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Pablo Picasso, Nessus and Deianeira
Pablo Picasso, Nessus and Deianeira

Ἡρακλῆς δὲ τοῖς Καλυδωνίοις συστρατεύσας ἐπὶ Θεσπρωτοὺς πόλιν τε Ἐφύραν κατὰ κράτος εἷλε καὶ Φυλέα τὸν βασιλέα τῶν Θεσπρωτῶν ἀπέκτεινε. λαβὼν δὲ αἰχμάλωτον τὴν θυγατέρα τοῦ Φυλέως ἐπεμίγη ταύτῃ καὶ ἐτέκνωσε Τληπόλεμον. μετὰ δὲ τὸν Δηϊανείρας γάμον τρισὶν ὕστερον ἔτεσι δειπνῶν παρ’ Οἰνεῖ, διακονοῦντος Εὐρυνόμου τοῦ Ἀρχιτέλους υἱοῦ, παιδὸς τὴν ἡλικίαν, ἁμαρτάνοντος δ’ ἐν τῷ διακονεῖν, πατάξας κονδύλῳ, καὶ βαρυτέρας τῆς πληγῆς γενομένης, ἀπέκτεινεν ἀκουσίως τὸν παῖδα. περιαλγὴς δὲ γενόμενος ἐπὶ τῷ πάθει πάλιν ἐκ τῆς Καλυδῶνος ἑκουσίως ἔφυγε μετὰ τῆς γυναικὸς Δηϊανείρας καὶ Ὕλλου τοῦ ἐκ ταύτης, παιδὸς ὄντος τὴν ἡλικίαν. ἐπεὶ δὲ πορευόμενος ἦλθε πρὸς τὸν Εὐηνὸν ποταμὸν, κατέλαβε Νέσσον τὸν Κένταυρον μισθοῦ διαβιβάζοντα τὸν ποταμόν. οὗτος δὲ πρώτην διαβιβάσας τὴν Δηϊάνειραν, καὶ διὰ τὸ κάλλος ἐρασθείς, ἐπεχείρησε βιάσασθαι ταύτην. ἐπιβοωμένης δ’ αὐτῆς τὸν ἄνδρα, ὁ μὲν Ἡρακλῆς ἐτόξευσε τὸν Κένταυρον, ὁ δὲ Νέσσος μεταξὺ μισγόμενος, καὶ διὰ τὴν ὀξύτητα τῆς πληγῆς εὐθὺς ἀποθνήσκων, ἔφησε τῇ Δηϊανείρᾳ δώσειν φίλτρον, ὅπως μηδεμιᾷ τῶν ἄλλων γυναικῶν Ἡρακλῆς θελήσῃ πλησιάσαι. παρεκελεύσατο οὖν λαβοῦσαν τὸν ἐξ αὑτοῦ πεσόντα γόνον, καὶ τούτῳ προσμίξασαν ἔλαιον καὶ τὸ ἀπὸ τῆς ἀκίδος ἀποστάζον αἷμα, χρῖσαι τὸν χιτῶνα τοῦ Ἡρακλέους. οὗτος μὲν οὖν ταύτην τὴν ὑποθήκην δοὺς τῇ Δηϊανείρᾳ παραχρῆμα ἐξέπνευσεν. ἡ δὲ κατὰ τὴν γενομένην ὑπὸ τοῦ Νέσσου παραγγελίαν εἰς ἄγγος ἀναλαβοῦσα τὸν γόνον, καὶ τὴν ἀκίδα βάψασα, λάθρᾳ τοῦ Ἡρακλέους ἐφύλαττεν. ὁ δὲ διαβὰς τὸν ποταμὸν κατήντησε πρὸς Κήϋκα τὸν τῆς Τραχῖνος βασιλέα, καὶ μετὰ τούτου κατῴκησεν, ἔχων τοὺς ἀεὶ συστρατεύοντας τῶν Ἀρκάδων.
(Diodorus Siculus, Hist. 4.36)

