Thursday, February 28, 2013
No King More Terrible
"Contra vim MORTIS
Non est medicamen in hortis."
He is the despots' Despot. All must bide,
Later or soon, the message of his might;
Princes and potentates their heads must hide,
Touched by the awful sigil of his right;
Beside the Kaiser he at eve doth wait
And pours a potion in his cup of state;
The stately Queen his bidding must obey;
No keen-eyed Cardinal shall him affray;
And to the Dame that wantoneth he saith—
"Let be, Sweet-heart, to junket and to play."
There is no King more terrible than Death.
The lusty Lord, rejoicing in his pride,
He draweth down; before the armèd Knight
With jingling bridle-rein he still doth ride;
He crosseth the strong Captain in the fight;
The Burgher grave he beckons from debate;
He hales the Abbot by his shaven pate,
Nor for the Abbess' wailing will delay;
No bawling Mendicant shall say him nay;
E'en to the pyx the Priest he followeth,
Nor can the Leech his chilling finger stay..
There is no King more terrible than Death.
All things must bow to him. And woe betide
The Wine-bibber,—the Roisterer by night;
Him the feast-master, many bouts defied,
Him 'twixt the pledging and the cup shall smite;
Woe to the Lender at usurious rate,
The hard Rich Man, the hireling Advocate;
Woe to the Judge that selleth Law for pay;
Woe to the Thief that like a beast of prey
With creeping tread the traveller harryeth:—
These, in their sin, the sudden sword shall slay..
There is no King more terrible than Death.
He hath no pity,—nor will be denied.
When the low hearth is garnishèd and bright,
Grimly he flingeth the dim portal wide,
And steals the Infant in the Mother's sight;
He hath no pity for the scorned of fate:—
He spares not Lazarus lying at the gate,
Nay, nor the Blind that stumbleth as he may;
Nay, the tired Ploughman,—at the sinking ray,—
In the last furrow,—feels an icy breath,
And knows a hand hath turned the team astray..
There is no King more terrible than Death.
He hath no pity. For the new-made Bride,
Blithe with the promise of her life's delight,
That wanders gladly by her Husband's side,
He with the clatter of his drum doth fright;
He scares the Virgin at the convent grate;
The Maid half-won, the Lover passionate;
He hath no grace for weakness and decay:
The tender Wife, the Widow bent and gray,
The feeble Sire whose footstep faltereth,—
All these he leadeth by the lonely way..
There is no King more terrible than Death.
Youth, for whose ear and monishing of late,
I sang of Prodigals and lost estate,
Have thou thy joy of living and be gay;
But know not less that there must come a day,—
Aye, and perchance e'en now it hasteneth,—
When thine own heart shall speak to thee and say,—
There is no King more terrible than Death.
("the clatter of his drum")
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Focus on Hearth-Side Dining
Manius Curius was the most rigid model of Roman frugality and the most perfect example of courage. When the Samnite envoys were brought in to see him, he was sitting on a rustic bench beside the fireplace and taking his dinner from a wooden bowl; you can imagine the kind of meal it was from its presentation. He thought nothing of the wealth of the Samnites, but they were amazed at his poverty. They had brought him a huge amount of gold presented by their state, and speaking kindly they invited him to accept it, but he burst out laughing and said at once, "You have been sent on a pointless, not to mention stupid, mission; tell the Samnites that Manius Curius would rather rule over rich men than become a rich man himself; take away that expensive gift, which was invented to do mischief to men, and remember that I cannot be defeated in battle or corrupted by money."Pliny the Elder, Natural History 19.26.87 (tr. H. Rackham):
М’. autem Curius, exactissima norma Romanae frugalitatis idemque fortitudinis perfectissimum specimen, Samnitium legatis agresti se in scamno adsidentem foco eque ligneo catillo cenantem—quales epulas apparatus indicio est—spectandum praebuìt. ille enim Samnitium divitias contempsit, Samnites eius paupertatem mirati sunt. nam cum ad eum magnum pondus auri publice missum attulissent, benignis verbis invitatus ut eo uti vellet, vultum risu solvit et protinus 'supervacuae', inquit 'ne dicam ineptae legationis ministri, narrate Samnitibus M'. Curium malle locupletibus imperare quam ipsum fieri locupletem, atque istud ut pretiosum, ita malo hominum excogitatum munus refertote, et mementote me nec acie vinci nec pecunia corrumpi posse'.
You might be sure that Manius Curius was not a native of Delphi, the general who is recorded in our annals to have been found by the enemy's envoys roasting a turnip at the fire, when they came bringing the gold which he was going indignantly to refuse.Seneca, On Providence 3.6 (tr. John W. Basore):
scires non ibi genitum M'. Curium imperatorem, quem hospitum legatis aurum repudiaturo adferentibus rapum torrentem in foco inventum annales nostri prodidere.
Is Fabricius unfortunate because, whenever he has leisure from affairs of state, he tills his fields? because he wages war not less on riches than on Pyrrhus? because the roots and herbs on which he dines beside his hearth are those that he himself, an old man and honoured by a triumph, grubbed up in cleaning off his land? Tell me, then, would he be happier if he loaded his belly with fish from a distant shore and with birds from foreign parts? if he aroused the sluggishness of his loathing stomach with shell-fish from the eastern and the western sea? if he had game of the first order, which had been captured at the cost of many a hunter's life, served with fruit piled high around?Seneca, To Helvia on Consolation 10.7-8 (tr. John W. Basore):
infelix est Fabricius, quod rus suum, quantum a re publica vacavit, fodit? quod bellum tam cum Pyrrho quam cum divitiis gerit? quod ad focum cenat illas ipsas radices et herbas quas in repurgando agro triumphalis senex vulsit? quid ergo? felicior esset, si in ventrem suum longinqui litoris pisces et peregrina aucupia congereret, si conchylis superi atque inferi maris pigritiam stomachi nausiantis erigeret, si ingenti pomorum strue cingeret primae formae feras, captas multa caede venantium?
 Our ancestors, of course, were unhappy—they whose virtue even to this day props up our vices, who by their own hands provided themselves with food, whose couch was the earth, whose ceilings did not yet glitter with gold, whose temples were not yet shining with precious stones. And so in those days they would solemnly take oath by gods of clay, and those who had invoked them would go back to the enemy, preferring to die rather than break faith.  And our dictator, he who, while he gave audience to the envoys of the Samnites, was busy at his hearth, cooking with his own hand the cheapest sort of food, with that hand that had often smitten the enemy before and had placed a laurel wreath upon the lap of Capitoline Jove—this man, of course, was living less happily than did Apicius within our own memory, who in this very city, which at one time the philosophers were ordered to leave, as being 'corruptors of youth,' as a professor of the science of the cook-shop defiled the age with his teaching.Juvenal 11.77-81 (tr. Susanna Morton Braund):
 scilicet maiores nostri, quorum virtus etiamnunc vitia nostra sustentat, infelices erant, qui sibi manu sua parabant cibum, quibus terra cubile erat, quorum tecta nondum auro fulgebant, quorum templa nondum gemmis nitebant; itaque tunc per fictiles deos religiose iurabatur: qui illos invocaverant, ad hostem morituri, ne fallerent, redibant.  scilicet minus beate vivebat dictator noster qui Samnitium legatos audiit cum vilissimum cibum in foco ipse manu sua versaret, illa qua iam saepe hostem percusserat laureamque in Capitolini lovis gremio reposuerat, quam Apicius nostra memoria vixit, qui, in ea urbe, ex qua aliquando philosophi velut corruptores iuventutis abire iussi sunt, scientiam popinae professus, disciplina sua saeculum infecit.
This would already have been a luxurious feast long ago, even for our Senate. With his own hands Curius used to cook on his modest hearth the humble vegetables he'd picked in his own garden. These days, a filthy ditchdigger in his huge shackles would turn up his nose at such vegetables, all the while reminiscing about the taste of tripe in the steaming diner.Plutarch, Life of Cato the Elder 2.102 (tr. Bernadotte Perrin):
haec olim nostri iam luxuriosa senatus
cena fuit. Curius parvo quae legerat horto
ipse focis brevibus ponebat holuscula, quae nunc
squalidus in magna fastidit conpede fossor,
qui meminit calidae sapiat quid volva popinae.
