aleator classicus

Reading at Random in Classical Literature

Archive for July 2013

Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, 2.8.4-5

leave a comment »

ἡ δὲ εὔνοια παρὰ πολὺ ἐποίει τῶν ἀνθρώπων μᾶλλον ἐς τοὺς Λακεδαιμονίους, ἄλλως τε καὶ προειπόντων ὅτι τὴν Ἑλλάδα ἐλευθεροῦσιν. ἔρρωτό τε πᾶς καὶ ἰδιώτης καὶ πόλις εἴ τι δύναιτο καὶ λόγῳ καὶ ἔργῳ ξυνεπιλαμβάνειν αὐτοῖς· ἐν τούτῳ τε κεκωλῦσθαι ἐδὸκει ἑκάστῳ τὰ πράγματα ᾧ μή τις αὐτὸς παρέσται. οὑτῶς ἐν ὀργῇ εἶχον οἱ πλείους τοὺς Ἀθηναίους, οἱ μὲν τῆς ἀρχῆς ἀπολυθῆναι βουλόμενοι, οἱ δὲ μὴ ἀρχθῶσι φοβούμενοι.

People’s goodwill was far more on the Spartans’ side, especially as they had proclaimed that they were liberating Greece. Every person and every city was resolved to assist them, in word and deed, in any way possible; each man thought that wherever he could not be present himself, there affairs were being hindered. In such a fashion did the majority feel anger towards the  Athenians: some wished to be freed from their control, while others feared that they might come under their control.

Written by aleatorclassicus

July 30, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Thucydides

Pliny the Elder, Natural History 7.19

leave a comment »

haut procul urbe Roma in Faliscorum agro familiae sunt paucae quae vocantur Hirpi. hae sacrificio annuo, quod fit ad montem Soractem Apollini, super ambustam ligni struem ambulantes non aduruntur, et ob id perpetuo senatus consulto militiae omniumque aliorum munerum vacationem habent.

Not far from the city of Rome, in the territory of the Falisci, there are a few families who are called Hirpi. At the annual sacrifice performed by these families, which happens in honour of Apollo on Mount Soracte, they walk on a burning heap of wood but are not burnt. For this reason, by a decree of the senate in perpetuity, they are exempt from military service and all other duties.

Written by aleatorclassicus

July 29, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Pliny the Elder

Lucian, Phalaris 1.9

leave a comment »

More from Lucian’s imagined speech of Phalaris, with some masterful spin on having an extensive spy network.

ὅταν δὲ βουληθῆτε τοὐμὸν εἰδέναι, τοὺς εἰσφοιτῶντας εἰς Ἀκράγαντα ξένους ἐρωτήσατε ὁποῖος ἐγὼ περὶ αὐτούς εἰμι καὶ εἰ φιλανθρώπως προσφέρομαι τοῖς καταίρουσιν, ὅς γε καὶ σκοποὺς ἐπὶ τῶν λιμένων ἔχω καὶ πευθῆνας, τίνες ὅθεν καταπεπλεύκασιν, ὡς κατ’ ἀξίαν τιμῶν ἀποπέμποιμι αὐτούς.

And when you want to know my view, ask the foreigners who visit Acragas how I act towards them, and whether I am friendly in approaching people who put in at harbour; I even have lookouts at the harbours, as well as questioners to ask who they are and where they have sailed from, so that I can send them away with the right proportion of honours.

Written by aleatorclassicus

July 28, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Lucian

Plautus, The Boastful Soldier 675

leave a comment »

et quod in divinis rebus sumptumst, sapienti lucrumst.

And what’s spent on things for the gods is [counted as] profit in the eyes of a wise man.

Written by aleatorclassicus

July 27, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Plautus

Lucian, Phalaris 1.8

leave a comment »

The tyrant Phalaris of Acragas is best known for cooking people to death in a novelty bronze bull, but here Lucian makes him point out that you have to be cruel to be kind, it hurts him more than them, etc. etc.

ποσάκις γοῦν ἐδάκρυσα μαστιγουμένων ἄλλων, ποσάκις δὲ θρηνεῖν καὶ ὀδύρεσθαι τὴν ἐμαυτοῦ τύχην ἀναγκάζομαι μείζω κόλασιν αὐτὸς καὶ χρονιωτέραν ὑπομένων; ἀνδρὶ γὰρ φύσει μὲν ἀγαθῷ, διὰ δὲ ἀνάγκην πικρῷ, πολὺ τοῦ κολάζεσθαι τὸ κολάζειν χαλεπώτερον.

How many times have I wept as others are being flogged? How many times have I not been compelled to lament and wail for my own misfortune, as I undergo greater and more chronic punishment than theirs? For a man who is naturally moral, but harsh by necessity, it is much harder to punish than to be punished.

