Friday, June 23, 2017


Four Ages of Man

Pseudo-Hippocrates, Epistles 17.9, tr. C.D.N. Costa, Greek Fictional Letters. A Selection with Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 102 (Greek) and 103 (English):
Do you not see that even the cosmos is full of hatred for humanity? It has collected innumerable afflictions for them. Man is one complete illness from birth: while being nurtured he is useless and a suppliant for help; as he grows up he is presumptuous and a fool in his tutor's hands; in his prime he is reckless; when past it he is pitiable, with a crop of troubles brought on himself by his own witlessness. Such he is from when he sprang from the blood of his mother's womb.

οὐχ' ὁρῇς, ὅτι καὶ ὁ κόσμος μισανθρωπίης πεπλήρωται; ἄπειρα κατ' αὐτῶν πάθεα ξυνήθροικε. ὅλος ἄνθρωπος ἐκ γενετής νοῦσός ἐστι· τρεφόμενος ἄχρηστος, ἱκέτης βοηθείης· αὐξανόμενος ἀτάσθαλος, ἄφρων διὰ χειρὸς παιδαγωγίης· θρασὺς ἀκμάζων, παρακμάζων οἰκτρός, τοὺς ἰδίους πόνους ἀλογιστίῃ γεωργήσας· ἐκ μητρῴων γὰρ λύθρων ἐξέθορε τοιοῦτος.


A Good Death

Suetonius, Life of Augustus 99.2 (tr. J.C. Rolfe):
For almost always on hearing that anyone had died swiftly and painlessly, he prayed that he and his might have a like euthanasia, for that was the term he was wont to use.

nam fere quotiens audisset cito ac nullo cruciatu defunctum quempiam, sibi et suis εὐθανασίαν similem—hoc enim et verbo uti solebat—precabatur.


Our Barbarians

Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option (New York: Sentinel, 2017), p. 17:
Our barbarians have exchanged the animal pelts and spears of the past for designer suits and smartphones.
Although I'm not a professor, I usually do try to follow "Common Rules of the Professors of Higher Faculties," § 8, Ratio Studiorum (tr. Allan P. Farrell):
It scarcely becomes the dignity of a professor to cite an authority whose works he himself has not read.
I confess that I haven't read Dreher's book, except for excerpts in reviews.

Thursday, June 22, 2017


A Herm in the House of Caecilius Jucundus

Mary Beard, Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town (London: Profile Books, 2008), pp. 181-182:
In the atrium of the house, two squared pillars (or herms) were found, of a type commonly used in the Roman world to support marble or bronze portrait heads. In the case of male portraits, genitals would be attached half way down the herm, making what is, to be honest, a rather odd ensemble. On one of these pillars genitals and bronze head survived — a highly individualised portrait of a man, with thinning hair and a prominent wart on his left cheek (Ill. 68). Both pillars carry exactly the same inscription: 'Felix, ex-slave, set this up to the our Lucius'.
There is obviously something amiss with "the our Lucius". The inscription (Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum X 860) reads
Genio L(uci) nostri / Felix l(ibertus)
and should be translated
Felix, ex-slave, set this up to the genius of our Lucius.
Oxford Latin Dictionary, s.v. genius, sense 1.a:
The male spirit of a gens existing during his lifetime in the head of the family, and subsequently in the divine or spiritual part of each individual.
Herm in the House of Caecilius Jucundus (V.i.26), Pompeii (Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, inv. 110663):

Another misprint in Beard's book, p. 109:
At one point, in the middle of a marital row, Trimalchio takes a barbed potshot at his wife's lowly origins: 'If you're borne on a mezzanine, you don't sleep in a house.'
For borne read born. The reference is to Petronius, Satyricon 74.14 (sed hic qui in pergula natus est aedes non somniatur).



Restrictions on Citizenship

Suetonius, Life of Augustus 40.3 (tr. J.C. Rolfe):
Considering it also of great importance to keep the people pure and unsullied by any taint of foreign or servile blood, he was most chary of conferring Roman citizenship and set a limit to manumission. When Tiberius requested citizenship for a Grecian dependent of his, Augustus wrote in reply that he would not grant it unless the man appeared in person and convinced him that he had reasonable grounds for the request; and when Livia asked it for a Gaul from a tributary province, he refused, offering instead freedom from tribute, and declaring that he would more willingly suffer a loss to his privy purse than the prostitution of the honour of Roman citizenship.

magni praeterea existimans sincerum atque ab omni colluvione peregrini ac servilis sanguinis incorruptum servare populum, et civitates Romanas parcissime dedit et manumittendi modum terminavit. Tiberio pro cliente Graeco petenti rescripsit, non aliter se daturum, quam si praesens sibi persuasisset, quam iustas petendi causas haberet; et Liviae pro quodam tributario Gallo roganti civitatem negavit, immunitatem optulit affirmans facilius se passurum fisco detrahi aliquid, quam civitatis Romanae vulgari honorem.


