Monday, April 12, 2021

 

The Prime Motivator

Aristophanes, Wealth 181-183 (Chremylus to Wealth; tr. Benjamin Bickley Rogers):
Aye, everything that's done is done for thee.
Thou art alone, thyself alone, the source
Of all our fortunes, good and bad alike.

τὰ δὲ πράγματ᾿ οὐχὶ διὰ σὲ πάντα πράττεται;
μονώτατος γὰρ εἶ σὺ πάντων αἴτιος
καὶ τῶν κακῶν καὶ τῶν ἀγαθῶν, εὖ ἴσθ᾿ ὅτι.

 

Truth Overpowered

Sophocles, fragment 86, line 3 (tr. Hugh-Lloyd-Jones):
What people believe prevails over the truth.

τό τοι νομισθὲν τῆς ἀληθείας κρατεῖ.
A.C. Pearson ad loc.:

Sunday, April 11, 2021

 

Treasure Trove

Friedrich Schlegel (1772-1829), Athenaeum Fragments, no. 151 (tr. Peter Firchow):
Up to now everyone has managed to find in the ancients what he needed or wished for: especially himself.

Jeder hat noch in den Alten gefunden, was er brauchte oder wünschte, vorzüglich sich selbst.

 

Unbearable

Sophocles, fragment 84 (tr. Hugh Lloyd-Jones):
I do not know what I can say in reply to this, when good men are conquered by ignoble men. What city could put up with this?

κοὐκ οἶδ᾿ ὅτι χρὴ πρὸς ταῦτα λέγειν,
ὅταν οἵ γ᾿ ἀγαθοὶ πρὸς τῶν ἀγενῶν
κατανικῶνται·
ποία πόλις ἂν τάδ᾿ ἐνέγκοι;


3 κατανικῶνται codd.: πολὐ νικῶνται Blaydes, μέγα νικῶνται Herwerden
Liddell-Scott-Jones, s.v. κατανικάω:
strengthd. for νικάω, ὅταν οἵ γ᾽ ἀγαθοὶ πρὸς τῶν ἀγενῶν -νικῶνται S. Fr. 84, cf. J. AJ 3.2.2, PFlor. 338.11 (iii A. D.); ὑπὸ τῆς φθοροποιοῦ δυνάμεως Philum. Ven. 4.3.

 

Silence Has Many Beauties

Dear Mike,

Thanks for Silence (Wednesday 7/04), a subject dear to me — τι βαθὺ καὶ μυστηριῶδες ἡ σιγὴ saith Plutarch, in whose otherwise garrulous essay on prattlers appears the pleasingly succinct phrase: οὐδεὶς γὰρ οὕτω λόγος ὠφέλησε ῥηθεὶς ὡς πολλοὶ σιωπηθέντες (505F).

Here's another piece of Pindar:

Pindar, Nemean Odes 5.16-19 (tr. William H. Race):
I will halt, for not every exact truth
is better for showing its face,
and silence is often the wisest thing for a man to observe.

στάσομαι· οὔ τοι ἅπασα κερδίων
φαίνοισα πρόσωπον ἀλάθει᾿ ἀτρεκής·
καὶ τὸ σιγᾶν πολλάκις ἐστὶ σοφώτατον ἀνθρώπῳ νοῆσαι.
and a shard each from Aesch., Eur. and Soph.:

Aeschylus, fragment 188 (tr. A.H. Sommerstein):
For to many mortals silence is advantageous.

πολλοῖς γάρ ἐστι κέρδος ἡ σιγὴ βροτῶν.

Scholia (M B D) to Aelius Aristeides, Oration 3.97 (p. 190 Frommel; p. 501.17–18 Dindorf) (Αἰσχύλος . . . ἐν Προμηθεῖ δεσμώτῃ)
Euripides, fragment 219 (from Antiope; tr. Christopher Collard and Martin Cropp):
Silence is an ornament, a crown for a man without vice;
while chattering of this kind fastens upon pleasure,
and makes bad company, and is a weakness too for a city.

