Four Years of Presidential Memories: Some Latin Passages for a Crisis of State

Cicero, Pro Sulla 12

“The charge of participation in that conspiracy was defended by the very man who was part of it, who investigated it, and was a partner in your plans and your fear.”

Ergo istius coniurationis crimen defensum ab eo est qui interfuit, qui cognovit, qui particeps et consili vestri fuit et timoris;

Pseudo-Sallust, Against Cicero 3

“[A man who] counts the pain of the state as his own glory; as if, indeed, your consulate were not the reason for that conspiracy and through which the republic was torn apart when it possessed you as its protector.”

qui civitatis incommodum in gloriam suam ponit. quasi vero non illius coniurationis causa fuerit consulatus tuus et idcirco res publica disiecta eo tempore quo6 te custodem habebat.

Tacitus, Annales 1.2 (Suggested by S. A. Guerriero )

“After the public was disarmed by the murders of Brutus and Cassius, when Pompey had been defeated in Sicily, Lepidus discarded, and Antony had been killed, even the Julian party had Caesar as the remaining leader. Once he gave up the name of triumvir and was declaring himself a consul, happy to safeguard the common people with tribunal powers, he won over the army with payments, the people with food grants, and everyone else with pleasing peace. Then, bit by bit, he began to arrogate to himself the duties of the senate, the executive offices, and the law because there was no one opposing him since the boldest men had died either in battle or by proscription. The remaining nobles discovered themselves increased by honors and wealth as soon as they accepted servitude: they preferred the present safety to ancient dangers. The provinces too were not opposed to this state of affairs because the rule of the Senate and People there had been undermined by the struggles of the powerful and avarice of the officers against which there was the weak defense of laws which were corrupted by force, by nepotism and, finally, bribery.”

Postquam Bruto et Cassio caesis nulla iam publica arma, Pompeius apud Siciliam oppressus, exutoque Lepido, interfecto Antonio, ne Iulianis quidem partibus nisi Caesar dux reliquus, posito triumviri nomine, consulem se ferens et ad tuendam plebem tribunicio iure contentum, ubi militem donis, populum annona, cunctos dulcedine otii pellexit, insurgere paulatim, munia senatus, magistratuum, legum in se trahere, nullo adversante, cum ferocissimi per acies aut proscriptione cecidissent, ceteri nobilium, quanto quis servitio promptior, opibus et honoribus extollerentur ac novis ex rebus aucti, tuta et praesentia quam vetera et periculosa mallent. Neque provinciae illum rerum statum abnuebant, suspecto senatus populique imperio ob certamina potentium et avaritiam magistratuum, invalido legum auxilio, quae vi, ambitu, postremo pecunia turbabantur.

 

Some lighter fare
Horace Satire 1.9. 75-79 (Suggested by L. Manning)

“By chance I met up with my opponent
And he shouted loudly “Where are you going, criminal?
And also “May I call you to testify?” Then I
Incline my little ear and he rushes the man to court.
There is shouting and running about. And that’s how Apollo saved me.”

casu venit obvius illi
adversarius et ‘quo tu, turpissime?’ magna
inclamat voce, et ‘licet antestari?’ ego vero
oppono auriculam. rapit in ius; clamor utrimque,
undique concursus. sic me servavit Apollo.

Ovid, Tristia 2. 207-210 (Suggested by K. Durkin)

“Though two crimes—a song and a mistake—have destroyed me
I must be silent of my responsibility in the second
Since I am not worth enough to renew your wounds, Caesar,
And it is already too much that you’ve been hurt once,”

perdiderint cum me duo crimina, carmen et error,
alterius facti culpa silenda mihi:
nam non sum tanti, renovem ut tua vulnera, Caesar,
quem nimio plus est indoluisse semel.

A Little Scholarship is the Best Fortune

Anthony Trollope, Framley Parsonage chp. 22:

“Oh, yes, there is nothing here but this young gentleman’s library,”
said Lucy, moving a pile of ragged, coverless books on to the table.
“I hope he’ll forgive me for moving them.”

“They are not Bob’s,–at least, not the most of them,–but mine,”
said the girl.

“But some of them are mine,” said the boy; “ain’t they, Grace?”

“And are you a great scholar?” asked Lucy, drawing the child to her.

“I don’t know,” said Grace, with a sheepish face. “I am in Greek
Delectus and the irregular verbs.”

“Greek Delectus and the irregular verbs!” And Lucy put up her hands
with astonishment.

“And she knows an ode of Horace all by heart,” said Bob.

“An ode of Horace!” said Lucy, still holding the young shamefaced
female prodigy close to her knees.

“It is all that I can give them,” said Mr. Crawley, apologetically.
“A little scholarship is the only fortune that has come in my way,
and I endeavour to share that with my children.”

“I believe men say that it is the best fortune any of us can have,”
said Lucy, thinking, however, in her own mind, that Horace and the
irregular Greek verbs savoured too much of precocious forcing in a
young lady of nine years old.

Why Start In Medias Res? (Hint: Liars Do This…)

Homer, Odyssey 9.14–15

“What shall I say first and then last—
When the Ouranian gods have given me many pains?”

τί πρῶτόν τοι ἔπειτα, τί δ’ ὑστάτιον καταλέξω;
κήδε’ ἐπεί μοι πολλὰ δόσαν θεοὶ Οὐρανίωνες.

