Sunday, August 21, 2011

Listen Up :: Mercuri, Nam Te Docilis :: III:11

This ode is addressed to Mercury and the lyre for the benefit of Lyde, a hetaera, or Roman geisha. Horace wants her to hear about how Mercury can calm even those in the underworld suffering excruciating pain. In particular he wants her to hear about evil girls who did wicked things. He tells her about Hypermestra, one of the daughters of Danaus. She and her sisters were forced by their father to marry the sons of their father’s brother. On the wedding night they were to murder their husbands. All carried out their father’s wishes except Hypermnestra, who allowed her husband to escape. Of course, the evil sisters must spend eternity sub Orco, under the watch of Orcus, ogre god of the underworld. Their punishment: to fill a dolium, whose bottom is perforated with holes. As for Hypermnestra, she’s in Elysium.
According to Daniel Garrison in his Horace: Epodes and Odes, A New Annotated Latin Edition [1989], Horace spends so much time talking about Hypermnestra (without mentioning her name, I might add) that we forget forget all about Lyde and Mercury and the lyre. Why is this? Says Garrison [page 312]: “this is because the ode as a whole is a characteristically oblique tribute to Augustus’ spectacular new temple of Apollo, who portico was lined with statues of the Danaïds . . . .”

Given this historical background, perhaps Horace is once again railing against immorality in this ode. What if Lyde represents all the girls of Rome? What if she is Rome herself? This is not such a far-fetched idea, especially after reading ode III:6 “Delicta Maiorum Immeritus.”

In that last posting, I talked about Horace’s style, and how he seemed to like tacking on—no, piling on—more information until each of his sentences was a carefully constructed house of cards, each card being one more thing he wanted to say. And like a house of cards, some of his sentences are so huge that they seem to totter and sway under their own weight. The sentences in today’s ode are no different. Some sentences are so complex that editors have been forced over the centuries to enclose parts of them within parentheses.

I do not know whether Horace had some graphic sign to indicate a parenthetical remark or not (the Romans did have punctuation such as points and lines). Nevertheless, it is generally believed that lines 1-2 are parenthetical as well as line 30.

Mercure, (nam te docilis magistro
movit Amphion lapides canendo)
Mercury, for by you teacher, the teachable
Amphion moved rocks by singing,

Impiae (nam quid potuere maius?)
The impious girls, for what more could they do?

I’ve been feeling pretty smug about my analysis of Horace, how I think he uses singular verbs with plural subjects.  All you have to do is look at the lack of subject-verb agreement in today’s ode (which I have marked in red) to see further examples. Maybe Horace or the Romans, in general, thought that putting singular verbs with plural subjects was cool. If so, Horace’s style has nothing to do with adding on information. Rather it is a reflection of how he bent the rules of grammar. It could be that Horace was being colloquial. I suppose we’ll ever know. The last native speaker of Latin morphed into a speaker of Italian long, long ago.

And one more thing: the lack of subject-verb agreement is not altogether unknown in Indo-European languages. Persian is a good example. Subject-verb agreement is mandatory when the subject is animate or better still, a human being, but in all other cases subject-verb agreement is optional. Indeed, it is considered good style by some (I suspect pretty old codgers by now, since the language is evolving) to say:  The books was stolen. کتابها دزدیده شد  We even have our share of discord in English. Today, one hears more and more ‘there is’ when ‘there are’ should be used. 

translation :: 6|5 6|5 6|5 3|2

O Mercury, for because of you teacher, 
docile Amphion moved rocks with his singing, 
and you, ‘turtle shell,’ skillful in giving sound
to your seven strings,

once having aught to say, unwelcome, but now— 
at the tables of the rich and friend of the 
temples—play now a song for Lyde to bend
a stubborn ear to,

who, like a three-year-old filly in wide fields, 
plays and leaps and is afraid of being touched, 
unmarried, until now unprepared—for a 
spirited husband.

You have the power to command tigers and 
the willing woods and waylay the fleeting streams; 
that monstrous guard at the entrance yielded   
to your soothing ways—

that Cerberus—a multitude of serpents 
have guard over his head like a Fury’s, and 
there lingers putrid breath and a bloody ooze  
in his three-tongued mouth; 

indeed Ixion and Tityos, their faces 
unwilling, looked cheerful, the urn stood a bit 
dry, while you caress the Danaus girls with 
a welcome song.

Lyde hears the crime and the known punishment 
of the young girls and the empty vessel with 
water leaking from the bottom and the 
destinies delayed 

that too await the crimes before Orcus. 
The wicked girls–for what more could they have done?– 
the wicked girls were able kill their husbands 
with hardened iron.

