I’m Back – or Soon Will Be

I thought I should avoid going a whole year without posting, so here’s a quick note exactly one year after my last post. I’m working on a substantive post, advertising a revision of my text of Heroides 1, which should be up some time tomorrow. Stay tuned.

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I have updated my ‘Publications’ page (see right margin) to include PDFs of a few more old papers that may be hard to find elsewhere. There are now links to all four papers on Marcus Argentarius (under ‘The Greek Anthology’), the one on Bacchylides (under ‘Miscellaneous’ at the end of the Greek papers), and all five on Juvenal, where there had been only the first three. I can particularly commend pages 1 and 14 of my “Juvenalia” to those with a taste for filthy erudition. The last ‘Juvenale’, “Excluded Husband and Two-Legged Ass”, has been referenced in a history of sexuality, but Google Scholar has not helped me trace the reference.

I plan to publish my long-promised second edition of Juvenal, with a much fuller apparatus linked (where appropriate) to my comments, starting this weekend. It will be available in multiple formats, including downloadable printable Word .doc files for classroom use, and (for some) additional Word .doc files that can be folded and stapled into convenient pamphlets, each containing one of the more popular satires. Watch this space!

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Should an OCT Have a Table of Contents?

Some Oxford Classical Texts really need a table of contents. Perhaps most of all Ausonius, whose works are numerous, of widely-varying length and interest, and numbered differently in just about every edition. I suspect that few Latinists have ever had the urge to sit down and read any of the editions through without skipping: surely we all pick out specific works to read based on recommendations and references. Riffling through the OCT to find the Parentalia or Epigrammata or Mosella doesn’t take long, but if you’re looking for Cupido Cruciatus, or Bissula, or Griphus Ternarii Numeri, or the Pseudo-Ausonian De Rosis Nascentibus, it can take a while, and these four short works are among the most interesting in the volume. There is a concordance of numerations in different editions (286ff.) but it doesn’t give the titles, so it only helps if you already know the number in another edition. The Index of proper names and related adjectives (299-316) does help, since the only ‘Bissula’ listed is in the collection Bissula (work XVII), and (much more surprising) the only ‘Cupido’ is in Cupido Cruciatus (work XIX), but an actual table of contents up front would be much better, not only in principle but in practice.

To solve this minor, but annoying problem, at least for Ausonius, I have made my own table of contents file. In fact, I made two files, one (link) for R. P. H. Green’s OCT (1999), the other (link) for Green’s previous editio maior (Oxford, 1991), which is in the same order, but contains a few more spuria at the end and has different pagination. For each, I give the pagination in the right margin, in two columns (text and commentary) for the editio maior. In each file, I also give a second version, sorted alphabetically by title, for those who prefer it.

Please feel free to print these out for your own use, adjust the print size for readability, and also to edit or resort them if (e.g.) you prefer to put De Rosis Nascentibus under D rather than R in the alphabetical list, and Ad Patrem de Suscepto Filio under A rather than P.

I used green ‘cover stock’ to make mine, which means they will probably outlast me, even unlaminated, and make useful bookmarks. Here’s a picture:

Green's Ausonii with TOC docs

As for the general question raised in my title:

Many (most?) OCTs and Teubners and Budés need no table of contents. In a one- or two-volume Iliad or Odyssey, no reader will be in doubt as to where a particular passage will be found, though some will curse the OCT for having the running book-numbers in the headers in Greek alphabetic notation, so you have to remember that Book 14 is Ξ (ξ in the Odyssey) and Ξ or ξ is 14. However, even chronologically-ordered Euripides can be a problem if you don’t have the dust jackets. I can never remember whether Hecuba is in volume I or II, Ion in II or III. Do the modern greasy-feeling plastic-covered no-dust-jacket not-sewn-in-signature OCTs list the names of the included plays on the covers, which otherwise mimic the older dust jackets? I note that Kenney’s OCT has ‘Ovidi Amores Ars Amatoria Remedia Amoris’ printed on the spine of the book itself (one word per line), but doesn’t tell you that it also includes what’s left of the Medicamina Faciei Femineae, tucked in between Amores and Ars, though ‘Medicamina’ would have fit unhyphenated. (I wonder how many others ever noticed, and how many of those cared.)

Next: Part II. Which OCTs and similar texts really need a table of contents?

After that: Part III. Why don’t OCTs and similar texts always print their contents in chronological order when this is known?

