Thursday, August 31, 2023
Commerce with the Ancients
I know not how it is, but their commerce with the ancients appears to me to produce, in those who constantly practise it, a steadying and composing effect upon their judgment, not of literary works only, but of men and events in general. They are like persons who have had a very weighty and impressive experience; they are more truly than others under the empire of facts, and more independent of the language current among those with whom they live.
For hateful, withering old age is pickling us.ταριχεύει also means embalm, preserve.
τὸ γὰρ ἀπεχθόμενον γῆρας ἁμὲ μαραῖνον ταριχεύει.
Praise of Philology
Spiritual experience is poured into a complex śāstric text, and to understand it we must turn primarily to textual tools or, to use a word perhaps no longer very popular in the contemporary American academy, to philology. Years ago, invited to deliver an Infinity Lecture at the University of Hawaii, I received a warning from my host, Prof. Arindam Chakrabarti, about not being too philological in my exposition (“You must understand, we are in a Philosophy Department”). The next day I started my lecture with a praise of philology, understood in the highest sense as a discipline that, by using paleographic, linguistic, historical, and hermeneutic tools, aims at establishing and understanding a text, (re-)placing it within its contemporary cultural parameters. As a rhetorical device to counteract the common identification of philology with something very boring, old, dusty, ugly, etc., I asked the audience whether they had ever seen the so-called Primavera (Spring) by Botticelli. Well, recent studies have shown that that beautiful and sensual young girl surrounded by flowers in the center of the painting in actual fact represents Philologia—the whole scene coming from Martianus Capella’s De Nuptiis Mercurii and Philologiae, a work very highly praised at the court of Lorenzo il Magnifico. In it, we meet Apollo giving advice to his brother Mercury, tired at last of his bachelor status: “Leave Goddesses aside and marry Philologia instead; she is human, agreed, but among humans she is the closest to the stars.”Id. (at 707):
I am well aware that making emendations and corrections to manuscripts is a widespread practice nowadays, perhaps even too widespread. Our ancestors aptly called the highest case of textual criticism divinatio. However, the question is “Can everybody afford divinationes?” Behind any bold emendation lies the unspoken belief: “If I cannot understand a passage, it is because the passage is corrupt.” A very risky statement, indeed . . . I remember one of my students, many years ago, whose translation into Italian of the Spandapradīpikā by Bhāgavata Utpala contained an impressive amount of corrections to the edited text: whenever he did not understand the text (which happened frequently due to his being a rather poor Sanskritist) he corrected the not-always-easy text to adapt it to his imperfect understanding. Unflinching self-consciousness and self-criticism—in other words a precise awareness of his limits—would be of substantial help to the emendor by making him at least more cautious in his job.
Too Late to Dig a Well
I saw https://laudatortemporisacti.blogspot.com/2023/08/too-late.html (digging a well after you're thirsty) and was reminded of a similar proverb in Sanskrit that imagines something even more absurd: when a house is burning down, it's too late to dig a well. :-)
A poem/epigram by Bhartṛhari uses this idea in its last line. As translated by Ryder (fairly close, with the added title being a connection made by him):IN THE DAYS OF THY YOUTHyāvat svastham idaṃ śarīram arujaṃ yāvac ca dūre jarā
While life is vigorous and bright,
While sickness comes not, nor decay,
While all your powers are at their height,
While yet old age is far away,
Then, wise man, let your thoughts be turning
To heaven's hopes and fears of hell;
For when the house is fired and burning,
It is too late to dig a well.
yāvac cendriya-śaktir apratihatā yāvat kṣayo nāyuṣaḥ |
ātma-śreyasi tāvad eva viduṣā kāryaḥ prayatno mahān
sandīpte bhavane tu kūpa-khananaṃ pratyudyamaḥ kīdṛśaḥ ||
Some more translations here: https://shreevatsa.net/bhartrhari/web/K194.html
Wednesday, August 30, 2023
He felt a hand on his arm. Ferdy O'Donnell.
"Would you like me to walk a bit of the way with you, Owen?"
"And why should you wish to do that?" MacCarthy asked, drawing his arm free. "I know the way. We will construe Virgil these long summer evenings, Ferdy. I am a very fine scholar."
"I know that, Owen."
"You are not. You have that low, seminary Latin. You will never see how meaning curls and curves through a line. Still, we must do our best for you. Better than nothing, Ferdy. Better than nothing."
"Much better," O'Donnell said, standing with him at the open door.
"You did not quarrel with those fellows, did you?"
"Which of them deserves to quarrel with me? They are a low lot, Ferdy, a low lot. You must hold yourself apart from that lot, now mind that. Remember Virgil. That lot in there, Virgil wouldn't have given them the sweat off his balls."
Oh, it's an awful business—waiting till thirst has you by the throat before you dig your well!See Robert H. Brophy, "'Digging a Well after You Are Thirsty': A Plautine and Chinese Proverb," Classical World 72.7 (April-May, 1979) 421-422.
miserum est opus
igitur demum fodere puteum, ubi sitis faucis tenet.
Tuesday, August 29, 2023
Cause for Dislike
The most eminent of his pupils was Benjamin Disraeli, who, though never in the highest form, read a considerable amount of Latin and Greek while at the school.3 If his knowledge of the languages was somewhat superficial, this was to be ascribed to his character rather than to Cogan's teaching. 'I don't like Disraeli,' said Cogan, 'I could never get him to understand the subjunctive.'
3 Monypenny, Life of Disraeli, I, p. 24 f.
Blessings of Peace
Oh! joy, joy! no more helmet, no more cheese nor onions!3 No, I have no passion for battles; what I love is to drink with good comrades in the corner by the fire when good dry wood, cut in the height of the summer, is crackling; it is to cook pease on the coals and beechnuts among the embers, it is to kiss our pretty Thracian4 while my wife is at the bath.
3 This was the soldier's usual ration when on duty.
4 Slaves often bore the name of the country of their birth.
ἥδομαί γ᾽ ἥδομαι
τυροῦ τε καὶ κρομμύων.
οὐ γὰρ φιληδῶ μάχαις, 1130
ἀλλὰ πρὸς πῦρ διέλκων μετ᾿ ἀνδρῶν ἑταίρῶν φίλων,
ἐκκέας τῶν ξύλων ἅττ᾿ ἂν ᾖ δανότατα τοῦ θέρους
κἀνθρακίζων τοὐρεβίνθου τήν τε φηγὸν ἐμπυρεύων,
χἄμα τὴν Θρᾷτταν κυνῶν
τῆς γυναικὸς λουμένης.
Monday, August 28, 2023
The Pantyhose Hen
John [Dillon] had played a decisive role in securing a joint appointment for me in classics as well as in history. We would meet in his house on Euclid Street to discuss the cosmos of later Platonism. It was an all-embracing system that emanated, with benign inevitability, from the Wholly One—the pantelôs hen. (John's wife, Jean, would always refer irreverently to this Supreme Being, who plainly occupied a large space in the minds of John and his philosophical friends, as "the Pantyhose Hen.")
Love of Truth
I love the truth, I want to be told the truth; I hate a liar.
ego verum amo, verum volo dici mi: mendacem odi.
Sunday, August 27, 2023
It would not have been entirely unprecedented for the senate to authorise a candidate to stand for the consulship in absentia, and Caesar requested this exemption for himself . But Cato talked out the whole of the last day on which the matter could be discussed, so that no permission was given. Perhaps he invented the institution of the filibuster: certainly he slammed the door upon all hopes of the Republic and Caesar ever again co-operating in harmony.
The story goes that when Ronald Knox was six years old, he was walking on the beach one day with his seven-year-old brother, Wilfred. Gazing out upon the briny deep, Wilfred felt a philological stirring in his soul. He turned to Ronald and wondered aloud, “Ronnie, do you consider that Xenophon’s men cried ‘θάλαττα’ [thalatta, Attic dialect form for “sea”] or ‘θάλασσα’ [thalassa, non-Athenian form]?” Young Ronnie replied, in impeccably r-less English: “The latter.”In my native accent, I pronounce "the latter" quite like "tha latta."
True story? No, probably not, but it’s at least ben trovato for the boy who would grow up to be dubbed “the wittiest young man in England.”
He recounts, for example, that one of the best days of his life was one “on which, in a space of nine hours, I succeeded in reading the Republic from cover to cover”—in Greek!
Nothing That Is Not Zeus
Do not be left behind in the house, maiden;a
you have lately seen terrible deaths,
and many sufferings unprecedented,
and none of these things is not Zeus.
a These words are addressed to the leader of the Chorus.
