Knowledge, Cooperation, and the Common Good

Manilius, Astronomica 67-84

“Humanity waited, thunderstruck by the new light in the sky,
First grieving as it disappeared, then overjoyed at its return.
The human race was incapable of understanding the reasons
Why the sun rose so frequently once it sent the stars
In flight, why the length of days and nights was uncertain
And why the shadows changed too as the sun moved farther away.

Stubborn obsession had not yet taught humankind knowledge and skill
And the land was resting open at the hands of untrained farmers.
At that time gold was resting in untouched mountains
And the untroubled sea hid strange worlds—
For the human race did not dare to risk life
In the waves or wind—people believed that they did not know enough.

But the passage of long days sharpened mortal thought
And hard work produced invention for the miserable
Just as each person’s luck compelled him to turn to himself to make life better.
Then, they competed with each other once their interests were divided
And whatever wisdom practice found through testing,
They happily shared for the common good.”

et stupefacta novo pendebat lumine mundi,
tum velut amisso maerens, tum laeta renato,
surgentem neque enim totiens Titana fugatis
sideribus, variosque dies incertaque noctis
tempora nec similis umbras, iam sole regresso
iam propiore, suis poterat discernere causis.
necdum etiam doctas sollertia fecerat artes,
terraque sub rudibus cessabat vasta colonis;
tumque in desertis habitabat montibus aurum,
immotusque novos pontus subduxerat orbes,
nec vitam pelago nec ventis credere vota
audebant; se quisque satis novisse putabant.
sed cum longa dies acuit mortalia corda
et labor ingenium miseris dedit et sua quemque
advigilare sibi iussit fortuna premendo,
seducta in varias certarunt pectora curas
et, quodcumque sagax temptando repperit usus,
in commune bonum commentum laeta dederunt.

17th-century chart of the universe, with zodiac signs and the earth at the center
From Wikipedia. 17th-century depiction in Andreas Cellarius‘s Harmonia Macrocosmica.

Cicero on the “Unforgettable Ides of March”

Cicero, Letters to Atticus (14.4) 10 April 44

“But should all these things befall us, the Ides of March may console. Our heroes too accomplished most gloriously and magnificently everything it was in their power to do. For the rest, we need money and troops, neither of which we have.”

Sed omnia licet concurrant, Idus Martiae consolantur. nostri autem ἥρωες quod per ipsos confici potuit gloriosissime et magnificentissime confecerunt; reliquae res opes et copias desiderant, quas nullas habemus

 

Cicero, Letters to Brutus  I.15 (23) 14 July 43

“Therefore, come here, by the gods, as fast as possible; Convince yourself that it would do your country no greater good if you come quickly than you did on the Ides of March when you freed your fellow citizens from slavery.”

subveni igitur, per deos, idque quam primum, tibique persuade non te Idibus Martiis, quibus servitutem a tuis civibus depulisti, plus profuisse patriae quam, si mature veneris, profuturum.

 

Cicero, Letters to Brutus, 1.15 (23) July 43

“After the death of Caesar and your unforgettable Ides of March, Brutus, you will not have lost sight of the the fact that I said that one thing was overlooked by you—how much a storm loomed over the Republic. The greatest disease was warded off thanks to you—a great blight was cleansed from the Roman people—and you won immortal fame for your part. But the mechanism of monarchy fell then to Lepidus and Antonius—one of whom is more erratic, while the other is rather unclean—both fearing peace and ill-fit to idle time.”

Post interitum Caesaris et vestras memorabilis Idus Martias, Brute, quid ego praetermissum a vobis quantamque impendere rei publicae tempestatem dixerim non es oblitus. magna pestis erat depulsa per vos, magna populi Romani macula deleta, vobis vero parta divina gloria, sed instrumentum regni delatum ad Lepidum et Antonium, quorum alter inconstantior, alter impurior, uterque pacem metuens, inimicus otio.

Image result for Ancient Roman death of caesar
The death of Julius Caesar in the Roman Senate by Vincenzo Camuccini

 

“If it is a girl…”: A Letter about Child Exposure

This letter contains a reference to disposing of a female infant. 

P. Oxy. 120 (1st Century BCE) From Hilarion to Alis

“Hilarion sends sends many, many greetings to his sister along with my lady Berous and Apollonarion. Listen, we are still in Alexandria. Don’t worry about this—if they go home completely, I will stay in Alexandria. I am asking you and begging you to take care of the little child and when we are paid, I will send it to you right away. If you happen to be pregnant again, if it is a boy, leave it; if it is a girl, throw it out.

You have told Aphrodisias “don’t forget me.” How could I possibly forget you? Please, do not be worried….”

