Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Klearchos of Methydrion
(1) Theopompus [Fragmente der griechischen Historiker II 1B F344] told a similar story, that a man from Magnesia in Asia came to Delphi: he was very rich and owned many cattle. It was his custom to make, every year, many splendid sacrifices to the gods, both because of his abundance of resources, and because of piety and wanting to please the gods. (2) This being his attitude to the divine power, he came to Delphi, and having brought a hecatomb to the god and honoured Apollo splendidly, he went to the shrine to consult the oracle. Thinking that he worshipped the gods better than anyone, he asked the Pythia to declare who honoured the divine power best and most zealously and who made the most acceptable sacrifices, expecting that the first place would be given to him. But the priestess replied that the man who best worshipped the gods was Klearchos, who lived in Methydrion in Arcadia. (3) The Magnesian was astounded, and wanted to see this man and to find out from him how he offered sacrifices. He soon reached Methydrion, and at first despised it because the place was small and humble in size, reckoning that even the community itself, let alone one of its private citizens, could not honour the gods better or more splendidly than he could. Nevertheless he met the man and asked him to explain in what way he honoured the gods. (4) Klearchos said that he made offerings and sacrificed with care at the proper times: every month at the new moon he garlanded and polished Hermes and Hekate and the other sacred objects that his ancestors had left, and honoured them with incense and ground grain and cakes. (5) Every year he took part in the public sacrifices, omitting no festival, and in those sacrifices he worshipped the gods not by sacrificing cattle or cutting up victims, but by offering what he had available. He was, however, careful to assign to the gods first-fruits of every crop that grew and of fruits of the earth in their season, giving some as offerings and consecrating some; but he kept to his self-sufficiency and did not sacrifice cattle.Related post: The Widow's Mite.
(1) τὰ παραπλήσια δὲ καὶ Θεόπομπος ἱστόρηκεν, εἰς Δελφοὺς ἀφικέσθαι ἄνδρα Μάγνητα ἐκ τῆς ᾽Ασίας φάμενος, πλούσιον σφόδρα, κεκτημένον συχνὰ βοσκήματα. τοῦτον δ᾽ εἰθίσθαι τοῖς θεοῖς καθ᾽ ἕκαστον ἐνιαυτὸν θυσίας ποιεῖσθαι πολλὰς καὶ μεγαλοπρεπεῖς, τὰ μὲν δι᾽ εὐπορίαν τῶν ὑπαρχόντων, τὰ δὲ δι᾽ εὐσέβειαν καὶ τὸ βούλεσθαι τοῖς θεοῖς ἀρέσκειν. (2) οὕτω δὲ διακείμενον πρὸς τὸ δαιμόνιον ἐλθεῖν εἰς Δελφούς, πομπεύσαντα δὲ ἑκατόμβην τῶι θεῶι καὶ τιμήσαντα μεγαλοπρεπῶς τὸν ᾽Απόλλωνα παρελθεῖν εἰς τὸ μαντεῖον χρηστηριασόμενον. οἰόμενον δὲ κάλλιστα πάντων ἀνθρώπων θεραπεύειν τοὺς θεοὺς ἐρέσθαι τὴν Πυθίαν τὸν ἄριστα καὶ προθυμότατα τὸ δαιμόνιον γεραίροντα