Thursday, July 31, 2008

Eleusinian Mystery Initiation

Reading the Todd Swanson essay, "WOMB OF FIRE: A Study of the Eleusinian Mysteries",
I was struck by a flash of 'en-lightning': How similar his description of the crisis that some have claimed catalyses the healing in the Eleusinian Mystery initiation to what happens with James Neubauer, an adolescent character in the movie, A Rumor of Angels!

James's psychopomp (representing the goddess Demeter) is Maddy Bennett, played exquisitely by Vanessa Redgrave, an old widow thought mad by most of the local down-easters; that is, those who don't account her an evil witch. Great movie! It was spun off the book, Thy Son Liveth by Grace Dufffie Boylan (1919).
'At death the soul leaps forth gladly, like a schoolboy when school lets out.'

"Now, all these myths that you have heard and that resonate with
you, those are the elements from round about that you are building
into a form in your life. The thing worth considering is how they
relate to each other in your context, not how they relate to
something out there - how they were relevant on the North American
prairies or in the Asian jungles hundreds of years ago, but how they
are relevant NOW - unless by contemplating their former meaning you
can begin to amplify your own understanding of the role they play in
your life."

- Joseph Campbell
'Pathways to Bliss'


This topic came up just today in the Latinstudy Digest in the discussion of long vowels and syllable weight.

Gratias ago
a Johannes Patruus

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Abundance sur le pont Mirabeau

Amor floret in rerum abundantia,
mox moritur autem in egestate.
Les Pogues
Adulescentes studiosi aliqui

Saturday, July 26, 2008

James Joyce: Finnegans Wake

"What is clear and concise can't deal with reality, for to be real is to be surrounded by mystery." -- James Joyce

One anime fan's views: [Quite the reverse of mine; I'm a fan of Cowboy Bebop and Bleach animes, but also of Finnegans Wake.]

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mercier's watercolors for Ovid's METAMORPHOSES

Jean A. Mercier's watercolor illustrations for Les Metamorphoses d'Ovide, choix de seize fables, tr. l'Abbe Banier, Paris, 1946

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (lived 203-222 A.D.)

Better known as Heliogabalus, he became Emperor Augustus of the Romans as a young teenager in 218 A.D., but was never august at all. His lifestyle was like that of a modern rockstar or 'gaylib' celebrity. He was very religious and made the fatal mistake of trying impiously to make his personal deity superior to Jupiter.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Adolf Friedrich Bonhoeffer online

Adolf Bonhoeffer's Epiktet und das Neue Testament, which compares the Koine Greek vocabulary of Arrian's Dialogs of Epictetus and Enchiridion with that of the Greek New Testament is now available online.
I have not yet had the time to look into it myself, but hope to soon. Many thanks to Louis Sorensen for this information.

Monday, July 21, 2008


"Cui dono lepidum novum libellum
arida modo pumice expolitum?
Corneli, tibi; namque tu solebas
meas esse aliquid putare nugas
iam tum cum ausus es unus Italorum
omne aevum tribus explicare chartis
doctis, Iuppiter, et laboriosis.
quare habe tibi quicquid hoc libelli,
qualecumque; quod, o patrona virgo,
plus uno maneat perenne saeclo."

Which I, nekkid, read as,
'To whom am I dedicating my amusing
new book, honed as with dry pumice?
To yourself, Cornelius, to be sure for
you alone think my absurdities, some-
thing; you, an Italian, even dared explain
our era in three learned, well-writ scrolls,
by Jove; so have, for whatever value it may
hold for you, this little book, which, I pray my
Lady Patron, may perdure beyond a century.'

Although I take exception to his 'obscene' labeling,
I think Paul Monk has an excellent Catullus introduction page:

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Acerrima Odia

"Acerrima proximorum odia" - Tacitus
I read this as,
'The most bitterly hostile hatred is that of those who are closest.'

"...atque interim unaetvicensima legio Vindonissa, Sextilius Felix cum
auxiliariis cohortibus per Raetiam inrupere; accessit ala Singularium
excita olim a Vitellio, deinde in partis Vespasiani transgressa.
praeerat Iulius Briganticus sorore Civilis genitus, ut ferme acerrima
proximorum odia sunt, invisus avunculo infensusque." - Tacitus, Hist.4:70 translates this
passage: "Meanwhile the 21st legion, by way of Vindonissa, and
Sextilius Felix with the auxiliary infantry, by way of Rhaetia,
penetrated into the province. They were joined by the Singularian
Horse, which had been raised some time before by Vitellius, and had
afterwards gone over to the side of Vespasian. Their commanding
officer was Julius Briganticus. He was sister's son to Civilis, and he
was hated by his uncle and hated him in return with all the extreme
bitterness of a family feud."

Saturday, July 19, 2008

'Emperor Julian attempting to make peace between Christian sects' painted by Edward Armitage.

"[In 361 A.D.]...he summoned to the palace the Christian bishops, who were far from being of one mind, together with their flocks, who were no less divided by schism, and warned them in polite terms to lay aside their differences and allow every man to practise his belief boldly without hindrance.... Experience had taught him that no wild beasts are such dangerous enemies to man as Christians are to one another."-Ammianus Marcellinus, XXII, 5.

