Reflections on the Revolution in France | Study Guide

Edmund Burke

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Reflections on the Revolution in France | Glossary of Classical Allusions


Section 1

Utinam nugis tota illa dedisset tempora saevitiae. If only he had devoted all that time to trifles rather than to cruelty. Juvenal, Satires 4.150–51.

Condo et compono quae mox depromere possim. I join and collect things upon which I will soon be able to draw. Horace, Epistles 1.1.12.

Privilegium non transit in exemplum. The right of an individual does not translate into a general rule. Maxim in Roman law.

Haec commemoratio est quasi exprobatio. This reminder is almost like a rebuke. Terence, Andria 43–44.

Justa bella quibus necessaria. Paraphrase of Livy 9.1.10: "War is just to those for whom it is necessary."

Section 3

Illa se iactet in aula Aeolus, et clauso ventorum carcere regnet. Let him flaunt himself in that hall—Aeolus, and let him rule the winds in his confined prison. Virgil, Aeneid 1.140–41.

Liceat perire poetis ... ardentem frigidus Ætnam insiluit. Poets may be allowed to die ... the cool–headed man [Empedocles] jumped into fiery Etna. Horace, The Art of Poetry 464–66.

cum perimit saevos classis numerosa tyrannos. While a crowded class kills savage tyrants. Juvenal, Satires 7 150–51.

nec color imperii, nec frons erit ulla senatus. Nor will there be the external form of government nor any appearance of legislative authority. Lucan, Pharsalia 9.207.

Non satis est pulchra esse poemata, dulcia sunto. It is not enough for poems to be beautiful, they must also be sweet. Horace, The Art of Poetry 99–100.

gentis incunabula nostrae. The cradle of our people. Virgil, Aeneid 3.105.

Section 4

Sit igitur hoc ab initio persuasum civibus, dominos esse omnium rerum ac moderatores, deos; eaque, quae gerantur, eorum geri vi, ditione, ac numine; eosdemque optime de genere hominum mereri; et qualis quisque sit, quid agat, quid in se admittat, qua mente, qua pietate colat religiones intueri; piorum et impiorum habere rationem. His enim rebus imbutae mentes haud sane abhorrebunt ab utili et a vera sententia. So, at the beginning, citizens must be persuaded that the gods are the lords and rulers of all things, and that what is done is accomplished by their will and authority; that they are likewise great benefactors of men, noticing the character of every individual, what he does, of what wrong he is guilty, and with what intentions and with what piety he fulfills his religious duties; and that they take note of the pious and the impious. For surely minds which are imbued with such ideas will not spurn what is useful and what is true. Cicero, On the Laws 2.7.

Quicquid multis peccatur inultum. Whatever is secret harms many people. Attribution unknown.

Quod illi principi et praepotenti Deo qui omnem hunc mundum regit, nihil eorum quae quidem fiant in terris acceptius quam concilia et coetus hominum jure sociati quae civitates appellantur. For there is nothing that happens on earth that is more welcome to that supreme God who rules the whole universe than the institutions and congregations of men united by a sense of right which are called states. Cicero, On the State 6.13.

Section 5

crudelem illam hastam. That cruel (bloody) spear. Cicero, On Duties 2.8.29.

Section 6

Omnes boni nobilitati semper favemus. All good people always favor the highborn. Cicero, Pro Sestio 9.21.

Si plures sunt ii quibus ... latius ... Sic par ... continere. If those to whom things have been wrongly given are more numerous than those from whom things have been unjustly taken, are they on that account also more powerful? No! For things are judged not by numbers but by weight. But what fairness is there in a man who held no land holding land that has been owned by another man for many years, generations even, and in the man who held it losing it? Indeed, it was on account of just this sort of injustice that the Spartans expelled Lysander the Ephor and (what had never before happened among them) they put to death their king, Agis. From that time, such great dissensions ensued that tyrants emerged, the upper orders were exiled, and the State, though constituted most gloriously, slid into ruin. But not only did Sparta herself fall; she also overthrew the rest of Greece by the contagion of the evils which, taking their beginning from the Spartans, spread further abroad ... In this way it is fair to deal with citizens; not, as we have already seen happen twice, to plant a spear in the forum and subject the goods of citizens to the cry of the auctioneer. But that Greek believed that everybody's interests should be considered (the sign of a wise and excellent man); and this is the best possible policy and wisdom of a good citizen, not violently to divide the interests of citizens but to unite all men together with the same principle of impartial justice. Cicero, On Duties 2.22.79–2.23.80 and 83.

