Sunday, May 31, 2020
From heaven Kronos' son brings disaster upon them,
famine and with it plague, and the people waste away.
τοῖσιν δ' οὐρανόθεν μέγ' ἐπήγαγε πῆμα Κρονίων
λιμὸν ὁμοῦ καὶ λοιμόν· ἀποφθινύθουσι δὲ λαοί.
Saturday, May 30, 2020
Causes of Sedition
But the people of Alexandria, a various mixture of nations, united the vanity and inconstancy of the Greeks with the superstition and obstinacy of the Egyptians. The most trifling occasion, a transient scarcity of flesh or lentils, the neglect of an accustomed salutation, a mistake of precedency in the public baths, or even a religious dispute, were at any time sufficient to kindle a sedition among that vast multitude, whose resentments were furious and implacable.
Gods of the City
For all the gods protecting our city,
the gods above, the gods below,
the gods of the doors and of the marketplace,
have their altars ablaze with offerings...
πάντων δὲ θεῶν τῶν ἀστυνόμων,
τῶν τε θυραίων τῶν τ' ἀγοραίων, 90
βωμοὶ δώροισι φλέγονται...
90 τε θυραίων Robert Enger: τ' οὐρανίων codd.
One day, when we were dining at General Oglethorpe's, where we had many a valuable day, I ventured to interrogate him, "But, sir, is it not somewhat singular that you should happen to have Cocker's Arithmetick about you on your journey? What made you buy such a book at Inverness?" — He gave me a very sufficient answer. "Why, sir, if you are to have but one book with you upon a Journey, let it be a book of science. When you have read through a book of entertainment, you know it, and it can do no more for you; but a book of science is inexhaustible."
Friday, May 29, 2020
Whatever grows in its own soil has greater excellence; transplanted to another soil, its nature being modified to suit that in which it grows, it loses its virtue.
est generosius, in sua quidquid sede gignitur; insitum alienae terrae in id quo alitur, natura vertente se, degenerat.
Cult versus Creed
The Classical religion lived in its vast number of separate cults, which in this form were natural and self-evident to Apollinian man, essentially inaccessible to any alien. As soon as cults of this kind arise, we have a Classical Culture, and when their essence changes, in later Roman times, then the soul of this Culture is at an end. Outside the Classical landscape they have never been genuine and living. The divinity is always bound to and bounded by one locality, in conformity with the static and Euclidean world-feeling. Correspondingly the relation of man to the divinity takes the shape of a local cult, in which the significances lie in the form of its ritual procedure and not in a dogma underlying them. Just as the population was scattered geographically in innumerable points, so spiritually its religion was subdivided into these petty cults, each of which was entirely independent of the rest. Only their number, and not their scope, was capable of increase. Within the Classical religion multiplication was the only form of growth, and missionary effort of any sort was excluded, for men could practise these cults without belonging to them. There were no communities of fellow believers. Though the later thought of Athens reached somewhat more general ideas of God and his service, it was philosophy and not religion that it achieved; it appealed to only a few thinkers and had not the slightest effect on the feeling of the nation — that is, the Polis.
In the sharpest contrast to this stands the visible form of the Magian religion — the Church, the brotherhood of the faithful, which has no home and knows no earthly frontier, which believes the words of Jesus, "when two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them." It is self-evident that every such believer must believe that only one good and true God can be, and that the gods of the others are evil and false. The relation between this God and man rests, not in expression or profession, but in the secret force, the magic, of certain symbolic performances, which if they are to be effective must be exactly known in form and significance and practised accordingly. The knowledge of this significance belongs to the Church — in fact, it is the Church itself, qua community of the instructed. And, therefore, the centre of gravity of every Magian religion lies not in a cult, but in a doctrine, in the creed.
I want to go to Europe, Alyosha, I'll go straight from here. Of course I know that I will only be going to a graveyard, but to the most, the most precious graveyard, that's the thing! The precious dead lie there, each stone over them speaks of such ardent past life, of such passionate faith in their deeds, their truth, their struggle, and their science, that I—this I know beforehand—will fall to the ground and kiss those stones and weep over them—being wholeheartedly convinced, at the same time, that it has all long been a graveyard and nothing more.
The Best Death
And the day before his murder, in a conversation which arose at a dinner at the house of Marcus Lepidus, as to what manner of death was most to be desired, he had given his preference to one which was sudden and unexpected.Plutarch, Life of Julius Caesar 63.4 (tr. Bernadotte Perrin):
et pridie quam occideretur, in sermone nato super cenam apud Marcum Lepidum, quisnam esset finis uitae commodissimus, repentinum inopinatumque praetulerat.
Moreover, on the day before, when Marcus Lepidus was entertaining him at supper, Caesar chanced to be signing letters, as his custom was, while reclining at table, and the discourse turned suddenly upon the question what sort of death was the best; before any one could answer Caesar cried out: "That which is unexpected."Orosius 3.14.5 (on Philip of Macedon; tr. Roy J. Deferrari):
πρὸ μιᾶς δὲ ἡμέρας Μάρκου Λεπίδου δειπνίζοντος αὐτόν ἔτυχε μὲν ἐπιστολαῖς ὑπογράφων, ὥσπερ εἰώθει, κατακείμενος· ἐμπεσόντος δὲ λόγου ποῖος ἄρα τῶν θανάτων ἄριστος, ἅπαντας φθάσας ἐξεβόησεν "ὁ ἀπροσδόκητος."
When on the day before he was killed he had been asked what end was most to be desired by man, he is said to have replied that he was more fortunate who, when reigning as a brave man in peace after the glories of his virtues, was able without damage to body and without dishonor on his soul to fall suddenly and swiftly by an unexpected stroke of the sword. This soon happened to him.
qui cum pridie quam occideretur interrogatus fuisset, quis finis homini magis esset optandus, respondisse fertur, eum esse optimum, qui viro forti post uirtutum suarum glorias in pace regnanti sine conflictatione corporis et dedecore animi subitus et celer inopinato ferro potuisset accidere: quod ipsi mox obtigit.
Thursday, May 28, 2020
The Soul of the Peasant
Let the reader try to merge himself in the soul of the peasant. He has sat on his glebe from primeval times, or has fastened his clutch in it, to adhere to it with his blood. He is rooted in it as the descendant of his forbears and as the forbear of future descendants. His house, his property, means, here, not the temporary connexion of person and thing for a brief span of years, but an enduring and inward union of eternal land and eternal blood. It is only from this mystical conviction of settlement that the great epochs of the cycle — procreation, birth, and death — derive that metaphysical element of wonder which condenses in the symbolism of custom and religion that all landbound people possess.
Progeny of Night
And Night bare hateful Doom and black Fate and Death, and she bare Sleep and the tribe of Dreams. And again the goddess murky Night, though she lay with none, bare Blame and painful Woe, and the Hesperides who guard the rich, golden apples and the trees bearing fruit beyond glorious Ocean. Also she bare the Destinies and ruthless avenging Fates, Clotho and Lachesis and Atropos, who give men at their birth both evil and good to have, and they pursue the transgressions of men and of gods: and these goddesses never cease from their dread anger until they punish the sinner with a sore penalty. Also deadly Night bare Nemesis (Indignation) to afflict mortal men, and after her, Deceit and Friendship and hateful Age and hard-hearted Strife.
But abhorred Strife bare painful Toil and Forgetfulness and Famine and tearful Sorrows, Fightings also, Battles, Murders, Manslaughters, Quarrels, Lying Words, Disputes, Lawlessness and Ruin, all of one nature, and Oath who most troubles men upon earth when anyone wilfully swears a false oath.
Νὺξ δ᾽ ἔτεκεν στυγερόν τε Μόρον καὶ Κῆρα μέλαιναν
καὶ Θάνατον, τέκε δ᾽ Ὕπνον, ἔτικτε δὲ φῦλον Ὀνείρων·
δεύτερον αὖ Μῶμον καὶ Ὀιζὺν ἀλγινόεσσαν
οὔ τινι κοιμηθεῖσα θεὰ τέκε Νὺξ ἐρεβεννή,
Ἑσπερίδας θ᾽, ᾗς μῆλα πέρην κλυτοῦ Ὠκεανοῖο 215
χρύσεα καλὰ μέλουσι φέροντά τε δένδρεα καρπόν.
καὶ Μοίρας καὶ Κῆρας ἐγείνατο νηλεοποίνους,
Κλωθώ τε Λάχεσίν τε καὶ Ἄτροπον, αἵτε βροτοῖσι
γεινομένοισι διδοῦσιν ἔχειν ἀγαθόν τε κακόν τε,
αἵτ᾽ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε παραιβασίας ἐφέπουσιν· 220
οὐδέ ποτε λήγουσι θεαὶ δεινοῖο χόλοιο,
πρίν γ᾽ ἀπὸ τῷ δώωσι κακὴν ὄπιν, ὅς τις ἁμάρτῃ.
