Some Roman Morals for a Season of Gifts

Cicero, De Officiis 3.118

“For goodness, generosity and kindness cannot exist any more than friendship if they are not pursued for themselves but are nurtured for the sake of pleasure or advantage.”

Neque enim bonitas nec liberalitas nec comitas esse potest, non plus quam amicitia, si haec non per se expetantur, sed ad voluptatem utilitatemve referantur.

Publilius Syrus, 78

“Generosity even devises an excuse for giving”

Benignus etiam causam dandi cogitat.

Seneca, De Beneficiis 4

“All generosity hurries—it is characteristic of one who does something willingly to do it quickly. If someone comes to help slowly or drags it out day by day, he does not do it sincerely. And he has thus lost the two most important things: time and a sign of his willing friendship. To be slowly willing is a sign of being unwilling.”

Omnis benignitas properat, et proprium est libenter facientis cito facere; qui tarde et diem de die extrahens profuit, non ex animo fecit. Ita duas res maximas perdidit, et tempus et argumentum amicae voluntatis; tarde velle nolentis est.

Image result for Ancient Roman friendship frieze

Image result for Ancient Roman friendship frieze
Aeneas Panel from the Ara Pacis

Some Roman Morals for a Season of Gifts

Cicero, De Officiis 3.118

“For goodness, generosity and kindness cannot exist any more than friendship if they are not pursued for themselves but are nurtured for the sake of pleasure or advantage.”

Neque enim bonitas nec liberalitas nec comitas esse potest, non plus quam amicitia, si haec non per se expetantur, sed ad voluptatem utilitatemve referantur.

Publilius Syrus, 78

“Generosity even devises an excuse for giving”

Benignus etiam causam dandi cogitat.

Seneca, De Beneficiis 4

“All generosity hurries—it is characteristic of one who does something willingly to do it quickly. If someone comes to help slowly or drags it out day by day, he does not do it sincerely. And he has thus lost the two most important things: time and a sign of his willing friendship. To be slowly willing is a sign of being unwilling.”

Omnis benignitas properat, et proprium est libenter facientis cito facere; qui tarde et diem de die extrahens profuit, non ex animo fecit. Ita duas res maximas perdidit, et tempus et argumentum amicae voluntatis; tarde velle nolentis est.

 

Image result for Ancient Roman friendship frieze
Aeneas Panel from the Ara Pacis

Mile-By-Mile Quotes for a Marathon

 

Sentantiae Antiquae is running a Marathon today (For real, Rock N’ Roll San Antonio). Here’s a quote for every mile.

 

Mile 1: Feeling Irrational Noble Thoughts

 

Hesiod Works and Days, 289-90

“The gods made sweat the price for virtue.”

τῆς δ’ ἀρετῆς ἱδρῶτα θεοὶ προπάροιθεν ἔθηκαν

ἀθάνατοι·

 

Actual Shirt Worn During Marathon
Actual Shirt Worn During Marathon Last Year

 

Mile 2: Positive Feelings Continue

 

Horace, Epistles 1.4.12-14

“Amidst hope and anxiety, fear and rage, believe that every day has risen as your last: pleasant is the arrival of the hour which was never expected”.

inter spem curamque, timores inter et iras omnem crede diem tibi diluxisse supremum: grata superveniet quae non sperabitur hora

 

Mile 3: When I try to Check Myself

Plutarch, Agesilaos 2.2

“His weakness made his desire for glory manifest: he would refuse no labor and shirk no deed.”

ἀλλὰ καὶ τὴν φιλοτιμίαν ἐκδηλοτέραν ἐποίει, πρὸς μηδένα πόνον μηδὲ πρᾶξιν ἀπαγορεύοντος αὐτοῦ διὰ τὴν χωλότητα.


Mile 4: Self-Righteous Thoughts Get Delirious

Cicero, Pro Sestio 143

“Let us spurn the rewards of today and look to future glory; let us deem best what is most honorable; let us hope for what we want, but bear what befalls us; finally, let us consider that even the bodies of brave men and great citizens are mortal; but that activity of the mind and the glory of virtue are forever.”

praesentis fructus neglegamus, posteritatis gloriae serviamus; id esse optimum putemus quod erit rectissimum; speremus quae volumus, sed quod acciderit feramus; cogitemus denique corpus virorum fortium magnorum hominum esse mortale, animi vero motus et virtutis gloriam sempiternam

Mile 5: When I start to Make Jokes to Myself about Pheidippides

Lucian, On Mistakes in Greeting

“After saying ‘hello’ he died with his greeting a gasped out a final farewell”

καὶ τοῦτο εἰπὼν συναποθανεῖν τῇ ἀγγελίᾳ καὶ τῷ χαίρειν συνεκπνεῦσαι

Continue reading “Mile-By-Mile Quotes for a Marathon”

Sententiae Lepidae: Publilius’ One-Liners (Macrobius II. 7.11)

The sententious Syrian Publilius Syrus has left to posterity a series of witticisms in verse. Macrobius has preserved some of them for us in his Saturnalia.

“There are some charming sayings of Publilius circulating which are most convenient for regular use. Of these I can remember the following, confined to single-lines.

