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.


  1. I love reading your posts. I have no idea what you're talking about half the time (that's my fault, not yours; I've never read Horace in my life and don't know these languages and am totally out of my element here), but the other half it's an absolute kick in the pants.


  2. I just wanted to let you know that I'm studying Horace at school, and reading your posts are highly enjoyable - full of useful interpretations and insight. :)