itself after a cataclysm had occurred through a removal of the book from one of its lower levels. He was very indignant at the suggestion that books were ever stolen from libraries and insisted that apparent thefts were in fact cases of absent-mindedness; this may be true to some extent, for it would be absurd to give any other explanation for the books which were found in his house after his death. He once showed me a book which contained the plate of a well-known library and in which he had inserted a signed declaration that he had bought it in a shop and not stolen it from the library; otherwise, he said, someone doing research would defame him posthumously. I remarked that I thought this a very poor safeguard, since anyone suspecting him of theft would be equally ready to accuse him of perjury.Hat tip: Nigel Preston-Jones.
Sunday, September 17, 2017
Aftermath of Hurricane Irma
A Petronian Tobspruch
tanto magis expedit inguina quam ingenia fricare.In Michael Heseltine's original translation of Petronius for the Loeb Classical Library series (1913), this was left untranslated. In E.H. Warmington's revision (1969), it was translated (with footnote) thus:
expedit Dousa: impedit codd.: impendit: Erhard
So much the greater gain is it to rub groins than geniuses.1Some have attempted to reproduce the word-play, e.g. J.P. Sullivan:
1 The meaning seems to be that it is more important to stir up one's sexual than one's mental powers.
A polished wick is much more profitable than a polished wit.Cf. Erich Segal, "Arbitrary Satyricon: Petronius & Fellini," Diacritics 1.1 (Autumn, 1971) 54-57 (at 55):
In life you make it better with a stroke of "penius" than a stroke of genius.On fricare see J.N. Adams, The Latin Sexual Vocabulary (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982; rpt. 1993), p. 184.
A Dying Art
You can't do anything at all in ancient philosophy unless you know a bit of Greek and Latin, and you can't do anything worthwhile in ancient philosophy unless you are a semi-decent classical scholar. But classical scholarship is a dying art: there aren't as many scholars as there used to be, and their grasp of the ancient languages and the ancient world weakens and trembles. What's more, fewer and fewer of them care to take up the philosophy of Greece and Rome.
This state of affairs is exacerbated by a device known as the TLG. Load it into your laptop, and you have instant access to virtually the whole of Greek literature. You cut and paste snippets from authors whose very names mean nothing to you. You affirm—and you're right—that a particular word used here by Plato occurs 43 times elsewhere in Greek literature. And you can write an article—or a book—stuffed with prodigious learning. (There are similar things available for Latin.)
The TLG is a lovely little resource (I think that's the word), and I use her all the time. But she's strumpet-tongued: she flatters and she deceives. "What an enormous knowledge you have, my young cock—why not let me make a real scholar of you?" And the young cock crows on his dung-hill: he can cite anything and construe nothing.
"Come, Terence, this is sorry guff ... Exactly a century ago Ingram Bywater wrote this: 'I see the handwriting on the wall everywhere—even in Germany, and am not hopeful as to the future of the old humanities.' How wrong he was. And as for today, see what the editors say in the latest fascicule of the Classical Review: 'for the first time since 2000, the number of items in an issue has topped 200; as usual, the multitude and range testify to the vitality of the discipline.' You see mildew and aphids everywhere; and all the while the roses are blooming in the rose-garden."
Bywater was indeed wrong. (What convinced him that the end was nigh was the fact that the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge no longer required students of physics and chemistry to have a firm grounding in Greek.) But today—today things are different. The editors of the Review are whistling in the dark. True, unnumbered slabs of matter are unloaded at the bookshop doors; true, the slabs come in an unprecedentedly broad range of colours. But numbers are no proof of vitality; and the new colours are those of narratology, and metatextuality, and gender studies, and God knows what else.
"Come come, Terence, you're over-egging it. I'll allow that 90% of the books and articles published in ancient philosophy are worthless. But wasn't it always so? I'll allow that there is little which is epoch-making or path-breaking. But epochs aren't made every year nor paths broken once a month. Regard things with a judicious eye: doesn't every year see one or even two thoroughly decent new books, and two or even four thoroughly decent new articles? And were things ever really much better than that?"
Yes, they were. As far as philologically informed work on ancient philosophy is concerned, things were better fifty years ago.
