Rejoicing at the Death of a Tyrant

Suetonius, Divus Tiberius 75

“The people were so happy about his death that some people went around shouting after its announcement, “Tiberius into the Tiber!” while others prayed to the Earth and the divine Shades to give him no place in death except with the damned.

Others still were threatened his body with a hook and the Mourning Stairs, angered over the memory of recent cruelty: for the senate had decreed a stay of ten days for all condemned to execution. But that day came about for some when the news of Tiberius’ death surfaced. Although they were pleading for public help since no one could be approached and appealed to oppose their punishments now that Gaius was gone, the jailors strangled them and threw them out on the Mourning Stairs anyway, afraid of acting against the law. So hatred for the tyrant only increased since his brutality remained even after his death.”

LXXV. Morte eius ita laetatus est populus, ut ad primum nuntium discurrentes pars: “Tiberium in Tiberim!” clamitarent, pars Terram matrem deosque Manes orarent, ne mortuo sedem ullam nisi inter impios darent, alii uncum et Gemonias cadaveri minarentur, exacerbati super memoriam pristinae crudelitatis etiam recenti atrocitate. Nam cum senatus consulto cautum esset, ut poena damnatorum in decimum semper diem differretur, forte accidit ut quorundam supplicii dies is esset, quo nuntiatum de Tiberio erat. Hos implorantis hominum fidem, quia absente adhuc Gaio nemo exstabat qui adiri interpellarique posset, custodes, ne quid adversus constitutum facerent, strangulaverunt abieceruntque in Gemonias. Crevit igitur invidia, quasi etiam post mortem tyranni saevitia permanente

Why Do We Start the New Year in the Cold?

Ovid, Fasti 149-165

“Come on! Tell me why the new year begins in the cold
When it would be better to begin in the springtime.
That’s when everything blooms, when time renews,
And new life stretches out from the vine’s bud,
When the trees are clothed again in new leaves
And grain just starts to sprout from its seed in the ground.

Then birds warm the air’s chill with their songs
While flocks play and made life in the fields.
Then the suns rise kind and the traveling swallow
Alights to build her nest under the barn’s high beam.
Then the field gives way to the plow and finds life again–
This should have rightly been called the New Year.”

I pressed him much about this. And he did not delay
But answered  with two verses in his own way:
“In winter the newest sun rises into the oldest one’s wane
And so Apollo and the year make their start the same.”

“dic, age, frigoribus quare novus incipit annus,
qui melius per ver incipiendus erat?
omnia tunc florent, tunc est nova temporis aetas,
et nova de gravido palmite gemma tumet,
et modo formatis operitur frondibus arbor,
prodit et in summum seminis herba solum,
et tepidum volucres concentibus aera mulcent,
ludit et in pratis luxuriatque pecus.
tum blandi soles, ignotaque prodit hirundo
et luteum celsa sub trabe figit opus:
tum patitur cultus ager et renovatur aratro.
haec anni novitas iure vocanda fuit.”
quaesieram multis: non multis ille moratus
contulit in versus sic sua verba duos:
“bruma novi prima est veterisque novissima solis:
principium capiunt Phoebus et annus idem.”

Jacob Philipp Hackert, “Fireworks over Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome”

Make the New Year Fearless and Rich!

Seneca, Moral Epistle 88.3-4

“They celebrate the New Year for me daily and I make the day happy and helpful with good thoughts and an open mind—for the mind is never greater than when it puts aside all useless things and has created peace by fearing nothing and has made itself rich by desiring nothing at all.”

Cotidie mihi annum novum faciunt, quem ego faustum et felicem reddo bonis cogitationibus et animi magnitudine, qui numquam maior est, quam ubi aliena seposuit et fecit sibi pacem nihil timendo, fecit sibi divitias nihil concupiscendo.

Ptolemy, Tetrabilos 2.92

“Therefore, it is simply the case that no single point is the beginning of a circle and none is the first [the solstices or equinoxes]; those who have written on them before have used any one of the four dates differently, using each on as a starting point, following their own argumentation based on the nature of each point in time. Naturally, each on of these parts has some attractive reason for why it might rightly be the beginning of the New Year”

κατὰ μὲν οὖν τὴν ἁπλῆν καὶ κυκλικὴν φύσιν οὐδὲν αὐτῶν ἐστιν ὡς ἐπὶ μιᾶς ἀρχῆς προηγούμενον· κέχρηνται δὲ οἱ περὶ τούτων γράψαντες, ἕν τι ὑποτιθέμενοι διαφόρως, ἐκάστῳ τῶν τεττάρων ὡς ἀρχὴν κατά τινας οἰκείους λόγους καὶ φυσικὰς συμπαθείας ἐνεχθέντες. καὶ γὰρ ἔχει τι τῶν μερῶν τούτων ἕκαστον ἐξαίρετον ἀφ᾿ οὗ ἂν ἀρχὴ καὶ νέον ἔτος εἰκότως νομίζοιτο·

Konstanin Gorbatov, “Fireworks in Venice”

Rejoicing at the Death of a Tyrant

Suetonius, Divus Tiberius 75

“The people were so happy about his death that some people went around shouting after its announcement, “Tiberius into the Tiber!” while others prayed to the Earth and the divine Shades to give him no place in death except with the damned.

Others still were threatened his body with a hook and the Mourning Stairs, angered over the memory of recent cruelty: for the senate had decreed a stay of ten days for all condemned to execution. But that day came about for some when the news of Tiberius’ death surfaced. Although they were pleading for public help since no one could be approached and appealed to oppose their punishments now that Gaius was gone, the jailors strangled them and threw them out on the Mourning Stairs anyway, afraid of acting against the law. So hatred for the tyrant only increased since his brutality remained even after his death.”