Schol. T ad Hom. Od. 9.14 ex 1-12

“This is how he increases attention by creating expectation, which is a device one might use in a proem. For it is necessary that he acquire the goodwill of his audience for himself and attention for his speech so that they might welcome him as he speaks and they might internalize the things he says of the deeds and they might learn in what way Odysseus handled [everything] in general as he both praises himself but also demonstrates the number and strangeness of his experiences—this clarifies his purpose, from where he was present, and what he wants. This is why he begins the material of the longer narrative with “bringing me from Troy….”

τί πρῶτόν τοι ἔπειτα] ὅσα αὔξει τὴν προσοχὴν, προσδοκίαν ἐμποιῶν, ὅπερ ἐστὶ τεχνικὸν ὡς ἐν προοιμίῳ· δεῖ γὰρ παρὰ τῶν ἀκουόντων ἑαυτῷ μὲν εὔνοιαν ἐπισπᾶσθαι, τῷ δὲ λόγῳ προσοχὴν, ἵνα τὸν μὲν λέγοντα ἀποδέξωνται, τῶν δὲ πραγμάτων ἐπιθυμήσωσι τὰ λεγόμενα καὶ μάθωσιν ὅπερ δι’ ὅλου κατώρθωκεν ᾿Οδυσσεὺς ἑαυτὸν μὲν ἐπαινέσας, τὸ δὲ πλῆθος καὶ τὴν καινότητα τῶν πραγμάτων ἐνδειξά-μενος δηλοῖ τὴν προαίρεσιν καὶ πόθεν παραγίνεται καὶ τί βούλεται, εἶθ’ οὕτως καὶ τὰ μείζονος διηγήσεως ἄρξηται “᾿Ιλιόθεν με φέρων” (39.). T.

Horace, Ars Poetica 148-149

“He always rushes to the action and steals
His audience to the story as if it is already known…”

semper ad eventum festinat et in medias res
non secus ac notas auditorem rapit

Dio Chrysostom, Oration 11.25-26

“For once he tried to describe the war which happened between the Achaians and Greeks, he did not begin from the beginning, but from wherever he chanced. This is what nearly all liars do, as they embellish and re-weave their tales, never wishing to speak in the order of events.

For, they are less than clear in this way; otherwise, they would be shown false by the tale itself. This can be seen happening now in the courts of law and other places where men lie with skill. But people who wish to show what has happened, as each thing occurred, report in this way: first thing first, second thing second and everything else in order.

This is one explanation for why Homer does not begin his poem naturally; another is that he wished to obscure the beginning and the end the most and to obtain the opposite belief about these things. This is why he does not dare to narrate the beginning and the end clearly, nor does he promise to say anything about them. If he does mention them at all it is in passing and brief and it his clear he is mixing it all up. For he does not dare nor was he able to address these things readily.

This is what happens with liars especially, when someone is saying many different things about a matter and going on about them, because they want to hide some part of it the most, they don’t speak in an organized way or appeal to their audience by ordering things in the same place but where they are most deceptive. This is because they are ashamed to lie and hesitate to proceed, especially when it is about something serious. For this reason, liars do not speak in a loud voice when they come to this moment. Some people stutter and speak unclearly; others act as if they don’t know the truth but heard this from others.

Whoever speaks something true does it fearing nothing. Nor then has Homer spoken about the abduction of Helen or even about the sack of the city simply or in a free manner. Instead, as I was saying, even though he was so very bold, he stumbled and swooned because he knew he was speaking the opposite to the truth and was lying about the very substance of his affair.”

