Manilius – Three Caesars in one Text?

    Portrait of Tiberius

MANILIUS – Three Caesars in one Text?(i)

By Darrell Sutton

Imperial titles in the ancient Roman Republic had diverse origins. They appeared on coins and in the prose and poetry of Latin writers. Caesar, at first a surname of the Julian gens, ultimately came to denote several emperors (cf. Mason Hammond, ‘Imperial Elements in the Formula of the Roman Emperors during the First Two and a Half Centuries of the Empire’, Mem. Am. Acad. Rome, 1957). In due course, the use of Imperator or Augustus within the populace was utilized as a derogatory or complimentary term, depending on the party using them. Bards therefore needed to be perspicacious with their poetic illustrations.

Latin poets of the Late Roman Republic and early Roman Imperial period unveiled fine distinctions in their metrical compositions. In arrangements of verse, even though their systems disclosed overt shades of meaning, here and there they betrayed subtexts whose connotations were not easy to grasp, especially in astronomical lyrics. One widespread principle which preoccupied its devotees was the assumption that fixed objects in the heavens determined human destiny and governed events in the sub-lunar sphere. Manilius’ Astronomica confirms the existence somewhere of that general belief (e.g., II.603-607). In its structure, hexameter lines that are original and complex ascribe supremacy to planetary configurations, making clear to the reader the prevailing power of ‘fate’.

In what follows, an attempt is made to clarify one of the many ambiguities in Manilius’ Latin poem. It will be argued that the use of the imperial title, Caesar, in IV.776 does not apply exclusively to Tiberius Caesar Augustus since Manilius alludes to more than one sovereign.


This inquiry requires giving the correct reading before passing on to matters of interpretation. One sentence demands readers’ attention: T. Breiter’s textual notes on 776 are appended.

Man. IV.773-777
          Hesperiam sua Libra tenet, qua condita Roma,
          orbis et imperium retinet discrimina rerum,
          lancibus, et positas gentes tollitques premitque,
          qua genitus Caesar melius nunc condidit urbem
          Et propriis frenat pendentem nutibus orbem.

                                   cu fratre remus hanc  g
776 genitus… meus nunc condidit orbem l:  caesar meus nunc possidet orbem m:qua genitus cum fratre remus hang condidit urbem gc

Italy belongs to the Balance, her rightful sign: beneath it Rome and her sovereignty of the world were founded, Rome, which controls the issue of events, exalting and depressing nations, placed in the scales:  [trans. Goold]

Herewith an alternate rendering for 776-7: “Caesar, born beneath that sign, now had founded a better city, and governs the world that is dependent upon his commands alone.”Rome and Libra’s historical ties are on record; but the words “her rightful sign” are not in the Latin text at IV.773. To improve punctuation, I propose a period [.] be inserted after urbem in 776.

There is a touch of irony, too, in IV.776, qua genitus Caesar… . In an epic poem that lauds power one does not expect puzzling expressions directed at potentates. To Caesar, great might is imputed but in truth, Libra is the real force behind all the monarchy’s creative enterprises. Bentley claimed verse 776 to be versus spurius, et barbarus, et ineptissimus, i.e., a spurious verse derived from an insecure tradition. He detected a problem, one he believed was textual; however, his conclusion is based on a false inference drawn from the passage.

According to Scaliger the Astronomica had been dedicated to Augustus Caesar.[ii] Bearing that belief in mind, he placed 777 under 773 to read,

           Qua condita Roma
           Et propriis frenat pendentem nutibus orbem
           Orbis et imperium retinet … .

Bentley, however, preferring Urbis to Orbis,[iii] wrote,
           Qua Condita Roma
           Urbis in imperia retinet discrimina rerum
           Lancibus et posits gentes tollitve permite;         775
           Qua genitus cum fratre Remus hanc condidit urbem
           Et propriis frenat pendentum nutibus orbem.

Following MSS G and C, Remus, not Caesar, occupies the text above. If one believes that Augustus adapted his persona to be a second Romulus or new founder of Rome, the passage suffices. But Bentley and Scaliger’s readings are irreconcilable. For Bentley, the municipal scenery was important; although the originator of Rome did more than construct brick and mortar: by him the spirit of the people revived, a progenitive idea denoted by genitus. Scaliger definitely supposed an astrological shade of meaning: thus his use of orbem, subordinating 777 to the greater role of Rome’s naissance in 773. Despite Manilius’ preponderant use of orbis[iv] in his poem, and given that neither Bentley, nor Scaliger, envisioned Breiter’s reconstruction, the following points were not evident to them.

Subsequent to IV.744, an extended section on geographical astrology is dealt with, one in which Manilius sheds light on spheres of influence that fall under specific signs of the zodiac: e.g., ‘the Ethiopians’ who burn on account of Cancer, whose exaggerated heat speaks through the color of their complexion’ (758-759). Each influence that is noted by him is dependent upon inter-reliant constellations. There is a central thought undergirding Manilius’ whole argument (770): quod cuncta regit – [Libra] reigns over all.[v] For that reason, the allotment of too much [celestial] power to Caesar seems unrealistic in Manilius’ rationale. For Bentley, the passage asserts what is patently false, so it must be an addition to the text. Hence his emendation. He was on to something. Yet he overlooked the fact that two historical issues must be acknowledged: the one, mythological, and the other, astrological. With the textual issues now decided, the untangling of these threads prompts comment.


No one in the first century BC or AD believed the city of Rome originated with anyone named Caesar. According to the myth, Romulus instituted Rome’s foundation (IV.26).[vi] It is true that Julius Caesar built a better urbs. It could be argued that Augustus did even more. Tiberius did not realize so great a transformation in Roman dominion during his rule. But the three of them were enthusiasts of astrology, holding deep-seated beliefs in its effects. Consequently, Manilius co-opted Libra to be the dominating force in the formation of a balanced Roman reign (769-773).

On the face of it, Manilius’ ascription in 776 may stand for Tiberius or Augustus; but the royal figure to whom he refers slyly is Julius Caesar. Here is why: at IV.203- 216 readers are informed that rulers and leaders are born under Libra. And commentators presume Tiberius is the emperor remarked upon in the text because of his natal horoscope. Housman’s inflexible view on 776 left no room for an alternative because he believed Tiberius to be the only legitimate claimant to whom the verse alludes. The Latin idiom, however, does not explicitly betray that sole denotation. As for the text, Housman knew that orbem could not bear the sense given in Caesar . . . nunc condiditi urbem, and he decried the imposition of cum fratre Remus hanc condidit urbem into the section of verse as contrary to poetic practice. Housman cited plenty of texts to support Romulus’ institution of Rome.[vii]

Regarding the identity of Caesar, Housman believed ‘Tiberius was the primary royal figure’ in book IV, and that he had proved it in his introduction to book 1 (Tiberio enim principe hunc librum scriptum esse ostendi ad 766 et lib. I p.lxxi).[viii]Housman’s solution does not close off other avenues of interpretation. Tiberius was a vengeful tyrant[ix] whose feats never attained to the lofty words used by Manilius in 776-777.  Besides, why would Manilius advertise Tiberius as someone who governs the world? He had no such administration. In fact, the title Caesar, in its generic use, was not attested elsewhere by Manilius to symbolize Tiberius’ global accomplishments. One may argue that a reference to Tiberius is in the poem elsewhere, but this passage does not plainly mention him.

There is more. The island of Rhodes is linked to the biographical histories of the three men: Gaius Julius Caesar, Gaius Octavius [Augustus] and Tiberius.[x] The latter was a reluctant ruler who did not rule well, despite his birth-tie to Libra. He certainly was no genius in juridical matters. He built roads in Spain and Gaul. He might have been a better soldier-diplomat had he not been terrified of conspiracies. The maiestas trials produced troubles for over 60 persons: some were killed, others engaged in self-murder or were exiled; but Julius Caesar[xi], whose attachment to Rhodes continues to be celebrated, empowered the succession of Augustus (the great lawgiver I.385-386), who was born underneath Capricorn’s divine gaze (II.509).

Someone might aver that Caesar Augustus is debarred from further discussion on account of the fact his nativity did not occur during Libra and that he was unsuited for Manilius’ depiction, lacking similar connections to Rhodes.[xii] Actually, Libra was visible, partly, at Augustus’ birth,[xiii] which, by virtue of Libra’s utter power (as conceived by Manilius), maintained a force that could not be annulled, nor was it unfelt or forestalled amid various zodiacal configurations: (viz. II. 291; but, to learn of powerful causal associations amid the stars from one sign to the other, see IV. 385-6). The use of a tripartite reference for Caesarean rulers is not extraordinary considering their links to Libra.