λείπου μηδὲ σύ, παρθέν᾽, ἐπ᾽ οἴκων,
μεγάλους μὲν ἰδοῦσα νέους θανάτους,
πολλὰ δὲ πήματα καὶ καινοπαθῆ,
κοὐδὲν τούτων ὅ τι μὴ Ζεύς.
Friday, August 25, 2023
The Difference of Races
"Scotland is a better country than England," said an ugly, blear-eyed lad, about a head and shoulders taller than myself, the leader of a gang of varlets who surrounded me in the play-ground, on the first day, as soon as the morning lesson was over. "Scotland is a far better country than England, in every respect."
"Is it?" said I. "Then you ought to be very thankful for not having been born in England."
"That's just what I am, ye loon; and every morning, when I say my prayers, I thank God for not being an Englishman. The Scotch are a much better and braver people than the English."
"It may be so," said I, "for what I know—indeed, till I came here, I never heard a word either about the Scotch or their country."
"Are ye making fun of us, ye English puppy?" said the blear-eyed lad; "take that!" and I was presently beaten black and blue. And thus did I first become aware of the difference of races and their antipathy to each other.
Thursday, August 24, 2023
As something essentially classical, Hellenistic civilization was the opposite of those revolutionary, innovating cultures that are propelled forward by a great creative drive. It rested essentially upon the peaceful possession of an already acquired capital. It is a mistake to say, as is often said by its detractors, that it "was born with its head back to front," looking back to the past. It is not autumnal, tormented with nostalgic regrets for a vanished spring. On the contrary, it looks upon itself as firmly established in an unchanging present, in the full blaze of a hot summer sun. It knows what mighty reserves it possesses, what past masters it has. The fact that these appeared at a certain moment of time, under the influence of certain historical forces, is unimportant; what matters is that they exist and can be re-discovered in the same way, again and again, by each successive generation, can be recognized and admired and imitated. A classical culture can be defined as a unified collection of great masterpieces existing as the recognized basis of its scale of values.
Wednesday, August 23, 2023
Not Too Old
How is this? You take me for a regular old Death's-head, eh?Id. 640-641:
So I seem to be such coffin contents, eh, to be living such a very long life, do I?
See here, my lad, I'm not over fifty-four,
and I'm still keen-sighted, quick-handed, and nimble-footed.
quid ais tu? itane tibi ego videor oppido Accherunticus?
tam capularis? tamne tibi diu videor vitam vivere?
nam equidem hau sum annos natus praeter quinquaginta et quattuor,
clare oculis video, pernix sum pedibus, manibus mobilis. 630
Now I, I still have some fervour and freshness in my carcass,Georg Luck (1926-2013), "The Role of Periplecomenus in the Miles Gloriosus:A Case of «Plautinisches im Plautus»?" Euphrosyne 20 (1992) 295-298 (at 296, with a few misprints corrected by me):
I'm not yet dried up for all that charms and ravishes.
et ego amoris aliquantum habeo umorisque etiam in corpore 640
necdum exarui ex amoenis rebus et voluptariis.
The whole passage (616-766) is quite remarkable. It has been called, among other things, a «full-scale Clubman's manifesto»5, and attempts have been made to connect it with a «gross type of Epicureanism»6. At the beginning of Act III, Palaestrio, Periplecomenus and Pleusicles are on the stage, but it is definitely Periplecomenus who dominates the scene, and the audience finds out a good deal about him. He is fifty-four, and his hair is white, but he is still full of vigour, and he understands the younger generation, because he remembers the time when he was young and in love. In fact, there is still some «love and juice» in him,et ego amoris aliquantum habeo umorisque etiam in corpore (639-40).Clearly, here is a man who enjoys the pleasures of life, an agreeable table-companion, good-natured, well-behaved, amusing. After all, he is an Ephesian, not an Apulian. He has gracious manners, dances well, is, above all, a loyal friend, hospitable and generous. He is also quite happy to live as a bachelor.
Without my going into more details, it has become clear, I think, that we have here the portrait of an accomplished Hellenistic bonvivant, the very opposite of the uncouth Soldier. In a way, this is a compendium of certain type of urbanitas. Leo (quoted in the commentary of Brix-Niemeyer-Köhler, Teubner, 1916, p. 88) called it appropriately «ein Stück neuattischen Lebens, innerlich einheitlich und aus einem Gusse». We might even go further and label the whole passage an outline of a Hellenistic «Gesellschaftsideal», valid in Athens as well as in Ephesus or Rome.
It would be tempting to interpret this text line by line and show its roots in a popularizing blend of Peripatetic and Epicurean ethics. But this is not the point of my paper7.
5 In her [Elaine Fantham's] review of Lothar Schaaf's book (see below), Gnomon 53, 1981, 195.
6 See below.
7 The reader who wishes to pursue this will find more material in the publications listed below: The commentary of A.O.F. Lorenz, Berlin, 1869, esp. on vv. 636-7; 638-41; 675; F. Ranke, Periplecomenus, Diss. Phil. Marburg, 1900, 65-88. (This is a useful compilation of material. The author had studied with Leo and Wilamowitz, but his main adviser was Theodor Birt); P.R. Coleman-Norton, «Philosophical Aspects of Early Roman Drama», Classical Philology 31, 1936, 331 and n. 28; C.F. Saylor, «Periplectomenus and the Organisation of the Miles Gloriosus», Eranos 75, 1977, 1-13; Elaine Fantham, «Philemon's Thesauros as a Dramatisation of Peripatetic Ethics», Hermes 105, 1977, 406-21.
Tuesday, August 22, 2023
Modern Expressions in Translations of Ancient Works
... "gender-fluid" (4.301) is perhaps too redolent of contemporary jargon for ambiguus ...Equally jarring (to my ears at least) is "green berets" in Jeffrey Henderson's translation of Aristophanes, Frogs 1013-1017 (Aeschylus speaking, he = Euripides):
Then just consider what they were like when he took them over from me, noble six-footers and not the civic shirkers, vulgarians, imps, and criminals they are now, but men with an aura of spears, lances, white-crested helmets, green berets, greaves, and seven-ply oxhide hearts.Both τρυφαλείας and πήληκας are Homeric words for helmets. Casques might be suitably archaic for πήληκας.
σκέψαι τοίνυν οἵους αὐτοὺς παρ᾿ ἐμοῦ παρεδέξατο πρῶτον,
εἰ γενναίους καὶ τετραπήχεις, καὶ μὴ διαδρασιπολίτας,
μηδ᾿ ἀγοραίους μηδὲ κοβάλους, ὥσπερ νῦν, μηδὲ πανούργους, 1015
ἀλλὰ πνέοντας δόρυ καὶ λόγχας καὶ λευκολόφους τρυφαλείας
καὶ πήληκας καὶ κνημῖδας καὶ θυμοὺς ἑπταβοείους.
Monday, August 21, 2023
Repentance is for idiots. Nothing has worth besideThe same, tr. Kate Freiligrath-Kroeker:
enduring still when dying with wrath and sword and pride.
Die Reue ist der Narren! Nur das ist Atmens wert,
Im Tod noch auszuharren beim Groll, beim Stolz, beim Schwert.
Fools but repent their actions! he is but worthy of breath,
Who, sword in hand, hot hate in heart, firmly endures till death.
But of all the occupations by which gain is secured, none is better than agriculture, none more profitable, none more delightful, none more becoming to a freeman.Andrew R. Dyck ad loc.:
omnium autem rerum, ex quibus aliquid acquiritur, nihil est agri cultura melius, nihil uberius, nihil dulcius, nihil homine libero dignius.
This is the traditional Roman attitude, reflected in Cato's response recorded at 2.89 (cf. ad loc.), as well as at Colum. 1 praef. 10 (after considering the claims of warfare, overseas commerce, moneylending, etc.: quae si et ipsa et eorum similia bonis fugienda sunt, superest, ut dixi, unum genus liberale et ingenuum rei familiaris augendae, quod ex agricolatione contingit). But some Greek authors held similar views; cf. X. Oec. 5.17: καλῶς δὲ κἀκεῖνος εἶπεν ὃς ἔφη τὴν γεωργίαν τῶν ἄλλων τεχνῶν μητέρα καὶ τροφὸν εἶναι; Muson. 57.6: ἔστι καὶ ἕτερος πόρος οὐδὲν τούτου κακίων, τάχα δὲ καὶ ἀμείνων νομισθεὶς ἂν οὐκ ἀλόγως ἀνδρί γ' εὐρώστῳ τὸ σῶμα , ὁ ἀπὸ γῆς . . . This attitude led inter alia to the creation of the latifundia (on which cf. Shatzman, 36-37). Contrast Seneca's condemnation of excessive land-purchases at Ep. 89.20; cf. Griffin, 1976, 298. In calling agriculture and hunting servilia officia (Cat. 4.1) Sallust no doubt meant to be provocative; cf. Stockton, 7, n. 6; A. Cossarini, "II prestigio dell' agricoltura in Sallustio e Cicerone," Atti dell' Istitutο Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, Classe di scienze morali, lettere ed arti, 138 (1979-80), 355-64.