How Could Anyone Ever Live Before This or That Invention?

Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837), Zibaldone, tr. Kathleen Baldwin et al. (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), p. 1839 (Z 4198-4199):
If in time the invention, e.g., of lightning conductors (which now we must agree are hardly of much use), becomes more solidly based and extensive, more reliable, more worthy of attention, and more generally used; if aerostatic balloons, and aeronautics acquire a certain degree of science, and become more common, and utility becomes part of them (which now it is not), etc.; if so many other modern discoveries, like those of steam navigation, telegraphs, etc., find applications and improvements so as to change the face of civilized life, which does not seem unlikely; and if eventually other new discoveries compete to do that; then certainly men in a thousand years' time, will call the present age scarcely civilized, they will say that we were living in continual and extreme fear and hardship, they will find it hard to understand how people could lead and bear their lives being continually exposed to the danger of storms, lightning, etc., navigate at sea with such risk of sinking, trade [4199] and communicate with distant lands when air navigation was unknown or imperfect, the use of telegraphs, etc., they will look in wonder at how slow our present means of communication are, how unreliable, etc. And yet we have no sense of, we are not aware of how impossible or difficult the life that will be attributed to us is; we think we have a fairly comfortable life, that we communicate with one another fairly easily and quickly, that we have plenty of comforts and pleasures, in fact that we live in a century of refinement and luxury. Now believe me that exactly the same thoughts were in the minds of those men who lived before the use of fire, navigation, etc. etc., those men that we, especially in this century, with our grandiose rhetorical arguments declare were exposed to continual danger, continual and immense discomfort, ferocious animals, bad weather, hunger, thirst; continually trembling and shaking with fear, and surrounded perpetually by suffering, etc. And believe me that what I reflect on above is the perfect solution to the ridiculous problem we make for ourselves—how could men ever live in that state; how could anyone ever live before this or that invention. (Bologna, 10 September, Sunday, 1826.)

Se una volta in processo di tempo l'invenzione per esempio dei parafulmini (che ora bisogna convenire esser di molto poca utilità), piglierà piú consistenza ed estensione, diverrà di uso piú sicuro, piú considerabile e piú generale; se i palloni aereostatici, e l'aeronautica acquisterà un grado di scienza, e l'uso ne diverrà comune, e la utilità (che ora è nessuna) vi si aggiungerà ec.; se tanti altri trovati moderni, come quei della navigazione a vapore, dei telegrafi ec. riceveranno applicazioni e perfezionamenti tali da cangiare in gran parte la faccia della vita civile, come non è inverisimile; e se in ultimo altri nuovi trovati concorreranno a questo effetto; certamente gli uomini che verranno di qua a mille anni, appena chiameranno civile la età presente, diranno che noi vivevamo in continui ed estremi timori e difficoltà, stenteranno a comprendere come si potesse menare e sopportar la vita essendo di continuo esposti ai pericoli delle tempeste, dei fulmini ec., navigare con tanto rischio di sommergersi, commerciare [4199] e comunicar coi lontani essendo sconosciuta o imperfetta la navigazione aerea, l'uso dei telegrafi ec., considereranno con meraviglia la lentezza dei nostri presenti mezzi di comunicazione, la loro incertezza ec. Eppur noi non sentiamo, non ci accorgiamo di questa tanta impossibilità o difficoltà di vivere che ci verrà attribuita; ci par di fare una vita assai comoda, di comunicare insieme assai facilmente e speditamente, di abbondar di piaceri e di comodità, in fine di essere in un secolo raffinatissimo e lussurioso. Or credete pure a me che altrettanto pensavano quegli uomini che vivevano avanti l'uso del fuoco, della navigazione ec. ec. quegli uomini che noi, specialmente in questo secolo, con magnifiche dicerie rettoriche predichiamo come esposti a continui pericoli, continui ed immensi disagi, bestie feroci, intemperie, fame, sete; come continuamente palpitanti e tremanti dalla paura, e tra perpetui patimenti ec. E credete a me che la considerazione detta di sopra è una perfetta soluzione del ridicolo problema che noi ci facciamo: come potevano mai vivere gli uomini in quello stato; come si poteva mai vivere avanti la tale o la tal altra invenzione (Bologna. 10 settembre Domenica. 1826).


