Thursday, February 26, 2015


Agrarian Man and Industrial Man

Ernest Gellner (1925-1995), Nations and Nationalism, 2nd ed. (Malden: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2006), p. 50:
Agrarian man can be compared with a natural species which can survive in the natural environment. Industrial man can be compared with an artificially produced or bred species which can no longer breathe effectively in the nature-given atmosphere, but can only function effectively and survive in a new, specially blended and artificially sustained air or medium. Hence he lives in specially bounded and constructed units, a kind of giant aquarium or breathing chamber.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


On Laziness

Bai Juyi (772-846), "On Laziness," tr. Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping:
When offices are open I'm too lazy to apply for office.
And though I have lands I'm too lazy to farm them.
My roof leaks but I'm too lazy to fix it
and I'm too lazy to patch my gown when it splits.
I'm too lazy to pour my wine into my cup;
it's like my cup is always empty.
I'm too lazy to play my lute;
it's as if it has no strings.
My family says the steamed rice is all eaten;
I want some but am too lazy to hull it.
I receive letters from relatives and friends
I want to read, but am too lazy to slit them open.
I heard about Qi Shuye
who spent all his life in laziness,
but he played the lute and smelted iron.
Compared with me, he isn't lazy at all!
Related posts:


Down with Everything Philological

Roberta Frank, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Philologist," Journal of English and Germanic Philology 96 (1997) 486-513 (at 487):
Depressed, we seem agreed on only one thing, that we are living in a bustling, brash, brazen present that does not quite know what to make of us. And never did. At the end of William L'Isle's "Preface" to A Saxon Treatise concerning the Old and New Testament (1623), a rather plaintive King Alfred looks down from heaven and laments that his countrymen can no longer be bothered to read his Old English writings or language: "That all should be lost, all forgot, all grow out of knowledge and remembrance," he mourns, "what negligence, what ingratitude is this?"4 Links untended snap, the lineaments of the past whirl away and vanish. "Down with antiquities," Bacon had written in 1620, "and citations or supporting evidence from texts; ... down with everything philological."5

4. "The Complaint of a Saxon King," par. 20 in "Preface" to A Saxon Treatise concerning the Old and New Testament. Written about ... (700 yeares agoe) by Aelfricus Abbas (London, 1623). The book was reissued with a different title page as Divers Ancient Monuments in the Saxon Tongue. Written seven hundred yeares agoe shewing that both in the Old and New Testament, the Lords Prayer and the Creede, were then used in the Mother Tongue ... (London, 1638). See Rosemund Tuve, "Ancients, Moderns, and Saxons," English Literary History, 6 (1939), 165-90.

5. Francis Bacon, Novum Organum, Parasceve ad historiam naturalem et experimentalem, aphorism 3; Works, ed. T. Fowler (London: Reeves, 1879), II, 505.



Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), Journal GH, p. [74] (August–September, 1847):
Patriotism is balderdash. Our side, our state, our town, is boyish enough. But it is true that every foot of soil has its proper quality, that the grape on either side of the same fence has its own flavor, and so every acre on the globe, every group of people, every point of climate has its own moral meaning whereof it is the symbol. For such a patriotism let us stand.
Related posts:

Saturday, February 21, 2015



Terence, Brothers 739-741 (tr. John Barsby):
Life is like a game of dice. If you don’t get the exact throw you want, you have to use your skill and make the best of the one you do get.

ita vitast hominum quasi quom ludas tesseris.
si illud quod maxume opus est iactu non cadit,
illud quod cecidit forte, id arte ut corrigas.


More Firmly Fixt to the Glebe

Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Branch Giles (April 27, 1795):
I shall be rendered very happy by the visit you promise me. The only thing wanting to make me completely so is a more frequent society with my friends. It is the more wanting as I am become more firmly fixt to the glebe. If you visit me as a farmer, it must be as a condisciple: for I am but a learner; an eager one indeed but yet desperate, being too old now to learn a new art. However I am as much delighted and occupied with it as if I was the greatest adept. I shall talk with you about it from morning till night, and put you on very short allowance as to political aliment. Now and then a pious speculation for the French and Dutch republicans, returning with due dispatch to clover, potatoes, wheat &c.


O Salutaris Hostia

Philip Caraman, C.C. Martindale: A Biography (London: Longmans, 1967), p. 99 (on teaching at Stonyhurst College):
After his first class he was appalled by the low standard of Jesuit teaching at the time. He found that his pupils could not scan ordinary Latin verse, whereas at Harrow, at the same age, they would have been set to write Greek epigrams, and quite possibly in dialect. But he was quick to see the potentialities of his small class. He tutored them individually and strove to make them think. Early on he set his class the Benediction hymn, O salutaris hostia, to render as an unseen. Two boys translated hostia as enemy, and half the rest thought that it meant one who invited guests. Already he reflected that sheer ignorance was at the root of many apostasies. Latin prayers were not understood, and consequently much of the services held no meaning for the boys.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

Friday, February 20, 2015



Lines quoted by Strabo 9.2.40, tr. Horace Leonard Jones in Strabo, Geography, Books 8-9 (1927; rpt. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001 = Loeb Classical Library, 196), p. 337:
Money is the most valuable thing to men, and it has the most power of all things among men.
The Greek (id., p. 336):
τὰ χρήματ᾿ ἀνθρώποισι τιμιώτατα,
δύναμίν τε πλείστην τῶν ἐν ἀνθρώποις ἔχει.
Strabo refers to this as a "common saying," but doesn't identify the source. Neither does Jones in his Loeb edition. The lines come from Euripides, Phoenician Women 439-440.


A Little-Known Latin Treatise

T.S. Eliot, letter to Bonamy Dobrée (April 17, 1931), in The Letters of T.S. Eliot, edd. Valerie Eliot and John Haffenden, Vol. 5: 1930-1931 (London: Faber & Faber, 2014), pp. 550-551:
The next talk is more difficult; it is easier to applaud Dryden in general than to make out a popular case for his Tragedy — but my method is to proceed from the simple to the complex, which was the method laid down by Johannes Procopius in his great work De Flatu, which begins 'All farts are in three dimensions' before proceeding to his elaborate theory of the time-space reality in flatulence, anticipating modern physics.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.



Zopyrus' Victims

Greek Anthology 11.124 (by Nicarchus; tr. W.R. Paton, with his notes):
A. Stranger, what dost thou seek to know? B. Who are here in earth under these tombs?
A. All those whom Zopyrus robbed of the sweet daylight,
Damis, Aristoteles, Demetrius, Arcesilaus,
Sostratus, and the next ones so far as Paraetonium.1
For with a wooden herald's staff and counterfeit sandals,2
like Hermes, he leads down his patients to Hell.

1 On the Egyptian coast a considerable distance west of Alexandria. The cemetery of Alexandria did not of course extend so far.
2 Attributes of Hermes Psychopompus; but there is some point here which eludes us.

α. ξεῖνε, τί μὰν πεύθῃ; β. τίνες ἐν χθονὶ τοῖσδ᾽ ὑπὸ τύμβοις;
    α. οὓς γλυκεροῦ φέγγους Ζώπυρος ἐστέρισεν,
Δᾶμις, Ἀριστοτέλης, Δημήτριος, Ἀρκεσίλαος,
    Σώστρατος, οἵ τ᾽ ὀπίσω μέχρι Παραιτονίου.
κηρύκιον γὰρ ἔχων ξύλινον, καὶ πλαστὰ πέδιλα,
    ὡς Ἑρμῆς, κατάγει τοὺς θεραπευομένους.
Zopyrus is of course a physician. The third line of the epigram is a hexameter consisting entirely of proper names in asyndeton. For similar lines see:

Thursday, February 19, 2015


Holes That Cannot Be Filled

Oliver Sacks, "My Own Life," New York Times (February 19, 2015):
There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.


A Cure for Dropsy

Thomas Gray, letter to William Mason (November, 1764):
Doctor Ridlington has been given over with a dropsy these ten weeks. He refused all tapping and scarifying, but obeyed other directions, till, finding all was over, he prescribed to himself a boiled chicken entire, and five quarts of small beer. After this he brought up great quantities of blood, the swelling and suffocation, and all signs of water disappeared, his spirits returned, and, except extreme weakness, he is recovered.


A Wish

Tacitus, Dialogue on Orators 13.5 (Curiatius Maternus speaking; tr. W. Peterson, rev. M. Winterbottom):
As for myself, may the 'sweet Muses,' as Virgil [Georgics 2.475-477] says, bear me away to their holy places where sacred streams do flow, beyond the reach of anxiety and care, and free from the obligation of performing each day some task that goes against the grain.

me vero dulces, ut Vergilius ait, Musae, remotum a sollicitudinibus et curis et necessitate cotidie aliquid contra animum faciendi, in illa sacra illosque fontes ferant.


