I Did The Silly Thing You Told Me To Do

Pliny, Letters 1.1

To my friend Septicius Clarus, from your buddy Pliny:

You have often encouraged me to gather and publish any of my letters which I wrote with a little effort. I have done this, but without keeping them in chronological sequence but as they arrive to me, since I am not assembling a history. Now all we have left is for me not to regret taking your advice and you forgiving that I followed it! Here’s the way it will go: I will keep looking for letters that lie neglected still and will not hide any I add to them!

Goodbye!

    1. Plinius Septicio <Claro> Suo S.

Frequenter hortatus es ut epistulas, si quas paulo curatius scripsissem, colligerem publicaremque. Collegi non servato temporis ordine (neque enim historiam componebam), sed ut quaeque in manus venerat. Superest ut nec te consilii nec me paeniteat obsequii. Ita enim fiet, ut eas quae adhuc neglectae iacent requiram et si quas addidero non supprimam. Vale.

Image result for do you like my party hat
From your buddy, P.D. Eastman

Our Own Worst Enemy

Sayings from the Gnomologium Vaticanum

7 “When Antisthenes was asked by someone what he should teach his child, he said “If you want him to live with the gods, philosophy; but if you wish him to live among men, then rhetoric.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς ὑπό τινος, τί· τὸν υἱὸν διδάξει, εἶπεν· „εἰ μὲν θεοῖς αὐτὸν συμβιοῦν ἐθέλοις, φιλόσοφον· εἰ δὲ ἀνθρώποις, ῥήτορα”.

12“Antisthenes used to say that virtue had a short justification while the argument for wickedness was endless.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἔφη τὴν ἀρετὴν βραχύλογον εἶναι, τὴν δὲ κακίαν ἀπέραντον.

13 “When Plato was chattering on at length about something, Antisthenes said “the one who speaks is not the measure of his audience—it is the audience who makes a limit for the speaker!”

῾Ο αὐτὸς Πλάτωνός ποτε ἐν τῇ σχολῇ μακρολογήσαντος εἶπεν·„οὐχ ὁ λέγων μέτρον ἐστὶ τοῦ ἀκούοντος, ἀλλ’ ὁ ἀκούων τοῦ λέγοντος.”

14 “Anacharsis used to say that the Greeks really messed things up because their craftsmen compete and the ignorant judge them.”

᾿Ανάχαρσις ἔφη τοὺς ῞Ελληνας ἁμαρτάνειν, ὅτι παρ’ αὐτοῖς οἱ μὲν τεχνῖται ἀγωνίζονται, οἱ δ’ ἀμαθεῖς κρίνουσιν.

18 “When Anacharsis was asked by someone what was humanity’s enemy, he said “themselves”.

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς ὑπό τινος, τί ἐστι πολέμιον ἀνθρώποις, εἶπεν· „αὐτοὶ ἑαυτοῖς”.

19 “When Anacharsis was asked by someone why jealous people are always aggrieved he said “because their own troubles are not the only thing biting them: other people’s good fortune bothers them too.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς ὑπό τινος, διὰ τί οἱ φθονεροὶ ἄνθρωποι ἀεὶ λυποῦνται, ἔφη· „ὅτι οὐ μόνον τὰ ἑαυτῶν αὐτοὺς κακὰ δάκνει, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰ τῶν πέλας ἀγαθὰ λυπεῖ”.

Harmodius and Aristogeiton: Relief

Four Proverbs for Fools

Go here for more information about Ancient Greek collections of proverbs.

Arsenius, 5.29b

“A fool laughs even when nothing is funny.”

Γελᾷ δ’ ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ.

 

Michael Apostolios 3.87

“You are considering ancient history.” A proverb applied to fools and simpletons.

᾿Αρχαϊκὰ φρονεῖς: ἐπὶ τῶν μωρῶν καὶ εὐηθῶν.

 

Michaelos Apostolios 11.92

“A fool can’t keep quiet”

Μωρὸς σιωπᾷν οὐ δύναται.

11.93

“He will blame instead of imitate”: a proverb applied to the uneducable and because it is easier to criticize than emulate.”

