Thursday, September 21, 2017


The Incubus of Research

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), "Interim Report," Present Concerns, ed. Walter Hooper (San Diego: Harcourt, Inc., c1986), pp. 92-99 (at 98-99):
The other evil (in my view) is the incubus of "Research". The system was, I believe, first devised to attract the Americans and to emulate the scientists. But the wisest Americans are themselves already sick of it; as one of them said to me "I guess we got to come to giving every citizen a Ph.D shortly after birth, same as baptism and vaccination." And it is surely clear by now that the needs of the humanities are different from those of the sciences. In science, I gather, a young man fresh from his First in the Tripos can really share in the work of one of his seniors in a way that is useful to himself and even to the subject. But this is not true of the man who has just got his First in English or Modern Languages. Such a man, far from being able or anxious (he is by definition no fool) to add to the sum of human knowledge, wants to acquire a good deal more of the knowledge we already have. He has lately begun to discover how many more things he needs to know in order to follow up his budding interests; that he needs economics, or theology, or philosophy, or archaeology (and always a few more languages). To head him off from these studies, to pinfold him in some small inquiry whose chief claim often is that no one has ever made it before, is cruel and frustrating. It wastes such years as he will never have again; for an old proverb says that "All the speed is in the morning". What keeps the system going is the fact that it becomes increasingly difficult to get an academic job without a "research degree". Can the two ancient universities do anything by combining to break down this bad usage?
I'm reminded of William M. Calder III, "Benedict Einarson," Gnomon 51 (1979) 207-208 (at 207):
He told me aged 25 that I must write nothing until 40 for I would not know enough. Sound advice and true but I should be a schoolteacher today had I followed it.
Hat tip: George Gaiennie.


Read and Reread

Leo Spitzer (1887-1960), "Linguistics and Literary History," Linguistics and Literary History: Essays in Stylistics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1948; rpt. 2015), pp. 1-39 (at 27):
[H]ow often, with all the theoretical experience of method accumulated in me over the years, have I stared blankly, quite similar to one of my beginning students, at a page that would not yield its magic. The only way leading out of this state of unproductivity is to read and reread, patiently and confidently, in an endeavor to become, as it were, soaked through and through with the atmosphere of the work. And suddenly one word, one line, stands out, and we realize that, now, a relationship has been established between the poem and us. From this point, I have usually found that, what with other observations adding themselves to the first, and with previous experiences of the circles intervening, and with associations given by previous education building up before me (all of this quickened, in my own case, by a quasi-metaphysical urge toward solution) it does not seem long until the characteristic "click" occurs, which is the indication that detail and whole have found a common denominator — which gives the etymology of the writing. And looking back on this process (whose end, of course, marks only the conclusion of the preliminary stage of analysis), how can we say when exactly it began? (Even the "first step" was preconditioned.) We see, indeed, that to read is to have read, to understand is equivalent to having understood.
Ian Jackson (per litteras), in response to my query about Spitzer's unusual use of the word etymology:
Spitzer's usage certainly seems rare, as he seems to realize by putting the word in quotation marks in the appended footnote (no.19 on p.38), but is consistent with his usage of "etymon" on page 11 ("the common spiritual etymon, the psychological root"). The OED does, however, give one or two citations not linked to words — see 2a (a), where the quotation from 1604 simply says "true expounding" and from 1681, "true explanation of interpretation of a thing". Using the latter gloss, the relevant phrase could be re-written as "detail and whole have found a common denominator — which gives the true interpretation of the writing".

Wednesday, September 20, 2017



Petronius, Satyricon 108.10, text and translation from the Loeb Classical Library edition by Michael Heseltine, rev. E.H Warmington (1969; rpt. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975), pp. 260-261:
Tunc fortissimus Giton ad virilia sua admovit novaculam infestam, minatus se abscisurum tot miseriarum causam...

Then the gallant Giton turned a razor against his genitals and threatened to put an end to our troubles by self-mutilation...
The translation has suffered some mutilation. It omits infestam (= harmful, dangerous, modifying razor), which is Pithoeus' correction for the infertam or insertam of the manuscripts.

There was even more mutilation in Heseltine's original 1922 translation, which cut out genitals (virilia) altogether:
Then the gallant Giton turned a razor on himself and threatened to put an end to our troubles by self-mutilation...


Term of Abuse

Michael Holquist, "Forgetting Our Name, Remembering Our Mother," PMLA 115.7 (December, 2000) 1975-1977 (at 1976):
Philology is widely thought to be dead. Moreover, her corpse, like that of Father Zosima, gives off an unpleasant odor. Her name has become a term of abuse. "Philologist" is what you call the dull boys and girls of the profession.
The American Philological Association, a few years ago, changed its name to The Society for Classical Studies.


Near-Death Experience

Emilio Segrè (1905-1989), A Mind Always in Motion: The Autobiography of Emilio Segrè (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), pp. 121-122:
While at Civitavecchia, in the deep of night, I received a telephone call with the news that my father, who was at Tivoli with my mother, had been taken gravely ill. Shortly thereafter Bindo Rimini arrived by car and took me to Tivoli, where I found my mother, Riccardo Rimini, and Marco. My father was in a coma, and according to Riccardo, an excellent doctor whom we all trusted, there was little hope of his surviving. A few hours passed, and the situation was unchanged. Somehow rumors of my father's state spread, and people from the paper mill and city authorities made discreet, concerned inquiries. Somebody even started thinking about funeral arrangements.

No signs of improvement appeared. In the afternoon, the patient, still in a coma, passed a lot of wind, and then loudly and clearly spoke some famous lines from Torquato Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata (my translation):
The raucous sound of the Tartarean bugle
Calls the inhabitants of the eternal shadows.
My mother, who was at her husband's bedside, almost fainted. We all rushed in, and to everybody's amazement, my father regained consciousness. In a few hours he was greatly improved. For about a week he slightly dragged one leg in walking, but soon he totally recovered, without visible trace of what had happened in either body or mind. We had been terribly scared. My father's comment was: "Now I know what there is in the beyond: nothing."
Tasso in the Italian (Canto IV, 3:1-2):
Chiama gli abitator de l'ombre eterne
il rauco suon de la tartarea tromba.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

Related post: Death Knell.



Joy Over the Captured Worm

Friedrich Nietzsche, letter to Erwin Rohde (November 20, 1868; tr. Christopher Middleton):
To see again from close at hand the seething brood of the philologists of our time, and every day having to observe all their moleish pullulating, the baggy cheeks and the blind eyes, their joy at capturing worms and their indifference to the true problems, the urgent problems of life — not only the young ones doing it, but also the old, full-grown ones — all this makes me see more and more clearly that the two of us, if this is to be our only means of remaining true to the spirit in us, shall not go our way in life without a variety of offenses and intrigues.

Jetzt wo ich wieder das wimmelnde Philologengezücht unserer Tage aus der Nähe sehe, wo ich das ganze Maulwurfstreiben, die vollen Backentaschen und die blinden Augen, die Freude ob des erbeuteten Wurms und die Gleichgültigkeit gegen die wahren, ja aufdringlichen Probleme des Lebens täglich beobachten muß und nicht nur an der jungen Brut, sondern an den ausgewachsenen Alten: da kommt es mir immer begreiflicher vor, daß wir beide, falls wir nur sonst unserm Genius treu bleiben, nicht ohne mannichfache Anstöße und Quertreibereien unsern Lebensweg gehen werden.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


Wise Counsel

Persius 5.151 (tr. Susanna Morton Braund, with her note):
Enjoy yourself,35 let's grab our pleasures.

