Archive for February, 2011

TLG has a free improved LSJ and click-through to texts

Tom Schmidt writes:

The TLG added a new free section to their website which contains a updated and digital version of the LSJ a dictionary which supersedes the version available at the Perseus Project. It’s quite good and has all sorts of good hyperlinks for cited authors. I talk about it a bit on my blog.

Have a look at that article, which makes clear just how useful this is, even if you don’t have a TLG subscription.

Why the life of men is like a lump of iron, according to Cato “Carmen de Moribus”

Book 11 of Aulus Gellius preserves a delightful remark by Cato the Elder from the lost Carmen de Moribus:

Indeed, human life is very like iron. If you use it, it wears out; if you do not, it is nevertheless consumed by rust. In the same way we see men worn out by toil; if you toil not, sluggishness and torpor are more injurious than toil.

Thanks to Bill Thayer for making this available online.



From my diary

My enquiry about cost of a book cover brought back a quotation of 600 GBP for a cover with plain text on it, and 1200 GBP if some picture research was required.  That’s well outside my budget.  I’ve today posted a job on the Student Gems website for a student doing graphic design for the same job.  Let’s see if I can get something more in line with my expectations.

I’m stuck at home with a virus still, which gives me a blinding headache.  But to stave off boredom I’m reading the Attic Nights of Aulus Gellius.  I’ve been turning over the corner on those passages I will want to revisit – a bad habit of mine, but then, what else can one do?  In a way, this is like what Gellius himself did, extracting passages from his reading.  Perhaps the Attic Nights might claim to be the first blog!

Rather surprisingly I cannot find PDF’s of the Loeb translation by the American academic John C. Rolfe online.  It was published in 1927-8, and must be out of copyright in the USA, I would think (unless it was renewed).

After considerable searching online I find that Prof. Rolfe’s death is mentioned in the introduction to the Loeb Quintus Curtius, which I found in a snippet: “John Carew Rolfe October 15, 1859-March 27, 1943 It is with a profound sense of a personal loss that the Editors of the Loeb Classical Library record here the death of Professor Rolfe…”  So he died in 1943, which means his work comes out of copyright in Euroland in 2013.

Secret Mark conference

An blanket email from Tony Burke of Apocryphicity:

I just wanted to bring your attention to a conference that Phil Harland and I are planning at York University April 29, 2011 on the Secret Gospel of Mark. This is intended as the first in a series of annual symposia on Christian Apocrypha, so we really hope for a good turnout. If you cannot (or would rather not) attend, please be so kind to let others know about the event (on blogs or what-have-you). See the link below for information. Thanks.

This is a Canadian university, not York in the UK as I thought on first reading.

On the link the few speakers I recognise all seem to belong to the “Secret Mark is genuine” camp.   But apparently there is no intention to push this agenda.   Tony adds:

We wanted Stephen [Carlson] to attend but he declined. He will contribute a paper to the published proceedings, however. Several other “nongenuine” scholars declined also. But we have Craig Evan, Bruce Chilton, Peter Jeffery, and Pierluigi Piovanelli, all of whome feel it is not genuine. We DID aim for balance.

I myself always had doubts about the supposed Letter to Theodore and all it contained, without ever spending much time on it.  I was persuaded definitively by Stephen Carlson’s convincing book on the subject, which crystalised much of the unease that I had found hard to articulate.   But there is certainly room for argument, I would have thought.

From my diary

I think I really do need a dust-jacket for the Eusebius book.  I’ve emailed a website which had an image that I would greatly like to use and asked if they have a larger image and if so for permission.  I’ve also emailed a designer and asked for some prices.  Let’s see what comes back.

Solon and Lycurgus in the marquis de Sade

Few of us, I hope, will have spent our time turning the pages of the kind of literature written by and for the corrupt.  If you are what you eat, in body at least, then what does “what we read” make us?  We need to be at least as careful of what we let into our heads.  I myself could do without some of the images that have come my way down the years.

