I have just written a textual note (half a page – 185 words) on a word in Martial 8.6 – one of his catalogue poems. Here is the link to the PDF. As always, comments will be very much appreciated, and may be left here.
I have just written an exegetical note (2 pages – 476 words) on Catullus 33 – one of the “few poems which for good reason are rarely read” left out of Fordyce’s edition. Rather than pasting in the whole note here, which takes a great deal of reformatting, I will just link to the PDF. Comments will be very much appreciated, and may be left here. I will be making a sortable database of Catullus comments, along the lines of my Persius comments (here), and eventually turning it into a database that can be sorted by author, type of comment (textual, exegetical, Realien, prosopography), date of comment, and so on. I hope to add comments to the sortable database, too, so they won’t have to be left here.
Juno’s first words in the Thebaid (1.248-51) come in reply to Jupiter’s announcement (214-47) of his plan to punish both Argives and Thebans for their various sins:
Sic pater omnipotens. ast illi saucia dictis
flammato uersans inopinum corde dolorem
talia Iuno refert: ‘mene, o iustissime diuum, 250
me bello certare iubes? . . .’
Her first adjective is surprisingly conciliatory and complimentary (and superlative) compared to the rest of her speech. I suspect that Statius in fact wrote mene, iniustissime diuum. Once the negative prefix was lost through reduction of minims (from 6 to 3) or Christian rewriting (a pious monk might well have thought that even a pagan divine ruler of the universe deserved more respect), o would have been the obvious metrical stopgap.
Of course, iustissime can be understood as sarcastic irony,(1) which would arguably suit Juno’s rhetoric just as well as open insults, and the reader may well wonder what difference my conjecture makes. The answer is that it would restore (I hope) or introduce (I fear) an interesting intertext. In a tiny note in Liverpool Classical Monthly in 1993, William Levitan suggested that the first words of the first speech in the Aeneid contain a bilingual pun: Juno’s mene incepto echo and allude to the first word of the Iliad, μῆνιν.(2) If I am right, Statius noticed Vergil’s pun and reproduced it in the first words of the first speech of Juno (the fourth in the epic) in his own Vergilian and wrath-soaked epic – a ‘window allusion’. He certainly repeated the initial mene. He also closely modeled his preceding line, in which Statius introduces Juno’s speech (flammato uersans inopinum corde dolorem, Th. 1.249) on the first line after Juno’s speech in Vergil (talia flammato secum de corde uolutans, A. 1.50).(3) It doesn’t seem much of a stretch to believe that he also reproduced both μῆνιν and mene in- by writing mene, iniustissime diuum.
(1) It might be unfair to adduce the remarks of Eduard Fraenkel (Horace, 46n2) on “that last expedient of a despairing commentator, the assumption of ‘sarcastic irony’”: it works tolerably well here.
(2) “Give up the beginning?: Juno’s mindful wrath (Aeneid 1.37)”, LCM 18.1 (Jan. 1993), 14. The whole thing is one longish sentence – is that a record?
(3) So Randall T. Ganiban, Statius and Virgil: The ‘Thebaid’ and the Reinterpretation of the ‘Aeneid’, Cambridge, 2007, 53, with further elaboration.
I have somehow ended up with two copies each of five different Classics books, and am offering the spares for sale at competitive prices (a few dollars less than the lowest price for the same title in comparable condition on ABE or Amazon Marketplace). All are in Near Fine, or Fine condition, depending on how picky you are, except the last, which is only Very Good – a bit dingy, with a penciled price ($3.50) and some specks next to it on the title page, but the text is totally clean and unmarked. Here are the details:
- Patrick Kragelund, Roman Historical Drama: The ‘Octavia’ in Antiquity and Beyond, Oxford University Press, 2016 (cloth in dustjacket), $60.
- S. J. Harrison, Generic Enrichment in Vergil & Horace, Oxford University Press, 2007 (cloth in dustjacket), $40.
- M. L. West (ed.) Homeric Hymns, Homeric Apocrypha, Lives of Homer, Loeb Classical Library 496, 2003 (cloth in dustjacket), $12. SOLD!
- Eleanor Dickey, Ancient Greek Scholarship: A Guide to Finding, Reading, and Understanding Scholia, Commentaries, Lexica, and Grammatical Treatises, from Their Beginnings to the Byzantine Period, Oxford University Press/American Philological Association, 2007 (paperback), $15. SOLD!
- Peter Garnsey and Richard Saller, The Early Principate: Augustus to Trajan, Greece & Rome New Surveys in the Classics No. 15, Oxford University Press, 1928 (paperback), $10.
To claim a book, e-mail me at curculio + at-sign + curculio + dot + org, or write a comment if you want the whole world to know your bibliographical wants and needs.
Don’t like my prices? Make me an offer, but prepare to be disappointed if someone offers more. Postage will depend on the destination: I try to break even on that, and it would be $3.00 or less in the U.S. for book-rate. Here is a picture of all five:
I also have a couple of duplicate Plato books, but a college friend has ‘first dibs’ on those. I will add them here if he turns them down.
