Sunday, March 31, 2024



Aristophanes, fragment 79 Kassel and Austin (Poetae Comici Graeci III 2, p. 69, from Babylonians; tr. Jeffrey Henderson):
He's afraid of his own shadow.

τὴν αὑτοῦ σκιὰν δέδοικεν.
See Fernando García Romero, "Sobre la expresión proverbial 'temer la propia sombra'," in Homenaje al profesor Juan Antonio López Férez (Madrid: Ediciones Clásicas, 2013), pp. 323-328.


Harsh Words

Richard Doeblin, review of Appendix Vergiliana. Recognoverunt et adnotatione critica instruxerunt W.V. Clausen, F.R.D. Goodyear, E.J. Kenney, J.A. Richmond (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), in Classical Philology 63.3 (July, 1968) 247-251 (at 250-251, footnote omitted):
It is my duty to come now to the gravest defect in this book, which is the incompetence of Goodyear. Goodyear's work is ignorant, mindless, and tasteless. His Ciris, as you have seen, is appalling. His Aetna, on which I shall shortly publish an article, is truly portentous in its ignorance, ugliness, and stupidity.
The eminent Latinists H.D. Jocelyn and C.O. Brink vigorously defended Goodyear in letters to the editor (with a rather anemic rejoinder by Doeblin) in "Correspondence," Classical Philology 64.2 (April, 1969) 115-116. So far as I can tell, Doeblin never followed up on his promise to review Goodyear's separate edition and commentary on Aetna (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965). Indeed, Doeblin (1940-1994) seems never to have published another word on any classical subject.

F.R.D. Goodyear himself could be a harsh critic—he was even once dubbed "Housman redivivus". See, for example, his dismissal of the "Swedish school" of Tacitean scholars (Einar Löfstedt, Gunnar Sörbom, Nils Eriksson), in his commentary on Tacitus' Annals, vol. I, p. 24:
Indeed I must go further: much of their work is shoddy, ill-considered, and misleading.
On Goodyear (1936-1987) see the obituaries by James Diggle, Proceedings of the British Academy 74 (1988) 361-372, J.B. Hall, Acta Classica 31 (1988) 5-11, and H.D. Jocelyn, Gnomon 60.8 (1988) 763-765.
F.R.D. Goodyear

Saturday, March 30, 2024


More Familiar and More Intelligible

Stephen Halliwell, "Dover and the Public Face of Classics," in Stephen Halliwell and Christopher Stray, edd., Scholarship and Controversy: Centenary Essays on the Life and Work of Sir Kenneth Dover (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2023), pp. 291-308 (p. 302, with note on p. 312):
In a talk he gave in St Andrews in 2000 at a celebration of his 80th birthday, he remarked, in that same lightly ironic manner, that 'Personally I find [the Sophoclean] Ajax much more familiar and more intelligible than, say, Cardinal Newman.'49

49. From a copy of Dover's typescript in my possession.


B and V

Dear Mike:

On the lintel of a doorway in village of Mogarraz in the province Salamanca:
B for V[INVM] recalls a long history of inscriptional variation, what Ernesto Parodi dubs "una penosa incertezza nell' uso del b e del v (1898, p. 177). Parodi comments that “il b iniziale sembra raramente alterato, mentre il v è scritto b con straordinaria frequenza” (p.180) and cites, among other examples culled from CIL vols. VI and XI, beginti, bixit, biatores, Bictor, boluerit, and baleas.

The phenomenon is comprehensively dealt with in J. N. Adams, The Regional Diversification of Latin 200 BC–AD 600 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007) Chapter X, sections 2.1 and 2.2.

References from the bibliography:

Baehrens, W. A. (1922), Sprachlicher Kommentar zur vulgärlateinischen Appendix Probi (Halle an der Saale).

Barbarino, J. L. (1978), The Evolution of the Latin /b/–/u /Merger: A Quantitative and Comparative Analysis of the B–V Alternation in Latin Inscriptions (University of North Carolina Studies in the Romance Languages and Literatures 182) (Chapel Hill).

Gaeng, P. A. (1968), An Inquiry into Local Variations in Vulgar Latin, as Reflected in the Vocalism of Christian Inscriptions (University of North Carolina Studies in the Romance Languages and Literatures 77) (Chapel Hill).

Gratwick, A. S. (1982), ‘Latinitas Britannica: was British Latin archaic?’, in N. Brooks (ed.), Latin and the Vernacular Languages in Early Medieval Britain (Leicester), 1–79.

Marichal, R. (1992), Les ostraca de Bu Njem (Assraya al Hamra, Tripoli).

Omeltchenko,W. (1977), A Quantitative and Comparative Study of the Vocalism of the Latin Inscriptions of North Africa, Britain, Dalmatia, and the Balkans (University off North Carolina Studies in the Romance Languages and Literatures 180) (Chapel Hill).

Parodi, E. (1898), ‘Del passaggio di V in B e di certe perturbazioni delle leggi fonetiche nel latino volgare’, Romania 27, 177–240.

Politzer, R. L. (1952), ‘On b and v in Latin and Romance’, Word 8, 211–15.

Best wishes,

Eric [Thomson]

For the Latinless, the inscription means, "This wine gladdens the heart."

Here are more of Eric's photographs of Mogarraz, which gladdened my heart, since there is still snow on the ground where I live:



Aetna 367 (tr. J. Wight Duff and Arnold M. Duff):
Do not let yourself be deceived by the blockish rabble's falsehood...

nec te decipiant stolidi mendacia vulgi...


The World, the Flesh, and the Devil

Augustine, Sermons 158.4 (Patrologia Latina, vol. 38, col. 864; tr. Edmund Hill):
There remains, however, the struggle with the flesh, there remains the struggle with the world, there remains the struggle with the devil.

restat tamen lucta cum carne, restat lucta cum mundo, restat lucta cum diabolo.
Is this the first occurrence of this unholy trinity? I don't have access to Siegfried Wenzel, "The Three Enemies of Man," Mediaeval Studies 29 (1967) 47–66, rpt. in his Elucidations: Medieval Poetry and Its Religious Backgrounds (Louvain: Peeters, 2010 = Synthema, 6), pp. 17-38.

I now see that Wenzel cites this passage on pp. 48-49.

Friday, March 29, 2024


Remedies for Hunger and Fatigue

Democritus, fragment 246 (tr. G.S. Kirk and J.E. Raven):
Service abroad teaches self-sufficiency; barley-bread and a straw mattress are the pleasantest medicines for hunger and fatigue.

ξενιτείη βίου αὐτάρκειαν διδάσκει· μᾶζα γὰρ καὶ στιβὰς λιμοῦ καὶ κόπου γλυκύτατα ἰάματα.
Related posts:



R. Renehan, "Shackleton Bailey and the Editing of Latin Poetry: A Latin Classic," Classical Philology 83.4 (October, 1988) 311-328 (p. 312, n. 2):
A fond fashion has arisen of attributing "courage" to an editor who prints departures from the vulgate, and I have seen the word used in a review in connection with the present edition. Let us have done with such language. The soldier who takes his bullet in the belly and not in the back is courageous; scholars with enough independence of thought to instruct a typesetter to print this word rather than that exhibit a different quality, which may or may not be a virtue depending upon the merits of the particular case.

Thursday, March 28, 2024


Diagnostic Conjectures

Hugh Lloyd-Jones, "Paul Maas," Blood for the Ghosts: Classical Influences in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982), pp. 215-218 (at 217-218):
Maas held strongly that it was better to make a wrong conjecture than to ignore a difficulty; he strongly upheld the value of the 'diagnostic conjecture' and the usefulness of the crux; and he was the sworn enemy of the lazy acquiescence in the anomalous or the excessive caution which many scholars dignify with the name of judgment.... His principles were exemplified in numerous conjectures and supplements whose average quality was very high indeed. At times his vigorous logic could carry him too far; but even the suggestions to which this applies had usually the value of drawing attention to a difficulty or of provoking curiosity as to why the author should have departed from his usual norm.


No Good Came of Their Lamenting

Homer, Odyssey 10.566-568 (tr. A.T. Murray):
So I spoke, and their spirit was broken within them,
and sitting down right where they were, they wept and tore their hair.
But no good came of their lamenting.

ὣς ἐφάμην, τοῖσιν δὲ κατεκλάσθη φίλον ἦτορ,
ἑζόμενοι δὲ κατ᾽ αὖθι γόων τίλλοντό τε χαίτας·
ἀλλ᾽ οὐ γάρ τις πρῆξις ἐγίγνετο μυρομένοισιν.


A Gentleman's Books

Austin Dobson (1840-1921), "A Gentleman of the Old School," Collected Poems, 9th ed. (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co. Ltd, 1914), pp. 9-13 (at 11-12):
We read—alas, how much we read!
The jumbled strifes of creed and creed
With endless controversies feed
                Our groaning tables;
His books—and they sufficed him—were
Cotton's "Montaigne," "The Grave" of Blair,
A "Walton"—much the worse for wear—
                And "Æsop's Fables."

One more,—"The Bible." Not that he
Had searched its page as deep as we;
No sophistries could make him see
                Its slender credit;
It may be that he could not count
The sires and sons to Jesse's fount,—
He liked the "Sermon on the Mount,"—
                And more, he read it.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024


A Misplaced Critical Note

Sophocles, Ajax, Electra, Oedipus Tyrannus. Edited and Translated by Hugh Lloyd-Jones (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994 = Loeb Classical Library, 20), p. 345 (Oedipus Tyrannus):
221 αὐτὸ lGγρp: αὐτός rpat
post hunc v. lacunam statuit Groeneboom; ex. gr. <πόλεως ἐπισπᾶν θανασίμους φόνου δίκας> supplere possis
The note about the lacuna is misplaced—it belongs after line 227. The mistake persists in the Digital Loeb Classical Library.




Red-figure krater by Euphronios, now in Munich, Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek 8935 (click once or twice to enlarge):
The letters ΟΠΟΛΛΟΝΣΕΓΕΚΑΙΜΑΚΑΙ (retrograde) come out of the mouth of the figure on the far right, whose name is Ekphantides.

See Emily Vermeule, "Fragments of a Symposion by Euphronios," Antike Kunst 8.1 (1965) 34-39 (at 38-39):
Sir John Beazley, who prefers the poem-fragment as a skolion, suggests filling in the first verse along these lines:
ὤπολλον σέ τε καὶ μάκαιραν αἰτῶ
with a mention of Artemis and Leto in the second verse22. There are, of course, various possibilities to play with; one might also consider
ὤπολλον σέ γε καὶ μάκαιραν ἁγνάν
Λάτω τὰν δίτοκον κάσιν τε χρύσαν
using scraps of Anakreon which have no context; or, for a glyconic hymn,
ὤπολλον σέ τε καὶ μάκαι-
ραν κάσιν πότνι' Ἄρτεμι.
22 Beazley ARV2 1619. Professor D.L. Page is quite sure that no line with this beginning is preserved in the literary tradition; see his Poetae Melici Graeci (1962) 622. The line does read ΓE, not TE.


Think Thoughts of Home

Homer, Odyssey 10.472-474 (tr. Peter Green):
Are you out of your mind? High time to think of your homeland
if it's truly your destiny to be saved and to return
to your high-roofed house and to your own native country.

δαιμόνι᾽, ἤδη νῦν μιμνήσκεο πατρίδος αἴης,
εἴ τοι θέσφατόν ἐστι σαωθῆναι καὶ ἱκέσθαι
οἶκον ἐς ὑψόροφον καὶ σὴν ἐς πατρίδα γαῖαν.
W.B. Stanford ad loc.:
δαιμόνιος is used of a person who is doing something so abnormal or incomprehensible as to suggest supernatural influence: sometimes almost 'Are you mad?'
I don't have access to Elisabeth Brunius-Nilsson, Δαιμόνιε: An Inquiry into a Mode of Apostrophe in Old Greek Literature (Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1955). See also H. Paul Brown, "A Pragmatic and Sociolinguistic Account of δαιµόνιε in Early Greek Epic," Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 51 (2011) 498–528.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024


The Power of Wine

Aristophanes, Knights 90-96 (tr. Benjamin Bickley Rogers):
And dare you rail at wine's inventiveness?
I tell you nothing has such go as wine.
Why, look you now; 'tis when men drink, they thrive,
Grow wealthy, speed their business, win their suits,
Make themselves happy, benefit their friends.
Go, fetch me out a stoup of wine, and let me
Moisten my wits, and utter something bright.

οἶνον σὺ τολμᾷς εἰς ἐπίνοιαν λοιδορεῖν;        90
οἴνου γὰρ εὕροις ἄν τι πρακτικώτερον;
ὁρᾷς, ὅταν πίνωσιν ἄνθρωποι τότε
πλουτοῦσι διαπράττουσι νικῶσιν δίκας
εὐδαιμονοῦσιν ὠφελοῦσι τοὺς φίλους.
ἀλλ᾽ ἐξένεγκέ μοι ταχέως οἴνου χοᾶ,        95
τὸν νοῦν ἵν᾽ ἄρδω καὶ λέγω τι δεξιόν.

90 ἐπίνοιαν codd.: ἀπόνοιαν Sylburg
Related posts:


Abstract versus Concrete

Kenneth Dover, ed., Plato, Symposium (1982; rpt. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), p. viii:
His distinctive values, attitudes, assumptions, cravings and passions are not mine, and for that reason I do not find his philosophical arguments even marginally persuasive. Much that is written about him is marked, in my view, by an uncritical enthusiasm for the abstract and immutable, as if such an enthusiasm always and necessarily afforded better access to the truth about man, nature and divinity than is afforded by a love of the particular, material and perishable. One consequence of this is that Plato is sometimes welcomed as an ally by people who would not like what they found if they attended less selectively and more precisely to what he actually says. Another consequence is that the Platonic Socrates is taken, in all seriousness, as if he were a man with a genuinely open and enquiring mind, and the quality of other Greek intellectuals, some of whom are best known to us through Plato's portrayal of them, is underrated.

Monday, March 25, 2024


The Study of Nature

Vergil, Georgics 2.475-486 (tr. L.P. Wilkinson):
As for me, above all else I would that the sweet Muses
whose devotee I am, smitten with a great desire,
should accept me and show me the stars of the sky in their courses,
the various eclipses of the sun and the travails of the moon,
whence come earthquakes, what force makes the seas swell high
to break their barriers and subside to their level again,
why winter's suns make such haste to dip beneath the Ocean,
or what it is that delays the lingering nights.
But if some sluggishness of wit denies me access to this sphere of nature,
may the countryside and the streams that water its valleys be my delight,
let me love the rivers and woods, careless of fame ...

me vero primum dulces ante omnia Musae,        475
quarum sacra fero ingenti percussus amore,
accipiant caelique vias et sidera monstrent,
defectus solis varios lunaeque labores;
unde tremor terris, qua vi maria alta tumescant
obicibus ruptis rursusque in se ipsa residant,        480
quid tantum Oceano properent se tingere soles
hiberni, vel quae tardis mora noctibus obstet.
sin has ne possim naturae accedere partis
frigidus obstiterit circum praecordia sanguis,
rura mihi et rigui placeant in vallibus amnes,        485
flumina amem silvasque inglorius...

476 percussus MPRrγ: perculsus M2ωγ1


Prayer to Pallas

Aristophanes, Knights 581-594 (tr. Alan H. Sommerstein):
Pallas, Guardian of the city,
Lady of the most sacred
of all lands, which excels
in war, in poetry
and in power:
come hither, bringing her
who in expeditions and battles
is our helper,
Victory, the companion of our choral songs,
who strives with us against our foes.
Come hither now and show thy face;
for on us must thou
at all costs bestow
victory, now if ever.

Ὦ πολιοῦχε Παλλάς, ὦ
τῆς ἱερωτάτης ἁπα-
σῶν πολέμῳ τε καὶ ποιη-
ταῖς δυνάμει θʼ ὑπερφερού-
σης μεδέουσα χώρας,        585
δεῦρʼ ἀφικοῦ λαβοῦσα τὴν
ἐν στρατιαῖς τε καὶ μάχαις
ἡμετέραν ξυνεργὸν
Νίκην, ἣ χορικῶν ἐστιν ἑταίρα
τοῖς τʼ ἐχθροῖσι μεθʼ ἡμῶν στασιάζει.        590
νῦν οὖν δεῦρο φάνηθι· δεῖ
γὰρ τοῖς ἀνδράσι τοῖσδε πά-
σῃ τέχνῃ πορίσαι σε νί-
κην, εἴπερ ποτέ, καὶ νῦν.

583 ποιηταῖς codd.: πολίταις Bentley: πόροισιν van Herwerden
589 χορικῶν codd.: Χαρίτων Wilamowitz
In line 592 Sommerstein's "us" is more literally "these men".

Robert Alexander Neil ad loc.:

Sunday, March 24, 2024


Nothing Better

Euripides, Orestes 1155-1156 (tr. Edward P. Coleridge):
Ah! there is nothing better than a trusty friend, neither wealth nor monarchy; a crowd of people is of no account in exchange for a noble friend.

οὐκ ἔστιν οὐδὲν κρεῖσσον ἢ φίλος σαφής,
οὐ πλοῦτος, οὐ τυραννίς· ἀλόγιστον δέ τι
τὸ πλῆθος ἀντάλλαγμα γενναίου φίλου.
M.L. West ad loc.
cf. HF 11125 with Bond's n., Soph. Phil. 672 f., Men. Dysc. 81 f. Denial of wealth and monarchy as the highest goods goes back to Archil. 19, cf. Sol. 24, 33, Eur. Med. 599 f., Hipp. 1013 ff., Ion 621-32, Phoen. 549 ff., etc.


Proof Against Enchantment

Homer, Odyssey 10.329 (Circe to Odysseus; tr. A.T. Murray):
Nay, but the mind in thy breast is one not to be beguiled.

σοὶ δέ τις ἐν στήθεσσιν ἀκήλητος νόος ἐστίν.
Alfred Heubeck ad loc.:
The line is modelled on Il. iii 63. Its authenticity has been disputed, both by Aristarchus and by modern critics, but there is no contradiction with 240, as often supposed. κηλέω is almost synonymous with θέλγω (cf. 213 n.; Odysseus' νόος remains ἀκήλητος in spite of the φάρμακα (318), unlike his companions', which Circe was able to bewitch (θέλγειν, κηλεῖν) but not destroy (it remains ἔμπεδος (240); cf. 235-42 n.).