τίκτε δὲ καὶ Νέμεσιν, πῆμα θνητοῖσι βροτοῖσι,
Νὺξ ὀλοή· μετὰ τὴν δ᾽ Ἀπάτην τέκε καὶ Φιλότητα
Γῆράς τ᾽ οὐλόμενον, καὶ Ἔριν τέκε καρτερόθυμον. 225
αὐτὰρ Ἔρις στυγερὴ τέκε μὲν Πόνον ἀλγινόεντα
Λήθην τε Λιμόν τε καὶ Ἄλγεα δακρυόεντα
Ὑσμίνας τε Μάχας τε Φόνους τ᾽ Ἀνδροκτασίας τε
Νείκεά τε ψευδέας τε Λόγους Ἀμφιλλογίας τε
Δυσνομίην τ᾽ Ἄτην τε, συνήθεας ἀλλήλῃσιν, 230
Ὅρκον θ᾽, ὃς δὴ πλεῖστον ἐπιχθονίους ἀνθρώπους
πημαίνει, ὅτε κέν τις ἑκὼν ἐπίορκον ὀμόσσῃ.
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Everywhere there is harsh tragedy, everywhere fear and countless visions of death.
luctus, ubique pavor et plurima mortis imago.
Past, Present, and Future
Behold! When the one (Leonidas) promised better things to come, and our contemporaries assert that better things were in the past, what else may be concluded when both denounce their own times, but that times have always been good but unappreciated, or that by no means will they ever be better?
ecce cum ille promisit futura meliora, isti adserunt meliora praeterita, quid aliud colligi datur utroque in suis detestante praesentia, nisi aut semper bona esse sed ingrata aut numquam omnino meliora?
Beyond age, leafDavid Raeburn and Oliver Thomas, The Agamemnon of Aeschylus: A Commentary for Students (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 76-77:
withered, man goes three footed
no stronger than a child is,
a dream that falters in daylight.
τό θ' ὑπέργηρων, φυλλάδος ἤδη
κατακαρφομένης, τρίποδας μὲν ὁδοὺς
στείχει, παιδὸς δ' οὐδὲν ἀρείων
ὄναρ ἡμερόφαντον ἀλαίνει.
From 79 there is further poignant description of 'the exceedingly old thing' (neuter rather than masculine) whose 'foliage is now withering away', i.e. the man in the late autumn of his life. With his staff, he 'goes along on his three-footed ways'; ὁδούς is a cognate accusative. (Similarly in the Sphinx's famous riddle: 'What has four legs in the morning, two in the afternoon, and three in the evening? Man.') Finally, 'no better than a child, he wanders, a dream seen in the daytime': as we would say, he is in his 'second childhood', and purposeless, insubstantial, out of place.Gilbert Murray's version:
And the passing old, while the dead leaf blows
And the old staff gropeth his three-foot way,
Weak as a babe and alone he goes,
A dream left wandering in the day.
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Your Table Is Ready
In the playful manner of parents, Yona taught his young son a few dozen words of Aramaic, including zingila (penis).See Yona Sabar, A Jewish Neo-Aramaic Dictionary (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2002), p. 159, 2nd column.
"He'd go to the IHOP," Ariel remembers, "and put the name down as 'Zingila,' so they'd call out 'Zingila, party of four!'" The family would break up while other customers looked on.
One or Two Hours a Day
I do not say it would be a bad thing if we were to encourage more cursory reading among our pupils; it would, indeed, be a very good thing. A book of Homer can be read in about an hour, and it would be an excellent thing for a boy to go right through the Iliad and Odyssey in a month or six weeks, giving one or two hours a day to it.
To consider how any sort of thing might possibly be improved upon—periodicals, boots, pedometers, or what not—is without doubt a splendid rule to go by, and always leads to something. A philosopher ought to make everything his concern; while to write about everything, even the most common things, consolidates his thought as nothing else could. By such means a man obtains ideas, and lights upon novel views. It is not always the most learned who have the most original ideas.
Zu denken, wie man allem eine bessere Einrichtung geben kann, Zeitungen, Schuhen, Schrittzählern usw., ist gewiss eine herrliche Regel und leitet immer auf etwas. Ein Philosoph muss sich um Alles bekümmern; und über alles, auch die gemeinsten Dinge, zu schreiben, befestigt das System mehr als irgend etwas. Man erhält dadurch Ideen und kommt auf neue Vorstellungen. Die Gelehrtesten sind nicht immer die Leute, die die neuesten Ideen haben.
Men Then and Now
There is this difference between men of that time and the present, namely, that the former endured these intolerable things with equanimity, because they were born and nurtured among them and knew no better, whereas the men of today being perpetually and serenely accustomed in their lives to tranquillity and pleasure, are aroused by every even moderate cloud of anxiety that envelops them.
inter illius temporis homines atque istius hoc interest, quod illi aequo animo haec intoleranda tolerabant, quia in his nati vel enutriti erant et meliora non noverant: isti autem, perpetuo in vita sua tranquillitatum et deliciarum sereno adsuefacti, ad omne vel modicum obductae sollicitudinis nubilum commoventur.
Cosmopolitans and Provincials
Finally, there arises the monstrous symbol and vessel of the completely emancipated intellect, the world-city, the centre in which the course of a world-history ends by winding itself up. A handful of gigantic places in each Civilization disfranchises and disvalues the entire motherland of its own Culture under the contemptuous name of "the provinces." The "provinces" are now everything whatsoever — land, town, and city — except these two or three points. There are no longer noblesse and bourgeoisie, freemen and slaves, Hellenes and Barbarians, believers and unbelievers, but only cosmopolitans and provincials. All other contrasts pale before this one, which dominates all events, all habits of life, all views of the world.
Monday, May 25, 2020
Prayer for Deliverance
I beg the gods to give me release from this misery...Id. 20:
Θεοὺς μὲν αἰτῶ τῶνδ' ἀπαλλαγὴν πόνων...
But now may there be a happy release from misery...
νῦν δ' εὐτυχὴς γένοιτ' ἀπαλλαγὴ πόνων...
A Greek Tombstone
This is the tomb of Arniadas. Him flashing-eyed Ares destroyedBut cf. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 36-541:
as he fought by the ships at the streams of Aratthus,
displaying the highest valour amid the groans and shouts of war.
Σᾶμα τόδ' Ἀρνιάδα· χαροπὸς τόνδ᾿ ὤλεσεν Ἄρης
βαρνάμενον παρὰ ναυσὶν ἐπ' Ἀράθθοιο ῥοϝαῖσι
πολλὸν ἀριστεύ[τ]οντα κατὰ στονόϝεσ(σ)αν ἀϝυτάν.
B.M. Palumbo Stracca, HELIKON 22-27 (1982-1987) 485-488, argues that in L. 1 (Σᾶμα τόδε Ἀρνιάδα· χαροπὸς τόνδ' ὤλεσεν Ἄρης) Ἀρνιάδα is not the name but the patronymic (in the epic manner) of the deceased, who is Χάροψ: Σᾶμα τόδε Ἀρνιάδα Χάροπος· κτλ. (χαροπός as an epithet for Ares would be unique). The verse was possibly inspired by Od. 11, 426: τοὺς μὲν ἔασ', ὁ δ' ἄρ' Ἱππασίδην Χάροπ' οὔτασε δουρί.Andrej Petrovic, "Casualty Lists in Performance. Name Catalogues and Greek Verse-Inscriptions," in Evina Sistakou and Antonios Rengakos, edd., Dialect, Diction, and Style in Greek Literary and Inscribed Epigram (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2016), pp. 361-390 (at 367, footnote omitted):
Or take CEG 145.1 (Corfu, late 7th c. BC), 'σᾶμα τόδε Ἀρνιάδα ΧΑΡΟΠΟΣ' — the unfamiliarity of this name is such that we cannot be entirely sure whether we should identify the grave (sema) as that of Arniadas, son of Charops, or of Charops, son of Arniadas, or of Charops, who comes from a certain Abstammungsgruppe called Arniadai, or, discarding all these options, read the adjective χαροπός instead of the personal name in genitive Xάροπoς, and relate the adjective to Ares mentioned later on in the verse-inscription (until we find a personal name followed immediately by a patronym in genitive in the early sepulchral epigrams, the last option remains, in my view, the likeliest).
