Iocabatur sane ita cum servis ut eos iuberet millena pondo sibi aranearum deferre proposito praemio, collegisseque dicitur decem milia pondo aranearum, dicens et hinc intellegendum quam magna esset Roma.
(Historia Augusta, Vita Heliogabali 26.6)
He used, too, to play jokes on his slaves, even ordering them to bring him a thousand pounds of spider-webs and offering them a prize; and he collected, it is said, ten thousand pounds, and then remarked that one could realize from that how great a city was Rome. (tr. David Magie)
Accordingly, when the princess threw the ball to one of her maids, it missed her and fell into the deep, eddying current. At this they all gave a loud shriek. The noble Odysseus awoke, and, sitting up, wondered to himself.
‘What country have I come to this time?’ he said with a groan. ‘What people are there here? Hostile and uncivilized savages, or kindly and god-fearing people? There’s a shrill echo in my ears, as though some girls were shrieking – Nymphs, who haunt the steep hill-tops, the springs of rivers, and the grassy meadows. Or am I by any chance among human beings who can talk as I do? Well, I must go and use my own eyes to find out.’
So the noble Odysseus crept out from under the bushes, after breaking off with his great hand a leafy bough from the thicket to conceal his naked manhood. Then he advanced on them like a mountain lion who sallies out, defying wind and rain in the pride of his power, with fire in his eyes, to hunt down the oxen or sheep or pursue the wild deer. Forced by hunger, he will even attack flocks in a well-protected fold. So Odysseus, naked as he was, made a move towards these girls with their braided hair; necessity compelled him. (tr. Robert Fagles)
It would seem, however, that a change for the better often proves a prelude to greater ills. We had sailed just two days in fair weather and the third day was breaking when toward sunrise we suddenly saw a number of sea-monsters, whales. One among them, the largest of all, was fully one hundred and fifty miles long. He came at us with open mouth, dashing up the sea far in advance, foam-washed, showing teeth much larger than the emblems of Dionysus in our country, and all sharp as calthrops and white as ivory. We said good-bye to one another, embraced, and waited. He was there in an instant, and with a gulp swallowed us down, ship and all. He just missed crushing us with his teeth, but the boat slipped through the gaps between them into the interior. (tr. Austin Morris Harmon)
Tu qui in Latinis mussitas, et testudineo gradu moveris potius, quam incedis: vel Graece debes scribere, ut apud homines Graeci sermonis ignaros aliena scire videaris: vel si Latina tentaveris, ante audire grammaticum, ferulae manum subtrahere, et inter parvulos ἀθηνογέρων artem loquendi discere. quamvis Croesos quis spiret et Darios, litterae marsupium non sequuntur. sudoris comites sunt et laboris; sociae ieiuniorum, non saturitatis; continentiae, non luxuriae. Demosthenes plus olei quam vini expendisse dicitur, et omnes opifices nocturnis semper vigiliis praevenisse. quod ille in una littera fecit exprimenda, ut a cane rho disceret, tu in me criminaris, quare homo ab homine Hebraeas litteras didicerim. inde est quod quidam inerudite sapientes remanent, dum nolunt discere quod ignorant.
(Jerome, Apologia Adversus Libros Rufini 1.17)
You who can hardly do more than mutter in Latin, and who rather creep like a tortoise than walk, ought either to write in Greek, so that among those who are ignorant of Greek you may pass for one who knows a foreign tongue; or else, if you attempt to write Latin, you should first have a grammar-master, and flinch from the ferule, and begin again as an old scholar among children to learn the art of speaking. Even if a man is bursting with the wealth of Crœsus and Darius, letters will not follow the money-bag. They are the companions of toil and of labour, the associates of the fasting not of the full-fed, of self-mastery not of self-indulgence. It is told of Demosthenes that he consumed more oil than wine, and that no workman ever shortened his nights as he did. He for the sake of enunciating the single letter Rho was willing to take a dog as his teacher; and yet you make it a crime in me that I took a man to teach me the Hebrew letters. This is the sort of wisdom which makes men remain unlearned: they do not choose to learn what they do not know. (tr. William Henry Fremantle)
Being asked whether he would rather have been Achilles or Homer, he said, “How about you yourself? Would you rather be the victor at the Olympic games or the announcer of the victor?” (tr. Frank Cole Babbitt)
Recalling Aegisthus, Zeus harangued the immortal powers:
“Ah how shameless – the way these mortals blame the gods.
From us alone, they say, come all their miseries, yes,
but they themselves, with their own reckless ways,
compound their pains beyond their proper share.
Look at Aegisthus now…
Above and beyond his share he stole Atrides’ wife,
he murdered the warlord coming home from Troy
though he knew it meant his own total ruin.
Far in advance we told him so ourselves,
dispatching the guide, the giant-killer Hermes.
‘Don’t murder the man,’ he said, ‘don’t court his wife.
Beware, revenge will come from Orestes, Agamemnon’s son,
that day he comes of age and longs for his native land.’
So Hermes warned, with all the good will in the world,
but would Aegisthus’ hardened heart give way?
Now he pays the price – all at a single stroke.” (tr. Robert Fagles)