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Book XI

This webpage reproduces a section of
Noctes Atticae (Attic Nights)

by
A. Cornelius Gellius

published in Vol. II
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1927

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Book XIII

(Vol. II) Gellius
Attic Nights

p353 Book XII

1 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] A discourse of the philosopher Favorinus, in which he urged a lady of rank to feed with her own milk, and with that of other nurses, the children whom she had borne.

1 Word was once brought in my presence to the philosopher Favorinus that the wife of an auditor and disciple of his had been brought to bed a short time before, and that his pupil's family had been increased by the birth of a son. 2 "Let us go," said he, "both to see the child and to congratulate the father."1

3 The father was of senatorial rank and of a family of high nobility. We who were present at the time went with Favorinus, attended him to the house to which he was bound, and entered it with him. 4 Then the philosopher, having embraced and congratulated the father immediately upon entering, sat down. And when he had asked how long the labour had been and how difficult, and had learned that the young woman, overcome with fatigue and wakefulness, was sleeping, he began to talk at greater length and said: "I have no doubt she will suckle her son herself!" 5 But when the young woman's mother said to him that she must spare her daughter and provide nurses for the child, in order that to the pains which she had suffered in childbirth they might not be added the wearisome and difficult task of nursing, he said: "I beg you, madam, let her be wholly and p355entirely the mother of her own child. 6 For what kind of unnatural, imperfect and half-motherhood is it to bear a child and at once send it away from her? to have nourished in her womb with her own blood something which she could not see, and not to feed with her own milk what she sees, now alive, now human, now calling for a mother's care? 7 Or do you too perhaps think," said he, "that nature gave women nipples as a kind of beauty-spot, not for the purpose of nourishing their children, but as an adornment of their breast? 8 For it is for that reason (though such a thing is of course far from your thoughts) that many of those unnatural women try to dry up and check that sacred fount of the body, the nourisher of mankind, regardless of the danger of diverting and spoiling the milk, because they think it disfigures the charms of their beauty. In so doing they show the same madness as those who strive by evil devices to cause abortion of the fetus itself which they have conceived, in order that their beauty may not be spoiled by the labour of parturition. 9 But since it is an act worthy of public detestation and general abhorrence to destroy a human being in its inception, while it is being fashioned and given life and is still in the hands of Dame Nature, how far does it differ from this to deprive a child, already perfect, of the nourishment of its own familiar and kindred blood?

10 " 'But it makes no difference,' for so they say, 'provided it be nourished and live, by whose milk that is effected.' 11 Why then does not he who affirms this, if he is so dull in comprehending natural feeling, p357think that it also makes no difference in whose body and from whose blood a human being is formed and fashioned? 12 Is the blood which is now in the breasts not the same that it was in the womb, merely because it has become white from abundant air and width? 13 Is not wisdom of nature evident also in this, that as soon as the blood, the artificer, has fashioned the whole human body within its secret precautions, when the time for birth comes, it rises into the upper parts, is ready to cherish the first beginnings of life and of light, and supplies the newborn children with the familiar and accustomed food? 14 Therefore it is believed not without reason that, just as the power and nature of the seed are able to form likenesses of body and mind, so the qualities and properties of the milk have the same effect. 15 And this is observed not only in human beings, but in beasts also; for if kids are fed on the milk of ewes, and lambs on that of goats, it is a fact that as a rule the wool is harsher in the former and the hair softer in the latter. 16 In trees too and grain the power and strength of the water and earth which nourish them have more effect in retarding or promoting their growth than have those of the seed itself which is sown; and you often see a strong and flourishing tree, with transplanted to another spot, die from the effect of an inferior soil. 17 What the mischief, then, is the reason for corrupting the nobility of body and mind of a newly born human being, formed from gifted seeds, by the alien and degenerate nourishment of another's milk? Especially if she whom you employ to furnish the milk is either a slave or of servile origin and, as usually happens, of a foreign and barbarous nation, if she is dishonest, ugly, p359unchaste and a wine-bibber; for as a rule anyone who has milk at the time is employed and no distinction made.

18 "Shall we then allow this child of ours to be infected with some dangerous contagion and to draw a spirit into its mind and body from a body and mind of the worst character? 19 This, by Heaven! is the very reason for what often excites our surprise, that some children of chaste women turn out to be like their parents neither in body nor in mind. 20 Wisely then and skilfully did our Maro make use of these lines of Homer:2

The horseman Peleus never was thy sire,

Nor Thetis gave thee birth; but the gray sea

Begat thee, and the hard and flinty rocks;

So savage is thy mind.

For he bases his charge, not upon birth alone, as did his model, but on fierce and savage nurture, for his next verse reads:

And fierce Hyrcanian tigers gave thee suck.3

And there is no doubt that in forming character the disposition of the nurse and the quality of the milk play a great part; for the milk, although imbued from the beginning with the material of the father's seed, forms the infant offspring from the body and mind of the mother as well.

