Tuesday, July 31, 2018


Long Live Greece!

Basil L. Gildersleeve (1831-1924), "My Sixty Days in Greece, I: The Olympic Games Old and New," Atlantic Monthly Vol. 79, No. 472 (February, 1897) 199-212 (at 210-211):
Sitting in one's study, it was easy enough to wax eloquent, or at any rate to wax emphatic, on the spirit of the old contests, the spirit that had flown never to return, and it was not surprising that a student should see naught in the projected games but the every-day desire for the mastery that stirs every man child born into the world, —a desire which is by no means a religious feeling. Yet the consecration was there. Even in the old times when Zeus was the patron deity, the contestant strove for his people, his canton, his city; and while the poet of the games gives due honor to the god of the games, he does not forget the claims of the land of the victor. This is the consecration that has remained after the other has passed away, and the cry "Zíto i Ellás!" (Long live Greece!) hallowed the new Olympic games, and gave them the sacredness that they would otherwise have lacked.

As I heard that cry on every hand caught up and thundered forth in the great torchlight procession even by those who knew no other Greek, I could not keep from reflecting on the disadvantage under which we Americans labor in the matter of a cry. "Hurrah for America" is too wide a call. "Hurrah for the United States" is too formal. Do people hurrah for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland? In fact, apart from campaign cries, in which the candidates figure, the real enthusiasm of American devotion is perhaps to be heard only in the college yell. The college yell is really a remarkable return to an early form of worship, and deserves closer study than it has received at the hands of anthropologists; but I must confess that the articulate Greek cry appealed to me more forcibly, though the Greeks themselves, recognizing the Olympic spirit of the American yell, did their best to imitate it as a return for the ""Zíto i Ellás," which the foreigners were so quick to catch.

Monday, July 30, 2018


Imagining Violence

Paul Valéry (1871-1945), Collected Works, Vol. 14: Analects, tr. Stuart Gilbert (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970), pp. 49-50:
This fly is pestering me, and I kill it. That branch is scratching me, I break it. Crimes, in their spontaneous conception, are like these gestures and that is why men's minds are often stocked with images of crimes about most of which they don't even stop to think, though they get a furtive pleasure out of them.

Every ideal, every desire always involves, just below the surface, a number of exterminations and violences done to others—so much so that if a man wanted to rid himself of them entirely, he would have to kill himself.

Religions, nations, sects, political parties—all are like this. Every political program visualizes, first and foremost, mass shootings; then universal happiness.

Here we have a normal activity of the mind, which translates every desire and need (whether personal or relating to the world at large) into an image in which it sees them gratified; and, among the mental pictures of acts or events that would give satisfaction, includes the executions they inevitably call for.

Cette mouche m'irrite, je la supprime. Cette branche me pique, je la brise. Les crimes ne sont pas autre chose, dans leur conception spontanée : Les hommes sont facilement plein d'images de crimes, dont la plupart même ne les font pas réflechir, quoique distraitement ils s'y plaisent.

Tout idéal, tout désir implique toujours, à une faible profondeur, nombre de suppressions et de violations d'autre êtres, tellement que celui qui voudrait s'en épurer tout à fait, se supprimerait soi-même.

Religions, nations, sectes, partis, tous sont ainsi. Toute politique voit avant tout des fusillades massives, puis, le bonheur universel...

—C'est là une activité ordinaire de l'esprit, qui traduit chaque besoin ou désir dans une image où il les satisfait suivant le monde et le corps, et parmi toutes ces représentations des actes ou des événements qui procureraient la satisfactions, les éxecutions nécéssaires.


Know-It-Alls and Pundits

Vauvenargues (1715-1747), Reflections and Maxims, no. 638 (tr. F.G. Stevens):
I should heartily approve universal knowledge, if man were capable of it; but I respect more highly a joiner who knows his job than a babbler who thinks he knows everything, and understands nothing.

J'approuverais fort la science universelle, si les hommes en étaient capables; mais j'estime plus un menuisier, qui sait son métier, qu'un bavard, qui pense tout savoir, et qui ne possède rien.


Identikits for Thoughtcrime

Brent D. Shaw, Sacred Violence: African Christians and Sectarian Hatred in the Age of Augustine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), p. 308 (footnotes omitted):
It is the writings of Epiphanius, the bishop of Salamis in Cyprus, in the 370s that especially mark the new phase of energetic concern with heresy that configured much ecclesiastical and theological writing in the later fourth and early fifth centuries. His ideas were to have considerable repercussions in the Latin West. This second anti-heretical movement was characterized by a determined drive to identify heretics: to develop systematic identikits to identify the hated enemies of right thinking. This late fourth-century interest in heresies had its own style. It was different both in kind and extent from the earlier anti-heretical movement. The big concern of the later age was not so much one of internal ideological defense and cleansing of a single threatening idea as it was with the identification of a wide range of various types of external pseudo-Christian enemies. Rather than the extensive and detailed theological treatise, it is the heresy list that is the characteristic document of the second movement devoted to hunting down the enemies of the true church.
Id., p. 309:
This later tradition produced extensive hit lists of heresies, lists that were meant to provide quick identity profiles by which concerned believers could recognize any one of the variegated host of enemies that the orthodox faced....[T]he bishop Epiphanius, a converted Jew, seated at Salamis on the island of Cyprus, found himself located at the epicenter of a vast circuit of lands and heresies that surrounded him. The striking panorama of heretical species that he could spy from this vantage point set his Linnaean instincts alight. With a fervour that helped fire the age, he began categorizing, labeling, and describing them in his Panarion — a Medicine Box because it was intended to be a doctor's medical bag filled with the medicaments necessary to cure the poisonous infections of wrong belief.

Sunday, July 29, 2018


Imaginary Beings

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), Human, All Too Human, I.3, § 129 (tr. R.J. Hollingdale):
Forbidden generosity. — There is not enough love and goodness in the world for us to be permitted to give any of it away to imaginary things.

Verbotene Freigebigkeit. — Es ist nicht genug Liebe und Güte in der Welt, um noch davon an eingebildete Wesen wegschenken zu dürfen.


Telling the Future

Euripides, Helen 753-757 (tr. David Kovacs):
One should sacrifice to the gods and ask for blessings but leave prophecy alone. That invention is one of life's foolish traps. No idle man ever got rich by looking at burnt offerings. The best way to tell the future is to be intelligent and plan ahead.

                                            τοῖς θεοῖσι χρὴ
θύοντας αἰτεῖν ἀγαθά, μαντείας δ᾿ ἐᾶν·
βίου γὰρ ἄλλως δέλεαρ ηὑρέθη τόδε,        755
κοὐδεὶς ἐπλούτησ᾿ ἐμπύροισιν ἀργὸς ὤν·
γνώμη δ᾿ ἀρίστη μάντις ἥ τ᾿ εὐβουλία.
William Allan, commentary ad loc.:

Saturday, July 28, 2018



Vauvenargues (1715-1747), Reflections and Maxims, no. 382 (tr. F.G. Stevens):
Our peasants love their villages. The Romans were ardent patriots, when Rome was a mere township. When it became more powerful, their patriotism was not so keen. A city that was mistress of the world was too vast for the hearts of its citizens. Men are not made to love immensity.

Nos paysans aiment leurs hameaux; les Romains étaient passionnés pour leur patrie, pendant que ce n'était qu'une bourgade; lorsqu'elle devint plus puissante, l'amour de la patrie ne fut plus si vif; une ville, maîtresse de l'univers, était trop vaste pour le coeur de ses habitants. Les hommes ne sont pas nés pour aimer les grandes choses.
Related posts:


Dulce Galaesi Flumen

Horace, Odes 2.6 (tr. Niall Rudd):
Septimius, you would go with me to Cadiz, and to the Cantabrian who has not yet learned to bear our yoke, and to the wild Syrtes where the Moorish surf boils for ever.

Let me have Tibur, founded by an Argive settler, as the home of my old age; let that mark the end for one who is weary of the sea and of marching and fighting.

If the Fates are unkind enough to deny me that spot, I shall make for the river Galaesus (so sweet to the sheep in their leather jackets), and for the countryside once ruled by the Spartan Phalanthus.

For me that corner of the world smiles more invitingly than all others. There the honey is not inferior to Hymettus, and the olive rivals green Venafrum;

there Jove sends a long spring and mild winters, and Aulon, a valley beloved of prolific Bacchus, has no cause whatever to envy the grapes of Falernum.

That place with its happy stronghold beckons to you and me; there you will duly drop a tear on the warm ashes of your poetic friend.

Septimi, Gadis aditure mecum et
Cantabrum indoctum iuga ferre nostra et
barbaras Syrtis, ubi Maura semper
    aestuat unda,

Tibur Argeo positum colono        5
sit meae sedes utinam senectae,
sit modus lasso maris et viarum

unde si Parcae prohibent iniquae,
dulce pellitis ovibus Galaesi        10
flumen et regnata petam Laconi
    rura Phalantho.

ille terrarum mihi praeter omnis
angulus ridet, ubi non Hymetto
mella decedunt viridique certat        15
    baca Venafro,

ver ubi longum tepidasque praebet
Iuppiter brumas, et amicus Aulon
fertili Baccho minimum Falernis
    invidet uvis.

ille te mecum locus et beatae        20
postulant arces; ibi tu calentem
debita sparges lacrima favillam
    vatis amici.
David West, Horace Odes II: Vatis Amici. Text, Translation and Commentary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), pp. 40-42:
Gades (Cadiz) is at the ends of the earth in the south-west corner of Spain beyond the pillars of Hercules. The Cantabrians in north Spain had always resisted the Romans. Augustus himself fought bitter campaigns against them in 26-25 BC, but they were not finally subdued until 20 BC by Agrippa. The Syrtes are the sandbanks on the Libyan coast, scene of the fearful storm of sand and sea at the beginning of Virgil's Aeneid, which was being written when his friend Horace produced these odes in 23 BC. Septimius would think nothing of going with his friend to any or all of those remote places, but this is a feint. Horace has something less arduous in mind.