An interesting email reached me, however.

I was reading a copy of De Sade’s Philosophy in the Bedroom for a history class and I came across a reference to Solon’s using pornography in the theater as public moral conditioning.

I would like to find out if this is really true; and Wikipedia says the source is an excerpt form one of Philemon’s plays- but they wrongly attribute Menander’s The Brothers to Philemon.

The reference to the pornographic work of De Sade, La Philosophie dans le boudoir, may be found easily enough online.  The French is here:

Lycurgue et Solon, bien pénétrés que les résultats de l’impudeur tiennent le citoyen dans l’état immoral essentiel aux lois du gouvernement républicain, obligèrent les jeunes filles à se montrer nues au théâtre[6].

The English translation reads:

Lycurgus and Solon, fully convinced that immodesty’s results are to keep the citizen in the immoral state indispensable to the mechanics of republican government, obliged girls to exhibit themselves naked at the theater.13

(The footnote is not a reference, unfortunately, but an elaboration).

I quickly found via Wikipedia that the 2nd century writer Athenaeus, in the Deipnosophists (= The foodies), book 13 (“Concerning Women”) (here), mentions that Solon established brothels at Athens, quoting the comic writer Philemon.

25. And Philemon, in his Brothers, relates that Solon at first, on account of the unbridled passions of the young, made a law that women might be brought to be prostituted at brothels; as Nicander of Colophon also states, in the third book of his History of the Affairs of Colophon, — saying that he first erected a temple to the Public Venus with the money which was earned by the women who were prostituted at these brothels. But Philemon speaks on this subject as follows : —

But you did well for every man, O Solon;
For they do say you were the first to see
The justice of a public-spirited measure,
The saviour of the state— (and it is fit
For me to utter this avowal, Solon) ; —
You, seeing that the state was full of men,
Young, and possess’d of all the natural appetites,
And wandering in their lusts where they’d no business,
Bought women, and in certain spots did place them,
Common to be, and ready for all comers.
They naked stand : look well at them, my youth, —
Do not deceive yourself; a’nt you well off?
You’re ready, so are they : the door is open —
The price an obol : enter straight — there is
No nonsense here, no cheat or trickery;
But do just what you like, and how you like.
You’re off: wish her good-bye; she ‘s no more claim on you.

The verse is satirical, of course, and perhaps we need not entertain this claim against Solon too seriously, particularly considering that it is being made six centuries after the supposed events.

But it’s not really the same story.

Searching further online for material about Athenian prostitution, I find suggestions that that prostitutes who danced and could provide entertainment were known as auletrides – the familiar ‘flute-players’ of ancient literature.  There is a History of Prostitution by William W. Sanger online, which on p.43 discusses (with references, thank heavens!) the miserable profession in ancient Greece.  But nothing in it associates Solon with any of this, beyond the reference in Athenaeus.

And there the trail goes cold.  Does anyone else know of anything to support the allegation of De Sade?

A medieval catalogue of classical books at the abbey of Arras

Opening my copy of G. Becker’s Catalogi bibliothecarum antiqui to a random page, I find myself looking at the following entry (p.254):

126. Monasterium S. Vedasti Atrebatense = Arras. saec. XII.

Libri philosophice artis et auctores beati Vedasti hi sunt: 1. 2. duo Virgilii. – 3.4. duo Lucani. – 5. unus Oratius. – 6. Priscianus unus. – 7-9. Boetii III. – 10. Boetius in periermeniis Aristotelis. – 11. commentum in ysagogis Porfirii. – 12. item commentum periermeniarum Aristotelis de Greco in Latinum translatum. – 13. dialectica Augustini et decem predicamenta et Arator in uno volumine. – 14. item alius Arator et Prosper in uno volumine. – 15. liber rethoricorum Tulii Ciceronis, decem predicamenta Aristotelis in uno volumine. – 16. item decem predicamenta Arist. et commentum Boecii super ea. – 17. topica Tullii Ciceronis libri III. – 18. liber Euricii, liber Probi per versus, Boetius de musica, Aurelianus de laude musice discipline, versus Hubaldi ad Carolum imperatorem, Macrobius de sumnio Scipionis, divisio mathematice, Sedulius et Iuvencus in uno volumine. – 19. Terentius. – 20. ciclus Dionisii. – 21. glosarius et maior Donatus. – 22. somnium Scipionis. – 23. passionalis medicinalis libri IV. – 24. calculatio Albini. – 25. excerptum de metrica arte. – 26. item alius de eadem arte. Libri divini hi sunt: 27. Augustinus…