Obscure Yet Intelligible

Augustine, Sermons 156.1 (Patrologia Latina, vol. 38, col. 849; tr. Edmund Hill):
The depths of meaning in the word of God are there to excite our eagerness to study, not to prevent us from understanding. If everything was locked up in riddles, there would be no clue to the opening up of obscure passages. Again, if everything was hidden, there would be nothing for the soul to derive nourishment from, and so gain the strength which would enable it to knock at the closed doors.

Verbi Dei altitudo exercet studium, non denegat intellectum. Si enim omnia clausa essent, nihil esset unde revelarentur obscura. Rursus si omnia tecta essent, non esset unde alimentum perciperet anima, et haberet vires quibus posset ad clausa pulsare.


Form of Address

Gilbert Highet (1906-1978), Explorations (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971), p. 9 (on Lord Acton):
It is touching to see him beginning his inaugural lecture, not with the conventional 'Gentlemen,' but with the more modest and friendly 'Fellow students.'

Saturday, March 23, 2024


A Useful German Word

Clive James (1939-2019), "Marcel Reich-Ranicki," Cultural Amnesia (2007; rpt. London: Picador, 2012), pp. 591-599 (at 597):
In a culture where the sublime has always seductively beckoned, his has been a useful corrective emphasis: a shift of direction towards talking turkey and away from Mumpitz, that useful German word for exalted twaddle.



Edward Kennard Rand (1871-1945), In Quest of Virgil's Birthplace (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1930), pp. 20-22, with notes on p. 157:
Moreover, we find a fruit market. A strange gleam comes into Pietro's eye as he steers towards a certain vender. Watermelons, yes, American watermelons! Not quite American, since they are not oblong, but round as a ball. The taste is identical, and most grateful after the journey of the day. The reader may not make them out in the view of the market here given, but if any doubt their existence, I can obtain a written certificate from Pietro. Watermelon is his favorite fruit. He knows when he wants it, which is always, and when and where he has had it.

As we crunch the cool and crimson liquidity, a sudden revelation occurs to me. Pietro's joy is not exceeded by my own. For I can correct all the commentators in the interpretation of a line of Virgil. In the preface to his description of that marvellous garden kept by an old man of Corycia on the banks of the Galaesus, the poet speaks of the cucumis that
                          Winding through the grass
Grows to a belly —22
the comfortable τέλος of that vegetable's activity. Following some interpreters, I had always translated cucumis by 'cucumber.' Others call it 'gourd.' Much better is Benoist, who declares, "Ce mot désigne ici toutes plantes du même genre, de melon aussi bien que la courge." But this definition is too inclusive. Who will deny that the word means specifically 'watermelon'?23 The truth came to me when Pietro gave us the Italian for 'watermelon,' namely cocomero. 'Cucumber' in Italian is cetriolo, quite a different affair. The watermelon is a native of Africa.23 The learned Naudin remarks that the culture of the melon in Asia is probably as ancient as that of all other alimentary vegetables and that the Greeks and the Romans were doubtless familiar with it, though some forms may have been described as cucumbers.25 Rather, let us say, cucumis in ancient as in modern Italy has never meant anything but watermelon, while in the Dark and Middle Ages, when the luscious fruit, like so many Pagan luxuries, probably disappeared, the barbarians of the North ludicrously misapplied the original name to an ignominious vegetable. The modern Italian for 'cucumber' doubtless comes from a vulgar Latin word, a degrading diminutive, citriolum, to which Classical authors like Cicero and Virgil did not condescend. The truth has been hidden all these years because no Northern editor of Virgil has ever visited the land of the poet's birth in the month when watermelons are ripe. But now a great light shines on an obscurity, a pleasant line of Virgil has acquired the dignity of epic, and American small boys, particularly those of African origin, like the watermelon itself, can now read the Georgics with some sympathy, knowing that their author, when very young, may well have put arms about the best of fruits, abstracted from his father's, or a neighbor's, garden, and have retired for a luscious revel under the shelter of a spreading beech. All this I endeavored to make clear to Pietro, now at work on his third slice, and was gratified to hear him mumble, "Si, Signore, senza dubbio."

22(21). Georgics, IV, 121:
                                           tortusque per herbam
cresceret in ventrem cucumis.
23 (21). If tortus refers to the shape of the melon, it may be the cocomero serpentino as Tenore supposes. See Conington on the passage (after Keightley). I agree, however, with those, like Conington, who understand tortus to describe the vine's meandering through the grass.

24 (21). See L.H. Bailey, Cyclopaedia of American Horticulture, New York, VI, (1906) 1967.

25 (21). Quoted in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition (1911), XVIII, 98. The most recent discussion is that of R. Billiard, in L'Agriculture dans l'Antiquité d'après les Gêorgiques de Virgile (Paris, Boccard, 1928), p. 477. He inclines to believe, on grounds that appear to me inconclusive, that the melon came to Italy somewhat after Virgil's time.
There is no mention of Rand's interpretation in R.A.B. Mynors' commentary on Georgics. I don't see Vergil cited in the Oxford Latin Dictionary s.v. cucumis, a strange omission. See Charles Anthon, Eclogues and Georgics of Virgil (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1850), p. 408:
The melon is meant here, not the cucumber.

Friday, March 22, 2024



Homer, Odyssey 10.72-75 (Aeolus to Odysseus; tr. A.T. Murray):
Begone from our island with speed, thou vilest of all that live.
In no wise may I help or send upon his way
that man who is hated of the blessed gods.
Begone, for thou comest hither as one hated of the immortals.

ἔρρ᾽ ἐκ νήσου θᾶσσον, ἐλέγχιστε ζωόντων·
οὐ γάρ μοι θέμις ἐστὶ κομιζέμεν οὐδ᾽ ἀποπέμπειν
ἄνδρα τόν, ὅς κε θεοῖσιν ἀπέχθηται μακάρεσσιν·
ἔρρε, ἐπεὶ ἄρα θεοῖσιν ἀπεχθόμενος τόδ᾽ ἱκάνεις.
In line 75 Murray prints ἄρα θεοῖσιν but translates the variant ἀθανάτοισιν, a rare slip. The mistake persists in George E. Dimock's revision of Murray.

According to Google, George E. Dimock died in Pindale, Myanmar (click once or twice to enlarge):
Actually he died in Pinedale, Wyoming.



A Greek Word of Uncertain Meaning

R.D. Dawe on Sophocles, Oedipus Rex 177 (LSJ definitions in square brackets added by me):
ἀμαιμάκετος is a Homeric word, of uncertain meaning, used again at Oed. Col. 127. It has been linked with words as diverse as αἷμα [blood], μάχη [battle], μῆκος [length] and μαιμάω [be very eager, quiver with eagerness], and when used of the Chimaera or her πῦρ [fire] was glossed by φοβερός [fearful], χαλεπός [difficult], ἀκαταπόνητος [inexhaustible] and ἀπροσπέλαστον [unapproachable]. Chantraine calls it 'terme poétique traditionnel et expressif dont le sens originel est ignoré de ceux qui l'utilisent'.
Cambridge Greek Lexicon:
ἀμαιμάκετος η ov (also ος ov) ep.adj. [pop.etym.: intensv.prfx., μαιμάω; also privatv.prfx., μάχομαι] (of the Chimaira, Nemean lion, Erinyes) app. formidable, awesome, irresistible Il. S. Theoc.; (of Poseidon’s trident, a spear) Pi. AR.; (of fire) Hes. S.; (of the sea) Hes. Pi.; (of the motion of the Clashing Rocks) Pi.; (of a goddess's might) Pi.; (of strife) B.; (of a ship's mast) perh. mighty or solid Od.
Franco Montanari, The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek:
ἀμαιμάκετος -η -οv [see μαιμάω?] irresistible, invincible IL. 6.179 (Chimera) PIND. P. 1.14 (sea) SOPH. O.T. 177 (fire), O.C. 127 (Furies) etc.; νεΐκος ἀ. persistent strife BACCHYL. Epin. 11.641 || strong, firm: ἱστόν ἀμαιμάκετον νηός the solid mast of the ship OD. 14.311.
ἀμαιμάκετος , η, ον, also ος, ον Hes.Sc.207:— irresistible, old Ep. word, also in Lyr. and Trag. (lyr.); of Chimaera, Il.6.179, 16.329; of fire vomited by her, Hes.Th.319; of fire generally, S.OT177; θάλασσα, πόντος, Hes.Sc.207, Pi.P.1.14; of ship's mast, proof against any strain, Od.14.311; of the trident, Pi.I.8(7).37; ἀ. μένος, κινηθμός, P.3.33, 4.208; νεῖκος stubborn, B.10.64; of the Furies, S.OC127; ἀ. βυθοῖς in unfathomable depths, IG3.900. [Usu. derived fr. ἀ- intens., μαιμάω, i.e. furious; but apptly. connected with ἄμαχος by Poets.]
Hans Christian Albertz in Lexikon des frühgriechischen Epos:
Diccionario Griego–Español:

Thursday, March 21, 2024


On Calling a Slave a Slave

S. Douglas Olson, "Philological Notes on the Letter Lambda in a New Greek-English Dictionary: II. λασιόκωφος - λημψαπόδοσις," Hyperboreus 29.2 (2023) 299-325 (pp. 301-302, n. 3, discussing λάτρις):
It is disturbing to find words such as this still glossed "servant", suggesting voluntary paid service by free persons; cf. δοῦλος, glossed "servant, slave", in that order. For all their talk of freedom and the like, the Greeks had slaves, and large numbers of them, and they often did not treat them well. This is a conspicuous black mark on their record as a civilization — which is not to say that our own is likely to win any prizes — and lexicographic white-washing of this sort does no service to anyone.


