Friday, November 21, 2014
We Have Gone Astray
Animals as critics.—I fear that the animals consider man as a being like themselves that has lost in a most dangerous way its sound animal common sense. They consider him the insane animal, the laughing animal, the weeping animal, and the miserable animal.Related post: Lessons from Animals.
Kritik der Thiere.—Ich fürchte, die Thiere betrachten den Menschen als ein Wesen Ihresgleichen, das in höchst gefährlicher Weise den gesunden Thierverstand verloren hat,—als das wahnwitzige Thier, als das lachende Thier, als das weinende Thier, als das unglückselige Thier.
Prince Charles is often mocked for believing that trees can communicate with one another (see e.g. Charles Booth, 'What kind of King will Charles III be?' in The Guardian for 19 Nov. 2014); but scientists have recently verified the fact (see e.g. http://www.wired.com/2013/12/secret-language-of-plants/); and it will not come as any surprise to poets, especially Latin poets. For example:
CLAUDIAN, Epithalamium 65-8 (quoted by Jacob Balde in his Interpretatio Somnii, p. 60):
vivunt in Venerem frondes omnisque vicissimCASIMIR SARBIEWSKI, Epode 1.127 ff. (the 'maestae aves' are turtledoves and nightingales):
felix arbor amat: nutant ad mutua palmae
foedera; populeo suspirat populus ictu,
Et platani platanis, alnoque assilibat alnus.
The leaves but live for love; each happy tree
loves its own kind: a palm nods at another,
a poplar sighs, love-smitten for a poplar;
plane-trees to plane-trees, alder to alder whispers.
Quaecumque maestae vocibus dicunt aves,JACOB BALDE, Lyrica 3.45.37 ff. (echoing Claudian and Sarbiewski):
Respondet argutum nemus.
Affatur alnum quercus, ornum populus,
Affatur ilex ilicem, 130
Et se vicissim collocuta redditis
Arbusta solantur sonis.
And to whatever sounds the sad birds sing
the shapely grove responds.
Oak speaks to alder, poplar to the ash,
a holm-oak to a holm-oak,
and in responsive whispered conversations
orchards console themselves.
... Clarius interimAs for plants communing with humans, I suppose that science has not yet 'discovered' this; but of course poetry has; e.g. famously in Horace's enchanting description of Orpheus at c. 1.12.7-12. That is echoed by Balde in Lyr. 2.20.29-40; and I will end with this, because it also describes the 'marriages' among plants, with which I began:
Ventis loquuntur flantibus arbores.
Quercum salutat prona quercus,
Contiguam soror alnus alnum.
... Meanwhile brightlier,
as the winds blow, the trees speak: a steep oak
salutes an oak; an alder,
a nearby sister alder.
At non et arbor nulla canentibus
Demittit aureis. Vidi ego sibilo
Crispante ramos, colla ramos
Flectere, et alloquio moveri. 10
Sentit Poëtas mitius arborum
Genus, sacri non immemor Orphei.
Agnoscit ex illo Camoenas
Nutibus, et foliorum acuto
Susurrat imbri. connubialia 15
Vidi Lyaeum tendere brachia:
Vitesque desponsas, ad ulmum
Viminibus viduam ligari.
And there are even trees that prick their ears
at singers. I have seen boughs curl, and hiss,
and bend their necks, excited
at being spoken to.
The race of trees thinks tenderly of Poets.
They all remember sacred Orpheus.
When they hear verse they nod
and sigh, or make a noise
like hissing rain. I have seen Bacchus stretching
a husband's arms; seen vine-sprays, all betrothed,
clinging tight by their tendrils
to the unmarried elm-tree.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
What Christianity put forward was the fearful novelty of a God who would burn them alive in perpetuity for their very manner of life, spying out their transgressions wherever committed, as he would correspondingly reward the virtuous. Beginning with John the Baptist's and Jesus' preaching, on through Paul's acknowledgment of "the wrath to come," the flames of hell illuminated the lessons of Christianity quite as much as the light of Grace. Actual scenes of speeches delivered to non-believing crowds show that the message was made plain, for example, by Paul at Iconium very much as Jesus had told His disciples to do; and we know that it got through, at least to Celsus. He remarks that Christians "believe in eternal punishments" and "threaten others with these punishments." Clearest of all is the scene in the amphitheater at Carthage where the martyrs, referring to their coming torment, tell the crowd by sign language, "You, us; but God, you"; but Pionius had elaborated on similar comparisons and warnings of condemnation and suffering, in the city square of Smyrna. It is likely that this particular article of faith was as widely known as any outside the Church. Despite the Apologists' attempts, however, to make eternal hell-fire credible by reference to Tartarus or to Stoic predictions of universal conflagration, non-believers found it novel and hard to accept.
