Wednesday: June 28, 2006
The BBC reports the discovery (or reclassification) of a huge underwater volcano off the south coast of Sicily, which scientists have named Empedocles. They explain the name in their last paragraph:
The volcano was named Empedocles after the Greek philosopher who hypothesised that all matter consisted of four elements - earth, air, fire and water.
This is inadequate. They ought to have mentioned that Empedocles was from Acragas (now Agrigento), on the south coast of Italy, though further east than his eponymous volcano. He was a local boy, and that surely influenced the naming of the volcano. They ought also to have mentioned that Empedocles had a closer connection to volcanos than any other ancient writer, even the Elder Pliny, since he was said to have died by throwing himself into the crater of Mount Etna. The legend was once so well-known that Matthew Arnold could title a poem about a dying woman “Empedocles on Etna” with no further explanation (text here). Other notable bits of nachleben are Hölderlin’s play Der Tod des Empedokles (I haven’t read it, but assume a volcano is involved), the postscript to the suicide note of Ryonosuke Akutagawa (author of Rashomon), and the last page of Horace’s Ars Poetica (463-66):
narrabo interitum. deus immortalis haberi
dum cupit Empedocles, ardentem frigidus Aetnam
I will tell you the end of the Sicilian poet. Empedocles, eager to be thought an immortal god, coldly leapt into burning Etna.
In researching this post, I ran across Peitho’s Web, which includes a Greek text of the fragments of Empedocles, interleaved with Leonard’s 1898 translation.
What fact connects the following words?
cross, lane, return, rock, waltz
How about the following series of words and phrases?
amnesia, babe, baby, blues, crowd, gal, girls, hardwood floor, healin’, heart, husband, man, merry go round, moon, night time man, season, song, troubles, waltz, women
Too hard? If suffixes count, the second series also includes -in’ and -itis. And the two riddles are parallel: they have different answers, but work in much the same way. Answers may be placed in the comments. There is no prize but the honor of solving the puzzle. There may be another clue around here somewhere, too.
Tuesday: June 20, 2006
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 causa est? pedere Bassa solet.
For a text with apparatus, go here and scroll down to the third-to-last epigram. The Watsons’ paraphrase:
Your acquaintance Bassa, Fabullus, is forever cuddling a baby and calling it her darling. The odd thing is that she is not baby-minded. The reason? She is given to farting.
The scholastic humor is in the notes, where the Watsons write “the topic receives an airing in other comic writers” and “[t]he inveterate farter is a butt of comedy”.
Monday: June 19, 2006
I’ve been reading the new translation of Sebastiano Timpanaro’s The Genesis of Lachmann’s Method, edited and translated by Glenn W. Most and published by the University of Chicago Press (2005). Or rather, I have been trying to read it, but something seems to have gone terribly wrong with the editing. Here are a few quotations from the translator’s preface:
Under [Pasquali's and Fraenkel's] guidance Timpanaro laid the scholarly foundations for his later work on Classical literature, especially on Latin poetry (above all in the highly technical disciplines of textual criticism and of microexegetical and lexical studies) and on the history of scholarship on Latin poetry during antiquity. In both these fields, Timpanaro made numerous significant and lasting contributions (collected in Timpanaro 1978, 1986, 1994a, and 2001a), though he always preferred the form of the small, astonishingly erudite, highly condensed philological note to that of the expansive literary monograph and though he never himself undertook the full-scale editions of such authors as Ennius and Virgil that his teachers had hoped he would do. (3)
. . . a study of Giacomo Leopardi’s contributions to Classical studies (Timpanaro 1955, 1977a, 1997a): . . . (4)
. . . a number of other studies . . . mostly devoted to nineteenth-century Italian writers (collected in Timpanaro 1965, 1969, 1980a, 1982, 1984a, 1994b). (4)
. . . a collection of essays titled On Materialism (Timpanaro 1970, 1975a, 1997b; English translation, Timpanaro 1975b, 1980b, 1996) . . . (5)
A few articles, mostly on related themes, have also been translated (Timpanaro 1976b, 1977b, 1979, 1984b, 1988). (7)
So what’s wrong with these quotations? Of the 20 articles referenced, only four are actually in the bibliography. In the first three quotations, only the first reference (1955, 1965, 1970) is listed. After that, none of them are except 1979 in the last. It looks as if some editorial peon was either trying to get fired — if so, I hope he succeeded — or didn’t have a clue as to how to avoid firing. If I sound a bit harsh, it is because Timpanaro published dozens of books and articles, and I was hoping for some hints from an expert on which ones to read first, and where to find them. It would be good if the University of Chicago Press would put the correct and complete bibliography on-line somewhere so interested readers can consult it and not have to reconstruct it individually from other sources.
Update and Correction: (6/22, 00:40)
Please read the first comment: it turns out that the book includes two separate bibliographies, only one of which is listed in the table of contents. The other one includes all these papers. I’m still annoyed, but the problem is obviously not gross incompetence at the lower levels of the press but short-sightedness higher up. At least now I can find the various books and papers. Thanks, P.G.N.
Wednesday: June 7, 2006
That would be 110-year-old Jutland veteran, Henry Allingham, “who once attributed his old age to ‘cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women’” (þ Harry’s Place). None of the first dozen or so commenters noticed that that was a direct quotation from the Sons of the Pioneers’ 1947 #5 hit “Cigareets [sic] and Whuskey [sic] and Wild Wild Women”: cf. disc four of Swinging Hollywood: Hillbilly Cowboys (Properbox 75). Perhaps there are other versions.
In Boudu Saved from Drowning (1932), the subtitles quote the maid as telling the title character, Priape Boudu, “You behave like a Neanderthal”, but the last word is clearly audible as ‘troglodyte’. Was the gloss really necessary? Surely anyone likely to watch a 74-year-old movie in a Criterion edition knows the meaning of the word ‘troglodyte’?
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