Sappho ❤️ Paulus

An imagined situation: 

The poet Paulus Silentiarius (6th C. CE) complains to a confidant that his beloved, Sappho, is something of a cold fish. 

Meanwhile, Sappho (c.6th C. BCE) admits to the same confidant that actually, she’s overcome with lust whenever Paulus is around:  

Paulus Silentiarius 5.246 (Greek Anthology)

Soft are Sappho’s kisses!
Soft her embracing snow-white arms!
All of her body, soft.

But her heart, it’s steely and unyielding–
See how she loves to kiss, yet minds her chastity.

Who could bear this?
Perhaps, just perhaps, the stoical man
Who could easily bear Tantalus’s thirst.

Sappho Fr. 130.

Again, limb-liberating Lust rattles me.
He’s a beast both sweet and bitter
And cannot be fought off.

Paulus Silentiarius 5.246 (Greek Anthology)

μαλθακὰ μὲν Σαπφοῦς τὰ φιλήματα, μαλθακὰ γυίων
πλέγματα χιονέων, μαλθακὰ πάντα μέλη:
ψυχὴ δ᾽ ἐξ ἀδάμαντος ἀπειθέος: ἄχρι γὰρ οἴων
ἔστιν ἔρως στομάτων, τἆλλα δὲ παρθενίης.
καὶ τίς ὑποτλαίη; τάχα τις τάχα τοῦτο ταλάσσας
δίψαν Τανταλέην τλήσεται εὐμαρέως.

Sappho.Fr. 130.

Ἔρος δηὖτέ μ’ ὀ λυσιμέλης δόνει,
γλυκύπικρον ἀμάχανον ὄρπετον.

Edward Munch. The Kiss. 1895.
Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Don’t Let Questions Ruin Your Conference

Plato, Protagoras 338d-e

“But am willing to do this in such a way that you are eager for the conference and you will have some conversations. If Protagoras does not want to respond to questions, let him ask them instead, and I will answer and I will at the same time try to show him how I believe that someone should answer when he is asked something.

Whenever I answer however many questions he wants to ask, then let him promise to give me the same courtesy in return. If he does not seem enthusiastic about answering what he has been asked, then you and I can ask him in common—the very thing which you asked—that he not ruin our conference. It is not necessary to put one person in charge of this, but you can all watch over this together.”

ἀλλ᾿ οὑτωσὶ ἐθέλω ποιῆσαι, ἵν᾿ ὃ προθυμεῖσθε συνουσία τε καὶ διάλογοι ἡμῖν γίγνωνται· εἰ μὴ βούλεται Πρωταγόρας ἀποκρίνεσθαι, οὗτος μὲν ἐρωτάτω, ἐγὼ δὲ ἀποκρινοῦμαι, καὶ ἅμα πειράσομαι αὐτῷ δεῖξαι, ὡς ἐγώ φημι χρῆναι τὸν ἀποκρινόμενον ἀποκρίνεσθαι· ἐπειδὰν δὲ ἐγὼ ἀποκρίνωμαι ὁπόσ᾿ ἂν οὗτος βούληται ἐρωτᾷν, πάλιν οὗτος ἐμοὶ λόγον ὑποσχέτω ὁμοίως. ἐὰν οὖν μὴ δοκῇ πρόθυμος εἶναι πρὸς αὐτὸ τὸ ἐρωτώμενον ἀποκρίνεσθαι, καὶ ἐγὼ καὶ ὑμεῖς κοινῇ δεησόμεθα αὐτοῦ ἅπερ ὑμεῖς ἐμοῦ, μὴ διαφθείρειν τὴν συνουσίαν· καὶ οὐδὲν δεῖ τούτου ἕνεκα ἕνα ἐπιστάτην γενέσθαι, ἀλλὰ πάντες κοινῇ ἐπιστατήσετε.

 

Ammianus Marcellinus, History 21.4

“After Aquileia was surrounded by a double line of shields, when leaders conferred, it seemed best to try to persuade the defenders to surrender with a variety of threats and promises. Even though many words were intensively exchanged, their reluctance actually grew stronger and the conference was ended without a thing accomplished.”