35 Lit. "give your Genius (i.e. appetites) free play."

indulge genio, carpamus dulcia.
R.A. Harvey ad loc.:

As preserved in Montpellier, Bibliothèque universitaire de médecine, ms. 125 (9th century, aka Codex Pithoeanus), fol. 11r (click twice with Chrome browser to enlarge):


Aversion to Bird Song

Obituary of Francis Jacox (1825-1897), in The Eagle: A Magazine Supported by Members of St. John's College 20 (1898) 90-91 (at 90):
He was of somewhat eccentric habits, living almost altogether by himself and avoiding those who lived with him. Latterly his household consisted of but one old housekeeper who often did not see him for days, leaving his meals outside his study or bedroom door. Oddly enough although otherwise fond of country life he detested the song and sounds of birds. He kept a long pole in his bedroom with which he used to frighten away the starlings, which gathered about the eaves and gutters of his cottage, by protruding it through the open window as he lay in bed in the morning.
In the same magazine, there are some verses "Ad Poetas Aquilinos" by "The Wollerer's Ghost" (pp. 22-24), with the following good advice:
At least avoid one subject: 'tis the curse
Of modern, and especially minor verse,—
Yourself: pray don't indecently expose
Your naked soul, with all its passion-throes,
Its chance abrasions, and its foolish fears,
Its whines, its wrigglings, and its sloppy tears.
If passion's pains press potent on your chest,
Sing of your supper: we'll infer the rest.

Then be more private; show not every eye
Your heart's uncouth ill-oiled machinery.
'A human document'? Come, take the hint:
It doesn't follow that it's fit to print.
Joel Eidsath (per litteras) thinks that Robert Henry Forster (1867-1923) wrote these verses, and I think he's right.

Monday, September 18, 2017


Must and Mould

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), Untimely Meditations (Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen), II: "On the Use and Abuse of History for Life" ("Vom Nutzen und Nachtheil der Historie für das Leben"), § 3 (tr. R.J. Hollingdale):
Antiquarian history itself degenerates from the moment it is no longer animated and inspired by the fresh life of the present. Its piety withers away, the habit of scholarliness continues without it and rotates in egoistic self-satisfaction around its own axis. Then there appears the repulsive spectacle of a blind rage for collecting, a restless raking together of everything that has ever existed. Man is encased in the stench of must and mould; through the antiquarian approach he succeeds in reducing even a more creative disposition, a nobler desire, to an insatiable thirst for novelty, or rather for antiquity and for all and everything; often he sinks so low that in the end he is content to gobble down any food whatever, even the dust of bibliographical minutiae.

Die antiquarische Historie entartet selbst in dem Augenblicke, in dem das frische Leben der Gegenwart sie nicht mehr beseelt und begeistert. Jetzt dorrt die Pietät ab, die gelehrtenhafte Gewöhnung besteht ohne sie fort und dreht sich egoistisch—selbstgefällig um ihren eignen Mittelpunkt. Dann erblickt man wohl das widrige Schauspiel einer blinden Sammelwuth, eines rastlosen Zusammenscharrens alles einmal Dagewesenen. Der Mensch hüllt sich in Moderduft; es gelingt ihm selbst eine bedeutendere Anlage, ein edleres Bedürfniss durch die antiquarische Manier zu unersättlicher Neubegier, richtiger Alt- und Allbegier herabzustimmen; oftmals sinkt er so tief, dass er zuletzt mit jeder Kost zufrieden ist und mit Lust selbst den Staub bibliographischer Quisquilien frisst.


Either This or Upon This

Plutarch, Moralia 241 F (Sayings of Spartan Women; tr. Frank Cole Babbitt with his note):
Another, as she handed her son his shield, exhorted him, saying, "Either this or upon this."b

b Referred to Gorgo as the author by Aristotle in his Aphorisms, as quoted by Stobaeus, Florilegium, vii.31, but it is often spoken of as a regular Spartan custom. Cf., for example, the scholium on Thucydides, ii.39.

Ancient writers were not agreed whether the second half meant to fall upon the shield (dead or wounded) or to be brought home dead upon it. In support of the second (traditional) interpretation cf. Moralia, 235A, and Valerius Maximus, II.7, ext. 2.

ἄλλη προσαναδιδοῦσα τῷ παιδὶ τὴν ἀσπίδα καὶ παρακελευομένη, "τέκνον," ἔφη, "ἢ τὰν ἢ ἐπὶ τᾶς."
Items confiscated by St. Louis police from rioter:

Valerius Maximus 2.7 ext. 2 (tr. D.R. Shackleton Bailey):
They were not surprised at the general's precept, remembering the maternal coaxing whereby those going forth to battle were told to come back to their mothers' sight alive with their shields or be brought back upon them dead. That was the watchword the Spartan warriors received within the walls of their homes before they fought.

idque a duce praecipi non mirabantur, maternarum blanditiarum memores quibus exituri ad proeliandum monebantur ut aut vivi cum armis in conspectum earum venirent aut mortui in armis referrentur. hoc intra domesticos parietes accepto signo Spartanae acies dimicabant.
See Mason Hammond, "A Famous Exemplum of Spartan Toughness," Classical Journal 75.2 (December 1979-January 1980) 97-109.

Dear Mr. Gilleland,

With regard to your recent post on Spartan women, you might be interested in this monument on the campus of Penn State, commemorating a fallen graduate. It’s a beautiful monument. I pass it 3 times a week on my way to class. It represents a shield, surmounted by the motto.

John Repsher

The fallen graduate is Lt. Michael P. Murphy, USN (1976-2005):


A House Full of Books

Saraband: The Memoirs of E.L. Mascall (Leominster: Gracewing, 1992; rpt. 1995), pp. 219-220 (on Claude Jenkins, Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History and Canon of Christ Church, Oxford):
His sole extravagance was the purchase of books, of which at his death he had, I believe, thirty thousand. He spent his vacations at either Malvern or Tunbridge Wells, in both of which towns there were secondhand bookshops of which he must have been one of the principal customers. Shortly after his return at the beginning of each term several crates full of spoils would be delivered at his lodging; many of these remained unpacked to the time of his death, for they had simply overwhelmed him. Many of them were the kind of books — Victorian parish histories and the like — which one can hardly imagine anyone wanting but which, if anyone did want them, it might be impossible to find. In spite of its size the house was inadequate to accommodate them; in the corners of each room piles of books were thrown down anyhow like sand in the corner of a builder's yard, and the bath, which was not used for its normal purpose, was a kind of dump for odd printed scraps. It was only just possible to push one's way up the staircase, for on every step there were piles of books extending high out of reach; in fact the view of the staircase-wall reminded me of a sectional diagram of geological strata in an atlas, and one could see how the conformation had readjusted itself after a cataclysm had occurred through a removal of the book from one of its lower levels. He was very indignant at the suggestion that books were ever stolen from libraries and insisted that apparent thefts were in fact cases of absent-mindedness; this may be true to some extent, for it would be absurd to give any other explanation for the books which were found in his house after his death. He once showed me a book which contained the plate of a well-known library and in which he had inserted a signed declaration that he had bought it in a shop and not stolen it from the library; otherwise, he said, someone doing research would defame him posthumously. I remarked that I thought this a very poor safeguard, since anyone suspecting him of theft would be equally ready to accuse him of perjury.
Hat tip: Nigel Preston-Jones.