Tibur is the wealthy and spectacularly beautiful resort up in the hills 15 miles east of Rome, not violent like Spain or barbarous like North Africa, but founded by Tiburnus from Argos, a farmer-settler, colonus, suggesting Greek civilization and rural peace. Horace sums up in lines 7-8. He is tired of travel by sea and land and wants no more to do with war. Those who know him will think of his voyages to Athens to complete his education; the voyage back on which he suggests in Odes 3.4.28 that he was nearly drowned off Cape Palinurus; the rigours of the journey to Brundisium of Satires 1.5 (but he must have taken many like it); and his traumatic involvement in the battle of Philippi, about which we shall hear in the next ode.

Failing Tibur, his second choice would be Tarentum, a colony of Sparta founded according to tradition by the Laconian Phalanthus in 708 BC (Laconia is the south-east area of the Peloponnese, governed by Sparta). Instead of the ever-seething ocean, he would have the Galaesus, a river sheep can drink from and find sweet (gala is the Greek for milk), and these are no ordinary sheep. Their wool was so precious that they wore leather coats to protect it. Herodotus gives an example of similar care in wool production in antiquity at 3.113.1-2, where he tells us that some Arabian sheep had such long tails that they were supported on wheeled trolleys. If any scepticism remains, it may be countered by the note in How and Wells's commentary, referring to the ovis stealopyga of Pallas in Asiatic Russia: 'Its tail is said in some cases to weigh over 70 lbs.; it is still at times protected by wheeled boards. (Woods, Natural History)'. Again, instead of violence Horace looks for a settled countryside; instead of barbarism, one of the ancient Greek foundations in south Italy, which was known as Magna Graecia, and one with honey as good as the fabled honey of Hymettus, the hill of Athens, olives as good as those from Venafrum in central Italy, and wine from the sheltered vineyards of Aulon (aulon is the Greek for a glen) as good as Falernian, one of the best of the Italian wines.
From a friend:
The photograph attached will show you what I was looking for and found this afternoon: after 2000 years, a locus not quite now so amoenus, with a busy autostrada passing almost overhead, a vast petrochemical complex not far behind, eucalyptus trees (which would have bemused Horace and Vergil) elbowing out the pines, and instead of jacketed sheep, a pair of vicious dogs belonging to the fishermen nearby, but for all that, the Galaesus hasn't entirely lost its charm.

Thursday, July 26, 2018


Train Up a Child in the Way He Should Go

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), Parerga und Paralipomena, Bd. II, Kap. XXVI (Psychologische Bemerkungen), § 344 (tr. R.J. Hollingdale):
Man excels all the animals even in his ability to be trained. Moslems are trained to turn their faces towards Mecca five times a day and pray: they do so steadfastly. Christians are trained to cross themselves on certain occasions, to genuflect, etc.; while religion in general constitutes the real masterpiece in the art of training, namely the training of the mental capacities — which, as is well known, cannot be started too early. There is no absurdity so palpable that one could not fix it firmly in the head of every man on earth provided one began to imprint it before his sixth year by ceaselessly rehearsing it before him with solemn earnestness. For the training of men, as of animals, can be completely successful only in early youth.

Sogar an Abrichtungsfähigkeit übertrifft der Mensch alle Thiere. Die Moslem sind abgerichtet, 5 Mal des Tages, das Gesicht gegen Mecka gerichtet, zu beten: thun es unverbrüchlich. Christen sind abgerichtet, bei gewissen Gelegenheiten ein Kreuz zu schlagen, sich zu verneigen u. dgl.; wie denn überhaupt die Religion das rechte Meisterstück der Abrichtung ist, nämlich die Abrichtung der Denkfähigkeit; daher man bekanntlich nicht früh genug damit anfangen kann. Es giebt keine Absurdität, die so handgreiflich wäre, daß man sie nicht allen Menschen fest in den Kopf setzen könnte, wenn man nur schon vor ihrem sechsten Jahre anfienge, sie ihnen einzuprägen, indem man unablässig und mit feierlichstem Ernst sie ihnen vorsagte. Denn, wie die Abrichtung der Thiere, so gelingt auch die des Menschen nur in früher Jugend vollkommen.



Vauvenargues (1715-1747), Reflections and Maxims, no. 160 (tr. F.G. Stevens):
The usual excuse of those who cause others trouble is that they wish them well.

Le prétexte ordinaire de ceux qui font le malheur des autres, est qu'ils veulent leur bien.


Prayer of Naevolus

Juvenal 9.137-146 (tr. G.G. Ramsay, slightly revised):
O my own little Lares, whom I am wont to supplicate with a pinch of frankincense or grain, or with a tiny garland, when can I assure myself of what will keep my old age from the beggar's staff and mat? Twenty thousand sesterces, well secured; some vessels of plain silver—yet such as Censor Fabricius would have condemned—and a couple of stout Moesian porters on whose hired necks I may be taken comfortably to my place in the bawling circus. Let me have besides a stooping engraver, and a painter who will quickly dash off any number of likenesses. That is enough.

o parvi nostrique Lares, quos ture minuto
aut farre et tenui soleo exorare corona,
quando ego figam aliquid, quo sit mihi tuta senectus
a tegete et baculo? viginti milia faenus        140
pigneribus positis, argenti vascula puri,
sed quae Fabricius censor notet, et duo fortes
de grege Moesorum, qui me cervice locata
securum iubeant clamoso insistere Circo;
sit mihi praeterea curvus caelator, et alter        145
qui multas facies pingit cito; sufficiunt haec.

143 locatum Heinrich
Related post: Little I Ask.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018


Divine Allies

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), Parerga und Paralipomena, Bd. II, Kap. XVIII (Einige mythologische Betrachtungen), § 208 (tr. R.J. Hollingdale):
If you cared to give scope to your imagination you could even adduce that the twofold-long night in which Zeus begot Heracles on Alcmene came about because further east Joshua at Jericho told the sun to stand still. Zeus and Jehovah were thus assisting one another: for the gods of Heaven are, like those of earth, always secretly in alliance. But how innocent was the pastime of Father Zeus compared with the bloodthirsty activities of Jehovah and his chosen brigands.

Man könnte sogar, wenn man dem Witz Spielraum gestatten wollte, anführen, daß die verdoppelt lange Nacht, in welcher Zeus mit der Alkmene den Herakles zeugte, dadurch entstand, daß weiter östlich Iosua vor Iericho die Sonne still stehen hieß. Zeus und Iehovah spielten so einander in die Hände: denn die Götter des Himmels sind, wie die irdischen, allezeit im Stillen befreundet. Aber wie unschuldig war die Kurzweil des Vaters Zeus im Vergleich mit dem blutdürstigen Treiben des Iehovah und seines auserwählten Räubervolks.


The Winter Sun

Vauvenargues (1715-1747), Reflections and Maxims, no. 159 (tr. F.G. Stevens):
The counsels of old age give light without warmth, like the winter sun.

Les conseils de la vieillesse éclairent sans échauffer, comme le soleil de l'hiver.


Keep a Stiff Upper Lip

Euripides, Helen 253-254 (tr. David Kovacs):
Your lot is painful, I admit. But it is best, you know,
to bear life's harsh necessities as lightly as you can.

ἔχεις μὲν ἀλγείν᾿, οἶδα· σύμφορον δέ τοι
ὡς ῥᾷστα τἀναγκαῖα τοῦ βίου φέρειν.
There is nothing corresponding to harsh in the Greek.

Euripides, Medea 1018 (tr. David Kovacs):
We mortals must bear misfortune with resignation.

κούφως φέρειν χρὴ θνητὸν ὄντα συμφοράς.
κούφως = lightly.

More parallels from Gennaro Tedeschi, Commento alla Medea di Euripide (Trieste: Università degli studi di Trieste, 2010), p. 189 (click to enlarge):

Tuesday, July 24, 2018


Recipe for Greatness

Aristophanes, Knights 180-181 (my translation):
It's for this very reason that you're going to be great,
because you're knavish and vulgar and arrogant.

δι᾿ αὐτὸ γάρ τοι τοῦτο καὶ γίγνει μέγας,
ὁτιὴ πονηρὸς κἀξ ἀγορᾶς εἶ καὶ θρασύς.


The Dull Horror of This Sedentary World

Henry W. Nevinson (1856-1941), The Plea of Pan (London: John Murray, 1901), pp. ix-x:
It may seem as though there were hardly room in the modern world for the few simple savages that still exist. They are survivals from an age not far remote in time, but irretrievable as the dinornis. Amid the drab security of civilisation they wander like captive Indians on parole. Present creeds and ideals do not greatly concern them. They have never been wholly dipt in urbanity, but are like the Celts of early days when British Christianity was at odds with heathendom, and high-hearted mothers left the right arms of their babies unchristened, so that they might strike the stronger blow. They long for the sun, the moon, the stars, and the desert air. In the midst of daily life, in sober streets where policemen rot at ease, in committee-rooms and on boards of education, in quiet rectories and legislative assemblies, a breath of the wilderness comes suddenly, and whispers in their ears. At once the dull horror of all this sedentary world is borne in upon them. The old spirit wakes and cries for the wings of the morning that it may fly away and bid sewage and civilisation go hang.
Walter Scott, Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, 5th ed., Vol. III (Edinburgh, 1821), p. 144:
In the Border counties of Scotland, it was formerly customary, when any rancorous enmity subsisted between two clans, to leave the right hand of male children unchristened, that it might deal the more deadly, or, according to the popular phrase, "unhallowed" blows, to their enemies. By this superstitious rite, they were devoted to bear the family feud, or enmity. The same practice subsisted in Ireland, as appears from the following passage in CHAMPION's History of Ireland, published in 1633. "In some corners of the land they used a damnable superstition, leaving the right armes of their infants, males, unchristened, (as they termed it,) to the end it might give a more ungracious and deadly blow."


