Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Poetic Insolence :: Epode XVII

This poem is divided into two parts. In part one Horace apologizes to a witch named Canidia for being so nasty to her. In part two, the witch answers with appropriate arrogance. To me, Horace has created a perfect set up in this poem to talk about himself. 

Why would I say this? Because, in reading and rereading this poem, I sometimes got confused—especially in the second part. “Who’s talking here?” I’d ask myself. “Is it Horace or Canidia?”

In part two, it is clear that Canidia is doing the talking when she says, using a very descriptive Latin idiomatic expression:

Quid obseratis auribus fundis preces?
Why are you prayer-seeding the depths of my ears?

But when she tells Horace that she can make wax images move, raise the dead, call the moon out of the sky, and mix up love potions, I think: Horace has said he can do this too—not with magic but with the power of poetry. And when she says that the world will yield to her insolentia, a word that can mean anything from insolence to unusual behavior and just plain weirdness, I think of Horace’s quirkiness and I think of his famous ‘non omnis moriar.’ And finally when she doesn’t give a damn if she has no effect on a critic, I recall Horace’s ‘invidiaque maior urbis relinquam (II:20; my blog of Oct 23, ’09). In short, Horace has been very clever in Epode 17—very tongue-in-cheek, and I enjoyed the poem for that.

This epode also revealed a grammar point that I think is worth noting: relative pronouns can act as subjects of the sentence. They help link what you want to say with what you've already said.

Quis autem librum lexit.
And he read the book.

In conversation, we might be able to say something like

And who read the book.

But we would have a hard time getting away with such a construction in writing. Romans, however, had no such qualms. Caesar's Bello Hispaniensi is filled with sentences that begin with relative pronouns, for example….so is the Vulgate Bible. Now with that in mind, take a look at the mess that begins on line 76 of today's ode. An is a question marker, but what is the meaning of quae? It could be feminine or neuter plural. The key is finding a verb that it governs.

an quae movere cereas imagines,
ut ipse nosti curiosus, et polo
deripere lunam vocibus possim meis,
possim crematos excitare mortuos
desiderique temperare pocula.

And isn’t it I who can move waxen images,
as curious you know, and from the sky
rip away with my words the moon,
can raise up the cremated dead
and mix up cups ‘o love.

What?! quae possim?  That's right. Quae here stands for 'and I….can.' Very tricky. Very Latin-y. Very Pater noster qui es which produces the very difficult 'our Father, who art' in English church-ese. I suppose the important thing to remember is that a relative pronoun is still a relative pronoun: it relates to something that came before and can stand, not just for the third person (he, she, it, they) but for the first person (I, we) and the second person (you) as well.

Here are some exercises I made up.

Substitute a pronoun for the relative pronoun.
Qui autem librum lexit. > Ille autem librum lexit.
1  Qui autem libros suos lexerunt.
2  Qui libros legere possumus.
3  Quae librum legere vis.
4  Quae enim civem custodiunt.

Change the pronoun to an appropriate relative pronoun.
Vos in agris laboravastis. > Qui in agris laboravastis.
1  Nos autem iter fecimus.
2  Ea enim non volebat manducare.
3  Tu epistolam scribere vis.
4  Hi autem pecuniam custodiunt.

I have decided to change the format in this posting. I have combined the original text with my prose rewording. It might make it easier to read the original with an occasional glance at the reworded sentence, if only to get one’s bearings. Also I have added explanatory notes and synonyms of difficult Latin words, hoping that the notes and synonyms themselves are not too difficult.

Translation ::

