Warm Bed, Warm Bath and A Massage: A Hangover Prescription

Hippocrates of Cos, Epidemics 2.30

“If someone has head pain from a hangover, have him drink a cup of unmixed wine. For different head pains, have the patient eat bread warm from unmixed wine.”

Ἢν ἐκ κραιπάλης κεφαλὴν ἀλγέῃ, οἴνου ἀκρήτου κοτύλην πιεῖν· ἢν δὲ ἄλλως κεφαλὴν ἀλγέῃ, ἄρτον ὡς θερμότατον ἐξ οἴνου ἀκρήτου ἐσθίειν.

Plutarch, Table-Talk 3 (652F)

“Those who are suffering bodily from drinking and being hungover can find relief from sleeping immediately, warmed with a cover. On the next day, they can be restored with a bath, a massage, and whatever food does not cause agitation but restores the warmth dispelled and lost from the body by wine.”

 ἰῶνταί γε μὴν τὰς περὶ τὸ σῶμα τῶν μεθυσκομένων καὶ κραιπαλώντων κακώσεις εὐθὺς μὲν ὡς ἔοικε περιστολῇ καὶ κατακλίσει συνθάλποντες, μεθ᾿ ἡμέραν δὲ λουτρῷ καὶ ἀλείμματι καὶ σιτίοις, ὅσα μὴ ταράττοντα τὸν ὄγχον ἅμα πράως ἀνακαλεῖται τὸ θερμὸν ὑπὸ τοῦ οἴνου διεσπασμένον καὶ πεφυγαδευμένον ἐκ τοῦ σώματος.


This is a topic we have covered at great length before

Alexis, fr. 287

“Yesterday you drank too much and now you’re hungover.
Take a nap—this will help it. Then let someone give you
Cabbage, boiled.”

ἐχθὲς ὑπέπινες, εἶτα νυνὶ κραιπαλᾷς.
κατανύστασον· παύσῃ γάρ. εἶτά σοι δότω
ῥάφανόν τις ἑφθήν.

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Illumination from a copy of Li livres dou santé by Aldobrandino of Siena. British Library manuscript Sloane 2435, f. 44v.

St. Patrick Says: Pray Pray Pray, Food’s on the Way!

St. Patrick, Confession 19:

“After three days we reached land and made a journey through a desert; food was lacking, and famine prevailed over them, and one day the captain began to speak to me,

‘What’s all this, Christian? You say that your God is great and all powerful; why can you not say a prayer for us? We’re being sorely tried by famine. It’s hardly likely that we will see any other person out here.’

I then confidently replied to them,

‘Turn yourselves, in your faith and from all your heart to the Lord my God, because nothing is impossible for him, so that he send food to you today, enough for your journey, because he has an abundance everywhere.’

And, with the help of God, so it happened. There, a flock of pigs appeared in the road before our eyes, and the men killed many of them, and remained there for two nights. They were much revived, and their dogs too were restored, because many of them had fallen off and been left half-dead on the road. After this, they gave the greatest thanks to God, and I was honored in their eyes, and from this day they possessed food abundantly. They even found honey of the forest and offered part to me, and one of them said, ‘It is a little offering.’ Thanks to God, I ate none of it.”

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et post triduum terram cepimus et uiginti octo dies per desertum iter fecimus et cibus defuit illis et fames inualuit super eos, et alio die coepit gubernator mihi dicere: ‘Quid est, Christiane? tu dicis deus tuus magnus et omnipotens est; quare ergo non potes pro nobis orare? quia nos a fame periclitamur; difficile est enim ut aliquem hominem umquam uideamus’. Ego enim confidenter dixi illis: ‘Conuertimini ex fide ex toto corde ad Dominum Deum meum, quia nihil est impossibile illi, ut hodie cibum mittat uobis in uiam uestram usque dum satiamini, quia ubique habundat illi’, et adiuuante Deo ita factum est: ecce grex porcorum in uia ante oculos nostros apparuit, et multos ex illis interfecerunt et ibi duas noctes manserunt et bene refecti et canes eorum repleti sunt, quia multi ex illis defecerunt et secus uiam semiuiui relicti sunt, et post hoc summas gratias egerunt Deo et ego honorificatus sum sub oculis eorum, et ex hac die cibum habundanter habuerunt; etiam mel siluestre inuenerunt et mihi partem obtulerunt et unus ex illis dixit: ‘Immolaticium est’; Deo gratias, exinde nihil gustaui.

