Friday, December 15, 2017

 

Changing the Names of Things

Procopius, History of the Wars 7.8.17 (tr. H.B. Dewing):
Now I, for my part, know this, that the great majority of mankind twist and turn the names of things until they reverse their meaning. For, on the one hand, they are accustomed to call kindness that which is really lawlessness, the outcome of which is that everything respectable is brought to utter confusion; and, on the other hand, they call any man perverse and exceedingly difficult who wishes to preserve the lawful order with exactness—to the end, plainly, that by using these names as screens for their wanton deeds they may be able more fearlessly to do wrong and display their baseness.

ἐγὼ μὲν οὖν τοῦτο οἶδα, ὡς τῶν ἀνθρώπων ὁ πολὺς ὅμιλος τὰ τῶν πραγμάτων ὀνόματα μεταβάλλουσιν ἐπὶ τοὐναντίον. φιλανθρωπίαν μὲν γὰρ καλεῖν τὴν παρανομίαν εἰώθασιν, ἐξ ἧς διεφθάρθαι τε τὰ χρηστὰ πάντα καὶ ξυντεταράχθαι ξυμβαίνει, σκαιὸν δὲ καὶ ἀτεχνῶς δύσκολον, ὃς ἂν τὰ νόμιμα περιστέλλειν ἐς τὸ ἀκριβὲς βούληται, ὅπως δὴ τοῖς ὀνόμασι τούτοις παραπετάσμασιν ἐς τὴν ἀσέλγειαν χρώμενοι ἀδεέστερον ἐξαμαρτάνειν τε ἱκανοὶ εἶεν καὶ τὴν μοχθηρίαν ἐνδείκνυσθαι.

 

The Swabian Salute

Ferdinand Mount, "Super Goethe," The New York Review of Books (December 17, 2017), a review of Rüdiger Safranski, Goethe: Life as a Work of Art, tr. David Dollenmayer (New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2017):
The best-remembered line from his first play, Götz von Berlichingen, is the robber baron Götz shouting through the window to the emperor's messenger: "Tell his Imperial Majesty that he can lick my arse"—otherwise known as the Swabian salute.
Goethe, Götz von Berlichingen, Act III, Scene 17 (tr. Cyrus Hamlin):
Tell your Captain: To his Imperial Majesty, as ever, I offer all due respect. But as for him, you tell him, he can kiss my arse!

Sag deinem Hauptmann: Vor Ihro Kaiserliche Majestät hab ich, wie immer, schuldigen Respekt. Er aber, sag's ihm, er kann mich im Arsche lecken!
The antecedent of the pronouns er and ihm seems to be the Hauptmann, not the Kaiserliche Majestät. If so, it's inaccurate to say that Götz told the messenger, "Tell his Imperial Majesty that he can lick my arse." Rather, Götz told the messenger, "Tell your Captain that he can lick my arse." See Jeffrey Champlin, The Making of a Terrorist: On Classic German Rogues (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2015), p. 57:
Götz tells the first intermediary, the herald, to tell the second intermediary, the captain, that he will not obey him. He refuses to admit that he targets the Emperor, aiming his words at the captain, the head of the army.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

 

Stop Laughing

John Chrysostom, On the Statues, Homily 15.4 (tr. W.R.W. Stephens):
For example, to laugh, to speak jocosely, does not seem an acknowledged sin, but it leads to acknowledged sin. Thus laughter often gives birth to foul discourse, and foul discourse to actions still more foul. Often from words and laughter proceed railing and insult; and from railing and insult, blows and wounds; and from blows and wounds, slaughter and murder.

If, then, you would take good counsel for yourself, avoid not merely foul words, and foul deeds, or blows, and wounds, and murders, but unseasonable laughter, itself, and the very language of banter; since these things have proved the root of subsequent evils.

