A Student Debt Proposal: Collect The Balance In Hell

Recent reports say we are hitting a tipping point for student loans. It is telling (and damning) that certain sectors consider student loans a crises only when delinquent payments reach a certain point. It was totally fine when two generations of students had their entire lives shaped by the cost of education….

This charming detail from Valerius Maximus might be the perfect rider for an education bill right about now…

Valerius Maximus, Wondrous Deeds and Sayings 2.6.10

“This ancient custom of the Gauls returns to my mind as I leave their walls: The story goes that they used to loan money which was scheduled to be repaid in the underworld, because they considered human souls to be immortal. I would call them fools if they didn’t believe the same thing wearing pants as Pythagoras did wrapped in his cloak.”

Horum moenia egresso vetus ille mos Gallorum occurrit,quo[s] memoria proditum est pecunias mutuas, quae iis apud inferos redderentur, da<ri soli>tas,  quia persuasum habuerint animas hominum immortales esse. dicerem stultos, nisi idem bracati sensissent quod palliatus Pythagoras credidit.

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Tyrants in the Stacks: Pisistratus, the First Librarian?

Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights 7.17

17: Who was the first of all to provide books for the public to read; and what quantity of books were in Athenian public libraries before the Persian invasions?

Pisistratus the tyrant is said to have been the first to make books of liberal disciplines available to be read publicly in Athens. Afterwards, the Athenians themselves increased the collection eagerly and carefully. But later when Xerxes became master of Athens and the city was burned except for the citadel, he stole the entire collection and took it to Persia. Many years later, King Seleucus, who was nicknamed Nicanor, made sure that all of these books were returned to Athens.

At a later date, a great number of books—nearly seven hundred thousand volumes, were either collected or published in Egypt under the Ptolemaic kings; but these books were all burned in our first Alexandrian War during the sack of the city—this wasn’t done on purpose or by any orders, but accidentally by the auxiliary regiment.”

 XVII. Quis omnium primus libros publice praebuerit legendos; quantusque numerus fuerit Athenis ante clades Persicas librorum in bibliothecis publicorum.

1 Libros Athenis disciplinarum liberalium publice ad legendum praebendos primus posuisse dicitur Pisistratus tyrannus. Deinceps studiosius accuratiusque ipsi Athenienses auxerunt; sed omnem illam postea librorum copiam Xerxes Athenarum potitus urbe ipsa praeter arcem incensa abstulit asportavitque in Persas. 2 Eos porro libros universos multis post tempestatibus Seleucus rex, qui Nicanor appellatus est, referendos Athenas curavit. 3 Ingens postea numerus librorum in Aegypto ab Ptolemaeis regibus vel conquisitus vel confectus est ad milia ferme voluminum septingenta; sed ea omnia bello priore Alexandrino, dum diripitur ea civitas, non sponte neque opera consulta, sed a militibus forte auxiliaris incensa sunt.

 

[The War mentioned here is likely 48 CBE; the Library at Alexandria was rebuilt by 41 BCE. It was burned again in 272 CE and abandoned by the end of the 4th century CE]

Ingres - Pisistratus head and left hand of Alcibiades, 1824-1834.jpg
From here

Gellius, Totally Understanding Oral Traditions

Gellius, Attic Nights, 3.11.2-5

“Some report that Homer was older by birth than Hesiod—among this number are Philochorus and Xenophanes. But others say he was younger, including the poet Lucius Accius and Ephorus the historian. In the first book of On Images, however, Marcus Varro says that there is little agreement about which was born first, but that what is not in bout is that they lived at the same time. Evidence from this comes from the inscription on the tripod which was allegedly put on Mt. Helikon.

Accius, still, in book one of the Didasalica uses somewhat superficial arguments…he continues ‘since Homer, when he recounts at the start of his poem that Achilles is the son of Peleus and does not add who Peleus is—which is something he would have added if he had not seen it already explained by Hesiod (Fr. 211). Similarly, when it comes to the Cyclops’ Accius says, ‘Homer would have highlighted the fact that he was one-eyed and would not have passed over such a marvelous detail if it had not already been popularized in the older poems of Hesiod.”

