Sunday, December 08, 2013
Sir Cussha Sweesong Twar
Jones went to an evening party and said there was a lady there who sang a song (as he at first thought) about an Indian potentate named Sir Cussha Sweesong Twar, but he discovered presently that the song was French ('Ce que je suis sans toi').
Roar Out "Claudius!"
When Air imprison'd labours for a Vent,Id., p 28:
That you shou'd belch, I give my free Consent:
Nor belch to Halves—but of the Clangor proud,
Like some substantial Burgo-master, belch aloud.
Check not the rising Belch, lest, hapless, you,
Experience, late, how many Ills ensue:
Perhaps the too, too long imprison'd Wind,
Which in the Stomach's Cavern lies confin'd,
May taint thee with some fatal, foul Disease;
And Pain and Anguish thy whole Body seize.
Or all thy Body o'er diffuse a Stench,
Rank as the Armpits of a red-hair'd Wench.
If Wind ascend, which with just Cause we dread,
Whims, Freaks, and Megrims dire affect the Head:
Or downwards, without legal Notice, come
Forth from the treach'rous Passage of the Bum,
A horrid Fume shall straight your Crime proclaim
To ev'ry Nose; nor aught conceal your Shame.
Wou'd you these Ills by prudent Care prevent,
Nor, like a Fox, be follow'd by the Scent?
Then give to ev'ry Belch a timely Vent.
If the digested Meals of YesterdayId., p 40:
Demand a Vent, 'tis troublesome to stay.
Of Breeches, Shoes, and Stocking take good Care;
And dread besides to taint the ambient Air:
Get up in haste—and answer in a Word,
Shou'd any ask your Business, 'tis a T—.
The Bowels now b'ing cramm'd with splendid Fare,Id., p. 50:
Far off be banish'd, that Intruder, Care.
The Stomach sickens when the Mind's unblest,
Nor in due Order can its Food digest;
From thence Diseases numberless arise,
O! shun all anxious Labour, and be wise.
Believe me, Sir! 'tis wholesomer by much,
To rest, when Dinner's ended, on the Couch;
Till Supper one continu'd Slumber take,
When Supper calls, 'tis Time enough to wake.
Unreprehended there, supine, you lie,
And many a fragrant *Bum-gut-shot let flie:
Tell each nice Critick, that you want the Art,
To curb, that active Principle—a Fart.
* Bumgutshot, a Word of Rabelais.
When Wind, that pains the Belly, wou'd repairRelated posts:
Forth from a narrow Gut to open Air,
Your Pris'ner, in what Way you please, dismiss;
What Nature bids, can never be amiss.
Whenever such Behaviour gives Offence,
This Answer vindicates your Innocence;
"From Wind, which long within the Belly* lies;
"Vertigo, Cholick, Spasm, and Dropsy rise.
"This Rule each learned Son of Galen gives,
"A Rule by which the Man of Manners lives.
Claudius, lest Sickness shou'd ensue, decreed,†
That all Men fart and belch in Time of Need;
His Edict serves to justify your Ways,
Nor only bare Forgiveness gains, but Praise.
* This Distich is a Quotation from the Schola Salernitana; to which Book I refer the Reader.
† This Edict of Claudius (here specified) is recorded by several Classick Authors: Wherefore it is no uncommon Thing with Fellows of Colleges, when they fart in Company, to strike their Paws upon the Table, and roar out CLAUDIUS.
Saturday, December 07, 2013
The city of Tarentum offers sacrifices of oxen and holds public banquets nearly every month. The mass of common people is always busy with parties and drinking-bouts. And the Tarentines have a saying of some such purport as this, that whereas the rest of the world, in their devotion to work and their preoccupation with various forms of industry, are always preparing to live, they themselves, with their parties and their pleasures, do not put off living, but live already.
ἡ πόλις ἡ τῶν Ταραντίνων σχεδὸν καθ᾽ ἕκαστον μῆνα βουθυτεῖ καὶ δημοσίας ἑστιάσεις ποιεῖται. τὸ δὲ τῶν ἰδιωτῶν πλῆθος αἰεὶ περὶ συνουσίας καὶ πότους ἐστί. λέγουσι δὲ καί τινα τοιοῦτον λόγον οἱ Ταραντῖνοι, τοὺς μὲν ἄλλους ἀνθρώπους διὰ τὸ φιλοπονεῖσθαι καὶ περὶ τὰς ἐργασίας διατρίβειν παρασκευάζεσθαι ζῆν, αὐτοὺς δὲ διὰ τὰς συνουσίας καὶ τὰς ἡδονὰς οὐ μέλλειν, ἀλλ᾽ ἤδη βιῶναι.
