Saturday, December 31, 2022


Who Is To Blame?

Homer, Iliad 3.164 (Priam to Helen; tr. Richmond Lattimore):
I am not blaming you: to me the gods are blameworthy.

οὔ τί μοι αἰτίη ἐσσί, θεοί νύ μοι αἴτιοί εἰσιν.


Savior of the House

Christopher A. Faraone, The Transformation of Greek Amulets in Roman Imperial Times (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018), pp. 76-77, with note on p. 326:
But once again, it is only in the Roman period that these phalli begin to carry texts that tell us precisely that they were used for protection, and in some cases protection against the evil eye. A terracotta perfume jar now in Cracow was, for example, molded in the shape of a phallus (Figure 2.15); it is, moreover, topped with the frontal head of Priapus or Silenus and bears an inscription that begins with the word Sosioikos ("Savior of the house"), an epithet attested elsewhere for the god Hermes.163

163. Slane and Dickie (1993) 499.
The reference is to Kathleen Warner Slane and M. W. Dickie, "A Knidian Phallic Vase from Corinth," Hesperia 62 (1993) 483-505, from which I have borrowed their plate 86, because it is of better quality than Faraone's Figure 2.15:
The inscription on the back of the jar (in Cracow, Princes Czartoryski Museum, inv. 1239) reads ΣΩΣΙΟΙΚΟΣΙΣΠΕΤΑΙΧΟΣΗΚΑΛΗ, of which only the beginning (σωσίοικος) and the end (ἡ καλή) seem to make sense. But cf. Henri Metzger, "Bulletin archéologique. Céramique," Revue des Études Grecques 95 (1982) 85-139 (at 113):
G. Siebert et J. Schwartz, que j'ai consultés, lisent Σωσίοικος ίς πέταρχο(σ)ν καλή et suggèrent de comprendre Sosioikos est belle pour Pétarchos (?)


Free Speech

I.F. Stone (1907-1989), The Trial of Socrates (New York: Anchor Books, 1989), p. ix:
This project had its roots in a belief that no society is good, whatever its intentions, whatever its utopian and liberationist claims, if the men and women who live in it are not free to speak their minds. I hoped that such a study would help a new generation, not only to preserve free speech where it exists — and is always threatened from motives good as well as bad — but to help embattled dissidents in the communist world find their way to a liberating synthesis of Marx and Jefferson.

Thursday, December 29, 2022



Inscriptiones Graecae XII,3 390 = Georg Kaibel, Epigrammata Graeca ex Lapidibus Conlecta (Berlin: Reimer, 1878), p. 392, number 942 (from Thera, 1st centiry BC), translation modified from Riet van Bremen, "The Entire House Is Full of Crowns: Hellenistic Agōnes and the Commemoration of Victory," in Simon Hornblower and Catherine Morgan, edd., Pindar's Poetry, Patrons, and Festivals (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), pp. 345-375 (at 357):
Dorokleidas, son of Himeiron, to Hermes and Herakles.

Victory (comes) to boxers through blood; but a boy, bearing breath still hot after the hard boxing contest, stood up for the heavy toil of the pankration; one single day saw Dorokleidas twice bearing away the prize.

Δωροκλείδας Ἱμείροντος
Ερμᾶι καὶ Ἡρακλεῖ.

ἁ νίκα πύκταισι δι' αἵματος· ἀλλ' ἔτι θερμόν
    πνεῦμα ϕέρων σκληρᾶς παῖς ἀπὸ πυγμαχίας
ἔστα παγκρατίου βαρὺν ἐς πόνον· ἁ μία δ' ἀώς
    δὶς Δωροκλείδαν εἶδεν ἀεθλοϕόρον.



Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve, "Brief Mention," American Journal of Philology 30.2 (1909) 225-236 (at 230):
But to the true scholar no blunder is small. He insists on immaculate cleanliness. If ex pede is a good motto, why not ex pediculo? To him any and every mistake is a sin.
From Eric Thomson:
Gildersleeve's witty ex pediculo is an excellent riposte to the charge of nitpicking. Lousy scholars should have fine-toothed combs.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022


Praise and Glory

Lycurgus, Against Leocrates 110 (tr. Edward M. Harris):
These deeds are good to recall; the praise earned by these men and the glory won by our city will be remembered forever.

ταῦτα, ὦ Ἀθηναῖοι, καὶ μνημονεύεσθαι καλὰ καὶ τοῖς πράξασιν ἔπαινος καὶ τῇ πόλει δόξα ἀείμνηστος.
In his translation Harris omits the vocative ὦ Ἀθηναῖοι.


An Early Mention of Sharting

François Rabelais, Gargantua, chap. 25 (tr. J.M. Cohen):
For note that grapes and fresh cake for breakfast is a dish for the gods, especially pineau-grapes, fig-grapes, muscatels, great black grapes, and purgative grapes for those whose bowels are constipated. For these make them squirt the length of a hunting-spear; and often when a man means to fart he shits himself; from which these grapes get the name of wet-farters.

Car notez que c'est viande celeste manger à desjeuner raisins avec fouace fraiche, mesmement des pineaulx, des fiers, des muscadeaulx, de la bicane, et des foyrars pour ceulx qui sont constipéz de ventre, car ilz les font aller long comme un vouge, et souvent, cuidans peter, ilz se conchient, dont sont nomméz les cuideurs des vendanges.
Ernest Langlois, "Anciens proverbes français," Bibliothèque de l'École des chartes 60 (1899) 569-601, discusses a 15th century manuscript collection of French proverbs compiled by Stephanus Legris, of which number 162 (p. 578) is "Cuideurs sont en vendanges," glossed as:
Tempore vendemiarum comeduntur racemi habundanter, idcirco ventres facile solvuntur, ut dum quis putat solum pedere, brachas ipse coinquinat. Et da exemplum de Anastasio, quia volens se anelare, tamen emisit intestina, .XIX. di., c. Anastasius. Hoc contra illos qui sue prudentie procacis nitentes a proposito turpiter defraudentur, quia non sic res eveniunt ut opinabantur.



Dry Husks

William Osler (1849-1919), Thomas Linacre (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1908), p. 29:
Fed to inanition on the dry husks of grammar and with bitter school-boy memories of Farrar on the Greek verb, I can never pick up a text-book on the subject without a regret that the quickening spirit of Greece and Rome should have been for generations killed by the letter with which alone these works are concerned. It has been a great comfort to know that neither "Pindar nor Aeschylus had the faintest conception of these matters and that neither knew what was meant by an adverb or preposition or the rules of the moods and tenses" (Gomperz).

Tuesday, December 27, 2022


The Pendulum

Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve, "Brief Mention," American Journal of Philology 29.3 (1908) 368-380 (at 368):
To be hopelessly behind the times means nothing more to me than the hopelessness of living until the pendulum swings back, until the whirligig comes round. The Fool's Paradise out of which you have been thrust is sure to become once more the Land of Beulah, if you wait long enough. The only question is whether it is worth while to wait.


Boon to Mortals

Inscriptiones Graecae II² 4473 (composed by Makedonios, from Attica, 1st century BC, excerpt; tr. Emma J. and Ludwig Edelstein):
Hail, great boon to mankind, most renowned among the demigods, hail, O hail, Paean.
Asclepius, grant those who hymn your wisdom forever to abound
in life with delightsome Hygieia, hail, Paean.
May you safeguard the Attic city of Cecrops, ever visiting it, hail, Paean.
Be gentle, blessed one, and ward off loathsome diseases, hail, O hail, Paean.

χαῖρε, βροτοῖς μέγ' ὄνειαρ, δαῖμον κλεινότατε, ἰὲ ὦ ἰὲ Παιάν.
Ἀσκληπιέ, σὴν δὲ δίδου σοφίαν ὑμνοῦντας ἐς αἰεὶ θάλλειν
ἐν βιοτῇ σὺν τερπνοτάτῃ Ὑγιείᾳ, ἰὴ Παιάν.
σώζοις δ' Ἀτθίδα Κεκροπίαν πόλιν αἰὲν ἐπερχόμενος, ἰὲ Παιάν.
ἤπιος ἔσσο, μάκαρ, στυγερὰς δ' ἀπέρυκε νούσους, ἰὲ ὦ ἰὲ Παιάν.

Monday, December 26, 2022


Vox Populi

Theodore Roosevelt, letter to Anna Roosevelt (June 8, 1884):
It is by no means the first time that a vast popular majority has been on the side of wrong. It may be that "the voice of the people is the voice of God" in fifty-one cases out of a hundred; but in the remaining forty-nine it is quite as likely to be the voice of the devil, or, what is still worse, the voice of a fool.
Statue of Theodore Roosevelt, by James Earle Fraser, in front of the American Museum of Natural History, before it was removed on January 20, 2022:


I Wish to Bring Homer to Your Attention

Lycurgus, Against Leocrates 102-104 (tr. Edward M. Harris):
[102] I wish to bring Homer also to your attention and praise his poetry. Your fathers considered him such an important poet that they established a law that every four years at the Panathenaia the rhapsodes recite the poems of this poet alone of all the poets. This was their way of showing the Greeks their admiration for noble deeds. And rightly so, since the laws because of their brevity do not teach but merely order what one should do; the poets, on the other hand, by representing human life and selecting the noblest deeds, persuade men by using both reason and clear examples.

[103] When Hector was encouraging the Trojans to fight for their country, he gave this speech [Iliad 15.494–499]:
Keep on then fighting by the ships. He who among you
finds his death and destiny by spear thrown or spear thrust,
let him die. He has no dishonor when he dies defending
his country, for then his wife shall be saved and his young children,
and his property and his house shall not be damaged, if the Achaians
must go away with their ships to the beloved land of their fathers.
[104] Your ancestors listened to these verses and were eager to imitate such deeds; they were so courageous that they were willing to die not only for their own country but for all of Greece as if it were their own land. When they took their stand against the barbarians at Marathon and defeated an army from all of Asia, by risking their own lives they gained a security that was shared by all Greeks. Their fame did not make them arrogant but inspired them to live up to their reputation. They made themselves leaders of the Greeks and masters over the barbarians. They did not practice valor by words alone but demonstrated it to all by their actions.

