A 2600-year-old burn from the grave

I got an interesting comment over on Mastodon, in response to the Tommy Tuberville story. There’s a classical scholar always ready to sic some ancient poetry on philistines.

Sappho, “To One Who Loved Not Poetry,” ca mid-600BCE:

κατθάνοισα δὲ κείσῃ οὐδέ ποτα
μναμοσύνα σέθεν
ἔσσετ’ οὐδὲ †ποκ’†ὔστερον· οὐ
γὰρ πεδέχῃς βρόδων
τῶν ἐκ Πιερίας· ἀλλ’ ἀφάνης
κἠν Ἀίδα δόμῳ
φοιτάσεις πεδ’ ἀμαύρων νεκύων

But thou shalt ever lie dead,
nor shall there be any remembrance of thee then or thereafter,
for thou hast not of the roses of Pieria;
but thou shalt wander obscure even in the house of Hades,
flitting among the shadowy dead.

That’s a fitting end for a stupid old football coach — eternal obscurity, lost and forgotten, with only mockery left to remember him by. Respect poets, or suffer that fate yourself!


  1. wzrd1 says

    I’m sure he’d have something to say about the Greeks and boys in that era, then move onto quoting scripture that’s originated from Greek transliteration and never realize the conflict.
    He reminds me of an evil version of Coach from Cheers. Not even quite achieving the status of Gollum, from the Rings…
    Or as his Ruskie masters would say, “A useful idiot”.

  2. whheydt says

    Truism from the SCA… Do not meddle in the affairs of bards, for your name is silly and scans to the meter of Greensleeves. (My late wife got a work out of that after talking with someone who claimed his name wouldn’t scan to Greensleeves. He was wrong.)

  3. weekendeditor says

    Always good policy not to start a war of words with people whose profession is words.

    Very like the movie/tv/etc. production companies, who ticked off a bunch of writers causing the WGA strike. And then began a war of words… with writers.

    [BTW, retired physicist, not classical scholar here: https://www.someweekendreading.blog/ ]

  4. wajim says

    As an actual publishing poet, I sincerely agree. Though I’m not quite sure “flitting among” is the best translation. Perhaps “twittering.” Oh, wait . . . get back to you

  5. raven says

    Always good policy not to start a war of words with people whose profession is words.

    Mark Twain: “Never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel.”

  6. petesh says

    Nihil novi sub sole — Ecclesiastes, though not in the original Hebrew — there is nothing new under the sun; or, in the King James version as my prep school headmaster (a minor deity, I suppose, but important to me at the time) intended:

    The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.

    Poetry, Senator? You got a problem with that?

  7. wzrd1 says

    I’m not really big on poetry, probably due to my dyslexia and such things weren’t addressed in my training, back during the ice age.
    As in, Purple Cow and rather see than be one being a highlight.
    But, I do recognize the reality that it’s a big deal for many, unlike Tellytubbyhead.
    Trust me, he’d loathe that more than any actual slight or insult. I do know the type, as I do understand psychological factors in people and troglodytes. Guess that marks me as Other or something.

    As one who has defeated local Jehovah Witless groups, in multiple states, repeatedly, converting them to something more lamestream or even atheism, by using their own bible and experience, coupled with sociology and experience in multiple regional cultures that carved out that whole ball of earwax faiths, there are ways to turn that turd, if that’s a sincere belief. Alas, I’m fairly certain that it isn’t, he’s just whoring for campaign dollars and the god of their party.
    And culture wars is mostly their whoring to their party gods anyway. This is just yet another example of extremes.
    And far right, far left, wait a bit and meet the same damned idiots coming around the other way.
    And oddly, occasionally, reversing in damned near unison.

    Oh wait, I think I found a unifying factor. Count De Monet…*

    *See Mel Brooks for that one.

  8. wzrd1 says

    chuckonpiggott @ 11, I disarm such lunacy trivially.
    Bring a boatload of friends to attest to my wife’s proclamation that I’m a pervert and “dirty old man”, the testimony my admission, “Yeah, but I’m thankful that I’m long married to a dirty old lady”.
    It was a punchline in our jokes in familiar company and funny because of the truth of it all. Damn, but I miss her horribly.
    41 years, I still keep thinking of telling her something I learned, turn to address her and it’s around a year and a half since she died.
    And still briefly consider self-harm at least daily.

    And my many jokes about our sex swing, which all friends and were my wife alive, could also attest to the entire lack of existence of such, as mutual survival would be utterly unlikely.
    Klingons in a sex swing just ain’t a good idea. ;)
    The same is true with train wrecks in a sex swing.

  9. StevoR says

    @10. birgerjohansson : “I think Tuberville might consider this speech to be acceptable poetry.””

    That was poetry? (Not a German speaker here..) But yeah. Apt given Tommy Tuberville’s white supremacist views.

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