Sunday, September 17, 2017


Aftermath of Hurricane Irma


A Petronian Tobspruch

Petronius, Satyricon 92.11:
tanto magis expedit inguina quam ingenia fricare.

expedit Dousa: impedit codd.: impendit: Erhard
In Michael Heseltine's original translation of Petronius for the Loeb Classical Library series (1913), this was left untranslated. In E.H. Warmington's revision (1969), it was translated (with footnote) thus:
So much the greater gain is it to rub groins than geniuses.1

1 The meaning seems to be that it is more important to stir up one's sexual than one's mental powers.
Some have attempted to reproduce the word-play, e.g. J.P. Sullivan:
A polished wick is much more profitable than a polished wit.
Cf. Erich Segal, "Arbitrary Satyricon: Petronius & Fellini," Diacritics 1.1 (Autumn, 1971) 54-57 (at 55):
In life you make it better with a stroke of "penius" than a stroke of genius.
On fricare see J.N. Adams, The Latin Sexual Vocabulary (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982; rpt. 1993), p. 184.

Related posts:


A Dying Art

Jonathan Barnes, "Bagpipe music," Topoi 25 (2006) 17–20 (at 17-18; TLG = Thesaurus Linguae Graecae):
You can't do anything at all in ancient philosophy unless you know a bit of Greek and Latin, and you can't do anything worthwhile in ancient philosophy unless you are a semi-decent classical scholar. But classical scholarship is a dying art: there aren't as many scholars as there used to be, and their grasp of the ancient languages and the ancient world weakens and trembles. What's more, fewer and fewer of them care to take up the philosophy of Greece and Rome.

This state of affairs is exacerbated by a device known as the TLG. Load it into your laptop, and you have instant access to virtually the whole of Greek literature. You cut and paste snippets from authors whose very names mean nothing to you. You affirm—and you're right—that a particular word used here by Plato occurs 43 times elsewhere in Greek literature. And you can write an article—or a book—stuffed with prodigious learning. (There are similar things available for Latin.)

The TLG is a lovely little resource (I think that's the word), and I use her all the time. But she's strumpet-tongued: she flatters and she deceives. "What an enormous knowledge you have, my young cock—why not let me make a real scholar of you?" And the young cock crows on his dung-hill: he can cite anything and construe nothing.

"Come, Terence, this is sorry guff ... Exactly a century ago Ingram Bywater wrote this: 'I see the handwriting on the wall everywhere—even in Germany, and am not hopeful as to the future of the old humanities.' How wrong he was. And as for today, see what the editors say in the latest fascicule of the Classical Review: 'for the first time since 2000, the number of items in an issue has topped 200; as usual, the multitude and range testify to the vitality of the discipline.' You see mildew and aphids everywhere; and all the while the roses are blooming in the rose-garden."

Bywater was indeed wrong. (What convinced him that the end was nigh was the fact that the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge no longer required students of physics and chemistry to have a firm grounding in Greek.) But today—today things are different. The editors of the Review are whistling in the dark. True, unnumbered slabs of matter are unloaded at the bookshop doors; true, the slabs come in an unprecedentedly broad range of colours. But numbers are no proof of vitality; and the new colours are those of narratology, and metatextuality, and gender studies, and God knows what else.

"Come come, Terence, you're over-egging it. I'll allow that 90% of the books and articles published in ancient philosophy are worthless. But wasn't it always so? I'll allow that there is little which is epoch-making or path-breaking. But epochs aren't made every year nor paths broken once a month. Regard things with a judicious eye: doesn't every year see one or even two thoroughly decent new books, and two or even four thoroughly decent new articles? And were things ever really much better than that?"

Yes, they were. As far as philologically informed work on ancient philosophy is concerned, things were better fifty years ago.

Saturday, September 16, 2017



Robert Byron (1905-1941), The Station: Travels to the Holy Mountain of Greece (1928; rpt. London: Tauris Parke Paperbacks, 2011), p. 111:
He was a typical Greek of the middle class, enthralled by politics, religious believer in the Hellenic destiny. Anglophil, anxious to be of assistance, boundlessly conceited, yet, save when enlarging on a favourite subject, unobtrusive. During a conversation, I mistook the meaning of a word for another outside the context in which he had used it. This led him to a new field.

"Every word in Greek," he said, "has ten meanings, and every meaning ten words. You need to know each one. Greek is the most beautiful of all languages. The Bible and all the holy works were written in it."

"The Gospels, for instance," I interpolated, wishing to seem intelligent.

"Yes, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John the Theologian all used it. Yet they were not Greeks. But the Holy Ghost descended with the gift of tongues——"

"Ah! Of course, the Holy Ghost was Greek."

Whereat Father Methodius, handing a dish of stuffed tomatoes, exploded into giggles; and the guest, his peroration marred, groaned, protesting and reiterative, that this was not the case. I recount the anecdote with pride, as it is not easy to hoist a Greek neatly on his own petard.

Friday, September 15, 2017


Modern Education

Petronius, Satyricon 88.6 (tr. Michael Heseltine, rev. E.H. Warmington):
We slander the past, and learn and teach nothing but vices.

accusatores antiquitatis vitia tantum docemus et discimus.

Thursday, September 14, 2017


When You Gotta Go, You Gotta Go

Robert Burton (1577-1640), Anatomy of Melancholy, Part. 1, Sect. 2, Memb. 3, Subs. 6:
A grave & learned Minister, and an ordinary Preacher at Alcmar in Holland, was one day (as he walked in the fields for his recreation) suddenly taken with a laske or loosenesse, and thereupon compelled to retire to the next ditch; but being surprised at unawars, by some Gentlewomen of his Parish wandering that way; kwas so abashed, that he did never after shew his head in publike, or come into the Pulpet, but pined away with Melancholy: (Pet. Forestus med. observat. lib. 10, observat. 12.)

k Propter ruborem confusus, statim cepit delirare, &c. ob suspicionem quod vili illum crimine accusarent.
Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. lask, n.1, sense 1:
Looseness of the bowels, diarrhoea; an attack of this.
I'm reminded of Diogenes Laertius 6.94 (tr. R.D. Hicks):
Metrocles of Maroneia was the brother of Hipparchia. He had been formerly a pupil of Theophrastus the Peripatetic, and had been so far corrupted by weakness that, when he made a breach of good manners in the course of rehearsing a speech, it drove him to despair, and he shut himself up at home, intending to starve himself to death. On learning this Crates came to visit him as he had been asked to do, and after advisedly making a meal of lupins, he tried to persuade him by argument as well that he had committed no crime, for a prodigy would have happened if he had not taken the natural means of relieving himself. At last by reproducing the action he succeeded in lifting him from his dejection, using for his consolation the likeness of the occurrences. From that time forward Metrocles was his pupil, and became proficient in philosophy.
Euphemisms in the translation obscure somewhat the point of this story. "When he made a breach of good manners" and "by reproducing the action" are both the same word in the original Greek, ἀποπαρδών, aorist participle of ἀποπέρδομαι, fart.

It might seem improbable that shame at this "breach of good manners" would lead Metrocles to the contemplation of suicide. But a similar embarrassment drove Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, into self-imposed exile, according to John Aubrey's Brief Lives:
This Earle of Oxford, making of his low obeisance to Queen Elizabeth, happened to let a Fart, at which he was so abashed and ashamed that he went to Travell, 7 yeares. On his return the Queen welcomed him home, and sayd, My Lord, I had forgott the Fart.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017


Summary of Condorcet's Progrès de L'Esprit Humain

David Stove (1927-1994), "The Malthus Check," On Enlightenment (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2003), pp. 57-73 (at 61):
The past is one long hideous night of oppression, greed, cruelty, ignorance, superstition, fanaticism, and imposture, with priests and kings to blame. (To update, substitute "capitalists," "whites," "males," etc., to taste.) But then somehow—it is not clear how, or rather it is, in Condorcet's treatment, an absolute mystery how, but anyway somehow—in Europe, a few years back, light dawned. And this light is soon going to spread everywhere, and irreversibly. Our descendants will all be happy, healthy, free, equal, just, rational, leisured, and cultivated. Condorcet does not actually say that Enlightenment is going to cure wooden legs, though I think it would have pained him to hear it denied. He does say that the length of human life will be indefinitely increased. He never faces, as even ancient Greek fable had faced, the Tithonus-problem: extension of life without reprieve from aging. But no doubt he would have said that, in the future, the progress of medical science will etc., etc.