A Very Dangerous State of Mind

Paul Valéry (1871-1945), Collected Works, Vol. 14: Analects, tr. Stuart Gilbert (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970), p. 35:
A very dangerous state of mind: thinking one understands.


Good Seed and Bad

Euripides, fragment 75 (tr. Christopher Collard and Martin Cropp):
Son of Creon, how true then it has proved,
that from noble fathers noble children are born,
and from base ones children resembling their father's nature.

ὦ παῖ Κρέοντος, ὡς ἀληθὲς ἦν ἄρα,
ἐσθλῶν ἀπ᾿ ἀνδρῶν ἐσθλὰ γίγνεσθαι τέκνα,
κακῶν δ᾿ ὅμοια τῇ φύσει τῇ τοῦ πατρός.
Euripides, fragment 215, lines 1-2 (tr. Christopher Collard and Martin Cropp; parenthesis in original):
I proclaim to all mankind:
father well-born children from (wives of) noble stock.

πᾶσι δ᾿ ἀγγέλλω βροτοῖς
ἐσθλῶν ἀπ᾿ ἀνδρῶν εὐγενῆ σπείρειν τέκνα.
I would definitely get rid of the parenthesis and perhaps translate σπείρειν (root meaning sow) as beget or engender.

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Monday, July 23, 2018


The Whole Hysterical Passing Show

Patrick Kavanagh (1904-1967), "Leave Them Alone":
There's nothing happening that you hate
That's really worthwhile slamming;
Be patient. If you only wait
You'll see time gently damning

Newspaper bedlamites who raised
Each day the devil's howl,
Versifiers who had seized
The poet's begging bowl.

The whole hysterical passing show
The hour apotheosized
Into a cul-de-sac will go
And be not even despised.


Death in Battle

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 3.6.6-9 (tr. C.C.W. Taylor):
And death is the most fearful thing; for it is the end, and it seems that for the dead nothing is good or bad any more. But the courageous person would not seem to be concerned with death in every circumstance, e.g. at sea or from illness. In which, then? Surely in the finest circumstances. Death in battle is of that kind; for it occurs amid the greatest and the finest danger.

φοβερώτατον δ᾿ ὁ θάνατος· πέρας γάρ, καὶ οὐδὲν ἔτι τῷ τεθνεῶτι δοκεῖ οὔτ᾿ ἀγαθὸν οὔτε κακὸν εἶναι. δόξειε δ᾿ ἂν οὐδὲ περὶ θάνατον τὸν ἐν παντὶ ὁ ἀνδρεῖος εἶναι, οἷον ἐν θαλάττῃ ἢ ἐν νόσοις. ἐν τίσιν οὖν; ἢ ἐν τοῖς καλλίστοις; τοιοῦτοι δὲ οἱ ἐν πολέμῳ· ἐν μεγίστῳ γὰρ καὶ καλλίστῳ κινδύνῳ.


De Gustibus

Paul Valéry (1871-1945), Collected Works, Vol. 14: Analects, tr. Stuart Gilbert (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970), p. 8:
Taste is made of a host of distastes.

Le goût est fait de mille dégoûts.


Not Just a Plain Old Plain

Euripides, Helen, Phoenician Women, Orestes. Edited and Translated by David Kovacs (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002 = Loeb Classical Library, 11), pp. 16-17 (Helen 56-58):
τί οὖν ἔτι ζῶ; θεοῦ τόδ᾿ εἰσήκουσ᾿ ἔπος
Ἑρμοῦ, τὸ κλεινὸν ἔτι κατοικήσειν πέδον
Σπάρτης σὺν ἀνδρί ...

Why then do I still live? I have heard a prophecy from the god Hermes that I shall one day live in Sparta's plain with my husband ...
In the Greek, πέδον has its epitheton ornans — κλεινὸν. It is famous, renowned. Cf. Euripides, Andromache 1085 (τὸ κλεινὸν ἤλθομεν Φοίβου πέδον) and Aristophanes, Wealth 772 (σεμνῆς Παλλάδος κλεινὸν πέδον). Richmond Lattimore translates:
Why do I go on living, then? Yet I have heard
from the god Hermes that I yet shall remake my home
in the famous plain of Sparta with my lord ...

Sunday, July 22, 2018


The Monkey Man

Heraclitus, fragment 83 (from Plato, Greater Hippias 289 b; tr. W.H.S. Jones):
The wisest human being will seem to be a monkey compared to a god in wisdom, beauty, and everything else.

ἀνθρώπων ὁ σοφώτατος πρὸς θεὸν πίθηκος φανεῖται καὶ σοφίᾳ καὶ κάλλει καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις πᾶσιν.


The Fragrance of Life Past

Paul Valéry (1871-1945), "Reception Address to the French Academy," Collected Works, Vol. 11: Occasions, tr. Roger Shattuck and Frederick Brown (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970), pp. 3-37 (at 21-22, on Anatole France):
He had long inhaled from books the fragrance of life past, pervaded with an odor of death, and his spirit, redistilling what history had distilled of itself, became gradually imbued with this refined essence of past centuries.

Il avait longuement respiré dans les livres les essences de la vie passée qui s'y mêlent à l'odeur de mort, et sa substance s'était imprégnée peu à peu du meilleur de ce que les siècles avaient déjà distillé de plus excellent.


I Don't Like These Improvements

Horace Kephart (1862-1931), Our Southern Highlanders (New York: Outing Publishing Company, 1913), pp. 380-382:
Here, then, is Appalachia: one of the great land-locked areas of the globe, more English in speech than Britain itself, more American by blood than any other part of America, encompassed by a high-tensioned civilization, yet less affected to-day by modern ideas, less cognizant of modern progress, than any other part of the English-speaking world.

Of course, such an anomaly cannot continue. Commercialism has discovered the mountains at last, and no sentiment, however honest, however hallowed, can keep it out. The transformation is swift. Suddenly the mountaineer is awakened from his eighteenth-century bed by the blare of steam whistles and the boom of dynamite. He sees his forests leveled and whisked away; his rivers dammed by concrete walls and shot into turbines that outpower all the horses in Appalachia. He is dazed by electric lights, nonplussed by speaking wires, awed by vast transfers of property, incensed by rude demands. Aroused, now, and wide-eyed, he realizes with sinking heart that here is a sudden end of that Old Dispensation under which he and his ancestors were born, the beginning of a New Order that heeds him and his neighbors not a whit.

All this insults his conservatism. The old way was the established order of the universe: to change it is fairly impious. What is the good of all this fuss and fury? That fifty-story building they tell about, in their big city—what is it but another Tower of Babel? And these silly, stuck-up strangers who brag and brag about "modern improvements"—what are they, under their fine manners and fine clothes? Hirelings all. Shrewdly he observes them in their relations to each other.—
"Each man is some man's servant; every soul
    Is by some other's presence quite discrowned."
Proudly he contrasts his ragged self: he who never has acknowledged a superior, never has taken an order from living man, save as a patriot in time of war. And he turns upon his heel. Yet, before he can fairly credit it as a reality, the lands around his own home are bought up by corporations. All about him, slash, crash, go the devastating forces. His old neighbors vanish. New and unwelcome ones swarm in. He is crowded, but ignored. His hard-earned patrimony is robbed of all that made it precious: its home-like seclusion, independence, dignity. He sells out, and moves away to some uninvaded place where he "will not be bothered."

"I don't like these improvements," said an old mountaineer to me. "Some calls them 'progress,' and says they put money to circulatin'. So they do; but who gits it?"
The quotation is from James Russell Lowell's poem "The Pioneer."

Saturday, July 21, 2018


A Decrease in Population, Divinely Willed

Euripides, Helen 36-40 (tr. David Kovacs):
Joined to these woes were further woes in turn, the plan of Zeus. He brought war upon the Greeks and the poor Trojans to relieve Mother Earth of the throng and press of humankind ...

                                                       τὰ δ᾿ αὖ Διὸς
βουλεύματ᾿ ἄλλα τοῖσδε συμβαίνει κακοῖς·
πόλεμον γὰρ εἰσήνεγκεν Ἑλλήνων χθονὶ
καὶ Φρυξὶ δυστήνοισιν, ὡς ὄχλου βροτῶν
πλήθους τε κουφίσειε μητέρα χθόνα ...


Barking Dogs

Heraclitus, fragment 97 (tr. W.H.S. Jones):
Dogs bark at whomever they do not know.

κύνες γὰρ καταβαύζουσιν ὧν ἂν μὴ γινώσκωσι.


Mighty Men of State

Roger Shattuck, Introduction to Collected Works of Paul Valéry, Vol. 11: Occasions (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970), p. xi:
François Valéry relates how his father at the family dinner table liked to refer to himself as a "government anarchist" and had blunt words for the mighty men of state he began to see more and more often: "They don't know any more than anyone else. They're all buffoons."

