Herd Immunity

Erasmus, Adagia 43:

Ἔβα καὶ ταῦρος ἀν᾽ ὕλαν, that is, Even the bull has set off into the forest. This is a pastoral proverb, an ugly little allegory, signifying the separation and neglect of an old girlfriend. Even if it will be permitted to draw it in this way into a more modest use, if it is accommodated by a joke to those who seem to neglect their earliest friends and to have become unaccustomed to the flock of their familiars and peers. It may also be applied to those who separate themselves from their usual pursuits and follow a different course of life. Theocritus in his Idyll, entitled Theonychus, relates it in the form of a proverb:

Αἶνος θην λέγεταί τις ‘ἔβα καὶ ταῦρος ἀν᾽ ὕλαν’,

that is,

It was once said that ‘the bull is withdrawing into the forest.’

For the lover is complaining that he was long ago left behind by his girlfriend, and he shows that it was a lot of time that Cynisca, that is Catella (for that was the girl’s name) was entertaining herself with a certain Lycus, and showed no inclination to return to her former way of life, in much the same way that bulls, who themselves occasionally wander off from the crowd of cows and either hang out with other bulls or wander in solitude through the groves, touched by no desire for women.

Pastors refer to that withdrawal and that divorce-like neglect with the peculiar word ‘ἀτιμαγελεῖν’ (‘herd-forsaking’), with a sense clearly composed ἐκ τοῦ ἀτιμεῖν, τὸ ἀτιμάζειν καὶ καταφρονεῖν, which is to say from ‘to dishonor, to neglect, and to rate as worthless,’ and from τοῦ ἀγέλη, which means the herd. Bulls are said to ‘forsake the herd’ when, having been set apart from interaction with the cows, care for them so little that they not only don’t seek intercourse with them, but they don’t even wish to use the same pastures. In his sixth book of On the Nature of Animals, Aristotle demonstrates the custom of this animal and the nature of the word given to this phenomenon with these words:

Ὁ δὲ ταῦρος ὅταν ὥρα τῆς ὀχείας ᾖ, τότε γίνεται σύννομος καὶ μάχεται τοῖς ἄλλοις. Τὸν δὲ πρότερον χρόνον μετ᾽ ἀλλήλων εἰσίν, ὃ καλεῖται ἀτιμαγελεῖν. Πολλάκις γὰρ οἵ γε ἐν τῇ Ἠπείρῳ οὐ φαίνονται τριῶν μηνῶν ὅλως δὲ τὰ ἄγρια πάντα ἢ τὰ πλεῖστα οὐ συννέμονται ταῖς θηλείαις πρὸ τῆς ὥρας τοῦ ὀχεύειν.

We will consider rather than number these words in this way:

‘But the bull, when it is time for intercourse, will then share the same pastures with the cows, and will fight with the other bulls. For, before that time, they were out to pasture with each other, and they call this ἀτιμαγελεῖν. Indeed, the bulls in the province of Epirus often do not appear for a space of three months; further, all wild beasts (or at least, certainly, most of them) do not congregate at shared pastures with the females of their species before it is time to procreate.

It seems to me worth noting in the version of Theodore of Gaza, for the word ἀτιμαγελεῖν, which Latin is unable to express properly, we find the word ‘coarmentari’ or ‘to herd together.’ That little piece of a word has poured a bit of fog over even the most learned men, such that they think that the passage in Aristotle is corrupt, and they bring to bear an entirely different interpretation on it by changing the reading, and they think that Theodore has hallucinated not a little in translating it. But I have weighed this matter out more diligently, and I seem to see the sense of Aristotle’s words to square exactly on this side of the change of any word. Clearly, a bull may spend time in the same pastures with cows when the time for breeding approaches, and may not come together with the other herds of bulls (but rather, wage war with them), while at other times bulls may enjoy the same pastures with other bulls and not pursue a life shared with the cows, choosing instead to spend time with each other, which is the case for pretty much all other animals. Clearly, this society of bulls with bills while the herds of cows are neglected is called ἀτιμαγελεῖν or ‘herd neglect’.

