Four Years of Presidential Memories: Stop the Presses! The Character of an Oligarch

Theophrastus, Characters: Authoritarianism

1. Authoritarianism [oligarchy] would appear to be a certain lust for power that is greedy for strength and profit. An oligarch is the sort who:

2. When the people are debating who should be selected to assist leading a parade, steps right up and declares that absolute control is required. If others propose ten people to do a job, he declares that “one is enough, provided he is a real man”. He can recall only that one Homeric verse—“the rule of many is not good, there should be one ruler’—and he understands nothing of the rest.

3. Don’t miss out that he uses these kinds of statements: “We should get together and deliberate about this on our own and avoid the democrat mob and the assembly. Stop being insulted or honored by them when we hold public offices” or “They should run the state or we should.”

4. In the middle of the day he goes out finely dressed with his hair hanging at mid-length and his fingernails finely done, peacocking around, laying about with words like this:

5. “Thanks to all these whistleblowers, this country is unlivable!” “We are being treated the worst in the courts because of their corruption!” “I can’t imagine what these people pursuing politics even want!” “The people are completely ungrateful—all they want is a handout!” He says he is ashamed in the assembly whenever some skinny person sits next to him.”

Letter (2)
There may be a universe in which this is real

(1) δόξειεν δ᾿ ἂν εἶναι ἡ ὀλιγαρχία φιλαρχία τις ἰσχύος καὶ κέρδους γλιχομένη, ὁ δὲ ὀλιγαρχικὸς τοιοῦτος,

(2) οἷος τοῦ δήμου βουλευομένου, τίνας τῷ ἄρχοντι προσαιρήσονταιτῆς πομπῆς τοὺς συνεπιμελησομένους, παρελθὼν ἀποφήνασθαι ὡς δεῖ αὐτοκράτορας τούτους εἶναι, κἂν ἄλλοι προβάλλωνται δέκα, λέγειν “ἱκανὸς εἷς ἐστι, τοῦτον δὲ” ὅτι “δεῖ ἄνδρα εἶναι·” καὶ τῶν Ὁμήρου ἐπῶν τοῦτο ἓν μόνον κατέχειν, ὅτι “οὐκ ἀγαθὸν πολυκοιρανίη, εἷς κοίρανος ἔστω,” τῶν δὲ ἄλλων μηδὲν ἐπίστασθαι·

(3) ἀμέλει δὲ δεινὸς τοῖς τοιούτοις τῶν λόγων χρήσασθαι, ὅτι “δεῖ αὐτοὺς ἡμᾶς συνελθόντας περὶ τούτων βουλεύσασθαι, καὶ ἐκ τοῦ ὄχλου καὶ τῆς ἀγορᾶς ἀπαλλαγῆναι, καὶ παύσασθαι ἀρχαῖς πλησιάζοντας καὶ ὑπὸ τούτων οὕτως ὑβριζομένους ἢ τιμωμένους,” <καὶ> ὅτι “ἢ τούτους δεῖ ἢ ἡμᾶς οἰκεῖν τὴν πόλιν.”

(4) καὶ τὸ μέσον δὲ τῆς ἡμέρας ἐξιὼν καὶ τὸ ἱμάτιον ἀναβεβλημένος καὶ μέσην κουρὰν κεκαρμένος καὶ ἀκριβῶς ἀπωνυχισμένος σοβεῖν τοὺς τοιούτους λόγους τραγῳδῶν·

(5) “διὰ τοὺς συκοφάντας οὐκ οἰκητόν ἐστιν ἐν τῇ πόλει,” καὶ ὡς “ἐν τοῖς δικαστηρίοις δεινὰ πάσχομεν ὑπὸ τῶν δεκαζομένων,” καὶ ὡς “θαυμάζω τῶν πρὸς τὰ κοινὰ προσιόντων τί βούλονται,” καὶ ὡς “ἀχάριστόν ἐστι <τὸ πλῆθος καὶ ἀεὶ>τοῦ νέμοντος καὶ διδόντος,” καὶ ὡς αἰσχύνεται ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ, ὅταν παρακάθηταί τις αὐτῷ λεπτὸς

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Are You Awkward Or Do You Just Have Bad Taste?