Ἱλαρίων{α} Ἄλιτι τῆι ἀδελφῇ πλεῖστα χαίρειν καὶ Βεροῦτι τῇ κυρίᾳ μου καὶ Ἀπολλωνάριν. γίνωσκε ὡς ἔτι καὶ νῦν ἐν Ἀλεξανδρέᾳ ᾿σμεν. μὴ ἀγωνιᾷς· ἐὰν ὅλως εἰσπορεύονται, ἐγὼ ἐν Ἀλεξανδρέᾳ μενῶ. ἐρωτῶ σε καὶ παρακαλῶ σε, ἐπιμελήθ<ητ>ι τῷ παιδίῳ καὶ ἐὰν εὐθὺς ὀψώνιον λάβωμεν ἀποστελῶ σε ἄνω. ἐὰν πολλὰ πολλῶν τέκῃς, ἐὰν ᾖ{ν} ἄρσενον, ἄφες, ἐὰν ᾖ{ν} θήλεα, ἔκβαλε. εἴρηκας δὲ Ἀφροδισιᾶτι ὅτι μή με ἐπιλάθῃς. πῶς δύναμαί σε ἐπιλαθεῖν; ἐρωτῶ σε οὖν ἵνα μὴ ἀγωνιάσῃς.

Image result for medieval manuscript childbirth
Walters Art Museum Illuminated Manuscripts · Osée et Gomer. Birth of Yizréel Cote : Français 10 , Fol. 444 Guiard

Tacitus on Germanic Standards for Women and Child-Rearing

Some of the rhetoric here seems a bit familiar…

Tacitus, Germania 19-20

In that country, no one finds vice amusing; nor is seducing or being seduced celebrated as a sign of the times. Even better are those communities where only virgins marry and a promise is made with the hope and vow of a wife. And so, they have only one husband just as each has one body and one life so that there may be no additional thought of it, no lingering desire, that they may not love the man so much as they love the marriage. It is considered a sin to limit the number of children or to eliminate the later born. There good customs are stronger than good laws.

There are children there naked and dirty in every house growing into the size of limbs and body at which we wonder. Each mother nourishes each child with her own breasts; they are not passed around to maids and nurses.”

nemo enim illic vitia ridet, nec corrumpere et corrumpi saeculum vocatur. melius quidem adhuc eae civitates, in quibus tantum virgines nubunt et cum spe votoque uxoris semel transigitur. sic unum accipiunt maritum quo modo unum corpus unamque vitam, ne ulla cogitatio ultra, ne longior cupiditas, ne tamquam maritum, sed tamquam matrimonium ament. numerum liberorum finire aut quemquam ex agnatis necare flagitium habetur, plusque ibi boni mores valent quam alibi bonae leges.In omni domo nudi ac sordidi in hos artus, in haec corpora, quae miramur, excrescunt. sua quemque mater uberibus alit, nec ancillis aut nutricibus delegantur.

Image result for medieval manuscript Tacitus germania

Rejoicing at the Death of a Tyrant

Suetonius, Divus Tiberius 75

“The people were so happy about his death that some people went around shouting after its announcement, “Tiberius into the Tiber!” while others prayed to the Earth and the divine Shades to give him no place in death except with the damned.

Others still were threatened his body with a hook and the Mourning Stairs, angered over the memory of recent cruelty: for the senate had decreed a stay of ten days for all condemned to execution. But that day came about for some when the news of Tiberius’ death surfaced. Although they were pleading for public help since no one could be approached and appealed to oppose their punishments now that Gaius was gone, the jailors strangled them and threw them out on the Mourning Stairs anyway, afraid of acting against the law. So hatred for the tyrant only increased since his brutality remained even after his death.”

LXXV. Morte eius ita laetatus est populus, ut ad primum nuntium discurrentes pars: “Tiberium in Tiberim!” clamitarent, pars Terram matrem deosque Manes orarent, ne mortuo sedem ullam nisi inter impios darent, alii uncum et Gemonias cadaveri minarentur, exacerbati super memoriam pristinae crudelitatis etiam recenti atrocitate. Nam cum senatus consulto cautum esset, ut poena damnatorum in decimum semper diem differretur, forte accidit ut quorundam supplicii dies is esset, quo nuntiatum de Tiberio erat. Hos implorantis hominum fidem, quia absente adhuc Gaio nemo exstabat qui adiri interpellarique posset, custodes, ne quid adversus constitutum facerent, strangulaverunt abieceruntque in Gemonias. Crevit igitur invidia, quasi etiam post mortem tyranni saevitia permanente

How To Be a Real Toady: Cleisophos and Philip

Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 6.248f-249A

“Satyrus writes in his Life of Philip: “When Philip lost his eye, Cleisophos followed him with the same eyed bandaged. And later, when Philip’s leg was wounded, Cleisophos accompanied the king, limping. And if Philip should ever find any food bitter, Cleisophos would squeeze his face together as if he were eating too!” In the land of Arabia, they used to do this sort of thing not for sake of flattery but according to polite custom: if one of the king’s limbs were wounded, they would act as if they suffered the same malady, although they also thought it was ridiculous to be eager to be buried with him when he died, they did not hold the same belief for emulating his suffering when he was wounded.”