κόσμος δὲ σιγή, στέφανος ἀνδρὸς οὐ κακοῦ·
τὸ δ᾿ ἐκλαλοῦν τοῦθ᾿ ἡδονῆς μὲν ἅπτεται,
κακὸν δ᾿ ὁμίλημ᾿, ἀσθενὲς δὲ καὶ πόλει.


1 σιγή, στέφανος Ellis: σιγῆς στέφανος Stobaeus 3.36.10
Sophocles, fragment 81 (tr. Hugh Lloyd-Jones):
My son, be silent! Silence has many beauties.

ὦ παῖ, σιώπα· πόλλ᾿ ἔχει σιγὴ καλά.

Stobaeus, Anthology 3, 33, 3 (3, 678, 10 Hense); Plutarch, Talkativeness 502E; Arsenius, Violarium, p. 488 Walz = Apostol. 18, 62a (CPG 2, 737, 9)
στάσομαι.

Best wishes,
Eric [Thomson]

Saturday, April 10, 2021

 

Books on Books

From a friend's collection (click once or twice to enlarge):
But for "on" meaning "on top of" see this photograph of another section of his flat:

Friday, April 09, 2021

 

Love Ye Therefore the Stranger, For Ye Were Strangers

Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 562-568 (Theseus to Oedipus; tr. E.F. Watling):
I do not forget my own upbringing in exile,
like yours, and how many times I battled, alone,
with dangers to my life, in foreign lands.
I could not turn from any fellow-man,
coming as you come, or deny him help,
I know that I am man; in the day to come
my portion will be as yours, no more, no less.

... οἶδα γ᾽ αὐτὸς ὡς ἐπαιδεύθην ξένος,
ὥσπερ σύ, χὢς εἷς πλεῖστ᾽ ἀνὴρ ἐπὶ ξένης
ἤθλησα κινδυνεύματ᾽ ἐν τὠμῷ κάρᾳ·
ὥστε ξένον γ᾽ ἂν οὐδέν᾽ ὄνθ᾽, ὥσπερ σὺ νῦν,        565
ὑπεκτραποίμην μὴ οὐ συνεκσῴζειν· ἐπεὶ
ἔξοιδ᾽ ἀνὴρ ὢν χὤτι τῆς εἰς αὔριον
οὐδὲν πλέον μοι σοῦ μέτεστιν ἡμέρας.

 

Gods of the Hills

Guy Davenport (1927-2005), "Finding," The Geography of the Imagination (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1981), pp. 359-367 (at 364):
Some slackness of ritual, we are told, that hurt the feelings of the dii montes, the gnomes of the hills, allowed Rome to fall to the barbarians.
The phrase dii montes, two nominative plural nouns in apposition, looks odd to me. Did Davenport mean to write dii montium, as in 1 Kings 20.23?
dii montium sunt dii eorum. (Vulgate)

Their gods are gods of the hills. (KJV)
Or perhaps dii montani?

On the other hand cf. Lactantius, De mortibus persecutorum 11, which is ambiguous:
erat mater eius deorum montium cultrix.
Update from Eric Thomson:
Another possibility, a little closer to Davenport's 'montes' (if it is his and not a kind of haplographic misprint), would be 'montenses', as in ILS 3051, discussed in Robert E.A. Palmer, "Jupiter Blaze, Gods of the Hills, and the Roman Topography of CIL VI 377," American Journal of Archaeology 80.1 (Winter, 1976) 43-56.

 

You Can't Stand to Be Alone with Yourself

Horace, Satires 2.7.111-115 (tr. H. Rushton Fairclough):
And again, you cannot yourself bear to be in your own company, you cannot employ your leisure aright, you shun yourself, a runaway and vagabond, seeking now with wine, and now with sleep, to baffle Care. In vain: that black consort dogs and follows your flight.

                                         adde, quod idem
non horam tecum esse potes, non otia recte
ponere, teque ipsum vitas fugitivus et erro,
iam vino quaerens, iam somno fallere Curam;
frustra: nam comes atra premit sequiturque fugacem.
The translation omits horam — for an hour.

