Saturday, April 30, 2022


Apprehensions of Doom

J[ohan] Huizinga (1872-1945), In The Shadow of Tomorrow, tr. J[acob] H[erman] Huizinga (1936; rpt. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc., 1964), pp. 15-16:
We are living in a demented world. And we know it. It would not come as a surprise to anyone if tomorrow the madness gave way to a frenzy which would leave our poor Europe in a state of distracted stupor, with engines still turning and flags streaming in the breeze, but with the spirit gone.

Everywhere there are doubts as to the solidity of our social structure, vague fears of the imminent future, a feeling that our civilization is on the way to ruin. They are not merely the shapeless anxieties which beset us in the small hours of the night when the flame of life burns low. They are considered expectations founded on observation and judgment of an overwhelming multitude of facts. How to avoid the recognition that almost all things which once seemed sacred and immutable have now become unsettled, truth and humanity, justice and reason? We see forms of government no longer capable of functioning, production systems on the verge of collapse, social forces gone wild with power. The roaring engine of this tremendous time seems to be heading for a breakdown.
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.


Prayer to a Goddess

Euripides, Children of Heracles 770-783 (tr. David Kovacs):
But, lady Athena, since yours is the land and the city, and you are its mother, its mistress, and its guardian, divert to some other land the man who is unjustly bringing here from Argos the spear-hurling army! For by our valor we do not deserve to be cast from our homes.

For the honor of rich sacrifice is always offered to you, nor is the last day of the month forgotten nor the songs of young men or the choral chants. On a windy hill loud shouts of gladness resound to the beat of maiden dance-steps the whole night long.

ἀλλ᾽, ὦ πότνια, σὸν γὰρ οὖ-        770
δας γᾶς, καὶ πόλις, ἇς σὺ μά-
τηρ δέσποινά τε καὶ φύλαξ
πόρευσον ἄλλᾳ τὸν οὐ δικαίως
τᾷδ᾽ ἐπάγοντα δορυσσοῦν
στρατὸν Ἀργόθεν· οὐ γὰρ ἐμᾷ γ᾽ ἀρετᾷ        775
δίκαιός εἰμ᾽ ἐκπεσεῖν μελάθρων.

ἐπεί σοι πολύθυτος ἀεὶ
τιμὰ κραίνεται, οὐδὲ λά-
θει μηνῶν φθινὰς ἁμέρα,
νέων τ᾽ ἀοιδαὶ χορῶν τε μολπαί.        780
ἀνεμόεντι δ᾽ ἐπ᾽ ὄχθῳ
ὀλολύγματα παννυχίοις ὑπὸ παρ-
θένων ἰαχεῖ ποδῶν κρότοισιν.
The name Athena doesn't occur in the Greek (as Kovacs was well aware). Wilamowitz, "Excurse zu Euripides Herakliden," Hermes 17.3 (1882) 337-364, 496 (at 356-359), argued that the goddess here isn't the virgin Athena, but Ge, Mother Earth. I owe the Wilamowitz reference to John Wilkins, Euripides, Heraclidae. Edited with Introduction and Commentary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993; rpt. 1995), p. 150. Kovacs in his bibliography also mentions the article by Wilamowitz.

Wilkins in his commentary doesn't mention that lines 773-775 ("divert ... army") are an example of epipompē. "[T]he man who is unjustly bringing here from Argos the spear-hurling army" is of course Eurystheus, persecutor of the children of Heracles.

Friday, April 29, 2022


Through the Fault of One Man

Hesiod, Works and Days 240-247 (tr. Hugh G. Evelyn-White):
Often even a whole city suffers for a bad man who sins and devises presumptuous deeds, and the son of Cronos lays great trouble upon the people, famine and plague together, so that the men perish away, and their women do not bear children, and their houses become few, through the contriving of Olympian Zeus. And again, at another time, the son of Cronos either destroys their wide army, or their walls, or else makes an end of their ships on the sea.

πολλάκι καὶ ξύμπασα πόλις κακοῦ ἀνδρὸς ἀπηύρα,        240
ὅς κεν ἀλιτραίνῃ καὶ ἀτάσθαλα μηχανάαται.
τοῖσιν δ᾽ οὐρανόθεν μέγ᾽ ἐπήγαγε πῆμα Κρονίων
λιμὸν ὁμοῦ καὶ λοιμόν· ἀποφθινύθουσι δὲ λαοί.
οὐδὲ γυναῖκες τίκτουσιν, μινύθουσι δὲ οἶκοι
Ζηνὸς φραδμοσύνῃσιν Ὀλυμπίου· ἄλλοτε δ᾽ αὖτε        245
ἢ τῶν γε στρατὸν εὐρὺν ἀπώλεσεν ἢ ὅ γε τεῖχος
ἢ νέας ἐν πόντῳ Κρονίδης ἀποαίνυται αὐτῶν.
The same (tr. A.E. Stallings):
And often a whole city pays the price
For one bad man's outrageousness and vice.
Zeus son of Kronos rains down woe like weather
Out of the sky, hunger and plague together.
Men die. Wives don't give birth. Households reduce
According to the will of Olympian Zeus.
At other times, he mows broad armies down,
Or levels walls, or makes armadas drown.


Thought Crime

Benedict Spinoza (1632-1677), Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, XVIII (tr. R.H.M. Elwes):
The most tyrannical governments are those which make crimes of opinions, for everyone has an inalienable right over his thoughts...

ibi enim violentissime regnatur, ubi opiniones, quae uniuscujusque juris sunt, quo nemo cedere potest, pro crimine habentur...
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Philology Defined

Tom Shippey, The Road to Middle-Earth, rev. ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003), pp. 8-9, with notes on p. 362:
Dictionary definitions are, symptomatically, unhelpful. The OED, though conceived and created by philologists and borne along by the subject’s nineteenth-century prestige, has almost nothing useful to offer. ‘Philology’ it suggests, is: ‘I. Love of learning and literature; the study of literature in a wide sense, including grammar, literary criticism and interpretation … polite learning. Now rare in general sense.’ Under 2 it offers ‘love of talk, speech or argument’ (this is an offensive sense in which philology is mere logic-chopping, the opposite of true philosophy); while 3 recovers any ground abandoned in 1 by saying it is ‘The study of the structure and development of language; the science of language; linguistics. (Really one branch of sense 1.)’ So ‘philology’ is ‘lang.’ and ‘lit.’ too, all very charitable but too vague to be any use. The Deutsches Wörterbuch set in motion by Jacob Grimm (himself perhaps the greatest of all philologists and responsible in true philological style for both ‘Grimm’s Law of Consonants’ and Grimms’ Fairy Tales) could do little better, defining philologie with similar inclusiveness as ‘the learned study of the (especially Classical) languages and literatures’. The illustrative quotation from Grimm’s own work is more interesting in its declaration that ‘none among all the sciences is prouder, nobler, more disputatious than philology, or less merciful to error’; this at least indicates the expectations the study had aroused. Still, if you didn’t know what ‘philology’ was already, the Grimm definition would not enlighten you.

The matter is not cleared up by Holger Pedersen’s assertion of 1924 that philology is ‘a study whose task is the interpretation of the literary monuments in which the spiritual life of a given period has found expression’6 (for this leaves you wondering why ‘spiritual’ has been put in and ‘language’ for once left out); nor by Leonard Bloomfield’s aside a year later, when, proposing the foundation of a Linguistic Society for America, he explicitly rejected the term ‘philological’ and noted that while British scholars tended to use it to mean ‘linguistic’, Americans would prefer to keep the latter term and to revere philology rather more from a distance as ‘that noblest of sciences … the study of national culture … something much greater than a misfit combination of language plus literature’.7 Anyway some Britons were very far removed from his position. John Churton Collins, nineteenth-century man of letters and candidate for an Oxford Chair, had written in 1891 (it was part of his campaign to keep men like Joseph Wright, Tolkien’s tutor, out of any prospective English School at Oxford):
it [i.e. philology] too often induces or con rms that peculiar woodenness and opacity, that singular coarseness of feeling and purblindness of moral and intellectual vision, which has in all ages been the characteristic of mere philologists … [it] too often resembles that rustic who, after listening for several hours to Cicero’s most brilliant conversation, noticed nothing and remembered nothing but the wart on the great orator’s nose.8
Opinions such as this clung on a long time in England. Tolkien wrote in 1924 ‘“Philology” is in some quarters treated as though it were one of the things that the late war was fought to end’ (YWES 4, p. 37). When I first read this I took it to be a joke. However just three years before the British Board of Education had printed a Report on The Teaching of English in England which declared, among much else, that philology ought not to be taught to undergraduates, that it was a ‘German-made’ science, and (this comes in a footnote on p. 286) that by contributing to German arrogance it had led in a direct way to the outbreak of World War I.

6 Holger Pedersen, The Discovery of Language: Linguistic Science in the Nineteenth Century, trans. J.W. Spargo, 1931 (reprinted ed. Bloomington: Indiana U.P., 1962), p. 79.

7 L. Bloomfield, ‘Why a Linguistic Society?’, Language vol. 1 (1925), p. 1.

8 J.C. Collins, The Study of English Literature, 1891, but quoted here from D.J. Palmer, The Rise of English Studies (London: Oxford U.P., 1965), pp. 83–4.
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Punctuation Marks

Victor Klemperer (1881-1960), The Language of the Third Reich. LTI – Lingua Tertii Imperii: A Philologist's Notebook, tr. Martin Brady (2000; rpt. London: Continuum, 2006), p. 67:
From time to time it is possible to detect, both amongst individuals and groups, a characteristic preference for one particular punctuation mark. Academics love the semicolon; their hankering after logic demands a division which is more emphatic than a comma, but not quite as absolute a demarcation as a full stop. Renan the sceptic declares that it is impossible to overuse the question mark. The Sturm und Drang needed an unusually large number of exclamation marks. The early naturalists in Germany were fond of the dash: the sentences and lines of argument are not set down with bureaucratic precision, instead they break off, go off at tangents, remain incomplete and are, in keeping with the spirit of their inception, intrinsically fleeting, unstable and associative, akin both to an inner monologue and the kind of heated discussion that often takes place between people who are not used to systematic thinking.