Μωμήσεται μᾶλλον ἢ μιμήσεται: ἐπὶ τῶν ἀπαιδεύτων, καὶ ὅτι τὸ ψέγειν τοῦ μιμεῖσθαι ῥᾳότερον.

 

Roman comments on fools.

Also: μωρολογία: properly, “stupid-talking” or “the talk of fools”. But why not: “the science of stupidity”?

Related image
Miniature from the Bute Psalter; c. 1270-80

A bonus anecdote for this evening;

Stobaeus 3.34.15

“Solon, after he was asked by Periander over drink—when the former happened to be quiet—whether he was silent because of a loss of words or foolishness, said “No fool could ever be quiet at a drinking party.”

Σόλων ἐρωτηθεὶς ὑπὸ Περιάνδρου παρὰ πότον, ἐπεὶ σιωπῶν ἐτύγχανε, πότερα διὰ λόγων σπάνιν ἢ διὰ μωρίαν σιωπᾷ, ‘ἀλλ’ οὐδεὶς ἄν’ εἶπε ‘μωρὸς σιωπᾶν ἐν συμποσίῳ δύναιτο’.

Happy Monday! Some Proverbs for Bad Things

Arsenius 3.64c

“All these evils are the responsibility of nature.”

ἅπαντα ταῦτ’ ἐπίθετα τῇ φύσει κακά

 

Appendix Proverbium 2.22

“You’re burning incense over bullshit”: a proverb for those who are trying to change evil things”

Εἰς κόπρον θυμιᾷς: ἐπὶ τῶν τὰ κακὰ μεταβαλεῖν ἐπιχειρούντων.

 

Arsenius 7.7a

“People suffer less because of their enemies than their friends. For they guard against their enemies because they fear them while they remain open to their friends. They too are slippery and likely to conspire.”

᾿Ελάσσω κακὰ πάσχουσιν οἱ ἄνθρωποι ὑπὸ τῶν ἐχθρῶν ἢ ὑπὸ τῶν φίλων· τοὺς μὲν γὰρ ἐχθροὺς δεδιότες φυλάσσονται, τοῖς δὲ φίλοις ἀνεῳγμένοι εἰσί. καὶ γίνονται σφαλεροὶ καὶ εὐεπιβούλευτοι

 

Zenobius 4.43

“An Iliad of Evils”: this proverb is uses for great evils. This is because there were myriad evils in Ilium”

᾿Ιλιὰς κακῶν: ἀπὸ παροιμίας τοῦτο ἐλέγετο ἐπὶ τῶν μεγάλων κακῶν· παρόσον ἐν ᾿Ιλίῳ μυρία κακὰ συνέβη γενέσθαι.

Image result for medieval manuscript evils
Mouth of Hell: MS Tanner 184

Four Proverbs for Fools

Go here for more information about Ancient Greek collections of proverbs.

Arsenius, 5.29b

“A fool laughs even when nothing is funny.”

Γελᾷ δ’ ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ.

 

Michael Apostolios 3.87

“You are considering ancient history.” A proverb applied to fools and simpletons.

᾿Αρχαϊκὰ φρονεῖς: ἐπὶ τῶν μωρῶν καὶ εὐηθῶν.

 

Michaelos Apostolios 11.92

“A fool can’t keep quiet”

Μωρὸς σιωπᾷν οὐ δύναται.

11.93

“He will blame instead of imitate”: a proverb applied to the uneducable and because it is easier to criticize than emulate.”

Μωμήσεται μᾶλλον ἢ μιμήσεται: ἐπὶ τῶν ἀπαιδεύτων, καὶ ὅτι τὸ ψέγειν τοῦ μιμεῖσθαι ῥᾳότερον.

 

Roman comments on fools.

Also: μωρολογία: properly, “stupid-talking” or “the talk of fools”. But why not: “the science of stupidity”?

Related image
Miniature from the Bute Psalter; c. 1270-80

A bonus anecdote for this evening;

Stobaeus 3.34.15

“Solon, after he was asked by Periander over drink—when the former happened to be quiet—whether he was silent because of a loss of words or foolishness, said “No fool could ever be quiet at a drinking party.”

