Thursday, February 23, 2017

Dante and Cavalcanti - The Beginning of a Friendship

A ciascun'alma presa e gentil core            
         To each love en-captured soul, noble heart thereof,
nel cui cospetto ven lo dir presente,          
         Into whose ken is now coming this present write:
in ciò che mi rescrivan suo parvente,        
         Of what this seems to be, may return me each wight 
salute in lor segnor, cioè Amore.               
         A greeting in their lord's name, their lord who is Love.
Già eran quasi che atterzate l'ore               
        Now hath passed near a third of the night sky above,
del tempo che onne stella n'è lucente,       
        At that time in which ev'ry star is shining bright,
quando m'apparve Amor subitamente,      
        When then appeared Love a-sudden before my sight,
cui essenza membrar mi dà orrore.           
        Whose very self rememb'ring am terrified of! 

Allegro mi sembrava Amor tenendo         
        For cheerful to me did seem Love, who while holding
meo core in mano, e ne le braccia avea     
        Mine own heart in his hand, had into his arm led
madonna involta in un drappo dormendo. 
        My lady asleep, wrapped in her veil enfolding.
Poi la svegliava, e d'esto core ardendo      
        Waking her, while me my flaming heart beholding,
lei paventosa umilmente pascea:               
        Then it to my fearful lady he humbly fed --
appresso gir lo ne vedea piangendo.         
        Then him I saw leave, with none his tears withholding.

                                                                                           -Dante, La Vita Nuova. Trans. is my own.


Vedeste, al mio parere, onne valore.          
        Thou didst see, as to my seeming, all of love's worth,
e tutto gioco e quanto bene om sente,        
        And ev'ry joy, and each good a man doth afford,
se foste in prova del segnor valente.          
        If thou were tested by thy courageous lord,
che segnoreggia il mondo de l’onore,        
        Who as lord doth rule o'er the court of virtue's mirth.
poi vive in parte dove noia more,             
        Since liveth there Love in where lies vexation's dearth,
e tien ragion nel cassar de la mente;           
        And in the mind's void keepeth there his reason stored;
sì va soave per sonno a la gente,                 
        Yea, now gentle hath he through mankind's slumbers soared,
che ’l cor ne porta senza far dolore.            
        And taketh without pain the hearts of all on earth.

Di voi lo core ne portò, veggendo.             
        As for thee, when took he thy heart, full in knowing
che vostra donna alla morte cadea:         
        That be it thy lady would to her own death fall,
nodriala dello cor, di ciò temendo.              
        Fed her thy heart, the fear of her death bemoaning.
Quando v’apparve che se ’n gia dolendo,  
        When to thee seemeth he to take leave while groaning,
fu ’l dolce sonno ch’allor si compiea,         
        Was the sweet dream at that time ending in all,
ché ’l su’ contraro lo venìa vincendo.          
        Would come its opposite, his triumph intoning.

                                                                            -Guido Cavalcanti, Soneto XXII. Trans. is my own.

Friday, January 20, 2017

An Augur-less Inauguration of an Executive Magistrate

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:—“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
            -The Constitution of the United States of America, Article II, Section 1, Clause 8

As is custom in the American Republic, the President-elect takes his oath of office on January 20th at noon (which date was established following the passage of the Twentieth Amendment in 1933; prior to this, the predominant date was in March just as it was in ancient Rome) and thus begins a four year term. This ceremony marking the transition to a new administration of the executive branch of the Republic is known as the inauguration, a word and practice steeped in Classical allusions. What is the nature of such an event, and how was the transition from one governing administration to another carried out in the ancient Roman Republic? Did the ancient Roman practice influence our modern inauguration in any way?

Firstly, the etymology of the word itself must be examined:
in·au·gu·ra·tion
iˌnôɡ(y)əˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun
noun: inauguration; plural noun: inaugurations
  • the beginning or introduction of a system, policy, or period.
        "the inauguration of an independent prosecution service"
  • the formal admission of someone to office.
        "Truman's second presidential inauguration" 
  • a ceremony to mark the beginning of something.
        "the inauguration of the Modern Art Museum"
The word may also be a verb:
in·au·gu·rate
iˈnôɡ(y)əˌrāt/
verbverb: inaugurate; 3rd person present: inaugurates; past tense: inaugurated; past participle: inaugurated; gerund or present participle: inaugurating
  • begin or introduce (a system, policy, or period).
          "he inaugurated a new policy of trade and exploration"
                  synonyms: initiate, begin, start, commence, institute, launch, start off, get                         going, get underway, set in motion, get off the ground, establish, found, lay the foundations of
  • admit (someone) formally to public office.
          "the new president will be inaugurated on January 20"
                  synonyms: admit to office, install, instate, swear in
  • mark the beginning or first public use of (an organization or project).
          "the museum was inaugurated on September 12"
                  synonyms: open, declare open, unveil; dedicate, consecrate
       
The root of both is the Latin verb inauguro which means "to divine, to practice augury, to take omens from bird-signs, to consecrate or approve on the basis of omens". This verb is formed from the suffix in- and the verb auguro, a root which in turn comes from the noun augur, auguris c. "an augur".

So, what is an augur and what is augury?


Augurs and Augury



Principio huius urbis parens Romulus non solum auspicato urbem condidisse, sed ipse etiam optumus augur fuisse traditur. Deinde auguribus et reliqui reges usi, et exactis regibus nihil publice sine auspiciis nec domi nec militiae gerebatur. 


In the beginning, this city's father, Romulus, not only founded this city when he took the auspices, but even he himself was a very good augur -- thus it has been handed down. Later did the rest of the kings employ augurs, and even when driven out were the kings, nothing publicly without taking the auspices was accomplished either at home nor on campaign
                                                                   -Cicero De Divinatione I.ii. Trans is my own.


A Lar Augusti depicting Augustus (center) acting in his rôle as an augur; he holds the lituus, a curved wand used by augurs to mark out (or, literally, "cut out") a templum, a sacred space either on the ground or in the heavens for the taking of auspices.

Augury is a branch of divination by which the will, signs, or warnings of the divine are observed and read in the flights, singing, or eating/pecking habits of certain kinds of birds or other natural phenomena; the practitioner of this art was known as an augur. 
The word itself, augury (from the Latin augurium), may derive from a combination of avis, "bird", and the verb garrio, "to chatter", in order to give us something to the effect of "the art of observing the calls of the birds"1. When an augur made these divine-sent observations, he was said to be "taking the auspices" (cf. Eng: "auspicious/inauspicious"). The Latin word auspicium, like augurium, is formed from the root avis, "bird", and the suffix -spex, -spicis, meaning "sight, seeing": the sight of the birds' actions led to either declaring either a "favorable" (auspicious) or "unfavorable" (inauspicious) portent. As evidenced by their etymologies, the auspice (auspicium) was the actual sight (-spex, -spic-) of the sign or portent itself, while the augury (augurium) was the interpretation of that sign or portent by the augur; as the ages passed, the two words became more or less interchangeable, with augur being chosen as the predominant word for the person or office, while the sign or portent itself was more commonly called the auspice. Additionally, though the origins of the words betray the augurs' original focus on birds alone, other signs later fell under the priests' purview, and altogether numbered five:
  • ex caelo - "from heaven" - these auspices were in the form of lightning and thunder. Lightning sighted "on the left" was meant to be most favorable, unless an election or assembly were being held, at which point all business was suspended. Reports of seeing lightning or hearing thunder were often used by politicians to break up meetings for political gain. 
  • ex avibus  - "from the birds" - these auspices were further divided into two:
    • alites - "winged bird" - eagles (aquilae), vultures (vultures), the like were observed based on their flight patterns.
    • oscines - "songbirds" - ravens (corvi), crows (cornices), owls (bubones), and hens (gallinae) were observed based on their singing and in what direction their heads turned.
  • ex tripudiis - "from the triple-beat dance" - these auspices appeared in the form of the movements of birds while feeding. Any bird could perform the tripudium ("triple-beat foot tap; sacred dance"), but chickens became the most popular and the sole birds employed as time went on. The chicken-keeper (pullarius) would open the cages of the chickens, throw them some bread or cake, and observe their actions: it was considered inauspicious if the birds shrieked, beat their wings, fled, or in general ignored the food; an auspicious omen was observed if the birds attacked the food with such ferocity that crumbs fell from their beaks which then "danced" (tripudium) upon the ground. 
  • ex quadrupedibus - "from the four-legged beasts" - though not a part of the official augur's auspices and never used for official state purposes, the augur could discern the will of the divine by noticing the movements and behavior of certain quadrupeds. 
  • ex diris  - "from terrible signs" - these auspices were anything else not falling into any of the above categories: sneezing, stumbling, stubbing one's toe, &c.

It is very important to point out as often as possible that "[...] nihil publice sine auspiciis nec domi nec militiae gerebatur - [...] nothing publicly without taking the auspices was accomplished either at home nor on campaign" (Cic. De Div.). The key word here is nihil, "nothing". The Roman college of augurs (collegium augurum; augures publici) took the auspices at the outset of performing every public and governmental action -- these were state actors. Private augurs were classed along with necromancers, fortune-tellers, and other practitioners of arts considered by the Romans to be mere chicanery. 
The Roman historian Livy says the same thing as Cicero does about auspices and auguries using almost the exact same words: 
"Auspiciis hanc urbem conditam esse, auspiciis bello ac pace domi militiaeque omnia geri, quis est qui ignoret?"  
"That by the taking of the auspices was this city founded, and by the taking of the auspices are all things done either at war or at peace, at home or on campaign -- who is the person who is does not know this?"
                                                                 -Livy, Ab Urbe Condita VI.41. Trans is my own.

Indeed, who is the person who does not know this? Clearly, this is common knowledge.
Therefore, though almost all modern American will think of an inauguration as the "the formal admittance of someone into a new job or office," the ancient Roman would have defined the word as something to the effect of "the approval or disapproval of any action based upon the observation of divinely sent signs and portents which are interpreted by people trained in such phenomenon". The key difference between the Roman and the American Republics, and by extension the difference between our practices of inaugurating magistrates to fill governmental rôle, is, of course, that the workings of the Roman Republic was intertwined with the ancient practices of the Roman state religion; meanwhile, our American Republic is divorced from religious trappings at least in theory and according to law, if not always in actual practice. 

To further examine this difference, we must look at the ceremonies which inaugurated magistrates both in ancient Rome and in America today. 


