Pyrrhic Victory

‘Dionysius, however, makes no mention of two battles at Asculum, nor of an admitted defeat of the Romans, but says that the two armies fought once for all until sunset and then at last separated; Pyrrhus, he says, was wounded in the arm by a javelin, and also had his baggage plundered by the Daunians; and there fell, on the side of Pyrrhus and on that of the Romans, over fifteen thousand men.

“The problems of victory are more agreeable than those of defeat, but they are no less difficult.” – Winston Churchill

Marble Bust of Pyrrhus of Epirus

The two armies separated; and we are told that Pyrrhus said to one who was congratulating him on his victory, “If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined.”

For he had lost a great part of the forces with which he came, and all his friends and generals except a few; moreover, he had no others whom he could summon from home, and he saw that his allies in Italy were becoming indifferent, while the army of the Romans, as if from a fountain gushing forth indoors, was easily and speedily filled up again, and they did not lose courage in defeat, nay, their wrath gave them all the more vigour and determination for the war.’

– Plutarch, The Parallel Lives Volume IX – The Life of Pyrrhus New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.A: Loeb Classical Library Edition (1920) p. 416

Latin Pun

Following General Sir Charles James Napier’s 1843 conquest of Sindh in India, the satirical magazine Punch published a cartoon in which the despatch to his commanders was Peccavi, meaning, in Latin ‘I have sinned’ – I have Sindh.

Charles James Napier

The joke was the pun; but the cartoon was about the sin: the slaughter of some 26,000 Indians for no particular purpose, and even against direct orders not to take Sindh.

After the capture of Lucknow in 1857 Lord Clyde, or one of his officers, is supposed to have telegraphed home, Nunc fortunatus sum I am in luck now.

A certain urinal maker’s trademark in the 19th century was a bee – bee in Latin is apis.

Anaxagoras: Nous

All other things partake in a portion of everything, while Nous is infinite and self-ruled, and is mixed with nothing, but is alone, itself by itself. For if it were not by itself, but were mixed with anything else, it would partake in all things if it were mixed with any; for in everything there is a portion of everything, as has been said by me in what goes before, and the things mixed with it would hinder it, so that it would have power over nothing in the same way that it has now being alone by itself. For it is the thinnest of all things and the purest, and it has all knowledge about everything and the greatest strength; and Nous has power over all things, both greater and smaller, that have . And Nous had power over the whole revolution, so that it began to revolve in the beginning. And it began to revolve first from a small beginning; but the revolution now extends over a larger space, and will extend over a larger still. And all the things that are mingled together and separated off and distinguished are all known by Nous. And Nous set in order all things that were to be, and all things that were and are not now and that are, and this revolution in which now revolve the stars and the sun and the moon, and the air and the aether that are separated off. And this revolution caused the separating off, and the rare is separated off from the dense, the warm from the cold, the light from the dark, and the dry from the moist. And there are many portions in many things. But no thing is altogether separated off nor distinguished from anything else except Nous. And all Nous is alike, both the greater and the smaller; while nothing else is like anything else, but each single thing is and was most manifestly those things of which it has most in it.

DK B 12 – translation by J. Burnet

Gradation Words and Citation Pronunciation

Gradation words are pronounced differently depending on the context in which they are spoken. These words can be pronounced in a strong and weak manner. The strong pronunciation is also called citation pronunciation because of its formal sound. This form often occurs when the word is spoken in an isolation, although, to much usage of the strong version of gradation words makes a speaker sound unnatural and amateurish.

Kowtow [Verb.]

Kowtow, which describes the act of kneeling and touching one’s head to the ground to show respect, used to be a custom in Chinese culture. Now it refers to acting like you’re doing that, whether you actually bow or not.

Kowtow is derived from the Chinese word k’o-t’ou, which literally means “knock the head.” As a verb, kowtow has the sense of “sucking up” or “flattering.” Maybe you’re wondering when it would be appropriate to kowtow. The answer? When you want to worship, show respect, gain favour, or flatter. You might need to kowtow to your teacher if you failed a test, but if you kowtow to all your neighbour’s requests, you might wind up mowing his lawn all summer.