Bellum Incivile: Manicula’s Speech to the Nation

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 from the lost Bellum Incivile.

14.3 When Manicula communicated to the people, he usually read from a script because he was so unrefined and boorish in his manner of speaking. He failed to follow the rules of the language on account of his restricted vocabulary and unusual sentence structure to such a degree that his thoughts were often not intelligible and it was not possible to follow him. He would repeat all of the insults he received in all occasions from his enemies with the same exact words and he would brag about himself excessively and express contempt for others with the outcome that he made himself out to be smaller instead of greater.

He proclaimed that he was the only source of knowledge, but no stone was more stupid. Through his false words, he led the citizens to believe that an enemy was invading our territory and openly attacking the whole republic; and that he alone was able to keep the republic safe by building a wall and to liberate it from this scourge. Most people did not believe him, but when they said what they were thinking, the Republicans refused to diminish the power of Manicula, acting as if he were a normal leader.

14.3  Cum Manicula ad cives contionem haberet, scripta verba legere solebat propterea quod in dicendo tam illepidus et infacetus erat. Ob magnam verborum inopiam contextumque sermonis inusitatum dicendi regula ita non custodiebat ut sententiae saepe non intellegeruntur intentionemque prosequi non posset. Omnium temporum iniurias inimicorum eisdem verbis in se iterabat; se supra modum iactabat certerosque dispiciebat ut se minorem quam maiorem faceret.

Se solam scientiae fontem praedicebat, sed vero nullum hoc stolidius erat saxum. Cuius verbis falsis cives ad credendum duxit hostes in fines nostros incursionem facere aperteque rem publicam universam petere; se solum salutem rei publicae muro conficiendo adferre atque rem publicam peste liberare posse. Plerique ei non crediderunt, sed cum quae senserunt dicerunt, Republicani potestatem Maniculae, velut si sanus consul esset, reprimere recusaverunt.


Tawdry Tuesday, Imperial Edition: Fun with Domitian

Suetonius, Life of Domitian 22

He was a man of extreme lust: he used to refer to his endless intercourse as “bed-wrestling”, as if it were a type of exercise. There was a rumor that he used to depilate his concubines himself and that he used to go swimming with street prostitutes. Even though he repeatedly refused a wedding to his brother’s daughter who was offered to him for marriage when she was still a virgin because he was overcome with the Domitia affair, he seduced her not long after she was married to someone else and while Titus was still alive. But, soon, he loved her openly and with the utmost passion once she was deprived of father and husband, to the point that he was the reason for her death when she was forced to abort a child conceived with him.”

XXII. Libidinis nimiae, assiduitatem concubitus velut exercitationis genus clinopalen vocabat; eratque fama, quasi concubinas ipse develleret nataretque inter vulgatissimas meretrices. Fratris filiam adhuc virginem oblatam in matrimonium sibi cum devinctus Domitiae nuptiis pertinacissime recusasset, non multo post alii conlocatam corrupit ultro et quidem vivo etiam tum Tito; mox patre ac viro orbatam ardentissime palamque dilexit, ut etiam causa mortis exstiterit coactae conceptum a se abigere.

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Bellum Incivile: Manicula’s Obsession with the Wall

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 from the lost Bellum Incivile.

13.7 While he was not paying citizens their salaries, Manicula began to demand a wall with loud lamentation: That a great multitude of barbarians, a danger to the country, were crossing over into the territory, as they had before, and that he must do something as quickly as possible to prevent it. Since the Republicans never disapproved of him and always enthusiastically approved of his plans, which were inane and ridiculous, Manicula continued to behave like a tyrant instead of a president. On account of this, Manicula said that previous presidents had wanted to build this wall and that he, the best president of all, would unilaterally order the army to build it. Many people from everywhere declared that Manicula was a reprobate, irrational, and brazen man and that they could not endure his rule much longer.

Meanwhile the Democrats hastened with the greatest possible marches and at last arrived at the Capitol in order to protect the entire country from the outrages of Manicula.

13.7 Dum civibus nullum stipendium numerabat, Manicula murum magno fletu imperare coepit: magnam barbarorum multitudinem periculosam patriae in fines transire, ut ante fecissent, seque his rebus quam maturrime occurrendum. Cum Republicani eum numquam reprehenderent et eius consilia, quae inania ac inridenda sunt, vehementissime comprobarent, Manicula nec consulem sed tyrannum agebat. Itaque Manicula dixit: veteres consules hunc murum conficere voluisse; se optimum consulem omnium exercitum murum ad suum arbitrium conficere iussurum. Multi undique professi sunt hominem improbum, iracundum, temerarium eiusque imperium diutius sustineri non posse.
Interim quam maximis possunt itineribus Democratici contenderunt et ad Capitolium tandem pervenerunt ut omnem patriam ab Maniculae iniuria defenderent.