 Near his fields was the cottage which had once belonged to Manius Curius, a hero of three triumphs. To this he would often go, and the sight of the small farm and the mean dwelling led him to think of their former owner, who, though he had become the greatest of the Romans, had subdued the most warlike nations, and driven Pyrrhus out of Italy, nevertheless tilled this little patch of ground with his own hands and occupied this cottage, after three triumphs.  Here it was that the ambassadors of the Samnites once found him seated at his hearth cooking turnips, and offered him much gold; but he dismissed them, saying that a man whom such a meal satisfied had no need of gold, and for his part he thought that a more honourable thing than the possession of gold was the conquest of its possessors. Cato would go away with his mind full of these things, and on viewing again his own house and lands and servants and mode of life, would increase the labours of his hands and lop off his extravagancies.[Sextus Aurelius Victor], On Famous Men 33.7 (on M'. Curius Dentatus; my translation):
 Ἦν δὲ πλησίον αὐτοῦ τῶν ἀγρῶν ἡ γενομένη Μανίου Κουρίου τοῦ τρὶς θριαμβεύσαντος ἔπαυλις. ἐπὶ ταύτην συνεχῶς βαδίζων καὶ θεώμενος τοῦ τε χωρίου τὴν μικρότητα καὶ τῆς οἰκήσεως τὸ λιτόν, ἔννοιαν ἐλάμβανε τοῦ ἀνδρὸς ὅτι Ῥωμαίων μέγιστος γενόμενος καὶ τὰ μαχιμώτατα τῶν ἐθνῶν ὑπαγαγόμενος καὶ Πύρρον ἐξελάσας Ἰταλίας, τοῦτο τὸ χωρίδιον αὐτὸς ἔσκαπτε καὶ ταύτην τὴν ἔπαυλιν ᾤκει μετὰ τρεῖς θριάμβους.  ἐνταῦθα πρὸς ἐσχάρᾳ καθήμενον αὐτὸν ἕψοντα γογγυλίδας εὑρόντες οἱ Σαυνιτῶν πρέσβεις ἐδίδοσαν πολὺ χρυσίον, ὁ δ' ἀπέπεμψε φήσας οὐδὲν χρυσίου δεῖν ᾧ δεῖπνον ἀρκεῖ τοιοῦτον, αὐτῷ μέντοι τοῦ χρυσίον ἔχειν κάλλιον εἶναι τὸ νικᾶν τοὺς ἔχοντας. ταῦθ' ὁ Κάτων ἐνθυμούμενος ἀπῄει, καὶ τὸν αὑτοῦ πάλιν οἶκον ἐφορῶν καὶ χωρία καὶ θεράποντας καὶ δίαιταν, ἐπέτεινε τὴν αὐτουργίαν καὶ περιέκοπτε τὴν πολυτέλειαν.
To the Samnite ambassadors, who offered him gold when he was roasting turnips on the hearth, he said, "I prefer to eat these in my earthenware dishes and to rule over those who have gold."
legatis Samnitium aurum offerentibus cum ipse in foco rapas torreret, malo, inquit, haec in fictilibus meis esse et aurum habentibus imperare.
Curius Dentatus and the Turnips
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
So too the most thoughtful individuals, he says, who have the best reputation for wisdom, regard pleasure as the greatest good. Thus Simonides (PMG 584) says the following:
For without pleasure, what mortalPindar (fr. 126), offering advice to Hieron, the ruler of Syracuse, says:
lifestyle or what tyranny
Without this, not even the life of the gods is worth having.
Do not let not let pleasure fade from your lifestyle; a pleasant lifeHomer as well claims [Odyssey 9.5-8] that joy and having a good time is the height of happiness, when feasters are listening to a bard, and full tables are set beside them.
is far and away the best possession a man can have.
καὶ οἱ φρονιμώτατοι δέ, φησίν, καὶ μεγίστην δόξαν ἐπὶ σοφίᾳ ἔχοντες μέγιστον ἀγαθὸν τὴν ἡδονὴν εἶναι νομίζουσιν, Σιμωνίδης μὲν οὑτωσὶ λέγων·
τίς γὰρ ἁδονᾶς ἄτερ θνα-Πίνδαρος παραινῶν Ἱέρωνι τῷ Συρακοσίων ἄρχοντι·
τῶν βίος ποθεινὸς ἢ ποί-
α τυραννίς; |
τᾶσδ᾽ ἄτερ οὐδὲ θεῶν ζηλωτὸς αἰών.μηδ᾽ ἀμαύρου (φησί) τέρψιν ἐν βίῳ· πολύ τοικαὶ Ὅμηρος δὲ τὴν εὐφροσύνην καὶ τὸ εὐφραίνεσθαι τέλος φησὶν εἶναι χαριέστερον, ὅταν δαιτυμόνες μὲν ἀοιδοῦ ἀκουάζωνται, παρὰ δὲ πλήθωσι τράπεζαι.
φέριστον ἀνδρὶ τερπνὸς αἰών.
Monday, February 25, 2013
Wish for a Baby Boy
Families, when a child is bornThe same, tr. Kenneth Rexroth in One Hundred Poems from the Chinese (New York: New Directions, 1971), p. 84:
Want it to be intelligent.
I, through intelligence,
Having wrecked my whole life,
Only hope the baby will prove
Ignorant and stupid.
Then he will crown a tranquil life
By becoming a Cabinet Minister.
Everybody wants an intelligent son.
My intelligence only got me into difficulties.
I want only a brave and simple boy,
Who, without trouble or resistance,
Will rise to the highest offices.
From Andy Lowry:
Just wanted to share an echo in Sylvia Plath's little radio play, "Three Women." A mother meditates on her son:
I do not will him to be exceptional.
It is the exception that interests the devil.
It is the exception that climbs the sorrowful hill
Or sits in the desert and hurts his mother's heart.
Yet More on the Smell of Burning Papyrus
Read your 2 posts on the pros and cons of burning papyri for the scent.
I worked extensively with papyrus plants in Uganda in the 70's and did a great number of nutrient analyses on all parts of the plant, for which the plant had to be ground up. The scent was distinct and real! My lab reeked of it for months. It is not as noticeable in the upper parts of the stem, flower or roots, but it increases dramatically in the base of the stem and the rhizome (the sprout from which the stems grow).
Also in Ethiopia found pieces of the dry stem in markets at herb kiosks where rough plant material is mixed and sold to be burned in large incense burners in the orthodox services.
Pliny called it the "aromatic herb" for a reason; and Prof. Naphtali Lewis was right, there is a natural incense compound(s) in the plant and thus in the paper.
The older papyrus paper dealt with by Grenfell and Hunt had long ago lost its essence as the paper they dealt with had dried in the desert air over centuries.
Sometimes I'm sure a resined or shellaced or tarred scroll would give off a strong scent of pine, acacia gum or bitumen, but when dealing with fresh material or scrolls tightly sealed the natural scent of papyrus is distinctly there.
Appreciated the translation of Schow and the additional comment by Eric Thomson.
(aka "BwanaPapyrus" on Twitter.com, also see my webpage www.fieldofreeds.com)
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Words Are the Cement of Society
There is a generation of men, whose unweighed custome makes them clack out any thing their heedlesse fancy springes; That are so habited in falshood that they can out-lye an Almanack, or, which is more, a Chancery Bill; and though they ought to have good memories, yet they lye so often, that they do at last, not remember that they lye at all. That besides creating whole scenes of their own, they cannot relate any thing cleer, and candidly: but eyther they must augment, or diminish.Id., p. 184:
I could sooner pardon some Crimes that are capitall, then this Wild-fire in the tongue; that whipp's, and scorches wheresoever it lights. It shows so much Sulphur in the mind of the Relator, that you will easily conclude, It is the breath of Hell....Speech is the Commerce of the World, and Words are the Cement of Society. What have we to rest upon in this world, but the professions and Declarations that men seriously and solemnly offer? When any of these fail, a Ligament of the World is broke: and whatever this upheld as a foundation, falls....But for him whose weaknesse hath abandon'd him into a Lyar; I look upon him as the dreggs of mankind. A Proteus in conversation, vizarded and in disguise: As a thing that hath bankrupted himself in Humanity, that is to be contemned, and as a counterfeit to be nayl'd upon a post that he may deceive no more.
Asyndeton Filling Hexameters
Horace, Ars Poetica 121:
impiger iracundus inexorabilis acerJuvenal 3.76:
grammaticus rhetor geometres pictor aliptesDamasus, Epigrams 18.5 (Anthologiae Latinae Supplementa, Vol. I, p. 25 Ihm):
seditio caedes bellum discordia litesId. 32.1 (p. 37 Ihm; the variant carnificis, if construed as genitive singular, would exclude this example; the first two words occur in an example from Lucretius, 3.1017):
verbera carnifices flammas tormenta catenasPrudentius, Hamartigenia 395:
Ira Superstitio Maeror Discordia LuctusId. 397:
Livor Adulterium Dolus Obtrectatio FurtumId. 546:
mobile sollicitum velox agitabile acutumId. 761:
balnea propolas meritoria templa theatraPrudentius, Psychomachia 229:
inportunus iners infelix degener amensId. 449:
fibula flammeolum strophium diadema monileId. 464:
Cura Famis Metus Anxietas Periuria PallorId. 465:
Corruptela Dolus Commenta Insomnia SordesOrientius, Commonitorium 1.67:
aurum vestis odor pecudes libamina gemmaeId. 1.261:
ora color sanguis venae cutis ossa capilliId. 2.97:
contemptum pluvias frigus ieiunia rixasI exclude Horace, Epistles 1.1.38 (invidus iracundus iners vinosus amator) because it contains the noun amator alongside adjectives, even though those adjectives are used substantively.