I have just uploaded a tool – a website – for memorizing passages of Latin literature, the Cedo Alteram ePrompter. The test module may be seen here, using Horace, Carmina 2.7 as a sample text. The site works in Firefox, but I haven’t tested it yet in other browsers.
It needs a front end for selecting passages of Latin (and other) literature, and a much larger database of passages, but the concept should be clear with a little practice. I am also working on a version (Prithee) that will allow readers to upload their own texts.
The site has three uses I know of, but I only thought of the third when it was mostly done, so there may be more:
- Lovers of Latin (and other languages) may use it to memorize favorite passages. I find that I understand Horace and Catullus in particular much better if I memorize them on long walks. Long boring drives are also good for practicing texts I already have down, and thinking further about them. I get lots of ideas for textual and exegetical papers on these walks and drives. The software will allow me and others to do the same at our desks or (eventually) on cellphones or tablets.
- Actors will be able to use the Prithee software to memorize their lines.
- When teaching a passage of Latin literature, I have found it useful to show the class a word or two at a time, forcing students to guess where each sentence is headed, and to say what we can tell so far, and what remains to be learned in the unseen parts. Cedo Alteram allows a teacher with an overhead projector and a web connection to do that without wasting time, or chalk, or dry-erase ink. Or rather it will allow that once I have the front end put together, and a large corpus of literature in the database
Comments on any aspect of this project will be very much appreciated.
I just reserved a room at a cheap motel in West Chester, PA so I can go to the Ennius conference at the University of Pennsylvania this Friday and Saturday. I hope I can find a parking place near campus: last I heard there was a transit strike going on, which may complicate things. As part of my preparation, I’ve uploaded a PDF of my only publication on Ennius, a note that few have read since it appeared twenty years ago in the last issue (I think) of Liverpool Classical Monthly, though the basic idea seems to have spread to many who have not read it. An HTML version has been up on this site for most of the last twenty years, but I got a little carried away with the background images, and screens are much wider now, so it’s not very readable. The PDF is here, the HTML here. Even after all these years, comments are welcome. Of course, the bibliography on ancient acrostichs and even acronyms has exploded since then, and I have not attempted to update the paper.
The last four lines of the epistle to Vinnius, on his way to deliver a copy of Horace’s Carmina to Augustus, are clear enough, but one of the conjunctions seems dubious (16-19):
neu uolgo narres te sudauisse ferendo
carmina quae possint oculos auresque morari
Caesaris; oratus multa prece, nitere porro.
uade, uale, caue ne titubes mandataque frangas.
In line 17, oculos auresque would naturally imply that the emperor will read Horace’s works aloud to himself, experiencing them with eyes and ears (not to mention tongue) at the same time, in the usual ancient way. Could Horace presume that? A disjunctive conjunction, oculos auresue, might better suit the tact of the poem, which otherwise carefully avoids any hint of presumption. Horace can hope that Augustus will actually sit down and read the Carmina to himself, but knows that he is likely to be too busy for that, in which case the poet can still hope that the emperor will at least listen as they are read to him by an anagnostes while he dines or bathes or takes care of some other necessary and not-too-engrossing business.
The man crushed by a collapsing stone-wagon never comes home, and his household, though still unaware of his death, finally gives up waiting for him (260-63):
obtritum uulgo perit omne cadauer
more animae. domus interea secura patellas
iam lauat et bucca foculum excitat et sonat unctis
striglibus et pleno componit lintea guto.
260 uulgo Eremita : uulgi Ω 262 unclis P1R ||
One of the epithets seems out of place. As Courtney puts it,(1) “unctis is a fixed epithet, as the strigils have not been used yet on this occasion” (and would hardly be put away oily if they had been used). Such a fixed or ornamental epithet seems awkward when the next clause states that the oil-bottle is still full. The inconcinnity is impossible to avoid.
A less transitory epithet for striglibus is not hard to find: I suspect that Juvenal wrote uncis. If someone objects that uncus, ‘hooked’ like a fishhook, is not the same thing as ‘curved’ like a strigil, I would make two points: 1. Strigils are, like fishhooks, distinctly curved, though not usually 180°, and usually just at the blade end. 2. A Bing or Google image search on ‘strigil’ will summon dozens of examples, some much more curved than others, and a few approaching fish-hooks in hookiness. Finally, the meaningless variant unclis in P1R might imply a bit of damage or smudged ink in the archetype.
(1) E. Courtney, A Commentary on the Satires of Juvenal (London, 1984), ad loc.
Contemporary humanists often seem to operate on the principle that any possible pun in Shakespeare and his contemporaries is real or intended (loaded word!) or somehow present to the alert reader, inevitably adding to the meaning of the passage. It seems to me that one can go too far with this principle. One example should suffice to prove it.(1)
After the climactic regicide in Marlowe’s Edward II, the young king calls Mortimer “Villaine” and then delivers this accusation (V.vi 27-32):
Thinke not that I am frighted with thy words,
My father’s murdered through thy treacherie,
And thou shalt die, and on this mournefull hearse,
Thy hateful and accursed head shall lie,
To witness to the world, that by thy meanes,
His kingly body was too soone interrde.
