The Ideal Friend According to Ennius

Gellius, Attic Nights 12.4

“Some verses are quoted from the seventh book of Quintus Ennius’ Annals in which the character and behavior of a lower ranked man towards a socially superior friend is depicted and defined”

In the seventh book of the Annals we find Quintus Ennius  clearly and learnedly describing and defining in the story of Geminius Servilius, a nobleman, with what character, attitude, humility, trust, control over speech, context for speaking, with which knowledge of ancient things and old and new manners, with how much effort for guarding secret belief, and what kinds of treatments there are against the annoyances of life which are necessary aids for a friend of a man who is superior by birth and fortune to have.

I judge these verses to be no less worthy of frequent and constant remembrance than the philosophers’ sayings about responsibilities. In addition to this, the savor of antiquity in these verses must be so revered, its sweetness is so simple and removed from every kind of contamination, that my belief is that they must be remembered, and considered, and cultivated in the place just as ancient and sacred laws of friendship

Versus accepti ex Q. Enni septimo Annalium, quibus depingitur finiturque ingenium comitasque hominis minoris erga amicum superiorem.

Descriptum definitumque est a Quinto Ennio in Annaliseptimo graphice admodum sciteque sub historia Gemini Servili, viri nobilis, quo ingenio, qua comitate, qua modestia, qua fide, qua linguae parsimonia, qua loquendi opportunitate, quanta rerum antiquarum morumque veterum ac novorum scientia quantaque servandi tuendique secreti religione, qualibus denique ad muniendas vitae molestias fomentis,
levamentis, solacis amicum esse conveniat hominis genere et fortuna superioris.

Eos ego versus non minus frequenti adsiduoque memoratu dignos puto quam philosophorum de officiis decreta. Ad hoc color quidam vestustatis in his versibus tam reverendus est, suavitas tam inpromisca tamque a fuco omni remota est, ut mea quidem sententia pro antiquis sacratisque amicitiae legibus observandi, tenendi colendique sint. Quapropter adscribendos eos existimavi, si quis iam statim desideraret:

Ennius, Annals 7 fr.12

Once he said these things, he calls for a man with whom he often, happily, and freely
Shared a table and conversations about his own private affairs
When he found himself worn thin after the greater part of the day
From ruling the most important affairs of the state:
Advice grated in the form and in the sacred Senate.
To this man he would speak boldly on matters small and great
And tell jokes and empty himself of evil and good concerns
Through speech if he wanted to and know they are safe.
This man with whom he shares much pleasure
Communicating both secret and public joys
Whose nature no mere saying of evil sways
So that he might commit a lightly considered or evil deed.
A learned, trusty, kind, pleasurable, happy man content with his life,
Understanding, offering the right word at the right time,
Friendly but of few words, possessing much knowledge of antiquity
Buried by time, mastering customs new and old
The laws of many gods and men of antiquity,
A wise man, who can speak or be silent on what has been spoken.
In the middle of the fight Servilius addresses this man.

They claim that Lucius Aelius Stilo used to say that Ennius composed these words about him and that this was actually the detail of Ennius’ own character and customs.”

Haece locutus vocat quocum bene saepe libenter
Mensam sermonesque suos rerumque suarum
Comiter inpertit, magnam cum lassus diei
Partem fuisset, de summis rebus regundis
Consilio indu foro lato sanctoque senatu;
Cui res audacter magnas parvasque iocumque
Eloqueretur sed cura malaque et bona dictu
Evomeret, si qui vellet, tutoque locaret,
Quocum multa volup ac gaudia clamque
palamque;
Ingenium cui nulla malum sententia suadet
Ut faceret facinus levis aut malus; doctus, fidelis,
Suavis homo, facundus, suo contentus, beatus,
Scitus, secunda loquens in tempore, commodus,
verbum
Paucum, multa tenens antiqua sepulta, vetustas
Quem facit et mores veteresque novosque tenentem,
Multorum veterum leges divumque hominumque;
Prudenter qui dicta loquive tacereve posset;
Hunc inter pugnas conpellat Servilius sic.