Now, now I yield to science that works,
and bowed, I pray by Prosepina’s reign,
and by Diana, a goddess not to be riled,
and by books of incantations powerful
in calling down the sky-fixed stars,
o Canidia, spare then your sacred voice;
turn back, back the swift sorcerer’s wheel.
Telephus moves the Nereian grandson,
he’d ordered Mysoran troops against and
in whom he’d twisted a sharp weapon:
Illian mothers mourned him given up to wild
winged things and dogs—the killer Hector,
when the king, leaving the walls, fell down—
o God!—at the feet of Achilles the obstinate:
the skin on arms and legs, hog-bristle-rough,
they stripped off—those oarsmen of labor-beset 
Ulysses, as Circes was willing, with mind and 
voice and honor returning to their faces.
I have given you—much loved by sailors and 
pedlars—more than enough troubles:
my youth has fled, any shade of modesty as well.
What remains? bones wrapped in sallow skin,
hair white from your perfumed potions;
no rest from my laboring lays me down;
night follows day, day night, no easing
my chest, straining with [each] breath
Denial you say? Poor me—lost, thus 
I believe Sabellian chants weaken the heart,
and Marsian songs make the head explode.
What more do you want? Sea and land, I’m afire
more than Hercules, smeared in Ness’s black gore,
than a Sicilian flame in blazing Etna. You are, 
aren’t you, a workshop with Colchian poisons aflame 
until I, dry ash, am carried off by criminal winds?
What’s the finale or what do I have left to pay?
Speak: order me to pay the penalty in good faith,
I’m ready to make good, even were you to ask
a hundred cattle or to want to be extolled
on a harmless lyre: “thou chaste, thou fair, 
thou star—thou walkest among the stars golden.”
Castor and his big brother, for a monstrous 
offense to Helen,  but won over by a prayer, 
gave the poet back the eyes they had taken.
And you, for you can free me of madness,
O you—no trash from low-class parents,
no wise old woman to scatter the nine-day 
ashes in the graves of the poor,
you have a welcoming heart and pure hands,
and from your womb—Pactumeius, and the midwife
washes the cloths red with your blood.
How strong you bounce back after giving birth!
¶“Why do you sow the depths of my ears with prayers—
rocks no more deafening to poor sailors when
Winter's Neptune beats them with a lead-white sea?
How is it you laugh unpunished for sharing
the Cotytia, the rite of free love,
and, as some pontiff of the sorcerers' Esquiline,
how is it you blithely fill the City with my name?
What good did it do me enriching the Paelignian hags
or mixing a faster-acting poison? 
But a death slower than your prayers awaits you.
You'll have to live a disagreeable life in this misery
as you keep exposing yourself to new hardships.
The father of unfaithful Pelops desires rest,
Tantalus's ever in need of a damn good meal,
Prometheus, bound to a bird, has desires,
Sisyphus desires to set that rock
down on the hill’s tip-top, but Jove’s laws forbid it.
You’ll want at times to jump from high towers,
At times to open up your chest with a Noric sword,
And for fun with your chains you’ll bind your neck,
you—sad, disgusting ball of nerves.
I shall be carried then my enemy's shoulders—a knight,
and the earth will yield to my weirdness.
And isn’t it I who can move waxen images,
as curious you know, and from the sky
rip away with my words the moon,
can raise up the cremated dead
and mix up cups ‘o love. Should I weep
if my artistry has no effect on you?

translation ©2014 by James Rumford

Original Text + Reordered into Prose ::

