Tuesday, August 30, 2016


No Escape

Propertius 3.18.21-28 (tr. H.E. Butler):
And yet hither at last come all, come noble and come base;
bitter is the way, but all must tread it;
all must assuage the triple throat of the baying hound,
and climb the boat of that grim greybeard that waits for all.
Though a man seek to save himself by walls of iron and of brass,        25
yet death shall drag forth his head from its sheltering place.
Beauty saved not Nireus nor might Achilles;
nor was Croesus succoured by wealth born of Pactolus stream.

sed tamen huc omnes, huc primus et ultimus ordo:
    est mala, sed cunctis ista terenda via est.
exoranda canis tria sunt latrantia colla,
    scandenda est torvi publica cumba senis.
ille licet ferro cautus se condat et aere,        25
    mors tamen inclusum protrahit inde caput.
Nirea non facies, non vis exemit Achillem,
    Croesum aut, Pactoli quas parit umor, opes.
Notes explaining the obvious:
the baying hound: Cerberus, the three-headed dog of the underworld
that grim greybeard: Charon, ferryman of the underworld
Nireus: handsomest of the Greeks after Achilles, according to Homer, Iliad 2.673-674
Pactolus: river whose sands were rich in gold

Monday, August 29, 2016


Self-Inflicted Woes

Menander, fragment 844 Kassel-Austin (Poetae Comici Graeci VI.2, p. 400; tr. Maurice Balme):
All living animals are happier
And have more sense than man, far more.
Consider first this donkey here; he's an
Unhappy creature, all agree. But he
Brings none of his misfortunes on himself;
He only has the troubles nature gave.
But we, apart from those we can't avoid,
Provide ourselves with others self-imposed;
We're pained if someone sneezes, angry if
Abused; we see a dream—we're terrified,
And if an owl shrieks loud, we shake with fear.
Our worries, fancies, our ambitions, laws,
These are all evils added to nature's gifts.

ἅπαντα τὰ ζῷ' ἐστὶ μακαριώτερα
καὶ νοῦν ἔχοντα μᾶλλον ἀνθρώπου πολύ.
τὸν ὄνον ὁρᾶν ἔξεστι πρῶτα τουτονί,
οὗτος κακοδαίμων ἐστὶν ὁμολογουμένως.
τούτῳ κακὸν δι' αὑτὸν οὐδὲν γίνεται,        5
ἃ δ' ἡ φύσις δέδωκεν αὐτὰ ταῦτ' ἔχει.
ἡμεῖς δὲ χωρὶς τῶν ἀναγκαίων κακῶν
αὐτοὶ παρ' αὑτῶν ἕτερα προσπορίζομεν.
λυπούμεθ', ἂν πτάρῃ τις· ἂν εἴπῃ κακῶς,
ὀργιζόμεθ'· ἂν ἴδη τις ἐνύπνιον, σφόδρα        10
φοβούμεθ'· ἂν γλαὺξ ἀνακράγῃ, δεδοίκαμεν.
ἀγωνίαι, δόξαι, φιλοτιμίαι, νόμοι,
ἅπαντα ταῦτ' ἐπίθετα τῇ φύσει κακά.
The same, tr. J.M. Edmonds:
All animals are happier than we,
And far more sensible. This you can see
By the donkey here. He's wretched, I admit,
But nature, not himself, 's the cause of it.
We're not content with necessary ill,
But needs must add to it because we will.
Sneezes upset us, insults we repay,
Dreams told alarm us, hooting owls dismay;
Rivalries, reputations, laws, ambitions,
All these are quite gratuitous additions.
Kassel and Austin:

Sunday, August 28, 2016


What Money Can't Buy

Menander, fragment 218 Kassel-Austin (Poetae Comici Graeci VI.2, p. 152; tr. Maurice Balme):
Young man, you think that money can supply
The price not just of daily wants—like bread
And barley, vinegar and olive oil,
But something else more vital. But it can't
Supply the price of immortality,
Not if you should amass that fabled hoard
Of Tantalus. You'll die and leave all this
To someone else.

τἀργύριον εἶναι, μειράκιόν, σοι φαίνεται
οὐ τῶν ἀναγκαίων καθ' ἡμέραν μόνον
τιμὴν παρασχεῖν δυνατόν, ἄρτων, ἀλφίτων,
ὄξους, ἐλαίου, μείζονος δ' ἄλλου τινός.
ἀθανασίας δ' οὐκ ἔστιν, οὐδ' ἂν συναγάγῃς        5
τὰ Ταντάλου τάλαντ᾽ ἐκεῖνα λεγόμενα·
ἀλλ' ἀποθανῇ καὶ ταῦτα καταλείψεις τινί.

7 ταῦτα codd.: πάντα Meineke

Saturday, August 27, 2016


The Shallowest Brain

John Burroughs, journal (November 9, 1916), quoted in James Perrin Warren, John Burroughs and the Place of Nature (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2006), p. 15 (footnote omitted):
The magazine writer has a new problem: how to address himself to the moving-picture brain—the brain that does not want to read or think, but only to use its eager shallow eyes, eyes that prefer the shadow and ghosts of things to the things themselves, that rather see the ghosts of people flitting around on the stage, than to see real flesh and blood. How an audible dialogue would tire them! It might compel them to use their minds a little—horrible thought!

For my own part, I am sure I cannot interest this moving-picture brain, and do not want to. It is the shallowest brain that has yet appeared in the world. What is to be the upshot of this craze over this mere wash of reality which the "movies" (horrible word!) offer our young people?


Coordinated Terror Attacks

Sallust, The War with Catiline 43.2 (tr. J.C. Rolfe):
Now it is said that the parts assigned to them were the following: Statilius and Gabinius, with many followers, were to kindle fires at twelve important points in the city all at the same time, in order that in the ensuing confusion access might more easily be had to the consul and the others against whom their plots were directed...

sed ea divisa hoc modo dicebantur: Statilius et Gabinius uti cum magna manu duodecim simul opportuna loca urbis incenderent, quo tumultu facilior aditus ad consulem ceterosque quibus insidiae parabantur fieret...
Plutarch, Life of Cicero 18.3 (tr. Bernadotte Perrin):
Moreover, they had appointed a hundred men and assigned by lot as many quarters of Rome to each one severally, in order that within a short time many might play the incendiary and the city be everywhere in a blaze. Others, too, were to stop up the aqueducts and kill those who tried to bring water.

ἄνδρας δὲ τάξαντες ἑκατὸν καὶ μέρη τοσαῦτα τῆς Ῥώμης ἕκαστον ἐφ᾿ ἑκάστῳ διεκλήρωσαν, ὡς δι᾿ ὀλίγου πολλῶν ἁψάντων φλέγοιτο πανταχόθεν ἡ πόλις. ἄλλοι δὲ τοὺς ὀχετοὺς ἔμελλον ἐμφράξαντες ἀποσφάττειν τοὺς ὑδρευομένους.

Friday, August 26, 2016


Cheating in Latin Class

Thomas Mann (1875-1955), Buddenbrooks, XI.2 (tr. John E. Woods):
Hanno pulled his Ovid from his satchel, a paperbound book with a marbled cover, and opened it to the verses that were to be memorized for today. No, it was hopeless—a long, regular column of black lines, every fifth one numbered, and with little pencil marks scribbled everywhere, and the lines stared back at him, so obscure and unfamiliar that it was useless to try to learn a few of them. He could barely make out what they meant, let alone recite even a single one by heart. And he could not decipher one line of the passage that followed, which they were supposed to have translated for today.

"What does 'deciderant, patula Jovis arbore, glandes' mean?" he asked in a forlorn voice, turning to Adolf Todtenhaupt, who was busy beside him with the attendance book. "It's all gibberish! They just want to trick us."

"What?" Todtenhaupt asked and went on writing. "The acorns of Jupiter's tree—that's the oak, yes. But I don't really know myself."

"Just prompt me a little, Todtenhaupt, if I get called on," Hanno begged, shoving the book away.
"Buddenbrook!" Dr. Mantelsack had said. "Buddenbrook." The sound still echoed in the air, and yet Hanno couldn’t quite believe it. There was a buzzing in his ears now. He kept his seat.

"Herr Buddenbrook!" Doctor Mantelsack said, staring at him with bulging, sapphire-blue eyes that sparkled behind his thick glasses. "Would you please be so kind?"

Fine—so it was meant to be. It had to turn out like this. Very differently from what he had expected, but all was lost now. He was resigned to his fate. Would it end in a truly terrible outburst of rage? He stood up and was about to offer some inane, ridiculous excuse, to say he had "forgotten" to memorize the verses—when suddenly he noticed the boy ahead of him holding his book open for him.

The boy ahead of him was Hans Hermann Kilian, a small fellow with brown, greasy hair and broad shoulders. He wanted to be an officer and was so inspired by esprit de corps that he couldn't leave Johann Buddenbrook high and dry, even though he couldn't stand him. He even pointed a finger at the place to begin.

And Hanno stared at the book and began to read. With a faltering voice and pursed brows and lips he read about the Golden Age, which had arisen first, when of their own free will, with no compulsion, no law, men had kept faith and done the right. "There was no fear of punishment," he said in Latin, "no menacing words to be read on tablets of bronze; no suppliant throng to gaze in fear upon its judge’s face...." With an agonized, grim look on his own face, he purposely read badly and disjointedly, intentionally ignored elisions marked in pencil in Kilian’s book, mangled the rhythm, groped for words, and made it look as if he were laboring to recall each one—expecting at any moment that the professor would find him out and pounce on him. The sweet, malicious joy of seeing the book open before him made his skin tingle; but he was totally disgusted with himself, too, and intentionally cheated as badly as possible, hoping that this would make his deception a little less sordid. Then he stopped, and silence reigned in the room—he did not dare look up. The silence was horrible; his lips turned white, he was sure Dr. Mantelsack had seen it all.

At last the professor sighed and said, "Oh, Buddenbrook, si tacuisses. You will excuse my use of the classical informal pronoun. Do you know what you have done? You have dragged beauty through the dust, you have behaved like a Vandal, a barbarian—you, a creature whom the muses have deserted, Buddenbrook, it's written on your face. If I were to ask myself whether you were coughing the whole time or reciting noble verses, I would be inclined to think it was the former. Timm has little developed sense of rhythm, but compared with you he is a genius, a rhapsodist. Be seated, unhappy man. You have studied, I grant. You have learned. I cannot give you a bad grade. You have made the best of your abilities. Although they tell me that you are musical and play the piano, is that right? How can that be? Well, enough, sit down, you've worked hard, it seems—that will do."

He jotted a "satisfactory" in his notebook, and Hanno Buddenbrook sat down.
Petersen translated, casting a glance now and then at the right-hand page in his book, which had nothing to do with the passage. He did this very deftly. He acted as if something about it bothered him, and he passed his hand over it and blew at it as if there were a speck of dust or whatever that annoyed him and needed to be brushed away. And then something ghastly happened.

All of a sudden Dr. Mantelsack shifted his weight violently—and Petersen responded with an equally sudden violent motion. And in the same moment, virtually tumbling head over heels, the professor left his platform and headed directly toward Petersen with long, inexorable strides.

"You have a pony there in your book, a translation," he said, standing beside him now.

"A pony ... no ... I ..." Petersen stammered. He was a handsome lad with a massive wave of blond hair that swept down over his forehead and extraordinarily beautiful blue eyes, which flickered now with fear.

"Do you have a pony in your book?"

"No, sir, no, Dr. Mantelsack. A pony? I most certainly do not have a pony. You are quite mistaken. You are wrong to entertain such suspicions." Petersen spoke in a way that none of the boys ever spoke. In his fear he carefully chose his words, hoping that this would rattle the professor. "I am not cheating," he said in his great distress. "I have always been honest, my whole life long."

But Dr. Mantelsack was all too certain of the painful truth. "Give me your book," he said icily.

Petersen clung to his book. He raised both hands in the air, and although he was half tongue-tied now, he continued to exclaim, "Please believe me, sir. There is nothing in my book, Dr. Mantelsack. I don't have a pony. I haven't cheated. I've always been honest."

"Give me the book," the professor repeated and stamped one foot.

Petersen went limp, his face turned gray.

"All right," he said, handing over the book, "here it is. Yes, there's a pony in it. You can see for yourself, there it is. But I wasn't using it," he suddenly shouted to the whole room.

Dr. Mantelsack, however, ignored this absurd lie, which was born of desperation alone. He pulled out the "pony," looked at it as if he had some putrid piece of garbage in his hand, slipped it into his pocket, and disdainfully tossed Petersen's Ovid back on his desk. "The class attendance book," he said in a hollow voice.

Adolf Todtenhaupt dutifully brought the class attendance book to him, and Petersen was given a demerit for attempted cheating, which would have devastating repercussions for a long time to come. It sealed his doom—he would be held back at Easter. "You are a discredit to this class," Dr. Mantelsack said and then returned to his professorial chair.

Petersen sat down, a ruined man. They all saw his neighbor edge away from him. And they all regarded him with a mixture of disgust, pity, and horror. He had fallen, and was now left alone, utterly abandoned—because he had been caught.


A Child Prodigy

John Evelyn, Diary (January 27, 1658), in Memoirs Illustrative of the Life and Writings of John Evelyn, ed. William Bray (New York: G.P. Putnam & Sons, 1870), pp. 255-257:
After six fits of a quartan ague with which it pleased God to visite him, died my deare son Richard, to our inexpressible griefe and affliction, 5 yeares and 3 days old onely, but at that tender age a prodigy for witt and understanding; for beauty of body a very angel; for endowment of mind of incredible and rare hopes. To give onely a little taste of some of them, and thereby glory to God, who out of the mouths of babes and infants does sometimes perfect his praises: at 2 yeares and halfe old he could perfectly reade any of the English, Latine, French, or Gottic letters, pronouncing the three first languages exactly. He had before the 5th yeare, or in that yeare, not onely skill to reade most written hands, but to decline all the nouns, conjugate the verbs regular, and most of the irregular; learn'd out Puerilis, got by heart almost the entire vocabularie of Latine and French primitives and words, could make congruous syntax, turne English into Latine, and vice versa, construe and prove what he read, and did the government and use of relatives, verbs, substantives, elipses, and many figures and tropes, and made a considerable progress in Comenius's Janua; began himselfe to write legibly, and had a stronge passion for Greeke. The number of verses he could recite was prodigious, and what he remember'd of the parts of playes; which he would also act; and when seeing a Plautus in one's hand, he ask'd what booke it was, and being told it was comedy, and too difficult for him, he wept for sorrow. Strange was his apt and ingenious application of fables and morals, for he had read Aesop; he had a wonderful disposition to mathematics, having by heart divers propositions of Euclid that were read to him in play, and he would make lines and demonstrate them. As to his piety, astonishing were his applications of Scripture upon occasion, and his sense of God; he had learn'd all his Catechisme early, and understood the historical part of the Bible and New Testament to a wonder, how Christ came to redeeme mankind, and how, comprehending these necessarys himselfe, his godfathers were discharg'd of their promise. These and the like illuminations far exceeded his age and experience, considering the prettinesse of his addresse and behaviour, cannot but leave impressions in me at the memory of him. When one told him how many dayes a Quaker had fasted, he replied that was no wonder, for Christ had said man should not live by bread alone, but by the Word of God. He would of himselfe select the most pathetic psalms, and chapters out of Job, to reade to his mayde during his sicknesse, telling her when she pitied him that all God's children must suffer affliction. He declaim'd against the vanities of the world before he had seene any. Often he would desire those who came to see him to pray by him, and a yeare before he fell sick, to kneel and pray with him alone in some corner. How thankfully would he receive admonition, how soon be reconciled! how indifferent, yet continualy chereful! He would give grave advice to his brother John, beare with his impertinencies, and say he was but a child. If he had heard of or saw any new thing, he was unquiet till he was told how it was made; he brought to us all such difficulties as he found in books, to be expounded. He had learn'd by heart divers sentences in Latin and Greeke, which on occasion he would produce even to wonder. He was all life, all prettinesse, far from morose, sullen, or childish in any thing he said or did. The last time he had ben at church (which was at Greenwich), I ask'd him, according to costome, what he remembered of the sermon: two good things, father, said he, bonum gratia and bonum gloria, with a just account of what the preacher said. The day before he died he cal'd to me, and in a more serious manner than usual told me that for all I loved him so dearly I should give my house, land, and all my fine things, to his brother Jack, he should have none of them; the next morning, when he found himself ill, and that I persuaded him to keepe his hands in bed, he demanded whether he might pray to God with his hands unjoyn'd; and a little after, whilst in greate agonie, whether he should not offend God by using his holy name so often calling for ease. What shall I say of his frequent pathetical ejaculations utter'd of himselfe; Sweete Jesus save me, deliver me, pardon my sinns, let thine angels receive me! So early knowledge, so much piety and perfection! But thus God having dress'd up a Saint fit for himselfe, would not longer permit him with us, unworthy of the future fruites of this incomparable hopefull blossome. Such a child I never saw: for such a child I blesse God in whose bosome he is! May I and mine become as this little child, who now follows the child Jesus that Lamb of God in a white robe whithersoever he goes; Even so, Lord Jesus, Fiat voluntas tua! Thou gavest him to us, Thou hast taken him from us, blessed be the name of the Lord! That I had any thing acceptable to Thee was from thy grace alone, since from me he had nothing but sin, but that Thou hast pardon'd! blessed be my God for ever, amen!

In my opinion he was suffocated by the women and maids that tended him, and cover'd him too hot with blankets as he lay in a cradle, near an excessive hot fire in a close roome. I suffer'd him to be open'd, when they found that he was what is vulgarly call'd liver-growne. I caused his body to be coffin'd in lead and reposited on the 30th at 8 o'clock that night in the church of Deptford accompanied with divers of my relations and neighbours, among whom I distributed rings with this motto, Dominus abstulit; intending, God willing, to have him transported with my owne body to be interr'd in our dormitory in Wotton church, in my dear native county Surrey, and to lay my bones and mingle my dust with my fathers, if God be gracious to me and make me as fit for Him as this blessed child was. The Lord Jesus sanctify this and all other my afflictions, Amen!

Here ends the joy of my life, and for which I go even mourning to the grave.
Hat tip: James J. O'Donnell.

Thursday, August 25, 2016


A Recluse

Thomas Mann (1875-1955), Buddenbrooks, VIII.7 (tr. John E. Woods):
Quite a distance out of town—not far from the first village, in fact—was a little farmstead, a tiny, almost worthless piece of property that didn't even have a name. If you stopped to look inside the gate, the first thing you noticed was a manure pile, then several chickens, a doghouse, and, finally, a wretched cottagelike building with a low-hanging red roof. This was the manor house, the residence of Kai's father, Count Eberhard Mölln.

He was an eccentric, whom people seldom saw—a recluse who had forsaken the world for this little farm, where he bred chickens and dogs and grew vegetables: a tall, bald man who wore top boots and a green frieze jacket and sported a huge grizzled beard worthy of a troll. He always had a riding crop in his hand, although he did not own a single horse, and there was a monocle clamped in one eye, under a bushy brow. Apart from him and his son, there was no longer a single Count Mölln to be found anywhere in the country. The various branches of this once rich, powerful, and proud family had withered, died, and rotted away, and little Kai had only one aunt who was still alive—and his father was not on speaking terms with her. She published novels, written under a bizarre pseudonym, in various family magazines. What people remembered about Count Eberhard was that, shortly after he had moved onto the farm out beyond the Burg Gate, a sign appeared on the low front door warning salesmen, beggars, or anyone else making inquiries not to bother him; the sign read: "Here lives Count Mölln, all alone. He needs nothing, buys nothing, and has nothing to give away."

Dort nämlich, weit draußen, unfern des ersten Dorfes, war irgendwo ein kleines Gehöft, ein winziges, fast wertloses Anwesen, das überhaupt keinen Namen hatte. Man gewann, blickte man hin, den Eindruck eines Mithaufens, einer Anzahl Hühner, einer Hundehütte und eines armseligen, katenartigen Gebäudes, mit tief hinunterreichendem, rotem Dache. Dies war das Herrenhaus, und dort wohnte Kais Vater, Eberhard Graf Mölln.

