Going Hunting? Don’t Forget Your Notebooks

Pliny, Letters To Cornelius Tacitus 6

“You will laugh—and it is right to laugh. I, that friend of yours, have gotten three boars and they’re really great ones too. “That guy?” You ask. Yes, this guy, and I did it without taking a break from my rest and relaxation. I was just sitting by the hunting nets and next to me weren’t spear or lance but my pen and notes because I was thinking about something and was trying to write a bit, supposing that even if I returned with empty hands I would still have full notebooks.

There’s no reason to scoff at this kind of research—for it is a wonder how the mind is inspired by the agitation and movement of the body. For solitude somewhere in the woods and the silence needed for hunting bring many opportunities for thought. So, whenever you are hunting next, take me as an authority and bring your notebooks with your picnic basket and your flask. You will discover that Minerva wanders the hills no less than Diana does.”

Ridebis, et licet rideas. Ego, ille quem nosti, apros tres et quidem pulcherrimos cepi. “Ipse?” inquis. Ipse; non tamen ut omnino ab inertia mea et quiete discederem. Ad retia sedebam; erat in proximo non venabulum aut lancea, sed stilus et pugillares; meditabar aliquid enotabamque, ut si manus vacuas, plenas tamen ceras reportarem. Non est quod contemnas hoc studendi genus; mirum est ut animus agitatione motuque corporis excitetur; iam undique silvae et solitudo ipsumque illud silentium quod venationi datur, magna cogitationis incitamenta sunt. Proinde cum venabere, licebit auctore me ut panarium et lagunculam sic etiam pugillares feras: experieris non Dianam magis montibus quam Minervam inerrare. Vale.

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A Routine for Managing Old Age from Cicero

Cicero, De Senectute 35-36

“Laelius and Scipio, we must resist old age and counteract its weaknesses with care. We must fight against it as we would a disease. A heath regimen must be established. We need moderate exercise and only as much food and drink as is needed to replenish our abilities but not to overcome them. And we should not attend to the body alone: but much greater service is owed to the mind and soul.

For these parts flicker out from old age just as a lamps unfilled with oil waver and dim. The body, moreover, grows worn out from excessive exercise, but our minds are unburdened by working out. For, the men Caecilius calls “the comic old fools” are those he means to mark out as credulous, forgetful, and discombobulated. These are not the faults of old age altogether, but of a lazy, careless, and sleepy old age. Just as petulance and lust are more often traits of young men than old ones, yet are not present in all young men but only the corruptible ones, so too is that aged foolishness which people usually call senility a mark of those who have weak minds, not of all old men.”

Resistendum, Laeli et Scipio, senectuti est eiusque vitia diligentia compensanda sunt, pugnandum tamquam contra morbum sic contra senectutem, habenda  ratio valetudinis, utendum exercitationibus modicis, tantum cibi et potionis adhibendum, ut reficiantur vires, non opprimantur. Nec vero corpori solum subveniendum est, sed menti atque animo multo magis. Nam haec quoque, nisi tamquam lumini oleum instilles, exstinguuntur senectute. Et corpora quidem exercitationum defetigatione ingravescunt, animi autem exercitando levantur. Nam quos ait Caecilius “comicos stultos senes,” hos significat credulos obliviosos dissolutos, quae vitia sunt non senectutis, sed inertis ignavae somniculosae senectutis. Ut petulantia, ut libido magis est adulescentium quam senum, nec tamen omnium adulescentium, sed non proborum, sic ista senilis stultitia, quae deliratio appellari solet, senum levium est, non omnium.

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“We Are Not Born for Ourselves”: Cicero on Private Property

Cicero De officiis 1.21-22

“There is, moreover, no private property naturally, but it develops either through ancient possession—as when people came into empty territory long ago—or through conquest—as when people possess it in war—or through law, contract, purchase, or lot. This is why the land of Arpinas are said to be of the Arpinates and the Tusculan lands of the Tusculans. The assignment of private property is much the same. For this reason, because what had been communal property by nature because the possession of an individual, each person should take hold of what has come to him—but, if he desire anything else beyond this, he will transgress the law of human society.

But since, as Plato has famously written, we are not born only for ourselves, but our country takes a part and our friends take a part, and since, as the Stoics maintain, everything which develops from the earth has been created for human use, and we human beings are born to be of use to other human beings, that we may in some way be able to help one another, we ought to make nature our leader in this, to produce common good by an exchange of favors, by giving and receiving….”