Bei einzelnen und bei Gruppen läßt sich bisweilen eine gewisse charakteristische Vorliebe für dies oder jenes Interpunktionszeichen beobachten. Gelehrte lieben das Semikolon ; ihr logisches Bedürfnis verlangt nach einem Trennzeichen, das entschiedener als das Komma und doch nicht ganz so absolut abgrenzt wie der Punkt. Der Skeptiker Renan erklärt, man könne das Fragezeichen niemals zu oft anwenden. Der Sturm und Drang hat einen ungemeinen Bedarf an Ausrufezeichen. Der frühe Naturalismus in Deutschland bedient sich gern der Gedankenstriche: die Sätze, die Gedankenreihen sind nicht mit sorgfältiger Schreibtischlogik durchgeführt, sondern reißen ab, deuten an, bleiben unvollständig, haben ein flüchtiges, springendes, assoziatives Wesen, wie das dem Zustand ihres Entstehens, wie es einem inneren Monolog und auch einem erregten Gespräch, insbesondere zwischen denkungewohnten Menschen, entspricht.

Thursday, April 28, 2022



George Augustus Sala, The Thorough Good Cook: A Series of Chats on the Culinary Art, and Nine Hundred Recipes (London: Cassell and Company, Limited, 1895), p. 175:
Some people are prejudiced against eels. Combat the prejudice; subdue it.


Path to Power

Demosthenes 2.7 (tr. Arthur Wallace Pickard-Cambridge):
There is absolutely no one who has ever had dealings with him that he has not deluded; and it is by deceiving and winning over, one after another, those who in their blindness did not realize what he was, that he has risen as he has done.

ὅλως δ᾽ οὐδεὶς ἔστιν ὅντιν᾽ οὐ πεφενάκικ᾽ ἐκεῖνος τῶν αὐτῷ χρησαμένων· τὴν γὰρ ἑκάστων ἄνοιαν ἀεὶ τῶν ἀγνοούντων αὐτὸν ἐξαπατῶν καὶ προσλαμβάνων οὕτως ηὐξήθη.


Flies in Milk

François Villon (1431-c. 1463), "Ballade des menus propos" (tr. Galway Kinnell):
I know flies in milk
I know the man by his clothes
I know fair weather from foul
I know the apple by the tree
I know the tree when I see the sap        5
I know when all is one
I know who labors and who loafs
I know everything but myself

I know the coat by the collar
I know the monk by the cowl        10
I know the master by the servant
I know the nun by the veil
I know when a hustler rattles on
I know fools raised on whipped cream
I know the wine by the barrel        15
I know everything but myself

I know the horse and the mule
I know their loads and their limits
I know Beatrice and Belle
I know the beads that count and add        20
I know nightmare and sleep
I know the Bohemians' error
I know the power of Rome
I know everything but myself

Prince I know all things        25
I know the rosy-cheeked and the pale
I know death who devours all
I know everything but myself

Je congnois bien mouches en let,
Je congnois a la robe l'homme,
Je congnois le beau temps du let,
Je congnois au pommier la pomme,
Je congnois l'arbre a veoir la gomme,        5
Je congnois quant tout est de mesmes,
Je congnois qui besongne ou chomme,
Je congnois tout, fors que moy mesmes.
Je congnois pourpoint au colet,
Je congnois le moyne a la gonne,        10
Je congnois le maistre au varlet,
Je congnois au voille la nonne,
Je congnois quant pipeur jargonne,
Je congnois fols nourris de cresmes,
Je congnois le vin a la tonne,        15
Je congnois tout, fors que moy mesmes.

Je congnois cheval et mulet,
Je congnois leur charge et leur somme,
Je congnois Bietris et Belet,
Je congnois get qui nombre et somme,        20
Je congnois vision et somme,
Je congnois la faulte des Boesmes,
Je congnois le povoir de Romme,
Je congnois tout, fors que moy mesmes.

Prince, je congnois tout en somme,        25
Je congnois coulourez et blesmes,
Je congnois Mort qui tout consomme,
Je congnois tout, fors que moy mesmes.
On the first line see Samuel Singer, ed., Thesaurus Proverbiorum Medii Aevi. Lexikon der Sprichwörter des romanisch-germanischen Mittelalters, Band 3: Erbe — freuen (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1996), p. 296 (under FLIEGE / mouche / fly):
G. DE DEGUILEVILLE 5319 is Guillaume De Guileville (c. 1295-1380), Le Pèlerinage de la Vie Humaine, line 5319. Cf. the very loose translation of De Guileville by John Lydgate (1370-1451), The Pilgrimage of the Life of Man, ed. F.J. Furnivall (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., Limited, 1899, 1901, 1904 = Early English Text Society: Extra Series, LXXVII, LXXXIII, XCII), pp. 292-293 (lines 10677-10688):
I knowe kanvas, I knowe sylk,
I knowe the flye dreynt in the mylk,
I knowe A mesour, fful & halff,
I knowe the kowh & ek the kalff,        10680
Affter that men by name hem calle,
And dyfference off bestys alle.
I knowe the name off thys & that,
I knowe an hound, I knowe a caat,
And off bothe I knowë how,        10685
That nouther off hem ys calff nor kow:
I knowe ther namys eterychon:
Ther namys & they ben al on.
Stephanie A. Viereck Gibbs Kamath, Authorship and First-Person Allegory in Late Medieval France and England (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2012), pp. 173 ff., juxtaposed the passages from Villon and Lydgate. On Villon's ballad see Gertrude Schoepperle, "Pour le commentaire de Villon: note sur la Ballade des menus propos," Romania 49 (1923) 113-117.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022


An Occupational Disease

Victor Klemperer (1881-1960), The Language of the Third Reich. LTI – Lingua Tertii Imperii: A Philologist's Notebook, tr. Martin Brady (2000; rpt. London: Continuum, 2006), p. 57:
Although matters relating to my field of expertise were not uppermost in my mind during those terrible years, I did on occasion see before me the intelligent mocking face of Joseph Bédier. It is part of the job of the literary historian to discover the origins of motifs, fables and legends, and sometimes this branch of the discipline can develop into an occupational disease, a mania: everything must have an origin which is remote both geographically and historically — the more remote, the more erudite the researcher who locates the distant source — nothing is allowed to have its roots in the very place where one runs across it. I can still hear the irony in Bédier's voice as he elucidated ex cathedra in the Collège de France the supposedly oriental or supposedly 'druidic' origin of some comic or pious fairy-tale or of some literary curiosity. Bédier repeatedly demonstrated how certain situations and impressions can, at different times and in different places, provoke the same responses, because in certain things human nature proves itself to be extremely consistent over time and space.

So fern mir auch in den furchtbaren Jahren die Dinge meiner Fachwissenschaft lagen, ein paarmal habe ich doch das geistvoll spöttische Gesicht Joseph Bédiers vor mir gesehen. Es gehört zum Beruf des Literarhistorikers, den Quellen eines Motivs, einer Fabel, einer Legende nachzugehen, und manchmal wird aus diesem Berufszweig eine Berufskrankheit, eine Manie: alles muß räumlich und zeitlich weither kommen — je weiter her, um so gelehrter ist der Forscher, der den fernen Ursprung konstatiert —, nichts darf ebendort wurzeln, wo man ihm gerade begegnet. Ich höre noch die Ironie in Bédiers Stimme, wenn er vom Katheder des Collège de France herab über den vermeintlich orientalischen oder den vermeintlich „druidischen“ Ursprung eines komischen oder frommen Märchens oder irgendeines literarischen Einzelzuges sprach. Bédier wies immer darauf hin, wie gewisse Situationen und Eindrücke in den verschiedensten Zeiten und Zonen die gleichen Äußerungen hervorrufen können, weil sich in manchen Dingen die Gleichheit der menschlichen Natur über Zeit und Raum hinweg erweist.



James M. McPherson, For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), pp. 23-24 (note omitted):
Honor was primarily a masculine concept, not always appreciated by wives who sometimes felt that a man's duty to his family was more important than pride in his reputation. Several married Confederate volunteers therefore found it necessary to lecture their wives and daughters on the finer points of the male code of honor. Even though he was thirty-nine years old and father of several daughters, a South Carolina planter felt compelled to enlist after the Union capture of the South Carolina sea islands in November 1861. "I would be disgraced if I staid at home, and unworthy of my revolutionary ancestors," he explained to one daughter. "I stand alone in my family. There is no one bearing my name left to fight for our freedom. The honor of our family is involved....A man who will not offer up his life...does dishonor to his wife and children." An Arkansas planter, also in his late thirties, told his wife that "on your account & that of my children I could not bear the idea of not being in this war. I would feel that my children would be ashamed of me when in after times this war is spoken of & I should not have figured in it."


Passivum Divinum

David E. Aune, Revelation 6–16 (1998; rpt. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014 = Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 52B), pp. 394-395 (on 6:2):
2b καὶ ἐδόθη αὐτῷ στέφανος καὶ ἐξῆλθεν νικῶν καὶ ἵνα νικήσῃ, "A crown was given to him, and the conqueror went out that he might conquer even more." This is the first occurrence of the aorist passive ἐδόθη, a passivum divinum, "passive of divine activity," used twenty-two times in Revelation (the third plural ἐδόθησαν occurs twice in 8:2; 12:14; on the passivum divinum, see Comment on 9:3).
Id., p. 512 (on 9:3):
3b καὶ ἐδόθη αὐτῷ θυμιάματα πολλά, "and he was given a large quantity of incense." The use of the passive here (which may be the passive of divine activity, i.e., a circumlocution for the name of God) obscures the identification of the one who gives the angel the incense, though it is clear that the incense is placed in the λιβανωτὸς χρυσοῦς, the "golden censer."
The term passivum divinum was apparently coined by Joachim Jeremias, Neutestamentliche Theologie, Erster Teil: Die Verkündigung Jesu (Gütersloh: Gerd Mohn, 1971), pp. 20-24, although earlier scholars had noted the phenomenon of using the passive to avoid the divine name as subject of an active verb. John Bowden's translation of Jeremias, New Testament Theology: The Proclamation of Jesus (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1971), pp. 9-14, doesn't reproduce the Latin phrase but instead translates it as the "divine passive". Doubt is cast on the reality of the passivum divinum by ‪Peter-Ben Smit‬ and Toon Renssen, "The passivum divinum: The Rise and Future Fall of an Imaginary Linguistic Phenomenon," Filología Neotestamentaria 27 (2014) 3-24.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022


People of the Same Stock

Thomas F. O'Rahilly, A Miscellany of Irish Proverbs (Dublin: The Talbot Press Limited, 1922), p. 36 (#128):
Is bádhach lucht éinchine.

