Wednesday, October 22, 2014


No Way to Pay and Promotion

Peter Levi (1931-2000), The Hill of Kronos (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1981), p. 31:
I remember as a theological student going to see Sir Maurice Bowra in Oxford, when I knew I was destined to teach there. I wanted to know how to behave, what sort of teacher to be. God knows what I wanted. He asked what my main interests were. I said literature, and within literature rather Greek than Latin, though both, and rather poetry than prose, but also Greek vase-painting. It came out in a sort of stutter. 'I see,' he said. 'Pots and poetry. Like me. Pots and poetry. No way to pay and promotion. No way to pay and promotion.'
Related post: The Value of Studying Greek.



Michael Oakeshott (1901-1990), Notebooks, 1922-86 (Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2014), pp. 430-431:
There was a species of mischievous sprite which succeeded on the death of Pan as the representation of disorder in the world, of minor evil. They could be placated with food (a saucer of milk or a cake), but only temporarily. But they were capable of no final destructiveness.

There is a story of them in Corfu (where they are called Kallikantzaroi): during the ten days before Good Friday they are all engaged in the underworld upon the task of sawing through the giant plane-tree whose trunk upholds the world. Every year they almost succeed, but the cry 'Christ is Risen' saves us all by restoring the tree & driving the malicious spirits up into the world again for another year.
Arthur Bernard Cook (1868-1952), Zeus: A Study in Ancient Religion, Vol. II, Part I (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1925), p. 56, n. 2:
Attention may here be drawn to the various accounts of the Kallikantzaroi given by the modern Greeks. These are summarised as follows by J.C. Lawson Modern Greek Folklore and Ancient Greek Religion Cambridge 1910 p. 194: 'The Callicantzari appear only during the δωδεκαήμερον or "period of twelve days" between Christmas and Epiphany1. (1Leo Allatius (De quor. Graec. opinat. cap. ix.) makes the period a week only, ending on New Year's Day.) The rest of the year they live in the lower world, and occupy themselves in trying to gnaw through or cut down the great tree (or in other accounts the one or more columns) on which the world rests. Each Christmas they have nearly completed their task, when the time comes for their appearance in the upper world, and during their twelve days' absence, the supports of the world are made whole again.' Details will be found in N.G. Polites Παραδόσεις Athens 1904 i.331 no. 590 from Bourboura in Kynouria (The Lykokatzaraioi come from below the earth. All the time they are hewing away with their axes at the tree which supports the earth (τὸ δέντρο ποῦ βαστάει τὴ γῆς). They chop and chop till a tiny piece no bigger than a thread remains uncut, and they say 'Come, let us be off; it will fall of itself.' They return after the Baptism and find the tree entire, absolutely whole. And again they chop, and again they come, and so continually do they busy themselves), i.347 no. 612 from Naupaktos (...the Pagan Ones begin hewing with their teeth and with axes the three columns which support the world (τοῖς τρεῖς κολόνναις, ποῦ βασττᾶν τὸν κόσμο), to hurl them down, that the world may collapse. Etc.), i.352 no. 621 from Lasta in the deme Mylaon, Gortynia (The earth is supported below by one column, which has four other pillars (μιὰ κολόννα, ποῦ ἔχει τέσσερους ἄλλους στύλους [infra § 3 (a) iii (κ)]). There the Kolikantzaroi are in bondage for ever and labour at cutting the column to make the earth fall. Etc.), i.354 no. 622 from Demetsana in Gortynia (The Kallikantzaroi are naked, apart from beards and moustaches, and in size resemble a child of ten, some being a little taller, others a little shorter. They dwell in the Underworld, where there are three wooden columns supporting the whole earth (ἐκεῖ εἶναι τρεῖς ξύλιναις κολόνναις καὶ κρατοῦν ὅλην τὴν γῆ). The Kalikantzaraioi want to cut the columns and overthrow the world, and they are perpetually getting to work with their axes and chopping the three columns. Etc.), i.335 no. 623 from Gralista in the deme Ithome, Karditsa (The Karkantsaloi have their dwelling in Hades, and gnaw with their teeth the pillars which support the sky, that it may fall and crush the earth (κὶ ῥουκανοῦν μὶ τὰ δόντια τους τὰ στύλια ἀπ' βαστοῦν τοὺν οὐρανὸ νὰ μὴν πέσῃ κὶ πλεκώσῃ τὴ γῆ). They gnaw and gnaw and do their utmost to cut the pillars. Etc.). See further N.G. Polites Μελέτη ἐπὶ τοῦ βίου τῶν Νεωτέρων Ἑλλήνων Athens 1871 i.26 and 69, J-N. Svoronos in the Journ. Intern. d'Arch. Num. 1912 xiv.252 and 280. It will be observed that, whereas most of these versions make the tree (no. 590) or columns (nos. 612, 621, 622) support the earth, one at least (no. 623) makes the pillars support the sky.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014



Homer, Odyssey 17.485–487 (tr. George E. Dimock):
And the gods do, in the guise of strangers from afar, put on all manner of shapes, and visit the cities, beholding the violence and the righteousness of men.

καί τε θεοὶ ξείνοισιν ἐοικότες ἀλλοδαποῖσι,
παντοῖοι τελέθοντες, ἐπιστρωφῶσι πόληας,
ἀνθρώπων ὕβριν τε καὶ εὐνομίην ἐφορῶντες.


Seven Cities

Greek Anthology 16.297 (tr. W.R. Paton):
Seven cities claim to be the root of Homer: Cyme, Smyrna, Chios, Colophon, Pylos, Argos, Athens.

ἑπτὰ ἐριδμαίνουσι πόλεις διὰ ῥίζαν Ὁμήρου,
Κύμη, Σμύρνα, Χίος, Κολοφών, Πύλος, Ἄργος, Ἀθῆναι.
Greek Anthology 16.298 (tr. W.R. Paton):
Seven cities strive for the learned root of Homer: Smyrna, Chios, Colophon, Ithaca, Pylos, Argos, Athens.

ἑπτὰ πόλεις μάρναντο σοφὴν διὰ ῥίζαν Ὁμήρου,
Σμύρνα, Χίος, Κολοφών, Ἰθάκη, Πύλος, Ἄργος, Ἀθῆναι.
In both poems the cities, in asyndeton, fill up a hexameter.

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The Better Part

John Davidson (1857-1909), Sentences and Paragraphs (London: Lawrence & Bullen, 1893), p. 22:
He who dares manfully to lounge and take his leisure, no matter what his calling or what his necessity, often chooses the better part.
Cf. Luke 10:40-42.


Cowardice and Bravery

Homer, Iliad 13.275-291 (Idomeneus to Meriones; tr. Samuel Butler):
I know you for a brave man: you need not tell me. If the best men at the ships were being chosen to go on an ambush — and there is nothing like this for showing what a man is made of; it comes out then who is cowardly and who brave; the coward will change colour at every touch and turn; [280] he is full of fears, and keeps shifting his weight first on one knee and then on the other; his heart beats fast as he thinks of death, and one can hear the chattering of his teeth; whereas the brave man will not change colour nor be [285] frightened on finding himself in ambush, but is all the time longing to go into action — if the best men were being chosen for such a service, no one could make light of your courage nor feats of arms. If you were struck by a dart or smitten in close combat, it would not be from behind, in your neck nor back, [290] but the weapon would hit you in the chest or belly as you were pressing forward to a place in the front ranks.

οἶδ᾽ ἀρετὴν οἷός ἐσσι· τί σε χρὴ ταῦτα λέγεσθαι;        275
εἰ γὰρ νῦν παρὰ νηυσὶ λεγοίμεθα πάντες ἄριστοι
ἐς λόχον, ἔνθα μάλιστ᾽ ἀρετὴ διαείδεται ἀνδρῶν,
ἔνθ᾽ ὅ τε δειλὸς ἀνὴρ ὅς τ᾽ ἄλκιμος ἐξεφαάνθη·
τοῦ μὲν γάρ τε κακοῦ τρέπεται χρὼς ἄλλυδις ἄλλῃ,
οὐδέ οἱ ἀτρέμας ἧσθαι ἐρητύετ᾽ ἐν φρεσὶ θυμός,        280
ἀλλὰ μετοκλάζει καὶ ἐπ᾽ ἀμφοτέρους πόδας ἵζει,
ἐν δέ τέ οἱ κραδίη μεγάλα στέρνοισι πατάσσει
κῆρας ὀϊομένῳ, πάταγος δέ τε γίγνετ᾽ ὀδόντων·
τοῦ δ᾽ ἀγαθοῦ οὔτ᾽ ἂρ τρέπεται χρὼς οὔτέ τι λίην
ταρβεῖ, ἐπειδὰν πρῶτον ἐσίζηται λόχον ἀνδρῶν,        285
ἀρᾶται δὲ τάχιστα μιγήμεναι ἐν δαῒ λυγρῇ·
οὐδέ κεν ἔνθα τεόν γε μένος καὶ χεῖρας ὄνοιτο.
εἴ περ γάρ κε βλεῖο πονεύμενος ἠὲ τυπείης
οὐκ ἂν ἐν αὐχέν᾽ ὄπισθε πέσοι βέλος οὐδ᾽ ἐνὶ νώτῳ,
ἀλλά κεν ἢ στέρνων ἢ νηδύος ἀντιάσειε        290
πρόσσω ἱεμένοιο μετὰ προμάχων ὀαριστύν.
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Monday, October 20, 2014