Friday, July 20, 2018


Our National Language

Thomas Davis (1814-1845), "Our National Language," Literary and Historical Essays (Dublin: James Duffy, 1865), pp. 173-182 (at 174-175):
A people without a language of its own is only half a nation. A nation should guard its language more than its territories—'tis a surer barrier, and more important frontier, than fortress or river.
Id. (at 175):
To lose your native tongue, and learn that of an alien, is the worst badge of conquest—it is the chain on the soul. To have lost entirely the national language is death; the fetter has worn through.
Id. (at 177-178):
Nothing can make us believe that it is natural or honourable for the Irish to speak the speech of the alien, the invader, the Sassenagh tyrant, and to abandon the language of our kings and heroes. What! give up the tongue of Ollamh Fodhla and Brian Boru, the tongue of M'Carty, and the O'Nials, the tongue of Sarsfield's, Curran's, Mathew's, and O'Connell's boyhood, for that of Strafford and Poynings, Sussex, Kirk, and Cromwell!

No, oh! no! "the brighter days shall surely come," and the green flag shall wave on our towers, and the sweet old language be heard once more in college, mart, and senate.

But, even should the effort to save it as the national language fail, by the attempt we will rescue its old literature, and hand down to our descendants proofs that we had a language as fit for love, and war, and business, and pleasure, as the world ever knew, and that we had not the spirit and nationality to preserve it!

Thursday, July 19, 2018


My Natural Inclination

Ovid, Amores 1.9.41 (tr. Grant Showerman):
For myself, my bent was all to dally in ungirt idleness.

ipse ego segnis eram discinctaque in otia natus.
Somewhat more literally:
I myself was lazy and born for careless leisure.
Alan Crease writes:
It's a pity that you don't include images because the recent Ovid extract could be perfectly illustrated by the great male role model, Al Bundy.

Related post: My True Nature.


The Fight

Heraclitus, fragment 44 (from Diogenes Laertius 9.2; tr. W.H.S. Jones):
The people must fight for their law just as for their city wall.

μάχεσθαι χρὴ τὸν δῆμον ὑπὲρ τοῦ νόμου ὅκωσπερ τείχεος.
See M. Marcovich, Heraclitus: Greek Text with a Short Commentary. Editio Maior (Merida: The Los Andes University Press, 1967), pp. 533-535.


A Love of Knowledge Is Gone

The Guy Davenport Reader, ed. Erik Reece (Berkeley: Counterpoint Press, 2013), p. 399 (from Journal II):
Our problem now is that nobody knows anything to begin with. A love of knowledge is gone, and with it curiosity and a critical eye. We have theory instead of perception, contentiousness instead of discussion, dogma instead of inquiry.
Id. (p. 401):
The emptier a room the smaller it seems. The same is true of minds as well.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018


Alter Ego

Editor's "Afterword: Remembering Guy Davenport," in Erik Reece, ed., The Guy Davenport Reader (Berkeley: Counterpoint Press, 2013), pp. 405-423 (at 416):
Friendship is really the dominant theme winding throughout his fiction. Heraclitus said that a friend is another self, and I think Guy was always looking for that elusive true friend, that other self.
But Heraclitus didn't say that a friend is another self, as least so far as I can tell. The expression doesn't occur in Davenport's own translation of the fragments of Heraclitus, in 7 Greeks (New York: New Directions, 1995), pp. 158-171. It seems to occur first in Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 9.4.5 (1066 a 32):
ἔστι γὰρ ὁ φίλος ἄλλος αὐτός.
See Renzo Tosi, Dictionnaire des sentences latines et grecques, tr. Rebecca Lenoir (Grenoble: Jérôme Millon, 2010), #471, pp. 382-384 (Alter ego).

Update from a learned reader:
That a friend is another self is a dictum Guy Davenport attributed to Pythagoras, a traditional attribution — Erasmus repeats it in Adages 1.1.2 — that suited his purposes in fiction. He translated it first in a list of Pythagorean dicta in "The Dawn in Erewhon" (Tatlin, p. 209). It turns up in other stories too (in "Badger" and "Wo es war, soll ich werden," The Drummer of the Eleventh North Devonshire Fusiliers, pp. 23 and 136), and as a theme it organizes many more. He mentions it in his criticism once that I recall (The Geography of the Imagination, p. 71).

I'd never thought to trace the citation before your post. There's at least one ancient source that makes the attribution: Porphyry's Life of Pythagoras 33. Porphyry writes that Pythagoras loved his friends to excess and that he was the first to declare that a friend is another self (τοὺς δὲ φίλους ὑπερηγάπα, κοινὰ μὲν τὰ τῶν φίλων εἶναι πρῶτος ἀποφηνάμενος, τὸν δὲ φίλον ἄλλον ἑαυτόν.) On the other hand, Diogenes Laertius attributes it to Zeno (ἐρωτηθεὶς τίς ἐστι φίλος, "ἄλλος," ἔφη, "ἐγώ" 7.23), and Aristotle seems to derive it from a proverb (Eudemian Ethics 1245a). Plutarch, On Having Many Friends 2 [93e] quotes the phrase but doesn't attribute it to anyone.
Hat tip: Eric Thomson, best friend and alter ego.



Classics at Shrewsbury School

Henry W. Nevinson (1856-1941), Between the Acts (London: John Murray, 1904), pp. 18-21:
The others were content to teach what they had learnt, and in the same manner. Most of them were Shrewsbury boys themselves, and because Greek had been taught there for more than three centuries, they taught Greek. Of course, we had Latin too, and up to the sixth form our time was equally divided between the two languages; but Latin, as being easier and rather more connected with modern life, never ranked so high, and we turned to it with the relief which most men feel when the ladies rise from the dinner-table. Latin prose, it is true, was thought more of than Greek prose, and no doubt there was some instinctive reason why. I suspect that in reality it is the more difficult; for it was the unconscious rule of our ancient tradition, that of two subjects the more difficult was the better worth learning, provided always that both were entirely useless.

Of Greek our knowledge was both peculiar and limited. We were allowed no devices to make the language in the least interesting, no designs, or pictures, or explanations. We had no idea what the Greek plays looked like on the stage, or why Demosthenes uttered those longwinded sentences. We knew nothing of the Dantesque pride underlying the tortured prose of Thucydides, and when a sixth-form master told us that the stupendous myth at the end of the Phaedo appeared to him singularly childish, we took no notice of the remark one way or the other. We only knew the passage was easy, just as Homer was easy, and the choruses hard. The greater part of the school believed that Greek literature was written as a graduated series of problems for Shrewsbury boys to solve, and when a sixth-form boy was asked by a new master whether he did not consider the Prometheus a very beautiful play, he replied that he thought it contained too many weak caesuras.

So there was nothing in the least artistic about our knowledge. No one expected to find either beauty or pleasure in what we read, and we found none. Nor were we scientific; we neither knew nor cared how the Greek words arose, or how the aorists grew, and why there were two of them, like Castor and Pollux. After all these things do the Germans seek, but us they never troubled. Our sole duty was to convert, with absolute precision, so much Greek into so much English. No possible shade of meaning or delicate inflection on the page was allowed to slide unnoticed. The phases of every mood with all its accompanying satellites were traced with the exactitude of astronomy. No one cared much about beauty of language provided the definite meaning was secure. Yet beauty sometimes came by accident, just as happiness comes, and I first learnt what style is from the renderings of the head-boy when he mounted the "rostrum." He was himself an antique Roman; his eagle nose, wide mouth, and massive chin, the low, broad brow, with black curls growing close to the square-backed head, were made to rule nations. But not long since he died in the serviceable obscurity of a mastership, for which his knowledge of Greek was his only qualification. It is true he was our captain of football, but he owed that position to his Greek rather than his play.

When as a new boy I was first taken for a walk out of bounds on a Sunday afternoon by one of the upper sixth, who is now an earthly saint, we went to a hillside with a long blue vision of western mountains, and while I had no thought or eyes for anything but them, he continued to talk quietly of Greek—the significance of various forms, the most telling way of turning this meaning or that, especially, I remember, the cunning idioms by which the idea of "self" might be rendered in verse, either with emphasis or modesty. So it was. The school breathed Greek, and through its ancient buildings a Greek wind blew. To enter head-room—a dim, panelled chamber which the upper sixth used as a study —was to become a scholar. I doubt if good Greek verse could be written anywhere else. Winged iambics fluttered through the air; they hung like bats along the shelves, and the dust fell in Greek particles.
Hat tip: Alan Crease.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018


The Present Age

Acts of the Apostles 2.40 (from Peter's Pentecost sermon; tr. Richmond Lattimore):
Be saved from this crooked generation.

Σώθητε ἀπὸ τῆς γενεᾶς τῆς σκολιᾶς ταύτης.


Lacrimae Rerum

Ibn Ḥazm of Cordoba, quoted in Christopher Dawson (1889-1970), Medieval Essays (1954; rpt. Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 2002), p. 114, with his note (accents added):
Thou weepest for the dead. Let him be. He is at peace. Weep rather for the living. He is more worthy of your tears. The dead man rests in his tomb: there is no need to mourn over his lot. But as for the living, who perishes every day at the hands of injustice, there is none to comfort him.9

9 Á. González Palencia, Historia de la Literatura Arábigo-Española, p. 58 (1928).


Root of All Good

Aristophanes, Wealth 144-145 (Chremylus speaking to Wealth; tr. Jeffery Henderson):
And what's more, it's through you that people have anything radiant, fine, or charming.