[102] βούλομαι δ' ὑμῖν καὶ τὸν Ὅμηρον παρασχέσθαι ἐπαινῶν. οὕτω γὰρ ὑπέλαβον ὑμῶν οἱ πατέρες σπουδαῖον εἶναι ποιητήν, ὥστε νόμον ἔθεντο καθ' ἑκάστην πεντετηρίδα τῶν Παναθηναίων μόνου τῶν ἄλλων ποιητῶν ῥαψῳδεῖσθαι τὰ ἔπη, ἐπίδειξιν ποιούμενοι πρὸς τοὺς Ἕλληνας, ὅτι τὰ κάλλιστα τῶν ἔργων προῃροῦντο. εἰκότως· οἱ μὲν γὰρ νόμοι διὰ τὴν συντομίαν οὐ διδάσκουσιν, ἀλλ' ἐπιτάττουσιν ἃ δεῖ ποιεῖν, οἱ δὲ ποιηταὶ μιμούμενοι τὸν ἀνθρώπινον βίον, τὰ κάλλιστα τῶν ἔργων ἐκλεξάμενοι, μετὰ λόγου καὶ ἀποδείξεως τοὺς ἀνθρώπους συμπείθουσιν.

[103] Ἕκτωρ γὰρ τοῖς Τρωσὶ παρακελευόμενος ὑπὲρ τῆς πατρίδος τάδ' εἴρηκεν·
ἀλλὰ μάχεσθ' ἐπὶ νηυσὶ διαμπερές. ὃς δέ κεν ὕμεων
βλήμενος ἠὲ τυπεὶς θάνατον καὶ πότμον ἐπίσπῃ,
τεθνάτω. οὔ οἱ ἀεικὲς ἀμυνομένῳ περὶ πάτρης
τεθνάμεν· ἀλλ' ἄλοχός τε σόη καὶ νήπια τέκνα,
καὶ κλῆρος καὶ οἶκος ἀκήρατος, εἴ κεν Ἀχαιοὶ
οἴχωνται σὺν νηυσὶ φίλην ἐς πατρίδα γαῖαν.
[104] τούτων τῶν ἐπῶν ἀκούοντες, ὦ ἄνδρες, οἱ πρόγονοι ὑμῶν, καὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα τῶν ἔργων ζηλοῦντες, οὕτως ἔσχον πρὸς ἀρετήν, ὥστ' οὐ μόνον ὑπὲρ τῆς αὑτῶν πατρίδος, ἀλλὰ καὶ πάσης τῆς Ἑλλάδος ὡς κοινῆς πατρίδος ἤθελον ἀποθνῄσκειν. οἱ γοῦν ἐν Μαραθῶνι παραταξάμενοι τοῖς βαρβάροις τὸν ἐξ ἁπάσης τῆς Ἀσίας στόλον ἐκράτησαν, τοῖς ἰδίοις κινδύνοις κοινὴν ἄδειαν ἅπασι τοῖς Ἕλλησι κτώμενοι, οὐκ ἐπὶ τῇ δόξῃ μέγα φρονοῦντες, ἀλλ' ἐπὶ τῷ ταύτης ἄξια πράττειν, τῶν μὲν Ἑλλήνων προστάτας, τῶν δὲ βαρβάρων δεσπότας ἑαυτοὺς καθιστάντες· οὐ γὰρ λόγῳ τὴν ἀρετὴν ἐπετήδευον, ἀλλ' ἔργῳ πᾶσιν ἐνεδείκνυντο.


Gargantua's Morning Routine

François Rabelais, Gargantua, chap. 21 (tr. J.M. Cohen):
Then he shat, pissed, spewed, belched, farted, yawned, spat, coughed, hiccuped, sneezed, blew his nose like an archdeacon, and breakfasted, to protect himself from the dew and the bad air, on fine fried tripes, good rashers grilled on the coals, delicate hams, tasty goat stews, and plenty of early morning soup.

Puis fiantoit, pissoyt, rendoyt sa gorge, rottoit, pettoyt, baisloyt, crachoyt, toussoyt, sangloutoyt, esternuoit et se morvoyt en archidiacre, et desjeunoyt pour abatre la rouzée et maulvais aer: belles tripes frites, belles charbonnades, beaulx jambons, belles cabirotades et forces soupes de prime.

Saturday, December 24, 2022



Francis Macdonald Cornford, Thucydides Mythistoricus (London: Edward Arnold, 1907), p. xii (on A.W. Verrall)
I am conscious, moreover, that in this present attempt to understand, not the syntax, but the mind, of Thucydides, I am following, for part of the way, a path which first opened before me when, in the breathless silence of his lecture-room, I began to understand how literary art could be the passion of a life.
Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve, "Brief Mention," American Journal of Philology 28.3 (1907) 351-361 (at 356):
[W]hen Mr. CORNFORD speaks of his Thucydides Mythistoricus as an attempt to understand, not the syntax, but the mind, of Thucydides the syntactician in me revolts against this attitude of superiority. He who does not know the syntax of Thukydides does not know the mind of Thukydides. Syntax has been called the 'Parademarsch' of language, and we are all in the procession. He who sneers at the study of Thukydidean syntax fails to do justice to the conditions of Thukydidean thought.
Fritz Mauthner, Beiträge zu einer Kritik der Sprache, Bd. 3: Grammatik und Logik (Stuttgart: J.G. Cotta, 1902), p. 260:
Die höhere Syntax verhält sich zum Nutzen der Sprache wie der Parademarsch zur Strategie.



Christopher A. Faraone, The Transformation of Greek Amulets in Roman Imperial Times (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018), p. 68, with notes on pp. 321-322:
A little later, we hear about a "wonderworker" named Laiios, who successfully protected the city of Antioch-on-the-Orontes from a plague during the reign of Antiochus I (280-61 BCE) by commanding the city to carve a giant face of Charon into the side of the mountain overlooking the city. After Laiios inscribed some special words on this mask "for the salvation of the city," the pestilence came to an end.104 This monument was called the charônion or in later Greek charôneion (a formation like gorgoneion)105 and was either the face of the infernal ferryman, Charon, or the related death-demon named Charos, whom vase painters depict, like the Gorgon's head, with glaring eyes emphasized with added red paint.106 Here the goal was probably to repel or avert death from the city by the process of like banning like.107

104. Malalas 205.8-13; cf. J. Tzetzes Chil. 2.59.920-24. Other sources say his name was "Leios." The suggestion of Lloyd-Jones (1981) that Laiios and the plague during Antiochus' reign be emended away is successfully countered by Richardson (1982).

105. See Perdrizet and Fossey (1897) 79-82 and Waser (1898) 66-67, the latter of whom dated the mask to the Roman period, but subsequent excavation places it squarely in the Hellenistic period and connects it with the monument created by Laiios; see Downey (1961) 103-4.

106. The Antioch mask survives intact, although its battered condition makes it impossible to see any distinguishing features that might mark it out as a dangerous or death-dealing divinity—for example, the glaring or extraordinary eyes associated with Greek names, ancient and modern, containing the stem char-. Lloyd-Jones (1981) 28 notes that the image at Antioch is called a charônion, an adjectival form that can simply mean "the one who glares."

107. Weinreich (1909) 152.
Some of Faraone's references: Elizabeth Jeffreys et al., tr. The Chronicle of John Malalas (Leiden: Brill, 2017), p. 108 (8.22):
During his reign, when there was a plague and many people in the city perished, Leios, a wonder worker, ordered that a rock from the mountain above the city be carved with an enormous mask, crowned and looking towards the city and the valley. He wrote an inscription on it and stopped the deaths from the plague. To the present day the Antiochenes call this mask Charonion.

ἐπὶ δὲ τῆς αὐτοῦ βασιλείας λοιμοῦ γενομένου καὶ πολλῶν διαφθαρέντων τῆς πόλεως, Λήιός τις τελεστὴς ἐκέλευσε πέτραν ἐκ τοῦ ὄρους τοῦ ὑπεράνω τῆς πόλεως γλυφῆναι ἔχουσαν προσωπεῖον μέγα πάνυ, ἐστεμμένον, προσέχοντα ἐπὶ τὴν πόλιν καὶ τὸν αὐλῶνα· καὶ γράψας ἐν αὐτῷ τινα ἔπαυσε τὴν λοιμικὴν θνῆσιν· ὅπερ προσωπεῖον καλοῦσιν ἕως τοῦ νῦν οἱ Ἀντιοχεῖς Χαρώνιον.
Photograph of the monument by Grégoire Poccardi:
Hatice Pamir, "An Underworld Cult Monument in Antioch: The Charonion," in Çiğdem Maner et al., edd., Overturning Certainties in Near Eastern Archaeology: A Festschrift in Honor of K. Aslıhan Yener (Leiden: Brill, 2017), pp. 543–559 (at 543):
An analysis of the monument's iconography and associated outdoor enclosure reveal strong connections to Anatolian cult sites of the mother goddess Cybele as well as similarities to the iconography of Syrian Atargatis and Hellenic Demeter. The monumental bust likely depicts the mother goddess with Tyche on her shoulder rather than Charon, as assumed by 19th-century authors. The association of the site with Charon may have been original or only developed later, either way creating a unique local cult associating the boatman of the dead with the mother goddess whose power was over the cycle of life and death.

Friday, December 23, 2022



François Rabelais, Gargantua, chap. 11 (tr. J.M. Cohen):
One of them called it my pillicock, another my ninepin, another my coral-branch, another my stopper, my cork, my quiverer, my driving-pin, my auger, my dingle-dangle, my rough-go stiff-and-low, my crimping iron, my little red sausage, my sweet little cocky.

L'une la nommoit ma petite dille, l'aultre ma pine, l'aultre ma branche de coural, l'aultre mon bondon, mon bouchon, mon vibrequin, mon possouer, ma terière, ma pendilloche, mon rude esbat roidde et bas, mon dressouoir, ma petite andouille vermeille, ma petite couille bredouille.