21 "And in addition to all this, who can neglect or despise this consideration also, that those who desert their offspring, drive them from them, and give them to others to nurse, do sever, or at any rate loosen and relax, that bond and cementing of the mind and of affection with which nature attaches p361parents to their children? 22 For when the child is given to another and removed from its mother's sight, the strength of maternal ardour is gradually and little by little extinguished, every call of impatient anxiety is silenced, and a child which has been given over to another to nurse is almost as completely forgotten as if it had been lost by death. 23 Moreover, the child's own feelings of affection, fondness, and intimacy are centred wholly in the one by whom it is nursed, and therefore, just as happens in the case of those who are exposed at birth, it has no feeling for the mother who bore it and no regret for her loss. Therefore, when the foundations of natural affection have been destroyed and removed, however much children thus reared may seem to love their father and mother, that affection is in a great measure not natural but merely courteous and conventional."

24 I heard Favorinus make this address in the Greek language. I have reproduced his sentiments, so far as I was able, for the sake of their general utility, but the elegance, copiousness and richness of his words hardly any power of Latin eloquence could equal, least of all my humble attainments.a

2 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] That the judgment passed by Annaeus Seneca on Quintus Ennius and Marcus Cicero was trifling and futile.

1 Some think of Annaeus Seneca as a writer of little value, whose works are not worth taking up, since his style seems commonplace and ordinary, while the matter and the thought are characterized, now by a foolish and empty vehemence, now by an empty and p363affected cleverness; and because his learning is common and plebeian, gaining neither charm nor distinction from familiarity with the earlier writers.4 Others, on the contrary, while not denying that his diction lacks elegance, declare that he is not without learning and a knowledge of the subjects which he treats, and that he censures the vices of the times with a seriousness and dignity which are not wanting in charm. 2 I myself do not feel called upon to criticize and pass judgment upon his talents in general, or upon his writings as a whole; but I shall select for consideration the nature of the opinions which he has expressed about Marcus Cicero, Quintus Ennius and Publius Vergilius.

3 For in the twenty-second book of his Moral Epistles, which he addressed to Lucilius, he says5 that the following verses which Quintus Ennius wrote6 about Cethegus, a man of the olden time, are absurd:

He by his fellow citizens was called,

By every man who lived and flourished then,

The people's chosen flower, Persuasion's marrow.

4 He then wrote the following about these lines: "I am surprised that men of great eloquence, devoted to Ennius, have praised those absurd verses as his best. Cicero, at any rate, includes them among examples of his good verses."7 5 He then goes on to say of Cicero: "I am not surprised that there existed a man who could write such verses, when there existed a man who could praise them; unless haply Cicero, that great orator, was pleading his own cause p365and wished his own verse to appear excellent." 6 Later he adds this very stupid remark: "In Cicero himself too you will find, even in his prose writings, some things which will show that he did not lose his labour when he read Ennius." 7 Then he cites passages from Cicero which he criticizes as taken from Ennius; for example, when Cicero wrote as follows in his Republic:8 "As Menelaus, the Laconian, had a kind of sweet-speaking charm," and said in another place: "he cultivates brevity of speech in his oratory." 8 º And then that trifler apologizes for what he considers Cicero's errors, saying: "This was not the fault of Cicero, but of the times; it was necessary to say such things when such verses were read." 9 Then he adds that Cicero inserted these very things in order to escape the charge of being too diffuse and ornamental in his style.

10 In the same place Seneca writes the following about Virgil also: "Our Virgil too admitted some verses which are harsh, irregular and somewhat beyond the proper length, with no other motive than that those who were devoted to Ennius might find a flavour of antiquity in the new poem."

11 But I am already weary of quoting Seneca; yet I shall not pass by these jokes of that foolish and tasteless man: "There are some thoughts in Quintus Ennius," says he, "that are of such lofty tone that though written among the unwashed,9 they nevertheless can give pleasure among the anointed"; and, after censuring the verses about Cethegus which I have quoted above, he said: "It would be clear to you that those who love verses of this kind admire even the couches of Sotericus."10

p367 12 Worthy indeed would Seneca appear11 of the reading and study of the young, a man who has compared the dignity and beauty of early Latin with the couches of Sotericus, implying forsooth that they possessed no charm and were already obsolete and despised! 13 Yet listen to the relation and mention of a few things which that same Seneca has well said, for example what he said of a man who was avaricious, covetous and thirsting for money: "Why, what difference does it make how much you have? There is much more which you do not have." 14 Is not that well put? Excellently well; but the character of the young is not so much benefited by what is well said, as it is injured by what is very badly put; all the more so, if the bad predominates, and if a part of the bad is uttered, not as an argument about some slight and trivial affair, but as advice in a matter requiring decision.

3 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] The meaning and origin of the word lictor and the varying opinions of Valgius Rufus and Tullius Tiro on that subject.

1 Valgius Rufus, in the second of the books which he entitled On Matters Investigated by Letter, says12 that the lictor was so called from ligando or "binding," because when the magistrates of the Roman people had given orders that anyone should be beaten with rods, his legs and arms were always fastened and bound by an attendant, and therefore that the member of the college of attendants who had the duty of binding him was called a lictor. And he quotes as p369evidence on this subject Marcus Tullius, citing these words from the speech entitled In Defence of Gaius Rabirius:13 "Lictor, bind his hands." 2 This is what Valgius says.

3 Now, I for my part agree with him; but Tullius Tiro, the freedman of Marcus Cicero, wrote14 that the lictor got his name from limus or licium. "For," says he, "those men who were in attendance upon the magistrates were girt across with a kind of girdle called limus."