Ordine itaque scutorum gemino Aquileia circumsaepta, concinentibus sententiis ducum, conveniens visum est ad deditionem allicere defensores, minacium blandorumque varietate sermonum: et multis ultro citroque dictitatis, in immensum obstinatione gliscente, ex colloquio re infecta disceditur.

One of the tapestries in the series The Hunt of the Unicorn: The Unicorn is Found, circa 1495-1505, The CloistersMetropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

The Wakeful Mind and Happiness

Cicero, De Finibus 5. 87

“For this reason we must examine whether or not it is possible for the study of the philosophers to bring us [happiness].”

Quare hoc videndum est, possitne nobis hoc ratio philosophorum dare.

 

Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics, 2.1 (1219a25)

“Let the work of the mind be the performance of life—and what this means is using life and being awake (for sleep is some kind of a rest and cessation of life). As a result, since the work of the mind and its virtue are identical, then the work of virtue is an earnest life.

This, then, is the complete good, which is itself happiness. For it is clear from what we have argued—as we said that happiness was the best thing; the goals and the greatest of the goods are in the mind, but aspects of the mind are either a state of being or an action—it is clear that, since an action is better than a state and the best action is better than the best state, that the performance of virtue is the greatest good of the mind. Happiness, then, is the action of a good mind.”

Ἔτι ἔστω ψυχῆς ἔργον τὸ ζῆν ποιεῖν, τοῦτοχρῆσις καὶ ἐγρήγορσις (ὁ γὰρ ὕπνος ἀργία τις καὶ ἡσυχία)· ὥστ᾿ ἐπεὶ τὸ ἔργον ἀνάγκη ἓν καὶ ταὐτὸ εἶναι τῆς ψυχῆς καὶ τῆς ἀρετῆς, ἔργον ἂν εἴη τῆς ἀρετῆς ζωὴ σπουδαία.

τοῦτ᾿ ἄρ᾿ ἐστὶ τὸ τέλεον ἀγαθόν, ὅπερ ἦν ἡ εὐδαιμονία. δῆλον δὲ ἐκ τῶν ὑποκειμένων (ἦν μὲν γὰρ ἡ εὐδαιμονία τὸ ἄριστον, τὰ δὲ τέλη ἐν ψυχῇ καὶ τὰ ἄριστα τῶν ἀγαθῶν, τὰ ἐν αὐτῇ δὲ ἢ ἕξις ἢ ἐνέργεια), ἐπεὶ βέλτιον ἡ ἐνέργεια τῆς διαθέσεως καὶ τῆς βελτίστης ἕξεως ἡ βελτίστη ἐνέργεια ἡ δ᾿ ἀρετὴ βελτίστη ἕξις, τὴν τῆς ἀρετῆς ἐνέργειαν τῆς ψυχῆς ἄριστον εἶναι. ἦν δὲ καὶ ἡ εὐδαιμονία τὸ ἄριστον· ἔστιν ἄρα ἡ εὐδαιμονία ψυχῆς ἀγαθῆς ἐνέργεια.

ψυχή: can be translated into English as “spirit” or “soul” instead of “mind”. I avoided the former to sidestep the implication that Aristotle is making some kind of a mystical argument; I avoided the latter because it has such strong religious associations in English.

Seneca De Beneficiis 22

“A just reason for happiness is seeing that a friend is happy—even better, is to make a friend happy.”

iusta enim causa laetitiae est laetum amicum videre, iustior fecisse

Image result for medieval manuscript philosophy happiness
Ms 3045 fol.22v Boethius with the Wheel of Fortune, from ‘De Consolatione Philosophiae’, translated by Jean de Meung

The Wakeful Mind and Happiness

Cicero, De Finibus 5. 87

“For this reason we must examine whether or not it is possible for the study of the philosophers to bring us [happiness].”

Quare hoc videndum est, possitne nobis hoc ratio philosophorum dare.

