Friday, October 10, 2014

The Roman Ear :: Quando Repostum Caecubum :: Epode 9

Get out your history books on Rome. Dust them off and read of Rome’s victories: the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra at Actium, the triumph over Pompey, the capture of the Libyan Jugurtha, and the destruction of Carthage. Of course, if this were two thousand years ago, I’d be asking you to dust off an amphora of delicious Caecuban wine—famous in the first century BC but made no more—to celebrate! 

In this short poem (actually a sequel to Epode I), Horace hails Caesar Augustus’ victory at Actium over Mark Antony and Cleopatra, describing Antony as emancipatus feminae, a man who sold himself to a woman. Horace symbolizes their unsavory liaison in two words: turpe conopium: ‘a vile mosquito net’ as if to suggest the two make love amidst their troops behind a see-through, gauze-like curtain. 

[ The Battle of Actium, Neroccio de'Landi & his workshop, 1475–1480 ]

Horace does such a good job describing certain events at Actium that many believe that Horace witnessed the battle. Horace tells how Antony’s ships were situated in the harbor and how the Galatians (the same people St. Paul wrote to) deserted Antony for Augustus. He even talks of seasickness and asks Maecenas, his patron, “When will we drink to this victory?” Did that mean, when we get back? While it is interesting to imagine a thin (my take) poet of a man ‘embedded’ in the forces of Caesar Augustus, there is no hard evidence to prove that he was there.

There is so much to say about this short poem: the battles, the personages, the Egyptiany word conopium, etc., etc. Nevertheless, I am going to limit myself to perhaps the most trivial of observations: vertērunt is read verterunt in this passage:

at huc frementes verterunt bis mille equos
But here they turned two thousand whinnying horses

Why verterunt instead of vertērunt? The simple answer is that the meter demands it:

at hūc fremēntēs vērterūnt bīs mīll’equōs

The complicated answer is, well, complicated. Most scholars say that Horace can turn vertērunt into verterunt because that is the way the word was pronounced in the olden days. How lame is that?  What did they mean ‘olden days’? What did archaic Latin sound like? Why did the vowels change? Were there other changes I should be aware of? Why would Horace know these older forms? Were these forms still used in reciting ancient songs? Did using such an older form make his poem sound as pretentious as the use of ’twas or ‘twere? would in modern English poetry? To answer this, I had to delve into some rather old dusty books.

So, how did the early Romans say verterunt? According to Wallace Martin Lindsay (The Latin Language, 1894, pg. 531), they said both -ērunt and -erunt. Not very helpful. Equally unhelpful to me were further examples which he drew from the netherworld of Old Indian. Old Indian and Sanskrit were the favorite hunting grounds of 19th-century scholars, for Sanskrit was, until the decipherment and classification of Hittite was achieved in the first quarter of the 20th century, the oldest written Indo-European language. Old Indian and Sanskrit afforded scholars a glimpse of the language spoken by a small tribe of individuals who would later spread out over Europe, Central Asia, and the Indian Subcontinent. 

So, not wanting to go that route, I turned to Wikipedia, which told me that in Old Latin, -eront or -erom became the classical -ērunt. The old forms are proven by Latin inscriptions, and recreated by scholars based on other early Indo-European languages such as Greek and Italic dialects such as Oscan and Umbrian. 

Oscan and Umbrian sound a heck of a lot closer to Latin than Old Indian. What do these two Italic dialects say about the third person plural perfect form? Not very much, as far as I could tell looking through the few grammar books at the University of Hawai‘i library. 

I did find a bit more about -ērunt/-erunt in a marvelous little book on poetry written in 1922 by the same Dr. Lindsay mentioned above. This book was entitled Early Latin Verse. On page 181, Lindsay writes that the relation between the two forms is obscure. He adds that -erunt (from an earlier -isont) blended with another third person plural verb ending, -ēre, to produce -ērunt

Mīlitēs equōs vertēre /Mīlitēs equōs vertērunt. 

