Lion of the Blogosphere

Utopia, the first sentence

The dumbed-down Paul Turner translation, which I obtained from the Kobo bookstore (and a BIG thank you to a reader who sent me a gift) (and although I must advise people that it’s illegal to pirate books and you should never do anything illegal, out of mere curiosity with no intent to violate the law, I checked the Library Genesis pirate site and the Paul Turner translation was not to be found):

THERE was recently a rather serious difference of opinion between that great expert in the art of government, His Invincible Majesty, King Henry the Eighth of England, and His Serene Highness, Prince Charles of Castile. His Majesty sent me to Flanders to discuss and settle the matter,

Thomas More did actually travel to Flanders in 1515 (501 years ago) on behalf of King Henry VIII as a member of a diplomatic mission. The pretense of the book is that Thomas More is himself and is merely recounting the words of a guy named Raphael who is supposed to have sailed the world with Amerigo Vespucci and thereby encountered many strange and distant lands.

One purpose of this narrative device is to create a barrier of plausible deniability, so that any heretical thoughts are attributed not to Thomas More, the actual author, but to the fictional Raphael. Thomas More occasionally disagrees with Raphael in order to demonstrate that this crazy stuff is coming from Raphael and not himself.

And Thomas More also has to suck up to his boss, King Henry VIII. If you watched the TV series The Tudors—and if you haven’t, then you should, very awesome series—then you know that King Henry VIII had a lot of people killed, so it was important to suck up to him. And as you may already know, if you know your history, More himself was eventually sentenced to death for not agreeing with King Henry VIII, although the disagreement had nothing to do with the book Utopia.

Given that we are entering into a new era of censorship, maybe it would be wise for HBD bloggers to adopt this posture, and pretend they agree with the mainstream liberal dogma and attribute taboo HBD thoughts to fictional characters like Raphael whom the bloggers pretend to disagree with.

* * *

It’s also worth pointing out that More wrote this book in Latin, obviously not his native language. People today think we are smarter than the people of the past, but 500 years ago smart people were apparently able to read and write in Latin and Greek in addition to their native speaking language. And even though I consider myself to be pretty smart, I had to buy the dumbed-down Paul Turner translation because I was too intellectually lazy to figure out the 1901 translation that’s available for free and probably more accurately follows the run-on sentence structure of the original Latin.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 7, 2016 at 9:20 am

Posted in Books

57 Responses

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  1. ‘but 500 years ago smart people were apparently able to read and write in Latin and Greek in addition to their native speaking language’.

    I’ve met people educated in Russian gymnasiums prior to the revolution and they were highly educated and fluent in several languages. I wish youth literature of that period was available in good translation for my kids and grandkids to read.


    August 7, 2016 at 9:43 am

    • We still have Latin as an elective subject in many Czech gymnasiums.


      August 7, 2016 at 1:20 pm

      • You guys must be great at doing stuff like flips and shite too. Damn. Be like in the Olympics every day!


        August 7, 2016 at 2:45 pm

      • Was it offered under communists or did it come back since their fall?


        August 7, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    • Some Russians that I’ve met follow this archetype of being intelligent, cultured, well-read, and multilingual. Unfortunately this type is almost entirely missing in the US — In the US the idea of a culture worth learning and preserving is gone, replaced by poseurs with self-help philosophies or imported foreign ones.

      Panther of the Blogocube

      August 7, 2016 at 1:27 pm

      • Yes, but they effing love science.


        August 7, 2016 at 5:24 pm

      • Something about the centuries of suffering seems to have given Russians a soul. The centuries of comfort, convenience and prosperity may have drained us Yanks of much of ours. Next to the emotionally scarred Humbert Humbert’s I often feel like the shallow bubble gum popping celebrity obsessed Lolita.

        People talk about White Privilege. They really need to think about American Privilege. Whatever we all think about immigrants, some of the brightest lights among us who best grasp the freedom and opportunity our time and place offer are the newcomers. Hat tip to folks among us like Yakov etc. Whatever kind of wall gets built, I do hope they manage to make a great beautiful golden door or a velvet rope to let the ones in who love the country and its ideas maybe even more than the ones born here.