 

Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics, 2.1 (1219a25)

“Let the work of the mind be the performance of life—and what this means is using life and being awake (for sleep is some kind of a rest and cessation of life). As a result, since the work of the mind and its virtue are identical, then the work of virtue is an earnest life.

This, then, is the complete good, which is itself happiness. For it is clear from what we have argued—as we said that happiness was the best thing; the goals and the greatest of the goods are in the mind, but aspects of the mind are either a state of being or an action—it is clear that, since an action is better than a state and the best action is better than the best state, that the performance of virtue is the greatest good of the mind. Happiness, then, is the action of a good mind.”

Ἔτι ἔστω ψυχῆς ἔργον τὸ ζῆν ποιεῖν, τοῦτοχρῆσις καὶ ἐγρήγορσις (ὁ γὰρ ὕπνος ἀργία τις καὶ ἡσυχία)· ὥστ᾿ ἐπεὶ τὸ ἔργον ἀνάγκη ἓν καὶ ταὐτὸ εἶναι τῆς ψυχῆς καὶ τῆς ἀρετῆς, ἔργον ἂν εἴη τῆς ἀρετῆς ζωὴ σπουδαία.

τοῦτ᾿ ἄρ᾿ ἐστὶ τὸ τέλεον ἀγαθόν, ὅπερ ἦν ἡ εὐδαιμονία. δῆλον δὲ ἐκ τῶν ὑποκειμένων (ἦν μὲν γὰρ ἡ εὐδαιμονία τὸ ἄριστον, τὰ δὲ τέλη ἐν ψυχῇ καὶ τὰ ἄριστα τῶν ἀγαθῶν, τὰ ἐν αὐτῇ δὲ ἢ ἕξις ἢ ἐνέργεια), ἐπεὶ βέλτιον ἡ ἐνέργεια τῆς διαθέσεως καὶ τῆς βελτίστης ἕξεως ἡ βελτίστη ἐνέργεια ἡ δ᾿ ἀρετὴ βελτίστη ἕξις, τὴν τῆς ἀρετῆς ἐνέργειαν τῆς ψυχῆς ἄριστον εἶναι. ἦν δὲ καὶ ἡ εὐδαιμονία τὸ ἄριστον· ἔστιν ἄρα ἡ εὐδαιμονία ψυχῆς ἀγαθῆς ἐνέργεια.

ψυχή: can be translated into English as “spirit” or “soul” instead of “mind”. I avoided the former to sidestep the implication that Aristotle is making some kind of a mystical argument; I avoided the latter because it has such strong religious associations in English.

Seneca De Beneficiis 22

“A just reason for happiness is seeing that a friend is happy—even better, is to make a friend happy.”

iusta enim causa laetitiae est laetum amicum videre, iustior fecisse

Image result for medieval manuscript philosophy happiness
Ms 3045 fol.22v Boethius with the Wheel of Fortune, from ‘De Consolatione Philosophiae’, translated by Jean de Meung

Wandering for Answers

Plato, Hippias Minor 376c

Hippias: “I can’t really agree with you on these things, Socrates.”

Socrates: “Huh, I can’t agree with myself either. But it seems like our current discussion must go there, at least.

This is what I haven been saying for a long time—I wander back and forth on these topics and they never seem the same to me. Really, it is not a surprise at all that I or any other normal person find ourselves adrift. But if you and the other experts get lost too, then it is pretty frightening for us since we can’t stop our wandering even after coming to you.”

ΙΠ. Οὐκ ἔχω ὅπως σοι συγχωρήσω, ὦ Σώκρατες, ταῦτα.

ΣΩ. Οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐγὼ ἐμοί, ὦ Ἱππία· ἀλλ᾿ ἀναγκαῖον οὕτω φαίνεσθαι νῦν γε ἡμῖν ἐκ τοῦ λόγου. ὅπερ μέντοι πάλαι ἔλεγον, ἐγὼ περὶ ταῦτα ἄνω καὶ κάτω πλανῶμαι καὶ οὐδέποτε ταὐτά μοι δοκεῖ· καὶ ἐμὲ μὲν οὐδὲν θαυμαστὸν πλανᾶσθαι οὐδὲ ἄλλον ἰδιώτην· εἰ δὲ καὶ ὑμεῖς πλανήσεσθε οἱ σοφοί, τοῦτο ἤδη καὶ ἡμῖν δεινόν, εἰ μηδὲ παρ᾿ ὑμᾶς ἀφικόμενοι παυσόμεθα τῆς πλάνης.