Now I ask, what scruple is there, why should we think that the reading of Aristotle must be changed, unless we are offended by the changed number of the words ‘bull’ and ‘are’, which is a common enough occurrence in that word of Aristotle. It can’t be doubted that the word ‘coarmentari’ here is not appropriate, but spurious, and has entered the work either from the carelessness of booksellers or the temerity of some person who possessed too little education. I suspect that we should read ‘dearmentari’ or ‘abarmentari’ (‘to be away from the herd’). I cannot be led to believe that Theodore, a man so perfect in every mode of learning, could have slipped so, especially in a word which is neither that unnatural or unusual in Greek authors, and one whose force and meaning is clearly indicated by etymology, and which is further read in Theocritus, an ultra famous and common author in his Νομεῖ ἢ Βωκόλοις, that is in his ‘Pastor or the Flocks’:

Χοἲ μὲν ἁμᾷ βόσκοιντο καὶ ἐν φύλλοισι πλανῷντο Οὐδὲν ἀτιμαγελεῦντες

that is,

But these are in the pasture at the same time, and they wander in the tall grasses, and they seek no separation from the flock.

In reference to this, the Suda has ταῦρον ἀτιμάγελον signifying τὸν τῆς ἀγέλης καταφρονοῦντα, that is, ‘one who neglects the herd. It seems to me that Vergil alluded somewhat to this in his Silenus:

Ah, unfortunate maiden, you know wander in the mountains. He, reclining his snowy side on soft hyacinth grazes on the pale grasses below a dark rock, or follows another cow in a large herd. Close, nymphs, Dictaean nymphs, now close the woodlands, if by chance the wandering tracks of a cow bear themselves before our eyes. Perhaps some cows may lead him, captured in the green grass or following the herd, to the Gortynian stables.

For, when he says

He, reclining his snowy side on soft hyacinth grazes on the pale grasses below a dark rock

he intimates that the bull is ἀτιμάγελον (‘herd forsaking’). The same is true when he describes the ‘wandering tracks of a cow.’ The poet, however, is talking about the bull whom Pasiphae loved, is engaged in herd forsaking in such a way that he neglects his own herd and follows other cows.

Further, on the fighting of bulls at the very time of copulation itself, Vergil writes in the third book of Georgics:

Nor is it the custom for the fighters to dwell together, but one goes away vanquished to an exile far away on distant shores, groaning much of his ignominy and the blows of the arrogant victor, and then complains of the loves which he has lost unavenged, and looking at his abode, departs from his ancestral kingdom.

For my part, I think that this expression, if it is bent a little bit, is proverbial, like the words καπροῦν et ἱππομανεῖν (‘to be lewd’ and ‘to be horse-mad’), and Theocritus seems to have reflected on that the most when he notes that it is said proverbially, Ἔβα καὶ ταῦρος ἀν᾽ ὕλαν’,  ‘And the bull has gone among the woods.’ The scholia on Theocritus have in this expression ἔβα κεν ταῦρος, with the conjunction καὶ changed to the explanatory κεν. They add that this is proverbially said of those who are absent and not likely to return. For if a bull flees once to the forest, he cannot be caught. For this reason, someone once elegantly said that a husband who has long been away from his wife is ‘herd-forsaking’, just as is a person who has ceased to visit his friends, and one who has abstained for a long time from the company of the Muses and his books. Similarly, one who abhors interaction with others and lives with himself may be called ‘herd-forsaking.’ And one who has wandered off and withdrawn from legitimate companionship will not wrongly be said to ‘forsake the herd.’ The expression of Aristophanes in Lysistrata is not far from this:

Οἴκοι δὲ ἀταυρώτη διάξω τὸν βίον,

that is,

I will live the celibate life at home, away from the bull.

For he has thus signified the celibate life of the woman neglecting the bull, that is, the husband. Thus Horace writes:

May Lesbia meet a bad end for showing you this impotent bull when you asked.

