Barry Baldwin ~ Some Bookcases

Reprinted with permission of the author himself, who years ago had to deal with yours truly as a student. Errors in transcription accrue to the latter.

(Companionette to Harry Bruce’s Page Fright: Foibles and Fetishes of Famous Writers, McLelland & Stewart, Toronto, 2009.)

“To keep on sending little frogs… is like keeping on teaching Latin and Greek. What’s that for? Most of the somewhat good writers know little of either” – Fort, Books, p668.

Homer was said to be blind. His name means ‘hostage’. Three links with the sightless, once gaoled epicist John Milton.

The anonymous Contest between Homer and Hesiod (paras315–26) has the latter win a poetic cutting contest. But Hesiod was soon murdered by the brothers of a girl he allegedly seduced. Homer, having composed his own epitaph, fell fatally into a clay pit.

Archilochus (seventh century) was a mercenary soldier, Forsythian “Dog of War”. His name means “Leader of the Pack” (thus, patron saint of the girl group Shangri-Las). His fragmented poems run from nonchalant confession of cowardice (“Threw my shield away, can always buy another”) to squaddie consolation (“Ares is a democrat”), to (fr103) the still-puzzling “The fox knows many things; the hedgehog knows one big thing,” which always fascinated that old windbag Isaiah Berlin (cf. his published letters & Michael Ignatieff’s biography).

Classical writers were rarely Men of Letters’, insulated from reality. Aeschylus fought at Marathon and Salamis, only to perish when an eagle dropped a tortoise onto his bald head. Sophocles was elected to both military and civilian offices, possibly commanding a fleet against the Samian one led by the philosopher Melissus (Noel Coward’s In Which We Serve can’t compete there). When accused by his son of senility, he won the case by reciting lines from his new Oedipus at Colonus – son was adjudged the real lunatic. Three competing versions of his death: 1) asphyxiated from reciting a long passage from his Antigone without drawing breath; 2) choked on grapes at a wine festival; 3) died of joy over his last drama competition.

Euripides is said to have lived in a cave, in a ménage à trois with wife and amanuensis Cephisophon, possibly an unacknowledged co-author (shades of Dorothy Wordsworth). Self-exiled to Macedon, he was eaten alive by wild dogs.

Plato was sold into slavery in Sicily – a pity he was ransomed. Aristotle landed a plum job: tutor to Alexander the Great, at whose poisoning some suspected he connived. Many and various were the foibles and fates of Greek eggheads (no wonder they intrigued Bertrand Russell, no stranger to anecdote and scandal), best read in their Lives by Diogenes Laertius.

Poet-librarian Callimachus was the Greek Philip Larkin. Which hat was he wearing when proclaiming “A big book is a big evil”?- I never met a student who disagreed.

“Water-drinkers can’t write good poetry” (Horace, Epistles, bk 1 no19 vv1-11, instancing Homer and Ennius). Not all agreed: “Water is Best” ran one Greek proverb. Horace was thinking of Athenian comedian Cratinus, said (Aristophanes, Peace, V7700-3) to have died of grief at seeing a wine-jar smashed. He would have agreed with Brendan Behan’s “I’m a drinker with a writing problem.” Not so Julius Cæsar, an energetic author (he dictated his book on grammar while galloping on horseback in Gaul – one both pities and admires his secretary), so temperate as to be dubbed (Suetonius, Caesar, ch53) “the only sober man to ruin Rome”.

Comic playwright Terence (so Suetonius’s biography) was an ex-slave who slept his way into literary eminence (no shortage of modern parallels there), earned unparalleled monetary success with six plays, then simply vanished – a superior ancient Simon Dee.

The ultimate literary workaholic was Pliny the Elder. According to his nephew’s account (Epistles, bk3 no5), he read and wrote through the night, was read to during meals, litter-rides, and bathing, though didn’t prefigure Voltaire in using a mistress’s naked back as book-rest. (Bruce, pp165–71, adducing, e.g., Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, Orson Welles for these and similar habits.)