Indigo Girls, Closer to Fine

“And I went to see the doctor of philosophy
With a poster of Rasputin and a beard down to his knee
He never did marry or see a B-grade movie
He graded my performance, he said he could see through me
I spent four years prostrate to the higher mind
Got my paper and I was free”

Don’t Let Questions Ruin Your Conference

In solidarity with friends traveling to the capitol this week….

Plato, Protagoras 338d-e

“But am willing to do this in such a way that you are eager for the conference and you will have some conversations. If Protagoras does not want to respond to questions, let him ask them instead, and I will answer and I will at the same time try to show him how I believe that someone should answer when he is asked something.

Whenever I answer however many questions he wants to ask, then let him promise to give me the same courtesy in return. If he does not seem enthusiastic about answering what he has been asked, then you and I can ask him in common—the very thing which you asked—that he not ruin our conference. It is not necessary to put one person in charge of this, but you can all watch over this together.”

ἀλλ᾿ οὑτωσὶ ἐθέλω ποιῆσαι, ἵν᾿ ὃ προθυμεῖσθε συνουσία τε καὶ διάλογοι ἡμῖν γίγνωνται· εἰ μὴ βούλεται Πρωταγόρας ἀποκρίνεσθαι, οὗτος μὲν ἐρωτάτω, ἐγὼ δὲ ἀποκρινοῦμαι, καὶ ἅμα πειράσομαι αὐτῷ δεῖξαι, ὡς ἐγώ φημι χρῆναι τὸν ἀποκρινόμενον ἀποκρίνεσθαι· ἐπειδὰν δὲ ἐγὼ ἀποκρίνωμαι ὁπόσ᾿ ἂν οὗτος βούληται ἐρωτᾷν, πάλιν οὗτος ἐμοὶ λόγον ὑποσχέτω ὁμοίως. ἐὰν οὖν μὴ δοκῇ πρόθυμος εἶναι πρὸς αὐτὸ τὸ ἐρωτώμενον ἀποκρίνεσθαι, καὶ ἐγὼ καὶ ὑμεῖς κοινῇ δεησόμεθα αὐτοῦ ἅπερ ὑμεῖς ἐμοῦ, μὴ διαφθείρειν τὴν συνουσίαν· καὶ οὐδὲν δεῖ τούτου ἕνεκα ἕνα ἐπιστάτην γενέσθαι, ἀλλὰ πάντες κοινῇ ἐπιστατήσετε.

 

Ammianus Marcellinus, History 21.4

“After Aquileia was surrounded by a double line of shields, when leaders conferred, it seemed best to try to persuade the defenders to surrender with a variety of threats and promises. Even though many words were intensively exchanged, their reluctance actually grew stronger and the conference was ended without a thing accomplished.”

Ordine itaque scutorum gemino Aquileia circumsaepta, concinentibus sententiis ducum, conveniens visum est ad deditionem allicere defensores, minacium blandorumque varietate sermonum: et multis ultro citroque dictitatis, in immensum obstinatione gliscente, ex colloquio re infecta disceditur.

One of the tapestries in the series The Hunt of the Unicorn: The Unicorn is Found, circa 1495-1505, The CloistersMetropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

The Wakeful Mind and Happiness

Cicero, De Finibus 5. 87

“For this reason we must examine whether or not it is possible for the study of the philosophers to bring us [happiness].”

Quare hoc videndum est, possitne nobis hoc ratio philosophorum dare.

 

Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics, 2.1 (1219a25)

“Let the work of the mind be the performance of life—and what this means is using life and being awake (for sleep is some kind of a rest and cessation of life). As a result, since the work of the mind and its virtue are identical, then the work of virtue is an earnest life.