The injured man's cure for pain is his enemy's pain.Id, 313:
laeso doloris remedium inimici est dolor.
It's a pleasant stain that comes from an enemy's blood.
iucunda macula est ex inimici sanguine.
Sunday, August 20, 2023
They Are Numerous
Depart then, Aischylos, farewell!The same, tr. Gilbert Murray:
Your task is now to preserve our city
With good ideas. And educate
The stupid folk—no shortage of them!
ἄγε δὴ χαίρων Αἰσχύλε χώρει,
καὶ σῷζε πόλιν τὴν ἡμετέραν
γνώμαις ἀγαθαῖς καὶ παίδευσον
τοὺς ἀνοήτους· πολλοὶ δ᾽ εἰσίν.
1501 ἡμετέραν codd.: ὑμετέραν Scaliger
Then farewell, Aeschylus! Go your ways,
And save your town for happier days
By counsel wise; and a school prepare
For all the fools—there are plenty there!
The Gods of the Hearth
The gods of the hearth exist for us still; and let all new faith be tolerant of that fetishism, lest it bruise its own roots.
Saturday, August 19, 2023
The Study of History
What chiefly makes the study of history wholesome and profitable is this, that you behold the lessons of every kind of experience set forth as on a conspicuous monument; from these you may choose for yourself and for your own state what to imitate, from these mark for avoidance what is shameful in the conception and shameful in the result.
hoc illud est praecipue in cognitione rerum salubre ac frugiferum, omnis te exempli documenta in inlustri posita monumento intueri; inde tibi tuaeque rei publicae quod imitere capias, inde foedum inceptu, foedum exitu, quod vites.
Perpetual Commerce with External Nature
I now understand why the Greeks were such great poets; and, above all, I can account, it seems to me, for the harmony, the unity, the perfection, the uniform excellence, of all their works of art. They lived in a perpetual commerce with external nature, and nourished themselves upon the spirit of its forms. Their theatres were all open to the mountains and the sky. Their columns, the ideal types of a sacred forest, with its roof of interwoven tracery, admitted the light and wind; the odour and the freshness of the country penetrated the cities. Their temples were mostly upaithric; and the flying clouds, the stars, or the deep sky, were seen above. O, but for that series of wretched wars which terminated in the Roman conquest of the world; but for the Christian religion, which put the finishing stroke on the ancient system; but for those changes that conducted Athens to its ruin—to what an eminence might not humanity have arrived!upaithric, from ὑπό (under, beneath) and αἰθήρ (sky, heaven).
Yet angry words were about the only kind anyone cared to use these days. Men seemed tired of the reasoning process. Instead of trying to convert one's opponents it was simpler just to denounce them, no matter what unmeasured denunciation might lead to.Id., p. 3:
He had not been trying to persuade. No one was these days; a political leader addressed his own following, not the opposition. Sumner had been trying to inflame, to arouse, to confirm the hatreds and angers that already existed.
Friday, August 18, 2023
Poets as Teachers
It did, but still it's the poet's duty to draw a veil over evil
And not to stage or teach such matters. For just as smaller children
Have a teacher who tells them things, so poets are teachers to those who are adults.
We've a serious duty to say what's best.
μὰ Δί᾽, ἀλλ᾽ ὄντ᾽· ἀλλ᾽ ἀποκρύπτειν χρὴ τὸ πονηρὸν τόν γε ποιητήν,
καὶ μὴ παράγειν μηδὲ διδάσκειν. τοῖς μὲν γὰρ παιδαρίοισιν
ἔστι διδάσκαλος ὅστις φράζει, τοῖσιν δ᾽ ἡβῶσι ποιηταί.
πάνυ δὴ δεῖ χρηστὰ λέγειν ἡμᾶς.
Nature versus Nurture
Breed is stronger than pasture 1917: Bridge, Cheshire Proverbs, 31The proverb is attested earlier, in George Eliot, Silas Marner, Chapter X:
His spare but healthy person, and high-featured firm face, that looked as if it had never been flushed by excess, was in strong contrast, not only with the Squire's, but with the appearance of the Raveloe farmers generally—in accordance with a favorite saying of his own, that "breed was stronger than pasture."
Thursday, August 17, 2023
A Bad Deal
Yet such is the nature of your own offers to me:
noble in appearance, but in substance base.
τοιαῦτα μέντοι καὶ σὺ προσφέρεις ἐμοί,
λόγῳ μὲν ἐσθλά, τοῖσι δ᾽ ἔργοισιν κακά.
Favorable Chance is the god of all men who follow their own devices instead of obeying a law they believe in. Let even a polished man of these days get into a position he is ashamed to avow, and his mind will be bent on all the possible issues that may deliver him from the calculable results of that position. Let him live outside his income, or shirk the resolute honest work that brings wages, and he will presently find himself dreaming of a possible benefactor, a possible simpleton who may be cajoled into using his interest, a possible state of mind in some possible person not yet forthcoming. Let him neglect the responsibilities of his office, and he will inevitably anchor himself on the chance, that the thing left undone may turn out not to be of the supposed importance. Let him betray his friend's confidence, and he will adore that same cunning complexity called Chance, which gives him the hope that his friend will never know. Let him forsake a decent craft that he may pursue the gentilities of a profession to which nature never called him, and his religion will infallibly be the worship of blessed Chance, which he will believe in as the mighty creator of success. The evil principle deprecated in that religion, is the orderly sequence by which the seed brings forth a crop after its kind.
Craving for Suffering
When I think of the craving to do something, which continually tickles and spurs those millions of young Europeans who cannot endure their boredom and themselves, then I realize that they must have a craving to suffer and to find in their suffering a probable reason for action, for deeds. Neediness is needed! Hence the politicians' clamor, hence the many false, fictitious, exaggerated "conditions of distress" of all sorts of classes and the blind readiness to believe in them.
Denke ich an die Begierde, Etwas zu thun, wie sie die Millionen junger Europäer fortwährend kitzelt und stachelt, welche alle die Langeweile und sich selber nicht ertragen können,—so begreife ich, dass in ihnen eine Begierde, Etwas zu leiden, sein muss, um aus ihrem Leiden einen probablen Grund zum Thun, zur That herzunehmen. Noth ist nöthig! Daher das Geschrei der Politiker, daher die vielen falschen, erdichteten, übertriebenen „Nothstände“ aller möglichen Classen und die blinde Bereitwilligkeit, an sie zu glauben.
Wednesday, August 16, 2023
What harm can there be in listening to words?
λόγων δ᾽ ἀκοῦσαι τίς βλάβη;
Out, Damned Spot, Out
ὦ Κρητικὰς μὲν συλλέγων μονῳδίας,For out read our. The mistake persists in the Digital Loeb Classical Library.
γάμους δ᾿ ἀνοσίους εἰσφέρων εἰς τὴν τέχνην—
You collector of Cretan arias, who brought unholy couplings into out art—
Labels: typographical and other errors
Tuesday, August 15, 2023
The Uninstructed and the Instructed
The Uninstructed are not the Unintelligent. You will find good natural—even peasant—intelligences that, knowing nothing of the facts of a given case or of a given branch of Knowledge, will yet, on the facts being laid before them, arrive at surprisingly just conclusions. On the other hand the Instructed are only too often the unintelligent; when they are not unintelligent they are only too often the wilfully self-blinded.C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), That Hideous Strength (London: John Lane, 1945), pp. 119-120:
Why you fool, it's the educated reader who can be gulled. All our difficulty comes with the others. When did you meet a workman who believes the papers? He takes it for granted that they're all propaganda and skips the leading articles. He buys his paper for the football results and the little paragraphs about girls falling out of windows and corpses found in Mayfair flats. He is our problem. We have to recondition him. But the educated public, the people who read the high-brow weeklies, don't need reconditioning. They're all right already. They'll believe anything.