The Inauguration of the Ancient Roman Consul


The auspices upon which we are to mainly center our attention are those ex caelo, for the observation of lightning was the portent which heralded the beginning of the Roman Consular year. Consuls and Praetors, elected offices of the Roman Republic which bestowed imperium ("the legal right to field and command an army") on their officials, were held in the Campus Martius each July. There, two Consuls-elect (consules designati) were chosen by majority vote and these officially entered into their magistracy on January 1st of the following year to begin their annual term of office. We may learn from the ancient writers the format and ceremonies which marked this inauguration, and we must pay particular attention to the taking of the auspices, without which no Consul could properly embark upon his term of office. 
Dionysius of Halikarnassos, a 1st century B.C. Greek writer of Roman history, offers an overview of the augural aspects of a Consular inauguration from the point of view of a non-native:

τότε δ᾽ οὖν ὁ Ῥωμύλος ἐπειδὴ τὰ παρὰ τοῦ δαιμονίου βέβαια προσέλαβε, συγκαλέσας τὸν δῆμον εἰς ἐκκλησίαν καὶ τὰ μαντεῖα δηλώσας βασιλεὺς ἀποδείκνυται πρὸς αὐτῶν καὶ κατεστήσατο ἐν ἔθει τοῖς μετ᾽ αὐτὸν ἅπασι μήτε βασιλείας μήτε ἀρχὰς λαμβάνειν, ἐὰν μὴ καὶ τὸ δαιμόνιον αὐτοῖς ἐπιθεσπίσῃ,διέμεινέ τε μέχρι πολλοῦ φυλαττόμενον ὑπὸ Ῥωμαίων τὸ περὶ τοὺς οἰωνισμοὺς νόμιμον, οὐ μόνον βασιλευομένης τῆς πόλεως, ἀλλὰ καὶ μετὰ κατάλυσιν τῶν μονάρχων ἐν ὑπάτων καὶ στρατηγῶν καὶ τῶν ἄλλων τῶν κατὰ νόμους ἀρχόντων αἱρέσει. πέπαυται δ᾽ ἐν τοῖς καθ᾽ ἡμᾶς χρόνοις, πλὴν οἷον εἰκών τις αὐτοῦ λείπεται τῆς ὁσίας αὐτῆς ἕνεκα γινομένη. ἐπαυλίζονται μὲν γὰρ οἱ τὰς ἀρχὰς μέλλοντες λαμβάνειν καὶ περὶ τὸν ὄρθρον ἀνιστάμενοι ποιοῦνταί τινας εὐχὰς ὑπαίθριοι, τῶν δὲ παρόντων τινὲς ὀρνιθοσκόπων μισθὸν ἐκ τοῦ δημοσίου φερόμενοι ἀστραπὴν αὐτοῖς μηνύειν ἐκ τῶν ἀριστερῶν φασιν τὴν οὐ [3] γενομένην. οἱ δὲ τὸν ἐκ τῆς φωνῆς οἰωνὸν λαβόντες ἀπέρχονται τὰς ἀρχὰς παραληψόμενοι οἱ μὲν αὐτὸ τοῦθ᾽ ἱκανὸν ὑπολαμβάνοντες εἶναι τὸ μηδένα γενέσθαι τῶν ἐναντιουμένων τε καὶ κωλυόντων οἰωνῶν, οἱ δὲ καὶ παρὰ τὸ βούλημα τοῦ θεοῦ κωλύοντος, ἔστι γὰρ ὅτε βιαζόμενοι καὶ τὰς ἀρχὰς ἁρπάζοντες μᾶλλον ἢ λαμβάνοντες.[4] δἰ οὓς πολλαὶ μὲν ἐν γῇ στρατιαὶ Ῥωμαίων ἀπώλοντο πανώλεθροι, πολλοὶ δ᾽ ἐν θαλάττῃ στόλοι διεφθάρησαν αὔτανδροι, ἄλλαι τε μεγάλαι καὶ δειναὶ περιπέτειαι τῇ πόλει συνέπεσον αἱ μὲν ἐν ὀθνείοις πολέμοις, αἱ δὲ κατὰ τὰς ἐμφυλίους διχοστασίας, ἐμφανεστάτη δὲ καὶ μεγίστη καὶ κατὰ τὴν ἐμὴν ἡλικίαν, ὅτε Λικίννιος Κρᾶσσος ἀνὴρ οὐδενὸς δεύτερος τῶν καθ᾽ ἑαυτὸν ἡγεμόνων στρατιὰν ἦγεν ἐπὶ τὸ Πάρθων ἔθνος, ἐναντιουμένου τοῦ δαιμονίου πολλὰ χαίρειν φράσας τοῖς ἀποτρέπουσι τὴν ἔξοδον οἰωνοῖς μυρίοις ὅσοις γενομένοις. ἀλλ᾽ ὑπὲρ μὲν τῆς εἰς τὸ δαιμόνιον ὀλιγωρίας, ᾗ χρῶνταί τινες ἐν τοῖς καθ᾽ ἡμᾶς χρόνοις, πολὺ ἔργον ἂν εἴη λέγειν.                                               
And so then when Romulus did the securities of Heaven receive, he called together the people into the assembly, and, once he showed them the portents, as king was he elected by them; and he established the custom for all who come after him, lest either should anyone the kingdom nor any office take on, until also Heaven gives its own sanction upon them. Long standing was the observance by the Romans of this custom concerning the birdsigns, while not only under the kings' power was the city, but also after the overthrow of the monarchy in the elections of the Hypatoi ("The Supremes", Consuls), the Stratēgoi ("The Generals", Prætors), and all the other officers in accordance with their law. However, this has ceased in these our times, except that some sort of mere appearance of it is left for the sake of form itself. For out of doors pass the night those who are about to take up their offices, and at the break of day they rise and perform certain prayers while under the open sky. And then certain of the birdseers who are present (they are paid a stipend by the state) declare to them that a flash of lightning has appeared on the left -- even if it has not. And, taking the sign from this announcement, some depart so as to take on their offices, that is, those who assume that this sign is fitting enough, that not one sign appeared either opposing or hindering; meanwhile others act in opposition to the will of the god who hinders them. For there have been times when they are violent and seize the offices rather than receive them. Because of these doings, many armies of the Romans on land have been utterly destroyed, while many fleets on the sea have been entirely ruined, men and all. And other great and dreadful reversals of fortune have befallen the city, some in foreign wars, and others in civil dissensions. The most manifest and great downfall of my age was when Licinius Crassus, a man second to none among his fellow commanders, led an army against the nation of the Parthians, though Heaven opposed, bidding a much-to-do farewell to the manifold birdsigns which occurred in opposition to his departure. But in regards to the contempt of Heaven which some have in these times of ours it would take much effort to tell. 
              -Dionysius of Halikarnassos, Ῥωμαϊκὴ Ἀρχαιολογία, II.6.1-4. Trans. is my own.

Livy uses the occasion of a shirking of the Consular inauguration by the errant (and famously doomed) Consul C. Flaminius during the 2nd Punic War to detail the finer religious aspects of the magistrate's duties on the first day of the new year:

Consulum designatorum alter Flaminius, cui eae legiones quae Placentiae hibernabant sorte evenerant, edictum et litteras ad consulem misit ut is exercitus Idibus Martiis Arimini adesset in castris. Hic in provincia consulatum inire consilium erat memori veterum certaminum cum patribus, quae tribunus plebis et quae postea consul prius de consulatu qui abrogabatur, dein de triumpho habuerat, invisus etiam patribus ob novam legem, quam Q. Claudius tribunus plebis adversus senatum atque uno patrum adiuvante C. Flaminio tulerat, ne quis senator cuive senator pater fuisset maritimam navem, quae plus quam trecentarum amphorarum esset, haberet. Id satis habitum ad fructus ex agris vectandos; quaestus omnis patribus indecorus visus. Res per summam contentionem acta invidiam apud nobilitatem suasori legis Flaminio, favorem apud plebem alterumque inde consulatum peperit. Ob haec ratus auspiciis ementiendis Latinarumque feriarum mora et consularibus aliis impedimentis retenturos se in urbe, simulato itinere privatus clam in provinciam abiit. Ea res ubi palam facta est, novam insuper iram infestis iam ante patribus movit: non cum senatu modo sed iam cum dis immortalibus C. Flaminium bellum gerere.  Consulem ante inauspicato factum revocantibus ex ipsa acie dis atque hominibus non paruisse; nunc conscientia spretorum et Capitolium et sollemnem votorum nuncupationem fugisse, ne die initi magistratus Iovis optimi maximi templum adiret, ne senatum invisus ipse et sibi uni invisum videret consuleretque, ne Latinas indiceret Iovique Latiari sollemne sacrum in monte faceret, ne auspicato profectus in Capitolium ad vota nuncupanda, paludatus inde cum lictoribus in provinciam iret. Lixae modo sine insignibus, sine lictoribus profectum clam, furtim, haud aliter quam si exsilii causa solum vertisset. Magis pro maiestate videlicet imperii Arimini quam Romae magistratum initurum et in deversorio hospitali quam apud penates suos praetextam sumpturum. Revocandum universi retrahendumque censuerunt et cogendum omnibus prius praesentem in deos hominesque fungi officiis quam ad exercitum et in provinciam iret. In eam legationem—legatos enim mitti placuit—Q. Terentius et M. Antistius profecti nihilo magis eum moverunt quam priore consulatu litterae moverant ab senatu missae. Paucos post dies magistratum iniit, immolantique ei vitulus iam ictus e manibus sacrificantium sese cum proripuisset, multos circumstantes cruore respersit; fuga procul etiam maior apud ignaros quid trepidaretur et concursatio fuit. Id a plerisque in omen magni terroris acceptum. Legionibus inde duabus a Sempronio prioris anni consule, duabus a C. Atilio praetore acceptis Etruriam per Appennini tramites exercitus duci est coeptus.

Of the Consuls-elect, the one, Flaminius, to whom those legions which were at Placentia wintering had by lot fallen, did a decree and a letter send to the acting Consul that the army on the Ides of March be present at camp at Ariminium. It was here in the province that he planned to embark on his Consulship, for he was mindful of his old rivalries with the state fathers, quarrels while he was People's Tribune and afterwards while he was Consul, the election of which was annulled, and then concerning his triumph. He was also looked upon with ill-will by the state fathers because of that new law which Quintus Claudius, People's Tribune, had against the Senate passed with Flaminius being the only one of the state fathers who had aided in this endeavor: the law stated that no senator or no one whose father had been a senator could possess a sail-able vessel which might carry more than three hundred amphoraeSuch a thing was considered enough for the purpose of conveying their goods from their farmlands -- all such gain was seen as unworthy of the state fathers. The bill, passed with the highest opposition, secured an ill will among the nobility for the bill's supporter, Flaminius, while finding him favor among the commons and thence another Consulship. On account of these goings-on, the man reckoned that by means of lying birdsigns, by means of a delay of the Latin Feast, and finally by means of other hindrances which dog a Consul, they would keep him held back in the City; and so, with a journey feigned, as a private citizen did he in secret for the province depart. When the matter was known publicly, a new anger, above and beyond what it was before, did move within the incensed state fathers -- for not only with the Senate, but now with the gods immortal was Gaius Flaminius waging war. Saieth the Senate: that when beforehand he had been made Consul against the auspices, he did not obey the gods and men recalling him from the very line of battle itself. Now, conscious of these wrongs, he had from the Capitoline and the solemn recital of his vows fled, so that, on the day of the start of his term of office, he would not mount the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus; nor would he, hated as he was by the Senate, see and consult with that body, which in turn was hated by him alone of all others; nor would he the Latin Feast proclaim; nor would he make the solemn sacrifice to Jove the Latin on the Alban Hill; nor would he in accordance with the auspices set out to the Capitoline to recite his vows, and thence, clothed in a paludamentum, would he set out for his province. In the manner of a sutler had he without his trappings of office, without his lictors made his departure -- secretly, like a thief, no differently than if the charge of exile had sent him from his native soil. Forsooth, saieth the Senate, that it was for the greater good of the power of the office that he should rather at Ariminium than at Rome enter into his term of office; that he should in some wayside inn rather than in the presence of his household gods clothe himself in his toga praetexta. That he must be recalled and dragged back, the Senatorial body as a whole deemed it fitting, and that he, in the presence of gods and men, be forced to discharge all his duties rather than to his army and his province go. Having embarked on that embassage -- for it did please the Senate that envoys be sent -- Quintus Terentius and Marcus Antistius no more moved him than that letter concerning his prior Consulship which had been by the Senate sent. A few days later, Flaminius entered into his term of office, and while making a sacrifice of a bull calf, the animal, when struck, did from the hands of the priests conducting the rites tear itself forth, and the many who stood around it did with gore bespatter. The animal's flight was greater amongst those who, at a distance, did not know what was the commotion was and so a restlessness grew. This was by many accepted to be an omen of great dread. And thence, with the two legions received from Sempronius, the Consul of the previous year, and the two from Gaius Atilius, the Praetor, throughout the footpaths of the Apennines was the army begun to be led. 
                                                             -Livy, Ab Urbe Condita XXI.63. Trans is my own.
Flaminius, of course, met a most inglorious end after leading his army through those Apennine footpaths to the coast of Lake Trasimene, and offered himself upon the altar of History as an exemplar of the missteps an incoming Consul must never take. 