Saturday, September 16, 2017
He was a typical Greek of the middle class, enthralled by politics, religious believer in the Hellenic destiny. Anglophil, anxious to be of assistance, boundlessly conceited, yet, save when enlarging on a favourite subject, unobtrusive. During a conversation, I mistook the meaning of a word for another outside the context in which he had used it. This led him to a new field.
"Every word in Greek," he said, "has ten meanings, and every meaning ten words. You need to know each one. Greek is the most beautiful of all languages. The Bible and all the holy works were written in it."
"The Gospels, for instance," I interpolated, wishing to seem intelligent.
"Yes, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John the Theologian all used it. Yet they were not Greeks. But the Holy Ghost descended with the gift of tongues——"
"Ah! Of course, the Holy Ghost was Greek."
Whereat Father Methodius, handing a dish of stuffed tomatoes, exploded into giggles; and the guest, his peroration marred, groaned, protesting and reiterative, that this was not the case. I recount the anecdote with pride, as it is not easy to hoist a Greek neatly on his own petard.
Friday, September 15, 2017
We slander the past, and learn and teach nothing but vices.
accusatores antiquitatis vitia tantum docemus et discimus.
Thursday, September 14, 2017
When You Gotta Go, You Gotta Go
A grave & learned Minister, and an ordinary Preacher at Alcmar in Holland, was one day (as he walked in the fields for his recreation) suddenly taken with a laske or loosenesse, and thereupon compelled to retire to the next ditch; but being surprised at unawars, by some Gentlewomen of his Parish wandering that way; kwas so abashed, that he did never after shew his head in publike, or come into the Pulpet, but pined away with Melancholy: (Pet. Forestus med. observat. lib. 10, observat. 12.)Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. lask, n.1, sense 1:
k Propter ruborem confusus, statim cepit delirare, &c. ob suspicionem quod vili illum crimine accusarent.
Looseness of the bowels, diarrhoea; an attack of this.I'm reminded of Diogenes Laertius 6.94 (tr. R.D. Hicks):
Metrocles of Maroneia was the brother of Hipparchia. He had been formerly a pupil of Theophrastus the Peripatetic, and had been so far corrupted by weakness that, when he made a breach of good manners in the course of rehearsing a speech, it drove him to despair, and he shut himself up at home, intending to starve himself to death. On learning this Crates came to visit him as he had been asked to do, and after advisedly making a meal of lupins, he tried to persuade him by argument as well that he had committed no crime, for a prodigy would have happened if he had not taken the natural means of relieving himself. At last by reproducing the action he succeeded in lifting him from his dejection, using for his consolation the likeness of the occurrences. From that time forward Metrocles was his pupil, and became proficient in philosophy.Euphemisms in the translation obscure somewhat the point of this story. "When he made a breach of good manners" and "by reproducing the action" are both the same word in the original Greek, ἀποπαρδών, aorist participle of ἀποπέρδομαι, fart.
It might seem improbable that shame at this "breach of good manners" would lead Metrocles to the contemplation of suicide. But a similar embarrassment drove Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, into self-imposed exile, according to John Aubrey's Brief Lives:
This Earle of Oxford, making of his low obeisance to Queen Elizabeth, happened to let a Fart, at which he was so abashed and ashamed that he went to Travell, 7 yeares. On his return the Queen welcomed him home, and sayd, My Lord, I had forgott the Fart.
Labels: noctes scatologicae
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Summary of Condorcet's Progrès de L'Esprit Humain
The past is one long hideous night of oppression, greed, cruelty, ignorance, superstition, fanaticism, and imposture, with priests and kings to blame. (To update, substitute "capitalists," "whites," "males," etc., to taste.) But then somehow—it is not clear how, or rather it is, in Condorcet's treatment, an absolute mystery how, but anyway somehow—in Europe, a few years back, light dawned. And this light is soon going to spread everywhere, and irreversibly. Our descendants will all be happy, healthy, free, equal, just, rational, leisured, and cultivated. Condorcet does not actually say that Enlightenment is going to cure wooden legs, though I think it would have pained him to hear it denied. He does say that the length of human life will be indefinitely increased. He never faces, as even ancient Greek fable had faced, the Tithonus-problem: extension of life without reprieve from aging. But no doubt he would have said that, in the future, the progress of medical science will etc., etc.
