hermes 2

Dixerat. ille patris magni parere parabat
imperio; et primum pedibus talaria nectit
aurea, quae sublimem alis sive aequora supra
seu terram rapido pariter cum flamine portant.
tum virgam capit: hac animas ille evocat Orco
pallentis, alias sub Tartara tristia mittit,
dat somnos adimitque et lumina morte resignat.
illa fretus agit ventos et turbida tranat
nubila. iamque volans apicem et latera ardua cernit
Atlantis duri caelum qui vertice fulcit,
Atlantis, cinctum adsidue cui nubibus atris
piniferum caput et vento pulsatur et imbri;
nix umeros infusa tegit, tum flumina mento
praecipitant senis, et glacie riget horrida barba.
hic primum paribus nitens Cyllenius alis
constitit; hinc toto praeceps se corpore ad undas
misit avi similis, quae circum litora, circum
piscosos scopulos humilis volat aequora iuxta.
(Vergil, Aen. 4.238-255)

So he spoke. And the other prepared to obey these parental
Orders. He first straps boots to his feet. They are ankle-high, golden,
And, having wings, take him upwards in flight over seas, over dry land,
Swift as a rising current of air. Next he picks up his special
Wand, which he uses to call up the pale, wan spirits from Orcus,
Or to dispatch others down below earth, into Tartarus’ grimness.
With it, he gives or takes sleep, makes eyes remain open on deathbeds,
And, with its help, he can navigate winds, weather turbulent cloudbanks.
Now, as he swoops, he discerns both the summit and steep flanks of rugged
Atlas, who levers aloft, on his peak, all the weight of the heavens,
Atlas, whose pine-covered head is eternally banded with storm clouds,
Battered by wind and by rain. Round his shoulders is strewn a mantle
Thickened with snowfall; and down from the chin of this elderly being
Cataracts plunge, and his beard-bristle freezes to icicled stiffness.
Here Mount Cyllene’s god, powered in on his glistening paired wings,
First touched down. From there, powered out by the weight of his body,
Seaward he dived like a tern, who’s been circling shorelines and cliff pools
Teeming with fish, skimming wave-tops.
(tr. Frederick Ahl)



Μηδ’ ἄντ’ ἠελίου τετραμμένος ὀρθὸς ὀμείχειν·
αὐτὰρ ἐπεί κε δύῃ, μεμνημένος, ἔς τ’ ἀνιόντα,
μηδ’ ἀπογυμνωθείς· μακάρων τοι νύκτες ἔασιν·
μήτ’ ἐν ὁδῷ μήτ’ ἐκτὸς ὁδοῦ προβάδην οὐρήσεις·
ἑζόμενος δ’ ὅ γε θεῖος ἀνήρ, πεπνυμένα εἰδώς,
ἠ’ ὅ γε πρὸς τοῖχον πελάσας εὐερκέος αὐλῆς.
μηδ’ αἰδοῖα γονῇ πεπαλαγμένος ἔνδοθι οἴκου
ἱστίῃ ἐπελαδὸν παραφαινέμεν, ἀλλ’ ἀλέασθαι.
μηδ’ ἀπὸ δυσφήμοιο τάφου ἀπονοστήσαντα
σπερμαίνειν γενεήν, ἀλλ’ ἀθανάτων ἀπὸ δαιτός.
μηδέ ποτ’ ἐν προχοῇς ποταμῶν ἅλαδε προρεόντων
μηδ’ ἐπὶ κρηνάων οὐρεῖν, μάλα δ’ ἐξαλέασθαι,
μηδ’ ἐναποψύψειν· τὸ γὰρ οὔ τοι λώϊόν ἐστιν.
(Hesiod, Erga kai Hēmerai 727-759)

And do not urinate standing up facing the sun; but be mindful to do so after it sets, and before it rises, but even so do not completely bare yourself; for the nights belong to the blessed ones. And do not urinate while you are walking, on the road or off the road: it is crouching that the god-fearing man, who knows wisdom, does it, or after he has approached towards the wall of a well-fenced courtyard. And inside the house do not reveal your genitals besmirched with intercourse near the hearth, but avoid this. And do not sow offspring when you come home from an ill-spoken funeral, but from a dinner of the immortals. And do not ever urinate into the streams of rivers that flow down towards the sea nor onto fountains – avoid this entirely – and do not defecate into them: for that is not better. (tr. Glenn W. Most)


