Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Poets' Poem I:31

It is 28 B.C. Horace composes a poem for the dedication of the new temple to Apollo on Palatine Hill. He gives no long, flowery poem, but Gettysberg-like, he writes a few words on praying not for riches but for paratis the things he needs, for valido good health, and mente integra his mind intact.

The Temple of Apollo on Palatine Hill is gone. It looked like this, they say.

It was grand. It was imperial. It was to last forever. But its marble was carted off long ago and sleeps now in the foundations of countless Roman houses.

Apollo is gone, too. His attributes morphed, I suppose, into the stories of some early saint, his prayers hidden in the muttered words of feast days. 

Nothing ever completely dies.

But back in 28, there was no thought of anything dying. Horace descends the great marble steps and says to the rich and powerful, who have spent vast sums for this temple: I will not ask for more. Instead, grant me, O Latoüs-Apollo, my cithara—that I may continue to be a poet—and my simple fare: my olives, my endive, and my mallow."  Mallow? Yes. Its leaves are great for constipation!

This took veri testiculesde vrais petits témoins.

 My prose rendition:

Quid vates Apollinum dedicatum poscit? 
Quid [vates] liquidem novum de patera fundens orat? —non segetes feraces Sardiniae opimae, non armenta grata Calabriae aestuosae, non aurum aut ebur Indicum, non rura quae Liris, amnis taciturnus, aqua quieta mordet. 
[Ii] quibus Fortuna [res bonas] dedit, vitem falce Calena premant. Et mercator dives ‹vina merce Syra reparata› culillis aureis exsiccet. [Mercator est] dis ipsis carus, quippe impune ter et quater anno aequor Atlanticum revisens. 
Me olivae pascunt, me cichorea ‹malvaeque leves› [pascunt]. 

Et precor, [o] Latoe, ‹mihi valido paratis frui› et ‹cum mente integra degere› dones, nec senectam turpem nec [senectam] cithara carentem.
[revised March 27,2015]

opimae: fertilis
segetes feraces: campos fertiles
Calabriae: nomen paeninsulae in Italia
armenta" pecus sub iugo
Liris: nomen amnis in Latio, hodie est Garigliano
exsiccet; videt bibendo
falce: sickle
vitem: vine
culillis: poculis
quippe: sane, certo
pascunt: nutriunt
Latoe: nomen Apollonis, matrinomicon Apollonis, id est: Lato [Λητω] nomen matris Apollonis est.
degere: vivere

Quid dēdicātum poscit Apollinem
vātēs? quid ōrat, dē paterā novum
   fundēns liquōrem? nōn opīmae
        Sardiniae segetēs ferācēs,
nōn aestuōsae grāta Calābriae
armenta, nōn aurum aut ebur Indicum,
   nōn rūra, quae Līris quiētā
        mordet aquā taciturnus amnis.
premant Calēnā falce quibus dedit
Fortūna vītem, dīves et aureīs
   mercātor exsīccet culillīs
        vīna Syrā reparāta merce,
dīs cārus ipsīs, quippe ter et quater
annō revīsēns aequor Atlanticum
   impūne: mē pascunt olīvae,
        mē cichorēa levēsque mālvae.
fruī parātīs et validō mihi,
Lātōe, dōnēs, et[at, ac], precor, intěgrā
   cum mente, nec turpem senectam

        dēgere nec citharā carentem.

:: Latin books by James Rumford ::

For all 102 odes purchase Carpe Diem, Horace De-Poetizedfor $11.50 at 

For a Latin translation of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer at $12, click here: 

To find out more about Carpe Diem go to the blog of March 26, 2015; 
for more about Pericla Thomae Sawyer, go to the blog of November 22, 2016.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Thy Will Be Done I:24

Quintilius Varo, the literary critic, has died.  It is the year 24 B.C. The literatti  of Rome mourn. Among them is Virgil. Horace writes this poem to comfort him.

Everything in this eulogy-like poem is as you would expect: 

caput tam carum, dearly departed; 
cantus lugubres, sad songs; 
sapor perpetuus, perpetual sleep;
multis flebilis bonis, with many deserving tears. 

But then something a bit unexpected:

tu frustra pius heu non ita creditum
poscis Quintilium deos

Meaning: Virgil, as pious as you were in asking the gods to take care of Quintilius, you did not mean for them to keep him. Total trust in the gods means total trust, whatever the outcome. Reminds me of a friend writing about her childhood struggles being a Christian, "Thy will be done . . . . but not just yet, Lord." Or it reminds me of the joke of the man with one crippled hand, praying: "Make both my hands the same" and angry at the outcome.

Thus is the Will of Heaven. For this, Horace counsels patientia.

