Sunday, June 30, 2024


No Wiener Schnitzel or Pâté de Foie Gras During Lent

Augustine, Sermons 207.2 (Patrologia Latina, vol. 38, cols. 1043-1044; tr. Edmund Hill):
To avoid letting these persuasive suggestions creep up on you, brothers and sisters, be as watchful and prudent as you possibly can. Let your fasting be accompanied by frugality. Just as the cramming of the stomach is to be restrained, so the tickling of the palate is to be avoided. It isn't that some kinds of human food are to be regarded as unclean, but that the delights of the flesh are to be held in check. Esau wasn't rejected over Wiener schnitzel or pâté de foie gras, but for an inordinate longing for lentils. Holy David repented of having a greater desire for water than was just. So the body is to be refreshed, or rather supported in its fasting, not by elaborate and expensive dishes, but by any kind of cheaper food that is readily available.

Haec, fratres, ne vobis persuasa subrepant, quanta potestis vigilantia providete. Parcimonia ieiuniis coniungatur. Sicut ventris castiganda saturitas, ita gulae irritamenta cavenda sunt. Non humanorum alimentorum genera detestanda, sed carnalis est delectatio refrenanda. Esau non pingui vitulo vel volatilibus saginatis, sed immoderate concupita lenticula reprobatus est. Sanctum David aquam plus iusto desiderasse poenituit. Non operosis ergo neque pretiosis, sed in promptu et positis quibusque vilioribus alimentis est corpus a ieiunio reficiendum, vel potius fulciendum.


Corruption of the Young

Friedrich Nietzsche, Morgenröte, Book IV, § 297 (tr. R.J. Hollingdale, Daybreak):
Ruinous.— The surest way of ruining a youth is to teach him to respect those who think as he does more highly than those who think differently from him.

Verderblich.— Man verdirbt einen Jüngling am sichersten, wenn man ihn anleitet, den Gleichdenkenden höher zu achten, als den Andersdenkenden.



Homer, Odyssey 17.347 (tr. A.T. Murray):
Shame is no good comrade for a man that is in need.

αἰδὼς δ᾽ οὐκ ἀγαθὴ κεχρημένῳ ἀνδρὶ παρεῖναι.
Hesiod, Works and Days 317-319 (tr. Hugh G. Evelyn-White):
An evil shame is the needy man's companion,
shame which both greatly harms and prospers men:
shame is with poverty, but confidence with wealth.

αἰδὼς δ᾽ οὐκ ἀγαθὴ κεχρημένον ἄνδρα κομίζει,
αἰδώς, ἥ τ᾽ ἄνδρας μέγα σίνεται ἠδ᾽ ὀνίνησιν.
αἰδώς τοι πρὸς ἀνολβίῃ, θάρσος δὲ πρὸς ὄλβῳ.
M.L. West ad loc.:

Saturday, June 29, 2024


A Sense of Entitlement

Sallust, The War Against Jugurtha 85.37-38 (Marius speaking; tr. William W. Batstone):
But the aristocrats, relying on that glory, while being themselves of a very different character, hold us in contempt, though we emulate their ancestors. And then they seek from you all the political offices, not because they deserve them, but as if they were entitled to them. But these men are filled with arrogance and they are very wrong. Their ancestors left them all that they could leave: wealth, family portraits, the glorious memory of their own actions; they did not leave them virtue, nor could they. That is the only thing that cannot be given or received as a gift.

quis nobilitas freta, ipsa dissimilis moribus, nos illorum aemulos contemnit et omnis honores non ex merito, sed quasi debitos a vobis repetit. ceterum homines superbissumi procul errant. maiores eorum omnia quae licebat illis reliquere, divitias, imagines, memoriam sui praeclaram; virtutem non reliquere, neque poterant: ea sola neque datur dono neque accipitur.


Too Old to Lead

Bede, History of the Abbots, 16 (on Abbot Ceolfrith; tr. Christopher Grocock):
Now he saw that, being old and full of days, he could no longer prove to be an appropriate model of spiritual exercise for those under him either by teaching or by example because he was so aged and infirm. He thought over the matter long and hard, and decided that it would be more appropriate for an instruction to be given to the brothers that they should choose a more suitable father-abbot for themselves from among their own number, following the statutes of their privilege and the rule of the holy abbot Benedict.

uidit se iam senior et plenus dierum non ultra posse subditis, ob impedimentum supremae aetatis, debitam spiritalis exercitii, uel docendo uel uiuendo, praefigere formam; multa diu secum mente uersans, utilius decreuit, dato fratribus praecepto, ut iuxta sui statuta priuilegii iuxtaque regulam sancti abbatis Benedicti, de suis sibi ipsi patrem, qui aptior esset, eligerent.
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.


Unconditional Obedience to a Person

Friedrich Nietzsche, Morgenröte, Book III, § 207 (tr. R.J. Hollingdale, Daybreak):
Now, if a nation of this sort concerns itself with morality, what morality will it be that will satisfy it? The first thing it will certainly require is that in this morality its heartfelt inclination to obedience shall appear idealised. 'Man has to have something which he can obey unconditionally' — that is a German sensation, a German piece of consistency: it is to be encountered at the basis of all German moral teaching. How different an impression we receive from the whole morality of antiquity! All those Greek thinkers, however varied they may appear to us as individuals, seem as moralists like a gymnastics teacher who says to his pupil: 'Come! Follow me! Submit to my discipline! Then perhaps you will succeed in carrying off a prize before all the Hellenes.' Personal distinction — that is antique virtue. To submit, to follow, openly or in secret — that is German virtue. — Long before Kant and his categorical imperative, Luther had, out of the same sensibility, said that there must exist a being in which man could have unconditional trust — it was his proof of the existence of God; coarser and grounded more in the people than Kant, he wanted man unconditionally to obey, not a concept, but a person; and Kant, too, made a detour around morality only in order in the end to arrive at obedience to the person: precisely this is the cult of the Germans, and is increasingly so the less is left to them of the religious cult. The Greeks and Romans felt differently, and would have mocked at such a statement as 'there must exist a being': it pertained to their southerly freedom of feeling to ward off any 'unconditional trust' and to keep back in the last recess of their heart a little scepticism for all and everything, whether god or man or concept. Not to speak of the philosopher of antiquity! Nil admirari — in this sentence he sees the whole of philosophy.

Wenn nun ein Volk dieser Art sich mit Moral abgiebt: welche Moral wird es sein, die gerade ihm genugthut? Sicherlich wird es zuerst wollen, dass sein herzlicher Hang zum Gehorsam in ihr idealisirt erscheine. "Der Mensch muss Etwas haben, dem er unbedingt gehorchen kann"—das ist eine deutsche Empfindung, eine deutsche Folgerichtigkeit: man begegnet ihr auf dem Grunde aller deutschen Morallehren. Wie anders ist der Eindruck, wenn man sich vor die gesammte antike Moral stellt! Alle diese griechischen Denker, so vielartig ihr Bild uns entgegenkommt, scheinen als Moralisten dem Turnmeister zu gleichen, der einem Jünglinge zuspricht "Komm! Folge mir! Ergieb dich meiner Zucht! So wirst du es vielleicht so hoch bringen, vor allen Hellenen einen Preis davonzutragen." Persönliche Auszeichnung,—das ist die antike Tugend. Sich unterwerfen, folgen, öffentlich oder in der Verborgenheit,—das ist deutsche Tugend. Lange vor Kant und seinem kategorischen Imperativ hatte Luther aus der selben Empfindung gesagt: es müsse ein Wesen geben, dem der Mensch unbedingt vertrauen könne,—es war sein Gottesbeweis, er wollte, gröber und volksthümlicher als Kant, dass man nicht einem Begriff, sondern einer Person unbedingt gehorche und schliesslich hat auch Kant seinen Umweg um die Moral nur desshalb genommen, um zum Gehorsam gegen die Person zu gelangen: das ist eben der Cultus des Deutschen, je weniger ihm gerade vom Cultus in der Religion übrig geblieben ist. Griechen und Römer empfanden anders und würden über ein solches "es muss ein Wesen geben"—gespottet haben: es gehörte zu ihrer südländischen Freiheit des Gefühls, sich des "unbedingten Vertrauens" zu erwehren und im letzten Verschluss des Herzens eine kleine Skepsis gegen Alles und Jedes, sei es Gott oder Mensch oder Begriff, zurückzubehalten. Gar der antike Philosoph! Nil admirari—in diesem Satze sieht er die Philosophie.

Friday, June 28, 2024



Thucydides 7.69.2 (tr. Jeremy Mynott):
Nicias for his part was badly shaken by the situation that confronted them, seeing just what danger they were in and how close it now was, since they were on the point of putting to sea. And supposing, as men do on the eve of great battles, that all too little had been done on their side and not enough had been said, he once again called on each one of the trierarchs, addressing them by their father’s name, their personal names and the names of their tribes. He urged them to be true to whatever claims for distinction they made for themselves, and appealed to those of them with distinguished ancestors not to tarnish their family honour; he reminded them of their country — the freest in the world, and one in which they all had the opportunity of living unregimented lives. He went on to say all those things men come out with in such moments of crisis, when they cease to be embarrassed about using the traditional language of references to ‘wives, children and the ancestral gods’, which occur in much the same form on all these occasions, but instead loudly invoke them, regarding them as helpful sentiments at a time of distress.

ὁ δὲ Νικίας ὑπὸ τῶν παρόντων ἐκπεπληγμένος καὶ ὁρῶν οἷος ὁ κίνδυνος καὶ ὡς ἐγγὺς ἤδη [ἦν], ἐπειδὴ καὶ ὅσον οὐκ ἔμελλον ἀνάγεσθαι, καὶ νομίσας, ὅπερ πάσχουσιν ἐν τοῖς μεγάλοις ἀγῶσι, πάντα τε ἔργῳ ἔτι σφίσιν ἐνδεᾶ εἶναι καὶ λόγῳ αὐτοῖς οὔπω ἱκανὰ εἰρῆσθαι, αὖθις τῶν τριηράρχων ἕνα ἕκαστον ἀνεκάλει, πατρόθεν τε ἐπονομάζων καὶ αὐτοὺς ὀνομαστὶ καὶ φυλήν, ἀξιῶν τό τε καθ᾽ ἑαυτόν, ᾧ ὑπῆρχε λαμπρότητός τι, μὴ προδιδόναι τινὰ καὶ τὰς πατρικὰς ἀρετάς, ὧν ἐπιφανεῖς ἦσαν οἱ πρόγονοι, μὴ ἀφανίζειν, πατρίδος τε τῆς ἐλευθερωτάτης ὑπομιμνῄσκων καὶ τῆς ἐν αὐτῇ ἀνεπιτάκτου πᾶσιν ἐς τὴν δίαιταν ἐξουσίας, ἄλλα τε λέγων ὅσα ἐν τῷ τοιούτῳ ἤδη τοῦ καιροῦ ὄντες ἄνθρωποι οὐ πρὸς τὸ δοκεῖν τινὶ ἀρχαιολογεῖν φυλαξάμενοι εἴποιεν ἄν, καὶ ὑπὲρ ἁπάντων παραπλήσια ἔς τε γυναῖκας καὶ παῖδας καὶ θεοὺς πατρῴους προφερόμενα, ἀλλ᾽ ἐπὶ τῇ παρούσῃ ἐκπλήξει ὠφέλιμα νομίζοντες ἐπιβοῶνται.
A.W. Gomme et al. ad loc.:
See Karl Maurer, Interpolation in Thucydides (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1995 = Mnemosyne, Suppl., 150), pp. 120-121, who called (p. 121, n. 32) ἄλλα τε λέγων ... ἐπιβοῶνται "one of the greatest, most truly beautiful periods in Thuc."