Sunt autem privata nulla natura, sed aut vetere occupatione, ut qui quondam in vacua venerunt, aut victoria, ut qui bello potiti sunt, aut lege, pactione, condicione, sorte; ex quo fit, ut ager Arpinas Arpinatium dicatur, Tusculanus Tusculanorum; similisque est privatarum possessionum discriptio. Ex quo, quia suum cuiusque fit eorum, quae natura fuerant communia, quod cuique obtigit, id quisque teneat; e quo si quis sibi appetet, violabit ius humanae societatis.

Sed quoniam, ut praeclare scriptum est a Platone, non nobis solum nati sumus ortusque nostri partem patria vindicat, partem amici, atque, ut placet Stoicis, quae in terris gignantur, ad usum hominum omnia creari, homines autem hominum causa esse generatos, ut ipsi inter se aliis alii prodesse possent, in hoc naturam debemus ducem sequi, communes utilitates in medium afferre mutatione officiorum, dando accipiendo,

Cicero on Judicious Generosity

Cicero, De officiis 2.62-63

“The case of the person who is hard-pressed by disaster is different from that of the one who seeks improved affairs when nothing adverse stands in the way. Charity will be obligated to favor those in misfortune unless there is some way they have earned their misfortune. Even for these, still, we should not refuse those who desire to be helped not only that they are suffering misfortune but that they may rise to a higher station. But we should guide our judgment and care in selecting those who are worthy. For, as Ennius famously says: “I believe that good deeds poorly placed are poorly done.”

In addition, when some benefit is given to a good and grateful man, it is useful both in his response and in others’ reactions too. For, generosity is most gratefully received it is not random and people praise it more heartily because it it is represents the goodness of a man in a high station and common refuge for all. Hence, efforts much be made to provide as many people as possible with benefits so that the memory of our generosity will be handed down to their children and grandchildren so that even they may not be ungrateful. For all people hand forgetfulness of a favor and consider it as an injury which has been committed against them because generosity is discouraged and those who do this are a common enemy of the poor.”

Alia causa est eius, qui calamitate premitur, et eius, qui res meliores quaerit nullis suis rebus adversis. Propensior benignitas esse debebit in calamitosos, nisi forte erunt digni calamitate. In iis tamen, qui se adiuvari volent, non ne affligantur, sed ut altiorem gradum ascendant, restricti omnino esse nullo modo debemus, sed in deligendis idoneis iudicium et diligentiam adhibere. Nam praeclare Ennius:

Bene fácta male locáta male facta árbitror.

Quod autem tributum est bono viro et grato, in eo cum ex ipso fructus est, tum etiam ex ceteris. Temeritate enim remota gratissima est liberalitas, eoque eam studiosius plerique laudant, quod summi cuiusque bonitas commune perfugium est omnium. Danda igitur opera est, ut iis beneficiis quam plurimos afficiamus, quorum memoria liberis posterisque prodatur, ut iis ingratis esse non liceat. Omnes enim immemorem beneficii oderunt eamque iniuriam in deterrenda liberalitate sibi etiam fieri eumque, qui faciat, communem hostem tenuiorum putant.

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from the Roman de la Rose, Royal MS 20 A XVII, f. 9r

How We Spend Our Days–Do Nothing Rather Than Something Useless

Pliny, Letters 9 To Minucius Fundanus

“It is amazing how the schedule is or seems on individual days in the city when they all blend together. If you ask anyone “what did you do today?” He may say, “I went to a toga-ceremony, an engagement, or a marriage. I was the witness at a will-signing, or at court as a witness or supporter.” These things which you do seem necessary on the day that you do them but empty if you remember that you have done the same kind of things every day and they seem even sillier if you consider them when you are away.

Then the realization comes over you: “How many days have I wasted in trivial pursuits!” This occurs to me whenever I am reading or writing or taking some time to exercise, to keep my mind fit for my work, at my Laurentum. I hear nothing and I say nothing which later on it hurts me that I said or heard. No one troubles me with evil rumors. I find no one to blame but myself when I write with too little ease. I am troubled by no hope, no fear; I am disrupted by no gossip. I speak only with myself and my little books.

What a fine and sincere life! What sweet and honest leisure, finer than nearly any business at all. The sea, the beach, my own true and private museum—how much you discover for me, how much you have told me!

Take the first chance you can to leave that noise, the empty conversation, and so many useless tasks and dedicate yourself to studies or relaxing. For our friend Atilius put it most elegantly and intelligently when he said “it is better to do engage in leisure than to do nothing.”

Plinius Minicio Fundano Suo S.