LXXV. Morte eius ita laetatus est populus, ut ad primum nuntium discurrentes pars: “Tiberium in Tiberim!” clamitarent, pars Terram matrem deosque Manes orarent, ne mortuo sedem ullam nisi inter impios darent, alii uncum et Gemonias cadaveri minarentur, exacerbati super memoriam pristinae crudelitatis etiam recenti atrocitate. Nam cum senatus consulto cautum esset, ut poena damnatorum in decimum semper diem differretur, forte accidit ut quorundam supplicii dies is esset, quo nuntiatum de Tiberio erat. Hos implorantis hominum fidem, quia absente adhuc Gaio nemo exstabat qui adiri interpellarique posset, custodes, ne quid adversus constitutum facerent, strangulaverunt abieceruntque in Gemonias. Crevit igitur invidia, quasi etiam post mortem tyranni saevitia permanente

December, Once a Month, but Now The Whole Year

Seneca the Younger, Moral Epistle 18

“December is the month and the city is especially sweaty. Permission is given to public excess. Everything echoes with overwhelming preparation as of there were some difference between the Saturnalia and business as usual! So there is no difference and is seems to me that the man wasn’t wrong who said that December was once a month but is now a year.”

December est mensis; cum maxime civitas sudat. Ius luxuriae publicae datum est. Ingenti apparatu sonant omnia, tamquam quicquam inter Saturnalia intersit et dies rerum agendarum. Adeo nihil interest, ut non videatur mihi errasse, qui dixit olim mensem Decembrem fuisse, nunc annum.

I was reminded of this passage when I walked into the grocery store yesterday and witness a Halloween candy display in mid-July.

 

20170725_131848

Felix Dies Natalis — Sententiae Antiquae: A Pu Pu Platter from our Infancy

 

This site and its twitter feed is three years old today.  We have passed from diapers (nappies in the UK!) and a liquid diet to full sentences and a different kind of liquid diet. Here are some quotations from our first few months.

 

The first post we ever put up:

 

Homer, Iliad 22.304-5

“May I not die without a fight and without glory but after doing something big for men to come to learn about”

μὴ μὰν ἀσπουδί γε καὶ ἀκλειῶς ἀπολοίμην,

ἀλλὰ μέγα ῥέξας τι καὶ ἐσσομένοισι πυθέσθαι.

 

A good one for Halloween:

Seneca, De clementia 1.1.6

“No one can wear a mask for very long; affectation soon returns to true nature”

nemo enim potest personam diu ferre, ficta cito in naturam suam recidunt

And this made an appearance again in our aggregation of Seneca quotes.

 

A reminder to carpere diem, but in Greek:

Semonides, Fragment 3

“We have ample time to be dead yet we live our few years badly”

πολλὸς γὰρ ἥμιν ἐστι τεθνάναι χρονος

ζῶμεν δ᾿ ἀριθμῷ παῦρα κακῶς ἔτεα

 

One of our many lines about friendship:

Sallust, Catilinae coniuratio 20.4

“Wanting the same thing and also not wanting the same thing: this, ultimately, is true friendship”

idem velle atque idem nolle, ea demum firma amicitia est

 

Proof that U2 plagiarizes:

Martial, Epigrams 12.46.2

“I can’t live with you or without you”

nec tecum possum vivere nec sine te

 

A necessary does of humility:

Heraclitus, Fragment 40

“Knowing much doesn’t teach you how to think.”

πολυμαθίη νόον ἔχειν οὐ διδάσκει.

 

Existential Angst:

Pindar, Pythian 8.95

“What is a person? What is not a person? Man is a dream of a shadow”

τί δέ τις; τί δ’ οὔ τις; σκιᾶς ὄναρ / ἄνθρωπος.

 

Pithy Rumsfeldian Response:

Tacitus, Agricola 30.4

 

“Every unknown is overblown”

omne ignotum pro magnifico est

 

Because we still don’t understand this:

Pisander, fr. 9 (Hesychius 683)

“You can’t reason with Centaurs”

νοῦς οὐ παρὰ Κενταύροισι

 

Because to err is human:

 

Cicero, Philippics 12.5

“All men make mistakes; but it is fools who persist in them”

cuiusvis hominis est errare; nullius nisi insipientis perseverare in errore

 

This is for Cicero and Seneca who came to unhappy ends:

Sophocles, Electra 1007-8

“Death isn’t the most hateful thing. Worse is when someone wants to die but cannot.”

οὐ γὰρ θανεῖν ἔχθιστον, ἀλλ᾽ ὅταν θανεῖν
χρῄζων τις εἶτα μηδὲ τοῦτ᾽ ἔχῃ λαβεῖν.

 

A rejected motto:

Ovid, Ars Amatoria 1.159

“Trivialities occupy fickle minds”

para leves capiunt animos

 

From a quotable but less well-known sage:

Publilius Syrus, Sententiae M.54

“A bad plan is one that can’t be changed”

malum est consilium quod mutari non potest

 

The eternal troll of anonymous wit:

 

CIL IV, 1904

“I am amazed, wall, that you have not fallen in ruins,
you who bear the weight of so many boring inscriptions.”

admiror, paries, te non cecidisse ruinis,
qui tot scriptorum taedia sustineas.

 

Something that may or may not be true about quotation:

Horace, Ars Poetica 309

“The origin and source of good writing is good judgment”.

scribendi recte sapere est et principium et fons.

 

As good a way to start as to end:

Parmenides, fr. 6.16

 

“The path of all things goes backwards.”

…πάντων δὲ παλίντροπός ἐστι κέλευθος.

 

Thanks to everyone who has read, commented and retweeted over the past three years!

Πόλλ’ ἀγαθὰ γένοιτό ὑμῖν!

Share this:

Like this:

Like Loading...
%d bloggers like this: