Unpolished Words and Saying What You Mean

Seneca, Moral Epistles 75.1-3

“You grumble that my letters to you are not very polished. Well, who speaks with polish unless they want to talk ostentatiously? I want my letters to have the quality of the kind of conversation we’d have while sitting next to each other or walking: easy and unlabored, since there is nothing forced or false about them.

If I could, I would prefer to show rather than tell you what I am feeling. Even if I were debating with you, I wouldn’t stomp my foot, or wave my hands around, or raise my voice–I’d abandon those tricks to the orators because I am happy to have shared my experiences with you without elaborating them or cheapening them.

I wish I could make this single thing clear to you: whatever I say, I don’t just feel it, I mean it. Men kiss their girlfriends one way and their children another, but enough emotion is clear in the parental embrace too, since it is sacred and restrained.”

Minus tibi accuratas a me epistulas mitti quereris. Quis enim accurate loquitur, nisi qui vult putide loqui? Qualis sermo meus esset, si una sederemus aut ambularemus, inlaboratus et facilis, tales esse epistulas meas volo, quae nihil habent accersitum nec fictum. Si fieri posset, quid sentiam, ostendere quam loqui mallem. Etiam si disputarem, nec supploderem pedem nec manum iactarem nec attollerem vocem, sed ista oratoribus reliquissem, contentus sensus meos ad te pertulisse, quos nec exornassem nec abiecissem. Hoc unum plane tibi adprobare vellem: omnia me illa sentire, quae dicerem, nec tantum sentire, sed amare. Aliter homines amicam, aliter liberos osculantur; tamen in hoc quoque amplexu tam sancto et moderato satis apparet adfectus.

Batman slapping robin meme. Robin is saying "your letters are sloppy" Batman says, "I say what I mean"

Words, Seeds, and Fertile Minds

Seneca, Moral Epistle 38

“You rightly urge that we increase the frequency of our letters. Conversation, however, is the most helpful because it seeps into the mind bit by bit. Prepared lectures delivered while a crowd listens provide more opportunity for noise than familiarity.

Philosophy is good counsel, yet no one gives counsel by shouting. We need to use these verbal assaults, as I call them, at times, when someone who doubts needs to be pushed. But to make someone learn,–not just to want to learn, that’s when we shouldn’t lecture but turn to quieter conversation instead. Such words enter people more easily and stick with them. You don’t need a lot of words, just the right ones.

Words ought to be spread around like seeds–however small a seed might be, once it finds a fertile place, it expands its own strength and grows to its full power from the smallest size. Reason works the same way: it does not look large from the outside, but it grows in application.

There may be few words uttered, but if a mind receives them well, they grow stronger and surge to the surface. Advice and seeds, I think, have the same characteristics: they create much, though they start small. Provided, as I said, a fertile mind accepts them and welcomes them into itself. Then, the mind itself will create much in turn and return in kind more than it received. Goodbye.”

Merito exigis, ut hoc inter nos epistularum commercium frequentemus. Plurimum proficit sermo, quia minutatim inrepit animo. Disputationes praeparatae et effusae audiente populo plus habent strepitus, minus familiaritatis. Philosophia bonum consilium est; consilium nemo clare dat. Aliquando utendum est et illis, ut ita dicam, contionibus, ubi qui dubitat, impellendus est; ubi vero non hoc agendum est, ut velit discere, sed ut discat, ad haec submissiora verba veniendum est. Facilius intrant et haerent; nec enim multis opus est, sed efficacibus.

Seminis modo spargenda sunt, quod quamvis sit exiguum, cum occupavit idoneum locum, vires suas explicat et ex minimo in maximos auctus diffunditur. Idem facit ratio; non late patet, si aspicias; in opere crescit. Pauca sunt, quae dicuntur, sed si illa animus bene excepit, convalescunt et exurgunt. Eadem est, inquam, praeceptorum condicio quae seminum; multum efficiunt, et angusta sunt. Tantum, ut dixi, idonea mens capiat illa et in se trahat. Multa invicem et ipsa generabit et plus reddet quam acceperit. Vale.

