Asambalos

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Ἔθυε τῷ Ποσειδῶνι ὁ Πελίης, καὶ προεῖπε πᾶσι παρεῖναι· οἱ δὲ ἤϊσαν οἵ τε ἄλλοι πολῖται καὶ ὁ ’Ιήσων. ἔτυχε δὲ ἀροτρεύων ἐγγὺς τοῦ Ἀναύρου ποταμοῦ, ἀσάμβαλος δὲ διέβαινε τὸν ποταμόν, διαβὰς δὲ τὸν μὲν δεξιὸν ὑποδεῖται πόδα· τὸν δὲ ἀριστερὸν ἐπιλήθεται, καὶ ἔρχεται οὕτως ἐπὶ δεῖπνον. ἰδὼν δὲ ὁ Πελίης συμβάλλει τὸ μαντήϊον, καὶ τότε μὲν ἡσύχασε, τῇ δ’ ὑστεραίῃ μεταπεμψάμενος αὐτὸν ἤρετο ὅ τι <ἄν> ποιοίη εἰ αὐτῷ χρησθείη ὑπό του τῶν πολιτῶν ἀποθανεῖν· ὁ δὲ Ἰήσων, πέμψαι ἂν εἰς Αἶαν αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τὸ κῶας τὸ χρυσόμαλλον, ἄξοντα ἂν ἀπὸ Αἰήτεω. ταῦτα δὲ τῷ Ἰήσονι Ἥρη ἐς νόον βάλλει, ὡς ἔλθοι ἡ Μήδεια τῷ Πελίῃ κακόν.
(Pherecydes of Athens, fr. 105)

Pelias was sacrificing to Poseidon, and summoned all to attend. Among the citizens who came was Jason. He happened to be ploughing near the river Anauros, which he crossed without his sandals on; once across he tied on the right one, but forgot the left, and thus he came to the feast. Pelias saw him and understood the oracle. For the time being he kept quiet, but the next day he sent for him and asked what he would do if he had an oracle saying that one of the citizens would kill him; Jason replied that he would send him to fetch the golden fleece from Aietes. Hera put this in Jason’s mind so that Medea’s arrival would spell doom for Pelias. (tr. Robert Louis Fowler)

Sicas

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This is part 3 of 3. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.

Quid ego nunc tibi de Africa, quid de testium dictis scribam? nota sunt, et ea tu saepius legito; sed tamen hoc mihi non praetermittendum videtur, quod primum ex eo iudicio tam egens discessit quam quidam iudices eius ante illud iudicium fuerunt, deinde tam invidiosus ut aliud in eum iudicium cottidie flagitetur. hic se sic habet ut magis timeant, etiam si quierit, quam ut contemnant, si quid commoverit. quanto melior tibi fortuna petitionis data est quam nuper homini novo, C. Coelio! ille cum duobus hominibus ita nobilissimis petebat ut tamen in iis omnia pluris essent quam ipsa nobilitas, summa ingenia, summus pudor, plurima beneficia, summa ratio ac diligentia petendi; ac tamen eorum alterum Coelius, cum multo inferior esset genere, superior nulla re paene, superavit. qua re tibi, si facies ea quae natura et studia quibus semper usus es largiuntur, quae temporis tui ratio desiderat, quae potes, quae debes, non erit difficile certamen cum iis competitoribus qui nequaquam sunt tam genere insignes quam vitiis nobiles; quis enim reperiri potest tam improbus civis qui velit uno suffragio duas in rem publicam sicas destringere?
(Quintus Tullius Cicero, Commentariolum Petitionis 10-12)

Need I write now to you of Africa and the statements of the witness? All that is well known; read it yourself, again and again. Yet this, I think, I should not leave out—that he came out of that trial as impoverished as some of his jury were before that trial, and so hated that there are daily clamours for another prosecution against him. His condition is such that, so far from fearing him even if he is doing nothing, I should despise him if he makes trouble. How much better luck has fallen to you in your canvass than to C. Coelius, another “new man,” a while ago! He stood against two men of the highest nobility, yet whose nobility was the least of their assets—great intelligence, high conscience, many claims to gratitude, great judgement and perseverance in electioneering; yet Coelius, though much inferior in birth and superior in almost nothing, defeated one of them. So for you, if you do what you are well endowed for doing by nature and by the studies which you have always practised—what the occasion demands, what you can and should do—it wil not be a hard contest with these competitors who are by no means as eminent in birth as they are notable in vice. Can there be a citizen so vile as to want to unsheathe, with one vote, two daggers against the State? (tr. David Roy Shackleton Bailey)

Nequitia

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This is part 2 of 3. Part 1 is here. Part 3 is here.