        Thin-Skinned Masta-Beta

        August 7, 2016 at 9:13 pm

  2. “…but 500 years ago smart people were apparently able to read and write in Latin and Greek in addition to their native speaking language.”

    Seriously? You do understand that you’re comparing about 1%, at most, of their population with at least 50% of ours?


    August 7, 2016 at 10:46 am

    • Jesse, he did specify smart people. On the net somewhere is an 8th grade test that was given to US students 100 years ago. I doubt most college students could pass it today.


      August 7, 2016 at 3:54 pm

      • “On the net somewhere is an 8th grade test that was given to US students 100 years ago.”


        I’m surrounded by morons.


        August 8, 2016 at 3:56 am

      • To specify, it was a test to determine whether or not you’d progress to the next stage in schooling without your parents having to pony up for private school. They were looking for the best and brightest. As recently as the 1950s, only half of people even graduated from high school.


        August 8, 2016 at 3:57 am

      • Apologies for the insult.


        August 8, 2016 at 4:04 am

  3. “Given that we are entering into a new era of censorship, maybe it would be wise for HBD bloggers to adopt this posture, and pretend they agree with the mainstream liberal dogma and attribute taboo HBD thoughts to fictional characters like Raphael whom the bloggers pretend to disagree with.”

    This is akin to the argument that much of Shakespeare can be read as hidden Catholic doctrine (not permitted at the time) or as subversive commentary. Having at one time spent much time with his works I slowly found myself opening up to this view. That Elizabeth 1 herself believed his staging of Richard III to have inspired an uprising by Lord Essex supports this view. Read an academic article outlining the Catholic-orientation argument once. It was very interesting.


    August 7, 2016 at 10:49 am

    • The oppressive climate of “Our Current Year” may be a boon for the arts and literature. Didn’t classics of Russian literature also flourish under the careful eye of Czarist censor and those authors have to cultivate a clever style to survive?

      Looking forward to reading “Circumvention of SJW Censors with Humor… for Dummies” when it is finally released.

      Thin-Skinned Masta-Beta

      August 7, 2016 at 9:03 pm

  4. Notable Philosophers during the period of Thomas More were all bilingual in written form.

    Francis Bacon also wrote in Latin. Descartes wrote in French and Latin. Spinoza (a Sephardic Jew) was a polyglot, and wrote in Dutch and Latin.

    Intellectual Laziness is a sign of prole behavior. America is an archetypal, intellectual desert.


    August 7, 2016 at 10:49 am

    • What the fuck does this post, or anything that you mentioned have to do with America troll? Do you have some kind of mental illness where you need to blurt out “I hate America” at random times?

      You must be a real happy person, JS. You hate America, but you choose to live there. Btw when are you leaving this site?


      August 8, 2016 at 2:28 am

  5. Have you read Hilary Mantel’s books on Thomas Beckett? They’re outstanding, and they paint pretty graphic picture of Thomas More.


    August 7, 2016 at 10:52 am

    • I think you mean Thomas Cromwell. Thomas Becket was the Archbishop of Canterbury murdered by a group of King Henry II’s knights inside Canterbury Cathedral in 1170.


      August 7, 2016 at 9:32 pm

      • Yes, you’re right. My apologies. But Mantel’s picture of More is outstandingly good.


        August 8, 2016 at 3:59 am

  6. Leo Strauss had much to say about “esoteric writing,” in which the author’s real views are hidden in a text that also has a contradictory normal (exoteric reading. See:

    Leo Strauss’s essays “Persecution and the Art of Writing” and “On a Forgotten Kind of Writing”
    Arthur Melzer’s book “Philosophy Between the Lines:The Lost History of Esoteric Writing”


    August 7, 2016 at 11:15 am

  7. “500 years ago smart people were apparently able to read and write in Latin and Greek in addition to their native speaking language.”

    This is surprising only to monolingual Americans. Today’s scientists and scholars from around the world, regardless of their native language, write their articles and books in English. Thomas More wrote in Latin which was the language of the scholarly community in his day.


    August 7, 2016 at 11:39 am

    • When they established The Technion in pre-state Haifa, there was a big argument as to whether the language of tuition was to be Hebrew or German. The nationalists won.


