Avoiding Viruses and Playing Games in Rome

Ammianus Marcellinus, Constantius and Gallus 23-25

“And since, as is natural in the world capital, the harsh diseases overpower so intensely that the profession of healing fails at treating them, the plan for safely is that no one will go to see a friend who suffers some disease like this. And some more cautious people add another salubrious remedy to this: slaves who have been sent to ask about the health of someone related to people who have this sickness are not allowed to enter the home before they have cleansed their body with a bath. This is how much they fear a sickness seen by other people.

But even when these practices are rather consistently performed, there are some people who, if they are invited to a wedding where gold might be offered to their open right hands, will run all the way to the Spoletium struggling, even though the strength of their limbs is weak from sickness.

But the mass of the poorest and lowest born people: some of them spend their entire nights in bars while some others haunt the shadows of the theater-awnings which Catullus during his aedileship was the first of all to have suspended as he emulated that Campanian corruption. Some of them play dice violently, sounding out foully when they draw air rapidly into their quivering nostrils; or, that thing they like most of all: they stand with their mouths agape from dawn to dusk in rain or shine analyzing the details of charioteers and the strengths and weaknesses of their horses.

And it is completely a surprise to see an uncountable crowd of plebians with a burning passion in their minds, hanging on what happens in the chariot races. These things and those like them allow nothing serious to happen at Rome.”

Et quoniam apud eos, ut in capite mundi, morborum acerbitates celsius dominantur, ad quos vel sedandos omnis professio medendi torpescit, excogitatum est adminiculum sospitale, nequi amicum perferentem similia videat, additumque est cautioribus paucis remedium aliud satis validum, ut famulos percontatum missos quem ad modum valeant noti hac aegritudine colligati, non ante recipiant domum, quam lavacro purgaverint corpus. Ita etiam alienis oculis visa metuitur Iabes.

Sed tamen haec cum ita tutius observentur, quidam vigore artuum imminuto, rogati ad nuptias, ubi aurum dextris manibus cavatis offertur, impigre vel usque Spoletium pergunt. Haec nobilium sunt instituta.

Ex turba vero imae sortis et paupertinae, in tabernis aliqui pernoctant vinariis, non nulli sub velabris umbraculorum theatralium latent, quae, Campanam imitatus lasciviam, Catulus in aedilitate sua suspendit omnium primus; aut pugnaciter aleis certant, turpi sono fragosis naribus introrsum reducto spiritu concrepantes; aut quod est studiorum omnium maximum ab ortu lucis ad vesperam sole fatiscunt vel pluviis, per minutias aurigarum equorumque praecipua vel delicta scrutantes.

Et est admodum mirum videre plebem innumeram, mentibus ardore quodam infuso, e dimicationum curulium eventu pendentem. Haec similiaque memorabile nihil vel serium agi Romae permittunt. Ergo redeundum ad textum.

Image taken from this blog

A Rich Man’s Plague from Kisses

Pliny, Natural History, 26 3 (Full text on the Scaife Viewer)

“This plague didn’t exist among our ancestors. It first invaded Italy during the principate of Tiberius Claudius when some Roman knight from Perusia, secretary to a quaestor, brought the infection with him after he had been serving in Asia Minor. Women, enslaved people, and those of the low or humble classes tend not to get this disease, but it spreads quickly through nobles thanks to a brief kiss. Many of those who endured the medicine for the sickness handled the scar more foully than the disease. It was cured by burning treatments and the symptom would return unless the flesh was burned up almost to the bone in that spot.

Many physicians came from Egypt—that parent of these kinds of blights—in order to dedicate themselves to this work only, gaining a considerable profit, since it is true that Manilius Cornutus, a man of praetorian rank and legate in Aquitania, paid two hundred thousand for the treatment of his disease.

It does often happen, however, that new kinds of diseases are experienced en masse. What discovery would be more surprising? Some afflictions appear in a certain part of the world and attack certain body parts or people of specific ages or stations—as if a sickness were selective—one harming children, another adults, this one for the nobles, and that one for the poor.”

