Thursday, March 22, 2018


That's Just the Way Things Are

Homer, Iliad 14.53-54 (tr. A.T. Murray, rev. William F. Wyatt):
Yes, indeed, these things have now come to pass and are here at hand, nor could Zeus himself, who thunders on high, fashion them otherwise.

ἦ δὴ ταῦτά γ᾽ ἑτοῖμα τετεύχαται, οὐδέ κεν ἄλλως
Ζεὺς ὑψιβρεμέτης αὐτὸς παρατεκτήναιτο.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018



James Willis (1925-2014), Latin Textual Criticism (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1972 = Illinois Studies in Language and Literature, 61), p. 65:
The misreading of cl as d produces some remarkable results in Latin texts....I once heard that a modern Protestant editor of a collection of papal letters made one of them begin with Solita apostolicae sedis dementia....


Strengthening Soft Minds

Horace, Odes 3.24.52-54 (tr. Niall Rudd):
Minds that are too soft must be hardened in rougher pursuits.

tenerae nimis
mentes asperioribus
firmandae studiis.

54 firmandae Bentley: formandae codd.
Bentley's note (keep clicking to enlarge):


Knees and Feet

R.D. Dawe, ed., Sophocles, Oedipus Rex (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), p. 140 (on lines 467-468):
Greek, from Homer onward, seems to our taste oddly preoccupied with knees and feet...

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


A Message from God

James Cheetham, The Life of Thomas Paine (New York: Southwick and Pelsue, 1809), pp. 280-281:
He usually took a nap after dinner, and would not be disturbed let who would call to see him. One afternoon, a very old lady, dressed in a large scarlet cloak, knocked at the door, and inquired for Thomas Paine. Mr. Jarvis told her he was asleep. I am very sorry, she said, for that, for I want to see him very particularly. Thinking it a pity to make an old woman call twice, Mr. Jarvis took her into Paine's bed-room and waked him. He rose upon one elbow, and then with an expression of eye that staggered the old woman back a step or two, he asked—"What do you want?" Is your name Paine? Yes. "Well then, I come from Almighty God, to tell you, that if you do not repent of your sins and believe in our blessed Saviour Jesus Christ, you will be damned, and"——"Poh, poh, it is not true. You were not sent with any such impertinent message. Jarvis, make her go away. Pshaw, he would not send such a foolish ugly old woman as you about with his messages. Go away. Go back—Shut the door." The old lady raised both her hands, kept them so, and without saying another word, walked away in mute astonishment.


A Reading Program

W.A. Oldfather (1880-1945), "The Character of the Training and of the Thesis for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Classics," Classical Journal 26.8 (May, 1931) 580-588 (at 581-583):
[W]e require, I repeat, the reading of about nine thousand pages in a suggested list of classical authors. Since the ordinary first-year graduate student seldom comes to us with more than twelve hundred pages read in Latin and Greek, this means that he has some seventy-eight hundred pages yet to read during three years. Since the average reading rate that we recommend is four pages an hour, he has a little less than two thousand hours to be devoted to reading during his next three years, or, since this kind of work ought well to go on continuously, even (or rather, especially) during vacation, he will have to devote to the reading of classical authors an average of from one hour and forty-five minutes to two hours a day. This is surely no hardship, particularly when one considers that a good deal of the reading required for special courses counts also toward this total. I might add that the preliminary examination, at the end of the second year, is more than half devoted to testing the ability of our students to read at sight, a power which can be acquired only by reading considerable quantities of material.