The Key to the Problem

Robert Byron (1905-1941), The Road to Oxiana (London: Picador, 1994), pp. 376-377:
This morning at the Legation I met a Colonel Porter who asked what my share in the world's work was. I said I had been looking at Mohammadan architecture.

'Mind you,' he replied, 'I've seen a good deal of Mohammadan architecture one way and another, in Palestine, Egypt, and Persia, and I've given a good deal of thought to the matter. I can tell you the key to the problem if you like.'

'Really. What is it?'

'The whole thing's phallic,' he uttered in a ghoulish whisper.

I was surprised at first to note the influence of Freud on the North-West Frontier, but soon discovered that for Colonel Porter the universe itself was phallic.



Gregory of Nyssa, Sermons on the Beatitudes 7.2 (tr. Stuart George Hall):
Which of all the things sought after in this life is sweeter for human beings to enjoy than peace? Whatever pleasure you may name among those which life offers, it needs peace in order to be pleasant. If one had all the things which are valued in our life, wealth, health, wife, children, house, parents, servants, friends, land and sea with the rich contents of each, gardens, hunts, baths, wrestling-rings, gymnasia, luxury clubs and youth clubs, and every thing that pleasure has invented, to which should be added theatrical entertainments and musical performances, and whatever else there is by which life is made pleasant for luxury-lovers, — if one had all these, but lacked the benefit of peace, what would you gain from those things, with war curtailing the enjoyment of their benefits? Peace therefore is itself pleasant to those who take part in it, and it sweetens all the things that are valued in life.

τί γὰρ εἰς ἀπόλαυσιν τῶν κατὰ τὸν βίον σπουδαζομένων τῆς εἰρήνης ἐστὶ τοῖς ἀνθρώποις γλυκύτερον; ὅτιπερ ἂν εἴπῃς τῶν ἡδέων τῶν κατὰ τὴν ζωὴν εἰρήνης χρῄζει τὸ εἶναι ἡδύ. εἰ γὰρ πάντα εἴη ὅσα κατὰ τὸν βίον τετίμηται, πλοῦτος, εὐεξία, γαμετὴ, παῖδες, οἰκία, γονεῖς, ὑπηρέται, φίλοι, γῆ, θάλασσα, τοῖς οἰκείοις ἑκατέρα πλουτίζουσα, παράδεισοι, θῆραι, λουτρὰ, παλαῖστραι, γυμνάσια, τρυφητήριά τε καὶ ἡβητήρια, καὶ πάντα ὅσα ἐστὶ τῆς ἡδονῆς ἐφευρήματα — προσκείσθω τούτοις τὰ ἡδέα θεάματα καὶ τὰ μουσικὰ ἀκροάματα καὶ εἴ τι ἄλλο δι' οὗ τοῖς τρυφῶσιν ὁ βίος ἡδύνεται — εἰ ταῦτα μὲν εἴη πάντα, τὸ δὲ τῆς εἰρήνης ἀγαθὸν μὴ παρείη, τί κέρδος ἐκείνων, πολέμου τῶν ἀγαθῶν τὴν ἀπόλαυσιν ἐπικόπτοντος; οὐκοῦν ἡ εἰρήνη αὕτη τε ἡδεῖά ἐστι τοῖς μετέχουσι καὶ πάντα καταγλυκαίνει τὰ ἐν τῷ βίῳ τιμώμενα.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017



Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Part 4, chapter "On the Higher Man," § 13 (tr. Walter Kaufmann):
Has there ever been anything filthier on earth than the saints of the desert?

Gab es Schmutzigeres bisher auf Erden als Wüsten-Heilige?
Robert C. Smith and John Lounibos, Pagan and Christian Anxiety: A Response to E.R. Dodds (Lanham: University Press of America, 1984), p. 21 (librum non vidi):
The practice of bathing among the Desert Fathers can be summarized rather succinctly: they did not bathe. Not only did they not bathe, they hated even the thought of entering the water because upon entering it they might be seen naked or, what was perhaps even worse, they might have seen themselves naked.



Euripides, fragment 795, lines 4-5 (my translation):
For whoever boasts that he is an expert concerning the gods
knows nothing more than to be persuasive when he speaks.

ὅστις γὰρ αὐχεῖ θεῶν ἐπίστασθαι πέρι,
οὐδέν τι μᾶλλον οἶδεν ἢ πείθειν λέγων.

5 ἢ πείθειν λέγων Musgrave: ἢ πείθει λέγων codd.: ἢ πείθειν λεών Hense: ἢ πείθειν ὄχλον F.G. Schmidt: ἢ ψεύδη λέγειν vel ἢ ψευδηγορεῖν Heimsoeth: ἢ ἀπατᾶν ὄχλον Wecklein: εἰ πείθει λέγων Munro
See Roger Goossens, "ΠΕΙΘΕΙΝ ΛΕΓΩΝ (Euripide, fr. 795 Nauck)," L'Antiquité Classique 7.2 (December, 1938) 215-216. I don't have access to Carl Werner Müller, ed., Euripides, Philoktet: Testimonien und Fragmente (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2000),where this is F 14.

Monday, September 11, 2017


Bourgeois Culture

David Stove (1927-1994), "Did Babeuf Deserve the Guillotine?" On Enlightenment (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2003), pp. 3-25 (at 9):
The extinction of "bourgeois culture" which Marx looked forward to with relish, and which his followers have carried out to the best of their ability, is a more serious matter than the phrase suggests. The reason is that the extinction of bourgeois culture is the extinction of culture, for there is no other kind.

Take any branch of culture you like: literature, science, philosophy, history, music, or whatever. It comes neither from the most privileged part of society, nor from the least; neither from the blue-bloods, nor from the "people of the abyss" (as Jack London called them). It comes from the great broad band in between.
Id., p. 12:
But whatever may be the reason for it, the fact is that if you write down the names of a hundred people who have done something that matters in science or literature or any other branch of culture, you will find that two at most of the hundred come from the most privileged part of the social scale, and one at most from the least privileged. In other words at least ninety-seven of them came from backgrounds which are bounded, on one side, by the gentry and minor nobility and, on the other side, by shoemakers and weavers. Their fathers and their grandfathers were teachers or scholars or clerks or clergymen or farmers or doctors or lawyers or soldiers or sailors or bankers or merchants or tradesmen or craftsmen or shopkeepers. At any rate, they were people who possessed some social advantages but were very far from possessing all.

This is an extremely simple statistic, and one which is very easily verified: anyone who is prepared to take a small amount of trouble can satisfy themselves as to the fact. Yet it is of the greatest importance. If it were attended to, it would be enough on its own to silence forever revolutionary or bohemian ranting about "bourgeois culture"; for it proves that culture is everywhere, and always has been, a middle-class monopoly.


Trimalchio's Question

Petronius, Satyricon 72.2 (tr. Michael Heseltine, rev. E.H. Warmington):
Trimalchio said, "Well, well, if we know we must die, why should we not live?"

Trimalchio "Ergo" inquit "cum sciamus nos morituros esse, quare non vivamus?"


An Exile's Lament

Euripides, Phoenician Women 366-370 (Polynices speaking; tr. E.P. Coleridge):
                                          And many a tear I shed by the way,
seeing after a weary while my home and the altars of the gods,
the training ground, scene of my childhood, and Dirce's founts
from which I was unjustly driven to sojourn in a strange city,
with tears ever gushing from mine eyes.