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Ennius from Wikipedia

Worthless Minds and Secret Thoughts: More Excerpts from Theognis

Theognis, Elegies, 69-70

“Kurnos, never place your trust in or make plans with an evil man,
whenever you want to accomplish something that matters”

μήποτε, Κύρνε, κακῷ πίσυνος βούλευε σὺν ἀνδρί,
εὖτ᾿ ἂν σπουδαῖον πρῆγμ᾿ ἐθέλῃς τελέσαι

161-164

“Many people have worthless minds but enjoy good luck
And what seems like misfortune ends up good.
And there are others of good council who have wretched luck
and success never accompanies their deeds.”

Πολλοί τοι χρῶνται δειλαῖς φρεσί, δαίμονι δ’ ἐσθλῶι,
οἷς τὸ κακὸν δοκέον γίνεται εἰς ἀγαθόν.
εἰσὶν δ’ οἳ βουλῆι τ’ ἀγαθῆι καὶ δαίμονι δειλῶι
μοχθίζουσι, τέλος δ’ ἔργμασιν οὐχ ἕπεται.

897-900

“Kurnos, if a god got angry at mortal men
Because he knew every kind of thought each one has,
The deeds conceived in the minds of both just
And unjust, there would be great suffering for mortals.”

Κύρν᾿, εἰ πάντ᾿ ἄνδρεσσι καταθνητοῖς χαλέπαινεν
γινώσκων θεὸς νοῦν οἷον ἑκαστος ἔχει
αὐτὸς ἐνὶ στήθεσσι καὶ ἔργματα τῶν τε δικαίων
τῶν τ᾿ ἀδίκων, μέγα κεν πῆμα βροτοῖσιν ἐπῆν.

1151–52

“Never dismiss a present friend and seek another
Because you are persuaded by the words of cowardly people.”

μήποτε τὸν παρεόντα μεθεὶς φίλον ἄλλον ἐρεύνα
δειλῶν ἀνθρώπων ῥήμασι πειθόμενος.

Morgan Library:
MS M.43 fol. 20v

 

Everyone Is Devious; Some People are Just Bad (More Theognis)

Theognis, 221-226

“Whoever believes that his neighbor knows nothing
And he alone forms clever plans,
That guy is a fool with an impaired mind.
For we all equally think of clever things,
But where one man is not willing to seek evil profit,
Another is pleased by deceptive plots.”

ὅστις τοι δοκέει τὸν πλησίον ἴδμεναι οὐδέν,
ἀλλ᾿ αὐτὸς μοῦνος ποικίλα δήνε᾿ ἔχειν,
κεῖνός γ᾿ ἄφρων ἐστί, νόου βεβλαμμένος ἐσθλοῦ·
ἴσως γὰρ πάντες ποικίλ᾿ ἐπιστάμεθα·
ἀλλ᾿ ὁ μὲν οὐκ ἐθέλει κακοκερδείῃσιν ἕπεσθαι,
τῷ δὲ δολοπλοκίαι μᾶλλον ἄπιστοι ἅδον.

Fragmentary Friday: Theognis on Friendship

Theognis, 93-100

“If someone praises you for as long as you see him
But lashes you with an evil tongue when you are apart,
That kind of man is not a very good friend at all.
He’s the kind who speaks smoothly with his tongue, but harbors different thoughts.

Let me have that kind of friend who knows his companion
And puts up with him when he’s mean or in a rage,
Like a brother. But you, friend, keep these things your heart
And you will remember me in future days.”

ἄν τις ἐπαινήσῃ σε τόσον χρόνον ὅσσον ὁρῴης,
νοσφισθεὶς δ᾿ ἄλλῃ γλῶσσαν ἱῇσι κακήν,
τοιοῦτός τοι ἑταῖρος ἀνὴρ φίλος οὔ τι μάλ᾿ἐσθλός.
ὅς κ᾿ εἴπῃ γλώσσῃ λεῖα, φρονῇ δ᾿ ἕτερα.
ἀλλ᾿ εἴη τοιοῦτος ἐμοὶ φίλος, ὃς τὸν ἑταῖρον
γινώσκων ὀργὴν καὶ βαρὺν ὄντα φέρει
ἀντὶ κασιγνήτου. σὺ δέ μοι, φίλε, ταῦτ᾿ ἐνὶ θυμῷ
φράζεο, καί ποτέ μου μνήσεαι ἐξοπίσω.

