Wednesday: March 29, 2006
Palladas once more (A.P. 9.489):
Γραμματικοῦ θυγάτηρ ἔτεκεν φιλότητι μιγεῖσα
παιδίον ἀρσενικόν, θηλυκόν, οὐδέτερον.
A grammarian’s daughter, having known a man, gave birth to a child which was masculine, feminine, and neuter.
(translated by W. R. Paton)
Monday: March 27, 2006
Since Laudator Temporis Acti asks for more, here’s another epigram of Palladas. I teach high school, and my students occasionally read this weblog, so I won’t be able to print the one to which he alludes in his last line (A.P. 10.45). Here is 11.340 instead:
῎Ωμοσα μυριάκις ἐπιγράμματα μηκέτι ποιεῖν·
πολλῶν γὰρ μωρῶν ἔχθραν ἐπεσπασάμην.
ἀλλ᾿ ὁπόταν κατίδω τοῦ Παφλαγόνος τὸ πρόσωπον
Πανταγάθου, στέξαι τὴν νόσον οὐ δύναμαι.
I swore ten thousand times to make no more epigrams, for I had brought on my head the enmity of many fools, but when I set eyes on the face of the Paphlagonian Pantagathus I can’t repress the malady.
(translated by W. R. Paton)
El órgano del placer es la inteligencia.
The organ of pleasure is the intellect.
(Nicolás Gómez Dávila, Escolios a un Texto Implícito, 2.84)
Sunday: March 26, 2006
Another epigram of Palladas (A.P. 10.98):
Πᾶς τις ἀπαίδευτος φρονιμώτατός ἐστι σιωπῶν,
τὸν λόγον ἐγκρύπτων ὡς πάθος αἰσχρότατον.
Every uneducated man is wisest if he remains silent, hiding his speech like a disgraceful disease.
(translated by W. R. Paton)
Saturday: March 25, 2006
I’ve been mulling over the problem of displaying texts with facing translations on the web. It is not as easy as it should be to make it work with various combinations of browser, screen size, and font size.
For my latest attempt, click here. The idea is that the viewer should be able to read either the text and translation (by scrolling left) or the text and apparatus (by scrolling right), though only those with largish screens and smallish fonts will be able to see all three at once. Comments and criticism will be much appreciated. The translation is only a crib, and not a very good one at that, so please restrict your criticism to the formatting.
Those who found the last epigram a bit morbid may wish to skip the first of this matched pair:
“Posidippus, or Plato the Comic Poet” (A.P. 9.359):
Ποίην τις βιότοιο τάμῃ τρίβον; εἰν ἀγορῇ μὲν
νείκεα καὶ χαλεπαὶ πρήξιες· ἐν δὲ δόμοις
φροντίδες· ἐν δ᾿ ἀγροῖς καμάτων ἅλις· ἐν δὲ θαλάσσῃ
τάρβος· ἐπὶ ξείνης δ᾿, ἢν μὲν ἔχεις τι, δέος·
ἢν δ᾿ ἀπορῇς, ἀνιηρόν. ἔχεις γάμον; οὐκ ἀμέριμνος
ἔσσεαι· οὐ γαμέεις; ζῇς ἔτ᾿ ἐρημότερος·
τέκνα πόνοι, πήρωσις ἄπαις βίος· αἱ νεότητες
ἄφρονες, αἱ πολιαὶ δ᾿ ἔμπαλιν ἀδρανέες.
ἦν ἄρα τοῖν δισσοῖν ἐνὸς αἵρεσις, ἢ τὸ γενέσθαι
μηδέποτ᾿, ἢ τὸ θανεῖν αὐτίκα τικτόμενων.
What path of life should one pursue? In the market place are broils and business difficulties, and at home are anxieties; in the country there is too much labour, and at sea there is fear. In a foreign land there is apprehension if you possess anything, and if you are ill off, life is a burden. You are married? You won’t be without cares. You are unmarried? You live a still more lonely life. Children are a trouble, and a childless life is a crippled one. Youth is foolish, and old age again is feeble. There is then, it seems, a choice between two things, either not to be born or to die at once on being born.