Flavius Claudius Julianus, Imperator Augustus, Pontifex Maximus

Must it not be an act of God that resulted in a Christian website making available to us an English translation of Libanius' Eulogy for him whom they revile as 'the Apostate'?

Vide infra: an annotated biography of Julian (with a definitely Christian bias) and links for Ammianus' History (which seems much fairer to Julian).

Wikipedia clearly depicts the Christian bias:

Friday, July 18, 2008

Commander X Presents

Could 'Star War' weapons and other 'delusions' indeed be real?

Remember Dr. Robert Lindner's "Jet Propelled Couch" in The Fifty Minute Hour?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Reading Greek/Latin versus Translating

Recently I have begun increasing my efforts to read Ancient Greek and Latin more nearly fluently, rather than painstakingly parsing and translating.

I am not about to burn my grammars behind me however!

Monday, July 14, 2008

by Jove!

Back in the distant days of my high school Latin initiation, I acquired the 'certain knowledge' that the name or title, 'Iuppiter', was formed from a synthesis of 'Ius' (Law) and 'Pater'(Father). I suppose that this 'certain knowledge' was based on Faith (or perhaps adolescent naivete). Now I am not even sure whence 'Ius' cometh.
iubeo, iubEre, iUssi, iUssum = to order, command (capitals signify long vowel here)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The American Stick House

The stick house style, in its heyday in the 1880's, is an American 'Victorian Era' residential housing style influenced by the Gothic Revival movement. In 1842 A.J. Downing and A.J. Davis published their book, Cottage Residences. Quickly becoming a best-seller, it spread the gospel that catalyzed the building of the picturesque stick houses across the USA.
Here in Portland, Oregon 'gingerbread victorians' were constructed as early as 1884 as well as the 'stick houses'.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bubo bubo - Eurasian Great Horned Owl

"Pallada bubo vehit, sed eam rota nulla figurat.
Bubulat horrendum ferali murmure bubo.
Humani generi tristia fata ferens. Anth.Lat.939,762,37."
quoted in The Birds of the Latin Poets by Ernest Whitney Martin

Posterity of the 'Silent Generation'

Will the generation now grasping at the rheins of political control be known to posterity as 'that whining generation of nightmare visionaries'?
Or perhaps 'the pathetic generation'?

I was surprised to find the words 'rhein' and 'rheins' absent from the 'Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary'. Considered too 'cavalier' perhaps?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A new AEneid translation with original rhythm & idiomata

"What distinguishes this 'Aeneid' is Ahl's use of Virgil's original
meter and his line-by-line restoration of the poet's wordplay, an
element often lost in translation."

Speaking of wordplay, Byzantines wrote 'Elefanta ek muias poieis.',the Greek equivalent of "Elephantem ex musca facis." [from Apostolio, "Paroimiai", 8.14]
Horace wrote, "Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus."
And our American idiom is "You're making a mountain out of a molehill."
And then there's TV's 'Monk', if you want to expand your understanding
of the significance of these 'idiomata'.

Friday, July 04, 2008

American Independence Day, July 4, 2008

Presidential Message, Independence Day 2008:

I myself can think of no finer celebration of
what our American national heritage means than
this poem of Walt Whitman which touches our
hearts with its emotions and symbols:!_My_Captain!

Some Roman Catholic right-wingings:

Greek proverb for July Fourth

'Lukos exavev', Latin: 'Lupus hiavit'. English: "The wolf gaped [in anticipation]."

Here's an explication of the present tense version:

'Lukos oin humenaioi': 'Lupus se cum oni matrimonio coniunget': "The wolf is marrying a sheep." is a 'bon mot'from Aristophanes. More classics:

The Wolf and the Kid:

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Today's Greek Proverb

Today's Greek Proverb, transliterated in Betacode: "Glukei=a o)pw/ra fu/lakos e]kleloipo/tos," is quite interesting. The Latin translation, "Jucunda poma, si procul custodia.", I read as, "Fruit trees are delightful if their custodian is away."

The Greek has three words in the genitive case, one of them being a perfect active participle, and 'opwra' in the dative case. The last two words in the sentence appear to constitute a 'genitive absolute' syntax: "..., while the custodian is away". It is not clear to me why 'opwra' should be dative (perhaps 'dative of respect?), nor why 'Glukeia' genitive. How wonderful it would be if someone more expert at Byzantine Greek would post a helpful comment!

In the meantime, my reading: "There is more delight with the fruit tree of high Summer, if the custodian is away." The LSJ Greek Lexicon indicates 'opwra' hss a metaphorical use as "life's summer, the time of youthful ripeness" and "ripe virginity". One may find a 'carpe diem' sense here like Robert Herrick's lines:
"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today,
Tomorrow will be dying."

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Mayhap some hamadryad has her eye fixed on you

pray that she may not transform you into a Gecko gecko

or what the Gubernator calls a 'girlie man'