Spare the Son to Punish the Father

Epistles of Phalaris, VII: To Euenus

“Though my mind was made up, when once I had taken your son prisoner, to kill him for the injustices he had inflicted upon my captains, I later changed my mind and spared him. I would prefer that you suffer because he lives than that he suffer the loss of dying.”
Εὐήνῳ.
Γνώμης γενόμενος τὸ πρῶτον ἁλόντα αἰχμάλωτον ἀποκτεῖναί σου τὸν υἱὸν ἀνθ’ ὧν ἠδίκηκέ μου τοὺς ναυάρχους, μετέγνων ὕστερον καὶ σέσωκα. μᾶλλον γὰρ βούλομαι διὰ τῆς ἐκείνου ζωῆς σὲ λυπεῖν ἢ διὰ τῆς ἀναιρέσεως τὸν ἀποθανόντα.

Two Roman Notes of Encouragement for Procrastinating Authors

I suspect there are others are just like me right now, keeping busy and avoiding the start of summer projects. Alas, Martial’s words ring in my head every morning: “You will live tomorrow, you say? Postumus, even living today is too late; he is the wise man, who lived yesterday.” (Cras uiues? Hodie iam uiuere, Postume, serum est: / ille sapit quisquis, Postume, uixit heri, 5.58). Here are two Roman authors talking about writing and publication.

Seneca, De Tranquillitate Animi 13-14

“Why do we need to compose work that will endure for generations? Why not stop driving to make sure posterity won’t be quiet about you? You have been born mortal—a silent funeral is less annoying! So, for the sake of passing time, write something for your use in a simple style not for publication. There is less need to work for those who study just for today.”

Quid opus est saeculis duratura componere? Vis tu non id agere, ne te posteri taceant? Morti natus es, minus molestiarum habet funus tacitum! Itaque occupandi temporis causa, in usum tuum, non in praeconium aliquid simplici stilo scribe; minore labore opus est studentibus in diem.

 

Pliny the Younger, Letters 10 To Octavius Rufus

“For the meantime, do as you wish regarding publication too. Recite it from time to time, then you may feel more eager to publish and then you may experience the joy I have long been predicting for you, and not without reason. I imagine what crowds, what admiration, what clamor then silence awaits you. (For myself, I like this as much as applause when I speak or read, as long as it shows a desire to hear me speaking). There is a great reward ready for you! Stop undermining your work with endless delay! When even this is excessive, we need to be wary of hearing the name of idleness, laziness, or even fear. Farewell!”

Et de editione quidem interim ut voles: recita saltem quo magis libeat emittere, utque tandem percipias gaudium, quod ego olim pro te non temere praesumo. Imaginor enim qui concursus quae admiratio te, qui clamor quod etiam silentium maneat; quo ego, cum dico vel recito, non minus quam clamore delector, sit modo silentium acre et intentum, et cupidum ulteriora audiendi. Hoc fructu tanto tam parato desine studia tua infinita ista cunctatione fraudare; quae cum modum excedit, verendum est ne inertiae et desidiae vel etiam timiditatis nomen accipiat. Vale.

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Addendum:

Pliny the Younger, Letters 1.2

“Clearly, something must be published – ah, it would be best if I could just publish what I have already finished! (You may hear in this the wish of laziness.)

Est enim plane aliquid edendum — atque utinam hoc potissimum quod paratum est! Audis desidiae votum

Speechless About the Life of the Mind

Recent teaching advice from the Chronicle of Higher Education: Go Easy on the Socratic Method.

Plato, Philebus 21d-e

P: This argument has made me completely speechless right now

S: Let’s not give up yet! Let’s take up and examine the life of the mind too.

P: What sort of life are you talking about?

S: If someone would accept living while possessing intelligence, thought, knowledge and perfect memory, but without having any small or great part of pleasure or pain but instead be completely untouched by these kinds of things.

P: Socrates, neither life seems attractive to me, nor to anyone else, I believe.”

ΠΡΩ. Εἰς ἀφασίαν παντάπασί με, ὦ Σώκρατες, οὗτος ὁ λόγος ἐμβέβληκε τὰ νῦν.

ΣΩ. Μήπω τοίνυν μαλθακιζώμεθα, τὸν δὲ τοῦ νοῦ μεταλαβόντες αὖ βίον ἴδωμεν.

ΠΡΩ. Τὸν ποῖον δὴ λέγεις;

ΣΩ. Εἴ τις δέξαιτ᾿ ἂν αὖ ζῆν ἡμῶν φρόνησιν μὲν καὶ νοῦν καὶ ἐπιστήμην καὶ μνήμην πᾶσαν πάντων κεκτημένος, ἡδονῆς δὲ μετέχων μήτε μέγα μήτε σμικρόν, μηδ᾿ αὖ λύπης, ἀλλὰ τὸ παράπαν ἀπαθὴς πάντων τῶν τοιούτων.

ΠΡΩ. Οὐδέτερος ὁ βίος, ὦ Σώκρατες, ἔμοιγε τούτων αἱρετός, οὐδ᾿ ἄλλῳ μή ποτε, ὡς ἐγᾦμαι, φανῇ.

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You’re Forgiven Only Once

Epistles of Phalaris, VI: To Zeuxippus

“I grant pardon to your son on account of his youth, and to you on account of your old age, though you have both done unpardonable things. If, however, you do not desist from your boldness, neither his youth nor your age will save you. Nay, rather, you will be punished all the more for those things by which you have just now earned your pardon.”