Σόλων ἐρωτηθεὶς ὑπὸ Περιάνδρου παρὰ πότον, ἐπεὶ σιωπῶν ἐτύγχανε, πότερα διὰ λόγων σπάνιν ἢ διὰ μωρίαν σιωπᾷ, ‘ἀλλ’ οὐδεὶς ἄν’ εἶπε ‘μωρὸς σιωπᾶν ἐν συμποσίῳ δύναιτο’.

Out of the Smoke, Into the Fire: Some More Greek Proverbs

This week lots of people are graduating. Here are some proverbs for life changes and mistakes.

Diogenianus, 8.45

“When I fled the smoke, I fell into the fire”:  [this proverb is applied] to those who flee rather minor troubles only to fall upon greater ones.

Τὸν καπνὸν φεύγων, εἰς τὸ πῦρ ἐνέπεσον: ἐπὶ τῶν τὰ μικρὰ τῶν δεινῶν φευγόντων, καὶ εἰς μείζονα δεινὰ ἐμπιπτόντων.

 

Arsenius 4.23f

“It is strange that one who pursues honors avoids the hard work honors come from”

῎Ατοπόν ἐστι διώκοντα τὰς τιμὰς φεύγειν τοὺς πόνους, δι’ ὧν αἱ τιμαί.

 

Michael Apostolios, 11.15

“You ate some lotus”: [this proverb is applied to those] who are forgetful of things in the household and are slow in matters of hospitality. It is based on the lotus which imbues one who eats it with forgetfulness.”

Λωτοῦ ἔφαγες: ἐπὶ τῶν σχόντων λήθην τῶν οἴκοι, καὶ βραδυνόντων ἐπὶ ξένης. ἔστι δὲ πόα τὸ λωτὸν, λήθην ἐμποιοῦν τῷ φαγόντι.

 

Arsenius 3.19a

“The man who flees will also fight again”: [this proverb is applied] to those who face a doubtful victory.

᾿Ανὴρ ὁ φεύγων καὶ πάλιν μαχήσεται: ἐπὶ τῶν ἑτεραλκεῖ νίκῃ χρωμένων ταχθείη.

 

Michael Apostolios 1.26

“Agamemnon’s sacrifice”: [a proverb] applied to the difficult to persuade and the stubborn. For when Agamemnon was making a sacrifice, the bull was scarcely caught after it fled.” Or, it is because Agamemnon wanted to sacrifice his daughter. And she fled.”

᾿Αγαμέμνονος θυσία: ἐπὶ τῶν δυσπειθῶν καὶ σκληρῶν. θύοντος γὰρ ᾿Αγαμέμνονος ὁ βοῦς φυγὼν μόλις ἐλήφθη. ῍Η ὅτι τὴν ἑαυτοῦ ἐβούλετο ᾿Αγαμέμνων θυσιάσαι θυγατέρα· ἣ δ’ ἔφυγε.

Image result for medieval manuscript frying pan
Illuminated Manuscript – The Hague, KB, 76 F 13, f. 12v, XIV cent., France

Master of Pleasure and Master of Pain: Three Anecdotes about Sophokles and Euripides

These are from the Gnomologium Vaticanum

404

“When Menander was asked what the difference was between Sophokles and Euripides he said that Sophokles makes people feel pleasure while Euripides makes his audience feel anger.”

Μένανδρος ἐρωτηθεὶς τί διαφέρουσιν ἀλλήλων Σοφοκλῆς καὶ Εὐριπίδης εἶπεν ὅτι Σοφοκλῆς μὲν τέρπεσθαι ποιεῖ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους, Εὐριπίδης δὲ σκυθρωπάζειν τοὺς ἀκροατάς.

 

518

“Sophokles the tragic poet, after he heard that Euripides died in Macedonia, said “The whetstone of my poems is gone.”

Σοφοκλῆς, ὁ τῶν τραγῳδιῶν ποιητής, ἀκούσας Εὐριπίδην ἐν Μακεδονίᾳ τεθνηκέναι εἶπεν· „ἀπώλετο ἡ τῶν ἐμῶν ποιημάτων ἀκόνη.”

