Katastrepsousa

Γλῶσσα, ποῖ πορεύῃ; πόλιν ἀνορθώσουσα καὶ πόλιν καταστρέψουσα· ἐπὶ τῶν διὰ λόγων ἢ ὠφελούντων ἢ βλαπτόντων.
(Zenobius, Vulgata 2.99 = Diogenianus, Paroemiae 4.9)

O tongue where are you going? Answer: to rebuild a city and to tear down a city; in reference to those who are either helping or harming through their words. (tr. Jennifer Benedict)

Γλῶσσα, ποῖ πορεύῃ; πόλιν ἀνορθώσουσα καὶ πάλιν ἀναστρέψουσα, id est ‘Lingua, quo vadis? Erectum civitatem, eandem denuo subversura’. Refertur a Suida, Zenodoto, Diogeniano. Docet linguam plurimum utilitatis adferre mortalibus, et eandem rursum plurimam adferre perniciem, tametsi membrum corporis sit perquam exiguum. Proinde divus Iacobus apostolus eam clavo navis adsimilem facit, quae, cum pars sit minima, tamen totam navem aut servat, aut evertit. Bias, referente Plutarcho in libello ‘De audiendo’, rursum in alio ‘De loquacitate’, Amasidi Aegyptiorum tyranno iubenti, ut sibi, quod esset in victimae, quam illum miserat, carnibus et optimum et pessimum mitteret, linguam resectam misit, innuens huius usum esse praecipuum, sive prodesse cupias, sive nocere. Nec inscite dictum est a Solomone capite decimo octavo: ‘Mors et vita in manibus linguae’ [Proverbia 18:21].
(Erasmus, Adagia 2.2.39 (= 1139))

Γλῶσσα, ποῖ πορεύῃ; πόλιν ἀνορθώσουσα καὶ πάλιν ἀναστρέψουσα, Tongue, whither wouldst thou? To build a city, and then again to overthrow it. Recorded by Suidas, Zenodotus and Diogenianus. Its message is that the tongue can be the greatest benefit to mortals and again can bring on them the greatest disasters, although as a member of the body it is very small indeed. Hence the apostle St James compares it to a nail in a ship’s timbers, which is a very small part of the whole and yet either keeps the ship safe and sound or destroys it. Plutarch in his essay ‘On How to Study’ tells a story of Bias, which recurs in his ‘On Garrulity;’ when Amasis, tyrant of Egypt, told Bias to bring him the best and worst pieces of meat in the victim which he sent him, Bias cut out the tongue and sent that, indicating that it was the outstanding instrument, whether you wish to do good or harm. There is much point in Solomon’s remark in chapter 18, that ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue.’ (tr. Roger A.B. Mynors)

Mentitur

‘Unde ergo,’ inquitis, ‘tantum de vobis Famae licuit, cuius testimonium suffecerit forsitan conditoribus legum?’ quis, oro, sponsor aut illis tunc aut exinde vobis de fide Famae? nonne haec est ‘Fama malum, quo non aliud velocius ullum’ [cf. Vergil, Aen. 4.174] ? cur malum, si vera semper sit? non mendacio plurimum? quae ne tum quidem, cum vera defert, a libidine mendacii cessat, ut non falsa veris intexat adiciens, detrahens, varietate confundens. quid, quod ea condicio illi, ut nonnisi quod mentitur perseveret? tamdiu enim vivit quamdiu non probat quicquam, siquidem approbata cadit et quasi officio nuntiandi functa decedit; exinde res tenetur, res nominatur, nec quisquam dicit verbi gratia: ‘hoc Romae aiunt factum,’ aut ‘fama est illum provinciam sortitum,’ sed: ‘ille provinciam sortitus est,’ et ‘hoc factum est Romae.’
(Tertullian, Ad Nationes 1.7)

