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The ancient world of Greece and Rome - Satirists' Parents Wiping Their Noses

About Satirists' Parents Wiping Their Noses

Previous Entry Satirists' Parents Wiping Their Noses Dec. 23rd, 2011 @ 02:59 pm Next Entry
Horace calls his satires "Bionei sermones", a reference to Bion of Borysthenes. Imagine my surprise when I read at the beginning of Diogenes Laertios' "Life of Bion":

"My father was a freedman, who wiped his nose on his sleeve" – meaning that he was a dealer in salt fish. (Translated by Robert Drew Hicks, 1925. But watch out for Robin Hard's upcoming book "Diogenes the Cynic: Sayings and Anecdotes. With Other Popular Moralists"!)

Compare Suetonius' "Life of Horace":

Quintus Horatius Flaccus of Venusia had for a father, as he himself writes, a freedman who was a collector of money at auctions; but it is believed that he was a dealer in salted provisions, for a certain man in a quarrel thus taunted Horace: "How often have I seen your father wiping his nose with his arm!"

Surely, that's not a coincidence?
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