This, then, is the complete good, which is itself happiness. For it is clear from what we have argued—as we said that happiness was the best thing; the goals and the greatest of the goods are in the mind, but aspects of the mind are either a state of being or an action—it is clear that, since an action is better than a state and the best action is better than the best state, that the performance of virtue is the greatest good of the mind. Happiness, then, is the action of a good mind.”

Ἔτι ἔστω ψυχῆς ἔργον τὸ ζῆν ποιεῖν, τοῦτοχρῆσις καὶ ἐγρήγορσις (ὁ γὰρ ὕπνος ἀργία τις καὶ ἡσυχία)· ὥστ᾿ ἐπεὶ τὸ ἔργον ἀνάγκη ἓν καὶ ταὐτὸ εἶναι τῆς ψυχῆς καὶ τῆς ἀρετῆς, ἔργον ἂν εἴη τῆς ἀρετῆς ζωὴ σπουδαία.

τοῦτ᾿ ἄρ᾿ ἐστὶ τὸ τέλεον ἀγαθόν, ὅπερ ἦν ἡ εὐδαιμονία. δῆλον δὲ ἐκ τῶν ὑποκειμένων (ἦν μὲν γὰρ ἡ εὐδαιμονία τὸ ἄριστον, τὰ δὲ τέλη ἐν ψυχῇ καὶ τὰ ἄριστα τῶν ἀγαθῶν, τὰ ἐν αὐτῇ δὲ ἢ ἕξις ἢ ἐνέργεια), ἐπεὶ βέλτιον ἡ ἐνέργεια τῆς διαθέσεως καὶ τῆς βελτίστης ἕξεως ἡ βελτίστη ἐνέργεια ἡ δ᾿ ἀρετὴ βελτίστη ἕξις, τὴν τῆς ἀρετῆς ἐνέργειαν τῆς ψυχῆς ἄριστον εἶναι. ἦν δὲ καὶ ἡ εὐδαιμονία τὸ ἄριστον· ἔστιν ἄρα ἡ εὐδαιμονία ψυχῆς ἀγαθῆς ἐνέργεια.

ψυχή: can be translated into English as “spirit” or “soul” instead of “mind”. I avoided the former to sidestep the implication that Aristotle is making some kind of a mystical argument; I avoided the latter because it has such strong religious associations in English.

Seneca De Beneficiis 22

“A just reason for happiness is seeing that a friend is happy—even better, is to make a friend happy.”

iusta enim causa laetitiae est laetum amicum videre, iustior fecisse

Image result for medieval manuscript philosophy happiness
Ms 3045 fol.22v Boethius with the Wheel of Fortune, from ‘De Consolatione Philosophiae’, translated by Jean de Meung

The Wakeful Mind and Happiness

Cicero, De Finibus 5. 87

“For this reason we must examine whether or not it is possible for the study of the philosophers to bring us [happiness].”

Quare hoc videndum est, possitne nobis hoc ratio philosophorum dare.

 

Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics, 2.1 (1219a25)

“Let the work of the mind be the performance of life—and what this means is using life and being awake (for sleep is some kind of a rest and cessation of life). As a result, since the work of the mind and its virtue are identical, then the work of virtue is an earnest life.

This, then, is the complete good, which is itself happiness. For it is clear from what we have argued—as we said that happiness was the best thing; the goals and the greatest of the goods are in the mind, but aspects of the mind are either a state of being or an action—it is clear that, since an action is better than a state and the best action is better than the best state, that the performance of virtue is the greatest good of the mind. Happiness, then, is the action of a good mind.”

Ἔτι ἔστω ψυχῆς ἔργον τὸ ζῆν ποιεῖν, τοῦτοχρῆσις καὶ ἐγρήγορσις (ὁ γὰρ ὕπνος ἀργία τις καὶ ἡσυχία)· ὥστ᾿ ἐπεὶ τὸ ἔργον ἀνάγκη ἓν καὶ ταὐτὸ εἶναι τῆς ψυχῆς καὶ τῆς ἀρετῆς, ἔργον ἂν εἴη τῆς ἀρετῆς ζωὴ σπουδαία.

