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August 18, 2004

Quotation Of The Day

Francesco Petrarca (1346):

Divine favour has freed me from most human passions, but one insatiable lust remains which hitherto I have been neither able nor willing to master. I cannot get enough books. Perhaps I already have more than I need; but it is with books as it is with other things: success in acquisition spurs the desire to find still more. Books, indeed, have a special charm. Gold, silver, gems, purple raiment, a house of marble, a well-tilled field, paintings, a steed with splendid trappings: things such as these give us only a silent and superficial pleasure. Books delight us profoundly, they speak to us, they give us good counsel, they enter into an intimate companionship with us.

This is from a letter written in 1346. If anyone has the original text, presumably either Latin or Italian, I would appreciate a copy. An exact date would be almost as good. I only know this from an advertisement of The Petrarch Press, xeroxed by a friend many years ago. A friend, I should say, who has gone even further down the road from bibliophilia to biblioholism.

The list of desirable things needs only a little revision for contemporaries: most of us would rather have a Porsche or a Rolls Royce than even the finest steed, and most of us wouldn't be caught dead wearing purple clothes, which are no more expensive than other colors today if we do want them.

Posted by Michael Hendry at 12:20 PM | Comments (1)

August 14, 2004

More Claudian

I have now edited and uploaded four more books of Claudian: In Eutropium II, De Consulatu Stilichonis II and III (while removing an embarrassing number of typos from Book I), and the panegyric on the consulship of Mallius Theodorus. All can be reached through the Claudian link in the left column. I have also changed all single and double quotation marks to the more elegant 'curly' kind.

If things go as planned, I will finish three more books by the end of the month: Bellum Geticum and the panegyrics on the 4th and 6th consulships of Honorius. That will leave only De Raptu Proserpinae, which shouldn't take too long, since I've already read it and need only make up my mind on which variants and conjectures to include in the text and apparatus. Perhaps I shouldn't admit that I'm editing the others as I read them.

By the way, I seldom laugh out loud while reading Latin in solitude, but In Eutropium II was an exception: first when the obese and incompetent general Leo is described as abundans corporis exiguusque animi (380-81), and then again when he flees from battle 'trembling on his sweating horse', which soons collapses under him (440-42):

ipse Leo damma ceruoque fugacior ibat
sudanti tremebundus equo: qui pondere postquam
decidit, . . . .

I like the way sudanti combines two shades of meaning. At first I thought that Claudian was saying that it as frightened as its master, and only then did I remember that it was sweating under his enormous bulk.

Claudian's In Rufinum and In Eutropium are just the thing for anyone who thinks that the main problem with Juvenal is that there's not enough of him.

Posted by Michael Hendry at 08:57 PM | Comments (0)