But when he turned to the monks of Antioch13 and produced a series of remarkable translations of the lives of monastic saints in Egypt, Syria, and Palestine, Festugière treated his subjects with a contempt more toxic even than the scorn of Gibbon. He was utterly dismissive of their thought-world, and of the role of demons in it. On such topics, he spoke with the shrill voice of the nineteenth-century French "civilizing mission" in Africa and the Middle East.Pierre Hadot, "André-Jean Festugière (1898-1982)," École pratique des hautes études, Section des sciences religieuses. Annuaire 92 (1983-1984) 31-35 (at 34-35):Let us go back to the demons. Let us try to imagine for ourselves the terrors of those persons of the past. Let us try to get into the skin of such people [the monks], whose modes of thought and feeling do not really rise above those of the most savage primitive lost in the forests of Equatorial Africa.14Once, when asked by my friend Pierre Hadot what he thought of the monks of East Rome, Festugière answered, with a full load of colonial contempt: "Fakirs!" (a derogatory term used by the British in India for Hindu and Muslim holy men).15
It was this contempt, as much for modern Africans as for ancient monks, that I was determined to overcome.
13. A.J. Festugière, Antioche païenne et chrétienne (Paris: de Boccard, 1959), 245–310.
14. A.J. Festugière, Les Moines d'Orient, vol. 1, Culture et Sainteté (Paris: Le Cerf, 1961), 33.
15. P. Hadot, Annuaire de l'École pratique des Hautes Études 92 (1983-1984): 31-35.
Parfois même cet amour pour le monde antique l'emportait sur son amour pour le monde chrétien; plus précisément, il semblait douter de certains aspects du monde chrétien. Je l'ai entendu dire par boutade, au sujet des moines du ive et du ve siècle: «Des fakirs!».
I refer to your article quoting Peter Brown on the supposed use of the word 'fakir' as a term of abuse: 'a derogatory term used by the British in India for Hindu and Muslim holy men'. Now when I come upon this sort of thing I reach for my Hobson-Jobson, and I can't find anything there indicating that it was a term of abuse. There are a lot of citations, none of which support the derogatory sense (but I'm sure you've got your own copy of Hobson-Jobson so I won't type them out laboriously); but the definition is:
FAKEER. s. Hind. from Arab. faķīr ('poor'). Properly an indigent person, but specially 'one poor in the sight of God,' applied to a Mahommedan religious mendicant, and then, loosely and inaccurately, to Hindu devotees and naked ascetics. And this last is the most ordinary Anglo-Indian use.And I may remark that when Churchill referred to Gandhi as 'a Middle Temple lawyer posing as a naked fakir' he was not casting any aspersions on fakirs but on Gandhi's supposed hypocrisy.
One of the definitions of fakir at Trésor de la Langue Française informatisé is:
Personne qui exécute en public des exercices physiques difficiles et des tours extraordinaires, prétendument attribués à un pouvoir surnaturel et relevant en fait de l'illusionisme.
And Apollo, the hunter, and his sister, who follows the spotted, swift-footed deer—I wish that they would come, a double help to this land and to its people.J.C. Kamerbeek on στέργω:
καὶ τὸν ἀγρευτὰν Ἀπόλλω
καὶ κασιγνήταν πυκνοστίκτων ὀπαδὸν
ὠκυπόδων ἐλάφων στέργω διπλᾶς ἀρωγὰς
μολεῖν γᾷ τᾷδε καὶ πολίταις.
I love > I desire > 'I entreat'.The same, tr. Hugh Lloyd-Jones:
And I call upon the hunter Apollo and his sister, follower of dappled swift-footed deer, to come giving the aid of both to this land and to its citizens!If you want to know what Sophocles meant, you can rely on Jebb and Lloyd-Jones. Some translations are completely unreliable, e.g. Robert Fitzgerald:
Apollo, Artemis, come down,and David Slavitt:
hunter and huntress of the flickering deer—
pace with each cavalier
for honor of our land and Athens town.
I call upon hunter Apollo and on Diana,Cavalier? Hillside? Not in Sophocles.
who follows the quick deer on the hillside,
to give aid to our men, this land, and us.
Monday, August 14, 2023
For archaeological studies, however, he had no taste. 'Let's have a swim. I detest antiquarian twaddle', he said to Trelawny, when it was proposed that he should visit the antiquities of Ithaca.4
4 Trelawny, Recollections of the last days of Shelley and Byron (ed. 1923), p. 136.
Typographical Error on a Statue?
In addition to the information about the Class of 1905, the pedestal has a line from Aeschylus’s play, Agamemnon, engraved in its base.Aeschylus, Agamemnon 314:ΝΙΚΑΙΔΕΟΓΡΩΤΟΣΚΑΙΤΕΛΕΥΤΑΙΟΣΔΡΑΜΩΝTranslated into English, it reads “Victor is he that runs first and last,” meaning that in a torch or relay race, victory is won by all the runners on a team, not just the swiftest participant. However, astute readers of ancient Greek will notice that the chiseler of the inscription replaced the letter Π (Pi), the first letter of the word “protos” or first, with a Γ (Gamma), turning the word into “grotos,” which has no meaning.
This apparently went unnoticed until 1961, when an astute reader sent a Letter to the Editor in the Barnard Bulletin, to call attention to the gaffe.
νικᾷ δ᾽ ὁ πρῶτος καὶ τελευταῖος δραμών.Hat tip: Eric Thomson.
I don't think there's an error in the inscription. The pi has a small hook on the right hand side, like
See the "Table of Letters" in L.H. Jeffery, The Local Scripts of Archaic Greece: A Study of the Origin of the Greek Alphabet and its Development from the Eighth to the Fifth Centuries B.C., rev. ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963).
Related post: An Unfortunate Misprint.
Labels: typographical and other errors
Sunday, August 13, 2023
A Society Without Rituals
As Mary [Douglas] described them, the "Bog Irish" were tenaciously attached to the observation of fasts and Friday abstinence. Mary did not defend their practices because she was notably conservative or reactionary in liturgical matters (as were many of the opponents of the reforms of Vatican II). She did it for reasons that were continuous with her attitude to contemporary British society. She was convinced that to sweep away such rituals—as if they were external and trivial practices—belittled the humanity of those who remained attached to them: it showed a high-minded contempt for the efforts of vulnerable groups to maintain their human dignity. In her view, a society without rituals was an impoverished society, stripped of its defenses against the antisocial behavior of its less community-minded members—many of whom, alas!, were rich, powerful, well educated, and, often, lethally high-minded.
A Bad Citizen
I hate a man who'll always prove to beW.B. Stanford ad loc.:
Reluctant to help his homeland but quick to harm it—
A man who advances himself but hinders the city.
μισῶ πολίτην, ὅστις ὠφελεῖν πάτραν
βραδὺς φανεῖται, μεγάλα δὲ βλάπτειν ταχύς,
καὶ πόριμον αὑτῷ, τῇ πόλει δ᾽ ἀμήχανον.
1428 φανεῖται R: πέφυκε VAKL: πέφανται H.G. Hamaker, "Observationes Criticae in Aristophanis Ranas," Mnemosyne (1857) 209-224 (p. 224)
'I hate any citizen who will...' These lines are in tragic metre—quotations or parodies. The variant πέφυκε for φανεῖται may, as Tucker suggests, come from the tragic original: πάτρα [sic], cf. 1163, belongs to elevated style. E. is fond of beginning lines with words like μισῶ. στυγῶ, etc.: see Schmidt 353 n. 4. Note the rhetorical antitheses, 'slow ... swift ... resourceful ... helpless...'. Cf. Euripides, fr. 905 μισῶ σοφιστήν, ὅστις οὐχ αὑτῷ σοφός.Richard Kannicht, ed., Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, Vol. 5: Euripides (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2004), p. 899:
Nauck ... vss. Ran. 1427-9 'μισῶ—ἀμήχανον' Grotio duce Aristophanem ipsum Euripidis esse indicavisse censuit, unde F 886 N.2, probante Mette (frr. 775 et 1207), improbantibus cum Wil. ms. tum Schlesinger TAPhA 67 (1936) 308 et Rau 123/205 (ubi vid.)Rau = Peter Rau, Paratragodia: Untersuchung einer komischen Form des Aristophanes (Munich: Beck, 1967), unavailable to me.