In the previous scene, the king his father complained that he was imprisoned in a sewer (V.v 56-57):
This dungeon where they keepe me, is the sincke
Wherein the filthe of all the castell falles.
It would therefore be entirely appropriate, in one way, to take the last word of his son’s speech as a pun, and hear “interrde” as a disyllable and at the same time as two monosyllables. However, this would be so utterly inappropriate in every other way, that I cannot believe Marlowe intended any such pun. Sometimes meaningful word-play is purely coincidental – or at most subconscious and better suppressed. Apologies to my readers for bringing this one out into the no-longer-quite-so-fresh air.
(1) Text and line numbers are taken from Fredson Bowers (ed.), The Complete Works of Christopher Marlowe, Vol. II (Cambridge, 1973). The line numbers of the two quotations are 2595-2600 and 2504-05 in C. F. Tucker Brooke (ed.), The Works of Christopher Marlowe (Oxford, 1910).
In their commentaries on the Epodes, both D. Mankin (Cambridge, 1995) and L. C. Watson (Oxford, 2003) note the appropriateness of the name Inachia in 12.17:
“Inachia langues minus ac me;
Inachiam ter nocte potes, mihi semper ad unum
mollis opus. pereat male, quae te
Lesbia quaerenti taurum monstrauit inertem”
As Mankin puts it: “The reference to Io, the ‘Inachian heifer’, is more pointed here with H. about to be described as a ‘bull’ (17).”
Neither editor mentions a similar subtlety a few pages or columns before (10.15-20):
o quantus instat nauitis sudor tuis
tibique pallor luteus
et illa non uirilis eiulatio
preces et auersum ad Iouem,
Ionius udo cum remugiens sinus
Noto carinam ruperit!
More obviously than Inachia, the Ionian Sea is named after the cow-girl Io. It is therefore a nice touch that it ‘moos back’ at Maevius and his storm-tossed crew. It seems to me that the participle remugiens is not just ‘bellowing’ (Watson) like any angry mammal, but more specifically ‘mooing’. Though mugire and remugire are used of a wide variety of animals and natural phenomena, and even a Sibyl (Vergil, Aeneid 6.99), mugire is the vox propria (not the name, but the voice) of cows and bulls, as seen in (e.g.) Livy 1.7, Juvenal 14.286, and (very significantly) Epode 2.11-12, where mugientium . . . errantis greges, with the mooing creatures not further specified, is generally taken to refer to cattle.
I quote the whole poem, since it is so short, with Mynors’ apparatus, which is conveniently sized for my purposes:(1)
Anneiana puella defututa,
tota milia me decem poposcit,
ista turpiculo puella naso,
decoctoris amica Formiani.
propinqui, quibus est puella curae,
amicos medicosque conuocate:
non est sana puella, nec rogare
qualis sit solet aes imaginosum.
1 A me an a V, uix sanabile defutura R | 4 formani V corr. rmg 5 puelle V : corr. δ | 6 conuocare V : corr. 1473 | 8 aes Froehlich : et V
Once Froehlich had brilliantly emended the last line, the poem presented no urgent textual problems. The proper name is highly doubtful and hardly matters, and I print the conjecture which Goold in the Loeb attributed to Schwabe, but Kiss (note 1) reassigns to Fay. However, I still have some doubts about line 2, though my first two suggestions are incompatible, and all three are tentative:
1. It seems to me that it might be rhetorically more effective if line 2 came after 3-4:
Anneiana puella defututa,
ista turpiculo puella naso,
decoctoris amica Formiani,
tota milia me decem poposcit.
propinqui, . . .
The first three lines now identify Anneiana (or whatever her name was) with an insulting detail in each line, while the fourth tells of the action that has (presumably) elicited the poem, immediately followed by Catullus’ equally insulting reaction, couched as advice.
2. On the other hand, there is one advantage to keeping the manuscript order that I do not recall having seen in commentaries. It allows us to take tota as feminine singular with puella defututa, rather than (or in addition to) accusative plural with milia. Adjectival tota works very well, and adds a layer of insult: she is ‘exhausted by sensuality’ (as Lewis and Short discreetly put it) ‘entirely’ or better ‘all over’, like Theodora in Procopius’ most notorious passage, or Thais in Martial 4.12:
Nulli, Thai, negas; sed si te non pudet istud,
hoc saltem pudeat, Thai, negare nihil.
Examples could no doubt be multiplied. What worries me is one question: can tota be taken equally with puella and milia? That seems difficult. Or can it be taken primarily with one (presumably milia) with a sly pun involving the other? I hope my readers will be able to help me decide. This would mean removing the comma at the end of line 1, but no change in the text or line-order.
3. While writing the preceding pararagraphs, it occurred to me that a different transposition would allow us to keep the rhetorical climax and the cruel pun. Transpose lines 1-2 after 3-4:
Ista turpiculo puella naso,
decoctoris amica Formiani,
Anneiana puella defututa,
tota milia me decem poposcit.
propinqui, . . .
