View Full Version : Caius Petronius Arbiter

Flatus Veteranus
9th Mar 2002, 23:12
"We trained very hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganised. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganising and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress, while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralisation" - Caius Petronius Arbiter (AD 66) . .. .This gem, which was widely displayed in crew rooms and on office walls at Strike and MOD in the '70s, surfaced again in the Torygraph letters on 7 March. My suspicions were aroused when I could not find it in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. In today's letters, Lord Waldegrave claims that it was invented by a British Army Officer after WW2. I hope he is wrong. BEagle, could you revitalise the myth by exercising your scholarship and translating it back into the Latin? As I mentioned, I never got through Kennedy.

9th Mar 2002, 23:52
Totally false quote I am afraid. Well researched here:. .. . <a href="http://www.research.att.com/~reeds/petronius.html" target="_blank">Petronius Arbiter, Time Traveller</a>

Art Field
10th Mar 2002, 01:23
False it may be but does it matter? A truer . .word(s) ain't never been spoke guv!!!

10th Mar 2002, 15:05
ORAC - You b---rd. I love that quote and use it all the time here in civvie street and now you've gone and ruined it. Well I don't believe you and I'm going to go on mis-quoting it!. .. .Good link by the way.

10th Mar 2002, 17:38
FV - Latina mea mortuus est quam mortissime, I'm afraid - only scraped 'O' level in 1965 and haven't had much desire to study it ever since! I think that means 'My Latin is deader than a dead thing' - but more probably means, "Two flats, two points and a packet of gravel please!". .. .On my first tour, an aviation historian on the sqn commented that one of the first tasks which Cheshire had undertaken during the war was to re-arrange his ops room - 'an event traditionally celebrated by most sqn cdrs ever since!'

10th Mar 2002, 19:54
Wow, Latin, BEagle - since you have these foreign tongues, even more reason you should be first Eurofighter Sqn Boss <img border="0" title="" alt="[Big Grin]" src="biggrin.gif" /> . .. .Can you clear up the Rubicon quote - is it "Alea iacta est" or "Iacta alea est"? I've seen it given both ways...

11th Mar 2002, 00:51
If I may butt into this erudite discussion, I happen to have a copy of the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations to hand. Under "the Die is Cast", it notes: . .. ."Often quoted in Latin, 'Iacta alea est' but originally spoken in Greek: Plutarch, Pompey, 60.2".. .. .From my latin lessons, which ceased in 1960 (even before Beagle's) I would have thought "Alea iacta est" to be correct, the noun coming first. Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable gives this version but this, like my schoolteacher, might be influenced by a modern interpretation of Latin. Then again, over a period of forty-plus years, the mind can play tricks! . .. .Then again, again, why was Julius Caesar talking Greek? Or was that Plutarch talking Greek and making it up? Or am I completely out of my depth?. .. .Retires muttering to empty space on bookshelf........ . . . <small>[ 10 March 2002, 22:15: Message edited by: Groundgripper ]</small>

12th Mar 2002, 02:14
I always thought that it was Petronius Arbiter who died in AD 66 and was the Author of "Satyricon".

12th Mar 2002, 16:32
'Iacta alea est', methinks be the correct version.. .. .His verbis dictis, autem - I'm not 100% sure!. .. .One of the best uses of Latin was to take the pi$$ out of a certain pompous type known variously as 'thrombo' (wandering clot) or 'AWF' (avocado with feet). He loved to stuff his turgid prose with 'inter alia' and other little bits of latin oneupmanship. So I once borrowed 'Le Mot Juste' (an excellent little book for finding obscure quotes) and wrote him a totally meaningless memo filled with 'Nihil ad rem', 'Sub rosa', 'Ob has causas' etc and provided a helpful English translation.... Which is 1 of the many reasons I stayed a Flt Lt for 20 years!. . . . <small>[ 12 March 2002, 12:33: Message edited by: BEagle ]</small>

Just an other number
12th Mar 2002, 20:05
Well what can you believe - . .I checked ORAC's link to Petronius Arbiter and the first entry referring to the House of Lords - . .......... ."Petronius Arbiter, Time Traveller. .Expletive, but I am sick of seeing this fake quote: . .We trained hard . . . but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization. . .Petronius Arbiter, 210 B.C. . .. .I don't know who originated it, but here are some of the misinformed people who think it is legitimate: . ."Baroness Thomas of Walliswood (speaking in the [British] House of Lords, 18 Feb 1997, as reported in Hansards (sic) in column 82 for that day)."". .. .No such reference in Hansard for that day.. .Indeed there is no column 82 that day - which starts at Col 447 - Millenium Funding - New Churches.. .Don't believe everything you see here.. .Don't believe anything you see here.