Ἐπιχειρήσας γὰρ τὸν πόλεμον εἰπεῖν τὸν γενόμενον τοῖς Ἀχαιοῖς πρὸς τοὺς Τρῶας, οὐκ εὐθὺς ἤρξατο ἀπὸ τῆς ἀρχῆς, ἀλλ᾿ ὅθεν ἔτυχεν· ὃ ποιοῦσι πάντες οἱ ψευδόμενοι σχεδόν, ἐμπλέκοντες καὶ περιπλέκοντες καὶ οὐθὲν βουλόμενοι λέγειν ἐφεξῆς· ἧττον γὰρ κατάδηλοί εἰσιν· εἰ δὲ μή, ὑπ᾿ αὐτοῦ τοῦ πράγματος ἐξελέγχονται. τοῦτο δὲ ἰδεῖν ἔστι καὶ ἐν τοῖς δικαστηρίοις καὶ ἐν ἄλλοις γιγνόμενον οἳ μετὰ τέχνης ψεύδονται. οἱ δὲ βουλόμενοι τὰ γενόμενα ἐπιδεῖξαι, ὡς ξυνέβη ἕκαστον, οὕτως ἀπαγγέλλουσι, τὸ πρῶτον πρῶτον καὶ τὸ δεύτερον δεύτερον καὶ τἄλλα ἐφεξῆς ὁμοίως. ἓν μὲν τοῦτο αἴτιον τοῦ μὴ κατὰ φύσιν ἄρξασθαι τῆς ποιήσεως· ἕτερον δέ, ὅτι τὴν ἀρχὴν αὐτῆς καὶ τὸ τέλος μάλιστα ἐπεβούλευσεν ἀφανίσαι καὶ ποιῆσαι τὴν ἐναντίαν δόξαν ὑπὲρ αὐτῶν. ὅθεν οὔτε τὴν ἀρχὴν οὔτε τὸ τέλος ἐτόλμησεν εἰπεῖν ἐκ τοῦ εὐθέος, οὐδὲ ὑπέσχετο ὑπὲρ τούτων οὐδὲν ἐρεῖν, ἀλλ᾿ εἴ που καὶ μέμνηται, παρέργως καὶ βραχέως, καὶ δῆλός ἐστιν ἐπιταράττων· οὐ γὰρ ἐθάρρει πρὸς αὐτὰ οὐδὲ ἐδύνατο ἐρεῖν ἑτοίμως. συμβαίνει δὲ καὶ τοῦτο τοῖς ψευδομένοις ὡς τὸ πολύ γε, ἄλλα μέν τινα λέγειν τοῦ πράγματος καὶ διατρίβειν ἐπ᾿ αὐτοῖς, ὃ δ᾿ ἂν1 μάλιστα κρύψαι θέλωσιν, οὐ προτιθέμενοι λέγουσιν οὐδὲ προσέχοντι τῷ ἀκροατῇ, οὐδ᾿ ἐν τῇ αὑτοῦ2 χώρᾳ τιθέντες, ἀλλ᾿ ὡς ἂν λάθοι μάλιστα, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ὅτι αἰσχύνεσθαι ποιεῖ τὸ ψεῦδος καὶ ἀποκνεῖν προσιέναι πρὸς αὑτό, ἄλλως τε ὅταν ᾖ περὶ τῶν μεγίστων. ὅθεν οὐδὲ τῇ φωνῇ μέγα λέγουσιν οἱ ψευδόμενοι ὅταν ἐπὶ τοῦτο ἔλθωσιν· οἱ δέ τινες αὐτῶν βατταρίζουσι καὶ ἀσαφῶς λέγουσιν· οἱ δὲ οὐχ ὡς αὐτοί τι εἰδότες, ἀλλ᾿ ὡς ἑτέρων ἀκούσαντες. ὃς δ᾿ ἂν ἀληθὲς λέγῃ τι, θαρρῶν καὶ οὐδὲν ὑποστελλόμενος λέγει. οὔτε οὖν τὰ περὶ τὴν ἁρπαγὴν τῆς Ἑλένης Ὅμηρος εἴρηκεν ἐκ τοῦ εὐθέος οὐδὲ παρρησίαν ἄγων ἐπ᾿ αὐτοῖς οὔτε περὶ τῆς ἁλώσεως τῆς πόλεως. καίτοι γάρ, ὡς ἔφην, ἀνδρειότατος ὢν ὑποκατεκλίνετο καὶ ἡττᾶτο ὅτι ᾔδει τἀναντία λέγων τοῖς οὖσι καὶ τὸ κεφάλαιον αὐτὸ τοῦ πράγματος ψευδόμενος.

Image result for Medieval manuscript in medias res
Miniature of Sinon from the Vergilius Romanus. He was a liar too.

Some Latin Passages for a Crisis of State

Cicero, Pro Sulla 12

“The charge of participation in that conspiracy was defended by the very man who was part of it, who investigated it, and was a partner in your plans and your fear.”

Ergo istius coniurationis crimen defensum ab eo est qui interfuit, qui cognovit, qui particeps et consili vestri fuit et timoris;

Pseudo-Sallust, Against Cicero 3

“[A man who] counts the pain of the state as his own glory; as if, indeed, your consulate were not the reason for that conspiracy and through which the republic was torn apart when it possessed you as its protector.”

qui civitatis incommodum in gloriam suam ponit. quasi vero non illius coniurationis causa fuerit consulatus tuus et idcirco res publica disiecta eo tempore quo6 te custodem habebat.

Yesterday evening, I asked friends on Facebook to suggest passages to help frame the firing of FBI Director Comey

Tacitus, Annales 1.2 (Suggested by S. A. Guerriero )

“After the public was disarmed by the murders of Brutus and Cassius, when Pompey had been defeated in Sicily, Lepidus discarded, and Antony had been killed, even the Julian party had Caesar as the remaining leader. Once he gave up the name of triumvir and was declaring himself a consul, happy to safeguard the common people with tribunal powers, he won over the army with payments, the people with food grants, and everyone else with pleasing peace. Then, bit by bit, he began to arrogate to himself the duties of the senate, the executive offices, and the law because there was no one opposing him since the boldest men had died either in battle or by proscription. The remaining nobles discovered themselves increased by honors and wealth as soon as they accepted servitude: they preferred the present safety to ancient dangers. The provinces too were not opposed to this state of affairs because the rule of the Senate and People there had been undermined by the struggles of the powerful and avarice of the officers against which there was the weak defense of laws which were corrupted by force, by nepotism and, finally, bribery.”

