Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Right Back at You :: Quid Tibi Vis :: Ep 12

In my last post I described the epode in question as “unusual.” Little do I know. Seems like Horace likes a dirty word or two. I guess we are in for a spate of spice. 

In the last century at least, some scholars were fond of imagining what Horace’s life was like. They would extract lines from his poetry and construct a biography of a man about whom little is really known. For example, they would say he was a gentleman farmer. He liked wine. His friend and patron was Maecenas, etc., etc. It amuses me to think what those scholars took away from today’s epode, or if they dared “go there.”

It is hard to find any good commentary about this epode. The epode is so filled with the smell of two-thousand-year-old sex that I am afraid that the headiness of it has made it difficult to understand not just today but perhaps shortly after it was written. Slamming one’s sexual partner and letting her have her say makes for a potent mix of words. The epode almost has the rawness of a shouting match. And like a shouting match, it is difficult to disentangle what’s being said. Why does Horace think that the woman he is with is most worthy of a black elephant? Is this the only way she can get satisfied? Is this a racial comment? Were Romans a particularly clean people? I mean did they bathe a lot so that body odor was a real sticking point in a relationship? Were there procuresses for women as well as men? 

I don’t have the answers to these questions; so I am appending two interesting commentaries done at the beginning of the Renaissance. One is by a scholar named Antonio Mancellini, who lived between 1452 and 1505 and the other is by a Flemish printer and scholar Jodocus Badius Ascensius (1462–1535). I have transcribed this early printed text to the best of my ability. In the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, printers followed the writing practices of their day, filling their books with the odd abbreviations and conjoined letters of scholars and copyists (examples of which I have put below as well). And since Ascensius was a printer (in Paris), as the title page says, you will see a fair number of arcane letter forms.

Such odd signs served a purpose. They saved space (paper and vellum were expensive). And they saved time (it took days to copy a book). Once printers and editors realized that designing these signs, casting them, and adding extra boxes to the type case wasted time, they began to use fewer and fewer of them. Today only a few survive: &, ¶, and @, not to mention the fast disappearing ff, fi, ffi, fl, etc.  (The funny thing is, today, with text-messaging, abbreviations and shortcuts are back and a sign like @ has taken on a new life.) Here are examples of the signs from the early sixteenth-century book:

It is hard to imagine a printer being a scholar. But in the early days of printing, printers were highly educated. Gutenberg himself knew a fair amount of Latin. So did his partners and the ones who came shortly after him. The division of labor between printer, editor, publisher, and promoter hadn’t yet come about. Often the so-called printer wore all of these hats, especially the itinerant ones who, after some disastrous events in the city of Mainz, where printing had been invented, had fled their apprenticeships and business association with Gutenberg and his one-time partner Fust, setting up printing/publishing shops all over Europe. (Here I will shamelessly put a plug in for two books I did recently:

I will add that the first book was published by a traditional publisher (Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of McMillian) but the second I published. It seems with print-on-demand books we return to the days of Badius. On a small scale, those who have something serious to say have the means thanks to computers with complicated programs for word-processing and book design to publish.)

Now back to Horace and Epode 12. I could say something about each line, even wail and bemoan how each is difficult, but I’ll limit myself to just a few comments.

One indication as to the difficulty of this poem: many of phrases from this epode were cited in the definitions given in Lewis and Short’s Latin dictionary. These are colored blue. An interesting word is barrus (m), which comes from the Sanskrit word for elephant: bhri. Another is the word obesus, which is from obedo (to eat away, lean, meagre). Somewhere along the way it acquired an opposite meaning: fat, explained by Lewis and Short as “that has eaten itself fat.”

In lines 9–11, Horace describes the woman’s make-up after sex:

. . . neque illi
     iam manet umida creta colorque
stercore fucatus crocodili, . . .

. . . and not to her
     now remains wet chalk and the color
tinged with crocodile dung, . . .

Creta  was a kind of white chalk from Crete which the Romans used like make-up. Color stercore crocodili fucatus was a reddish foundation made from, I suppose, Egyptian crocodile dung. Could it be that this last was a sarcastic way to describe a woman’s makeup? Mancellini and Badius (highlighted in blue below) seem to think so and tell us a bit about the gooey stuff. My concern here is not so much the make-up but the meaning of the entire phrase. At first, I thought that her make-up was no longer wet and that it was perhaps cracked. But after reading our two Renaissance scholars, I realized that I had been wrong. The sweat of sex had washed the woman’s make-up away. One can only imagine the thick, white goo, dripping onto Horace.

Another particularly difficult passage begins with line 13. 

vel mea cum saevis agitat fastidia verbis
or else my distaste with savage words she mocks

With this Horace lets the woman have her say. She upbraids Horace for spending more quality time with Inachia. She also has something to say about Lesbia, who must have introduced Horace to her. By lines 16 & 17, for me, the Latin starts to fall apart. The grammar sputters. The words fume. I feel the woman’s ire and, I suppose, exasperation as . . . I try to figure out what Horace is saying. 

. . . . pereat male. quae te
Lesbia quaerenti taurum monstravit inertem,

. . . . let Lesbia perish badly, who 
by asking for a bull showed you inert

Who does Horace want to perish? We don’t know until the next line. What does quae refer to? Is the bull inert or is Horace?

The Delphin ordo ignores the problem, at least the version printed in Rev. Henry Premble’s Quinti Horatii Flacci Opera (Longman etc., 1832). Instead of a paraphrase, what the refined nineteenth-century reader saw was a series of asterisks, (like exploding fireworks?) going down the page. Could it be the same with the original version of the ordo? I mean, did the seventeenth century scholars think this passage too racy for the future French king. Le roi soleil aurait-il rougi?

Fortunately our friends Antonio Mancellini and Jodocus Badius come to the rescue. First Mancellini (if I have interpreted the marginalia correctly) followed by Badius:

 Pereat. ordo est.male pereat lesbia:quae quærenti scilicet, mihi taurus monstravit te inertem. Taurum, id est, virum venereum ac fortem ut taurus est. nam ut philosophus scripsit .liber.v. de animalibus. vaccæ tauros non patiuntur propter rigorem genitalis: nimiamque tentiginem. sed clunibus subsidentibus semen recipiunt genitale. id autem & nos vidimus

(Let [her] perish. The order is: badly let Lesbia perish who showed you, the inert one, to the one asking (to me, of course). A bull, that is, a man sexually active and strong like a bull. For as the philosopher [Aristotle] has written in Book V about animals: cows don’t open up to bulls [unless] because of the hardness of their genitals: beyond measure and full of lust. But when they submit their buttocks to the male, they receive semen from the genital organ. But this even we have seen.)

Pereat lesbia male quae mihi quaerenti taurum, id est, fortem subactorem monstravit te inertem, id est, ignavum & torpentem.

(Let Lesbia perish badly who showed to me asking for a bull, that is, a strong debaucher (Lewis and Short’s translation of subactor), [actually showed] you, an inert person, that is, inactive and listless.)

These two commentaries accord with Niall Rudd’s (in the Loeb Series) translation: 

Damn that woman Lesbia who, when I was looking for a bull, directed me to a passive creature like yourself!

A similar translation is by John M. McMahon in Paralysin Cave: Impotence, Perception, and Text in the Satyrica of Petronius (Brill, 1997):

I wish a horrible death for that Lesbia
     who pointed me to you, limp as you are,
When I was looking for a bull of a man . . .

Ronnie Ancona in Time and the Erotic in Horace’s Odes  (Duke University Press Books, 1994) understands the lines differently:

May Lesbia perish badly who pointed out you, an impotent bull, to me, looking,

There are many other translations I might append here (each one with its own problems and peculiarities), but I will stop. 

I cannot believe that Horace’s lines are in the clearest Latin, but this is all the information that Horace gives us. Okay. It’s poetry, but it looks like I am losing the tug of war between what Horace wants to say and what I need to make sense of what he’s said. Horace has more strength on his side than I do on mine. He knows what he wants to say. I don’t. So, like the other translators before me, I’ll just have to give it my best shot. 

translation ::

What are you after, woman? You really deserve 
a black tusker. What about the gifts? What about 
the wax tablets you send me—no firm, thin-nosed youth?
Because I for one have a keener sense of smell,
(A rank growth or goat lying in your hairy pits?)
than a fierce dog when a female boar’s hiding.
What sweat, what a bad smell comes up everywhere from 
shriveled limbs! Though my “tail”’s gone limp she hurries on 
rabid to subdue an untamable sex drive. 
Now her wet chalk’s gone, along with her foundation—
a crocodile shit color; now in a sow-like 
heat, she ruptures rope beds and canopies over head,
or else with savage words she mocks my disgust:
“You tire less with Inachia than with me.
You can do her thrice a night, with me you’re soft in one 
go. Damn her! That Lesbia, showed idle you 
to me-asking-for-a-bull when I’d have had an 
Amyntas of Cos with his cock in his valiant
crotch, rooted firmer than a new tree in the hills!
Who was the fleece dyed twice with Tyrian purple 
rushed to? To you, that’s who, so there’d be no guest your
equal, no one whose woman loves more than I you.
Oh, I’m not happy, How you run off like a 
frightened she lamb from wild wolves, a doe from lions.”

