Saturday, April 30, 2016


Is Latin Sudus an Auto-Antonym?

An auto-antonym is a word that can mean the opposite of itself. According to Lewis and Short, sudus can mean both dry and damp:
sūdus, a, um, adj. [se-udus; cf.: sudum siccum quasi seudum id est sine udo, Fest. pp. 294 and 295 Müll.], without moisture, dry....

II. Somewhat moist = subudus; "ardentia viscera adhuc suda de sanguine", ARN. 7, 3.
But Reifferscheid in his edition of Arnobius' Adversus Nationes (Vienna, 1875 = Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum, IV), p. 239, adopts Sigismund Gelenius' conjecture uda for the manuscript's suda at 7.3. On the manuscript variants udis and sudis at Apuleius, Metamorphoses 11.2, see Apuleius of Madauros, The Isis-Book (Metamorphoses, Book XI). Edited with an Introduction, Translation and Commentary by J. Gwyn Griffiths (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1975), pp. 70 (text and apparatus) and 119 (commentary).

On the other hand, Arnobius isn't the only evidence for the meaning "somewhat moist." See the data collected by Henry Nettleship, "Nonius Marcellinus," Lectures and Essays (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1885), pp. 277-321 (at 305):



College Students

Mark Pattison (1813-1884), Memoirs (London: Macmillan and Co., 1885), pp. 52-54:
Another contrast which staggered me between myself and others was their attitude to the studies of the place. I had come up all eagerness to learn. Having had next to no teaching at home, I exaggerated in imagination what a teacher could do for me. I thought that now at last I should be in the company of an ardent band of fellow-students, only desirous of rivalling each other in the initiation which the tutors were to lead into the mysteries of scholarship, of composition, of rhetoric, logic, and all the arts of literature. Philosophy did not come within my purview. I did not know there was such a thing.

I was soon disillusioned. I found lectures regarded as a joke or a bore, contemned by the more advanced, shirked by the backward; Latin and Greek regarded as useless, except for the purpose of getting a degree; and as for modern literature, the very idea of its existence had never dawned upon these youths, none of whom knew any language but English. Such was my simplicity that I had believed that no one went to college but those who were qualified, and anxious, to study. Nor was the difference between the passman and the honourman a sufficient clearing up of the paradox, for such it seemed to me, that men should flock to a university not to study. It fairly puzzled me to find that even William Froude, whom his elder brother was compelling to read for classical honours, "hated Sophocles"—so he once told me—and regarded the whole job as a disgusting grind.


Time Travel

A.N. Wilson, The Victorians (2002; rpt. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2003), pp. 307-308:
Returning to the nineteenth century in a time-machine, the twenty-first-century traveller would notice immediately dozens of differences between our world and theirs: the smells of horse-dung and straw in the streets, and, even in the grander houses, the sweaty smell of the servants who had no baths – just the kitchen tap, very often; the darkness at night without electricity; the gas-flares against the sooty skies; the fatty food and 'smell of steaks in passageways'; the beautifully made hats, worn by all social classes, and the properly tailored clothes, even on window-cleaners or factory-hands; the continued acceptance of social hierarchy and, with the obvious perky exception, the underlying deference; the racial coherence – Dante Gabriel Rossetti, we recall, found the sight of a slave boy in London exotic – no one in today's London would find anything odd about seeing a little black boy in the street; the superiority to ours of the postal service – four or five swift deliveries per day – and the splendour – red coats and gold or blue piping – of the postman's uniform; the excellence of the rail services; the truly terrifying inadequacy of dentistry and medicine – and with these, the toothache, the halitosis; the generalized acceptance of infant mortality, the familiarity of children's coffins being trundled in glass-sided hearses down cobbled streets; the poverty of the children who survived, the ragamuffins who swept crossings and still, in spite of Lord Shaftesbury's reforms, continued to work, and run about at large, in the alarming, overcrowded cities – all these things and more would assail the eye, heart and nostril and make us know that the Victorian world was utterly different from our own.
Id., p. 383:
[R]ich and poor were kept apart in Victorian England to an unimaginable extent. The poor simply were not allowed into Piccadilly. Even quite bourgeois streets and squares were gated and barred against proletarian ingress. The moneyed classes were well-policed and well-armed.