A Played Out Field

Dorrit Hoffleit, Misfortunes as Blessings in Disguise: The Story of My Life (Cambridge: American Association of Variable Star Observers, 2002), p. 127 (on her brother Herbert Hoffleit):
My brother had always wanted to live to a ripe old age. As Harvard at commencement always honored the oldest graduate who came to reunion, Herbert hoped to be the one so honored—simply for old-age flexibility. Instead, his last year, at age 76, he spent in a wheel chair and with too diminished eyesight to continue reading. And nobody seemed to be able to read his classics with the proper accents, certainly not I when I last visited him. With all the promise of scholarship he showed as a young man, I am aware of hardly half a dozen publications by him; his last was one of the Loeb classical series, a translation with annotations of Plutarch's Moralia, Vol. 8, Books IV-VI. His colleagues and friends honored his memory at a heart warming service at UCLA soon after his death. I could not help but think that his apparent low productivity over the years depended upon the fact that he had specialized in a field that was largely played out; hardly anything new was left to write about, whereas mine was a rapidly developing field with something new for anyone of any ability. Classicists were there to keep alive a subject of great importance for the understanding of the correct usage of our own language, the use of whose parts of speech and grammar seem to be steadily deteriorating.
The entry on Herbert Hoffleit (by Mortimer Chambers) in Biographical Dictionary of North American Classicists, ed. Ward W. Briggs, Jr. (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1994), pp. 286-287, lists the following publications:
"An Un-Platonic Theory of Evil in Plato," AJP 58 (1937) 45-58; "A Latin Medical Manuscript," Studies Rand, 133-41; Epigrammata: Greek Inscriptions in Verse from the Beginnings to the Persian Wars, with Paul Friedländer (Berkeley & Los Angeles, 1948); Plutarch, Moralia Vol. VIII Table-Talk, Books IV-VI (trans.) (Books I-III by P.A. Clement), LCL (Cambridge & London, 1969).
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Small Improvements

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-1799), Sudelbücher K 140 (tr. J.P. Stern):
The pulling down of familiar institutions is a great evil, especially in politics, economics, and religion. To the planner novelty is agreeable, but those whom it affects generally find it very disagreeable. The former fails to consider that he has to do with people who should be guided imperceptibly and gently, and that in this way much more can be accomplished than by a transformation the value of which only future experience can show. (I wish people bore this in mind!) Do not let us amputate limbs which can still be healed, even though they may remain somewhat maimed; otherwise the patient might die during the operation. And do not let us hastily pull down a building which is a little inconvenient, lest in the end we find ourselves worse inconvenienced. Let us make small corrections.

Das Einreißen bei gewöhnlichen Anstalten ist ein großes Verderben, vorzüglich in der Politik, Ökonomie und Religion. Das Neue ist dem Projektmacher so angenehm, aber denen, die es betrifft, gemeiniglich sehr unangenehm. Der erste bedenkt dabei nicht, daß er es mit Menschen zu tun hat, die mit Güte unvermerkt geleitet sein wollen, und daß man dadurch sehr viel mehr ausrichtet, als mit einer Umschaffung, deren Wert denn doch erst durch die Erfahrung entschieden werden muß. Wenn man doch nur das letztere bedenken wollte! Man schneide die Glieder nicht ab, die man noch heilen kann, wenn sie auch gleich etwas verstümmelt bleiben; der Mensch könnte über der Operation sterben. Und man reiße nicht gleich ein Gebäude ein, das etwas unbequem ist, und stecke sich dadurch in größere Unbequemlichkeiten. Man mache kleine Verbesserungen.


The Cry of the Flesh

Epicurus, Sententiae Vaticanae 33 (tr. A.A. Long and D.N. Sedley):
The flesh's cry is not to be hungry or thirsty or cold. For one who is in these states and expects to remain so could rival even Zeus in happiness.

σαρκὸς φωνὴ τὸ μὴ πεινῆν, τὸ μὴ διψῆν, τὸ μὴ ῥιγοῦν. ταῦτα γὰρ ἔχων τις καὶ ἐλπίζων ἕξειν κἂν <Διὶ> ὑπὲρ εὐδαιμονίας μαχέσαιτο.
ταῦτα γὰρ ἔχων, having these things, i.e., food, drink, and a way to stay warm (fire, clothing, or shelter).


Classics Is Not a Subject

George Watson, Heresies and Heretics: Memories of the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: The Lutterworth Press, 2013), p. 166 (on Moses Finley):
His stance was unremittingly devastating. He was against dilettantism, textual criticism ('the textual-criticism racket') and amateur enthusiasms. Classics, he would often say, is not a subject. Ancient history is a job for historians, ancient philosophy for philosophers, ancient literature for those whose concerns are literary. Classics is not a subject. That was his mantra, his chosen heresy. I did not know him before he believed it, if there ever was a time. It is certain he never ceased to believe it. It was a view that left the humanistic views of the Victorians absolutely nowhere.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


As Good as a Hundred Thousand

Cicero, Brutus 51.191 (on Antimachus; tr. G.L. Hendrickson):
When reading that long and well-known poem of his before an assembled audience, in the very midst of his reading all his listeners left him but Plato: 'I shall go on reading,' he said, 'just the same; for me Plato alone is as good as a hundred thousand.'

cum convocatis auditoribus legeret eis magnum illud quod novistis volumen suum et eum legentem omnes praeter Platonem reliquissent: legam, inquit, nihilo minus; Plato enim mihi unus instar est centum milium.

centum milium Orelli, omnium me illum L
Related posts:


To Speak or To Be Silent

Isocrates 1.41 (tr. George Norlin):
Always when you are about to say anything, first weigh it in your mind; for with many the tongue outruns the thought. Let there be but two occasions for speech—when the subject is one which you thoroughly know and when it is one on which you are compelled to speak. On these occasions alone is speech better than silence; on all others, it is better to be silent than to speak.

πᾶν ὅ τι ἂν μέλλῃς ἐρεῖν, πρότερον ἐπισκόπει τῇ γνώμῃ· πολλοῖς γὰρ ἡ γλῶττα προτρέχει τῆς διανοίας. δύο ποιοῦ καιροὺς τοῦ λέγειν, ἢ περὶ ὧν οἶσθα σαφῶς, ἢ περὶ ὧν ἀναγκαῖον εἰπεῖν. ἐν τούτοις γὰρ μόνοις ὁ λόγος τῆς σιγῆς κρείττων, ἐν δὲ τοῖς ἄλλοις ἄμεινον σιγᾶν ἢ λέγειν.


A Well Known Fact?

Alan Cameron, Claudian: Poetry and Propaganda at the Court of Honorius (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970), p. 479:
It is well known that Nonnus contrived to avoid ending even one of his 20,000 odd hexameters with a proparoxytone word.

Monday, February 16, 2015


Open to Criticism and Praise

Thomas Gray, letter to Horace Walpole (February 14, 1768):
When you first commenced an author, you exposed yourself to pit, boxes, and gallery. Any coxcomb in the world may come in and hiss if he pleases; ay, and (what is almost as bad) clap too, and you cannot hinder him.


The Urge to Replace the Dead

Michael Oakeshott (1901-1990), Notebooks, 1922-86, ed. Luke O'Sullivan (Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2014), p. 528 (from Notebook 20 (April, 1967), entry 93):
Lampedusa records that the refugees in Palermo from the earthquake in Messina in 1908 were reported to be 'behaving most indecently' when they were billeted in the Palermo theatres, & his father remarking 'they felt the urge to replace the dead.'

I remember as a boy finding an account of the earthquake in a school library & reading that, after the shock had passed & the town lay in ruins, those who had escaped, even strangers, made love together on the hill side, & I remember thinking: how poetic a way to celebrate an escape from death.
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.

Sunday, February 15, 2015


The Sweetest Thing

The Instructions of King Cormac Mac Airt, ed. and tr. Kuno Meyer (Dublin: Hodges, Figgis, & Co., Ltd., 1909 = Royal Irish Academy, Todd Lecture Series, Vol. XV), p. 19 (§ 10):
'O grandson of Conn, O Cormac,' said Carbre, 'what do you deem the sweetest thing you have heard?'

'Not hard to tell,' said Cormac.
'A paean after victory,
Praise after wages,
A lady's invitation to her pillow.'


Let's Not Talk About That

Cicero, Brutus 3.11 (tr. G.L. Hendrickson):
Here Atticus broke in: "It was precisely our thought in coming, to avoid talk about public affairs."

tum Atticus: eo, inquit, ad te animo venimus, ut de re publica esset silentium.
Id. 42.157:
At this point Atticus interrupted: "I said in the beginning that we should not touch on politics. Let us keep to that."

hic Atticus: dixeram, inquit, a principio, de re publica ut sileremus; itaque faciamus.
Related post: An Indecency Among Intellectuals.