τὸ γελᾷν καὶ ἀστεῖα λέγειν οὐ δοκεῖ μὲν ὡμολογημένον ἁμάρτημα εἶναι, ἄγει δὲ εἰς ὡμολογημένον ἁμάρτημα· πολλάκις γοῦν ἀπὸ γέλωτος αἰσχρὰ ῥήματα τίκτεται, ἀπὸ ῥημάτων αἰσχρῶν πράξεις αἰσχρότεραι· πολλάκις ἀπὸ ῥημάτων καὶ γέλωτος λοιδορία καὶ ὕβρις, ἀπὸ λοιδορίας καὶ ὕβρεως πληγαὶ καὶ τραύματα, ἀπὸ τραυμάτων καὶ πληγῶν σφαγαὶ καὶ φόνοι.

ἄν τοίνυν μέλλῃς περὶ σεαυτοῦ καλῶς βουλεύεσθαι, οὐχὶ τὰ αἰσχρὰ ῥήματα μόνον, οὐδὲ τὰ αἰσχρὰ πράγματα, οὐδὲ τὰς πληγὰς καὶ τὰ τραύματα καὶ τοὺς φόνους, ἀλλὰ καὶ αὐτὸν τὸν ἄκαιρον γέλωτα καὶ αὐτὰ τὰ ἀστεῖα ἀποφεύξῃ ῥήματα, ἐπειδὴ τῶν μετὰ ταῦτα κακῶν ῥίζα ταῦτα ἐγένετο.
This ("laughter often gives birth to foul discourse, and foul discourse to actions still more foul," etc.) is a good example of the rhetorical device known as climax or gradatio. For other examples see:
Related posts:

 

Why Don't You Die?

Diogenes Laertius 6.1.4 (on Antisthenes; tr. R.D. Hicks):
When he was being initiated into the Orphic mysteries, the priest said that those admitted into these rites would be partakers of many good things in Hades. "Why then," said he, "don't you die?"

μυούμενός ποτε τὰ Ὀρφικά, τοῦ ἱερέως εἰπόντος ὅτι οἱ ταῦτα μυούμενοι πολλῶν ἐν ᾄδου ἀγαθῶν μετίσχουσι, "τί οὖν," ἔφη, "οὐκ ἀποθνήσκεις;"

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

 

Job

Anatoly Liberman, "The word 'job' and its low-class kin," The Oxford Etymologist (December 13, 2017):
Alongside the noun job "a piece of work," the verb job "to strike, peck" existed. Lexicographers are not sure whether the two words are connected, but it is reasonable to assume that they are. The verb seems to be primary: you peck, peck, peck, and "a piece of work" is done.
How appropriate, because many jobs today consist of little more than "peck, peck, peck" at a computer keyboard. I often wonder what an ancient Greek, transported through time, would think of us, cooped up indoors as we are much of the time, hunched over a computer keyboard or staring slack-jawed at a television screen or tapping away at our phones. I suspect he would laugh at our pale, puffy bodies, never exposed to wind or sun, and would regard us as useless and pathetic specimens of humanity.

Hat tip: Jim K.

 

The Monkeys of the World

Heaven Born Merida and Its Destiny: The Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel. Translated and Annotated by Munro S. Edmonson (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986), p. 76 (lines 611-618, from The Sermon of Xopan Nahuat):
Crazy are their days;
Crazy are the nights
Of the monkeys of the world.
Their necks are bent,
Their faces wrinkled,        615
Their mouths slack
In the lordship of the lands,
O fathers.

 

Death Is Nothing to Us

Lucretius, On the Nature of Things 3.830-842 (tr. W.H.D. Rouse, rev. Martin F. Smith, with their notes):
Therefore death is nothing to us,a it matters not one jot, since the nature of the mind is understood to be mortal;

and as in time past we felt no distress, while from all quarters the Carthaginians were coming to the conflict, when the whole world, shaken by the terrifying tumult of war, shivered and quaked under the lofty and breezy heaven, and was in doubt under which domination all men were destined to fall by land and seab;

so, when we shall no longer be, when the parting shall have come about between body and spirit from which we are compacted into one whole, then sure enough nothing at all will be able to happen to us, who will then no longer be, or to make us feel, not if earth be commingled with sea and sea with sky.

anil ... mors est ad nos (cf. 845, 850, 852, 926, 972) = ὁ θάνaτoς oὐδὲν πpὸς ἡμᾶς (Epicurus, Sent. 2).