1Mirum est quam singulis diebus in urbe ratio aut constet aut constare videatur, pluribus iunctisque

Nam si quem interroges “Hodie quid egisti?,” respondeat: “Officio togae virilis interfui, sponsalia aut nuptias frequentavi, ille me ad signandum testamentum, ille in advocationem, ille in 3 consilium rogavit.” Haec quo die feceris, necessaria, eadem, si cotidie fecisse te reputes, inania videntur, multo magis cum secesseris. Tunc enim subit recordatio: “Quot dies quam frigidis rebus absumpsi!” 4 Quod evenit mihi, postquam in Laurentino meo aut lego aliquid aut scribo aut etiam corpori vaco, cuius fulturis animus sustinetur. Nihil audio quod audisse, nihil dico quod dixisse paeniteat; nemo apud me quemquam sinistris sermonibus carpit, neminem ipse reprehendo, nisi tamen me cum parum commode scribo; nulla spe nullo timore sollicitor, nullis rumoribus inquietor: mecum tantum et cum libellis loquor. O rectam sinceramque vitam! O dulce otium honestumque ac paene omni negotio pulchrius! O mare, o litus, verum secretumque μουσεῖον, quam multa invenitis, quam multa dictatis! 7 Proinde tu quoque strepitum istum inanemque discursum et multum ineptos labores, ut primum fuerit occasio, relinque teque studiis vel otio trade. 8 Satius est enim, ut Atilius noster eruditissime simul et facetissime dixit, otiosum esse quam nihil agere. Vale.

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

Bellum Incivile: Government Shutdown Over the Wall

Another text tentatively attributed to Caesar was discovered along with the fragments of the De Silvis and an appendix to De Bello Gallico. This is almost surely from the lost Bellum Incivile.

8.3 For reasons I already mentioned, Manicula resolved to keep people of color out of the homeland by means of executive orders and an expensive wall. Since he feared that people fleeing mortal danger and actual coyotes— amazing to say!– might cross the border and that heavy bags full of drugs might be thrown into the territory, he devised a new kind of wall, through which it possible to look, but not to enter, and decreed that sharpened stakes of steel be placed at regular, two-foot intervals into the ground. Disturbed by the new and rather unusual appearance of the wall, the citizens laughed and made fun of it, saying this plan for border security was childish and stupid and that the wall looked just like a medieval fortification. 

8.3 Manicula, his de causis quas commemoravi, coloratas gentes a patria decretis ac muro magni pretii prohibere constituit. Qui veritus ne gentes periculum effugientes et veri lupi, mirabile dictu, transirent saccique tumentes multis potionibus in fines conicerentur, formam muri novam, quo perspici posset, sed non intrari, excogitavit decrevitque ut trabes ferri praeacutae paribus intervallis, distantes inter se binos pedes, in solo collocarentur. Nova atque inusitatiore specie commoti cives inridebant atque increpitabant vocibus, consilium finium tuendorum puerile et stultum murumque simillimum forma munitionibus perveteribus esse.

8.4 Moved by great anger because of these words, Manicula replied that the wall should be referred to as a Beautiful Steel Slat Barrier; that the government must be shut down until the senators provide funding for his wall; and that in the meantime, according to his usual custom, he would put everyone who crossed the border into freezers and cages.

8.4 Magna adfectus ira his verbis Manicula ad ea respondit: murum Claustrum Trabium Ferrearum Pulchrum appellandum; rem publicam non administrandam, nisi senatores pecuniam publicam ex aerario ad murum struendum darent. Se interim consuetudine sua omnes, qui in fines transirent, in arcas gelatas ac caveas mitturum.

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Celestial and Parental Debts of Gratitude

Seneca, De Beneficiis 6.4

“Therefore, we owe a great debt to the sun and the moon and the rest of the celestial bodies since, even if the reasons for which they rise are more important to them, still they help us greatly in our march towards greater things. Consider to that they help us from a certain purpose and for that reason we are obligated to them, because we do not happen upon an advantage from the ignorant but from those who knew we would accept their help.

So, even though it may be proposed that they have a greater purpose and profit for what they do beyond serving mortal creatures, still from the beginning of nature their concern has been oriented towards us and in this organization given to the universe it is clear that concern oriented towards us was not held among the most minor concerns.

We owe a debt of duty to our parents even though though most did not have sex in order for us to be born. The gods cannot be thought to be so ignorant of what they would create when they immediately provided nourishment and aid to everything, nor did they produce through negligence those for whom they created so many things.”

