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#129916 - 07/01/04 01:32 PM Balbus
Hieronymus Offline

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 1
I note that there was some interest a while ago about Balbus. In case there is still interest, I offer the following. From circumstantial evidence, I am 90% sure that the proverbial factoid that Balbus built a wall derives from a Latin exercise book in use in Britain around 1900 ( that is, exercises from Latin to English, vice versa, or both). There must have been some sentence like Balbus murum fecit.

If dxb could remember what book he was using in that stultifying Latin class of his, that would give us a clue.

#129917 - 07/07/04 12:00 PM Re: Balbus
dxb Offline

Registered: 03/06/02
Posts: 1692
Loc: UK
Wheee! Sorry, but that *would be a feat of memory! Mind you we're not talking 1900 here, but still I wouldn't be surprised if the book dated back that far. The Latin master did.

#129918 - 07/07/04 01:15 PM Re: Notker Balbulus Balbum vulnerat
jheem Offline

Registered: 01/06/04
Posts: 1475
Loc: California
There must have been some sentence like Balbus murum fecit.

Not sure about Balbus making a wall, but Google unearthed these bits about Balbus building one. The first has to do with Baden-Powell's Boy Scouts, the second with Wodehouse (in Tale of St. Austin's, 1903), and the third an article from the early 1900s on science and Buddhism.


O Baden-Powell Gilwellensis, et vos O Magister Scoutorum, et vos O Roveri Exploralores ! Balbus murum aedificavit, or as the poet puts it with more felicity:

"Sanatogen radox ellimans embrocation for bruises,
Kolynos veet vapex; vita-wheat varicose veins,
Cascara sagrada zox, enos zambuk ryvita,
Pepsodent euthymol, ellimans also for sprains."


And ...

These voluminous notes are apt to prove a nuisance in more ways than one. Your average master is generally inordinately fond of them, and will frequently ask some member of the form to read his note on so-and-so out to his fellows. This sometimes leads to curious results, as it is hardly to be expected that the youth called upon will be attending, even if he is awake, which is unlikely. On one occasion an acquaintance of mine, 'whose name I am not at liberty to divulge', was suddenly aware that he was being addressed, and, on giving the matter his attention, found that it was the form-master asking him to read out his note on Balbus murum aedificavit. My friend is a kind-hearted youth and of an obliging disposition, and would willingly have done what was asked of him, but there were obstacles, first and foremost of which ranked the fact that, taking advantage of his position; on the back desk (whither he thought the basilisk eye of Authority could not reach), he had substituted Bab Ballads for the words of Virgil, and was engrossed in the contents of that modern classic. The subsequent explanations lasted several hours. In fact, it is probable that the master does not understand the facts of the case thoroughly even now. It is true that he called him a 'loathsome, slimy, repulsive toad', but even this seems to fall short of the grandeur of the situation.

And ...

It is the difference between the schoolboy who painfully construes "Balbus murum ĉdificavit," and the Roman who announces that historic fact without a thought of his grammer.


Seems to me that it probably is from some old Latin grammar book.


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