Saturday, September 12, 2009

O Fons Bandusiae III:13

I am still amazed at getting a copy of Smith's textbook on Horace and all of the "goodies" inside.  The hand-traced map I found is especially useful in understanding today's ode O fons Bandusiae.

The Fons Bandusiae is a spring that may have been on Horace's property, although no spring by that name has survived the centuries.  There is a spring, however, and it is clearly marked on the hand-traced map.

It really doesn't matter to me whether Horace was describing a real spring or not. The picture he has painted with words makes it real enough to me: limpid, cool water, bubbling and talking under the shade of an oak tree, noontime oxen resting nearby.  All very Chinese in feel as his words flow over me like those of Tang Dynasty poet Wang Wei:


I don't know where Xianji Temple is: 
many miles, entering cloud peaks, 
old trees, lonely paths, 
deep in the mountains, where's the bell?
[I hear only] the sound of a spring swallowing up dangerous rocks
the color of the sun is cold, green the pines
the thin veil of twilight, an empty pond, winding, twisting,
peace and meditation, holding my poisonous dragons at bay.
[my translation]

Like Wang Wei, Horace has a message. It is not about contemplation.  Horace knows nothing of zen. He is a realist. He talks of the kid goat he will sacrifice to the spring and how it will dye the cool waters red. The kid goat has budding horns, and were it to grow up these would lead it to fights and love.  But that will never be. Is this ode about youth cut short or youth that is too short? For middle-aged Horace, both are one and the same. His  long-ago youth may seem as if it never was.

Here is my prose rendition of Ode III:13

O fons Bandusia, vitro splendior, [o] digne mero dulci non sine floribus, cras haedo, ‹cui frons cornibus primis turgida et venerem et proelia destinat›, donaberis.
Frustra! Nam suboles gregis lascivi tibi rivos gelidos sanguine rubro inficiet. 
Hora atrox Caniculae flagrantis nescit te tangere. Tu ‹frigus amabile› ‹tauris vomere fessis› et ‹pecori vago› praebes. 

Tu quoque fontium nobilium fies, me dicente ilicem, saxis cavis impositam, unde lymphae tuae loquaces desiliunt.

[revised March 28, 2015]

mero: vino
venerem: amorem
haedo: kid
destinat: designat
lascivi: iocosi
suboles: stirps, genus
vago: erratione
ilicem: oak
unde: ab loco
frustra: in vain

English translation: 

Ō fons Bandusiae splendidior vitrō,
dulcī digne merō nōn sine flōribus,
   crās dōnāberis haedō,
        cui frons turgida cornibus
prīmīs et venerem et proelia destinat;       
frustrā: nam gelidōs inficiet tibi
   rubrō sanguine rīvōs
        lascīvī suboles gregis.
tē flāgrantis atrox hōra Canīculae
nescit tangere, tū frīgus amābile
   fessīs vomere taurīs
        praebēs et pecorī vāgō.
fiēs nōbilium tū quoque fontium,
mē dīcente cāvīs impositam īlicem
   saxīs, unde loquācēs

        lymphae desiliunt tuae.

:: 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.

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