θεσπίσαι καὶ τὸν ποιοῦντα τὰς θυσίας προσφιλεστάτας, ὑπολαμβάνοντα δοθήσεσθαι αὑτῶι τὸ πρωτεῖον. τὴν δὲ ἱέρειαν ἀποκρίνασθαι πάντων ἄριστα θεραπεύειν τοὺς θεοὺς Κλέαρχον κατοικοῦντα ἐν Μεθυδρίωι τῆς ᾽Αρκαδίας. (3) τὸν δ᾽ ἐκπλαγέντα ἐκτόπως ἐπιθυμῆσαι τὸν ἄνθρωπον ἰδεῖν καὶ ἐντυχόντα μαθεῖν, τίνα τρόπον τὰς θυσίας ἐπιτελεῖ. ἀφικομένου οὖν ταχέως εἰς τὸ Μεθύδριον πρῶτον μὲν καταφρονῆσαι μικροῦ καὶ ταπεινοῦ ὄντος τὸ μέγεθος τοῦ χωρίου, ἡγούμενον οὐχ ὅπως ἄν τινα τῶν ἰδιωτῶν, ἀλλ᾽ οὐδ᾽ ἂν αὐτὴν τὴν πόλιν δύνασθαι μεγαλοπρεπέστερον αὑτοῦ καὶ κάλλιον τιμῆσαι τοὺς θεούς. ὅμως δ᾽ οὖν συντυχόντα τῶι ἀνδρὶ ἀξιῶσαι φράσαι αὐτῶι, ὅντινα τρόπον τοὺς θεοὺς τιμᾶι. (4) τὸν δὲ Κλέαρχον φάναι ἐπιτελεῖν καὶ σπουδαίως θύειν ἐν τοῖς προσήκουσι χρόνοις, κατὰ μῆνα ἕκαστον ταῖς νουμηνίαις στεφανοῦντα καὶ φαιδρύνοντα τὸν ῾Ερμῆν καὶ τὴν ῾Εκάτην καὶ τὰ λοιπὰ τῶν ἱερῶν, ἃ δὴ τοὺς προγόνους καταλιπεῖν, καὶ τιμᾶν λιβανωτοῖς καὶ ψαιστοῖς καὶ ποπάνοις· (5) κατ᾽ ἐνιαυτὸν δὲ θυσίας δημοτελεῖς ποιεῖσθαι, παραλείποντα οὐδεμίαν ἑορτήν· ἐν αὐταῖς δὲ ταύταις θεραπεύειν τοὺς θεοὺς οὐ βουθυτοῦντα οὐδὲ ἱερεῖα κατακόπτοντα, ἀλλ᾽ ὅτι ἄν παρατύχηι ἐπιθύοντα, σπουδάζειν μέντοι ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν περιγιγνομένων καρπῶν καὶ τῶν ὡραίων, ἃ ἐκ τῆς γῆς λαμβάνεται, τοῖς θεοῖς τὰς ἀπαρχὰς ἀπονέμειν· καὶ τὰ μὲν παρατιθέναι, τὰ δὲ καθαγίζειν αὐτοῖς· αὐτὸν δὲ τῆι αὐταρκείαι προσεσχηκότα τὸ θῦσαι βοῦς προεῖσθαι.
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
An Unmitigated Evil
For we must acknowledge that when Hesiod winds up his introduction with the order to his brother to tuck up his tunic and start digging, he was proposing something which no Greek (I would almost say, no human being) ever did if he could help it, ever looked on as anything but an unmitigated evil.13 Hesiod repeats the horrid notion four times in one line (v.382), and a lingering, spondaic one at that, so that there can be no doubt about it.
ὧδ᾽ ἔρδειν, καὶ ἔργον ἐπ᾽ ἔργῳ ἐργάζεσθαι.When he says "work," he means "labor," and our traditional translation of the title should not blind us to it. This is labor as it appears in Old Man River, or in the folk-song of the English farmer digging his turnips in the sleet and rain. Unpleasant and undignified, unintellectual and little rewarding. It may be a way to a poor livelihood, but never to riches. If Hesiod's brother had really wanted wealth and had had the sense he was born with, he would not have taken this advice.
13 For ancient attitudes toward labor, cf P. Waltz, "Les Artisans et leur vie en Grèce," RevHist 117 (1914) 5-41. Self-sacrificing toil for others is a Christian notion (Schmid/Stählin [supra n.1] 277 n.7), as is the idea of doing things unpleasant for the good of one's soul (laborare est orare). Voluntary, amateur, light gardening is, of course, quite a different thing.