Postquam Bruto et Cassio caesis nulla iam publica arma, Pompeius apud Siciliam oppressus, exutoque Lepido, interfecto Antonio, ne Iulianis quidem partibus nisi Caesar dux reliquus, posito triumviri nomine, consulem se ferens et ad tuendam plebem tribunicio iure contentum, ubi militem donis, populum annona, cunctos dulcedine otii pellexit, insurgere paulatim, munia senatus, magistratuum, legum in se trahere, nullo adversante, cum ferocissimi per acies aut proscriptione cecidissent, ceteri nobilium, quanto quis servitio promptior, opibus et honoribus extollerentur ac novis ex rebus aucti, tuta et praesentia quam vetera et periculosa mallent. Neque provinciae illum rerum statum abnuebant, suspecto senatus populique imperio ob certamina potentium et avaritiam magistratuum, invalido legum auxilio, quae vi, ambitu, postremo pecunia turbabantur.

Image result for Ancient Roman politics Augustus coin

Some lighter fare
Horace Satire 1.9. 75-79 (Suggested by L. Manning)

“By chance I met up with my opponent
And he shouted loudly “Where are you going, criminal?
And also “May I call you to testify?” Then I
Incline my little ear and he rushes the man to court.
There is shouting and running about. And that’s how Apollo saved me.”

casu venit obvius illi
adversarius et ‘quo tu, turpissime?’ magna
inclamat voce, et ‘licet antestari?’ ego vero
oppono auriculam. rapit in ius; clamor utrimque,
undique concursus. sic me servavit Apollo.

Ovid, Tristia 2. 207-210 (Suggested by K. Durkin)

“Though two crimes—a song and a mistake—have destroyed me
I must be silent of my responsibility in the second
Since I am not worth enough to renew your wounds, Caesar,
And it is already too much that you’ve been hurt once,”

perdiderint cum me duo crimina, carmen et error,
alterius facti culpa silenda mihi:
nam non sum tanti, renovem ut tua vulnera, Caesar,
quem nimio plus est indoluisse semel.

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Eternal Fame, or Specks of Gold in a Sh*theap? – Early Reception of Ennius

In response to a comment about Ennius’ reputation in Joel’s post from yesterday, I began to wonder about the reception of Ennius’ poems.  I remembered that Ennius was cited by practically every (surviving) Roman poet of the Golden Age, but  I could not recall a consistent portrait emerging from these references. The only anecdote which readily stuck in my mind was the one of Vergil, cited by Donatus and Cassiodorus, saying that he was “looking for gold in the shitheap of Ennius.” Yet this is a late reference, and likely a totally fabricated story. As such, I dug through all of the major surviving Roman poets of the 1st century BC for direct references to Ennius, in order to form some sort of rough sketch of Ennian reception at the time. I omitted any prose authors (especially Cicero) in order to keep the search limited to the manageable which seemed appropriate for slapdash online posting, but I may later delve deeper into the subject. For now, here is a brief summary of early Ennian reception:

One of the recurring themes among the poets who mention Ennius is his lack of art or technical skill. This may be readily attributed to the fact that he was, in effect, a pioneer of Latin versification; we ought not to be surprised if his compositions lack the polish of the later writers who took him to task for his roughness:

And as grave Ennius sang of Mars with his own style – Ennius, the greatest in talent, but wanting in art.

utque suo Martem cecinit grauis Ennius ore,
Ennius ingenio maximus, arte rudis:
Ovid, Tristia II

The work which you ask for is a mortal thing, but I am seeking eternal fame, that my praises might be sung the world over. Homer will live on, while Tenedos and Ida still stand, while the Simois churns its rapid waters into the sea. Hesiod, too, will live, while the grapes teem with must and Ceres falls when cut by curved sickle. Callimachus will always be sung all over the world, though more for his skill than his native talent. No loss will ever befall the Sophoclean buskin; Aratus will last as long as the sun and moon. As long as there be a lying slave, a harsh father, a saucy madam and a pleasing prostitute, Menander will live on; Ennius, lacking art, and windy-mouthed Accius have a name that will die in no age.

Mortale est, quod quaeris, opus. mihi fama perennis
    quaeritur, in toto semper ut orbe canar.
vivet Maeonides, Tenedos dum stabit et Ide,
    dum rapidas Simois in mare volvet aquas;               10
vivet et Ascraeus, dum mustis uva tumebit,
    dum cadet incurva falce resecta Ceres.
Battiades semper toto cantabitur orbe;
    quamvis ingenio non valet, arte valet.
nulla Sophocleo veniet iactura cothurno;               15
    cum sole et luna semper Aratus erit;
dum fallax servus, durus pater, inproba lena
    vivent et meretrix blanda, Menandros erit;
Ennius arte carens animosique Accius oris
    casurum nullo tempore nomen habent.      

Ovid, Amores 1.15.7-20

This appears rarely in the noble trimeters of Accius, and presses upon the verses of Ennius, sent onto the stage with a great weight, with the shameful fault either of hasty workmanship lacking art, or lack of technical skill.

…Hic et in Acci
nobilibus trimetris adparet rarus, et Enni
in scaenam missos cum magno pondere uersus               260
aut operae celeris nimium curaque carentis
aut ignoratae premit artis crimine turpi.

