Tuesday, February 28, 2023


Free Speech

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956), My Life as Author and Editor, ed. Jonathan Yardley (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993), p. xviii:
My belief in free speech is so profound that I am seldom tempted to deny it to the other fellow. Nor do I make any effort to differentiate between that other fellow right and that other fellow wrong, for I am convinced that free speech is worth nothing unless it includes a full franchise to be foolish and even to be malicious.


Live Free or Die

Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 4.82.4 (speech of Brutus after the suicide of Lucretia; tr. Earnest Cary):
Nay, but we must all choose one of two things—life with liberty or death with glory.

ἀλλὰ δυεῖν θάτερον ἅπασιν αἱρετέον, ἢ βίον ἐλεύθερον ἢ θάνατον ἔνδοξον.
Related post: Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death.



Andrew Roberts, Napoleon: A Life (New York: Penguin Books, 2014), p. xxiii:
A military historian who doesn't visit battlefields is akin to a detective who doesn't bother to visit the scene of the crime.


Infinitely Worse

Simon Heffer, "George Orwell's chilling prediction has come true – it's time to make a stand," Telegraph (February 22, 2023):
What is it about the past that some young people find unbearable? After all, no one is expecting them to live through it. Indeed, some of us who did find the present infinitely worse.


We have arrived at our own endless present, or Year Zero, where the record, historical and otherwise, is readily falsified. Its rules are designed to prevent what that arrogant and self-regarding minority who feel obliged to police and alter the thoughts of the rest of us consider the ultimate crime: giving offence. Most of us have spent our lives encountering things that could, if we wallowed in self-regard, offend us deeply. We were trained to ignore them and get on with life. Now, suddenly, we cannot be trusted to do that.

Therefore books, art, films and television programmes must be censored or suppressed, statues taken down as though the lives they commemorate never happened, streets and buildings renamed to eradicate thought criminals. Like Pol Pot, that minority feels a moral duty to erase the past to attain Year Zero. Sadly for us, their main qualifications are an overbearing self-righteousness, a profound ignorance of history and a deep misunderstanding of the idea of liberty that few of us share.


The Body Politic

Michael Psellus, Chronographia 7.51 (on Isaac Comnenus; tr. E.R.A. Sewter):
But Isaac wanted to revolutionize everything. He was eager to lose no time in cutting out the dead wood which had long been accumulating in the Roman Empire. We can liken it to a monstrous body, a body with a multitude of heads, an ugly bull-neck, hands so many that they were beyond counting, and just as many feet; its entrails were festering and diseased, in some parts swollen, in others wasting away, here afflicted with dropsy, there diminishing with consumption. Now Isaac tried to remedy this by wholesale surgery. He attempted to get rid of the bulges and restore the body to a normal shape, to take away this and build up that, to heal the intestines and breathe into this monster some life-giving breath...

ἀλλ’ ἐκεῖνος μεταποιῆσαι πάντα βουλόμενος· καὶ χρόνοις πολλοῖς τὴν ῥωμαϊκὴν βασιλείαν ὑλομανήσασαν σπεύδων εὐθὺς ἐκτεμεῖν· ἢ καθαπερεὶ σῶμα τερατείας πάσης μεστὸν, κεφαλαῖς μὲν διαμεμερισμένον πολλαῖς· δυστράχηλόν τε καὶ πολυτράχηλον· χερσί τε οὐκ εὐαριθμήτοις διαπεπλασμένον· καὶ ποσὶν ἰσαρίθμοις χρώμενον· εἶτα δὴ καὶ τὰ ἔνδον ὕπουλον καὶ κακόηθες· καὶ τὰ μὲν διεξῳδηκὸς· τὰ δὲ φθίνον· καὶ τοῦτο μὲν ὑδεριοῦν· τοῦτο δὲ φθινάδι νόσῳ διαρρυὲν, ἐπιχειρήσας ἀποτεμεῖν ἀθρόον· καὶ ὑπεξελεῖν μὲν τὰς περιττότητας· ἐπαγαγεῖν δὲ τὰς ἰσότητας· καὶ τὰ μὲν καθελεῖν· τὰ δ’ ἐπαυξῆσαι· τά τε σπλάγχνα ἰάσασθαι· ἐμπνεῦσαί τε τούτῳ πνεῦμα φυσίζῳον...


Understanding, or the Lack of It

Ralph Kirkpatrick, Interpreting Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier: A Performer's Discourse of Method (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984), p. 4:
Simply because a name has been tacked onto something, it can easily be thought to have been understood; once an idea has been formulated, it is all too easy to make up the mind and close it.

Monday, February 27, 2023


Nothing Will Be Lacking

Cicero, Letters to His Friends 9.4 (to Varro; tr. W. Glynn Williams, with his note):
If you fail to come to me, I shall hasten to you. If you have a garden in your library, we shall have all we want.a

a i.e., "plain living and high thinking": so Tyrrell takes it, and hortus is often used for "vegetables." Cf. Hor. Sat. ii.4.16.

tu si minus ad nos, accurremus ad te. si hortum in bibliotheca habes, deerit nihil.

hortum codd.: χόρτον T.G. Tucker, "Emendations in Cicero's Epistles," Hermathena, Vol. 15, No. 35 (1909) 279-302 (pp. 281, 284)
Thanks to Kevin Muse for drawing my attention to Tucker's neglected conjecture.


Agents Provocateurs

Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 4.43.3 (tr. Earnest Cary):
He had spies scattered about in many places who secretly inquired into everything that was said and done, while remaining undiscovered by most persons; and by insinuating themselves into the conversation of their neighbours and sometimes by reviling the tyrant themselves they sounded every man's sentiments. Afterwards they informed the tyrant of all who were dissatisfied with the existing state of affairs; and the punishments of those who were found guilty were severe and relentless.

ἦσαν δ᾽ αὐτῷ πολλαχῇ διεσπαρμένοι κατόπται τινὲς καὶ διερευνηταὶ τῶν λεγομένων τε καὶ πραττομένων λεληθότες τοὺς πολλούς, οἳ συγκαθιέντες εἰς ὁμιλίαν τοῖς πέλας καὶ ἔστιν ὅτε κατὰ τοῦ τυράννου λέγοντες αὐτοί, πεῖραν τῆς ἑκάστου γνώμης ἐλάμβανον· ἔπειθ᾽ οὓς αἴσθοιντο τοῖς καθεστηκόσι πράγμασιν ἀχθομένους κατεμήνυον πρὸς τὸν τύραννον· αἱ δὲ τιμωρίαι κατὰ τῶν ἐλεγχθέντων ἐγίνοντο πικραὶ καὶ ἀπαραίτητοι.


Flowers and Dogs

Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962), Country Notes (London: Michael Joseph Ltd, 1939), p. 85:
We have been called a nation of shopkeepers; we might with equal justice be called a nation of gardeners. The membership-roll of the Royal Horticultural Society climbs towards forty thousand, a figure which may not rival the Tail-Waggers, who have now passed the half-million mark; still, taking the two societies together, gardeners and dog-lovers, the figures must surely represent something essentially peaceful and amiable in our national life. A nation that so profoundly and extensively loves flowers and dogs must surely have something very unbellicose in its make-up.

Sunday, February 26, 2023



Cicero, Letters to His Friends 9.3.2 (tr. W. Glynn Williams):
However, I for my part shall disregard these Goths, who know no better, and follow your lead. For although all is misery here, and worse misery there cannot be, still somehow or other our literary pursuits seem to bear a richer harvest than they bore of old, whether it is because now there is nothing else to which we can quietly settle down, or because the severity of the disease forces upon us the need for medicine, and that medicine now reveals itself, though we perceived not its virtue when we were well.

ego vero, neglecta barbarorum inscitia, te persequar; quamvis enim haec sint misera, quae sunt miserrima, tamen artes nostrae nescio quo modo nunc uberiores fructus ferre videntur, quam olim ferebant, sive quia nulla nunc in re alia acquiescimus, sive quod gravitas morbi facit, ut medicinae egeamus, eaque nunc appareat; cuius vim non sentiebamus, cum valebamus.

medicinae codd.: medicina Lambinus


I'll Be Brief

Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 4.35.4 (tr. Earnest Cary):
It is all the same whether one urges many or few just claims against unreasonable adversaries; for mere words naturally cannot bring any argument which will persuade them to be honest.

ἐν ἴσῳ γάρ ἐστι τό τε πολλὰ δίκαια πρὸς τοὺς ἀγνώμονας ἀντιδίκους λέγειν καὶ τὸ ὀλίγα· τὸ γὰρ πεῖσον αὐτοὺς εἶναι χρηστοὺς οὐ πεφύκασι φέρειν οἱ λόγοι.

τὸ ὀλίγα Cobet (sc. λέγειν): τὰ ὀλίγα codd.

Saturday, February 25, 2023



Ronald Syme, "Biographers of the Caesars," in his Roman Papers, III (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), pp. 1251-1275 (at 1256):
When different authors relate the same events, especially in narrations of warfare, resemblances cannot fail to emerge: in arrangement, in episodes, and even in language. There is a limit to variations. That is not always recognized by zealous adepts of 'Quellenforschung'.



Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 4.26.1 (tr. Earnest Cary):
When they had assembled, he caused the Roman senate and these men who came from the cities to meet together, and made a long speech exhorting them to concord, pointing out what a fine thing it is when a number of states agree together and what a disgraceful sight when kinsmen are at variance, and declaring that concord is a source of strength to weak states, while mutual slaughter reduces and weakens even the strongest.

ἐπεὶ δὲ συνῆλθον, συναγαγὼν τήν τε Ῥωμαίων βουλὴν καὶ τοὺς ἀπὸ τῶν πόλεων ἥκοντας λόγον διεξῆλθε παρακλητικὸν ὁμονοίας, διδάσκων ὡς καλὸν μὲν χρῆμα πολλαὶ πόλεις μιᾷ γνώμῃ χρώμεναι, αἰσχρὰ δ᾽ ὄψις συγγενῶν ἀλλήλαις διαφερομένων· αἴτιόν τ᾽ ἰσχύος μὲν ταῖς ἀσθενέσιν ἀποφαίνων ὁμοφροσύνην, ταπεινότητος δὲ καὶ ἀσθενείας καὶ ταῖς πάνυ ἰσχυραῖς ἀλληλοφθορίαν.



Horace, Epistles 1.8.11-12 (tr. H. Rushton Fairclough):
I follow after what has hurt me, avoid what I believe will help me,
and am fickle as the wind, at Rome loving Tibur, at Tibur Rome.

quae nocuere sequar, fugiam quae profore credam;
Romae Tibur amem ventosus, Tibure Romam.
Quintus Horatius Flaccus, Briefe. Erklärt von Adolf Kiessling. 4. Auflage bearbeitet von Richard Heinze (Berlin: Weidmann, 1914), pp. 86-87:
quae nocuere sequar: wie andere durch Schaden klug geworden dasjenige meiden, was ihnen geschadet hat, so sucht er umgekehrt, wovon er aus Erfahrung weiß, daß es schädlich sei. H. meint damit das sich Einspinnen in eingebildete Vorstellungen, die Scheu vor positiven Entschlüssen u. ähnliches.

quae pr. credam Konj. wie in quod levet aegrum: er glaubt wirklich, daß es ihm zuträglich sein würde, und scheut doch davor zurück. In diesem und dem folgenden, gleichfalls streng antithetisch gegliederten Satze drückt sich das Widerspruchsvolle der Stimmung aufs sinnfälligste aus.

ventosus 'wetterwendisch' wie der Wind, der rasch umspringt: I 19, 37. So läßt er sich schon Jahre vorher von Davus vorwerfen Romae rus optas, absentem rusticus urbem tollis ad astra levis sat. II 7, 28; diese Verstimmung, welche das seelische Unbehagen auf den unschuldigen Ort abwälzt, während doch bloß caelum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt (I 11, 27), spricht sich schon darin aus, daß er Romae Tibur amat; das Epitheton ventosus gehört also ebenso wie das Verbum zu beiden Gliedern des Satzes.

— Tibur: ob H. damals eine Besitzung in Tibur gehabt habe, was Suetons Worte vixit plurimum in secessu ruris sui Sabini aut Tiburtini, domusque eius ostenditur circa Tiburti luculum nahe legen, ist aus dem Vers nicht zu entnehmen; ein Sommeraufenthalt in Tibur war natürlich auch ohne eigenen Besitz möglich.
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.

Friday, February 24, 2023



Ronald Syme, "The Sons of Piso the Pontifex," in his Roman Papers, III (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), pp. 1226-1232 (at 1230):
Scholiasts vary enormously in value: from facts or rational inference to sad ineptitude.


Prayer for Deliverance

Gilbert K. Chesterton (1874-1936), "A Hymn," 2nd stanza, in his Poems (New York: John Lane Company, 1916), p. 76:
From all that terror teaches,
    From lies of tongue and pen,
From all the easy speeches
    That comfort cruel men,
From sale and profanation
    Of honour and the sword,
From sleep and from damnation,
    Deliver us, good Lord!



Cicero, Letters to His Friends 9.2.3 (tr. W. Glynn Williams):
And indeed it has long since occurred to me myself that it would be very nice to leave Rome and go somewhere else so as to escape seeing or hearing what was going on here and what was being said.

ac mihi quidem iam pridem venit in mentem, bellum esse, aliquo exire, ut ea, quae agebantur hic, quaeque dicebantur, nec viderem nec audirem.
Only let us be fixed in this determination — to live together amid those studies of ours in which we previously sought nothing but delight, but now seek our salvation also.

modo nobis stet illud, una vivere in studiis nostris, a quibus antea delectationem modo petebamus, nunc vero etiam salutem.


The Most Magnificent Works of Rome

Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 3.67.5 (tr. Earnest Cary):
Indeed, in my opinion the three most magnificent works of Rome, in which the greatness of her empire is best seen, are the aqueducts, the paved roads and the construction of the sewers.

ἔγωγ᾽ οὖν ἐν τρισὶ τοῖς μεγαλοπρεπεστάτοις κατασκευάσμασι τῆς Ῥώμης, ἐξ ὧν μάλιστα τὸ τῆς ἡγεμονίας ἐμφαίνεται μέγεθος, τάς τε τῶν ὑδάτων ἀγωγὰς τίθεμαι καὶ τὰς τῶν ὁδῶν στρώσεις καὶ τὰς τῶν ὑπονόμων ἐργασίας.

Thursday, February 23, 2023


Small Town

Plutarch, Life of Demosthenes 2.2 (tr. Bernadotte Perrin):
But as for me, I live in a small city, and I prefer to dwell there that it may not become smaller still...

ἡμεῖς δὲ μικρὰν οἰκοῦντες πόλιν, καὶ ἵνα μὴ μικροτέρα γένηται φιλοχωροῦντες...
I live in a town of fewer than 8,000 people, and it's still a bit too big for me.


The End

Justin, Epitome 9.3.11 (Battle of Chaeronea; tr. John Selby Watson):
This day put an end to the glorious sovereignty and ancient liberty of all Greece.

hic dies universae Graeciae et gloriam dominationis et vetustissimam libertatem finivit.


Settling Differences

Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 3.11.11 (tr. Earnest Cary):
For such contests as cannot be determined by arguments are decided by arms.

ὁπόσα γὰρ μὴ διαιρεῖται ὑπὸ λόγου, ταῦτα ὑπὸ τῶν ὅπλων κρίνεται.


Old Friends

Cicero, Letters to His Friends 9.1.2 (tr. W. Glynn Williams):
For you must know that since I came to the City, I have become reconciled with my old friends, in other words, with my books.

scito enim me, posteaquam in Urbem venerim, redisse cum veteribus amicis, id est cum libris nostris, in gratiam.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023



Caelius, letter to Cicero, in Cicero, Letters to His Friends 8.14.2 (tr. W. Glynn Williams):
I hate the opposite cause, but not the men who support it.

causam illam, non homines odi.

non Orelli: unde codd.: amo Pluygers: amo unde Madvig: non item Wesenberg


Brave Men

Demosthenes, On the Crown 208 (tr. Arthur Wallace Pickard-Cambridge):
But it cannot, it cannot be that you were wrong, men of Athens, when you took upon you the struggle for freedom and deliverance. No! by those who at Marathon bore the brunt of the peril—our forefathers. No! by those who at Plataeae drew up their battle-line, by those who at Salamis, by those who off Artemisium fought the fight at sea, by the many who lie in the sepulchres where the People laid them, brave men, all alike deemed worthy by their country, Aeschines, of the same honour and the same obsequies—not the successful or the victorious alone! And she acted justly. For all these have done that which it was the duty of brave men to do; but their fortune has been that which Heaven assigned to each.

ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ ἔστιν, οὐκ ἔστιν ὅπως ἡμάρτετε, ἄνδρες Ἀθηναῖοι, τὸν ὑπὲρ τῆς ἁπάντων ἐλευθερίας καὶ σωτηρίας κίνδυνον ἀράμενοι, μὰ τοὺς Μαραθῶνι προκινδυνεύσαντας τῶν προγόνων, καὶ τοὺς ἐν Πλαταιαῖς παραταξαμένους, καὶ τοὺς ἐν Σαλαμῖνι ναυμαχήσαντας καὶ τοὺς ἐπ᾽ Ἀρτεμισίῳ, καὶ πολλοὺς ἑτέρους τοὺς ἐν τοῖς δημοσίοις μνήμασι κειμένους ἀγαθοὺς ἄνδρας, οὓς ἅπαντας ὁμοίως ἡ πόλις τῆς αὐτῆς ἀξιώσασα τιμῆς ἔθαψεν, Αἰσχίνη, οὐχὶ τοὺς κατορθώσαντας αὐτῶν οὐδὲ τοὺς κρατήσαντας μόνους. δικαίως· ὃ μὲν γὰρ ἦν ἀνδρῶν ἀγαθῶν ἔργον, ἅπασι πέπρακται· τῇ τύχῃ δέ, ἣν ὁ δαίμων ἔνειμεν ἑκάστοις, ταύτῃ κέχρηνται.
Harvey Yunis ad loc.:

Tuesday, February 21, 2023


Loose Mortar

Michael Psellus, Chronographia 6.9 (1042; tr. E.R.A. Sewter):
Most men are convinced that the nations around us have made their sudden incursions against our borders, these wild unexpected inroads, for the first time in our day, but I myself hold a different view. I believe the house is doomed when the mortar that binds its bricks together becomes loose, and, although the start of the trouble passed unnoticed by the majority, there is no doubt that it developed and gathered strength from that first cause. In fact, the gathering of the clouds in those days presaged the mighty deluge we are suffering today.

τοῖς μὲν οὖν πολλοῖς, δοκεῖ νῦν πρῶτον τὰ πέριξ ἡμῶν ἔθνη ἐπὶ τὰ Ῥωμαίων κεχύσθαι ὅρια, ἀθρόον καὶ παρ’ ἐλπίδας ἐπεισκωμάσαντα. ἐμοὶ δὲ τότε τὸ δωμάτιον καταλέλυται, ὁπηνίκα καὶ οἱ περισφίγγοντες τοῦτο δεσμοὶ διαλύονται. εἰ δὲ οἱ πολλοὶ μὴ ᾐσθάνοντο τὴν ἀρχὴν τοῦ κακοῦ, ἀλλ’ ἐκεῖνό γε ἐκ τῆς πρώτης ἐκείνης ὑποθέσεως ἐπεφύετο καὶ συνίστατο καὶ ἡ τηνικαῦτα τῶν νεφῶν συνδρομὴ, τὸν μέγαν νῦν προκατεσκεύακεν ὑετόν.

δωμάτιον codd.: σωμάτιον Reinsch
Diether Roderich Reinsch ad loc.:
Das überlieferte δωμάτιον ist sinnlos, es handelt sich hier um die auch von Psellos oft verwendete Metapher vom Staatskörper, nicht von einem Staatszimmer. Es werden mehrere Stellen für die Junktur δεσμοὶ τοῦ σώματος angeführt. Vgl. dazu noch Chronogr. IV 51,3‒4 (sc. τὸ νόσημα) εἰς αὐτὴν τὴν λύσιν ἀπήντησεν τοῦ δεσμοῦ. Zur Verkleinerungsform σωμάτιον für den kranken, armen und geschundenen Körper vgl. die Belege bei LSJ.


Prayer to the Trinity

Homer, Iliad 4.285-289 (Agamemnon speaking; tr. A.T. Murray):
Ye Aiantes, leaders of the brazen-coated Argives, to you twain, for it beseemeth not to urge you, I give no charge; for of yourselves ye verily bid your people fight amain. I would, O father Zeus and Athene and Apollo, that such spirit as yours might be found in the breasts of all...

Αἴαντ᾽ Ἀργείων ἡγήτορε χαλκοχιτώνων,
σφῶϊ μέν — οὐ γὰρ ἔοικ᾽ ὀτρυνέμεν — οὔ τι κελεύω·
αὐτὼ γὰρ μάλα λαὸν ἀνώγετον ἶφι μάχεσθαι.
αἲ γὰρ Ζεῦ τε πάτερ καὶ Ἀθηναίη καὶ Ἄπολλον
τοῖος πᾶσιν θυμὸς ἐνὶ στήθεσσι γένοιτο...
I generally like Murray's translation, despite the archaic English, because it is so literal. Here, however, I was taken aback by "as yours". Agamemnon addresses the two Ajaxes in line 285, but then turns and addresses Zeus, Athena, and Apollo in line 288. I would have expected "as theirs" (i.e. "as the two Ajaxes") instead of "as yours". Apparently Murray regarded the address to the gods as purely parenthetical. William F. Wyatt kept "as yours" in his revision of Murray's translation. Neither "as yours" nor "as theirs" occurs in the Greek, of course, and I would just leave the phrase out when translating.

