Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Right Back at You :: AVDIVERE LYCE :: IV:13

This ode, although in Book IV, is thought to be a continuation of the ode in the last posting, where the poet suffers the cruelty of Lyce. Now the poet is happy to tell all who will hear how Lyce has succumbed to another cruelty—the cruelty of time. She now has to contend with a beauty named Chia. (Lyce must look ghastly in her jewels and purple-dyed clothes from the island of Cos.) Besides everyone knows how old she is: it's all in the official registers, the fasti. She must have hated the gorgeous Cinara, but when the fates cut short her thread of life, Lyce must have rejoiced.

This poem is a good place to pause and take note of an oddity of grammar: audivere "they have heard" instead of the usual "audierunt." Audivere is just a footnote in the primers, nothing to worry about, except the form does pop up now and then, as it does in this ode. That's the thing about learning a language:  everything is important. There are no footnotes, really. Being competent means knowing it all. I am always surprised at people who say, for example, that Spanish is easy while French is hard. It's all hard. Sure, Spanish might be more welcoming than say, Chinese, but after a while, the playing field evens out; the goal of competency is just as difficult to reach in one language as it is in another. People always ask me how many languages I know. The best, most honest way I can answer is to say: I've studied x languages and leave it at that.

My translation:  

they've heard! 
the gods have heard my prayers, Lyce—
you've turned old—yet you want to play around
and look pretty, but you drink shamelessly, 
and drunk, do harass with quavering songs, 
cold Cupid, watching from the lovely eyes 
of the blossoming, the lyre-skilled Chia.
cruelly, he flies over the arid oaks, 
fleeing you, for foul are your lurid teeth, 
your wrinkles and your hoary head. neither
purple from Cos nor precious stones will return
the years that winged time once locked in the fasti.
where's her love or color, or elegance
what do you have of her who once breathed love, 
and swept me away. glad you were to be 
a star, after Cinara, whom the fates 
gave little time, but Lyce, the old crow, 
they've kept so long that the ardent young men 
can see, laughing, a torch reduced to 

[copyright 2009 James Rumford]


[O] Lyce, di mea vota audiver[unt], [o] Lyce, di audiver[unt]! Anus fis et tamen vis formosa videri, [tu] que ludis et impudens bibis et, [o] pota, Cupidinem lentum cantu tremulo sollicitas. 
Ille [Cupido] in genis pulchris Chiae ‹virentis et doctae psallere› excubat. Importunus enim quercus aridas transvolat et te refugit quia dentes luridi, quia rugae et nives capitis te turpant. 
Nec iam tibi purpurae Coae nec lapides cari referunt tempora, quae, semel [in] fastis notis condita, dies volucres inclusit. Quo Venus fugit, heu, quove color, quo motus decens? 
Quid illius, illius habes, quae amores spirabat, quae me surpuerat mihi, [quae erat] felix post Cinaram, notaque facies et artium gratarum? 
Sed fata annos breves Cinarae dederunt, servatura diu Lycen ‹cornicis vetulae temporibus parem›, ut iuvenes fervidi—non sine risu multo—facem in cineres dilapsam visere possent.   [revised March 28, 2015]

Horatii verba:

Audīvēre, Lycē, dī mea vōta, dī
audīvēre, Lycē: fīs anus, et tamen
   vīs formōsa vidērī
       lūdisque et bibis impudēns
et cantū tremulō pōta Cupīdinem
lentum sollicitās. Ille virentis et
   doctae psallere Chīae
       pulchrīs excubat in genīs.
importūnus enim transvolat āridās
quercus et refugit tē quia lūridī
   dentēs, tē quia rūgae
       turpant et capitis nivēs.
nec Cōae referunt iam tibi purpurae
nec cārī lapidēs tempora, quae semel
   nōtīs condita fastīs
        inclūsit volucrıs diēs.
quō fūgit Venus, hēu, quōve color, decēns
quō mōtus? quid habēs illius, illius,
   quae spīrābat amōrēs,
       quae mē surpuerat mihi,
fēlix post Cinaram nōtaque et artium
grātārum facies? sed Cinarae brevıs
   annōs fāta dedērunt,
       servatūra diū parem
cornīcis vetulae temporibus Lycen,
possent ut iuvenēs vīsere fervidī
   multō nōn sine rīsū
       dīlapsam in cinerēs facem.  

:: 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.

Friday, December 18, 2009

I hear you knocking Extremum Tanaïn si biberes III:10

At the door of the beloved. In Latin poetry, what a bad place to be! She won't let you in no matter how much you cry out, no matter what humiliation you must suffer. Your only recourse is to threaten to leave, perhaps shout nasty things you'll later regret.