Horace, Ars Poetica 258-262

Propertius in particular seems to focus on the gravity of Ennius as a foil to his own image as the Roman Callimachus in search of softer themes and softer expression. Yet, this impression of gravity which is attributed to him by Propertius is undercut by a note of Horace:

I dreamt that I reclined in the gentle shade of Helicon, where the water of Bellerophon’s horse did flow, and that I could sing, O Alba, your kings and deeds – ah, such a work! – with my instruments. I had brought my tiny mouth to those grand founts (from whence thirsty Ennius once drank, when he sang the Curian brothers and the Horatian spears, and the regal trophies carried on the Aemelian raft, and the victorious delays of Fabius, and the awful fight at Cannae, and the gods who turned to our pious prayers, and the Lares chasing Hannibal from the Roman land, and how Jupiter was saved by the voice of a goose). Suddenly, Phoebus saw me from a Castalian tree, and leaning on his golden lyre by the cave, said, ‘What business have you, you madman, with this stream? Who ordered you to undertake the work of a heroic poem?

Visus eram molli recubans Heliconis in umbra,
Bellerophontei qua fluit umor equi,
reges, Alba, tuos et regum facta tuorum,
tantum operis, nervis hiscere posse meis;
parvaque iam magnis admoram fontibus ora
(unde pater sitiens Ennius ante bibit,
et cecinit Curios fratres et Horatia pila,
regiaque Aemilia vecta tropaea rate,
victricisque moras Fabii pugnamque sinistram
Cannensem et versos ad pia vota deos,
Hannibalemque Lares Romana sede fugantis,
anseris et tutum voce fuisse Iovem),
cum me Castalia speculans ex arbore Phoebus
sic ait aurata nixus ad antra lyra:
‘quid tibi cum tali, demens, est flumine? quis te
carminis heroi tangere iussit opus?
Propertius, 3.3

Ah me, how light is the sound in my mouth! Yet, whatever flows from the tiny heart of this stream, all of it will serve my country. Let Ennius gird his sayings with a bristly crown: but Bacchus, give me the leaves of your ivy, so that Umbria may swell with pride as the birthplace of the Roman Callimachus!

ei mihi, quod nostro est paruus in ore sonus!
sed tamen exiguo quodcumque e pectore riui
    fluxerit, hoc patriae seruiet omne meae.
Ennius hirsuta cingat sua dicta corona:
    mi folia ex hedera porrige, Bacche, tua,
ut nostris tumefacta superbiat Vmbria libris,
    Vmbria Romani patria Callimachi!

(Propertius, 4.1)

But I have said that he flows like mud, and often bears many things which must be removed from that which should remain. Yet tell me, with all of your learning, do you find nothing to criticize in great Homer? Does pleasing Lucilius change nothing of tragic Accius? Does he not also laugh at the verses of Ennius, which are lighter than the gravity of their subject, when he speaks of himself as not being greater than the things which he reproaches?

at dixi fluere hunc lutulentum, saepe ferentem               50
plura quidem tollenda relinquendis. age quaeso,
tu nihil in magno doctus reprehendis Homero?
nil comis tragici mutat Lucilius Acci?
non ridet versus Enni gravitate minores,
cum de se loquitur non ut maiore reprensis?

Horace, Sermones 1.10.50-55

Yet, Ennius is still given a certain amount of credit for his pioneering efforts. Lucretius and Horace both note the importance of Ennius as a bold adventurer in early Latin versification. Horace, in particular, focuses on his enhancement of Latin vocabulary by “bringing forth new names for things.”

No one knows what the nature of the soul might be, whether it be born, or whether it be inserted into us as we are born, and whether it die at the same time as us, or whether it visits the shadows and vast lakes of Orcus, or whether it insert itself into new flocks, as our Ennius has sung, who first brought down the eternally blooming crown from pleasant Helicon, to appear renowned through all of the Italian races.

ignoratur enim quae sit natura animai,
nata sit an contra nascentibus insinuetur
et simul intereat nobiscum morte dirempta
an tenebras Orci visat vastasque lacunas               115
an pecudes alias divinitus insinuet se,
Ennius ut noster cecinit, qui primus amoeno
detulit ex Helicone perenni fronde coronam,
per gentis Italas hominum quae clara clueret;
Lucretius, 1.112-119

Yet what will the Roman give to Caecilius and Plautus, taken away from Vergil and Varius? Why am I, if I am able to obtain a little, envied, when the language of Cato and Ennius enriched their country’s speech, and brought forth new names for things? It has, and always will be possible to bring forth a name distinguished by some present thing of note.

…. Quid autem
Caecilio Plautoque dabit Romanus, ademptum
Vergilio Varioque? Ego cur, adquirere pauca               55
si possum, inuideor, cum lingua Catonis et Enni
sermonem patrium ditauerit et noua rerum
nomina protulerit? Licuit semperque licebit
signatum praesente nota producere nomen.

Horace, Ars Poetia 53-59

 

Horace also suggests that these early attempts at poetry have been sanctified by their age itself, giving expression to the old notion of gloria primis:

Ennius, a man wise, and brave, and even a second Homer (as the critics say) seems to have given rather light care to where the promises and dreams of Pythagoras fall. Naevius is not to hand, and clings to the mind as though he were almost recent? Such is the sanctity of every ancient poem.

Ennius, et sapiens et fortis et alter Homerus,               50
ut critici dicunt, leuiter curare uidetur
quo promissa cadant et somnia Pythagorea.
Naeuius in manibus non est et mentibus haeret
paene recens? Adeo sanctum est uetus omne poema.