'People of the same stock are friendly.' Varr. báigeamhail or badhmhar (for bádhach); éinchéirde, 'of the same trade' (for éinchine). Begly (p. 212a) gives Is bádhach lucht aoinchéirde as the equivalent of "Birds of a feather flock together." Compare the Welsh Brodyr pob cerddorion, now understood as 'Musicians are brothers,' but doubtless handed down from the time when cerddorion would have meant (cf. Irish ceard, cerdaidhe) 'craftsmen' in general.
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The End of This Age is Drawing Near

Lactantius, Divine Institutes 7.15.7-10 (tr. Mary Francis McDonald):
[7] As the end of this age is drawing near, therefore, it is necessary that the state of human affairs be changed and fall to a worse one, evil growing stronger, so that these present times of ours, in which iniquity and malice have advanced to a very high peak, can be judged, however, happy and almost golden in comparison with that irremediable evil.

[8] Thus, then, justice will become rare; so will impiety and avarice and cupidity and passion increase, so that if there will be any good ones then by chance, they may become the prey of the wicked, and be harassed on all sides by the unjust. And the evil alone will be the opulent, for the good are to be thrown about in all disgraces and in want. All justice will be confounded and laws will perish.

[9] Then, each one will have nothing, unless it be to be sought or defended with his hands; daring and violence will get hold of all things. There will be no faith in men, no peace, no humanity, no shame, no truth, and so neither will there be security nor control, nor any rest from evil.

[10] Every land will be upset; wars will press everywhere; all nations will be in arms and will fight with each other; neighboring states will go to battle one with the other.

[7] propinquante igitur huius saeculi termino humanarum rerum statum commutari necesse est et in deterius nequitia invalescente prolabi, ut iam nostra haec tempora, quibus iniquitas et malitia usque ad summum gradum crevit, in illius tamen insanabilis mali comparatione felicia et prope aurea possint iudicari.

[8] ita enim iustitia rarescet, ita impietas et avaritia et cupiditas et libido crebrescet, ut si qui forte tum fuerint boni, praedae sint sceleratis ac divexentur undique ab iniustis, soli autem mali opulenti sint, boni vero in omnibus contumeliis atque in egestate iactentur. confundetur omne ius et leges interibunt.

[9] nihil quisquam tunc habebit nisi aut quaesitum aut defensum manu, audacia et vis omnia possidebunt. non fides in hominibus, non pax, non humanitas, non pudor, non veritas erit atque ita neque securitas neque regimen neque requies a malis ulla.

[10] omnis enim terra tumultuabitur, frement ubique bella, omnes gentes in armis erunt et se invicem oppugnabunt; civitates inter se finitimae proeliabuntur.


Luther Martin

M.E. Bradford, A Worthy Company: Brief Lives of the Framers of the United States Constitution (Marlborough: Plymouth Rock Foundation, 1982), p. 116 (on Luther Martin, of Baltimore, Maryland):
His figure in old-fashioned dress became a familiar sight on the streets of that thriving port city. Bemused in thought or buried in a book—so preoccupied and near-sighted that, according to legend, on one occasion when he accidentally bumped into a cow that had wandered onto Baltimore Street, he tipped his hat, apologized, and continued on his way. Martin's arguments in the courts even at this early date became famous for their orotundity, antiquarian scholarship, otiose circumambient development, and irresistible conclusion.



William Morris, The House of the Wolfings, chapter XIII:
I see the slain-heaps rising and the alien folk prevail...

Monday, April 25, 2022



Alfred the Great, preface to his translation of Pope Gregory's Cura Pastoralis (tr. Simon Keynes and Michael Lapidge):
Remember what punishments befell us in this world when we ourselves did not cherish learning nor transmit it to other men.

Geðenc hwelc witu us ða becomon for ðisse worulde, ða ða we hit nohwæðer ne selfe ne lufedon, ne eac oðrum monnum ne lefdon.


First Occurrence

Victor Klemperer (1881-1960), The Language of the Third Reich. LTI – Lingua Tertii Imperii: A Philologist's Notebook, tr. Martin Brady (2000; rpt. London: Continuum, 2006), p. 44:
Above all, however — and this is a principle I adhere to in relation to all significant observations of this kind — I never try to ascertain the first occurrence of an expression or a particular connotation of a given word, not only because this is completely impossible in most cases, but also because every time you believe you have found the first person who used the word there will always be some antecedent or other.

Vor allem aber, und dies ist nun eine Meinung, der ich prinzipiell in allen einschlägigen Reflexionen folge, vor allem komme es mir nie darauf an, die Erstmaligkeit eines Ausdrucks oder einer bestimmten Wortwertung festzustellen, denn das sei doch in den allermeisten Fällen unmöglich, und wenn man den ersten gefunden zu haben meine, der das betreffende Wort gebrauche, so finde sich immer noch ein Vorgänger hinzu.


Speech from Scythians

Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers 1.8.101 (on Anacharsis; tr. R.D. Hicks):
So outspoken was he that he furnished occasion for a proverb, "To talk like a Scythian."

παρέσχε δὲ καὶ ἀφορμὴν παροιμίας διὰ τὸ παρρησιαστὴς εἶναι, τὴν ἀπὸ Σκυθῶν ῥῆσιν.


A Perfect House

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Part I: The Fellowship of the Ring, 2nd ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1987), p. 237 (Book II, Chapter 1):
Frodo was now safe in the Last Homely House east of the Sea. That house was, as Bilbo had long ago reported, 'a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep, or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all.' Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear and sadness.

Sunday, April 24, 2022


The Language of a Clique

Victor Klemperer (1881-1960), The Language of the Third Reich. LTI – Lingua Tertii Imperii: A Philologist's Notebook, tr. Martin Brady (2000; rpt. London: Continuum, 2006), p. 17:
Following the Party's 'takeover (Machtübernahme)' in 1933 the language of a clique became the language of the people, i.e. it seized hold of all realms of public and private life: politics, the administration of justice, the economy, the arts, the sciences, schools, sport, the family, playschools and nurseries.

Durch die „Machtübernahme“ der Partei wurde sie 1933 aus einer Gruppen- zu einer Volkssprache, d. h. sie bemächtigte sich aller öffentlichen und privaten Lebensgebiete: der Politik, der Rechtsprechung, der Wirtschaft, der Kunst, der Wissenschaft, der Schule, des Sportes, der Familie, der Kindergärten und der Kinderstuben.


Swallowed Up

Honoré de Balzac, Sur Catherine de Médicis, part II: Études philosophiques (tr. Clara Bell):
When Religion and Royalty are swept away, the people will attack the great, and after the great they will fall upon the rich. Finally, when Europe is no more than a dismembered herd of men for lack of leaders, it will be swallowed up by vulgar conquerors. The world has presented a similar spectacle twenty times before, and Europe is beginning again.

Quand la religion et la royauté seront abattues, le peuple en viendra aux grands; après les grands, il s'en prendra aux riches. Enfin, quand l'Europe ne sera plus qu'un troupeau d'hommes sans consistance, parce qu'elle sera sans chefs, elle sera dévorée par de grossiers conquérants. Vingt fois déjà le monde a présenté ce spectacle, et l'Europe le recommence.


For the Kindred

William Morris, The Roots of the Mountains, chapter XXXV:
I would die for the kindred...



John Griffiths Pedley, Greek Art and Archaeology, 5th ed. (Boston: Prentice Hall, 2012), p. 196 (fig. 6.82):
Middle Corinthian aryballos: flutist, lead dancer, and copious inscription, a prize for a dancing contest. c. 575–550 BC. Height 2 ins (5 cm). American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Corinth Excavations
Some discussions: Drawing of the aryballos by Piet de Jong, from Threatte, p. 186, fig. 1:

Saturday, April 23, 2022


The Same Brown Sauce

Victor Klemperer (1881-1960), The Language of the Third Reich. LTI – Lingua Tertii Imperii: A Philologist's Notebook, tr. Martin Brady (2000; rpt. London: Continuum, 2006), p. 11:
[E]verything that was printed or spoken in Germany was standardized to conform to the official party line; anything which deviated in any way from the accepted pattern did not make it into the public domain; books, newspapers, official communications and forms issued by administrative departments all swam in the same brown sauce, and it was this absolute uniformity of the written language which explained the homogeneity of the spoken language.

[A]lles, was in Deutschland gedruckt und geredet wurde, war ja durchaus parteiamtlich genormt; was irgendwie von der einen zugelassenen Form abwich, drang nicht an die Öffentlichkeit; Buch und Zeitung und Behördenzuschrift und Formulare einer Dienststelle — alles schwamm in derselben braunen Sauce, und aus dieser absoluten Einheitlichkeit der Schriftsprache erklärte sich denn auch die Gleichheit aller Redeform.



Aristophanes, Birds 1447-1448 (tr. Stephen Halliwell):
For words can make the mind soar high above
And lift us up.

ὑπὸ γὰρ λόγων ὁ νοῦς τε μετεωρίζεται
ἐπαίρεταί τ᾽ ἄνθρωπος.

Friday, April 22, 2022


Naked Facts

Victor Klemperer (1881-1960), The Language of the Third Reich. LTI – Lingua Tertii Imperii: A Philologist's Notebook, tr. Martin Brady (2000; rpt. London: Continuum, 2006), p. 10:
[W]hen reading the newspaper I desperately tried to fish out the naked facts — forlorn enough in their nakedness — from the repulsive morass of speeches, commentaries and articles.

[B]ei der Zeitungslektüre war ich ängstlich bemüht, die nackten Tatsachen — sie waren in ihrer Nacktheit schon trostlos genug — aus der ekelhaften Brühe der Reden, Kommentare und Artikel herauszufischen.
Hat tip: Dave Haxton, fellow lover of language and friend.