Tessered Latin and Greek: A Lexical “Wrinkle in Time”

There is a great story in the Daily Beast about Greek (and a little Latin) in Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. This blog has a little cameo…

Sometimes when I talk to students about my childhood I get the sense that it seems almost as distant and different from theirs as some of the texts from Ancient Greece I encourage them to read. I listened to the radio play of Empire Strikes Back on the radio. I remember getting cable installed. I never sent an email until I went to college. I used to check out vinyl records from the library to listen to Cinderella and the JungleBook!

Ah, the library. I grew up in rural Maine and the local free libraries were, in a way, the center of my childhood. My father was deaf from birth; reading was what we all did as a family. And it was the one realm in which I never felt limited. My parents never told me what to read, when to read or, more importantly, what not to read. We just went to the library every week and they set me free.

At some point in elementary school, I took it upon myself to read the entire collection of Newbery award books. There was a list prominently displayed in the kids’ room at a few different libraries we frequented. I am pretty sure I read Lloyd Alexander’s The High King first and soon after Robert Obrien’s Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh. I love both books and when I noticed the medal on the cover, connected it to the list and just started in on it.

I connected with Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time almost immediately. That famous start: “IT was a dark and stormy night.” My father used these very words all the time before he would start telling us some ridiculous tale. The world in this book was also one like mine: it was dark (as often the case in rural Maine) and, with our long winters, it was also stormy.

It also deploys that initial scale that works so well–it starts small and simple: Margaret in her room or at the kitchen table, complaining of school, lovingly tolerating her precocious brother. But it was also a world that promised that the stark simplicity it presented was a mere facade over something much more complex–that behind the austere and disappointing world, there were other worlds. In short, the promise of a tale like L’Engle’s was the very promise of the libraries I so loved–that there are ways out of this world into countless others.

I have never reread this book as an adult, but every time I think of it: it is dark, I am in third grade, but there is a light dawning on the horizon. So, when the journalist Mimi Kramer (@nhmeems) contacted me over twitter to ask about the Greek and Latin in A Wrinkle in Time, my first reaction was shock. There is Greek and Latin in L’Engle’s novel? There is, and, as she tells in her fine story on it, it is messed up. And how it has stayed messed up itself is a story worth reading and telling. It is, a bit depressingly, a very adult and mundane mystery, but, for me at least, it provides a passage through time.

The author J.S. Bangs–to my knowledge–was the first to post online about the problems with the Greek. As you can read there or in Kramer’s article, whoever transcribed the quotation from Euripides (most likely from a quotation book cribbed poorly from Stobaeus) confused lamdas for etas and nus for upsilons, giving us the aesthetically displeasing fairly impossible: “Αεηπου οὐδὲν, πὰντα δ’ εηπἰζειυ χρωετ for the text printed as Euripides fr. 761 in Stobaeus: ἄελπτον οὐδέν, πάντα δ’ ἐλπίζειν χρεών. The book’s translation, moreover, “Nothing is hopeless; we must hope for everything” obscures what I see in the Greek which is a near koan, “nothing is unexpected, and one must expect everything.”

The story of trying to fix this has its own story. The Greek is off in the blog post (to be pedantic): the initial breathing and the vowel in the final participle need adjustment: ἄελπτον οὐδέν, πάντα δ’ ἐλπίζειν χρεών, (not the displayed Ἅελπτον οὐδέν, πάντα δ’ ἐλπίζειν χρηῶν). And even in a recent edition where the Greek has been mostly fixed, the rough breathing on that initial Alpha remains.

But that is a quibble. I am surprised (but not overly so) that I remember nothing of this; but a little shock that this bad Greek has lasted over 60 years! (And that is the story Mimi Kramer tells, much better than I could do so. And she keys us into another mystery. In the same scene, but a little earlier, the mysterious Mrs. Who speaks Latin!