In Persian poetry, on the other hand, standing in front of the locked door is exactly where you want to be! The درگاه [dargah] doorway is where you can cry out to show your pain, and grovel in the dust to show your unworthiness. There you can wait long hours, hoping for a sign of the beloved, hoping that s/he might come out or better yet, let you in. At the very least, all you know is that you've made it this far on your spiritual journey.

Pick almost any Persian poem and you will find some reference to the doorway—the doorway that frightens and beckons, worries and entices, but forever remains the obstacle to true union.  Here is a poem [which my friend Brandon Stone and I read just yesterday] written by Araqi [Fakhr-al-Din Iraqi], a thirteenth-century poet, who knew Rumi and whose poetry is similar in style to his but, in my opinion, less preacherly:

ای یـار بـیا و یــاری کـن  *  رنجه شو و غمگساری ای کن
آخـر سگـک در تو بــودم  *  یادم کن و حق گزاری ای کن
ای نیک ز من همـه بد آمد  *  نیکی کن و بردباری ای کن
بر عاشق خود مگیر خرده  *  ای دوست برزگواری ای کن
ای دل چو ترا فتاده این کار  *  رو بر در یار زاری ای کن
ای بخت بموی بر عراقی  *  و ای دیده تو نیز یاری ای کن

Beloved, come, help a bit, try to share a little sorrow.
Me, a dog at last at your door, think of me, be fair a bit. 
Good one, all the bad came from me, be kind, a little patient 
Don't fault me for loving you. Lover, be generous a bit.
Heart, this befell you so go, cry a little at the friend's door
Fortune, weep for Araqi, and, eye, you, too, help a bit.
[translation © 2009 by James Rumford] 

Closed-door poetry is known as paraclausithyron [παρακλαυσιθυρον], a Graeco-Latin hybred composed of para (beside) clausi (shut), and thyron (door). The image of a locked door was a favorite one of the ancient world and occurs today in literature and song. A twist on this theme was the song "I Hear You Knocking," written by Bartholomew and King in the mid fifties, which gives us the point of view of the lover behind the door. 

There is apparently a sequel to this poem in the Book IV, which I will get to next. Meanwhile, be introduced to the notions of 
  —the wild people of Russia who must drink from the River Don,
  —a grove of trees planted in a courtyard large enough to hold them, 
  —the two-headed god Janus of doors and the New Year, 
  —a pulley rope that symbolizes as it snaps under the weight of its load a fall from virtue, 
 —Penelope, the faithful wife of Odysseus, who keeps her suitors at bay during his long absence, and 
 —Piera, a valley north of Mt. Olympus, 

Even if you drank from the far-off Don, 
and were married to a savage, Lyce,
you would cry for me stretched out here to live  
before your harsh door thrown to the north winds.

Do you see how the Janus doors cry out, 
how the trees planted between the pretty 
rooves roar in the wind, how Juppiter from
the pure blue sky glazes the fallen snow?

Lay aside your pride, hateful to Venus, 
let not the pulley rope run backwards. 
Your Etruscan father didn't beget you, 
a difficult Penelope for suitors.

Oh, whatever! Neither gifts nor prayers, 
nor the violet pallor of lovers, 
your man love-sick for a Piera whore, 
would curve you over, spare your supplicants, 

you no more supple than the rigid oak, 
no mind more gentle than a Moorish snake's.
My body is not going to suffer
this threshold and heaven's rain forever.
[translation ©  2009 by James Rumford]

Prose Rendition:

[O] Lyce, si [tu], viro saevo nupta, Tanain extremum biberes, plorares tamen ‹me porrectum ante fores asperas Aquilonibus incolis obicere. 
[Tune] audis, quo ianua strepitu, quo ‹nemus satum inter tecta pulchra› [a] ventis remugiat et ut Iuppiter numine puro nives positas glaciet? 
Pone ‹superbiam, Veneri ingratam›, ne funis, rota currente, retro eat. 
‹Parens Tyrrhenus› ‹te Penelopen procis difficilem› non genuit. O quamvis neque munera—nec preces—nec ‹pallor amantium viola tinctus›—nec vir paelice Pieria saucius—te curvat, supplicibus tuis parcas. Nec aesculo rigida mollior—nec animum anguibus Mauris mitior. 
Hoc latus liminis aut aquae caelestis semper patiens non erit.  
[Revised March 27, 2015]

Horaci verba:

Extrēmum Tanain sī biberēs, Lycē,
saevō nupta virō, mē tamen asperās
porrectum ante forıs obicere incolīs
   plōrārēs Aquilōnibus.
audis quō strepitū iānua, quō nemus
inter pulchra satum tecta remūgiat
ventīs, et positās ut glaciet nivēs
   pūrō nūmine Iuppiter?
ingrātam Venerī pōne superbiam,
nē currente retrō fūnis eat rotā:
nōn tē Pēnelopen difficilem procīs
   Tyrrhēnus genuit parēns.
ō quamvis neque tē mūnera nec precēs
nec tinctus violā pallor amantium
nec vir Pīeriā paelice saucius
   curvat, supplicibus tuīs
parcās, nec rigidā mollior aesculō
nec Maurīs animum mītior anguibus:
nōn hōc semper erit līminis aut aquae

   caelestis patiēns latus.

:: 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.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Loser Girls — Miserarum III:12

Maybe I haven't read this ode right, but it sounds like a love song from the 50s and 60s, chiding the girls who aren't in love cause they don't know the joy and heartache of falling for a guy who's the equivalent of the captain of the football team, which in this case is a wrestler with oiled arms.  Did I forget to mention the mean 'ole father figure? He's there in this poem, as daddy's brother, who in Roman times, put wayward girls back on the straight and narrow by giving them verbera linguae, lashes of the tongue.  It's a fun poem. Play some "Johnny Angel" type song and enjoy this hit about the girl Neobule from the 30s . . . . BC.

The following is more an impression than a translation:

Oh, ohhh, loser girls,
not playing with love
not washing your heartaches away 
with wine
Oh, oh, loser girls
not dying inside every time
the old man starts 

Oh, ohhh, Neobule,
The angel boy of Venus 
steals you away 
from your wool basket and weaving
and your devotion 
to the home ec

Oh, ohhh, Neobule,
This hunk of Liparae 
from Hebrus 
washes his oiled arms
in the waves of the Tiber,
rides better than Bellerophon,
and never loses a fight 
or a race.

He digs throwing 
the javelin at fleeing deer in the open
with herds astir
and is fast at catching
the boar hiding 
in the thick 
                                              translation © 2009 by James Rumford


Est [res] miserarum neque ludum amori dare neque mala vino dulci lavere, aut [res est] verbera linguae patruae metuentes exanimari. 
‹Puer ales Cythereae› tibi qualum aufert. Nitor Hebri Liparaei tibi telas studiumque Minervae operosae [aufert], [o] Neobule, simul umeros unctos in undis Tiberinis lavit. 
[Hebrus est] eques melior Bellerophonte ipso, neque pugno neque pede segni victus; catus idem cervos, grege agitato, per apertum fugientes, iaculari et celer aprum [in] fruticeto arto latitantem excipere.
[revised March 28, 2015]

 [In prose according to Acronis Commentarium: ales puer Cythereae et nitor Liparei Hebri, simul ut lauit unctos humeros in Tiberinis undis, eques melior ipso Bellorophonte, neque uictus pugno neque segni pede, idem catus iaculari ceruos fugientes per apertum agitato grege, et celer excipere aprum latitantem arto fruticeto, aufert tibi qualum et aufert tibi studium operosae Mineruae.]

Original Ode:

Miserārum est neque amōrī dare lūdum neque dulcī
mala vīnō lavere aut exanimārī metuentıs 
patruae verbera linguae.
tibi quālum Cytherēae puer āles, tibi tēlās
operōsaeque Minervae studium aufert, Neobūlē, 
Liparaeī nitor Hēbrī,
simul unctōs Tiberīnīs umerōs lāvit in undīs,
eques ipsō melior Bellerophontē, neque pugnō 
neque segnī pede victus;
catus īdem per apertum fugientıs agitātō
grege cervōs iaculārī et celer artō latitantem 

  fruticetō excipere aprum.

:: 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.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Party On! Quantum Distet III:19

In 1903,  to introduce this poem, Clement Lawrence Smith painted a winter scene in the Appenine district of Paeligni with a cozy fire and warm wine to toast perhaps a friend named Murena, who has just been elected to the Augurate.  Ninety years later, Daniel H. Garrison, decided to entice his readers with what was to come: hard drinking and "hot sex," as he put it. Somewhere in between, I suppose, lies the real point of this ode.

What that point is has eluded scholars for centuries. The poem seems to be disjointed. Horace first chides someone, perhaps Telephus, for being a bore and not getting the drinking started. Then Horace talks about the right proportion of water to wine and how the Graces won't abide by too much drinking. By this time Horace is too drunk to care. "Hey, who stopped the music?" he yells. "What about the flowers? Who gives a damn if the neighbors hear? You know, Telephus, you're so damn handsome. Rhode has a thing for you, and me, well, I'm so in love with...."