How to choose between Virgil’s two rival maxims, Omnia vincit amor or Labor omnia vincit?

“Perhaps if Existence should stop sending little frogs, and stop teaching Latin and Greek, a whole would be in a state of amnesia” – Fort, p669.

Classical Corner 137: Fortean Times 273 (May, 2011), p. 19.

 

Barry Baldwin ~ The Old Dupe Pedlars

Reprinted with permission of the author himself, who years ago had to deal with yours truly as a student. Errors in transcription accrue to the latter.

(titular apologies to Tom Lehrer)

“Imposture merges away into self-deception so that only relatively has there ever been an impostor”-Fort Books, p669.

The first classical hoax was Helen of Troy (below). Herodotus (Histories, bk2 chs118-20) believed she remained in Egypt for the war’s duration, Achilles and company spending 10 years fighting over a doppelganger, perhaps a phantom. Some scope for Churchillian cadences here – Some Chick. Some …

Persian king Cambyses should have been succeeded by son Smerdis. But he was dead. 30 the throne usurped by his physical double, one of the Magi. It worked for several months, until the fake Smerdis was detected by one of his wives who, taking her first turn in his bedroom rotation, discovered that he was earless, the result of a previous punishment End of usurper  – Herodotus, bk3 ch361-79. A North Korean solution – keep the dead ruler in official charge – might have been a better bet.

Upon his accession, Tiberius had Augustus’s grandson Agrippa Postumus liquidated in his island exile. Three years later, Agrippa’s slave Clemens masqueraded his late master and appeared in Italy to great acclaim – such impostures were easy in a world without photographs or television, An alarmed Tiberius had him arrested in Rome and done away with in the palace – Tacitus, Annals, bk2 chs3940.

After his ‘artistic’ suicide (think Peter Ustinov in Quo Vadis?) and secret burial, three fake Neros appeared in regular sequence (AD 69, 79, 89) over the next decades, the last one being especially popular with Rome’s eastern enemy, Parthia – obvious chance to cause trouble: Suetonius Nero. ch.57 para2 Tacitus, Histories, bk2 ch. 8-9; Dio Cassius, Roman History, bk64, ch9 para3.

We ought perhaps to ask why the evil Nero remained so talismanic? Shades of those reported Hitlerian epiphanies after the War? Or Nero’s understandable popularity for (e.g.) lavish shows in Rome, rending Greeks all taxation and suchlike goodies?

At the imperial level, hoaxes went both ways. Suetonius (Caligula, ch47) says that the emperor dressed up slaves & prisoners of war to boost an undeserved triumph. Tacitus (Agricola. ch39 para1) levels the same charge against Domitian. I have read that this same stunt was pulled by the modern Caligula, Idi Amin.

In his own lifetime, Nero was duped

(Tacitus, Annals, bk16 chs1-3) by a lunatic Carthaginian, Casellius Bassus, who (claiming many previous successful manifestations) told the cash-strapped emperor that a dream had revealed to him the site of Queen Dido’s immense buried treasure. Hopes ran high, nothing was found, Bassus took refuge in suicide.

Philostratus (Life of Apollonius of Tyana, bk6 ch39) mentions a fellow who sacrificed to Mother Earth in hopes al excavating buried treasure – a tip for lottery hopefuls?

One of the thaumaturge Apollonius’s acolytes was a quack doctor whose come-ons (what spam he would nowadays have generated) included ads for love-charms,  lethal spells against enemies (what Kipling called ‘sendings’), and how to find buried treasure. All this seduced his young rent-boy Alexander of Abanoteichus into pulling off one of the biggest scams in ancient history.