I am More a Grecian than Ever
If I have been in practise less loyal to Greece than usual I am not without this apology, that in heart I am more a Grecian than ever. The vulgarity of America as depicted in Ashe's travels and shewn by all other communications from that country, and which in a great measure arises from ignorance of Classical Literature, is so disgusting that we shrink from it with horror and take refuge in the ruins of ancient taste and elegance.
[A] clever geographer might be able draw up a map that districted Maine by bean type. He might start by marking off southeast Maine as favoring the pea bean, farm-country Maine the soldier and the Jacob's cattle bean, lumber country the original Steuben yellow eye, the Bangor area the sulphur bean, and Down East (up the coast from Ellsworth) the marafax ... and go on from there.Id., p. 35:
You could, if you wished, assemble a book—a small one, to be sure, but a book even so—of Maine writers opining on the subject of cooking beans. Such narratives appear not only in the obvious places—Kenneth Roberts's Trending into Maine, Nathan S. Lowrey's folklore study, "Tales of the Northern Maine Woods: The History and Traditions of the Maine Guide"—but sometimes out of nowhere.Related post: Kenneth Roberts on Beans.
In The House That Jacob Built, John Gould (who swears by Jacob's cattle beans) interrupts his account of rebuilding the family house after the original burned to the ground to devote an entire chapter to the subject. Carroll F. Terrell, in Growing Up Kennebec, a funny, no-holds-barred narrative of a Maine boyhood in the twenties, stops the action to provide a step-by-step description of his mother's recipe (she prefers yellow eyes). Walter Howe pauses in his comic narrative, Frost You Say?, to explain his method (he leans toward Kentucky Wonders).
Friday, December 06, 2013
Quickly pass the social glass,
Hence with idle sorrow!
No delay—enjoy today,
Think not of tomorrow!
Life at best is but a span,
Let us taste it whilst we can;
Let us still with smiles confess,
All our aim is happiness!
Childish fears, and sighs and tears
Still to us are strangers;
Why destroy the bud of joy
With ideal dangers?
Let the song of pleasure swell;
Care with us shall never dwell;
Let us still with smiles confess,
All our aim is happiness!
O Cruel Death
1.The poem is a dialogue between Man and Death. Man speaks in stanzas 1-2, 7, Death in stanzas 3-6. Some notes for my own use follow.
O cruell deth paynfull and smert,
On the to thenke my hert is colde,
For why noman fro the may sterte,
Neither riche ne pore, nor yonge ne olde.
Thou sparest not for siluir nor golde, 5
But, in whome thou wilte thy marke set,
He shall departe withouten lette.
Why art thou so cruell to man
Of hym no man grisly to make,
His nose sharpe and his lippes wan, 10
His chekes pale and his tethe blake,
His handes and his fete to shake
And alle his body quake for colde
And returne hym ayene to molde?
"Like to a thinge vayne man is made, 15
His dayes passith, as a shadewe,
And, as a floure, fro hym they fade,"
Thus seith Dauid, that prophete true.
Seint Iames seith: "As a floure newe
By hete of sonne turneth to hay, 20
So mortall man shall passe away."
A thousand yere fro hym be past,
As yesterday, the whiche is gone.
In an ymage he passeth fast,
This worldes figure passeth anon: 25
It is right nought to trust vppon.
Therefore alwey you redy make,
For, when tyme is, I wille you take.
"What man shall leve and se no deth?
No man, truly," thus seith Dauid. 30
"Haue myende, my lyfe is but a breth,"
Thus seith Iob according herewith.
His daies, as of a messangere, beth.
"More swyfter my daies passeth and lyfe,
Than a webbe of a wever is cutte with knyfe." 35
I sende sekenesse you to a taste
And to meke you in euery place,
But, whenne that I come at the last,
I make an ende within shorte space.
I sette no lawe day in the case, 40
For, whenne that I sey: "Make an ende,"
Withouten delay ye shall hense wende.
Fro mortall deth Crist vs defende
And graunte vs alle by his grete grace,
Out of this worlde when we shall wende, 45
In heuen blisse to haue a place
And hym to see there face to face,
That was and is and ay shall be
Eternall god in persones thre.