Saturday, February 23, 2013
The Value of Philosophy
We need not believe they all took their philosophy seriously, but some did. One senator called Rogatianus renounced his praetorship when the lictors were waiting at his front door, dismissed his servants, sold his property, made do with eating alternate days, and in no time was cured of the gout—a classic illustration of the value of philosophy.
Surely, we deceive our selves, to think on earth, continued joyes would please. 'Tis a way that crosses that which Nature goes. Nothing would be more tedious, then to be glutted with perpetual Jollities: were the body tyed to one dish alwayes, (though of the most exquisite delicate, that it could make choise of) yet after a small time, it would complain of loathing and satiety. And so would the soul, if it did ever epicure it self in joy. Discontents are sometimes the better part of our life. I know not well which is the more usefull; Joy I may chuse for pleasure, but adversities are the best for profit. And sometimes these do so far help me, as I should without them, want much of the joy I have.Juvenal 11.208 (tr. Susanna Morton Braund):
Pleasures are enhanced by rare indulgence.
voluptates commendat rarior usus.
Man's Greatest Enemy
Anacharsis the Scythian, asked by someone "What is hostile to men?", said, "They are, to themselves."[Ausonius], Septem Sapientum Sententiae 1.2 (tr. Hugh G. Evelyn-White):
Ὰνάχαρσις ὁ Σκύθης ἐρωτηθεὶς ὑπό τινος τί ἐστι πολέμιον ἀνθρώποις; "αὐτοὶ" έφη "ἑαυτοῖς."
What is man's greatest bane? His brother man alone.Distichs of Cato 4.11 (tr. J. Wight Duff and Arnold M. Duff):
pernicies homini quae maxima? solus homo alter.
When fear of brute beasts harasses your mind,Related posts:
Know what you most should dread is human kind.
cum tibi praeponas animalia bruta timore,
unum hominem scito tibi praecipue esse timendum.
bruta Arntzen: cuncta codd.
timore D: timere ceteri codd.
Friday, February 22, 2013
Why Not Publish?
"But why not publish?"—those who know too well,
Dealers in Greek, are fearful 't will not sell;
Then he himself is timid, troubled, slow,
Nor likes his labours nor his griefs to show;
The hope of fame may in his heart have place,
But he has dread and horror of disgrace;
Nor has he that confiding, easy way,
That might his learning and himself display;
But to his work he from the world retreats,
And frets and glories o'er the favourite sheets.
Men feel their weakness, and to numbers run,
Themselves to strengthen, or themselves to shun.
No man can write six lines, but there may be something one may carp at, if he be disposed to cavil. Opinions are as various, as false. Judgement is from every tongue, a several. Men think by censuring to be accounted wise; but, in my conceit, there is nothing layes forth more of the Fool....Frequent dispraises are, at best, but the faults of uncharitable wit. Any Clown may see the Furrow is but crooked, but where is the man that can plow me a streight one? The best works are but a kind of Miscellany; the cleanest Corn, will not be without some soil: No not after often winnowing. There is a tincture of corruption, that dies even all mortality. I would wish men in works of others, to examine two things before they judge. Whether it be more good, then ill: And whether they themselves could at first have perform'd it better.a several: a private property or possession
No Creature Lives So Miserable
Our own follies have been the only cause, to make our lives uncomfortable. Our error of opinion, our cowardly fear of the worlds worthless censure, and our madding after unnecessary gold, have brambled the way of Vertue, and made it far more difficult than indeed it is.Id., p. 56:
In our salutes, in our prayers, we wish and invoke heaven for the happiness of our friends: and shall we be so unjust, or so uncharitable, as to withhold it from our selves? As if we should make it a fashion, to be kinde abroad, and discourteous at home. I do think nothing more lawful, then moderately to satisfie the pleasing desires of Nature; so as they infringe not Religion, hurt not our selves, or the commerce of humane society. Laughing is a faculty peculiar to Man: yet, as if it were given us for inversion, no creature lives so miserable, so disconsolate. Why should we deny to use that lawfully, which Nature hath made for pleasure in imployment? Vertue hath neither so crabbed a face, nor so austere a look, as we make her.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Pecunia Donat Omnia
Classical quotations on the facing page (128) of Vaenius' emblem book are from the following sources:
Horace, Epistles 1.6.36-38 (tr. H. Rushton Fairclough):
Of course a wife and dowry, credit and friends, birth and beauty, are the gift of Queen Cash, and the goddesses Persuasion and Venus grace the man who is well-to-do.Euripides, fragment 249 (not from Bellerophon, as Vaenius indicates, with the Latin translation "ingens vis est divitiarum: / quas qui nactus est, nobilis statim evadit," i.e. "great is the power of riches; the man who has obtained them immediately becomes high-born," but from Archelaus, tr. Christopher Collard and Martin Cropp):
scilicet uxorem cum dote fidemque et amicos
et genus et formam regina Pecunia donat,
ac bene nummatum decorat Suadela Venusque.
Don't make him rich; if he's poor he'll be submissive—but wealth with a well-born man in possession of it is a very powerful thing.Juvenal 3.137-142 (tr. Susanna Morton Braund):
μὴ πλούσιον θῇς· ἐνδεέστερος γὰρ ὢν
ταπεινὸς ἔσται· κεῖνο δ' ἰσχύει μέγα,
πλοῦτος λαβών τε τοῦτον εὐγενὴς ἀνήρ.
At Rome, produce a witness as saintly as the man who welcomed the Idaean goddess, let Numa step forward, or the man who rescued a trembling Minerva from the blazing temple—it's straight to his wealth; his character will be the last enquiry. 'How many slaves does he keep? How many acres of farmland does he own? How many and how lavish are his courses at dinner?'Juvenal 14.207 (tr. Susanna Morton Braund):
da testem Romae tam sanctum, quam fuit hospes
numinis Idaei; procedat vel Numa vel qui
servavit trepidam flagranti ex aede Minervam:
protinus ad censum, de moribus ultima fiet
quaestio: quot pascit servos? quot possidet agri
iugera? quam multa magnaque paropside cenat?
No one asks where you got it from—but have it you must.For more parallels see Renzo Tosi, Dictionnaire des sentences latines et grecques, tr. Rebecca Lenoir (Grenoble: Jérôme Millon, 2010), #1784 = Dat census honores (pp. 1304-1305).
unde habeas quaerit nemo, sed oportet habere.
Confuting Old Errors and Begetting New Ones
We fill the world with cruel brawls, in the obstinate defence of that, whereof we might with more honour, confess our selves to be ignorant. One will tell us our Saviours disputations among the Doctors. Another, what became of Moses body. A third, in what place Paradise stood: and where is local Hell. Some will know Heaven as perfectly, as if they had been hurried about in every Sphear; and I think they may. Former Writers would have the Zones inhabitable; we find them by experience, temperate. Saint Augustine would by no means indure the Antipodes: we are now of nothing more certain. Every Age both confutes old Errors, and begets new. Yet still are we more intangled, and the further we go, the nearer we approach a Sun that blindes us.where is local Hell: where Hell is located
inhabitable: not habitable
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Like an Ugly Palimpsest
We mourned for a lost Eden. Farming was becoming a noisy, mechanised, stinking business. Wagons, ploughs, and the horses that drew them were all disappearing. Wood and stone were giving place to asbestos and corrugated iron. Care and grace, and the old slow pace and the old thoroughness and craft were all abandoned. The farm tractor was now king, and speed was all-important. Thatched ricks, cut-and-laid hedges, shocks of corn and cocks of hay, handmade wooden gates and stiles, were rare sights now. The stone-breaker was no longer needed since the white limestone lanes were tarred. Flowers that were once common had become rare, and only a few of the old mixed pastures escaped the zeal of farmers keen to sow 'leys' without a 'weed'. Those who never saw Edwardian England can have no idea of its beauty. Old photographs show this with great poignancy. True, the children in them often looked cowed and ill-clad, and the men and women are bowed with labour, but that need not have been the heavy price paid for beauty and naturalness: the brash angularity of today, its harsh shapes and unsympathetic textures, its litter of poles and wires, its makeshift, temporary appearance lie like an ugly palimpsest upon the old countryside.Id., pp. 211-212:
In the sleepy England of my childhood it was an event to see a motor car, or watch a biplane for the first time until it became a speck in the distance and vanished. Nothing ever changed. Sugar was twopence a pound, and a letter required a penny stamp. Yet the ugly and stupid technological revolution was imminent. Over the years I have watched the change from age-old agriculture to a mechanised 'agro-business'. Horses and men have gone, and traditional farming craftsmanship such as rick-building and thatching, coppicing and hedge-laying has been extinguished in the process. A hedge has become an obstacle to be removed, and wild flowers troublesome weeds to be exterminated.Id., pp. 213-214:
Year by year we lose more and more of the things we have loved: ancient woodlands, flowery meadows, handsome old farm buildings, stiles and gates of oak and ash; things made of wool, linen or silk; cloth-bound books of lissom paper, their sections properly stitched so they open easily; and a multitude of domestic things that were good to handle – all made before the fatal invasion of synthetic substances and shoddy methods.Hat tip: Eric Thomson.