Theophrastus, Characters: Bad Taste

“Bad taste, to give a simple definition, is a kind of action which causes grief but not harm. A person with bad taste is the kind…

Who barges in and wakes someone who is sleeping just to chat;

Or who slows people down when they are about to leave;

Or he demands someone waits before they take a walk

Or, when he takes a baby from his nurse, chews his food himself, coos and makes baby-sounds, saying, “you’re more wicked than your father”

Or, while he eats, relates that he’s all cleaned out inside because he drank some hellebore and that his bile was darker than the food on their plates.

Or he is likely to ask in front of the whole household, “Tell me, momma, what day was it when you went into labor and had me?

Or, he talks about how sweet she is and complains that it is not easy to find someone to have both of them.

Or, he has a cold water cistern in his home and a garden with many vegetables, and he has a cook who prepares dishes and his house is like a hotel, since it is always full and his friends are like a vase full of holes since he is never able to fill them even trying hard.

When he is entertaining he demonstrates to his guest what kind of a person his toady is. Over drinks he challenges him by saying, “The pleasure has been prepared for the guests” and then, when they ask, “The servant will go and get her now from the pimp so she can play the flute until we’re happy.”

(1) ἔστι δὲ ἡ ἀηδία, ὡς ὅρῳ περιλαβεῖν, ἔντευξις λύπης ποιητικὴ ἄνευ βλάβης, ὁ δὲ ἀηδὴς τοιοῦτός τις,
(2) οἷος ἐγείρειν ἄρτι καθεύδοντα εἰσελθών, ἵνα αὐτῷ λαλῇ.
(3) καὶ ἀνάγεσθαι δὴ μέλλοντας κωλύειν,
(4) καὶ προσελθὼν δεῖσθαι ἐπισχεῖν, ἕως ἂν περιπατήσῃ.
(5) καὶ τὸ παιδίον τῆς τίτθης ἀφελόμενος, μασώμενος σιτίζειν αὐτὸς καὶ ὑποκορίζεσθαι ποππύζων καὶ πανουργότερον τοῦ πάππου καλῶν.
(6) καὶ ἐσθίων δὲ ἅμα διηγεῖσθαι ὡς ἐλλέβορον πιὼν ἄνω καὶ κάτω καθαρθείη καὶ ζωμοῦ τοῦ παρακειμένου ἐν τοῖς ὑποχωρήμασιν αὑτῷ μελαντέρα <εἴη> ἡ χολή.
(7) καὶ ἐρωτῆσαι δὲ δεινὸς ἐναντίον τῶν οἰκείων· “εἴπ᾿, ὦ μάμμη, ὅτ᾿ ὤδινες καὶ ἔτικτές με, τίς ἡμέρα;”
(8) †καὶ ὑπὲρ αὐτῆς δὲ λέγειν ὡς ἡδύ ἐστι, καὶ ἀμφότερα δὲ οὐκ ἔχοντα οὐ ῥᾴδιον ἄνθρωπον λαβεῖν,†
(9) καὶ ὅτι ψυχρὸν ὕδωρ ἐστὶ παρ᾿ αὐτῷ λακκαῖον, καὶ ὡς κῆπος λάχανα πολλὰ ἔχων καὶ ἁπαλὰ [ὥστε εἶναι ψυχρὸν] καὶ μάγειρος εὖ τὸ ὄψον σκευάζων, καὶ ὅτι ἡ οἰκία αὐτοῦ πανδοκεῖόν ἐστι· μεστὴ γὰρ ἀεί· καὶ τοὺς φίλους αὐτοῦ εἶναι τὸν τετρημένον πίθον· εὖ ποιῶν γὰρ αὐτοὺς οὐ δύνασθαι ἐμπλῆσαι.

