Sunday, December 10, 2017


Athletics in Olden Times

Philostratus, On Athletics 43, tr. Waldo E. Sweet, Sport and Recreation in Ancient Greece: A Sourcebook with Translations (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), pp. 222-223:
In the old times "athletics" meant any kind of physical exercise. Some trained by carrying heavy weights, others by chasing hares and horses or by bending and straightening thick rods of wrought iron; others yoked themselves with strong oxen to pull wagons or bent back the neck of bulls; and some did the same with lions. Such activities were the training of men like Polymester, Glaukos, Alesias, and Poulydamas from Skotoussa. The boxer Tisander from Naxos used to swim around the headlands of his island, and went far out to sea, using his arms, which in exercising the rest of his body also received exercise themselves. These men washed in rivers and springs; they learned to sleep on the ground, some of them lying on stretcher beds made of oxhide, others on beds made of straw they gathered from the field. Their food was bread made from barley and unleavened loaves of unsifted wheat. For meat they ate the flesh of oxen, bulls, goats, and deer; they rubbed themselves with the oil of the wild olive and phylia. This style of living made them free from sickness, and they kept their youth a long time. Some of them competed in eight Olympic games, others for nine; they were also excellent soldiers and fought under their city's walls, where they were not defeated, but earned prizes for valor and trophies. They made war a training for athletics, and they made athletics a military activity.
Greek text, from Philostratos, Über Gymnastik, ed. Julius Jüthner (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1909), pp. 168, 170 (lunate sigmas not retained):
γυμναστικὴν δὲ οἱ παλαιοὶ καὶ αὐτὸ τὸ ὁτιοῦν γυμνάζεσθαι· ἐγυμνάζοντο δὲ οἱ μὲν ἄχθη φέροντες οὐκ εὔφορα, οἱ δ’ ὑπὲρ τάχους ἁμιλλώμενοι πρὸς ἵππους καὶ πτῶκας, οἱ δ’ ὀρθοῦντές τε καὶ κάμπτοντες σίδηρον ἐληλαμένον εἰς παχύ, οἱ δὲ βουσὶ συνεζευγμένοι καρτεροῖς τε καὶ ἁμαξεῦουσιν, οἱ δὲ ταύρους ἀπαυχενίζοντες, οἱ δ’ αὐτοὺς λέοντας. ταῦτα δὲ δὴ Πολυμήστορες καὶ Γλαῦκοι καὶ Ἀλησίαι καὶ Πουλυδάμας ὁ Σκοτουσσαῖος. Τίσανδρον δὲ τὸν ἐκ τῆς Νάξου πύκτην περὶ τὰ ἀκρωτήρια τῆς νήσου νέοντα παρέπεμπον αἱ χεῖρες ἐπὶ πολὺ τῆς θαλάσσης [παραπεμπόμεναι] γυμναζόμεναί τε καὶ γυμνάζουσαι. ποταμοί τε αὐτοὺς ἔλουον καὶ πηγαὶ καὶ χαμευνίαν ἐπήσκουν οἱ μὲν ἐπὶ βυρσῶν ἐκταθέντες, οἱ δ’ εὐνὰς ἀμήσαντες ἐκ λειμώνων. σιτία δὲ αὐτοῖς αἵ τε μᾶζαι καὶ τῶν ἄρτων οἱ ἄπτιστοι καὶ μὴ ζυμῆται καὶ τῶν κρεῶν τὰ βόειά τε καὶ ταύρεια καὶ τράγεια τούτους ἔβοσκε καὶ δόρκοι κότινου τε <καὶ> φυλίας ἔχριον αὑτοὺς λίπα· ὅθεν ἄνοσοί τε ἤσκουν καὶ ὀψὲ ἐγήρασκον. ἠγωνίζοντό τε οἱ μὲν ὀκτὼ Ὀλυμπιάδας, οἱ δὲ ἐννέα καὶ ὁπλιτεύειν ἀγαθοὶ ἦσαν ἐμάχοντό τε ὑπὲρ τειχῶν οὐδὲ ἐκεῖ πίπτοντες, ἀλλὰ ἀριστείων τε ἀξιούμενοι καὶ τροπαίων, καὶ μελέτην ποιούμενοι πολεμικὰ μὲν γυμναστικῶν, γυμναστικὰ δὲ πολεμικῶν ἔργα.