The Days of My Youth

François Villon (1431-?), Le Grant Testament 169-176 (stanza XXII; tr. Galway Kinnell):
I mourn the days of my youth
When more than most I had my fling
Until age came upon me
They gave no warning they would leave
They didn't go away on foot
Or on horseback, alas how then?
All of a sudden they took flight
And didn't leave anything behind

Je plaings le temps de ma jeunesse,
Ouquel j'ay plus qu'autre gallé        170
Jusqu'a l'entrée de viellesse,
Qui son partement m'a celé:
Il ne s'en est a pié allé
N'a cheval: helas! comment don?
Soudainement s'en est vollé        175
Et ne m'a laissié quelque don.
Galler = s'amuser. Some editors surround lines 170-171 with parentheses, to show more clearly that the antecedent of qui in line 172 is le temps de ma jeunesse in line 169. I don't have access to the commentary of Jean Rychner and Albert Henry. See Jacques T.E. Thomas, Lecture du Testament Villon: huitains I à XLV et LXXVIII à LXXXIV (Genève: Librairie Droz S.A., 1992), pp. 72-73.



Euripides, Medea 579 (tr. E.P. Coleridge):
No doubt I differ from the mass of men on many points.

ἦ πολλὰ πολλοῖς εἰμι διάφορος βροτῶν.
Gennaro Tedeschi ad loc.:
: introduce una forte affermazione. πολλὰ πολλοῖς: poliptoto enfatico, cfr. Aesch. Suppl. 451. διάφορος: si veda Eur. Iph. Aul. 558-559: διάφοροι δὲ φύσεις βροτῶν, / διάφοροι δὲ τρόποι.

Thursday, April 21, 2022


The Life Was Sweet to Them Which They Knew

William Morris, The House of the Wolfings, chapter IV:
For long had they abided there in the Mark, and the life was sweet to them which they knew, and the life which they knew not was bitter to them: and Mirkwood-water was become as a God to them no less than to their fathers of old time; nor lesser was the mead where fed the horses that they loved and the kine that they had reared, and the sheep that they guarded from the Wolf of the Wild-wood: and they worshipped the kind acres which they themselves and their fathers had made fruitful, wedding them to the seasons of seed-time and harvest, that the birth that came from them might become a part of the kindred of the Wolf, and the joy and might of past springs and summers might run in the blood of the Wolfing children. And a dear God indeed to them was the Roof of the Kindred, that their fathers had built and that they yet warded against the fire and the lightening and the wind and the snow, and the passing of the days that devour and the years that heap the dust over the work of men. They thought of how it had stood, and seen so many generations of men come and go; how often it had welcomed the new-born babe, and given farewell to the old man: how many secrets of the past it knew; how many tales which men of the present had forgotten, but which yet mayhap men of times to come should learn of it; for to them yet living it had spoken time and again, and had told them what their fathers had not told them, and it held the memories of the generations and the very life of the Wolfings and their hopes for the days to be.

Dear Mike,

Thanks for The Life was Sweet for Them Which They Know. I did blench at some of Morris’s outlandish word-stock. As is well known, his Anglish wasn’t always wholesome. For ‘guarded’ it would have been better had he written ‘shielded’, for ‘warded against’ ‘shunned’, for ‘devour’ ‘gloup’, for ‘secrets’ ‘hidings’, for ‘present’ ‘today’, for ‘memories’ ‘mindings’, and for ‘generations’ ‘forefathers’. Cross-channel migrants get short shrift in the Kingdom of the Anglish.

What would Morris have made of Broutgang, I wonder?

Best wishes,
Eric [Thomson]


Brought to One's Knees

Herodotus 6.27.3 (tr. A.D. Godley):
Then the sea-fight broke upon them and beat the city to its knees.

μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα ἡ ναυμαχίη ὑπολαβοῦσα ἐς γόνυ τὴν πόλιν ἔβαλε.
Lionel Scott ad loc.:
As with us, the Greeks had the expression of being brought to one's knees; of men, e.g. in boxing (Simon Epig XXV Page) or warfare (5.92b; Aesch Ag 64), and of a country, as here and of the Persians in 480, Aesch Pers 929–30, ἐπὶ γόνυ κέκλιται.
A.F. Garvie on Aeschylus, Persians 929-930:
[F]or being brought to one's knees as a sign of submission cf. Sol. fr. 4a, Hdt. 6.27.3 ἡ ναυμαχίη ὑπολαβοῦσα ἐς γόνυ τὴν πόλιν ἔβαλε, E. IT 332–3, App. Bell. Civ. 3.30, Phryn. Soph. 71.11–13 de Borries. It is probably a metaphor from wrestling (cf. Ag. 63–4).
David Sider on Simonides, Epigrams 31.2:
[A] Greek wrestler lost a round/πτῶμα if any part of his body (other than the bottoms of his feet) touched the ground. (Three falls won the match.) Cf. the epigram on Damostratus, οὗ κατ᾿ εὔγυρον πάλην | ψάμμον πεσόντος νῶτον οὐκ ἐσφράγισεν (App. Pl. 25 = Philip 65 GP). Since it was often the knee that touched the ground first, a statement to this effect came to have a more general sense of "defeat"; cf. A. Pe. 913-14 [sic, read 929-30] Ἀσία δὲ χθών...| αἰνῶς αἰνῶς ἐπὶ γόνυ κέκλιται (but here Persian proskynesis is also evoked), Hdt. 6.27 ἡ ναυμαχίη ὑπολαβοῦσα [a technical wrestling term] ἐς γόνυ τὴν πόλιν ἔβαλε; see further E. N. Gardiner, "Wrestling," JHS 25 (1905) 20-1; W. Rudolph, Olympische Kampfsport in der Antike (Berlin 1965) 33; Ebert 184-5. (Gardiner changed his mind later, thinking that a wrestler could fall on his knee without losing the round: Athletics of the Ancient World [ Oxford 1930] 183, on which point he agrees with J. Jünther, Philostratos über Gymnastik [Leipzig 1909] 212.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2022


The Anavysos Kouros

Funerary statue at Athens, National Archaeological Museum (inv. no. 3851):
H.A. Shapiro, "The Iconography of Mourning in Athenian Art," American Journal of Archaeology 95.4 (October, 1991) 629-656 (at 632):
I would suggest that the principal impulse behind most of these representations—specifically those associated with the tombs of men—is the heroization of the dead. By "heroization" I do not mean that the dead are turned into objects of cult or chthonic demi-gods, as in some parts of Greece,19 but rather that they are likened to the heroes whose aretē was celebrated in the Homeric poems. In sculpture, an obvious example would be a kouros like the Kroisos from Anavysos, of the 530s: youthful, powerful, idealized, heroically nude, his death in battle described in an elegiac couplet carved on the base. Even the diction is self-consciously Homeric: "Stand and mourn at the monument of dead Kroisos, whom furious Ares destroyed one day as he fought in the front ranks."20 The information that Kroisos died in battle is significant, among other reasons, because there is no hint of this in the nude figure, no armor or attribute of war.

19 Cf. Himmelmann 41-42, who shows how the "heroischer Totenkult" alluded to on gravestones from many other parts of Greece is absent from the Attic series.

20 Athens NM 3851; G.M.A. Richter, Kouroi3 (London 1970) no. 136; on the epigram see P.A. Hansen, Carmina epigraphica graeca (Berlin 1983) no. 27. On the Homeric diction and vocabulary of Archaic Attic grave epigrams see P. Friedlander and H.B. Hoffleit, Epigrammata (Berkeley 1948) 32-35. On the correlation of the epigram with the monument see U. Ecker, Grabmal und Epigram. Studien zur frühgriechischen Sepulkraldichtung (Stuttgart 1989) and J.W. Day, "Rituals in Stone: Early Greek Grave Epigrams and Monuments," JHS 109 (1989) 16-28, esp. 19 on Kroisos. On the particular connotations of promachoi ("those who fight in the front ranks") see I. Morris, Burial and Ancient Society (Cambridge 1987) 199. On the social aspects of funerary kouroi see now A.M. D'Onofrio, "Korai e kouroi funerari attici," AnnNap 4 (1982) 135-70.
The Greek as printed in Paul Friedländer and Herbert B. Hoffleit, Epigrammata: Greek Inscriptions in Verse from the Beginnings to the Persian Wars (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1948), p. 86:
Στῆθι καὶ οἴκτιρον Κροίσου παρὰ σῆμα θανόντος
    ὅν ποτ' ἐνὶ προμάχοις ὤλεσε θοῦρος Ἄρης.


The Fort of Rathangan

Anonymous (7th century), "The Fort of Rathangan," in Kuno Meyer, tr., Selections from Ancient Irish Poetry, 2nd ed. (London: Constable & Company Ltd, 1913), p. 93:
The fort over against the oak-wood,
Once it was Bruidge's, it was Cathal's,
It was Aed's, it was Ailill's,
It was Conaing's, it was Cuilíne's,
And it was Maeldúin's:
The fort remains after each in his turn—
And the kings asleep in the ground.
For the Old Irish original see Kuno Meyer, Miscellanea Hibernica (Urbana: University of Illinois, 1917), p. 25.

Hat tip: Stephen Pentz.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022


Brought up in the Classics

J.R.R. Tolkien, letter to Robert Murray (December 2, 1953):
Certainly I have not been nourished by English Literature, in which I do not suppose I am better read than you; for the simple reason that I have never found much there in which to rest my heart (or heart and head together). I was brought up in the Classics, and first discovered the sensation of literary pleasure in Homer. Also being a philologist, getting a large part of any aesthetic pleasure that I am capable of from the form of words (and especially from the fresh association of word-form with word-sense), I have always best enjoyed things in a foreign language, or one so remote as to feel like it (such as Anglo-Saxon).