Sunday, May 24, 2020
Prophylactic Against Revolution
But I believe that so long as an Austrian can get his brown ale and his little sausages, he is not likely to revolt.
Aber ich glaube, so lange der Oesterreicher noch braun's Bier und Würstel hat, revoltirt er nicht.
The Religion of the Yellow Stick
The inhabitants are fifty-eight families, who continued Papists for some time after the Laird became a Protestant. Their adherence to their old religion was strengthened by the countenance of the Laird's sister, a zealous Romanist, till one Sunday, as they were going to mass under the conduct of their patroness, Maclean met them on the way, gave one of them a blow on the head with a yellow stick, I suppose a cane, for which the Earse had no name, and drove them to the kirk, from which they have never since departed. Since the use of this method of conversion, the inhabitants of Egg and Canna, who continue Papists, call the Protestantism of Rum, the religion of the Yellow Stick.
Primeval man is a ranging animal, a being whose waking-consciousness restlessly feels its way through life, all microcosm, under no servitude of place or home, keen and anxious in its senses, ever alert to drive off some element of hostile Nature. A deep transformation sets in first with agriculture — for that is something artificial, with which hunter and shepherd have no touch. He who digs and ploughs is seeking not to plunder, but to alter Nature. To plant implies, not to take something, but to produce something. But with this, man himself becomes plant — namely, as peasant. He roots in the earth that he tends, the soul of man discovers a soul in the countryside, and a new earth-boundness of being, a new feeling, pronounces itself. Hostile Nature becomes the friend; earth becomes Mother Earth. Between sowing and begetting, harvest and death, the child and the grain, a profound affinity is set up. A new devoutness addresses itself in chthonian cults to the fruitful earth that grows up along with man. And as completed expression of this life-feeling, we find everywhere the symbolic shape of the farmhouse, which in the disposition of the rooms and in every line of external form tells us about the blood of its inhabitants. The peasant's dwelling is the great symbol of settledness. It is itself plant, thrusts its roots deep into its "own" soil. It is property in the most sacred sense of the word. The kindly spirits of hearth and door, floor and chamber — Vesta, Janus, Lares and Penates — are as firmly fixed in it as the man himself.
My holy book isn't the Bible, but the Iliad...
Mon livre sacré n'est pas la Bible, mais l'Iliade...
The Thin-Skinned Man
For while he himself always spoke out his mind intemperately and immoderately to all alike, he could not bring himself to accept similar frankness from others.
αὐτὸς μὲν γὰρ καὶ ἀκράτῳ καὶ κατακορεῖ τῇ παρρησίᾳ ἀεὶ πρὸς πάντας ὁμοίως ἐχρῆτο, παρὰ δὲ δὴ τῶν ἄλλων οὐκ ἠξίου τὴν ὁμοίαν ἀντιλαμβάνειν.
Saturday, May 23, 2020
The City of the Dead
Mid the uneasy wanderings of paleolithic man, the dead were the first to have a permanent dwelling: a cavern, a mound marked by a cairn, a collective barrow. These were landmarks to which the living probably returned at intervals, to commune with or placate the ancestral spirits. Though food-gathering and hunting do not encourage the permanent occupation of a single site, the dead at least claim that privilege. Long ago the Jews claimed as their patrimony the land where the graves of their forefathers were situated; and that well-attested claim seems a primordial one. The city of the dead antedates the city of the living. In one sense, indeed, the city of the dead is the forerunner, almost the core, of every living city. Urban life spans the historic space between the earliest burial ground for dawn man and the final cemetery, the Necropolis, in which one civilization after another has met its end.
[2.1] Though you are but few altogether, in comparison with the vast throng that inhabits this city, and are far less numerous than the others, who are unwilling to perform any of their duties, yet for this very reason I for my part praise you the more, and am heartily grateful to you because you have shown yourselves obedient and are helping to replenish the fatherland.  For it is by lives so conducted that Romans of later days will become a mighty multitude. We were at first a mere handful, you know, but when we had recourse to marriage and begot us children, we came to surpass all mankind not only in the manliness of our citizens but in the size of our population as well.  Bearing this in mind, we must console the mortal side of our nature with an endless succession of generations that shall be like the torch-bearers in a race, so that through one another we may render immortal the one side of our nature in which we fall short of divine bliss.  It was for this cause most of all that that first and greatest god, who fashioned us, divided the race of mortals in twain, making one half of it male and the other half female, and implanted in them love and compulsion to mutual intercourse, making their association fruitful, that by the young continually born he might in a way render even mortality immortal.  Indeed, even of the gods themselves some are accounted male and others female; and the tradition prevails that some have begotten others and some have been begotten of others. So even among those beings, who need no such device, marriage and the begetting of children have been approved as a noble thing.Peter Michael Swan, The Augustan Succession: An Historical Commentary on Cassius Dio's Roman History Books 55-56 (9 B.C.-A.D. 14) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 227:
[3.1] You have done right, therefore, to imitate the gods and right to emulate your fathers, so that, just as they begot you, you also may bring others into the world; that, just as you consider them and name them ancestors, others also may regard you and address you in similar fashion;  that the works which they nobly achieved and handed down to you with glory, you also may hand on to others; and that the possessions which they acquired and left to you, you also may leave to others sprung from your own loins.  For is there anything better than a wife who is chaste, domestic, a good house-keeper, a rearer of children; one to gladden you in health, to tend you in sickness; to be your partner in good fortune, to console you in misfortune; to restrain the mad passion of youth and to temper the unseasonable harshness of old age?  And is it not a delight to acknowledge a child who shows the endowments of both parents, to nurture and educate it, at once the physical and the spiritual image of yourself, so that in its growth another self lives again?  Is it not blessed, on departing from life, to leave behind as successor and heir to your blood and substance one that is your own, sprung from your own loins, and to have only the human part of you waste away, while you live in the child as your successor, so that you need not fall into the hands of aliens, as in war, nor perish utterly, as in a pestilence?  These, now, are the private advantages that accrue to those who marry and beget children; but for the State, for whose sake we ought to do many things that are even distasteful to us, how excellent and how necessary it is, if cities and peoples are to exist,  and if you are to rule others and all the world is to obey you, that there should be a multitude of men, to till the earth in time of peace, to make voyages, practise arts, and follow handicrafts, and, in time of war, to protect what we already have with all the greater zeal because of family ties and to replace those that fall by others.  Therefore, men,—for you alone may properly be called men,—and fathers,—for you are as worthy to hold this title as I myself,—I love you and praise you for this; and I not only bestow the prizes I have already offered but will distinguish you still further by other honours and offices, so that you may not only reap great benefits yourselves but may also leave them to your children undiminished.
Jörs observed over a century ago that in these speeches, first to husbands and fathers, then to the unmarried, we have mainly Dio, not Augustus (Ehegesetze 53).4
4. Dio will have had an abundant didactic tradition on which to draw for such addresses. Advocacy of marriage and childrearing and denunciation of celibacy were commonplace in Greek and Roman writers on ethics and politics; for a collection of texts see N. Geurts, Het huwelijk bij de Griekse en Romeinse moralisten (diss. Utrecht; Amsterdam, 1928), 1–35, cf. 168–172 (German summary).
Ox and Ass
Now here's the way it strikes me, Megadorus, — you're a rich man, a man of position: but as for me, I'm poor, awfully poor, dreadfully poor. Now if I was to marry off my daughter to you, it strikes me you'd be the ox and I'd be the donkey. When I was hitched up with you and couldn't pull my share of the load, down I'd drop, I, the donkey, in the mud; and you, the ox, wouldn't pay any more attention to me than if I'd never been born at all. You would be too much for me: and my own kind would haw-haw at me: and if there should be a falling out, neither party would let me have stable quarters: the donkeys would chew me up and the oxen would run me through. It is a very hazardous business for donkeys to climb into the ox set.
venit hoc mi, Megadore, in mentem te | esse hominem divitem,
factiosum, me autem esse hominem pauperum pauperrimum,
nunc si filiam locassim meam tibi, in mentem venit
te bovem esse et me esse asellum; ubi tecum coniunctus siem,
ubi onus nequeam ferre pariter, iaceam ego asinus in luto, 230
tu me bos magis haud respicias, gnatus quasi numquam siem.
et te utar iniquiore | et meus me ordo irrideat,
neutrubi habeam stabile stabulum, siquid divorti fuat:
asini me mordicibus scindant, boves incursent cornibus.
hoc magnum est periclum [me] ab asinis ad boves transcendere. 235
227 autem Brix : item P
232 in suspicionem vocavit Leo
234 mordicibus Non. 203 L. : mordicus P
235 [me] Camerarius
Friday, May 22, 2020
The Real Atheists
What we moderns have called "Toleration" in the Classical world is an expression of the contrary of atheism. Plurality of numina and cults is inherent in the conception of Classical religion, and it was not toleration but the self-evident expression of antique piety that allowed validity to them all. Conversely, anyone who demanded exceptions showed himself ipso facto as godless. Christians and Jews counted, and necessarily counted, as atheists in the eyes of anyone whose world-picture was an aggregate of individual bodies; and when in Imperial times they ceased to be regarded in this light, the old Classical god-feeling had itself come to an end. On the other hand, respect for the form of the local cult whatever this might be, for images of the gods, for sacrifices and festivals was always expected, and anyone who mocked or profaned them very soon learned the limits of Classical toleration — witness the scandal of the Mutilation of the Hermae at Athens and trials for the desecration of the Eleusinian mysteries, that is, impious travestying of the sensuous element.