That Tiresome Dull Place

Thomas Gray, letter to Norton Nicholls (November 19, 1764):
I have been at London this month, that tiresome dull place! where all people under thirty find so much amusement.

Saturday, February 14, 2015



Ian Jackson, Valentines with Footnotes (Berkeley, 2014):
'There was a Lady loved a Swine...'1
        Remember that from childhood?
        and how (it seemed) he understood
when asked, 'Pig Hog wilt thou be mine?'
        Ask me that question too! I would
grunt, 'Hoogh, I'll be your Valentine!'2

1. See Iona and Peter Opie (editors), The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1951), pages 261-2, where the lines are presented as already familiar in the reign of James I:
There was a lady loved a swine,
        Honey, quoth she,
Pig-hog wilt thou be mine?
        Hoogh, quoth he.

I'll build thee a silver stye,
        Honey, quoth she,
And in it thou shalt lie.
        Hoogh, quoth he.

Pinned with a silver pin,
        Honey, quoth she,
That you may go out and in.
        Hoogh, quoth he.

Wilt thou have me now,
        Honey? quoth she.
Speak or my heart will break.
        Hoogh, quoth he.
2. Sarah [Churchill] used to accompany him [her father, Winston Churchill] on his walks round the estate [Chartwell]. He enjoyed scratching the pigs' backs. He said to her, 'Dogs look up to man. Cats look down on man. But pigs accept him as one of themselves.'
        — James Lee-Milne, diary entry for 19th November, 1972, as printed in A Mingled Measure: Diaries 1953-1972 (London, John Murray, 1994), p. 300.


Learned Divagations

C.J. Fordyce, "Infelix Dido," Classical Review 50 (1936) 226-227 (a review of Arthur Stanley Pease's commentary on the fourth book of Vergil's Aeneid; quotation from p. 226):
In these days when Wissenschaft runs riot we have resigned ourselves to the use of literature as a peg for learning, but the most hardened philomath will perhaps regret that the story which made Augustine weep and has moved the world ever since should in this ponderous volume have become the occasion for learned divagations on the habits of ants and the manufacture of purple, on ancient blondes and tigers and tattooing.
Related post: The Sauce and the Fish.

Friday, February 13, 2015


Hexameters Consisting of Words in Asyndeton: Dracontius

Quotations are from the edition of Dracontius' poems in F. Vollmer, ed., Poetae Latini Minores, Vol. V (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1914).

De Laudibus Dei 1.6-8 (construing noti as nominative plural of Notus, south wind; cf. Vergil, Aeneid 3.268 etc. for Noti = winds) :
sidera signa noti nix imber grando pruinae
fulmina nimbus hiems tonitrus lux flamma procellae
caelum terra iubar chaos axis flumina pontus
De Laudibus Dei 1.13-16:
paupertas mors vita salus opulentia languor
taedia tristitiae splendor compendia damnum
gaudia nobilitas virtus prudentia laudes
affectus maeror gemitus successus egestas
De Laudibus Dei 1.435:
spes opifex dominus rector dux arbiter index
De Laudibus Dei 1.527:
bucula rana sues formicae corvus hirundo
De Laudibus Dei 2.1:
inventor genitor nutritor rector amator
De Laudibus Dei 2.439:
taedia bella lues clades iactura labores
Romulea 5.35:
Sarmata Persa Gothus Alamannus Francus Alanus
Romulea 5.41:
moenia rostra forum capitolia templa penates
Romulea 7.72:
sollicitus, tabidus temerarius, anxius audax
Romulea 10.129:
affectus natura genus fons auctor origo
Romulea 10.142:
diligat optet amet cupiat suspiret anhelet
Romulea 10.405:
ursus cervus aper pantherae damma leones
Romulea 10.411 (construing inops as a noun):
dives pauper inops raptor pirata sacerdos
Romulea 10.571:
Impietas, Furiae, Luctus, Mors, Funera, Livor
Orestes 560:
affectus natura pudor reverentia fama
Orestes 775 (construing poli as vocative plural):
sol pietas elementa poli mare flumina tellus
Related posts:


Reaction to a Demonstration

Thomas Gray, letter to James Brown (April 1769):
At Bath House a page came in to his mistress, and said, he was afraid Lady Bath did not know what a disturbance there was below; she asked him if "the house was on fire?" he said "No; but the mob were forcing into the court:" she said "Is that all; well I will go and look at them:" and actually did so from some obscure window. When she was satisfied, she said, "When they are tired of bawling I suppose they will go home."


A Village Shopkeeper

John Brown (1810-1882), Horae Subsecivae. Second Series (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1884), pp. 16-18 (on his uncle, Robert Johnston, of Biggar, Lanarkshire):
A shopkeeper in that remote little town, he not only intermeddled fearlessly with all knowledge, but mastered more than many practised and University men do in their own lines. Mathematics, astronomy, and especially what may be called selenology, or the doctrine of the moon, and the higher geometry and physics; Hebrew, Sanscrit, Greek, and Latin, to the veriest rigours of prosody and metre; Spanish and Italian, German, French, and any odd language that came in his way; all these he knew more or less thoroughly, and acquired them in the most leisurely, easy, cool sort of a way, as if he grazed and browsed perpetually in the field of letters, rather than made formal meals, or gathered for any ulterior purpose, his fruits, his roots, and his nuts—he especially liked mental nuts—much less bought them from any one.

With all this, his knowledge of human, and especially of Biggar human nature, the ins and outs of its little secret ongoings, the entire gossip of the place, was like a woman's; moreover, every personage great or small, heroic or comic, in Homer—whose poems he made it a matter of conscience to read once every four years—Plautus, Suetonius, Plutarch, Tacitus, and Lucian, down through Boccaccio and Don Quixote, which he knew by heart and from the living Spanish, to Joseph Andrews, the Spectator, Goldsmith and Swift, Miss Austen, Miss Edgeworth, and Miss Ferrier, Gait and Sir Walter—he was as familiar with as with David Crockat the nailer, or the parish minister, the town-drummer, the mole-catcher, or the poaching weaver, who had the night before leistered a prime kipper at Radian Mill, by the flare of a tarry wisp, or brought home his surreptitious grey hen or maukin from the wilds of Dunsyre or the dreary Lang Whang.

This singular man came to the manse every Friday evening for many years, and he and my father discussed everything and everybody;—beginning with tough, strong head work—a bout at wrestling, be it Caesar's Bridge, the Epistles of Phalaris, the import of μέν and δέ, the Catholic question, or the great roots of Christian faith; ending with the latest joke in the town or the West Raw, the last effusion by Affleck, tailor and poet, the last blunder of Aesop the apothecary, and the last repartee of the village fool, with the week's Edinburgh and Glasgow news by their respective carriers; the whole little life, sad and humorous—who had been born, and who was dying or dead, married or about to be, for the past eight days.

Thursday, February 12, 2015


Lacunae in Verse Inscriptions

Sterling Dow (1903-1995), "Corinthiaca," Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 60 (1951) 81-100 (at 82):
If a lacuna is short, and if parts of the word or words to be filled in are preserved, and especially if the lacuna can be accurately measured, some certainty can be attained. But if as much as one whole substantive word is missing (more, I mean, than an obvious preposition, conjunction, or the like), restoration is equivalent to supposing that a modern scholar can possess such insight into the genius of the language, the spirit of the period, and the mind of the original author as to be able to compose verse identical with his. To say the least, such a supposition is difficult. I concede that erudition and sympathy can work marvels in the interpretation of texts transmitted without lacunae, and that "literary" emendations have occasionally been proved to be correct. But with this qualification fully admitted (and duly admired), the restoration of ancient verses, in the sense defined above, is a mere game; its results cannot be claimed as objective scholarship. Restorations of this kind have value, but only as illustrating what might have been written, as raising problems of usage and of grammar, and as proving that the readings and measurements given are not impossible. That is all.


No Hunting Sign

Thomas Gray (1716-1771), Greek inscription for a wood in a park, tr. LaRue van Hook, "New Light on the Classical Scholarship of Thomas Gray," American Journal of Philology 57 (1936) 1-9 (at 1):
Holding in awe this grove, with its beasts of the far-shooting Mistress,
    Leave, O Hunter, I pray, leave the dread goddess' demesne;
Only here resounds the baying of hounds of th' immortals,
    Answ'ring the Nymphs' shrill call, echoing throughout the wild.
The Greek:
Ἁζόμενος πολύθηρον ἑκηβόλου ἄλσος Ἀνάσσας,
    Τᾶς δεινᾶς τεμένη λεῖπε, κυναγέ, θεᾶς.
Μοῦνοι ἄρ᾿ ἔνθα κυνῶν ζαθέων κλαγγεῦσιν ὑλαγμοί,
    Ἀνταχεῖς Νυμφᾶν ἀγροτερᾶν κελάδῳ.
A more literal translation, by Barry Baldwin, "On Some Greek and Latin Poems by Thomas Gray," International Journal of the Classical Tradition 1 (1994) 71-88 (at 78):
In reverence, huntsman, leave the game-filled grove of the far-darting Queen, the sacred abode of the dread Goddess; for there only the bayings of the sacred hounds ring out, answering in echo the cry of the huntress Nymphs.
Hat tip: Karl Maurer.


