Piles of paper on the side and a rainy day at home

I doubt that I am alone in possessing piles of photocopies from books and articles.  Like blocks of stone they rise on every side.  Made by my own hands, mostly, the photocopies were paid for in time and money.  Many a trip to the university library has ended in a session at home reading through the products of my labours with excitement.  Then the photocopies were laid aside, as I might want them again, and never seen again.

A soft and rainy day is the perfect day to try to rediscover your furniture.  Mine has bowed under the weight of these toppling piles for years.  A whim moved me to sort some of them out, and transfer at least some of them to the cupboard, where dust does not darken nor the cleaners condemn.

Of course I have these urges every few years.  The last time was when I got a fast modern Fujitsu scanner and converted quite a lot into PDF’s.  But I couldn’t remember why a certain pile had survived.

Inspection revealed that it contained mostly materials relating to the Eusebius project.  As I looked through it, there were print-outs of catalogue entries; books that I had once sought, mostly successfully, sometimes in vain.  Cordier’s catena was listed, a reminder that I sat in Duke Humphrey’s Library once and looked through it for Eusebian material.  I can remember the hardness of the chair, and getting caught in a rainstorm outside.  I had not realised, in truth, how long the Eusebius project has been part of my life and a focus for my efforts.  I tend to think that it is only for a year or two; but in truth I have probably spent much of the last decade on it.  So our lives slip away, while we play with this or that.

Among the items I found was a copy of A. Delatte, «Le déclin de la Légende des VII Sages et les Prophéties théosophiques», Musée Belge 27 (1923), p. 97-111.  I got this when I was looking at material in Arabic derived supposedly from patristic sources.  There were all these collections of “Sayings”, often by philosophers or the like, predicting the coming of Christ, or other “wisdom” type sayings.   Such collections of sayings were analogous to the volumes of “Wit and Wisdom” that populate shops selling remaindered books.  The accuracy of attribution and quotation is probably about the same.  These collections are called gnomologia. 

Delatte’s article discussed the twilight of the classical tradition of the Seven Sages.  In Late Antiquity this unfixed myth was found useful by people such as theosophists to provide a frame for their ideas.  Consequently it connects to the idea of “famous sayings of the philosophers.”

Delatte also published in the article one of the texts feeding into this tradition, which was why I got it.  No translation, tho.  Don’t you hate it when people do that?  It’s four and a bit pages of Greek; almost worth commissioning a translation of it and giving it away.

I might try and reacquaint myself with this paper this afternoon.  I’ve created a PDF, and run it through the OCR software.  My sofa will now help me understand it!


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