Ἔβα καὶ ταῦρος ἀν᾽ ὕλαν, id est Abiit et taurus in syluam. Pastorale prouerbium, allegoria subturpicula, significans diuortium ac neglectum veteris amicae.Tametsi licebit in vsum verecundiorem trahere hoc modo, si per iocum accommodabitur ad eos, qui pristinos amicos negligere videntur et a familiarium congerronumque grege desuescere. Aut in illos etiam, qui a solitis desciscunt studiis diuersumque vitae sequuntur institutum. Theocritus in Idyllio, cui titulus est Theonycho, nominatim etiam prouerbii vice refert:

 Αἶνος θην λέγεταί τις ‘ἔβα καὶ ταῦρος ἀν᾽ ὕλαν’,  id est Fertur et hoc olim in syluam secedere taurum.

Queritur autem amans se iam pridem ab amica relictum plurimumque iam esse temporis ostendit, quod Cynisca, id est Catella, nam id erat nomen puellae, sese Lyco quodam oblectet neque omnino curet ad pristinam redire consuetudinem, non magis quam tauri, qui et ipsi nonnunquam a vaccarum armentis secedunt et aut reliquis aggregantur tauris aut solitarii per nemora vagantur nullo foeminarum desiderio tacti.

Eum secessum eumque vaccarum neglectum quasique diuortium, pastores peculiari verbo vocant ἀτιμαγελεῖν voce nimirum composita ἐκ τοῦ ἀτιμεῖν, τὸ ἀτιμάζειν καὶ καταφρονεῖν, quod est despicere negligereque ac pro nihilo ducere, et ἐκ τοῦ ἀγέλη, quod armentum sonat. Ac tum ἀτιμαγελεῖν dicuntur tauri, cum segregati a vaccarum commercio adeo non curant illas, vt non modo coitum non appetant, sed ne pascuis quidem iisdem vti velint. Hunc animantis morem simulque vocem ipsam ei tributam rei demonstrat Aristoteles libro De natura animalium sexto his verbis: Ὁ δὲ ταῦρος ὅταν ὥρα τῆς ὀχείας ᾖ, τότε γίνεται σύννομος καὶ μάχεται τοῖς ἄλλοις. Τὸν δὲ πρότερον χρόνον μετ᾽ ἀλλήλων εἰσίν, ὃ καλεῖται ἀτιμαγελεῖν. Πολλάκις γὰρ οἵ γε ἐν τῇ Ἠπείρῳ οὐ φαίνονται τριῶν μηνῶν ὅλως δὲ τὰ ἄγρια πάντα ἢ τὰ πλεῖστα οὐ συννέμονται ταῖς θηλείαις πρὸ τῆς ὥρας τοῦ ὀχεύειν. Ea verba nos appendemus magis quam annumerabimus hoc modo:

At taurus, cum tempus coitus adfuerit, tum demum incipit communibus cum vaccis pascuis vti cumque  reliquis tauris dimicat. Nam ante id temporis inter sese pascuntur, quod quidem appellant ἀτιμαγελεῖν. Sane qui sunt in Epiro prouincia tauri, saepenumero trium mensium spacio non apparent; porro fera animantia aut omnia aut certepleraque ante tempus coeundi non aggregantur ad communes cum foeminis pascuas.

Illud admonitu dignum mihi visum est in versione Theodori Gazae pro Graeca voce ἀτιμαγελεῖν, quam Romana lingua nullo pacto reddere potest, scriptum esse coarmentari. Idque verbi doctis etiam viris non parum caliginis offudit, ita vt deprauatum apud Aristotelem locum existiment commutataque lectione longe diuersum sensum inducant putentque Theodorum in transferendo non mediocriter hallucinatum. At ego tota re diligentius pensiculata videre videor Aristotelicorum verborum sententiam citra vllius vocis commutationem adamussim quadrare: videlicet taurum aggregari cum vaccis et in iisdem versari pascuis appetente coitus tempore eumque non conuenire cum reliquis taurorum armentis, sed bellum cum aliis gerere, reliquis autem temporibus tauros cum tauris socialiter iisdem vti pascuis neque foeminarum conuictum sequi, sed inter sese agere, quod idem accidat in feris ferme omnibus. Hanc autem taurorum cum tauris societatem neglectis vaccarum armentis vocari ἀτιμαγελεῖν.