Metrodorus (A.P. 9.360):
Παντοίην βιότοιο τάμοις τρίβον; εἰν ἀγορῇ μὲν
κύδεα καὶ πινυταὶ πρήξιες· ἐν δὲ δόμοις
ἄμπαυμ᾿· ἐν δ᾿ ἀγροῖς Φύσιος χάρις· ἐν δὲ θαλάσσῃ
κέρδος. ἐπὶ ξείνης δ᾿, ἢν μὲν ἔχεις τι, κλέος·
ἢν δ᾿ ἀπορῇς, μόνος οἶδας. ἔχεις γάμον; οἶκος ἄριστος
ἔσσεται· οὐ γαμέεις; ζῇς ἔτ᾿ ἐλαφρότερος.
τέκνα πόθος, ἄφροντις ἄπαις βίος· αἱ νεότητες
ῥωμαλέαι, πολιαὶ δ᾿ ἔμπαλιν εὐσεβέες.
οὐκ ἄρα τῶν δισσῶν ἐνὸς αἵρεσις, ἢ τὸ γενέσθαι
μηδέποτ᾿, ἢ τὸ θανεῖν· πάντα γὰρ ἐσθλὰ βίῳ.
Pursue every path of life. In the market place are honours and prudent dealings, at home rest; in the country the charm of nature, and at sea profit; in a foreign country, if you have any possessions, there is fame, and if you are in want no one knows it but yourself. Are you married? Your house will be the best of houses. Do you remain unmarried? Your life is yet lighter. Children are darlings; a childless life is free from care. Youth is strong, and old age again pious. Therefore there is no choice between two things, either not to be born or to die; for all in life is excellent.
(translations from W. R. Paton’s Loeb)
Friday: March 24, 2006
Another epigram of Palladas (A.P. 10.85):
Πάντες τῷ θανάτῳ τηρούμεθα καὶ τρεφόμεσθα,
ὡς ἀγέλη χοίρων σφαζομένων ἀλόγως.
We all are tended and fed for death, like a herd of pigs slaughtered at random.
Thursday: March 23, 2006
An epigram of Palladas (A.P. 15.20):
Σιγῶν παρέρχου τὸν ταλαίπωρον βίον,
αὐτὸν σιωπῇ τὸν χρόνον μιμούμενος·
λαθὼν δὲ καὶ βίωσον, εἰ δὲ μή, θανών.
Pass by this miserable life in silence, imitating by your silence Time himself. Live likewise unnoticed; or if not, you will be so in death.
(translated by W. R. Paton, with archaic forms updated)
Tuesday: March 21, 2006
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”.
Thursday: March 16, 2006
Callimachus XXXIV G-P (A.P. 7.80):
Εἰπέ τις, Ἡράκλειτε, τεὸν μόρον ἐς δέ με δάκρυ
ἤγαγεν ἐμνήσθην δ᾿ ὁσσάκις ἀμφότεροι
ἠέλιον λέσχῃ κατεδύσαμεν. ἀλλὰ σὺ μέν που,
ξεῖν᾿ Ἁλικαρνησεῦ, τετράπαλαι σποδιή,
αἱ δὲ τεαὶ ζώουσιν ἀηδόνες, ᾗσιν ὁ πάντων
ἁρπακτὴς Ἀίδης οὐκ ἐπὶ χεῖρα βαλεῖ.
Someone told me of your death, Heraclitus, and it moved me to tears, when I remembered how often the sun set on our talking. And you, my Halicarnassian friend, lie somewhere, gone long long ago to dust; but they live, your Nightingales, on which Hades who siezes all shall not lay his hand.
(translated by W. R. Paton, with archaic forms updated)
They told me, Heraclitus, they told me you were dead;
They brought me bitter news to hear and bitter tears to shed;
I wept, as I remembered, how often you and I
Had tired the sun with talking, and sent him down the sky.