4 But if there is anyone who thinks that what Tiro said is more probable, because the first syllable15 in lictor is long like that of licium, but in the word ligo is short, that has nothing to do with the case. For in lictor from ligando, lector from legendo, vitor from viendo, tutor from tuendo, and structor from struendo, the vowels, which were originally short, are lengthened.

4 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] Lines taken from the seventh book of the Annals of Ennius, in which the courteous bearing of an inferior towards a friend of higher rank is described and defined.

1 Quintus Ennius in the seventh book of his Annals describes and defines very vividly and skilfully in his sketch of Geminus Servilius, a man of rank, the tact, courtesy, modesty, fidelity, restraint and propriety in speech, knowledge of ancient history and of customs old and new, scrupulousness in keeping and guarding a secret; in short, the various remedies and methods of relief and solace for guarding against the annoyances p371of life, which the friend of a man who is his superior in rank and fortune ought to have. 2 Those verses in my opinion are no less worthy of frequent, attentive perusal than the rules of the philosophers about duties. 3 Besides this, there is such a venerable flavour of antiquity in these verses, such a sweetness, so unmixed and so removed from all affectation, that in my opinion they ought to be observed, remembered and cherished as old and sacred laws of friendship. 4 Therefore I thought them worthy of quotation, in case there should be anyone who desired to see them at once:16

So saying, on a friend he called, with whom

He oft times gladly shared both board and speech

And courteously informed of his affairs,

On coming wearied from the sacred House

Or Forum broad, where he all day had toiled,

Directing great affairs with wisdom; one with whom

He freely spoke of matters great and small,

Confiding to him thoughts approved or not,

If he so wished, and found him trustworthy;

With whom he took much pleasure openly

Or privily; a man to whom no thought

Suggested heedlessness or ill intent,

A cultured, loyal and a winsome man,

Contented, happy, learned, eloquent,

Speaking but little and that fittingly,

Obliging, knowing well all ancient lore,

All customs old and new, the laws of man

And the gods, who with due prudence told

What he had heard, or kept it to himself:

Him 'mid the strife Servilius thus accosts.

p373 They say that Lucius Aelius Stilo used to declare17 that Quintus Ennius wrote these words about none other than himself, and that this was a description of Quintus Ennius' own character and disposition.

5 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] A discourse of the philosopher Taurus on the manner and method of enduring pain, according to the principles of the Stoics.

1 When the philosopher Taurus was on his way to Delphi, to see the Pythian games and the throng that gathered there from almost all Greece, I was his companion. And when, in the course of the journey, we had come to Lebadia, which is an ancient town in the land of Boeotia, word was brought to Taurus there that a friend of his, an eminent philosopher of the Stoic sect, had been seized with illness and had taken to his bed. 2 Then interrupting our journey, which otherwise would have called for haste, and leaving the carriages, he hastened to visit his friend, and I followed, as I usually did wherever he went. When we came to the house in which the sick man was, which were saw that he was suffering anguish from pains in the stomach, such as the Greeks call κόλος, or "colic," and at the same time from a high fever. The stifled groans that burst from him, and the heavy sighs that escaped his panting breast, revealed his suffering, and no less his struggle to overcome it.

3 Later, when Taurus had sent for physicians and discussed with them the means of cure, and had encouraged the patient to keep up his endurance by commending the fortitude which he was showing, p375we left the house. And as we were returning to the carriages, and our companions, Taurus said: "You were witness of no very pleasant sight, it is true, but one which was, nevertheless, a profitable experience, in beholding the encounter and contest of a philosopher with pain. The violent character of the disorder, for its part, produced anguish and torture of body; reason and the spiritual nature, on the other hand, similarly played their part, supporting and restraining within reasonable bounds the violence of well-nigh ungovernable pain. He uttered no shrieks, no complaints, not even any unseemly outcries; yet, as you saw, there were obvious signs of a battle between soul and body for the man's possession."

4 Then one of the disciples of Taurus, a young man not untrained in philosophy, said: "If the bitterness of pain is such that it struggles against the will and judgment, forcing a man to groan involuntarily and confess the evil of his violent disorder, why is it said among the Stoics that pain is a thing indifferent and not an evil? Furthermore, why can a Stoic be compelled to do anything, or how can pain compel him, when the Stoics say that pain exerts no compulsion, and that a wise man cannot be forced to anything?"18

5 To this Taurus, with a face that was now somewhat more cheerful, for he seemed pleased at being lured into a discussion, replied as follows: "If this friend of ours were now in better health, he would have defended such unavoidable groans against reproach and, I dare say, would have answered your question; but you know that I am no great friend of the Stoics, or rather, of the Stoa; for it is often p377inconsistent with itself and with us, as is shown in the book which I have written on that subject. 6 But to oblige you, I will say 'unlearnedly and clearly,' as the adage has it, what I imagine that any Stoic now present would have said more intricately and cleverly. For you know, I suppose that old and familiar proverb:19

Less eruditely speak and clearer, please."