Alter vero, di boni! quo splendore est? primum nobilitate eadem. num maiore? non. sed virtute. quam ob rem? quod Antonius umbram suam metuit, hic ne leges quidem, natus in patris egestate, educatus in sororiis stupris, corroboratus in caede civium, cuius primus ad rem publicam aditus in equitibus Romanis occidendis fuit (nam illis quos meminimus Gallis, qui tum Titiniorum ac Nanneiorum ac Tanusiorum capita demetebant, Sulla unum Catilinam praefecerat); in quibus ille hominem optimum, Q. Caucilium, sororis suae virum, equitem Romanum, nullarum partium, cum semper natura tum etiam aetate quietum, suis manibus occidit. quid ego nunc dicam petere eum tecum consulatum qui hominem carissimum populo Romano, M. Marium, inspectante populo Romano vitibus per totam urbem ceciderit, ad bustum egerit, ibi omni cruciatu lacerarit, vix vivo et spiranti collum gladio sua dextera secuerit, cum sinistra capillum eius a vertice teneret, caput sua manu tulerit, cum inter digitos eius rivi sanguinis fluerent; qui postea cum histrionibus et cum gladiatoribus ita vixit ut alteros libidinis, alteros facinoris adiutores haberet; qui nullum in locum tam sanctum ac tam religiosum accessit in quo non, etiam si in aliis culpa non esset, tamen ex sua nequitia dedecoris suspicionem relinqueret; qui ex curia Curios et Annios, ab atriis Sapalas et Carvilios, ex equestri ordine Pompilios et Vettios sibi amicissimos comparavit; qui tantum habet audaciae, tantum nequitiae, tantum denique in libidine artis et efficacitatis, ut prope in parentum gremiis praetextatos liberos constuprarit?
(Quintus Tullius Cicero, Commentariolum Petitionis 9-10)

As to the other, good heavens! What is his claim to glory? First, he has the same noble birth. Any greater nobility? No. But he has greater manliness. Why? Only because Antonius is afraid of his own shadow, whereas Catiline does not even fear the law. Born in his father’s beggary, bred in debauchery with his sister, grown up in civil slaughter, his first entry into public life was a massacre of Roman Knights (for Sulla had put Catiline in sole charge of those Gauls we remember, who kept mowing off the heads of Titinius and Nanneius and Tanusius and all). Among them he killed with his own hands his sister’s husband, the excellent Quintus Caucilius, a Roman Knight, neutral in politics, a man always inoffensive by nature and by that time also through advancing age. Need I go on? He to be running for the consulship with you—he who scourged Marcus Marius, the Roman People’s darling, all around the town before the Roman People’s eyes, drove him to the tomb, mangled him there with every torture, and with a sword in his right hand, holding his head of hair in his left, severed the man’s neck as he barely lived and breathed and carried the head in his hand, while rills of blood owed between his fingers! And then he lived with actors and gladiators as his accomplices, the former in lust, the latter in crime—he who could not enter any place so sacred and holy that he did not leave it under suspicion of being polluted by his mere wickedness, even if other people were guiltless; who got as his closest friends from the Senate House men like Curius and Annius, from the auctioneers’ halls men like Sapala and Carvilius, from the Order of Knights men like Pompilius and Vettius; who has such impudence, such wickedness, and besides such skill and efficiency in his lust that he has raped children in smocks practically at their parents’ knees. (tr. David Roy Shackleton Bailey)

Navo

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James Purefoy as Mark Anthony in Rome

This is part 1 of 3. Part 2 is here. Part 3 is here.

Ac multum etiam novitatem tuam adiuvat quod eius modi nobiles tecum petunt ut nemo sit qui audeat dicere plus illis nobilitatem quam tibi virtutem prodesse oportere. nam P. Galbam et L. Cassium summo loco natos quis est qui petere consulatum putet? vides igitur amplissimis ex familiis homines, quod sine nervis sint, tibi pares non esse. at Antonius et Catilina molesti sunt. immo homini navo, industrio, innocenti, diserto, gratioso apud eos qui res iudicant, optandi competitores ambo a pueritia sicarii, ambo libidinosi, ambo egentes. eorum alterius bona proscripta vidimus, vocem denique audivimus iurantis se Romae iudicio aequo cum homine Graeco certare non posse, ex senatu eiectum scimus optimorum censorum existimatione, in praetura competitorem habuimus amico Sabidio et Panthera, cum ad tabulam quos poneret non haberet (quo iam in magistratu amicam quam domi palam haberet de machinis emit); in petitione autem consulatus caupones omnes compilare per turpissimam legationem maluit quam adesse et populo Romano supplicare.
(Quintus Tullius Cicero, Commentariolum Petitionis 7-8)