Lucian, who finally unmasked him along with (strange bedfellows) local Christians and Epicureans,  tells the story in his Alexander the False Prophet. His rascally career (AD 150-170), in which he duped more than one high Roman official is attested by coins and inscriptions. Along with a freelance pop-song writer Cocconas, Alexander concocted his grand design, financed by a credulous rich widow. Planted fake prophecies, the cooked up public discovery of divine serpent, oracles delivered in impressive gibberish along with fake religious seizures, and the staging of godly utterances through ‘autophones’ (thereby anticipating The Wizard of Oz) earned him notoriety any modern televangelist would envy.

Lucian reports his comeuppance with undisguised glee “a most wretched death” from gangrened leg and maggots infesting his groin – a fate the likes of Jerry Falwell and Oral Roberts unhappily escaped.

One Byzantine look-in (Agathius, Histories, bk5, chs6-8). Quarrelling with his Constantinopolitan neighbour Zeno, the famous architect-engineer Anthemius (designer of Justinian’s Hagia Sophia) contrived mock earthquakes and thunderstorms with contraptions of boiling cauldrons, elaborate pipes, and powerful solar reflecting devices to terrify his enemy into public flight and consequent embarrassment — strong candidate for  ‘Neighbour From Hell’ status.

Of course, if we believe the much-publicised allegations of Anatoly Fonenko that all ancient history is a medieval delusion, then everything in this column is itself a hoax.

Classical Corner 135: Fortean Times 273 (April, 2011), p. 19.

Barry Baldwin ~ Pie in the Sky

Reprinted with permission of the author himself, who years ago had to deal with yours truly as a student. Errors in transcription accrue to the latter.

(Titular honours shared with policeman-cook Henry Crabbe)

“Every mathematics master dreads the day when he will have to explain the Theorem of Pythagoras” – HF Ellis, The World of A. J. Wentworth, B.A. (Penguin, 1964), p18.

Not that the square on the hippotamus, as we schoolboys dubbed it, plays any part here (anyway, the Babylonians had cracked it long before). Go to Plato’s Meno for an ancient geometry lesson, and for a modern novel Arturo Sarigalli, Pythagoras’ Revenge: A Mathematical Mystery, (Princeton, 2009). Pythagoras (below), who like Socrates and Christ wrote nothing — some late forgeries did circulate —  was the archetypal numbers rather than letters man, thinking them key to the Universe (touch of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and everything else – good man to have beside you when doing the lottery.

Sources for Pythagoras (sixth-century BC. no precise dates) date long after his death, Plato largely ignoring him and Aristotle’s treatise on Pythagoreans being lost. Chiefly the biographies of lamblichus, Porphyry, and (most detailed) Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers (bk8). Best modern thumbnail sketch is Bertrand Russell’s (History of Western Philosophy, NY, 1945, p31): “He may be described as a combination of Einstein and Mrs Eddy. He founded a religion, of which the main tenets were the transmigration of souls and the sinfulness of eating beans.”

Our sage claimed several pre-existences, including that of Trojan War warrior Euphorbus. He once stopped someone beating a dog, claiming to hear an old friend’s voice in its yelps – a very doggy dogma. Living acquaintances included his slave Zamolxis, later equated with Saturn and worshipped by the Getæ tribe (Herodotus – sceptically, Histories, bk 4 ch93).

The bean-ban, one of a long list of his sectarian taboos, coming oddly from the strict vegetarian Pythagoras (direct link with Adolf H here), was variously explained by their flatulence potential or physical similarity to testicles – a lot of balls?). It was his eventual downfall. “‘The unregenerate hankered after beans” (Russell), Crotoniates rebelled, the fleeing Pythagoras refused to cross a bean field to safety, and was lynched – thus the no-have-bean became a has-been.

Another reason for local discontent was probably his ideological objection to fucking, declaring it a sin, especially if indulged in summertime – no beach-orgies on the Costa del Pyth, then.

Admirers called him the wisest man who ever lived. However, his near contemporary, Heraclitus “The Weeping Philosopher’, gibed (1140) “Much learning does not bring intelligence, otherwise it would have taught Pythagoras” – classic academic back-biting, a bit rich from one who (Diogenes Laertius, bk9 chl) thought being buried in cow-dung would cure his dropsy – literally in the shit.