Er war ein Sonderling, den selten Jemand zu sehen bekam, und der, beschäftigt mit Hühner-, Hundeund Gemüsezucht, abgeschieden von aller Welt auf seinem kleinen Gehöfte hauste: ein großer Mann mit Stulpenstiefeln, einer grünen Friesjoppe, kahlem Kopfe, einem ungeheuren ergrauten Rübezahl-Barte, einer Reitpeitsche in der Hand, obgleich er durchaus kein Pferd besaß, und einem unter der buschigen Braue ins Auge geklemmten Monocle. Es gab, außer ihm und seinem Sohne, weit und breit keinen Grafen Mölln mehr im Lande. Die einzelnen Zweige der ehemals reichen, mächtigen und stolzen Familie waren nach und nach verdorrt, abgestorben und vermodert, und nur eine Tante des kleinen Kai, mit der sein Vater aber nicht in Korrespondenz stand, war noch am Leben. Sie veröffentlichte unter einem abenteuerlichen Pseudonym Romane in Familienblättern. – Was den Grafen Eberhard betraf, so erinnerte man sich, daß er, um sich vor allen Störungen durch Anfragen, Angebote und Bettelei zu schützen, während längerer Zeit, nachdem er das Anwesen vorm Burgthore bezogen, ein Schild an seiner niedrigen Hausthür geführt hatte, auf dem zu lesen gewesen: „Hier wohnt Graf Mölln ganz allein, braucht nichts, kauft nichts und hat nichts zu verschenken.“
Count Mölln's sign is not unlike a couple of signs which Mrs. Laudator thinks would be suitable for me:

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


An Unidentified Quotation in Erasmus' Adages

Erasmus, Adages I i 1 to I v 100, translated by Margaret Mann Phillips, annotated by R.A.B. Mynors (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982), p. 99 (on I i 48 Tota erras via):
There is also that familiar saying: 'They run well but not on the right road.'

familiar saying] This is mentioned again in III i 84, but has not yet been identified.
The Latin:
celebre habetur et illud apophthegma, Bene currunt, sed extra viam: Καλώς μὲν τρέχουσιν, άλλ' έκτός τής όδού.
Erasmus, Adages II vii 1 to III iii 100, translated and annotated by R.A.B. Mynors (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992), pp. 214-215 (on III i 84 Frustra currit), with note on p. 386:
Also the familiar remark2 once made by someone: 'They run, but not on the right road,' when a man toils industriously, but on no settled plan which can tell him in advance which path to follow and how far.

2 remark] I i 48; the source has not been traced.
The Latin:
Celebratur et illud cuiuspiam ἀπόφθεγμα: Τρέχουσιν ἔξω τῆς ὁδοῦ, id est Currunt extra viam, vbi quis sedulo quidem molitur, sed nulla certa ratione, quae praemonstret, quid quatenusque sequendum sit.
I wonder if Erasmus was thinking of Augustine, Sermons 141.4 (on John's Gospel 14.6; Patrologia Latina 38, col. 777; tr. R.G. MacMullen):
For sometimes even those who walk well, run outside the way. Thus you will find men living well, and not Christians. They run well; but they run not in the way. The more they run, the more they go astray; because they are out of the Way.

aliquando enim ipsi bene ambulantes, praeter viam currunt. invenies quippe homines bene viventes, et non Christianos. bene currunt; sed in via non currunt. quanto plus currunt, plus errant; quia a via recedunt.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Waking Up

Thomas Mann (1875-1955), Buddenbrooks, II.2 (tr. John E. Woods):
Say what you like, there is something pleasant about waking of a morning in a large bedroom with lovely, cheerful wallpaper and finding that the first thing you touch is a heavy satin quilt; and it is exceptional to have an early breakfast in a room opening onto a terrace, with the fresh morning air drifting in from the front garden through an open glass door, and to be served neither coffee, nor tea, but a cup of chocolate—yes, every morning, a cup of birthday chocolate, with a thick moist piece of pound cake.

Was man sagen mag, so ist es etwas Angenehmes, wenn beim Erwachen morgens in dem großen, mit hellem Stoff tapezierten Schlafzimmer die erste Bewegung der Hand eine schwere Atlas-Steppdecke trifft; und es ist nennenswert, wenn zum ersten Frühstück vorn im Terrassenzimmer, während durch die offene Glasthür vom Garten die Morgenluft hereinstreicht, statt des Kaffees oder des Thees eine Tasse Chokolade verabreicht wird, ja, jeden Tag Geburtstagschokolade mit einem dicken Stück feuchten Napfkuchens.



Alan Cameron and Jacqueline Long, Barbarians and Politics at the Court of Arcadius (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), p. 343, n. 42, commentary on Synesius, Egyptians, or On Providence 1.3 (92 B):
ἔρρεγκε, in Greek used for both the (properly) involuntary noise "snore" and the voluntary "snort." There can be little doubt that Synesius is inspired by Or. 33 of his idol Dio Chrysostom, an extraordinary attack on the people of Tarsus for making just this noise, a "harsh, disgusting sound produced by violent inhalation or exhalation through the nose," according to C. Bonner, "A Tarsian Peculiarity," Harv. Theol. Rev. 35 (1942): 2; cf. C.P. Jones, The Roman World of Dio Chrysostom (Cambridge, Mass. 1978), 73-74; G. Highet, Classical Papers (New York 1983), 95 n. 53. Dio goes so far as to claim that it is the sort of sound one expects to hear in a brothel (Or. 33.36). Bonner collects various other examples from the second to the seventh century (though omitting both Synesius's and Ammianus's account of the Roman plebs: "turpi sono fragosis naribus introrsum reducto spiritu concrepantes," Amm. Marc. 14.6.25), all cases where ῥέγκω or a similar word is used of a sound clearly felt to be utterly disgusting. According to Sophronius, a young man was deservedly struck blind for making such a noise in the shrine of Saints Cyrus and John (Mir. SS. Cyr. et Ioh. 31 (N. Fernandez Marcos, Los Thaumata de Sofronio: Contribucion al estudio de la Incubatio Cristiana [Madrid 1975], 306).
Gilbert Highet, "Mutilations in the Text of Dio Chrysostom," in his Classical Papers (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983), pp. 74-99 (at 95, n. 53):
ῥέγκουσι, 33.18. This is the only passage in pagan literature known to me where the sound of snorting or snuffling is given an explicitly sexual connotation. The verb, and nouns allied to it (ῥέγκος, rhonchus in Latin, ῥέγξις, ῥωχμός), are used of (1) snoring in sleep: Aesch. Eum. 53, Ar. Nub. 5; (2) the wheezing of persons stuffed with food: Clem. Al. p. 219; (3) a sniff expressing disdain and hostility: Mart. 1.3.5, 4.86.7; cf. sanna in Juv. 6.306, and see Amm. Marc. 14.6.25: turpi sono fragosis naribus introrsum reducto spiritu concrepantes. However, C. Bonner, "A Tarsian Peculiarity," HThR 35 (1942) 1-8, cites two passages from Christian authors in which snuffling or nasal speech and sexual perversion are clearly associated: Tatianus, Ad Gr. 22 and Clem. Al., Paed. 3.29.2-3. C.B. Welles, "Hellenistic Tarsus," MUB 38 (1962) 65-68, thinks Dio's denunciation is "a monstrous jest" designed to carry the true charge that the men of Tarsus were shaving their beards and neglecting philosophy. It is difficult to read the vivid description of homosexual behavior in paragraphs 52 and 63-64 (cf. Epict. 3.1) and accept Welles' kindly interpretation.
In my ideal Greek dictionary, if I looked up ῥέγκω, these discussions and others like them would be quoted in extenso.

See also Cécile Bost-Pouderon, "Le ronflement des Tarsiens: l'interprétation du Discours XXXIII de Dion de Pruse," Revue des Études Grecques 113.2 (2000) 636-651.

Monday, August 22, 2016


If I Were...

Cecco Angiolieri (1260-1312), Sonnets, LXXXVI (tr. Luciano Rebay):
If I were fire, I would set the world aflame;
If I were wind, I would storm it;
If I were water, I would drown it;
If I were God, I would send it to the abyss.
If I were Pope, then I would be happy,
For I would swindle all the Christians;
If I were Emperor, do you know what I would do?
I would chop off heads all around.

If I were death, I would go to my father;
If I were life, I would flee from him;
The same I would do with my mother.
If I were Cecco, as I am and I was,
I would take the women who are young and lovely,
And leave the old and ugly for others.

S'i' fosse foco, ardere' il mondo;
S'i' fosse vento, lo tempesterei;
S'i' fosse acqua, i' l'anegherei;
S'i' fosse dio, mandereil en profondo;
S'i' fosse papa, sare' allor giocondo,
Ché tutt'i cristiani imbrigherei;
S'i fosse 'mperator, sa' che farei?
A tutti mozarei lo capo a tondo.

S'i' fosse morte, andarei da mio padre;
S'i' fosse vita, fugirei da lui:
Similemente faria da mi' madre.
S'i' fosse Cecco com'i' sono e fui,
Torei le donne giovani e legiadre:
E vecchie e laide lasserei altrui.
The same, tr. Dante Gabriel Rossetti:
If I were fire, I'd burn the world away;
If I were wind, I'd turn my storms thereon;
If I were water, I'd soon let it drown;
If I were God, I'd sink it from the day;
If I were Pope, I'd never feel quite gay
Until there was no peace beneath the sun;
If I were Emperor, what would I have done?—
I'd lop men's heads all round in my own way.

If I were Death, I'd look my father up;
If I were Life, I'd run away from him;
And treat my mother to like calls and runs.
If I were Cecco (and that's all my hope),
I'd pick the nicest girls to suit my whim,
And other folk should get the ugly ones.



Gregory Nazianus, Poems II.i.11.20-23 (Patrologia Graeca 37, col. 1031; tr. Carolinne White):
Everything ends in disaster: even good things are by time
outworn. Little or nothing remains,
as when the earth is swept away by heavy showers
and the pebbles are all that is left.

κέκμηκε πάντα, καὶ τὰ καλὰ τῷ χρόνῳ
κέκμηκεν. οὐδὲν ἢ στενὸν τὸ λείψανον,
ὡς γῆς συρείσης ὑετῶν λάβρων φορᾷ
κάχληκές εἰσιν οἱ λελειμμένοι μόνον.