 Joseph-Noël Sylvestre, Ducarius Beheads Flaminius at the Battle of Lake Trasimene - 1882, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Béziers

In the above selection, Livy cleverly places a rough sketch of the important ceremonies which mark a Consul's inauguration in the mouth of an indignant Senate, thus emphasizing to us the import and weight the Romans gave these rites. 
To summarize, on January 1st the Roman Consuls-elect rose at dawn and took the auspices by scanning the sky for signs of lightning (ex caelo). It is important to point out Dionysius' remark that this was known to be a mere formality by his day (mid-1st century B.C.) and the auspicious report was often falsely told to the Consul ("μηνύειν ἐκ τῶν ἀριστερῶν φασιν τὴν οὐ γενομένην") presumably in order to carry on with the ceremonies; though Cicero's cynical and dissembling of auguries and other divinations are in alignment with Dionysius' observation of the ever-growing faithlessness in divining, we should assume that in Rome's earliest days, belief in the taking of the auspices was surely held with the utmost faith. In fact, while Dionysius reports that augurs are present (and paid a stipend by the state), other authors report that it was the Consuls themselves who took the auguries. After receiving Jove's blessing, the Consuls then returned to their homes where they were clothed in their togae praetextae ("purple-bordered toga") in the presence of their household gods ("apud penates suos praetextam sumpturum"). Once dressed appropriately, either Consul received his clientes and fellow senators in a usual salutatio ("morning greeting"), and at the conclusion of this, he then climbed the Capitoline Hill, recited the solemn vows, and made a sacrifice of white bull calves at the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus ("Jove the Father the Best the Greatest") ("et Capitolium et sollemnem votorum nuncupationem fugisse, ne die initi magistratus Iovis optimi maximi templum adiret")

The historian Cassius Dio, a 2nd century A.D. Roman statemen of Greek extraction, records the disastrous portents observed and recorded at the salutatio and procession of Aelius Sejanus, the much-maligned prefect minister of the emperor Tiberius in the early 1st century A.D:
ἐν δέ τινι νουμηνίᾳ πάντων συνιόντων ἐς τὴν οἰκίαν τοῦ Σεϊανοῦ ἥ τε κλίνη ἡ ἐν τῷ δωματίῳ, ἐν ᾧ ἠσπάζετο, κειμένη πᾶσα ὑπὸ τοῦ ὄχλου τῶν ἱζησάντων συνετρίβη, καὶ προϊόντος αὐτοῦ ἐκ τῆς οἰκίας γαλῆ διὰ μέσων σφων διῇξεν. ἐπειδή τε καὶ ἐν τῷ Καπιτωλίῳ θύσας ἐς τὴν ἀγορὰν κατῄει, οἱ οἰκέται αὐτοῦ οἱ δορυφόροι διά τε τῆς ὁδοῦ τῆς ἐς τὸ δεσμωτήριον ἀγούσης ἐξετράποντο, μὴ δυνηθέντες αὐτῷ ὑπὸ τοῦ ὄχλου ἐπακολουθῆσαι, καὶ κατὰ τῶν ἀναβασμῶν καθ᾽ ὧν οἱ δικαιούμενοι ἐρριπτοῦντο κατιόντες ὤλισθον καὶ κατέπεσον. οἰωνιζομένου τε μετὰ τοῦτο αὐτοῦ τῶν μὲν αἰσίων ὀρνίθων ἐπεφάνη οὐδείς, κόρακες δὲ δὴ πολλοὶ περιιπτάμενοι καὶ περικρώξαντες αὐτὸν ἀπέπταντο ἀθρόοι πρὸς τὸ οἴκημα καὶ ὑπὲρ αὐτοῦ ἐκαθέζοντο.
τούτων οὖν τῶν τεράτων οὔθ᾽ ὁ Σεϊανὸς οὔτ᾽ ἄλλος τις ἐνθύμιον ἐποιήσατο: πρὸς γὰρ τὴν τῶν παρόντων ὄψιν οὐδ᾽ ἂν εἰ σαφῶς θεός τις προέλεγεν ὅτι τοσαύτη δι᾽ ὀλίγου μεταβολή γενήσοιτο, ἐπίστευσεν ἄν τις. 
And on some New Year's Day, when all were present at the home of Sejanus, the couch which was in the atrium, on which the Consul sat, wholly shattered under the crowd of the seated; and when the man himself was leaving the house, a stoat through the midst of them darted. And even when once on the Capitoline he had made the sacrifices and into the Forum descended, his household slaves who were his spear-bearers did along the road leading to the prison turn aside, for not were they able to follow him due to the crowd, and down the steps, down which those who are condemned are thrown, they downward slipped and fell. And after this, while he was taking the birdsigns, no signs of favor appeared, and crows, many of them, having flown about him and cawed at him, flew off in a mass towards the jail and upon it perched.
And so, of these signs neither Sejanus nor anyone else made any note. For in regards to the appearance of things, not even if some saving god foretold that such a change in a short time would occur, none would have trusted it. 

                                       -Cassius Dio Ῥωμαϊκὴ Ἱστορία LVIII.5.5-6.2. Trans. is my own.

Of course Sejanus made no note of such ill omens: the man was surely doomed.

When the sacrifices on the Capitoline were accomplished favorably, the Consuls then proceeded to the Senate where they embarked upon their official duties: first, the naming of the year's important religious feast days and festivals, most importantly the Feriae Latinae ("the Latin Feast"). Before departing the city to go into his province, the Consul had to make a propitiary sacrifice to Jupiter Latiar at the Alban Mount (modern-day Monte Cavo, some twelve miles southeast of Rome) ("ne Latinas indiceret Iovique Latiari sollemne sacrum in monte faceret"). With the religious aspects of the year discussed and confirmed, the Consuls then outlined other administrative affairs (the allotting of provinces and other duties, &c.) until they finished their business, and then, having ended the first Senate meeting of their term, completed their official first day. 

One should take note that in each of these instances given above in which an author describes a Consular inauguration, he cannot help himself but relate (either in detail or obliquely) how either neglecting outright or somehow ignoring the auspices had dire consequences for the Consul and the state. This should illustrate to us the the prevailing widespread belief in the truth and accuracy of these divinings. However, this cultural observation must not be taken to mean that the business of augury had no critics nor dissenters among the antique Romans. As it has been mentioned before, Cicero, a member of the college of augurs himself, famously spends the duration of the second book of his treatise on divination, De Divinatione (On Divination), on tearing down the entire business of augury. It may be surprising to learn (but it should not be so) that while Cicero concludes that augury and the taking of auspices is altogether nonsense and chicanery, it is important and necessary that such rites and practices continue to be performed in order to maintain oligarchical control over the Republic:


"[Cicero] himself was an augur, and in his book On the Republic had written in favour of the maintenance of the rites of augury and of auspices. But these practices were engrafted on the Roman constitution and he advocated their observance because of his belief  in obedience to law and because, as a member of the aristocratic party, he thought augury and auspices the best means of controlling the excesses of democracy."
                                                       -W. A. Falconer, Loeb introduction to De Divinatione 

Despite revealing his personal beliefs concerning divination, such reservations did not stop the famous orator from publicly placing the fault of the Catilinarian Conspiracy which occurred during his own Consulship of 63 B.C. to lack of godly appeasement by the Roman People:


The Inauguration of the American President

The official photos of the crowd size attending two American Presidential Inauguration ceremonies shown side-by-side. One can clearly see that the crowd gathered at President Barack Obama's first inauguration in January of 2009 (left) is larger than the other inauguration (right).

On January 20th of the start of a new presidential term, the President-elect (who was elected some seventy days earlier on the first Tuesday following November 1st) is administered the oath of office, thus beginning a four-year term. The only constitutionally-required component of the inauguration is the administering of the oath of office, which may be given by anyone, anywhere, and witnessed by anyone legally able to be a witness -- for instance, the oath was once given on a grounded Air Force One to Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson immediately following the assassination of John F. Kennedy earlier the same day. Additionally, Vice President Calvin Coolidge was at his family home in 1923 when he received word via messenger that President Warren G. Harding had unexpectedly died while visiting San Francisco; early the next morning (around 3:00 AM), Coolidge was administered the oath of office by his father, a notary and justice of the peace, in the family parlor -- the 30th President then returned to bed. Besides these (and a few other occasions) the oath is usually administered by the Chief Justice of the United States of America.

Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson is administered the oath of office by Sarah T. Hughes, a district judge, thus making him the 36th President of the United States of America. 

Beside the oath, the rest of the ceremony is marked more by tradition than anything else: the President-Elect typically visits the White House to proceed to the inaugural grounds (usually the Capitol) with the incumbent President. Once the oath is administered at the inauguration ceremony, the newly sworn in President typically gives a speech (called the inaugural address) and then proceeds in a parade from the Capitol to the White House down Pennsylvania Avenue. President Jimmy Carter, in an effort to throw off the trappings of an "imperial presidency", was the first to walk the distance in 1977, and has been matched in spirit (if not in the full distance of approximately one mile) by each successive President since.

39th President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalyn Carter, walk down Pennsylvania Avenue following the inauguration ceremony.




