“I could say to you, obscurely, ‘Give me what you might give me constantly without losing any of it. Give me what you will perhaps one day desire to give in vain, when that hateful beard besieges your cheeks, and what he who, taken by the sacred bird, now mixes cups pleasing to his lover, once gave to Jove; what a maiden gives to her desirous husband on the first night, while she in her inexperience fears the wound of the other spot.’ But it is a lot simpler to say in plain Latin, ‘let me get in that ass.’ What can I do? My Minerva is thick (crass)!”
Here’s an alternative translation from Leonard C. Smithers and Sir Richard Burton:
Darkly might I to thee say: Oh give me for ever and ever
What thou may’st constantly give while of it nothing be lost:
Give me what vainly thou’lt long to bestow in the days that are coming
When that invidious beard either soft cheek shall invade;
What unto Jove gave he who, borne by the worshipful flyer,
Mixes the gratefullest cups, ever his leman’s delight;
What on the primal night maid gives to her love-longing bridegroom
Dreading ineptly the hurt dealt to a different part.
Simpler far to declare in our Latin, Lend me thy buttocks;
What shall I say to thee else? Dull’s the Minerva of me.
Obscure poteram tibi dicere: ‘da mihi, quod tu
des licet assidue, nil tamen inde perit.
da mihi, quod cupies frustra dare forsitan olim,
cum tenet obsessas invida barba genas,
quodque Iovi dederat, qui raptus ab alite sacra
miscet amatori pocula grata suo,
quod virgo prima cupido dat nocte marito,
dum timet alterius vulnus inepta loci.’
simplicius multo est ‘da pedicare’ Latine
dicere: quid faciam? crassa Minerva mea est.
Παχύτερα Μούσῃ, that is, with a thicker Muse. Quintilian brought out the same phrase in the first book of his Institutio Oratoria:
It is pleasing because of some less experience people to take away the doubt about this utility with a thicker Muse, as they say.
Sometimes among some not inadequate writers it is found with a richer formula for it, which is: more plainly and more intelligibly. Sometimes people said to speak Latin in place of that phrase, which was meant to signify:: openly and simply. Cicero writes in Against Verres:
Understand that I am speaking Latin, not Accusationese.
He also writes in his Philippics:
…but as is the custom with those, who speak plainly and in Latin.
In the Priapeia:
It is much simpler to say ‘let me fuck you in the ass’ in Latin.
1.38 CRASSIORE MVSA
Παχύτερα Μούσῃ, id est Crassiore Musa. Eandem paroemiam sic extulit Quintilianus Institutionum oratoriarum libro i.:
Libet propter quosdam imperitiores etiam crassiore, vt vocant, Musa dubitationem huius vtilitatis eximere.
Inuenitur aliquoties apud scriptores non inidoneos pinguiore formula pro eo, quod est: planius atque intelligibilius. Dictum est et Latine loqui pro eo, quod est: aperte et simpliciter. M. Tullius in Verrem:
Latine me scitote, non accusatorie loqui.
Idem in Philip.:
Sed vt solent ii, qui plane et Latine loquuntur.
Simplicius multo est, da paedicare, Latine/Dicere.
Ever wondered why Helen left Menelaos or why her sister Klytemnestra cheated on Agamemnon (other than the obvious)? Ancient poetry traced it back to a sin of their father
Schol. Ad Euripides’ Orestes 249:
“Stesichorus says that when Tyndareus was sacrificing to the gods he overlooked Aphrodite. For this reason, the angry goddess made his daughters thrice and twice married abandoners of husbands. The segment reads like this:
“Because when Tyndareus was sacrificing to all the gods
He neglected only the gentle-giving Kyprian
She was enraged and she made the daughters of Tyndareus
Twice and thrice married deserters of husbands.”
A fragment of Hesiod agrees with this (fr. 176):
Was enraged when she saw them: then she hung bad fame upon them.
After that, Timandra abandoned Ekhemos and left;
She went to Phyleus who was dear to the holy gods.
And so Klytemnestra abandoned shining Agamemnon
To lie alongside Aigisthos as she chose a lesser husband;
In the same way, Helen shamed the marriage-bed of fair Menelaos…”
This passage provides an explanation for why the daughters of Tyndareus—Helen and Andromache—were unfaithful: it was Aphrodite’s game from the beginning because their father did not worship her correctly. A few interesting aspects here: first, Helen is “thrice-married” because after Paris dies, she marries Deiphobus (although some accounts associate her with Theseus too). Second, Hesiod’s fragmentary poems seems to be in the process of cataloging women who leave their husbands.
The first woman in the tale is Timandra, who, according to only this passage, was a third daughter of Tyndareus who left her husband Ekhemos, a king of Arcadia. They had a son together, named Leodocus before she eloped with Phyleus. In another fragment from Hesiod (fr. 23) we learn more about the family of Tyndareus and Leda:
“After climbing into the lush bed of Tyndareus
Well-tressed Leda, as fair as the rays of the moon,
Gave birth to Timandra, cow-eyed Klytemnestra,
And Phylonoe whose body was most like the immortal goddesses.