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Ζευξίππῳ.
Τῷ μὲν υἱῷ σου διὰ τὴν νεότητα συγγινώσκω, σοὶ δὲ διὰ τὸ γῆρας, καίπερ ἀσύγγνωστα πεποιηκόσιν. ἂν μέντοι μὴ παύσησθε τῆς αὐθαδείας, οὔτ’ ἐκεῖνον ἡ νεότης οὔτε σὲ τὸ γῆρας ἐξαιρήσεται, δι’ αὐτὰ δὲ ταῦτα καὶ μᾶλλον κολασθήσεσθε, δι’ ἃ νῦν συγγνώμης ἀξιοῦσθε.

Questions about Drinking and Sex: More Deep Thoughts with Aristotle

From Aristotle’s Problems:

872b

“Why can’t drunk people have sex?”

Διὰ τί οἱ μεθύοντες ἀφροδισιάζειν ἀδύνατοί εἰσιν;

874b

“Why are the drunk more prone to tears?”

Διὰ τί οἱ μεθύοντες ἀριδάκρυοι μᾶλλον;

“Why is it hard to sleep when you’re drunk?”

Διὰ τί τοῖς μεθύουσιν οὐκ ἐγγίνεται ὕπνος

“Why does someone who is buzzed act more inebriated than either the drunk or the sober?”

Διὰ τί ὁ ἀκροθώραξ μᾶλλον παροινεῖ τοῦ μᾶλλον μεθύοντος καὶ τοῦ νήφοντος;

 

876b

“Why does a drinker’s tongue stumble?”

Διὰ τί τῶν μεθυόντων ἡ γλῶττα πταίει;

 

877a

“Why is being barefoot not an advantage for sex?”

Διὰ τί ἡ ἀνυποδησία οὐ συμφέρει πρὸς ἀφροδισιασμούς;

“Why does sex wear humans out more than other animals?”

Διὰ τί ἐκλύεται μάλιστα τῶν ζῴων ἀφροδισιάσας ἄνθρωπος;

877b

“Why do people fasting have sex so quickly?”

Διὰ τί νήστεις θᾶττον ἀφροδισιάζουσιν;

 

878a

“Why is it harder for people for have sex in water?”

Διὰ τί ἐν τῷ ὕδατι ἧττον δύνανται ἀφροδισιάζειν οἱ ἄνθρωποι;

 

880b

“Why does a person’s eyes weaken if they have sex?”

Διὰ τί, ἐὰν ἀφροδισιάζῃ ὁ ἄνθρωπος, οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ ἀσθενοῦσι μάλιστα;

 

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Betray or Die

Epistles of Phalaris, V: To the People of Leontini

“If you are eager for me to end the war which I am waging against you, then you should without shame hand over Lucinus to me, so that I may, in directing all of my rage to him, desist from my fury against the city. I will employ nothing against him nothing more severe than that which I know that you all have already wished for him.”

Λεοντίνοις.
Εἰ καταλῦσαί με τὸν πρὸς ὑμᾶς ὀρέγεσθε πόλεμον, μηδὲν αἰδεσθέντες ἔκδοτέ μοι Λυκῖνον, ἵνα τὴν ὀργὴν ἅπασαν εἰς τοῦτον ἀφεὶς παύσωμαι τοῦ πρὸς τὴν πόλιν θυμοῦ. χρήσομαι δ’ οὐδὲν αὐτῷ χαλεπώτερον ἢ πάντας ὑμᾶς ἐπίσταμαι βουλομένους.

Deep Thoughts with Aristotle

Aristotle, Problems 885b

“Why does sitting make some people fat while it makes others thin?”

Διὰ τί ἡ καθέδρα τοὺς μὲν παχύνει τῶν ἀνθρώπων, τοὺς δὲ ἰσχναίνει

886a

“Why do people yawn when they see others yawn? Is it because they desire something if they are reminded of it, especially with things that are easily encouraged, like urination?”

Διὰ τί τοῖς χασμωμένοις ἀντιχασμῶνται ὡς ἐπὶ τὸ | πολύ; ἢ διότι, ἐὰν ἀναμνησθῶσιν ὀργῶντες, ἐνεργοῦσιν, μάλιστα δὲ τὰ εὐκίνητα, οἷον οὐροῦσιν;

[…]

“is it because every voice and sound is actually breath?”

ἢ διότι φωνὴ μὲν πᾶσα καὶ ψόφος πνεῦμά ἐστιν;

887a

“Why when we see someone being cut or burned or harmed or suffering any other terror do we feel grief in our minds?”

Διὰ τί, ἐπειδὰν τεμνόμενόν τινα ἴδωμεν ἢ καιόμενον ἢ στρεβλούμενον ἢ ἄλλο τι τῶν δεινῶν πάσχοντα, συναλγοῦμεν τῇ διανοίᾳ;

888b

“Why do we shiver after we’ve finished peeing?”

Διὰ τί ἐν τῇ τελευταίᾳ προέσει τοῦ οὔρου φρίττομεν;

889a

“Why don’t angry people feel the cold?”

Διὰ τί οἱ ὀργιζόμενοι οὐ ῥιγῶσιν;

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