Personal Protective Equipment
Amulets in the shape of parts of the body (hand, phallus, vulva) were believed to have apotropaic efficacy.10 The use of the phallus as an amulet to protect against witchcraft was so common that the name fascinum, which means "a bewitching, or witchcraft" came to be applied to the membrum virile.11 The phallus even became deified as the god Fascinus. Babies were put under the protection of Fascinus12 (i.e., they wore an amulet in the shape of a phallus or fascinum); generals also were protected by this deity, for the image of a phallus was hung under the chariot of a general at his triumph to protect him from jealousy.13 The walls of towns, all kinds of public and private property, open and public squares, and tombs were protected in this way.14 A large number of amulets have been found at Pompeii "generally accompanied by phallic tokens of bronze, glass, lapis lazuli, and amber."15 The phallic symbol above the ovens in Pompeian bakeries perhaps had the same function. Best known is the one found in the bakery located at the corner of the House of Pansa at VI.vi.17-21. The rectangular niche in the curve above the oven once held a phallus of red travertine that had been painted red,16 accompanied by the legend hic habitat felicitas.17 The baker Sextus Patulcus Felix at Herculaneum took greater precautions. Over his oven door there were two phalli to protect his baking; two more were found in the dough-room.18 The front of the dye-furnace at the entrance of IX.vii.2 on the Via dell'Abbondanza is decorated with a winged phallus. There is a much larger phallus (48 cm. long) on the west side of the furnace. Various phalli are found on exterior walls at Pompeii,19 but the one at the street corner on the shop-house garden wall is unlike any found thus far.Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum IV.1454:
10 OCD s.v. "Amulets"; Daremberg-Saglio, s.v. "Fascinum"; and RE, s.v. "Fascinum."
11 See Porphyrion on Hor. Epod. 8.18: aeque [fascinum] pro virili parte posuit, quoniam praefascinandis rebus haec membri deformitas adponi solet.
12 Plin. HN 28.39.
13 Supra n. 12.
14 Otto Jahn, "Über den Aberglauben des bösen Blicks bei den Alten," Berichte über die Verhandlungen der Königlich-Sächsischen Gesellschaft der Philologisch-historischen Classe 7 (1885) 69-79. For apotropaic phalli on the city wall beside the gates at Alba Fucens see NSc 1950, 278, 284; G. Picard, The Ancient Civilization of Rome (Geneva 1969) 223 comments on the number of phalli to be seen on street corners "which were considered as particularly dangerous spots."
15 Pierre Gusman, Pompei: The City, Its Life and Art (London 1900) 127.
16 Giuseppe Fiorelli, Pompei (Naples 1875) 105.
17 CIL 4.1454.
18 A. Maiuri, Ercolano: I nuovi scavi 1927-1958 (Rome 1958) 458.
19 A phallus above the entrance door served to identify a cella meretricia.
20 There is a small walking phallus at the street corner at III. iv. 3; a larger phallus marks the street corner at IX.v.1.
Small Is Beautiful
What caused the failure of the Greek city-state system? It is usual to speak of the "particularism" that was the bane of Greece, since it is obvious that the collapse of the Greek world was due to the failure of its many small units to combine against outside attack. It is often added that there was something in the Greek character that precluded unity: and the same characteristic is thought to be displayed by the Greek nation today: the irreconcilable cleavage between Left and Right which ran through every Greek polis, and which in its modern form is again threatening the peace of Europe.
Is this true? Does "lack of unity" provide a complete answer to the problem?
First, in considering this question, let us remember that unity does not necessarily mean survival. The ancient kingdom of Egypt came to be "united" in the sense that its citizens were not allowed to form parties, to argue and discuss, to take any sharen in government except that allotted to a chosen few. Egypt was united under the sacrosanct rule of king and hierarchy and their appointed ministers; but Egypt fell before the attacks of the Persians, whereas the Greeks repelled the invader. Two centuries later Egypt, no less than Greece, proved unable to resist Alexander. The Persians, under Xerxes, were united, in that the will of the king, however capricious, cruel or foolish, was law; yet they failed before the determined resistance of the Greek fleet, whose commanders were so far from being united in counsel that to this day it is uncertain whether the Athenian Themistocles was a patriot or was playing a double game which would safeguard him no matter which side won the battle. The unity of the Egyptians and the Persians was not a unity of conscious choice; it was imposed on them from above, and its acceptance was a proof of moral and intellectual inferiority. When the modem world sighs for unity within nations or between nations, let it remember that the only unity which gives strength is that of genuine agreement and consent; that of compulsion from above, and of ignorance or servility below, is of little use in time of danger. The Greek city-states were united in one thing: each dared to keep its independence and its own way of life; and that proved sufficient.
Secondly: is the inclusion of the smaller unit in the larger necessarily a gain, from the point of view of human progress? In ancient Greece it does not seem to have been so. The existence of these hundreds of small units with separate administrative systems seems uneconomic nowadays, when economy of effort is accorded a growing place in the theory of government. But certain of these small units created the beginnings of movements which transformed the world, and ultimately gave Man his present control over Nature. The first known electrical experiment was oliserved in Miletus; the first atomic theory in the town of Abdera in Thrace; the first statement of the transcending importance of numerical formulae for the understanding of matter came from Pythagoras, an islander from Samos, who migrated to Italy. The first geometrical proofs demanding an assumption of moving lines and planes were evolved at Tarentum, Sparta's only colony, by its admirable chief magistrate Archytas. It was the small unit, the independent city-state, where everybody knew all that was going on, that produced such intellectual giants as Thucydides and Aristophanes, Heracleitus and Parmenides. If these conditions were not in part responsible, how is it that philosophy, science, political thought, and the best of the literary arts, all perish with the downfall of the city-state system in 322 B.C., leaving us with the interesting but less profound and original work of men such as Epicurus and Menander? There is only one major poet after 322: Theocritus of Cos, a lyric genius of the first rank, who nevertheless (unlike Sappho) wrote much that was second-rate also, when he was pandering to possible patrons like the rulers of Alexandria and Syracuse. The modern nation that has replaced the polis as the unit of government is a thousand times less intellectually creative in proportion to its size and resources; even in building and the arts and crafts it lags behind in taste, and relatively in productivity.
Thirdly, it must also be remembered that racial unity does not necessarily make for peace. The larger the conglomeration, and the less room for discussion and difference of opinion within it, the greater the potential menace to the rest of the world. A united Germany was a greater menace to peace than the many separate kingdoms, dukedoms and the rest that it superseded. Suppose the Hellenes had united: would the world have been better off? Might they not have felt themselves strong enough to attack their neighbours, and have wasted their energies in overrunning North Africa, Asia, and the rest of Europe, in the name of security: pushing their frontiers outwards further and further as the Romans were later to do? The spread of Greek culture, even in the diluted form brought by conquerors, would have been an advantage, but the essential quality of the Greek genius would have been dissipated, as it was in the territories ruled by the successors of Alexander, and in the Byzantine Empire. If, as at present seems likely, the world is about to abandon the national principle for that of larger units composed of a number of nations; if we are to have groups such as the U.S.S.R. and its satellites in Europe and Asia, the Western European Union, the United States becoming perhaps the Union of the Americas, and so on: will the material advantage and the increase in certain kinds of efficiency be offset by a loss in the quality of the contribution made by the separate nations, for instance, that of an intensely individualistic nation like France? Moreover, will not the inevitable clash of interests between such powerful blocs lead to wars so terrible that one half of the human race will in the end destroy the other, as little Croton once obliterated little Sybaris?