Now the Stinking Engine Roars
Where once the haycocks lay
Soft-mounded and sweet,
Compounded was that hay
Of sorrel and cow-wheat,
Trefoil and tormentil,
Melilot and storksbill
Pungent in June heat;
Lady's bedstraw, woodruff,
Lady's mantle, marguerite,
With marjoram flowers enough
To make the air sweet;
Wagwants and nameless grasses,
Feverfew and creeping Jenny,
Where once the wagon rolled
Hoop-raved and proud
Across the shorn wold
Under the June cloud,
With slow sound of horse and wheel
Through aisles of grass and vetch,
Meadow vetchling, selfheal,
The scented load to fetch —
Hawkweed and clover,
Meadow sage, meadow rue
The pasture over:
Meadow fescue, millet grass,
Timothy and rye,
Salad burnet, creeping cinquefoil
Under the June sky —
Now the stinking engine roars
Down streamlined fields.
Its vomit yields.
Of sterile and purest ley,
Parcelled and hard,
Compounded is that hay,
By no flower marred;
Tested and scentless,
Weedless and clean,
Litter the June scene.
Yet when the summer moon
Rises over the wood,
They are like standing stones
That have always stood;
Primeval and high,
Their long shadows lie
In the June dark.
Older than haycocks
These cromlechs stand:
They rise from the land.
Man's strange ways,
Newfangled and odd,
Are all one
To the June god.
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Long have I sought the wish of all
To find; and what it is men call
True Happiness; but cannot see
The world has it, which it can be.
Or with it Hold a sympathy.
He that enjoyes, what here below
Frail Elements have to bestow,
Shall find most sweet, bare hopes at first;
Fruition, by fruition's burst:
Sea-water so allayes your thirst.
Whos'ever would be happy then,
Must be so to himself: For when
Judges are taken from without,
To judge what we (fenc'd close about)
Are: they judge not, but guesse and doubt.
He must have reason store, to spy
Natures hid ways, to satisfie
His judgment. So he may be safe
From the vain fret: for fools will chafe
At that, which makes a wise man laugh.
If 'bove the mean his mind be pitcht,
Or with unruly Passions twicht,
A storm is there: But he sails most
Secure, whose Bark in any Coast
Can neither be becalm'd nor tost.
A chearful, but an upright heart
Is musick wheresoe're thou art:
And where God pleaseth to confer it,
Man can no greater good inherit,
Then is a clear and temperate spirit.
Wealth to keep want away, and Fear
Of it: Not more: some Friends, still near,
And chosen well: nor must he misse
A Calling: yet, some such as is
Imployment; not a Businesse.
His soul must hug no private sin,
For that's a thorne hid by the skin.
But Innocence, where she is nurs'd,
Plants valiant Peace. So Cato durst
Be God-like good, when Rome was worst.
God built he must be in his mind;
That is, part God: whose faith no wind
Can shake. When boldly he relies
On one so noble; he out-flies
Low chance, and fate of Destinies.
Life as a middle way, immur'd
With joy and grief, to be indur'd,
Not spurn'd, nor wanton'd hence, he knows.
In crooked banks, a spring so flows
O're stone, mud, weeds: yet still cleer goes.
And as springs rest not, till they lead
Meandring high, as their first head:
So souls rest not, till man has trod
Deaths height. Then by that period,
They rest too, rais'd as high as God.
Summe all! he happiest is, that can
In this worlds Jarr be Honest Man.
For since Perfection is so high,
Beyond lifes reach, he that would try
True happinesse indeed, must dye.
The Merry Soul
If mirth and recreations be lawful, sure such a one may lawfully use it. If Wine were given to cheer the heart, why should I fear to use it for that end? Surely, the merry soul is freer from intended mischief, then the thoughtfull man. A bounded mirth, is a Patent adding time and happinesse to the crazed life of Man.Id., pp. 7-8:
Behold then; what I have seen good! That it is comely to eat, and to drink, and to take pleasure in all his labour wherein he travaileth under the Sun, the whole number of the days of his life, which GOD giveth him. For, this is his Portion. Nay, there is no profit to Man, but that he eat, and drink, and delight his soul with the profit of his labour. For, he that saw other things but vanity, saw this also, that it was the hand of God. Methinks the reading of Ecclesiastes, should make a Puritan undress his brain, and lay off all those Phanatique toyes that gingle about his understanding.Ecclesiastes 5.17 (Geneva Bible): Beholde then, what I have sene good, that it is comelie to eat, and to drinke, & to take pleasure in all his labour, wherein he trauaileth vnder the sunne, the whole number of the dayes of his life, which God giueth him: for this is his portion.
Ecclesiastes 2.24 (Geneva Bible): There is no profite to man: but that he eat, and drinke, and delite his soule with the profite of his labour: I sawe also this, that it was of the hand of God.
A Noble Not-Caring
The world has nothing in it worthy a man's serious anger. The best way to perish discontentments, is either not to see them, or convert them to a dimpling mirth. How endless will be the quarrels of a cholerick man, and the contentments of him, that is resolved to turn indignities into things to make sport withal? 'Tis sure, nothing but experience, and collected judgement, can make a man do this: but when he has brought himself unto it, how infinite shall he find his ease?Id., p. 4:
As for the crackers of the brain, and tongue-squibs, they will die alone, if I shall not revive them. The best way to have them forgotten by others, is first to forget them my self. This will keep my self in quiet, and by a noble not-caring, arrow the intenders bosome: who will ever fret most, when he findes his designs most frustrate.Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. arrow, v., sense 3 (citing only this passage): "To pierce, wound (? confused with harrow)."
Monday, February 18, 2013
Let them talk of lakes and mountains and romantic dales—all that fantastic stuff; give me a ramble by night, in the winter nights in London—the Lamps lit—the pavements of the motley Strand crowded with to and fro passengers—the shops all brilliant, and stuffed with obliging customers and obliged tradesmen—give me the old book-stalls of London—a walk in the bright Piazzas of Covent Garden. I defy a man to be dull in such places—perfect Mahometan paradises upon earth! I have lent out my heart with usury to such scenes from my childhood up, and have cried with fulness of joy at the multitudinous scenes of Life in the crowded streets of ever dear London. I wish you could fix here. I don't know if you quite comprehend my low Urban Taste; but depend upon it that a man of any feeling will have given his heart and his love in childhood and in boyhood to any scenes where he has been bred, as well to dirty streets (and smoky walls as they are called) as to green lanes, "where live nibbling sheep," and to the everlasting hills and the Lakes and ocean. A mob of men is better than a flock of sheep, and a crowd of happy faces justling into the playhouse at the hour of six is a more beautiful spectacle to man than the shepherd driving his "silly" sheep to fold. Come to London and learn to sympathise with my unrural notions.
Factura Nepotibus Umbram
Here's another cutting for you from Vergil to add to your The Long View references (6 January 2011), Georgics 2, 57-8:Translation of Vergil, Georgics 2.57-58, by C. Day Lewis:
Iam quae seminibus iactis se sustulit arbosWalter Scott, a pious man, quite unlike Buchan's grim borderer Jobson, quotes 'factura nepotibus umbram' in his letters when he's laying out in his mind his Abbotsford estate.
tarda venit seris factura nepotibus umbram ...
To Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe (Ashestiel, 27 October 1811):
Next year I can hardly offer you hospitality as I am about to leave this place which has been for seven years my palace of indolence. The situation to which I shall remove next season is much less romantic but as Touchstone says of Audrey it is a poor thing but mine own. It consists of a haugh & brae of about 100 acres stretching along the Tweed for three quarters of a mile, commanding a fine sweep of the river and embosomed in fancy's eye with wood but to the visual orb presenting nothing more lofty or more verdant than some special turnips. Meanwhile great part of my future groves factura nepotibus umbram are travelling quietly in the shape of acorns from Trentham to London by the benevolence of our kind Marchioness.Seven years later, to Robert Southey (Abbotsford, 23 March 1818):
I have myself made a considerable extrication of funds which were inconveniently and precariously situated during the hours of difficulty and laid them out in terra firma which if it produces as yet no great revenue affords me an infinity of amusement in the way of planting, altering, enclosing, and so forth. You who live in a land of romance would laugh at my efforts to introduce into a barren waste beauties which I myself shall not live to see but I trust Posterity on whom we rest our hopes of fame will do justice to the man who planted a million of trees on a naked heath.