 

519

“When he was asked why he made people with noble characters and Euripides made those of base ones, Sophokles answered “Because I make people how they should be and he makes people as they are.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς διὰ τί αὐτὸς μὲν ποιεῖ τὰ ἤθη τῶν ἀνθρώπων χρηστά, Εὐριπίδης δὲ φαῦλα „ὅτι” ἔφη „ἐγὼ μέν, οἵους ἔδει εἶναι, τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ποιῶ, ἐκεῖνος δέ, ὁποῖοί εἰσιν.”

Image result for Sophocles and euripides

Peleus’ Knife, A Proverb

Appendix Prov.

“Peleus’ knife” The knife was a prize of prudence which was given to Peleus—it was made by Hephaistos.”

Πηλέως μάχαιρα: σωφροσύνης γέρας ἡ μάχαιρα τῷ Πηλεῖ δέδοται, ῾Ηφαιστότευκτος οὖσα.

“Peleus’ knife”: this is a proverb. Aristophanes also records this: “he thinks more of himself than Peleus did with the knife”. It seems that this thing which Peleus took was a Hephaistos-made gift of prudence.”

Πηλέως μάχαιρα: παροιμία: ταύτην ἀναγράφει καὶ Ἀριστοφάνης οὕτως: μέγα φρονεῖ μᾶλλον ἢ Πηλεὺς ἐπὶ τῇ μαχαίρᾳ. ἣ ἐδόκει σωφροσύνης γέρας ἡφαιστότευκτος, ἣν εἰλήφει μάχαιραν ὁ Πηλεύς.

Photios

“Peleus’ knife. Aristophanes also records this: “he thinks more of himself than Peleus did with the knife”. It seems that this thing which Peleus took was a Hephaistos-made gift of prudence.

This proverb is used for rare and extremely honored possessions. For they say that Peleus received a sword from the gods because of his surplus of prudence. It was made by Hephaistos.”

Πηλέως μάχαιρα: παροιμία· ταύτην ἀναγράφει καὶ ᾿Αριστοφάνης οὕτως· μέγα φρονεῖ μᾶλλον ἢ Πηλεὺς ἐν τηῖ μαχαίρηι· ἐδόκει σωφροσύνης γέρας ῾Ηφαιστότευκτος ἣν εἰλήφει μάχαιραν ὁ Πηλεύς· λαμβάνεται δὲ ἐπὶ τῶν σπανίων καὶ τιμιωτάτων κτημάτων· διὰ γὰρ σωφροσύνης ὑπερβολὴν παρὰ θεῶν λαβεῖν φασὶ τὸν Πηλέα ξίφος, ῾Ηφαίστου κατασκευάσαντος.

A bronze age sword

Some Miraculous Misogyny From the Ancient World

The following passages are from the Paradoxographus Vaticanus (Admiranda), one of a selection of ancient paradoxographical collections which are not widely available in translation. I have been working on completing full rough translations of the paradoxa this summer. The Florentinus  and Palatinus manuscripts are now translated as are the Historiae Mirabiles of Apollonios Paradoxographus.

Of the collections, the Vaticanus is the most interesting and strange. Here are a few sections that jumped out while I translated them today.

15 “In a certain part of the region before Olympos there are trees similar to a tender-leafed willow which people say were once virgins. They changed into these trees when they were fleeing Boreas who was lusting after them. Even to this day, if someone touches the leaves, people claim that the wind gets enraged and immediately blows with a fury and barely stops before the third day”

῎Εν τινι τῶν κατὰ τὸν ῎Ολυμπον δένδρα ἐστὶν ἰτέᾳ λεπτοφύλλῳ ἐοικότα, ἃ παρθένους γεγενῆσθαι ἱστοροῦσι· εἰς <δὲ> δένδρα ταύτας ἀμειφθῆναι τὸν Βορρᾶν φευγούσας ἐρῶντα. Καὶ νῦν ἔτι, εἴ τις θίγοι τῶν φυλλῶν, χολοῦσθαι τὸν ἄνεμον λέγουσι καὶ σφοδρὸν αὐτίκα πνεῖν καὶ μόλις διὰ τρίτης παύεσθαι.

