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Archive for July 2011

Martial, Epigrams 7.98

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The perils of rampant consumerism. Literally a one-liner (a hexameter)!

omnia, Castor, emis: sic fiet ut omnia vendas.

You buy everything, Castor. This way you’ll end up selling everything!

Written by aleatorclassicus

July 29, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Martial

Aesop, The Trodden-on Snake and Zeus (Chambry 291)

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ὄφις ὑπὸ πολλῶν πατούμενος ἀνθρώπων τῷ Διὶ ἐνετύγχανε περὶ τούτου. ὁ δὲ Ζεὺς πρὸς αὐτὸν εἶπεν· “ἀλλ’ εἰ τὸν πρότερόν σε πατήσαντα ἔπληξας, οὐκ ἂν ὁ δεύτερος ἐπεχείρησε τοῦτο ποιῆσαι.”

ὁ λόγος δηλοῖ ὅτι οἱ τοῖς πρώτοις ἐπιβαίνουσιν ἀνθιστάμενοι τοῖς ἄλλοις φοβεροὶ γίνονταί.

A snake who had been trodden on by many people went and appealed to Zeus about the matter. Zeus told him: ‘But if you had struck the first one who trod on you, the second would not have attempted to do the same thing.’

The story shows that people who stand up to those who first make an attack become formidable to the others.

Written by aleatorclassicus

July 28, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Aesop

Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.107-112

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The Golden Age, when crops grew spontaneously.

ver erat aeternum, placidique tepentibus auris
mulcebant zephyri natos sine semine flores;
mox etiam fruges tellus inarata ferebat,
nec renovatus ager gravidis canebat aristis;
flumina iam lactis, iam flumina nectaris ibant,
flavaque de viridi stillabant ilice mella.

It was eternal spring, and with warm breezes the gentle zephyrs caressed flowers born without seed. Soon the ground, unploughed, even began to bring forth crops, and the field, without being renewed, resounded with the heavy ears of corn. Rivers flowed now with milk, now with nectar, and yellow honey trickled from the green holm-oak.

Written by aleatorclassicus

July 27, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Ovid

Alcaeus, fr. 364

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ἀργάλεον Πενία κάκον ἄσχετον, ἂ μέγαν
δάμνα λᾶον Ἀμαχανίᾳ σὺν ἀδελφέα.

Poverty is a troublesome thing, an unmanageable evil; with her sister Hardship she subdues a great people.

Written by aleatorclassicus

July 26, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Alcaeus

Juvenal, Satires 6.347-8

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Perhaps the most famous quotation from Juvenal, most often applied today to the kind of corruption in high places which has been filling the UK news in recent weeks. But in its rather less high-minded context in Juvenal it concerns an eyebrow-raising way of dealing with your unfaithful wife…

audio quid veteres olim moneatis amici,
“pone seram, cohibe.” sed quis custodiet ipsos
custodes? cauta est et ab illis incipit uxor.

I listen to the advice you’ve long been giving me, old friends: ‘Put a lock on! Keep her confined!’ But who will guard the guards themselves? The wife has made provisions and starts with them!

Written by aleatorclassicus

July 25, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Juvenal

Suetonius, The Deified Augustus 25.4

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A favourite saying of Augustus, according to Suetonius.

σπεῦδε βραδέως.

More haste, less speed.

Written by aleatorclassicus

July 24, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Suetonius

Sallust, Catiline’s War 15.1-2

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Watch out for young Lotharios; they’ll probably end up trying to overthrow the Republic…

iam primum adulescens Catilina multa nefanda stupra fecerat, cum virgine nobili, cum sacerdote Vestae, alia huiusce modi contra ius fasque. postremo captus amore Aureliae Orestillae, cuius praeter formam nihil umquam bonus laudavit, quod ea nubere illi dubitabat timens privignum adulta aetate, pro certo creditur necato filio vacuam domum scelestis nuptiis fecisse.

Already when he was a youth Catiline had committed many unspeakable debaucheries – with a noble maiden, with a priestess of Vesta, and other affairs of this sort, contrary to the law and the dictates of the gods. Finally he was seized by love for Aurelia Orestilla, whom no good man ever praised for anything but her beauty. Because she hesitated to marry him, being afraid of his stepson (who had reached adulthood), it is believed for certain that he made the house empty for his wicked marriage by killing this son. 

Written by aleatorclassicus

July 23, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Sallust

Heraclitus (the Allegorist), Homeric Problems 12.3-5

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Heraclitus outlines the theory of the ‘music of the spheres’, which he has just claimed Homer knew about and alluded to in the Iliad.

εἰσὶ γὰρ, εἰσί τινες οὐράνιοι μεθ’ ἁρμονίας ἐμμελοῦς ἦχοι κατὰ τὴν ἀίδιον φορὰν ἀποψαλλόμενοι, μάλιστα δὲ τῆς ἡλιακῆς περιόδου συντόνως φερομένης. οὐ γὰρ δήπου ῥάβδῳ μὲν ὑγρᾷ πλήξας τις εἰκῇ τὸν ἀέρα καὶ λίθον ἀπὸ σφενδόνης ἀφεὶς ῥοίζους ἀποτελεῖ καὶ συριγμὸν οὕτω βαρύφθογγον, τηλικούτων δὲ σωμάτων ἠ κυκλοπόρος βία δρόμοις ἀπ’ ἀνατολῆς εἰς δύσιν ἁρματηλατουμένη μεθ’ ἡσυχίας τὸν σφοδρὸν ὁδοιπορεῖ δρόμον. τούτους δὲ τοὺς διηνεκῶς ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ τελουμένους φθόγγους ἀγνοοῦμεν ἢ διὰ τὴν ἀπὸ πρώτης γονῆς συνήθειαν ἐνδελεχῶς ἐνοικοῦσαν ἡμῖν, ἢ διὰ τὴν ἄμετρον ὑπερβολὴν τοῦ διαστήματος ἐκλυομένου τοῦ ψόφου τῷ διείργοντι μέτρῳ.

For there are – yes there are – certain celestial sounds, accompanied by tuneful concords which are produced by the [spheres’] everlasting motion, especially when the sun’s orbit is more taut. Now when one beats the air at random with a pliant stick, or throws a stone from a sling, it produces whirring sounds and a loud-twanging whistling; the force of the circular movement of such massive bodies, as it drives its course from rising to setting, does not make its vast journey in silence. But we are unaware of these sounds which are produced perpetually in the heavens, either because of our being accustomed to them continuously from the moment of our birth, or because of the measureless expanse of the distance, which causes the sound to be broken up in the intervening span.

Written by aleatorclassicus

July 22, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Ennius, Annals 1.102-3

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Romulus threatens to kill Remus for mocking him and leaping over his wall.

non pol homo quisquam faciet impune animatus
hoc quod tu: nam mi calido dabis sanguine poenas.

No man alive will do with impunity this thing which you have done. For you will make me recompense with your warm blood.

Written by aleatorclassicus

July 21, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Ennius

Sappho, fr. 130

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Ἔρος δηὖτέ μ’ ὀ λυσιμέλης δόνει,
γλυκύπικρον ἀμάχανον ὄρπετον.

Love, that loosener of limbs, a bitter-sweet, irresistible creature, is agitating me again.

Written by aleatorclassicus

July 20, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Sappho