Just a short post today.
I was reflecting on how “back in the day” the GOP was a dignified party that I didn’t agree with, but respected, when I remembered Richard Nixon, who by comparison with the crowd of candidates today, with the exception of his Shakespearean Vices which brought him down, looks good. I won’t petition to rename the Richard M. Nixon Parkway/Freeway in SoCal.
I am not a Crook!
My senior Latin composition at Yale was “Non sum reus!” “I am not a crook,” the story of Watergate written as if it were Sallust’s Cataline Conspiracy / War: Bellum Catilinae. The band of Watergate burglars became the manus Nixonis: Nixon’s “hand” (=gang).
One of the most telling characteristics of Sallust’s style–which I played up in the essay–are his “Sallustian Tricolons.”
Et = And
In Latin, one can link two words in three ways. The first is by using the conjunction et that is, “and.” Et is from Proto-Indo-European *éti. Cognate with Old English prefix ed- (“anew, again”). For example, we have panem et circenses, “bread and circuses.”
Here’s Wikipedia’s succinct summary:
“Bread and circuses” (or bread and games; from Latin: panem et circenses) is metonymic for a superficial means of appeasement. In the case of politics, the phrase is used to describe the generation of public approval, not through exemplary or excellent public service or public policy, but through diversion; distraction; or the mere satisfaction of the immediate, shallow requirements of a populace, as an offered “palliative.” Its originator, Juvenal, used the phrase to decry the selfishness of common people and their neglect of wider concerns. The phrase also implies the erosion or ignorance of civic duty amongst the concerns of the commoner.
Atque = And
The second way is using atque, from ad (“to”) + -que (“and”): ad from Proto-Indo-European *ád (“near, at”). Cognates include English at, and que from Proto-Italic *-kʷe (“and”), from Proto-Indo-European *-kʷe (“and”). Cognates include Sanskrit च (ca), Ancient Greek τε (te), Proto-Germanic *-hw ( → English (thou)gh). Alternate forms are adque and ac.
As an example, we have Ave atque Vale! “Hail and Farewell,” from Catullus’s Poem 101, his elegy to his lost Brother. The phrase is used in Military Farewells today.
multas per gentes et multa per aequora vectus
Carried through many nations and over many seas,
advenio has miseras frater ad inferias
I arrive, brother, for these wretched funeral rites
ut te postremo donarem munere mortis
so that I might present you with the last tribute of death
et mutam nequiquam alloquerer cinerem
and speak in vain to silent ashes,
quandoquidem fortuna mihi tete abstulit ipsum
since Fortune has carried you, yourself, away from me.
heu miser indigne frater adempte mihi
Alas, poor brother, unfairly taken away from me,
nunc tamen interea haec prisco quae more parentum
now in the meantime, nevertheless, these things which in the ancient custom of ancestors
tradita sunt tristi munere ad inferias
are handed over as a sad tribute to the rites
accipe fraterno multum manantia fletu
receive, dripping much with brotherly weeping.
atque in perpetuum frater ave atque vale
And forever, brother, hail and farewell.
— Catullus, Carmen CI
-que = And
A third way is to affix -que (etymology above) to the second of the two terms. Therefore we have: Antiquus Mysticusque Ordo Rosæ Crucis: “The Ancient and Mystical Order of the Rose Cross.”
It is also in the Roman Catholic version of the Nicene-Constantinoplitan Creed, when that Church inserted the word Filioque in the original Nicene Creed without the consent of the other Christian Churches in 1014, becoming one of the major causes of Schism:
The original Creed reads thus:
- Καὶ εἰς τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ Ἅγιον, τὸ κύριον, τὸ ζῳοποιόν, τὸ ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς ἐκπορευόμενον
- (And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, from the Father proceeding).
The Latin addition is…
Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum, et vivificantem: qui ex Patre Filioque procedit
(And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, and giver of life, who from the Father and the Son proceeds).
…completely changing the theology of the Holy Trinity. See the que?
Now Sallust took this last method, with -que a step further. He linked three items (I know, shocking!) with -que! These are called Sallustian Tricolons: Greek τρία (tria),“three” and κῶλον (kôlon), “member” or “clause.”
We still do this today:
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. — Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural, 1865.
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.“ — Dwight Eisenhower, Chance for Peace speech, 1953
After this great liberator is laid to rest, and when we have returned to our cities and villages and rejoined our daily routines, let us search for his strength. Let us search for his largeness of spirit somewhere inside of ourselves. And when the night grows dark, when injustice weighs heavy on our hearts, when our best-laid plans seem beyond our reach, let us think of Madiba and the words that brought him comfort within the four walls of his cell: “It matters not how strait the gate, how charged [with punishments] the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul. — Barack Obama, Memorial Service for Nelson Mandela, 10 December 2013
I actually feel rather good about this. I think we’ve all arrived at a very special place, eh? Spiritually, ecumenically … grammatically. — Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean
(Thank you to John Zimmer who collected these!)
In my Senior Latin composition, which, sadly, I no longer have (it may be in some file in Yale’s Harkness Tower where the Classics Department lives), I used the Sallustian Tricolons about Nixon. For example:
Praeses mendax seductor fraudatorque erat. The President was a liar, deceiver and cheater.
Ricardulus Captiosius aliquem eum damnare latēbat ērādīcābat dēlēbatque. Tricky Dicky concealed, eradicated and deleted (erased) anything that could harm him.
I think you get the idea! He still looks better than the Clown Car before us today.
Enough for today! Thank you for reading!
Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant