Archive for the ‘Plutarch’ Category
χαρίεντος ἀνδρός, ὦ Σόσσιε Σενεκίων, καὶ φιλανθρώπου λόγον ἔχουσι Ῥωμαῖοι διὰ στόματος, ὅστις ἦν ὁ εἰπών, ἐπὶ μόνος ἐδείπνησεν, “βεβρωκέναι, μὴ δεδειπνηκέναι σήμερον”, ὡς τοῦ δείπνου κοινωνίαν καὶ φιλοφροσύνην ἐφηδύνουσαν ἀεὶ ποθοῦντος.
Sossius Senecio, the Romans keep quoting the words of a charming and kind-hearted man who said, when he had dined alone, ‘I have eaten, but I have not dined today’ – since a dinner always needs sociability and friendliness as its seasoning.
ὁ μέντοι πρῶτος ἐκ τοῦ γένους Κικέρων ἐπονομασθεὶς ἄξιος λόγου δοκεῖ γενέσθαι διὸ τὴν ἐπίκλησιν οὐκ ἀπέρριψαν οἱ μετ’ αὐτόν, ἀλλ’ ἠσπάσαντο, καίπερ ὑπὸ πολλῶν χλευαζομένην. κίκερ γὰρ οἱ Λατῖνοι τὸν ἐρέβινθον καλοῦσι, κἀκεῖνος ἐν τῷ πέρατι τῆς ῥινὸς διαστολὴν ὡς ἔοικεν ἀμβλεῖαν εἶχεν ὥσπερ ἐρεβίνθου διαφυήν, ἀφ’ ἧς ἐκτήσατο τὴν ἐπωνυμίαν. αὐτός γε μὴν Κικέρων, ὑπὲρ οὗ τάδε γέγραπται, τῶν φίλων αὐτὸν οἰομένων δεῖν, ὅτε πρῶτον ἀρχὴν μετῄει καὶ πολιτείας ἥπτετο, φυγεῖν τοὔνομα καὶ μεταθέσθαι, λέγεται νεανιευσάμενος εἰπεῖν, ὡς ἀγωνιεῖται τὸν Κικέρωνα τῶν Σκαύρων καὶ τῶν Κάτλων ἐνδοξότερον ἀποδεῖξαι.
The first member of the family who had the nickname ‘Cicero’ seems to have been worthy of note, because his descendants did not cast off the nickname, but were fond of it, even though it was ridiculed by many people. For Latin speakers call the chickpea ‘cicer’, and that ancestor, it seems, had a slight notch in the end of his nose, like the cleft in a chickpea, so from this he acquired the nickname. And when Cicero (the one about whom I am writing this biography) first began his public life and took up public office, his friends thought that he ought to drop or change his name, but he is said to have said, with youthful high spirits, that he would strive to make the name Cicero more renowned than Scaurus ['Bulging-ankles'] and Catulus ['Puppy'].
Is reading about women better than sleeping with them? (This passage might not be entirely without irony.)
τίς δ’ ἂν ἡσθείη συναναπαυσάμενος τῇ καλλίστῃ γυναικὶ μᾶλλον ἢ προσαγρυπνήσας οἷς γέγραφε περὶ Πανθείας Ξενοφῶν ἢ περὶ Τιμοκλείας Ἀριστόβουλος ἢ Θήβης Θεόπομπος;
Who would take more pleasure in sleeping with the most beautiful woman than in sitting up with what Xenophon wrote about Pantheia, or Aristobulus about Timocleia, or Theopompus about Thebe?
Caesar’s famous saying, as carried (in Latin) on placards in his triumphal procession. Plutarch gives a Greek version; Appian (Civil Wars 2.91) likewise says it was sent in a letter, while Dio Cassius (42.48) also alludes to it.
Φαρνάκην δὲ νικήσας τὸν Ποντικὸν ἐξ ἐφόδου πρὸς τοὺς φίλους ἔγραψεν· “ἦλθον, εἶδον, ἐνίκησα.”
After conquering Pharnaces of Pontus at the first assault, he wrote to his friends, ‘I came, I saw, I conquered.’
ἀλλ’ ὥσπερ ἡ παρ’ ἡμῖν ἔχει γῆ κόλπους βαθεῖς καὶ μεγάλους, ἕνα μὲν ἐνταῦθα διὰ στηλῶν Ἡρακλείων ἀναχεόμενον εἴσω πρὸς ἡμᾶς ἔξω δὲ τὸν Κάσπιον καὶ τοὺς περὶ τὴν Ἐρυθρὰν θάλατταν, οὕτως βάθη ταῦτα τῆς σελήνης ἐστὶ καὶ κοιλώματα.