The Educated Man

Arthur Stanley Pease, "From Solon to Stevenson," Phi Beta Kappa Key 4.8 (May, 1921) 454-461 (at 459):
I dislike, by the way, that term "educated man," for it seems to imply a finality and attainment suggestive of the finishing school and quite contrary, in the intellectual sphere, to the spirit of Solon, as it is in the moral realm to that of St. Paul. Let us say, then, the "learning" rather than the "educated" man.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Te Spirant Terrae

The beginning of line 7 (te spirant terrae) in the Hymn to the Moon (Anthologia Latina 723) puzzled me until I realized that it probably refers to the earth's exhalations, which flow upwards and nourish the heavenly bodies, as explained by T.L. Heath, Aristarchus of Samos, the Ancient Copernicus: A History of Greek Astronomy to Aristarchus... (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1913; rpt. 2013), p. 59 (paraphrasing the summary of Heraclitus' doctrines found in Diogenes Laertius 9.9-10; footnotes omitted):
There are two kinds of exhalations which arise from the earth and from the sea; the one kind is bright and pure, the other dark; night and day, the months, the seasons of the year, the years, the rains and the winds, &c., are all produced by the variations in the proportion between the two exhalations. In the heavens are certain basins or bowls (σκάφαι) turned with their concave sides towards us, which collect the bright exhalations or vaporizations, producing flames; these are the stars. The sun and the moon are bowl-shaped, like the stars, and they are similarly lit up.
The idea gained wider currency, as the following passages show.

Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods 2.33.83 (tr. H. Rackham):
Her [the earth's] exhalations moreover give nourishment to the air, the ether, and all the heavenly bodies.

eiusdemque exspirationibus et aer alitur et aether et omnia supera.
Seneca, Natural Questions 2.6.1 (tr. Thomas H. Corcoran):
On the other hand, it [the aer or atmosphere] receives whatever the earth sends for the nourishment of the heavenly bodies.

sed tamen, quicquid terra in alimentum caelestium misit, recipit.
See also Plutarch, Concerning the Face Which Appears in the Orb of the Moon 25 = Moralia 938 F (tr. Harold Cherniss and William C. Helmbold), who says that the moon "digests the exhalations from the earth."

The words from the Hymn to the Moon, therefore, mean something like "The lands nourish you with their exhalations," or so I think.

The end of line 7 also puzzles me: tu vinclis Tartara cingis. The only explanation that occurs to me is a bit far-fetched:
  1. One of Hercules' labors was the capture of Cerberus from the underworld.
  2. In the course of capturing Cerberus, Hercules put the hound in chains.
  3. Hercules performed this and his other labors at Juno's command.
  4. Juno is identified with the moon (Hymn to the Moon, line 9).
See Seneca, Hercules Furens 57-63 (Juno speaking; tr. John G. Fitch; emphasis added):
But he [Hercules], in his arrogance at having smashed the prison of the ghostly dead, is celebrating his triumph over me, and highhandedly parading the black hound through Argive cities. I saw the daylight faltering at the sight of Cerberus, and the Sun afraid; I too was seized with trembling, and as I gazed at the triple necks of the defeated monster, I shuddered at what I had ordered.

at ille, rupto carcere umbrarum ferox,
de me triumphat et superbifica manu
atrum per urbes ducit Argolicas canem.
viso labantem Cerbero vidi diem
pavidumque Solem; me quoque invasit tremor,
et terna monstri colla devicti intuens
timui imperasse.
Id., 596-597 (Hercules speaking; emphasis added):
I brought earth's hidden things into the light under orders.

iussus in lucem extuli
arcana mundi.
If it is argued that Juno's command or will cannot be identified with Hercules' act, cf. the explicit identification at Hercules Furens 1296-1297 (after Hercules slays his own son; Hercules and his human father Amphitryon are speaking):
HERC. See, by this arrow, my boy fell slain.
AMPH. This arrow was fired by Juno, using your hands.

HERC. hoc en peremptus spiculo cecidit puer.
AMPH. hoc Iuno telum manibus emisit tuis.
In support of this interpretation see another Hymn to the Moon in Karl Preisendanz, ed., Papyri Graecae Magicae, Vol. I (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1928), p. 164 (IV.2863): Κέρβερον ἐν δεϲμοῖϲιν ἔχειϲ, i.e. "You keep Cerberus in chains." There is a translation of the entire hymn in Hans Dieter Betz, ed., The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation, Including the Demotic Spells, 2nd ed., Vol. I: Texts (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992; paperback 1996), pp. 90-92.

There may be a simpler explanation of the words tu vinclis Tartara cingis in the Hymn to the Moon, but if there is, it escapes me. Equally far-fetched would be a reference to the capture of Set/Typhon by Isis' son Horus, mentioned by Plutarch, Isis and Osiris 19 = Moralia 358 D (tr. Frank Cole Babbitt):
Now the battle, as they relate, lasted many days and Horus prevailed. Isis, however, to whom Typhon was delivered in chains, did not cause him to be put to death, but released him and let him go.
In some accounts Typhon was imprisoned in Tartarus.


Most Men

Isocrates 2.45 (tr. George Norlin):
For if we are willing to survey human nature as a whole, we shall find that the majority of men do not take pleasure in the food that is the most wholesome, nor in the pursuits that are the most honorable, nor in the actions that are the noblest, nor in the creatures that are the most useful, but that they have tastes which are in every way contrary to their best interests, while they view those who have some regard for their duty as men of austere and laborious lives.

ὅλως γὰρ εἰ 'θέλοιμεν σκοπεῖν τὰς φύσεις τὰς τῶν ἀνθρώπων, εὑρήσομεν τοὺς πολλοὺς αὐτῶν οὔτε τῶν σιτίων χαίροντας τοῖς ὑγιεινοτάτοις οὔτε τῶν ἐπιτηδευμάτων τοῖς καλλίστοις οὔτε τῶν πραγμάτων τοῖς βελτίστοις οὔτε τῶν θρεμμάτων τοῖς ὠφελιμωτάτοις, ἀλλὰ παντάπασιν ἐναντίας τῷ συμφέροντι τὰς ἡδονὰς ἔχοντας, καὶ δοκοῦντας καρτερικοὺς καὶ φιλοπόνους εἶναι τοὺς τῶν δεόντων τι ποιοῦντας.
Id., 2.46:
[I]t irks them to take account of their own business and it delights them to discuss the business of others.

λυποῦνται μὲν περὶ τῶν ἰδίων λογιζόμενοι, χαίρουσι δὲ περὶ τῶν ἀλλοτρίων διαλεγόμενοι.
Id., 2.47:
Observe them when they are in each other's company, and you will find them giving and taking abuse; observe them when they are by themselves, and you will find them occupied, not with plans, but with idle dreams.

εὕροι δ' ἄν τις αὐτοὺς ἐν μὲν ταῖς πρὸς ἀλλήλους συνουσίαις ἢ λοιδοροῦντας ἢ λοιδορουμένους, ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἐρημίαις οὐ βουλευομένους ἀλλ' εὐχομένους.


Medical School

John Brown (1810-1882), Horae Subsecivae. Second Series (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1884), p. 400:
If our young medical student would take our advice, and for an hour or two twice a week take up a volume of Shakspere, Cervantes, Milton, Dryden, Pope, Cowper, Montaigne, Addison, Defoe, Goldsmith, Fielding, Scott, Charles Lamb, Macaulay, Jeffrey, Sydney Smith, Helps, Thackeray, etc., not to mention authors on deeper and more sacred subjects—they would have happier and healthier minds, and make none the worse doctors. If they, by good fortune—for the tide has set in strong against the literae humaniores—have come off with some Greek or Latin, we would supplicate for an ode of Horace, a couple of pages of Cicero or of Pliny once a month, and a page of Xenophon. French and German should be mastered either before or during the first years of study. They will never afterwards be acquired so easily or so thoroughly, and the want of them may be bitterly felt when too late.