Another great help for your status as a “new man” is that your noble competitors are persons of whom nobody would venture to say that they should get more from their rank than you from your moral excellence. Who would think that Publius Galba and Lucius Cassius, high-born as they are, are candidates for the consulship? So you see that men of the greatest families are not equal to you, because they lack vigour. Or are Antonius and Catiline supposed to be the trouble? On the contrary, two assassins from boyhood, both libertines, both paupers, are just the competitors to be prayed for by a man of energy, industry, and blameless life, an eloquent speaker, with influence among those who judge in the law courts. Of those two, we have seen the one sold up by legal process; we have heard him declare on oath that he cannot compete in fair trial in Rome against a Greek; we know he was expelled from the Senate by the decision of admirable censors. He was a fellow candidate of ours for the praetorship, when Sabidius and Panthera were his only friends, when he had no slaves left to auction off (already in office he bought from the stands in the slave market a girl friend to keep openly at home). In consular candidature, rather than present himself to solicit the votes of the Roman people, he preferred a most wicked mission abroad, where he plundered all the innkeepers. (tr. David Roy Shackleton Bailey)

Devotum

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‘Impia Trinacriae sterilescant gaudia vobis
nec fecunda, senis nostri felicia rura,
semina parturiant segetes, non pascua colles,
non arbusta novas fruges, non pampinus uvas,
ipsae non silvae frondes, non flumina montes.’
rursus et hoc iterum repetamus, Battare, carmen:
‘effetas Cereris sulcis condatis avenas,
pallida flavescant aestu sitientia prata,
immatura cadant ramis pendentia mala,
desint et silvis frondes et fontibus umor,
nec desit nostris devotum carmen avenis.
haec Veneris vario florentia serta decore,
purpureo campos quae pingunt verna colore
(hinc aurae dulces, hinc suavis spiritus agri),
mutent pestiferos aestus et taetra venena;
dulcia non oculis, non auribus ulla ferantur.’
(Pseudo-Vergil, Dirae 1-24)

“Unholy and unblest, may Trinacria’s joys become barren for you and your fellows, and may the fruitful seeds in our old master’s rich lands give birth to no corn crops, the hills to no pastures, the trees to no fresh fruits, the vines to no grapes, the very woods to no leafage, the mountains to no streams!” Again and yet again, O Battarus, let us repeat this song: “Outworn be the oats of Ceres that ye bury in the furrows; pale and wan may the meadows become, parched with the heat; unripened may the drooping apples fall from the boughs! Let leaves fail the woods, let water fail the streams, but let not the song that curses fail my reeds! May these flowery garlands of Venus, with their varied beauties, which in springtime paint the fields with brilliant hues (depart, ye breezes sweet; depart, ye fragrant odours of the field!)—may they change to blasting heats and loathsome poisons; may nothing sweet to eyes or ears be wafted!” (tr. Henry Rushton Fairclough, revised by George Patrick Goold)

Fulgit

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Fulgit item, nubes ignis cum semina multa
excussere suo concursu, ceu lapidem si
percutiat lapis aut ferrum; nam tum quoque lumen
exsilit et claras scintillas dissipat ignis.
sed tonitrum fit uti post auribus accipiamus,
fulgere quam cernant oculi, quia semper ad aures
tardius adveniunt quam visum quae moveant res.
id licet hinc etiam cognoscere: caedere si quem
ancipiti videas ferro procul arboris auctum,
ante fit ut cernas ictum quam plaga per aures
det sonitum; sic fulgorem quoque cernimus ante
quam tonitrum accipimus, pariter qui mittitur igni
e simili causa, concursu natus eodem.
(Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 6.160-172)

It lightens also, when clouds by their collision have struck out many seeds of fire; as if stone or steel should strike stone, for then also a light leaps forth scattering abroad bright sparks of fire. But the reason why we hear the thunder after the eyes see the lightning is that things always take longer to reach the ears than to produce vision. The truth of this you may understand from another experience: if you should see someone at a distance cutting down a well-grown tree with a double-headed axe, you see the stroke before its thud sounds in your ears; so also we see lightning before we hear the thunder, which is produced at the same time and by the same cause as the fire and born of the same collision. (tr. William Henry Denham Rouse, revised by Martin F. Smith)

Paidikon

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This is part 3 of 3. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.