You will say, how is it possible that such a hideous reputation has grown up around you Christians as to convince our lawmakers of its testimony? And I shall ask who was the advocate for your lawmakers in their own time and for you in the present time to vouch for this reputation? Could it perhaps have been: ‘Rumor, an evil of matchless speed’? But why evil, if it is always true? Is it in fact not largely false? Even when it reports the truth, it does not set aside its lust for lying. Rumor weaves falsehood in with the truth by a process of addition, subtraction and scrambling. She can maintain her existence only by lying. She lives on only as long as she fails to prove anything. As soon as a rumor is proven to be true, it expires. Having conveyed its message, it departs. When the report is real and is declared a fact no one will say, ‘They say that this happened in Rome.’ Or, ‘Rumor has it that he has been assigned a province.’ Rather, it will be said, ‘This happened in Rome.’ Or ‘He has been assigned a province.’ (tr. Quincy Howe)

Haeret

Non parva igitur est prudentiae praerogativa, si quis arte quadam, et decore, specimen sui apud alios exhibere possit: virtutes suas, merita, atque fortunam etiam (quod sine arrogantia aut fastidio fieri possit) commode ostentando; contra, vitia, defectus, infortunia et dedecora, artificiose occultando: illis immorans, easque veluti ad lumen obvertens; his subterfugia quaerens, aut apte ea interpretando eluens; et similia. itaque, de Mutiano, viro sui temporis prudentissimo, et ad res gerendas impigerrimo, Tacitus; ‘omnium quae dixerat feceratque arte quadam ostentator’ [cf. Tacitus, Hist. 2.80]. indiget certe res haec arte nonnulla, ne taedium et contemptum pariat: ita tamen, ut ostentatio quaepiam, licet usque ad vanitatis primum gradum, vitium sit potius in ethicis, quam in politicis. sicut enim dici solet de calumnia ‘audacter calumniare; semper aliquid haeret’, sic dici possit de iactantia, etsi plane deformis fuerit et ridicula: ‘audacter te vendita; semper aliquid haeret.’ Haerebit certe apud populum, licet prudentiores subrideant. Itaque existimatio parta apud plurimos paucorum fastidium abunde compensabit.
(Francis Bacon, De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum 8.2)

It is therefore no unimportant attribute of prudence in a man to be able to set forth to advantage before others, with grace and skill, his virtues, fortunes, and merits (which may be done without arrogance or breeding disgust); and again, to cover artificially his weaknesses, defects, misfortunes, and disgraces; dwelling upon the former and turning them to the light, sliding from the latter or explaining them away by apt interpretations and the like. Tacitus says of Mucianus, the wisest and most active politician of his time, ‘That he had a certain art of setting forth to advantage everything he said or did.’ And it requires indeed some art, lest it become wearisome and contemptible; but yet it is true that ostentation, though carried to the first degree of vanity, is rather a vice in morals than in policy. For as it is said of calumny, ‘Calumniate boldly, for some of it will stick,’ so it may be said of ostentation (except it be in a ridiculous degree of deformity), ‘Boldly sound your own praises, and some of them will stick.’ It will stick with the more ignorant and the populace, though men of wisdom may smile at it; and the reputation won with many will amply countervail the disdain of a few. (tr. Francis Bacon)

Tumultuositas

Populus iuxta sanctiones divinas ducendus est, non sequendus; et ad testimonium personae magis eliguntur honestae. nec audiendi qui solent dicere: vox populi, vox Dei; cum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit.
(Alcuin, Capitulare Admonitionis ad Carolum = Ep. 166.9)

The people must be led according to divine laws, not followed, and by the examples provided by more respectable people. Those who say “the voice of the people is the voice of God” should not be heeded, for the hubbub of the crowd is always rather close to madness. (tr. Jeff Sypeck)

Olbos

Τοῖσι λάμπει μὲν μένος ἀελίου
τὰν ἐνθάδε νύκτα κάτω,
φοινικορόδοις ‹δ’› ἐνὶ λειμώνεσσι προάστιον αὐτῶν
καὶ λιβάνων σκιαρᾶν ‹             ›
   καὶ χρυσοκάρποισιν βέβριθε ‹δενδρέοις›
καὶ τοὶ μὲν ἵπποις γυμνασίοισι ‹τεˉˉ›
   τοὶ δὲ πεσσοῖς
τοὶ δὲ φορμίγγεσσι τέρπονται, παρὰ δέ σφισιν
   εὐανθὴς ἅπας τέθαλεν ὄλβος·
  ὀδμὰ δ’ ἐρατὸν κατὰ χῶρον κίδναται
†αἰεὶ . . θύματα μειγνύντων πυρὶ τηλεφανεῖ
‹παντοῖα θεῶν ἐπὶ βωμοῖς›
[           ]ε̣οι μοῖρ’ ἔνθα . [
[           ]δώροις βουθυ[
  [           ]φ̣αν ἄλοχόν [
[            ]αν·
[            ]π̣ρ̣ὸς [Ὄ]λυμπον [