Quaeso quid hic scrupuli, cur Aristotelicam lectionem mutandam existimemus, nisi si quid offendit mutatus numerus in ταῦρος et εἰσίν, id quod Aristoteli praesertim eo in opere pene familiare deprehenditur. Dictionem autem illam coarmentari non germanam, sed supposititiam esse dubium non est, et aut librariorum incuria aut alicuius parum eruditi temeritate inductam. Suspicor enim legendum vel dearmentari vel abarmentari. Neque enim adduci possum, vt credam Theodorum hominem tam in omni doctrinae genere absolutum fuisse lapsum praesertim in voce neque magnopere prodigiosa nec inusitata Graecis autoribus, vtpote cuius vim vel ipsa statim indicat etymologia, praeterea quae apud Theocritum autorem vsqueadeo notum vulgatumque legatur ἐν Νομεῖ ἢ Βωκόλοις,  id est in Pastore siue Bubulcis:

  Χοἲ μὲν ἁμᾷ βόσκοιντο καὶ ἐν φύλλοισι πλανῷντο

 Οὐδὲν ἀτιμαγελεῦντες,  id est

 Atque hi pascuntur simul inque comantibus herbis

 Errant et non vlla gregis diuortia quaerunt.

Ad haec Suidas ostendit ταῦρον ἀτιμάγελον appellatum τὸν τῆς ἀγέλης καταφρονοῦντα, id est qui negligeret armentum. Huc mihi videtur nonnihil allusisse Vergilius in Sileno:

Ah virgo infelix, tu nunc in montibus erras.

 Ille latus niueum molli fultus hyacintho

 Ilice sub nigra pallentes ruminat herbas

 Aut aliquam in magno sequitur grege. Claudite, nymphae,

 Dictaeae nymphae, nemorum iam claudite saltus,

 Si qua forte ferant oculis sese obuia nostris

 Errabunda bouis vestigia; forsitan illum

 Aut herba captum viridi aut armenta secutum

 Perducant aliquae stabula ad Gortynia vaccae.

Cum enim ait,

 Ille latus niueum molli fultus hyacintho

 Ilice sub nigra pallentes ruminat herbas,

taurum innuit ἀτιμάγελον. Item cum ait: Errabunda bouis vestigia. Significat autem poeta taurum, quem adamabat Pasiphae, aut prorsus ἀτιμαγελεῖν aut eatenus ἀτιμαγελεῖν, vt suo armento neglecto vaccas alias sequeretur. Porro de pugna taurorum inter ipsos coitus tempore meminit idem Maro libro Georgicôn tertio:

 Nec mos bellantes vna stabulare, sed alter

 Victus abit longeque ignotis exulat oris

 Multa gemens ignominiam plagasque superbi

 Victoris, tum quos amisit inultus amores,

 Et stabula aspectans regnis excessit auitis.

Equidem arbitror hanc ipsam vocem, si deflectatur alio, prouerbialem esse, quemadmodum sunt et illae καπροῦν et ἱππομανεῖν, ad eamque potissimum respexisse Theocritum, cum ait prouerbio dici: Ἔβα καὶ ταῦρος ἀν᾽ ὕλαν. Scholia quae feruntur in Theocritum, habent ἔβα κεν ταῦρος pro καὶ coniunctione copulatiua mutata κεν expletiua; addunt esse prouerbium de his dici solitum, qui abessent non reuersuri. Taurus enim si semel aufugerit in syluam, capi non potest. Vnde non inconcinne quis dixerit maritum diutius ab vxore secubantem ἀτιμαγελεῖν et eum, qui familiares desierit inuisere, ἀτιμαγελεῖν et qui diutius a Musis ac librorum abstinuerit contubernio, ἀτιμαγελεῖν. Item qui a conuictu hominum abhorreat secumque viuat, ἀτιμάγελον licebit appellare. Et qui a legitimo contubernio aberrarit secesseritque, non inepte dicetur ἀτιμαγελεῖν. Nec prorsus abhorret ab hac forma, quod est apud Aristophanem in Lysistrata:

 Οἴκοι δὲ ἀταυρώτη διάξω τὸν βίον,  id est

 Domi absque tauro coelibem vitam exigam.

Sic enim significauit vitam coelibem foeminae negligentis taurum, id est maritum. Sic et Horatius:

 Pereat male quae te

 Lesbia quaerenti taurum monstrauit inertem.