1. Another proposed etymology is a derivation from the verb augeo - "to increase" and by further extrapolation to mean "favorable".
_______________________________________________

Monday, December 5, 2016

Yes, Greek Accents Matter


In 408 BC, the Grecian tragic actor Hegelokhos misspoke while playing the eponymous protagonist during the premier performance of Euripides' Orestes, and caused something of a stir which would be remembered for years afterwards by the Athenians and for millenia by classicists as a cautionary tale told to Greek students to watch their pronunciation.

Line 279 of the tragedy runs as: "Ἐκ κυμάτων γὰρ αὖθις αὖ γαλήν' ὁρῶ. - For out of the storms I again a stillness see," and the poor actor ran out of breath and incorrectly pronounced the accent of the word "calm" (γαλήν', elided from its full form γαληνά) as a circumflex closing the final syllable instead of an acute preceding the missing final syllable, so that it sounded as though he said "weasel, stoat, polecat" (γαλῆν, from γαλῆ): "For out of the storms I again a stoat do see."

The Athenians, who were rather touchy about their tragedy, laughed, booed, and hissed, thus turning a rather innocuous and throw-away line from Euripides into a font of comedic lampooning.
Contemporary comic playwrights included references to seeing storms and stoats for years to come, such as when Dionysos' clever companion Xanthias attempts to cheer up the unhappy god bewailing his fate in Aristophanes' comedy, Frogs:
Ξανθίας
θάρρει: πάντ᾽ ἀγαθὰ πεπράγαμεν,
            Cheer up! Everything we have done is right!
ἔξεστί θ᾽ ὥσπερ Ἡγέλοχος ἡμῖν λέγειν,
            And, just like Hegelokhos, we can say:
‘ἐκ κυμάτων γὰρ αὖθις αὖ γαλῆν ὁρῶ.’
            "For out of storms I again a stoat do see!"
                                                   -Aristophanes, Frogs 302-304. Trans is my own.
Xanthias is pronouncing the misspoken line as if it were a gnomic saying, a proverb, or wise words of comfort. 

A lost comedy (fragments survive) of the playwright Strattis contains this gem:
A. γαλῆν᾿ ὁρῶ.
           Speaker A: I see a stoat!
Β.
ποῖ, πρὸς θεῶν, ποῖ ποῖ γαλῆν;
           Speaker B: Where? By the gods, where is the stoat?
Α.
γαληνά.
           Speaker A: No, "stillness".
Β.
ἐγὼ δ᾿ ᾤμην σε “γαλῆν” λέγειν “ὁρῶ.”
           Speaker B: Huh, I thought you said, "I see a stoat!" 
                                                   -Strattis Fragment 63. Trans. is my own.
So yes, "those marky thingies above those weird Greek letters" actually matter, and elided syllables were not completely lost and left un-pronounced by native speakers of the Classical Age.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Project Gutenberg Nodded Off

"Even Homer nods off."
-Dryden butchering Horace ("indignor quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus". Horace, Ars Poetica II.259)

Let lectores inscribe this lesson in the forefront of their minds.

There are bound to be mistakes in even the most hallowed of masterpieces and often those errors become endearing bits of trivia. Some of these mistakes, however, can be chalked to manuscript "oopsies" which can cause both delight and consternation.
That said, given how grand an achievement Sir William Stewart Rose's translation of the Italian epic Orlando Furioso is, the work is bound to possess several cute little authorial idiosyncrasies of its own, as well as editor errors. For example, the nerds at my school's Epic Poetry Recital Club cried foul when they were reading Rose and found that stanza VII of canto 13 is short a line.
While whining indignantly about being told that the poem is written in ottava rime and ottava means eight, the students counted out the seven lines:

“When him I after in the field espied,
Performing wondrous feats of chivalry,
I was surprised by Love, ere I descried
That freedom in my Love, so rash a guide,
I lay this unction to my phantasy,
That no unseemly place my heart possest,
Fixed on the worthiest in the world and best.
                                               -Rose 13.VII

Sure enough; the boys were right. The text as written on Sacred Texts has only seven lines. We then checked Project Gutenberg's edition and found, indeed, only seven lines. The University of Adelaide follows suit.


We then went to the original Italian, which reads as such:

"Il qual poi che far pruove in campo vidi
miracolose di cavalleria,
fui presa del suo amore; e non m'avidi,
ch'io mi conobbi più non esser mia.
E pur, ben che 'l suo amor così mi guidi,
mi giova sempre avere in fantasia
ch'io non misi il mio core in luogo immondo,
ma nel più degno e bel ch'oggi sia al mondo."
                                               -Ariosto 13.VII
There's that line missing from Rose's translation: "ch'io mi conobbi più non esser mia". It seems Ariosto's ottava rime is just fine; did you punt this, Rose?

It turns out, no: the problem, it seems, lies with Project Gutenberg, which incorrectly copied their edition, and so all successive editions which follow their version have retained the error. 
Archive.org (pg. 214) has the correct text:

“When him I after in the field espied,
Performing wondrous feats of chivalry,
I was surprised by Love, ere I descried
That freedom was forever lost to me
Yet, following
in my Love, so rash a guide,

I lay this unction to my phantasy,
That no unseemly place my heart possest,
Fixed on the worthiest in the world and best.
                                                  -Rose 13.VII

Here we can observe the viral and destructive path the misprint wreaks, tainting each successive copy, "corruption breeding corruption" (to quote Tom Stoppard). Let us always be watchful and constantly check our primary sources. 
This is why we read works in their original languages.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Vergil's Lucretian Tartarus: The Scope of The Aeneid's Moralizing Sinners


Tartarus as described by Vergil in the sixth book of The Æneid is in some respects more indebted to the Poet's Roman poetic forebearer Lucretius, than the epic's ostensible model, Homer. Though Homerisms abound in Vergil's text1, this is because of the former poet's primacy on the subject and the simple fact that he is highly emulated by all subsequent writers -- the devil lies in the differences between the authorships, as these differences highlight the individual touches each author has added to Graeco-Roman afterlife lore. In respect to this essay, it is shown that Vergil's depictions of the great Graeco- Roman sinners and their punishments are more in line with the moralizing admonishments which exemplify Lucretius' Epicurean masterpiece, De Rerum Natura, than Homer's Odyssey; further, by a textual comparison of these works, we may further speculate with greater evidence Vergil's method and scope in writing book six of The Æneid and his reasons for adapting a didactic angle in writing this episode. 

Firstly, we must point out the similarities between Vergil and Homer, the epic poet who established the blueprint of the Graeco-Roman Underworld myth. In book eleven of his Odyssey, the wandering hero Odysseus travels to the Land of the Dead via a "gust of a North Wind" in order to gain the information to return home after his near-twenty year absence from Ithaka. Once beached on the shore, Odysseus and his men travel a ways to the juncture of the Pyriphelegethon and Kokytos rivers where he is to make a propitiatory blood sacrifice for the dead to speak their peace. After obtaining the knowledge which he desires (this part of the episode is moved to the end of book six of The Æneid and forms the centerpiece of that book), Odysseus sees the shades of many, some of whom, like "Phaidra, Pokyris, and Aridane", Vergil also names; and then either man encounters the shade of someone hostile to them (Odysseus is shunned by Aias and Æneas by Dido); and finally, after both of them encounter the judge Minos, the heroes respectively see the wicked dead being punished in the bowels of Tartarus.
It is within these descriptions of the great Tartarean sinners where most of our attention must focus:

ἔνθ᾽ ἦ τοι Μίνωα ἴδον, Διὸς ἀγλαὸν υἱόν,
               Here yea I did Minos see, Zeus' shining son
χρύσεον σκῆπτρον ἔχοντα, θεμιστεύοντα νέκυσσιν,
               A gold scepter he bore, giving out laws for the dead
ἥμενον, οἱ δέ μιν ἀμφὶ δίκας εἴροντο ἄνακτα,         570
               As he sat there, and around him they asked for judgments of their lord
ἥμενοι ἑσταότες τε κατ᾽ εὐρυπυλὲς Ἄϊδος δῶ.
               As they sat or stood about the wide-gated house of Aïdēs.
τὸν δὲ μετ᾽ Ὠρίωνα πελώριον εἰσενόησα
               And after him Orion the mighty I caught sight,
θῆρας ὁμοῦ εἰλεῦντα κατ᾽ ἀσφοδελὸν λειμῶνα,
               Who together his beasts he corralled around the Asphodel Meadows,
τοὺς αὐτὸς κατέπεφνεν ἐν οἰοπόλοισιν ὄρεσσι
               Those which he slew in the lonely mountains,
χερσὶν ἔχων ῥόπαλον παγχάλκεον, αἰὲν ἀαγές.        575
               In his hands he held a bronze-shod war-mace, ever unbroken.
καὶ Τιτυὸν εἶδον, Γαίης ἐρικυδέος υἱόν
               And Tityos I saw, Gaia's so renowned son
κείμενον ἐν δαπέδῳ: ὁ δ᾽ ἐπ᾽ ἐννέα κεῖτο πέλεθρα,
               Lying on the plain. He upon nine plethra lay,
γῦπε δέ μιν ἑκάτερθε παρημένω ἧπαρ ἔκειρον,
               And twin vultures on either side his liver greedily devoured.
δέρτρον ἔσω δύνοντες, ὁ δ᾽ οὐκ ἀπαμύνετο χερσί:
               Deep into his bowels they plunged, but not did he ward them off with his hands.
Λητὼ γὰρ ἕλκησε, Διὸς κυδρὴν παράκοιτιν,           580
               For Lētō he had raped, Zeus' lust-inspiring wife,
Πυθώδ᾽ ἐρχομένην διὰ καλλιχόρου Πανοπῆος.
               As Pytho-ward she went through lovely-lawned Panopēus.
καὶ μὴν Τάνταλον εἰσεῖδον κρατέρ᾽ ἄλγε᾽ ἔχοντα
               And then Tantalos I saw nursing mighty pains
ἑστεῶτ᾽ ἐν λίμνῃ: ἡ δὲ προσέπλαζε γενείῳ:
               As he stood in a pool of water, which came up to his chin.
στεῦτο δὲ διψάων, πιέειν δ᾽ οὐκ εἶχεν ἑλέσθαι:
               He seemed to thirst, but to drink he was not able,
ὁσσάκι γὰρ κύψει᾽ ὁ γέρων πιέειν μενεαίνων,      585
               For as often as stooped the old man desiring earnestly to drink,
τοσσάχ᾽ ὕδωρ ἀπολέσκετ᾽ ἀναβροχέν, ἀμφὶ δὲ ποσσὶ
               That the water was dried up, gulped away, and about his feet
γαῖα μέλαινα φάνεσκε, καταζήνασκε δὲ δαίμων.
               The black earth appeared, which some god then made dry.
δένδρεα δ᾽ ὑψιπέτηλα κατὰ κρῆθεν χέε καρπόν,
               And trees with high foliage above his head poured out fruit:
ὄγχναι καὶ ῥοιαὶ καὶ μηλέαι ἀγλαόκαρποι
               Pears and mulberry and apples, beauty borne fruit,
συκέαι τε γλυκεραὶ καὶ ἐλαῖαι τηλεθόωσαι:         590
               And sweet figs and olives fine-flourishing.
τῶν ὁπότ᾽ ἰθύσει᾽ ὁ γέρων ἐπὶ χερσὶ μάσασθαι,
               Whenever these the old man pressed to grasp in his hands,
τὰς δ᾽ ἄνεμος ῥίπτασκε ποτὶ νέφεα σκιόεντα.
               Then these the wind hurled to the dark clouds.
καὶ μὴν Σίσυφον εἰσεῖδον κρατέρ᾽ ἄλγε᾽ ἔχοντα
               And then Sisyphos I saw nursing might pains
λᾶαν βαστάζοντα πελώριον ἀμφοτέρῃσιν.
               A stone he was raising -- mighty indeed! -- in his two hands.
ἦ τοι ὁ μὲν σκηριπτόμενος χερσίν τε ποσίν τε      595
               And yea, supporting with both hands and feet
λᾶαν ἄνω ὤθεσκε ποτὶ λόφον: ἀλλ᾽ ὅτε μέλλοι
               The stone, up he thrust it to the crest of the hill -- but whenever he was about
ἄκρον ὑπερβαλέειν, τότ᾽ ἀποστρέψασκε κραταιίς:
               To throw it high o'er the top, its mighty weighty turned about,
αὖτις ἔπειτα πέδονδε κυλίνδετο λᾶας ἀναιδής.
               And again plain-ward rolled the ruthless stone.
αὐτὰρ ὅ γ᾽ ἂψ ὤσασκε τιταινόμενος, κατὰ δ᾽ ἱδρὼς
               But the man yet upwards pushes, and down him the sweat
ἔρρεεν ἐκ μελέων, κονίη δ᾽ ἐκ κρατὸς ὀρώρει.        600
               Ran from his limbs, and the dust from his head arose.