What of IV.763-766?
          Virgine sub casta felix terraque marique
          est Rhodes, hospitum recturi principis orbem,
          Tumque domus vere Solis, cui tota sacrata est,
          cum caperet lumen magni sub Caesare mundi;

Beneath the Chaste maid Rhodes prospers on land and sea,
The erstwhile abode of him who was to rule the world as
Emperor: the whole island is consecrated to the Sun, and Rhodes was in
very truth its house at the time when it received into its
care the light of the mighty universe in the person of Caesar.
[trans. Goold]

Both Augustus and Tiberius were glorified. Augustus’ achievements brought him honor. In 2BC, or thereabouts, he acquired the title pater patriae.[xiv] His political powers were unequalled during his rule as emperor. It is debatable, though, whether the glory attributed to Augustus excelled the glory ascribed to Julius Caesar who was identified as ‘the light of an impressive world’. It is likely Manilius’ imperial label involves three persons. Julius, Augustus and Tiberius styled themselves restorers of a better age.[xv] Julius Caesar founded colonies, bringing into existence new protectorates by his decree. He even introduced a new calendar. His success was world-altering. In addition, Julius Caesar’s nativity sign was cancer. In its constellated form, Capricorn gazes at Libra from the south, but Cancer follows Libra from the left side (II.290-292). The force of Libra’s trigonal constellation, in Manilius’ account (II.535), held sway in those configurations in which its presence was observable. Manilius’ verse opens a closed door to an intelligible reading, and Libra, the seventh sign of the zodiac, holds the key.


The criteria for identifying the Caesar to whom Manilius refers, concern the island of Rhodes, the building of Rome, and a potentate who showed a fondness for orbital schemes. From a historical standpoint, Tiberius is obviously not the only one suitable for the credits. From an astrological perspective, both Julius and Octavian qualify for Manilius’ descriptions: Tiberius too, if you assign a post-Augustan date to book 4. But the verbal tenses in the line would imply the accomplishments already were completed: in which case, the author might have composed the lines not knowing in what later year(s) his poem would be issued. As a grammatical issue, Caesar in 776 signals a singular personage whose exact identity is masked intentionally. It is certain nonetheless, that the title ‘Caesar’ in 766 implies more than one sovereign ruler.

Since there was no public notice that the Astronomica was circulated far and wide, definite proof that it was composed during Tiberius’ reign is not given. The poet well may have written it during Augustus’ rulership, with knowledge of which imperial prince was in the direct line of descent to inherit power,[xvi] and then innovatively composed verses that obliquely refer to the three illustrious potentates. The laudation, being interpreted variously by readers, would have protected Manilius from claims of partisanship. Marcus Manilius therefore achieved his goal subtly, to deftly laud the existing Caesar while simultaneously[xvii] extolling the luminous Julius Caesar, the dictator under Libran influence who founded a better city of Rome.

Camuccini, La morte di Cesare, credit Wikipedia


i The following editions are cited: J.J. Scaliger, M. Manilii Astronomicon (Paris 1579, 2nd. ed. 1600); R. Bentley, M. Manilii Astronomicon (London 1739); T. Breiter, M. Manilii Astronomicon (Leipzig 1909); A.E. Housman, M. Manilii Astronomica (London 1903–1930; 2nd ed. 1937; 5 vols.), G.P. Goold, Manilius Astronomica (Cambridge 1997).
ii J. J. Scaliger, ed., Astronomicon (Paris 1579), 243.
iii R. Bentley, M. Manilii Astronomicon, (London 1739), 235-236.
iv E.g., see book III at lines 206, 213, 218, 221, 225, 282, 288, 322, 330, 334, 342, 370, 375, 378, 417, 479, 484, 502, 524, 545.
v E.g., see book II.251, 424, 486, 535, 548, 554.
vi Cf. Cic. De Div. II.47,98. Such belief remained popular in literary traditions of the 2nd or 3rd century: see Sol. De Mira. Mun. 1.18.
vii Against Julius Caesar’s depiction, Cicero, in De Rep., provides a rational view of Romulus, not as a person of divine birth (II.4) but as a statesman-king (I.58), one whose prudence, rather than military deeds, led to his divination. Cicero avoided romanticizing on Aeneas and Rome or on divine ties between Rome and Troy. See Spencer Cole, Cicero and The Rise of deification at Rome, (Cambridge 2013)
viii Housman’s argument was cogent and logical. To cite his note relating to the use of Solis in IV.765, he reasoned that  “if Tiberius was the second light of heaven, he resembles the Moon, and did not at all resemble the Sun, which is the first”. The words are capable of  quite another sense, and  “lumen magnitude sub Caesare mundi” may mean “the Sun, in the person of him who is now emperor, to wit Tiberius: so II3 ‘uictamque sub Hectore Troiam, 6 16 ‘sub fratr euiri nomen,’ 621 sqq ‘plus….in duplici…roboris…quam te, viii Nemeaee, sub uno’ IV 24 sq. ‘Troia sub uno/non eursa uiro,  V 381 ‘ ‘deum Cucnus condit uocemque sub illo.’ It apppears then that book IV was written after Augustus’ death.” Man. I, Ixx1-lxx2.
ix He might have been a good man who turned to the dark side – so Cassius Dio, Hist. LVII, 13, 6. Views on Tiberius’ behavior have changed little through ensuing decades. See Emnuele Cicaceri, Tiberio, Successore Di Augusto, (2nd ed., Albrighi, Segati & C.,1944)  particularly chapter III, ‘Tiberio e l’antiqua tradizione letteraria’.
x Goold writes, “Tiberius, who withdrew from public life to the island of Rhodes in 6 B.C., returning in A.D. 2. See G.P. Goold, 282 fn.‘e’.
xi He was a survivor, one who bested and outlasted Crassus and Pompey, who also succeeded in his powerful maneuvers: maybe 1 million persons died in his campaigns in Gaul. He consolidated power and received many honors: several appointments as consul, tribune and dictator claimed him. He was nominated to be priest of Jupiter, whose statue soon found Caesar’s testimonial beside it.
xii Indeed Octavian resorted to the island of Rhodes for months after the Battle of Actium. There Herod visited him, pledged allegiance to him and officially received again the diadem or reconfirmation of his rule over Roman Palestine. Manilius admired the island’s naval forces (see IV.763).
xiii Housman accepted Suetonius’ notion at Aug. 5, and he, agreeing with Smyly, stated that “The verses are quite consonant with the verdict of astronomy and chronology that Augustus’ horoscope in truth was Libra. Yet he and all the world believed that he was born under Capricorn. Can one man have two natal stars?”. For Housman the answer was in the affirmative if one assumed that “a man’s natal star… was the sign then occupied by the Moon”, in J. Diggle and F.R.D. Goodyear, A.E. Housman’s Classical Papers, 1972, 868.
xiv F.E. Adcock (1886-1968), ‘The Interpretation of the Res Gestae Divi Augusti, 34. I’, The Classical Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 3, (1951), 130-135 (134).
xv There was an underlying tradition that supported each Caesar’s assumption that he was the prime source of Rome’s improvement: see A.H. Mcdonald’s review of S. Weinstock, Divus Julius (Oxford 1971) in CR, Vol. 26, No. 2, (1976), 222-225, in which Mcdonald wrote “the convention of treating Roman recovery as ‘re-founding’ was well established by the time of Sulla” (223). Julius Caesar (parens patriae) conceived of and founded new definitions for his powerful role; Augustus (pater patriae) founded the Roman Principate. Of conditions under Tiberius (salus patriae), it later would be written – to paraphrase – that ‘the Empire was revisited by another Golden Age’, so Philo, Legatio 13. The Golden age was an idea based on astronomical considerations: the realignment of planets to their original positions would produce a certain beneficent year, at the end of which a grand age occurs: see E. M. Smallwood, Philonis Alexandrini Legatio Ad Gaium, (2nd ed., Leiden: Brill, 1970), 163.
xvi Indicators were in the public domain. See F.E. Adcock, ‘A Note on Res Gestae Divi Augusti. 34. 3’, The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 42, (1952), 10-12, where he wrote (12) “…it was only Tiberius, and that only in A.D. 13-14, who could be said to enjoy equal potestas with Augustus as holder of the Tribunicia Potestas”; but see the main arguments of E. Kornemann (1868-1946), whom Adcock cites, from ‘Die Amtsgenossen des Augustus’, Philologische Wochenschrift, Leipzig 1932, col. 227ff.
vii In ancient languages, phrases with multiple meanings are not uncommon. Even cuneiform had them: “A cuneiform writing system opens up many possibilities for sign- plays and double entendres”: see Niek Veldhuis, A Cow of Sin, (Groningen 1991), 19. In addition, cf. T. Maguire, ‘Miscellanea’ which treats of the triple entendre of Clytaemnestra, Aesch. Choeph. 691-692 (Dind., 5th ed.), in Hermathena VI (Dublin; London 1888), 161; and D.F.S. Thompson, Catullus (Toronto 1997), 246 where one reads “Certainly, however, Ovid (Tr. 1.1.15-16) plays on the double meaning of pes: vade, liber, verbisque meis, loca grata saluta: / contingam certe, quo licet illa pede.”

