Velificans

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

Quid inter haec animi Erasmo tuo fuisse credis? insidebat attonito equo eques attonitus; qui quoties aures erigebat, ego animum deiciebam, quoties ille in genua procumbebat, mihi pectus saliebat. iam Bellerophon ille poeticus suo terrebat exemplo, iam meam ipse temeritatem exsecrabar, qui mutae beluae vitam et una literas meas commiserim. sed audi quiddam, quod tu credas ex veris Luciani narrationibus petitum, ni mihi ipsi Batto teste accidisset. cum arx iam ferme in prospectu esset, offendimus omnia undique glacie incrustata, quae ut dixi in nivem inciderat. et erat tanta ventorum vis, ut eo die unus atque alter collapsi perierint. flabant autem a tergo. itaque per declive montium me demittebam, per summam glaciem velificans, atque interim hastili cursum moderans. id erat clavi vice. novum navigandi genus. toto fere itinere obvius fit nemo, sequitur nemo, adeo non solum saeva sed etiam monstruosa erat tempestas. quarto vix demum die solem aspeximus. hoc unum ex tantis malis commodi excerpsimus, quod latronum incursus timuimus minus; timuimus tamen, ut homines pecuniosos decebat.
(Erasmus, Ep. 88)

How do you think your Erasmus responded to all this? He sat, a terrified rider, on a terrified horse. When my mount’s ears pricked up, my spirit fell; and as often as he fell down on his knees, my heart jumped up into my mouth. I was becoming alarmed at the precedent set by the poets’ Bellerophon, and cursing my foolhardiness in entrusting my life and my letters at one and the same time to a dumb creature. But I will tell you something you would suppose I had borrowed from Lucian’s Vera historia, if I did not have Batt to witness that it really happened to me. When we were almost within sight of the castle, we found the entire countryside covered with a layer of ice which, as I have explained, had fallen on top of the snow. The wind blew so hard that more than one person was blown down and died that day. Since it blew from behind us, I slid down the slopes of the hills, sailing on the surface of the ice, and from time to time steering with my staff, using it as a rudder, a new kind of navigation. In our entire journey we scarcely met a soul or were overtaken by anyone, so wild, indeed monstrous, was the weather. It was only on the fourth day that at last we had a glimpse of the sun. All these difficulties brought us only one advantage: we stood in less fear of attack by robbers; yet fear it we did, as rich men should! (tr. R.A.B. Mynors & D.F.S. Thomson)

Glacies

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

Pervenimus tandem et quidem incolumes, tametsi invitis (ut apparet) et superis et inferis. o durum iter! quem ego posthac Herculem, quem Ulyssem non contemnam? pugnabat Iuno semper poëticis viris infesta; rursum Aeolum sollicitarat; nec ventis modo in nos saeviebat, omnibus armis in nos dimicabat, frigore acerrimo, nive, grandine, pluvia, imbre, nebulis, omnibus denique iniuriis. hisque nunc singulis nunc universis nos oppugnabat. prima nocte post diutinam pluviam subitum atque acre obortum gelu viam asperrimam effecerat; accessit nivis vis immodica; deinde grando, tum et pluvia, quae simul atque terram arboremve contigit, protinus in glaciem concreta est. vidisses passim terram glacie incrustatam, neque id aequali superficie, sed colliculis acutissimis passim exstantibus. vidisses arbores glacie vestitas adeoque pressas, ut aliae summo cacumine imum solum contingerent, aliae ramis lacerae, aliae medio trunco discissae starent, aliae funditus evulsae iacerent. iurabant nobis e rusticis homines natu grandes se simile nihil umquam in vita vidisse antea. equis interim eundum erat nunc per profundos nivium cumulos, nunc per sentes glacie incrustatos, nunc per sulcos bis asperos, quos primum gelu duraverat, deinde et glacies acuerat, nunc per crustum quod summas obduxerat nives; quod quidem mollius erat quam ut equum sustineret, durius quam ut ungulas non scinderet.
(Erasmus, Ep. 88)

We have arrived at last, and safely, too, though the gods above and below, it seems, conspired against us. What a dreadful journey! From now on, I shall feel superior to heroes such as Hercules or Ulysses. Juno was against us: she always dislikes poets. She stirred Aeolus up once again and, not content with unleashing the winds’ rage at us, used every weapon in her armoury: biting cold, snow, hail, rain, showers, mist, in fact every mean trick, sometimes one at a time and sometimes all together. The first evening, after a prolonged period of rain, a sudden keen frost made the road extremely hard going; on top of this came a heavy snowfall, followed by hail, and then again rain, which as soon as it touched the ground, or a tree, turned immediately into ice. Everywhere you would have seen the ground covered with a layer of ice; and its surface was not even flat, but had horribly sharp little ridges protruding all over it. You would also have seen the trees so heavily laden with ice that some of them were bent over, with their tops touching the very ground, while others had branches ripped off or their trunks split in two, and others again lay completely uprooted. The old countrymen swore to us that they had never seen such a sight in their lives before. The horses meanwhile had sometimes to walk through deep drifts of snow or through thickets coated with ice; sometimes in ruts which were doubly difficult going, because first they set hard with frost and then ice made their edges sharp; and sometimes upon a surface crust which had covered the top layer of snow and was too soft to bear the horses’ weight, yet hard enough to injure their hooves. (tr. Roger Aubrey Baskerville Mynors & Douglas Ferguson Scott Thomson)

Gandavi

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Ad hos stimulos haudquaquam segnes accedit et urbis Gandavi splendor. neque enim arbitror, quaqua patet Christiana dicio, civitatem ullam reperiri quae cum hac conferri queat, sive spectes amplitudinem urbis ac potentiam, sive politiam, sive gentis indolem. nec enim aliunde feliciora prodeunt ingenia, nec expressiora priscae virtutis exempla.
(Erasmus, Ep. 2093)

On top of these stimuli, hardly ineffectual in themselves, there is the splendor of the city of Ghent. For I don’t believe that in the entire Christian world a single city can be found that compares to this one, whether you look at its size or might, its political regime, or the character of its inhabitants. Nowhere else in fact do we encounter more fertile minds or clearer examples of ancient virtue. (tr. David Bauwens)

Paschalia

Colourful easter eggs on grass

Πολλῶν πανηγύρεων Διὸς βαλάνων ἔφαγεν [Michael Apostolius, Paroimiai 14.66], id est Multorum festorum Iovis glandes comedit. de sene longoque plurimarum rerum usu docto; perinde valet quasi dicas; ‘multas vixit Olympiadas’. quercus autem Iovi sacra; unde nuces iuglandes. simili ioco et hodie dicunt nostrates: Comedit multa ova paschalia, senem indicantes.
(Erasmus, Adagia 3149)

He has eaten acorns at many feasts of Jupiter. Said of a man who is old and wise through long and varied experience; it means exactly the same as ‘He has lived many Olympiads.’ The oak is sacred to Jupiter, whence the expression ‘Jove’s oak nuts.’ People in my country still say nowadays, ‘He has eaten many Easter eggs’ as a humorous way of referring to an old man. (tr. Denis L. Drysdall)

Infantibus

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Principio quis nescit primam hominis aetatem multo laetissimam multoque omnibus gratissimam esse? quid est enim illud in infantibus, quod sic exosculamur, sic amplectimur, sic fovemus, ut hostis etiam huic aetati ferat opem, nisi stultitiae lenocinium, quod data opera prudens natura recens natis adiunxit, ut aliquo voluptatis velut autoramento et educantium labores delinire queant et tuentium favores eblandiantur? deinde quae succedit huic adolescentia, quam est apud omnes gratiosa, quam illi candide favent omnes, quam studiose provehunt, quam officiose porrigunt auxiliares manus! at unde quaeso ista iuventae gratia? unde nisi ex me? cuius beneficio quam minimum sapit atque ob id quam minime ringitur.
(Erasmus, Moriae Encomium LB4.413)

First of all, who does not know that the earliest period of a man’s life is by far the happiest for him and by far the most pleasant for all about him? What is it in children, that we should kiss them the way we do, and cuddle them, and fondle them – so that even an enemy would give aid to one of that age – except this enchantment of folly, which prudent nature carefully bestows on the newly born; so that by this pleasure, as a sort of prepayment, they win the favor of their nurses and parents and make these forget the pains of bringing them up. After this comes adolescence. How welcome it is in every home! How well everyone wishes it! How studiously does everyone promote it, how officiously they lend it the helping hand! But, I ask, whence comes this grace of youth? Whence but from me, by whose favor the young know so little-and how lightly worn is that little! (tr. Hoyt Hopewell Hudson)

Hesperan

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Habet et cuiusque hominis aetas suam vesperam, quae simul atque advenit, iuventae gratia vertitur in taedium. ita senex quidam apud Alexidem: ἤδη γὰρ ὁ βίος οὑμὸς ἑσπέραν ἄγει [fr. 230 K-A], id est: mea quippe seram vita ducit vesperam. sub occasum autem solis incumbunt umbrae, unde Euripides: τί δ’ ἄλλο; φωνὴ καὶ σκιὰ γέρων ἀνήρ [fr. 509 N]. quid aliud atque vox et umbra vir senex?
(Erasmus, Adagia 2215)

And every man’s life has its evening, at whose onset the graces of youth change into weariness. There is an old man in Alexis, who says ‘For now the evening of my life draws on,’ and at the setting of the sun the shadows gather. Hence, as Euripides has it, ‘Old age: a voice, a shadow, and no more.’ (tr. Roger Aubrey Baskerville Mynors)