Pert Little Fellows

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"), § 4 (tr. R.J. Hollingdale):
[W]e behold pert little fellows associating with the Romans as though they were their equals: and they root and burrow in the remains of the Greek poets as though these too were corpora for their dissection and were as vilia as their own literary corpora may be.

[K]leine vorlaute Burschen sehen wir mit den Römern umgehen, als wären diese ihres gleichen: und in den Überresten griechischer Dichter wühlen und graben sie, als ob auch diese corpora für ihre Sektion bereitlägen und vilia wären, was ihre eignen literarischen corpora sein mögen.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


The Thucydides Trap

Michael Crowley, "Why the White House Is Reading Greek History," Politico Magazine (June 21, 2017):
Most Americans probably don't know Thucydides from Mephistopheles.


Addressing the Troops

Suetonius, Life of Julius 67.2 (tr. J.C. Rolfe):
In the assembly he addressed them not as "soldiers," but by the more flattering term "comrades"...

nec milites eos pro contione, sed blandiore nomine commilitones appellabat...
Id. 70:
Again at Rome, when the men of the Tenth clamoured for their discharge and rewards with terrible threats and no little peril to the city, though the war in Africa was then raging, he did not hesitate to appear before them, against the advice of his friends, and to disband them. But with a single word, calling them "citizens," instead of "soldiers," he easily brought them round and bent them to his will; for they at once replied that they were his "soldiers" and insisted on following him to Africa, although he refused their service.

Decimanos autem Romae cum ingentibus minis summoque etiam urbis periculo missionem et praemia flagitantes, ardente tunc in Africa bello, neque adire cunctatus est, quanquam deterrentibus amicis, neque dimittere; sed una voce, qua "Quirites" eos pro militibus appellarat, tam facile circumegit et flexit, ut ei milites esse confestim responderint et quamvis recusantem ultro in Africam sint secuti.
Suetonius, Life of Augustus 25.1 (tr. J.C. Rolfe):
After the civil wars he never called any of the troops "comrades," either in the assembly or in an edict, but always "soldiers"; and he would not allow them to be addressed otherwise, even by those of his sons or stepsons who held military commands, thinking the former term too flattering for the requirements of discipline, the peaceful state of the times, and his own dignity and that of his household.

neque post bella civilia aut in contione aut per edictum ullos militum commilitones appellabat, sed milites, ac ne a filiis quidem aut privignis suis imperio praeditis aliter appellari passus est, ambitiosius id existimans, quam aut ratio militaris aut temporum quies aut sua domusque suae maiestas postularet.
See Suetonius, Divus Julius. Edited with Commentary by H.E. Butler & M. Cary with New Introduction, Bibliography and Additional Notes by G.B. Townend (Bristol: Bristol Classical Press, 1982), p. 128, and Eleanor Dickey, Latin Forms of Address (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002; rpt. 2007), pp. 288-291.


Holy Anorexia

Lyndal Roper, Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet (New York: Random House, 2017), p. 52:
On the way back, the two Augustinians stopped at Augsburg, where, Luther recalled, he was taken to meet the holy Anna 'Laminit', or 'leave me not'. The daughter of simple craftspeople, she was believed to live miraculously without eating. This kind of religiosity — or what modern writers have termed 'holy anorexia' — was a powerful streak in late medieval devotion, encouraged by an extreme asceticism that regarded bodily appetites as inimical to religious perfection. Female saints in particular might fast to extremes and undergo mystical experiences. In a church which was deeply distrustful of women, asceticism offered them an avenue of expression and authority. Laminit reported visions of St Anna, her name saint and the saint to whom we know Luther himself was attached. Not only did she go without food, she was famed as passing neither water nor stools.
Id., p. 53:
She was unmasked soon after by the duchess of Bavaria, who discovered her secret stash of luxury food, such as pepper-cakes and pears; it turned out that she emptied her stools out of the window.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Pleasure as a Central Value in Life

House of the Figured Capitals (VII.iv.57), Pompeii (married couple):

House of the Figured Capitals (VII.iv.57), Pompeii (maenad and satyr):

Paul Zanker, Pompeii: Public and Private Life, tr. Deborah Lucas Schneider (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998), pp. 38-39:
On the capital to the right of the entrance the master of the house, naked to the waist, is shown at a banquet, together with his wife. Across from them are a drunken satyr and maenad. With this type of self-depiction the owner identified himself with the cult of Dionysus and the notion of pleasure as a central value in life.