The World

François Villon, The Testament, lines 373-376 (tr. Galway Kinnell):
Let me say no more
The world is only a cheat
No one can fight off death
Or lay up store against it

D'en plus parler je me desiste
Le monde n'est qu'abusion
Il n'est qui contre mort resiste
Ne qui treuve provision


A Lie

The Works of Francis J. Grimké. Edited by Carter G. Woodson, Vol. II: Special Sermons (Washington, D.C.: The Associated Publishers, Inc., 1942), p. 72:
"A lie should be trampled on and extinguished wherever found. I am for fumigating the atmosphere when I suspect that falsehood, like pestilence, breathes around me."—Carlyle.
Other books repeat the claim that Carlyle said this. But I can't find it in any of his works, and I suspect that the attribution to Carlyle is itself a falsehood. The source seems to be Mrs. Jameson [Anna Brownell Jameson], A Commonplace Book of Thoughts, Memories, and Fancies, Original and Selected (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1854), p. 112:
I think, with Carlyle, that a lie should be trampled on and extinguished wherever found. I am for fumigating the atmosphere when I suspect that falsehood, like pestilence, breathes around me.

Monday, April 18, 2022


An Athenian Blacksmith

R.C. Jebb, Bentley (London: Macmillan and Co., 1889), pp. 35-36:
In 1693 Joshua Barnes, of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, was editing Euripides, and wrote to Bentley, asking his reasons for an opinion attributed to him,—that the 'Letters of Euripides' were spurious. Bentley gave these reasons in a long and courteous reply. Barnes, however, resented the loss of a cherished illusion. Not only did he omit to thank Bentley, but in the preface to his Euripides (1694) he alluded to his correspondent's opinion as 'a proof of effrontery or incapacity.' Barnes is a curious figure, half comic half-pathetic, among the minor persons of Bentley's story. Widely read, incessantly laborious, but uncritical and vain, he poured forth a continual stream of injudicious publications, English or Greek, until, when he was fifty-one, they numbered forty-three. The last work of his life was an elaborate edition of Homer. He had invested the fortune of Mrs Barnes in this costly enterprise,—obtaining her somewhat reluctant consent, it was said, by representing the Iliad as the work of King Solomon. Queen Anne declined the dedication, and nothing could persuade poor Barnes that this was not Bentley's doing. Bentley said of Barnes that he probably knew about as much Greek, and understood it about as well, as an Athenian blacksmith. The great critic appears to have forgotten that Sophocles and Aristophanes were appreciated by audiences which represented the pit and the gallery much more largely than the boxes and the stalls. An Athenian blacksmith could teach us a good many things.


Attracted by the Great Charms of Philology

J.K. Newman, "Philologists or Philosophers?" Illinois Classical Studies 27/28 (2002-2003) 197-212 (at 200):
A caption to a scene painted before 1590 on the wall of the Sistine salon in the Vatican Library reads:

The Attalid kings, attracted by the great charms of philology, establish a distinguished Library at Pergamum for the common enjoyment.
Dulcis is often a much stronger term in Latin than mawkish English translations allow. What does Dido imply, for example, in her dulce at Aen. IV.318? Dulcedinibus here reminds one of an image in the opening of Marlowe's Faustus (v. 34): "Sweet Analytics, 'tis thou hast ravished me!" Delectatio recalls the Renaissance ideal of dilettantismo and of course Dante's noi leggiavamo un giorno per diletto....11 Nowadays, a scholar would be described as a "dilettante" only to be dismissed. When did that change occur? Was it good that it should happen?

11 Inf. 5.127, the Paolo and Francesca episode. Readers will remember Eduard Fraenkel's application of this passage to the genesis of a philological venture (Kleine Schriften [Rome 1964] II. 339).
The caption is adapted from Vitruvius Was the scene painted before 1590? See Thomas Hendrickson, Ancient Libraries and Renaissance Humanism: The De Bibliothecis of Justus Lipsius (Boston: Brill, 2017), p. 23:
In 1610-1611, Paul V refurbished two halls adjoining the library, the Sale Paoline, with frescoes painted by Giovan Battista Ricci da Novara, following an iconographic program designed by Baldassarre Ansidei (and perhaps Alessandro Rainaldi).66 In the first hall, a cycle of ancient libraries faces a cycle of popes improving the Vatican library. The very first fresco depicts Ozymandias founding a library in Egypt, the second the Attalid kings and the Pergamene Library, the third Asinius Pollio and the Atrium of Liberty, the fourth Trajan and his library, and finally Matthias Corvinus and the library at Buda.

66 Cirulli (1997: 141-147) provides background on the frescoes of the Sale Paoline.
Cirulli is Beatrice Cirulli, "L'affresco della riforma dei tribunali nelle Sale Paoline della Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana: una proposta di lettura," Roma moderna e contemporanea 5 (1997) 141-153, which is unavailable to me. I can't find a reproduction of the Ricci's fresco representing the Attalid kings and the Pergamene Library on the World Wide Web, but according to Hendrickson it features the inscription adapted from Vitruvius.


The Carpathian and the Hare

Aristotle, Rhetoric 3.11.14 (1313 a 14-17; tr. John Henry Freese, with his note):
Proverbs also are metaphors from species to species. If a man, for instance, introduces into his house something from which he expects to benefit, but afterwards finds himself injured instead, it is as the Carpathiana says of the hare; for both have experienced the same misfortunes.

a Or, "he says it is a case of the Carpathian and the hare." An inhabitant of the island of Carpathus introduced a brace of hares, which so multiplied that they devoured all the crops and ruined the farmers (like the rabbits in Australia).

καὶ αἱ παροιμίαι δὲ μεταφοραὶ ἀπ᾽ εἴδους ἐπ᾽ εἶδος εἰσίν· οἷον ἄν τις ὡς ἀγαθὸν πεισόμενος αὐτὸς ἐπαγάγηται, εἶτα βλαβῇ, ὡς ὁ Καρπάθιός φασι τὸν λαγώ· ἄμφω γὰρ τὸ εἰρημένον πεπόνθασιν.


Not Pleased at the Prospect

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Part I: The Fellowship of the Ring, 2nd ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1987), p. 168 (Book I, Chapter 9):
One of the travellers, a squint-eyed ill-favoured fellow, was foretelling that more and more people would be coming north in the near future. 'If room isn't found for them, they'll find it for themselves. They've a right to live, same as other folk,' he said loudly. The local inhabitants did not look pleased at the prospect.

Sunday, April 17, 2022



Simonides, Epigrams 28 Sider = Greek Anthology 16.3 (tr. W.R. Paton):
Diophon, the son of Philo, was victor at the Isthmian and Pythian games
in jumping, fleetness of foot, throwing the quoit, throwing the javelin, and wrestling.

Ἴσθμια καὶ Πυθοῖ Διοφῶν ὁ Φίλωνος ἐνίκα
    ἅλμα, ποδωκείην, δίσκον, ἄκοντα, πάλην.
See D.L. Page, Further Greek Epigrams (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), pp. 260-262, and Adolf Köhnken, "Epinician Epigram," in Peter Bing and Jon Steffen Bruss, edd., Brill's Companion to Hellenistic Epigram down to Philipp (Leiden: Brill, 2007), pp. 295-312 (at 300-301).


Completely Mistaken

Demosthenes 1.21 (tr. J.H. Vince):
It is worth while, however, to observe and consider how Philip stands today. His present prospects are not so bright or satisfactory as they seem and as a superficial observer might pronounce them; nor would he ever have provoked this war had he thought that he would be bound to fight himself. He hoped that on his first entry he would carry all before him, and he finds himself completely mistaken. This unforeseen result confounds and discourages him...

ἄξιον δ᾽ ἐνθυμηθῆναι καὶ λογίσασθαι τὰ πράγματ᾽ ἐν ᾧ καθέστηκε νυνὶ τὰ Φιλίππου. οὔτε γάρ, ὡς δοκεῖ καὶ φήσειέ τις ἂν μὴ σκοπῶν ἀκριβῶς, εὐτρεπῶς οὐδ᾽ ὡς ἂν κάλλιστ᾽ αὐτῷ τὰ παρόντ᾽ ἔχει, οὔτ᾽ ἂν ἐξήνεγκε τὸν πόλεμόν ποτε τοῦτον ἐκεῖνος, εἰ πολεμεῖν ᾠήθη δεήσειν αὐτόν, ἀλλ᾽ ὡς ἐπιὼν ἅπαντα τότ᾽ ἤλπιζε τὰ πράγματ᾽ ἀναιρήσεσθαι, κᾆτα διέψευσται. τοῦτο δὴ πρῶτον αὐτὸν ταράττει παρὰ γνώμην γεγονὸς καὶ πολλὴν ἀθυμίαν αὐτῷ παρέχει...

Saturday, April 16, 2022



C.J. Ruijgh (1930-2004), Autour de “τε épique”. Études sur la syntaxe grecque (Amsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert, 1971), pp. xi-xii:
Nous aurions voulu consacrer plus de temps à la révision de la rédaction de notre ouvrage afin de le rendre moins imparfait. Malheureusement, les réformes actuelles du système universitaire impliquent la multiplication des réunions auxquelles on est contraint d'assister, souvent pour y écouter certains étudiants, certains assistants et — ne l'oublions pas! — certains professeurs dont le désir de bavarder en public a enfin trouvé les moyens de se satisfaire. Nous craignons que notre travail en ait souffert, mais comme il nous paraissait encore moins préférable de remettre à l'infini la publication, nous nous sommes décidé à le publier sons sa forme actuelle.
Ruijgh's book on the two letter Greek word τε contains xii+1082 pages.

Photograph of C.J. Ruijgh:


An Indispensable Skill

James Diggle, review of André Tuilier, Étude comparée du texte et des scholies d'Euripide. Premiers compléments aux 'Recherches critiques sur la tradition du texte d'Euripide' (Paris: Klincksieck, 1972 = Études et commentaires, 77), in Gnomon 46.8 (December, 1974) 746-749 (at 747):
Now, to work out the relationships between manuscripts is a complex task, and one which requires, in various degrees, many skills. But there is one skill whose acquisition is indispensable and whose absence renders the presence of all other skills vain: and that is a sound knowledge of Greek. For if you cannot tell a good manuscript reading from a bad one, then you have no business to be pronouncing an opinion on the relationships of the manuscripts which contain those readings.


