Saturday, October 22, 2011

Simple Honesty :: Faune Nympharum :: III:18

To someone used to reading Chinese poetry with its fluid, almost cinematographic descriptions of rural life, I find this poem a bit boring. But then, why make such a comparison? Horace was Roman not Chinese. Besides, who am I to say such a thing? Scholars over the centuries have praised these few lines for their beauty. One scholar compared them to a painting by Breughel.   

Another [Eduard Fraenkel 1880-1970] thought them “a little masterpiece of refined simplicity.”

But like all that is “simple” in art, this poem is extremely complex. Horace addresses this ode to Faunus, a kind of Roman Pan. 
He talks about sex (Nymphs and Venus), getting drunk, and just vegging out during this country holiday held on the nonae of December, i.e., December fifth.  Also implied in this ode is how the Romans viewed their relationship with the gods. It was one of do ut des (I give so that you give), as pointed out by Daniel Garrison in his Horace: Epodes and Odes. Horace will have plenty of wine and incense ready for the Faunus so that, when he comes barreling? flitting? rolling? through his fields (I really don’t know how Faunus got about), he’ll leave as nicely as he came.

All of this is complex enough, but the real complexity lies in the last four lines: Faunus’ presence will make it so that the lambs aren’t afraid [audacis] of the wolves. The forest (even though it is fall, I might add) will drop [spargit] its leaves for him, and the field hand will do a jig—actually the tripudium (the three step, a dance related to the measured stamping done in religious ceremonies)—upon the land he hates so much.  This god Faunus obviously has real power, transformative power. 

It is a foolish thing on my part to pivot an entire poem on one word, but I will. The word? Invisam.

gaudet invisam pepulisse fossor
ter pede terram.

glad is the field hand having pounded the
hated ground thrice with his feet.

What an honest look at the life of the farm laborer who grudgingly gets up at dawn and toils until sunset, day after day! This is no bucolic nonsense.  My emotions, too, are aroused by these lines. I feel compassion for the laborer. I transfer that compassion to the towns people lying in the fields. They now become alive. The cattle seem to move, too, and the old, tumble-down shrine begins to fill the air with an indescribable fragrance. 

I will end with another painting—not by Breughel but done by Jules Bastien-Lepage in 1878 entitled “Les Foins.” Here is the honesty and emotion that I believe Horace captured in his “little masterpiece of refined simplicity.”

Translation ::

Faunus, you lover of fleeing nymphs,
through my confines and sun-lit lands,
soft you will enter and kind you will leave
with the little lambs, as long 

as a tender goat, a yearling is offered,
and ample wine is not lacking in that 
friend of Venus, the krater, and the old shrine 
smokes with much incense.

The cattle all play in the grassy field, 
when the nonae of December come round;
Country folk on holiday rest in the fields 
with lazing cows,

a wolf roams amongst bold lambs,
for you the country woods scatters leaves,
glad is the field hand having pounded 
the hated ground thrice with his feet.
[translation © 2011 by James Rumford]

a Greek krater, a wine mixing bowl

In Prose ::

[O] faune, amator Nympharum fugientum, lenis per fines meos et rura aprica incedas aequusque alumnis parvis abeas, si haedus tener anno pleno cadit, nec vina larga craterae (sodali Veneris) desunt, ara vetus multo odore fumat. 
Pecus omne campos herboso ludit, cum nonae Decembres tibi redeunt, pagus festus in pratis cum bove otioso vacat. Lupus inter agnos audaces errat. Silva frondes agrestes tibi spargit. Fossor gaudet terram invisam ter pede pepulisse.   [revised March 28, 2015]

Delphin Ordo ::

Faune amnas Nymphas fugients, 
transi benignus per meos limites 
agrosque soli expositos, ac discede 
propitius tenellis fœtibus; 
siquidem tibi maetatur capreolus 
anno completo, additurque vinum 
copiosum in paterâ Veneri amicâ, 
atque ara antiqua plurimo thure inceditur. 
Quoties nonæ Decembres tibi sacræ 
recurrunt, pecudes cunctæ lasciviunt 
in pratis; vicus festum celebrans herboso 
campo requiescit cum bobus non laborantibus. 
Lupus vagatur inter agnos nihil timentes: 
nemus sternit folia in tuum honorem: 
agricola humum molestam ter plantâ 
ferire lætatur.