Iam iam efficaci do manūs scientiae,
     Iam iam scientiae efficaci manūs do, 
     scientiae efficaci: scientiae magicae potenti 
manus do: cedo
supplex et oro regna per Proserpinae,
     et supplex per regna Proserpinae oro,
supplex: submissus
Prosperina: coniunx Plutonis, dea Graeca Persephone
per et Dianae non movenda numina,
     et per numina non movenda Dianae,
Diana: dea silvae, lunae, etc.
non movenda numina: potestates divinae quae tibi non sunt irritanda.
per atque libros carminum valentium
     atque per libros carminum valentium
valentium: fortium
refixa caelo devocare sidera,
     ‹sidera [in] caelo refixa› devocare, 
       (sidera refixa [ex] caelo devocare)
Canidia, parce vocibus tandem sacris,
     o Canidia, vocibus sacris tandem parce,
Canidia: mala mulier, venefica, etc.
tandem: denique, postremo
citumque retro solve, solve turbinem.
     turbinemque citum retro solve, solve.
turbo: rota, rhombus magicus
movit nepotem Telephus Nereium,
     Telephus movit nepotem Nereium,
Telephus: rex Mysiae in Asia Minore, filius Herculis, in Troia vulneratus ac ab hastā Achillei sanatus 
nepotem Nereium: Achilles Nereius, id est, filius Neredis, filiae Oceani Tethidisque
in quem superbus ordinarat agmina
     in quem [ille] superbus ordina[ve]rat agmina
Mysorum et in quem tela acuta torserat:
     Mysorum et in quem tela acuta torserat:
luxere matres Iliae addictum feris
     matres Iliae ‹Hectorem homicidam alitibus feris
luxere: luxerunt
addictum: traditum, datum
feris alitibus: avibus saevis 
alitibus atque canibus homicidam Hectorem,
     atque canibus addictum› luxer[unt],
postquam relictis moenibus rex procidit
     postquam rex, moenibus relictis (Heu!),
procidit: cecidit infra, in terra
heu pervicacis ad pedes Achillei:
     ad pedes Achillei pervicacis procidit:
pervicacis: obstinati
saetosa duris exuere pellibus
     Circā volente, remiges Ulixei
saetosa: pilosa; saeta: crinis, e.g., saetae porci
exuere: destrinxerunt, deterserunt,  
laboriosi remiges Ulixei
     laboriosi membra saetosa  
volente Circā membra; tunc mens et sonus
       pellibus duris exuer[unt]; tunc mens [relapsa] et sonus 
relapsus atque notus in vultus honor.
     relapsus atque honor notus in vultus [eorum relapsus].
vultus: in sensu collectivo vultus neutrum est.
            cf. et retrouvèrent l’esprit et la voix et le visage accoutumés (Leconte de Lisle)
dedi satis superque poenarum tibi,
     Tibi, satis superque poenarum dedi,
satis superque: plusquam satis, abunde, nimium
dedisatis poenarum tibi: abs te satis punitus sum: hic sensus verbi “poena” est “satisfactio propter damna.”     
amata nautis multum et institoribus:
     [o dea] nautis et institoribus multum amata:
institoribus: venditoribus 
fugit iuventas et verecundus color
     iuventas fugit et color verecundus
reliquit ossa pelle amicta lurida;
     ossa pelle luridā amicta reliquit;
amicta: involuta, circumdata
tuis capillus albus est odoribus;
     capillus odoribus tuis albus est;
odoribus: hic sensus odoris dicitur veneficium aut odor veneficio mixtus.     
nullum ab labore me reclinat otium;
     nullum otium ab labore me reclinat;
urget diem nox et dies noctem, neque est
      nox diem urget et dies noctem, neque est 
levare tenta spiritu praecordia. 
    levare [cum] spiritū praecordia tenta.
ergo negatum vincor ut credam miser,
     Ergo vincor ut [ego] miser negatum credam:
negatum: rem negatam, id quod negaveram
Sabella pectus macerare carmina
     carmina Sabella pectus macerare 
Sabella: ex gente Sabina, artis magicae et incantationum peritā
caputque Marsa dissilire nenia.
     neniaque Marsa caput dissilire.
Marsa: ex gente in Latio, etiam incantationum peritā
dissilire: displodere, erumpere
quid amplius vis? o mare et terra, ardeo
     Quid amplius vis? O mare et terra, ardeo
quantum neque atro delibutus Hercules
     quantum neque Hercules cruore atro
quantum neque: non sicut
Nessi cruore nec Sicana fervidā
      Nessi delibutus nec flamma Sicana
Nessi: Nessus erat centauri, Hercule occisus
Sicana: Siciliensis
The key to understanding nec Sicāna fervidā virens in Aetnā flamma is to know that the meter requires that flamma end in a short a, making it nominative. Thus the phrase sounds like this: neeec Sicaaana feeervidaaa viiiireeens in Aetnaaa flaaamma
virens in Aetnā flamma: tu, donec cinis
      in Aetnā fervidā virens; donec
virens: viridis, recens. Quoniam flamma non est viridis, videmus in aliquot manuscriptis urens, furens.
cinis -eris: cinis mortui usti
iniuriosis aridus ventis ferar,
      [ego] aridus ventis iniuriosis ferar,
iniuriosis: nefast, criminalibus, non iuriosis.
calēs venēnīs officina Colchicīs?
      tu, officina venēnīs Colchicīs, calēs?
officina: fabrica
Colchicus: unus ex gente litoris Ponti Euxini in montibus Georgiae, artis magicae et venena factionis peritā
quae finis aut quod me manet stipendium?
    Quae finis aut quod stipendium me manet?
