Friday, July 23, 2010

Go Caesar! :: Dianam Tenerae Dicite :: I:21

This short poem seems like a set of stage directions. You girls sing this. You boys sing that. Men, chant for war. And for the sake of us all, ask Apollo to send untold misery upon the Iranians and the Celts. How appropriate! Praise for an emperor and a state continually at war. Change the gods, the place names, the peoples vilified, and we would have a rather nasty ode fit for today’s internet. Give the words music and this modernized Horatian ode might even go viral.

But we’re talking art here. Can’t be caught up in the B.C. Roman politics. So, what is this art?  There is some interesting alliteration. And there are clever references to Apollo as Cynthius, because he like his sister Diana, known as Cynthia, were born on Delos, where mount Kynthos is located. There is also a nod to Mercury, once again, who is Apollo’s brother and the inventor of the lyre. There are place names as well, all of them connected to Diana or Apollo: Mount Agidus, which is near Rome as is known today as Monte Compatri. There are the forests on Mount Erymenthus in Arcadia (Greece), and in the Kragos Mountains, located in the Turkish provinces of Antalya and Muğla. Finally there is Tempe, a gorge in Thessaly, Greece, where in a cave, Apollo and Diana were . . . also, apparently . . . born. Keats wrote about Tempe in his “Ode to a Grecian Urn”: “Of deities or mortals, or of both, / In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?”


Tender maidens, sing of Diana,
You boys, sing of unshorn Cynthius—
Of Latona deeply loved 
by father-god supreme,

You sing of her, happy with streams, 
the tresses of the woods prominent on cold Algidus 
or in the black forests of Erymanthus 
or in the green Cragus mountains.

You, men, praise equally Tempe and Delos, 
the birthplace of Apollo and his insignia, the quiver, 
and his shoulder with his brother’s lyre.

Here is tearful war, pitiable hunger and plague. 
Moved by your prayers, he will drive these away 
from the people and from Caesar the leader 
onto the Persians, onto the Britons.
translation copyright © 2010 by James Rumford

in prose:

Virgines tenerae, Dianam dicite. Pueri, Cynthium intonsum Latonamque penitus dilectam Iovi supremo dicite. 
Vos [virgines], laetam fluviis et coma nemorum, aut quaecumque Algido gelido prominet, aut silvis nigris Erymanthi aut Gragi viridis [laudibus tollite]. 
Vos mares, Tempe, Delonque natalem Apollinis, umerumque pharetra lyraque fraterna insignem totidem laudibus tollite. 
Hic [Apollo], prece vestra motus, bellum lacrimosum, hic famem miseram pestemque a populo et principe Caesare in Persas atque Britannos aget. [revised March 27, 2015]

original words:

Dīānam tenerae dīcite virginēs,
intonsum, puerī, dīcite Cynthium
   Lātōnamque suprēmō
        dīlectam penitus Iovī;
vōs laetam fluviīs et nemorum comā,
quaecumque aut gelidō prōminet Algidō,
   nigrīs aut Erymanthī
        silvīs aut viridis Gragī;
vōs Tempē totidem tollite laudibus
nātālemque, marēs, Dēlon Apollinis
   insignemque pharētrā
        frāternāque umerum lyrā.
hīc bellum lacrimōsum, hīc miseram famem
pestemque ā populō et principe Caesare in
   Persās atque Britannōs
        vestrā mōtus aget prece. 

:: 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, July 18, 2010

Love in Five Parts :: Cum Tu, Lydia :: I:13

In this ode, Horace lays bare his jealous thoughts. Lydia, probably some lady of the evening, is more taken with young and passionate Telephus than she is with middle-aged Horace. The poet seems to be telling her that this infatuation with Telephus is just a momentary fling. Then he hints about a more lasting relationship,  a coupling unbroken by evil quarreling—copula inrupta malis querimoniis

Perhaps Horace means marriage, and Daniel Garrison in Horace: Epodes and Odes [1991], mentions S. U. Q., an abbreviation often found on the tombs of couples to describe their married life: sine ulla querella: without any quarrels. Perhaps this talk of marriage is just Horace’s way of promising much so that he can move on to the fifth stage of love: the parte quinta in line 16.

According to Porphyrio, Horace’s commentator, love has five stages, which are a bit more explicit than the jump-rope song of ‘first comes love, then comes marriage’—

visu, adloquio, tactu, osculo, concubitu
see,    chat,    touch,    kiss,    sex

It is almost as if Horace has used these five stages as a framework to talk about Lydia and Telephus. Lydia sees Telephus’s rosy neck. They drink and fight. There is physical abuse, then wild kissing and Venus, the goddess of love, moistens their lips with her own special ‘nectar.’

There are two interesting words in this ode—interesting because they are ‘lone-survivors.’ By this I mean, scholars have found no other examples of these two words used in a similar way in any other Latin text. There is a Greek term for the lone-surviving word: hapax legomenon, which means ‘once said.’ Lone-survivors occur in poetry in other languages as well. There are many in Beowulf, and, I suppose, lone-survivors are being created today, as poets strive to use words in new and shocking ways that once used will never be used in that same way again. 

The two Latin lone-survivors in this ode are irrupta [line 18] and citius [line 20].

Irrupta comes from irrumpo, meaning ‘break, burst, rush into, violate, invade, interrupt.’ Even so, scholars and commentators from antiquity give it an opposite meaning: ‘unbroken.’ Their only example: line 18 from Horace.

The other lone-survivor is citius, which is usually defined as ‘faster,’ ‘sooner.’ Citius is the comparative of citus, which comes form cieo, meaning ‘move, stir, excite, shake.’ Somehow, scholars and commentators have come to define citius  in connection with suprema die in line 20 as ‘before the last day.’ To me, ‘faster’ makes sense in this line.  Perhaps, I am wrong. Citius, as used by Horace, might not be a lone-survivor at all. Rather, it might just be the non-poet scholar trying to drive some sense into what Horace has said.  

Come to think of it, perhaps, this is what happened with irrupta. Did Horace intend a more explicit meaning for the last two lines?

quos irrupta tenet copula nec malis 
divolsus querimoniis
suprema citius amor solvet die
whom an invading coupling holds and, not by evil
quarreling torn asunder,
does love more quickly loosen on the last day 


When you praise Telephus’s rosy neck, 
Lydia, Telephus’s waxen arms, 
God! my liver swells and seethes 
with excruciating bile.

Neither is my reason nor my color 
surely set, and tears secretly slip down 
my cheeks, a sign I am being consumed
slowly by fires within.

I burn, either when drunken brawls make your 
shoulders black and blue, or when some kid, 
out of his head, stamps a souvenir mark 
with his teeth into your lips.

No, if you do hear me, you won’t wait for 
the one who barbarously keeps hurting 
your sweet lips, which Venus in ecstacy 
moistens with her own nectar.

Those blessed three times or more whom unbroken 
bonds hold and whom love, not torn asunder 
by nasty squabbling, won’t more quickly free 
upon the very last day.
translation © 2010 by James Rumford

in prose:

Cum tu, Lydia, cervicem roseam Telephi, bracchia cerea Telephi laudas, vae! Iecur meum, bile difficili fervens, tumet! 
Tunc, nec mens nec color mihi sede certa manet, et umor in genas furtim labitur, arguens quam penitus ignibus lentis macerer. 
Uror, seu rixae inmodicae tibi umeros candidos mero turpar[aver]unt, sive puer furens memorem notam dente labris impressit. 
Si me satis audias, non speres laedentem barbare oscula dulcia, quae Venus parte quinta nectaris sui imbuit, perpetuum [futurum esse]. 
Ter felices et amplius [sunt ii] quos copula irrupta tenet nec amor ‹querimoniis malis divulsus› [eos] die suprema solvet.

 [revised March 27, 2015]

original words:

    Cum tū, Lȳdia, Tēlephī
cervīcem roseam, cērea Tēlephī
   laudās bracchia, vae, meum
fervēns dīfficilī bīle tumet iecur.
   tunc nec mens mihi nec color
certā sēde manet[manent], ūmor et in genās  
   furtim lābitur, arguēns
quam lentīs penitus mācerer ignibus.
   ūror, seu tibi candidōs
turpārunt umerōs inmodicae merō
   rixae, sīve puer furēns
impressit memorem dente labrīs notam.
   nōn, sī mē satis audiās,
spērēs perpetuum dulcia barbarē
   laedentem oscula, quae Venus
quīntā parte suī nectaris imbuit.
   fēlīcēs ter et amplius
quōs irrupta tenet cōpula nec malīs
   dīvulsus querimōniīs
suprēmā citius solvet amor diē.

:: 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, July 7, 2010

The Trickster :: Mercuri, Facunde Nepos :: I:10

The god Mercury often seemed to be on Horace’s mind. Mercury led the souls off after death, holding high the virga aurea, the golden twig or caduceus as in this ode and in ode I:23 [Sept 27 09 blog]. Mercury, the merchant god (his name is very closely related to 'merchant,' 'mercantile') was also important to poets. He was, as in ode II:17 (June 23 10 blog), the mercurial side of their nature: the creative, hard-to-define side that spawns eloquence.  He was the jokester, the trickster, the sly one. In the case of poets, Mercury led them to double entendres, to irony, sarcasm, and satire. In this ode, we see all of Mercury’s skills as well as those of Horace, who, with amazingly few words, manages to say so much. By the way, Mercury was also the creator of wrestling. Apt. What other sport is there that is more like writing? There is feint, muscle, sweat, and brutality. In both, there is never any show of mercy—only exultation in victory, tears in defeat.

There are two stories about Mercury embedded in this ode. One is when he stole Apollo’s cows the very day he [Mercury] was born. When Apollo confronted him the next day, Mercury pleaded innocent. “How could I born yesterday steal your cows?” Then when Apollo was distracted, he stole his quiver. At this, Apollo burst out laughing.  The second story is from the Iliad [24]. Mercury [i.e. Hermes] leads Priam safely to the tent of Achilles to ask for the return of his son Hector’s body from the haughty descendants of Atreus, that is, Agamemnon and Menelaus.


Mercury, eloquent grandson of Atlas,
clever one, by speech you shaped the savagery
of the first men, and by rules the decorous
sport of wrestling.

Of you I sing, herald of great Jupiter
and the gods, father of the curved lyre, 
crafty enough to hide anything he pleases
with a fun prank. 
You, baby you, scared by Apollo’s threatening 
voice, unless you returned the cows you’d stolen
out of trickery, Apollo, sans quiver,
breaks out laughing. 
Then, too, rich Priam, having left Ilium, 
with you as the leader deceived the proud sons 
of Atreus, the Thessalian fires, the 
camps hostile to Troy.

You, beloved by the high and the low of gods, 
restore the faithful souls to the blessed seats
and, by a golden rod, you marshal the crowds
translation © 2010 by James Rumford

in prose:

Mercuri, nepos facunde Atlantis, qui catus voce cultus feros hominum recentum et more palaestrae decorae formasti, te canam, nuntium Iovis magni et deorum, parentemque lyrae curvae, callidum quidquid placuit iocoso furto condere. 
Olim, nisi boves ‹per dolum amotas› reddidisses, dum voce minaci puerum terret, Apollo te risit, pharetra viduus. 
Quin et, duce te, Priamus dives, Ilio relicto, Atridas superbos ignesque Thessalos et castra iniqua Troiae fefellit. 
Tu, superis et imis deorum gratus, animas pias [in] sedibus laetis reponis virgaque aurea turbam levem coerces.
 [revised March 26, 2015]

the ode:

Mercurī, fācunde nepōs Atlantis,
quī ferōs cultūs hominum recentum
vōce formastī catus et decōrae
   mōre palaestrae,
tē canam, magnī Iovis et deōrum
nuntium curvaeque lyrae parentem,
callidum quicquid placuit iocōsō
   condere furtō.
tē, bovēs ōlim nisi reddidissēs
per dolum āmōtās, puerum minācī
vōce dum terret, viduus pharētrā
   rīsit Apollō.
quīn et ātrīdas duce tē superbōs
Īliō dīves Priamus relictō
Thessalōsque ignıs et inīqua Trōiae
   castra fefellit.
tū piās laetīs animās repōnis
sēdibus virgāque levem coercēs
aureā turbam, superīs deōrum
   grātus et īmīs.

