Saturday, 29 November 2014
Monday, 24 November 2014
The good Strife then appears to be the envy of wealth which spurs men on to get some for themselves and jostle against each other in all walks of life for a piece of the action. It seems very close to our later formulations of the Capitalist spirit and the ideology of man as a basically selfish individual struggling and vying for riches against ones fellow as opposed to working with him for happiness. I can imagine this passage being quite a favourite of the more conservative leaning Classicists such as Boris Johnson! Peer envy is healthy and the kind of rivalry it involves, along with the begrudging and anger with which Hesiod colours it, is accepted as both necessary and good. I wonder if Hesiod envisaged any room for overlap or bleed between the two Strifes which rather seem at least to moderns to be two aspects of one being rather than two totally separate and opposed spirits as they are described here (andicha thumon).
I wonder how in Hesiod’s understanding they are totally opposed yet both involve anger and begrudging, emotions which can easily escalate into open conflict even on an individual or minor group scale. Is it entirely clear how these two Strifes are totally opposed? Perhaps he means coming from totally different directions, one from the Immortals upon high...and the other buried deep in the earth. Perhaps we could look at this in more detail when we meet!
Saturday, 15 November 2014
Saturday, 4 October 2014
|Aules Persius Flaccus 34-62 CE|
|III.l00. 'sed tremor inter vina subit...'|
Saturday, 27 September 2014
|l. 63-4 |
'Tuccia vesicae non imperat'
But no, all fall under his merciless high epic cleaver and in the process undermining the vantage point of the misogynist itself and it is this that makes me sense that earlier readers (Dryden for one – who wondered what had happened to Juvenal that had turned him so much against all womanhood) and some moderns are mistaken if they take Juvenal or indeed his constructed persona of the outraged equestrian jade at face value branding him in the process as a class ‘A’ Gender-war-criminal. Perhaps this less enlightened, black and white view has tended to diminish as modern scholarship focusses more on the concept of the Juvenalian satiric persona and its role in the presentation and development of the satires.
|l.481 'verberat atque obiter faciem linit'|
|l.76-7 'accipis uxorem de qua citharoedus Echion aut Glaphyrus fiat pater..'|
Monday, 8 September 2014
figat aprum et nuda teneat uenabula mamma,
patricios omnis opibus cum prouocet unus
quo tondente grauis iuueni mihi barba sonabat,
cum pars Niliacae plebis, cum uerna Canopi
Crispinus Tyrias umero reuocante lacernas
uentilet aestiuum digitis sudantibus aurum
nec sufferre queat maioris pondera gemmae,
difficile est saturam non scribere.’
‘When Sapless Eunuchs mount the Marriage-Bed,
Graecam urbem. quamvis quota portio faecis Achaei?
iam pridem Syrus in Tiberim defluxit Orontes
et linguam et mores et cum tibicine chordas
obliquas nec non gentilia tympana secum
vexit et ad circum iussas prostare puellas.
ite, quibus grata est picta lupa barbara mitra.
rusticus ille tuus sumit trechedipna, Quirine,
et ceromatico fert niceteria collo.
hic alta Sicyone, ast hic Amydone relicta,
hic Andro, ille Samo, hic Trallibus aut Alabandis,
Esquilias dictumque petunt a vimine collem,
viscera magnarum domuum dominique futuri.
ingenium velox, audacia perdita, sermo
promptus et Isaeo torrentior: ede quid illum
esse putes. quemvis hominem secum attulit ad nos:
grammaticus, rhetor, geometres, pictor, aliptes,
augur, schoenobates, medicus, magus, omnia novit
Graeculus esuriens: in caelum iusseris ibit.’
ipsas deinde rotas bigarum inpacta securis
caedit et inmeritis franguntur crura caballis.
iam strident ignes, iam follibus atque caminis
ardet adoratum populo caput et crepat ingens
Seianus, deinde ex facie toto orbe secunda
fiunt urceoli, pelues, sartago, matellae.
pone domi laurus, duc in Capitolia magnum
cretatumque bovem: Seianus ducitur unco
spectandus, gaudent omnes. 'quae labra, quis illi
vultus erat! numquam, si quid mihi credis, amaui
hunc hominem. sed quo cecidit sub crimine? quisnam
delator quibus indicibus, quo teste probauit?'
'nil horum; uerbosa et grandis epistula uenit
a Capreis.' 'bene habet, nil plus interrogo.'
Saturday, 6 September 2014
Thursday, 4 September 2014
I seem to running out of time with my posts! There is so much to say about Juvenal but so little time in which to make posts about him and his ‘satura’. Therefore in the interests of time I draw your attention to the very useful synopsis guide to the Satires over at Wikipedia.
The link is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satires_(Juvenal)
Friday, 22 August 2014
Salve! I have chosen three Satires which we could focus on. They are I, III and X. I will be posting on some of the other Satires, in particular the ones that until recently were left out of many versions, namely II, VI and IX. I thought that, rather than focus on these, I would nonetheless draw some attention to them and their significance by posting about them.
