Key to Reading Unit 21

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Unit 21

  1. This place, because it is situated in the middle of the island, is called the umbilicus of Sicily. (Cicero, in Verrem, II, 4, 106 adapted)

  2. It is a serious illness when the numbness has come to the end of the tongue as well. (Celsus, de Medicina, II, 8, 37 adapted; Celsus was a voluminous writer of the 1st century AD; only his work on medicine has survived)

  3. As he had been ordered not to start battle unless Caesar’s forces were seen near the enemy’s camp (lit. it had been ordered to him that he should not . . .), Labienus, after taking possession of the hill, waited for our men so that the attack might be made against the enemy from all side at the one time. (Caesar, de Bello Gallico, I, 22, 3 adapted)

  4. You give kisses to some, Postumus, you give your right [hand] to others. You say, ‘Which do you prefer? Choose.’ I prefer your hand (Martial prefers to shake hands with Postumus rather than kiss him, thereby suggesting that he is a cunnilingus or a fellator). (Martial, II, 21)

  5. Though you do not publish your own [poems], you criticise my poems, Laelius. Either don’t criticise mine or publish your own. (Martial, I, 91)

  6. You promise everything when you have drunk the whole night; in the morning you produce nothing. Pollio, drink in the morning (totā nocte - in Silver Latin (1.3) the ablative is often used instead of the accusative to express time how long, cf. 5.1/4). (Martial, XII, 12)

  7. In sleep Phoebus forbade me to drink wine. I obey his orders; I drink [only] while awake (lit. I drink then when I am awake; Lyaeus another name of Bacchus, the god of wine; the god’s name is used for what he represents. The author is wilfully misinterpreting the divine message, which was given in sleep but he is taking it to apply only to sleep). (from Baehrens, Poetae Latini Minores, IV, p.258)

  8. Praise huge farms, cultivate a small one. (Vergil, Georgics, II, 412f.)

  9. Do not bury or burn a dead person in the city. (an ancient law quoted by Cicero, de Legibus, II, 58, 6; the use of ne with the imperative is archaic, and hence its use in poetry, cf. 21/1/1a)

  10. Let the die be cast (what Caesar said when he crossed the Rubicon was iacta est alea).

  11. Do not examine the teeth of a horse [which has been] given [to you].

  12. Always give good advice to a friend and to an enemy because a friend accepts it, an enemy rejects it.

  13. Use your own [property] in such a way that you do not harm another's.

  14. Break the moon and make your fortune (i.e. go to any lengths to succeed).

  15. When making new friends do not forget old ones (for ne + imperative cf. 9 above).

  16. Do not beat a stone lest you lose your hand.

  17. Do not do what you are doubtful about.

  18. Close your house in the first [part of] night.

  19. If you wish to be loved, love.

  20. Beware of the dog.

  21. So that you may have some quiet time give up (lit. lose) something.

  22. Divide and rule!

  23. There was in Athens an extensive and roomy house but [it was] of ill-repute and unhealthy. In the silence of the night the sound of iron and, when you listened more closely, the noise of chains were heard (lit. produced; reddebatur is singular because it agrees with the nearer subject) at first at some distance [and] then from very close; soon a ghost appeared, an old man, gaunt and squalid (lit. consumed with thinness and squalor), with a long beard [and] bristling hair; he wore leg-irons on his shins, chains on his hands and he rattled [them]. Because of this (inde lit. from this [source]) gloomy and frightening nights were spent in wakefulness and fear by those living in the house (lit. were spent awake in fear for the inhabitants; inhabitantibus is dative). Sickness was a consequence of their not sleeping, and, as their terror increased, death followed (lit. sickness and, with fear increasing, death followed their wakefulness); for during the day also, although the vision had gone away, memory of it (lit. the vision) ranged before their eyes, and their fear lasted longer than its causes (lit. the fear was longer than the causes of fear). Because of this the house [was] deserted and condemned by its being uninhabited, and wholly abandoned to that horrible creature; nevertheless, it was advertised in case anyone, unaware of so great a nuisance, wanted to buy or rent [it].

