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Finder's Guide

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'Argos…This dog lying in the manure' ('Este perro tirado en el estiércol’)

Fishburn and Hughes: In the Odyssey, Odysseus' faithful dog, who is the first to recognise him on his return to Ithaca. CF 190: The passage describes how Odysseus had raised and trained the dog but never hunted with him before leaving for the Trojan war. Nineteen years later Argos is lying 'on the deep pile of dung' which is to be used for manure: 'Now, as he perceived that Odysseus had come close to him, / he wagged his tail, and laid back both his ears...' and died (Odyssey 17. 290- 327). The Inmortal

'Contempsit caros dum nos amat ille parentes'

Fishburn and Hughes: 'While loving us, he despised his dear parents', the Latin epitaph inscribed by the people of Ravenna on the tomb of Droctulft. The epitaph is quoted in full by Paul the Deacon in his Acts of the Lombards (3.19) and by Benedetto Croce in La Poesia. See 'Terribilis visu facies...' Story of the Warrior and the Captive Maiden

'Mon siège est fait'

Fishburn and Hughes: 'My siege is done': the reply attributed to René Aubert (1655-1735), abbé of Vertot, when he rejected fresh documentation on the siege of Rhodes brought to him after he had completed his account of the event (d'Alembert, Reflexions sur l'Histoire). Guayaquil

'Ne craignez point, Monsieur, la tortue' ('Sir, don't fear the tortoise')

Fishburn and Hughes: From a letter written by Leibniz in January 1692 to Simon Foucher (1644-1696), a philosopher who applied the Cartesian method of doubt in the quest for truth. The letter stresses the need to illustrate the working of all accepted 'axioms' to further the progress of science. In particular Leibniz asserts the axiom that 'nature does not make jumps', from which it follows that all matter is infinitely divisible. With regard to motion, Leibniz agrees with Foucher that all space is infinitely divisible and adds that infinitely divisible space exists in a time which is also infinitely divisible. In the contest with the tortoise, Achilles need not Tear the tortoise': the total time (and total distance) necessary for Achilles to catch up with the tortoise can be expressed as the sum of an infinite geometric progression in which each term is smaller than the previous one. While the number of terms is infinite, because the terms become infinitely small, their sum is a finite quantity. At that point Achilles reaches, and begins to overtake, the tortoise. This provides a mathematical resolution of Zeno's famous paradox. The ideas expanded in this letter reflect Leibniz's earlier work on the infinitesimal calculus. Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote

'Not one but all things attributed by tradition to Judas Iscariot are false' ('No una cosa, todas las cosas que la tradición atribuye a Judas Iscariote son falsas')

Fishburn and Hughes: A quotation from De Quincey on Judas Iscariot in Speculative and Theological Essays (1857). The argument of the essay is, in De Quincey's words, based on speculations 'first broached by German theologians and by Archbishop Whateley'. The text reads: 'Not one thing but all things must rank as false which traditionally we accept about him' (Writings, ed. David Mason, vol.8, 177). Judas believed that 'Christ contemplated a temporal kingdom' and the liberation of his people from the Roman authorities. Therefore it was important that Christ should be forced into action by an outsider and should commit himself without hesitation. According to De Quincey, Judas believed he was fulfilling his master's innermost purpose by denouncing him, thinking that Christ's arrest would arouse all the people of Jerusalem. The essay concludes with a disquisition on the death of Judas, of which we have two different reports, one in Matthew and the other in the Acts of the Apostles, adding that the Church is left to explain the contradictions of this 'memorable domestic tragedy'. Three Versions of Judas

'Terribilis visu facies, sed mente benignus, / Longaque robusto pectore barba fuit!'