Maintain Your Health: Read Cicero!

John Adams, Diary December 21 1758:

Yesterday and to day I have read loud, Tullius 4 Orations against Cataline. The Sweetness and Grandeur of his sounds, and the Harmony of his Numbers give Pleasure enough to reward the Reading if one understood none of his meaning. Besides I find it, a noble Exercise. It exercises my Lungs, raises my Spirits, opens my Porr[s], quickens the Circulations, and so contributes much to Health.

Cicero - Wikipedia

I’m Pericles, Not Care-icles

Aelian, Varia Historia 9.6-7

Pericles, having lost his sons in the plague, bore their loss in the most manly way, and persuaded all the Athenians to bear the deaths of their friends with a happier spirit.

Xanthippe said that while a thousand disasters had taken hold of the city and themselves, in the midst of all of them Socrates could be seen with the same face both when leaving and when coming back to the house. He was agreeably equipped for everything, and he was always gracious in mind, above all pain, and stronger than every fear.

Pericles - Wikipedia

     ῞Οτι Περικλῆς ἐν τῷ λοιμῷ τοὺς παῖδας ἀποβαλὼν ἀνδρειότατα τὸν θάνατον αὐτῶν ἤνεγκε, καὶ πάντας ᾿Αθηναίους εὐθυμότερον ἔπεισε τοὺς τῶν φιλτάτων θανάτους φέρειν.

     ῾Η Ξανθίππη ἔφη μυρίων μεταβολῶν τὴν πόλιν καὶ αὐτοὺς κατασχουσῶν ἐν πάσαις ὅμοιον τὸ Σωκράτους πρόσωπον καὶ προϊόντος ἐκ τῆς οἰκίας καὶ ἐπανιόντος θεάσασθαι· ἥρμοστο γὰρ πρὸς πάντα ἐπιεικῶς, καὶ ἦν ἵλεως ἀεὶ τὴν διάνοιαν καὶ λύπης ὑπεράνω πάσης καὶ φόβου κρείττων παντός.

Anti-Caesarianism with Breakfast

John Quincy Adams, Letter to Charles Francis Adams (February 21, 1830):

“Every one of the letters of Cicero is a picture of the state of the writer’s mind when it was written. It is like an invocation of shades to read them. I see him approach me like the image of a phantasmagoria. He seems opening his lips to speak to me and passes off, but his words as if they had fallen upon my ears are left deeply stamped upon the memory. I watch with his sleepless nights. I share his solitary sighs. I feel the agitation of his pulse, not for himself but for his son…for his country. There is sometimes so much in it of painful reality that I close the book. No tragedy was ever half so pathetic. My morning always ends with a hearty execration of Caesar, and with what is perhaps not so right, a sensation of relief at the 23 stabs of the Ides of March… Everything else in the story is afflicting and gloomy.” [Quoted in Fred Kaplan’s John Quincy Adams: American Visionary.]

John Quincy Adams - Wikipedia

Greeks Don’t Ride Together

Peter Harvey, Reminiscences and Anecdotes of Daniel Webster (pp.47-48)

An able and forcible writer, N. P. Rogers, of Plymouth, N. H., who often assumed a rough, quaint style, was well acquainted with the Websters, and was in early life their warm and devoted friend. The following letter, which he contributed to the ” New York Tribune,” relates to Daniel Webster’s early appearance at the bar; and is worth inserting, both as giving a vivid picture of that period of the great statesman’s life, and as an amusing literary curiosity.

“There ‘s a town a little south of me, about thirty-five miles off, in plain sight, where they’ve held courts for the county. It’s the county of Grafton. They’ve held courts there these seventy years. Webster used to come to court there when he was a young lawyer. They say he went to his first court there. I don’t know how that is, but he went there when he was almost a boy. I could see him plainly from here. He was singular in his look. Him and his brother ‘Zeke’ used to come to court together after a year or two. Daniel came first, though ‘Zeke’ was the eldest. I can see them now, driving into that little village in their bellows-top chaise, — top thrown back, — driving like Jehu, the chaise bending under them like a close-top in a high wind. I had heard tell of Diomede and Ulysses, — a couple of old Greeks that used to ride in some such looking cars as they did, though I believe the Greeks don’t ride together. But Daniel and ‘Zekiel Webster made me think of them two Greeks. Daniel used to drive very fast. They ‘d come in as if they had started long before day; and it was a sight, in a small place, to see them two ride in together. I could have told either of them thirty miles among a thousand men.

