Bellum Incivile: The Loyal Fixer

Another text tentatively attributed to Caesar was discovered along with the fragments of the De Silvis and an appendix to De Bello Gallico. This is almost surely the lost Bellum Incivile. The second passage was thought by some scholars to be part of a larger work called De Fraude, but recent evidence has all but proven it is related to Manicula’s exploits in Bellum Incivile

2.15 When he learned of these situations, M. Cohen, lest Manicula’s popularity be diminished among the people on account of this scandal and rumors change the opinion of voters (later it became known that Manicula’s moral failures would actually increase his appeal among many and that the Candidi* would believe all of his words) made big payments to the women. Since Cohen had constantly asserted he would never abandon Mancula’s cause and often used to say “A person who deserves my loyalty receives it,” Manicula trusted him greatly.

2.15 His rebus cognitis M. Coenus, ne gratia Maniculae propter flagitium minueretur rumorque opinionem suffragatorum commutaret (postea eius dedecus eam inter multos etiam aucturum Candidosque omnibus eius verbis credituros cognitum est), magnam pecuniam mulieris numeravit. Qui cum se numquam ab amicitia defecturum continuo confirmaret dignosque fide fidem accipere diceret, Manicula ei maxime confidebat.

*There is much debate over the Candidi. Some refer to this group simply as the “Whites,” while others prefer not to translate the term. There are fine scholars on both sides of this debate.

A connected text was found with extensive black markings which a team of paleographers and scientists determined were added intentionally shortly after the piece was written.  Based on similar phrases and the appearance of Maniculam, scholars believe the following should be included among the fragmenta incerta aut dubia of the Bellum Incivile.

?.?  Having accepted payments, M. Flynn was of great service to Turkey and (…) although he was national security advisor. Individual 1 ordered him to (….) and (…) secretly so that (….). At that same time Russians came to (….) complaining that punishments were exacted because of nonexistent offenses and that they had great hope that through his influence Manicula would put an end to the sanctions. (…) Flynn, having spoken with (…) about leniency, (…)

?.? Praemiis acceptis M. Flinnus cum consilia de patriae salute daret magno auxilio Galatianis fuit et (…). Prima Persona eum (…) et (…) clam ut (….) iussit. Eodem tempore Scythiani ad (…) veniebant questum poenas pro vanis iniuriis repetitas magnamque se habere spem auctoritate Maniculam finem suppliciis facturum. (…) Flinnus cum (….) de lenitate locutus, (…)

Image result for heavily damaged latin manuscripts

Silver For Gold: Strategic Gift Exchange for the Holiday Season

Julian, Letter 63 (To Hecebolus)

“…but the story is from ancient men. If, then, I were to give to you silver as swap of equal worth when you sent me gold, do not value the favor less nor, as Glaukos did, believe that the exchange is harmful, since not even Diomedes would switch silver armor for gold since the former is much more practical than the latter in the way of lead that is shaped for the ends of spears.

I am joking with you! I have assumed a certain freedom of speech based on the example you have written yourself. But, if in truth you want to send me gifts worth more than gold, write and don’t ever stop writing to me! For even a brief note from you is more dear to me than anything someone else might consider good.”

ἀλλὰ παλαιῶν ἀνδρῶν ὁ λόγος ἐστίν. εἰ δέ σοι τοῦ πεμφθέντος ὑπὸ σοῦ χρυσοῦ νομίσματος εἰς τὸ ἴσον τῆς τιμῆς ἕτερον ἀργύρεον ἀντιδίδομεν, μὴ κρίνῃς ἥττω τὴν χάριν, μηδὲ ὥσπερ τῷ Γλαύκῳ πρὸς τὸ ἔλαττον οἰηθῇς εἶναι τὴν ἀντίδοσιν, ἐπεὶ μηδὲ ὁ Διομήδης ἴσως ἀργυρᾶ χρυσῶν ἀντέδωκεν ἄν,1 ἅτε δὴ πολλῷ τῶν ἑτέρων ὄντα χρησιμώτερα καὶ τὰς αἰχμὰς οἱονεὶ μολίβδου δίκην ἐκτρέπειν εἰδότα. ταῦτά σοι προσπαίζομεν, ἀφ᾿ ὧν αὐτὸς γράφεις τὸ ἐνδόσιμον εἰς σὲ τῆς παρρησίας λαμβάνοντες. σὺ δὲ εἰ τῷ ὄντι χρυσοῦ τιμιώτερα ἡμῖν δῶρα ἐθέλεις ἐκπέμπειν, γράφε, καὶ μὴ λῆγε συνεχῶς τοῦτο πράττων· ἐμοὶ γὰρ καὶ γράμμα παρὰ σοῦ μικρὸν ὅτου περ ἂν εἴπῃ τις ἀγαθοῦ κάλλιον εἶναι κρίνεται.