Thursday, June 27, 2024


Half a Man

Homer, Odyssey 17.322-323 (tr. A.T. Murray):
For Zeus, whose voice is borne afar, takes away half his worth
from a man, when the day of slavery comes upon him.

ἥμισυ γάρ τ᾽ ἀρετῆς ἀποαίνυται εὐρύοπα Ζεὺς
ἀνέρος, εὖτ᾽ ἄν μιν κατὰ δούλιον ἦμαρ ἕλῃσιν.


Goethe and Nietzsche

Oswald Spengler, Selected Essays, tr. Donald O. White (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1967), pp. 180-181:
It was Goethe’s good fortune to be born at the high noon of Western culture, at a time of rich and mature intellectuality which he himself eventually came to represent. He had only to become the epitome of his own time in order to achieve the disciplined grandeur implied by those who later called him the “Olympian.” Nietzsche lived a century later, and in the meantime a great change had occurred, one which we are only now able to comprehend. It was his fate to come into the world after the Rococo period, and to stand amid the totally cultureless 1860’s and 1870’s. Consider the streets and houses he had to live in, the clothing fashions, furniture, and social mores he had to observe. Consider the way people moved about in social circles in his day, the way they thought, wrote, and felt. Goethe lived at a time filled with respect for form; Nietzsche longed desperately for forms that had been shattered and abandoned. Goethe needed only to affirm what he saw and experienced around him; Nietzsche had no recourse but to protest passionately against everything contemporary, if he was to rescue anything his forebears had bequeathed to him as a cultural heritage.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024


Mostly Gas and Suet

Ezra Pound (1885-1972), "Song of the Six Hundred M.P.'s," in his Poems and Translations, ed. Richard Sieburth (New York: The Library of America, 2003), p. 602:
"We are 'ere met together
    in this momentous hower,
Ter lick th' bankers' dirty boots
    an' keep the Bank in power.

We are 'ere met together
    ter grind the same old axes
And keep the people in its place
    a'payin' us the taxes.

We are six hundred beefy men
    (but mostly gas and suet)
An’ every year we meet to let
    some other feller do it."

I see their 'igh 'ats on the seats
    an' them sprawling on the benches
And thinks about a Rowton 'ouse
    and a lot of small street stenches.

"O Britain, muvver of parliaments,
    'ave you seen yer larst sweet litter?
Could yeh swap th' brains of orl this lot
    fer 'arft a pint o' bitter?"

"I couldn't," she sez, "an' I aint tried,
    They're me own," she sez to me,
"As footlin' a lot as was ever spawned
    to defend democracy."
Mutatis mutandis, this applies to most if not all legislative bodies.


Useful Skills

Sallust, The War Against Jugurtha 85.31-33 (Marius speaking; tr. J. Wight Duff):
My words have no studied elegance. That I value slightly. Merit can display itself unaided. My detractors require artificiality to screen low deeds behind rhetoric. I never studied Greek literature. I had no wish to—it had been of no use to its teachers in the direction of virtue. My skill lies in what is far the most serviceable for my country—to smite a foe, to keep good watch, to fear nothing save discredit, to endure winter and summer alike, to sleep on the ground, to undergo hunger and fatigue together.

non sunt composita verba mea: parvi id facio. ipsa se virtus satis ostendit: illis artificio opus est, ut turpia facta oratione tegant. neque litteras Graecas didici: parum placebat eas discere, quippe quae ad virtutem doctoribus nihil profuerant. at illa multo optuma rei publicae doctus sum: hostem ferire, praesidia agitare, nihil metuere nisi turpem famam, hiemem et aestatem iuxta pati, humi requiescere, eodem tempore inopiam et laborem tolerare.


Instruction in Virtue

Plato, Protagoras 325c-326e (Protagoras speaking; tr. W.R.M. Lamb):
[325c] They teach and admonish them from earliest childhood till the last day of their lives. As soon as one of them grasps what is said to him, the nurse, the mother, the tutor, and the father himself strive hard

[325c] ἐκ παίδων σμικρῶν ἀρξάμενοι, μέχρι οὗπερ ἂν ζῶσι, καὶ διδάσκουσι καὶ νουθετοῦσιν. ἐπειδὰν θᾶττον συνιῇ τις τὰ λεγόμενα, καὶ τροφὸς καὶ μήτηρ καὶ παιδαγωγὸς καὶ αὐτὸς ὁ πατὴρ περὶ τούτου διαμάχονται,

[325d] that the child may excel, and as each act and word occurs they teach and impress upon him that this is just, and that unjust, one thing noble, another base, one holy, another unholy, and that he is to do this, and not do that. If he readily obeys,—so; but if not, they treat him as a bent and twisted piece of wood and straighten him with threats and blows. After this they send them to school and charge the master to take far more pains over their children's good behavior than over their letters and harp-playing.

[325d] ὅπως ὡς βέλτιστος ἔσται ὁ παῖς, παρ' ἕκαστον καὶ ἔργον καὶ λόγον διδάσκοντες καὶ ἐνδεικνύμενοι ὅτι τὸ μὲν δίκαιον, τὸ δὲ ἄδικον, καὶ τόδε μὲν καλόν, τόδε δὲ αἰσχρόν, καὶ τόδε μὲν ὅσιον, τόδε δὲ ἀνόσιον, καὶ τὰ μὲν ποίει, τὰ δὲ μὴ ποίει. καὶ ἐὰν μὲν ἑκὼν πείθηται· εἰ δὲ μή, ὥσπερ ξύλον διαστρεφόμενον καὶ καμπτόμενον εὐθύνουσιν ἀπειλαῖς καὶ πληγαῖς. μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα εἰς διδασκάλων πέμποντες πολὺ μᾶλλον ἐντέλλονται ἐπιμελεῖσθαι εὐκοσμίας τῶν παίδων ἢ γραμμάτων τε καὶ κιθαρίσεως·

[325e] The masters take pains accordingly, and the children, when they have learnt their letters and are getting to understand the written word as before they did only the spoken, are furnished with works of good poets to read as they sit in class, and are made to learn them off by heart: here they meet with many admonitions,

[325e] οἱ δὲ διδάσκαλοι τούτων τε ἐπιμελοῦνται, καὶ ἐπειδὰν αὖ γράμματα μάθωσιν καὶ μέλλωσιν συνήσειν τὰ γεγραμμένα ὥσπερ τότε τὴν φωνήν, παρατιθέασιν αὐτοῖς ἐπὶ τῶν βάθρων ἀναγιγνώσκειν ποιητῶν ἀγαθῶν ποιήματα καὶ ἐκμανθάνειν ἀναγκάζουσιν, ἐν οἷς πολλαὶ μὲν νουθετήσεις

[326a] many descriptions and praises and eulogies of good men in times past, that the boy in envy may imitate them and yearn to become even as they. Then also the music-masters, in a similar sort, take pains for their self-restraint, and see that their young charges do not go wrong: moreover, when they learn to play the harp, they are taught the works of another set of good poets, the song-makers,

[326a] ἔνεισιν πολλαὶ δὲ διέξοδοι καὶ ἔπαινοι καὶ ἐγκώμια παλαιῶν ἀνδρῶν ἀγαθῶν, ἵνα ὁ παῖς ζηλῶν μιμῆται καὶ ὀρέγηται τοιοῦτος γενέσθαι. οἵ τ' αὖ κιθαρισταί, ἕτερα τοιαῦτα, σωφροσύνης τε ἐπιμελοῦνται καὶ ὅπως ἂν οἱ νέοι μηδὲν κακουργῶσιν· πρὸς δὲ τούτοις, ἐπειδὰν κιθαρίζειν μάθωσιν, ἄλλων αὖ ποιητῶν ἀγαθῶν ποιήματα διδάσκουσι μελοποιῶν,

[326b] while the master accompanies them on the harp; and they insist on familiarizing the boys' souls with the rhythms and scales, that they may gain in gentleness, and by advancing in rhythmic and harmonic grace may be efficient in speech and action; for the whole of man's life requires the graces of rhythm and harmony. Again, over and above all this, people send their sons to a trainer, that having improved their bodies they may perform the orders of their minds, which are now in fit condition, 

[326b] εἰς τὰ κιθαρίσματα ἐντείνοντες, καὶ τοὺς ῥυθμούς τε καὶ τὰς ἁρμονίας ἀναγκάζουσιν οἰκειοῦσθαι ταῖς ψυχαῖς τῶν παίδων, ἵνα ἡμερώτεροί τε ὦσιν, καὶ εὐρυθμότεροι καὶ εὐαρμοστότεροι γιγνόμενοι χρήσιμοι ὦσιν εἰς τὸ λέγειν τε καὶ πράττειν· πᾶς γὰρ ὁ βίος τοῦ ἀνθρώπου εὐρυθμίας τε καὶ εὐαρμοστίας δεῖται. ἔτι τοίνυν πρὸς τούτοις εἰς παιδοτρίβου πέμπουσιν, ἵνα τὰ σώματα βελτίω ἔχοντες ὑπηρετῶσι τῇ διανοίᾳ χρηστῇ οὔσῃ,

[326c] and that they may not be forced by bodily faults to play the coward in wars and other duties. This is what people do, who are most able; and the most able are the wealthiest. Their sons begin school at the earliest age, and are freed from it at the latest. And when they are released from their schooling the city next compels them to learn the laws and to live according to them as after a pattern,

