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27 December 2020


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Fourth and Long

Death is not an evil, because it frees us from all evils, and while it takes away good things, it takes away also the desire for them. Old age is the supreme evil, because it deprives us of all pleasures, leaving us only the appetite for them, and it brings with it all sufferings. Nevertheless, we fear death, and we desire old age.

- Giacomo Leopardi

Eric Newhill

As one who must confess that he has been driven crazy by Aphrodite as still often craves what she she offers - and who is seeing the old man down the road becoming larger - I still say the best love to have is the love of life - life eternal. The hedonists were very shallow and stupid people; albeit more fun to hang with than puritans.

Our western culture has the balanced perspective of the lacked the tantric arts (see Kama sutra, etc.).

Steven Willett

Fourth and Long: Consider the following from Leopardi.

Tutto è male. Cioè tutto quello che è, è male; che ciascuna cosa esista è un male; ciascuna cosa esiste per fin di male; l'esistenza è un male e ordinata al male; il fine dell'universo è il male; l'ordine e lo stato, le leggi, l'andamento naturale dell'universo non sono altro che male, né diretti ad altro che al male.

Non v'è altro bene che il non essere; non v'ha altro di buono che quel che non è; le cose che non son cose: tutte le cose sono cattive. Il tutto esistente; il complesso dei tanti mondi che esistono; l'universo; non è che un neo, un bruscolo in metafisica. L'esistenza, per sua natura ed essenza propria e generale, è un'imperfezione, un'irregolarità, una mostruosità. […]

Fourth and Long

Steven Willet:

Thanks very much for that. His personal existence early became an utter horror. Terrible spinal deformity to which was added parental callousness. I'm guessing from his Zibaldone but I'll do a search.

William Fitzgerald

Mr. Willet,

More modern but similar.

Drink, my beloved; drink from this
wide silver cup; drink as the
Maenads in the pine-crowned orgy
of Iacchus! Drink, drink! And as
our bodies meet tear the garland
from my brow and the thin veil
from my breasts.

Those who are about to die fear only
chastity and an empty wine cup.

From "The Love of Myrrhine and Konallis"; Richard Aldington; Pascal Covici, Publisher; Chicago 1926

Clueless Joe

I've always found it quite interesting that Mimnermus is one of the earliest Greek archaic poets and not someone from the Hellenistic or the "Roman decadence" era.
The topical mindset "It's better never to have been born, and if born, to die as soon as possible" is really ancient among the Greeks.

Tibullus, Thukydides, Mimnermus, all great choices and among my favourites. I'm looking forward to the next texts, eagerly wondering which authors will come next.

For what it's worth, I happened to read Juvenal a couple of weeks ago; it's quite impressive to see how vast parts of his satires could be lifted exactly as they are and would fully apply to our current times.

Steven Willett

Dear Fourth and Long, the passage is from Zibaldone p. 4174 in the three-volume Mondadori Editore I Meridiani 1997~99. The Zibaldone has been a crucial partner in my translations of Leopardi. I'm currently working on All'Italia. You might find my version of La Ginestra of interest in Arion Journal of Humanities and the Classics.

Kilo 4/11

I think, after reading the above Leopardi excerpt beginning "Tutto è male", I may just read I Promessi Sposi after all.

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