I can't help but think of Hafiz and other Persian poets writing in the shade of monotheism—I say 'shade' because, as a Muslim explained to me just yesterday, on Judgment Day, Allah will be the only refuge from the burning, consuming sun. As for the Will of Heaven, the turning Wheel of Heaven, Hafiz like Horace counsels صبر patience and adds for good measure:  می نوش drink wine! I have a feeling the infidel Horace would have agreed.

Here is a bit of Hafiz:
مزرع سبز فلک ديدم و داس مه نو
يادم از کشته خويش آمد و هنگام درو

گفتم ای بخت بخفتيدی و خورشيد دميد

گفت با اين همه از سابقه نوميد مشو

گر روی پاک و مجرد چو مسيحا به فلک
از چراغ تو به خورشيد رسد صد پرتو

تکيه بر اختر شب دزد مکن کاين عيار

تاج کاووس ببرد و کمر کيخسرو
گوشوار زر و لعل ار چه گران دارد گوش
دور خوبی گذران است نصيحت بشنو

چشم بد دور ز خال تو که در عرصه حسن

بيدقی راند که برد از مه و خورشيد گرو
آسمان گو مفروش اين عظمت کاندر عشق

خرمن مه به جوی خوشه پروين به دو جو

آتش زهد و ريا خرمن دين خواهد سوخت
حافظ اين خرقه پشمينه بينداز و برو
I saw the green fields of heaven
the sickle moon
And remembered my own field
at harvest time
I said, Fate, you have overslept 
the sun is up
She said, Don't despair over 
what's passed
If you go pure and naked 
like Christ to Heaven
From your lamp a hundred rays
will reach the sun
Don't lean on night-stealing stars 
for these impostors
Carried off the Kavus crown 
the Cyrus belt
Although gold and rubies hang 
heavy on your ears
Beauty's turn will end so listen
to this advice
Be far the evil eye from your mole which
on beauty's chessboard
Will move but one pawn to checkmate 
the sun and the moon
Tell the Heavens not to boast 
Love will buy
The harvest of the moon for a barley corn,
the Pleiades for two
The zealot's fire, the hypocrite's too will  
burn the harvest of religion
Hafiz, throw your woolen cloak away
and go!

[my translation]

The images Hafiz and Horace evoke are different. Their understanding of the cosmos is not the same. Hafiz speaks of a beautiful mole—perhaps True Beauty— that will best the sun and the moon on the chessboard of fate. Horace sees no way around the fates. No Jesus, no beauty, no love.  Just Mercury raising high his caduceus (the doctors' emblem) and leading the dead in dark droves (nigro gregi) into Hell once and for all. No blood returning to the wax effigies of the departed. Nothing but patientia

But what does that word really mean? Not aequitas animi, a calmness of mind, but tolerantia, endurance, and animus submissus, resignation. Patientia, after all, comes from patior, I suffer, I undergo. 

The last lines of the poem might mean then (only Hawaiian pidgin English comes to mind):

durum, sed levius fit patientiâ
quicquid corrigere est nefas

Hard, yeah? Give'em up already. Later mo' easy
Wrong for change Heaven.

Here is my prose rendition.

Quis pudor aut modus desiderio capitis tam cari sit? 
Cantus lugubres praecipe, [o] Melpromene, cui pater vocem liquidam cum cithara dedit. 
Ergo, sopor perpetuus Quintilium urget! 
Cui [et] quando ‹pudor et soror iustitiae, fides incorrupta, veritasque nuda› ullum parem inveniet? Ille flebilis multis bonis occidit—nulli flebilior quam tibi, [o] Vergili. Frustra, tu pius—heu!—‹Quintilium non ita creditum› deos poscis! 
Quid si [tu] fidem arboribus auditam blandius Orpheo Threicio moderer[is]? Num sanguis redeat imagini vanae ‹quam Mercurius semel [cum] virga horrida gregi nigro compulerit›? Non [est] lenis fata [a] precibus recludere! Durum [est]! Sed ‹quicquid nefas est corrigere› patientia levius fit 
.[revised March 27, 2015]

desiderio: dolore (lucte) mortui
cari capitis: persona cara
Melpomene: musa tragoediae
flebilis: lacrimis
poscis: petis intente
pater: Iuppiter
praecipe: doce
blandius: gracilius
Threïco: Thracio
virga: ramo, bacillo; virga horrida:  caduceo Mercurii
recludere: aperire
nefas: contra voluntatem divinam
semel: uno tempore
fidem: lyram, citharam
vanae imagini: spiritui vacuo personae mortuae; statua cirea mortui

Quis dēsīderiō sit pudor aut modus
tam cārī capitis? praecipe lūgubrıs
cantūs, Melpomenē, cui liquidam pater
   vōcem cum citharā dedit.
ergo Quīntilium perpetuus sopor
urget! cui Pudor et Iustitiae soror,
incorrupta Fidēs, nūdaque Vēritās
   quandō ūllum inveniet parem?
multīs ille bonīs flēbilis occidit,
nūllī flēbilior quam tibi, Vergilī.
tū frustrā pius, hēu, nōn ita crēditum
   poscis Quīntilium deōs.
quid sī Thrēiciō blandius Orpheō
auditam moderēre arboribus fidem?
num vānae redeat sanguis imāginī,
   quam virgā semel horridā,
nōn lēnis precibus fāta reclūdere,
nigrō compulerit Mercurius gregī?
dūrum: sed levius fit patientia
    quicquid corrigere est nefas.  