[326c] καὶ μὴ ἀναγκάζωνται ἀποδειλιᾶν διὰ τὴν πονηρίαν τῶν σωμάτων καὶ ἐν τοῖς πολέμοις καὶ ἐν ταῖς ἄλλαις πράξεσιν. καὶ ταῦτα ποιοῦσιν οἱ μάλιστα δυνάμενοι μάλιστα — μάλιστα δὲ δύνανται οἱ πλουσιώτατοι — καὶ οἱ τούτων ὑεῖς, πρῳαίτατα εἰς διδασκάλων τῆς ἡλικίας ἀρξάμενοι φοιτᾶν, ὀψιαίτατα ἀπαλλάττονται. ἐπειδὰν δὲ ἐκ διδασκάλων ἀπαλλαγῶσιν, ἡ πόλις αὖ τούς τε νόμους ἀναγκάζει μανθάνειν καὶ κατὰ τούτους ζῆν κατὰ παράδειγμα,

[326d] that their conduct may not be swayed by their own light fancies, but just as writing-masters first draw letters in faint outline with the pen for their less advanced pupils, and then give them the copy-book and make them write according to the guidance of their lines, so the city sketches out for them the laws devised by good lawgivers of yore, and constrains them to govern and be governed according to these. She punishes anyone who steps outside these borders, and this punishment

[326d] ἵνα μὴ αὐτοὶ ἐφ' αὑτῶν εἰκῇ πράττωσιν, ἀλλ' ἀτεχνῶς ὥσπερ οἱ γραμματισταὶ τοῖς μήπω δεινοῖς γράφειν τῶν παίδων ὑπογράψαντες γραμμὰς τῇ γραφίδι οὕτω τὸ γραμματεῖον διδόασιν καὶ ἀναγκάζουσι γράφειν κατὰ τὴν ὑφήγησιν τῶν γραμμῶν, ὣς δὲ καὶ ἡ πόλις νόμους ὑπογράψασα, ἀγαθῶν καὶ παλαιῶν νομοθετῶν εὑρήματα, κατὰ τούτους ἀναγκάζει καὶ ἄρχειν καὶ ἄρχεσθαι, ὃς δ' ἂν ἐκτὸς βαίνῃ τούτων, κολάζει· καὶ ὄνομα τῇ κολάσει ταύτῃ

[326e] among you and in many other cities, from the corrective purpose of the prosecution, is called a Correction.

[326e] καὶ παρ' ὑμῖν καὶ ἄλλοθι πολλαχοῦ, ὡς εὐθυνούσης τῆς δίκης, εὐθῦναι.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024


Like Father, Like Son

Cicero, Against Verres II 3.69.161 (tr. L.H.G. Greenwood):
You begot children not only for yourself, but for your fatherland, that they might not merely be a pleasure to yourself, but also, in due season, do good service to your country. It was your duty to educate and instruct them in the ways of our forefathers and the traditions of our national life, not in your own depraved and disgraceful behaviour; and if your son, for all his father’s idleness and dishonesty and uncleanness, grew up active and honest and decent, you would have done your duty by the country to some extent at least. As it is, you have but supplied the nation with another Verres to take your place; or it may be with one still worse, if that be possible...

susceperas enim liberos non solum tibi sed etiam patriae, qui non modo tibi voluptati sed etiam qui aliquando usui rei publicae esse possent. eos instituere atque erudire ad maiorum instituta, ad civitatis disciplinam, non ad tua flagitia neque ad tuas turpitudines debuisti; esset ex inerti et improbo et impuro parente navus et pudens et probus filius, haberet aliquid abs te res publica muneris. nunc pro te Verrem substituisti alterum civitati; nisi forte hoc deteriorem, si fieri potest...
There are two misprints in the Digital Loeb Classical Library text for this passage:


Monday, June 24, 2024


The Gods

Paul Verlaine, "The Gods" ("Les Dieux") (tr. Samuel N. Rosenberg):
Beaten, but undefeated, exiled, but alive,
Wearied, but not silenced, by edicts of Man,
They have not abdicated, but stubbornly gripping
Old scepters, they prowl about in the wind.

The clouds running past in whimsical movement
Are the dust kicked up by these ravening specters,
And thunder howling through wide-open spaces
Is but an echo far off of their harsh hunting horns.

They're sounding in turn their revolt against Man,
Still dumbfounded by success and barely recovered
From his fight against foes of such sorts.

The gods of Deuteronomy, the Koran and Vedas,
The gods of those dogmas, filled now with rage,
Have emerged to do battle: Watch out! Careful now!

Vaincus, mais non domptés, exilés, mais vivants,
Et malgré les édits de l’Homme et ses menaces,
Ils n’ont point abdiqué, crispant leurs mains tenaces
Sur des tronçons de sceptre, et rôdent dans les vents.

Les nuages coureurs aux caprices mouvants
Sont la poudre des pieds de ces spectres rapaces
Et la foudre hurlant à travers les espaces
N’est qu’un écho lointain de leurs durs olifants.

Ils sonnent la révolte à leur tour contre l’Homme,
Leur vainqueur stupéfait encore et mal remis
D’un tel combat avec de pareils ennemis.

Du Coran, des Védas et du Deutéronome,
De tous les dogmes, pleins de rage, tous les dieux
Sont sortis en campagne : Alerte ! et veillons mieux.


A Problematic Participle

Mark 7:18-19 (tr. Richmond Lattimore):
[18] He said to them: Are even you so unable to understand? Do you not see that anything that goes into a man from the outside cannot defile him,
[19] because it passes not into the heart but into the belly, and thence goes into the privy? Thus he made all food clean.

[18] καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀσύνετοί ἐστε; οὐ νοεῖτε ὅτι πᾶν τὸ ἔξωθεν εἰσπορευόμενον εἰς τὸν ἄνθρωπον οὐ δύναται αὐτὸν κοινῶσαι,
[19] ὅτι οὐκ εἰσπορεύεται αὐτοῦ εἰς τὴν καρδίαν ἀλλ’ εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν, καὶ εἰς τὸν ἀφεδρῶνα ἐκπορεύεται, καθαρίζων πάντα τὰ βρώματα;
Text and apparatus from Barbara and Kurt Aland, edd., Novum Testamentum Graece, 27th ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), p. 112:
Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Stuttgart: United Bible Societies, 1975), p. 95 (on Mark 7:19, footnote omitted):
The overwhelming weight of manuscript evidence supports the reading καθαρίζων . The difficulty of construing this word in the sentence prompted copyists to attempt various corrections and ameliorations.
C.E.B. Cranfield on verse 19:
ἀφεδρῶνα. Ἀφεδρών classical ἄφοδος or ἀπόπατος — 'a privy'. Instead of this word D reads ὀχετόν, which Wellhausen and Torrey accept and take to mean 'bowel', and, in spite of the breach of grammatical concord, take with καθαρίζων translating 'the bowel which purifies all foods'. But such violence is unnecessary; for ὀχετόν in D probably means 'sewer' (as in Herodian v. 8. 9, etc.), and anyway ἀφεδρῶνα should surely be read. Here the natural process is spoken of with unselfconscious naturalness (cf. Schlatter, Evang. Matt. p. 486).

After ἐκπορεύεται it is best to put a question-mark and a dash (εἰς τὸν ἀφεδρῶνα ἐκπορεύεται being the end of what Jesus says). The words καθαρίζων πάντα τὰ βρώματα are best explained as the evangelist's own comment, drawing out the implications of Jesus' words with an eye on the contemporary problem of what was to be the Church's attitude to Jewish ideas about clean and unclean foods. Cf. our explanation of ii. 10, 28. This interpretation goes back to the Greek Fathers. The words are then grammatically dependent on καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς at the beginning of v. 18, καθαρίζων agreeing with the subject of λέγει.



Moses Hadas, Old Wine, New Bottles: A Humanist Teacher at Work (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1962), p. 43:
The sole and sufficient reason for studying Latin, I then believed and still believe, is that it is fun to do so. People so constituted that it is incapable of affording them fun should not study Latin.
Dr. Seuss, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (New York: Beginner Books, c1960), p. 51:
These things are fun
and fun is good.

Sunday, June 23, 2024



M. David Litwa, "Deification and Defecation: Valentinus Fragment 3 and the Physiology of Jesus’s Digestion," Journal of Early Christian Studies 31.1 (Spring, 2023) 1-18 (at 4):
John Chrysostom (about 349–407 C.E.) declared that “the multiplying of luxury is nothing but the multiplication of feces!” (οὐδὲν ἄλλο ἐτὶ τὸ πλέον τῆς τρυφῆς ἤ κόπρου πλεονασμός).14

14. John Chrysostom, Homily 13 on 1 Timothy (Frederik Field, ed., Homiliae in Epistulas ad Timotheum, Titum et Philemonem [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1861], 111). In context, Chrysostom explains that excess food would lead to “putrefied heat” within the body, causing noxious fumes to affect the brain. He even asserts that the channels for feces, when blocked, force the feces up within the body. See further Teresa M. Shaw, The Burden of the Flesh: Fasting and Sexuality in Early Christianity (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1998), 131–39. Cf. Clement of Alexandria, Pedagogue 3.7.3: “dung houses expose the impurity of gluttony” (τὸ ἀκάθαρτον τῆς γαστριμαργίας οἱ κοπρῶνες ἐλέγχουσιν) (M. Marcovich, ed., Paedagogus [Leiden: Brill, 2002], 170).
Actually, in the Greek text of Chrysostom cited by Litwa, τροφῆς (nourishment) is printed, and τρυφῆς (luxury) is relegated to the critical apparatus.

Here is a translation of the phrase in context, from The Homilies of S. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on the Epistles of St. Paul the Apostle to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, Translated [by James Tweed] (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1853), pp. 112-113:
Consider what comes of food, into what it is changed. Are you not disgusted at its being named? Why then be eager for such accumulations? The increase of luxury is but the multiplication of dung! For nature has her limits, and what is beyond these is not nourishment, but injury, and the increase of ordure. Nourish the body, but do not destroy it. Food is called nourishment, to shew that its design is not to injure the body, but to nourish it. For this reason perhaps food passes into excrement, that we may not be lovers of luxury. For if it were not so, if it were not useless and injurious to the body, we should not cease from devouring one another. If the belly receive as much as it pleased, digested it, and conveyed it to the body, we should see wars and battles innumerable. Even now when part of our food passes into ordure, part into blood, part into spurious and useless phlegm, we are nevertheless so addicted to luxury, that we spend perhaps whole estates on a meal. What should we not do, if this were not the end of luxury? The more luxuriously we live, the more noisome are the odours with which we are filled. The body is like a swollen bottle, running out every way. The eructations are such as to pain the head of a bystander. From the heat of fermentation within, vapours are sent forth, as from furnace, if by-standers are pained, what, think you, is the brain within continually suffering, assailed by these fumes? to say nothing of the channels of the heated and obstructed blood, of those reservoirs, the liver and the spleen, and of the canals by which the fæces are discharged. The drains in our streets we take care to keep unobstructed. We cleanse our sewers with poles and drags, that they may not be stopped, or overflow, but the canals of our bodies we do not keep clear, but obstruct and choke them up, and when the filth rises to the very throne of the king, I mean the brain, we do not regard it, treating it not like a worthy king, but like an unclean brute. God hath purposely removed to a distance those unclean members, that we might not receive offence from them. But we suffer it not to be so, and spoil all by our excess. And other evils might be mentioned. To obstruct the sewers is to breed a pestilence: but if a stench from without is pestilential, that which is pent up within the body, and cannot find a vent, what disorders must it not produce both to body and soul? Some have strangely complained, wondering why God has ordained that we should bear a load of ordure with us. But they themselves increase the load. God designed thus to detach us from luxury, and to persuade us not to attach ourselves to worldly things. But thou art not thus to be persuaded to cease from gluttony, but though it is but as far as the throat, and as long as the hour of eating, nay not even so long, that the pleasure abides, thou continuest in thine indulgence. Is it not true, that as soon as it has passed the palate and the throat, the pleasure ceases? For the sense of it is in the taste, and after that is gratified, a nausea succeeds, the stomach not digesting the food, or not without much difficulty. Justly then is it said, that she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. For the luxurious soul is unable to hear or to see any thing. It becomes weak, ignoble, unmanly, illiberal, cowardly, full of impudence, servility, ignorance, rage, violence, and all kinds of evil, and destitute of the opposite virtues.
Related post: On the Distance Between the Head and Certain Other Bodily Parts.