A Pejorative Term

Wendell Clausen (1923-2006), "Philology," Comparative Literature Studies 27.1 (1990) 13-15 (at 13-14, ellipse marks in original):
Anyone who speaks about philology today must be aware that it has become, for many, a pejorative term, even a term of abuse; at the very least, an adverse relation seems to be implied: philology and ... literary criticism or theory. Such a contrast — I am thinking especially, though not exclusively, of Greek and Latin literature — is not only futile, it is subversive; for philology is the basis of literary criticism. Too often philology has been humbled and identified with one or another of its components — with grammar (say) or textual criticism — and its original high purpose forgotten, which is, as it has been since the time of the scholars and poet-scholars of Alexandria, literary criticism — in Quintilian's phrase, poetarum enarratio, the detailed interpretation of the poets.

We are all of us natural philologists, growing up in our language, hearing, speaking, for the most part hardly even noticing it, so natural does it seem. But in Greek or Latin, in attempting to hear a "dead" language, we are deprived of the living voice; and it is the office of philology to supply our want of natural sensibility.

At the end of World War II, in 1945, a short book was published in Sweden, Unpoetische Wörter by Bertil Axelson, the importance of which, partly owing to circumstances, was only gradually recognized. Axelson undertook to answer an apparently simple question — in fact, a brilliant negative question: what words metrically available to the Latin poets did they avoid using? Unpoetic words: words unsuitable, presumably because of tone or connotation, to a certain genre of poetry, to poetry of a certain period, or altogether unsuitable. I remember still my surprise and dismay on first reading Axelson as a young scholar; for I was made to realize that I was not, after all, as I had fondly imagined, a Roman. The philologist, the classical scholar, must always be contemplating an imagined reality, an Italy of the mind, with the broken statues standing on the shore.
Related post: Term of Abuse.


I Live Like an Old Man

Jules Renard, Journal (March 2, 1905; tr. Louise Bogan and Elizabeth Roget):
I live like an old man. I read the papers a little, a few pieces out of books, I set down a few notes, I keep warm, and, often, I nap.

Je vis comme un vieux. Je lis un peu des journaux, des morceaux choisis, j'écris quelques notes, je me chauffe et, souvent, je sommeille.

Saturday, December 09, 2017


Unpublished Verses by J.K. Stephen

Inscription by J.K. Stephen (1859-1892) in a copy of his Lapsus Calami (Cambridge: Macmillan and Bowes, 1891) given to Charles Waldstein (1856-1927), transcribed by Christopher Stray from Waldstein's papers and books in Lausanne (line numbers added):
He can't keep away from the bottle
    And he thinks that he knows how to ride
But he found where the late Aristotle
    And his Biote calmly abide

The whiskey wanes fast in his cellar,        5
    He is sadly addicted to sleep;
But he isn't a bad sort of fellow,
    And his learning is certainly deep.

H​e​ isn't exactly a German
    And he is but a Yankee at heart;        10
But he preaches a beautiful sermon
    And lectures to women on art.

He possesses a great deal of knowledge
    And expresses opinions with zest:
But there isn't a man in the College        15
    Who is more to the taste of the rest.

3-4 (he found where the late Aristotle / And his Biote calmly abide): see Charles Waldstein, "The Finding of the Tomb of Aristotle," Century Magazine 44.3 (July, 1892) 414-426, and Inscriptiones Graecae XII,9 564 (Euboia, Eretria, 3rd century B.C.) — [Β]ιότη [Ἀ]ριστοτέλου. See also Edith Hall, "Another Non-Tomb of Aristotle," The Edithorial (26 May 2016).

9-10 (H​e​ isn't exactly a German / And he is but a Yankee at heart): Waldstein was born in New York City, the son of German immigrants.

