Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Beware of the Atmosphere of the Classics

John Stuart Blackie (1809-1895), Altavona: Fact and Fiction from My Life in the Highlands (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1882), pp. 321-322:
As to what you say about the gloomy aspect and sour Pharisaism of the trans-Grampian religion, it is certainly true, but true at the same time to a considerable extent of Scotland generally. The religion of the so-called Evangelical clergy in the Lowlands is strongly tinged, if not with gloom, certainly with a tone of habitual antagonism to all innocent enjoyment and playful recreation. With these men playing at cards is a deadly sin, and dancing a sort of quick march to hell. For a minister of the gospel to talk on any other subject than God, and hell, and eternity, is to slide into worldly conversation. Living persons should, if possible, always be talking about death. If you read the biographies of some of their most popular spokesmen, you will find that their religious life commences with a profound conviction that the world lies under a curse, that all men are naturally hell-deserving sinners, and that original sin, or moral contamination inherited from our primal progenitor, so far from being a palliation, as it logically must be, is rather to be viewed as an exaggeration of the guilt of any actual sins that a man may commit. In a world so abandoned of God, the only thing a wise man can do is to keep at a distance from it, to look upon all natural pleasures as sinful, and to devote the mind altogether to emotional preparation for a future and higher life, of which the present is only the thorny entrance. Such a religion, like Oriental Buddhism, is in fact a renunciation of humanity and a declaration of war against all temporal and visible enjoyments. It is a temper the very reverse of that which was praised and practised by Socrates and the other wise Greeks. To them religion was rather the art of enjoying the present life according to reason. Hence the notable antipathy which our so-called Evangelical religionists feel to all classical culture. M'Cheyne of Dundee wrote to one of his early friends to "beware of the atmosphere of the classics; it is pernicious, and must be known only as chemists know poisons."1

1 Memoirs of R. Murray M'Cheyne (Edinburgh, 1875), pp. 22, 29, 39, and 54.


The Greatest Period of My Life

Stendhal (1783-1842), The Life of Henry Brulard, tr. John Sturrock (New York: New York Review Books, 2002), p. 99:
Judge of the effect of Don Quijote in the midst of such awful joylessness! The discovery of that book, read beneath the second lime-tree in the walk beside the sunken parterre where the ground was a foot lower, and where I used to sit, is perhaps the greatest period of my life.

Qu'on juge de l'effet de Don Quichotte au milieu d'une si horrible tristesse! La découverte de ce livre, lu sous le second tilleul de l'allée du côté du parterre dont le terrain s'enfonçait d'un pied, et là je m'asseyais, est peut-être la plus grande époque de ma vie.


Textual Criticism as a Branch of Medicine

Cardinal Bessarion, letter to Lorenzo Valla (1453), tr. Brendan Cook:
We have always counted Quintilian as among the foremost authors of the Latin language. Your statement did not merely confirm this opinion of ours, but actually strengthened it so that we now think him second to none in the art of rhetoric. We have recently had the book transcribed, and for beauty of decoration it surpasses other books as the sun outshines the other stars. But in truth this same book, like nearly all of them, is riddled with error. It is surely a great shame that a man of such noble countenance, so ruddy and flushed with blood, whose whole body has a natural beauty and regal dignity, should also be so feeble of frame and frail of limb. We have accordingly decided to have the book attended to with the greatest possible care, so that it may be worthy of its beauty. We do not lack the doctors to achieve this, but the instruments to effect the cure.

In the name of your humanity and our mutual affection, we therefore ask you to send us those instruments, that is to say your Quintilian, the only correct copy on earth. He will remain with us as our guest until our copy makes a full recovery. Afterward he will be returned to you at once safe and sound, feeling that he has earned no small glory from his journey by having restored such a man from illness to good health. For our part, we shall forever remain in your debt, along with our Quintilian.
The Latin:
Fabium Quintilianum unum ex praecipuis Latinae linguae auctoribus semper putavimus; quam opinionem nostram sententia tua non solum confirmavit, verum etiam ita auxit, ut neminem iam huic in arte rhetorica preponendum existimemus. Fecimus proximis diebus eum librum transcribi, tantum inter ceteros libros pulchritudine ac decore praestantem, quantum sol ceteris sideribus lucidior est. Verum idem, ut alii fere omnes, mendosus est; indigna sane res, ut homo facie tam liberalii, multo sanguine, multo rubore suffusa, cui ingenua totius corporis pulchritudo et regius quidam decor inest, adeo imbecillis viribus, adeo nervis infirmus sit. Quare nos quidem statuimus quam maxima fieri poterit diligentia eum librum curari, quo talis sit qualem pulchritudo eius meretur. Ad hoc vero non medici nobis desunt, sed instrumenta ad medendum.