(10) καὶ ξενίζων δὲ δεῖξαι τὸν παράσιτον αὑτοῦ ποῖός τίς ἐστι τῷ συνδειπνοῦντι· καὶ παρακαλῶν δὲ ἐπὶ τοῦ ποτηρίου εἰπεῖν, ὅτι “τὸ τέρψον τοὺς παρόντας παρεσκεύασται,” καὶ ὅτι “αὐτήν,” ἐὰν κελεύσωσιν, “ὁ παῖς μέτεισι παρὰ τοῦ πορνοβοσκοῦ ἤδη, ὅπως πάντες ὑπ᾿ αὐτῆς αὐλώμεθα καὶ εὐφραινώμεθα.”

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If you don’t know Peter Jackson’s Meet the Feebles, well, you’re probably just fine. But, still.

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Absentmindedness is…uh, What?

I lose my campus ID every 6 months or so; each morning, finding my keys is a wild adventure even though they are almost always in the same place…

Theophrastus, Characters: Absentmindedness

“To give it a definition, absent-mindedness, is a slowness of mind in speech and actions. An absent-minded person is the kind of person who:

Even after making a calculation with counters and coming to a sum asks the person sitting next to him, “What’s this”?

If he is called to court and meant to go, forgets and goes to the country;

If he is watching something at the theater, he is left alone when he falls a sleep;

When he eats too much he gets up at night for the bathroom and is bitten by the neighbor’s dog.

When he gets something and puts it away, is not able to find it when he looks for it;

When he learns that one of his friends has died and he should attend the funeral, he frowns and cries but says “it’s for the best”

When he gets money paid back to him he is sure to ask for proof of receipt.

He fights with his slave because he didn’t buy cucumbers even though it is winter.

He makes his children practice wrestling and running until they are exhausted.

When he is cooking bean soup in the country, he salts the pan twice, ruining the food.”

(1) ἔστι δὲ ἡ ἀναισθησία, ὡς ὅρῳ εἰπεῖν, βραδυτὴς ψυχῆς ἐν λόγοις καὶ πράξεσιν, ὁ δὲ ἀναίσθητος τοιοῦτός τις,

(2) οἷος λογισάμενος ταῖς ψήφοις καὶ κεφάλαιον ποιήσας ἐρωτᾶν τὸν παρακαθήμενον· “τί γίνεται;”

(3) καὶ δίκην φεύγων καὶ ταύτην εἰσιέναι μέλλων ἐπιλαθόμενος εἰς ἀγρὸν πορεύεσθαι.

(4) καὶ θεωρῶν ἐν τῷ θεάτρῳ μόνος καταλείπεσθαι καθεύδων.

(5) καὶ πολλὰ φαγὼν καὶ τῆς νυκτὸς ἐπὶ θάκου ἀνιστάμενος ὑπὸ κυνὸς τῆς τοῦ γείτονος δηχθῆναι.

(6) καὶ λαβών <τι> καὶ ἀποθεὶς αὐτός, τοῦτο ζητεῖν καὶ μὴ δύνασθαι εὑρεῖν.

(7) καὶ ἀπαγγέλλοντος αὐτῷ ὅτι τετελεύτηκέ τις αὐτοῦ τῶν φίλων, ἵνα παραγένηται, σκυθρωπάσας καὶ δακρύσας εἰπεῖν· “ἀγαθῇ τύχῃ.”

(8) δεινὸς δὲ καὶ ἀπολαμβάνων ἀργύριον ὀφειλόμενον μάρτυρας παραλαβεῖν.

(9) καὶ χειμῶνος ὄντος μάχεσθαι τῷ παιδὶ ὅτι σικύους οὐκ ἠγόρασεν.

(10) καὶ τὰ παιδία ἑαυτοῦ παλαίειν ἀναγκάζων καὶ τροχάζειν εἰς κόπον ἐμβάλλειν.

(11) καὶ ἐν ἀγρῷ αὐτὸς φακῆν ἕψων δὶς ἅλας εἰς τὴν χύτραν ἐμβαλὼν ἄβρωτον ποιῆσαι..

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Forgetful Jones, a Muppet you have likely forgotten.

 

How To Recognize a Grouch

Theophrastus, Characters: Grouchiness 

“Grouchiness is harshness in social interactions. The grouch is the kind of person who:

When asked, “where is this person?” responds, “Don’t interrupt me.”