Darrell Sutton publishes widely on ancient texts

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Brief Encounter

Haus der Wannsee Konferenz, credit Wikipedia

Brief Encounter

Peter Longerich, Wannsee: The Road to the Final Solution, first published as Wannseekonferenz: Der Weg zur Endlösung (2016), translated by Lesley Sharpe and Jeremy Noakes, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2021, Notes, Bibliography, Appendix, Index, ISBN 978-0-19-883404-5, reviewed by Frank Ellis

The twentieth century may well come to be known as the age of genocide, not because what was formally defined as such in the mid 1940’s represented something new in man’s affairs – humans have always engaged and even revelled in mass slaughter and enslavement of the “other” – but because of the frequency and severity of the slaughter. What made the genocides of the twentieth century unique (so far) was the fateful combination of technology (rail, telephones and radio), powerful, centralised government bureaucracies with access to huge amounts of personal information, dedicated enforcement and extermination agencies, vastly improved methods of efficient mass killing and, above all, exceptionally aggressive ideological worldviews – Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism, National Socialism and Maoism – that sought to justify mass extermination (genocide) as necessary and desirable, the mandate of History.

The Holocaust (the Jewish Catastrophe) was a process. Victims were demonised, defamed, dehumanised, dispossessed, deported and then destroyed. Their suffering and deaths were then denied, something that has continued in various forms since 1945. The Wannsee Conference, the subject of Peter Longerich’s book, was a critical event in the process of the genocide. Here, in this lakeside villa, a small group of NS-Germany’s top administrative functionaries, invited by Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA), discussed how to resolve what was called the Jewish question.

Reinhard Heydrich, credit Wikipedia

Whether on 20th January 1942, the invitees were struck by their surroundings is not recorded, but Longerich is impressed enough to note that ‘The beautiful location contrasts starkly, however, with the purpose of that meeting in 1942’.[1] This observation is an excellent example of the pathetic fallacy. Why should the beauty of the location contrast with what was discussed at this meeting? There is no inherent contrast between malevolence and beauty. Beauty, imposing accommodation, style, luxury, generous hospitality, comfort and peaceful surroundings lend themselves well to planning evil since the critical faculties are blunted, the readiness to ask hard-headed questions and demand answers is suppressed. Today, this is known as corporate hospitality. Moreover, as was demonstrated by Solomon Asch in the 1950s, a meeting is the ideal forum in which psychologically weak participants can be pressured to agree to policies, about which, absent such pressure, they might well have expressed doubts or dissented. After the war, Ministerialdirigent Friedrich Kritzinger (representing the Reich Chancellery), admitted he had had doubts, but went along with Heydrich’s proposals anyway. Kritzinger’s half-hearted acknowledgment came after a copy of the minutes of the Wannsee Conference – copy number 16 given to Martin Luther (representing the Foreign Ministry) – had been discovered by the Allies  in March 1947. These minutes were the sole-surviving copy, and in view of the recipient’s name – also that of Germany’s most famous and anti-Semitic theologian – there is a grim irony in their discovery and a reminder that the Jewish question did not just appear from nowhere in 1933.

When one hears the word Wannsee, one does not just recall a magnificent building set in beautiful surroundings. One thinks of the German word Wahnsinn (madness, insanity), yet this, too, is misleading. Heydrich, SS-Obersturmbahnführer Adolf Eichmann (RHSA) and SS-Gruppenführer Heinrich Müller (RHSA) and his other guests were not mad. They were exploiting the state bureaucratic machine for a specific purpose and the other invitees knew this full well and did what was expected of them, regardless of any private misgivings. Of the fifteen invitees – representatives of the Foreign Ministry, members of the civilian occupation administration in the East and SS functionaries – ten were university graduates, nine were lawyers and eight had doctorates. In other words, higher education and appreciation of beauty does not prevent people from conspiring to pursue evil purposes. Such behaviour was and is not a feature unique to NS-Germany. It is the curse that can afflict all bureaucracies, wherever they are, and in whatever political entity they exist to support. Today, for example, our universities are full of docile mediocrities, who, whatever misgivings they may harbour about the relentless ideological processes destroying higher education, if they have any at all, say nothing and do nothing: they merely submit in ovine and cowardly obedience.

Longerich maintains that when Heydrich issued his invitations (9th December 1941) for the Wannsee Conference that even though ‘several hundred thousand people’ had already been killed by the German occupation regime, Jewish policy had yet to be designated a ‘final solution’.[2] That is not the case. In paragraph 1 of his memorandum to Heydrich, dated 31st July 1941, Göring refers to a ‘Gesamtlösung der Judenfrage im deutschen Einflußgebiet in Europa’. This had been envisaged in a decree issued on 24th January 1939. In his final paragraph (31st July 1941) Göring now instructs Heydrich as follows:

Ich beauftrage Sie weiter, mir in Bälde einen Gesamtentwurf über die organisatorischen, sachlichen und materiellen Vorausmaßnahmen zur Durchführung der angestrebten Endlösung der Judenfrage vorzulegen

(Further, I instruct you to submit to me in the near future a complete draft plan dealing with the preliminary organizational, practical and physical measures to be implemented in pursuit of the final solution of the Jewish question).[3]

What had been envisaged as the ‘Gesamtlösung der Judenfrage’ in January 1939 has now at the end of July 1941 mutated into the ‘Endlösung der Judenfrage’. There is a difference between a ‘total solution’ and a ‘final solution’ and the change in language reflects a definite change in what is being planned for Jews: emigration, ghettoization, isolation and slave labour are not in themselves final or permanent solutions. In other circumstances one might be tempted to see ‘Gesamtlösung’ as synonymous with ‘Endlösung’ but the change in what is planned requires that ‘Endlösung’ be used not as a synonym but to indicate an escalation, and to be interpreted as such by all concerned. The ‘Endlösung der Judenfrage’ is to be understood as the complete extermination of all Jews; it is to be carried out within a specific time frame, with as much secrecy as possible and as quickly and efficiently as possible. In order to satisfy these demands, mass gassing, in contrast to extermination by deliberate and mass starvation used in the Holodomor, was considered the best option. This was understood by all involved in the planning and implementation. As Longerich notes: ‘the unmistakable warnings of annihilation coming from representatives of the regime such as Hitler, Goebbels, and Rosenberg indicate that they were not simply indulging in rhetoric’.[4]

Longerich uses the word genocide to refer to mass shootings and gassings in the summer of 1941, without clarifying that the term genocide had yet to be formulated by Raphael Lemkin (an absentee in Longerich’s book). If the term genocide is to be retrospectively applied to the actions of NS-Germany then it must also be applied to Soviet genocide and deportation programmes. Longerich also seems unaware that the use of mobile gas-killing vans was pioneered by the NKVD in 1937. Is it possible that the Germans got the idea of mobile gas chambers from the NKVD during the period of Soviet-Nazi cooperation in Poland (August 1939-June 1941), or did they develop the technology independently of the NKVD?