Friday, April 29, 2016


The Land of the Cyclopes

Homer, Odyssey 106-115 (tr. A.T. Murray, rev. George E. Dimock):
We came to the land of the Cyclopes, an insolent and lawless folk,
who, trusting in the immortal gods,
plant nothing with their hands, nor plow;
but all these things spring up for them without sowing or plowing,
wheat, and barley, and vines, which bear        110
the rich clusters of wine, and Zeus's rain makes these grow for them.
Neither assemblies for council have they, nor appointed laws,
but they dwell on the peaks of mountains
in hollow caves, and each one is lawgiver
to his children and his wives, and they have no regard for one another.        115

Κυκλώπων δ᾿ ἐς γαῖαν ὑπερφιάλων ἀθεμίστων
ἱκόμεθ᾿, οἵ ῥα θεοῖσι πεποιθότες ἀθανάτοισιν
οὔτε φυτεύουσιν χερσὶν φυτὸν οὔτ᾿ ἀρόωσιν,
ἀλλὰ τά γ᾿ ἄσπαρτα καὶ ἀνήροτα πάντα φύονται,
πυροὶ καὶ κριθαὶ ἠδ᾿ ἄμπελοι, αἵ τε φέρουσιν        110
οἶνον ἐριστάφυλον, καί σφιν Διὸς ὄμβρος ἀέξει.
τοῖσιν δ᾿ οὔτ᾿ ἀγοραὶ βουληφόροι οὔτε θέμιστες,
ἀλλ᾿ οἵ γ᾿ ὑψηλῶν ὀρέων ναίουσι κάρηνα
ἐν σπέσσι γλαφυροῖσι, θεμιστεύει δὲ ἕκαστος
παίδων ἠδ᾿ ἀλόχων, οὐδ᾿ ἀλλήλων ἀλέγουσιν.        115
In line 113, ὑψηλῶν (high, lofty, modifying mountains) doesn't appear in the translation.

Alfred Heubeck ad loc.:
The sociological implications are clear: the poet has painted a picture of a people on the lowest cultural level, devoid of all that gives human life its distinctive quality. The Cyclopes know nothing of life in a community ordered by laws and decrees, of piety and morality, or of nature made to serve man by 'ratio' and τέχνη (agriculture, building, and seafaring). They are a negation of human values, and a negative counterpart to the Phaeacians who enjoy all the benefits of civilization; they are the embodiment of the non-human.


In the Muck

G.G. Coulton (1858-1947), Father Rhine (London: Dent, 1899), p. 53:
He could not believe that so sensible a man as Schultz evidently was would ever venture into a foreign land without having first learnt the language. "Sehen sie 'mal:—wenn Einer die Sprache nicht kann, da sitzt er wie im Dreck,"1—a form of locution which amused me immensely, though it appealed less to my friend.

1 "Look here—if a man can't talk the language, he has to sit in the muck, so to speak."
Id., pp. 202-203 (quoting an Englishman resident in Argentina):
"Father don't talk Spanish; I don't neither, except you must know a word or two for the cowboys and that sort of thing. Mother, she talks a little; but when they come to us, they talk English fast enough; they always can if they like, so why the Dickens should we go and take the trouble to learn theirs? That's what I always say to the Spanish chaps, and they can't find anything to say agen it. . . . Look at that fellow in the office here; what did you get out of him with your German? No, they understand English, they do; they know that means business. I've been about a good deal these three months, and I never cared a blow about any foreign language except once, and that was in Paris. . . ."


The Rule of Equivalence

Frederic W. Farrar (1831-1903), History of Interpretation: Eight Lectures Preached Before the University of Oxford (London: Macmillan and Co., 1886), p. 19 (discussing Hillel's seven rules):
The second, the rule of "equivalence," infers a relation between two subjects from the occurrence of identical expressions.
Id., pp. 21-22:
This rule of "equivalence" has always been prevalent in scholastic systems. It means the isolation of phrases, the misapplication of parallel passages, the false emphasising of accidental words, the total neglect of the context, "the ever-widening spiral ergo from the narrow aperture of single texts." It is just as prominent, and quite as mischievous, in Hilary and Augustine, in Albert and Aquinas, in Gerhard and Calovius, as in Hillel or Ishmael.
For the quotation, see Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), Aids to Reflection in the Formation of a Manly Character (London: Taylor and Hessey, 1825), p. 357:
I have, I confess, no eye for these smoke-like Wreaths of Inference, this ever-widening spiral Ergo from the narrow aperture of perhaps a single Text: or rather an interpretation forced into it by construing an idiomatic phrase in an artless Narrative with the same absoluteness, as if it had formed part of a mathematical problem!



Richard Jenkyns, Virgil's Experience. Nature and History: Times, Names, and Places (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 60:
In the Aeneid the landscape is more deeply embedded in the poem than it has ever been in narrative verse before. Among the poem's themes is man's need to fix himself; to be rooted, to be based solidly on some particular portion of the earth.
Id., p. 62 (footnotes omitted):
For several reasons, therefore, the first landfall in the poem is an essential moment. We expect Aeneas' men to be full of gladness, and sure enough they possess the beach 'magna telluris amore'. That is one of those simple Virgilian phrases that seem pregnant with a deeper significance. Its immediate sense is that the Trojans are overjoyed to be on dry land again, but behind this we hear once more that larger theme: a man's 'great love of the earth' is a fundamental part of his humanity, and goes beyond simple relief at escaping from a watery grave.