Who knew that the popular Christmas song was inspired by Julian the Apostate?

Julian is referring to the famous scene of exchange between Diomedes and Glaukos in the Iliad (6.230-236)

“Let’s exchange armor with one another so that even these people
May know that we claim to be guest-friends from our fathers’ lines.”

So they spoke and leapt down from their horses,
Took one another’s hands and made their pledge.
Then Kronos’s son Zeus stole away Glaukos’ wits,
For he traded to Diomedes golden arms in exchange for bronze,
weapons worth one hundred oxen traded for those worth nine.”

τεύχεα δ’ ἀλλήλοις ἐπαμείψομεν, ὄφρα καὶ οἷδε
γνῶσιν ὅτι ξεῖνοι πατρώϊοι εὐχόμεθ’ εἶναι.
῝Ως ἄρα φωνήσαντε καθ’ ἵππων ἀΐξαντε
χεῖράς τ’ ἀλλήλων λαβέτην καὶ πιστώσαντο·
ἔνθ’ αὖτε Γλαύκῳ Κρονίδης φρένας ἐξέλετο Ζεύς,
ὃς πρὸς Τυδεΐδην Διομήδεα τεύχε’ ἄμειβε
χρύσεα χαλκείων, ἑκατόμβοι’ ἐννεαβοίων.

Schol. ad. Il. 6.234b ex.

“Kronos’ son Zeus took Glaukos’ wits away”. Because he was adorning him among his allies with more conspicuous weapons. Or, because they were made by Hephaistos. Or, as Pios claims, so that [the poet?] might amplify the Greek since they do not make an equal exchange—a thing which would be sweet to the audience.

Or, perhaps he credits him more, that he was adorned with conspicuous arms among his own and his allies. For, wherever these arms are, it is a likely place for an enemy attack.”

ex. ἔνθ’ αὖτε Γλαύκῳ <Κρονίδης> φρένας ἐξέλετο: ὅτι κατὰ τῶν συμμάχων ἐκόσμει λαμπροτέροις αὐτὸν ὅπλοις. ἢ ὡς ῾Ηφαιστότευκτα. ἢ, ὡς Πῖος (fr. 2 H.), ἵνα κἀν τούτῳ αὐξήσῃ τὸν ῞Ελληνα μὴ ἐξ ἴσου ἀπηλ<λ>αγμένον, ὅπερ ἡδὺ τοῖς ἀκούουσιν. T
ἢ μᾶλλον αἰτιᾶται αὐτόν, ὅτι λαμπροῖς ὅπλοις ἐκοσμεῖτο κατὰ ἑαυτοῦ καὶ τῶν συμμάχων· ὅπου γὰρ ταῦτα, εὔκαιρος ἡ τῶν πολεμίων ὁρμή. b(BE3E4)

I always thought that Glaukos got a raw deal from interpreters here. Prior to the stories Diomedes and Glaukos tell each other, Diomedes was just murdering everyone in his path. Glaukos—who already knew who Diomedes was before he addressed him—tells a great tale, gives Diomedes his golden weapons, and actually lives to the end of the poem. I think this is far from a witless move. And, if the armor is especially conspicuous, maybe the plan-within-a-plan is to put a golden target on Diomedes’ back.

Image result for silver and gold still

A Mythical Monday: The Minotaur’s Origin

Since Erik posted about Moonface’s Album of Songs about the Minotaur, I have been listening to it while driving my children to school. (They love it. They keep asking to listen to it. I think I have ruined them). The actual material about the Minotaur from ancient remains is mostly about Theseus. Here are some passages about Pasiphae and the Minotaur.