“Finxerunt animi, raro et perpauca loquentis,” Mrs. Who
intoned. “Horace. To action little, less to words inclined.”

The translation she quotes, however, does not match up well with the Latin provided. To be fair, Horace is a bit of a punk: I think he is virtually untranslatable–but, for those readers who know Latin well, can we bring any light to this dark night?

Here are the full lines from Loeb’s translation by Rushton Fairclough

Horace Sermones 1.4

“The gods be praised for fashioning me of meagre wit and lowly spirit, of rare and scanty speech.”

di bene fecerunt, inopis me quodque pusilli
finxerunt animi, raro et perpauca loquentis.

More literally (but with a much inferior rhythm, I would suggest “The gods have done well: they made me of a small and minor spirit, one who speaks rarely and little”. The proffered translation in A Wrinkle In Time is “To action little, less to words inclined”, which seems to be a combination of only the second halves of the couplet (…inopis me quodque pusilli…raro et perpauca loquentis).

So, a working theory Kramer and I discussed for this is simply that someone who didn’t know Latin picked this Horace out of a quote book where there were two lines each of Latin and English and, because only the second line of English was selected, selected only the second line of Latin too. The translation first appears in a 19th century anthology of Richard Steele’s essays for The Spectator and The Tattler, as a reprint of Spectator No. 19 (March 22, 1711). In the typical fashion of 18th-century literary essayists, Steele and Addison prefixed a Latin epigraph to each of their essays without translation. The English version, then, was provided by the compiler of the anthology as a service to those readers without Latin. The English rendering must have made an impression on someone, because it reappears at the beginning of the 20th century in a dictionary of phrases and classical quotations. The full English translation is;

Thank Heaven that made me of a humble mind;
to action little, less to words inclined.

Guess what else is in that very dictionary? You guessed it, the Euripides fragment on page 129 with the correct Greek with the very translation offered in A Wrinkle in Time.

So, we have a half couplet plucked from Horace and a line poorly transcribed from Euripides. Can any lovers of language (and L’Engle) propose something more generous? Is she reading the Latin differently? Am I reading it wrongly?

As someone who loves literature, I take perverse pleasure in not allowing there to be mistakes. So, for instance, where our Horace above has famously declares that even Homer nods (that is, loses track of stuff), many interpreters instead have declared, no, impossible! And we engage in mental acrobatics to show how even mistakes are actually signs of hidden deeper meaning.

So, maybe the ‘wrong’ Greek is not wrong at all. Perhaps it is really an invitation to contemplation of absurd erudition. Or, even more importantly, perhaps it is a secret message–an anagram or something, which, if decoded, will open up for us passages to universes unknown.

(Ok. I was a kid again there, still hoping to skip dimensions….)

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This is the over of the book I read.

Diagnose Thyself: Why Be a Doctor?

Galen, On the Opinions of Hippocrates and Plato 9.5.5-7

“For some men practice the art of medicine for the money, and some do it because of the exemption from taxes. But some pursue medicine because of their love for humanity [philanthrôpia] just as there are those who do it for the fame or honor medicine attracts. Therefore doctors are named by the fact that they are all craftsmen of health in common, inasmanuch as they perform their craft for different reasons—one will be called a lover of humanity [philanthrôpos], another titled a lover of honor [philotimos], while another is considered a lover of reputation [philodoxos] and another is a money maker.

The aim of a doctor for doctors, then, is not fame or wealth, as Mênodotos the Empiricist wrote. This is a goal for Mênodotus but not for Diocles or Hippocrates or Empedocles nor even a few others of those ancient doctors—however so many ministered to people because of their love of humanity [philanthrôpia]. Left bare among these kind of examples—and they are abundant in Hippocrates and Plato—the particular features and the common traits of each craft may be examined.”

