Friday, September 27, 2013

No Kick from Champagne :: Petti, Nihil Me Sicut :: Ep. 11

I get no kick from champagne.
Mere alcohol doesn’t thrill me at all.
So tell me why should it be true
That I get a kick out of you?

Was there a Frankus Sinatrus in Horace’s time to croon the lines from today’s epode? We’ll never know. Roman cabarets closed long ago.

In this epode, Horace tells us he used to enjoy writing love poetry, but this time it’s different, so he wants us to believe. This time Horace is wrapped up with some snotty boy named Lyciscus, presumably with girlishly long hair. I suppose we might mention here the title of the musical that gave us “no kick from champagne”: “Anything Goes.”

Yes, anything goes chez Horace, chez le vieux roué, but he knows better. Horace vows to take a new path even though he knows that that path like all the ones he’s traveled on before will lead him back to the same place. Because of the orbits of love and sex, regret and hate, bitterness and sweetness that go whizzing round us—I suppose we must leave Cole Porter’s simple comparisons between the effect of champagne and the taste of love. Horace’s lines are far more complicated. 

In fact, I’d say that, far from being a love poem, these lines are a bitter comment on man’s lot.  Had Horace been a Buddhist, he might have mentioned the folly of earthly desire. But since he was not, his only remedy to suffering is more pain and suffering disguised in the form of another girl or another boy. Horace is caught in a web of lust. Although he might act as if he has come to his senses, crying his eyes out to his friend Pettius, it is, we see, just an act. Before he knows it, he’s back on the doorstep of love, begging admittance.

And who was this Pettius? We don’t know. Likewise, the names of a past love Inachia and the object of his present desire Lyciscus are unknown. Real people? Maybe not. More than likely, just symbols, metaphorical putty in the poet’s hands. 

As you read the original, observe the repeated words, candidum ingenium and puellae candidae, libera bilis and libera consilia; the words of passion: expetit, calentis, fervidiore, inaestuet; and the false logic of nil and nihil.  There is also a rare verbal form of promoveratpromorat and a rare form of quibusquis. Below is the seventeenth century rephrasing done for the dauphin of France as well as, and, if you can take the weird spelling, the sixteenth-century scholarly cogitations of Mancinelli. Both are worth a good look.

Before all of this, here are some photos my wife Carol took when we were in Italy two weeks ago. They are of the ruins of Horace’s villa….at least the reputed ruins. Argued about for centuries, these ruins have, by a series of scholarly triangulations been fairly solidly verified as the farm Horace, often talked about in his work. The County of Licenza (pronounced in the dialect of the Sabine hills as Lishennnza), has undertaken to erect a visitors’ center. Too bad. For now, it is a beautifully quiet spot where I swear I saw the ivy, the verbena, the chicory, Horace once planted.

The Visitors' Center under construction (Sept. 2013) and the architect's drawing.

Below, the hilltop town of Licenza, built in the Middle Ages.

translation ::

Pettius, I get no kick like I did before
writing bits of verse, knocked flat by love
serious love, wanting more than anything
to be consumed in soft boys, in girls too.
This third December (of my ending it 
with Inachia) is shedding its beauty in the forests.
Ah me! I’m ashamed of so much!
How I was the talk throughout Rome!
It pains me, the parties where my idleness
my silence and sighs from deep inside
gave me the lover away. “Is there nothing
the shining qualities of a poor man can do
against the lucered?” I’d wail to you in tears,
once the god of shamelessness pulled the secrets 
out of me fired-up by hotter wine.
“But if anger unchecked heats my belly 
so I scatter to the winds the useless whining—  
poultices that draw no poison from my wound— 
then my self decency, swept away,
cannot compete with those not my equal.”
After I dead-serious had said this to your face,
though ordered home, I took myself on unsure feet
to a door—ah—not a friendly one and—oh
the hard threshold, where hip and side I bruised!
Now a love for Lyciscus, bragging he’s won over 
some servant girl with his softness, has hold of me,
a hold from which neither the frank advice of friends 
nor serious condemnation can free me,
only the ardor for another, be that some dazzling lass 
or some well-formed boy, tying up his long hair.

{Translation © 2013 by James Rumford]

In Prose ::

[O] Petti, nihil me iuvat sicut antea versiculos scribere—[me] amore gravi percussum, amore qui me prater omnis expetit in pueris mollibus aut in puellis urere.

Hic tertius December, ex quo destiti Inachiā furere, honorem [ex] silvis decutit.

Heu me! Nam tanti mali [me] pudet— quanta fabula per Urbem fui! Et [me] paenitet conviviorum in qui[bu]s ‹languor et silentium et spiritus latere imo petitus› [me] amantem arguit.

“Contrane lucrum ingenium candidum pauperis nil valere?” [ego] applorans, tibi querebar, simul [ac] deus inverecundus ‹arcana calentis› ex loco mero fervidiore promo[ve]rat. “Quodsi bilis libera praecordiis meis inaestuet, ut fomenta ingrata, vulnus malum [meum] nil levantia,ventis dividam, pudor summotus [meus me] desinet imparibus certare.”

Ubi [ego] severus haec te palam laudaveram, iussus [sum] domum abire, ad postıs mihi non amicos—heu!—pede incerto ferebar et—heu—[ad] limina dura, [in] quibus lumbos et latus infregi.