Petimus igitur abs te per humanitatem tuam, per mutuum amorem nostrum, ea instrumenta, idest Quintilianum tuum, qui solus in orbe terrarum correctus est, ad nos mittas. Tamdiu hospitabitur nobiscum quoad noster recte convaluerit. Postea ad te statim integer revertetur; nec parvam sibi laudem ex hac peregrinatione adeptum putabit, qui talem virum ex valetudinario bene valere fecerit. Nos vero una eum Quintiliano nostro tibi perpetuo devincti erimus.
Cf. the use of the words mendosus, sanus, etc., when discussing the soundness of texts. Here is another example, from the prolegomena of Tischendorf's Evangelium Palatinum Ineditum (Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus, 1847), p. ix:
Ex quo tempore operam dedi ut graecum Novi Testamenti textum ad eam revocarem integritatem quae ex summae vetustatis monumentis diligenter excussis hauriri posset, intellexi, insigne ejus rei subsidium in antiquis interpretationibus latinis positum esse. Ut autem non potest qui ipse aegrotat alii medicus esse: ita nec ad corrigenda graeca tuto adhibueris latina, nisi haec ipsa satis sana esse cognoveris.
And who can forget Housman describing the diagnostic acumen of Bentley?
Lucida tela diei: these are the words that come into one's mind when one has halted at some stubborn perplexity of reading or interpretation, has witnessed Scaliger and Gronouius and Huetius fumble at it one after another, and then turns to Bentley and sees Bentley strike his finger on the place and say thou ailest here, and here.
M. Manilii Astronomicon Liber Primus, ed. A.E. Housman (London: Grant Richards, 1903), p. xvi.

Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014



John Stuart Blackie (1809-1895), Altavona: Fact and Fiction from My Life in the Highlands (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1882), p. 300:
A genuine Highlander is apt to feel towards English, as your Oxonian does to Latin; however well he knows it, it is not his mother tongue. A man may learn many languages, but he can have only one mother tongue.
This started me thinking about the phrase "mother tongue" and its equivalents, which I don't remember seeing in ancient Greek or Latin. Apparently it first appeared in the 12th century. There's a good article on the subject by Einar Haugen (1906-1994), "The 'mother tongue'," in Robert L. Cooper and Bernard Spolsky, edd., The Influence of Language on Culture and Thought: Essays in Honor of Joshua A. Fishman's Sixty-Fifth Birthday (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1991), pp. 75-84 (some pages not visible through Google Books).


Guiding Principles

Ernst Robert Curtius (1886-1956), at the beginning of his European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, tr. Willard E. Trask (1953; rpt. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973), set forth ten "Guiding Principles," in the form of untranslated quotations from five European languages. I could find existing translations of only the first three principles, so I tried to translate the others myself. Thanks very much to friends who patiently answered questions and made suggestions—any remaining errors and infelicities are my own fault. I've also added a few notes. Curtius put the citations after the quotations; I put them before.

1. Herodotus, I, ch. 8:

πάλαι δὲ τὰ καλὰ ἀνθρώποισι ἐξεύρηται, ἐκ τῶν μανθάνειν δεῖ.

Translated by A.D. Godley:

Men have long ago made wise rules from which one ought to learn.

2. Polybius, XV, 4.11:

πατέρων εὖ κείμενα ἔργα.

Translated by Ian Scott-Kilvert:

The noble traditions of our fathers.

It's a bit difficult to understand this phrase, by itself, as a guiding principle. In the original Greek, the words are the object of the verb διαφυλάξαι (to guard, preserve, uphold). "To preserve the noble traditions of our fathers" would be an appropriate principle.