-Homer, The Odyssey Λ; 568-600

First of all, Homer's Land of the Dead is a navigable island upon which a sailor with the right direction may find himself beached. Furthermore, this island feels rather boundless and has a freer range for the Homeric dead to wander -- the poet has little of the cut-and-dry compartmentalization in which Vergil seems to delight where each sinner occupies a zone or region of the dread pit according to the great sins they did while alive. Apart from Homer's mention of a home of Aïdēs (which only vaguely refers to a "wide-gated" [εὐρυπυλὲς] physical structure in which shades may sit or stand about), few -- if any -- buildings stand. The dead spend their time wandering about a gloomy landscape, while the truly great sinners (Tityos, Tantalos, and Sisyphos) are punished for their crimes in deeper darkness. Interestingly, apart from Tityos, Homer is quiet on the crimes of the other two criminals -- in regards to Tantalos and Sisyphos, their punishments are the emphatic element upon which Homer centers his attention.

Vergil's sinners also lie deep in the pit of Tartarus. Before reaching this region, Vergil's hero Æneas and the Cumaean Sibyl, his guide, have passed "through the empty homes of Dis and the empty kingdoms there". It is here we must credit Vergil with attempting to lay out a planned urban space for the afterlife, where structures stand as homes for monsters and stables for beasts, and zones are made and kept for the proper categorizing of the dead and damned based upon their actions in life:

Quinquaginta atris immanis hiatibus Hydra
                With fifty black hissing mouths enormous stands a Hydra,
saevior intus habet sedem. Tum Tartarus ipse
                A far savage beast holding his lair within. Then Tartarus itself came into view,
bis patet in praeceps tantum tenditque sub umbras,
                Twice as much doth it lie open downlong and stretcheth it to the shades below,
quantus ad aetherium caeli suspectus Olympum.
                Than as one may look upwards to heaven, up to airy Olympus.
Hic genus antiquum Terrae, Titania pubes,            580
                Down here be that ancient race of the Earth, the Titanic children,
fulmine deiecti fundo volvuntur in imo.
                 By lightning cast down and and fell to groveling in the deepest depths.

“Hic et Aloidas geminos immania vidi
                 "And here the sons of Aloeüs, the twins, their enormous bodies I saw
corpora, qui manibus magnum rescindere caelum
                  Who with their hands to tear asunder great heaven
adgressi, superisque Iovem detrudere regnis.
                  They did vie, and from the realms above to cast down Jove.
Vidi et crudeles dantem Salmonea poenas,        585
                  And I saw him receiving cruel torments, yea Salmoneus,
dum flammas Iovis et sonitus imitatur Olympi.
                  Who the fire of Jove and the thunderbolt of Olympus did counterfeit.
Quattuor hic invectus equis et lampada quassans
                  Carried was he by four steeds, and torches he brandished,
per Graium populos mediaeque per Elidis urbem
                  For throughout the peoples of Greece, and through the midst of the city Elis
ibat ovans, divomque sibi poscebat honorem,—
                  He went in triumph, and for himself he demanded a god's honor --
demens, qui nimbos et non imitabile fulmen        590
                  O madman! For the stormclouds and the fire which is unable to be tamed by men
aere et cornipedum pulsu simularet equorum.
                  He did pretend to wield with brazen wheel and thunder of hoof-sounding horses.
At pater omnipotens densa inter nubila telum
                  But the Father Almighty from betwixt the thick clouds he his weapon
contorsit, non ille faces nec fumea taedis
                  Hurled -- no torch that, nor smoky light given off by mere burning pine --
lumina, praecipitemque immani turbine adegit.
                  And the pretender headfirst into an enormous whirlwind of fire the god drove.
Nec non et Tityon, Terrae omniparentis alumnum,        595
                  And how was it possible to not see Tityos, son of Earth, the parent of all,
cernere erat, per tota novem cui iubera corpus
                  Who across an entire nine acres is his body
porrigitur, rostroque immanis voltur obunco
                  Stretched out, and with a hooked beak an enormous vulture
immortale iecur tondens fecundaque poenis
                  Doth his everlasting liver shear and as a punishment peck at his fertile
viscera, rimaturque epulis, habitatque sub alto
                  Guts, and tear them as a feast; and nests the bird deep within
pectore, nec fibris requies datur ulla renatis.          600
                  His breast, so no respite is given to the regenerated flesh.
Quid memorem Lapithas, Ixiona Pirithoumque?
                  Oh, why should I recall the Lapiths, Ixion and Pirithoüs,
quos super atra silex iam iam lapsura cadentique
                  Whom above each a hard flint rock is close, oh so close to slipping,
imminet adsimilis; lucent genialibus altis
                  And hangs o'erhead as if falling. Shining below the high jovial couches 
aurea fulcra toris, epulaeque ante ora paratae
                  Are the golden chair legs, and feasts before their eyes are prepared
regifico luxu; Furiarum maxima iuxta            605
                  In royal opulence -- but the eldest of the Furies together
accubat, et manibus prohibet contingere mensas,
                  With them sits, and their reaching hands she keeps from touching dishes,
exsurgitque facem attollens, atque intonat ore.
                   And up she rises, brandishing a torch, and screams she from her mouth.
“Hic, quibus invisi fratres, dum vita manebat,
                   Here are those who hated their brothers while they remained alive,
pulsatusve parens, et fraus innexa clienti,
                   Or who struck their parent, or wove deceit into a beholden man,
aut qui divitiis soli incubuere repertis,           610
                   Or who miserly laid down upon hoarded wealth,
nec partem posuere suis (quae maxima turba est),
                   And never set apart a part for kin -- for this is the greatest lot of them --
quique ob adulterium caesi, quique arma secuti
                   And those who on account of adultery were slain, and those who took up
impia nec veriti dominorum fallere dextras,
                   Arms unlawful and those who n'er feared to deceive their masters' hands --
inclusi poenam exspectant. Ne quaere doceri
                   All hemmed in, their punishment they await. Oh, seek not to be taught
quam poenam, aut quae forma viros fortunave mersit.         615
                   What punishment, either what shape or lot hath whelmed these men.
Saxum ingens volvunt alii, radiisque rotarum
                   Huge rocks some roll, and others on the spokes of wheels
districti pendent; sedet, aeternumque sedebit,
                   Drawn taut they hang. There he sits, and for all time shall sit,
infelix Theseus; Phlegyasque miserrimus omnis
                   Unhappy Thēseus, and Phlegyas, a most utterly wretched man
admonet, et magna testatur voce per umbras:
                   Cries to pay heed, and in a loud voice he bears witness before the shades:

“Discite iustitiam moniti, et non temnere divos.”          620
                  "Learn ye justice -- ye are warned! And scorn ye not the gods!"

Vendidit hic auro patriam, dominumque potentem
                  This man here hath sold for gold his father's land and set a powerful lord
imposuit; fixit leges pretio atque refixit;
                  Thereon; he passed laws for a price, and also tore them down.
hic thalamum invasit natae vetitosque hymenaeos;
                  This man here broke into the bed of his daughter and made a forbidden marriage.
ausi omnes immane nefas, ausoque potiti.
                  Dare did them all to commit grave blasphemy, and so have all payed the dare.
Non, mihi si linguae centum sint oraque centum,        625
                  Not if in me there were tongues a hundred, and mouths a hundred,
ferrea vox, omnis scelerum comprendere formas,
                  And an iron voice, would I be able to all the shapes of wickedness remember,
omnia poenarum percurrere nomina possim.”
                  And touch on all the names of all their punishments."


-Vergil, The Æneid VI; 568-600

Firstly, look at the size of the selection! How much more expanded and detailed is Vergil's catalogue of sinner than Homer's; yet, apart from the main "stars" of the Tartarus scene, Vergil suggests details rather than describes. Homer's punishments are vivid and striking: see the vultures plunge into Tityos' side; see Tantalos grasping for drying water and withering fruit; see Sisphyos struggling, the sweat and dust on his forehead. Salmoneus, a character mentioned in passing in Homer, makes a much more impressive and expanded appearance in The Æneid. In Vergil, the Tityos selection is decidedly more ghastly than in The Odyssey's -- Vergil has the offending bird make a nest in the giant's pecked-out breast while ripping out his ever-renewing guts2! Vergil has no Tantalos here, but Ixion and Perithoüs instead, who have been given Tantalos' punishment, albeit from a version different than Homer's; additionally, Vergil has added the Fury guardian to his story. The Sisyphos punishment (along with Ixion's more common torture) is relegated to an exemplar of deeds so bad, the poet bids you not ask further concerning what consequences they merit. And beyond these, the punishments are vague, mere suggestions -- the poet even goes so far as to invoke every parent's tried-and-true warning to the unruly child, "you don't even want to know how I'll punish you, but it'll be bad!" Despite the effort put into telling Salmoneus' tale, Vergil does not even tell the reader what torment awaits him; and if the Fury is watching over Ixion, Perithoüs, and the others at the sinners' feast, then what use are the overhanging rocks? Or, vice versa, what is the use of the Fury if the rocks are hanging over the sinners' heads? The celebrated and memorable contraposto of Dante's L'Inferno is not yet entirely fleshed out in The Æneid. In sum, Vergil is vivid on details of the punishments when emulating threads of Homer's narrative, as this is the aspect of the sinners' on which Homer centers his attention; otherwise, the Poet alters his style and scope of his verse -- Vergil is no longer merely telling a story. For whereas Homer uses the sinners' tales and torments to tell stories and weave a good tale, Vergil not only adopts the Greek poet's writings -- albeit expanded and modified for his Roman audience -- but he also uses different narrative threads to moralize and teach his audience what is considered wicked and punishable behavior. It's effective too: the horrors Vergil describes center on the crime committed or wrong done and less on the punishment; we know enough, however, to know what awaits a wicked person in the afterlife is bad. "Learn ye justice -- ye are warned! And scorn ye not the gods!" yells Phlegyas to the unwary; whoever does not heed his advice could end up just like him.

