Sunday, November 19, 2017

 

A Textual Pervert

Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (London: Faber & Faber, 2014), chapter 2 (page number unknown):
[A.P.] Treweek recalled that 'his scholarly achievements were very strong, but of narrow interest. He found faults in Greek texts where there were none. He couldn't read a page without finding mistakes — so much so that at times he was referred to as a textual pervert.'140

140 Sunday Express, 26 April 1970.

 

Introduction to Byzantine Thought

Norman H. Baynes, "St. Antony and the Demons," Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 40 (December, 1954) 7-10 (at 7):
To become familiar with Byzantine popular thought it is essential to remember that the East Roman Christian knew and believed his New Testament; he read it or heard it read in church; it became a part of his life. Thus for the modern student the most useful introduction to Byzantine thought is perhaps to re-read the New Testament.

 

Belief in God

Jules Renard, Journal (November 19, 1898; tr. Louise Bogan and Elizabeth Roget):
God does not believe in our God.

Dieu ne croit pas à notre Dieu.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

 

The New Worship

Edward Gibbon (1737-1794), Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter XXVIII:
The ruin of the Pagan religion is described by the sophists as a dreadful and amazing prodigy, which covered the earth with darkness, and restored the ancient dominion of chaos and of night. They relate, in solemn and pathetic strains, that the temples were converted into sepulchres, and that the holy places, which had been adorned by the statues of the gods, were basely polluted by the relics of Christian martyrs. "The monks" (a race of filthy animals, to whom Eunapius is tempted to refuse the name of men) "are the authors of the new worship, which, in the place of those deities who are conceived by the understanding, has substituted the meanest and most contemptible slaves. The heads, salted and pickled, of those infamous malefactors, who for the multude of their crimes have suffered a just and ignominious death; their bodies, still marked by the impression of the lash, and the scars of those tortures which were inflicted by the sentence of the magistrate; such" (continues Eunapius) "are the gods which the earth produces in our days; such are the martyrs, the supreme arbitrators of our prayers and petitions to the Deity, whose tombs are now consecrated as the objects of the veneration of the people."
Eunapius, Lives of the Sophists 6.11.6-10 = p. 472 Westermann (tr. Wilmer C. Wright):
Next, into the sacred places they imported monks, as they called them, who were men in appearance but led the lives of swine, and openly did and allowed countless unspeakable crimes. But this they accounted piety, to show contempt for things divine. For in those days every man who wore a black robe and consented to behave in unseemly fashion in public, possessed the power of a tyrant, to such a pitch of virtue had the human race advanced! All this however I have described in my Universal History. They settled these monks at Canobus also, and thus they fettered the human race to the worship of slaves, and those not even honest slaves, instead of the true gods. For they collected the bones and skulls of criminals who had been put to death for numerous crimes, men whom the law courts of the city had condemned to punishment, made them out to be gods, haunted their sepulchres, and thought that they became better by defiling themselves at their graves. "Martyrs" the dead men were called, and "ministers" of a sort, and "ambassadors" from the gods to carry men's prayers,—these slaves in vilest servitude, who had been consumed by stripes and carried on their phantom forms the scars of their villainy. However these are the gods that earth produces!

 

Following the Crowd

Seneca, On the Happy Life 1.3-4 (tr. John Davie):
Accordingly, the most important point to stress is that we should not, like sheep, follow the herd of creatures in front of us, making our way where others go, not where we ought to go. And yet there is nothing that brings greater trouble on us than the fact that we conform to rumour, thinking that what has won widespread approval is best, and that, as we have so many to follow as good, we live by the principle, not of reason, but of imitation. What follows from this is that men are piled high, one on top of another, as they rush to their ruin.