119-128

“One can survive the ruin from counterfeit silver and gold
Kurnos—and a wise person can easily discover it.
But if a dear friend’s mind is hidden in his chest
When he is false and he has a deceptive heart,
Well this the most counterfeit thing god has made for mortals
And it is the most painful thing of all to recognize.
For you cannot know the mind of a man or a woman
Before you investigate them, like an animal under a yoke—
And you cannot imagine what they are like at the right time
Since the outer image often misleads your judgment.”

Χρυσοῦ κιβδήλοιο καὶ ἀργύρου ἀνσχετὸς ἄτη,
Κύρνε, καὶ ἐξευρεῖν ῥάιδιον ἀνδρὶ σοφῶι.
εἰ δὲ φίλου νόος ἀνδρὸς ἐνὶ στήθεσσι λελήθηι
ψυδρὸς ἐών, δόλιον δ’ ἐν φρεσὶν ἦτορ ἔχηι,
τοῦτο θεὸς κιβδηλότατον ποίησε βροτοῖσιν,
καὶ γνῶναι πάντων τοῦτ’ ἀνιηρότατον.
οὐδὲ γὰρ εἰδείης ἀνδρὸς νόον οὐδὲ γυναικός,
πρὶν πειρηθείης ὥσπερ ὑποζυγίου,
οὐδέ κεν εἰκάσσαις ὥσπερ ποτ’ ἐς ὥριον ἐλθών·
πολλάκι γὰρ γνώμην ἐξαπατῶσ’ ἰδέαι.

 

How to Break Up With a Friend

Theognis, Elegies 595-598

“Dude, let’s be friends with each other at a distance.
With the exception of wealth, there’s too much of any good thing.
But we can be friends for a long time, just spend time with different men
Who have a better grasp of your mind.”

ἄνθρωπ᾿, ἀλλήλοισιν ἀπόπροθεν ὦμεν ἑταῖροι·
πλὴν πλούτου παντὸς χρήματός ἐστι κόρος.
δὴν δὴ καὶ φίλοι ὦμεν· ἀτάρ τ᾿ ἄλλοισιν ὁμίλει
ἀνδράσιν, οἳ τὸν σὸν μᾶλλον ἴσασι νόον.

Death and Love from Friendship

Augustine, Confessions 4.8-9

“Certainly, the comfort of various friends used to repair and refresh me—friends whom I once loved in your place. This was an immense fiction and a long-lasting lie, the incitement of which in our ears made our mind corrupted. But my fiction would was not relenting even if some of my friends would die.

There were other things that attracted my mind more: conversation, laughter, doing each other favors, reading sweet-tongued books together, having fun, being serious, sometimes disagreeing without anger just as a people might do on his own and even mixing up our many agreements with occasional dissent. We get pain when some are absent only to receive them with joy as they return. By these kinds of signs coming from the heart of those who love and love in return, through their mouth, tongue, eyes and a thousand very grateful gestures,  fan the burning of our minds and  make one out of many.

This is what is loved in friends and what we love such that the human conscience—if it does not love what loves it back or if it does not return love when loved—seeks nothing from that source except for a sign of kindness. This is where grief comes from if someone dies—the shadows of sorrows—and when sweetness turns bitter a heart weighs heavy and the loss of the life of those who are dying is the death of those still alive.”