Monday, February 20, 2023


Corruption of the Body Politic

Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 3.10.4-5 (tr. Earnest Cary):
[4] Another argument — and do not take this as said by way of censure or reproach of you Romans, but only from necessity — is the fact that the Alban race has to this day continued the same that it was under the founders of the city, and one cannot point to any race of mankind, except the Greeks and Latins, to whom we have granted citizenship; whereas you have corrupted the purity of your body politic by admitting Tyrrhenians, Sabines, and some others who were homeless, vagabonds and barbarians, and that in great numbers too, so that the true-born element among you that went out from our midst is become small, or rather a tiny fraction, in comparison with those who have been brought in and are of alien race.

[5] And if we should yield the command to you, the base-born will rule over the true-born, barbarians over Greeks, and immigrants over the native-born. For you cannot even say this much for yourself, that you have not permitted this immigrant mob to gain any control of public affairs but that you native-born citizens are yourselves the rulers and councillors of the commonwealth. Why, even for your kings you choose outsiders, and the greatest part of your senate consists of these newcomers; and to none of these conditions can you assert that you submit willingly. For what man of superior rank willingly allows himself to be ruled by an inferior? It would be great folly and baseness, therefore, on our part to accept willingly those evils which you must own you submit to through necessity.

[4] δέξασθε δὲ αὐτὸ μὴ ὡς ἐπὶ διαβολῇ καὶ ὀνειδισμῷ τῷ ὑμετέρῳ λεγόμενον, ἀλλὰ τοῦ ἀναγκαίου ἕνεκα — ὅτι τὸ μὲν Ἀλβανῶν γένος οἷον ἦν ἐπὶ τῶν κτισάντων τὴν πόλιν, τοιοῦτον ἕως τῶν καθ' ἡμᾶς χρόνων διαμένει, καὶ οὐκ ἂν ἔχοι τις ἐπιδεῖξαι φῦλον ἀνθρώπων οὐδὲν ἔξω τοῦ Ἑλληνικοῦ τε καὶ τοῦ Λατίνων, ᾧ τῆς πολιτείας μεταδεδώκαμεν· ὑμεῖς δὲ τὴν ἀκρίβειαν τοῦ παρ' ἑαυτοῖς πολιτεύματος διεφθάρκατε Τυρρηνούς τε ὑποδεξάμενοι καὶ Σαβίνους καὶ ἄλλους τινὰς ἀνεστίους καὶ πλάνητας καὶ βαρβάρους πάνυ πολλούς, ὥστε ὀλίγον τὸ γνήσιον ὑμῶν ἐστιν ὅσον ἀφ' ἡμῶν ὡρμήθη, μᾶλλον δὲ πολλοστὸν τοῦ ἐπεισάκτου τε καὶ ἀλλοφύλου.

[5] εἰ δὲ ἡμεῖς παραχωρήσαιμεν ὑμῖν τῆς ἀρχῆς, τὸ νόθον ἄρξει τοῦ γνησίου καὶ τὸ βάρβαρον τοῦ Ἑλληνικοῦ καὶ τὸ ἐπείσακτον τοῦ αὐθιγενοῦς. οὐδὲ γὰρ ἂν τοῦτο ἔχοιτε εἰπεῖν, ὅτι τὸν μὲν ἔπηλυν ὄχλον οὐδενὸς εἰάκατε εἶναι τῶν κοινῶν κύριον, ἄρχετε δ' αὐτοὶ τῆς πόλεως καὶ βουλεύετε οἱ αὐθιγενεῖς· ἀλλὰ καὶ βασιλεῖς ἀποδείκνυτε ξένους, καὶ τῆς βουλῆς τὸ πλεῖστον ὑμῖν ἐστιν ἐκ τῶν ἐπηλύδων, ὧν οὐδὲν ἂν φήσαιτε ἑκόντες ὑπομένειν. τίς γὰρ ἑκουσίως ἄρχεται κρείττων ὑπὸ τοῦ χείρονος; πολλὴ δὴ μωρία καὶ κακότης, ἃ δι' ἀνάγκην φαίητ' ἂν ὑμεῖς ὑπομένειν, ταῦτα ἡμᾶς ἑκόντας δέχεσθαι.


A Refuge

Cicero, Letters to His Friends 7.20.2 (tr. W. Glynn Williams):
But it seems to me eminently desirable, especially in these days, to have somewhere to flee to,—in the first place, a city where the inhabitants are devoted to you, and secondly, a house of your own and on your own estate, and that in some secluded, salubrious, and beautiful spot...

sed inprimis opportunum videtur, his praesertim temporibus, habere perfugium, primum eorum urbem, quibus carus sis, deinde tuam domum tuosque agros; eaque remoto, salubri, amoeno loco...


Charity Toward Fellow-Blunderers

Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve, "Brief Mention," American Journal of Philology 26.4 (1905) 486-491 (at 490):
In the advertisement to the second edition of Lewis's Translation of Juvenal I read that 'George Long somewhere says that the greatest scholar in Europe will occasionally be guilty of mistakes, which a schoolboy will be able to point out'. This is a saying of great comfort to a primesautier nature such as mine is, and when I think of the additions I myself have made to what Flaubert calls 'Le dossier de la bêtise humaine' I overflow with charity toward all my fellow-blunderers.

Sunday, February 19, 2023


A German Saying

The motto of Joseph Wright, The English Dialect Dictionary (Oxford: Henry Frowde, 1905), is
Nur das Beispiel führt zum Licht;
vieles Reden thut es nicht.
The earliest example of the saying (perhaps its source) that I can find is at the beginning of Ernst Vertraugott Zehme (1786-1863), Leitfaden für Sprachschüler von 5 bis 10 Jahren, oder ABC der deutschen Sprache für Stadt- und Landschulen jeder Confession, 4. Aufl. (Bautzen: C.H. Schulze; Leipzig: P. G. Kummer, 1827):
Für das Auge und die Hand;
für das Ohr und den Verstand;
für die Zunge und den Geist;
für das Leben allermeist.

Siehe, welch ein schönes Ziel! —
Suche nicht der Regeln viel.
Nur das Beispiel führt zum Licht;
vieles Reden thut es nicht.
For the eye and the hand;
for the ear and the understanding;
for the tongue and the spirit;
for life most of all.

See, what a beautiful goal! —
Don't seek rules too much.
Only the example leads to the light;
Much talk does not do it.


The Need of a Teacher

Cicero, Letters to His Friends 7.19 (tr. W. Glynn Williams):
But if certain passages strike you as a little obscure, you should reflect that no art can be mastered by mere reading without someone to explain, or without a good deal of practice. You will not need to go far to find proof of that; can your own civil law be learnt from books alone? Though there is no lack of such books, they still require a teacher to elucidate them. And yet if you read this with concentration and over and over again, you will get all you want by yourself, at least so far as to grasp the meaning of it.

sin tibi quaedam videbuntur obscuriora, cogitare debebis nullam artem litteris sine interprete et sine aliqua exercitatione percipi posse. non longe abieris: num ius civile vestrum ex libris cognosci potest? qui quamquam plurimi sunt, doctorem tamen lumenque desiderant. quamquam tu si attente leges, si saepius, per te omnia consequere ut certe intelligas.

lumenque Manutius: unumque (-em G) Ω: usumque Egnatius: nonnumquam Lambinus



Xenophon, Hellenica 7.1.30 (tr. Carleton L. Brownson):
Let us hand on to those who come after us the fatherland as it was when we received it from our fathers.

ἀποδῶμεν τοῖς ἐπιγιγνομένοις τὴν πατρίδα οἵανπερ παρὰ τῶν πατέρων παρελάβομεν.

Saturday, February 18, 2023


Great Gain

Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve, "Brief Mention," American Journal of Philology 26.3 (1905) 358-362 (at 358-359):
[M]uch profit or, what is the same thing, much delight can be gained by communion with one or two authors, large-margined or interleaved for the reporting of observations or fancies. To this end a fresh copy is desirable so that previous notes may not interfere with the directness of vision. 'Musst immer thun wie neugeboren'—and this is the nearest approach an old scholar can make to Goethe's 'new birth' or Victor Hugo's remade maidenhood. The contemplation of such a work of art as a Pindaric ode or a Platonic dialogue, undisturbed by the impertinences of commentators or one's own previous fancies, is great gain.


Three Sorts of Damage

Victor Hugo, Notre-Dame de Paris, Book III, Chapter 1 (tr. Alban Krailsheimer):
Three sorts of damage can be distinguished on the ruins, and they all affect it at different depths: first is time, which has chipped it away imperceptibly here and there and left rust all over its surface; then political and religious revolutions which, blind and angry by their very nature, have hurled themselves upon it in tumult, rent its rich array of sculptures and carvings, smashed its rose-windows, broken its necklaces of arabesques and figurines, torn down its statues, sometimes for wearing a mitre, sometimes a crown; finally fashions, increasingly silly and absurd, which after the splendidly anarchic deviations of the Renaissance, have succeeded one another in the inevitable decline of architecture. Fashions have done more harm than revolutions. They have cut into the living flesh, attacked the bone-structure of the art underneath, they have hewn, hacked, dislocated, killed the building, in its form as in its symbolism, in its logic as in its beauty.

Friday, February 17, 2023


Country Speech

Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962), Country Notes (London: Michael Joseph Ltd, 1939), p. 24:
How much one regrets that local turns of speech should be passing away! There was a freshness and realism about them which kept the language alive and can never be replaced. Imported into prose they become fossilised and affected, for, accurately reported though they may be in those novels of rural life of which one grows so tired, the spontaneity and even the accent are lacking; imported into poetry, they instantly sound like the archaisms of a poetic convention. If I read the phrase, 'The cattle do be biding in the meads', it gives me no pleasure at all, but if a cowman says it to me (as he once actually did) it fills me with delight. I like also being informed that the rabbits are 'interrupting' or 'interfering with' the young trees; at least, I do not like the fact, but the way in which it is conveyed does much to mitigate my annoyance. I resent the mud less when I am told that the cows have 'properly slubbed it up'. Then sometimes comes a proverbial ring: 'He talks too much, talk and do never did lie down together.' I do not see where we are to find such refreshing imagery in future, unless, indeed, we look to America where the genius of the vivid phrase still seems to abide.