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Five More Seneca Commentaries

I have been intending to update my list of commentaries on Seneca’s Epistulae Morales, especially since Jeremias Grau told me in a comment on my last update about three I did not know: two German PhD theses (one of them his own) that will be published as books in the next year or two, and a recent commentary on letter 104 that I had missed (Lemmens 2015). I have now (six months later – oops) added these three, plus two more, one that just came out (Li Causi 2019) and one that I had unfairly neglected (Trapp 2003). Pietro Li Causi’s is a collective commentary on 124, written with his students, only available as a free on-line PDF, which I know from John Henderson’s review in BMCR. Michael Trapp’s is the Cambridge ‘green and gold’ collection of Greek and Roman Letters, which includes detailed notes on two short letters (38 and 61) and the opening of a longer one (75.1-5), all three relatively neglected by full-time Seneca commentators.

If anyone knows of others I have missed, please let me know: I have a feeling I may have seen one more. The number of letters that get no love from any commentator or translator of selected letters is now down to eight, or will be when the three dissertations at the end of my bibliography come out in book form: 45, 69, 74, 81, 89, 98, 109, and 111. If someone is looking for a thesis topic, one or more of these would make a good one.

As I mentioned in my last update almost a year ago, some day I hope to find the time to transform my list of Seneca commentaries into a data base for easier and more flexible searching, allowing users to sort the bibliography by date (as it is now) or alphabetically, or to filter the results to include only one or a few or a range of letters, and to filter commentaries by language, or by level (scholarly vs elementary), by whether they include text, translation, both, or neither, and so on. If I’ve forgotten any important criterion for sorting or filtering, please let me know.

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Martial on Poetic Obscurity

As promised on Twitter an hour or two ago, I have just uploaded a one-page three-epigram print-your-own edition of some of Martial’s Literary Criticism (link). As before, this is a Microsoft Word .doc file, so users may edit it as needed, removing the colors for cheaper printing, running the Demacronize macro to remove the macrons, or deleting one or two epigrams if they want to give just one or two to their students. It has two original conjectures in it, the first of which (on 4.49.6) was argued here. I suppose I had better write up my argument for the conjecture on 10.4.2 now.

Update: (Seven hours later.) Just fixed a couple of typos, uncapitalizing meum in 10.4.8 to match the style of the rest, adding a macron to the second A in Harypyiasque in the following line. My second error was one of perseveration. The previous noun, Gorgonas, has a Greek short-A accusative plural, but it’s third-declension where Harpyias is first declension, which requires a long A.

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More Teaching Texts: 12 Martial, 1 Seneca

I have just uploaded Twelve Easy Epigrams of Martial (link): probably the easiest dozen epigrams of Martial, with notes for sight-reading, and an introductory page explaining how to use them. I hope they will prove useful to those teaching Latin I now and in the future, whether on-line or in person. I have also uploaded a full-page text-and-vocabulary file of an 8-line epigram of Seneca, De Qualitate Temporis, on the end of the world – not the most cheerful subject, but some may find it comforting in a cold way (link). (Many doubt Senecan authorship, but it looks thoroughly Senecan to me.) It is probably most appropriate for second-year high school or second-semester college Latin. Like the Ovid in my previous post, these are not PDFs but Microsoft Word .doc files, which readers may edit as appropriate, as explained in my previous post and the first page of the Martial handout. (Yes, they are .doc, not .docx, files, so even reactionaries like myself who use Word 2000 because every later version of Microsoft Word has been much worse than the one before can open them.)

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Happy Birthday, Ovid: with print-your-own-page edition

In honor of Ovid’s 2062nd birthday, I have uploaded a text of the birthday poem he wrote for himself in exile, Tristia III.13 (link). It’s a suitably depressing text for a time of plague and isolation, and may provide a bit of comfort even to those in quarantine far from home: unlike Ovid, you will almost certainly get back home in a few weeks or months, rather than never.

Please note: This is not a PDF but a Microsoft Word .doc file, so readers may edit it as needed for themselves or their students, though the usual copyright rules apply. Don’t put your name on it and republish it as your own unless you’ve put in enough changes to make it your own. Mine is in fact quite similar to J. B. Hall’s Teubner text, though I have selected different variants in one or two places, changed the orthography in a couple more, and made quite a few changes in the apparatus criticus. I hope that’s enough. If not, I’m sure De Gruyter will let me know.