What a change from the last few poems! And it is perhaps this change that makes me think something very odd: What if this poem is Horace talking about himself? What if he thinks of himself sometimes as a bore who can go on about ancient things like Inachus [the first king of Argos] and Codrus [the last king of Athens] and the Aeci [a clan of heros of the Trojan War], sometimes a connoisseur who likes a good jar of wine from Chios, sometimes a loud-mouthed drunk with a thing for the ladies? If so, this poem makes perfect sense to me only beause it seems so honest, so like the talk of a drunk. 

Then again, as scholars today like to point out, you can't infer too much from his poetry. Horace wrote in imitation of Greek poetry. He made up things just to fill out the meter. He played around with verity, moulding and shaping it as a sculptor would clay. Horace then is a mystery. Maybe it is for this reason that I will keep reading.

You do go on about how much before 
Inachus is King Codrus, unafraid 
to die for country, about the Aeci
and the warring in sacred Ilium.

About the price we're to pay for a jar 
of Chian, who's to warm up the water, 
who'll offer his house, what time I'll be shed 
of this Paelignian cold, you are mute. 

A toast! The new moon! Quick! A toast!  Midnight!
A toast, boy, to the Augur Murena!
At three or nine cyathi let the cups 
be mixed to your liking. The drunk poet
who loves the odd-numbered Muses will ask 
for three times three cyathi. Above three 
one of the Graces, fearing a quarrel,
will say no—along with her nude sisters.

It's crazy being drunk. Why have the notes
from the Berecyntine flute stopped? Why is 
the syrinx hanging silent with the lyre?
I hate stingy right hands. Scatter roses. 
So. Jealous Lycus hears the crazy yelling, 
along with the neighbor lady—no match 
for old Lycus. Gorgeous with your thick hair, 
Telephus, like the pure evening star,
you luscious ripe Rhodé is asking for;
me, my hidden love burns for Glycera.
                                                                                 translation © 2009 James Rumford

My Prose Rendition:

[O] Telephe, narras quantum ab Inacho distet Codrus, ‹non timidus pro patria mori›, et genus Aeaci et bella sub Ilio sacro pugnata. 
Taces quo pretio cadum Chium mercemur, quis aquam ignibus temperet, quo praebente domum et quota frigoribus Paelignis caream.
Da propere lunae novae. Da mediae noctis. Da, puer, auguris Murenae! Pocula tribus aut novem cyathis commodis miscentur. Vates attonitus, qui musas impares amat, cyathos ternos ter petet. Gratia ‹sororibus nudis iuncta, rixarum metuens› prohibet tris supra tangere. 
Insanire iuvat. Cur flamina tibiae Berecyntiae cessant? Cur fistula cum lyra tacita pendet? Ego dexteras parcentes odi. Rosas sparge. [Vicinus] Lycus invidus et vicina ‹Lyco seni non habilis› strepitum dementem audia[n]t. 
Rhode tempestiva te ‹coma spissa nitidum›, te ‹Vespero puro similem›, petit. Amor lentus Glycerae meae me torret.
 [revised March 28, 2015]

    Quantum distet ab īnachō
Cōdrus, prō patriā nōn timidus morī,
   narrās, et genus Aeacī,
et pugnāta sacrō bella sub īliō.
   quō Chīum pretiō cadum
mercēmur, quis aquam temperet ignibus,
   quō praebente domum et quota
Paelignīs caream frīgoribus, tacēs.
   dā lūnae properē novae,
dā noctis mediae, dā, puer, auguris
   Mūrēnae. tribus aut novem
miscentur cyǎthīs pōcula commodīs?
  quī Mūsās amat imparıs,
ternōs ter cyathōs attonitus petet
vātēs, trīs prohibet suprā
rixārum metuēns tangere Grātia
   nūdīs iuncta sorōribus.
insānīre iuvat! Cūr Berecyntiae
   cessant flāmina tībiae?
cūr pendet tacitā fistula cum lyrā?
   parcentıs ego dexterās
ōdī: sparge rosās; audiat invidus
   dēmentem strepitum Lycus,
et vīcīna senī nōn habilis Lycō.
   spissā tē nitidum comā,
pūrō tē similem, Tēlephe, Vesperō
   tempestīva petit Rhodē:

mē lentus Glycerae torret amor meae.