Hat tip: Eric Thomson.


Saturday, June 22, 2024


Borrowed Glory

Sallust, The War Against Jugurtha 85.21-23 (Marius speaking; tr. William W. Batstone):
Furthermore, when they speak before you or in the Senate, most of their speech is taken up with praising their ancestors: they think that by recalling those brave deeds they themselves become more glorious. But the converse is true. For the more glorious the life of their ancestors is, the more shameful their own cowardice becomes. Certainly this is the truth of the matter: the glory of their ancestors is like a light which does not allow their virtues or faults to be hidden.

atque etiam, quom apud vos aut in senatu verba faciunt, pleraque oratione maiores suos extollunt: eorum fortia facta memorando clariores sese putant. quod contra est; nam quanto vita illorum praeclarior, tanto horum socordia flagitiosior. et profecto ita se res habet: maiorum gloria posteris quasi lumen est, neque bona neque mala eorum in occulto patitur.
Ovid, Metamorphoses 13.140-141 (tr. Frank Justus Miller, rev. G.P. Goold):
For as to race and ancestry and the deeds that others than ourselves have done, I call those in no true sense our own.

nam genus et proavos et quae non fecimus ipsi,
vix ea nostra voco.


The Companion of the Feast

Homer, Odyssey 17.269-271 (tr. A.T. Murray):
And I mark that in the house itself many men are feasting: for the savour of meat arises from it, and therewith resounds the voice of the lyre, which the gods have made the companion of the feast.

γιγνώσκω δ᾽ ὅτι πολλοὶ ἐν αὐτῷ δαῖτα τίθενται
ἄνδρες, ἐπεὶ κνίση μὲν ἀνήνοθεν, ἐν δέ τε φόρμιγξ        270
ἠπύει, ἣν ἄρα δαιτὶ θεοὶ ποίησαν ἑταίρην.


The God Pan Lives On

Roberto Calasso, Literature and the Gods, tr. Tim Parks (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001), pp. 7-8:
Now it so happened that, at a dinner party in honor of the revolution of February 1848, a young intellectual had proposed a toast to the god Pan. “But what has Pan got to do with the revolution?” Baudelaire asked the young intellectual. “Don’t you know?” came the answer: “It’s Pan who starts revolutions. He is the revolution.” Baudelaire didn’t leave it at that: “So it’s not true that he’s been dead for ages? I thought a loud voice had been heard drifting across the Mediterranean and that this mysterious voice that rang out from the Columns of Hercules as far as the shores of Asia had announced to the old world: THE GOD PAN IS DEAD.” The young intellectual didn’t seem worried. “It’s just a rumor,” he said. “Scandal mongers, nothing in it. No, the god Pan is not dead! The god Pan lives on,” he insisted, lifting his eye to the heavens with quite bizarre tenderness: “He will return.” Baudelaire glosses: “He was talking about the god Pan as if he were the prisoner of Saint Helena.” But the exchange wasn’t over; Baudelaire had another question: “So can we presume that you are pagan?” The young intellectual was positively disdainful: “Of course I am; don’t you know that only paganism, if properly understood, that is, can save the world? We must go back to the true doctrines that were eclipsed, but only for an instant, by the infamous Galilean. And then, Juno has looked favorably on me, a look that went right to my soul. I was sad and miserable, watching the procession go by; I implored that beautiful divinity, my eyes were full of love, and she sent one of her looks, a profound and benevolent look, to cheer me up and give me courage.”
Charles Baudelaire, "L’École païenne," Oeuvres complètes (Paris: Gallimard, 1961), pp. 623-628 (at 623):
Dans un banquet commémoratif de la révolution de Février, un toast a été porté au dieu Pan, oui, au dieu Pan, par un de ces jeunes gens qu’on peut qualifier d’instruits et d’intelligents.

— Mais, lui disais-je, qu’est-ce que le dieu Pan a de commun avec la révolution ?

— Comment donc ? répondait-il ; mais c’est le dieu Pan qui fait la révolution. Il est la révolution.

— D’ailleurs, n’est-il pas mort depuis longtemps ? Je croyais qu’on avait entendu planer une grande voix au dessus de la Méditerranée, et que cette voix mystérieuse, qui roulait depuis les colonnes d’Hercule jusqu’aux rivages asiatiques, avait dit au vieux monde : Le dieu Pan est mort !

— C’est un bruit qu’on fait courir. Ce sont de mauvaises langues ; mais il n’en est rien. Non, le dieu Pan n’est pas mort ! le dieu Pan vit encore, reprit-il en levant les yeux au ciel avec un attendrissement fort bizarre… Il va revenir.

Il parlait du dieu Pan comme du prisonnier de Sainte-Hélène.

— Eh quoi, lui dis-je, seriez-vous donc païen ?

— Mais oui, sans doute ; ignorez-vous donc que le Paganisme bien compris, bien entendu, peut seul sauver le monde ? Il faut revenir aux vraies doctrines, obscurcies un instant par l’infâme Galiléen. D’ailleurs, Junon m’a jeté un regard favorable, un regard qui m’a pénétré jusqu’à l’âme. J’étais triste et mélancolique au milieu de la foule, regardant le cortége et implorant avec des yeux amoureux cette belle divinité, quand un de ses regards, bienveillant et profond, est venu me relever et m’encourager.
Related posts:

Friday, June 21, 2024


No Fun for Christians

Augustine, Sermons 198.1 (Patrologia Latina, vol. 38, col. 1024; tr. Edmund Hill):
And now, if the festival of the Gentiles which is taking place today in the joys of the world and the flesh, with the din of silly and disgraceful songs, with disgraceful junketing and dances, with the celebration of this false feast day—if the things the Gentiles are doing today do not meet with your approval, you will be gathered from among the Gentiles.

Et modo si solemnitas Gentium, quae fit hodierno die in laetitia saeculi atque carnali, in strepitu vanissimarum et turpissimarum cantionum, in conviviis et saltationibus turpibus, in celebratione ipsius falsae festivitatis, si ea quae agunt Gentes non vos delectent, congregabimini ex Gentibus.
Id. 198.2 (PL 38.1025):
But if you get mixed up with the Gentiles, it means you don't want to follow the one who has redeemed you; instead you're mixing with the Gentiles in life-style, actions, mind, and heart, by believing such things, hoping for such things, loving such things; you are being ungrateful to your Redeemer, you are not acknowledging the price paid for you, the blood of the Lamb without blemish. So in order to follow your Redeemer, who redeemed you with his blood, don't mix with the Gentiles by the same kind of morals, habits, and actions. They give good luck presents; see to it you give alms. They are entertained by lascivious songs; see to it you are entertained by the words of the scriptures. They run off to the theater, you to church; they get drunk, see to it you fast. Or if you can't fast today, at least dine with sobriety.

Si autem misceris Gentibus, non vis sequi eum qui te redemit: misceris autem Gentibus vita, factis, corde, talia credendo, talia sperando, talia diligendo: ingratus es Redemptori tuo, nec agnoscis pretium tuum, sanguinem Agni immaculati. Ut ergo sequaris Redemptorem tuum, qui te redemit sanguine suo, noli te miscere Gentibus similitudine morum atque factorum. Dant illi strenas, date vos eleemosynas. Avocantur illi cantionibus luxuriarum, avocate vos sermonibus Scripturarum: currunt illi ad theatrum, vos ad ecclesiam: inebriantur illi, vos ieiunate. Si hodie non potestis ieiunare, saltem cum sobrietate prandete.
Id. 198.3 (PL 38.1026):
So their morals give pleasure to their gods. But the man who said I do not wish you to become the associates of demons, wished them to set themselves apart in life and morals from those who served demons. Now those demons take pleasure, don't they, in idle songs, they take pleasure in the trifling spectacle, in the manifold indecencies of the theaters, in the mad frenzy of the chariot races, in the cruelties of the amphitheater, in the unrelenting rivalries of those who take up quarrels and disputes, to the point of open hostilities, on behalf of pestilential persons, on behalf of a comedian, an actor, a clown, a charioteer, a hunter. When they do these things, it's as if they were offering incense to demons from their hearts. These spirits, given to seduction you see, rejoice in the people they have seduced, and feed on the bad morals and shameful and shocking life-style of those they have seduced and deceived.

Ergo Deos ipsorum delectant mores eorum. Ille autem qui dixit: Nolo vos fieri socios daemoniorum, voluit ut ab illis qui daemonibus servirent, vita et moribus separarentur. Etenim illa daemonia delectantur canticis vanitatis, delectantur nugatorio spectaculo, et turpitudinibus variis theatrorum, insania circi, crudelitate amphitheatri, certaminibus animosis eorum qui pro pestilentibus hominibus lites et contentiones usque ad inimicitias suscipiunt, pro mimo, pro histrione pro pantomimo, pro auriga, pro venatore. Ista facientes, quasi thura ponunt daemoniis de cordibus suis. Spiritus enim seductores gaudent seductis; et eorum quos seduxerint atque deceperint, malis moribus et vita turpi infamique pascuntur.



Larry Eldridge,"Chessman," Portland Press Herald (June 19, 1966), p. 70:
The third annual match between the top players in the Maine Chess League and their counterparts in the Northeast League of Massachusetts was a real thriller, going down to the final game before winding up as a 10-10 standoff.