As to what effect the old-fashioned -erunt had on Horace’s listeners is anyone’s guess…and my guess is that it sounded Plautine—reminiscent of that great playwright’s style. I suppose -erunt would have had the same effect as a Shakespearian “spake” would have bristling in the midst of a modern poem.

Gosh! To think that the length of a vowel meant that much to the Roman ear!

I do have to say, however, that I sure hope that Horace didn’t goof up. I mean, did he ignore the meter? I didn’t see enough examples of the Old Latin form being used by other Augustine authors. In fact, I didn’t find any examples. Oh well. All is not lost. I did learn something about antique Latinity.

Translation ::

[I decided after much thought to turn lines 27–32 into questions, ignoring the punctuation suggested by 500 years of editors!]

When will I, happy with 
Caesar the victor, drink 
Caecuban stored for feasts 
with you, blessed Maecenas,
so welcoming to Jove,
at your lofty palace, 
the lyre playing a song 
mixed with the flutes, the lyre 
Doric, the flutes foreign,
as when, not long ago,
Neptune’s lord, driven from 
the sea, fled his burned ships,
having threatened Rome with 
the chains which he, 
friend to lying slaves, 
had pulled off of them.

Hell!  Antony,
having sold out to Cleopatra
a woman,
(you coming after 
will deny it!), 
is a Roman soldier.
He carries 
wall-stakes and weapons 
yet is capable of serving 
Cleo’s shriveled eunuchs, 
while the sun god 
looks down upon, 
in amongst the military insignia,  
their dirty little mosquito net.

But then, two thousand Gauls,
singing of Caesar,
turned their horses away,
snorting their anger,
and the sterns of their enemy ships,
having been chased to the left,
are hiding in port.

Are you delaying
[the triumphal parade],
the golden chariots
and the unyoked bulls?
No such leader 
did you bring back
from the Jugurthine War,
no Africanus 
for whom Valor built 
a sepulchre 
over Carthage!

Defeated on land and sea,
has our foe exchanged
a purple for a mourning cloak?
Or is he about to go 
to Crete, famous 
for a hundred cities,
on winds not his own?
Or does he head 
for the Syrtes,
vexed by south winds?
Or is he being carried away 
on an uncertain sea?

Bring bigger cups, boy,
and wines from Chia and Lesbos.
Or measure us out 
some Caecuban
to hold in the seasickness.
Worry and fear over
Caesar’s affairs—
it’s a joy to let go
with sweet Bacchus. 

translation © 2014 by James Rumford

Original Epode
    Rewritten in Prose
        DDelphin Ordo

Quando repostum Caecubum ad festās dapēs
     victōre laetus Caesare
     Quando [ego,] Caesare victōre laetus, 
     ‹Caecubum ad dapēs festās repos[i]tum› 
        DEcquando vinum Cæcubum ad solemnes epulas 
        reservatum, lætus ego ob victoriam Augusti, 
             Caecubum: Nomen vini aestimati quod, dicitur, album erat. 
                 Vinum in Agris Pomptinis apud Amyclas (hodie apud 
                 Terracina) producebatur.
             victore: hic victor est Caesar Augustus, qui habuit victoriam 
                 de Antonio et Cleopatra.

tecum sub altā—sīc Iovi grātum—domō,
     beate Maecēnas, bibam
     sub domō altā tecum, [o] beate Maecenas—
     sīc grātum Iovi—
        Dpotabo tecum, O felix Mæcenas, in æaedibus 
        magnificis, canente cum fistulis citharâ,  
              sic Iovi gratum: Helenius Acro dicit Iovem auctorem 
                  esse victoriae.

sonante mixtum tībiīs carmen lyrā,
     hāc Dōrium, illīs barbarum,
     lyrā carmen tibiīs mixtum sonante—
    hāc [lyrā] Dōrium [est], illīs [tībiīs] barbarum—
        Dhâc Dorium modum, illis Phrygium? Sanè 
        ita placet Jovi. 
               Dorium: Secundum Acronem, unum ex septem 
                   nominibus sonorum.
              barbarum: Phrygum Asiae Minoris. Secundum 
                   Acronem unum ex septem nominibus sonorum 
                   et unum ex tribus musicae generibus.