J.L. Austin (1911–1960), "A Plea for Excuses," Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 57 (1956-1957) 1-30 (at 7-8):
First, words are our tools, and, as a minimum, we should use clean tools: we should know what we mean and what we do not, and we must forearm ourselves against the traps that language sets us. Secondly, words are not (except in their own little corner) facts or things: we need therefore to prise them off the world, to hold them apart from and against it, so that we can realise their inadequacies and arbitrarinesses, and can re-look at the world without blinkers. Thirdly, and more hopefully, our common stock of words embodies all the distinctions men have found worth drawing, and the connexions they have found worth marking, in the lifetimes of many generations: these surely are likely to be more numerous, more sound, since they have stood up to the long test of the survival of the fittest, and more subtle, at least in all ordinary and reasonably practical matters, than any that you or I are likely to think up in our armchairs of an afternoon—the most favoured alternative method.
Id., pp. 27-28:
[A] word never—well, hardly ever—shakes off its etymology and its formation. In spite of all changes in and extensions of and additions to its meanings, and indeed rather pervading and governing these, there will still persist the old idea. In an accident something befalls: by mistake you take the wrong one: in error you stray: when you act deliberately you act after weighing it up (not after thinking out ways and means). It is worth asking ourselves whether we know the etymology of "result" or of "spontaneously", and worth remembering that "unwillingly" and "involuntarily" come from very different sources.

Thursday, April 28, 2016



Walt Whitman (1819-1892), "By Blue Ontario's Shore," lines 36-38:
I am he who walks the States with a barb'd tongue, questioning every one I meet,
Who are you that wanted only to be told what you knew before?
Who are you that wanted only a book to join you in your nonsense?


More Examples of Asyndetic, Privative Adjectives

Aeschylus, Suppliant Women 149-153 (tr. Alan H. Sommerstein):
Let her, the Untamed One,
become the rescuer of us the untamed ones,
so that the offspring of a most august mother
may escape the beds of men—ah, ah!—
unwedded and unsubdued.

ἀδμῆτος ἀδμήτα
ῥύσιος γενέσθω·        150
σπέρμα σεμνᾶς μέγα ματρὸς εὐνὰς
ἀνδρῶν, ἒ ἔ,
ἄγαμον ἀδάματον ἐκφυγεῖν.
Note the pair of asyndetic, privative adjectives ἄγαμον ἀδάματον (unwedded, unsubdued) in line 153. The asyndeton is obscured by Sommerstein's addition of the conjunction "and."

Demosthenes, 3rd Philippic 40 = Orations 8.40 (tr. J.H. Vince):
But all our resources are rendered useless, powerless, worthless by these traffickers.

ἀλλὰ ταῦτ᾿ ἄχρηστα, ἄπρακτα, ἀνόνητα ὑπὸ τῶν πωλούντων γίγνεται.



You Might Have Seen the Gods There

John Ruskin (1819-1900), Fors Clavigera: Letters to the Workmen and Labourers of Great Britain, Letter V (May 1, 1871):
There was a rocky valley between Buxton and Bakewell, once upon a time, divine as the vale of Tempe; you might have seen the Gods there morning and evening,—Apollo and all the sweet Muses of the light,—walking in fair procession on the lawns of it, and to and fro among the pinnacles of its crags. You cared neither for Gods nor grass, but for cash (which you did not know the way to get). You thought you could get it by what the Times calls "Railroad Enterprise." You Enterprised a railroad through the valley—you blasted its rocks away, heaped thousands of tons of shale into its lovely stream. The valley is gone, and the Gods with it; and now, every fool in Buxton can be at Bakewell in half an hour, and every fool in Bakewell at Buxton; which you think a lucrative process of exchange—you Fools everywhere!


Hellenistic Curiosity

Richard Jenkyns, Virgil's Experience. Nature and History: Times, Names, and Places (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 57:
It is a mistake to separate too far the 'bookishness' which some people complain of finding in the Hellenistic world from their energy and invention in such fields as medicine, astronomy, hydraulics, and mathematics. The desire to list the origins of cults, unearth obscure myths, or describe the oddities of distant lands and peoples is part of a great impulse of curiosity to learn all that can be known, an impulse which finds another outlet in attempts to measure the diameter of the earth or explain the movements of the heavens.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Prayer to Isis

Apuleius, Metamorphoses 11.2 (tr. J. Arthur Hanson):
O queen of heaven—whether you are bountiful Ceres, the primal mother of crops, who in joy at the recovery of your daughter took away from men their primeval animal fodder of acorns and showed them gentler nourishment, and now dwell in the land of Eleusis; or heavenly Venus, who at the first foundation of the universe united the diversity of the sexes by creating Love and propagated the human race through ever-recurring progeny, and now are worshipped in the island sanctuary of Paphos; or Phoebus' sister, who brought forth populous multitudes by relieving the delivery of offspring with your soothing remedies, and now are venerated at the illustrious shrine of Ephesus; or dreaded Proserpina of the nocturnal howls, who in triple form repress the attacks of ghosts and keep the gates to earth closed fast, roam through widely scattered groves and are propitiated by diverse rites—you who illumine every city with your womanly light, nourish the joyous seeds with your moist fires, and dispense beams of fluctuating radiance according to the convolutions of the Sun—by whatever name, with whatever rite, in whatever image it is meet to invoke you: defend me now in the uttermost extremes of tribulation, strengthen my fallen fortune, grant me rest and peace from the cruel mischances I have endured. Let this be enough toil, enough danger. Rid me of this dreadful four-footed form, restore me to the sight of my own people, restore me to the Lucius I was. But if some divine power that I have offended is harassing me with inexorable savagery, at least let me die, if I may not live.