Maine winners on the lower boards included Val Michaud of Waterville, Ken Carter of Portland and all three Bangor representatives — Bob Perkins, Phil Pond and Mike Gilleland.
One summer Phil Pond and I worked together on a house-painting crew. I can still remember sitting together on the scaffolding, painting but also playing chess without a board, in our heads, calling out the moves. Probably Phil won our game — in 1966 he was the junior winner of the Maine State Chess Tournament (Bangor Daily News, May 2, 1966, p. 16).


The Truth

Homer, Odyssey 17.15 (Telemachus speaking; tr. W.B. Stanford):
For indeed true things are ever dear to me to tell.

ἦ γὰρ ἐμοὶ φίλ᾽ ἀληθέα μυθήσασθαι.
Related post: Straight Speaking.

Thursday, June 20, 2024


Pretty Much as Usual

John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson (April 17, 1826):
Public affairs go on pretty much as usual: perpetual chicanery and rather more personal abuse than there used to be.


The Foundation

Cicero, Against Verres II 3.97.226 (tr. L.H.G. Greenwood):
For what is Sicily, if you take away its agriculture, if you blot out the farming population and the farming profession?

quid est enim Sicilia si agri cultionem sustuleris, et si aratorum numerum ac nomen exstinxeris?
Libanius, Orations 7.4 (tr. Craig A. Gibson):
And so, there are thousands of human pursuits, but the best one is farming; for it gives the greatest profit to those who farm—namely, that they are good. For a man who is devoted to his fields and serious about his land stays far from the marketplace and quarreling in the marketplace, far from the courts and false accusations in the courts, far from the assembly and uproars in the assembly, neither indicting, nor lying, nor acting as a defendant, nor giving false testimony, nor demanding fair restitution, nor working for money with which to overwhelm another man with disasters. Rather, after sowing and doing everything else for his plants, he awaits the harvest and the resulting profit, planting his seeds with prayers, offering the first-fruits to the gods who have granted them, and refraining as much as possible from being a busybody, inasmuch as he spends his time among oxen and sheep and goats. As a result, farmers also seem to me to obtain what they ask from the gods easily, whenever they call upon them, because they ask for something good for themselves and certainly not for anything evil for others.

Μυρία μὲν οὖν ἐπιτηδεύματα κατὰ ἀνθρώπους, ἄριστον δὲ ἡ γεωργία. τὸ γὰρ μέγιστον κέρδος δίδωσι τοῖς γεωργοῦσι. τοῦτο δέ ἐστιν αὐτοὺς ἀγαθοὺς εἶναι. ἀνὴρ γὰρ ἀρούρᾳ προσκείμενος καὶ περὶ τὴν γῆν ἐσπουδακὼς πόρρω μὲν ἀγορᾶς καὶ τῆς ἐν ἀγορᾷ φιλονεικίας, πόρρω δὲ δικαστηρίων καὶ τῶν ἐν δικαστηρίοις συκοφαντιῶν, πόρρω δὲ ἐκκλησίας καὶ τῶν ἐπ’ ἐκκλησίας θορύβων, οὐ γραφόμενος, οὐ ψευδόμενος, οὐ φεύγων, οὐ τὰ ψευδῆ μαρτυρῶν, οὐ τὴν ἴσην ἀνταπόδοσιν ἀπαιτῶν, οὐκ ἐργαζόμενος χρήματα ἐξ ὧν ἕτερον συμφοραῖς περιέβαλλεν, ἀλλὰ σπείρας καὶ τὰ ἄλλα ποιήσας ὁπόσα περὶ τὰ φυτὰ περιμένει τὰς ὥρας καὶ τὸν ἐκεῖθεν πόρον, μετὰ μὲν εὐχῶν καταβάλλων τὰ σπέρματα, τῶν δὲ καρπῶν ἀπαρχόμενος τοῖς δεδωκόσι θεοῖς, φιλοπραγμοσύνης ὅτι πλεῖστον ἀπέχων ἅτε ἐν βουσὶ καὶ προβάτοις καὶ αἰξὶ διατρίβων, ὥστε μοι δοκοῦσι καὶ ῥᾷον τυγχάνειν τῶν θεῶν, ἡνίκα ἂν αὐτοὺς καλῶσιν αἰτοῦντες ἑαυτοῖς ἀγαθά, οὐ γὰρ δὴ ἑτέροις κακά.
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, Query XIX:
Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had a chosen people, whose breasts he has made his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue. It is the focus in which he keeps alive that sacred fire, which otherwise might escape from the face of the earth. Corruption of morals in the mass of cultivators is a phaenomenon of which no age nor nation has furnished an example. It is the mark set on those, who not looking up to heaven, to their own soil and industry, as does the husbandman, for their subsistance, depend for it on the casualties and caprice of customers. Dependance begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition. This, the natural progress and consequence of the arts, has sometimes perhaps been retarded by accidental circumstances: but, generally speaking, the proportion which the aggregate of the other classes of citizens bears in any state to that of its husbandmen, is the proportion of its unsound to its healthy parts, and is a good-enough barometer whereby to measure its degree of corruption. While we have land to labour then, let us never wish to see our citizens occupied at a work-bench, or twirling a distaff.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024


The Beginning of a Greek Play

Sophocles, Women of Trachis (tr. Ezra Pound):
"No man knows his luck 'til he's dead."
They've been saying that for a long time
but it's not true in my case. Mine's soggy.
Don't have to go to hell to find that out.

I had a worse scare about getting married than any
girl in Pleuron, my father's place in Aetolia.
First came a three-twisted river, Akheloös,
part bullheaded cloud, he looked like,
part like a slicky snake with scales on it
shining, then it would look like a bullheaded man
with water dripping out of his whiskers, black ones.

Bed with that! I ask you!

Λόγος μὲν ἔστ᾿ ἀρχαῖος ἀνθρώπων φανεὶς
ὡς οὐκ ἂν αἰῶν᾿ ἐκμάθοις βροτῶν, πρὶν ἂν
θάνῃ τις, οὔτ᾿ εἰ χρηστὸς οὔτ᾿ εἴ τῳ κακός·
ἐγὼ δὲ τὸν ἐμόν, καὶ πρὶν εἰς Ἅιδου μολεῖν,
ἔξοιδ᾿ ἔχουσα δυστυχῆ τε καὶ βαρύν,        5
ἥτις πατρὸς μὲν ἐν δόμοισιν Οἰνέως
ναίουσ᾿ ἔτ᾿ ἐν Πλευρῶνι νυμφείων ὄτλον
ἄλγιστον ἔσχον, εἴ τις Αἰτωλὶς γυνή.
μνηστὴρ γὰρ ἦν μοι ποταμός, Ἀχελῷον λέγω,
ὅς μ᾿ ἐν τρισὶν μορφαῖσιν ἐξῄτει πατρός,        10
φοιτῶν ἐναργὴς ταῦρος, ἄλλοτ᾿ αἰόλος
δράκων ἑλικτός, ἄλλοτ᾿ ἀνδρείῳ κύτει
βούπρῳρος· ἐκ δὲ δασκίου γενειάδος
κρουνοὶ διερραίνοντο κρηναίου ποτοῦ.
τοιόνδ᾿ ἐγὼ μνηστῆρα προσδεδεγμένη        15
δύστηνος ἀεὶ κατθανεῖν ἐπηυχόμην,
πρὶν τῆσδε κοίτης ἐμπελασθῆναί ποτε.
Some call this "creative translation," e.g. H.A. Mason, "Creative Translation: Ezra Pound's 'Women of Trachis'," Cambridge Quarterly 4.3 (Summer, 1969) 244-272. Others might recall what T.S. Eliot said about Gilbert Murray's translations: "He has erected between Euripides and the reader a barrier more impassable than the Greek language."

If you really want to know what the Greek says, read Jebb's translation, or this one by Hugh Lloyd-Jones:
There is an ancient saying among men, once revealed to them,
that you cannot understand a man’s life before
he is dead, so as to know whether he has a good or bad one.
But I know well, even before going to Hades,
that the one I have is unfortunate and sorrowful.
While I still lived in the house of my father Oeneus, in Pleuron,
I suffered painful affliction in the matter of my wedding, if any Aetolian woman did.
For I had as a wooer a river, I mean Achelous,
who came in three shapes to ask my father for me,
at some times manifest as a bull, at others as a darting,
coiling serpent, and again at others with a man’s trunk
and a bull’s head; and from his shaggy beard
there poured streams of water from his springs.
Expecting such a suitor as that
I was always praying, poor creature, that I might die
before ever coming near his bed.
I may print more excerpts from Pound's version. At least it will give me a stimulus to reread the play in Greek.



Strabo 3.2.15 (tr. Horace Leonard Jones):
The Turdetanians, however, and particularly those that live about the Baetis, have completely changed over to the Roman mode of life, not even remembering their own language any more.

οἱ μέντοι Τουρδητανοί, καὶ μάλιστα οἱ περὶ τὸν Βαῖτιν, τελέως εἰς τὸν Ῥωμαίων μεταβέβληνται τρόπον, οὐδὲ τῆς διαλέκτου τῆς σφετέρας ἔτι μεμνημένοι.
See Benedict Lowe, "Οὐδὲ τῆς διαλέκτου τῆς σφετέρας ἔτι μεμνημένοι: the disappearance of indigenous languages in Republican Iberia," Rhesis 7.1 (2016) 44-55.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024



Ovid, Tristia 1.3.68 (tr. A.L. Wheeler):
The hour granted me is so much gain.

in lucro est quae datur hora mihi.

Monday, June 17, 2024



Homer, Odyssey 16.294 = 19.13 (tr. A.T. Murray):
For of itself does the iron draw a man to it.

αὐτὸς γὰρ ἐφέλκεται ἄνδρα σίδηρος.
Joseph Russo on 19.13:
apparently a proverb, used here to add persuasiveness by an appeal to traditional wisdom (cf. note to xvii 347, where an apparent proverb also closes a speech). Although meant as a warning against the temptation to resort to weapons in a drunken quarrel—a common danger in heroic societies—this proverb may have older origins in an awareness of the magnetic, and hence magical, properties of iron. So M. Cary and A.D. Nock, CQ xxi (1927), 125-6. And perhaps the early availability of meteoric iron contributed to this belief: G.A. Wainwright, Antiquity x (1936), 6: ‘Iron was the thunderbolt, one of the most appalling powers in Nature’. The use of ‘iron’ as the word for an unspecified weapon, instead of the more normal ‘bronze’ (cf. xi 120, xix 522, xx 315, and throughout the fight in xxii), is criticized by Lorimer, Monuments, 510, as ‘an unexampled breach of epic convention’ (but see 119-20 for what she admits are ‘partial exceptions’), but this is hardly an adequate reason for doubting the line’s authenticity.


