aleator classicus

Reading at Random in Classical Literature

Archive for August 2011

Persius, Satires 1.13-14

leave a comment »

scribimus inclusi, numeros ille, hic pede liber,
grande aliquid, quod pulmo animae praelargus anhelet.

We shut ourselves up and write – this one writes metrically, that one freely in prose – something in the grand style, which a massive pair of lungs will spend all their breath on.

Written by aleatorclassicus

August 30, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Persius

Hyperides, Funeral oration 42

leave a comment »

From a speech in honour of the Athenian war-dead, which survives in fragmentary form on papyrus.

εἰ δὲ γήρως θνητοῦ μὴ μετέσχον, ἀλλ’ εὐδοξίαν ἀγήρατον εἰλήφασιν, εὐδαίμονές τε γεγόνασι κατὰ πάντα.

Although they had no share in mortal old age, still they have received an ageless fame, and in every way they have become happy.

Compare this excerpt from Pericles’ funeral speech.

Written by aleatorclassicus

August 29, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Hyperides

Lucretius, On the Nature of Things 2.1-4

leave a comment »

suave, mari magno turbantibus aequora ventis,
e terra magnum alterius spectare laborem;
non quia vexari quemquam’st iucunda voluptas,
sed quibus ipse malis careas quia cernere suave est.

It is a sweet thing, when the winds are troubling the surface of the great sea, to look out from the land at the great trouble of another, not because it is a delightful pleasure that someone is being vexed, but because perceiving those troubles which you are free from is a sweet thing.

Written by aleatorclassicus

August 25, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Lucretius

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1.1

leave a comment »

πᾶσα τέχνη καὶ πᾶσα μέθοδος, ὁμοίως δὲ πρᾶξίς τε καὶ προαίρεσις, ἀγαθοῦ τινὸς ἐφίεσθαι δοκεῖ· διὸ καλῶς ἀπεφήναντο τἀγαθόν, οὗ πάντ’ ἐφίεται.

Every art and every investigation, and similarly every undertaking and course of action, seems to aim at some good. Therefore it has well been propounded that The Good is that thing at which all things aim.

Written by aleatorclassicus

August 24, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Aristotle

Martial, Epigrams 11.64

leave a comment »

nescio tam multis quid scribas, Fauste, puellis
   hoc scio, quod scribit nulla puella tibi.

I don’t know what it is that you write to so many girls, Faustus. But I do know that no girl ever writes to you.

Written by aleatorclassicus

August 23, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Martial

Hesiod, Theogony 24-28

leave a comment »

τόνδε δέ με πρώτιστα θεαὶ πρὸς μῦθον ἔειπον,
Μοῦσαι Ὀλυμπιάδες, κοῦραι Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο·
“ποιμένες ἄγραυλοι, κάκ’ ἐλέγχεα, γαστέρες οἶον,
ἴδμεν ψεύδεα πολλὰ λέγειν ἐτύμοισιν ὁμοῖα,
ἴδμεν δ’, εὖτ’ ἐθέλωμεν, ἀληθέα γηρύσασθαι.”

These words did the Olympian Muses, daughters of Zeus who holds the aegis, first say to me: ‘Shepherds who dwell in the fields, you evil reproaches, naught but bellies, we know how to speak many falsehoods as though they were true, but we know, when we wish it, how to speak truths.’

Written by aleatorclassicus

August 22, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Hesiod

Ausonius, 14.3

leave a comment »

de obitu singulorum monosticha.

Iulius interiit Caesar grassante senatu.
addidit Augustum divis matura senectus.
sera senex Capreis exul Nero fata peregit.
expetiit poenas de Caesare Chaerea mollis.
Claudius ambiguo conclusit fata veneno.
matricida Nero proprii vim pertulit ensis.
Galba senex periit saevo prostratus Othone.
mox Otho famosus, clara sed morte potitus.
prodiga succedunt perimendi sceptra Vitelli.
laudatum imperium, mors lenis Vespasiano.
at Titus, orbis amor, rapitur florentibus annis.
sera gravem perimunt, sed iusta piacula fratrem.