Gobbling Food Set Out for Hecate

Demosthenes 54.39 (tr. Norman W. DeWitt):
The contempt, however, which this fellow feels for all sacred things I must tell you about; for I have been forced to make inquiry. For I hear, then, men of the jury, that a certain Bacchius, who was condemned to death in your court, and Aristocrates, the man with the bad eyes, and certain others of the same stamp, and with them this man Conon, were intimates when they were youths, and bore the nickname Triballi; and that these men used to devour the food set out for Hecatê and to gather up on each occasion for their dinner with one another the testicles of the pigs which are offered for purification when the assembly convenes, and that they thought less of swearing and perjuring themselves than of anything else in the world.
Greek text and selected apparatus from the Oxford Classical Text edition of M.R. Dilts, Demosthenis Orationes, Vol. IV (Oxonii: E Typographeo Clarendoniano, 2009), p. 225:
τὴν δὲ τούτου πρὸς τὰ τοιαῦτ' ὀλιγωρίαν ἐγὼ πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐρῶ· πέπυσμαι γὰρ ἐξ ἀνάγκης. ἀκούω γάρ, ὦ ἄνδρες δικασταί, Βάκχιόν τέ τινα, ὃς παρ' ὑμῖν ἀπέθανε, καὶ Ἀριστοκράτην τὸν τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς διεφθαρμένον καὶ τοιούτους ἑτέρους καὶ Κόνωνα τουτονὶ ἑταίρους εἶναι μειράκι' ὄντας καὶ Τριβαλλοὺς ἐπωνυμίαν ἔχειν· τούτους τά τε Ἑκαταῖα κατεσθίειν, καὶ τοὺς ὄρχεις τοὺς ἐκ τῶν χοίρων, οἷς καθαίρουσιν ὅταν εἰσιέναι μέλλωσιν, συλλέγοντας ἑκάστοτε συνδειπνεῖν ἀλλήλοις, καὶ ῥᾷον ὀμνύναι καὶ ἐπιορκεῖν ἢ ὁτιοῦν.

κατεσθίειν A: del. Baiter: κατακαίειν SF: κατήσθιε Prol.: κλέπτειν Westermann
The passage is discussed, with one of his rare conjectures, by Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve, "Brief Mention," American Journal of Philology 26.2 (1905) 237-243 (at 241-242):
The scene of LIV is Aristophanic. We are consorting with ἰθύφαλλοι and αὐτολήκυθοι, and our feet are in the mire of the Athenian streets. Cf. Vesp. 259 with D. LIV 8. In § 39 we are told of the feats of the Τριβαλλοί, and their own language is used in the telling. We are told among other things how they 'devour' the Ἑκαταῖα. Cf. Ran. 366. This impious proceeding has many Biblical and even modern analogies, but what of the text? The best MSS have κατακαίειν, a corruption for which we find in inferior authorities κατεσθίειν, clearly a gloss on the original word, whatever that was, in spite of the ingenious system of permutations and combinations, by which Professor Sandys has elicited κατακαίειν from an original κατεσθίειν. Schaefer suggested κατακάπτειν, a word bonae notae, says he, which has not found its way into the dictionaries. καταπίνειν is not bad, but there is another word that is still nearer κατακαίειν, and that is καταπαίειν. Standing in the aforesaid mire, I hear the Acharnian say to his pigs in a poke, Ach. 834: ὦ χοιρίδια πειρῆσθε κἄνις τῶ πατρὸς παίειν ἐφ' ἁλὶ τὰν μᾶδδαν, αἴκα τις διδῷ. Here παίειν means ἐσθίειν (Hesych.), like κόπτειν, like σποδεῖν, like φλᾶν. See the commentators on Ar. Pax 1306. In the mouth of these precious Mohocks of antiquity, καταπαίειν might well have been used for κατεσθίειν. καταπαίειν is to κατεσθίειν as 'gobble' to 'devour'. The change from π to κ is very slight, and will remind every good American of the change of 'c' to 'g' in the show-bill of the Franco-American bar, where 'sherry cobblers' appear as 'sherry gobblers'.
Gildersleeve's Biblical analogy must be 1 Samuel 21:1-6 (cf. Matthew 12:4), where David ate the shewbread.

I don't have access to R. Drew Griffith, "Prairie Oysters and Perjured Roisterers: Demosthenes 54.39," Mnemosyne 74.4 (2021) 677-681.


The Illusion of Progress

Harold Farnsworth Gray (1885-1963), "Sewerage in Ancient and Mediaeval Times," Sewage Works Journal 12.5 (September, 1940) 939-946 (at 939):
We frequently hear people speak of "modern sanitation" as if it were something rather recently developed, and there appears to be a prevalent idea that municipal sewerage is a very modern thing that began some time about the middle of the last century. Perhaps these ideas do something to bolster up a somewhat wobbly pride in modern civilization (concerning the inherent values of which some have their doubts), but when examined in the light of history these ideas are seen to be far from new or even recent. Indeed, in the light of history it is a matter of astonishment, if not chagrin, that man in this respect has progressed so very little, if at all, in some four thousand years.
Id. (at 940, date added by me):
Practically every house in Mohenjo-daro [ca. 2500 B.C.] had its bathroom, always placed on the street side of the building for the convenient disposal of waste water into the street drains. Where latrines have been found in the houses, they were placed on the street wall for the same reason. Ablution places were set immediately adjacent to the latrines, thus con forming to one of the most modern of sanitary maxims. Where baths and latrines were located on the upper floor, they were drained usually by vertical terra-cotta pipes with closely fitting spigot joints, set in the building wall.

These ancient terra-cotta pipes, still sound after nearly five thousand years, are the precursor of our modern vitrified clay spigot-and-socket sewer pipe, and are an excellent guarantee of the durability of this material.
Id. (at 942):
Particularly in the Middle Minoan Period, dated about 1900-1700 B.C., elaborate systems of well-built stone drains were constructed, which carried sewage, roof water and general drainage. The main drain transported these wastes a considerable distance beyond the palace, but we do not know the method of their final disposal.

Each quarter or section of the palace had its own subsidiary drain age system connected to the main drain. These systems had vertical shafts of ample size which acted both as roof drains and as ventilation ducts, the latter in much the same manner as do the soil stacks in our modern houses. The frequent and torrential rains in Crete would result in excellent flushing of the entire drainage system.

Such sanitary arrangements were not particular to the palace at Knossus, but seem to have been an essential part of all Cretan building. A. Mosso, in describing the ruins of the villa of Hagia Triada, makes the following statement :
One day, after a heavy downpour of rain, I was interested to find that all the drains acted perfectly, and I saw the water flow from sewers through which a man could walk upright. I doubt if there is any other instance of a drainage system acting after 4,000 years.
Perhaps we also may be permitted to doubt whether our modern sewerage systems will still be functioning after even one thousand years.
Id. (at 945-946):
The Englishmen of the last century finally did succeed in divorcing themselves from immediate juxtaposition with their own excrement and the stench thereof, thereby at long last catching up in part with the Minoans of nearly 4000 years previously, but they for a while merely exchanged one problem for another. As early as 1842 the Poor Law Commissioners advised against the discharge of sewage direct into streams which were used for water supply. London, of course, had simply removed its excrement from accumulation of reeking filth in and about the houses, and transferred the entire mess into the Thames River, within the city limits. Nothing was done about it until 1855, when at the end of a disastrous epidemic of Asiatic cholera (that great blessing of man because it has literally terrified him out of his sanitary apathy and into sanitary improvements), the Nuisance Removal Act was passed, prohibiting gross river pollution. But, in spite of the cholera, for quite a while the interference of gross pollution with the industrial and agricultural uses of water was given more attention than the menace to health. In passing it might be mentioned that London was still to suffer two more great epidemics of cholera, in 1866 and again in 1872, showing how slow human progress was even in the face of the most urgent compulsion.

London, of course, reaped the reward of its bungling attempts to clean up the city by dumping sewage into the river. The years of 1858-59 were the years of the great stink in London. This was vividly described by Dr. William Budd as follows :
For the first time in the history of man, the sewage of nearly three millions of people had been brought to seethe and ferment under a burning sun, in one vast open cloaca lying in their midst. The result we all know. Stench so foul, we may well believe, had never before ascended to pollute this lower air. Never before, at least, had a stink risen to the height of an historic event. Even ancient fable failed to furnish figures adequate to convey a conception of its thrice Augean foulness. For many weeks, the atmosphere of Parliamentary Committee-rooms was only rendered barely tolerable by the suspension before every window, of blinds saturated with chloride of lime, and by the lavish use of this and other disinfectants. More than once, in spite of similar precautions, the law courts were suddenly broken up by an insupportable invasion of the noxious vapor. The river steamers lost their accustomed traffic, and travellers, pressed for time, often made a circuit of many miles rather than cross one of the city bridges.

For months together, the topic almost monopolized the public prints. Day after day, week after week, the "Times" teemed with letters, filled with complaint, prophetic of calamity, or suggesting remedies. Here and there, a more than commonly passionate appeal showed how intensely the evil was felt by those who were condemned to dwell on the Stygian banks. At home and abroad, the state of the chief river was felt to be a national reproach. "India is in revolt, and the Thames stinks," were the two great facts coupled together by a distinguished foreign writer, to mark the climax of a national humiliation.
And this nearly four thousand years after the prehistoric Cretans! How we did progress!

Thursday, February 16, 2023


Worthy of Admiration

Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 2.23.5 (tr. Earnest Cary):
...I have greatly admired these men for adhering to the customs of their ancestors...

...πάνυ ἠγάσθην τῶν ἀνδρῶν ὅτι διαμένουσιν ἐν τοῖς πατρίοις ἔθεσιν...


The Classic Historians

Ronald Syme, "How Gibbon Came to History," in his Roman Papers, III (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), pp. 969-976 (at 971):
The classic historians almost conform to a pattern: the man of mature years, after a political life, turning to the writing of history, often as a continuation of that life, and indeed, some of them having been condemned to leave their own country. Observe of the classic Greek historians what exile did for Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, and Polybius. Can each or all of them be properly conceived without the hard lessons of exile?

As for the Romans, Sallust turns to history after the failure of a political career. Tacitus, on the contrary, had been highly successful, but he adopts an attitude of estrangement—not indeed that he was estranged from contemporary society, I fancy. Both Sallust and Tacitus are commonly described as pessimistic historians. Yet, had these men been really pessimistic, they would have given themselves over to drink or dissipation, they would have sought the consolations of religion or philosophy. Instead, they find that there is some work to be done: that is to say, the writing of history.



Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962), Country Notes (London: Michael Joseph Itd, 1939), p. 31:
There are few things to compare with the tranquillity of even a small piece of water at any hour out of the twenty-four, whether at dawn, midday, sunset, or midnight; spring, summer, autumn, or winter; few things so well adapted to repair the cracked heart, the jangled temper, or the uneasy soul.


Leg Irons

Figure of a crouching African boy (Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, accession number 01.8210):
I can't find any extended discussion of this statuette, but maybe I'm looking in the wrong places, or I don't have access to the right books. It appears as figure 42 in Frank M. Snowden Jr., Blacks in Antiquity: Ethiopians in the Greco-Roman Experience (1970; rpt. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1971).