Born on Samos, Pythagoras spent time on Lesbos and Crete, learned his lore in Egypt, and ended up heading a pre-Platonic dictatorship of the philosophers at Croton in southern Italy. For good measure, he is credited with an educational trip to the Underworld. Samos was then ruled by Polycrates, famous for flinging a ring into the sea and having it returned via the belly of a fish (Herodotus, bk3 ch42 – “The ring lost in a lake, and what was found when a fish was caught…” – Fort, Books, p864).

Apart from his trip to Hades, Pythagoras was also credited with space and time travel and omnipresence, making him an ancient combination of Dr Who and Hermione Granger: When terrestrially crossing the River Nessus, bystanders swore they heard it address him by name. Though no ordinary author, he claimed the ability to write on the Moon, achieving this lunography by tracing letters in blood on a looking-glass, which he then reflected on to its disc. He comported a glowing bodily aura, along with a publicly displayed golden thigh. This gained literary gloss through his public utterances, written down by his disciples with the pioneering tag Autos Epha (Ipse Dixit), and circulated as his “Golden Sayings. “…Tomorrow we must have a real go at Pythagoras…” – Ellis, p21

Classical Corner 134: Fortean Times 272 (March, 2011), p. 17

Barry Baldwin ~ Eggheads of the World Unite!

[Editor’s note: this is another never-before-seen effort from Dr Baldwin; we are again grateful that he thought this was an appropriate venue! As always, yours truly takes responsibility for any typos or other editorial negligences which may accrue.]

EGGHEADS OF THE WORLD, UNITE! YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT YOUR YOLKS
(As Adlai Stevenson once proclaimed)

Two mythical heroes, Palamedes and Rhadamanthys, were said to have invented jesting, which is about as daft as the claim of the tenth-century Byzantine dictionary Suda that Helen of Troy’s slave-girl Astyanassa invented all the sexual positions, or the student essay that informed me the Egyptians invented the horse in 1800 BC.

Poor Astyanassa. Her name means “ she’s unable to inspire erections.” – those who can’t, teach.

Earlier civilizations were already chuckling. According to a BBC website news item, the world’s oldest joke is a bit of Sumerian (c. 1900 BC) toilet humour: “ Something which has never happened since time immemorial: a young wife did not fart in her husband’s lap.”

Followed by this thigh-slapper from Egypt (c. 1600 BC): “ How do you entertain a bored Pharaoh? Sail a boatload of young girls dressed only in fishnets down the Nile and invite him to catch a fish.”

Another claimant is Isaiah  37.36: “ The Angel of the Lord smote a hundred and four score and five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians and when they arose early in the morning, Behold, they were all dead corpses.”

In fourth-century BC Athens, there was a Comedians Club. This popular Group of Sixty met to hone their wit in the Temple of Heracles. Alas, we have no specimens of their jests, but do know six of their names, including one nicknamed ‘ The Lobster’ – doubtless a prickly character. No less a fan than King Philip II (father of Alexander the Great) of Macedon paid this sniggering sixty the enormous sum of one talent for a copy of their joke book.

Roman comic playwright Plautus twice alludes to such collections. Scholars Quintilian and Macrobius both attest to a plethora in the early and later Roman empires. The ultimate assemblage was probably that of Melissus, a favourite professor of emperor Augustus, who put together 150 volumes of jokes. Macrobius collected Augustus’ own witticisms together with those of his daughter Julia. Several authors paraded Cicero’s rib-ticklers as well as those of (to us) such lesser lights as Hellenistic harpist Stratonicus and Lucian’s cracker-barrel philosopher Demonax.

One Christian wag, Bishop Sisinnius had his bon mots collected. Feeble stuff, e.g: “ Why do you bathe twice a day? Because I can’t bathe thrice.” In his article ‘ Is Wittiness Un-Christian?’, P. W. Van der Horst generated much debate, provoked by some Early Church Fathers’ contention that Jesus never smiled.

