Worse Through Words: National Emergencies and War

Cicero, Philippic 8.2

“But what is the substance of the controversy? Some people were thinking that the title “war” should not be given in the statement; they were preferring to use the term “national emergency” because they are ignorant not only of the matter but of words too. For a war is possible without a “national emergency”, but a “national emergency”, however, cannot exist without a war. What thing could be a “national emergency” but a trouble so great that a serious fear arises?

This is where the terminology itself for “national emergency” [tumultus] comes from. For our ancestors used to say that there was a “national emergency” in Italy  which was domestic or a “national emergency” in Gaul, which is on our border, but they used to call nothing else that. And that a “national emergency” is, moreover, more serious than a war can be understood from the fact that exemptions from service are valid in war but they are not in “national emergency”.

Therefore, as I was just saying, a war can exist without a “national emergency” but a “national emergency” cannot exist without a war. And since there can be no middle-ground between war and peace, it is true that a “national emergency”, if it is not part of a war, must be part of a peace. And what could be a crazier to say or imagine? But I have gone on too long about a word. Let’s look at the matter itself, Senators, which I do think often can become worse through language.”

At in quo fuit controversia? Belli nomen ponendum quidam in sententia non putabant: tumultum appellare malebant, ignari non modo rerum sed etiam verborum: potest enim esse bellum ut tumultus non sit, tumultus autem esse sine bello non potest. Quid est enim aliud tumultus nisi perturbatio tanta ut maior timor oriatur? Unde etiam nomen ductum est tumultus. Itaque maiores nostri tumultum Italicum quod erat domesticus, tumultum Gallicum quod erat Italiae finitimus, praeterea nullum nominabant. Gravius autem tumultum esse quam bellum hinc intellegi potest quod bello [Italico] vacationes valent, tumultu non valent. Ita fit, quem ad modum dixi, ut bellum sine tumultu possit, tumultus sine bello esse non possit.4Etenim cum inter bellum et pacem medium nihil sit, necesse est tumultum, si belli non sit, pacis esse: quo quid absurdius dici aut existimari potest? Sed nimis multa de verbo. Rem potius videamus, patres conscripti, quam quidem intellego verbo fieri interdum deteriorem solere.

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There is a town called Cicero. It responds to emergencies.

Quomodo Dicitur “State of the Union Address”?

The amazing Dani Bostick (@danibostick) live tweeted the State of the Union Address tonight in Latin. For those off twitter (or off TV), here are her tweets.



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The State of Our Union, In Latin

Tonight we will witness the annual political theater of the President’s State of the Union address. It will be charged and probably traumatizing. But, never fear, the inimitable Dani Bostick has promised to provided commentary in Latin from her twitter account (.@danibostick). Look for the hashtag #LatinSOTU.

In honor of her personal sacrifice, here are some of her #FakeLatin for #RealNews posts  chronicling the rise of the mysterious Manicula from the past few months.

Caesar on Forestry in Finland

C. Julius Caesar (?), De Silvis. Edited by Dani Bostick.

1.3 The best part of Gaul is Finland which is inhabited by the most intelligent citizens of all because they most often rake leaves and keep four rakes under every tree. For this reason the Finnish people also surpass everybody in safety, because almost every day they clean their forest with these rakes either when leaves fall from trees or when there is dirt of another kind.

1.3 Optima pars Galliae est Finlandia quam cives intellegentissimi omnium colunt propterea quod saepissimeque folias conradunt atque quattuor pectines sub omni arbore ponunt. Qua de causa Finlandi quoque omnes sapientia praecedunt, quod fere cotidie pectinibus silvas purgant, cum aut foliae ex arboribus cadunt aut illuvies alterius generis est.

1.4 This technique is thought to have originated in Canada, where there are many forests, and brought to Finland, but now those who want to learn more about it do not go there for the sake of learning about it. You see, the entire nation of the Finnish people is extremely devoted to learning and on that account foreign teachers come to Finland so that they might learn to teach well, but they never ask how to keep forests clean on account of their stupidity.

1.4 Haec disciplina in Canada reperta atque in Finlandiam translata esse existimatur, sed nunc, qui diligentius eam rem cognoscere volunt, plerumque illo discendi causa non proficiscuntur. Nam natio est omnis Finlandorum admodum dedita eruditioni, atque ob eam causam barbari magistri veniunt ut bene docere discant, sed ob stultitiam quomodo silvae purgentur numquam rogant.