Original Ode ::

Faune, Nymphārum fugientum amātor,
per meōs fīnıs et aprīca rūra
lēnis incēdās abeāsque parvīs
   aequus alumnīs,
sī tener plēnō cadit haedus annō
larga nec dēsunt Veneris sodālī
vīna crātērae, vetus āra multō
   fūmat odōre.
lūdit herbōsō pecus omne campō,
cum tibī nōnae redeunt Decembrēs,
festus in prātīs vacat ōtiōsō
   cum bove pāgus,
inter audācıs lupus errat agnōs,
spargit agrestıs tibi silva frondıs,
gaudet invīsam pepulisse fossor

   ter pede terram.

:: 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, October 12, 2011

It Isn't Worth It :: Tyrrhena Regum Progenies :: III:29

The day-to-day worry, the stress of having things, too many things, isn't worth it. Better to relax once in a while and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. And should fate deal you a bad hand, don't fight it. Don't hang on to what you have. Give it all up and let the winds carry you to calmer seas.

I wonder how many harried businessmen or besieged politicians over the last two thousand years have found wisdom and solace in today's ode. I wonder what the rich man Maecenas, to whom this poem is addressed, thought of Horace's philosophy of life. And I wonder how many over the centuries, knowing this poem, have ignored its message and have refused to let go of what is actually holding them down. How many like the actress Allison Doody in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" go to their doom stubbornly reaching for the Holy Grail?

Horace describes his philosophy of life well: If there is a sudden storm arising from North Africa, instead of going down with the ship laden with all his goods, he jumps aboard the life boat and lets the winds and the stars carry him where they will. It's a fine line Horace paints between cowardice and prudence. 

This fine line, I think, lies in Horace's understanding of the role of fate in human affairs. When fortune is with you, great. When it is not, there is little you can do. Horace says: when Fortune spreads her wings to leave me, I give back to her what she has given. I wrap myself in my worth as a human being [meā virtute] and accept my honest poverty [probam pauperiem]. 

What courage and self-presence it would take to follow Horace's example. How many of us will take those minutes meant for escape to hose down our roof before the on-coming fire, to board up one more window before the impending hurricane?

As in my last posting, I have used footnotes to explain difficult passages. I have also highlighted in red certain words or phrases so that you can easily locate them in the prose rendition, the Delphin ordo, and in the original ode.

Translation ::

Etruscan offspring of kings, for you
mild wine from a jar not yet opened, 
Maecenas, with roses and for your 
hair pressed balsam already at my 

house. Tear yourself away for a while! 
Don’t keep looking at damp Tibur or 
Aefula’s sloping fields or the hills 
of Telegonus the Parricide.

Leave behind the sickening cliques and 
that rock pile close to towering clouds.
Let it go—looking at the smoke and 
the wealth and the noise of blessèd Rome.

Very often a welcome change for 
the rich and a nice meal before a 
poorman’s little hearth without carpets 
and purple have smoothed a worried brow.

Andromeda’s bright father has just 
shown his hidden fire; now Procyon 
rages—and the insane lion star, 
as the sun brings back the days of thirst.[1]

Now the tired shepherd looks for shade and 
stream with his listless flock and the thick
bushes of rough Silvanus with no 
quiet river bank, no errant winds.

You care what form suits the city-state 
and, worried, you fear for Rome: what the 
Chinese are hatching and Balkh once Cyrus-
ruled and the dissident Tanaïs. [2]
The knowing God hides in the fog of night 
what the future may bring and laughs, if 
a mortal becomes stressed beyond what 
is right. Remember what is present:
be calm and even-tempered. The rest 
is carried off like a river, now in 
mid-channel peacefully slipping down 
to the Etruscan Sea, now worn rocks

and roots snatched away and cattle and 
houses churning together, with the 
noise of the mountains and nearby woods, 
as that untamed flood stirs to anger 

quiet streams. Master over himself and
happy, he makes out, who for a day 
can have said “I’ve lived. Tomorrow, Jove, 
whether by a black cloud or a sky

filled with pure sun [3], will in no way void  
whatever's past nor will he undo 
and give another shade of color 
to what the fleeting hour has once brought.”

Joyful Fortune in her wild dealings, 
determined to play a brazen game, 
shifts around her uncertain honors,
now kind to me, now to another. 

I praise her for staying[4]; if she 
shakes her swift feathers, I return what 
she gave, wrap myself in my virtue,
and undowered seek clean poverty.

