Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Fear, an active taskmaster, speeds all the work; and terror is rife in the deserted fields. Men leave their homes; panic-stricken, they carry ailing mothers upon their shoulders and drag along old men whose span of life is almost ended; they drive their wives with dishevelled hair in front of them; behind them come the little children with shorter steps, clinging to their father's right hand and left. Thus the people flee, handing on their fear to one another; and no man asks the origin of the reports.
haud segnis cuncta magister
praecipitat timor, ac vastis trepidatur in agris.
deseruere larem; portant cervicibus aegras
attoniti matres ducentesque ultima fila
grandaevos rapuere senes; tum crine soluto
ante agitur coniux, dextra laevaque trahuntur 30
parvi, non aequo comitantes ordine, nati.
sic vulgus; traduntque metus, nec poscitur auctor.
Monday, June 29, 2015
Thinking about Horace
I like thinking about Horace. He was a true Epicurean and gave to friendship the prominent place it ought to occupy in a life regulated by that philosophy. I never could regard Lucretius as an Epicurean, though his work is an exposition in verse of that doctrine; partly because among the good things of life which the philosophy of Epicurus leaves intact—perhaps, indeed, throws into brighter relief—which Lucretius dilates upon, he does not celebrate friendship; and partly because the spirit of his work is too tragic, cosmic, momentous, and filled also with a proselytising ardour almost as sombre as the fears it is the poet's object to destroy. Cosmic vision is not for the Epicurean. He should neither love nor hate Nature, nor trouble much to understand her; but like Horace himself enjoy her when he can, and supplement her pleasures or run away from her when they fail him. He cannot run away from death and old age, of course, and the butt-end of the Epicurean life may be seedy, and even rather ridiculous—if its hey-day has been expressively buoyant and chirpy.
Saturday, June 27, 2015
Vernacchio in Petronius' Satyricon?
10. Vernacchio.111 The mouth is inflated with air and held tightly closed; the hand, open, with palm facing downwards, is brought to the upper lip so that it is enclosed between the index finger and the thumb. With the fingers thus arranged on the upper lip, the mouth, already completely full of air, is compressed by a series of repeated blows. This forces the air out of the mouth with a series of noises which are given the name Vernacchio.Plate IV, from the original La mimica degli antichi investigata nel gestire napoletano (Napoli: Dalla Stamperia e Cartiera del Fibreno, 1832):
In particular, this gesture is used to make fun of those who sing, or who hold forth in some loud discourse of self interest or seriousness, or who talk boastfully, threatening now one, now the other (see Plate IV). Such behaviour is so insulting that it is scarcely used in Naples except by those who belong to the lowest classes of the population.
The idea of mockery, of offense, or rather of insult that is attached to it, derives from the similarity that the noises produced by this movement have with that which nature causes in expelling air closed in our viscera.(a) Since this sound has always been an affront, even if it is not directed to anyone, it is not surprising that a simple imitation of it, produced on purpose, is understood by anybody as an insult.
Was not this the Curtis Judaeis oppedere of Horace? 1.Sat.9.v.70.112 This rude gesture also has a diminutive form. This is done by simply placing the upper lip between the index and the thumb in the manner described, but without producing any noise with the mouth, even if it is full of air. With somewhat more difficulty and diligence, the same gesture in its complete form can be done in the following way.
11. Palm of the hand placed under the armpit of the opposite arm (see Plate IV). The hand is arranged so that, when compressed with violent blows given to it by the arm, because the air trapped them is pushed out by the force of the blows, it produces the same sound as that obtained by the mouth, but even more stridently. More emphasis is given to this gesture by lifting a little the leg corresponding to the arm that presses the hand. Even if just the first phase of this gesture is performed, it has the same meaning. This may be done simply by bringing a hand under the opposite armpit, and lifting the corresponding leg a little and adding, further, an ironic expression on the face. We have proof that the ancients knew of the present gesture (the original form is understood) in Petronius [Satyricon]. c. 117. Nec contentus maledictis (Encolpius), tollebat subinde altius pedem, et strepitu obscoeno simul atque odore viam implebat. (Not content with cursing, every so often he [Encolpius] lifted his right leg up and filled the road with obscene sounds and smells.' Trans. Sullivan 1986: 128).
111 Or 'Pernacchio' (D'Ascoli 1990).
(a) Vernacchio: sound that is made with the mouth similar to breaking wind in order to insult someone. Vocabolario Napoletano [Galiani 1789b, Tomo II, p. 184].
112 Vin tu curtis Iudais oppedere? "Would you affront the circumcised Jews?' (Fairclough 1926: 111). This is said by Aristius Fuscus, a friend who Horace happens to meet while he, Horace, is in the company of someone he wishes to be rid of. He hopes that Fuscus will save him by saying he has some private business with him. Fuscus says he does have something to tell him in private, but will not do it today, for it is the "thirtieth sabbath."
De Jorio's comment on Plate IV (in Adam Kendon's translation, p. 418):
Two rash youths of the class of those who are often known as lazzaroni, wishing to make fun of the clothes of the two country people, old-fashioned to their way of thinking, make use of their usual rather indecent means of doing so, which they call vernacchio (see Beffegiare 'Joking, teasing' n. 10).De Jorio's interpretation of the passage from Petronius is accepted by M.L. Wagner, "Über die Unterlagen der romanischen Phraseologie (im Anschluss an des Petronius' Satyricon)," Volkstum und Kultur der Romanen 6 (1933) 1-26 (at 7-8), and by Leo Spitzer, "Neapolitan pernacchia," Language 14.4 (October-December, 1938) 289 (where "Andrea de Torio" should be corrected to "Andrea de Jorio").
Both accompany the said insult with lifting a leg. This serves to make a closer imitation of the action that commonly is associated with the Vernacchio, and it is a sign of what, in the natural case, is discharged through the usual channel.
But I would raise two points in connection with the passage from Petronius. First (a minor point), Corax, not Encolpius, is the subject of the sentence "Nec contentus maledictis tollebat subinde altius pedem, et strepitu obscoeno simul atque odore viam implebat." Second, the words "atque odore" make it clear that Petronius is describing not an imitation of farting (the vernacchio), but actual farting. On the other hand, Giton's reaction to Corax's farting may in fact be an example of vernacchio:
ridebat contumaciam Giton et singulos crepitus eius pari clamore prosequebatur.In Michael Heseltine's translation:
Giton laughed at his impudence and matched every noise he made.The phrase "pari clamore" indicates that Giton, with his mouth, is imitating the actual farts of Corax.
In the movie L'Oro di Napoli, there is an amusing scene that features the vernacchio:
Labels: noctes scatologicae
Friday, June 26, 2015
Rather Useless Individuals
But there are always a few men whose main interest is to note the aspects of things in an artistic or philosophical way. They are rather useless individuals, but as I happen to belong to the class, I think them much superior to the rest of mankind.
A Sort of Intemperance
This desire to know more than is sufficient is a sort of intemperance. Why? Because this unseemly pursuit of the liberal arts makes men troublesome, wordy, tactless, self-satisfied bores, who fail to learn the essentials just because they have learned the non-essentials. Didymus the scholar wrote four thousand books. I should feel pity for him if he had only read the same number of superfluous volumes. In these books he investigates Homer's birthplace, who was really the mother of Aeneas, whether Anacreon was more of a rake or more of a drunkard, whether Sappho was a bad lot, and other problems the answers to which, if found, were forthwith to be forgotten. Come now, do not tell me that life is long!Hat tip: Eric Thomson.
Plus scire velle quam sit satis, intemperantiae genus est. Quid? Quod ista liberalium artium consectatio molestos, verbosos, intempestivos, sibi placentes facit et ideo non discentes necessaria, quia supervacua didicerunt. Quattuor milia librorum Didymus grammaticus scripsit. Misererer si tam multa supervacua legisset. In his libris de patria Homeri quaeritur, in his de Aeneae matre vera, in his libidinosior Anacreon an ebriosior vixerit, in his an Sappho publica fuerit, et alia quae erant dediscenda, si scires. I nunc et longam esse vitam nega!