12 (lectures to women on art): "The use of 'women' is interesting. 'Lectures to ladies' was a conventional title in Oxbridge from the early 1870s; JKS is being rougher, man to man." (Christopher Stray)

15 (the College): King's College, Cambridge, which was also J.K. Stephen's college.

Thanks to Christopher Stray for permission to print these verses, and to Ian Jackson, who suggests that Stephen may have been influenced by "How pleasant to know Mr. Lear."


Motto for a Curmudgeon

Dear Mike,

"extra iocum moneo te, quod pertinere ad beate vivendum arbitror, ut cum viris bonis, iucundis, amantibus tui vivas. nihil est aptius vitae, nihil ad beate vivendum accommodatius."

This from a man who, equally 'extra iocum' writes to Atticus: "odi enim celebritatem, fugio homines, lucem aspicere vix possum." Perhaps he was just having a bad day.

Come to think of it, not a bad motto for a curmudgeon:


Best wishes,
Eric [Thomson]

In D.R. Shackleton Bailey's translation (Cicero, Letters to Atticus 3.7.1):
I hate crowds and shun my fellow creatures, I can hardly bear the light of day.


The Human Vomedy

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), "On Deviating into Sense," On the Margin: Notes & Essays (London: Chatto and Windus, 1923; rpt. 1928), pp. 81-86 (at 81-82):
No one will ever know the history of all the happy mistakes, the accidents and unconscious deviations into genius, that have helped to enrich the world's art. They are probably countless. I myself have deviated more than once into accidental felicities. Recently, for example, the hazards of careless typewriting caused me to invent a new portmanteau word of the most brilliantly Laforguian quality. I had meant to write the phrase "the Human Comedy," but, by a happy slip, I put my finger on the letter that stands next to "C" on the universal keyboard. When I came to read over the completed page I found that I had written "the Human Vomedy". Was there ever a criticism of life more succinct and expressive? To the more sensitive and queasy among the gods the last few years must indeed have seemed a vomedy of the first order.
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.

Friday, December 08, 2017


Dinner Parties

Cicero, Letters to Friends 9.24.3 (tr. D.R. Shackleton Bailey):
And really, my dear Paetus, all joking apart I advise you, as something which I regard as relevant to happiness, to spend time in honest, pleasant, and friendly company. Nothing becomes life better, or is more in harmony with its happy living. I am not thinking of physical pleasure, but of community of life and habit and of mental recreation, of which familiar conversation is the most effective agent; and conversation is at its most agreeable at dinner parties. In this respect our countrymen are wiser than the Greeks. They use words meaning literally 'co-drinkings' or 'co-dinings,' but we say 'co-livings,' because at dinner parties more than anywhere else life is lived in company.

et mehercule, mi Paete, extra iocum moneo te, quod pertinere ad beate vivendum arbitror, ut cum viris bonis, iucundis, amantibus tui vivas. nihil est aptius vitae, nihil ad beate vivendum accommodatius. nec id ad voluptatem refero sed ad communitatem vitae atque victus remissionemque animorum, quae maxime sermone efficitur familiari, qui est in conviviis dulcissimus, ut sapientius nostri quam Graeci; illi 'συμπόσια' aut 'σύνδειπνα,' id est compotationes aut concenationes, nos 'convivia,' quod tum maxime simul vivitur.


Newly Discovered Work by P.J. Enk

I never knew that Dutch classical scholar P.J. Enk (1885-1963) wrote a book about sex. From JSTOR:

The actual book reviewed by Clausen:
Sex. Propertii Elegiarum Liber Secundus. Edidit P.J. Enk. Pars Prior, Prolegomena et Textum Continens. Pp. 127. Pars Altera, Commentarium Continens. Pp. 482. Leiden, A.W. Sijthoff, 1962.
I.e. "Second Book of Sextus Propertius' Elegies," etc.



Ideal Commentary

Excerpt from a letter written by R.A.B. Mynors, quoted in Wendell Clausen, "Sir Roger Aubrey Baskerville Mynors: 28 July 1903, Wiltshire, England, 17 October 1989, Hereford, England," Vergilius 35 (1989) 3-7 (at 6):
My ideal commentary on a Latin author would quote exclusively from Latin Greek and English authors (other tongues if I knew enough) and never mention a modern author (other than Pauly Wissowa and Thes.) except where one has an obligation to acknowledge — grossly unprofessional conduct.