And with that preamble he discoursed as follows about the pain and groans of the ailing Stoic:20 7 "Nature," said he, "who produced us, implanted in us and incorporated in the very elements from which we sprang a love and affection for ourselves, to such a degree that nothing whatever is dearer or of more importance to us than ourselves. And this, she thought, would be the underlying principle for assuring the perpetuation of the human race, if each one of us, as soon as he saw the light, should have a knowledge and understanding first of all of those things which the philosophers of old have called τὰ πρῶτα κατὰ φύσιν, or 'the first principles of nature'; that is, that he might delight in all that was agreeable to his body and shrink from everything disagreeable. Later, with increasing years, reason developed from the first elements, and reflection in taking counsel, and the consideration of honour and true expediency, and a wiser and more careful choice of advantages as opposed to disadvantages; and in this way the dignity of virtue and honour became so pre-eminent and so superior, that any disadvantage from without which prevented our holding and retaining this quality was despised. Nothing was considered truly and wholly good unless it wasº honourable, and p379nothing evil unless it isº dishonourable. All other things which lay between, and were neither honourable nor dishonourable, were decided to be neither good nor evil.21 But productiones and relationes, which the philosophers call προηγμένα, or 'things desirable,' and ἀποπροηγμένα, or 'things undesirable,' are distinguished and set apart each by their own qualities. Therefore pleasure also and pain, so far as the end of living well and happily is concerned, are regarded as indifferent and classed neither with good nor with evil. 8 But since the newly-born child is endowed with these first sensations of pain and pleasure before the appearance of judgment and reason, and is attracted to pleasure by nature, but averted and alienated from pain, as if from some bitter enemy — therefore reason, which is given to him later, is hardly able to uproot and destroy those inclinations which were originally and deeply implanted in him. Yet he constantly struggles with them, checks and tramples them under foot when they are excessive, and compels them to obey and submit to him. 9 Hence you saw the philosopher, relying upon the efficacy of his system, wrestling with the insolent violence of disease and pain, yielding nothing, admitting nothing; not, as sufferers commonly do, shrieking, lamenting and calling himself wretched and unhappy, but giving vent only to panting breathing and deep sighs, which are signs and indications, not that he is overcome or subdued by pain, but that he is struggling to overcome and subdue it.

10 "But very likely," said he, "because of the mere fact that he struggles and groans, someone may ask, if pain is not an evil, why is it necessary to groan and struggle? It is because all things which are not p381evil are not also wholly lacking in annoyance, but there are very many things which, though free from any great harm or baneful effect, as not being base,22 are none the less opposed to the gentleness and mercy of nature through a certain inexplicable and inevitable law of nature herself. These, then, a wise man can endure and put up with, but he cannot exclude them altogether from his consciousness; for ἀναλγησία, or 'insensibility,' and ἀπάθεια, or 'lack of feeling,' not only in my judgment," said he, "but also in that of some of the wise men of that same school (such as Panaetius,23 a serious and learned man) are disapproved and rejected.

11 But why is a Stoic philosopher, upon whom they say no compulsion can be exerted, compelled to utter groans against his will? It is true that no compulsion can be exerted upon a wise man when he has the opportunity of using his reason; but when nature compels, then reason also, the gift of nature, is compelled. Inquire also, if you please, why a man involuntarily winks when someone's hand is suddenly directed against his eyes, why when the sky is lit up by a flash of lightning he involuntarily drops his head and closes his eyes, why as the thunder grows louder he gradually becomes terrified, why he is shaken by sneezing, why he sweats in the heat of the sun or grows cold amid severe frosts. 12 For these and many other things are not under the control of the will, the judgment, or the reason, but are decrees of nature and of necessity.

13 "Moreover, that is not fortitude which, like a giant, struggles against nature and goes beyond her bounds, either through insensibility of spirit, or p383savage pride, or some unhappy and compulsory practice in bearing pain — such as we heard of in a certain savage gladiator of Caesar's school, who used to laugh when his wounds were probed by doctors — but that is true and noble fortitude which our forefathers called a knowledge of what is endurable and unendurable. 14 From this it is evident that there are some insupportable trials, from the undergoing or endurance of which brave men may shrink."

15 When Taurus had said this and seemed to intend to say even more, we reached our carriages and entered them.

6 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] On the Enigma.

1 The kind of composition which the Greeks call "enigmas," some of our early writers called scirpi, or "rushes."24 An example is the enigma composed of three iambic trimeters which I recently found — very old, by Jove! and very neat. I have left it unanswered, in order to excite the ingenuity of my readers in seeking for an answer. 2 The three verses are these:

I know not if he's minus once or twice,

Or both of these, who would not give his place,

As I once heard it said, to Jove himself.

3 He who does not wish to puzzle himself too long will find the answer25 in the second book of Varro's Latin Language, addressed to Marcellus.26

p385 7 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] Why Gnaeus Dolabella, the proconsul, referred to the court of the Areopagus the case of a woman charged with poisoning and admitting the fact.

