Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Robots and Unemployment

Aristotle, Politics 1.2.5 (1253 B; tr. H. Rackham, with his notes):
For if every tool could perform its own work when ordered, or by seeing what to do in advance, like the statues of Daedalus in the story,a or the tripods of Hephaestus which the poet says 'enter self-moved the company divine,'b—if thus shuttles wove and quills played harps of themselves, master-craftsmen would have no need of assistants and masters no need of slaves.

a This legendary sculptor first represented the eyes as open and the limbs as in motion, so his statues had to be chained to prevent them from running away (Plato, Meno 97 D).

b Iliad, xviii.369.

εἰ γὰρ ἠδύνατο ἕκαστον τῶν ὀργάνων κελευσθὲν ἢ προαισθανόμενον ἀποτελεῖν τὸ αὑτοῦ ἔργον, ὥσπερ τὰ Δαιδάλου φασὶν ἢ τοὺς τοῦ Ἡφαίστου τρίποδας, οὕς φησιν ὁ ποιητὴς αὐτομάτους θεῖον δύεσθαι ἀγῶνα, οὕτως αἱ κερκίδες ἐκέρκιζον αὐταὶ καὶ τὰ πλῆκτρα ἐκιθάριζεν, οὐδὲν ἂν ἔδει οὔτε τοῖς ἀρχιτέκτοσιν ὑπηρετῶν οὔτε τοῖς δεσπόταις δούλων.
Related post: Mere People.


Our Supreme Poet of Happiness

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), The Allegory of Love (1936; rpt. Oxford University Press, 1951), p. 197 (discussing Troilus and Cryseide):
Here also, despite the tragic and comic elements, Chaucer shows himself, as in the Book of the Duchesse, the Parlement, and the Canterbury Tales, our supreme poet of happiness. The poetry which represents peace and joy, desires fulfilled and winter overgone, the poetry born under festal Jove, is of a high and difficult order: if rarity be the test of difficulty, it is the most difficult of all. In it Chaucer has few rivals, and no masters.
Related post: A Happy Spectator.


Ideal Happiness

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), The Allegory of Love (1936; rpt. Oxford University Press, 1951), p. 304:
Johnson once described the ideal happiness which he would choose if he were regardless of futurity. My own choice, with the same reservation, would be to read the Italian epic—to be always convalescent from some small illness and always seated in a window that overlooked the sea, there to read these poems eight hours of each happy day.

Monday, March 30, 2015


Proceed with Caution

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), The Allegory of Love (1936; rpt. Oxford University Press, 1951), pp. 173-174:
It is only natural that we, who live in an industrial age, should find difficulties in reading poetry that was written for a scholastic and aristocratic age. We must proceed with caution, lest our thick, rough fingers tear the delicate threads that we are trying to disentangle.

Sunday, March 29, 2015


Prayers in Fields or Woods

Keith Thomas, Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in England 1500-1800 (1983; rpt. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 215:
Some of the early Protestants were adamant that prayers could be as effectively said in fields or woods as in churches. In 1429 the Lollard Robert Cavell, a clergyman of Bungay, maintained that no honour was due to images, but that trees were of greater vigour and virtue and fitter to be worshipped than stone or dead wood carved in the shape of a man.
Thomas, op. cit., p. 378, n. 16, cites Norman P. Tanner, ed., Heresy Trials in the Diocese of Norwich, 1428-31 (London: Royal Historical Society, 1977), p. 95:
Item quod nullus honor est exhibendus ymaginibus crucifixi, Beate Marie nec alicuius sancti, eo quod arbores crescentes in silvis sunt maioris viriditatis et virtutis et eo cicius adorande quam lapis vel lignum mortuum sculptum ad similitudinem hominis.
Margaret Aston, "William White's Lollard Followers," Catholic Historical Review 68.3 (July, 1982) 469-497 (at 488), compares Fasciculi Zizaniorum Magistri Johannis Wyclif cum Tritico. Ascribed to Thomas Netter of Walden, Provincial of the Carmelite Order in England, and Confessor to King Henry the Fifth, ed. Walter Waddington Shirley (London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts, 1858), pp. 429-430 (from Examinatio Willelmi Whyte coram Episcopo Norwycensi; September 13, 1428; charge no. XXVI):
Item tibi dicimus, objicimus et articulamur, quod post et contra tuam praedictam abjurationem, tu tenuisti, affirmasti, scripsisti et docuisti, quod non est honor aliquis exhibendus imaginibus Crucifixi, B. Mariae Virginis, aut alicujus sancti. Nam arbores, crescentes in silva sunt majoris virtutis, et vigoris, et expressiorem gerunt similitudinem Dei et imaginem, quam lapis vel lignum mortuum ad similitudinem hominis sculptum; et ideo hujusmodi arbores crescentes magis sunt adorandae orationibus, genuflectionibus, oblationibus, peregrinationibus et luminibus, quam aliquod idolum in ecclesia mortuum.
Related posts:


A Good Plan

Martin L. West, Textual Criticism and Editorial Technique Applicable to Greek and Latin Texts (Stuttgart: B.G. Teubner, 1973), p. 57, n. 9:
It is a good plan to make a translation. Nothing more effectively brings one face to face with the difficulties of the text.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


Not Strong Enough

Anthony Trollope (1815-1882), The Way We Live Now, chapter I (Alfred Booker speaking):
"Bad; of course it is bad," he said to a young friend who was working with him on his periodical. "Who doubts that? How many very bad things are there that we do! But if we were to attempt to reform all our bad ways at once, we should never do any good thing. I am not strong enough to put the world straight, and I doubt if you are."


Light-Bearing Artemis

Euripides, Iphigenia Among the Taurians 20-21 (Calchas to Agamemnon), tr. David Kovacs, with his note, in Euripides, Trojan Women. Iphigenia Among the Taurians. Ion (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999), pp. 154-155:
                              ὅ τι γὰρ ἐνιαυτὸς τέκοι
κάλλιστον, ηὔξω φωσφόρῳ θύσειν θεᾷ.

You vowed to the light-bearing goddess3 that you would sacrifice the fairest thing the year brought forth.

