Carl Schleicher, Der Bücherwurm
Carl Schleicher, Der Bücherwurm

Parcus amator opum, blandorum victor honorum
hic studia et Musis otia amica colo
Iunius Ausoniae notus testudinis ales,
quodque voluptati est, hinc capio atque fruor:
rura, domus, rigui genuinis fontibus horti
dulciaque imparium marmora Pieridum.
vivere sic placidamque iuvat proferre senectam,
docta revolventem scripta virum veterum.
(Junius Naucellius, Epigrammata Bobiensia 5)

A frugal lover of wealth, a despiser of seductive honors,
here I pursue my studies and leisure dear to the Muses,
I, Junius, acclaimed warbler of Ausonian song.
From here I take and enjoy whatever delights me:
the countryside, my house, gardens watered by natural springs,
and charming statues of the odd-numbered Muses.
Thus it is pleasing to live, and to extend my quiet old age,
reading the learned writings of men long dead.
(tr. Michael Gilleland)




<Fronto> Aufidio Victorino genero <salutem>.
<Dei, si haec> meremur, et mihi filium et tibi uxorem, ut recte proveniat, favebunt et familiam nostram liberis ac nepotibus augebunt et eos, qui ex te geniti sunt eruntque, tui similes praestabunt. cum isto quidem sive Victorino nostro sive Frontone cotidianae mihi lites et iurgia intercedunt. cum tu nullam umquam mercedem ullius rei agendae dicendaeve a quoquam postularis, Fronto iste nullum verbum prius neque frequentius congarrit quam “da”: ego contra quod possum, aut chartulas ei aut tabellas porrigo, quarum rerum petitorem eum esse cupio. nonnulla tamen et aviti ingenii signa ostendit. uvarum avidissimus est; primum denique hunc cibum degluttivit, nec cessavit per totos paene dies aut lingua lambere uvam aut labris saviari ac gingivis lacessere ac ludificari. avicularum etiam cupidissimus est; pullis gallinarum, columbarum, passerum oblectatur, quo studio me a prima infantia devinctum fuisse saepe audivi ex eis qui mihi educatores aut magistri fuerunt.
(Fronto, Ep. ad Amicos 1.12)

Fronto sends greetings to his son-in-law Aufidius Victorinus.
If we deserve it, Sir, the gods will show favour to my daughter, your wife; and they will increase our household with children and grandchildren, and will ensure that those who have been and will be born of you will be like you. As far as that little boy who is your Victorinus as well as my Fronto is concerned, not a day goes by without argument and litigation between us. You never ask for a backhander from anyone who anyone for a court appearance or speech; but the one word your little Fronto continually and repeatedly gives mouth to is ‘Give me!’ (da). I hand over whatever I can, writing-paper or tablets; these are the things I would like him to make a habit of asking for. He shows some signs of his grandfather’s character as well: he is particularly greedy for grapes. That was the first solid food he sucked down, and almost for entire days he kept licking at a grape or kissing it with his lips or biting it with his gums or playing with it. He is also particularly keen on little birds: he loves young chicks, pigeons and sparrows. I have often heard from those who were once my own tutors or teachers that right from my earliest childhood, I too was enthralled by these birds… (tr. Jane F. Gardner & Thomas Wiedemann)


Giovanni Muzzioli, La vendetta di Poppea (1876)

Ac puella vicesimo aetatis anno inter centuriones et milites, praesagio malorum iam vitae exempta, nondum tamen morte acquiescebat. paucis dehinc interiectis diebus mori iubetur, cum iam viduam se et tantum sororem testaretur communesque Germanicos et postremo Agrippinae nomen cieret, qua incolumi infelix quidem matrimonium, sed sine exitio pertulisset. restringitur vinclis venaeque eius per omnes artus exsolvuntur; et quia pressus pavore sanguis tardius labebatur, praefervidi balnei vapore enecatur. additurque atrocior saevitia, quod caput amputatum latumque in urbem Poppaea vidit. dona ob haec templis decreta quem ad finem memorabimus?
(Tacitus, Ann. 14.64.1-5)

And the girl*, in the twentieth year of her age, amid centurions and soldiers, already released from life by the presentiment of evil, could nevertheless not yet rest in death. Subsequently, after an interval of a few days, she was ordered to die, although she testified that she was now a widow and no more than a sister, and she invoked the Germanici, whom they had in common, and finally the name of Agrippina, during whose lifetime she had sustained a marriage admittedly unhappy but exempt from extermination. She was restrained with bonds, and the veins in all her limbs were severed; and because her blood, staunched by panic, trickled too slowly, she was executed by means of the steam from an extra-hot bath. And there was the addition of a more frightful savagery, in that her head, amputated and carried into the City, was seen by Poppaea. Gifts were decreed to the temples for this; and for how long shall I be recalling them?

