December, Once a Month, but Now The Whole Year

Seneca the Younger, Moral Epistle 18

“December is the month and the city is especially sweaty. Permission is given to public excess. Everything echoes with overwhelming preparation as of there were some difference between the Saturnalia and business as usual! So there is no difference and is seems to me that the man wasn’t wrong who said that December was once a month but is now a year.”

December est mensis; cum maxime civitas sudat. Ius luxuriae publicae datum est. Ingenti apparatu sonant omnia, tamquam quicquam inter Saturnalia intersit et dies rerum agendarum. Adeo nihil interest, ut non videatur mihi errasse, qui dixit olim mensem Decembrem fuisse, nunc annum.

I was reminded of this passage when I walked into the grocery store yesterday and witness a Halloween candy display in mid-July.

 

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Get Me Drunk and Turn me Into a Lyre: Drinking Songs for New Year’s Eve

Carm. Conv. 17

“I wish I could turn into an ivory lyre
And that beautiful children would carry me to the Dionysian dance.”

εἴθε λύρα καλὴ γενοίμην ἐλεφαντίνη
καί με καλοὶ παῖδες φέροιεν Διονύσιον ἐς χορόν.

Carm. Conv. 6

“What kind of man each person is
I wish I could know by opening his chest and then
Looking at his mind and after closing it again
To recognize a dear friend by his guileless thought”

εἴθ’ ἐξῆν ὁποῖός τις ἦν ἕκαστος
τὸ στῆθος διελόντ’, ἔπειτα τὸν νοῦν
ἐσιδόντα, κλείσαντα πάλιν,
ἄνδρα φίλον νομίζειν ἀδόλωι φρενί.

 

Anonymous Lyrics (Plutarch, Table Talk 1)

“I hate the drinking buddy who doesn’t forget.”

μισέω μνάμονα συμπόταν

Carmen Conviviaia 890

“The best thing for a mortal man is to be healthy
And second, to be pretty.
Third, is to be wealthy without deceit.
And, fourth, is to be young with friends.”

ὑγιαίνειν μὲν ἄριστον ἀνδρὶ θνητῷ,
δεύτερον δὲ φυὰν καλὸν γενέσθαι,
τὸ δὲ τρίτον πλουτεῖν ἀδόλως,
τέταρτον δὲ ἡβᾶν μετὰ τῶν φίλων.

This appears in the Scholia to Plato’s Gorgias where it is attributed to either Simonides or Epikharmos.

(1) τὸ σκολιὸν τοῦτο οἱ μὲν Σιμωνίδου (Scolia Anonyma 7 Diehl)
φασίν, οἱ δὲ ᾿Επιχάρμου (fr. 262 Kaibel). ἔστι δὲ τοιοῦτον•
ὑγιαίνειν μὲν ἄριστον ἀνδρὶ θνητῷ,
δεύτερον δὲ φυὰν καλὸν γενέσθαι,
τὸ δὲ τρίτον πλουτεῖν ἀδόλως,
τέταρτον δὲ ἡβᾶν μετὰ τῶν φίλων.
τοῦτο δὲ τὸ τελευταῖον παραλέλειπται ὡς μὴ πρὸς ὃ βούλεται Πλάτων
χρήσιμον ὄν.

Happy New Year to all of our friends!