Saturday, January 24, 2015
Proper Pursuits for an Old Man
The ladies say, 'Anacreon, you are old. Take a mirror and look: your hair is no longer there, and your brow is bare.' But I do not know whether my hair is still there or has gone; I do know that the closer Fate is, the more fitting it is for the old man to enjoy his fun and games.
λέγουσιν αἱ γυναῖκες·
'Ἀνάκρεον, γέρων εἶ·
λαβὼν ἔσοπτρον ἄθρει
κόμας μὲν οὐκέτ᾿ οὔσας,
ψιλὸν δέ σευ μέτωπον.'
ἐγὼ δὲ τὰς κόμας μέν,
εἴτ᾿ εἰσὶν εἴτ᾿ ἀπῆλθον,
οὐκ οἶδα· τοῦτο δ᾿ οἶδα,
ὡς τῷ γέροντι μᾶλλον
πρέπει τὸ τερπνὰ παίζειν,
ὅσῳ πέλας τὰ Μοίρης.
A Liberal Education
Every farm woodland, in addition to yielding lumber, fuel, and posts, should provide its owner a liberal education. This crop of wisdom never fails, but it is not always harvested.
First Day at School
I was hoisted on to a chair, where I sat with my legs dangling, whilst my mother was garrulously expatiating on my brilliant talents and hopeful qualities. At length, turning sharply round to me, with a suddenness that made me drop my cap within the fender from the mere shock, he addressed me thus:
"Well, you little devil, can you tell me the future tense of τύπτω yet?"
I felt rather flattered than otherwise at being called a devil by so distinguished a man. There was something playful and friendly in such an appellation, which pleased me mightily. I wished, indeed, he had selected a less ominous verb than τύπτω for conjugation; but there was no help for it; so summoning up courage, and collecting my wandering faculties, I answered faintly, "τέτυφα, sir."
Dr. Buzby gave me a peculiar look, which seemed to say, "you and I shall have something more to do with that little verb before I have done with you."
It was only on going out again that my egregious blunder flashed upon me. I almost fainted with horror at the commission of it.
Friday, January 23, 2015
Those of my readers who are musicians may be interested to know what, according to Boethius, a real musician is. There are three classes of people, he explains at the end of his first book, who have to do with music—performers, composers, and critics. Those of the first class, like harp-players, flute-players, and organists, must be excluded from the number of real musicians, since they are merely slaves. Their function is concerned with mere action, production, and is as subordinate and slavish as is the material body compared to the mind. Even a good performer is nothing more than a good slave. Then there is the second class, the composers, who are impelled to music not by reason or philosophy, but by a certain instinct, or inspiration. The Muses are responsible for what they do, not they themselves. They too, therefore, must be counted out. There remains the third class, the critics. "They alone," he declares, "are the real musicians, since their function consists entirely in reason and philosophy, in a knowledge of modes and rhythms, of the varieties of melodies and their combinations, in short, of all the matters that I shall treat in Volume II, as well as of the achievements of the composers." I once asked a friend of mine, a musical critic of some note, what he thought of this doctrine. He replied that he thought that Boethius was considerably in advance of his time and of our own. I did not venture to submit Boethius's ideas to a performer or a composer.
The Greek Lyrists Are the Thing
Who is Galey—on Euripides, sweet?—I never heard of him; so you can exult over me. But then I don't care much for Euripides, Una; nor for any Greek drama—save in a spirit of pure dilettantism—except the Prometheus.—Even that has its lonqueurs.Hat tip: Joel Eidsath, who writes, "Italics stand for underlining in the original. And while it's possible that Jeffers misspelled 'longueurs' in his letter, I would think that it's a transcription error."
But the Greek lyrists are the thing. Archilochus—Sappho—Alcaeus—so the good pedants have handed us down just a few miserable patches of their old magnificence. A pedant or grammarian, I think, is the worst possible judge of literature—except the general public.
"Who is Galey—on Euripides?" Indeed. Who is he? I never heard of him either. I suspect that "Galey" here is a mistake for "Paley," i.e. Frederick Apthorp Paley (1815-1888). Far from a decent academic library, I don't have access to a copy of Jeffers' letters.