No Time for Literature

John Davidson (1857-1909), Sentences and Paragraphs (London: Lawrence & Bullen, 1893), pp. 19-20:
People complain nowadays that they have no time for literature, there are so many newspapers to read, every right-thinking person being expected to know daily the current news of the world, not later in the evening than the issue of the "extra special." It is supposed that this is quite a modern excuse for the decay of the reading of literature; and sighs are deeply breathed for the time when "Clarissa Harlowe" was deemed too short, when "Evelina" was voted brilliant, or when nobody found the Waverley Novels tiresome. And yet, since we began to have a prose literature this complaint has always existed. The melancholy Butler, as far back as 1614, puts it thus, speaking of the majority: "if they read a book at any time, 'tis an English chronicle, 'St. Huon of Bordeaux,' 'Amadas de Gaul,' etc., a play-book or some pamphlet of news." The major part of the reading public has been perennially interested in current events, and the man who says he can't find time to read literature because it is a social duty to be acquainted with news, makes a virtue of curiosity, like any Greek frequenter of the Areopagus or Jacobean subscriber to the "Staple of News."
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.


Wine, Pure Wine

Aurelian Townshend (1583-1649), "A Bacchanall," Poems and Masks, ed. E.K. Chambers (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1912), pp. 7-8:
Bacchus, I-acchus, fill our Brains
  As well as Bowls with sprightly strains:
Let Souldiers fight for pay or praise,
  And mony be the Misers wish,
Poor Schollers study all their dayes,
  And Gluttons glory in their dish:
    'Tis wine, pure wine, revives sad souls,
    Therefore give us the cheer in Bowls.
                        Bacchus, I-acchus, &c.

Bacchus, I-acchus, &c.
Let Minions Marshall ev'ry hair,
  Or in a Lovers lock delight,
And Artificiall colours wear,
  We have the Native Red and White:
    'Tis Wine, pure Wine, &c.

Bacchus, I-acchus, &c.
Take Phesant Poults, and calved Sammon,
  Or how to please your pallats think,
Give us a salt West-phalia Gammon,
  Not meat to eat, but meat to drink:
    'Tis Wine, pure Wine, &c.

Bacchus, I-acchus, &c.
Some have the Ptisick, some the Rhume,
  Some have the Palsie, some the Gout,
Some swell with fat, and some consume,
  But they are sound that drink all out:
    'Tis Wine, pure Wine, &c.

Bacchus, I-acchus, &c.
The backward spirit it makes brave,
  That forward which before was dull;
Those grow good fellows that were grave,
  And kindness flows from cups brim full:
    'Tis Wine, pure Wine, &c.

Bacchus, I-acchus, &c.
Some men want Youth, and some want health,
  Some want a Wife and some a Punke,
Some men want wit, and some want wealth,
  But they want nothing that are drunke:
    'Tis Wine, pure Wine, &c.


A Poem by Leo the Philosopher

A poem by Leo the Philosopher (Greek Anthology 15.12; tr. W.R. Paton, with his note):
Thou art kind to me, Fortune, in adorning me with the most sweet restfulness of Epicurus and giving me calm to enjoy it. What need have I of men's activity with all its cares? I desire not wealth, a blind and inconstant friend, nor honours, for the honours of mortals are a feeble dream. Away with thee, murky den of Circe, for I am ashamed, being of heavenly origin, to eat acorns like a beast. I hate the sweet food of the Lotus-eaters that causes men to abandon their country. I reject as my enemy the seductive music of the Sirens, but I pray to gain from God the flower that saves the soul, moly1 that protects from evil doctrines, and stopping my ears securely with wax may I escape the ill inborn impulse. Thus speaking and thus writing may I reach the end of my days.