Quintus Horatius Flaccus, Satiren. Erklärt von Adolf Kiessling. 5. Auflage erneuert von Richard Heinze (Berlin: Weidmann, 1921), pp. 333-334:
111. adde quod idem: der Gipfel ist, daß er, der unter der Herrschaft fremder Menschen und Dinge leidet, nicht einmal mit sich selbst im Einvernehmen ist, sondern sich zu entfhehen sucht wie der Sklave dem harten Herrn. — ponere anwenden, häufig von Zeitbegriffen, wie tempus meridianum in . . . cogitatione ponere Cic. de orat. III 17, totum diem in consideranda causa Brut. 87; übertragen vom Kapital, das zinstragend angelegt wird, ponitur ep. 2, 70; a. p. 421. — teque ipsum vitas: hoc se quisque modo fugitat, quem scilicet ut fit effugere haud potis est Lucr. III 1066. — fugitivus et erro, Bezeichnung des Sklaven: erronem sic definimus, qui non quidem fugit, sed frequenter sine causa vagatur et temporibus in res nugatorias consumptis serius domum redit Ulpian Dig. XXI 1, 17, 14: dagegen quid sit fugitivus Ofilius sie definit: fugitivus est qui extra domini domum fugae causa quo se a domino celaret mansit ebd. 1. — premit sequiturque: sie heftet sich dir an die Seite als leidiger Weggenosse und folgt dir, wenn du ihr zu entfliehen versuchst. Der Gedanke ist das Motiv zu od. III I, 37 fg. und hat dem berühmten post equitem sedet atra cura seine Farbe geliehen.
Friedrich Nietzsche, Untimely Meditations, IV: Richard Wagner in Bayreuth, § 5 (tr. R.J. Hollingdale):
Alone with themselves! — the idea of this makes modern souls quake, it is their kind of terror and fear of ghosts.

Mit sich selber! — dieser Gedanke schüttelt die modernen Seelen, das ist ihre Angst und Gespensterfurcht.

Thursday, April 08, 2021

 

A Flood of Noise

Guy Davenport (1927-2005), "Jonathan Williams," The Geography of the Imagination (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1981), pp. 180-189 (at 189):
Anything worth knowing passes from one person to another. The book is still a viable way of communicating, provided one has taught oneself to find the book one needs to read. It isn't easy. All the electronic media are a flood of noise.

 

Philology

Richard F. Thomas, "Past and Future in Classical Philology," Comparative Literature Studies 27.1 (1990) 66-74 (at 69, note omitted):
How then do we define philology? Perhaps we can do no more than define it by paraphrase of its constituent parts, that by philology is meant the conducting of a φιλία (philia) relationship (that is, in a relationship of "affection," "respect," and "close proximity") to the λόγος (logos) (that is, the "word," or the "text"). The end or goal of this relationship may be seen as the following: philology believes, or philologists believe, that there are historical, objective truths about language and literature, and that, however great the obstacles, these truths may be reached, or at least approached, through a wide variety of methods.

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

 

Silence

Pindar, fragment 180 (tr. John Sandys):
Blurt not out unto all the word that is needless.
There are times when the path of silence is the safest,
while the word that is overbearing is a spur unto strife.

μὴ πρὸς ἅπαντας ἀναρρῆξαι τὸν ἀχρεῖον λόγον·
ἔσθ᾿ ὅτε πιστόταται σιγᾶς ὁδοί·
κέντρον δὲ μάχας ὁ κρατιστεύων λόγος.

 

Prayer

Horace, Carmen Saeculare 45-48 (tr. W.S. Marris):
Give righteousness to docile Youth
    And Age with peace and quiet bless,
Ye Gods! and grant the Nation growth
    And wealth and every happiness!