A tree that springs from dropped seed
Grows slowly, it'll give shade one day to your descendants.
A Gardener's Chronicle
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Almost Too Pitiful to Bear
Then we went to work to cut down the trees. The slim stems were an easy task to a good woodman, and one after another they toppled to the ground. And meantime, as I watched, I became conscious of a strange emotion.
It was as if someone were pleading with me. A gentle voice, not threatening, but pleading—something too fine for the sensual ear, but touching inner chords of the spirit. So tenuous it was and distant that I could think of no personality behind it. Rather it was the viewless, bodiless grace of this delectable vale, some old exquisite divinity of the groves. There was the heart of all sorrow in it, and the soul of all loveliness. It seemed a woman’s voice, some lost lady who had brought nothing but goodness unrepaid to the world. And what the voice told me was that I was destroying her last shelter.
That was the pathos of it—the voice was homeless. As the axes flashed in the sunlight and the wood grew thin, that gentle spirit was pleading with me for mercy and a brief respite. It seemed to be telling of a world for centuries grown coarse and pitiless, of long sad wanderings, of hardly won shelter, and a peace which was the little all she sought from men. There was nothing terrible in it. No thought of wrong-doing. The spell which to Semitic blood held the mystery of evil, was to me, of the Northern race, only delicate and rare and beautiful. Jobson and the rest did not feel it, I with my finer senses caught nothing but the hopeless sadness of it. That which had stirred the passion in Lawson was only wringing my heart. It was almost too pitiful to bear. As the trees crashed down and the men wiped the sweat from their brows, I seemed to myself like the murderer of fair women and innocent children. I remember that the tears were running over my cheeks. More than once I opened my mouth to countermand the work, but the face of Jobson, that grim Tishbite, held me back.
Holzhacker im Inneren eines Waldes
Semper Aliquid Novi
A day always teaches something new.Posidippus, fragment 20, in Poetae Comici Graeci, edd. R. Kassel and C. Austin, Vol. 7 (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1989), p. 571 (tr. J.M. Edmonds):
ἀεί τι καινὸν ἡμέρα παιδεύεται.
Grief's hard to escape; each night's no sooner gonePublilius Syrus 146 (tr. J. Wight Duff and Arnold M. Duff):
Than there comes something new to ponder on.
ἔργον γε λύπην ἐκφυγεῖν, ἡ δ' ἡμέρα
ἀεί τι καινὸν εἰς τὸ φροντίζειν φέρει.
Next day is pupil of the day before.See Renzo Tosi, Dictionnaire des sentences latines et grecques, tr. Rebecca Lenoir (Grenoble: Jérôme Millon, 2010), #2027 (p. 1471), and Maria Spyridonidou-Skarsouli, Der Erste Teil der fünften Athos-Sammlung griechischer Sprichwörter: Kritische Ausgabe mit Kommentar (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1995 = Texte und Kommentare, 18), p. 209.
Discipulus est prioris posterior dies.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
In Your Hut
Happy and contented in your hutIn Spanish:
In youth and age you drew the pure sweet air
And now you find the cradle and the grave
A roof of straw, and reeds upon the ground.
In solitude thus freely bathed 5
By silent sun in surer light
Daily life grows slow apace
And quiet hours undeceive you.
Count not the years by consulships
But measure by the harvests; 10
You tread a world without deceits.
You profit by all you do not know
And seek no prize, nor suffer pain,
But are prolonged by each constraint.
A un Amigo que, retirado de la Corte, pasó su edadI detected an echo of Claudian's "Old Man of Verona" (line 11: "frugibus alternis, non consule computat annum") in lines 9-10 of Quevedo's sonnet. For that and other parallels, see the notes in Francisco de Quevedo, Poesía Moral (Polimnia), ed. Alfonso Rey, 2nd ed. (Madrid: Editorial Támesis, 1998), pp. 178-179.
Dichoso tú que, alegre en tu cabaña,
mozo y viejo, espiraste la aura pura;
y te sirven de cuna y sepoltura
de paja el techo, el suelo de espadaña.
En esa soledad que, libre, baña 5
callado sol con lumbre más segura,
la vida al día más espacio dura,
y la hora, sin voz, te desengaña.
No cuentas por los cónsules los años;
hacen tu calendario tus cosechas, 10
pisas todo tu mundo sin engaños.
De todo lo que ignoras te aprovechas.
Ni anhelas premios, ni padeces daños,
y te dilatas cuanto más te estrechas.
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.
Friday, February 15, 2013
The present ideal, therefore, of giving all the fifty millions intensive and identical education, from Kindergarten or even crèche to University Honours Schools, not only spells bankruptcy and other unpleasant things, of which a little more later, but involves the most enormous absurdity. You might as well attempt to train every four-legged donkey to Derby form, and subject every drop of currant or gooseberry juice to the elaborate processes which turn out champagne.
Ill busi'd man! why should'st thou take such care
To lengthen out thy lifes short Kalendar?
When e'ry spectacle thou lookst upon
Presents and acts thy execution.
Each drooping season and each flower doth cry, 5
Fool! as I fade and wither, thou must dy.
The beating of thy pulse (when thou art well)
Is just the tolling of thy Passing Bell:
Night is thy Hearse, whose sable Canopie
Covers alike deceased day and thee. 10
And all those weeping dewes which nightly fall,
Are but the tears shed for thy funerall.
3 e'ry: every
8 Passing Bell: bell tolled to announce a death
Thursday, February 14, 2013
A Wise Man Honours Them All
(9TH CENTURY.)4 marish: marshy
I will walk warily in the wise woods on the fringes of eventide,
For the covert is full of noises and the stir of nameless things.
I have seen in the dusk of the beeches the shapes of the lords that ride,
And down in the marish hollow I have heard the lady who sings.
And once in an April gleaming I met a maid on the sward, 5
All marble-white and gleaming and tender and wild of eye;—
I, Jehan the hunter, who speak am a grown man, middling hard,
But I dreamt a month of the maid, and wept I knew not why.
Down by the edge of the firs, in a coppice of heath and vine,
Is an old moss-grown altar, shaded by briar and bloom, 10
Denys, the priest, hath told me 'twas the lord Apollo's shrine
In the days ere Christ came down from God to the Virgin's womb.
I never go past but I doff my cap and avert my eyes—
(Were Denys to catch me I trow I'd do penance for half a year)—
For once I saw a flame there and the smoke of a sacrifice, 15
And a voice spake out of the thicket that froze my soul with fear.
Wherefore to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,
Mary the Blessed Mother, and the kindly Saints as well,
I will give glory and praise, and them I cherish the most,
For they have the keys of Heaven, and save the soul from Hell. 20
But likewise I will spare for the Lord Apollo a grace,
And a bow for the lady Venus—as a friend but not as a thrall.
'Tis true they are out of Heaven, but some day they may win the place;
For gods are kittle cattle, and a wise man honours them all.
24 kittle cattle: "Used to denote people or animals that are capricious, rash, or erratic in behaviour; also transf., objects, concepts, etc., that are difficult to use, sort out, or comprehend." (Oxford English Dictionary)
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Now that the World is all in a maze,
Drums and Trumpets rending Heav'ns,
Wounds a bleeding, Mortals dying,
Widows and Orphans piteously crying;
Armies marching, Towns in a blaze,
Kingdoms and States at sixes and sevens:
What should an honest Fellow do,
Whose courage, and fortunes run equally low!
Let him live, say I, till his glass be run,
As easily as he may;
Let the Wine, and the Sand of his Glass flow together,
For Life's but a Winters day;
Alas from Sun to Sun,
The time's very short, very dirty the weather,
And we silently creep away,
Let him nothing do, he could wish undone;
And keep himself safe from the noise of Gun.
Why So Serious, Why So Grave?
Why so serious, why so grave?
Man of business, why so muddy?
Thy self from Chance thou canst not save
With all thy care and study.
Look merrily then, and take thy repose;
For 'tis to no purpose to look so forlorn,
Since the World was as bad before thou wert born,
And when it will mend who knows?
And a thousand year hence 'tis all one,
If thou lay'st on a Dunghill, or sat'st on a Throne.
To be troubled, to be sad,
Carking Mortal 'tis a folly,
For a pound of Pleasure's not so bad
As an ounce of Melancholy:
Since all our lives long we travel towards Death,
Let us rest us sometimes, and bait by the way,
'Tis but dying at last; in our Race let us stay,
And we shan't be so soon out of breath.
Sit the Comedy out, and that done,
When the Play's at an end, let the Curtain fall down.