τοῦτ᾿ ἄρ᾿ ἐστὶ τὸ τέλεον ἀγαθόν, ὅπερ ἦν ἡ εὐδαιμονία. δῆλον δὲ ἐκ τῶν ὑποκειμένων (ἦν μὲν γὰρ ἡ εὐδαιμονία τὸ ἄριστον, τὰ δὲ τέλη ἐν ψυχῇ καὶ τὰ ἄριστα τῶν ἀγαθῶν, τὰ ἐν αὐτῇ δὲ ἢ ἕξις ἢ ἐνέργεια), ἐπεὶ βέλτιον ἡ ἐνέργεια τῆς διαθέσεως καὶ τῆς βελτίστης ἕξεως ἡ βελτίστη ἐνέργεια ἡ δ᾿ ἀρετὴ βελτίστη ἕξις, τὴν τῆς ἀρετῆς ἐνέργειαν τῆς ψυχῆς ἄριστον εἶναι. ἦν δὲ καὶ ἡ εὐδαιμονία τὸ ἄριστον· ἔστιν ἄρα ἡ εὐδαιμονία ψυχῆς ἀγαθῆς ἐνέργεια.

ψυχή: can be translated into English as “spirit” or “soul” instead of “mind”. I avoided the former to sidestep the implication that Aristotle is making some kind of a mystical argument; I avoided the latter because it has such strong religious associations in English.

Seneca De Beneficiis 22

“A just reason for happiness is seeing that a friend is happy—even better, is to make a friend happy.”

iusta enim causa laetitiae est laetum amicum videre, iustior fecisse

Image result for medieval manuscript philosophy happiness
Ms 3045 fol.22v Boethius with the Wheel of Fortune, from ‘De Consolatione Philosophiae’, translated by Jean de Meung

The Wakeful Mind and Happiness

Cicero, De Finibus 5. 87

“For this reason we must examine whether or not it is possible for the study of the philosophers to bring us [happiness].”

Quare hoc videndum est, possitne nobis hoc ratio philosophorum dare.

 

Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics, 2.1 (1219a25)

“Let the work of the mind be the performance of life—and what this means is using life and being awake (for sleep is some kind of a rest and cessation of life). As a result, since the work of the mind and its virtue are identical, then the work of virtue is an earnest life.

This, then, is the complete good, which is itself happiness. For it is clear from what we have argued—as we said that happiness was the best thing; the goals and the greatest of the goods are in the mind, but aspects of the mind are either a state of being or an action—it is clear that, since an action is better than a state and the best action is better than the best state, that the performance of virtue is the greatest good of the mind. Happiness, then, is the action of a good mind.”

Ἔτι ἔστω ψυχῆς ἔργον τὸ ζῆν ποιεῖν, τοῦτοχρῆσις καὶ ἐγρήγορσις (ὁ γὰρ ὕπνος ἀργία τις καὶ ἡσυχία)· ὥστ᾿ ἐπεὶ τὸ ἔργον ἀνάγκη ἓν καὶ ταὐτὸ εἶναι τῆς ψυχῆς καὶ τῆς ἀρετῆς, ἔργον ἂν εἴη τῆς ἀρετῆς ζωὴ σπουδαία.

τοῦτ᾿ ἄρ᾿ ἐστὶ τὸ τέλεον ἀγαθόν, ὅπερ ἦν ἡ εὐδαιμονία. δῆλον δὲ ἐκ τῶν ὑποκειμένων (ἦν μὲν γὰρ ἡ εὐδαιμονία τὸ ἄριστον, τὰ δὲ τέλη ἐν ψυχῇ καὶ τὰ ἄριστα τῶν ἀγαθῶν, τὰ ἐν αὐτῇ δὲ ἢ ἕξις ἢ ἐνέργεια), ἐπεὶ βέλτιον ἡ ἐνέργεια τῆς διαθέσεως καὶ τῆς βελτίστης ἕξεως ἡ βελτίστη ἐνέργεια ἡ δ᾿ ἀρετὴ βελτίστη ἕξις, τὴν τῆς ἀρετῆς ἐνέργειαν τῆς ψυχῆς ἄριστον εἶναι. ἦν δὲ καὶ ἡ εὐδαιμονία τὸ ἄριστον· ἔστιν ἄρα ἡ εὐδαιμονία ψυχῆς ἀγαθῆς ἐνέργεια.

