We all know the Amazon.com book ordering process — you register an account, choose the book, hit the button, enter the delivery address, hit the button, choose a credit card, hit the button, display the order, and hit go.
I’d always thought of that as pretty streamlined, until today when I ordered a copy of the Loeb edition of Aulus Gellius’ Attic Nights from Book Depository. They didn’t make me create an account, or do most of that. I clicked to add the book to the basket. I clicked to check out, entered my address and card details on one spartan screen, pressed one click and it was all done.
I’ve decided that I must read the Attic Nights. Bill Thayer at Lacus Curtius has the Latin and part of the English online, which I was looking at this lunchtime. But I can’t read this sort of book on-screen, useful as it is.
In book 1, I read the first story, about how the Greeks calculated the shoe-size of Hercules, as measured from the length of the race-track at Olympia.
Another anecdote related how Demosthenes secretly approached the whore Lais, who demanded an enormous sum. Demosthenes replied that he would not purchase shame for 10,000 drachmas.
A quotation from Metellus Numidicus on marriage followed:
If we could get on without a wife, Romans, we would all avoid that annoyance; but since nature has ordained that we can neither live very comfortably with them nor at all without them, we must take thought for our lasting well-being rather than for the pleasure of the moment.
It seems like it might be a good book to read on the sofa in front of the TV on these wintry nights.