Further, suppose the whole of human kind, white, yellow, brown and black, at length united under a World Government: will the result be like running cold water into hot, a tepid mixture from which nothing can be expected except usefulness, orderliness, a humdrum industry, and a general indifference to all wider interests; material prosperity and peace, but intellectual and cultural stagnation? The human race might then perish from another cause: inanition, the despair that already seems to be afflicting many advanced modern minds, the confused pessimism of the Teutonic death-worshippers and the Existentialists. Nothing could be further removed from the temper of the Greek of the city-state even in the midst of his greatest trials. Human progress is achieved not by groups but by individuals, and the soil in which personality can best flourish without damage to its fellows is that which best nurtures progress.
Forgetfulness and Relief
Mnemosyne (Memory) bore them [the Muses] on Pieria, mingling in love with the father, Cronus' son—Mnemosyne, the protectress of the hills of Eleuther—as forgetfulness of evils and relief from anxieties.M.L. West ad loc.:
τὰς ἐν Πιερίῃ Κρονίδῃ τέκε πατρὶ μιγεῖσα
Μνημοσύνη, γουνοῖσιν Ἐλευθῆρος μεδέουσα,
λησμοσύνην τε κακῶν ἄμπαυμά τε μερμηράων.
Thursday, May 21, 2020
Movement and Settlement
Human life swings between two poles: movement and settlement. The contrast between these modes may be traced back to the original break between the mainly free-moving protozoa that formed the animal kingdom and the relatively sessile organisms that belong to the vegetable kingdom. The first, like the oyster, sometimes become overadapted to a fixed position and lose the power of movement; while many plants free themselves in some degree by underground rootings and above all, by the detachment and migration of the seed. At every level of life one trades mobility for security, or in reverse, immobility for adventure. Certainly, some tendency to settle and rest, to go back to a favored spot that offers shelter or good feeding exists in many animal species; and, as Carl O. Sauer has suggested, a propensity to store and settle down may itself be an original human trait.
In an unwritten speech, nothing that is not very short is transmitted from one generation to another. Few have opportunities of hearing a long composition often enough to learn it, or have inclination to repeat it so often as is necessary to retain it; and what is once forgotten is lost for ever. I believe there cannot be recovered, in the whole Earse language, five hundred lines of which there is any evidence to prove them a hundred years old.
In Greek, however, the word "epidemic" belonged to the vocabulary of theophany. Emile Littré, the nineteenth-century French lexicographer, was aware of this when he introduced the word into the French language.6 It was a technical term used in talking about the gods. "Epidemics" were sacrifices offered to the divine powers when they came to visit a region or a temple or attended a feast or were present at a sacrifice.7 Symmetrically, "apodemics" were sacrifices offered upon the gods' departure. For there was a traffic of the gods, a traffic that became particularly heavy during Theoxenia, occasions when a city, individual, or god offered hospitality to some or all of the deities.8 The gods came to the place and lived there for a time; they were actually present,9 or "epidemized." Being resident but not sedentary, they resembled the Hippocratic physicians, itinerant practitioners who composed what were called Epidemics: sheafs of notes, brief protocols or, rather, minutes relating the course of the disease—a careful record of the symptoms, the crisis, the care administered, and the patient's reactions.10 The technique was that of a reporter, practiced by Ion of Chios, an intellectual of the fifth century B.C., in his work entitled Epidemics: a series of sketches, portraits, interviews with artists like Sophocles and politicians like Pericles and Kimon of Athens.11Relevant entries from Liddell-Scott-Jones (9th ed., including supplement):
6. Littré, Dictionnaire, p. 1460. The word is in the plural.
7. See the bibliography in L. Weniger, "Theophanien altgriechische Götteradvente," Archiv für Religionswissenschaft 22 (1923-24):16-57, and F. Pfister, "Epiphanie," Realenzyklopädie Supplement IV (1924), c. 277-323. For a broader treatment see W.F. Otto, Theophania: Der Geist der altgriechischen Religion (Hamburg, 1956).
8. D. Wachsmuth, "Theoxenia," Kleine Pauly, V, 1979, C. 732-733. On the Theoxenia, a festival of the city of Delphi, see P. Amandry, Bulletin de correspondance hellénique 68-69 (1944-1945):413-415, complementing the Bulletin de correspondance hellénique 63 (1939):209-210.
9. According to Scholia to Pindar, Olympiques III, 1, ed. Drachmann, I, p. 105, 14-16.
10. Cf. A. Thivel, Cnide et Cos? (Paris, 1982), p. 33n60.
11. Ion of Chios in F. Jacoby, Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker I (1922), etc. (hereafter cited as F. Gr. Hist. with the number assigned to each historian along with the fragment indicated by the reference), 392 F. 4-7. See also B. Gentili and G. Cerri, Storia e Biografia nel pensiero antico (Rome-Bari, 1983), pp. 74-75.
Robert Renehan, Greek Lexicographical Notes (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1975), p. 88:
Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Contrary to still current prejudice, many medieval towns, in their remedial and preventive measures for health, were far in advance of their Victorian successors. Public hospitals were one of the definite Christian contributions to the city. Jerome relates that in A.D. 360 Fabiola gave up his [sic, should be her] villa for the care of the needy sick, otherwise left to die wretchedly in the streets of Rome. From that time on, very rapidly after the eleventh century, the holy orders founded hospitals in almost every town: there would be at least two in most German towns, one for lepers, and one for other types of disease, according to Heil; while in "big" cities such as Breslau, with its 30,000 inhabitants in the fifteenth century, there would be as many as fifteen, or one for every two thousand people. What modern city can show anything like such adequate accommodations?
And note: these are the rule, rather than exceptions. Toulouse in 1262 had seven leproseries and thirteen hospitals; and one of these hospitals contained fifty-six beds; while Florence in the thirteenth century, Giovanni Villani records, with a population of about 90,000 people, had thirty hospitals with more than a thousand beds. Here, too, both in their number and in their modest domestic scale, the medieval town still has something to teach its elephantine, dehumanized successor.
Official municipal physicians made their appearance in the fourteenth century, even before the Black Death: in Constance as early as 1312. In Venice, a permanent health magistracy was created in 1485, to which in 1556 inspection and enforcement machinery were added that long served as a model to the rest of Europe. Contagious diseases, incidentally, were usually isolated outside city walls. The value of isolation wards, with separate toilets, had long been proved by the better equipped monasteries. Finally, the establishment of quarantine, for people passing in and out of cities from foreign parts, was one of the major innovations of medieval medicine. Much as travellers hated it, the practice was based on sound empiric observations, erring only on the side of caution, by allowing for almost three times the necessary incubation period.
The curtailment of infectious diseases and the gradual eradication of leprosy in Europe, thanks to the same policy of strict isolation, was nothing less than a triumph of preventive medicine. The rationalist physicians of the early nineteenth century, who confidently regarded contagion and infection without direct contact as superstitious figments of the medieval imagination, were not in fact as acute observers of cause and effect as their medieval predecessors.
Prayer to Athena
Pallas, Triton-born, Lady Athena,Greek text (id., Vol. II, p. 214):
preserve this city and its inhabitants
free of troubles and civic strife
and premature deaths: you and your father.
Παλλὰς Τριτογένει', ἄνασσ' Ἀθάνα,Notes (id., Vol. II, p. 215):
ὄρθου τήνδε πόλιν τε καὶ πολίτας
ἄτερ ἀλγέων καὶ στάσεων
καὶ θανάτων ἀώρων σύ τε καὶ πατήρ.
For quickening the philosophy that lies dormant in all of us writing is excellent. Anyone who has ever done any writing will have found that it invariably brings something to light of which, though latent in him, he was not clearly conscious before.
Zur Aufweckung des in jedem Menschen schlafenden Systems ist das Schreiben vortrefflich; und jeder, der je geschrieben hat, wird gefunden haben, daß Schreiben immer etwas erweckt, was man vorher nicht deutlich erkannte, ob es gleich in uns lag.
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Equal in Death
An ivy wreath is also used to separate two lines of verse on another grave stone with a slightly gruesome but moralising tone. A representation of a skeleton is carved in relief below the inscription, which reads:
εἰπεῖν τίς δύναται | σκῆνος λιπόσαρκον | ἀθρήσας,Hylas was a beautiful youth who set off with Herakles to accompany the Argonauts. He disappeared en route for, having been sent off to get water, he was seized by the nymphs on account of his beauty (Apollodorus 1.9.19). Thersites on the other hand was 'the ugliest man who went to Troy', according to Homer (Iliad 2.216). The implication of the epigram is that the fair and the ugly were equal in death.
εἴπερ Ὕλας | ἢ Θερσείτης ἦν, ὦ ‖ παροδεῖτα;
Who can say, having looked at a fleshless corpse,
whether it was Hylas or Thersites, passer-by?
This is Inscriptiones Graecae XIV.2131 (undated, from Anzio, Italy).