An Obsession With the Lavatory

Peter Brown, The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), p. 78:
Tertullian spoke for the New Prophecy, advocating long fasts and continence with unrelenting, medical precision. Fasting was necessary, otherwise
the whole dwelling-place of the inner person becomes blocked up with food . . . a thought-flow panting to burn off its load of excrement becomes no more than an obsession with the lavatory. Nothing else remains but to pass on from this to thoughts of lust.78
78 Tertullian, de ieiunio 5.1, Corpus Christianorum 2:1261.
The Tertullian reference is incorrect — it should be de ieiunio 6.1, Corpus Christianorum 2:1262:
totum illud domicilium interioris hominis escis stipatum, uinis inundatum, decoquendis iam stercoribus exaestuans praemeditatorium efficitur latrinarum, in quo plane nihil tam in proximo supersit quam ad lasciuiam sapere.
As many have noted, Tertullian is imitated by Jerome, Against Jovinianum 2.12 = Patrologia Latina, vol. 23, col. 315 (tr. W.H. Fremantle):
But even if our food be the commonest, we must avoid repletion. For nothing is so destructive to the mind as a full belly, fermenting like a wine vat and giving forth its gases on all sides. What sort of fasting is it, or what refreshment is there after fasting, when we are blown out with yesterday's dinner, and our stomach is made a factory for the closet? We wish to get credit for protracted abstinence, and all the while we devour so much that a day and a night can scarcely digest it. The proper name to give it is not fasting, but rather debauch and rank indigestion.

Sed et ex vilissimis cibis vitanda satietas est. Nihil enim ita obruit animum, ut plenus venter et exaestuans, et huc illucque se vertens, et in ructus vel in crepitus ventorum efflatione respirans. Quale illud jejunium est, aut qualis illa refectio post jejunium, cum pridianis epulis distendimur, et guttur nostrum meditatorium efficitur latrinarum? Dumque volumus prolixioris inediae famam quaerere, tantum voramus, quantum vix alterius diei nox digerat. Itaque non tam jejunium appellandum est, quam crapula, ac fetens, et molesta digestio.
The passage from Jerrome translated a bit more literally:
But even if our food be the commonest, we must avoid repletion. For nothing is so destructive to the mind as a full belly, seething and turning itself hither and thither and transforming its gases into belches and farts. What sort of fasting is it, or what refreshment is there after fasting, when we are swollen with yesterday's dinner, and our gullet is made a preparation for latrines? We wish to get credit for protracted abstinence, and all the while we devour so much that the night of a second day can scarcely digest it. The proper name to give it is not fasting, but rather debauch and rank indigestion.

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Sunday, June 16, 2024


Lytton Strachey

Gilbert Highet (1906-1978), A Clerk of Oxenford (1954; rpt. New York: Oxford University Press, 1970), p. 47:
Is he read nowadays at all? I never hear anyone talk of him. Of course, this proves nothing. Many a writer, including some of those whom he admired, has failed of admiration until long after his death. Perhaps the time has not come for Strachey to be enjoyed. If our own civilization should move more and more completely into a period of perfect officialdom and supreme organization, with everything arranged by the State, everything authorized and docketed in triplicate and quadruplicate, with a group of unchallengeably powerful officials at the top directing everybody's lives, then the clawed and sharp-toothed critics like Strachey will be prized more and more—not as historians but as satirists—and, if they survive at all, will be read with more and more enthusiasm. At least, until the officials find out ...


Raison d'Être

Juvenal 11.11 (tr. Susanna Morton Braund):
Their only reason for living lies in gourmandise.

... in solo vivendi causa palato est.

versum secl. Willis ("versus glossatoris ingenium sapit")
Francesco Bracci ad loc.:
L’accusa di vivere al solo scopo di mangiare è diffusa nella letteratura filosofica e moralistica; fra i tanti esempi si possono citare i proemi di entrambe le monografie sallustiane (Cat. 2, 8; Iug. 2, 4), Demostene, De cor. 296 ἄνθρωποι μιαροὶ καὶ κόλακες καὶ ἀλάστορες... τῇ γαστρὶ μετροῦντες καὶ τοῖς αἰσχίστοις τὴν εὐδαιμονίαν; Senofonte, Mem. 1, 6, 8; Cic. Fin. 2, 40 ad pastum et procreandi voluptatem; Red. Sen. 13 e 55; Sen. Ep. 55, 5 ille sibi non vivit, sed, quod est turpissimum, ventri, somno, libidini; Dial. 10, 7, 1; altri esempi in Otto 1890, edere. In molti dei passi citati la gola è associata spesso al sonno e alla libidine sessuale, ma nella nostra satira, conformemente al tema, la critica è rivolta esclusivamente contro il lusso della tavola. Anche la scelta di palatum per indicare metonimicamente il peccato di gola (invece del più frequente venter) è funzionale a una critica che colpisce specificamente la ricerca di raffinatezze culinarie; palatum si trova spesso in contesti analoghi (il palato come oggetto di una stimolazione artificiale al fine di provare piacere); cfr. 10, 203-4 non eadem vini atque cibi torpente palato/ gaudia; Var. Men. 549 Astbury2 multinummus piscis… quivit palatum suscitare; Sen. Ben. 4, 6, 3 unde ista palatum tuum saporibus exquisitis ultra satietatem lacessentia?; altri esempi in TLL, 110, 65-111, 10.
Related posts:

Saturday, June 15, 2024


Culture and Civilization

Hugh Kenner, The Pound Era (1971; rpt. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974), p. 540:
A ham came from Harry Meacham in Richmond ("THAT HAM is kulchur, THAT ham is civilization," he had written of a previous Virginia offering).
Jane Grigson, Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery (1967; rpt. London: Grub Street, 2001), p. 7:
It could be said that European civilization — and Chinese civilization too — has been founded on the pig. Easily domesticated, omnivorous household and village scavenger, clearer of scrub and undergrowth, devourer of forest acorns, yet content with a sty — and delightful when cooked or cured, from his snout to his tail. There has been prejudice against him, but those peoples — certainly not including the French — who have disliked the pig and insist that he is unclean eating, are rationalizing their own descent and past history: they were once nomads, and the one thing you can't do with a pig is to drive him in herds over vast distances.
An interest in pigs runs in my family. Here is a news item about my great-grandfather, from the Kansas City Times (Friday, October 14, 1892), p. 5:
E.B. Gilleland of Gunn City., Mo., sold a nice lot of hogs yesterday.

From a friend:
As chance would have it I cooked "cinta ibérica" this afternoon....Nothing to it: olive oil, garlic and rosemary.
Related posts:

Friday, June 14, 2024


A Good Land

Homer, Odyssey 15.405-411 (tr. A.T. Murray):
It is not so very thickly settled, but it is a good land,
rich in herds, rich in flocks, full of wine, abounding in wheat.
Famine never comes into the land, nor does any
hateful sickness besides fall on wretched mortals;
but when the tribes of men grow old throughout the city,
Apollo, of the silver bow, comes with Artemis,
and assails them with his gentle shafts, and slays them.

οὔ τι περιπληθὴς λίην τόσον, ἀλλ᾽ ἀγαθὴ μέν,        405
εὔβοτος, εὔμηλος, οἰνοπληθής, πολύπυρος.
πείνη δ᾽ οὔ ποτε δῆμον ἐσέρχεται, οὐδέ τις ἄλλη
νοῦσος ἐπὶ στυγερὴ πέλεται δειλοῖσι βροτοῖσιν·
ἀλλ᾽ ὅτε γηράσκωσι πόλιν κάτα φῦλ᾽ ἀνθρώπων,
ἐλθὼν ἀργυρότοξος Ἀπόλλων Ἀρτέμιδι ξὺν        410
οἷς ἀγανοῖς βελέεσσιν ἐποιχόμενος κατέπεφνεν.

406 εὔβοτος codd.: εὔβοος Jacob Wackernagel, Sprachliche Untersuchungen zu Homer (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1916), pp. 245-246
J.N. Adams, Asyndeton and its Interpretation in Latin Literature: History, Patterns, Textual Criticism (Cambridge University Press, 2021), page number unknown (on line 406):
The unity of the first pair (referring to types of livestock) is underlined by the repeated prefix. The second pair has a loose unity too, in that both terms denote an abundance of certain products of the land.
All four elements of line 406 (oxen, sheep, wine, grain) appear in the Old Hittite Telepinu Proclamation (Catalogue des Textes Hittites 19), § 20 (i 66'-68'), although I don't know if anyone has noticed the parallel. See the text and translation in Andrew Knapp, Royal Apologetic in the Ancient Near East (Atlanta: Society for Biblical Literature, 2015), pp. 83-84, 96 (translation here on p. 96 only):
And Ammuna ruled. And the gods sought (vengeance for) the blood of his father, Zidanta, and into his hand the barley, wine, oxen (and) sheep [they did] no[t ...] in (his) hand.
Calvert Watkins (1933-2013), How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 209, mentioned the passage from the Telepinu Proclamation, but didn't connect it to Homer, Odyssey 15.406.



Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams (May 14, 1820):
When I meet with a proposition beyond finite comprehension, I abandon it as I do a weight which human strength cannot lift: and I think ignorance, in these cases, is truly the softest pillow on which I can lay my head.

Thursday, June 13, 2024


Unnecessary Supplies

Bruce Catton, This Hallowed Ground (Garden City: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1956), pp. 180-181:
“Knapsacks,” wrote one veteran scornfully, “were a foot above their heads; overcoats, two suits of clothes and underwear, all kinds of trimmings, bear’s oil for the hair, gifts from loving and well-meaning friends but useless to the soldier. On the back of their knapsacks were strapped frying-pans, coffee pots and stew pans, pairs of boots hanging to the knapsacks, blankets and ponchos, making in weight one hundred pounds to the man, while the vet carried about twenty-five pounds.”

In the Army of the Potomac, old-timers hooted at the new 118th Pennsylvania, which came in equipped with oversized knapsacks, extra pants, and other incidentals, and told the recruits to throw all that stuff away (starting with the knapsacks themselves) and roll up their essentials in their blankets. A rolled blanket could be tied in a horse-collar loop and worn over the shoulder; it weighed little and there were no straps to cut a man’s collarbones on a long march.


Currying Favor with Voters

Aristophanes, Knights 910-911 (tr. Alan H. Sommerstein):
PAPHLAGON [kneeling before Demos]: Blow your nose, Demos, and then wipe your hand on my head.
SAUSAGE-SELLER: No, on mine!
PAPHLAGON: No, on mine!

ἀπομυξάμενος, ὦ Δῆμέ, μου πρὸς τὴν κεφαλὴν ἀποψῶ.
ἐμοῦ μὲν οὖν.
ἐμοῦ μὲν οὖν.


