Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Where is that horse now? Where are those men? Where is the hoard-sharer?
Where is the house of the feast? Where is the hall's uproar?
Alas, bright cup! Alas, burnished fighter!
Alas, proud prince! How that time has passed, 95
dark under night's helm, as though it never had been!
There stands in the stead of staunch thanes
a towering wall wrought with worm-shapes;
the earls are off-taken by the ash-spear's point,
— that thirsty weapon. Their Wierd is glorious. 100
Storms break on the stone hillside,
the ground bound by driving sleet,
winter's wrath. Then wanness cometh,
night's shade spreadeth, sendeth from north
the rough hail to harry mankind. 105
In the earth-realm all is crossed;
Wierd's will changeth the world.
Wealth is lent us, friends are lent us,
Man is lent, kin is lent;
All this earth's frame shall stand empty. 110
Hwær cwom mearg? Hwær cwom mago? Hwær cwom maþþumgyfa?
Hwær cwom symbla gesetu? Hwær sindon seledreamas?
Eala beorht bune! Eala byrnwiga!
Eala þeodnes þrym! Hu seo þrag gewat, 95
genap under nihthelm, swa heo no wære.
Stondeð nu on laste leofre duguþe
weal wundrum heah, wyrmlicum fah.
Eorlas fornoman asca þryþe,
wæpen wælgifru, wyrd seo mære, 100
ond þas stanhleoþu stormas cnyssað,
hrið hreosende hrusan bindeð,
wintres woma, þonne won cymeð,
nipeð nihtscua, norþan onsendeð
hreo hæglfare hæleþum on andan. 105
Eall is earfoðic eorthan rice,
onwendeth wyrda gesceaft weoruld under heofonum.
Her bið feoh læne, her bið freond læne,
her bið mon læne, her bið mæg læne,
eal þis eorþan gesteal idel weorþeð! 110
For no man born of earth has ever yetThere is an error in the Greek text of the Digital Loeb Classical Library edition of this ode, where the nonsensical τέφψιος appears for τέρψιος in line 11 (screen shot taken today):
Found a trustworthy sign
From heaven above, what future days may bring.
Blind are the eyes of our imagination
Of times to come. How often is man's thought
Thwarted by the event, now disappointing
Expected joy, now when a man has met
The surge of sorrow's pain,
In a brief hour of time changing
His bitter grief to profound happiness.
σύμβολον δ᾿ οὔ πώ τις ἐπιχθονίων
πιστὸν ἀμφὶ πράξιος ἐσσομένας εὗρεν θεόθεν,
τῶν δὲ μελλόντων τετύφλωνται φραδαί·
πολλὰ δ᾿ ἀνθρώποις παρὰ γνώμαν ἔπεσεν,
ἔμπαλιν μὲν τέρψιος, οἱ δ᾿ ἀνιαραῖς
ἐσλὸν βαθὺ πήματος ἐν μικρῷ πεδάμειψαν χρόνῳ.
This error doesn't appear in the printed book.
Labels: typographical and other errors
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
The Threefold Way
"Principium erit mirari omnia, etiam tritissima.In English:
Medium est calamo committere visa et utilia.
Finis erit naturam adcuratius delineare, quam alius"
LINNAEUS DE PEREGRINATIONE.
The beginning will be to wonder at all things, even the most commonplace ones.The source is Linnaeus' Philosophia Botanica (Stockholm: Godofr. Kiesewetter, 1751), p. 297:
The middle is to commit to writing things seen and useful things.
The end will be to depict nature more carefully than another does
[if we can.]
LINNAEUS ON TRAVEL.
Il Faut Cultiver Notre Jardin
Never mind, we are both quite old, we shan't live to see the worst, let us cultivate our gardens as best we can — tell me what plants you want from mine, and which you would like to offer me from yours, and we shall remain contented and affectionate.A graceful variation on a famous phrase from Voltaire's Candide: "Il faut cultiver notre jardin."
Hat tip: Ian Jackson, who has offered me so many plants from his garden.
Out of Town
These were the "Plains of Nauset," once covered with wood, where in winter the winds howl and the snow blows right merrily in the face of the traveller. I was glad to have got out of the towns, where I am wont to feel unspeakably mean and disgraced, — to have left behind me for a season the bar-rooms of Massachusetts, where the full-grown are not weaned from savage and filthy habits, — still sucking a cigar. My spirits rose in proportion to the outward dreariness. The towns need to be ventilated. The gods would be pleased to see some pure flames from their altars. They are not to be appeased with cigar-smoke.
Thanks to the generous benefactor who gave me several volumes from the works of Thoreau published by Princeton University Press.