The Key to the Problem
This morning at the Legation I met a Colonel Porter who asked what my share in the world's work was. I said I had been looking at Mohammadan architecture.
'Mind you,' he replied, 'I've seen a good deal of Mohammadan architecture one way and another, in Palestine, Egypt, and Persia, and I've given a good deal of thought to the matter. I can tell you the key to the problem if you like.'
'Really. What is it?'
'The whole thing's phallic,' he uttered in a ghoulish whisper.
I was surprised at first to note the influence of Freud on the North-West Frontier, but soon discovered that for Colonel Porter the universe itself was phallic.
Which of all the things sought after in this life is sweeter for human beings to enjoy than peace? Whatever pleasure you may name among those which life offers, it needs peace in order to be pleasant. If one had all the things which are valued in our life, wealth, health, wife, children, house, parents, servants, friends, land and sea with the rich contents of each, gardens, hunts, baths, wrestling-rings, gymnasia, luxury clubs and youth clubs, and every thing that pleasure has invented, to which should be added theatrical entertainments and musical performances, and whatever else there is by which life is made pleasant for luxury-lovers, — if one had all these, but lacked the benefit of peace, what would you gain from those things, with war curtailing the enjoyment of their benefits? Peace therefore is itself pleasant to those who take part in it, and it sweetens all the things that are valued in life.
τί γὰρ εἰς ἀπόλαυσιν τῶν κατὰ τὸν βίον σπουδαζομένων τῆς εἰρήνης ἐστὶ τοῖς ἀνθρώποις γλυκύτερον; ὅτιπερ ἂν εἴπῃς τῶν ἡδέων τῶν κατὰ τὴν ζωὴν εἰρήνης χρῄζει τὸ εἶναι ἡδύ. εἰ γὰρ πάντα εἴη ὅσα κατὰ τὸν βίον τετίμηται, πλοῦτος, εὐεξία, γαμετὴ, παῖδες, οἰκία, γονεῖς, ὑπηρέται, φίλοι, γῆ, θάλασσα, τοῖς οἰκείοις ἑκατέρα πλουτίζουσα, παράδεισοι, θῆραι, λουτρὰ, παλαῖστραι, γυμνάσια, τρυφητήριά τε καὶ ἡβητήρια, καὶ πάντα ὅσα ἐστὶ τῆς ἡδονῆς ἐφευρήματα — προσκείσθω τούτοις τὰ ἡδέα θεάματα καὶ τὰ μουσικὰ ἀκροάματα καὶ εἴ τι ἄλλο δι' οὗ τοῖς τρυφῶσιν ὁ βίος ἡδύνεται — εἰ ταῦτα μὲν εἴη πάντα, τὸ δὲ τῆς εἰρήνης ἀγαθὸν μὴ παρείη, τί κέρδος ἐκείνων, πολέμου τῶν ἀγαθῶν τὴν ἀπόλαυσιν ἐπικόπτοντος; οὐκοῦν ἡ εἰρήνη αὕτη τε ἡδεῖά ἐστι τοῖς μετέχουσι καὶ πάντα καταγλυκαίνει τὰ ἐν τῷ βίῳ τιμώμενα.
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Has there ever been anything filthier on earth than the saints of the desert?Robert C. Smith and John Lounibos, Pagan and Christian Anxiety: A Response to E.R. Dodds (Lanham: University Press of America, 1984), p. 21 (librum non vidi):
Gab es Schmutzigeres bisher auf Erden als Wüsten-Heilige?
The practice of bathing among the Desert Fathers can be summarized rather succinctly: they did not bathe. Not only did they not bathe, they hated even the thought of entering the water because upon entering it they might be seen naked or, what was perhaps even worse, they might have seen themselves naked.
