From my diary

Portions of this post are written under the UK government legislation controlling criticism of homosexuality.

Summer has suddenly arrived, with massive heat and glaring sun.  I’ve had to go and lie down with a headache!  Not used to the bright light, I’m afraid.  I have some interesting emails to deal with, but they’ll have to wait until Monday.

Something made me search around the web last night for information on the Lex Scantiniana, which prohibited unnatural vice.  I found quite a lot of politically-motivated rubbish, pretending that in fact it did not prohibit homosexuality. If Juvenal wasn’t one of my favourite authors, and his second satire not more or less engraved on my mind verbatim, I might have been more impressed.  Yet those writing were evidently academics.  It reminded me of just why I always held the humanities in contempt in the 80’s, as merely a bunch of people decorating their politics and prejudices with the aid of handbooks. 

But it caused me to look again at Juvenal, who indeed says what I remembered him saying.  Ramsay’s translation omits the grosser elements of the translation, and quite properly — who wants to know such things?  But it leaves little doubt that homosexuality was prohibited by the Scantinian law; indeed the remarks made would have no point otherwise.

Apparently the text of the Scantinian Law is lost, and all we have are references, starting with Cicero ca. 50 BC.  It would probably be good to compile all the data on a page.  But not while I can’t see straight!  And anyway… who really wants to chase down the facts about a vice and its practice and regulation?  Let’s think of things about which we can be enthusiastic.  The squalid elements of human society have always been with us; it is the other side that makes mankind noble and worthwhile, and the study of his history a delight. 

On, then, to other things.

A copy of Shapland’s translation of the Letters to Serapion by Athanasius arrived yesterday.  Bless Glasgow University library, who once again came to my rescue with a loan of an obscure book.  I owe more than I can say to the staff at that institution, which I have never visited.  Down the years they have been prepared to lend me all sorts of things. 

I scanned the text in Finereader 10, which I detest more and more.  Attempts to export the result as a PDF failed; or rather, the PDF was complete rubbish.  I thought I would just pick up the raw TIFF files and combine them using Adobe Acrobat; but in FR10 they have decided to hide the image files inside some kind of proprietary format.  FR10 also fought me when I wanted to split images and when I wanted to export the scanned text to a Word document.  It just isn’t designed for book scanning these days, I think.

A note back from the translator of the Coptic portions of Eusebius Gospel Problems and Solutions; apparently the transcription of the Coptic isn’t that good, with lines missing.  This is a blow.  Also the font used — Keft — is really for Sahidic.  I had not known that the different dialects of Coptic used different fonts, but it seems to be so.  I wonder if a Bohairic font exists anywhere?

Another email tells me that the translation of Chrysostom’s sermon In Kalendas is still progressing, which is good news.


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