I noticed a hexameter line consisting entirely of nouns in asyndeton at id., II.i.34.61 (Patrologia Graeca 37, col. 1311; tr. Carolinne White, except that I substituted shipmate for her comrade):
Shipmate, son, parent, brother, friend, wife, husband

σύμπλοον, υἷα, τοκῆα, κάσιν, φίλον, εὖνιν, ἀκοίτην
For similar examples see:


Response to Critics

Martial 1.91 (tr. D.R. Shackleton Bailey):
Although you don't publish your own poems, Laelius, you carp at mine.
    Either don't carp at mine or publish your own.

cum tua non edas, carpis mea carmina, Laeli.
    carpere vel noli nostra vel ede tua.
Gregory Nazianus, Poems II.i.39.68 (Patrologia Graeca 37, col. 1354; tr. Carolinne White):
If this is of little value, produce something better yourself.

εἰ μικρὰ ταῦτα, σὺ τέλει τὰ μείζονα.

Sunday, August 21, 2016


Constant to the Same Sweet Mistress

William Maginn (1794-1842), "Pandemus Polyglott," in his Miscellanies: Prose and Verse, ed. R.W. Montagu, Vol. II (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, 1885), pp. 262-282 (at 263-264):
The Doctor, though a colossus of mind, has had the firmness through life to forego all those mundane advantages which his wondrous powers must have obtained for him had such been his pleasure; and as in early life he gave himself up to the allurements of classical literature, so with a constancy seldom rivalled did he in manhood and in age still does he adhere to the same sweet mistress. The fruits of this affection are manifold, as some forty MS. folios testify; but, while the Doctor lives, his intimates alone will have the benefit of their acquaintance; for he is far too chary of his own personal comfort, too sensible of his own dignity, to sacrifice the one, or diminish his own proud sense of the other, by trusting the smallest of his learned labours to the caprice or indifference of a world engaged for the most part in pursuits which he looks down upon with pity, and would regard, if he were less good than he is, with contempt.


Carpe Diem

Lorenzo de' Medici (1449-1492), "Il Trionfo di Bacco e Arianna," lines 45-60, tr. Giuseppe Baretti, An Introduction to the Italian Language (London: A. Millar, 1755), p. 453 (words in italics represent additions):
Let every one open well his ears to our song: let none feed himself with the hopes of to-morrow. Let to-day every one be merry, young and old, males and females: let every sad thought fall, let us still make merry. Let him be joyous who will; there is no certainty of to-morrow.

O Women, and young lovers, long live Bacchus, and long live Love: let every oné play, dance, and sing: let the heart burn with sweetness. Do not think of labour, do not think of grief: what must be, must be. Let him be joyous who will; there is no certainty of to-morrow.
The Italian, from Lorenzo il Magnifico, Poesie, ed. Federico Sanguineti (Milan: Biblioteca Universale Rizzoli, 1992), p. 178:
Ciascun apra ben gli orecchi,        45
di doman nessun si paschi;
oggi siàn, giovani e vecchi,
lieti ognun, femmine e maschi;
ogni tristo pensier caschi:
facciam festa tuttavia.        50
Chi vuol esser lieto, sia:
di doman non c'è certezza.

Donne e giovinetti amanti,
viva Bacco e viva Amore!
Ciascun suoni, balli e canti!        55
Arda di dolcezza il core!
Non fatica, non dolore!
Ciò ch'a esser, convien sia.
Chi vuol esser lieto, sia:
di doman non c'è certezza.        60
Id., tr. John Addington Symonds, Sketches and Studies in Italy and Greece, Second Series (London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1900), p. 328:
Listen well to what we're saying;
    Of to-morrow have no care!
Young and old together playing,
    Boys and girls, be blithe as air!
Every sorry thought forswear!
    Keep perpetual holiday.—
    Youths and maids, enjoy to-day;
Nought ye know about to-morrow.

Ladies and gay lovers young!
    Long live Bacchus, live Desire!
Dance and play; let songs be sung;
    Let sweet love your bosoms fire;
In the future come what may!—
Youths and maids, enjoy to-day!
Nought ye know about to-morrow.
Id., tr. Stanley Appelbaum, First Italian Reader: A Dual-Language Book (Mineola: Dover Publications, Inc., 2008), p. 45:
Let everyone open his ears wide:
let no one be contented with tomorrow;
young and old, women and men,
let's all be happy today;
let every sad thought drop away;
let's celebrate constantly.
Let all who wish to be happy, be so:
there's no certainty about tomorrow.

Ladies and amorous young men,
long live Bacchus, long live Love!
Let everyone play music, dance, and sing!
Let each heart blaze with pleasure!
No weariness, no sorrow!
What must be, let it happen!
Let all who wish to be happy, be so:
there's no certainty about tomorrow.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


When the Criminals All Spoke Perfect French

Mohamed Choukri (1935-2003), Jean Genet in Tangiers, tr. Paul Bowles (New York: The Ecco Press, 1974), pp. 14-15:
He [Brion Gysin] went on to say that he had been rereading some of the books. I can't believe that man didn't have a classical education, he said. There's some mystery that he's trying to hide. His life is one of the great literary mysteries of the century.

I asked him how he thought it was possible for Genet to have had such an education. He said he had spoken of it with him, but Genet would never say more than that his entire education came from the thieves and vagabonds he happened to know in his formative years. Brion told him outright that he wasn't going to accept that, and added that he suspected he'd been brought up in a Catholic institution.

You don't learn the language of Racine in the street, Brion went on. And I wouldn't be surprised if Genet knew Greek and Latin.

I asked him how Genet had reacted to that.

No reaction, except that he got a bit pale, and looked very much astonished. Then he laughed and denied it. And he went through the same story as always. The thieves and the pimps. He claims it was a very special period that didn't last, the time when the criminals all spoke perfect French! No. You've got Genet the genius, and Genet the criminal. But there's another Genet, Genet the third, Genet the mystery man.
Cf. Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel, II.8 (tr. M.A. Screech):
I see even today's brigands, hangmen, mercenaries and stable-lads better taught than the teachers and preachers of my day.

Je voy les brigans, les boureaulx, les avanturiers, les palefreniers de maintenant, plus doctes que les docteurs et prescheurs de mon temps.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.


Americans and the Classics

Albert Jay Nock (1870-1945), "Rabelais and the Pantagrueline Spirit," speech delivered to the Faculty of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University, October 28, 1932:
I think Americans are peculiarly impatient about the classics of any subject. In my own line, I know, I next to never meet anybody who seems to have read anything that was written before about 1890.


The Day of Datylus

Erasmus, Adagia II iv 97, in Collected Works of Erasmus, Vol. 33: Adages II i 1 to II vi 100, translated and annotated by R.A.B. Mynors (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991), p. 236 (adage misnumbered as 96):
Datyli dies
The day of Datylus

Δατύλου ἡμέρα, The Day of Datylus. When things have gone very well. Taken from a man called Datylus, who achieved the highest honours at Athens.
The Latin:
Δατύλου ἡμέρα, id est Datyli dies, vbi res feliciter successerunt. Sumptum a Datylo quodam, qui apud Athenienses summos est honores consecutus.
Mynors' note on p. 420 (where he has the correct numbering of the adage):
There is a famous fragment of the early Lesbian lyric poet Alcaeus (346 Lobel-Page), in which he calls to his companions: 'Let us drink! Why are we waiting for the lamps? Only a finger breadth of day remains.' This last phrase was, or became proverbial, and is in the collections (Zenobius 3.10, Diogenianus 4.13, Suidas Δ 28); but daktylos, finger(breadth), has become a proper name in the genitive, 'of Daktylos,' and in Zenobius the name is Datylos. The collectors then had to provide 'the day of Da(k)tylos' with a historical explanation which looks quite spurious, and Erasmus simply translates this.
But Datylos (or Datyllos) seems to be elsewhere attested as a proper name. See Diccionario Griego–Español, s.v. Δατύλλος:
Datilo héroe aten. IG 13.383.76 (V a.C.), SEG l.c., prob. el mismo mencionado en el prov. Δατύλλου ἡμέρα Com.Adesp.305, recogido c. otra explicación, prob. errónea, en la forma Δακτύλου ἡμέρα por Zen. 3.10, Diogenian. 1.4.13, Apostol. 5.86, Sud.
and Poetae Comici Graeci, Vol. VIII: Adespota, edd. R. Kassel and C. Austin (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1995), p. 101, number 305:

If I understand this correctly, Kurt Latte in his edition of Hesychius (unavailable to me) suggested that the day of Daty(l)lus may have been the day during the festival of Pandia on which sacrificial meat was distributed to the people.

I don't have access to Lobel and Page, edd., Poetarum Lesbiorum Fragmenta, but here is the fragment of Alcaeus (cited by Mynors) from David A. Campbell's Loeb Classical Library edition:
Let us drink! Why do we wait for the lamps? There is only an inch of day left. Friend, take down the large decorated cups. The son of Semele and Zeus gave men wine to make them forget their sorrows. Mix one part of water to two of wine, pour it in brimful, and let one cup jostle another.

πώνωμεν· τί τὰ λύχν᾿ ὀμμένομεν; δάκτυλος ἀμέρα·
κὰδ δἄερρε κυλίχναις μεγάλαις, ἄϊτα, ποικίλαις·
οἶνον γὰρ Σεμέλας καὶ Δίος υἶος λαθικάδεα
ἀνθρώποισιν ἔδωκ᾿. ἔγχεε κέρναις ἔνα καὶ δύο
πλήαις κὰκ κεφάλας, <ἀ> δ᾿ ἀτέρα τὰν ἀτέραν κύλιξ

Friday, August 19, 2016



Greek Anthology 10.41 (by Lucian; tr. W.R. Paton):
The wealth of the soul is the only true wealth; the rest has more trouble than the possessions are worth. Him one may rightly call lord of many possessions and wealthy who is able to use his riches. But if a man wears himself out over accounts, ever eager to heap wealth on wealth, his labour shall be like that of the bee in its many-celled honeycomb, for others shall gather the honey.