di, probos mores docili iuventae,
di, senectuti placidae quietem,
Romulae genti date remque prolemque
    et decus omne.
Quintus Horatius Flaccus, Oden und Epoden. Erklärt von Adolf Kiessling. 7. Auflage besorgt von Richard Heinze (Berlin: Weidmann, 1930), p. 479:
Die Periode ist kunstvoll gegliedert: wie die iuniores (45) und seniores (46) zusammen die Romula gens (47) bilden, so sind auch formell die beiden ersten Wünsche der Unterbau für den dritten: jene enthalten die Anrede di . . di, die auch beim dritten zu ergänzen ist, dieser das allen dreien gemeinsame Verbum date. — Das Gebet um probi mores der Jugend stellt H. voran: in ihnen die Grundlage des öffentlichen Wohles zu sehen, entsprach sowohl den Anschauungen des Augustus, die auch seine Gesetzgebung des Jahres 18 beherrschten (s. zu epp. II 1,1 cum . . res Italas . . moribus ornes, legibus emendes), wie der früher mehrfach von H. selbst gepredigten Lehre. Aber Sittlichkeit von den Göttern zu erflehen, widerspricht altrömischem, auch durch das stoische Dogma bekräftigten Empfinden: virtutem nemo umquam acceptam deo rettulit . . num quis, quod bonus vir esset, gratias dis egit umquam? Cic. nat. deor. III 86fg. Auch griechische Gebete um εὐνομία der Stadt oder καλοκἀγαθία der Bürger stehen nicht ganz auf gleicher Stufe. — Des Alters höchstes Glück ist die quies, deren Voraussetzung, Frieden und Eintracht im Lande, die Götter spenden mögen. — remque prolemque nimmt die Bitten des ersten Teils wieder auf, aber nun tritt als Drittes, gleich Wichtiges, decus hinzu: was damit gemeint ist, besagt die folgende Strophentrias.

 

A Solitary Man

Goethe, Torquato Tasso, Scene 1, Act 2, lines 243-249 (tr. Michael Hamburger):
It's an old fault in him that he seeks out
Solitude rather than society.
I pardon him for fleeing motley crowds,
Preferring to converse with his own mind
Freely in private, but I can not approve
When he avoids the circle of his friends.

Es ist ein alter Fehler daß er mehr
Die Einsamkeit als die Gesellschaft sucht.
Verzeih' ich ihm, wenn er den bunten Schwarm
Der Menschen flieht, und lieber frei im Stillen
Mit seinem Geist sich unterhalten mag;
So kann ich doch nicht loben, daß er selbst
Den Kreis vermeidet den die Freunde schließen.

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

 

Ludi Saeculares

Zosimus, New History. A Translation with Commentary by Ronald T. Ridley (Canberra: Australian Association for Byzantine Studies, 1982 = Byzantina Australiensia, 2), pp. 26-28 (2.5-7):
5. This is how we are told the festival was celebrated. Heralds go about summoning everyone to attend a spectacle they have never seen before and will never see again. In summer, a few days before it begins,the Quindecemviri sit in the Capitol and in the Palatine temple11 on a tribunal and distribute purifying agents, such as torches, brimstone and pitch, to the people; slaves do not participate in this, only freemen. (2) When all the people assemble in the above-mentioned places and in the temple of Diana on the Aventine, each one bringing wheat, barley and beans, they keep the all-night vigils to the Fates with great solemnity for nights. Then when the time arrives for the festival, which is celebrated for three days and three nights in the Campus Martius, the victims are dedicated on the bank of the Tiber at Tarentum. They sacrifice to Jupiter, Juno, Apollo, Latona, Diana, and also to the Fates, Lucina, Ceres, Dis and Proserpine. (3) On the first night of the spectacle, at the second hour, the emperor with the Quindecemviri sacrifices three lambs on three altars on the river bank, and sprinkling the altars with blood, he offers up the victims burnt whole. After preparing a stage like that in a theatre, they light torches and a fire, sing a newly composed song, and present sacred spectacles. (4) Those who participate are rewarded with the first fruits of the wheat, barley and beans, for they are distributed to all the people, as I said. The next day they go up to the Capitol where they offer the usual sacrifices, and thence to the theatre where games to Apollo and Diana are celebrated. On the second day noble ladies, gathering at the Capitol at the place specified by the oracle, pray to and sing the praises of the goddess, as is right. (5) On the third day in the temple of Apollo on the Palatine, twenty seven outstanding boys and as many girls, all of whom have two living parents, sing hymns and victory songs in both Greek and Latin for the preservation of the Roman empire.