1 When Gnaeus Dolabella was governing the province of Asia with proconsular authority, a woman of Smyrna was brought before him. 2 This woman had killed her husband and her son at the same time by secretly giving them poison. She confessed the crime, and said that she had reason for it, since her husband and son had treacherously done to death another son of hers by a former husband, an excellent and blameless youth; and there was no dispute about the truth of this statement. 3 Dolabella referred the matter to his council. 4 No member of the council ventured to render a decision in so difficult a case, since the confession of the poisoning which had resulted in the death of the husband and son seemed to call for punishment, while at the same time a just penalty had thereby been inflicted upon two wicked men. Dolabella referred the question 5 to the Areopagites27 at Athens, as judges of greater authority and experience. 6 The Areopagites, after having heard the case, summoned the woman and her accuser to appear after a hundred years. 7 Thus the woman's crime was not condoned, for the laws did not permit that, nor, though guilty, was she condemned and punished for a pardonable offence. 8 The story is told in the ninth book of Valerius Maximus' work on Memorable Occurrences and Sayings.28

p387 8 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] Noteworthy reconciliations between famous men.

1 Publius Africanus the elder and Tiberius Gracchus, father of Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, men illustrious for their great exploits, the high offices which they held, and the uprightness of their lives, often disagreed about public questions, and for that reason, or some other, were not friends. When this hostility had lasted for a long time, 2 the feast was offered to Jupiter on the appointed day,29 and on the occasion of that ceremony the senate banqueted in the Capitol. It chanced that the two men were placed side by side at the same table, and immediately, as if the immortal gods, acting as arbiters at the feast of Jupiter, Greatest and Best of Gods, had joined their hands, 3 they became the best of friends. And not only did friendship spring up between them, but at the same time their families were united by a marriage; 4 for Publius Scipio, having a daughter that was unwedded and marriageable at the time, thereupon on the spot betrothed her to Tiberius Gracchus, whom he had chosen and approved at a time when judgment is most strict; that is, while he was his personal enemy.

5 Aemilius Lepidus, too, and Fulvius Flaccus, men of noble birth, who had held the highest offices, and occupied an exalted place in public life, were opposed to each other in a bitter hatred and enmity of long standing. 6 Later, the people chose them censors at the same time. Then they, as soon as their election was proclaimed by the herald, in the Campus Martius itself, before the assembly was dispersed, p389both voluntarily and with equal joy, immediately joined hands and embraced each other, and from that day, both during their censorship and afterwards, they lived in continual harmony as loyal and devoted friends.

9 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] What is meant by "ambiguous" words; and that even honos was such a word.

1 One may very often see and notice in the early writings many words which at present in ordinary conversation have one fixed meaning, but which then were so indifferent and general, that they could signify and include two opposite things. Some of these are well known, such as tempestas (weather), valitudo (health), facinus (act), dolus (device), gratia (favour), industria (activity).30 2 For it is well-nigh a matter of general knowledge that these are ambiguous and can be used either in a good or in a bad sense.

That periculum (trial), too, and venenum (drug) and contagium (contagion) were not used, as they now are, only in a bad sense, you may learn from many examples of that usage. 3 But the use of honor as an indifferent word, so that people even spoke of "bad honour," signifying "wrong" or "injury," is indeed very rare. 4 However, Quintus Metellus Numidicus, in a speech which he delivered On his Triumph, used these words:31 "In this affair, by as much as the whole of you are more important than my single self, by so much he inflicts upon you greater insult and injury than on me; and by as much as honest men are more willing to suffer wrong than to p391do wrong to another, by so much has he shown worse honour (peiorem honorem) to you than to me; for he wishes me to suffer injustice, Romans, and you to inflict it, so that I may be left with cause for complaint, and you may be open to reproach." He says, "he has shown worse honour to you than to me," 5 and the meaning of the expression is the same as when he himself says, just before that, "he has inflicted a greater injury and insult on you than on me."

6 In addition to the citation of this word, I thought I ought to quote the following saying from the speech of Quintus Metellus, in order to point out that it is a precept of Socrates; the saying in question is: "It is worse to be unjust than to suffer injustice."32

10 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] That aeditumus is a Latin word.

1 Aeditimus33 is a Latin word and an old one at that, formed in the same way as finitimus and legitimus. 2 In place of it many to‑day say aedituus by a new and false usage, as if it were derived from guarding the temples.34 3 This ought to be enough to say as a warning35 . . . because of certain rude and persistent disputants, who are not to be restrained except by the citation of authorities.

4 Marcus Varro, in the second book of his Latin Language addressed to Marcellus, thinks36 that we ought to use aeditumus rather than aedituus, because the latter is made up by a late invention, while the former is pure and of ancient origin. 5 Laevius too, p393in the Protesilaodamia I think, used claustritumum37 of one who had charge of the fastenings of a door, evidently using the same formation by which he saw that aeditumus, or "one who guards the temples," is made. 6 In the most reliable copies of Marcus Tullius' Fourth Oration against Verres I find it written:38 "The custodians (aeditumi) and guards quickly perceive it," but in the ordinary copies aeditui is read. 7 There is an Atellan face of Pomponius' entitled Aeditumus. In it is this line:39

As soon as I attend you and keep your temple-door (aeditumor).

8 Titus Lucretius too in his poem40 speaks of aedituentes, instead of aeditui.41

11 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] That those are deceived who sin in the confident hope of being undetected, since there is no permanent concealment of wrongdoing; and on that subject a discourse of the philosopher Peregrinus and a saying of the poet Sophocles.