Nunc amor Lyisci ‹gloriantis mollitie quamlibet mulierculam vincere› me tenet, unde consilia libera amicorum [meorum] [me] expedire non queant, nec contumeliae graves [me expediant], sed ardor alius—aut [pudor] puellae candidae aut [pudor] pueri teretis comam longam renodantis.

original epode ::

[The undotted i in -ıs is the poetic ending for -es, v. infra postıs

Petti, nihil me sicut antea iuvat 

     scribere versiculos amore percussum gravi
amore, qui me praeter omnis expetit

     mollibus in puerīs aut in puellīs urere.

hic tertius December, ex quo destiti*  *dēsisto

     Inachiā furere, silvis honorem dēcutit.
heu me, per Urbem—nam pudet tanti mali—

     fabula quanta fui! conviviorum et paenitet,

in quīs amantem languor et silentium  

     arguit et latere petitus imo spiritus.  

“contrane lucrum nil valere candidum

     pauperis ingenium querebar applorans tibi,

simul calentis inverecundus deus [Bacchus]

     fervidiore mero arcana promorat loco.

“quodsi meis inaestuet praecordiis

     libera bilis, ut haec ingrata ventis dividam

fomenta vulnus nil malum levantia, 

     desinet imparibus certare summotus pudor.”

ubi haec severus te palam laudaveram,

     iussus abire domum ferebar incerto pede

ad non amicos heu mihi postıs et heu 

     limina dura, quibus lumbos et infregi latus.

nunc gloriantis quamlibet mulierculamt

    vincere mollitie amore Lycisci me tenet,

unde expedire non amicorum queant

     libera consilia nec contumeliae graves,

sed alius ardor aut puellae candidae

     aut teretis pueri longam renodantis comam.

For the Dauphin [1670s] ::

O Petti, nequaquam placet ut prius, versus facere, quia amore gravi occupor; amore, qui me præ cunctis incendere cupit erga teneros pueros vel puellas. Hic tertius December spoliat arbores foliis, ex quo desii deperire Inachiam. Heu me, quanta fui fabula per urbem! (Nam pude me tanti mali) pœnitet etiam conviviorum, in quibus amans declarat se languore, taciturnitate, et suspiriis è profundo pectore deductis! Tum verò simul ac ardente vino incalueram, et numen pudore carens secreta mea  dmoverat loco suo; ego flens apud te conquerebar, quòd sincera mens pauperis non prævaleret quæstui. Addebam porrò: Quòd si libera indignatio cor meum inflammet, ut in auras dissipet molesta hæc pabula nequaquam sublevantia dolorem improbium; protinus abjecta verecundia cessabit pugnare adversus inæquales. At postquam ista coram te graviter statueram, accepto mandato discedendi in ædes meas, dubio gressu ibam ad fores eheu mihi non propitias et dura eheu vestbula, in quibus rupi lumbos et latus. Jam me occupat amor Lycisci gloriantis omnem fœminam superare mollitiâ: Quo me exsolvere non possint sincera amicorum monita vel objurgationes acerbæ; sed tantum  alius amor, sive adolescentulæ speciosæ, sive rotunduli pueri prolixos capillos nodo colligentis.

 Mancinelli’s comments [i. = id est    s. = sum   q. = qui   d. = de] ::

Pecti. Pectio amico familiari amores suos fatetur satis inverecunde dicens. o pecti scribere versiculos nihil iuvat sicut antea me percussum amore graut [sic].i.tycilti? pueri: amore (repetit) q expetit.ipersequitur & excruciat me praeter.i.super omnes.s.alios amatores: urere aut in pueris mollibus aut in puellis hic.i.prosens? december tertitius exquo.i.postquam destiti.i.desij furere inachia.i.amore inachiae puellae: decuiti  silvis honorem.i.frondes.i.iam tertia agitur hyems postquam dereliqui inachiam: heu me quanta fabula fui per urbem: cum.s.furerem amore inachiae.q.d.quod dico. Nam pudet tanti mali & pœnitet conuitriorum: in quis i. in quibus languor & silentium.i.que in convivijs languens amore silerem: & spūs.i.anhelitus meus petitus i.attractus: imo.i.profundo latere: arguit.i.evidenti argumento probavit amantem. Et querebar.s.tibi & alijs applorans iuvenium pauperis.s.poetae: nil valere contra lucrum candidum.i.avaritiam quae meretricibus candida videtur: applorans dicit simil.i.statim ut.i.postquam deus inverecundus.i.cupido vel potius eius provocator bacchus ? modicus: promotat.i.promoverat loco.i.statione sua. mero fervidiore.i.acri vino. arcana.s.mea.i.intima praecordia calentis.i.ardentis amore. Que? sibilis libera.i.stomachatio & indignatio vera inaestuet meis ad veram iram compulerit sicut tunc simulabam iratum: ita ut dividat? id est dispergat ventis haec fomenta?.i.medicamenta ingrata.i.has querimonias inutiles:quia nil allevantia.i.imminuètia vulnus.s.amoris:malum.i.perniciosum.pudor submotus.i.iqui nunc clanculum ame amotus est: desinet certare imparibus.i.potioribus.i.non amplius victus cedet: sed vincet. Ubi ego severus.i.tanquam severus: hoc est rigide sequens verum laudaveram haec.i.huiusmodi propostitum palam.i.coram te: aut te conscio? ego iussus.s.a te: abire domum: ferebar pede incerto.i.titubante: ad postes heu mihi non ostia inachiæ & heu ad limina dura: ut pote quibus infregi lumbo: & latus meum: cum neque lachrymis neque precibus cederent. amor lycisci pueri gloriantis vincere mollicia quamlibet mulierculam tenet nunc me: unum.i. a quo libera consilia amicorus nec graves contumeliae amicorus: non quaeant expedire.i.solvere me: sed ardor.i.fervens amor alius puellae candidae aut pueri teretis.i.proceri: renidentis?.i.religantis longam.i.prolixam comam.

:: 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.