For whoever boasts that he is an expert concerning the godsSee Roger Goossens, "ΠΕΙΘΕΙΝ ΛΕΓΩΝ (Euripide, fr. 795 Nauck)," L'Antiquité Classique 7.2 (December, 1938) 215-216. I don't have access to Carl Werner Müller, ed., Euripides, Philoktet: Testimonien und Fragmente (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2000),where this is F 14.
knows nothing more than to be persuasive when he speaks.
ὅστις γὰρ αὐχεῖ θεῶν ἐπίστασθαι πέρι,
οὐδέν τι μᾶλλον οἶδεν ἢ πείθειν λέγων.
5 ἢ πείθειν λέγων Musgrave: ἢ πείθει λέγων codd.: ἢ πείθειν λεών Hense: ἢ πείθειν ὄχλον F.G. Schmidt: ἢ ψεύδη λέγειν vel ἢ ψευδηγορεῖν Heimsoeth: ἢ ἀπατᾶν ὄχλον Wecklein: εἰ πείθει λέγων Munro
Monday, September 11, 2017
The extinction of "bourgeois culture" which Marx looked forward to with relish, and which his followers have carried out to the best of their ability, is a more serious matter than the phrase suggests. The reason is that the extinction of bourgeois culture is the extinction of culture, for there is no other kind.Id., p. 12:
Take any branch of culture you like: literature, science, philosophy, history, music, or whatever. It comes neither from the most privileged part of society, nor from the least; neither from the blue-bloods, nor from the "people of the abyss" (as Jack London called them). It comes from the great broad band in between.
But whatever may be the reason for it, the fact is that if you write down the names of a hundred people who have done something that matters in science or literature or any other branch of culture, you will find that two at most of the hundred come from the most privileged part of the social scale, and one at most from the least privileged. In other words at least ninety-seven of them came from backgrounds which are bounded, on one side, by the gentry and minor nobility and, on the other side, by shoemakers and weavers. Their fathers and their grandfathers were teachers or scholars or clerks or clergymen or farmers or doctors or lawyers or soldiers or sailors or bankers or merchants or tradesmen or craftsmen or shopkeepers. At any rate, they were people who possessed some social advantages but were very far from possessing all.
This is an extremely simple statistic, and one which is very easily verified: anyone who is prepared to take a small amount of trouble can satisfy themselves as to the fact. Yet it is of the greatest importance. If it were attended to, it would be enough on its own to silence forever revolutionary or bohemian ranting about "bourgeois culture"; for it proves that culture is everywhere, and always has been, a middle-class monopoly.
Trimalchio said, "Well, well, if we know we must die, why should we not live?"
Trimalchio "Ergo" inquit "cum sciamus nos morituros esse, quare non vivamus?"
An Exile's Lament
And many a tear I shed by the way,Id. 631-633 (Polynices speaking):
seeing after a weary while my home and the altars of the gods,
the training ground, scene of my childhood, and Dirce's founts
from which I was unjustly driven to sojourn in a strange city,
with tears ever gushing from mine eyes.
πολύδακρυς δ᾿ ἀφικόμην,
χρόνιος ἰδὼν μέλαθρα καὶ βωμοὺς θεῶν
γυμνάσιά θ᾿ οἷσιν ἐνετράφην Δίρκης θ᾿ ὕδωρ·
ὧν οὐ δικαίως ἀπελαθεὶς ξένην πόλιν
ναίω, δι᾿ ὄσσων νᾶμ᾿ ἔχων δακρύρροον.
369-370 del. West
370 νᾶμ᾿ Musgrave: ὄμμ᾿ vel αἵμ' codd.
Farewell, king Phoebus, lord of highways; farewell palaceMastronarde on line 631:
and comrades; farewell ye statues of the gods, at which men offer sheep;
for I know not if I shall ever again address you.
καὶ σύ, Φοῖβ᾿ ἄναξ Ἀγυιεῦ, καὶ μέλαθρα, χαίρετε,
ἥλικές θ᾿ οὑμοί, θεῶν τε δεξίμηλ᾿ ἀγάλματα.
οὐ γὰρ οἶδ᾿ εἴ μοι προσειπεῖν αὖθις ἔσθ᾿ ὑμᾶς ποτε.