3 Artemis is called "light-bearing" because she carries torches when she hunts at night. The vow to her was made in the year of Iphigenia's birth.
Poulheria Kyriakou, A Commentary on Euripides' Iphigenia in Tauris (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2006), pp. 58-59:
φωσφόρωι: in her capacity as huntress and goddess of marriage, Artemis is bearer of light (= torches), as is Hecate with whom she is often identified. For the identification see FJW on A. Su. 676 and cf. Aretz (1999) 40 n. 91 and Johnston (1999) 211-13. For Hecate φώσφορος see Kannicht on Hl. 569 and Diggle on Pha. 268 (fr. 781.59). For Artemis see e.g. S. OT 206-7, Tr. 214, Farnell 2.458, 573-74 and for her association with light cf. E. Parisinou, The Light of the Gods (London 2000) 46-48, 81-83, 151-56.
Liddell-Scott-Jones, s.v. φώσφορος:
II. torch-bearing, epith. of certain deities, esp. of Hecate, E.Hel.569, Ar.Th.858, Fr.594a; φ. θεά (sc. Ἄρτεμις) E.IT21, cf. Call.l.c. [Dian.204]; νὴ τὴν Φωσφόρον Ar.Lys.443, Antiph. 58.6; of Hephaestus, Orph.H.66.3: pl., ἱερεὺς Φωσφόρων Hesperia 4.49 (Athens, ii A. D.).
But cf. M. Platnauer, ed., Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris (1938; rpt. Bristol Classical Press, 1999), p. 61:
φωσφόρῳ = Artemis as the moon-goddess. Cf. E.IA 1570, I ὦ θηροκτόνε, | τὸ λαμπρὸν εἱλίσσουσ᾽ ἐν εὐφρόνῃ φάος; Cic. ND. ii.27.68 Dianam ... et Lunam eandem esse putant <Graeci>. See introduction, p. viii [sic, should be p. ix?].
The parallel from Euripides, Iphigenia at Aulis 1570-1571, cited by Platnauer, is usually understood as referring to Artemis as moon goddess, e.g. by Kovacs in Euripides, Bacchae. Iphigenia at Aulis. Rhesus (Harvard: Cambridge University Press, 2002), p. 337 (with his note):
slayer of beasts, who send your bright gleam on its circular path in the night,27...

27 Artemis is being identified with Selene, the moon goddess.
But I wonder if here too Euripides (or his reviser) could be describing Artemis brandishing a torch while hunting at night, i.e.:
slayer of beasts, whirling the gleam of light at night...
In the modern day, at least in some jurisdictions, if Artemis hunted wild beasts at night using a torch, she might be subject to arrest by a game warden for jacklighting. For hunting at night with torches see Eva Parisinou, The Light of the Gods: The Role of Light in Archaic and Classical Greek Culture (London: Duckworth, 2000), pp. 101-105.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Triple Correlative Conjunctions in Alcman

I noticed some examples of triple correlative conjunctions in Alcman.

Fragment 63:
Ναΐδες τε Λαμπάδες τε Θυιάδες τε.
Fragment 96:
ἤδη παρεξεῖ πυάνιόν τε πολτὸν
χίδρον τε λευκὸν κηρίναν τ' ὁπώραν.
For examples of this construction in other authors see


Reading Books More Than Once

Vilhelm Ekelund (1880-1949), The Second Light, tr. Lennart Bruce (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1986), p. 38:
Books that you finish with are not books at all. A true book is inexhaustible, like a truly lyrical poem. The real practitioners of the noble art of writing are recognizable because they offer the greatest pleasure on rereading. They are therefore of value only to those who know how to read—a species almost as rare as good authors.

Fritz Wagner, Der Chronist

Related post: Rereading.



Sappho, fragment 1, lines 25-28 (prayer to Aphrodite; tr. David A. Campbell):
Come to me now again and deliver me from oppressive anxieties; fulfil all that my heart longs to fulfil, and you yourself be my fellow-fighter.

ἔλθε μοι καὶ νῦν, χαλέπαν δὲ λῦσον
ἐκ μερίμναν, ὄσσα δέ μοι τέλεσσαι
θῦμος ἰμέρρει, τέλεσον· σὺ δ' αὔτα
σύμμαχος ἔσσο.
For a discussion of the entire poem see Anne Pippin Burnett, Three Archaic Poets: Archilochus, Alcaeus, Sappho (London: Duckworth, 1983; rpt. 1988), pp. 243-259. There are misprints in note 80 on p. 257:
For gods as summachoi, aside from the Aeschylean passages already mentioned (note 3), cf. Archil. 108W; Hdt. 8.64 Aesch. Supp. 342, 395; S. OT 274; E. Supp. 630.
Read "note 36" for "note 3" and put a semi-colon after "Hdt. 8.64".

On gods as fellow-fighters see also H.S. Versnel, Coping with the Gods: Wayward Readings in Greek Theology (Leiden: Brill, 2011 = Religions in the Graeco-Roman World, 173), note 260 on pp. 93-94.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


From Brevity to Speechlessness

Basil, letter XII (to Olympius; tr. Roy J. Deferrari):
You used to write us little enough, but now you do not write even that little; and if your brevity keeps increasing with the time, it seems likely to become complete speechlessness.

ἔγραφες ἡμῖν πρότερον μὲν ὀλίγα, νῦν δὲ οὐδὲ ὀλίγα· καὶ ἔοικεν ἡ βραχυλογία προϊοῦσα τῷ χρόνῳ παντελὴς γίνεσθαι ἀφωνία.
Note the missing breathing and accent from the first word of the Greek in the digital Loeb Classical Library:

According to Eric Thomson, this error is not in the printed edition.




Vilhelm Ekelund (1880-1949), The Second Light, tr. Lennart Bruce (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1986), pp. 57-58:
How trees know how to mourn! The dryad in the city's wilderness of brick and mortar, between the sparkle of streetcar cables and the roar of cars, is not the same peaceful creature as in the woods or countryside. Ovid would have depicted the spirits of criminals as condemned to languish in these crowns wilting at the height of summer, and the poets of the Greek Anthology would have made them whine in impressionistic epigrams. Trees are creatures that thrive among good people; the crowd looks down on them and finds it ridiculous to enjoy such things. Trees may well be the happiest and most beautiful beings of the creation, and evoke strong feelings when they are humiliated and outraged. A tree speaks to you of superior piety and bliss; your mind is refreshed and soothed when approaching its genius, looking at it with your inner vision. How many trees were guardian spirits, and teachers for the children who grew up under their protection and never forgot the whisper of their branches.