                          πολύδακρυς δ᾿ ἀφικόμην,
χρόνιος ἰδὼν μέλαθρα καὶ βωμοὺς θεῶν
γυμνάσιά θ᾿ οἷσιν ἐνετράφην Δίρκης θ᾿ ὕδωρ·
ὧν οὐ δικαίως ἀπελαθεὶς ξένην πόλιν
ναίω, δι᾿ ὄσσων νᾶμ᾿ ἔχων δακρύρροον.

369-370 del. West
370 νᾶμ᾿ Musgrave: ὄμμ᾿ vel αἵμ' codd.
Id. 631-633 (Polynices speaking):
Farewell, king Phoebus, lord of highways; farewell palace
and comrades; farewell ye statues of the gods, at which men offer sheep;
for I know not if I shall ever again address you.

καὶ σύ, Φοῖβ᾿ ἄναξ Ἀγυιεῦ, καὶ μέλαθρα, χαίρετε,
ἥλικές θ᾿ οὑμοί, θεῶν τε δεξίμηλ᾿ ἀγάλματα.
οὐ γὰρ οἶδ᾿ εἴ μοι προσειπεῖν αὖθις ἔσθ᾿ ὑμᾶς ποτε.
Mastronarde on line 631:

According to Liddell-Scott-Jones, δεξίμηλος occurs only in Euripides. Diccionario Griego–Español adds some examples from the lexicographers.

Cf. id. 406 (Jocasta speaking):
Man's dearest treasure then, it seems, is his country.

ἡ πατρίς, ὡς ἔοικε, φίλτατον βροτοῖς.

Saturday, September 09, 2017


Aversion to Study and to Studious People

David Stove (1927-1994), "Did Babeuf Deserve the Guillotine?" On Enlightenment (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2003), pp. 3-25 (at 5-6):
But the other reason I gave is equally important: the weakness or absence, in most people, of any passion for thought and learning. Most people find their own lives quite interesting enough, in fact painfully interesting, without putting themselves to the pains which are inseparable from getting entrée into physics or philosophy or philology. To sit quietly alone for hours, thinking about some difficult question, in which you yourself have nothing to gain or lose—this is how some of us spend much of our lives, but to most people it is a purgatorial prospect. Noise, company, joint occupation, the excitements of war or power or money or sex or sport: these are the things which make up most people's idea of time well spent.

But in most people there is not merely an absence of studious inclinations: there is a positive aversion to studious people. This aversion is at some periods overt, at other periods covert, but it never dies out entirely. Its roots undoubtedly lie, as Hazlitt said in his essay on "The Disadvantages of Intellectual Superiority" (1822), in fear: the immemorial fear of "cunning men." It is painful to recall that when Socrates was still interested in astronomy and meteorology, even his friend Aristophanes could not resist currying favor with the Athenian voters by ridiculing such inquiries. Jack Cade, in Shakespeare's Henry VI, has a clerk put to death for associating with people who use such disgusting words as "noun" and "verb." The revolutionary judge who sent Lavoisier to the guillotine in 1794 remarked with satisfaction that "The Republic has no need of chemists." Pol Pot was even more thorough than his teachers, Lenin, Marx, and Ho Chi Minh; under him, even an educated accent, or merely wearing spectacles, was a sufficient death-warrant.

History is full of scenes of studious people feeling the effects of this aversion which the non-studious have towards them. The mathematician-theologian Hypatia was butchered by a mob of Christian monks in fourth-century Alexandria; famous monastic libraries in England were burnt by Danish raiders in the ninth century; professors were hounded to death by Red Guards during the "Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution"; in our own universities twenty years ago, learning and teaching were disrupted, and professors intimidated, by chanting mobs of "anti-Vietnam" demonstrators; and so on. Now ask yourself: in all such cases, which side is more representative of ordinary humanity? Which side, the studious or their tormentors, stands for inclinations that are widespread, strong and steady in human beings, and which stands for inclinations that are rare or weak or intermittent? The question will answer itself.

Friday, September 08, 2017


Money Maketh Man

Petronius, Satyricon 77 (tr. Michael Heseltine, rev. E.H. Warmington):
Take my word for it: if you have a penny, that is what you are worth; by what a man hath shall he be reckoned.

credite mihi: assem habeas, assem valeas; habes, habeberis.
Martin S. Smith, ed., Petronii Arbitri Cena Trimalchionis (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), p. 210:
§ 6 assem habeas ...: 'if you've only got a penny, you're only worth a penny; if you've got something, you'll be thought something.' Cf. Apul. Apol. 23 'tanti re vera estis quantum habetis', Lucilius 1120M 'tantum habeas, tantum ipse sies tantique habearis', Otto s.v. habere (1).



I noticed the following while rereading Antigone in Sophocles, Antigone. The Women of Trachis. Philoctetes. Oedipus at Colonus. Edited and Translated by Hugh-Lloyd Jones (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994 = Loeb Classical Library, vol. 21).

71-77 (pp. 10-11):
ἀλλ᾿ ἴσθ᾿ ὁποία σοι δοκεῖ, κεῖνον δ᾿ ἐγὼ
θάψω. καλόν μοι τοῦτο ποιούσῃ θανεῖν.
φίλη μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ κείσομαι, φίλου μέτα,
ὅσια πανουργήσασ᾿· ἐπεὶ πλείων χρόνος        75
ὃν δεῖ μ᾿ ἀρέσκειν τοῖς κάτω τῶν ἐνθάδε·
ἐκεῖ γὰρ αἰεὶ κείσομαι.

Do you be the kind of person you have decided to be, but I shall bury him! It is honourable for me to do this and die. I am his own and I shall lie with him who is my own, having committed a crime that is holy, for there will be a longer span of time for me to please those below than there will be to please those here.
The translation omits ἐκεῖ γὰρ αἰεὶ κείσομαι (for there I shall lie forever) in line 77, but this omission is repaired in the Digital Loeb Classical Library version.

398-400 (pp. 38-39):
καὶ νῦν, ἄναξ, τήνδ᾿ αὐτός, ὡς θέλεις, λαβὼν
καὶ κρῖνε κἀξέλεγχ᾿· ἐγὼ δ᾿ ἐλεύθερος
δίκαιός εἰμι τῶνδ᾿ ἀπηλλάχθαι κακῶν.        400

And now, king, take her yourself and judge her and convict her; but I am free, and have the right to be released from these troubles!
The translation omits ὡς θέλεις (as you wish) in line 398. This omission persists in the Digital Loeb Classical Library version.

423-428 (pp. 40-41):
ἡ παῖς ὁρᾶται κἀνακωκύει πικρῶς
ὄρνιθος ὀξὺν φθόγγον, ὡς ὅταν κενῆς
εὐνῆς νεοσσῶν ὀρφανὸν βλέψῃ λέχος·        425
οὕτω δὲ χαὔτη, ψιλὸν ὡς ὁρᾷ νέκυν,
γόοισιν ἐξῴμωξεν, ἐκ δ᾿ ἀρὰς κακὰς
ἠρᾶτο τοῖσι τοὔργον ἐξειργασμένοις.

[W]e saw the girl; she cried out bitterly, with a sound like the piercing note of a bird when she sees her empty nest robbed of her young; just so did she cry out, weeping, and called down curses on those who had done the deed.
The translation omits ψιλὸν ὡς ὁρᾷ νέκυν (when she saw the corpse laid bare) in line 426, but this omission is repaired in the Digital Loeb Classical Library version.

653-654 (pp. 64-65):
ἀποπτύσας οὖν ὥστε δυσμενῆ μέθες
τὴν παῖδ᾿ ἐν Ἅιδου τήνδε νυμφεύειν τινί.