Her…the arrow bearing goddesss
Made immortal and ageless for all days.”
Later on in the same fragment –after hearing about the marriage and children of Klytemnestra—we learn about Timandra:
“Ekhemos made Timandra his blooming wife,
The man who was the lord of all Tegea and Arcadia, wealthy in sheep,
A rich man who was dear to the gods.
She bore to him Laodakos, the horse-taming shepherd of the host,
After she was subdued by golden Aphrodite.”
This section of the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women seems to be mentioning only Leda’s children with Tyndareus and not those possibly fathered by Zeus (Helen, Kastor, Polydeukes). But we hear nothing of the future of Leda’s attractive daughter Phylonoe (also spelled Philonoe) other than that Artemis made her immortal. The ancient sources? Nothing at all to explain this.
Here’s what Apollodorus has to say (3.126):
“The sons of Ikarios and the Naiad nymph Periboia were Thoas, Damasippos, Imeusimos, Aletes, Perileôs, and a daughter Penelope, whom Odysseus married. Tyndareus and Lêda had Timandra, whom Ekhemos married, and Klytemnestra, whom Agamemnon married, and also Pylonoê, whom Artemis made immortal.”
Apart from the appearance in the fragment from Hesiod, the only other mention of Phylonoê in classical literature is in the work of the early Christian philosopher and apologist, Athenagoras of Athens (3rd Century CE) who wrote works to Marcus Aurelius and his son Commodus defending Christianity. In his Legativo sive Suppliatio pro Christianis he writes of how to foreigners it may seem laughable if “a Lakedaimonian honors Zeus-Agamemnon or Phylonoê, the daughter of Tyndareus.” (ὁ δὲ Λακεδαιμόνιος ᾿Αγαμέμνονα Δία καὶ Φυλονόην τὴν Τυνδάρεω θυγατέρα καὶ τεννηνοδίαν † σέβει, 1.1.6).
But there is no other information about why Phylonoê was made immortal or what her cult-rites (if they existed were like). Now, given the motifs usually associated with Artemis and the story told by Hesiod about the daughters of Tyndareus and their curse, the following scenario is possible. Perhaps Phylonoê, conscious of the curse, dedicated herself to Artemis and was saved from her sisters’ fate before her first marriage.
If we return to that passage from Hesiod (fr. 23) we can see just how much is reconstructed. Below is the text with and without the supplements
It is clear that without the passage from Apollodorus and the slight bit from Athenagoras, there wouldn’t be too much to go on here. The reconstruction of line 12 seems fairly safe based on the classic formula used there (note line 24 in the same fragment: θῆκεν δ’ ἀθάνατο[ν καὶ ἀγήρ]αον ἤμα[τα πάντα). Line seven is a rather decent restoration based on Leda in the next line. Line 11 seems like I might need at least a name for the goddess (although, this is not necessary, see line 21 in the same fragment: εἴδω[λον· αὐτὴν δ’ ἐλαφηβό]λο̣ς ἰοχέαιρα) leaving room for some allusion to what transpired to earn Phylonoê immortality.
But the whole passage seems a bit strange to me because it proceeds with a mirrored catalogue: the daughters are listed (A) Timandra, (B) Klytemnestra and (C) Phylonoê. The following elaborations are (C) Pholonoê 10-12, (B) Klytemnestra, 13-30, (A) Timandra, 31-36. This puts the most elaborated story in the middle, as well as offering a mirrored tale.
What good to me will swift Achilles be when he is sung about? What will one and the other of the sons of Atreus do for me, or the one who wasted as many years wandering around as he did in war, or lamentable Hector taken away by Haemonian horses? But if the face of the delicate girl has often been praised, she herself will come (the price of the poem) to the poet. A great fee is thus paid! Farewell, renowned names of heroes! Your favor is not suited to me. Girls, direct your beautiful faces to my songs, which purple Love dictates to me!
Quid mihi profuerit velox cantatus Achilles?
quid pro me Atrides alter et alter agent,
quique tot errando, quot bello, perdidit annos,
raptus et Haemoniis flebilis Hector equis?
at facie tenerae laudata saepe puellae,
ad vatem, pretium carminis, ipsa venit.
magna datur merces! heroum clara valete
nomina; non apta est gratia vestra mihi!
ad mea formosos vultus adhibete, puellae,
carmina, purpureus quae mihi dictat Amor!
After he had been condemned to die by the Athenians and when his wife Xanthippe was weeping and saying “Socrates, you are dying unjustly”, Socrates the Athenian said to her “would you want me to die justly?”