The anklets are usually understood to be constraints, not decorations. On leg irons see Frederic D. Allen, "On 'Os Columnatum' (Plaut. M.G. 211) and Ancient Instruments of Confinement," Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 7 (1896) 37-64 (at 41, references are to plays of Plautus, unless otherwise indicated):
Catenae is a general term, but it ordinarily implies some sort of shackles, to which the chains can be attached. Among the catenae singulariae (Capt. 112) with which Hegio's two prisoners are bound and which allow them some liberty of motion (sinito ambulare, v. 114) is a collare (v. 357), and in Menaech. 84 f. compedes are included in the term catenae. Compedes are very often mentioned. They are shackles for the leg (crura, Capt. 652; suram, Pseud. 1176) of iron (ferreas, Pers. 573), put on by a smith (Capt. 733, 1027) and worn constantly (Cist. 244), so that they shine through friction (rediget in splendorem compedes, Aul. 602). It is possible to move about and work in them (Capt. 723 f., 736, 944), but their weight (ten pounds, Liv. XXXII, 26; fifteen pounds, XII Tables) effectually prevents escape. They consist (Menaech. 85 f.) of a ring (anus) fastened with a rivet (clauos), and putting them on is called impingere (Capt. 733, Pers. 269, 573). They clank as one walks (tintinnabant compedes, Naevius v. 114 R. = Fest. p. 364 M.), which shows that they are connected by a chain. Those who wear them are tintinnaculi viri (Truc. 782).

Wednesday, February 15, 2023



Ronald Syme, "History and Language at Rome," in his Roman Papers, III (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), pp. 953-961 (at 960):
In his ordering of the Commonwealth Augustus appealed to Republican past. No Roman could have acted otherwise. Not only were all new things detested, and tradition worshipped. Archaism, ever a highly respectable tendency, acquired new strength in the years of change—for archaism too was an escape and a reaction from the present. Words normally avoided by Cicero, such as 'tempestas' and 'proles' return to prose usage.33 The latter is especially significant in the light of the demographic policy of the Princeps; he once read to the Senate the speech of the censor Metellus 'de prole augenda'.34 The poet takes to calling himself a 'vates' ;35 and 'priscus' becomes popular—Livy describes with affection the earliest history of Rome as 'prisca illa'.36 Above all, the venerable word 'augustus', a felicitous revival.37

33 Cf. Cicero, De oratore 3, 154. For 'tempestas', Livy i 18, 1. On 'proles' note the observation of Norden, P. Vergilius Maro, Aeneis Buch VI3 (1934), 321.
34 Suetonius, Divus Aug. 89, 5.
35 In Epodes xvi 66, the word means 'prophet'. But cf. Odes i 31, 2; iv 6, 44; 9, 28.
36 Livy, Praef. 5: 'dum prisca illa tota mente repeto'.
37 The word had a religious atmosphere, and it suggested Romulus' founding of Rome, 'augusto augurio' (Ennius, quoted by Varro, RR iii 1, 2).
Eduard Norden on Vergil, Aeneid 6.784:
Bei proles fühlte der romische Leser altertümlich-feierlich und grade in der Zeit des Augustus hatte das uralte (schon von Cicero de orat. 3,154 als tot bezeichnete, von Caesar gar nicht und von Livius nur in der ersten Dekade gebrauchte) Wort einen besonders guten Klang: z.B. Hor. carm. 4, 5, 23 laudantur simili prole puerperae von dem goldnen Zeitalter unter Augustus, ähnlich 4, 15, 27. Wenn man bedenkt, dass die Bestrebungen des Augustus de augenda prole anfingen, als Vergil mit der Aeneis begann, und durch eine lex Iulia ihren Abschluss fanden, als er sie beendete, wird man das Pathos der Worte nachfühlen.


Sacked for Bad Spelling

Suetonius, Life of Augustus 88 (tr. Catharine Edwards; brackets in original):
He did not particularly observe orthography, that is the practice and rule of spelling as taught by the grammarians, and seems rather to have followed the guidance of those who advise writing words as they are spoken. As for his changing or leaving out not just letters but even syllables, that is a mistake people often make. I would not myself have pointed it out except that, to my surprise, others have reported that he appointed a replacement for a provincial governor who was an ex-consul on the grounds that he was an uncouth and ignorant fellow, for he had noticed that the man wrote ixi for ipsi ['themselves'].

orthographiam, id est formulam rationemque scribendi a grammaticis institutam, non adeo custodit ac videtur eorum potius sequi opinionem, qui perinde scribendum ac loquamur existiment. nam quod saepe non litteras modo sed syllabas aut permutat aut praeterit, communis hominum error est. nec ego id notarem, nisi mihi mirum videretur tradidisse aliquos, legato eum consulari successorem dedisse ut rudi et indocto, cuius manu "ixi" pro "ipsi" scriptum animadverterit.
Related post: Spelling.


A Long Story

Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 2.6.4 (tr. Earnest Cary):
But to tell about the contempt of the divine power that prevails among some people in these days would be a long story.

ἀλλ' ὑπὲρ μὲν τῆς εἰς τὸ δαιμόνιον ὀλιγωρίας, ᾗ χρῶνταί τινες ἐν τοῖς καθ' ἡμᾶς χρόνοις, πολὺ ἔργον ἂν εἴη λέγειν.


Love of Nature

Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962), Country Notes (London: Michael Joseph Ltd, 1939), p. 70:
I sometimes think that the love of nature and the natural seasonal life may attain the proportions of a vice; may obsess one to the extent of desiring nothing else, nothing beyond: a drowning, a lethargy, an escape, an indolence and an evasion.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023


Conservatism in Vocabulary?

Georgios P. Antoniou and Andreas N. Angelakis, "Latrines and Wastewater Sanitation Technologies in Ancient Greece," in Piers D. Mitchell, ed., Sanitation, Latrines and Intestinal Parasites in Past Populations (Burlington: Ashgate, 2015), pp. 41-67 (at 45):
It is interesting to note that many of the terms used for defecation in ancient Greek are still in use in the modern Greek language.21

21 Angelakis et al. 2005.
This seems to be a reference to A.N. Angelakis et al., "Urban wastewater and stormwater technologies in ancient Greece," Water Research 39 (2005) 210–220, but I don't see any mention of "terms used for defecation" in that article.

On Latin words for defecation and excrement and their survival in modern languages see J.N. Adams, The Latin Sexual Vocabulary (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982), pp. 231-244.

Attic red-figure kylix attributed to the Ambrosios Painter (Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, inv. no. RES.08.31b):




Ronald Syme, "History or Biography: the Case of Tiberius Caesar," in his Roman Papers, III (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), pp. 937-952 (at 937):
Biography offers an attractive approach to history, or a substitute. When the ancient world is put under contribution, the operation might seem easy enough. The facts are accessible without undue effort, having been sifted and digested by generations of scholars. Familiar characters and periods thus tend to engross attention. Scarcely a year now passes without its biographies of Caesar or of Cicero, some of them good in their fashion, others perhaps not highly valued even by their authors. By contrast, wide fields await exploitation in Late Antiquity. There is a sore need for lives of Athanasius or of Jerome not written by clerics of any persuasion.


Bonds of Friendship

Cicero, Letters to His Friends 5.15.2 (tr. D. R. Shackleton Bailey):
Old acquaintance, affection, habit, community of pursuits—what tie, pray, is wanting to our attachment?

vetustas, amor, consuetudo, studia paria—quod vinclum, quaeso, deest nostrae coniunctioni?

quaeso deest Rost: quas (a ex o, ut vid., M1) idest M: quasi est GR
coniunctioni Cratander: coniunctionis Ω


The Status Quo

Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 2.4.1 (tr. Earnest Cary):
We have no need of a new form of government and we are not going to change the one which our ancestors approved of as the best and handed down to us. In this we show both a deference for the judgment of our elders, whose superior wisdom we recognize in establishing it, and our own satisfaction with our present condition.

ἡμεῖς πολιτείας μὲν καινῆς οὐδὲν δεόμεθα, τὴν δ' ὑπὸ τῶν πατέρων δοκιμασθεῖσαν εἶναι κρατίστην παραλαβόντες οὐ μετατιθέμεθα γνώμῃ τε ἑπόμενοι τῶν παλαιοτέρων, οὺς ἀπὸ μείζονος οἰόμεθα φρονήσεως αὐτὴν καταστήσασθαι, καὶ τύχῃ ἀρεσκόμενοι.

Monday, February 13, 2023


Presidential Reading

Theodore Roosevelt, letter to Nicholas Murray Butler (November 4, 1903):
You remember speaking to me about reading and especially about the kind of books one ought to read. On my way back from Oyster Bay on Election day I tried to jot down the books I have been reading for the past two years, and they run as follows.


Parts of Herodotus; the first and seventh books of Thucydides; all of Polybius; a little of Plutarch; Aeschylus' Orestean Trilogy; Sophocles' Seven against Thebes; Euripides' Hippolytus and Bacchae; and Aristophanes' Frogs. Parts of the Politics of Aristotle; (all of these were in translation); Ridgeway's Early Age of Greece; Wheeler's Life of Alexander; some six volumes of Mahaffy's Studies of the Greek World — of which I only read chapters here and there...
The list goes on and on. Of course Sophocles didn't write Seven Against Thebes (Aeschylus did), but nevertheless the list is impressive.


No Harmless Drudge

Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve, "Brief Mention," American Journal of Philology 26.2 (1905) 237-243 (at 237):
A good index, certainly an exhaustive index, insures the compiler, if not immortality, at least a life as long as that of the study indexed, and as every scholar wishes to be remembered, it is strange that more indexes are not forthcoming. The path of the index-maker is not a primrose path, but it leads to the goal more surely than many more ambitious ascents. No 'harmless drudge' is the index-maker, but rather the begetter of many doctoral dissertations and the saviour of many a doctorand.
By index here Gildersleeve means an index verborum such as Frank Louis Van Cleef, Index Antiphonteus (Boston: Ginn & Company, 1895).

See also F.R.D. Goodyear, The Annals of Tacitus. Books 1-6 Edited with Commentary, Vol. 1: Annals 1.1–54 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972), p. 15, n. 1:
There is much in Gerber-Greef with which one may disagree. Naturally so, for it is a scholarly work and full of controversial opinions. I esteem it the more every time I look at the wretched computerized products which now masquerade as lexica and concordances.
I wonder if Goodyear had in mind David Packard's Concordance to Livy.


Pedantic Obsession with Words

Ronald Syme, "Lawyers in Government: the Case of Ulpian," in his Roman Papers, III (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), pp. 863-868 (at 868):
Roman law was a kind of theology, equipped with dogmas and heresies, rituals and casuistry. Rigorous study of texts and the achieving of the perfect formulation call for discipline and a subtle mind; and the pedantic obsession with words may be a symptom of the desire to prevail and dominate.



