Wednesday, April 01, 2015


Possession and Use of Riches

Isocrates 1.27-28 (tr. George Norlin):
Set not your heart on the excessive acquisition of goods, but on a moderate enjoyment of what you have. Despise those who strain after riches, but are not able to use what they have; they are in like case with a man who, being but a wretched horseman, gets him a fine mount. [28] Try to make of money a thing to use as well as to possess; it is a thing of use to those who understand how to enjoy it, and a mere possession to those who are able only to acquire it. Prize the substance you have for two reasons—that you may have the means to meet a heavy loss and that you may go to the aid of a worthy friend when he is in distress; but for your life in general, cherish your possessions not in excess but in moderation.

ἀγάπα τῶν ὑπαρχόντων ἀγαθῶν μὴ τὴν ὑπερβάλλουσαν κτῆσιν ἀλλὰ τὴν μετρίαν ἀπόλαυσιν. καταφρόνει τῶν περὶ τὸν πλοῦτον σπουδαζόντων μέν, χρῆσθαι δὲ τοῖς ὑπάρχουσι μὴ δυναμένων· παραπλήσιον γὰρ οἱ τοιοῦτοι πάσχουσιν, ὥσπερ ἂν εἴ τις ἵππον κτήσαιτο καλὸν κακῶς ἱππεύειν ἐπιστάμενος. [28] πειρῶ τὸν πλοῦτον χρήματα καὶ κτήματα κατασκευάζειν. ἔστι δὲ χρήματα μὲν τοῖς ἀπολαύειν ἐπισταμένοις, κτήματα δὲ τοῖς κτᾶσθαι δυναμένοις. τίμα τὴν ὑπάρχουσαν οὐσίαν δυοῖν ἕνεκεν, τοῦ τε ζημίαν μεγάλην ἐκτῖσαι δύνασθαι, καὶ τοῦ φίλῳ σπουδαίῳ δυστυχοῦντι βοηθῆσαι· πρὸς δὲ τὸν ἄλλον βίον μηδὲν ὑπερβαλλόντως ἀλλὰ μετρίως αὐτὴν ἀγάπα.

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.


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