Or he does not answer when someone addresses him

Or if he is selling something does not tell people who want to buy it how much it costs but asks instead, “what will it get?”

To those who honor him and send him something on holidays, he says that there won’t be anything in return.

He won’t forgive when someone spills something on them or bumps into him or steps on his foot.

Or, once he has refused to give a loan to a friend asking for one, returns later bringing the funds and saying that he’s wasting this money too.

Or he curses the paving stone when he trips in the street

Or he refuses to wait for anyone very long.

Or he never is willing to sing or recite a speech or dance.

He tends not to pray, even to the gods.”

(1) ἡ δὲ αὐθάδειά ἐστιν ἀπήνεια ὁμιλίας ἐν λόγοις, ὁ δὲ αὐθάδης τοιοῦτός τις,

(2) οἷος ἐρωτηθείς· “ὁ δεῖνα ποῦ ἐστιν;” εἰπεῖν· “πράγματά μοι μὴ πάρεχε.”

(3) καὶ προσαγορευθεὶς μὴ ἀντιπροσειπεῖν.

(4) καὶ πωλῶν τι μὴ λέγειν τοῖς ὠνουμένοις πόσου ἂν ἀποδοῖτο, ἀλλ᾿ ἐρωτᾶν “τί εὑρίσκει;”

(5) καὶ τοῖς τιμῶσι καὶ πέμπουσιν εἰς τὰς ἑορτὰς εἰπεῖν, ὅτι οὐκ ἂν γένοιτο διδόμενα.
(6) καὶ οὐκ ἔχειν συγγνώμην οὔτε τῷ ῥυπώσαντι αὐτὸν ἀκουσίως οὔτε τῷ ὤσαντι οὔτε τῷ ἐμβάντι.

(7) καὶ φίλῳ δὲ ἔρανον κελεύσαντι εἰσενεγκεῖν εἰπών, ὅτι οὐκ ἂν δοίη, ὕστερον ἥκειν φέρων καὶ λέγειν, ὅτι ἀπόλλυσι καὶ τοῦτο τὸ ἀργύριον.

(8) καὶ προσπταίσας ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ δεινὸς καταράσασθαι τῷ λίθῳ.

(9) καὶ [ἀναμεῖναι] οὐκ ἂν ὑπομείναι πολὺν χρόνον οὐθένα.

(10) καὶ οὔτε ᾆσαι οὔτε ῥῆσιν εἰπεῖν οὔτε ὀρχήσασθαι ἂν ἐθελήσειεν·4

(11) δεινὸς δὲ καὶ τοῖς θεοῖς μὴ ἐπεύχεσθαι.

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Signs that Someone’s A Fraud

Theophrastus, Characters: Fraudulence

“Fraudulence will seem to be a certain pretending about goods which don’t exist. The fraudster is the kind of person who

Stands near the pier telling strangers how much of his money is on the sea. He also talks at great length about his money lending work, how much he has earned and how much he has lost. At the very same time that he amplifies these, he sends his slave to the bank where he has a drachma on credit.

While talking cleverly on a trip he tricks his travel companion about how he went on campaign with Alexander and how he liked him, and how many jewel-encrusted cups he got and debating about how much better the craftsmen in Asia are than those in Europe. And he says these things even though he has never left the town.

He says he has received three or so letters from Antipater asking him to visit Macedonia and that he has denied to grant him the export of timber without tax because he does not want to be tricked by any apple-polisher. Since “It’s right for the Macedonians to be a lot wiser than that”.

He’ll also tell you that during a food shortage he lost more than five talents from giving to poor citizens, because he just can’t say no.

When people who are unknown sit next to him, he asks them to move the stones for him and as they do the addition by the thousand columns down to the one and make it to ten talents and explains that that’s how much he has out on loan to friends, without counting the warships and the public festivals he has been paying for.

He approaches the best horses and pretends to the sales people that he is going to buy them.

He goes to the tailor and picks out clothing for nearly two talents and then argues with his slave because he followed him without bringing any gold.

When he is inhabiting a rented house he says that it is his father’s family home to someone he does not know and that he is going to sell it because it is too small for having parties.”