The Intellectual's Journey

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), Point Counter Point, chapter XXVI:
The course of every intellectual, if he pursues his journey long and unflinchingly enough, ends in the obvious, from which the non-intellectuals have never stirred.

Thursday, December 07, 2017



Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), "Vulgarity in Literature," Music at Night and Other Essays (London: Chatto & Windus, 1949; rpt. 1957), pp. 270-336 (at 317):
'Mysticism? What you mean is misty schism,' was the remark once made to a friend of mine (who moves, as I, alas, do not, in the highest ecclesiastical circles) by a more than ordinarily eminent Eminence. The pun is not a bad one and, like the best Irish bulls, is pregnant. For the literature of mysticism, which is a literature about the inexpressible, is for the most part misty indeed — a London fog, but coloured pink.


Hatred of Your Country

Silius Italicus 7.555-556 (tr. J.D. Duff):
To harbour wrath against your country is a sin; and no more heinous
crime can mortal man carry down to the shades below.

succensere nefas patriae; nec foedior ulla
culpa sub extremas fertur mortalibus umbras.


Moral Perfection

Jules Renard, Journal (May 16, 1905; tr. Louise Bogan and Elizabeth Roget):
Perhaps, if you were to become too perfect morally, you would become like that little stunted tree I see through my window, that no longer produces a single leaf.

Peut-être que, si l'on perfectionnait trop sa morale, on deviendrait comme ce petit arbre rabougri que je vois par la fenêtre de mon jardin et qui ne produit même plus une feuille.


I Creep Upon the Earth

A.E. Housman (1859-1936), M. Manilii Astronomicon Liber Quintus. Accedunt Addenda Libris I II III IV (London: The Richards Press, 1930), p. vii:
Unable to soar in the void, I creep upon the earth; and there I make the acquaintance of stony facts.
Id., p. xxv:
Breiter's chief purpose was to explain for novices the astrology of the poem, but his knowledge of the subject was neither original nor adequate. Verbal interpretation is often lacking, critical discussion is generally shunned, and Latinity gets little attention. Falsehoods, blunders of every sort and size, self-contradictions, misinterpretations, miscalculations, misquotations and misprints leave few pages undisfigured.
Id., p. xxvii:
The Latin commentary was separately published in 1921 with no small magnificence by the royal academy of sciences at Amsterdam. What it most resembles is a magpie's nest. With the rarest exceptions, all that it contains of any value, whether interpretation or illustration, is taken from others, and usually without acknowledgment. A reader new to the author and the editor might mistake van Wageningen for a man of learning; but with my knowledge of both I can trace every stolen penny to the pouch it came from.
Id., pp. xxxiii-xxxiv:
'Operam maximam eamque satis fastidiosam posui in primo emendationis cuiusque auctore inuestigando'. I am one of the few who can echo these words of Lachmann's: most editors have souls above such things, and some of them so much prefer error to knowledge that even when we patient drudges have ascertained the facts for them they continue to disseminate misinformation. There is another set of facts which I am almost alone in commemorating, for it is desired to suppress them. Many a reading discovered by conjecture has afterwards been confirmed by the authority of mss; and I record the occurrence, as instructive, instead of concealing it, as deplorable. The resistance of conservatives to true emendation is perpetual, and to enjoy credit in the future they must obliterate their past. When therefore a conjecture has turned out to be a manuscript reading, and they have gnashed their teeth and accepted it as such, they try to make the world forget that they formerly condemned it on its merits. Its author, who bore the blame of its supposed falsehood, is denied mention after the establishment of its truth; and the history of scholarship is mutilated to save the face of those who have impeded progress.
Id., p. xxxv:
It surprises me that so many people should feel themselves qualified to weigh conjectures in their balance and to pronounce them good or bad, probable or improbable. Judging an emendation requires in some measure the same qualities as emendation itself, and the requirement is formidable. To read attentively, think correctly, omit no relevant consideration, and repress self-will, are not ordinary accomplishments; yet an emendator needs much besides: just literary perception, congenial intimacy with the author, experience which must have been won by study, and mother wit which he must have brought from his mother's womb.