In general, I hope to do a post on the transmission and survival of Juvenal's text down to our times.
If you have any other Satires that you would like to zoom in on, please post your candidates or let me know how you feel by leaving a comment.
Monday, 18 August 2014
Wednesday, 13 August 2014
Salve! Evoe! Evoe!
I have been quite struck by one of the longer pieces in Catullus’ carmina, that of the mini epic or epyllion of poem 64. I don’t recall this being on the Latin syllabus all those years ago and I would probably have neglected it in favour of the racier or more pithy shorter pieces in the collection – essentially the poems that everyone knows and loves and are the most quoted ‘Vivemus mia Lesbia etc..’. But upon a closer reading this mini epic has a lot to offer, every line seems to bear traces of exquisite and careful craftsmanship and many flashes of brilliance. Catullus brings all of the tricks of the neoteroi out of the box, transforming the Alexandrian model into something altogether brilliant, action packed, passionate and even philosophical.
Dicuntur liquidas Neptuni nasse per undas
Phasidos ad fluctus et fines Aeetos,
Cum lecti iuvenes, Argivae robora pubis,
Auratam optantes Colchis avertere pellem
Ausi sunt vada salsa cita decurre puppi,
Caerula verrentes abniegis aequora palmis;’ L.1-7
Are said to have swum through the limpid
Waters of Neptune as far as the Phasian shore
And the outer limits of Aeetes, when the
Select youths, the young oaks of Argive manhood
Hoping to steal from the Cholchians the Golden Fleece
Dared to speed over the salty deep with swift keels
As they swept the blue expanse with fir-branch oars;
Squalida desertis rubigo infertur aratris.
Ipsius at sedes, quaecumque opulenta recessit
Regia, fulgenti splendent auro atque argento.'
Sedibus in mediis, Indo quod dente politum
Tincta tegit roseo conchyli purpura fuco.’ L.47-9
In the heart of the palace,
Smoothly worked in Indian ivory
And covered with purple steeped in the rosy hue
Of the shell’
The ecphrasis continues to describe the ‘other’ marriage or relationship which in stark contrast to the marriage out there in the ‘real world’ (itself an ancient fictional scene of the Homeric past) has gone badly pear shaped. It is here where the flashing movement so characteristic of the rest of the poem changes down gear and I feel that this must be intentional of Catullus (what wouldn’t be in this tightly embroidered work?) and gets very emotional. Here we are confronted with the full emotional turmoil and pain of love betrayed; the desperate loneliness and abandonment of the spurned lover Ariadne. It is also a vehicle where Catullus gets to identify his own feelings of loss and desperation, even of accusation. The two relationships couldn’t be more different. The section takes up Ariadne’s voice and rises to a crescendo of suffering and denial of the horrible reality that Theseus has left her to wander in disarray on the lonely shore. It’s a timeless and powerful expostulation of heartbreak.
Perfide, deserto liquisti in litore, Theseu?
Sicine discedens neglecto numine divum
Immemor a, devote domum periuria portas?
Nullane res potuit crudelis flectere mentis
Consilium? Tibi nulla fuit clementia praesto,
Immite ut nostri vellet miserescere pectus?’L.132-8
Far from my father’s home you leave me like this,
Faithless, faithless Theseus, on the lonely shore?
And thus departing, forgetful of the will of the gods,
Ah! are you forgetful of the curse you carry
for these lies to your home? Can nothing deflect the
purpose of your cruel mind? Was there no mercy in you
to bid your hard heart to pity me?’
Pars e divulso iactabant membra iuvenco
Pars sese tortis serpentibus incingebant,
Pars obscura cavis celebrant orgia cistis;
Orgia, quae frustra cupiunt audire profane;
Plangebant aliae proceris tympana palmis
Aut tereti tennes tinnitus aere ciebant.’ L.256-262
Some were juggling with the disarticulate limbs of a calf,
Yet others ’wrapped themselves in writhing snakes'
Others still worshipped obscure mysteries in hidden caskets,
Mysteries which the profane desire in vain to witness,
Others beat tympani with upraised palms
Or noisily beat rounded bronze cymbals with piercing clashes’
Note the repetition of pars and the onomatopoeia of t sounds in line 262.
‘Run on spindles, run on
drawing out the woof-threads’
Iustitiamque omnes cupida de mente fugarunt,
Perfudere manus fraterno sanguine fratres,
Destitit extinctos natus lugere parentes,
Optavit genitor primaevi funera nati,
Liber ut innuptae poteretur flore novercae,
Ignaro mater substernens se impia nato
Impia non veritast divos scelerare parentes:
Omnia fanda nefanda malo permixta furore
Iustificam nobis mentem avertere deorum.