III. Non fuerat haec lues apud maiores patresque nostros, et primum Ti. Claudi Caesaris principatu medio inrepsit in Italiam quodam Perusino equite Romano quaestorio scriba, cum in Asia adparuisset, inde contagionem eius inportante. nec sensere id malum feminae aut servitia plebesque humilis aut media, sed proceres veloci transitu osculi maxime, foediore multorum qui perpeti medicinam toleraverant cicatrice quam morbo. causticis namque curabatur, ni usque in ossa corpus exustum esset, rebellante taedio. adveneruntque ex Aegypto genetrice talium vitiorum medici hanc solam operam adferentes magna sua praeda, siquidem certum est Manilium Cornutum e praetoriis legatum Aquitanicae provinciae HS CC elocasse in eo morbo curandum sese. acciditque contra saepius ut nova genera morborum gregatim sentirentur. quo mirabilius quid potest reperiri? aliqua gigni repente vitia terrarum in parte certa membrisque hominum certis vel aetatibus aut etiam fortunis, tamquam malo eligente, haec in pueris grassari, illa in adultis, haec proceres sentire, illa pauperes?

Roman Emperor Trajan making offerings to Egyptian Gods, on the Roman Mammisi at the Dendera Temple complex, Egypt

A Rich Man’s Plague from Kisses

Pliny, Natural History, 26 3 (Full text on the Scaife Viewer)

“This plague didn’t exist among our ancestors. It first invaded Italy during the principate of Tiberius Claudius when some Roman knight from Perusia, secretary to a quaestor, brought the infection with him after he had been serving in Asia Minor. Women, enslaved people, and those of the low or humble classes tend not to get this disease, but it spreads quickly through nobles thanks to a brief kiss. Many of those who endured the medicine for the sickness handled the scar more foully than the disease. It was cured by burning treatments and the symptom would return unless the flesh was burned up almost to the bone in that spot.

Many physicians came from Egypt—that parent of these kinds of blights—in order to dedicate themselves to this work only, gaining a considerable profit, since it is true that Manilius Cornutus, a man of praetorian rank and legate in Aquitania, paid two hundred thousand for the treatment of his disease.

It does often happen, however, that new kinds of diseases are experienced en masse. What discovery would be more surprising? Some afflictions appear in a certain part of the world and attack certain body parts or people of specific ages or stations—as if a sickness were selective—one harming children, another adults, this one for the nobles, and that one for the poor.”

III. Non fuerat haec lues apud maiores patresque nostros, et primum Ti. Claudi Caesaris principatu medio inrepsit in Italiam quodam Perusino equite Romano quaestorio scriba, cum in Asia adparuisset, inde contagionem eius inportante. nec sensere id malum feminae aut servitia plebesque humilis aut media, sed proceres veloci transitu osculi maxime, foediore multorum qui perpeti medicinam toleraverant cicatrice quam morbo. causticis namque curabatur, ni usque in ossa corpus exustum esset, rebellante taedio. adveneruntque ex Aegypto genetrice talium vitiorum medici hanc solam operam adferentes magna sua praeda, siquidem certum est Manilium Cornutum e praetoriis legatum Aquitanicae provinciae HS CC elocasse in eo morbo curandum sese. acciditque contra saepius ut nova genera morborum gregatim sentirentur. quo mirabilius quid potest reperiri? aliqua gigni repente vitia terrarum in parte certa membrisque hominum certis vel aetatibus aut etiam fortunis, tamquam malo eligente, haec in pueris grassari, illa in adultis, haec proceres sentire, illa pauperes?

Roman Emperor Trajan making offerings to Egyptian Gods, on the Roman Mammisi at the Dendera Temple complex, Egypt

The Sorrow of Times Like These

Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 6.1230-1251

“This thing alone had to be mourned the most,
This lamented: how when anyone would give up
when they realized they had contracted the disease
As condemned to die, they would stretch out with a sad heart,
Surrendering their spirit while considering the rites of the dead.