It may be asked whether I think that I myself possess this outfit, or even most of it; and if I answer yes, that will be a new example of my notorious arrogance. I had rather be arrogant than impudent. I should not have undertaken to edit Manilius unless I had believed that I was fit for the task; and in particular I think myself a better judge of emendation, both when to emend and how to emend, than most others.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017


Mind and Body

Lucretius, On the Nature of Things 3.445-454 (tr. W.H.D. Rouse, rev. Martin F. Smith):
Besides, we feel that the mind is begotten along with the body, and grows up with it, and with it grows old. For as toddling children have a body infirm and tender, so a weak intelligence goes with it. Next, when their age has grown up into robust strength, the understanding too and the power of the mind is enlarged. Afterwards, when the body is now wrecked with the mighty strength of time, and the frame has succumbed with blunted strength, the intellect limps, the tongue babbles, the intelligence totters, all is wanting and fails at the same time.

praeterea gigni pariter cum corpore et una        445
crescere sentimus pariterque senescere mentem.
nam velut infirmo pueri teneroque vagantur
corpore, sic animi sequitur sententia tenvis;
inde ubi robustis adolevit viribus aetas,
consilium quoque maius et auctior est animi vis;        450
post ubi iam validis quassatum est viribus aevi
corpus et obtusis ceciderunt viribus artus,
claudicat ingenium, delirat lingua, <labat> mens,
omnia deficiunt atque uno tempore desunt.

453 labat add. Lachmann (vagat Palmer, meat Merrill)
Ettore Paratore on 448: "nota la consonantizzazione della u in tenuis per ragioni metriche."


Accuracy and Dupery

A.E. Housman (1859-1936), M. Manilii Astronomicon Liber Quintus. Accedunt Addenda Libris I II III IV (London: The Richards Press, 1930), pp. 105-106:
I did not praise Bechert's accuracy, because accuracy is a duty and not a virtue; but if I could have foreseen the shameful carelessness of Breiter and van Wageningen I should have said with emphasis, as I do now, that he was very accurate indeed.
Id., p. 112 (footnote):
It is not my business to run about saving dupes from dupery.



J. Enoch Powell (1912-1998), Greek in the University. Inaugural Lecture to the University of Sydney, May 7th, 1938 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1938), page number unknown:
But this I am prepared to assert: that it is possible for any pass-student to take away from a course in Greek, not only some insight into the process of reasoning by which sound judgements about a text may be arrived at, but in general a disposition to treat statements on their own merits and not on those of the authorities from whom they emanate, an eye sharpened to detect special pleading, false argumentation and hocus-pocus, and a healthy freedom from the prevalent though often entirely subconscious superstition that the printed word and the established opinion have some mysterious and inherent claim to be believed.
I'm not sure that a course in Greek will instill all of these virtues, but (to my mind at least) they are virtues worth having. The lecture is reprinted in Reflections of a Statesman: The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (London: Bellew, 1991), pp. 87-96. I haven't seen either this book or the original lecture.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017


Words and Deeds

Libanius, Orations 30.21 (tr. A.F. Norman):
And if they prate to me of the teachings of the scriptures that they profess to obey, I will counter them with the despicable acts they have committed.

εἰ δέ μοι γράμματα λέγουσιν ἀπὸ βίβλων αἷς φασιν ἐμμένειν, ἐγὼ τὰ πράγματα ἀντιθήσω τὰ παρὰ φαῦλον ἐκείνοις πεποιημένα.


A Morning Salutation

Moritz Thomsen (1915-1991), The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey on Two Rivers (Saint Paul: Graywolf Press, 1990), p. 173:
I have been brought back to today by a gargantuan fart, the kind that if I had made it in high school would have got me immediately elected as class president. But it is not mine; I don't have the constitution to manufacture such monumentalities. It is the work of a newly arrived passenger to the deck who now stands at the railing of the ship peering furiously across the empty grassy spaces of the Amazon — Hedrik, a six-foot, six-inch Dutchman....