Spartam nactus es; hanc exorna. Now that Sparta has fallen to your lot, adorn it. Cicero, Letters to Atticus 4.6.

Munera Terrae. The gifts of the Earth. Horace, Odes 2.14.10.

Section 7

Pater ipse colendi haud facilem esse viam voluit. God himself wished that the farmer's life should not be an easy one. Virgil, Georgics 1.121–22.

pede nudo Catonem. If anyone imitates Cato, stern of face, barefooted and wearing mean clothes, does he also exemplify the morals and virtue of Cato? [amplified version] Horace, Epistles

Hominem non sapiunt: a variation of hominem pagina nostra sapit. Our pages are familiar with man. Martial, Epigrams 10.4.10.

Section 8

Non, ut olim ... colonia. For the days had passed when entire legions—with tribunes, centurions, privates in their proper divisions—were so transplanted as to create, by their unanimity, and their comradeship, a little commonwealth. The settlers now were strangers among strangers; men from totally different companies; leaderless; mutually indifferent; suddenly, as if there were anything in the world except soldiers, massed in one place to compose an aggregate rather than a colony. Tacitus, Annals 14.27.

oras et littora circum. Around the shores and coasts. Virgil, Aeneid 3.75.

"Diis immortalibus sero" ... other. Burke here paraphrases Cicero, On Old Age 7.25: A farmer, however old, will not hesitate to reply to one who asks for whom he sows: "for the immortal gods, who willed it that I should not only receive these things from my forebears but should also produce for posterity."

Haec ubi locutus ... ponere. With these words, the moneylender Alfius, who was always on the point of becoming a farmer, has called in all his money in the middle of the month and seeks to lend it out again at the beginning of the month. Horace, Epodes 2.

Section 9

Sed multae urbes et publica vota vicerunt. Many cities and public votes of thanks had the best of him. Juvenal, Satires 10.284.

Section 10

Si isti mihi largiantur ut repuerascam, et in eorum cunis vagiam, valde recusem! If someone permitted me to return to childhood and cry in my cradle, I would certainly refuse! Cicero, On Old Age 23.83.

Section 11

Cedo qui vestram rempublicam tantam amisistis tam cito? Come, tell me how you lost your great state so quickly. Cicero, On Old Age 6.20.

Section 12

Nulla nova mihi res inopinave surgit. Nothing confronts me which is new or unexpected. Virgil, Aeneid 6.103–4.

Nihil non arrogant armis. They think that everything must yield to the force of arms. Horace, The Art of Poetry 122.

ardentis massae fulgine lippos. Blinded by the smoke of burning matter. Juvenal, Satires 10.130.

Filiola tua ... [L'Assemblée Nationale]. I am delighted you take pleasure in your daughter, and see the proof that the love of children is nature itself. Indeed, if that is not true, there cannot be any natural bond of one human to another; remove that, and you remove life's fellowship and communion. Cicero, Letters to Atticus 7.2. Burke then adds, "Farewell Master [Rousseau] and your disciples! [the National Assembly]."

Section 13

praeceptorem sancti voluere parentis esse loco. They thought that the teacher had the role of a parent. Juvenal, Satires 7.207–10.

Cum ventum ... aequi. When it comes to the truth, one's character revolts, and expediency itself is the mother of justice and equity. Horace, Satires 1.3.98–99.

Debet ... tissimum. Home ought to be a refuge where you are safest. Paraphrase of Cicero, Against Catiline 4.2.

ubi miseriarum pars non minima erat, videre et aspici. Not the smallest part of one's misery was to see and be seen. Paraphrase of Tacitus, Agricola 45.2.

ea visa salus morientibus una. The only hope of safety for the defeated is to give up the hope of safety. Adaptation of Virgil, Aeneid 2.353–54.

Mox fuerat ... artus. Soon this very thing proved their destruction, and they burnt with fever restored by the furies, and, close to a painful death, they tore at their dismembered limbs with their bare teeth. Virgil, Georgics 3.511–14.

δος που στω. An abbreviated expression in Greek for the saying of Archimedes: "Give me a place to stand and I can move the earth."

Malo meorum neglegentiam, quam istorum obscuram diligentiam. I prefer the carelessness of my people to the dark diligence of yours. Adaptation of Terence, Andria 18–21.

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