bThe reference is chiefly to the Second Punic War (218–201 B.C.).

nil igitur mors est ad nos neque pertinet hilum,        830
quandoquidem natura animi mortalis habetur;
et, velut anteacto nil tempore sensimus aegri,
ad confligendum venientibus undique Poenis,
omnia cum belli trepido concussa tumultu
horrida contremuere sub altis aetheris auris,        835
in dubioque fuere utrorum ad regna cadendum
omnibus humanis esset terraque marique,
sic, ubi non erimus, cum corporis atque animai
discidium fuerit, quibus e sumus uniter apti,
scilicet haud nobis quicquam, qui non erimus tum,        840
accidere omnino poterit sensumque movere,
non si terra mari miscebitur et mare caelo.
J.D. Duff ad loc.:


See James Warren, Facing Death: Epicurus and His Critics (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2004), pp. 57 ff.



Thanks to Joel Eidsath for his translation of Epicurus' Greek in Duff's note on line 830:
Death is nothing to us. For we are insensible of being disincorporated, and what is insensible to us is nothing to us.

The most terrifying of evils, death, is nothing to us, since at any time when we exist, death is not present. Whenever death is present, we no longer exist.
Related post: Is It True?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

 

A Tree of His Own

R.B. McDowell, Alice Stopford Green: A Passionate Historian (Dublin: Allen Figgis and Company Limited, 1967), pp. 47-48:
Until 1903 she lived at 14 Kensington Square, an attractive Georgian house with a small garden (true to her country origins she enjoyed working in the garden and once said 'no one ought to be without a tree of his own').4

4. A.S. Green to Morel, 9 June 1902 (Morel papers).
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

 

A Missionary Motto

Brad Thor, The Last Patriot (2008; rpt. New York: Pocket Books, 2014), p. 297:
Hanging on the wall in the vestibule was a beautiful piece of wood he had discovered in the rectory attic carved with the Anglican missionaries' motto TRANSIENS ADIUVANOS—I go overseas to give help.
The motto (of the Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts) is TRANSIENS ADIUVA NOS, three words (present participle, imperative, direct object), not two, and it means literally "Crossing over, help us."


The motto comes from Acts of the Apostles 16.9:
et visio per noctem Paulo ostensa est: vir Macedo quidam erat stans et deprecans eum, et dicens: Transiens in Macedoniam, adjuva nos.
King James Version:
And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.
Hat tip: A friend.

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Monday, December 11, 2017

 

Ancient Unease with Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Jeffrey B. Gibson, The Disciples' Prayer: The Prayer Jesus Taught in Its Historical Setting (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015), p. 146, n. 29:
Moule's observation that there really is no sense in praying for exemption from πειρασμός if the πειρασμός in the petition is taken as a "testing to be experienced by believers"—indeed, that taking πειρασμός to have this meaning, renders the petition illogical, if not absurd, and that it therefore cannot be what Matthew and Luke thought Jesus was saying when he urged his disciples to urge God μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν—is supported by the peculiar way the petition is (mis)transmitted in the manuscript tradition or glossed by early commentators. For instance, Marcion reproduces it as "Do not suffer us to be led into 'testing'" (καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν), a gloss that appears again in the early third century in a fragment of a work by Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria and pupil of Origen, who, when commenting on how the petition is to be understood, says, "that is, do not suffer us to fall into 'testing'" (καὶ δὴ καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν· τουτέστι, μὴ ἐάσῃς ἡμᾶςἐμπεσεῖν εἰς πειρασμόν [Patrologia Graeca 10:1601]). Tertullian rendered it "Do not allow us to be led into 'testing' by him who 'tests' (the devil)" ("Ne nos inducas in temptationem, id est, ne nos patiaris induci ab eo utique qui temptat," De oratione 8), and Cyprian recites it in the form "do not suffer us to be induced into 'testing'" ("et ne patiaris nos induci in temtationem"). In Codex Bobbiensis and the Itala we find "ne passus fueris induci nos in temptationem," and Chromatius of Aquila, Jerome, Augustine, and various Western liturgies gloss it as "Do not lead us into testing which we cannot bear" ("et ne nos inferas in temptationem quam suffere non possumus"/"ne inducas nos in temptationem quam ferre non possumus"). On all of this, see Willis, "Lead Us Not into Temptation," 281-88; A.J.B. Higgins, "Lead Us Not Into Temptation: Some Latin Variants," Journal of Theological Studies o.s. 46 (1945): 179-83.
There is something wrong with the Greek quotation in Gibson's phrase
Marcion reproduces it as "Do not suffer us to be led into 'testing'" (καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν).
The phrase should read
Marcion reproduces it as "Do not suffer us to be led into 'testing'" (μὴ ἄφες ἡμᾶς εἰσενεχθῆναι εἰς πειρασμόν).
Gibson's reference to Willis is to Geoffrey G. Willis, "Lead Us Not into Temptation," Downside Review Vol. 93, No. 313 (October, 1975) 281-288. The articles by Willis and Higgins are unavailable to me.