(1) ἀμέλει δὲ ἡ ἀλαζονεία δόξει εἶναι προσποίησίς τις ἀγαθῶν οὐκ ὄντων, ὁ δὲ ἀλαζὼν τοιοῦτός τις,

(2) οἷος ἐν τῷ διαζεύγματι ἑστηκὼς διηγεῖσθαι ξένοις ὡς πολλὰ χρήματα αὐτῷ ἐστιν ἐν τῇ θαλάττῃ· καὶ περὶ τῆς ἐργασίας τῆς δανειστικῆς διεξιέναι ἡλίκη, καὶ αὐτὸς ὅσα εἴληφε καὶ ἀπολώλεκε· καὶ ἅμα ταῦτα πλεθρίζων πέμπειν τὸ παιδάριον εἰς τὴν τράπεζαν, δραχμῆς αὐτῷ κειμένης.

(3) καὶ συνοδοιπόρου δὲ ἀπολαῦσαι ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ δεινὸς λέγων, ὡς μετ᾿Ἀλεξάνδρου ἐστρατεύσατο, καὶ ὡς αὐτῷ εἶχε, καὶ ὅσα λιθοκόλλητα ποτήρια ἐκόμισε· καὶ περὶ τῶν τεχνιτῶν τῶν ἐν τῇ Ἀσίᾳ ὅτι βελτίους εἰσὶ τῶν ἐν τῇ Εὐρώπῃ ἀμφισβητῆσαι· καὶ ταῦτα φῆσαι, οὐδαμοῦ ἐκ τῆς πόλεως ἀποδεδημηκώς.

(4) καὶ γράμματα δὲ εἰπεῖν ὡς πάρεστι παρ᾿ Ἀντιπάτρου τριττὰ δὴ λέγοντα παραγενέσθαι αὐτὸν εἰς Μακεδονίαν· καὶ διδομένης αὐτῷ ἐξαγωγῆς ξύλων ἀτελοῦς ὅτι ἀπείρηται, ὅπως μηδ᾿ ὑφ᾿ ἑνὸς συκοφαντηθῇ, “περαιτέρω φιλοσοφεῖν προσῆκε τοῖς Μακεδόσι·”

(5) καὶ ἐν τῇ σιτοδείᾳ δὲ ὡς πλείω ἢ πέντε τάλαντα αὑτῷ γένοιτο τὰ ἀναλώματα διδόντι τοῖς ἀπόροις τῶν πολιτῶν, ἀνανεύειν γὰρ οὐ δύνασθαι.

(6) καὶ ἀγνώτων δὲ παρακαθημένων κελεῦσαι θεῖναι τὰς ψήφους ἕνα αὐτῶν καὶ ποσῶν κατὰ χιλιάδας καὶ κατὰ μίαν καὶ προστιθεὶς πιθανῶς ἑκάστοις τούτων ὀνόματα ποιῆσαι καὶ δέκα τάλαντα· καὶ τοῦτο φῆσαι εἰσενηνέχθαι εἰς ἐράνους αὑτῷ καὶ τὰς τριηραρχίας εἰπεῖν ὅτι οὐ τίθησιν οὐδὲ τὰς λειτουργίας ὅσας λελειτούργηκε.

(7) καὶ προσελθὼν δ᾿ εἰς τοὺς ἵππους τοὺς ἀγαθοὺς τοῖς πωλοῦσι προσποιήσασθαι ὠνητιᾶν.

(8) καὶ ἐπὶ τὰς κλίνας ἐλθὼν ἱματισμὸν ζητῆσαι εἰς δύο τάλαντα καὶ τῷ παιδὶ μάχεσθαι, ὅτι τὸ χρυσίον οὐκ ἔχων αὐτῷ ἀκολουθεῖ.

(9) καὶ ἐν μισθωτῇ οἰκίᾳ οἰκῶν φῆσαι ταύτην εἶναι τὴν πατρῴαν πρὸς τὸν μὴ εἰδότα, καὶ διότι μέλλει πωλεῖν αὐτὴν διὰ τὸ ἐλάττω εἶναι αὐτῷ πρὸς τὰς ξενοδοχίας.

