aleator classicus

Reading at Random in Classical Literature

Archive for March 2011

Plutarch, Against Wealth fr.151

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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.

Written by aleatorclassicus

March 31, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Plutarch

Ampelius, Aide-mémoire 10

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I’ve just come across this delightful little book, care of Bill Thayer’s wonderful site of Latin texts. It’s a nice summary of stuff the Roman schoolboy ought to know, and it would be lovely to have a full English translation some day! Here’s the brief section 10, On Empires. The Romans are, of course, the culmination of history so far.

imperia ab ineunte aevi memoria fuerunt septem. primi rerum potiti sunt Assyrii, deinde Medi, postea Persae, tum Lacedaemonii, dein Athenienses; post hos inde Macedones: sic deinde Romani.

The Empires, from as far back as our memory goes, have been seven. The first people to be the masters of affairs were the Assyrians, then the Medes, followed by the Persians, then the Lacedaemonians [Spartans], and next the Athenians. After them came the Macedonians, and then likewise the Romans.

Written by aleatorclassicus

March 30, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Ampelius

Aristophanes, Peace 1264

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Today’s conversational Greek lesson: how to encourage a speedy departure.

χωρῶμεν, ὦ τᾶν, ἐκποδών.

Let’s get out of here, mate!

Written by aleatorclassicus

March 29, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Aristophanes

Suetonius, Life of Terence 4

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The comic playwright died on his way back from a visit to Greece. Suetonius quotes a poetic tribute by Volcatius Sedigitus.

post editas comoedias nondum quintum atque vicesimum egressus annum, causa vitandae opinionis qua videbatur aliena pro suis edere, seu percipiendi Graecorum instituta moresque, quos non perinde exprimeret in scriptis, egressus est neque amplius rediit. de morte eius Vulcatius sic tradit:

sed ut Afer populo sex dedit comoedias,
iter hinc in Asiam fecit, et navem ut semel
conscendit, visus numquam est; sic vita vacat.

After publishing his comedies before he had passed his twenty-fifth year, he departed from Rome – either to avoid gossip which claimed he was publishing others’ work as his own, or else to gain knowledge of the manners and customs of the Greeks, which he thought he had not yet properly put across in his writings – and he never again returned. Concerning his death Vulcatius has left us these lines:

But when [Terentius] Afer had produced six comedies,
he voyaged hence to Africa. When once he had embarked,
he was never again seen; so did he leave life.

Written by aleatorclassicus

March 28, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Palladas, AP 9.489

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An epigram from the Greek Anthology.

γραμματικοῦ θυγάτηρ ἔτεκεν φιλότητι μιγεῖσα
   παιδίον ἀρσενικόν, θηλυκόν, οὐδέτερον.


A scholar’s daughter, ‘having mingled in love’, gave birth to a child who was masculine, feminine and neuter.

There’s an obvious joke in here, but scholars have argued as to whether there’s further subtlety which we fail to understand – is it perhaps something to do with the child being hermaphrodite? I wonder whether it’s inspired by παιδίον being a neuter word.

‘Having mingled in love’ is a phrase from epic poetry – appropriate because the grammatikos taught Homer.

Written by aleatorclassicus

March 27, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Palladas