Thursday, June 25, 2015
They are commanders, so that we must bow to them, how else? Why, the most formidable and the most powerful of things bow to office; winter's snowy storms make way before summer with its fruits, and night's dread circle moves aside for day drawn by white horses to make her lights blaze; and the blast of fearful winds lulls to rest the groaning sea, and all-powerful Sleep releases those whom he has bound, nor does he hold his prisoners forever. And how shall we not come to know how to be sensible?The same, tr. R.C. Jebb:
They are rulers, so we must submit. How else? Dread things and things most potent bow to office; thus it is that snow-strewn winter gives place to fruitful summer; and thus night's weary round makes room for day with her white steeds to kindle light; and the breath of dreadful winds can allow the groaning sea to slumber; and, like the rest, almighty Sleep looses whom he has bound, nor holds with a perpetual grasp. And we—must we not learn discretion?The Greek:
ἄρχοντές εἰσιν, ὥσθ᾿ ὑπεικτέον. τί μήν;
καὶ γὰρ τὰ δεινὰ καὶ τὰ καρτερώτατα
τιμαῖς ὑπείκει· τοῦτο μὲν νιφοστιβεῖς 670
χειμῶνες ἐκχωροῦσιν εὐκάρπῳ θέρει·
ἐξίσταται δὲ νυκτὸς αἰανὴς κύκλος
τῇ λευκοπώλῳ φέγγος ἡμέρᾳ φλέγειν·
δεινῶν δ᾿ ἄημα πνευμάτων ἐκοίμισε
στένοντα πόντον· ἐν δ᾿ ὁ παγκρατὴς Ὕπνος 675
λύει πεδήσας, οὐδ᾿ ἀεὶ λαβὼν ἔχει·
ἡμεῖς δὲ πῶς οὐ γνωσόμεσθα σωφρονεῖν;
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Pliny the Elder
Even when it is reported of the elder Pliny that he was always reading or being read to, at table, when travelling, or in his bath, the question suggests itself to me whether the man was so lacking in ideas of his own that those of others had to be incessantly imparted to him, just as a consommé is given to a man suffering from consumption in order to keep him alive. Neither his undiscerning gullibility, nor his inexpressibly repulsive, almost unintelligible, paper-saving, notebook style is calculated to give me a high opinion of his ability to think for himself.
Sogar wenn vom ältern Plinius berichtet wird, daß er beständig las, oder sich vorlesen ließ, bei Tische, auf Reisen, im Bade, so dringt sich mir die Frage auf, ob denn der Mann so großen Mangel an eigenen Gedanken gehabt habe, daß ihm ohne Unterlaß fremde eingeflößt werden mußten, wie dem an der Auszehrung Leidenden ein consommé, ihn am Leben zu erhalten. Und von seinem Selbstdenken mir hohe Begriffe zu geben ist weder seine urtheilslose Leichtgläubigkeit, noch sein unaussprechlich widerwärtiger, schwer verständlicher, papiersparender Kollektaneenstil geeignet.
A Heap of Rubbish
A mind stored with a huge variety of things is like a library of odd volumes; it is like one of these German compilations bristling with Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, or Latin quotations put together without judgment or taste; which are ponderous as it is, and which will grow more and more ponderous, and grow none the better; a store full of analyses and appreciations and ill-digested works, and shops of mixed goods where the memorandum alone is in order; a commentary where we scarcely ever find what we want, but often what we don't want, and almost always what we want is lost in a heap of rubbish.
Une tête meublée d'un grand nombre de choses disparates est assez semblable à une bibliothèque de volumes dépareillés. C'est une de ces compilations germaniques, hérissées, sans raison et sans goût, d'hébreu, d'arabe, de grec et de latin, qui sont déjà. fort grosses, qui grossissent encore, qui grossiront toujours, et qui n'en seront que plus mauvaises. C'est un de ces magasins remplis d'analyses et de jugements d'ouvrages que l'analyse n'a point entendus; magasins de marchandises mêlées, dont il n'y a proprement que le bordereau qui lui appartienne; c'est un commentaire où l'on rencontre souvent ce qu'on ne cherche point, rarement ce qu'on cherche, et presque toujours les choses dont on a besoin égarées dans la foule des inutiles.
He Never Loses a Moment
But apart from any actual learning, the deepest impression that I carried away from my first Semester in Berlin was a sense of the pervading enthusiasm for Wissenschaft. I was also astonished at the high standard of industry both among the Seniors and the Juniors whom I mixed up with. And I could not help feeling that our steadiest workers among my Oxford undergraduate friends were only casual 'half-timers' by comparison. What was still more stimulating was the whole-hearted and unquestioning reverence for learning broadcast through the academic circles and extending even to the outside public. I had a striking proof of this: as an illustration of national character, the anecdote is worth recording. Living in Berlin at some distance from the university, I used to go in every morning by the same early tram: and at last noting that I was a foreigner of regular habits, the affable and chatty tramway conductor used to point out to me the objects worthy of interest by the way (Sehenswürdigkeiten—a crisp Teutonic word). One morning as we approached a halting-place, I saw a little old gentleman with silvery hair leaning against a lamp-post and holding a large open volume near to his short-sighted eyes, oblivious of the uproar around: the conductor sprang down towards him, and tapping him reverentially on the shoulder conducted him gently to the tram and settled him in his place. Immediately the old gentleman buried himself again up to the eyes in his tome. The conductor, proud of this new Sehenswürdigkeit, whispered to me in an awed voice: 'Da ist der berühmte Herr Professor Mommsen; er verliert kein Moment!' ('There is the famous Professor Mr Mommsen; he never loses a moment!' referring to his absorption in his book). I felt thrilled, not by Mommsen, but by this deep revelation of the national soul, an illiterate conductor knowing of Mommsen at all, knowing that he was academically famous, being proud of having him in his tram, and proud that he 'never lost a moment' for study.I almost put [sic, read keinen] after kein, because my German dictionary says that Moment meaning "moment, instant" is masculine, while Moment meaning "element, factor" is neuter. But perhaps the masculine accusative ending is dropped in colloquial speech. My knowledge of German is feeble.
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
It was, I think, through her [the sister of Charilaos Trikoupes] that I got to know [Heinrich] Schliemann and his family; and Pelham and I received an invitation to lunch with him written in modern Greek; as I did not feel quite happy in that language I replied in the purest Demosthenic Greek that I could ﬁnd handy. The distinguished excavator was deeply impressed, for he was full of reverence for the classical education that he had not received; and he entertained us royally. His house, upon which he was said to have spent £40,000, was a magniﬁcent structure, with colonnades along the upper stories and the walls frescoed in the Pompeian style. Its best feature was the wonderful view of the Akropolis from the library window. We were delighted with the Homeric names of his ménage and family. His door was opened to us by Bellerophon, Talthubios and Pelops waited on us at table, every servant whom he engaged being rechristened out of Homer by Madame Schliemann. His daughter of twelve was Nausikaa and throve under the name; his son Agamemnon was a bright boy with a Greek proﬁle that did not look altogether natural; and we were told that it was the result of much twisting and manipulation of his infant-features.Hat tip: Eric Thomson.
Champagne and Caviar
My reading life began in earnest at the University of Chicago, where—in the most sensible of radical curricular reforms—no textbooks were used in the College and few books by living writers were taught, and so the intellectual diet was for the most part champagne and caviar. I can recall the deep pleasure of reading Herodotus, the intellectual provocation set in motion by Thucydides. Plato and Aristotle, both of whom were offered in plentiful supply, gave an unformed mind a good workout; and although I knew I had not the least chance of attaining anything like mastery here, I did come to adore Socrates, as Plato intended.Related post: A College Education.
Monday, June 22, 2015
People only take refuge in invective when they run short of proofs. Of two engaged in argument, it is a hundred to one that the man in the wrong will become angry. "You thunder instead of answering," says Menippus to Jupiter; "are you then in the wrong?"
On n'a recours aux invectives que quand on manque de preuves. Entre deux controversistes, il y a cent à parier contre un que celui qui aura tort se fâchera. "Tu prends ton tonnerre au lieu de répondre," dit Ménippe à Jupiter; "tu as donc tort?"
Sunday, June 21, 2015
Fathers ought above all, by not misbehaving and by doing as they ought to do, to make themselves a manifest example to their children, so that the latter, by looking at their fathers' lives as at a mirror, may be deterred from disgraceful deeds and words.Eduard Fraenkel, Horace (1957; rpt. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), p. 5 (footnote omitted):
πρὸ πάντων γὰρ δεῖ τοὺς πατέρας τῷ μηδὲν ἁμαρτάνειν ἀλλὰ πάνθ᾿ ἃ δεῖ πράττειν ἐναργὲς αὑτοὺς παράδειγμα τοῖς τέκνοις παρέχειν, ἵνα πρὸς τὸν τούτων βίον ὥσπερ κάτοπτρον ἀποβλέποντες ἀποτρέπωνται τῶν αἰσχρῶν ἔργων καὶ λόγων.
No son ever set a finer monument to his father than Horace did in the sixth satire of Book I. There is no need to recapitulate the passage: a reader who cannot afford the time to read it at leisure, and add to it Sat. I.4.105 ff., had better leave Horace alone.Horace, Satires 1.6.68-71 (tr. H. Rushton Fairclough):
If no one will justly lay to my charge avarice or meanness or lewdness; if, to venture on self-praise, my life is free from stain and guilt and I am loved by my friends—I owe this to my father.Id., line 89:
si neque avaritiam neque sordes nec mala lustra
obiciet vere quisquam mihi, purus et insons,
ut me collaudem, si et vivo carus amicis; 70
causa fuit pater his.
