aleator classicus

Reading at Random in Classical Literature

Alcidamas, Messenian Speech fr.1

leave a comment »

ἐλευθέρους ἀφῆκε πάντας θεός· οὐδένα δοῦλον ἡ φύσις πεποίηκεν.

God let all people go free; nature has made no one a slave.

Written by aleatorclassicus

June 7, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Alcidamas

Pliny the Elder, Natural History 8.36

with one comment

First, apologies for not posting recently! Here’s a quick piece of Pliny to get things moving again.

Megasthenes scribit in India serpentes in tantam magnitudinem adolescere, ut solidos hauriant cervos taurosque, Metrodorus circa Rhyndacum amnem in Ponto, supervolantes ut quamvis alte perniciterque alites haustu raptas absorbeant.

Megasthenes writes that in India snakes grow to such a great size that they swallow stags and bulls whole. Metrodorus writes that in the region of the river Rhyndacus in Pontus they grow to such a size that they catch birds and devour them by swallowing, even if the birds are flying high and swiftly above them.

Written by aleatorclassicus

June 5, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Pliny the Elder

Pindar, Hymns, fr.29

leave a comment »

The opening lines of Pindar’s first hymn.

Ἰσμηνὸν ἢ χρυσαλάκατον Μελίαν
ἢ Κάδμον ἤ Σπαρτῶν ἱερὸν γένος ἀνδρῶν
ἢ τὰν κυανάμπυκα Θήβαν
ἢ τὸ πάντολμον σθένος Ἡρακλέος
ἢ τὰν Διωνύσου πολυγαθέα τιμὰν
ἢ γάμον λευκωλένου Ἁρμονίας

Will it be Ismenus, or golden-spindled Melia, or Cadmus, or the holy race of Sown Men, or Thebe with the purple snood, or Heracles’ all-daring strength, or Dionysus’ joyous honour, or the marriage of white-armed Harmonia, that I shall sing?

Written by aleatorclassicus

January 9, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Pindar

Ovid, Halieutica 1-6

leave a comment »

The 130 lines of this poem survive in a rather corrupt form, and the work may not be by Ovid. Here is the opening of the text as it stands, although it is likely that this is not the original opening, and the meaning of these first lines is not clear.

accepit mundus legem: dedit arma per omnes
admonuitque sui: vitulus sic namque minatur,
qui nondum gerit in tenera iam cornua fronte;
sic dammae fugiunt, pugnant virtute leones
et morsu canis et caudae sic scorpius ictu,
concussisque levis pennis sic evolat ales.

The world has accepted a law. It has given weapons for every creature and has reminded every one of itself. For in this way does the calf make threats even though it does not yet bear horns on its tender forehead; in this way do the deer flee; lions fight with courage, the dog with its bite, the scorpion with a strike of its tail; and the light bird flies away with beats of its wings.

Written by aleatorclassicus

December 30, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Ovid

Homer, Odyssey 6.41-46

leave a comment »

The last few days have been a bit stormy in the UK, so here’s a reminder of calmer weather conditions on Olympus.

ἡ μὲν ἄρ’ ὣς εἰποῦσ’ ἀπέβη γλαυκῶπις Ἀθήνη
Οὔλυμπόνδ’, ὅθι φασὶ θεῶν ἕδος ἀσφαλὲς αἰεὶ
ἔμμεναι. οὔτ’ ἀνέμοισι τινάσσεται οὔτε ποτ’ ὄμβρῳ
δεύεται οὔτε χιὼν ἐπιπίλναται, ἀλλὰ μάλ’ αἴθρη
πέπταται ἀνέφελος, λευκὴ δ’ ἐπιδέδρομεν αἴγλη·
τῷ ἔνι τέρπονται μάκαρες θεοὶ ἤματα πάντα.

Speaking thus, the shining-eyed Athene left for Olympus, where they say is the gods’ seat that stands immovable for ever. It is not shaken by winds, nor is it ever drenched by rain, nor does snow ever come near it; but cloudless clear air surrounds it, and a gleaming white spreads over it. In this place are the blessed gods glad all their days.