Hic, Haec, Hoc

Richard Graves (1715-1804), The Spiritual Quixote: Or, The Summer's Ramble of Mr. Geoffry Wildgoose. A Comic Romance, Vol. II (London: Peter Davies, 1926), pp. 137-139:
Mr. Selkirk (as we have already observed) was the schoolmaster of the village. He had formerly been a travelling Scotchman; but marrying a farmer's daughter with four or five hundred pounds, had opened a shop, and set up a little school, and professed to teach not only reading, writing, and accompts, but Latin and Greek, algebra, logarithms, and trigonometry, and all the most abstruse parts of the mathematics. He had really had the rudiments of a learned education, and was intended for the university, and some learned profession; but, being of a rambling disposition, like many of his ingenious countrymen, chose to travel southwards, and carry a pack for his amusement, as he would sometimes humorously confess.

Mr. Slicer then informed the company of Selkirk's excellent plan of education; that, instead of the rigid severity of the usual method in our public schools, he taught his boys all the rudiments of the Latin tongue, amidst their childish sports, by way of diversion.—'What, in Locke's method, I suppose?' says Wildgoose.—'What, Johnny Loke? No,' says Selkirk, 'I hope I have improved upon Johnny Loke, and Milton too.'—'In what manner, sir?' says Wildgoose.—'Here, Jockey,' replies Selkirk, 'let the gentlemen see you decline the pronoun article, hic, haec, hoc.'—Master Jacky immediately began hopping round the room, repeating hic, haec, hoc; gen. hujus; dat. huic; acc. hunc, hanc, hoc; voc. caret; abl. hoc, hac, hoc. &c.

'There now,' says Selkirk, 'in this manner I teach them the whole grammar. I make eight boys represent the eight parts of speech. The noun substantive stands by himself; the adjective has another boy to support him; the nominative case carries a little wand before the verb; the accusative case walks after, and supports his train: I let the four conjugations make a party at whist, and the three concords dance the hay together, and so on.'

The company laughed at Selkirk's project; but the little fat doctor, who had been bred at a public school, observed, that it was very pretty in theory, and so was Milton's and Locke's method, and might please fond mothers; but, he imagined, the great men in Queen Elizabeth's time had studied this affair more deeply than has been ever done since; yet they thought some coercive power in the teacher was very necessary; and, if boys were suffered to lay by the pursuit of dead languages as soon as it ceased to be agreeable to them, he was of opinion they would make but a very slender progress in Greek and Latin.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


Seventeen Hours a Day

Francis Adams (1796-1861), quoted by John Brown, Horae Subsecivae. First Series (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1885), p. 269:
As far as I can think, my classical bent was owing to a friendship which I formed, when about fifteen years old, with a young man a few years older than myself, who had enjoyed the benefits of an excellent education at Montrose, which gave him a superiority over myself that roused me to emulation.

In my early years I had been shamefully mistaught. I began by devoting seventeen hours a day to the study of Virgil and Horace, and it will be readily believed that such intense application soon made up for any early deficiencies.

I read each of these six or seven times in succession. Having mastered the difficulties of Latin literature, I naturally turned my attention to Greek as being the prototype of the other.

It was the late Dr. Kerr of Aberdeen who drew my attention to the Greek literature of medicine, and at his death I purchased a pretty fair collection of the Greek medical authors which he had made. However, I have also read almost every Greek work which has come down to us from antiquity, with the exception of the ecclesiastical writers; all the poets, historians, philosophers, orators, writers of science, novelists, and so forth. My ambition always was to combine extensive knowledge of my profession with extensive erudition.


Tuft-Hunting in Antiquity

[Theodore Alois William Buckley (1825-1856),] The Natural History of Tuft-Hunters and Toadies (London: D. Bogue, 1848), pp. 94-95:
But those persons who read the classics for amusement must be well aware of the antiquity of humbug of every kind. Jupiter was decidedly an old humbug, or he would never have witnessed the Greeks and Trojans fighting for ten years about nothing, like dogs contending for a marrow-bone. Yet Jupiter and his court had their Tuft-hunters;—there was the light-fingered skipjack Mercury, ever ready to fetch and carry from one to another, a kind of winged Parcels Delivery agent, and ready to "cut" his friend Prometheus for quarrelling with the great Tuft, Jupiter. There was Momus, too, a kind of paid, privileged, pun-possessed Tuft-hunter, who sharpened his appetite by making dull jokes, and then retailed them in order to satisfy it. There was Bacchus, a licensed dealer in liquors "to be drunk on the premises," and in cigars of every variety. Notwithstanding his low calling, he was in great request among the drinking and swearing Tufts, and was asked out to "wines" very frequently, on account of his prodigious talents in mixing punch and smoking "weeds." His wife, Libera, so called from her "free-and-easy" manner towards customers, was a smart, dashing little body, with a bunch of keys at her girdle, and a head-dress of grapes. The Tufts, gents, and other anomalous deities, were extremely partial to the "house," but the irregular conduct of the company who frequented it, was scandalous even in Olympus.
Id., p. 100:
Apologising for this digression, we must observe that Tuft-hunting was by no means confined to the gods of the ancients. The poets were fair specimens. Pindar, for instance, (a lineal ancestor of the great Peter,) wrote ballads, like Noisy Jack, upon the winning horses or pet boxers of his aristocratic friends, and, although a water-drinking gentleman by principle, was a fast man in practice, and lived "upon town" in Sicily with great success.
I like the illustrations of H.G. Hine (1811-1895) in this book, especially the following (p. 111):


Love of Knowledge

Isocrates 1.19 (tr. George Norlin):
If you love knowledge, you will be a master of knowledge. What you have come to know, preserve by exercise; what you have not learned, seek to add to your knowledge; for it is as reprehensible to hear a profitable saying and not grasp it as to be offered a good gift by one's friends and not accept it. Spend your leisure time in cultivating an ear attentive to discourse, for in this way you will find that you learn with ease what others have found out with difficulty. Believe that many precepts are better than much wealth; for wealth quickly fails us, but precepts abide through all time; for wisdom alone of all possessions is imperishable. Do not hesitate to travel a long road to those who profess to offer some useful instruction; for it were a shame, when merchants cross vast seas in order to increase their store of wealth, that the young should not endure even journeys by land to improve their understanding.

ἐὰν ᾖς φιλομαθής, ἔσει πολυμαθής. ἃ μὲν ἐπίστασαι, ταῦτα διαφύλαττε ταῖς μελέταις, ἃ δὲ μὴ μεμάθηκας, προσλάμβανε ταῖς ἐπιστήμαις· ὁμοίως γὰρ αἰσχρὸν ἀκούσαντα χρήσιμον λόγον μὴ μαθεῖν καὶ διδόμενόν τι ἀγαθὸν παρὰ τῶν φίλων μὴ λαβεῖν. κατανάλισκε τὴν ἐν τῷ βίῳ σχολὴν εἰς τὴν τῶν λόγων φιληκοΐαν· οὕτω γὰρ τὰ τοῖς ἄλλοις χαλεπῶς εὑρημένα συμβήσεταί σοι ῥᾳδίως μανθάνειν. ἡγοῦ τῶν ἀκουσμάτων πολλὰ πολλῶν εἶναι χρημάτων κρείττω· τὰ μὲν γὰρ ταχέως ἀπολείπει, τὰ δὲ πάντα τὸν χρόνον παραμένει· σοφία γὰρ μόνον τῶν κτημάτων ἀθάνατον. μὴ κατόκνει μακρὰν ὁδὸν πορεύεσθαι πρὸς τοὺς διδάσκειν τι χρήσιμον ἐπαγγελλομένους· αἰσχρὸν γὰρ τοὺς μὲν ἐμπόρους τηλικαῦτα πελάγη διαπερᾶν ἕνεκα τοῦ πλείω ποιῆσαι τὴν ὑπάρχουσαν οὐσίαν, τοὺς δὲ νεωτέρους μηδὲ τὰς κατὰ γῆν πορείας ὑπομένειν ἐπὶ τῷ βελτίω καταστῆσαι τὴν αὑτῶν διάνοιαν.

Monday, February 09, 2015


Difficulty of Ascertaining Historical Truth

Tacitus, Annals 3.19 (tr. John Jackson):
So true it is that the great event is an obscure event: one school admits all hearsay evidence, whatever its character, as indisputable; another perverts the truth into its contrary; and, in each case, posterity magnifies the error.

adeo maxima quaeque ambigua sunt, dum alii quoquo modo audita pro compertis habent, alii vera in contrarium vertunt et gliscit utrumque posteritate.