There is no luck in literary reputation. They who make up the final verdict upon every book are not the partial and noisy readers of the hour when it appears; but a court as of angels, a public not to be bribed, not to be entreated, and not to be overawed, decides upon every man’s title to fame. Only those books come down which deserve to last. Gilt edges, vellum, and morocco, and presentation-copies to all the libraries, will not preserve a book in circulation beyond its intrinsic date. It must go with all Walpole’s Noble and Royal Authors to its fate. Blackmore, Kotzebue, or Pollok may endure for a night, but Moses and Homer stand for ever. There are not in the world at any one time more than a dozen persons who read and understand Plato:–never enough to pay for an edition of his works; yet to every generation these come duly down, for the sake of those few persons, as if God brought them in his hand. “No book,” said Bentley, “was ever written down by any but itself.” The permanence of all books is fixed by no effort friendly or hostile, but by their own specific gravity, or the intrinsic importance of their contents to the constant mind of man. “Do not trouble yourself too much about the light on your statue,” said Michel Angelo to the young sculptor; “the light of the public square will test its value.”
“When Antagoras the poet had a performance at Thebes and obtained no honor, he said “Thebans, Odysseus screwed up when he covered his companions’ ears as he was sailing by the Sirens. It would have been right for him to hire you as sailors.”
“When Antagoras the Rhodian epic poet was reading his composition the Thebais in Thebes and no one was applauding him, he took the book and said, “You are rightly called Boiotians, for you all have cows’ ears!”
WITH A THICK MINERVA. WITH A FAT MINERVA. WITH A THICKER MUSE.
Minerva, according to the stories of poets, presides over arts and minds. From this came the phrase: Minerva unwilling. Beyond that, there was also the phrase with a fat or with a thick Minerva, which is indeed sometimes granted the solemn honor of being treated as a proverb. Columella, in the first chapter of his twelfth book of On Rural Matters, writes,
In this study of the country, however, scrupulosity of that sort is not examined, but as it is said, as long as he has a fat Minerva, a useful presage of a future storm will fall to the overseer.
Similarly, in the preface of the first book:
For agricultural matters can be administered neither by the subtlest nor on the other hand, as they say, by a fat Minerva.
And again, he also writes in the tenth book:
Nor is the subtlety of Hipparchus necessary to what they call the more fertile letters of rustic people.
That is said to occur with a fatter Minerva which occurs with less order, and with more simplicity, as if with less learning, and not with refined or exceptionally exacting care. Thus, when that Priapus, asks with naked words, though he could have sought it more urbanely through verbal convolutions, he says, ‘My Minerva is thick.’ And Horace, describing a philosopher instructed not in those precise reasonings and subtleties of the Stoics, but as if, without any art, expressing his philosophy according to his custom, and not so much learned as simple and sincere, says,
A rustic, irregularly wise and with a thick Minerva.
Aulus Gellius, in Attic Nights 14.1, writes,
Nevertheless, it was his opinion that in no way could that be comprehended and understood by however brilliant a human mind in such a brief and exiguous space of life, but that some few things were subject to mere conjecture and, if I may use his phrase, with a παχύτερον,
Minerua iuxta poetarum fabulas artibus atque ingeniis praesidet. Vnde et illud fluxit: Inuita Minerua. Praeterea illud Pingui seu crassa Minerua, quod quidem iam olim prouerbii vice celebratur. Columella libro De re
rustica duodecimo, capite primo.
In hac autem, inquit, ruris disciplina non consideratur eiusmodi scrupulositas, sed quod dicitur, pingui Minerua, quantumuis vtile continget villico tempestatis futurae praesagium.
Idem in primi libri praefatione:
Potest enim nec subtilissima nec rursum, quod aiunt, pingui Minerua res agrestis administrari.
Idem libro decimo:
Nec tamen Hipparci subtilitas pinguioribus, vt aiunt, rusticorum literis necessaria est.
Dicitur pinguiore Minerua fieri, quod inconditius simpliciusque quasique indoctius fit, non autem exquisita arte nec exactissima cura. Vnde et Priapus ille, cum rem obscoenam, quam poterat vrbanius per inuolucra verborum petere, nudis verbis rogat, Crassa, inquit, Minerua mea est. Et Horatius philosophum describens non exactis illis Stoicorum rationibus atque argutiis instructum, sed veluti citra artem philosophiam moribus exprimentem neque tam disertum quam simplicem ac syncerum,
Nequaquam tamen id censebat in tam breui exiguoque vitae spatio, quantouis hominis ingenio comprehendi posse et percipi, sed coniectari pauca quaedam et, vt verbo ipsius vtar, παχύτερον, id est crassius et pingui Minerua.
 Erasmus is stretching the application of this excerpt.
“Some days bring great advantage to mortals on the earth,
But others are unpredictable, aimless, providing nothing.
One person praises one, another praises a different one,
But few know at all. One day’s a mother, another a stepmother.
Lucky and blessed is someone who knows all these things
And does all their work without angering the gods,
Judging all the bird signs and avoiding excesses.”
“Inhabitants of Sparta, most hateful of mortals
To all people, masters of tricks,
Lords of lies, devious plotters of evils,
You never have a healthy thought but everything
Is twisted—oh, it is wrong that you’re lucky in Greece.
What don’t you do? Don’t you have the most murders?”