But just as our Earth has large, deep gulfs, one here, pouring in towards us through the Pillars of Hercules, and the Caspian sea outside and the gulfs round the Erythraean sea, of the same sort are the deeps and hollows of the Moon.
Soclarus quotes a brief snippet of a hymn to Aphrodite.
καὶ ἡμᾶς οὔπω παντάπασιν ἡ Ἀφροδίτη πέφευγεν, ἀλλὰ καὶ προσευχόμεθα δήπουθεν αὐτῇ λέγοντες ἐν τοῖς τῶν θεῶν ὕμνοις·
ἀνάβαλλ’ ἄνω τὸ γῆρας,
ὦ καλὰ Ἀφροδίτα.
And not yet has Aphrodite totally fled from us. But we pray to her, I suppose, speaking in the words of the hymns to the gods: “Put off old age, o beautiful Aphrodite!”
Aesop quotes a riddling verse about the aulos which Phrygians make from asses’ bones, and which make a better sound than the fawns’ bones which the Phrygians used to use:
διὸ καὶ Κλεοβουλίνη πρὸς τὸν Φρύγιον αὐλὸν ᾐνίξατο·
κνήμῃ νεκρὸς ὄνος με κερασφόρῳ οὖας ἔκρουσεν.
ὥστε θαυμάζειν τὸν ὄνον εἰ παχύτατος καὶ ἀμουσότατος ὢν τἄλλα λεπτότατον καὶ μουσικώτατον ὀστέον παρέχεται.
For this reason Cleobulina told a riddle on the Phrygian aulos:
“With its horn-bearing shin a dead donkey struck me on the ear.”
So one is amazed that the ass – being in other respects most dense and unmusical – provides us with a bone that is most refined and musical.
(The verse is rather corrupt in the manuscripts: I quote the restored version from Babbitt’s Loeb edition.)
Σεμίραμις δὲ ἑαυτῇ κατασκευάσασα τάφον ἐπέγραψεν “ὅστις ἂν χρημάτων δεηθῇ βασιλεύς, διελόντα τὸ μνημεῖον ὅσα βούλεται λαβεῖν.” Δαρεῖος οὖν διελὼν χρήματα μὲν οὐχ εὗρε, γράμμασι δὲ ἑτέροις ἐνέτυχε τάδε φράζουσιν· “εἰ μὴ κακὸς ἦσθ’ ἀνὴρ καὶ χρημάτων ἄπληστος, οὐκ ἂν νεκρῶν θήκας ἐκίνεις.”
Semiramis built a tomb for herself and wrote upon it, “Any king who is short of treasures, let him break into the monument and take as much as he desires.” So Darius broke in but did not find treasures; he came across another inscription which made the following declaration: “If you were not a wicked person with an insatiable desire for treasure, you would not disturb the repositories of the dead.”
Just a fragment, so it’s difficult to know what the context is – but quoted by Stobaeus from a work κατὰ πλούτου.
οὐδέποτε λιμὸς ἐγέννησε μοιχείαν, οὐδέποτε ἀπορία χρημάτων ἀσωτίαν. βραχεῖά τίς ἐστι σωφροσύνη τὸ πενητεύειν, ὀλίγη τις εὐνομία τὸ ἀπορεῖσθαι.
Never did hunger bring forth adultery, never did lack of money bring forth profligacy. Being poor is a humble kind of temperance, lacking money is a small kind of obedience to the law.
Plutarch is writing to his wife after hearing of his two-year-old daughter’s death.
ὃν ἔπεμψας ἀπαγγελοῦντα περὶ τῆς τοῦ παιδίου τελευτῆς ἔοικε διημαρτηκέναι καθ’ ὁδὸν εἰς Ἀθήνας πορευόμενος· ἐγὼ δὲ εἰς Τάναγραν ἐλθὼν ἐπυθόμην παρὰ τῆς θυγατριδῆς. τὰ μὲν οὖν περὶ τὴν ταφὴν ἤδη νομίζω γεγονέναι, γεγονότα δὲ ἐχέτω ὥς σοι μέλλει καὶ νῦν ἀλυπότατα καὶ πρὸς τὸ λοιπὸν ἕξειν.
The man you sent to tell me about the death of our little child seems to have missed me as he was travelling to Athens; but when I came to Tanagra I found out about it from my granddaughter. So I think her burial will already have happened – and I hope it has happened in such a way as to be least painful to you, both now and in the future.