Sunday, June 01, 2014

We're Doomed

Hast thou not seen one of our late Kings slain in the midst of his sports?  And one of his ancestors die miserably by the chocke of an hog?  Eschilus, fore-threatened by the fall of an house when he stood  most upon his guard, stricken dead by the fall of a Tortoise shell, which fell out of the talons of axxn eagle flying in the air; and another choked with the kernel of a grape?  And an Emperor die by the scratch of comb, whilst he was combing his head?  And Lepidus with hitting his foot against a door-sill?  And Aufidius with stumbling against the council-chamber door as he was going in thereat?  And Cornelius Gallus, the Praetor; Tegiliinus Captain of the Roman watch; Lodovico, son of Guido Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua--end their days between women's thighs?
--Michele de Montaigne, of course, in the essay, "That to Philosophize is to Learn How to Die," in the "Shakespeare translation" by John Florio,  from a new edition of selections issued as Shakespeare's Montaigne, by NYRB Classics, with a helpful introduction by Stephen Greenblatt, edited and modernized by Peter G. Platt.  Interesting, after a lifetime of reading Shakespeare I can deal easily with (most) Shakespearean text, but this Florio, issued around the midpoint of Shakespeare's career, can be tough going. 

The notes tell us that Henry II (of France) was "killed in a tournament," and that "his ancestor Philip, who never ruled, was killed by a pig."

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