From Ian Jackson:
Your conjectural emendation ("Paley" for "Galey") seems convincing but I believe it is wrong. I suggest that the correct reading is "Gayley". Charles Mills Gayley was the author of The Classic Myths in English Literature (1893), a delightful high school textbook that is rather too learned for today's graduate students — I think I gave you a copy a few years ago. (There is also a copy in Jeffers's Tor House library). Gayley lectured on 'Great Books' at the University of California at Berkeley. The classes proved so popular that after 1909 he delivered his lectures in the Greek Theater, often to crowds of 1000 and more. Gayley delivered five lectures on Euripides in the Greek Theater between Sept. 27th and November 22nd, 1912. Jeffers's letter to Una Kuster is dated December 14th, 1912. Between leaving her husband in Los Angeles in 1912 and marrying Jeffers in August of 1913, Una Kuster was enrolled as a graduate student in education at Berkeley. It seems likely that she attended Gayley's lectures or read about them in The Daily Californian, which published lengthy resumés.I stand corrected, wiping the egg off my face.
Thanks to Joel Eidsath, I have now seen the relevant pages from James Karman, ed., The Collected Letters of Robinson Jeffers. With Selected Letters of Una Jeffers, Vol. I (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009). Una wrote a week earlier (December 7, 1912), "How very much I wanted you the other afternoon when Galey read Euripides so wonderfully."
An Old Decayed Thistle
And, do you know, I am so sour-faced and ill-tempered, and abominably cross, and so hate myself, that I do not think you would now, if you saw me, give me one corner of your heart, or a single kiss. You might just as well kiss an old decayed thistle, which would leave its prickles sticking to your lips. Is not this a sorry account to give of myself? But alas! it is not more sorry than true.
Thursday, January 22, 2015
Preference for and Avoidance of Certain Words
Similar sensitivity to the tone of a word may explain why Caesar prefers non modo, non solum to the non tantum favoured by those who completed his work, tantum being ambiguous. It has been pointed out, too, that quomodo and quamquam are avoided by Caesar, although the latter occurs four times in Hirtius' Book 8 of the de bello gallico. Caesar, again, shows a preference for priusquam as against antequam and for posteaquam as against postquam. Differences of tone, vulgarism, and urbanity may account for many of these subtleties but, as Marouzeau suggests in his discussion of these facts, we should not ignore the factor of personal choice and sheer verbal habit. Why should Caesar never use quando or mox, and almost totally neglect igitur in favour of quare and itaque? Why his preference for timeo as against vereor and metuo? As for habit, the curious tendency for a word once activated to recur is illustrated by Caesar's use of the rare phrase e regione no fewer than seven times in the seventh book of the Gallic War although only one other example is found in the rest of that corpus.See H. Merguet, Lexikon zu den Schriften Cäsars und seiner Fortsetzer, mit Angabe sämmtlicher Stellen (Jena: Gustav Fischer, 1886).
Characteristics and Habits of the Gauls
The Gauls are sudden and spasmodic in their designs.3.19:
Sunt Gallorum subita et repentina consilia.
For while the temper of the Gauls is eager and ready to undertake a campaign, their purpose is feeble and in no way steadfast to endure disasters.4.5:
Nam ut ad bella suscipienda Gallorum alacer ac promptus est animus, sic mollis ac minime resistens ad calamitates perferendas mens eorum est.
It is indeed a regular habit of the Gauls to compel travellers to halt, even against their will, and to ascertain what each of them may have heard or learnt upon every subject; and in the towns the common folk surround traders, compelling them to declare from what districts they come and what they have learnt there. Such stories and hearsay often induce them to form plans upon vital questions of which they must forthwith repent; for they are the slaves of uncertain rumours, and most men reply to them in fictions made to their taste.7.42:
Est enim hoc Gallicae consuetudinis, uti et viatores etiam invitos consistere cogant et quod quisque eorum de quaque re audierit aut cognoverit quaerant, et mercatores in oppidis vulgus circumsistat quibusque ex regionibus veniant quasque ibi res cognoverint pronuntiare cogant. His rebus atque auditionibus permoti de summis saepe rebus consilia ineunt, quorum eos in vestigio poenitere necesse est, cum incertis rumoribus serviant, et plerique ad voluntatem eorum ficta respondeant.
They left themselves no time to investigate: some were influenced by avarice, others by anger and the recklessness which is specially characteristic of their race, treating frivolous hearsay as assured fact.