καὶ νὴ Δί᾿ εἴ τί γ᾿ ἐστὶ λαμπρὸν καὶ καλὸν
ἢ χαρίεν ἀνθρώποισι, διὰ σὲ γίγνεται.

Monday, July 16, 2018


Proposed Papal Powers

Selections from the Dictatus Papae attributed to Pope Gregory VII (tr. G.A. Loud):
IX. All princes shall kiss the feet of the Pope alone.

IX. Quod solius papae pedes omnes principes deosculentur.

XII. It may be permitted to him to depose emperors.

XII. Quod illi liceat imperatores deponere.

XIX. He himself may be judged by no one.

XIX. Quod a nemine ipse iudicari debeat.

XXVII. He may absolve subjects from their fealty to wicked men.

XXVII. Quod a fidelitate iniquorum subiectos potest absolvere.


A Greek Hexameter Consisting of Adjectives in Asyndeton

Homeric Hymn to Pan 37 consists entirely of a series of adjectives in asyndeton (my translation):
goat-footed, two-horned, loudly-ringing, sweetly-laughing

αἰγοπόδην δικέρωτα πολύκροτον ἡδυγέλωτα
For similar hexameter lines in Greek and Latin see:

Sunday, July 15, 2018


Sell All, Buy LXX Etc.

From John Stroup, Houston, to the July 8 item from and about Fred Danker

Fred Danker said this many times in his seminary teaching days in St. Louis as I recall, and certainly it was repeated by others often with Danker credited—though I don’t remember any discussion of the German original source. In Red Fred’s final examination in the NT theology course, 1971-72, the permitted helps were Nestle-Aland, the 2-vol. Rahlfs, and Schmoller’s Hand-Konkordanz. This course was conducted while Danker was more or less still under investigation for heresy by way of an extraordinary procedure—see his 1971 Under Investigation, if you can find a copy.

Rahlfs: here is oral tradition that I have from a participant in Rahlfs’s last (?) days of teaching There were five or six enrolled, and they followed the custom (this is Göttingen around 1930 or so, whenever he was failing but still hanging on, so not later than September of 1933) of reverently rapping on the desk by way of restrained applause before he started to speak after entering the room. He suffered some kind of medical episode connected with his eyes; class was continued at his house, probably Friedländer Weg 10, with one dropping out. The maid ushered the theological students in to the front parlor and they sat down. He then came in, slowly, and sat down. Nothing. He looked at them. They looked at him. Nothing. Then one grad student realized what was wrong and so started rapping with knuckles on the chair arm, with others joining in. So continued the interrupted course. Or so my aged source told me around 1976, and so I pass it along, filtered through details in Christian Schäfer’s book on Rahlfs.

Saturday, July 14, 2018


An Enjoyable and Civilized Existence

Christopher Dawson (1889-1970), Medieval Essays (1954; rpt. Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 2002), p. 31:
Even a comparatively remote and unimportant town like Timgad, in North Africa, possesses public buildings and monuments finer than those of many a modern city of vastly superior wealth and population. It had its theatres and amphitheatres in which free spectacles were provided for the entertainment of the people. It had porticoes and basilicas where the citizens could attend to public business or idle away their leisure time. It had baths and gymnasia, libraries and lecture halls, and temples which were not, like our churches, destined solely for religious worship, but were the centre of civic ceremonial and public festivities. There has probably never been an age in which the opportunities for living an enjoyable and civilized existence were so widely diffused. For the ancient city was not, like the average modern town, a factory, or a place of business; it existed for the enjoyment of its citizens and it was the centre of an active communal life, lived in public and at the public expense.


Never Bored

Li Po (701-762), "Sitting Alone by Ching-t'ing Mountain," tr. Stephen Owen, The Great Age of Chinese Poetry: The High T'ang (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981), p. 138:
The flocks of birds have flown high and away,
A solitary cloud goes off calmly alone.
We look at each other and never get bored—
Just me and Ching-t'ing Mountain.


A New Kind of Beauty

Christopher Dawson (1889-1970), Medieval Essays (1954; rpt. Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 2002), p. 184:
The rediscovery of the Middle Ages by the Romantics is an event of no less importance in the history of European thought than the rediscovery of Hellenism by the Humanists. It meant an immense widening of our intellectual horizon. To Boileau and Pope and their contemporaries the Middle Ages were simply a gap in the history of culture. They had no eyes for the beauty of medieval art and no ears for the melody of medieval verse. All this was restored to us by the Romantics. They went to the Middle Ages not in order to prove a case or to justify their political or religious beliefs, but because they found in them something utterly different from the world that they knew—the revelation of a new kind of beauty.

Friday, July 13, 2018


Ubi Sunt?

R.T. Davies, ed., Medieval English Lyrics: A Critical Anthology (Chicago: Northwestern University Press, 1964; rpt. 1988), pp. 56-57 (first four stanzas only):
Where beth they, beforen us weren,
Houndes ladden and havekes beren,
And hadden feld and wode?
The riche levedies in hoere bour,
That werenden gold in hoere tressour,
With hoere brighte rode?

Eten and drounken and maden hem glad;
Hoere lif was all with gamen ilad:
Men keneleden them beforen.
They beren hem well swithe heye,
And, in a twinkling of an eye,
Hoere soules weren forloren.

Where is that lawing and that song,
That trailing and that proude yong,
Tho havekes and tho houndes?
All that joye is went away,
That wele is comen to weylaway,
To manye harde stoundes.

Hoere paradis hy nomen here,
And now they lien in helle ifere:
The fuir it brennes evere;
Long is 'ay!' and long is 'ho!'
Long is 'wy!' and long is 'wo!'
Thennes ne cometh they nevere.
Modern English translation (ibid.):
Where are they who lived before us,
who led hounds and carried hawks,
and owned field and wood?
The great ladies in their chambers,
who wore gold in their head-bands
and whose faces shone?

They ate and drank and entertained themselves;
their life was spent wholly in pleasure:
men kneeled before them.
They carried themselves most proudly,
and, in the twinkling of an eye,
their souls were utterly lost.

Where is that laughter and that singing,
that trailing of garments, and that proud gait,
those hawks and those hounds?
All that joy has vanished,
that happiness has turned to misery
and many hard times.

They took their paradise here,
and now they lie in hell together:
the fire burns without end;
long lasts their 'ah!' and long their 'oh!'
long their 'alas! and long their 'woe!'—
they shall never come out of that place.


Fire and Fanaticism and Rivalry

G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936), The Return of Don Quixote, chapter III:
Few realise how much of controversial war and tumult can be covered by an obscure hobby. The fighting spirit has almost taken refuge in hobbies as in holes and corners of the earth; and left the larger public fields singularly dull and flat and free from real debate. It might be imagined that the Daily Wire was a slashing paper and the Review of Assyrian Excavation was a mild and peaceful one. But in truth it is the other way. It is the popular paper that has become cold and conventional, and full of clichés used without any conviction. It is the scholarly paper that is full of fire and fanaticism and rivalry.


A Simile

Alessandro Manzoni (1785-1873), I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed), chapter 38 (tr. Archibald Colquhoun):
Man (says our anonymous chronicler; and you already know by experience that he had rather a strange taste in similes, but bear with this one for it is likely to be the last), man, as long as he is in this world, is like an invalid lying on a more or less uncomfortable bed who sees other beds around him which look outwardly smooth, level, and better made, and imagines he would be very happy on them. But if he succeeds in changing, scarcely is he lying on the new bed than he begins, as his weight sinks in, to feel a piece of flax pricking into him here, and a lump pressing into him there; so that, in fact, he is more or less back where he started. And for this reason, adds our anonymous chronicler, we should think more of doing well rather than of faring well, and we will end by faring better too. This simile is somewhat far-fetched, laboured, and very seventeenth-century; but it is true in the main.

L'uomo (dice il nostro anonimo: e già sapete per prova che aveva un gusto un po' strano in fatto di similitudini; ma passategli anche questa, che avrebbe a esser l'ultima), l'uomo, fin che sta in questo mondo, è un infermo che si trova sur un letto scomodo più o meno, e vede intorno a sè altri letti, ben rifatti al di fuori, piani, a livello: e si figura che ci si deve star benone. Ma se gli riesce di cambiare, appena s'è accomodato nel nuovo, comincia, pigiando, a sentire qui una lisca che lo punge, lì un bernoccolo che lo preme: siamo in somma, a un di presso, alla storia di prima. E per questo, soggiunge l'anonimo, si dovrebbe pensare più a far bene, che a star bene: e così si finirebbe anche a star meglio. È tirata un po' con gli argani, e proprio da secentista; ma in fondo ha ragione.
Cf. Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837), Zibaldone, tr. Kathleen Baldwin et al. (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), p. 1759 (Z 4104, June 25, 1824):
Someone used to say that coming into this life, we are like a man who lies down on a hard bed. He feels uncomfortable in it, cannot keep still, he tosses and turns a hundred times. In various ways he endeavors to smoothe out, to soften, etc., the bed, always trying and hoping to be able to rest and get to sleep until, not having slept or feeling rested at all, the hour comes when he has to get up. Such and for a similar reason is our restlessness in life, our natural and justified discontent with every state; the efforts and exertions, etc., of a thousand different kinds to make ourselves comfortable and to soften this bed of ours a little; hopes of happiness or at least of some repose, and death which arrives before our hopes come to anything.

Il tale diceva che noi venendo in questa vita, siamo come chi si corica in un letto duro e incomodo, che sentendovisi star male, non vi può star quieto, e però si rivolge cento volte da ogni parte, e proccura in vari modi di appianare, ammollire ec. il letto, cercando pur sempre e sperando di avervi a riposare e prender sonno, finché senz'aver dormito né riposato vien l'ora di alzarsi. Tale e da simil cagione è la nostra inquietudine nella vita, naturale e giusta scontentezza d'ogni stato; cure, studi ec. di mille generi per accomodarci e mitigare un poco questo letto; speranza di felicità o almen di riposo, e morte che previen l'effetto della speranza.

Thursday, July 12, 2018


Prayer for the Dead

Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 1556-1578 (tr. Hugh Lloyd-Jones, with his notes):
If it is right for me to reverence with prayers the goddess in darkness and yourself, lord of those who dwell in night, Aidoneus, Aidoneus,a I pray that the stranger may arrive at the plain of the dead that holds all below and at the house of Styx without pain and with no grievous fate! For after many futile troubles have beset him, once more a just god would be exalting him.

O goddesses of earth,b and you, form of the invincible beast which, fame ever tells us, have your bed and growl from your cave in the gates passed through by many strangers, a guardian not to be subdued in Hades!c I pray, child of Earth and Tartarus,d that he may walk clear when the stranger comes to the plains of the dead below. On you I call, who are eternal sleep!

a A name for Hades; the names of Hades and Persephone, and other chthonic powers, were not often spoken.
b Demeter and Persephone were the chief goddesses of earth, but other powers, such as the Erinyes, might also be in mind. [But cf. Jebb ad loc.: "schol.Ἐρινύες. Hardly Demeter and Persephone (683), who would not be thus associated with the fell Cerberus."]
c Cerberus.
a Death.

εἰ θέμις ἐστί μοι τὰν ἀφανῆ θεὸν
καὶ σὲ λιταῖς σεβίζειν,
ἐννυχίων ἄναξ, Αἰδωνεῦ
Αἰδωνεῦ, λίσσομαι        1560
ἐπιπόνως μήτ᾿ ἐπὶ βαρυαχεῖ
ξένον ἐξανύσαι
μόρῳ τὰν παγκευθῆ κάτω νεκρῶν πλάκα
καὶ Στύγιον δόμον.
πολλῶν γὰρ ἂν καὶ μάταν        1565
πημάτων ἱκνουμένων
πάλιν σφε δαίμων δίκαιος αὔξοι.

ὦ χθόνιαι θεαί, σῶμά τ᾿ ἀνικάτου
θηρός, ὃν ἐν πύλαισι
ταῖσι πολυξένοις εὐνᾶσθαι        1570
κνυζεῖσθαί τ᾿ ἐξ ἄντρων
ἀδάματον φύλακα παρ᾿ Ἀίδᾳ
λόγος αἰὲν ἔχει.
τόν, ὦ Γᾶς παῖ καὶ Ταρτάρου, κατεύχομαι
ἐν καθαρῷ βῆναι        1575
ὁρμωμένῳ νερτέρας
τῷ ξένῳ νεκρῶν πλάκας·
σέ τοι κικλήσκω τὸν αἰὲν ὕπνον.
William Butler Yeats' very free version:
I call upon Persephone, queen of the dead,
And upon Hades, king of night, I call;
Chain all the Furies up that he may tread
The perilous pathway to the Stygian hall
And rest among his mighty peers at last,
For the entanglements of God are past.

Nor may the hundred-headed dog give tongue
Until the daughter of Earth and Tartarus
That even bloodless shades call Death has sung
The travel-broken shade of Oedipus
Through triumph of completed destiny
Into eternal sleep, if such there be.
It's almost like a propemptikon. Cf. the antiphon In Paradisum.

Some textual criticism:

Wednesday, July 11, 2018


I Was Not Led Astray

Ernst Haenchen (1894-1975), The Acts of the Apostles: A Commentary, tr. Bernard Noble et al. (Philadelphia, The Westminster Press, 1971), p. vii:
Probably neither of these things would have come about had I not had to travel to Switzerland for a cure in 1944. It was then strictly forbidden to take books across the frontier. Only in Davos did I discover that Nestle (thin-paper edition) had made the journey with me in my coat pocket. This was all I had when I began to occupy the time of my convalescence with some serious work. That was a great blessing. For when I now sought to penetrate more deeply into Acts, I was not led astray by any secondary literature which was primarily interested in Luke's sources. So I came quite independently to the question what the author of Acts had wanted to say to his readers through the varied scenes of his book, and I sought myself to become his reader.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018


A Cause of Fear

Origen, Against Celsus 5.35 (tr. Henry Chadwick, with his note):
And I have not yet said anything of those Egyptians who shiver with fear at the trivial physical experience of flatulence.1

1 Cf. Minucius Felix, XXVIII, 9 'Idem Aegyptii cum plerisque vobis non magis Isidem quam ceparum acrimonias metuunt, nec Serapidem magis quam strepitus per pudenda corporis expressos contremescunt.' Jerome, Comm. in Isai. XIII, 46 (Migne, P.L. XXIV, 467 A): '... ut taceam de formidoloso et horribili cepe et crepitu ventris inflati, quae Pelusiaca religio est.' Clem. Hom. X, 16; Clem. Recog. V, 20; Theophilus, ad Autol. I, 10. For the onion cf. Pliny, N.H. XIX, 101; Plutarch ap. Gellius, N.A. XX, 8, 7; Mor. 353F; Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech. VI, 10. Discussion in T. Hopfner, Plutarch über Isis und Osiris (Monographien des Archiv Orientálni IX, Prague, 1940), I, pp. 71-2; A.B. Cook, Zeus II (1925), PP. 986-7.
The Greek:
Καὶ οὔπω λέγω περὶ τῶν τὰς τοῦ σώματος φλυαρίας ἐν φύσαις φριττόντων τῶν Αἰγυπτίων.
φλυαρίας literally = babblings, fooleries. I can't find the meaning flatulence in any of the dictionaries.

Jim Sullivan per litteras:
You are right about φλυαρία "chattering". But the flatulence is the phrase ἐν φύσαις from ἡ φῦσα "bellows", which in the plural means "flatus".
Related posts:



Prayer of an Old Man

[Homer], Epigrams 12, from [Herodotus], On Homer's Origins, Date, and Life 30 (tr. Martin L. West):
Hear my prayer, Kourotrophos, and grant that this woman
refuse the love and bed of younger men:
let her fancy be taken by old men grey at the temples,
whose vigor is blunted away, though their hearts still hanker.

κλῦθί μοι εὐχομένωι, Κουροτρόφε, δὸς δὲ γυναῖκα
τήνδε νέων μὲν ἀνήνασθαι φιλότητα καὶ εὐνήν,
ἣ δ᾿ ἐπιτερπέσθω πολιοκροτάφοισι γέρουσιν,
ὧν ὥρη μὲν ἀπήμβλυνται, θυμὸς δὲ μενοινᾶι.
Related post: An Old Man's Prayer.

Monday, July 09, 2018


I and the World Are Done With Each Other

Meng Hao-jan (689-740), "Seeking the Monk Chan on Fragrance Mountain," tr. Stephen Owen, The Great Age of Chinese Poetry: The High T'ang (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981), pp. 77-78:
At dawn I wandered to visit a famous mountain.
The mountain was far, set in blue mists of sky,
Its swelling vapors covered a hundred miles,
And I just arrived as the sun went down.
I heard a bell's sound at valley's mouth,
By wood's edge recognized incense in air.
So staff in hand, I sought my old friend,
Ungirthing my saddle, halted my mount for a while.
By the gate of stone a sheer ravine falls off sharply,
And the path through bamboo grew darker, deeper.
Dharma's companion rejoices meeting me,
In speculative discussion we do not sleep.
All my life I have yearned for true reclusion,
Days on end sought wonders beyond this world:
Here old peasants enter their fields at dawn,
And mountain monks return to their temples at night.
Clear sounds come from pine-shaded springs,
Mossy walls filled with ancient truths.
I will lodge on this mountain forever—
I and the world are done with each other.
The same, tr. Daniel Bryant with his notes, in Victor H. Mair, ed., The Shorter Columbia Anthology of Traditional Chinese Literature (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), p. 88:
On a morning ramble I visit a great mountain,
The mountain far away in the empty azure.
Billowing mist spreads over a hundred leagues;
As the sun goes down I reach my goal at last.
At the valley's mouth I hear a bell sound;
By the wood's edge scent a breath of incense.
Leaning on my staff, I seek an old friend;
Having loosened the saddle, give my mount a rest.
The stone gate is hard by a chasm's brink;
A bamboo-lined path winds through the forest depths.
I enjoy meeting with a "Companion in the Law";1
In "Pure Talk"2 we stay up until dawn.
All my life I have respected true reclusion,
For days on end sought spiritual mysteries.
An old rustic goes to his fields at dawn;
A mountain monk returns to his temple in the evening.
There are many pure notes in pines and streams;
These moss-grown walls are wrapped in a feeling of antiquity.
How I would like to retire to this very mountain,
"Casting off both self and world alike."

1. Someone who pursues a religious, usually Buddhist, life.
2. Abstruse, witty discourse that is often associated with Taoists.


Fanning the Flames

Alessandro Manzoni (1785-1873), I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed), chapter 13 (tr. Archibald Colquhoun):
In all popular tumults there are always a certain number of men who, either from excited passions, or fanatical conviction, or evil intentions, or just from a cursed taste for disorder, do all they can to push things as far as possible: they propose and support the wildest suggestions, and fan the flames whenever they begin to languish: they want the riot to burst all bounds and restraint.