Into Some Desart Let Me Go
A Dieu fond World, and all thy Wiles,
Thy haughty frowns, and treacherous smiles,
They that behold thee with my eyes,
Thy double dealing will despise:
From thee, false World, my deadly Foe,
Into some Desart let me go;
Some gloomy melancholy Cave,
Dark and silent as the Grave,
Let me withdraw; where I may be
From thine impertinencies free:
There when I hear the Turtle grone,
How sweetly would I make my mone!
Kind Philomel would teach me there
My sorrows pleasantly to bear:
There could I correspond with none
But Heaven, and my own breast alone.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
A Hymn to Pan, from Epidaurus
Πανί.Robert S. Wagman, "Pan diletto delle Naiadi (IG IV² 1, 130, 1-2)," Quaderni Urbinati di Cultura Classica 75.3 (2003) 145-150, has a bibliography (n. 1 on pp. 145-146), to which should be added William D. Furley and Jan Maarten Bremer, Greek Hymns, Vol. I: The Texts in Translation (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2001 = Studien und Texte zu Antike und Christentum, 9). The English translation by Furley and Bremer is on p. 240, but it is only partially visible through "snippet view" on Google Books. I made my own line-by-line translation:
Πᾶνα τὸν νυμφαγέτα[ν]
[Ν]αΐδ[ω]ν μέλημ’ ἀείδω,
χρυσέων χορῶν ἄγα[λ̣]μ̣α,
κωτίλας ἄνακτ[α μ]οίσα<ς>.
Εὐθρόου σύριγγος εὖ[χος] 5
ἔνθεον σε[ι]ρῆνα χεύ(ει),
ἐς μέλος δὲ κοῦφα βαίνων
εὐσκίων πηδᾷ κατ’ ἄντρων
παμφυὲς νωμῶν δέμας,
εὐχόρευτος εὐπρόσωπος 10
ἐνπρέπων ξανθῶι γενείωι.
Ὲς δ’ Ὄλυνπον ἀστερωπὸν
ἔρχεται πανῳδὸς ἀχώ,
θεῶν Ὀλυμπίων ὅμιλον
ἀμβρόται ῥαίνοισα[[ι]] μοίσαι, 15
χθὼν δὲ πᾶσα καὶ θάλασσα
κίρναται τεὰν χάριν· σὺ
γὰρ πέλεις ἔρισμα πάντων.
Ὦ ἰὴ Πὰν Πάν.
5 εὖ[χος] Hiller von Gaertringen, εὖ[χειρ] Theiler, εὖ[φρων] dubitanter Tod
18 ἔρισμα = ἔρεισμα
To Pan.The hymn contains two new Greek words: παμφυής (line 9) and εὐχόρευτος (line 10). I find the former in online versions of Liddell-Scott-Jones, but not the latter.
Pan, leader of Nymphs,
darling of Naiads, I sing,
glory of golden dances,
lord of twittering song.
A loud-sounding pipe's boast, 5
an inspired seductive melody he pours forth;
moving nimbly to music,
he leaps down shadowy caves,
guiding his omnifarious body,
a good dancer, fair of face, 10
conspicuous with his yellow beard.
To starry-faced Olympus
goes all-tuneful Echo,
bedewing the company of the Olympian gods
with immortal song, 15
and all earth and sea
join in thanking you;
for you support all things.
O hail, Pan, Pan.
In the opinion of Joan A. Haldane, "Pindar and Pan: frs. 95-100 Snell," Phoenix 22.1 (Spring 1968) 18-31 (at n. 15 on p. 22), the hymn was not "a genuine cult-song" but rather "an exhibition piece, designed in all probability for performance by an individual kitharode at a musical ἀγών and published in token of victory."
Thanks to Karl Maurer for comments.
Update: I found another translation, in Philippe Borgeaud, The Cult of Pan in Ancient Greece, tr. Kathleen Atlass and James Redfield (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), p. 149:
To Pan, leader of the naiad nymphs, I raise my song, pride of the golden choruses, lord of the frivolous music; from his far-sounding flute he pours an inspirited seductive melody; he steps lightly to the song, leaping through the shadowy grottoes, displaying his multiform body, beautiful dancer, beautiful face, resplendent with blond beard. As far as starry Olympus comes the panic echo, pervading the company of the Olympian gods with an immortal Muse. The whole earth and the sea are stirred by your grace; you are the prop of all, Ο Pan, Ah Pan.
Monday, February 11, 2013
Proverbs on the Preference for Old Things
Archer Taylor, "An Old Friend is the Best Friend," Romance Philology 9.2 (November 1955) 201-205, cites (at 204) what seems to be the earliest Spanish version of a proverb on the preference for old things, from Melchor de Santa Cruz de Dueñas, Floresta de apotegmas o sentencias (1574). I don't have access to the 1574 edition, but here is the proverb from Melchor de Santa Cruz, Floresta española (Madrid: Ediciones Cátedra, 1996), p. 173 (Segunda parte, Capítulo primero = De reyes, § XX):
El mismo [Alonso de Aragon] decía que cinco cosas le agradaban mucho: Leña seca, para quemar; caballo viejo, para cabalgar; vino añejo, para beber; amigos ancianos, para conversar; y libros antiguous, para leer.In English:
The same [Alonso of Aragon] said that five things pleased him much: dry wood, to burn; an old horse, to ride; old wine, to drink; old friends, to chat; and old books, to read.American book collector Frank Brewer Bemis (1861-1935) had a bookplate with the following version of the proverb, perhaps altered in deference to the temperance or prohibition movement:
Old Place, old books, old friends
There is an ancient Greek proverb ἀεὶ τὰ πέρυσι βελτίω, which means "always the things of last year [were] better." For a rich collection of references from the paroemiographers and other parallels, see Maria Spyridonidou-Skarsouli, Der Erste Teil der fünften Athos-Sammlung griechischer Sprichwörter: Kritische Ausgabe mit Kommentar (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1995 = Texte und Kommentare, 18), pp. 193-197. I don't see this proverb in Renzo Tosi, Dictionnaire des sentences latines et grecques, tr. Rebecca Lenoir (Grenoble: Jérôme Millon, 2010). I owe my knowledge of the Greek proverb to Laura Gibbs.
Sunday, February 10, 2013
Mazes of Conversation
At dinner, amongst a variety of persons and subjects, principally ecclesiastical, which were discussed—for Melbourne loves all sorts of theological talk—we got upon India and Indian men of eminence, proceeding from Gleig's 'Life of Warren Hastings,' which Macaulay said was the worst book that ever was written; and then the name of Sir Thomas Munro came uppermost. Lady Holland did not know why Sir Thomas Munro was so distinguished; when Macaulay explained all that he had ever said, done, written, or thought, and vindicated his claim to the title of a great man, till Lady Holland got bored with Sir Thomas, told Macaulay she had had enough of him, and would have no more. This would have dashed and silenced an ordinary talker, but to Macaulay it was no more than replacing a book on its shelf, and he was as ready as ever to open on any other topic. It would be impossible to follow and describe the various mazes of conversation, all of which he threaded with an ease that was always astonishing and instructive, and generally interesting and amusing. When we went upstairs we got upon the Fathers of the Church. Allen asked Macaulay if he had read much of the Fathers. He said, not a great deal. He had read Chrysostom when he was in India; that is, he had turned over the leaves and for a few months had read him for two or three hours every morning before breakfast; and he had read some of Athanasius. 'I remember a sermon,' he said, 'of Chrysostom's in praise of the Bishop of Antioch;' and then he proceeded to give us the substance of this sermon till Lady Holland got tired of the Fathers, again put her extinguisher on Chrysostom as she had done on Munro, and with a sort of derision, and as if to have the pleasure of puzzling Macaulay, she turned to him and said, 'Pray, Macaulay, what was the origin of a doll? when were dolls first mentioned in history?' Macaulay was, however, just as much up to the dolls as he was to the Fathers, and instantly replied that the Roman children had their dolls, which they offered up to Venus when they grew older; and quoted Persius forHat tip: Eric Thomson.
'Veneri donatae a virgine puppae,'and I have not the least doubt, if he had been allowed to proceed, he would have told us who was the Chenevix of ancient Rome, and the name of the first baby that ever handled a doll.
A Mountain in Miniature
There are no natural objects out of which more can be learned than out of stones. They seem to have been created especially to reward a patient observer. Nearly all other objects in nature can be seen to some extent without patience, and are pleasant even in being half seen. Trees, clouds, and rivers are enjoyable even by the careless; but the stone under his foot has, for carelessness, nothing in it but stumbling; no pleasure is languidly to be had out of it, nor food, nor good of any kind; nothing but symbolism of the hard heart, and the unfatherly gift. And yet, do but give it some reverence and watchfulness, and there is bread of thought in it, more than in any other lowly feature of all the landscape. For a stone, when it is examined, will be found a mountain in miniature. The fineness of Nature's work is so great, that into a single block, a foot or two in diameter, she can compress as many changes of form and structure, on a small scale, as she needs for her mountains on a large one; and taking moss for forests, and grains of crystal for crags, the surface of a stone in by far the plurality of instances is more interesting than the surface of an ordinary hill; more fantastic in form, and incomparably richer in colour.Id. § 40:
When a rock of any kind has lain for some time exposed to the weather, Nature finishes it in her own way. First she takes wonderful pains about its forms, sculpturing it into exquisite variety of dent and dimple, and rounding or hollowing it into contours which for fineness no human hand can follow; then she colours it; and every one of her touches of colour, instead of being a powder mixed with oil, is a minute forest of living trees, glorious in strength and beauty, and concealing wonders of structure.Readers in Ruskin's day would have needed no gloss for "symbolism of the hard heart, and the unfatherly gift," but for those (like me) insufficiently familiar with the Bible:
- Ezekiel 11.19: I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh.