The Happiness of Learning

Gilbert Highet (1906-1978), The Immortal Profession: The Joys of Teaching and Learning (New York: Weybright and Talley, 1976), p. 19:
The pleasures of learning are indeed pleasures. But in fact the word should be changed. The true name is happiness. There are three other types of happiness, superior to that of learning: the happiness of love fulfilled; the happiness of serving mankind; and the happiness of creation. Though it is beneath these, learning is still a great happiness, and can be a help toward the attainment of those others; and it is an essential part of a complete life. No learner has ever found that he ran short of subjects to explore. But many people who avoided learning, or abandoned it, find that life is drained dry. They spend thirty years in a club chair looking glumly out at the sand and the ocean; in a hotel lounge gossiping about the other inmates; in a porch swing waiting for somebody to drive down the road. But that is not how to live. The chief aim of education is to show you, after you make a livelihood, how to enjoy living; and you can live longest and best and most rewardingly by attaining and preserving the happiness of learning.



With the help of the gods, the Syracusans under Hiero II prepare to drive the Carthaginians out of Sicily (Theocritus, Idylls 16.76-97, tr. A.S.F. Gow):
Even now beneath the setting sun the Phoenicians
that dwell in the outmost skirts of Libya tremble for fear;
even now Syracusans grip their spears by the middle
and charge their arms with shields of wicker,
while Hiero, in their midst, girds himself like the heroes of old
with crest of horsehair shadowing his helm.
Ah Zeus, our father far renowned, and Lady Athena,
and thou, Maiden, to whom, with thy mother, has fallen
the mighty city of the rich Ephyraeans by the waters of Lysimeleia,
grant that ill constraints may drive our enemies from the island over the
Sardinian sea with tidings of the death of dear ones
to children and wives, messengers easy to number from out that host.
Grant that towns which the hands of foes have wasted utterly
be peopled again by their ancient masters.
May these till fertile fields, while sheep in countless
thousands grow fat upon the pastures
and bleat over the plain, and cattle gathering
in their herds to the homestead speed the twilight traveller on his way.
May the fallows be worked for seed-time while the cicada
overhead, watching the shepherds in the sun, makes music
in the foliage of the trees. May spiders spin their
delicate webs over armour, and the cry of onset be no more even named.

ἤδη νῦν Φοίνικες ὑπ᾽ ἠελίῳ δύνοντι
οἰκεῦντες Λιβύας ἄκρον σφυρὸν ἐρρίγασιν.
ἤδη βαστάζουσι Συρακόσιοι μέσα δοῦρα
ἀχθόμενοι σακέεσσι βραχίονας ἰτεΐνοισιν·
ἐν δ᾽ αὐτοῖς ῾Ιέρων προτέροις ἴσος ἡρώεσσι        80
ζώννυται, ἵππειαι δὲ κόρυν σκεπάουσιν ἔθειραι.
αἰ γὰρ Ζεῦ κύδιστε πάτερ καὶ πότνι᾽ ᾿Αθάνα
κούρη θ᾽, ἣ σὺν ματρὶ πολυκλήρων ᾿Εφυραίων
εἴληχας μέγα ἄστυ παρ᾽ ὕδασι Λυσιμελείας,
ἐχθροὺς ἐκ νάσοιο κακὰ πέμψειεν ἀνάγκα        85
Σαρδόνιον κατὰ κῦμα, φίλων μόρον ἀγγέλλοντας
τέκνοις ἠδ᾽ ἀλόχοισιν, ἀριθμητοὺς ἀπὸ πολλῶν·
ἄστεά τε προτέροισι πάλιν ναίοιτο πολίταις,
δυσμενέων ὅσα χεῖρες ἐλωβήσαντο κατάκρας·
ἀγροὺς δ᾽ ἐργάζοιντο τεθαλότας: αἱ δ᾽ ἀνάριθμοι        90
μήλων χιλιάδες βοτάνᾳ διαπιανθεῖσαι
ἀμπεδίον βληχοῖντο, βόες δ᾽ ἀγελαδὸν ἐς αὖλιν
ἐρχόμεναι σκνιφαῖον ἐπισπεύδοιεν ὁδίταν·
νειοὶ δ᾽ ἐκπονέοιντο ποτὶ σπόρον, ἁνίκα τέττιξ
ποιμένας ἐνδίους πεφυλαγμένος ἔνδοθι δένδρων        95
ἀχεῖ ἐν ἀκρεμόνεσσιν: ἀράχνια δ᾽ εἰς ὅπλ᾽ ἀράχναι
λεπτὰ διαστήσαιντο, βοᾶς δ᾽ ἔτι μηδ᾽ ὄνομ᾽ εἴη.
83 κούρη θ᾽, ἣ σὺν ματρὶ (the Maiden with her mother) = Persephone and Demeter

Wednesday, March 20, 2024


Two Habits

Kenneth Dover (1920-2010), Marginal Comment, edd. Stephen Halliwell and Christopher Stray (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2023), p. 96 (chapter 9, footnotes omitted):
My tutor in ancient history was Russell Meiggs, who made no allowance at all for the fact that we had all been away from academic work for several years. In that he was right, for once excuses are allowed they begin to breed. His comments on our essays were always penetrating, sometimes brutal; it was several weeks before I wrung a word of praise from him, and the end of term before I discovered that he regarded me highly. This would have been a pleasing recompense for working a seventy-hour week, if recompense had been needed, but the intellectual excitement of immersion in the history of fifth-century Athens — the first volume of Gomme's Historical Commentary on Thucydides had just been published — was its own reward. Meiggs combined an expertise in documentary inscriptions with a down-to-earth curiosity about how things really worked, and how people really felt, in the ancient world. He had no time for the kind of solution of historical problems which shuffles the ingredients of a problem into an ingenious pattern and turns history into an intellectual game. The seed of two habits was planted in me by Meiggs more firmly than either of us realised at the time. One was: on any question in Greek history or the Greek language, go first to inscriptions and only after that to literature. The general practice among ancient historians in the English-speaking world had been to treat Herodotus, Thucydides and Xenophon as 'authorities' and inscriptions as an optional side-dish. I preferred to begin with the inscriptions, construct historical hypotheses to account for this stone, bearing these words, found here, and then to see how the historiography of the time fitted. Students of the Greek language mostly ignored the existence of inscriptions, and even in my own time good scholars have made untrue statements through failure to look in the right places. The second thing I learned from Meiggs was never for a moment to forget that the people whose activities I was studying were real, and that I must make every possible effort to put myself into their place.


A Swollen Head

Augustine, Sermons 142.5 (Patrologia Latina, vol. 38, cols. 780-781; tr. Edmund Hill):
However, your head was swollen with pride, and the very swelling made it impossible for you to come back through the narrow gate. The one who became the way cries out, Enter by the narrow door (Mt 7:13). You make an effort to enter, your swollen head prevents you; and your efforts are all the more damaging, the more your swollen condition gets in the way. The door's narrowness irritates your swollen head, and the irritation makes it swell all the more. If you go on swelling up, when will you ever get in? So you must get the swelling down, if you are keen to enter.

But how are you to get your head unswollen? You must accept the medicine of humility. To counter the swelling, you must drink a bitter, but wholesome draft; you must drink the draft of humility. Why should you constrict yourself? Your bulk doesn't let you through, a bulk that's swollen, not just big; if it's big, it's solid; if it's swollen it's just so much hot air.

Tumuerat autem superbia, et ipso tumore per angustum redire non poterat. Clamat ille, qui factus est via: Intrate per angustam portam. Conatur ingredi, impedit tumor; et tanto magis perniciose conatur, quanto magis impedit tumor. Tumidum enim vexat angustia; vexatus autem amplius tumebit. Amplius tumens, quando intrabit? Ergo detumescat, si cupit ingredi.

Unde autem detumescat? Accipiat humilitatis medicamentum. Bibat contra tumorem poculum amarum, sed salubre; bibat poculum humilitatis. Quid se artat? Non sinit moles, non magna, sed tumida; magnitudo enim soliditatem habet, tumor inflationem.
Hill changed the third person to the second.


The Seikilos Inscription

Inscription from Tralles (1st century AD), now in Copenhagen, National Museum of Denmark (Inv. 14897), Greek text from Josef Stauber, Steinepigramme aus dem griechischen Osten, Bd. I: Die Westküste Kleinasiens von Knidos bis Ilion (Stuttgart; B.G. Teubner, 1998), pp. 207-208 (number 02/02/07) = Werner Peek, Griechische Vers-Inschriften, Vol. I: Grab-Epigramme (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1955), p. 609 (number 1955), tr. Robert A. Rohland, Carpe Diem: The Poetics of Presence in Greek and Latin Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2023), p. 2:
I, the stone, am an image. Seikilos placed me here as
long-lasting sign of immortal remembrance.