A Faded Picture
Long before living memory our ancestral way of life produced outstanding men, and those excellent men preserved the old way of life and the institutions of their forefathers. Our generation, however, after inheriting our political organization like a magnificent picture now fading with age, not only neglected to restore its original colours but did not even bother to ensure that it retained its basic form and, as it were, its faintest outlines. What remains of those ancient customs on which he [Ennius] said the state of Rome stood firm? We see them so ruined by neglect that not only do they go unobserved, they are no longer known. And what shall I say of the men? It is the lack of such men that has led to the disappearance of those customs. Of this great tragedy we are not only bound to give a description; we must somehow defend ourselves as if we were arraigned on a capital charge. For it is not by some accident—no, it is because of our own moral failings—that we are left with the name of the Republic, having long since lost its substance.
itaque ante nostram memoriam et mos ipse patrius praestantes viros adhibebat, et veterem morem ac maiorum instituta retinebant excellentes viri. nostra vero aetas cum rem publicam sicut picturam accepisset egregiam, sed iam evanescentem vetustate, non modo eam coloribus eisdem quibus fuerat renovare neglexit, sed ne id quidem curavit ut formam saltem eius et extrema tamquam liniamenta servaret. quid enim manet ex antiquis moribus, quibus ille dixit rem stare Romanam? quos ita oblivione obsoletos videmus, ut non modo non colantur, sed iam ignorentur. nam de viris quid dicam? mores enim ipsi interierunt virorum penuria, cuius tanti mali non modo reddenda ratio nobis, sed etiam tamquam reis capitis quodam modo dicenda causa est. nostris enim vitiis, non casu aliquo, rem publicam verbo retinemus, re ipsa vero iam pridem amisimus.
The Health of the Moment
Here now is the greatest marvel of antiquity; he that hath eyes to see, let him see, viz. let him see the healthiness of the moment, and what this is worth. For although by a most terrible calamity, these pictures were buried amongst ruins for nearly two thousand years, they are still just as fresh and as sound as they were in the happy, easy hour, which preceded their fearful entombment.
If we were asked, what they represent, it might perhaps be rather perplexing to give an answer; meantime I should say, that these forms give us the feeling, that the moment must be pregnant and sufficient to itself, if it is to become a worthy segment of time and eternity.
Hier nun das Wundersamste des Alterthums, dem der sehen kann, mit Augen zu sehen; die Gesundheit nämlich des Moments und was diese werth ist. Denn diese, durch das gräulichste Ereigniß verschütteten Bilder sind, nach beynahe zweytausend Jahren, noch eben so frisch, tüchtig und wohlhäbig als im Augenblick des Glücks und Behaglichkeit, der ihrer furchtbaren Einhüllung vorherging.
Würde gefragt was sie vorstellen? so wäre man vielleicht in Verlegenheit zu antworten; einsweilen möchte ich sagen: diese Gestalten geben uns das Gefühl: der Augenblick müsse prägnant und sich selbst genug seyn um ein würdiger Einschnitt in Zeit und Ewigkeit zu werden.
Saturday, August 12, 2023
Once the vain superstition beset the fathers’ pagan hearts, it ran unchecked through a thousand generations one after another. The young heir bowed shuddering before anything which his hoary ancestors had designated as worshipful in their eyes. Children in their infancy drank in the error with their first milk; while still at the crying stage, they had tasted of the sacrificial meal, and had seen mere stones coated with wax and the grimy gods of the house dripping with unguent. The little one had looked at a figure in the shape of Fortune, with her wealthy horn, standing in the house, a hallowed stone, and watched his mother pale-faced in prayer before it. Then, raised on his nurse's shoulder, he too pressed his lips to the flint and rubbed it with them, pouring out his childish petitions, asking for riches from a sightless stone, and convinced that all one's wishes must be sought from thence. Never did he raise eyes and heart and turn them towards the throne of wisdom, but clung with credulous faith to his witless tradition, worshipping gods of his own house with the blood of lambs.See H.J. Rose, "The Religion of a Greek Household," Euphrosyne 1 (1957) 95-116 (at 96-98).
ut semel obsedit gentilia pectora patrum
vana superstitio, non interrupta cucurrit
aetatum per mille gradus. tener horruit heres
et coluit quidquid sibimet venerabile cani 100
monstrarant atavi. puerorum infantia primo
errorem cum lacte bibit. gustaverat inter
vagitus de farre molae; saxa inlita ceris
viderat unguentoque lares umescere nigros.
formatum Fortunae habitum cum divite cornu 105
sacratumque domi lapidem consistere parvus
spectarat matremque illic pallere precantem.
mox umeris positus nutricis trivit et ipse
impressis silicem labris puerilia vota
fudit opesque sibi caeca de rupe poposcit, 110
persuasumque habuit quod quis velit inde petendum,
numquam oculos animumque levans rationis ad arcem
rettulit, insulsum tenuit sed credulus usum
privatos celebrans agnorum sanguine divos.
Charlemagne ordered his stewards each to have in his district 'good workmen, namely, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, silversmiths, shoemakers, turners, carpenters, swordmakers, fishermen, foilers, soapmakers, men who know how to make beer, cider, perry, and all other kinds of beverages, bakers to make pasty for our table, netmakers who know how to make nets for hunting, fishing, and fowling, and others too many to be named'.2Foilers must be a mistake for fowlers. Likewise swordmakers should be shieldmakers.
2. De Villis, c. 45.
Ut unusquisque iudex in suo ministerio bonos habeat artifices, id est fabros ferrarios et aurifices vel argentarios, sutores, tornatores, carpentarios, scutarios, piscatores, aucipites id est aucellatores, saponarios, siceratores, id est qui cervisam vel pomatium sive piratium vel aliud quodcumque liquamen ad bibendum aptum fuerit facere sciant, pistores, qui similam ad opus nostrum faciant, retiatores qui retia facere bene sciant, tam ad venandum quam ad piscandum sive ad aves capiendum, necnon et reliquos ministeriales quos ad numerandum longum est.Related posts:
Labels: typographical and other errors
Language and Literature
The genius of a nation's language walks hand-in-hand with the genius of her literature. And this is what some of the barbarians find it so hard to understand. They cannot see the true position of the study of Greek grammar. They can only regard it as a lowly handmaid to the study of Greek literature. But language is no handmaid. The language and the literature are fellows, and their relation is rather one of reciprocity. Knowledge of the language enables us to read the literature, and the literature teaches us the genius of the language. They are interdependent, but each claims to be studied for itself, as well as for its fellow. The distinction of οὐ and μή, the'syntax of final clauses, "the doctrine of the enclitic De," which Browning's grammarian had mastered, are matters which a University must consider as important for their own sake—part of the useless knowledge which forms its special province. To get a glimpse of the genius of the Greek language is necessary in a liberal education, as well as to get a glimpse of the genius of the Greek literature. The two things are wedded together, but each is an end in itself. And this is likewise true of Latin and other literary languages. The sense and the expression must not be divorced. The precept, "Never mind the thought, but take care of the words," would be irrational; the opposite precept, "Never mind the words, but take care of the thought," is illiterate.
These sayings may seem hard to the barbarians. But the guardians of the Universities are false to their charge, and unfit to be guardians, if they are afraid or ashamed to profess the true character of sound liberal education over which it is theirs to watch; if they shrink from the responsibilities of the heritage of Humanism which it is their privilege to transmit. Any compromise on this question is treachery. Any attempt to conciliate the enemy by alleging that Greek, after all, may have uses is disloyalty to the ideal of a liberal education.
Friday, August 11, 2023
When the creation of a professorship of social anthropology was debated, Hugh Last (1894-1957), the doyen of Roman history and the leader of opinion in the prestige-full School of Litterae Humaniores (of the classics), had roundly declared that "an acquaintance with the habits of savages is not an education."
The hurrying, scattering generation of today can hardly imagine the immovable stability of the village of past centuries, when generation after generation grew from cradle to grave in the same houses, on the same cobbled streets, and folk of the same name were still friends, as their fathers and grandfathers had been before them.
The Romantic Dust of the Ancient World
In college I was an English major. Now, recalling my childhood pleasure in Old Testament stories, I hit upon the idea of writing a graduate dissertation on the use of Old Testament imagery in the English metaphysical poets. In preparation for this work, one morning I decided to use the summer of 1963 before I began graduate work to learn some Hebrew at the seminary on campus. With a little effort that same morning I talked one of the professors into monitoring me, and that afternoon I bought a copy of Learning Hebrew by the Inductive Method and a Hebrew Bible.Id., p. 69:
The next morning I had my coffee, took my books out of their bag, and laid them on my desk under the window. I studied chapter 1 of the grammar carefully. After that, I had another cup of coffee, and I laid the Hebrew Bible in front of me, opening it, as you do all Hebrew Bibles, back to front. Then, as I stumbled through the first words of Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth," I had an epiphany. Why this was so, I do not know, but I still recall the way the shape of the Hebrew letters and the look of the light falling on the creamy paper were mixed up with what I can only call a sense of cosmic goodness and joy in all created things I had never encountered before. It was as though the page itself were alive and the jots and tittles on the letters little flames. For the first time I could recall, life itself seemed all of a piece and trustworthy, and there was a place for me in it. In that instant I knew that God delighted in creation, in light, in water and mountains, in fruit-bearing trees and grasses, in water creatures and bugs, in wild animals and tame, in men and, most important for me, in women like me.