Scholia Aristophanica

William G. Rutherford (1853-1907), A Chapter in the History of Annotation: Being the Scholia Aristophanica, Vol. III (London: Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1905), pp. 387-388:
There are many allusions in the plays which even the earliest of commentators could only annotate by guesses, and as century followed century the number of obscurities augmented. The old learning would seem to have been inaccessible at first hand to the men who compiled the marginal commentaries; and if it had been accessible, it is doubtful if they could have appreciated it at its proper value or used it to any good purpose. It is clear that as represented in the hypomnemata, mostly anonymous, and in the lexica and other books consulted by them, that learning had assumed a most corrupt and fragmentary form. But with this vast subject it is impossible to deal in a sketch of the methods of scholiasts such as this is. There is no presumption, however, in recording the opinion that in ἱστοριῶν ἀπόδοσις the scholiasts to Aristophanes are so rarely to be trusted that everything they provide of substantial interpretative value might be packed into a score or two of pages. On the other side of the account have to be set an encumbering mass of falsehoods and misleading statements due to the improvisation or the charlatanry or the guileless ignorance of scholiasts, and a great deal of nonsense and nastiness generated from silly and undisciplined minds. There is no reason why rubbish should be treated as erudition merely because it is preserved in a brown Greek manuscript, and rubbish undoubtedly the bulk of ἱστοριῶν ἀπόδοσις is that appears in the scholia. If judged without prejudice it is just the sort of thing that the spirit of comedy exists to make fun of.

Monday, March 23, 2015


Ancient and Modern Poets

Gilbert Murray (1866-1957), Euripides and His Age (London: Williams & Norgate, 1913), pp. 102-103:
It is strange to reflect on the gulf that lies between the life of an ancient poet and his modern descendants. Our poets and men of letters mostly live either by writing or by investments eked out by writing. They are professional writers and readers and, as a rule, nothing else. It is comparatively rare for any one of them to face daily dangers, to stand against men who mean to kill him and beside men for whom he is ready to die, to be kept a couple of days fasting, or even to work in the sweat of his body for the food he eats. If such things happen by accident to one of us we cherish them as priceless "copy," or we even go out of our way to compass the experience artificially.

But an ancient poet was living hard, working, thinking, fighting, suffering, through most of the years that we are writing about life. He took part in the political assembly, in the Council, in the jury-courts; he worked at his own farm or business; and every year he was liable to be sent on long military expeditions abroad or to be summoned at a day's notice to defend the frontier at home. It is out of a life like this, a life of crowded reality and work, that Aeschylus and Sophocles and Euripides found leisure to write their tragedies; one writing 90, one 127, and the third 92!



B.L. Gildersleeve, "Brief Mention," American Journal of Philology 34 (1913) 362-371 (at 370):
[B]ibliographies are not always honest. Books are cited as authorities which have not even been opened...

Sunday, March 22, 2015


The Prison of the Zeitgeist

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), The Allegory of Love (1936; rpt. Oxford University Press, 1951), pp. 89-90 (footnote omitted):
Hence, over all the really fine qualities of these poets, lies the loathsome trail of the rhetorician—the infuriating derangement of every sentence from its natural order, the fantastic choice of vocabulary, the anadiplosis, the sententia, and the amplificatio. They are all terribly obedient to the rhetor's precept varius sis et tamen idem. Their reader must have endless patience and dig deep if he is to find the real merits that lie buried beneath the 'curious terms', the 'fresh colours', the 'sugared rhetoric', and all the other tasteless foolery which corrupts the 'literary' Latin of the time, as it was later to corrupt the vernacular. Yet the task is worth attempting; for surely to be indulgent to mere fashion in other periods, and merciless to it in our own, is the first step we can make out of the prison of the Zeitgeist?


Keeping the Sabbath

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), "My Sabbath":
Some keep the Sabbath going to Church –
I keep it, staying at Home –
With a Bobolink for a Chorister –
And an Orchard, for a Dome –

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice –
I, just wear my Wings –
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton – sings.

God preaches, a noted Clergyman –
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last –
I'm going, all along.
Hat tip: Jane Mallison.

Related posts:

Saturday, March 21, 2015


Presbyterian versus Popistic Latin

Archibald Pitcairn (1652-1713), The Phanaticks, ed. John MacQueen (Woodbridge: The Scottish Text Society, 2012), pp. 56-57 (fol. 173v, from Act V, Scene i, with asterisks omitted):
Novell: The Dauphin is happie in this, that he hath learned his Latine er he came, for I'm perswaded he would have bein under ane ill Mr for that quhill under Salathiel's tutorie, who is so professed ane enimie to poor Prisciane (God help him!) as he is to K. James, and hes no true Latine to himselfe.
Visioner: No Latine! — why, that's a Mistack. Did you not hear him speak ane oratne halfe-an-houer long, all Greek and Latine, just the othr day?
Novell: All the Latine and sense both in it myht have bein so in a much shorter tyme. Ther wes never a sentence of Roman Latine in it.
Visioner: Roman Latine, qoth he — I know quhair I should find you. A presbyterian, protestant man to speack filthie Roman popish Latine!
Novell: I say that barbarous Ignorance. I' Gad, thou understands not. I mean such Latine as the auntient Romans spock.
Visioner: Still worse! That's my positne, that a presbyterian ought to speack presbyterian Latine, and ther should be ant act of the assemblie against all Roman Latine, The language of the whore. I hop in God to heir non of it spak except K. James come back again, quhilk God for his owne glory will not permitt.
Novell: Who cane endure this? What think you of this Latine, Si aliquis virus colebit fasum Deum aut verum Deum, ut non scryptum est, iste virus est guiltus Idolatrie?
Visioner: That may be good enough presbyteriane Latine. Ye may as soon Induce him to Mass as to speack Roman popistic Latin.
Novell: Damn me! Si aliquis virus speackes such Latine, iste virus should be hanged. But what think you of Biblia potest apprehendi cum mediis extraordinaribus et supenaturalibus?
Visioner: Why, that's easie understood. Biblia, 'the Bible', potest apprehendi, 'cane be apprehended', cum mediis extraordinaribus et supernaturalibus, 'with supernaturall & extraordinarie means'. It wes ay good Latine that runs smooth with -bus & -orum & sounds weall.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

Friday, March 20, 2015


Reorganization of the Week

Christopher Morley (1890-1957), Mince Pie (New York: George H. Doran Company, 1919), p. 51:
If we had our way, we would set aside one day a week for talking. In fact, we would reorganize the week altogether. We would have one day for Worship (let each man devote it to worship of whatever he holds dearest); one day for Work; one day for Play (probably fishing); one day for Talking; one day for Reading, and one day for Smoking and Thinking. That would leave one day for Resting, and (incidentally) interviewing employers.
Related posts:


Jonson and Shakespeare

James Freeman Clarke, “Did Shakespeare Write Bacon's Works?”, North American Review, Vol. 132, No. 291 (February, 1881) 163-175 (at 167-168):
But Ben Jonson himself furnishes the best reply to those who think that Shakespeare could not have gained much knowledge of science or literature because he did not go to Oxford or Cambridge. What opportunities had Ben Jonson? A brick-layer by trade, called back immediately from his studies to use the trowel; then running away and enlisting as a common soldier; fighting in the Low Countries; coming home at nineteen, and going on the stage; sent to prison for fighting a duel—what opportunities for study had he? He was of a strong animal nature, combative, in perpetual quarrels, fond of drink, in pecuniary troubles, married at twenty, with a wife and children to support. Yet Jonson was celebrated for his learning. He was master of Greek and Latin literature. He took his characters from Athenaeus, Libanius, Philostratus. Somehow he had found time for all this study. "Greek and Latin thought," says Taine, "were incorporated with his own, and made a part of it. He knew alchemy, and was as familiar with alembics, retorts, crucibles, etc., as if he had passed his life in seeking the philosopher's stone. He seems to have had a specialty in every branch of knowledge. He had all the methods of Latin art—possessed the brilliant conciseness of Seneca and Lucan." If Ben Jonson—a brick-layer, a soldier, a fighter, a drinker—could yet get time to acquire this vast knowledge, is there any reason why Shakespeare, with much more leisure, might not have done the like? He did not possess as much Greek and Latin lore as Ben Jonson, who, probably, had Shakespeare in his mind when he wrote the following passage in his "Poetaster":
"His learning savors not the school-like gloss
That most consists in echoing words and terms,
And soonest wins a man an empty name;
Nor any long or far-fetched circumstance
Wrapt in the curious generalties of art—
But a direct and analytic sum
Of all the worth and first effects of art.
And for his poesy, 'tis so rammed with life,
That it shall gather strength of life with being,
And live hereafter more admired than now."
Hat tip: Karl Maurer.


This Barbaric Age

Robert Graves (1895-1985), The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth, 4th ed. (1997; rpt. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), p. 218:
[N]o scholar dares to set himself up as an authority on more than one narrow subject for fear of incurring the dislike and suspicion of his colleagues. To know only one thing well is to have a barbaric mind: civilization implies the graceful relation of all varieties of experience to a central humane system of thought. The present age is peculiarly barbaric: introduce, say, a Hebrew scholar to an ichthyologist or an authority on Danish place names and the pair of them would have no single topic in common but the weather or the war (if there happened to be a war in progress, which is usual in this barbaric age). But that so many scholars are barbarians does not much matter so long as a few of them are ready to help with their specialized knowledge the few independent thinkers, that is to say the poets, who try to keep civilization alive. The scholar is a quarryman, not a builder, and all that is required of him is that he should quarry cleanly.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Variae Lectiones

Joseph Addison, Spectator, No. 470 (Friday, August 29, 1712):
I have been very often disappointed of late Years, when upon examining the new Edition of a Classick Author, I have found above half the Volume taken up with various Readings. When I have expected to meet with a learned Note upon a doubtful Passage in a Latin Poet, I have only been informed, that such or such Ancient Manuscripts for an et write an ac, or of some other notable Discovery of the like Importance. Indeed, when a different Reading gives us a different Sense, or a new Elegance in an Author, the Editor does very well in taking Notice of it; but when he only entertains us with the several ways of spelling the same Word, and gathers together the various Blunders and Mistakes of twenty or thirty different Transcribers, they only take up the Time of the learned Reader, and puzzle the Minds of the Ignorant. I have often fancied with my self how enraged an old Latin Author would be, should he see the several Absurdities in Sense and Grammar, which are imputed to him by some or other of these various Readings. In one he speaks Nonsense; in another, makes use of a Word that was never heard of: And indeed there is scarce a Solecism in Writing which the best Author is not guilty of, if we may be at Liberty to read him in the Words of some Manuscript, which the laborious Editor has thought fit to examine in the Prosecution of his Work.


The Scholar Defined

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), The Allegory of Love (1936; rpt. Oxford University Press, 1951), pp. 78-79 (on Martianus Capella):
It is uncertain whether he was a Christian or a pagan. Indeed, the distinction scarcely applies to him; such men do not have beliefs. I have heard the scholar defined as one who has a propensity to collect useless information, and in this sense Martianus is the very type of the scholar. The philosophies of others, the religions of others—back even to the twilight of pre-republican Rome—have all gone into the curiosity shop of his mind. It is not his business to believe or disbelieve them; the wicked old pedant knows a trick worth two of that. He piles them up all round him till there is hardly room for him to sit among them in the middle darkness of the shop; and there he gloats and catalogues, but never dusts them, for even their dust is precious in his eyes.


Comic Catalogues of Love's Ills

Plautus, Mercator 18-19, 24-31 (tr. Wolfgang de Melo):
Well, normally all these vices go hand in hand with love: worry, distress, and excessive refinement....But the following things that I didn't mention also go hand in hand with love: sleeplessness, toil, uncertainty, fright, and flight. There's silliness, stupidity to boot and recklessness, mindless thoughtlessness, lack of moderation, petulance and lust, malevolence; laziness, greed, idleness, injustice, lack, disgrace and waste, over-talkativeness, under-talkativeness.

nam amorem haec cuncta vitia sectari solent,
cura, aegritudo, nimiaque elegantia.
sed amori accedunt etiam haec quae dixi minus:
insomnia, aerumna, error, [et] terror, et fuga:        25
ineptia , stultitiaque adeo et temeritas[t],
incogitantia excors, immodestia,
petulantia et cupiditas, malevolentia;
inertia, aviditas, desidia, iniuria,
inopia, contumelia et dispendium,        30
multiloquium, parumloquium.
Terence, Eunuchus 59-61 (tr. John Sargeaunt):
Love has in it all these evils: wrongs, jealousies, quarrels, reconcilements, war, then peace again.

in amore haec omnia insunt vitia: iniuriae,
suspiciones, inimicitiae, indutiae,        60
bellum, pax rursum.
See Keith Preston, Studies in the Diction of the Sermo Amatorius in Roman Comedy (Menasha: George Banta Publishing Company, 1916 = diss. University of Chicago, 1914), pp. 4-14.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Understanding Old Writers

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), The Allegory of Love (1936; rpt. Oxford University Press, 1951), p. 31:
We have to worm our way very cautiously into the minds of these old writers: an a priori assumption as to what can, and what can not, be the expression of real imaginative experience is the worst possible guide.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Whatever We Have Been

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), The Allegory of Love (1936; rpt. Oxford University Press, 1951), p. 1:
The study of this whole tradition may seem, at first sight, to be but one more example of that itch for 'revival', that refusal to leave any corpse ungalvanized, which is among the more distressing accidents of scholarship. But such a view would be superficial. Humanity does not pass through phases as a train passes through stations: being alive, it has the privilege of always moving yet never leaving anything behind. Whatever we have been, in some sort we are still. Neither the form nor the sentiment of this old poetry has passed away without leaving indelible traces on our minds.