3. Petronius, ch. 118:

... neque concipere aut edere partum mens potest nisi ingenti flumine litterarum inundata

Translated by Michael Heseltine:

... the mind cannot conceive or bring forth its fruit unless it is steeped in the vast flood of literature

4. Proverb:

Ne tu aliis faciendam trade, factam si quam rem cupis.

If you want something done, don't give it to others to be done.

This proverb isn't in Hans Walther, Proverbia Sententiaeque Latinitatis Medii Aevi (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1963-1969), or Renzo Tosi, Dictionnaire des sentences latines et grecques, tr. Rebecca Lenoir (Grenoble: Jérôme Millon, 2010). W.M. Lindsay quotes it as an old proverb (proverbii veteris) in the Latin preface to his edition of Isidore's Etymologiae (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1911), p. vi.

5. Les Narbonnais:

Guillames dist a ceus qui o lui erent:
"Seignor," fet il, "les bones uevres perent;
Fesom aussi con cil qui bien ovrerent."

William spoke to those who were with him:
"Gentlemen," he said, "good deeds perish;
Let us, too, act with those who do good deeds."

See Hermann Sucher, ed., Les Narbonnais: Chanson de Geste (Paris: Librairie de Firmin Didot et Cie, 1898), p. 26, who prints these lines (numbered 611-613) as follows:

Guillames dist a ceux qui o lui erent:
"Segnor," fet il, "les bones hoevres perent.
Fessom ausi con cil qui bien ovrerent!"

6. Goethe, Flüchtige Übersicht über die Kunst in Deutschland (1801):

Vielleicht überzeugt man sich bald, dass es keine patriotische Kunst und patriotische Wissenschaft gebe. Beide gehören, wie alles Gute, der ganzen Welt an und können nur durch allgemeine freie Wechselwirkung aller zugleich Lebenden, in steter Rücksicht auf das, was uns vom Vergangenen übrig und bekannt ist, gefordert werden.

Perhaps people will soon be convinced that there is no patriotic art, no patriotic science. Both belong, like all good things, to the entire world and can be furthered only by free and universal cooperation among all now living, with constant reference to what has been handed down and is familiar to us from past generations.

7. Jacob Burckhardt, Werke, XIV, 57 8:

Auch die Zeiten des Verfalls und Untergangs haben ihr heiliges Recht auf unser Mitgefühl.

Even times of decay and destruction have their sacred right to our sympathy.

8. Gustav Gröber, Grundriss der romanischen Philologie, I (1888), 3:

Absichtslose Wahrnehmung, unscheinbare Anfänge gehen dem zielbewussten Suchen, dem allseitigen Erfassen des Gegenstandes voraus. Im sprungweisen Durchmessen des Raumes hascht dann der Suchende nach dem Ziel. Mit einem Schema unfertiger Ansichten über ähnliche Gegenstände scheint er das Ganze erfassen zu konnen, ehe Natur und Teile gekannt sind. Der vorschnellen Meinung folgt die Einsicht des Irrtums, nur langsam der Entschluss, dem Gegenstand in kleinen und kleinsten Schritten nahe zu kommen, Teil und Teilchen zu beschauen und nicht zu ruhen, bis die Überzeugung gewonnen ist, dass sie nur so und nicht anders aufgefasst werden dürfen.

Unintentional observation and unremarkable beginnings precede the purposeful search, the comprehension of the object in all its aspects. Crossing the area in fits and starts the researcher strives to attain his goal. With a pattern of incomplete views of similar objects, he seems able to grasp the whole before its character and parts are known. Rash opinion follows the insight gained through error, and only slowly does one resolve to approach the object in small and even smaller steps, to examine it part and parcel, and not to rest until convinced that things should be understood in just this way and not otherwise.

9. Antoine Meillet, Esquisse d'une histoire de la langue latine (1928):

On aurait souhaité de n'être pas technique. À l'essai, il est apparu que, si l'on voulait épargner au lecteur les détails précis, il ne restait que des généralités vagues, et que toute démonstration manquait.

One would have liked not to be technical. But in the attempt, it seemed that, if one wanted to spare the reader specific details, there remained only vague generalities, and all proof was lacking.