For the spread of that greedy sickness did not stop
Even for a single moment from one to another,
Thick together as woolly flocks and horned heads—
That’s the reason why grave was piling on grave.
Whoever was reluctant to see their own sick,
For this very excessive love of life and fear of death
They were punished eventually with a foul and evil end,
As deserters without help, paid back for their neglect.

But those who stayed to help faced contagion too,
And the suffering which shame compelled them to meet.
The pleading voice of the weary mixed with cries of complaint.
Well, the best kinds of souls met death like this.

…Then some falling upon others, fighting to bury their masses
Of dead, worn out by tears and grief as they returned.
They surrendered to their beds for the better part.

No one could be found anywhere who was untouched by the disease
By the death, by the sorrow of times like these.”

Illud in his rebus miserandum magnopere unum
aerumnabile erat, quod ubi se quisque videbat
implicitum morbo, morti damnatus ut esset,
deficiens animo maesto cum corde iacebat,
funera respectans animam amittebat ibidem.

quippe etenim nullo cessabant tempore apisci
ex aliis alios avidi contagia morbi,
lanigeras tamquam pecudes et bucera saecla;
idque vel in primis cumulabat funere funus.
nam quicumque suos fugitabant visere ad aegros,
vitai nimium cupidos mortisque timentis
poenibat paulo post turpi morte malaque,
desertos, opis expertis, incuria mactans.

qui fuerant autem praesto, contagibus ibant
atque labore, pudor quem tum cogebat obire
blandaque lassorum vox mixta voce querellae.
optimus hoc leti genus ergo quisque subibat.
. . . . . . .
inque aliis alium, populum sepelire suorum
certantes; lacrimis lassi luctuque redibant;
inde bonam partem in lectum maerore dabantur.
nec poterat quisquam reperiri, quem neque morbus
nec mors nec luctus temptaret tempore tali.

 

Palermo-trionfo-della-morte-bjs.jpg
Triumph of Death Fresco, Palermo
File:Follower of Jheronimus Bosch - The Harrowing of Hell.jpg
“The Harrowing of Hell” Hieronymus Bosch

Avoiding Viruses and Playing Games in Rome

Ammianus Marcellinus, Constantius and Gallus 23-25

And since, as is natural in the world capital, the harsh diseases overpower so intensely that the profession of healing fails at treating them, the plan for safely is that no one will go to see a friend who suffers some disease like this. And some more cautious people add another salubrious remedy to this: slaves who have been sent to ask about the health of someone related to people who have this sickness are not allowed to enter the home before they have cleansed their body with a bath. This is how much they fear a sickness seen by other people.

But even when these practices are rather consistently performed, there are some people who, if they are invited to a wedding where gold might be offered to their open right hands, will run all the way to the Spoletium struggling, even though the strength of their limbs is weak from sickness.

But the mass of the poorest and lowest born people: some of them spend their entire nights in bars while some others haunt the shadows of the theater-awnings which Catullus during his aedileship was the first of all to have suspended as he emulated that Campanian corruption. Some of them play dice violently, sounding out foully when they draw air rapidly into their quivering nostrils; or, that thing they like most of all: they stand with their mouths agape from dawn to dusk in rain or shine analyzing the details of charioteers and the strengths and weaknesses of their horses.

And it is completely a surprise to see an uncountable crowd of plebians with a burning passion in their minds, hanging on what happens in the chariot races. These things and those like them allow nothing serious to happen at Rome.”

Et quoniam apud eos, ut in capite mundi, morborum acerbitates celsius dominantur, ad quos vel sedandos omnis professio medendi torpescit, excogitatum est adminiculum sospitale, nequi amicum perferentem similia videat, additumque est cautioribus paucis remedium aliud satis validum, ut famulos percontatum missos quem ad modum valeant noti hac aegritudine colligati, non ante recipiant domum, quam lavacro purgaverint corpus. Ita etiam alienis oculis visa metuitur Iabes.