Webster Says: “F**k All Your Proconsuls!”

Peter Harvey, Reminiscences and Anecdotes of Daniel Webster (pp.160-163)

Mr. Webster became Secretary of State under General Harrison, in 1841. They had no interview before he was appointed. It was done by correspondence; by an offer of the place on the part of General Harrison by letter, and acceptance by letter on that of Mr. Webster. They did not meet until eight or ten days previous to the inauguration. General Harrison arrived at Washington, from Cincinnati, about the time Mr. Webster arrived from Massachusetts. Mr. Webster was invited by Mr. Seaton, one of the editors of the “National Intelligencer,” and a very warm personal friend of his, to come to his house, as he would be more quiet there, and less exposed to intrusion than at a hotel; and to stay until he should get a house and move his family into it. He was constantly occupied with General Harrison on matters connected with the formation of the Cabinet, from early morning until the dinner hour, which was six o’clock. It seems that he had prepared an inaugural message for General Harrison. One day, among other arrangements, he suggested to the new President, in as delicate a way as he could, the fact that he had sketched an inaugural, knowing that General Harrison would be overwhelmed with calls and business after his election, and he himself having leisure to write. The General at once replied that it was not necessary; that he had prepared his own inaugural.

“Oh yes,” said he, ” I have got that all ready.”

“Will you allow me to take it home and read it to-night? ” asked Mr. Webster.

“Certainly,” the President replied;” and please to let me take yours.”

So they exchanged the documents; and the next morning, when they met, General Harrison said to Mr. Webster : —

“If I should read your inaugural instead of mine, everybody would know that you wrote it, and that I did not. Now, this is the only official paper which I propose to write, for I do not intend to interfere with my secretaries; but this is a sort of acknowledgment on my part to the American people of the great honor they have conferred upon me in elevating me to this high office; and although, of course, it is not so suitable as yours, still it is mine, and I propose to let the people have it just as I have written it. I must deliver my own instead of yours.”

Mr. Webster told me that he was a good deal annoyed; because the message was, according to his judgment and taste, so inappropriate. It entered largely into Roman history, and had a great deal to say about the States of antiquity and the Roman proconsuls, and various matters of that kind. Indeed, the word “proconsul” was repeated in it a great many times.

When he found that the President was bent upon using his own inaugural, Mr. Webster said that his desire was to modify it, and to get in some things that were not there, and get out some things that were there; for, as it then stood, he said, it had no more to do with the affairs of the American government and people than a chapter in the Koran. Mr. Webster suggested to General Harrison that he should like to put in some things, and General Harrison rather reluctantly consented to let him take it. Mr. Webster spent a portion of the next day in modifying the message. Mrs. Seaton remarked to him, when he came home rather late that day, that he looked fatigued and worried; but he replied that he was sorry that she had waited dinner for him.

“That is of no consequence at all, Mr. Webster,” said she; “but I am sorry to see you looking so worried and tired. I hope nothing has gone wrong. I really hope nothing has happened.”

“You would think that something had happened,” he replied, “if you knew what I have done. I have killed seventeen Roman proconsuls as dead as smelts, every one of them!”

Daniel Webster - Wikipedia
Daniel Webster wants you to take proconsuls down to noconsuls.

Cicero’s Height and Demosthenes’ Lamp

John Adams, Draft of a Letter to Richard Cranch (October – December 1758):

Should a Student in History inquire chiefly of the Dress, Entertainments and Diversions, instead of the Arts, Characters, Virtues and Opinions of ancient Nations, and the Effects of these on their public and private Happiness would not you laugh? There was nothing in the Lamp, by which Demosthenes wrote his orations, that deserved the Attention of the present Race of men, more than there is in the Candle by which I write this Letter. And I would pay no more Admiration to a man who could tell me the exact Highth of Cicero, or the Number of Hairs that grew upon his Head, a Pi[e]ce of Knowledge that I cannot now attain, than I would to one who could tell me the exact Number of Letters, Comma’s and semicolons that are in all his Works, which have the means of knowing.