A Square Peg in a Round Hole

Euripides, fragment 360 Kannicht, lines 7-13 (from Erectheus; tr. Edward M. Harris):
Above all, our people have not come as aliens
From elsewhere, but we are born from this earth.
Other cities, founded by migrations with men imported
From here and there, are thrown together like dice.
Whoever leaves a city and dwells in another,
Like a poor bolt driven into a piece of wood,
Is a citizen in word, but not in deeds.

ᾗ πρῶτα μὲν λεὼς οὐκ ἐπακτὸς ἄλλοθεν,
αὐτόχθονες δ' ἔφυμεν· αἱ δ᾽ ἄλλαι πόλεις
πεσσῶν ὁμοίως διαφοραῖς ἐκτισμέναι
ἄλλαι παρ' ἄλλων εἰσὶν εἰσαγώγιμοι.        10
ὅστις δ' ἀπ' ἄλλης πόλεος οἰκήσῃ πόλιν,
ἁρμὸς πονηρὸς ὥσπερ ἐν ξύλῳ παγείς,
λόγῳ πολίτης ἐστί, τοῖς δ' ἔργοισιν οὔ.
See Maurizio Sonnino, Euripidis Erechthei quae exstant. Introduzione. Testo Critico. Commento. Traduzione (diss. Rome, 2009), pp. 189-196.


Two Things

Pindar, Isthmian Odes 5.12-13 (tr. William H. Race):
There are truly two things alone that foster the finest sweetness of life in blossoming prosperity:
if a man succeds and hears his praises sung.

δύο δέ τοι ζωᾶς ἄωτον μοῦνα ποιμαί-
νοντι τὸν ἄλπνιστον εὐανθεῖ σὺν ὄλβῳ,
εἴ τις εὖ πάσχων λόγον ἐσλὸν ἀκούῃ.
The same (tr. Anthony Verity):
Truly, two things only shepherd life to its sweetest perfection:
if a man is blessed with flourishing prosperity,
and if he enjoys a noble reputation.
Erich Thummer ad loc.:

Thursday, December 22, 2022


Old Age

Vergil, Aeneid 5.394-396 (Entellus speaking; tr. H. Rushton Fairclough):
'Tis not that love of fame is gone, or pride, routed by fear; but my blood is chilled and dulled by sluggish age, and my strength of body is numb and lifeless.

                    non laudis amor nec gloria cessit
pulsa metu, sed enim gelidus tardante senecta
sanguis hebet, frigentque effetae in corpore vires.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022


Health and Safety

Jon D. Mikalson, Religion in Hellenistic Athens (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), pp. 43-44 (discussing Inscriptiones Graecae II2 410):
In the phrase "for the health and safety" I see a sign of a changed religious outlook, one whose concern is now becoming defensive, perhaps even pessimistic in contrast to the higher expectations and optimism of the fifth century. Athens no longer is militarily and economically preeminent, threatening others. Under the power of Macedon she is now the one threatened and will remain threatened throughout the Hellenistic period. Athens' needs are now different from what they were in the fifth century, and we should not be surprised to see state cult accommodating itself to these new needs. "Health and safety" had always been gifts of the gods,97 but so had many others. But in the turbulent times of the last half of the fourth century and in the following centuries, the obtaining of health and safety plays an increasingly large role in state cult. "For health and safety" soon becomes formulaic in state decrees treating sacrifices and other religious matters, and various types of gods promising these come to the fore.

Asclepios' cult was very strong in the fourth century and remained so throughout the Hellenistic and Roman periods. In 332/1 the newly enfranchised Amphiaraos himself, the proprietor of a healing sanctuary and obvious favorite of the Lycourgan age, is given a gold crown worth 1,000 drachmas, because "he takes good care of the Athenians and the others who come to his sanctuary for the health and safety of all those in the land" (Schwenk #40). That the healing gods provide health and safety is understandable, but their greater prominence, vis-à-vis the fifth century, is also revealing.98 What IG II2 410 indicates is the extension of such concerns among the official documents of state cult to deities not fundamentally concerned with healing.99

97. Mikalson 1983, 16–24, 42, 45–48, 53, 55–56, 67–68, 71, 89.

98. See, e.g., Garland 1992, 132–35.

99. The only prior attestation of the phrase "for health and safety" in state documents is IG II2 223 B.5 of 343/2, a decree which Phanodemos proposed. On this text see below, chapter 4, p. 132.
References are to: Excerpt from Inscriptiones Graecae II2 410:
...ἐφ' ὑγιείαι καὶ σωτηρίαι τῆς βουλῆς καὶ τοῦ δήμου τοῦ Ἀθηναίων καὶ παίδων καὶ γυναικῶν καὶ τῶν ἄλλων κτημάτων τῶν Ἀθηναίων...
Some of the inscription is translated by Allen Brent, Ignatius of Antioch and the Second Sophistic (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 206), pp. 285-286, in a discussion of "Public celebrations of ritual for safety (σωτηρία) and wellbeing (ὑγιεία)".

Tuesday, December 20, 2022


The Men of Old

Lycurgus, Against Leocrates 98 (tr. Edward M. Harris):
Now pay close attention, for I am not about to turn away from the men of old. Justice demands that you listen to the deeds for which they won respect and take them to heart.

καίτοι σκέψασθε, ὦ ἄνδρες· οὐ γὰρ ἀποστήσομαι τῶν παλαιῶν· ἐφ' οἷς γὰρ ἐκεῖνοι ποιοῦντες ἐφιλοτιμοῦντο, ταῦτα δικαίως ἂν ὑμεῖς ἀκούσαντες ἀποδέχοισθε.
In his translation Harris omits the vocative ὦ ἄνδρες.



François Rabelais, Gargantua, chap. 7 (tr. J.M. Cohen):
For if by chance he was vexed, angry, displeased, or peeved, if he stamped, if he wept or if he screamed, they always brought him drink to restore his temper, and immediately he became quiet and happy.

One of his governesses told me, on her Bible oath, that he was so accustomed to this treatment, that at the mere sound of pint pots and flagons, he would fall into an ecstasy, as if tasting the joys of paradise. Taking this divine disposition of his into account, therefore, in order to cheer him up in the mornings, they would have glasses chinked for him with a knife, or flagons tapped with their stoppers, and at this sound he would become merry, leap up, and rock himself in his cradle, nodding his head, playing scales with his fingers, and beating slow time with his bottom.

Car s'il advenoit qu'il feust despit, courroussé, fasché ou marry, s'il trepignoyt, s'il pleuroit, s'il crioit, luy apportant à boyre l'on le remettoit en nature, et soubdain demouroit coy et joyeulx.

Une de ses gouvernantes m'a dict, jurant sa fy , que de ce faire il estoit tant coustumier, qu'au seul son des pinthes et flaccons il entroit en ecstase, comme s'il goustoit les joyes de paradis. En sorte qu’elles, considerans ceste complexion divine, pour le resjouir, au matin, faisoient davant luy sonner des verres avecques un cousteau, ou des flaccons avecques leur toupon, ou des pinthes avecques leur couvercle, auquel son il s'esguayoit, il tressailloit, et luy mesmes se bressoit en dodelinant de la teste, monichordisant des doigtz et barytonant du cul.



Tetrastichon authenticum de singulis mensibus = Anthologia Latina 395 Riese, lines 45-48 (December), tr. Michelle Renee Salzman, On Roman Time: The Codex-Calendar of 354 and the Rhythms of Urban Life in Late Antiquity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), p. 74:
Behold! Winter nourishes the seed thrown each year into the plowed earth; all is wet with rain sent from Jove. Now let December call once more the golden festival for Saturn. Now you, slave, are allowed to play [dice games] with your master.

annua sulcatae coniecta en semina terrae
   pascit hiems; pluvio de Iove cuncta madent.
aurea nunc revocet Saturno festa December.
   nunc tibi cum domino ludere, verna, licet.

1 coniecta en Heinsius: coniecti codd.: connectens Baehrens
Roger Pearse, "The December Poems in the Chronography of 354," offers his own translation (he adopts Baehrens' conjecture connectens without mentioning Baehrens). A commenter on Pearse's blog post writes:
If it's not overstepping, I'd suggest the 4-liner might be rendered more poetically, with only minimal cost to the literal sense.

Yearly the furrows connecting seed to earth
Winter feeds and steeps with rain from Jove
Golden returns Saturn's feast in December
Now you with your Lord, Spring, may make mirth

I'm trying to stay true to the original sense and connections, leaning mainly to some alliteration and assonance for some poetic effect, though worked in one rhyme in a nod to English poetic conventions. The 3rd line's a little labored and doesn't scan as well, but I thought the same of the original so didn't worry about it too much. ; )
In line 4 verna has nothing to do with spring. It's the vocative of the noun verna = slave. See the illustrations of slaves in Pearse's blog post.

Google Translate makes the same mistake (with additional mistakes):
Annual furrows connecting the seeds to the ground
Winter feeds; They wet everything with the rain of Jupiter.
Orea will now call back to Saturn, the festival of December,
Now you can play with the master, spring, all right.



Against Posterior Analytics

Berakhot 61a (tr. Adin Steinsaltz)
A man should not walk behind a woman on a path, as he will look at her constantly, even if it is his wife. If a woman happens upon him along a bridge, he should walk quickly in order to move her to his side so that she will not walk in front of him. And anyone who walks behind a woman in a river in order to see her exposed skin when she lifts her clothing as she passes through the water has no portion in the World-to-Come.

Monday, December 19, 2022


Veneration for Long-Established Custom and Ritual

Wilfred Thesiger (1910-2003), The Life of My Choice (London: Collins, 1987), p. 56 (after the Battle of Segale in 1916):
I had been reading Tales from the Iliad. Now, in boyish fancy, I watched the likes of Achilles, Ajax and Ulysses pass in triumph with aged Priam, proud even in defeat. I believe that day implanted in me a life-long craving for barbaric splendour, for savagery and colour and the throb of drums, and that it gave me a lasting veneration for long-established custom and ritual, from which would derive later a deep-seated resentment of Western innovations in other lands, and a distaste for the drab uniformity of the modern world.