Horace, Epistulae, 2.1.50-54

Yet, for all of the faults which these poets attribute to Ennius, they all accord to him a certain respect. Comparisons to Homer abound, and Ovid suggests that Ennius has earned his immortal fame:

What is sought by our sacred poets, except for fame alone? The sum of our labor inclines to this. At one time, poets were the concern of the gods and kings: ancient choruses bore off great rewards. Poets had a sacred majesty and a respectable name, and great wealth was bestowed upon them. Ennius, born in the Calabrian Mountains, deserved to be placed next to you, great Scipio. Now the ivy crowns lie without honor, and the waking, laborious care exercised by the learned Muses has the name of indolence. But vigilance is a help to Fame: who would have known Homer, if that eternal work, the Iliad, had been hidden?

Quid petitur sacris, nisi tantum fama, poetis?
     Hoc votum nostri summa laboris habet.
Cura deum fuerant olim regumque poetae:               405
     Praemiaque antiqui magna tulere chori.
Sanctaque maiestas et erat venerabile nomen
     Vatibus, et largae saepe dabantur opes.
Ennius emeruit, Calabris in montibus ortus,
     Contiguus poni, Scipio magne, tibi.               410
Nunc ederae sine honore iacent, operataque doctis
     Cura vigil Musis nomen inertis habet.
Sed famae vigilare iuvat: quis nosset Homerum,
     Ilias aeternum si latuisset opus?

Ovid, Ars Amatoria 3.403-414

Finally, Ennius is mentioned along with Homer, not just as a great poet, but also as one who relied on the assistance of Bacchus for his versification:

The sweet Muses almost smelled of wine in the morning; Homer may be proven to be a sot from his praises of wine. Father Ennius himself never sprang to the task of describing battles unless he got drunk first. ‘I will leave the Forum and the Well of Libo to the sober.”

uina fere dulces oluerunt mane Camenae; 5
laudibus arguitur uini uinosus Homerus;
Ennius ipse pater numquam nisi potus ad arma
prosiluit dicenda. ‘Forum putealque Libonis
mandabo siccis, adimam cantare seueris’:
Horace, Epistulae 1.19.5-9

Back to School, Fools: You Were Made For Learning!

“Who would not be made dull if he had to bear a single teacher of a single science throughout the entire day?”

Quis vero non obtundatur, si per totum diem unius artis unum magistrum ferat?

-Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, de Liberorum Educatione, chp. 95

 

Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, de Liberorum Educatione cp.6

“We encounter few, however, who are unteachable by nature. For just as birds (as Quintilian notes) are born for flying, and horses for running, and beasts for savagery, so too are cunning and mental activity the proper sphere of humanity. Dull and ineducable people are therefore born no more according to nature than are prodigious and remarkable bodies are in monsters. And though one person might excel another in natural talent, there is no one to be found who cannot attain something with a bit of application.”

“Pauci tamen reperiuntur quibus natura indocilis est. Sicut enim aves ad volatum (Quintilianus ait), equi ad cursum, as saevitiam ferae gignuntur, sic hominis propria est agitatio mentis atque solertia; hebetes vero et indociles non magis secundum naturam quam prodigiosa corpora et insignia monstris eduntur. Et quamvis alius alium praestet ingenio, nemo tamen reperitur qui nihil sit studio consecutus.”

 

Quintilian, Institutio 1.1.1-3

“It is a false complaint that the faculty of understanding what is taught is granted to only a few, and that most people waste their time and energy due to the slowness of their intellect. Just the opposite: you can find many who have an easy time with thinking, and are ready to learn. Certainly, this is natural for humans, just as birds are born to fly, horses are born to run, and beasts are born for savagery; similarly, the activity and ingenuity of the mind is peculiarly our own.

Slow and ineducable people are no more the product of human nature than are giants and wondrously deformed people, but these have been but few. A proof of this is the fact that the hope of many things shines forth in children: if it passes away with age, it is clear that the fault lay not with human nature, but with our lack of care. One might object, ‘But nevertheless, some people are superior in intellect to others.’ I readily concede that point; but that will do more for some than for others. However, no one will be found who has pursued nothing with effort.”

Falsa enim est querela, paucissimis hominibus vim percipiendi quae tradantur esse concessam, plerosque vero laborem as tempora tarditate ingenii perdere. Nam contra plures reperias et faciles in excogitando et ad discendum promptos. Quippe id est homini naturale, ac sicut aves ad volatum, equi ad cursum, ad saevitiam ferae gignuntur, ita nobis propria est mentis agitatio atque sollertia: unde origo animi caelestis creditur. Hebetes vero et indociles non magis secundum naturam hominis eduntur quam prodigiosa corpora et monstris insignia, sed hi pauci admodum fuerunt. Argumentum, quod in pueris elucet spes plurimorum: quae cum emoritur aetate, manifestum est non naturam defecisse sed curam. “Praestat tamen ingenio alius alium.”  Concedo; sed plus efficiet aut minus: nemo reperitur qui sit studio nihil consecutus.

Martial, 5.58

“Lupus, you ask long and anxiously to what teacher you should entrust your son. I advise you to avoid all teachers and professors: don’t let him have anything to do with the books of Cicero or Vergil. Let him leave Tutilius to his own reputation. If he writes verses, you will disown him as a poet. Does he want to learn a more… pecuniary skill? Make him learn to be a lute player or a flute player; if he seems a bit on the untalented side, just make him an auctioneer or a builder.”