Speedy Death

Euripides, Medea 153-154 (tr. David Kovacs):
Death will come all too quickly: do not pray for it.

σπεύσει θανάτου τελευ-
τά· ηδὲν τόδε λίσσου.

τελευτά Weil: τελευτάν codd.
Donald J. Mastronarde ad loc.:
σπεύσεις θανάτου τελευτάν 'will you hasten the end that is death?' A second-person question is best here, since the point must be that death will come soon enough for a mortal, so one should not seek it out. Blaydes' σπεύσεις, a small change of the variant σπεύσει, is needed; adjusting σπεύσει to unambiguous second person σπεύσηι is less attractive because the middle is unlikely (the active appears over 70 times in tragedy, the middle once in Aeschylus). Some follow Weil in altering to τελευτά and keeping σπεύσει as third person (Kovacs: 'death will come all too quickly'), but this is less attractive because σπεύδω normally has an animate subject and emphasizes intentional speed. Least likely is the interpretation of the scholiasts, who treat the verb as third person with ἔρος as the subject.
The passage isn't discussed in Kovacs' Euripidea (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994), or in James Diggle, "On the Manuscripts and Text of Euripides, Medea: II. The Text," Classical Quarterly 34.1 (1984) 50-65. For σπεύσηι see C.W. Willink, "Euripides, Medea 131-213," in his Collected Papers on Greek Tragedy (Leiden: Brill, 2010), pp. 486-503 (at 492):
ϲπεύϲηι seems acceptable for the sense 'Will you hasten death for yourself?'18 Diggle accepts ϲπεύϲειϲ (Blaydes). Kovacs prefers Weil's ϲπεύϲει … τελευτά· but can a τέλοϲ/τελευτή be said to ϲπεύδειν?

18 The middle is rare, but cf. A. Ag. 151 ϲπευδοµένα θυϲίαν. As Dale observed (on Hel. 664) 'there are so many verbs that sooner or later drop into a rare middle, especially in the future'.


Double Standard

Ammianus Marcellinus 30.5.3 (on the Emperor Valentinian; tr. John C. Rolfe):
And indeed it was his way to be severe in punishing common people, but more lenient towards personages of higher rank, even when they deserved a severe rebuke in harsh words.

eo videlicet more, quo erat severus in gregariis corrigendis, remissior erga maiores fortunas vel verbis asperioribus incessendas.
See E.A. Thompson, The Historical Work of Ammianus Marcellinus (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1947), p. 105.

Friday, April 15, 2022


A Real Academic Discipline

Tom Shippey, The Road to Middle-Earth, rev. ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003), p. xvii:
Of course when it comes to philology, a real discipline, one ought to get things right.


At the Gym

Red-figure kylix attributed to the Foundry Painter, c. 500-475 BC, in the British Museum (1850.3-2.2):
Description from John Griffiths Pedley, Greek Art and Archaeology, 5th ed. (Boston: Prentice Hall, 2012), p. 222 (fig. 7.25):
At left, boxing match; in center, pankratiasts struggle; at right, a trainer about to whack contestant trying to gouge out his opponent's eye (a foul); behind, a discus hangs from the wall in a bag.


Super Powers

Menander, Dyskolos 153-159 (tr. Maurice Balme):
Now Perseus, wasn't he a lucky man
In two respects? He could take wings on high
And never meet the men who walked on earth.
And then he had this gift with which he turned
All people who annoyed him into stone.
I wish I had that gift! Then there would be
No shortage of stone statues everywhere!

εἶτ' οὐ μακάριος ἦν ὁ Περσεὺς κατὰ δύο
τρόπους ἐκεῖνος, ὅτι πετηνὸς ἐγένετο
κοὐδενὶ συνήντα τῶν βαδιζόντων χαμαί,        155
εἶθ' ὅτι τοιοῦτο κτῆμ' ἐκέκτηθ' ᾧ λίθους
ἅπαντας ἐπόει τοὺς ἐνοχλοῦντας; ὅπερ ἐμοὶ
νυνὶ γένοιτ'· οὐδὲν γὰρ ἀφθονώτερον
λιθίνων γένοιτ' ἂν ἀνδριάντων πανταχοῦ.


Never the Twain Shall Meet

Assyrian proverb, in Benjamin R. Foster, Before the Muses: An Anthology of Akkadian Literature, 3rd ed. (Bethesda: CDL Press, 2005), p. 431:
Flesh is flesh, blood is blood.
Alien is alien, foreigner is foreigner.
See also W.G. Lambert, Babylonian Wisdom Literature (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1996), p. 271.

Thursday, April 14, 2022


Lower and Upper Voices

Assyrian proverb, in Benjamin R. Foster, Before the Muses: An Anthology of Akkadian Literature, 3rd ed. (Bethesda: CDL Press, 2005), p. 428:
While the backside was breaking wind,
the mouth brought forth babble (?).
This reminds me of some poems in the Greek Anthology (tr. W.R. Paton).

11.241 (by Nicarchus):
Your mouth and your breech, Theodorus, smell the same, so that it would be a famous task for men of science to distinguish them. You ought really to write on a label which is your mouth and which your breech, but now when you speak I think you break wind.

τὸ στόμα χὠ πρωκτὸς, Θεόδωρε, σοῦ ὄζει,
  ὥστε διαγνῶναι τοῖς φυσικοῖς καλὸν ἦν.
ἦ γράψαι σε ἔδει ποῖον στόμα, ποῖον ὁ πρωκτός,
  νῦν δὲ λαλοῦντος σου βδεῖν σ᾽ ἐνόμιζον ἐγώ.
11.242 (by Nicarchus):
I can't tell whether Diodorus is yawning or has broken wind, for he has one breath above and below.

οὐ δύναμαι γνῶναι, πότερον χαίνει Διόδωρος,
  ἢ βδῆσ᾽· ἓν γὰρ ἔχει πνεῦμα κάτω καὶ ἄνω.
11.415 (by Antipater or Nicarchus):
Who, Mentorides, so obviously transferred your breech to the place where your mouth formerly was? For you break wind and do not breathe, and you speak from the lower storey. I wonder how your lower parts became your upper!

τίς σοῦ, Μεντορίδη, προφανῶς οὕτως μετέθηκεν
  τὴν πυγήν, οὗπερ τὸ στόμ᾽ ἔκειτο πρὸ τοῦ;
βδεῖς γάρ, κούκ ἀναπνεῖς, φθέγγῃ δ᾽ ἐκ τῶν καταγείων.
  θαῦμά μ᾽ ἔχει τὰ κάτω πῶς σου ἄνω γέγονεν.



The Dearest Thing

Euripides, Medea 328-329 (tr. David Kovacs):
O fatherland, how I think of you now!
Yes, after my children it is much the dearest thing to me.

ὦ πατρίς, ὥς σου κάρτα νῦν μνείαν ἔχω.
πλὴν γὰρ τέκνων ἔμοιγε φίλτατον πολύ.
Donald J. Mastronarde ad loc.:
φίλτατον πολύ: the notion that one's own homeland is dear or beloved is a commonplace: Phoen. 359, 388, 406-7, Hcld. 506-7, fr. 360.53-4; for rating this love before or after that of children (or parents) see also Erechtheus fr. 1 TGFS.


A People

Augustine, City of God 19.24 (tr. Gerald G. Walsh and Daniel J. Honan):
It is possible to define a 'people' not as Cicero does but as 'a multitude of reasonable beings voluntarily associated in the pursuit of common interests.' In that case, one need only consider what these interests are in order to determine of what kind any particular people may be. Still, whatever these interests are, so long as we have a multitude of rational beings—and not of irresponsible cattle—who are voluntarily associated in the pursuit of common interests, we can reasonably call them a 'people,' and they will be a better or worse people according as the interests which have brought them together are better or worse interests.

Si autem populus non isto, sed alio definiatur modo, velut si dicatur: "Populus est coetus multitudinis rationalis rerum quas diligit concordi communione sociatus", profecto, ut videatur qualis quisque populus sit, illa sunt intuenda, quae diligit. Quaecumque tamen diligat, si coetus est multitudinis non pecorum, sed rationalium creaturarum et eorum quae diligit concordi communione sociatus est, non absurde populus nuncupatur; tanto utique melior, quanto in melioribus, tantoque deterior, quanto est in deterioribus concors.
Daniel J. Honan (1911-1972) was a priest in the small town where I grew up. I served under him as an altar boy. His sermons, full of quotations from Vergil and Augustine and Dante, were a revelation and an inspiration to me, as were his radio broadcasts commenting on classical music. He was a friend of conductor Pierre Monteux. Father Honan once loaned me a recording of Beethoven's Fidelio. He had a greater influence on my intellectual development than any school teacher or professor ever did.


Another Tom Shippey Quote

From Joel Eidsath:
"...and so I wrote the book which is called Tolkien: Author of the Century. And I knew they'd hate it. Oh, and they did. And indeed I remember another distinguished professor of literature shouting down the phone not to me but to another interviewer, "Author of the Century?! Has the fellow never heard of Proust?" Yes, the fellow has heard of Proust, actually. Shall we conduct the rest of this interview in French? I bet mine's better than yours, you monoglot clown." (clip at timestamp)


Richard Bentley's Colloquial Manner

R.C. Jebb, Bentley (London: Macmillan and Co., 1889), pp. 16-17 (on Bentley's Epistola ad Joannem Millium):
It is interesting to see how strongly this first production bears the stamp of that peculiar style which afterwards marked Bentley's criticism. It is less the style of a writer than of a speaker who is arguing in a strain of rough vivacity with another person. The tone is often as if the ancient author was reading his composition aloud to Bentley, but making stupid mistakes through drowsiness or inattention. Bentley pulls him up short; remonstrates with him in a vein of good-humoured sarcasm; points out to him that he can scarcely mean this, but—as his own words elsewhere prove—must, no doubt, have meant that; and recommends him to think more of logic. Sometimes it is the modern reader whom Bentley addresses, as if begging him to be calm in he face of some tremendous blunder just committed by the ancient author, who is intended to overhear the aside:—'Do not mind him; he does not really mean it. He is like this sometimes, and makes us anxious; but he has plenty of good sense, if one can only get at it. Let us see what we can do for him.'