Caesar on Education in Finland

C. Julius Caesar (?), De Silvis. Edited by Dani Bostick.

1.5 In Finland schools are very different from prisons and for this reason seem rather unusual to foreigners. It is permitted to walk and play outside rather often so that teachers, who are considered to be almost gods and receive the greatest honor among their people, can keep students in a happy state of mind. When students learn, their bodies are calm not because they fear punishment or are asleep but because they delight in knowledge. They enjoy excellent lunches consisting of small fish, sausages, cheese, and fruit so that bad nutrition does not diminish their strength and enthusiasm. And none of this originates in factories far away, but in neighboring gardens and fields. The state prepares for slaughter in schools in proportion to the danger of this possibility; since there is no danger of this type of situation, they have nothing to prepare for. This is the greatest glory to Finland.

1.5 In Finlandia scholae dissimillimae carceribus atque ob eam causam inusitatioresque barbaris sunt. licet in locis apertis saepius errare ludereque ut magistri, qui paene deorum habentur loco maximamque inter suos ferunt laudem, animi felicitate discipulos contineant. Cum hi docent, corpora eorum neque timore poenarum neque somnio, sed delectationibus scientiae immota sunt. gustant prandia optima, quae in pisculis et tomaculis et caseo et pomis consistunt, ne malus victus vires studiumque diminuat. nec quicquam in remota fabrica, sed in hortis et agris vicinis nascitur. Civitas pro magnitudine periculi caedem in scholis parat. Quoniam nullum periculum caedis est, nihil parandum est. Finlandiae maxima laus est.

1.6 The leader of Finland can read and understands everything easily even without pictures. When he hears gossip or a rumor, he does not communicate it publicly because it has been discovered that fearful and ignorant people are scared by rumors and sometimes believe false words. The leader avoids driving his citizens to greater madness and conveys the truth to the people. For in Finland they do not think it is appropriate to deceive or manipulate with deceitful lies. For this reason the leader of Finland is held in high regard not only at home home but also among all nations.

1.6 Dux Finlandiae legere potest omniaque etiam sine picturis faciliter intellegit. Cum rumorem aut famam accepit, publice non communicat, quod saepe homines temerarios atque imperitos falsis rumoribus terreri et falsis verbis interdum credere cognitum est. Itaque dux cives ad maiorem amentiam impellere vitans veritatem multitudini prodit. Nam in Finlandia nefas esse existimatur subdolis mendaciis fallere aut inducere. Qua de causa dux Finlandiae non solum domi sed etiam apud omnes nationes honore largiter habetur.


Bellum Incivile, The Unlikely candidate

C. Julius Caesar (?), Bellum Incivile. Edited by Dani Bostick

1.30 Although he had five draft deferments, did not pay taxes along with everyone else, had nothing to do with politics, and had no skill in public speaking, Manicula sought the consulship, but not out of a desire to serve the people nor out of enthusiasm for his political party.

For which reason his associates Michael Cohen, Ivanka, Don Jr., Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulus, Carter Page, Roger Stone, and Rick Gates, driven by the hope of influence and rewards, started communicating with Russians that Manicula had hoped for a long time to build opulent housing in their country and that he was seeking the enemy’s help so that he could be elected consul.

Manicula and his associates were completely incapable of reading Cicero’s orations, but they believed his words: “There are no plots more undetectable than those carried out under the guise of public duty or in the name of some sort of obligation. For you can easily avoid a known enemy by being cautious; to contrast, a hidden and deep-seated domestic threat not only exists, but actually crushes you before you can detect it and learn more about it.”* Because of this, they all thought they were able to avoid suspicion.

1.30 Manicula cum militiae quinque vacationes haberet neque tributa una cum reliquis penderet neque forum attingeret neque ullam dicendi facultatem haberet, tamen consulatum petivit, sed neque cupiditate serviendi populi neque studio partium adficiebatur.

Qua de causa eius comites M. Coenus et Ivanca et Donaldellus et P. Virfortus et M. Flinnus et G. Papadus et P. Cartus et R. Lapis et R. Porta spe auctoritatis atque munerum inducti cum legatis Sarmatiae loqui coeperant: Maniculam se aulam auream in Sarmatiae finibus aedificaturum diu speravisse et auxilium hostium quo consul nuntiaretur petere.