Gomen, Gomen

Kazuo Koizumi, Father and I: Memories of Lafcadio Hearn (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1935), pp. 202-203 (brackets in original):
One day, from the next lot we heard many men's voices and sounds of saws and chopping. When we looked out, we saw the fine trees swaying and branch after branch was cut off. Away up high was a man with a rope tied around his waist, working like a monkey. Seeing this going on, father was surprised. When the Kobudera trees were being cut down, father felt so bad that it hurt him as if they were cutting off his own hands and feet, and now to have to witness another miserable sight seemed as if opening up the wound again. 'Isn't there some means of saving the old trees on the lot next door?' We went at once to an old man who had lived for a long time in the neighbourhood and asked him to negotiate; but it was too late, all the old trees had been sold, so he couldn't break the contract now. There were so many that they could not be transplanted then. 'Can't you buy the land and take over the whole thing?' it was proposed. This place had five or six houses for rent, besides the trees, and if the part where the trees grew were bought it would leave only a long strip of land, so one would have to buy the houses also. Father had not the means to take them over. The trees towered up high in the sky; some were as old as two or three hundred years and the youngest ones were at least fifty years or more. 'I would like to save you, but I can't! Gomen, gomen [pardon, pardon]. I am a miserable man — too poor — I can't save you — gomen, gomen.' He could not stand hearing the chopping and sawing going on, so he stayed away from home longer than usual on his walks.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.


Sunday, February 08, 2015


Nobody Actually Knows Anything

Don DeLillo, White Noise:
"We think we’re so great and modern. Moon landings, artificial hearts. But what if you were hurled into a time warp and came face to face with the ancient Greeks. The Greeks invented trigonometry. They did autopsies and dissections. What could you tell an ancient Greek that he couldn't say, 'Big Deal.' Could you tell him about the atom? Atom is a Greek word. The Greeks knew that the major events in the universe can't be seen by the eye of man. It's waves, it's rays, it's particles."

"We're doing all right."

"We're sitting in this huge moldy room. It's like we’re flung back."

"We have heat, we have light."

"These are Stone Age things. They had heat and light. They had fire. They rubbed flints together and made sparks. Could you rub flints together? Would you know a flint if you saw one? If a Stone Ager asked you what a nucleotide is, could you tell him? How do we make carbon paper? What is glass? If you came awake tomorrow in the Middle Ages and there was an epidemic raging, what could you do to stop it, knowing what you know about the progress of medicines and diseases? Here it is practically the twenty-first century and you've read hundreds of books and magazines and seen a hundred TV shows about science and medicine. Could you tell those people one little crucial thing that might save a million and a half lives?"

"'Boil your water,' I'd tell them."

"Sure. What about 'Wash behind your ears.' That’s about as good."

"I still think we're doing fairly well. There was no warning. We have food, we have radios."

"What is a radio? What is the principle of a radio? Go ahead, explain. You're sitting in the middle of this circle of people. They use pebble tools. They eat grubs. Explain a radio."

"There's no mystery. Powerful transmitters send signals. They travel through the air, to be picked up by receivers."

"They travel through the air. What, like birds? Why not tell them magic? They travel through the air in magic waves. What is a nucleotide? You don’t know, do you? Yet these are the building blocks of life. What good is knowledge if it just floats in the air? It goes from computer to computer. It changes and grows every second of every day. But nobody actually knows anything."
Hat tip: Jim K. I haven't read the book.


Government Handouts

Tacitus, Annals 2.38 (speech of Tiberius; tr. John Jackson):
If all the poor of the earth begin coming here and soliciting money for their children, we shall never satisfy individuals, but we shall exhaust the state....Otherwise, if a man is to have nothing to hope or fear from himself, industry will languish, indolence thrive, and we shall have the whole population waiting, without a care in the world, for outside relief, incompetent to help itself, and an incubus to us.

si quantum pauperum est venire huc et liberis suis petere pecunias coeperint, singuli numquam exsatiabuntur, res publica deficiet....languescet alioqui industria, intendetur socordia, si nullus ex se metus aut spes, et securi omnes aliena subsidia expectabunt, sibi ignavi, nobis graves.

Saturday, February 07, 2015


A Hymn to the Moon

I've been reading Alan Cameron, Claudian: Poetry and Propaganda at the Court of Honorius (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970). On pp. 202-203, in chapter VIII ("The Pagan at a Christian Court"), Cameron discusses a hymn to the moon in the Latin Anthology (number 723 Riese). Following Eduard Norden, Die Geburt des Kindes: Geschichte einer religiösen Idee (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1924), p. 25, n. 3, Cameron suggests that Claudian may have written the hymn, which is preserved in Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Latin 4841 (formerly Regius 5960, formerly Colbertinus 3603; 10th century), folio 92 verso.

Here is an image of the text and apparatus from Anthologia Latina sive Poesis Latinae Supplementum, Pars I: Carmina in Codicibus Scripta, Fasc. II: Reliquorum Librorum Carmina, ed. Alexander Riese, 2nd ed. (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1906), pp. 207-208 (stitched together by me so as to exclude extraneous matter):

There is a strikingly different version in The Oxford Book of Latin Verse, ed. H.W. Garrod (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1912), pp. 361-362 (number 309):

I assume that many of the differences are due to Garrod's own emendations. See op. cit., p. viii:
I have spent a good deal of labour on the revision of texts: and I hope that of some poems, particularly the less known poems, this book may be found to offer a purer recension than is available elsewhere.
On Garrod's radical restoration of lines 8-11, see his "Notes on the Poetae Latini Minores," Journal of Philology 32 (1913) 72-78 (at 74-75), where he says (p. 75):
The Moon has seven appellations: and in each month its light fails for seven days, and is renewed again for seven days, turn and turn about (alternis). In other words, the seven names of the moon correspond to the number of days in which it alternately, in its last and first, and, again, in its second and third, quarters, waxes and wanes.
Finally, here is another version of the hymn, from Poetae Latini Minores, ed. Emil Baehrens, vol. III (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1881), pp. 163-164:

More conjectural emendations can be found in:
Shackleton Bailey's new Teubner edition of Anthologia Latina is unavailable to me. I don't have access to J.B. Hall's Teubner edition of Claudian either. [Michael Hendry writes, "I thought you'd like to know that the possibly Claudian poem 'Luna decus mundi' is neither in Hall's Teubner Claudian (not even in the Appendix of Spuria and Suspecta) nor in Shackleton Bailey's Teubner Anthologia Latina. The latter says "I 1" on the cover, but I don't believe he ever did a second volume. In any case, the highest Riese number in the concordance of numeration of the volume I have is 480."]

I'm not confident enough about my knowledge of astronomy to attempt a translation of this interesting poem. An edition, translation, and commentary might make a good subject for a master's thesis. Here are transcriptions of the texts.

Riese's text:
Luna decus mundi, magni pars maxima caeli,
Luna iugum Solis, splendor vagus, ignis et humor,
Luna parens mensum numerosa prole renascens!
Tu biiugos stellante polo sub Sole gubernas,
Te redeunte dies fraternas colligit horas,        5
Te pater Oceanus renovato respicit axe,
Te spirant terrae, tu vinclis Tartara cingis,
Tu sistro renovas brumam, tu cymbala quassas,
Isis, Luna, +Choris, Caelestis Iuno, Cybebe!
Alternis tu nomen agis sub mense diebus        10
Et rursum renovas alterni lumina mensis.
Tunc minor es, cum plena venis; tunc plena resurgens,
Cum minor es: crescis semper, cum deficis orbe.
Huc ades et nostris precibus dea blandior esto
Luciferisque iugis concordes siste iuvencas,        15
Vt volvat Fortuna rotam, qua prospera currant.
Garrod's text (line numbers added):
Luna decus mundi, magni pars maxima caeli,
Luna, uagus noctis splendor, quam signa secuntur,
Luna parens mensum numerosa prole renascens:
tu biiugos stellante polos ab Sole gubernas,
te redeunte dies fraternus colligit horas;        5
te pater Oceanus renouato respicit amne,
te spirant terrae, tu uinclis Tartara cingis;
tu sistro resonas, Brimo, tu cymbala quassas;
Isis Luna Core, uel Vesta es Iuno Cybelle.
septenis tu lumine eges sub mense diebus        10
et rursum renouas alternans lumina mensis.
tunc minor es, cum plena uenis; tunc plena resurgens,
cum minor es: crescis semper, cum deficis orbe.
huc ades et nostris precibus dea blandior esto
Luciferique iugis concordis siste iuuencas,        15
ut uoluat fortuna rotam, qua prospera currant.
Baehrens' text:
Luna decus mundi, magni pars maxima caeli,
Luna iugus Solis splendor, tuus ignis et humor,
Luna parens mensum numerosa prole renascens:
Tu biiugo stellante polos ab Sole gubernas,
Te redeunte dies fratermus colligit horas;        5
Te pater Oceanus remouato respicit amne,
Te spirant terrae, tu uinclis Tartara cingis;
Tu sistro renouas brumam, tu cymbala quassas;
Isis, Luna, Cora esque Ceres tu, Iuno, Cybelle!
Alternis tu nomen agis sub mense diebus        10
Et rursum renouas alterni lumina mensis.
Tunc minor es, cum plena uenis; tunc plena resurgens,
Cum minor es: crescis semper, cum deficis orbe.
Huc ades et nostris precibus dea blandior esto
Luciferisque iugis concordes siste iuuencas,        15
Ut uoluat fortuna rotam, qua prospera currant.