Philip_II_of_Macedon

Σάτυρος δ’ ἐν τῷ Φιλίππου βίῳ (FHG III 161) ‘ὅτε, φησί, Φίλιππος τὸν ὀφθαλμὸν ἐξεκόπη συμπροῆλθεν αὐτῷ καὶ ὁ Κλείσοφος τελαμωνισθεὶς τὸν αὐτὸν ὀφθαλμόν. καὶ πάλιν ὅτε τὸ σκέλος ἐπηρώθη, σκάζων συνεξώδευε τῷ βασιλεῖ. καὶ εἴ ποτε δριμὺ προσφέροιτο τῶν ἐδεσμάτων ὁ Φίλιππος, αὐτὸς συνέστρεφε τὴν ὄψιν ὡς συνδαινύμενος’. ἐν δὲ τῇ ᾿Αράβων χώρᾳ οὐχ ὡς ἐν κολακείᾳ τοῦτ’ ἐποίουν, ἀλλὰ κατά τι νόμιμον, βασιλέως πηρωθέντος τι τῶν μελῶν συνυποκρίνεσθαι τὸ ὅμοιον πάθος, ἐπεὶ καὶ γέλοιον νομίζουσιν ἀποθανόντι μὲν αὐτῷ σπουδάζειν συγκατορύττεσθαι, πηρωθέντι δὲ μὴ χαρίζεσθαι τὴν ἴσην δόξαν τοῦ πάθους. Νικόλαος δ’ ὁ Δαμασκηνὸς

 

An Address to a Senator Upon His Return to the Government

Cicero, In Catilinam 1.16-17

“But what is this life of yours like now? I shall speak to you in this way so that I do not seem to be moved by hatred but by the pity which you have earned from no one.

A little while ago you entered the senate. Who from that great crowd of your many friends and companions hailed you? If this treatment has affected no other person in human memory, are you waiting for verbal abuse even though you have been rejected by the weightiest judgement of their silence?

What do you make of the fact that the seats emptied at your arrival, that all the former consuls who were signaled for death by you left their seats naked and abandoned when you sat down? With what feelings do you think you should accept this?”

Nunc vero quae tua est ista vita? Sic enim iam tecum loquar, non ut odio permotus esse videar, quo debeo, sed ut misericordia, quae tibi nulla debetur. Venisti paulo ante in senatum. Quis te ex hac tanta frequentia, tot ex tuis amicis ac necessariis salutavit? Si hoc post hominum memoriam contigit nemini, vocis exspectas contumeliam, cum sis gravissimo iudicio taciturnitatis oppressus? Quid, quod adventu tuo ista subsellia vacuefacta sunt, quod omnes consulares qui tibi persaepe ad caedem constituti fuerunt, simul atque adsedisti, partem istam subselliorum nudam atque inanem reliquerunt, quo tandem animo tibi ferendum putas?

Knowledge, Cooperation, and the Common Good

Manilius, Astronomica 67-84

“Humanity waited, thunderstruck by the new light in the sky,
First grieving as it disappeared, then overjoyed at its return.
The human race was incapable of understanding the reasons
Why the sun rose so frequently once it sent the stars
In flight, why the length of days and nights was uncertain
And why the shadows changed too as the sun moved farther away.

Stubborn obsession had not yet taught humankind knowledge and skill
And the land was resting open at the hands of untrained farmers.
At that time gold was resting in untouched mountains
And the untroubled sea hid strange worlds—
For the human race did not dare to risk life
In the waves or wind—people believed that they did not know enough.

But the passage of long days sharpened mortal thought
And hard work produced invention for the miserable
Just as each person’s luck compelled him to turn to himself to make life better.
Then, they competed with each other once their interests were divided
And whatever wisdom practice found through testing,
They happily shared for the common good.”

et stupefacta novo pendebat lumine mundi,
tum velut amisso maerens, tum laeta renato,
surgentem neque enim totiens Titana fugatis
sideribus, variosque dies incertaque noctis
tempora nec similis umbras, iam sole regresso
iam propiore, suis poterat discernere causis.
necdum etiam doctas sollertia fecerat artes,
terraque sub rudibus cessabat vasta colonis;
tumque in desertis habitabat montibus aurum,
immotusque novos pontus subduxerat orbes,
nec vitam pelago nec ventis credere vota
audebant; se quisque satis novisse putabant.
sed cum longa dies acuit mortalia corda
et labor ingenium miseris dedit et sua quemque
advigilare sibi iussit fortuna premendo,
seducta in varias certarunt pectora curas
et, quodcumque sagax temptando repperit usus,
in commune bonum commentum laeta dederunt.