Another blast, a fart to match the greatness of the river, echoes and rolls out over the water, and though the Dutchman is fifty feet away I can only regard it as some kind of a European communication. A morning salutation?

"And a good morning to you," I call. "Was that beso, that kiss, for me?"



The Atheist

Jules Renard, Journal (September 14, 1903; tr. Louise Bogan and Elizabeth Roget):
You say I am an atheist, because we do not search for God in the same manner: or, rather, you believe you have found Him. I congratulate you. I am still searching for Him. I shall search for Him ten, twenty years, if He lends me life. I am afraid I shall not find Him: but I shall still look for Him, if He exists. He may be appreciative of my efforts.

Vous dites que je suis athée, parce que nous ne cherchons pas Dieu de la même façon; ou, plutôt, vous croyez l'avoir trouvé. Je vous félicite. Je le cherche encore. Je le chercherai dix ans, vingt ans, s'il me prête vie. Je crains de ne pouvoir le trouver: je le chercherai quand même, s'il existe. Il me saura peut-être gré de mon effort.
The French continues:
Et peut-être qu'il aura pitié de votre confiance béate, de votre foi paresseuse et un peu niaise.
And maybe He will take pity on your blissful confidence, your lazy and somewhat silly faith.


Let the Die Be Cast

Robert Renehan, Greek Textual Criticism: A Reader (Cambridge: Harward University Press, 1969), pp. 54-55:
Another proverb found in Menander (frag. 59.4 Koerte), though certainly not original with him, is ἀνερρίφθω κύβος. Aristophanes (frag. 673 Kock) shows a variation of it: φράζε τοίνυν, ὡς ἐγώ σοι πᾶς ἀνέρριμμαι κύβος. There is no doubt that ἀνερρίφθω κύβος was, as Koerte calls it, a "proverbium notissimum." Appian (BC 2.35) and Plutarch (Pompey 60, Caesar 32) both state that Caesar exclaimed ἀνερρίφθω κύβος at his famous crossing of the Rubicon. Plutarch is quite explicit. In his Life of Caesar he states: τοῦτο δὴ τὸ κοινὸν τοῖς εἰς τύχας ἐμβαίνουσιν ἀπόρους καὶ τόλμας προοίμιον ὑπειπὼν "Ἀνερρίφθω κύβος" ὥρμησε πρὸς τὴν διάβασιν; and in his Life of Pompey he states: καὶ τοσοῦτον μόνον Ἑλληνιστὶ πρὸς τοὺς παρόντας ἐκβοήσας, "Ἀνερρίφθω κύβος," διεβίβαζε τὸν στρατόν. The following facts thus appear: (1) ἀνερρίφθω κύβος was a common saying uttered before (προοίμιον) undertaking a risky and doubtful venture; (2) Caesar's terse comment at the Rubicon was made (a) in Greek (b) before he crossed the stream. He was in fact quoting a Greek proverb of common currency. Suetonius, in his Divus Iulius 32, gives us the story in Latin dress; the MSS read
tunc Caesar: "eatur," inquit, "quo deorum ostenta et inimicorum iniquitas vocat. iacta alea est."
Strictly speaking the "die was not cast" until after Caesar crossed the Rubicon; iacta alea est is slightly illogical. But this distinction must not and need not be pressed. It is clear from the evidence presented above that Suetonius, who certainly knew the famous story, is here translating the Greek proverb ἀνερρίφθω κύβος; the Greek has a perfect imperative and Suetonius rendered it by a Latin perfect imperative: iacta alea esto. est of the MSS is nothing but a trivialization of the commonest sort. The rare perfect imperative corrupted to a familiar perfect indicative. Centuries ago the great Erasmus conjectured iacta alea esto; the general reluctance of editors of Suetonius to this day to print esto is incomprehensible to me. Lest there be any who, pace Plutarch, do not think that the perfect ἀνερρίφθω κύβος can be said of an act not yet begun, I give here a larger extract from the Menander fragment cited above:
A.                              οὐ γαμεῖς, ἂν νοῦν ἔχῃς,
τοῦτον καταλιπὼν τὸν βίον· γεγάμηκα γὰρ
αὐτός· διὰ τοῦτό σοι παραινῶ μὴ γαμεῖν.
B. δεδογμένον τὸ πρᾶγμ᾿· ἀνερρίφθω κύβος.
A. πέραινε, σωθείης δὲ κτλ.
Here are translations of some of the passages cited by Renehan.