Nullum sibi ad cognoscendum spatium relinquunt. Impellit alios avaritia, alios iracundia et temeritas, quae maxime illi hominum generi est innata, ut levem auditionem habeant pro re comperta.
The Old World
One yearns for the old world in every way. Modern fashions just seem to grow more and more vulgar.Hat tip: Eric Thomson.
The most beautiful finely crafted wooden utensils are those from the old days. As for letters, those old ones on reused scraps are written in wonderful language. Everyday speech is also going from bad to worse.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
A Maker of Card-Indexes
The professor is nothing if not a maker of card-indexes; he must classify or be damned.Arthur Stanley Pease, quoted in J.P. Elder et al., "Arthur Stanley Pease 1881-1964," Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 69 (1965) ix:
I will confess that I am by nature a collector, that I began with marbles and horse-chestnuts, advanced to postage stamps, continued with botany and books, and at all times have gathered facts and occasionally ideas.
These two latter items, in lack of sufficient cranial space for dead storage, I enter methodically on 3 x 5 slips of paper. When enough of a kind are amassed, they are outspread, classified, digested, written down, dehydrated, and lo! an article, or more rarely a book, to be perused by some lone watcher in Czechoslovakia or beside the Bay of Biscay.
How to Ensure Punctual Attendance at Staff Meetings
This in the practice of the Gauls marks the beginning of a war; and by a general law all grown men are accustomed to assemble at it in arms, while the one who comes last to the assembly is put to death with every kind of torture in sight of the host.
Hoc more Gallorum est initium belli, quo lege communi omnes puberes armati convenire consuerunt; qui ex eis novissimus convenit, in conspectu multitudinis omnibus cruciatibus affectus necatur.
A Hearty Eater
Epicharmus, for example, says in Busiris:Related post: A Very Valiant Trencherman.
"First, if you should see him eating you would die.Ἐπίχαρμος μὲν ἐν Βουσίριδι λέγων·
His gullet thunders inside, his jaw rattles,
his molar crackles, his canine tooth gnashes,
he sizzles at the nostrils, he waggles his ears."
πρῶτον μὲν αἴ κ᾽ ἔσθοντ᾽ ἴδοις νιν ἀποθάνοις.
βρέμει μὲν ὁ φάρυγξ ἔνδοθ᾽, ἀραβεῖ δ᾽ ἁ γνάθος,
ψοφεῖ δ᾽ ὁ γομφίος, τέτριγε δ᾽ ὁ κυνόδων,
σίζει δὲ ταῖς ῥίνεσσι, κινεῖ δ᾽ οὔατα.
Monday, January 19, 2015
Hedges for Defence
Having no strength in cavalry (for even to this day they care naught for that service, but all their power lies in the strength of their infantry), the easier to hamper the cavalry of their neighbours, whenever these made a raid on them, they cut into young saplings and bent them over, and thus by the thick horizontal growth of boughs, and by intertwining with them brambles and thorns, they contrived that these wall-like hedges should serve them as fortifications which not only could not be penetrated, but not even seen through.Strabo 4.3.5 (tr. Horace Leonard Jones):
Cum equitatu nihil possent (neque enim ad hoc tempus ei rei student, sed, quidquid possunt, pedestribus valent copiis), quo facilius finitimorum equitatum, si praedandi causa ad eos venissent, impedirent, teneris arboribus incisis atque inflexis crebrisque in latitudinem ramis enatis et rubis sentibusque interiectis effecerant, ut instar muri hae saepes munimenta praeberent, quo non modo non intrari, sed ne perspici quidem posset.
Both the country of the Morini and that of the Atrebatii and Eburones resemble that of the Menapii; for much of it, though not so much as the historians have said (four thousand stadia), is a forest, consisting of trees that are not tall; the forest is called Arduenna. At the time of hostile onsets they used to intertwine the withes of the brushwood, since the withes were thorny, and thus block the passage of the enemy.Related posts:
ἐμφερὴς δ᾿ ἐστὶ τῇ τῶν Μεναπίων ἥ τε τῶν Μορινῶν καὶ ἡ τῶν Ἀτρεβατίων καὶ Ἐβουρώνων· ὕλη γάρ ἐστιν οὐχ ὑψηλῶν δένδρων πολλὴ μέν, οὐ τοσαύτη δὲ ὅσην οἱ συγγραφεῖς εἰρήκασι, τετρακισχιλίων σταδίων, καλοῦσι δ᾿ αὐτὴν Ἀρδουένναν. κατὰ δὲ τὰς πολεμικὰς ἐφόδους συμπλέκοντες τὰς τῶν θάμνων λύγους, βατώδεις οὔσας, ἀπέφραττον τὰς παρόδους.