What reason is there for the shift in the narrative's treatment and the changes in the sinners' descriptions as Vergil adapted the story from Homer's Odyssey? Betwixt the two authors stand another Roman writer, an Epicurean philosopher-poet named T. Lucretius Carus (c. 99 - c. 55 B.C.), the author of De Rerum Natura. In this immensely important work of Epicurean philosophy composed in dactylic hexameter, Lucretius outlines the tenets of Epicurus' thinkings and teachings in epic poem format. His verses inspired many phrases and descriptions in Vergil who clearly read his poetry and liked it enough to emulate some Lucretian phrases. In the third book of De Rerum Natura, Lucretius takes a look at the afterlife and Tartarus, and then offers an atheistic and pointed disassembling of some of the dark place's more fanciful stories:


Nec quisquam in baratrum nec Tartara deditur atra;
                     And not is anyone into the abyss consigned, nor into Tartarus the black.
materies opus est, ut crescant postera saecla;
                     Matter must needs exist, so that grow may the following ages.
quae tamen omnia te vita perfuncta sequentur;
                     Nevertheless, all such things shall from thee flow, when once thy life is snuffed.
nec minus ergo ante haec quam tu cecidere cadentque.
                     No less so has everything existing before thee likewise fallen and shall fall.
sic alid ex alio numquam desistet oriri
                     And thus shall one thing from another never cease to rise,
vitaque mancipio nulli datur, omnibus usu.
                     And life is granted as property to none, but for all to use.
respice item quam nil ad nos ante acta vetustas
                     Look back again how nothing it was that before us old was already the age
temporis aeterni fuerit, quam nascimur ante.
                     Of everlasting time, how old an age which hath before our birth existed.
hoc igitur speculum nobis natura futuri
                     Therefore, a reflection of this shall to us Nature show, an image
temporis exponit post mortem denique nostram.
                     Of future time, a time after the death, finally, of us.
numquid ibi horribile apparet, num triste videtur
                     Nothing there horrible appears -- surely not sad can it seem
quicquam, non omni somno securius exstat?
                     At all to be, for is death not more safe than any other sleep?

Atque ea ni mirum quae cumque Acherunte profundo
                     And so, let us not wonder about each of these torments in Acheron the deep,
prodita sunt esse, in vita sunt omnia nobis.
                     Tales which have been told -- they are now in our life here with us:
nec miser inpendens magnum timet aëre saxum
                     And not is there a wretch afraid of a great stone in the air o'erhanging his head --
Tantalus, ut famast, cassa formidine torpens;
                     No Tantalus, as it has been put around, suffering empty terror!
sed magis in vita divom metus urget inanis
                     But rather in our life the fear of the gods drives us -- an empty fear.
mortalis casumque timent quem cuique ferat fors.
                     Each mortal fears his fall which to him Fate shall bear.

nec Tityon volucres ineunt Acherunte iacentem
                     And not do vultures on Tityos feast as he lies in Acheron,
nec quod sub magno scrutentur pectore quicquam
                     Nor shall anything at all they find while probing his great breast,
perpetuam aetatem possunt reperire profecto.
                     Nor for an endless age are they able to find anything, anything at all.
quam libet immani proiectu corporis exstet,
                     However vast be his body lying spread out on the ground,
qui non sola novem dispessis iugera membris
                     If not just nine acres under his outstretched limbs
optineat, sed qui terrai totius orbem,
                     He hath, but the whole of the globe of the earth,
non tamen aeternum poterit perferre dolorem
                     Then yet, not shall he be able to bear the everlasting pain,
nec praebere cibum proprio de corpore semper.
                     Nor to supply food from his own body forever.
sed Tityos nobis hic est, in amore iacentem
                     But the real Tityos is here with us, in the throes of love he lies,
quem volucres lacerant atque exest anxius angor
                     Whom the winged loves tear apart and anxious suffocation devours,
aut alia quavis scindunt cuppedine curae.
                     Or with some other desire -- whatever pleaseth thee -- do his worries rip apart.

Sisyphus in vita quoque nobis ante oculos est,
                     Sisyphus is also in our life and before our very eyes,
qui petere a populo fasces saevasque secures
                     Who to seek from the people the rods and cruel axe heads
imbibit et semper victus tristisque recedit.
                     He plots, and, when always beaten, a sad man he withdraws.
nam petere imperium, quod inanest nec datur umquam,
                     For to go after power, which is worthless and never is given,
atque in eo semper durum sufferre laborem,
                     And in such a quest is it to ever suffer harsh toil --
hoc est adverso nixantem trudere monte
                     Just so is it for him who struggles to shove up the hill
saxum, quod tamen [e] summo iam vertice rusum
                     A rock, which nevertheless from the highest height again
volvitur et plani raptim petit aequora campi.
                     Rolls and hastily seeks the level plane's level plain.


deinde animi ingratam naturam pascere semper

                     What then of mind’s ungrateful nature which shall thou feed ever, 

atque explere bonis rebus satiareque numquam,

                     And fill up with good deeds and to sate them never --

quod faciunt nobis annorum tempora, circum

                     This for us do all the seasons of the year do, all year-round

cum redeunt fetusque ferunt variosque lepores,

                    When they return and bring their offspring and their manifold charms,

nec tamen explemur vitai fructibus umquam,

                     And nevertheless we are full of the fruits of life never --

hoc, ut opinor, id est, aevo florente puellas

                    This, methinks, is like unto those girls of unending beauty

quod memorant laticem pertusum congerere in vas,
                    Which 
quod tamen expleri nulla ratione potestur.


**
Cerberus et Furiae iam vero et lucis egestas,
                     Cerberus and the Furies --and for the now -- and the want of light,
**

Tartarus horriferos eructans faucibus aestus!
                     Tartarus doth belch out dreadful heat from its throat,
qui neque sunt usquam nec possunt esse profecto;
                    Which neither are ever in existence, nor are able to ever exist.
sed metus in vita poenarum pro male factis
                     But there is fear in life of the punishments done for wickedly done deeds,
est insignibus insignis scelerisque luela,
                     There exists for the marks of markéd and wicked crime an expiation:
carcer et horribilis de saxo iactus deorsum,
                     The prison, and the terrible leap from The Rock -- headfirst --
verbera carnifices robur pix lammina taedae;
                     The beatings, torturers, oaken staves, bitumen, hotplates, and torches:
quae tamen etsi absunt, at mens sibi conscia factis
                     Even if these are not here, yet the mind, conscious of its deeds,
praemetuens adhibet stimulos torretque flagellis,
                     In its fear doth apply the spurs and torments itself with whips.
nec videt interea qui terminus esse malorum
                     Nor in the meantime doth it see what end of wickedness
possit nec quae sit poenarum denique finis,
                     Can there be, nor what can be -- at last -- the end of punishments.
atque eadem metuit magis haec ne in morte gravescant.
                     And these same torments it fears more lest in death they grow more grave.
hic Acherusia fit stultorum denique vita.
                     Here may Acheron be found at last -- in the life of dullards.



-Lucretius, De Rerum Natura III; 966-1023

Lucretius' obvious model is Homer3, as he addresses Homer's famous sinners (slightly differently than Homer), while adding one of his own: the Danaids, who became a popular addition to the Tartarus episode after Homer. Note as well that the Tantalus punishment in Lucretius is different than that of Homer's; and note especially that Vergil follows Lucretius' lead, taking his version with the stone hanging in midair (granted, Vergil has given that penalty to another, Ixion and Perithous, et al, but the story relatively stays the same) from Pindar:

εἰ δὲ δή τιν᾽ ἄνδρα θνατὸν Ὀλύμπου σκοποὶ 
                     And if ever yea a single mortal man the watchers of Olympos
ἐτίμασαν, ἦν Τάνταλος οὗτος: ἀλλὰ γὰρ καταπέψαι      55
                     Honored, that man was Tantalos. But he was unable to digest
μέγαν ὄλβον οὐκ ἐδυνάσθη, κόρῳ δ᾽ ἕλεν 
                     His great happiness, and because of his insolence, he received
ἄταν ὑπέροπλον, ἅν οἱ πατὴρ ὑπερκρέμασε καρτερὸν αὐτῷ λίθον, 
                     An overwhelming ruin, which o’er him the Father hung: a mighty stone,
τὸν αἰεὶ μενοινῶν κεφαλᾶς βαλεῖν εὐφροσύνας ἀλᾶται. 
                     Which doth he ever eagerly desire to from his head cast off; so to merriment he                            roams,
ἔχει δ᾽ ἀπάλαμον βίον τοῦτον ἐμπεδόμοχθον, 
                     And he hath a helpless life as this, ever full of pain,
μετὰ τριῶν τέταρτον πόνον, ἀθανάτων ὅτι κλέψαις       60
                     After three others, a fourth toil arises, for he stole from the deathless gods
ἁλίκεσσι συμπόταις 
                     And gave to his drinking companions
νέκταρ ἀμβροσίαν τε 
                     Nektar and ambrosia,
δῶκεν, οἷσιν ἄφθιτον 
                     Which deathless
θῆκαν. εἰ δὲ θεὸν ἀνήρ τις ἔλπεταί τι λαθέμεν ἔρδων, ἁμαρτάνει.
                     They made him. And if any man should hope to escape the notice of god, he errs. 


-Pindar, Olympian Ode 1; 54-64


What many readers find to be constantly impressive about Vergil is his way of modifying the verses he is emulating and taking the imagery or the theme of the scene just one step further: for example, Lucretius' line "nec quod sub magno scrutentur pectore quicquam" has been more reworked into the more graphic Vergilian "rimaturque epulis, habitatque sub alto / pectore" -- whereas the buzzard in Lucretius cannot find nourishment in pecking out the giant's breast (for neither bird nor giant exist), Vergil has likewise made Tityos' breast empty, only it has been re-purposed to be a habitation for the bird. The punishment of Tantalos and his ever-disappearing nourishment of water and fruit in Homer has been given in a different version by Lucretius (now including the hanging rock à la Pindar), which in turn has been modified by Vergil to include multiple sinners sitting at Dante-esque banquet with both the hanging rocks and a watchful Fury.  