Inscription for Your Front Door

Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum III 5561 = Carmina Latina Epigraphica 26 (from Salzburg; tr. E. Courtney):
Luck dwells here; let nothing harmful enter.

Felicitas] hic habitat; nihil intret mali.
Franz Buecheler, Carmina Latina Epigraphica (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1895), p. 16, number 26:



Jeremy F. Hultin, The Ethics of Obscene Speech in Early Christianity and Its Environment (Leiden: Brill, 2008), p. 2 (footnote omitted):
Cicero says that there were words "nobody would have tolerated"; words "they dare not utter"; words in which there was something "shocking" or "outrageous" (flagitium), or which were simply "not allowed" (non licet) or which "you are not able" (non putes) to say (Fam. 9.22.4).
For putes read potes.


Sunday, December 18, 2022


Exactitude and Precision

Geoffrey Khan et al., "Edward Ullendorff 1920-2011," Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the British Academy 12 (2013) 405-432 (at 411):
One of his fellow pupils at the Gymnasium recalled how as a schoolboy Edward was exacting of the highest standards and would correct even his teachers, in the form of short notes, if he felt that something they had said was inaccurate. This desire for exactitude and precision was characteristic of Edward throughout his life.
Id. (at 426):
He was also a regular reader of (and contributor to) The Times Literary Supplement, often correcting misprints and solecisms in the margin. Edward was always very sensitive to wrong spelling and sloppy grammar.
Id. (at 428):
Just as his mentor, Polotsky, had been very exacting, so did Edward expect high standards from his students. He would expect, for example, undergraduates studying Amharic with him to learn Italian 'when [they] had a spare weekend', a necessary skill for an 'éthiopisant', however young. Not only that, he would say that Italian, as a major vehicle of European civilisation, was a language any educated person should know.
Id. (at 429):
Edward often expressed concern at the bureacratic direction in which universities were moving, including league tables, research assessment exercises, teaching quality evaluations, peer reviews, etc. For Edward, a university's primary (and perhaps only) duties were to pass on knowledge by classroom teaching, to practise scholarship at a high level and to foster unhurried and painstaking research of the highest quality.
David L. Appleyard, "Obituary: Edward Ullendorff, 1920-2011," Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 74.3 (2011) 463-468 (at 466):
It has to be said that, in the years that followed his retirement Ullendorff often expressed concern at the direction in which universities were moving. Much of the university world of today outwardly bears little resemblance to the quiet and studied scholarly calm that was typical during so much of his career. There were no league tables, no research assessment exercises, no teaching quality assessments, and certainly no sense of career focused urgency about students. When discussing these developments with him in later years, the perplexity he would express was sometimes sharpened by the comment, "[academics] should have stood up and not let it happen". For Ullendorff, a university's first objective was research and the fostering of research by others — unhurried and painstaking, first-class and autonomous research; he often expressed admiration for his former teacher, H.J. Polotsky, that he had published so little during such a long academic career because after writing an article he would not submit it for publication for some considerable time, weighing over and rethinking each word and turn of phrase and letting the article mature like a great wine.

Saturday, December 17, 2022



Lycurgus, Against Leocrates 94 (tr. Edward M. Harris):
I believe, gentlemen, that divine providence watches over all human affairs and especially the reverence we show our parents, the dead, and the gods themselves; rightly so. They have given us the beginning of our lives and the greatest share of the blessings we receive; it would be the greatest sacrilege not only to mistreat them but to refuse to devote our lives to helping them.

ἡγοῦμαι δ' ἔγωγ', ὦ ἄνδρες, τὴν τῶν θεῶν ἐπιμέλειαν πάσας μὲν τὰς ἀνθρωπίνας πράξεις ἐπισκοπεῖν, μάλιστα δὲ τὴν περὶ τοὺς γονέας καὶ τοὺς τετελευτηκότας καὶ τὴν πρὸς αὑτοὺς εὐσέβειαν, εἰκότως· παρ' ὧν γὰρ τὴν ἀρχὴν τοῦ ζῆν εἰλήφαμεν καὶ πλεῖστα ἀγαθὰ πεπόνθαμεν, εἰς τούτους μὴ ὅτι ἁμαρτεῖν, ἀλλὰ μὴ εὐεργετοῦντας τὸν αὑτῶν βίον καταναλῶσαι μέγιστον ἀσέβημά ἐστι.

καὶ τοὺς τετελευτηκότας καὶ τὴν πρὸς αὑτοὺς
del. Hirschig, "Emendationes in Oratoribus Atticis," Philologus 5 (1850) 318-344 (at 329)
A. Petrie ad loc.:


It Gets in the Way of Straight Thinking

H.D. Jocelyn, "Concerning an American View of Latin Sexual Humour," a review of Amy Richlin, The Garden of Priapus: Sexuality and Aggression in Roman Humor (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983), in Echos du monde classique 29.1 (1985) 1-30 (at 1-2, footnote omitted):
The translations are Amy Richlin's own work. A striking feature of the translations is the way that some (but not all) references to specifically Roman places, professions, institutions, modes of dress and the like are replaced with references to the life of present-day New York (e.g. pp. 45 "underwear" [tunica], 82 "dollars", 108 "red-light lips", "42nd Street window", 135 "wives of 42nd Street", 152 "my shorts and my trousers", 161 "the brothers in the pillbox hats", 176 "unbuttoned shirt", 181 "champagne", 188 "terry cloth", 206 "the milkman"). There are some who will find this enlivening or even amusing. It gets in the way, however, of straight thinking about an alien society and leads directly to absurd notions about what lay in the minds of the writers being surveyed.
Id. (at 26):
She does not, however, ask herself how far the streets and apartment blocks of her own environment really resemble those of pagan Rome.


A Religion of Nowhere

Philippians 3:20 (New International Version):
But our citizenship is in heaven.

ἡμῶν γὰρ τὸ πολίτευμα ἐν οὐρανοῖς ὑπάρχει.
Jonathan Z. Smith (1938-2017), Map is Not Territory: Studies in the History of Religions (1978; rpt. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), p. xiv (I added apostrophes to one's):
Within diasporic religion, the chief religious figures were no longer priests or kings but rather god-men, saviors or religious entrepreneurs. The chief mode of religious activity shifted from celebration to initiation. Rather than being born into a divinely established and protected land whose glories one celebrated, one was initiated (reborn) into a divine protector who was tied to no land.

For the native religionist, homeplace, the place to which one belongs, was the central religious category. One's self-definition, one's reality was the place into which one had been born—understood as both geographical and social place. To the new immigrant in the diaspora, nostalgia for homeplace and cultic substitutes for the old, sacred center were central religious values. For the thoroughly diasporic member, who may not have belonged to the deity's original ethnic group, freedom from place became the central religious category. Projecting the group's diasporic existence into the cosmos, he discovered himself to be in exile from his true home (a world beyond this world), he found his fulfillment in serving the god beyond the god of this world and true freedom in stripping off his body which belonged to this world and in awakening that aspect of himself which was from the Beyond. Diasporic religion, in contrast to native, locative religion, was utopian in the strictest sense of the word, a religion of "nowhere", of transcendence.
Cf. Smith, "Native Cults in the Hellenistic Period," History of Religions 11.2 (November, 1971) 236-249 (at 238, footnote omitted)
To the native religionist, homeplace, the place to which one belongs, was an important religious category. One's self-definition, one's reality, was the place into which one had been born geographically and socially. To the new immigrant in the diaspora, nostalgia for homeplace and cultic substitutes for the sacred center became the important religious categories (e.g., Jewish diasporic synagogues were oriented toward Jerusalem; all water used in the cultus of the Roman Isis temples was considered to come from the Nile). To the thoroughly diasporic member, who may not even have belonged to the deity's ethnic group, freedom from place became the major religious category. For such an individual the values of the native religion appeared reversed. For the native religionist to be in place was to truly live. His freedom found fulfillment in the service of the national deity. For the diasporic religionist to be in place was death. It was to be shackled to that which was confining and hence untrue. Diasporic religion was "utopian" in the strictest sense of the word, it was a religion of "nowhere," a religion of transcendence.

Friday, December 16, 2022


The Historian's Task

Jonathan Z. Smith (1938-2017), Map is Not Territory: Studies in the History of Religions (1978; rpt. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), p. 129:
The historian's task is to complicate, not to clarify. He strives to celebrate the diversity of manners, the opacity of things, the variety of species. He is barred, thereby, from making a frontal assault on his topic. Like the pilgrim, the historian is obligated to approach his subject obliquely. He must circumambulate the spot several times before making even the most fleeting contact. His method, like that of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, is that of the digression.

The historian's manner of speech is often halting and provisional. He approaches his data with that same erotic tentativeness expressed in the well-known colloquy from the "Circe" episode of Joyce's Ulysses:
You may touch my ....
May I touch your?
O, but lightly!
O, so lightly!2
2 J. Joyce, Ulysses (New York, 1934), p. 561.


Pan Leaves His Former Haunts

Inscriptiones Graecae IV 53 (from Aegina), tr. Laura Rossi, The Epigrams Ascribed to Theocritus (Leuven: Peeters, 2001 = Hellenistica Groningana, V), p. 58:
I no longer take delight on the mountains in the flutes of a pektis fixed with wax, nor in the grottoes, nor in the trees with their high foliage. I no longer love Echo. I no longer take pleasure in the inhabitants of the fields. Rather, lamenting the splendid actions of a man of righteous judgement, Ampelius, I jump and take delight there where the Muses take delight in the plane trees and brooks.