Elementary Greek Class

Eleanor Dickey, "Mabel Louise Lang (1917-2010)," Classical World 104.4 (Summer, 2011) 504-505 (at 504):
Despite the importance of her research, Lang's main contribution to the profession was probably her teaching, particularly her legendary elementary Greek class, through which she introduced more than a thousand students to the Greek language. Many of her former elementary Greek students went on to enter the profession, as classicists, archaeologists, historians, and historical linguists, and all share a deep appreciation of the thoroughness with which they learned Greek, coupled with a tremendous relief at never needing to go through an experience like that again. Lang's classes, from elementary to graduate level, were famous for their impossible workload, but at the same time she had a cult status that led to her classes being over-subscribed: when the 9 A.M. elementary Greek class filled up she could offer an extra section at 8 A.M. and fill that too.
Eleanor Dickey and Richard Hamilton, "Mabel Louise Lang:12 November 1917-21 July 2010)," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 156.2 (June, 2012) 245-250 (at 248-249):
Despite her impressive research record, Miss Lang (as she was known to her students) was always first and foremost a teacher. Happily shouldering a load of ten or more teaching hours each semester, she taught on a regular basis everything from elementary Greek and mythology to graduate seminars, and was legendary for giving every student in every class an extraordinary level of care and attention. She inspired a rare mixture of terror and adoration that caused students to discover capacities for learning that they had no idea they possessed.

Miss Lang's signature undergraduate course, which she offered nearly every year from the time she joined the faculty until her retirement, was elementary ("Baby") Greek, a course renowned among the undergraduate population as the ultimate Bryn Mawr experience. In the first semester the students learned all the grammar of ancient Greek, and in the second they read Plato's Apology and Crito, the Gospel according to Matthew (for sight translation practice), and sometimes Euripides' Alcestis as well. The course offered not only a solid foundation for future study of Greek, but also friends for life in the form of the other students who had survived the experience.

Despite meeting at nine a.m. four days a week, Baby Greek was so well attended that often a second section had to be added at eight a.m.; in a college with an annual intake of fewer than three hundred students, Miss Lang's Baby Greek classes had an average enrollment of twenty-two and in some years more than twice that number. During her teaching career she introduced nearly a thousand students to the Greek language via this course. Each year's students were ruthlessly compared with those from preceding years and told how far they fell behind (more than one group heard, "I've taught this class every year for forty years, and this is the worst group of students I've ever had!" or "Ten years ago we were three chapters ahead by this date!"). Yet these tactics only served to increase her status among the students.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024



Clive James (1939-2019), "Gianfranco Contini," Cultural Amnesia (2007; rpt. London: Picador, 2012), pp. 133-144 (at 134, translating Contini):
Unfortunately, the custom of learning by heart has disappeared in the schools, and as a consequence the very use of memory has gone with it. Nobody knows how to read verse. My best students, notably gifted philologists, can’t recognize by ear whether a line is hendecasyllabic or not: they have to count on their fingers.

quoted in Diligenzia e Voluttà [Diligence and Enjoyment]:
Ludovica Ripa di Meana Interroga Gianfranco Contini, p. 100
Id. (at 135):
There is an untranslatable Italian word for the mental bank account you acquire by memorizing poetry: it is a gazofilacio. Contini believed that an accumulation of such treasure would eventually prove its worth even if it had to begin with sweated labour. He confessed that not all of the teachers who had made him memorize a regular ration of Tasso’s epic poetry had been inspired. Some of them had held him to the allotted task because they lacked imagination, not because they possessed it. But in the long run he was grateful. Most readers of this book will spot the sensitive point about modern pedagogy. Readers my age were made to memorize and recite: their yawns of boredom were discounted. Younger readers have been spared such indignities. Who was lucky? Isn’t a form of teaching that avoids all prescription really a form of therapy? In a course called Classical Studies taught by teachers who possess scarcely a word of Latin or Greek, suffering is avoided, but isn’t it true that nothing is gained except the absence of suffering? In his best novel, White Noise, Don DeLillo made a running joke out of a professor of German history who could not read German. But the time has already arrived when such a joke does not register as funny. What have we gained, except a classroom in which no one need feel excluded?


Rural Seclusion

Verses by Marbod of Rennes (1035-1123), translated and quoted by Erwin Panofsky, Renaissance and Renascences in Western Art (New York: Harper & Row, 1972), pp.74-75, with his note:
My uncle has a farm out in the woods,
Where I withdraw, having cast off the squalor
Of all the worries that torment mankind.
Its verdant grass, the silent woods, the gentle
And playful breezes, and the spring, vivacious
Amidst the herbs, refresh the weary mind—
Restore my self to me and make me rest
Within me ...

Rus habet in silva patruus meus; huc mihi saepe
Mos est abjectis curarum sordibus, et quae
Excruciant hominem, secedere ruris amoena;
Herba virens, et silva silens, et spiritus aurae
Lenis et festivus, et fons in gramine vivus
Defessam mentem recreant, et me mihi reddunt,
Et faciunt in me consistere...

For Marbod of Rennes, see Manitius, op. cit., III, p. 719ff. and passim; Raby, Christian-Latin Poetry, p. 273 ff.; idem, Secular Latin Poetry, I, p. 329ff. The beautiful poem partly quoted and translated in my text is found in Patrologia Latina, CLXXI, col. 1665 ff. (cf. also another poem, ibidem, col. 1717, extensively quoted by Raby, Secular Latin Poetry, I, p. 336). For the tendency of learned men of the twelfth century to withdraw into monastic or pastoral seclusion, see the life histories of Marbod of Rennes and Baudry of Bourgueil (Raby, Christian-Latin Poetry, p. 273 ff., particularly p. 278) and, more especially, E.H. Kantorowicz, Die Wiederkehr gelehrter Anachorese im Mittelalter, Stuttgart 1937.
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024


Joy Even in Woes

Homer, Odyssey 15.398-401 (tr. A.T. Murray):
But we two will drink and feast in the hut,
and will take delight each in the other's grievous woes,
as we recall them to mind. For in after time a man finds joy even in woes,
whosoever has suffered much, and wandered much.

νῶϊ δ᾽ ἐνὶ κλισίῃ πίνοντέ τε δαινυμένω τε

κήδεσιν ἀλλήλων τερπώμεθα λευγαλέοισι,
μνωομένω· μετὰ γάρ τε καὶ ἄλγεσι τέρπεται ἀνήρ,        400
ὅς τις δὴ μάλα πολλὰ πάθῃ καὶ πόλλ᾽ ἐπαληθῇ.

Monday, June 10, 2024



Sallust, The War Against Jugurtha 53.8 (tr. William W. Batstone):
And so, joy suddenly replaced fear: the soldiers happily called to each other; they told and listened to stories, each man extolled to the skies his brave deeds. To be sure, that is the way human affairs are: in victory, the coward is allowed to boast; failure discredits even the brave.

igitur pro metu repente gaudium mutatur: milites alius alium laeti appellant, acta edocent atque audiunt, sua quisque fortia facta ad caelum fert. quippe res humanae ita sese habent: in victoria vel ignavis gloriari licet, adversae res etiam bonos detrectant.


The Joy of Pedants

Theodore Dalrymple, "Prophetic warnings," The Critic (June 9, 2024):
Error, after all, is the joy of pedants, whether the error be serious or trivial.

Sunday, June 09, 2024


Description of Ireland

Some verses by Donatus of Fiesole, in Ludwig Traube, ed., Poetarum Latinorum Medii Aevi, vol. III (Berlin: Weidmann, 1896), p. 691 (tr. Ossianic Society):
Far westward lies an isle of ancient fame,
By nature blessed and Scotia is her name.
An island rich; exhaustless is her store
Of veiny silver and of golden ore.
Her fruitful soil forever teems with wealth,
With gems her water and her air with health.
Her verdant fields with milk and honey flow,
Her woolly fleeces vie with virgin snow;
Her waving furrows float with bearded corn,
And arms and arts her envied sons adorn.
No savage bear with ruthless fury roves,
Nor ravening lion through her sacred groves;
No poison there infects, no scaly snake
Creeps through the grass, nor frog annoys the lake;
An island worthy of its pious race,
In war triumphant, and unmatched in peace.

Finibus occiduis describitur optima tellus
    nomine et antiquis Scottia scripta libris.
dives opum, argenti, gemmarum, vestis et auri,
    commoda corporibus, aere, putre solo.
melle fluit pulchris et lacte Scottia campis,
    vestibus atque armis, frugibus, arte, viris.
ursorum rabies nulla est ibi, saeva leonum
    semina nec umquam Scottica terra tulit.
nulla venena nocent nec serpens serpit in herba
    nec conquesta canit garrula rana lacu.
in qua Scottorum gentes habitare merentur,
    inclita gens hominum milite, pace, fide.
Also in D.N. Kissane, "Uita Metrica Sanctae Brigidae: A Critical Edition with Introduction, Commentary and Indexes," Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy: Archaeology, Culture, History, Literature 77 (1977) 57-192 (at 83, lines 125-135), whence these notes:



Augustine, Sermons 191.1 (Patrologia Latina, vol. 38, col. 1010; tr. Edmund Hill, with his note):
The maker of man, he was made man, so that the director of the stars might be a babe at the breast; that bread might be hungry, and the fountain thirsty; that the light might sleep, and the way be weary from a journey; that the truth might be accused by false witnesses, and the judge of the living and the dead be judged by a mortal judge; that justice might be convicted by the unjust, and discipline be scourged with whips; that the cluster of grapes might be crowned with thorns, and the foundation be hung up on a tree; that strength might grow weak, eternal health be wounded, life die.2

2. Here are some of the texts alluded to in this elaborate chain of paradoxes: Ps 147:4; Jn 6:35; Lk 4:2; Ps 36:9; In 7:38; Jn 19:28; Jn 8:12; Mk 4:38; Jn 14:6, 4:6; Jn 14:6; Mk 14:57; 2 Tim 4:1; Mt 27:26; 1 Cor 1:30; Mk 14:64; Nm 13:23; Mk 15:17; 1 Cor 3:11; Jn 14:6.

Homo factus, hominis factor: ut sugeret ubera, regens sidera; ut esuriret panis, ut sitiret fons, dormiret lux, ab itinere via fatigaretur, falsis testibus veritas accusaretur, iudex vivorum et mortuorum a iudice mortali iudicaretur, ab iniustis iustitia damnaretur, flagellis disciplina caederetur, spinis botrus coronaretur, in ligno fundamentum suspenderetur, virtus infirmaretur, salus vulneraretur, vita moreretur.
See Eduard Norden, Die antike Kunstprosa, Bd. 2 (Berlin: B.G. Teubner, 1923), pp. 622-623.