File:Comic History of Rome Table 10 Cicero denouncing Catiline.jpg -  Wikimedia Commons

Giovanni Judges Jokes

Giovanni Pontano, de Sermone 3.18:

Martial’s sayings are such that most of them have a lot of wit and no less of bile and bombast, and in their place they joke and delight, while now and then inciting a blush rather than a laugh. But there are others which aren’t just prurient or titillating, but even offer up petulance and jokes which are on the whole lacking in modesty. On so many occasions, he is so unacquainted with shame that he openly plays the clown, and seems not just to envy the sycophants, but even the parasites and the mimes.

Yet, he has embraced all these types so completely and is so much and so often among them that he wishes to seem to have taken the material for his play from other jokes of this sort. But since we seek a middle road in this matter and since extremity is to be avoided, we should look for other types of sayings and types of jokes which are entirely appropriate. And as in no small part the sayings of this Valerius are so little in keeping with our program, so too are many of Cicero’s to be rejected, especially since they are more appropriate to an orator trying to gain victory in a case than they are to that relaxation of the mind which we seek with honesty and dignity, and for which there is an innate appetite in all humans. And so, we ought not to skip over what and how Cicero thinks about these things.

Giovanni Pontano - Wikipedia

Eiusmodi sunt igitur Martialis dicta, ut pleraque multum habeant salis nec minus fellis atque ampullosi proque loco et iocentur et delectent, interdum ruborem inducant magis quam risum; alia vero quae non pruritum tantum exciant aut titillatum verum etiam petulantiam prae se ferant lususque parum omnino modestos. Persaepe autem verecundari ita nescit ut vel aperte scurretur, nec solum invidere sicophantis videatur ac parasitis verum etiam mimis. Adeo autem cuncta haec complexus est genera estque in iis ita frequens et multus ut aliis in eiusmodi iocis ludendi praeripuisse videri velit materiam. A nobis autem cum mediocritas parte in hac quaeratur defugianturque extrema, alia dictorum tum genera quaerenda sunt tum species quae facetorum sint omnino propria. Utque Valeri huius dicta, parte quidem non exigua, institutioni huic nostrae parum consentiunt, sic et Marci Ciceronis quaedem etiam explodenda, quippe quae oratori magis conveniant, ad victoriam causae comparandam, quam ad eam animorum relaxationem, quae a nobis cum honestate ac dignitate quaeritur, cuiusque insita est hominibus a natura appetitio. Itaque quid et quomodo Cicero de iis sentiat, a nobis praetereundum non est.

Tacitus for Tykes

Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Mathew Carey (January 12, 1801)


I recieved some time ago your favor by Doctr. Carey together with the American Monitor, for which be pleased to accept my thanks. I have no doubt of it’s utility as a school-book as soon as the pupil is so far advanced as to reflect on what he reads, and that I believe is in an earlier stage than is generally imagined. I concur with you in the importance of inculcating into the minds of young people the great moral & political truths, and that it is better to put into their hands books which while they teach them to read, teach them to think also, and to think soundly. I have always believed that Tacitus would be one of the best school books, even while children are learning to read. they could never forget the hatred of vice and tyranny which that author inspires. you often quote a book under the title of the Spirit of despotism. I never before heard of it: but it is written with great strength of feeling & conception. I am with great esteem Sir

Your most obedt. servt

Th: Jefferson

The Calendon’ts of Calendars

Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard Improved:

It was the Egyptians, if we may credit Herodotus, that first formed the Year, making it to contain 360 Days, which they subdivided into twelve Months, of thirty Days each.

Mercury Trismegistus added five Days more to the Account. And on this Footing Thales is said to have instituted the Year among the Greeks. Tho’ that Form of the Year did not hold throughout all Greece. Add that the Jewish, Syrian, Roman, Persian, Ethiopic, Arabic, &c. Years, are all different.