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The Life of Fools

Lucretius, On the Nature of Things 3.1023 (tr. W.H.D. Rouse, rev. Martin F. Smith):
The fool's life at length becomes a hell on earth.

hic Acherusia fit stultorum denique vita.

 

Proportion of Truth to Falsehood

Jules Renard, Journal (March 17, 1906; tr. Louise Bogan and Elizabeth Roget):
Truth on earth is to falsehood what a pin's head is to the earth.

La vérité sur la terre est au mensonge comme une tête d'épingle à la terre elle-même.

 

Self-Praise

Themistius, Orations 21 (259 b, tr. Robert J. Penella):
There is nothing harder to tolerate than hearing a person praise himself, especially if he praises his own learning; for those who are truly learned cannot help blushing even when others praise them on that score.

οὐδὲν οὕτως ἄκουσμα φορτικὸν ὡς ὁ καθ' ἑαυτοῦ ἔπαινος, καὶ ταῦτα ἐπὶ παιδείᾳ, ἐφ' ᾗ καὶ ἄλλων ἐπαινούντων ἐρυθριᾶν χρεὼν τοὺς ἀληθινῶς αὐτῆς ἐπηβόλους.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

 

Athletics in Olden Times

Philostratus, On Athletics 43, tr. Waldo E. Sweet, Sport and Recreation in Ancient Greece: A Sourcebook with Translations (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), pp. 222-223:
In the old times "athletics" meant any kind of physical exercise. Some trained by carrying heavy weights, others by chasing hares and horses or by bending and straightening thick rods of wrought iron; others yoked themselves with strong oxen to pull wagons or bent back the neck of bulls; and some did the same with lions. Such activities were the training of men like Polymester, Glaukos, Alesias, and Poulydamas from Skotoussa. The boxer Tisander from Naxos used to swim around the headlands of his island, and went far out to sea, using his arms, which in exercising the rest of his body also received exercise themselves. These men washed in rivers and springs; they learned to sleep on the ground, some of them lying on stretcher beds made of oxhide, others on beds made of straw they gathered from the field. Their food was bread made from barley and unleavened loaves of unsifted wheat. For meat they ate the flesh of oxen, bulls, goats, and deer; they rubbed themselves with the oil of the wild olive and phylia. This style of living made them free from sickness, and they kept their youth a long time. Some of them competed in eight Olympic games, others for nine; they were also excellent soldiers and fought under their city's walls, where they were not defeated, but earned prizes for valor and trophies. They made war a training for athletics, and they made athletics a military activity.
Greek text, from Philostratos, Über Gymnastik, ed. Julius Jüthner (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1909), pp. 168, 170 (lunate sigmas not retained):