Right and Wrong

Dissoi Logoi 2.18 (tr. Daniel W. Graham):
I think if one were to bid all men to gather together what is wrong, according to their opinions, into one pile, and from this collection to take what is right, according to the views of each, not one thing <would> be left, but all would take all. For all do not have the same beliefs.

οἶμαι δ', αἴ τις τὰ αἰσχρὰ ἐς ἓν κελεύοι συνενεῖκαι πάντας ἀνθρώπως, ἃ ἕκαστοι νομίζοντι, καὶ πάλιν ἐξ ἀθρόων τούτων τὰ καλὰ λαβέν, ἃ ἕκαστοι ἅγηνται, οὐδὲ ἕν <κα> καλλειφθῆμεν, ἀλλὰ πάντας πάντα διαλαβέν. οὐ γὰρ πάντες ταὐτὰ νομίζοντι.

suppl. Weber


Recipe for a Happy Life

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-1799), Sudelbücher G 75 (tr. Sten G. Flygt):
How happily would many a person live if he concerned himself as little about other people's affairs as about his own.

Wie glücklich würde mancher leben, wenn er sich um anderer Leute Sachen so wenig bekümmerte, als um seine eigenen.
Related posts:

Monday, June 19, 2017


The Anti-Fanatic

Stefan Zweig (1881-1942), Erasmus of Rotterdam, tr. Eden and Cedar Paul (1934; rpt. New York: Viking, 1956), pp. 5-6:
On this ground Erasmus set his face against every form of fanaticism, whether religious, national, or philosophical, considering it as the prime enemy to mutual understanding. He detested bigotry in all its manifestations; he loathed the stiffnecked and the biased, whether these wore a priestly cassock or a professorial gown; he hated those who put on blinkers, and the zealots of every class and race who demanded immediate acquiescence in their own opinions while looking upon the ideas that failed to correspond with theirs as rank heresy or rascality. Just as he himself never wished to impose his outlooks upon his neighbour, so in turn did he refuse to be burdened with the religious or political theories of others if these happened to be alien and unacceptable. He took it as a matter of course that a man had a right to his own opinions; absolute independence of mind was essential. Himself a free spirit, he looked upon it as a fettering of the delightful manifoldedness of the universe when, from pulpit or university chair, a man declared his truth to be the only truth, to be a special message which God had whispered into his ear and his ear alone.
Id., p. 17:
To right of him was exaggeration and to left was exaggeration, to right he saw fanaticism and to left; and he, the intractable antifanatic, desired to serve neither one form of excess nor the other.
Id., pp. 68-69:
But his favourite method of resistance was simply to withdraw into his shell like a snail whenever the tumult raged around him. The safest shelter, then, was his study, behind a barricade of books. Here he deemed himself really secure.
Id., p. 233:
[N]one was willing to understand what his neighbour said, but instead each tried to impose his own pet belief, his particular doctrine, upon all the rest. Woe unto him who stood aside and took no part in the game! Twofold hatred was hurled against those who remained aloof. Those who live for the spirit are lonely indeed at times when passion rages. Who is there left to write for when ears are deafened with political yappings and yelpings?



Dissoi Logoi 1.3 (tr. Daniel W. Graham):
Further, death is bad for those who die, but good for undertakers and makers of tombs.

ὁ τοίνυν θάνατος τοῖς μὲν ἀποθανοῦσι κακόν, τοῖς δ' ἐνταφιοπώλαις καὶ τυμβοποιοῖς ἀγαθόν.

Sunday, June 18, 2017


Humanum Est Peccare

Ovid, Tristia 2.33-34 (tr. Arthur Leslie Wheeler, rev. G.P. Goold):
If at every human error Jupiter should hurl his thunderbolts, he would in a brief space be weaponless.

si, quotiens peccant homines, sua fulmina mittat
    Iuppiter, exiguo tempore inermis erit.