Thus Homer Lives On
It is a kind of ferment which is created by reason of the fact that for a Greek every event, no matter how stale, is always unique. He is always doing the same thing for the first time: he is curious, avidly curious, and experimental. He experiments for the sake of experimenting, not to establish a better or more efficient way of doing things. He likes to do things with his hands, with his whole body, with his soul, I might as well say. Thus Homer lives on. Though I've never read a line of Homer I believe the Greek of to-day is essentially unchanged. If anything he is more Greek than he ever was.
Monday, March 27, 2017
He could be obstinate enough when it so pleased him, and had before now gone so far as to tell his wife that her thrice-noble sister-in-law might remain at home at Courcy Castle—or, at any rate, not come to Greshamsbury—if she could not do so without striving to rule him and everyone else when she got there. This had of course been repeated to the countess, who had merely replied to it by a sisterly whisper, in which she sorrowfully intimated that some men were born brutes, and always would remain so.Hat tip: Mrs. Laudator.
"I think they all are," the Lady Arabella had replied...
Epitaph of Diogenes
[χαῖρ]ε, Διοδώρου Δι[όγε]νες, φὺς δίκαιος καὶ εὐσεβής.My translation:
[ε]ἰ θεός ἐσθ' ἡ γῆ, κἀγὼ θεός εἰμι δικαίως·
ἐκ γῆς γὰρ βλαστὼν γενόμην νεκρός, ἐκ δὲ νεκροῦ γῆ.
Hail, Diogenes, son of Diodorus. You were just and pious.Both Ziebarth and Peek are unavailable to me. I think that in line 1, Ziebarth supplied [κοῦρ]ε, Peek [χαῖρ]ε. I do have access to Werner Peek, Griechische Grabgedichte. Griechisch und Deutsch (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1966), where the Greek (without brackets or apparatus) appears on p. 144 (number 220), and Peek's German translation on p. 145:
— If the earth is a god, I too am rightly a god;
for, sprung from earth, I became a corpse, and from a corpse, earth.
Gruß dir, Diogenes, Diodors Sohn. Rechtlich warst du und fromm. —Wenn die Erde eine Gottheit ist, so heiße mit Recht auch ich eine Gottheit. Denn der Erde entsprossen, bin ich ein Leichnam geworden und aus dem Leichnam wieder Erde. — Diogenes.There are two speakers — the passerby or visitor to the grave in line 1, the dead man in lines 2-3. Earth was a goddess in ancient Greece.
Related post: Earth to Earth, Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust.
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Either Dead or Teaching School
59 Aut mortuus est aut docet litterasThe Latin:
He must be either dead or teaching school
Ἤτοι τέθνηκεν ἢ διδάσκει γράμματα, He must be either dead or teaching school. An iambic line current as a proverb, and used in old days to convey that a man was in great misfortune, though it was not clear what he was doing. This passed into common speech, as Zenodotus tells us, on the following occasion. The Athenians, under command of Nicias, had on one occasion fought and lost a battle against the Sicilians; they suffered heavy casualties, and many prisoners were taken and carried off to Sicily, where they were compelled to teach Sicilian children their elements. And so the few who escaped and returned to Athens, when asked what so-and-so was doing in Sicily, used to reply with the line I have quoted above: 'He must be either dead or teaching school.'
59 Taken from Zenobius ('Zenodotus') 4.17. Thought to be a line from comedy (frag. adesp. 20 Kock). Zen. Ath. 1.43
Ἤτοι τέθνηκεν ἢ διδάσκει γράμματα, id est Aut periit aut profecto literas docet. Senarius prouerbialis, quo significabant olim cuipiam omnino male esse, tametsi parum liqueret, quid rerum ageret. Is autem hac occasione venit in vulgi sermonem autore Zenodoto. Athenienses duce Nicia parum feliciter aliquando pugnauerunt aduersus Siculos permultis occisis, plerisque captiuis in Siciliam abductis, qui Siculorum filios literas docere coacti sunt. Proinde pauci, qui fuga elapsi redierant Athenas, rogati quid hic aut ille faceret in Sicilia, modo memorato versiculo respondebant: Aut periit aut docet literas.