Heracles took the field with the Calydonians against the Thesprotians, captured the city of Ephyra by storm, and slew Phyleus the king of the Thesprotians. And taking prisoner the daughter of Phyleus he lay with her and begat Tlepolemus. Three years after his marriage to Deïaneira Heracles was dining in the home of Oeneus and Eurynomus, the son of Architeles, who was still a lad in years, was serving him, and when the boy made some slip in the service Heracles gave him a blow with his fist, and striking him too hard he unintentionally killed the lad. Overcome with grief at this misfortune he went again into voluntary exile from Calydonia along with his wife Deïaneira and Hyllus, his son by her, who was still a boy in years. And when in his journeying he arrived at the Euenus river he found there the Centaur Nessus who was conveying travellers across the river for a fee. Nessus carried Deïaneira across first, and becoming enamoured of her because of her beauty he tried to assault her. But when she called to her husband for help Heracles shot the Centaur with an arrow, and Nessus, struck even while he was having intercourse with her and because of the sharpness of the blow being at once on the point of death, told Deianeira that he would give her a love-charm to the end that Heracles should never desire to approach any other woman. He urged her, accordingly, to take the seed which had fallen from him and, mixing it with olive oil and the blood which was dripping from the barb of the arrow, to anoint with this the shirt of Heracles. This counsel, then, Nessus gave Deïaneira and at once breathed his last. And she put the seed, as Nessus had enjoined upon her, into a jar and dipped in it the barb of the arrow and kept it all unknown to Heracles. And he, after crossing the river, came to Ceÿx, the king of Trachis, and made his dwelling with him, having with him the Arcadians who always accompanied him on his campaigns. (tr. Charles Henry Oldfather)

Pusio

Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem, De Bethlehemse kindermoord, 1590
Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem, De Bethlehemse kindermoord (1590)

Audit tyrannus anxius
adesse regum principem,
qui nomen Israel regat,
teneatque David regiam.

exclamat amens nuntio
“successor instat, pellimur:
satelles, i, ferrum rape,
perfunde cunas sanguine!

mas omnis infans occidat,
scrutare nutricum sinus,
interque materna ubera
ensem cruentet pusio.

suspecta per Bethlem mihi
puerperarum est omnium
fraus, ne qua furtim subtrahat
prolem virilis indolis.”

transfigit ergo carnifex
mucrone districto furens
effusa nuper corpora,
animasque rimatur novas.

locum minutis artubus
vix interemptor invenit
quo plaga descendat patens,
iuguloque maior pugio est.

o barbarum spectaculum!
illisa cervix cautibus
spargit cerebrum lacteum,
oculosque per vulnus vomit;

aut in profundum palpitans
mersatur infans gurgitem,
cui subter artis faucibus
singultat unda et halitus

salvete, flores martyrum,
quos lucis ipso in limine
Christi insecutor sustulit,
ceu turbo nascentes rosas.

vos, prima Christi victima,
grex immolatorum tener,
aram ante ipsam simplices
palma et coronis luditis.

(Prudentius, Cathemerinon 12.93-132)

The uneasy monarch hears of the coming of the King of Kings to rule over the name of Israel and possess the throne of David. Out of his mind at the news, he cries “He that shall take my place is upon me, driving me out. Go, guard, grasp thy sword and steep the cradles in blood. Let every male child perish. Search the nurses’ bosoms, and at the mother’s breasts let the boy-child’s blood redden thy blade. I suspect guile in all that have borne babes in Bethlehem, lest one of them by stealth save her male progeny.” So the executioner raging madly with drawn sword pierces the new-born bodies and tears the young life out of them. Scarce can the slayer find room on the little frames for the gaping wound to fall upon; the dagger is bigger than the throat. O barbarous sight! A head dashed against the stones scatters the milk-white brains and spews out the eyes through the wound; or a babe is flung all throbbing into the depths of the flood, and beneath in his narrow throat water and breath make choking spasms. Hail, martyr-flowers, whom on the very threshold of life the persecutor of Christ destroyed, as the stormy wind kills roses at their birth. You are Christ’s first offerings, a tender flock slain in sacrifice, and before the very altar you play in innocence with palm and crowns. (tr. Henry John Thomson)

Antichristus

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Satanas in Latinum sonat adversarius, sive transgressor. ipse est enim adversarius, qui est veritatis inimicus, et semper sanctorum virtutibus contraire nititur. ipse et transgressor, quia praevaricator effectus in veritate, qua conditus est, non stetit. idem et temptator, quia temptandam iustorum innocentiam postulat, sicut in libro Iob scribitur. Antichristus appellatur, quia contra Christum venturus est, non, quomodo quidem simplices intellegunt, Antichristum ideo dictum, quod ante Christum venturus sit, id est post eum veniet Christus. non sic, sed Antichristus Graece dicitur, quod est Latine contrarius Christo. ἀντὶ enim Graece in Latinum ‘contra’ significat. Christum enim se mentietur, cum venerit, et contra eum dimicabit, et adversabitur sacramentis Christi, ut veritatis eius evangelium solvat. nam et templum Hierosolymis reparare, et omnes veteris legis ceremonias restaurare temptabit. sed et ille Antichristus est, qui negat esse Dominum Christum. contrarius est enim Christo. omnes enim, qui exeunt de ecclesia et ab unitate fidei praeciduntur, et ipsi Antichristi sunt.
(Isidorus of Sevilla, Etym. 11.1.99-101)