John Denver, The Garden Song

Inch by inch, row by rowGonna make this garden growAll it takes is a rake and a hoeAnd a piece of fertile ground
Inch by inch, row by rowSomeone bless these seeds I sowSomeone warm them from belowTill the rain comes tumblin’ down
Pullin’ weeds and pickin’ stonesMan is made of dreams and bonesFeel the need to grow my own‘Cause the time is close at hand
Rainful rain, sun and rainFind my way in nature’s chainTune my body and my brainTo the music from the land
Plant your rows straight and longTemper them with prayer and songMother Earth will make you strong
If you give her love and care
Old crow watchin’ hungrilyFrom his perch in yonder treeIn my garden I’m as freeAs that feathered thief up there
Inch by inch, row by rowGonna make this garden growAll it takes is a rake and a hoeAnd a piece of fertile ground
An inch by inch, row by rowSomeone bless these seeds I sowSomeone warm them from belowTill the rain comes tumblin’ down

Epic Duals and Audience Receptions

N.B. Dual forms are in bold while potentially conflicting plural forms are bold underlined.

Homer, Iliad 9.168-198

Let Phoinix, dear to Zeus, lead first of all
And then great Ajax and shining Odysseus.
And the heralds Odios and Eurubates should follow together.
Wash your hands and have everyone pray
So we can be pleasing to Zeus, if he takes pity on us.

So he spoke and this speech was satisfactory to everyone.
The heralds immediately poured water over their hands
And the servants filled their cups with wine.
And then they distributed the cups to everyone
And then they made a libation and drank to their fill.
They left from Agamemnon’s, son of Atreus’ dwelling.
Gerenian Nestor, the horseman, was giving them advice,
Stopping to prepare each one, but Odysseus especially,
How to try to persuade the blameless son of Peleus.

The two of them went along the strand of the much-resounding sea,
Both praying much to the earth-shaker Poseidon
That they might easily persuade the great thoughts of Aiakos’ grandson.
When the two of them arrived at the ships and the dwellings of the Myrmidons
They found him there delighting his heart with a clear-voiced lyre,
A well-made, beautiful one, set on a silver bridge.
Achilles stole it when he sacked and destroyed the city of Eetion.
He was pleasing his heart with it, and was singing the famous tales of men.
Patroklos was sitting there in silence across from him,
Waiting for Aiakos’ grandson to stop singing.

The two of them were walking first, but shining Odysseus was leading.
And they stood in front of him. When Achilles saw them, he rose
With the lyre in his hand, leaving the place where he had been sitting.
Patroklos rose at the same time, when he saw the men.
As he welcomed those two, swift-footed Achilles addressed them.

“Welcome [you too]–really, dear friends two have come–the need must be great,
When these two [come] who are dearest of the Achaeans to me, even when I am angry.”

Φοῖνιξ μὲν πρώτιστα Διῒ φίλος ἡγησάσθω,
αὐτὰρ ἔπειτ’ Αἴας τε μέγας καὶ δῖος ᾿Οδυσσεύς·
κηρύκων δ’ ᾿Οδίος τε καὶ Εὐρυβάτης ἅμ’ ἑπέσθων.
φέρτε δὲ χερσὶν ὕδωρ, εὐφημῆσαί τε κέλεσθε,
ὄφρα Διὶ Κρονίδῃ ἀρησόμεθ’, αἴ κ’ ἐλεήσῃ.
῝Ως φάτο, τοῖσι δὲ πᾶσιν ἑαδότα μῦθον ἔειπεν.
αὐτίκα κήρυκες μὲν ὕδωρ ἐπὶ χεῖρας ἔχευαν,
κοῦροι δὲ κρητῆρας ἐπεστέψαντο ποτοῖο,
νώμησαν δ’ ἄρα πᾶσιν ἐπαρξάμενοι δεπάεσσιν.
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ σπεῖσάν τ’ ἔπιόν θ’ ὅσον ἤθελε θυμός,
ὁρμῶντ’ ἐκ κλισίης ᾿Αγαμέμνονος ᾿Ατρεΐδαο.
τοῖσι δὲ πόλλ’ ἐπέτελλε Γερήνιος ἱππότα Νέστωρ
δενδίλλων ἐς ἕκαστον, ᾿Οδυσσῆϊ δὲ μάλιστα,
πειρᾶν ὡς πεπίθοιεν ἀμύμονα Πηλεΐωνα.