quae finis: locutio poetica pro quis finis
effāre: iussas cum fide poenas luam,
     Effāre: iussas cum fide poenas luam,
poenas luam: poenas expendam,
paratus expiare, seu poposceris
     paratus expiare, seu centum iuvencos
centum iuvencos, sive mendaci lyrā
     poposceris, sive lyrā mendaci
mendaci: non verā; puto sensum esse: ‘lyra mea errat; menditur quia non potest te accurate describere; ergo lyra mea est innoxia.’
voles sonari, tu pudica, tu proba
       sonari voles, tu pudica, ‹tu proba
perambulabis astra sidus aureum.
     astra› sidus aureum perambulabis.
infamis Helenae Castor offensūs vice[m]
     Castor ‹‹offensūs infamis› Helenae vice[m]››
        vice(m): ob, propter
fraterque magni Castoris, victī prece,
    fraterque Castoris magni, prece victi,
adempta vati reddidere lumina:
    lumina vati adempta reddider[unt].
adempta: erepta
         vati: poetae, qui est Stesichorus, qui Helenam, sororem Castoris Pollūcisque diffamaverant et ob hoc crimen, fratres duo oculos poetae eriperunt; sed postea oculos precibus restituerunt.
lumina: oculos
et tu, potes nam, solve me dementiā,
     Et tu, nam potes, dementiā me solve!
o nec paternis obsoleta sordibus,
    O [tu] nec-obsoleta-paternis-sordibus,
obsoleta: res contaminatae et dedecores
neque in sepulcris pauperum prudens anus
    o tu] neque anus prudens in sepulcris pauperum
novendialıs dissipare pulveres.
    pulveres novendialıs dissipare.
novendialis: nonum dies (post mortem alicuius)
tibi hospitale pectus et purae manūs,
    Tibi pectus hospitale et manūs purae [sunt],
tuusque venter Pactumeius, et tuo
     tuusque venter Pactumeius, et 
venter: fructus uteri
            Pactumeius: Canidiae filius [Porphyrionis Commentarium: Cum per ironiam et haec dicantur, vult intellegi illam Pactumeium, qui filius eius existimabatur, subposuisse sibi, non peperisse. Acronis Commentarium: Subpositicius filius aut adoptivus. Nomen eius, quem sibi filium esse dicebat. Supra enim subpositi partus ream fecit. Ventrem autem posuit pro partu.) 
cruore rubros obstetrix pannos lavit,
     obstetrix pannos rubros cruore tuo lavit,
utcumque fortis exsilis puerpera.
      utcumque puerpera fortis exsilis.
¶“Quid obseratis auribus fundīs precēs?
     ¶“Quid [tu] precēs auribus fundīs obseratis?
non saxa nudis surdiora navitis
     Neptunus hibernus saxa navitīs nudīs
            nudīs: tristibus, egentibus, destitutīs, 
Neptunus albo tundit hibernus salo.
     surdiora [in] salo albo non tundit.
inultus ut tu riseris Cotytia
     Ut tu inultus Cotytia vulgata riseris,
Cotytia / Cotyttia: sacra Cotytūs, deae Thracae, Bacchii orgiis similia
vulgata, sacrum liberi Cupidinis,
       sacrum liberi Cupidinis,
et Esquilini pontifex venefici
     et ut pontifex venefici Esquilini
        Esquilini: unus ex montibus Romae, locus autem strigarum et sepulcreti vel coemeterii
impune ut Urbem nomine impleris meo?
     impune Urbem nomine meo impleris?
quid proderat ditasse Paelignas anus,
     Quid [me] proderat anūs Paelignas ditasse,
ditasse: ditem fecisse
Paeligna anus: striga, propterea quod Paeligni, Marsorum proximi, etiam veneficio periti erant.  
velociusve miscuisse toxicum?
     velociusve toxicum miscuisse?
sed tardiora fata te vōtīs manent:
     Sed ‹fata vōtīs [tuīs] tardiora› te manent:
ingrata misero vita ducenda est in hoc,
      vita ingrata ducenda est in hoc misero,
novis ut usque suppetas laboribus.
      ut usque laboribus novis suppetas.
usque suppetas: semper mânes, perpetuas
optat quietem Pelopis infidi pater,
      Pater Pelopis infidi quietem optat,
Pelopis pater: Tantalus
egens benignae Tantalus semper dapis,
      Tantalus dapis benignae semper egens,
optat Prometheus obligatus aliti,
      Prometheus aliti obligatus optat,
optat supremo collocare Sisyphus
      Sisyphus optat saxum in supremo monte
in monte saxum; sed vetant leges Iovis.
      collocare; sed leges Iovis vetant.
voles modo altis desilire turribus,
     Modo voles turribus altis desilire,
modo ense pectus Norico recludere,
     modo pectus ense Norico recludere,
recludere: aperire
frustraque vincla gutturi nectes tuo,
     frustaque vinc[u]la gutturi tuo nectes,
fastidiosā tristis aegrimoniā.
      [tu] tristis aegrimoniā fastidiosā.
vectabor umeris tunc ego inimicis eques,
      Tunc ego-eques umeris inimicis vectabor;
meaeque terra cedet insolentiae.
      terraque insolentiae meae cedet.
an quae movere cereas imagines,
      An [ego] quae possim imagines cereas movere—
ut ipse nosti curiosus, et polo
      ut [tu] ipse curiosus nosti—et lunam
deripere lunam vocibus possim meis,
      polo vocibus meis deripere,
possim crematos excitare mortuos
      possim mortuos crematos excitare
desiderique temperare pocula,
     ‹poculaque desideri› temperare.
tempero: misceo / sunt qui dicunt sensum esse ‘informo, plasmo” vel “praeparo.”
plorem artis in te nil agentis exitūs?”
     ‹Exitūs artis nil in te agentis› plorem?”
nil agit: infructuosum, inane, sterile