Καὶ ὁ Μενέλαος, “ἀλλὰ σύ μοι δοκεῖς,” ἔφη, “μὴ πρωτόπειρος ἀλλὰ γέρων εἰς Ἀφροδίτην τυγχάνειν, τοσαύτας ἡμῖν καταχέας γυναικῶν περιεργίας. ἐν μέρει δὲ καὶ τὰ τῶν παίδων ἀντάκουσον. γυναικὶ μὲν γὰρ πάντα ἐπίπλαστα, καὶ τὰ ῥήματα καὶ τὰ σχήματα· κἂν εἶναι δόξῃ καλή, τῶν ἀλειμμάτων ἡ πολυπράγμων μηχανή. καὶ ἔστιν αὐτῆς τὸ κάλλος ἢ μύρων, ἢ τριχῶν βαφῆς, ἢ καὶ φιλημάτων· ἂν δὲ τῶν πολλῶν τούτων γυμνώσῃς δόλων, ἔοικε κολοιῷ γεγυμνωμένῳ τῶν τοῦ μύθου πτερῶν. τὸ δὲ κάλλος τὸ παιδικὸν οὐκ ἀρδεύεται μύρων ὀσφραῖς οὐδὲ δολεραῖς καὶ ἀλλοτρίαις ὀσμαῖς, πάσης δὲ γυναικῶν μυραλοιφίας ἥδιον ὄδωδεν ὁ τῶν παίδων ἱδρώς. ἔξεστι δὲ αὐτῷ καὶ πρὸ τῆς ἐν Ἀφροδίτῃ συμπλοκῆς καὶ ἐν παλαίστρᾳ συμπεσεῖν καὶ φανερῶς περιχυθῆναι, καὶ οὐκ ἔχουσιν αἰσχύνην αἱ περιπλοκαί· καὶ οὐ μαλθάσσει τὰς ἐν Ἀφροδίτῃ περιπλοκὰς ὑγρότητι σαρκῶν, ἀλλ’ ἀντιτυπεῖ πρὸς ἄλληλα τὰ σώματα καὶ περὶ τῆς ἡδονῆς ἀθλεῖ. τὰ δὲ φιλήματα σοφίαν μὲν οὐκ ἔχει γυναικείαν, οὐδὲ μαγγανεύει τοῖς χείλεσι σινάμωρον ἀπάτην, ὡς δὲ οἶδε φιλεῖ, καὶ οὐκ ἔστι τέχνης ἀλλὰ τῆς φύσεως τὰ φιλήματα. αὕτη δὲ παιδὸς φιλήματος εἰκών· εἰ νέκταρ ἐπήγνυτο καὶ χεῖλος ἐγίνετο, τοιαῦτα ἂν ἔσχες τὰ φιλήματα. φιλῶν δὲ οὐκ ἂν ἔχοις κόρον, ἀλλ’ ὅσον ἐμφορῇ, διψῇς ἔτι φιλεῖν, καὶ οὐκ ἂν ἀποσπάσειας τὸ στόμα, μέχρις ἂν ὑφ’ ἡδονῆς ἐκφύγῃς τὰ φιλήματα.”
(Achilles Tatius, Leukippē & Kleitophōn 2.38)

Menelaus replied: ‘Well, as far as I can tell, you are no inexperienced youngster but an old hand in Aphrodite’s game! What an array of minutiae about women you have showered upon us! But now it is your turn to listen, to the boys’ case. With women, all is artificial, be it pillow-speak or technique. Even if she looks beautiful, there is some multi-talented dexterity with make-up behind it. Her beauty consists in perfumes, hair-dye, or even in kissing: strip her of most of these tricks and she looks like the jackdaw stripped of his wings in the fable*. Boys’ beauty, though, is not tended by watering it with the fragrances of perfumes, nor by any deceitful and alien odours: the sweat of boys smells sweeter than any female perfume. Even before Aphrodite’s bouts begini, he can go to the wrestling-gym to join with another and interlace bodies openly: such embraces carry no shame. What is more, a boy’s sexual clinches are not softened by doughy flesh. Bodies rub firmly against one another in these athletics of pleasure. Yes, a boy’s kisses lack the ingenuity of a woman’s. He does not trump up some lascivious deceit with his lips but kisses in the way he knows: his kisses spring not from art but from nature. Here is an image of a boy’s kiss: if nectar were to solidify and take the form of a lip, you would receive such kisses as this. Your kissing would never be satisfied: no matter how much you swallowed you would still thirst for kisses, and you would not withdraw your mouth untill the very pleasure drove you to flee from those kisses.’

* The reference is to one of Aesop’s fables (fable 103 Hausrath). The jackdaw stuck on some feathers in order to try to pass himself off as a peacock; the peacocks, however, pecked at his plumage so much that they ruined his own feathers, and he was excluded by the jackdaws too.

(tr. Tim Whitmarsh, with his note)