Τὼ δὲ βάτην παρὰ θῖνα πολυφλοίσβοιο θαλάσσης
πολλὰ μάλ’ εὐχομένω γαιηόχῳ ἐννοσιγαίῳ
ῥηϊδίως πεπιθεῖν μεγάλας φρένας Αἰακίδαο.
Μυρμιδόνων δ’ ἐπί τε κλισίας καὶ νῆας ἱκέσθην,
τὸν δ’ εὗρον φρένα τερπόμενον φόρμιγγι λιγείῃ
καλῇ δαιδαλέῃ, ἐπὶ δ’ ἀργύρεον ζυγὸν ἦεν,
τὴν ἄρετ’ ἐξ ἐνάρων πόλιν ᾿Ηετίωνος ὀλέσσας·
τῇ ὅ γε θυμὸν ἔτερπεν, ἄειδε δ’ ἄρα κλέα ἀνδρῶν.
Πάτροκλος δέ οἱ οἶος ἐναντίος ἧστο σιωπῇ,
δέγμενος Αἰακίδην ὁπότε λήξειεν ἀείδων,
τὼ δὲ βάτην προτέρω, ἡγεῖτο δὲ δῖος ᾿Οδυσσεύς,
στὰν δὲ πρόσθ’ αὐτοῖο· ταφὼν δ’ ἀνόρουσεν ᾿Αχιλλεὺς
αὐτῇ σὺν φόρμιγγι λιπὼν ἕδος ἔνθα θάασσεν.
ὣς δ’ αὔτως Πάτροκλος, ἐπεὶ ἴδε φῶτας, ἀνέστη.
τὼ καὶ δεικνύμενος προσέφη πόδας ὠκὺς ᾿Αχιλλεύς·
χαίρετον· ἦ φίλοι ἄνδρες ἱκάνετον ἦ τι μάλα χρεώ,
οἵ μοι σκυζομένῳ περ ᾿Αχαιῶν φίλτατοί ἐστον.

Early Greek at some point in its history had a full system of nominal and verbal endings for what we call the dual number.  To add to the number distinction between singular and plural, both Greek and Sanskrit have a dual form to describe pairs of things acting together: eyes, twins, people, etc. In most cases the sound marking the dual is quite distinct: the combination wo in two and the long vowel in both are good examples of the vestigial dual persisting in English.

Classical Greek retained a limited use of the dual and Homeric Greek preserves it here and there. The most striking place where it shows up in the Iliad is in describing the movement of two heralds from one place to another. So, when Agamemnon sends heralds to retrieve the captive woman Briseis from Achilles in book 1 of the Iliad, we find dual forms for their pronouns and their verbal endings.

The embassy includes three speakers, Odysseus, Achilles’ older ‘tutor’ Phoenix, and his cousin, the powerful warrior, Ajax the son of Telamon. The two heralds accompany them as well. Yet the pronouns and verbal forms that describe them move between dual and plural forms. The grammarian responds that this is incorrect because there are at least five entities involved here. Modern responses over the past century have been:

  1. The text needs to be fixed, the duals have come from an older/different version of the poem that had a smaller embassy (with several variations)
  2. The traditional use is imperfect, the dual is being used for groups. Some scholiasts suggest that audiences would have just used the dual for the plural
  3. The dual herald scene is merely formulaic and has been left in without regard for changes in the evolution of the narrative
  4. The text is focalized in some way, showing Achilles (e.g.) refusing to acknowledge the presence of someone he dislikes (Odysseus, see Nagy 1979) or focusing on two people he does like (Phoenix and Ajax, Martin 1989)
  5. The text is jarring on purpose, highlighting that something is wrong with this scene

Ancient commenters seem less bothered by the forms: an ancient scholiast suggests that the first dual form refers to Ajax and Odysseus because Phoinix hung back to get more instruction from Nestor (Schol ad. Il. 9.182). Of course, this interpretation doesn’t even try to explain what happened to the actual heralds who were sent along with the embassy. Yet the interaction of forms seems to give some support to a complex reading. The number and entanglement of the forms makes interpolation seem unlikely (if not ludicrous) as an explanation.