I decided at that very moment to leave off graduate work in English to do a graduate degree in Hebrew. Within the next few weeks, I applied to seminary for this purpose, and I was given a scholarship. I began second-year Hebrew that fall and I loved it. The next two years I took as many Old Testament and Hebrew courses as I could.
Then I went off to Oxford in England to do graduate work in Semitic studies. I thought I had entirely made my escape from my old problems. Oxford, with its women's colleges, took it for granted that women could be scholars. The Oxford program suited me almost perfectly. We wrote Hebrew compositions, both prose and poetry. We studied Semitic philology. We read Hebrew texts and we read few secondary sources. On the other hand, we were not to raise questions about what the texts we studied might really be about.I can't find a book with the title Learning Hebrew by the Inductive Method. Could this be a reference to William Rainey Harper, Elements of Hebrew by an Inductive Method, often reprinted, e.g., 29th ed. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1906)?
"Could we take just a few minutes to talk about the meaning of the book of Job?" I asked the last week of a three-term course on the Hebrew text of that book. Embarrassed, the students looked at the table top and shuffled their feet. The Scottish professor drew himself up. "My dear madam," he replied, affronted, "that is something to ask your tutor in the privacy of your own tutorial!" It was at that moment, I believe, that I decided to leave the pain of the present by retreating forever into the romantic dust of the ancient world.
A Scene from Homer
So he spoke, and with pitiless bronze he cut the lambs' throats,See Margo Kitts, Sanctified Violence in Homeric Society: Oath-Making Rituals and Narratives in the Iliad (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 137, who compares a Hittite military oath: "This is not your wine, it is your blood. As the earth swallows it, so shall it swallow your blood."
letting them fall gasping again to the ground, the life breath
going away, since the strength of the bronze had taken it from them.
Drawing the wine from the mixing bowls in the cups, they poured it
forth, and made their prayer to the gods who live everlasting.
And thus would murmur any man, Achaian or Trojan:
'Zeus, exalted and mightiest, and you other immortals,
let those, whichever side they may be, who do wrong to the oaths sworn
first, let their brains be spilled on the ground as this wine is spilled now,
theirs and their sons', and let their wives be the spoil of others.'
ἦ, καὶ ἀπὸ στομάχους ἀρνῶν τάμε νηλέϊ χαλκῷ·
καὶ τοὺς μὲν κατέθηκεν ἐπὶ χθονὸς ἀσπαίροντας
θυμοῦ δευομένους· ἀπὸ γὰρ μένος εἵλετο χαλκός.
οἶνον δ᾽ ἐκ κρητῆρος ἀφυσσόμενοι δεπάεσσιν 295
ἔκχεον, ἠδ᾽ εὔχοντο θεοῖς αἰειγενέτῃσιν.
ὧδε δέ τις εἴπεσκεν Ἀχαιῶν τε Τρώων τε·
'Ζεῦ κύδιστε μέγιστε καὶ ἀθάνατοι θεοὶ ἄλλοι
ὁππότεροι πρότεροι ὑπὲρ ὅρκια πημήνειαν
ὧδέ σφ᾽ ἐγκέφαλος χαμάδις ῥέοι ὡς ὅδε οἶνος 300
αὐτῶν καὶ τεκέων, ἄλοχοι δ᾽ ἄλλοισι δαμεῖεν.'
301 δαμεῖεν schhT 3 554 A B2? Ε Τ: μιγείεν schbD Ω* Τs
Thursday, August 10, 2023
Goo now faste, and hye the blyve!Definitions from the Oxford English Dictionary:
hye = hie, v.¹: To hasten, speed, go quickly.Thanks to Eric Thomson for confirming my guess that the = thee and for drawing my attention to Michiko Ogura, "Verbs Used Reflexively in Old and Middle English: A Case of the Syntactic Continuity and Lexical Change," Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 102.1 (2001) 23-36.
blyve = belive, adv. & adj.: With speed, with haste, quickly, eagerly.
As soon as a king takes the first step towards a more unjust regime, he at once becomes a tyrant. And that is the foulest and most repellent creature imaginable, and the most abhorrent to god and man alike. Although he has the outward appearance of a man, he outdoes the wildest beasts in the utter savagery of his behaviour. How can anyone be properly called a man who renounces every legal tie, every civilized partnership with his own citizens and indeed with the entire human species?Oxford Latin Dictionary, s.v. vastus, sense 3.a (citing this passage):
simul atque enim se inflexit hic rex in dominatum iniustiorem, fit continuo tyrannus, quo neque taetrius neque foedius nec dis hominibusque invisius animal ullum cogitari potest; qui quamquam figura est hominis, morum tamen inmanitate vastissimas vincit beluas. quis enim hunc hominem rite dixerit, qui sibi cum suis civibus, qui denique cum omni hominum genere nullam iuris communionem, nullam humanitatis societatem velit?
Awe-inspiring by reason of size, force, etc.; (esp. of wild animals, superhuman beings, and sim.).
But Humphry [House] had a son at last—one to treasure and keep close. [….] This pleasure spilled over later into Humphry's educational programme. In a move that mirrored the teaching Hartley Coleridge received from his poet father, John knew the Greek alphabet by the age of two.Hat tip: Eric Thomson.
In this, as in all other medieval cookery books, what strikes the modern reader is the length and elaboration of the huge feasts, with their many courses and dishes, and the richness of the highly spiced viands. There are black puddings and sausages, venison and beef, eels and herrings, fresh water fish, round sea fish and flat sea fish, common pottages unspiced, spiced pottages, meat pottages and meatless pottages, roasts and pastries and entremets, divers sauces boiled and unboiled, pottages and 'slops' for invalids. Some of them sound delicious, others would be ruin to our degenerate digestions today. Pungent sauces of vinegar, verjuice, and wine were very much favoured, and cloves, cinnamon, galingale, pepper, and ginger appear unexpectedly in meat dishes. Almonds were a favourite ingredient in all sorts of dishes, as they still are in China and other parts of the East, and they might well be used more lavishly than they are in modern European cookery. True to his race, the Ménagier includes recipes for cooking frogs and snails.
Wednesday, August 09, 2023
And may we utter many jokesW.B. Stanford ad loc.:
But many serious things as well,
And may we serve your festival
In a worthy spirit of playful humour
And win the ribbons of victory!
καὶ πολλὰ μὲν γέλοιά μ᾽ εἰ-
πεῖν, πολλὰ δὲ σπουδαῖα, καὶ 390
τῆς σῆς ἑορτῆς ἀξίως
παίσαντα καὶ σκώψαντα νικήσαντα
389 ff. .... Note γέλοια and σπουδαῖα together: Ar. made this mixture of the gay and the grave the essence of his plays: cf. Plato, Laws 816 E, 'without the comic (γελοίων) it is impossible to understand the serious' (τὰ σπουδαῖα): cf. § 10 n. 53.Horace, Satires 1.1.24-25 (tr. H. Rushton Fairclough):
393. ταινιοῦσθαι: 'to wear the victor's bands' : the victor in athletic or dramatic contests was decorated both with a garland of leaves and with a ribbon or headband (ταινία), which floated down like a streamer. Cf. Thucydides 4, 121.
What is to prevent one from telling truth as he laughs?
ridentem dicere verum / quid vetat?
The foes of Greek have succeeded in frightening some of the guardians of the Universities by quoting the Zeitgeist. They exhort them to keep up with the progress of the age; they represent that the spirit of the times is impatient of the old routine of study; they urge that useless and antiquated subjects must be swept away as speedily as possible, and our colleges garnished with something newer and better and more "technical." These interpreters of the Zeitgeist laugh at the guardians as backward and old-fashioned if they decline to listen to such counsels, and perhaps hint threateningly that the present state of things cannot last in the face of modern progress. The Zeitgeist, it seems, has frowned on Greek as an unprofitable servant, and declared that it must be abolished. Greek, indeed, is not likely to serve the Zeitgeist, or any other master. But the Universities will do well to keep the Zeitgeist at a civil distance. He is interesting, certainly, in many ways. It might be no harm to invite him to dine in hall, and dons in their private capacity may not do ill to cultivate his acquaintance with discretion. Perhaps the University might even go so far as to confer upon him an honorary Degree. But to allow him to have any voice in the regulation of academic studies—that is fatal indeed.
But I am sick of politics.