There were other celebrations as well, in accordance with the gods' direction, and as long as they were all observed, the Roman empire remained intact. To convince us of the truth in these matters, I will add the Sibyl's oracle although others before me12 have already referred to it.

6. "When the longest span of human life has elapsed,
And the cycle of years comes round to one hundred and ten,
Remember Romans, especially if you are forgetful,
Remember all this, to the immortal gods
Sacrifice in the plain by the Tiber's boundless stream,
Where it is narrowest, when night comes over the earth,
And the sun hides its light. Sacrifice
To the all-engendering Fates, lambs and black she-goats.
Conciliate the Eleithuiai, who bring
Children to birth, at altars smoking with incense, as is proper.
To Earth sacrifice a pregnant black sow,
But let milky-white bulls be brought to Zeus' altar
By day, not at night. For to the heavenly deities
The way to sacrifice is in the day-time.
A young heifer with unblemished skin
Let Hera's temple receive from you. And Phoebus Apollo,
Also called Helios, should receive the same sacrifices,
Being Leta's son. Let Latin paeans
Sung by boys and girls fill the temple
Of the gods. Let the girls have their own separate chorus
And the boys stand apart, and each
Must have two living parents.
Let women subject to the bonds of marriage on that day
Kneel at the famous altar of Hera
And pray to the goddess. Purification will be given to all,
Both men and women, but especially to women.
Let everyone bring from their homes whatever is fit
To be brought by mortals offering first fruits
As propitiation to the infernal gods and the blessed gods
In heaven. Let everything be heaped up there,
In order that to provide for the men and women
Seated there you may be mindful. In the days
And nights that follow let the seats of the gods
Be thronged with people, and seriousness be mixed with laughter.
Remember these things, keep them always in mind,
And the whole land of Italy and the whole of Latium
Will wear a yoke fitting their necks beneath your sceptre."

7. Therefore, as the oracle truly says, while all this was observed according to direction, the Roman empire was safe and Rome remained in control of virtually all the inhabited world,13 but once this festival was neglected after Diocletian's abdication, the empire gradually collapsed and was imperceptibly barbarised.
Id., pp. 149-150:
1. This long digression on the ludi saeculares was apparently occasioned by Maximianus' plan to hold them in 303 (note history resumes in 305 in 8.1). It is commonly assumed that Zosimus' source here was someone like Phlegon who wrote a work in three books on Roman festivals — the oracle (chap. 6) appears in his Macrobioi (v. O. Keller, Rerum natural. script. gr. min., 1877, 57f) — or Verrius Flaccus through Phlegon. Sources for the secular games are the Augustan and Severan acta (CIL 6 32323, 32326-36), Horace, Carmen Saeculare, coins of Domitian (RIC 2.153), Censorinus, de die natali 17, Phlegon, Peri Makrobion (Jacoby FGH 2.257).

[....]

11. In the temples of the Capitoline triad and of Apollo, respectively.

12. v. note 1.

13. The oracle promises Rome rule only in Italy, but Zos. extends it to the whole world.

Monday, April 05, 2021

 

A Burden on the Community?

Sally Green, Prehistorian: A Biography of V. Gordon Childe (Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire: Moonraker Press, 1981), pp. 152-154 (footnotes omitted):
The manner of Gordon Childe's death caused speculation at the time and is still the subject of dispute among those who knew him. One of his last actions at Katoomba was to post to Professor W. F. Grimes, his successor at the Institute, a statement of his beliefs on old age—his own and other people's. He requested that it should not be opened until January 1968, explaining in an accompanying letter to Grimes that it contained 'matter that may in time be of historical interest to the Institute. But now it may cause pain and even provoke libel actions. After ten years it will be less inflammable.' In fact the statement was published for the first time in March 1980 in an editorial of the journal Antiquity. It seems to clarify both that Childe did indeed commit suicide, and some of his reasons for doing so. The statement is more than an expression of personal beliefs: it is also a thoughtful essay on the problem of old age; but it is the unusual revelation of his own feelings which make it a moving and even disturbing document:
THE CARRINGTON
KATOOMBA
BLUE MOUNTAINS, N.S.W.