I have presented the responses in a sequence that I see as both historical (in terms of traditions of literary criticism) and evolutionary. The first response–that the text is wrong–assumes infidelity in the transmission from the past and entrusts modern interpreters with the competence to identify errors and interpolations and to ‘correct’ them. The second response moves from morphological to functional, positing that ancient performers might have ‘misused’ the dual for present during a period of linguistic change. Neither of these suggestions are supported by the textual traditions which preserve the duals without significant exception and which show only a very marked and appropriate use of the dual throughout Homeric epic.

The final three answers depend upon the sense of error explored in the first two: first, a greater understanding of oral-formulaic poetry extends the Parryan suggestion that some forms are merely functional and do not express context specific meaning (#3) while the second option models a complex style of reading/reception that suggests the audience understands the misuse of the dual to evoke the internal thoughts/emotions of the character Achilles in one way or another. 

The third explanation is harder to defend based on how integrated the dual forms are in the passage: the dual is used to describe travel to Achilles’ tent, then the scene shifts to Achilles playing a lyre and Patroklos waiting for him to stop followed again by dual forms with what seems like and enigmatic line “and so they both were walking forth, and shining Odysseus was leading” (tō de batēn proterō, hēgeito de dios Odusseus). Ancient commentary remains nonplussed: Odysseus is first of two, the line makes that clear, and Phoinix is following somewhere behind. 

Nagy’s and Martin’s explanations are attractive and they respond well to the awkward movement between dual and plural forms as well as Achilles specific use of the dual in hailing the embassy with a bittersweet observation. I think I like taking these two together, leaving it up to audiences to decode Achilles’ enigmatic greeting.

The final option builds on the local context of the Iliad and sees the type scene as functioning within that narrative but with some expectation that audiences know the forms and the conventions. As others have argued, the use of the duals to signal the movement of heralds is traditional and functional in a compositional sense because it moves the action of the narrative from one place to another. In the Iliad, the herald scene marks a movement from one camp to another, building on what I believe is its larger conventional use apart from composition which is to mark the movement from one political space, or one sphere of authority to another. When Agamemnon sends the heralds in book 1 to retrieve Briseis, the action as well as the language further marks Achilles’ separation from the Achaean coalition. In book 9, the situation remains the same–Achilles is essentially operating in a different power-structure–but the embassy is an attempt to address the difference. The trio sent along with the heralds as ambassadors are simultaneously friends and foreign agents. Appropriately, the conventional language of epic reflects this tension by interposing the duals and reflecting the confused situation.

I would suggest that in this situation most of the responses except for the first two are valid. The first two responses–that the text is wrong or the usage is wrong–selectively accept the validity of some of the text but not that they find challenging for interpretive reasons or assume a simplicity on the part of ancient audiences (and many generations in between). My primary qualm with the subsequent responses is the tendency to wholly credit a creative intention rather than the collaborative ecosystem of meaning available to Homeric performance. In the telling of epic tales, it may well have been customary to manipulate conventional language through creative misuse; and yet, if audiences are not experienced enough of the forms or attentive enough to the patterns, such usage would not likely be sustained. Audiences (like the ancient scholar) imagine Phoinix lagging behind, or Achilles focusing just on one character, or sense the pattern of alienation and separation that makes it necessary to treat Achilles as a foreign entity and not an ally.

So, while the text relies on audience competency with epic conventions, this specific articulation also allows for depth of characterization in this moment: The final three interpretive options cannot be fully disambiguated, although we can argue for greater weight to the typological argument.