- Matthew 7.9: Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
Saturday, February 09, 2013
By and large, though, the boys were taught by their mother....She had the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Redpath Library, a hundred volumes of Greek and Roman literature, Shakespeare, Dickens, Emerson, Thoreau, Longfellow, Kipling, Twain. She taught her sons French, Latin, and a bit of Greek. She read to them from books in German, translating as she went along. They read the Iliad and the Odyssey.Hat tip: Eric Thomson.
Attracted to Latin
From the beginning I felt attracted to Latin and I preferred what we called the version (from Latin into French) to the thème (which is the opposite). I found in the version Latine what became the foundation of my career as researcher and teacher: the need to understand and then to express clearly what I understood. I do not think I am exaggerating in saying that for me Latin was the only properly scientific apprenticeship of my secondary education, and probably the best school of intellectual self-expression.Hat tip: Ian Jackson.
In the fourth form, our Latin teacher, who shared these views, used to dictate a model translation to us after a test. 'You need not stick closely to the letter as long as you are faithful to the spirit', he used to tell us. 'Misunderstanding is the only danger'. I thought that he took liberties with the text which he denied to us, and he went too far at least once. It was all about the reception of Scipio Africanus by the people of Rome massed on the banks of the Tiber. 'I think we could say: "the quays were dark with people", yes, I think we shall dare to say that'. As I raised my hand in protest, he said with some annoyance: 'Don't be pedantic, Abragam, I think we may say that'. 'But, Monsieur, in the preceding phrase it said that they were all wearing white dresses: "candidas togas".'
The decisive factor which kept me away from classical studies was an impulsive move, the first of a long series, which made me give up the study of Greek when it started in the fourth form. From the first lesson I felt a violent antipathy for the Greek master, whose grimaces and tics I found unbearable. I persuaded my mother, to whom I dared not tell the truth, that Greek was a waste of time which would be better employed on more important studies.
In her time she had taken Latin but no Greek, so she believed me and went to see the Head about my transfer into a form without Greek. In the face of his unwillingness to permit it, she had to tell a lie and to allege that there were reasons related to my health. Learning of my transfer, the Greek master told me, between two grimaces, how much he regretted the departure of a pupil who appeared so apt at following his teaching.
Friday, February 08, 2013
Nothing But a Lout
Winter, you're nothing but a lout.
Summer is polite and gentle;
Only look how May and April
Accompany him day in, day out.
See how fields and woods and flowers
Wear his livery of verdure
And of many other colours
According to the rule of Nature;
But, Winter, you are all filled out
With snow and sleet and wind and drizzle;
It's time we sent you into exile;
I never flatter, but speak out;
Winter, you're nothing but a lout.
Yver, vous n'estes qu'un villain,
Esté est plaisant et gentil,
En tesmoing de May et d'Avril,
Qui l'acompaignent soir et main.
Esté revest champs, bois et fleurs,
De sa livrée de verdure
Et de maintes autres couleurs,
Par l'ordonnance de Nature.
Mais vous, Yver, trop estes plain
De neige, vent, pluye et grezil;
On vous deüst banir en exil.
Sans point flatter, je parle plain,
Yver, vous n'estes qu'un villain!
Winter in the Country: A Cold Morning
Lament for Kilcash
What shall we do for timber?The same, tr. Thomas Kinsella in An Irish Literature Reader: Poetry, Prose, Drama, edd. Maureen O'Rourke Murphy and James MacKillop, 2nd ed. (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2006), pp. 34-35:
The last of the woods is down.
Kilcash and the house of its glory
And the bell of the house are gone,
The spot where that lady waited
Who shamed all women for grace
When earls came sailing to meet her
And Mass was said in the place.
My cross and my affliction
Your gates are taken away,
Your avenue needs attention,
Goats in the garden stray.
Your courtyard's filled with water
And the great earls where are they?
The earls, the lady, the people
Beaten into the clay.
Nor sound of duck or geese there,
Hawk's cry or eagle's call,
No humming of the bees there
That brought honey and wax for all,
Not even the song of the birds there
When the sun goes down in the west,
No cuckoo on top of the boughs there,
Singing the world to rest.
There's mist there tumbling from branches,
Unstirred by night and by day,
And darkness falling from heaven,
For our fortune has ebbed away,
There's no holly nor hazel nor ash there,
The pasture's rock and stone,
The crown of the forest has withered,
And the last of its game is gone.
I beseech of Mary and Jesus
That the great come home again
With long dances danced in the garden,
Fiddle music and mirth among men,
That Kilcash the home of our fathers
Be lifted on high again,
And from that to the deluge of waters
In bounty and peace remain.
Now what will we do for timber,Gaelic text and a facing English translation can be found in James Clarence Mangan, The Poets and Poetry of Munster: A Selection of Irish Songs, 2nd ed, (Dublin: John O'Daly, 1850), pp. 197-201. I haven't seen John Flood and Phil Flood, Kilcash: 1190-1801 (Dublin: Geography Publications, 1999). The Gaelic begins "Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan adhmad?"
with the last of the woods laid low?
There's no talk of Cill Chais or its household
and its bell will be struck no more.
That dwelling where lived the good lady
most honoured and joyous of women
—earls made their way over wave there
and the sweet mass once was said.
Ducks' voices nor geese do I hear there,
nor the eagle's cry over the bay,
nor even the bees at their labour
bringing honey and wax to us all.
No birdsong there, sweet and delightful,
as we watch the sun go down,
nor cuckoo on top of the branches
settling the world to rest.
A mist on the boughs is descending
neither daylight nor sun can clear.
A stain from the sky is descending
and the waters receding away.
No hazel nor holly nor berry
but boulders and bare stone heaps,
not a branch in our neighbourly haggard,
and the game all scattered and gone.
Then a climax to all of our misery:
the prince of the Gael is abroad
oversea with that maiden of mildness
who found honour in France and Spain.
Her company now must lament her,
who would give yellow money and white
—she who'd never take land from the people
but was friend to the truly poor.
I call upon Mary and Jesus
to send her safe home again:
dances we'll have in long circles
and bone-fires and violin music;
that Cill Chais, the townland of our fathers,
will rise handsome on high once more
and till doom—or the deluge—returns -
we'll see it no more laid low.
The "lady" in the poem was Margaret Burke (1673-1744), married in 1689 to Bryan Magennis, 5th Viscount of Iveagh (died 1693), and in 1696 to Colonel Thomas Butler of Kilcash (died 1738).
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.
Thursday, February 07, 2013
Unsullied by the Digital World
The Crescent, now in its 134th year, perseveres, unsullied by the digital world: The office has no computer, no Internet. Coombs bangs out each edition on the keyboard of a 90-year-old Linotype, which forges each line of text, or slug, from molten lead. He arranges the slugs, along with ads and graphics -- engraved into wood or metal -- in the chase, a rectangular metal frame. After they're secured into the press, the chase and type are inked, and the newsprint rolls over them. The mailing labels are imprinted by a contraption made back in the 1920s. Like everything else in the office, the labeler -- little more than a small platform with a foot-long lever sticking out -- has the reassuring mechanical heft so often lacking in electronic devices.
It's basically the same technology that Coombs' grandfather, Charles Ogden, used when he bought The Crescent in 1917 (although at first, Ogden lacked a Linotype and had to set type by hand). His daughter, Marie, took over when he died in 1935; Dean stepped in as publisher in 1978, and his mother continued to edit the paper until she passed away in 2002.
A Quiet Life
Phoebus, be well disposed toward my undertakings, which aim at nothing lofty,
Nothing that the envious crowd would wish to be given to them by you.
Turn away riches; let the office of praetor fall to the share of others
Who want it, let great fame delight others.
Let this one, a commander, lead troops and happily 5
Manage distant military camps with anxious zeal,
Let the province fear that one's bundle of twelve rods;
Let him hear hand-clapping thrice repeated.
Let my care be for the fields of my meager estate and for tranquil poems,
And let not a single day go by for me without my brother; 10
Let the honorable leisure of an inactive life be my lot,
And may my mind neither fear nor desire anything;
May old age, without suffering, release me after long obscurity,
And may my two brothers gather the bones from my funeral pyre.