10. José Ortega y Gasset, Obras (1932), 963:

Un libro de ciencia tiene que ser de ciencia; pero también tiene que ser un libro.

A scientific book must be scientific; but it also must be a book.

Monday, April 14, 2014


High Priests of Learning

John Stuart Blackie (1809-1895), Altavona: Fact and Fiction from My Life in the Highlands (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1882), p. 47:
FL.—The best thing that could be done for you Germans were to keep you from the sight of a book for at least two months in the year. You pore over old papers, peeping through the fumes of tobacco, till you positively unlearn the natural use of your eyes. How is it that in a company of half-a-dozen Germans three are sure to have spectacles on their noses?

B.—I do not know; but, if we did damage our eyes by too much poring over books, it is no small compensation to think that we have produced such men as Niebuhr and Mommsen, Wolf, Hermann, Boeckh, and Bopp.

FL.—In these names verily you have your reward. You are the high priests of learning, not for yourselves only, but for the whole world.
One German scholar supposedly became blind from poring over old papers, viz. Wilhelm Studemund (1843-1889), who prefixed Catullus' words "Ni te plus oculis meis amarem!" ("Did I not love thee more than my eyes!") to his transcription of the Ambrosian palimpsest of Plautus—T. Macci Plauti Fabularum Reliquiae Ambrosianae: Codicis Rescripti Ambrosiani Apographum (Berlin: Weidmann, 1889). However, Benjamin W. Fortson IV casts doubt on the story in his Language and Rhythm in Plautus: Synchronic and Diachronic Studies (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2008), p. 11, n. 27:
Contrary to popular wisdom, it is not physiologically possible to go blind in this fashion; more likely, Studemund suffered from macular degeneration.


Saint Socrates

John Stuart Blackie (1809-1895), Altavona: Fact and Fiction from My Life in the Highlands (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1882), p. 24:
CH.—νὴ τὸν κύνα

MAC.—Did not I tell you that a clergyman, a predestinated Dean, and a probable Bishop of the Anglo-Catholic Church of Christ in Great Britain, should not swear?

CH.—You are quite right; it was a bad habit we learned at College—I mean swearing in Greek; we thought there was no harm in that; besides, the man who uses that asseveration, which you call swearing, was a Saint.



MAC.—(Singing to the tune of the Litany of the Virgin—Sancta virgo virginum—that used to be sung by the Roman people at vespers in the street corners.)
O Sancte Socrates, ora pro nobis,
σοφῶν σοφώτατε, ora pro nobis,
λογίων λογιώτατε, ora pro nobis,
λαλῶν λαλίστατε, ora pro nobis,
σιμῶν σιμώτατε, ora pro nobis!
My translation of the song:
O Saint Socrates, pray for us,
Wisest of the wise, pray for us,
Most learned of the learned, pray for us,
Most talkative of the talkative, pray for us,
Most snub-nosed of the snub-nosed, pray for us!
The oath (νὴ τὸν κύνα) means "by the dog."

Related post: The Company of Saints.


The Ninth Age

Juvenal 13.23-30 (tr. Susanna Morton Braund):
What day is so auspicious that it doesn't produce cases of theft, betrayal, and fraud, profit gained by every kind of crime, and money acquired by the blade or poison box? Good people are rare. Count them: they are hardly as many as the gates of Thebes or the mouths of the rich Nile. We are living in the ninth age, an era worse than the age of iron. Nature herself can find no name for its wickedness and has no metal to label it.

quae tam fausta dies, ut cesset prodere furtum,
perfidiam, fraudes atque omni ex crimine lucrum
quaesitum et partos gladio vel pyxide nummos?
rari quippe boni: numera, vix sunt totidem quot
Thebarum portae vel divitis ostia Nili.
nona aetas agitur peioraque saecula ferri
temporibus, quorum sceleri non invenit ipsa
nomen et a nullo posuit natura metallo.

23 fausta Markland, festa codd. | furtum Nisbet, furem codd.
See M.J. McGann, "Juvenal's Ninth Age (13, 28ff.)," Hermes 96 (1968) 509-514.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


A Laughingstock

Pliny the Elder, Natural History 22.7.15 (tr. W.H.S. Jones):
Moreover, most people actually laugh at me for carrying on research in these matters, and I am accused of busying myself with trifles.

immo vero plerisque ultro etiam inrisui sumus ista commentantes atque frivoli operis arguimur.
Related post: Orchideenfach.