According to Liddell-Scott-Jones, δεξίμηλος occurs only in Euripides. Diccionario Griego–Español adds some examples from the lexicographers.
Cf. id. 406 (Jocasta speaking):
Man's dearest treasure then, it seems, is his country.
ἡ πατρίς, ὡς ἔοικε, φίλτατον βροτοῖς.
Saturday, September 09, 2017
Aversion to Study and to Studious People
But the other reason I gave is equally important: the weakness or absence, in most people, of any passion for thought and learning. Most people find their own lives quite interesting enough, in fact painfully interesting, without putting themselves to the pains which are inseparable from getting entrée into physics or philosophy or philology. To sit quietly alone for hours, thinking about some difficult question, in which you yourself have nothing to gain or lose—this is how some of us spend much of our lives, but to most people it is a purgatorial prospect. Noise, company, joint occupation, the excitements of war or power or money or sex or sport: these are the things which make up most people's idea of time well spent.
But in most people there is not merely an absence of studious inclinations: there is a positive aversion to studious people. This aversion is at some periods overt, at other periods covert, but it never dies out entirely. Its roots undoubtedly lie, as Hazlitt said in his essay on "The Disadvantages of Intellectual Superiority" (1822), in fear: the immemorial fear of "cunning men." It is painful to recall that when Socrates was still interested in astronomy and meteorology, even his friend Aristophanes could not resist currying favor with the Athenian voters by ridiculing such inquiries. Jack Cade, in Shakespeare's Henry VI, has a clerk put to death for associating with people who use such disgusting words as "noun" and "verb." The revolutionary judge who sent Lavoisier to the guillotine in 1794 remarked with satisfaction that "The Republic has no need of chemists." Pol Pot was even more thorough than his teachers, Lenin, Marx, and Ho Chi Minh; under him, even an educated accent, or merely wearing spectacles, was a sufficient death-warrant.
History is full of scenes of studious people feeling the effects of this aversion which the non-studious have towards them. The mathematician-theologian Hypatia was butchered by a mob of Christian monks in fourth-century Alexandria; famous monastic libraries in England were burnt by Danish raiders in the ninth century; professors were hounded to death by Red Guards during the "Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution"; in our own universities twenty years ago, learning and teaching were disrupted, and professors intimidated, by chanting mobs of "anti-Vietnam" demonstrators; and so on. Now ask yourself: in all such cases, which side is more representative of ordinary humanity? Which side, the studious or their tormentors, stands for inclinations that are widespread, strong and steady in human beings, and which stands for inclinations that are rare or weak or intermittent? The question will answer itself.
Friday, September 08, 2017
Money Maketh Man
Take my word for it: if you have a penny, that is what you are worth; by what a man hath shall he be reckoned.Martin S. Smith, ed., Petronii Arbitri Cena Trimalchionis (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), p. 210:
credite mihi: assem habeas, assem valeas; habes, habeberis.
§ 6 assem habeas ...: 'if you've only got a penny, you're only worth a penny; if you've got something, you'll be thought something.' Cf. Apul. Apol. 23 'tanti re vera estis quantum habetis', Lucilius 1120M 'tantum habeas, tantum ipse sies tantique habearis', Otto s.v. habere (1).
71-77 (pp. 10-11):
ἀλλ᾿ ἴσθ᾿ ὁποία σοι δοκεῖ, κεῖνον δ᾿ ἐγὼThe translation omits ἐκεῖ γὰρ αἰεὶ κείσομαι (for there I shall lie forever) in line 77, but this omission is repaired in the Digital Loeb Classical Library version.
θάψω. καλόν μοι τοῦτο ποιούσῃ θανεῖν.
φίλη μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ κείσομαι, φίλου μέτα,
ὅσια πανουργήσασ᾿· ἐπεὶ πλείων χρόνος 75
ὃν δεῖ μ᾿ ἀρέσκειν τοῖς κάτω τῶν ἐνθάδε·
ἐκεῖ γὰρ αἰεὶ κείσομαι.
Do you be the kind of person you have decided to be, but I shall bury him! It is honourable for me to do this and die. I am his own and I shall lie with him who is my own, having committed a crime that is holy, for there will be a longer span of time for me to please those below than there will be to please those here.