Frosty, Horace, Death

Some Reflections Signifying Nothing:

Frosty the Snowman is one of the few not-wholly-reprehensible morsels of regurgitated pabulum regularly offered for fireside consumption at this time of year. Compared to other ‘Christmas Classics’ such as Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty is at least not guilty of teaching children a disturbing or disgraceful lesson. Santa Claus is Coming to Town presents that corpulent old man from the North Pole as a Sejanus or a Stalin (he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake). Rudolph’s story teaches children that it is morally acceptable to mock someone’s physical peculiarities until the boss, inconvenienced by a sudden shift in the weather, realizes that he can profitably exploit a genetic mutation for his own purposes. Frosty, however, is the most Horatian of our Christmas tales – an inversion of the old return of spring trope. The Spring (and with it, life) return in Horace 4.7:

Diffugere nives, redeunt iam gramina campis
     arboribusque comae;

‘The snows have fled, the grass returns to the fields and the leaves to the trees.’

Housman regarded this as the most beautiful poem in Latin, and was famously shaken from his icy English emotional restraint when reading it to a class. Like so much of the best non-scatological Latin poetry, it is a meditation upon the brevity of life and the inevitability of death:

non, Torquate, genus, non te facundia, non te
     restituet pietas;

‘Torquatus, you will not be brought back by your name, your eloquence, or your piety.’

Frosty is in like manner a meditation on death and the brevity of life, but achieves a similar effect through the inversion of the seasons. Frosty melts after being trapped in a greenhouse. The protagonist Karen bitterly laments his death, but Santa reassures her:

‘Don’t cry, Karen. Frosty’s not gone for good. You see, he was made out of Christmas snow and Christmas snow can never disappear completely. Oh, it sometimes goes away for almost a year at a time and takes the form of Spring and Summer rain, but you can bet your boots that when a good jolly December wind kisses it, it will turn in to Christmas snow all over again!’

In the inverted ontology of Frosty’s world, Spring and Summer now stand in for death, but Winter will bring about Frosty’s rebirth. Karen is forced to reconcile herself to Frosty’s symbolic death every year at the end of the Christmas season. Yet, the pain caused by this ineluctable event is premonitory of Karen’s own death. In Horace’s poem, the cyclical departure of the seasons is precisely what guarantees their immortality. We are supposed to learn from witnessing this cycle of death every year, but we are not to extend the analogy too far:

Damna tamen celeres reparant caelestia lunae:
     nos ubi decidimus

‘The swift moons make good the celestial loss. But when we die…’

Catullus expresses the same thought, employing the same poetic plural for a singular celestial object (Catullus V):

soles occidere et redire possunt:
nobis cum semel occidit brevis lux,
nox est perpetua una dormienda.

‘Suns can fall and return, but as soon as our brief light has fallen, we must sleep one unending night.’

I have enjoyed my winter break, and I am thankful that I was officially off of work for that time. Yet, as I walked away from work on Friday two weeks ago with a sense of giddy anticipation, I nevertheless knew that the break would come to an end, and the good times would be over. I used to take the peculiarly claustrophobic nausea which I feel on Sunday nights at face value – that is, I thought that it was about returning to work. But I enjoy my job – it can’t alone be the source of physical revulsion. Rather, Monday is when Frosty returns to the North Pole, and all of my yesterdays since last Friday ‘have lighted fools the way to dusty death.’ The end of a  vacation is a premonitory tableau of the scene in which the Reaper lays his hand upon me; I knew that this moment would come. I suppose that I don’t actually mind going back to work tomorrow – I just don’t want to die. At moments like these, one can reach for the bottle or for Seneca: ‘Thus, if death is to be feared, it must be feared always. For, what time is exempt from death?’ (Ita si timenda mors est, semper timenda est. Quod enim morti tempus exemptum est?)

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The Consent of the Damned: Homeric Scholia and the Lotus-Eaters

In Odysseus’ tale of his wanderings he recounts how he saved his men from the temptations of the land of the Lotus-Eaters

Odyssey 9.82-97

“From there for nine days I was carried by ruinous winds
over the fish-bearing sea. On the tenth we came to the land
of the Lotus-Eaters where they eat the florid food.
There we disembarked to the shore and we drew water;
soon my companions made dinner around the swift ships.
But after we had shared the food and drink
I sent out companions to go and discover
whatever men there were who ate the fruit of the earth.
I chose two men and sent a herald as a third.
They went and met the Lotus-eating men.
The Lotus-Eaters didn’t bring any harm to my companions,
but they gave them their lotus to share.
Whoever ate the honey-sweet fruit of the lotus
no longer wished to report back or return home,
but just longed to stay there among the Lotus-eating men
to wait and pluck the lotus, forgetting his homecoming.”

