Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Woman's Virtue in a Man's World :: Impios Parae :: III:27

My apologies for a long absence. Today’s ode was difficult.

Not only did the language cause me problems, but the meaning was complicated.

Horace’s friend Galatea is leaving and he wants to bid her a safe journey. He looks for the best of omens and before the reader knows it, Horace has led us to the story of Eurōpē (Europa), who was abducted by Zeus in the form of a bull and raped. Poor thing! She begs for death. She beseeches Venus to show some kindness. Venus tells her to put a lid on it. “Besides you loved it,” she seems to be saying. “So be happy. A part of the world will be named after you.”

I guess, from this, I might think that women should just shut up about being raped. Don’t they realize all the good that can come of it? Sure, their reputation is ruined. They might even dash themselves to death on sharp rocks. But, heck! The virtue of womankind is at stake!

I’m kidding, but is Horace? Horace lived in a man’s world. Most of the scholars that have dealt with him are men. Even the word ‘virtue’ has its roots in the Latin word for ‘man’: vir. So what’s with this poem?

I suppose I’ve already answered my question. In a man’s world, women must be virtuous. Women have to understand that rape happens. Even so, they have to do everything in their power to uphold their honor and bring no shame on their family. And they have to realize that the man is not to blame.

Zeus, the symbol of maleness, is the king of the gods and can never be blamed for his actions. He can take what he wants, whom he desires, and everyone must understand.

I don’t think that Horace ever considered the existence of a double standard. Men have one code of behavior. And they have made a different one for women. After all, women being different in body as well as mind, shouldn’t be held to the same standard as men. Such is the lie of a male-dominated society: difference does not mean inequality.    

But is there in this poem a bit of truth, something we can use in the twenty-first century (forget for a moment the present assault on woman’s rights)? If there is, perhaps it is this: Rape is a fact of life no matter the society. Deal with it. It is how one ‘deals with it’ that defines a people.

The Romans and the Greeks did their best to infuse their poetry, their plays, their myths with what I am going to call 'consciousness.' By this, I mean, a reality check, a reminder of what the world is like—for better or for worse. Today’s ode is no exception.

There does, however, remain one further point to consider. Was Horace being sarcastic, ironic, mocking, outrageously funny, or dead serious in this poem? I can only leave that up to you to consider. If there is any answer to this, it might be found in the lines

utinam inter errem nuda leones 
would that I might wander naked among lions


speciosa quaero tigris pascere 
I [so] beautiful seek to be food for tigers.

I can’t imagine Horace not smiling to himself when he came up with these over-the-top lines.

Horace is only one of many who have told the story of Europe’s rape. Below are several artists and their interpretations. Notice how a woman, Jennifer Linton, views the rape.

Simon Vouet [1590-1649]

Gillis Coignet [1542-1599]

Guido Cagnacci [1601-1663]

Felix Vallotton [1865-1925]

Jennifer Linton [1968 - ]

Translation ::

The wicked? Let the omen of a hooting owl 
direct—the pregnant dog or, from Lanuvino 
field, the grey she-wolf running off—
    the pregnant fox.
Let the snake halt a trip planned
when, arrow-like from the side, it frightens
the ponies. [But] for the one I worry over? I, 
    cautious diviner, 
shall, before the return of the prophetic bird 
of impending rain to the stilled marshlands, rouse 
with prayer the augery raven 
    at the sun’s rising. 
Let yourself be happy wherever you may,
and remember us, Galatea, long life!
Let the woodpecker to the left not stop your going
    nor the errant crow.
But you do see how much tumult Orion
setting causes. What a black gulf, I know,
the Adriatic is! What evil the dry Iapyx
    wind brings!
Let the enemy wives and sons feel the 
blind tumult of the south wind rising,
the roar of the dark sea, and from the shock—
    the trembling shores.
Yes, and Europa trusted her snowy side to
the trickster bull, though spirited, she turned 
white in the midst of being deceived at the 
    monster-seething sea.
Just a bit ago, in the fields, busy with the flowers 
and making a crown for the Nymphs,
in the dark of the night, she saw nothing
    but stars and waves.
As soon as she touched Crete, powerful
with its hundred cities, “Father, O maiden’s
name! O duty!” she said,
    “overcome by anger!
How did I come to this? One death is
[too] light for a girl’s wrong. Am I awake crying
over this evil deed, or is a vision toying with 
    sinless me, an illusory one,
which, fleeing through the Ivory Door,
leads to dreams? Was it better to go
through the long surge of the sea or—
    to pick fresh flowers?
If anyone gives me now that hated bullock,
angry I’d do whatever I could to slash it with 
a sword, to break somehow the horns of the
    monster once much loved.
Shamelessly, I left my country’s household gods.
Shamelessly, I put off death. Ye Gods, if any
of you hear this, make it so I wander naked
    among lions!
Before ugly hunger overtakes these lovely cheeks,
before the moistness flows from this 
tender prey, I, the beautiful one, ask to be
    food for tigers.
‘Vile Europa!’ My absent father goads,
‘Why put off dying? Why not from this 
mountain ash hang yourself good with the belt
    you brought along?
Or do the cliffs and sharp rocks lure you away
to death? Come on, give yourself to the swift
wind storm—unless you prefer for a slavemaster
    to get a ration of wool—
you of royal blood! to be given over to some 
barbarian woman as a concubine.’” 
Nearby the supplicant was Venus, with an evil laugh,
    and her son, bow unstrung.
By and by, when she had toyed enough, 
“Curb,” she said, “the anger and the heated strife,
when the 'hated' bull again gives you
    horns that gore.
Don’t you know you’re the wife of 
unconquered Jove? Stop bawling. Do learn 
to endure great fortune; a part of the globe will
    carry your name."