2 On the to thenke my hert is colde: My heart is cold, to think on thee
3 fro the may sterte: from thee may escape (Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. start, sense 6).
7 lette: let (noun), i.e. hindrance, delay
8 no man: something not human
14 ayene: again
15-16 Like to a thinge vayne man is made, / His dayes passith, as a shadewe: Psalm 144.4 (Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away).
19-21 As a floure newe / By hete of sonne turneth to hay, / So mortall man shall passe away: James 1.10-11 (But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways).
22-23 A thousand yere: Psalm 90.4 (For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night).
27 alwey you redy make: always be prepared
29 What man shall leve and se no deth?: Psalm 89.48 (What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death?).
31 Haue myende, my lyfe is but a breth: Job 7.7 (Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath).
36 sekenesse: sickness
37 meke: make, but with what meaning?
40 lawe day: Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. law-day, sense 2, citing this verse: "A day appointed for the discharge of a bond, after which the debtor could not at common law be relieved from the forfeiture."
42 hense wende: go hence
Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, lat. 9471, fol. 159
What Do You Read?
The doctor been and say I'm all right but wants me to only smoke ten cigarettes a day—and have bath in morning instead of night and do some physical jerks each morning. O bugger bugger bugger and rest half an hour before dinner and lunch and only drink two gingies a day—He is nice but it's always the same stuff. Doc: 'Are you worried about any things?' Am I worried me arse. Doctor: 'What do you read—let me see—let me look—The Nature of Belief—Shakespeare—Medieval Religion—I shouldn't trouble the mind with anything disturbing you know. What do you read for light literature?' Me: Well—well—eh—eh—well—you know that's the bugger of it—well, I like Alice in Wonderland if I want to have a good laugh.'Hat tip: Ian Jackson.
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Praise of Dionysus
O Dionysus, dearest and wisest in the eyes of all men of sense, how kind art thou! Thou alone makest the humble to feel proud, and persuadest the scowler to laugh, the weak to be brave, the cowardly to be bold.Related post: Some Effects of Wine.
ὦ πᾶσι τοῖς φρονοῦσι προσφιλέστατε
Διόνυσε καὶ σοφώταθ᾽, ὡς ἡδύς τις εἶ·
ὃς τὸν ταπεινὸν μέγα φρονεῖν ποιεῖς μόνος,
τὸν τὰς ὀφρῦς αἴροντα συμπείθεις γελᾶν
τὸν τ᾽ ἀσθενῆ τολμᾶν τι, τὸν δειλὸν θρασύν.
Not Wise but Mad
Atte sumtyme mery, at sume tyme sadde;6 gone vs froo: gone from us
At sumtyme wele, at sumtyme woo;
At sumtyme sory, at sumtyme gladde;
At sumtyme frende, at sumtyme foo;
At sumtyme richesse and welthe is hadde, 5
At sumtyme it is gone vs froo;
Truly, he is not wyse, but madde,
That aftur worldly welthe will goo.
As medowe floures of swete odoures
Vadeth to erthe by theire nature, 10
Likewise richesse and grete honoures
Shall vade fro euery creature;
Therfore to suffre grete doloures
I holde it best to do oure cure
And to forsake castillis and toures, 15
So that of blisse we may be sure.
10, 12 Vadeth ... vade: Fadeth ... fade
15 castillis and toures: castles and towers
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Argument and Invective
Upon the points in which we dissent from each other, argument will always secure the attention of the wise and good; whereas, invective must disgrace the cause which we may respectively wish to support.
Letter from Irenopolis, p. 5.