οὐκέτι κηροχυτοῖσι κατ' οὔρεα τέρπομε αὐλοῖς
πηκτίδος, οὔτ' ἄντροις, οὐ δένδρεσιν ὑψιπετήλοις,
Ἠχὼ δ' οὐ φιλέω, οὐ τέρπομε ἀγρονόμοισιν·
ἀνδρὸς δ' εἰθυδίκου ποθέων περικαλλέα ἔργα
Ἀμπελίου σκιρτῶ καὶ τέρπομαι, ἔνθα κὲ Μοῦσαι
ἕσστασι τερπόμεναι πλατάνοισι καὶ ὑδατίοισι.
Rossi, ibid. (footnotes omitted):
Kaibel considered this inscription an epitaph that a farmer had carved on the tomb of a friend, but Boyancé suggested correctly that the speaker in the text is none other than Pan, for whom it is befitting to leave the mountains, his usual abode (l. 1), the syrinx (ll. 1f.) and love for Echo (l. 3). Therefore, one must imagine the presence of a statue of Pan within a temenos erected in honour of a dead man (Ampelius) and consecrated to the Muses.
Kaibel = Georg Kaibel, Epigrammata Graeca ex Lapidibus Conlecta (Berlin: Reimer, 1878), p. 105, number 271:
Epigramma recentissimum videtur pastor quidam iuvenis in Ampelii senioris amici mortem scripsisse.
Boyancé = Pierre Boyancé, Le culte des Muses chez les philosophes grecs: Études d'histoire et de psychologie religieuses (Paris: E. de Boccard, 1937 = Bibliothèque des écoles françaises d'Athènes et de Rome, 141), pp. 345-347 (non vidi).

See also Ulrich Gehn, Ehrenstatuen in der Spätantike (Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 2012), pp. 237-239, and Timo Christian, Gebildete Steine: Zur Rezeption literarischer Techniken in den Versinschriften seit dem Hellenismus (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2014 = Hypomnemata, 197), p. 314. I don't have access to Louis Robert, "Épigramme d'Égine," Hellenica: Recueil d'épigraphie, de numismatique et d'antiquitès grecques, IV: Épigrammes du Bas-Empire (Paris: Librairie d'Amérique et d'Orient Adrien-Maisonneuve, 1948), pp. 5-34.

A pektis is usually a stringed instrument (harp or lyre), but appears to be a wind instrument here. See Kaibel ad loc.:
πηκτίς est fistula pastoricia vel syrinx, cuius singuli calami αὐλοί vocantur.
Line 4 should perhaps be translated "longing for the very beautiful works of a man of righteous judgement" — see Gehn, p. 238. I would also translate the end of the inscription as "where the Muses stand, taking delight in the plane trees and brooks."

Wednesday, December 14, 2022


Epitaph of a Trumpeter

Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum III 4483 = Carmina Latina Epigraphica 1082 (from Carnuntum in Pannonia, my translation):
Gaius Valerius, son of Gaius, of the Sergian tribe, from Heraclea (?), trumpeter,
soldier of Apollo's 15th Legion, with 16 years of service,
36 years old, lies here.
Live happy, you to whom a longer time has been given.
I lived pleasantly, as long as I was allowed, among men above.
If I deserved it, say: May the earth be light upon you.

C(aius) Valerius C(ai) f(ilius) Ser(gia) Her(?) tub(icen)
mil(es) leg(ionis) XV Apoll(inaris) stip(endiorum) XVI
ann(orum) XXXVI h(ic) s(itus) e(st).
vivite felices quibus est data longior (h)ora.
vixi ego dum licuit dulciter ad superos.
dicite, si merui, sit tibi ter(r)a levis.

Her(aclea) dubitanter Peter Kruschwitz, "Poetische Grenzerfahrungen: Gedanken zu den römischen Versinschriften von Carnuntum," p. 1
Her(donia): Otto Seeck, "Die Zusammensetzung der Kaiserlegionen," Rheinisches Museum für Philologie 48 (1893) 602-621 (at 610)
For vivite felices quibus est cf. Vergil, Aeneid 3.493; for ad superos, cf. Vergil, Aeneid 6.481. The stone:
Theodor Mommsen, Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, Vol. III, Pars I: Inscriptiones Aegyptii et Asiae, Inscriptiones Provinciarum Europae Graecarum, Inscriptiones Illyrici (Berlin: Georg Reimer, 1873), p. 558:
Franz Buecheler, Carmina Latina Epigraphica (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1895), p. 496, number 1082:


Nothing Unusual

Thucydides 1.76.2 (tr. Charles Forster Smith):
Thus there is nothing remarkable or inconsistent with human nature in what we also have done, just because we accepted an empire when it was offered us, and then, yielding to the strongest motives—honour, fear, and self-interest—declined to give it up. Nor, again, are we the first who have entered upon such a course, but it has ever been an established rule that the weaker is kept down by the stronger.

οὕτως οὐδ' ἡμεῖς θαυμαστὸν οὐδὲν πεποιήκαμεν οὐδ' ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀνθρωπείου τρόπου, εἰ ἀρχήν τε διδομένην ἐδεξάμεθα καὶ ταύτην μὴ ἀνεῖμεν ὑπὸ τῶν μεγίστων νικηθέντες, τιμῆς καὶ δέους καὶ ὠφελίας, οὐδ' αὖ πρῶτοι τοῦ τοιούτου ὑπάρξαντες, ἀλλ' αἰεὶ καθεστῶτος τὸν ἥσσω ὑπὸ τοῦ δυνατωτέρου κατείργεσθαι.


The Death Penalty

Plato, Laws 862e-863a (tr. Trevor J. Saunders):
But suppose the lawgiver finds a man who's beyond cure — what legal penalty will he provide for this case? He will recognize that the best thing for all such people is to cease to live — best even for themselves. By passing on they will help others, too: first, they will constitute a warning against injustice, and secondly they will leave the state free of scoundrels. That is why the lawgiver should prescribe the death penalty in such cases, by way of punishment for their crimes — but in no other case whatever.

ὃν δ᾽ ἂν ἀνιάτως εἰς ταῦτα ἔχοντα αἴσθηται νομοθέτης, δίκην τούτοισι καὶ νόμον θήσει τίνα; γιγνώσκων που τοῖς τοιούτοις πᾶσιν ὡς οὔτε αὐτοῖς ἔτι ζῆν ἄμεινον, τούς τε ἄλλους ἂν διπλῇ ὠφελοῖεν ἀπαλλαττόμενοι τοῦ βίου, παράδειγμα μὲν τοῦ μὴ ἀδικεῖν τοῖς ἄλλοις γενόμενοι, ποιοῦντες δὲ ἀνδρῶν κακῶν ἔρημον τὴν πόλιν, οὕτω δὴ τῶν τοιούτων πέρι νομοθέτῃ κολαστὴν τῶν ἁμαρτημάτων θάνατον ἀνάγκη νέμειν, ἄλλως δὲ οὐδαμῶς.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022


A Great Deal of Work

Lucien Febvre (1878-1956), The Problem of Unbelief in the Sixteenth Century: The Religion of Rabelais, tr. Beatrice Gottlieb (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982), p. 201:
We have thus seen once more that we should not read a sixteenth-century work with the eyes of a twentieth-century man and then utter a frightened cry and proclaim the work shocking. Only one thing is shocking: forgetting the small fact that a proposition stated by a man of 1538 does not sound the same when stated by a man of 1938. And that a great deal of work must be done, important and highly intricate work, if we wish to restore to opinions we think we can understand without further investigation the very special meaning they had for the people who held them four centuries ago.


A Rule

2 Thessalonians 3:10 (King James Version):
For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

καὶ γὰρ ὅτε ἦμεν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, τοῦτο παρηγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν, ὅτι εἴ τις οὐ θέλει ἐργάζεσθαι, μηδὲ ἐσθιέτω.
Erasmus, Adages II ix 88 (tr. R.A.B Mynors):
Ni purges et molas, non comedes
Unless you clean and grind, you'll have nothing to eat

Ἂν μὴ καθάρῃς καὶ ἀλέσῃς, οὐ μὴ φάγῃς, Unless you clean and grind, you'll have nothing to eat. No food, that is, will come your way unless you also contribute your own energy. Ceres is said to have used these words when she taught Triptolemus the use of grain. It looks like an iambic line borrowed from some poet, but it is corrupt; it will scan if you read κἀλέσῃς. It can be adapted to a very different context: 'Your intelligence will be no use to you unless you use it,' 'Princes' favour will be useless unless you know how to behave,' 'It will be no help to have acquired a good teacher if you don't keep awake yourself.' Recorded by Diogenianus [5.17].
As ἢν μὴ καθάρῃς κἀλέσῃς, οὐ μὴ φάγῃς, this is Tragica Adespota, fragment 134 Nauck. καθάρῃς here = winnow, sift.


The Maximum Possible Pleasure

Sophocles, fragment 593 (from Tereus, tr. Alan H. Sommerstein and David Fitzpatrick):
Let any human being live so as to provide for himself, day by day, the maximum possible pleasure; he is always walking blind into tomorrow.

ζώοι τις ἀνθρώπων τὸ κατ' ἆµαρ ὅπως
ἥδιστα πορσύνων· τὸ δ' ἐς αὔριον αἰεὶ
τυφλὸς ἕρπει.

1 ζώοι codd.: ζῴη Wagner
ἆµαρ Gleditsch: ἦµαρ codd.
3 τυφλὸς Friedländer: τυφλὸν codd.


One Halfway Decent Sentence

E.M. Cioran (1911-1995), History and Utopia, tr. Richard Howard (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), p. 2:
What consumption of coffee, of cigarettes, and of dictionaries merely to write one halfway decent sentence in this inapproachable language, too noble and too distinguished for my taste!

Quelle consommation de café, de cigarettes et de dictionnaires pour écrire une phrase tant soit peu correcte dans cette langue inabordable, trop noble, et trop distinguée à mon gré!