ut nūper, actus cum fretō Neptūnius
     dux fūgit ustīs navibus,
     ut nūper, cum dux Neptūnius, navibus 
     ustīs, [ex] fretō actis, fūgit—
        DHaud jam pridem sic fecimus, quando 
        Neptunius Imperator freto Siculo pulsus 
        fugam arripuit, 
               Neptunius dux: Sextus Pompeius, qui ab Agrippa in
                    anno 36 a.C.n. apud Naulochum (urbem in 
                    litore septentrionali Siciliae) superatus est et ex 
                    mari (freto) actus. Horatius irridet Pompeio, qui 
                    se ducem Neptunium appellabat. 

minātus Urbi vincla, quae dētraxerat
     ‹servīs amīcus› pérfidis?
     [quī] urbi vincla, quae [ille] amīcus 
     servīs perfidīs dētraxerat, minātus erat.
        Dpost incensas naves; minatus vicivus injicere 
        catenas, quas detraxerat servis infidelibus. 
                servis amicus perfidis: in tempore belli Siciliani (37-36 
                    a.C.n.), Pompeius servos (erga dominos priores 
                    perfidos) ad arma vocavit.

Rōmānus, ēheu,—posterī nēgabitis—
     ēmancipātus feminae
     Mīles Rōmānus, ēheu,—[vos] posterī 
     nēgabitis—feminae ēmancipātus, 
        Romanus (eheu nepotes haud credetis) mulieris 
        factus manciaium, miles portat 
              Romanus: id est, Antonius et milites sui
              emancipatus feminae: feminae datus, id est, sub 
                  dominatione Cleopatrae.

fert vallum et arma mīles et spadōnibus
     servire rūgosīs potest, eunuchs, wrinkly
     vallum et arma fert et spadōnibus 
     rūgosīs servire potest,
        Dpalum atque arma, nec erubescit servire 
        eunuchis rugosis. 
               spadonibus: eunuchis, castratis; circum Cleopatram 
                   erant multi castrati. Horatius de spadonibus 
                   Cleopatrae scribit in carmine I:37:7ff: regina . . . 
                   contaminato cum grege turpium morbo virorum 
                   (id est: regina cum grege contaminato [ab]
                   morbo virorum turpium).

interque signa turpe mīlitaria
     sol aspicit cōnōpium. mosq. net, canopy
     solque signa mīlitaria inter 
     cōnōpium turpe aspicit.
        DInterque vexilla bellica (proh fœdam rem!). 
        Sol videt conopium. 
              sol: credo solem esse deum solis Aegyptiorum: Ra
              conopium: conopeum, genus retis (net) contra culices 
                  (mosquitos, gnats). Atque κουνούπι significat culex. 
                  Dicitur ‘canopy’ verbi originem esse. Ex nomine 
                  civis Canopi quae in litore Aegyptae apud 
                  Alexandrinam erat. Hodie ruinae Canopi sunt apud 
                  Abu Qir (ابو قیر). Canopus erat nomen navis magistri 
                  Regis Menelai qui mortuus est ibique sepultus. 
                  Canopus, in tempore Horatii, civis turpis erat. 