Manicula comitesque orationes Ciceronis legere haudquaquam poterant, sed crederunt eius verbis: “Nullae sunt occultiores insidiae quam eae quae latent in simulatione offici aut in aliquo necessitudinis nomine. Nam eum qui palam est adversarius facile cavendo vitare possis; hoc vero occultum intestinum ac domesticum malum non modo non exsistit, verum etiam opprimit antequam prospicere atque explorare potueris.” Ob eam causam omnes sese suspicionem vitare posse arbitrabantur.


*Cicero, Verrine Oration 2.39



Bellum Incivile: Manicula and the Puppet Master

Bellum Incivile: Manicula’s Speech to the Nation

Bellum Incivile: Manicula’s Obsession with the Wall

Bellum Incivile: Manicula Can’t Stop Tweeting

Bellum Incivile: Government Shutdown Over the Wall

Bellum Incivile: The Loyal Fixer

Bellum Incivile: Ryan Zinke Profits From His Position

Bellum Incivile: The Candidi Assemble

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Book Of Hours, Medieval Manuscript, Vanitas, Memento Mori, British Library, Skull

“The Most Famous Contest of All”

Velleius Paterculus, History of Rome 1

“Then, the most famous contest of all sports”

Clarissimum deinde omnium ludicrum certamen

Philo, The Worse Attack the Better 29

“There are some of those athletes who display such perfection of body that their opponents decline to face them and they are announced as victors without a fight….”

εἰσὶ δέ τινες τῶν ἀγωνιστῶν οἳ διὰ σώματος εὐεξίαν, ἀπειπόντων τῶν ἀντιπάλων, ἐστεφανώθησαν ἀμαχὶ…

Livy, 40.13

“Look at the kind of circumstance selected for murder: games, parties, and drinking.”

tempora quidem qualia sint ad parricidium electa vides: lusus convivii comissationis.

Plutarch, Life of Antony 28

“There, he used his leisure in the distractions of youth and childish games, spending and even wasting that most expensive currency, as Antiphon calls it, time.”

ἐκεῖ δὲ μειρακίου σχολὴν ἄγοντος διατριβαῖς καὶ παιδιαῖς χρώμενον ἀναλίσκειν καὶ καθηδυπαθεῖν τὸ πολυτελέστατον, ὡς2Ἀντιφῶν εἶπεν, ἀνάλωμα, τὸν χρόνον.

Horace, Epistles 1.19.48-9

“Sport tends to give rise to heated strife and anger, anger in turns brings savage feuds and war to the death”.

ludus enim genuit trepidum certamen et iram, ira truces inimicitias et funebre bellum.

Xenophanes, Fragment 2. 16-19

“Swiftness of feet—the thing honored most in all of man’s acts of strength in the contest—could never make a city governed well.”

οὐδὲ μὲν εἰ ταχυτῆτι ποδῶν, τόπερ ἐστὶ πρότιμον,
ῥώμης ὅσσ’ ἀνδρῶν ἔργ’ ἐν ἀγῶνι πέλει,
τούνεκεν ἂν δὴ μᾶλλον ἐν εὐνομίηι πόλις εἴη·

Homer, Odyssey 8.147-8

“For as long as he lives, a man has no greater glory
than that which he wins with his own hands and feet”

οὐ μὲν γὰρ μεῖζον κλέος ἀνέρος, ὄφρα κεν ᾖσιν,
ἢ ὅ τι ποσσίν τε ῥέξῃ καὶ χερσὶν ἑῇσιν.

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Aristotle’s Defense for Going to That Superbowl Party

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics IX

“…so, friends properly desire spending time with one another. And whatever it is that is truly living for each and what they think makes life worth living, they want to share that with their friends. This is why some people drink together, others play dice together, some exercise together, or hunt, or study philosophy.

Each group of people spend their time together doing what they delight in most in life—because they want to share their lives with their friends, they join them and share in their pursuits as much as possible.”