ψυχή: can be translated into English as “spirit” or “soul” instead of “mind”. I avoided the former to sidestep the implication that Aristotle is making some kind of a mystical argument; I avoided the latter because it has such strong religious associations in English.

Seneca De Beneficiis 22

“A just reason for happiness is seeing that a friend is happy—even better, is to make a friend happy.”

iusta enim causa laetitiae est laetum amicum videre, iustior fecisse

Image result for medieval manuscript philosophy happiness
Ms 3045 fol.22v Boethius with the Wheel of Fortune, from ‘De Consolatione Philosophiae’, translated by Jean de Meung

Critics of Poetry Are Just Too Critical

Lucian, A Conversation with Hesiod, 5 

[Hesiod speaks to his interlocutor in the following passage. We posted the opening of this dialogue a few weeks ago]

“Still, I will not avoid defending my poetry against you too. I believe that it is not right to expect precision from poems at the smallest level or to demand that each syllable spoken be perfect or, if any part should depart from the course of the composition, to focus on that bitterly. No, you must know what we include many things for the sake of the meter or euphony; and some things, which are smooth, the line itself admits (even though I am not sure how). But you would deprive us of one of the greatest advantages we have, by which I mean freedom and license in poetry—and you cannot see the other parts of a poem, how many are beautiful, when you pick out a few splinters and some thorns, and search for starting points for criticism. But you are not the only one to do these things and you don’t just do it to me—many others shred  my fellow-artisan Homer to pieces, pursuing such minor details, such especially small things.”

 

῞Ομως δὲ οὐκ ἀπορήσω πρὸς σὲ καὶ ποιητικῆς ἀπολογίας. οὐ γάρ, οἶμαι, χρὴ παρὰ τῶν ποιητῶν ἐς τὸ λεπτότατον ἀκριβολογουμένους ἀπαιτεῖν κατὰ συλλαβὴν ἑκάστην ἐντελῆ πάντως τὰ εἰρημένα, κἂν εἴ τι ἐν τῷ τῆς ποιήσεως δρόμῳ παραρρυὲν λάθῃ, πικρῶς τοῦτο ἐξετάζειν, ἀλλ’ εἰδέναι ὅτι πολλὰ ἡμεῖς καὶ τῶν μέτρων ἕνεκα καὶ τῆς εὐφωνίας ἐπεμβάλλομεν· τὰ δὲ καὶ τὸ ἔπος αὐτὸ πολλάκις λεῖα ὄντα οὐκ οἶδ’ ὅπως παρεδέξατο. σὺ δὲ τὸ μέγιστον ὧν ἔχομεν ἀγαθῶν ἀφαιρῇ ἡμᾶς—λέγω δὲ τὴν ἐλευθερίαν καὶ τὴν ἐν τῷ ποιεῖν ἐξουσίαν, καὶ τὰ μὲν ἄλλα οὐχ ὁρᾷς ὅσα τῆς ποιήσεως καλά, σκινδαλάμους δὲ καὶ ἀκάνθας τινὰς ἐκλέγεις καὶ λαβὰς τῇ συκοφαντίᾳ ζητεῖς. ἀλλ’ οὐ μόνος ταῦτα σὺ οὐδὲ κατ’ ἐμοῦ μόνου, ἀλλὰ πολλοὶ καὶ ἄλλοι τὰ τοῦ ὁμοτέχνου τοῦ ἐμοῦ ῾Ομήρου κατακνίζουσι λεπτὰ οὕτω κομιδῇ καὶ μάλιστα μικρὰ ἄττα διεξιόντες.