The Historian's Motto
For history, after all, is valuable only in so far as it lives, and Maeterlinck's cry, 'There are no dead', should always be the historian's motto.
How one reacts to the New Testament is a test of whether one has any classical taste in one's bones (cf. Tacitus); whoever is not revolted by it, whoever does not honestly and profoundly sense something of foeda superstitio25 in it, something from which one withdraws one's hand as if to avoid being soiled, does not know what is classical. One must feel about the "cross" as Goethe did26—Goethe, Venetian Epigrams 8, in Twenty-Five German Poets: A Bilingual Collection. Edited, Translated, and Introduced by Walter Kaufmann (New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc., 1975), pp. 50-51:
25 "Abominable superstition."
26 An allusion to Goethe's Venetian Epigrams (1790): the original text and a verse translation will be found in Twenty German Poets, ed. and tr. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Modern Library, 1963), pp. 32 f.
Es ist eine Probe davon, ob man etwas classischen Geschmack im Leibe hat, wie man zum neuen Testament steht (vergl. Tacitus); wer davon nicht revoltirt ist, wer dabei nicht ehrlich und gründlich etwas von foeda superstitio empfindet, etwas, wovon man die Hand zurückzieht, wie um nicht sich zu beschmutzen: der weiss nicht, was classisch ist. Man muss das „Kreuz“ empfinden wie Goethe—
Jeglichen Schwärmer schlagt mir ans Kreuz im dreissigsten Jahre;
Kennt er nur einmal die Welt, wird der Betrogne der Schelm.
Every enthusiast nail to the cross in his thirtieth year!
Once they see through the world, those taken in become knaves.
Tuesday, August 08, 2023
Describe to me the harbours, bakers' shops,K.J. Dover on line 113:
brothels, rest stops, detours, springs, and roads,
the towns, their customs, and the inns
where there are fewest bugs.
τούτους φράσον μοι, λιμένας ἀρτοπώλια
πορνεῖ᾽ ἀναπαύλας ἐκτροπὰς κρήνας ὁδοὺς
πόλεις διαίτας πανδοκευτρίας, ὅπου
κόρεις ὀλίγιστοι. 115
113 κρήνας: κρημνούς v.l. ap. sch. E
κρημνούς, 'cliffs', is probably a simple slip; in this list of things to be sought an item to be avoided would strike a false note.A periplus lists both, places to be avoided as well as places to be sought. See e.g. (although admittedly from a much later date) the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea 20 (tr. G.W.B. Huntingford):
Thus, on the whole, this voyage along the coast of the Arabian mainland is dangerous, the country being without harbours, with bad anchorages and a foul shore, unapproachable by reason of rocks, and in every way formidable.Could Aristophanes' lines be a parody of a periplus?
Shunning the Living World
Among those gifted bards and sages old,
Shunning the living world, I dwell, and hear,
Reverent, the creeds they held, the tales they told...
Monday, August 07, 2023
Dear Mr. Brown
At about the same time, I received a letter from the Oxford Registry. In frosty terms, it informed "Dear Mr. Brown" that the Oxford History Board had received no indication that I had completed my dissertation, "The Social and Economic Position of the Italian Senatorial Aristocracy in the Sixth Century A.D." Nor had they received any report from my supervisor, Professor Momigliano. For this reason, I was no longer eligible to apply for a doctorate. In blunt, American terms: I had been kicked out of graduate school. This was not unusual. I did not even keep the letter. Failure to complete a dissertation and to gain a doctorate was not viewed as a handicap at this time. Indeed, it could appear almost as a sign of distinction—as if I did not need the extra certification of a doctorate: Alan Cameron, already a scholar of superb, almost nonchalant ability, had done the same.
Speaking much is not the same as speaking rightly!J.C. Kamerbeek ad loc.:
χωρὶς τό τ᾽ εἰπεῖν πολλὰ καὶ τὸ καίρια.
alterum τὸ Suda s.v. χωρίς et fortasse sch.: τὰ codd.
Sunday, August 06, 2023
The True Function of a University
The barbarians and the apostate headmasters and the deluded dons, who wish to abolish compulsory Greek, urge that it is utterly useless. For that is what their statement comes to, however they may endeavour to disguise, refine, or qualify what they really mean. But there is no need whatever that they should try to soften their impeachment. For what they say is perfectly true.Id. (at 813; footnote omitted):
Greek is useless; but its uselessness is the very strongest reason for its being a compulsory subject in the University course. For the true function of a University is the teaching of useless learning. And if she attempts to do anything else, she is going beyond her proper province. If she be seduced into running after the useful, she is simply denying herself. If she sets before herself other objects than learning for its own sake, she is abandoning her birthright; nay, she is changing herself into something different from a University.
Plotting Our Destruction
In heaven's name! Where in the world are we? What State is ours? What city are we living in? Here, gentlemen, here in our very midst, in this, the most sacred and important council in the world, there are men whose plans extend beyond the death of us all and the destruction of this city to that of the whole world.
o di immortales! ubinam gentium sumus? quam rem publicam habemus? in qua urbe vivimus? hic, hic sunt in nostro numero, patres conscripti, in hoc orbis terrae sanctissimo gravissimoque consilio, qui de nostro omnium interitu, qui de huius urbis atque adeo de orbis terrarum exitio cogitent.
Saturday, August 05, 2023
You must understandThe same, tr. Stuart Atkins:
We want praise and esteem:
For if none in the land
Were hard of hand,
Where would they be,
The cream of the cream,
For all their wit?
They'd freeze, if we
Didn't sweat, you see;
That's the nub of it.
But to our creditThe same, tr. Martin Greenberg:
do not forget this:
Unless coarse fellows
did heavy labor,
how would fine folk,
smart though they be,
Learn well this lesson,
for you'd be frozen
if we'd not sweated!
Do us the justice,The German:
Fine dames, gentlemen,
To acknowledge our service:
We're crude, but without us,
What then, what then,
Though you're ever so clever?
How you would shiver,
Freeze to death without heat,
If we didn't sweat.
Zu unserm Lobe
Bringt dieß in's Reine;
Denn wirkten Grobe
Nicht auch im Lande,
Wie kämen Feine
Für sich zu Stande,
So sehr sie witzten?
Des seyd belehret;
Denn ihr erfröret
Wenn wir nicht schwitzten.
The Wisdom of Google
Are mayocoba beans healthy?Screen capture (click once or twice to enlarge):
As mayocoba beans are excellent sources of potassium, zinc, iron, and calcium, among others, they are increasingly added to soups, dips, and other side diseases. Dec 18, 2022
It is particularly hard to tolerate the kind of falsehood which is not just untrue but patently impossible.
ea sunt enim demum non ferenda mendacia, quae non solum ficta esse sed ne fieri quidem potuisse cernimus.
Justice and honesty are the first subjects with which we shall deal, especially as we are here to ask for your alliance, and we know that there can never be a firm friendship between man and man or a real community between different states unless there is a conviction of honesty on both sides and a certain like-mindedness in other respects; for if people think differently they will act divergently.
περὶ γὰρ τοῦ δικαίου καὶ ἀρετῆς πρῶτον ἄλλως τε καὶ ξυμμαχίας δεόμενοι τοὺς λόγους ποιησόμεθα, εἰδότες οὔτε φιλίαν ἰδιώταις βέβαιον γιγνομένην οὔτε κοινωνίαν πόλεσιν ἐς οὐδέν, εἰ μὴ μετ᾽ ἀρετῆς δοκούσης ἐς ἀλλήλους γίγνοιντο καὶ τἆλλα ὁμοιότροποι εἶεν· ἐν γὰρ τῷ διαλλάσσοντι τῆς γνώμης καὶ αἱ διαφοραὶ τῶν ἔργων καθίστανται.
Parr once said to him in a moment of frankness: 'You have read a great deal, you have thought very little, and you know nothing.'4
4 Maltby, Porsoniana, p. 319.
Friday, August 04, 2023
But these are external disasters, affecting the body, not the mind, arising from enemy action or from some natural disaster, and I am not discussing these at the moment. I am now concerned with the poisoning of morals, which first decayed slowly and then suffered a headlong plunge. As a result such ruin came upon the commonwealth, even though buildings and walls stood unharmed, that their eminent writers have no hesitation in pronouncing the commonwealth lost.
verum de his adventiciis et corporis potius quam animi malis, quae vel ab hostibus vel alia clade accidunt, nondum interim disputo: nunc ago de labe morum, quibus primum paulatim decoloratis, deinde torrentis modo praecipitatis tanta quamvis integris tectis moenibusque facta est ruina rei publicae, ut magni auctores eorum eam tunc amissam non dubitent dicere.