(Pindar, fr. 129)

For them shines the might of the sun
below during nighttime up here,
and in meadows of red roses their country abode
is laden with . . . shady frankincense trees
and trees with golden fruit,
and some take delight in horses and exercises,
others in draughts,
and others in lyres; and among them
complete happiness blooms and flourishes.
A fragrance spreads throughout the lovely land,
as they continually mingle offerings of all kinds
(with far-shining fire on the gods’ altars)*.
portion from there
gifts, oxen-sacrifice(s)
wife
. . . . . .
to Olympus

* The papyrus omits v. 10 in the passage from Plutarch.

(tr. William H. Race, with his note)

Taratteton

4587873_orig

Ἐγὼ δ’ ὄνομα τὸ μὲν καθ’ ἑκάστην αὐτίκα
λέξω· συνάπασαι δ’ εἰσὶ παντοδαπαὶ πόλεις,
αἳ νῦν ἀνοηταίνουσι πολὺν ἤδη χρόνον.
τάχ’ ἄν τις ὑποκρούσειεν ὅ τι ποτ’ ἐνθάδε
νῦν εἰσι κἀνέροιτο· παρ’ ἐμοῦ πεύσεται.
τὸ χωρίον μὲν γὰρ τόδ’ ἐστὶ πᾶν κύκλῳ
Ὀλυμπία, τηνδὶ δὲ τὴν σκηνὴν ἐκεῖ
σκηνὴν ὁρᾶν θεωρικὴν νομίζετε.
εἶεν· τί οὖν ἐνταῦθα δρῶσιν αἱ πόλεις;
ἐλευθέρι’ ἀφίκοντο θύσουσαί ποτε,
ὅτε τῶν φόρων ἐγένοντ’ ἐλεύθεραι σχεδόν.
κἄπειτ’ ἀπ’ ἐκείνης τῆς θυσίας διέφθορεν
αὐτὰς ξενίζουσ’ ἡμέραν ἐξ ἡμέρας
ἀβουλία κατέχουσα πολὺν ἤδη χρόνον.
γυναῖκε δ’ αὐτὴν δύο ταράττετόν τινε
ἀεὶ συνοῦσαι, δημοκρατία θατέρᾳ
ὄνομ’ ἐστί, τῇ δ’ ἀριστοκρατία θατέρᾳ,
δι’ ἃς πεπαρῳνήκασιν ἤδη πολλάκις.
(Heniochus, fr. 5)

I will presently tell you the name of each and every one.
In short, all of them are cities from various places,
which have been acting like fools for a long time now.
Perhaps now someone would like to interrupt me and ask
for what reason they are here. I shall disclose this as well.
All this place around is Olympia,
and as for our scenery back there, imagine that it is
the tent of the official representatives to the festival.
Fine: What business then do the cities have here?
They came once to offer thanksgiving sacrifice
for their liberty, as soon as they were freed from taxes.
And then, after that sacrifice, they were destroyed
by irresolution, which hospitably feeds them day after day
and has them in her grasp for a long time now.
Besides, two women are always in the cities’ company
and keep them in unrest. One of them is named
Democracy, the other one Aristocracy.
Because of those two ladies, the cities
often behave madly as though they are drunk.
(tr. Ioannis M. Konstantakos)