      August 7, 2016 at 3:56 pm

      • The argument wasn’t just about the Technion, but about Israel itself. Herzel, in his ‘Altneuland’, thought that German was an appropriate language to adopt. But if you are not establishing Technion for nationalist reasons, why bother? Hebrew sometimes was forced on the unwilling refugee population, like the German intellectuals, who thought themselves the cream of the cultured crop, and that was a good thing. A Hebrew speaking peasant was more important then a German speaking Technion professor for the revival of the nation. Professor had to adapt and that was a good thing.

        Jews are multilingual population in general. Vast majority of religious Ashkenazi Jews read and write in Hebrew, many know Yiddish. Lion you are missing a lot.


        August 7, 2016 at 5:32 pm

      • Was it really the case that a Hebrew speaking peasant was more important to the Israeli nation than a German-speaking professor. Zionist theory held that the Jewish people would be normalized by having their own physical nation and no longer need to prove themselves exceptional to survive. But it hasn’t quite worked out that way because a large part of the world’s population (Muslims, Jew-haters of other origins, Neturei Karta type Jews) considers Israel to be illegitimate and will never allow it to be just another nation no matter what it does. Israel’s survival thus depends to a great extent on maintaining technological superiority over its enemies so that it can overpower them in battle. Are peasants more likely to achieve that outcome than professors?


        August 7, 2016 at 9:46 pm

      • Yes, the pretext for the creation of the State of Israel, was that Jews were to have their own country. Yakov is trying to say that it was the peasants and people of the lower classes (whom we call proles) who would engage in this manual labor process of building it from scratch. Professors do not engage in this kind of grunt work. Intellectual bourgeois are parasitic by nature. Without proles, there would be no civilization.


        August 7, 2016 at 11:18 pm

      • @nebbish

        You are correct about today, and even then an individual professor would have been more important. However, the nation needed to be reborn, the land redeemed, the vineyards planted, the sheep raised. So the professors needed to be mainstream and that was a good thing. Scratch what Zionism wanted. Jews are not a normal nation and will never be a normal nation – they are an exception and an anamoly in the history of the world. However, being normal in the sense of having our historical national attributes revived is a good thing. Zionism to me is Jewish national independence. This is the uniting idea of all Zionist parties regardless of ideology. Once the Temple is rebuild and the sacrifices are renewed, I don’t know. This will complete the historical process of our restoration and we should become our true selves. So I don’t know what we’ll look like then. I hope we’ll be something awesome.


        August 7, 2016 at 11:18 pm

  8. It seemed like all the old classic works used that dialogue style. Like Plato’s Republic. Or the dialogue with Boethius’ “muse” in the Consolations of Philosophy. The style is rather tiresome IMO. But it hadn’t occurred to me that the writers used “others” to voice impious or impolitic thoughts.

    Mrs Stitch

    August 7, 2016 at 11:41 am

  9. Schopenhauer lamented the fact that Latin was being used less and less in his time among the intellectual elite.

    He says:

    “A person who doesn’t understand any Latin resembles someone who finds himself in a beautiful landscape in foggy weather: his horizon is extremely limited. He sees only the closet things clearly; a few steps away everything dissolves into uncertainty. The horizon of the Latinist, on the other hand, is very broad, going through recent centuries, the Middle Ages and antiquity. — Greek, or even Sanskrit, widens the horizon much more still. — One who understands no Latin belongs to the masses, even if he’s a great virtuoso in electronics and knows the composition of the radical of fluoridic acid.”)


    August 7, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    • That’s racist. Why don’t you just admit that you don’t think languages like Swahili, Ebonics or Maipure are important and have increased our Diversity.


      August 7, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    • Arabic kicks @ss – You have access to Aristotle’s works (Muslims translated his works before the Latins) and other seedier stuff, like Islamic law with Sharia of amputating people’s hands, to works of very right wing Islamic scholars, that inspired groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS.


      August 7, 2016 at 3:35 pm

  10. I couldn’t justify spending the time and effort to learn another language simply for the sake of reading an ancient text in its original tongue, Not when any text worth reading would have long since had a good English translation. That wasn’t the case 500 years ago. Rather than translating books into 30 languages so everyone could read them, they simply translated everything into Latin. Then people learned Latin so they could read everything from other countries.