For Lucretius, the divine's involvement in human affairs, the fears these gods are meant to invoke, and the punishments they threaten to inflict on the wicked for all eternity are nonexistent. No Tartaros exists, no real Acheron, no place for sufferers to suffer and no eternal suffering beyond death. Lucretius poetically rationalizes that we already experience the Homeric punishments of Tartaros throughout our real lives. These tortures are being inflicted on all of us, yet in the form of anxieties and worries due to unrequited love (Tityos), greed, or some other crime done -- these are whippings of the conscience, the scourgings of the knowledge of the crimes we have done. The racking guilt of acknowledging the evil of such crimes leads to psychological punishment besides typical physical torments. In this way, we are all Tantalos, awaiting the deadly stone hanging in midair over us to fall on our heads just as we await the punishments which will be inflicted on us by constantly watching vengeful deities. It would seem to be a good thing that these beings do not exist, right? asks the poet. Lucretius' aim in his writing, the scope of his verse, is didactic, for the purpose of instruction -- and it is exactly this sort of scope which Homer lacks and Vergil adapts. 

In conclusion, Vergil expands upon his Homeric model by turning his hero's quest to the Underworld into a morality teaching tool, instructing Augustan Romans that terrible torments in Tartarus await those who fight with their kin, those who hoard wealth, the unfaithful, and those who take up "[a]rms unlawful (arma [...] impia)" -- it seems to be quite clear as to Vergil's goal in this moralizing above and besides chiding the average Roman adulterer: as a man who lived most of his life either on the brink of or in the midst of civil wars and fraternal bloodshed, he is very much against Roman armies tearing each other (and innocent citizens) apart. These are the arma [...] impia to which he is referring: "weapons made sacrilegious" by the spilling of Roman blood. Additionally, besides the three great sinner scenes in Vergil -- Tityos, Salmoneus, and the Ixion-Perithoüs dinner -- the rest of the offenders are unnamed. These unknown lost souls could be you or me, or (most of all) they are the Romans contemporary with Vergil who bled their country by slaughtering their own fellows in civil war and committing other wrongs besides. Civil wars and the evil they inflict form strong themes and motifs underlying the entirety of The Æneid, and, here in Book VI (arguably the most "Roman" book of the twelve), Vergil makes his most pointed and poignant moralizing message to the readers of his own time -- and he does so using the epic Epicurean verses of Lucretius as a vehicle for that message. By adopting Lucretian phrasing in the above selection (not to mention throughout the whole of the poem), following Lucretius' versions of the myths of the Tartarean punished, and, like Lucretius, centering on the crimes of the wicked rather than their punishments in order to convey a strong moral message to his contemporary Roman audience, Vergil somewhat breaks away and expands upon the ancient Homeric model of the Underworld journey, and as a result creates some of would become some of the most common literary tropes of afterlife compartmentalization, punishment, and moralizing.




1Vergil, after all, is writing a narrative and has narrative touches which are mirrored after Homer, while Lucretius's goal is not to tell an epic narrative in the same vein; therefore, in many respects Vergil (obviously) emulates Homer: the Elpenor-Palinurus link jumps to mind (as does the Aias-Dido link) as an example of something unique to only Homer and Vergil because such an episode has no place in Lucretius' writings.
_______________________________________________
2By cribbing off the Prometheus myth, Vergil easily solves the problem posed by Homer and pointed out by Lucretius: will not Tityos' eternal punishment end when those two vultures finish ripping him apart? In response, Vergil makes Tityos body and innards ever-renewing, as Prometheus' liver was renewed each night after being daily destroyed by an eagle. 
_______________________________________________
3It is worth noting without being exhaustive who Lucretius' models were: Homer of course, but the other is most likely Plato, as it is partially his philosophy which Lucretius is answering throughout much of his poem, particularly concerning Plato's transmigration of souls, which the poet finds ridiculous and mocks in this same third book of De Rerum Natura. Plato describes the means by which the dead are judged and divided up in the afterlife:

"Now in the time of Kronos (Cronus) there was a law concerning mankind, and it holds to this very day amongst the gods, that every man who has passed a just and holy life departs after his decease to the Isles of the Blest (Nesoi Makaron), and dwells in all happiness apart from ill; but whoever has lived unjustly and impiously goes to the dungeon of requital and penance which, you know, they call Tartaros (Tartarus). Of these men there were judges in Kronos' time, and still of late in the reign of Zeus--living men to judge the living upon the day when each was to breathe his last; and thus the cases were being decided amiss. So Plouton (Pluton) [Haides] and the overseers from the Isles of the Blest came before Zeus with the report that they found men passing over to either abode undeserving. Then spake Zeus : ‘Nay,’ said he, ‘I will put a stop to these proceedings. The cases are now indeed judged ill and it is because they who are on trial are tried in their clothing, for they are tried alive. Now many,’ said he, ‘who have wicked souls are clad in fair bodies and ancestry and wealth, and at their judgement appear many witnesses to testify that their lives have been just. Now, the judges are confounded not only by their evidence but at the same time by being clothed themselves while they sit in judgement, having their own soul muffled in the veil of eyes and ears and the whole body. Thus all these are a hindrance to them, their own habiliments no less than those of the judged.’‘Well, first of all,’ he said, ‘we must put a stop to their foreknowledge of their death; for this they at present foreknow. However, Prometheus has already been given the word to stop this in them. Next they must be stripped bare of all those things before they are tried; for they must stand their trial dead. Their judge also must be naked, dead, beholding with very soul the very soul of each immediately upon his death, bereft of all his kin and having left behind on earth all that fine array, to the end that the judgement may be just. Now I, knowing all this before you, have appointed sons of my own to be judges; two from Asia, Minos and Rhadamanthys, and one from Europe, Aiakos (Aeacus). These, when their life is ended, shall give judgement in the meadow at the dividing of the road, whence are the two ways leading, one to the Isles of the Blest (Nesoi Makaron), and the other to Tartaros. And those who come from Asia shall Rhadamanthys try, and those from Europe, Aiakos; and to Minos I will give the privilege of the final decision, if the other two be in any doubt; that the judgement upon this journey of mankind may be supremely just . . .’When they [the souls] have arrived in presence of their judge, they of Asia before Rhadamanthys, these Rhadamanthys sets before him and surveys the soul of each, not knowing whose it is; nay, often when he has laid hold of the Great King or some other prince or potentate, he perceives the utter unhealthiness of his soul, striped all over with the scourge, and a mass of wounds, the work of perjuries and injustice; where every act has left its smirch upon his soul, where all is awry through falsehood and imposture, and nothing straight because of a nurture that knew not truth: or, as the result of an unbridled course of fastidiousness, insolence, and incontinence, he finds the soul full fraught with disproportion and ugliness. Beholding this he sends it away in dishonor straight to the place of custody, where on its arrival it is to endure the sufferings that are fitting. And it is fitting that every one under punishment rightly inflicted on him by another should either be made better and profit thereby, or serve as an example to the rest, that others seeing the sufferings he endures may in fear amend themselves. Those who are benefited by the punishment they get from gods and men are they who have committed remediable offences; but still it is through bitter throes of pain that they receive their benefit both here and in Haides (the nether world); for in no other way can there be riddance of iniquity. But of those who have done extreme wrong and, as a result of such crimes, have become incurable, of those are the examples made; no longer are they profited at all themselves, since they are incurable, but others are profited who behold them undergoing for their transgressions the greatest, sharpest, and most fearful sufferings evermore, actually hung up as examples there in the infernal dungeon, a spectacle and a lesson to such of the wrongdoers as arrive from time to time . . . And I think, moreover, that most of these examples have come from despots and kings and potentates and public administrators; for these, since they have a free hand, commit the greatest and most impious offences. Homer also testifies to this; for he has represented kings and potentates that we find the specially wicked men . . . So, as I was saying, whenever the judge Rhadamanthys has to deal with such a one, he knows nothing else of him at all, neither who he is nor of what descent, but only that he is a wicked person and on perceiving this he sends him away to Tartaros, first setting a mark on him to show whether he deems it a curable or an incurable case; and when the man arrives there he suffers what is fitting."

Plato has a long description of a more nature-based cosmology of the Earth and its chthonic features in the Phaedo, a dialogue which takes place at the end of Sokratēs' life; Tartarus plays a part as the dungeon of the damned, but acts in essence as an endlessly churning water pump:
"And in regards to the Earth as a whole it hath been created thus, as well hath been created all the things which surround the Earth. And the places within the Earth are many, all the way down into its hollow caverns throughout the whole of its circle. And there are many of these caverns deeper and wider than the one in which we live, and some deeper doth a smaller chasm than the others have than the one we have, and yet some are not smaller in depth than the one here and broader too."And all of these parts under the Earth hath been connected by borings into one another and in many places have either narrower and others wider openings, where much water flows from some and into others just as into wine-kratērs, and there are enormous numbers of these ever-flowing rivers under the earth composed both of hot water and of cold, and there is much fire, great rivers of fire, and much wet clay, both clean and filthy, just as in Sicily where before the lava-stream doth run rivers of mud, and then runneth the lava itself. So yea, by these rivers are all of these places filled, as it happens in the case of each one at whatever time during its running course about the Earth."And all of these are set into motion up and down, just as if it were a sort of swing within the Earth. And this swing is of the following sort of nature: one of the chasms of the Earth happens to be of all the others the greatest, and through it are bored the channels throughout the whole of the Earth, just as Homer said, speaking thus:
              'So far off, where lieth deepest under the earth, lo The Abyss.'                                                                                         -Homer, Iliad Θ.14