This colloquial manner, with its alternating appeals to author and reader, in one instance exposed Bentley to an unmerited rebuke from Dr Monk. Once, after triumphantly showing that John of Antioch supposed the Boeotian Aulis to be in Scythia, Bentley exclaims, 'Good indeed, Johnny!' (Euge vero, ὦ Ἰωαννίδιον). Dr Monk thought that this was said to Dr John Mill, and reproved it as 'an indecorum which neither the familiarity of friendship, nor the license of a dead language, can justify towards the dignified Head of a House.' Mr Maehly, in a memoir of Bentley, rejoins: 'That may be the view of English high life; a German savant would never have been offended by the expressions in question.' (Das mag Anschauung des englischen high life sein: einem deutschen Gelehrten würden die fraglichen Ausdrücke nie aufgefallen sein.) But our Aristarchus was not addressing the Principal of St Edmund Hall; he was sportively upbraiding the ancient chronicler. Indeed, Monk's slip—a thing most rare in his work—was pointed out in a review of his first edition, and is absent from the second.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022


Not Proper English

Tom Shippey, Roots and Branches. Selected Papers on Tolkien (Berne: Walking Tree Publishers, 2007), p. 313:
"Need brooks no delay, yet late is better than never".... Incidentally, at the end of my US citizenship interview I was told to write a sentence to prove I could speak English, and wrote that one, with sardonic reference to the years the whole process had taken: the interviewer rejected it as not proper English.


A Misanthrope

Menander, Dyskolos 5-10 (tr. Norma Miller):
This farm here on my right is where Knemon lives: he's a real hermit of a man, who snarls at everyone and hates company — 'company' isn't the word: he's getting on now, and he's never addressed a civil word to anyone in his life! He's never volunteered a polite greeting to anyone...

τὸν ἀγρὸν δὲ τὸν ἐπὶ δεξί᾿ οἰκεῖ τουτονὶ
Κνήμων, ἀπάνθρωπός τις ἄνθρωπος σφόδρα
καὶ δύσκολος πρὸς ἅπαντας, οὐ χαίρων τ᾿ ὄχλῳ —
"ὄχλῳ" λέγω; ζῶν οὗτος ἐπιεικῶς χρόνον
πολὺν λελάληκεν ἡδέως ἐν τῷ βίῳ
οὐδενί, προσηγόρευκε πρότερος δ᾿ οὐδένα...
A.W. Gomme and F.H. Sandbach on lines 6-10:
Related post: Apanthropology.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022


Earth, Moon, and Sun

Euripides, Children of Heracles 748-757 (tr. Mark Griffith):
Earth and night-long Moon,
and most brilliant beams of the god who lights mankind,
carry the message for me!
Shout it out to heaven,
right up to the ruler's throne
and into the house of gray-eyed Athena:
I am ready, now that we've accepted these suppliants,
I am ready, for the land of my fathers and for our homes too,
to cut through danger with my gray steel.

Γᾶ καὶ παννύχιος σελά-
   να καὶ λαμπρόταται θεοῦ
φαεσιμβρότου αὐγαί,        750
ἀγγελίαν μοι ἐνέγκαι,
ἰαχήσατε δ᾽ οὐρανῷ
καὶ παρὰ θρόνον ἀρχέταν
γλαυκᾶς τ᾽ ἐν Ἀθάνας·
μέλλω τᾶς πατριώτιδος        755
γᾶς, μέλλω καὶ ὑπὲρ δόμων
ἱκέτας ὑποδεχθεὶς
κίνδυνον πολιῷ τεμεῖν σιδάρῳ.



Tom Shippey, Roots and Branches. Selected Papers on Tolkien (Berne: Walking Tree Publishers, 2007), pp. 303-304 (footnote omitted):
It should come as no surprise if I remark that Tolkien was from an early age interested in rather unexpected genres. One was nursery-rhyme: he rewrote 'The Cat and the Fiddle' and 'The Man in the Moon' as independently-published poems, and reworked the latter for us in the Prancing Pony scene in The Lord of the Rings. Another was the riddle: he wrote 'Enigmata Anglo-Saxonica Nuper lnventa Duo,' or 'Two Recently Discovered Anglo-Saxon Riddles' in the 1920s, and once again reworked and expanded some of this material in The Hobbit a few years later. A third was fairy-tale: there is no need to dilate on Tolkien's scholarly and creative interest in these. And a fourth was names, both place-names and personal names. I would go so far as to say that Tolkien never stopped thinking about the latter. He could not see a signpost, or pick up a telephone directory, without pondering the etymology of what he saw, and his own readiness to invent onomastically is evident in Farmer Giles, in The Lord of the Rings, in The Silmarillion, and elsewhere — though not, as it happens, in The Hobbit.

The first question I ask is what connects these very different genres? And I answer, they are all what I call 'survivor-genres.' They exist in perfectly familiar, indeed everyday form, in the modern period. But there is every indication that they are also very old. They point, then, to a kind of continuity between the ancient and the modern world which Tolkien valued very highly, though it is a completely unscholarly one (which scholars actually rarely notice or study). In fact all these genres have become déclassé. They have sunk down, like fairy-tales and nursery-rhymes, to being the possession of children, or old wives — Jacob Grimm called the latter ammen und spinnerinnen, 'nannies and spinstresses' — or like names are felt to have lost any meaning they once had. But to some, this makes them especially valuable. Things which are known to have no value, or no meaning, are not interfered with. They are like the immensely valuable Anglo-Saxon poetry texts surviving, which were left behind in badly-run, inefficient libraries, used as bread-boards and beer-stands, and accordingly not rewritten to make them up-to-date, or thrown out by smart librarians to make room for government-authorised publications. Tolkien, like other philologists, had a keen eye for survivor-genres, and valued the information about the past which they contained, and which they continued to make relevant (one way or another) into the present.

What I want to say is that there is another survivor-genre which Tolkien valued highly, and that is the proverb, or maxim, or wise saying. These also are common knowledge — very common knowledge. They are also often as old as our knowledge of English, or older.

Monday, April 11, 2022


Death of an Enemy

Euripides, Children of Heracles 1049 (tr. Mark Griffith):
The man's an enemy, and by his death
brings blessings and prosperity.

ἐχθρὸς μὲν ἁνήρ, ὠφελεῖ δὲ κατθανών.


Bodily Images

Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World, tr. Helene Iswolsky (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984), p. 319:
Wherever men laugh and curse, particularly in a familiar environment, their speech is filled with bodily images. The body copulates, defecates, overeats, and men's speech is flooded with genitals, bellies, defecations, urine, disease, noses, mouths, and dismembered parts.


Dues Valt

Isiah Holmes, "Wisconsin communities see uptick in white supremacist activity," Wisconsin Examiner (April 11, 2022):
Several of these simple signs were hung around Milwaukee City Hall during the summer of protest in 2020. Dues Valt is latin for “God Wills It,” a reference to the Crucades which has been adopted by modern white supremacist groups.
I read "Dues Vult" on the sign. At any rate, the correct Latin is "Deus Vult" (also read "Crusades" for "Crucades"). On the war cry see e.g. Peter Frankopan, The First Crusade: The Call from the East (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012), p. 3 (note omitted):
The response to Urban’s speech was rapturous. Up went the cry: ‘Deus vult! Deus vult! Deus vult!’ — ‘God wills it! God wills it! God wills it!’ The crowd listened intently to hear what the Pope would say next. ‘Let that be a war-cry for you in battle because it came from God. When you mass together to attack the enemy, this cry sent by God will be the cry of all — “God wills it! God wills it!”’
Id., p. 109:
Bohemond, the son of Robert Guiscard, was another stellar recruit. According to the anonymous author of the Gesta Francorum, Bohemond first heard about the expedition when he was besieging Amalfi in 1096 and noticed men passing on their way towards the ports of southern Italy shouting ‘Deus vult! Deus vult!



Love Your Enemies

Counsels of Wisdom, lines 42-43, in Benjamin R. Foster, Before the Muses: An Anthology of Akkadian Literature, 3rd ed. (Bethesda: CDL Press, 2005), p. 413:
Do no evil to the man who disputes with you,
Requite with good the one who does evil to you.
Cf. Matthew 5:44 (King James Version, with Greek substantially from the Society of Biblical Literature edition):
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.

ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν καὶ προσεύχεσθε ὑπὲρ τῶν διωκόντων ὑμᾶς.

εὐλογεῖτε τοὺς καταρωμένους ὑμᾶς καλῶς ποιεῖτε τοῖς μισοῦσιν ὑμᾶς
post ὑμῶν add. RP
The parallel is noted in Hans Dieter Betz, The Sermon on the Mount (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995), p. 309.

Sunday, April 10, 2022


An Old Warrior

William Morris, The Roots of the Mountains, chapter XXV:
As ye know and may see, I am now very old, and, as the word goes, unmeet for battle: yet might I get me to the field, either on mine own legs or on the legs of some four-foot beast, I would strike, if it were but one stroke, on these pests of the earth.
Cf. Vergil, Aeneid 2.507-511 (he = Priam; tr. H. Rushton Fairclough):
When he saw the fall of the captured city, saw the doors of the house wrenched off, and the foe in the heart of his home, old as he is, he vainly throws his long-disused armour about his aged trembling shoulders, girds on his useless sword, and rushes to his death among his thronging foes.

urbis uti captae casum convulsaque vidit
limina tectorum et medium in penetralibus hostem,
arma diu senior desueta trementibus aevo
circumdat nequiquam umeris et inutile ferrum
cingitur, ac densos fertur moriturus in hostis.


A Puzzle

James M. Redfield, Nature and Culture in the Iliad: The Tragedy of Hector (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1975), p. xii:
I thus remind the reader of a puzzle, a puzzle which is central to this book. It is this: Why do we care about these stories, which are so far from us and which are anyway not true? This, like many central puzzles, seems most of the time no puzzle at all; yet at times, when one is in the proper mood, it can appear to be an absolutely baffling mystery. We carry with us in our solitude these fictions the poets have left us, we brood over their meanings, feel joy and sorrow at the events, make of the characters our friends and enemies, and find ourselves somehow nourished by the experience. These unreal worlds become at certain moments more real to us than reality itself; that is the puzzle.