I like the new line order, which not only puts the outrageous demand fourth (point 1 above), and keeps puella defututa / tota together (point 2), but puts the preceding descriptions in a dramatically plausible order. Catullus is apparently chatting with a friend on the street: Ista suggests that he’s answering someone’s question, presumably ‘Who’s that girl?’. The first line (3) identifies her as the girl with the imperfect nose, the second (4) as the lover of Mamurra, the third (1) by name and reputation. Each identification is more specific: most of the girls on the street would have had imperfect noses, and Mamurra might have had more than one girlfriend,(2) but the name would clinch it. If the implied friend had thought she was someone else’s lover, quite likely she was last time he saw her. As with my first suggestion, the fourth line (2) turns from her identity to her action, followed immediately by the poet-narrator’s reaction.
(1) Dániel Kiss’s Catullus Online (http://catullusonline.org) is essential for anyone wanting to know more about manuscript readings and conjectures.
(2) If the implied friend had thought she was someone else’s lover, quite likely she was last time he saw her, to judge by defututa.
Horace introduces his proposed solution for the corruption of contemporary Rome with a Greek precedent (17-22):(1)
nulla sit hac potior sententia: Phocaeorum
velut profugit exsecrata civitas
agros atque Lares patrios habitandaque fana
apris reliquit et rapacibus lupis, 20
ire pedes quocumque ferent, quocumque per undas
Notus vocabit aut protervus Africus.
For the last few years, I have been taking long walks for my health, memorizing as much of Horace and Catullus as I can along the way. It helps me think, and I notice incongruities and other difficulties, often because they make passages unusually difficult to remember correctly. Two things bother me about this passage:
1. The shift from the Phocaean comparison (17b-20) to the Roman recommendation (21-22) is awkward. Granted that ire (21) can depend on sententia (17), they are a long way apart, unlike either of Mankin’s parallels from Cicero and Pseudo-Cicero.(2) It seems to me that a very small change would make 19-20 refer to the Romans, not the Phocaeans, and provide another infinitive, a little closer to sententia, to prepare for ire. Read relinquere et for reliquit et. This might easily have been haplographized to relinqueret, and it would not have taken a great deal of scribal acumen to correct the tense and mood to match profugit two lines above, making room to put the obviously needed et back in. Of course, we also need a comma at the end of 18 to mark the end of the simile.
2. Whenever I recite this poem to myself, I can’t help thinking that the second quocumque in 21 should be quascumque. Googling quascumque per undas, I find that Valerius Flaccus used the phrase in the first lines of his last book, and paired it with quamcumque . . . puppem – a closer match than I have proposed for Horace (8.1-5):
At trepidam in thalamis et iam sua facta paventem
Colchida circa omnes pariter furiaeque minaeque
patris habent, nec caerulei timor aequoris ultra
nec miserae terra ulla procul: quascumque per undas
ferre fugam, quamcumque cupit iam scandere puppem. 5
For better or worse, I should note that I have yet to sit down and read Valerius Flaccus, so my conjecture was not inspired by memory of the parallel.
My final text, with the changes highlighted:
nulla sit hac potior sententia: Phocaeorum
velut profugit exsecrata civitas,
agros atque Lares patrios habitandaque fana
apris relinquere et rapacibus lupis, 20
ire pedes quocumque ferent, quascumque per undas
Notus vocabit aut protervus Africus.
(1) Shackleton Bailey quotes no variants. Commentators mentioned by name include D. Mankin (Cambridge, 1995) and L. C. Watson (Oxford, 2003).
(2) Madvig (Adversaria Critica 1873, ii.58-9) proposed ite for ire (21), which helps in some ways, but does not satisfy. K. Lehrs, in his meta-Adversaria (“Adversarien über Madvigs Adversarien und ihren Verfasser III”, RhM 30 (1875), 105-17, at 111), quotes an unnamed friend as noting that second person ite does not suit the following first persons moramur (24) and iuremus (25).
A few weeks ago, Laudator Temporis Acti blogged about a translated novel set in a Greek classroom, in which the Greek was badly botched. As he noted, “You’d think that, in a short novel that takes place inside a Greek class, words quoted in Greek letters would be printed accurately.” My example is less embarrassing in one way, in that the Greek is not from a Greek class, but more embarrassing in another, in that the Library of America should be able to hire proofreaders who can handle Greek quotations. After all, their professed aim is “to curate and publish authoritative new editions of America’s best writing, including acknowledged classics, neglected masterpieces, and historically significant documents and texts”, and “authoritative” is a high standard.
This is the beginning of T. S. Eliot’s “Sweeney Among the Nightingales” in the Library of America volume American Poetry: The Twentieth Century, Volume 1: Henry Adams to Dorothy Parker (2000), page 739:
For the Greekless, it should say ómoi péplegmai kairían plegèn éso, but the editor or typesetter has reversed both of the leg sequences to gel to make the unintelligible (not just to the Greekless) and unpronounceable ómoi pépgelmai kairían pgelèn éso. (I’ve underlined the etas and omegas – long Es and long Os – since there’s no room for a macron and an accent on the same letter in HTML Roman script.) Minuscule gamma (γ) does look very much like an upside-down (mirrored, not rotated) lambda (λ), so it appears that some kind of vertical dyslexia may be at work. Most dyslexia seems to involve horizontal scrambling of letters, so this (if it is not a strange coincidence) is new to me.
