“Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down” in Ancient Greek

A student recently asked me how to say “don’t let the bastards grind you down” in Greek (and in my head I changed it to the ‘variant’ “wear you down”). I think the request stems either from the rather famous fake Latin illegitimi non carborundum or the appearance of the only slightly less problematic. Nolite te Bastardes Carborundorum in Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”. Whatever the provenance of this question, it distracted me.

There are various Greek verbs and constructions one could use: prohibitive subjunctive or 2nd person imperative; third person imperative; impersonal constructions of obligation (δεῖ/χρή). The verbal adjective (to imitate the fake Latin Passive periphrastic seems unwieldy.

Someone also suggested a future wish construction:

1. I got hooked on the idea of bastards being burdensome, so here are some prohibitives and imperatives plurals playing with the root akhthos:

ἄγε δὴ μὴ ἄχθῃ νόθοις
ἄγετε δὴ μὴ ἄχθησθε νόθοις

ἄγε δὴ μὴ ἄχθῃ νόθοις
ἄγετε δὴ μὴ ἄχθεσθε νόθοις

2. Some third person imperatives

μὴ νόθοι ὑμῶν ἄχθοι ἔστων

I used the genitive here based on the usage in the Iliad: ἀλλ’ ἧμαι παρὰ νηυσὶν ἐτώσιον ἄχθος ἀρούρης, 18;104.

Here are some other verbs which might work:

μὴ νόθοι ὑμᾶς λυπέντων
μὴ νόθοι ὑμᾶς ἐπιτριβέντων
μὴ νόθοι ὑμᾶς δακνόντων
μὴ νόθοι ὑμᾶς ὁχλέντων

Another fine suggestion from twitter was to use ἐπιτρίβειν (as I did above). I think we could use the verb ἐάω + infinitive, but that construction is not as common, I think, as prohibitives and third person imperatives.

μὴ ἐᾶτε νόθους ὑμᾶς ἐπιτρίβειν

3. Impersonal/obligative constructions

οὐ δεῖ/ χρὴ τοὺς νόθους ὑμᾶς λυπεῖν
οὐ δεῖ/ χρὴ τοὺς νόθους ὑμᾶς ἐπιτρίβειν
οὐ δεῖ/ χρὴ τοὺς νόθους ὑμᾶς δάκνειν
οὐ δεῖ/ χρὴ τοὺς νόθους ὑμᾶς ὀχλεῖν

4. Wish

εἴθε μὴ οἱ νόθοι ὑμᾶς ἐπιτριβεῖεν* [ἐπιτριβοῖεν]

*this form occurs in Lucian

https://twitter.com/bdelykleon/status/1118514280633122816

And a variant from the ever ready Armand D’Angour (in iambic trimeter, no less)

An object clause of effort variant:

5. Another idiom I like

μὴ νόθους χάλεπως φέρετε
μὴ νόθους χάλεπως φέρητε

A few grammatical notes:

Tense: for the imperatives and infinitives I have stayed with the present tense forms to express a durative or progressive ongoing resistance against bastards getting one down. I do think that the aorist could be substituted gnomically to express the timeless truth of the necessity of avoiding the burden of bastards.

Number: I have also mostly used the 2nd person plural in Greek. Although I think that if this were actually an archaic Greek sentiment it would likely use the second person singular to express something of an intimacy with the recipient, I wanted to keep it plural for general applicability in English.

Particles: Most of the statements above have insufficient flavoring for Ancient Greek. I kept the common ἄγε δή for strengthening commands, but I think there is probably more I could do.

There has been some uncertainty about my obsession with the ancient nothos (“bastard”) and some fine suggestions for other nouns. Beyond the fact that I like the Greek word, nothos does function metaphorically in ancient Greek as “spurious” or “illegitimate”.

Image result for medieval manuscript bastards
A royal bastard

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.

wolfbyz

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, (…)

Image result for heavily damaged latin manuscripts