:: 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, July 3, 2010

Lost Tears :: Motum ex Metello :: II:1

[ . . . . ]

Ballad of the Army Carts
Carts  rumble  rumble
Horses    neigh   neigh
The    ones   going   by,    each   a  bow   at   the  waist
Fathers,  mothers,  wives,   along   to   say   goodbye.
With   the   dust,   they   can’t   see  Xianyang   Bridge.
They   pull    at   their   clothes  and  stamp  their   feet. 
They  are  blocking  the  way  and  they  are weeping,
Weeping. The sound goes straight up to assail the sky
[ . . . . ]
[my translation]

I remember hearing a girl from Hong Kong read these lines of the Tang Dynasty poet Du Fu [杜甫] and weeping over them. To her, the wars of centuries past were still real—real because she had learned this poem in school as part of her cultural heritage. Rome is gone. No one will cry over the fields drenched in Latin blood, the Daunian [Roman] corpses in the streams. This kind of emotion is culturally learned. Just think what past events can bring tears to American eyes and how those same events are but dry history to others. 

Rome fell. Latin died, and the emotional culture of the people along the Tiber disappeared. 

Lost as well were countless books. Even the works of Pollio [75 BC—AD 4], the man to whom this ode is dedicated, did not survive. And what irony! Pollio, who was soldier, statesman, poet and playwright, was also the first in history, I am told, to have opened a public library.  He who offered the city of Rome books, is now but a footnote to a very complicated poem—so I write: 

You,   Pollio, 
You read and wrote and delighted  all with your wit.
Your  sense of  justice, your courage  they applauded.
There  was  nothing  you  couldn’t  do;   surely  in this
The gods must have looked on you with lavish favor.
But   I  see  now how  cruel   they  were to  deprive  us
of   the   books   you   wrote,  that  only  by  a  shadow 
cast   from   a  another’s  pen  do  we  see   you   move 
across   Rome’s   stage.


The civil unrest from the consul Metellus,
The causes of war, its misdeeds and means, 
Fortune’s painful game and the friendships of princes,
The weapons smeared with gore never appeased,
these you discuss, a dangerous throw of the dice
as you tread on fire buried in treacherous ash.

May the muse of serious drama be not long 
from the stage; when you’ve arranged the affairs
of state, your great career on Cecropian boots 
you will soon resume, as high defender 
of wretched cases, of the Curia in its 
debates, Pollio, for whom the laurel brings forth 
eternal honors from your Dalmatian triumph.

Just now you deafen our ears with horns threatening, 
roaring, now war trumpets blare, now the flash 
of arms scaring fleeing horses, knights by their looks. 
I now seem to hear great leaders, dirty 
but not disgraced by vile dust, feel the entire earth 
subjugated but for Cato’s defiant soul.

Juno and whichever of the gods more beloved 
by the Africans had withdrawn powerless
from the unavenged land, has brought back the grandsons
of their conquerors as an offering 
to the dead Jugurtha.What field, more fertile with
Latin blood, bears no witness with its graves to wars 
unholy and the sound of the collapse of the
West heard by the Medes? What flood, what rivers do not 
know mournful war? What sea did the fallen Daunians 
not discolor? What shores are not free of our gore?

But do not abandon, insolent muse, the fun.
Retract the public displays of Cean songs. Search 
with me in Dione’s caves airs of a lighter touch.

translation © 2010 by James Rumford

notes: There is so much to comment on in this ode that, instead of notes, I’ll make an explanatory summary:

Pollio, you take great risks in writing a history about the civil wars still fresh in people’s minds. You mention the consul Q. Metellus Scipio, who with Caesar, Pompey and Crassus formed the First Triumvirate in 60 B.C. Later in 46 B.C. Metellus Scipio fought against Julius Caesar and was defeated along with the Numidian King Juba in a battle near the North African town of Thapsus.

When you’re done writing, Pollio, perhaps you’ll return to writing Cecropian (Attic Greek) dramas, where the actors wear heeled shoes called cathurni to make them look taller. You’ll also practice law and counsel the senate, especially after your victory in the Balkans in 39 B.C.

You write vividly and mention M. Porcius Cato Uticensis, great-grandson of Cato the Censor, who ruled the North African city of Utica [no longer extant], and who, after the Battle of Thapsus, committed suicide in 46 B.C. rather than live under the dictatorship of Julius Caesar.