And now that thou art lying, my dear old Carian guest,
A handful of grey ashes, long, long ago at rest,
Still are thy pleasant voices, thy nightingales, awake;
For Death, he taketh all away, but them he cannot take.
(“Heraclitus”, by William Johnson Cory, 1823-92)
Wednesday: March 15, 2006
Heraclitus of Halicarnassus I G-P:
Ἁ κόνις ἀρτίσκαπτος, ἐπὶ στάλας δὲ μετώπων
σείονται φύλλων ἡμιθαλεῖς στέφανοι.
γράμμα διακρίναντες, ὁδοιπόρε, πέτρον ἴδωμεν,
λευρὰ περιστέλλειν ὀστέα φατὶ τίνος.
῾ξεῖν᾿, Ἀρετημιάς εἰμι· πάτρα Κνίδος· Εὔφρονος ἦλθον
εἰς λέχος· ὠδίνων οὐκ ἄμορος γενόμαν,
δισσὰ δ᾿ ὁμοῦ τίκτουσα τὸ μὲν λίπον ἀνδρὶ ποδηγόν
γήρως, ἓν δ᾿ ἀπάγω μναμόσυνον πόσιος.᾿
The earth is newly dug and on the faces of the tomb-stone wave the half-withered garlands of leaves. Let us decipher the letters, wayfarer, and learn whose smooth bones the stone says it cover. “Stranger, I am Aretemias, my country Cnidus. I was the wife of Euphro and I did not escape travail, but bringing forth twins, I left one child to guide my husband’s steps in his old age, and I took the other with me to remind me of him.”
(A.P. 7.465, translated by W. R. Paton)
Sunday: March 5, 2006
Laudator Temporis Acti posts a tidbit from Rabelais about the disgusting habits of the Bonasos, or Paeonian ox, with an ancient parallel from the Elder Pliny. Here is what Pseudo-Aristotle has to say on the subject in chapter 1 of his delightful work De Mirabilibus Auscultationibus, “On Marvellous Things Heard”:
Men say that in Paeonia, on the mountain called Hesaenus, which forms the boundary between the Paeonian and Maedian districts, there is found a wild beast, which is called Bolinthos, but by the Paeonians is named Monaepos. They state that this in its general nature is similar to the ox, but surpasses it in size and strength, and moreover is distinguished from it by its mane; for like the horse it has a mane hanging down very thick from the neck, and from the crown of the head as far as its eyes. It has horns, not such as oxen have, but bent downwards, the tip being low down near the ears; and these severally contain more than three pints, and very black, and shine as though they were peeled; and when the hide is stripped off it occupies a space capable of containing eight couches. When the animal is struck with a weapon it flees, and only stops when it is quite exhausted. Its flesh has an agreeable taste. It defends itself by kicking, and voiding excrement over a distance of about twenty-four feet. It easily and frequently employs this kind of defence, and the excretion burns so severely that the hair of the dogs is scraped off. They say, however, that the excrement produces this effect only when the animal is disturbed, but when it is undisturbed it does not burn. When they bring forth young, assembling in large numbers and being all gathered closely together, the full-grown ones bring forth, and void excrement as a defence round their young; for the animal discharges a large quantity of this excretion.
