Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Some online resources for the Spring♠

Not an exhaustive list, but some links to some of the readings we are considering for the Spring. Not all of these are worthwhile translations.

Ethics: Philosophers, Poets, Prophets


Epicurus -

Marcus Aurelius


Diogenes of Sinope

Thucydides, The Melian Dialogue

Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics – wikipedia

Nicomachean Ethics – text 350 BC

Plato -

Plutarch - Lives of the Greeks and Romans – Dryden translation

Horace - Select Satires

Juvenal -Satires 1, 2, 3 ; Satire 3 Bilingual


A♦t the beginning of Purg. 29, Matilda sang the psalm
Beati quorum tecta sunt peccata!
Blessed are those whose sins are covered.

Purg. 30-31 are clearly cantos of repentence, which in Italian is pentimento.

Readers of Lillian Hellman know that pentimento acquired another meaning, much later on:

pen·ti·men·to Listen to the pronunciation of pentimento
Inflected Form(s):
plural pen·ti·men·ti Listen to the pronunciation of pentimenti \-(ˌ)tē\
Italian, literally, repentance, correction, from pentire to repent, from Latin paenitēre — more at penitent
: a reappearance in a painting of a design which has been painted over

More at the Britannica: pentimento

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Was Shakespeare a Catholic?

At least one Roman Catholic scholar thinks so:

The Rev. David Beauregard, a Roman Catholic priest who teaches Shakespeare at the seminary of St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine in the Back Bay, argues in his new book, "Catholic Theology in Shakespeare's Plays" (University of Delaware Press), that Shakespeare was Catholic.

Among the evidence:

He'll remind you that in "Hamlet," the ghost of Hamlet's murdered father tells his son that he is in purgatory, a Catholic concept.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Purg. 30: The admiral

"Dante, perché Virgilio se ne vada,
non pianger anco, non piangere ancora;
ché pianger ti conven per altra spada".

Quasi ammiraglio che in poppa e in prora
viene a veder la gente che ministra
per li altri legni, e a ben far l'incora;

in su la sponda del carro sinistra,
quando mi volsi al suon del nome mio,
che di necessità qui si registra,

in su la sponda del carro sinistra,
quando mi volsi al suon del nome mio,
che di necessità qui si registra,

vidi la donna che pria m'appario
velata sotto l'angelica festa,
drizzar li occhi ver' me di qua dal rio.

Quasi ammiraglio… Singleton finds strain in the simile – the oddness of likening a beloved woman, not seen since her death ten years earlier, to a busy, officious admiral pacing the deck of his ship.

"Dante, though Virgil's leaving you, do not
yet weep, do not weep yet; you'll need your tears
for what another sword must yet inflict."

Just like an admiral who goes to stern
and prow to see the officers who guide
the other ships, encouraging their tasks; 60

so, on the left side of the chariot
(I'd turned around when I had heard my name-
which, of necessity, I transcribe here),

I saw the lady who had first appeared
to me beneath the veils of the angelic
flowers look at me across the stream.

The moment Beatrice finally speaks to Dante would, in another sort of poem, be a rich, romantic, dreamlike moment -- but not here. Likening Beatrice to an admiral derails romance, and summons up an entirely different order -- a mariner, a leader, charged with responsibility for untold numbers of men and ships -- the fleet entrusted to his care.

What does this striking simile do in this context, and why might it, once one gets past the oddly jarring daring of the analogy, be appropriate and necessary at this moment of the Purgatorio?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

More on the Hollander Paradiso

A recent New York Times review of the Hollander version of the Paradiso can be found here. A snippet:

From that time on my power of sight exceeded
that of speech, which fails at such a vision,
as memory fails at such abundance.
Just as the dreamer, after he awakens,
still stirred by feelings that the dream evoked,
cannot bring the rest of it to mind,
such am I, my vision almost faded from my mind,
while in my heart there still endures
the sweetness that was born of it.
Thus the sun unseals an imprint in the snow.
Thus the Sibyl’s oracles, on weightless leaves,
lifted by the wind, were swept away.

Here, remarkably, Dante offers three similes in a row: he can express the inexpressible only by descending repeatedly into the physical world — the world where dreamers awaken, where snow melts in sunlight, where the Sibyl’s prophecies are scattered by wind.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Purg. 30:1-12 Constellation

Quando il settentrïon del primo cielo,
che né occaso mai seppe né orto
né d'altra nebbia che di colpa velo,

e che faceva lì ciascuno accorto
di suo dover, come 'l più basso face
qual temon gira per venire a porto,

fermo s'affisse: la gente verace,
venuta prima tra 'l grifone ed esso,
al carro volse sé come a sua pace;

e un di loro, quasi da ciel messo,
'Veni, sponsa, de Libano' cantando
gridò tre volte, e tutti li altri appresso.

Dante begins with the settentrïon - the Little Dipper of the Northern sky, in which is found the North Star. For a relatively contemporary account of the heavens by a medieval astronomer, have a look at the Sphere of Sacrobosco:

It is to be noted that the pole which always is visible to us is called "septentrional," "arctic," or "boreal." "Septentrional" is from septentrio, that is, from Ursa Minor, which is derived from septem and trion, meaning "ox," because the seven stars in Ursa move slowly, since they are near the pole. Or those seven stars are called septentriones as if septem teriones, because they tread the parts about the pole.

The seven stars of the little dipper were also associated with the Hesperides, the daughters of Atlas who guarded the golden apples of Hera on a paradisal island at the western edge of the world. The apples were said to have been given to Hera as a wedding present by Gaia when the goddess accepted Zeus's hand in marriage.