Sed tamen haec cum ita tutius observentur, quidam vigore artuum imminuto, rogati ad nuptias, ubi aurum dextris manibus cavatis offertur, impigre vel usque Spoletium pergunt. Haec nobilium sunt instituta.

Ex turba vero imae sortis et paupertinae, in tabernis aliqui pernoctant vinariis, non nulli sub velabris umbraculorum theatralium latent, quae, Campanam imitatus lasciviam, Catulus in aedilitate sua suspendit omnium primus; aut pugnaciter aleis certant, turpi sono fragosis naribus introrsum reducto spiritu concrepantes; aut quod est studiorum omnium maximum ab ortu lucis ad vesperam sole fatiscunt vel pluviis, per minutias aurigarum equorumque praecipua vel delicta scrutantes.

Et est admodum mirum videre plebem innumeram, mentibus ardore quodam infuso, e dimicationum curulium eventu pendentem. Haec similiaque memorabile nihil vel serium agi Romae permittunt. Ergo redeundum ad textum.

Image taken from this blog

Named for the Sound of Our Screams

I have been seeing this sign lately. EEE stands for Eastern Equine Encephalitis, which sounds terrifying. The acronym is, coincidentally, the sound I make when I read about it. This, of course, made me think of the Homeric name for Circe’s Island, Aiaia.

Image result for road sign EEE

Schol. PQV ad Hom. Od. 9.32

“Aiaiê: A name from the Tyrrheanian Island, Aiaia, or, a Kolkhian one. For Aiaia is a city in Kolkhis.”

Αἰαίη] ἐξ Αἰαίης νήσου τῆς Τυρρηνίας, ἢ Κολχικῆς. Αἰαία γὰρ πόλις τῆς Κολχίδος

Schol. MS Barnes ad Od. 9.32

“But Aiaia is the name of Kirkê’s island which is near Hades and it comes from the moaning of the people on it, from the lamenting utterance “ai, ai”.

νῦν δὲ Αἰαία ἐστὶν ἡ τῆς Κίρκης νῆσος ἡ πλησίον τοῦ ῞Αιδου οὖσα ἀπὸ τῶν στεναγμάτων τῶν ἐν αὐτῷ, παρὰ τὸ αἲ αἲ θρηνητικὸν ἐπίρρημα.

Schol. E Ad. Od. 9.32

“Aiaiê, a daughter of Aiêtês. Or she is being honored from the Aiaian land. It is a city in Kolkhis.”

Αἰαίη] τοῦ Αἰήτου θυγάτηρ. ἢ ἀπὸ Αἰαίας χώρας τιμωμένη. ἔστι δὲ πόλις Κολχίας.

Hesychius

“Aiaiê: The island which Kirkê inhabits. And Kirkê herself receives the nickname the “tricky Aiaian”. This is probably an ethnic name from the Island. The word is made from the “ai ai” mourners utter, since this was how the men lamented when they were slaughtered by the Laistrygonians. Or the name comes from the rightful mourning of those men who were turned into beasts.”

Αἰαίη· ἡ νῆσος, ἣν κατῴκει ἡ Κίρκη. καὶ αὐτὴ ἡ Κίρκη ὁμώνυμος·  Αἰαίη δολόεσσα (ι 32) ‖ ἢ ἐθνική, ἀπὸ τῆς νήσου. τὸ ὄνομα δὲ πεποιημένον παρὰ τὸ αἲ αἲ τοὺς θρηνοῦντας φθέγγεσθαι, ἤτοι <οὕτως> τοὺς [ὑπὸ τῶν] παρὰ τοῖς Λαιστρυγόσιν ἀναιρεθέντας θρηνεῖσθαι. ἢ διὰ τὸ ἀξίαν εἶναι θρήνου τὴν τῶν μεταμορφουμένων ἀποθηρίωσιν

I have not seen any convincing modern updates, but if one shows up I will add it:

beekes motherbeekes

Happy As a Man Relieved of Disease

Homer, Odyssey 5.388-399

“Then for two days and two nights he was tossed about
On the swollen wave, and often his heart was expecting destruction.
But when well-tressed Dawn rose on the third day
And the wind stopped as a windless peace overtook the sea,
Then as he scanned sharply around he saw land so near
On the horizon as he was lifted by a great wave.