at huc frementēs / verterunt bis mille equōs
     Galli, canentēs Caesarem, groaning
     At huc Gallī, Caesarem canentēs, 
     bis mille equōs frementēs verterunt, 
        DAd hoc Spectaculum Galli indignantes, 
        Augustum inclamando, converterunt 
        duo millia equorum; 
               at huc: vel ad hoc vel at hunc
              frementes: stridentes, irati hinnentes
              verterunt: non vertērunt. In vetere linguā Latinā, 
                  duae formae huius temporis preteriti erant: 
                  -erunt cum e brevi et -ērunt cum ē longo. 
                  Propter metrum (quod est iambicum), formā 
                  antiquā utitur Horatius. Syllabas longas in hoc 
                  colore scripsi: a; breves a. (mille equos legitur 
             Galli: Gallograeci, Galatae. Ante proelium Actii 
                 (anno 31 a.C.n.), Amyntas, rex Gallograecorum 
                 (Galatarum) in Phrygia colentium, factionem 
                 Antonii reliquit et ad Caesarem iit.
hostilliumque navium portū latent
     puppēs sinistrorsum citae.
     puppēsque navium hostilium
     sinistrorsum citae, [in] portū latent.
        Det puppes navium hostium ad sinistram 
        fugientes in portu delitescunt. 
               citae: (ex cieo) motae, actae. In proelio Actii, naves 
                 Antonii portum relinquere non potuerunt quod 
                 naves Octavii (Augusti) portum intercludebant. 
                 ‘Puppes sinistrorsum citae’ significat aut posteriores 
                 partes navium vel naves sinistram versus actae. 
                Antonius sciebat se victorem prolii non futurum; 
                igitur in portu latebat, occasionem aucupans cum 
                Cleopatra fugendi. 

iō Triumphe, tū moraris aureōs
     currūs et intactās bovēs?
     Iō Triumphe, tū currūs aureōs 
     et bovēs intactās morāris?
        DIo triumphe, tu retardas auratos 
        currus et juvencas integras. 
               intactas boves: [secundum Ludovicum Dezprez] “vel 
                  tauri vel jugo nondum subditas immolabat.”

iō Triumphe, nec Iugurthīnō parem
     bellō reportāstī ducem,
     Iō Triumphe, [tū] nec ducem parem 
     ex bellō Iugurthīnō reportā[va]stī,
        DIo triumphe, non revexisti Imperatorem 
        talem seu in bello Jugurthino, 
               Iugurthino: Iugurtha erat successor Micipsae, regis 
                   Numidiae. Bellum Iugurthinum (113-106 a.
                   C.n.)erat bellum longum in quo Romani 
                   Iugurtham et copias eius vicerunt.
               parem ducem: Africanum, vide infra.

neque Africānum, cui super Carthāginem
     virtūs sepulcrum condidit.
     neque Africānum, cui [erat] virtūs 
     [quae] sepulcrum super Carthāginem condidit.
        Dseu in Africano eum cui sua virtus 
        tumulum erexit super Carthaginem. 
              Africanum: est Publius Cornelius Scipio iunior, qui 
                  ob magnam victoriam de Hannibale “Africanus” 
                  appellatus est.

terrā marique victus hostis pūnicō scarlet
     lūgubre mūtāvit sagum. cloak
     Hostis, terrā marique victus, 
     sagum lūgubre pūnicō mūtāvit.
        DHostis superatus in terrâ et mari 
        sagulum purpureum mutavit lugubre. 
               victus: id est Antonius
               punico: purpureo, rubri
               mutavit: sagum lugubre [sago] punico mutavit = 
                    in sagum lugubre ex sago punico mutavit. 
                    Verbum muto plures sensus habet: change, 
                    alter, improve, vary, shift, etc.Vide Horatii 
                    carmen II:16: quid terras alio calentis sole 
                    mutamus? (cur in terras alio sole calentes 

aut ille centum nōbilem Crētam urbibus
     ventīs ītūrus nōn suīs
     Ille—aut Crētam, centum urbibus 
     nōbilem, ventīs nōn suīs, ītūrus—
        DNunc ille vel in Cretam centum 
        urbibus claram fugit adversis ventis; 
               centum nobilem Cretam urbibus: Homerus Cretam 
                   “centum urbibus nobilem” (τη ἐκατόμπολισ 
                  Κρήτη) appellavit.