Never while in my senses could I be ashamed of such a father.Horace, Satires 1.4.105-126:
Nil me paeniteat sanum patris huius.
'Tis a habit the best of fathers taught me, for, to enable me to steer clear of follies, he would brand them, one by one, by his examples. Whenever he would encourage me to live thriftily, frugally, and content with what he had saved for me, "Do you not see," he would say, "how badly fares young Albius, and how poor is Baius? A striking lesson not to waste one's patrimony!" When he would deter me from a vulgar amour, "Don't be like Scetanus." And to prevent me from courting another's wife, when I might enjoy a love not forbidden, "Not pretty," he would say, is the repute of Trebonius, caught in the act. Your philosopher will give you theories for shunning or seeking this or that: enough for me, if I can uphold the rule our fathers have handed down, and if, so long as you need a guardian, I can keep your health and name from harm. When years have brought strength to body, and mind, you will swim without the cork." With words like these would he mould my boyhood; and whether he were advising me to do something, "You have an example for so doing," he would say, and point to one of the special judges; or were forbidding me, "Can you doubt whether this is dishonourable and disadvantageous or not, when so and so stands in the blaze of ill repute?"
insuevit pater optimus hoc me, 105
ut fugerem exemplis vitiorum quaeque notando.
cum me hortaretur, parce frugaliter atque
viverem uti contentus eo, quod mi ipse parasset:
"nonne vides, Albi ut male vivat filius, utque
Baius inops? magnum documentum, ne patriam rem 110
perdere quis velit." a turpi meretricis amore
cum deterreret: "Scetani dissimilis sis."
ne sequerer moechas, concessa cum venere uti
possem: "deprensi non bella est fama Treboni,"
aiebat. "sapiens, vitatu quidque petitu 115
sit melius, causas reddet tibi: mi satis est, si
traditum ab antiquis morem servare tuamque,
dum custodis eges, vitam famamque tueri
incolumem possum; simul ac duraverit aetas
membra animumque tuum, nabis sine cortice." sic me 120
formabat puerum dictis, et sive iubebat,
ut facerem quid, "habes auctorem quo facias hoc,"
unum ex iudicibus selectis obiciebat;
sive vetabat, "an hoc inhonestum et inutile factu
necne sit addubites, flagret rumore malo cum 125
hic atque ille?"
Character of a Taciturn Person
He is the contrary Extream, and knows as little to talk as the other, to hold her Peace. Fryer Bacons Head was a talkative one to his, and betwixt what he says and nothing, is little difference. The Wheels of his Tongue, like those of a Rusty Jack, want oyling, and are perpetually at a stand: He is like Pharacesius's Picture, all Curtain; and those who think there is anything under it, like Zeuxes, are deceived; yet we have a certain sort of Spiritual Pichagorians, with whom Silence is in Precept, and such Mutes in veneration, who count dulness Wisdom, and whose Wisdom is good cheap, if it onely consists in being silent: For how can we distinguish between Fools and their Wisemen, if either hold their peace? But since they will needs have it so, to do them a courtesie, I will believe this once, That he hath some what in him, since I could never yet see any thing come out of him.Some notes:
Taciturnos: Taciturnous, for which the only example in the Oxford English Dictionary is Nathan Bailey's Universal Etymological English Dictionary (1727). Flecknoe's use is at least fifty years earlier. I haven't checked earlier editions of Flecknoe's Characters.
Fryer Bacons Head: see Robert Greene, The Honorable Historie of frier Bacon, and frier Bongay (London: Edward White, 1594), Act IV, Scene 1, in which the brass head constructed by Friar Bacon only says "Time is," "Time was," and "Time is past."
Rusty Jack: on a jack with a wheel see Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. Jack, n.1, sense 10.a: "A machine, usually portable, for lifting heavy weights by force acting from below; in the commonest form, having a rack and a pinion wheel or screw and a handle turned by hand."
Pharacesius: Parrhasius. See Pliny, Natural History 35.65 (on the painter Zeuxis; tr. H. Rackham): "His contemporaries and rivals were Timanthes, Androcydes, Eupompus and Parrhasius. This last, it is recorded, entered into a competition with Zeuxis, who produced a picture of grapes so successfully represented that birds flew up to the stage-buildings; whereupon Parrhasius himself produced such a realistic picture of a curtain that Zeuxis, proud of the verdict of the birds, requested that the curtain should now be drawn and the picture displayed; and when he realized his mistake, with a modesty that did him honour he yielded up the prize, saying that whereas he had deceived birds Parrhasius had deceived him, an artist."
Pichagorians: Pythagoreans. Pythagoras enoined a five-year period of silence on his students.
- Silent in Seven Languages
- Unfit for the Society of the Living
- Burton's Characters
- Unit of Taciturnity: The Dirac
- Ich bin ein Boeotier
- The Merest Statue of a Man
- One of the Most Ungregarious of Beings
- Small Talk
- Penury of Words
- Portrait of a Shy Man
SURGEON: Ill-starred me. I'm about to pass out from the stench of some horrendous latrine! I'm afraid I'll have to let go the tail, the way this damnable, stinking beast keeps breaking wind from all that weight!The Latin (and Greek), from Eckius Dedolatus. Herausgegeben von Siegfried Szamatólski (Berlin: Speyer & Peters, 1891), pp. 19-20:
RUBEUS: You're wrong. I eased my bowels.
SURGEON: What are you saying, scoundrel? You defecated?
RUBEUS : Just like Hochstraten with indulgency-diarrhea.56
SURGEON: Out of fear, you rogue?
RUBEUS: Not at all. Yesterday I swilled more fresh-brewed beer than I'm accustomed to. You needn't be alarmed. It's all thin soup.
CANIDIA: Whether you eat soup or drink it is up to you. And whether it's thin or not I don't know. But one thing's for sure: even though I'm sitting at the front and not the back, I smell an unbearable reek.
56 In Stokes, Letters of Obscure Men, p. 382, we read: "I know some overweening fellows — scoundrels that they are — who have played away all the indulgences that Jakob van Hoogstraten gave them when he had ended the business of Reuchlin at Mainz." See also ibid., p. 504: "Once, during the solemn Act which the Magister-nosters celebrated [in Mainz] against the Augenspiegel, Magister Jakob van Hoogstraten by virtue of his office granted indulgences to all those who were present at the rite."
Chirurgus. Ἐγὼ δὲ κακοδαίμων ob extremae latrinae fetorem tantum non λειποθυμέω et admodum vereor, ne caudam manibus dimittere cogar: ita exsecranda et tanto pressa pondere olida haec bestia assidue pedere non cessat.On the surgeon's question "Out of fear, you rogue?" see Pseudo-Aristotle, Problems 27.3 (tr. W.S. Hett):
Rubeus. Falleris, ἐγὼ γὰρ ἐγκέχοδα.
Chirurgus. Quid ais, sceleste, tune cacasti?
Rubeus. Et concacavi quoque non secus atque Hochstratus indulgentias permerdans.
Chirurgus. Ob timorem, scelerate?
Rubeus. Minime, sed quia heri praeter solitum noviter decoctam cervesiam aviter ingurgitaveram; verum haud ea re movearis, non enim faeces sunt, sed ius est.
Canidia. Sive ius edas sive bibas, tuo tibi iure licebit; an tamen iuri faeces permixtae sint ignoro, hoc tamen scio, quod, licet a fronte et non a tergo resideam, intolerabilem tamen sentiam putorem.
Why is it that in a state of anger, when the heat collects within, men become heated and bold, but in a state of fear they are in the opposite condition? Or is not the same part affected? In the case of the angry it is the heart that is affected, which is the reason why they are courageous, flushed and full of breath, as the direction of the heat is upwards. But in the case of the frightened the blood and the heat escape downwards, whence comes the loosening of the bowels.Jeffrey Henderson, The Maculate Muse, 2nd edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), p. 189, #402, lists over a dozen passages from Aristophanes where fear has this physical effect.
Labels: noctes scatologicae
Saturday, June 20, 2015
Mortification of the Flesh
If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.Samuel Butler (1835-1902), "Counsels of Imperfection," Notebooks, edd. Geoffrey Keynes and Brian Hill (New York: E.P. Dutton & Company, Inc., 1951), p. 258:
To kill self by too much mortification of the flesh is but another, more cruel, and more despicable kind of suicide.
An Unanswered Prayer to Venus
Prayer to Venus, to defend Cyprus against the Army of the Turk.In French:
Beautiful goddess, passionate Cyprian,
Mother of Dalliance, of the Graces, and of Love,
You bring forth everything that sees the light of day,
You are, as it were, the source and root of all.