Saturday, March 25, 2017
The Temptation of Faith
If from time to time we are tempted by faith, it is because faith proposes an alternative humiliation: it is, after all, preferable to find oneself in a position of inferiority before a god than before a hominid.
Si de temps en temps on est tenté par la foi, c’est parce qu'elle propose une humiliation de rechange: il est tout de même préférable de se trouver en position d'infériorité devant un dieu que devant un hominien.
Take Nothing Seriously
So he took me aside, and after he had led me a good way apart from the others, he bent his head slightly toward my ear and said: "The life of the common sort is best, and you will act more wisely if you stop speculating about heavenly bodies and discussing final causes and first causes, spit your scorn at those clever syllogisms, and counting all that sort of thing nonsense, make it always your sole object to put the present to good use and to hasten on your way, laughing a great deal and taking nothing seriously."
ὁ δὲ δή με ἀπαγαγὼν καὶ πολὺ τῶν ἄλλων ἀποσπάσας ἤρεμα προσκύψας πρὸς τὸ οὖς φησίν, "ὁ τῶν ἰδιωτῶν ἄριστος βίος, καὶ σωφρονέστερος παυσάμενος τοῦ μετεωρολογεῖν καὶ τέλη καὶ ἀρχὰς ἐπισκοπεῖν καὶ καταπτύσας τῶν σοφῶν τούτων συλλογισμῶν καὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα λῆρον ἡγησάμενος τοῦτο μόνον ἐξ ἅπαντος θηράσῃ, ὅπως τὸ παρὸν εὖ θέμενος παραδράμῃς γελῶν τὰ πολλὰ καὶ περὶ μηδὲν ἐσπουδακώς."
Thanks to Eric Thomson for drawing my attention to David Hume (1711-1776), A Treatise of Human Nature and An Enquiry concerning Human Nature, Book 1, Section 7:
 But what have I here said, that reflections very refined and metaphysical have little or no influence upon us? This opinion I can scarce forbear retracting, and condemning from my present feeling and experience. The intense view of these manifold contradictions and imperfections in human reason has so wrought upon me, and heated my brain, that I am ready to reject all belief and reasoning, and can look upon no opinion even as more probable or likely than another. Where am I, or what? From what causes do I derive my existence, and to what condition shall I return? Whose favour shall I court, and whose anger must I dread? What beings surround me? and on whom have, I any influence, or who have any influence on me? I am confounded with all these questions, and begin to fancy myself in the most deplorable condition imaginable, invironed with the deepest darkness, and utterly deprived of the use of every member and faculty.
 Most fortunately it happens, that since reason is incapable of dispelling these clouds, nature herself suffices to that purpose, and cures me of this philosophical melancholy and delirium, either by relaxing this bent of mind, or by some avocation, and lively impression of my senses, which obliterate all these chimeras. I dine, I play a game of backgammon, I converse, and am merry with my friends; and when after three or four hours' amusement, I would return to these speculations, they appear so cold, and strained, and ridiculous, that I cannot find in my heart to enter into them any farther.
Friday, March 24, 2017
46 Surdo oppedereThe Latin:
To break wind in front of a deaf man
Παρὰ κωφῷ ἀποπαρδεῖν, To break wind in the presence of the deaf, is said when an action is useless, or when some fault is committed against stupid people who cannot perceive it, or reproaches are heaped on a person who takes no notice, just as if he had not heard. It is mentioned by Diogenianus and Suidas.
46 Taken, as Erasmus tells us, from the Greek proverb-collections, Diogenianus 7.43 and Suidas Π 371.
Παρὰ κωφῷ ἀποπαρδεῖν, id est Apud surdum crepitum aedere, dicitur vbi quid frustra fit aut vbi peccatur apud stupidos, qui non queant sentire. Siue cum conuiciis incessitur is, qui perinde negligit, quasi non audiat. Refertur a Diogeniano et a Suida.Cf. also Photius Π 251, Hesychius Π 563, Apostolius 13.99, Macarius 6.89, and J. Fr. Boissonade, ed., Anecdota Graeca, Vol. I (Paris, 1829), p. 396. All these additional references are from Photii Patriarchae Lexicon, ed. Christos Theodoridis, Vol. III: Ν-Φ (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2013), p. 162 (Π 251 = παρὰ κωφὸν ἀποπέρδειν).