And elsewhere have he and other poets called Tartarus. For into this chasm flow all the rivers, and out from it do they flow back out. And each of these waterways are what they are because through such things of the Earth they have run. And the reason for their flowing out thence and their flowing in is that all this liquid matter hath no bottom nor hath the clay a foundation. And it swings and swells up and down, and the air and wind causes it to swirl around itself.
ὅταν τε οὖν ὑποχωρήσῃ τὸ ὕδωρ εἰς τὸν τόπον τὸν δὴ κάτω καλούμενον, τοῖς κατ᾽ ἐκεῖνα τὰ ῥεύματα [διὰ] τῆς γῆς εἰσρεῖ τε καὶ πληροῖ αὐτὰ ὥσπερ οἱ ἐπαντλοῦντες· ὅταν τε αὖ ἐκεῖθεν μὲν ἀπολίπῃ, δεῦρο δὲ ὁρμήσῃ, τὰ ἐνθάδε πληροῖ αὖθις, τὰ δὲ πληρωθέντα ῥεῖ διὰ τῶν ὀχετῶν καὶ διὰ τῆς γῆς, καὶ εἰς τοὺς τόπους ἕκαστα ἀφικνούμενα, εἰς οὓς ἑκάστοις ὡδοποίηται, θαλάττας τε καὶ λίμνας καὶ ποταμοὺς καὶ κρήνας ποιεῖ· ἐντεῦθεν δὲ πάλιν δυόμενα [112d] κατὰ τῆς γῆς, τὰ μὲν μακροτέρους τόπους περιελθόντα καὶ πλείους, τὰ δὲ ἐλάττους καὶ βραχυτέρους, πάλιν εἰς τὸν Τάρταρον ἐμβάλλει, τὰ μὲν πολὺ κατωτέρω <ἢ> ᾗ ἐπηντλεῖτο, τὰ δὲ ὀλίγον· πάντα δὲ ὑποκάτω εἰσρεῖ τῆς ἐκροῆς, καὶ ἔνια μὲν καταντικρὺ <ἢ> ᾗ [εἰσρεῖ] ἐξέπεσεν, ἔνια δὲ κατὰ τὸ αὐτὸ μέρος· ἔστι δὲ ἃ παντάπασιν κύκλῳ περιελθόντα, ἢ ἅπαξ ἢ καὶ πλεονάκις περιελιχθέντα περὶ τὴν γῆν ὥσπερ οἱ ὄφεις, εἰς τὸ δυνατὸν κάτω καθέντα πάλιν ἐμβάλλει. [112e] δυνατὸν δέ ἐστιν ἑκατέρωσε μέχρι τοῦ μέσου καθιέναι, πέρα δ᾽ οὔ· ἄναντες γὰρ ἀμφοτέροις τοῖς ῥεύμασι τὸ ἑκατέρωθεν γίγνεται μέρος.
τὰ μὲν οὖν δὴ ἄλλα πολλά τε καὶ μεγάλα καὶ παντοδαπὰ ῥεύματά ἐστι· τυγχάνει δ᾽ ἄρα ὄντα ἐν τούτοις τοῖς πολλοῖς τέτταρ᾽ ἄττα ῥεύματα, ὧν τὸ μὲν μέγιστον καὶ ἐξωτάτω ῥέον περὶ κύκλῳ ὁ καλούμενος Ὠκεανός ἐστιν, τούτου δὲ καταντικρὺ καὶ ἐναντίως ῥέων Ἀχέρων, ὃς δι᾽ ἐρήμων τε τόπων [113a] ῥεῖ ἄλλων καὶ δὴ καὶ ὑπὸ γῆν ῥέων εἰς τὴν λίμνην ἀφικνεῖται τὴν Ἀχερουσιάδα, οὗ αἱ τῶν τετελευτηκότων ψυχαὶ τῶν πολλῶν ἀφικνοῦνται καί τινας εἱμαρμένους χρόνους μείνασαι, αἱ μὲν μακροτέρους, αἱ δὲ βραχυτέρους, πάλιν ἐκπέμπονται εἰς τὰς τῶν ζῴων γενέσεις. τρίτος δὲ ποταμὸς τούτων κατὰ μέσον ἐκβάλλει, καὶ ἐγγὺς τῆς ἐκβολῆς ἐκπίπτει εἰς τόπον μέγαν πυρὶ πολλῷ καόμενον, καὶ λίμνην ποιεῖ μείζω τῆς παρ᾽ ἡμῖν θαλάττης, ζέουσαν ὕδατος καὶ πηλοῦ· ἐντεῦθεν δὲ [113b] χωρεῖ κύκλῳ θολερὸς καὶ πηλώδης, περιελιττόμενος δὲ τῇ γῇ ἄλλοσέ τε ἀφικνεῖται καὶ παρ᾽ ἔσχατα τῆς Ἀχερουσιάδος λίμνης, οὐ συμμειγνύμενος τῷ ὕδατι· περιελιχθεὶς δὲ πολλάκις ὑπὸ γῆς ἐμβάλλει κατωτέρω τοῦ Ταρτάρου· οὗτος δ᾽ ἐστὶν ὃν ἐπονομάζουσιν Πυριφλεγέθοντα, οὗ καὶ οἱ ῥύακες ἀποσπάσματα ἀναφυσῶσιν ὅπῃ ἂν τύχωσι τῆς γῆς. τούτου δὲ αὖ καταντικρὺ ὁ τέταρτος ἐκπίπτει εἰς τόπον πρῶτον δεινόν τε καὶ ἄγριον, ὡς λέγεται, χρῶμα δ᾽ ἔχοντα ὅλον οἷον ὁ [113c] κυανός, ὃν δὴ ἐπονομάζουσι Στύγιον, καὶ τὴν λίμνην ἣν ποιεῖ ὁ ποταμὸς ἐμβάλλων, Στύγα· ὁ δ᾽ ἐμπεσὼν ἐνταῦθα καὶ δεινὰς δυνάμεις λαβὼν ἐν τῷ ὕδατι, δὺς κατὰ τῆς γῆς, περιελιττόμενος χωρεῖ ἐναντίος τῷ Πυριφλεγέθοντι καὶ ἀπαντᾷ ἐν τῇ Ἀχερουσιάδι λίμνῃ ἐξ ἐναντίας· καὶ οὐδὲ τὸ τούτου ὕδωρ οὐδενὶ μείγνυται, ἀλλὰ καὶ οὗτος κύκλῳ περιελθὼν ἐμβάλλει εἰς τὸν Τάρταρον ἐναντίος τῷ Πυριφλεγέθοντι· ὄνομα δὲ τούτῳ ἐστίν, ὡς οἱ ποιηταὶ λέγουσιν, κωκυτός.[113d] τούτων δὲ οὕτως πεφυκότων, ἐπειδὰν ἀφίκωνται οἱ τετελευτηκότες εἰς τὸν τόπον οἷ ὁ δαίμων ἕκαστον κομίζει, πρῶτον μὲν διεδικάσαντο οἵ τε καλῶς καὶ ὁσίως βιώσαντες καὶ οἱ μή. καὶ οἳ μὲν ἂν δόξωσι μέσως βεβιωκέναι, πορευθέντες ἐπὶ τὸν Ἀχέροντα, ἀναβάντες ἃ δὴ αὐτοῖς ὀχήματά ἐστιν, ἐπὶ τούτων ἀφικνοῦνται εἰς τὴν λίμνην, καὶ ἐκεῖ οἰκοῦσί τε καὶ καθαιρόμενοι τῶν τε ἀδικημάτων διδόντες δίκας ἀπολύονται, εἴ τίς τι ἠδίκηκεν, τῶν τε εὐεργεσιῶν [113e] τιμὰς φέρονται κατὰ τὴν ἀξίαν ἕκαστος· οἳ δ᾽ ἂν δόξωσιν ἀνιάτως ἔχειν διὰ τὰ μεγέθη τῶν ἁμαρτημάτων, ἢ ἱεροσυλίας πολλὰς καὶ μεγάλας ἢ φόνους ἀδίκους καὶ παρανόμους πολλοὺς ἐξειργασμένοι ἢ ἄλλα ὅσα τοιαῦτα τυγχάνει ὄντα, τούτους δὲ ἡ προσήκουσα μοῖρα ῥίπτει εἰς τὸν Τάρταρον, ὅθεν οὔποτε ἐκβαίνουσιν. οἳ δ᾽ ἂν ἰάσιμα μὲν μεγάλα δὲ δόξωσιν ἡμαρτηκέναι ἁμαρτήματα, οἷον πρὸς πατέρα ἢ μητέρα [114a] ὑπ᾽ ὀργῆς βίαιόν τι πράξαντες, καὶ μεταμέλον αὐτοῖς τὸν ἄλλον βίον βιῶσιν, ἢ ἀνδροφόνοι τοιούτῳ τινὶ ἄλλῳ τρόπῳ γένωνται, τούτους δὲ ἐμπεσεῖν μὲν εἰς τὸν Τάρταρον ἀνάγκη, ἐμπεσόντας δὲ αὐτοὺς καὶ ἐνιαυτὸν ἐκεῖ γενομένους ἐκβάλλει τὸ κῦμα, τοὺς μὲν ἀνδροφόνους κατὰ τὸν Κωκυτόν, τοὺς δὲ πατραλοίας καὶ μητραλοίας κατὰ τὸν Πυριφλεγέθοντα· ἐπειδὰν δὲ φερόμενοι γένωνται κατὰ τὴν λίμνην τὴν Ἀχερουσιάδα, ἐνταῦθα βοῶσί τε καὶ καλοῦσιν, οἱ μὲν οὓς ἀπέκτειναν, οἱ δὲ οὓς ὕβρισαν, καλέσαντες δ᾽ ἱκετεύουσι [114b] καὶ δέονται ἐᾶσαι σφᾶς ἐκβῆναι εἰς τὴν λίμνην καὶ δέξασθαι, καὶ ἐὰν μὲν πείσωσιν, ἐκβαίνουσί τε καὶ λήγουσι τῶν κακῶν, εἰ δὲ μή, φέρονται αὖθις εἰς τὸν Τάρταρον καὶ ἐκεῖθεν πάλιν εἰς τοὺς ποταμούς, καὶ ταῦτα πάσχοντες οὐ πρότερον παύονται πρὶν ἂν πείσωσιν οὓς ἠδίκησαν· αὕτη γὰρ ἡ δίκη ὑπὸ τῶν δικαστῶν αὐτοῖς ἐτάχθη. οἳ δὲ δὴ ἂν δόξωσι διαφερόντως πρὸς τὸ ὁσίως βιῶναι, οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ τῶνδε μὲν τῶν τόπων τῶν ἐν τῇ γῇ ἐλευθερούμενοί τε καὶ ἀπαλλαττόμενοι [114c] ὥσπερ δεσμωτηρίων, ἄνω δὲ εἰς τὴν καθαρὰν οἴκησιν ἀφικνούμενοι καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς οἰκιζόμενοι. τούτων δὲ αὐτῶν οἱ φιλοσοφίᾳ ἱκανῶς καθηράμενοι ἄνευ τε σωμάτων ζῶσι τὸ παράπαν εἰς τὸν ἔπειτα χρόνον, καὶ εἰς οἰκήσεις ἔτι τούτων καλλίους ἀφικνοῦνται, ἃς οὔτε ῥᾴδιον δηλῶσαι οὔτε ὁ χρόνος ἱκανὸς ἐν τῷ παρόντι. ἀλλὰ τούτων δὴ ἕνεκα χρὴ ὧν διεληλύθαμεν, ὦ Σιμμία, πᾶν ποιεῖν ὥστε ἀρετῆς καὶ φρονήσεως ἐν τῷ βίῳ μετασχεῖν· καλὸν γὰρ τὸ ἆθλον καὶ ἡ ἐλπὶς μεγάλη.
Here is some early compartmentalization of the dead according to certain kinds of sin committed in life: homicides are conveyed from Tartaros via the Kokytos to the Akherusian lake, and those who abuse their parents via the Periphylegethon. The punishment of those who have been thrown into Tartaros are not necessarily eternal, but contingent upon the forgiveness of others -- but by this metric, some might be there awhile. Lucretius' is quite explicitly answering Plato's cosmology by saying that the soul dies at the point of death and so there is no punishment to suffer, no torment in an underground waterslide-esque world of cold swamp water and/or magma and lava. How could any torment in the afterlife (which does not exist, Lucretius asserts) be worse than the punishments and torment we either physically or psychologically suffer while we are still alive? "hic Acherusia fit stultorum denique vita (Here may Acheron be found at last -- in the lives of dullards.)" writes Lucretius as he finishes naming the tormented in Tartarus; by stultorum, the poet means those who are "philosophically unsound", and who have not heeded Epicurus' call to free oneself from the irrationality and superstition which cause real horrors in life.

_______________________________________________