Arrows blotting out the sun-2

Λακεδαιμονίων δὲ καὶ Θεσπιέων τοιούτων γενομένων ὅμως λέγεται ἀνὴρ ἄριστος γενέσθαι Σπαρτιήτης Διηνέκης· τὸν τόδε φασὶ εἰπεῖν τὸ ἔπος πρὶν ἢ συμμεῖξαί σφεας τοῖσι Μήδοισι, πυθόμενον πρός τευ τῶν Τρηχινίων ὡς ἐπεὰν οἱ βάρβαροι ἀπίωσι τὰ τοξεύματα, τὸν ἥλιον ὑπὸ τοῦ πλήθεος τῶν ὀϊστῶν ἀποκρύπτουσι· τοσοῦτο πλῆθος αὐτῶν εἶναι· τὸν δὲ οὐκ ἐκπλαγέντα τούτοισι εἰπεῖν, ἐν ἀλογίῃ ποιεύμενον τὸ τῶν Μήδων πλῆθος, ὡς πάντα σφι ἀγαθὰ ὁ Τρηχίνιος ξεῖνος ἀγγέλλοι, εἰ ἀποκρυπτόντων τῶν Μήδων τὸν ἥλιον ὑπὸ σκιῇ ἔσοιτο πρὸς αὐτοὺς ἡ μάχη καὶ οὐκ ἐν ἡλίῳ.
(Herodotus, Hist. 7.226)

Such were the proofs of valour given by the Lacedemonians and Thespians; yet the Spartan Dienekes is said to have proved himself the best man of all, the same who, as they report, uttered this saying before they engaged battle with the Medes:—being informed by one of the men of Trachis that when the Barbarians discharged their arrows they obscured the light of the sun by the multitude of the arrows, so great was the number of their host. He was not dismayed by this, but making small account of the number of the Medes, he said that their guest from Trachis brought them very good news, for if the Medes obscured the light of the sun, the battle against them would be in the shade and not in the sun. (tr. George Campbell Macaulay, revised by Donald Lateiner)



Proxima forte hosti erat cohors Paeligna, cuius praefectus Vibius Accaus arreptum vexillum trans vallum hostium traiecit. exsecratus inde seque et cohortem, si eius vexilli hostes potiti essent, princeps ipse per fossam vallumque in castra irrupit. iamque intra vallum Paeligni pugnabant, cum altera parte, Valerio Flacco tribuno militum tertiae legionis exprobrante Romanis ignaviam qui sociis captorum castrorum concederent decus, T. Pedanius princeps primus centurio, cum signifero signum ademisset, “iam hoc signum et hic centurio” inquit “intra vallum hostium erit; sequantur qui capi signum ab hoste prohibituri sunt.” manipulares sui primum transcendentem fossam, dein legio tota secuta est. iam et consul, ad conspectum transgredientium vallum mutato consilio ab revocando ad incitandos hortandosque versus milites, ostendere in quanto discrimine ac periculo fortissima cohors sociorum et civium legio esset. itaque pro se quisque omnes per aequa atque iniqua loca, cum undique tela conicerentur armaque et corpora hostes obicerent, pervadunt irrumpuntque; multi volnerati etiam quos vires et sanguis desereret, ut intra vallum hostium caderent nitebantur. capta itaque momento temporis velut in plano sita nec permunita castra. caedes inde, non iam pugna erat omnibus intra vallum permixtis.
(Livy 25.14.4-10)