Dear Michael Gilleland,
Margaret Mann Philips’ translation of “surdo oppedere” as “to break wind in front of a deaf man” seems to me somewhat over-delicate. Oppedere is in fact to fart at somebody as a way of expressing derision, mockery, contempt, opposition; it is to fart in somebody’s face, as it were. At the beginning of Jonson’s The Alchemist, when Subtle tells Face, “I fart at thee!” it is a calque of the Latin oppedo tibi (Greek: καταπέρδω σου). Jonson was familiar with John Baret’s An Aluearie or Triple Dictionarie, in Englishe, Latin, and French (1574), where oppedo is defined: “To fart against one: and metaphorice, to denie with a lowde voice.” A historical example of this would be the "Great Parliament Fart" of 4 March 1607, when Henry Ludlow, the member for Ludgershall, Wiltshire, loudly broke wind (oppepedit) in response to Sir John Croke’s message from the Lords during a debate on the naturalisation of the Scots. Similar to oppedere, the Greek ἀποπαρδεῖν generally implies volition (deliberately farting, as opposed to πέρδω = crepitat mihi venter), as well as direction (farting toward or at somebody or something), and so παρὰ κωφῷ ἀποπαρδεῖν/Apud surdum crepitum aedere would more properly be translated “to let fly with a fart in a deaf man’s house” than “to break wind in the presence of the deaf.” The verb oppedere is not infrequent in the works of Erasmus, e.g. in the letter to Grunnius: “Atqui quum istorum status omnis Romanorum Pontificum auctoritate nitatur, cur illi quoties libuit strenue oppedunt?” (And yet, since their [i.e. the monks’] entire condition rests on the authority of the Roman pontiffs, why do they fart against it so vigorously and so relentlessly?).
Alistair Ian Blyth
Labels: noctes scatologicae
Ah, yes! Time has returned: Time now governs like a sovereign: and with that hideous old greybeard has returned the whole demoniacal rout of Memories, Regrets, Fits, Fears, Anguishes, Nightmares, Angers, and Neuroses.
I assure you that the Seconds are now strongly and solemnly stressed, and that each one as it jumps from the clock, says: 'I am Life, unbearable, unrelenting Life!'
There is only one Second in human existence whose mission it is to announce good news, the good news, which arouses an inexplicable fear in every man.
Yes, Time reigns, he has resumed his bullying dictatorship. And he drives me on, as if I were a bullock, with his double goad — 'Along with you, you old hack! Sweat, you slave! Live, though you are damned!'
Oh! oui! Le Temps a reparu; Le Temps règne en souverain maintenant; et avec le hideux vieillard est revenu tout son démoniaque cortége de Souvenirs, de Regrets, de Spasmes, de Peurs, d'Angoisses, de Cauchemars, de Colères et de Névroses.
Je vous assure que les secondes maintenant sont fortement et solennellement accentuées, et chacune, en jaillissant de la pendule, dit: — «Je suis la Vie, l'insupportable, l'implacable Vie!»
Il n'y a qu'une Seconde dans la vie humaine qui ait mission d'annoncer une bonne nouvelle, la bonne nouvelle qui cause à chacun une inexplicable peur.
Oui! le Temps règne; il a repris sa brutale dictature. Et il me pousse, comme si j’étais un boeuf, avec son double aiguillon. — «Et hue donc! bourrique! Sue donc, esclave! Vis donc, damné!»
An Enviable Destiny
Lucretius: we know nothing specific about his life. Specific? Not even vague. An enviable destiny.Related posts:
Lucrèce: on ne sait sur sa vie rien de précis. De précis? même pas de vague. Un destin enviable.
