In the funeral games in Aeneid V, which we read in English — none of it is in the AP selections — all five of the participants in the foot-race are given prizes (340-61). Vergilians will recall that Euryalus, Helymus, and Diores take first, second, and third place, but Salius is given a consolation-prize because he was in first place before Nisus tripped him, and Nisus is then given a consolation-prize because he was in first place until he slipped on some blood and cow-dung and fell down, after which he tripped Salius to help his lover Euryalus. As one of my students (call him ‘M.C.’) put it, Aeneas “is like some YMCA guy, giving prizes to everybody, even the losers”.
Tuesday: March 21, 2006
Wednesday: March 1, 2006
Terry Teachout quotes some words of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., on his 90th birthday:
And so I end with a line from a Latin poet who uttered the message more than fifteen hundred years ago:
“Death plucks my ear and says, Live—I am coming.”
I thought it was odd that Holmes did not name the Latin poet, but it turns out that he is anonymous, or at least pseudonymous. The quoted words are a very close translation of the last line of Pseudo-Vergil’s Copa (”The Barmaid”), on-line here:
Mors aurem vellens «vivite» ait, «venio».
Holmes obviously knows that this is Pseudo-Vergil, since the original Vergil had been dead for 1950 years when he spoke. Of course, his 1500 years is just a very rough guess, and von Albrecht’s History of Roman Literature (to look no further) puts the Copa in the Augustan age.
Sunday: November 20, 2005
If I’m not mistaken, the “gloriously accoutred warrior”* Chloreus who inadvertently lures Camilla to her death in Book XI is the first character in the Aeneid who is wearing any pants: of his many colorful garments, the last mentioned is barbara tegmina crurum (11.777). He is probably the last, too, though I have another book to go in my current (re)reading of the Aeneid. A peek in the OCT index tells me that Chloreus is killed off in 12.363, where he shares a single line with two nonentities, Sybaris and Thersilochus, along with Dares, presumably the loser of the boxing-match in Book V. At least he and Dares get single-word death-notices, if not full-scale obituaries: in the Iliad, Nireus, the handsomest of all the Greeks at Troy after Achilles, is never mentioned after his five lines in the Catalogue of Ships (2.671-75).
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*The description is from R. D. Williams, ad loc.
Saturday: October 15, 2005
Today is not only the 2,074th birthday of Publius Vergilius Maro and the feast of St. Teresa of Ávila, it is also the feast of
Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky (1831-1906), Episcopalian bishop of Shanghai, a dedicated missionary who translated the Bible into several Chinese dialects, which over many years he typed with the one finger that had not been paralysed by a stroke. Some Anglican communities have, unofficially, made him patron of the Internet.
(B. Blackburn and L. Holford-Strevens, The Oxford Companion to the Year, 1999, ad diem)