    August 7, 2016 at 2:25 pm

  11. Latin isn’t that hard if you’re taught since childhood for hours a day, as people did in More’s time.


    August 7, 2016 at 2:53 pm

  12. I was never able to learn Latin (2 years in high school, a summer intensive during grad school) or Greek (tried to teach myself), so what I say about this is worthless, but it seems to me that Cicero’s Latin translations of Aristotle (“form”, “matter”, “potency”, “actuality”, substance”, “principle” — all meaningless crap-words) destroyed Aristotle forever for everyone, that the Latin destruction of Aristotle made all of medieval European philosophy completely worthless, that the worthlessness of medieval European philosophy made Descartes’ and Spinoza’s writing nearly unintelligible, that the near-meaninglessness of most of what they wrote (due to the Latin virus that infested their minds) made any coherent philosophical writing afterwards almost impossible; that the lederhosen-wearing mustache-twerp made matters worse by trying to invent an alternate and equally unintelligible technical vocabulary, and that 99% of all philosophical writing is therefore almost entirely worthless because of … Latin.


    August 7, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    • E.O. Wilson, big sociobiology hero, thinks philosophy is mostly failed theories of the brain. It’s all been superseded by science.


      August 7, 2016 at 3:59 pm

      • See? He starts philosophizing and talks crap. WHAT has been “superseded by science?” What’s the “all” here?


        August 7, 2016 at 7:50 pm

  13. I was just reading a book that claimed (quite convincingly I think) that Alice in Wonderland is in part Lewis Caroll’s satirical diatribe about changes at Oxford University in the mid-19th century. Carroll was the pen name of Mathematics professor Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and the real Alice’s father was the dean of the university Henry Liddell. Liddell incensed traditionalists like Dodgson by introducing “liberal” reforms such as allowing classes in English instead of Latin (and forcing students to actually show up for classes.)

    Less than two centuries ago Latin was a living language and understood fluently by Western civilizations elite.

    Lionel of the Richiesphere

    August 7, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    • We have a downfall of America, because our current elites are just petty tyrants, or should I say the petty bourgeois, or better yet, bourprolo.

      The French Bourgeoise were snobs for a reason. They were intellectually inclined.


      August 7, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    • latin is very hard to learn compared to english or the romance languages.

      because it’s extremely inflected…each verb has 300+ inflections…

      english is the least inflected indo-european langauge, and the romance languages are the least inflected language group. this is because england was conquered by french speaking vikings in 1066. so english is basically a pidgin/creole.

      what is worthwhile is learning the rules for making latin and ancient greek words into english words.

      basically the whole latin and greek vocabulary can be used in english if one is so inclined.

      also one can look down on those who mix latin and greek in one word. “-ize” is a greek morpheme but it’s used with latin stems routinely.

      and for christians ancient greek is important because the entire new testament was written in koine…except for “eli eli lama sabachthani”. christianity is a legacy of alexander.

      Trumpocalypse Now

      August 7, 2016 at 4:56 pm

      • There is no such word as ‘sabachthani’ in either Hebrew or Aramaic. What they were looking for was ‘azavtanti’ (עזבתני) – meaning ‘have abandoned me’.


        August 7, 2016 at 5:46 pm

      • I think Hebrew characters demonstrate the fact that Jews have a lower visual IQ. They are not very attractive or intricate, even if you try very hard with decent penmanship.

        This comes from Maimonides:

        Even the Arabs were able to pen nicer cursive than Jews.

        This comes from Averroes, a contemporary of Maimonides, who was Muslim:

        This is HBD and language.


        August 7, 2016 at 6:35 pm

      • After having posted, I did some research because this expression realy didn’t make any sense. And I dug up some interesting things. Some suggest that word used is שבקתני which pronounced as ‘shavaktani’. The root שבק might have been used in that sense in spoken language. As far as the pronounciation, the crowd was sufficiently far and Jesus was weakened by the ordeal, so the words were not clearly pronounced and heard. Or maybe it was a regional pronunciation that we don’t have a record off? On the other hand, ‘Eli, Eli, lama azavtanti’ is proper Hebrew and occurs in Psalms and Jewish liturgi. It expresses a man’s perception of being abandoned by G-d. But what does it mean here? Jesus feels abandoned? But he isn’t a man? I dunno. I would expect to hear from him the words of hope and faith, not of despair. This isn’t a Jewish ending.