Life and Letters of Yeshua Bar-Yosef
First then, whatever these men may be as Biblical critics, I distrust them as critics. They seem to me to lack literary judgement, to be imperceptive about the very quality of the texts they are reading. It sounds a strange charge to bring against men who have been steeped in those books all their lives. But that might be just the trouble. A man who has spent his youth and manhood in the minute study of New Testament texts and of other people's studies of them, whose literary experience of those texts lacks any standard of comparison such as can only grow from a wide and deep and genial experience of literature in general, is, I should think, very likely to miss the obvious thing about them. If he tells me that something in a Gospel is legend or romance, I want to know how many legends and romances he has read, how well his palate is trained in detecting them by the flavour; not how many years he has spent on that Gospel. But I had better turn to examples.Id., pp. 156-157:
In what is already a very old commentary I read that the fourth Gospel is regarded by one school as a 'spiritual romance', 'a poem not a history', to be judged by the same canons as Nathan's parable, the book of Jonah, Paradise Lost 'or, more exactly, Pilgrim's Progress'. After a man has said that, why need one attend to anything else he says about any book in the world? Note that he regards Pilgrim's Progress, a story which professes to be a dream and flaunts its allegorical nature by every single proper name it uses, as the closest parallel. Note that the whole epic panoply of Milton goes for nothing. But even if we leave our the grosser absurdities and keep to Jonah, the insensitiveness is crass—Jonah, a tale with as few even pretended historical attachments as Job, grotesque in incident and surely not without a distinct, though of course edifying, vein of typically Jewish humour. Then turn to John. Read the dialogues: that with the Samaritan woman at the well, or that which follows the healing of the man born blind. Look at its pictures: Jesus (if I may use the word) doodling with his finger in the dust; the unforgettable ἦν δὲ νύξ (xiii, 30). I have been reading poems, romances, vision-literature, legends, myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know that not one of them is like this. Of this text there are only two possible views. Either this is reportage—though it may no doubt contain errors—pretty close up to the facts; nearly as close as Boswell. Or else, some unknown writer in the second century, without known predecessors, or successors, suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern, novelistic, realistic narrative. If it is untrue, it must be narrative of that kind. The reader who doesn't see this has simply not learned to read. I would recommend him to read Auerbach.
So there is no personality of Our Lord presented in the New Testament. Through what strange process has this learned German gone in order to make himself blind to what all men except him see? What evidence have we that he would recognize a personality if it were there? For it is Bultmann contra mundum. If anything whatever is common to all believers, and even to many unbelievers, it is the sense that in the Gospels they have met a personality. There are characters whom we know to be historical but of whom we do not feel that we have any personal knowledge—knowledge by acquaintance; such are Alexander, Attila, or William of Orange. There are others who make no claim to historical reality but whom, none the less, we know as we know real people: Falstaff, Uncle Toby, Mr Pickwick. But there are only three characters who, claiming the first sort of reality, also actually have the second. And surely everyone knows who they are: Plato's Socrates, the Jesus of the Gospels, and Boswell's Johnson. Our acquaintance with them shows itself in a dozen ways. When we look into the apocryphal gospels, we find ourselves constantly saying of this or that logion, 'No. It's a fine saying, but not His. That wasn't how He talked'—just as we do with all pseudo-Johnsoniana. We are not in the least perturbed by the contrasts within each character: the union in Socrates of silly and scabrous titters about Greek pederasty with the highest mystical fervor and the homeliest good sense; in Johnson, of profound gravity and melancholy with that love of fun and nonsense which Boswell never understood though Fanny Burney did; in Jesus of peasant shrewdness, intolerable severity, and irresistible tenderness. So strong is the flavour of the personality that, even while He says things which, on any other assumption than that of Divine Incarnation in the fullest sense, would be appallingly arrogant, yet we—and many unbelievers too - accept Him as his own valuation when He says 'I am meek and lowly of heart'. Even those passages in the New Testament which superficially, and in intention, are most concerned with the Divine, and least with the Human Nature, bring us fact to face with the personality. I am not sure that they don't do this more than any others. 'We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of graciousness and reality ... which we have looked upon and our hands have handled.' What is gained by trying to evade or dissipate this shattering immediacy of personal contact by talk about 'that significance which the early Church found that it was impelled to attribute to the Master'? This hits us in the face. Not what they were impelled to do but what impelled them. I begin to fear that by personality Dr Bultmann means what I should call impersonality: what you'd get in a D.N.B. article or an obituary or a Victorian Life and Letters of Yeshua Bar-Yosef in three volumes with photographs.
Another manneristic deformation of the line consists in getting as many words into it as possible. To attain this end the superfluous "and" must be omitted. Hence this piling up of words was also called "verse-filling asyndeton."39 Examples from Lucretius (I, 685 and 744):Related posts:
Concursus motus ordo positura figurae.Horace uses this type of asyndeton when he wants to dispose scornfully of an entire class of things—objects of value, for example (Epi., II, 2, 180 f.):
Aera solem ignem terras animalia fruges.
Gemmas, marmor, ebur, Tyrrhena sigilla, tabellas,or forms of superstition (Epi., II, 2, 208 f.):
Argentum, vestis Gaetulo murice tinctas ...