The motto of the periodical Romania, founded in 1872 by Paul Meyer (1840-1917) and Gaston Paris (1839-1903), is
Pur remenbrer des ancessurs
Les diz et les faiz et les murs.
The motto comes from Wace (12th century), Roman de Rou, part III, lines 1-10 (tr. Glyn S. Burgess):
To remember the deeds, words and ways of our ancestors, the wicked deeds of wicked men and the brave deeds of brave men, chronicles and histories should be read out at festivals. If documents were not composed and then read and recounted by clerics, many things which transpired in times gone by would be forgotten.
The text as it appears in Hugo Andresen's edition (Heilbronn: Henninger, 1879), p. 29:
Pvr remembrer des ancesurs
Les feiz e les diz e les murs,
Les felunies des feluns
E les barnages des baruns
Deit l'um les liures e les gestes
E les estoires lire a[s] festes.
Si escripture ne fust feite
E puis par clers litte e retraite,
Mult fussent choses ubliees,
Ki de uiez tens sunt trespassees.
Related post: Guiding Principles.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


The Poet

Robert Graves (1895-1985), The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth, 4th ed. (1997; rpt. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), p. 94:
The poet is the unsatisfied child who dares to ask the difficult question which arises from the schoolmaster's answer to his simple question, and then the still more difficult question which arises from that.


Sabbath Observance

Robert Graves (1895-1985), "The Boy out of Church," Country Sentiment (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1920), pp. 20-21:
As Jesus and his followers
    Upon a Sabbath morn
Were walking by a wheat field
    They plucked the ears of corn.

They plucked it, they rubbed it,
    They blew the husks away,
Which grieved the pious pharisees
    Upon the Sabbath day.

And Jesus said, "A riddle
    Answer if you can,
Was man made for the Sabbath
    Or Sabbath made for man?"

I do not love the Sabbath,
    The soapsuds and the starch,
The troops of solemn people
    Who to Salvation march.

I take my book, I take my stick
    On the Sabbath day,
In woody nooks and valleys
    I hide myself away.

To ponder there in quiet
    God's Universal Plan,
Resolved that church and Sabbath
    Were never made for man.
Related posts:


But Who Will Teach Me Latin?

Charles Kingsley (1819-1875), Alton Locke, chapter III (conversation between Sandy Mackaye and Alton Locke);
"If ye canna traduce to me a page o' Virgil by this day three months, ye read no more o' my books. Desultory reading is the bane o' lads. Ye maun begin with self-restraint and method, my man, gin ye intend to gie yoursel' a liberal education. So I'll just mak' you a present of an auld Latin grammar, and ye maun begin where your betters ha' begun before you."

"But who will teach me Latin?"

"Hoot, man! who'll teach a man anything except himsel'? It's only gentlefolks and puir aristocrat bodies that go to be spoilt wi' tutors and pedagogues, cramming and loading them wi' knowledge, as ye'd load a gun, to shoot it all out again, just as it went down, in a college examination, and forget all aboot it after."

"Ah!" I sighed, "if I could have gone to college!"

"What for, then? My father was a Hieland farmer, and yet he was a weel learned man: and 'Sandy, my lad,' he used to say, 'a man kens just as much as he's taught himsel', and na mair. So get wisdom; and wi' all your getting, get understanding.' And so I did. And mony's the Greek exercise I've written in the cowbyres. And mony's the page o' Virgil, too, I've turned into good Dawric Scotch to ane that's dead and gane, poor hizzie, sitting under the same plaid, with the sheep feeding round us, up among the hills, looking out ower the broad blue sea, and the wee haven wi' the fishing cobles——"

There was a long solemn pause. I cannot tell why, but I loved the man from that moment; and I thought, too, that he began to love me. Those few words seemed a proof of confidence, perhaps all the deeper, because accidental and unconscious.

I took the Virgil which he lent me, with Hamilton's literal translation between the lines, and an old tattered Latin grammar; I felt myself quite a learned man—actually the possessor of a Latin book!

Friday, March 13, 2015


You Like Being Considered Obscure

Marc-Antoine Muret (1526-1585), "In Paulum" (i.e. "Against Paulus"), in The Iuvenilia of Marc-Antoine Muret. With a translation, introduction, notes, and commentary by Kirk M. Summers (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2006), pp. 114-117 (indentation of the Latin altered by me from lines 6 to 10):
Recently I looked over the poems you had written,
and I swear I read them three and four times.
And yet, I wasn't able to understand what they mean.
You're in the habit of writing so obscurely, Paulus.
For, so far as I can tell, you stuff your verses with words
you've taken from the Sibylline books, words that were
already too old in the days of Cato.
You like being considered obscure,
as if you've shrouded everything in a mist.
This is your only mistake, Paulus, that when you send your poems,
you should also send a philologist.

Quae tu condideras, inspexi carmina nuper,
    Lectaque sunt, fateor, terque quaterque mihi;
Nec tamen evalui cognoscere quid sibi vellent.
    Usque adeo obscure scribere, Paule, soles.
Nam tu verba, puto, ex libris accepta Sibyllae,
    Quaeque Catonis erant tempore prisca nimis,
Versibus infercis gaudesque obscurus haberi
    Et velut inducta singula nube tegis:
Errasti hoc tantum, quod mittens carmina, Paule,
    Debueras una mittere grammaticum.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.