Worshipped at Idalium, at Amathus, at Eryx,
From heaven protect Cyprus, your fair home.
Kiss your Mars, and around his neck
Entwine your arms, and hold his breast tight.
Don't let a barbarian lord
Destroy your isle and besmirch your dignity:
Drive war elsewhere, away from your birthplace.
You will accomplish this, for with a glance of your eyes
You can overpower men and gods,
Sky and sea, hell and earth.
Veu à Venus pour garder Cypre de l'armée du Turc.On lines 3-4, cf. Lucretius 1.4-5: per te quoniam genus omne animantum / concipitur visitque exortum lumina solis.
Belle Déesse, amoureuse Cyprine,
Mère du Jeu, des Grâces, & d'Amour,
Qui fais sortir tout ce qui voit le jour,
Comme du Tout le germe & la racine.
Idalienne, Amathonte, Erycine,
Garde du ciel Cypre ton beau séjour.
Baize ton Mars, & tes bras à l'entour
De son col plye, & serre sa poictrine.
Ne permetz point qu'un barbare Seigneur
Perde ton Isle & souille ton honneur:
De ton berceau chasse autre-part la guerre.
Tu le feras, car d'un trait de tes yeux
Tu peux fléchir les hommes & les Dieux,
Le Ciel, la Mer, les Enfers & la Terre.
For a verse translation see Lyrics of Pierre de Ronsard, Vandomois. Chosen and Translated by Charles Graves (Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1967), p. 47:
VOW TO VENUS TO PRESERVE CYPRUS FROM THE TURKISH ARMY
Goddess of Beauty, amorous Cyprian,
Love's mother and the nurturer of bliss,
From whom all things without the realm of Dis
Proceed; O, thou in whom all things began:
Idalian, Erycine, Amathian,
Keep Cyprus from the Turk, for yours it is;
Besiege your Mars and snare him with a kiss,
Make love to him as only Love's Queen can.
And, for the fame of your peculiar isle,
Let no rude lord possess it and defile:
Bid war avoid the cradle of your birth.
Yours is the power, your eyes alone know how
To make both god and man before you bow,
The sea, the sky; yea, even Hell and Earth.
Friday, June 19, 2015
A Description of Pan
It was Pan whom Jupiter had sent, in his desire to save the city founded by the Trojana—Pan, who seems ever to stand on tiptoe, and whose horny hoof leaves scarce any print upon the ground. His right hand plays with a lash of Tegeanb goat-skin and deals sportive blows among the holiday crowd at the cross-ways.c Pine-needles wreathe his locks and shade his temples, and a pair of little horns sprout from his ruddy brow. He has pointed ears, and a rough beard hangs down from his chin. He carries a shepherd's crook, and the soft skin of a roe-deer gives a welcome covering to his left side. There is no cliff so steep and dangerous, but he can keep his balance on it like a winged thing, and move his horny hoofs down the untrodden precipice. Sometimes he turns round and laughs at the antics of the shaggy tail that grows behind him; or he puts up a hand to keep the sun from scorching his brow and surveys the pasture-lands with shaded eyes.d Now, when he had duly done the bidding of Jupiter, calming the angry passions of the soldiers and softening their hearts, he went swiftly back to the glades of Arcadia and to Maenalus,a the mountain that he loves; on that sacred height he makes sweet music far and wide with his melodious pipe, and all the flocks from far away follow it.This charming passage is singled out for praise and analysis by D.W.T.C. Vessey in E.J. Kenney and W.V. Clausen, edd., Latin Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), pp. 594-595:
b Tegea is a town of Arcadia, and Arcadia is the home of Pan.
c The reference is to the Lupercalia, a feast in honour of Pan celebrated every year on February 15, when the priests, called Luperci, ran about the city, striking persons whom they met with strips of goat-skin.
d Silius seems to be describing one of the works of art in which Pan is thus represented.
Pan Iove missus erat, servari tecta volente
Troïa, pendenti similis Pan semper et imo
vix ulla inscribens terrae vestigia cornu.
dextera lascivit caesa Tegeatide capra
verbera laeta movens festo per compita coetu. 330
cingit acuta comas et opacat tempora pinus,
ac parva erumpunt rubicunda cornua fronte;
stant aures, imoque cadit barba hispida mento.
pastorale deo baculum, pellisque sinistrum
velat grata latus tenerae de corpore dammae. 335
nulla in praeruptum tam prona et inhospita cautes,
in qua non, librans corpus similisque volanti,
cornipedem tulerit praecisa per avia plantam.
interdum inflexus medio nascentia tergo
respicit arridens hirtae ludibria caudae. 340
obtendensque manum solem infervescere fronti
arcet et umbrato perlustrat pascua visu.
hic, postquam mandata dei perfecta malamque
sedavit rabiem et permulsit corda furentum,
Arcadiae volucris saltus et amata revisit 345
Maenala; ubi, argutis longe de vertice sacro
dulce sonans calamis, ducit stabula omnia cantu.
Silius' Pan owes a debt to Ovid (cf. Metamorphoses 1.699ff., 11.153ff.), but the passage has an overriding originality. The style is pictorial, but not narrowly descriptive. Silius reminds his readers of shared impressions of the sylvan god, so that they can build for themselves a composite image: it is not static, but lively and ebullient, consonant with the merriment, wild strangeness, half-human, half-animal nature of Pan. Verbal and metrical finesse is shown. The positioning of parua and cornua in 332 neatly suggests the sprouting horns. The heavy spondees of 336-7 are cunningly resolved in the swift-moving dactyls that follow, as we imagine fleet-footed Pan leaping down the precipitous crags. The echo of his pipes on Mount Maenalus is evoked by the framing words argutis...calamis. Alliteration is placed in effective service, especially at 329-30, 336-8 and 346-7: sound follows sense but, even more important, depths of sense are added by sound. The whole ecphrasis is a finely-wrought miniature. Silius' cura has for once produced a bounty, but to find such 'occasional gems, one must endure the dross'.1"He puts up a hand to keep the sun from scorching his brow and surveys the pasture-lands with shaded eyes" (lines 341-342)—cf. a bronze statuette of Pan, from the Temple of Artemis at Lousoi in Arcadia, 5th century B.C. (Berlin, Staatliche Museen, Antikenabteilung, inv. no. Misc. 8624):
1 Vessey, [Statius and the Thebaid] (1973) 2.
Another view of the same:
Winifred Lamb, Ancient Greek and Roman Bronzes (London: Methuen, 1929; rpt. Chicago: Argonaut, Inc., 1969), pp. 153-154:
Our account of Arcadian bronzes may be concluded by a description of the goat-headed Pan from Lousoi at Berlin...A creature of the wilds, he stands shading his eyes with one hand: the other may have held a pedum or short crook: his right leg is advanced as though he is ready to leap forward. He has a beautiful fringe of hair down his back: the hair on his body and eyelashes are most carefully engraved. Much care has also been expended on the modelling of the head, muzzle and hands: between the horns is a hole, in which some ornament could have been inserted. The surface shews flaws from defective casting: one hole, in the right shoulder, has been filled in, but not the others. The work is that of a skilled and practiced hand, evidently not that of an Arcadian, but nowhere else, save perhaps in the Homeric Hymn to Pan, has the spirit of Arcadia been so fitly embodied.
Thursday, June 18, 2015
A Lecture on Early Christian Hymnody
As for Philipp August Becker, my few remarks have given no real idea of his exuberant personality — which seldom penetrated into his scholarship; his was an orgiastic nature which somehow did not fit into the traditional pattern of a scholar. A story told me by Walther von Wartburg may illustrate this: Becker, who was rather given to the worship of Bacchus-Dionysos, used to invite his colleagues at Leipzig to a certain popular inn for copious libations. One night, after many hours of merrymaking, he realized that the bourgeois patrons sitting around him were shocked by his exuberance; immediately turning to his colleagues, he remarked: 'And now I want to tell you something about early Christian hymns!' For almost an hour he talked, to the delight, not only of his colleagues but also of the crowd of Spiessbürger who had gradually drawn closer to him, enthralled by the eloquence of this grey-beard bard who was reviving the spirit of Saint Ambrosius in a tavern.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
The Blandishments of Pleasure
I find it not only tolerable but even enjoyable. Here is a sample, in which Voluptas (Pleasure) tries unsuccessfully to persuade Scipio to abandon his dreams of military glory (15.46-58, 63-67; tr. J.D. Duff):
But if you follow me, my son, then your allotted term of life will move along no rugged path. Never will the trumpet break your troubled sleep; you will not feel the northern cold nor the fierce heat of Cancer nor the pangs of thirst, nor take your meal many a time on the blood-stained turf, nor gulp down the dust behind your helmet, suffering fearful hardship. No: you will pass happy days and unclouded hours, and a life of ease will warrant you in hoping for length of days. What great things the gods themselves have created for the use and enjoyment of man! How many harmless pleasures they have supplied with bountiful hand! And they themselves set an example of peaceful existence to men; for they live at ease, and their peace of mind is never broken....Attend to me. The life of man fleets fast away, and no man can be born a second time; time flies, and the stream of death carries us away and forbids us to carry to the lower world the things that gave us pleasure in life. Who, when his last hour comes, does not regret too late that he let slip the seasons of Pleasure?