Who has done a favor for a good man deserves one
You should endure and not blame whatever cannot be changed.
The man who has more than is right wants more than is right
A good companion on the road is as good as a vehicle
Frugality is the penance for a good reputation.
Beneath his mask, a heir’s tear is a grin.
Patience too often tried becomes fury.
A man who is shipwrecked twice blames Neptune wrongly.
Excessive arguing obscures the truth.
It is half a favor if you quickly turn down a request
Approach your friend as you would if you could imagine him an enemy.
You invite a new offense by tolerating an old one.
Danger is never surpassed without danger.”

Publii autem sententiae feruntur lepidae et ad communem usum adcommodatissimae, ex quibus has fere memini singulis versibus circumscriptas

1 Beneficium dando accepit qui digno dedit.
Feras, non culpes, quod mutari non potest.
Cui plus licet quam par est plus vult quam licet.
Comes facundus in via pro vehiculo est.
Frugalitas miseria est rumoris boni.
Heredis fletus sub persona risus est.
Furor fit laesa saepius patientia.
Inprobe Neptunum accusat qui iterum naufragium facit.
Nimium altercando veritas amittitur.
Pars beneficii est, quod petitur si cito neges.
Ita amicum habeas, posse ut fieri hunc inimicum putes.
Veterem ferendo iniuriam invites novam.
Numquam periclum sine periclo vincitur.

Felix Dies Natalis — Sententiae Antiquae: A Pu Pu Platter from our Infancy

 

This site and its twitter feed is three years old today.  We have passed from diapers (nappies in the UK!) and a liquid diet to full sentences and a different kind of liquid diet. Here are some quotations from our first few months.

 

The first post we ever put up:

 

Homer, Iliad 22.304-5

“May I not die without a fight and without glory but after doing something big for men to come to learn about”

μὴ μὰν ἀσπουδί γε καὶ ἀκλειῶς ἀπολοίμην,

ἀλλὰ μέγα ῥέξας τι καὶ ἐσσομένοισι πυθέσθαι.

 

A good one for Halloween:

Seneca, De clementia 1.1.6

“No one can wear a mask for very long; affectation soon returns to true nature”

nemo enim potest personam diu ferre, ficta cito in naturam suam recidunt

And this made an appearance again in our aggregation of Seneca quotes.

 

A reminder to carpere diem, but in Greek:

Semonides, Fragment 3

“We have ample time to be dead yet we live our few years badly”

πολλὸς γὰρ ἥμιν ἐστι τεθνάναι χρονος

ζῶμεν δ᾿ ἀριθμῷ παῦρα κακῶς ἔτεα

 

One of our many lines about friendship:

Sallust, Catilinae coniuratio 20.4

“Wanting the same thing and also not wanting the same thing: this, ultimately, is true friendship”

idem velle atque idem nolle, ea demum firma amicitia est

 

Proof that U2 plagiarizes:

Martial, Epigrams 12.46.2

“I can’t live with you or without you”

nec tecum possum vivere nec sine te

 

A necessary does of humility:

Heraclitus, Fragment 40

“Knowing much doesn’t teach you how to think.”

πολυμαθίη νόον ἔχειν οὐ διδάσκει.

 

Existential Angst:

Pindar, Pythian 8.95

“What is a person? What is not a person? Man is a dream of a shadow”

τί δέ τις; τί δ’ οὔ τις; σκιᾶς ὄναρ / ἄνθρωπος.

 

Pithy Rumsfeldian Response:

Tacitus, Agricola 30.4

 

“Every unknown is overblown”

omne ignotum pro magnifico est

 

Because we still don’t understand this:

Pisander, fr. 9 (Hesychius 683)

“You can’t reason with Centaurs”

νοῦς οὐ παρὰ Κενταύροισι

 

Because to err is human:

 

Cicero, Philippics 12.5

“All men make mistakes; but it is fools who persist in them”

cuiusvis hominis est errare; nullius nisi insipientis perseverare in errore

 

This is for Cicero and Seneca who came to unhappy ends:

Sophocles, Electra 1007-8

“Death isn’t the most hateful thing. Worse is when someone wants to die but cannot.”

οὐ γὰρ θανεῖν ἔχθιστον, ἀλλ᾽ ὅταν θανεῖν
χρῄζων τις εἶτα μηδὲ τοῦτ᾽ ἔχῃ λαβεῖν.

 

A rejected motto:

Ovid, Ars Amatoria 1.159

“Trivialities occupy fickle minds”

para leves capiunt animos

 

From a quotable but less well-known sage:

Publilius Syrus, Sententiae M.54

“A bad plan is one that can’t be changed”

malum est consilium quod mutari non potest

 

The eternal troll of anonymous wit:

 

CIL IV, 1904

“I am amazed, wall, that you have not fallen in ruins,
you who bear the weight of so many boring inscriptions.”

admiror, paries, te non cecidisse ruinis,
qui tot scriptorum taedia sustineas.

 

Something that may or may not be true about quotation:

Horace, Ars Poetica 309

“The origin and source of good writing is good judgment”.

scribendi recte sapere est et principium et fons.

 

As good a way to start as to end:

Parmenides, fr. 6.16

 

“The path of all things goes backwards.”

…πάντων δὲ παλίντροπός ἐστι κέλευθος.

 

Thanks to everyone who has read, commented and retweeted over the past three years!

Πόλλ’ ἀγαθὰ γένοιτό ὑμῖν!

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