Here are some recent texts with good bibliographies on the issue. I strongly encourage everyone to run out and read Lesser’s brand new Desire in the Iliad

Jasper Griffin. Commentary on Iliad 9. Oxford. 1995

Rachel H. Lesser. Desire in the Iliad. Oxford. 2023.

Bruce Louden. The Iliad: Structure, Myth, and Meaning Oxford 2006.

Richard Martin. The Language of Heroes. 1989.

Gregory Nagy. Best of the Achaeans. Baltimore: 1979

Ruth Scodel. Listening to Homer. Michigan, 2002.

Close up on the eyes of the Mona lisa

Little Speeches and Possible Worlds

F 30 Cic. Att. 15.3.2

“I long to help Brutus in every way I am able. I note that you feel the same thing I do about his little speech. I don’t really get what you expect me to include in a speech that Brutus gave when he has published that one.

How can this work? Or should I write, Against the Tyrant Murdered In Accordance With the Law? Many things will be said, many things will be written by us, but in another way and a different time.”

Brutum omni re qua possum cupio iuvare; cuius de oratiuncula idem te quod me sentire video. sed parum intellego quid me velis scribere quasi a Bruto habita oratione, cum ille ediderit. qui tandem convenit? an sic ut in tyrannum iure optimo caesum? multa dicentur, multa scribentur a nobis, sed alio modo et tempore.

Painting from Grandes heures de Rohan

Poisoned Arrows and an Etymology for Toxic

Aristotle, On Marvellous things heard, 86 [=837a]

“People claim that among the Celts there is a drug which they call the “arrow” [toxikon]. They report that it induces so quick a death that the Celts’ hunters, whenever they have shot a deer or some other animal, rush ahead to cut off its flesh before it is penetrated completely by the drug both for the sake of using the meat and so that the animal might not rot.

They also claim that the oak tree’s bark has been found to be an antidote for the poison. But others claim that there is a leaf which that call “raven’s leaf” because they have seen ravens, once they taste the poison mentioned before and start to feel the drug’s effect, rush to this leaf and stop their suffering by eating it.”

Φασὶ δὲ παρὰ τοῖς Κελτοῖς φάρμακον ὑπάρχειν τὸ καλούμενον ὑπ᾿ αὐτῶν τοξικόν· ὃ λέγουσιν οὕτω ταχεῖαν ποιεῖν τὴν φθορὰν ὥστε τῶν Κελτῶν τοὺς κυνηγοῦντας, ὅταν ἔλαφον ἢ ἄλλο τι ζῷον τοξεύσωσιν, ἐπιτρέχοντας ἐκ σπουδῆς ἐκτέμνειν τῆς σαρκὸς τὸ τετρωμένον πρὸ τοῦ τὸ φάρμακον διαδῦναι, ἅμα μὲν τῆς προσφορᾶς ἕνεκα, ἅμα δὲ ὅπως μὴ σαπῇ τὸ ζῷον. εὑρῆσθαι δὲ τούτῳ λέγουσιν ἀντιφάρμακον τὸν τῆς δρυὸς φλοιόν· οἱ δ᾿ ἕτερόν τι φύλλον, ὃ καλοῦσι κοράκιον διὰ τὸ κατανοηθῆναι ὑπ᾿ αὐτῶν κόρακα, γευσάμενον τοῦ φαρμάκου καὶ κακῶς διατιθέμενον, ἐπὶ τὸ φύλλον ὁρμήσαντα τοῦτο καὶ καταπιόντα παύσασθαι τῆς ἀλγηδόνος.

Toxic Dictionary
OED is missing this etymology

This comes from the Greek nominal root for bow:


We could also just do this:


The taste of your lips
I’m on a ride
You’re toxic I’m slippin’ under
With a taste of a poison paradise
I’m addicted to you
Don’t you know that you’re toxic?
And I love what you do
Don’t you know that you’re toxic?”