Regina caeli—sive tu Ceres alma frugum parens originalis, quae, repertu laetata filiae, vetustae glandis ferino remoto pabulo, miti commonstrato cibo, nunc Eleusiniam glebam percolis; seu tu caelestis Venus, quae primis rerum exordiis sexuum diversitatem generato Amore sociasti et aeterna subole humano genere propagato nunc circumfluo Paphi sacrario coleris; seu Phoebi soror, quae partu fetarum medelis lenientibus recreato populos tantos educasti praeclarisque nunc veneraris delubris Ephesi; seu nocturnis ululatibus horrenda Proserpina, triformi facie larvales impetus comprimens, terraeque claustra cohibens, lucos diversos inerrans vario cultu propitiaris—ista luce feminea collustrans cuncta moenia, et udis ignibus nutriens laeta semina, et Solis ambagibus dispensans incerta lumina; quoquo nomine, quoquo ritu, quaqua facie te fas est invocare: tu meis iam nunc extremis aerumnis subsiste, tu fortunam collapsam affirma, tu saevis exanclatis casibus pausam pacemque tribue. Sit satis laborum, sit satis periculorum. Depelle quadripedis diram faciem, redde me conspectui meorum, redde me meo Lucio. Ac si quod offensum numen inexorabili me saevitia premit, mori saltem liceat, si non licet vivere.
Apuleius of Madauros, The Isis-Book (Metamorphoses, Book XI). Edited with an Introduction, Translation and Commentary by J. Gwyn Griffiths (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1975), pp. 120-121:

The reference is to Joseph Berreth, Studien zum Isisbuch in Apuleius' Metamorphosen (Ellwangen, 1931), which I haven't seen. Should there be more numbers than 1 under K?

Update from Ian Jackson:
I checked Berreth today at the library. K1 is correct: there is no K2. But as you may have noted, Gwyn Griffiths lists a second series of Ds, which should be Fs...
Related posts:


Venus Rings

I wasn't aware of the term until I read this definition of "Venus rings" in Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway, Fifth Century Styles in Greek Sculpture (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981), p. xix (Glossary):
The lines incised on the necks of figures, especially young females, to suggest the softness of the flesh, or plumpness. Thought to occur only on voluptuous women (like a necklace of beauty—hence the name), it has now been noted also on children and young men.
Examples in her book are the female figures on the Didyma column drums and the head of Athena from the west pediment of the Parthenon (p. 53), the "Stumbling Niobid" in the Terme, from the Gardens of Sallust (p. 56), and the Erechtheion Karyatids (p. 108).

Related post: Ventral Wrinkles.


It is All Plato's Fault

Friedrich Nietzsche, letter to Franz Overbeck (January 9, 1887; tr. Christopher Middleton):
It is a hard winter here too; instead of snow, we have had whole days of rain — the foothills have for some time been white (which looks like coquetry on nature's part, in a landscape so drenched in a variety of colors). This variety includes my blue fingers, as usual, likewise my black thoughts. I have just been reading, with thoughts of that kind, Simplicius's commentary on Epictetus; here one can see clearly before one the whole philosophical scheme in which Christianity became imbedded, so that this "pagan" philosopher's book makes the most Christian impression imaginable (except that the whole world of Christian emotion and pathology is missing — "love," as Paul speaks of it, "fear of God," and so on). The falsifying of everything actual by morality stands there in fullest array: wretched psychology, the "philosopher" reduced to the stature of "country parson." And it is all Plato's fault! He is still Europe's greatest misfortune!

Der Winter ist hart, auch hier; statt Schnee haben wir tagelangen Regen, die näheren Berge sind seit längerer Zeit weiß (was in der bunten und farbensatten Landschaft wie eine Koketterie der Natur aussieht –). Zu dieser "Buntheit" gehören auch meine blauen Finger, nach wie vor, insgleichen meine schwarzen Gedanken. Eben lese ich, mit solcherlei Gedanken, den Kommentar des Simplicius zu Epiktet: man hat in ihm das ganze philosophische Schema klar vor sich, auf welches sich das Christentum eingezeichnet hat: so daß dies Buch eines "heidnischen" Philosophen den denkbar christlichsten Eindruck macht (abgerechnet, daß die ganze christliche Affekten-Welt und Pathologie fehlt, "Liebe," wie Paulus von ihr redet, "Furcht vor Gott" usw.). Die Fälschung alles Tatsächlichen durch Moral steht da in vollster Pracht; erbärmliche Psychologie; der Philosoph auf den "Landpfarrer" reduziert. — Und an alledem ist Plato schuld! er bleibt das größte Malheur Europas!