The sole surviving joke book is the Philogelos (Laughter-Lover). Its oldest manuscript is in the Pierpont Morgan Library. It contains 265 jokes, some recycled from section to section, classified by victim under several headings. It is attributed to the otherwise unknown pair Hierocles and Philagrios – the ancient Rowan and Martin? Double authorship is very rare in classical literature. Its date is equally elusive. Joke 62 refers to emperor Philip’s Millennial Games of AD 248. Number 76 about the Serapeum temple in Alexandria cannot post-date its destruction in AD 391. Other jokes are much older chestnuts. The Greek contains several late linguistic features, including Latinisms. There is no formal Christian presence, albeit some have detected elements thereof, with chronological consequences, pointing mistakenly – the Byzantines had no objections to ‘ obscenity’ – to the relative absence of blue jokes. Its manuscripts, plus a muddled quotation from the twelfth-century polymath John Tzetzes, suggest a Byzantine popularity.

Philogelos may have been an intended manual for wannabe gagsters. It has scored one modern success in British stand-up comedian Tom Bowen’s performance based entirely on it, immortalized on YouTube.

Between Byzantium and Bowen, the Philogelos has other progeny, for example Scoggin’s Tudor Jests, sometimes considered a Shakespearean source, and Joe Mlller’s 1739 Jest Book. No surprise that Samuel Johnson published a selection of its jokes two years later. And, a shame that the plan of his contemporary, Classicist Richard Porson, to show all Miller’s jokes came from Philogelos was addled in the egg.

Modern killjoys will condemn many items as ‘ politically incorrect’. I ignore such nonsense, though do blench at number 121 about a crucified runner. There’ll be no twaddle either about theories of humour: people know what makes them laugh and why.

Neo-conservative philosopher Leo Strauss rightly denounced “ the loathsome task of explaining a joke,” which didn’t stop Robert Browning ( Classicist, not the poet) from some outlandish Freudian and Marxist exegeses of items involving inherited wealth.

Now, a mini-Porsonian demonstration of humour’s Universality. Wearing my academic cap, I must wincingly disclose that Philogelos’ most ridiculed butt is the scholastikos, variously translated as ‘pedant’ (Johnson), ‘ absent-minded professor’ (American Albert Rapp), ‘egg-head’ (my own 1983  annotated translation):

The ethnic humour involves cities rather than countries. A typical joke has a swimmer dive under water to avoid getting wet when it rains – very Monty Python.

A talkative barber asking an egghead how he wanted his hair cut was told “ In silence.”

This was a golden oldie, attributed by Plutarch to King Archelaus of Macedon. It is also a fake golden newie: a British newspaper credited politician Lord Hailsham – my protest letter went unpublished. Barber-customer situations are, of course, standard Dagwood.

Two father-hating eggheads agree to kill each other’s fathers. Oedipal jealousy, opined Browning. The real interest is its anticipation of Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train.

An egghead forgot a friend’s letter asking him to buy some books. So, he explained, “ I never got that letter you sent.” Here’s the origin of our Irish Bull, named for Obadiah Bull in Henry VII’s reign. It crops up in Larry Wilde’s The Last Official Irish Joke Book.
Gazing at twins, an egghead remarked,” This one doesn’t look as much like that one as that one like this one.” Also in Wilde, rivalled by a British soccer commentator’s “ At times he looks almost like his double.”

The pillow joke in which an egghead tries to soften an earthenware jar by stuffing it with feathers lived on in the Byzantine bishop-scholar Eustathius, hence to Wilde.
When an alcoholic, while drinking, was told his wife had died, he called out, “ Bartender, some dark wine, please.” In Wilde, a newly-widowed drunk asks for black olives in her martini.

No one paid attention to an egghead fallen down a well, so he climbed out and ordered somebody to fetch him a ladder. Wilde has a similar one about a man who lost a penny in a dark street and went to look for it in a lighter place, a joke I also remember from the old BBC radio comedy The Goon Show.