Luck and Gossip’s Bite

Pindar, Pythian 2. 49-57

“The god authorizes every outcome on his own expectations–
the god who races the winged eagle,
Outdoes the sea-dwelling dolphin and
Brings the arrogant mortals to their knees,
And then grants unaging glory to other people.

I need to escape the gnawing bite of bad gossip–
I have watched from afar while Archilochus,
That shit-talker, is pressed to helplessness
Thanks to hateful words.
Getting rich with luck
Is the best allotment of wisdom.”

θεὸς ἅπαν ἐπὶ ἐλπίδεσσι τέκμαρ ἀνύεται,
θεός, ὃ καὶ πτερόεντ᾿ αἰετὸν κίχε, καὶ θαλασ-
σαῖον παραμείβεται
δελφῖνα, καὶ ὑψιφρόνων τιν᾿ ἔκαμψε βροτῶν,
ἑτέροισι δὲ κῦδος ἀγήραον παρέδωκ᾿. ἐμὲ δὲ χρεών
φεύγειν δάκος ἀδινὸν κακαγοριᾶν·
εἶδον γὰρ ἑκὰς ἐὼν τὰ πόλλ᾿ ἐν ἀμαχανίᾳ
ψογερὸν Ἀρχίλοχον βαρυλόγοις ἔχθεσιν
πιαινόμενον· τὸ πλουτεῖν δὲ σὺν τύχᾳ
πότμου σοφίας ἄριστον.

Picture of a fragment of a Roman wall painting. Two women incline their heads toward each other
Roman wall painting of women gossiping. Getty Villa 96.AG.302

A Typology of Fear for a Spooky Time of Year

Here are some passages to go with Seneca’s ruminations on the fear of death.)

Stobaeus 2.7.10c [=Diogenes Laertius 7.113]

“Hesitation is fear of future action. Agony is fear of failure and otherwise fear of worse outcomes. Shock is fear of an uncustomary surprise. Shame is fear of a bad reputation. A ruckus is fear pressing down with sound. Divine fright is fear of gods or divine power. Terror is fear of a terrible thing. A fright is fear that comes from a story.”

     ῎Οκνος δὲ φόβος μελλούσης ἐνεργείας· ἀγωνία δὲ φόβος διαπτώσεως καὶ ἑτέρως φόβος ἥττης· ἔκπληξις δὲ φόβος ἐξ ἀσυνήθους φαντασίας· αἰσχύνη δὲ φόβος ἀδοξίας· θόρυβος δὲ φόβος μετὰ φωνῆς κατεπείγων· δει-σιδαιμονία δὲ φόβος θεῶν ἢ δαιμόνων· δέος δὲ φόβος δεινοῦ· δεῖμα δὲ φόβος ἐκ λόγου.


“Fear: flight or cowardice. Fear is expecting evil. These emotions are categorized as fear: terror, hesitation, shame, shock, commotion, anxiety. Terror is fear that brings dread. Hesitation is fear about future action. Shame is fear about a bad reputation. Shock is fear from an unusual thing. Commotion is fear from a striking sound. Anxiety is fear of an uncertain matter.”

Φόβος: φυγή. καὶ ἡ δειλία. Φόβος δέ ἐστι προσδοκία κακοῦ. εἰς δὲ τὸν φόβον ἀνάγεται ταῦτα· δεῖμα, ὄκνος, αἰσχύνη, ἔκπληξις, θόρυβος, ἀγωνία. δεῖμα μὲν οὖν ἐστι φόβος δέος ἐμποιῶν, ὄκνος δὲ φόβος μελλούσης ἐνεργείας, αἰσχύνη δὲ φόβος ἀδοξίας, ἔκπληξις δὲ φόβος ἐκ φαντασίας ἀσυνήθους πράγματος, θόρυβος δὲ φόβος μετὰ κατεπείξεως φωνῆς· ἀγωνία δὲ φόβος ἀδήλου πράγματος.