(translation © 2013 by James Rumford

rabies: madness of love
subo: be in heat (of sows)
cubile: nest, lair, bed, den
tenta: from tendo
agito: mock, blame, insult
fastidium: loathing, squeamishness, disgust
Cos: one of the Sporadic Islands in the Myrtoan Sea
Amyntas: father of the Macedonian king Philip
vellus -velleris n. wool shorn off, fleece
convīva -ae f.: table companion
crēta -ae: chalk from Crete used as makeup

in prose ::

Quid tibi vis, mulier dignissima barrīs nigrīs?
    quid munera, quidve tabellās
mihi (nec iuveni firmō neque naris obesae) mittis?
     namque unus sagacius odoror,
pōlypus gravis an hircus in alīs hirsutīs cubet,
     quam canis acer ubi sus lateat.
qui sudor [m] et odor [m] quam malus undique 
     membrīs vietīs crescit, cum pene solutō,
rabiem indomitam sedare properat, neque illi
     iam creta umida colorque fucatus 
stercore crocodili manet, iamque subandō
     tenta cubilia tectaque rumpit!
vel mea fastidia cum verbīs saevīs agitat:
     Inachiā minus ac me languēs;
Inachiam ter nocte potes, mihi semper ad unum
     opus mollis [es]. Lesbia male pereat, quae,
taurum quaerenti, te inertem monstravit,
     cum Cous Amyntas mihi addesset,
cuius nervus in inguine indomito constantior
     inhaeret quam arbor nova collibus.
cui vellera lanae muricibus Tyriis iteratae
     properabantur? tibi nempe,
ne foret aequalis inter conviva, quem mulier
    sua magis diligeret quam te.
o ego non felix, quam tu fugis ut agna lupos
    acris pavet, capreaeque leones!”

original ode ::
Quid tibi vis, mulier nigris dignissima barris?
     munera quid mihi quidve tabellas
mittis nec firmo iuveni neque naris obesae?
     namque sagacius unus odoror,
polypus an gravis hirsutis cubet hircus in alis,
     quam canis acer ubi lateat sus.
qui sudor vietis et quam malus undique membris
     crescit odor, cum pene soluto
indomitam properat rabiem sedare, neque illi
     iam manet umida creta colorque
stercore fucatus crocodili, iamque subando
     tenta cubilia tectaque rumpit!
vel mea cum saevis agitat fastidia verbis:
     “Inachiā langues minus ac me;
Inachiam ter nocte potes, mihi semper ad unum 
     mollis opus. pereat male, quae te
Lesbia quaerenti taurum monstravit inertem,
     cum mihi Cous adesset Amyntas,
cuius in indomito constantior inguine nervus
     quam nova collibus arbor inhaeret.
muricibus Tyriis iteratae vellera lanae
     cui properabantur? tibi nempe,
ne foret aequalis inter convīva, magis quem
    diligeret mulier sua quam te.
o ego non felix, quam tu fugis ut pavet acris
     agna lupos capreaeque leones!”

Argumentum odes.xij. [Mancinelli?]