A Gulf

George Eliot (1819-1880), "German Wit: Heinrich Heine:"
The last thing in which the cultivated man can have community with the vulgar is their jocularity; and we can hardly exhibit more strikingly the wide gulf which separates him from them, than by comparing the object which shakes the diaphragm of a coal-heaver with the highly complex pleasure derived from a real witticism.
I'm on the coal-heaver's side of the gulf.



Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837), Zibaldone, tr. Kathleen Baldwin et al. (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), p. 1863 (Z 4226-4227):
Hierocles makes a most beautiful observation in De amore fraterno, in Stobaeus's discourse ὅτι κάλλιστον ἡ φιλαδελφία, etc. 84 Grotius, 82 Gessner: that as human life is like a continual war, in which we are attacked by external things (by nature and by fortune), our brothers, parents, relations are given to us as allies and supporters, etc. Finding myself far away from my family, although I was surrounded by kind people, and had no enemies, yet I recall how I lived in a kind of fear [4227] or continual timidity, in the face of troubles not of human making, and as they came over me, they frightened me and wore me down, and afflicted my soul rather more than usual, for no other reason than because I felt myself alone amid enemies, that is, in the hands of hostile nature, without allies, because my family was far away; (Recanati, 16 Nov. 1826) and on the other hand how, when I went back to them, I felt a powerful and clear sense of security, courage, and peace of mind at the thought, anticipation, arrival of adversities, illnesses, etc.

Bellissima è l'osservazione di Hierocles, nel libro de Amore fraterno, ap. Stobeo serm. 82, ὅτι κάλλιστον ἡ φιλαδελφία etc. 84. Grot. 82. Gesner. che essendo la vita umana come una continua guerra, nella quale siamo combattuti dalle cose di fuori (dalla natura e dalla fortuna), i fratelli, i genitori, i parenti ci son dati come alleati e ausiliari ec. E io, trovandomi lontano dalla mia famiglia, benché circondato da persone benevole, e benché senza inimici, pur mi ricordo di esser vissuto in una specie di timore [4227] o timidezza continua, rispetto ai mali indipendenti dagli uomini, e questi, sopravvenendomi, avermi spaventato, ed abbattuto e afflitto l'animo assai piú del solito, non per altro se non perché io mi sentiva essere come solo in mezzo a nemici, cioè in mano alla nemica natura, senza alleati, per la lontananza de' miei; (Recanati. 16 novembre 1826), e per lo contrario, ritornando fra loro, aver provato un vivo e manifesto senso di sicurezza, di coraggio, e di quiete d'animo, al pensiero, all'aspettativa, al sopravvenirmi di avversità, malattie ec.
See Hierocles the Stoic: Elements of Ethics, Fragments, and Excerpts. By Ilaria Ramelli. Translated by David Konstan (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2009), pp. 88 (Greek) and 89 (English):
In general, one must consider that life for us runs the risk of being a long and perennial battle, and this, on the one hand, because of the very nature of things, which have something contrary about them, and, on the other hand, because of the sudden and unexpected assaults of fortune, but most of all because of vice itself, which does not refrain from any kind of violence or treachery or evil schemes. Hence, nature has, as though it were not ignorant of why it creates us, nicely brought each of us into the world with, in a way, an ally. Thus, no one is alone, or born from an oak or a rock, but rather from parents and with brothers and relatives and other members of the household.

ὅλως δὲ ἐνθυμητέον ὡς ὁ βίος ἡμῖν κινδυνεύει μακρός τις εἶναι καὶ πολυετὴς πόλεμος, τοῦτο μὲν διὰ τὴν αὐτῶν τῶν πραγμάτων φύσιν ἐχόντων τι ἀντίτακτον, τοῦτο δὲ διὰ τὰς ἐξαιφνιδίους καὶ ἀπροσδοκήτους ἐπιδρομὰς τῆς τύχης, πολὺ δὲ μάλιστα δι' αὐτὴν τὴν κακίαν οὔτε βίας τινὸς ἀπεχομένην οὔτε δόλου καὶ κακῶν στρατηγημάτων. ὅθεν καλῶς ἡ φύσις, ὡς ἂν ἐφ' ἃ γεννᾷ μὴ ἀγνοοῦσα, παρήγαγεν ἡμῶν ἕκαστον τρόπον τινὰ μετὰ συμμαχίας. οὐδεὶς οὖν ἐστι μόνος οὐδ' ἀπὸ δρυὸς οὐδ' ἀπὸ πέτρης, ἀλλ' ἐκ γονέων καὶ μετ' ἀδελφῶν καὶ συγγενῶν καὶ ἄλλων οἰκείων.