Erasmus, letter 125 Allen, tr. Francis Morgan Nichols, The Epistles of Erasmus, Vol. I (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1901), pp. 240-241:
You want to know what I am doing. I devote myself to my friends, with whom I enjoy the most delightful intercourse. With them I shut myself in some corner, where I avoid the gaping crowd, and either speak to them in sweet whispers or listen to their gentle voices, talking with them as with myself. Can anything be more convenient than this? They never hide their own secrets, while they keep sacred whatever is entrusted to them. They speak when bidden, and when not bidden they hold their tongue. They talk of what you wish, as much as you wish and as long as you wish; do not flatter, feign nothing, keep back nothing, freely tell you of your faults, and take no man's character away. What they say is either amusing or wholesome. In prosperity they moderate, in affliction they console, do not vary with fortune, follow you in all dangers, and last out to the very grave. Nothing can be more candid than their relations with one another. I visit them from time to time, now choosing one companion and now another with perfect impartiality.

With these humble friends I bury myself in seclusion. What wealth or what scepters would I take in exchange for this tranquil life? If there is any obscurity in our metaphor, all that I have said about friends is to be understood of books, whose familiarity makes me a happy man, unlucky only in this, that I do not enjoy this felicity with you. Although there is no need to do so, I shall not cease to exhort you to cling with all your heart to noble studies. Do not admire anything that is vulgar or commonplace, but strive always to read what is highest.
The Latin, from P.S. Allen, Opus Epistolarum Des. Erasmi Roterodami, Vol. I (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1906), pp. 288-289:
Quid rerum faciam rogas? Amicis operam do, horum consuetudine gratissima memet oblecto. 'Quos tu tandem amicos mihi iactitas,' inquis, 'homuncio leuissime? An quisquam te visum aut auditum velit?' Equidem non diffiteor fortunatorum amicos esse plurimos; at nec pauperibus desunt amici, et quidem istis non paulo tum certiores tum commodiores. Cum his me concludo in angulum aliquem, et turbam ventosam fugiens aut cum illis dulcia quaedam mussito, aut eos aliquid insusurrantes audio, cum his non secus ас mecum loquor. An quicquam his commodius? Arcana ipsi sua celant nunquam, commissa summa cum fide continent: nihil foris quae liberius inter familiares effundere solemus, renunciant: vocati praesto sunt, inuocati non ingerunt sese: iussi loquuntur, iniussi tacent: loquuntur quae voles, quantum voles, quoad voles: nihil assentantur, fingunt nihil, nihil dissimulant: vitia tua tibi libere indicant, nemini obtrectant: aut iucunda dicunt, aut salutaria: secundis in rebus moderantur, consolantur in afflictis, cum fortuna minime variantur: in omnia pericula te sequuntur, ad extremos usque rogos perdurant: nihil ipsis inter se candidius. Committo subinde, nunc hos, nunc illos mihi asciscens, omnibus aequus.

Cum his amiculis, optime N., sepultus delitesco. Quas ego tandem opes aut quae sceptra cum hac desidia commutauero? Verum ne nostra te fallat metaphora, quicquid de amiculis hactenus sum locutus, de libris dictum intelligas, quorum familiaritas me plane beatum effecit, hoc solo infortunatum quod non tecum mihi haec felicitas contigerit. Te, quanquam nihil opus, hortari non desinam vt toto animo praeclara studia complectaris, ne quid plebeium, ne quid mediocre mireris; ad summa semper enitere.

Thomas Wijck (1616–1677), A Scholar in His Study



From an email:
Years ago, I read a wonderful anecdote describing a book collector or learned person from, probably, the Renaissance era. In the anecdote, the collector is described as having one bookcase filled with Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, among others. At the top of this bookcase was engraved the word "Amo."

He also had a second bookcase, containing only Aeschylus. This bookcase was labeled "Timeo."

It always seemed like I read the story in Victor Hugo's book on Shakespeare, but I recently thumbed through my copy and I think now that is wrong.

