Monday, December 31, 2012

Naa Naa Na Naa Naa :: Lupus et Agnis :: Epode IV

These nasty little epodes of Horace’s got me thinking. It is said that the iambic meter Horace used evoked in the Roman mind a kind of taunt. I wonder, was this a bit like our childish song that runs something like this?

naaa naaa na naaa naaa na na na na naaa naaa-aaaa

Surprisingly, you can almost fit this to today’s ode. Take the first line: lupis et agnis quanta sortito obtigit:

naaa  naaa na  naaa naaa    na  na na na  naaa   naaa-aaaa
luuu  piiis  et  aaag  niiis  quan ta sor ti  tooob  tiiigiiiiit

Of course, this is nonsense, since I have made a long syllable like quan short and a short syllable like ti in obtigit long. Be that as it may, I had fun sing-songing this ode as a childish taunt.

And taunt it is. Just read it. Obviously Horace can’t stand the guy for putting on airs when he is no better than a convict who is used to the triumvirate whip, that is, the magristrate’s whip. It galled Horace that this fellow had a Falernian farm, which was located in northern Campania, not far from Rome. (Falernum produced some of the best wines, which Horace has often mentioned). And it galled Horace that this lowlife would sit in the best theater seats in direct violation of a law laid down by Emperor Otho in 67 B.C.

Before I end this, I have a few nit-picky things to say about style. Suppose I were Horace’s Latin teacher and he had submitted this for homework. I guess I’d give him a B- (I’m pretty tough). Just look at the verb in line 16: sedet. It is too close in sound to sedilibus. Couldn’t he have chosen a verb that would further describe this fellow’s arrogance?  And in line 17, gravi does go with pondere, but aren’t all ponderous things heavy? Perhaps this is why in Niall Rudd’s translation, he gave pondere the meaning “ram.” I almost like the huc huc of line 9 and the hoc hoc of line 20, but doesn’t this seem a bit too high-schoolish? Besides, Horace doesn’t often repeat words like this. Is this repetition him sputtering? Maybe anger and disgust got the better of our poet. Better luck next epode, Flacce. 


translation ::

Like the wolf and the lamb, it is fated:
   you and I can’t get along,
with your sides scorched by Iberian ropes,
   your legs rough from shackles.
You presume to walk around money proud—
   wealth doesn’t change your type—
See yourself sailing down Via Sacra
   in a toga six ells long,
as the heads of passersby turn here and there
   in open indignation?
“That one, cut by the triumvirate whip
   till the crier was sickened,
plows a thousand acre farm and with horses  
   wears the Appian away;
a big knight, he sits on the first benches
   in contempt of Otho.
What’s the good of so many ships, with carved
   beaks, heavy rams, being led
against pirates and bands of slaves by this—
   this military tribune?”
translation © 2012 by James Rumford

in prose ::

Quanta lupis et agnis sortito obtigit,
   [tanta] discordia mihi tecum est,
latus funibus Hibericis peruste 
   et crura dura compede.
licet superbus pecunia ambules,
   fortuna genus non mutat.
videsne te Viam Sacram metiente
   cum toga bis trium ulnarum
ut ora huc vertat et indignatio
   liberrima huc euntium?
“hic, flagellis triumviralibus ad
   fastidium praeconis sectus,
mille iugera fundi Falerni arat
   et Appiam mannis terit,
equesque magnus in sedilibus primis,
   Othone contempto, sedet.
quid attinet tot ora rostrata navium
   pondere gravi duci
contra  latrones atque manum sevilem,
   hoc, hoc tribuno militum?” 

original ::

Lupis et agnis quanta sortito obtigit
   tecum mihi discordia est,
Hibericis peruste funibus latus
   et crura dura compede.
licet superbus ambules pecunia,
   fortuna non mutat genus.
videsne, Sacram metiente te Viam
   cum bis trium ulnarum toga,
ut ora vertat huc et huc euntium
   liberrimus indignatio?
“sectus flagellis hic triumviralibus
   praeconis ad fastidium
arat Falerni mille fermi iugera
   et Appiam mannis terit,
sedilibusque magnus in primis eques
   Othone contempto sedet.
quid attinet tot ora navium gravi
   rostrata duci pondere
contra latrones atque servilem manum,
   hoc, hoc tribuno militum?”


:: 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.