So Familiar and So Foreign

James Joyce (1882-1941), A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, chapter 5:
The language in which we are speaking is his before it is mine. How different are the words home, Christ, ale, master, on his lips and on mine! I cannot speak or write these words without unrest of spirit. His language, so familiar and so foreign, will always be for me an acquired speech. I have not made or accepted its words. My voice holds them at bay. My soul frets in the shadow of his language.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Gravesian Etymologies: Bellus

Robert Graves (1895-1985), The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth, 4th ed. (1997; rpt. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), p. 53 (discussing the Sumerian goddess Belili):
The Slavonic word beli meaning 'white' and the Latin bellus meaning 'beautiful' are also ultimately connected with her name.
Latin bellus has nothing whatsoever to do with Belili. It's a diminutive related to bonus. See Alfred Ernout and Alfred Meillet, Dictionnaire Étymologique de la Langue Latine. Histoire des Mots, 4th ed. (Paris: Klincksieck, 2001), p. 73:
De bonus existe un diminutif familier, employé à toutes les époques: bellus, de *dwenolos, dont la parenté avec bonus avait déjà été reconnue par Priscien, GLK II 80, 7.

Dear Michael Gilleland,

It may interest you to know that Max Vasmer (Russisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch, Heidelberg, 1950-58) provides the following non-Slavic Indo-European cognates for the Russian белый: Sanskrit bhālam "radiance", bhāti "shine", Greek πεφήσεται (from φάινω from *φάνɩω), πέφη, ἐφάνη, Lithuanian bolúoti "whiten", Latvian bãls "pale", Lithuanian balas "white", Greek φαλός, λευκός, φάλιος, Albanian ballë "forehead, brow", Old Icelandic bál "fire" (Этимологический Словарь Русского Языка, перевод с немецкого и дополнения О. Н. Трубачева, Издательство АЗБУКА, Санкт-Петербург, 1996, том I, стр. 149).

Yours sincerely,

Alistair Ian Blyth


Wednesday, March 11, 2015


A Most Suitable Occupation

Théophile Gautier (1811-1872), preface to Mademoiselle de Maupin (tr. Eleanor Marx Aveling):
It appears to me that the most fitting occupation for a civilised man is to do nothing, or to smoke analytically his pipe or cigar.

L'occupation la plus séante à un homme policé me paraît de ne rien faire, ou de fumer analytiquement sa pipe ou son cigare.


Anger Management

St. Augustine, Letters 38.2 (to Profuturus; tr. James Houston Baxter):
Although no angry person thinks his own anger is unjustified, it grows upon him, and anger that becomes inveterate in this way passes into hatred, since the pleasureableness that accompanies an apparently justified resentment keeps it longer in the vessel until the whole thing grows sour and spoils the vessel. For this reason it is much better to be angry with no one, even when it is justifiable, than from apparently justified anger to slip by the stealthy tendency of passion into hatred of anyone. We have a proverbial saying about welcoming unknown guests that it is much better to endure a bad man than through ignorance to risk shutting out a good one from fear of welcoming a bad one. But with our passions the opposite is true: for it is beyond comparison a more beneficial thing not to open the shrine of our heart at the knock of even justified anger than to yield it entrance: once in, it will not easily be expelled, and it will grow from a sapling to a sturdy tree, since it boldly and shamelessly develops at an even greater speed than people imagine, for it is not put to shame in the darkness, when the sun has gone down upon it.

subrepit autem, dum nulli irascenti ira sua videtur iniusta. ita enim inveterescens ira fit odium, dum quasi iusti doloris admixta dulcedo diutius eam in vase detinet, donec totum acescat vasque corrumpat. quapropter multo melius nec iuste cuiquam irascimur, quam velut iuste irascendo in alicuius odium irae occulta facilitate delabimur. in recipiendis enim hospitibus ignotis solemus dicere multo esse melius malum hominem perpeti quam forsitan per ignorantiam excludi bonum, dum cavemus, ne recipiatur malus. sed in affectibus animi contra est. nam incomparabiliter salubrius est irae etiam iuste pulsanti non aperire penetrale cordis quam admittere non facile recessuram et perventuram de surculo ad trabem. audet quippe inpudenter etiam crescere citius, quam putatur. non enim erubescit in tenebris, cum super eam sol occiderit.


The Function and Use of Poetry

Robert Graves (1895-1985), The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth, 4th ed. (1997; rpt. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), p. 10:
The function of poetry is religious invocation of the Muse; its use is the experience of mixed exaltation and horror that her presence excites.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


That's the Life

A Latin inscription from Timgad, Algeria (Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum 8.17938 = Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae 8626), tr. Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967; rpt. 1975), p. 19:
The hunt, the baths,
play and laughter:
that's the life for me!
The Latin:
The stone (photograph by R. Gogräfe):

A description of the location, by John Ferguson, "Roman Algeria," Greece & Rome 13.2 (October, 1966) 169-187 (at 174-175):
It is a stupendous site. There is no finer, outside Pompeii and Ostia. The town as Trajan built it, Colonia Marciana Traiana Thamugadi, an approximate square with side a little under a quarter of a mile, and 12 blocks each way, is virtually complete in ground-plan and ground-floor, and perhaps the greatest thrill is simply to walk up and down the miles of finely paved Roman streets. Within this area a number of public buildings survive. There is a beautiful hemispherical public library, for instance, and a fine theatre (which may however be a little later in date) seating up to 4,000 people. The forum is of great interest. It is a rectangle about 165 ft. by 140 ft., paved with a bluish limestone, and surrounded by public buildings. These include elaborate public latrines with single and double seats, separated by arms in the form of dolphins. The paving preserves a number of graffiti, including a gaming-board, a phallus, and a cheerful message VENARI LAVARI LUDERE RIDERE OCC EST VIVERE.
The inscription would have served as a space on which to play the ludus duodecim scriptorum, as described by R.G. Austin, "Roman Board Games. I," Greece & Rome 4.10 (October, 1934) 24-34 (at 30-34, where similar inscriptions are also discussed).

Monday, March 09, 2015


A Roman Dandy

Macrobius, Saturnalia 3.13.4-5 (on Quintus Hortensius; tr. Robert A. Kaster):
He took great pains over the elegance of his clothes, and to make sure he was leaving the house well turned out, he searched his appearance in a mirror, wrapping his toga around his body while he watched and using a skillful knot to keep the pleats in place—no random pleats, but carefully arranged!—and to make sure that the fold of the garment as it fell followed the contours of his upper body. Once, when he was striding along dressed to the nines, he brought a suit against a colleague for a tort—because the man chanced to brush against him when they met in narrow alley-way and mussed the arrangement of his toga—regarding it as a capital offense that a pleat had been dislodged on his shoulder.

fuit enim vestitu ad munditiem curioso et ut bene amictus iret, faciem in speculo quaerebat, ubi se intuens togam corpori sic adplicabat, ut rugas non forte sed industria locatas artifex nodus astringeret et sinus ex composito defluens modum lateris ambiret. is quondam cum incederet elaboratus ad speciem, collegae de iniuriis diem dixit, quod sibi in angustiis obvius offensu fortuito structuram togae destruxerat, et capital putavit quod in umero suo locum ruga mutasset.

Saturday, March 07, 2015


Epipompē in a Spell against Headache

A spell from a 16th century Greek manuscript in the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venice (cod. Marc. gr. app. II 163), tr. Roy Kotansky in Greek Magical Amulets. The Inscribed Gold, Silver, Copper, and Bronze Lamellae, Part I: Published Texts of Known Provenance (Opladen: Westdeutscher, 1994 = Abhandlungen der Nordrhein-Westfälischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Sonderreihe Papyrologica Coloniensia, 22:1), p. 61 (italics removed):
Migraine-prayer against the headache:
Migraine came out from the sea rioting and roaring,
and our Lord Jesus Christ came to meet it and said to it:
"Where are you going, O headache and migraine and pain in the skull and in the eyes and inflammation and tears and leukoma and dizziness?"
And the Headache answered our Lord Jesus Christ:
"We are going to sit down in the head of the servant of God, So-and-So."
And our Lord Jesus Christ said to it:
"Look here, do not go into my servant, but be off altogether and go into the mountains and settle in a bull's head. There you may eat flesh, there drink blood, there ruin the eyes, there darken the head, seethe and wriggle. But if you do not obey me, I shall destroy you there on the burning mountain where no dog barks and cock does not crow."
You who have set a limit to the sea stop headache and migraine and the pain in the skull and between the eyes and on the lids and from the marrow from the servant of the Lord, So-and-So.
Richard Wünsch (1869-1915) first used the terms apopompē (ἀποπομπή) and epipompē (ἐπιπομπή) to describe two different ways of banishing evil. See his "Zur Geisterbannung im Altertum," Festschrift zur Jahrhundertfeier der Universität zu Breslau = Mitteilungen der Schlesischen Gesellschaft für Volkskunde 13/14 (1911) 9-32. Wünsch used apopompē to mean simply driving away evil, epipompē to mean driving away evil onto someone or something else or to some other specific location.

In this spell we see an example of epipompē, where Jesus advises the headache to go away into a bull's head.

Friday, March 06, 2015


A Newly Discovered Play by Plautus?

From the digital Loeb Classical Library's list of Plautus' plays (screen shot captured today; outline added by me):

For Circulio read Curculio.



Bygone Days

Macrobius, Saturnalia 3.14.2 (Rufius Albinus speaking; tr. Robert A. Kaster):
To be sure, we must always revere the days gone by, if we have any sense: those were the generations that produced this dominion of ours with their blood or sweat, and only an abundance of virtues could have made that possible.

vetustas quidem nobis semper, si sapimus, adoranda est. illa quippe saecula sunt quae hoc imperium vel sanguine vel sudore pepererunt, quod non nisi virtutum faceret ubertas.


What Is a Scholar?

Robert Graves (1895-1985), The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth, 4th ed. (1997; rpt. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), p. 21:
But, after all, what is a scholar? One who may not break bounds on pain of expulsion from the academy of which he is a member.


I Hate My Bed!

Eric Ormsby, "A Kingdom in Splinters," New Criterion (March, 2015), a review of James Turner, Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014):
When I first met the late Albert Jamme, the renowned epigrapher of Old South Arabian, this Belgian Jesuit startled me by exclaiming at the top of his voice, "I hate my bed!" When I politely suggested that he get a new mattress, he shot back with "No, no! I hate my bed because it keeps me from my texts!"

Thursday, March 05, 2015


Errors Repeat and Multiply in Every Edition

John Evelyn, letter to Edward Hyde (November 27, 1666), in The Letterbooks of John Evelyn, Vol. I: British Museum Add Ms 78298, edd. Douglas D.C. Chambers and David Galbraith (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014), pp. 423-426 (at 423-425; footnotes omitted):
The affaire is this: Since the late deplorable Conflagration, in which the stationers have been exceedingly ruin'd, there is like to be an extraordinary penury and scarcity of Classic Authors etc. us'd in our Grammar scholes; so as of necessity they must suddainely be reprinted. My Lord may please to understand, that our Book-Sellers follow their owne judgement in printing the antient Authors according to such Text, as they found extant when first they entred their Copy: Whereas, out of manuscripts collated by the industry of later Critics, those Authors are exceedingly improved. For instance, about 30 yeares since, Justine was corrected by Isaac Vossius in many hundreds of places most material to sense, and Elegancy; and has since ben frequently reprinted in Holland after the purer Copy. But, with us, still according to the old Reading: The like has Florus, Senecas Tragedys and neere all the rest: which have in the meane time been castigated abroad by severall learned hands, which, besides that it makes ours to be rejected, and dishonours our nation; so dos it no lesse detriment to Learning, and to the treasure of the nation in proportion. The Cause of this is, principaly the Stationar driving as hard and cruel a bargain with the Printer as he can; and the Printer taking up any Smatterer in the Tongues, to be the lesse looser; an exactnesse in this no wayes importing the stipulation; by which meanes Errors repeate and multiply in every Edition, and that most notoriously in some most necessary schole-books of Value, which they obtrude upon the Buyer, unlesse men will be at unreasonable rates for forraine Editions.
Id.(at 425):
My Lord, If this Paper find acceptance, I would be bold to add some other farther hints for the Carying it on to some perfection. For beside all I have sayd, there will neede paines in reading, consulting manuscripts and conferences with learned men; good Indexes, apt divisions, Chapters and Verses as the Dutch Variorum, Embellishment of Roman and Italique letters to separate inserted Speeches; especialy in Historians and Sententious Authors, which adds to the use, lustre, choyce of Succinct Notes, as difficult so the profitable, after more terse and profitable Copy, etc.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.


Always Something To Hope For?