* sc. Octavia.

(tr. Anthony John Woodman)




Ἐπειδὴ δέ, φράσαντος τοῦ Κριτίου ὅτι ἐγὼ εἴην ὁ τὸ φάρμακον ἐπιστάμενος, ἐνέβλεψέν τέ μοι τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ἀμήχανόν τι οἷον καὶ ἀνήγετο ὡς ἐρωτήσων, καὶ οἱ ἐν τῇ παλαίστρᾳ ἅπαντες περιέρρεον ἡμᾶς κύκλῳ κομιδῇ, τότε δή, ὦ γεννάδα, εἶδόν τε τὰ ἐντὸς τοῦ ἱματίου καὶ ἐφλεγόμην καὶ οὐκέτ’ ἐν ἐμαυτοῦ ἦν καὶ ἐνόμισα σοφώτατον εἶναι τὸν Κυδίαν τὰ ἐρωτικά, ὃς εἶπεν ἐπὶ καλοῦ λέγων παιδός, ἄλλῳ ὑποτιθέμενος, εὐλαβεῖσθαι μὴ κατέναντα λέοντος νεβρὸν ἐλθόντα μοῖραν αἱρεῖσθαι κρεῶν· αὐτὸς γάρ μοι ἐδόκουν ὑπὸ τοῦ τοιούτου θρέμματος ἑαλωκέναι. ὅμως δὲ αὐτοῦ ἐρωτήσαντος, εἰ ἐπισταίμην τὸ τῆς κεφαλῆς φάρμακον, μόγις πως ἀπεκρινάμην ὅτι ἐπισταίμην.
(Plato, Charmides 155c7-e3)

And then, when Critias told him that I knew the remedy [for headache], he (Charmides) looked into my eyes in the most extraordinary way and made as to ask me a question, and everyone in the palaistra moved round us to form a circle—then, my noble fellow, I saw inside his cloak and started to catch on fire and was no longer in control of myself, and I esteemed Cydias the wisest in erotic matters. For he said, by way of advice to another on the matter of a beautiful boy: “Take care lest a fawn coming before a lion be caught as a portion of meat”; for I thought that I myself had been caught by such a creature. But nonetheless when he asked if I knew the drug for the headache, with difficulty I somehow answered that I did know it. (tr. Thomas M. Tuozzo)


Aristide Maillol


[PAL.] Dicite, quandoquidem in molli consedimus herba.
et nunc omnis ager, nunc omnis parturit arbos,
nunc frondent silvae, nunc formosissimus annus.
incipe, Damoeta; tu deinde sequere, Menalca.
alternis dicetis; amant alterna Camenae.
[DAM.] ab Iove principium Musae, Iovis omnia plena;
ille colit terras, illi mea carmina curae.
[MEN.] et me Phoebus amat; Phoebo sua semper apud me
munera sunt, lauri et suave rubens hyacinthus.
[DAM.] malo me Galatea petit, lasciva puella,
et fugit ad salices et se cupit ante videri.
(Vergil, Buc. 55-65)


[PAL.] Sing on, now that we are seated on the soft grass. Every field, every tree is now budding: now the woods are green, now the year is at its loveliest. Begin, Damoetas; then you, Menalcas, must follow. You must sing alternately; the Muses love alternate verses.
[DAM.] With Jove my song begins; of Jove all things are full. He makes the earth fruitful; he cares for my verses.
[MEN.] And me Phoebus loves; Phoebus always finds with me the presents he loves, laurels and sweet-blushing hyacinths.
[DAM.] Galatea, saucy girl, pelts me with an apple, then runs off to the willow—and hopes I saw her first.
(tr. Henry Rushton Fairclough, revised by George Patrick Goold)



Altius ingenio raptus quam corpore, mundos
innumeros potuit animo numerasse suosque
Pythagoras superos. stupidus narrante dolebat
Magnus Anaxarcho; nec aperto lingua dolori
defuit, et morbum gemitu testatus anhelo:
‘ha miser!’ exclamat ‘vacuos rectoris inermes
tot video mundos, mihi nondum serviat unus;
nec mea dignatur casa mundus sceptra, nec unum
exaequasse Iovem Pellaeis glorior armis.’
o nimis excurrens praesumptio! nescia votis
ambitio praeferre modum, quae sola iubendi
anxia, diis solis regnantibus invidet orbem.
fixum non habuit successum gloria: Magnum
parvula, qui mundos sitiebat, sorbuit urna.
(Johannes de Hauvilla, Architrenius 6.15)