Friday, February 06, 2015


Back to Books, Away from Men

H.W. Garrod (1878-1960), "In an Oxford Library, 1919," Worms and Epitaphs (Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1919), pp. 18-19:
God! it's good to get again
Back to books, away from men!
Like breath of kine or scent of sea,
Books, your air blows up to me.
Sick from the smell of politics,
With the smell of books to mix—
Is there any other smell
That's one half so comfortable?
Here for the rest of time I'll sit
And read, and never tire of it,
And never die—'tis doing things
Has laid in earth these many kings.
If they had sat and read and read
And marked and learned, they'd not be dead.
If here and there a king or two,
Instead of having things to do,
Read books, he did not read enough,
Or did not read the proper stuff.
He should have read from morn till night
And pledged his crown for candle-light.
Instead of conning on his throne
Tales of men to greatness grown,
He should have sat upon the ground
And read tales of kings discrowned,
And have made his memory sad
With the women kings have had—
The child of Leda, and the child
Of renowned Athanagild;
Rosamund that wont to sup
From her father's skull for cup;
Irene that with irons hot
Blinded the son herself begot;
And Catherine that fixed the cord,
Or mixed the cup, that killed her lord.
If these and other likely things
Had been the reading set to kings,
O, you would not be where you are,
Kaiser nor Constantine nor Tsar:
There never would have been a war,
Nor I have quit my books to hive
Four years with men that cry and strive.
God! it's good to get again
Back to books, away from men!

Thursday, February 05, 2015


Hints from a Pedantic Rusty Scholar

Henry Montagu Butler, letter to his sister Emily (November 6, 1859), quoted in Edward Graham, The Harrow Life of Henry Montagu Butler (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1920), pp. 81-82:
Will you suffer a few hints from a pedantic rusty scholar on a language of which he knows nothing? In reading Dante with others, do all agree to be most conscientiously exact in ascertaining the full meaning of every word and phrase. This is all honest labour, and gives a freshness as well as a firmness to all knowledge. Do not be in too great a hurry to luxuriate in the thought or the music. If there is a divinity in them, it will come out by patient plodding at the language, and not otherwise. Never pass a word, the full force of which you have not penetrated or tried 'painfully' to penetrate. This is what I try by every art and cajolery in my power to din into my lecturees here: and I know that all who follow the prosy advice come at last to believe in it. Genius by all means if you have it. There is nothing like or second to it. But whether you have it or not, accuracy, and by all means accuracy. If any man ever deserved this closest anatomy, it is Dante. Anyone who knows the language of Dante well must, I am satisfied, have almost all Italian at command. A little idolatry paid to grammar and dictionary leads to a nobler worship hereafter.


Richard Shilleto (1809-1876)

W.E. Heitland (1847-1935), After Many Years: A Tale of Experiences & Impressions Gathered in the Course of an Obscure Life (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1926; rpt. 2013), pp. 129-130:
But I had some coaching, one Term indeed with Shilleto, at that time the leading Classical teacher.

It may be not wholly uninteresting to describe the proceedings at No 1 Scrope Terrace, for it may safely be said that we shall not see you their like again. My experience was perhaps somewhat abnormally grotesque, for I could only get an evening hour, the last of his long laborious day. For many years he had led a most exhausting life, coaching single pupils from 9 am to 8 or 9 pm, with short intervals for meals. His habits had told upon an originally tough constitution, and he looked older than his real age. He did not smoke, but took snuff freely. Several snuff-boxes were about the room, presents from old pupils, but he could never lay his hand on them when wanted, so generally drew his pinch from a large tinfoil packet that stood in the middle of the table. On each such occasion, he needed a handkerchief and that speedily. It was somewhere on the floor, among the books with which the whole room was littered. In the search for it he was apt to catch his foot in a book and sneeze prematurely; I have known him get an awkward fall in the attempt. Found and used, the handkerchief was dropped on the floor again in the line of traffic as he wandered to and fro. It was understood that during the day he drank a quantity of tea: at night, when I saw him, a pint pot of beer stood handy on a pedestal. When it was low ebb in this vessel, he placed it in a pigeon-hole close to the door, and rang the bell. Soon a stealthy hand withdrew it and put it back refilled. So much liquid refreshment entailed other embarrassing phenomena. Among these various doings the work went on. Criticism of an exercise consisted chiefly in telling you what you had done wrong and what you had better have written; that is what would have been sound Latin or Greek according to the usages of the language (particularly Greek) recognized by scholars. He spoke with authority, and the outpouring of references (by chapter section or line), without opening a book, simply took your breath away. If you turned them out afterwards, lo they were correct. Truly an astounding feat of memory. In his own kind he was unrivalled, and other teachers bowed before the first scholar in England. But whether it would have been well to enjoy a great deal of this instruction may be doubted.
Oscar Browning (1837-1923), Memories of Sixty Years at Eton, Cambridge, and Elsewhere (London: John Lane, 1910), p. 43:
In October, 1858, Richard Claverhouse Jebb came up to Cambridge, a purely Celtic genius, like a flame of fire....He was a marvellous scholar, in some respects the best that our country has ever produced. His faculty lay in a perfect manipulation of the Greek, Latin and English languages, so that he could turn any English into faultless Greek or Latin, and any Latin or Greek into eloquent and forcible English. In these exploits Monro stands near him, but does not surpass him. It is said that when he took his first Latin verses to Shilleto, the great coach reluctantly admitted that Jebb could write Latin verses, but he wished to see his prose. When the prose arrived, equally good, he said, "He can write Latin, but let us see his Greek." When Jebb's Greek came, still better than the Latin, Shilleto knew not what to say, but he never praised him, he preferred pupils whose faults he was able to correct.
Hat tip: Eric Thomson, who adds, "These magic pigeon-holes should be installed in every home. And where should a pint pot of foaming ale better rest than on a pedestal?"

Wednesday, February 04, 2015


Then and Now

Kamo no Chōmei (1155–1216), "Record of the Ten-Foot-Square Hut," tr. Burton Watson in Four Huts: Asian Writings on the Simple Life (Boston: Shambhala, 2002), pp. 47-77 (at 55):
I have heard it said that the sage rulers of antiquity governed the nation with compassion. Their palaces were roofed with mere thatch, left untrimmed at the eaves, and when they saw that little smoke rose from the cooking fires of the people, they excused them from even the light tribute that was ordinarily required. All this they did because they pitied the people and wished to ease their lot. We have only to compare such ways with those in use today to see the difference.
The same, tr. A.L. Sadler in The Ten Foot Square Hut and Tales of the Heike (1928; rpt. North Clarendon: Tuttle Publishing, 1972), p. 6:
Now we learn that in the dim ages of the past, in the August Era of a certain most revered Mikado, the Empire was ruled with great kindness: that the Palace was thatched with reeds and its eaves were not repaired, because it was seen that little smoke went up from the houses, and the taxes were on that account remitted. So did the sovereign have pity on his people and help them in their distress. When we compare it with these ancient days we can well understand what a time we live in.
See also Basil Bunting (1900-1985), "Chomei at Toyama," in his Complete Poems (New York: New Directions, 2003), pp. 83-92 (at 85):
I have heard of a time when kings beneath bark rooves
watched chimneys.
When smoke was scarce, taxes were remitted.

To appreciate present conditions
collate them with those of antiquity.


A Decree of Burchard, Bishop of Worms

Karl P. Wentersdorf, "The Situation of the Narrator in the Old English Wife's Lament," Speculum 56.3 (July, 1981) 492-516 (at 505):
In continental Europe, the decrees promulgated by Burchard, bishop of Worms (d. 1025), called upon his clergy several times to do everything in their power to eradicate the obnoxious worship of trees: "The bishops and their assistants ought to exert their utmost efforts to cut down to the roots and consume in flames the trees consecrated to evil spirits, trees which the common people worship and hold in such high veneration that they do not dare to cut off a branch or even a twig."44

44 Burchardi decretorum libri XX, PL 140:834: "Summo studio decertare debent episcopi, et eorum ministri, ut arbores daemonibus consecratae quas vulgus colit, et in tanta veneratione habet, ut nec ramum vel surculum inde audeat amputare, radicitus excidantur, atque comburantur." The unlawful worship of trees is denounced by Burchard in other chapters: 10.2, De cultoribus arborum; 10.21, De illis qui ad arbores vel ad fontes faculas incenderint; 10.32, De illis qui ad arbores vel ad fontes aliqua vota voverint.
This decree did not originate with Burchard. He copied it from the Council of Nantes (7th or 9th century?), c. 18, found in Jacques Sirmond, ed. Concilia Antiqua Galliae (Paris, 1629; rpt. Aalen: Scientia, 1970), vol. 3, p. 607. See Bernadette Filotas, Pagan Survivals, Superstitions and Popular Cultures in Early Medieval Pastoral Literature (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2005 = Studies and Texts, 151), p. 147 with footnote 135. For bibliography on the disputed existence and date of the Council of Nantes, see Filotas p. 367.