As long as you're alive, shine (?), don't be sad at all;
life is short, time asks for its due.

Seikilos, son of Euterpes; during his lifetime.

εἰκὼν ἡ λίθος | εἰμί· τίθησι μὲ | Σείκιλος ἔνθα
μνήμης ἀθανάτου | σῆμα πολυχρόνιον.

ὅσον ζῇς, φαίνου· |
μηδὲν ὅλως σὺ | λυποῦ·
πρὸς ὀλί|γον ἐστὶ τὸ ζῆν, |
τὸ τέλος ὁ χρό|νος ἀπαιτεῖ. |

Σείκιλος Εὐτέρ(που)· | ζῇ.
Translation of the song portion by M.L. West, Ancient Greek Music (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), p. 301:
While you're alive, shine, man,
don't be the least bit blue.
Life's for a little span;
Time demands its due.
Image of the stone from Stauber, p. 207 (I can't find an image at
Modern musical notation by Armand D'Angour, in Tom Phillips and Armand D'Angour, edd., Music, Text, and Culture in Ancient Greece (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), p. 69:
Performance by David Creese at

Tuesday, March 19, 2024


No Greater Good

Hegesippus, fragment 2 Kassel and Austin (Poetae Comici Graeci, vol. V, p. 551; tr. S. Douglas Olson):
When someone demanded that the wise Epicurus
tell him what "the Good" they're
constantly looking for is, he said it was pleasure.
Well done, best and wisest!
There's no greater good than chewing;
the Good's an attribute of pleasure.

Ἐπίκουρος ὁ σοφὸς ἀξιώσαντός τινος
εἰπεῖν πρὸς αὐτὸν ὅ τι ποτ᾿ ἐστὶ τἀγαθόν,
ὃ διὰ τέλους ζητοῦσιν, εἶπεν ἡδονήν.
εὖ γ᾿, ὦ κράτιστ᾿ ἄνθρωπε καὶ σοφώτατε·
τοῦ γὰρ μασᾶσθαι κρεῖττον οὐκ ἔστ᾿ οὐδὲ ἓν        5
ἀγαθόν· πρόσεστιν ἡδονῇ γὰρ τἀγαθόν.

3 εἶπεν Casaubon: εἰπεῖν codd.
Cf. Epicurus, fragment 409 Usener (Epicurea, pp. 278-279).



Kathleen M. Lynch, The Symposium in Context: Pottery from a Late Archaic House near the Athenian Agora (Princeton: The American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2011 = Hesperia, supplement 46), Illustration 6:



Homer, Odyssey 10.27.(tr. Richmond Lattimore):
For we were ruined by our own folly.

αὐτῶν γὰρ ἀπωλόμεθ᾽ ἀφραδίῃσιν.

Monday, March 18, 2024


A Time to Keep Silence, and a Time to Speak

Euripides, Orestes 638-639 (tr. David Kovacs):
That is good advice. Speak. Sometimes speech is better than silence, sometimes silence than speech.

λέγ᾽· εὖ γὰρ εἶπας. ἔστι δ᾽ οὗ σιγὴ λόγου
κρείσσων γένοιτ᾽ ἄν, ἔστι δ᾽ οὗ σιγῆς λόγος.



Walter Scott (1771-1832), "Introductory Epistle," The Fortunes of Nigel:
Nay, I will venture to say, that no work of imagination, proceeding from the mere consideration of a certain sum of copy-money, ever did, or ever will, succeed. So the lawyer who pleads, the soldier who fights, the physician who prescribes, the clergyman—if such there be—who preaches, without any zeal for their profession, without any sense of its dignity, and merely on account of their fee, pay, or stipend, degrade themselves to the rank of sordid mechanics.


Cultural Appropriation

Athenaeus 6.273d-e (tr. S. Douglas Olson):
Because it is a mark of intelligent men to maintain the ancient practices that allowed them to overcome other nations in war, while simultaneously adopting anything good or useful that their defeated enemies had worth imitating. This is what the Romans did in ancient times: they preserved their traditional practices, while at the same time taking over from the people they conquered any remnant of good behavior they discovered there, leaving them what was worthless, so they would never be able to recover their losses.

συνετῶν γάρ ἐστιν ἀνδρῶν ἐμμένειν τοῖς παλαιοῖς ζηλώμασιν δι᾽ ὧν στρατευόμενοι κατεστρέφοντο τοὺς ἄλλους, λαμβάνοντες ἅμα τοῖς δοριαλώτοις καὶ εἴ τι χρήσιμον καὶ καλὸν ὑπῆρχε παρ᾽ ἐκείνοις εἰς μίμησιν: ὅπερ ἐν τοῖς πάλαι χρόνοις ἐποίουν οἱ Ῥωμαῖοι. διαφυλάττοντες γὰρ ἅμα καὶ τὰ πάτρια μετῆγον παρὰ τῶν χειρωθέντων εἲ τι λείψανον καλῆς ἀσκήσεως εὕρισκον, τὰ ἀχρηστα ἐκείνοις ἐῶντες, ὅπως μηδ᾽ εἰς ἀνάκτησιν ὧν ἀπέβαλον ἐλθεῖν ποτε δυνηθῶσι.
Cf. Sallust, The War with Catiline 51.37-38 (reporting a speech by Caesar; tr. J.C. Rolfe):
Our ancestors, Fathers of the Senate, were never lacking either in wisdom or courage, and yet pride did not keep them from adopting foreign institutions, provided they were honourable. They took their offensive and defensive weapons from the Samnites, the badges of their magistrates for the most part from the Etruscans. In fine, whatever they found suitable among allies or foes, they put in practice at home with the greatest enthusiasm, preferring to imitate rather than envy the successful.

maiores nostri, patres conscripti, neque consili neque audaciae umquam eguere; neque illis superbia obstat, quo minus aliena instituta, si modo proba erant, imitarentur. arma atque tela militaria ab Samnitibus, insignia magistratuum ab Tuscis pleraque sumpserunt. postremo, quod ubique apud socios aut hostis idoneum videbatur, cum summo studio domi exsequebantur: imitari quam invidere bonis malebant.


Prayer for Plenty

Horace, Carmen Saeculare 29-32 (tr. C.E. Bennett):
Bountiful in crops and cattle, may Mother Earth deck Ceres with a crown of corn; and may Jove's wholesome rains and breezes give increase to the harvest!

fertilis frugum pecorisque Tellus
spicea donet Cererem corona;        30
nutriant fetus et aquae salubres
    et Iovis aurae.
Paul Shorey and Gordon J. Laing ad loc.:
29. fertilis frugum: so Livy, 5.34.2, Gallia ... frugum hominumque fertilis fuit. Cf. 4.6.39; and, for the blessings invoked, cf. Aesch. Suppl. 689-692; Eumen. 924-926, 938 sqq.; Psalms 94. 13. — tellus: a black sow was offered to Terra Mater on the third night [of the Ludi Saeculares].

30. spicea ... corona: cf. Δηοῖ τῇ σταχυοστεφάνῳ, Anth. Pal. 6.104.8; cf. Tibull. 1.1.15, flava Ceres tibi sit nostro de rure corona | Spicea. (At the Ambarvalia, see Pater, Marius, Chap. I.). Cf. Warton, First of April 'Fancy ... see Ceres grasp her crown of corn | And Plenty load her ample horn'; Hamlet, 5.2, 'As Peace should still her wheaten garland wear.'

31-32. cf. Catull. 62.41, (flos) quem mulcent aurae, firmat sol, educat imber. — Iovis: cf. 1.1.25. n.; Epode 2.29. — fetus: here crops.
Line 29 is quoted on an Italian stamp celebrating the 2000th aniversary of Horace's birth:

Sunday, March 17, 2024


Question the World

Augustine, Sermons 141.2 (Patrologia Latina, vol. 38, col. 776; tr. Edmund Hill):
Question the world, the furniture of the heavens, the brightness and arrangement of the stars, the sun providing for the day, the moon which comforts the night; question the earth bearing its yield of herbs and trees, full of animals, completely furnished in every respect; question the sea, full of so many and such a variety of swimming creatures; question the air, pulsing with so many flying things; question them all, and see if they don't answer you, after a fashion in their own way, "God made us." Serious and great-minded philosophers have inquired into these things, and have come to a knowledge of the artist through the works of art.

