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Archive for February 2013

Catullus, 26

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Furi, villula nostra non ad Austri
flatus oppositast neque ad Favoni
nec saevi Boreae aut Apheliotae,
verum ad milia quindecim et ducentos.
o ventum horribilem atque pestilentem!

Furius, our little farmhouse is not exposed to the blasts of the South Wind, nor the West Wind, nor the fierce North Wind or the East Wind, but to 15,200 sesterces. O what a fearful and pestilential wind!

Written by aleatorclassicus

February 27, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Catullus

Polyaenus, Stratagems 1.2

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Polyaenus collects the clever military stratagems of both historical and mythological figures. Here’s Pan:

Διονύσου στρατηγὸς ἦν Πάν· οὗτος πρῶτος τάξιν εὗρεν, φάλαγγα ὠνόμασε, κέρας ἔταξε δεξιὸν καὶ λαιόν. ταύτῃ τοι ἄρα κερασφόρον τὸν Πᾶνα δημιουργοῦσιν· ἀλλὰ δὴ καὶ πρῶτος οὗτος πολεμίοις φόβον ἐνέβαλε σοφίᾳ καὶ τέχνῃ.

Pan was Dionysus’ general. He was the first to discover the battle order, which he called the phalanx, and ordered its right and left horns [i.e. ‘wings’]. It is for this reason that artists represent Pan with horns. He was also the first to cause fear in the enemy by means of cunning and artifice.

Written by aleatorclassicus

February 16, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Polyaenus

Orosius, Histories Against the Pagans 7.28.1

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igitur mortuo, ut dixi, Constantio in Britanniis, Constantinus imperator creatus, primus imperatorum Christianus excepto Philippo, qui Christianus annis admodum paucissimis ad hoc tantum constitutus fuisse mihi visus est, ut millesimus Romae annus Christo potius quam idolis dicaretur.

So when, as I have said, Constantius died in Britain, Constantine was made emperor, the first of the emperors to be a Christian, except for Philip, who was Christian for a very few years, certainly – but it seems to me that this was only decided so that the thousandth year of Rome should be consecrated to Christ rather than to idols.

Written by aleatorclassicus

February 15, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Orosius

Homer, Odyssey 22.412

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As mentioned yesterday.

οὐχ ὁσίη κταμένοισιν ἐπ᾽ ἀνδράσιν εὐχετάασθαι.

It is not holy to boast over men who have been killed.

Written by aleatorclassicus

February 10, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Homer

Anonymous, Martyrdom of Pionius 4

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The beginning of Pionius’ speech in his own defence, addressed to the citizens of Smyrna. He has refused to obey the Emperor’s command to sacrifice to the pagan gods.

tum martyribus in medio constitutis, Polemon ait, ‘bonum est, Pioni, et te sicut ceteros obedire, ac iussa complent, declinare supplicia.’ sed beatus martyr Polemonis sermone percepto, extensa manu, laeto et alacri vultu tali oratione respondit: ‘vos viri qui exultatis pulcritudine moenium, et Smyrnae civitatis decore gaudetis, et Homero poeta gloriamini, et si qui vobiscum ex Iudaeis adsunt, paucis audite, vos alloquor. audio enim quod irrideatis eos qui ad sacrificandum, aut sponte prosiliunt, aut alio cogente non renuunt; et in illis levitatem pectoris, in his spontaneum damnetis errorem, cum oporteret vos Homero doctori vestro, ac magistro pariter obedire, qui asserit nefas esse exultare de defunctis, nec ullum conflictum cum luce cassis, aut certamen debere esse cum mortuis.’

Then, when the martyrs had stood in the midst, Polemon said, ‘It would be a good thing, Pionius, for you to obey like the others and, by fulfilling the command, to avoid the tortures.’ But on hearing Polemon’s words, the blessed martyr put out his hand and replied, a glad and cheerful expression on his face, with the following speech: ‘You men who delight in the beauty of your city-walls, who are glad at the splendour of your city, and who boast of Homer your poet, listen – and any of the Jews who might also be among your number – to the few words I say to you. For I hear that you deride those who are either zealous to sacrifice of their own accord, or who do not refuse to do so when forced by another; in the first case you would condemn them for their levity of spirit, in the latter, for a voluntary error, when you ought to obey Homer, your teacher and master, who declares that it is impious to exult in the dead, and that you should not fight in vain with the light, or compete with the dead.’