Maxime quippe me reparabant atque recreabant aliorum amicorum solacia, cum quibus amabam quod pro te amabam, et hoc erat ingens fabula et longum mendacium, cuius adulterina confricatione corrumpebatur mens nostra pruriens in auribus. sed illa mihi fabula non moriebatur, si quis amicorum meorum moreretur. alia erant quae in eis amplius capiebant animum, conloqui et conridere et vicissim benivole obsequi, simul legere libros dulciloquos, simul nugari et simul honestari, dissentire interdum sine odio tamquam ipse homo secum atque ipsa rarissima dissensione condire consensiones plurimas, docere aliquid invicem aut discere ab invicem, desiderare absentes cum molestia, suscipere venientes cum laetitia: his atque huius modi signis a corde amantium et redamantium procedentibus per os, per linguam, per oculos et mille motus gratissimos, quasi fomitibus conflare animos et ex pluribus unum facere.

 Hoc est quod diligitur in amicis, et sic diligitur ut rea sibi sit humana conscientia si non amaverit redamantem aut si amantem non redamaverit, nihil quaerens ex eius corpore praeter indicia benivolentiae. hinc ille luctus si quis moriatur, et tenebrae dolorum, et versa dulcedine in amaritudinem cor madidum, et ex amissa vita morientium mors viventium.

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Hot and cold bath Livre de la Vigne nostre Seigneur, France ca. 1450

Your Ignorance of My Suffering

Libanius, Letters 155

“You don’t know, dear Heortius, the number or the severity of the sicknesses which are assailing me nor how long this has plagued me. For you would not disregard sympathy and criticize me if you did. But ignorance is harmful to human beings everywhere and it has force you to accuse instead of console. I will not call you out for not knowing about my suffering.

But someone of those who easily criticize you might still say that you were ignorant because you failed to inquire and that you did not inquire because of antipathy, and by attracting a suspicion of arrogance to yourself you risk greater accusations. But I will not do this because I don’t think it is right to ruin a strong friendship through nonsense. But whenever something like this happens, once I search around or a likely cause for events, I make a defense to myself on others’ behalf.”

1. Οὐκ οἶσθα, ὦ φίλε Ἐόρτιε, τῶν προσβαλόντων μοι νοσημάτων οὔτε τὸ πλῆθος οὔτε τὸ μέγεθος οὔτ᾿ ἐφ᾿ ὅσον προῆλθε τοῦ χρόνου. οὐ γὰρ ἄν ποτε ὑπερβὰς τὸ συναλγεῖν ἐμέμφου. νῦν δὲ ἡ ἄγνοια πανταχοῦ τοῖς ἀνθρώποις βλαβερὸν καὶ δὴ καὶ σὲ κατηγορεῖν ἐπῆρεν ἀντὶ τοῦ παραμυθεῖσθαι. ἐγὼ δέ σοι οὐκ ἐγκαλῶ τὸ τὰς δυσκολίας ἡμῶν ἀγνοεῖν.

2. καίτοι φαίη τις ἂν τῶν ὥσπερ σὺ ῥᾳδίως ἐπιτιμώντων, ὡς ἀγνοεῖς μὲν τῷ μὴ πυνθάνεσθαι, οὐ πυνθάνῃ δὲ τῷ μισεῖν, καὶ οὕτως ἂν ὑπεροψίαν προφέρων αὐτὸς ἐνέχοιο μείζοσιν. ἐγὼ δὲ τοῦτο οὐ ποιήσω φιλίαν ἰσχυρὰν ὑβρίζειν οὐκ ἀξιῶν συκοφαντίᾳ. ἀλλ᾿ ὅταν τι γένηται τοιοῦτον, ζητήσας αἰτίαν τοῖς πράγμασιν ἐπιεικεστέραν οὕτω πρὸς ἐμαυτὸν ὑπὲρ ἐκείνων ἀπολογοῦμαι.

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Bibliothèque Municipale de Lyon, MS P.A. 78, Folio 36r

A Fine Poem on Friendship

Martial 12.40

“You lie, I trust you. You recite terrible poems, I praise them.
You sing, I sing. You drink, Pontilianus and I drink too.
You fart, I ignore it. You want to play a board game, I am defeated.
You do one thing without me, I’ll be quiet too.
You do no duty for me at all: You say, “when you’re dead”
I will take good care of you. I don’t want anything, but you can die.”