Pliny the Elder, Natural History 7.13.59-60 (tr. Mary Beagon):
(59) Q. Metellus Macedonicus, who left six children, also left eleven grandchildren and, including his daughters and sons-in-law, a total of twenty-seven people in all who addressed him as 'father'. (60) In the public records dating from the time of the deified Augustus, when he was consul for the twelfth time with L. Sulla as colleague, it is stated that, on 9 April, C. Crispinus Hilarus, a freeborn man of plebeian status from Faesulae, offered a sacrifice on the Capitol accompanied by his eight children, including two daughters, together with twenty-seven grandsons, eighteen great-grandsons, and eight granddaughters, in a procession which outshone all others.

(59) Q. Metellus Macedonicus, cum sex liberos relinqueret, XI nepotes reliquit, nurus vero generosque et omnes, qui se patris appellatione salutarent, XXVII. (60) in actis temporum Divi Augusti invenitur duodecimo consulatu eius L.que Sulla collega a. d. III. idus Aprilis C. Crispinum Hilarum ex ingenua plebe Faesulana cum liberis VIII, in quo numero filiae duae fuere, nepotibus XXVII, pronepotibus XVIII, neptibus VIII, praelata pompa tum omnibus, in Capitolio immolasse.

Crispinum rv: Crispinium EaD
Martin P. Nilsson, Imperial Rome, tr. G.C. Richards (London: G. Bell and Sons, Ltd., 1926), p. 333 (on C. Crispinus Hilarus):
The man was plainly a marvel for the age, but his name is suggestive of a Greek freedman.
His name appears as C. Crispinius Hilarus in Prosopographia Imperii Romani Saec. I. II. III, number 1584.

Sunday, February 12, 2023


The School of Poverty

Quintus Curtius 3.2.15 (tr John C. Rolfe):
And do not suppose that they are led by a desire for gold and silver; so far they have maintained that discipline in the school of poverty; when they are wearied, the earth is their bed, such food as they can snatch amid toil satisfies them, their time for sleep is shorter than the night.

ac ne auri argentique studio teneri putes, adhuc illa disciplina paupertate magistra stetit: fatigatis humus cubile est, cibus, quem occupati rapiunt, satiat, tempora somni artiora quam noctis sunt.

rapiunt Hedicke: parant codd.
Related post: Train Up a Child.


The Mere Office Man

Theodore Roosevelt, letter to Hermann Speck von Sternberg (July 19, 1902):
Of course I think that there is danger that the mere office man — the mere drudge who does not take part in rough game and rough play outside — will become a wretched routine creature, adept only in the pedantry of his profession and apt to come to an unexpected disaster.



Xenophon, Hellenica 6.4.23 (tr. Carleton L. Brownson):
Besides, it seems that the deity often takes pleasure in making the small great and the great small.

καὶ ὁ θεὸς δέ, ὡς ἔοικε, πολλάκις χαίρει τοὺς μὲν μικροὺς μεγάλους ποιῶν, τοὺς δὲ μεγάλους μικρούς.
Related post: Powerful and Rich, Lowly and Hungry.


The Continuance of Every Language

Samuel Johnson, letter to William Drummond (Augusr 13, 1766):
Every man's opinion, at least his desires, are a little influenced by his favourite studies. My zeal for languages may seem, perhaps, rather over-heated, even to those by whom I desire to be well esteemed. To those who have nothing in their thoughts but trade or policy, present power, or present money, I should not think it necessary to defend my opinions; but with men of letters I would not unwillingly compound, by wishing the continuance of every language, however narrow in its extent, or however incommodious for common purposes, till it is reposited in some version of a known book, that it may be always hereafter examined and compared with other languages, and then permitting its disuse. For this purpose, the translation of the Bible is most to be desired.

Saturday, February 11, 2023


No Greater Misfortune

Demosthenes, fragment 21 (tr. Alberto J. Quiroga Puertas):
There would be no greater misfortune for free men than to lose their freedom of speech.

οὐδὲν ἂν εἴη τοῖς ἐλευθέροις μεῖζον ἀτύχημα τοῦ στέρεσθαι τῆς παρρησίας.



Persius 5.13 (tr. Susanna Morton Braund):
Nor do you strain to burst your swollen cheeks with a pop!

nec scloppo tumidas intendis rumpere buccas.
Scloppus is "The sound made in striking something full of air," according to the Oxford Latin Dictionary, which cites only this passage.

Commentum Cornuti (Clausen and Zetzel p. 112):
stloppo dixit metaphoricos a ludentibus pueris qui buccas inflatas subito aperiunt et totum simul flatum cum sonitu fundunt.
Stloppus also occurs in Priscian, Institutiones Grammaticae 1.57 (ed. Martin Hertz in Heinrich Keil, Grammatici Latini, vol. II, p. 43).

Cf. Neo-Latin sclopetum = firearm, gun.


A Good Morning Exercise

Konrad Lorenz (1903-1989), On Aggression, tr. Marjorie Kerr Wilson (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1966), p. 12:
It is a good morning exercise for a research scientist to discard a pet hypothesis every day before breakfast. It keeps him young.
Id., p. 16:
When the "exact" scientist can count or measure something, he experiences a pleasure which, to the outsider, is hard to understand.

Friday, February 10, 2023


Civil Wars

Cicero, Letters to His Friends 4.9.3 (tr. W. Glynn Williams):
All is misery in civil wars; our ancestors never even once had that experience; our generation has already had it several times; but nothing is more miserable than victory itself; for though it falls to the better men, it nevertheless makes those very men more arrogant and less self-controlled, so that even if they are not so by nature, they are compelled to be so by necessity. For there are many things a victor is obliged to do even against his will at the caprice of those who helped him to victory.

omnia sunt misera in bellis civilibus, quae maiores nostri ne semel quidem, nostra aetas saepe iam sensit; sed miserius nihil, quam ipsa victoria, quae etiamsi ad meliores venit, tamen eos ipsos ferociores impotentioresque reddit; ut, etiamsi natura tales non sint, necessitate esse cogantur. multa enim victori eorum arbitrio, per quos vicit, etiam invito, facienda sunt.



Michael Psellus, Chronographia 5.27-29 (1042; tr. E.R.A. Sewter):
27. Every man was armed; one clasped in his hands an axe, another brandished a heavy iron broadsword, another handled a bow, and another a spear, but the bulk of the mob, with some of the biggest stones in the folds of their clothing and holding others ready in their hands, ran in general disorder. I myself was standing at the time in front of the palace entrance. For a long time I had been acting as secretary to the emperor and had recently been initiated into the ceremonies of Entry to the Imperial Presence. I was in the outer porch dictating some of the more confidential dispatches, when suddenly there assailed our ears a hubbub like the sound of horses' hooves and the hearts of most of us trembled at the sound. Then there came a messenger with the news that all the people were roused against the emperor; they were gathered in one body; they must be marching under one common standard, with one single purpose. To most of the others it seemed a senseless revolt, but I, knowing from what I had seen before, and from what I had heard, that the spark had flared up into a fire, and that it needed many rivers and a fast-flowing current to put it out, straightway mounted my horse and going through the midst of the city saw with my own eyes the sight which now I can hardly believe.

28. It was as if the whole multitude were sharing in some superhuman inspiration. They seemed changed persons. There was more madness in their running, more strength in their hands, the flash in their eyes was fiery and impassioned, the muscles of their bodies more powerful. As for prevailing on them to behave in a more dignified manner or dissuading them from their intentions, nobody whatever was willing to try such a thing. Anyone who gave advice of that sort was impotent.

29. It was decided first to attack the emperor's family and tear down their proud and luxurious mansions. With this object they advanced to the general assault, and all was razed to the ground. Of the buildings some were covered over, others were left open to the sky; roofs falling to the ground were covered with débris, foundations thrust up in ruins from the earth were stripped, as if the soil were throwing off its burden and hurling away the floors. It was not the hands of strong men in the prime of youth that pulled down the most of it, but young girls and children of either sex lent aid in the work of destruction. Every building fell straightway at the first onslaught and the destroyers carried away what had been smashed or pulled down, with utter indifference.


God Knows

Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 1.56.5 (tr. Earnest Cary):
Which of these accounts is the true one the gods only know.

ὁποτέρως δὲ τἀληθὲς ἔχει θεοῖς ἂν εἴη γνώριμον.


Pro Patria Mori

Xenophon, Hellenica 6.4.15 (Spartans after the Battle of Leuctra; tr. Carleton L. Brownson):
And on the following day one could see those whose relatives had been killed going about in public with bright and cheerful faces, while of those whose relatives had been reported as living you would have seen but few, and these few walking about gloomy and downcast.

τῇ δ' ὑστεραίᾳ ἦν ὁρᾶν, ὧν μὲν ἐτέθνασαν οἱ προσήκοντες, λιπαροὺς καὶ φαιδροὺς ἐν τῷ φανερῷ ἀναστρεφομένους, ὧν δὲ ζῶντες ἠγγελμένοι ἦσαν, ὀλίγους ἂν εἶδες, τούτους δὲ σκυθρωποὺς καὶ ταπεινοὺς περιιόντας.

Wednesday, February 08, 2023


The Best Country

Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 1.36.3 (tr. Earnest Cary):
I account that country the best which is the most self-sufficient and generally stands least in need of imported commodities.

ἥτις (sc. γῆ) ἂν εἴη πολυαρκεστάτη τε καὶ τῶν ἐπεισάκτων ἀγαθῶν ἐπὶ τὸ πολὺ ἐλάχιστον δεομένη, ταύτην κρατίστην εἶναι λογίζομαι.


Enlightening the World

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), "Earth's Holocaust," Mosses from an Old Manse (Boston: Houghlin Mifflin Company, 1882), pp. 430-456 (at 445):
"See! see! What heaps of books and pamphlets!" cried a fellow, who did not seem to be a lover of literature. "Now we shall have a glorious blaze!"

"That's just the thing!" said a modern philosopher. "Now we shall get rid of the weight of dead men's thought, which has hitherto pressed so heavily on the living intellect that it has been incompetent to any effectual self-exertion. Well done, my lads! Into the fire with them! Now you are enlightening the world indeed!"


Too Many Old Books

Ronald Blythe, Akenfield: Portrait of an English Village (New York: Pantheon, 1969), p. 284 (William Russ, gravedigger, speaking):
Well, of course, as everybody knows, all that family, particularly the daughters, were over-educated. They were old maids. They weren't cranky because they hadn't had a man but because they'd had too many old books. Their brains were strained.


At Home

Cicero, Letters to His Friends 4.7.4 (tr. W. Glynn Williams):
For my own part, I would sooner be at home and in my own country, even if it meant my facing death, than in any strange and foreign land.

equidem, etiamsi oppetenda mors esset, domi atque in patria mallem, quam in externis atque alienis locis.


