Thursday, January 09, 2020


A Walk in the Woods

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals, Vol. IX: 1856-1863 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1913), p. 61 (August 14, 1856):
But I was taken with the aspects of the forest, and thought that, to Nero advertising for a luxury, a walk in the woods should have been offered. 'T is one of the secrets for dodging old age.
Nero or Xerxes? Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 5.7.20 (tr. Arthur P. Peabody):
Xerxes, indeed, replete with all the prizes and gifts of fortune, not content with his cavalry, his foot-soldiers, his vast fleet, his boundless supply of gold, offered a reward to him who should have invented a new pleasure, — with which he was not satisfied; for never will desire find an end.

nam Xerxes quidem refertus omnibus praemiis donisque fortunae, non equitatu, non pedestribus copiis, non navium multitudine, non infinito pondere auri contentus, praemium proposuit, qui invenisset novam voluptatem: qua ipsa non fuit contentus; neque enim umquam finem inveniet libido.
Likewise Valerius Maximus 9.1.ext.3 (tr. D.R. Shackleton Bailey):
Then Xerxes. In the extravagant ostentation of royal wealth he so revelled in luxury that he published an edict offering a reward to anyone who discovered a new sort of pleasure. A prisoner to excessive enjoyment, what ruin he brought upon his vast empire!

Age, Xerxes opum regiarum ostentatione eximia eo usque luxuria gaudens ut edicto praemium ei proponeret qui novum voluptatis genus repperisset, quanta, dum deliciis nimiis capitur, amplissimi imperii ruina evasit!
Cf. also Athenaeus 12.539b (tr. S. Douglas Olson, with his note):
Clearchus says in his On Lives (fr. 50 Wehrli), in his discussion of the Darius who was killed by Alexander:190 Although the Persian king established prizes for anyone who provided him with new pleasures, he put it beyond doubt that all this high living brought about the collapse of his kingship, although he failed to realize that he was defeating himself, until others took away his sceptre and were proclaimed the ruler.

190 I.e. Darius III, who was in fact killed not by Alexander, but by his own men in 330 BCE. The fragment is clearly an intrusion into what is otherwise an extended discussion of Alexander in particular.

Κλέαρχος δ᾿ ἐν τοῖς Περὶ Βίων περὶ Δαρείου λέγων τοῦ καθαιρεθέντος ὑπὸ τοῦ Ἀλεξάνδρου φησίν· ὁ Περσῶν βασιλεὺς ἀθλοθετῶν τοῖς τὰς ἡδονὰς αὐτῷ πορίζουσιν ὑπὸ πάντων τῶν ἡδέων ἡττωμένην ἀπέδειξε τὴν βασιλείαν καὶ καταγωνιζόμενος ἑαυτὸν οὐκ ᾔσθετο πρότερον ἢ τὸ σκῆπτρον ἕτεροι λαβόντες ἀνεκηρύχθησαν.

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