τινὲς μὲν γὰρ ἕνεκα χρηματισμοῦ τὴν ἰατρικὴν τέχνην ἐργάζονται, τινὲς δὲ διὰ τὴν ἐκ τῶν νόμων αὐτοῖς διδομένην ἀλειτουργησίαν, ἔνιοι δὲ διὰ φιλανθρωπίαν, ὥσπερ ἄλλοι διὰ τὴν ἐπὶ ταύτῃ δόξαν ἢ τιμήν.  ὀνομασθήσονται τοιγαροῦν ᾗ μὲν ὑγιείας εἰσὶ δημιουργοὶ κοινῇ πάντες ἰατροί, καθόσον δὲ τὰς πράξεις ἐπὶ διαφόροις ποιοῦνται σκοποῖς, ὁ μέν τις φιλάνθρωπος, ὁ δὲ φιλότιμος, ὁ δὲ φιλόδοξος, ὁ δὲ χρηματιστής.

οὔκουν τοῖς ἰατροῖς τὸ τέλος ἐστὶν ὡς ἰατροῖς ἔνδοξον ἢ πόριμον, ὡς Μηνόδοτος <ὁ> ἐμπειρικὸς ἔγραψεν, ἀλλὰ Μηνοδότῳ μὲν τοῦτο, Διοκλεῖ δ’ οὐ τοῦτο, καθάπερ οὐδὲ ῾Ιπποκράτει καὶ ᾿Εμπεδοκλεῖ οὐδ’ ἄλλοις τῶν παλαιῶν οὐκ ὀλίγοις ὅσοι διὰ φιλανθρωπίαν ἐθεράπευον τοὺς ἀνθρώπους. γυμνασάμενος οὖν ἐν τοῖς τοιούτοις τις παραδείγμασι, πάμπολλα δ’ ἐστὶ παρ’ ῾Ιπποκράτει καὶ Πλάτωνι, ῥᾳδίως κατόψεται τά τε ἴδια τέχνης ἑκάστης καὶ τὰ κοινά.


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From medievalists.net

Filthy Friday: The Scepter of Priapus

Priapea, XXV:

“This scepter, which was cut from a tree

will never again be green with leaves.

This scepter which lusty ladies look for

and even kings desire to hold,

which our noble sodomites shower with kisses

will wend its way through the thief’s guts

all the way to his rod, his testicular hilt.”

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Hoc sceptrum, quod ab arbore est recisum
nulla et iam poterit virere fronde,
sceptrum, quod pathicae petunt puellae,
quod quidam cupiunt tenere reges,
quoi dant oscula nobiles cinaedi,
intra viscera furis ibit usque
ad pubem capulumque coleorum.

The Problem with the Ides of March: Not Enough Cicero, Not Enough MURDER

Cicero, Epistulae Familiares 10.28.1 (To Trebonius)

“How I wish that you had invited me to that most sumptuous feast on the Ides of March! We would now have no little scraps if you had. But now you have with them such difficulty in preventing that divine benefit which you bestowed upon the Republic from exciting some complaint. But, though it is hardly right, I am on occasion angry with you, because it was by you – a noble man indeed – it was by you and by your good service that this pest [Marc Antony] was led away and still lives. Now you have left behind more trouble for me alone than for everyone else.”

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Quam vellem ad illas pulcherrimas epulas me Idibus Martiis invitasses! reliquiarum nihil haberemus. at nunc cum iis tantum negoti est ut vestrum illud divinum <in> rem publicam beneficium non nullam habeat querelam. quod vero a te, viro optimo, seductus est tuoque beneficio adhuc vivit haec pestis, interdum, quod mihi vix fas est, tibi subirascor; mihi enim negoti plus reliquisti uni quam praeter me omnibus.

To Have Thoughts and Write Them Down

Thoreau, Letter to Sophia Thoreau Jan. 23, 1840

“If you like history, and the exploits of the brave, don’t give up Rollin, I beg; thus would you displease Clio, who might not forgive you hereafter. What Latin are you reading? I mean reading, not studying. Blessed is the man who can have his library at hand, and oft peruse the books, without the fear of a taskmaster! he is far enough from harmful idleness, who can call in and dismiss these friends when he pleases. An honest book’s the noblest work of man. There’s a reason, now, not only for your reading, but for writing something, too. You will not lack readers,—here am I, for one. If you cannot compose a volume, then try a tract. It will do the world no good, hereafter, if you merely exist, and pass life smoothly or roughly; but to have thoughts, and write them down, that helps greatly.”

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