Written by aleatorclassicus

July 26, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Lucian

Catullus, Poems 60

leave a comment »

num te leaena montibus Libystinis
aut Scylla latrans infima inguinum parte
tam mente dura procreauit ac taetra,
ut supplicis vocem in novissimo casu
contemptam haberes, a nimis fero corde?

Was it a lioness from the Libystinian mountains or barking Scylla who produced you from the lowest part of her groin, you with your mind so harsh and foul that you hold in contempt the voice of a suppliant in the very final misfortune, from a heart too savage?

Roman poets often played with acrostics, but GP Goold seems to have been the first modern reader to notice that in this poem reading the first and last letters of each line anti-clockwise gives the hidden message ‘natu ceu aes’ (‘by birth like bronze’), a pithy summary of the whole poem.

Written by aleatorclassicus

July 25, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Catullus

[Aristotle], On Wondrous Things 83

leave a comment »

ἐν Kρήτῃ λύκους καὶ ἄρκτους τοὺς τ’ ἔχεις, ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ τὰ παραπλήσια τούτοις θηρία οὔ φασι γίνεσθαι, διὰ τὸ τὸν Δία γενέσθαι ἐν αὐτῇ.

They say that on Crete there are no wolves, bears, snakes, or likewise any beasts of this sort, because of Zeus’ having been born in that place.

Written by aleatorclassicus

July 24, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in anonymi, Aristotle

Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.20.4-5

leave a comment »

nam Apollodorus in libris quibus titulus est περὶ θεῶν scribit quod Aesculapius divinationibus et auguriis praesit. nec mirum: siquidem medicinae atque divinationum consociatae sunt disciplinae. nam medicus vel commoda vel incommoda in corpore futura praenoscit, sicut ait Hippocrates oportere medicum dicere de aegroto τά τε παρεόντα καὶ τὰ προγεγονότα καὶ τὰ μέλλοντα ἔσεσθαι, id est ‘quae sint, quae fuerint, quae mox ventura sequentur’, quod congruit divinationibus quae sciunt τά τ᾽ ἔοντα τά τ᾽ ἐσσόμενα πρό τ᾽ ἐόντα.

Apollodorus writes (in his books whose title is On the Gods) that Aesculapius is in charge of divinations and auguries. And this is not surprising, since the disciplines of medicine and divination are connected; for a doctor knows in advance both the good and bad things which will occur in the body, just as Hippocrates says that a doctor ought to speak, concerning a sick person, of ‘the present things and the things which existed before and the things which shall be’ – that is, ‘What is, what has been, and what soon will come and follow’ – which is in agreement with prophecies, which know ‘What is, what will be, and what was before’.

The two verse quotations are from Virgil (Georgics 4.393 with a slightly different reading) and Homer (Iliad 1.70).

Written by aleatorclassicus

July 22, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Homer, Macrobius, Virgil

Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 1.129

leave a comment »

ὃ δ’ ἴσως ὑφ’ Ἑλλήνων ἀγνοεῖται, τοῦτο προειπὼν τρέψομαι πρὸς τὴν ἀφήγησιν ὧν κατέλιπον. τὰ γὰρ ὀνόματα διὰ τὸ τῆς γραφῆς εὐπρεπὲς ἡλλήνισται πρὸς ἡδονὴν τῶν ἐντευξομένων· οὐ γὰρ ἐπιχώριος ἡμῖν ὁ τοιοῦτος αὐτῶν τύπος, ἀλλ’ ἕν τε αὐτῶν σχῆμα καὶ τελευτὴ μία, Νῶχός τέ τοι Νῶε καλεῖται καὶ τοῦτον τὸν τύπον ἐπὶ παντὸς τηρεῖ σχήματος.

I shall speak about the following matter (which is perhaps not known by Greeks), and then return to my narration from the point where I left off. I have given names a Greek form for the sake of the good appearance of my text and for the pleasure of my readers. For this is not the form they have in our country; instead they have a single shape and a single ending, so Noah [Nochos] is called Noë and keeps this form in every case.

Written by aleatorclassicus

July 21, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Josephus

Virgil, Aeneid 6.847-853

leave a comment »

Famous lines: Anchises explains the future of Rome to Aeneas.

excudent alii spirantia mollius aera
(credo equidem), vivos ducent de marmore vultus,
orabunt causas melius, caelique meatus
describent radio et surgentia sidera dicent:
tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento
(hae tibi erunt artes), pacique imponere morem,
parcere subiectis et debellare superbos.

Others (I believe it, to be sure) will hammer out bronze which breathes more gently; they will bring living faces out of marble; they will plead cases better and delineate with measuring-rods the movements of the sky and tell of the rising constellations. You, Roman – remember you’ll rule the nations with your power (these will be your skills); and lay law on peace, spare the conquered and subdue the proud.

Written by aleatorclassicus

July 20, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Virgil