Smyrna was one of the cities which claimed to be Homer’s birthplace. The passage alluded to is Odyssey 22.412.

Written by aleatorclassicus

February 9, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in anonymi

Herodotus, Histories 3.38

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πανταχῇ ὦν μοι δῆλα ἐστὶ ὅτι ἐμάνη μεγάλως ὁ Καμβύσης· οὐ γὰρ ἂν ἱροῖσί τε καὶ νομαίοισι ἐπεχείρησε καταγελᾶν.

So I think it is clear in every way that Cambyses was very much insane; otherwise he would not have undertaken to jeer at matters of religion and custom.

Written by aleatorclassicus

February 3, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Herodotus

Pliny the Elder, Natural History 37.81-82

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In the course of discussing opals, Pliny mentions Catullus 52.

magnitudo abellanam nucem aequat, insignis etiam apud nos historia, siquidem exstat hodieque huius generis gemma, propter quam ab Antonio proscriptus est Nonius senator, filius Strumae Noni eius, quem Catullus poeta in sella curuli visum indigne tulit, avusque Servili Noniani, quem consulem vidimus. ille proscriptus fugiens hunc e fortunis omnibus anulum abstulit secum. certum est sestertio vicies tum aestimatum, sed mira Antoni feritas atque luxuria propter gemmam proscribentis, nec minus Noni contumacia proscriptionem suam amantis, cum etiam ferae abrosa parte corporis, propter quam periclitari se sciant, et relicta redimere se credantur.

The opal’s size is the same as a hazelnut’s, and there is a remarkable story we tell about it: there still exists today a gem of this kind, because of which the senator Nonius was proscribed by Antony – this man was the son of that Nonius Struma whom the poet Catullus was indignant at seeing in the curule chair, and was the grandfather of Servilius Nonianus, whom we have seen as consul. On being proscribed, Nonius fled, taking with him, out of all his fortune, just this ring. It is certain that, at that time, it was valued at two million sesterces, but how amazingly cruel and luxurious was Antony that he should proscribe a man for the sake of a gem! And no less amazing was Nonius’ obstinacy – to love the cause of his own proscription – especially since wild beasts are believed to tear off a part of their body which they know puts them in danger, and by leaving it behind set themselves free.

Written by aleatorclassicus

February 2, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Pliny the Elder

Plato, Republic 1.354b

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The first book of the Republic reaches an impasse. Socrates blames himself.

ἀλλ’ ὥσπερ οἱ λίχνοι τοῦ ἀεὶ παραφερομένου ἀπογεύονται ἁρπάζοντες, πρὶν τοῦ προτέρου μετρίως ἀπολαῦσαι, καὶ ἐγώ μοι δοκῶ οὕτω, πρὶν ὃ τὸ πρῶτον ἐσκοποῦμεν εὑρεῖν, τὸ δίκαιον ὅτι ποτ’ ἐστίν, ἀφέμενος ἐκείνου ὁρμῆσαι ἐπὶ τὸ σκέψασθαι περὶ αὐτοῦ εἴτε κακία ἐστὶν καὶ ἀμαθία, εἴτε σοφία καὶ ἀρετή, καὶ ἐμπεσόντος αὖ ὕστερον λόγου, ὅτι λυσιτελέστερον ἡ ἀδικία τῆς δικαιοσύνης, οὐκ ἀπεσχόμην τὸ μὴ οὐκ ἐπὶ τοῦτο ἐλθεῖν ἀπ’ ἐκείνου, ὥστε μοι νυνὶ γέγονεν ἐκ τοῦ διαλόγου μηδὲν εἰδέναι.

But just as gluttons grab at every dish that’s served and taste it before they’ve had the full enjoyment of the previous one, so I too (I think), before finding out what was the first matter for us to consider – what justice is – let go of that and rushed into considering something about it – whether it is vice and ignorance or wisdom and virtue – and again later on, when the argument fell upon us that injustice is more profitable than justice, I could not restrain myself from going away from this topic to the other one, so that what has come out of the discussion now for me is that I know nothing.

Written by aleatorclassicus

February 1, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Plato