[translation copyright 2012 by James Rumford]

In Prose ::

Omen parrae recinentis impios ducat et canis praegnans aut lupa rava ‹ab agro Lanuvino decurrens› vulpesque feta, et serpens iter institutum rumpat si per obliquum sagittae similis mannos terruit. 
Ego [autem], auspex providus, cui timebo? Antequam avis, divina imbrium imminent[i]um, paludes stantes repetat, corvum oscinem prece ab ortu solis suscitabo. 
Licet [tu] felix sis et memor nostri vivas, ubicumque mavis, [o] Galatea. Picusque laevus nec te vetet ire nec cornix vaga. 
Sed vides quanto tumultu Orion pronus trepidet. Ego novi quid sinus ater Hadriae sit, quid Iapyx albus peccet. 
Sentiant uxores puerique hostium motus caecos Austri orientis et fremitum aequoris nigri et ripas trementes verbere. 
Sic et Europe latus [suum] niveum tauro doloso credidit et, audax, [propter] ‹pontum beluis scatentem› faudesque medias palluit.
 Nuper in pratis opifex coronae florum studiosa et Nymphis debitae, nocte sublustri nihil praeter astra et undas vidit. 
Quae, simul Creten centum oppidis potentem tetigit, dixit: 
“Pater, o nomen ‘filiae’ relictum pietasque furore victa! Unde quo  veni? Una mors culpae virginum levis est. 
“[Ego]ne vigilans commissum turpe ploro? An, [ex] porta eburna fugiens, imago vana quae somnium ducit [me] ‹vitiis carentem› ludit? 
“Meliusne fuit per fluctus longos ire, an flores recentes carpere? 
“Si quis nunc ‹mihi iratae› iuvencum infamem dedat, enitar ferro lacerare et modo cornua monstri multum amati frangere. 
“Impudens Penates patrios liqui. Impudens Orcum moror. 
“O si quis deorum haec audis, utinam inter leones nuda errem! 
“Antequam ‹macies turpis› ‹malas decentes› occupet sucusque praedae tenerae defluat, [ego] speciosa quaero tigres pascere. 
“‘[O] vilis Europe,’ pater absens urget: ‘quid cessas mori? Potes ab hac orno pendulum zona, bene te secuta, collum laedere. Sive rupes et saxa acuta te leto delectant, age, te procellae veloci crede, nisi mavis pensum erile carpere [tu]que, sanguis regius, paelex dominae barbarae tradi.’” 
Venus, perfidum ridens, quaerenti aderat et filius [suus] arcu remisso. Mox, ubi satis lusit: 
“Abstineto,” dixit, “irarum rixaeque calidae, cum taurus invisus tibi cornua laceranda reddet. Nescis [te] uxor Iovis invicti esse. Singultus mitte. Disce fortunam magnum bene ferre. Sectus orbis nomina tua ducet.”
 [revised March 28, 2015]

Delphin Ordo ::