Hesiod, Fr. 145.13–17

“When he looked in her eyes he longed for her
[and she gave herself over to the bull]
After she was impregnated, she gave birth to a powerful son to Minos,
A wonder to see: for he had the appearance of man
Down to his feet, but a bull’s head grew on top.”

τῆς δ’ ἄρ’ [ἐν ὀ]φθαλμοῖσιν̣ ἰ̣δὼν ἠράσ̣[σατο
†ταύρωι̣.[…]ρ̣ι̣μενησ̣κ̣α̣μ̣ε̣ρ̣μ̣ιδαο̣τα̣[†
ἣ δ’ ὑποκ̣[υσα]μένη Μίνωι τέκε κα[ρτερὸν υἱόν,
θαῦμα ἰ[δεῖν·] σ̣α μὲν γὰρ ἐπ̣έ̣κ̣λ̣ι̣ν̣[εν δέμας ἀνδρὶ
ἐς πόδα̣[ς], α̣ὐ̣τ̣ὰρ ὕ̣π̣ε̣ρθε κάρ̣η τ̣α̣[ύροιο πεφύκει

Suda, Epsilon 1421

“In every myth there is also Daidalos’ corruption”: People say that because Pasiphae lusted after a bull, she begged Daidalos to make her a wooden cow and, once he had set it up, to put her in it. When the bull mounted her as a cow he made her pregnant. The Minotaur was born from this. For certain reasons Minos was angry at the Athenians and he took from them seven maidens and the same number of youths. They were thrown to the beast. Since origin and responsibility for these evils were attributed to Daidalos and he was hated for them, this was translated into the proverb.”

᾿Εν παντὶ μύθῳ καὶ τὸ Δαιδάλου μύσος· Πασιφάην φασὶν ἐρασθεῖσαν ταύρου Δαίδαλον ἱκετεῦσαι ποιῆσαι ξυλίνην βοῦν καὶ κατασκευάσαντα αὐτὴν ἐνθεῖναι· ἣν ἐπιβαίνων ὡς βοῦν ὁ ταῦρος ἐγκύμονα ἐποίησεν. ἐξ ἧς ἐγεννήθη ὁ Μινώταυρος. Μίνως δὲ διά τινας αἰτίας ὀργιζόμενος τοῖς ᾿Αθηναίοις ἑπτὰ παρθένους καὶ ἴσους νέους ἐξ αὐτῶν ἐδασμολογεῖτο· οἳ παρεβάλλοντο τῷ θηρίῳ. εἰς Δαίδαλον οὖν ἀρχηγὸν τούτων τῶν κακῶν καὶ αἴτιον γενόμενον καὶ μυσαχθέντα ἐξηνέχθη εἰς παροιμίαν.

Heraclitus the Paradoxographer, 7 Concerning Pasiphae

“People claim that [Pasiphae] lusted after the Bull, not, as many believe, for an animal in a herd—for it would be ridiculous for a queen to desire such uncommon intercourse—instead she lusted for a certain local man whose name was Tauro [the bull]. She used as an accomplice for her desire Daidalos and she was impregnated. Then she gave birth to a son whom many used to call “Minos” but they would compare him to Tauro because of his similarity to him. So, he was nicknamed Mino-tauros from the combination.”

Περὶ Πασιφάης.
Ταύτην φασὶν ἐρασθῆναι Ταύρου, οὐχ, ὡς πολλοὶ
νομίζουσι, τοῦ κατὰ τὴν ἀγέλην ζῴου (γελοῖον γὰρ
ἀκοινωνήτου συνουσίας ὠρέχθαι τὴν βασίλισσαν), ἑνὸς
δέ τινος τῶν ἐντοπίων, ᾧ Ταῦρος ἦν ὄνομα. συνεργῷ
δὲ χρησαμένη πρὸς τὴν ἐπιθυμίαν Δαιδάλῳ καὶ γεγο-
νυῖα ἔγγυος, ἐγέννησε καθ’ ὁμοιότητα τοῦ Ταύρου
<υἱόν>, ὃν οἱ πολλοὶ Μίνω μὲν ἐκάλουν, Ταύρῳ δὲ
εἴκαζον· κατὰ δὲ σύνθεσιν Μινώταυρος ἐκλήθη.