πλοῦτος ὁ τῆς ψυχῆς πλοῦτος μόνος ἐστὶν ἀληθής·
    τἄλλα δ᾿ ἔχει λύπην πλείονα τῶν κτεάνων.
τόνδε πολυκτέανον καὶ πλούσιον ἔστι δίκαιον
    κλῄζειν, ὃς χρῆσθαι τοῖς ἀγαθοῖς δύναται.
εἰ δέ τις ἐν ψήφοις κατατήκεται, ἄλλον ἐπ᾿ ἄλλῳ        5
    σωρεύειν αἰεὶ πλοῦτον ἐπειγόμενος,
οὗτος ὁποῖα μέλισσα πολυτρήτοις ἐνὶ σίμβλοις
    μοχθήσει, ἑτέρων δρεπτομένων τὸ μέλι.
Related post: You Can't Take It With You.


You Are Old Enough to Use Books

Erwin Panofsky (1892-1968), Meaning in the Visual Arts: Papers in and on Art History (Garden City: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1955), pp. 343-344:
However, even assuming that the future humanist was lucky enough to choose the right curriculum when he was thirteen or fourteen (and a recent survey has disclosed that of the million precollege students in New York City only one thousand take Latin and only fourteen Greek), even then he has, as a rule, not been exposed to that peculiar and elusive spirit of scholarship which Gilbert Murray calls religio grammatici—that queer religion which makes its votaries both restless and serene, enthusiastic and pedantic, scrupulously honest and not a little vain. The American theory of education re­quires that the teachers of the young—a vast majority of them females—know a great deal about "behavior patterns," "group integration," and "controlled aggression drives," but does not insist too much upon what they may know of their subject, and cares even less for whether they are genuinely interested or actively engaged in it. The typical German "Gymnasialprofessor" is—or at least was in my time—a man of many shortcomings, now pompous, now shy, often neglectful of his appearance, and blissfully ignorant of juvenile psychology. But though he was content to teach boys rather than university students, he was nearly always a scholar. The man who taught me Latin was a friend of Theodor Mommsen and one of the most respected Cicero specialists. The man who taught me Greek was the editor of the Berliner Philologische Wochenschrift, and I shall never forget the impression which this lovable pedant made on us boys of fifteen when he apologized for having overlooked the misplacement of a comma in a Plato passage. "It was my error," he said, "and yet I wrote an article on this very comma twenty years ago; now we must do the translation over again." Nor shall I forget his antipode, a man of Erasmian wit and erudition, who became our history teacher when we had reached the stage of "high school juniors" and introduced himself with the words: "Gentlemen, this year we shall try to understand what happened during the so-called Middle Ages. Facts will be presupposed; you are old enough to use books."

It is the sum total of little experiences like these which makes for an education. This education should begin as early as possible, when minds are more retentive than ever after. And what is true of method is also true, I think, of subject matter. I do not believe that a child or an adolescent should be taught only that which he can fully understand. It is, on the contrary, the half-digested phrase, the half-placed proper name, the half-understood verse, remembered for sound and rhythm rather than meaning, which persists in the memory, captures the imagination, and suddenly emerges, thirty or forty years later, when one encounters a picture based on Ovid's Fasti or a print exhibiting a motif suggested by the Iliad—much as a saturated solution of hyposulphite suddenly crystallizes when stirred.

Thursday, August 18, 2016


The Blogger in His Hermitage

Vergil, Aeneid 7.600 (my translation):
He shut himself up in his house.

saepsit se tectis.
Id. 7.619:
He concealed himself in dark shadows.

caecis se condidit umbris.


Practical Ideals

Thomas Mann (1875-1955), Buddenbrooks, I.5 (tr. John E. Woods):
"Practical ideals—well, yes ..." Buddenbrook senior played with his gold snuffbox and rewarded his jaws with a little rest. "Practical ideals. Nope, set no store by 'em at all!" In his annoyance he had fallen back into Plattdeutsch. "Trade schools and technical schools and commercial schools are popping up like mushrooms, and grammar schools and classical education are suddenly all foolishness, and the whole world has nothing in its head but coal mines and factories and making money. Fine, fine, it's all very fine. But on the other hand a bit stupide, over the long term—is it not?"

„Praktische Ideale ... na, ja ...“ Der alte Buddenbrook spielte während einer Pause, die er seinen Kinnladen gönnte, mit seiner goldenen Dose. „Praktische Ideale ... ne, ich bin da gar nich für!“ Er verfiel vor Verdruß in den Dialekt. „Da schießen nun die gewerblichen Anstalten und die technischen Anstalten und die Handelsschulen aus der Erde, und das Gymnasium und die klassische Bildung sind plötzlich Bétisen , und alle Welt denkt an nichts, als Bergwerke ... und Industrie ... und Geldverdienen ... Brav, das alles, höchst brav! Aber ein bißchen stupide, von der anderen Seite, so auf die Dauer — wie?“


Inspiration and Perspiration

William S. Heckscher (1904-1999), Erwin Panofsky: A Curriculum Vitae (Princeton: Princeton University, Dept. of Art and Archaeology, 1969), p. 7:
He said of himself (November 1946), "Every six weeks I have a thought. The rest of the time I work."
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.


Maid of All Work

James Henry (1798-1876), Aeneidea, or Critical, Exegetical, and Aesthetical Remarks on the Aeneis, Vol. III (Dublin: Printed for the Trustees of the Author, 1881), pp. 39-40 (on 5.118):
Ingens is our author's maid of all work—cook, slut, and butler at once. No sooner has Ingens put her hand to CHIMAERAM, than she has to turn and give a lift to MOLE; hardly has she despatched "Lausum," 10.842, or "Murranum," 12.639, when she has to attend to "vulnere" of each. It is Ingens who is put in requisition, 11.641, for Herminius's "animis," Ingens for Herminius's "corpore et armis." Aeneas's fame is nothing without Ingens; without Ingens Aeneas's arms, nothing, 11.124: "O fama ingens ingentior armis." Seville's famous barber was never busier: it is Ingens here, Ingens there, everywhere Ingens. Scarce a hero in the Aeneid but has something for Ingens to do. Sarpedon calls Ingens, 1.133, "ubi ingens Sarpedon"; Periphas calls Ingens, 2.476, "una ingens Periphas"; Polyphemus calls Ingens, 3.658, "monstrum informe ingens"; Entellus calls Ingens, 5.423, "atque ingens media consistit arena"; Bitias calls Ingens, 9.709, "clipeum super intonat ingens"; Pandarus calls Ingens, 9.735, "tum Pandarus ingens"; and repeats the call, 11.369, "et Pandarus ingens"; Turnus calls Ingens, 12.926:
                                           ... "incidit ictus
ingens ad terram duplicato poplite Turnus."
Aeneas calls Ingens until both he and she may well be tired, as 10.578:
"haud tulit Aeneas tanto fervore furentes;
irruit, adversaque ingens apparuit hasta."
"haec ubi dicta dedit, portis sese extulit ingens."
6.412: "simul accipit alveo ingentem Aenean." 8.366:
                        ... "angusti subter fastigia tecti
ingentem Aenean duxit."
Nor is it only amongst articulating men Ingens is thus in demand. Serpents hiss Ingens, 5.84:
                            ... "lubricus anguis ab imis
septem ingens gyros, septena volumina traxit"
                                         ... "fit tortile collo
aurum ingens coluber, fit longae taenia vittae."
Swine grunt Ingens, 3.390; 8.43:
"littoreis ingens inventa sub ilicibus sus."
Bulls bellow Ingens, 8.203:
"Alcides aderat taurosque hac victor agebat
Not only the whole hody, the integrum corpus, but parts and sections of bodies, no matter whether of men or animals, no matter whether alive or dead, hands, horns, mouths, eyes, beards, breasts, ring the bell for Ingens, as 10.446: "corpusque per ingens lumina volvit"; 11.556: "quam dextra ingenti librans"; 7.483:
"cervus erat forma praestanti et cornibus ingens";
                                ... "caput ingens oris hiatus
et malae texere lupi";
3.635: "et telo lumen terebramus acuto ingens"; 12.300: "olli ingens barba reluxit"; 10.485: "pectus perforat ingens." Even the headless trunk shouts Ingens, 2.557:
                                ... "iacet ingens littore truncus,
avulsumque humeris caput, et sine nomine corpus."
Id., pp. 43-45:
But all this were tolerable, and so "ingens" is the activity and readiness on the one hand, and the patience on the other, of this veritable "serva servarum," that I doubt if one word of complaint had even to this hour reached my ears, however quick, as ears go, of hearing, if it had not been for the perpetual worrying she has to endure from the merest abstractions, airy nothings, buzzing about her, teazing her, and pricking her like myriads of midges to no good or purpose whatever, but out of mere wantonness and love of mischief. I could not tell you the names of a thousandth part of them, but gloria is one of them, as 2.325: "ingens gloria Teucrorum." Pavor is another of them, 7.458: "olli somnum ingens rumpit pavor." Argumentum, another, 7.791: "argumentum ingens." Pudor, another, 10.870:
                                        ... "aestuat ingens
uno in corde pudor mixtoque insania luctu."
Luctus, another, 11.62: "solatia luctus exigua ingentis"; 11.231:
"deficit ingenti luctu rex ipse Latinus";
6.869: "ingentem luctum ne quaere tuorum." Metus is another, 6.491: "ingenti trepidare metu." Minae, another, 4.88: "minaeque murorum ingentes." Curae, another, 5.701:
"nunc huc ingentes, nunc illuc pectore curas
1.212: "curisque ingentibus aeger." Coepta, another, 9.296:
"spondeo digna tuis ingentibus omnia coeptis";
10.461 : "coeptis ingentibus adsis." Genus, another, 12.224:
                        ... "formam assimulata Camerti,
cui genus a proavis ingens."
None but a heart of adamant had worked any unfortunate biped in such a manner. Many a time I have pitied her, but small good to her a pity of which she knew nothing, which was not to come till two thousand years after; her only consolation, if tears and sighs deserve the name of consolation, was the sympathy of her fellow-servant Contra, who "non ignara mali miseris succurrere didicit"; poor Contra who—never required by previous master to do coarse, common, every-day work, but allowed to live at ease, only lending a helping hand when the ordinary household was insufficient, and hired by her present master on those terms; and as long as he was himself strong and hale and alert only employed in such manner, viz., in his first book three times; in his second book, twice; in his third, three times; in his fourth, where he was in his full prime and vigour, only once; in his fifth, six times; in his sixth, twice; in his seventh, four times; in his eighth, three times—has to put to her hand in his ninth book, where her master first begins to show signs of fatigue, no less than ten times; in his tenth book, where his fatigue is greater, seventeen times; and even in his eleventh and twelfth books, where he seems to have become conscious how unfairly he had been treating a faithful servant, and shows a praiseworthy desire to spare her in future as much as his own increasing infirmities might allow, as often as twelve times in the eleventh, and seven times in the twelfth book. Poor Contra and poor Ingens! as honest and kind-hearted as ye were overwrought, ye never complained, never thought either of giving warning or going off without giving warning, but stuck faithful and steady to your employer from the day ye first entered his service (1.13: "Italiam contra Tiberinaque longe ostia"; 1.103: "ubi ingens Sarpedon") to the very end of your engagement, when ye are still found hand in hand helping alike, and at one and the same moment, your master and each other, 12.887:
"Aeneas instat contra telumque coruscat
ingens, arboreum";
896: "saxum circumspicit ingens"; 897: "saxum antiquum, ingens"; 926:
                                           ... "incidit ictus
ingens ad terram duplicato poplite Turnus."
Farewell! hard-working, faithful creatures, farewell!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