And it continues with a long list of libri divini, up to number 167.   Twenty-six non-patristic or biblical texts.

Behind the strange spellings are some familiar names.  Two volumes of Vergil; two of Lucan.  “Oratius” I did not know but must be Horace, while Priscian is a grammar.  Three volumes of Boethius follow, then another on Aristotle.  Number 11 is a commentary on the Isagogue of Porphyry, followed by a commentary on the Peri Hermenias or De interpretatione which the cataloguer seems to realise is a translation from Greek into Latin.  Cicero is then well represented; and there are two copies of the Dream of Scipio, quoted by Macrobius and thereby preserved from Cicero’s De republica.

It’s not always clear which text is meant.  The monkish cataloguer had no list of works at his disposal, which he could consult in cases of uncertainty.  All he could do was read the rubrics at the head of each book and transcribe the sometimes corrupted entries. 

It’s an interesting game, to look at these entries and try to puzzle out what they mean.   I commend it to everyone.

From my diary

Some samples of book production and paper have arrived from Lightning Source, so I can make the final decisions for the Eusebius book.  I’m not as impressed with the general standard of book construction as I would like to be, although it is certainly better quality than Lulu.   I’ll need to email them about the quality of text stamping on the spine.

Otherwise I’ve done nothing, because I have a virus!  After three days of feeling exhausted to the point of nausea, and with splitting headaches, it finally occurred to me that this can’t just be the winter blues!  A nice day yesterday just resting has already done me a lot of good.

Meanwhile I have been following the news from Libya.  I have a photograph from 2006 of the wall next to the entrance to the Medina or old town in Tripoli, which looks out on Green Square.  I suspect this poster might not be there now.

Poster of Colonel Gadaffi, 2006

Superstition and fraud: the saludadores of early modern Spain

I picked up Arthur Bryant’s Samuel Pepys: the saviour of the navy from my shelves, and opened it at a passage where Pepys was travelling through Spain, while assigned to the evacuation of Tangier.  One of his aims was to investigate the Spanish saludadores — people supposed to have supernatural powers of healing.  He met one, who claimed to be able to stand in a red-hot oven unharmed, arranged for such an oven to be provided, and brought the saludador to it.  The latter confessed that it was merely an imposition on the credulity of the people.

I had never heard of these people before, and searched the web.  I found an academic article here by M. Tausier discussing them, and their powers of witch-finding — and the attitude of the ecclesisatical courts and the inquisition to  them.  Tausier records that ecclesiastical courts tended to investigate the claims, and recounts many instances of the saludador being convicted for fraud.

It is a salutory reminder to us all that people claiming the blessing of God sometimes do so purely for purposes of fraud.


From my diary

At home, watching some double-glazing being fitted to my house.  I thought I’d scan some old papers into PDF’s with my portable Fujitsu Scansnap S300.  In the process I managed to break off some small but crucial bit.  Oh well.  It has served me well.  So I ordered another — turns out to be an S1300, at nearly double the price.  The original S300 was a good buy, it seems.  In the meantime those papers can sit there.

I’ve had several emails.  One chap wrote asking if I would translate for him a 10 page Syriac letter from the French translation to English.  I suggested he create an electronic version and try Google translate.  I then found a PDF of it and scanned it myself and emailed him a .doc.  No reply to any of the last three emails, including that. 

Back to watching workmen engaged in working slowly…