Thousands of lines of excellent verse dedicated to Maecenas survive, but only a few precious bits of his own – precious in more ways than one. Seneca (E.M. 101.10-12) preserves, and comments on, one of the most interesting (Fr. 4 Courtney = 1 Lunderstedt):(1)
Inde illud Maecenatis turpissimum votum quo et debilitatem non recusat et deformitatem et novissime acutam crucem, dummodo inter haec mala spiritus prorogetur:
debilem facito manu, debilem pede coxo,
tuber adstrue gibberum, lubricos quate dentes:
vita dum superest, benest. hanc mihi vel acuta
si sedeam cruce sustine . . .
Quod miserrimum erat si incidisset optatur, et tamquam vita petitur supplicî mora. Contemptissimum putarem si vivere vellet usque ad crucem: ‘tu vero’ inquit ‘me debilites licet, dum spiritus in corpore fracto et inutili maneat; depraves licet, dum monstroso et distorto temporis aliquid accedat; suffigas licet et acutam sessuro crucem subdas’: est tanti vulnus suum premere et patibulo pendere districtum, dum differat id quod est in malis optimum supplicî finem?
Much of interest will be found in Reynold’s apparatus, but the only serious remaining textual problem I can see is in the fourth line of the quoted poem, where si sedeam does not scan by the usual rules of Latin meter. The meter is Priapean, so we need either a cretic (as in the previous lines) or a molossus, not a choriamb. Buecheler considered but rejected sidam for sedeam, but, as Courtney notes, the following context, specifically sessuro in Seneca’s indignant paraphrase, “seems to support sedeam“. I would only add “or some other form of the same verb”.
Courtney notes that there are a few Priapeans with dactylic bases in Greek. However, it seems to me that we might also solve the problem with two small emendations. First, delete the superfluous si: an implied condition works well here, especially with vel. Second, as hinted above (did you guess my solution?), change anapestic sedeam to a cretic form of the same verb so it will scan. Like the proverbial donkey between two bundles of hay, I am unable to decide between sedero and sederim. The perfect subjunctive is closer to the paradosis, but the future perfect would fit better with Seneca’s paraphrastic future participle. Either seems acceptable syntactically, so far as my not impeccable Stilgefühl can tell. Can anyone help me make up my mind between them?
(1) I quote Maecenas from E. Courtney, The Fragmentary Latin Poets (Oxford, 1993), 278-79, the enclosing Seneca from L. D. Reynold’s OCT of the Epistulae Morales (1965), omitting Seneca’s tedious continuation.
Etymology is a tricky business. Here’s a simple proof for doubting students:
English cognates are routinely formed from the present and participial stems of Latin verbs, often from both stems of the same verb. The present and participial stems of dēfundō, dēfundere, dēfūdī, dēfūsum are (obviously) ‘defund-’ and ‘defus-’. There are English verbs ‘defund’ and ‘defuse’. But neither is a cognate.
The last stanza of Horace’s Ode to Iccius (1.29.13-16) follows some adynata – ‘Who will deny that anything is possible . . .’(1)
cum tu coemptos undique nobilis
libros Panaeti Socraticam et domum
mutare loricis Hiberís,
pollicitus meliora, tendis?
Commentators all note that domus can mean ‘school’ of philosophers.(2) This is true, and important, but I think there is more to the word-choice than that.(3) Iccius’ erotic daydreams suggest an unsatisfactory personal life. This might naturally stem from poverty, caused or exacerbated by out-of-control spending on philosophical books: such an interpretation is compatible with the other poem Horace addresses to Iccius, Epistle 1.12, in which he seems to have taken a job managing Agrippa’s estates in Sicily, still philosophizing, and still discontented with his lot.
I prefer a different solution. What if we take Socraticam et domum literally as referring (secondarily, or even primarily) to his actual home? That would raise some interesting questions. Does he live alone, or is there a Mrs. Iccius? a nest of little Iccii? Is his obsessive book-collecting, or his avoidance of paying work to make time for philosophy, making a whole family miserable by lowering their standard of living? Does he ignore them all in favor of reading, writing, or long dialogues in the marketplace with his philosophical friends? A truly ‘Socratic’ home would include a nagging Xanthippe and three whining children, and such a home-life would explain Iccius’ eagerness to get as far away from Rome as he can, not returning without plenty of money – and some charming, submissive, and conveniently gender-varied captives.
Or perhaps Iccius is single and lives with his mother – all the nagging, with none of the sex. (By the way, the closest parallel I know in Horace for a collector of philosophical books is the wealthy vetula of Epode 8, with her Stoic booklets lurking among silken pillows (15-16):
quid quod libelli Stoici inter Sericos
iacere pulvillos amant?
