Babies and Knowing the Highest Good

Seneca, EM 125 7-8

“But we say that being “blessed” are those things which are following Nature. What follows nature, moreover, is clear and straightforward just as anything which is whole. What follows nature and what is granted to us immediately at birth I do not call a good but merely the beginning of a good.

You grant the greatest good—pleasure—to infants so that a child begins life where the perfected man should arrive. You put the peak of the tree at its roots! If anyone should claim that some child, enclosed in their mother’s whom, of uncertain gender, soft, incomplete and unformed, that this child is in some stage of the good, they would seem to be a bit off.

And yet consider how little different there is between one who just now found life and another who is still a burden of maternal organs? They are both equally advanced in their understanding of good and evil and An infant is no more conscious of the Good than a tree or any other speechless creature.”

Dicimus beata esse, quae secundum naturam sint, Quid autem secundum naturam sit, palam et protinus apparet, sicut quid sit integrum. Quod secundum naturam est, quod contigit protinus nato, non dico bonum, sed initium boni. Tu summum bonum, voluptatem, infantiae donas, ut inde incipiat nascens, quo consummatus homo pervenit.

Cacumen radicis loco ponis. Si quis diceret illum in materno utero latentem, sexus quoque incerti,tenerum et inperfectum et informem iam in aliquo bono esse, aperte videretur errare. Atqui quantulum interest inter eum, qui cum1 maxime vitam accipit, et illum, qui maternorum viscerum latens onus est? Uterque, quantum ad intellectum boni ac mali, aeque maturus est, et non magis infans adhuc boni capax est quam arbor aut mutum aliquod animal.

An Essay About How Your Words Don’t Hurt Me

Seneca, De Brevitate Vitae 26.4-6

“Some Socrates—or any other person who has similar authority or talent for these human matters—says “I am persuaded by nothing less than your opinion that I should change my life. Pour the typical abuse on me from every angle. I won’t even notice that you’re attacking me because you’re wailing just like poor little babies.”

This is what someone says who has come to wisdom, whose soul has escaped vices and calls on him to correct others not out of hatred but in order to treat them. Someone like this might say to others, “Your opinion about me affects me on your account, not mine because despising and attacking virtue is foreswearing any hope of the good. You don’t hurt me just as mortals don’t harm the gods when they destroy the altars.

Yet an evil proposition and an evil plan is obvious even when it lacks the power to harm someone. I tolerate your prattle even as Jupiter the Highest and Greatest tolerates the absurd claims of poets: one gives him wings, one gives him horns, another even depicts him as a supreme adulterer, up all night, while others show him to be mean to the other gods, unjust to men, a rapist of freeborn boys or his own relatives, and a parricide and usurper of his father’s throne.

The poets have accomplished nothing more than relieving people of their shame at doing wrong if they have truly believed the gods are like this. So, even though your words don’t harm me, I’m still warning you for your own benefit.”

“Nihil magis,” inquit ille Socrates, aut aliquis alius, ius cui idem adversus humana atque eadem potestas est, “persuasi mihi, quam ne ad opiniones vestras actum vitae meae flecterem. Solita conferte undique verba; non conviciari vos putabo sed vagire velut infantes miserrimos.” Haec dicet ille, cui sapientia contigit, quem animus vitiorum immunis increpare alios, non quia odit, sed in remedium iubet. Adiciet his illa: “Existimatio me vestra non meo nomine sed vestro movet, quia clamitantis odisse et lacessere virtutem bonae spei eiuratio est. Nullam mihi iniuriam facitis, sed ne dis quidem hi qui aras evertunt.

Office Space Michael Bolton GIF - Office Space Michael Bolton Why Should I Change GIFs

Sed malum propositum apparet malumque consilium etiam ibi, ubi nocere non potuit. Sic vestras halucinationes fero quemadmodum Iuppiter optimus maximus ineptias poetarum, quorum alius illi alas imposuit, alius cornua, alius adulterum illum induxit et abnoctantem, alius saevum in deos, alius iniquum in homines, alius raptorem ingenuorum et cognatorum quidem, alius. parricidam et regni alieni paternique expugnatorem. Quibus nihil aliud actum est, quam ut pudor hominibus peccandi demeretur,  si tales deos credidissent. Sed quamquam ista me nihil laedant, vestra tamen vos moneo causa.

Does the examined life need a socrates bib?