Some changes you can make need no excuse. 1. The file includes a macro called ‘Demacronize’: running it will remove the macrons from all the vowels, if that is how you would rather read it, or have your students read it. 2. Anyone with Word who prefers a black-and-white text to save printing costs can easily remove the colors, though I’m not sure about Mac owners, whether they can even open it. (Can someone let me know in the comments?) 3. It uses what I would call the Student standard for orthography, distinguish vowels and consonants with Uu and Vv, but using Ii for both (no J or j). It is easy enough to change it to the modern ‘grown-up’ standard, with V for majuscule, and u for minuscule, both vowels and consonants. Just select the text column and do a search-and-replace (ctrl-H in Word) with ‘Match case’ checked (important!), and turn U into V and v into u. (I tried to make a macro for this, but, so far as I can tell, macros can only be applied to the whole file, and I wouldn’t want to turn (e.g.) Livingstone to Liuingstone or Umpfenbach to Vmpfenbach in an apparatus.) 4. I’ve tried printing it on A4 paper, and it doesn’t look bad: the headers and footers are no longer centered, but the text and apparatus look fine. However, since A4 is longer the long way and narrower the short way than 8.5 x 11 inch paper, this 28-line poem does extend to a second, blank, page. If you want a printed copy that is metric as well as metrical, and don’t want to waste paper, you need to make sure to print only ‘Page 1’.

Comments on the format or the poem itself are welcome. I’m thinking of making more ‘print-your-own-page’ editions of individual poems, as well as ‘print-your-own-pamphlet’ editions of longer poems, that could be folded and stapled into little ‘zine-like pamphlets. Four to six pages of text with facing apparatus would be just the right size for a lot of odes of Pindar, satires of Horace, or Heroides of Ovid. I hope to have a sample or two up in the next few days. All will be far less derivative in text and apparatus than this one: for me at least, it’s hard to disagree with Hall on the text of the Tristia.

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New Texts: Albinovanus Pedo and Cornelius Severus

I haven’t posted anything in almost three months, partly because half the site was not working for six weeks (December 16-January 28) and I could not figure out why (a server move and PHP ‘upgrade’ made my main text database unreachable), partly because no one seems to have noticed, or at least no one cared enough to complain. I hope more frequent blogging and a greater abundance of linked texts in a wider variety of formats will attract more readers in 2020. As a first small step to that, I have uploaded HTML texts of the two largest fragments of post-Ovidian pre-Lucanean verse, Albinovanus Pedo on Germanicus’ exploration of Germany (22.5 lines – link), and Severus on the murder of Cicero (25 lines – link). Both will be linked on the sidebar under ‘My Old Texts’ as soon as I remember how to do that – I made them at least ten years ago, but forgot to upload them. I will also make reformattable and printable versions of both. I hope my fellow Albinovanophiles (an awkward neologism, but the shorter alternative would attract all the wrong Google searches) and Severophiles will be pleased. The argument for my emendation in line 4 of the former will be written up soon and a link appended here.

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Frigidus Lusus

After uploading my first published article two days ago, I thought I should add the second today, also on Marcus Argentarius. This one involves an obscene pun on the name of Antigone – not the Sophoclean protagonist but a probably-fictional contemporary of the same name. (Now that Gow and Page and one or two others have died, I believe my three Argentariana published in journals and one more uploaded here (link) make me the world’s leading authority on the poet, at least until someone – not I – writes the full commentary he so richly deserves.) Thanks to the liberal policies of G.R.B.S., I don’t have to type anything for this one, just link to the open-access PDF on their web-site: link. Thanks, G.R.B.S.!

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Lucaneum (not a Sausage) for Lucan’s birthday

For Lucan’s 1980th birthday – already over in the Eastern Hemisphere – I have written up a note on the text of 1.20: link to PDF.

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A Hermetic Pun in Marcus Argentarius

I have just uploaded my first published article, “A Hermetic Pun in Marcus Argentarius XII G-P (A.P. 5.127)”, Hermes 119.4 (1991): 497. Since it is about an obscene pun on the name of Hermes, I of course sent it to the journal Hermes.

Making a PDF turned out to be more difficult than expected. I gave away the last offprint years ago, and can’t even find a photostat in my files now. My only electronic copy after 28 years is the Nota Bene file I made when I wrote it, in which all the Greek and the formatting turns to gibberish when opened in Word. (My last computer equipped with Nota Bene was about six computers back.) I was just about to ask classical Twitter if someone with access to JStor could send me a copy of my published article when I noticed that the JStor preview gives me the whole thing. Not the preview for my own article, which JStor has cleverly made ‘not available’, but the preview for the following article. Mine is less than a page long and happens to start at the top of a page, so it’s all visible when you open the next article and see only the title, two lines of text, and a two-line footnote for that. Finding this shortcut was a relief: I certainly had no intention of paying $32 to download a one-page paper, even if I hadn’t written it myself. Anyway, here it is, with a missing lambda restored to the longest Greek word and a couple of tiny and willful adjustments to the punctuation: link to PDF

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Two Greek Syllables in Edith Wharton