        August 7, 2016 at 6:42 pm

      • @JS

        Hebrew alphabet has 22 consonants each one representing a different sound. Originally there were no vowel marks. The writing is phonetic, which means that if you can pronounce it, or at least know how it should be pronounced, you can spell it correctly. You don’t know under what conditions Maimonides was writing the text. Hebrew writing is simple and straight forward because the Jews focus on content rather then form.

        This is HBD and language.


        August 7, 2016 at 8:04 pm

      • Thus, Jews focused on content rather than form, because they inherently could not devise a fancier writing system.

        African sculpture is very primitive, when you compare it to Greco-Roman sculpture.


        August 7, 2016 at 9:28 pm

      • @JS

        Stop trolling and stop playing dumb. The Jews focused on content because that’s what scholarship is about.


        August 7, 2016 at 9:44 pm

      • No, it’s what you call HBD, Jews have a lower visual IQ than other Semites/Caucasoids, thus, their alphabet looks less aesthetically pleasing. It has nothing to do with content over form. The alphabet came to existence, before those religious scholars “deemed” it to be simple.


        August 7, 2016 at 10:46 pm

      • Hebrew, Greek, look similar to me.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        August 7, 2016 at 11:35 pm

      • Not at all, Greek has certain letters that look similar to those of the Latin Alphabet, but bear very little semblance to Hebrew.


        August 8, 2016 at 1:21 am

      • @JS

        Furthermore, to reclaim and settle the land high IQ people turned to agriculture and communal living. You find that many decentendents of the founding fathers of the kibbutz movement became academics. Those were not your typical proles. My nephew is a professor of computer science, whereas his grandfather was a founding member of a socialist kibbutz. You have to wrap your head around the fact that Jews are different.


        August 8, 2016 at 9:30 am

      • @JS

        The point is that Greek script doesn’t demonstrate higher visual IQ then Hebrew. Muslims spend their days memorizing the Koran without understanding the text to become a hafiz, Jews spend their days disecting Talmudic arguments. At 2:00 she starts talking about Muslim learning.


        August 8, 2016 at 9:41 am

      • The original Kibbutz settlers of the Degania, were professionals without any farming knowledge, who used native Palestinian Arabs to assist them with the tilling of the land and agriculture. Essentially, any nation formation requires these kind of proles. As always, Jews from Europe weren’t of this sort of people, so they had to use them. Eventually, they realized this arrangement would not lead to a Jewish state, so they had to learn the techniques themselves, therefore many of these professionals who were academics, became farmers.


        August 8, 2016 at 10:30 am

  14. If you believe Wittgenstein, the form of expression is very important in encoding true meaning. Words having different context and meaning, even in English at various times. A rigorous scholar should of course, learn Latin/Greek etc to understand the mind of the writer. That’s why we have classicists to study these things.

    My dear hope though is that the even worse problem of historical sanitation doesn’t happen in that particular process, whereby, for example, Abe Lincoln’s old english writings are ‘taken to mean’ he really didn’t want to resettle African Americans and Ben Graham’s essays on immigration are ‘taken to mean’ he was actually just wary of religious intolerance and not race per se (and getting more disingenuous as the texts get older).

    People with feminine brains do a lot of that revisionism. God knows how many classical texts have been “lost” or totally disfigured to stop a surplus faction’s narrative control. I imagine early Christian writings would have seemed pretty pagan to even 7th C Irish scholars and had to be ‘taken to mean’ something else for the masses.

    Its actually very smart what some of the greats had to do to preserve their ideas using metaphor, symbolism, and plausible strawmen not only for fear of social ostracism and execution but to head off later attempts to destroy or revise those texts. Very smart. Lesson noted.

    The Philosopher

    August 7, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    • Having a knowledge of Arabic doesn’t hurt either, if you want to track the evolution of Aristotle and Aristotelianism.