This reading program has also other advantages. If done with any attention and the taking of notes on matters of interest, it starts the scholar's collections of material for future studies (and we all know how much time is consumed later on in reading even hurriedly through long rows of authors in search of some particular matter); it gives him the salubrious habit of going to the sources at once instead of to some handbook or resumé of them; it is a delightful recreation in itself from the occasionally somewhat irksome tasks of the seminar or special reports — i.e., for the student who belongs in this field of study at all, for if he does not really like to read the great classics he surely ought to find that out very promptly, and leave a profession in which he must henceforward be either constantly bored or systematically insincere. Last of all, and decidedly least, although not to be neglected either for its practical value, the man who has read nine thousand pages of the great classics has accumulated a considerable store of the prime data of facts upon which the structures of systematic treatises on history, literature, linguistics, private and public antiquities, philosophy, religion, and the like, are constructed — information which will stand him in good stead against the days of his preliminary and final doctoral examinations.

Perhaps a word of explanation about the apparently arbitrary rate assumed of an average of four pages an hour, an average please, mind you; for four pages of Pindar should take as much more time, no doubt, as four pages of the New Testament should take less. Of course there are all rates of reading, from the average of perhaps one line in a full day which a conscientious seminar leader might allow himself, to the hundreds of pages which an experienced man can cover, galloping along in Hussarentempo, looking out only for references to safety-pins, or superstitions touching the salamander.


Ancestral Customs

Agatharchides of Cnidus, Fragmente der griechischen Historiker 86 F 5, from Athenaeus 7.50.297 d (tr. Charles Burton Gulick):
Agatharchides, at any rate, in the sixth book of his European History, says that the Boeotians sacrifice eels which are of surpassing size, putting wreaths on them, saying prayers over them, and casting barley-corns on them as on any other sacrificial victim; and to the foreigner who was utterly puzzled at the strangeness of this custom and asked the reason, the Boeotian declared that he knew only one answer, and he would reply that one should observe ancestral customs, and it was not his business to justify them to other men.

φησὶ γοῦν Ἀγαθαρχίδης ἐν ἕκτῃ Εὐρωπιακῶν τὰς ὑπερφυεῖς τῶν Κωπαΐδων ἐγχέλεων ἱερείων τρόπον στεφανοῦντας καὶ κατευχομένους οὐλάς τ᾿ ἐπιβάλλοντας θύειν τοῖς θεοῖς τοὺς Βοιωτούς· καὶ πρὸς τὸν ξένον τὸν διαποροῦντα τὸ τοῦ ἔθους παράδοξον καὶ πυνθανόμενον ἓν μόνον εἰδέναι φῆσαι τὸν Βοιωτὸν φάσκειν τε ὅτι δεῖ τηρεῖν τὰ προγονικὰ νόμιμα καὶ ὅτι μὴ καθήκει τοῖς ἄλλοις ὑπὲρ αὐτῶν ἀπολογίζεσθαι.
On eels see Andrew Dalby, Food in the Ancient World from A to Z (London: Routledge, 2003), pp. 125-126.

Related post: Fish Sacrifice.

Monday, March 19, 2018


Redi in Interiorem Hominem

Umberto Eco (1932-2016), Inventing the Enemy, tr. Richard Dixon (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012), p. 132:
Look at that idiot walking along the street, wearing his iPod headphones; he cannot spend an hour on the train reading a newspaper or looking at the countryside, but has to go straight to his mobile phone during the first part of the journey to say "I've just left" and on the second part of the journey to say "I'm just arriving." There are people now who cannot live away from noise. And it is for this reason that restaurants, already noisy places, offer extra noise from a television screen—sometimes two—and music; and if you ask for them to be switched off, people stare at you as if you're mad. This great need for noise is like a drug; it is a way to avoid focusing on what is really important. Redi in interiorem hominem: yes, in the end, the example of Saint Augustine could still provide a good ideal for the world of politics and television.

Chi è l'imbecille che marcia per strada con l'iPod nelle orecchie o che non riesce a stare un'ora in treno leggendosi il giornale o guardando il paesaggio, ma deve immediatamente attivare il telefonino per dire nella prima parte del viaggio: "Sono partito" e nella seconda parte del viaggio: "Sto per arrivare"? Sono ormai persone che non riescono a vivere al di fuori del rumore. Ed è per questo che i ristoranti, già rumorosi di per sé per l'afflusso dei clienti, offrono rumore in più attraverso due televisori accesi, talora, e la musica; e se gli chiedete di spegnere, vi guardano come se foste dei pazzi. Questo bisogno intenso di rumore ha funzione di droga e impedisce di focalizzare ciò che sarebbe veramente fondamentale. Redi in interiorem hominem: sì, alla fine un buon ideale per l'universo della politica di domani e della televisione sarebbe ancora sant'Agostino.