So respue this girl as an enemy and allow her to marry someone in Hades!
Some readers might have to look up the word respue (marked as obsolete in the Oxford English Dictionary and defined there as "To reject strongly. Also: (lit.) to spit out.").

1337-1338 (pp. 124-125):
μή νυν προσεύχου μηδέν· ὡς πεπρωμένης
οὐκ ἔστι θνητοῖς συμφορᾶς ἀπαλλαγή.

Utter no prayers now! There is no escape from calamity for mortals.
The translation omits πεπρωμένης (fated, destined, modifying συμφορᾶς = calamity) in line 1337, but this omission is repaired in the Digital Loeb Classical Library version.



Simonides, elegaic fragment 13 (tr. David A. Campbell):
                                    Time is sharp-toothed,
and he grinds up all things, even the mightiest.

              ὅ τοι Χρόνος ὀξὺς ὀδόντας,
καὶ πάντα ψήχει καὶ τὰ βιαιότατα.

2 Pierson: ψύχει, ψύχη codd. | πάντα καταψήχει Bergk | κὰπ πάντα ψήχει West
D.L. Page, ed., Further Greek Epigrams (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), p. 302:

Thursday, September 07, 2017


I Was Blind But Now I See

Menander, Fabula Incerta 2 (tr. W. G. Arnott):
I'm all alone, and nobody is here
To hang on any words of mine that may
Be dropped. Sirs, I was dead all through the life
I've lived till now. You must believe this claim.
To me all beauty, virtue, piety        5
Were all alike—vice, too! Such was the dark
Cloud blanketing my mind, or so it seems.
It shrouded and blacked out all this for me.
But here I've come now, like a patient on his bed
In hospital when he's been cured! I'm born again        10
To live my future life. I walk and talk
And think. This great and glorious sun I’ve now
Discovered. In today's clear light I can
See you now, gentlemen, I see blue sky,
And the Acropolis, the theatre.        15

ἐρημία μέν ἐστι, κοὐκ ἀκούσεται
οὐδεὶς παρών μου τῶν λόγων ὧν ἂν λέγω.
ἐγὼ τὸν ἄλλον, ἄνδρες, ἐτεθνήκειν βίον
ἅπανθ᾿ ὃν ἔζων· τοῦτό μοι πιστεύετε.
πᾶν ταὐτὸ τὸ καλόν, τἀγαθόν, τὸ σεμνὸν <ἦν>,        5
τὸ κακόν. τοιοῦτον ἦν τί μου πάλαι σκότος
περὶ τὴν διάνοιαν, ὡς ἔοικε, κείμενον,
ὃ πάντ᾿ ἔκρυπτε ταῦτα κἠφάνιζέ μοι.
νῦν δ᾿ ἐνθάδ᾿ ἐλθών, ὥσπερ εἰς Ἀσκληπιοῦ
ἐγκατακλιθεὶς σωθείς τε, τὸν λοιπὸν χρόνον        10
ἀναβεβίωκα. περιπατῶ, λαλῶ, φρονῶ.
τὸν τηλικοῦτον καὶ τοιοῦτον ἥλιον
νῦν τοῦτον εὗρον, ἄνδρες· ἐν τῇ τήμερον
ὑμᾶς ὁρῶ νῦν αἰθρίᾳ, τὸν ἀέρα,
τὴν ἀκρόπολιν, τὸ θέατρον.        15
Text, apparatus, and notes of Kassel and Austin:

See Bronwen L. Wickkiser, "A Monologue of New Comedy on the Athenian Stage (PCG VIII 1001)," Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 50 (2010) 159-173.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017


Pacifistic Sentiments

Euripides, Helen 1151-1157 (tr. David Kovacs):
All men are fools who by war
and the spear of stout-heart battle
acquire renown for valor, foolishly winning release from toil in death.
If contests of blood shall always decide, never will strife
cease among the cities of men.

ἄφρονες ὅσοι τὰς ἀρετὰς πολέμῳ
λόγχαισί τ᾿ ἀλκαίου δορὸς
κτᾶσθ᾿, ἀμαθῶς θανάτῳ πόνους καταλυόμενοι.
εἰ γὰρ ἅμιλλα κρινεῖ νιν αἵματος, οὔποτ᾿ ἔρις        1155
λείψει κατ᾿ ἀνθρώπων πόλεις.

1152-1153 λόγχαισί τ᾿ ἀλκαίου δορὸς κτᾶσθε Headlam: κτᾶσθε δορός τ᾿ ἀλκαίου λόγχαισι L
1153-1154 ἀ- θανάτῳ πόνους κατα- Willink: κατα- πόνους θνατῶν ἀ- L: πόνους ἀ- θνατῶν κατα- Headlam | ἀμαθῶς Tyrwhitt: ἀπ- L | καταλυόμενοι Herwerden: -παυόμενοι L
1155-1156 κρινεῖ Heath: κρίνει L
A.C. Pearson ad loc.:

I don't have access to William Allan's commentary (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

In line 1152, λόγχαισι are literally spear heads, δορός a spear shaft.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017


The Price of Power

Louis J. Halle (1910-1998), Spring in Washington (1947; rpt. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1957), pp. 17-18:
To me the bicycle is in many ways a more satisfactory invention than the automobile. It is consonant with the independence of man because it works under his own power entirely. There is no combustion of some petroleum product from Venezuela to set the pedals going. Purely mechanical instruments like watches and bicycles are to be preferred to engines that depend on the purchase of power from foreign sources. You can be more independent, and therefore more of a man, in a sailing vessel than in a power-driven boat. In the former you can still keep going if the national or international economy breaks down. You need not trouble yourself about legislative enactments for the exchange of goods and services, about international treaty arrangements for which your life is hostage. The price of power, on the other hand, is enslavement.




Robert Byron (1905-1941), The Road to Oxiana (London: Picador, 1994), p. 174:
A more humane exponent of English ethics was Archdeacon [James L.] Garland, who lived here [in Isfahan] thirty years. During that time, he used to say, he made one convert. She was an old woman, who was ostracized for her apostasy, so that on her deathbed the Archdeacon was the only friend she could send for. She had one last request, she told him.

'What is it?' asked the Archdeacon, anxious to ease his protégée's last moments.

'Please summon a mullah.'

He did so, and repeated the story afterwards.

Monday, September 04, 2017


No Soliciting Sign for My Front Door

Euripides, Helen 450 (tr. David Kovacs):
So go to some other house, not this one.

οἶκον πρὸς ἄλλον νύν τιν᾿ ἀντὶ τοῦδ᾿ ἴθι.
Related post: A Recluse.


Ancien Régime and Revolution

Albert Jay Nock (1870-1945), Memoirs of a Superfluous Man (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1943), pp. 85-86 (footnote omitted):
The revolution began with a drastic purge, a thorough guillotining of the classical curriculum, wherever found. Such Greek and Latin as escaped the Reign of Terror was left to die of inanition in dens and caves of the earth, such as the school and college I attended. The elective system came in as a substitute, proposing instruction in omni re scibili as its final consummation. During a visit to Germany, the president of Harvard, Mr. Eliot, had taken note that the elective system was working well in German universities, and he saw no reason why it should not work as well in an undergraduate college like Harvard, so he introduced it there. The country promptly carried his logic to its full length. If the thing was good for the university, good for the college, why not for the secondary school, why not for the primary school? Why not try a tentative dab at its being good for the kindergarten?—surely in a free democracy the free exercise of self-expression and the development of an untrammelled personality can hardly begin too young.