A Board for Wasting Public Money

Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859), quoted in John William Kaye, The Administration of the East India Company; A History of Indian Progress, 2nd ed. (London: Richard Bentley, 1853), p. 597, footnote:
I believe that the present system tends not to accelerate the progress of truth but to delay the natural death of expiring errors. I conceive that we have at present no right to the respectable name of a Board of Public Instruction. We are a board for wasting public money, for printing books which are of less value than the paper on which they are printed was while it was blank; for giving artificial encouragement to absurd history, absurd metaphysics, absurd physics, absurd theology; for raising up a breed of scholars who find their scholarship an encumbrance and a blemish, who live on the public while they are receiving their education, and whose education is so utterly useless to them that, when they have received it, they must either starve or live on the public all the rest of their lives.
No, he's not talking about the Texas State Board of Education.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016



Jean Rudhardt, "Considérations sur le polythéisme," Revue de théologie et de philosophie 16 (1966) 353–364, rpt. in his Du mythe, de la religion grecque et de la compréhension d'autrui (Genève: Librairie Droz, 1981 = Revue européenne des sciences sociales, Tome XIX [1981], No. 58), pp. 71-82 (at 73; my translation):
Let's say at the outset that the concept of polytheism is ambiguous and a source of deep misunderstandings. A trite observation should already put us on guard: the Greeks didn't define themselves as polytheists; they didn't know this word, they didn't have this concept. The word "polytheism" was coined by monotheists.

Disons d'emblée que la notion de polythéisme est ambiguë et source de profonds malentendus. Une remarque banale devrait déjà nous mettre en garde: les Grecs ne se sont pas définis eux-mêmes comme des polythéistes; ils ont ignoré ce mot, ils n'ont pas eu ce concept. Le mot «polythéisme» a été inventé par des monothéistes.
Rudhardt is of course correct, although it's well known that the word πολύθεος (polytheos) occurs with the meaning "of or belonging to many gods" (Liddell-Scott-Jones) as early as Aeschylus, Suppliant Women 423-425 (tr. Alan H. Sommerstein):
And do not look on while I am seized as plunder
from this abode of so many gods,
you who hold all power in this land!

μηδ᾿ ἴδῃς μ᾿ ἐξ ἑδρᾶν πολυθεῶν
ῥυσιασθεῖσαν, ὦ
πᾶν κράτος ἔχων χθονός.
By "seats belonging to many gods" (ἑδρᾶν πολυθεῶν) Aeschylus means the altar on stage. Cf. lines 188-190:
It is best from every point of view, girls, to sit at this rock sacred to the Assembled Gods; an altar is an unbreakable shield, stronger than a city wall.

ἄμεινόν ἐστι παντὸς οὕνεκ᾿, ὦ κόραι,
πάγον προσίζειν τόνδ᾿ ἀγωνίων θεῶν·
κρεῖσσον δὲ πύργου βωμός, ἄρρηκτον σάκος.
Some or all of the "many gods" are named in lines 209-221 of the play. They are Zeus, Apollo, Poseidon, and Hermes. Cf. also 222-223:
Now honour this common altar of all the Lords.

πάντων δ᾿ ἀνάκτων τῶνδε κοινοβωμίαν
Statues of the many gods stand near their common altar, and the suppliant women threaten to hang themselves from the statues if their plea for asylum isn't granted (lines 461-465).

In Greek tragedy, the altar on stage is usually an altar belonging to only one god or one closely knit group of gods (such as the Eumenides). On the anomaly of an altar to many gods, only loosely connected, in Aeschylus' Suppliant Women, see Jon D. Mikalson, Honor Thy Gods: Popular Religion in Greek Tragedy (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991), pp. 74-75, with notes on p. 259.

The superlative of the adjective πολύθεος occurs in Lucian, Zeus Rants 14 (tr. A.M. Harmon):
For the meeting is packed with gods, as you see.

πολυθεωτάτη γάρ, ὡς ὁρᾷς, ἡ ἐκκλησία.

The first monotheist to use the word polytheism seems to have been Philo. The following translations all come from F.H. Colson's Loeb Classical Library edition of the works of Philo (passages preserved only in an Armenian version are omitted).

On the Confusion of Tongues 11.42:
Those whose system includes many origins for the family of the soul, who affiliate themselves to that evil thing called polytheism, who take in hand to render homage some to this deity, some to that, are the authors of tumult and strife at home and abroad, and fill the whole of life from birth to death with internecine wars.