56

Cui tradas, Lupe, filium magistro
quaeris sollicitus diu rogasque.
Omnes grammaticosque rhetorasque
deuites moneo: nihil sit illi
cum libris Ciceronis aut Maronis;              5
famae Tutilium suae relinquat;
si uersus facit, abdices poetam.
Artes discere uolt pecuniosas?
Fac discat citharoedus aut choraules;
si duri puer ingeni uidetur,              10
praeconem facias uel architectum.

Plutarch, Alexander 8.1-2

“Aristotle, more than others, seems to me to have fostered in Alexander a love of healing. For he delighted not just in talking about medicine but he even used to help his sick friends and assign to them certain therapies and treatments, as one can see from his letters. He was by nature a lover of language, a lover of learning and a lover of reading. Because he believed and named the Iliad the roadmap of military excellence, he took a copy corrected by Aristotle which they called the “Box-Iliad” and he always had it with his knife lying under his pillow, as Onesikritos recounts. And when he did not have other books deep in Asia, he ordered Harpalos to send him some. Harpalos sent him the books of Philistos, the tragedies of Euripides, Sophocles and Aeschylus, and the dithyrambs of Telestos and Philoxenos.

In the beginning, Alexander revered Aristotle and said that he loved him no less than his father because he was alive thanks to one and living well thanks to the other. Later, he was rather suspicious of him, not so much that he harmed him at all, but his attachment and attention were not as eager as before—and this was a sign of their alienation.”

Alexander and Aristotle
Alexander and Aristotle (Artist Unknown)

Δοκεῖ δέ μοι καὶ τὸ φιλιατρεῖν ᾿Αλεξάνδρῳ προστρίψασθαι μᾶλλον ἑτέρων ᾿Αριστοτέλης. οὐ γὰρ μόνον τὴν θεωρίαν ἠγάπησεν, ἀλλὰ καὶ νοσοῦσιν ἐβοήθει τοῖς φίλοις, καὶ συνέταττε θεραπείας τινὰς καὶ διαίτας, ὡς ἐκ τῶν ἐπιστολῶν λαβεῖν ἔστιν. ἦν δὲ καὶ φύσει φιλόλογος καὶ φιλομαθὴς καὶ φιλαναγνώστης, καὶ τὴν μὲν  ᾿Ιλιάδα τῆς πολεμικῆς ἀρετῆς ἐφόδιον καὶ νομίζων καὶ ὀνομάζων, ἔλαβε μὲν ᾿Αριστοτέλους διορθώσαντος ἣν ἐκ τοῦ νάρθηκος καλοῦσιν, εἶχε δ’ ἀεὶ μετὰ τοῦ ἐγχειριδίου κειμένην ὑπὸ τὸ προσκεφάλαιον, ὡς ᾿Ονησίκριτος ἱστόρηκε (FGrH 134 F 38)· τῶν δ’ ἄλλων βιβλίων οὐκ εὐπορῶν ἐν τοῖς ἄνω τόποις, ῞Αρπαλον ἐκέλευσε πέμψαι, κἀκεῖνος ἔπεμψεν αὐτῷ τάς τε Φιλίστου βίβλους καὶ τῶν Εὐριπίδου καὶ Σοφοκλέους καὶ Αἰσχύλου τραγῳδιῶν συχνάς, καὶ Τελέστου καὶ Φιλοξένου διθυράμβους. ᾿Αριστοτέλην δὲ θαυμάζων ἐν ἀρχῇ καὶ ἀγαπῶν οὐχ ἧττον, ὡς αὐτὸς ἔλεγε, τοῦ πατρός, ὡς δι’ ἐκεῖνον μὲν ζῶν, διὰ τοῦτον δὲ καλῶς ζῶν, ὕστερον ὑποπτότερον ἔσχεν, οὐχ ὥστε ποιῆσαί τι κακόν, ἀλλ’ αἱ φιλοφροσύναι τὸ σφοδρὸν ἐκεῖνο καὶ στερκτικὸν οὐκ ἔχουσαι πρὸς αὐτόν, ἀλλοτριότητος ἐγένοντο τεκμήριον.

Continue reading “Back to School, Fools: You Were Made For Learning!”

A Little Scholarship is the Best Fortune

Anthony Trollope, Framley Parsonage chp. 22:

“Oh, yes, there is nothing here but this young gentleman’s library,”
said Lucy, moving a pile of ragged, coverless books on to the table.
“I hope he’ll forgive me for moving them.”

“They are not Bob’s,–at least, not the most of them,–but mine,”
said the girl.

“But some of them are mine,” said the boy; “ain’t they, Grace?”

“And are you a great scholar?” asked Lucy, drawing the child to her.

“I don’t know,” said Grace, with a sheepish face. “I am in Greek
Delectus and the irregular verbs.”

“Greek Delectus and the irregular verbs!” And Lucy put up her hands
with astonishment.

“And she knows an ode of Horace all by heart,” said Bob.

“An ode of Horace!” said Lucy, still holding the young shamefaced
female prodigy close to her knees.