398-400 (pp. 38-39):
καὶ νῦν, ἄναξ, τήνδ᾿ αὐτός, ὡς θέλεις, λαβὼνThe translation omits ὡς θέλεις (as you wish) in line 398. This omission persists in the Digital Loeb Classical Library version.
καὶ κρῖνε κἀξέλεγχ᾿· ἐγὼ δ᾿ ἐλεύθερος
δίκαιός εἰμι τῶνδ᾿ ἀπηλλάχθαι κακῶν. 400
And now, king, take her yourself and judge her and convict her; but I am free, and have the right to be released from these troubles!
423-428 (pp. 40-41):
ἡ παῖς ὁρᾶται κἀνακωκύει πικρῶςThe translation omits ψιλὸν ὡς ὁρᾷ νέκυν (when she saw the corpse laid bare) in line 426, but this omission is repaired in the Digital Loeb Classical Library version.
ὄρνιθος ὀξὺν φθόγγον, ὡς ὅταν κενῆς
εὐνῆς νεοσσῶν ὀρφανὸν βλέψῃ λέχος· 425
οὕτω δὲ χαὔτη, ψιλὸν ὡς ὁρᾷ νέκυν,
γόοισιν ἐξῴμωξεν, ἐκ δ᾿ ἀρὰς κακὰς
ἠρᾶτο τοῖσι τοὔργον ἐξειργασμένοις.
[W]e saw the girl; she cried out bitterly, with a sound like the piercing note of a bird when she sees her empty nest robbed of her young; just so did she cry out, weeping, and called down curses on those who had done the deed.
653-654 (pp. 64-65):
ἀποπτύσας οὖν ὥστε δυσμενῆ μέθεςSome readers might have to look up the word respue (marked as obsolete in the Oxford English Dictionary and defined there as "To reject strongly. Also: (lit.) to spit out.").
τὴν παῖδ᾿ ἐν Ἅιδου τήνδε νυμφεύειν τινί.
So respue this girl as an enemy and allow her to marry someone in Hades!
1337-1338 (pp. 124-125):
μή νυν προσεύχου μηδέν· ὡς πεπρωμένηςThe translation omits πεπρωμένης (fated, destined, modifying συμφορᾶς = calamity) in line 1337, but this omission is repaired in the Digital Loeb Classical Library version.
οὐκ ἔστι θνητοῖς συμφορᾶς ἀπαλλαγή.
Utter no prayers now! There is no escape from calamity for mortals.
Time is sharp-toothed,D.L. Page, ed., Further Greek Epigrams (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), p. 302:
and he grinds up all things, even the mightiest.
ὅ τοι Χρόνος ὀξὺς ὀδόντας,
καὶ πάντα ψήχει καὶ τὰ βιαιότατα.
2 Pierson: ψύχει, ψύχη codd. | πάντα καταψήχει Bergk | κὰπ πάντα ψήχει West
Thursday, September 07, 2017
I Was Blind But Now I See
I'm all alone, and nobody is hereText, apparatus, and notes of Kassel and Austin:
To hang on any words of mine that may
Be dropped. Sirs, I was dead all through the life
I've lived till now. You must believe this claim.
To me all beauty, virtue, piety 5
Were all alike—vice, too! Such was the dark
Cloud blanketing my mind, or so it seems.
It shrouded and blacked out all this for me.
But here I've come now, like a patient on his bed
In hospital when he's been cured! I'm born again 10
To live my future life. I walk and talk
And think. This great and glorious sun I’ve now
Discovered. In today's clear light I can
See you now, gentlemen, I see blue sky,
And the Acropolis, the theatre. 15
ἐρημία μέν ἐστι, κοὐκ ἀκούσεται
οὐδεὶς παρών μου τῶν λόγων ὧν ἂν λέγω.
ἐγὼ τὸν ἄλλον, ἄνδρες, ἐτεθνήκειν βίον
ἅπανθ᾿ ὃν ἔζων· τοῦτό μοι πιστεύετε.