Nearest to the enemy happened to be a Paelignian cohort, whose prefect Vibius Accaus seized the banner and threw it over the enemy’s earthwork. Then, with a curse upon himself and the cohort if the enemy should get possession of that banner, he was himself the first to dash over the trench and wall into the camp. And already the Paelignians were fighting inside the wall, when from the other side of the camp, while Valerius Flaccus, tribune of the soldiers of the third legion, was reproaching the Romans for their cowardice in yielding to allies the honour of capturing the camp, Titus Pedanius, first centurion of the principes, took a standard away from the standard-bearer and said “This standard and this centurion will in a moment be inside the enemy’s wall. Let those follow who are to prevent the standard from being captured by the enemy.” First the men of his own maniple followed him as he crossed the trench, then the whole legion. And now the consul at the sight of men crossing the wall changed his plan, turned from recalling his soldiers to arousing and encouraging them, and pointed out to them in what a critical and perilous situation were the bravest cohort of the allies and a legion of their fellow-citizens. And so, each doing his best, over ground favourable and unfavourable, while javelins were being hurled from every side and the enemy were interposing weapons and their bodies, they made their way and burst in. Many wounded men, even those whose strength and blood were ebbing, strove to fall inside the enemy’s wall. And so in a moment’s time the camp was captured, just as if pitched on level ground and not strongly fortified. Then came slaughter, no longer mere battle, since everything inside the wall was in confusion. (tr. Frank Gardner Moore)


Carlo Crivelli, Sant'Agostino (misschien!) e San Girolamo, 149x
Carlo Crivelli, Sant’Agostino (?) e San Girolamo

Quaeso igitur et te* iterum atque iterum deprecor, ut ignoscas disputatiunculae meae et, quod modum meum egressus sum, tibi imputes, qui coegisti, ut rescriberem, et mihi cum Stesichoro oculos abstulisti. nec me putes magistrum esse mendacii, qui sequor Christum dicentem ‘ego sum via et vita et veritas’ [John 14:6], nec potest fieri, ut veritatis cultor mendacio colla submittam, neque mihi imperitorum plebeculam concites, qui te venerantur ut episcopum et in ecclesia declamantem sacerdotii honore suscipiunt, me autem aetatis ultimae et paene decrepitum ac monasterii et ruris secreta sectantem parvi pendunt, et quaeras tibi, quos doceas sive reprehendas. ad nos enim tantis maris atque terrarum at te divisos spatiis vix vocis tuae sonus pervenit et, si forsitan litteras scripseris, ante eas Italia ac Roma suscipiet, quam ad me, cui mittendae sunt, deferantur.

* The addressee is Augustine.

(Jerome, Ep. 112.18)

I ask you, therefore, and with all urgency press the request, that you forgive me this humble attempt at a discussion of the matter; and wherein I have transgressed, lay the blame upon yourself who compelled me to write in reply, and who made me out to be as blind as Stesichorus. And do not bring the reproach of teaching the practice of lying upon me who am a follower of Christ, who said, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is impossible for me, who am a worshipper of the Truth, to bow under the yoke of falsehood. Moreover, refrain from stirring up against me the unlearned crowd who esteem you as their bishop, and regard with the respect due the priestly office the orations which you deliver in the church, but who esteem lightly an old decrepit man like me, courting the retirement of a monastery far from the busy haunts of men; and seek others who may be more fitly instructed or corrected by you. For the sound of your voice can scarcely reach me, who am so far separated from you by sea and land. And if you happen to write me a letter, Italy and Rome are sure to be acquainted with its contents long before it is brought to me, to whom alone it ought to be sent. (tr. John George Cunningham)


Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys, Medea (1868)

“Audi, cara soror, patiens me nostra loquentem
arcana et miserae potius succurre sorori!
excrucior, nostris et se novus ossibus ardor
implicat; ardentes carpit mihi flamma medullas,
nec soleo tales poenas talesve calores
ferre. quis hic nostram tantum premit advena mentem!
qua forma, qua virtute est, quo praeditus ille
eloquio! quibus ortis avis! quis splendor ab eius
ore fluit! non divinus decor ille videtur?
non facies digna illa deo, non coniuge dignus
regina Iunone? Iovine simillimus ille?
at certe ille mihi miros incussit amores,
et volui, fateor namque, his obsistere; sed me
concitat ardentem vis maior et undique cogit.
iam mihi dulce nihil possim sperare sine illo,
non requiem, non ullam ausim sperare salutem!
decrevi – et mentem ne quaere refellere nostram –
actutum, soror, Haemonio succurrere regi.
illum ego monstra – bonus quid enim peccavit Iaso? –
artibus infabricata meis superare docebo.
non adeo crudele mihi ingeniumve protervum est,
ut per me Aesonides viridi exstinguatur in aevo!
ille, ubi me certo sociam stabilique ligarit
conubio, patrias secum traducet in oras.
ipsa equidem durum –  sic stat sententia – patrem,
has etiam sedes et regna paterna relinquam;
sed te, oro, huic accinge, soror dilecta, labori:
vade virumque ad me interea, dum nigra silet nox,
duc tempusque aptum furare: ego foedera secum
percutiam firmaque sibi me lege dicabo.”
(Maffeo Vegio, Vellus Aureum 3.126-155)