An Unheroic Death
Having praised his patron in life, and having in many cases, no doubt, become bound to him by real ties of affection, the poet would lament him also in death. Jordanes (Getica 257) gives a Latin paraphrase of the praise-song performed at Attila’s funeral. It recalled his achievements, and dealt diplomatically with the fact that he died ignobly of a nosebleed while slumbering in a drunken stupor. It was easier if the man died heroically in battle.
The first speakers of Greek—or rather of the language that was to develop into Greek; I will call them mello-Greeks20—arrived in Greece, on the most widely accepted view, at the beginning of Early Helladic III, that is, around 2300.21One could adapt the term to refer to beginning Greek students.
20 From Greek μέλλω, ‘I am going to be’.
21 Cf. West (1997), 1 with n. 2.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Equally rich is he who has abundancyThe text is uncertain, especially at lines 5-6. See e.g.:
of silver, gold, and acres under plough,
horses and mules, and he that only has the means
to eat well, couch well, and go softly shod,
and by and by enjoy a lad's or woman's bloom, 5
with youth and strength still his to suit his need.
This is a man's true wealth: he cannot take all those
possessions with him when he goes below.
No price he pays can buy escape from death, or grim
diseases, or the onset of old age. 10
ἶσόν τοι πλουτέουσιν, ὅτωι πολὺς ἄργυρός ἐστι
καὶ χρυσὸς καὶ γῆς πυροφόρου πεδία
ἵπποι θ' ἡμίονοί τε, καὶ ὧι μόνα ταῦτα πάρεστι,
γαστρί τε καὶ πλευραῖς καὶ ποσὶν ἁβρὰ παθεῖν,
παιδός τ' ἠδὲ γυναικός, ἐπὴν καὶ ταῦτ' ἀφίκηται, 5
ὥρη, σὺν δ' ἥβη γίνεται ἁρμοδίη.
ταῦτ' ἄφενος θνητοῖσι· τὰ γὰρ περιώσια πάντα
χρήματ' ἔχων οὐδεὶς ἔρχεται εἰς Ἀΐδεω,
οὐδ' ἂν ἄποινα διδοὺς θάνατον φύγοι, οὐδὲ βαρείας
νούσους, οὐδὲ κακὸν γῆρας ἐπερχόμενον. 10
- Ivan M. Linforth, Solon the Athenian (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1919), pp. 148-149 (text and translation), pp. 211-213 (commentary)
- M.L. West, ed., Iambi et Elegi Graeci ante Alexandrum Cantati, vol. II (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972; rpt. 1998), pp. 154-155
- Martin L. West, Studies in Greek Elegy and Iambus (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1974), p. 158
- Thomas Gärtner, "Überlegungen zu den Theognideen," Studia Humaniora Tartuensia 8.A.1 (2007) 1-74 (at 10-11)
- Maria Noussia Fantuzzi, Solon the Athenian: The Poetic Fragments (Leiden: Brill, 2010 = Mnemosyne, Suppl. 326), pp. 347 ff.
Equally rich is the man who has gold and silver aplenty,Dr. Maurer comments:
acres of golden wheat ripening in the rich plain,
horses and oxen; and he who counts as his only possessions
something to eat; clothing for his back, and shoes for his feet,
joy when the season comes, in beauty of youth or of maiden, 5
pleasures in which our youth fitly may take its delight.
This is true wealth for a man: whoever has more to his portion
leaves all the surplus behind when he goes down to the shades.
No man buys himself off from death or painful diseases,
and a bribe will not turn back age in its silent approach. 10
Notice that like Fränkel himself, the English translators tried to retain the elegiac meter. At least, they do this in every line except 4 and 10. Their line 4 is metrically a mere chaos, and their line 10 should be I think, 'nor will a bribe turn back age in its silent approach'. Perhaps they did originally write this, and then some un-metrical person 'corrected' it.Many commentators have noted Horace's imitation of Solon (Epistles 1.12.4-6):
pauper enim non est cui rerum suppetit usus.Cf. also Herodotus 1.32.5 (Solon to Croesus; tr. A.D. Godley):
si ventri bene, si lateri est pedibusque tuis, nil
divitiae poterunt regales addere maius.