Just as it happens that in a great crowd of humanity that is crushed together, when the people jostle against each other, no one falls without dragging someone else down with him, and the ones in front bring destruction on the ones behind, so you may see the same thing happening throughout all of life. No one who goes astray affects himself alone, but rather will be the cause and instigator of someone else going astray; it is harmful to attach oneself to the people in front, and, so long as each one of us prefers to trust someone else's judgement rather than relying on his own, we never exercise judgement in our lives but constantly resort to trust, and a mistake that has been passed down from one hand to another takes us over and spins our ruin. It is the example of others that destroys us: we will regain our health, if only we distance ourselves from the crowd.

nihil ergo magis praestandum est, quam ne pecorum ritu sequamur antecedentium gregem, pergentes non quo eundum est, sed quo itur. atqui nulla res nos maioribus malis implicat, quam quod ad rumorem componimur, optima rati ea, quae magno adsensu recepta sunt, quodque exempla nobis multa sunt, nec ad rationem sed ad similitudinem vivimus. inde ista tanta coacervatio aliorum super alios ruentium.

quod in strage hominum magna evenit, cum ipse se populus premit — nemo ita cadit, ut non et alium in se adtrahat, primique exitio sequentibus sunt —, hoc in omni vita accidere videas licet. nemo sibi tantummodo errat, sed alieni erroris et causa et auctor est; nocet enim applicari antecedentibus et, dum unusquisque mavult credere quam iudicare, numquam de vita iudicatur, semper creditur versatque nos et praecipitat traditus per manus error. alienis perimus exemplis; sanabimur, separemur modo a coetu.

Friday, November 17, 2017

 

A Blade of Grass

Jules Renard, Journal (July 11, 1898; tr. Louise Bogan and Elizabeth Roget):
No one will ever stop me from being moved when I look at a field, when I walk up to my knees through oats that spring up behind me. What thought is as fine as this blade of grass?

I don't give a straw for "my country" as a whole: my local country moves me to tears. The German emperor cannot take this blade of grass from me.

Jamais personne ne m'empêchera d'être ému quand je regarde un champ, quand je marche jusqu'aux genoux dans une avoine qui se redresse derrière moi. Quelle pensée est aussi fine que ce brin d'herbe?

Je me moque de la grande patrie: la petite toujours m'impressionne jusqu'aux larmes. L'empereur allemand ne m'ôterait pas ce brin d'herbe.
Related posts:

 

True Stories

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), Under the Greenwood Tree, Part I, Chapter 8:
'Well, now,' said Reuben, with decisive earnestness, 'that sort o' coarse touch that's so upsetting to Ann's feelings is to my mind a recommendation; for it do always prove a story to be true. And for the same reason, I like a story with a bad moral. My sonnies, all true stories have a coarse touch or a bad moral, depend upon't.'

 

Herodotus by Heart

Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (London: Faber & Faber, 2014), chapter 2 (page number unknown):
[H]e told another Trinity fellow, T.C. Nicholas, that if all the text of Herodotus were to disappear he could reproduce it by heart.66

66 Howarth, p184.
The reference is to T.E.B. Howarth, Cambridge Between Two Wars (London: Collins, 1978), which I haven't seen.

Related post: Fahrenheit 451.

 

Statutes of the New Academy

Aldus Manutius, The Greek Classics. Edited and Translated by N.G. Wilson (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2016 = I Tatti Renaissance library, 70), Appendix V (pp. 288-293) = Statutes of the New Academy, § 1 (at 289):
Whereas many benefits can accrue to people with a serious interest in education from speaking Greek, it has been jointly determined by the three of us, Aldus the Roman, John the Cretan and thirdly myself, Scipione Forteguerri, to pass a law that they should not speak to each other except in Greek. If any of us, whether deliberately or without thinking, talks in another language, forgetting this law or for some other reason, he shall be fined one small coin for each occasion on which he happens to do this. But there shall not be a penalty for solecism, unless someone does that too deliberately.
When enough money from fines has accumulated, it is to be spent on a party (§ 4, p. 291). A very interesting document. I noticed a typographical error on p. 320, where the title mistakenly appears as Statues of the New Academy.

A modern reincarnation of the New Academy is the educational Stammtisch, where only German is spoken.