Interroga mundum, ornatum caeli, fulgorem dispositionemque siderum, solem diei sufficientem, lunam noctis solatium; interroga terram fructificantem herbis et lignis, animalibus plenam, hominibus exornatam; interroga mare, quantis et qualibus natatilibus plenum; interroga aera, quantis volatilibus viget; interroga omnia, et vide si non sensu suo tamquam tibi respondent: Deus nos fecit. Haec et philosophi nobiles quaesierunt, et ex arte artificem cognoverunt.
Compare Augustine, Confessions 10.6.9 (tr. E.B. Pusey):
I asked the earth, and it answered me, "I am not He;" and whatsoever are in it confessed the same. I asked the sea and the deeps, and the living creeping things, and they answered, "We are not Thy God, seek above us." I asked the moving air; and the whole air with his inhabitants answered, "Anaximenes was deceived, I am not God." I asked the heavens, sun, moon, stars, "Nor (say they) are we the God whom thou seekest." And I replied unto all the things which encompass the door of my flesh: "Ye have told me of my God, that ye are not He; tell me something of Him." And they cried out with a loud voice, "He made us."

interrogavi terram, et dixit, 'non sum.' et quaecumque in eadem sunt, idem confessa sunt. interrogavi mare et abyssos et reptilia animarum vivarum, et responderunt, 'non sumus deus tuus; quaere super nos.' interrogavi auras flabiles, et inquit universus aer cum incolis suis, 'fallitur Anaximenes; non sum deus.' interrogavi caelum, solem, lunam, stellas: 'neque nos sumus deus, quem quaeris,' inquiunt. et dixi omnibus his quae circumstant fores carnis meae, 'dicite mihi de deo meo, quod vos non estis, dicite mihi de illo aliquid,' et exclamaverunt voce magna, 'ipse fecit nos.'


My Own Country

Allan Cunningham (1784-1842), "It's Hame, and It's Hame," Poems and Songs, ed. Peter Cunningham (London: John Murray, 1847), pp. 25-26:
It's hame, and it's hame, hame fain wad I be,
An' it's hame, hame, hame, to my ain countree!
When the flower is i' the bud, and the leaf is on the tree,
The lark shall sing me hame in my ain countree;
It's hame, and it's hame, hame fain wad I be,
And it's hame, hame, hame, to my ain countree!

The green leaf o' loyaltie's beginning for to fa',
The bonny white rose it is withering an' a';
But I'll water 't wi' the blude of usurping tyrannie,
An' green it will grow in my ain countree.
It's hame, and it's hame, hame fain wad I be,
An' it's hame, hame, hame, to my ain countree!

There's naught now frae ruin my country can save,
But the keys o' kind heaven to open the grave,
That a' the noble martyrs who died for loyaltie,
May rise again and fight for their ain countree.
It's hame, and it's hame, hame fain wad I be,
An' it's hame, hame, hame, to my ain countree!

The great now are gane, a' who ventured to save,
The new grass is springing on the tap o' their grave;
But the sun thro' the mirk blinks blythe in my ee:
'I'll shine on ye yet in your ain countree.'
It's hame, and it's hame, hame fain wad I be,
An' it's hame, hame, hame, to my ain countree!

Saturday, March 16, 2024



Roberto Calasso (1941-2021), The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, tr. Tim Parks (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993), p. 103:
Every notion of progress is refuted by the existence of the Iliad. The perfection of the first step makes any idea of progressive ascension ridiculous.


The Dark Side

Craig Simpson, "British countryside can evoke ‘dark nationalist’ feelings in paintings, warns museum," Telegraph (March 14, 2024):
The Fitzwilliam Museum has suggested that paintings of the British countryside evoke dark “nationalist feelings”.


A sign for the Nature gallery states: “Landscape paintings were also always entangled with national identity.

“The countryside was seen as a direct link to the past, and therefore a true reflection of the essence of a nation.

“Paintings showing rolling English hills or lush French fields reinforced loyalty and pride towards a homeland.

“The darker side of evoking this nationalist feeling is the implication that only those with a historical tie to the land have a right to belong.”
Roger Scruton (1944-2020), England and the Need for Nations (London: Civitas, 2006), pp. 15-16:
To put the matter simply: nations are defined not by kinship or religion but by a homeland. National loyalty is founded in the love of place, of the customs and traditions that have been inscribed in the landscape and of the desire to protect these good things through a common law and a common loyalty. The art and literature of the nation is an art and literature of settlement, a celebration of all that attaches the place to the people and the people to the place. This you find in Shakespeare's history plays, in the novels of Austen, Eliot and Hardy, in the music of Elgar and Vaughan-Williams, in the art of Constable and Crome, in the poetry of Wordsworth and Tennyson. And you find it in the art and literature of every nation that has defined itself as a nation. Listen to Sibelius and an imaginative vision of Finland unfolds before your inner ear; read Mickiewicz's Pan Tadeusz and old Lithuania welcomes you home; look at the paintings of Corot and Cézanne, and it is France that invites your eye. Russian national literature is about Russia; Manzoni's I promessi sposi is about resurgent Italy; Lorca's poetry about Spain, and so on.
John Constable (1776-1837), Parham's Mill, Gillingham, Dorset (Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, accession number 2291):


Cure for Dislocation

Cato, On Agriculture 160 (tr. William Davis Hooper, rev. Harrison Boyd Ash):
Any kind of dislocation may be cured by the following charm: Take a green reed four or five feet long and split it down the middle, and let two men hold it to your hips. Begin to chant: "motas uaeta daries dardares astataries dissunapiter" and continue until they meet. Brandish a knife over them, and when the reeds​ meet so that one touches the other, grasp with the hand and cut right and left. If the pieces are applied to the dislocation or the fracture, it will heal. And none the less chant every day, and, in the case of a dislocation, in this manner, if you wish: "huat haut haut istasis tarsis ardannabou dannaustra."

Luxum siquod est, hac cantione sanum fiet. Harundinem prende tibi viridem P. IIII aut quinque longam, mediam diffinde, et duo homines teneant ad coxendices. Incipe cantare: "motas uaeta daries dardares astataries dissunapiter," usque dum coeant. Ferrum insuper iactato. Ubi coierint et altera alteram tetigerint, id manu prehende et dextra sinistra praecide, ad luxum aut ad fracturam alliga, sanum fiet. Et tamen cotidie cantato et luxato vel hoc modo: "huat haut haut istasis tarsis ardannabou dannaustra."
See also H.L. Mencken, "Chiropractic," Baltimore Evening Sun (December 8, 1924), rpt. in his Prejudices, Sixth Series (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1927), pp. 217-227.

Friday, March 15, 2024



David Kovacs, The Heroic Muse: Studies in the Hippolytus and Hecuba of Euripides (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987), p. 24, with note on p. 125:
Consider the implications of the words "smug" and "self-satisfied." Their presuppositions are thoroughly Christian. We have no right to be satisfied with ourselves, Christian moralists tell us, since we are fallen and sinful creatures. Such meritorious actions as we perform are deeply flawed, as we see when we examine our motivations. And even if we possess genuine virtues, to think about them with satisfaction is to incur the sin of pride. Merely to state these presuppositions is to show how un-Greek they are. What Greek in classical literature ever expresses hesitancy about taking pleasure in good qualities he actually possesses or feels obliged to meditate on his shortcomings? This is not a question that admits very easily of a detailed philological study, and the rhetorical question above is an appeal to intuition. But how many words would it take to translate "smug" into classical Greek? Could it even be done?4

4 S.C. Woodhouse, An English-Greek Dictionary (London 1910), gives for 'self-complacent' χαῦνος, which means 'foolish', 'mistaken about one's merits' (cf. Aristotle EN 1123b8), a rather different idea. Nor will σεμνός translate 'smug', as one reader suggested.


A Miracle

Pherecrates, fragment 113 Kassel and Austin, lines 32-3 (Poetae Comici Graeci, vol. VII, p. 159; tr. S. Douglas Olson):
And whenever someone ate or drank any of this food,
twice as much of it was immediately there again.

καὶ τῶνδ᾽ ἑκάστοτ᾽ εἰ φάγοι τις ἢ πίοι,
διπλάσι᾽ ἐγίγνετ᾽ εὐθὺς ἐξ ἀρχῆς πάλιν.
Matthew 14:19-21 (KJV):
[19] And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

[20] And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.

[21] And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.

[19] καὶ κελεύσας τοὺς ὄχλους ἀνακλιθῆναι ἐπὶ τοῦ χόρτου, λαβὼν τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας, ἀναβλέψας εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν εὐλόγησεν καὶ κλάσας ἔδωκεν τοῖς μαθηταῖς τοὺς ἄρτους οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ τοῖς ὄχλοις.

[20] καὶ ἔφαγον πάντες καὶ ἐχορτάσθησαν, καὶ ἦραν τὸ περισσεῦον τῶν κλασμάτων δώδεκα κοφίνους πλήρεις.

[21] οἱ δὲ ἐσθίοντες ἦσαν ἄνδρες ὡσεὶ πεντακισχίλιοι χωρὶς γυναικῶν καὶ παιδίων.

Thursday, March 14, 2024



Diodorus of Sinope, fragment 2 Kassel and Austin, lines 35-40 (Poetae Comici Graeci, vol. V, pp. 28-29; tr. S. Douglas Olson):
When someone burps in their direction
after he eats radishes or rotten sheatfish,
they insist he's had violets and roses for lunch.
And if the host is lying on a couch with one of them
and lets a fart, the other guy leans over to sniff it and begs to be told:
"Where do you get that incense from?"