(2) alii Homerum quam Hesiodum maiorem natu fuisse scripserunt, in quis Philochorus et Xenophanes; alii minorem, in quis L. Accius poeta et Ephorus historiae scriptor. (3) M. autem Varro in primo De imaginibus, uter prior sit natus, parum constare dicit, sed non esse dubium, quin aliquo tempore eodem vixerint; idque ex epigrammate ostendi, quod in tripode scriptum est, qui in monte Helikone ab Hesiodo positus traditur. (4) Accius autem in primo didascalico levibus admodum argumentis utitur … (5) quod Homerus, inquit, cum in principio carminis Achillem esse filium Pelei diceret, quis esset Peleus, non addidit; quam rem procul, inquit, dubio dixisset, nisi ab Hesiodo iam dictum videret. de Cyclope itidem, inquit, vel maxime quod unoculus fuit, rem tam insignem non praeterisset, nisi aeque prioris Hesiodi carminibus involgatum esset.

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This is a mood.

Some Less Famous Sayings of Famous Men

From the Gnomologicum Vaticanum

272

“When Euripides was asked why he hated both wicked and noble men he said “I hate the wicked men because of their corruption and the good men because they don’t hate the evil.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς διὰ τί [αὐτὸς] τούς τε πονηροὺς καὶ ἀγαθοὺς μισεῖ ἔφη· „τοὺς μὲν πονηροὺς διὰ τὴν μοχθηρίαν, τοὺς δὲ ἀγαθοὺς ὅτι τοὺς κακοὺς οὐ μισοῦσιν”.

420

“When Oinopides saw a youth who had many books he said “don’t put them in a chest but in your heart.”

Οἰνοπίδης ὁρῶν μειράκιον πολλὰ βιβλία κτώμενον ἔφη· „μὴ τῇ κιβωτῷ, ἀλλὰ τῷ στήθει.”

426

“Plato used to say “It is not fine for an educated man to converse with the uneducated, just as it is for a sober man to talk with the drunk”

Πλάτων ἔφη· „οὐ καλὸν πεπαιδευμένον ἐν ἀπαιδεύτοις διαλέγεσθαι, ὥσπερ οὐδὲ νήφοντα ἐν μεθύουσιν.”

 

309

“Herodotus the historiographer when asked by someone how people can be of good spirit, said “if they don’t do [too] many things.”

῾Ηρόδοτος ὁ ἱστοριογράφος ἐρωτηθεὶς ὑπό τινος πῶς ἂν δύναιντο <οἱ> ἄνθρωποι εὐθυμεῖν εἶπεν· „ἐὰν μὴ πολλὰ πρήσσωσιν.”

 

53

“When [Aristotle] was asked what man has equal to god he said “to do good deeds” ‘

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς ὑπό τινος, τί ἄνθρωπος ἶσον ἔχει θεῷ, εἶπε· „τὸ εὐεργετεῖν”.

 

539

“When Philip was asked who blinded his eye, he said “Love for Greece.”

Φίλιππος ἐρωτηθεὶς τίς αὐτῷ τὸν ὀφθαλμὸν ἐξέκοψεν, εἶπεν· „ὁ τῆς ῾Ελλάδος ἔρως.”

 

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Drinking with Roman Usurpers

Firmus was, according to the HA, a usurper. The historical record is less clear.

Historia Augusta 29.IV

“Firmus was nevertheless of huge stature with prominent eyes, curly hair, a scarred forehead, a darker complexion on his face while most of his body was white, although it was tough and hairy, so that many used to call him a Cyclops. He used to eat a lot of meat and allegedly ate an ostrich in a day. He drank some wine and a lot of water. He was extremely strong in mind, most robust in nerves to the extent that he overcame Tritannus, whom Varro mentions. For he endured an anvil placed on his chest and struck constantly while he seemed to be rising up rather than lying down because he was face up supporting himself on his hands.

Yet, [Firmus] had a drinking competition with Aurelian’s generals when they wanted to test him. For, when a certain Burburus, one of the standard-bearers and a notable drinker, challenged him to a drinking context, he sucked down two pails of wine but was still sober after the banquet. When Burburus asked him, “Why didn’t you drink the dregs?” he responded “Fool, the earth is not drunk.” We are pursuing lighter notes here, we must speak of more important ones.”

