Category Archives: Latin Literature

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Chicken (Pliny, Ep. 7.21)

(Note: a general bibliography for this and my other Pliniana will soon be uploaded and linked, and this note removed.)     Pliny’s Epistle 7.21 seems trivial at first. It is short enough to quote in full:(1) C. Plinius Cornuto suo s. … Continue reading

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“We’ve Made It Legal, but We Can’t Make It Right” (Martial 5.75)

    Any problems in this little poem are exegetical – there are no significant variants: Quae legis causa nupsit tibi Laelia, Quinte,     uxorem potes hanc dicere legitimam. As a punch-line, the pentameter, particularly the last word, seems rather flat. I suspect … Continue reading

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A Different Kind of Astronomical Conjunction (Pliny, Ep. 1.3.1)

    Pliny opens the third letter of his collection, to Caninius Rufus, with a series of questions about the latter’s luxurious villa in Comum – I mark the clauses I am most interested in (1.3.1):(1) Quid agit Comum, tuae meaeque deliciae? … Continue reading

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Female Turpitude Meets Male Torpitude (Catullus 11.18)

    Daniél Kiss’s Catullus Online: An Online Repertory of Conjectures on Catullus is a wonderful resource, which I have found complete and accurate in whatever I have checked, but rather depressing viewed at length. Only six of the sixty-eight lines in … Continue reading

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A Dumb Question about Animals (Pliny, Ep. 1.20.5)

    In the course of a long discussion of rhetoric addressed to Tacitus, Pliny argues that size matters in judging orations, with an extended analogy from living creatures (Epistulae 1.20.4-5):(1) Et hercule ut aliae bonae res ita bonus liber melior est … Continue reading

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Casaubon – and Cicero?

At Laudator Temporis Acti, Michael Gilleland quotes a witticism of Casaubon. It looks to me like a far more succinct variation on a story Cicero tells in his De Legibus – or rather has his character Atticus tell, since it’s … Continue reading

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Curculio 6: Two Adjectives in Seneca’s Agamemnon

How’s that for a boring title? As a continuation of my experiment with publishing original scholarship on this site, I have just uploaded an eight-page PDF containing two conjectures on the text of Seneca’s Agamemnon, titled as above (link). (I … Continue reading

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Announcement: Juvenal Reformatted

Some time between 1998 and 2000 – I really should have kept better records – I uploaded a complete on-line text of Juvenal’s Satires, with brief apparatus criticus and some original conjectures. Though it has not been updated since (I … Continue reading

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Best Match of Editor’s Name and Subject?

I’m torn between the Kiss Catullus – the online Catullus edited by Daniel Kiss (link) – and the Hankey Othello (link). Can anyone think of a third? Possibly the worst match between performer and subject (onomastically, I mean – he … Continue reading

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Curculio 1: Silius Italicus: Why Seventeen Books?

The unusual length of Silius Italicus’ Punica has often caused puzzlement. Antony Augoustakis discusses the point in the first chapter of the recent Brill companion to Silius. He credits Michael von Albrecht with noting that the number of books “corresponds … Continue reading

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Too Bad About the Gender

I love puns, even (or especially) the unintentional and bilingual kind. Browsing Cicero’s Verrines recently, I was very glad to run across a ‘most experienced and hardworking ploughman’ (experientissimus ac diligentissimus arator) named ‘Nympho’ (2.3.53-54).

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Truer Today, But Already True Then

Dicaearchus, that great and prolific Peripatetic, wrote a work called On the Extinction of Human Life. Having assembled the other causes – floods, epidemics, ravages of nature, sudden invasions by hordes of wild beasts, the onset of which he demonstrates … Continue reading

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When Bad Things Happen to Good Databases

From the site of a bookseller whose name (and URL) I will kindly omit: Cicero was a primate, and letters are no doubt symbols as well as collections of symbols, and Cicero’s letters are a “particularly highly-developed form of primate … Continue reading

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Pedantry Pedantically Denounced

On a Latin play about Richard III by the master of Caius College, Cambridge (1579): . . . Legge’s was a poverty-stricken mind; his Latin versification might crimson the cheek of a preparatory schoolboy, and but for the sad fact … Continue reading

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Getting More Than I Paid For

Elaine Fantham’s new translation of Seneca: Selected Letters (Oxford World Classics, 2010) is described on the back cover as “the largest selection of Seneca’s letters currently available” (in translation, that is). The Note on the Text (xxxv-xxxvi) is more specific: … Continue reading

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A 2000th Anniversary, And I Almost Missed It

Ovid was born on March 20th, 43 B.C., and exiled to Tomis (now Constanza, on the coast of Romania) in A.D. 8. There he wrote five books of Tristia and four of Epistulae ex Ponto, lamenting his fate at great … Continue reading

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Hume on the Roman Poets

Ovid and Lucretius are almost as licentious in their style as Lord Rochester, though the former were fine gentlemen and delicate writers, and the latter, from the corruptions of that court in which he lived, seems to have thrown off … Continue reading

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A Missed Opportunity for Aesthetic Synergy

The American Shakespeare Center is currently doing four plays in rotation at the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton: I Henry IV, Merry Wives of Windsor, Much Ado About Nothing, and Titus Andronicus. All are delightful in their different ways. Unfortunately, Titus … Continue reading

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Horace Kippled

D. A. West, in Horace Odes I: Carpe Diem, Oxford 1995, 6-7: In Horace the tone is often elusive. Perhaps the nearest thing in English is the parody [of Odes 1.1] by Kipling in ‘A Diversity of Creatures’: There are … Continue reading

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Does This Count?

Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti, collects examples of asyndetic, privative adjectives. Here is a possible bilingual example from the Younger Pliny (Epistulae 2.3.8), writing of those who can’t be bothered to go see the orator Isaeus: Aphilókalon inlitteratum iners ac … Continue reading

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