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

 

A County Motto?

Wikipedia entry for Morrow County, Ohio:
The county motto is "dolorem et dolor liberum" which is Latin for "pain and suffering are free" which was an epigram of the first century BC Roman Senator Marcus Tullius Cicero and a favorite saying of one of the county's founders.
Screen capture:


The words "dolorem et dolor liberum" are all Latin words but make no sense when taken together. The phrase doesn't occur in the works of Cicero, so far as I can tell, or in any other Latin writer. See e.g. H. Merguet, Handlexikon zu Cicero (Leipzig: Dieterich, 1905), s.v. dolor, pp. 212-213.

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Dedication

D.B. Wyndham Lewis (1891-1969), François Villon: A Documented Survey (New York: Coward-McCann, Inc., 1928), p. vii:
DEDICATION.
TO
the Red-Headed Cerberus, regardant between the Pont Royal and
the Petit-Pont; to the Frothing Vorticist; to the Harpy behind
the Little Grille; to the Bilious but Gaitered Platonic; to
the Surgical, Hairy, yet invisible Troll of the Dieppois; to
the Stout Love-Child of the Pierides who Believes Aquinas
to be a Mineral-Water; to the Bouncing Benthamite of
Bloomsbury who is Unaware of the Medieval; to That
Other, the Cramoisy One; to the Dodging Lutheran
of the Rue de Grenelle; to the Pythoness of Bays-
water; to the Commandant of Infantry who Babbled
of the Grand-Orient; to the Lady with the Hard
Grey Eyes; to the Levantine of London who Did
Not Think Poetry Would Do; to the Military
Character who Sacked the Lot; and to all pratt-
ling Gablers, sycophant Varlets, forlorn Snakes,
blockish Grutnols, fondling Fops, doddi-
pol Joltheads, slutch Calf-Lollies, cods-
head Loobies, jobernol Goosecaps,
grout-head Gnat-Snappers, noddie-
peak Simpletons, Lob-Dotterels,
and ninniehammer
Flycatchers,
THIS,
IN DERISION.

Some of this is borrowed from Urquhart's translation of Rabelais, Book I, Chapter XXV.

 

Use Your Noggin

Epicharmus, fragment 250 Kaibel (tr. D.R. Shackleton Bailey):
Don't get drunk or trust your neighbour; there's the kernel of good sense.

νᾶφε καὶ μέμνασ᾽ ἀπιστεῖν· ἄρθρα ταῦτα τᾶν φρενῶν.
More literally, μέμνασ᾽ ἀπιστεῖν = remember to be mistrustful.

Quoted by Cicero, Letters to Atticus 1.19.8, where the Greek in the Digital Loeb Classical Library has an incorrect accent (grave instead of acute over ἄρθρα):


I think that this is fragment 218 in R. Kassel and C. Austin, edd., Poetae Comici Graeci, Vol. I: Comoedia Dorica, Mimi, Phlyaces, but the book isn't available to me.

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Trust Your Senses

Lucretius, On the Nature of Things 1.699-700 (tr. W.H.D. Rouse, rev. Martin F. Smith):
For to what shall we appeal? What can we find more certain than the senses themselves, to mark for us truth and falsehood?

quo referemus enim? quid nobis certius ipsis
sensibus esse potest, qui vera ac falsa notemus?
700 qui = quo, referring back to quid.

Related post: Believing One's Own Eyes.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

 

Lowbrow and Highbrow

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), "Foreheads Villainous Low," Music at Night and Other Essays (London: Chatto & Windus, 1949; rpt. 1957), pp. 201-210 (at 201-202):
There was a time, not so long ago, when the stupid and uneducated aspired to be thought intelligent and cultured. The current of aspiration has changed its direction. It is not at all uncommon now to find intelligent and cultured people doing their best to feign stupidity and to conceal the fact that they have received an education. Twenty years ago it was still a compliment to say of a man that he was clever, cultivated, interested in the things of the mind. To-day 'highbrow' is a term of contemptuous abuse.
Id. (at 207-208):
A man who is exclusively interested in the things of the mind will be quite happy (in Pascal's phrase) sitting quietly in a room. A man who has no interest in the things of the mind will be bored to death if he has to sit quietly in a room.