Novorum

cicero-post

Quaeret aliquis fortasse, ‘tantumne igitur laborem, tantas inimicitias tot hominum suscepturus es?’ non studio quidem hercule ullo neque voluntate; sed non idem licet mihi quod iis qui nobili genere nati sunt, quibus omnia populi Romani beneficia dormientibus deferuntur; longe alia mihi lege in hac civitate et condicione vivendum est. venit mihi in mentem M. Catonis, hominis sapientissimi et vigilantissimi; qui cum se virtute non genere populo Romano commendari putaret, cum ipse sui generis initium ac nominis ab se gigni et propagari vellet, hominum potentissimorum suscepit inimicitias, et maximis laboribus suis usque ad summam senectutem summa cum gloria vixit. postea Q. Pompeius, humili atque obscuro loco natus, nonne plurimis inimicitiis maximisque suis periculis ac laboribus amplissimos honores est adeptus? modo C. Fimbriam, C. Marium, C. Caelium vidimus non mediocribus inimicitiis ac laboribus contendere ut ad istos honores pervenirent ad quos vos per ludum et per neglegentiam pervenistis. haec eadem est nostrae rationis regio et via, horum nos hominum sectam atque instituta persequimur. videmus quanta sit in invidia quantoque in odio apud quosdam nobilis homines novorum hominum virtus et industria; si tantulum oculos deiecerimus, praesto esse insidias; si ullum locum aperuerimus suspicioni aut crimini, accipiendum statim vulnus esse; semper nobis vigilandum, semper laborandum videmus. inimicitiae sunt, subeantur; labor, suscipiatur; etenim tacitae magis et occultae inimicitiae timendae sunt quam indictae atque apertae. hominum nobilium non fere quisquam nostrae industriae favet; nullis nostris officiis benivolentiam illorum adlicere possumus; quasi natura et genere diiuncti sint, ita dissident a nobis animo ac voluntate. quare quid habent eorum inimicitiae periculi, quorum animos iam ante habueris inimicos et invidos quam ullas inimicitias susceperis?
(Cicero, Verr. 2.5.180-182)

“Do you really mean,” I may be asked, “to enter upon so formidable a task, and to procure yourself so many bitter enemies?” Not with any eagerness, to be sure, nor of my own free will. But I have not the same privileges as men of noble birth, who sit still and see the honours our nation bestows laid at their feet; the present conditions of political life oblige me to behave far otherwise. I am reminded of that wise and clear-sighted man Marcus Cato. Believing that his merit, though not his birth, was gaining him his countrymen’s approval, and hoping to become the founder and promoter of a famous family of his own, he readily incurred the enmity of powerful persons, and at the price of immense exertions lived to be a very old and a very famous man. After him Quintus Pompeius, a man of obscure and humble origin, made many enemies, and underwent heavy toils and grave dangers, before he reached the highest position in the state. In more recent times we have seen Fimbria and Marius and Caelius contending with formidable enmities and heavy labours in order to attain the high offices which you, gentlemen, have attained by a life of indolence and indifference. For persons like myself, our lives must be planned to follow the same path and take the same direction; we belong to the school, and copy the methods, of the men I speak of. We are aware with what jealousy, with what dislike, the merit and energy of “new men” are regarded by certain of the “nobles”; that we have only to shut our eyes for a moment to find ourselves caught in some trap; that if we leave them the smallest opening for any suspicion or charge of misconduct, we have to suffer for it at once; that we must never relax our vigilance, and never take a holiday. We have enemies—let us face them; tasks to perform—let us shoulder them; not forgetting that an open and declared enemy is less formidable than one who hides himself and says nothing. There is hardly one member of the old families who looks kindly on our activity; by no services that we render them can we capture their goodwill; they withhold from us their interest and sympathy as completely as if we and they were different breeds of men. And for this reason there is little to be feared from the enmity of such people, since you have them regarding you with ill-will and jealousy long before you have done anything to make them your enemies. (tr. Leonard Hugh Graham Greenwood)