It is not my thing—if the mast roars 
from African storms—to resort to sad 
little prayers and bargain with God that 
the goods from Cyprus and Tyre not 

add wealth to the avaricious sea.
That’s when the breeze, the twin Pollux too, 
will carry me through the Aegean 
turmoil safely in a two-oared skiff.

Translation © 2011 by James Rumford
Notes ::

1  All stars during the summer months: Andromedae pater: Cepheus, which rises about July 15; the star Procyon, which rises July 15, eleven days before the Dog Star; stella vesani Leonis, Leo or its main star Regulus.

2  Tanais: people living along the River Don.

3 Vel atrā nube polum pater occupatō vel sole purō was too telegraphic for me to figure out. The translations and explanations were of little help. Literally this is:

Either with a black cloud the sky the father
by filling or with pure sun 

What we have here are two intertwined ablative absolutes:

Either by the father's filling the sky with a black cloud
or by the father's filling the sky with pure sun.

4 Laudo manentem, literally "I praise the staying one" refers to Fortune. Latin let me down here. In spite of its insistence on gender, there are just some constructions and declensions which show no gender. Hence I didn't know what this phrase meant until I looked at a few translations.

In Prose ::

[O] Maecenas, progenies Tyrrhena regum, iamdudum apud me est tibi merum lene, [ex] cado ante non verso, cum flore rosarum et balanus capillis tuis pressa.
Morae te eripe. Nec semper Tibur udum et arvum declive Aefulae et iuga Telegoni parricidae contempleris. Copiam fastidiosam et molem propinquam nubibus arduis desere. Omitte fumum et opes strepitumque Romae beatae mirari.
Plerumque ‹vices divitibus gratae cenaeque mundae› sub lare parvo pauperum sine aulaeis et ostro frontem sollicitam explicuer[unt].
Iam pater clarus Andromedae ignem occultum ostendit. Iam Procyon furit et stella Leonis vesani, sole dies siccos referente.
Iam pastor fessus umbras rivumque cum grege languido quaerit et dumeta Silvani horridi, ripaque taciturna ventis vagis caret.
Tu curas quis status civitatem deceat, et, sollictus, urbi times: quid Seres et Bactra, Cyro regnata, Tanaisque discors parent. 
Deus, prudens, exitum temporis futuri nocte calignosa premit ridetque, si mortalis ultra fas trepidat. 
Quod adest memento aequos componere. 
Cetera ritu fluminis ferunter, nunc medio alveo cum pace in mare Etruscum delabentis, nunc ‹lapides adesos› stirpesque raptas et pecus et domos una volventis, non sine clamore montium silvaeque vicinae, cum diluvies fera amnes quietos irritat. 
Ille potens sui laetusque deget cui licet in diem dixisse “Vixi.” 
Cras pater, polum vel nube atra vel sole puro occupato. Quodcumque tamen retro est, irritum non efficiet neque infectum diffinget. Quodque hora fugiens semel vexit [non] reddet. 
Fortuna laeta negotio saevo et ludum insolentem ludere pertinax honores incertos transmutat, nunc mihi nunc alii benigna. [Illam] manentem [mecum] laudo. Si pennas celeres quatit, quae dedit resigno et [cum] virtute mea me involvo pauperiemque probam sine dote quaero.
Meum non est, si malus procellis Africis mugiat, ad preces miseras decurrere et votis pacisci ‹ne merces Cypriae Tyriaeque divitias mari avaro addant›. Tunc, aura geminusque Pollux me tutum per tumultus Aegaeos [in] praesidio scaphae biremis feret.   [revised March 28, 2015]

Delphin Ordo ::

