Sunday: April 30, 2006
The Rat wants a feminine equivalent of ‘avuncular’. That’s easy: ‘materteral’. According to the Random House Word of the Day site, the word is listed only once in the Oxford English Dictionary, but is actually older (1823) than ‘avuncular’ (1831). They also note that Latin had different words for aunts and uncles on the father’s and mother’s side of the family: you father’s brother and sister are your patruus and amita, your mother’s are your avunculus and matertera.
They do not note that the etymologies of three of these are transparent: your patruus is a second father (pater), your matertera a second mother (mater), and your avunculus a lesser grandfather (avus). In Anthropology and Roman Culture. Kinship, Time, Images of the Soul (tr. J. Van Sickle, Johns Hopkins, 1991), Maurizio Bettini gathers the evidence that the father’s siblings were “were expected to maintain an attitude of discipline, harshness and aloofness”, while the mother’s were stereotypically “warm and affectionate even to the point of indulgence” (both quotations from Matthew Slagter’s review, here). It appears that The Rat will soon be an amita rather than a matertera, but ‘amital’ is not an English word, and I imagine she’s planning to be more materteral anyway. I recently learned that I will soon be a patruus magnus (great-uncle), but I plan to defy the etymologies and be greatly avuncular.
Book VII of the Greek Anthology includes a sequence of eight supposed epitaphs of Timon of Athens, the famous misanthrope, epigrams 313-320. Having already posted seven of them, here is the eighth, by “Zenodotus or Rhianus” (A.P. 7.315), with W. R. Paton’s Loeb translation:
Τρηχεῖαν κατ᾿ ἐμεῦ, ψαφαρὴ κόνι, ῥάμνον ἑλίσσοις
πάντοθεν, ἢ σκολιῆς ἄγρια κῶλα βάτου,
ὡς ἐπ᾿ ἐμοὶ μηδ᾿ ὄρνις ἐν εἴαρι κοῦφον ἐρείδοι
ἴχνος, ἐηεμάζω δ᾿ ἥσυχα κεκλιμένος.
ἦ γὰρ ὁ μισάνθρωπος, ὁ μηδ᾿ ἀστοῖσι φιλἠεὶς
Τίμων οὐδ᾿ Ἀΐδῃ γνήσιος εἰμι νέκυς.
Dry earth, grow a prickly thorn to twine all around me, or the wild branches of a twisting bramble, that not even a bird in spring may rest its light foot on me, but that I may repose in peace and solitude. For I, the misanthrope, Timon, who was not even beloved by my countrymen, am no genuine dead man even in Hades.
Saturday: April 29, 2006
Like most of us, LanguageHat dislikes ‘Historical Novelese’. Here’s Robert Graves’ parody of the genre, from a fictional fiction about the Diet of Worms:
‘Nay,’ cried the good bailiff of Hochschloss, ‘all folk who journey through this bailiwick must first drink the health of my Lord the Duke: in mead, be they poor; in good Rhine wine, be they of the better sort.’
This is from Chapter 10 of one of my favorite novels, Antigua, Penny, Puce (1936). In Chapter 17, we are told that the author of A Session of the Diet “had to pay to get it published and was grossly over-charged and, in spite of a large additional sum that the publishers demanded for advertising, only sold forty-five copies in England and seven in Canada”.
Wednesday: April 26, 2006
This is the work of “Leonidas or Antipater” (A.P. 7.316). By including it in Hellenistic Epigrams as Leonidas C, Gow and Page imply that it is likely to be by Leonidas of Tarentum or Antipater of Sidon, not their later homonyms Leonidas of Alexandria and Antipater of Thessalonica.
Τὴν ἐπ᾿ ἐμεῦ στήλην παραμείβεο, μήτε με χαίρειν
εἰπών, μήθ᾿ ὅστις, μὴ τίνος ἐξετάσας·
ἢ μὴ τὴν ἀνύεις τελέσαις ὁδόν· ἢν δὲ παρέλθῃς
σιγῇ, μηδ᾿ οὕτως ἣν ἀνύεις τελέσαις.
Pass by this monument, neither wishing me well [= greeting me], nor asking who, or whose son, I was. Otherwise may you never reach the end of the journey you are on, but if you pass by in silence, not even then may you reach your journey’s end.
Friday: April 21, 2006
Existen normas del buen gusto, pero no podemos conocerlas.
Sólo podemos aplicarlas.
Standards of good taste exist, but we cannot know them.
We can only apply them.
(Nicolás Gómez Dávila, Escolios a un Texto Implícito, 2.330)
As one of my teachers in college put it, “De gustibus non est disputandum does not mean that everyone’s taste is equal. It means that some people are wrong, and others are right, even if they can’t prove it.” This is a loose paraphrase of something said 30+ years ago, but the gist is accurate.
