aleator classicus

Reading at Random in Classical Literature

Archive for August 2012

Seneca, On the Constancy of a Wise Man 17.1

leave a comment »

in senatu flentem vidimus Fidum Cornelium, Nasonis Ovidi generum, cum illum Corbulo struthocamelum depilatum dixisset.

We have seen Cornelius Fidus, the son-in-law of Ovid, weeping in the Senate when Corbulo had called him a ‘plucked ostrich’.

Written by aleatorclassicus

August 31, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Seneca the Younger

Sophocles, fr. 962

leave a comment »

εἰ δείν’ ἔδρασας, δεινὰ καὶ παθεῖν σε δεῖ.

If you have done terrible things, you must also suffer terrible things.

Written by aleatorclassicus

August 30, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Sophocles

Cicero, On the Orator 2.276

leave a comment »

From a selection of good jokes.

ut illud Nasicae, qui cum ad poetam Ennium venisset eique ab ostio quaerenti Ennium ancilla dixisset domi non esse, Nasica sensit illam domini iussu dixisse et illum intus esse; paucis post diebus cum ad Nasicam venisset Ennius et eum ad ianuam quaereret, exclamat Nasica domi non esse, tum Ennius ‘quid? ego non cognosco vocem’ inquit ‘tuam?’ hic Nasica ‘homo es impudens: ego cum te quaererem ancillae tuae credidi te domi non esse, tu mihi non credis ipsi?’

And so too with that joke of Nasica, who had come to the house of Ennius the poet, asked for Ennius at the door and been told by the slave-girl that he was not at home; Nasica had a feeling that she had been told by her master to say this, and that he was really inside the house. A few days later, when Ennius had come to Nasica’s house and asked for him at the door, Nasica shouted out that he was not at home; then Ennius said, ‘What? Don’t I recognise your voice?’ Nasica replied, ‘You’re an impudent man! When I asked for you I believed your slave-girl when she said you weren’t at home. Won’t you believe me in person?’ 

Written by aleatorclassicus

August 29, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Cicero

Euripides, Aeolus fr.19

leave a comment »

A line often quoted as a notorious example of Euripides’ alleged moral relativism.

τί δ’ αἰσχρὸν ἢν μὴ τοῖσι χρωμένοις δοκῇ;

And what is shameful if those who do it don’t think it so?

Written by aleatorclassicus

August 28, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Euripides

Scribonius Largus, Medical Compounds, Preface

leave a comment »

raro enim aliquis priusquam se suosque tradat medico, diligenter de eo iudicat, cum interim nemo ne imaginem quidem suam committat pingendam nisi probato prius artifici per quaedam experimenta atque ita electo.

It is rare that, before someone hands himself or his household over to a doctor, he makes a careful judgement about him; but meanwhile no one would entrust even the painting of his portrait to anyone except an artist whom he had previously tested by means of some trial-runs and chosen in that way.

Written by aleatorclassicus

August 27, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Scribonius Largus

Plutarch, On the face which appears in the orb of the moon 944b-c

leave a comment »

ἀλλ’ ὥσπερ ἡ παρ’ ἡμῖν ἔχει γῆ κόλπους βαθεῖς καὶ μεγάλους, ἕνα μὲν ἐνταῦθα διὰ στηλῶν Ἡρακλείων ἀναχεόμενον εἴσω πρὸς ἡμᾶς ἔξω δὲ τὸν Κάσπιον καὶ τοὺς περὶ τὴν Ἐρυθρὰν θάλατταν, οὕτως βάθη ταῦτα τῆς σελήνης ἐστὶ καὶ κοιλώματα.

But just as our Earth has large, deep gulfs, one here, pouring in towards us through the Pillars of Hercules, and the Caspian sea outside and the gulfs round the Erythraean sea, of the same sort are the deeps and hollows of the Moon.

Written by aleatorclassicus

August 26, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Plutarch

Jerome, Letters 127.12

leave a comment »

In 410 Rome was briefly occupied by the Gothic king Alaric. Jerome, writing a couple of years later, recalls the arrival of the news.

dum haec aguntur in Iebus, terribilis de occidente rumor adfertur obsideri Romam et auro salutem civium redimi spoliatosque rursum circumdari, ut post substantiam vitam quoque amitterent. haeret vox et singultus intercipiunt verba dictantis. capitur urbs quae totum cepit orbem, immo fame perit ante quam gladio et vix pauci, qui caperentur, inventi sunt.

While these things were happening in Jebus [=Jerusalem], a terrifying rumour was brought from the west, saying that Rome was being besieged and the citizens’ safety being bought with gold, and that after being so despoiled they were again being surrounded, so that after losing their property they also lost their lives. My voice is sticking and sobs are interrupting my words as I dictate. That city which took the whole world is taken, indeed it perished from starvation even before it perished by the sword, and barely a few were found who could be taken captive.

Written by aleatorclassicus

August 25, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Jerome

Semonides, fr.4

leave a comment »

πάμπαν δ’ ἄμωμος οὔ τις οὐδ’ ἀκήριος.

No one is completely without blame or harm.

Written by aleatorclassicus

August 24, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Semonides

Augustine, Confessions 6.7.11

leave a comment »

Augustine disapproves of his friend and pupil Alypius’ enthusiasm for following the chariot-racing.

nam et studuerat apud me, cum in nostro oppido docere coepi, et postea Carthagini, et diligebat multum, quod ei bonus et doctus viderer, et ego illum propter magnam virtutis indolem, quae in non magna aetate satis eminebat. gurges tamen morum Carthaginiensium, quibus nugatoria fervent spectacula, absorbuerat eum in insaniam circensium. sed cum in eo miserabiliter volveretur, ego autem rhetoricam ibi professus publica schola uterer, nondum me audiebat ut magistrum propter quandam simultatem quae inter me et patrem eius erat exorta. et compereram quod circum exitiabiliter amaret, et graviter angebar, quod tantam spem perditurus vel etiam perdidisse mihi videbatur.

He had studied under me when I began to teach in our town, and afterwards in Carthage; he held me in great esteem, since I seemed to him to be good and learned, and I esteemed him because of his great disposition for virtue, which was really quite conspicuous in one who was of no great age. But the whirlpool of Carthaginian fashions, in which the frivolous shows are hotly followed, had swallowed him down into the madness of the races. But he was being wretchedly tossed about in this whirlpool, while I was teaching rhetoric there in a public school; at this time he was no longer attending my lectures because of some animosity which had arisen between me and his father. I had also found out that he loved the racing to a pernicious degree, and I was grievously troubled, because I thought that he was going to destroy his great promise, or even that he had destroyed it already.

Written by aleatorclassicus

August 23, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Augustine

Dio Chrysostom, Letters 3

leave a comment »


παρόντα σε βλέπειν οἴομαι ταῖς ἐπιστολαῖς ἐντυγχάνων αἷς ἐπιστέλλεις, ὥστ’ εἰ γράφοις μοι συνεχέστερον ἥκιστ’ ἂν ἐπὶ τῇ ἀπουσίᾳ δυσχεραίνοιμι.

To Eusebius.

I think that I can see you here with me when I read the letters you send; so if you were to write to me more frequently I would be least upset at your absence.

Written by aleatorclassicus

August 22, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Dio Chrysostom