Somnia, terrores magicos, miracula, sagas,The practice becomes more frequent in Statius, and in Dracontius is carried to excess.40 In the Middle Ages it is a well-known stylistic device, recommended by the rhetoricians.41 I give but one medieval Latin example, from Alan (SP, II, 473):
Nocturnos lemures portentaque Thessala ...
Furta doli metus ira furor fraus impetus errorThe seventeenth-century German poets are fond of using the device, especially Gryphius. It still occurs in Brockes:
Tristities hujus hospita regna tenent.
Blitz, Donner, Krachen, Prasseln, Knallen,I take this example from a dissertation on "The Accumulation of Words in Baroque." The author comments: "Such an exhaustion of all the possibilities of accumulation in a single sentence belongs only to Baroque."42 So people say, but I am on another track ...
Erschüttern, stossweis abwerts fallen,
Gepresst, betäubt von Schlag zu Strahl,
Kam, ward, war alles auf einmal
Gesehn, gehört, gefühlt, geschehn.
(Flash, thunder, crashing, rustling, booming,
Shudd’ring, a sudden falling back,
Oppressed, benumbed from stroke to streak,
Came, was, then suddenly had been
Seen, heard, felt, done.)
39 Carl Weyman, Beiträge zur Geschichte der christlichlateinischen Poesie (1926), 126; ibid., 51 f., and 154, n. 1.
40 Statius, Thebais I, 431; VI, 116; X, 768.—Dracontius, De laudibus Dei I, 5 ff.; I, 13 ff.; etc.
41 Bede in Keil, Grammatici Latini, VII, 244.—Albericus Casinensis, Flores rhetorici, ed. Inguanez and Willard (1938), p. 44, § 4.
42 Hans Pliester, Die Worthäufung im Barock (Bonn, 1930), 3.
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
Here is Amazon's web page offering for sale Roger Dawes' edition of Sophocles' Trachiniae in the Teubner series (Bibliotheca Scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana).
There are two supposed reviews of the book on the web page. The reviews, however, don't discuss Dawes' edition. Rather, they discuss P.E. Easterling's edition and commentary on the play (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982).
Further, on the same web page Amazon invites you to "Click to LOOK INSIDE!" Dawes' edition. But if you click as invited, you don't see inside the book pictured. Instead, you see inside some wretched paperback edition of R.C. Jebb's translation of Trachiniae.
Amazon recently announced plans to deliver its products using drones. Mindless drones are already at work, composing Amazon's web pages.
The Evidence of Style
Textual problems have led some modern scholars to question the credibility of the Gospels and even to doubt the historical existence of Christ. These studies have provoked an intriguing reaction from an unlikely source: Julien Gracq—an old and prestigious novelist, who was close to the Surrealist movement—made a comment which is all the more arresting for coming from an agnostic. In a recent volume of essays,2 Gracq first acknowledged the impressive learning of one of these scholars (whose lectures he had attended in his youth), as well as the devastating logic of his reasoning; but he confessed that, in the end, he still found himself left with one fundamental objection: for all his formidable erudition, the scholar in question had simply no ear—he could not hear what should be so obvious to any sensitive reader—that, underlying the text of the Gospels, there is a masterly and powerful unity of style, which derives from one unique and inimitable voice; there is the presence of one singular and exceptional personality whose expression is so original, so bold that one could positively call it impudent. Now, if you deny the existence of Jesus, you must transfer all these attributes to some obscure, anonymous writer, who should have had the improbable genius of inventing such a character—or, even more implausibly, you must transfer this prodigious capacity for invention to an entire committee of writers. And Gracq concluded: in the end, if modern scholars, progressive-minded clerics and the docile public all surrender to this critical erosion of the Scriptures, the last group of defenders who will obstinately maintain that there is a living Jesus at the central core of the Gospels will be made of artists and creative writers, for whom the psychological evidence of style carries much more weight than mere philological arguments.