Does this story ring any bells, by any chance? I'd enjoy figuring out where I came across it!
I'm not familiar with this story. Perhaps some reader of this blog can help.

Ian Jackson gets the prize. He identified the source as Victor Hugo, William Shakespeare (London: Hurst and Blackett, 1864), p. 101 (Book IV, Chapter I):
A man whom we do not know how to class in his own century, so little does he belong to it, being at the same time so much behind it and so much in advance of it, the Marquis de Mirabeau, that queer customer as a philanthropist, but a very rare thinker after all, had a library, in the two corners of which he had had carved a dog and a she-goat, in remembrance of Socrates, who swore by the dog, and of Zeno, who swore by the goat. His library presented this peculiarity: on one side he had Hesiod, Sophocles, Euripides, Plato, Herodotus, Thucydides, Pindar, Theocritus, Anacreon, Theophrastus, Demosthenes, Plutarch, Cicero, Titus Livius, Seneca, Persius, Lucan, Terence, Horace, Ovid, Propertius, Tibullus, Virgil, and underneath could be read, engraved in letters of gold, "AMO;" on the other side, he had Aeschylus alone, and underneath, this word—"TIMEO."

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Epistulae ex Ponto 4.17

Kenneth White, "Recalling Ovid," Open World: The Collected Poems 1960-2000 (Edinburgh: Polygon, 2003), p. 359:
Another Sarmatian winter setting in
goats blethering in what passes for a garden
rain falling when it isn't poisoned arrows
(how many summers since I smelled a Roman rose!)
eyes bleary, frosty weather on my chin        5

why bother writing yet another book?
well, it keeps my mind off stupid folk
the scratching of my stylus on the page
is music to my ears and cools my rage
I know now I'll be here until I croak        10

so, here's a man will listen to the snow
and let the hours come, long and slow
such distance and such silence, all I wish
salt fish is now my favourite dish
I was a famous Roman poet, long ago.        15
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.


The Shepherd's Hand

Pseudo-Diogenes, letter 44, to Metrocles, in Diogenes the Cynic, Sayings and Anecdotes with Other Popular Moralists. Translated with an Introduction and Notes by Robin Hard (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), p. 162, with notes on p. 254:
It is not only bread and water, and a bed of straw, and a rough cloak, that teach temperance and hardiness, but also, if I may use the expression, the shepherd's hand.* If only I had been able to make that known to Paris, who was once a cattle-herd.* So you should adopt that practice too, wherever you are hurrying to, since it accords with our way of life. As for intemperate intercourse with women, which takes up so much free time, you may bid that farewell. For one who is hastening along the short cut to happiness, dalliance with women brings no benefit; and for many ordinary men too, such activity brings its penalty likewise. But you for your part will take your place among those who have learned from Pan* to make use of your hand; and do not draw back even if some call you a dog, or something still worse, for having adopted this way of life.

the shepherd's hand: referring to masturbation, as a practice specially associated with shepherds because they live a solitary life while pasturing their sheep.

Paris ... once a cattle-herd: the Trojan prince was exposed at birth because his mother had a sinister dream foretelling that he would bring disaster to his homeland, but he was rescued by a herdsman, and herded cattle outside the city during his earlier years; he later provoked the Trojan War, and no end of suffering, by abducting the beautiful Helen, hence the wish expressed here.