So the old régime's notion that education is in its nature selective, the peculium of a well-sifted élite, was swept away and replaced by the popular notion that everybody should go to school, college, university, and should have every facility afforded for studying anything that any one might choose.
Id., pp. 88-89:
The theory of the revolution was based on a flagrant popular perversion of the doctrines of equality and democracy. Above all things the mass-mind is most bitterly resentful of superiority. It will not tolerate the thought of an élite; and under a political system of universal suffrage, the mass-mind is enabled to make its antipathies prevail by sheer force of numbers. Under this system, as John Stuart Mill said, the test of a great mind is its power of agreement with the opinions of small minds; hence the intellectual tone of a society thus hamstrung is inevitably set by such opinions. In the prevalent popular view, therefore,—the view insisted upon and as far as possible enforced by the mass-men whom the masses instinctively cleave to and choose as leaders,—in this view the prime postulate of equality is that in the realm of the spirit as well as of the flesh, everybody is able to enjoy anything that anybody can enjoy; and the prime postulate of democracy is that there shall be nothing for anybody to enjoy that is not open for everybody to enjoy. An equalitarian and democratic regime must by consequence assume, tacitly or avowedly, that everybody is educable.

The theory of our régime was directly contrary to this. Our preceptors did not see that doctrines of equality and democracy had any footing in the premises. They did not pretend to believe that everybody is educable, for they knew, on the contrary, that very few are educable, very few indeed. They saw this as a fact in the order of nature, like the fact that few are six feet tall. Instead of regarding the thought of an élite with the mass-man's dogged, unintelligent, invincibly suspicious resentment, they accepted it as pointing to a fixture in nature's established order. They accepted the fact that there are practicable ranges of intellectual and spiritual experience which nature has opened to some and closed to others. They may or may not have wished that nature had managed otherwise, but saw quite clearly that she had not done so. There the fact was, and all that could be done about it was to take it as it stood. If any irrelevant doctrine of equality or democracy chose to set itself against the fact, so much the worse for the doctrine.

Sunday, September 03, 2017


No Monopoly on Truth or Wisdom

Sophocles, Antigone 725 (tr. Hugh Lloyd-Jones):
For true things have been said on both sides.

εὖ γὰρ εἴρηται διπλῇ.


Sunday Reading

George Gissing (1857-1903), The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft ("Summer," V):
When a child, I was permitted to handle on Sunday certain books which could not be exposed to the more careless usage of common days; volumes finely illustrated, or the more handsome editions of familiar authors, or works which, merely by their bulk, demanded special care. Happily, these books were all of the higher rank in literature, and so there came to be established in my mind an association between the day of rest and names which are the greatest in verse and prose. Through my life this habit has remained with me; I have always wished to spend some part of the Sunday quiet with books which, at most times, it is fatally easy to leave aside, one's very knowledge and love of them serving as an excuse for their neglect in favour of print which has the attraction of newness. Homer and Virgil, Milton and Shakespeare; not many Sundays have gone by without my opening one or other of these. Not many Sundays? Nay, that is to exaggerate, as one has the habit of doing. Let me say rather that, on many a rest-day I have found mind and opportunity for such reading. Nowadays mind and opportunity fail me never. I may take down my Homer or my Shakespeare when I choose, but it is still on Sunday that I feel it most becoming to seek the privilege of their companionship. For these great ones, crowned with immortality, do not respond to him who approaches them as though hurried by temporal care. There befits the garment of solemn leisure, the thought attuned to peace. I open the volume somewhat formally; is it not sacred, if the word have any meaning at all? And, as I read, no interruption can befall me. The note of a linnet, the humming of a bee, these are the sounds about my sanctuary. The page scarce rustles as it turns.

John Singleton Copley (1738-1815), Henry Pelham


The Wine Course

Petronius, Satyricon 34 (tr. Michael Heseltine, rev. E.H. Warmington, with their notes; I corrected Opinius in note 1 to Opimius):
Just then some glass jars carefully fastened with gypsum were brought on, with labels tied to their necks, inscribed, "Falernian of Opimius's vintage, 100 years in bottle."1 As we were poring over the tickets Trimalchio clapped his hands and cried, "Ah me, so wine lives longer than miserable man. So let us be merry.2 Wine is life. I put on real wine of Opimius's year. I produced some inferior stuff yesterday, and there was a much finer set of people to dinner." As we drank and admired each luxury in detail, a slave brought in a silver skeleton,3 made so that its joints and sockets could be moved and bent in every direction. He threw it down once or twice on the table so that the supple sections showed several attitudes, and Trimalchio said appropriately: "Alas for us poor mortals, all that poor man is is nothing. So we shall all be, after the world below takes us away. Let us live then while it can go well with us."

1 Since Trimalchio is apparently a character of Nero's reign (A.D. 54–68), his wine if supposed to be genuine Opimian would taste pretty bad, because Opimius was consul in 121 B.C. But the guests enjoyed it. If the labels also are supposed to be genuine, that is, put on after one hundred years' keep, and if Trimalchio is supposed to be accurate (though he is an ignorant man), they were put on during the reign of Augustus (30 B.C.–A.D. 14).

2 The word tangomenas is obscure. It occurs also at the end of Chapter 73, again with faciamus. Tango menas (Birt, Rhein. Mus., LXXV, 118 ff.) "I touch mendoles (anchovies)" conveys no sense; nor does tango Manes (Ohlert). In a drinking mood Alcaeus (Fr. 94. Diehl; J. Edmonds, Lyra Graeca, Vol. I, LCL, pp 418–419) has τέγγε πλεύμονας οἴνῳ "wet your lungs with wine," and Buecheler suggested tengomenas in Petronius's phrase.

3 Some representation of a skeleton was often present where Romans ate, apparently a reminder that though one eats now, one will die later. larva usually means a ghost.

Statim allatae sunt amphorae vitreae diligenter gypsatae, quarum in cervicibus pittacia erant affixa cum hoc titulo: "Falernum Opimianum annorum centum." Dum titulos perlegimus, complosit Trimalchio manus et "Eheu" inquit "ergo diutius vivit vinum quam homuncio. Quare tangomenas faciamus. Vinum vita est. Verum Opimianum praesto. Heri non tam bonum posui, et multo honestiores cenabant." Potantibus ergo nobis et accuratissime lautitias mirantibus larvam argenteam attulit servus sic aptatam, ut articuli eius vertebraeque luxatae in omnem partem flecterentur. Hanc cum super mensam semel iterumque abiecisset, et catenatio mobilis aliquot figuras exprimeret, Trimalchio adiecit:
"Eheu nos miseros, quam totus homuncio nil est.
Sic erimus cuncti, postquam nos auferet Orcus.
    Ergo vivamus, dum licet esse bene."
vinum vita Goes: vita vinum H
luxatae Heinsius: laxatae H, locatae L
Martin S. Smith, ed., Petronii Arbitri Cena Trimalchionis (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), pp. 74-75:
§ 6 Falernum Opimianum ...: Pliny (NH xiv.55) states that some of the famous vintage of Opimius' consulship (121 B.C.) survived to his day but could be used only to give body to younger wine. B. Baldwin suggests (AJP lxxxviii (1967), 173-5) that Trimalchio's vulgarity here consists in serving as a choice beverage by itself an old wine normally used by then merely as a seasoning.

Everyday wines could bear an inscription showing their age rather than the date of production, just as whisky today may be labelled, for example, 'twenty years old' as a guarantee of its maturity. Roman inscriptions of this kind, however, relate to wine only a few years old. Both through the choice of centum and through the addition of the remote consular date the label on Trimalchio's wine extends this practice absurdly.