γυμναστικὴν δὲ οἱ παλαιοὶ καὶ αὐτὸ τὸ ὁτιοῦν γυμνάζεσθαι· ἐγυμνάζοντο δὲ οἱ μὲν ἄχθη φέροντες οὐκ εὔφορα, οἱ δ’ ὑπὲρ τάχους ἁμιλλώμενοι πρὸς ἵππους καὶ πτῶκας, οἱ δ’ ὀρθοῦντές τε καὶ κάμπτοντες σίδηρον ἐληλαμένον εἰς παχύ, οἱ δὲ βουσὶ συνεζευγμένοι καρτεροῖς τε καὶ ἁμαξεῦουσιν, οἱ δὲ ταύρους ἀπαυχενίζοντες, οἱ δ’ αὐτοὺς λέοντας. ταῦτα δὲ δὴ Πολυμήστορες καὶ Γλαῦκοι καὶ Ἀλησίαι καὶ Πουλυδάμας ὁ Σκοτουσσαῖος. Τίσανδρον δὲ τὸν ἐκ τῆς Νάξου πύκτην περὶ τὰ ἀκρωτήρια τῆς νήσου νέοντα παρέπεμπον αἱ χεῖρες ἐπὶ πολὺ τῆς θαλάσσης [παραπεμπόμεναι] γυμναζόμεναί τε καὶ γυμνάζουσαι. ποταμοί τε αὐτοὺς ἔλουον καὶ πηγαὶ καὶ χαμευνίαν ἐπήσκουν οἱ μὲν ἐπὶ βυρσῶν ἐκταθέντες, οἱ δ’ εὐνὰς ἀμήσαντες ἐκ λειμώνων. σιτία δὲ αὐτοῖς αἵ τε μᾶζαι καὶ τῶν ἄρτων οἱ ἄπτιστοι καὶ μὴ ζυμῆται καὶ τῶν κρεῶν τὰ βόειά τε καὶ ταύρεια καὶ τράγεια τούτους ἔβοσκε καὶ δόρκοι κότινου τε <καὶ> φυλίας ἔχριον αὑτοὺς λίπα· ὅθεν ἄνοσοί τε ἤσκουν καὶ ὀψὲ ἐγήρασκον. ἠγωνίζοντό τε οἱ μὲν ὀκτὼ Ὀλυμπιάδας, οἱ δὲ ἐννέα καὶ ὁπλιτεύειν ἀγαθοὶ ἦσαν ἐμάχοντό τε ὑπὲρ τειχῶν οὐδὲ ἐκεῖ πίπτοντες, ἀλλὰ ἀριστείων τε ἀξιούμενοι καὶ τροπαίων, καὶ μελέτην ποιούμενοι πολεμικὰ μὲν γυμναστικῶν, γυμναστικὰ δὲ πολεμικῶν ἔργα.

 

A Pejorative Term

Wendell Clausen (1923-2006), "Philology," Comparative Literature Studies 27.1 (1990) 13-15 (at 13-14, ellipse marks in original):
Anyone who speaks about philology today must be aware that it has become, for many, a pejorative term, even a term of abuse; at the very least, an adverse relation seems to be implied: philology and ... literary criticism or theory. Such a contrast — I am thinking especially, though not exclusively, of Greek and Latin literature — is not only futile, it is subversive; for philology is the basis of literary criticism. Too often philology has been humbled and identified with one or another of its components — with grammar (say) or textual criticism — and its original high purpose forgotten, which is, as it has been since the time of the scholars and poet-scholars of Alexandria, literary criticism — in Quintilian's phrase, poetarum enarratio, the detailed interpretation of the poets.

We are all of us natural philologists, growing up in our language, hearing, speaking, for the most part hardly even noticing it, so natural does it seem. But in Greek or Latin, in attempting to hear a "dead" language, we are deprived of the living voice; and it is the office of philology to supply our want of natural sensibility.

At the end of World War II, in 1945, a short book was published in Sweden, Unpoetische Wörter by Bertil Axelson, the importance of which, partly owing to circumstances, was only gradually recognized. Axelson undertook to answer an apparently simple question — in fact, a brilliant negative question: what words metrically available to the Latin poets did they avoid using? Unpoetic words: words unsuitable, presumably because of tone or connotation, to a certain genre of poetry, to poetry of a certain period, or altogether unsuitable. I remember still my surprise and dismay on first reading Axelson as a young scholar; for I was made to realize that I was not, after all, as I had fondly imagined, a Roman. The philologist, the classical scholar, must always be contemplating an imagined reality, an Italy of the mind, with the broken statues standing on the shore.
Related post: Term of Abuse.