Thursday, August 03, 2023
The Studious Class
The studious class are their own victims: they are thin and pale, their feet are cold, their heads are hot, the night is without sleep, the day a fear of interruption, — pallor, squalor, hunger, and egotism. If you come near them, and see what conceits they entertain, — they are abstractionists, and spend their days and nights in dreaming some dream; in expecting the homage of society to some precious scheme built on a truth, but destitute of proportion in its presentment, of justness in its application, and of all energy of will in the schemer to embody and vitalize it.
The Whole Truth
Now that I have the knowledge, I will spare no painsSee A.C. Moorhouse, "The Construction with MH ΟΥ," Classical Quarterly 34.1/2 (January-April, 1940) 70-77, and A.C. Moorhouse, The Syntax of Sophocles (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1982), pp. 328-330.
to learn the whole truth in this matter.
νῦν δ᾽ ὡς ξυνίημ᾽, οὐδὲν ἐλλείψω τὸ μὴ
πᾶσαν πυθέσθαι τῶνδ᾽ ἀλήθειαν πέρι.
90 post μὴ add. οὐ Brunck
Whatever there may be of value in his notes on Dawes is swamped by a confused mass of erudition; Kidd can perhaps claim to have established a record with one of his footnotes which extends to twenty pages of close print and double columns.The footnote occurs in Richard Dawes, Miscellanea Critica, 2nd ed. "ex recensione et cum notis aliquanto auctioribus Thomae Kidd" (London: Deighton and Whittaker, 1827), pp. 4-24.
Wednesday, August 02, 2023
Criticisms of Other Scholars
Some of our reviewers have complained of our occasional sharp criticisms of other scholars. It would be pleasant if scholars were always nice about one another, but such a state of affairs would have its bad as well as its good side. One is often told that Housman and other scholars noted for severe criticism of their colleagues have been neurotics working off their personal repressions, but even if true this would not mean that all severe criticism was discredited. Classical scholarship is closely linked with education, and anyone concerned with education must aim at the elimination of certain common faults. An editor or commentator who buries his head in the sand and ignores the well-established fact that the manuscripts in which classical texts are preserved are often corrupt is failing in his professional duty, even if he can be credited with having collected some useful information. So too, though less culpably, is an editor or commentator who is handicapped by bad taste and defective appreciation of literature, as may be the case even with scholars of admirable energy and ingenuity that entitle them to respect. Against these failings a teacher has a duty to warn his pupils, and a scholar has a duty to warn his readers.
Furthermore, the moral character of coastal cities is prone to corruption and decay. For they are exposed to a mixture of strange talk and strange modes of behaviour. Foreign customs are imported along with foreign merchandise; and so none of their ancestral institutions can remain unaffected. The inhabitants of those cities do not stay at home. They are always dashing off to foreign parts, full of airy hopes and designs. And even when, physically, they stay put, they wander abroad in their imagination.
est autem maritimis urbibus etiam quaedam corruptela ac mutatio morum. admiscentur enim novis sermonibus ac disciplinis, et inportantur non merces solum adventiciae sed etiam mores, ut nihil possit in patriis institutis manere integrum. iam qui incolunt eas urbes, non haerent in suis sedibus, sed volucri semper spe et cogitatione rapiuntur a domo longius, atque etiam cum manent corpore, animo tamen exulant et vagantur.
But apt the mind or fancy is to rove
Unchecked, and of her roving is no end;
Till warned, or by experience taught, she learn, 190
That, not to know at large of things remote
From use, obscure and subtle; but, to know
That which before us lies in daily life,
Is the prime wisdom: What is more, is fume,
Or emptiness, or fond impertinence: 195
And renders us, in things that most concern,
Unpractised, unprepared, and still to seek.
The tendency to give each particular case the character of a moral sentence or of an example, so that it becomes something substantial and unchallengeable, the crystallization of thought, in short, finds its most general and natural expression in the proverb. In the thought of the Middle Ages proverbs have performed a very living function. There were hundreds in current use in every nation. The greater number are striking and concise. Their tone is often ironical, their accent always that of bonhomie and resignation. The wisdom we glean from them is sometimes profound and beneficent. They never preach resistance. 'Les grans poissons mangent les plus petis.' 'Les mal vestus assiet on dos ou vent.' 'Nul n'est chaste si ne besongne.' 'Au besoing on s'aide du diable.' 'Il n'est si ferré qui ne glice.'1 To the laments of moralists about the depravation of man the proverbs oppose a smiling detachment. The proverb always glozes over iniquity. Now it is naively pagan and now almost evangelical. A people which has many proverbs in current use will be less given to talking nonsense, and so will avoid many confused arguments and empty phrases. Leaving arguments to cultured people, it is content with judging each case by referring to the authority of some proverb. The crystallization of thought in proverbs is therefore not without advantage to society.
1. The big fishes eat the smaller. The badly dressed are placed with their back to the wind. None is chaste if he has no business. At need we let the devil help us. No horse is so well shod that it never slips.
That is how things stand here; so that if anyone reckons on two days or more, he is acting foolishly, for there is no tomorrow till one has got through today in happiness.M.L. West, "Tragica III," Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 26 (1979) 104-117 (at 111, click once or twice to enlarge):
τοιαῦτα τἀνθάδ᾿ ἐστίν. ὥστ᾿ εἴ τις δύο
ἢ κἀπὶ πλείους ἡμέρας λογίζεται,
μάταιός ἐστιν· οὐ γὰρ ἔσθ᾿ ἥ γ᾿ αὔριον 945
πρὶν εὖ πάθῃ τις τὴν παροῦσαν ἡμέραν.
944 κἀπὶ West: καὶ codd.: κἄτι Herwerden
Tuesday, August 01, 2023
Money, name, and property, if divorced from good sense and skill in living one's own life and directing the lives of others, lapse into total degradation and supercilious insolence. And indeed there is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
nam divitiae nomen opes vacuae consilio et vivendi atque aliis imperandi modo dedecoris plenae sunt et insolentis superbiae, nec ulla deformior species est civitatis quam illa in qua opulentissimi optimi putantur.
Moving in a Flock
It is often a little depressing to see how often editors move in a flock, adhere to national preferences or simply take over some forerunner's text and punctuation.
First and foremost, these were years of deep reading. I would sit in a large armchair with a board across the arms and read my way through the folio volumes of the works of Augustine published by the Benedictine scholars of St. Maur between 1679 and 1700. I would work my way down those generous pages noting on a piece of paper the page, the letter on the margin of each vertical column, and the position, within each letter, of the passages that interested me (so that “11r D mbm” would be page 11, right-hand column, division D, middle-to-bottom-middle). Then, having read through the entire text, I would return to copy into my notes those passages that I had marked. This method of taking notes had a direct effect on the way in which I absorbed the works of Augustine. I hardly ever made a précis of what Augustine wrote. Instead, I went out of my way to copy by hand every passage in the original Latin. By doing this, I aimed to capture, through citations, not only what Augustine said, but, quite as much, how he said it. By taking notes in this way, I found myself catching his tone of voice.Arthur Stanley Pease, quoted in J.P. Elder et al., "Arthur Stanley Pease 1881-1964," Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 69 (1965) ix:
I will confess that I am by nature a collector, that I began with marbles and horse-chestnuts, advanced to postage stamps, continued with botany and books, and at all times have gathered facts and occasionally ideas.
These two latter items, in lack of sufficient cranial space for dead storage, I enter methodically on 3 x 5 slips of paper. When enough of a kind are amassed, they are outspread, classified, digested, written down, dehydrated, and lo! an article, or more rarely a book, to be perused by some lone watcher in Czechoslovakia or beside the Bay of Biscay.
Giving Proper Names to Inanimate Objects
Of the same nature is the custom, very ancient and very primitive, of giving a proper name to inanimate objects. We witnessed a revival of this usage when the big guns during the recent war got names. During the Middle Ages it was much more frequent. Like the swords of the heroes in the chansons de geste, the stone mortars in the wars of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries had names of their own : 'Le Chien d'Orléans, la Gringade, la Bourgeoise, Dulle Griete.' A few very celebrated diamonds are still known by proper names: this, too, is a survival of a widely spread custom. Several jewels of Charles the Bold had their names: 'le sancy, les trois frères, la hôte, la balle de Flandres.' If, at the present time, ships still have names, but bells and most houses have not, the reason lies in the fact that the ship preserves a sort of personality, also expressed in the English usage of making ships feminine. In the Middle Ages this tendency to personify things was much stronger; every house and every bell had its name.