Image result for Ancient Greek monster vase

Of Songs and Sigma Stigma

P. Oxy. 1604 (13, 1919) = Strabo 10.3.13 + Dion. Hal. de comp. verb. 14 + Athen. 10.455BC

“Pindar, in the Dithyramb that begins “in ancient times”, mentions other previous songs to Dionysus from ancient times and later, and then changes subjects. He says “Great mother, the crashing of tambourines are ready to start. And there are also castanets to sound, and torches underneath the pale pine trees.

Dionysus in his work On Literary Composition, comments “The sigma is neither charming nor euphonic and is super annoying when it is used too much. The hissing sound seems more like a wild, irrational animal’s voice than a rational one. For this reason, many ancient poets tried to use the sound infrequently and in a limited way. Indeed, there are some who used to compose entire odes without sigmas at all! Pindar says this when he continues:

Before that time the dithryamb
Song slid along a straight path and
People sensed the letter san as suspect

Athenaeus has “When it comes to Pindar’s asigmatic ode, Clearchus claims that he composed the following, putting it in some kind of a problem in lyric poetry, since many had mocked him for not avoiding the letter because it was difficult and it made him look bad. People should keep this in mind when they consider those who criticize the asigmatic Ode by Lasos of Hermione called Centaurs or the asigmatic hymn to Demeter of Hermione also by Lasos.

P. Oxy. 1604 (13, 1919). Strabo 10.3.13

Πίνδαρος ἐν τῷ διθυράμβῳ οὗ ἡ ἀρχή· πρὶν διθυράμβων, μνησθεὶς τῶν περὶ τὸν Διόνυσον ὕμνων τῶν τε παλαιῶν καὶ τῶν ὕστερον, μεταβὰς ἀπὸ τούτων φησί· σοὶ μὲν κατάρχειν, μᾶτερ μεγάλα, πάρα ῥόμβοι κυμβάλων· ἐν δὲ καχλάδων κρόταλ᾿, αἰθομένα τε δᾲς ὑπὸ ξανθαῖσι πεύκαις.

Dion. Hal. de comp. verb. 14 ἄχαρι δὲ καὶ ἀηδὲς τὸ σ καὶ πλεονάσαν σφόδρα λυπεῖ· θηριώδους γὰρ καὶ ἀλόγου μᾶλλον ἢ λογικῆς ἐφάπτεσθαι δοκεῖ φωνῆς ὁ συριγμός· τῶν γοῦν παλαιῶν τινες σπανίως ἐχρῶντο αὐτῷ καὶ πεφυλαγμένως, εἰσὶ δ᾿ οἳ καὶ ἀσίγμους ὅλας ᾠδὰς ἐποίουν· δηλοῖ δὲ τοῦτο καὶ Πίνδαρος ἐν οἷς φησι· μὲν ἀνθρώποι:

πρὶν μὲν εἷρπε σχοινοτένειά τ᾿ ἀοιδὰ διθυράμβω
καὶ τὸ σὰν κίβδηλον ἀνθρώποις.1.

Athen. 10.455BC Πίνδαρος δὲ πρὸς τὴν ἀσιγμοποιηθεῖσαν ᾠδήν, ὡς ὁ αὐτός φησι Κλέαρχος, οἱονεὶ γρίφου τινὸς ἐν μελοποιίᾳ προβληθέντος, ὡς πολλῶν τούτῳ προσκρουόντων διὰ τὸ ἀδύνατον εἶναι ἀποσχέσθαι τοῦ σίγμα καὶ διὰ τὸ μὴ δοκιμάζειν, ἐποίησε· πρὶν μὲν ἀνθρώποις. ταῦτα σημειώσαιτ᾿ ἄν τις πρὸς τοὺς νοθεύοντας Λάσου τοῦ Ἑρμιονέως τὴν ἄσιγμον ᾠδήν, ἥτις ἐπιγράφεται Κένταυροι. καὶ ὁ εἰς τὴν Δήμητρα δὲ τὴν ἐν Ἑρμιόνῃ ποιηθεὶς τῷ Λάσῳ ὕμνος ἄσιγμός ἐστιν.

black and white picture of a snake with an s shape
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Cicero: A Liar Will Probably Commit Perjury Too

Cicero, Pro Quinctui Roscio 16

“Still,” he said, “Cluvius told Lucius and Manilius he was not on sworn oath.” If he told them while sworn in, would you believe? What is the difference between a perjurer and a liar? A man who is accustomed to lying, can get used to committing perjury.