                                    οἷς ἐπειδὰν προσερύγῃ
ῥαφανῖδας καὶ σαπρὸν σίλουρον καταφαγών,
ἴα καὶ ῥόδα φασὶν αὐτὸν ἠριστηκέναι.
ἐπὰν δ' ἀποπάρδῃ μετά τινος κατακείμενος
τούτων, προσάγων τὴν ῥῖνα δεῖθ' αὑτῷ φράσαι·
"πόθεν τὸ θυμίαμα τοῦτο λαμβάνεις;"
The same, tr. Charles Burton Gulick:
When a patron, after eating radishes or a stale sheat-fish, belches in their faces, the flatterers say that he must have lunched on violets and roses. And when the patron breaks wind as he lies next to one of these fellows, the latter applies his nose and begs him to tell him, "Where do you buy that incense?"
Cf. the euphemistic translation of C.D. Yonge:
So that if any one should eat a radish,
Or stinking shad, they'd take their oaths at once
That he had eaten lilies, roses, violets;
And that if any odious smell should rise,
They'd ask where you did get such lovely scents.



Clever Brains

Peter Green, From Ikaria to the Stars: Classical Mythification, Ancient and Modern (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2004),p. 221:
Clever brains are far from indifferent to the lust for power: they enjoy bossing the world for its own good, and have no shortage of blueprints from which to work. Further, the habit of thinking exclusively in abstract terms (as revolutionaries and authoritarians throughout history have demonstrated in horrifying detail) anesthetizes one’s mind against the raw realities of life and death. No accident that both Robespierre and Lenin killed human beings like flies in pursuit of theoretical ideals.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024



Augustine, Sermons 140.6 (Patrologia Latina, vol. 38, col. 775; tr. Edmund Hill, with his note):
The gospel of John puts our minds through their paces, planes them smooth and defleshes17 them, to make sure we think about God in a spiritual, not a fleshly, material kind of way.

17. Excarnat, possibly a word he invented himself. It is not given in Lewis and Short's Latin Dictionary.

Exercet mentes Evangelium Ioannis, limat et excarnat, ut de Deo non carnaliter, sed spiritaliter sapiamus.
He didn't invent the word. See Thesaurus Linguae Latinae s.v. excarno (5,2:1203):
See also Alexander Souter, A Glossary of Later Latin to 600 A.D. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1949), p. 133:
excarno, deprive of flesh (SS. Ezech. 24. 4 cod. Wirc.); weaken (ZENO 1. 12. 8); cut off goose-flesh (CHIRON 575); rid of fleshly characteristics (AVG. c. Arrian. 14. 9, serm. 140. 6).


Some Aphorisms of Ritschl

Basil L. Gildersleeve, "Friedrich Ritschl," American Journal of Philology 5.3 (1884) 339-355 (at 349-350):
Some of the aphorisms, mere memoranda that have been found among his early papers, show that the young critic had clear notions of his work. So he exacts "preliminary knowledge," he would not have the student rush into textual criticism without training in language, without full acquaintance with the theme. "The opinions of the predecessors must be known." Hundreds of emendations are put forward anew, and that not by mean men and ignorant novices, but by the lights of our profession: not from wilful dishonesty, but simply in a spirit of vanity and laziness. "No prejudices." "Fix clearly in your eye what you are after." "Don't be satisfied with half notions, squinting thoughts. Penetrate into the heart of the matter with your interpretation." "Don't glide over what you don't understand." "Don't admit to yourself that there is more than one right." "Distinguish sharply between the possible and the impossible." "Cultivate the feeling of truth." (Bentley being the model held up.) "Never grow weary in trying to find ways." "Don't try to explain everything." "Don't go into criticism until you exhaust hermeneutics." "Hold the mean between audacity and timidity."

All self-evident, you say, but none the less necessary. These rules are violated at every turn to-day.


Guernica regrets having published this piece, and has retracted it. A more fulsome explanation will follow.
Isaac Asimov, quoted in William and Mary Morris, Harper Dictionary of Contemporary Usage (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1975), p. 298 (s.v. fulsome):
One of my favorite criteria of illiteracy.
S.I. Hayakawa, quoted id., p. 299:
Orville Prescott, quoted id., p. 299:
Long live prescriptivism.


Impossibility of Hybrids

Lucretius 5.916-924 (tr. Martin Ferguson Smith, with partial critical apparatus from Marcus Deufert's Teubner edition):
The fact is that, although there were manifold seeds of things in the ground at the time when the earth first produced animal life, this is no proof that beasts of mixed breed, combining limbs of different animals, could have been created. For the things that even now shoot in profusion from the earth—the various kinds of grasses and crops and exuberant trees—cannot, despite their abundance, be created intermixed: each proceeds in its own manner, and all preserve their distinguishing characteristics in conformity with an immutable law of nature.

nam quod multa fuere in terris semina rerum
tempore quo primum tellus animalia fudit,
nil tamen est signi mixtas potuisse creari
inter se pecudes compactaque membra animantum,
propterea quia quae de terris nunc quoque abundant        920
herbarum genera ac fruges arbustaque laeta
non tamen inter se possunt complexa creari,
sed res quaeque suo ritu procedit et omnes
foedere naturae certo discrimina servant.

923 sed res Goebel (1857) 26 (res sic iam Lambinus), comparans 2, 718–722 (cf. quoque 916; 1, 184–187) : sed si Ω : sed stirps Bockemüller : sed uis Lachmann
Monica R. Gale ad loc.:
As L. explains in book 2, the fertility of the earth is due to the abundance of different kinds of 'seeds' ( or particles) contained within it; but there are nevertheless limits on what it can produce, because not all types of atoms are susceptible of combination with all others (2.589-99, 700-29). This rule should apply to the distant past as to the present; and therefore the argument that hybrids might have come into existence because 'there were many seeds of things in the ground' falls.
See the list of parallels in Gordon Lindsay Campbell, Lucretius on Creation and Evolution: A Commentary on De Rerum Natura, Book Five, Lines 772-1104 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), p. 334:
Anaximander DK12 A30; ?Pythagoras DK58 C6; Empedocles DK31 B57, B59, B61, B62, B71; Anaxagoras DK59 A; (Diog. Laert. 2.9; Hippol. Ref. 1.8.12); Archelaus DK60 A4; Pl. Prt. 320c ff.; Genesis 1:21 and 2:19.


Two Types of People

Homer, Odyssey 8.572-576 (tr. A.T. Murray):
But come, now, tell me this and declare it truly: whither thou hast wandered and to what countries of men thou hast come; tell me of the people and of their well-built cities, both of those who are cruel and wild and unjust, and of those who love strangers and fear the gods in their thoughts.

ἀλλ᾽ ἄγε μοι τόδε εἰπὲ καὶ ἀτρεκέως κατάλεξον,
ὅππῃ ἀπεπλάγχθης τε καὶ ἅς τινας ἵκεο χώρας
ἀνθρώπων, αὐτούς τε πόλιάς τ᾽ ἐὺ ναιετοώσας,
ἠμὲν ὅσοι χαλεποί τε καὶ ἄγριοι οὐδὲ δίκαιοι,        575
οἵ τε φιλόξεινοι, καί σφιν νόος ἐστὶ θεουδής.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024


Better One Than Two

A.E. Housman, "Bailey's Lucretius," Classical Review 14.7 (October, 1900) 367-368 (at 368):
Mr Bailey says in his preface that he has been sparing of original conjectures because he does not wish to inflict new wounds upon the text. This estimate of his own talent in that department is certainly modest and seemingly correct. He prints only one emendation, and it is intust. Better one than two.
Bailey printed the conjecture at 4.961, but he had been anticipated. See G.B.A. Fletcher, "Lucretiana," Latomus 27.4 (October-December, 1968) 884-893 (at 891):
Ernout, Diels, Martin and Buechner attribute to Bailey, who attributes it to himself, Everett's conjecture intust made in Harv. Stud. in Class. Philology, 7, 1896, p. 32.
See also Marcus Deufert, Kritischer Kommentar zu Lukrezens De rerum natura (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2018), pp. 265-266.


More Craziness from Google Books

Google Books confuses (and misspells and misdates) John Newbold Hough's Princeton dissertation, The Composition of the "Pseudolus" of Plautus (Lancaster: Lancaster Press, Inc., 1931), with A. Foucher de Careil, Leibniz et Pierre-le-Grand (Paris: Germer Baillière, 1874).

By the way, there seems to be no entry for John Newbold Hough (1906-2000) in the Database of Classical Scholars, although the presentation of that database on the World Wide Web makes it extremely difficult to use (at least for me with the Brave web browser). Hough doesn't deserve oblivion. He taught at the University of Colorado, published many articles (mostly as John N. Hough), and was active in classical circles.


Monday, March 11, 2024


Condign Punishment Again

Greek Anthology 9.233 (by Erycius; tr. Norman Douglas):
As thou, poor Mindon, wert cutting dry trees,
A spider, hid there, did thy left foot seize
And bit it from beneath. The venom spread,
Eating the fresh flesh under the heel's tread;
Then thy strong leg was cut off at the knee,
And a wild olive staff now carries thee.