Monday, December 12, 2022


Latin Comes Into Its Own

Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain, chapter 5 (Hans Castorp speaking; tr. James E. Woods):
"Requiescat in pace," he said. "Sit tibi terra levis. Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine. You see, when it comes to death, when one speaks to the dead or about them, Latin comes into its own. It's the official language in such cases, which only points up how special death is. But it is not out of humanistic courtesy that people speak Latin in their honor. The language of the dead is not the Latin you learn in school, you see, but comes from a totally different sphere, from just the opposite direction one might say. It is sacred Latin, the dialect of monks, a chant from the Middle Ages, so to speak, a kind of muted, subterranean monotone. Settembrini would not be pleased with it, it's nothing for humanists and republicans and pedagogues of that ilk. It comes from a different intellectual direction—from the other one. It seems to me you have to be clear about these two intellectual directions, or dispositions, as they might more accurately be called—the religious and the freethinking. They both have their good points, but what I particularly have against the freethinking one —the Settembrinian one, I mean—is that it assumes that only it truly represents human dignity. That is an exaggeration. In its own way, the other contains a great deal of human dignity, too, and contributes to moral conduct and decorum and noble formality, certainly more than 'freethinking' does—and always with an eye to human weakness and frailty. The concepts of death and corruption play an important role, too."
»Requiescat in pace«, sagte er. »Sit tibi terra levis. Requiem aetemam dona ei, Domine. Siehst du, wenn es sich um den Tod handelt und man zu Toten spricht oder von Toten, so tritt auch wieder das Latein in Kraft, das ist die offizielle Sprache in solchen ällen, da merkt man, was für eine besondere Sache es mit dem Tode ist. Aber es ist nicht aus humanistischer Courtoisie, daß man Lateinisch redet zu seinen Ehren, die Totensprache ist kein Bildungslatein, verstehst du, sondern von einem ganz anderen Geist, einem ganz entgegengesetzten, kann man wohl sagen. Das ist Sakrallatein, Mönchsdialekt, Mittelalter, so ein dumpfer, ein töniger, unterirdischer Gesang gewissermaßen,—Settembrini fände kein Gefallen daran, es ist nichts für Humanisten und Republikaner und solche Pädagogen, es ist von einer anderen Geistesrichtung, der anderen, die es gibt. Ich finde, man muß sich klar sein über die verschiedenen Geistesrichtungen oder Geistesstimmungen, wie man wohl richtiger sagen sollte, es gibt die fromme und die freie. Sie haben beide ihre Vorzüge, aber was ich gegen die freie, die Settembrini'sche meine ich, auf dem Herzen habe, ist nur, daß sie die Menschenwürde so ganz in Pacht zu haben glaubt, das ist übertrieben. Die andere enthält auch viel menschliche Würde in ihrer Art und gibt Veranlassung zu einer Menge Wohlanstand und properer Haltung und nobler Förmlichkeit, mehr sogar als die ›freie‹, obgleich sie die menschliche Schwäche und Hinfälligkeit ja besonders im Auge hat und der Gedanke an Tod und Verwesung eine so wichtige Rolle darin spielt.«


Terrible Scenes

Diodorus Siculus 17.13.6 (Battle of Thebes, 335 BC; tr. Robin Waterfield):
The city therefore witnessed terrible scenes: Greeks were being slaughtered without mercy by fellow Greeks, men murdered by their close kin, and no hand was stayed by hearing the same language spoken.

διὸ καὶ πάθη πολλὰ καὶ δεινὰ κατὰ τὴν πόλιν ὁρᾶν ἦν γινόμενα· Ἕλληνες γὰρ ὑφ᾽ Ἑλλήνων ἀνηλεῶς ἀνῃροῦντο καὶ συγγενεῖς ὑπὸ τῶν κατὰ γένος προσηκόντων ἐφονεύοντο, μηδεμίαν ἐντροπὴν τῆς ὁμοφώνου διαλέκτου παρεχομένης.

Sunday, December 11, 2022


A Lost Ancient Wine Glass

Inscriptiones Graecae XIV 2576,9 (from Santanyí on Mallorca, my translation):
Wine, the splendid pleasure.

οἶνος ἡ λαμπρὰ ἡδονή.
Inscriptiones Graecae: Inscriptiones Siciliae et Italiae. Additis Graecis Galliae Hispaniae Britanniae Germaniae Inscriptionibus = Inscriptiones Graecae, Vol. XIV, ed. Georg Kaibel (Berlin: Georg Reimer, 1890), p. 682 (under the heading Instrumentum Domesticum, V: Vascula Vitrea):
ex parietinis Santagninii oppidi in Baleari maiore effossum vasculum vitreum caerulei coloris, tum apud Antonium Despuigium MAI. olim Palmae in oppido, nunc periisse dicitur HVEBN. Titulus circa medium vasculi ventrem per orbem scriptus, ut patet e Marini delineatione.
Marini Vat . 9128 f. 53 nescio unde; ex apographo Buenaventurae Serra, quod dederat Buverus, ed. Huebner Monatsber. der Berl. Akad. 1860 p. 440.

Verba οἶνος ἡ λαμπρὰ ἡδονή tam absurda, ut novicii potius quam antiqui philosophi esse conicias.
I guess I'm just obtuse, because I don't understand why Kaibel called the inscription stupid. It would make a good label for a Mallorcan wine. My friend Eric Thomson points out:
The medium of glass sheds some light on the choice of the adjective λαμπρὰ. Who has never held a wine glass up to the sun?

Saturday, December 10, 2022


Be Happy

Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum VII 154 = Roman Inscriptions of Britain 292 (Wroxeter, 43 to 61 AD), tr. R.S.O. Tomlin, Britannia Romana: Roman Inscriptions and Roman Britain (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2018), p. 29 (I've placed the translation before the Latin):
Titus Flaminius, son of Titus, of the Pollia voting-tribe, from Faventia, aged 45, of 22 years' service, a soldier of the Fourteenth Legion Gemina. I served as the Eagle-bearer, now here I am. Read this and be happy, whether more or less, in your lifetime. The gods prohibit you from the wine-grape and water when you enter Tartarus. Live honourably while your star gives you time for life.

[T(itus) F]laminius T(iti filius) Pol(lia tribu) Fa[v(entia)]
[an]norum XXXXV stip(endiorum) XXII mil(es) leg(ionis)
[XII]II Gem(inae) militavi aq(uilifer), nunc hic s[u]m.
[Hoc] legite et felices vita plus min[us] e[ste:]
[d]i uva vini et aqua prohibent ubi
Ta[r]tar(a) aditis; vivite dum si[dus]
vitae dat tempus honeste.
The stone:

Dear Mike,

Just a guess, but I wonder if the Roman through whom 'the gale of life blew high' and whose ashes are 'under Uricon' might not have been inspired at least in part by Titus Flaminius? Nikolaus Pevsner reports that Housman visited the early excavations (Buildings of England: Shropshire, 1958 p. 328) and he is likely to have seen the stone and read the inscription, either in person in Shrewsbury, a town he knew well, or in Thomas Wright's illustrated guide to the ruins (1863).
The theme of the last four lines
[Hoc] legite et felices vita plus min[us] e[ste:]
[d]i uva vini et aqua prohibent ubi
Ta[r]tar(a) aditis; vivite dum si[dus]
vitae dat tempus honeste.
is common to the Roman and the English yeoman ('The thoughts that hurt him they were there'). Underlying them is the brevity of human existence, which is also present in the poem ('the gale, 'twill soon be gone'). It's no more than a possibility, but it would be no surprise if the Wroxeter soldier who addressed posterity on the subject of life and death found a sympathetic listener in a poet obsessed with the grave.

As a callow 17-year-old volunteer, I spent three weeks excavating at Wroxeter. With no prior experience I was assigned wheelbarrow duties mostly, though I did do a bit of feeble scraping with the trowel. The archaeologists directing the excavations were Philip Barker and Graham Webster, leading lights of the day.

Best wishes,

Eric [Thomson]

Friday, December 09, 2022


This One

Montaigne, Essais 3.5 (tr. Donald Frame):
Each one of my parts makes me myself just as much as every other one. And no other makes me more properly a man than this one.

Chacune de mes pieces me faict egalement moy que tout autre. Et nulle autre ne me faict plus proprement homme que cette-cy.
Related posts:

Thursday, December 08, 2022


The Brevity of Life

Sophocles, fragment 572 (from Tantalus; tr. Hugh Lloyd-Jones):
For the time of life is short,
and once a mortal is hidden beneath the earth he lies there
for all time.

βιοτῆς μὲν γὰρ χρόνος ἐστὶ βραχύς,
κρυφθεὶς δ' ὑπὸ γῆς κεῖται θνητὸς
τὸν ἅπαντα χρόνον.
A.C. Pearson ad loc.:


Like a Dog

Richard Rutherford, Introduction to Culture in Pieces: Essays on Ancient Texts in Honour of Peter Parsons (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2011), p. 7:
His initial handout at graduate seminars was often adorned with a photocopied image of the delightful red-figure cup by the Euergides painter, which shows a dog scratching itself with its hind leg.15 The use of the image hinted at a quotation from Housman: 'A textual critic engaged upon his business is not at all like Newton investigating the motions of the planets: he is much more like a dog hunting for fleas.'16

15 Beazley 1963, 96, no. 136, reproduced in Vickers 1978, no. 35.
16 Housman 1922, 68–9 = 1972, iii. 1058.
The cup:
Peter Parsons died on November 16, 2022.