You Cannot Be Allowed

James Henry (1798-1876), Aeneidea, or Critical, Exegetical, and Aesthetical Remarks on the Aeneis, Vol. I (London: Williams and Norgate, 1873), pp. lxxvii-lxxviii:
Returning from Dresden to Ireland through London, and calling at the library of the British Museum with a present of a recently published work of my own, I begged to be allowed to look at a passage in a volume which stood on a shelf close beside me. "Have you permission to read in the library?" asked the officer in charge. "No, I have not; nor have I come for the purpose of reading; nor do I intend to stay longer in London than this day. All I ask is permission to look at a few lines in that volume. I shall do so without sitting down or stirring out of this spot. I shall not require to have the book in my hands for quite five minutes." "You cannot be allowed; it is contrary to rule. But if you get a banker, or the principal of any college, seminary or commercial establishment in London, to write a letter to Sir Henry Ellis, certifying that you are a fit and proper person to read in the library, Sir Henry Ellis will, on receipt of such letter, post you a ticket of admission, and on that ticket you can come and read in the library daily for the next three months." "I do not want admission to the library; I am in it already. I only wish to have that book, there, in my hands for five minutes, and then to go away and trouble you no more." "Impossible; it is contrary to rule." "Can I see Sir Henry Ellis?" "Certainly." Sir Henry Ellis made his appearance, replied to my request in the same terms, and I proceeded to Ireland, more than ever convinced that even in civilization there is a golden mean, every step beyond which is a step further from humanity, and towards an extreme in which ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes non emollit mores sed sinit esse feros, and consoling myself en vrai Darwiniste as I am, with the prospect I saw opening in the distance for my successors, that books in British libraries continuing to be guarded as if they were Hesperides' apples, readers would in due course come to be born with the strength of Hercules, and the instinct to use it on the proper occasion.



Thomas Mann (1875-1955), Buddenbrooks, III.1 (tr. John E. Woods):
"And what are you reading, Master Buddenbrook? Ah, Cicero! A difficult text, the work of a great Roman orator. Quousque tandem, Catilina. Huh-uh-hmm, yes, I've not entirely forgotten my Latin, either."

The consul said, "Unlike my dear departed father, I have always had some reservations about this everlasting preoccupation of young minds with Greek and Latin. So many serious and important matters are necessary to prepare a man for the practical side of life."

"My opinion entirely, Herr Buddenbrook," Herr Grünlich hastened to reply. "You took the words out of my mouth. A difficult text, and as I failed to add, a not unexceptionable one. Quite apart from everything else, I can recall several passages in those speeches that are blatantly offensive."

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


The Daily News and the Trivialities of the Quarter

Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982), "Signs of a New Youth Revolt," San Francisco Examiner (May 29, 1960):
Chesterton once said that ideally the daily newspapers should print every day selections from Shakespeare and Homer and the Bible and other things that were really important and that people should read regularly, and then, once every three months, put out a special supplement with a brief run-down of fires, murders, accidents, infidelities, political events — one compressed tabloid of the trivialities of the quarter.
I can't locate the passage in question from Chesterton.


The Three Parts of Time

Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), The Heroic Enthusiasts (Gli Eroici Furori): An Ethical Poem by Giordano Bruno, Part the Second, Translated by L. Williams (London: Bernard Quaritch, 1889), pp. 2-4 (from Part II, Dialogue 1; interlocutors are Maricondo and Cesarino):
MARICONDO. Know, my brother, that this succession and order of things is most true and most certain; but as regards ourselves in all ordinary conditions whatever, the present afflicts more than the past, nor can these two together console, but only the future, which is always in hope and expectation as you may see designated in this figure which is taken from the ancient Egyptians, who made a certain statue which is a bust, upon which they placed three heads, one of a wolf which looks behind, one of a lion with the face turned half round, and the third of a dog who looks straight before him; to signify that things of the past afflict by means of thoughts, but not so much as things of the present which actually torment, while the future ever promises something better; therefore behold the wolf that howls, the lion that roars and the dog that barks (applause).

CES. What means that legend that is written above?

MAR. See, that above the wolf is Lam, above the lion Modo, above the dog Praeterea, which are words signifying the three parts of time.

CES. Now read the tablet.

MAR. I will do so.

A wolf, a lion, and a dog appear
At dawn, at midday, and dark night.
That which I spent, retain and for myself procure,
So much was given, is given, and may be given;
For that which I did, I do, and have to do.
In the past, in the present and in the future,
I do repent, torment myself and re-assure,
For the loss, in suffering and in expectation.
With sour, with bitter and with sweet
Experience, the fruits, and hope,
Threatens, afflict, and comforts me.
The age I lived, do live and am to live,
Affrights me, shakes me and upholds
In absence, presence and in prospect.
Much, too much and sufficient
Of the past, of now, and of to come,
Put me in fear, in anguish and in hope.
The nonsensical "above the wolf is Lam" continues to appear in reprints of this book and on web pages. Here is an image of the sentence, from p. 3 of the book:

Nowhere, it seems, has the obvious correction been made—"above the wolf is Iam". The three Latin temporal adverbs (iam, modo, praeterea) signify the three parts of time. See an image of the Italian sentence, from Giordano Bruno, Opere italiane, Vol. II: Dialoghi morali...con note da Giovanni Gentile (Bari: Gius. Laterza & Figli, 1908), p. 402:

Here is the Italian of Bruno's sonnet, from Gentile's edition, pp. 402-403:
Un alan, un leon, un can appare
    A l'auror, al dì chiaro, al vespr'oscuro.
    Quel che spesi, ritegno, e mi procuro,
    Per quanto mi si diè, si dà, può dare.
Per quel che feci, faccio ed ho da fare
    Al passato, al presente ed al futuro,
    Mi pento, mi tormento, m'assicuro,
    Nel perso, nel soffrir, nell'aspettare.
Con l'agro, con l'amaro, con il dolce
    L'esperienza, i frutti, la speranza
    Mi minacciò, m'affligono, mi molce.
L'età che vissi, che vivo, ch'avanza,
    Mi fa tremante, mi scuote, mi folce,
    In absenza, presenza e lontananza.
Assai, troppo, a bastanza
    Quel di già, quel di ora, quel d'appresso
    M'hanno in timor, martir e spene messo.

Titian, Allegory of Prudence

See Erwin Panofsky (1892-1968), "Titian's Allegory of Prudence: A Postscript," in his Meaning in the Visual Arts: Papers in and on Art History (Garden City: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1955), pp. 146-168.


Monday, August 15, 2016



Deborah Hobson, "Naming Practices in Roman Egypt," Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 26.3/4 (1989) 157-174 (at 163-164):
An interesting example of this distinction between the literal and the "real" meaning of a name, and an illustration of the difficulty of using anthropological evidence to answer papyrological questions, is the case of copronyms, which have been the subject of a considerable body of scholarship. Most recently the long-prevailing theory that names based on the Greek word κόπρος ( = "dung") belong to people of slave origin has been convincingly refuted, but as yet no papyrologist has made a satisfactory explanation of why anyone would be named "Dung." A persuasive answer comes to us from the vast anthropological literature which attests to the common practice of naming; that is, for example, when a woman has had trouble conceiving a child, or has had a number of children die in infancy, she will name a new baby something negative in order to ward off the evil eye and thereby ensure the survival of her child. This phenomenon is copiously documented in various societies around the world, and makes perfect sense of the otherwise inexplicable phenomenon of copronyms. In other words, I am suggesting here that although the literal meaning of the name Κόπρος may be "dung," the true significance of the name in a particular case may be that the mother has had difficulty getting pregnant, or has lost three previous children in infancy, and is therefore choosing an apotropaic name to ward off the evil eye and ensure the survival of this child.
I haven't seen Sarah B. Pomeroy, "Copronyms and the Exposure of Infants in Egypt," in Roger S. Bagnall and William V. Harris, edd., Studies in Roman Law in Memory of A. Arthur Schiller (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1986), pp. 147-162. The word copronym doesn't appear in the Oxford English Dictionary. Copronyms exist today, e.g. Shitavious (Google it).

Related posts:



Reading Only the Beginning of Long Books

Stephanie R. West, "The Papyri of Herodotus," in Dirk Obbink and Richard Rutherford, edd., Culture in Pieces: Essays on Ancient Texts in Honour of Peter Parsons (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 69-83 (at 71):
Almost half our papyri (19) come from Book 1; Books 2 and 5 achieve quite a respectable score (six each). Book 8 has four; Book 7 three; Books 3 and 4 two each. Book 6 is not attested at all. There was nothing from Book 9 until the publication in 2004 of P.Oslo inv. 1487,10 preserving parts of 9.74–5, now in the library of the University of Oslo—just too late to get into Flower and Marincola's edition (2002).11 In antiquity, as now, only a small proportion of those who started to read long books actually finished them. Notwithstanding the Herodotean Solon's sage counsel to look to the end (1.32.9) comparatively few can have pressed on to see how Herodotus presented the conclusion of the intercontinental conflict whose origins he outlines at the start of his work. If the last chapter contains a message of profound significance for the interpretation of the Histories as a whole, the majority of readers in Roman Egypt missed it. The relative popularity of individual books is consistent with the impression we get from citations in ancient authors, both pagan and Christian; Book 1 comes top by a long way.12

11 While precise statistics relating to published papyri are subject to rapid obsolescence, the substantial group of Oxyrhynchus papyri in the pipeline confirms the general proportions, enhancing the lead of Book 1; I am very grateful to Dirk Obbink for letting me see this material.