:: Latin books by James Rumford ::

For all 102 odes purchase Carpe Diem, Horace De-Poetizedfor $11.50 at 

For a Latin translation of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer at $12, click here: 

To find out more about Carpe Diem go to the blog of March 26, 2015; 
for more about Pericla Thomae Sawyer, go to the blog of November 22, 2016.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Oh, Mrs. Robinson! Uxor Pauperis Ibyci III:15

In this case, Oh, Mrs. Ibycus! 

Uxor Pauperis Ibyci is about a vetula, an old[er] woman named Chloris who still wants to cavort like her daughter Phloe. How old a woman? I don't know.  Maybe as old as Mrs. Robinson, who in Roman times would have been matura funeri, old enough to be buried. 

I wonder whether Horace, middle aged and in the same state, isn't using the old woman to talk about himself and poke fun at his own unseemliness. Maybe he, too, covers the bright stars of youth with the miasma of his old age. Maybe he can no longer keep up with the young goats. At his age, the only way he can be like a goat is to put on a wool cloak and sit in the corner, not dance to the cithara, garlanded in dark-colored roses and drinking his wine jars faece tenus—to the dregs.

Daniel Garrison, in his Horace: Epodes and Odes [1991], writes in his note about the vetula that "Horace may be suggesting a well-known Hellenistic statuette of a drunken old woman clinging to a wine jar, a Roman copy of which survives in Munich."  Here is a photo of that statue.

I mention Garrison also to point out a typographical error in his book:

expugnat iuvenem domos

instead of the correct

expugnat iuvenum domus.

This lapsus caused hours of grief, especially after my adventure with i-stems in yesterday's blog. The Latin Grammar Edifice in my mind is still sufferring aftershocks. Latin is no one's mother tongue. Who knows from errors? Errors might be variants or archaisms. They couldn't just be errors. If it is written in a book, it must be true, it must be right.  Another angle on scripta manent, I guess. Scripta manent et veritas fiunt. Writing remains and becomes the truth.

Here is my prose rendition:

[O Chlori], uxor Ibyci pauperis, tandem modum nequitiae tuae laboribusque famosis fige. [Tu] proprior ‹funeri maturo›, desine inter virgines ludere et nebulam stellis candidis spargere. 
Si quid Pholoen satis [decet], et te, [o] Chlori, non decet. filia rectius domos iuvenum expugnat—uti Thyias tympano pulso concita. Amor Nothi illam cogit similem capreae lascivae ludere. Lanae prope Luceriam nobilem tonsae te vetulam decent, non citharae nec flos purpureus rosae nec cadi faece tenus poti. 

[revised March 28, 2015]

Ibycus [Ιβυκοσ]: poeta Graecus
tandem: postremum
nequitiae: lasciviae
fige modum: fini
desine: omitte
maturo: tempore maturo
funeri: humari, sepeliri
expugnat: capit
concita: excitata
Thyias [θυιας]: a bacchante
Nothi: nomen amatoris
cogit: compellit
Luceriam: nomen urbis in Apulia, hodie Luceria
vetulam: femina vetus
cadi: jars
poti: bibiti
faece: dregs
tenus: iusque ad

Vxor pauperis ībycī,
tandem nēquitiae fīge modum tuae
   fāmōsīsque labōribus;
mātūrō propior dēsine fūnerī
   inter lūdere virginēs
et stellīs nebulam spargere candidīs.
   nōn, sī quid Pholoēn satīs,
et tē, Chlori, decet. fīlia rectius
   expugnat[expugnet] iuvenum domōs,
pulsō Thȳias utī concita tympanō.
   illam cōgit[cogat] amor Nothī
lascīvae similem lūdere capreae:
   tē lānae prope nōbilem
tonsae Luceriam, nōn citharae decent
   nec flōs purpureus rosae
nec pōtī vetulam faece tenus cadī.