Bacchylides, Dith. 26 (P.Oxy. 2364 fr. 1)

“[in] Pasiphae
The Kyprian goddess [sewed]
Longing [….]
To the son Eupalamos
The wisest of the craftsmen
She told Daidalos [about]
Her sickness. Credible oaths
She ordered him to make [so that]
So that she might have sex with the bull
But keep it secret from her husband
Minos, the oppressive-archer,
The general of the Knossians.
But when he learned of the tale,
He was overtaken by worry and
[about his] wife….

[ ]θεα̣ καὶ γ[.].[ ]
φρα.[ ]
Πασι[φ]ά̣[α]
εν Κύπ[ρις]
πόθον [ ]
Εὐπαλά[μοι’] υἱε[ῖ]
τεκτόν[ω]ν σοφω̣[τάτῳ]
φράσε Δαιδάλῳ ά.[ ]
νόσον· ὅρκια πισ[τ]
[ τ]ε τεύχειν κέλευ[σε]
μ̣είξειε ταυρείῳ σ[ ]
κρύπτουσα σύννο̣[μον]
Μίνωα [τ]οξοδάμαν[τα]
Κνωσσίων στρατα[γέταν·]
ὁ δ’ ἐπεὶ μάθε μῦθο[ν]
σχέτο φροντίδι· δε[ ]
[ ]ἀλόχου[ ]

Image result for greek minotaur vase baby

This is the most superior image of the Minotaur by far. Pasiphae’s expression is perfect.

 

Advice on Buying Gifts from Seneca

Seneca, De Beneficiis 1.11-12

“Let’s imagine what might be worth the greatest pleasure after it has been given—what would greet the recipient’s eye frequently and make him think of us whenever he sees it. Each time let us be wary not to send useless gifts, such as hunting implements to a woman or an old man, books to a simpleton or fishing nets to someone dedicated to literature. However, we should be equally mindful that, although we want to send welcome gifts, we do not send things which will reprove someone for a failing, such as sending wine to a drunk or medicine to a healthy man. For something which uncovers a fault in the recipient turns out to be an insult not a gift.

If the choice of the gift is our choice, we should think especially of things which will endure, that the gift may last as long as possible. For there are truly few people so grateful that they will think about what they have received when they do not see it. But memory revives for the ungrateful with the gift itself when it is in front of them and it will not allow them to be forgetful. And we should seek gifts which endure even more for the fact that we ought not to ever remind people: let the things themselves prompt a fading memory.

I will give silver which is sculpted rather than money and I give statues more freely than clothing or things which will deteriorate after brief use. Gratitude lasts among few longer than the objects themselves. Greater is the number among whom gifts remain in mind no longer than they are in use. So I, if it is possible, do not want my gift to be used up. Let it last, let it stick fast to my friend. Let it live alongside him.”

Videamus, quid oblatum maxime voluptati futurum sit, quid frequenter occursurum habenti, ut totiens nobiscum quotiens cum illo sit. Utique cavebimus, ne munera supervacua mittamus, ut feminae aut seni arma venatoria, ut rustico libros, ut studiis ac litteris dedito retia. Aeque ex contrario circumspiciemus,ne, dum grata mittere volumus, suum cuique morbum exprobratura mittamus, sicut ebrioso vina et valetudinario medicamenta. Maledictum enim incipit esse, non munus, in quo vitium accipientis adgnoscitur.

Si arbitrium dandi penes nos est, praecipue mansura quaeremus, ut quam minime mortale munus sit. Pauci enim sunt tam grati, ut, quid acceperint, etiam si non vident, cogitent. Ingratos quoque memoria cum ipso munere incurrit, ubi ante oculos est et oblivisci sui non sinit, sed auctorem suum ingerit et inculcat. Eo quidem magis duratura quaeramus, quia numquam admonere debemus; ipsa res evanescentem memoriam excitet. Libentius donabo argentum factum quam signatum; libentius statuas quam vestem et quod usus brevis deterat. Apud paucos post rem manet gratia; plures sunt, apud quos non diutius in animo sunt donata, quam in usu. Ego, si fieri potest, consumi munus meum nolo; extet, haereat amico meo, convivat.