πᾶν ταὐτὸ τὸ καλόν, τἀγαθόν, τὸ σεμνὸν <ἦν>, 5
τὸ κακόν. τοιοῦτον ἦν τί μου πάλαι σκότος
περὶ τὴν διάνοιαν, ὡς ἔοικε, κείμενον,
ὃ πάντ᾿ ἔκρυπτε ταῦτα κἠφάνιζέ μοι.
νῦν δ᾿ ἐνθάδ᾿ ἐλθών, ὥσπερ εἰς Ἀσκληπιοῦ
ἐγκατακλιθεὶς σωθείς τε, τὸν λοιπὸν χρόνον 10
ἀναβεβίωκα. περιπατῶ, λαλῶ, φρονῶ.
τὸν τηλικοῦτον καὶ τοιοῦτον ἥλιον
νῦν τοῦτον εὗρον, ἄνδρες· ἐν τῇ τήμερον
ὑμᾶς ὁρῶ νῦν αἰθρίᾳ, τὸν ἀέρα,
τὴν ἀκρόπολιν, τὸ θέατρον. 15
See Bronwen L. Wickkiser, "A Monologue of New Comedy on the Athenian Stage (PCG VIII 1001)," Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 50 (2010) 159-173.
Wednesday, September 06, 2017
All men are fools who by warA.C. Pearson ad loc.:
and the spear of stout-heart battle
acquire renown for valor, foolishly winning release from toil in death.
If contests of blood shall always decide, never will strife
cease among the cities of men.
ἄφρονες ὅσοι τὰς ἀρετὰς πολέμῳ
λόγχαισί τ᾿ ἀλκαίου δορὸς
κτᾶσθ᾿, ἀμαθῶς θανάτῳ πόνους καταλυόμενοι.
εἰ γὰρ ἅμιλλα κρινεῖ νιν αἵματος, οὔποτ᾿ ἔρις 1155
λείψει κατ᾿ ἀνθρώπων πόλεις.
1152-1153 λόγχαισί τ᾿ ἀλκαίου δορὸς κτᾶσθε Headlam: κτᾶσθε δορός τ᾿ ἀλκαίου λόγχαισι L
1153-1154 ἀ- θανάτῳ πόνους κατα- Willink: κατα- πόνους θνατῶν ἀ- L: πόνους ἀ- θνατῶν κατα- Headlam | ἀμαθῶς Tyrwhitt: ἀπ- L | καταλυόμενοι Herwerden: -παυόμενοι L
1155-1156 κρινεῖ Heath: κρίνει L
I don't have access to William Allan's commentary (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).
In line 1152, λόγχαισι are literally spear heads, δορός a spear shaft.
Tuesday, September 05, 2017
The Price of Power
To me the bicycle is in many ways a more satisfactory invention than the automobile. It is consonant with the independence of man because it works under his own power entirely. There is no combustion of some petroleum product from Venezuela to set the pedals going. Purely mechanical instruments like watches and bicycles are to be preferred to engines that depend on the purchase of power from foreign sources. You can be more independent, and therefore more of a man, in a sailing vessel than in a power-driven boat. In the former you can still keep going if the national or international economy breaks down. You need not trouble yourself about legislative enactments for the exchange of goods and services, about international treaty arrangements for which your life is hostage. The price of power, on the other hand, is enslavement.
A more humane exponent of English ethics was Archdeacon [James L.] Garland, who lived here [in Isfahan] thirty years. During that time, he used to say, he made one convert. She was an old woman, who was ostracized for her apostasy, so that on her deathbed the Archdeacon was the only friend she could send for. She had one last request, she told him.
'What is it?' asked the Archdeacon, anxious to ease his protégée's last moments.
'Please summon a mullah.'
He did so, and repeated the story afterwards.
Monday, September 04, 2017
No Soliciting Sign for My Front Door
So go to some other house, not this one.Related post: A Recluse.
οἶκον πρὸς ἄλλον νύν τιν᾿ ἀντὶ τοῦδ᾿ ἴθι.
Ancien Régime and Revolution
The revolution began with a drastic purge, a thorough guillotining of the classical curriculum, wherever found. Such Greek and Latin as escaped the Reign of Terror was left to die of inanition in dens and caves of the earth, such as the school and college I attended. The elective system came in as a substitute, proposing instruction in omni re scibili as its final consummation. During a visit to Germany, the president of Harvard, Mr. Eliot, had taken note that the elective system was working well in German universities, and he saw no reason why it should not work as well in an undergraduate college like Harvard, so he introduced it there. The country promptly carried his logic to its full length. If the thing was good for the university, good for the college, why not for the secondary school, why not for the primary school? Why not try a tentative dab at its being good for the kindergarten?—surely in a free democracy the free exercise of self-expression and the development of an untrammelled personality can hardly begin too young.Id., pp. 88-89:
So the old régime's notion that education is in its nature selective, the peculium of a well-sifted élite, was swept away and replaced by the popular notion that everybody should go to school, college, university, and should have every facility afforded for studying anything that any one might choose.
The theory of the revolution was based on a flagrant popular perversion of the doctrines of equality and democracy. Above all things the mass-mind is most bitterly resentful of superiority. It will not tolerate the thought of an élite; and under a political system of universal suffrage, the mass-mind is enabled to make its antipathies prevail by sheer force of numbers. Under this system, as John Stuart Mill said, the test of a great mind is its power of agreement with the opinions of small minds; hence the intellectual tone of a society thus hamstrung is inevitably set by such opinions. In the prevalent popular view, therefore,—the view insisted upon and as far as possible enforced by the mass-men whom the masses instinctively cleave to and choose as leaders,—in this view the prime postulate of equality is that in the realm of the spirit as well as of the flesh, everybody is able to enjoy anything that anybody can enjoy; and the prime postulate of democracy is that there shall be nothing for anybody to enjoy that is not open for everybody to enjoy. An equalitarian and democratic regime must by consequence assume, tacitly or avowedly, that everybody is educable.
The theory of our régime was directly contrary to this. Our preceptors did not see that doctrines of equality and democracy had any footing in the premises. They did not pretend to believe that everybody is educable, for they knew, on the contrary, that very few are educable, very few indeed. They saw this as a fact in the order of nature, like the fact that few are six feet tall. Instead of regarding the thought of an élite with the mass-man's dogged, unintelligent, invincibly suspicious resentment, they accepted it as pointing to a fixture in nature's established order. They accepted the fact that there are practicable ranges of intellectual and spiritual experience which nature has opened to some and closed to others. They may or may not have wished that nature had managed otherwise, but saw quite clearly that she had not done so. There the fact was, and all that could be done about it was to take it as it stood. If any irrelevant doctrine of equality or democracy chose to set itself against the fact, so much the worse for the doctrine.
Sunday, September 03, 2017
No Monopoly on Truth or Wisdom
For true things have been said on both sides.
εὖ γὰρ εἴρηται διπλῇ.
When a child, I was permitted to handle on Sunday certain books which could not be exposed to the more careless usage of common days; volumes finely illustrated, or the more handsome editions of familiar authors, or works which, merely by their bulk, demanded special care. Happily, these books were all of the higher rank in literature, and so there came to be established in my mind an association between the day of rest and names which are the greatest in verse and prose. Through my life this habit has remained with me; I have always wished to spend some part of the Sunday quiet with books which, at most times, it is fatally easy to leave aside, one's very knowledge and love of them serving as an excuse for their neglect in favour of print which has the attraction of newness. Homer and Virgil, Milton and Shakespeare; not many Sundays have gone by without my opening one or other of these. Not many Sundays? Nay, that is to exaggerate, as one has the habit of doing. Let me say rather that, on many a rest-day I have found mind and opportunity for such reading. Nowadays mind and opportunity fail me never. I may take down my Homer or my Shakespeare when I choose, but it is still on Sunday that I feel it most becoming to seek the privilege of their companionship. For these great ones, crowned with immortality, do not respond to him who approaches them as though hurried by temporal care. There befits the garment of solemn leisure, the thought attuned to peace. I open the volume somewhat formally; is it not sacred, if the word have any meaning at all? And, as I read, no interruption can befall me. The note of a linnet, the humming of a bee, these are the sounds about my sanctuary. The page scarce rustles as it turns.