The Test of Translation into Latin

Robert Graves and Alan Hodge, The Reader over Your Shoulder: A Handbook for Writers of English Prose (London: Readers Union / Jonathan Cape, 1944), pp. 120-122 (Part I, IX: Recent Prose):
Typical pudding-stone is Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch’s style though he was not a young writer when he adopted it. In his unpretentious popular novels of the ’Eighties and ’Nineties he had been at his best: with simple humorous tales of the West Country and, though avoiding any suspicion of illiteracy, with no thought of setting himself up as an authority on English. He later took up style as a simple evangelist might take up ritual; and was appointed King Edward VII Professor of English Literature at Cambridge University. The following is a quotation from his On the Art of Writing, 1916. It is a concoction of styles which the contemporary reader was perhaps expected to taste critically with: ‘Ah! a savour of Morris! Ah! a smack of Bunyan! Ah! a touch of Henry James! Ah, oh, ah! a tang, taste, suspicion, whiff, of Burke, Hazlitt, Jeremy Taylor, Washington Irving!’
‘Seeing that in human discourse, infinitely varied as it is, so much must ever depend on who speaks, and to whom, in what mood and upon what occasion; and seeing that Literature must needs take account of all manner of writers, audiences, moods, occasions; I hold it a sin against the light to put up a warning against any word that comes to us in the fair way of use and wont (as "wire", for instance, for telegram), even as surely as we should warn off hybrids or deliberately pedantic impostors, such as "anti-body" and "picture-drome", and that, generally, it is better to err on the side of liberty than on the side of the censor: since by the manumitting of new words we infuse new blood into a tongue of which (or we have learnt nothing from Shakespeare's audacity) our first pride should be that it is flexible, alive, capable of responding to new demands of man's untiring quest after knowledge and experience.’
In this passage we see the first clear signs of the breakdown of prose logic that has become so evident since the end of the First World War. Even in late Victorian times, no person of Sir A. Quiller-Couch’s eminence would have dared to publish a sentence so plainly grotesque as ‘By the manumitting of new words we infuse new blood into a tongue which is flexible, alive, capable of responding to new demands of man's untiring quest after knowledge and experience.’ When the test of translation into Latin is applied, it fails at every point. No Latin orator would have figured new words as slaves to be manumitted: he would have seen them as barbarians applying for citizenship. Nor would he have figured the act of manumission as infusing new blood into anything: he would have put in the step here left out, namely, that after manumission the former slaves would be permitted to marry into their masters' families. Nor would he have written of a tongue as 'flexible and alive': he would have known that any human tongue, unless its owner happens to be paralysed, poisoned, or frozen stiff, is flexible and alive. He would therefore have avoided the word lingua (which means 'tongue' in the senses both of speech and of the organ of speech) and used instead 'modus loquendi', a 'manner of speaking'. Nor would he have admitted that a tongue into which new blood has been infused could 'respond to man's demands' as if it were a separate person or animal. Nor would he have mixed his vocabularies—Ennius with Petronius—as is done here: the Elizabethan phrase ‘I hold it a sin against the light to put up a warning against any word that comes to us in the fair way of use and wont’ mixed with the late-Victorian devotional-scientific phrase ‘capable of responding to new demands of man’s untiring quest’.
Graves' study:
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.

Wednesday, December 07, 2022


Do Not Go Beyond What Is Written

1 Corinthians 4:6 (Revised Standard Version):
I have applied all this to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brethren, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.

ταῦτα δέ, ἀδελφοί, μετεσχημάτισα εἰς ἐμαυτὸν καὶ Ἀπολλῶν δι' ὑμᾶς, ἵνα ἐν ἡμῖν μάθητε τό μὴ ὑπὲρ ἃ γέγραπται, ἵνα μὴ εἷς ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἑνὸς φυσιοῦσθε κατὰ τοῦ ἑτέρου.

τό μὴ ὑπὲρ ἃ γέγραπται del. Frid. Aug. Bornemann, "De memorabili glossemate, quod locum I Corinth. 4, 6. insedisse videtur," Biblische Studien von Geistlichen des Königreichs Sachsen 2 (1843) 37-44 (at 37-40).
Bornemann, p. 38 (my translation):
I would like you to recognize in the words τό μὴ ὑπὲρ ἃ γέγραπται nothing but an annotation, by which the scribe wanted to indicate that in the original in front of his eyes, the negative word μή had been written above the final letter of the conjunction ἵνα, in such a way that the scribe doubted whether he should consider it as genuine or not, whether he should put it in the text or omit it.

In verbis τό μὴ ὑπὲρ ἃ γέγραπται nihil nisi adnotamentum velim agnoscas, quo librarius indicaturus erat, in archetypo, quod ipsi ante oculos erat, negationem μή literae ultimae coniunctionis ἵνα superscriptam fuisse, ita ut haesitaret scriba, pro genuina haberet necne, in textisne poneret, an omitteret.
In other words, the scribe meant to note that "μή has been written above α (of ἵνα)."

I owe my knowledge of Bornemann's conjecture to Jan Krans, Beyond What Is Written: Erasmus and Beza as Conjectural Critics of the New Testament (Leiden: Brill, 2006 = New Testament Tools and Studies, 35), p. 1, n. 2.

Joseph A. Fitzmyer ad loc. (3rd of 4 explanations of τό μὴ ὑπὲρ ἃ γέγραπται):
The words are considered to be a marginal gloss that has been introduced secondarily into the text. A scribe perceived that the negative () was missing from the first hina clause, and because the text without it would have read, "Now, brother, I have transferred this to myself and Apollos for your sake, that you may learn from us to become arrogant, siding with one against another," it would flatly contradict the point that Paul has been trying to make. So the scribe emended the text, writing above the alpha (the final letter) of hina and calling attention to it in a marginal note, which was subsequently added to the text. Baljon (De tekst, 49–51) was among the first to propose this explanation; it has been adopted by many others: Bousset, Héring, Howard, Legault, MacDonald, Murphy-O'Connor, Strugnell, C.S.C. Williams; cf. IBNTG, 64; BDR §230.4). (Although it is not noted in the usual apparatus criticus, the is absent in mss D and E.) Even though this explanation seems attractive, it involves anacoluthon in the first hina clause and makes the second hina clause the obj. of the verb mathēte, which is strange. Murphy-O'Connor, acknowledging these difficulties, nevertheless considers Strugnell's translation "undoubtedly correct" and raising "the hypothesis of a gloss to the level of certitude" ("Interpolations," 85); but Kilpatrick ("Conjectural Emendation," 352) remains "unconvinced by Strugnell's suggestion"; similarly Lindemann, 1 Cor, 103.
J.M.S. Baljon, De tekst der brieven van Paulus aan de Romeinen, de Corinthiërs en de Galatiërs als voorwerp van de conjecturaalkrititiek beschouwd (Utrecht: J. van Boekhoven, 1884) (non vidi), appeared 41 years after Bornemann, who deserves credit for the ingenious suggestion.

Tuesday, December 06, 2022



Homer, Iliad 2.478-479 (sc. Agamemnon; tr. Peter Green):
in eyes and head like Zeus who delights in the thunderbolt,
like Arēs in girth, and with the chest of Poseidōn.

ὄμματα καὶ κεφαλὴν ἴκελος Διὶ τερπικεραύνῳ,
Ἄρεϊ δὲ ζώνην, στέρνον δὲ Ποσειδάωνι.
G.S. Kirk ad loc.:
477-8 Agamemnon stands out among the leaders, he is like a Zeus among them. It is a powerful and extravagant idea that he resembles the god in 'eyes and head', literally: a unique phrase, more likely to imply 'in his gaze and by his height' (cf. 3.193 and comment, where Odysseus is μείων μὲν κεφαλῇ than Agamemnon) than any specific facial resemblance.

479 No doubt is cast on this verse either in the ancient tradition (AbT admired it) or by modern editors, but it ought to raise an initial suspicion. It might be a simple oral cumulation, but is an anticlimax after the unusual comparison with Zeus. The king's waist is like Ares'; normally ζώνη applies to a woman's waist, and it needs a slight mistranslation like 'girth' to make it seem natural here. His chest is like Poseidon's — again the only parallel is Odysseus at 3.193f., where he is shorter than Agamemnon but broader in shoulders and chest. ἴσος Ἄρηϊ is a common general expression (5x Il.) of comparison with the war-god, and may be the model here; there is no other case of a specific comparison with Poseidon (see the useful conspectus in Anne Amory Parry, Blameless Aegisthus (Leiden 1973) 218-23).

Monday, December 05, 2022


An Unusual Flair for Languages

Andrew Robinson, The Man who Deciphered Linear B: The Story of Michael Ventris (London: Thames & Hudson, 2002), pp. 16-17:
By the time he was just eight years old, he had been at boarding schools for three years: a year in England and about two years in Switzerland. Since the only languages spoken in the Swiss school were French and German, no English, he was compelled to speak both languages (including of course Swiss German). From his mother he picked up Polish. Very soon, it was obvious that Michael had an unusual flair for languages. In adult life, he would learn European languages in a matter of weeks and months; the more languages he spoke, he once told a friend, the easier it became to pick up a new one.
Id., p. 44:
He was determined not to stagnate in the RAF. Besides a great deal of reading on a wide range of subjects, including politics and science, and frequent visits to the movies, he worked at picking up five or more European languages (his letters to Gabo were soon entirely in Russian)...


What Fun!

Keith Thomas, The Ends of Life: Roads to Fulfilment in Early Modern England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 47, with note on p. 285:
'What more excellent spectacle can there be to them that are lords and conquerors?' asked Barnaby Barnes, who had served with the second Earl of Essex in France in 1591, 'than in the open fields to pursue their enemies in flight? To wound, slaughter and captivate them? To see their horses with the riders distressed? To see many of them which have received wounds neither to find surgery nor means of escape, some of them desperately to resist and presently to fall down? Lastly, to see the whole camp covered with weapons, armour, and dead bodies, and the ground dyed into purple with their enemies' blood?'18 What fun indeed!

18. Barnabe Barnes, Foure Bookes of Offices (1606), 183.
Id., p. 51, with notes on p. 286:
Among the many terms for effectiveness in battle, two of the most frequently employed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were 'manhood' and 'manfulness'. 'So manly a man' was the Lord Montague, says the chronicler, that he spared no one.37 The Elizabethan hero Sir Richard Grenville, at dinner with Spanish captains, so as to show what he was made of, crushed the wine glasses, chewed, and swallowed them, the blood pouring out of his mouth.38

In the upbringing of boys, a high value was set on physical courage. James I's son Prince Henry was praised because, as a child, he wept much less than other boys when he fell over and hurt himself, and, at the age of 7, successfully beat up a boy who was a year older.39 The endurance of pain was a basic feature of contemporary boys’ education, for floggings and the teaching of grammar were inseparable.40 Grammar school boys were encouraged to engage in mock battles, and informal fighting between schoolboys was common.

37. The Historical Collections of a Citizen of London in the Fifteenth Century, ed. James Gairdner (Camden Soc., 1876), 224; OED, s.v. 'manhood'.

38. The Last Fight of the Revenge, ed. Edward Arber (1871), 92. For a similar feat, Christopher Marlowe, Tamburlaine the Great (published 1590), II.iii.1.