Mentiris: credo. recitas mala carmina: laudo.
cantas: canto. bibis, Pontiliane: bibo.
pedis: dissimulo. gemma vis ludere: vincor.
res una est sine me quam facis: et taceo.
nil tamen omnino praestas mihi. ‘mortuus’ inquis
‘accipiam bene te.’ nil volo: sed morere.

Cicero: I Need Nothing So Much as a Friend

Cicero can seem an insufferable windbag in some of his speeches–but some of his letters humanize him.

Cicero to Atticus 1.18 20 Jan 60

“Know that I need nothing so much as a person to whom I can explain the things I worry about, someone who cares about me, who is wise, to whom I may speak and fabricate nothing, lie about nothing, and hold nothing back.

My brother is away, the most honest and beloved man. Metellus is not a man but instead is “shore and air” and “only solitude”. You, moreover, who most wisely lightens by concern and anxiety of spirit with conversation and counsel, you are my companion in public affairs and my confidant in private matters, and who are usually a companion of all my speeches and plans, where are you? I am so completely isolated that I only have as much relaxation as those moments spend with my wife, my little girl and my sweetest Marcus.

For my ambitious and convenient friendships have a certain shine in public affairs, but they bear no domestic fruit. My home is so full with a crowd in the morning but when I go to the forum with flocks of friends, I can’t find a single person in the great crowd to share a joke with or to whisper familiarly.

This is why I am looking for you, why I miss you, and I am also now calling you home. Many things really trouble me and make me anxious—but these are things which I think I can get off my chest once I have your ears for a talk during a single walk.”

Nihil mihi nunc scito tam deesse quam hominem eum quocum omnia quae me cura aliqua adficiunt una communicem, qui me amet, qui sapiat, quicum ego cum loquar nihil fingam, nihil dissimulem, nihil obtegam. abest enim frater ἀϕελέστατος et amantissimus. †Metellus† non homo sed ‘litus atque aër’ et ‘solitudo me<r>a.’ tu autem qui saepissime curam et angorem animi mei sermone et consilio levasti tuo, qui mihi et in publica re socius et in privatis omnibus conscius et omnium meorum sermonum et consiliorum particeps esse soles, ubinam es? ita sum ab omnibus destitutus ut tantum requietis habeam quantum cum uxore et filiola et mellito Cicerone consumitur. nam illae ambitiosae nostrae fucosaeque amicitiae sunt in quodam splendore forensi, fructum domesticum non habent. itaque cum bene completa domus est tempore matutino, cum ad forum stipati gregibus amicorum descendimus, reperire ex magna turba neminem possumus quocum aut iocari libere aut suspirare familiariter possimus. qua re te exspectamus, te desideramus, te iam etiam arcessimus. multa sunt enim quae me sollicitant anguntque, quae mihi videor auris nactus tuas unius ambulationis sermone exhaurire posse.

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Books–Loyal, Forgiving Friends

Cicero, Letters to Friends 175 to Varro

“Know that since I got back to the city, I have renewed my relationships with my old friends—by which I mean my books. It is not as if I avoided their presence because I was judging them, but because they filled me with shame. For I believe that since I submitted myself to events with the most turbulent and faithless companions, I had insufficiently obeyed my books’ commands.

But they have pardoned me. They welcome me back into that ancient communion and they tell me that you were wiser than I was because you persisted in this practice. But this is how I have achieved an understanding with them and why I think I am right to hope that should I see you again it will be easy for me to manage whatever is happening and whatever threatens in the future.”

scito enim me, postea quam in urbem venerim, redisse cum veteribus amicis, id est cum libris nostris, in gratiam. etsi non idcirco eorum usum dimiseram quod iis suscenserem sed quod eorum me suppudebat; videbar enim mihi, cum me in res turbulentissimas infidelissimis sociis demi<si>ssem, praeceptis illorum non satis paruisse. ignoscunt mihi, revocant in consuetudinem pristinam teque, quod in ea permanseris, sapientiorem quam me dicunt fuisse. quam ob rem, quoniam placatis iis utor, videor sperare debere, si te viderim, et ea quae premant et ea quae impendeant me facile laturum.

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Why, Salvete Amici!

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