Thursday: April 20, 2006
La “instrucción” es toxina letal para el espíritu.
“Education” is a lethal toxin for the soul.
(Nicolás Gómez Dávila, Escolios a un Texto Implícito, 2.179)
This hexameter couplet purports to be the inscription on Timon’s tomb. It is A.P. 7.313, with the author given as ‘anonymous’, though Plutarch, in his life of Mark Antony (§ 70), says that Timon wrote it himself.
Ἐνθαδ᾿ ἀπορρήξας ψυχὴν βαρυδαίμονα κεῖμαι·
τοὔνομα δ᾿ οὐ πεύσεσθε, κακοὶ δὲ κακῶς ἀπόλοισθε.
Here I lie, having broken away from my luckless soul. My name you will not learn, but may you come, bad men, to a bad end.
Like the preceding, A.P. 7.319 is anonymous, and neither is included in any of Gow and Page’s collections:
Καὶ νέκυς ὢν Τίμων ἄγριος· σὺ δέ γ᾿, ὦ πυλαωρὲ
Πλούτωνος, τάρβει, Κέρβερε, μή σε δάκῃ.
Even as a corpse Timon is savage: Cerberus, door-keeper of Pluto, be afraid lest he bite you.
Wednesday: April 19, 2006
El pueblo fue rico espiritualmente hasta que los semieducados resolvieron educarlo.
The People were spiritually rich until the half-educated decided to educate them.
(Nicolás Gómez Dávila, Escolios a un Texto Implícito, 2.178)
This is Hegesippus VIII in Gow and Page, Hellenistic Epigrams, A.P. 7.320:
Ὀξεῖαι πάντη περὶ τὸν τάφον εἰσὶν ἄκανθαι
καὶ σκόλοπες· βλάψεις τοὺς πόδας, ἢν προσίῃς·
Τίμων μισάνθρωπος ἐνοικέω· ἀλλὰ πάρελθε,
οἰμώζειν εἴπας πολλά, πάρελθε μόνον.
All around the tomb there are sharp thorns and stakes: you will hurt your feet if you go near. I, Timon the misanthrope, dwell in it. But pass by – wish me all evil if you like, only pass by.
This charming piece is Ptolemaeus II in Page’s Further Greek Epigrams, A.P. 7.314:
Μὴ πόθεν εἰμὶ μάθῃς, μηδ᾿ οὔνομα· πλὴν ὅτι θνήσκειν
τοὺς παρ᾿ ἐμὴν στήλην ἐρχομένους ἐθέλω.
Learn not whence I am nor my name; know only that I wish those who pass my monument to die.
Tuesday: April 18, 2006
El hombre actual no vive en el espacio y en el tiempo. Sino en la geometria y los cronómetros.
Modern man does not live in space and time. Rather in geometry and clocks.
(Nicolás Gómez Dávila, Escolios a un Texto Implícito, 2.178)
These are Callimachus LI and LII in Gow and Page, Hellenistic Epigrams, 7.317-318 in the Greek Anthology. The first is a dialogue, with the translation mostly borrowed from Paton’s Loeb:
— Τίμων, οὐ γὰρ ἔτ᾿ ἐσσί, τί τοι, σκότος ἢ φάος, ἐχθρόν;
— Τὸ σκότος· ὑμέων γὰρ πλείονες εἰν Ἀΐδῃ.
Q. Timon, since you are no more, which is more hateful to you, darkness or light?
A. Darkness: for there are more of you in Hades.
The second is a bit confusing, and depends on a pun. Here is my best guess at a translation:
Μὴ χαίρειν εἴπῃς με, κακὸν κέαρ, ἀλλὰ πάρελθε·
ἶσον ἐμοὶ χαίρειν ἐστὶ τὸ μὴ σὲ πελᾶν.
Do not greet (= bless) me, evil heart, but pass by; your not coming near is as good as a blessing.
I upgraded WordPress to version 1.5 yesterday, which makes spam comments a lot easier to deal with. Lately, quite a few of the latter have contained a simple two-word message: tool die. My first thought on seeing one was that there’s a missing copulative. My second was that there’s a missing comma: taking ‘tool’ as a vocative and ‘die’ as an imperative would express my thoughts about the sender with some precision.