οἱ μὲν γὰρ πολλὰς ἀρχὰς τοῦ κατὰ ψυχὴν γένους συστησάμενοι, τῷ πολυθέῳ λεγομένῳ κακῷ προσνείμαντες ἑαυτούς, ἄλλοι πρὸς ἄλλων τιμὰς τραπόμενοι ταραχὰς καὶ στάσεις ἐμφυλίους τε καὶ ξενικὰς ἐδημιούργησαν1 τὸν ἀπ᾿ ἀρχῆς γενέσεως ἄχρι τελευτῆς βίον πολέμων ἀκηρύκτων καταπλήσαντες.
On Flight and Finding 21.114:
But the promiscuous, polyandrous cause of polytheism, or rather atheism, the harlot, he deigns not even to look at...

τὸ δὲ πολυμιγὲς καὶ πολύανδρον καὶ πολύθεον, ἄθεον μὲν οὖν κακόν, πόρνην, οὐδὲ προσιδεῖν ἀξιοῖ...
On Rewards and Punishments 28.162:
I have now described without any reservation the curses and penalties which they will deservedly suffer who disregard the holy laws of justice and piety, who have been seduced by the polytheistic creeds which finally lead to atheism...

τὰς μὲν οὖν ἀρὰς καὶ τιμωρίας, ἃς ὑπομένειν ἄξιον τοὺς τῶν ἱερῶν νόμων δικαιοσύνης καὶ εὐσεβείας ὑπερορῶντας καὶ ταῖς πολυθέοις δόξαις ὑπαχθέντας, ὧν ἀθεότης τὸ τέλος...
On Drunkenness 28.110:
For polytheism creates atheism in the souls of the foolish.

τὸ γὰρ πολύθεον ἐν ταῖς τῶν ἀφρόνων ψυχαῖς ἀθεότητα <κατασκευάζει>.
On the Account of the World's Creation Given by Moses 61.171:
Secondly, that God is one. This with a view to the propounders of polytheism, who do not blush to transfer from earth to heaven mob-rule, that worst of evil polities.

δεύτερον δ᾿ ὅτι θεὸς εἷς ἐστι, διὰ τοὺς εἰσηγητὰς τῆς πολυθέου δόξης, οἳ οὐκ ἐρυθριῶσι τὴν φαυλοτάτην τῶν κακοπολιτειῶν ὀχλοκρατίαν ἀπὸ γῆς εἰς οὐρανὸν μετοικίζοντες.
On the Migration of Abraham 12.69:
Now just as the creature with many feet and that without feet, opposite species in the genus of creeping things, are proclaimed unclean, so also atheism and polytheism, mutually antagonistic doctrines in the soul, are alike profane.

ὥσπερ δὲ τὸ πολύπουν καὶ ἄπουν, ἐναντία ὄντα ἐν τῷ γένει τῶν ἑρπετῶν, ἀκάθαρτα ἀναγράφεται, οὕτως καὶ ἡ ἄθεος καὶ πολύθεος ἀντίπαλοι ἐν ψυχῇ δόξαι βέβηλοι.
Who is the Heir of Divine Things 35.169:
The first commandment among the duties to God, is that which opposes the creed of polytheism, and its lesson is that the world has one sole ruler.

τῶν μὲν οὖν πρὸς θεὸν δικαίων πρῶτός ἐστι θεσμὸς ὁ ἐναντιούμενος τῇ πολυθέῳ δόξῃ, διδάσκων ὅτι μοναρχεῖται ὁ κόσμος.
On the Virtues 39.214:
Perception of these truths and divine inspiration induced him to leave his native country, his race and paternal home, knowing that if he stayed the delusions of the polytheistic creed would stay within him...

ὧν ἔννοιαν λαβὼν καὶ ἐπιθειάσας καταλείπει μὲν πατρίδα καὶ γενεὰν καὶ πατρῷον οἶκον, εἰδὼς ὅτι μένοντος μὲν αἱ τῆς πολυθέου δόξης ἐγκαταμενοῦσιν...
On the Decalogue 14.65:
Let the idea that gods are many never even reach the ears of the man whose rule of life is to seek for truth in purity and guilelessness.

δόξα δ᾿ ἡ πολύθεος μηδ᾿ ὤτων ψαυέτω καθαρῶς καὶ ἀδόλως ἀνδρὸς εἰωθότος ζητεῖν ἀλήθειαν.
On the Change of Names 37.205:
Such as in their pride extol their own mind and senses as the sole causes of all that happens amongst men—these are they who have spiritually lost the organs of generation by crushing or complete mutilation; such again as love the creed which holds that gods are many and pays all honour to that fellowship of deities—these are the children of the harlot who knows not the one husband and father of the virtue-loving soul,—are not all such with good reason expelled and banished? (Deut. xxiii. 1, 2).