Tuesday, February 03, 2015


Stand Your Ground

Cicero, On Behalf of Milo 4.10-11 (tr. N.H. Watts):
There does exist therefore, gentlemen, a law which is a law not of the statute-book, but of nature; a law which we possess not by instruction, tradition, or reading, but which we have caught, imbibed, and sucked in at Nature’s own breast; a law which comes to us not by education but by constitution, not by training but by intuition—the law, I mean, that, should our life have fallen into any snare, into the violence and the weapons of robbers or foes, every method of winning a way to safety would be morally justifiable. When arms speak, the laws are silent; they bid none to await their word, since he who chooses to await it must pay an undeserved penalty ere he can exact a deserved one.

Est igitur haec, iudices, non scripta, sed nata lex, quam non didicimus, accepimus, legimus, verum ex natura ipsa adripuimus, hausimus, expressimus, ad quam non docti, sed facti, non instituti, sed imbuti sumus, ut, si vita nostra in aliquas insidias, si in vim et in tela aut latronum aut inimicorum incidisset, omnis honesta ratio esset expediendae salutis; silent enim leges inter arma nec se exspectari iubent, cum ei, qui exspectare velit, ante iniusta poena luenda sit quam iusta repetenda.
Id., 11.30:
[I]t is a truth instilled into civilized beings by reason, into barbarians by necessity, into mankind by custom, and even into brute beasts by Nature herself, that always and in all circumstances they should repel violence, by whatever means were in their power, from their persons, their heads, and their lives...

[H]oc et ratio doctis et necessitas barbaris et mos gentibus et feris etiam beluis natura ipsa praescripsit, ut omnem semper vim, quacumque ope possent, a corpore, a capite, a vita sua propulsarent...


Modern Life

Anthony Daniels, "France's 'Submission'," New Criterion (February 15, 2015; a review of Michel Houellebecq's novel Soumission):
He, the protagonist of Soumission, reflects that in these parts “Cro-Magnon man [once] hunted the mammoth and the reindeer; nowadays they have the choice between an Auchan and a Leclerc [two large supermarket chains], both situated in Souillac.” Bravery and excitement have given way to comfort and convenience; degeneration is the inevitable and unavoidable result.
The quotation in French:
Les hommes de Cro-Magnon chassaient le mammouth et le renne; ceux d'aujourd'hui avaient le choix entre un Auchan et un Leclerc, tous deux situés à Souillac.
Related post: What Sort of Life Is That?


Delights to Last a Lifetime

Yoshishige no Yasutane (c.930-997), "Record of the Pond Pavilion," tr. Burton Watson in Four Huts: Asian Writings on the Simple Life (Boston: Shambhala, 2002), pp. 25-35 (at 33):
When my supper is done, I enter the eastern library, open my books, and find myself in the company of worthy men of the past, those such as Emperor Wen of the Han, a ruler of another era, who loved frugal ways and gave rest to his people; Po Lo-t'ien of the T'ang, a teacher of another time, who excelled in poetry and served the Buddhist Law; or the Seven Sages of the Chin dynasty, friends of another age, who lived at court but longed for the life of retirement. So I meet with a worthy ruler, I meet with a worthy teacher, and I meet with worthy friends, three meetings in one day, three delights to last a lifetime. As for the people and affairs of the contemporary world, they hold no attraction for me.

Monday, February 02, 2015


Goods and Chattels

Homer, Odyssey 2.74-75 (tr. A.T. Murray, rev. George E. Dimock):
For me it would be better that you yourselves should eat up my treasures and my flocks.

                                       ἐμοὶ δέ κε κέρδιον εἴη
ὑμέας ἐσθέμεναι κειμήλιά τε πρόβασίν τε.
Calvert Watkins (1933-2013), How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), pp. 9-10:
The comparison of characteristic formulas in various Indo-European languages and societies permits their reconstruction, sometimes as far back as the original common language and society. The formulas tend to make reference to culturally significant features—'something that matters'—and it is this which accounts for their repetition and long-term preservation. The phrase goods and chattels is an example of a formula in English today, fixed in the order of its constituents and pragmatically restricted in deployment and distribution. A glance at The New English Dictionary shows the phrase attested in that form and in that fixed order since the early 16th century and a good century earlier in the form good(e)s and cattel(s). The earliest citation is 1418, but we may safely presume the phrase is much older. It appears to be a translation into English of an Anglo-Latin legal phrase (NED s.v. cattle) designating non-moveable and moveable wealth which is attested as bonorum aliorum sive cattalorum in the pre-Norman, 11th-century Laws of Edward the Confessor. The coinage cattala is from Late Latin cap(i)tale, presumably transmitted through Northern or Norman French, but before the Conquest.

This formula is a MERISM, a two-part figure which makes reference to the totality of a single higher concept, as will be shown in chap. 3: goods and chattels, nonmoveable and moveable wealth, together designate all wealth. In its present form this formula is nearly a thousand years old in English. Yet its history may be projected even further back, with the aid of the comparative method. We find a semantically identical formula in Homeric Greek nearly two thousand years earlier: the phrase κειμήλιά τε πρόβασίν τε (Od. 2.75), where Telemachus complains of the suitors devouring his 'riches which lie and riches which move', the totality of his wealth.
κειμήλιον comes from κεῖμαι (lie still), πρόβασις from προβαίνω (move forward, advance).


What Hurt Snow Doeth?

Christopher Levett (1586-1630), "A Voyage into New England," in James Phinney Baxter, Christopher Levett, of York, the Pioneer Colonist in Casco Bay (Portland: Gorges Society, 1893), pp. 123-124:
Another euill or inconuenience I see there, the snow in winter did lie very long vpon the ground.

But I understand that all the parts of Christendome, were troubled with a cold winter so well as wee. Yet would I aske any man what hurt snow doeth? The husbandman will say that Corne is the better for it. And I hope Cattell may bee as well fed in the house there as in England, Scotland, and other Countries, and he is but an ill husband that cannot find Imployments for his seruants within doores for that time. As for Wiues and Children if they bee wise they will keepe themselues close by a good fire, and for men they will haue no occasion to ride to Faires or Markets, Sysses or Sessions, only Hawkes and Hounds will not then be vsefull.
I hope my sisters, who live near Casco Bay, "will keepe themselues close by a good fire" during today's snow storm.



Sam Kean, The Disappearing Spoon and Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2010; paperback edition 2011), pp. 5-6:
But the symbol for mercury, Hg, consists of two letters that don't even appear in its name. Unraveling that mystery—it's from hydragyrum, Latin for "water silver"—helped me understand how heavily ancient languages and mythology influenced the periodic table, something you can still see in the Latin names for the newer, superheavy elements along the bottom row.
For hydragyrum read hydrargyrum. Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. hydrargyrum:
< modern Latin hydrargyrum, altered (on the analogy of other names of metals, as aurum, argentum) from Latin hydrargyrus, < Greek ὑδράργυρος artificial quicksilver, < ὑδρ- (HYDRO- comb. form) + ἄργυρος silver.


Sunday, February 01, 2015


Nihil Ab Omni Parte Beatum

Claudian, On Stilicho's Consulship 1.24-33 (tr. Maurice Platnauer):
For truly since man inhabited this globe never has one mortal been granted all earth's blessings without alloy. This man's face is fair but his character is evil; another has a beauteous soul but an ugly body. One is renowned in war but makes peace hideous with his vices. This man is happy in his public but unhappy in his private life. Each takes a part; each owes his fame to some one gift, to bodily beauty, to martial prowess, to strength, to uprightness of life, to knowledge of law, to his offspring and a virtuous wife.

                               Etenim mortalibus ex quo
tellus coepta coli, numquam sincera bonorum        25
sors ulli concessa viro. quem vultus honestat,
dedecorant mores; animus quem pulchrior ornat,
corpus destituit. bellis insignior ille,
sed pacem foedat vitiis. hic publica felix,
sed privata minus. partitum; singula quemque        30
nobilitant: hunc forma decens, hunc robur in armis,
hunc rigor, hunc pietas, illum sollertia iuris,
hunc suboles castique tori.
"Each takes a part," i.e. "Each has received his share."

Horace, Odes 2.16.27-32 (tr. Niall Rudd):
Nothing is happy in every respect. An early death overtook the famous Achilles; a protracted old age wasted Tithonus away; it may be that time will offer me what it has denied to you.

nihil est ab omni
    parte beatum.
abstulit clarum cita mors Achillem,
longa Tithonum minuit senectus,        30
et mihi forsan, tibi quod negarit,
    porriget hora.

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