Sowing Discord

Aristophanes, Wasps 40-41 (tr. Jeffrey Henderson):
Good heavens, he means to divide our people!

                                         οἴμοι δείλαιος·
τὸν δῆμον ἡμῶν βούλεται διιστάναι.
Douglas M. MacDowell ad loc.:
Kleon is also accused in Knights 817-18 of splitting (διατειχίζων) the Athenians. The two passages show that be was regarded by some Athenians as a cause of disunity in the city, presumably because he encouraged one social class to regard another as opponents.


A Bad Night

The Poem of the Righteous Sufferer, Tablet II, lines 106-107, in Benjamin R. Foster, Before the Muses: An Anthology of Akkadian Literature, 3rd ed. (Bethesda: CDL Press, 2005), p. 401:
I spent the night in my dung like an ox,
I wallowed in my excrement like a sheep.




Tom Shippey, Roots and Branches. Selected Papers on Tolkien (Berne: Walking Tree Publishers, 2007), pp. 172-173:
[P]hilology, I may as well say, has always been a highly democratic tradition, quite unlike the increasingly haughty and confessedly elitist tradition of modernist literature (let alone post-modernist literature).

Saturday, April 09, 2022


Google Translate

Roger Pearse thinks that Google Translate's ability to translate Latin into English has improved. Perhaps it has. But I just fed it the beginning of Terence's Adelphoe, and here is the gibberish it generated:
Storax! Aeschinus did not return to dinner tonight
nor any of the slaves who had gone against them.
of course they say this truly: if you are anywhere
and if you stop there, it's better to fall out
what the wife says about you and what she thinks in your mind
angry than those who forgive parents.
wife, if you forbear, or think of loving you
to love yourself or to drink and to obey in spirit
and that it is good for you, only for him, since he is ill.
The Latin:
Storax! non rediit hac nocte a cena Aeschinus
neque seruolorum quisquam, qui aduorsum ierant.
profecto hoc uere dicunt: si absis uspiam
atque ibi si cesses, euenire ea satius est,
quae in te uxor dicit et quae in animo cogitat
irata, quam illa quae parentes propitii.
uxor, si cesses, aut te amare cogitat
aut tete amari aut potare atque animo obsequi
et tibi bene esse, soli sibi quom sit male.
A real translation, by John Sargeaunt (stage direction removed):
Storax! Then Aeschinus never came back last night after dinner
nor any of the servant lads who went to escort him.
I am sure it is a true saying that if you are away anywhere
or at least slow to return it is better to have happen to you
what your wife says at you, even what she thinks in her heart,
when she is in a temper, than what indulgent parents fear.
The wife, if you are late, thinks you are after another woman
or another woman after you, or that you are at a drinking-party and making merry,
enjoying yourself without her while she is miserable.



Page Smith, John Adams, Vol. II: 1784-1826 (Garden City: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1962), p. 847:
In any contest for the affections of the people, the man who perceives the terrible ambiguity of life, who sees into the heart of darkness and insists on speaking of what he sees, will lose out to the confident optimist who assures the people that they are good and that their troubles are due, quite simply, to a small group of malign or willful men.


Source of a Latin Quotation Revisited

Dear Mr. Gilleland,

On the recent entry in your blog "Source of a Latin Quotation":

In the second part of Don Quixote, Cervantes puts in the mouth of a character (Sansón Carrasco) these words referring to the first part of the book: “Los niños lo manosean, los mozos lo leen, los hombres lo entienden y los viejos lo celebran” (“Children handle it, youths read it, men understand it and old men celebrate it”)

The resemblance to "aliud legunt pueri, aliud viri, aliud senes" is enough to suggest that perhaps Cervantes had that maxim in mind when he wrote that. I don't know if Cervantes knew and read Hugo Grotius (Hugo Grocio in Spain), but it seems unlikely to me, and more likely that the Latin maxim is, if not from Terentius, then from some Roman author...


José Mardomingo Sierra

Friday, April 08, 2022


The Harsh Storm-Cloud of War

Simonides, Epigrams 2 = Greek Anthology 16.26 (tr. John H. Molyneux):
We were overwhelmed beneath a glen of Mount Dirphys, and a grave-mound has been heaped over us near the Euripus by our community; quite rightly, for we lost our lovely youth in abiding the harsh storm-cloud of war.

Δίρφυος ἐδμήθημεν ὑπὸ πτυχί, σῆμα δ᾽ ἐφ᾽ ἡμῖν
   ἐγγύθεν Εὐρίπου δημοσίᾳ κέχυται—
οὐκ ἀδίκως· ἐρατὴν γὰρ ἀπωλέσαμεν νεότητα,
   τρηχεῖαν πολέμου δεξάμενοι νεφέλην.


The Old Days of the Fathers

William Morris, The Roots of the Mountains, chapter XV:
So sang they: and much were all men moved at their singing, and there was none but called to mind the old days of the Fathers, and the years when their banner went wide in the world.


Weary of Reading Newspapers

John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams (February 27, 1793):
I am weary of reading Newspapers. The Times are so full of Events, the whole Drama of the World is such a Tragedy that I am weary of the Spectacle. Oh my Sweet little farm, what would I not give to enjoy thee without Interruption?
Adams echoes Horace, Satires 2.6.60 (o rus, quando ego te adspiciam...).

Thursday, April 07, 2022


Thus Then Lived This Folk

William Morris, The Roots of the Mountains, chapter I:
Thus then lived this folk in much plenty and ease of life, though not delicately nor desiring things out of measure. They wrought with their hands and wearied themselves; and they rested from their toil and feasted and were merry: to-morrow was not a burden to them, nor yesterday a thing which they would fain forget: life shamed them not, nor did death make them afraid.
Id., chapter XXI:
And thou wottest of our people that there is little strife and grudging amongst them, and that they are merry, and fair to look on, both men and women; and no man there lacketh what the earth may give us, and it is a saying amongst us that there may a man have that which he desireth save the sun and moon in his hands to play with: and of this gladness, which is made up of many little matters, what story may be told?


An Official Book Burning

Ammianus Marcellinus 29.1.41 (tr. John C. Rolfe):
Then, innumerable writings and many heaps of volumes were hauled out from various houses and under the eyes of the judges were burned in heaps as being unlawful, to allay the indignation at the executions, although the greater number were treatises on the liberal arts and on jurisprudence.

deinde congesti innumeri codices, et acervi voluminum multi, sub conspectu iudicum concremati sunt, ex domibus eruti variis ut illiciti, ad leniendam caesorum invidiam, cum essent plerique liberalium disciplinarum indices variarum et iuris.
J. den Boeft et al., Philological and Historical Commentary on Ammianus Marcellinus XXIX (Leiden: Brill, 2013), p. 66:
The juxtaposition of scrolls and books is typical of the transitional period from the former to the latter kind of presenting texts. See for codex and volumen the note ad 28.1.26 (p. 57), Roberts and Skeat, 1983 and Blanck, 1992, 75–102. The phrase sub conspectu iudicum indicates that the burning of books was an official action, not the work of a mob of hooligans. See for iudex denoting a civil official ad 20.5.7 civilis (pp. 125–126). Speyer, 1981, 30–36 explains that burning is not merely a practical method to destroy books once and for all, but above all a religious means to cleanse society from the pollution caused by forbidden ideas: “Die Bücherverbrennung war so zunächst kein Ausdruck einer staatlichen Willkür, Intoleranz oder Tyrannei, sondern vielmehr des religiösen Gewissens der Gemeinschaft” (33–34).

We know of many book burnings in Antiquity. See apart from Speyer, 1981 e.g. Sarefield, 2006, Herrin, 2009. The earliest instance is the burning of Protagoras’ Περὶ Θεῶν in Athens (cf. e.g. Cic. N.D. 1.63 with Pease’s note ad loc.; cf. further Forbes, 1936, 117 n. 15). In Antioch, according to Suda I 401, the library which Julian had founded in the temple of Hadrian was burnt by order of Valens’ predecessor Jovian. Valens’ action in itself could be justified, for to possess books on magic was forbidden: libros magicae artis apud se neminem habere licet (Paul. sent. 5.23.18), and when such books were found they had to be burnt publicly: ambustis his publice (ibid., cf. Cod. Theod. 9.16.12 from 1 February 409). However, Amm.’s remark, that the greater part of the books burnt were treatises on various liberal arts and on law, is significant and shows that in his eyes the emperor went too far. The terror was so great that not only in Antioch but throughout the eastern provinces people burnt their own libraries (29.2.4).
References are to:


Source of a Latin Quotation

Jon R. Stone, The Routledge Dictionary of Latin Quotations: The Illiterati's Guide to Latin Maxims, Mottoes, Proverbs, and Sayings (New York: Routledge, 2005), p. 7:
aliud legunt pueri, aliud viri, aliud senes: boys read books one way, men another, old men another (Terence)
The attribution to Terence sets off my bullshit detector. I don't have access to Patrick McGlynn, Lexicon Terentianum, 2 vols. (London: Blackie and Son, 1963-1967), but I've read Terence several times, and this doesn't seem at all like the kind of thing he would say. A more plausible attribution appears in Hubertus Kudla, Lexikon der lateinischen Zitate: 3500 Originale mit Übersetzungen und Belegstellen, 3. Aufl. (München: Beck, 2007), p. 245 (#1598):
Aliud legunt pueri, aliud viri, aliud senes.

Hugo Grotius, holländischer Gelehrter 1583-1645. Zitiert von K. J. Weber, Demokritos 1,20, 1832/40

Anderes lesen Knaben, anderes Männer und wiederum anderes die Alten.
The very next quotation in Kudla suggests a possible reason for the mistaken attribution to Terence:
Aliter pueri Terentium legunt, aliter Hugo Grotius.

Knaben lesen den Terenz1 anders als Hugo Grotius.

1 Publius Terentius Afer war neben Plautus der bedeutendste Komödiendichter Roms.
Apparently it (Aliud legunt pueri, aliud viri, aliud senes) appears in  Hans Walther's Proverbia sententiaeque Latinitatis Medii Aevi, but this reference work also isn't available to me.


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