 

Related image

 

“Where Is the Soul From?” And Other Casual Conversation Starters

Or, Philo just gets me…

Philo, On the Cherubim  32 (115)

“Where did the soul come from and where will it go? For how much time will it be our companion? Are we capable of saying that its nature is? When did we receive it? Was it before we were born? But, we did not exist then. Was it after death? But, then, we will not be as we are now, conjoined to bodies, but we will rush towards rebirth, among the bodiless, without characteristics, without connections.

And even now as we live we are ruled rather than ruling and we are known rather than knowing. The soul knows us even if we do not know it. It issues orders which we necessarily obey just as slaves obey their mistress. And whenever it wants, it will demand from the judge a divorce from us and it will depart, leaving behind a home bereft of life. If we try to force it to stay, it will escape. Its nature is so fine, that it provides nowhere for the body to cling to.”

πόθεν δὲ ἦλθεν ἡ ψυχή, ποῖ δὲ χωρήσει, πόσον δὲ χρόνον ἡμῖν ὁμοδίαιτος ἔσται; τίς δέ ἐστι τὴν οὐσίαν ἔχομεν εἰπεῖν; πότε δὲ καὶ ἐκτησάμεθα αὐτήν; πρὸ γενέσεως; ἀλλ᾿ οὐχ ὑπήρχομεν· μετὰ τὸν θάνατον; ἀλλ᾿ οὐκ ἐσόμεθα οἱ μετὰ σωμάτων σύγκριτοι ποιοί, ἀλλ᾿ εἰς παλιγγενεσίαν ὁρμήσομεν οἱ μετὰ ἀσωμάτων ἀσύγκριτοι ἄποιοί.

ἀλλὰ νῦν ὅτε ζῶμεν κρατούμεθα μᾶλλον ἢ | ἄρχομεν καὶ γνωριζόμεθα μᾶλλον ἢ γνωρίζομεν· οἶδε γὰρ ἡμᾶς οὐ γνωριζομένη πρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ ἐπιτάγματα ἐπιτάττει, οἷς ἐξ ἀνάγκης ὑπηρετοῦμεν ὡς οἰκέται δεσποίνῃ· ἀπόλειψίν τε ὅταν ἐθέλῃ πρὸς τὸν ἄρχοντα χρηματίσασα μεταναστήσεται ἔρημον καταλιποῦσα ζωῆς τὸν ἡμέτερον οἶκον, κἂν ἐπιμένειν βιαζώμεθα, διαλύσεται· λεπτομερὴς γὰρ αὐτῆς ἡ φύσις, ὡς μηδεμίαν ἐμπαρέχειν λαβὴν σώματι.

Pseudo-Scholarship and Profit

E.M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel

“The scholar, like the philosopher, can contemplate the river of time. He contemplates it not as a whole, but he can see the facts, the personalities, floating past him, and estimate the relations between them, and if his conclusions could be as valuable to us as they are to himself he would long ago have civilized the human race. As you know, he has failed. True scholarship is incommunicable, true scholars rare. There are a few scholars, actual or potential, in the audience today, but only a few, and there is certainly none on the platform. Most of us are pseudo-scholars, and I want to consider our characteristics with sympathy and respect, for we are a very large and quite a powerful class, eminent in Church and State, we control the education of the Empire, we lend to the Press such distinction as it consents to receive, and we are a welcome asset at dinner-parties.