 

Un-Greek

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), Human, All Too Human, § 114 (tr. Marion Faber):
What is un-Greek in Christianity. The Greeks did not see the Homeric gods above them as masters and themselves below them as servants, as did the Jews. They saw, as it were, only the reflection of the most successful specimens of their own caste, that is, an ideal, not a contrast to their own nature. They felt related to them, there was a reciprocal interest, a kind of symmachia. Man thinks of himself as noble when he gives himself such gods, and puts himself into a relationship similar to that of the lesser nobility to the higher. Whereas the Italic peoples have a regular peasant religion, with continual fearfulness about evil and capricious powers and tormentors. Where the Olympian gods retreated, there Greek life too grew gloomier and more fearful.

Christianity, on the other hand, crushed and shattered man completely, and submerged him as if in deep mire. Then, all at once, into his feeling of complete confusion, it allowed the light of divine compassion to shine, so that the surprised man, stunned by mercy, let out a cry of rapture, and thought for a moment that he carried all of heaven within him. All psychological inventions of Christianity work toward this sick excess of feeling, toward the deep corruption of head and heart necessary for it. Christianity wants to destroy, shatter, stun, intoxicate: there is only one thing it does not want: moderation, and for this reason, it is in its deepest meaning barbaric, Asiatic, ignoble, un-Greek.

Das Ungriechische im Christenthum.— Die Griechen sahen über sich die homerischen Götter nicht als Herren und sich unter ihnen nicht als Knechte, wie die Juden. Sie sahen gleichsam nur das Spiegelbild der gelungensten Exemplare ihrer eigenen Kaste, also ein Ideal, keinen Gegensatz des eigenen Wesens. Man fühlt sich mit einander verwandt, es besteht ein gegenseitiges Interesse, eine Art Symmachie. Der Mensch denkt vornehm von sich, wenn er sich solche Götter giebt, und stellt sich in ein Verhältniss, wie das des niedrigeren Adels zum höheren ist; während die italischen Völker eine rechte Bauern-Religion haben, mit fortwährender Aengstlichkeit gegen böse und launische Machtinhaber und Quälgeister. Wo die olympischen Götter zurücktraten, da war auch das griechische Leben düsterer und ängstlicher.—

Das Christenthum dagegen zerdrückte und zerbrach den Menschen vollständig und versenkte ihn wie in tiefen Schlamm: in das Gefühl völliger Verworfenheit liess es dann mit Einem Male den Glanz eines göttlichen Erbarmens hineinleuchten, so dass der Ueberraschte, durch Gnade Betäubte, einen Schrei des Entzückens ausstiess und für einen Augenblick den ganzen Himmel in sich zu tragen glaubte. Auf diesen krankhaften Excess des Gefühls, auf die dazu nöthige tiefe Kopf- und Herz-Corruption wirken alle psychologischen Erfindungen des Christenthums hin: es will vernichten, zerbrechen, betäuben, berauschen, es will nur Eins nicht: das Maass, und desshalb ist es im tiefsten Verstande barbarisch, asiatisch, unvornehm, ungriechisch.

 

I Came Here to Work

Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (London: Faber & Faber, 2014), chapter 2 (page number unknown):
Shortly after arriving at Trinity at the start of Michaelmas Term 1930, Powell was found by Henry Jamieson, his fellow Edwardian, sitting on packing cases in his room reading a Greek text. 'Come and have some tea‚' Jamieson said. 'Thank you very much‚' Powell replied, 'but I came here to work.'1

1 Sunday Times, 5 February 1956.

 

Inscription for a 30th Birthday Card

Jules Renard, Journal (May 29, 1894; tr. Louise Bogan and Elizabeth Roget):
The thought that I am thirty breaks my heart. A whole dead life behind me. Ahead of me, an opaque stretch in which I see nothing. I feel old, and sad as an old man.