1 When I was at Athens, I met a philosopher named Peregrinus, who was later surnamed Proteus, a man of dignity and fortitude, living in a hut outside the city. And visiting him frequently, I heard him say many things that were in truth helpful and noble. Among these I particularly recall the following:

2 He used to say that a wise man would not commit a sin, even if he knew that neither gods nor men p395would know it; for 3 he thought that one ought to refrain from sin, not through fear of punishment or disgrace, but from love of justice and honesty and from a sense of duty. 4 If, however, there were any who were neither so endowed by nature nor so well disciplined that they could easily keep themselves from sinning by their own will power, he thought that such men would all be more inclined to sin whenever they thought that their guilt could be concealed and when they had hope of impunity because of such concealment. 5 "But," said he, "if men know that nothing at all can be hidden for very long, they will sin more reluctantly and more secretly." 6 Therefore he said that one should have on his lips these verses of Sophocles, the wisest of poets:42

See to it lest you try aught to conceal;

Time sees and hears all, and will all reveal.

7 Another one of the old poets, whose name has escaped my memory at present, called Truth the daughter of Time.

12 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] A witty reply of Marcus Cicero, in which he strives to refute the charge of a direct falsehood.

1 This also is part of a rhetorical training, cunningly and cleverly to admit charges not attended with danger, so that if something base is thrown up to you which cannot be denied, you may turn it off by a jocular reply, making the thing seem deserving of laughter rather than censure. This we read that Cicero did, when by a witty and clever remark he p397put aside what could not be denied. 2 For when he wished to buy a house on the Palatine, and did not have the ready money, he received a loan of 2,000,000 sesterces43 privately from Publius Sulla, who was at the time under accusation.44 3 But before he bought the house, the transaction became known and reached the ears of the people, and he was charged with having received money from an accused man for the purpose of buying a house. 4 Then Cicero, disturbed by the unexpected reproach, said that he had not received the money and also declared that he had no intention of buying a house, adding: "Therefore, if I buy the house, let it be considered that I did receive the money." But when later he had bought the house and was twitted in the senate with this falsehood by friends, he laughed heartily, saying as he did so: "You are men devoid of common sense, if you do than know that it is the part of a prudent and careful head of a family to get rid of rival purchasers by declaring that he does not intend to buy something that he wishes to purchase."

13 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] What is meant by the expression "within the Kalends," whether it signifies "before the Kalends" or "on the Kalends," or both; also the meaning of "within the Ocean" and "within Mount Taurus" in a speech of Marcus Tullius, and of "within the limit" in one of his letters.

1 When I had been named by the consuls a judge extraordinary at Rome,45 and ordered to give judgment "within the Kalends," I asked Sulpicius Apollinaris, p399a learned man, whether the phrase "within the Kalends" included the Kalends themselves; and I told him that I had been duly appointed, that the Kalends had been set as the limit, and that I was to give judgment "within" that day. 2 "Why," said he, "do you make this inquiry of me rather than of some one of those who are students of the law and learned in it, whom you are accustomed to take into your counsel when about to act as judge?" Then I answered him as follows: 3 "If I needed information about some ancient point of law that had been established, one that was contested and ambiguous, or one that was newly ratified, I should naturally have gone to inquire of those whom you mention. 4 But when the meaning, use and nature of Latin words is to be investigated, I should indeed be stupid and mentally blind, if, having the opportunity of consulting you, I had gone to another rather than to you." 5 "Hear then," said he, "my opinion about the meaning of the word,46 but be it understood that you will not act according to what I shall say about its nature, but according to what you shall learn to be the interpretation agreed upon by all, or by very many, men; for not only are the true and proper signification so common words changed by long usage, but even the provisions of the laws themselves become a dead letter by tacit consent."

6 Then he proceeded to discourse, in my hearing and that of several others, in about this fashion: "When the time," said he, "is so defined that the judge is to render a decision 'within the Kalends,' everyone at once jumps to the conclusion that there is no doubt that the verdict may be lawfully be rendered before the Kalends, and I observe that the only p401question is the one which you raise, namely, whether the decision may lawfully be rendered also on the Kalends. 7 But undoubtedly the word itself is of such origin and such a nature that when the expression 'within the Kalends' is used, no other day ought to be meant than the Kalends alone. For those three words intra, citra, ultra (within, this side, beyond), by which definite boundaries of places are indicated, among the early writers were expressed by monosyllables, in, cis, uls. 8 Then, since these particles had a somewhat obscure utterance because of their brief and slight sound, the same syllable was added to all three words, and what was formerly cis Tiberim (on this side of the Tiber) and uls Tiberim (beyond the Tiber) began to be called citra Tiberim and ultra Tiberim; and in also became intra by the addition of the same syllable. 9 Therefore all these expressions are, so to speak, related, being united by common terminations: intra oppidum, ultra oppidum, citra oppidum, of which intra, as I have said, is equivalent to in; 10 for one who says intra oppidum, intra cubiculum, intra ferias means nothing else than in oppido (in the town), in cubiculo (in the room), in feriis (during the festival).