Monday, November 23, 2015
There can hardly be stranger wares in the world than books: printed by people who do not understand them; sold by people who do not understand them; bound, reviewed and read by people who do not understand them; and now even written by people who do not understand them.
Eine seltsamere Ware, als Bücher, gibt es wohl schwerlich in der Welt. Von Leuten gedruckt, die sie nicht verstehen; von Leuten verkauft, die sie nicht verstehen; gebunden, rezensiert und gelesen von Leuten, die sie nicht verstehen; und nun gar geschrieben von Leuten, die sie nicht verstehen.
Live for Today
Because what, I ask you, should a mortal doThe same (tr. J.E. Edmonds):
except enjoy his life from one day to the next,
if he's got the wherewithal? This is what you
need to consider when you look at human affairs,
instead of worrying about what's going to happen
tomorrow. It's very strange that money gets stored up
for tomorrow inside one's house.
What else should human beings do then, pray,The Greek:
Than live delightfully from day to day
If they've the wherewithal? Considering
What mortal life is, that's the only thing
We need to count; next day's another tale;
It's futile to store money to go stale.
τί δεῖ γὰρ ὄντα θνητόν, ἱκετεύω, ποεῖνCommentary in Athina Papachrysostomou, Six Comic Poets: A Commentary on Selected Fragments of Middle Comedy (Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag, 2008), pp. 224-227.
πλὴν ἡδέως ζῆν τὸν βίον καθ᾿ ἡμέραν,
ἐὰν ἔχῃ τις ὁπόθεν; ἀλλὰ δεῖ σκοπεῖν
τοῦτ᾿ αὐτό, τἀνθρώπει᾿ ὁρῶντα πράγματα,
εἰς αὔριον δὲ <μηδὲ> φροντίζειν ὅ τι
ἔσται· περίεργόν ἐστιν ἀποκεῖσθαι πάνυ
ἕωλον ἔνδον τἀργύριον.
Words to Live By
Now let's delight in drink and fine talk.The same (tr. M.L. West):
What will happen afterwards is up to the gods.
For now, let's talk of good things, drink, enjoy ourselves:The Greek:
what comes afterwards is the gods' affair.
νῦν μὲν πίνοντες τερπώμεθα, καλὰ λέγοντες·
ἅσσα δ᾿ ἔπειτ᾿ ἔσται, ταῦτα θεοῖσι μέλει.
Sunday, November 22, 2015
... in a hollow cave, without a lamp, like a beast, alone ...According to an ancient biography, Euripides was a part-time cave-dweller. See David Kovacs, Euripidea (Leiden: Brill, 1994), pp. 6-7:
κοίλοις ἐν ἄντροις ἄλυχνος, ὥστε θήρ, μόνος
They say that he fitted out a cave on Salamis opening on the sea and that he passed his days there avoiding the crowd; and that is the reason he takes most of his similes from the sea.Likewise Aulus Gellius 15.20.5 (tr. Kovacs, pp. 28-29):
φασὶ δὲ αὐτὸν ἐν Σαλαμῖνι σπήλαιον κατασκευάσαντα ἀναπνοὴν ἔχον εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν ἐκεῖσε διημερεύειν φεύγοντα τὸν ὄχλον· ὅθεν καὶ ἐκ θαλάσσης λαμβάνει τὰς πλείους τῶν ὁμοιώσεων.
Philochorus reports that there is a foul and horrible cave on the island of Salamis, which I have seen, in which Euripides used to write his tragedies.On ὥστε θήρ, μόνος in the fragment of Euripides cf. Aristotle, Politics 1.1253a29 (tr. H. Rackham):
Philochorus [FGrH 328 F 219] refert in insula Salamine speluncam esse taetram et horridam, quam nos vidimus, in qua Euripides tragoedias scriptitarit.
A man who is incapable of entering into partnership, or who is so self-sufficing that he has no need to do so, is no part of a state, so that he must be either a lower animal or a god.What Rackham translates as "a lower animal" is really "a wild beast" (θηρίον). See also Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols (Maxims and Arrows 3, tr. Walter Kaufmann):
ὁ δὲ μὴ δυνάμενος κοινωνεῖν ἢ μηδὲν δεόμενος δι' αὐτάρκειαν οὐθὲν μέρος πόλεως, ὥστε ἢ θηρίον ἢ θεός.
To live alone one must be a beast or a god, says Aristotle. Leaving out the third case: one must be both — a philosopher.
Um allein zu leben, muss man ein Thier oder ein Gott sein — sagt Aristoteles. Fehlt der dritte Fall: man muss Beides sein — Philosoph.