exercitātās aut perit Syrtīs Notō,
     aut fertur incertō mari.
     aut Syrtīs Notō exercitātās petit—
     aut [in] mari incertō fertur.
        Dvel ad Syrtes Austro vexatas; vel 
        errat anceps per maria. 
               Syrtis: pars periculousa in Lybico mari
              Noto: vento meridionali

capāciorēs adfer huc, puer, scyphōs
     et Chia vina aut Lesbia:
     [O] Puer, scyphōs capāciorēs et 
     vina Chia aut Lesbia huc adfer 
        DFamule, huc affer cyathos majores, 
        et vina Chia, vel Lesbia; 
               et Chia vina aut Lesbia: id est vina ex in mari 
                    Aegaeo insulis Chia et Lesbia.

vel quod fluentem nauseam coerceat check
     mētire nobis Caecubum” measure out
     nobis metire—vel Caecubum, quod 
     nauseam fluentem coerceat. 
        Dquin potius infunde nobis Cæcubum, 
        quod reprimat nauseam fluitantem.
                nauseam: ex ναυσία (ναυς, id est: navis), in 
                    nave aeger, morbidus.
cūram metumque Caesaris rerum iuvat
     dulci Lyaeō solvere. care & fear
     Iuvat rerum metumque Caesaris 
     Lyaeō dulci solvere!
        DCertè decet abstergere solicitudinem 
        ac formidinem pro rebus Augusti 
       bibendo suave vinum.
                Lyaeo: Baccho; Lyaeus (ex λυω: solvo) est is qui 
                    curas solvit, qui animos relaxat. 

:: 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, September 17, 2014

Bristling Waves :: Mala Soluta Navis :: Epode 10

Horace uses a lot of colorful words in this epode of, well, curses and pure hate for a guy—perhaps a fellow poet—named Mevius. Not much is known about Mevius, if he even existed at all. He is mentioned briefly in Virgil’s Ecologues. Perhaps Mevius was an invention of either Virgil or Horace, a kind of symbolic bad poet the two paragons of literature could shower with hate and abuse. Virgil speaks directly to Mevius in his Ecologues, chapter III:90, when his character Menalcas says: 

Qui Bavium non odit, amet tua carmina, Mevi,
atque idem iugat vulpes et mulgeat hircos.

Let him who doesn’t hate Bavius love your poems, Mevius,
and let him likewise yoke foxes and milk billy goats.

Oddly Mevius doesn’t answer. Oddly we know nothing about Mavius. Was he a poet, too? Was the whole set of Eclogues addressed to Mevius? I doubt it.  

But back to the colorful words used in today’s epode: 

mari inverso: in an upturned sea 
latus verbere: lashing the side
horridis fluctibus: with horrid waves, bristling? ones like in this famous Japanese woodcut by Hokusai done in the early nineteenth century:

impiam ratem: godless raft because Ajax had raped Cassandra in Pallas Athena's sanctuary as shown here:

pallor luteus: a weed-yellow pallor
non virilis eiulatio: a not manly warbling
opima praeda: fat or rich booty or the prey of an animal caught or killed. Interestingly, I have just come across the same two words in Apuleius’ Golden Ass (Book VIII, chap. V): . . . tam opimam praedam mediis manibus amittimus? I have found two translations, one says this means ‘rich prize,’ the other ‘rich prey.’ As for Nial Rudd’s translation of the epode in the Loeb series, he offers us ‘fat carcase.’ I suppose that we have to make a decision here: either Horace wants Mevius dead and ‘opima praeda’ means his ‘rich corpse,’ or Horace just wants a guy named Mevius, who could just as well be, for all we know, a merchant, to be financially ruined as his rich cargo is scattered by the raging sea upon the shore. If praeda means ‘booty,’ then perhaps I should let ‘booty’ suffice, since it now has two meanings in American English: ‘rich spoils’ and ‘fat ass!”  
libidinosus caper: a lustful he goat
immolabitur: will be dusted with sacred meal just before being sacrificed. 
Tempestatibus: to the goddesses who control the weather (who haven’t paid a bit of attention to me this hot day in Honolulu)

But I’m still worried about Mevius. Was he real or not? If he was a poet, are Virgil and Horace trying to say that Latin poetry has high standards and that not anyone can aspire to their heights? My question is: why didn’t Virgil and Horace just brush him aside as one would a pesky fly? Why this epode? Something is missing in this story, something lost to us now two thousand years years down the line.