:: Latin books by James Rumford ::

For all 102 odes purchase Carpe Diem, Horace De-Poetizedfor $11.50 at 

For a Latin translation of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer at $12, click here: 

To find out more about Carpe Diem go to the blog of March 26, 2015; 
for more about Pericla Thomae Sawyer, go to the blog of November 22, 2016.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Danger! Non Vides Quanto III:20

Now a love triangle. Pyrrhus and an unnamed woman vie for the love of a lad named Nearchus. Horace tries to warn Pyrrhus not to stir up the "lioness." Heedless, Pyrrhus readies his arrows. The lioness sharpens her teeth. Meanwhile Nearchus, perfumed of hair, like some beautiful Nereus of Homer's epic—or like Ganymede—pays no never mind.

This poem has given me a seismic jolt. Not what it says. There is humor and naughtiness and interesting references to Greek literature. No, the jolt comes from two little phrases:

obstantis iuventum catervas 
protective troops of boys

celeris sagittas 
swift arrows

According to the Latin grammar I have in my head, obstantis should be obstantes to agree with catervas. Celeris should be celeres for the same reason. This is the same problem I had with minacis/minaces (See: September 10th blog "Clement Lawrence Smith et Prudentia."

I start flipping through some grammar books. I notice the declension of words like urbs (city). Beside the accusative plural urbes, I see, in parentheses, urbis. I feel another jolt. The Latin grammar building in my head is swaying violently.

Turns out words like urbs belong to a class known as i-stems. Some i-stems have a variant form in the accusative plural. The grammar books make it sound like the two accusative plurals were equal, but I doubt they were. Problably urbis, being an older form, sounded more stately and more poetic than urbes.  Certainly the two forms were not equal as far as meter was concerned.  The -is ending is short; -es is long. 

I suppose to those more adept at scanning Latin poetry than I, this might not make any difference at all. The adept know that there are other rules at play that can change short syllables into long ones. There is the anceps rule: syllables at the end of lines can be either long or short. There is also the long-by-position rule, which explains what happens when two consonants come together. Slam bonus 'good' against puer 'boy' and the normally short u in bonus becomes:

bonuuuuuuus puer

The same thing happens when urbis meets a word like Graecorum:

uuuuurbiiiis Graaaaaeeeecoooorum

This i-stem thing is a complicated feature not just of Latin declensions but Indo-European declensions in general. Besides i-stems, there are a-stems, u-stems, etc., etc.  English once had declensions and all kinds of stem variations. The pairs man/men, foot/feet are a hold over from this same complicated system that goes way back. Some say that these stem variations were responsible for the rise of gender in Indo-European languages. No one really knows for sure. We're talking more than six thousand years ago—long before written records, long before freezing Indo-Europeans living on the Russian steppes even thought of writing. Verba volant scripta manent, as the literate Romans used to say, 'words fly, writing remains.'  I'd have to agree, but add non sine variationibus, non sine erroribus.

[By the way, it has been rather difficult to find a good English translation of this risqué-to-some-ears bit of poetry.]

Today's poem in prose:

[O] Pyrrhe, non vides quanto periclo catulos leaenae Gaetulae moveas? Paulo post [tu] raptor inaudax proelia dura fugies, cum [illa] per catervas obstantes iuvenum, Nearchum insignem repetens, ibit. Certamen grande [est] praeda tibi maior an illi cedat.
Interim, dum tu sagittas celeres promis [et] haec dentes timendos acuit, arbiter pugnae—qualis aut Nireus aut raptus ab Ida aquosa—fertur, palmam sub pede nudo posuisse et vento leni umerum ‹capillis odoratis sparsum› recreare.  [revised March 28, 2015]

Pyrrhe: similis Pyrrho, filio Achillis
catulos leaenae: cubs of the lioness
Gaetulae: terra in Africa extra imperio Romanorum
moveas:  perturbas
insignem: nobilem
praeda: praemium
palmam: palmam victoriae
qualis: similis
Nireus: heros pulcherrimus Graecorum
raptus ab Ida aquosa: Ganymedes, princeps Troiae, qui ab monte humido Ida raptus est.

Nōn vidēs quantō moveās perīclō,
Pyrrhe, Gaetūlae catulōs leaenae?
dūra post paulō fugiēs inaudax
   proelia raptor,
cum per obstantıs iuvenum catervās
ībit insignem repetēns Nearchum:
grande certāmen tibi praeda cēdat
   māior, an illī.
interim, dum tū celerıs sagittās
prōmis, haec dentēs acuit timendōs,
arbiter pugnae posǔisse nūdō
   sub pede palmam
fertur et lēnī recreāre ventō
sparsum odōrātīs umerum capillīs,
quālis aut Nīrēus fǔit aut aquōsā

   raptus ab īdā.

:: Latin books by James Rumford ::

For all 102 odes purchase Carpe Diem, Horace De-Poetizedfor $11.50 at 

For a Latin translation of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer at $12, click here: 

To find out more about Carpe Diem go to the blog of March 26, 2015; 
for more about Pericla Thomae Sawyer, go to the blog of November 22, 2016.