Borne aloft more in understanding than in body, the mind of Pythagoras was capable of enumerating innumerable worlds, each with its gods. Stupefied by Anaxarchus’s account, great Alexander grieved; speech was not lacking to express his grief openly, and he revealed his suffering in a pitiful groan: “Wretch that I am!” he cries, “for I behold so many worlds, lacking rulers and defenseless, but as yet not a single world owes service to me; not even the world where I dwell acknowledges my scepter, nor may I glory in having made myself the equal of even a single Jove by force of Pellaean arms.” O too unrestrained Presumption! Ambition that knows no limit to its hopes, tormented by the desire to command, looks jealously on a world ruled only by its gods. But the pursuit of glory attains no lasting success: a little urn swallowed the great Alexander, who had thirsted for entire worlds. (tr. Winthrop Wetherbee)



Itaque de isto feremus sententiam, an oporteat fastidire senectutis extrema et finem non opperiri, sed manu facere. prope est a timente, qui fatum segnis exspectat, sicut ille ultra modum deditus vino est, qui amphoram exsiccat et faecem quoque exsorbet. de hoc tamen quaeremus, pars summa vitae utrum faex sit an liquidissimum ac purissimum quiddam, si modo mens sine iniuria est et integri sensus animum iuvant nec defectum et praemortuum corpus est; plurimum enim refert, vitam aliquis extendat an mortem. at si inutile ministeriis corpus est, quidni oporteat educere animum laborantem? et fortasse paulo ante quam debet faciendum est, ne, cum fieri debebit, facere non possis; et cum maius periculum sit male vivendi quam cito moriendi, stultus est, qui non exigua temporis mercede magnae rei aleam redimit. paucos longissima senectus ad mortem sine iniuria pertulit, multis iners vita sine usu sui iacuit; quanto deinde crudelius iudicas aliquid ex vita perdidisse quam ius finiendae? noli me invitus audire, tamquam ad te iam pertineat ista sententia, et quid dicam aestima; non relinquam senectutem, si me totum mihi reservabit, totum autem ab illa parte meliore; at si coeperit concutere mentem, si partes eius convellere, si mihi non vitam reliquerit, sed animam, prosiliam ex aedificio putri ac ruenti. morbum morte non fugiam, dumtaxat sanabilem nec officientem animo. non afferam mihi manus propter dolorem: sic mori vinci est. Hunc tamen si sciero perpetuo mihi esse patiendum, exibo, non propter ipsum, sed quia impedimento mihi futurus est ad omne, propter quod vivitur. imbecillus est et ignavus, qui propter dolorem moritur, stultus, qui doloris causa vivit.
(Seneca Minor, Ep. ad Luc. 58.32-36)

So now I will give an opinion on the point you raise, whether it is appropriate to spurn extreme old age, not waiting for the end but making an end by one’s own act. It’s the next thing to cowardice when one merely waits in idleness for death to come, just as one must be excessively devoted to wine if he drains every drop from the vat and guzzles even the lees. My question, though, is this: is the last part of life really the lees, or is it the finest, purest part? That is, provided the mind is without impairment, the senses intact and of use to the mind, and provided the body is not crippled and moribund before its time. For it matters a great deal whether one is prolonging life or prolonging death. Yet if the body can no longer perform any service, why should it not be appropriate to release the suffering mind? Perhaps what is called for is even to act a little before you must, lest when the time comes you should be unable. The risk of living in misery is worse than that of dying swiftly—and that being so, it’s foolish not to use a small amount of time as coin to buy off a huge gamble. Rarely does a prolonged old age deliver anyone to death without impairment; on the contrary, people are frequently confined to their beds without use of their limbs. Do you think it is any more cruel to lose something of your life than it is to lose the privilege of ending it? Don’t be unwilling to hear me, thinking that this opinion relates immediately to yourself. Assess what I’m saying on its own merits. I will not abandon old age as long as it allows me to keep my whole self—that is, the whole of my better part. But if it begins to attack my mind and lop off parts of it—if it keeps me alive without allowing me a life, then I will fling myself from the decayed and collapsing edifice. I will not die to escape sickness, provided it is curable and no impediment to the mind. I will not lay hands on myself because of pain: such a death is defeat. But if I know I will have to endure the pain without intermission, I will depart, not because of the pain itself, but because it will hinder me from everything that makes life worth living. He who dies merely because of pain is weak and lazy; he who lives merely for pain is a fool. (tr. Margaret Graver & Anthony A. Long)