Pseudo-scholarship is, on its good side, the homage paid by ignorance to learning. It also has an economic side, on which we need not be hard. Most of us must get a job before thirty, or sponge on our relatives, and many jobs can only be got by passing an exam. The pseudo-scholar often does well in examination (real scholars are not much good), and even when he fails he appreciates their innate majesty. They are gateways to employment, they have power to ban and bless. A paper on King Lear may lead somewhere, unlike the rather far-fetched play of the same name. It may be a stepping-stone to the Local Government Board. He does not often put it to himself openly and say ‘That’s the use of knowing things, they help you to get on.’ The economic pressure he feels is more often subconscious, and he goes to his exam, merely feeling that a paper on King Lear is a very tempestuous and terrible experience but an intensely real one. And whether he be cynical or naif, he is not to be blamed. As long as learning is connected with earning, as long as certain jobs can only be reached through exams, so long must we take the examination system seriously. If another ladder to employment was contrived, much so-called education would disappear, and no one be a penny the stupider.”

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Philo Can’t Trust His Mind: On Senses and Self

Philo, On the Cherubim, 116 (33)

“Is my mind my own private possession? It is a creator of lies, a founder of wandering, of paranoia, of foolishness, a thing revealed to be the opposite of a mind in its mania and depression and eventual old age.

Is what I say my own private possession or the organs of speech? Isn’t a minor sickness enough to weaken the tongue or to sew up the mouth of even the most articulate? Doesn’t the expectation of terror strike and render most people mute?

And I am not revealed to be master even of my perception—instead, I think I am even its servant following wherever it leads to colors, shapes, sounds, smells, tastes and other corporeal things.”

ὁ δὲ νοῦς ἐμόν ἐστιν ἴδιον κτῆμα; ὁ ψευδῶν εἰκαστικός, ὁ πλάνης οἰστικός, ὁ παρανοῶν, ὁ μωραίνων, ὁ εὑρισκόμενος ἄνους ἐν ἐκστάσει καὶ μελαγχολίᾳ καὶ μακρῷ γήρᾳ; ἀλλ᾿ ὁ λόγος κτῆμα ἐμόν; ἢ τὰ φωνῆς ὄργανα; μικρὰ νόσου πρόφασις οὐ τὴν γλῶτταν ἐπήρωσεν, οὐ τὸ στόμα καὶ τῶν πάνυ λογίων ἀπέρραψεν; οὐχὶ δεινοῦ προσδοκία καταπλήξασα μυρίους ἀχανεῖς ἐποίησε; καὶ μὴν οὐδὲ τῆς αἰσθήσεως ἡγεμὼν εὑρίσκομαι, τάχα δέ που καὶ δοῦλος ἀκολουθῶν ᾗ ἂν ἄγῃ, πρὸς χρώματα, πρὸς σχήματα, πρὸς φωνάς, πρὸς ὀσμάς, πρὸς χυλούς, πρὸς τὰ ἄλλα σώματα.

 

This image has nothing to do with this passage. I just think it is amazing.

Holiday Shopping Advice from Claudius Terentianus

As we are right in the fray of holiday shopping season, it’s a great time to consider a few gifts for the people in your life. Why not look to the Roman Empire—a place of great practicality—for inspiration this year?

Claudius Terentianus, an Egyptian who lived in the 1st-2nd century CE and who served in the Roman military in Egypt and Syria, was quite fond of purchasing gifts of the utmost usefulness. As we add things to our shopping carts (either in-person or online) this year, let’s keep in mind some of the gifts Claudius was happy to give. From warm winter clothing to dinnerware, and, yes, even housing for your chickens, there is something here for everyone.

(Be warned—the Latin is very much non-standard)

P. Mich. 8, 467

[m]isi tibi vac. amphoras II olivarum co[lym]bade [un]a et uṇ[a] ṇigrạ…

“I sent you two amphorae of olives, one jar of brined and the other jar of black.”

P. Mich. 8, 468

mịṣị [ti]bi pater…imboluclum concosu[tu]m in quo habes amicla par unu amictoriạ [pa]r unu sabana par unu saccos par unu…sṭṛ[a]glum lini[u]… et [h]abes in imboluclum amictorium sịnglare hunc tibi mater mea misit…

“Father, I sent you a sealed bag in which you have two cloaks, two capes, two towels, two bags, and a linen cover. You also have in the bag a special cloak which my mother sent to you.”