Αὖά τοι ἐκτάμνοντι γεράνδρυα, κάμμορε Μίνδων,
    φωλὰς ἀραχναίη σκαιὸν ἔτυψε πόδα
νειόθεν ἀντιάσασα· χύδην δ' ἔβρυξε μελαίνῃ
    σηπεδόνι χλωρὴν σάρκα κατ' ἀστραγάλους.
ἐτμήθη δ' ἀπὸ τῆς στιβαρὸν γόνυ, καί σε κομίζει        5
    μουνόποδα βλωθρῆς σκηπάνιον κοτίνου.
The same in W.R. Paton's prose translation:
As thou wast cutting the dry roots of old trees, unhappy Mindon, a spider nesting there attacked thee from beneath and bit thy left foot. The venom, spreading, devoured with black putrefaction the fresh flesh of thy heel, and hence thy sturdy leg was cut off at the knee, and a staff cut from a tall wild olive-tree supports thee now on one leg.
A.S.F. Gow and D.L. Page ad loc. (click once or twice to enlarge):
I don't have access to G.D. Chryssafis, "Two Hellenistic Passages," Museum Philologum Londiniense 3 (1978) 51-59.

Hat tip: Eric Thomson.

Related post: Condign Punishment.


Multi-Cultural Generosity

Martin Amis (1949-2023), "Political Correctness: Robert Bly and Philip Larkin," lecture at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University (January 30, 1997):
Is there any good reason why we cannot extend our multi-cultural generosity to include another dimension? That of time. The past, too, is another country. Its ghosts may look strange and frightening and slightly misshapen in body and mind, but all the more reason then, to welcome them to our shores.


Remembrance of Stings Past

Peter Green, From Ikaria to the Stars: Classical Mythification, Ancient and Modern (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2004), p. 140:
Greeks and Irishmen have always had a special talent for μνησικακία, the nursing of ancient wrongs.
Although the noun is rarely attested in ancient Greek, the corresponding verb μνησικακέω is not uncommon, according to the dictionaries.

Sunday, March 10, 2024


Matthew 6:28

Matthew 6:28-30 (KJV):
And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

καὶ περὶ ἐνδύματος τί μεριμνᾶτε; καταμάθετε τὰ κρίνα τοῦ ἀγροῦ πῶς αὐξάνουσιν· οὐ κοπιῶσιν οὐδὲ νήθουσιν·
λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ὅτι οὐδὲ Σολομὼν ἐν πάσῃ τῇ δόξῃ αὐτοῦ περιεβάλετο ὡς ἓν τούτων.
εἰ δὲ τὸν χόρτον τοῦ ἀγροῦ σήμερον ὄντα καὶ αὔριον εἰς κλίβανον βαλλόμενον ὁ θεὸς οὕτως ἀμφιέννυσιν, οὐ πολλῷ μᾶλλον ὑμᾶς, ὀλιγόπιστοι;
J. Enoch Powell, The Evolution of the Gospel: A New Translation of the First Gospel with Commentary and Introductory Essay (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), pp. 90-91 (I inserted ellipses in place of the Hebrew words):
The words 'card not' οὐ ξαίνουσι—the process preliminary to spinning (as 'sow' above is preliminary to 'reap')—generated, by a slight misreading, the corruption αὐξάνουσι 'they grow', which is manifestly wrong, because it is not growing that is at issue but being fed and clothed. In addition, οὐ ξαίνουσι 'card not' has been replaced by οὐ κοπιῶσι 'toil not', which, as generic, cannot be paired or contrasted with the specific 'spin' (e.g. 'no money and no shillings'). Thus the wording we have is the product of a (wrong) variant αὐξάνουσι in the margin and a (wrong) interlinear gloss κοπιῶσι in the text.

The antithesis to 'fowls of the air' is not 'lilies of the field' but 'beasts of the field'. The beasts are indeed 'clad' without industry or artifice on their part. To say that 'flowers' or, even more, flowers of one particular sort are 'clothed' is absurd: beautiful they may be, clothed they are not.

The alteration of 'beasts' into 'lilies' may be a corruption. Confusion between 'beasts' ... and 'lilies' ... is difficult in Hebrew, whereas in Greek that between ΤΑΘΗΡΙΑ, 'the beasts', and ΤΑΛΕΙΡΙΑ, 'the lilies', is not. Corruption would then have taken place in Greek in two stages—(1) θηρία, 'beasts', changed to λείρια, 'lilies', and (2) λείρια glossed with its synonym κρίνα. On the other hand, the rhetorical piece about 'Solomon' and the 'oven' may be an insertion prompted by objection to being clothed as 'the beasts' are clothed, viz. in skin and fur, and this may have suggested 'lilies'. Elaboration is betrayed by (1) 'lilies', for which 'grass', χόρτος, has later to be substituted (ovens are not fuelled with lilies) and (2) the absurdity of 'clothing' lilies or grass.
According to A.E. Harvey, "Logic and the lilies of the field. How Enoch Powell stretches scholarship to prove that Jesus was not crucified," Times Literary Supplement no. 4773 (23 Sept. 1994), p. 31 (at col. 3), Powell made nearly twenty conjectures in Matthew. Powell's book received little scholarly attention. From Peter Richardson's review in Echos du monde classique: Classical news and views 14.3 (1995) 432-435 (at 434-435):
In the long run the most interesting question to New Testament scholars is why classicists and scholars of early Christianity read evidence so differently. One is reminded of John Rist's earlier (and more sophisticated) study, with a slightly similar view of the priority of Matthew. We work with the same language, read the same literature, are immersed in the same historical period's intrigues and politics, and yet frequently we talk past each other or never manage to connect.

In Powell's case, this problem is complicated by another. He remains untroubled by his refusal to read what others have written or thought about Matthew, one of the storm centres of scholarship. And this at a moment when there is an unparalleled number of scholars working on the question of the relationships among the gospels. There is, of course, no unanimity on many questions; this is a period when any thesis is worth a try. But to ignore totally the current scholarship on Matthew, studies that argue for Mark's priority, investigations that hypothesize the existence of another common source ("Q") behind Matthew and Luke, and even those studies that argue—even if on different grounds—his own view of Matthew's priority seems perverse at best and hybris at worst. It is, of course, possible that he is right about some things; regrettably the failure to interact with other views will probably mean that this study will be ignored by those best placed to evaluate his views. In the end, then, one can only applaud his attempt to struggle without presuppositions with this early Christian text, but be bemused by his apparently blissful ignorance of competing views.
Here is Powell's translation of the passage from Matthew, incorporating his changes (pp. 12-13):
And why do you worry about clothing? Observe the *beasts* of the field: they do not *card* or spin, <and yet your heavenly Father clothes them>.
But I tell you that Solomon in all his glory was not dressed like one of these. And if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not do much more for you, O you of little faith?
See also Klaus Brunner, "Textkritisches zu Mt 6, 28: οὐ ξαίνουσιν statt αὐξάνουσιν vorgeschlagen," Zeitschrift für katholische Theologie 100.1 (1978) 251-256, and J. Enoch Powell, "Those 'Lilies of the Field' Again," Journal of Theological Studies 33.2 (October, 1982) 490-492.



John Fowles, The Journals, Vol. II: 1966-1990 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), p. 166 (October 24, 1974):
Also William Palmer's booklet, The Fiction of John Fowles — first of the four promised (or threatened) monographs for this next year. Some of it is wildly unrelated to anything I recognize about my past and present as a writer; especially the influences he imagines for me — Dostoevsky, Conrad, J.S. Mill, Carlyle — the latter two of which I have never read, the first two of which I have little knowledge of or empathy for.
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.

Saturday, March 09, 2024


A New Life

Basil L. Gildersleeve, "Friedrich Ritschl," American Journal of Philology 5.3 (1884) 339-355 (at 348):
Ritschl set out for Italy, the promised land of the philologian. For a scholar, a literary man, an artist, a residence in Italy is a new life. No one ever stepped into that stream and stepped out of that stream the same man.



Plato, Laws 6.757a (tr. Thomas L. Pangle):
...equal rewards would become unequal if they were distributed to men who are unequal...

...τοῖς γὰρ ἀνίσοις τὰ ἴσα ἄνισα γίγνοιτ᾽ ἄν...
Pliny the Younger, Letters 2.12.5 (tr. Betty Radice):
Yet this strict equality results in something very different from equity, so long as men have the same right to judge but not the same ability to judge wisely.

nihil est tam inaequale quam aequalitas ipsa. nam cum sit impar prudentia, par omnium ius est.


An Incorrect Reference

Robert Maltby, A Lexicon of Ancient Latin Etymologies (Leeds: Francis Cairns, 1991), p. 572 (s.v. sodalis):
sodalis, -is m. FEST. 297 (suppl. ex PAUL. FEST. 296) sodalis <quidam dictos esse pu>tant, quod una s<ederent et essent;> alii, quod ex suo d<atis vesci soliti essent;> alii, quod inter se <invicem suade>rent, quod utile ess<et>. AUG. serm. 88,7 sodales dicti sunt, quod simul edant, quasi simul edales. ISID. orig. 10,245 sodales dicuntur qui ad symbolum convenire consueverunt, quasi suadentes.
Page image:
The reference to Augustine's Sermons is incorrect—for "AUG. serm. 88,7" read "AUG. serm. 138,7". Augustine repeats the bogus etymology in his Sermons 46.36:
Sodales enim dicuntur, tamquam unius convivii. Latina lingua sic dicti sunt sodales, quasi simul edales, eo quod simul edant.


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