Out of the many, one worthy of the 
wedding torch was splendidly deceitful to 
her disreputable father and for all 
time a noble girl,

“Get up!” she said to her youthful husband. 
“Get up. Don’t let long sleep be given you
from one you do not fear; cheat your father-in-law 
and evil sisters,

who like lionesses lying in wait for 
young bulls, rip them apart, oh God, one by one;
I, gentler than they, will not strike you dead 
nor keep you locked up.

Me Father will weigh down with brutal chains, because 
merciful me spared her poor man, me he will 
send off in a ship to the furthermost fields 
of Numidia.

Go where feet take you and the winds, while the night 
is kind—and Venus too, go with all luck, and 
scratch on my tomb a sad song, a memory of 
what happened to us.
translation © 2011 by James Rumford

commentarii :: 

in prose ::

[O] Mercuri, nam Amphion docilis, te magistro, lapides canendo movit, tuque, [o] testudo septem nervis resonare callida, nec olim loquax neque grata, et nunc [in] mensis divitum et [in] templis amica, tu dic modos quibus Lyde ‹aures [suas] obstinatas› applicet.
Quae, velut equa trima, [in] campis latis exsultim ludit metuitque tangi, nuptiarum expers et adhuc marito protervo cruda. 
Tu potes tigres silvasque comites ducere et rivos celeres morari. Cerberus, ‹ianitor immanis› aulae, quamvis centum angues caput furiale eius muniant atque spiritus taeter saniesque ore trilingui manet, tibi blandienti cessit. Quin et Ixion Tityosque vultu invito risit, urna sicca paulum stetit, dum ‹carmine grato› puellas Danai mulces. 
Lyde scelus audiat atque poenas notas virginum et dolium fundo imo lymphae pereuntis inane fataque sera, quae culpas etiam sub Orco manent. [Puellae] impiae—nam quid maius potuer[unt]?—impiae potuer[unt] ferro duro sponsos perdere. 
Fuit una de multis face nuptiali digna in parentem periurum splendide mendax et virgo nobilis in aevum omne. 
“Surge!” quae ‹marito iuveni› dixit, “Surge, ne somnus longius, unde non times, tibi detur. Socerum et sorores scelestas falle, quae—velut leaenae vitulos nactae—singulos eheu lacerant. Ego illis mollior nec te feriam neque intra claustra tenebo.
“Pater me [cum] catenis saevis oneret, quod [ego] clemens viro misero peperci. Vel me in agros extremos Numidarum [in] classe releget. I quo pedes et aurae te rapiunt, dum nox et Venus favet. I omine secundo. Et querelam, memorem nostri, [in] sepulcro scalpe.”   [revised March 27, 2015]

delphin ordo ::

O Mercuri (siquidem te præceptore Amphion saxa cantu movit) et tu, lyra, chordis septenis resonare perita: neque canora pridem neque jucunda, jam verò familiaris tum opulentorum mensis, tum fanis Deorum, numeros ede, quibus pervicaces auriculas admoveat Lyde: quæ sicut equa trium annorum exultat et ludit per apertos agros; fugitque attrectari, à nuptiis immunis, necdum petulanti viro idones. Tu vales trahere tigres silvasque simul, et rapidos tardare fluvios. Tibi demulcenti morem gessit Cerberus crudelis aulæ janitor; licèt caput illius furiale stipent serpentes multi, et ex ore tres linguas habente halitus pestilens et tabum fluat. Quinetiam Ixion et Tityus facie prætulerunt hilaritatem non sponte: stetit dolium tantisper aridum dum suavi cantu Danai filias detineres. Discat Lyde crimen et supplicia famosa puellarum, et vacuum aquâ vas evanescente ex imo profundo, perennemque sortem delictis etiam apud Inferos reservatam. Sceleratæ (quid enim pejus valuerint?) sceleratæ, inquam, illæ sævo gladio perimere sponsos valuerunt. At è pluribus una, tædis nuptialibus idones, egregiè fraudulenta erga patrem fallacem, et in cuncta secula illustris virgo extitit: quæ ait adolescenti sponso, Exurge, ne diuturnus tibi sopor, unde non metuis, comparetur: socerum et impias sorores effuge; quæ tanquam leænæ vitulos adeptæ totidem, (heu!) discerpunt. Ego illis elementior neque te percutiam, neque ditinebo intra septa. Me parens duris vinculis obruat, quoniam sponsum infelicem benigna servavi: me navi amandet ad ultimos etiam Numidarum campos. Abi auò te ferunt pedes et venti, dum nox et Venus obsecundant: abi faustis auspiciis, et tumulo inscribe querimoniam quá nostri recordatio permaneat. 

