aleator classicus

Reading at Random in Classical Literature

Cicero, On the ends of Good and Evil 2.35

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Cicero attacks the ‘hedonistic’ pleasures of Epicureans: it was not for achievements in the realm of pleasure that Rome’s greatest heroes were praised!

lege laudationes, Torquate, non eorum qui sunt ab Homero laudati, non Cyri, non Agesilai, non Aristidi aut Themistocli, non Philippi aut Alexandri; lege nostrorum hominum, lege vestrae familiae. neminem videbis ita laudatum ut artifex callidus comparandarum voluptatum diceretur. non elogia monumentorum id significant, velut hoc ad portam: ‘hunc unum plurimae consentiunt gentes populi primarium fuisse virum.’ idne consensisse de Calatino plurimas gentes arbitramur, primarium populi fuisse quod praestantissimus fuisset in conficiendis voluptatibus?

Torquatus, read panegyrics not of those who were praised by Homer, not of Cyrus, Agesilaus, Aristides or Themistocles, not of Philip or Alexander, but read those of our men, of your family! You will see that no one has been praised in such a way that he was dubbed an ingenious master of the art of procuring pleasures. The epitaphs on tombs do not have that meaning – such as this one by the gate: ‘Very many nations agree that this one man was the foremost of his people.’ Do we think that very many nations agreed on this opinion of Calatinus – that he was the foremost of his people – because he was the most outstanding in providing pleasures?

There’s a textual problem at the beginning of the epitaph: the manuscripts have uno cum which doesn’t make much sense. I’ve gone with Madvig’s emendation. There’s also a problem of interpretation: does gentes mean ‘nations’ (as I translate here) or does it refer to the ‘clans’ of Rome?

Written by aleatorclassicus

August 1, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Cicero

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