Thursday, August 20, 2009

Briefly mentioned by Gildersleeve

Basil Gildersleeve wrote a series of short essays on topics in Classics known as "Brief Mention." What follows are his aphoristic comments on various people and things collected by Frederick Danker (1988).

Justin Martyr: Incondite writer.

Persius: Hopeless prig.

Aelian: An utterly untrustworthy scribbler.

Marcion: A rat from Pontus who gnaws away at the Gospels.

Strauss: Evaporated the Glad Tidings of Great Joy.

Professor Shorey: An exceptional man, and my judgment is open to suspicion because I am a Hellenist.

Demosthenes: Outswears all the Attic orators.

Polybios: He is scrupulous in the avoidance of hiatus, but there is one hiatus that he cannot escape, the yawn in the face of his reader.

Herakleitos: Surrounds his ripe fruit with a protective envelope, so that it may not fall into the hands of unworthy nibblers.

Polyanthea, or Parallelomania: the appositeness of the citations is by no means in keeping with their number.

Dissertations: Long endurance guarantees the toughness and large charity the amplitude.

Plutarch: Philosophic washerwoman of Chaeronea.

Aristophanes: Spoiled darling of the Muses.

Swinburne: A case of moral leprosy.

Jebb: A man of admirable poise, of wonderful insight, of flawless style, a scholar whose renderings made all others seem coarse or crude.

Constantine the Great: A sorry Christian in theory and practice.

Antoninus: Introspective keeper of a pathological peepshow.

The Kappadocian St. George: A fraudulent pork-commisary as a layman, a truculent tyrant as a prelate, he deserves more attention than he has received at the hands of his unconscious imitators in these latter days.

Lucian: No hope, no love. No good God for him but good Greek.

Use of Scriptural language: in the category of recondite allusions.

Double entendre in contemporary authors like Browning: There is nothing more obscene than an obscene conundrum, and erotic and skatologic riddles play an important part in that region of folklore.

On the position of Pindar's ἄριστον μὲν ὕδωρ in Gildersleeve's almanac of commonplaces: It goes under Aquarius.

Slit-skirt: Bequest from those φαινομηρίδες, the Spartan belles.

Many grammarians: like Renan's Eastern sage, whose name being interpreted means οὗ τὸ σπέρμα εἰς τὴν κεφαλὴν ἀνέβη.

The Greek Language: The cases made havoc with compounds. Syntax killed synthesis.

Herodotos: One of the most fascinating, large-minded, artistic and lovable natures in the whole world of classical literature.

Interpreters with little time for grammar: who does not know the syntax of Thukydides does not know the mind of Thukydides.

On his edition of Pindar: If I were to edit Pindar again, even the ghost of the digamma would disappear.


Blogger Wm said...

The Plutarch comment makes me giggle. A lot.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Nicholas said...

That was my favorite too.

7:27 PM  

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