Fishburn and Hughes: 'He was of frightening appearance but had a gentle nature / and his long beard fell on his strong chest': from the anonymous epitaph to Droctulft which appears in full in Paul the Deacon's History of the Lombards (3. 19). The lines are quoted by Gibbon in chapter 45 of the Decline and Fall to describe 'the influence of climate and example' which the Lombards underwent in contact with the culture of Italy. Gibbon remarks that the Lombards so succumbed to the influence of those they conquered that by the fourth generation 'they surveyed with curiosity and affright the portraits of their savage forefathers'. The lines are quoted also by Croce in La Poesia as an example of poetry blossoming spontaneously in the most unexpected situations. See 'Contempsit caros ...' Story of the Warrior and the Captive Maiden

'The river nymphs and the dolorous and humid Echo' ('Las ninfas de los ríos, la dolorosa y húmida Eco')

Fishburn and Hughes: A quotation from Don Quixote, part 1, ch.26. The Knight of the Doleful Countenance, having decided to imitate the style of Amadis of Gaul (the hero of an early romance of chivalry), engraves lamentations on the bark of a tree and calls on the mythical creatures of the woods and 'the river nymphs and the dolorous and humid Echo' for consolation. Rodríguez Martín in his notes to the Clásicos Castellanos edition offers the following explanation for the epithets 'dolorous and humid'. The nymph Echo, daughter of Air and Earth, is condemned by Juno to silence except for repeating the last two syllables of anything said to her. She is called dolorous and humid because, having been rejected by Narcissus for her disabilities, she retires to the caverns and glens, where she is consumed by grief. Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote

'The wizard who fashioned a labyrinth and was then doomed to wander in it' ('El hechicero que teje un laberinto y que se ve forzado a errar en él')

Fishburn and Hughes: Perhaps an allusion to the myth of Daedalus. Daedalus, on the orders of King Minos, constructed a labyrinth for the Minotaur to live in and trap his victims. Fearing that Daedalus would reveal the secret of his design, Minos imprisoned him in the labyrinth with his son Icarus. Daedalus thereupon made wings for himself and his son, and they both flew out of the labyrinth. Deutsches Requiem

'There seemed a certainty in degradation'.

Fishburn and Hughes: A quotation from chapter 103 of T.E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom. The chapter is entitled 'Myself and consists of a self-analysis on the author's thirtieth birthday. Near to fulfilling the ambitions of four years earlier, at the start of his Arab adventure Lawrence feels unworthy of the 'trust' and 'favourable opinion' he enjoys and wonders if all established reputations like his are 'founded on fraud'. He confesses that, though he has always craved to be popular and famous and has been afraid of failure, he has also felt a deep attraction for base behaviour. 'There seemed a certainty in degradation,' he explains: a kind of safety, for no matter how high one could rise there was a limit below which one could not fall. Averroës’ Search

'Thus fought the heroes, tranquil their admirable hearts...' 'Así combatieron los héroes...'

Fishburn and Hughes: A pseudo-Chinese literary reference, untypical since military heroism is not a common theme in Chinese literature. In early Chinese poetry references to bravery were normally connected with hunting. In later periods military figures were presented as tragic victims who had died on distant borders and whose souls wandered unhappily, or as errant husbands who had abandoned their wives for long periods. Only in popular fiction do bandit-warriors attain heroic stature. The Garden of Forking Paths

'Ultra Auroram et Gangen'

Fishburn and Hughes: Latin for 'beyond sunrise and the Ganges': an adaption of the line 'usque Auroram et Gangen' ('as far as sunrise and the Ganges') from the opening lines of Juvenal's tenth satire. The theme of the satire is that throughout the known world 'only a few know what is really good' and 'can see their way through the fog of deception'. Ambition for power and authority is based on the mistaken belief that they last, while in both the present and the past the lives of the great and powerful have shown that such privileges are fickle and short-lived. Only virtues are worth desiring. Given that India is frequently used by Borges as a metaphor for the universe, by replacing 'usque' with 'ultra' and extending the spatial allusion of the original verse the narrator adds further connotations of remoteness to the land in which the story is set, with implications of infinity. The Man on the Threshold

'Was almost an impiety' ('Era una casi impiedad')

Fishburn and Hughes: A quotation from the novel Rebellion in the Backlands (1902) by Euclides Da Cunha. The paragraph from which it is taken describes the religious fervour and asceticism of the followers of Antonio Conselheiro in Canudos. The author comments that their lack of concern for material things 'carried far enough...led to the loss of high moral qualities...': 'To Antonio Conselheiro...strength of character was something like a form of vanity, it was almost an impiety', for 'it implied a forgetfulness of the marvellous longed-for beyond. His depressed moral sense was only capable of understanding the latter in contrast to sufferings endured' (trans. Samuel Putnam, University of Chicago, 1944,150). Three Versions of Judas