This Epidemick Desire of Wandering
[H]e that cannot live as he desires at home, listens to the tale of fortunate islands, and happy regions, where every man may have land of his own, and eat the product of his labour without a superior.
Whether the mischiefs of emigration were immediately perceived, may be justly questioned. They who went first, were probably such as could best be spared; but the accounts sent by the earliest adventurers, whether true or false, inclined many to follow them; and whole neighbourhoods formed parties for removal; so that departure from their native country is no longer exile. He that goes thus accompanied, carries with him all that makes life pleasant. He sits down in a better climate, surrounded by his kindred and his friends: they carry with them their language, their opinions, their popular songs, and hereditary merriment: they change nothing but the place of their abode; and of that change they perceive the benefit.
Some method to stop this epidemick desire of wandering, which spreads its contagion from valley to valley, deserves to be sought with great diligence. In more fruitful countries, the removal of one only makes room for the succession of another: but in the Hebrides, the loss of an inhabitant leaves a lasting vacuity; for nobody born in any other parts of the world will choose this country for his residence, and an Island once depopulated will remain a desert, as long as the present facility of travel gives every one, who is discontented and unsettled, the choice of his abode.
Let it be inquired, whether the first intention of those who are fluttering on the wing, and collecting a flock that they may take their flight, be to attain good, or to avoid evil. If they are dissatisfied with that part of the globe, which their birth has allotted them, and resolve not to live without the pleasures of happier climates; if they long for bright suns, and calm skies, and flowery fields, and fragrant gardens, I know not by what eloquence they can be persuaded, or by what offers they can be hired to stay.
But if they are driven from their native country by positive evils, and disgusted by ill-treatment, real or imaginary, it were fit to remove their grievances, and quiet their resentment; since, if they have been hitherto undutiful subjects, they will not much mend their principles by American conversation.
A Simple Ideology
His ideology was simple; government over business, the individual over government, the environment over everything.Id.:
Hatred was now America's favorite pastime.Id.:
The streets are full of idiots and maniacs and zealots.
Monday, May 18, 2020
Many men I know in the world who crave this thing or that.
They are like blind silkworms bound fast in their cocoons.
All for their incurable desires for this-worldly hoarding,
They have lost freedom, and worry their hearts and bodies.
Year after year, their native goodness loses its strength.
They become more rooted in their folly, as years multiply.
One morning, they strike out on their journey to eternity.
They must travel by themselves, not a penny to serve them.
What they have amassed, they leave for strangers to enjoy,
And their names shall be forgotten as soon as they depart.
Can anyone commit a greater folly than these helpless men?
Alas, they provoke infinite pity, deep in my heart's core.
Nothing New Under the Sun
At Olynthos, one terra-cotta toilet was found, and a couple of urinals, all three so similar to ours in shape as to prove there is nothing new under the sun (J.W. Graham, 1938, pl. 55) (see Fig. 17.7).
The reference is to J.W. Graham, The Hellenic House (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1938 = Excavations at Olynthus, VIII), unavailable to me.
Labels: noctes scatologicae
The Summum Bonum
The summum bonum with me is now truly Epicurean, ease of body and tranquillity of mind; and to these I wish to consign my remaining days.
Sunday, May 17, 2020
This Wreck of a Realm
The city lies sleeping;
The morn, to deplore it,
May dawn on it weeping:
The black plague flew o'er it,— 40
Thousands lie lowly;
Tens of thousands shall perish—
The living shall fly from
The sick they should cherish:
But nothing can vanquish 45
The touch that they die from.
Sorrow and anguish,
And evil and dread,
Envelope a nation—
The blest are the dead, 50
Who see not the sight
Of their own desolation;
This work of a night—
This wreck of a realm—this deed of my doing—
For ages I've done, and shall still be renewing! 55
Leaders and Their Influence
For just as the whole state is apt to be infected by the vicious desires of its leaders, so it is healed and set right by their restraint.Id. 3.14.31:
Ut enim cupiditatibus principum et vitiis infici solet tota civitas, sic emendari et corrigi continentia.
If you're prepared to go back over the records of history, it is plain that the state has taken its character from that of its foremost men. Whatever changes have taken place in the conduct of its leaders have been reproduced in the lives of the people.
Nam licet videre, si velis replicare memoriam temporum: qualescumque summi civitatis viri fuerint, talem civitatem fuisse; quaecumque mutatio morum in principibus exstiterit, eandem in populo secuturam.
secuturam APεL: securam B: secutam ς
Power and Wealth
When the power of birth and station ceases, no hope remains but from the prevalence of money. Power and wealth supply the place of each other. Power confers the ability of gratifying our desire without the consent of others. Wealth enables us to obtain the consent of others to our gratification. Power, simply considered, whatever it confers on one, must take from another. Wealth enables its owner to give to others, by taking only from himself. Power pleases the violent and proud: wealth delights the placid and the timorous. Youth therefore flies at power, and age grovels after riches.
Saturday, May 16, 2020
All night we speak ill of the kings.
νυκτὶ δ᾿ ὅλῃ βασιλῆας ἐλέγχομεν.
King of Infinite Space
His [Bede's] cell at Jarrow, and the books that Benedict Biscop brought in so many journeys to Rome, bounded him in a nutshell and made him king of infinite space.Hat tip: Eric Thomson.
Googlatin – A New Language?
I can't parse what looks like Latin on the cover:
VIVAMUS VEL LIBERO PERIT AMERICAE"This title will be released on August 4, 2020," according to amazon.com. Maybe there's time to change the cover. In the words of Bill Vallicella, "When it comes to Latin, and not just Latin, don't throw it if you don't know it."
Hat tip: Eric Thomson, who comments, "Googlatin for Dummies — Just type it in the box and hit the Enter key. Finis."
Friday, May 15, 2020
What's the Point of Life?
Tell me—what's the point of life? I say it's drinking. Look at the trees along torrent streams that stay moist all day and all night; how large and beautiful they grow! But those that resist are destroyed root and branch.
τὸ δὲ ζῆν, εἰπέ μοι,
τί ἐστι; – ∪ – τὸ πίνειν φήμ' ἐγώ.
ὁρᾷς παρὰ ῥείθροισι χειμάρροις ὅσα
δένδρων ἀεὶ τὴν νύκτα καὶ τὴν ἡμέραν
βρέχεται, μέγεθος καὶ κάλλος οἷα γίγνεται,
τὰ δ' ἀντιτείνοντ' αὐτόπρεμν' ἀπόλλυται.
I shall just put the matter briefly in this way: divine punishment is twofold; it involves harassing the minds of the guilty during life and, when they are dead, attaching such infamy to them that the living not only accept but also rejoice at their destruction.
tantum ponam brevi: duplicem poenam esse divinam, quod constet et ex vexandis vivorum animis, et ea fama mortuorum ut eorum exitium et iudicio vivorum et gaudio comprobetur.
An Impenetrable Clique
I have a confession to make. For a long time, I've been uncomfortable around early Christians.
In school, I was brought up on the adventure tales of Homer. In my mind, I've struggled for honor on the battlefield with the greatest of the Greek warriors, Achilles, and I've fought for my own survival while cast away at sea, lonely and heartbroken for home, like Odysseus. I've listened to the thunderous voices of men in togas and tuned in to hear political shouting matches, in Latin, fought by some of Rome's most privileged senators. From the dusty, sun-kissed streets of the Forum to the jeweled dome of Rome, the Pantheon, I've always found the ancient world a pleasant escape. Lyric poetry, Athenian tragedy, Greek comedy, even Roman concrete: there's always been a surprise around every turn. Call me a conservative, but I don't think there was ever anything wrong with the ancient world. It was perfectly fine the way it was—before it changed. And I knew whom to blame.
Everyone knows that early Christians were a ragtag bunch, tent makers and philosophy teachers, daughters of wealthy Romans and sons of Roman governors. To me, they've always seemed like an impenetrable clique, obstinately different. Whether praying in their churches, greeting each other with their secret signs, or practicing their favorite sport, dodging wild animals, the pathological way they stuck together as a group made me uneasy. I had my Rome, full of impressive aqueducts, packed racetracks, and stately mansions. They had theirs, with tales of resurrection and rebirth, many of which had been written in rather childish Greek grammar. What could we possibly have in common?
Thursday, May 14, 2020
The Power of Mutability
Such is the power of mutability that all our lives perish,
This minute and this minute, faster than any can foretell.
A youth's rosy cheeks wither, no matter how we prize them.
A man's bushy hairs droop till they are thin like strings.
Years weigh on your backs till your bone bends like a bow.
The skin on your weary face wrinkles like the ruffled sea.