39. Thomas Birch, The Life of Henry Prince of Wales (1760), 384.

40. Keith Thomas, Rule and Misrule in the Schools of Early Modern England, Stenton Lecture (Reading, 1976), 9–12.


Ronsard's Epitaph for Rabelais

Andrea Walkden, "RONSARD, PIERRE DE (1524–85)," in Elizabeth Chesney Zegura, ed., The Rabelais Encyclopedia (Westport: Greenwood Press, 2004), p. 215:
Ronsard includes an epitaph for Rabelais ("Epithafe de François Rabelais") in his 1554 collection, Le Bocage, published the year following the older writer's death. Part encomium, part burlesque, the poem begins with a Bacchic vine sprouting out of Rabelais's decomposing paunch. Retrospective intoxication ensues before death enters to sober up the proceedings and the epitaph ends by urging the reader to scatter food and drink, not flowers, upon Rabelais's grave. Taken as a whole, it confirms Rabelais's reputation as a bon vivant without telling us too much about what Ronsard thought of him.
Pierre de Ronsard, "Epitaph for François Rabelais" (tr. Malcolm Quainton and Elizabeth Vinestock):
If Nature engenders something from a dead man who lies rotting, and if generation comes from corruption, a vine will be born from the stomach and belly of our worthy Rabelais, who drank constantly while he was alive,

for with a single swig his great gob would by itself have drunk more wine, draining it, nose first, in two shakes, than a pig drinks sweet milk, or than Iris drinks rivers, or than the tawny shore drinks waves.

Never, however early in the morning, did the Sun see him when he had not been drinking, and never in the evening, however late, did black night see him not drinking, for, being parched, the good fellow drank night and day without a break.

But when the blazing Dog Days brought round the burning season, he rolled up his sleeves, leaving his arms half bare, and lay spread-eagled on the rush-strewn floor amid the drinking vessels, and without any shame, becoming filthy among greasy dishes, he wallowed in the wine like a frog in the mire; then, drunk, he sang the praises of his friend, good Bacchus, recounting how the Thebans were subjugated by him, and how his mother was visited by his father too hotly, who instead of doing it to her, burned her alive, alas!

He sang of the great club and the mare of Gargantua, of great Panurge, and the land of the credulous Papimanes, their laws, their ways and their homes, and of Jean des Entommeures, and of Epistemon's battles. But Death, who was not a drinker, hauled the drinker out of this world, and now makes him drink from the water that flows murkily into the bosom of the wide river Acheron.

Now, you who pass by, whoever you may be, hang drinking vessels over his grave, hang some sparkling wine there, and some bottles, sausages and hams; for, if beneath his tombstone his soul still has some feeling, he prefers these to lilies, however freshly they are picked.

Si d'un mort qui pourri repose
Nature engendre quelque chose,
Et si la generation
Est faite de la corruption,
Une vigne prendra naissance        5
De l'estomac et de la pance
Du bon Rabelais, qui boivoit
Tousjours ce-pendant qu'il vivoit,

Car d'un seul trait sa grande gueule
Eust plus beu de vin toute seule,        10
L'épuisant du nez en deux cous,
Qu'un porc ne hume de lait dous,
Qu'Iris de fleuves, ne qu'encore
De vagues le rivage more.

Jamais le Soleil ne l'a veu,        15
Tant fust-il matin, qu'il n'eust beu;
Et jamais au soir la nuit noire,
Tant fust tard, ne l'a veu sans boire,
Car alteré, sans nul sejour,
Le galant boivoit nuit et jour.        20

Mais quand l'ardente Canicule
Ramenoit la saison qui brule,
Demi-nus se troussoit les bras,
Et se couchoit tout plat à bas
Sur la jonchée entre les tasses,        25
Et, parmi des escuelles grasses
Sans nulle honte se touillant,
Alloit dans le vin barbouillant
Comme une grenouille en la fange:
Puis yvre chantoit la louange        30
De son ami le bon Bacchus,
Comme sous luy furent vaincus
Les Thebains, et comme sa mere
Trop chaudement receut son pere,
Qui en lieu de faire cela,        35
Las! toute vive la brula.

Il chantoit la grande massue,
Et la jument de Gargantue,
Le grand Panurge, et le païs
Des Papimanes ébaïs,        40
Leurs loix, leurs façons et demeures;
Et frere Jean des Antoumeures
Et d'Episteme les combas.
Mais la Mort, qui ne boivoit pas,
Tira le beuveur de ce monde,        45
Et ores le fait boire en l'onde
Qui fuit trouble dans le giron
Du large fleuve d'Acheron.

Or toy, quiconque sois, qui passes,
Sur sa fosse répen des taces,        50
Répen du bril et des flacons,
Des cervelas et des jambons:
Car si encor dessous la lame
Quelque sentiment a son ame,
Il les aime mieus que des lis,        55
Tant soyent ils fraichement cueillis.
See Samuel F. Will, "A Note on Ronsard's Epitafe de François Rabelais," Modern Language Notes 51.7 (November, 1936) 455-458.

Sunday, December 04, 2022


An Excellent Practice

Lucien Febvre (1878-1956), The Problem of Unbelief in the Sixteenth Century: The Religion of Rabelais, tr. Beatrice Gottlieb (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982), pp. 174-175 (on Gargantua's letter to Pantagruel; footnote omitted):
To do this, let us begin by translating it. It is in French, of course, magnificent French. Let us put it into words that are much less beautiful but more immediately accessible to our minds. An excellent practice, by the way; one should never omit availing oneself of it every time it is a matter of interpret­ing an old document whose message is hard to grasp.


Not for Myself Alone

Rhetorica ad Herennium 4.43.55 (tr. Harry Caplan, with his note):
The wise man will think that for the common weal he ought to undergo every peril. Often he will say to himself: 'Not for self alone was I born, but also, and much more, for the fatherland.d Above all, let me spend my life, which I owe to fate, for the salvation of my country. She has nourished me. She has in safety and honour reared me even to this time of life. She has protected my interests by good laws, the best of customs, and a most honourable training. How can I adequately repay her from whom I have received these blessings?' According as the wise man often says this to himself, when the republic is in danger, he on his part will shun no danger.

d Cf. Plato, Epist. 9, 358A: "Yet this, too, you ought to bear in mind — that none of us was born for self alone, but our existence is shared by our country, our parents, and our friends"; Demosthenes, De Corona 205: "Every one of those men considered himself to have been born, not to his father and mother alone, but also to his fatherland."

sapiens omnia rei publicae causa suscipienda pericula putabit. saepe ipse secum loquitur: 'non mihi soli, sed etiam atque adeo multo potius natus sum patriae; vita, quae fato debetur, saluti patriae potissimum solvatur. aluit haec me; tute atque honeste produxit usque ad hanc aetatem; munivit meas rationes bonis legibus, optumis moribus, honestissimis disciplinis. quid est quod a me satis ei persolvi possit unde haec accepi?' exinde ut haec loquetur secum sapiens saepe, in periculis rei publicae nullum ipse periculum fugiet.

Saturday, December 03, 2022


A Wrestling Hold

Michael B. Poliakoff, Combat Sports in the Ancient World: Competition, Violence, and Culture (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987), p. 4, with note on p. 163:
[W]e learn, for instance, from ancient lexica that a wrestling hold called mesoperdein or mesopherdein appeared on the comic stage, and some discussions of ancient sport duly note it as an unexplained tactic. What the word really denotes, however, is a rude (and hilarious) imitation of the common wrestler's waistlock, mesolabein, "to hold around the middle": by replacing -labein ("hold") with -perdein ("fart") the comedian has created a tactic that surely never appeared in a palaestra: "to squeeze out a fart."3

3. On this problem, see Poliakoff, Studies, 48-49.
The reference is to Michael Poliakoff, Studies in the Terminology of Greek Combat Sports (Königstein, 1982 = Beiträge zur Klassischen Philologie, 146; rpt. Frankfurt am Main: Hain, 1986), which is unavailable to me. I don't have access to Rudolf Kassel and Colin Austin, Poetae Comici Graeci, Vol. VIII: Adespota (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1995) either.

See Ryan Seaberg, Lexical Blends in Greek and Latin Comedic Idiom (diss. University of Minnesota, 2019), pp. 128-129:
Poll. 3.155
καὶ πλαγιάζειν δὲ καὶ κλιμακίζειν παλαισμάτων ὀνόματα· μοχθηρὸν γὰρ τὸ μεσοπέρδην (adesp. com. fr. 775) ἐν τῇ κωμῳδίᾳ σχῆμα παλαίσματος

τὸ μεσοπέρδην Dobree: τὸ μέσον ἔρδειν Poll.A: τὸ πέρδην Poll.FC: τὸ πέρδειν Poll.SB

And both plagiazein (“throw sideways”) and klimakizein (“hold one's ground”) are names of wrestling moves. But unsuitable is the word mesoperdên, a kind of wrestling move in comedy

Hsch. μ 928
μεσοπέρδην· μεσοφέρδην τὸν μέσον φερόμενον· τὸ γὰρ παλαιὸν τῷ π ἀντὶ τοῦ φ ἐχρῶντο προστιθέντες τὸ τῆς δασύτητος σημεῖον

μεσοπέρδην· μεσοφέρδην] μεσόπερα ἦν· μέφερα ἦν mss.

mesoperdên: (they say that) mesopherdên (is) one who is being carried in the middle. In antiquity they used pi instead of phi, adding the mark of rough-breathing

Phot. μ 302
μεσοπέρδην· ἐκ τῶν μέσων· ἀντὶ τοῦ μεσοφέρδην μεμενηκότων τῶν ἀρχαίων χαρακτήρων

μεσοπέρδην] μεσομερδην Phot.g: μεσoμέρδην Phot.z

mesoperdên: from the middle; instead of mesopherdên, recalling the ancient characters
Id., pp. 130-131 (footnote omitted)
μεσοπέρδην is a blend of μεσοφέρδην “(borne) by the middle” and πέρδομαι “fart”. The word is unlikely as an adverb in -δην.


[A]s a blend, the form and meaning of the word are clear, with the phonetic overlap (-φερδ- and περδ-) exploited to meld the two source-words into a blended word with a combined meaning that serves as the punchline of a joke: that one may cause an opponent to fart (πέρδομαι) while carrying (φέρω) him by the middle (μέσος).


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