However, I would not go so far as to suggest that she, or anyone like her, is Iccius’ mother, wife, or lover: that would be going too far, even for me.)
I suspect a reinforcing pun on the name of Panaetius, who is ‘entirely to blame’ for Iccius’ discontent – or so at least his Xanthippe thinks. There is a similar pun in the one epigram in the Greek Anthology attributed to Apollonius of Rhodes (A.P. 11.275):
Καλλίμαχος τὸ κάθαρμα, τὸ παίγνιον, ὁ ξύλινος νοῦς·
αἴτιος ὁ γράψας Αἴτια Καλλίμαχος.
Despite numerous difficulties of attribution and interpretation (for which see D. L. Page, Further Greek Epigrams, 17-18), αἴτιος here does seem to mean ‘to blame’ (the adjectival phrase, I mean, not the infinitive).
(1) I quote Shackleton Bailey’s Teubner text (1985). The only variant (nobilis – more likely genitive singular than accusative plural – vs. nobiles) has no bearing on my argument.
(2) In this case, R. Mayer (Cambridge, 2012) says, “the term is used loosely of the followers of Socrates, e.g., Plato and Xenophon.”
(3) He might as easily have called them a grex, as in the Epistle to Albius (1.4.16) – gregem and domum are metrically interchangeable.
Persius opens his fourth satire with an obscene double entendre and a couple of historical presents:(1)
‘Rem populi tractas?’ (barbatum haec crede magistrum
dicere, sorbitio tollit quem dura cicutae)
‘quo fretus? dic hoc, magni pupille Pericli.
2 dura αGL : dira PVXΦ, Isid. Orig. xvii. 9. 71
The tense of tollit in line 2 is a puzzle. It will not do to ignore the problem, to declare ‘tollit = sustulit’ (Gildersleeve), or to pile up examples of the historical present in various authors (Némethy, Bo). Obviously a Latin passage may contain one or more present tense verbs referring to events in the past as if they were happening now, and grammars provide numerous examples of Latin writers shifting in and out of the historical present, often in mid-sentence, with far more freedom than writers of English could ever hope to enjoy. The question here is whether one sentence may contain present-tense verbs that refer to two entirely different times in the past, in this case times that are 35-40 years apart. Persius’ Socrates speaks of (and to) Alcibiades (born ca. 450 B.C.) as barely pubescent, which puts the dramatic date of Persius’ poetic dialogue in the early 430s: so much for dicere. As for tollit, Socrates died in 399, several years after Alcibiades. Persius, writing around A.D. 60, looks back nearly 500 years, then roughly 460, in the same parenthesis. If parallels exist for such a change of times within a single sentence of historical present, they need to be adduced.
Fortunately, there is no need to wait, since a better solution is hiding, as it were, in plain sight. Commentators often quote the (“faintly reminiscent” – Harvey) verbal parallel in Horace, Sat. 2.1.156, where hemlock is mentioned and the same verb is future: sed mala tollet anum uitiato melle cicuta. Would not a future tollet work to separate the two past times in Persius? ‘Imagine, reader, that you are listening to Socrates criticizing young Alcibiades, Socrates who will eventually die from hemlock poisoning.’ The time of tollet, though past to us, is future relative to the time of dicere. This seems perfectly natural to me in English and (so far as I can judge without any native speakers to consult) in Latin. Is there any reason it would not have worked for Persius?
In a brief survey of grammars on my shelves, I have found no discussion of what we might call the ‘relative historical future’. I have, however, run across two clear examples in adjacent passages of Juvenal, describing the lives and future-in-the-past deaths of Hannibal and Alexander. I boldface the historical presents, bold-underline the ‘relative historical’ futures and future perfect (10.159-72):
exitus ergo quis est? o gloria! uincitur idem
[nempe et in exilium praeceps fugit atque ibi magnus] 160
mirandusque cliens sedet ad praetoria regis,
donec Bithyno libeat uigilare tyranno.
finem animae, quae res humanas miscuit olim,
non gladii, non saxa dabunt nec tela, sed ille
Cannarum uindex et tanti sanguinis ultor 165
anulus. i, demens, et saeuas curre per Alpes
ut pueris placeas et declamatio fias.
Vnus Pellaeo iuueni non sufficit orbis,
aestuat infelix angusto limite mundi
ut Gyarae clausus scopulis paruaque Seripho; 170
cum tamen a figulis munitam intrauerit urbem,
sarcophago contentus erit.
It seems to me that Juvenal is doing very much what Persius had done before him, if tollet in 4.2 is correct. Note that Juvenal also uses present subjunctives libeat (162), placeas, and fias (both 167), and the perfect miscuit (163), whose tenses are clearly relative to the historical present, the subjunctives looking ahead to the near future (donec), the perfect back to a time further in the past (olim). I have been unable to find a Juvenal commentator who even notes the tenses of dabunt, intrauerit, and erit: apparently they assume (quite plausibly) that Latin works the same as other Indo-European languages in this respect.