ὥστ᾿ εἰκότως τούτου  ἐφίενται. καὶ ὅ τι ποτ᾿ ἐστὶν ἑκάστοις τὸ εἶναι ἢ οὗ χάριν αἱροῦνται τὸ ζῆν, ἐν τούτῳ μετὰ τῶν φίλων βούλονται διάγειν· διάπερ οἱ μὲν συμπίνουσιν, οἱ δὲ συγκυβεύουσιν, ἄλλοι δὲ συγγυμνάζονται καὶ συγκυνηγοῦσιν ἢ συμφιλοσοφοῦσιν, ἕκαστοι ἐν τούτῳ συνημερεύοντες ὅ τί περ μάλιστα ἀγαπῶσι τῶν ἐν τῷ βίῳ· συζῆν γὰρ βουλόμενοι μετὰ τῶν φίλων, ταῦτα ποιοῦσι καὶ τούτων κοινωνοῦσιν ὡς οἷόν τε [συζῆν].

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Creative Acts: “The Shifters”, A Free Movie Plot on the Parthenon Marbles

Turns out, someone already thought of this:



“Fire Will Not Freeze”: Some Words

Basil, Letter 189

“Fire will not freeze; ice will not turn warm.”

οὔτε ψύχει τὸ πῦρ, οὔτε θερμαίνει ὁ κρύσταλλος


Pliny, Natural History 14.132

“Wine does not usually freeze, it only gets numb with cold temperatures.”

vini natura non gelascit: alias ad frigus stupet tantum.

 Ovid, Ex Ponto 4.85-90

“Is it that I lie, or does the Black sea turn hard at the cold
And ice overtakes many acres of its surface?
When he says these things, ask what reputation I have
Or seek in what way now I survive these hard times.
Here I meet no hatred; and I have not earned hatred either.
Nor has my mind changed at all with my fortune”

mentiar, an coëat duratus frigore Pontus,
et teneat glacies iugera multa freti.
haec ubi narrarit, quae sit mea fama require,
quoque modo peragam tempora dura roga.
nec sumus hic odio, nec scilicet esse meremur,
nec cum fortuna mens quoque versa mea est.

Aristotle, Generation of Animals 735a        

“Watery things certainly freeze but semen does not freeze when it is given to frost in the open air…”

καίτοι πήγνυταί γε τὰ ὑδατώδη· τὸ δὲ σπέρμα οὐ πήγνυται τιθέμενον ἐν τοῖς πάγοις ὑπαίθριον

Plutarch, On the Principle of Cold (Moralia 949b)

“When something freezes, which is the most extreme and most violent of the things that can happen to objects because of the cold, the effect is from water but the cause is the air. For water is a thing which is fluid and not solid and not cohesive. When it is pressed and strained by air in its cold state, it becomes compact.

Καὶ μὴν ἁπάντων γε τῶν γινομένων ὑπὸ ψυχρότητος ἐν τοῖς σώμασι σφοδρότατον καὶ βιαιότατον ἡ πῆξις οὖσα, πάθος μέν ἐστιν ὕδατος, ἔργον δ᾿ ἀέρος· αὐτὸ μὲν γὰρ καθ᾿ ἑαυτὸ τὸ ὕδωρ εὐδιάχυτον καὶ ἀπαγὲς καὶ ἀσύστατόν ἐστιν, ἐντείνεται δὲ καὶ συνάγεται τῷ ἀέρι σφιγγόμενον ὑπὸ ψυχρότητος· διὸ καὶ λέλεκται

Xenophon, Anabasis 4.22.4

“From there they were marching through massive amounts of snow and a for three miles and thirteen parasangs. The third part of it was especially hard: a northern wind was blowing directly against them, slamming everything and freezing the people.”

Ἐντεῦθεν ἐπορεύοντο διὰ χιόνος πολλῆς καὶ πεδίου σταθμοὺς τρεῖς παρασάγγας τρεῖς καὶ δέκα. ὁ δὲ τρίτος ἐγένετο χαλεπὸς καὶ ἄνεμος βορρᾶς ἐναντίος ἔπνει παντάπασιν ἀποκαίων πάντα καὶ πηγνὺς τοὺς ἀνθρώπους.

Snow istotle


ψυχή, ἡ: soul, life

ψύχωσις: life-giving/generating

ψυχοανάκαλυπτος: soul-baring, revealing

ψυχοκλέπτης: soul-thief


ψυχοπλανής: soul-wandering

ψυχοπότης: soul drinker (drinking of life, i.e. blood)

ψῦχος, τό: cold

ψυχρία: cold

ψυχκρασία: growing cold

ψυχολογία: frigid talking

ψυχροποιός: making cold

ψυχροπότης: cold drinker (one who drinks cold water)

ψυχρόσαρκος: with cold flesh