original ode ::

Mercurī, (nam tē docilis magistrō  
mōvit Amphion lapidēs canendō),
tūque testūdō resonāre septem
     callida nervīs,
nec loquax ōlim neque grāta, nunc et 
dīvitum mensīs et amīca templīs,
dīc modōs Lȳdē quibus obstinātās
     applicet aurıs.
quae velut lātīs equa trīma campīs
lūdit exsultim metuitque tangī
nuptiārum expers et adhuc protervō
     crūda marītō.
tū potes tīgrıs comitēsque silvās
dūcere et rīvōs celerēs morārī;
cessit immānis tibi blandientī 
     iānitor aulae
Cerberus, quamvis furiāle centum
mūniant anguēs caput eius atque
spīritus taeter saniesque mānet
     ōre trilinguī;  
quīn et Ixīon Tityōsque vultū
rīsit invītō, stetit urna paulum
sīcca, dum grātō Danaī puellās
     carmine mulcēs.
audiat Lȳdē scelus atque nōtās
virginum poenās et ināne lymphae
dōlium fundō pereuntis īmō
     sēraque fāta,
quae manent culpās etiam sub Orcō:
impiae—nam quid potuēre māius?—
impiae sponsōs potuēre dūrō
     perdere ferrō.
ūna dē multīs face nuptiālī
digna periūrum fuit in parentem
splendide mendax et in omne virgō
     nōbilis aevum,
‘surge’ quae dīxit iuvenī marītō,
‘surge, nē longıus tibi somnus unde
nōn timēs dētur, socerum et scelestās
     falle sorōrēs,
quae velut nactae vitulōs leaenae
singulōs ēheu lacerant: ego illīs
mollior nec tē feriam neque intrā
     claustra tenēbō.
mē pater saevīs oneret catēnīs,
quod virō clēmēns miserō pepercī,
mē vel extrēmōs Numidārum in agrōs
     clāsse relēget:
ī pedēs quō tē rapiunt et aurae,
dum favet nox et Venus, ī secundō
omine et nostrī memorem sepulcrō

     scalpe querēlam.’

:: 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, August 10, 2011

And One More Thing :: Delicta Maiorum Immeritus :: III:6

For some time I’ve had to contend with Horace using singular verbs for plural subjects. Sometimes, a scholar will note this oddity, but say nothing more. In today’s ode, there are two instances of subject-verb discord; so I ask myself: is Horace being poetic? Is he playing around with a rather tightly screwed together grammatical system. Or, is something else happening—something which goes to the heart of Horace’s style?

In lines 9–16, clearly there are multiple subjects but only singular verbs are used.

Iam bis Monaeses et Pacori manus
non auspicats contudit impetus
nostros et adiecisse praedam
torquibus exiguis renidet.

Paene occupatam seditionibus
delevit urbem Dacus et Aethiops,
hic classe formidatus, ille
missilibus melior sagittis.

Now twice Monaeses and Pacorus’ troops
crushed our inauspicious thrusts and
beams at having added booty to  
thin arm bands.

Dacus and the Egyptian nearly destroyed
the City occupied with civil war, the one
formidable with a navy, the other better
at shooting arrows.

Most translators say that the Persian general Monaeses (?منیوش) and the troops of King Pacorus (d. 38 BC—پاکور) are the subjects of contudit, ‘crushed’ and renidet, ‘beams.’ They believe that Dacus (the Dacian, or someone from the area of modern Hungary and Romania) and Aethiops (the Ethiopian, or here, scholars say, the Egyptian) are the subjects of delevit ‘destroyed.’ I get the feeling, however, that the conjunction et means more than ‘and’ here. Perhaps it means ‘and Pacorus’ troops by the way’ or perhaps it indicates a parenthetical remark: Monaeses (and Pacorus’ troops). If so, then Horace is not playing around with subject-verb agreement. Rather, he is doing what he always does in his poetry: tacking on afterthoughts, adding a bit of parenthetical precision. Just as Horace is fond of appositives, so I think he is enamored with this almost conversational style, a style that gives his work such immediacy.  It is as though he had not thought things out fully, as one speaking would do, gathering one’s thoughts, adding to what has already been said to make sure the meaning comes across.  Of course, Horace did think things out fully. His elaborate verbal crisscrossing of nouns and adjectives, the leap-frogging of verbs with subjects and objects couldn’t have been done otherwise. But I think, this jerky, bumpy feeling Horace gives to his words is part of his style. Scholars and school teachers may try to explain away his lack of subject-verb agreement, but I say, let him be.