The progress of medical science has burdened society with a horde of parasites—rentiers, pensioners and other retired persons whom society has to support and even to nurse. They exploit the youth which is expected to produce for them and even to tend them. While many are physically fit to work and some do, others are incapable of looking after themselves and have literally to be kept alive by the exertions of younger attendants who might be more profitably employed otherwise. And in so far as they do work, they block the way to promotion against younger and more efficient successors. For all in all persons over 65—there are of course numerous exceptions—are physically less capable than their juniors and psychologically far less alert and adaptable. Their reactions are slowed down; they can only gradually and reluctantly, if at all, adopt new habits and still more rarely assimilate fresh ideas. I am doubtful whether they can ever produce new ideas. Compulsory retirement from academic and judicial posts and from the civil services has of course done something to open the rewards of seniority to younger men, and has rescued students and subordinates from inefficient teachers and incompetent administrative chiefs. In British universities the survival of the old system during my lifetime has provided cautionary examples of distinguished professors mumbling lectures ten years out of date and wasting departmental funds on obsolete equipment. These instances probably outweigh better publicized cases of scientists and scholars who in their colleagues' opinion are 'forced to retire at the height of their powers'. But even when retired, their prestige may be such that they can hinder the spread of progressive ideas and blast the careers of innovators who tactlessly challenge theories and procedures that ten or fifteen years previously had been original and fruitful (I am thinking for instance of Arthur Evans).

In fact if the over-age put 'their knowledge, experience and skill at the service of society' as honorary officers or counsellors of learned societies, public bodies, charitable institutions or political parties, they are liable to become a gerontocracy—the worst possible form of leadership. In a changing world their wisdom and maturity of judgement do not compensate for their engrained prejudices and stereotyped routines of behaviour. No doubt the over 65s are competent to carry out routine investigations and undertake compilations of information, and may be helped therein by their accumulated knowledge. Yet after 65 memory begins to fail, and even well systematized information begins to leak away. My personal experience is confirmed by observations on senior colleagues. And new ideas, original combinations of old knowledge, come rarely if at all. Generally old authors go on repeating the same old theses, not always in better chosen language.

I have always considered that a sane society would disembarrass itself of such parasites by offering euthanasia as a crowning honour or even imposing it in bad cases, but certainly not condemning them to misery and starvation by inflation.

For myself I don't believe I can make further useful contributions to prehistory. I am beginning to forget what I laboriously learned—forget not only details (for these I never relied on memory), but even that there is something relevant to look up in my note-book. New ideas very rarely come my way. I see no prospect of settling the problems that interest me most—such as that of the 'Aryan cradle'—on the available data. In a few instances I actually fear that the balance of evidence is against theories that I have espoused or even in favour of those against which I am strongly biased. Yet at the same time I suspect this fear may be due to an equally irrational desire to overcome my own prejudices. (In history one has to make decisions on inadequate evidence, and, whenever I am faced with this necessity, I am conscious of such opposing tendencies.) I have no wish to hang on the fringe of learned societies or university institutions as a venerable counsellor whose authority may slow down progress. I have become too dependent on a lot of creature comforts—even luxuries—to carry through some kinds of work for which I may still be fitted; I just lack the will-power to face the discomforts and anxieties of travel in the USSR or China. And, in fact, though I have never felt in better health, I do get seriously ill absurdly easily; every little cold in the head turns to bronchitis unless I take elaborate precautions and then I am just a burden on the community. I have never saved any money, and, if I had, inflation would have consumed my savings. On my pension I certainly could not maintain the standard without which life would seem to be intolerable and which may be really necessary to prevent me becoming a worse burden on society as an invalid. I have always intended to cease living before that happens.