Is it by chance that what's essential in music comes from Central Europe, far from the sea? I don't think so. The sea engenders no echoes. And echoes constitute all of classical music—the forest, Salzburg. You can't imagine either Mozart or Beethoven without a forest. Especially Beethoven. His sonatas run through woods, with sudden clearings, shadowy spots, streams, flights, twilights.
Waldinneres bei Mondschein
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.
Related post: Forest Murmurs.
Happy the man who shouts the Bacchic cry, off to the revel, the well-beloved juice of the vine putting the wind in his sails. His arm is around his trusty friend, and he has waiting for him the fresh, young body of his voluptuous mistress upon her bed, and with his locks gleaming with myrrh he says, "Who will open the door for me?"I don't have access to Richard Seaford's commentary. Notes to myself:
μάκαρ ὅστις εὐιάζει 495
βοτρύων φίλαισι πηγαῖς
ἐπὶ κῶμον ἐκπετασθεὶς
φίλον ἄνδρ᾿ ὑπαγκαλίζων
ἐπὶ δεμνίοισί τ᾿ ἄνθος
χλιδανᾶς ἔχων ἑταίρας, 500
μυρόχριστον λιπαρὸς βό-
στρυχον, αὐδᾷ δέ· θύραν τίς οἴξει μοι;
495 μάκαρ Hermann: μακάριος L
497 ἐπὶ κῶμον L: ἐπίκωμος Wilamowitz
499 δεμνίοισί τ᾿ ἄνθος Meineke: δεμνίοις τε ξανθὸν L
500 χλιδανᾶς Diggle: χλιδανῆς L
501 μυρόχριστον Musgrave: μυρόχριστος L, λιπαρὸς L: λιπαρὸν Scaliger
497 ἐκπετασθεὶς: aorist passive participle of ἐκπετάννυμι = spread out, e.g. of a sail, scatter, here "wholly given up to the revel" (Liddell-Scott-Jones). Eric Thomson (via email) remarks on the nautical turn of phrase, "It reminded me of the idiom 'three sheets to the wind'."
501 μυρόχριστον: a hapax legomenon
502 θύραν: understood sensu obsceno by some, e.g. Jeffrey Henderson, The Maculate Muse: Obscene Language in Greek Comedy, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), p. 245, but I think the exclusus amator is just asking the doorkeeper for admittance to the beloved's house. For commands to slaves expressed with the use of an indefinite or interrogative pronoun see Nisbet and Hubbard, commentary on Horace, Odes 2.11.18-20 (where this line from Euripides is cited).
Saturday, November 21, 2015
Whether the amount of distress in Germany has increased I do not know, but the number of exclamation marks certainly has. Where we formerly had merely! we now have!!!
Ob das Elend in Deutschland zugenommen hat, weiß ich nicht. Die Interpunktion-Zeichen haben gewiß zugenommen. Wo man sonst bloß! setzte, da steht jetzt!!!
His head was like his lore — antique,Hat tip: Ian Jackson.
His face was thin and sallow-sick,
With god-like accent he could speak
Of Egypt's reeds or Babylon's brick
Or sheep-skin codes in Arabic.
To justify the ways divine,
He had travelled Southern Asia through —
Gezir down in Palestine,
Lagash, Ur and Eridu,
The banks of Nile and Tigris too.
And every occult Hebrew tale
He could expound with learned ease,
From Aaron's rod to Jonah's whale.
He had held the skull of Rameses —
The one who died from boils and fleas.
Could tell how — saving Israel's peace —
The mighty Gabriel of the Lord
Put sand within the axle-grease
Of Pharaoh's chariots; and his horde
O'erwhelmed with water, fire and sword.
And he had tried Behistun Rock,
That Persian peak, and nearly clomb it;
His head had suffered from the shock
Of somersaulting from its summit —
Nor had he quite recovered from it.
From that time onward to the end,
His mind had had a touch of gloom;
His hours with jars and coins he'd spend,
And ashes looted from a tomb, —
Within his spare and narrow room.
His day's work done, with the last rune
Of a Hammurabi fragment read,
He took some water spiced with prune
And soda, which imbibed, he said
A Syrian prayer, and went to bed.
And thus he trod life's narrow way, —
His soul as peaceful as a river —
His understanding heart all day
Kept faithful to a stagnant liver.
When at last his stomach went by default,
His graduate students bore him afar
To the East where the Dead Sea waters are,
And pickled his bones in Eternal Salt.