“ That slave you sold me has just died!” “ Well, he never did that when I owned him.”

This exchange between egghead and shop-keeper prefigures the immortal Monty Python ‘ Dead Parrot’ sketch.

Having bought some trousers too tight to put on, the egghead solved the problem by depilating himself – Fashionistas, take note! Also makes me recall the old Brooke Shields commercial ‘ There’s Nothing Between Me And my Jeans.’

An egghead ill in bed was hungry. Since food never seemed to arrive, he ordered the sundial to be moved into his bedroom. This variant on the classical jokes on gluttons whose bellies are their clocks is paralleled by the likes of Dagwood and Garfield, also the

British children’s comics ‘ Beano’ and ‘ Dandy’.

Seeing his tenants were having a good time, their spiteful landlord evicted them. Peanuts devotees will recognize this as prototype of Lucy’s typical behaviour.

An idiot teacher suddenly looked over to the dunce’s corner and shouted “ Dionysius is misbehaving there!” When another boy objected that Dionysius had not yet arrived, the teacher replied, “ Well, when he gets here then.” Boissonade, the 1848 Swiss editor of

Philogelos produced an identical item from local folk-lore.

A man with bad breath kissed his wife, murmuring “ My Aphrodite, my Hera.” Turning her head, she muttered “ Phew, Zeus” – this depends upon the Greek pun  O Zeus/ Ozeus, O Zeus, You Stink. This is one of a dead of bad breath jokes, no doubt a common affliction, given ancient love of garlic and onions and rudimentary dental hygiene – poet Catullus gibes at a man who brushed his teeth with urine. The emperor Marcus Aurelius optimistically recommended philosophic understanding as the best way to cope.

A shaggy-dog story beginning ‘ An egghead, a bald man, and a barber’ is the only joke with such a beginning, anticipating our (e.g.) ‘ An Englishman, an Irishman, and a Scotsman” – the Greek punchline is sadly missing.

I ‘sex up’ my finale with one of Philogelos’ very few carnal funnies. A Young man said to his randy wife, “ Shall we eat or make love?” “ Whatever you like,” she replied, “ We haven’t any bread.” This one has recurred both as a sixteenth-century French epigram and as a Robbie Burns ballad, ‘ Supper Is Na Ready’ in his The Merry Muses of Caledonia:

Roseberry to his lady says,

My hinnie and my succour
O shall we do the thing you ken,
Or shall we take our supper?
Wi’ modest face, sae fu’ o’ grace
Replied the bonny lady:
My noble lord, do as you please,
But supper is na ready.

So, Philogelos does not get off Scot-free…

Barry Baldwin ~ Definitive Moments

[Editor’s note: this is a never-before-seen effort by Dr Baldwin; we are grateful that he thought this was an appropriate venue! As always, yours truly takes responsibility for any typos or other editorial negligences which may accrue.]

Thought it might be amusingly instructive to compare and contrast definitions of Latin sexual terms in Lewis & Short (1879) and the Oxford Latin Dictionary (1968-82, ‘ lightly revised’, 2112).

Two dictionaries from very different periods, L&S from the Victorian period and OLD from the ‘swinging’ and ‘sexually liberated’ 1960s. One might have expected a greater frankness in the latter. Not always the case.

For spatial reasons, what follows is merely a selection. J. N. Adams, The Latin Sexual Vocabulary  (1982) lists hundreds of Latinisms (pps. 257-65), with exhaustive discussions of them all in his text, for good measure (pps. 266-68), he adds a substantial inventory of Greek terms.

There’s also a lexical cornucopia in F. C. Forberg’s Manual of Classical Erotology, most accessible in the 1966 Grove Press reprint of the 1884 English translation ‘ privately printed for Viscount Julian Smithson M.A., and Friends’ – the dirty devils…

Also relevant, of course, is A. E. Housman’s once-notorious article Praefanda (in Latin), accepted by the Classical Quarterly, only to be withdrawn at proof stage by some panic-stricken trustees, rescued by the less shockable German editors of Hermes, still in Latin, but latterly (Arion 9, 2001, 180-200) Englished or rather Americanized into pungent demotic by James Jayo. Considering how Housman treated so many of their countrymen, it might be thought an exceedingly generous gesture by this German journal.