Satan (Satanas) means “adversary,” or “transgressor” in Latin. He is indeed the adversary who is the enemy of truth, and he always strives to go against the virtues of the holy. He is also the transgressor, because as a complete prevaricator, he did not continue in the truth in which he was created. Also he is the tempter, because he claims that the innocence of the righteous must be tempted, as it is written in Job. He is called the Antichrist (Antichristus), because he is to come against Christ. He is not, as certain simpletons suppose, called the Antichrist because he is to come before (ante) Christ, that is, that Christ would come after him. This is not the case, but rather he is called Antichrist in Greek, which is ‘against Christ’ (contrarius Christo) in Latin, for ἀντί in Greek means ‘against’ in Latin. When he comes he will pretend that he is Christ, and there will be a struggle against him, and he will oppose the sacraments of Christ in order to destroy the gospel of his truth. For he will attempt to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem and restore all the rites of the old Law. But Antichrist is also one who denies that Christ is God, for he is the opposite of Christ. So all those who depart from the Church and are cut off from the unity of faith are themselves Antichrists. (tr. Stephen A. Barney, W.J. Lewis, J.A. Beach and/or Oliver Berghof)

Empta

christies-auction

Ingenti ergo labore et moderatione, cum apud Carnuntum iugi triennio perseverasset, bellum Marcomannicum confecit, quod cum his Quadi, Vandali, Sarmatae, Suevi atque omnis barbaria commoverat, multa hominum milia interfecit, ac Pannoniis servitio liberatis Romae rursus cum Commodo Antonino, filio suo, quem iam Caesarem fecerat, triumphavit. ad huius belli sumptum cum aerario exhausto largitiones nullas haberet neque indicere provincialibus aut senatui aliquid vellet, instrumentum regii cultus facta in foro divi Traiani sectione distraxit, vasa aurea, pocula crystallina et murrina, uxoriam ac suam sericam et auream vestem, multa ornamenta gemmarum. ac per duos continuos menses ea venditio habita est multumque auri redactum. post victoriam tamen emptoribus pretia restituit, qui reddere comparata voluerunt; molestus nulli fuit, qui maluit semel empta retinere.
(Eutropius, Brev. 8.13)

When he* had persevered, therefore, with enormous labour and patience for three whole years at Carnuntum, he put an end to the Marcomannic war which, together with the latter, the Quadi, Vandals, Sarmatae, Suebi and all the barbarians had provoked. He killed many thousand men, freed the Pannonians from slavery, and again celebrated a triumph at Rome with Commodus Antoninus, his son, whom he had by then made Caesar. Since the treasury had been exhausted to pay for this war and he had no funds to distibute and he did not want to place any tax on the provincials or the senate, at an auction held in the forum of the deified Trajan he sold off the belongings of his royal way of life, gold vessels, crystal goblets, wine flavoured with myrrh, his wife’s and his own silk and gold embroidered garments and many jewelled ornaments. The sale went on for two months consecutively and a lot of gold was raised. After his victory, however, he gave back the purchase price to those buyers who were willing to return what they had bought but he troubled no one who preferred to keep what he had purchased.

* Marcus Aurelius.

(tr. Harold Wesley Bird)

Ignoremus

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Uxor, vivamus quod viximus et teneamus
nomina quae primo sumpsimus in thalamo;
nec ferat ulla dies, ut commutemur in aevo,
quin tibi sim iuvenis tuque puella mihi.
Nestore sim quamvis provectior aemulaque annis
vincas Cumanam tu quoque Deiphoben,
nos ignoremus quid sit matura senectus.
scire aevi meritum, non numerare decet.
(Ausonius, Epigr. 20)

Ah wife, let us live as we have lived and keep
those names which we first took upon our bridal bed:
let no day ever work change on time
for I remain your lad and you my lass.
Though I be even more advanced in years than Nestor
and you surpass Deiphobe, the sibyl of Cumae,
let us ignore the frailties nature gives to age.
Better to know the worth of age and not its number.
(tr. James Wallace Binns)

Inconparabilis

matronilla

D.M.S.
Postumia Matronilla inconparabilis coniux, mater bona, avia piissima, pudica religiosa laboriosa frugi efficaxs vigilans sollicita univira uniciba [t]otius industriae et fidei matrona, vixit annis n.LIII mensibus n.V diebus.
(CIL VIII.11294 = ILS 8444)