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Ulysses at the court of Alcinous by Francesco Hayez

Stop the Presses! The Character of an Oligarch

Theophrastus, Characters: Authoritarianism

1. Authoritarianism [oligarchy] would appear to be a certain lust for power that is greedy for power and profit. An oligarch is the sort who:

2. When the people are debating who should be selected to assist leading a parade, steps right up and declares that absolute control is required. If others propose ten people to do a job, he declares that “one is enough, provided he is a real man”. He can recall only that one Homeric verse—“the rule of many is not good, there should be one ruler’—and he understands nothing of the rest.

3. Don’t miss out that he uses these kinds of statements: “We should get together and deliberate about this on our own and avoid the democrat mob and the assembly. Stop being insulted or honored by them when we hold public offices” or “They should run the state or we should.”

4. In the middle of the day he goes out finely dressed with his hair hanging at mid-length and his fingernails finely done, peacocking around, laying about with words like this:

5. “Thanks to all these whistleblowers, this country is unlivable!” “We are being treated the worst in the courts because of their corruption!” “I can’t imagine what these people pursuing politics even want!” “The people are completely ungrateful—all they want is a handout!” He says he is ashamed in the assembly whenever some skinny person sits next to him.”

Letter (2)
There may be a universe in which this is real

(1) δόξειεν δ᾿ ἂν εἶναι ἡ ὀλιγαρχία φιλαρχία τις ἰσχύος καὶ κέρδους γλιχομένη, ὁ δὲ ὀλιγαρχικὸς τοιοῦτος,

(2) οἷος τοῦ δήμου βουλευομένου, τίνας τῷ ἄρχοντι προσαιρήσονταιτῆς πομπῆς τοὺς συνεπιμελησομένους, παρελθὼν ἀποφήνασθαι ὡς δεῖ αὐτοκράτορας τούτους εἶναι, κἂν ἄλλοι προβάλλωνται δέκα, λέγειν “ἱκανὸς εἷς ἐστι, τοῦτον δὲ” ὅτι “δεῖ ἄνδρα εἶναι·” καὶ τῶν Ὁμήρου ἐπῶν τοῦτο ἓν μόνον κατέχειν, ὅτι “οὐκ ἀγαθὸν πολυκοιρανίη, εἷς κοίρανος ἔστω,” τῶν δὲ ἄλλων μηδὲν ἐπίστασθαι·

(3) ἀμέλει δὲ δεινὸς τοῖς τοιούτοις τῶν λόγων χρήσασθαι, ὅτι “δεῖ αὐτοὺς ἡμᾶς συνελθόντας περὶ τούτων βουλεύσασθαι, καὶ ἐκ τοῦ ὄχλου καὶ τῆς ἀγορᾶς ἀπαλλαγῆναι, καὶ παύσασθαι ἀρχαῖς πλησιάζοντας καὶ ὑπὸ τούτων οὕτως ὑβριζομένους ἢ τιμωμένους,” <καὶ> ὅτι “ἢ τούτους δεῖ ἢ ἡμᾶς οἰκεῖν τὴν πόλιν.”

(4) καὶ τὸ μέσον δὲ τῆς ἡμέρας ἐξιὼν καὶ τὸ ἱμάτιον ἀναβεβλημένος καὶ μέσην κουρὰν κεκαρμένος καὶ ἀκριβῶς ἀπωνυχισμένος σοβεῖν τοὺς τοιούτους λόγους τραγῳδῶν·

(5) “διὰ τοὺς συκοφάντας οὐκ οἰκητόν ἐστιν ἐν τῇ πόλει,” καὶ ὡς “ἐν τοῖς δικαστηρίοις δεινὰ πάσχομεν ὑπὸ τῶν δεκαζομένων,” καὶ ὡς “θαυμάζω τῶν πρὸς τὰ κοινὰ προσιόντων τί βούλονται,” καὶ ὡς “ἀχάριστόν ἐστι <τὸ πλῆθος καὶ ἀεὶ>τοῦ νέμοντος καὶ διδόντος,” καὶ ὡς αἰσχύνεται ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ, ὅταν παρακάθηταί τις αὐτῷ λεπτὸς

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