Ne' tumulti popolari c'è sempre un certo numero d'uomini che, o per un riscaldamento di passione, o per una persuasione fanatica, o per un disegno scellerato, o per un maledetto gusto del soqquadro, fanno di tutto per ispinger le cose al peggio; propongono o promovono i più spietati consigli, soffian nel fuoco ogni volta che principia a illanguidire: non è mai troppo per costoro; non vorrebbero che il tumulto avesse nè fine nè misura.

Sunday, July 08, 2018


Sell All You Have

Frederick William Danker, "Lexical Evolution and Linguistic Hazard," in Biblical Greek Language and Lexicography: Essays in Honor of Frederick W. Danker (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004), pp. 1-31 (at 20):
Besides, if one may digress, it is well to hear the question addressed to a class by the eminent biblical critic and Hebraist Ferdinand Hitzi, "Have you a Septuagint?" One also does well to stay for Hitzig's own answer: "If not, sell all you have and buy one."
The source seems to be J.J. Kneucker, "Zur Erinnerung an Ferdinand Hitzig," in Ferdinand Hitzig, Vorlesungen ueber biblische Theologie und messianische Weissagungen des Alten Testaments (Karlsruhe: H. Reuther, 1880), pp. 1-35 (at p. 19, n. 2):
Welchen Werth Hitzig in dieser Beziehung den LXX schon für Studirende und ihre exegetischen Uebungen beilegte, geht aus der scherzhaften Aeusserung hervor, mit welcher er die alttestamentlichen Interpretirübungen im theologischen Seminar zu Heidelberg zu eröffnen pflegte: „Meine Herren, haben Sie eine Septuaginta? wenn nicht, so verkaufen Sie Alles, was Sie haben, und kaufen sich eine Septuaginta!“
Hitzig was of course alluding to Mark 10.21:
Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
Related posts:

Saturday, July 07, 2018


Decent Folk

Alessandro Manzoni (1785-1873), I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed), chapter 7 (tr. Archibald Colquhoun):
'How can you tell,' persisted Renzo, when he saw him reappear, 'that they're decent folk when you don't know them?'

'By their actions, my dear chap; one tells a man by his actions. People who drink their wine without criticizing it, pay their bills without haggling, don't quarrel with the other customers, and if they've got to put a knife in someone, go and wait for him outside—away from the inn, so's the poor landlord keeps out of it—those are the decent folk.'

"Come potete sapere," riattaccò Renzo, quando lo vide ricomparire, "che siano galantuomini, se non li conoscete?"

"Le azioni, caro mio: l'uomo si conosce all'azioni. Quelli che bevono il vino senza criticarlo, che pagano il conto senza tirare, che non metton su lite con gli altri avventori, e se hanno una coltellata da consegnare a uno, lo vanno ad aspettar fuori, e lontano dall'osteria, tanto che il povero oste non ne vada di mezzo, quelli sono i galantuomini."


Old Age

Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite 244-246 (tr. Martin L. West):
But as it is, you will soon be enfolded by hostile, merciless old age, which attends men in the time to come, accursed, wearisome, abhorred by the gods.

νῦν δὲ σὲ μὲν τάχα γῆρας ὀμοίιον ἀμφικαλύψει
νηλειές, τό τ᾿ ἔπειτα παρίσταται ἀνθρώποισιν,
οὐλόμενον καματηρόν, ὅ τε στυγέουσι θεοί περ.

Friday, July 06, 2018


The Purpose of the Wall

Nigel Spivey, "They built the wall," New Criterion (June 2018), a review of Adrian Goldsworthy, Hadrian's Wall (New York: Basic Books, 2018):
An ancient biographer of Hadrian relays just one sentiment about the wall: qui barbaros Romanos divideret, "that it should divide Romans from barbarians."
Image from screen capture:

There is a misprint here—for Romanos read Romanosque. The quotation comes from the Life of Hadrian 11.2 in the Scriptores Historiae Augustae.




Vergil, Aeneid 3.408-409 (tr. H. Rushton Fairclough):
This mode of sacrifice do thou keep, thou and thy company;
by this observance let thy children's children in purity stand fast.

hunc socii morem sacrorum, hunc ipse teneto;
hac casti maneant in religione nepotes.


Environmental Protection

Hsün Tzu, Basic Writings. Translated by Burton Watson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), p. 47:
When plants and trees are flowering or putting out new growth, no axes may be taken into the hills and forests, for they would destroy life and injure the growing things. When fish and other water creatures are breeding, no nets or poisons may be used in the lakes, for they would destroy life and injure the growing things. The farmers plow in spring, weed in summer, reap in fall, and store away in winter. Because they do each at the proper season, there is a never-ending supply of grain and the people have more than enough to eat. Because the lakes and rivers are watched over carefully and closed off at the proper time, there is an ever-increasing supply of fish and other water creatures and the people have more than they can use. Because the felling of trees and cutting of brush is done only at the proper time, the hills are never denuded and yet the people have all the wood they need. These are the measures of a sage king.


A Man of Constant Sorrow

Homer, Odyssey 7.211-212 (Odysseus speaking; tr. Peter Green):
Whoever you know of mankind that shoulder the heaviest load
of grief, to them I might liken myself in my sorrows.

οὕς τινας ὑμεῖς ἴστε μάλιστ’ ὀχέοντας ὀιζὺν
ἀνθρώπων, τοῖσίν κεν ἐν ἄλγεσιν ἰσωσαίμην.

Thursday, July 05, 2018


Cause for Distress

Caesar, Gallic War 1.2 (tr. H.J. Edwards):
In such circumstances their range of movement was less extensive, and their chances of waging war on their neighbours were less easy; and on this account they were greatly distressed, for they were men that longed for war.

his rebus fiebat ut et minus late vagarentur et minus facile finitimis bellum inferre possent; qua ex parte homines bellandi cupidi magno dolore adficiebantur.


One of the Advantages of This World

Alessandro Manzoni (1785-1873), I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed), chapter 4 (tr. Archibald Colquhoun):
For it is one of the advantages of this world that people can hate and be hated without knowing each other.

Giacché è uno de' vantaggi di questo mondo, quello di poter odiare ed esser odiati, senza conoscersi.


Practical Skills

Basil Johnston (1929-2015), The Manitous: The Spiritual World of the Ojibway (New York: HarperCollins, 1995), p. xviii:
Without exception, every man and woman had to master the practical skills: archery; spearing; setting nets and traps; making canoes, tools, shelters, and medicines; curing meat and vegetables; tanning hides and making clothing; understanding animals; and knowing the properties of plants and their parts.


By the Sea

Homer, Odyssey 5.156-158 (tr. A.T. Murray, rev. George E. Dimock):
But by day he would sit on the rocks and the sands,
racking his heart with tears and groans and griefs,
and he would look out over the unresting sea, shedding tears.

ἤματα δ᾿ ἂμ πέτρῃσι καὶ ἠιόνεσσι καθίζων
δάκρυσι καὶ στοναχῇσι καὶ ἄλγεσι θυμὸν ἐρέχθων
πόντον ἐπ᾿ ἀτρύγετον δερκέσκετο δάκρυα λείβων.
W.B. Stanford, commentary ad loc. (p. 298):
O. haunted the lonely sea-shore not for any Byronic sentiments but, like any ship-wrecked mariner, in the hopes of sighting a ship.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018



Hsün Tzu, Basic Writings. Translated by Burton Watson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), p. 19:
Where does learning begin and where does it end? I say that as to program, learning begins with the recitation of the Classics and ends with the reading of the ritual texts; and as to objective, it begins with learning to be a man of breeding, and ends with learning to be a sage. If you truly pile up effort over a long period of time, you will enter into the highest realm. Learning continues until death and only then does it cease. Therefore we may speak of an end to the program of learning, but the objective of learning must never for an instant be given up. To pursue it is to be a man, to give it up is to become a beast.


Not All Perfect Athletes

H.W. Parke, Festivals of the Athenians (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977), p. 46, with note on p. 193:
In Aristophanes we have a sarcastic caricature of what could happen in this torch-race. In the Frogs Aeschylus is represented in the Other World as accusing Euripides of being responsible for producing a generation of Athenians of whom 'no one is able to carry a torch any longer through lack of athletic training'. Dionysus supports this charge with a reminiscence: 'No indeed, by Jove, and at the Panathenaia I split myself laughing when a slow fellow was running, doubled up, white and flabby, left behind and in a terrible state. Then the men from the Kerameikos [the workmens' quarter through which the course went] in the gates were butting him on the belly and ribs and flanks and buttocks. When he was beaten on the road he gave a fart, blew out his torch and fled.' The episode is perhaps not all mischievous fantasy and is certainly a corrective to any romantic and sentimental notion of classical Greeks who were all perfect athletes.30

30 Ar. Ra. 1089 ff.
The Greek:
μὰ Δί᾿ οὐ δῆθ᾿, ὥστ᾿ ἐπαφηυάνθην
Παναθηναίοισι γελῶν, ὅτε δὴ        1090
βραδὺς ἄνθρωπός τις ἔθει κύψας
λευκός, πίων, ὑπολειπόμενος
καὶ δεινὰ ποιῶν· κᾆθ᾿ οἱ Κεραμῆς
ἐν ταῖσι πύλαις παίουσ᾿ αὐτοῦ
γαστέρα, πλευράς, λαγόνας, πυγήν,        1095
ὁ δὲ τυπτόμενος ταῖσι πλατείαις
φυσῶν τὴν λαμπάδ᾿ ἔφευγεν.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018


The Best Policy

Wang Wei, farewell to Meng Hao-jan, tr. Stephen Owen, The Great Age of Chinese Poetry: The High T'ang (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981), p. 74 (with his note):
Close your gate fast, yearn not to leave.
Keep yourself far from worldly cares ever,
Take this as the best policy—
I urge you, go home to your old cottage.
Sing drunkenly of wine taken in field-huts,
Chuckle, reading the books of ancients.
This is right for a whole lifetime—
Don't suffer writing a "Master Emptiness."