P. Mich. 8, 468

[e]t acc̣ịpiạs caveam gallinaria in qua ha[bes] sunṭhes[  ̣  ̣] vitriae et phialas quinarias p[ar u]nu et calices paria sex et chartas sc[holare]ṣ d[u]ạṣ et in charta atramentum et c̣ạḷamos q̣[u]ị[nq]ụẹ et panes Alexandrinos viginṭi…

“And, you will get a chicken coop in which you have glasses, two quinarius-sized bowls, twelve cups, two writing scrolls, ink (inside the scrolls), five reed pens, and twenty loaves of Alexandrian bread.”

P. Mich. 8, 468

καὶ διὰ…ἄλλο σοι ἀπέσ[τα]λκα.

“And I have sent another (basket).”

(Unfortunately he didn’t mention the contents of the baskets he sent to his sister.)

RomeMerchants (1)

Food, Love, and Horace

It was just over ten years ago that I first the door of a garish green building on the outskirts of San Antonio’s Medical Center. I hate this part of town, but I was after that day to be drawn back to it countless times as the spot became a central point in the geography of my physical and emotional world. I entered into a dimly-lit dining room, an enveloping fold of hot, garlic-infused air, through which were conveyed the sounds of Indian pop music. There was the buffet, which promised unlimited sensual delight in exchange for ten dollars and a willingness to wallow in one’s own crapulence for hours afterward. This was Bombay Hall.

Image result for bombay hall san antonio

My girlfriend at that time one decade ago was craving Indian food, and whether by chance or by fate, we chose this place. We were promptly seated at one of the tables whose glass tops served as frames for the glamorous posters of Indian pop and film stars. Early in the meal, I began coughing violently. One of the two owners, who was to become a familiar face over the subsequent period of my life, mistook this as an amateur’s response to spicy food (to which I am no stranger), and offered me a sugar packet to cut the heat. It seemed that it would be churlish in the face of such generosity to save face by noting that I was simply choking and not overwhelmed by the curry, so I obligingly consumed the sugar packet which had been so kindly proffered. We enjoyed our meal thoroughly, and though I did not stay in touch with my partner in that first excursion, the memory of that meal left an indelible mark upon my heart which our relationship never did.

After receiving the news that Bombay Hall had been closed, I began to engage in that most salutary of human activities: nostalgic retrospective. In the course of this, I could see through the roseate lenses of my retrospectacles that almost everyone who matters most to me in life had been there at Bombay Hall with me.

Image result for bombay hall san antonio

This small and unassuming Indian restaurant has an emotional resonance for me which no other place can even approximate. Bombay Hall was the site of the last meal that I shared with my father. It was here that Joel used to bring his students for a celebratory lunch following final exams; in the early days of our collaboration, he used to invite me to these lunches, where I saw what it meant for a teacher to be a member of a real community and not simply an extension of bureaucratic power. My brother and I made something of a ritual out of much-too-frequent visits to what we affectionately called ‘B-Hall.’ One month, I was aghast to see that after a month in which I made twenty visits there, I had spent over $400 in addition to the physical and psychic toll of my postprandial discomfort. One year, my sole contribution to Thanksgiving dinner was a large order of samosas, which introduced the rest of my family to B-Hall’s gustatory siren song.

Joel once observed that, though it was not the best food one could get, it was always consistently excellent and delivered with a certain comforting familiarity. Yet, as much as I remember and still crave the food itself, it is the personal element which makes it my all-time favorite restaurant. My lunches with Joel and dinners with my brother are tokens of the love I feel for the people who have meant most to me in life, and somehow these disparate experiences are linked together in the physical space of one dining room. Just over four years ago, I was accepted to a graduate program, and knew that I would be leaving this city behind. No one laments the loss of the buildings, the roads, or the city government. I wept when I thought of the people whom I would leave behind, consigned for the foreseeable future to the department of memory and correspondence – and then I took my brother to B-Hall.

I could have left the city, but a job offer here combined with my own anxiety about the oft-discussed disappointments of post-graduate life brought me to do something which I now (from the comfortable perch of relative economic security) cannot believe: I turned down my dream of graduate study, and stayed here.