I have just uploaded my one published article on English literature, “Two Greek Syllables in Edith Wharton’s ‘The Pelican'”, one of her best short stories, with a bonus prelude on the mention of Quintius (?) Curtius in her very first story. It appeared in Notes and Queries in 2010 (link to PDF). The full (uncorrected) text of the story may be read on the Library of America site, where it was ‘story of the week’ for January 26, 2017: introductiontext of story

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Bacchylidean Meter

Since I’m at the Pindar in Sicily conference right now, I thought I ought to upload my one published paper on Greek lyric, “The Meter of Bacchylides 2 and 6”, published in what was (I think) the very last issue of Liverpool Classical Monthly, dated 1994 but actually appearing in 1996 (link). It was rejected by three other journals before L.C.M. took it, which is two more rejections than any of my other papers have had (at least so far). The last sentence of the last footnote refers to more than one of the referees of the first three journals, who seemed to think I want to return metrical theory to the 19th century. I’m not sure anyone other than the referees has read it, and am curious what others may think of my thesis.

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Two More Seneca Commentaries

I have added two more commentaries on selected Epistulae Morales of Seneca to my list: Schafer 2009 and Berti 2018. If anyone knows of others I have missed, please let me know: I have a feeling I’ve seen one or two others. Unless I’ve missed a lot of them, it appears that wave of Seneca commentaries has abated in the last few years. There are still a dozen letters that get no love from any commentator and are not included in the translated selections of Campbell (Penguin), Inwood (Clarendon Later Ancient Philosophers), or Fantham (Oxford World’s Classics): 13, 17, 20, 45, 69, 74, 81, 89, 98, 102, 109, and 111.

Lowell Edmunds’ list of commentaries on Odes of Pindar, which was the model for mine, is back on-line at a new address, thanks to his student Leon Walsh: link. See this Tweet for how that came about: link.

Some day I hope to find the time to transform my Seneca list into a data base for easier and more flexible searching, and add similar cross-references for at least two other often-selected corpora far too large to make convenient PDFs: the Greek Anthology and Martial.

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Claudian’s Orrery – 3-column display of critical texts

It has been obvious for many years that an on-line text with an apparatus criticus should put it to the right of the text, since the bottom of the page may be hundreds of lines away, and a line-by-line apparatus is of highly-variable width – we would not want to put the entire text to the right of the longest list of variants and conjectures. What then of a text that also has a facing translation? I see no other place for it than the left side of the text, as in my three-column Sphaera Archimedis (link – the translation has no literary pretensions whatever). The fact that Loeb and other facing texts normally put the translation to the right makes me expect to find it there. How easy will it be to get used to seeing them the other way around?

Putting the translation to the right of the text seems more natural in a language written left-to-right, since the text is of course primary. Putting the text in the middle, between translation and apparatus criticus, also seems psychologically right, centering the primary thing, while separating the parts that are related to the text, but not to each other. Similarly, I use colors to differentiate, making the text visually primary (black), the apparatus (dark blue) and translation (dark green) secondary. I am curious what others think about my sample page, and my reasoning.

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Happy Birthday, A. E. Housman

In honor of A. E. Housman’s 160th birthday, ending in seven minutes, here is Charles Johnston, in Selected Poems (London, 1985):

Footnote to Housman

To reach the top flight as a poet
you must write an unreadable work,
so obscure that your friends will forgo it
and all but the bravest will shirk.

Then the few who have read it, begrudging
the waste of exertion entailed,
will claim it’s essential for judging
how far you’ve succeeded or failed.

From admiring their own persistence
they’ll come to admiring the screed
and claim that it stands at a distance
from works that are easy to read;

while the reader who skipped it is able
to pretend he enjoyed it himself,
and leave it about on his table,
and show it with pride on his shelf.

It was Housman who worst neglected
the force of this critical rule,
with result that his faults are detected
by infants who read him at school,

while we who admire him, defenceless,
lack some pompier twaddle to quote
and can find nothing prolix or senseless
to claim as the best thing he wrote.

To learn from the fault he committed
is the first of poetical cares.
Lucid intervals may be admitted,
but be lucid the whole time who dares.

I still can’t make up my mind whether ‘read’ in the last line of the third-to-last stanza is present or past, and therefore cannot read it aloud or to myself without stumbling.

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Martial Fouls His Nest[ed Quotation Marks]

Years ago I read (or perhaps someone told me) that Livy uses the word ‘o’ only once in his thousands of extant pages, in his account of the rape of Lucretia in Book I, and that no one had noticed this interesting fact until David Packard compiled one of the first computerized concordances, four massive volumes indexing Livy. Checking the text of Book I, I see now that I remembered that wrong – it’s been over thirty years – and that it is actually in the preceding account of Brutus kissing the ground at Delphi (1.56.10): a hidden voice tells the Tarquins Imperium summum Romae habebit qui vestrum primus, o iuvenes, osculum matri tulerit. Alphabetizing every word and its context made the word stand out.

