[lit-ideas] "Are The Stars Out Tonite?": A Short History of Philosophy from Thales to Thales

So Apparently, they all laughed at Mileto when Thales, who predicted a  
comet, fell in a well...
 
So typical of the philosopher. This book covers the main trends in Western  
philosophical thought from Thales of Miletus to Thales of Miletus. Includes  
bibliography.
 
Thanks to L. Helm for providing the two entries for Manilius. I'll see if  
the man improves morally from one edition to the other.
 
"Manilius, a Roman poet, was the author of a poem in five books  called
Astronomica."
 
Well, this surprises me, as I thought he was an astronomer. For poetry, I'd  
rather read Horace.
 
"Nothing is recorded of the author; he is neither quoted nor
mentioned  by any ancient writer.  His very name is uncertain, but was
probably  Marcus Manilius."
 
But then it probably was not -- cfr. S. Pinker, "Naming the Romans" ( --  
ref. Albina Rossini, "Contradictions in prae-nomen testification in the case of 
 
Romanized authors", American College at Rome -- available through UMI)
 
" From the work itself it may be gathered with much
probability  that the writer lived under Augustus or Tiberius"
 
-- reign. Not literally.
 
"and that he was a citizen of and resident in Rome."
 
Unless they mention what _district_ he lived in (and I know them all) I  
won't believe *it*.
 
"He bears the name of a distinguished
plebeian family."
 
Contradictio in terminis, oxymoron. If it's plebeian is not distinguished.  
Witness all the fuss they made about Princess Diana being a commoner who had  
better pedigree than the Hannovers.
 
"His work is one of great learning; he had studied his
subject in the  best writers, and generally represents the most advanced
views of the  ancients on astronomy.  It is, however, destitute of poetical
or  literary merit."
 
Perhaps what is destitute of academic merit is you defining the man who  
wrote a book on Astronomy as a poet, and then finding his poetry dull. I guess  
he's pretty poetical as astronomers go. 
 
" It is difficult to explain how a work of such learning
on a  subject which was studied with such interest by the ancients should
have  remained so neglected.  Firmicus, who wrote in the time of  Constantine,
has so many points of resemblance with the work of Manilius that  he must
either have used him or have followed some work that Manilius also  followed."
 
Good point. 
 
"As Firmicus says that hardly any Roman except Caesar, Cicero, and Fronto  had
treated the subject, it is probable that he did not know the work  of
Manilius."
 
Perhaps Manilius was born _after_ Firmicus died. ("And how can he know of  
him, then" -- Geary). 
 
"The latest event referred to in the poem is the great defeat of  9
A.D."
 
Now, I'm curious! Against the Africans?!

Now from the  11th:

"Manilius, A Roman poet, author of a poem in five books called  Astronomica.
The author is neither quoted nor mentioned by any ancient  writer.  Even his
name is uncertain, but it was probably Marcus  Manilius; in the earlier MSS."
 
But in the later MSS he is referred to as "Nero's favourite". 
 
"The author is anonymous, the later give Manilius, Manlius, Mallius."
 
All hardly masculine. I believe he was a eunuch. 
 
"The poem itself implies that the writer lived under Augustus or Tiberius,  
and
that he was a citizen of an resident in Rome.  According to R.  Bentley he
was an Asiatic Greek; according to F. Jacob an African."
 
And Geary says he was from Memphis -- an Egyptian. ("Look the way he's been  
mummified"). 
 
"His work is one of
great learning; he had studied his subject in the  best writers, and
generally represents the most advanced views of the  ancients on astronomy
(or rather astrology)."
 
Eh?????? Witches of Superstition, get out of here!
 
"He frequently imitates Lucretius, whom he resembles
in earnestness and  originality"
 
How can Manilus resemble Lucretius in originality? It's like saying that I  
resemble Geary in originality, or worse, that he resembles me!
 
"and in the power of enlivening the dry bones
of his subject.   Although is diction presents some peculiarities, the style
is metrically  correct."
 
For 'peculiarities' read: "Not the Ciceronian lexicon which is the *only*  
thing we learn at Oxford, so expect to have your Short/Lewis ready. By  
'metrically correct' read: "at least he does not split his infinitives".
 
"Firmicus, who wrote in the time of Constantine,
exhibitis so many  points of resemblance with the work of Manilius that he
must either have used  him or have followed some work that Manilius also
followed."
 
Good point.
 
"As Firmicus says that hardly any Roman except Caesar, Cicero and
Fronto  had treated this subject, it is probable that he did not know the
work of  Manilius."
 
-- or that he was an eunuch not crediting with. 
 
"The latest event referred to in the poem (i. 898) is the great defeat of  
Varus by Arminius in the Teuto-burgiensis Saltus (A.D. 9)."
 
Ah, I remember, what a "Saltus" that was! Christ was 9 at the time. 
 
"The fifth book was not written till the reign of Tiberius; the work  appears
to be incomplete, and was probably never published."
 
And therefore never read. 
 
----- BONUS:
           from "The  Correspondence and Diary of J. Loeb"
 
 
    "Dear Ted,
          I went to the Roman  antiquary bookshop you
     mentioned and got hold of the copyright for  this
     Manilus stuff. It's dry like hell, but do you  think
     Tom will like to translate it? We are offering 
     $3,000 for the job -- and Tom is always in  _need_.
     And of course his name printed on the first 
     page.
                     Love,
                                 James.
 
 
      Dear James,
             I talked to Tom. He was in the pub. He looked
      interested when I mentioned of your  idea of his
      translating Manilus, and said he would let  you
      know when to drop by your house. He's  divorced
      and blamed with a high alimony.
                            Love,
                                      Ted.
 
 
JOURNAL.-- of J. Loeb
 
Dear Diary, I met with Tom Willoughby today. He is going to translate  the 
book.
 
 
 
LATTER ENTRY (5 years later) 
 
Tom Willoughby has not yet started the translation. Well, with the war and  
all that. Plus, he is dead. I see if I can find another translator.
 
                      Dear Francis,
                         Do you think Goold will be willing
                         to translate Manilius?
 
 
Dear Mr. Loeb
 
     I was pleased to read your letter. Yes, I am  more
     than willing to translate Manilus for your  library.
     I've always loved astronomy and my mother  loves
     astrology, so that will help. And there's  nothing
     I would _not_ do for your sublime library. See  you
      at the Clardige's on Friday,
 
                                          C. P. Goold
 
-- and the rest, as they say, is history





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