Let him be when he decides to omit verbs. Take lines 33 to 44. Here Horace casts further shame on the parents of his day for not producing offspring as brave as their forebears. See how he constructs this idea in one long sentence.

(The following between brackets was revised August 9, 2013)

[The subject is iuventus, ‘youth,’ which I have colored red. The youth not of these parents did brave things but the offspring of he-man farmers and no-nonsense mothers. Horace, of course, is not as straightforward as this; there is a lot of information in these lines that makes the reader yearn a bit more of the connecting tissue of language: relative pronouns, copulas—that kind of thing. 

Non his iuventus orta parentibus
infecit aequor sanguine punico
Pyrrhumque et ingentem cecidit
Antiochum Hannibalemque dirum;

sed rusticorum mascula militum
proles, Sabelli docta ligonibus
versare glebas et severae
matris ad abitrium recisos

portare fuscis, sol ubi montium
mutaret umbras et iuga demeret
bobus fatigatis, amicum
tempus agens abeunte curru. 

It has taken me two years to realize fully Horace’s use of parenthetical remarks, which I will call these lines with seemingly double subjects, these lines containing no verbs. Horace keeps saying: “Oh, wait, I’ve got one more thing to say.”] 

translation :: 

Undeserving citizen, you’ll be paying 
for your fathers’ sins until you have redone 
the temples of the gods and shrines in
ruins and idols filthy with black smoke.

Since you take yourself less than the gods, you rule.
From here: all beginnings. Back here: bring results.
The gods neglected have given much
evil to sorrowing Italia.

Monaeses has already twice beaten back—
the forces of Pacorus as well—our ill-
omened thrusts and has beamed at having 
added plunder to his puny neck torques.

The Dacian, with his better arrow shooting, 
just about destroyed—the Egyptian as well, 
terrifying with his fleet of ships—
the City occupied with civil war.

Days fecund with sin have defiled first marriage 
then our children and family; from this fountain 
the destruction drawn off has flowed on, 
over the fatherland and the people.

The maturing girl delights in learning the 
Ionian moves and is taught its ways and 
before you know it, contemplates 
impure love with her tender fingertips.

Soon she is looking for younger adult men while 
her husband is drunk, and she isn’t choosey 
who she offers her unpermitted  
delights to, with the lights in the distance,

but, when openly ordered, not without her 
husband knowing, gets up, be he door-to-door 
salesman or a ship’s captain from Spain,
some big-spending buyer of disgust.

The youth arisen not from such parents 
stained the sea with Punic blood and brought down 
Phyrrhus and the powerful 
Antiochus, the hated Hannibal. [revised Aug 2013]

This youth! The manly offspring of rustic soldiers, 
taught to turn over the clods of earth with 
the Sabelian hoe and at the 
bidding of a strict mother to bring cut 

firewood, where Sol might transform the mountain 
shadows and remove the yoke from the tired 
cattle, driving on the beloved 
hours in his departing chariot.

Destructive day! What doesn’t it hang over?  
A worse-omened bird, our parents’ age, brought us, 
even more worthless, soon to produce  
children even more defective.
translation © 2011 by James Rumford

in prose ::

[O] Romane, immeritus delicta maiorum lues, donec templa aedesque labentes deorum et simulacra fumo nigro foeda refeceris. Imperas, quod te minorem dis geris. Hinc omne principium, huc exitum refer. 
Di neglecti multa mala Hesperiae luctuosae dederunt. Iam bis Monaeses et manus Pacori impetus non auspicatos nostros contud[erun]t et renide[n]t praedam torquibus exiguis adiecisse. Dacus et Aethiops urbem seditionibus occupatam paene delev[erun]t, hic classe formidatus, ille missilibus sagittis melior. 
Saecula culpae fecunda primum nuptias et genus et domos inquinaver[unt]. ‹Clades [ex] hoc fonte derivata› in patriam populumque fluxit. Virgo matura gaudet motus Ionicos doceri et artibus fingitur et iam nunc amores incestos de ungui tenero mediatur. Iuniores mox adulteros inter vina mariti quaerit neque eligit cui gaudia impermissa raptim donet, luminibus remotis, sed coram iussa, non sine conscio marito, surgit, seu institor vocat, seu magister navis Hispanae, emptor pretiosus dedecorum. 
Iuventus, his parentibus non orta, aequor sanguine Punico infecit, ‹Pyrrhumque› et ‹Antiochum ingentem› ‹Hannibalemque dirum› cecidit, sed [illa iuventus erat] proles mascula militum rusticorum, ligonibus Sabellis glaebas versare docta et ad arbitrium matris severae fustes recisos portare, ubi sol umbras montium mutaret et iuga bobus fatigatis demeret, agens tempus amicum, curru abeunte. 
Dies damnosa quid non imminuit? Aetas parentum, avis peior, nos nequiores tulit, mox progeniem vitiosiorem daturos.   [revised March 27, 2015]