17th-century chart of the universe, with zodiac signs and the earth at the center
From Wikipedia. 17th-century depiction in Andreas Cellarius‘s Harmonia Macrocosmica.

Traitors and Crowns

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 1068-1070

“I have learned to hate traitors
For there is no sickness
I reject greater than that”

τοὺς προδότας γὰρ μισεῖν ἔμαθον,
κοὐκ ἔστι νόσος
τῆσδ᾿ ἥντιν᾿ ἀπέπτυσα μᾶλλον.

Galen, Method of Medicine 1, 1 19k

“But what is this? For purse-snatchers envy purse-snatches and traitors envy traitors. It’s simple: there’s no person who does have some crowd ready to crown them.”

ἀλλὰ τί τοῦτο; καὶ γὰρ οἱ βαλαντιοτόμοι τὰ τῶν βαλαντιοτόμων ζηλοῦσι καὶ οἱ προδόται τὰ τῶν προδοτῶν καὶ οὐδείς ἐστιν ἁπλῶς ἄνθρωπος ὃς οὐκ ἂν σχοίη χορὸν οἰκεῖον ἐν ᾧ στεφθήσεται.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) gestures toward a crowd of supporters of President Donald Trump gathered outside the U.S. Capitol to protest the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral college victory Jan. 6, 2021 at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Some demonstrators later breached security and stormed the Capitol. (Francis Chung/E&E News and Politico via AP Images)

Warring Parts of the Soul: Some Fragments on Insurrection

Dio Chrysostom, The 24th Discourse

“If you think that they are harming you and started the insurrection and the chaos, you need to get rid of them completely and not allow them into the assemblies.”

οὓς εἰ μὲν οἴεσθε βλάπτειν ὑμᾶς καὶ στάσεως ἄρχειν καὶ ταραχῆς, ὅλως ἐχρῆν ἀπελάσαι καὶ μὴ παραδέχεσθαι ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις·

 

Pausanias, Corinth 33

“When everyone was a total insurrection in the city, people say that these women were killed by the opposing rebels and that today they have a festival for them called the Stoning.”

 στασιασάντων δὲ ὁμοίως τῶν ἐν τῇ πόλει ἁπάντων καὶ ταύτας φασὶν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀντιστασιωτῶν καταλευσθῆναι, καὶ ἑορτὴν ἄγουσί σφισι Λιθοβόλια ὀνομάζοντες

Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 4.64

“I’ll try to explain in brief who the leaders of the insurrection were and how they came to this point of affairs.”

οἵτινες δ᾿ ἦσαν οἱ τῆς ἐπαναστάσεως ἄρξαντες καὶ δι᾿ οἵων τρόπων ἦλθον ἐπὶ τὰ πράγματα, δι᾿ ὀλίγων πειράσομαι διελθεῖν.

Plato, Republic 4 444b

“I said—so be it, after that we need to examine injustice, I think.”

“Clearly”

“[Injustice], then, must be a kind of civil strife of those three pre-existing things: doing too much, overreaching into other people’s business, and insurrection of some part against the whole of the soul in order to take power that doesn’t belong to it even those that part’s nature is to serve the whole. Yeah, we would say these kinds of things I think and that when there is confusion or wandering in them we get injustice, loss of control, wickedness, ignorance, and, to put it briefly, every evil.”

Ἔστω δή, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ· μετὰ γὰρ τοῦτο σκεπτέον οἶμαι ἀδικίαν. |

Δῆλον.

Οὐκοῦν στάσιν τινὰ αὖ τριῶν ὄντων τούτων δεῖ αὐτὴν εἶναι καὶ πολυπραγμοσύνην καὶ ἀλλοτριοπραγμοσύνην καὶ ἐπανάστασιν μέρους τινὸς τῷ ὅλῳ τῆς ψυχῆς, ἵν’ ἄρχῃ ἐν αὐτῇ οὐ προσῆκον, ἀλλὰ τοιούτου ὄντος φύσει οἵου πρέπειν αὐτῷ δουλεύειν, †τοῦ δ’ αὖ δουλεύειν ἀρχικοῦ γένους ὄντι†;6 | τοιαῦτ’ ἄττα οἶμαι φήσομεν καὶ τὴν τούτων ταραχὴν καὶ πλάνην εἶναι τήν τε ἀδικίαν καὶ ἀκολασίαν καὶ δειλίαν καὶ ἀμαθίαν καὶ συλλήβδην πᾶσαν κακίαν.