     In mulierem & deformem & olentem hic invehitur:quae quidem saepe horatio tum munera tum litteras mittere solebat veneris gratia. Quid tibi vis. ode est similis., id est, elephantis: quorum quidem coitus adversus est: uti & leonum.lyncum.camelorum.tigrium: & rynocerotum. author est Solinus. dicit autem illam elephantis dignam: quantum aversi coeuntes eius deformitatem videre non possent. Tabellas. pugillares triplices intelligit: a tribus scilicet, folijs:qui quidem rebus amatorijs & levioribus serviebant. Martialis li. viti. Tunc triplices nostros non vilia dona putabis. Quum se venturam scribet amica tibi Nec firmo iuveni.erat enim natus annos.L.ut superius ostendit. Neque naris obesæ, id est, crassæ:nam interdum etiam in naribus carunculæ quandam fimiles muliebribus mammis nascuntur. eæque imis partibus qui carnosissimæ sunt inhærent: author est Celsus li.vj.habentes itaque talia odorem ali quem non facile sentiunt. Namque sagacius unus. ordo est. namque unus ego, id est, solus &c. Polypus, id est, caruncula modo alba modo subrubra: qui narium ossi inhæret: & modo ad labra pendes narem implet: modo retro pro id foramen quo spumus a naribus ad faces descendit: adeo increscit uti post uvam conspici possit: strangulatque hominem maxime austro aut euro flante: fereque mollis est: raro dura. Author est Celsus li.vj. Hircus, id est, hirci fœtor:qui sub brachijs esse aliquibus solet ob humorem illuc defulentem: unum Alexander aphodiseus in problematis ait. Cur axilla inter alia loca multo gravissime olet:utrumque spiramentis fere caret: gravis aūt odor in his praecipuus? est propter putredinem quem ibi gignitur ob humiditatis moram:quem nec dimovetur nec exercetur. Philosophus item particula decima problematum scribit. cur alæ omnium maxime partium nostri corporis male olent. Utrumque omnium minime respirare possunt:malus autem odor locis huiusmodi contrahi maxime solet:qm putredo quiete interioris qualitatis consistit:an ideoque immobiles inexercitatæque habentur. Scribit etiam ibidem cur homines qui virus redolent fœdius quam hirci oleant quum se odorifice unguentarint: an hoc in multis accidere solet:velut cum acido dulce commixtum est dulcius totum exultat. tum etiam omnes postquam sudarunt gravius olent: unguentum autem concalefaciendi vim habet itaque sudorem potest provocare. Vietis membus, id est, sanguidis: sine vi & naturalibus privatis viribus. quod Festus edocet. Soluto pene. emisso virili semine. Penem enim caudam vocabant: inquit festus a pendendo quidem. Humida creta erat in medicamibus & chia terra candicans. usus ad mulierum maxime curem lactei? coloris est hæc. author xxv. Humida ob coitus sudrorem. Phucatus. Φυκος color dicitur latine phucum dicunt  verso υ græco in u. Stercore cro. e crocodillo vita in aqua terraque cōis. Duo autem sunt erorum genera:aliquis multum infra magintudinem in terra tantum odoratissimisque floribus vivitur ob id intestina eius diligenter exquiruntur iucundo nidore refracta crocodileam vocant oculorum vitijs utilissima cum porrisucco iunctam: & contra suffossiones vel caligines. illita quoque ex oleo cyprino molestias in facie enascentes tollit. Ex qua vero morbos omnes quorum natura serpit in facie nitorem que reddit. lentigines tollit. ac varos omnesque maculas. Author Ply. lib. xxviij Subando subagitando. est enim a suibus tractum:quum libidinem provocant. Tenta strata. Tecta linteis ac culcitra. Vel me quum ordo est. vel quam malus odor undique crescat vietis membris: quum sævis verbis agitat mea fastidia. Inachia Ia. verba sunt illius anus ad Horatium. Ac me, id est,quam me. unum coitum. Pereat. ordo est.male pereat lesbia:quae quærenti scilicet, mihi taurus monstravit te inertem. Taurum, id est, virum venereum ac fortem ut taurus est. nam ut philosophus scripsit .liber.v. de animalibus. vaccæ tauros non patiuntur propter rigorem genitalis: nimiamque tentiginem. sed clunibus? subsidentibus semen recipiunt genitale. id autem & nos vidimus. Chous. chos insula est in carta: ut scri. mela. Strabo li.x. inter cycladas numerat. li. autem xiiij. docet & insulam & urbem chon appelantam. urbs vero non magna est sed optime omnium habitata & aspectu iocundissima: his qui eo navigant. insulae magnitudo est ad. ccccc.&.i stadia:tota fertilis. & quemadmodum Chius & lesbus optimo vino abundans: viri choi illustres fuerunt hippocrates. item Simus medicus phyletas poeta simul ac iudicialis nycias: qui chorum tyrannus fuit & ariston: hinc fuit Thenomestus vir clarus in administranda repu. nyciae aemulus. Iteratae, id est, de purpura dibapha, id est, bis tincta intelligit: de qua latius in odis. tibi horatio scilicet, Mulier volebat enim horatium purpura ornare ita optima ut inter convivas aequales etiam ab alienis uxoribus magis diligeretur.