τεθλασμένοι γὰρ τὰ γεννητικὰ τῆς διανοίας ἢ καὶ τελείως ἀποκοπέντες οἱ τὸν ἴδιον νοῦν καὶ τὴν αἴσθησιν ἀποσεμνύνοντες ὡς μόνα τῶν κατ᾿ ἀνθρώπους αἴτια πραγμάτων ἢ οἱ πολυθεΐας ἐρασταὶ καὶ τὸν πολύθεον ἐκτετιμηκότες θίασον, οἱ ἐκ πόρνης γεγονότες, τὸν ἕνα ἄνδρα καὶ πατέρα φιλαρέτου ψυχῆς θεὸν οὐκ εἰδότες, ἆρ᾿ οὐκ εἰκότως ἐλαύνονταί τε καὶ φυγαδεύονται;

Patristic examples of πολύθεος and related words can be found in G.W.H. Lampe, A Patristic Greek Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961), p. 1116, col. 1 (click on image to enlarge):

H.S. Versnel, Coping with the Gods: Wayward Readings in Greek Theology (Leiden: Brill, 2011 = Religions in the Graeco-Roman World, 173), p. 24, n. 3, says that the word polytheism "was rediscovered for European tradition by Jean Bodin in 1580," but see some earlier occurrences in René Hoven, Lexique de la prose latine de la Renaissance, 2nd ed. (Leiden: Brill, 2006), p. 418, who cites polytheia from Guillaume Budé, Opera Omnia, 4 vols., (Basel, 1557; rpt. Farnborough, 1966), I, 18, 33; 137, 25; 143, 20; etc. and polytheus from id., I, 18, 53 (non vidi).

Jean Bodin, On the Demon-Mania of Witches, tr. Randy A. Scott, with an introduction by Jonathan L. Pearl (Toronto: Center for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 1995), pp. 71-72 (from Book 1, Chapter 5, ellipsis in original, with translator's footnote):
For as Proclus the Academician stated, polytheism is really atheism, and he who establishes more than one or a countless number of gods is trying to remove the true God....117

117 On Proclus, see above, Book 1, note 52.
Id., p. 53, n. 52 (translator's footnote):
In his Elements of Theology, the Neoplatonist philosopher Proclus (A.D. 410-85) emphasizes the finiteness of the world as part of the "manifold," and its separation from the unity of the One, the single first cause.
The French (and quoted Greek), from Bodin's De la Démonomanie des Sorciers (Paris: Iacques du Puys, 1580), f. 28 v., with marginal note:
Car comme disoit Procle3 Academicien, le Polytheisme est vn droict Atheisme, & qui met nombre pluriel, ou infini de Dieux s'efforce d'oster le vray Dieu, c'est à dire, ἀπειρία τὸν θεὸν ἀναιρεῖ.

3. ἀπειρίαν τὸν θεὸν ἀναιρεῖν καὶ πολυθεότητα ἀθεότητα εἶναι.
Image of the passage from Bodin's book:

Using the index of Greek words in E.R. Dodds' edition of Proclus' Elements of Theology (1963; rpt. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2004), I can't locate the quotation. Dodds doesn't list the words ἀθεότης and πολυθεότης.

Thanks to Jim O'Donnell for some stimulating emails and help with this post.

Monday, April 25, 2016



Goethe, Faust, Part 1, lines 3272-3279 (tr. C.F. MacIntyre):
Why do you sit in these caves and fissures like an owl,
sucking your food from dripping stones
and wet moss like a toad?
A fine and pleasant pastime!
The Doctor still sticks in your bones.
Cannot you understand the new life-energy
this roaming in the wasteland has given me?
The same, tr. Walter Kaufman:
And now, why must you sit like an old owl
In caves and rocky clefts, and scowl?
From soggy moss and dripping stones you lap your food
Just like a toad, and sit and brood.
A fair, sweet way to pass the time!
Still steeped in your doctoral slime!
How this sojourn in the wilderness
Renews my vital force, you cannot guess.
The German:
Was hast du da in Höhlen, Felsenritzen
Dich wie ein Schuhu zu versitzen?
Was schlurfst aus dumpfem Moos und triefendem Gestein
Wie eine Kröte Nahrung ein?        3275
Ein schöner, süßer Zeitvertreib!
Dir steckt der Doktor noch im Leib.
Verstehst du, was für neue Lebenskraft
Mir dieser Wandel in der Öde schafft?


The Growth of the Mind

Philemon, fragment 103 (my translation):
I myself have heard these (philosophers), and mind, my good fellow, doesn't grow spontaneously for men, like thyme in a field; wits grow, they say, always a little at a time, from speaking a bit and listening to others and contemplating.

ἤκουσα τούτων αὐτός, οὐδὲ φύεται
αὐτόματον ἀνθρώποισιν, ὦ βέλτιστε, νοῦς
ὥσπερ ἐν ἀγρῷ θύμος· ἐκ δὲ τοῦ λέγειν τι καὶ
ἑτέρων ἀκούειν καὶ θεωρῆσαι ˘¯
κατὰ μικρὸν ἀεί, φασί, φύονται φρένες.
Text and apparatus from R. Kassel and C. Austin, edd., Poetae Comici Graeci, Vol. VII: Menecrates-Xenophon (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1989), p. 283:



John Donne (1572-1631), Meditation XVII:
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
Richard Jenkyns, Virgil's Experience. Nature and History: Times, Names, and Places (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 3:
Every man is an island, entire of himself; an island, however, which is part of an immense archipelago encompassing innumerable specks of land, each with its own shape and pattern, its distinct configuration of rock and inlet, yet all ruffled by the same breezes, fretted by the same unceasing seas. The historian is a species of surveyor or cartographer; his task is to map these territories.