16 “In the middle of Thrace there is a river which reveals women who have been corrupted through adultery. When their husbands have them drink from the water they also say ‘If you were not corrupted by that water, may you have a son; but if you were, have a daughter’ “

Μέστος ποταμὸς ἐν Θρᾴκῃ τὰς μοιχευομένας ἐξελέγχει, τῶν ἀνδρῶν ποτιζόντων αὐτὰς ἀπὸ τοῦ ὕδατος τούτου καὶ λεγόντων· «εἰ μὲν οὐκ ἐμοιχεύθης, ἄρρεν τέκοις, εἰ δ’ οὖν, θῆλυ.»

17 “And among the Germanoi, the Rhênos tests this: for if a child is immersed in it, if it was the product of adultery, it dies, if not, it lives.”

 Καὶ παρὰ Γερμανοῖς ὁ ῾Ρῆνος ἐλέγχει· ἐμβληθὲν γὰρ τὸ παιδίον εἰ μὲν μοιχευθείσης ἐστί, θνῄσκει, εἰ δ’ οὐ, ζῇ.

24 “The Keltoi, whenever there is scarcity or a famine, punish their women as if they are to blame for the evils.”

Οἱ Κελτοί, ὅταν ἢ ἀφορία ἢ λοιμὸς γένηται, τὰς γυναῖκας αὐτῶν κολάζουσιν ὡς αἰτίας τῶν κακῶν.

Image result for medieval manuscript river women
Splendor Solis “(Germany, 1582), British Library, London.

Or

Image result for gif monty python found a witch

Out of the Smoke, Into the Fire: Some More Greek Proverbs

As of today I take over as chair of my department. Here are some proverbs for life changes and mistakes.

Diogenianus, 8.45

“When I fled the smoke, I fell into the fire”:  [this proverb is applied] to those who flee rather minor troubles only to fall upon greater ones.

Τὸν καπνὸν φεύγων, εἰς τὸ πῦρ ἐνέπεσον: ἐπὶ τῶν τὰ μικρὰ τῶν δεινῶν φευγόντων, καὶ εἰς μείζονα δεινὰ ἐμπιπτόντων.

 

Arsenius 4.23f

“It is strange that one who pursues honors avoids the hard work honors come from”

῎Ατοπόν ἐστι διώκοντα τὰς τιμὰς φεύγειν τοὺς πόνους, δι’ ὧν αἱ τιμαί.

 

Michael Apostolios, 11.15

“You ate some lotus”: [this proverb is applied to those] who are forgetful of things in the household and are slow in matters of hospitality. It is based on the lotus which imbues one who eats it with forgetfulness.”

Λωτοῦ ἔφαγες: ἐπὶ τῶν σχόντων λήθην τῶν οἴκοι, καὶ βραδυνόντων ἐπὶ ξένης. ἔστι δὲ πόα τὸ λωτὸν, λήθην ἐμποιοῦν τῷ φαγόντι.

 

Arsenius 3.19a

“The man who flees will also fight again”: [this proverb is applied] to those who face a doubtful victory.

᾿Ανὴρ ὁ φεύγων καὶ πάλιν μαχήσεται: ἐπὶ τῶν ἑτεραλκεῖ νίκῃ χρωμένων ταχθείη.

 

Michael Apostolios 1.26

“Agamemnon’s sacrifice”: [a proverb] applied to the difficult to persuade and the stubborn. For when Agamemnon was making a sacrifice, the bull was scarcely caught after it fled.” Or, it is because Agamemnon wanted to sacrifice his daughter. And she fled.”

᾿Αγαμέμνονος θυσία: ἐπὶ τῶν δυσπειθῶν καὶ σκληρῶν. θύοντος γὰρ ᾿Αγαμέμνονος ὁ βοῦς φυγὼν μόλις ἐλήφθη. ῍Η ὅτι τὴν ἑαυτοῦ ἐβούλετο ᾿Αγαμέμνων θυσιάσαι θυγατέρα· ἣ δ’ ἔφυγε.

Image result for medieval manuscript frying pan
Illuminated Manuscript – The Hague, KB, 76 F 13, f. 12v, XIV cent., France