11 " 'Within the Kalends,' then, is not 'before the Kalends,' but 'on the Kalends'; that is, on the very day on which the Kalends fall. 12 Therefore, according to the meaning of the word itself, one who is ordered to give judgment within the Kalends,' unless he do so on the Kalends, acts contrary to the order contained in the phrase; 13 for if he does so earlier, he renders a decision not 'within' but 'before the Kalends.' 14 But somehow or other the utterly absurd interpretation has been generally adopted, p403that 'within the Kalends' evidently means also 'on this side of the Kalends' or 'before the Kalends'; for these are nearly the same thing. 15 And, besides, it is doubted whether a decision may be rendered on the Kalends also, since it must be rendered neither beyond nor before that date, but 'within the Kalends,' a time which lies between these; 16 that is to say, 'on the Kalends.' But no doubt usage has gained the victory, the mistress not only of all things, but particularly of language."

17 After this very learned and clear discussion of the subject by Apollinaris, I then spoke as follows: "It occurred to me," said I, "before coming to you, to inquire and investigate how our ancestors used the particle in question. Accordingly, I found that Tullius in his Third Oration against Verres wrote thus:47 'There is no place within the ocean (intra oceanum) either so distant or so hidden, that the licentiousness and injustice of our countrymen has not penetrated it.' 18 He uses 'within the ocean' contrary to your reasoning; for he does not, I think, wish to say 'in the ocean,' but he indicates all the lands which are surrounded by the ocean and to which our countrymen have access; and these are 'this side the ocean, not 'in the ocean.' For he cannot be supposed to mean some islands or other, which are spoken of as far within the waters of the ocean itself."

19 Then with a smile Sulpicius Apollinaris replied: "Keenly and cleverly, by Heaven! have you confronted me with this Ciceronian passage; but Cicero said 'within the ocean,' not, as you interpret it, 'this side ocean.' 20 What pray can be said to be 'on this side of the ocean,' when the ocean surrounds and p405encircles all lands on every side?48 For that which is 'on this side' of a thing, is outside of that thing; but how can that be said to be 'within' which is without? But if the ocean were only on one side of the world, then the land in that part might be said to be 'this side the ocean,' or 'before the ocean.' But since the ocean surrounds all lands completely and everywhere, nothing is on this side of it, but, all lands being walled in by the embrace of its waters, everything which is included within its shore is in its midst, just as in truth the sun moves, not on this side of the heavens, but within and in them."

At the time, what Sulpicius Apollinaris said seemed to be learned and acute. 21 But later, in a volume of Letters to Servius Sulpicius by Marcus Tullius, I found "within moderation" (intra modum) used in the same sense that those give to "within the Kalends" who mean to say "this side of the Kalends." 22 These are the words of Cicero, which I quote:49 "But yet since I have avoided the displeasure of Caesar, who would perhaps think that I did not regard the present government as constitutional if I kept silence altogether, I shall do this50 moderately, or even less than moderately (intra modum), so as to consult both his wishes and my own desires." 23 He first said "I shall do this moderately," that is, to a fair and temperate degree; 24 then, as if this expression did not please him and he wished to correct it, he added "or even within moderation," thus indicating that he would do it to a less extent than might be considered moderate; that is, not up to the very limit, but somewhat short of, or "on this side of" the limit.

p407 25 Also in the speech which he wrote In Defence of Publius Sestius Cicero says "within Mount Taurus" in such a way as to mean, not "on Mount Taurus," but "as far as the mountain and including the mountain itself." 26 These Cicero's own words in the speech which I have mentioned:51 "Our forbears, having overcome Antiochus the Great after a mighty struggle on land and sea, ordered him to confine his realm 'within Mount Taurus.' Asia, which they had taken from him, they gave to Attalus, to be his kingdom." 27 Cicero says: "They ordered him to confine his realm within Mount Taurus," which is not the same as when we say "within the room," unless "within the mountain" may appear to mean what is within the regions which are separated by the interposition of Mount Taurus.52 28 For just as one who is "within a room" is not in the walls of the room, but is within the walls by which the room is enclosed, just so one who rules "within Mount Taurus," not only rules on Mount Taurus but also in those regions which are bounded by Mount Taurus.

29 According therefore to the analogy of the words of Marcus Tullius may not one who is bidden to make a decision "within the Kalends" lawfully make it before the Kalends and on the Kalends themselves? And this results, not from a sort of privilege conceded to ignorant usage, but from an accurate regard for reason, since all time which is embraced by the day of the Kalends is correctly said to be "within the Kalends."

p409 14 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] The meaning and origin of the particle saltem.

1 We were inquiring what the original meaning of the particle saltem (at least) was, and what was the derivation of the word; 2 for it seems to have been so formed from the first that it does not appear, like some aids to expression, to have been adopted inconsiderately and irregularly. 3 And there was one man who said that he had read in the Grammatical Notes of Publius Nigidius53 that saltem was derived from si aliter, and that this itself was an elliptical expression, since the complete sentence was si aliter non potest, "if otherwise, it cannot be." 4 But I myself have nowhere come upon that statement in those Notes of Publius Nigidius, although I have read them, I think, with some care.

5 However, that phrase si aliter non potest does not seem at variance with the meaning of the word under discussion. But yet to condense so many words into a very few letters shows a kind of misplaced subtlety. 6 There was also another man, devoted to books and letters, who said that saltem seemed to him to be formed by the syncope of a medial u, saying that what we call saltem was originally salutem. "For when some other things have been requested and refused, then," said he, "we are accustomed, as if about to make a final request which ought by no means to be denied, to say 'this at least (saltem) ought to be done or given,' as if at last seeking safety (salutem), which it is surely most just to grant and to obtain." 7 But this also, p411though ingeniously contrived, seems too far-fetched. I thought therefore that further investigation was necessary.54

15 [Legamen ad versionem Latinam] That Sisenna in his Histories has frequently used adverbs of the type of celatim, vellicatim and saltuatim.