We start with Suetonius, On Grammarians 23, describing the shamefully indecent way Remmius Palaemon treated women – nowadays, he’d be a prime candidate for #MeToo. Men, too. When he attempted to kiss an unwilling man in a crowd, the latter ‘wittily’ cried out, ‘ Vis tu, Magister, quotiens festinantem aliquem vides, abligurire? (Master, do you wish to mouth everyone whom you see in a hurry? – Rolfe’s old Loeb: wonder what he thought the reader would make of this?).

L&S define abligurio as ‘ to lick away, waste or spend in luxurious indulgence’, adding their favourite formula in mal. part.  to indicate an (in their eyes) obscenity. OLD renders ‘ to eat up’, citing the Suetonius passage without any sexual indication.

Incidentally, Suetonius quotes a popular insult from an Atellan farce ridiculing Tiberius for his treatment of the lady Mallonia who had denounced him as she committed suicide: hircum vetulum capreis naturam ligurire  (the old goat was licking the does – Rolfe)
Let’s hurry on to festinate. Neither dictionary seems to admit this Suetonian passage. Adams and Housman devoted much space to this, the former (p. 144) adding that properare bore a similar sense, also noting a Pompeian graffito (CIL IV. 4758) comporting the apparent sexual neologism festinabiliter.

A colourful online essay, ‘ The Philology of the Orgasm’ by Max Kenneth points out that (e.g.) Spanish correr  and Russian kahnchat are used in this same erotic sense.

L&S tactfully omit Suetonius, Aug.  69. 2, an erotic litany sent in a letter to the emperor by Mark Antony: an refert, ubi et in qua arrigas? (Does it matter where or with whom you take your pleasure? – Rolfe again concealing the point – the verb means to have an erection, as OLD observes.

By the way, Dashiell Hammet’s The Thin Man (1934) was banned in Canada for Nora’s question to Nick, ‘Did you have an erection?’

Ceveo is defined by L&S simply as ‘ to move the haunches’. OLD is more expansive: ‘ of a pathic – to move the haunches in a lewd or effeminate manner’. We might have expected these in dictionary reverse, with the implied moral criticism.

Back to expected L&S form with the related verb crissare: ‘ to move the haunches, in mal. part., of a female as ceveo of a man’. OLD takes a different tack: ‘ of women, to move the haunches as in coitus’. Echoes in both, perhaps, of Lucretius’ erotic litany (bk. 4).

Getting to the bottom of things, L&S dub culus as ‘ posteriors’ (Note the plural, suggesting their minds were more on ‘buttocks’)’. Plain ‘ fundament, anus’ in OLD. Obliterated are the various semantic levels of these fundamental nouns. Culus (same goes for podex) requires a cruder appellation, ‘arse’ (‘ass’ in American). Anus  was useful if a pun was needed on the other anus (old woman). Clunes  by itself was respectable enough, albeit often used with such erotically-charged verbs as agitare.

Samuel Johnson, who pointedly omitted most vulgarisms from his Dictionary, did allow ‘ arse’, defining as ‘ the buttocks, or hind parts of an animal’.

Famously, when a pair of prim young damsels complimented him on leaving out objectionable words, Sam replied, ‘ What, my dears, have you been looking out for them already?’

Summing up, this is all a case of arse gratis artis.

L&S  register ‘Scrotum’ as one meaning of culleus; OLD  does not.

Cunnus and Cunnilingus are straightforwardly acknowledged by L&S as ‘female pudendum’ and ‘cunnum lingere’. OLD  defines the latter as ‘ a type of sexual pervert’ – somebody’s prejudices are showing.