"Master Emptiness" ... was the fu of Ssu-ma Hsiang-ju that won him fame in the court of Han Wu-ti. Wang Wei is, of course, playing on the title, suggesting the vanity of public fame.
The same, tr. Jingqing Yang, The Chan Interpretations of Wang Wei's Poetry: A Critical Review (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2006), p. 27:
Shutting the gate, I don't want to go out,
I have long been estranged from worldly business,
I take this as a long-term plan,
So I also advise you to return to your old abode,
Singing drunken praises of country-brewed wine,
Reading with amusement books by men of old,
Enjoy your life like this,
Don't bother to present a "Zixu".


Two Words in First Thessalonians

1 Thessalonians 3.2-3 (New International Version; emphasis added):
[2] We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God's service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, [3] so that no one would be unsettled by these trials.

καὶ ἐπέμψαμεν Τιμόθεον, τὸν ἀδελφὸν ἡμῶν καὶ συνεργὸν τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ τοῦ Χριστοῦ, εἰς τὸ στηρίξαι ὑμᾶς καὶ παρακαλέσαι ὑπὲρ τῆς πίστεως ὑμῶν [3] τὸ μηδένα σαίνεσθαι ἐν ταῖς θλίψεσιν ταύταις.

σαίνεσθαι vel sim. codd.: ἀσαίνεσθαι H. Venema (coll. Hsch. ἀσαίνων = ὑβρίζων, λυπῶν): σαλεύεσθαι T. Beza & R. Bentley: παθαίνεσθαι A.D. Knox (Journal of Theological Studies 25 [1924] 290-291)
Liddell-Scott-Jones, s.v. σαίνω:
[I.] prop. of dogs, wag the tail, fawn ....

II. metaph. of persons, fawn, cringe ....

III.[1.] c. acc. pers., fawn upon ....

2. fawn on, pay court to, greet ....

3. gladden, esp. with hope or conviction ....

4. beguile, cozen, deceive ....

5. in 1 Ep.Thess.3.3, σαίνεσθαι ἐν ταῖς θλίψεσι seems to mean to be shaken, disturbed; "σαινόμενοι τοῖς λεγομένοις ἐδάκρυον" D.L. 8.41 (or in signf. III.4); σαίνεται: κινεῖται, σαλεύεται, ταράττεται, Hsch.; but cf. σιαίνω.
Liddell-Scott-Jones, s.v. σιαίνω:
cause loathing or disgust to a person ....
H. Chadwick defends the paradosis in Journal of Theological Studies n.s. 1 (1950) 156-158 (at 157-158):
[T]here has recently come to light a clear and unambiguous instance of σαίνω meaning 'perturb mentally'. Among the theological papyri discovered in the find at Tura near Cairo in 1941 there is included the minutes of a discussion between Origen and a bishop Heraclides with others. The text is edited by M. Jean Scherer: Entretien d'Origène avec Héraclide et les évêques ses collègues sur le Père, le Fils, et l'Âme (Publications de la Société Fouad I de Papyrologie: Textes et Documents IX), Cairo, 1949. (See the review by Mr. G.W.H. Lampe in the Journal, April 1950.) After Origen has dealt with all the questions arising from the case of Heraclides, whose orthodoxy had seemed so doubtful to some of the community, he remarks (p. 140, line 5): τὰ μὲν περὶ πίστεως, ὅσα ἔσηνεν ἡμᾶς, συνεξετάσθη. 'All the questions about the faith which disturbed us have been examined.'

There is nothing to suggest that Origen may have been influenced by the New Testament.
Much of the information above comes from F.F. Bruce, 1 & 2 Thessalonians (Waco: Word Books, 1982), pp. 59 and 62.

1 Thessalonians 4.3-4 (New International Version; emphasis added):
[3] It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; [4] that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable ...

[3] τοῦτο γάρ ἐστιν θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, ὁ ἁγιασμὸς ὑμῶν, ἀπέχεσθαι ὑμᾶς ἀπὸ τῆς πορνείας, [4] εἰδέναι ἕκαστον ὑμῶν τὸ ἑαυτοῦ σκεῦος κτᾶσθαι ἐν ἁγιασμῷ καὶ τιμῇ ...
Liddell-Scott-Jones, s.v. σκεῦος:
[I.1.] vessel or implement of any kind

2. inanimate object, thing

II. τὸ ς. the body, as the vessel of the soul, a metaph. clearly expressed in 2 Ep.Cor.4.7, ἔχομεν δὲ τὸν θησαυρὸν τοῦτον ἐν ὀστρακίνοις σκεύεσιν, cf. 1 Ep.Thess.4.4, 1 Ep.Pet. 3.7.

III. = αἰδοῖον, AP l.4.243 (Antist.), Ael. NA 17.11.

IV. sarcophagus ....
Some would classify the example in 1 Thessalonians 4.4 under LSJ's sense III—see e.g. Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed., s.v. σκεῦος:
Also probable for 1 Th 4:4 is 'penis' (so Antistius [I a.d.] in Anthol. Plan. 4, 243; Aelian, NA 17, 11; cp. the euphemistic Lat. 'vasa' in this sense: Plautus, Poenulus. 863; s. MPoole, Synopsis Criticorum Ali. Sacrae Script., rev. ed. 1694, V col. 908; on sim. usage at Qumran s. TElgvin, NTS 43, '97, 604–19; NAB [1970] renders guarding his member [difft. rev. ed. of NAB, 1986]. Cp. KDonfried, NTS 31, '85, 342). In such case κτᾶσθαι must mean someth. like 'gain control of', etc.—DELG. M-M. EDNT. TW.

Monday, July 02, 2018


My Joy Is Boundless

Chang Yüeh (663-730), "Composition in Drunkenness," tr. Stephen Owen, The Great Age of Chinese Poetry: The High T'ang (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981), p. 12:
I'm drunk—my joy is boundless—
In every way better than not being drunk:
Each time I move it's a dance,
Each time I speak it's a poem.


An Idle Man

George Otto Trevelyan, The Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay, Vol. I (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1877), p. 186 (Macaulay's own words, recorded by his sister Margaret, March 30, 1831):
I never knew such an idle man as I am. When I go in to Empson or Ellis his tables are always covered with books and papers. I can not stick at any thing for above a day or two. I mustered industry enough to teach myself Italian. I wish to speak Spanish. I know I could master the difficulties in a week, and read any book in the language at the end of a month, but I have not the courage to attempt it. If there had not been really something in me, idleness would have ruined me.

Sunday, July 01, 2018


Inflected Languages

W.H. Auden, Poets of the English Language, Vol. I: Langland to Spenser (New York: The Viking Press, 1950), pp. xvi-xvii, rpt. The Complete Works of W.H. Auden, Vol. III: Prose, 1949-1955 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008), p. 106:
The real poetic advantage of an inflected language is of another kind. An inflected language implies that the nature of a thing is determined by its relations to other things, so that a change in its relations causes a change in its nature. In so far as poetry is concerned with emotions, this seems a more natural poetic attitude than that implied by an uninflected language, for I certainly feel myself to be a different person when I am kicking from the one I am when I am being kicked. Further, since the form of a word itself expresses its syntactical relations, it is possible for the poet by his choice of word order to obtain a double set of relations, those of syntax and those of neighborhood.

Every English poet must regret that his language makes it impossible for him to secure effects such as these of Horace:
       Nunc et campus et areae
lenesque sub noctem sussuri
composita repetantur hora

nunc et latentis proditor intumo
gratus puellae risus ab angulo
    pignusque dereptur lacertis
    aut digito male pertinaci
This is Horace, Odes 1.9.18-24, in garbled form. Read susurri for sussuri and dereptum for dereptur. The reprint adds yet another misprint (composite for composita).

Hat tip: Taylor Posey.



I Wish I Did

F.F. Bruce (1910-1990), In Retrospect: Autobiographical Remembrances (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), page number unknown:
There is a story told of A.S. Peake writing a Greek word on the blackboard of his Manchester classroom, and one of his students saying, 'You needn’t write it down, Doctor; we know Greek.' To which he replied, 'I wish I did.'

Dear Mike,

The converse of A.S. Peake's "I wish I did" might be "Well, I do!", which oddly enough came from the lips of Bruce himself.
With the Croom Robertson fellowship ... he had sufficient to support himself at the University of Vienna, where he went to do postgraduate research under Paul Kretschmer. Kretschmer was Professor of Indo-European Philology and an expert on the development of the Greek language. During his year Bruce studied Greek, Indo-European and the Hittite language. We should note at this point his mastery of a wide range of languages; apart from the expected command of Hebrew, Greek and Latin, as a book reviewer he later handled titles in Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish. And on one occasion during a Manchester faculty meeting. R.P.C. Hanson, then Professor of Theology and an authority on St. Patrick, was arguing that students did not need to to know the biblical languages; in support of his case, he argued that although he taught a course on Patrick, he did not know Middle Irish. Bruce responded "Well, I do!"
Tim Grass, F.F Bruce: A Life (London: Paternoster, 2011), pp. 27-28.

Best wishes,

Eric [Thomson]

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