1 While diligently reading the History of Sisenna, I observed that he used adverbs of this form: cursim (rapidly), properatim (hastily), celatim, vellicatim, saltuatim. 2 Of these the first two, since they are more common, do not require illustration. The rest are to be found in the sixth book of the Histories in these passages: "He arranged his men in ambush as secretly (celatim) as he could."55 Also in another place:56 "I have written of the events of one summer in Asia and Greece in a consecutive form, that I might not by writing piecemeal or in disconnected fashion (vellicatim aut saltuatim) confuse the minds of my readers."57


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 The addition of a son to his family gave the father certain privileges.

2 Iliad XVI.33 ff.

3 Aen. IV.366 f.

4 Besides Caligula, who called Seneca's essays "mere declamation exercises" and his style "sand without lime" (Suet. Calig. LIII), there were other critics of Seneca in his own day, as well as in the following Flavian epoch.

5 pp610 f. Hense; except for these fragments, only twenty books have come down to us.

6 Ann. 306 ff., Vahlen2; quoted by Cicero, Brut. 58.

7 Cic. Brut. 58.

8 V.9, 11.

9 Lit., "those who smell like a he-goat"; cf. Hor. Serm. I.2.27, pastillos Rufillus olet, Gargonius hircum; Epod. XII.5.

10 Obviously, an unskilful workman.

11 Ironical, of course.

12 p485, Fun.

13 § 13.

14 p8, Lion.

15 The vowel is long, not merely the syllable, as Gellius goes on to say.

16 Ann. 234 ff., Vahlen2.

17 p51, Fun.

18 iii.168, Arn.

19 Aristophanes, Frogs, 1445.

20 iii.181, Arn.

21 Cf. I.2.9.

22 That is, they do not involve any guilt.

23 Fr. 14, Fowler.

24 Apparently so called from the involved pattern of plaited rushes.

25 The answer is Terminus. Once minus and twice minus = thrice (ter) minus. In the cella of Jupiter on the Capitolium or possibly in the pronaos, there was a terminal cippus, representing Terminus, who refused to be removed from his original site.

26 Fr. 55, G. & S.

27 A very ancient court at Athens, so called because it held its meetings on the Areopagus, or Hill of Mars.

28 VIII.I amb. 2, Kempf; Gellius' reference is wrong.

29 On the 13th of September, which was also the anniversary of the founding of the Capitoline Temple. See Fowler, Roman Festivals, pp217 f.

30 Tempestas means good or bad weather; valitudo, good or ill health, etc.

31 O.R.F., p275, Meyer2.

32 Plato, Gorgias, p473A; 489A; 508B.

33 So the MSS.; aeditumus is a variant spelling.

34 That is, from aedes and tueor.

35 There is a lacuna in the text.

36 Fr. 56, G. & S.

37 Fr. 16, Bährens.

38 II.4.96.

39 v.2, Ribbeck3.

40 VI.1273.

41 Both aeditumus and aedituus are good Latin words. The former is made like finitumus and originally meant "belonging to a temple"; it derived its meaning "guardian of a temple" from aedituus (aedes and tueor).

42 Fr. 280 N2.

43 About $100,000 or £20,000.

44 He was charged with participation in the conspiracy of Catiline.

45 From early times the examination of the evidence in cases at law was turned over by the magistrates to private persons, who acted under instruction from the magistrate. Lawsuits consisted of two parts: a preliminary hearing before the magistrate (in iure) and the proceedings in iudicio before the private judge. Gellius mentions a similar appointment by the praetors in XIV.2.1.

46 That is, intra.

47 II.3.207.

48 The Greeks of early times regarded the ocean as a great river encircling the earth.

49 Ad Fam. IV.4.4.

50 i.e., take part in politics.

51 § 58.

52 This is the usage of the Greek geographers, such as Strabo, who uses ἔσω τοῦ ἰσθμοῦ and ἔσω τοῦ Ταύρου in the sense of "south of the isthmus" and "south of Taurus."

53 p19, 66, Swoboda.

54 Saltem or saltim is the accusative of a noun (cf. partim, etc.) derived by some from the root of sal-vus and sal-us; by others from that of sal-io; Walde, Lat. Etym. Wörterb. s.v. accepts Warren's derivation from si alitem (formed from item), meaning "if otherwise."

55 Fr. 126, Peter2.

56 Fr. 127, Peter2.

57 These adverbs too are accusatives; see note 1 on chapter xiv.


Thayer's Note:

a Now I happen to agree with the actual content of what Favorinus said — but I hope this appalling set piece was merely a creation of Gellius', put into the mouth of his master, and that this man, with fawning disciples in tow, did not really have the presumption to pontificate on motherly love to the woman he was addressing, whose care at the moment was for her daughter. A more ill-mannered, insensitive, arrogant monologue, vented at such a time and on a family of relative strangers, would be hard to devise, and if philosophers were anything like this, their bad reputation in Antiquity, amply attested, was well deserved.


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