at si me comitere, puer, non limite duro
iam tibi decurrat concessi temporis aetas.
haud umquam trepidos abrumpet bucina somnos;
non glaciem Arctoam, non experiere furentis
ardorem Cancri nec mensas saepe cruento 50
gramine compositas; aberunt sitis aspera et haustus
sub galea pulvis plenique timore labores;
sed current albusque dies horaeque serenae,
et molli dabitur victu sperare senectam.
quantas ipse deus laetos generavit in usus 55
res homini plenaque dedit bona gaudia dextra!
atque idem, exemplar lenis mortalibus aevi,
imperturbata placidus tenet otia mente.
huc adverte aures. currit mortalibus aevum,
nec nasci bis posse datur; fugit hora, rapitque
Tartareus torrens ac secum ferre sub umbras, 65
si qua animo placuere, negat. quis luce suprema
dimisisse meas sero non ingemit horas?
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
By placid I do not mean peace-loving and pitiful in the Christian sense. That doctrine of loving and forgiving one's enemies is based on sheer funk; our pity for others is dangerously akin to self-pity, most odious of vices. Catholic teaching—in practice, if not in theory—glides artfully over the desirability of these imported freak-virtues, knowing that they cannot appeal to a masculine stock. By placid I mean steady, self-contained..
They have a proverb which runs "sfoga o schiatta"—relieve yourself or burst; our vaunted ideal of self-restraint, of dominating the reflexes, being thought not only fanciful but injurious to health.
Monday, June 15, 2015
Other Goods Compared with Education
And, in comparison with this [i.e. education], all other advantages are human, and trivial, and not worth our serious concern.
καὶ τὰ μὲν ἄλλα τῶν ἀγαθῶν ἀνθρώπινα καὶ μικρὰ καὶ οὐκ ἀξιοσπούδαστα καθέστηκεν.
Good birth is a fine thing, but it is an advantage which must be credited to one's ancestors.
εὐγένεια καλὸν μέν, ἀλλὰ προγόνων ἀγαθόν.
Wealth is held in esteem, but it is a chattel of fortune, since oftentime she takes it away from those who possess it, and brings and presents it to those who do not expect it. Besides, great wealth is the very mark for those who aim their shafts at the purse—rascally slaves and blackmailers; and above all, even the vilest may possess it.
πλοῦτος δὲ τίμιον μέν, ἀλλὰ τύχης κτῆμα, ἐπειδὴ τῶν μὲν ἐχόντων πολλάκις ἀφείλετο, τοῖς δ᾿ οὐκ ἐλπίσασι φέρουσα προσήνεγκε, καὶ ὁ πολὺς πλοῦτος σκοπὸς ἔκκειται τοῖς βουλομένοις βαλλάντια τοξεύειν, κακούργοις οἰκέταις καὶ συκοφάνταις, καὶ τὸ μέγιστον, ὅτι καὶ τοῖς πονηροτάτοις μέτεστι.
Repute, moreover, is imposing, but unstable.
δόξα γε μὴν σεμνὸν μέν, ἀλλ᾿ ἀβέβαιον.
Beauty is highly prized, but short-lived.
κάλλος δὲ περιμάχητον μέν, ἀλλ᾿ ὀλιγοχρόνιον.
Health is a valued possession, but inconstant.
ὑγίεια δὲ τίμιον μέν, ἀλλ᾿ εὐμετάστατον.
Strength is much admired, but it falls an easy prey to disease and old age. And, in general, if anybody prides himself wholly upon the strength of his body, let him know that he is sadly mistaken in judgement. For how small is man's strength compared with the power of other living creatures! I mean, for instance, elephants and bulls and lions.
ἰσχὺς δὲ ζηλωτὸν μέν, ἀλλὰ νόσῳ εὐάλωτον καὶ γήρᾳ. τὸ δ᾿ ὅλον εἴ τις ἐπὶ τῇ τοῦ σώματος ῥώμῃ φρονεῖ, μαθέτω γνώμης διαμαρτάνων. πόστον γάρ ἐστιν ἰσχὺς ἀνθρωπίνη τῆς τῶν ἄλλων ζῴων δυνάμεως; λέγω δ᾿ οἷον ἐλεφάντων καὶ ταύρων καὶ λεόντων.
But learning, of all things in this world, is alone immortal and divine.
παιδεία δὲ τῶν ἐν ἡμῖν μόνον ἐστὶν ἀθάνατον καὶ θεῖον.
Combinations of Grammatical Smells
Your sagacious grammarian is often nothing better than the hound from which he gets his complimentary epithet. Dogs have a very limited range of vision, and are haunted, not as we are, by landscapes and seascapes, but by smellscapes. Indeed, I have known scholars who thought of the classics merely as combinations of grammatical smells. The type is familiar. It is the type of Smelfungus, own brother to Dryasdust. But the sense of smell is not to be despised for all that.Related post: A Veritable Treasure-House of Grammatical Peculiarities.
Sunday, June 14, 2015
"Exhaust interpretation before you attack the text" is a wise rule of a great teacher, but, unfortunately, the interpreter too often becomes exhausted before the interpretation and conjectural criticism is summoned to the relief. To be sure, what is sometimes called conjecture is not, properly speaking, conjecture. It is a manner of proof-reading for which modern slaves of the vernacular press take no credit to themselves, as every man that has served in the humble capacity of reader makes daily 'emendations' that would be the fortune of some scholars, if the operations were performed on the body of the classic texts. It is purely a matter of familiarity with the range of thought and expression, and is less a wonder, the more one is at home in a given language.The "great teacher" was Friedrich Ritschl. Gildersleeve elsewhere stated the rule as "Don't go into criticism until you exhaust hermeneutics." See Maxims for Philologists.
I said: "Jack, a while ago you called to me in English. You said 'let's eat.' Now, how would you say that in Indian?"Hat tip: Ian Jackson.
I wrote it down in my notebook. Then I asked, "Which part in it means 'eat'?"
Jack looked at me with a very puzzled expression on his face. "I dunno what you mean, Doc, what part you eat...."
"All right....Never mind....How do you say 'I eat'?"
"And how do you say 'You eat'?"
"And how do you say 'He eats'?"
I thought to myself: Of course! That's what the grammarians call pronominal prefixes. The s..., k..., and y... stand for the pronouns, I, you, he. I felt very proud of myself. I was getting along fine. "And now, Jack, how do you say 'We eat'?"
"How many of us eat, Doc?"
"What's that got to do with it? If I say 'we' I mean more than one. That's what we call singular and plural."
"I dunno what you call 'em things. I never went to school. But in Pit River talk it makes a lot of difference whether it's one man, or two people, or more than two people. For instance, you and me sit here, and here comes another fellow, and he says: 'You fellows eat already?' Well, we answer in Indian: Sahaama. That means: 'Yes, we two eat already.' But if we had been more than two, like for instance you and me and Lena, then we would say: Sahammiima. 'Yes, we all eat already.' Just like you say to a fellow if you invite him to eat: Tamma. That means: 'You eat!' But if you are talking to two people you say: Dzammi. And if it's more than two you say: Dzamma. Savvy now, Doc?"
I was jubilant. "Why yes, Jack. It's what they call the dual. That's the way it is in Greek!" Jack had a very kind face, and it was now wreathed in smiles. He evidently felt very proud of the Greeks. He said: "Well, well. What do you think of that now! I always thought them Greeks were nice people."
I was astounded. "What do you know about the Greeks, Jack?"
"They was a couple of them had a restaurant here a while back. I used to listen to their talk, but I couldn't get a word of it, although I know some Mexican too. I didn't know they talk like us."
Friday, June 12, 2015
Inadequate Pay for Teachers
Many fathers, however, go so far in their devotion to money as well as in animosity toward their children, that in order to avoid paying a larger fee, they select as teachers for their children men who are not worth any wage at all—looking for ignorance, which is cheap enough.Related post: Adequate Pay for Teachers.