Lost Treasures Department: Mother with Baby Centaurs

Lucian, Zeuxis or Antiochus 4

“I want now to explain about this painter too. That Zeuxis was the best painter at the time and didn’t illustrate common and cliched things or did make heroes, gods, and wars as little as possible. Instead he was always trying to make something new and whenever he conceived of something different or odd, he demonstrated the brilliance of his skill in its execution. Among his many audacious images, that Zeuxis painted a female Hippocentaur and depicted her feeding twin Hippocentaur babies.

There’s a copy of that image precisely modeled on the original in Athens. The first copy, however, the general Sulla selected to send to Italy with other things, but I guess that the ship carrying it sank outside of Malea, destroying the painting and everything else.”

Ἐθέλω γοῦν ὑμῖν καὶ τὸ τοῦ γραφέως διηγήσασθαι. ὁ Ζεῦξις ἐκεῖνος ἄριστος γραφέων γενόμενος τὰ δημώδη καὶ τὰ κοινὰ ταῦτα οὐκ ἔγραφεν, ἢ ὅσα πάνυ ὀλίγα, ἥρωας ἢ θεοὺς ἢ πολέμους, ἀεὶ δὲ καινοποιεῖν ἐπειρᾶτο καί τι ἀλλόκοτον ἂν καὶ ξένον ἐπινοήσας ἐπ᾿ ἐκείνῳ τὴν ἀκρίβειαν τῆς τέχνης ἐπεδείκνυτο. ἐν δὲ τοῖς ἄλλοις τολμήμασι καὶ θήλειαν Ἱπποκένταυρον ὁ Ζεῦξις οὗτος ἐποίησεν, ἀνατρέφουσάν γε προσέτι παιδίω Ἱπποκενταύρω διδύμω κομιδῇ νηπίω. τῆς εἰκόνος ταύτης ἀντίγραφός ἐστι νῦν Ἀθήνησι πρὸς αὐτὴν ἐκείνην ἀκριβεῖ τῇ στάθμῃ μετενηνεγμένη. τὸ ἀρχέτυπον δὲ αὐτὸ Σύλλας ὁ Ῥωμαίων στρατηγὸς ἐλέγετο μετὰ τῶν ἄλλων εἰς Ἰταλίαν πεπομφέναι, εἶτα περὶ Μαλέαν οἶμαι καταδύσης τῆς ὁλκάδος ἀπολέσθαι ἅπαντα καὶ τὴν γραφήν.

Mekonion: Prepared Poppy Seeds. Or Newborn Poop

Pliny, Natural History 22 

“A poppy is boiled and consumed for insomnia. The same water is used for the face. Poppies grow best in dry conditions where it does not often rain. When the heads themselves are boiled with the leaves, the juice is called meconium and is a lot less potent than opium.”

decoquitur et bibitur contra vigilias, eademque aqua fovent ora. optimum in siccis et ubi raro pluat. cum capita ipsa et folia decocuntur, sucus meconium vocatur multum opio ignavior.

 

Aristotle, Historia Animalium 587a 31

“[Newborns] also discharge excrement right away, pretty soon, or at least within the same day. This material is greater than one might expect from the size of the infant and the women call it “poppy-juice” [mêkonion]. Its color is similar to blood but very dark and like pitch. Later on, it is milk-like once the baby immediately eats from the breast. Before it comes out, the newborn does not cry, even if the birth is difficult and the head sticks out while the whole body is inside.”

ἀφίησι δὲ καὶ περιττώματα τὰ μὲν εὐθὺς τὰ δὲ διὰ ταχέων, πάντα δ᾿ ἐν ἡμέρᾳ· καὶ τοῦτο τὸ περίττωμα πλέον ἢ τοῦ παιδὸς κατὰ μέγεθος· ὃ καλοῦσιν αἱ γυναῖκες μηκώνιον. χρῶμα δὲ τούτου αἱματῶδες καὶ σφόδρα μέλαν καὶ πιττῶδες, μετὰ δὲ τοῦτο ἤδη γαλακτῶδες· σπᾷ γὰρ εὐθὺς καὶ τὸν μαστόν. πρὶν δ᾿ ἐξελθεῖν οὐ φθέγγεται τὸ παιδίον, κἂν δυστοκούσης τὴν κεφαλὴν μὲν ὑπερέχῃ 35τὸ δ᾿ ὅλον σῶμα ἔχῃ ἐντός.

If you want more words for excrement in ancient Greek, we have you covered.