Single Lines on the Death of Each Emperor.

Julius Caesar died when the Senate attacked him. A ripe old age added Augustus to the gods. Old Nero [=Tiberius] met his end, all too late, as an exile on Capri. Effeminate Chaerea took its vengeance on Caesar [=Gaius/Caligula]. Claudius ended his life through doubtful poisoning. Nero the matricide submitted to the power of his own sword. Old Galba perished after being overthrown by savage Otho. Notorious Otho soon died, but he had an illustrious death. Next came the wasteful reign of Vitellius, who was destined to be slain. Vespasian’s rule was praised, his death a gentle one. But Titus, the beloved of the world, was snatched away in the prime of his life. Atonement, which came late but justly, destroyed his grievous brother [=Domitian].

Written by aleatorclassicus

August 21, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Ausonius

Solon, fr. 29 West

leave a comment »

πολλὰ ψεύδονται ἀοιδοί.

Poets tell many lies.

This is quoted as a proverbial expression (παροιμία) by Aristotle (Metaphysics 1.2); the idea of poets as liars goes right back to the Muses’ famous address to Hesiod at Theogony 26-28 (which will be coming up soon!).

Written by aleatorclassicus

August 20, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Solon

Symmachus, Letters 2.46.1-2

leave a comment »

Writing to his brother in AD 393, Symmachus waxes philosophical after some of his gladiators kill themselves. Peter Stothard discusses this rather discomfiting letter at the beginning of his excellent book On the Spartacus Road.

SYMMACHUS FLAVIANO FRATRI. ferunt Socraten, si quando excidit cupitis aut destinatis, id sibi utile, quod evenerat, aestimasse; nam meriti sui securus interpres ea coniectabat esse meliora, quae casus dabat, quam quae animus adpetebat. sequor sapientis exemplum et in bonam partem traho, quod Saxonum numerus morte contractus intra summam decretam populi voluptatibus stetit, ne nostrae editioni, si quid redundasset, accederet. nam quando prohibuisset privata custodia desperatae gentis impias manus, cum viginti et novem Saxonum fractas sine lacqueo fauces primus ludi gladiatorii dies viderit? nihil igitur moror familiam Spartaco nequiorem velimque, si ita facile factu est, hanc munificentiam principis Libycarum largitione mutari.

Symmachus sends greeting to his brother Flavianus. They say that, if Socrates ever missed out on something which he desired or strove for, he considered what had occurred to be beneficial to him; for as he had no concern for his own worth he interpreted those things – which fortune had given him – to be better than the things which his mind was aiming at. I am following the wise man’s example and taking in good part the fact that death has taken away a number of Saxons from the total number I had decreed for the enjoyment of the people – lest, if it were overabundant, it might work to the disadvantage of my show. For when could private guards have held back the impious hands of a desperate group of men, when the first day of the gladiatorial games saw twenty-nine Saxons strangled without a noose? Therefore I am not wasting any of my time on that troop, who are more worthless than Spartacus; and (if it could easily be done) I would gladly replace this spectacle for the emperor with a show of Libyan beasts.

Written by aleatorclassicus

August 19, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Symmachus

Herodotus, Histories 4.36.1

leave a comment »

Herodotus is a little sceptical about a story concerning a shaman-like Hyperborean.

τὸν γὰρ περὶ Ἀβάριος λόγον τοῦ λεγομένου εἶναι Ὑπερβορέου οὐ λέγω, ὡς τὸν ὀιστὸν περιέφερε κατὰ πᾶσαν γῆν οὐδὲν σιτεόμενος.

As for the story about Abaris, who is said to have been a Hyperborean – how he carried the arrow around the entire world without eating anything – I say nothing. 

Written by aleatorclassicus

August 18, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Herodotus