I received a text from my brother last night indicating that Bombay Hall was permanently closed. This came as the greatest shock to me, in part because it had always seemed to be a perennial institution, and perhaps even more so because I had dreamt about just such a calamity the night before. Had I left the city, the possibility of returning and reforging the old link would have still remained. Had I been gone, I don’t think that B-Hall’s closing would have affected me so from a distance. Yet, now that it is closed, that physical link has slipped away forever in the devouring sands of time. To be sure, other rituals and other spaces may give continuity and connection to my emotional life, but they can never do what B-Hall did: Joel is now gone, my brother and I have far less free time than before, and the heady air of romance and excitement of my early 20’s could never be duplicated and imprinted upon a physical spot. Leaving B-Hall, I always felt that my stomach would explode, but the discomfort would invariably subside – now, my heart is bursting with these happy memories of times and experiences which are just as lost to me as is each bite of the food I ate there.

“As we speak, hateful time will have escaped us.”

Dum loquimur, fugerit invida aetas

We teach Horace to kids, but perhaps it’s true that one can only truly appreciate him in middle age and beyond. I knew my Horace then, and could readily explain in an abstract way the importance of seizing the day, but it is only the sense of loss – the day which is gone whether seized or not – which gives one a real appreciation of just how sad our happiness can make us.

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Fragmentary Friday: A Poetic Competition Between Mountains

The following fragment is from a poem whose central conceit is a singing contest between Mt. Kithairon and Mt. Helikon. The former wins; the latter loses. Mountains leave happy and sad….

Korinna, Fr. 654. 15-34 [P. Berol. 284, prim. ed. Wilamowitz, B.K.T. v 2 (1907)]

“…the Kouretes
Sheltered the sacred offspring
Of the goddess in secret
From crooked-monded Kronos
When blessed Rhea stole him
And earned great honor among
The immortal gods….”
He sang those things.
Immediately the Muses told
The gods to cast their secret
Votes into the gold-gleaming urns.
They all rose up at once.

Then Kithairôn took the greater number.
Hermes quickly announced
By shouting that he had won
His longed-for victory
And the gods decorated him
With garlands[…]
And his mind filled with joy.

But the other, Helikon,
Overcome by hard griefs,
Ripped out a smooth rock
and the mountain [shook].
He broke it from on high
Painfully into ten thousand stones…”

τες ἔκρου]ψ̣αν δάθιο̣[ν θι]ᾶς
βρέφο]ς ἄντροι, λαθρά[δα]ν ἀγ-
κο]υλομείταο Κρόνω, τα-
()νίκά νιν κλέψε μάκηρα ῾Ρεία
μεγ]άλαν τ’ [ἀ]θανάτων ἔσ-
ς] ἕλε τιμάν· τάδ’ ἔμελψεμ·
μάκαρας δ’ αὐτίκα Μώση
φ]ερέμεν ψᾶφον ἔ[τ]αττον
κρ]ουφίαν κάλπιδας ἐν χρου-
()σοφαῖς· τὺ δ’ ἅμα πάντε[ς] ὦρθεν·
πλίονας δ’ εἷλε Κιθηρών·
τάχα δ’ ῾Ερμᾶς ἀνέφαν[έν
νι]ν ἀούσας ἐρατὰν ὡς
ἕ]λε νίκαν στεφ[ά]νυσιν
…].(.)ατώ.ανεκόσμιον
()μάκα]ρες· τῶ δὲ νόος γεγάθι·
ὁ δὲ λο]ύπησι κά[θ]εκτος
χαλεπ]ῆσιν vελι[κ]ὼν ἐ-
…..] λιττάδα [π]έτραν
…..]κ̣εν δ’ ὄ[ρο]ς· ὐκτρῶς
…..]ων οὑψ[ό]θεν εἴρι-
()σέ νιν ἐ]μ μου[ρι]άδεσσι λάυς·

It is a little known fact that this fragment was the inspiration for the following animated short [*this is speculation. Ok, this is pure fiction].

This song was also not inspired by Korinna’s fragment

Mountains can sing at a great distance. They sing lower and at a slower pace than Ents.

Image result for Mt. Cithaeron map

 

I like this article about the fragment: https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/664026?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

 

Vergados, A. (2012). Corinna’s Poetic Mountains: PMG 654 col. i 1–34 and Hesiodic Reception. Classical Philology, 107(2), 101-118

 

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