Delphin Ordo ::

Jam cedo potenti scientiæ; veniam peto, et oro per regna Proserpinæ, et per numen Dianæ minimè lacessendum, et per codices incantationum vim habentium deducendi in terram astra cœlo abstracta, O, Canidia, tandem abstine verbis execrantibus, quàm primùm converte retrorsum, converte rhombum. Telephus exoravit nepotem Nerei, contra quem Mysorum exercitum superbus instruxerat, et sagittas acutas vibrarât.Trojanæ matronæ sepelièrunt Hectorem bellicosum feris volucribus et canibus damnatum postquam: rex urbe discedens advolvit se pedibus Achillis, eheu inexorabilis. Remiges Ulyssis laboribus exerciti setosos artus exuerint duris pellibus, concedente Circe; ac tum restituta sunt ratio, sermo et pristinus faciei decor. Abundè et plusculum à te sum punitus, ô dilecta valdè nautis et negotiatoribus. En juvenilis abiit vigor, et color purpureus deseruit ossa coöperta cute tabidà. Crines mei per tua pharmaca cani sunt facti: nulla me quies relaxat à pœnis. Nox premit diem, et dies noctem: necque licet recreare præcordia respiratione impeditâ. Itaque miser cogor credere quod negaram, nempe Sabellis incantationibus mentem dimoveri, et Marsorum carminibus caput disrupi. Quid ultra petis? O, mare, ac terra! flagro plusquam Hercules inuctus putrido guine, et plusquam Siculus ignis in ardente Ætnâ sæviens. Egòne tu fevebis officina venenorum Colchicorum, donec ego, sicca favilla, abripiar ventis injuriam facientibus? Quis terminus? vel quæ mulcta expectat me denique?  Loquere; fideliter exolvam pœnas quascunque imperaveris; expeditus ad satisfaciendum, sive petieris centum juvencos, seu volueris mendaci lyrâ à me decantari. Tu casta, tu bona inter sidera fulgebis astrum insigne. Castor et magni Castoris frater ob Helenæ infamiâ notatæ contumeliam irati, ademerant Poëtæ visum, quem ei resituerunt exorati precibus. Tu quoque (nam potes) insaniam depelle à me. O, nec turpis es ignobilitate majorum; nec vetula sciens dispergere cineres novendiales in sepulchris pauperum. Tibi cor bignigum; et manus innoxiæ; uterusque tuus partui aptus; atque obstetrix lavit pannos tuo sanguine rubros, quoties exurgis puerpera minimè debilis. Mare hyemale tumidis fluctibus haud verberat scopulos surdiores erga natas nudos. Scilicet  impunè tu deriseris Cotyttia mysteria revelata, amori libero consecrata? Et tanquam pontifex Esquilini incantamenti impleveris civitatem emo nome? Quid juvabit locupletasse vetulas Pelignas, aut violentius venenum parasse, si tibi mors accidit lentior, quàm cupis? Atqui vita misera infortunato protrahenda est tibi ad hoc tantùm, ut diutiùs novas ærumnas perpetuare. Tantalus Pelopis infidelis pater semper carens expetito cibo, requiem desiderat: poscit etiam Pometheus vulturi addictus. Sisyphus pariter cupit reponere lapidem in montis vertice. At non sinit edictum Jovis. Sic et tu cupies jam te dare præcipitem è celsis turribus; jam pectus confodere gladio Norico: quin etiam ægritudine tædiosâ mæstus collum tuum inseres laqueo, sed frustra. Ego verò tum infensis humeris inequitabo; orbisque vincetur audaciâ meâ. Numquid enimavero ego quæ valeo commovere cereas effigies, quemadmodum ipse curiosus observasti; quæque meis incatationibus devoco Lunam è cœlo; et combustis cadaveribus vitam reddere valeo, atque amatorias potiones conficere; nimirum defleam vannum exitum artis adversùm te inefficacis?

:: 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.