2. Julien Gracq, Les carnets du grand chemin (Paris: José Corti, 1992), pp. 190-91.
Arbiters of Commas
However extensive may be the importance of the studies which are now most prevalent, and however brilliant may be the success with which they have been prosecuted, we feel no diminution of our reverence for the labours of those scholars who have employed their abilities in explaining the sense, and in correcting the text, of ancient authors. Verbal criticism has been seldom despised sincerely by any man who was capable of cultivating it successfully; and if the comparative dignity of any kind of learning is to be measured by the talents of those who are most distinguished for the acquisition of it, philology will hold no inconsiderable rank in the various and splendid classes of human knowledge. By a trite and frivolous sort of pleasantry, verbal critics are often holden up to ridicule as noisy triflers, as abject drudges, as arbiters of commas, as measurers of syllables, as the very lacqueys and slaves of learning, whose greatest ambition is to "pursue the triumph, and partake the gale," which wafts writers of genius into the wished-for haven of fame. But, even in this subordinate capacity, so much derided, and so little understood, they frequently have occasion for more extent and variety of information, for more efforts of reflection and research, for more solidity of judgment, more strength of memory, and we are not ashamed to add, more vigour of imagination, than we see displayed by many sciolists, who, in their own estimation, are original authors.
Review of the Variorum Horace, British Critic, p. 122.
The Summum Bonum of Human Life
When at Cambridge, being one day in a party of young men who were discussing somewhat pompously the summum bonum of human life, he heard their arguments with patience, and then with a half smile, and in a dry sarcastic tone, replied, "I differ from you all; the true summum bonum of human life consists in reading Tristram Shandy, in blowing with a pair of bellows into your shoes in hot weather, and in roasting potatoes in the ashes under the grate in cold."Related post: The Summum Bonum.
Monday, December 02, 2013
He Had Eaten Paper and Drunk Ink
He was not a stranger to many niceties in the structure of the Latin tongue. He never attempted to show off his own powers in that frivolous jargon, or that oracular solemnity which I have now and then observed in persons who prated yesterday, as they prate to-day, and will prate again to-morrow about subjects which they do not understand. "He, to my knowledge, had fed on the dainties that are bred in a book. He had eaten paper, as it were, and drunk ink. His intellect was replenished."Hat tip: Ian Jackson.
Remarks on the Statement of Dr. Coombe, p. 21.
It Will Surely Mislead Librarians
I notice that David Petrain ends his interesting note on your posting on Filelfo with the remark, "It looks as if a new translation of Jovius's work has just appeared in the I Tatti Library".Again:
Should one really have to say "It looks as if..." about a well-advertised publication from a major university press? But he is absolutely right to be cautious. Harvard, annoyingly, makes it difficult to tell what lurks behind their English titles. Most, of course are obvious, but surely they owe their readers a plain and prominent statement both in advertising and at the very beginning of each volume. The book to which Prof. Petrain refers, Kenneth Gouwens' Notable Men and Women of our Time (I Tatti Library, 2013) is in fact a translation of quite another work by Giovio, De Viris et Feminis aetate nostra florentibus, not that you'd necessarily discover this without having the book in hand. And even then, the usual easy path to an answer (a glance at the Library of Congress cataloguing-in-publication entry on the verso of the title-page) leads in the wrong direction. LC claims that this is an English translation of the very book under discussion, Giovio's Elogia doctorum virorum! Did they make this up themselves, or did Harvard misguide them? In either case, it will surely mislead librarians who really don't have the time (or means? or knowledge?) to investigate.
I forgot that I owned Franco Minonzio's edition and translation of Giovio's Elogi degli uomini illustri (Einaudi, 2006). He agrees (p.60) with Prof. Petrain’s reading:
gli negasti di poter salvare la barba pagando la stessa somma di denaro
you refused to allow him to preserve his beard by paying the same amount of money
Perhaps, however, Gragg has simply expressed herself clumsily and elliptically. Petrain asks "Why would Philelphus buy a beard?" but if we take her first "you" to mean Filelfo and her second to mean "one" or "someone," it accords with the versions of both Petrain and Minozio:
You won, and declaring that [a person] could not buy a beard for the amount of the wager...
Gold and Figs
If someone locked a lot of gold up in a houseThe Greek, from Iambi et Elegi Graeci ante Alexandrum Cantati, ed. M.L. West, Vol. II (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), p. 35:
with two or three people, and a small amount of figs,
he'd soon find out how much more figs are worth than gold.
εἴ τις καθείρξαι χρυσὸν ἐν δόμοις πολὺν
καὶ σῦκα βαιὰ καὶ δύ᾽ ἢ τρεῖς ἀνθρώπους,
γνοίη χ᾽ ὅσωι τὰ σῦκα τοῦ χρυσοῦ κρέσσω.