Timeat

7144763685_c4dede1589_b

Laberium asperae libertatis equitem Romanum Caesar quingentis milibus invitavit ut prodiret in scaenam et ipse ageret mimos quos scriptitabat. sed potestas non solum si invitet sed et si supplicet cogit, unde se et Laberius a Caesare coactum in prologo testatur his versibus:
‘Necessitas, cuius cursus transversi impetum
voluerunt multi effugere, pauci potuerunt,
quo me detrusti paene extremis sensibus!
quem nulla ambitio, nulla quem largitio,
nullus timor, vis nulla, nulla auctoritas
movere potuit in iuventa de statu,
ecce in senecta ut facile labefecit loco
viri excellentis mente clemente edita
submissa placide blandiloquens oratio!
etenim ipsi di negare cui nil potuerunt
hominem me denegare quis posset pati?
ego, bis tricenis annis actis sine nota,
eques Romanus e lare egressus meo,
domum revertar mimus. nimirum hoc die
uno plus vixi mihi quam vivendum fuit.
Fortuna, immoderata in bono aeque atque in malo,
si tibi erat libitum litterarum laudibus
florens cacumen nostrae famae frangere,
cur cum vigebam membris praeviridantibus
satisfacere populo et tali cum poteram viro
non flexibilem me concurvasti ut carperes?
nuncin me deicis? quo? quid ad scaenam affero?
decorem formae an dignitatem corporis,
animi virtutem an vocis iucundae sonum?
ut hedera serpens vires arboreas necat
ita me vetustas amplexu annorum enecat:
sepulchri similis nil nisi nomen retineo.’ [Laberius, fr. 90]
In ipsa quoque actione subinde se, qua poterat, ulciscebatur, inducto habitu Syri, qui velut flagris caesus praeripientique se similis exclamabat:
‘porro, Quirites, libertatem perdimus,’ [Laberius, fr. 91]
et paulo post adiecit,
‘necesse est multos timeat quem multi timent.’ [Laberius, fr. 92]
quo dicto universitas populi ad solum Caesarem oculos et ora convertit, notantes impotentiam eius hac dicacitate lapidatam. ob haec in Publilium vertit favorem.(Macrobius, Sat. 2.7.2-5)

Laberius was a harsh and outspoken Roman knight, whom Caesar for a fee of 500,000 sesterces invited to appear on the stage and to act in person in the mimes which he was always writing. But a potentate’s invitation, or even his mere request, in effect amounts to compulsion; and so it is that Laberius, in the prologue to his play, testifies to the fact that he has been compelled by Caesar with the following lines:
‘Necessity, whose slanting onslaught
many have wished, but few have been able to escape,
to what corner have you forced me almost at the end of my faculties!
No canvassing, no bribery,
no intimidation, no violence, no pressure
could ever shift me from my station in my prime;
behold in age how easily an outstanding man’s words
expressed in gentle spirit, words quietly spoken,
conciliatory nice-sounding words, have toppled me from my place!
For indeed who would be able to tolerate me,
a human, refusing him to whom the very gods have not been able to refuse anything?
I, twice thirty years spent without reproach,
having set forth from my hearth a Roman knight,
shall return home as a comic. Evidently this day
I have lived one more than I ever should have lived.
Fortune, immoderate in good and ill alike,
if it was already your fancy to snap
my reputation’s tip when it blossomed with literary praise,
why did you not bend me to pick when still resilient,
when I had the power with limbs budding at the tip
to please the Roman People and would have been able to please such a man?
Is it now that you cast me down? For what? What have I to offer the theatre?
My grace of form, or my impressive presence?
My manliness of spirit, or the sound of my melodious voice?
As creeping ivy throttles the strength of trees,
so Old Age throttles me with her embrace of years;
and like the tomb, I retain nothing but my name.’
Moreover, during the performance of the play, he was continuously taking his revenge, however he could; dressed as a Syrian, who pretended that he had been flogged, and looked like a runaway slave, he would cry out:
‘furthermore, Roman citizens, we are losing our liberty.’
And after a while he added:
‘he whom many fear must inevitably fear many.’
At the sound of these words everyone in the audience turned their eyes and faces on Caesar alone, observing that his immoderate behaviour had received a fatal blow with this caustic gibe. Because of this Caesar transferred his support to Publilius.
(tr. Costas Panayotakis; fr. 90 tr. Adrian S. Gratwick)