St. Augustine, Letters 213.1 (tr. Roland J. Teske):
In this life we are all subject to death, and the last day of this life is always uncertain for every human being. Yet in infancy one looks forward to childhood, and in childhood one looks forward to adolescence, and in adolescence one looks forward to young adulthood, and in young adulthood one looks forward to maturity, and in maturity one looks forward to old age. Whether it will come is uncertain, and yet one looks forward to it. Old age, however, does not have another age that it looks forward to. It is also uncertain how long one's old age will be; it is certain, nevertheless, that no age remains that will come after old age.

omnes in hac vita mortales sumus et dies huius vitae ultimus omni homini est semper incertus. verum tamen in infantia speratur pueritia et in pueritia speratur adolescentia et in adolescentia speratur iuventus et in iuventute speratur gravitas et in gravitate speratur senectus. utrum contingat incertum est; est tamen, quod speretur. senectus autem aliam aetatem, quam speret, non habet. incertum est enim, ipsa senectus quamdiu sit homini; illud tamen certum est, nullam remanere aetatem quae possit succedere senectuti.


Plautus, Persa 408: Asyndetic, Privative Adjectives

Plautus, Persa 408 (Toxilus is addressing and berating the pimp Dordalus):
impure, inhoneste, iniure, illex


Wednesday, March 04, 2015


Raison d'Être

Jane Austen (1775-1817), Pride and Prejudice, chapter LVII (Mr. Bennet speaking):
For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?
Hat tip: Mrs. Laudator.


My Utmost Designs

John Evelyn, letter to his uncle William Prettyman (December 2, 1651), in The Letterbooks of John Evelyn, Vol. I: British Museum Add Ms 78298, edd. Douglas D.C. Chambers and David Galbraith (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014), pp. 103-104 (at 104):
A Friend, a Booke, and a Garden shall for the future perfectly circumscribe my utmost designes...
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.



Henry de Montherlant (1895-1972), excerpt from Carnet XXI, in his Essais (Paris: Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, 1963), pp. 1034-1035 (from 1931; my translation):
We can detect only the kitsch of our own time. We have trouble imagining what might have appeared in bad taste to someone in the days of Pericles, or Saint Louis. The ubiquity of angels, for example, which delights us in the art of the Middle Ages—wouldn't it have seemed unbearably trite to a sensitive person of that time? And we swoon over ancient terracotta pieces which Verres would have rejected for his concierge's quarters.

La vulgarité ne nous frappe que contemporaine. Nous avons peine à nous représenter ce qui pouvait paraître vulgaire à un homme du temps de Périclès ou du temps de saint Louis. Le leitmotiv des anges, par exemple, qui nous enchante dans l'imagerie du moyen âge, ne fit-il pas l'effet à tel contemporain délicat d'un lieu commun insupportable? Et nous adorons des terres cuites antiques dont Verrès n'eût pas voulu pour la loge de son concierge.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015


The Thinker

Plautus, Miles Gloriosus 200-209 (tr. Paul Nixon):
Just look at him, how he stands there with bent brow, considering and cogitating. He's tapping his chest with his fingers. Intends to summon forth his intelligence, I suppose. Aha! Turns away! Rests his left hand on his left thigh, and reckons on the fingers of his right hand. Gives his right thigh a smack! A lusty whack—his plan of action is having a hard birth. Snaps his fingers! He's in distress. Constantly changes his position! Look there, though; he's shaking his head—that idea won't do! He won't take it out half baked, whatever it is, but give it to us done to a turn. Look, though! (as Palaestrio rests his chin on his hand) He's building—supporting his chin with a pillar.

                                                                    illuc sis vide,        200
quem ad modum adstitit, severo fronte curans cogitans.
pectus digitis pultat, cor credo evocaturust foras;
ecce avortit: nixus laevo in femine habet laevam manum,
dextera digitis rationem computat, ferit femur
dexterum. ita vehementer icit: quod agat aegre suppetit.        205
concrepuit digitis: laborat; crebro commutat status,
eccere autem capite nutat: non placet quod repperit.
quidquid est, incoctum non expromet, bene coctum dabit.
ecce autem aedificat: columnam mento suffigit suo.

Auguste Rodin, Le Penseur


Who Has Bitten You?

Théophile Gautier (1811-1872), preface to Mademoiselle de Maupin (tr. Eleanor Marx Aveling):
The great affectation of morality which reigns at present would be very laughable, if it were not very tiresome. Every feuilleton becomes a pulpit, every journalist a preacher, and nothing but the tonsure and the little collar is wanting. Rainy weather and homilies are the order of the day; we protect ourselves from the one by not going out except in a carriage, and from the other by reading Pantagruel again with bottle and pipe.

Good heavens! what exasperation! what fury! Who has bitten you? Who has stung you? What the deuce is the matter with you, that you make such an outcry, and what has this poor vice done to you, that he has so much of your ill-will, he who is such a good fellow and so easy-going, and who only asks to amuse himself without annoying other people, if that be possible? Do with vice as Serre did with the gendarme: embrace each other, and let all this come to an end. Believe me, it will do you good.

Cette grande affectation de morale qui règne maintenant serait fort risible, si elle n'était fort ennuyeuse. — Chaque feuilleton devient une chaire; chaque journaliste, un prédicateur; il n'y manque que la tonsure et le petit collet. Le temps est à la pluie et à l'homélie: on se défend de l'une et de l'autre en ne sortant qu'en voiture et en relisant Pantagruel entre sa bouteille et sa pipe.

Mon doux Jésus! quel déchaînement! quelle furie! — Qui vous a mordu? qui vous a piqué? que diable avez-vous donc pour crier si haut, et que vous a fait ce pauvre vice pour lui en tant vouloir, lui qui est si bon homme, si facile à vivre, et qui ne demande qu'à s'amuser lui-même et à ne pas ennuyer les autres, si faire se peut? — Agissez avec le vice comme Serre avec le gendarme: embrassez-vous, et que tout cela finisse. — Croyez-m'en, vous vous en trouverez bien.

Monday, March 02, 2015


In the Time That's Left

Plautus, Mercator 547-554 (tr. Paul Nixon):
Only a short space of life is left me, I'll sweeten it with pleasure and wine and love. Why, my age is just the proper season to have my fling. When you're young and your blood's fresh, that's the time to settle down to making your fortune; and then at last when you're old, why, that's the time to take your ease and enjoy your love affairs while you can. For then each day of life is clear profit.

decurso spatio breve quod vitae relicuomst
voluptate, vino et amore delectavero.
nam hanc se bene habere aetatem nimiost aequius.
adulescens quom sis, tum quom est sanguis integer,        550
rei tuae quaerundae convenit operam dare;
demum igitur quom sis iam senex, tum in otium
te conloces, dum potes ames: id iam lucrumst
quod vivis.
Related post: Proper Pursuits for an Old Man.

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