“It is all that I can give them,” said Mr. Crawley, apologetically.
“A little scholarship is the only fortune that has come in my way,
and I endeavour to share that with my children.”

“I believe men say that it is the best fortune any of us can have,”
said Lucy, thinking, however, in her own mind, that Horace and the
irregular Greek verbs savoured too much of precocious forcing in a
young lady of nine years old.

Spring Celebration with Horace and Housman

In Ode 4.7, Horace uses the return of Spring as a focal point for reflecting upon life, death, the uncertainty of human life and the certainty of death. A.E. Housman composed an excellent translation of it. According to one of his former students, Housman discussed all of the knottier technical and philological points and then invited his students to consider the poem purely as poetry. He read both the Latin and his own translation, and then left the room immediately after proclaiming, “That I regard as the most beautiful poem in ancient literature.”

Diffugere Nives, A.E. Housman’s Translation:

The snows are fled away, leaves on the shaws
And grasses in the mead renew their birth,
The river to the river-bed withdraws,
And altered is the fashion of the earth.

The Nymphs and Graces three put off their fear
And unapparelled in the woodland play.
The swift hour and the brief prime of the year
Say to the soul, Thou wast not born for aye.
Thaw follows frost; hard on the heel of spring
Treads summer sure to die, for hard on hers
Comes autumn, with his apples scattering;
Then back to wintertide, when nothing stirs.

But oh, whate’er the sky-led seasons mar,
Moon upon moon rebuilds it with her beams:
Come we where Tullus and where Ancus are,
And good Aeneas, we are dust and dreams.

Torquatus, if the gods in heaven shall add
The morrow to the day, what tongue has told?
Feast then thy heart, for what thy heart has had
The fingers of no heir will ever hold.

When thou descendest once the shades among,
The stern assize and equal judgment o’er,
Not thy long lineage nor thy golden tongue,
No, nor thy righteousness, shall friend thee more.

Night holds Hippolytus the pure of stain,
Diana steads him nothing, he must stay;
And Theseus leaves Pirithöus in the chain
The love of comrades cannot take away.

Horace’s Original, Odes 4.7

Diffugere nives, redeunt iam gramina campis
arboribus comae;
mutat terra vices et decrescentia ripas
flumina praetereunt;
Gratia cum Nymphis geminisque sororibus audet               5
ducere nuda chorus.
Inmortalia ne speres, monet annus et almum
quae rapit hora diem.
Frigora mitescunt Zephyris, ver proterit aestas,
interitura simul               10
pomifer autumnus fruges effuderit, et mox
bruma recurrit iners.
Damna tamen celeres reparant caelestia lunae:
nos ubi decidimus
quo pater Aeneas, quo dives Tullus et Ancus,               15
puluis et umbra sumus.
Quis scit an adiciant hodiernae crastina summae
tempora di superi?
Cuncta manus avidas fugient heredis, amico
quae dederis animo.               20
Cum semel occideris et de te splendida Minos
fecerit arbitria,
non, Torquate, genus, non te facundia, non te
restituet pietas;
infernis neque enim tenebris Diana pudicum               25
liberat Hippolytum,
nec Lethaea valet Theseus abrumpere caro
vincula Pirithoo.

Homer Can’t Make Us Forget About Love

Horace, Odes 4.5-12

“Even though Homer holds the foremost seat, the songs of Pindar and Simonides, the threatening notes of Alcaeus and the weighty strains of Stesichorus are not forgotten. Nor has aged destroyed the playful fancies of Anacreon; love still breathes, and the passions of Sappho, committed to the lyre’s strings, live on today.”

non, si priores Maeonius tenet               5
sedes Homerus, Pindaricae latent
Ceaeque et Alcaei minaces
Stesichoriue graves Camenae;

nec siquid olim lusit Anacreon,
delevit aetas; spirat adhuc amor               10
vivuntque commissi calores
Aeoliae fidibus puellae.

“Do This, Not That”: Terence and Horace on Education

Terence Adelphoe 414-417

“Demio: I pass over nothing; I accustom him to it: I have
him look as if into a mirror at the lives of everyone
that he make take from others an example for himself.
Do this!” Syrus: Rightly, Correctly. DE: Don’t do this! SY: Cleverly!
DE: This is praiseworthy: SY: That is the thing! DE: This is a fault.”

DE. …
nil praetermitto: consuefacio: denique
inspicere tamquam in speculum in uitas omnium
iubeo atque ex aliis sumere exemplum sibi.
hoc facito. SY. Recte sane. DE. Hoc fugito. SY. Callide.
DE. Hoc laudist. SY. Istaec res est. DE. Hoc uitio datur.

Horace, Satires 1.4: 120-126

“This is how [my father]
used to train me as a boy with stories and whether he was
ordering me to do something, he would say “You have a precedent for doing this’ and he would offer as example one
of the selected officials.
Or, if he was forbidding me from something,
Don’t doubt that he would ask whether
“This was dishonorable and unproductive if done
Or not or if this or that man was aflame from
A bad reputation…
….sic me
formabat puerum dictis et, sive iubebat
ut facerem quid, ‘habes auctorem, quo facias hoc’
unum ex iudicibus selectis obiciebat,
sive vetabat, ‘an hoc inhonestum et inutile factu
necne sit, addubites, flagret rumore malo cum
hic atque ille?’ …