Fuit tamen Firmus statura ingenti, oculis foris eminentibus, capillo crispo, fronte vulnerata, vultu nigriore, reliqua parte corporis candidus sed pilosus atque hispidus, ita ut eum plerique Cyclopem vocarent. carne multa vescebatur, struthionem ad diem comedisse fertur. vini non multum bibit, aquae plurimum. mente firmissimus, nervis robustissimus, ita ut Tritannum vinceret, cuius Varro meminit. nam et incudem superpositam pectori constanter aliis tundentibus pertulit, cum ipse reclinis ac resupinus et curvatus in manus penderet potius quam iaceret.  fuit tamen ei contentio cum Aureliani ducibus ad bibendum, si quando eum temptare voluissent. nam quidam Burburus nomine de numero vexillariorum, notissimus potator, cum ad bibendum eundem provocasset, situlas duas plenas mero duxit et toto postea convivio sobrius fuit; et cum ei Burburus diceret, “Quare non faeces bibisti?” respondit ille, “Stulte, terra non bibitur.” levia persequimur, cum maiora dicenda sint.

 

 

Suffering for a Lack of the Latin Language

Seneca the Elder, Controversiae 7.72

“I used to tell you that Cestius, because he was Greek, suffered because of a lack of Latin words though he had an abundance of ideas. Thus, whenever he dared to describe something more broadly, he often stalled especially when he attempted to imitate some great genius.

This is the issue in this controversy. For, in his story, when he was telling about how his brother was given to him, he was pleased by this lonely and sad description: “night was laid out, and everything, judges, was singing under silent stars.” Julius Montanus, who was a companion of Tiberius and an exceptional poet, was claiming that he wanted to imitate Vergil’s line: ‘it was night and all the tired animals over the earth, the races of birds and beasts, were held by a deep sleep.’ “

Soleo dicere vobis Cestium Latinorum verborum inopia hominem Graecum laborasse, sensibus abundasse; itaque, quotiens latius aliquid describere ausus est, totiens substitit, utique cum se ad imitationem magni alicuius ingeni derexerat, sicut in hac controversia fecit. Nam in narratione, cum fratrem traditum sibi describeret, placuit sibi in hac explicatione una et infelici: nox erat concubia, et omnia, iudices, canentia sideribus muta erant. Montanus Iulius, qui comes fuit , egregius poeta, aiebat illum imitari voluisse Vergili descriptionem:

nox erat et terras animalia fessa per omnis,alituum pecudumque genus, sopor altus habebat

Cats doing cat things: sleep, play with mice, and take an unhealthy interest in caged birds from a medieval bestiary
Oxford University: Bodleian Library

The Jealousy and Play of Alexander the Great

Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae, 7.4.277a

“Chares the Mytilenaian claims that when Alexander found the most beautiful apples in the land of Babylon, he had his ships filled with them and put on an “apple war” from the ships that was a great delight to see.”

Χάρης δ᾽ ὁ Μυτιληναῖος ἱστορεῖ ὡς κάλλιστα μῆλα εὑρὼν ὁ ᾽Αλέξανδρος περὶ τὴν Βαβυλωνίαν χώραν τούτων τε πληρώσας τὰ σκάφη μηλομαχίαν ἀπὸ τῶν νεῶν ἐποιήσατο, ὡς τὴν θέαν ἡδίστην γενέσθαι.

Gnomologium Vaticanum, 78; 10, p. 3

“Alexander, after he arrived at Troy and looked upon the tomb of Achilles, said as he stood there: “Achilles, you obtained the magnificent herald, Homer, because you were so great.” Anaximenes, who was nearby, responded, “King, I too will make you famous”. And Alexander responded, “By the gods, I would prefer to be Homer’s Thersites instead of an Achilles for you.”

ὁ αὐτὸς (sc. ᾽Αλέξανδρος) ἐλθὼν εἰς ῎Ιλιον καὶ θεασάμενος τὸν ᾽Αχιλλέως τάφον στὰς εἶπεν· «ὦ ᾽Αχιλλεῦ, ὡς σὺ μέγας ὢν μεγάλου κήρυκος ἔτυχες ῾Ομήρου». παρόντος δὲ ᾽Αναξιμένους καὶ εἰπόντος· «καὶ ἡμεῖς σε, ὦ βασιλεῦ, ἔνδοξον ποιήσομεν», «ἀλλὰ νὴ τοὺς θεούς», ἔφη, «παρ᾽ ῾Ομήρωι ἐβουλόμην ἂν εἴναι Θερσίτης ἢ παρὰ σοὶ ᾽Αχιλλεύς».

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