Cette idée que j'ai trente ans me navre. Toute une vie morte derrière moi. Devant, une vie opaque où je ne vois rien. Je me sens vieux, triste comme un vieux.
Related posts:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

 

Bourgeois

Jules Renard, Journal (April 10, 1889; tr. Louise Bogan and Elizabeth Roget):
To have a horror of the bourgeois is bourgeois.

L'horreur des bourgeois est bourgeoise.

 

On the Imitation of Dog

Lucretius, On the Nature of Things 1.404-409 (tr. W.H.D. Rouse, rev. Martin F. Smith):
For as hounds very often find by their scent the leaf-hidden resting-place of the mountain-ranging quarry, when once they have hit upon certain traces of its path, so will you be able for yourself to see one thing after another in such matters as these, and to penetrate all unseen hiding-places, and draw forth the truth from them.

namque canes ut montivagae persaepe ferai
naribus inveniunt intectas fronde quietes,        405
cum semel institerunt vestigia certa viai,
sic alid ex alio per te tute ipse videre
talibus in rebus poteris caecasque latebras
insinuare omnis et verum protrahere inde.

404 ferai Q corr.: ferare OQ: ferarum O corr.
Related post: How to Read.

 

Holy Writ

Ezra Pound, letter to Harriet Monroe (July 16, 1922):
Say that I consider the Writings of Confucius, and Ovid's Metamorphoses the only safe guides in religion. This doesn't repudiate 'The G<oodly> F<ere>'. Christ can very well stand as an heroic figure. The hero need not be of wisdom all compounded. Also he is not wholly to blame for the religion that's been foisted on to him. As well blame me for ... for all the bunk in vers libre.

Christianity as practised resumes itself into one commandment dear to all officials, American Y.M.C.A., burocrats, etc., 'Thou shalt attend to thy neighbor's business before attending to thine own.'

In your footnote you ought to point out that I refuse to accept ANY monotheistic taboos whatsoever. That I consider the Metamorphoses a sacred book, and the Hebrew scriptures the record of a barbarian tribe, full of evil.

Monday, November 13, 2017

 

German

Reflections of a Statesman: The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (London: Bellew, 1991), p. 104:
I remember, as sharply as Keats recalled first looking into Chapman's Homer, the moment — it must have been in 1927 — when I opened my first German book. Here was the language I had dreamt of but never knew existed: sharp, hard, strict but with words which were romance in themselves, words in which poetry and music vibrated together.
Powell, The Observer (April 24, 1968):
The happiest and most glorious hours of my life with books have been with German books.

 

Wanderlust

Catullus 46.7-8 (tr. Michael C.J. Putnam):
Now my mind, aquiver, yearns to wander;
now my joyous feet grow strong with eagerness.

iam mens praetrepidans avet vagari,
iam laeti studio pedes vigescunt.

8 vigescunt codd.: virescunt Ellis
Robinson Ellis' conjecture, made in his commentary, p. 131 ("uirescunt, 'feel a new spring,' is a natural conjecture"), doesn't appear in Catullus Online: An Online Repertory of Conjectures on Catullus, which reports
laeti OGR : uiae MS 120 s. XVI : laeto dub. Schwabe 1866 in app.

 

Culture-Fans and Erudition-Snobs

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), "And Wanton Optics Roll the Melting Eye," Music at Night and Other Essays (London: Chatto & Windus, 1949; rpt. 1957), pp. 32-42 (at 37-38):
What readers has the Divine Comedy now? A few poets, a few lovers of poetry, a few strayed cross-word puzzlers, and, for the rest, a diminishing band of culture-fans and erudition-snobs. These last feel as triumphantly superior in their exclusive learning as would the social snob if, alone of all his acquaintance, he had met the Prince of Wales, or could speak of Mr. Michael Arlen by his pet name.

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