aleator classicus

Reading at Random in Classical Literature

Alciphron, Rustic Letters 3

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Alciphron‘s fictitious letters make for intriguing reading. In this one a farmer writes to a friend to ask for urgent assistance.

Ἀμνίων Φιλομόσχῳ.

ἀπέκειρεν ἡμῶν ἡ χάλαζα βαρέως ἐμπεσοῦσα τὰ λήια, καὶ λιμοῦ φάρμακον οὐδέν. ὠνεῖσθαι δὲ ἡμῖν ἐπακτοὺς πυροὺς οὐχ οἷόν τε διὰ σπάνιν κέρματων. ἔστι δὲ σοί, ὡς ἀκούω, τῆς πέρυσιν εὐετηρίας λείψανα. δάνεισον οὖν μοι μεδίμνους εἴκοσιν, ὡς ἂν ἔχοιμι σώζεσθαι αὐτὸς καὶ ἡ γυνὴ καὶ τὰ παιδιά. καρπῶν δὲ εὐφορίας γενομένης ἐκτίσομεν αὐτὸ τὸ μέτρον καὶ λώϊον, ἐάν τις ἀφθονία γένηται. μὴ δὲ περιίδῃς ἀγαθοὺς γείτονας εἰς στενὸν τοῦ καιροῦ φθειρομένους.

Amnion [‘Mr Lamb’] to Philomoschus [‘Mr Lovecalf’].

The heavy fall of hail has sheared off our standing crops, and we have no remedy against famine. It’s not possible for us to buy imported wheat, because of our lack of money. But you, I hear, have something left of last year’s good harvest. So please lend me twenty bushels, so that I can have a way of saving myself and my wife and children. And when there’s a year of productive harvest I’ll pay you back the same amount and more, if there is plenty. Don’t turn a blind eye to good neighbours who are perishing in straitened times!

The ‘bushel’ (medimnos) is equivalent to about 58 litres, if you were wondering!

Written by aleatorclassicus

November 15, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Alciphron

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