I can easily get a man to perjure himself once I am able to persuade him to lie. For once someone has departed from the truth, he is not in the habit of being constrained by greater belief from perjury than from lying. For what man who is not moved by the force of his own conscience is moved by invocation of the gods?

The reason for this is that the gods dispense the same penalty for the perjurer and the liar. The gods become enraged and punish a man not for the institution which frames the swearing of the words but because of the evil and the malice that these traps are set for another person.”

XVI. “Dicit enim,” inquit, “iniuratus Luscio et Manilio.” Si diceret iuratus, crederes? At quid interest inter periurum et mendacem? Qui mentiri solet, peierare consuevit. Quem ego, ut mentiatur, inducere possum, ut peieret, exorare facile potero. Nam qui semel a veritate deflexit, hic non maiore religione ad periurium quam ad mendacium perduci consuevit. Quis enim deprecatione deorum, non conscientiae fide commovetur? Propterea, quae poena ab dis immortalibus periuro, haec eadem mendaci constituta est; non enim ex pactione verborum, quibus ius iurandum comprehenditur, sed ex perfidia et malitia, per quam insidiae tenduntur alicui, di immortales hominibus irasci et suscensere consuerunt.

Image result for medieval manuscript perjury
Sinon. Augustine, La Cit de Dieu, Books I-X. Paris, Ma tre Franois (illuminator); c. 1475-1480.

Chance and Virtue: Epictetus Says some Things

᾿Επικτήτου (fr. 1 III p. 65 ed. Schweigh.).

Fr. 2

“A life interwoven with chance is like a stormy river: it is troubled, mixed up with filth, hard to cross, tyrannical, noisy, and brief.”

῾Ο τύχῃ βίος συμπεπλεγμένος ἔοικε χειμάρρῳ ποταμῷ· καὶ γὰρ ταραχώδης καὶ ἰλύος ἀνάμεστος καὶ δυσέμβατος καὶ τυραννικὸς καὶ πολύηχος καὶ ὀλιγοχρόνιος.

Fr. 3

“A life commingled with virtue is like an eternal spring: it is clean, untroubled, drinkable and sweet, communal and wealthy, without harm and indestructible”

Ψυχὴ ὁμιλοῦσα ἀρετῇ ἔοικεν ἀενάῳ πηγῇ· καὶ γὰρ καθαρὸν καὶ ἀτάραχον καὶ πότιμον καὶ νόστιμον καὶ κοινωνικὸν καὶ πλούσιον καὶ ἀβλαβὲς καὶ ἀνώλεθρον.

Fr. 4

“If you want to be good, first believe that you are evil.”

Εἰ βούλει ἀγαθὸς εἶναι, πρῶτον πίστευσον ὅτι κακὸς εἶ.

Fr. 20

“Examine in yourself whether you desire to be wealthy or lucky. If you want wealth, know that it is neither good nor wholly yours. If you desire to be happy understand that it is good and under your power. One is the timely gift of chance, the other is a choice.”

᾿Εξέταζε σαυτὸν πότερον πλουτεῖν θέλεις ἢ εὐδαιμονεῖν. καὶ εἰ μὲν πλουτεῖν, ἴσθι ὅτι οὔτε ἀγαθὸν οὔτε ἐπὶ σοὶ πάντῃ, εἰ δὲ εὐδαιμονεῖν, ὅτι καὶ ἀγαθὸν καὶ ἐπὶ
σοί. ἐπεὶ τὸ μὲν τύχης ἐπίκαιρον δάνειον, τὸ δὲ [τῆς εὐδαιμονίας] προαιρέσεως.

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‘Frontispiece depicting Epictetus from A selection from the Discourses of Epictetus with the Encheiridion