Father to Daughter

Homer, Odyssey 6.68 (Alcinous to Nausicaa; tr. A.T. Murray, rev. George E. Dimock):
Neither the mules do I begrudge you, my child, nor anything else.

οὔτε τοι ἡμιόνων φθονέω, τέκος, οὔτε τευ ἄλλου.
There is no note on this line in J.B. Hainsworth's commentary, but none is needed. Any father with a daughter will immediately understand.



Thomas Babington Macaulay, diary (Naples, November 7, 1838):
While walking about the town, I picked up a little Mass-book, and read for the first time in my life—strange, and almost disgraceful, that it should be so—the service of the Mass from beginning to end. It seemed to me inferior to our Communion service in one most important point. The phraseology of Christianity has in Latin a barbarous air, being altogether later than the age of pure Latinity. But the English language has grown up in Christian times; and the whole vocabulary of Christianity is incorporated with it. The fine passage in the Communion Service: 'Therefore with Angels, and Archangels, and all the company of heaven,' is English of the best and most genuine description. But the answering passage in the Mass: 'Laudant Angeli, adorant dominationes, tremunt potestates, coeli Coelorumque virtutes ac beati Seraphim,' would not merely have appeared barbarous, but would have been utterly unintelligible,—a mere gibberish,—to everyone of the great masters of the Latin tongue, Plautus, Cicero, Caesar, and Catullus. I doubt whether even Claudian would have understood it. I intend to frequent the Romish worship till I come thoroughly to understand this ceremonial.
Related post: The Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Friday, March 16, 2018



Homer, Odyssey 4.195-198 (tr. A.T. Murray, rev. George E. Dimock):
                                         I count it indeed no blame
to weep for any mortal who has died and met his fate.
This is, to be sure, the only due we pay to miserable mortals,
to cut our hair and to let a tear fall from our cheeks.

                                       νεμεσσῶμαί γε μὲν οὐδὲν
κλαίειν ὅς κε θάνῃσι βροτῶν καὶ πότμον ἐπίσπῃ.
τοῦτό νυ καὶ γέρας οἶον ὀιζυροῖσι βροτοῖσιν,
κείρασθαί τε κόμην βαλέειν τ᾿ ἀπὸ δάκρυ παρειῶν.


Cheerfulness and Joyousness

Coleridge, Table Talk (March 15, 1834):
I take unceasing delight in Chaucer. His manly cheerfulness is especially delicious to me in my old age. How exquisitely tender he is, and yet how perfectly free from the least touch of sickly melancholy or morbid drooping! The sympathy of the poet with the subjects of his poetry is particularly remarkable in Shakspeare and Chaucer; but what the first effects by a strong act of imagination and mental metamorphosis, the last does with out any effort, merely by the inborn kindly joyousness of his nature. How well we seem to know Chaucer! How absolutely nothing do we know of Shakspeare!

Thursday, March 15, 2018


Men of One Country

Coleridge, Table Talk (May 28, 1830):
I, for one, do not call the sod under my feet my country. But language, religion, laws, government, blood,—identity in these makes men of one country.
Related posts:


This Vale of Tears

Aeschylus, Libation-Bearers 1018-1020 (tr. Alan H. Sommerstein):
No mortal can complete his life unharmed and unpunished throughout —
ah, ah!
Some troubles are here now, some will come later.

οὐδεὶς μερόπων ἀσινῆ βίοτον
διὰ πάντ᾿ ἀτίτης ἂν ἀμείψαι·
ἒ ἔ,
μόχθος δ᾿ ὁ μὲν αὐτίχ᾿, ὁ δ' ἥξει.