I believe I may have discovered a similar unique thing (hapax phaenomenon?) in Martial while working on the technical side of putting up a reformattable on-line text. In encoding nested quotation marks for various national standards, I needed to find examples of quotations within quotations. Searching my database, which now contains 43,350 words, including all of Persius, most of Horace, 600 epigrams of Martial (around 40%) and a few dozen other poems or letters, I found 14 pairs of inner quotation marks, 12 in Persius (Satires 1, 4, and 5), one in Horace (Epode 17), and one in Martial. I’ve searched online texts of Martial for others, and the one in the database appears to be the only set of nested quotations in his 1500+ epigrams. Can you guess which epigram it is? Here are some hints:

  1. It’s a famous one.
  2. Martial quotes six whole lines from another well-known author, who in turn quotes part of a line (allegedly) from another well-known Roman.
  3. The four words inside the inner quotation marks are very obscene – not that that would narrow things down much, if they were Martial’s own words.

There is no prize but self-satisfaction, and no need to post answers in the comments. The answer will be found here: link. Do not hover over the link if you’re not done guessing – the number is embedded in the link! When you do go to the text, try out the reformatting buttons. I’ve had similar reformattable texts up before, but they didn’t work very well, and I’ve spent the last six months transforming them so they are stored word by word rather than line by line, which solves most of those, and will allow interesting further developments, like semi-automatic parsing of texts. Of course, the main thing I need now is a front end to allow users to select poems, but that shouldn’t take long. After that, I will add an apparatus criticus, and (eventually) make the texts editable, so you can select your own variants and save your preferred version with a cookie or a unique URL. In the mean time, if you edit the URL in the link, you can see other poems of Martial: Books I, II, IV, VII, and XII are all uploaded, with a scattering of others, including the famous 10.47. Just change the last bit of the link to M.10.47 (or whatever).

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The Etymology of Sycophant

I’d been putting off writing this up, hoping to do all the necessary research first, but it’s a subject of discussion on Twitter (link), so here’s a brief outline:

The traditional explanation of συκοφάντης, whose etymology implies that it means ‘fig-revealer’, but is used to mean ‘informer, blackmailer’, seems implausible. Supposedly, some Athenians were evading taxes on stockpiled figs, and other Athenians were informing on them or extorting money by threatening to inform the tax authorities. This sounds like a post-facto ‘just-so’ story to me.

It seems much more likely that the ‘figs’ (σῦκα) in συκοφάντης are hemorrhoids, and that the blackmailers were extorting money from the pile-riven by threatening to reveal their sexual secrets. Hemorrhoids were called ‘figs’ in Greek (σῦκον) and Latin (ficus, marisca), and were also thought to be the result of anal sex. Given the gross double standard in ancient Greek and Roman attitudes towards anal (and oral) sex – basically, being a ‘top’ was admirable, a ‘bottom’ utterly contemptible – a Greek man suffering from hemorrhoids would likely have been willing to spend quite a lot to conceal the fact.

To make a proper scholarly note I will need to gather all the evidence and weigh it carefully, since much of it is later than Aristophanes, but my hypothesis seems plausible in itself – certainly better than the bootleg-fig story. A good place to start is Juvenal 2.13 and Courtney’s note thereon.

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Claudianean Revisions

I have begun to revise and complete my web-text of Claudian, first uploaded in 2004 (link in right margin). So far, I have added curly quotation marks to In Rufinum I, the only text that lacked them, corrected four typographical errors in Book I of In Rufinum and seven in Book II, and corrected the punctuation in three passages of Book I and two of Book II. Further changes to the entire corpus will be made as time allows, and I will be adding to the apparatus criticus, though it will still be very sparse. I hope to edit and upload the five missing books in the next few months: Panegyricus de Tertio Consulatu Honorii Augusti, De Bellum Getico, Panegyricus de Sexto Consulatu Honorii Augusti, and De Raptu Proserpinae II-III, beginning with the last as most in demand.

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Why Memmius?

While I’m uploading old papers, I thought I should include a lecture on Lucretius I gave at the Leeds Latin Seminar in 2000. This is, after all, the traditional date of the death of Lucretius (and birth of Vergil). The title is “Lucretius’ Dedication: Why Memmius?”, and the PDF will be found here. For better or worse, I have not removed any of the characteristics of an oral presentation.

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