ἔνθεν δ’ ἐννῆμαρ φερόμην ὀλοοῖσ’ ἀνέμοισι
πόντον ἐπ’ ἰχθυόεντα• ἀτὰρ δεκάτῃ ἐπέβημεν
γαίης Λωτοφάγων, οἵ τ’ ἄνθινον εἶδαρ ἔδουσιν.
ἔνθα δ’ ἐπ’ ἠπείρου βῆμεν καὶ ἀφυσσάμεθ’ ὕδωρ,
αἶψα δὲ δεῖπνον ἕλοντο θοῇς παρὰ νηυσὶν ἑταῖροι.
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ σίτοιό τ’ ἐπασσάμεθ’ ἠδὲ ποτῆτος,
δὴ τότ’ ἐγὼν ἑτάρους προΐην πεύθεσθαι ἰόντας,
οἵ τινες ἀνέρες εἶεν ἐπὶ χθονὶ σῖτον ἔδοντες,
ἄνδρε δύω κρίνας, τρίτατον κήρυχ’ ἅμ’ ὀπάσσας.
οἱ δ’ αἶψ’ οἰχόμενοι μίγεν ἀνδράσι Λωτοφάγοισιν•
οὐδ’ ἄρα Λωτοφάγοι μήδονθ’ ἑτάροισιν ὄλεθρον
ἡμετέροισ’, ἀλλά σφι δόσαν λωτοῖο πάσασθαι.
τῶν δ’ ὅς τις λωτοῖο φάγοι μελιηδέα καρπόν,
οὐκέτ’ ἀπαγγεῖλαι πάλιν ἤθελεν οὐδὲ νέεσθαι,
ἀλλ’ αὐτοῦ βούλοντο μετ’ ἀνδράσι Λωτοφάγοισι
λωτὸν ἐρεπτόμενοι μενέμεν νόστου τε λαθέσθαι.

The scholia present reactions to this passage that are not altogether alien from some arguments in the debate about drug enforcement and addiction.

One scholiast quotes Heraclitus the Paradoxographer with approval, noting that this scene is about how the wise man can resist pleasure.

Schol. T ad. Od. 9 89

“From Herakleitos. If someone wishes to examine Odysseus’ wanderings precisely, he will find an allegorical tale. For he has set up Odysseus as something of a vehicle of every kind of virtue through which has philosophized: and then he resists the vices that corrupt human life: the land of the Lotus-eaters represents pleasure, a land of foreign corruption which Odysseus masterfully passes by, and then he settles the wild heart of each man with either chastisement or persuasion.”

ἐκ τοῦ ῾Ηρακλείτου. καθόλου δὲ τὴν ᾿Οδυσσέως πλάνην εἴ τις ἀκριβῶς ἐθέλει σκοπεῖν, ἠλληγορημένην εὑρήσει. πάσης γὰρ ἀρετῆς καθάπερ ὄργανόν τι τὸν ᾿Οδυσσέα παραστησάμενος ἑαυτῷ διὰ τοῦτο πεφιλοσόφηκεν, ἐπειδήπερ τὰς ἐκνεμομένας τὸν ἀνθρώπινον βίον ἤχθηρε κακίας, ἡδονὴν μέν γε τὸ Λωτοφάγων χωρίον, ξένης γεωργὸν ἀπολαύσεως, ἣν ᾿Οδυσσεὺς ἐγκρατῶς παρέπλευσε, τὸν δ’ ἄγριον ἑκάστου θυμὸν ὡσπερεὶ καυτηρίῳ τῇ παραινέσει τῶν λόγων ἐπήρωσε.

Another commentator actually speaks of the Lotus-eaters as just men. This author implies that Odysseus’ men choose to take the drugs. Therefore, the blame is on them.

Schol. Q ad Od. 9.92

“Because they are righteous men, the [Lotus-eaters] do not restrain anyone by force, but by persuasion. For in the word “they were devising” it is clear that the ruin which attends these men does not happen without their consent. For, because the Lotus-eaters are righteous men, they were detaining no one by force but they were bewitching them with words alone.”