    The philosopher Athenodorus came to Athens, read the notice (i.e. the notice saying the house was up for sale or rent), and after hearing the price, because its cheapness [was] suspicious, made inquiries and learnt everything (lit. having inquired was informed [about] everything), and none the less, or rather all the more (lit. by so much [the] more), rented it. When evening was coming on he ordered that a bed be made (sterni is impersonal, lit. ordered it to be spread) for him in the front part of the house; he asked for writing tablets, a stylus, [and] a light, [and] he sent all his [household] into the inner [rooms]; he himself directed his attention, eyes, [and] hand to writing so that his mind, [if] unoccupied, should not imagine that it heard phantoms and so conceive empty fears (lit. create for itself heard phantoms and empty fears). At first [there was] the silence of night, just as everywhere [else]; then iron was struck and fetters moved. He did not raise his eyes, did not let go his stylus, but he steeled his mind. Then the commotion increased, it came closer and now was heard as though on the threshold, now as though inside the threshold. He looked behind him [lit. back], saw and recognised the figure [which had been] described to him. It was standing and beckoning with its finger like a person calling (lit. similar to [one] calling). Athenodorus, however, indicated with his hand that it should wait a little and he again lent over his wax [tablets] and stylus. The ghost rattled its chains at the writer's head (capiti is dative after insonabat). He again looked back at the ghost, beckoning as before (lit. [it] beckoning the same thing which earlier [it did]), and not delaying he raised the light and followed. It went with slow step as if weighed down (lit. heavy) by its chains. After it turned into the house's garden, it suddenly disappeared into thin air (lit. dissolved away) and abandoned its companion. Now on his own (lit. having been left) Athenodorus put grass and plucked leaves on the spot as a sign. On the next day he approached the magistrates [and] advised that they order that place be dug up. There were found, joined and entangled with chains, bones which a body, after rotting through age and [contact with] earth, had left bare and eaten away by the fetters. They were collected and publicly buried. Afterwards the house was not troubled by (lit. lacked) the shade [which had been] duly interred (manes, though plural, can refer to the shade of a single dead person; here there is a confusion between the physical remains and the shade itself, which was supposed to go down to Hades). (Pliny the Younger, Epistles, VII, 27, 5-11 adapted; Pliny the Younger lived c. AD61- c.112 and is called the Younger to distinguish him from his uncle, Pliny the Elder (AD23 - 79); of the former's works ten books of letters and a single speech survive)

  24. After these preparations (lit. these things having been prepared) he (i.e. Pompey) ordered the soldiers to board the ships in silence but he placed light-armed troops from the veterans [and] archers and slingers at intervals (raros) on the wall and towers. He arranged to recall these men with a particular signal when all the soldiers had boarded the ships, and he left fast boats for them in a convenient place.

    The people of Brundisium, angered by the wrongs of the soldiers and the affronts of Pompey himself, favoured Caesar's cause. And so when Pompey's departure became known [and] his men (illis) were assembling and occupied in this, they everywhere gave notice [of this] from their roofs. When he learnt this through them (lit. through whom the matter having been learnt) Caesar ordered that ladders be prepared and the soldiers be armed so that he would not lose any opportunity of furthering his plans (lit. of doing [his] thing). Pompey weighed anchor (lit. released the ships) at nightfall. Those who had been placed on guard-duty on the wall were recalled by the signal which he had arranged and ran down to the ships by known paths. The soldiers [of Caesar] set up the ladders and climbed the walls, but they came a halt [when] warned by the people of Brundisium to beware of the concealed palisade and trenches, and led by them on a long route they arrived at the harbour; and with skiffs and small boats they caught two ships with soldiers, which had stuck on Caesar's moles, and took possession of them (lit. captured them having been caught). (Caesar, de Bello Civili, I, 27, 5 - 28, 5)

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(c) Gavin Betts 2000