 

I Live Like an Old Man

Jules Renard, Journal (March 2, 1905; tr. Louise Bogan and Elizabeth Roget):
I live like an old man. I read the papers a little, a few pieces out of books, I set down a few notes, I keep warm, and, often, I nap.

Je vis comme un vieux. Je lis un peu des journaux, des morceaux choisis, j'écris quelques notes, je me chauffe et, souvent, je sommeille.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

 

Unpublished Verses by J.K. Stephen

Inscription by J.K. Stephen (1859-1892) in a copy of his Lapsus Calami (Cambridge: Macmillan and Bowes, 1891) given to Charles Waldstein (1856-1927), transcribed by Christopher Stray from Waldstein's papers and books in Lausanne (line numbers added):
He can't keep away from the bottle
    And he thinks that he knows how to ride
But he found where the late Aristotle
    And his Biote calmly abide

The whiskey wanes fast in his cellar,        5
    He is sadly addicted to sleep;
But he isn't a bad sort of fellow,
    And his learning is certainly deep.

H​e​ isn't exactly a German
    And he is but a Yankee at heart;        10
But he preaches a beautiful sermon
    And lectures to women on art.

He possesses a great deal of knowledge
    And expresses opinions with zest:
But there isn't a man in the College        15
    Who is more to the taste of the rest.
Notes:

3-4 (he found where the late Aristotle / And his Biote calmly abide): see Charles Waldstein, "The Finding of the Tomb of Aristotle," Century Magazine 44.3 (July, 1892) 414-426, and Inscriptiones Graecae XII,9 564 (Euboia, Eretria, 3rd century B.C.) — [Β]ιότη [Ἀ]ριστοτέλου. See also Edith Hall, "Another Non-Tomb of Aristotle," The Edithorial (26 May 2016).

9-10 (H​e​ isn't exactly a German / And he is but a Yankee at heart): Waldstein was born in New York City, the son of German immigrants.

12 (lectures to women on art): "The use of 'women' is interesting. 'Lectures to ladies' was a conventional title in Oxbridge from the early 1870s; JKS is being rougher, man to man." (Christopher Stray)

15 (the College): King's College, Cambridge, which was also J.K. Stephen's college.

Thanks to Christopher Stray for permission to print these verses, and to Ian Jackson, who suggests that Stephen may have been influenced by "How pleasant to know Mr. Lear."

 

Motto for a Curmudgeon

Dear Mike,

"extra iocum moneo te, quod pertinere ad beate vivendum arbitror, ut cum viris bonis, iucundis, amantibus tui vivas. nihil est aptius vitae, nihil ad beate vivendum accommodatius."

This from a man who, equally 'extra iocum' writes to Atticus: "odi enim celebritatem, fugio homines, lucem aspicere vix possum." Perhaps he was just having a bad day.

Come to think of it, not a bad motto for a curmudgeon:

ODI CELEBRITATEM, FVGIO HOMINES,
LVCEM ASPICERE VIX POSSVM.

Best wishes,
Eric [Thomson]



In D.R. Shackleton Bailey's translation (Cicero, Letters to Atticus 3.7.1):
I hate crowds and shun my fellow creatures, I can hardly bear the light of day.

 

The Human Vomedy

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), "On Deviating into Sense," On the Margin: Notes & Essays (London: Chatto and Windus, 1923; rpt. 1928), pp. 81-86 (at 81-82):
No one will ever know the history of all the happy mistakes, the accidents and unconscious deviations into genius, that have helped to enrich the world's art. They are probably countless. I myself have deviated more than once into accidental felicities. Recently, for example, the hazards of careless typewriting caused me to invent a new portmanteau word of the most brilliantly Laforguian quality. I had meant to write the phrase "the Human Comedy," but, by a happy slip, I put my finger on the letter that stands next to "C" on the universal keyboard. When I came to read over the completed page I found that I had written "the Human Vomedy". Was there ever a criticism of life more succinct and expressive? To the more sensitive and queasy among the gods the last few years must indeed have seemed a vomedy of the first order.
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.

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