O Mæcenas, proles Hetrusca Regum, jam pridem apud me tibi est dulce vinum in amphorâ non hactnus inversâ, cum floribus rosarum, et balanus expressa tuis crinibus. Subtrahe te cunctationi; ne continuè spectes humidum Tibur, et pronos argros Æsulæ, collesque Telegoni parricidae. Relinque abundantiam fastidium afferentem, et ædes excelsis nubibus proximas. Intermitte admirari fumum, et potentiam, tumultusque Romæ felicis. Non rarò jucunda opulentis varietas, et nitidæ cœnæ in exiguiâ domo pauperum, sine tapetibus et purpurâ, vultum anxium porrexerunt. Jam lucidus parens Andromedæ promit ardorem absconditum. Jam sævit Anticanis, ac sidus Leonis furiosi, Sole reducente dies aridos. Nunc pastor æstu fatigatus cum grege languente petit umbras, et amnes, atque densa nemora Silvani hirsuti; et littus silens leves non habet aurasTu laboras quis urbi status conveniat, ac mentis anxius quid adversùs  Rempublicam moliantur Seres, et Bactriani Cyro subjecti, atque Tanais seditiosus. Dii sapientes obscuris tenebris involvunt venturi ævi sortem : deridentque si homo plus quàm decet angatur. Satage bene moderari præsentia. Reliqua dilabuntur instar fluvii Tiberis, modò intra ripas quietè defluentis in mare Thuscum, modò saxa corrosa evulsasque stirpes, et greges, atque ædificia simul abripientis, haud sine sonitu montium et silvæ proximæ; quando immanis eluvies solicitat fluvios tranquillos. Is compos sui est, vivetque hilaris, qui diebus singulis dicere potest, Vixi: crastinâ die Jupiter cœlo producat vel obscura nubila vel serenam diem; at nequaquam rescindet quicquid actum est, neque mutabit ac destruet quod semel attulit fluxum tempus. Fors gaudens rebus adversis, et obstinata ludere ludum petulantem, subvertit dignitates caducas, jam mihi, mox alteri propitia. Laudo stantem. Quòd si leves alas movet, reddo quæ donavit, et meâ me virtute protego; atque honestam paupertatem indotatam peto. Si navis gemat Africis tempestatibus, non ad me attinet confugere ad vota luctuosa, et precibus obtinere, ne Cypriæ vel Tyriæ merces mari avido opes adjungant. Tum etiam me securum ventus lenis ac geminus Pollux per fluctus Ægæos vehet ope naviculæ duos remos habentis.

Original Ode ::

Tyrrhēna rēgum prōgenies, tibi
nōn ante versō lēne merum cadō
   cum flōre, Maecēnās, rosārum et
       pressa tuīs balanus capillīs
iamdūdum apud mē est: ēripe tē morae,
nec semper ūdum Tībur et Aefulae
   dēclīve contemplēris arvum et
       Tēlegonī iuga parricidae.
fastīdiōsam dēsere cōpiam et
mōlem propinquam nūbibus arduīs:
   ǒmitte mīrārī beātae
        fūmum et opēs strepitumque Rōmae.
plērumque grātae dīvitibus vicēs
mundaeque parvō sub lare pauperum
   cēnae sine aulaeīs et ostrō
       sollicitam explicuēre frontem. 
iam clārus occultum Andromedae pater
ostendit ignem, iam Procyon furit
   et stella vēsānī Leōnis,
       sōle diēs referente siccos;
iam pastor umbrās cum grege languidō
rīvumque fessus quaerit et horridi
   dūmēta Silvānī, caretque
       rīpa vagīs taciturna ventīs.
tū cīvitātem quis deceat status
cūrās et urbī sollicitus timēs
   quid Sēres et regnāta Cȳ
       Bactra parent Tanaīsque discors.
prūdēns futūrī temporis exitum
cālignōsā nocte premit deus
   rīdetque, sī mortālis ultrā
       fās trepidat. quod adest mementō
compōnere aequos; cētera flūminis
rītū feruntur, nunc mediō alveō
   cum pace dēlābentis ētruscum
       in mare, nunc lapidēs adēsōs
stirpısque raptās et pecus et domōs
volventis unā, nōn sine montium
   clāmōre vīcīnaeque silvae,
       cum fera dīluviēs quiētōs
irrītat amnıs. ille potēns suī
laetusque dēget cuī licet in diem
   dixisse “vixī”: crās vel atrā
       nūbe polum pater occupatō
vel sōle pūrō; nōn tamen irritum
quodcumque retrō est efficiet neque
   diffinget infectumque reddet
       quod fugiēns semel hōra vexit.
Fortūna saevō laeta negōtiō et
lūdum insolentem lūdere pertinax
   transmūtat incertōs honōrēs,
       nunc mihi nunc aliī benigna.
laudō manentem; sī celerıs quatit
pennās, resignō quae dedit et meā
   virtūte mē involvō probamque
       pauperiem sine dōte quaerō.
nōn est meum, sī mūgiat Africīs
mālus procellīs, ad miserās precēs
   dēcurrere et vōtīs pacīscī
       nē Cypriae Tyriaeque mercēs
addant avārō dīvitiās marī:
tunc mē birēmis praesidiō scaphae
   tūtum per Aegaeōs tumultūs

       aura feret geminusque Pollux.

:: 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.