1019 ἀτίτης ἂν ἀμείψαι Garvie (ἀτίτης Heimsoeth, ἀμείψαι Bothe): ἄτιμος ἀμείψεται Μ
1020 ἒ ἔ Klausen: ἐς Μ
A.F. Garvie ad loc.:


Morning Prayer

Isaac McCoy (1784-1846), History of Baptist Indian Missions (Washington: William M. Morrison, 1840), p. 359 (on the Osage):
At the opening of day, the devotee retires a little from his camp or company, and utters a prayer aloud. This may or may not have some allusion to a deceased relative or friend. The voice is usually elevated so as to be heard sometimes half a mile, and their words are uttered in a kind of plaintive, piteous tone, accompanied with weeping, either affected or real, I suppose commonly the former. To English ears, the sound is uncouth, and we would denominate it a kind of howling. Their word for God is, Wóh-kon´-da, (Father of Life.) Their prayer runs in some such words as the following: "Wóh-kon´-da, pity me; I am very poor; give me what I need; give me success against mine enemies, that I may avenge the death of my friends. May I be able to take scalps, and to take horses," &c.


The Desert

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), Daybreak, Book V, § 491 (excerpt; tr. R.J. Hollingdale):
When I am among the many I live as the many do, and I do not think as I really think; after a time it always seems as though they want to banish me from myself and rob me of my soul — and I grow angry with everybody and fear everybody. I then require the desert, so as to grow good again.

Unter Vielen lebe ich wie Viele und denke nicht wie ich; nach einiger Zeit ist es mir dann immer, als wolle man mich aus mir verbannen und mir die Seele rauben — und ich werde böse auf Jedermann und fürchte Jedermann. Die Wüste thut mir dann noth, um wieder gut zu werden.



David Garnett, Introduction to Anna Wickham, Selected Poems (London: Chatto & Windus, 1971), p. 8:
[S]he told me that she had taken Hall and Knight's Algebra with her and had spent her time in the private asylum working out quadratic equations in order to keep her mind from dwelling on her situation and to overcome her rancour.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Do It Yourself

Bion of Smyrna, fragment V (tr. J.D. Reed):
It is not right, my friend, to have recourse to a craftsman for every purpose,
nor should you for every purpose have need of another.
But rather you yourself craft a syrinx, for it is quite an easy task.

οὐ καλόν, ὦ φίλε, πάντα λόγον ποτὶ τέκτονα φοιτῆν,
μηδ' ἐπὶ πάντ' ἄλλω χρέος ἰσχέμεν· ἀλλὰ καὶ αὐτός
τεχνᾶσθαι σύριγγα, πέλει δέ τοι εὐμαρὲς ἔργον.


The Books Were Opened

Revelation 20.11-12 (KJV):
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

καὶ εἶδον θρόνον μέγαν λευκὸν καὶ τὸν καθήμενον ἐπ' αὐτόν, οὗ ἀπὸ τοῦ προσώπου ἔφυγεν ἡ γῆ καὶ ὁ οὐρανός, καὶ τόπος οὐχ εὑρέθη αὐτοῖς. καὶ εἶδον τοὺς νεκρούς, τοὺς μεγάλους καὶ τοὺς μικρούς, ἑστῶτας ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου, καὶ βιβλία ἠνοίχθησαν· καὶ ἄλλο βιβλίον ἠνοίχθη, ὅ ἐστιν τῆς ζωῆς· καὶ ἐκρίθησαν οἱ νεκροὶ ἐκ τῶν γεγραμμένων ἐν τοῖς βιβλίοις κατὰ τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν.

Jacobello Alberegno, panel from Polyptych of the
Apocalypse (Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice)

See Giovanni Bissoli, "L'Apocalisse nell' opera pittorica di Iacobello Alberegno," Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, Liber Annuus 30 (1980) 251-254 (at 254).

Hat tip: Andrew Rickard.

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