πολλοὶ δ᾽ εἰς τοσοῦτο τῶν πατέρων προβαίνουσι φιλαργυρίας ἅμα καὶ μισοτεκνίας, ὥσθ᾽ ἵνα μὴ πλείονα μισθὸν τελέσειαν, ἀνθρώπους τοῦ μηδενὸς τιμίους αἱροῦνται τοῖς τέκνοις παιδευτάς, εὔωνον ἀμαθίαν διώκοντες.
Not One Green Spot Left
'You are changing the appearance of the valley,' he said, veiling by his tone the irony which was evident in his choice of words.Id. (Hubert Eldon speaking with his mother):
Richard glanced at him, then walked to the window, with his hands in his pockets, and gave himself the pleasure of a glimpse of the furnace-chimney above the opposite houses. He laughed.
'I hope to change it a good deal more. In a year or two you won't know the place.'
'I fear not.'
Mutimer glanced again at his visitor.
'Why do you fear?' he asked, with less command of his voice.
'I of course understand your point of view. Personally, I prefer nature.'
Hubert endeavoured to smile, that his personal preferences might lose something of their edge.
'You prefer nature,' Mutimer repeated, coming back to his chair, on the seat of which he rested a foot. 'Well, I can't say that I do. The Wanley Iron Works will soon mean bread to several hundred families; how many would the grass support?'
'Shall I tell you how I felt in talking with him? I seemed to be holding a dialogue with the twentieth century, and you may think what that means.'
'Ah, it's a long way off, Hubert.'
'I wish it were farther.The man was openly exultant; he stood for Demos grasping the sceptre. I am glad, mother, that you leave Wanley before the air is poisoned.'
'Mr. Mutimer does not see that side of the question?'
'Not he! Do you imagine the twentieth century will leave one green spot on the earth's surface?'
'My dear, it will always be necessary to grow grass and corn.'
'By no means; depend upon it. Such things will be cultivated by chemical processes. There will not be one inch left to nature; the very oceans will somehow be tamed, the snow-mountains will be levelled. And with nature will perish art. What has a hungry Demos to do with the beautiful?'
Thursday, June 11, 2015
A Word of Advice
Mrs. Routh met me in the street, and asked 'why I did not go to see her dear man?' 'I was afraid of being troublesome.' 'But he tells me that he wishes to see you.' So I went. (It was Nov. 29th, 1847.) Would that I had preserved a record of what passed! But I believe it was then that I ventured to address him somewhat as follows: "Mr. President, give me leave to ask you a question I have sometimes asked of aged persons, but never of any so aged or so learned as yourself." He looked so kindly at me that I thought I might go on. "Every studious man, in the course of a long and thoughtful life, has had occasion to experience the special value of some one axiom or precept. Would you mind giving me the benefit of such a word of advice?" ... He bade me explain,—evidently to gain time. I quoted an instance. He nodded and looked thoughtful. Presently he brightened up and said, "I think, sir, since you care for the advice of an old man, sir, you will find it a very good practice"—(here he looked me archly in the face),—"always to verify your references, sir!" ... I can better recall the shrewdness of the speaker's manner than his exact words; but they were those, or very nearly those.
It is astonishing how much enjoyment one can get out of a language that one understands imperfectly.
The More He Thinks, The More Miserable He Grows
Let us select some of those thoughts, the multitude of which confounds and overwhelms the mind of a Hypochondriack.
His opinion of himself is low and desponding. His temporary dejection makes his faculties seem quite feeble. He imagines that every body thinks meanly of him. His fancy roves over the variety of characters whom he knows in the world, and except some very bad ones indeed, they seem all better than his own. He envies the condition of numbers, whom, when in a sound state of mind, he sees to be far inferior to him. He regrets his having ever attempted distinction and excellence in any way, because the effect of his former exertions now serves only to make his insignificance more vexing to him. Nor has he any prospect of more agreeable days when he looks forward. There is a cloud as far as he can perceive, and he supposes it will be charged with thicker vapour, the longer it continues.
He is distracted between indolence and shame. Every kind of labour is irksome to him. Yet he has not resolution to cease from his accustomed tasks. Though he reasons within himself that contempt is nothing, the habitual current of his feelings obliges him to shun being despised. He acts therefore like a slave, not animated by inclination but goaded by fear.
Every thing appears to him quite different. He repeats from Hamlet,
"How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable,
To me seem all the uses ot this world."
He begins actually to believe the strange theory, that nothing exists without the mind, because he is sensible, as he imagines, of a total change in all the objects of his contemplation. What formerly had engaging qualities has them no more. The world is one undistinguished wild.
His distempered fancy darts sudden livid glaring views athwart time and space. He cannot fix his attention upon any one thing, but has transient ideas of a thousand things; as one sees objects in the short intervals when the wind blows aside flame and smoke.
An extreme degree of irritability makes him liable to be hurt by every thing that approaches him in any respect. He is perpetually upon the fret; and though he is sensible that this renders him unmanly and pitiful he cannot help shewing it; and his consciousness that it is observed, exasperates him so, that there is great danger of his being harsh in his behaviour to all around him.
He is either so weakly timid as to be afraid of every thing in which there is a possibility of danger, or he starts into the extremes of rashness and desperation. He ruminates upon all the evils that can happen to man, and wonders that he has ever had a moment’s tranquillity, as he never was nor ever can be secure. The more he thinks the more miserable he grows, and he may adopt the troubled exclamation in one of Dr. Young's tragedies:
"Auletes, seise me, force me to my chamber,
There chain me down, and guard me from myself."
Though his reason be entire enough, and he knows that his mind is sick, his gloomy imagination is so powerful that he cannot disentangle himself from its influence, and he is in effect persuaded that its hideous representations of life are true. In all other distresses there is the relief of hope. But it is the peculiar woe of melancholy, that hope hides itself in the dark cloud.
Could the Hypochondriack see any thing great or good or agreeable in the situation of others, he might by sympathy partake of their enjoyment. But his corrosive imagination destroys to his own view all that he contemplates. All that is illustrious in publick life, all that is amiable and endearing in society, all that is elegant in science and in arts, affects him just with the same indifference, and even contempt, as the pursuits of children affect rational men. His fancied elevation and extent of thought prove his bane; for he is deprived of the aid which his mind might have from sound and firm understandings, as he admits of none such. Even his humanity towards the distressed is apt to be made of no avail. For as he cannot even have the idea of happiness, it appears to him immaterial whether they be relieved or not. Finding that his reason is not able to cope with his gloomy imagination, he doubts that he may have been under a delusion when it was cheerful; so that he does not even wish to be happy as formerly, since he cannot wish for what he apprehends is fallacious.
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Conticuere omnes intentique ora tenebant ..."Gentle old Tommy Page" is T.E. Page (1850-1936).
(They kept silence and, being attentive, held their mouths.)
This hexameter, which opens Book Two, was the first line of the Aeneid which Augustus heard Virgil recite. Reading it again, after a lapse of fifty years, I seemed to be back in my classroom at Charterhouse, teasing gentle old Tommy Page, the Sixth Form Beak: "Who all kept silent, sir? And why write the same thing in two different ways? ... Yes, sir, I know—the notes say that 'all' means Dido's courtiers; but why doesn't Virgil?"
Tommy replies: "You suggest, my boy, that he might have written straight out:
Intenti comites Didonis conticuerunt ...
(Dido's courtiers preserved an attentive silence.)
"Well, Virgil, as it happens, thought that Lucretius and Homer, who did not mind ending a hexameter line with a single, five-syllabled verb, were inelegant; so conticuerunt had to begin the line and take the poetic form of conticuere. That suggests omnes as a means of removing the final 'e' by elision—conticuer' omnes. Virgil's readers could be allowed to guess at the meaning of omnes, in return for the elegant trope, borrowed perhaps from the Orient, and often miscalled hendiadys, of saying the same thing, differently, twice over. He uses it several times, you'll have noticed, when telling us about the Wooden Horse. The Greeks 'enclose chosen bodies of men in the sides of the horse' and fill the mighty central cavern with armed soldiers. When they have sailed away, the Trojans 'find the Greek camp deserted' and the shore abandoned. Thymoetes then orders the Trojans to push into the sea 'the wiles of the Greeks' and the gifts they suspected (but that's true hendiadys, not repetition); whereupon Laocoon hurls his spear 'into the side' and the carved flank of the animal; as a result of which the stomach being struck, its 'hollow interior makes a sound' and the caverns groaned."
"Thank you, sir! Another thing we can't make out is what wood the Trojan Horse was really built of."
"Fir, my boy. Line 16."
"Yes, sir, it's fir in line 16, but it's maple in line 112, and oak in line 186, and pine in line 258, and oak again in line 280..."
"Yes, now I remember. But in Virgil's time a poet was licenced to use any particular sort of timber as a synonym for timber generally, even if it involved him, as here, in apparent contradictions."
"Thank you again, sir!"