A noise like that of a cicada attacks your ears all night.
Flowers flitter in your eyes all day, dazzling your sense.
When you rise or sit, you must vent out a long windy sigh,
And when you walk, you must support your weight on a cane.
You chase in your dreams the memories of your happy youth,
And count in despair the miseries of your over-ripe years.
How else can I describe the wretched state of an aged man,
But to compare it with a broken bough flung away in frost?
Yet we all must come to this state, sooner than we expect,
For time never spares us, once we are born in frail flesh.
Time creeps on, minute by minute, without a moment's stay,
And how long can we retain our youthful days against time?
The elements that constitute our flesh languish every day,
And, nightly, sick dullness overspreads our mind and body.
One morning you will find yourself far too weak to get up.
Then for many days following, you must lie upon your back.
The lips that you once used to whip others with eloquence,
What use do they have now, when you must sleep in silence?
Once your breath fails and leaves your body in sad stupor,
All the instruments of your perception lose their virtues.
Your friends and relatives will watch your face and mourn.
Your own family will lament, passing their hands over you.
However desperately they may call, you cannot answer them.
However loudly they may cry, you can never recognize them.
For you are already well on your way to timeless darkness.
Alas, you must make this solitary journey all by yourself.
The Greatest God
CY: So who is this Bacchus? Is he acknowledged as a god?
OD: The greatest for men's enjoyment of life.
Κυ. ὁ Βάκχιος δὲ τίς; θεὸς νομίζεται;
Οδ. μέγιστος ἀνθρώποισιν ἐς τέρψιν βίου.
Avid Young Readers
As boys we—I and my friends—read Shakespeare with avidity, Virgil to the extent of getting at least two Books of the Aeneid by heart, Horace with pleasure and Ovid's Persephone Rapta with delight. We liked very much the Bacchae of Euripides—I mean that we used to sit down and take a read in these things sometimes apart from the mere exigencies of the school curriculum. A little later Herrick moved us to ecstasy and some of Donne; we liked passages of Fletcher, of Marlowe, of Webster and of Kyd. At that time we really loved the Minnesingers, and fell flat in admiration before anything of Heine. The Troubadors and even the Northern French Epics we could not read—French poetry did not exist for us at all. If we read a French poem at all, we had always to read it twice, once to master the artificial rhythm, once for the sense.
Between seventeen and eighteen we read Rossetti, Catullus, Theocritus, Bion, Moschus and still Shakespeare, Herrick, Heine, Elizabethan and Jacobean lyrics, Crashaw, Herbert and Donne.
The whole world is turning in the wrong direction,
yesterday it seemed bad and today it is worse...
Totz lo mons torn'en tal biais
Que'ier lo vim mal et huei peior...
A smile of indignation expressed the refusal of Caled. "Ye Christian dogs, you know your option; the Koran, the tribute, or the sword."
Wednesday, May 13, 2020
At Rome false doctors and the PopeAnother translation, by Veronica M. Fraser, The Songs of Peire Vidal: Translation & Commentary (New York: Peter Lang, 2006), p. 135:
Have so confounded holy Church
That they anger God himself;
They're so foolish and corrupt
That heresies are spreading,
And since these priests were first to sin,
Others follow, and do the same—
But I don't want to stir things up.
Qu'a Rom'an vout en tal pantais
l'Apostolis e·lh fals doctor
Sancta Gleiza, don Dieus s'irais;
que tan son fol e peccador,
per que l'eretge son levat.
E quar ilh commenso·l peccat,
greu es qui als far en pogues;
mas ieu no·n vuelh esser plaies.
The Apostle and the false doctors of Rome
have put Holy Church in such jeopardy
that they have angered God.
They are so foolish and sinful,
that they have caused the heretics to rise up.
They (of Rome) are the first to sin
and therefore it is difficult (for others) to behave otherwise;
but I do not wish to plead on their behalf.
Taking It Easy
All my life I've had no interest in worldly success
I take it easy, leaving things to nature.
In my pocket, three cups of rice
By the stove, a bundle of brushwood
Why should I ask about ignorance or enlightenment?
Why should I know about the dust of profit and fame?
During the evening rain, inside the hut
I stretch out my two legs as I please.
Little man, wealth is god for the wise;Related posts:
the rest is all pompous and fine-seeming words.
ὁ πλοῦτος, ἀνθρωπίσκε, τοῖς σοφοῖς θεός,
τὰ δ' ἄλλα κόμποι καὶ λόγων εὐμορφίαι.
- The Prayer of the Mammonites
- The Worship of Money
- Greatest and Highest of Gods
- The Goddess We Adore
- I Bow Before the Idol
- The Worship of Mammon
But it must be remembered that life consists not of a series of illustrious actions, or elegant enjoyments; the greater part of our time passes in compliance with necessities, in the performance of daily duties, in the removal of small inconveniences, in the procurement of petty pleasures; and we are well or ill at ease, as the main stream of life glides on smoothly, or is ruffled by small obstacles and frequent interruption. The true state of every nation is the state of common life. The manners of a people are not to be found in the schools of learning, or the palaces of greatness, where the national character is obscured or obliterated by travel or instruction, by philosophy or vanity; nor is public happiness to be estimated by the assemblies of the gay, or the banquets of the rich. The great mass of nations is neither rich nor gay. They whose aggregate constitutes the people are found in the streets and the villages, in the shops and farms; and from them collectively considered must the measure of general prosperity be taken. As they approach to delicacy a nation is refined; as their conveniences are multiplied, a nation, at least a commercial nation, must be denominated wealthy.
Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Here is the recipe of M. Baraut du Plessis for the terrifying Spanish national dish, gafpacho:I don't understand why he calls the dish terrifying. I've eaten it often, always with pleasure.
Cut into small dice two fresh tomatoes, two green peppers, two onions, a clove of garlic, and two fresh cucumbers. Put the whole into a very large soup-tureen, season it with a tumbler of olive oil, two tablespoonfuls of vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Add a pound of ice to the whole and let it melt. When the ice is melted throw into the tureen unleavened bread cut into little dice, about as much bread as vegetables and fill up with ice-cold water. Serve at once.
Remember to keep your mind level when the path
is steep, and no less in good times to keep it tempered
and well away from extravagant joy,
Dellius, who will die
whether you spend every minute of your life in gloom,
or bless yourself lying all the long days of festivals
in secluded meadows, drinking Falernian
from the back of the cellar.
Why do the huge pine and the white poplar
love to ally their branches in hospitable shade?
Why does the rushing river twist and strain
as it scurries along?
Tell them to bring out the wine and fragrant oils
and all-too-short-lived flowers of the lovely rose,
while your age and means and the black threads
of the three sisters permit.
You will leave the upland woods and pastures you have bought,
your house in Rome, and villa lapped by the yellow Tiber,
you will leave them and your heir
will take possession of your high-built wealth.
It makes no difference whether you are rich and of the stock
of ancient Inachus, or a pauper born in the gutter
and living under the open sky—
you are the victim of Orcus, who knows no pity.
We are all herded to the same place. All our lots
are turning in the urn, and later or sooner
they will be shaken out and will put us
on the boat for an exile that never ends.
Aequam memento rebus in arduis
servare mentem, non secus in bonis
ab insolenti temperatam
laetitia, moriture Delli,
seu maestus omni tempore vixeris 5
seu te in remoto gramine per dies
festos reclinatum bearis
interiore nota Falerni.
quo pinus ingens albaque populus
umbram hospitalem consociare amant 10
ramis? quid obliquo laborat
lympha fugax trepidare rivo?
huc vina et unguenta et nimium brevis
flores amoenae ferre iube rosae,
dum res et aetas et sororum 15
fila trium patiuntur atra.
cedes coemptis saltibus et domo
villaque flavus quam Tiberis lavit;
cedes, et exstructis in altum
divitiis potietur heres. 20
divesne prisco natus ab Inacho
nil interest an pauper et infima
de gente sub divo moreris,
victima nil miserantis Orci.
omnes eodem cogimur, omnium 25
versatur urna serius ocius
sors exitura et nos in aeternum
exilium impositura cumbae.
2 in codd.: ut Housman
14 amoenae codd.: amoenos Cunningham
We must not look for consistency in men's religious actions, any more than in their secular conduct: norms of belief and facts of practice, words and deeds do not fit: nor do men mean all that they say, in reverence or irreverence, least of all men as nimble of wit and tongue as were many of the Greeks. Religion is not all or nothing, certainly not among them.
Dignity and Importance
The carriages in common use are small carts, drawn each by one little horse; and a man seems to derive some degree of dignity and importance from the reputation of possessing a two-horse cart.