Saturday, June 17, 2017


Carmen et Error

Ovid, Tristia. Ex Ponto, tr. Arthur Leslie Wheeler (1924; rpt. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1939 = Loeb Classical Library, 151), pp. 70-71 (Tristia 2.207-208; footnote omitted):
perdiderint cum me duo crimina, carmen et error,
    alterius facti culpa silenda mihi...

Though two crimes, a poem and a blunder have brought me ruin, of my fault in the one I must keep silent...
Ovid, Tristia. Ex Ponto, tr. Arthur Leslie Wheeler, 2nd ed. rev. G.P. Goold (1988; "Reprinted with corrections" Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996 = Loeb Classical Library, 151), pp. 70-71 (Tristia 2.207-208; footnote omitted):
perdiderint cum me duo crimina, carmen et error,
    alterius facti culpa silena mihi...

Though two crimes, a poem and a blunder have brought me ruin, of my fault in the one I must keep silent...
Sometime between 1939 and 1996 an error crept in—silena instead of the correct silenda. The Digital Loeb Classical Library has silenda.



Who Were the Mugs?

W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), "The Lotus Eater" (Wilson speaking):
"Leisure," he said. "If people only knew! It's the most priceless thing a man can have and they're such fools they don't even know it's something to aim at. Work? They work for work's sake. They haven't got the brains to realize that the only object of work is to obtain leisure."
"Then I read a sort of history book, by a man called Marion Crawford it was, and there was a story about Sybaris and Crotona. There were two cities; and in Sybaris they just enjoyed life and had a good time, and in Crotona they were hardy and industrious and all that. And one day the men of Crotona came over and wiped Sybaris out, and then after a while a lot of other fellows came over from somewhere else and wiped Crotona out. Nothing remains of Sybaris, not a stone, and all that's left of Crotona is just one column. That settled the matter for me."


"It came to the same in the end, didn't it? And when you look back now, who were the mugs?"
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.


Take Nothing Seriously

Georges Fourest (1864-1945), quoted in Histoires littéraires, vol. XVIII, n69 (Janvier-Février-Mars 2017) 173-174 (tr. Ian Jackson):
Take nothing seriously: not yourself, nor others, nor anything in this world or in the next; — consider art (no capital A) to be neither a business (which is vile) nor a "priesthood" (which is naïve) but simply a pastime less absorbing than bridge, less demeaning than lotto: — aim to achieve perfection in things that are difficult and useless, remember that a writer will never be the equal of a clown, a juggler or a tightrope walker, and do not allow a day to pass without meditating on this declaration of our distant ancestor Malherbe: "A great poet is of no more use to the state than a good player at skittles" — spend as little time as possible with your contemporaries and try to live as comfortably as possible while working as little as possible. Take pains always to seem happy: this will annoy your friends.

Ne prends au sérieux ni toi ni les autres ni rien en ce monde ou dans l'autre; — ne vois dans l'art (sans A majuscule) ni un commerce ce qui est vil, ni un «sacerdoce» ce qui est niais mais simplement un jeu moins absorbant que le bridge moins abrutissant que le loto; — efforce-toi de faire dans la perfection des choses difficiles et inutiles, souviens-toi qu'un écrivain ne sera jamais l'égal d'un clown, d'un jongleur ou d'un équilibriste et ne laisse jamais passer un jour sans méditer cette sentence de notre vieil ancêtre Malherbe: «Un grand poète n'est pas plus utile à l'État qu'un très bon joueur de quilles»; — fréquente le moins possible tes contemporains et tâche de vivre le plus confortablement possible en travaillant le moins possible. Aie soin de paraître toujours heureux: cela vexera tes amis.
The quotation from Malherbe can be found in "Vie de Mr de Malherbe par Mr de Racan," in Oeuvres de Malherbe, ed. L. Lalanne, Tome I (Paris: Hachette, 1862), pp. lxiii-lxxxviii (at lxxvii).

Hat tip: Ian Jackson.


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