The very rich man is not more fortunate than the man who has only his daily needs...
οὐ γάρ τι ὁ μέγα πλούσιος μᾶλλον τοῦ ἐπ᾽ ἡμέρην ἔχοντος ὀλβιώτερος ἐστί...
For the city, as you yourself see, is now sorely vexed, and can no longer lift her head from beneath the angry waves of death. A blight has fallen on the fruitful blossoms of the land, the herds among the pastures, the barren pangs of women.There are parallels for the threefold blight on crops, livestock, and offspring.
πόλις γάρ, ὥσπερ καὐτὸς εἰσορᾷς, ἄγαν
ἤδη σαλεύει κἀνακουφίσαι κάρα
βυθῶν ἔτ᾽ οὐχ οἵα τε φοινίου σάλου,
φθίνουσα μὲν κάλυξιν ἐγκάρποις χθονός,
φθίνουσα δ᾽ ἀγέλαις βουνόμοις τόκοισί τε
Herodotus 3.65.7 (tr. A.D. Godley):
And if you do this, may your land bring forth fruit, and your women and your flocks and herds be blessed with offspring, remaining free for all time; but if you do not get the kingdom back or attempt to get it back, then I pray things turn out the opposite for you.Herodotus 6.139.1 (tr. A.D. Godley):
καὶ ταῦτα μὲν ποιεῦσι ὑμῖν γῆ τε καρπὸν ἐκφέροι καὶ γυναῖκές τε καὶ ποῖμναι τίκτοιεν, ἐοῦσι ἐς τὸν ἅπαντα χρόνον ἐλευθέροισι· μὴ δὲ ἀνασωσαμένοισι τὴν ἀρχὴν μηδ᾽ ἐπιχειρήσασι ἀνασώζειν τὰ ἐναντία τούτοισι ἀρῶμαι ὑμῖν γενέσθαι.
But when the Pelasgians had murdered their own sons and women, their land brought forth no fruit, nor did their wives and their flocks and herds bear offspring as before.Aeschines, Against Ctesiphon 111 (tr. Charles Darwin Adams):
ἀποκτείνασι δὲ τοῖσι Πελασγοῖσι τοὺς σφετέρους παῖδάς τε καὶ γυναῖκας οὔτε γῆ καρπὸν ἔφερε οὔτε γυναῖκές τε καὶ ποῖμναι ὁμοίως ἔτικτον καὶ πρὸ τοῦ.
The curse goes on: That their land bear no fruit; that their wives bear children not like those who begat them, but monsters; that their flocks yield not their natural increase...Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 3.20 (tr. F.C. Conybeare):
καὶ ἐπεύχεται αὐτοῖς μήτε γῆν καρποὺς φέρειν, μήτε γυναῖκας τέκνα τίκτειν γονεῦσιν ἐοικότα, ἀλλὰ τέρατα, μήτε βοσκήματα κατὰ φύσιν γονὰς ποιεῖσθαι...
Well, at that time of which I speak, the Ethiopians lived here, and were subject to King Ganges, and the land was sufficient for their sustenance, and the gods watched over them; but when they slew this king, neither did the rest of the Indians regard them as pure, nor did the land permit them to remain upon it; for it spoiled the seed which they sowed in it before it came into ear, and it inflicted miscarriages on their women, and it gave a miserable feed to their flocks...Deuteronomy 28.17-18:
ὃν μὲν δὴ χρόνον ᾤκουν ἐνταῦθα οἱ Αἰθίοπες ὑποκείμενοι βασιλεῖ Γάγγῃ, ἥ τε γῆ αὐτοὺς ἱκανῶς ἔφερβε καὶ οἱ θεοὶ σφῶν ἐπεμελοῦντο, ἐπεὶ δὲ ἀπέκτειναν τὸν βασιλέα τοῦτον, οὔτε τοῖς ἄλλοις Ἰνδοῖς καθαροὶ ἔδοξαν, οὔτε ἡ γῆ ξυνεχώρει αὐτοῖς ἵστασθαι, τήν τε γὰρ σποράν, ἣν ἐς αὐτὴν ἐποιοῦντο, πρὶν ἐς κάλυκα ἥκειν, ἔφθειρε τούς τε τῶν γυναικῶν τόκους ἀτελεῖς ἐποίει καὶ τὰς ἀγέλας πονήρως ἔβοσκε...
Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.I owe most of the parallels to Bernard M.W. Knox, "The Date of the Oedipus Tyrannus of Sophocles," American Journal of Philology 77 (1956) 133-147 (at 135-136), although his citation of Philostratus at p. 136, n. 17, is faulty—for "Vita Apollodori, III, 20" read "Vita Apollonii, III, 20".
Labels: typographical and other errors
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Not Just Any Wine
ALCUINNot just any wine, but Falernian!
Inscriptio in refectorio fratrum
Qui de rore dapes dedit et de petra bibendum,
Qui convertit aquas liquidas in vina Falerna,
Qui siccis pelagi pedibus superambulat undas,
Augeat ipse suis famulis sua dona benignus.
PLC I, p. 331
Inscription in monastic refectory
He who made a feast of dew, drink from a rock,
Turned flowing water to Falernian wine,
And walked dry-shod across the waves of the sea—
May he in kindness bless his gifts to his servants.
This would make a suitable table grace, although the third line seems a bit out of place.
PLC is Poetae Latini Aevi Carolini, ed. Ernst Dümmler et al., 4 vols. (Berlin: Weidmann, 1881-1923).
(fresco from Visoki Dečani)
Books Picked Up by Chance
My book experiences on board of the frigate proved an example of a fact which every book-lover must have experienced before me, namely, that though public libraries have an imposing air, and doubtless contain invaluable volumes, yet, somehow, the books that prove most agreeable, grateful, and companionable, are those we pick up by chance here and there; those which seem put into our hands by Providence; those which pretend to little, but abound in much.
Monday, November 17, 2014
Scholarly writing is almost as corrupting a trade as play-acting. The great majority of one's colleagues are vulgar and petty and devoted to the business of bringing these characteristics to ever fuller bloom. Anyone who enters it with any idealistic notions will have a hard time controlling his disgust and hatred.
On the Road
I despise these travels, so contrary to my heart's desires:
Again I speed on a lone sailboat that cleaves the waves in its flight.
I strain eyes to espy Wu's peaks behind the roiling clouds;
The moon that bobs on Chu's River chills my traveling robe.
My long song is more mournful than the dripping of tears;
A short-lived dream rushes me back home in a daze.
If I only had a plot of land and a gate I could shut,
I wouldn't exchange a hermit's hut for this bamboo boat!
Sunday, November 16, 2014
What a Good Boy Am I!
The pedant is really not looking at the object, but going through the motions or technique he has learned. At bottom he is thinking about himself and the relation of his results to himself—'What a good boy am I!' Pedantry is affectation and pretense. The pedant uses knowledge to fashion himself a poultice against the world, to show off virtuosity, to remind himself and others of his industry and skill, and to ogle the reward for sitting in libraries when he might have been sitting in bars.
I know I am poor,Neither Mulroy in his Index (pp. 113-114) nor Otto Steinmayer, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2000.11.06, was able to track down the original. I can't either.
Neither do I have to be reminded
Of my own name or
the day of the week.
All your bitterness will get us nowhere.
Wash the anchovies
While I pour the wine.
Naked and drunk, we'll find riches in bed.
A Nervous Disorder
I've always thought the need to know the news every day is a nervous disorder.Related posts:
Friday, November 14, 2014
Age Range: 1 - 17 years
Grade Level: Preschool - 12
Earth to Earth
I grew from the earth.The same, tr. J.M. Edmonds:
I flourished in my day.
I am earth again.
My name was Aristokles,
The son of Menon,
A citizen of the Peiraieus.
After many pleasant games with them of like age, I that grew from earth have become earth again, and my name is Aristocles of the Peiraeus, son of Menon.The same, tr. Michael Wolfe:
After many high times with friends my age,The Greek:
I am back in the earth I sprang from:
Aristocles. Menon's son. From Piraeus.
πολλὰ μεθ' ἡλικίας ὁμοήλικος ἡδέα παίσαςThe stele is in the British Museum (inv. 1816,0610.384):
ἐκ γαίας βλαστὼν γαῖα πάλιν γέγονα·
εἰμὶ δὲ Ἀριστοκλῆς Πειραιεύς, παῖς δὲ Μένωνος.