L&S note the sexual connotation of deglubire in an Ausonius Epigram (71.5); not so in OLD. The former note the well-known Catullus poem for basic glubire, adding their usual in mal. part. formula. OLD  cites the Catullus but not the sense. For once, Forberg failed to spot.

Now, a splendid semantic conflict. L&S  define draucus as ‘ a sodomite’. OLD  say it means ‘ athlete’ (Adams does not mention the term). I suppose one may visualize an athletic sodomite, but…

Effutuo emerges from L&S  as ‘ to waste in debauchery’. OLD expands into ‘ to wear out with, or squander on, sexual intercourse’. As to basic futuo, L&S  take refuge in ‘ to have connection with a female’ – shades of the Biblical ‘Know’. OLD  counter with ‘ to have sexual relations (with a woman)’. Their brackets have become old-fashioned: nowadays, girls and women regularly talk of fucking a man. And, OLD’s avoidance of the f-word comes several years after (1965) Kenneth Tynan uttered it on BBC television.

L&S make a meal out of fascinus: trans. l.q. membrum virile  because an image of it was hung around the necks of children as a preventative against witchcraft’. OLD has much the same. Neither adduce (though it is in OLD’s repertoire of references) Petronius 138 where it has to mean ‘dildo’.

Both dictionaries give fellare and fellator short thrift, dismissing ‘ sucker’ as in mal. part.  and transf.  ‘ as a sexual perversion’. ˆL&S tactfully omit fellatrix, cited by OLD  exclusively from Pompeian graffiti.

L&S  wax Biblical for ineo as ‘ Know, in mal. part.’ OLD  registers the meaning without prejudice. It is so used in Antony’s above-mentioned letter to Augustus.

Irrumare and irrigator were bound to give our lexicographers trouble. After a neutral ‘ to extend the breast to, to give suck’, L&S  flee to ‘in mal. part., to treat in a foul or shameful manner’, with ‘ to that in a beastly or shameful manner’ following up. OLD  skirts even more around the Catullan issue, translating only one of the cognates, irrumator, as ‘ one who submits to fellatio’.

L&S  treat masturbator  in a very Victorian way, ‘ one who defiles himself’. No beating about the bush with OLD.
Likewise, L&S fight shy of mentula, left in ‘l.q. membrum virile’. Plain ‘ the male sexual organ’ in OLD.

Paedico and cognates are viewed as ‘ the practise of unnatural vice’ in L&S, whilst unvarnished ‘sodomite’ was enough for OLD.

Poppysma (not in Adams) is for L&S  ‘ a smacking or clucking with the tongue’. For Martial’s colourful poppysmata cunni, they cautiously add ‘ of a similar sound’. OLD  is similarly evasive.

Spintria (not in Adams) earns a fine combinative definition from L&S: ‘ the contractile muscle of the anus, also a male prostitute’ – very precise anatomical information. OLD is content with ‘ a type of male prostitute’.

L&S gloss vasatus sternly, ‘ i.e. mentula magna instructus’. It is not precisely specified in OLD because the term (often with bene added) is restricted to the Historia Augusta, beyond its lexical range, a strange and harmful editorial decision. See Adams (pps. 41-42) for details, OLD  does include Vaso  as ‘ one having a large sexual organ’, citing (with a question mark) the grammarian Pomponius.

For perfect finale, Sellarius, the jewel in L&S’ scatology-avoiding crown. OLD see the word (not in Adams) as denoting a type of male prostitute, connecting it with sellarium (privy), and adding a secondary unrelated ‘ member of a chariot-racing establishment (of uncertain function)’.

L&S arrived at this glorious circumlocution: ‘ one that practises lewdness upon a settle’. How many people nowadays know what a settle is? Had to verify it myself. English dictionary definition is elaborate: ‘ An old-fashioned piece of furniture with a long wooden seat and a high back and arms, often also with a box for storing things under the seat’.

I leave it to readers to settle the mystery of what kind of lewdness would be specifically practised in/on such a contraption…