Thursday, December 07, 2023


What Is Happening Among Mortals?

Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472), "The Deceased," Dinner Pieces, tr. David Marsh (Binghamton: Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies, 1987 = Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 45), pp. 98-125 (at 99):
POL. Good. What news do you bring? What is happening among mortals?

NEO. Ha ha ha! Everyone is mad!

POL. Indeed, mad? But how?

NEO. In countless ways. They burn with love or seethe with hate, or some madness lures them to suffer toils, wounds, and extreme perils in pursuit of wealth and eminence, pleasures, and similar follies. I can hardly describe what impetuous desires and feverish cares seize and inflame the minds of mortals. Man's perennial condition is this: everyone living either hopes or fears, dares or dreads, grieves or exults, is angry or cold and languid; or in turn envies, despises, hates, or is consumed by other such cares. In short, if you ponder everything thoroughly, you'll understand that there is almost nothing mortals do which you would not judge vain and foolish.
The Latin, from Leon Battista Alberti, Autobiografia e altre opere latine. A cura di Loredana Chines e Andrea Severi (Milano: Rizzoli, 2012), p. 358:
POLYTROPUS. Bene est. Et quid portas novi? Quid fit apud mortales?

NEOPHRONUS. Hahahe! Deliratur.

POLYTROPUS. Ne vero deliratur? At qui id?

(16) NEOPHRONUS. Modis quidem infinitis: aut enim ardent amoribus aut flagrant odiis aut quadam insania per labores, per vulnera perque extrema omnia pericula ducuntur ad questum, ad amplitudinem capessendam, ad voluptates exequendas adque huiusmodi ineptias obeundas. (17) Neque facile dixerim quam precipites cupiditates quamve ingens curarum estus rapiant animos mortalium atque exurant. (18) Se quidem sic semper habet, qui inter mortales degit, ut speret aut metuat, audeat aut reformidet aut mereat aut exultet aut irascatur aut frigescat et langueat, rursus invideat aut contemnat aut oderit aut reliquis curis istiusmodi conficiatur: denique cum satis omnia pensitaris, intelliges a mortalibus ferme nihil fieri quod ipsum non frustra et inepte factum iudices.
mereat = maereat or moereat

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