Tenebrosa

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Tum secreta trahens Phoebeum ad litora Mopsum
‘quaenam’ ait ‘ista lues aut quae sententia divum?
decretusne venit fato pavor an sibi nectunt
corda moras? cur immemores famaeque larisque
angimur aut pariet quemnam haec ignavia finem?’
‘Dicam’ ait ‘ac penitus causas labemque docebo.’
Mopsus et astra tuens: ‘non si mortalia membra
sortitusque breves et parvi tempora fati
perpetimur, socius superi quondam ignis Olympi,
fas ideo miscere neces ferroque morantes
exigere hinc animas redituraque semina caelo.
quippe nec in ventos nec in ultima solvimur ossa;
ira manet duratque dolor. cum deinde tremendi
ad solium venere Iovis questuque nefandam
edocuere necem, patet ollis ianua leti
atque iterum remeare licet. comes una sororum
additur et pariter terras atque aequora lustrant.
quisque suos sontes inimicaque pectora poenis
implicat et varia meritos formidine pulsant.
at quibus invito maduerunt sanguine dextrae,
si fors saeva tulit miseros, sed proxima culpa,
hos variis mens ipsa modis agit et sua carpunt
facta viros: resides et iam nil amplius ausi
in lacrimas humilesque metus aegramque fatiscunt
segnitiem, quos ecce vides. sed nostra requiret
cura viam. memori iam pridem cognita vati
est procul ad Stygiae devexa silentia noctis
Cimmerium domus et superis incognita tellus
caeruleo tenebrosa situ, quo flammea numquam
Sol iuga sidereos nec mittit Iuppiter annos.
stant tacitae frondes immotaque silva comanti
horret Averna iugo. specus umbrarumque meatus
subter et Oceani praeceps fragor arvaque nigro
vasta metu et subitae post longa silentia voces.
ensifer hic atraque sedens in veste Celaeneus
insontes errore luit culpamque remittens
carmina turbatos volvit placantia manes.
ille mihi quae danda forent lustramina caesis
prodidit, ille volens Erebum tenebrasque retexit.
ergo ubi puniceas oriens accenderit undas,
te socios adhibere sacris armentaque magnis
bina deis, me iam coetus accedere vestros
haud fas interea, donec lustralia pernox
vota fero. movet en gelidos Latonia currus:
flecte gradum, placitis sileant age litora coeptis!’
(Valerius Flaccus, Arg. 3.373-416)

Then, drawing Mopsus, the seer of Phoebus, to a sequestered region of the shore, “What means,” he asks, “this plague, or what is the mind of the gods? Is it by fate’s decree this terror comes? or do hearts contrive their own anxieties? Why forgetful of home and renown do we suffer anguish, or what end will this faint-heartedness bring to pass?” “I will tell thee,” said Mopsus, “and wholly explain the causes of this plague;” then, looking at the stars, “If we, who once were fire and high Olympus’ kin, suffer mortal frames and brief apportionments and a short span of destiny, it is not therefore right to engage in reckless slaughter and to drive hence with the sword souls that yet would tarry, and seeds that will one day return to heaven; for we are not dissolved into the breezes or into mere bones at the last: anger abides and grief endures. Thereafter when they are come to the throne of awful Jove and have set forth all the sorrowful story of their dreadful end, the gate of death is opened for them and they may return a second time; one of the Sisters is given them as a companion, and they range together over lands and seas. Each involves in penalties the guilty souls of his own foes; they rack them with various terrors after their deserving. But those whose hands have dripped with blood unwillingly—or were it cruel mischance, though nigh to guilt, that swept away the wretches—these men their own minds harry in divers ways, and their own deeds vex the doers; languid now and ventureless they decline into tears and spiritless alarms and sickly sloth: such thou doest here behold. Yet shall my thoughtful care seek out a way. Known long since to the unforgetting seer there lies, where afar the land slopes down to silence and Stygian night, the abode of the Cimmerians, a region that the Olympians know not, a land dark and desolate gloom, where the Sun never drives his flaming car and Jupiter sends not the star-appointed seasons. Soundless and still are all the branches, motionless and stark on the luxuriant ridges stand the vernal woods; below is a cavern and the winding way of the spirits and Ocean’s headlong crash, waste stretches of black dread and after long silences sudden cries. Here Celaeneus, sitting sable-shrouded and sword in hand, cleanses the innocent from their error, and remitting their fault unwinds a spell to appease the angry shades. He it was who taught me what lustrations should be made to the slain, he of his good pleasure opened the earth to Erebus below. When therefore the orient sets the crimson seas aflame, do thou summon thy comrades to the sacrifice, and bring two steers to the mighty gods; for me were it wrong meanwhile to approach your gathering, until I spend the night in cleansing prayers. Lo! Latonia’s cold chariot is on its way; turn thy steps, and see that the shores are silent for thy placating deeds.” (tr. John Henry Mozley)