learned from Pan: the text is corrupt here, but this proposed reading makes excellent sense, the rustic deity Pan being the patron-god of shepherds. In Dio Chrysostom, Speech 6.17-20, Diogenes recounts a little myth in which it is claimed that Hermes taught the practice of masturbation to Pan during the time of his hopeless passion for Echo, and Pan then passed it on to goatherds.
Hard in his bibliography (p. xxxv) lists two modern editions of Pseudo-Diogenes' letters: A.J. Malherbe, The Cynic Epistles (Missoula, 1977) and E. Müseler, Die Kynikerbriefe, 2 vols. (Paderborn, 1994). I think Hard is translating from Müseler's edition, although he doesn't explicitly say so. Neither edition is available to me, although I can see the apparatus for this letter from Müseler's edition via Google Books' "snippet view." The only Greek text I have access to is in Epistolographi Graeci, ed. Rudolph Hercher (Paris: Firmin Didot, 1873), p. 256:
Οὐ μόνον ἄρτος καὶ ὕδωρ καὶ στιβὰς καὶ τρίβων σωφροσύνην καὶ καρτερίαν διδάσκουσιν, ἀλλ' εἰ χρὴ οὕτως φάναι, καὶ ποιμενικὴ χείρ. ὤφελον καὶ τὸν πρὶν ἐκεῖνον βουκόλον ὄντα ἐξεπίστασθαι. ἐπιμέλου οὖν καὶ ταύτης ἔνθα ἂν ἐπείγῃς· ἔστι γὰρ ἐκ τῆς συντάξεως τοῦ ἡμετέρου βίου. τὰς δὲ πρὸς τὰς γυναῖκας ἀκρατεῖς ἐντεύξεις πολλῆς δεομένας σχολῆς ἔα πολλὰ χαίρειν· οὐ γὰρ σχολή τι μόνον πτωχὸν αἰτεῖν κατὰ Πλάτωνα, ἀλλὰ τῷ ἐπ' εὐδαιμονίαν σύντομον ἐπειγομένῳ ἡ πρὸς γυναῖκας ἔντευξις ὄνησιν φέρει ἀνθρώπων δ' ἰδιωτῶν πολλῶν, οἷς ὁμοίως διὰ ταύτην τὴν πρᾶξιν ζημία, περιμαθήσεις παρὰ τοῖς μεμαθηκόσιν ἐκ παντὸς ἐργάσασθαι. σὺ μὴ ἐπιστρέφου, μηδ' εἴ σε διὰ τὸν τοιοῦτον βίον κύνα τινὲς ἢ ἄλλο τι ἀποκαλῶσι χεῖρον.
Here is the apparatus from Müseler's edition:

The Schafstaedt who emended παντὸς to Πανὸς is Heinrich Schafstaedt, De Diogenis Epistulis (diss. Göttingen, 1892), p. 39. Wilamowitz supervised Schafstaedt's dissertation, and his correction of πρὶν to Πάριν also appears on the same page.

Hercher doesn't give a complete Latin translation of this letter, presumably because of its scabrous subject matter.

Related post: A Gift of the Gods.

Friday, April 11, 2014



Terence, Adelphoe 855-861 (Demea speaking; tr. John Sargeaunt):
However well a man may have calculated his scheme of life, still circumstances, years, experience, always introduce a new element and teach new lessons. You find that you don't know what you thought you did know, and what you thought of primary importance that in practice you reject. That's what has happened to me. The hard life, which up to now I have lived, now that my race is almost run I renounce. And why? Hard facts have taught me that a man can have no better qualities than mildness and complaisance.

numquam ita quisquam bene subducta ratione ad vitam fuit
quin res, aetas, usus semper aliquid apportet novi,
aliquid moneat, ut illa quae te scisse credas nescias,
et quae tibi putaris prima, in experiundo ut repudies.
quod nunc mi evenit. nam ego vitam duram quam vixi usque adhuc
prope iam excurso spatio omitto. id quam ob rem? re ipsa repperi
facilitate nil esse homini melius neque clementia.


A Night Owl

Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists 1.21 (on Scopelian; tr. Wilmer Cave Wright, with her note):
During the daytime he did not work much, but he was the most sleepless of men, and hence he used to say: "O Night, thy share of wisdom is greater than that of the other gods!"2 and he made her the collaborator in his studies. Indeed it is said that he used to work continuously from evening until dawn.

2 Menander, frag. 199 Meineke; Scopelian adapted the line by substituting wisdom for love.

τὸν μεθ᾽ ἡμέραν καιρὸν ἧττον ἐσπούδαζεν, ἀυπνότατος δ᾽ ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος "ὦ νύξ," ἔλεγε "σὺ γὰρ δὴ πλεῖστον σοφίας μετέχεις μέρος θεῶν," ξυνεργὸν δὲ αὐτὴν ἐποιεῖτο τῶν ἑαυτοῦ φροντισμάτων. λέγεται γοῦν καὶ ἐς ὄρθρον ἀποτεῖναι σπουδάζων ἀπὸ ἑσπέρας.