13th Mar 2002, 00:34
Correct. Obviously a typo. She said it on the 10th.. .. .Lords Hansard (10 Feb 1997) . .Lords Hansard text for 10 Feb 1997 (170210-10). .Education Bill. .. .10 Feb 1997 : Column 82. .. .from all social backgrounds and levels of income come together simply because they live in the same area. I admit that may not be the case in the more difficult and dangerous parts of our inner cities. However, that is no reason to set about destroying those schools in the many parts of this country where they achieve exactly the purpose I have referred to. . .Who takes the decisions about changes in schools? It is interesting that Mark Carlisle, Secretary of State for Education, said in 1979: . .. ."It is our belief that local education authorities and local people--not central Government--are best placed to determine the most suitable form of secondary school organisation in their area".--[Official Report, Commons, 19/6/79; cols. 1120 to 21.] . .That was quoted in the House of Commons briefing on this Bill. I do not think that any noble Lords on this side of the Chamber would quarrel with that. When choice over change is given to parents whose children are currently at a given school, the alteration in school characteristic becomes most dangerous. The noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, made that point neatly. I shall not emphasise it further. . .. .Some interesting remarks were made--there were not as many as I had hoped for--about the general nature of education. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Ripon raised the point. The noble Earl, Lord Baldwin of Bewdley, mourned the decline of community schools and referred to their value as educational institutions. On the whole, perhaps noble Lords felt defeated by the detail of the Bill, finding it difficult to relate that to the broad requirements of education. The noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, was an exception. . .. .I turn to the clauses which caused the most argument--and most amusing and knockabout argument it was, too. My noble friend Lord Tope expressed fluently our views on the principles of selection. I do not need to repeat them. I am not sure that I join with the noble Lord, Lord Morris of Castle Morris, on the salmonella part of the curate's egg. The noble Lord expressed himself with his usual panache and fluency. No doubt the points will be made again by the noble Baroness, Lady Farrington of Ribbleton. . .. .However, we had a spirited argument about comprehensive versus selective schools. Many noble Lords who defended the Bill in this argument defeated their own objective. They referred to the fact that the situation was not good when we had grammar schools; we then changed the organisation and it was still not very good; so we propose to change the organisation again. No doubt many noble Lords are familiar with the well known words written by Petronius more than 2000 years ago about reorganisation. He said that reorganisation can be a wonderful method for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralisation. That is the argument which many hold against the series of Bills since 1979 which have sought to change our educational process. We are not sure whether there were 21, 19 or 18, but there have been too many.

18th Mar 2002, 19:15
BEagle,. .I believe you are right, and so does my old Smith's Latin Dictionary:. .Jacta alea est- putting the participle first emphasises the decisive action envisaged.. .J Caesar is supposed to have said this in 49BC before crossing the Rubicon, which marked the boundary between Republican Italy and cisalpine Gaul, on his way to attack the senate.. .. .And the attribution of the speech on reorganisation is correctly attributed to C Petronius Arbiter- I remember having to translate it many years before the referenced HoL debate.

Dan Winterland
18th Mar 2002, 19:45
And why did Julius Caesar write in Greek? Well, it's because the Roman Aristocracy considered Latin to be a vulgar language and Ancient Greek to be superior - all Roman intellectuals were educated in Greek from an early age. Marcus Aurelius (the 'Philosopher Emperor' ruled AD 191-180) wrote his 'Meditations' entirely in greek.. .. .Not a particularly interesting fact - but true!

19th Mar 2002, 00:29
"Jacta alea est" it is, then. I polled another,completely unconnected, forum and got the same result (someone there was using the same Smith's dictionary as well, Chippy). Told you my latin wasn't much good, it took me three goes to pass O level! I understand that there are also two different versions of Latin - one for the public writings and proclamations and the other for the common herd. Like public school and Estuary English, I suppose.. . . . <small>[ 18 March 2002, 20:31: Message edited by: Groundgripper ]</small>