“Give ear, devoted sister, and allow me to voice my secret. Lend help, I beg you, to your lovesick sister! I am tortured, and a new flame entwines itself amid my bones. The fire grasps at my burning marrow. I am not accustomed to endure such suffering, such hell-fire. Who is this outsider who has so enslaved my mind! With what presence, what nobility, what eloquence is he endowed! From what ancestry he is sprung! What brilliance pours from his features! Does not his grace appear god-like? Are not his features worthy of a god, is het not worthy of queen Juno as wife? Is het not most like Jupiter? He has inspired in me for sure a love to marvel at, and – I admit it to you – it was my desire to stand firm against it. But a mightier force stirs me afire, and drives me this way and that. Already I am incapable of expecting anything sweet without him nor would I dare to hope for any peace of mind, any salvation. I have made my decision – don’t attempt to reverse my thinking – forthwith, sister mine, to lend help to the Haemonian king. I myself will be his teacher – for of what malfeasance is good Jason guilty? – to overcome the monsters wrought by my arts. My nature is neither so cruel nor so fierce as to be the means of annihilating Jason in the prime of youth! When he has bound me as his partner in the sure, enduring alliance of matrimony, he will carry me with him to his paternal shores. I myself – and my decision remains unshaken – will leave behind our hard-hearted father, along with this dwelling and the kingdom of our forefathers. But, I pray you, beloved sister, gird yourself for this effort. Go now and, in night’s dark silence, grasping in stealth the appropriate moment, lead the man to me. I will enter into compact with him and proclaim myself his in the firmness of law.” (tr. Michael C.J. Putnam)



Καὶ αὐτῆς ἄλλα τε καλῶς εἰρημένα ἀποφθέγματα φέρεται, καὶ ὅτι γυμνούς ποτε ἄνδρας ἀπαντήσαντας αὐτῇ καὶ μέλλοντας διὰ τοῦτο θανατωθήσεσθαι ἔσωσεν, εἰποῦσα ὅτι οὐδὲν ἀνδριάντων ταῖς σωφρονούσαις οἱ τοιοῦτοι διαφέρουσι. πυθομένου τέ τινος αὐτῆς πῶς καὶ τί δρῶσα οὕτω τοῦ Αὐγούστου κατεκράτησεν, ἀπεκρίνατο ὅτι αὐτή τε ἀκριβῶς σωφρονοῦσα, καὶ πάντα τὰ δοκοῦντα αὐτῷ ἡδέως ποιοῦσα, καὶ μήτε ἄλλο τι τῶν ἐκείνου πολυπραγμονοῦσα, καὶ τὰ ἀφροδίσια αὐτοῦ ἀθύρματα μήτε ἀκούειν μήτε αἰσθάνεσθαι προσποιουμένη. τοιαύτη μὲν ἡ Λιουία ἐγένετο…
(Cassius Dio, Hist. 58.2.5)

Among the many excellent utterances of hers that are reported are the following. Once, when some naked men met her and were to be put to death in consequence, she saved their lives by saying that to chaste women such men are no whit different from statues. When someone asked her how and by what course of action she had obtained such a commanding influence over Augustus, she answered that it was by being scrupulously chaste herself, doing gladly whatever pleased him, not meddling with any of his affairs, and, in particular, by pretending neither to hear of nor to notice the favourites that were the object of his passion. Such was the character of Livia. (tr. Earnest Cary)