      August 7, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    • A local politician was lambasted today for supporting Trump because, as his opponent stated, Trump insults women (collective sense) and minorities (again collective sense). Anyone recall him doing either?


      August 7, 2016 at 8:39 pm

      • Women and minorities from clannish backgrounds are much more likely to interpret an attack against one member of their group as an attack against all of them.


        August 7, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    • “My dear hope though is that the even worse problem of historical sanitation doesn’t happen in that particular process”

      Of course Hillary was always an enthusiastic supporter of gay marriage…
      Of course Caitlyn Jenner was was the first American woman to have won a gold medal in the Decathlon in 1976.

      Don’t worry about revision of historical understanding. Accept with resignation.

      @js I’ll confess profound ignorance of the Arab Cultures and Islam, but the Arabic script to my eyes is beautiful. Maybe when Houellebecq’s Submission comes true, it all won’t be so bad.

      @Lion It’d be a miracle for our little book club if that Paul Turner translation showed up as an epub at library genesis. If anybody’s looking for a tutorial on how to make epubs conveniently portable, look for Apprentice Alf and inept. Also if we’re going to spend money on books, it’s excellent to consider services like Kobo that are alternatives to the market leader. The number one certainly has a fine product and service, but competition does keep the market alive.

      Thin-Skinned Masta-Beta

      August 7, 2016 at 8:59 pm

  15. When it came to his demise, More gave as well as he got.,


    August 8, 2016 at 8:51 pm

  16. Here’s an interesting story involving Latin and Lion’s constant theme of class.

    My parents were prole WASPs, but they grew up in a solidly middle-class township and school system that was heavily Jewish. I think it was literally like 90% Jewish when they went to school there. Despite what must have been an alienating experience growing up, they chose to live there as adults and send us to the same school system they went to. (By the time I was in school, it was more like 70% Jewish because of the influx of blacks and Asians.) I was a smart kid, so I was placed in classes with the other smart kids, the majority of whom were Jewish, and a good number of whom were more upper-middle class (leading to a lot of class envy on my part.) My father always emphasized practicality, and I think had a lot of class envy himself (he never knew what to do with his life, stumbled into self-employment as a home remodeling contractor, and was envious of people who had white-collar jobs where they got to stay seated in air conditioned offices all day, not get dirty or lift heavy objects, and have a salary, benefits, paid vacation, etc.,) so he wanted his kids to be more “successful” than he was. So, at the end of 6th grade, when it came time for us to pick a foreign language, he told me I should take Spanish, on the grounds that it would be “useful,” because there were so many Spanish speakers around.

    Now, toward the end of 6th grade, at school, they gave us a test called the Pimsleur Language Aptitude Battery, which was designed to determine how good we would be at learning a language. This information was supposed to be useful because it could help us decide how difficult or easy a language we should take. The score was on a scale from 1-10, but we were told because of standardization, the 10 was a theoretical maximum only; the highest a real person ever scored was a 9. I, along with the other smartest kids in school, got a 9. All of those kids were from higher-class families than I, with professional parents, and they all opted for Latin. I chose Spanish, because that’s what my dad told me to do, and when you’re that age your dad is the supreme alpha male and you believe whatever he says. I was the only kid who got a 9 on the Pimsleur test who took anything other than Latin. Some of the other kids even made fun of me for it–I remember one kid (who apparently is now some kind of finance bigshot) say to another “I got a 7 and I’m taking Latin; this kid gets a 9 and picks Spanish!”

    The thing is, despite what my prole father believed about “usefulness” being important, all those upper-middle class kids who took “useless” Latin went on to Ivy League schools, Duke, Stanford, etc. and became doctors, lawyers, and business executives, while I floundered, majoring in a useless liberal arts subject just like my father had done and failed to launch after college, having no idea what to do with my life. The point is, this is another example of how proles often have the wrong idea about success, believing that it’s determined by doing what’s useful or practical, rather than by (as in the case of those other kids, whose upper-middle class parents knew how to steer them through the system in the right way by, inter alia, encouraging them to take Latin) getting in with other successful people and living the way they do.


    August 8, 2016 at 9:39 pm

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