Tuesday, March 30, 2021


Early Plea for Social Distancing

From Alan Crease:
With a comment from Henry Riley in his inestimable Dictionary of Classical Quotations:
Also, I love this translation from 1753 with its semantic shift of 'sensible' and the quaint euphemism 'inconveniencies':
The quotation is from Horace, Epistles 1.5.29, more literally in H. Rushton Fairclough's translation:
The reek of goats makes crowded feasts unpleasant.

nimis arta premunt olidae convivia caprae.
Roland Mayer, commentary ad loc.:
nimis arta ... conuiuia resumes the modest note of the opening; H.'s dining room is as small as its furniture. premunt 'oppress' (OLD 8); H. offers a tactful caution in a sententious line, so that his friend does not pack in too many extras.

olidae, first here, perhaps as metrically handier than olens or foetidus, is not uncommon in later prose so may have had colloquial tone. caprae 'rank smell', a unique metaphorical use of the fem., encouraged by the use of caper and hircus (TLL VI 3.19-23). Despite pre-dinner bathing, perfume and the alipilus, sweaty armpits remained a nuisance, esp. noticeable since Romans shared the couches on which they reclined (cf. iungatur 26).
alipilus = "A person who removes hair from the armpits" (Oxford Latin Dictionary).

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