Thursday, June 20, 2019


Blowing One's Own Horn

David Kovacs, "Euripides Hippolytus 100 and the Meaning of the Prologue," Classical Philology 75.2 (April, 1980) 130-137 (at p. 135, n. 17):
We must begin to take into account the profound differences between ourselves and the Greeks of the classical period where speaking of oneself is concerned. To speak of one's own attainments directly and without apology is, in our culture, usually an offense against good manners and not infrequently regarded as evidence of more serious moral failings. But things were otherwise in pagan antiquity, not only in Homer (where a certain naive praeconium sui may be thought to be in order) but also as late as Aristotle, who shocks modern readers by his characteristicallv Greek notions of the virtue of megalopsychia, and Virgil, whose hero introduces himself complacently as pius Aeneas. For Hippolytus to dwell in prayer on the uniqueness of his nature and his favored position called forth no disapproval or ironic smiling in a fifth-century audience. This is not arrogance but merely a recognition of the facts. Our own attitude in this regard is profoundly influenced by such New Testament texts as Luke 18:9-14.
Luke 18:9-14 (KJV):
9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

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