1 The magic herb of Hom. Od. 10, 305.

Εὖγε Τύχη με ποεῖς, ἀπραγμοσύνῃ μ᾽ Ἐπικούρου
ἡδίστῃ κομέουσα, καὶ ἡσυχίῃ τέρπουσα·
τίπτε δέ μοι χρέος ἀσχολίης πολυκηδέος ἀνδρῶν;
οὐκ ἐθέλω πλοῦτον, τυφλὸν φίλον, ἀλλοπρόσαλλον,
οὐ τιμάς· τιμαὶ δὲ βροτῶν ἀμενηνὸς ὄνειρος.        5
ἔρρε μοι, ὦ Κίρκης δνοφερὸν σπέος· αἰδέομαι γὰρ
οὐράνιος γεγαὼς βαλάνους ἅτε θηρίον ἔσθειν·
μισῶ Λωτοφάγων γλυκερὴν λιπόπατριν ἐδωδήν·
Σειρήνων τε μέλος καταγωγὸν ἀναίνομαι ἐχθρόν·
ἀλλὰ λαβεῖν θεόθεν ψυχοσσόον εὔχομαι ἄνθος,        10
μῶλυ, κακῶν δοξῶν ἀλκτήριον ὦτα δὲ κηρῷ
ἀσφαλέως κλείσας προφυγεῖν γενετήσιον ὁρμήν.
ταῦτα λέγων τε γράφων τε πέρας βιότοιο κιχείην.
The first word of the ninth line is missing an accent in the Loeb Classical library text—The Greek Anthology with an English Translation by W.R. Paton, Vol. V (London: William Heinemann, 1918), p. 118. I don't know if this was corrected in later printings.

There is a more recent edition in L.G. Westerink, "Leo the Philosopher: 'Job' and Other Poems," Illinois Classical Studies 11.1/2 (Spring/Fall 1986) 193-222 (this poem on pp. 199-200, numbered IX).

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Word-for-Word Translation

Aurelian Townshend (1583-1649), "To the Right Honourable, the Lord Cary, Eldest Sonne to the Earle of Monmouth," lines 1-6, in his Poems and Masks, ed. E.K. Chambers (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1912), p. 43:
Verball Translators sticke to the bare Text,
Sometimes so close, the Reader is perplex't,
Finding the words, to finde the wit that sprung
From the first writer in his native tongue.
The spirit of an Authour being fled,
His naked lines looke like a body dead.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.


Lives Unlike Our Own

Victor Davis Hanson, Warfare and Agriculture in Classical Greece, rev. ed. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), pp. 2-3:
It is all too easy for us today to forget these material conditions of the past and thus the critical role of warfare and agriculture in antiquity. Few citizens of the United States have served in an army; almost none—thank God—have killed someone in battle or destroyed the property of an enemy. Our efforts at protection are limited to bars on our windows, electronic alarms, blinking lights, and automatic locks; we are not dependent on armor and weapons over the hearth and the muscular condition of our right arms. Nighttime without streetlights, police cruisers, or a powerful flashlight is full of foreboding and terror—as the panic that follows the occasional urban blackout attests. Only about 1 percent of our population now lives on farms; most of us have no idea how to grow food, build our own house, hitch up a horse, or butcher a pig. An outbreak of food poisoning at the local fast-food franchise causes national scandal. We rarely walk more than a few hundred yards a day. The majority of Americans live in temperature-controlled rooms and approach hysteria when the electricity that powers our ranges, air conditioners, televisions, and washers ceases for a few hours. The lack of running water or phones for more than a day is the stuff of lawsuits against our municipal utilities. Our knowledge of dirty work, physical violence, and the savagery of the natural landscape itself is mostly limited to what we see on television or read in newspapers, magazines, and books; those with muscular physiques owe their impressive anatomy to weight machines, high-tech sneakers, and entertaining videos. And they win such contours without the tears, wounds, scratches, and blisters that routinely accompany the physical effort to plant, prune, harvest, and plow. Instead, we work out in sanitary and often inviting gyms, where cool air, piped-in music, scented towels, and hot showers are prerequisites. The color of our complexion and the smoothness of our skin are integral to this look of fitness, not calluses and disfiguring scars, which for thousands of years were the natural wages of a hard stomach and ample biceps.

How difficult it is, then, to remember that the Greeks not only did things that we would not, but also things that we could not do. How important it is as well to keep in mind that dramatic performances, democracy itself, vase painting, Ionic columns, and bronze statues were the veneer of a culture that at its heart was in an endless war to feed and protect itself from the savageries of humans and nature. In short, we especially of the deskbound academic class who write our histories must remember that the Athenians, the Thebans, and the Argives lived lives centered around farming and fighting, lives so foreign from our own as now to be almost unimaginable.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Argumentum ex Silentio

Strabo 1.2.22 (tr. Horace Leonard Jones):
The fact that he did not mention them is no sign that he did not know about them — he does not mention his own native country, either, nor many other things — but rather would one say that Homer thought the best-known facts were not worth mentioning to those who already knew them.