One Soviet precedent that impressed the NS-regime, as it pondered solutions to the Jewish question, was the mass deportation of some 440,000 Volga Germans carried out by the NKVD in September 1941. The Germans soon became aware of what had happened, though it is highly unlikely, as Longerich claims, that they learned of what had happened from any public announcement made by Stalin since the Soviet regime, mindful of comparisons that might be made between it and NS-Germany, did everything possible to keep the deportation of the Volga Germans secret. Alfred Rosenberg, for his part, assumed that the deportation of the Volga Germans ‘was tantamount to an intention on the Soviet leadership’s part to murder them’.[5]

The Soviet regime’s deportation of the Volga Germans in 1941 prepared the way for the resumption of deportations of other Soviet national minorities in 1943. But whereas deportations carried out by the Germans – Jews to ghettos and extermination camps, and Russians, Ukrainians and Belorussians to forced labour in Germany – were deemed to be war crimes at Nürnberg, Soviet mass deportations of national minorities, with huge loss of life, though known about in the West, were ignored, and had to wait until the very end of the Cold War and after before any serious scrutiny was possible.

In a volume of declassified Soviet documents published in 2000, FSB archivists, commenting on the decree providing for the deportation of the Volga Germans (28th August 1941), claimed that the pretext ‘for a final solution concerning the expulsion of the Germans [Volga Germans]’ was the fact that retreating Red Army units had been fired on by Soviet ethnic Germans.[6] What grabs the eye is not the cited pretext – in itself nonsense – but the readiness to refer to this mass deportation of Volga German as a ‘final solution’ (okonchatel’noe reshenie), so demonstrating a profound and inadvertent affinity between Soviet and Nazi regimes and their resort to genocide and supporting measures.

Other Soviet methods used to deal with enemies of the regime also impressed the Nazi planners. The emphasis on prophylactic killing is precisely what Beria had in mind when he recommended to Stalin that all Polish prisoners of war being held in NKVD camps be shot. Extermination by slave labour in remote areas was another Soviet method that inspired the Nazi planners. Heydrich and Himmler, for example, as Longerich notes, saw the Soviet slave-labour camps as the ideal place for a homeland for 11 million Jews[7], and in the last month’s of his life rumours abounded in Moscow that Stalin was planning to deport all Soviet Jews to Siberia.

Germany’s deteriorating relationship with the USA also accelerated decision-making about a Final Solution. Theodore Kaufmann’s book, Germany Must Perish (1941), published in the USA, in which Kaufmann called for the sterilisation of Germans – the book is ignored by Longerich – would have been a propaganda gift to Goebbels, since it was consistent with the claim that a merciless race war was being waged against Germany.

The minutes of the Wannsee Conference emphasize the importance of not allowing the more resourceful and able Jews to survive. The aim was to prevent any Jewish revival. The relevant paragraph concludes with a parenthetic warning: ‘Siehe die Erfahrung der Geschichte’/‘See the experience of history’. This wording suggests that Hitler, Himmler and Heydrich, in pursuing the extermination of all Jews, regarded the entire operation as the unfinished business of History: previous attempts to solve the ‘Jewish question’ have all failed, and the Nazis are now going to solve the problem once and for all by mass extermination. This is the real meaning of a ‘Final Solution’.

Since the Historikerstreit in 1986, German historians, especially those in universities, have been intimidated and deterred from making any comparisons between Soviet and National-Socialist genocides. This has resulted in a serious weakness – one apparent in Longerich’s otherwise excellent essay – since their studies promote the view that Nazi crimes, among them genocide, were somehow unique to Hitler’s Germany. This is not the case. All the genocides of the twentieth century have features which are unique to them – the victims being an obvious feature – but the processes which led to the Armenian Genocide, the Pontian Greek Genocide, the Holodomor, Katyn, Holocaust, the mass deportations of Soviet national minorities, the millions of ethnic Germans deported from Eastern Europe at the end of World War II, Mao’s Terror Famine, the Year Zero, the Gukurahundi and the Rwandan Genocide all have features in common.

Nor was the Wannsee Conference the sole conference or meeting of its kind. It was one of a number in which a mixture of ideologically-inspired and fanatically-dedicated men, aided and abetted by larger numbers of weaklings, plotted in comfortable rooms, government offices, jungle clearings, radio stations or under the shade of baobabs to carry out mass murder and genocide. When Julius Malema, South Africa’s very own Julius Streicher, boasted on Turkish television in 2018 that he and his fellow black activists have ‘not called for the killing of white people, at least for now. I can’t guarantee the future’, and the Chinese government, meanwhile, pursues a policy of indirect elimination of Uighurs – forced abortions and birth control (extermination by stealth) – it is clear enough that the age of genocide is not over.

Editorial note; the Wannsee Conference lasted only ninety minutes

Bones from the Cambodian Killing Fields, credit Wikipedia

[1] Longerich, p.1
[2] Longerich, p.35
[3] IMT, Blue Series, 710-PS, Vol  XXVI, pp.266-267
[4] Longerich, p.38
[5] Longerich, pp.19-20
[6] Organy gosudarstvennoi bezopasnosti SSSR v Velikoi Otechestvennoi Voine: Sbornik dokumentov, Tom vtoroi, kniga 1, Nachalo 22 iiunia – 31 avgusta 1941 goda, izdatel’stvo “Rus’”, Moscow, 2000, p.541
[7] Longerich, p.87

Dr Frank Ellis is a military historian

© Frank Ellis 2022

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Res Publica


Res Publica

Bill Hartley, on community assets

A recent newspaper report claimed that more than 11,000 pubs, restaurants and hotels have closed in Britain over the past two years. Clearly lockdown will have played a part, though doubtless some were teetering on the edge before the pandemic hit. Rural pubs have been particularly affected and often it’s the location. Hidden away up a country lane or in an isolated village may have been fine back when the  labour force trudged in from nearby fields but the demographics of villages has changed and if the locals won’t use the place then passing trade may not be enough.

A fight back began some years ago with the growth of community pubs. Of course pubs were always about community but the idea is that the place is seen as a broader resource. Even government began to recognise this with the passing of the Localism Act (2012). The Act gives people the right to step in and save what is recognised as a community asset. When it comes to pubs there is plenty of advice available and many success stories. Both CAMRA and the Plunkett Foundation offer information, to assist those who may be considering this approach.

In North Yorkshire close to Richmond is a small village whose pub closed in 2008. Originally it was owned by the operator but subsequently fell into the hands of a Pubco. For any establishment in need of some support such an acquisition can be the equivalent of a wasting disease. Pubco’s have been described in the financial press as property companies who sell beer. Should the pub be doing well then the company is happy to celebrate the achievement. Any place in need of help may get a make do and mend response at most. In fairness the people they get to run such places aren’t always the best either. At this particular pub the tenant who presided over its demise had an obsession about parking. Fail to meet his (unwritten) rules and the offenders’ registration number would be announced in the bar. The miscreant would then have to slink out under the gaze of other customers, probably never to return.

Since then the pub has remained empty. The company sold the property to a developer who intended to convert the place into a private house. A few enterprising villagers formed a committee to resist this and the council went further, ensuring that the pub couldn’t be sold as a private house. The local MP Rishi Sunak threw in his support. Remarkably, this small committee (originally only three people) has succeeded in raising £250,000, though to fully realise their plans £325,000 is needed.

The idea is to renovate the pub so that it will have multiple uses: café, meeting place etc. and money will be needed to fit out the building, which is now little more than an empty shell. It may be some time yet, then, before the pub reopens. The question is will this multiple usage approach allow the pub to succeed as a community resource? It may depend on what is meant by community.

There is a website which describes the village as ‘picturesque’ and fleetingly it is. The road through is flanked by houses built in the local stone. This was the original village with its two farms providing employment. Things have changed since the time when the village was largely self contained. It has expanded and the approaches are now filled with a depressing wilderness of bungalows and other more recent buildings, few of which enhance the village’s aspect. The increase in population hasn’t saved other local services: the school, shop and post office are long gone. People who move into villages often have no interest in supporting local businesses; they bring with them their suburban shopping habits and this means the supermarket. Older residents of North Yorkshire villages can reel off the various shops and other services which have disappeared over the last two or three decades. If a shop still survives then it helps if the village straddles a busy road, since selling sandwiches and over priced cups of coffee is often more lucrative than relying on those residents who still shop locally.