The British prejudice against suicide is utterly irrational. To end his life deliberately is in fact something that distinguishes Homo sapiens from other animals even better than ceremonial burial of the dead. But I don't intend to hurt my friends by flouting that prejudice. An accident may easily and naturally befall me on a mountain cliff. I have revisited my native land and found I like Australian society much less than European without believing I can do anything to better it; for I have lost faith in all my old ideals. But I have enormously enjoyed revisiting the haunts of my boyhood, above all the Blue Mountains. I have answered to my own satisfaction questions that intrigued me then. Now I have seen the Australian spring; I have smelt the boronia, watched snakes and lizards, listened to the 'locusts'. There is nothing more I want to do here; nothing I feel I ought and could do. I hate the prospect of the summer, but I hate still more the fogs and snows of a British winter. Life ends best when one is happy and strong.
Early in the morning of 19 October Gordon Childe set off walking near the beautiful Bridal Veil Falls, and fell 1,000 feet to his death below Govett's Leap at Blackheath in the Blue Mountains. He had gone to the Leap by taxi at eight o’clock, and told his regular driver, a Mr Harry Newstead, that he was walking along the cliff top to study the ranges and would be going back to the Carrington for lunch. Mr Newstead became concerned about noon when the professor had not returned, and started a search for him. A Sydney visitor to the Leap eventually found Childe's compass, mackintosh, pipe and spectacles at the top of the cliff and notified Blackheath police. The coroner's verdict was that he had died as a result of injuries 'accidentally received when he fell from a cliff top', and it was generally believed that he had missed his footing whilst studying the ranges and rock formations of the Blue Mountains.
Cf. Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 747-751 (tr. Alan H. Sommerstein):
What good does life do me? Why do I not straight away
throw myself from this rugged rock,
so that I can crash to the ground and be rid of all my troubles?
It is better to die once and for all
than to suffer terribly all the days of my life.

τί δῆτ᾿ ἐμοὶ ζῆν κέρδος, ἀλλ᾿ οὐκ ἐν τάχει
ἔρριψ᾿ ἐμαυτὸν τῆσδ᾿ ἀπὸ στύφλου πέτρας,
ὅπως πέδοι σκήψασα τῶν πάντων πόνων
ἀπηλλάγην; κρεῖσσον γὰρ εἰσάπαξ θανεῖν
ἢ τὰς ἁπάσας ἡμέρας πάσχειν κακῶς.
Hat tip: A friend.

Related posts:

 

Necessity

Aeschylus, Persians 293-294 (r. Herbert Weir Smyth):
Nevertheless mortals must endure affliction when it is heaven-sent.

ὅμως δ᾽ ἀνάγκη πημονὰς βροτοῖς φέρειν
θεῶν διδόντων.

Sunday, April 04, 2021

 

Boxer at Rest

Bronze statue of a boxer, from the Baths of Constantine (Museo Nazionale Romano-Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, inv. no. 1055):
See Amelia Arenas, "The Boxer," Arion 7.1 (Spring-Summer, 1999) 120-126. I don't have access to Wilfred Geominy and Stefan Lehmann, "Zum Bronzebild des sitzenden Faustkämpfers im Museo Nazionale Romano," Stadion. Internationale Zeitschrift für Geschichte des Sports 15 (1989) 139-175, or Paul Zanker, "Der Boxer," in Luca Giuliani, ed., Meisterwerke der antiken Kunst (Munich: C.H. Beck, 2005), pp. 28-49.

Saturday, April 03, 2021

 

Colleagues

Goethe, Faust, Part II, line 6949 (tr. David Luke):
My ancient history collegues are so boring.

Mich widern schon antikische Collegen.
The same (tr. Stuart Atkins):
I know I'll find my ancient colleagues odious.
K.J. Schröer ad loc.:
antikisch ist eine Neubildung; nicht als antik, d. h. dem griechisch-römischen Alterthum angehörend, sondern als antikisch: an Antikes mahnend, antik thuend, bezeichnet er die in einer classischen Walpurgisnacht zu erwartenden Gespenster.

 

Montaigne's Gyrations

Dear Mike,

I'm reading Montaigne aux champs (Ann-Marie Cocula and Alain Legros, Éditions Sud Ouest, 2011) — from which the photographed plates — and at the same time the Essays bk II.

It struck me, in the 'On the inconstancy of our actions' (II.1), that there is an extended metaphor, variously captured in the English translations, that might have come rather easily to an author with a circumferential library ensconced in a cylinder.