Cheating in Latin Class

Stendhal (1783-1842), The Life of Henry Brulard, tr. John Sturrock (New York: New York Review Books, 2002), p. 92:
We were toiling away translating Virgil then when I discovered in my father's library a translation of Virgil in four handsomely bound octavo volumes by that scoundrel the abbé Desfontaines, I think it was. I found the volume corresponding to the Georgics and to Book Two which we were massacring (in reality we knew no Latin at all). I hid this blessed volume in the privy, in a cupboard where we used to store the feathers from the capons eaten in the house, and there we would go two or three times during our painful version, to consult that of Desfontaines.

Nous traduisions donc Virgile à grand-peine lorsque je découvris dans la bibliothèque de mon père une traduction de Virgile en quatre volumes in 8° fort bien reliés par ce coquin d'abbé Desfontaines, je crois. Je trouvai le volume correspondant aux Géorgiques et au second livre que nous écorchions (réellement nous ne savions pas du tout le latin). Je cachai ce bienheureux volume aux lieux d'aisance dans une armoire où l'on déposait les plumes des chapons consommés à la maison, et là, deux ou trois fois pendant notre pénible version, nous allions consulter celle de Desfontaines.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


What is Wrong with This Title Page?

Wilmer Cave Wright (1868-1951) translated late Greek texts (Julian, Philostratus, Eunapius) for the Loeb Classical Library. She did not translate Seneca the Elder. Michael Winterbottom (1934-) did. My copy (a gift from a friend) was "First published 1974 / Reprinted 2003".


Divine Favor

Homer, Odyssey 10.572-573 (tr. Richmond Lattimore):
                              Whose eyes can follow the movement
of a god passing from place to place, unless the god wishes?

                         τίς ἂν θεὸν οὐκ ἐθέλοντα
ὀφθαλμοῖσιν ἴδοιτ᾽ ἢ ἔνθ᾽ ἢ ἔνθα κιόντα;
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Sweet Repose and Unsullied Pleasure

Pseudo-Vergil, Culex 79-97 (tr. H. Rushton Fairclough):
Who in a happier age could be more blest [80] than he who, dwelling afar, with pure soul and feelings well tested knows not the greed of wealth, and fears not grim wars or the fatal conflicts of a mighty fleet, nor yet, if so he may but adorn the gods' holy temples with gleaming spoils, or high uplifted may surpass the limits of wealth, [85] wilfully risks his life, confronting savage foes? He reverences a god shaped by pruning-knife, not by artist's skill; he reverences the groves; for him the grasses of the field, mottled with flowers, yield Panchaean incense; his are sweet repose and unsullied pleasure, [90] free, with simple cares. This is his goal, toward this he directs every sense; this is the thought lurking within his heart, that, content with any fare, he may be rich in repose, and in pleasant sleep may enchain his weary frame. O flocks, O Pans, O vales of [95] Hamadryads, delightful in your springs, in whose humble worship the shepherds, vying each for himself with the bard of Ascra, spend with tranquil hearts a care-free life.
The Latin, with my selective apparatus:
quis magis optato queat esse beatior aevo,
quam qui mente procul pura sensuque probando        80
non avidas agnovit opes nec tristia bella
nec funesta timet validae certamina classis
nec, spoliis dum sancta deum fulgentibus ornet
templa vel evectus finem transcendat habendi,
adversum saevis ultro caput hostibus offert?        85
illi falce deus colitur, non arte politus,
ille colit lucos, illi Panchaia tura
floribus agrestes herbae variantibus addunt;
illi dulcis adest requies et pura voluptas,
libera, simplicibus curis; huc imminet, omnis        90
derigit huc sensus, haec cura est subdita cordi,
quolibet ut requie victu contentus abundet,
iucundoque liget languentia corpora somno.
o pecudes, o Panes et o gratissima Tempe
fontis Hamadryadum, quarum non divite cultu        95
aemulus Ascraeo pastor sibi quisque poetae
securam placido traducit pectore vitam!

80 procul codd.: potens Heinsius
84 vel Bembo: nec codd.
95 fontis codd.: frondis Heinsius, hortus Leo, frigus Housman, saltus Allen
I haven't seen Anthony A. Barrett, "The Praise of Country Life in the Culex," La Parola del Passato 25 (1970) 323-327.

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