Then, just as welcome as the life of a father appears
To his children when he has been stretched out sick suffering strong pains,
Worn down for a long time—and some hateful god afflicts him,
And it so welcome when the gods relieve him of this evil,
That’s how welcome the sight of the land and forest was to Odysseus.
And he swam, struggling to reach the shore with his feet.”

ἔνθα δύω νύκτας δύο τ’ ἤματα κύματι πηγῷ
πλάζετο, πολλὰ δέ οἱ κραδίη προτιόσσετ’ ὄλεθρον.
ἀλλ’ ὅτε δὴ τρίτον ἦμαρ ἐϋπλόκαμος τέλεσ’ ᾿Ηώς,
καὶ τότ’ ἔπειτ’ ἄνεμος μὲν ἐπαύσατο ἠδὲ γαλήνη
ἔπλετο νηνεμίη· ὁ δ’ ἄρα σχεδὸν εἴσιδε γαῖαν
ὀξὺ μάλα προϊδών, μεγάλου ὑπὸ κύματος ἀρθείς.
ὡς δ’ ὅτ’ ἂν ἀσπάσιος βίοτος παίδεσσι φανήῃ
πατρός, ὃς ἐν νούσῳ κεῖται κρατέρ’ ἄλγεα πάσχων,
δηρὸν τηκόμενος, στυγερὸς δέ οἱ ἔχραε δαίμων,
ἀσπάσιον δ’ ἄρα τόν γε θεοὶ κακότητος ἔλυσαν,
ὣς ᾿Οδυσῆ’ ἀσπαστὸν ἐείσατο γαῖα καὶ ὕλη,
νῆχε δ’ ἐπειγόμενος ποσὶν ἠπείρου ἐπιβῆναι.

Schol. PQ 5.394

“The poet furnishes the most noble examples using [stories of parents] for  how it is right to act toward parents. Also in the Iliad: “they say that Menoitios still lives, and Peleus Aiakidês lives among the Myrmidons, and we have grief for both of them especially.”

ὡς δ’ ὅταν ἀσπάσιος] κάλλιστα παραδείγματα παρὰ γονέων χρηστῶς ἐκτίθεται ὁ ποιητὴς παιδεύων, πῶς ἔχειν πρὸς γονέας δίκαιον· καὶ “ζώειν μὰν ἔτι φασὶ Μενοίτιον, ζώει δ’ Αἰακίδης Πηλεὺς μετὰ Μυρμιδόνεσσι, τῶν κε μάλ’ ἀμφοτέρων ἀκαχοίμεθα” (Il. π,
14.). P.Q.

Schol. PQ ad. Od. 5.398

“When he was wasting away with Kalypso, [Odysseus] was longing for Ithaka, but now that he is in the sea he doesn’t long to find the city, but only the dry substance itself.”

ἀσπαστὸν ἐείσατο γαῖα] παρὰ Καλυψοῖ μὲν διατρίβων ᾿Ιθάκην ποθεῖ, ἐν θαλάττῃ δ’ ὢν οὐχ ὅπως πόλιν, ἀλλ’ αὐτὴν μόνην τὴν ξηρὰν οὐσίαν. P.Q.

Jan Styka - Goddess Calypso promises immortality to Odysseus. Tags: odysseus, ulysses, odyssey, calypso, kalypso,
Jan Styka, Calypso Offering Odysseus Immortality