Category Archives: Latin Literature

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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Pedantic Joke/Riddle

What are the two (2) ingredients in a Hirtius salad, and why do I call it that? If it helps (it probably won’t) I just had one with a can of kippered herring and some crackers.

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Ovid’s Birthday

Publius Ovidius Naso is 2050 today. The vernal equinox seems a suitably Ovidian date. Though the specific date is (so far as I know) unknown, this year is also the 2000th anniversary of his banishment to Tomis: I wonder if … Continue reading

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Pamphlet: Androclus and the Lion

I have been experimenting with making pamphlets for Latin and Greek texts that are too short to fill a whole book. The first one finished is a teaching text of Androclus and the Lion, which I used with my Latin … Continue reading

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Aphorism Of The Day

A sure sign of a good book is that the older we grow the more we like it. A youth of 18 who wanted and above all could say what he felt would say of Tacitus something like the following: … Continue reading

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An Unlikely Source

Facts about the ancient world, even when mentioned in ancient texts, are not always found in the texts we would think of consulting first, or second, or at all. In his commentary on Martial I, Peter Howell refers (205) to … Continue reading

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Seneca Commentaries

I’ve updated the list of twentieth-century commentaries and other works on Seneca’s Epistulae Morales (link on the left) with four or five recent works. It’s a busy field, though there are still three dozen letters in which the reader is … Continue reading

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Fielding Translates Silius

Silius Italicus doesn’t have much of a Nachleben, but here’s a translation of Punica 2.217-221 from The Complete Works of Henry Fielding, Esq., edited by James P. Browne (London, 1903), Volume XI, page 155:             A Simile from Silius Italicus Aut … Continue reading

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Worst Classical Typos

Here are my nominations: 1. In a Greek text: In Volume I of R. D. Dawe’s Teubner Sophocles (1975), the first word of Oedipus Tyrannus is misspelled. The fact that it’s a one-letter word is particularly impressive:  τέκνα Κάδμου … Continue reading

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Things That Warm My Cold, Cold Heart

Misreading two lines in a Chicagoboyz post, a review of a book on the fall of the Roman Empire. They give the table of contents, which includes these lines:       1. Romans 3       2. Barbarians 46 I couldn’t help reading that … Continue reading

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Scholastic Humor

In Martial: Select Epigrams (Cambridge ‘green and gold’, 2003), Lindsay and Patricia Watson include 4.87 (71 in their numeration): Infantem secum semper tua Bassa, Fabulle,     conlocat et lusus deliciasque uocat, et, quo mireris magis, infantaria non est.     ergo quid in … Continue reading

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