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Chapter & Verse

Correspondence on not-so-famous lost words

July-August 2015

Stuart Kirsch seeks a source “for what many commentators, including Alan Dershowitz in The Vanishing American Jew, refer to as a ‘quip’ or ‘anecdote’: ‘A Jew is defined as someone who has (or will have) Jewish grandchildren.’”


Stephen Josephs asks who declared, “A generalization is useful only insofar as one’s knowledge of the particulars will take him.” He has heard it attributed to Henry James.


“his error is himself” (May-June). Gene Dwyer, who kept his Greek Aa textbook, wrote, “The (unattributed) apothegm ‘The Two Packs’ is cited in Lesson 12 in Chase and Phillips, A New Introduction to Greek (1961), 43 (I translate, with Chase’s and Phillips’s help): ‘Each man carries two packs, one before and one behind. And each is full of faults. The one before carries the faults of others, and the other those of the man himself. Because of this men do not see their own faults, but they very keenly see those of others.’” After consulting Kenyon College colleague William McCulloh, he added: “The fable can be found in Greek in B.E. Perry, Aesopica I (1952), no. 266, and the Latin version in Phaedrus, book IV, fable 10 (Loeb Classical Library 436, pages 316-17 (1975). In both cases, credit the legendary Aesop!”


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