Sacred to the Spirits of the Deceased.
Postumia Matronilla was a wife without peer, a good mother, a dutiful grandmother, modest, pious, hard-working, thrifty, active, wakeful, concerned; she married one man, and slept with one man; she was a matron who worked hard and could be relied upon. She lived for 53 years, 5 months and 3 days.
(tr. Jane F. Gardner & Thomas Wiedemann)

Officiorum

client

Seniorum hominum et Romae nobilium atque in morum disciplinarumque veterum doctrina memoriaque praestantium disceptatio quaedam fuit praesente et audiente me de gradu atque ordine officiorum. cumque quaereretur, quibus nos ea prioribus potioribusque facere oporteret, si necesse esset in opera danda faciendoque officio alios aliis anteferre, non consentiebatur. conveniebat autem facile constabatque ex moribus populi Romani primum iuxta parentes locum tenere pupillos debere fidei tutelaeque nostrae creditos; secundum eos proximum locum clientes habere, qui sese itidem in fidem patrociniumque nostrum dediderunt; tum in tertio loco esse hospites; postea esse cognatos adfinesque. huius moris observationisque multa sunt testimonia atque documenta in antiquitatibus perscripta, ex quibus unum hoc interim de clientibus cognatisque, quod prae manibus est, ponemus. M. Cato in oratione, quam dixit apud censores in Lentulum, ita scripsit: “quod maiores sanctius habuere defendi pupillos quam clientem non fallere. adversus cognatos pro cliente testatur, testimonium adversus clientem nemo dicit. patrem primum, postea patronum proximum nomen habuere.” Masurius autem Sabinus in libro iuris civilis tertio antiquiorem locum hospiti tribuit quam clienti. verba ex eo libro haec sunt: “in officiis apud maiores ita observatum est: primum tutelae, deinde hospiti, deinde clienti, tum cognato, postea adfini. aequa causa feminae viris potiores habitae pupillarisque tutela muliebri praelata. etiam adversus quem adfuissent, eius filiis tutores relicti in eadem causa pupillo aderant” [fr. 6 Huschke, fr. 2 Bremer]. firmum atque clarum isti rei testimonium perhibet auctoritas C. Caesaris pontificis maximi, qui in oratione quam pro Bithynis dixit, hoc principio usus est: “vel pro hospitio regis Nicomedis vel pro horum necessitate, quorum res agitur, refugere hoc munus, M. Iunce, non potui. nam neque hominum morte memoria deleri debet, quin a proximis retineatur, neque clientes sine summa infamia deseri possunt, quibus etiam a propinquis nostris opem ferre instituimus.”
(Aulus Gellius, Noct. Att. 5.13)

There was once a discussion, in my presence and hearing, of the rank and order of obligations, carried on by a company of men of advanced age and high position at Rome, who were also eminent for their knowledge and command of ancient usage and conduct. And when the question was asked to whom we ought first and foremost to discharge those obligations, in case it should be necessary to prefer some to others in giving assistance or showing attention, there was a difference of opinion. But it was readily agreed and accepted, that in accordance with the usage of the Roman people the place next after parents should be held by wards entrusted to our honour and protection; that second to them came clients, who also had committed themselves to our honour and guardianship; that then in the third place were guests; and finally relations by blood and by marriage. Of this custom and practice there are numerous proofs and illustrations in the ancient records, of which, because it is now at hand, I will cite only this one at present, relating to clients and kindred. Marcus Cato in the speech which he delivered before the censors Against Lentulus wrote thus: “Our forefathers regarded it as a more sacred obligation to defend their wards than not to deceive a client. One testifies in a client’s behalf against one’s relatives; testimony against a client is given by no one. A father held the first position of honour; next after him a patron.” Masurius Sabinus, however, in the third book of his Civil Law assigns a higher place to a guest than to a client. The passage from that book is this: “In the matter of obligations our forefathers observed the following order: first to a ward, then to a guest, then to a client, next to a blood relation, finally to a relation by marriage. Other things being equal, women were given preference to men, but a ward who was under age took precedence of one who was a grown woman. Also those who were appointed by will to be guardians of the sons of a man against whom they had appeared in court, appeared for the ward in the same case.” Very clear and strong testimony on this subject is furnished by the authority of Gaius Caesar, when he was high priest; for in the speech which he delivered In Defence of the Bithynians he made use of this preamble: “In consideration either of my guest-friendship with king Nicomedes or my relationship to those whose case is on trial, O Marcus Iuncus, I could not refuse this duty. For the remembrance of men ought not to be so obliterated by their death as not to be retained by those nearest to them, and without the height of disgrace we cannot forsake clients to whom we are bound to render aid even against our kinsfolk.” (tr. John C. Rolfe)