Quare nec tales dignantur visere coetus,
Nec se contingi patiuntur lumine claro.’ L.397-408
And all men banished justice from their avaricious minds
And brothers drenched their hands in brother’s blood,
The son left off mourning his parent’s death,
The father wished for an early funeral for his son
So he undisturbed could enjoy deflowering the virgin bride,
The unnatural mother thrusting herself under her unconscious son,
Unafraid to commit iniquity before the household gods,
Then all right and wrong thoroughly mixed up in an evil madness
Turned us away from the righteous will of the gods,
So that they do not stoop to join with such company
Nor put up with the touch of clear daylight.’
It’s worth further investigation and continued study that is for sure.
Sunday, 10 August 2014
The bronze head of Augustus with glass and alabaster eyes; from Meroë, Sudan, ca. 27–25 BC. Photo: British Museum
Below is a link to an essay on a novel from 1972 by John Williams about and called Augustus. It's an interesting piece and sounds like an interesting novel written in the epistolatory style principally from the perspective of people around Augustus. The book is just being republished by the New York Review of Books imprint.
Perhaps we should look as this or another modern take on Rome for one of our sessions.
Friday, 1 August 2014
Thursday, 17 July 2014
Possible discussion points for the Ad Se Ipsum of Marcus Aurelius
After reading the so-called Meditations once through and then again with more attention to specific passages as well as a reading of his former tutor Fronto’s correspondence, I thought I would try to list some of the possible questions or demands we could make of this text in order to arrive at an evaluation of the work.
I managed to read the M once as I have said and the 2 volumes in the Loeb Classical Library of Fronto’s letters (many of which are to and from Marcus) and dipped briefly into Epictetus (Arrian) for a taste of austerity! Altogether it gives a fascinating insight into the life and times and concerns of a Roman emperor during the apogee of the Roman Imperial reach and fortunes, and also where we see the beginnings of the cracks in the façade to the Imperium and the seeds of problems which were eventually to overwhelm and finally to prove its downfall.
What is it? What kind of text, for what audience and purpose?
What is its organisational structure if any? The Greek is difficult for translators, koine, and neologisms and written by a non-greek. Many of Marcus' elite Roman background would have studied the classical language extensively and taught both that and possibly koine (for future administrative uses?) but I suspect that they were stronger at composing epigrams and verse than writing their own original works. So all translations have tended to suffer as a result and have had to approximate – the result is that it’s not entirely clear what point of Stoic or Epicurean philosophy he is referring to and in what sense. This is surely the fault more of the translator but some of the problem does lie with the author in my opinion, writing as he does in a slightly artificial philosopher’s Greek and with a focus on the ethical rather than the more crunchy epistemological aspects of Stoic philosophy.
What can we learn about Stoicism from this text?
Is it useful or appropriate to attempt to draw such significance from it or should we view it more sympathetically in the way of scribbled notes to oneself on the fly during travels or in the field?
Are there non-stoic elements? Epicurus, Plato Socrates etc. In what light does Marcus see them and how are they used in the notes?
What does the text tell us about Marcus? As a person, soldier, leader, Stoic; his attitudes to life and how it should be lived. Is he successful in his own Stoic project of ‘living in accordance with Nature?’ What are his recurrent themes and issues with which he struggles or succeeds?
Since it is a work without conscious intent as its driving force or any organisational pattern apart from Book I, can we expect too much in terms of distilled or coherent Stoic thought?
Alternatively, could he be seen as working through certain Stoic concepts/maxims often repeating the same themes at different points in the text in order to show them in new perspectives in the light of new and varying life experiences?
Is it possible or necessary now to divest ourselves of the Christian mindset of previous scholarship, particularly the Victorians and to some extent the Edwardians (and I am including both for and against, the Arnold/Long camp and the Plumptre/Farrar camp) and look at Marcus text from a post-christian stance taking care not to over-secularise him and fall into another error of interpretation, in order to stimulate new scholarship in the light of new work on Hellenistic thought and philosophical texts and possibly a new translation?
Marcus uses or refers to the use of rhetoric several times throughout the text [notably I.7,17], but what was his attitude to it? Does he trust it? How does it rate against philosophy for him?
I.7 'From Rusticus, to become aware of the fact that I needed amendment and training for my character, and not to be led aside into an argumentative sophistry. [for an example of what he might be referring to, see Fronto humiliating a grammarian with sophistry in Ex Auli Gellii Noctibus Atticis, xix. 10] ; nor compose treatises on speculative subjects, or deliver little homilies, or pose ostentatiously as the moral athlete or unselfish man and to eschew rhetoric poetry and fine language.' and from I.17, '..and that when I had set my heart on philosophy, I did not falll into the hands of a sophist, nor sat down at the author's desk or become a solver of syllogisms nor busied myself with physical phenomena.'
Finally, what use is the Ad Se Ipsum to us here and now in our current age? Is it merely a perennial appeal of the same old tropes, know thyself etc, or are there ways in which we can use the text to turn a light upon our present economic, psychological or even political issues that seem to obsess and beset us?
Saturday, 14 June 2014
|An even younger Marcus|
|Quintus Junius Rusticus|