Sunday, December 04, 2005

For with my own eyes I saw the Sibyl hanging in a cage, and when the young boys asked her, 'Sibyl, what do you want?', she replied, 'I want to die'

- the epigraph of Eliot's The Wasteland, another poem that concludes with a hindu reference, though a far more obscure one (shantih, shantih, shantih), apparently used as an ending in the upanishads. The epigraqh itself is a quote from the satyricon, a satirical melange of dirty tales and witticisms by petronius, mocking especially the nouveau riche (who seem to be generally resented and derided across societies and eras, aqart from in good old USA, where they seem to be celebrated). petronius was a man of style, famous for dying as elegantly as he had lived. having incurred the displeasure of the infamous empeoror Nero, he of when rome burned fame, and in whose court he served, petronius slit his own veins, sealing and unsealing them so that he passed slowly from one world to the next, spending his final hours in amusements with friends and still finding time for a final tale mocking his emperor. Frederico Fellini made a surreal looking film version of the Satyricon, which didn't particularly make any sense when I last saw it, but perhaqs another viewing is in order.


nicknames for new wealth are not unique to the firangis of course. platt's urdu dictionary was published in 19th century, but gives an urdu word with exactly the same meaning, in fact the literal translation is new wealth:

nau-daulat, s.m. A novus homo, a parvenu, an upstart.