And here is Aristotle (?) himself, in the History of Animals, 9.45:
The bison is found in Paeonia on Mount Messapium, which separates Paeonia from Maedica; and the Paeonians call it the monapos. It is the size of a bull, but stouter in build, and not long in the body; its skin, stretched tight on a frame, would give sitting room for seven people. In general it resembles the ox in appearance, except that it has a mane that reaches down to the point of the shoulder, as that of the horse reaches down to its withers; but the hair in its mane is softer than the hair in the horse’s mane, and clings more closely. The colour of the hair is brown-yellow; the mane reaches down to the eyes, and is deep and thick. The colour of the body is half red, half ashen-grey, like that of the so-called chestnut horse, but rougher. It has an undercoat of woolly hair. The animal is not found either very black or very red. It has the bellow of a bull. Its horns are crooked, turned inwards towards each other and useless for purposes of self-defence; they are a span broad, or a little more, and in volume each horn would hold about three pints of liquid; the black colour of the horn is beautiful and bright. The tuft of hair on the forehead reaches down to the eyes, so that the animal sees objects on either flank better than objects right in front. It has no upper teeth, as is the case also with kine and all other horned animals. Its legs are hairy; it is cloven-footed, and the tail, which resembles that of the ox, seems not big enough for the size of its body. It tosses up dust and scoops out the ground with its hooves, like the bull. Its skin is impervious to blows. Owing to the savour of its flesh it is sought for in the chase. When it is wounded it runs away, and stops only when thoroughly exhausted. It defends itself against an assailant by kicking and projecting its excrement to a distance of eight yards; this device it can easily adopt over and over again, and the excrement is so pungent that the hair of hunting-dogs is burnt off by it. It is only when the animal is disturbed or alarmed that the dung has this property; when the animal is undisturbed it has no blistering effect. So much for the shape and habits of the animal. When the season comes for parturition the mothers give birth to their young in troops upon the mountains. Before dropping their young they scatter their dung in all directions, making a kind of circular rampart around them; for the animal has the faculty of ejecting excrement in most extraordinary quantities.
Is Pseudo-Aristotle a common plagiarist? I don’t have the books to say, but it certainly looks that way. The translations are by (1) L. D. Dowdall, from The Complete Works of Aristotle, the revised Oxford translation, edited by Jonathan Barnes, Princeton, 1984, volume 2, page 1272, 830a5ff, and (2) D’Arcy W. Thomson, on-line here. Search for ‘45’ to find the chapter. If I’ve coordinated my ancient and modern maps correctly, the habitat of the Paeonian ox is the eastern third of FYROM, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
What LTA does not mention is that Pliny’s Bonasos — Pseudo-Aristotle’s Bolinthos — is surely the bovine known as the European Bison or Wisent, Bison bonasus. It is very similar to the American bison, Bison bison, with two exceptions:
- The European bison is big — up to nine feet long and a ton in weight — but not quite so big as the American.
- It is less oddly-proportioned than the American bison, its shoulders (relatively) not so huge, nor its buttocks so tiny.
The best source for information I’ve found on the web was compiled by Donald Patterson for a Geography class at San Francisco state: it also has the best picture, which I will copy here to avoid link-rot:
A Google search on “European bison” will lead to more information and pictures. The description fits tolerably well: the wisent is indeed bigger than an ox, with a mane and smallish smooth black horns. There doesn’t seem to be anything on the web about voiding excrement when frightened, but frightening a wisent would be difficult, and dangerous, even if it were not illegal to annoy endangered species, so I don’t suppose anyone has checked in the last century.
Here are the most interesting bits from Patterson’s timeline (with references omitted):
1915 – 785 lowland bison survive. World War I—German troops occupy the Bialowieza area and kill close to 600 bison for meat, hides and horns. A German scientist brings to the attention of army officers animals imminent extinction. Protection set up to try to maintain herds at about 200 animals. As war comes to an end, retreating German soldiers shoot all but 9 bison.
1919 - Last wild lowland bison shot by a poacher, Nikolaj Szpakowicz.
1923 – 54 bison survive in zoos and private holdings . . . .
Breeding in the Polish nature reserve at Bialowieza has increased the herd from 35 in 1960 to several hundred today. It’s interesting what can be known or not known in different times and places: the Caucasian subspecies wasn’t even discovered until the 1830s, but we know the name of the man who shot the last wild Lowland Bison in 1919. I hope Nikolaj Szpakowicz spent the rest of his life in jail.
An interesting question for casuits: If Szpakowicz knew he was shooting the last one, and did not know that others survived in zoos, does that make it worse, or might he have argued that the real criminal was whoever shot the last one of the other gender?
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.
Powered by WordPress