§ 7 tangomenas faciamus: this phrase, which recurs at 73.6, must mean something like 'let's drink our fill' each time. No satisfactory explanation of tangomenas has yet been proposed, although the ending -omenas resembles a Greek middle or passive participle. As for the stem, two types of suggestion have been made: (i) the Greek τέγγω 'dip', 'soak', could fit (cf. Alcaeus fr. 39), if we supply some feminine noun, e.g. epulas or potiones. Presumably the word was confused with the familiar tangere. (ii) tangere itself may fit, cf. 66.3 'de melle me usque tetigi', Apic. viii.2.1 'cervum coctum intro foras tanges'; but the use of a Greek ending then becomes puzzling. The best that can be claimed for such explanations is that they are not patently absurd. It should be added that the phrase may form part of a hexameter, so it may be that Trimalchio is quoting some familiar tag.

§ 8 larvam argenteam: Herodotus (ii.78) and Plutarch (Mor. 357 f) describe an Egyptian custom of bringing out a skeleton or something similar at a feast as a reminder of the fragility of human life. A cup in the Bosco Reale treasure from Pompeii has several skeletons on it, with the inscription ζῶν μετάλαβε· τὸ γὰρ αὔριον ἄδηλον ἐστι, i.e. 'join in while you are alive, for tomorrow is uncertain' (for an illustration see M. Rostovtzeff, Soc. and Econ. Hist. of the Roman Empire, plate vii).

sic aptatam ...: 'made so that its joints and backbone could be moved freely and turned in every direction'. Heinsius's conjecture luxatae gives better sense than laxatae H. The two words are sometimes confused in manuscripts, e.g. at Plin. NH viii.179.

§ 10. This combination of two hexameters and one pentameter occurs occasionally in Greek and Latin epitaphs, e.g. Kaibel, Epigrammata Graeca 558, 5-7 (Rome), 309 (Smyrna), Buecheler and Lommatzsch, Carm. Lat. Epigr. 428, 13-15 (Stabiae). No doubt the material in these epitaphs is conventional, but the fact that the first of them comes from a physician's memorial to his wife is a warning not to assume that this combination necessarily betrays a striking lack of education.

esse bene: 'enjoy ourselves'. In familiar language esse is used with an adverb where the adjective would be regular, e.g. 59.1 'suaviter sit potius'. See L.-H.-S. 170 f., Hof. LU 166.
The Bosco Reale cup:

Some dancing and drinking skeletons in a print by José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913):

Friday, September 01, 2017


Back to School

Petronius, Satyricon 1 (tr. Michael Heseltine, rev. E.H. Warmington):
I believe that college makes complete fools of our young men, because they see and hear nothing of ordinary life there.

et ideo ego adulescentulos existimo in scholis stultissimos fieri, quia nihil ex his, quae in usu habemus, aut audiunt aut vident.


Indecent Behavior in Church

Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in Popular Beliefs in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971), p. 162:
A Cambridgeshire man was charged with indecent behaviour in church in 1598 after his 'most loathsome farting, striking, and scoffing speeches' had occasioned 'the great offence of the good and the great rejoicing of the bad'.2

2 Ely D.R., B 2/14, f. 137.
J.D. Salinger (1919-2010), The Catcher in the Rye (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1951), p. 17 (Chapter 3):
The only good part of his speech was right in the middle of it. He was telling us all about what a swell guy he was, what a hot-shot and all, then all of a sudden this guy sitting in the row in front of me, Edgar Marsalla, laid this terrific fart. It was a very crude thing to do, in chapel and all, but it was also quite amusing. Old Marsalla. He damn near blew the roof off. Hardly anybody laughed out loud, and old Ossenburger made out like he didn't even hear it, but old Thurmer, the headmaster, was sitting right next to him on the rostrum and all, and you could tell he heard it. Boy, was he sore. He didn't say anything then, but the next night he made us have compulsory study hall in the academic building and he came up and made a speech. He said that the boy that had created the disturbance in chapel wasn't fit to go to Pencey. We tried to get old Marsalla to rip off another one, right while old Thurmer was making his speech, but he wasn't in the right mood.
John Gould (1908-2003), Tales from Rhapsody Home (Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 2000), pp. 131-132:
Some of our best farts were heard or suppressed in church. Many's the demure maiden lady who thought she had a silent kind and came out loud and strong. It was pleasant to see her sitting there in the pew looking like the Twenty-Third Psalm and wondering if she'd soiled her drawers. Many, also, were they who refrained from offending at great risk, and then let go during the doxology, which was tumultuous enough to drown out all competition. Nobody heard these offerings, but there were lingering testimonials of what happened.

Thanks to Eric Thomson for the following quotation from Edward Abbey (1927-1989), Confessions of a Barbarian: Selections from the Journals, ed. David Petersen (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1994), p. 140 (May 20, 1956):
There is the diffident fart of the seminarian, the gritty fart of the Bible student, the fart loud and exhortatory of the fundamentalist preacher, the incriminating and revealing fart of the evangelist, the mellifluous fart of the TV theologian, the impromptu fart of the organist and the fart sotto voce a la tempo of the choirmaster. There is the discreet and sanctimonious fart of the priest, the consecrated fart of the nun, the inadvertent fart of the altar boy, the irritable fart of the bishop, the arch-fart of the archbishop, the painful and self-conscious fart of the cardinal, the solemn apostolic liturgical and infallible fart of the Pope himself. There will be finally the final divine omnipotent pretentious imperial fart of God. After that, nothing fartable will remain to be farted; for the mystery beyond God—the All-Source, the Brahman—does not fart.



A Curse

Eupolis, fragment 99, lines 33-34 (Pap. Cair. 43227; tr. Ian C. Storey);
May the flocks of anyone who elects such men to govern bear no offspring and may their land never bear crops.

ὅστις οὖν ἄρχειν τοιούτους ἄνδρας α[ἱρεῖταί ποτε
μήτε πρόβατ᾿ αὐτῶι τεκνοῖτο μήτε γῆ κ[αρπὸν φέροι.


Intellectual Arrogance

Sophocles, Antigone 705-709 (Haemon to his father Creon; tr. Hugh Lloyd-Jones):
Do not wear the garment of one mood only,
thinking that your opinion and no other must be right!
For whoever think that they themselves alone have sense,
or have a power of speech or an intelligence that no other has,
these people when they are laid open are found to be empty.

μή νυν ἓν ἦθος μοῦνον ἐν σαυτῷ φόρει,
ὡς φὴς σύ, κοὐδὲν ἄλλο, τοῦτ᾿ ὀρθῶς ἔχειν.
ὅστις γὰρ αὐτὸς ἢ φρονεῖν μόνος δοκεῖ,
ἢ γλῶσσαν, ἣν οὐκ ἄλλος, ἢ ψυχὴν ἔχειν,
οὗτοι διαπτυχθέντες ὤφθησαν κενοί.
Mark Griffith's commentary ad loc.:


What Man Should Be Like

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), "Moral als Widernatur," § 6, Götzen-Dämmerung (tr. Walter Kaufmann):
Let us finally consider how naïve it is altogether to say: "Man ought to be such and such!" Reality shows us an enchanting wealth of types, the abundance of a lavish play and change of forms—and some wretched loafer of a moralist comments: "No! Man ought to be different." He even knows what man should be like, this wretched bigot and prig: he paints himself on the wall and comments, "Ecce homo!"

Erwägen wir endlich noch, welche Naivität es überhaupt ist, zu sagen »so und so sollte der Mensch sein!« Die Wirklichkeit zeigt uns einen entzückenden Reichtum der Typen, die Üppigkeit eines verschwenderischen Formenspiels und -Wechsels: und irgendein armseliger Eckensteher von Moralist sagt dazu: »nein! der Mensch sollte anders sein«? ... Er weiß es sogar, wie er sein sollte, dieser Schlucker und Mucker; er malt sich an die Wand und sagt dazu »ecce homo!«

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