Debemus ergo et soli et lunae et ceteris caelestibus beneficium, quia, etiam si potiora illis sunt, in quae oriuntur, nos tamen in maiora ituri iuvant. Adice, quod ex destinato iuvant, ideoque obligati sumus, quia non in beneficium ignorantium incidimus, sed haec, quae accipimus, accepturos scierunt; et quamquam maius illis propositum sit maiorque actus sui fructus, quam servare mortalia, tamen in nostras quoque utilitates a principio rerum praemissa mens est et is ordo mundo datus, ut appareat curam nostri non inter ultima habitam. Debemus parentibus nostris pietatem, et multi non, ut gignerent, coierant. Di non possunt videri nescisse, quid effecturi essent, cum omnibus alimenta protinus et auxilia providerint, nec eos per neclegentiam genuere, quibus tam multa generabant.

An Epicurean Path to Happiness

Cicero, De Finibus 1.64

“A subject remains which is especially important to this debate, that is friendship which, as you believe, will completely disappear if pleasure is the greatest good. Concerning friendship, Epicurus himself says that of all the paths to happiness wisdom has prepared, there is none greater, more productive, or more enchanting than this one. And he did not advocate for friendship in speech alone but much more through his life, his deeds and his customs.

Myths of the ancients illustrate how great friendship is—in those tales however varied and numerous you seek from the deepest part of antiquity and you will find scarcely three pairs of friends, starting with Theseus and up to Orestes. But, Epicurus in one single and quite small home kept so great a crowd of friends united by the depth of their love. And this is still the practice among Epicureans.”

XX Restat locus huic disputationi vel maxime necessarius, de amicitia, quam si voluptas summum sit bonum affirmatis nullam omnino fore; de qua Epicurus quidem ita dicit, omnium rerum quas ad beate vivendum sapientia comparaverit nihil esse maius amicitia, nihil uberius, nihil iucundius. Nec vero hoc oratione solum sed multo magis vita et factis et moribus comprobavit. Quod quam magnum sit fictae veterum fabulae declarant, in quibus tam multis tamque variis, ab ultima antiquitate repetitis, tria vix amicorum paria reperiuntur, ut ad Orestem pervenias profectus a Theseo. At vero Epicurus una in domo, et ea quidem angusta, quam magnos quantaque amoris conspiratione consentientes tenuit amicorum greges! quod fit etiam nunc ab Epicureis.

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Royal 19 C II  f. 59v

Bellum Incivile: The Loyal Fixer

Another text tentatively attributed to Caesar was discovered along with the fragments of the De Silvis and an appendix to De Bello Gallico. This is almost surely the lost Bellum Incivile. The second passage was thought by some scholars to be part of a larger work called De Fraude, but recent evidence has all but proven it is related to Manicula’s exploits in Bellum Incivile

2.15 When he learned of these situations, M. Cohen, lest Manicula’s popularity be diminished among the people on account of this scandal and rumors change the opinion of voters (later it became known that Manicula’s moral failures would actually increase his appeal among many and that the Candidi* would believe all of his words) made big payments to the women. Since Cohen had constantly asserted he would never abandon Mancula’s cause and often used to say “A person who deserves my loyalty receives it,” Manicula trusted him greatly.

2.15 His rebus cognitis M. Coenus, ne gratia Maniculae propter flagitium minueretur rumorque opinionem suffragatorum commutaret (postea eius dedecus eam inter multos etiam aucturum Candidosque omnibus eius verbis credituros cognitum est), magnam pecuniam mulieris numeravit. Qui cum se numquam ab amicitia defecturum continuo confirmaret dignosque fide fidem accipere diceret, Manicula ei maxime confidebat.

*There is much debate over the Candidi. Some refer to this group simply as the “Whites,” while others prefer not to translate the term. There are fine scholars on both sides of this debate.

A connected text was found with extensive black markings which a team of paleographers and scientists determined were added intentionally shortly after the piece was written.  Based on similar phrases and the appearance of Maniculam, scholars believe the following should be included among the fragmenta incerta aut dubia of the Bellum Incivile.

?.?  Having accepted payments, M. Flynn was of great service to Turkey and (…) although he was national security advisor. Individual 1 ordered him to (….) and (…) secretly so that (….). At that same time Russians came to (….) complaining that punishments were exacted because of nonexistent offenses and that they had great hope that through his influence Manicula would put an end to the sanctions. (…) Flynn, having spoken with (…) about leniency, (…)

?.? Praemiis acceptis M. Flinnus cum consilia de patriae salute daret magno auxilio Galatianis fuit et (…). Prima Persona eum (…) et (…) clam ut (….) iussit. Eodem tempore Scythiani ad (…) veniebant questum poenas pro vanis iniuriis repetitas magnamque se habere spem auctoritate Maniculam finem suppliciis facturum. (…) Flinnus cum (….) de lenitate locutus, (…)

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