Saturday: April 15, 2006
The Role of Women in Thucydides would be — perhaps is — a very short book, but there are a few interesting appearances. This passage in particular caught my eye:
καὶ ὁ νεὼς τῆς Ἥρας τοῦ αὐτοῦ θέρους ἐν Ἀργει κατεκαύθη, Χρυσίδος τῆς ἱερείας λύχνον τινὰ θείσης ἡμμένον πρὸς τὰ στέμματα καὶ ἐπικαταδαρθούσης, ὥστε ἔλαθεν ἁφθέντα πάντα καὶ καταφλεχθέντα. καὶ ἡ Χρυσὶς μὲν εὐθὺς τῆς νυκτὸς δείσασα τοὺς Ἀργείους ἐς Φλειοῦντα φεύγει· οἱ δὲ ἄλλην ἱέρειαν ἐκ τοῦ νόμου τοῦ προκειμένου κατεστήσαντο Φαεινίδα ὄνομα. ἔτη δὲ ἡ Χρυσὶς τοῦ πολέμου τοῦδε ἐπέλαβεν ὀκτὼ καὶ ἔνατον ἐκ μέσου, ὅτε ἀπέφυγεν.
The same summer  also the temple of Hera at Argos was burnt down, through Chrysis, the priestess, placing a lighted torch near the garlands and then falling asleep, so that they all caught fire and were in a blaze before she observed it. Chrysis that very night fled to Phlius for fear of the Argives, who, following the law in such a case, appointed another priestess named Phaeinis. Chrysis at the time of her flight had been priestess for eight years of the present war and half the ninth.
(Thucydides 4.133.2-3, with Crawley’s translation)
As Gomme remarks ad loc., “she had been priestess for 56 1/2 years (ii. 2. 1), so she was presumably a very old lady”. I take it that priestesses normally served until they died, and “the law in such a case” provided for replacement of a living priestess who abandoned her post. Gomme refers to Pausanias 2.17.7 and 3.5.6 for more on Chrysis and also notes: “The shrine of Athena Alea was of especial sanctity, where illustrious persons, such as Leotychidas and Pausanias kings of Sparta, took refuge, and no state would demand extradition. Pausanias also tells us that the Argives did not destroy the statue of Chrysis in the Heraion.” Phlius was only the first stop in Chrysis’ flight to the shrine of Athena Alea in Tegea: I wonder if the roundabout journey through Phlius to Stymphalus “and thence by a very steep route to Arcadian Orchomenus” was a sly trick to evade her pursuers. If the Argives could guess that she would head for the temple in Tegea, taking the direct route would have been foolish, and a long and (in part) very steep route would have seemed unlikely for a very old lady. Then again, perhaps she hitched a ride in the first carriage or wagon she found heading out of town and only planned her next move when she got to Phlius.
In the thirty years I’ve owned the volume, I’d never noticed until now that a dozen pages of my copy of Gomme III were bound in more or less random order. I suppose it’s too late to get my money back — all $23.00 of it.
Wednesday: April 5, 2006
Just to show that even Palladas can be boring, here is the shorter of his two surviving epigrams about grafting pear trees (A.P. 9.6):
᾿Αχρὰς ἔην· θῆκας σέο χερσὶ μυρίπνοον ὄχνην
δένδρῳ πτόρθον ἐνείς· σὴν χάριν εἰς σὲ φέρω.
I was a wild-pear tree (pyraster); by inserting a graft, your hand made me a fragrant pear-tree, and I reward you for your kindness.
(translation adapted from W. R. Paton’s Loeb)
Monday: April 3, 2006
Not Palladas but Ammianus this time (A.P. 11.413):
Ὡς κῆπον τεθυκώς, δεῖπνον παρέθηκεν Ἀπελλῆς,
οἰόμενος βόσκειν ἀντὶ φίλων πρόβατα.
ἦν ῥαφανίς, σέρις ἦν, τῆλις, θρίδακες, πράσα, βολβοί,
ὤκιμον, ἡδύσμον, πήγανον, ἀσπάραγος·
δείσας δ᾿ ἐκ τούτων μὴ καὶ χόρτον παραθῇ μοι,
δειπνήσας θέρμους ἡμιβρεχεῖς, ἔφυγον.
Apelles gave us a supper as if he had butchered a garden, thinking he was feeding sheep instead of friends. There was radish, chicory, fenugreek, lettuces, leeks, onions, basil, mint, rue, asparagus. I was afraid that after these things he would put hay before me, so when I had eaten some sodden lupins I fled.
(translation adapted from W. R. Paton’s Loeb)
Sunday: April 2, 2006
Palladas again (A.Pl. 317):
Κωφὸν ἄναυδον ὁρῶν τὸν Γέσσιον, εἰ λίθος ἐστί,
Δήλιε, μαντεύου, τίς τίνος ἐστὶ λίθος.
Looking here on Gessius, dumb and speechless, if he be of stone, tell by thy sooth, Delian Apollo, which is the stone statue of which.
(translated by W. R. Paton)
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