A clue to the future prospects of the pub and the attitude of some locals is provided by the fate of the old post office. The same company which bought the pub also acquired this building and applied for it to be demolished, intending to build a house on the plot. Whilst the demise and sale of the pub attracted little attention at the time, things were different with the post office. The plot comes without space for car parking. This prompted a reaction by those with a proprietorial interest in ‘their’ piece of public road. An enclave of retirees and others was moved to protest with a vehemence that didn’t accompany the closure of the pub. Nine objectors came forward and a petition attracted 31 names. Essentially the unspoken message was: with no parking exclusive to the property, the occupants of any house built there would encroach on the established parking spaces of the neighbours. Someone was rather more creative, pointing out to the council that there would be a visibility problem for cars turning onto the busy main road. This succeeded and permission was refused.

The pub, which is close by, has only a small amount of parking space (perhaps that last landlord had a point) and those with long memories recall that the overspill was accommodated along the main road. There is a palpable sense in the newsletter produced by the committee that they anticipate parking related hostility. This is unsurprising following the reaction to the old post office proposal. A local landowner is willing to convert some nearby grazing land into a car park, which of course will be another planning hurdle to overcome. It’s unlikely that all villagers will welcome a car park in close proximity, even though this will be an important facility to ensure the success of the pub. Hostility may be muted at present, because even with the purchase price raised there is still a long way to go.

Community asset or not, passing trade is likely to be the key to the future success of this pub. The changed demographics helped bring about its demise and customers for the core business will need to be attracted from further away. This means travel by car and competition for parking spaces. Some incomers tend to be more interested in location than community and seem to prefer living insular lives. Not to be inconvenienced is a priority among such people and when it comes to car parking it remains to be seen whether they will tolerate the intrusion of outsiders. The reopening of the pub may be community asset that some can do without.

Editorial endnote; the problem identified by Bill Hartley is not confined to the countryside. The Ealing Park Tavern, shown above, has been boarded up for some time

William Hartley is a former Deputy Governor in HM Prison Service 

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ENDNOTES, January 2022

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, credit Wikipedia

ENDNOTES, January 2022

In this edition; Stuart Millson on composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

When one thinks of English music, one thinks immediately of Edward Elgar, or Ralph Vaughan Williams: figures who represent a very rooted, ancestrally-determined Englishness. Few people realise, however, that during the turn-of-the-century period, a composer was at work in Britain whose single-minded pursuit of excellence and the romantic spirit in our musical tradition placed him at the pinnacle of the profession. Most famous for his great choral-orchestral work, Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast, this artist also produced dozens of other beautifully-written works, including chamber quintets and sonatas, an orchestral Ballade, and a Violin Concerto – recorded by both the Chandos and Lyrita labels.

The composer was Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (not to be confused with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the poet) and, at first glance, he could be considered a musical outsider. Samuel was born in London in the August of 1875, the son of a doctor from Sierra Leone and an Englishwoman. His talent was marked out from a very early age: in 1890, at the age of just 15, he entered the prestigious Royal College of Music, that powerhouse which sought to establish an English, or British national school of music. The violin was his instrument, and by 1892 the gifted young student joined the composition classes of the great and somewhat forbidding Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, an Irishman and a disciple of Brahms.

A new commission

During those years, Samuel wrote much chamber music, including a piano quintet; and we should not forget that Elgar’s monumental quintet (often seen as one of the greatest English chamber works) was to come some 20 years later. However, Elgar – often seen as the unofficial composer-laureate of Britain – was taken with Samuel’s music, and before long he was offered a commission for a new work for the Gloucester Festival, the orchestral Ballade in A Minor.

This opportunity came about as a direct result of Elgar’s encouragement, and it is interesting to note that Elgar was still one year away from the premiere of the piece that made his name: the Enigma Variations of 1899. Perhaps Elgar, a Roman Catholic and an outsider in social terms, sympathised with this young, mixed race composer.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s next step forward was the first performance of Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast, conducted by Stanford, no less. Two further sections of the Hiawatha legend followed: The Death of Minnehaha, and Hiawatha’s Departure (written in 1900); and other requests ensued, for scores for Shakespeare and Alfred Noyes plays, such was Samuel’s facility and gift for tuneful accessibility.

Conducting the New York Philharmonic

Yet his talents were not just confined to composing: this unassuming man was invited to conduct the New York Philharmonic, at that time under the baton of Gustav Mahler. So successful was Coleridge-Taylor that he became known as “the black Mahler”; and in 1904 he was granted the exceptional honour of being invited to the White House by the President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt.

A professor of music at Trinity College of Music, London, and later at the Guildhall School of Music, it seemed that this remarkable composer would become one of this country’s most famous musical figures. And yet it was not to be. At the age of just 37, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor collapsed at West Croydon railway station and died a few days later of pneumonia. One would like to think that the composer’s family were well-provided for, considering the success of the Hiawatha music. But Samuel had sold the work outright, and so not one penny in royalties ever came to the family.

A pre-echo of Eric Coates

Today, we have almost forgotten this skilled weaver of soaring and mellow tunes, although it was pleasing to see the Overture to The Song of Hiawatha appear recently on a new disc of British overtures, from the Chandos record label. And his lyrical Petite Suite de Concert was performed at the English Music Festival by the BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Martin Yates – the piece almost a pre-echo of the well-crafted, light-music style of Eric Coates.

Coleridge-Taylor, championed by Elgar, was a part of the English Musical Renaissance, and he is doubtless despised by cultural commentators on the liberal-left for not undertaking a “critique” of Anglo-Saxon hegemony and imperialism. Instead, this unusual composer gives us a clear example of something quite different: the success of Victorian and Edwardian England in absorbing and promoting an outsider.

Suggested recordings:

Coleridge-Taylor, Violin Concerto in G minor, Op. 80. LPO/Nicholas Braithwaite, Lorrain McAslan, violin.
Overture to The Song of Hiawatha (with other British concert overtures), BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Rumon Gamba, Chandos label, 10797.

Stuart Millson is the Classical Music Editor of The Quarterly Review

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Canon, to the Right of Them

W E B Du Bois

Canon, to the Right of Them

Colonialism and Modern Social Theory, Gurminder K Bhambra & John Holmwood, Polity, 2021, 257 pp, hb, reviewed by Leslie Jones

The toxic legacy of European colonialism and imperialism underpins the “populist ressentiment and rejection of multiculturalism” of the white working class in Europe and the USA [i],  according to Bhambra and Holmwood. Assumptions of racial superiority drive “populism and zenophobic hostility to minorities and immigrants”.[ii] The authors dismiss the notion of a threat to European identity, which they attribute to “the loss of an advantage over people who were previously excluded and dominated”.[iii] In short, ‘white privilege’ is key to understanding contemporary politics. Indicatively, Black Lives Matter is described herein as “…the self-organisation of African-American communities and the necessary protection of their lives”.[iv] And Alexis de Tocqueville is credited for acknowledging, in Democracy in America, that whites were more prejudiced about blacks in states which had never known slavery.

Race, Bhambra and Holmwood contend, has been neglected by social theory, witness the exclusion until recently of W. E. B. Du Bois from the sociological canon. The authors, accordingly, undertake an immanent critique of the latter, in particular of Marx’s analysis of capitalist society. His predictions of immiseration, proletarianization and social boulversement, as they remind us, were confounded by the construction, pioneered by Bismarck, of national welfare states. Certain citizens, to wit, the indigenous populations, benefitted from the distribution of a ‘colonial patrimony’. Racialised hierarchies emerged, contingent on the latter. A ‘caste-like relation’ was thereby superimposed on the supposedly universal class relations posited by Marx – witness the stark contrast between nominally free labour in Europe and the various forms of slave labour in the colonies and empires.

Colonialism and Modern Social Theory is evidently influenced by Lenin’s theory that imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism. Lenin maintained that a “privileged stratum of the proletariat in the imperialist countries [the so-called ‘aristocracy of labour’] lives partly at the expense of hundreds of millions of members of uncivilised nations.” [v] J A Hobson, likewise, in Imperialism (1902), emphasised the ‘economic parasitism’ that had enriched the bourgeoisie of the imperialist great powers and which enabled them to “to bribe its lower classes into acquiescence”.[vi] European colonialism and imperialism were based on “conquest and extraction”, assert Bhambra and Holmwood, in similar vein. Native populations were subjugated because according to the stadial theory of social evolution, they were less civilised.

The gravamen of Colonialism and Modern Social Theory is that sociology’s emergence “coincided with the high point of western imperialism”[vii] and was profoundly influenced by this historical context. This contention is applicable, to some degree, to Max Weber, whose life and career broadly coincided with the rise and fall of the German Empire and for whom “the development of a national [German] identity… and German national greatness”[viii] were fundamental.