12 Of the 27 passages from Herodotus most frequently cited by pagan and Christian writers, eleven come from Book 1: see Ehrhardt 1988, 858.
Related post: The Hawking Index.


The Natural Sciences and the Humanities

Erwin Panofsky (1892-1968), Meaning in the Visual Arts: Papers in and on Art History (Garden City: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1955), pp. 24-25 (footnote omitted):
To grasp reality we have to detach ourselves from the present. Philosophy and mathematics do this by building systems in a medium which is by definition not subject to time. Natural science and the humanities do it by creating those spatio-temporal structures which I have called the "cosmos of nature" and the "cosmos of culture." And here we touch upon what is perhaps the most fundamental difference between the humanities and the natural sciences. Natural science observes the time-bound processes of nature and tries to apprehend the timeless laws according to which they unfold. Physical observation is only possible where something "happens," that is, where a change occurs or is made to occur by way of experiment. And it is these changes which are finally symbolized by mathematical formulae. The humanities, on the other hand, are not faced by the task of arresting what otherwise would slip away, but of enlivening what otherwise would remain dead. Instead of dealing with temporal phenomena, and causing time to stop, they penetrate into a region where time has stopped of its own accord, and try to reactivate it. Gazing as they do at those frozen, stationary records of which I have said that they "emerge from the stream of time," the humanities endeavor to capture the processes in the course of which those records were produced and became what they are.

In thus endowing static records with dynamic life, instead of reducing transitory events to static laws, the humanities do not conflict with, but complement, the natural sciences. In fact these two presuppose and demand each other. Science—here understood in the true sense of the term, namely, as a serene and self-dependent pursuit of knowledge, not as something subservient to "practical" ends—and the humanities are sisters, brought forth as they are by that movement which has rightly been called the discovery (or, in a larger historical perspective, rediscovery) of both the world and man. And as they were born and reborn together, they will also die and be resurrected together if destiny so wills. If the anthropocratic civilization of the Renaissance is headed, as it seems to be, for a "Middle Ages in reverse"—a satanocracy as opposed to the mediaeval theocracy—not only the humanities but also the natural sciences, as we know them, will disappear, and nothing will be left but what serves the dictates of the subhuman. But even this will not mean the end of humanism. Prometheus could be bound and tortured, but the fire lit by his torch could not be extinguished.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


Three Latin Words

Richard Jenkyns, Virgil's Experience. Nature and History: Times, Names, and Places (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 437 (on Aeneid 3.509):
'Optatae gremio telluris'—in three Latin words all the longing for home, for roots, for mother earth is contained.


Charismatic Chaos

Roger S. Bagnall, "Alan Edouard Samuel (1932-2008)," Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 46 (2009) 7-9 (at 8-9):
He was also a gifted teacher, even if not always in conventional ways. I remember vividly how he would come into class at Yale juggling a cup of coffee, a stack of Loebs, a cigarette, and some papers, proceeding to talk about some stretch of classical Greek history in what seemed like a largely impromptu performance, not always apparently very well organized, but full of original insights. He seemed to assume that opening up the ancient text, quoting it, and explaining its problems as if in a scholarly discussion would work with an undergraduate class, and for the most part it did. One might, without great exaggeration, describe the method as charismatic chaos.

Saturday, August 13, 2016


Editing Fragments

Dirk Obbink, "Vanishing Conjecture: Lost Books and their Recovery from Aristotle to Eco," in Dirk Obbink and Richard Rutherford, edd., Culture in Pieces: Essays on Ancient Texts in Honour of Peter Parsons (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 20-49 (at 39-40):
Those who collect fragments get used to following certain rules.

1. Don't split up integral fragments into smaller units (i.e. don't atomize the fragmentary tradition further).

2. Distinguish direct quotation from paraphrase or adaptation.

3. Pay close attention to context. Albert Henrichs has said that 'collections of fragments are both a blessing and a curse', the latter because they remove material from its original context, thus obscuring the readerly signs that signal the way it was intended to be (and obviously was) understood when it is quoted. Therefore one should not make the pericope (the amount of surrounding context to be included with a fragment or quotation being studied) too narrow. To pay attention to and when necessary to reconstruct the original context of a fragment is as important as reconstructing the original work from which it was derived, and may be our only key to it. In addition, it provides an unexpected bonus in the form of a received and in many ways new fragment.

4. You must already in a sense know what the text says before you can read or restore it. New knowledge comes by way of correction and refinement or from the new context gained. It may link to another piece of the puzzle. When William of Baskerville, the Franciscan monk and detective in Eco's The Name of the Rose, finally lays hands on the long-lost second book of Aristotle’s Poetics, he 'smiled as he read it, as if he recognized the things he expected to find'. And when questioned by the murderer Jorge as to how he knew it was the second book of Aristotle, he explains that he pieced it together from facts dropped in conversation with the murderer and knowing that these were mentioned in Aristotle's Rhetoric and the first book of the Poetics, together with a definition of comedy preserved in Isidore: 'Gradually it took shape in my mind, as it had to be. I could tell you almost all of it, without reading the pages that were meant to poison me'. Another way of putting this is, as Lionel Pearson once told me, 'You have to read the books that don’t survive before you can understand the ones that do.'

5. Never emend the text at or in a lacuna (Youtie's first law).

6. Always assume that the text makes sense. Even a corrupt one is easier to correct if you start from this principle, and even a sound text is unreadable if you don't.
5: R. Merkelbach, "Lex Youtie," Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 38 (1980) 294, first named this law (iuxta lacunam ne mutaveris) after Herbert C. Youtie. See also Marco Fassino, "Sulla cosiddetta 'Lex Youtie'," Rivista di Filologia e di Istruzione Classica 126 (1998) 72-75; R. Merkelbach, "Iuxta lacunam ne mutaveris," Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 142 (2003) 34; and Nikolaos Gonis, "A.S. Hunt and 'Youtie's Law'," Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 151 (2005) 166. Gonis, n. 4, quotes a passage relevant to Obbink's 6th rule, from G. Levi Della Vida, "Remarks on a Recent Edition of Arabic Papyrus Letters," Journal of the American Oriental Society 64.3 (July-September, 1944) 127-137 (at 129):
Two elementary methodological criteria seem to have remained unknown to him [Karl Jahn]: first, that a newly discovered text, whatsoever its origin and character may be, must make reasonable sense, and, secondly, that its language is not expected to differ from the standard grammar and style of the linguistic area to which it belongs. To be sure, the contents of private letters are sometimes cryptic, since they often mention details which were familiar to the writers and addressees, while they remain unknown to us. However, when the things which they seem to say are absurd or meaningless, our first reaction ought to be to doubt the correctness of our interpretation rather than the soundness of their minds.
The Lex Youtie isn't included in Klaas A. Worp, "Youtie's 'Guidelines'," Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 37.1/4 (2000) 111-115, but I like Youtie's penultimate guideline (at 113):
Make sure of your accents at all times. Nothing so quickly repels a Greek scholar as false accents.

Friday, August 12, 2016


Space and Time

Erwin Panofsky (1892-1968), Meaning in the Visual Arts: Papers in and on Art History (Garden City: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1955), p. 7 (footnote omitted):
Every historical concept is obviously based on the categories of space and time. The records, and what they imply, have to be dated and located. But it turns out that these two acts are in reality two aspects of one. If I date a picture about 1400, this statement would be meaningless if I could not indicate where it could have been produced at that date; conversely, if I ascribe a picture to the Florentine school, I must be able to tell when it could have been produced in that school. The cosmos of culture, like the cosmos of nature, is a spatio-temporal structure. The year 1400 means something different in Venice from what it means in Florence, to say nothing of Augsburg, or Russia, or Constantinople. Two historical phenomena are simultaneous, or have a determinable temporal relation to each other, only in so far as they can be related within one "frame of reference," in the absence of which the very concept of simultaneity would be as meaningless in history as it would in physics. If we knew by some concatenation of circumstances that a certain Negro sculpture had been executed in 1510, it would be meaningless to say that it was "contemporaneous" with Michelangelo's Sistine ceiling.



Ovid, Art of Love 1.237-242 (tr. J.H. Mozley):
Wine gives courage and makes men apt for passion; care flees and is drowned in much wine. Then laughter comes, then even the poor find vigour, then sorrow and care and the wrinkles of the brow depart. Then simplicity, most rare in our age, lays bare the mind, when the god dispels all craftiness.

vina parant animos faciuntque caloribus aptos:
    cura fugit multo diluiturque mero.
tunc veniunt risus, tum pauper cornua sumit,
    tum dolor et curae rugaque frontis abit.        240
tunc aperit mentes aevo rarissima nostro
    simplicitas, artes excutiente deo.
Related posts:


The Father of Lies?

Stephanie R. West, "The Papyri of Herodotus," in Dirk Obbink and Richard Rutherford, edd., Culture in Pieces: Essays on Ancient Texts in Honour of Peter Parsons (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 69-83 (at 76, n. 31):
During the Second World War a handy Penguin selection from Herodotus appeared not in the dark blue covers appropriate to history but in the orange covers characterizing general fiction (The Penguin Herodotus, edited by A. J. Evans, Penguin Fiction No. 330; Harmondsworth. 1941).

Thursday, August 11, 2016


True Worth

Tyrtaeus, fragment 12 (tr. M.L. West):
I would not rate a man worth mention or account
    either for speed of foot or wrestling skill,
not even if he had a Cyclops' size and strength
    or could outrun the fierce north wind of Thrace;
I would not care if he surpassed Tithonus' looks,        5
    or Cinyras' or Midas' famous wealth,
or were more royal than Pelops son of Tantalus,
    or had Adrastus' smooth persuasive tongue,
or fame for everything save only valour: no,
    no man's of high regard in time of war        10
unless he can endure the sight of blood and death,
    and stand close to the enemy, and fight.