The goddess Juno and any of the other gods had abandoned the North Africans after Carthage was sacked in 146 B.C. and the Numidian, King Jugurtha, was executed in 104 B.C. Now, after the Battle of Thapsus, Juno brings, as an offering to Jugurtha, the very grandsons of those who had defeated him. In fact, Q. Metellus Scipio was the grandson of Metellus Numidicus, who had defeated and executed Jugurtha.

The remains of the Daunian (Roman) dead are everywhere.

But enough of these thoughts of dirges done in the style of Simonides of Ceos [556-467 B.C], who wrote elegies for those who fell at Marathon and Thermopylae; let us think of love and Dione, the mother of Venus.

in prose:

[O Pollio, tu] tractas: 
motum civicum ex consule Metello 
causasque et vitia et modos belli, 
ludumque Fortunae 
amicitiasque graves principum 
et arma uncta cruoribus nondum expiatis. 
[Hoc est tuum] opus: plenum aleae periculosae, et, per ignes cineri doloso suppositos incedis. 
Paulum musa tragoediae severae theatris desit. Mox ubi [tu] res-publicas ordina[ver]ris, munus grande [in] cothurno Cecropio repetes, praesidium insigne reis maestis et consulenti curiae, Pollio, cui laurus honores aeternos [ex] triumpho Delmatico peperit. 
Iam nunc [tu] aures ‹murmure minaci cornuum› perstringis. Iam litui strepunt. Iam fulgor armorum equos fugaces vultusque equitum terret. Iam videor duces magnos, pulvere indecoro non sordidos videre, et cuncta terrarum subacta…praeter animum atrocem Catonis. 
Iuno, impotens, et quisquis deorum amicior Afris, [ex] tellure inulta cesserat. [Iuno] nepotes victorum inferias Iugurthae rettulit. 
Quis campus, ‹sanguine Latino pinguior›, ‹proelia impia [a] sepulcris› ‹sonitumque ruinae Hesperiae [a] Medis auditum› non testatur? 
Qui gurges aut quae flumina belli lugubris ignara, quod mare caedes Dauniae non decoloraver[unt]? Quae ora cruore nostro caret? 

Sed, iocis relictis, [o] musa procax, mecum sub antro Dionaeo modos plectro leviore quaere, ne munera neniae Ceae retractes.

[revised March 27, 2015]

original wording:

Mōtum ex Metellō consule cīvicum
bellīque causās et vitia et modōs
   lūdumque Fortūnae gravısque
        principum amīcitiās et arma
nondum expiātīs uncta cruōribus,
perīculōsae plēnum opus āleae,
   tractās et incēdis per ignıs
        suppositōs cinerī dolōsō.
paulum sevērae Mūsa tragōediae
dēsit theātrīs; mox, ubi pūblicās
   rēs ordināris, grande mūnus
        Cēcropiō repetēs cothurnō,
insigne maestīs praesidium reīs
et consulentī, Polliō, cūriae,
   cui laurus aeternōs honōrēs
        Delmaticō peperit triūmphō.
iam nunc minācī murmure cornuum
perstringis aurıs, iam lituī strepunt,
   iam fulgor armōrum fugācıs
        terret equōs equitumque vultus.
vidēre[audire] magnōs iam videor ducēs
nōn indecōrō pulvere sordidōs
   et cuncta terrārum subacta
        praeter atrōcem animum Catōnis.
Iūnō et deōrum quisquis amīcior
Āfrīs inultā cesserat impotēns
   tellūre, victōrum nepōtēs
        rettulit inferiās Iugurthae.
quis nōn Latīnō sanguine pinguior
campus sepulcrīs impia proelia
   testātur audītumque Mēdīs
        Hesperiae sonitum ruīnae?
quī gurges aut quae flūmina lūgubris
ignāra bellī? quod mare Dauniae
   nōn dēcolōrāvēre caedēs?
        quae cāret ōra cruōre nostrō?
sed nē relictīs, Mūsa procax, iocīs
Cēae retractēs mūnera nēniae,
   mēcum Diōnaeō sub antrō

        quaere modōs leviōre plectrō.

:: 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.