In effect, considering the poor State of Astronomy in those Ages, it is no Wonder different People should disagree in the Calculus of the Sun’s Course. We are even assured by Diodorus Siculus, Plutarch, and Pliny, that the Egyptian Year itself was at first very different from what it became afterwards.

According to our Account, the Solar Year, or the Interval of Time in which the Sun finishes his Course thro’ the Zodiac, and returns to the same Point thereof from which he had departed, is 365 Days, 5 Hours, 49 Minutes; tho’ some Astronomers make it a few Seconds, and some a whole Minute less; as Kepler, for Instance, who makes it 365 Days, 5 Hours, 48 Minutes, 57 Seconds, 39 Thirds. Ricciolus, 365 Days, 5 Hours, 48 Minutes. Tycho Brahe, 365 Days, 5 Hours, 48 Minutes.

The Civil Year is that Form of the Year which each Nation has contrived to compute Time by; or the Civil is the Tropical Year, considered as only consisting of a certain Number of whole Days; the odd Hours and Minutes being set aside, to render the Computation of Time in the common Occasions of Life more easy.

Hence as the Tropical Year is 365 Days, 5 Hours, 49 Minutes; the Civil Year is 365 Days. And hence also, as it is necessary to keep Pace with the Heavens, it is required that every fourth Year consist of 366 Days, which would for ever keep the Year exactly right, if the odd Hours of each Year were precisely 6.

The ancient Roman Year, as first settled by Romulus, consisted of ten Months only; viz. I. March, containing 31 Days. II. April, 30. III. May, 31. IV. June 30. V. Quintilis, 31. VI. Sextilis, 30. VII. September, 30. VIII. October, 31. IX. November, 30. X. December, 30; in all 304 Days; which came short of the Solar Year, by 61 Days.

Hence the Beginning of Romulus’s Year was vague, and unfixed to any precise Season; which Inconvenience to remove, that Prince ordered so many Days to be added yearly, as would make the State of the Heavens correspond to the first Month, without incorporating these additional Days, or calling them by the Name of any Month.

Numa Pompilius corrected this irregular Constitution of the Year, and composed two new Months, January and February, of the Days that were used to be added to the former Year. Thus, Numa’s Year consisted of twelve Months; viz. I. January, containing 29 Days. II. February, 28. III. March, 31. IV. April, 29. V. May, 31. VI. June, 29. VII. Quintilis, 31. VIII. Sextilis, 29. IX. September, 29. X. October, 31. XI. November, 29. XII. December, 29; in all 355 Days, which came short of the common Solar Year by ten Days; so that its Beginning was vague and unfixed.

Numa, however, desiring to have it fixed to the Winter Solstice, ordered 22 Days to be intercalated in February every second Year, 23 every fourth, 22 every sixth, and 23 every eighth Year.

But this Rule failing to keep Matters even, Recourse was had to a new Way of Intercalating; and instead of 23 Days every eighth Year, only 15 were added; and the Care of the whole committed to the Pontifex Maximus, or High Priest; who, neglecting the Trust, let Things run to the utmost Confusion. And thus the Roman Year stood till Julius Caesar made a Reformation.

The Julian Year is a Solar Year, containing commonly 365 Days; tho’ every fourth Year, called Bissextile, contains 366. The Names and Order of the Months of the Julian Year, and the Number of Days in each, are well known to us, having been long in Use.

The astronomical Quantity, therefore, of the Julian Year, is 365 Days, 6 Hours, which exceeds the true Solar Year by 11 Minutes; which Excess in 131 Years amounts to a whole Day. And thus the Roman Year stood, till the Reformation made therein by Pope Gregory.

Julius Caesar, in the Contrivance of his Form of the Year, was assisted by Sosigenes, a famous Mathematician, called over from Egypt for this very Purpose; who, to supply the Defect of 67 Days which had been lost thro’ the Fault of the High Priests, and to fix the Beginning of the Year to the Winter Solstice, made that Year to consist of 15 Months, or 445 Days; which for that Reason is used to be called Annus Confusionis, the Year of Confusion.

This Form of the Year was used by all Christian Nations, till the Middle of the 16th Century; and still continues to be so by several Nations; among the Rest, by the Swedes, Danes, &c. and by the English till the second of September next, when they are to assume the Use of the Gregorian Year.