After oxidation, the juice of a poppy turns from white to, well, this:

Etymology of Mêkôn from Beekes (2010):

meconium

Persius Addresses a Petulant Man-Baby

Persius, Satires 3.15-19

“Fool, more foolish with each passing day,
Is this what we’ve come to? Ah, why not just be like
A little pigeon or a baby prince and insist on eating chopped up food
Or stop your mom from singing to you because you’re so angry?”

“o miser inque dies ultra miser, hucine rerum
venimus? a, cur non potius teneroque columbo
et similis regum pueris pappare minutum
poscis et iratus mammae lallare recusas?”

Livre d’astrologie, France, XIVe siècle
Paris, BnF, département des Manuscrits, Latin 7344, fol. 7v.

Persius Addresses a Petulant Man-Baby

Persius, Satires 3.15-19

“Fool, more foolish with each passing day,
Is this what we’ve come to? Ah, why not just be like
A little pigeon or a baby prince and insist on eating chopped up food
Or stop your mom from singing to you because you’re so angry?”

“o miser inque dies ultra miser, hucine rerum
venimus? a, cur non potius teneroque columbo
et similis regum pueris pappare minutum
poscis et iratus mammae lallare recusas?”

Livre d’astrologie, France, XIVe siècle
Paris, BnF, département des Manuscrits, Latin 7344, fol. 7v.

Persius Addresses a Petulant Man-Baby

Persius, Satires 3.15-19

“Fool, more foolish with each passing day,
Is this what we’ve come to? Ah, why not just be like
A little pigeon or a baby prince and insist on eating chopped up food
Or stop your mom from singing to you because you’re so angry?”

“o miser inque dies ultra miser, hucine rerum
venimus? a, cur non potius teneroque columbo
et similis regum pueris pappare minutum
poscis et iratus mammae lallare recusas?”

Livre d’astrologie, France, XIVe siècle
Paris, BnF, département des Manuscrits, Latin 7344, fol. 7v.

Children, Shipwrecked into Life

Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 5.218-227

“Why does nature nourish and increase the races
of horrible beasts, enemies to humankind on land and sea?
Why do the seasons of the year bring diseases?
Why does an early death come suddenly?
So a child, just like a shipwrecked man tossed by savage waves,
lies naked and speechless on the ground needing everything required
to support life at the very moment when nature pours him
from his mother’s womb into the world of light,
he fills the room with a sorrowful wail, as if he knows
the measure of troubles that still remain for him to endure in life.”

silenus-holding-the-baby-dionysus

praeterea genus horriferum natura ferarum
humanae genti infestum terraque marique
cur alit atque auget? cur anni tempora morbos
adportant? quare mors inmatura vagatur?
tum porro puer, ut saevis proiectus ab undis
navita, nudus humi iacet infans indigus omni
vitali auxilio, cum primum in luminis oras
nixibus ex alvo matris natura profudit,
vagituque locum lugubri complet, ut aequumst
cui tantum in vita restet transire malorum.

Babymaking Advice from Plutarch

Plutarch, On the Education of Children 1D-2A

 

“In connection with this it is necessary to cover something which has not be passed over by earlier writers. What is this? The fact that men who come near their wives for the sake of baby-making should do so completely sober or, at the very least, after drinking only moderately. For children who were made by fathers who were drunk at the time of their sowing turn out to be lovers of drink and drunks themselves. This is why, when Diogenes saw a young man who was out-of-his mind drunk, said “Young man, your father sired you when he was drunk.” That’s enough said about my ideas about fathering children…”

᾿Εχόμενον δ’ ἂν εἴη τούτων εἰπεῖν ὅπερ οὐδὲ τοῖς πρὸ ἡμῶν παρεωρᾶτο. τὸ ποῖον; ὅτι τοὺς ἕνεκα παιδοποιίας πλησιάζοντας ταῖς γυναιξὶν ἤτοι τὸ παράπαν ἀοίνους ἢ μετρίως γοῦν οἰνωμένους ποιεῖσθαι προσήκει τὸν συνουσιασμόν. φίλοινοι γὰρ καὶ μεθυστικοὶ γίγνεσθαι φιλοῦσιν ὧν ἂν τὴν ἀρχὴν τῆς σπορᾶς οἱ πατέρες ἐν μέθῃ ποιησάμενοι τύχωσιν. ᾗ καὶ Διογένης μειράκιον ἐκστατικὸν ἰδὼν καὶ παραφρονοῦν “νεανίσκε” ἔφησεν, “ὁ πατήρ σε μεθύων ἔσπειρε.” καὶ περὶ μὲν τῆς γενέσεως τοσαῦτ’ εἰρήσθω μοι…

 

baby
What has that baby been drinking?