Thanks to Graham Asher, who points out that "line 280" is a mistake for "line 260".
Dons are picturesque figures. Their fussy ways and their oddities, personal and intellectual, are as becoming to them as black feathers to the blackbird. Their minds are all gaunt pinnacles, closed gates, and little hidden gardens. A mediaeval tradition survives in their notion of learning and in their manner of life; they are monks flown from the dovecot, scholastics carrying their punctilious habits into the family circle. In the grander ones there may be some assimilation to a prelate, a country gentleman, or a party leader; but the rank and file are modest, industrious pedagogues, sticklers for routine, with a squinting knowledge of old books and of young men. Their politics are narrow and their religion dubious. There was always something slippery in the orthodoxy of scholastics, even in the Middle Ages; they are so eager to define, to correct, and to trace back everything, that they tend to cut the cloth on their own bias, and to make some crotchet of theirs the fulcrum of the universe. The thoughts of these men are like the Sibylline leaves, profound but lost. I should not call them pedants, because what they pursue and insist on in little things is the shadow of something great; trifles, as Michael Angelo said, make perfection, and perfection is no trifle. Yet dry learning and much chewing of the cud take the place amongst them of the two ways men have of really understanding the world—science, which explores it, and sound wit, which estimates humanly the value of science and of everything else.
The function of dons is to expound a few classic documents, and to hand down as large and as pleasant a store as possible of academic habits, maxims, and anecdotes. They peruse with distrust the new books published on the subject of their teaching; they refer to them sometimes sarcastically, but their teaching remains the same. Their conversation with outsiders is painfully amiable for a while; lassitude soon puts the damper on it, unless they can lapse into the academic question of the day, or take up the circle of their good old stories. Their originality runs to interpreting some old text afresh, wearing some odd garment, or frequenting in the holidays some unfrequented spot. When they are bachelors, as properly they should be, their pupils are their chief link with the world of affection, with mischievous and merry things; and in exchange for this whiff of life, which they receive with each yearly invasion of flowering youth, like the fresh scent of hay every summer from the meadows, they furnish those empty minds with some humorous memories, and some shreds of knowledge. It does not matter very much whether what a don says is right or wrong, provided it is quotable; nobody considers his opinions for the matter they convey; the point is that by hearing them the pupils and the public may discover what opinions, and on what subjects, it is possible for mortals to devise. Their maxims are like those of the early Greek philosophers, a proper introduction to the good society of the intellectual world.
Wit the dons often have, of an oblique kind, in the midst of their much-indulged prejudices and foibles; and what with glints of wit and scraps of learning, the soul is not sent away empty from their door: better fed and healthier, indeed, for these rich crumbs from the banquet of antiquity, when thought was fresh, than if it had been reared on a stuffy diet of useful knowledge, or on some single dogmatic system, to which life-slavery is attached. Poor, brusque, comic, venerable dons! You watched over us tenderly once, whilst you blew your long noses at us and scolded; then we thought only of the roses in your garden, of your succulent dinners, or perhaps of your daughters; but now we understand that you had hearts yourselves, that you were song-birds grown old in your cages, having preferred fidelity to adventure. We catch again the sweet inflection of your cracked notes, and we bless you. You have washed your hands among the innocent; you have loved the beauty of the Lord's house.
Tuesday, June 09, 2015
What Is In This Black Book?
'Who are you?'
The book-wallah was an itinerant peddler of books who wandered from station to station throughout Upper Burma. His system of exchange was that for any book in his bundle you gave him four annas, and any other book. Not quite any book, however, for the book-wallah, though analphabetic, had learned to recognize and refuse a Bible.
'No, sahib,' he would say plaintively, 'no. This book' (he would turn it over disapprovingly in his flat brown hands) 'this book with a black cover and gold letters — this one I cannot take. I know not how it is, but all sahibs are offering me this book, and none are taking it. What can it be that is in this black book? Some evil, undoubtedly.'
Monday, June 08, 2015
There is a place
(List daughter) in a blacke and hollow Vault,
Where day is neuer seene; there shines no Sunne,
But flaming horrour of consuming Fires;
A lightlesse Sulphure, choakt with smoaky foggs
Of an infected darknesse; in this place
Dwell many thousand, thousand sundry sorts
Of neuer dying deaths: there damned soules
Roare without pitty; there are Gluttons fedd
With Toades and Addars; there is burning Oyle
Powr'd down the Drunkards throate; the Vsurer
Is forc't to supp whole draughts of molten Gold;
There is the Murtherer for-euer stab'd,
Yet can he neuer dye; there lies the wanton
On Racks of burning steele, whiles in his soule
Hee feeles the torment of his raging lust.
Contempt for Commentators
Just as geometry, which Heinsius considered the most important branch of philosophy, is rendered ordinary and contemptible by its everyday applications (as in measuring fields or constructing walls), scholars degrade the wisdom ('sapientia') of the poets in their commentaries. Like the barbarian prince who laid to waste nearly all of Greece and even desecrated the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, grammarians blasphemously defile and profane the wisdom that lies hidden in the sacred depths of the poets. Whoever turns the poets of antiquity into school exercises for children is using them as buckets and piss-pots. Instead of harvesting fruit, he is just picking leaves.3Hat tip: Ian Jackson.
3 Heinsius, Pindari Pythiis praemissa, pp. 61f.
A Passage in Isocrates' Philip
While it is in all cases difficult to construct a thing, to destroy it is, comparatively, an easy task.A minor quibble about the translation—do these compounds of ἵστημι really mean "construct" and "destroy" here? In Liddell-Scott-Jones (s.vv. συνίστημι and διίστημι), the primary definitions are "unite" and "separate". Perhaps the Latin translation (by Wolf, rev. Ahrens) in Müller's Oratores Attici influenced Norlin:
συστῆσαι μέν ἐστιν ἅπαντα χαλεπόν, διαστῆσαι δὲ ῥᾴδιον.
constituere omnia quam sit difficile, quam facile vero dissolvere.The English translation by J.H. Freese seems more accurate:
In all things it is difficult to join, but easy to put asunder.There is no comment on this passage in Isocrates, De Pace and Philippus. Edited with a Historical Introduction and Commentary by M.L.W. Laistner (New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1927 = Cornell Studies in Classical Philology, XXII).
The jingle of the aorist active infinitives συστῆσαι...διαστῆσαι is characteristic. Hermogenes, On Types of Style, tr. Cecil W. Wooten (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987), p. 57 (1.12), mentions Isocrates' fondness for "rhyming syllables at the end," i.e. for homoioteleuton, one of the so-called Gorgianic figures. According to tradition (Cicero, Orator 176; Quintilian 3.1.13; etc.), Isocrates was a pupil of Gorgias. Yun Lee Too, The Rhetoric of Identity in Isocrates (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 236-239, casts doubt on the tradition.
Saturday, June 06, 2015
I Might Do Worse Than Stay Here All My Days
I micht dae waur than bide here a' my days,Notes for my own use:
Whaur a' thing's aye, year in year oot, the same;
Amang kent fowk, trailin' upon kent braes,
I micht dae waur than settle doon at hame.
To live content wi' little, kennin' weel 5
That this warld's gear is coft wi' muckle care;
To hae a change o' claes, a puckle meal,
And peace o' mind — what needs a body mair?
To howk the grund whaur ance my forbears swat,
To see the kirkyaird whaur some day I'll rest; 10
Wha kens but mebbe some sic wey as that
Wad gar me trow that a' thing's for the best?
It scunners me to think I'll hae to face
Ance mair the senseless trokes I've left ahent;
For in that clorty, smeeky, godless place 15
There's naething that can gie a man content.
Wae's me to think on't, but your weary feet
May wander up and doon a hail year through,
And never in the towmond will you meet
A chield that's sib to ane that's sib to you. 20
3 kent: known, familiar
6 coft: bought, acquired
7 puckle: little, small
9 howk: dig
13 scunners: sickens
15: clorty: dirty
19 towmond: twelvemonth
20 sib: related
Get On With the Job
I am not a controversialist; it is so much more satisfying in every sphere of life to get on with the job, whatever it may be, than to talk incessantly about the job, so that in the end, in the multitude of words, we all prevent each other from doing anything.
Friday, June 05, 2015
Literary Likes and Dislikes
I was fond of the Old Testament, disliked the New. My favourite books were Ecclesiastes and the Wisdom of Solomon in which I recognised the melancholy and tired distinction of an old race, the mysterious Ezekiel and that earthy mystic, the first Isaiah. Job was too much thrust upon me and the Lamentations of Jeremiah I found in faulty taste. All these I read with more pleasure in the sonorous Latin of the Vulgate. They were among the books I lived in through the winter evenings.