A New Circle in Hell
Now, what more appropriate torture would Dante himself have contrived, for the sinner who perpetrates a bad book, than to be continually turning over the manuscript?
Sunday, January 18, 2015
The Believing Mind
The believing mind is a curious thing. It must absorb its endless rations of balderdash, or perish.
"My name is Eric and I’m a biblioholic." When I was 22 I bought a set of the Encyclopedia Britannica and indebted myself for 10 years. The Virgil Encyclopedia was the last reckless binge. The Loeb Classical Library? Yes, all of them, thanks, and I mean all of them, every last one. Don't care what they cost, I'll have them. The New Pauly? Yes, the lot, thanks. Children in rags and without a crust? Divorce and bankruptcy? Tough luck.
No, I've stopped. I haven't bought a book since yesterday. Went to the newsagent's kiosk this morning ostensibly to buy a paper. He usually has a rack of secondhand books, of the sort that used to be sold with newspapers. Where else can a decent man buy a book on a Sunday? With the heavy rain today there were none on display, which didn't stop me peering under the plastic covers. No fix today. Just a bloody newspaper. I could have killed him.
The Mills of the Gods Grind Slowly
For it was the wont of the immortal gods to grant a temporary prosperity and a longer impunity to make men whom they purposed to punish for their crime smart the more severely from a change of fortune.Commentators cite an anonymous fragment of tragedy preserved by Aristotle, Rhetoric 2.23.20 (1399 b; tr. John Henry Freese):
Consuesse enim deos immortales, quo gravius homines ex commutatione rerum doleant, quos pro scelere eorum ulcisci velint, his secundiores interdum res et diuturniorem impunitatem concedere.
It is not from benevolence that the deity bestows great blessings upon many, but in order that they may suffer more striking calamities.and Claudian, Against Rufinus 1.21-23 (tr. Maurice Platnauer):
πολλοῖς ὁ δαίμων οὐ κατ᾽ εὔνοιαν φέρων
μεγάλα δίδωσιν εὐτυχήματ᾽, ἀλλ᾽ ἵνα
τὰς συμφορὰς λάβωσιν ἐπιφανεστέρας.
No longer can I complain that the unrighteous man reaches the highest pinnacle of success. He is raised aloft that he may be hurled down in more headlong ruin.
iam non ad culmina rerum
iniustos crevisse queror; tolluntur in altum,
ut lapsu graviore ruant.
Saturday, January 17, 2015
A Nation of Evangelists
We are, in fact, a nation of evangelists; every third American devotes himself to improving and lifting up his fellow-citizens, usually by force; the messianic delusion is our national disease.
[A] professor must have a theory, as a dog must have fleas.
Anthia and Habrocomes
At 3.5.8 (p. 291), read Euippe for Euhippe. The Greek form of the name is Εὐίππη, which Henderson everywhere else (including the index) renders as Euippe.
5.4.8-9 (p. 333):
8. Anthia, convinced by these avowals, came out of the temple, and when they decided to rest in Memphis for three days, Anthia went to the temple of Apis. This temple was the most eminent in Egypt, and the god gave prophecies to those wanting them: 9. anyone who comes, prays, and makes an enquiry to the god, he emerges and the Egyptian boys in front of the temple foretell what the future holds in each case, sometimes in prose and sometimes in verse.The translation is garbled at the beginning of sub-section 9, i.e. "anyone who comes, prays, and makes an enquiry to the god, he emerges..." The Greek is straighforward:
ἐπειδὰν γάρ τις προσελθὼν εὔξηται καὶ δεηθῇ τοῦ θεοῦ αὐτὸς μὲν ἔξεισιν...Translate as follows:
for whenever anyone comes, prays, and makes an enquiry to the god, he emerges...I would also insert a comma in the Greek between θεοῦ and αὐτὸς, i.e. between the subordinate and main clauses.
A friend dubbed me Λοεβομάστιξ (Loebomastix, i.e. castigator of the Loeb Classical Library; cf. Ὁμηρομάστιξ = Homeromastix).
Labels: typographical and other errors