Slavery and Freedom
White men like to dig in the ground for their food. My people prefer to hunt the buffalo as their fathers did. White men like to stay in one place. My people want to move their tepees here and there to different hunting grounds. The life of white men is slavery. They are prisoners in towns or farms. The life my people want is freedom. I have seen nothing that a white man has, houses or railways or clothing or food, that is as good as the right to move in the open country and live in our own fashion.23
23. James Creelman, On the Great Highway: The Wanderings and Adventures of a Special Correspondent (Boston: Lothrop Publishing Co., 1901), 301.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
A Crappy Family
I particularly like the family whose father was called Stercorius and whose daughters were Stercoria and Stercorilla (No. 9).Here is the inscription (Feissel, p. 31):
Παραμόνα τῷ γλ̣[υ]-
καὶ τὰ τέκνα αὐτοῦ
Στερκορία καὶ Στερ-
κορίλλα καὶ Ἐπινί-
κις καὶ Κερβίων
χάριν· ζήσῃς ἐν θεῷ.
Paramona to her most sweet husband, and his children Sterkoria and Sterkorilla and Epinikis and Kerbiōn to Sterkorios in memoriam. May you live in God!Related posts:
From Eric Thomson:
On the subject of crappy names, don’t forget that eminent Kapellmeister in the chapel-of-ease, Samuel Scheidt (pronounced Shite). I'm quite good at recognizing composers on the radio but have never had the pleasure of declaring "That's definitely a piece of Scheidt". That would be schützpah.
Labels: noctes scatologicae
I would be ready enough to labour for changes in a government that I disliked could I hope to effect them by myself alone. But when I remember that I must combine with others, and for the most part with fools or knaves, who neither know how to be silent nor how to act, nothing disgusts me more than to think of changes.
Io sarei pronto a cercare le mutazione degli Stati che non mi piacessino, se potessi sperare mutargli da me solo; ma quando mi ricordo che bisogna fare compagnia con altri, e el piú delle volte con pazzi e con maligni, e quali né sanno tacere, né sanno fare, non è cosa che io aborrisca piú che el pensare a questo.
Love of Neighbor
To love one's neighbor is inconceivable. Does one ask a virus to love another virus?
Aimer son prochain est chose inconcevable. Est-ce qu'on demande à un virus d'aimer un autre virus?
Talking Rashly and Without Foresight
72 Quicquid in buccam veneritThe Latin:
Whatever came into his mouth
Whatever came into his mouth. Used whenever we speak of people talking freely and in security, without premeditation, saying whatever comes into their heads. This is what we do in the company of our loyal friends, with whom we can joke and that with confidence. Cicero to Atticus, book 14: 'If there is nothing special, write to me whatever comes into your mouth.' Again in book 12, 'When we are together, and chatter away with whatever comes into our mouths.' This is applicable to those who talk rashly and without forethought, just as if their words were born not in their hearts but in their throats.
72 Taken, it seems, directly from Cicero Ad Atticum 14.7.2; 12.1.2. Otto 273 gives many more examples from Greek as well as Latin. We are more likely to say 'whatever comes into our heads.'
Quicquid in buccam venerit. Quoties libere quospiam ac tuto loqui significamus, incircumspecte et quicquid forte fortuna in animum inciderit. Quemadmodum apud fidos amiculosfacere solemus, apud quos impune quiduis nugamur atque effutimus. M. Tullius ad Atticum libro decimoquarto: Aut si nihil erit, quod in buccam venerit scribes. Idem libro duodecimo: Quid cum coram sumus et garrimus quicquid in buccam venit. Recte torquebitur et in eos, qui temere atque inconsiderate loquuntur, perinde quasi sermo illis non in pectore nascatur, sed in faucibus.A. Otto, Die Sprichwörter und sprichwörtlichen Redensarten der Römer (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1890), p. 59:
I'm reminded of a schoolyard taunt from my childhood: "You have diarrhea of the mouth and constipation of the brain."