Monday, May 11, 2020
It is no use saying that after a diet of peas grown wholesale in vast fields, forced under electric light, with chemical manure, picked by the ton, left for three days to decay, canned with, let us say, a boric preservative and consumed two years later, a man will be the same as after a diet of the same vegetables grown in the sunlight on a sheltered plot, manured with natural composts or dung, picked by hand and maggoty or inferior pods rejected, the peas themselves not much more than twice as large as a pin head and cooked and on the table twenty minutes after they have left the vines. He won't. He won't be the same either physically or in immediate mentality. Eating dead peas out of a can is a dullness that adds to the slatternly indifference of the mass-worker; eating your own live peas twenty minutes off the vine is a mental stimulant both immediately and during several days of anticipation whilst you watch them coming to the exactly right moment for picking.
Can One Even Call It a City?
From Chaeroneia it is twenty stades to Panopeus, a city of the Phocians, if one can give the name of city to those who possess no government offices, no gymnasium, no theater, no market-place, no water descending to a fountain, but live in bare shelters just like mountain cabins, right on a ravine.
στάδια δὲ ἐκ Χαιρωνείας εἴκοσιν ἐς Πανοπέας ἐστὶ πόλιν Φωκέων, εἴγε ὀνομάσαι τις πόλιν καὶ τούτους οἷς γε οὐκ ἀρχεῖα οὐ γυμνάσιόν ἐστιν, οὐ θέατρον οὐκ ἀγορὰν ἔχουσιν, οὐχ ὕδωρ κατερχόμενον ἐς κρήνην, ἀλλὰ ἐν στέγαις κοίλαις κατὰ τὰς καλύβας μάλιστα τὰς ἐν τοῖς ὄρεσιν, ἐνταῦθα οἰκοῦσιν ἐπὶ χαράδρᾳ.
Sunday, May 10, 2020
Pliny, the man who teaches us the greatest number of things on antiquity, because instead of making phrases like Cicero he talks plainly, tells us that the obelisk before St. Peter's was erected at the behest of Nuncoré, king of Egypt, in the city of Heliopolis.Thanks to Karl Narveson for correcting a mistake I originally made in the French quotation.
L'homme qui nous apprend le plus de choses sur l'antiquité, parce qu'au lieu de faire des phrases comme Cicéron il conte net, Pline, nous dit que Nuncoré, roi d'Égypte, fit élever dans la ville d'Héliopolis l'obélisque qui est à Saint-Pierre.
Up Against a Wall
The world is dying because all across it has run the terrible mania for putting everybody but oneself up against a wall. Everybody. . . . Alle Juden, alle Christen, alle Franzosen. . . . Every Jew, Every Wop, every Dago. . . . Tous les Etrangers, les anglais, les boches, les américains. . . . From every State in the world, in every tongue, that one cry mounts to Heaven. . . . That shibboleth has run across the world with a rapidity ten . . . no, but a thousand . . . times greater than the mania that set all Christendom warring against Saracens, Provençaux, Bulgarians, and Moors . . . for the greater glory of the Redeemer and the recovery of His birthplace.
You must kill, you must kill, you must kill. . . . In the first place for the benefit of your fellow-countrymen. . . . I beg pardon, I mean citizens. . . . Then what? You don't much prosper because you have killed your world markets. . . . So what? . . . I will tell you what.
The dizzy air trembles above every one of the nations of Christendom and Heathenesse with yelled aspirations to Heaven for the blood of every inhabitant of every other nation. . . . But beneath that there is another note. . . . In every one of those nations half or part of the nation is beginning to yell for the putting up against the wall of the other half or part . . . and both halves or parts are trembling. In France the whole population is filled with anxiety. In every street Royalists, Fascists, Socialists, Communists are, each within their group, inciting the other to acts of violence . . . and trembling at the thought of what will happen to them if the other fellows win. Over the whole of this country spreads the mighty unease, the Right trembling and arming itself against a Left that trembles at the thought of what the Right is preparing against it . . . and yelling that all the Right must be put against a wall.
Good and Bad Breeding
Horses and asses and sheep we value according to breeding, Cyrnus, and wish them to be bred from the finest of sires. Yet our nobles gladly accept bad women, of low birth, to be their wives, if only the dowry is great. And a woman does not refuse a base companion in wedlock if he is rich: she admires wealthy men rather than good. Gold is what men adore; the base now mates with the noble; nobles mate with the base: money confuses the breed. So do not wonder, son of Polypaus, to see the breed of our townsmen daily grow worse: for excellence is mingling with worthlessness.
κριοὺς μὲν καὶ ὄνους διζήμεθα, Κύρνε, καὶ ἵππους
εὐγενέας, καὶ τις βούλεται ἐξ ἀγαθῶν
βήσεσθαι· γῆμαι δὲ κακὴν κακοῦ οὐ μελεδαίνει 185
ἐσθλὸς ἀνήρ, ἤν οἱ χρήματα πολλὰ διδῷ,
οὐδὲ γυνὴ κακοῦ ἀνδρὸς ἀναίνεται εἶναι ἄκοιτις
πλουσίου, ἀλλ᾽ ἀφνεὸν βούλεται ἀντ᾽ ἀγαθοῦ.
χρήματα γὰρ τιμῶσι· καὶ ἐκ κακοῦ ἐσθλὸς ἔγημε
καὶ κακὸς ἐξ ἀγαθοῦ· πλοῦτος ἔμειξε γένος. 190
οὕτω μὴ θαύμαζε γένος, Πολυπαΐδη, ἀστῶν
μαυροῦσθαι· σὺν γὰρ μίσγεται ἐσθλὰ κακοῖς.
Saturday, May 09, 2020
Culture and Civilization
Culture and Civilization — the living body of a soul and the mummy of it. For Western existence the distinction lies at about the year 1800 — on the one side of that frontier life in fullness and sureness of itself, formed by growth from within, in one great uninterrupted evolution from Gothic childhood to Goethe and Napoleon, and on the other the autumnal, artificial, rootless life of our great cities, under forms fashioned by the intellect. Culture and Civilization — the organism born of Mother Earth, and the mechanism proceeding from hardened fabric. Culture-man lives inwards, Civilization-man outwards in space and amongst bodies and "facts." That which the one feels as Destiny the other understands as a linkage of causes and effects, and thenceforward he is a materialist — in the sense of the word valid for, and only valid for, Civilization — whether he wills it or no, and whether Buddhist, Stoic or Socialist doctrines wear the garb of religion or not.
To Gothic and Doric men, Ionic and Baroque men, the whole vast form-world of art, religion, custom, state, knowledge, social life was easy. They could carry it and actualize it without "knowing" it. They had over the symbolism of the Culture that unstrained mastery that Mozart possessed in music. Culture is the self-evident. The feeling of strangeness in these forms, the idea that they are a burden from which creative freedom requires to be relieved, the impulse to overhaul the stock in order by the light of reason to turn it to better account, the fatal imposition of thought upon the inscrutable quality of creativeness, are all symptoms of a soul that is beginning to tire. Only the sick man feels his limbs. When men construct an unmetaphysical religion in opposition to cults and dogmas; when a "natural law" is set up against historical law; when, in art, styles are invented in place of the style that can no longer be borne or mastered; when men conceive of the State as an "order of society" which not only can be but must be altered1 — then it is evident that something has definitely broken down. The Cosmopolis itself, the supreme Inorganic, is there, settled in the midst of the Culture-landscape, whose men it is uprooting, drawing into itself and using up.
Scientific worlds are superficial worlds, practical, soulless and purely extensive worlds. The ideas of Buddhism, of Stoicism, and of Socialism alike rest upon them.2 Life is no longer to be lived as something self-evident — hardly a matter of consciousness, let alone choice — or to be accepted as God-willed destiny, but is to be treated as a problem, presented as the intellect sees it, judged by "utilitarian" or "rational" criteria. This, at the back, is what all three mean. The brain rules, because the soul abdicates. Culture-men live unconsciously, Civilization-men consciously. The Megalopolis — sceptical, practical, artificial — alone represents Civilization to-day. The soil-peasantry before its gates does not count. The "People" means the city-people, an inorganic mass, something fluctuating. The peasant is not democratic — this again being a notion belonging to mechanical and urban existence — and he is therefore overlooked, despised, detested. With the vanishing of the old "estates" — gentry and priesthood — he is the only organic man, the sole relic of the Early Culture. There is no place for him either in Stoic or in Socialistic thought.
1 Rousseau's Contrat Social is paralleled by exactly equivalent productions of Aristotle's time.
2 The first on the atheistical system of Sankhya, the second (through Socrates) on the Sophists, the third on English sensualism.