οὐδ’ ἄρα Λωτοφάγοι] δίκαιοι ὄντες ἄνδρες βίᾳ τινι οὐ κατεῖχον, ἀλλὰ πειθοῖ. τὸ δὲ “μήδοντο” δηλοῖ ὅτι οὐχ ἑκούσιος ἦν ἐκείνων ὁ γενόμενος ὄλεθρος. καὶ γὰρ οἱ Λωτοφάγοι δίκαιοι ὄντες βίᾳ οὐδένα κατεῖχον, ἀλλὰ τῷ λόγῳ μόνῳ ἔθελγον. Q.

And another comment explains that the men who partake of the lotus don’t actually forget their homecoming, but they merely stop worrying about it. Because, you know, it is their fault.

Schol. HQ ad Od. 9.97

“They forgot their homecoming” This follows from their nature, as it happens with the irrational animals, that the Lotus brings them forgetfulness and because of pleasure they spurn their homecoming. The sentiment is similar to the Iliad’s “they forgot their rushing valor”—they did not really forget it, but they stopped fostering it.”

νόστου τε λαθέσθαι] ἀκολούθως τῇ φύσει, ὡς ἐπὶ ἀλόγων ζῴων, οὐχ ὡς μέντοι τοῦ λωτοῦ λήθην ἐμποιοῦντος, ἀλλὰ διὰ τὴν ἡδονὴν καταφρονούντων τοῦ νόστου. ὅμοιον δέ ἐστι τῷ “λάθοντο δὲ θούριδος ἀλκῆς” (Il. ο, 322.). οὐ γὰρ ἐπελάθοντο, ἀλλὰ κατημέλησαν.

In these three cases, drug addiction is treated as an individual responsibility and not as either a biological challenge [e.g. addiction as a disease] or a social problem [an act of oblivion in a society with no collective meaning or sense of belonging].

(Maybe they were all on drugs anyway)

Ancient Greek may not have had a word for the concept of addiction.

Homeric Advice for Starting a Conversation at #AIASCS

Across the academy, conferences are famous for being hierarchical, expensive, humiliating, of questionable worth, and a general venue for all sorts of debauchery. (There are papers too.) This week, the world of Classics descends upon the unsuspecting paradise of San Diego. Fortunately, Amy Pistone has generated some good advice for people attending conferences.

But professional conferences often require social engagement! Talking to new people can be hard. If you find yourself at a loss for words this conference season, why not try something new by using an old script?

Diomedes: Il. 6.123-129

“Bestie, who are you of mortal humans?
For I have never seen you before in this ennobling battle.
But now you stride out far ahead of everyone
In your daring—where you await my ash-wood spear.
Those who oppose my might are children of miserable parents!
But, if you are one of the immortals come down from the sky,
I don’t wish to fight with the sky-dwelling gods!”

τίς δὲ σύ ἐσσι φέριστε καταθνητῶν ἀνθρώπων;
οὐ μὲν γάρ ποτ’ ὄπωπα μάχῃ ἔνι κυδιανείρῃ
τὸ πρίν· ἀτὰρ μὲν νῦν γε πολὺ προβέβηκας ἁπάντων
σῷ θάρσει, ὅ τ’ ἐμὸν δολιχόσκιον ἔγχος ἔμεινας·
δυστήνων δέ τε παῖδες ἐμῷ μένει ἀντιόωσιν.
εἰ δέ τις ἀθανάτων γε κατ’ οὐρανοῦ εἰλήλουθας,
οὐκ ἂν ἔγωγε θεοῖσιν ἐπουρανίοισι μαχοίμην.

Glaukos, 6.145-151

“Oh, you great-hearted son of Tydeus, why are you asking about pedigree?
The generations of men are just like leaves on a tree:
The wind blows some to the ground and then the forest
Grows lush with others when spring comes again.
In this way, the race of men grows and then dies in turn.
But if you are willing, learn about these things so you may know
My lineage well—many are the men who know me.”

Τυδεΐδη μεγάθυμε τί ἢ γενεὴν ἐρεείνεις;
οἵη περ φύλλων γενεὴ τοίη δὲ καὶ ἀνδρῶν.
φύλλα τὰ μέν τ’ ἄνεμος χαμάδις χέει, ἄλλα δέ θ’ ὕλη
τηλεθόωσα φύει, ἔαρος δ’ ἐπιγίγνεται ὥρη·
ὣς ἀνδρῶν γενεὴ ἣ μὲν φύει ἣ δ’ ἀπολήγει.
εἰ δ’ ἐθέλεις καὶ ταῦτα δαήμεναι ὄφρ’ ἐὺ εἰδῇς
ἡμετέρην γενεήν, πολλοὶ δέ μιν ἄνδρες ἴσασιν

Then switch nametags!

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This post was inspired by the ever dynamic Rogue Classicist:

The conference equivalent of exchanging armor would probably be switching handouts with someone else and then giving a talk based on their handout. Aha! a new career goal!