A Strange Collection

Robert Parker, Polytheism and Society at Athens (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 19:
[N]one of the gods commonly found in or near Greek houses is straightforwardly represented in human form. Hestia is the hearth, Zeus Ktesios a pot, Apollo Aguieus a pillar, Hermes a block with head and phallus; Zeus Herkeios had an altar, but was perhaps not further represented. A strange collection they would make, lined up in a row!

Sunday, April 24, 2016



Homer, Odyssey 8.248-249 (tr. Richmond Lattimore):
And always the feast is dear to us, and the lyre and dances
and changes of clothing and our hot baths and beds.

αἰεὶ δ' ἡμῖν δαίς τε φίλη κίθαρις τε χοροί τε
εἵματά τ' ἐξημοιβὰ λοετρά τε θερμὰ καὶ εὐναί.
J.B. Hainsworth ad loc.:
These lines naturally attracted the animadversions of the censorious, e.g. Heracleides Ponticus (ap. schol. Od. xiii 119) συνειδότας γὰρ ἑαυτοῖς φιληδονίαν καὶ ἀπολαυστικὸν τρόπον ..., Hor. Epp. i 2 28-9 'sponsi Penelopae, nebulones, Alcinoique | in cute curanda plus aequo operata iuventus'. But the lines merely summarize the delights of a society at peace...


Wisdom as a Collection of Platitudes

Norman Douglas (1868-1952), South Wind, chapter 13 (ellipsis in original):
"What did he say?" asked Denis.

"The old teacher? Let me see....He said: do not be discomposed by the opinions of inept persons. Do not swim with the crowd. They who are all things to their neighbours, cease to be anything to themselves. Even a diamond can have too many facets. Avoid the attrition of vulgar minds; keep your edges intact. He also said: A man can protect himself with fists or sword. But his best weapon is his intellect. A weapon must be forged in the fire. The fire, in our case, is tribulation. It must also be kept untarnished. If the mind is clean, the body can take care of itself. He said: delve deeply; not too deeply into the past, for it may make you derivative; nor yet into yourself—it will make you introspective. Delve into the living world and strive to bind yourself to its movement by a chain of your own welding. Once that contact is established, you are unassailable. Externalize yourself! He told me many things of this kind. You think I was consoled by his words? Not in the slightest degree. I was annoyed. It struck me, at the moment, as quite ordinary advice. In fact, I thought him rather a hypocrite; anybody could have spoken as he did! I was so disappointed that I went to him next day and told him frankly what I thought of his counsel. He said—do you know what he said?"

"I cannot even guess."

"He said: 'What is all wisdom save a collection of platitudes? Take fifty of our current proverbial sayings—they are so trite, so threadbare, that we can hardly bring our lips to utter them. None the less they embody the concentrated experience of the race, and the man who orders his life according to their teaching cannot go far wrong. How easy that seems! Has any one ever done so? Never. Has any man ever attained to inner harmony by pondering the experience of others? Not since the world began! He must pass through the fire.'"

"I had no teacher like that," observed Denis. "He must have been a man of the right kind."

"Oh, he meant well, the old rascal," replied the Count with a curious little smile.


The Lucky Reader and the Ideal Library

Italo Calvino (1923-1985), Why Read the Classics? tr. Martin McLaughlin (New York: Vintage Books, 2000), pp. 7-8:
Of course, hypothetically the lucky reader may exist who can dedicate the 'reading time' of his or her days solely to Lucretius, Lucian, Montaigne, Erasmus, Quevedo, Marlowe, the Discourse on Method, Goethe's Wilhelm Meister, Coleridge, Ruskin, Proust and Valéry, with the occasional sortie into Murasaki or the Icelandic Sagas. And presumably that person can do all this without having to write reviews of the latest reprint, submit articles in the pursuit of a university chair, or send in work for a publisher with an imminent deadline. For this regime to continue without any contamination, the lucky person would have to avoid reading the newspapers, and never be tempted by the latest novel or the most recent sociological survey. But it remains to be seen to what extent such rigour could be justified or even found useful. The contemporary world may be banal and stultifying, but it is always the context in which we have to place ourselves to look either backwards or forwards. In order to read the classics, you have to establish where exactly you are reading them 'from', otherwise both the reader and the text tend to drift in a timeless haze. So what we can say is that the person who derives maximum benefit from a reading of the classics is the one who skilfully alternates classic readings with calibrated doses of contemporary material.
Id., p. 9:
All that can be done is for each one of us to invent our own ideal library of our classics; and I would say that one half of it should consist of books we have read and that have meant something for us, and the other half of books which we intend to read and which we suppose might mean something to us. We should also leave a section of empty spaces for surprises and chance discoveries.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?