Sceleratos deducat augurium parræ cantum iterantis, et canis gravida, vel lupa rufa veniens ab agro Lanuvino, et vulpes catulos enixa. Anguis quoque viam incœptam remoretur, cùm velut sagitta è transverso equis pavorem injecit. Ego, cui metuam augur prævidens futura, priusquam avicula pluviæ proximæ prænuncia redeat ad paludes minimè fluentes, votis vocabo corvum ab oriente canentem. Esto fortunata ubicunque volucris, ô Galatea, et vive nostri memoriam servans: et te nec pergere impediat sinister picus, nec cornix vagabunda. At cernis quanto fragore properet Orion declivis? Ego scio quàm periculosum sit Hadriaticum mare, utque fallat Iapyx serenus. Conjuges et filii hositum experiantur occultos motus austri surgentis, et tumultus atri maris, ac littora ictibus fluctuum concussa. Ita etiam Europa fallaci tauro commisit latus candidum; atque mare bestiis refertum et apertos dolos expavit antò imperterrita. Paulò antè flores in pratis colligens, texensque corollas Nymphis meritas, nocte parùm lucidâ, nihil aspexit nisi sidera et aquas. Cùm verò pervenit ad Cretam contenis urbibus validam, irâ percita ait: O parens, nomen, à filiâ neglectum, et pictas etiam relicta! Unde et quò deveni? Unica mors pœna est minor flagitio virginum. An experrecta fleo crimen fœdum? An scelere immunem me decipit species inanis, quæ dilapsa per januam eburneam insomnium emittit? An satius fuit longa tranare maria, an flores novos colligere? si aliqui modò tradat iratæ mihi taurum flagitiosum, conabor ferro discerpere ac rumpere cornua juvenci priùs dilecti nimiùm. Sine verecundiâ descrui paternam domum: sine pudore cunctor Inferos. O si qui Deorum audis ista, faxis nuda ambulem inter leones. Priusquam fœda tabes invadat pulchras genas, ac delicatæ prædæ succus dilabatur, cupio formosa tigres satare. Infamis Europa, absens pater instat, quorsum mori differs? Frangere cervicem potes ab istâ orno suspensam obsequente tibi cingulo. Seu magis placent cautes et scopuli ad mortem expediti; age, committe te celeri tempestati; nisi pensum dominæ trahere vis, tu Regis filia, atque dari pellex heræ barbaræ. Lugenti astabat Venus improbè ridens, natusque laxato arcu: postquam verò satis ludificata est, ait: Modum pone furori et ardenti jurgio, quando tibi juvencus odiosus cornua dabit fragenda. Ignoras te esse conjugem supremi Jovis? Omitte querimonias. Disce altam sortem sustinere, ut decet: divisus mundus tuam feret appelationem.

Original Ode ::

Impiōs parrae recinentis ōmen
dūcat et praegnāns canis aut ab agrō
rāva dēcurrēns lupa Lānuvinō
    fētaque volpēs:
rumpa/it et serpēns iter institūtum
sī per oblīquum similis sagittae
terruit mannōs: ego cui/cur/quid timēbō
    prōvidus auspex,
antequam stantıs/es repetat palūdēs
imbrium dīvīna avis imminentu/ium,
oscinem corvum prece suscitābō
   sōlis ab ortū.
sis licet fēlix ubicumque māvīs,
et memor nostrī, Galatēa, vīvās,
tēque nec laevus vetet [vetat] īre pīcus
    nec vaga cornix.
sed vidēs quantō/um trepidet/at tumultū
prōnus ōrīōn. ego quid sit āter
Hādriae nōvī sinus, quid albus
    peccet Iāpyx.
hostium uxōrēs puerīque caecōs
sentiant/ent mōtūs orientis Austrī et
aequoris nigrī fremitum et tre/gementı/es
    verbere rīpās.
sīc et Eurōpē nive/ium dolōsō
crēdidit taurō latus et scatēntem
bēlǔīs pontum mediāsque fraudēs
    pallǔit audax.
nūper in prātīs studiōsa flōrum et
dēbitae Nymphīs opifex corōnae,
nocte sublustrī nihil astra praeter
    vīdit et undās.
quae simul centum tetigit potentem
oppidīs Crētēn, “pater, ō relictum
fīliae nōmen, pietāsque” dīxit
    “victa furōre!
unde quō  vēnī? levis ūna mors est
virginum culpae. vigilānsne plōrō
turpe commissum, an vitiīs carentem
    lūdit imāgo
vāna, quae portā fugiēns eburnā
somnium dūcit? meliusne fluctūs
īre per longōs fuit, an recentıs
    carpere flōrēs?
sī quis infāmem mihi nunc iuvencum
dēdat īrātae, lacerāre ferrō et
frangere ēnītar modo multum amātī
    cornua monstrī.
impudēns līquī patriōs Penātıs,
impudēns Orcum moror. ō deōrum
sī quis haec audīs, utinam inter errem
    nūda leōnes!
antequam turpis maciēs decentıs
occupet mālās teneraeque sūcus
dēfluat praedae, speciōsa quaerō
    pascere tīgrıs.
‘vīlis Eurōpē,’ pater urget absēns:
‘quid morī cessās? potes hāc ab ornō
pendulum zōnā bene tē secūtā 
    laedere collum.
sīve tē rupēs et acūta lētō
saxa dēlectant, age tē procellae
crēde vēlōcī, nisi erile māvīs
    carpere pensum
rēgius sanguis dominaeque trādī
barbarae paelex.’” aderat quaerentī
perfidum rīdēns Venus et remissō
    fīlius arcū.
mox, ubī lū/rīsit satis: “abstinētō”
dīxit “īrārum calidaeque rixae,
cum tibi invīsus laceranda reddet/it
    cornua taurus.
uxor invictī Iovis esse nescis:
mitte singultūs, bene ferre magnam
disce fortūnam; tua sectus orbis
   nōmina dūcet/it.”

:: 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.