[Badius?] Quid tibi vis. Petulanter petulantem anum carpit dicens. O mulier dignissima barrhis, id est, elephantibus nigris (sunt enim omnes nigri. unum de ipsis primum dictum est. It nigrum campis agmen coeunt autme averse. unde ab illius fetore & obscœnitate minus offenderentur:quocirca illam ipsis dignam argute censet) quid vis tibi? id est quid pretendis? cur mittis mihi munera:ve pro vel quid, id est, ad quid mittis mihi nec iuueni firmo id est satis potenti ad libidinem tuam explendam: neque naris obesæ, id est, occlusæ & punguis seu crassæ: hoc est neque habenti narem obtusam & occlusam ita ut parum olfaciam. obesum pro pingui etiam apud maronem? legunt illic: obesaque terga.aut obesæ, id est, circumeiae? aut circumrosæ naris ita ut virtus odoratiua perierit. dicit ergo cur mittis mihi neque te exatura re neque fetorem tuum sufferre valenti munera & tabellas, id est, triplices pugillares in quibus amores & res amatoriæ inscribebantur. Docens etiam se non obesæ naris addit. Namque ego unus id est solus: odoror, id est, olfacio (pro quo vulgarius dicitur odoro) sagacius, id est, maiore sagacitate & peritia nasi (Nam sagacitas nasi est: unum plautus sagax nasum habes) an plupus sup. sit cãfetoris? in naso: Est autem ut mancinelius recitat caruncula quandã putida in naso. An hircus, id est, hircinus fetor gravis, id est, molestus & difficulter tolerabilis: cubet, id est, quiete maneat (Alludit autem ad cubilia hircorum quae fetidissima sunt) in alis, id est, sub axillis: hirsutis, id est, pilosis.sagacius dicit quam canis acer, id est, strenuo olfactu: sup. odoratur aut sentit:ubi lateat sus, id est, aper (Posset dici ubi lateat sus acer:sed plus roboris est dicendo canis acer ut se vel acri cani proferat) Odoror etiam sagacius: quas?.id est, qualis sudor & quam, id est, quantum malus odor crescat undique membris vietis, id est, flaccidis & vetustate languentibus. cum, id est, qñ?: mulier fetida: properat sedare rabiem indomitam, scilicet, libidinis: pene, id est, cauda virili:soluto scilicet, ab intentignine emisso semine: aut soluto e subligaculus: Nec creta humida, id est, chia terra creti coloris: manet illi scilicet,  vetulae: quia sudore & anhelitu resolvitur. iam scilicet, in coitu: & color phucatus, id est,  phuco & adulterino colore quaesitus: stercore, id est, oleto: crocodilli illius animalis in aegypto frequentis: & ipsa anus rumpit iam subando, id est, subendo more suum diuturno coitu:cubilia tenta, id est, strata & tecta, id est, cooperta tapetis aut lineis cooperimentis. Vel quum vetula illa (Mutavit aūt personam. nam a secunda ad tertiam transivit) agitat, id est, movet mea fastidia, id est, quibus eam fastidio & contenno?: verbis saevis, id est, superbis dicendo scilicet, o horati: tu langues minus inachia, id est, minus fatigatis subagitando inachiam: ac, id est, quam me. tu potes ter nocte scilicet, una inachiam sup. cognoscere aut (ut honor sit oneribus) futuere:quod ex more subticuit sicut comicimiles ego eunuchum illum vel sobrius. Tu autem ( es mihi semper mollis, id est, languens & impotens: ad unum opus scilicet, veneris. Pereat lesbia male quae mihi quaerenti taurum, id est,  fortem subactorem monstravit te inertem, id est,  ignavum & torpentem. Praecipue cum amuntas chous: ex cho insula iuvenis:addesset, id est, praesto esset mihi: cuius nervuus, id est, mentula: inhaeret constantior in inguine, id est, membro muliebri: indomito, id est,  indomabili & semper prurienti: quam nova arbor inhaeret collibus. Cui putas o gratis a te stuprum quaesisse dicat (unde prius munera cur mihi) vellera lanae iteratae, id est, bis tinctae: muricibus, id est, purpuris tyrijs: properabantur, id est, cito parabantur. Nempe, id est, si nescis certe sup. properabantur: tibi. Ne conuiua foret interaequalis, id est, coaevos sodales: quem sua, id est, propria mulier, id est, amica aut potius uxor:diligeret magis quam super ego te. O ego levis, id est, inconstans & imprudens:quam tu fugis: ut agna pavet, id est, pavore fugit lupos acris: aut ut caprae sup. pavent leones.

:: 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.