This is the highest worth, the finest human prize
    and fairest for a bold young man to win.
It benefits the whole community and state,        15
    when with a firm stance in the foremost rank
a man bides steadfast, with no thought of shameful flight,
    laying his life and stout heart on the line,
and standing by the next man speaks encouragement.
    This is the man of worth in time of war.        20
Soon he turns back the foemen's sharp-edged battle lines
    and strenuously stems the tide of arms;
his own dear life he loses, in the front line felled,
    his breast, his bossed shield pierced by many a wound,
and of his corselet all the front, but he has brought        25
    glory upon his father, army, town.

His death is mourned alike by young and old, the whole
    community feels the keen loss its own.
People point out his tomb, his children in the street,
    his children's children and posterity.        30
His name and glorious reputation never die;
    he is immortal even in his grave,
that man the furious War-god kills as he defends
    his soil and children with heroic stand.
Or if in winning his proud spear-vaunt he escapes        35
    the doom of death and grief's long shadow-cast,
then all men do him honour, young and old alike;
    much joy is his before he goes below.
He grows old in celebrity, and no one thinks
    to cheat him out of his due respect and rights,        40
but all men at the public seats make room for him,
    the young, the old, and those his own age.

This is the excellence whose heights one now must seek
    to scale, by not relenting in the fight.

οὔτ᾿ ἂν μνησαίμην οὔτ᾿ ἐν λόγῳ ἄνδρα τιθείμην
    οὔτε ποδῶν ἀρετῆς οὔτε παλαιμοσύνης,
οὐδ᾿ εἰ Κυκλώπων μὲν ἔχοι μέγεθός τε βίην τε,
    νικῴη δὲ θέων Θρηΐκιον Βορέην,
οὐδ᾿ εἰ Τιθωνοῖο φυὴν χαριέστερος εἴη,        5
    πλουτοίη δὲ Μίδεω καὶ Κινύρεω μάλιον,
οὐδ᾿ εἰ Τανταλίδεω Πέλοπος βασιλεύτερος εἴη,
    γλῶσσαν δ᾿ Ἀδρήστου μειλιχόγηρυν ἔχοι,
οὐδ᾿ εἰ πᾶσαν ἔχοι δόξαν πλὴν θούριδος ἀλκῆς·
    οὐ γὰρ ἀνὴρ ἀγαθὸς γίνεται ἐν πολέμῳ        10
εἰ μὴ τετλαίη μὲν ὁρῶν φόνον αἱματόεντα,
    καὶ δηίων ὀρέγοιτ᾿ ἐγγύθεν ἱστάμενος.

ἥδ᾿ ἀρετή, τόδ᾿ ἄεθλον ἐν ἀνθρώποισιν ἄριστον
    κάλλιστόν τε φέρειν γίνεται ἀνδρὶ νέῳ.
ξυνὸν δ᾿ ἐσθλὸν τοῦτο πόληί τε παντί τε δήμῳ,        15
    ὅστις ἀνὴρ διαβὰς ἐν προμάχοισι μένῃ
νωλεμέως, αἰσχρῆς δὲ φυγῆς ἐπὶ πάγχυ λάθηται,
    ψυχὴν καὶ θυμὸν τλήμονα παρθέμενος,
θαρσύνῃ δ᾿ ἔπεσιν τὸν πλησίον ἄνδρα παρεστώς·
    οὗτος ἀνὴρ ἀγαθὸς γίνεται ἐν πολέμῳ.        20
αἶψα δὲ δυσμενέων ἀνδρῶν ἔτρεψε φάλαγγας
    τρηχείας, σπουδῇ δ᾿ ἔσχεθε κῦμα μάχης.
αὐτὸς δ᾿ ἐν προμάχοισι πεσὼν φίλον ὤλεσε θυμόν,
    ἄστυ τε καὶ λαοὺς καὶ πατέρ᾿ εὐκλεΐσας,
πολλὰ διὰ στέρνοιο καὶ ἀσπίδος ὀμφαλοέσσης        25
    καὶ διὰ θώρηκος πρόσθεν ἐληλαμένος.

τὸν δ᾿ ὀλοφύρονται μὲν ὁμῶς νέοι ἠδὲ γέροντες,
    ἀργαλέῳ δὲ πόθῳ πᾶσα κέκηδε πόλις,
καὶ τύμβος καὶ παῖδες ἐν ἀνθρώποις ἀρίσημοι
    καὶ παίδων παῖδες καὶ γένος ἐξοπίσω·        30
οὐδέ ποτε κλέος ἐσθλὸν ἀπόλλυται οὐδ᾿ ὄνομ᾿ αὐτοῦ,
    ἀλλ᾿ ὑπὸ γῆς περ ἐὼν γίνεται ἀθάνατος,
ὅντιν᾿ ἀριστεύοντα μένοντά τε μαρνάμενόν τε
    γῆς πέρι καὶ παίδων θοῦρος Ἄρης ὀλέσῃ.
εἰ δὲ φύγῃ μὲν κῆρα τανηλεγέος θανάτοιο,        35
    νικήσας δ᾿ αἰχμῆς ἀγλαὸν εὖχος ἕλῃ,
πάντες μιν τιμῶσιν, ὁμῶς νέοι ἠδὲ παλαιοί,
    πολλὰ δὲ τερπνὰ παθὼν ἔρχεται εἰς Ἀΐδην,
γηράσκων δ᾿ ἀστοῖσι μεταπρέπει, οὐδέ τις αὐτὸν
    βλάπτειν οὔτ᾿ αἰδοῦς οὔτε δίκης ἐθέλει,        40
πάντες δ᾿ ἐν θώκοισιν ὁμῶς νέοι οἵ τε κατ᾿ αὐτὸν
    εἴκουσ᾿ ἐκ χώρης οἵ τε παλαιότεροι.

ταύτης νῦν τις ἀνὴρ ἀρετῆς εἰς ἄκρον ἱκέσθαι
    πειράσθω θυμῷ μὴ μεθιεὶς πολέμου.
Werner Jaeger, Paideia: The Ideals of Greek Culture, tr. Gilbert Highet, Vol. I (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1946), pp. 91-93 (notes omitted):
Tyrtaeus exalts true areté above the other goods which his contemporaries believed could give a man true worth and esteem. 'I would' not,' he says, 'mention or take account of a man for the prowess of his feet or for his wrestling, even if he had the stature and strength of the Cyclopes and outran the Thracian Boreas.' These are exaggerated instances of the athletic areté which had been admired, above all else by the aristocracy ever since Homer's day; during the previous century, because of the rise of the Olympic Games, it had come to be regarded even by the common people as the highest pinnacle of human achievement. Tyrtaeus now adds other virtues admired by the old nobility. 'And were he more beautiful in face and body than Tithonus, and richer than Midas and Cinyras, and more kingly than Tantalus' son Pelops, and sweeter of tongue than Adrastus, I would not honour him for these things, even if he had every glory except warlike valour. For no one is a good man in war, unless he can bear to see bloody slaughter and can press hard on the enemy, standing face to face. That is areté!' cries Tyrtaeus in a transport of emotion, 'that is the best and fairest prize which a young man can win among men. That is a good which is common to all—to the city and the whole people—when a man takes his stand and holds his ground relentlessly among the foremost fighters and casts away all thought of shameful flight.' We must not call this 'late rhetoric'. Solon speaks in the same way. The origins of rhetorical style go far back into history. Tyrtaeus' excited repetitions are prompted by the deep emotion with which he asks his central question—what is true areté? The usual answers to that question are one by one rejected, in the powerful negations of the first ten or twelve lines; all the lofty ideals of the old Greek aristocracy are removed to a lower plane, although not wholly denied or superseded; and then, when the poet has raised his audience to a high pitch of excitement, he proclaims the severe new ideal of citizenship. There is only one standard of true areté—the common good of the polis. Whatever helps the community is good, whatever injures it is bad.

From this, he passes naturally to eulogies of the reward which a man wins by sacrificing himself for his country, whether he falls in battle or returns home triumphant. 'But he who falls among the foremost fighters and loses his dear life in winning glory for his city and his fellow-citizens and his father—his breast and his bossed shield and his breastplate pierced with many wounds in front—he is lamented by young and old together, and the whole city mourns for him in sad grief; and his tomb and his children are honoured among men, and his children's children likewise and his whole race after him; never is his name and fair fame destroyed, but though he lies beneath the earth he becomes immortal.' The glory of a Homeric hero, however widely it is disseminated by the wandering bard, is nothing to the glory of a simple Spartan warrior, as Tyrtaeus describes it, laid up for ever deep in the hearts of his people. The close community of the city-state, which seemed at the beginning of the poem to be only an obligation, now appears as a privilege and an honour: it is the source of all ideal values. The first part states the heroic ideal of areté in terms of the city-state. The second restates, in the same terms, the heroic ideal of glory. Areté and glory are inseparable in the epic. Glory is now to be given, and areté to be exercised, by and in the city-state. The polis lives when the individual dies; and so it is a safe guardian of the 'name' and, with it, of the future life of a hero.

The early Greeks did not believe in the immortality of the soul. A man was dead when his body died. What Homer calls the psyché is a reflection or wraith of the physical body, a shadow living in Hades, a nothing. But if a man crossed the frontiers of ordinary human existence and reached a higher life by sacrificing himself for his country, then the polis could give him immortality by perpetuating his ideal personality, his 'name'. This political idea of heroism became dominant with the rise of the city-state, and remained so throughout Greek history. Man as a political being reaches perfection by the perpetuation of his memory in the community for which he lived or died. It was only when the value of the state, and indeed of all earthly life, began to be questioned, and the value of the individual soul to be exalted—a process which culminated in Christianity—that philosophers came to preach the duty of despising fame. Even in the political thought of Demosthenes and Cicero there is no trace of this change; while Tyrtaeus' elegies represent the first stage in the development of city-state morality. It is the polis which guards and immortalizes the dead hero, and it is the polis which exalts the victorious warrior who returns alive. 'He is honoured by all, young and old together; his life brings him much happiness, and no one will offer him insult or injury. As he grows old, he is respected among the citizens, and wherever he goes all make way for him, both the youth and the elders.' This is not merely rhetoric. The early Greek city-state was small, but it had something truly heroic and truly human in its nature. Greece, and in fact all the ancient world, held the hero to be the highest type of humanity.
See also Robert D. Luginbill, "Tyrtaeus 12 West: Come Join the Spartan Army," Classical Quarterly 52 (2002) 405-414.

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