Delphin ordo ::

O Romane, solves pœnas quas non es meritus, ob peccata patrum, donec resarcieris fana et delubra Numinum decidentia, atque imagines atro squalore deformatas. Regnas, quia te præstas inferiorem Numinibus. Inde omne primordium; illuc finem reduc. Spreta Numina plures calamitates intulerunt afflictæ Italiæ. Jam semel atque iterum Monæses et Pacori exercitus repulit nostros conatus inauspicatos: gaudetque nostra polia addidisse torquibus suis minoribus.  Civitatem dessensionibus detentam propemodum extinxit Dacus et Æthiops, hic navibus potens, ille telis jaciendis peritus. Ævum delictis fertile primò fœdavit conjugia, et stirpem, et familias. Ex istâ origine manans calamitas in patriam et populum grassata est. Nubilis puella studet ediscere saltationes Ionum, et jam formatur artibus: atque flagitiosos amores cogitat ab ætate molliori. Deinde mœchos adolescentiores sectatur inter viri sui convivia: nullumque delectum adhibet, cuí voluptates haud licitas furtim indulgeat, extinctis lucernis. Sed præsente et consentiente viro pergit vocata, sive petit negotiator, sive dominus navis Hispanicæ, flagitia remunerans ingenti mercede. Non ejusmodi parentibus nati juvenes mare tinxerunt cruore Carthaginiensium; et profligavere Pyrrhum, magnumque Antiochum, et sævum Hannibalem: sed strenui filii militum agrestium, assueti terram colere bipalo Sabino, et ad austeræ matris voluntatem amputata referre ligna, cùm montium vertit umbras et juga fessis bobus detrahit Sol, horam adducens jucundam recedente curru. Quid tempus edax non corrumpit? Ævum patrum nostrorum avis deterius produxit nos pejores, deinde prolem edituros etiam improbiorem.

original ode :: 

Dēlicta māiōrum immeritus luēs,
Rōmāne, dōnec templa refēceris
   aedēsque labentıs deōrum et
        foeda nigrō simulacra fūmō.
dīs tē minōrem quod geris, imperās:
hinc omne princīpium, hūc refer exitum.
   dī multa neglectī dedērunt
        Hesperiae mala luctuōsae.
iam bis Monaesēs et Pacorī manūs
nōn auspicātōs contudit impetūs
   nostrōs et adiēcisse praedam
        torquibus exiguīs renīdet.
paene occupātam sēditiōnibus
dēlēvit urbem Dācus et Aethiops,
   hīc clāsse formīdātus, ille
        missilibus melior sagittīs.
fēcunda culpae saecula nuptiās
prīmum inquināvēre et genus et domōs:
   hōc fonte dērīvāta clādēs
        in patriam populumque fluxit
mōtūs docērī gaudet Iōnicōs
mātūra virgō et fingitur artibus,
   iam nunc et incestōs amōrēs
        dē tenerō meditātur unguī.
mox iuniorēs quaerit adulterōs  
inter marītī vīna, neque ēligit
   cui dōnet impermissa raptim
        gaudia luminibus remōtīs,
sed iussa cōram nōn sine consciō
surgit marītō, seu vocat institor
   seu nāvis Hispānae magister,
        dēdecōrum pretiōsus emptor.
nōn hīs iuventus orta parentibus
infēcit aequor sanguine Pūnicō
   Pyrrhumque et ingentem cecīdit
        Antiochum Hannibalemque dīrum;
sed rusticōrum mascula mīlitum
prōles, Sabellīs docta ligōnibus
   versāre glaebās et sevērae
        mātris ad arbitrium recīsōs
portāre fustıs, sōl ubi montium
mūtāret umbrās et iuga dēmeret
   bōbus fatīgātīs, amīcum
        tempus agēns abeunte currū.
damnōsa quid nōn imminuit diēs?
aetās parentum, pēior āvīs, tulit
   nōs nēquiōrēs, mox datūrōs

        prōgeniem vitiōsiōrem.

:: 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.