Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cicero on Cato the Younger

nam Catonem nostrum non tu amas plus quam ego; sed tamen ille optimo animo utens et summa fide nocet interdum rei publicae; dicit enim tamquam in Platonis πολιτείᾳ, non tamquam in Romuli faece sententiam.

Now you love our Cato as much as I do; and yet, with the best of intentions and in utter good faith, he sometimes does harm to the republic. For he expresses his views as if he were in Plato's Republic, not in the dregs of Romulus.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Pencil-long Eels vs. Giant Lampreys

Many people are prepared to go to increasingly extreme lengths to enhance their looks.

But the latest beauty fad, involving bathing in a tank of eels in order to exfoliate the skin, has been condemned by health inspectors as extremely dangerous.

The new treatment is just another in a bewildering array of beauty treatments currently making their way into spas and beauty salons, which experts say are often not regulated as they should be.

The technique, imported from China, involves immersing the full body into a bath of pencil-long eels – an extension of the fish pedicures that were popular in 2011.

Wendy Nixon, a health and safety consultant, last week told a conference hosted by the Chartered Institute for Environmental Health (CIEH), the body which represents health inspectors, that there were problems with the procedure, especially for those wearing loose-fitting swimwear.

"In one case a stray eel found its way through the man’s genitals and into his kidney, and he ended up needing a three-hour operation," Nixon told the conference. "This is the sort of procedure that is coming your way."

The alarming example is reportedly that of Zhang Nan, a 56-year-old man from Hubei province in China.

"I climbed into the bath and I could feel the eels nibbling my body," Mr Nan said shortly after the incident two years ago.

"But then suddenly I felt a severe pain and realised a small eel had gone into the end of my penis.
And it made me think of this:
This same year [15 BC] Vedius Pollio died, a man who in general had done nothing deserving of remembrance, as he was sprung from freedmen, belonged to the knights, and had performed no brilliant deeds; but he had become very famous for his wealth and for his cruelty, so that he has even gained a place in history.

Most of the things he did it would be wearisome to relate, but I may mention that he kept in reservoirs huge lampreys that had been trained to eat men, and he was accustomed to throw to them such of his slaves as he desired to put to death.

Once, when he was entertaining Augustus, his cup-bearer broke a crystal goblet, and without regard for his guest, Pollio ordered the fellow to be thrown to the lampreys.  Hereupon the slave fell on his knees before Augustus and supplicated him, and Augustus at first tried to persuade Pollio not to commit so monstrous a deed. Then, when Pollio paid no heed to him, the emperor said, "Bring all the rest of the drinking vessels which are of like sort or any others of value that you possess, in order that I may use them," and when they were brought, he ordered them to be broken.

When Pollio saw this, he was vexed, of course; but since he was no longer angry over the one goblet, considering the great number of the others that were ruined, and, on the other hand, could not punish his servant for what Augustus also had done, he held his peace, though much against his will.
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