Corruption of tollet to tollit in Persius 4.2 would have been easy: a scribe who realized that the scene was set far in the past (for Persius and even more so for himself) might easily have assumed that a future verb was impossible and that a historical present would do, without considering that present tollit would be (as I have argued) incompatible with the present dicere. In any case, the difference is a single letter.
(1) Both Persius and Juvenal are quoted from Braund’s Loeb (2004).
Forms of res are found three times in eight lines in Horace’s second epistle: rebus in 50, res (singular) in 51, rebus again in 57. This seems excessive, and the last instance is dubious in itself.(1) The context is clear enough, one of the paraenetic commonplaces that make up the bulk of the letter (56-59a):(2)
semper auarus eget: certum uoto pete finem.
inuidus alterius macrescit rebus opimis;
inuidia Siculi non inuenere tyranni
I suggest that rebus in 57 is an error facilitated by the previous rebuses (there is another in 36), and that Horace in fact wrote bobus, for three reasons:
1. It is more pointed. ‘Fat things’ or ‘fat possessions’ is terribly vague. Now the envious man grows thin seeing the fat cattle of his neighbor. This is far more vivid, though not quite so vividly specific as the parallel in the first Satire, where the greedy man is envious because someone else’s she-goat has a more distended udder (aliena capella gerat distentius uber, S. 1.110).
2. The following context fits better with bobus. Glossing Siculi . . . tyranni (58), commentators always mention Phalaris, often adding Agathocles and one (Dilke) or both (Wilkins) of the Dionysii. As tyrants, they all no doubt used ingenious tortures, but Phalaris’ brazen bull is by far the most famous of tyrannical Sicilian tortures.(3) As Mayer puts it: “Sicilian tyrants were bywords for cruelty; Phalaris of Agrigentum, for example, roasted people in a brazen bull.” With bobus, Phalaris is not just a parallel, a ‘for instance’, but an intertext. Horace’s maius tormentum now clearly alludes to Phalaris’ bull: he is saying that being seized by envy of another’s fat cattle is worse than being roasted in a brazen bull. The hyperbole is implausible, but Horatian.
3. The preceding context also fits bobus better. The primary meaning of certum . . . finem is abstract and ethical: ‘fixed moral limit’. As Mayer puts it, “The limit is, of course, quod satis est (46)”. However, looking back from 57-59a, certum . . . finem also suggests a visible illustration of the abstract moral limit and its violation: a farmer looking enviously at the greener grass and fatter cows in his neighbor’s pasture on the other side of a property-line (finem) clearly marked (certum) by a fence.
(1) The proximity of rebus 50 and res 51 seems even more suspicious: I can detect no point in the repetition. However, I see no way to remove either form.
(2) Shackleton Bailey quotes no variants, Klingner only ‘marcescit dett.’ in 57, which would destroy the rhetorical antithesis. Commentators mentioned by name include A. S. Wilkins (Macmillan, 1926), O. A. W. Dilke (London, 1954), and R. Mayer (Cambridge, 1994).
(3) I can’t think of another: can you, without consulting your books or the internet?
Martial describes a selfish rich man’s estate (12.50):(1)
Daphnonas, platanonas et aerios pityonas
et non unius balnea solus habes,
et tibi centenis stat porticus alta columnis,
calcatusque tuo sub pede lucet onyx,
pulvereumque fugax hippodromon ungula plaudit,
et pereuntis aquae fluctus ubique sonat;
atria longa patent. sed nec cenantibus usquam
nec somno locus est. quam bene non habitas!
1 pityonas Heinsius : pyt(h)onas β : phyonas T : cyparissos γ
You are sole proprietor of plantations – laurel, plane, and airy pine – and baths not made for one; for you stands a lofty portico with a hundred columns, and alabaster gleams trodden under your foot; the swift hoof strikes the dusty hippodrome and everywhere sounds the flow of water going to waste, halls stretch at length. But there’s nowhere a place to dine or to sleep. How well you are – not lodged!
Once Heinsius had extracted pityonas from the chaos of the manuscripts in line 1, there seemed to be no textual problems remaining in this ornately Hellenic but otherwise straightforward epigram.(2) However, it seems to me that line 2 is a problem, in two interrelated ways.
1. The other possessions listed in the first six-and-a-half lines are quite grand. Having a bathtub large enough for more than one bather is not impressive, at least by ancient Roman standards.(3) Everyone seems to have bathed in groups, at home if they could afford their own private baths, at the public balnea or thermae if they could not. If I’m not mistaken, there’s far less evidence for ‘one-seater’ bathtubs than for larger baths in the ancient world. The only one I’ve run across in my own reading is in Velleius Paterculus 2.114.2, and I assume it’s a one-seater partly from the name (solium also means throne), partly from the fact that Tiberius takes it on campaign, though he kindly lends it out for the use of sick soldiers. A portable military bathtub is hardly relevant to the plutocrat of this poem.