Whereas Weber insisted that the sociologist be rigorously objective, he believed that the choice of subject matter or goals of any enquiry would and should be informed by values. Thus, in his 1895 inaugural lecture as Professor of Political Economy at Freiburg, subsequently published as ‘The Nation State and Economic Policy’, Weber adopted “a German policy and a German standard”.[ix] Joachim Radkau considers the Freiburg address “one of the earliest high-profile signals” that Germany should strive to become a world power by securing overseas territories.[x] Weber viewed international affairs à la Darwinism, as an ‘eternal struggle’ between nation states.

The basis of Weber’s Freiburg address was his empirical study of agricultural workers east of the Elbe, where German peasants were being displaced by Poles. Weber considered the very presence of the latter as “problematic for the development of national identity”, ditto that of the Jews. He advocated building up small holdings for native Germans in the East, as a bulwark against the Slavs. Polish peasants and casual labourers were allegedly prepared to work at lower rates on the large estates of the Junkers. Indeed, Weber claimed that the “small Polish peasant…[is] prepared to eat grass”. And he noted that whereas the Polish peasants in the east were Catholics, the more enterprising and progressive local German population was mainly Protestant. Here we have the germ of Weber’s idea of “cultural deficits associated with race or religion”, and of an “inner compulsion to work”, as elaborated in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.[xi]

To paraphrase Talcott Parsons, who now reads Marx? Marx’s reputation, like that of Durkheim, is in sharp decline whereas Weber’s goes from strength to strength. It will doubtless withstand this admirably written and researched attempt to decolonize the canon.[xii]

[i] Colonialism and Modern Social Theory pvii
[ii] Ibid., p22
[iii] Ibid., pix
[iv] Ibid., pix
[v]  V I Lenin, Imperialism and the Split in Socialism
[vi]  Hobson, quoted in Imperialism and the Split in Socialism
[vii] Colonialism…, p5
[viii] Weber, quoted in Ibid. p117
[ix] Weber, quoted in Ibid., p116
[x] Joachim Radkau, Max Weber; a Biography, p128. And see “Minimising Max’, Leslie Jones, QR, Summer 2010
[xi] Colonialism… p119. What precisely turns peasants or slaves into reliable wage earners? See‘Max Weber and the Souls of Black Folk’, Christopher McAuley, Church Life, Feb. 2020
[xii]  So will that of Herbert Spencer, Bhambra and Holmwood’s negative comments (p15) notwithstanding

Dr Leslie Jones is the Editor of Quarterly Review

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Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema RA, Sappho and Alcaeus, credit Wikipedia

THE CAMBRIDGE GREEK LEXICON, ed. James Diggle et al., Vol. I A – I; Vol. II K – Ω, Cambridge, 2021, $84.99. Pp. i-xxiii, 1;1529, reviewed by Darrell Sutton

Sophists in ancient Greece employed figures of speech in formal addresses and publicized their rhetorical skills through sophisticated arguments. As collectors of proverbs, tales and choice terms, certain Sophists created crude glossaries to clarify the gist of Homer’s idiom and that of other authors. That impetus did not die with them. Scholars in the medieval age, as well, lacked suitable lexical tools. And this deficiency induced a handful of persons to compile lists of words for their own private tuition and for personal reference. Manuscripts which contained intelligent marginalia or scholia were usually added by individuals whose knowledge of that idiom ranged widely. In time, glossaries proved to be useful for research and writing.

In contrast to other ancient tongues, Greek writings have for a long time been supplied with lexical tools. This advantage is hard to quantify. The old stand-by dictionary compiled by Liddell-Scott-Jones, also known as LSJ, because of its later supplements by H.S Jones, was used by all. First published in 1843, it became the yardstick by which other lexicons were measured. In due course it was abridged, revised, and augmented several times. But shortcomings soon became apparent. Notable scholars referred to its deficiencies both orally and in print, especially its treatment of terms in the Septuagint. John Chadwick (1920-1998), an erudite forerunner in the study of Linear B texts, provided the Greek scholarship and lexical insights which contributed significantly to procedural improvements to Greek lexicography. Chadwick’s genius in this regard was deployed deftly in his volume Lexicographica Graeca (1996).

The faculty board of classics at Cambridge, under the chairmanship of Professor James Diggle, have just completed a praiseworthy project. Work towards its completion continued for over two decades (see Preface pp.vii-viii). The Cambridge Greek Lexicon (henceforth CGL) is unique in the way it highlights the development of a locution’s nuances and meanings over time, rather than adhering strictly to chronological and grammatical norms. Excellent digital resources were utilized. CGL covers major authors that span the eras from Homeric literature to Plutarch’s Lives.

Initially, the CGL project called for a revision of the Intermediate Greek Lexicon (1889) of LSJ. That plan soon seemed impracticable. Project members devised a new one. It was agreed that an altogether new dictionary based upon fresh and independent readings was required. The result of their labors is now before us and it is impressive.

Vulgar terms or speech are neither neglected nor omitted. In this electronic age with technology at one’s fingertips, specific uses for each expression can be examined in the original sources. But full citational references would have enriched these two volumes further. Comparison should be made with entries from the Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek (see Appendix below). However, supplied below is an extract from the CGL (Vol. II, p.884).

λῡ´ω vb. | ep.pres. usu. λυ˘´ω | impf. ἔλυˉˉον, ep. λυ˘´ον | fut. λῡ´σω | aor. ἔλυˉˉσα | pf. λέλῠκα || mid.: impf. ἐλυˉˉόµην, ep. λῠόµην | aor. ἐλυˉˉσάµην | ep.athem.aor. (w.pass.sens.) λυ˘´µην, 3sg. λύτο, also λῦτο, 3pl. λύντο || pass.: fut. λῠθήσοµαι | aor. ἐλυ˘´θην, ep.3pl. λύθεν | pf. λέλῠµαι, ep.3sg.opt. λελῦτο | λελῡ´σοµαι || neut.impers.vbl.adj. λυˉˉτέον || The sections are grouped as follows: (1–8) set loose (fr. another’s control, a physical constraint or unwelcome condition), (9–18) loosen a fastening or sthg. fastened, (19) make loose or slack, (20– 24) disintegrate, dissolve, break up, or weaken, (25–29) bring to an end, (30–35) discharge, fulfil or pay off. |

  1. set loose (a person, fr. restraint or captivity); release, free —a person, their hands (sts. w.gen. or prep.phr. fr. bonds or sim.) Hom. Hes. Alc. Pi. Hdt. Trag. + || mid. free oneself Od. || pass. be freed Od. A. Hdt. E. +; (of a people) be given liberty —w.inf. to speak freely A.
  2. set loose (an animal); unyoke —horses, mules (freq. w.prep.phr. fr. a chariot or wagon, or fr. beneath the yoke) Hom.(sts.mid.) —oxen Hes.; untether —horses Il.; unleash —a dog X. —a sow Ar.
  3.  set free (fr. sthg. unwelcome); set free, release —a person (w.gen. or prep.phr. fr. troubles, pain, fear, ruin, or sim.) Od. Sapph. Pi. B. Trag. +; (mid.) Hes. A. || pass. be freed —w.gen. fr. pain
  4. (of a pillaging warrior) app. free, strip —houses (w.gen. of their valuables) Pi.
  5. (usu. in military ctxt.) release in return for payment; release, ransom —a captive (sts. w.dat. to someone, sts. w.gen. for a price) Il.; restore —a corpse, a slain man’s armour (to the enemy) Il. || mid. purchase the release of, ransom —a captive or corpse Il. Hdt. Att.orats. +; (gener., without notion of payment) secure the release of, rescue —someone Od. Pi. || pass. (of a captive or corpse) be released or ransomed Il. +
  6. || mid. buy the freedom of —a slave girl Hdt. Ar. D. || pass. (of a slave girl) be freed —w.gen. for a large sum of money Hdt.
  7. || mid. buy back —a horse (fr. its new owner) X.; redeem —a piece of land (fr. the mortgagers) D.
  8. (wkr.sens.) release (fr. one’s control), relinquish, give up —royal power Pi.
  9. loosen (a fastening); loosen, undo, unfasten, untie —bonds or sim. A. E. Ar. —a noose (w.gen. fr. someone’s neck) A. E. —a ship’s mooring-cables Od. E. —its tackle, its sail Od. hHom. Archil. || pass. (of ropes) be undone hHom.; (of stitches, fastenings) come undone Od. E.
  10. loosen or unfasten (fr. the body); loosen, undo, unfasten —someone’s belt or breastplate Il. —a dead man’s armour (as plunder) Il.(mid.) —someone’s shoes A. —one’s clothing S. —a head-dress (w.prep.phr. fr. oneself) Od. || mid. undo, take off —one’s breast-band Il. Ar. —one’s belt Hdt. || pass. (fig., of the yoke of despotism) be loosened or removed A.
  11. (specif., of a man) loosen, untie —a woman’s girdle (as a prelude to sexual intercourse) Od. hHom. Alc. Mosch.; (of a woman) —her girdle Pi. AR. —(fig.) her maidenhood E.; (mid., of a woman) —her girdle (in childbirth) Call.
  12. Ii mid. let loose or down —one’s hair Bion
  13. 13 unloose (fr. moorings), release, unmoor —a ship’s stern E.; (periphr.) —a ship’s course (i.e. unmoor it and set it on course) E.
  14. 14 (of a bird) release (fr. its throat), let out —its song Ar.
  15. 15 untie, undo —a knot Hdt. Plu. —(fig.) a knot of words E.; (intr., fig.) untie a knot (i.e. resolve a difficulty) S.; (of a dramatist) unravel a plot Arist.