Perhaps. But it is possible that Horace used the name Mevius because it fit the meter and, beginning with a nasal (m), seemed to reinforce the image of an oily, smelly guy who merited no good wishes as his ship left port:

mala soluta navis exit alite, 
ferens olentem Mevium

Translation ::

Rope-freed, the ship went out 
under an evil bird,
bearing foul Mevius.
Remember to lash at 
both sides with bristling waves, 
south wind.

May the luckless east wind 
scatter, on an up-turned sea, 
the ship’s ropes and smashed oars. 
May the north wind rise up—
as it does in the high 
mountains and shatters 
the tremendous oaks.
May no-friend star appear, 
night dark, when Orion,
sad, sets. May the poet
be borne upon a sea 
quieter than the one that
carried the Greek band of
victors, when Pallas turned
her ire from Illium 
burned toward Ajax’s godless

Oh, how much sweat will stand
upon your sailors and how
weed yellow your pallor!
And that unmanly warble,
the prayers to Jove adverse,
when the Ionian 
Gulf growling from wet wind
from the south breaks your ship

But if your fat booty
spread out on the curved shore
gladdens the birds,
a lustful goat and a
lamb will be slain to the

translation © 2014 by James Rumford

Original words ::
    Prose rendition ::
      DDelphin Ordo :: 
          Notes ::

1 Malā solūta nāvis exit ālite
      ferens olentem Maevium:
       Nāvis solūta, Maevium olentem
       ferens, alite malā exit.
         DNavis abit soluta portu infelici auspicio, 
         vehens fætentem Mævium.
         Maevium: Mevius erat homo quidam aut poeta ineptus 
               Virgilii contemporaneus.

ut horridīs utrumque verberēs latus,
     Auster, mementō fluctibus;
      Auster, mementō ut latus utrumque
      fluctibus horridīs verberēs.
         DAuster fac ut tetris fluctibus vexes 
         utrumque latus navis.
           Auster: ventus est qui ab meridie flat
               verberes: in subjunctivo ex verbero/verberavi

5niger rudentıs Eurus inversō mari
     refractōsque rēmōs differat;
       Eurus niger, inversō mari, rudentēs
       rēmōsque refractōs differat.
         DEurus ater mari perturbato despergat 
         funes et remos disruptos.
           Eurus: ventus est qui ab oriente flat

insurgat Aquilo, quantus altīs montibus
     frangit trementıs īlices;
       Aquilo insurgat—quantus montibus altīs
       ilicēs trementēs frangit
         DExsurgat Aquilo tam vehemens, quàm cum 
         frangit ilices in excelsis montibus concussas.
           Aquilo: ventus est qui ab septentrione flat
nec sīdus atrā nocte amīcum appāreat,
     quā tristis Ōrīon cadit;
       nec sīdus amīcum nocte atrā appāreat,
       quā Ōrīon tristis cadit.
         DNec propitium ullum affulgeat astrum nocte 
         obscurâ quâ Orion occidit.
           Orion: sidus est qui tempus malum in mense Novembris

11quiētiōre nec ferātur aequore
     quam Grāia victōrum manus,
       nec [in] aequore quiētiōre quam manus
       Grāia victōrum ferātur,
         DNec tranquilliore mari naviget quàm 
         exercitus Græcorum victor,
           Graia: Graeca. Ludovicus Desprez scribit: 
              “Ad Caphareum Eubœæ promontorium dijecta 
              classis Græcorum tempestatibus tantàm non tota 
              periit, cùm reverterentur post expugnatam Trojam.” 

cum Pallas ustō vertit īram ab Īliō
     in impiam Āiācis ratem.
       cum Pallas īram ab Īliō ustō
       in ratem impiam Āiācis vertit.
         Dquando Minerva ab incensâ Trojâ 
         iram convertit in sceleratam Ajacis navim. 
            Pallas: dea Minerva (Athena). Aiax Cassandram in ara 
            Palladis (Athenae) violavit et rapuit. Ira commota, 
            Pallas e Neptuno auxilium petivit, et Neptunus Aiacem 
            e navi in scopulum iniecit, et Aiax nectus est. 

15o quantus instat nāvītīs sudor tuīs
     tibique pallor lūteus
       o quantus sudor nāvītīs tuīs instat—
       tibique pallor lūteus,
         DO quantus sudor imminet tuis nautis; 
         tibi verò pallor flavus,
et illa nōn virīlis ēiulātio
     precēs et adversum ad Iovem,
       et illa ēiulātio nōn virīlis et
       precēs ad Iovem adversum.
         Datque ejulatio viro indigna, et 
         vota ad Jovem surdum; 

19Īōnius ūdō cum remūgiens sinus
     Notō carīnam rūperit.
       cum Sinus Īōnius Notō ūdō remūgiens
       carīnam rūperit.
         Dcùm murmurans Ionium mare fregerit 
         navim Austro humido!
           Ionius: Ludovicus Desprez scribit: “Ionium mare inter Epirum ac Peloponnesum
                 ab ortu, et magnam Græciam Siciliamque ab ocasu
              Noto: Notus est ventus australis.
                 ruperit: ex rumpo
opīma quodsi praeda curvō lītore
     porrecta mergōs iuverit,
      Quodsi praeda opīma [in] lītore curvō
      porrecta mergōs iuverit
         DQuod si tu in curvo littore jacens 
         pascas mergos, opimum spolium,

libīdinōsus immolābitur caper
     et agna Tempestātibus.
       caper libīdinōsus immolābitur
       (et agna) Tempestātibus.
         Dà me procellis sacrificabitur lascivus 
         hircus, et nigra ovicula.
           Tempestatibus: Tempestates erant deae tempestatis et
                   erat Romae templum eis dedicatum

:: 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.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Guy Talk :: Mollis Inertia :: Epode 14

[Heri erat dies quintus natalis huius blog (horum commentariorum interretialium)! 50,000 visitatores forsitan lectores! Ago vobis gratias omnibus.]

Maecenas was Horace’s benefactor, protector, the rich, well-connected guy who made it possible for Horace to rise to the top. In this poem, Horace, tells Maecenas that he’s having a bit of a problem getting some writing done. Why?

Well, to put it as a guy-friend once told me about why a married friend of mine wasn’t doing his work: “He’s having women problems….if I saw him, I’d know it in a heartbeat.” 

I never found out whether my friend was having ‘women problems’ or not, but I do remember the conversation. I was way younger then and naive. Don’t know if I’ve learned much in the intervening years. Probably not, since I had to do a considerable amount of thinking to understand this poem.

For one thing, Horace calls out: deus, deus. He doesn’t mention the god’s name, but every scholar assumes that this is the god of love. When you think about it, who else could it be? And here is Eros or Cupid as painted by Caravaggio:

In this epode, Horace isn’t talking about love in general terms. He is talking about a specific kind of love, the kind of love he wants from a freedwoman named Phryne, who is never satisfied with just one lover. And Horace is talking about the kind of love that comes from cheating on one’s wife—to put it in American terms—when he hints that Maecenas is having an affair…at least, I suppose Maecenas is having an affair. It couldn’t be that he is burning with passion for his wife. No, marital love was yet another kind of love.

Now, Horace, in exemplifying passionate love, mentions the Greek lyric poet Anacreon (582-485 BC) and his love for the boy Bathyllus. To Horace, I suppose, homosexual love and heterosexual love are, well, just love, blinding love. Some of my contemporaries are having trouble with this equation. The ancients, it seems, did not.

But what if Horace wasn’t suffering from love? What if this poem is a humorous poke at those who do—a jab at the very notion of what constitutes a bona fide excuse? We do not accept ‘the dog ate my homework’ but we do accept ‘my computer crashed’ or ‘we’re having trouble with the internet.’ And we men certainly understand the stuff Horace is talking about. This epode, I figured after much thought, is no more than just ‘guy talk.’ 