Friday, November 20, 2015
Love, Not War
I shall not attempt to solve the difficult problem of classical education in the public schools. But why not give Latin and Greek a fair trial, if willing to grant that they are magnificent languages. "All the Latin I construe is amo, I love," says Lippo Lippi [Browning, Fra Lippo Lippi, ll. 111-12]. Well, I too started with amo, a very good verb, I thought obviously only a decoy. The next one I learned was neco, I kill, and all the time I spent on Latin grammar from that time forth was spent in laboriously acquiring a language which talked about nothing else in the world but fighting. Every sentence I wrote in Latin or translated, concerned war, and every word I learned had some military context. It does not take a very fanatical pacifist to see that this method deliberately aims at encouraging the idea that Latin is a very dead language, there being few things deader about a language than those words which deal with violent death. If Latin really was a dead language, therefore, it would be of no use. The excuse is, of course, that we read Caesar first in Latin, Xenophon in Greek, but the excuse is a pitifully inadequate one. The method is obviously that of a crabbed pedant bent on killing the language and stamping on the corpse. Catullus and Horace are eternal. Caesar is not only dead but always was, falling stillborn upon publication like any other journal. The next step is Livy, Cicero, Thucydides. Like learning English by starting with the Duke of Marlborough's memoirs, if he wrote any, and proceeding through Pater or Burke or Gibbon. We do not make such an approach to any modern language. We do not start German by learning all about their weapons, their armies, the histories of their wars, even if we still think of them as a race of barbarian Huns, intent on conquering the world by force of arms. If I could respond to them fluently, which I regret to say I cannot, I should regard it as one of my primary accomplishments, but I should see the entire Teutonic race in hell before, etc. I would wade through a barrage of military terminology in order to read the war correspondence of Blücher, Moltke, Gneisenau, or von Kluck. There is a good deal of truth in the famous remark that Caesar was a very inferior writer who wrote for the public schools.I would delete ", etc." in "I should see the entire Teutonic race in hell before, etc. I would wade through...," so that it reads "I should see the entire Teutonic race in hell before I would wade through..."
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.
A Strange and Enigmatic Breed
What a strange and enigmatic breed we are! Presently we shall be flying in space, but at the same time we are threatening to blow up the base of this voyage into space, namely our own planet. We conquer space and time with our machines, but these machines also appear to be conquering us. We change the face of the earth, but on our own faces are the same old runes of guilt, suffering, and death. Despite everything we have created, we are still the same as the men of old: Cain and Abel, Achilles and Thersites, Siegfried and Hagen.
Thursday, November 19, 2015
A man who is merely human yet disdains the people and prides himself on his wealth should understand that he is a fool.This (ἴστω τ᾿ ἄφρων ὢν) is a good example of a nominative participle with a verb of perception. For other examples of this Greek idiom see:
ἴστω τ᾿ ἄφρων ὢν ὅστις ἄνθρωπος γεγὼς
δῆμον κολούει χρήμασιν γαυρούμενος.
- A Participial Construction in Greek
- Verbs of Perception With Nominative Participle: Thucydides 2.4.1
- Euripides, Bacchae 188-189, and John Milton
Bad, Worse, Worst
Not reading English,The German (title "Was schlimm ist"):
and hearing about a new English thriller
that hasn't been translated.
Seeing a cold beer when it's hot out,
and not being able to afford it.
Having an idea
that you can't encapsulate in a line of Hölderlin,
the way the professors do.
Hearing the waves beat against the shore on holiday at night,
and telling yourself it's what they always do.
Very bad: being invited out,
when your own room at home is quieter,
the coffee is better,
and you don't have to make small talk.
And worst of all:
not to die in summer,
when the days are long
and the earth yields easily to the spade.
Wenn man kein Englisch kann,Benn escaped the worst—he died in summer.
von einem guten Kriminalroman zu hören, der nicht ins
Deutsche übersetzt ist.
Bei Hitze ein Bier sehn,
das man nicht bezahlen kann.
Einen neuen Gedanken haben,
den man nicht in einen Hölderlinvers einwickeln kann,
wie es die Professoren tun.
Nacht auf Reisen Wellen schlagen hören
und sich sagen, daß sie das immer tun.
Sehr schlimm: eingeladen sein,
wenn zu Hause die Räume stiller,
der Café besser
und keine Unterhaltung nötig ist.
nicht im Sommer sterben,
wenn alles hell ist
und die Erde für Spaten leicht.
Gordan, Ingordin, and Ingordan Again
It may interest you to know that another lead amulet was found in Svendborg, Denmark, with the same three names/incantations on it: http://ekstrabladet.dk/nyheder/samfund/hemmeligheden-i-magisk-dansk-amulet-afsloeret/5833123
Translated from Danish, the remaining part of the inscription reads:
"I conjure you elven men and elven women and all demons in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and all of God’s saints, lest you harm God’s handmaiden, Margareta, neither in eyes nor in other limbs. Amen. You are great in eternity, Lord."