Although only 15 connotations are displayed in the excerpt, in total there are 35 of them given under ‘λῡ´ω’. The editors express themselves resolutely, even redundantly at times. As for the lexicon’s presentation, there is a two-column layout for each page in a clear font, and granting that it is not the case above, explanatory data are slightly indented below the main entry, the latter of which always is bold-faced. Clearly readers are not burdened with a cluttered arrangement; but the abbreviations (pp.xxi-xxiii) must be mastered to make the best use of this resource. Each entry is depicted with its part of speech or functional label, root, and sometimes its modified form as it appears in various epochs, e.g. Lyric, Attic etc. If the main entry is of compound form it is hyphenated. Guidewords are in the header of each page, also conveniently boldfaced. In defining each entry, nuances are numbered for easy reference. And the name of the ancient author in which the word-form can be found is noted down.

All Greek words/forms are accented appropriately after the main entry. Therefore Greek lexemes are not inserted into the numbered subsets of definitions. Ancient authors and grammatical tags (i.e. act., pass., aor.), too, are listed in the numbered sense-divisions. Good decisions were made regarding variant readings. Where recorded, Greek homographs and homophones are verified. All the same, transliterations for the correct pronunciation of words are not offered.

This lexicon is innovative. Unlike the LSJ intermediate dictionary, CGL editors organize entries in accordance with the meanings of words, chronicling their growth and expansion through the centuries. Moreover, explanatory definitions in CGL replace the bare translations that once obscured a word’s more general meaning. Older dictionaries confined themselves to ordinary translation, narrowly limiting its meaning to a specific context and not to broader elucidation through paraphrase. One may have mixed feelings about this technique. But the use of this method explains why, in CGL, so many shades of meaning are furnished.

Obscenities are not expurgated but given in contemporary English. Homer, Sappho, the Gospels and Acts, even Plutarch, are not omitted. An added bonus is that the bulk of the Greek of the epistles of the New Testament are lexically defined in CGL. Papyri and fragments were utilized. Though less represented, there must be more interest among academics to grasp the subtleties of the Greek of the Septuagint than that of the tragic fragments. Among other mysterious persons in antiquity, nothing is known of Hermolochus, yet, whoever he was, memory of him is preserved in CGL by the few words in D.L. Page (1908-1978), Poetae Melici Graeci.(1962). Still, readers who delight in comparative philological investigations will need to look elsewhere. Shrewd analyses, founded upon surveys of ancient usage, reflect the editors’ extensive studies, and guarantee the utility of these volumes for years to come.

Something to consider. CGL is descriptive and not necessarily prescriptive in design. The marketplace can stand both types. It would not be surprising to one day find editors of critical editions of classical texts, especially ones that lack translations, forming their own concise glossaries as appendices for their editions, to propound to readers what he or she believed an ancient author meant when making use of a particular word or phrase. Words in CGL seem to be classified impartially. Some MS spellings that were discarded long ago by text-critics in their study of the relations of medieval MSS, appear here, but are used for comparative purposes. All in all this opus is noteworthy.

The field of lexicography is hardly an appealing area of interest. Ample imagination is needed to succeed in this specialty. Individuals drawn to it tend to enjoy orthography, appraising curious readings, puzzling out archaic inscriptions and their syntactical arrangements; but the study of history, literature and their interpretation are important influences too. No canon of beliefs exists in this discipline because lexicographers are piloted only by principles that are shaped, and regularly reassessed, in the course of learning and mastering the language. CGL is veritable proof of that claim.

Students and scholars whose duties require specific information for their ancient Greek lexical research will find CGL to be a safe and reliable source. It serves as a model for the future construction of intermediate dictionaries in any language. CGL is compendium of new and true designations, a noble example of the original pathways now being paved through the science of lexicography, and it is founded upon a secure philological basis.

Beautifully bound in navy blue, these two stout volumes are impeccably edited. Here and there, graphics, or visual arts, were needed to illustrate numerous entries.

Appendix:  Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek

ἁγίζω [ἅγιος] impf. ἥγιζον || aor. ἥγισα Epigr. 2.245.2 || pf. mid. pass. ἥγισμαι L. EGud. || aor. ptc. pass. ἁγισθείς; ➊ act. to sanctify, consecrate, with sacrifices Aristoph. Pl. 681 etc.; Ποσειδαονίῳ θεῷ βούθυτον ἑστίαν ἁγίζων consecrating to the god Poseidon an altar with the sacrifice of a bull Soph. O.C. 1495 ➋ mid. to venerate Alcm. 128 ➌ pass. to be consecrated Pind. O. 3.19 Dion. 1.38.2

ᾰ̓γῑνέω, contr.[ἄγω] ➊ act. to lead, bring, carry Il. 18.493, al. Od. 17.294, al. Hdt. 3.89.3, al. Callim. H. 2.82 etc.; πλοῦτον ἀ. … εἰς ἀρετήν to bring wealth to virtue Crat.ⁱ 18; παιγνίην ἀγινῆτε to take vacation, at schoolHerond. 3.55 ➋ mid. to have brought Hdt. 7.33 ➌ pass. to be led, be brought Arr. Ind. 32.7 etc. • esp. ep. and Ion. pr. and impf. || epic pres. inf. ἀγινέμεναι || Ion. impf. ἠγίνεον, ἀγ- iter. ἀγίνεσκον (ἠγίνεσκον Arat. 111) || fut. ἀγινήσω.

Darrell Sutton is a regular contributor to QR

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Soul on Ice

Shane Doan, credit Wikipedia

Soul on Ice

Mark Wegierski recalls a rare victory over “political correctness”

In April 2007, the Canadian media were convulsed by the allegation that Shane Doan, the captain of the Canadian team at the World Ice Hockey Championships, had uttered an anti-French slur years before – and was therefore unfit to lead the team. In the event, massive public resistance nullified the efforts of various Quebec Liberal and Bloc Quebecois politicians to destroy him.

A number of issues were raised by this cause célèbre. Firstly, the dredging up of a “politically-incorrect” incident from years before, to try to deny a highly talented person some official position or honour, smacked of Stalin’s Soviet Union. Secondly, even if Doan had shouted something egregiously offensive, it would have been unfair to punish him for it. In physical, contact sports, all kinds of things are said in the heat of the moment. A realistic view of human nature would regard such verbalisations as simply part of an often brutal, competitive struggle. It is absurd in itself to try to introduce a blanket ban on so-called “offensive speech” in the context of such often ferocious, competitive sports.

As regards the alleged insult to French-Canadians, the best riposte to Shane Doan – had he actually said something offensive, which in this case is questionable — would have been for a Montreal Canadiens player to shout out some quick counter-jibe. By the end of the game, everything would be happily forgotten. But the Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe treated the incident (or pretended to treat it) it as a matter of utmost seriousness – indeed, as a real threat to Quebec. He thereby demonstrated the incoherence and lack of authenticity of Quebecois nationalism. The latter, especially as represented by the Parti Quebecois led by Andre Boisclair, was morphing into an “anti-nationalist nationalism”. To the extent that the spokespersons of Quebecois nationalism avoided serious discussion of real issues and the authentic continuation and flourishing of their nation, they had to latch on to pseudo-issues that served as surrogates for real debate and national affirmation.