Translation ::

Soft inertia—why would it
pour so much forgetfulness
onto my deepest feelings
as if I—throat parched—had downed
sleep-bringing cups from death’s stream.
True-friend Maecenas, you are
killing me always asking.
God Eros, Eros, he is 
stopping me from winding up 
the song-poem promised some time 
ago, the iambs begun.
No different from the talk
about Bathyllus Samus
having burned Anacreon 
of Teius, who with his lyre 
kept crying over his love 
in unregulated verse.
You poor thing are burning up—
but if a fire no nicer
burned down beseiged Illium,
be happy with your fortune.
Me the freedwoman Phryne,
not happy with just one man,
is turning into mush.

translation © 2014 by James Rumford

Original Epode with Aids to Understanding ::

     Original epode
    Reordered in prose
    DDelphin Ordo

Mollis inertia cūr tantam diffūderit imīs
        oblīviōnem sensibus
           Inertia mollis cūr tantam oblīviōnem 
           sensibus imīs diffūderit
              DOptime Mæcenas, interficis me
              quærendo sæpius quare otiosa 
                diffuderit: ex diffundo
                   cf. Perché una noia snervante m’abbia 
                   diffuso dentro, in fondo al cuore, 
                   tanto oblio,  

pocula Lēthaeōs ut sī dūcentia somnōs
        arente fauce traxerim,
           ut sī pocula somnōs Lēthaeōs dūcentia, 
           fauce arente, traxerim,
              Dintimis præcordiis induxerit talem 
              oblivionem, velut si gutture sitibundo
                Lethaeos: Lethe flumen erat, dare alicui
                    oblivium habens. 

candide Maecēnas, occidis saepe rogandō;
        deus, deus, nam mē vetat
           candide Maecēnas, occidis saepe rogandō; 
           nam deus, deus mē vetat
              Dhauserim aquas Letæas soporem 
              conciliantes. Enimverò Deus, Deus, 
              inquam, me prohibet 
                 Maecenas: patronus artium, Horatii amicus
                 deus: amoris deus, id est vel Cupido vel Eros

inceptōs, ōlim prōmissum carmen, iambōs
        ad umblīcum addūcere.
           iambōs inceptōs, carmen ōlim prōmissum, 
           ad umbilīcum addūcere.
              Dinchoatum carmen Iambicum jam 
              pridem tibi promissum ad finem 
                  umbilicum: finem libri. Umbilicus erat nodus 
                    extremus bacilli circum quod liber volvebatur.

nōn aliter Samiō dīcunt arsisse Bathyllō
        Anacreonta Tēium
           nōn aliter dīcunt Anacreonta Tēium 
           Samiō Bathyllō arsisse,
              DSimili modo narrant Bathylli Samii 
              amore incensum fuisse Anacreontem 
                 Samio Bathyllo: Samus est insula in Aegaeo orientali sita.
                 Bathyllo: Bathyllus est puer Samius
                 Anacreonta Teium: Anacreōn poeta Tēius, id est, ex 
                    oppidō Īōniō Teiō

quī persaepe cavā testūdine flēvit amorem
        nōn ēlabōrātum ad pedem.
           quī amorem persaepe testūdine cavā amorem 
           nōn ad pedem ēlabōrātum flēvit.
              Dqui sæpe lyrâ amores cecinit ad 
              metrum facile.

ūreris ipse miser: quodsī nōn pulcrior ignis
        accendit obsessam Īlion,
           Miser ipse ūreris: quodsī ignis nōn pulcrior 
           Īlion obsessam accendit,
              Ipse verò tu amore cruciaris. Quòd si 
              non formosior ignis cremavit Trojam 

gaude sorte tuā; mē lībertīna, nec unō
        contenta, Phrȳnē mācerat.
           sorte tuā gaude; Phrȳnē lībertīna, 
           nec unō contenta, mē mācerat.
              Dlætare de tuâ conditione. Nam 
              urit me Phryne libertina, uno 
              amatore minimè contenta.

:: 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.