:: 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, December 6, 2009

I owe it all to you—Quem tu Melpomene—IV:3

Poets aren't always boxers or charioteers or decorated warriors standing on the capitol steps. They are sometimes, probably more often than not in the popular mind, those who are formed, invented, moulded by some idyllic place, who hear songs in the village stream and write down the words of the wind in sighing trees. To Horace, poets can be as celebrated heros, and like heros, pay homage to their guardian angel, which in the case of poets is the muse, which in this poem is the muse Melpomene [Μελπομενη from μελπομεναι, to sing to the lyre] of Piera, a valley just north of Mt. Olympus.  It is to her that Horace owes his fame and fortune, as we have already seen in ode III:30 (posted August 27, 2009).

At that time, I was concerned with grammar and word order. I still am. But now that I am able to carry that heavy load a bit easier, I find I have other concerns: do I like Horace? Is he really someone I would like to have dinner with? In III:30, I felt that I was embarking on an adventure to meet one of the greatest poets of all time. But as the months passed, I got to know a man who was self-centered, egotistical, and as I saw in ode III:2, a wee-bit fascist. 

In today's ode, I find him tumidus, puffed up.  He seems to delight in the fact that his status has raised him beyond the reach of Envy's biting tooth. Now, that's real boasting ! — as Daniel Garrison explains in his Horace, Epodes and Odes, a New Annotated Latin Edition [pg. 348]: ". . . since the time of Pindar, an oblique way of claiming success as a poet was to claim that one was being attacked by envious rivals. An even bigger boast would be that one was becoming too big for the dente invido.

Maybe I can get past Horace's ego and his contempt for those who do not share his views. Maybe I should go beyond the man and think about the art. Is that possible? I don't like what you've said, Horace, but I love the way you've said it? Clearly, I need to do more thinking.

Once you look with kind light on him at birth, 
Melpomene, no Isthmius games 
will praise his fighting, no spirited horse 
will carry him to victory 

in an Achaean chariot, no wars 
will parade him before the capitol 
a leader crowned by Delian laural 
because he's crushed the bloated threats 

of potentates, but him the stream flowing 
by fertile Tivoli, him the thick tuft 
of forest trees will turn nobly famous 
by Aeolian poetry.

The descendants of Rome, first of cities, 
deem me a place in the pleasant choir of 
poets; already am I less bitten 
by the tooth of jealousy.

The gold lyre, its sweet sound you temper, 
Pieri, you could give, if you wanted, 
the sound of swans even to silent fish—
all that you have given is this: 

that I am pointed out by passersby 
as the player of the Roman lyre, 
that I breathe and please, and if I do please, 
that, too, is all because of you.
                                                                                                          ©2009 by James Rumford 

My Prose rendition:

[O] Melpomene, tu [virum] quem nascentem lumine placido semel videris, labor Isthmius illum pugilem non clarabit, equus impiger victorem curru Archaico non ducet, neque res bellica ducem ornatum foliis Deliis, quod minas tumidas regum contuderit, [in] Capitolio ostendet. 
Sed aquae, quae Tibur fertile et ‹nemorem comae spissae nobilem› praefluunt, [poetam] carmine Aeolio fingent. 
Suboles Romae, urbium principis, dignatur me inter choros amabiles vatum ponere et iam minus dente invido mordeor. 
O Pieri, [tu] quae strepitum dulcem testudinis aureae temperas, o donatura quoque sonum cycni piscibus mutis, si [tibi] libeat. 
Hoc totum muneris tui est, quod [ego] fidicen lyrae Romanae digito praetereuntium monstror. 
Quod spiro et placeo, si placeo, tuum est.
 [revised March 28, 2015]

Horace's ode:

Quem tū, Melpomenē, semel
nascentem placidō lūmine vīderis,
   illum nōn labor Isthmius
clārābit pugilem, nōn equus impiger
   currū dūcet Achāicō
victōrem, neque rēs bellica Dēliīs
   ornātum foliīs ducem,
quod rēgum tumidās contuderit minās,
   ostendet Capitōliō;
sed quae Tībur aquae fertile praefluunt
   et spissae nemorum comae
fingent Aeoliō carmine nōbilem.
   Rōmae principis urbium
dignātur suboles inter amābilıs
   vātum pōnere mē chorōs,
et iam dente minus mordeor invido.
   ō testūdinis aureae
dulcem quae strepitum, Pīerī, temperās,
   ō mūtīs quoque piscibus
dōnātūra cȳcnī, sī libeat, sonum,
   tōtum mūneris hōc tuī est,
quod monstror digitō praetereuntium
   Rōmānae fidicen lyrae;
quod spirō et placeō, sī placeō, tuum est.

:: 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.