In the Shane Doan case, Gilles Duceppe’s thinking on the issue was informed by the conviction that — because of the ever-greater attention being paid to visible minorities and Aboriginal peoples in Canada — Quebec was not getting enough “respect” and “air-time” in the current-day Canadian system. So he had to throw a fit over something.

As far as inappropriate language goes, insults among groups of various ethnicities occur in almost any society. Certainly, the Quebecois themselves are not especially friendly towards les anglais, either in their language or their methods. The English of Montreal were made to feel so uncomfortable after the 1960s that many of them left the city where their families had lived for generations.

One of the justifications for various Western “codes against hate-speech” today is the supposedly clear and present danger posed to multifarious minorities if members of the so-called majority too freely express themselves. This Left-liberal preoccupation with the dangers of recrudescent fascism is generally overblown. There is a tendency to consider all varieties of traditionalism, conservatism, and nationalism, as something akin to Nazism. Indeed, Western societies are too easily distracted from actual, present dangers, notably those posed by anti-traditional, polymorphous, “hyper-modern” ideologies – as well as the challenge of Islamic extremism – which curiously interlocks with Western “hyper-modernism.”

For a truly confident, robust nationalist, an insult such as that allegedly made by Shane Doan, in the context of an inflamed sports contest, would have had absolutely zero register. Moreover, a person who made a big issue over it would be seen as peevish and petulant. Western “codes against hate-speech” – which are usually applied “asymmetrically” — are of no interest to a serious nationalist.

The irony today is that in many Western nations various infrastructures have been“captured” by ideologies that range from indifference to outright hostility to the nation . This was far more the case in English-speaking Canada than in Quebec, where Quebecois nationalism was able to build up considerable infrastructural strength that – despite certain elements of social liberalism — was permeated to a lesser extent by “hyper modernism” and self-hatred.

The current-day Canadian “official” culture, as far as the putatively Canadian element in it goes, is a failed culture. It has cut itself off from its traditional roots, and can only exist with massive government subsidies. It has almost no influence outside of a few hyper-urban “arts cliques”. Ice hockey in Canada is one of the last, truly unifying elements of the country. This rough-and-tumble sport is arguably a cultural and psychological substitute for the Canadian military, so heavily gutted in the last five decades. Indeed, hockey is one of the last places of refuge of traditional Canada.

Certain elements of Shane Doan’s biography, such as his earnest Christian faith, made him an inviting target for certain politicians. It was certainly cheering to see most of the Canadian public rallying to his side. Yet unfortunately, when it comes to such issues, it generally stays silent.

Mark Wegierski is a Toronto-based writer and researcher

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Some Suggestions for Canadian Conservatives

Second Union Station, Toronto, 1878, credit Wikipedia

Some Suggestions for Canadian Conservatives

from Mark Wegierski

The Canadian federal election of September 20, 2021 was another failure for the Conservative Party of Canada, despite Conservative leader Erin O’Toole’s attempted “move to the centre”. Now, the Conservative Party is consumed by a battle between pro- and anti- O’Toole factions. Looking back at history, the Conservative Party (called the Progressive Conservative party from 1942 to 2003) has largely failed to make an impact on Canadian society, politics, and culture, since the critical election loss of the staunch Tory John Diefenbaker to Liberal Lester B. Pearson, in 1963.

The Canadian Right will make little headway in the teeth of a hostile social, cultural, and political climate, unless it endeavours to give encouragement to the creation of infrastructures in which intellectual explorations of right-wing ideas and philosophies can take place. What is especially needed is a broadly right-of-centre magazine which could serve a mobilizing, galvanizing role similar to the early years of National Review in the United States. Perhaps Candice Malcolm’s True North Canada initiative could grow to include a monthly print magazine

An academic outreach body along the lines of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute in the United States (which publishes scholarly quarterlies and books, as well as offering substantial scholarships) is also urgently required. The ISI embodies a reflective and serious conservatism that moves beyond day-to-day policy issues and merely fiscal and economic conservatism, while not being explicitly tied to any one religion or denomination. Perhaps the Canadian social conservative think-tank Cardus could eventually evolve into serving a similar role in Canada.

Today, in Canada, there are numerous, left-wing, extra-parliamentary infrastructures, whose funding, most of which comes from the federal government, outweighs that of putatively right-wing infrastructures such as the National Citizens’ Coalition and the Fraser Institute (who rely strictly on private donations — and are almost entirely focussed on economic and fiscal issues) by astronomical factors. The effectiveness of these left-wing infrastructures has contributed to the huge intellectual influence of the New Democratic Party (Canada’s social democratic party) particularly on the Liberal Party. Long-time Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau was a former NDP member, and some have indeed suggested that he “hijacked” a somewhat more traditionalist and centrist Liberal Party and moved it in a radical direction. The extent to which many Canadians (especially in the intelligentsia) are beholden to ideas of left-wing provenance cannot be overestimated. Only the building up of infrastructures of a serious intellectual Right in Canada could make a difference in this regard.

The current-day Canadian situation is one of near-total left-liberal intellectual hegemony, with minimal authentic academic or journalistic debate. There is little prospect of  a substantively conservative party ever unseating the Liberals at the federal level. And there is certainly no intellectual balancing of Left and Right. A Conservative electoral triumph – should it ever occur in such a difficult environment – is likely to be overwhelmed by ferocious infrastructural opposition – much in the same way that Brian Mulroney’s huge majority in 1984 was sandbagged. Should they ever form the government again, the CPC must promote an ambitious legislative agenda, trying to challenge almost six decades of relentless left-liberal victories. The ongoing, decades-long, “prior constraint” against the so-called Centre-Right Opposition coming to or ever exercising any meaningful degree of power in Canada fundamentally contradicts Canada’s parliamentary and democratic ideals, as well as betraying its history.

Mark Wegierski is a Toronto-based writer and researcher

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Number Four, Shock and Awe

Mecca Bingo, York Street, credit Wikipedia

Number Four, Shock and Awe

Bill Hartley in bingo world

They say all roads lead to Mecca but in Leeds you first have to go through the bus station. Location is a key feature with Mecca Bingo, most of whose 76 locations in Britain tend to be conveniently situated for public transport. The one in Bradford, for example, boasts that it is served by seven bus routes. Of late the name has been shortened simply to Mecca and though bingo is the core activity it’s now a broader gambling experience. For example, buy a breakfast and it comes with ten free goes on the ‘slots’. The Mecca experience really does start that early in the day, with the first eyes down at 11.00 am and that breakfast can be brought to your table.

The name dates back to the 1930s when the company started out running nightclubs and dance halls. In the 1990s it was sold to Rank and is now of sufficient significance that via a Google search, the name is to be found just below the other Mecca. Over a million people are said to make this version of the hajj each year and the company also operates in Spain and Belgium. Moving with the times, another revenue stream is digital. WhichBingo gave this version an award for best customer service. Continue reading

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Fire in the Hole

Centre de Musique Mediane pour Vikipedia

Fire in the Hole

Zingari (The Gypsies), original version premiered in 1912, music and libretto by Ruggero Leoncavallo, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Carlo Rizzi, Cadogan Hall, Friday 3 December 2021, reviewed by Leslie Jones

“Like a viburnum, I tremble on the breeze”. Ruggero Leoncavallo wrote the libretto for Zingari, which is replete with numerous, supposedly poetic lines. These lovers do go on. Prince Radu on heat brings to mind sexual tourist Lieutenant Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, in Madama Butterfly.

In Leoncavallo’s imagined world, men are possessive, prone to jealousy and to violence. Women, in turn, are fickle and faithless and have weaponised their sexuality. A sexually frustrated man, it would seem, is more manipulable. There are also distinct elements of sadomasochism herein. “Cut me! Burn me!”, Fleana repeatedly implores. In due course, her sometime lover Radu obliges. A psycho-analyst would doubtless delve into the composer’s emotional and sexual history.

There is some splendidly exotic incidental music in this work. In his notes in the programme, however, Ditlev Rindom questions Leoncavallo’s pretentious claim to have “conducted ethnographic research into gypsy music”. He points out that part of the composer’s youth was spent in Cairo. The score, accordingly, is more reminiscent of Aida than of “gypsy ‘exoticism’”. Continue reading

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