Crop Protection

Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 44-859, an inscription from Sidi Kaddou, Tunisia (2nd/3rd century AD), tr. Roy Kotansky, Greek Magical Amulets, Part I (Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1994), p. 53:
(Magic signs) Oreobazagra Oreob[azagra] Abrasax Machar Semeseilam Stenachta Lorsachthē Koriauchē Adōnaie, sovereign (4) gods, hinder, turn aside from this property and from what is growing on it — in the vineyards, the olive-groves, in the seeding places — hail over the produce, grain-rust, fury (8) of Typhonian winds, a swarm of harmful locust, so that none of these pernicious things touch this field nor any of the produce in it; (12) but guard them altogether unharmed and uncorrupt, as long as these stones engraved with your sacred names (16) are here lying about the land.
Greek text from Kotansky, p. 52:
(Magic signs) Ορεοβαζαγρα, Ορεοβ[αζαγρα],
Αβρασαξ μαχαρ Σεμεσειλαμ στεναχτ[α],
λορσαχθη κοριαυχη Ἀδωναῖε, κύρ[ιοι]
θεοί, κωλύσατε, ἀποστρέψατε ἀπὸ τοῦ[δε]        4
χωρίου καὶ τῶν ἐν αὐτῷ γεννωμένω[ν]
— ἐν ἀμπέλοις, ἐλαιῶσιν, σπορητοῖς τόπ[οις] —
καρπῶν χάλαζαν, ἐρυσείβην, ὀργὴ[ν]
τυφώνων ἀνέμων, κακοποιῶν        8
ἀκρίδων ἑσμόν, ἵνα μηδὲν τῶν λ[υ]-
μαιωτικῶν τῶνδε ἅψηται τοῦ-
δε τοῦ χωρίου καὶ τῶν ἐν αὐτῷ [κ]α[ρ]-
πῶν πάντων· ἀσινεῖς δὲ αὐτοὺ[ς] καὶ ἀ-        12
φθόρους πάντοτε συντηρήσατε,
ἕως ἂν οἵδε λίθοι γεγραμ-
μένοι τοῖς ἱροῖς ὑμῶν ὀνόμα-
σιν ὑπὸ γῇ πέριξ κείμενοι        16
The stone:
See Francisco Javier Fernández Nieto, "A Visigothic Charm from Asturias and the Classical Tradition of Phylacteries Against Hail," in Richard L. Gordon and Francisco Marco Simón, edd., Magical Practice in the Latin West: Papers from the International Conference held at the University of Zaragoza, 30 Sept. - 1st Oct. 2005 (Leiden: Brill, 2010), pp. 551-599 (at 561-562).

Tuesday, February 07, 2023


New and Old, Fresh and Stale

Charles Péguy (1873-1914), Notes on Bergson and Descartes, tr. Bruce K. Ward (Eugene: Cascade Books, 2019), p. 35:
Homer is original this morning, and nothing is perhaps so old as today's newspaper.

Homère est nouveau ce matin, et rien n'est peut-être aussi vieux que le journal d'aujourd-hui.


Good Enough for Your Forefathers

Ronald Blythe, Akenfield: Portrait of an English Village (New York: Pantheon, 1969), pp. 285-286 (William Russ, gravedigger, speaking):
Every parson you come into contact with will have different ways about death. You can't keep 'em in order, you know, these damned parsons! They'll all think different if they can. They'll either cut things out of the Burial Service or stuff things in. It's no use giving the mourners a book so they can follow what is going on. Now old Canon Watson, he'd give you the Service, no more and no less. But the majority of parsons use the 1928 version—which, I agree, is much more cheerful. There’s nothing in it like that bit of Job where it talks about the skin worms destroying the body, for instance. Nor that bit about corruption from Corinthians. They say these things are morbid. Well they are morbid. It is what people need when they are staring down at the grave-dirt.

It's the same with the Litany. I said to the old Bishop, 'How often could you walk into a church now and hear the Litany read? Or the Athanasian Creed—and that should be said at least three times a year!' 'Ho! ho!' says he, 'it's all out of date.' I said, 'What was good enough for your forefathers should be good enough for you.' 'Ho! ho!' he says.

The clergy don't stick to religion as we knew it. They do things that are forbidden. They are pulling the Bible to pieces. Altering, altering. . . .I said to the Bishop, 'What do you think of parsons, my lord?' He said, 'What do you?' I said, 'Well they don't preach hellfire. They used to, why don't they now?' He said, 'What, are you blaming the parsons?' 'Certainly,' I said. 'All these parsons preach is the love of God. But they leave out the wrath. What is the use of love without wrath? Tell me that,' I said, 'You are told what will happen to you if you obey His will, so it is only fair that you should know what will happen to you if you don't.' People aren't frightened any more, that is the trouble. If they had to do my work they would know that life is a frightening business.


Ogres and Pygmies

Robert Graves (1895-1985), "Ogres and Pygmies," in his Collected Poems (London: Cassell, 1965), pp. 107-108:
Those famous men of old, the Ogres—
They had long beards and stinking arm-pits,
They were wide-mouthed, long-yarded and great-bellied
Yet not of taller stature, Sirs, than you.
They lived on Ogre-Strand, which was no place
But the churl's terror of their vast extent,
Where every foot was three-and-thirty inches
And every penny bought a whole hog.
Now of their company none survive, not one,
The times being, thank God, unfavourable
To all but nightmare shadows of their fame;
Their images stand howling on the hill
(The winds enforced against those wide mouths),
Whose granite haunches country-folk salute
With May Day kisses, and whose knobbed knees.

So many feats they did to admiration:
With their enormous throats they sang louder
Than ten cathedral choirs, with their grand yards
Stormed the most rare and obstinate maidenheads,
With their strong-gutted and capacious bellies
Digested stones and glass like ostriches.
They dug great pits and heaped great mounds,
Deflected rivers, wrestled with the bear
And hammered judgments for posterity—
For the sweet-cupid-lipped and tassel-yarded
Delicate-stomached dwellers
In Pygmy Alley, where with brooding on them
A foot is shrunk to seven inches
And twelve-pence will not buy a spare rib.

And who would judge between Ogres and Pygmies—
The thundering text, the snivelling commentary—
Reading between such covers he will marvel
How his own members bloat and shrink again.

Monday, February 06, 2023


Lectio Difficilior

Gospel According to Mark 1:40-42 (tr. Richmond Lattimore):
[40] A leper came to him and entreated him, saying: If you wish, you can make me clean. [41] He took pity on him, and stretched out his hand and touched him, saying: I wish it; be clean. [42] And at once the leprosy went from him, and he was made clean.

[40] καὶ ἔρχεται πρὸς αὐτὸν λεπρὸς παρακαλῶν αὐτὸν [καὶ γονυπετῶν] καὶ λέγων αὐτῷ ὅτι ἐὰν θέλῃς δύνασαί με καθαρίσαι. [41] καὶ σπλαγχνισθεὶς ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ ἥψατο καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· θέλω, καθαρίσθητι· [42] καὶ εὐθὺς ἀπῆλθεν ἀπ' αὐτοῦ ἡ λέπρα, καὶ ἐκαθαρίσθη.

41 σπλαγχνισθεὶς: ὀργισθεὶς
D: iratus a ff2 r1*
Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Stuttgart: United Bible Societies, 1975), pp. 76-77 (on Mark 1:41):
It is difficult to come to a firm decision concerning the original text. On the one hand, it is easy to see why ὀργισθείς ("being angry") would have prompted over-scrupulous copyists to alter it to σπλαγχνισθείς ("being filled with compassion"), but not easy to account for the opposite change. On the other hand, a majority of the Committee was impressed by the following considerations. (1) The character of the external evidence in support of ὀργισθείς is less impressive than the diversity and character of evidence that supports σπλαγχνισθείς. (2) At least two other passages in Mark, which represent Jesus as angry (3.5) or indignant (10.14), have not prompted over-scrupulous copyists to make corrections. (3) It is possible that the reading ὀργισθείς either (a) was suggested by ἐμβριμησάμενος of ver. 43, or (b) arose from confusion between similar words in Aramaic (compare Syriac ethraḥam, "he had pity," with ethra‘em, "he was enraged").2

2 Although Ephraem in his Commentary on Tatian’s Diatessaron shows knowledge of the reading ὀργισθείς, all Syriac versions (syrx,p,h,pa1; Curetonian hiat) combine in support of σπλαγχνισθείς.
Robert A. Guelich, Mark 1:1-8:26 (Dallas: Word Books, Publisher, ©1989 = Word Biblical Commentary, 34a), pp. 71-72, adopts the reading ὀργισθεὶς and translates:
40 And a leper came appealing to Jesus and kneeling said, "If you want, you can make me clean." 41 Being angered, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him and said, "I do. Be clean." 42 And immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.
See e.g.


Home Protection

Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 27-648:
Inscription on an "oscillum". P. Orlandini, KOKALOS 14 - 15 (1968 - 1969) 330 - 331 (ph.). Cf. now C. Gallavotti, HELIKON 17 (1977) 123 - 125, who studies the rhythmical structure of this inscription and compares it with other similar texts. The inscription runs as follows:

Ἡρακλῆς ἔν-
θα κατοικεῖ·
μὴ ᾿σίτω μη-
θὲν κακόν

Cf. L. Robert, Hellenica XIII, 265 ff.
I don't have access to Robert's Hellenica or the other articles cited, but see Christopher A. Faraone, "Stopping Evil, Pain, Anger, and Blood: The Ancient Greek Tradition of Protective Iambic Incantations," Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 49 (2009) 227–255 (at 228-234), who prints the inscription as follows (p. 230):
Ἡρακλῆς ἐν-
θά<δε> κατοικεῖ·
μὴ ’σίτω μη-
θὲν κακόν.
Illustration of the amulet:
Simplified Greek with my translation:
Ἡρακλῆς ἐνθάδε κατοικεῖ·
μὴ ’σίτω μηθὲν κακόν.

Heracles dwells here;
let nothing evil enter.
Related post: A House Charm.


A Law of Nature

Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 1.5.2 (tr. Earnest Cary):
By an universal law of Nature, which time cannot destroy, it is ordained that superiors shall ever govern their inferiors.

φύσεως γὰρ δὴ νόμος ἅπασι κοινός, ὃν οὐδεὶς καταλύσει χρόνος, ἄρχειν ἀεὶ τῶν ἡττόνων τοὺς κρείττονας.

Sunday, February 05, 2023


Last Words

Ronald Blythe, Akenfield: Portrait of an English Village (New York: Pantheon, 1969), p. 222 (Marjorie Jope, retired district nurse, speaking):
People think of me as the person who is present at the beginning of their lives but in most cases I have been present at the end of them too. I used to stay up one night or several nights when they were passing. Some talked of God, but very, very few. Even the people who had been brought up in chapel or church rarely talked of God as they died. It is a fact. What can you make of it? I was with them as they passed. Not much talk of God at the last.



Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 1.89.4 (tr. Earnest Cary):
For many others by living among barbarians have in a short time forgotten all their Greek heritage, so that they neither speak the Greek language nor observe the customs of the Greeks nor acknowledge the same gods nor have the same equitable laws (by which most of all the spirit of the Greeks differs from that of the barbarians) nor agree with them in anything else whatever that relates to the ordinary intercourse of life. Those Achaeans who are settled near the Euxine sea are a sufficient proof of my contention; for, though originally Eleans, of a nation the most Greek of any, they are now the most savage of all barbarians.

ἐπεὶ ἄλλοι γε συχνοὶ ἐν βαρβάροις οἰκοῦντες ὀλίγου χρόνου διελθόντος ἅπαν τὸ Ἑλληνικὸν ἀπέμαθον, ὡς μήτε φωνὴν Ἑλλάδα φθέγγεσθαι, μήτε ἐπιτηδεύμασιν Ελλήνων χρῆσθαι, μήτε θεοὺς τοὺς αὐτοὺς νομίζειν, μήτε νόμους τοὺς ἐπιεικεῖς, ᾧ μάλιστα διαλλάσσει φύσις Ἑλλὰς βαρβάρου, μήτε τῶν ἄλλων συμβολαίων μηδ' ὁτιοῦν. ἀποχρῶσι δὲ τὸν λόγον τόνδε ὡς ἀληθῆ εἶναι Ἀχαιῶν οἱ περὶ τὸν Πόντον ᾠκημένοι τεκμηριῶσαι, Ἠλείων μὲν ἐκ τοῦ Ἑλληνικωτάτου γενόμενοι, βαρβάρων δὲ συμπάντων τῶν νῦν ὄντες ἀγριώτατοι.

There is no entry for Earnest Cary in Ward W. Briggs, Jr., ed., Biographical Dictionary of North American Classicists (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1994) or in the Database of Classical Scholars. See Harvard College, Class of 1900, Secretary's Eleventh Report: 1950 (Cambridge: Privately Printed for the Class by the Crimson Printing Company, [1950]), pp. 117-118:

Born February 25, 1879, in Beemer, Nebraska. Parents: James Richardson Cary and Mary Ann (Matthews) Cary. Prepared at Neligh High School and Gates Academy, Neligh, Nebraska. Degrees: A.B., 1900; A.M., 1901; Ph.D., 1903; A.B., (Gates College), 1898. Occupation: translator. Address: 5 Hancock St., Boston, Massachusetts.

From the A.B. degree I went right on to an A.M. in 1901 and a Ph.D. (in Classics) in 1903. There followed a year of study and travel in Europe, thanks to a traveling fellowship. Then, instead of taking up teaching at once, I spent a couple of years as private assistant to Prof. John Williams White of the Greek department at Harvard, an occupation so congenial that I renewed the relationship for another two years a decade later. As by-products of my work with him I published three short monographs dealing with the manuscripts of Aristophanes.

In my career as a teacher of Greek and Latin I played the part of the proverbial rolling stone. Beginning with Harvard and Radcliffe, I then wandered to Smith, Princeton, Trinity and Dartmouth in turn, and finally, for the climax, back to Harvard once more. For a number of years now I have been on the retired list, devoting myself chiefly to the translation of Dionysius.

I have contributed 16 volumes to the Loeb Classical Library, a joint enterprise of English and American Classical scholars offering an improved text and parallel-page translation of all the important Greek and Roman authors now extant. I have been responsible in this series for two histories of Rome by ancient Greek authors, that of Dio Cassius (in 9 vols., 1914-17), and that of Dionysius of Halicarnassus (in 7 vols., 1937-50). The series is published jointly by William Heinemann, London, and the Harvard University Press.
The topic of his Harvard Ph.D. dissertation was De Aristophanis Avium apud Suidam reliquiis.

An Earnest Cary died in Waltham, Massachusetts, in 1959, probably the same person, but I can't be certain.

Here is a list of his articles and reviews (completeness aimed at but not guaranteed):


Friends or Enemies?

Xenophon, Hellenica 6.3.5 (tr. Carleton L. Brownson):
I see that you do not think one way and we another, but that you as well as we are distressed over the destruction of Plataea and Thespiae. How, then, is it not fitting that men who hold the same views should be friends of one another rather than enemies? Again, it is certainly the part of wise men not to undertake war even if they should have differences, if they be slight; but if, in fact, we should actually find ourselves in complete agreement, should we not be astounding fools not to make peace?

ὁρῶ γὰρ οὐκ ἄλλα μὲν ὑμῖν, ἄλλα δὲ ἡμῖν δοκοῦντα, ἀλλ' ὑμᾶς τε ἀχθομένους καὶ ἡμᾶς τῇ Πλαταιῶν καὶ Θεσπιῶν ἀναιρέσει. πῶς οὖν οὐκ εἰκὸς τὰ αὐτὰ γιγνώσκοντας φίλους μᾶλλον ἀλλήλοις ἢ πολεμίους εἶναι; καὶ σωφρόνων μὲν δήπου ἐστὶ μηδὲ εἰ μικρὰ τὰ διαφέροντα εἴη πόλεμον ἀναιρεῖσθαι· εἰ δὲ δὴ καὶ ὁμογνωμονοῖμεν, οὐκ ἂν πάνυ τῶν θαυμαστῶν εἴη μὴ εἰρήνην ποιεῖσθαι;

Saturday, February 04, 2023


Semper Ubi Sub Ubi

It's strange what lurks in the brain cells. Someone once asked me what the Latin word for cuttlefish was, and I answered sepia without hesitation. A recent blog post by Roger Pearse, "The fragrant underwear of St Nicholas," suggests that linteamina in a medieval legend (BHL 6168) means underwear. But subligaculum is the word that popped into my mind.

According to Leah Shopkow, "Mooning the Abbot: A Tale of Disorder, Vulgarity, Ethnicity, and Underwear in the Monastery," in Craig M. Nakashian and Daniel P. Franke, edd., Prowess, Piety, and Public Order in Medieval Society: Studies in Honor of Richard W. Kaeuper (Leiden: Brill, 2017), pp. 179-198 (at 185):
Medieval Latin had many words for different sorts of underwear, most derived from the classical past, but often with changed meanings.20 The more common Latin word for drawers was femoralia, or sometimes feminalia (both forms appear in the Vulgate). Texts also used bracae, sometimes written braccae or bracchia, which is etymologically linked through a common Indo-European root to the archaic modern word "breeches" or "britches." Isidore of Seville in the Etymologies offered both terms, when he discusses the garments of the priest.21

20 On monastic underwear generally, see Simon Tugwell, "Caligae and Other Items of Medieval Religious Dress: A Lexical Study," Romance Philology 61 (Spring 2007): 1–23.

21 Isidore of Seville, Etymologiae, PL 82:684. This is quoted by Hrabanus Maurus in his De universe, PL 11:568. On the etymology of breeches, see "breech, n.". OED Online. March 2014. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/23009?rskey=mrQzVu&result=1&isAdvanced=false (accessed March 20, 2014).


The Consolation of Philosophy

Cicero, Letters to His Friends 4.4.4 (tr. W. Glynn Williams):
For though every department of liberal erudition, and philosophy most of all, has been my delight from my earliest manhood, yet this prepossession of mine grows upon me day by day, partly, I suppose, because my age is ripening for the reception of wisdom, partly because the times are evil, so that there is nothing else that can ease my mind of its annoyances.

nam etsi a prima aetate me omnis ars et doctrina liberalis, et maxime philosophia delectavit, tamen hoc studium quotidie ingravescit, credo et aetatis maturitate ad prudentiam, et his temporum vitiis, ut nulla res alia levare animum molestiis possit.


A Necessary Function Which Stinks

Ronald Blythe, Akenfield: Portrait of an English Village (New York: Pantheon, 1969), pp. 160-161 (Hugh Hambling speaking):
I talk to people whenever I can. I am very unguarded. You've only to put a few pennies into some chaps and you get some wonderfully unexpected talk. But it has to be the right moment. In Suffolk you won't get a thing back if you choose the wrong moment. They won't talk politics in the pub. Their attitude is puritan in such matters. Politics to them is a kind of necessary function which stinks. They stare straight back into Wilson's eyes on the pub telly with that hard blue gaze of theirs, and God knows what they are thinking!

Friday, February 03, 2023


Live a Little

Shakespeare, As You Like It 2.6.5:
Live a little, comfort a little, cheer thyself a little.


The Boast of Glaukos

Homer, Iliad 6.211 (tr. Peter Green):
This is the bloodstock, the lineage I'm proud to claim as mine.

ταύτης τοι γενεῆς τε καὶ αἵματος εὔχομαι εἶναι.
It's also the boast of Aeneas (20.241).


The New Puritans

Craig Simpson, "James Joyce's Ulysses issued with trigger warning after it is deemed 'offensive' to modern students," Telegraph (February 2, 2023):
Outraged censors banned Ulysses in 1922, and a century later academics fear the novel may be too shocking for modern students, as James Joyce's work has been issued with a trigger warning for being potentially "offensive". The 800-page story of an ordinary man’s day in Dublin is taught on a dedicated module at the University of Glasgow, where staff now alert students to possibly upsetting "language and attitudes" in the writer's work.

Joyce's writing contains "explicit" references "to sexual matters", according to a trigger warning seen by the Telegraph states, highlighting the same issue which led Britain to ban his work 100 years ago.


Prof Frank Furedi, an education expert at the University of Kent, said: "The trigger warning brigade demonstrates that the impulse to censor is alive and well. The spirit of the old-school censors who banned Ulysses in 1922 lives on.

"It was only a matter of time before the grievance archeologists dug up something to feel traumatised about in Joyce's great work.

"The trigger hunters could not possibly give the author of Ulysses a free pass. For the record, if you find Joyce triggering you better confine your reading to the London phone directory."
Hat tip: A friend whose father, aunts, grandparents, and great-grandparents were graduates of the University of Glasgow, and who remarks:
Shame on them all. Just what sort of mollycoddled craters do they envisage might benefit from such warnings...? I really do despair. We're surrounded by rank crass cretins. Who in their right minds in the universities isn't fed up to their eye-teeth with academic self-flagellating cant about race and gender? The said University spokesman needs a trigger warning of his own, or perhaps just both barrels will do without warning. Deal with the herald first and the rest later. And as for the students, if they are offended by Ulysses or anything else in English Literature, they should really switch to Business Studies or just bugger off and work as shop assistants and social workers.
A gloss on my friend's remarks: crater = Scots for critter, creature.

I've never read Joyce's Ulysses, but perhaps now I will, in keeping with my policy of reading as many books on the modern Index Librorum Prohibitorum as I can.

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