Demosthenes 19.296 (On the Dishonest Embassy; tr. Harvey Yunis):
There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that warrants greater vigilance than letting some individual rise above the many.

οὐ γὰρ ἔστιν, οὐκ ἔσθ᾽ ὅ τι τῶν πάντων μᾶλλον εὐλαβεῖσθαι δεῖ ἢ τὸ μείζω τινὰ τῶν πολλῶν ἐᾶν γίγνεσθαι.

Saturday, June 08, 2024


Advice for a Statesman

Plutarch, Precepts of Statecraft 14 (Moralia 809e; tr. Harold North Fowler):
For the statesman should not regard any fellow-citizen as an enemy, unless some man, such as Aristion, Nabis, or Catiline, should appear who is a pest and a running sore to the State.

δεῖ γὰρ ἐχθρὸν μηδένα πολίτην νομίζειν, ἂν μή τις, οἷος Ἀριστίων ἢ Νάβις ἢ Κατιλίνας νόσημα καὶ ἀπόστημα πόλεως ἐγγένηται.

Friday, June 07, 2024


God Giveth the Increase

Homer, Odyssey 15.371-372 (tr. Peter Green):
                                       Yet the blessed gods
prosper the work of my hands, at which I labor.

                                                ἀλλά μοι αὐτῷ
ἔργον ἀέξουσιν μάκαρες θεοὶ ᾧ ἐπιμίμνω.
ἐπιμίμνω = ἐπιμένω.

Wednesday, June 05, 2024


Nothing Worse

Homer, Odyssey 15.343-345 (tr. Richmond Lattimore):
There is nothing worse for mortal men than the vagrant
life, but still for the sake of the cursed stomach people
endure hard sorrows, when roving and pain and grief befall them.

πλαγκτοσύνης δ᾽ οὐκ ἔστι κακώτερον ἄλλο βροτοῖσιν·
ἀλλ᾽ ἕνεκ᾽ οὐλομένης γαστρὸς κακὰ κήδε᾽ ἔχουσιν
ἀνέρες, ὅν τιν᾽ ἵκηται ἄλη καὶ πῆμα καὶ ἄλγος.        345
W.B. Stanford ad loc.:
343. 'There is nothing worse for mortal men than going astray.' Note O.'s attitude to his travels: he was no romantic adventurer indulging his Wanderlust, but a weary ex-soldier always yearning to reach home—yet, it must be added, with enough vitality and curiosity to take an interest in his enforced travels. But now, looking back on them, in this line he gives his melancholy considered judgement. With πλαγκτοσύνη cp. πλάγχθη in 1, 2: it implies unwilling deflection from one's chosen course.

344-5. ἀλλ᾽ κ.τ.λ.: 'But the fact is that men suffer cruelly to satisfy their accursed belly, involving themselves in wandering, sorrow, and woe '. ἀλλά here has its common eliminative force 'substituting the true for the false' (Denniston, G.P. p. 1) after a negative clause. οὐλομένη (2 aor. mid. part. of ὄλλυμι, used as an adj.) has the force of the English slang expression 'his perishing' so-and-so. Schulze explains it as a development from the imprecation ὄλοιο or ὄλοιτο 'may it perish', as ὀνήμενος from ὄναιο (ὀνίνημι).

Tuesday, June 04, 2024


Plato's Foggy Mind

Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams (July 5, 1814):
I am just returned from one of my long absences, having been at my other home for five weeks past. Having more leisure there than here for reading, I amused myself with reading seriously Plato's republic. I am wrong however in calling it amusement, for it was the heaviest task-work I ever went through. I had occasionally before taken up some of his other works, but scarcely ever had patience to go through a whole dialogue. While wading thro' the whimsies, the puerilities, and unintelligible jargon of this work, I laid it down often to ask myself how it could have been that the world should have so long consented to give reputation to such nonsense as this? How the soi-disant Christian world indeed should have done it, is a piece of historical curiosity. But how could the Roman good sense do it? And particularly how could Cicero bestow such eulogies on Plato? Altho' Cicero did not wield the dense logic of Demosthenes, yet he was able, learned, laborious, practised in the business of the world, and honest. He could not be the dupe of mere style, of which he was himself the first master in the world. With the Moderns, I think, it is rather a matter of fashion and authority. Education is chiefly in the hands of persons who, from their profession, have an interest in the reputation and the dreams of Plato. They give the tone while at school, and few, in their after-years, have occasion to revise their college opinions. But fashion and authority apart, and bringing Plato to the test of reason, take from him his sophisms, futilities, and incomprehensibilities, and what remains? In truth, he is one of the race of genuine Sophists, who has escaped the oblivion of his brethren, first by the elegance of his diction, but chiefly by the adoption and incorporation of his whimsies into the body of artificial Christianity. His foggy mind, is forever presenting the semblances of objects which, half seen thro' a mist, can be defined neither in form or dimension. Yet this which should have consigned him to early oblivion really procured him immortality of fame and reverence. The Christian priesthood, finding the doctrines of Christ levelled to every understanding, and too plain to need explanation, saw, in the mysticisms of Plato, materials with which they might build up an artificial system which might, from it's indistinctness, admit everlasting controversy, give employment for their order, and introduce it to profit, power and pre-eminence. The doctrines which flowed from the lips of Jesus himself are within the comprehension of a child; but thousands of volumes have not yet explained the Platonisms engrafted on them: and for this obvious reason that nonsense can never be explained. Their purposes however are answered. Plato is canonized; and it is now deemed as impious to question his merits as those of an Apostle of Jesus. He is peculiarly appealed to as an advocate of the immortality of the soul; and yet I will venture to say that were there no better arguments than his in proof of it, not a man in the world would believe it. It is fortunate for us that Platonic republicanism has not obtained the same favor as Platonic Christianity; or we should now have been all living, men, women and children, pell mell together, like beasts of the field or forest.
Jefferson's "other home" was Poplar Forest. He may have read Plato's Republic in the Bipontine edition.

John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson (July 16, 1814):
I am very glad you have seriously read Plato: and still more rejoiced to find that your reflections upon him so perfectly harmonize with mine. Some thirty Years ago I took upon me the severe task of going through all his Works. With the help of two Latin Translations, and one English and one French Translation and comparing some of the most remarkable passages with the Greek, I laboured through the tedious toil. My disappointment was very great, my Astonishment was greater and my disgust was shocking.
Thanks to Kevin Muse for help with this post.

Related post: Abstract versus Concrete.


Prudent Racine, Patriote of 1837, My 3rd Great-Grandfather

David Vermette, "Prudent Racine: Patriote of 1837, Rebel Against Entrenched Power and Privilege," French North America (July 31, 2012).

Line of descent:
Prudent Racine (1807-1881)
Philibert Racine (1845-1900, aka Philip Root)
Grace Albina Racine (1868-1947)
Eddie Paiement (1895-1971), my grandfather
See Copy of the report of the Commissioners appointed in Lower Canada, under an ordinance of 1 Vict.c.7, to inquire into the losses sustained during the late Rebellion; Also the names of persons who claimed compensation before the commissioners and the amount of their claims (1840), pp. 16 (claim dismissed) and 29 (list of rebels).

Henri Julien (1852-1908), Le Patriote:
The Monument des Patriotes (Cimetière-de-Notre-Dame-des-Neiges, Montréal, Québec) commemorates those who died in the battles of Saint-Eustache, Saint-Denis, and Saint-Charles, as well as the twelve patriots executed in 1839:
Photograph of Prudent Racine and his wife Eleonore Combe Brindamour (Roxton Falls, Québec):

Monday, June 03, 2024


No Room for Compromise

Sallust, The War Against Jugurtha 31.23-24 (tr. William W. Batstone):
As for trust and harmony, what hope is there for that? They want to be masters, you want to be free; they want to break the law, you want to stop them; finally, they treat our allies like enemies, our enemies like allies. With such different ideas about the world can there be peace or friendship between you?

nam fidei quidem aut concordiae quae spes est? dominari illi volunt, vos liberi esse; facere illi iniurias, vos prohibere; postremo sociis nostris veluti hostibus, hostibus pro sociis utuntur. potestne in tam divorsis mentibus pax aut amicitia esse?


Dangers of Prominence

Herodotus 7.10ε (tr. Robin Waterfield):
You can see how the god blasts living things that are prominent and prevents their display of superiority, while small creatures don't irritate him at all; you can see that it is always the largest buildings and the tallest trees on which he hurls his thunderbolts. It is the god's way to curtail anything excessive.

ὁρᾷς τὰ ὑπερέχοντα ζῷα ὡς κεραυνοῖ ὁ θεὸς οὐδὲ ἐᾷ φαντάζεσθαι, τὰ δὲ σμικρὰ οὐδέν μιν κνίζει· ὁρᾷς δὲ ὡς ἐς οἰκήματα τὰ μέγιστα αἰεὶ καὶ δένδρεα τὰ τοιαῦτα ἀποσκήπτει τὰ βέλεα· φιλέει γὰρ ὁ θεὸς τὰ ὑπερέχοντα πάντα κολούειν.


Effects of Wine

Homer, Odyssey 14.462-466 (tr. Richmond Lattimore):
Hear me now, Eumaios and all you other companions.
What I say will be a bit of boasting. The mad wine tells me
to do it. Wine sets even a thoughtful man to singing,
or sets him into softly laughing, sets him to dancing.
Sometimes it tosses out a word that was better unspoken.

κέκλυθι νῦν, Εὔμαιε καὶ ἄλλοι πάντες ἑταῖροι,
εὐξάμενός τι ἔπος ἐρέω· οἶνος γὰρ ἀνώγει
ἠλεός, ὅς τ᾽ ἐφέηκε πολύφρονά περ μάλ᾽ ἀεῖσαι
καί θ᾽ ἁπαλὸν γελάσαι, καί τ᾽ ὀρχήσασθαι ἀνῆκε,        465
καί τι ἔπος προέηκεν ὅ περ τ᾽ ἄρρητον ἄμεινον.
W.B. Stanford on lines 463-466:
O. describes the earlier (the 'merry') stages of intoxication: singing, laughing [ἁπαλὸν is better taken pejoratively as 'feebly', rather than 'gently' with L.-S.-J.], dancing and unrestrained talk. For the disgusting and dangerous next stage see 9, 371-4 and 21, 304. Wine was not a luxury to the Greeks, but a pleasant necessity of life. H. mentions its aroma, taste, colour (always red or dark red in H.), as well as its keeping properties and potency (for references see on 9, 196). Drunkenness was despised (cp. οἰνοβαρής as an abusive word in Il. 1, 225), not pitied. The triple rhyme of -ηκε conceivably may be designed to suggest a drunken jingle here.
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