Toutes les contrarietez s'y trouvent selon quelque tour et en quelque façon. Honteux, insolent; chaste, luxurieux; bavard, taciturne; laborieux, delicat; ingenieux, hebeté; chagrin, debonaire; menteur, veritable; sçavant, ignorant, et liberal, et avare, et prodigue, tout cela, je le vois en moy aucunement, selon que je me vire; et quiconque s'estudie bien attentifvement trouve en soy, voire et en son jugement mesme, cette volubilité et discordance. (my italics)

selon quelque tour et en quelque façon

'according to some turn or removing' (John Florio)
'according to some twist or attribute' (Donald Frame)
'depending upon some twist or attribute' (M.A. Screech)

selon que je me vire

'according as I stirre or turne myself' Fl.
'according to how I turn' Fr.
'depending on how I gyrate' S.

cette volubilité et discordance

'this volubility and discordance' Fl.
'this gyration and discord' Fr.
'this whirring about and this discordancy' S.

Florio's use of ‘volubility' would fit nicely among the early citations:

OED s.v. volubility 2a. The capacity of revolving, rolling, or turning round; aptness to rotate about an axis or centre.
1593 R. Hooker Of Lawes Eccl. Politie i. iii. 53 If celestiall spheres should forget their wonted motions and by irregular volubilitie, turne themselues any way as it might happen.
1601 P. Holland tr. Pliny Hist. World I. 31 The world with continuall volubilitie and turning about it, driveth the..globe thereof into the forme of a round ball.
1656 T. Stanley Hist. Philos. II. viii. 26 He who thrust the Cylinder, gave it the beginning of motion, but did not give it volubility.

I wonder if it was equidistance that gave Montaigne equanimity?

Best wishes,
Eric [Thomson]

 

Beware

Walt Whitman, "By Blue Ontario's Shore," § 4:
Beware what precedes the decay of the ruggedness of states and men.

Friday, April 02, 2021

 

The Simple Truth

William Pitt Fessenden (1806-1869), quoted in Shelby Foote, The Civil War: A Narrative, Vol. 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville (1958; rpt. New York: Vintage Books, 1986), p. 524:
The simple truth is, there was never such a shambling half-and-half set of incapables collected in one government since the world began.

 

Truth and Falsehood

Montaigne, Essays 1.9 (On Liars; tr. Donald M. Frame):
If falsehood, like truth, had only one face, we would be in better shape. For we would take as certain the opposite of what the liar said. But the reverse of truth has a hundred thousand shapes and a limitless field. The Pythagoreans make out the good to be certain and finite, evil infinite and uncertain. A thousand paths miss the target, one goes to it.

Si, comme la vérité, le mensonge n'avait qu'un visage, nous serions en meilleurs termes. Car nous prendrions pour certain l'opposé de ce que dirait le menteur. Mais le revers de la vérité a cent mille figures et un champ indéfini. Les Pythagoriciens font le bien certain et fini, le mal infini et incertain. Mille routes dévoient du blanc, une y va.

 

Both

Aeschylus, Persians 715 (tr. Herbert Weir Smyth):
How did it happen? Did some stroke of pestilence or factional strife come upon the State?

τίνι τρόπῳ; λοιμοῦ τις ἦλθε σκηπτὸς ἢ στάσις πόλει;
A.F. Garvie ad loc.:

 

Diagnosis of Insanity

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 1054-1057 (tr. Alan H. Sommerstein):
That decision, and those words,
sound as though they came from a lunatic.
In what way do this fellow's boasts
fall short of insanity and mental derangement?

τοιάδε μέντοι τῶν φρενοπλήκτων
βουλεύματ᾿ ἔπη τ᾿ ἐστὶν ἀκοῦσαι.        1055
τί γὰρ ἐλλείπει μὴ <οὐ> παραπαίειν
ἡ τοῦδ᾿ εὐχή; τί χαλᾷ μανιῶν;


1056 οὐ suppl. Wecklein
1057 ἡ τοῦδ᾿ εὐχή C. Winckelmann, G.C.W. Schneider: ἢ τοῦδ᾿ εὐτυχῆ vel sim. codd.

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