εἰ δὲ μὴ ἐμνήσθη τούτων, οὐ τοῦτο σημεῖον τοῦ ἀγνοεῖν (οὐδὲ γὰρ τῆς αὐτοῦ πατρίδος ἐμνήσθη οὐδὲ πολλῶν ἄλλων) ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον τὰ λίαν γνώριμα ὄντα φαίη τις ἂν δόξαι μὴ ἄξια μνήμης εἶναι πρὸς τοὺς εἰδότας.


Twelve Gods

Ennius, Annals, Book I, fragment XXXVII (62-63) Vahlen, in Ennianae Poesis Reliquiae, 2nd ed. (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1903), p. 11:
Iuno, Vesta, Minerva, Ceres, Diana, Venus, Mars
Mercurius, Iovis, Neptunus, Vulcanus, Apollo.
This is the earliest example of asyndeton filling hexameters in Latin. Thanks very much to Angelo Mercado for pointing this out to me. I don't have access to Otto Skutsch's edition of Ennius' Annals.

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What I Hate about Amazon

What a deal! Otto Skutsch's edition of Ennius' Annals for only $26.99 in paperback!

But click on the $26.99 price and what appears? Ethel Mary Steuart's edition:

Amazon needs to hire some librarians.

Related post: Amazon Books.

Friday, October 17, 2014


De Pudendis Antiquitatis Opuscula Harvardiana

Andrew Garrett and Leslie Kurke, "Pudenda Asiae Minoris," Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 96 (1994) 75-83 (at 75, n. 1):
These studies are also the latest de pudendis antiquitatis opuscula Harvardiana, following seminal work by C. Watkins ("La famille indo-européenne de grec ὄρχις: linguistique, poétique, et mythologie," Bulletin del la société de linguistique 70 [1975] 11-25) and other contributions by Watkins ("Latin suppus," Journal of Indo-European Studies 1 [1973] 394-399; "ANOΣTEOΣ ON ΠOΔA TENΔEI," in Étrennes de septantaine ... offerts à Michel Lejeune [Paris 1978 (Études et commentaires 91)] 231-235; "A Greco-Hittite Etymology," in J. Tischler, ed., Serta Indogermanica: Festschrift für Günter Neumann [Innsbruck 1982 (Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft 40)] 455-457) and H.C. Melchert ("Pudenda hethitica," Journal of Cuneiform Studies 35 [1983] 137-145).
Joshua T. Katz, "Testimonia Ritus Italici: Male Genitalia, Solemn Statements, and a New Latin Sound Law," Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 98 (1998) 183-217 (at 183-184, n. 1):
This paper is my contribution to what Andrew Garrett and Leslie Kurke, "Pudenda Asiae Minoris," HSCP 96 (1994) 75 n. 1 call "de pudendis antiquitatis opuscula Harvardiana," which include Calvert Watkins's classic article on the word for 'testicle,' "La famille indo-européenne de grec ὄρχις: linguistique, poétique, et mythologie," BSL 70 (1975) 11-26 ( = Selected Writings, ed. Lisi Oliver [Innsbruck 1994 (Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft 80)] 2.520-535); see also Stephanie W. Jamison's discussion of the meaning of Atharvavedic kákṣa- in 6.127.2 and its associations with muṣká- in "Linguistic and Philological Remarks on some Vedic Body Parts," in Calvert Watkins ed., Studies in Memory of Warren Cowgill (1929-1985): Papers from the Fourth East Coast Indo-European Conference, Cornell University, June 6-9, 1985 (Berlin 1987 [Studies in Indo-European Language and Culture N.S. 3]) 85-88 and passim.
I don't know if there have been any additions to this unofficial series since 1998. I should have these opuscula privately printed, to add to my collection of curiosa.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Asyndeton Filling Hexameters in Corippus

Thanks very much to Ethan Osten for drawing my attention to Corippus, Iohannis 1.44-46:
quis lacrimas, clades, praedas, incendia, mortes,
insidias, gemitus, tormentum, vincula, raptus
explicet aut miseros possit numerare dolores?
Line 45 is an example of a hexameter consisting entirely of nouns in asyndeton (raptus is of course an accusative plural fourth declension noun here, not a participle). Similar examples (with different parts of speech), also from Corippus' Iohannis, include:

4.222 (where adulter is an adjective, not a noun):
perfídus, infelix, atrox, insulsus, adulter
magnanimus, mitis, sapiens, fortissimus, insons
ardet, anhelat, hiat, pallet, rubet, aestuat, alget
Two more examples, these from Corippus' In Laudem Iustini Minoris:

saltatus, risus, discursus, gaudia, plausus
aesculus, alnus, acer, terebinthus, populus, ornus
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