Written by aleatorclassicus

December 25, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Homer

Persius, Satires 5.41-46

leave a comment »

Persius feels gratitude and nostalgia for Cornutus’ teaching.

tecum etenim longos memini consumere soles
et tecum primas epulis decerpere noctes.
unum opus et requiem pariter disponimus ambo
atque verecunda laxamus seria mensa.
non equidem hoc dubites, amborum foedere certo
consentire dies et ab uno sidere duci.

With you I remember I ate up long days, and with you I plucked the early part of nights away from feasting. We both arranged our single work and rest in the same way and relaxed our serious business with modest dining. You should have no doubt that the days of us two are in accord, in a sure bond, and are guided by a single constellation.

Written by aleatorclassicus

December 24, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Persius

Lucian, Saturnalia 13

leave a comment »

The first set of rules for the Saturnalia, as dictated by Cronos himself.

μηδένα μηδὲν μήτε ἀγοραῖον μήτε ἴδιον πράττειν ἐντὸς τῆς ἑορτῆς ἢ ὅσα ἐς παιδιὰν καὶ τρυφὴν καὶ θυμηδίαν· ὀψοποιοὶ μόνοι καὶ πεμματουργοὶ ἐνεργοὶ ἔστωσαν. ἰσοτιμία πᾶσιν ἔστω καὶ δούλοις καὶ ἐλευθέροις καὶ πένησι καὶ πλουσίοις. ὀργίζεσθαι ἢ ἀγανακτεῖν ἢ ἀπειλεῖν μηδενὶ ἐξέστω. λογισμοὺς παρὰ τῶν ἐπιμελουμένων Κρονίοις λαμβάνειν μηδὲ τοῦτο ἐξέστω. μηδεὶς τὸν ἄργυρον ἢ τὴν ἐσθῆτα ἐξεταζέτω μηδὲ ἀναγραφέτω ἐν τῇ ἑορτῇ μηδὲ γυμναζέσθω Κρονίοις μηδὲ λόγους ἀσκεῖν ἢ ἐπιδείκνυσθαι, πλὴν εἴ τινες ἀστεῖοι καὶ φαιδροὶ σκῶμμα καὶ παιδιὰν ἐμφαίνοντες.

No one is to do anything, either public or private business, during the festival, except for things to do with play, luxuriousness and rejoicing; only cooks and pastry-chefs may be at work. Let there be equal treatment for all – slaves and free people, paupers and rich people. Let no one be permitted to get angry, to be vexed, or to utter threats. Let it also not be permitted for anyone to audit accounts during the time devoted to Cronus. Let no one inspect or make an inventory of their silver or clothing during the festival, nor take part in athletics during Cronus’ time, nor practise their public speaking, nor put on a show, except for witty and cheery people who present jokes and playfulness.

Written by aleatorclassicus

December 23, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Lucian

Virgil, Aeneid 6.98-101

leave a comment »

talibus ex adyto dictis Cumaea Sibylla
horrendas canit ambages antroque remugit,
obscuris vera involvens: ea frena furenti
concutit et stimulos sub pectore vertit Apollo.

With such words from her sanctuary the Sibyl of Cumae sings her terrifying ambiguities and re-echoes from her cave, wrapping up the truth in obscurity. Apollo agitates her reins as she rages, and turns his spurs beneath her chest.

Written by aleatorclassicus

December 22, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Virgil

Artemidorus, Dream Interpretation 3.66

leave a comment »

ὡρολόγιον πράξεις καὶ ὁρμὰς καὶ κινήσεις και ἐπιβολὰς χρειῶν σημαίνει· πάντα γὰρ πρὸς τὰς ὥρας ἀποβλέποντες οἱ ἄνθρωποι πράσσουσιν.

A sundial signifies deeds, efforts, movements and undertakings of matters. For when people are doing anything they keep an eye on the time.

Written by aleatorclassicus

December 16, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Artemidorus

Quintilian, Training of the Orator 6.3.29

leave a comment »

oratori minime convenit distortus vultus gestusque, quae in mimis rideri solent.

Not at all suitable for an orator is the distortion of face and of gesture; these things, done by actors of farces, are generally a source of laughter.

Written by aleatorclassicus

November 30, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Quintilian