In Greek literature I had read the Odyssey with passion, but not the Iliad, I admired Aeschylus, particularly the Agamemnon, and Sophocles, particularly Oedipus Rex; Euripides and Aristophanes I disliked, and Plato, except his epigrams and the Symposium. I enjoyed the lyric poets, Sappho and Archilochus, and adored the Mackail selection of the Greek Anthology, Theognis, Plato, Callimachus, Palladas, and Meleager; I knew all the sceptical epigrams by heart and most of those about love and death and "the fate of youth and beauty". In all my books I had written after my name "τίς τίνι ταῦτα λέγεις" (Who are you that say this, and to whom?) Mackail's Anthology (in the one-volume edition with the long preface), might have been described as the Sceptic's Bible. I was also fond of the bloomy Theocritus and the Lament for Bion.
In Latin Literature I read Horace and Virgil but did not enjoy them till later for Horace, except by Headlam, was not inspiringly taught and Virgil associated with too many punishments and in his moments of beauty with Macnaghten's vatic trances. Although I had learnt Latin all my life I still could not appreciate it without a crib and it was the arrival at the end of my time of the Loeb translations, sanctioned by the authorities, that put its deeper enjoyment within my grasp. Virgil and Horace, without them, had been too difficult, too tearstained. Horace besides was more connected with character than with prettiness. We were slow to appreciate him as a verbal artist
Fortes creantur fortibus et bonis"Brave men are bred from the good and brave, there is in cattle, there is in horses," Headlam would rasp, "the virtue of their sires," and the history specialists, conscious that though not poets, they were the stuff about which poetry was written, seemed to preen themselves for a moment in the afternoon drowse.
Est in juvencis, est in equis patrum
My favourite was Catullus, whose poetry "suited my mood," and therefore the mood of the age. It was cynical, romantic, passionate and bawdy and I could substitute my own name for his. "Otium, Cyrille, tibi molestum est", "Sed tu, Cyrille, destinatus obdura". I liked the world of Suetonius and Tacitus but the Latin prose-writer for me was Petronius Arbiter. I had four editions of the Satyricon. The best I had bound in black crushed levant and kept on my pew in chapel where it looked like some solemn book of devotion and was never disturbed. To sit reading it during the sermon, looking reverently towards the headmaster scintillating from the pulpit and then returning to the racy Latin, "the smoke and wealth and noise of Rome" was "rather a gesture".
I also liked Martial, crisp and Iberian but resented the sanctimonious Juvenal, I was excited by the Pervigilium, I struggled through the convolutions of Apuleius and admired the pagan chapters of the Confessions of Saint Augustine.
In French I cultivated the Troubadours but was disappointed, as I was by those four old bores, Montaigne, Rabelais, Boccaccio and Burton. The deceptively simple verses of Villon I loved, with the Poussin landscapes of Chénier and the garden sadness of Ronsard and Du Bellay. Then came a few lines of Racine, all Candide and Manon Lescaut and an unrepresentative selection of Flaubert, Gautier, Hugo and Baudelaire, no Rimbaud but a close study of Verlaine, Hérédia, and Mallarmé.
Albert Anker, Schreibender Knabe
Thursday, June 04, 2015
If You Are Wise
Liber, your friends' sweetest care, Liber, worthy to live wreathed in everlasting roses, if you are wise, let your hair ever glisten with Assyrian unguent and garlands of flowers circle your head. Let the clear crystal grow dark with old Falernian and the soft couch be warm with a beguiling loved one. He who has so lived, though he end in mid span, has made his life longer than it was given to him.
Liber, amicorum dulcissima cura tuorum,
Liber, in aeterna vivere digne rosa,
si sapis, Assyrio semper tibi crinis amomo
splendeat et cingant florea serta caput;
candida nigrescant vetulo crystalla Falerno
et caleat blando mollis amore torus.
qui sic vel medio finitus vixit in aevo,
longior huic facta est quam data vita fuit.
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
Non-Lawyers and Lawyers
[T]he world at large, the laity as distinguished from the lawyers, the children of the world as all who were not lawyers seemed to him to be, will do and must be expected to do, foolish things continually. They cannot be persuaded to subject themselves to lawyers in all their doings, and, of course, go wrong when they do not do so.
Only an Animal
Sir, he hath never fed of the dainties that are bred in a book.
He hath not eat paper, as it were; he hath not drunk ink.
His intellect is not replenished; he is only an animal,
only sensible in the duller parts.
Reading Horace in Bed
In the most intimate sense Horace is (of course) without a rival as a companion and comforter of the nightly pillow. This charming Pagan has confessed and will always confess the best minds of the literate Christian world. I know one person who owes his dearest mental joys, his best nocturnal consolations, and the very spring of hope itself to the little great man of Rome. But he must be read in the original—a condition which unfortunately disqualifies too many readers. The songs of Horace, written in the immortal tongue of Rome, can never become antiquated. Though the Pontifex and the Virgin ceased hundreds of years ago to climb the Capitolian hill, though the name of Aufidus is lost where its brawling current hurries down, still that treasure of genius endures, more lasting than brazen column, a joy and a refreshment ever to the jaded souls of men.
Horace has the supreme and almost unique fortune to appear always modern, his genius being of the finest quality ever known and happily preserved in an unchanging tongue. He is, for instance, far more modern than Dante and distinctly nearer to us than the Elizabethans. Alone, he constitutes a sufficient reason for the admirable, though sometimes foolishly censured, practice of reading abed.
Tuesday, June 02, 2015
A Strained Expression
November 30 was Churchill's eightieth birthday. He was ten months younger than Maugham. To honor the occasion, both houses of Parliament had commissioned a portrait by Graham Sutherland, who was now established as a portraitist of powerful men and women....Sittings began in August, and the portrait was ready for the unveiling in Westminster Hall on November 30. Since Sutherland worked from sketches, Churchill was seeing the portrait for the first time. It showed him sitting in an armchair, with his hands clutching the ends of the armrests, his face pugnacious and warriorlike.Although the portrait itself doesn't survive (Churchill's wife destroyed it), we know what it looked like from copies, including this one by Brian Pike:
Churchill called it "a remarkable example of modern art," but his true feelings were otherwise.
"I don't like it," he told Maugham.
Maugham asked why.
"It doesn't make me look noble," Churchill said.
"How does it make you look?" Maugham asked.
"I look as if I was having a difficult stool," Churchill replied.31
31 [Maugham's secretary Alan] Searle to [Patrick] O'Higgins [in an interview].
This reminds me of an anecdote about the Roman emperor Vespasian, who had a habitually strained expression. Suetonius, Life of Vespasian 20 (tr. J.C. Rolfe), tells the story:
He was well built, with strong, sturdy limbs, and the expression of one who was straining. Apropos of which a witty fellow, when Vespasian asked him to make a joke on him, replied rather cleverly: "I will, when you have finished relieving yourself."Martial 3.89 made a similar joke:
statura fuit quadrata, compactis firmisque membris, vultu veluti nitentis: de quo quidam urbanorum non infacete, siquidem petenti, ut et in se aliquid diceret: "dicam," inquit, "cum ventrem exonerare desieris."
Use lettuce and soft mallows: for you have the look, Phoebe, of one who is taking a hard crap.
utere lactucis et mollibus utere malvis:
nam faciem durum, Phoebe, cacantis habes.
Labels: noctes scatologicae
Monday, June 01, 2015
Drink to day and drown all sorrow,
You shall perhaps not do it to morrow.
Best while you have it use your breath,
There is no drinking after death.
Wine works the heart up, wakes the wit,
There is no cure 'gainst age but it.
It helps the head-ach, cough and tissick,
And is for all diseases Physick.
Then let us swill boyes for our health,
Who drinks well, loves the common-wealth.
And he that will to bed go sober,
Falls with the leaf still in October.
Big Enough for Me
O man, not Croesus' grave do you see, but that of a poor fellow; a small tomb, but sufficient for me.J.D. Denniston, The Greek Particles, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954), p. 102 (on ἀλλὰ γάρ; quoting with a raised dot after τάφον as well as after χερνήτεω):
ἄνθρωπ᾿, οὐ Κροίσου λεύσσεις τάφον, ἀλλὰ γὰρ ἀνδρὸς
χερνήτεω· μικρὸς τύμβος, ἐμοὶ δ᾿ ἱκανός.
perhaps ἔμοιγ', with no stop between ἀλλά and ἱκανός.
The Reader of Journals
The reader of journals is greedy for the actual: how do other people live, think, and feel? Of all literary forms, the journal comes closest to answering these questions directly: at its best, it realizes dramatically for the reader events and feelings in a way that seems spontaneous and true to immediate experience. Characters shift and shade off into obscurity; events are discontinuous, become prominent and disappear: even the form of the journal is comparable to living, as a day-to-day process whose outcome is unknown.