2. Worse, the line ruins the climax by revealing the secret much too soon. As Stevenson explains it: “2. non unius, baths, far exceeding the wants of one man, with an allusion to his inviting no guests”.(4) But the allusion is unwanted. That the unnamed addressee has no guests, and no friends, should come as a surprise in the last couplet, pleasant or unpleasant as the case may be, as we lean more towards admiration of Martial’s cruel wit or disgust at the target’s monumental selfishness. There is no other hint of the final twist before the big ‘but’ (sed) in the middle of line 7.(5)
Both problems can be removed with a truly minimal conjecture: the deletion of a single pen-stroke. Martial’s patron the younger Pliny writes of rich men’s bedrooms (2.17.8, 13) and dining rooms (1.3.1, with my conjecture) designed to catch the sun from different angles at different times of day. A bathhouse similarly disposed would be a luxury in a class with a private hippodrome, multiple groves, and the rest. If this man had such a bathhouse, would Martial have described it as non unius balnea solis, ‘a bathhouse of more than one sun’? He uses a similar phrase in 10.51.9, where a bedroom overlooking the sea and a river from different windows is described:
. . . non unius spectator lectulus undae,
qui videt hinc puppes fluminis, inde maris!
Of course, a river (or canal: Friedländer) and the sea are ‘more than one body of water’ in a much more literal way than our single sun can be ‘more than one sun’. Still, Martial uses the plural of sol in a wide range of meanings, including sunny days (Baiani soles, 6.43.5) and sunlight shining through glass (8:14.3-4):
hibernis obiecta Notis specularia puros
admittunt soles et sine faece diem.
My conjectural text would be arguably bolder than either of those, but solves the problems out-lined above in (I would say – though I’m prejudiced) an admirably poetical way.
(1) I quote Shackleton Bailey’s Teubner text and apparatus (1990), along with his Loeb translation (1993). It is odd that the addressee lacks the usual semi-random pseudonym.
(2) And only one exegetical: pereuntis (6) has puzzled interpreters enough that Shackleton Bailey gives it a note in his apparatus, though that does not affect my argument.
(3) Even today, a home jacuzzi or in-ground swimming pool does not always put one in the top 1% of the income distribution, much less in the top 0.01%, as this man’s other possessions imply.
(4) H. M. Stephenson, Selected Epigrams of Martial (1880). Another difficulty is that non unius means “more than one”, which includes two and three and four, and does not justify the “far” in “far exceeding the wants of one man”.
(5) Friedlaender refers us to 3.26, where solus habes is a leitmotif, paired six times and implied three more by solus alone, all in four and a half lines. However, the parallel seems to be purely verbal, since the point there is pride rather than selfishness.
(Note: I hope someone will let me know if the Greek comes out wrong, and if so what browser and operating system were in use. On my screen, it looks fine except that acute accents not combined with breathings are pointed straight up, or even slightly back, as if they were graves – grave accents, I mean, not tombs.)
I begin with Tueller’s text in Volume I of the new Loeb Greek Anthology, which is the same as Gow and Page’s except for the punctuation:(1)
Οὐκ ἔσθ᾽ οὗτος ἔρως, εἴ τις καλὸν εἶδος ἔχουσαν
βούλετ᾽ ἔχειν, φρονίμοις ὄμμασι πειθόμενος·
ἀλλ᾽ ὅστις, κακόμορφον ἰδών, πεφορημένος οἴστρῳ,
στέργει, μαινομένης ἐκ φρενὸς αἰθόμενος,
οὗτος ἔρως, πῦρ τοῦτο. τὰ γὰρ καλὰ πάντας ὁμοίως 5
τέρπει τοὺς κρίνειν εἶδος ἐπισταμένους.
3 οἴστρῳ Pl : ἰοῖς Π
The first paragraph of Gow and Page’s commentary summarizes the epigram:
“Reason plays a part in desire for a beautiful girl; unmixed passion is experienced only by the lover of a plain girl.”
The next paragraph offers a brief evaluation of the poem:
“The theme is original, the style is remarkably plain; there is hardly a word which is not at home in the most ordinary prose . . . and there is no attempt at clever phrasing.”
Although Gow and Page do not connect the statements of the two paragraphs quoted, it seems to me that we should do just that, and that Argentarius illustrates his recommendation of plain girls by writing it in an uncharacteristically plain style. So much is fairly obvious. In a further twist, it is not at all clear whether the poet is in love with a plain girl himself. The plain, prosaic, entirely undithyrambic style of the epigram suggests not only the plainness of its subject(s) but the sanity and levelheadedness of the speaker. If he is totally sober and sensible, he presumably prefers beautiful girls after all. It seems that Argentarius, in his usual evasively witty way, leaves us guessing as to whether he loves plain girls himself, and thus whether he is to be counted among the wise or the unwise.
(1) The Greek Anthology, Books 1-5, translated by W. R. Paton, revised by Michael A. Tueller, Harvard, 2014; The Greek Anthology: The Garland of Philip, edited by A. S. F. Gow and D. L. Page, 2 vols., Cambridge, 1968. Page was primarily responsible for Argentarius (I, vii). It is conceivable that the puzzling variant ἰοῖς (3) originated as a misguided gloss ᾿Ιοῦς on οἴστρῳ: certainly the myth of Io combines a gadfly and love, in a way that few others do.