Phoebe, fave coeptis nil grande petentibus aut quod
A te transferri turba maligna velit.
Divitias averte; alios praetura sequatur
Optantes, alios gloria magna iuvet.
Hic praefectus agat classes alienaque castra 5
Laetus sollicita sedulitate regat,
Bis senos huius metuat provincia fasces;
Audiat hic plausus ter geminante manu.
Pauperis arva soli secura<que> carmina curem,
Nec sine fratre mihi transeat una dies. 10
Otia contingant pigrae non sordida vitae,
Nec timeat quidquam mens mea nec cupiat;
Ignotumque diu solvat non aegra senectus
Ossaque combusti frater uterque legat.
3 aveste cod.: averte Baehrens
4 gratia cod.: gloria Baehrens
5 profectus cod.: praefectus Baehrens
6 sollicitate roget cod.: sedulitate regat Baehrens
9 que add. Baehrens
10 me cod.: sine Baehrens
14 compositi cod.: combusti Baehrens
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
Sic Iuvat Vivere
A frugal lover of wealth, a despiser of seductive honors,Munari explains victor honorum (line 1) as contemptor, non avidus neque appetens magistratuum. With imparium...Pieridum (line 6) he compares Horace, Odes 3.19.13 Musas...imparis: the Muses are nine in number.
here I pursue my studies and leisure dear to the Muses,
I, Junius, acclaimed warbler of Ausonian song.
From here I take and enjoy whatever delights me:
the countryside, my house, gardens watered by natural springs, 5
and charming statues of the odd-numbered Muses.
Thus it is pleasing to live, and to extend my quiet old age,
reading the learned writings of men long dead.
Parcus amator opum, blandorum victor honorum
hic studia et Musis otia amica colo
Iunius Ausoniae notus testudinis ales,
quodque voluptati est, hinc capio atque fruor:
rura, domus, rigui genuinis fontibus horti 5
dulciaque imparium marmora Pieridum.
Vivere sic placidamque iuvat proferre senectam,
docta revolventem scripta virum veterum.
1 brandorum cod.: blandorum Munari
2 etiam cod.: otia Munari
Parcus amator opum (line 1) reminds me of Horace's parcus deorum cultor et infrequens, the first line of Odes 1.34 (parcus + nomen agentis + genitive plural), and vivere sic...iuvat (line 9) recalls Martial 12.18.26 (sic me vivere, sic iuvat perire).
Thanks to Karl Maurer for comments on my translation.
In simpler times it was taken for granted that inscriptions provided a peculiarly uncomplicated sort of evidence, bare facts not mediated by human art or bias. We have now come to realize that few facts are bare. We need to know what sort of monuments these dedications were inscribed on, where they were erected, by whom, and with what purpose.
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
The Meaning of Real Scholarship
I had by then read the greater part of Aristophanes, and I began to rave about it to Leo, and to wax eloquent on the magic of this poetry, the beauty of the choral odes, and so on and so forth. Leo let me have my say, perhaps ten minutes in all, without showing any sign of disapproval or impatience. When I was finished, he asked, "In which edition do you read Aristophanes?" I thought: has he not been listening? What has his question got to do with what I have been telling him? After a moment's ruffled hesitation I answered: "The Teubner". Leo: "Oh, you read Aristophanes without a critical apparatus." He said it quite calmly, without any sharpness, without a whiff of sarcasm, just sincerely taken aback that it was possible for a tolerably intelligent young man to do such a thing. I looked at the lawn nearby and had a single, overwhelming sensation: νῦν μοι χάνοι εὐρεῖα χθών. Later it seemed to me that in that moment I had understood the meaning of real scholarship.Robert Renehan, Greek Textual Criticism: A Reader (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1969), p. 135:
If I may add an autobiographical note, it seems to me that I have learned most from my practice of reading Greek (and Latin) texts with continual reference to the apparatus criticus. Whenever a variant or conjecture is recorded, I am in the habit of posing to myself the following queries: "Has the editor chosen the reading most likely to be correct? If so, why? If not, why not?"
Now, having unburdened my mind on this matter, I will recount briefly how I came to devote myself to the study of Oriental languages. I was originally destined to become an engineer; and therefore, partly because—at any rate sixteen years ago—the teaching of the "modern side" was still in a most rudimentary state, partly because I most eagerly desired emancipation from a life entirely uncongenial to me, I left school at the age of fifteen and a half, with little knowledge and less love of Latin and Greek. I have since then learned better to appreciate the value of these languages, and to regret the slenderness of my classical attainments. Yet the method according to which they are generally taught in English public schools is so unattractive, and, in my opinion, so inefficient, that had I been subjected to it much longer I should probably have come to loathe all foreign languages, and to shudder at the very sight of a grammar. It is a good thing for the student of a language to study its grammar when he has learned to read and understand it, just as it is a good thing for an artist to study the anatomy of the human body when he has learned to sketch a figure or catch the expression of a face; but for one to seek to obtain mastery over a language by learning rules of accidence and syntax is as though he should regard the dissecting-room as the single and sufficient portal of entrance to the Academy. How little a knowledge of grammar has to do with facility in the use of language is shown by the fact that comparatively few have studied the grammar of that language over which they have the greatest mastery, while amongst all the Latin and Greek scholars in this country those who could make an extempore speech, dash off an impromptu note, or carry on a sustained conversation in either language, are in a small minority.Hat tip: Ian Jackson.
Then, amongst other evil things connected with it, is the magnificent contempt for all non-English systems of pronunciation which the ordinary public-school system of teaching Latin and Greek encourages. Granted that the pronunciation of Greek is very different in the Athens of to-day from what it was in the time of Plato or Euripides, and that Cicero would not understand, or would understand with difficulty, the Latin of the Vatican, does it follow that both languages should be pronounced exactly like English, of all spoken tongues the most anomalous in pronunciation? What should we think of a Chinaman who, because he was convinced that the pronunciation of English in the fourteenth century differed widely from that of the nineteenth, deliberately elected to read Chaucer with the accent and intonation of Chinese? If Latin and Greek alone were concerned it would not so much matter, but the influence of this doctrine of pan-Anglican pronunciation too often extends to French and German as well. The spirit engendered by it is finely displayed in these two sayings which I remember to have heard repeated—"Anyone can understand English if they choose, provided you talk loud enough." "Always mistrust an Englishman who talks French like a Frenchman."
Apart from the general failure to invest the books read with any human, historical, or literary interest, or to treat them as expressions of the thoughts, feelings, and aspirations of our fellow-creatures instead of as grammatical tread-mills, there is another reason why the public-school system of teaching languages commonly fails to impart much useful knowledge of them. When any intelligent being who is a free agent wishes to obtain an efficient knowledge of a foreign language as quickly as possible, how does he proceed? He begins with an easy text, and first obtains the general sense of each sentence and the meaning of each particular word from his teacher. In default of a teacher, he falls back on the best available substitute, namely, a good translation and a dictionary. Looking out words in a dictionary is, however, mere waste of time, if their meaning can be ascertained in any other way; so that he will use this means only when compelled to do so. Having ascertained the meaning of each word, he will note it down either in the margin of the book or elsewhere, so that he may not have to ask it or look it out again. Then he will read the passage which he has thus studied over and over again, if possible aloud, so that tongue, ear, and mind may be simultaneously familiarised with the new instrument of thought and communication of which he desires to possess himself, until he perfectly understands the meaning without mentally translating it into English, and until the foreign words, no longer strange, evoke in his mind, not their English equivalents, but the ideas which they connote. This is the proper way to learn a language, and it is opposed at almost every point to the public-school method, which regards the use of "cribs" as a deadly sin, and substitutes parsing and construing for reading and understanding.
Notwithstanding all this, I am well aware that the advocates of this method have in their armoury another and a more potent argument. "A boy does not go to school," say they, "to learn Latin and Greek, but to learn to confront disagreeable duties with equanimity, and to do what is distasteful to him with cheerfulness." To this I have nothing to say; it is unanswerable and final. If boys are sent to school to learn what the word disagreeable means, and to realise that the most tedious monotony is perfectly compatible with the most acute misery, and that the most assiduous labour, if it be not wisely directed, does not necessarily secure the attainment of the object ostensibly aimed at, then, indeed, does the public school offer the surest means of attaining this end. The most wretched day of my life, except the day when I left college, was the day I went to school. During the earlier portion of my school life I believe that I nearly fathomed the possibilities of human misery and despair. I learned then (what I am thankful to say I have unlearned since) to be a pessimist, a misanthrope, and a cynic; and I have learned since, what I did not understand then, that to know by rote a quantity of grammatical rules is in itself not much more useful than to know how often each letter of the alphabet occurs in Paradise Lost, or how many separate stones went to the building of the Great Pyramid.