Friday, July 16, 2004

Sed Victa Catoni

Several emails have inquired about the cryptic "Sed Victa Catoni" in the blog title.
The first part, I guess, is easy enough.  For LOTR or Tolkien fans, it is obvious that ____ End is some hobbit hole, which is where most of us would secretly like to live.  Bag End, for example, for the LOTR-challenged.   And, "Wit's End" was a little precious, so....
But the second part is truly obscure, I'll admit.
The answer can be found at greater length here, but I have an excerpt (quoted from the linked source):
"   Lucan wrote, in his Civil War epic, The Pharsalia, "victrix causa diis placuit, sed victa Catoni" ('The victorious cause pleased the gods but the defeated cause pleased Cato'). In death, Cato's obdurate determination was elevated to the high pantheon of Roman patriotism. Caesar appears to have disliked Cato as he disliked few men; it is impossible otherwise to account for Caesar's genuine resentment at Cato's untimely death. He is said to have spoken, as if to the living man, "I envy you this death, for you envied [denied] me the chance to save you." Cassius Dio, Roman History, XLIII. When Cicero and Brutus published posthumous praises of Cato's noble qualities, Caesar published his Anti-Cato, which has not survived but which apparently was viewed disparagingly by his contemporaries. 90 years later, Cato could be seriously described by as having "...a character nearer to that of gods than of men. He never did a right action solely for the sake of seeming to do the right, but because he could not do otherwise." Velleius, History, II, XXXV. Cato, in spite of himself, had passed into legend.    "
My favorite guess, from an email, was that there must be a character on the Sopranos named Victor Catoni.  Then some utterance would be attributed to him as "Said Victor Catoni."  Add the NJ Italian accent, and you have the answer.   That's actually better than the real explanation.


Anonymous said...

I think, as all people think, that NJ people have been unfairly humiliated in this piece, specifically by whoever sent that email. In truth: what exit are you from? otherwise, go back to minnesota. It is true that we (by we, I mean possibly that I am a part of that truly great garden state) have often had our balls busted...reputations marred by having a funny accent. But even the most crass streetwise streetworthy of us would be far fetched to make Said Victor Catoni into Sed Victa Catoni, which for all intensive purposes, I still have no idea what it means.

Ahh well. Latin por Latin, as the Spaniards say. Hominum causa omne justa constantum est, which is duly written with at least five spelling errors, but the general meaning is passed on. Even in tolkien's time (if you saw the the books, you know what I mean..Tolkien was born around 400 BC) the phrase holds true.

But, in the end, since we have put forth commentary on a truly good movie that should have could have been better, may I say that it would have benefitied greatly from stealing hollywood script from spiderman, a truly epic film of magnanimous proportions. 'With great power comes great responsibility' is EXACTLY what tolkien was trying to metaphysically communicate. ironically, it took a man with spider dna to say this in about 1 billion less words.

Veni, Vidi, Vici and whatnot,

Anonymous said...

The comment above is truly psychotic, even for a NJ native.

And, worse for someone who can't tell whether he lives at exit #4 or #5.

Sad. No, really: sad.