Thursday: November 22, 2007
If people should ever start to do only what is necessary millions would die of hunger.
(Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Aphorisms, translated by R. J. Hollingdale, C 54)
Here is the German:
Wenn mann nur einmal in der Welt anfangen wollte, das bloß Nötige zu tun, so müßten Millionen Hungers sterben.
(Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Sudelbücher, C 370)
Monday: November 19, 2007
Every stink that fights the ventilator thinks it is Don Quixote.
(Stanislaw Jerzy Lec, Unkempt Thoughts, tr. Jacek Galazka, New York, 1962, p. 67)
Sunday: November 18, 2007
I wonder how many readers had the same reaction I had on reading that Terry Teachout has been dreaming about discussing ‘Potato Head Blues’ with John Pancake. Mmmm . . . potato pancakes!
El cinismo es una filosofía de adolescente inteligente.
Cynicism is a philosphy of the bright adolescent.
(Nicolás Gómez Dávila, Notas, 393)
Saturday: November 17, 2007
What snobbism — he wanted to be the Grand Eunuch.
(Stanislaw Jerzy Lec, Unkempt Thoughts, tr. Jacek Galazka, New York, 1962, p. 153)
Friday: November 16, 2007
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: Tacitus is a difficult writer who knows how to depict character: and sometimes gives excellent descriptions, but he affects obscurity and often introduces into the narration of events remarks that are not very illuminating; you have to know a lot of Latin to understand him. At 25 perhaps, assuming he has in the interim done more than read, he will say: Tacitus is not the obscure writer I once took him for, but I have discovered that Latin is not the only thing you need to know to understand him — you have to bring a great deal with you yourself. And at 40, when he has come to know the world, he may perhaps say: Tacitus is one of the greatest writers who ever lived.
(Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Aphorisms, translated by R. J. Hollingdale, E 43)
Lichtenberg was still in his early thirties when he wrote this. I take it that the 18-year-old cannot always say what he thinks because he is still in school. Here is the German:
Ein sicheres Zeichen von einem guten Buch ist, wenn es einem immer besser gefällt je älter man wird. Ein junger Mensch von 18, der sagen wollte, sagen dürfte und vornehmlich sagen könnte was er empfindet, wüde von Tacitus etwa folgendes Urteil fällen: Tacitus ist ein schwerer Schriftsteller, der gute Charaktere zeichnet und vortrefflich zuweilen malt, allein er affektiert Dunkelheit und kommt oft mit Anmerkungen in die Erzählung der Begebenheiten herein, die nicht viel erläutern, man muß viel Latein wissen um ihn zu verstehn. Im 25ten vielleicht, vorausgesetzt, daß er mehr getan hat als gelesen, wird er sagen: Tacitus ist der dunkle Schriftsteller nicht für den ich ihn ehmals gehalten, ich finde aber, daß Latein nicht das einzige ist was man wissen muß um ihn zu verstehen, man muß sehr viel selbst mitbringen. Und im 40ten, wenn er die Welt hat kennen lernen, wird er vielleicht sagen, Tacitus ist einer der ersten Schriftsteller, die je gelebt haben.
(Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Sudelbücher, E 197 — 2nd half)
Monday: November 5, 2007
Too bad they don’t cancel out.
1. The index of Albrecht Dihle’s Greek and Latin Literature of the Roman Empire from Augustus to Justinian (Routledge, 1994) includes one entry for Lucilius and one for Lukillios. Too bad they are actually three different people: five of the six page references under ‘Lucilius’ refer to the founder of Roman satire, while the sixth (page 93) refers to the addressee of Seneca’s letters, who lived (if he is not a fiction of Seneca) two centuries later. And shouldn’t the name of the Greek epigrammatist be spelled ‘Loukillios’ if it’s not Latinized as Lucillius? ‘Lukillios’ seems to fall between two stools.
2. The index of Brill’s Companion to Hellenistic Epigram, edited by Peter Bing and Jon Steffen Bruss (Leiden, 2007) includes two entries for Argentarius and three for Marcus Argentarius (under M, not A). Too bad they are the same person. There may in fact be two different writers named Marcus Argentarius, but if so one is an orator, frequently quoted by the Elder Seneca, the other a Greek epigrammatist, and all the Brill references are to the latter. The next entry after Marcus Argentarius is also disconcerting: ‘Mark Anthony’ is a spelling worthy of Catullus’ acquaintance Arrius. I was also disappointed to see that the discussion of poets of the Garland of Philip who were of “high standing and fame in their time’ (160-61) does not mention Marcus Argentarius. He most likely was an eminent orator as well as a poet: the name is rare, the dates match, and the “pointed and sardonic style” of the poet “well suits the irreverent cynic”, the orator. He also may well have been Lucan’s grandfather-in-law, as argued by R. G. M. Nisbet, whose words I quote. See “Felicitas at Surrentum (Statius, Silvae 2. 2)”, JRS 68 (1978) 1-11, reprinted in Collected Papers on Latin Literature, 29-46.
Friday: November 2, 2007
I don’t much care about the corruption story, but I do find it fascinating that the Romanian Minister of Agriculture is named Decebal Traian Remes. His parents obviously cared deeply about the Dacian campaigns of the late 1st and early 2nd centuries, but couldn’t decide whether to name him after Decebalus or his conqueror Trajan.
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