Aristophanes, fragment 673 Kock = 929 Kassel and Austin (tr. Jeffrey Henderson):
Tell me, then, since I'm your last cast of the dice.
Plutarch, Life of Caesar 32 (tr. Bernadotte Perrin):
And uttering the phrase with which men usually prelude their plunge into desperate and daring fortunes, "Let the die be cast," he hastened to cross the river.
Plutarch, Life of Pompey 60 (tr. Bernadotte Perrin):
And calling out in Greek to the bystanders these words only, "Let the die be cast," he set his army across.
Menander, fragment 59 Koerte = 64 Kassel and Austin, lines 1-5 (tr. Maurice Balme):
A. You will not marry, if you've any sense,
And leave your present way of life. Myself,
I'm married; that is why I tell you not to.
B. It's all decided. Let the die be cast.
A. Go on, then; and I hope you'll survive.
Suetonius, Life of Julius Caesar 32 (without Erasmus' conjecture; tr. J.C. Rolfe):
Then Caesar cried: "Take we the course which the signs of the gods and the false dealing of our foes point out. The die is cast."

Monday, December 04, 2017



Catherine Nixey, The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World (London: Macmillan, 2017), pp. 111-112, with notes on p. 281:
Statues, the very seat of the demons themselves, suffered some of the most vicious attacks. It was not enough merely to take a statue down; the demon within it had to be humiliated, disgraced, tortured, dismembered and thus neutralized. A Jewish tractate known as the Avodah Zarah provided detailed instructions on how to properly mistreat a statue. One can desecrate a statue, it advised, by 'cutting off the tip of its ear or nose or finger, by battering it — even although its bulk be not diminished — it is desecrated'. Merely taking the statue down, or spitting at it, or dragging it about, or throwing dirt upon it, was not, the treatise warned, sufficient — though the resourceful Christian might indulge in all of these as an added humiliation to the demon within.32

Sometimes, as was the case with the bust of Aphrodite in Athens, the statues appear to have been 'baptized', with deep crosses gouged on their foreheads. If this was a 'baptism' then it may have helped not only to neutralize the devil within, but also to vanquish any more personal demons that could arise when looking at such beautiful naked figures. A naked statue of Aphrodite was, wrote one Christian historian in disgust, 'more shameless than that of any prostitute standing in front of a brothel'33 — and, like a prostitute, Aphrodite and her plump bottom and naked breasts might incite the demon of lust in the viewer. Far less easy to feel desire for a statue who has had a cross gouged in her head, her eyes blinded and her nose sliced from her face. Erotically appealing statues suffered more than chastely clothed ones. We can still see the consequences of this rhetoric. Today, a once-handsome Apollo missing a nose stands in this museum; a statue of Venus that stood in a bathhouse has had her nipples and mons pubis chiselled away; a statue of Dionysus has had his nose mutilated and his genitalia removed.

32. Avodah Zarah 4:5, tr. Elmslie, quoted in Trombley (2008), 156–7.
33. Theodoret Ellen, Treatment of Greek Diseases, 3.79, tr. Gazda 1981 in Kristensen (2013), 224.
In note 33, "Theodoret Ellen" makes no sense to me. Perhaps read simply Theodoret or Theodoret of Cyrus. References in the notes are to:
"Statue of Aphrodite from the Faustina Baths at Miletos with mutilated breasts and pubic area. Archaeological Museum, Istanbul: Photo Author," from John Pollini, "The Archaeology of Destruction: Christians, Images of Classical Antiquity, and Some Problems of Interpretation," in The Archaeology of Violence: Interdisciplinary Approaches, ed. Sarah Ralph (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2012), pp. 241-267 (figure 13.13 on p. 262):



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