If you are serious about getting to know new people (and there are always a lot of nice, interesting people at the annual meeting), Zeno has some great advice:

“We have two ears but one mouth so that we may listen more and talk less”

δύο ὦτα ἔχομεν, στόμα δὲ ἕν, ἵνα πλείω μὲν ἀκούωμεν, ἥττονα δὲ λέγωμεν

Presidential Latin Scholarship

John Adams to Mr. Marston, September 1st 1821:

“Dear Sir


The Roman dictator was Lucius Quintius Cincinnatus. His Master of the horse was Caius Servilius Ahala whose daring and dangerous exploit was killing Spurius Melius for aiming at royalty. The story is in Livy, Book 4th Chapter 13th In Rollin’s Roman History Vol 2 p 46 In Adam’s defence Vol 3 p 242 The Roman Antiquities of Dionisius Halicarnassensis come not down so low His account is lost but I presume the anecdote is to be found in every general Roman History.

Is it not remarkable that this most memorable of all the applications of the phrase Macte virtute esto is omitted in all the dictionaries Stephens Faber Ainsworth amidst all their learned lumber have forgotten this. They have quoted Virgil Ovid Cicero and even the wag Horace but overlooked Livy.

Horace the rogue in his first book of Satyres Satire 2 lines 21 22 [&c] puts these words into the mouth of Cato and applies them for a very curious moral purpose

“Macte virtute esto inquit sententia dia Catonis

Nam simul ac venas inflavit tetra libido

Huc juvenes aequum est descendere non alienas

Permolere uxores.”

Virgil in his ninth Aeneid has made Apollo Say to Ascanius, after his noble Juvenile exploit in killing Numanus

“Macte nova virtute, puer: Sic itur ad astra

Dis genite, et geniture deos.”

He afterwards descends from his cloud in the shape of old Butes, the Armor Bearer and Janitor and gives Iulus good advice,

“Sit satis Aeneada telis impune Numanum

Oppetisse tuis &c

Cætera parce puer bello.”

Servius’s commentary upon the word “Macte” is Magis aucte Et est sermo tractatus a sacris; quoties enim aut [Thus] aut Vinum [. . .] victimam fundebatur dicebat: Mactus est taurus vino vel thure hoc est cumulata et hostia et magis aucta.

In the Dauphin’s Edition the Note upon the Word “Macto is “Mactus[, Start insertion,, End,] quasi Mauctus id est magis auctus, hic herba adulta dicta est a Catone macta quia aucta. Hostiæ quoque mactie quia mola, Vino, thure Spaigebantur et quasi cumulabantur augebanturque ante Sacrificium; unde mactare pro cadere dictum fuit. Diis ippi in Sacrificiis exclamabunt: Macte hocce vino inferio esto; macte hacce dape esto quia sacrificiis augeri eorum felicitatem putabunt. Cicero dixit Nonio teste maitare aliquem honoribus. Plautus mactare infortunio, Hac formula vocativum adhib[etiri]Macte pro nominativo Mactus, more attico Macte ingenio este cæli interpretes Pliny. Macte virtutites estote Milites Romani.

Rollin in the second volume of his history page 261 translates the phrase Macte virtute est liberata Republica by commentary J’approve votre action et je vous [. . .] de votre zele Servilius Vous vene[z] de delivrer votre Patrie d’un tyran qui voulut la reduire en Servitude.

Livy’s narration of this whole transaction is ample in his fourth book Chapters 13 14 15 16.

There is in Livy another remarkable application of this phrase by Porsenna, In the second book of Livy Chap 11 12 13 14 is the romantic and miraculous Story of Caius Mucius Scævola and his attempt to kill the king of Etruria in his camp and tent Failing in his enterprise by killing the Secretary instead of the king and expecting death in torment he tormented himself by thrusting his hand into burning. Porsenna showedd soul equally great by pardoning him in these words “Tu vero abi in te mages quam in me hostilia ausus Iuberem macte vurtute esse si pro mea Patria ista virtus staret Nunc jure belli liberam te intactum inviolatum que dimitto.

Some Critics have pretended that Macte is an adverb and some that it is in the ablative case both absurdly.

In Ovid may be found the following phrases Mactare alequem duum Mactare animal Picaseo Mactare anseum hospitibus Dius Mactare catuun Mactare piraneam Mactare pivennas bid queqam Mactare orem pauti Mactaro ores Mactare [. . .] tot mactare & vinum Mactari ad ovas sacras victima Mactatuo racca Miuccor Mactatus ad aucas and many others but I am weary of this [per ducubital] amusement.

J. Adams

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